The road uphill and the road downhill are one and the same. - Heraclitus
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 20, Part I, 29 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YAVLINSKII PROPOSES ALLIANCE WITH LEBED. In accepting Yabloko's
nomination as its presidential candidate on 27 January, Grigorii
Yavlinskii said that coalition negotiations were currently under way
with Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice and the Congress of
Russian Communities (KRO), Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. KRO leader
Aleksandr Lebed, who is already running for president, told Ekho Moskvy
on 27 January, "I am a friend of all professionals. Yavlinskii is a
professional." Human rights activist Sergei Kovalev called Yavlinskii's
proposal to work with the nationalist KRO "a very risky step" and
predicted that a coalition would not materialize. Nezavisimaya gazeta
warned on 26 January that if Yabloko and Our Home Is Russia do not form
a coalition, the Communists could win the presidency. Meanwhile, on 27
January, former Federation Council Deputy Aleksei Manannikov set up a
committee to nominate former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for
president. -- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

POLL SHOWS ZYUGANOV LEADS PRESIDENTIAL RACE. The latest poll conducted
by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM) shows
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov topping a list of possible
presidential candidates, with 11.3%, NTV reported on 28 January. NTV did
not reveal the poll's margin of error, but several candidates appear to
be in a statistical dead heat for second place: Grigorii Yavlinskii was
supported by 7.7% of respondents, Vladimir Zhirinovsky 7.1%, Aleksandr
Lebed 5.5%, and Boris Yeltsin 5.4%. Public opinion can shift rapidly in
Russia and most polls failed to predict accurately the results of the
December parliamentary elections. -- Laura Belin

EXTREME COMMUNISTS TO SUPPORT KPRF. The fifth congress of Viktor
Anpilov's extreme communist Workers' Russia decided to support the
candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) in the
presidential elections, NTV reported 28 January. Anpilov's bloc won more
than 3 million votes in the December Duma elections, but fell just short
of the 5% barrier. The decision to support Gennadii Zyuganov's more
moderate party is a major change of course for the Anpilovites and
demonstrates increasing unity among the leftist bloc while the pro-
reform parties remain divided. -- Robert Orttung

KOKOSHIN GETS NEW TITLE. . . First Deputy Minister of Defense Andrei
Kokoshin--the only civilian in the ministry's top echelons--has been
appointed to the post of state secretary as well, ITAR-TASS reported on
26 January. The ministry explained that the new position will give him
"broader leeway" in doing business with the State Duma and the
Federation Council. Defense officials said they hope Kokoshin's higher
profile will give him more influence over the military budget process,
the development of military technology, and international military
cooperation. -- Doug Clarke

. . . AND PRESENTS ARMS PROGRAM. Kokoshin presented the 1996 arms
program to Yeltsin on 27 January, although the financing has yet to be
worked out, ITAR-TASS reported. The program specifies what each defense
plant should produce, but Yeltsin said the government must now figure
out how to pay for the orders within the existing budget. The president
had described the absence of such a program as "outrageous," but it is
not clear whether the current draft is workable. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN: NO MORE BIG CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT. President Yeltsin announced
on 26 January that "major changes" in the cabinet are finished, Russian
and Western agencies reported. During the last month, Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, Agriculture
Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk, State Property Committee Chairman Sergei
Belyaev, and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais have either
left the government or been fired. According to the 27 January issue of
Nezavisimaya gazeta, the recent appointment of Vladimir Kadannikov to
replace Chubais marks a change from a policy of "liberal, speculative
capitalism" to a "state-paternalistic" market model. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN PLEDGES TO PUSH FOR START II RATIFICATION. On 26 January, the
U.S. Senate ratified the START II nuclear-weapons reduction treaty by an
84-7 vote, Russian and Western agencies reported. In a subsequent hour-
long telephone conversation with U.S. President Bill Clinton, President
Yeltsin pledged to push the Russian parliament to ratify the treaty
before the April G-7 Moscow summit on nuclear security. Under the
Russian constitution, treaties must be ratified by a majority of both
houses in the Federal Assembly. Many analysts doubt that the Duma will
ratify START II, which its critics view as requiring Russia to make
lopsided cuts in its nuclear forces. The treaty would require both
Russia and the U.S. to reduce their strategic arsenals to 3,500 warheads
within seven years. -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish

YELTSIN MEETS KINKEL. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met with
President Yeltsin in Moscow on 27 January to discuss bilateral relations
and European security, Russian and Western agencies reported. Earlier,
Yeltsin told journalists that Russia and Germany had no disagreements,
except on NATO expansion. He urged Kinkel to change his mind about NATO
expansion, saying "It would be a good thing if Russia found an ally in
Germany" against NATO expansion. Kinkel, however, reiterated the German
view that NATO expansion would not harm Russian interests. Kinkel later
met with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, and both
complimented each other afterwards. Commenting on the warm atmosphere of
the visit, NTV noted that Kinkel had refrained from publicly criticizing
Russian policy in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish

BALTIN STILL HEADS BLACK SEA FLEET. Despite several high-level
statements that he had been fired, Admiral Eduard Baltin continues to
command the Black Sea Fleet, UNIAN reported on 27 January. Two days
before Baltin had chaired a meeting of the fleet's military council. A
fleet spokesman told the agency that neither the Russian Defense
Ministry nor main navy headquarters had received any documents calling
for Baltin's dismissal. -- Doug Clarke

RUSSIA UNABLE TO MEET SOME COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONDITIONS. Russia said on
26 January that it is unwilling or unable to meet some of the conditions
attached to its admission to the Council of Europe, AFP reported. A
senior Interior Ministry official said that it would be "premature" to
ban the death penalty--one of the council's stipulations--and that "two
thirds of society agree with this view." In an interview with Ekho
Moskvy, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said Russia
would be unable to end the death penalty in the near future as its
prisons do not have the capacity to keep large numbers of prisoners
serving life sentences. (In 1994, 154 people received the death penalty,
but only two sentences were carried out.) AFP also quoted presidential
representatives as saying there are no plans to abolish Yeltsin's 1994
anti-organized crime decree, which permits the detention of suspects for
up to 30 days before charges are brought. Human rights activists have
derided the council's decision to admit Russia as a mockery of its own
ideals. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN SIGNS SECOND PART OF CIVIL CODE. Part II of the Russian
Federation Civil Code will come into force on 1 March, Russian agencies
reported. The code was passed by the Duma on 22 December and signed by
President Yeltsin on 26 January. It has been called the country's
"economic constitution" and covers obligations in transactions such as
buying and selling, donating, leasing, and concluding contracts, loans,
and credit deals. It does not, however, deal with land transactions.
Much of the code is devoted to bank operations and settlements. The
first part of the Civil Code came into effect on 1 January 1995, while
the third part, which will regulate industrial ownership and the
application of international law in civil cases, is being drafted. --
Penny Morvant

MINERS, TEACHERS TO STRIKE. Following three days of picketing the
Russian government building in Moscow, the Coal Industry Workers' Union
said it would go ahead with a national strike on 1 February,
international agencies reported. The union said that attempts at solving
the industry's problems in talks with the government had failed and that
dialogue had to be conducted "from a position of strength." Russian
teachers are also planning to go on strike on 30 January to demand the
payment of overdue wages, despite a government promise on 28 January to
pay all wage arrears "soon." In a bid to win the support of workers
ahead of the presidential elections, Yeltsin promised on 26 January to
create a special presidential social fund with enough money to pay a
month's wages for everyone in Russia. Yeltsin did not say how the fund
would work or where the money would come from. -- Penny Morvant

BANK CRISIS LOOMING? In a speech to a reform club, Central Bank Chairman
Sergei Dubinin said that he expects a serious bank crisis to occur in
1996, Vek reported in issue no. 8. He pointed out that government budget
accounts make up a large proportion of bank assets and the near-
bankruptcy of many industrial firms means that many loans are non-
performing. His fears are shared by the bankers themselves. In a recent
survey of 1,300 bankers, 45% said a crisis is "very likely," 44% said
"likely," and only 11% said "not likely," Finansovye izvestiya reported
on 26 January. The last major bank scare was in August 1995. -- Peter
Rutland

EXPENSIVE TAX WAIVERS. Mikhail Delyagin, the head of the economics
section of the presidential analytic center, complained that the
granting of tax waivers to selected firms cost the budget 50 trillion
rubles ($10.6 billion) in lost revenue in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 26
January. Delyagin said total tax revenues in the consolidated budget
(federal and local combined) were 350 trillion rubles ($74 billion) in
1995, or about 29% of GDP. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIA AND KAZAKHSTAN SIGN 16 DEFENSE AGREEMENTS. Russian Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev and his Kazakhstani counterpart, Alibek Kasymov,
signed 16 agreements on military cooperation after two days of talks in
Almaty, Western and Russian agencies reported on 26 January. One of the
agreements committed Russia to transfer five coast guard cutters to
Kazakhstan for use in the Caspian Sea. Others involved continued Russian
use of the Baikonur cosmodrome, joint air defense operations, and
assistance in training the Kazakhstani armed forces. Russia will also
provide Kazakhstan with "several dozen" Su-25s, Su-27s, and MiG-29s.
Reuters quoted Grachev as ruling out the creation of a joint CIS armed
forces. He said that Russia would instead concentrate on building
bilateral military ties with its neighbors. -- Doug Clarke

FORMER ALLIES ATTACK TAJIK CITIES. Warlords who were formerly loyal to
the Tajik government have attacked the Tajik cities of Tursun Zade, west
of Dushanbe, and Kurgan-Tyube, in the south, Russian and Western media
reported. Former Tursun Zade Mayor Ibod Boimatov, supported by 300
cadres, two tanks, and two armored personnel carriers, entered
Tajikistan from neighboring Uzbekistan and captured the aluminum factory
in the city on 26 January. There are unconfirmed reports that he also
took some Tajik soldiers hostage. In the south, the commander of the
first brigade, Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, took control of the police station
and government buildings in Kurgan-Tyube on 27 January. In September,
the first brigade and a rival unit of the Tajik army, the eleventh
brigade, fought several battles. Negotiations are under way, but both
men are demanding that the government step down. -- Bruce Pannier

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN. Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov arrived in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on 28
January, to reassure Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov of Moscow's
commitment to the Central Asian republic, Russian and Western sources
reported. Primakov's visit comes less than a week after the murder of
the country's leading Muslim cleric. Primakov and Rakhmonov discussed
the inter-Tajik peace talks scheduled to resume this week in Ashgabat,
and Primakov reportedly urged the president to find a peaceful solution
to the conflict, already in its fourth year. The Russian delegation
departed the same night for Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where Primakov met
with Uzbek President Islam Karimov to discuss regional security and
Russo-Uzbek relations. -- Bruce Pannier

ARRESTED COSSACK LEADER RELEASED. Nikolai Gunkin, the head of the
Semirechie Cossack organization, was released from prison on 27 January
after completing a three-month sentence in Almaty, Russian media
reported on 28 January. Gunkin was arrested in October last year while
seeking to register as a candidate in the December parliamentary
election and was convicted by an Almaty district court of organizing
unauthorized political rallies. The Semirechie Cossack organization is
seeking registration with the Kazakhstani Justice Ministry. -- Bhavna
Dave

[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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