We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 89, Part I, 9 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

RUSSIA BEGINS WWII CEREMONIES. President Boris Yeltsin praised the WWII
alliance as a model for international unity at the beginning of a
military parade of veterans and soldiers 9 May, Russian and Western
agencies reported. His speech differed from Soviet-era commemorations by
highlighting the role of Russia's allies in the war effort. U.S.
President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister John Major, and Chinese
President Jiang Zemin along with more than 50 world leaders joined him
on top of the Lenin Mausoleum. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov flanked
Yeltsin in his first appearance on the mausoleum as president. The word
Lenin was covered by decorations. Clinton only agreed to attend the
ceremonies if there would be no military hardware or veterans from the
Chechen fighting. However, Segodnya reported that at least two units
from Chechnya would participate in the parade. A Defense Ministry
spokesman told AFP that no complete units from the Chechen campaign
participated, but "it can not be excluded that there may have been some
officers." On 8 May, in a Kremlin speech, Yeltsin blamed unnamed groups
for fanning fascism in the country, especially among the younger
generation, and vowed to rid Russia of "the infection." -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN WARNS AGAINST ISOLATING RUSSIA. President Yeltsin said the West
should not isolate Russia but should instead support new models of
European and global security based on trust and equal cooperation
instead of political confrontation, international agencies reported on 8
May. Speaking at a reception in the Kremlin on 8 May, Yeltsin said the
lessons of the 20th century teach that "discrimination and isolation
within blocs sooner or later exploded into wars or pushed us to the
brink of a nuclear abyss." Although Yeltsin gave no specifics about his
plans for future security structures, the OSCE is conducting a Russian-
sponsored study of new security models for the 21st century. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RYBKIN, LAPSHIN AT ODDS ON AGRARIAN PARTICIPATION IN ELECTORAL BLOC.
Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, a prominent member of the Agrarian Party, said
the party's leaders had agreed in principle to cooperate with a wide
range of political forces, Russian agencies reported on 5 May. Rybkin
named the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, the Union of Realists,
and the Russian United Industrial Party as possible members of an
Agrarian-led bloc. However, on the same day Rybkin missed a scheduled
meeting with the Agrarian Party council, after which party chairman
Mikhail Lapshin announced that the Agrarians would abide by an earlier
decision to form an independent bloc only with other peasants'
organizations, NTV reported. Lapshin, who has been campaigning in the
regions, said he is puzzled that Rybkin is planning "to rely on purely
Moscow political groups" for his bloc, Interfax reported. He added that
Rybkin's place on the Agrarian Party list would be determined only after
he "clarified" his position on electoral blocs. Rybkin missed a second
planned meeting with Agrarian leaders on 8 May, according to Ekho
Moskvy. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RYBKIN DENIES IZVESTIYA'S ALLEGATIONS. Meanwhile, Rybkin denied
allegations published on 5 May in Izvestiya, Russian agencies reported.
Izvestiya charged that before returning from Washington on 3 May, Rybkin
removed boxes of humanitarian aid for Russian children from his plane in
order to make room for furniture he bought in the U.S. for his personal
use. Rybkin's press secretary, Dmitry Biryukov, said cargo loaded onto
the plane was furniture from the Russian embassy and not meant for
Rybkin's personal use, Radio Rossii reported. Biryukov added that
Rybkin's visit was paid for by the U.S.-Russian Business Council, not by
Russian taxpayers, Interfax reported. Furthermore, Biryukov said, Rybkin
could not accept the humanitarian aid, since the Duma had not requested
him to do so. Nevertheless, on 6 May, the Duma Committee on
International Affairs rejected Rybkin's explanation, expressing regret
that for the first time, the Duma had been denied assistance in
transporting humanitarian aid to Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST MAVRODI SUSPENDED. The criminal case
against MMM investment fund chief Sergei Mavrodi has been closed due to
the Duma's decision not to strip Mavrodi of his parliamentary immunity,
Russian agencies reported on 5 May. Acting Prosecutor General Alexei
Ilyushenko extended the investigation into MMM seven times before it was
closed, Interfax reported. However, Moscow police have already filed
another criminal case against Mavrodi in connection with MMM. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DRAFT PROGRAM TO AID DEPRESSED REGIONS. The presidential
administration's analytical department is drafting a program to aid the
country's most depressed areas, Presidential Council member Leonid
Smirnyagin told Interfax on 7 May. On the basis of per capita income,
falls in industrial output since 1991, and unemployment levels, the
program will determine the republics, regions, and districts within
those areas that are eligible for special assistance. Due to financial
contraints, a maximum of only 26 regions, with a total population of
about 20 million, can hope to receive aid. Those will probably include
Ivanovo and Pskov Oblasts, Adygeya, Dagestan, Mordovia, and Chuvashia.
If too many regions fall into the depressed category, a competition will
be held and those presenting the best plans to increase living standards
will receive federal funds. Smirnyagin said the program may be adopted
by presidential decree and be included in the 1996 budget. It will cost
an estimated 20 trillion rubles. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

LATE START HAMPERS KOMI OIL SPILL CLEAN-UP. Environmentalists in Usinsk,
the site of a massive oil pipeline leak last year, said oil released as
ice and snow melts is causing considerable damage to the fragile
environment. The president of the U.S. company Hartec, which is
spearheading the clean-up operation along with an Australian company,
says teams are working around the clock to try to contain the oil in
areas already contaminated, but he criticized the Russian government's
delay in seeking financial help. If funding had been secured earlier, he
said, cleanup workers would not have been caught out by the early thaw,
Reuters reported on 8 May. Meanwhile, Segodnya on 6 May expressed the
fear that not all the money lent by the World Bank to fund the operation
would be used for the purpose intended. "Our economic managers," the
paper commented, "are too much in the 'Soviet' habit of using 'crisis
money' to fill all their gaps." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

GOSKOMSTAT ON AVERAGE WAGE. The average monthly wage in March was
361,500 rubles (about $71), 13% higher than in February, Ekho Moskvy
reported on 5 May. According to the State Statistics Committee, the
highest wage--1.47 million rubles (about $286)--was paid in the gas
industry, and the lowest--147,000 rubles (about $29)--in agriculture. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MOVEMENT ON IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL. Russia seems to be altering its position
on supplying nuclear aid to Iran, international agencies reported on 8
May. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Russia will seriously address
any evidence which suggests the Iran deal presents a real danger to
nuclear nonproliferation, American television reported. A high-ranking
Foreign Ministry official told Interfax on 6 May that U.S. concerns,
along with those of "other partners," had convinced Russia to drop plans
to train specialists in nuclear power engineering for Iran. However, the
chairman of Federal Nuclear and Radiation Safety Inspection, Yury
Vishnevsky, confirmed reports that the Nuclear Energy Ministry intended
to supply gas centrifuges for enriching uranium to Iran, although no
contract has yet been signed. Vishnevsky opposes the deal, not only
because it would allow Iran to produce weapons grade fissionable
material, but also because Iran is virtually insolvent and unlikely to
pay the $800 million promised in the contract to complete the Bushehr
reactors. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 5 May that the Russian Nuclear
Agency intends to sign a contract to supply an additional three nuclear
power plants to Iran in a deal worth about $2 billion. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES NEARLY 2 MILLION STRONG. The "full strength" of the
Russian armed forces stands at 1,917,000 troops, Grachev told Interfax
on 6 May. It is not clear if the defense minister was referring to the
authorized strength or the actual number of personnel under arms.
President Boris Yeltsin has decreed that the armed forces be reduced to
1.7 million troops by the end of this year, while the London-based
International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated they were near
that level in June of last year. Grachev said most units have been
manned at only 60% but the latest changes in conscription legislation
will enable the military to raise that to 80-85%. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
Inc.

CABINET CONSIDERS IMPORT TARIFF OF UP TO 30%. A new draft import tariff
was submitted to the Russian government for approval, according to
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov, Segodnya reported on 6 May. The
draft increases the average import tariff rate from 11% to 12-13%. On 5
May, Davydov met with representatives of the World Trade Organization in
Moscow and noted that the document calls for a maximum duty rate of 30%,
except for higher duties on alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and luxury
goods. Import duty rates on all other commodities will range for nothing
to 30%. Tariffs will not be levied on commodities and raw materials that
do not exist in Russia, Davydov said. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE GAINS FIVE POINTS AGAINST DOLLAR. Following nearly a week of
stabilization, the Russian ruble gained five points against the U.S.
dollar on MICEX trading, closing at 5,125 rubles to $1 on 5 May, the
Financial Information Agency reported. The initial supply was $108.95
million, exceeding demand by $44.68 million. The last time the ruble
gained against the dollar was on 20 April when it increased 15 points in
three days, from 5,066 to 5,051 rubles to $1. Currency dealers said the
Central Bank purchased $33.36 million on 5 May. The dealers attributed
the stabilization and the strengthening of the ruble to the fact that
the price of the dollar on the exchange was in excess of the off-
exchange quotations which caused a large inflow of dollars in MICEX
trading. Additionally, commercial banks have been selling dollars to
obtain rubles for their mandatory reserves in the Central Bank.
Financial Information Agency experts attributed the ruble gains to a
change in bank policy. Two months ago, the bank, which is the largest
dealer in currency trading, worked to keep the exchange rate at pace
with the inflation rate, but now it seems to be attempting to stabilize
the ruble in order to reduce inflationary expectations. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KARIMOV ON TURKESTAN . . .  Uzbek President Islam Karimov called for the
unification of all post-Soviet Central Asian states on 5 May, Interfax
reported the same day. In a speech to parliament, he noted that the
republics of the region live in fear of being deprived of their
independence. "Turkestan must become a common home . . . If all five
states of the region pool their efforts in this vast expanse, the threat
from the outside will disappear by itself, as will the 'elder brother'
notion, which oppresses and alarms everybody," he said. Karimov has used
the theme of Central Asian unification or Turkestan in the past, largely
for domestic purposes; its current use appears to be for external
consumption, part of a strategy to block Russian assertiveness in
Central Asia and curry Western favor for doing so. -- Lowell Bezanis,
OMRI, Inc.

.. . . UZBEK PARLIAMENT ON KARIMOV. Informing parliament of the results
of the March referendum on extending his term in office, Karimov asked
legislators to consider the prolongation of his rule to the year 2000 to
be his second term in office, which they rejected. The Uzbek
Constitution does not permit one individual to hold more than two terms
in office in a row; hence Karimov will be eligible for re-election in
the year 2000. -- Lowell Bezanis, 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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