Eat to live, and not live to eat. - Benjamin Franklin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 71, Part I, 10 April 1995

We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. This part focuses on Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and
the CIS. Part II, distributed simultaneously as a second document,
covers East-Central and Southeastern Europe.  Back issues of the Daily
Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW
pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html

RUSSIA

RUSSIA'S CHOICE FOR ELECTORAL ASSOCIATION. The Russia's Choice political
council proposed creating a coalition of "democratic and centrist
organizations" for the upcoming parliamentary elections, Interfax
reported on 9 April. Although most Russia's Choice members broke with
President Boris Yeltsin in December over his handling of the Chechen
crisis, the council invited the president to "take an active part" in
forming the democratic electoral bloc. It advocated nominating only one
democratic, pro-reform candidate in each electoral constituency.
Meanwhile, State Duma deputy and Russia's Choice member Vladimir Ryzhkov
suggested the group hopes to cooperate with a broad range of political
forces during the campaign. Ryzhkov named Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin,
Yeltsin's Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais as
possible leaders of a democratic electoral association, Interfax
reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA DROPS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE FROM AGENDA. Duma Chairman Rybkin said the
no-confidence vote in the government had been dropped from the agenda at
the legislature's 7 April session, Interfax reported. The planned vote
was dropped after 31 deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal
Democratic Faction withdrew their support for the move. The deputies
dropped out because of disputes over several issues, including the vote
to deprive Sergei Mavrodi of his deputy's immunity and the introduction
of changes in the law on military service. The withdrawal of
Zhirinovsky's supporters meant the motion lost the necessary 90
signatures. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

STABILITY DEPUTY GROUP FORMS MOVEMENT. The new Stability faction in the
Duma has created a political movement called Stable Russia, Interfax
reported on 9 April. Eighty-eight delegates from 58 regions attended the
movement's founding conference in Moscow on 9 April. One source at the
conference told Interfax the movement's goal is "to find ways to solve
the cardinal problems of the country's future development and unite
efforts for the sake of general accord and the transformation of
Russia." Yeltsin's advisers helped set up the Stability parliamentary
faction to give the president more support in the Duma. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

FOUNDER OF AGRARIAN PARTY STABBED TO DEATH. Sergei Kushnyarov, a
founding member of the Agrarian Party, was stabbed to death on 6 April
at his home outside Moscow, Reuters reported the following day. A
spokesman for the police said it was probably a contract killing and
might have been connected with a commercial dispute. Kushnyarov was not
a member of parliament but remained active in the Agrarian Party. The
main Department of Internal Affairs of the Moscow region said on 7 April
that in the first quarter of 1995, the number of murders there had
increased by 30% over the same period of 1994, Interfax reported. Also
on 7 April, Maj.-Gen. Vasily Kuptsov of Moscow's criminal police said a
gang of contract killers suspected of murdering more than 40 people had
been rounded up, Russian and Western agencies reported. The 10-member
gang is from the Siberian city of Novokuznetsk; most of their victims
were businessmen or rival gang members. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MAVRODI'S WIFE TO RUN FOR DUMA SEAT. Yelena Mavrodi, the wife of MMM
investment company head and parliamentary deputy Sergei Mavrodi, will
run for the seat in the Kolomna constituency of Moscow Oblast formerly
represented by the late Sergei Skorochkin, who was assassinated in
February, Kommersant-Daily reported on 7 April. Yelena Mavrodi, a 25-
year-old former photo model, is the only woman among the 17 candidates
and the youngest contender. She must gather 5,250 signatures of support
before 17 April to register. Other prominent figures who have shown
interest in the seat include the "fascist" Alexei Vedenkin, Officers'
Union head Stanislav Terekhov, and cosmonaut German Titov. Also on 7
April, the Duma turned down a request by acting Prosecutor-General
Alexei Ilyushenko to lift Sergei Mavrodi's immunity and thus clear the
way for his prosecution on charges of tax evasion, Interfax reported. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA APPROVES LONGER CONSCRIPTION. On 7 April the State Duma passed
legislation that would extend the draft to two years from the present 18
months, Interfax reported. It will also require college graduates who
had received deferrals to serve one year as privates, while those
attending schools with military training will serve one year under
contract, after which they will be transferred to the reserves as
officers. The new rules will take effect on 1 October if they are passed
by the Federation Council and signed by the president. -- Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

NEW RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA. On 8 April, Russian troops took the
west Chechen town of Samashki, one of the last outposts of resistance,
after two days' bombardment in which hundreds of civilians were killed,
Russian and Western agencies reported. On 9 April, Russian tanks
launched an offensive against two other villages east of Grozny in
violation of an agreement that the population would expel supporters of
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in return for immunity from a Russian
attack, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

OVER 500 OFFICERS REFUSED CHECHNYA DUTY. Lt.-Gen. Yevgeny Vysotsky, who
heads the General Staff's personnel department, said on 7 April that 557
officers had refused to serve in Chechnya. He told ITAR-TASS they had
been dismissed from the service. Three former deputy defense ministers
who had criticized the fighting--generals Gromov, Mironov, and
Kondratev--were not among them, the agency added. Vysotsky said the most
common reason for the officers' reticence was a lack of confidence in
the personnel under their command. He branded that as "cowardice and
non-fulfillment of the oath of allegiance." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN TO CLEAN UP KOMI OIL SPILL. The World Bank said
on 7 April that it had concluded negotiations with the Russian
government on a $99 million emergency loan to help clean up oil spilled
last autumn from a ruptured pipeline in the northern republic of Komi,
Western agencies reported. The EBRD and the Komineft group, which uses
the pipeline, will contribute $25 million and $16 million respectively
to the project. A World Bank statement said about 730,000 barrels of oil
(about 100,000 tons) leaked from the pipeline last year and the spring
thaw could result in the contamination of rivers and water supplies. The
plan will involve building containment structures before the thaw to
keep the oil from spreading, continuing clean-up operations, and
tightening security around the pipeline. The bank warned the project is
unlikely to be completely successful but said partial success is better
than inaction. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT PLANS TO RAISE INCOME TAX. The government plans to raise
income taxes on individuals and lower company taxes, State Tax Service
head Vladimir Gusev told reporters on 7 April, according to Western
agencies. He said the tax burden on individuals was relatively low and
the rate for the highest earners should be raised to 50-60%. The current
rate is 12% on salaries of less than 10 million rubles, 20% for salaries
of 10-50 million rubles, and 30% for higher earners. Gusev also said
some foreign companies recently hit by a 38% excess wages tax on all
wages over 125,000 rubles a month would be given an extra six months in
which to pay. Foreign companies were outraged when the government
announced in March its intention to apply the tax retroactively to 1
January 1994 to foreign firms with representative offices in Russia.
Subsidiaries of foreign firms and joint ventures had always been subject
to the tax, but representative offices had been exempt. Gusev agreed the
tax is undesirable but said it will be kept in place until next year. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

IRAN CUT OUT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL DEAL? Iran News has alleged that
Azerbaijan's national oil concern SOCAR, which had sold 25% of its own
stake in the Caspian Sea oil drilling project to Iran's National Oil
Company (NIOC) last February, has reneged on its promise, AFP reported
on 8 April. The stake is portion of the total shares held by an
international consortium led by British Petroleum and Norway's Statoil
and including U.S., Saudi, Russian, and Turkish interests. The Iranian
paper termed the move a "hostile gesture" and accused leaders in
Azerbaijan of having "pocketed U.S. dollars" to push NIOC aside. It went
on to say that Iran could be prompted to stop backing Baku in its
territorial conflict with Armenia and could oppose the project on legal
grounds by arguing that the exploitation of the Caspian Sea resources
requires the approval of all littoral states, as Russia has argued.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, without elaborating, told
the official Iranian news agency IRNA that "the unilateral cancellation
of the oil agreement between Iran and Azerbaijan was against Baku's
interest," Western news agencies reported on 10 April. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

WORST FIGHTING OF YEAR IN TAJIKISTAN. The heaviest fighting so far in
1995 occurred 7 April in several areas along the Tajik-Afghan border,
Interfax reported. On 7 April, 14 Kazakh and five Tajik border guards
were killed in a six-hour battle. Tajik opposition forces attempted to
cross from Afghanistan into the Pyanj, Moskovsky, Yazgulyam, and Khorog
areas. At the Dashti-Yazgulem border post, near Khorog, four Russian
soldiers were killed in fighting on 9 April, AFP reported. The Tajik
government appealed to the UN and the CIS to take emergency measures to
stabilize the problem on the border, according to Reuters. -- Bruce
Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

ATTACKS ON RUSSIAN FACILITIES IN TBILISI. The Algeti Wolves, a hitherto
unknown group, opened fire on Russian military headquarters in Tbilisi
in the early morning of 9 April to protest the Russian military
intervention in Chechnya, the attack on Georgian demonstrators in
Tbilisi on 9 April 1989, and the recently signed agreement on Russian
military bases in Georgia, Russian and Western agencies reported. Also
on 9 April, unknown attackers blew up the guard post outside the Russian
ambassador's residence in Tbilisi. The Georgian government, in a
statement broadcast by Radio Tbilisi, condemned the incident as a
"terrorist attack." -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

SUHARTO IN UZBEKISTAN. As part of a six-day tour of Central Asia aimed
at increasing trade and cooperation, Indonesian President Suharto,
accompanied by a 160-strong entourage including some 26 businessmen,
arrived in Tashkent on 8 April, Russian and Western agencies reported.
The same day, Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Suharto signed a
declaration on bilateral cooperation in tourism and air communication,
Interfax reported on 9 April. The deal will permit Uzbekistan Airways to
open a Tashkent-Jakarta link next month, as planned, paving the way for
more commercial contact and for Indonesian pilgrims to visit various
holy sites in Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

DUMA WOULD HALT BLACK SEA TRANSFERS. The State Duma passed a bill on 7
April that calls for a moratorium on any reduction of the Black Sea
Fleet "until problems between Russia and Ukraine over the fleet are
resolved, Interfax reported. The law will also apply to coastal defense
units and the fleet's aviation as well as the fleet's shore-based
infrastructure. The Federation Council must still act on the measure. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA TO DEBATE SEVASTOPOL'S STATUS. The State Duma backed a proposal by
deputy Alexei Zvyagin of the Liberal Democratic Party to debate the
legality of Sevastopol's transfer to Ukraine, Interfax reported on 7
April. Zvyagin also proposed debating the introduction of sanctions
against Ukraine, holding a no-confidence vote in First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets for his policies towards Ukraine, and asking
President Yeltsin to cancel his plans to visit Ukraine. None of the
motions passed. The following day, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Henadii
Udovenko told Interfax that while he thought Russian interests in Crimea
should be discussed, he is opposed to a Duma debate on Sevastopol's
status. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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