The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 5, Part I, 8 January 1996


We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. This part focuses on Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia.
Part II, distributed simultaneously as a second document, covers
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.  Back issues of the Daily
Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW
pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
KOZYREV CALLS IT QUITS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
submitted his resignation to President Boris Yeltsin on 5 January,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Subsequently, presidential press
secretary Sergei Medvedev announced that Yeltsin had accepted the
resignation but emphasized that it would not precipitate any major
changes in Russian foreign policy. Ostensibly, Kozyrev resigned to take
the Duma seat he won in a Murmansk single-member constituency (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). However, Kozyrev had registered to run
for the seat in October, shortly after Yeltsin publicly suggested that
he might sack him; winning the seat gave Kozyrev a face-saving way to
leave office, while allowing Yeltsin to jettison his unpopular foreign
minister. No replacement for Kozyrev has yet been announced, but
frequently mentioned candidates include Duma International Affairs
Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin, First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov, and presidential foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov. -- Scott
Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

REACTION TO KOZYREV'S RESIGNATION. Predictably, foreign observers
expressed disappointment at Kozyrev's departure, while Russian
politicians and commentators warmly greeted the resignation of the
highly unpopular foreign minister, Russian and Western agencies
reported. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and his German and
Ukrainian counterparts, Klaus Kinkel and Henadii Udovenko, expressed
regret at Kozyrev's departure. Kinkel emphasized that Kozyrev had
understood the importance of close ties with the West. Duma
International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin, a long-time
critic of Kozyrev, described the resignation as "the right move," but
politically long overdue, noting that he had been calling for Kozyrev's
removal since 1992. Kozyrev's departure is unlikely to trigger a
significant shift in Russian policy. Kozyrev himself had long ceased to
be as pro-Western as his opponents claimed and had been marginalized in
the Russian foreign policy process for several months. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN LEANING TOWARDS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. Although President Boris
Yeltsin has repeatedly said that he will not decide whether to run for a
second term until February, his intensive schedule of public appearances
since returning to the Kremlin on 29 December strongly suggest that he
will seek re-election, according to an NTV political commentary on 7
January. At a 5 January Kremlin holiday ceremony, Yeltsin said he is
thinking "more and more" about whether to run for a second term. NTV
suggested that Yeltsin has already made up his mind to run again, but
now simply needs to make the decision appear "natural." In order to keep
himself in the political limelight, Yeltsin also issued a decree on 5
January setting 23 January as the date for the first meeting of the new
Federation Council, adding that he will personally open the session. --
Scott Parrish

YELTSIN ATTENDS CHRISTMAS SERVICE AT NEW CATHEDRAL. President Yeltsin,
Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and All Russia, and Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov participated in a ceremony to mark Orthodox Christmas at the
newly rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Central Moscow on 7
January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin helped Aleksii
lay the final brick of the cathedral's outside walls, the construction
of which began a year ago. Yeltsin hailed the rapid reconstruction of
the church, which was first completed in 1883 but razed by Stalin in
1931, as proof of Russia's greatness, saying "This shows that Russia is
alive, that the Russian spirit is alive." In what sounded like a
campaign speech, Yeltsin declared: "The time of crisis has passed,
stability and improvement are ahead." -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS WITH ZYUGANOV, ZHIRINOVSKY. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin discussed a "wide range" of political and economic issues
with Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 6 January, but Zyuganov
said the question of Communist participation in the cabinet was not
raised, Russian and Western media reported. Chernomyrdin's spokesman
said the prime minister met with Liberal Democratic Party leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky on 5 January, but released no further details. --
Laura Belin

YUSHENKOV: DEMOCRATS WILL NOT FORM DUMA FACTION. Sergei Yushenkov,
leader of the nine Duma deputies from Russia's Democratic Choice,
acknowledged on 5 January that his attempts to form a "centrist
democratic" faction of pro-reform deputies had failed, NTV reported.
Last week, Yushenkov said he had recruited 22 out of the 35 deputies
required to form an officially registered faction, but he admitted
defeat following the defection of four members, including Forward,
Russia! leader Boris Fedorov. -- Laura Belin

NINETEEN CANDIDATES TURN DOWN DUMA SEATS. According to the Central
Electoral Commission, 19 candidates elected to the Duma from party lists
chose to keep their old jobs rather than serve in parliament, Russian TV
reported on 5 January. At least six candidates from Our Home Is Russia
(NDR), including the top three, turned down their Duma seats, although
Minister without portfolio Nikolai Travkin and Vladimir Zorin, deputy
head of the federal administration in Chechnya, did quit their posts to
join the NDR Duma faction. Six candidates out of 50 from the Liberal
Democratic Party also declined to serve, but only two out of the 99
Communist Party candidates and one out of Yabloko's 31 party-list
deputies turned down their seats, NTV reported on 7 January. -- Laura
Belin

PAPER CRITICIZES POLITICIANS WHO GAVE UP DUMA SEATS. "Many of those who
call themselves politicians in our country have not yet grasped the
seriousness of their work," according to a 6 January commentary in the
military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda. The author of the article wrote that
by appearing on party lists, the would-be deputies promised voters that
they would apply their talents in parliament, but it turns out "they
simply deceived their admirers." The article did not specifically
mention Lt. Gen. Lev Rokhlin, who gave up his number three position for
Our Home Is Russia in order to continue to serve in the army. -- Laura
Belin

GROUP SAYS PRESS FREEDOM "LARGELY FLOUTED" IN CHECHNYA. According to
Oleg Panfilov of the Glasnost Defense Foundation, press freedom has been
"largely flouted" in Chechnya since the war began in December 1994, AFP
reported on 7 January. He said the foundation had documented 267 cases
in which journalists were wounded, beaten, arrested, or had film or
videotapes confiscated. -- Laura Belin

RUTSKOI TO BRING CHARGES OVER CORRUPTION CASE. Former Vice President
Aleksandr Rutskoi has asked Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov to
institute criminal proceedings for forgery and abuse of office against
former members of the anti-corruption commission that accused Rutskoi of
misappropriating state funds in 1993, Interfax reported on 3 January,
citing "well-informed" sources. The charges against Rutskoi were finally
dropped in December due to "the absence of a crime" (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 14 December 1995). But the agency quoted Rutskoi as saying that
the case cannot be closed as long as "the people who forged documents"
to discredit him as a politician remain unpunished. -- Penny Morvant

SUPREME COURT SAYS ELECTIONS IN MOSCOW OBLAST VALID. The Supreme Court
rejected Moscow Oblast Duma Deputy Chairman Valerii Galchenko's appeal
to have the second round of the oblast's gubernatorial elections
declared invalid (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 January 1996), NTV reported
on 6 January. Galchenko said he was going to challenge the court's
decision. Governor Anatolii Tyazhlov, who was re-elected on the ticket
of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia (NDR) bloc,
said at his inauguration ceremony that he had won the election fairly,
Russian TV reported. In his congratulatory telegram to the governor,
President Yeltsin said the elections had once again confirmed the
respect and authority that Tyazhlov enjoys among the people of the
region. -- Anna Paretskaya

FEDERATION COUNCIL VOTES FOR KALININGRAD ECONOMIC ZONE. The Federation
Council endorsed a bill on creating a special economic zone in the
Kaliningrad Oblast, Russian media reported on 5 January. The
establishment of the free economic zone is aimed at encouraging capital
investment, foreign trade, and business enterprise in the region. The
zone covers all of the oblast, except army bases and compounds, defense
plants, and oil and gas facilities, Interfax reported. -- Anna
Paretskaya

RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT EXPELLED FROM SWITZERLAND ON INTELLIGENCE CHARGES.
Swiss authorities confirmed on 7 January earlier local media reports
that a Russian diplomat had been expelled from Switzerland on 21
December for "illegal information gathering," ITAR-TASS reported. An
official from the Swiss Department of Justice and Police said the
diplomat, who he refused to name, was accused of conducting intelligence
activities in Switzerland. -- Constantine Dmitriev

ECONOMICS MINISTER TO BE DISMISSED? On 6 January, Ekho Moskvy reported
that President Yeltsin was about to dismiss Economics Minister Yevgenii
Yasin, but Yeltsin's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, denied it the next
day. The first reports of an impending purge of the ministry surfaced
two weeks ago (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 December 1995). The focus of
Yeltsin's wrath was the ministry's failure to release a 150 billion
ruble ($33 million) credit for the Krasnoyarsk harvester plant. Speaking
on NTV on 7 January, Yasin defended his position, explaining that the
government froze all industrial subsidies in August 1995. He added that
"the rumors of my dismissal are exaggerated." It is unlikely that
Yeltsin would dismiss Yasin as a concession to the Communist bloc in the
new Duma. Contrary to many Western reports, Yasin is not a reformer from
the Chubais camp. He is a centrist figure close to conservative
industrialists. In related news, Yeltsin's chief adviser on economic
issues, the 47-year-old Aleksandr Livshits, was hospitalized with heart
trouble on 4 January. -- Peter Rutland

COST OF LIVING DATA. The cost of the basic monthly consumer basket of 19
essential goods rose 130% during 1995 and stood at 235,000 rubles ($52)
by the end of December, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 January, citing the
State Statistics Committee. The basket ranged from 508,000 rubles in
Yakutsk and 300,000 in Murmansk to 132,000 in Ulyanovsk. In Moscow it
cost 277,000 rubles. Among the steepest price rises last year were
utilities (400%) and urban mass transit (220%). -- Peter Rutland

CORRUPTION IN BRYANSK. A control commission from the Finance Ministry
found "serious violations" in the work of the Bryansk Oblast
Privatization Committee, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 January. As a result,
the head of the committee, Sergei Kozlov, was suspended by the oblast
governor, who has asked the national State Privatization Committee to
fire him. The investigation documents have been passed to the
Procurator's Office. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

DIVISION AMONG TAJIK OPPOSITION. The Rastakhiz movement, outlawed in
Tajikistan since the end of 1992, gave a statement to ITAR-TASS on 5
January saying the movement "fully recognizes" the constitution,
president, and the measures underway "to strengthen the republic's
independence and implement democratic reforms." The move comes as a blow
to the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), which has already been criticized
by another opposition party, the Democratic Party of Tajikistan (DPT).
The DPT, also on 5 January, repeated its dissatisfaction with its role
in the ongoing inter-Tajik talks. A DPT spokesman, Azam Afzali,
criticized the Islamic Renaissance Party's dominant role at the peace
talks, saying the negotiations will not yield "the desired results"
without the DPT's participation, according to ITAR-TASS. The DPT
suffered a split in its ranks in late May when its former leader,
Shodman Yusuf, returned to Tajikistan and announced his support for the
government. He was then voted out of the party by the membership in
exile. -- Bruce Pannier

KARIMOV RECEIVES BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER. Malcolm Rifkind concluded a
two-day visit to Uzbekistan on 6 January which was well-received in the
Uzbek press, Russian and Western sources report. Rifkind met with his
counterpart, Abdulaziz Kamilov, as well as President Islam Karimov. Of
particular importance were agreements on business cooperation, water
purification assistance for the Aral Sea region, and strategies to
combat the increasing drug trade in Central Asia. In addition, Rifkind
declared his support for the proposed UN-based peacekeeping force that
would include units from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and he
called the British and Uzbek position on the Tajik and Afghan crises to
be "practically identical." -- Roger Kangas

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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              Copyright (C) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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