O dostoinstvah cheloveka nuzhno sudit' ne po ego horoshim kachestvam, a po tomu, kak on imi pol'zuetsya. - F. Laroshfuko

No. 19, Part I, 26 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 TV PRODUCER MURDERED. Oleg Slabynko, the producer of the Russian
TV interview program "Moment Istiny" (Moment of Truth), was murdered on
the evening of 25 January, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Slabynko was
shot in his apartment by two unknown assailants, and police
investigators said the killers telephoned in advance to make sure
Slabynko was at home. Last month, journalist Andrei Karaulov, who hosts
"Moment Istiny," complained that Russian TV had censored the show by
refusing to air an episode dealing with corruption, Ekho Moskvy reported
on 15 December. -- Laura Belin


Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko announced that his
Reforms-New Course movement will support President Boris Yeltsin's re-
election, provided the president meets certain conditions, Russian media
reported on 25 January. Shumeiko wants the State Duma to be given the
right to confirm appointments of key ministers and deputy prime
ministers. He also called for changes in tax policy and privatization,
including abolishing the State Property Committee. Shumeiko has long
been loyal to Yeltsin as a member of the president's Security Council,
but he warned that if the president does not change his policies,
Reforms-New Course will be forced to support a different candidate in
June. Yeltsin is unlikely to accept these terms. -- Laura Belin

Yevgenii Nazdratenko, who was popularly re-elected last month, said he
will support President Yeltsin if he decides to run for a second term,
ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January. Nazdratenko said there is no other
"consolidating figure" in Russian politics. The previous day,
Nazdratenko met with Yeltsin, after which the president said he would
issue a decree on government support for Primorsk Krai. -- Anna

newspapers have published letters from employees of various budget-
financed organizations complaining that they were being forced to sign
petitions which will go towards the 1 million signatures President
Yeltsin needs to run for the June presidential elections, Segodnya
reported on 25 January. The writers, who signed their letters with
initials for fear of losing their jobs, said rail and army bosses have
been particularly active. A high ranking official reportedly said the
country's railway minister, Gennadii Fadeev, had ordered the collection
and threatened to punish officials who were not vigorous enough in
obtaining the signatures. -- Anna Paretskaya

REPLACEMENT FOR CHUBAIS NAMED . . . Industrialist Vladimir Kadannikov
has been appointed first deputy prime minister in charge of economic
policy, Russian media reported on 25 January. Kadannikov, 54, worked his
way up from the shopfloor to become director of AvtoVAZ in Togliatti,
Russia's largest auto plant. Kadannikov was elected to the USSR Supreme
Soviet in 1989, and headed the president's advisory council on
industrial policy since 1990, but has never held a governmental office.
He was a candidate to replace Yegor Gaidar as prime minister in December
1992. -- Peter Rutland

Speaking on Ekho Moskvy on 26 January, Gaidar said that Kadannikov had
been a supporter of reforms in 1992, but Gaidar does not know his
current views. Kadannikov joined Our Home Is Russia in May 1995. Auto
producers have fared slightly better than other Russian manufacturers
since 1992, in part because import tariffs have kept out foreign
competitors. Kadannikov has lobbied hard for government support for the
auto industry's ambitious investment program. -- Peter Rutland

SEMINAR ON MEDIA'S ROLE IN ELECTIONS. The idea that Russian journalists
should help shape reality rather than simply report information is alive
and well, judging from comments made at a seminar on the role of the
media in the Duma elections and the upcoming presidential elections
hosted by the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) and the Union of
Journalists. TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said the media's primary task
during campaigns should be "to help the public make the correct choice,"
ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January. Anatolii Vengerov, chairman of the
President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes, also called for
"strengthening the influence of the press on public opinion." Other
topics discussed at the seminar included the poor quality of political
advertising and the fact that so far neither federal nor regional
budgets have reimbursed newspapers or radio and television stations that
provided free space and air time to politicians. -- Laura Belin

MAKASHOV WINS LAWSUIT. Duma Deputy Col. Gen. (ret.) Albert Makashov, a
hard-line opponent of reforms, won his lawsuit against Samara Oblast's
presidential representative, Yurii Borodulin, Russian TV reported on 25
January. Makashov sued Borodulin after the latter publicly called him
the "fascist-like general." According to the court's sentence, Borodulin
must apologize publicly and 10 million rubles (about $2,100) in damages,
which Makashov said he would pass on to a kindergarten. -- Anna

Assembly of the Council of Europe approved Russia's membership
application 164-35, with 15 abstentions on 25 January, Russian and
Western agencies reported. After formal endorsement by the council's
Committee of Ministers, Russia will become the council's 39th member at
a February ceremony. Recent events in Chechnya had clouded Russia's
prospects of gaining admission. As a condition of membership, Russia
must ratify the European Human Rights Convention and adhere to council
agreements on minority rights. Before the vote, Vladimir Zhirinovsky
contended that Russian membership would reinvigorate the council, which
he described as "a slime pond for defunct politicians entitled to free
meals." Russian human rights activist Sergei Kovalev expressed
ambivalence about the decision, saying "I fear the council does not
realize the responsibility it carries." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN REACTION TO OLEKSY RESIGNATION. Vladimir Karpov, a spokesman for
the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), described the
accusations of spying against former Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy
as "an outright political provocation," Russian agencies reported on 25
January. Karpov again denied that Oleksy had ever been a Soviet or
Russian agent and reiterated that Oleksy and former KGB Colonel Vladimir
Alganov, who is alleged to have recruited him, had only a "personal"
relationship. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin
responded calmly to Oleksy's resignation, calling it an "internal
matter" and adding that Russia would continue to pursue the development
of solid Russo-Polish relations. However, NTV reported speculation that
Oleksy may actually have been a Russian agent whom the SVR deliberately
"betrayed" in order to discredit Poland in the eyes of NATO. -- Scott

RUSSIAN ARMS EXPORTS UP IN 1995. A spokesman for the state-run arms
export company Rosvooruzhenie said that Russian arms sales in 1995 grew
by 60% over the previous year. The Voice of Russia on 25 January quoted
him as saying that Russian companies earned $2.7 billion from arms
exports last year and secured 13.6% of the world's arms market. The
industry now has contracts worth $6.5 billion. Negotiations are underway
with the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and a number of Latin
American countries, according to the report. -- Doug Clarke

NEW RUSSIAN PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN. Russian military technicians have
returned to Afghanistan six years after the Soviet army withdrew from
that country, The Daily Telegraph reported on 25 January. Quoting
diplomatic and intelligence officials, paper reported that Russian and
Indian technicians are working to update Bagram airport. U.S. satellite
pictures show that the Russians are building another airport, at
Taloqan, to be used as a strategic base for military leader Ahmed Shah
Masood should he be forced out of Kabul. The paper said that four Il-76
transports have been delivering arms, ammunition, and fuel from
Tajikistan, Russia, and Ukraine to the Kabul government every day. --
Doug Clarke

Yeltsin issued a decree on 25 January raising compensation payments for
recipients of old-age, survivor, invalid, and social pensions from
50,000 rubles to 75,000 rubles a month as of 1 February, Russian Public
TV (ORT) reported. The compensation payment is paid on top of the
minimum pension, which currently stands at 63,250 rubles a month. The
change means that there will be a slight reduction in the difference
between the minimum and maximum pensions. The president's press service
said the decision to raise the payment had been made a long time ago. --
Penny Morvant

. . .  AND STUDENT GRANTS. Yeltsin issued another decree on 25 January
raising grants for students at higher and vocational educational
establishments by 20%, ITAR-TASS reported. The raise will be implemented
in April and remain in effect until a new law on the minimum wage is
adopted. In a speech to students at the Bauman Moscow State Technical
University the same day, Yeltsin said the average current student grant
is 85,000 rubles a month, ORT reported. During his address, Yeltsin
vehemently rejected reports that the recent personnel changes in the
government signified a retreat from political and economic reform. --
Penny Morvant

1995 UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES. On 1 January 1996, 2.3 million people, or
3.1% of the working population, were registered as unemployed with the
Federal Employment Service, an increase of 690,000 in comparison with
the previous year, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 26 January. The
highest unemployment rate was registered in Ingushetiya (23%), followed
by Ivanovo Oblast (more than 11%). The lowest unemployment rates are in
Moscow, Smolensk Oblast, and Yakutiya (Sakha). -- Penny Morvant

FOOD IMPORTS SOAR IN 1995. In 1995, Russian imports increased by 15%,
while the proportion of food imports rose to 30% of the total (up from
22% in 1993), ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January, citing the Foreign Trade
Ministry. Meat and poultry imports rose 63%, for example. The rise in
food imports has been attributed to declining domestic production and to
the introduction of the ruble corridor in July 1995. At the same time,
there was a 25% drop in grain imports by the state. Grain purchases in
countries outside the former Soviet Union plunged by 52% to 1.01 million
tons. -- Natalia Gurushina


POLICE DISPERSE BAKU DEMONSTRATORS. Several people were injured when
police used force to disperse an unsanctioned demonstration in Baku on
26 January, ITAR-TASS reported. Several hundred demonstrators from
several political parties had gathered to protest the detention of
former Foreign Minister Tofik Gasymov and former military commander Arif
Pashaev. -- Liz Fuller

delivering natural gas to Kyrgyzstan because of unpaid debts equaling
about $11 million, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 25 January.
Supplies of gas to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, are already limited to
enterprises, power stations, and boiler houses. The Kyrgyz government
recently decided to compensate Russia for the debts it owes that country
by handing over the rights to state enterprises, Vecherny Bishkek
reported on 19 January. The Russian government has the right to select
the plants it is interested in and then sell their shares to Russian
buyers. The new ownership will then be registered as a joint venture. --
Bruce Pannier

annual inflation rate of 31.9% for 1995 was the lowest in Central Asia,
Russian media reported. According to the Kyrgyz National Committee for
Statistics, food prices rose by 43.7%, consumer goods by 7.2%, and
service rates by 28%. The figures for Kazakhstan are an inflation rate
of 60.3%, with a 58.7% rise in food prices, 33.5% in consumer goods, and
158% in services. Uzbekistan had a 76.8% inflation rate in 1995, but no
other details were given. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have not released
their figures yet. Government experts attribute Kyrgyzstan's lower rates
to the stabilization of the national currency, the som, which is backed
by a $74 million IMF loan. -- Bruce Pannier

announced on 23 January that the grain harvest fell about 600,000 metric
tons short of the government's target of 3.3 million tons, Russian media
reported. The cotton harvest was on target, at 4 million tons. -- Bruce

[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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Updated: 1998-11-

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