A tablecloth restaurant is still one of the great rewards of civilization. - Harry Golden
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 87, Part I, 4 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

GRYZUNOV CALLS FOR NEW STATE-PRESS RELATIONS . . . At a seminar held to
mark International Freedom of the Press Day, State Press Committee
Chairman Sergei Gryzunov proposed the creation of a national council on
the mass media, Interfax reported on 3 May. Gryzunov said the council
would coordinate state policy toward the mass media and help determine
the level of investment in the media. Gryzunov also advocated
consolidating the efforts of some presses and publishing houses. He
estimated that more efficient publishing concerns could cut the costs of
publishing a newspaper by 40% to 60%, thereby making the media truly
independent. Gryzunov said that out of nearly 9,000 registered
publications in Russia, only about 13% currently could survive without
subsidies. He added that the State Press Committee had asked the
government to maintain press subsidies until a new law on tax privileges
for the media comes into effect, since canceling subsidies could make
the media "a hostage to the political ambitions of the institutions
financing it." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

.. . . WHILE RESTRICTIONS ON PRESS FREEDOM ARE DENOUNCED. At the same
seminar, Foundation for the Protection of Glasnost chairman Alexei
Simonov charged that since the beginning of the military conflict in
Chechnya, the authorities have repeatedly violated the freedom of the
press in Russia, Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 May. Simonov noted that in
the last four months, 166 Russian journalists have been "victimized" in
Chechnya. Among those, Simonov added, 105 were arrested, 46 had film,
videocassettes, or video-recording equipment illegally confiscated,
eight were beaten up, six were killed, and two are still missing. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT STRIKES DOWN ARTICLE OF CRIMINAL CODE. The
Constitutional Court has ruled that Article 220 of the Criminal Code,
which restricts the legal right to contest arrests, violates the
constitution, Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 May. Under Article 220, only
persons actually in custody are granted the right to challenge their
arrests. In upholding a private appeal, the court ruled that those who
have been held in preliminary detention may legally contest the decision
to arrest them even after their release. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

UNIONS, INDUSTRIALISTS INTEND TO CREATE POLITICAL BLOC. The leader of
the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Mikhail Shmakov, the head of
the Russian United Industrialists' Party, Vladimir Scherbakov, and the
leader of the Realists' Union, Yury Petrov, signed an agreement on 3 May
stating their intent to create a single election bloc for the 1995
parliamentary elections, Interfax reported. To coordinate their campaign
efforts, the unions will create an organization called Russia's Unions
and the industrialists will create Russian Industry's Revival and both
will work with the Realists. Earlier those groups were included in the
list of potential members of State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin's new left-
center electoral bloc. Rybkin, who returned to Moscow on 3 May from a
trip to Japan and the U.S., has been ambiguous on whether he will
actually lead the new bloc and it is unclear how this new agreement fits
into his overall plans. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

SOBCHAK TO SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 1996. St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly
Sobchak formally announced that he will seek re-election in June 1996,
Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti reported on 21 April. He said he would
count on the support of "normal democratic forces which can distinguish
democracy from demagoguery." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION BLAMES ENERGY COMPLEX FOR PRIMORE MINERS' STRIKE.
At a closed meeting on 3 May, the government commission on non-payments
discussed the problems facing the coal industry in the Far East, Russian
TV reported. The commission, chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister
Anatoly Chubais, sharply criticized the energy complex for spending
money allocated by the federal authorities for miners' wages on other
purposes. Nonpayment of wages was the main reason for a week-long strike
by miners in Primorsky Krai in early April. Chubais' commission debated
firing the general director of Dalenergo and reprimanding other energy
chiefs. It also criticized the performance of the krai administration
during the strike and said the local authorities' decision to purchase
coal from Australia and China is being investigated by law enforcement
bodies. Chubais earlier accused krai Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko of
deliberately aggravating tensions and playing "political games." The
commission may now ask the Prosecutor's Office to bring charges against
members of the administration. Meanwhile, Finansovie izvestiya reported
on 4 May that the number of workers in Russia's coal industry fell by
about 80,000 in 1994. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DEPUTY PROSECUTOR GENERAL ON CRIME, LISTEV MURDER. In an interview with
Chelovek i zakon (no. 4), Deputy Prosecutor General Oleg Gaidanov argued
that those responsible for the murder of TV star Vladislav Listev on 1
March had issued a challenge to society as a whole. He said criminal
groups are trying to use their ill-gotten gains to enter politics and
dictate their own rules of the game. Concerning the Listev case in
particular, he said the prosecution had documents proving that criminal
capital controlled by Moscow groups had deeply penetrated the mass
media, especially television, and he believes only people sure of their
immunity and ability to influence the investigation would run the risk
of murdering such a well-known figure. "They are certain that their
money will solve all potential problems," he said. Gaidanov also spoke
out against giving ordinary people the right to carry guns and said the
armed security services of commercial companies pose a threat to
society. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. STEPS UP PRESSURE AGAINST RUSSIA NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN. The U.S.
has stepped up its pressure against the Russian nuclear deal with Iran,
international agencies reported on 3 May. A senior U.S. official said
Russia will supply uranium enrichment technology as well as light-water
reactors to Iran. The official indicated that the U.S. has learned of
Russia's agreement to provide gas centrifuges to Iran, which would allow
it to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels. He suggested that Russia
has not been totally forthcoming on its arrangements with Iran.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said the U.S. has
exaggerated the threat to non-proliferation posed by Iran, citing the
plan to provide light-water reactors to North Korea, Reuters reported on
2 May. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

FEDERAL BUDGET RECEIVES MORE REVENUES THAN ANTICIPATED . . . For the
first time in the last four years, the Russian federal budget received
3.3% more revenues in the first quarter than planned, the Russian
Finance Ministry and Central Bank announced to Russian news agencies on
3 May. The size of foreign-debt payment exceeded foreign borrowings 1.9
times. First quarter revenues stand at 32.1 trillion rubles ($6.3
billion) with expenditures at 39.7 trillion rubles ($7.7 billion). The
budget deficit, which is expected to be 5% of the GDP in 1995, was 7.6
trillion rubles ($1.5 billion) or 3.3% of GDP in the first quarter. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

.. . . AND ECONOMY ON THE UPSWING. The ministry and bank also announced
that positive economic tendencies have contributed to the successful
first quarter federal budget results. Inflation is continuing to
decrease as the cumulative consumer price index, which was at 17.8% in
January, is expected to be about 8% for April. The ministry and bank
noted that industrial output declined by only 4.5%, compared to 23% in
the first quarter of 1994. According to the announcement, the state had
no debts in terms of wages and scholarships, financing national defense,
law enforcement, state power structures, education, health care,
culture, and social security. The two state bodies added that financing
for the Chechen conflict came from budget assignments granted to the
respective ministries involved in the fighting and did not exceed the
fixed budget expenses for 1995. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT LIKELY TO ACCEPT BANK CONSORTIUM OFFER. The Russian
government is likely to accept the offer made by a consortium of
commercial banks which would grant credit with the stock of factories to
be privatized as collateral, presidential economic adviser Alexander
Livshits told Russian news agencies on 3 May. "This is the first time
since reforms began in this country that Russia's largest banks have
expressed their willingness to grant long-term loans," Livshits said on
Russian TV. He declined to say which banks are engaged in talks with
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT SECURITIES COMMISSION VOTES TO ACCELERATE SECURITIES
ISSUANCE. The Russian government's commission on improving the system
for payments and settlements passed a decision on 3 May to accelerate
the issuance of government securities which are intended to cover over
40% of the country's budget deficit, Interfax reported. The commission
said a government resolution on the terms for issuing securities should
be signed within days. Afterwards, the Finance Ministry will begin
launching securities into circulation. Thirty-two trillion rubles ($6.2
billion) worth of securities are to be issued in 1995. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NATIONAL CURRENCY FOR TAJIKISTAN. Speaking in Dushanbe on 3 May, Tajik
President Emomali Rakhmonov announced the planned introduction of a
national currency in Tajikistan later this month, Interfax reported the
same day. The new currency has been printed in Russia and is expected to
be put into circulation after 10 May. Rakhmonov said the measure is
aimed at raising the population's living standards--the state owes some
400 billion rubles to workers at present. However, it is likely the
decision was forced upon the Tajik leadership by Russia. Noting that
"there will be no famine in Tajikistan," Rakhmonov also indicated that
100,000 metric tons of grain from Russia would be delivered to the
republic this month and stressed that consideration is being given to
promoting greater integration with that country. -- Lowell Bezanis,
OMRI, Inc.

UZBEKISTAN AND THE IMF. The second tranche of a $74 million IMF credit
made available to Uzbekistan in January for its macroeconomic
stabilization program is to be released, Interfax reported on 3 May.
During a meeting with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Tashkent, IMF
managing director Michel Camdessus indicated Uzbekistan had met the
IMF's requirements, though he registered displeasure over the slow pace
of reform and relatively high inflation rate--7.8%--in March. He also
told Karimov Uzbekistan may receive a $287 million credit in 1995-1997.
-- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

33 JOURNALISTS KILLED IN CIS SINCE 1994. Thirty-three journalists have
been killed in the CIS since the beginning of 1994, many of them in
areas of ongoing regional hostilities, the Foundation for the Protection
of Glasnost told AFP on 3 May. Three Russians, one American, and one
German have died in Chechnya, and six journalists have died in
Tajikistan. Fourteen have died in Russia, including the famous cases of
Vladislav Listev, the former head of Ostankino, and Dmitry Kholodov, the
Moskovsky Komsomolets reporter who had been investigating charges of
army corruption. In other CIS countries, three have died in Georgia, two
in Belarus, and one each in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The French
organization Reporters sans frontieres reported that 103 journalists
were killed around the world in 1994--the highest number on record for
one year. -- 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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