Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 104, Part I, 30 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
DUMA COMMITTEE ON BOSNIAN CRISIS. The Duma Committee for International
Affairs has condemned NATO action in Bosnia-Herzegovina, dubbing the air
attacks of 25 and 26 May, and NATO's presence in general, a measure that
"only aggravates the situation and complicates the search for peaceful
ways to settle the Yugoslav crisis," Interfax reported on 29 May. The
committee also observed that while it was "far from justifying
uncivilized Serb operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina...the decision of NATO
to bomb the positions on one side of the conflict represents a challenge
to peace efforts." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV CONDEMNS "BARBARITY." Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
said Moscow "can no longer tolerate barbarity as regards peacekeepers in
Bosnia," Interfax reported. Nevertheless, the minister also stood firm
on his government's conviction that "shrinking from real work with
Belgrade, double standards in evaluating the actions of the conflicting
sides, [and] NATO bombing, although [carried out with] UN consent, does
nothing but aggravate the situation." Kozyrev met with his Contact Group
counterparts on 29 May in The Hague, where he outlined his opposition to
a withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Meanwhile, the
Belgrade daily Nasa Borba reported the following day that Russian
special envoy Alexander Zotov has finally arrived in the Serbian capital
for talks. No Russian troops have been taken prisoner or hurt in the
former Yugoslavia, according to Interfax citing Russian Airborne Troop
Commander Yevgeny Podkolzin. However, Nasa Borba reported that 37 ethnic
Russians are among the prisoners currently being held by the Bosnian
Serbs. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

KHASBULATOV CALLS FOR CHECHEN CEASEFIRE. Addressing the Russian
parliament hearings on human rights violations in Chechnya on 29 May,
former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov called for an
immediate ceasefire in Chechnya, Interfax reported. He said that should
be followed by the withdrawal of Russian federal troops whose presence,
he argued, creates tension throughout the North Caucasus. Khasbulatov's
attempt to find common ground in the fall of 1994 with Chechen
opposition leader Umar Avturkhanov ended in failure. Since then,
Khasbulatov has maintained his distance from the pro-Russian government
of national salvation in Grozny.  -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

AGRARIAN PARTY COUNCIL DISCUSSES ELECTION PLANS . . . Following a plenum
of the Agrarian Party council, party chairman Mikhail Lapshin pledged to
coordinate campaigns for parliamentary seats in single-member
constituencies with Gennady Zyuganov's Communist Party, Pravda reported
on 30 May. The platform developed at the plenum rejects the policies of
the "wild market," including planned reforms allowing the sale of land
to "large private landowners." Lapshin said "only the revival of the
villages can save Russia." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

. . . AND BEHAVIOR OF SOME LEADING MEMBERS. At the same plenum, regional
representatives expressed dissatisfaction with some of the Agrarian
Party's most prominent members, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 30 May.
The council asked Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha and
Agriculture Minister Alexander Nazarchuk why they had not done more to
draw leaders of regional agricultural organizations into the Agrarian
Party. Party members also questioned the recent behavior of Duma Speaker
Ivan Rybkin, who has made ambiguous statements concerning his possible
leadership of a center-left electoral bloc. Rybkin did not appear at the
council plenum. Although he still describes himself as a member of the
Agrarian leadership, since early May he has missed several meetings with
other party leaders. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

LETTER ACCUSING CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC FORGED. A forged letter accusing
leaders of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is
Russia, of direct contacts with criminals was circulated in the Duma,
Segodnya reported on 27 May. The letter was allegedly written by Union
of Journalists chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov, but Bogdanov called it a
"complete fraud." Segodnya noted that Duma Security Committee Chairman
Viktor Ilyukhin passed the letter on to the Prosecutor General's Office
without bothering to confirm its authenticity. The incident follows a
series of recent allegations against Chernomyrdin and his bloc. On 26
May, Boris Fedorov, leader of "Forward, Russia!," said Chernomyrdin
became one of Russia's ten richest men after receiving Gazprom stock
worth up to $1 billion in the company's privatization, Ekho Moskvy
reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA BY-ELECTION IN YEKATERINBURG INVALID. A 28 May by-election for a
Duma seat in Yekaterinburg was declared invalid due to a turnout of only
9% of eligible voters, Russian TV reported on 29 May. A turnout of at
least 25% was required to make the election valid. The Central Electoral
Commission told Interfax the same day that the by-election cost the
commission 1 billion rubles ($200,000), not including what the three
candidates themselves spent on the campaign. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA FOR NATO PARTNERSHIP. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
said on 30 May in the Netherlands that Russia will follow its individual
partnership program within NATO's Partnership for Peace, international
agencies reported the same day. He is also expected to endorse a second
document outlining a special consultative arrangement between NATO and
Russia. However, Kozyrev told ITAR-TASS that NATO's enlargement "does
not conform either with Russia's national security interests or with the
interests of European security." He said forcing the issue might
threaten further ties with the Western alliance. Kozyrev called for the
creation of an "effective non-bloc model of European security." -- Doug
Clark and Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

TURKEY, TATARSTAN SIGN AGREEMENT. Tatarstan and Turkey signed an
agreement in Ankara on 28 May dealing with trade, economic, scientific,
technical, and cultural cooperation, Interfax reported the next day.
Tatarstan Prime Minister Farid Muhametshin described the agreement as a
"historic document" which upgrades bilateral relations. The agreements
will pave the way for Tatarstan to open a mission in Ankara and
encourage trade relations. In 1994, trade with Turkey--valued at $39
million--represented 5% of Tatarstan's overall trade. -- Lowell Bezanis,
OMRI, Inc.

GOSKOMSTAT ANNOUNCES SLIGHT ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT. Russia's economy is
showing signs of growth, but inflation is still high, Goskomstat
chairman Yury Yurkov announced at a press conference with Russian and
Western agencies on 29 May. The chairman said both GDP and industrial
output have grown 1% since May 1994. Despite that rise, figures for the
first five months of 1995 show a decline; GDP fell 3% and industrial
output 5% compared to the same period of 1994. Yurkov said inflation is
falling, but not rapidly enough. The inflation rate in May will not be
5-6% as predicted but 7.5-8%. Monthly inflation has fallen sharply from
levels of almost 20% since January, but economists contend that to hold
the rate down, Russia must follow a tight monetary policy and reject
pressure from lobby groups for cash. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

SHADOW ECONOMY ACCOUNTS FOR OVER 20% OF GDP. Russia's shadow economy,
defined as goods concealed by producers in order to evade taxes,
accounts for 20-22% of the total GDP, Goskomstat chairman Yurkov told
Interfax on 29 May. Yurkov also said that from January to April 1995,
Russian residents spent 37.5 trillion rubles ($7.3 billion at the April
rate) on buying foreign currency, primarily U.S. dollars. However,
residents spent much less money on buying hard currency in May due to
the ruble's rise against the dollar. Ruble stability against the U.S.
dollar could help cut inflationary pressures because it would increase
the cost of imported goods which comprise a growing share of Russia's
consumer basket. The ruble was flat at 5,019 to $1 in 29 May MICEX
trading. The currency has risen 2% in May and is currently trading well
above April's all-time low of 5,130 rubles to $1. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

LEGAL PROBLEMS OF ARMS COMPANY DELAYS EXPORTS. The director general of
the state-owned Rosvooruzheniye arms export company told a Moscow news
conference on 29 May that the instigation of criminal proceedings
against the company had already provoked delays in implementing several
contracts totaling $108 million, Interfax reported. The official would
not identify the countries involved, but said the contracts are for BMP-
3 infantry fighting vehicles, various armored personnel carriers, and
Mi-17 helicopters. Rosvooruzheniye has been charged with tax evasion,
and some buyers are said to have suspended payments on deals while
waiting for the legal investigation to be completed. -- Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

SHEVARDNADZE ON ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA. In his regular Monday radio
broadcast, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze said the
decision taken at the CIS Minsk summit on 26 May to extend the CIS
peacekeeping mandate in Abkhazia to the end of 1995, constituted "a
landmark" in the quest for a settlement to the Abkhaz conflict, Interfax
reported. He added that Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze
will travel to Moscow to help draw up "a program of action" for the
peacekeeping force. Shevardnadze also told journalists in Tbilisi on 29
May that during talks on 27 May with North Ossetian President Akhsarbek
Galazov on the situation in South Ossetia, the two men had agreed to
create a team of experts who will lay the ground for talks between
Georgian and South Ossetian representatives scheduled for June. The
talks will deal with the return of refugees, the disarmament of illegal
units, and a resolution to South Ossetia's economic problems. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

ALIEV CONFIRMS HELSINKI TALKS. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
confirmed that talks on Nagorno-Karabakh would be held in Helsinki in
mid-June, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. Speaking at a meeting with
Vladimir Kazimirov, Russian co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk conference on
Nagorno-Karabakh, Aliev said he had reached an understanding on this
point with Armenian President Levon-Ter-Petrossyan at the Minsk summit
of CIS states. Last week, Armenia said it would not participate in the
talks unless it received security guarantees for its energy supplies
following an attack on a pipeline which cut its natural gas supplies.
The pipeline in question has since been repaired. -- Lowell Bezanis,
OMRI, Inc.

IRAN CUTS ELECTRICITY TO NAKHICHEVAN. Claiming non-payment for power
supplied in the past, Iran stopped delivering electricity to
Nakhichevan, Western agencies reported on 29 May. Reuters, citing the
Iranian daily Kar va Karga, noted that Azerbaijan owes Iran $10 million
for electricity; AFP, citing Iranian officials, reported that Azerbaijan
owes $6 million for power delivered to Nakhichevan. An accord for Iran
to supply 60% of the electricity needs of Nakhichevan has been in effect
since December 1992; the present cut-off is likely connected to
Azerbaijan's early April decision to cancel a deal allowing Iran to
participate in the international consortium which is to develop offshore
oil fields in the Caspian Sea. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

UKRAINE OFFERS NEW PROPOSALS ON BLACK SEA FLEET. In a letter to
President Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has proposed that
the two sides abandon the principle of separate basing for their shares
of the Black Sea Fleet and use separate installations instead, according
to issue no. 97 of Moskovskaya pravda. The paper noted that the proposal
is essentially the same as using bases. Kuchma said Ukraine is ready to
sign a treaty with Russia so that the two parts of the fleet can
function normally as national navies, but not at the expense of
Ukrainian territory, Ostankino reported on 29 May. The two presidents
are to meet in Sochi on 9 June to continue negotiations over the fleet.
-- 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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