In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires. - Ben Franklin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 7, Part I, 10 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CHECHENS RELEASE HOSTAGES, LEAVE KIZLYAR. After all-night negotiations
with prominent Dagestani officials, a group of Chechen militants
occupying a hospital in the town of Kizlyar withdrew their demands and
released the majority of their estimated 3,000 hostages on 10 January,
ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The group of several hundred
militants, under the command of Salman Raduev, left for Chechnya with
160 people, including Dagestani government officials who volunteered to
take the place of the hostages. Earlier, Raduev had extended his
original demand, saying Russian forces should withdraw from the entire
North Caucasus, not just from Chechnya and Dagestan. He also requested
that Russian leaders hold a face-to-face meeting with Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev, who is related to him by marriage, according to ITAR-
TASS. The pro-Moscow Chechen government issued a statement on 9 January
condemning the hostage taking and expressing sympathy with the residents
of Kizlyar, Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

RUSSIAN POLITICIANS BLAME GOVERNMENT FOR KIZLYAR. Several Russian
politicians attributed the hostage crisis in the Kizlyar to the failed
policy of the Russian government in Chechnya, NTV reported on 10
January. Duma deputy and human rights activist Sergei Kovalev said that
Kizlyar is the "logical result of government policy in Chechnya,"
including the recent "farcical" elections for Chechen leader. Yabloko
leader Grigorii Yavlinskii urged President Yeltsin to end the conflict
by negotiating the full withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic
with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. A political commentary on Ekho
Moskvy blamed the Kizlyar events on the government's "ostrich-like
tactics of neither war, nor peace" in Chechnya. -- Constantine Dmitriev

PRIMAKOV APPOINTED FOREIGN MINISTER. President Boris Yeltsin appointed
the current director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Yevgenii
Primakov, as Foreign Minister on 9 January, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Primakov, 66, is a Middle Eastern expert. He has served as
director of the Soviet and then Russian foreign intelligence services
since September 1991, when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev appointed
him to the position. Before 1991, Primakov served as a foreign policy
adviser to Gorbachev, often serving as an advance man in the preparation
of summit meetings with Western leaders. He is notorious for his role in
Gorbachev's February 1991 efforts to mediate the Persian Gulf crisis, in
which Primakov tried to make use of his long-standing acquaintance with
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. From 1985-1989, Primakov was director of
the Institute for World Economy and International Relations and one of
the architects of Gorbachev's "new thinking." -- Scott Parrish

REACTION TO PRIMAKOV APPOINTMENT. Primakov's appointment met with
approval in Moscow but evoked a guarded response from Western capitals,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 January. U.S. Secretary of
State Warren Christopher said he expected to have a good relationship
with Primakov, noting there is no "reason for me to prejudge the
situation." But anonymous officials in Washington expressed surprise and
concern at the appointment, Reuters reported. Primakov is regarded as
much less sympathetic to Western interests than his predecessor because
of his current position as head of foreign intelligence and his close
ties with Middle Eastern leaders, acquired during his years as a
journalist and academic studying the region. Vladimir Lukin, chairman of
the Duma International Affairs Committee, welcomed Primakov's
appointment, saying "he understands what Russia's real priorities are."
Independent foreign policy analyst Andrei Kortunov described Primakov as
"pragmatic" but said "he is not a liberal in the Kozyrev sense." --
Scott Parrish

YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. President Yeltsin appointed
a new deputy prime minister on 9 January, bringing the number of Viktor
Chernomyrdin's deputies back to eight following the resignation on 5
January of Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. The new appointee, the
little known Vladimir Kinelev, is chairman of the State Committee for
Higher Education. According to ITAR-TASS, Kinelev was born in 1945 and
is a graduate of the prestigious Bauman Higher Technical School in
Moscow. He obtained his first senior state post in 1990, becoming first
deputy chairman of the RSFSR State Committee for Science and Higher
Schools. From 1992 until the Science Ministry was reorganized in April
1993, he served as first deputy minister of science and technical
policy. He then obtained the new post of Higher Education State
Committee chairman. -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN: CABINET CHANGES NOT CONNECTED TO ELECTION RESULTS. Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said recent cabinet changes are only
designed "to make the government work better" and "have no relation to
the elections to the State Duma," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January.
Since the elections, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev have resigned their posts to serve in the Duma.
Neither were members of the prime minister's bloc, Our Home Is Russia
(NDR), which won only about 10% of the vote on party lists. No one has
yet been appointed to succeed Sergei Belyaev as State Property Committee
chairman; Belyaev quit the government to lead the NDR Duma faction. --
Laura Belin

GROUP PROPOSING ZYUGANOV FOR PRESIDENT FORMED. An initiative group
nominating Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) leader
Gennadii Zyuganov for president was formed in Moscow, Russian media
reported on 9 January. Valentin Chikin and Aleksandr Prokhanov, the head
editors of Sovetskaya Rossiya and Zavtra, joined the group; Chikin
called Zyuganov "an absolutely irreproachable person morally, a bold
strategist and a skillful tactician." Prokhanov has in the past called
for all communist and nationalist forces to unite their efforts against
the current regime. Russian TV reported that a plenum of the KPRF will
soon nominate Zyuganov officially. -- Laura Belin

ANPILOV NOT SURE YET ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL BID. Contrary to earlier reports
that Viktor Anpilov, leader of the orthodox communist Workers' Russia,
will seek the Russian presidency in June 1996, a representative of the
movement told Interfax on 8 January that Anpilov is still negotiating
with other left-wing parties to nominate a single candidate. She said if
other communists ignore his appeals, Workers' Russia will formally
nominate Anpilov for president at a congress on 18-19 January. Anpilov's
group campaigned for the Duma in the bloc Communists-Workers' Russia-For
the Soviet Union after Zyuganov rejected his bid for an electoral
alliance with the KPRF. -- Laura Belin

MAVRODI SEEKS PRESIDENCY. Two more initiative groups nominating
candidates for the presidential election were registered on 9 January,
Russian media reported. The first will collect signatures for Sergei
Mavrodi, the head of the notorious MMM investment fund who was stripped
of his immunity from prosecution as a Duma deputy in October 1995 and
failed to win reelection to the parliament in the December elections.
The second supports businessman Leonid Kazakov, who was born in 1953 and
is an economics adviser to a Saratov fund. Most of the initiative groups
registering with the Central Electoral Commission are unlikely to obtain
the million signatures necessary for their candidates to run in the
election. -- Penny Morvant

RYZHKOV TRYING TO FORM DUMA FACTION. Former Soviet Prime Minister
Nikolai Ryzhkov has recruited 27 deputies to join a Duma faction under
his leadership, to be called Popular Power, Russian media reported on 9
January. Ryzhkov's Power to the People bloc won nine Duma seats in
single-member districts; he needs 35 deputies in order to form a
registered faction. According to Power to the People co-leader Sergei
Baburin, the group has been joined by filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin,
formerly of the now-defunct Democratic Party of Russia, and Svyatoslav
Fedorov, leader of the Party of Workers' Self-Management. The five
deputies elected from the Congress of Russian Communities will also
join, Radio Rossii reported. The group's leaders said their main goal
will be to change the government's economic policy. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN VETOES AMENDMENTS TO MILITARY LAW. President Boris Yeltsin again
vetoed amendments to the law on military service passed by the outgoing
Duma on 22 December, Ekho Moskvy reported on 9 January (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 28 December 1995). Yeltsin said the amendments, which would have
retained the 18-month service term for draftees called up before 1 May
1995, would damage Russian national security. Sergei Yushenkov, chairman
of the Defense Committee in the old Duma, said the decision may damage
Yeltsin's prospects in the June 1996 presidential election and said he
hopes the incoming Duma will override the veto. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA SAYS FISHING DISPUTE IS RED HERRING. A spokesman for the Russian
Ministry of Fisheries denied on 9 January Russian media reports that
Norway had placed strict limits on the amount of herring Russian
trawlers can catch in Norwegian territorial waters, ITAR-TASS reported.
The spokesman praised the current level of cooperation between Russia
and Norway on fishing issues and said that no "herring war" was in
sight, noting that Russo-Norwegian talks on fishing cooperation would
open on 23 January in Moscow. Meanwhile, on the same day, the ministry
announced that in 1995, Russian fishermen had caught 4.2 million tons of
fish, a 18.6% increase over the 1994 catch. -- Scott Parrish

MOONIES REPORTEDLY RECRUITING IN URALS SCHOOLS. The Unification Church
of Reverend Sun Myung Moon is seeking new followers in the Urals area
and school teachers have been introducing pupils to the sect, according
to a report on NTV on 7 January. The program alleged that a textbook
used in optional courses at 80 schools in the city of Yekaterinburg was
based on Moon's teachings. The local authorities have now banned the
courses. One local teacher interviewed by NTV said that rich foreign
sects had been offering computers and free courses to the schools. A
variety of religious sects have become increasingly active in Russia in
recent years. -- Penny Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL CREATED BY DECREE IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstani
President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree establishing a
Constitutional Council to replace the Constitutional Court, ITAR-TASS
and Radio Rossii reported on 9 January. The council will carry on the
court's function of ensuring that country's laws are in harmony with the
constitution. While the council is an independent state body, the head
of the state has the right to appoint or dismiss its president and up to
two of its seven members. In the future, the council will include former
heads of state. -- Bruce Pannier

WHAT AKAYEV WILL GAIN BY REFERENDUM. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev
released a draft law on 9 January detailing the additional powers he
will receive if citizens vote for the law in the 10 February referendum,
Reuters reported. The proposed law would give the president the power to
appoint the prime minister and the chairman of the central bank, as well
as the right to nominate the chairman of the Central Electoral
Commission. Also, the president will have greater power to veto
legislation and will be more difficult to impeach. The opposition in the
Zhogorku Kengesh, the Kyrgyz parliament, criticized the draft as an
attempt to turn Kyrgyzstan into a "presidential republic." -- Bruce
Pannier

ANOTHER MINISTERIAL REPLACEMENT IN UZBEKISTAN. President Islam Karimov
appointed Marks Jumaniazov to replace Rasulmat Khusanov as the new
agriculture minister, Interfax reported on 9 January. This is the latest
shake-up in the administration resulting from Karimov's concerns that
agricultural reform is not moving quickly enough. Until now, Jumaniazov
was the hokim of the Khorezm wilayat, a region that has been
comparatively successful under the economic reforms. A special
commission headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Jurabekov has
been evaluating agricultural efficiency in the regions for the past 18
months. -- Roger Kangas

KAZAKHSTAN FAILS TO HONOR CONTRACT WITH CHELYABINSK. The Chelyabinsk
electro-metallurgical combine, which is responsible for providing much
of the income for the entire city, is at a virtual standstill due to
"the absence of ore," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Kazakhstan has
failed to deliver the chrome used in the production of high-quality
steel to the combine despite an agreement signed at the end of 1995.
Last year, even in a situation of financial uncertainty, budgetary and
extra-budgetary funding provided 20 billion rubles monthly to Kalinin
Raion of the city. The cessation of production at the combine means that
for the first quarter of this year, the monthly budget will likely
amount to about 2 billion rubles, leaving doctors, teachers, and
thousands of other workers without pay. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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