Silence is the real crime against humanity. - Nadezhda Mandelstam
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 10, Part I, 15 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
RUSSIAN FORCES LAUNCH ATTACK ON PERVOMAISKOE. On the morning of 15
January at 9 a.m. (Moscow time) Russian forces assaulted the village of
Pervomaiskoe, where 150-200 Chechen rebels were holding 70-150 hostages.
After a two-hour barrage by artillery and helicopter gunships, Russian
infantry fought their way into the village. Moscow refused to grant
Salman Raduev's group safe passage back to Chechnya unless they were
willing to first give up their hostages and weapons. The Chechens were
given a deadline of 10 a.m. on 14 January (Moscow time), but that passed
without incident. On the afternoon of 14 January, talks ceased and the
Russians reported some firing from the Chechen side. Unconfirmed ITAR-
TASS reports on 15 January claimed that the Chechens had killed two
hostages that evening. -- Peter Rutland
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

WHY NEGOTIATIONS FAILED. The crisis began with the Chechen seizure of
the hospital in Kizlyar on 9 January. Dagestani officials negotiated the
release of most of the 3,000 hostages. In return, Raduev was given a
convoy of buses and allowed to return to Chechnya with 150 hostages
(including nine Dagestani ministers, who were later released). However,
Russian troops blocked the convoy at Pervomaiskoe, and Dagestani
officials did not have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the
Russian forces. All they could do was convey Moscow's ultimatum to the
Chechens. Raduev was only willing to continue to Chechnya with a human
shield of reporters, aid workers, and "honest" Russian politicians. The
only sign of flexibility was the release of 8 hostages on Friday
evening. General Mikhail Barsukov, head of the Federal Security Service,
and Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov arrived in Dagestan on the
morning of 14 January, and they had the authority to launch the attack.
-- Peter Rutland

DAGESTANI ATTITUDES SHIFT. Dagestanis, who had previously been
sympathetic to the Chechen cause, reacted with hostility to the initial
Kizlyar attack. Meetings in various cities called for the expulsion of
the more than 100,000 Chechen refugees living in the republic, and even
for revenge attacks on relatives of the attackers. However, Dagestanis
opposed Russia's plan to use force in Pervomaiskoe. On 13 January, a
crowd of 1,500 marched to the village and offered to form a "human
corridor" to the nearby Chechen border. Dagestani President Magomedali
Magomedov appealed to President Yeltsin not to use force in a telephone
conversation on Sunday, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. With the 15
January attack, Yeltsin seems to have lost the political advantage in
the North Caucasus that Raduev's banditry had presented him. -- Peter
Rutland

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICAL OF RUSSIA ON HUMAN RIGHTS. Speaking at a 13
January Moscow press conference, members of a Council of Europe fact-
finding mission admitted that Russia cannot currently be considered a
"rule of law state," ITAR-TASS reported. The mission noted serious
violations of human rights in Chechnya and also criticized Russia's
criminal justice system, which it said often violated the civil rights
of the accused. Nevertheless, Rudolf Bindig, a spokesman for the
mission, said it would recommend that Russia be accepted for membership
in the council, on the grounds that it had started to reform its legal
system, and council membership would encourage more progress. The
council's Parliamentary Assembly will consider Russia's membership
application on 25 January. -- Scott Parrish

YEGOROV REPLACES FILATOV AS PRESIDENTIAL CHIEF OF STAFF. President Boris
Yeltsin named hard-line former Nationalities Minister and Deputy Prime
Minister Nikolai Yegorov as his chief of staff in place of the more
liberal Sergei Filatov on 15 January, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin
sacrificed Yegorov, Federal Security Service Director Sergei Stepashin,
and Internal Affairs Minister Viktor Yerin, in the wake of the
Budennovsk crisis. Yegorov was the president's representative in
Chechnya from November 1994 to February 1995, during the most intense
stage of the fighting. The promotion of someone so closely identified
with the unpopular war is a strange choice for Yeltsin as the
presidential campaign heats up, but Yegorov is supported by the
influential head of the Presidential Security Service, General Aleksandr
Korzhakov. Filatov's departure has long been rumored since he is seen as
an opponent of Korzhakov's hard-line attitude. -- Robert Orttung

FACTIONS PREPARE FOR DUMA OPENING. The heads of the four parties that
crossed the 5% barrier met in Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's
office on 14 January to discuss who will be the Duma's next speaker and
committee chairmen but came to no agreements. The main stumbling bloc
was Vladimir Zhirinovsky's demand to chair either the Defense or
International Affairs committees or to become the first deputy speaker,
NTV reported. The Communist Party plenum reportedly demanded that
Communists be appointed to the positions of speaker, one deputy speaker,
and nine committee chairs . -- Robert Orttung

AGRICULTURE MINISTER SACKED. President Yeltsin dismissed Agriculture
Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk on 12 January and appointed Deputy Prime
Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha acting head in his place, Russian media
reported. Nazarchuk was second on the party list of the Agrarian Party,
which failed to win 5% in the Duma elections. He is the sixth cabinet
official to leave the government during the latest reshuffle. On the
same day, Yeltsin appointed Nikolai Tsakh to replace Vitalii Yefimov as
transportation minister. Tsakh was formerly Yefimov's deputy. -- Laura
Belin

COMMUNIST PARTY TO BACK ZYUGANOV FOR PRESIDENT. A closed 12 January
plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation (KPRF) officially postponed a decision on nominating a
presidential candidate until a 15 February party conference. However,
ITAR-TASS reported that the committee members decided to back party
leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Also on 12 January, Petr Romanov, who was
elected to the Duma on the KPRF party list, told Russian TV that he will
seek the presidency representing both "left-centrist" and "patriotic"
forces. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN SACKS REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES. President Yeltsin fired his
presidential representatives in Kursk, Smolensk, and Novosibirsk oblasts
and in Agino-Buryat Autonomous Okrug on 13 January, Russian media
reported the same day. On 9 January, Yeltsin fired his representative in
Bryansk. Earlier this month, Yeltsin ordered Sergei Filatov, former
chief of staff, to prepare a list all those envoys whose work has been
unsatisfactory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 January 1996). -- Anna
Paretskaya

PRIMAKOV ON RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. Yevgenii Primakov held his first
press conference as foreign minister on 12 January, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Primakov emphasized that Russian foreign policy
should reflect the country's status as a great power, although he
stressed that Russia will continue building relations of "equal,
mutually beneficial partnership" with the West. He also outlined four
priority tasks for Russian foreign policy: create external conditions
which strengthen Russia's territorial integrity; foster integrative
tendencies within the CIS; stabilize regional conflicts, especially in
the former USSR and ex-Yugoslavia; and prevent the spread of weapons of
mass destruction. He told journalists his first trips abroad would be to
CIS capitals, and he also met with other ministers on 12 January to
coordinate Russian CIS policy. -- Scott Parrish

CONTRACT SIGNED FOR NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL PLANT. Russia's State
Committee for Defense Industry on 11 January signed a contract worth
several tens of millions of dollars with a number of Japanese and U.S.
companies for the construction of a floating nuclear waste recycling
plant in the Far East, Interfax reported. The plant will be able to
process 7,000 cubic meters of waste per year and will be put into
operation at the end of this year. Nuclear waste in the Northern Fleet
will be treated by an existing installation. Its capacity will be
increased from 1,000 to 5,000 cubic meters per year, with the U.S. and
Norway financing the project. The report predicted that the facilities
could enable Russia to solve the problem of liquid nuclear waste from
atomic-powered submarines within the next two years. -- Doug Clarke

CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW. The foreign ministers of the CIS
states met on 12 January in Moscow to prepare for next week's summit of
the CIS heads of state, Russian and Western agencies reported. Security
issues, as opposed to economic relations, dominated the discussion. In
particular, the foreign ministers discussed the conflicts in Abkhazia
and Tajikistan and attempted to define how those conflicts can be
formally addressed within the CIS framework. Overall, the agenda
suggests that the CIS may become a more active vehicle through which
inter-state disputes are settled. In addition, humanitarian aid laws and
a mechanism for resolving border disputes were discussed. At the
meeting, Vladimir Zemskii, the current Russian ambassador to Georgia,
was chosen to replace Gennadii Shabannikov as secretary-general of the
CIS Collective Security Council. -- Roger Kangas

1995 HARVEST WORST SINCE 1963. The dismissal of Agriculture Minister
Aleksandr Nazarchuk came after the release of the final figures for last
year's harvest. The grain harvest was 63.5 million metric tons in 1995,
22% down from the 81 million tons gathered in 1994, Interfax reported on
11 January. Fodder crops also dropped, by 36%. The poor harvest was
partly due to a severe drought. However, a lack of cash meant that farms
were unable to buy adequate supplies of fuel and fertilizer, and this is
presumably the reason for Nazarchuk's dismissal. A second factor is that
the Federal Procurement Fund, which supplies the army and major cities,
has only purchased 10% of the 8.6 million tons of grain it needs, again
because of a lack of funds, according to ITAR-TASS on 10 January. Russia
will probably import 3 million tons of grain this spring. Meanwhile,
ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January that NATO ration packs are on sale in a
Chelyabinsk market, source unknown. -- Peter Rutland

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN RUSSIA TOPS $6 BILLION. By 1 November 1995, Russia
had received more than $6 billion in foreign investment. In the first
nine months of 1995 the inflow of foreign capital was $1.57 billion (a
112% increase compared to the same period in 1994), Finansovye izvestiya
reported on 12 January. The largest flows in 1995 went into trade and
catering ($232 million), financial services ($206 million), fuel and
energy ($162 million), and chemicals ($127 million). Fuel, energy, and
chemicals, which in 1994 absorbed about half of all foreign investment,
attracted less than 20% in 1995. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN EXTENDS MANDATE IN ABKHAZIA. Late on 12 January, the UN Security
Council approved a six-month extension of its mission in Abkhazia, the
province which broke away from Georgia in 1993, Western agencies
reported. A total of 136 UN observers and 3,000 Russian peacekeepers are
monitoring the Georgian-Abkhaz border. Russia initially supported the
separatists but is now pressuring Abkhazia to allow some 250,000
Georgian refugees to return to their homes. Russia has been maintaining
a partial blockade of the Abkhaz port, Sukhumi, since October. -- Peter
Rutland

RE-REGISTRATION OF AZERBAIJANI MEDIA. The Azerbaijani media has been
obliged to re-register with the republic's Ministry of Press and
Information by 30 January or face being banned, Turan reported on 11
January. On the same day, Azerbaijani Radio noted that re-registration
is necessary as "the various media and publishers [in the country] are
rampantly exploiting freedom of the press and information," adding that
slander, among other things, has become common. Turan noted that the
Azerbaijani media has been obliged to re-register twice before. The
republic's media already faces strict military and political censorship.
-- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEK-TAJIK ACCORD ON GAS SHIPMENTS. Uzbek President Islam Karimov and
Tajik Prime Minister Jamshed Karimov worked out a payment schedule for
shipments of Uzbek gas to Tajikistan during meetings in Tashkent on 10
January, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Tajikistan will repay the $200
million debt by the year 2003 and, with IMF assistance, will start
interest payments in 1997. According to Russian Public TV (ORT),
Uzbekistan had cut off fuel supplies to Tajikistan on 8 January.
Meanwhile, the presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan met
in Kokchetav, Kazakhstan, on 12 January to discuss regional integration,
the role of a Central Asian peacekeeping force, and plans to maintain a
unified front at the CIS summit on 19 January, Narodnoe slovo reported
on 13 January. -- Roger Kangas

LEADER OF ERKIN KYRGYZSTAN IN JAIL. The head of Erkin Kyrgyzstan,
Topchubek Turgunaliyev, is in jail and according to his wife is on
hunger strike, Stolitsa reported on 11 January. Turgunaliyev was
arrested several days before the 24 December presidential election in
Kyrgyzstan on charges of inflaming ethnic hatred between Kyrgyz and
Kazakhs. At that time Turgunaliyev was the campaign head of Medetkan
Sherimkulov, one of two candidates who ran against Askar Akayev for
president. -- 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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