This is the true nature of home-- it is the place of Peace; the shelter, not only from injury, but from all terror, doubt and division. - John Ruskin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 119, Part I, 20 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
BUDENNOVSK HOSTAGES RELEASED, GUNMEN DEPART FOR CHECHNYA. On the
afternoon of 19 June, after two days of intense negotiations, Chechen
fighters led by Shamil Basaev left the Budennovsk hospital and departed
for Chechnya in a convoy of buses, Western and Russian agencies
reported. Over 764 hostages were simultaneously freed by the Chechen
gunmen. Under the agreement reached between Basaev and Russian Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the gunmen are guaranteed safe passage
back to Chechnya. As "insurance," about 150 volunteers including eight
parliamentary deputies, are accompanying Basaev and his 73 fighters.
Basaev has promised that the volunteers will be released upon arrival in
Chechnya. While en route, the convoy was denied entry to North Ossetia,
and re-routed through Dagestan, delaying its arrival, ITAR-TASS reported
on 20 June. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN-CHECHEN NEGOTIATIONS OPEN. As Basaev' s convoy headed for
Chechnya, Russian-Chechen talks began in Grozny, international and
Russian agencies reported on 19 June. OSCE official Szandar Mezaros,
acting as a mediator in the talks, told Russian television the talks had
touched on various "military issues" related to a ceasefire. Mezaros
added that he was "very pleased" with the course of the talks, an
opinion echoed by Usman Imaev, former Procurator-General in the Dudaev
government and head of the Chechen delegation. Commenting on the talks
in Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told Russian TV
that it was very important to keep the negotiation process going in
order to "end hostilities," and allow a "return to normalcy" in
Chechnya. However, Chernomyrdin did not promise to withdraw federal
troops from the breakaway republic, and emphasized that any settlement
must fit "within the framework of the constitution." -- Scott Parrish,
OMRI, Inc.

DUMA CONSIDERS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The outcome of the Duma' s 21 June
vote of no confidence in the government depends on the actions of Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Radio Rossii reported 19 June. "The
chances of passing a vote of no confidence in the government are highest
since the election of this parliament," because the authorities cannot
ensure citizens'  security, Boris Fedorov, leader of Forward, Russia!
said. Fedorov believes that such a vote would weaken Chernomyrdin' s Our
Home is Russia bloc. However, Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the Security
Committee, said many factions of the Duma might not demand the removal
of the entire government, but just some of the key ministers. The Duma'
s first no-confidence vote does not obligate the president to act. But
if it repeats the vote within three months, the president must either
sack his government or dissolve the parliament. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN' S ROLE IN HOSTAGE CRISIS PRAISED . . . By assuming
responsibility for the fate of Russian hostages in Budennovsk and
apparently securing their release, Chernomyrdin has supplanted Yeltsin
as the central figure during the crisis, Russian and Western media
reported on 19 June. Chernomyrdin kept his composure during a series of
telephone conversations with Chechen leader Shamil Basaev, some of them
broadcast on national television. A commentator for Ekho Moskvy praised
Chernomyrdin' s "decisive, public and moral" actions, arguing that the
prime minister' s skill contrasted with Yeltsin' s poor handling of the
crisis. Meanwhile, Yeltsin' s chief of staff Sergei Filatov emphasized
that the president authorized Chernomyrdin' s negotiations. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

. . . AND CRITICIZED. Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Yerin is to
blame for allowing Basaev and his troops to get out of Chechnya and into
Budennovsk, according to Izvestiya on 20 June. The newspaper also
accuses the government of storming and shelling the hospital despite the
fact that hundreds of innocent people were inside. The storming of the
hospital echoed the government' s methods in Chechnya where it "shoots
first and asks questions later" and pays the price in human lives,
according to the newspaper. It also criticized the "crude demagoguery"
of Chernomyrdin' s conversations with Basaev, which were broadcast on
Russian television. It concluded that "the Russian state demonstrates
impotence when it thoughtlessly uses force to destroy its own citizens."
Meanwhile, Boris Fedorov, the leader of Forward, Russia!, accused the
prime minister of using the crisis to improve the electoral prospects of
his bloc Our Home Is Russia. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHARGES TO BE FILED IN JOURNALIST' S DEATH IN BUDENNOVSK. Military
prosecutors in Pyatigorsk will charge one soldier with violating
regulations on handling firearms in the 17 June shooting death of
Russian journalist Natalya Alyakina in Budennovsk, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 19 June. Alyakina, a correspondent for the German
magazine Focus, was shot in her car shortly after Interior Ministry
soldiers checked and approved her documents. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

SECURITY IN MOSCOW TIGHTENED. Security at the Russian government
building in Moscow has been tightened due to the terrorist act in
Budennovsk, Interfax reported on 19 June. The reinforced militia cordons
surrounding the government building have been strengthened with a fully
armed combat vehicle located behind the fence of the cabinet' s
residence. Meanwhile, all traffic police posts on the highway encircling
Moscow have been reinforced by special purpose police armed with
automatic rifles. Interfax reported that practically all trucks with
non-Moscow license plates are being checked, especially those from the
North Caucasus. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN APPRAISAL OF G-7 MEETING. Russia "fully participated" in
economic discussions that concerned it at the G-7 summit in Halifax, a
high-ranking Russian diplomat told Interfax on 19 June. Pavel Smirnov,
director of the Economic Cooperation Department of the Russian Foreign
Ministry, added that the Halifax meeting made progress on several issues
important to Russia. In their final communique, the G-7 leaders
supported the idea of restructuring Russian debt, which Smirnov said
will facilitate negotiations on a detailed accord this fall. On 20 June,
Izvestiya criticized President Yeltsin for choosing to go to Halifax
during the Budennovsk crisis, and derided claims by the presidential
administration that the "Seven" had been transformed into "Seven and a
Half" as humiliating. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

FOREST FIRES BLAZE IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST. Fires have been blazing over
more than 15,000 hectares of Siberian taiga in 63 separate parts of the
Khabarovsk oblast on 19 June,
Itar-Tass reported. More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the fires.
The cause of the fires is unknown. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE CONTINUES RISE AGAINST DOLLAR. The Russian ruble surged another 75
points against the U.S. dollar, despite the hostage crisis in
Budennovsk, closing at 4,590 rubles to $1 on 19 June MICEX trading,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Dealers said they expected the
ruble to keep rising as banks dump dollars to cash in profits and invest
in high-yielding domestic securities. Meanwhile, in a 18 June interview
with Segodnya, Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov said the
ruble, which began rising in May, cannot continue its present course as
long as inflation remains high. Inflation was at 7.9% a month in May and
is not expected to fall significantly in June. Davydov warned that
rising production costs will price Russian exports out of international
markets. He also said the government and Central Bank should be more
active in stopping the dollar' s fall. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTRY GAS STATION BLOWN UP. A gas station belonging
to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs was blown up in Moscow on 19
June, Radio Moscow reported. Sources do not rule out the possibility of
a terrorist act. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

UNEMPLOYMENT EXCEEDS 2 MILLION IN MAY. There were more than 2 million
registered unemployed in Russia last month according to the Labor
Ministry. This is a 70% increase compared to May 1994 and equals 2.4% of
the labor force, Russian Radio reported on 19 June. Meanwhile, the June
issue of Delovoi Express reported that the areas with the highest
unemployment rates are in the Ivanovo, Yaroslavl, Pskov, Kostroma, and
Vladimir oblasts, where the figures ranges from 6% to 9.5% of the labor
force. Moscow still has the lowest at 0.5%. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

OPPOSITION DEMANDS POSTPONEMENT OF ARMENIAN ELECTIONS. Some 15,000
people attended a 16 June demonstration in Erevan organized by 10
Armenian opposition parties to demand the immediate registration of
political parties and candidates who have been refused permission to run
in the parliamentary elections on 5 July, Noyan Tapan reported on 19
June. The demonstrators also demanded that the elections be postponed in
order to enable those candidates to organize pre-election campaigns.
Another demonstration was scheduled for 20 June to call for the
resignation of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan if the demands
are not met. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

SHODMON YUSUF COMEBACK IN TAJIKISTAN? The chairman of the coordinating
center of the opposition Democratic Party of Tajikistan in CIS states,
Azam Afzali, told Interfax on 19 June the party may soon be registered
in Tajikistan and expects to hold a founding conference in Dushanbe in
the near future. According to Afzali, Shodmon Yusuf is expected to
attend, having been personally invited back to Tajikistan by President
Imomali Rakhmonov. However, Yusuf was reportedly relieved of his duties
as party chairman at a June members'  meeting in Almaty after he
welcomed Rakhmonov' s election as president in November 1994. It is
unclear whether this development means the party has split into two
separate factions operating under the same name. -- Lowell Bezanis and
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

ALIEV FIRES ADVISER FOR DUPLICITY. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
has sacked state councilor Gabil Guseinli for alleged duplicity and
grave errors, Interfax reported on 19 June. Hitherto one of Aliev' s
staunchest supporters, Guseinli, whose Democratic Independence Party had
intended to form a coalition for the November elections with Aliev' s
Yeni Azerbaycan party, reportedly rejected Aliev' s rationale for
dismissing him and accused the president of establishing "a regime of
political hypocrisy." -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

SHEVARDNADZE IN ISRAEL. On 19 June, the second day of his three-day
state visit to Israel, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze
held talks with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and signed a series of
cooperation agreements on telecommunication, postal services,
agriculture, and cultural affairs, AFP reported. Shevardnadze also
announced that Georgia will open an embassy in Tel Aviv by the end of
1995. Relations between the two countries cooled in 1993 after Israel
rejected Shevardnadze' s request to purchase arms for use in the Abkhaz
conflict. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN-TURKMEN ACCORDS RATIFIED. The Turkmen parliament ratified 12
bilateral treaties signed in mid-May by Turkmen President Saparmurad
Niyazov and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, Interfax reported on
16 June. The Russian State Duma has frequently lagged behind the Turkmen
parliament in ratifying such agreements. Meanwhile, parliament passed a
law which bans the employment of close relatives as direct subordinates,
Interfax reported the same day. Niyazov is reported to have repeatedly
criticized officials for practicing nepotism. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
Inc.

CIS

LUKASHENKA IN ST. PETERSBURG. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
arrived in St. Petersburg on 19 June at the invitation of Mayor Anatoly
Sobchak to sign agreements on trade and economic cooperation, Radio
Rossii and Belarusian radio reported. The agreements are of considerable
importance for Belarus as the country has received some 45 vital
industrial components from the Russian city but since 1992, the supply
has almost dried up. -- Ustina Markus, 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 OMRI Daily
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Copyright (c) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved.


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