Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 72, Part I, 11 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

FILATOV SAYS YELTSIN'S STAFF PREPARING FOR CAMPAIGN. Presidential Chief
of Staff Sergei Filatov said the president's staff is working as if
Yeltsin will seek a second term, NTV reported on 10 April. When asked
what concrete steps the administration had taken, Filatov said the
Kremlin is relying on the creation of strong political parties which
"will be able to unite the voters with their ideas." --  Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE STILL BEING CONSIDERED. The State Duma has not made a
final decision on whether to hold a no-confidence vote in the
government, Chairman Ivan Rybkin told Interfax on 10 April. Konstantin
Zatulin, the chairman of the Committee for CIS Affairs, demanded that
the item remain on the agenda in spite of the fact that Liberal
Democratic Party members who signed the initial declaration had
apparently withdrawn their support. Zatulin said a verbal statement by
LDP leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky is not sufficient to delete the
signatures and that each deputy had to submit a written statement.
However, Rybkin said most Duma factions wanted to remove the item from
the agenda. The LDP usually maintains strict party discipline within its
faction. --  Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ZYUGANOV REJECTS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE. Communist Party leader Gennady
Zyuganov called the proposed no-confidence vote untimely, Ekho Moskvy
reported. Nineteen of the original 102 deputies who signed the proposal
were Communists, including Vladimir Semago, Vitaly Sevostyanov, and Yury
Sevenard, Interfax reported. Zyuganov was in India when the signatures
were collected. He said such an important decision should be made by the
party's leaders, not individual faction members or the faction as a
whole. --  Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

FEDERATION COUNCIL COMMITTEE REJECTS ELECTORAL LAW. The Federation
Council Committee on Constitutional Law, Judicial, and Legal Issues
recommended that the chamber turn down the electoral law passed by the
Duma on 24 March, Interfax reported on 10 April. The committee said the
draft law benefits "the Moscow region" rather than "the whole of
Russia." The Council favors Yeltsin's proposal to elect 300 Duma
deputies from single-member constituencies and only 150 from party
lists, but the Duma's version maintains the current ratio of 225
deputies chosen by each method. Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko
argued that since Russia's political parties were still "immature,"
party lists were almost entirely made up of Moscow politicians, Radio
Mayak reported on 9 April. He said if the Duma wants elections to take
place, it must be willing to compromise with the Council and the
president on the electoral law. --  Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

IZVESTIYA: CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION TO BECOME "GIANT BRAINWASHING
MACHINE." An article in the 11 April edition of Izvestiya accused the
executive branch of using the Central Electoral Commission to build a
propaganda machine with powers "not seen since the days of the agitprop
department of the CPSU Central Committee." A February 1995 presidential
decree expanded the commission and authorized it to educate "all
participants in the electoral process." Although the project was
ostensibly designed to overcome voter apathy by making citizens aware of
their constitutional rights, the author expressed skepticism that the
commission would pursue purely educational goals. He noted that the
State Press Committee, State Film Committee, and the Federal Radio and
Television Broadcasting Service have been instructed to participate in
the pre-election educational campaign. The author asserted that a "giant
brainwashing machine," financed by the federal budget, would thus be
controlled by the executive branch during an election year. In addition,
he charged that the Russian Center for Training in Electoral Technology
was created to prevent "untrained" citizens from working on election
committees or counting votes. --  Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIANS GAIN GROUND IN CHECHNYA. Following the capture of Samashki on 8
April, Russian forces took the villages of Achkoi-Martan and Zakan-Yurt
the next day, Western agencies reported on 10 April quoting a Russian
military spokesman. An international relief worker has corroborated
refugees' reports of systematic human rights violations by Russian
forces during the attack on Samashki. Also on 10 April, a Russian
military spokesman said approximately 2,000 Russian troops have died in
Chechnya over the past four months, Reuters reported. --  Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

EU CONTINUES TO KEEP INTERIM TRADE ACCORD ON HOLD. At their 10 April
meeting, the EU foreign ministers decided to keep the interim trade
accord with Russia on hold, Western agencies reported. The accord had
been put on ice to protest Russian actions in Chechnya. The EU's
rotating presidency, currently held by France, said the Russian
government had failed to honor any of the promises made at a meeting
with an EU delegation in March. Those promises included a pledge to
negotiate a ceasefire in Chechnya, begin talks to settle the conflict,
allow unimpeded humanitarian aid, and accept a permanent OSCE mission in
the republic. --  Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CRIME-FIGHTERS EXPECT INCREASE IN CONTRACT KILLINGS. The number of
contract killings will double every year, unless law-enforcement bodies
undergo serious reforms, top crime-fighting officials told reporters in
Moscow on 10 April. In 1994, 562 contract killings were recorded, in
comparison with only 102 in 1992, according to Russian Television. Crime
bosses and businessmen were the most likely to be killed. Deputy
Prosecutor-General Oleg Gaidanov blamed inexperienced investigators for
the crisis, and lax gun laws. He also asked the Federal Security
Service--which was granted new investigative powers last week--for more
help. Vladimir Kolesnikov, head of criminal investigations at the
Interior Ministry, said Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika had caused
turmoil in law enforcement, but he defended the police force, noting
that nearly 100 officers had been killed investigating murders in recent
years. --  Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

AEROFLOT TO SUE STRIKERS. Aeroflot director-general Vladimir Tikhonov
announced on 10 April that his company would take legal action against
the Sheremetevo flight crew's union, which tried to organize a strike on
8 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. Tikhonov said that
although the action had been called off, the airline had suffered
serious financial losses after the union announced a pre-strike
situation on 15 March. The company lost $500,000 in the U.S. alone. The
union, which wants Aeroflot and the government to privatize the airline
and set guidelines for future responsibilities, said it would begin a
hunger strike on 14 April if talks with the government failed. --  Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

PRIMORSKY MINERS CONTINUE STRIKE. Despite a government decision to
release extra funds, miners in Primorsky Krai, who went on strike on 6
April, will continue their action until their wages are paid in full,
Petr Kiryasov, chairman of the regional union committee, told Interfax
on 10 April. The protest began with a hunger strike by 27 miners in the
Avangard pit in Partizansk on 29 March; the last of the hunger strikers
were hospitalized in serious condition on 7 April. On 10 April, First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais announced that the government had
sent 50 billion rubles to Primorsky Krai that day to subsidize the coal
purchases of energy producers. The failure of the latter to pay their
bills is a main reason for the coal industry crisis. Chubais said 250
billion rubles in subsidies would be granted in the second quarter of
the year. He also accused regional governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko of
deliberately exacerbating tension in the area, NTV reported. Meanwhile,
the regional prosecutor's office has opened a case against the coal
company Primorskugol, charging it with squandering federal budget funds.
The company is reported to have spent 17.8 billion rubles, which were
earmarked for boosting production, on commercial deals. --  Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIK ROUNDUP. On 10 April, Russian border guards were said to be in
control of the Tajik-Afghan border, Interfax reported the same day.
Earlier, the situation on the Pamir section was critical as
reinforcements to border guards surrounded at Dashti-Yazulem were unable
to get through from Khorog, the administrative center of Gorno-
Badakhshan, which had also been under fire, according to official
Russian sources. The commander of CIS peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan
went on record as saying that his forces were not involved in rebuffing
the attack; he also said the incident "proved" Tajik opposition forces
were trying to cut Badakhshan off from central Tajikistan and make it a
bridgehead for attacking government forces. The same day, Interfax also
reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev
denounced the latest events, saying they are undermining the inter-Tajik
talks. He also condemned the Afghan authorities' connivance with the
Tajik opposition in permitting attacks on border units and said events
indicate that hard-liners are gaining the upper hand in the opposition.
Islamic Renaissance Party leader Kazi Akbar Turadzhonzoda, who is in
Paris, blamed the incident on Russian border guards. He said several
hundred Tajik mujahadin were trapped by Russian border guards in the
Vanch Valley some 40 km from the Tajik-Afghan border. "They coordinated
their actions with the headquarters in Afghanistan and began breaking
the blockade," he said. All sides registered their desire for the inter-
Tajik talks to resume as soon as possible. --  Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
Inc.

POLIO EPIDEMICS IN UZBEKISTAN IN 1994. The Uzbek Health Care Ministry
said 40% of the republic's children are not vaccinated against
poliomyelitis, and as a result, 6 out of 12 provinces in the country
witnessed epidemics of the disease in 1994, Interfax reported on 10
April. A mass immunization effort sponsored by WHO, UNICEF, and USAID
was undertaken the same day. --  Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN NEGOTIATIONS. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets said negotiations with Ukraine are to continue next week,
Interfax reported on 10 April. Soskovets said he disapproved of some
Duma deputies' recent actions against Ukraine. He said the issue of
dividing the Black Sea Fleet must be settled soon or the poorly
maintained fleet will be completely lost within a year or two. He also
said Ukraine would have to pay $600 million from its IMF credits to
Russia for energy supplies. Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov
said the Duma's intention to impose a moratorium on dividing the fleet
is unreasonable. Interfax also reported that Ukraine and Russia are
drawing up an agreement to deal with their Azov Sea border. Ukraine's
Border Guards commander, Viktor Bannykh, said there is no agreement on
the international status of the Kerch strait, although contacts between
Ukrainian and Russian sea border guards have been good. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma is likely to visit Moscow on 9 May, and
Ukrainian radio reported that Crimean parliamentary speaker Serhii
Tsekov has flown to Moscow on an official visit to the Duma. --  Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.

FUEL DEBT TO RUSSIA FROM CIS AND THE BALTICS INCREASES. The CIS
countries' fuel debt to Russia has risen 2 trillion rubles in March to
13 trillion rubles, Interfax reported on 10 April. Ukraine's debt has
increased to 8.8 trillion rubles from 7.1 trillion rubles. Belarus now
owes 2 trillion rubles while the Baltics owe 635 billion rubles. Natural
gas supplies comprise the bulk of the debt. Meanwhile, the Petroleum
Information Agency reported that Russia will increase its price for oil
supplied to the CIS in the second quarter to $112 from $108 per ton. --
Michael Mihalka, 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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