I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself. - Aldous Huxley
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 106, Part I, 1 June 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
YELTSIN RELUCTANT TO ACCEPT JAPANESE AID FOR QUAKE VICTIMS. President
Yeltsin rebuffed an offer from Japan to help victims of the earthquake
on Sakhalin, remarking on 31 May that "we are able to deal with this
ourselves" and that "for years afterward, they wouldn' t let us forget
it and would then tell us to hand back the Kuril Islands," AFP reported.
Japan was quick to offer supplies and personnel, but Moscow accepted
only medicines, food, and water. Aid has also arrived from South Korea,
while the Russian Finance Ministry has allocated 70 billion rubles ($14
million) to the relief operation. Both officials and survivors have
blamed shoddy Soviet-era construction for the number of casualties from
the quake, which flattened the oil town of Neftegorsk, leaving 659 dead
and 295 injured as of 31 May. Scientists have also criticized the
government for underfunding seismological stations, noting that 30 have
been closed in the Far East, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
Inc.

RUSSIA LAUNCHES NEW SECURITY DIALOGUE WITH NATO. Russia launched its new
consultative dialogue with NATO on 31 May, international agencies
reported on 1 June. In addition to agreeing to pursue its own program in
NATO' s Partnership for Peace, Russia also agreed to start a new
security dialogue with the alliance. NATO sources believe such a
dialogue will allow NATO expansion to take place by the end of century.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said NATO must be
"transformed from a military alliance to a political organization" if it
is to become part of a pan-European security system. If NATO remains a
"purely military bloc," Russia must question "whom NATO is going to
defend itself against." Kozyrev stressed the importance of Russia' s new
relationship with NATO and said he looked forward to working out the
details of the arrangement. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

OBSERVER: MILITARY BESTS FOREIGN MINISTRY IN NATO POLICY. The Russian
Defense Ministry' s "principled" stance against NATO expansion has
prevailed over the "time-serving" views of the Foreign Ministry,
according to a high-ranking defense official quoted by Segodnya. "A set
of measures have been approved that should prevent NATO expansion," the
official said. Russia' s decision to join the Partnership for Peace
(PfP), was conditional on the NATO Council session' s decision not to
expand the alliance, Segodnya reported. Kozyrev expressed Russia' s
negative views regarding NATO expansion and suggested that "hasty
resolution" of the issue "would threaten" the usefulness of Russia' s
involvement in the PfP. The article predicted Russia would immediately
suspend its PfP participation if new members were accepted. In their
communique, NATO foreign ministers repeated their past formulations on
the "evolutionary" process of admitting new members, and expressed
satisfaction on the progress of the study to determine "how NATO will
enlarge." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

ILYUKHIN ANNOUNCES TWO APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. Duma Security
Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin is preparing two appeals to the
Constitutional Court, Radio Rossii reported on 31 May. In his first
appeal, Ilyukhin will charge that the Federation Council violates the
separation of powers, since half its members represent executive
branches of Russia' s 89 regions. In his second appeal, Ilyukhin will
ask the court to nullify the results of the 12 December 1993
constitutional referendum, arguing that the voter turnout was less than
the 50% required by law. Ilyukhin said he would submit the appeals
despite his doubts about the court' s objectivity and independence, NTV
reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

POLTORANIN DEFENDS LAW ON MASS MEDIA. Duma Press and Information
Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin defended the law on the mass media
that the Federation Council rejected on 23 May, Rossiiskaya gazeta
reported on 1 June. The law would replace most media subsidies with tax
breaks and lower customs duties. Poltoranin said the media' s political
and financial independence was at stake and criticized journalists who
"won' t lift a finger to protect themselves." He added that his
committee received very few suggestions on the draft law, despite
sending copies to the Union of Journalists and editors of more than 200
local newspapers. Poltoranin said the law would fight "shameless
monopolism" and create real competition in vital areas such as the
production of newsprint and publishing equipment. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
Inc.

REUTERS ACCUSED OF CONTROLLING NEWS MARKET. The Reuters news agency is
using its financial might to take control of the Russian news market,
according to an article in the 25-31 May edition of Obshchaya gazeta.
The author said Reuters is not a "fair fighter" and accused the agency
of offering higher salaries to the best Russian engineers,
photographers, and reporters. He also charged that the Reuters Moscow
bureau, which is oriented primarily towards financial and economic news,
has established "exclusive" relations with Russia' s 50 most powerful
banks. The author noted that AFP is also expanding its presence in
Russia. He warned that if laws are not written to protect the media, all
the news in Russia might soon be controlled by "foreign information
empires." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

POLEVANOV CONCENTRATES ON NEW POLITICAL MOVEMENT. Vladimir Polevanov,
fired on 29 May from his post as deputy head of the president' s
oversight department, said his New Russia bloc, which claims 5,000
members in 50 regions, will work in opposition to the government.
According to Moskovsky komsomolets on 31 May, he had turned his office
into a headquarters for the bloc and assigned his assistant to work for
it. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Presidential Chief of Staff
Sergei Filatov did not want to have an opposition bloc operating from
within the president' s administration and fired him. Polevanov was
deputy prime minister from November 1994 to January 1995, but lost that
position because of disagreements with Anatoly Chubais over
privatization. Moskovsky komsomolets reported that he had close ties
with presidential guard head Alexander Korzhakov and First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets, but Russian TV claimed he did not know them. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA AMENDS YELTSIN' S PLANS FOR AUTOMATED VOTING SYSTEM. During late
evening hearings on 30 May, State Duma members questioned whether the
president' s proposed electronic vote counting system had a proper legal
basis and whether it would keep information about voters confidential,
Interfax reported. The Duma also questioned the recommendation to buy
foreign equipment when domestic products are available. The plan
envisions the use of 5,000 computers and a 160 billion ruble ($32
million) budget to streamline the vote counting process as a way of
reducing the amount of money spent on each election campaign. Pravda
Rossii reported on 1 June that most of its readers believe the system
will be used to manipulate the election results. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN "ALARMED" BY STATUS OF RUSSIAN SPEAKERS. President Boris Yeltsin
is "very alarmed" by the status of Russian speakers in the "near
abroad," his aide for international affairs, Dmitry Ryurikov told
Interfax on 31 May. Ryurikov said Yeltsin continues to make appeals
protesting discrimination against the Russian-speaking population of
other CIS countries to bolster their confidence and ensure better
treatment for them. In this regard, Ryurikov called the OSCE a "very
useful channel for influencing states," although it does not "always
produce the result we expect." On 30 May, Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Grigory Karasin told Interfax that his ministry has "so far
failed to considerably improve the situation with regard to the rights
of ethnic Russians in the CIS and the Baltic states." He said the
ministry intends to increase the size and number of consular offices in
the "near abroad." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

IRAN, RUSSIA AND OIL. Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said
Iran wants to coordinate oil and gas policies with Russia, Reuters
reported on 31 May, citing IRNA. Rafsanjani also reiterated that Russian
President Boris Yeltsin has been invited to Tehran for wide-ranging
talks on political, military, and economic issues. The same day, Iranian
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told the daily Iran that Moscow is
willing to broaden its "close" ties with Tehran and the recent talks
between Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton "proved" it. Relations
between Tehran and Moscow have been increasingly warm of late; Russia
agreed, despite concerted U.S. opposition, to build a nuclear power
plant in Iran and to honor a multi-billion-dollar deal to exchange oil
for arms. Iran also supports Russia' s position on the need to negotiate
the status of the Caspian Sea and its resources. -- Lowell Bezanis,
OMRI, Inc.

MONEY CRUNCH HURTING MILITARY. Due to "inappropriate and untimely
financing" in the first quarter of this year, the Russian armed forces
have not received 720,000 metric tons of fuel and as a result "combat
training of land and naval forces has practically stopped," Interfax
reported on 31 May. The report warned that fuel supplies to federal
forces in Chechnya could be disrupted. In the Far East, several hundred
military shipyard workers picketed the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet
demanding their unpaid wages. They were told by Admiral Igor Khmelnov,
the fleet commander, that he did not have the money to pay the fleet' s
bills to their enterprises. The fleet press service told Interfax that
the fleet did not even have the money to send several units of
discharged sailors back to their homes. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

PARAMONOVA INSISTS ON TIGHTER MONETARY POLICY. As inflation falls, the
Central Bank of Russia (CBR) will gradually cut its refinancing rate
currently running at 195%, acting CBR Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova said
in a speech to the international forum on the Russian economy on 31 May,
Interfax reported. Due to the bank' s tighter monetary policy, money
supply ran at only 3% in the first quarter of 1995, compared to 10% in
1995, an indication that the inflation rate will continue to fall,
Paramonova said. Consumer prices are now rising at a monthly level of
12%, compared with 14% a year ago. The banker said a further drop in the
inflation rate is a condition for future economic growth and a flow of
foreign investment into the economy. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

LATEST TAJIK TALKS END ON POSITIVE NOTE. As the latest round of
negotiations wrapped up, the Tajik government and opposition agreed on
an exchange of prisoners of war and the repatriation of Tajik refugees
in Afghanistan, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. The Red Cross is
expected to oversee the repatriation. Nothing was resolved on the issue
of power sharing in the Central Asian republic, but the two sides agreed
to hold another round of talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, according to
Interfax. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was credited with
prodding the two sides toward some agreement. He called for a stop to
the bloodshed on the border. Recently, the Kyrgyz and Uzbek presidents
have also applied pressure on the two sides to come to an agreement.
Kazakh peacekeeping troops representing the CIS have suffered more
casualties than any other country this year, excluding Tajik soldiers.
At least 17 Kazakh peacekeepers were killed in April. -- Bruce Pannier,
OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN NUCLEAR-FREE. The last nuclear device in Kazakhstan has been
eliminated. On 31 May, an unstable plutonium charge was destroyed using
conventional explosives at the Semipalatinsk test site, Reuters
reported. Boris Lebedev, in charge of the operation, said there were no
changes in radiation levels above ground. The charge had the equivalent
of 300 tons of TNT and the detonation took place 425 ft. below ground.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev has said it would be the last explosion of
its kind in Kazakhstan. -- Bruce Pannier, 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
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is
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Copyright (c) Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.


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