This communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joy, and cutteth griefs in half. - Francis Bacon
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 86, Part I, 3 May 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

STEPASHIN COMMENTS ON CHECHNYA. Before leaving Moscow for Chechnya on 2
May, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Sergei Stepashin said
Russian security officers had obtained personal documents belonging to
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev which reveal his links to political,
financial, and military circles in Russia, Russian Public Television
reported. Stepashin said Dudaev is merely a figurehead in the Chechen
regime, but he declined to say who holds real power. Stepashin added
that the FSB has created a special department for Chechnya, which will
be one of its largest regional branches. On the same day, Stepashin told
Interfax that "negotiations with the elders and with civilians in
general" indicate that a full-scale guerrilla war is unlikely to develop
in the Caucasus, although the special FSB branch in Chechnya will have
to deal with "bandits" and organized crime. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

ONE-THIRD OF CHECHEN POPULATION SAID TO BE REFUGEES. The total number of
refugees from Chechnya now exceeds 450,000, of whom 360,000 have been
registered elsewhere in Russia, Federal Migration Service deputy
director Yury Roshchin was quoted as saying in Segodnya on 29 April. The
influx of refugees is causing problems in neighboring regions. In parts
of Dagestan, for example, it is feared that overpopulation could trigger
a new outbreak of cholera. The worst situation is said to be in
Ingushetia, which has already accepted tens of thousands of refugees
from Prigorodnyi Raion in North Ossetia. Roshchin said five temporary
accommodation centers have been set up in Grozny to house people who
return. He said the state will provide free building materials and
payment to people who rebuild their own homes. Refugees who do not wish
to return to Chechnya (about 100,000) will receive a small, one-time
cash payment and a free railway ticket to the destination of their
choice, Roshchin said. The government has so far allocated 913 billion
rubles of the 1.9 trillion requested by the Migration Service for its
Chechen program. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF TWO JOURNALISTS. The Tverskoi district court in
Moscow ordered the release of Dmitry Bykov and Alexander Nikonov,
correspondents for the weekly Sobesednik, Ekho Moskvy reported on 28
April. The two had been held in custody since 20 April for "suspicion of
hooliganism" but were never charged with a crime. The Prosecutor-
General's Office opened the criminal case in connection with a 1 April
article published in Sobesednik discussing the history of Russian
obscenities, Interfax reported. Bykov told Ekho Moskvy that he saw a
"special cynicism" in the case, since his newspaper was investigated for
"referring to a few well-known words and expressions," while the hard-
line newspaper Zavtra, which he called a "fascist rag," and the book
Russky Mat (Russian Curses) remain widely available at local kiosks. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

THREE DETAINED AMERICANS IN FAR EAST FREED. Three U.S. citizens detained
near the Chinese border on suspicion of espionage have been released,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 2 May. Russian border guards
said the three, who work for foreign companies in Vladivostok, were
arrested on 30 April with videos of "Russian navy vessels, the border
post of Khasan, and the electric signaling system," AFP reported. The
U.S. State Department said the Americans were questioned for several
hours by Russian authorities but were not mistreated. Spokesman Nicholas
Burns told an RFE/RL correspondent that the U.S. consul in Vladivostok
is looking into the case and negotiating procedures with the Russian
government to prevent similar incidents. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

LEBED TO RUN FOR SEAT IN DUMA. In an interview published in the 28 April
edition of Express-Khronika, 14th Army Commander Lt.-Gen. Alexander
Lebed confirmed that he will leave the military and run for a seat in
the State Duma. He said the Defense Ministry "decided this question for
me" when it handed down the "criminal decision" to disband the 14th Army
in the breakaway Transdniester region of Moldova. Lebed vowed to fight
the restructuring of the 14th Army and argued that such a move would not
even benefit the Moldovan government, which he said acquires "political
capital" from the army's presence. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

ZHIRINOVSKY ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING IN THE REGIONS. Liberal Democratic
Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky is currently in Orenburg where he
delivered a speech to a crowd of citizens and public officials, his
press service reported. On 30 April, he completed another trip that took
him from Kaliningrad to the Tajik-Afghan border. On the border,
Zhirinovsky, with the assistance of a soldier, opened fire with a
machine gun on "Afghan and Tajik militants trying to penetrate into
Tajikistan." During his current trip, he is planning to meet in
Magnitogorsk with the parents of the soldier who helped him "defend the
border." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ROLE OF POLITICAL IMAGE-MAKERS GROWING IN RUSSIA. Sophisticated campaign
consultants charged with image-building are playing a larger role in
Russian elections, according to an article in the 27 April-5 May edition
of Obshchaya gazeta. The article singled out the firm "Alter-Ego," which
managed MMM investment fund chief Sergei Mavrodi's successful campaign
for a Duma seat in November 1994 without ever showing the candidate
directly to voters. The same firm is handling the 14 May Duma by-
election campaign of Mavrodi's wife Elena. The author described the
guiding principle for crafting a candidate's image: "people ought to
want to drink vodka with him in their kitchen." In addition, the image-
making industry employs "psychological symbols" to increase a
candidate's appeal. Common techniques include showing the candidate
playing tennis against a strong partner, visiting a church or a
children's home, and taking a trip down a mining pit. -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

WIDE GAP BETWEEN BASIC PRICES AND WAGES IN MOSCOW. Prices of basic goods
in Moscow have increased 1,257 times compared to 1991, while average
earnings increased 430 times, the Moscow Trade Union Federation's
Analytic Center told Interfax on 1 May. Analysts also indicated that the
subsistence level in Moscow was 457,000 rubles ($90) in March. Salaries
and wages in education, health protection, science, culture,
engineering, metal-working, printing, and textiles are even lower. The
trade union center said the labor market situation has worsened; the
number of persons employed in Moscow dropped by 365,000 in 1994. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA'S NATURAL RESOURCES THREATENED WITH IRREPARABLE DAMAGE. Russian
and Western studies say Russia is the world's most environmentally
devastated country and that the situation is likely to deteriorate
further due to a lack of funds, AFP reported on 1 May. According to the
Russian Environment Ministry, only half the country's arable land is fit
for cultivation and half the population drinks water that poses a health
risk. A 25 April report in Vechernyaya Moskva listed Moscow, Orel,
Smolensk, Orenburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Tula Oblasts as the regions
with the most heavily polluted drinking water. World Health Organization
norms for air pollution are often exceeded by ten times in major
industrial centers, and Russia has the highest level of contamination
from sulfur emissions in Europe. As the spring thaw approaches, vast
areas in the Arctic are threatened by oil spilled during recent pipeline
leaks. An Ecological Information Center was recently set up in St.
Petersburg to monitor the environment in the northwest, Russian
Television reported on 2 May. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

ARMS SALES UP. Alexander Kotelkin, the general director of the state-
owned Rosvooruzheniye arms export company, told Interfax on 28 April
that contracts from foreign buyers for $1.675 billion worth of military
equipment had been signed in the first four months of this year. He
compared that with sales of $480 million during the same period last
year. Kotelkin estimated that total sales for the year would amount to
$2.5 billion or $2.6 billion. Russia sold $1.7 billion worth of military
equipment in 1994. The official said about 60% of Russian arms exports
went to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

DECREE ON INVESTORS' INTEREST HARD TO ENFORCE. There is no clear-cut way
to implement President Boris Yeltsin's decree on the protection of
private investments, a senior member of the Central Bank told the
Financial Information Agency on 27 April. The source said the bank
"cannot be held responsible for various pyramid schemes that raised
money at the cost of public ignorance and loopholes in the country's
legislation." He said any fulfillment of the obligations of bankrupt
companies, which swindled the public out of 5 trillion rubles with
promises of an annual interest rate of 800-1000% in the past two years,
is "out of the question." That can be recorded as internal debt, but
there is no money to service it at present. Even selling all the assets
of those companies would not solve the problem, the report continued,
because much of the money was converted into hard currency and put in
foreign banks. The source also doubted that many financial organizations
would be able to obtain licenses within three months to prevent them
from being put out of business. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

ROSTELEKOM INTENDS TO SELL SHARES IN WORLD MARKET. Rostelekom, Russia's
largest telecommunications company, intends to sell some of its stock
abroad, a company official told Interfax on 2 May. Rostelekom securities
department chief Igor Kocheshkov said activities are underway to
facilitate share sales on the international securities market.
Rostelekom's assets are valued at $1 billion. The company's shares are
considered by some experts to be among the most profitable and reliable
in Russia. Foreign holdings in Rostelekom amount to 17.3% of its stock.
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

GORKY AUTO FACTORY TO SELL BONDS IN RUSSIAN MARKET. The Gorky Automobile
Plant (GAZ), one of Russia's biggest producers of trucks, has started to
sell its bonds in Russia through a system of authorized investment
institutions, the Financial Information Agency reported on 2 May.
Located in Nizhny Novgorod, the plant had been selling its bonds locally
until now. GAZ has arranged for Tveruniversalbank, Status-Bank, Tserikh
Investment Bank, and the Russian Brokerage House to market two-year
bonds with 10% yields totaling 200 billion rubles. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

IRANIAN, TURKMEN GAS TO TURKEY? Talks between Turkish and Iranian
officials on a long-standing plan to supply Iranian natural gas to
Turkey opened in Ankara on 2 May, Reuters reported the next day. The
plan envisages a Turkmenistan-Iran gas link which would connect to
Turkey and Europe. Turkish Energy Minister Veysel Atasoy said his
country intends to purchase 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Iran;
the first 2 billion in 1998. At the opening of the three-day talks with
his counterpart, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Atasoy noted that Turkey wants to
improve economic relations with Iran; international media interpreted
that to mean Ankara intends to ignore U.S. calls for a trade embargo
against Iran to protest Tehran's alleged support of terrorism and
efforts to build a nuclear weapon. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

RUSSIA UNDECIDED ON BUYING BOMBERS FROM UKRAINE. Russian Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev indicated on 29 April that his ministry has not
decided whether to buy the 44 ex-Soviet strategic bombers held by
Ukraine. Interfax quoted him as saying it is a very serious question and
"experts have been asked to study it again." The two countries have
reached a preliminary agreement under which Russia would write off $190
million of Ukraine's fuel debts in return for the 19 Tu-160 "Blackjack"
and 25 Tu-95 MC "Bear" bombers and 600 cruise missiles. A spokesman for
the Russian Air Force told Interfax that the return of those aircraft
would solve Russia's strategic aviation problems for the next 15-20
years. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday
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