The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension. - Ezra Pound
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 11, Part I, 16 January 1996


From omripub@omri.czTue Jan 16 09:20:15 1996
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 15:16:58 +0100
From: OMRI Publications 
Reply to: Open Media Research Institute Daily Digest 
To: Multiple recipients of list OMRI-L 
Subject: OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 11, 16 Jan 96

OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 11, Part I, 16 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
NEW HOSTAGES TAKEN IN GROZNY. Early on 16 January, unknown gunmen
kidnapped at least 30 workers from an electric plant in the Grozny
suburb of Kirov, ITAR-TASS reported. The workers were loaded onto a bus
and driven away. On 14 January, the commander of federal forces in
Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, had told ITAR-TASS that
fighters led by Shamil Basaev, who masterminded the June 1995 raid on
Budennovsk, were planning terrorist acts in Grozny to divert attention
from Pervomaiskoe. The kidnapping occurred despite heightened security
measures in Grozny, including a warning that federal forces would open
fire without warning on any vehicles driving in the city after 7 p.m. --
Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN PERVOMAISKOE. Under the light of air-dropped
flares, heavy fighting continued overnight and through Tuesday morning
in Pervomaiskoe, as Russian troops attempted to dislodge the Chechen
fighters led by Salman Raduev and free their hostages, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 16 January. Although a Federal Security
Service (FSB) spokesman claimed the attack was being carried out with
"surgical precision," correspondents reported that the village,
including the buildings where the hostages were believed to be held, was
in flames. By noon on 16 January (Moscow time), Russian troops had
captured much of the village, but several buildings remained in Chechen
hands. Precise casualty figures are not being released. An FSB spokesman
could confirm only that 15 of the hostages had been freed. -- Scott
Parrish

YELTSIN SAYS ATTACK WAS JUSTIFIED. Speaking at a 15 January Moscow press
conference, President Boris Yeltsin defended his decision to storm
Pervomaiskoe, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin said the
"well planned" assault had been ordered only after Raduev's fighters,
whom he said included mercenaries from Pakistan and Iran, had received
orders by radio from separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev to
begin shooting their hostages. Russian spokesman earlier claimed that
before the attack began the fighters had shot six hostage policemen and
several Dagestani elders who were trying to negotiate the hostages'
release. However, Dudaev spokesman Movladi Udugov denied that Raduev had
executed any hostages. -- Scott Parrish

GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF DISINFORMATION. On 15 January Ekho Moskvy
commentator Andrei Cherkizov blasted government policy in Chechnya and
ridiculed the Federal Security Service's (FSB) attempts to justify the
decision to storm Pervomaiskoe. Cherkizov called reports that Dudaev
ordered the fighters to begin executing hostages as "obvious
disinformation" designed to justify the storming of the village. He
accused the FSB of mounting a disinformation campaign of the sort
perfected by the Soviet-era KGB. The station closed by heaping scorn on
President Yeltsin's claim that the indiscriminately destructive
Pervomaiskoe operation was "well-planned." -- Scott Parrish

EXCEPT ZHIRINOVSKY, POLITICIANS DENOUNCE ATTACK ON PERVOMAISKOE. The
leaders of the new State Duma almost universally condemned President
Yeltsin's decision to use force in Pervomaiskoe, even before the results
were known. Communist faction member Anatolii Lukyanov said that the
"government's irresponsible actions" and the terrorist acts of the
Chechen fighters could lead to a war throughout the Caucasus region and
would have a negative impact on the president's campaign, Russian TV
reported 15 January. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii warned that the
attack would have "an enormous impact on the political life of the
country" and said he would propose a Duma vote of no confidence in the
government. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who has called for napalming Chechen
villages, supported the president, saying that a military solution is
the only one possible since the rebels will never surrender, Interfax
reported. -- Robert Orttung

TEREK COSSACKS TO SEND BATTALIONS TO CHECHNYA. In the wake of the
Dagestani hostage crisis, the Terek Cossacks have decided to form three
mobile battalions for deployment in Chechnya, Radio Rossii reported on
14 January. The Cossacks say their units will arrive in the war-torn
republic in the next few weeks to reinforce military and Interior
Ministry forces. Last week, Cossack Ataman Aleksandr Martynov told a
press conference in Moscow that Cossacks, many of them Afghan veterans,
were signing up for volunteer self-defense units, and he lamented the
failure of the Russian authorities to respond to the Cossacks' numerous
offers to aid the government's forces in Chechnya. ITAR-TASS, meanwhile,
reported on 9 January that Terek Cossacks had begun guarding public
places such as schools and hospitals in Stavropol Krai. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN PUTS SOSKOVETS IN CHARGE OF PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS.
In yet another sign that he plans to run for re-election, President
Boris Yeltsin announced the creation of an "All-Russian presidential
campaign headquarters," to be headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets, Russian agencies reported on 15 January. Yeltsin insisted
that the headquarters is not "connected to a specific name" and that he
will only announce his intentions in mid-February. Recently dismissed
Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov will be Soskovets' deputy at the
headquarters. ITAR-TASS commentator Tamara Zamyatina observed that
Soskovets, with his close ties to the military-industrial complex, will
help Yeltsin's re-election campaign in regions with a high concentration
of defense industry, while Filatov works well with the intelligentsia,
the backbone of the "democratic camp" that Yeltsin will count on for
support. -- Laura Belin

BACKGROUND TO YEGOROV APPOINTMENT. Liberal observers have reacted
negatively to Nikolai Yegorov's appointment as presidential chief of
staff in place of Sergei Filatov. Nikolai Bodnaruk of Izvestiya said the
move "sends shivers down my spine." The 44-year-old Yegorov graduated
from an agricultural school and spent 10 years doing Communist Party
work in Stavropol and Krasnodar krais, which border on the North
Caucasus. In 1984, he became the chairman of a state farm. His career
took off in 1991, when he was appointed deputy and later head
administrator for Krasnodar Krai. Yegorov faithfully "fulfilled the will
of the center," taking strong measures to deal with the flood of
refugees from the Caucasus and from Central Asia, according to NTV on 15
January. In 1994, he replaced Sergei Shakhrai as Minister for
Nationalities, and from November 1994 to February 1995 he was the
president's representative in Chechnya. Yegorov was sacked following the
June 1995 Budennovsk crisis but was reappointed as a presidential
adviser in August. -- Laura Belin

PARTY LEADERS FAIL TO AGREE ON DISTRIBUTION OF DUMA LEADERSHIP
POSITIONS. The leaders of the four main factions in the Duma met again
in Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov's office on 15 January to divide
up the house's leadership positions but failed to make progress.
Zyuganov blamed the delay on Our Home Is Russia (NDR) which he said
constantly "puts forward new conditions" undermining possible deals, NTV
reported. NDR faction leader Sergei Belyaev does not want all the
positions decided in advance with the other faction leaders, as happened
in the last Duma. Instead, he wants to elect the speaker and 23
committee chairmen separately, on the floor of the parliament. Belyaev
wants the speaker to come from the ranks of independent deputies, while
the Communists argue that they are entitled to the speaker's position.
Belyaev denounced the "ideological pressure" exerted by the Communists
and walked out of the talks along with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Robert Orttung

COMPOSITION OF UPPER HOUSE NOT COMPLETE. The composition of the new
Federation Council, which will convene for the first time on 23 January,
is not complete because of some organizational and legal obstacles,
according to Kremlin officials cited by Interfax on 11 January. Sergei
Samoilov, the presidential administration official who works with the
regions, said that the bicameral parliaments of Kareliya, Yakutiya, and
Kabardino-Balkariya have not decided which of their two speakers should
go to the Federation Council; the legislative assemblies in Tambov,
Yaroslavl, and Sakhalin oblasts have to elect new chairmen for various
reasons. Under Russian law, the Federation Council is made up of
regional executive and legislative heads. -- Anna Paretskaya

CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS INSTITUTED AGAINST MAVRODI. The Procurator-
General's Offices has instituted criminal proceedings against Sergei
Mavrodi, the president of the notorious MMM investment fund in which
thousands of Russians lost their savings, Russian media reported on 12
January. He is being charged with tax evasion. The authorities have long
been investigating Mavrodi, who earlier escaped prosecution by winning a
seat in the Duma. Mavrodi lost his mandate in the December elections,
and he is now planning to run for the presidency. -- Penny Morvant

BORDER DISPUTES CONTINUE IN THE CIS. Cooperation on external borders and
territorial disputes still plague the CIS, Federal Security Service
Deputy Director Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Manilov said in the December issue of
Granitsa Rossii. Some 13,500 km of Russia's 61,000 km border is not
"formally recognized and specified in any international legal acts."
Manilov noted that the CIS Concept of Border Protection has helped in
negotiations with Belarus and Kazakhstan. However, disputed claims in
the Baltic region, particularly with Estonia, remain at an impasse.
Thus, Russia has already "unilaterally demarcated" the Russo-Estonian
border although it hopes to revive the negotiations. According to
Interfax on 12 January, Ukrainian officials object to the concept of
"internal" and "external" borders, arguing that all borders should be
considered "state borders." However, some cooperation has occurred,
notably a recent decision by Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and
Kyrgyzstan to exchange maps with China as part of an effort to settle
the China-CIS border, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January. -- Roger Kangas

DEMOGRAPHIC SITUATION IMPROVING. After a dramatic fall in the birthrate
and an increase in mortality in recent years, Russia's demographic
situation is showing signs of stabilizing. According to Goskomstat
figures cited by ITAR-TASS on 12 January, the birthrate for 1995 was 9.5
per 1,000 people, up from 9.4 in 1993. (The birthrate for 1994 has been
variously reported at 9.4 and 9.6 per 1,000.) The number of deaths from
January to September 1995 fell by 77,700, giving a death rate of 15 per
1,000 population in comparison with 15.6 in 1994. As a result of the
decline in mortality, the rate of natural increase (births over deaths)
went from -5.9 per 1,000 from January to September 1994 to -5.5 during
the first nine months of 1995. The mortality rate fell in 67 of Russia's
89 republics and regions. -- Penny Morvant

COURT CLEARS GOVERNMENT SALE OF DEFENSE STOCK. The Supreme Arbitration
Court on 15 January ruled that the government could sell its 37%
interest in the troubled Rybinsk Motors aircraft engine manufacturer,
Reuters reported. The company wanted the sale declared illegal. The
Federal Bankruptcy Agency has rescheduled the auction for 12 March.
Rybinsk provides the engines for nearly all of Russia's military
transports and more than half of its civil air fleet. It was declared
insolvent by the Bankruptcy Agency last year. -- Doug Clarke

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NAGORNO-KARABAKH TALKS UPDATE. A "rather productive" round of talks on
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended in
Moscow on 12 January, Interfax reported on 14 January. The two sides
agreed to expand a draft political deal to include a supplementary
document on the security of the population in Karabakh. The draft
agreement allows Karabakh Armenians to maintain their defense forces
"without qualitative or quantitative limitations" and identifies Armenia
as a guarantor of Karabakh's security. It also provides for the
deployment of OSCE peacekeeping forces, the demilitarization of
liberated territories, and free communication between Armenia and
Karabakh via the Lachin corridor. In one of his first statements since
being appointed Russian foreign minister, Yevgenii Primakov pledged on
13 January that Moscow would undertake "top level" efforts to settle the
conflict. -- Lowell Bezanis

IRANIAN VICE PRESIDENT IN KAZAKHSTAN. Iranian First Vice President Hasan
Habibi signed several bilateral agreements on economic and energy
relations with Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Almaty on
15 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Agreements on mutual
defense and prevention of double taxation are scheduled to be signed as
well, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 January. The two leaders also discussed
oil shipments from Kazakhstan via the Caspian Sea and the disputed
status of the sea itself. Meanwhile, a security seminar focusing on the
conflicts in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia has begun
in Tehran. -- 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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