Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. - Anaiis Nin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 22, Part I, 31 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YELTSIN CONSOLIDATES ADMINISTRATION INTO SIX DEPARTMENTS. President
Boris Yeltsin has reorganized his administration into six departments,
ITAR-TASS quoted Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov as saying on 30 January.
The departments are: constitutional guarantees of citizens' rights,
domestic and foreign policy, state-legal matters, personnel, analysis,
and oversight. Yegorov will have one first deputy and six deputies who
will head each of the departments. The administration will cut its
current 43 subdivisions to 19 and its staff from 2,100 to 1,500
employees. Yegorov stressed that Aleksandr Korzhakov's Presidential
Security Service and the president's advisers will remain directly
subordinate to Yeltsin, Radio Mayak reported. He described his
relationship with the government and its staff as one of "partnership."
-- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

DUMA EYES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. Emboldened by their increased
numbers, opposition deputies in the Duma intend to pass about 10
constitutional amendments this year to increase parliamentary oversight
of the executive branch, Kommersant-Daily reported on 30 January. One
proposal would give the Duma the power to confirm not only the prime
minister, but also all deputy prime ministers and the "power ministers"
(defense, interior, and head of the security services). Another would
allow the Duma to force the removal of individual ministers; currently
parliament can only pass no-confidence votes in the government as a
whole. These proposals are unlikely to succeed: changes to the
constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the Duma, three-fourths
of the Federation Council, and two-thirds of the legislatures of
Russia's 89 regions. -- Laura Belin

HOW A CONVICTED CRIMINAL WAS ELECTED TO THE DUMA. Mikhail Monastyrskii,
convicted of four crimes and sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison,
has become a Duma deputy on the party list of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Izvestiya reported on 31
January. Zhirinovsky dropped Monastyrskii and 10 other candidates with a
criminal past from the LDPR list in October. However, four days after
the December elections, the party asked the Central Electoral Commission
(TsIK) to reinstate Monastyrskii on its list. The TsIK decided that
Monastyrskii could be registered as a Duma deputy since its 29 November
resolution removing him from the party list had not yet been officially
published. Izvestiya reported that Monastyrskii is a major financial
backer of the LDPR, citing an anonymous source. -- Laura Belin

LUZHKOV: TOO MANY FOREIGN-LANGUAGE SIGNS IN MOSCOW. Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov has criticized draft rules on advertising in the capital,
chiefly because they do not include precise regulations on foreign-
language signs, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. According to Izvestiya
on 31 January, the mayor suggested that foreign-language signs should be
placed in shop-windows rather than on the facades of buildings, with
letters no taller than 10 cm. He also called for creating a special
service within the city's Press and Information Department to assign and
sell advertising space as well as oversee financial and linguistic
issues. Izvestiya quoted one official who estimated that the Moscow city
government has lost up to $200,000 due to the practice of selling
advertising space on huge billboards for as little as $25. -- Laura
Belin

MOSCOW MOST EXPENSIVE CITY. According to the latest Eurostat survey,
Moscow is the world's most expensive city for business visitors, Russian
and Western media reported on 31 January. The basic daily expenses of a
business visitor (including a night in a four- or five-star hotel) costs
$543 in Moscow, followed by $516 in Tokyo and $468 in Buenos Aires.
Minsk and Erevan were among the cheapest cities, at $125 and $132
respectively. -- Peter Rutland

PRESIDENT ORDERS AID TO KEMEROVO. President Yeltsin ordered the
government to pay its more than 200 billion ruble ($42 million) debts to
the Kemerovo coal miners and government employees, Western agencies
reported on 30 January. Miners across the country have set a national
strike for 1 February. In the 1995 Duma elections, 48% of Kemerovo's
voters supported the Communist Party, largely due to the popularity of
Kemerovo Oblast legislative leader Aman Tuleev. -- Robert Orttung

ST. PETERSBURG MAYORAL ELECTION AGAIN IN JEOPARDY. St. Petersburg's
mayoral election, scheduled to coincide with Russia's presidential
election on 16 June, is in jeopardy, St. Petersburg's presidential
representative, Sergei Tsiplaev, told Nevskoe vremya on 30 January.
Tsiplaev was quoted as saying that mayoral election will not happen
until the city's legislative assembly passes a law on local elections.
According to Tsiplaev, President Boris Yeltsin does not want voters in
the presidential election to be distracted by regional concerns. Yeltsin
has stated that all elections for regional executive positions should
take place in December 1996, with the exception of Moscow. -- Brian
Whitmore, OMRI Inc. in St. Petersburg

U.S. AND RUSSIA SIGN ECONOMIC ACCORDS. Closing the sixth session of the
Russo-U.S. economic and technical cooperation committee which they co-
chair, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and U.S. Vice
President Al Gore announced the signing of several bilateral accords,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 30 January. They include an
agreement on the use of satellites to monitor ecological disasters, an
accord outlining joint work on the international orbital space station
scheduled to go into operation in 1998, a tax agreement, and accords on
drug and food safety. An expected deal for joint exploitation of the
Timano-Pechorskii oil fields was postponed. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of
Energy Hazel O'Leary said the two countries are "very close" to signing
an agreement allowing for verification that the uranium which the U.S.
is purchasing from Russia actually comes from dismantled nuclear
warheads (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 January 1996). -- Scott Parrish

$1 BILLION AIRCRAFT DEAL FOR RUSSIA. On 30 January, the U.S. Export-
Import Bank announced that it will provide a $1 billion loan to enable
Pratt and Whitney engines and other U.S. made equipment to be used in
the construction of 20 Ilyushin-96 aircraft, ITAR-TASS reported on 31
January. The aircraft will then be leased to Aeroflot Russian
International Airlines. In return, the Russian government is expected to
lift a 30% import tariff on the sale of Boeing planes to Russia. --
Natalia Gurushina

MILITARY CALLS LATEST DRAFT A SUCCESS. As many as 224,000 young men were
called up in the autumn draft, according to Col. Gen. Vyacheslav
Zherebtsov, chief of the General Staff's Main Organizational and
Mobilization Directorate. Russian media quoted him as saying that the
successful call-up means that the Ground Forces and the navy are manned
up to 75% of their authorized strength and the other services up to 80%.
Zherebtsov said that no conscript would be sent to Chechnya during the
first six months of service. He said that draft evasion remained a
problem, with about 31,000 potential conscripts on the run. -- Doug
Clarke

MIXED RESPONSE TO EDUCATION STRIKE CALL. Teachers in many areas of
Russia stopped work on 30 January to protest wage arrears. Galina
Merkulova, a teachers' union official, said about 225,000 teachers from
51 regions had resolved to participate, but she claimed that pressure
from local authorities might keep some teachers at work. Most reports
said support for the strike call was patchy, with teachers remaining at
work in Moscow and many other regions. Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir
Kinelev said that local authorities owe teachers 1.2 trillion rubles
($255 million). He said that last December the government had allocated
an additional 1.7 trillion rubles to the regions to pay teachers' wages
but that in many cases the money had not reached schools. -- Penny
Morvant

GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW ALCOHOL CAMPAIGN. The Russian government adopted
a package of measures to re-establish state control over the alcohol
industry on 27 January, prompting an intense debate in the Russian
media. Kommersant-Daily on 30 January compared the measures to
Gorbachev's ill-fated 1985 anti-alcohol campaign. Regulations had been
almost entirely lifted in 1992, causing state revenues from alcohol
sales to fall from 4% to 1% of GDP, according to First Deputy Economics
Minister Yakov Urinson, speaking on Russian TV on 30 January. Quotas
will be introduced to limit imports, which now account for more than 50%
of alcohol sales. New procedures will be instituted to ensure that all
domestic producers pay taxes and duties, which could generate another 40
trillion rubles ($8.5 billion) for the budget. These steps may cause a
rise in the retail price of alcohol. -- Peter Rutland

OIL TRANSPORT RATES GO UP. The Fuel and Energy Ministry announced a 10%
increase in oil transport rates, Russian agencies reported on 30
January. Rates on domestic routes will range from 3100 to 3700 rubles
(65-78 cents) per ton per 100 km. In transporting oil across CIS
countries, the Russians propose to use these domestic rates plus a
supplement of $3.2 per 100 km. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TROUBLE IN ANOTHER TAJIK CITY. Local law enforcement officers in the
northern city of Khojent have been able to apprehend a group, led by
General Muminjon Mamadjonov who stole 100 sub-machine guns from a local
recruiting center and attempted to flee to the nearby city of Kanibadam,
according to a 30 January Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report cited by
the BBC. Meanwhile, authorities are still negotiating with former
Popular Front commanders Ibodullo Baimatov and Mahmud Khudaberdiyev who
have occupied buildings in the cities of Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube,
respectively. According to unconfirmed reports, emergency measures have
been taken in almost every major city in Tajikistan including the
capital, Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier

MORE ON PRIMAKOV VISIT TO TASHKENT. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov, his first deputy, Boris Pastukhov, Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev, and Uzbek President Islam Karimov held "strictly classified"
discussions in Tashkent on 28 January. On 30 January, Segodnya
speculated that Moscow is attempting to persuade Tashkent to promote an
easing of tensions in Tajikistan in exchange for combat equipment and
humanitarian aid, some of which would be transferred to Tajikistan. The
paper suggested that Moscow wants Karimov to use his influence among
restive ethnic Uzbeks dwelling in Khojent--who have been increasingly at
odds with the Kulyabi dominated government in Dushanbe as evidenced by
two uprisings led by Uzbek commanders--and ease the confrontation
between the Tajik government and opposition. The article also noted that
Karimov dodged Russia's renewed efforts to raise the question of
broadening the mandate of CIS peacekeepers along the Tajik-Afghan
border. -- Lowell Bezanis

CAMECO WILL INVEST $160 MILLION IN KYRGYZSTAN THIS YEAR. Canada's Cameco
plans to invest $160 million in the Kumtor gold field in 1996, Kumtor
Operating Company President Len Khomenyuk told the Russian media on 30
January. In 1995 Cameco invested $215 million in the project, which is
Kyrgyzstan's largest. The project is expected to yield 15 metric tons of
gold annually, worth about $200 million. Production is scheduled to
begin in 1997. -- Bruce Pannier

NEW KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT CONVENES. President Nursultan Nazarbayev
inaugurated the new bicameral parliament that was elected last December,
thus formally ending the presidential rule in effect since the
dissolution of the former parliament in March last year. Criticizing the
old parliament for its inaction on economic reforms, Nazarbayev hailed
the economic progress made under presidential rule, ITAR-TASS reported
on 30 January. On its first day, Omirbek Baigeldiyev, the 57-year-old
former head of Zhambul Oblast and adviser to the president, was elected
Senate speaker. Murat Ospanov, the 47-year-old former deputy speaker of
the ex-Supreme Soviet, was elected chairman of the Majilis. The same day
several dozen people gathered outside the parliament to protest wage
arrears, low salaries, and the lack of heating and electricity in the
capital and other regions, Russian media and NTV reported on 30 January.
-- Bhavna Dave

BREAD PRICES RISE IN GEORGIA. Bread prices in Georgia are to rise by 40%
beginning on 15 February bringing the cost of 1 kg of bread to 42 tetri
(about 35 cents), Georgian Finance Minister David Yakobidze told the
Russian media on 30 January. Since the minimum monthly wage and pension
amount to 6 lari in Georgia, the population will receive monthly
compensation payments of 1-1.50 lari (80 cents to $1.25). Only 138,000
metric tons is expected to arrive this year, compared with Last year,
Georgia received 504,000 metric tons of "humanitarian" grain, but only
138,000 tons is expected this year. -- Irakli Tsereteli

[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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   Center for International Networking Initiatives
   The University of Tennessee System                Phone:  (423) 974-7277
   2000 Lake Avenue                                    FAX:  (423) 974-8022
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