Ожидание радости тоже есть радость. - Г. Лессинг
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 14, Part I, 19 January 1996


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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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
FEDERAL TROOPS TAKE PERVOMAISKOE. Russian federal forces
succeeded in regaining control of Pervomaiskoe by the early
evening of 18 January, but Chechen commander Salman Raduev
escaped with a group of his men, Russian media reported. The
figures cited for the number of hostages released or found dead
are considerably lower than the total number taken by Raduev's
men from Kizlyar and subsequently seized in Pervomaiskoe. An
Interior Ministry spokesman told NTV that 28 Chechen militants
were taken prisoner and 153 killed, while 26 Russian soldiers
died and 93 were wounded. Federal Security Service head General
Mikhail Barsukov told NTV that two "foreign mercenaries" from
Syria and Egypt had entered the Russian Federation via Azerbaijan
to fight on the Chechen side. AFP quoted Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev's spokesman, Movladi Udugov, as saying that
Raduev still has several dozen hostages and will release them if
the remaining wounded Chechen gunmen still in Pervomaiskoe are
allowed to leave. -- Liz Fuller
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

HIJACKED FERRY BARRED FROM ISTANBUL. After three days of steaming
through stormy seas, the hijacked ferry Eurasia has arrived near the
entrance to the Bosporus Straits where Turkish authorities expect it to
anchor, Western agencies reported on 19 January. Turkey had earlier
barred the ferry from sailing to Istanbul through the crowded straits,
and the commander of the pro-Chechen hijackers, Mohammed Tokcan, told
Turkish TV that he had agreed not to enter the straits for "safety
reasons." The ferry, with about 200 hostages on board, has been sailing
in circles about 72 km from Istanbul since 1 a.m. local time, according
to AFP. Turkish Interior Minister Teoman Unusan said he expects Tokcan
to surrender and release the hostages soon. Reports on 18 January
suggested that Tokcan had agreed to release the hostages in Istanbul if
he were permitted to give a live television news conference. -- Scott
Parrish

PRESS SLAMS GOVERNMENT OVER PERVOMAISKOE. An 18 January political
commentary on Ekho Moskvy derided official accounts of the Pervomaiskoe
operation as "fairy tales," pointing out numerous factual
inconsistencies in them. Izvestiya on 19 January characterized the
government's handling of the crisis as "incompetent," adding that the
"smokescreen of feckless lies" purveyed by official spokesmen could not
hide the "bungling of the Russian military-police machine." NTV on 18
January also expressed disbelief that after four days of heavy fighting,
the government claimed that 153 dead Chechen fighters were found in the
village but no dead hostages. The station noted that losses were
inevitable in such an operation and wondered what had become of the
hostages who remain unaccounted for by official government figures. --
Scott Parrish

DUMA ELECTS FIVE DEPUTY SPEAKERS. The Duma elected five deputy speakers
at once on 18 January by a vote of 359 to 56, with one abstention, ITAR-
TASS reported. Aleksandr Shokhin (Our Home Is Russia) became first
deputy speaker. The deputy speakers are: Svetlana Goryacheva (Communist
Party), Mikhail Gutseriev (Liberal Democratic Party), Artur Chilingarov
(Russian Regions), and Sergei Baburin (People's Power). The Yabloko
faction refused to nominate a candidate for deputy speaker because it
objected to having two Communists in the leadership--as speaker and
deputy speaker. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said that a deputy
speaker slot would be held open for Yabloko since "they are likely to go
back on their decision within a month or so." Yabloko has been
criticized lately for working closely with the Communists. The Duma is
expected to vote for another deputy speaker who will be responsible for
ethnic issues. -- Robert Orttung

IZVESTIYA: SELEZNEV WILL BE PARTY MOUTHPIECE. Those democrats who think
of the newly elected Duma speaker as a potential liberal or someone
capable of carrying out an independent policy are "either naive or
deliberately deceiving themselves," Izvestiya charged on 19 January.
Seleznev's career shows that his life has been devoted to voicing the
decision of his superiors in the party, the paper asserts. The "loyal
and personally disciplined" Seleznev was able to rise through the
Communist Party media with the help of Leningrad Party boss Grigorii
Romanov, a strong opponent of reform. When Mikhail Gorbachev started
perestroika, Seleznev, then editor of Komsomolskaya pravda, began toeing
the new line, giving him the aura of a "liberal." Seleznev announced on
18 January that he would not leave the Communist Party during his term
as speaker, violating an informal tradition of nonpartisanship. --
Robert Orttung

INDUSTRIALIST TIPPED TO SUCCEED CHUBAIS. Vladimir Kadannikov, general
director of the Avtovaz car manufacturer, will probably replace the
reformist Anatolii Chubais as first deputy prime minister in charge of
economic issues, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 January citing an "informed
source" in the government apparatus. The 54-year-old Kadannikov, a close
ally of President Yeltsin, is regarded as a competent, fairly forward-
thinking industrial manager. He trained as an auto mechanic in the 1950s
and played a key role in building up the Lada plant in Tolyatti.
Presidential economics aide Aleksandr Livshits has been tipped as
another possible successor to Chubais, according to Segodnya on 18
January. As the 1996 budget is already fixed and Russia is currently
negotiating with internal organizations for another large loan, it is
unlikely that Russian economic policy will shift dramatically in the
short term. -- Penny Morvant

CHAMBER SENDS ANTI-SEMITIC PAPER TO PROCURATOR GENERAL. The Judicial
Chamber on Information Disputes sent a case involving an Al-Kods article
to the procurator general for further action, ITAR-TASS reported. The
chamber said that an article entitled "Plan to Free Palestine from
Zionism" violated laws against advocating war and inflaming national and
social tension. The newspaper is owned by a former citizen of Jordan,
Shaaban Khafez Shaaban, who became a Russian citizen after marrying a
Russian woman. Russian law prohibits foreigners from establishing media
outlets. The chamber does not have the power to enforce its own
decisions. -- Robert Orttung

IZVESTIYA COMMENTATOR QUITS PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL OVER PERVOMAISKOE.
Izvestiya's political commentator, Otto Latsis, has asked President
Boris Yeltsin to relieve him of his duties on the Presidential Council.
In a letter to the president published in Izvestiya on 19 January,
Latsis denounced the storming of Pervomaiskoe and the war in Chechnya.
Latsis said that he does not want to hold any position that might be
perceived as even indirectly supporting Yeltsin's decisions on the war
in Chechnya. The Presidential Council, created in February 1993, has no
real power beyond advising the president. -- Anna Paretskaya

SAMARA PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY REFUSES TO RESIGN. On 18 January, Kommersant-
Daily reported that the presidential envoy in Samara Oblast, Yurii
Borodulin, has refused to resign despite being asked to do so by members
of the president's staff. Borodulin said he had been appointed by
President Yeltsin and could be fired only by him. The president's
representatives are touring the regions fingered by former Chief of
Staff Sergei Filatov as having "held elections in an unsatisfactory way"
due to the local administration's weak organizational efforts. However,
Borodulin claims that the situation in his oblast is the same as
elsewhere in Russia. In the 17 December election, the Communist Party
finished first in the oblast, with about 20% of the vote. The president
had expected Our Home Is Russia to prevail since the oblast's governor,
Konstantin Titov, was Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's deputy in the
pro-government bloc. -- Anna Paretskaya

SPY SATELLITE SYSTEM ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE. Russia's military satellites
are wearing out and its early warning system could collapse by the end
of the century, according to a report in the Defense Ministry newspaper
Krasnaya zvezda on 17 January cited by Reuters. Under Soviet leader
Leonid Brezhnev, up to four spy satellites were launched each year to
monitor U.S. nuclear missile silos and airbases. But following the
break-up of the USSR, a lack of money and the loss of production
facilities in Ukraine and Armenia meant that the launch program ground
to a halt. The paper reported that some of the satellites have been in
operation for three times as long as their design lifespan and warned
that if new equipment is not forthcoming, Russia "will have to get used
to the idea of losing strategic equality with the United States." --
Penny Morvant

ABOUT 40% OF COMPANIES SAID NOT TO PAY TAXES. An estimated 40% of
Russian companies and organizations do not pay any taxes, Central Bank
First Deputy Chairman Sergei Aleksashenko said on 18 January.
Aleksashenko was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying he believes this
situation could soon lead to a serious budgetary crisis. The 1996
federal budget calls on the State Tax Service to provide 246.9 trillion
rubles (about $52 billion) in revenue from taxation and other compulsory
payments, according to ITAR-TASS on 11 January. According to preliminary
results, the tax service raised 146 trillion rubles for the federal
budget in 1995. As of 1 December 1995, the total tax debt to the state
budget was 33.8 trillion rubles. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIAN CRUDE OIL EXPORTS FELL BY 4.6% IN 1995. Russia exported 122.3
million metric tons of crude oil in 1995, a 4.6% drop compared with
1994, the State Statistical Committee informed Interfax on 17 January.
Exports to the former Soviet Union dropped by 22.2%, while exports to
the rest of the world increased by 1.5%. A possible explanation could be
that each ton of crude oil exported within the former Soviet Union
brings only $73.9, compared with $107.5 elsewhere. Russian exports of
oil products fell from 47.3 million metric tons in 1994 to 45.3 million
tons in 1995 (a 4.2% decline). Meanwhile, Russia exported 192.1 billion
cubic meters of natural gas in 1995, a 4.3% increase over 1994. --
Natalia Gurushina

INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT DECLINE SLOWS DOWN IN 1995. According to the State
Statistical Committee, Russia's industrial output in 1995 fell by 3%
compared with 1994, totaling 989 trillion rubles ($211.19 billion) in
current prices, Interfax reported on 16 January. In 1994, industrial
production declined 23% over the previous year. The committee reported
sustained production growth in steel and iron (a 9% increase), the
chemical and petrochemical industry (a 8% increase), non-ferrous metals
(a 2% increase), and pulp and wood industries. Production in machine-
building, food, and construction materials dropped by 10%, 9%, and 8%
respectively compared with1994. Russia's production of electricity fell
by 2%, crude oil by 3%, natural gas by 2%, and coal by 3%. -- Natalia
Gurushina

RUSSIA-DE BEERS DIAMOND CONTRACT EXTENDED TILL MARCH. After two days of
talks in Moscow, the Russian government and the South African
multinational diamond company De Beers failed to reach an agreement on a
new contract to sell Russia's uncut diamonds despite a statement from De
Beers' saying the two sides had made "useful progress," ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 January. The current arrangement, under which De Beers
buys 95% of Russia's exports of rough diamonds, has been extended for
another month, until 1 March 1996 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December
1995). Russian producers are getting increasingly dissatisfied with low
prices for their rough gems. Last year, they started to sell some uncut
diamonds for higher prices directly on markets in Antwerp and Tel Aviv,
causing a 7% drop in De Beers' earnings in 1994. The next round of talks
will take place in February. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIA, AZERBAIJAN SIGN PIPELINE DEAL. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev signed a package of
bilateral agreements, including one on the export of so-called early oil
from the Russian port of Novorossiisk, Russian and Western media
reported on 18 January. The agreement, under which up to 5 million tons
of "early" Caspian oil will be transported to market annually via
Russian pipelines, confirmed an October decision of the international
consortium managing the so-called "deal of the century." According to
Vagit Alekperov, president of the Russian company "LUKoil," which holds
a 10% stake in the consortium, the agreement calls for a $60 million
renovation of the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline, to be completed
later this year. Other agreements included one on economic cooperation
through the year 2000 and a protocol on supplying major industrial
production in 1996. -- Lowell Bezanis and Scott Parrish

[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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