A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 107, Part I, 2 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
GRACHEV ACCEPTS LEBED'S RESIGNATION. Defense Minster Pavel Grachev
signed 14th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed's resignation
request, Russian agencies reported on 1 June. Grachev called Lebed an
"ordinary general" with political ambitions, whose resignation was not a
"tragedy." President Yeltsin has not yet accepted Lebed's resignation.
-- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

ADVERTISING TO BE RESUMED ON CHANNEL 1 . . . The Russian Public
Television company (ORT), which stopped running advertisements when it
took over Channel 1 broadcasting from Ostankino TV on 1 April, will soon
resume advertising on the network, Segodnya reported on 1 June. ORT
Director General Sergei Blagovolin said a new advertising code for the
network was near completion. Shortly before he was murdered on 1 March,
Vladislav Listev, then ORT director general, announced a temporary ban
on Channel 1 advertising and permanent changes in advertising rules. The
new rules will diminish the role of middlemen, who earned tens of
millions of dollars annually re-selling advertising time purchased at
cost from Ostankino. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

. . . AMID ACCUSATIONS OF CORRUPTION AT OSTANKINO. Meanwhile, Radio
Mayak on 1 June reported allegations of corrupt advertising practices at
Ostankino TV. The report charged that Alexander Dmitriev, vice-president
and chief economist at Ostankino, helped found a joint venture between
Ostankino and an Israeli television company in 1993 and was subsequently
paid a monthly salary of $40,000, even though Ostankino received very
little of the joint venture's revenues. Radio Mayak also asserted that
beginning in 1993, Ostankino had illegally broadcast advertisements for
Israeli companies. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

IGNATENKO APPOINTED DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR MEDIA. President Yeltsin
has appointed Vitaly Ignatenko to the post of deputy prime minister in
charge of media affairs, Interfax reported. Ignatenko will retain his
current position as director general of the official ITAR-TASS news
agency, according to Russian TV. However, Interfax reported that he will
leave this position immediately. According to First Deputy Prime
Minister Anatoly Chubais, Ignatenko will have to define his
responsibilities in coordination with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Shakhrai who is in charge of the media. Shakhrai may now take some
responsibility for foreign policy issues. Commentators from Chubais to
Mikhail Poltoranin, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Information
Policy, praised Ignatenko as a "top-notch professional." Oleg
Golembiovsky, editor of Izvestiya , told NTV he believes the appointment
is a government attempt to increase its influence over the media. --
 Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ROW OVER QUAKE AID FROM JAPAN. Japan will send a fourth batch of aid to
the victims of the earthquake on Sakhalin despite the bitterness sparked
by President Boris Yeltsin's remarks about its possible political price
tag, Kyodo News Agency reported on 2 June. Yeltsin said on 31 May that
Japan might use the aid issue to pressure Moscow to return the disputed
Kuril Islands. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin then added
insult to injury by saying Yeltsin's remarks relected Russian
astonishment that certain Japanese officials linked the territorial
question with all other issues, Reuters reported. Karasin also stressed,
however, that Russia greatly appreciated Japan's offer and said First
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets had telephoned the Japanese foreign
minister to coordinate relief efforts. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky
also sent a letter thanking Japan for its assistance and regretting
"individual irresponsible statements by Russia's top leadership,"
according to Interfax. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMINAL CASE INSTITUTED OVER SHODDY BUILDING WORK. The Sakhalin
Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal case to look into claims that
poor construction work contributed to the deaths in Neftegorsk during
Sunday's earthquake, Interfax reported on 1 June. At least 17 apartment
blocks collapsed in the disaster, burying an estimated 2,000 people. The
case is based on Article 251 of the Criminal Code on infringements of
building regulations. According to Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu,
the apartment blocks were put up in the 1960s before Sakhalin was
considered an earthquake zone. Meanwhile, Fuel and Energy Minister Yury
Shafranik has rebuffed suggestions that the quake could place the future
of the oil industry on Sakahlin in doubt, noting that oil pipelines had
suffered only 16 minor leaks as a result of the quake. -- Penny Morvant,
OMRI, Inc.

FSB PROHIBITS PUBLISHING OF WINTER HARVEST PROJECTIONS. For the first
time in several years, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has forbidden
the publication of official winter-crop harvest projections, Ekho Moskvy
and Interfax reported on 1 June. An FSB spokesman told Ekho Moskvy that
harvest information should be considered a "commercial secret." However,
another FSB spokesman denied the reports the same day, according to
Reuters. Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin and Duma
Budget Committee Deputy Chairman Gennady Kulik supported the idea of
keeping harvest projections secret. Ilyukhin argued that releasing such
information would give Western nations leverage to use against Russian
security interests. Agriculture Minister Alexander Nazarchuk has
previously forecast a winter harvest of 82 million tons, but the real
figures are expected to be much lower. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW TO DISCUSS FINANCING OF RECONSTRUCTION IN CHECHNYA. The State
Commission for Postwar Reconstruction of Chechnya, headed by Soskovets,
met on 1 June to consider ministry proposals on financing reconstruction
work in Chechnya, Interfax reported. The government plans to spend 5.7
trillion rubles ($1.14 billion) by the end of 1995. In May alone, it
allocated 35.1 billion rubles ($7.02 million) to be paid as wages and
social benefits to Chechen residents, senior commission spokesman Yury
Mikhailov told the news agency. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Defense
Minister Andrei Kokoshin said spending on defense has dropped far behind
that on other sectors of the Russian economy this year, as less than
half of the funds planned for defense projects have been allocated from
January to May, AFP reported. A shortage of cash has led to delayed wage
payments and slower production of military hardware. No figures were
released. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RYBKIN CONTINUES BUILDING LEFT-CENTER BLOC. State Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin is conducting talks with more than 20 parties and movements to
build a left-center bloc to counter Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's
right-center bloc, the speaker told an interviewer from Rossiiskaya
gazeta. He claims that at least 120 to 140 Duma deputies, mainly
representing single-member districts, are interested in the bloc. Rybkin
said the bloc will be concerned in particular with the fast pace of
reform, pointing out that a car driver should not speed up when he sees
a sign saying, "Road Construction Ahead." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

TURKISH SPY SPILLS BEANS? Turkey has officially denied that it is
conducting espionage in Chechnya following the arrest of Turkish
national Isak Kasap in Dagestan, AFP reported on 31 May. The Russian
Foreign Ministry lodged an official protest accusing Turkey of sending
secret agents to assist Chechen rebels, AFP reported on 1 June. Ministry
spokesman Karasin told journalists Kasap had talked about his mission,
revealed the names of individuals working at the headquarters of the
Turkish national intelligence service (MIT), and divulged the name of
another spy who had met with Dzhokhar Dudaev in March. Members of the
Turkey-based "Committee of Caucasus-Chechen Solidarity" also say members
of their group in Chechnya have been arrested. Following low-key talks
in February, Turkey promised Russia it would not support the Chechen
rebels. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

RATIFICATION NECESSARY FOR PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE? Any agreement on
Russian participation in the Partnership for Peace program must be
ratified by the Russian parliament, State Duma Security Committee
Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin told Interfax on June 1. Ilyukhin added that
such an agreement would stand little chance of ratification. A high-
ranking Foreign Ministry official disputed Ilyukhin's claim, stating
that there is no constitutional or legal need for parliamentary
ratification, as the agreements are only "working plans," outlining
areas of cooperation between Russia and NATO. The official added that
the agreements should not have come as a surprise to the parliament,
because deputies had participated in the drafting process. -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

AGREEMENT COULD INCREASE RUSSIAN INFLUENCE ON NATO EXPANSION. By joining
the Partnership for Peace (PfP), Russia has increased its chances of
"defending its interests" on the issue of NATO expansion, according to
Krasnaya zvezda on 1 June. The newspaper did, however, criticize the
timing of the agreements. Recent NATO decisions in Bosnia, he argued,
show the alliance remains unwilling to treat Russia as a full and equal
partner on matters of European security. Nevertheless, the paper argued,
the institutionalization of NATO-Russian consultation and cooperative
measures through PfP may offer a better chance for Russian views to be
heard and considered by NATO leaders. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT TO EASE STOCK MARKET RULES FOR FOREIGNERS. The Russian
government plans to ease the rules on the purchase of Russian securities
by foreigners, the Financial Information Agency reported on 1 June. The
Federal Commission for Securities and the Stock Market (FCSSM) said the
commission, together with the Central Bank of Russia will finalize new
rules for non-resident purchases. Currently, foreign investors must
receive permission from the bank each time they wish to purchase Russian
enterprise shares. New legislation will only require that non-residents
notify the bank of the purchase. More than 60% of the off-exchange
market is controlled by domestic investors. Western share purchases have
amounted to no more than $200 million in recent months. In August 1994,
foreign investments reached a record high of $500 million. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA OPENS RADAR STATIONS. As part of a deal with Russia on joint air
defenses, Georgia opened two Soviet-era radar stations and a command
post controlling the airspace around Tbilisi on 1 June, Reuters
reported, citing Georgian television. Georgian air defense commander
Georgi Kvinikadze said Russia would supply equipment and train personnel
so that all Soviet-era air defense systems in the republic could be
reactivated. Without elaborating, he also said Georgian air space has
been repeatedly violated. Russia and Georgia agreed last year on the
original military cooperation package. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS ACCORD ON FIGHTING ORGANIZED CRIME. CIS security chiefs signed an
agreement on fighting organized crime at a meeting in Gudauri, Georgia
on 31 May, Interfax and NTV reported. Protocols were signed on various
issues including terrorism, nuclear smuggling, illegal armed formations,
and drug trafficking. The heads of the security services also agreed to
exchange personnel and set up a single database in Moscow. Azerbaijan's
representative said he had reached agreement with his Armenian
counterpart "on possible cooperation within certain limits and on
certain questions." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA FINANCING BLACK SEA FLEET ALONE. For the second year in a row,
Russia has been providing all the money to run the so-called "joint"
Black Sea Fleet, a senior fleet official told Interfax on 1 June.
Alexander Zhukov, the fleet's chief of finance, said sailors from
Ukraine are serving in the fleet and Ukraine has been asked to pay the
fleet's debts to Ukrainian shipyards to compensate for their wages. He
also said about 40% of the Russian money spent on the fleet went to
Ukraine in the form of taxes or payments. Zhukov reported that only help
from Russian regions and towns--above all Moscow--ensured the social
welfare of the fleet's crews. The laid-up aircraft-carrying cruiser
Moskva belongs to the fleet, and the Moscow authorities have financed
the construction of several blocks of apartments for its sailors. --
 Doug Clarke, 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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