The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 24, Part I, 02 February 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
TENSE STANDOFF IN DUSHANBE. Rebel forces loyal to Colonel Mahmud
Khudaberdiyev and Ibodullo Baimatov have advanced to within 15 km of the
Tajik capital Dushanbe, Reuters reported on 2 February. A spokesman for
Khudaberdiyev said the forces "have no intention of entering" the
capital but are calling on the parliament to dismiss the government. On
1 February, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov said in an address to
parliament that he had no intention of dismissing the government and
accused "foreign forces" of working to "wipe the republic off the map."
Meanwhile, pro-government fighters have gathered in a stadium in
Dushanbe and are said to be preparing for a fight with rebel forces that
have occupied the southern city of Kurgan-Tyube and the western city of
Tursun Zade. In related news, RFE/RL sources reported that as many as
100 Tajik government soldiers are missing as a result of fighting in the
Tavil Dara region of Garm. -- Lowell Bezanis and Bruce Pannier
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

SPEAKERS OF FEDERATION COUNCIL, DUMA AGREE TO COOPERATE. Federation
Council Speaker Yegor Stroev and State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev
agreed that the two houses of parliament should cooperate more on
drafting legislation, Russian media reported on 1 February. They vowed
not to repeat the experience of the last parliament, in which the
Council turned down about half the laws passed by the Duma, and the
president returned some poorly-drafted laws to parliament due to
technical flaws, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Working together on
legislation may be easier said than done. Although left-wing opposition
deputies have a working majority in the 450-seat Duma, at least 99 of
the 178 Council deputies are considered "loyal Yeltsinists," while only
28 are consistent "oppositionists," Obshchaya gazeta reported in its 11-
17 January edition. -- Laura Belin

MINERS' STRIKE CONTINUES. Union leaders said on 2 February that about
450,000 Russian miners are continuing to strike and that about 170 of
the nation's 245 mines have been shut down, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Rosugol said on 1 February that work had stopped that day at
118 of the country's 182 mines and 27 of its 63 opencast pits. Union
representatives said about half a million miners had joined the strike.
In Vorkuta, at a demonstration in support of the miners on 1 February,
about 7,000 residents called on the government to resign because of its
inability to pay workers' wages. Presidential economics adviser
Aleksandr Livshits said that the government has now paid the 600 billion
rubles ($130 million) it owed in wage arrears for 1995. -- Penny Morvant

DUMA TO REVIEW PRIVATIZATION RESULTS. Deputies voted on 31 January to
set up a commission to review the results of privatization from 1992 to
1995, Segodnya reported the following day. The commission has until 6
March to compile a list of issues to be considered in analyzing the
first and second stages of privatization, to determine the materials to
be used in the analysis, to hear reports from the officials who prepared
those materials, and to review the activities of enterprises that broke
the law. The paper quoted a Yabloko deputy as saying he believed the
material gathered by the commission would be used for political ends in
the run-up to the presidential election. -- Penny Morvant

ELECTORAL COMMISSION CLARIFIES RULES ON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. The
Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) announced that presidential
candidates will be able to spend a maximum of 14.5 billion rubles ($3.1
million) during the campaign, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 February.
Individual contributions will be limited to about 2.88 million rubles
($610), and legal entities will be allowed to donate up to 288 million
rubles ($61,000). Candidates will be required to make all campaign-
related deposits and withdrawals at special Sberbank accounts. The TsIK
also published detailed rules covering signature collection in
Rossiiskaya gazeta on 1 February. Candidates will need to submit at
least 1 million signatures by 16 April to be registered, with no more
than 70,000 signatures from any one region of Russia. Rules on campaign
financing were not enforced during the Duma campaign, and parties
seeking registration routinely ignored the prohibition on paying for
signatures. -- Laura Belin

MORE COMMUNISTS UNITE BEHIND ZYUGANOV. The Communist Party of the
Russian Federation will not officially nominate Gennadii Zyuganov for
president until mid-February, but his campaign continues to attract
allies. On 1 February, Oleg Shenin, chairman of the Union of Communist
Parties-Communist Party of the Soviet Union, gave Zyuganov's candidacy
his blessing, Ekho Moskvy and Russian TV reported. Like Viktor Anpilov's
Workers' Russia, which has also endorsed Zyuganov, Shenin's party is
small, but its support reduces the chances that a far-left candidate
will split the communist vote in June. Shenin estimated that there are
35 million communist and patriotic voters in Russia, enough to decide
the presidential election in the first round if they unite behind
Zyuganov. About 69 million Russians voted in the December parliamentary
elections. -- Laura Belin

DUMA TO MONITOR DEFENSE SPENDING. The State Duma instructed three of its
committees to investigate state spending on defense orders, ITAR-TASS
reported on 31 January. Aleksandr Vengerovskii of the Liberal Democratic
Party, who proposed the measure, said the investigation should not have
a negative impact on purchasing programs that have already been adopted.
The committees involved are: Budget, chaired by Yabloko member Mikhail
Zadornov; Defense, led by Our Home Is Russia's Lev Rokhlin; and
Security, headed by the Communist Party's Viktor Ilyukhin. -- Doug
Clarke

YEGOROV WILL LOBBY FOR MILITARY AVIATION. Presidential Chief of Staff
Nikolai Yegorov announced on 1 February that he will "lobby the
government and president for the interests of military aviation" at a
meeting of the Military Council of the Russian air forces, Izvestiya
reported. Yegorov, a member of the council, said aircraft and space
technology is "the locomotive which leads the development of all other
industrial sectors," Russian TV reported. The chief of staff said that
the shortage of money for the air forces was "temporary." Russia has
contracts for $6.5 billion in military aircraft abroad in 1996, he
asserted. If these plans are realized, he said, Russia would become the
second largest arms supplier on the world market, providing significant
funds to further develop the air force. According to Russian Public TV
(ORT), Russia did not have enough money to buy a single military
airplane in 1995 although it needed about 250-300 to preserve military
readiness. -- Robert Orttung

ALPHA VETERAN SUPPORTS MOVES TO STRENGTHEN SECURITY SERVICES. Sergei
Goncharov, the president of the Association of Alpha Veterans, supports
the moves of Federal Security Service Director Mikhail Barsukov to
reintegrate the security services, according to an interview in Germes
(#1-2). When the democrats came to power in 1991, they destroyed the KGB
by dividing its functions among a variety of agencies, Goncharov argued.
The results were the ineffective responses to situations like the
hostage taking in Budennovsk. Goncharov is a close associate of Duma
member Aleksandr Lebed. -- Robert Orttung

PAK WANTS LEANER, MEANER MILITARY. Zinovii Pak, the new head of the
State Committee for the Defense Industry, has proposed a draft program
that calls for a smaller but better armed military, ITAR-TASS reported
on 1 February. The program was jointly developed by the Defense and
Economics ministries on the principle of "reasonable sufficiency." Pak
was said to have recently told President Boris Yeltsin that a military
as large as once existed would be an unnecessary burden to Russia.
Unless a program like his draft proposal was adopted, he feared that the
defense industry would not survive. -- Doug Clarke

YELTSIN ORDERS PROMPT PAYMENT OF STATE SECTOR WAGES. President Yeltsin
issued a decree on 1 February on additional measures to ensure the
prompt payment of salaries to public sector workers, Radio Rossii
reported. It calls for stricter schedules for paying state sector
employees, including the military and police. The prime minister is to
report to the president on the issue at least every other week and to
identify officials responsible for delays. Meanwhile, the deputy
commander of the Interior Ministry's Internal Troops told ITAR-TASS on 2
February that his men, including those serving in Chechnya, are
experiencing severe financial difficulties. He said troops outside
Chechnya are still owed money for November, adding that the Chechen
operation had cost the Internal Troops 670 billion rubles (about $146
million) in 1995, but they had only received 88 billion rubles ($19
million) from the government. -- Penny Morvant

RADIOACTIVE GAS ESCAPES FROM NUCLEAR REACTOR. A cloud of radioactive gas
and steam leaked into the atmosphere from a nuclear reactor at a
research institute in Dmitrovgrad in central Russia, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 1 February. The gas escaped when a safety valve at
the reactor blew on 31 January. Reports on the extent of the
contamination varied, but it reportedly posed no threat to the health of
institute employees or the local population. -- Penny Morvant

IMF AND RUSSIA REACH BROAD AGREEMENT ON 1996 PROGRAM. Russia and the IMF
have reached a broad agreement on a three-year $9 billion extended fund
facility for Russia, Russian and Western agencies reported on 31
January, citing a Russian Central Bank announcement. U.S. President Bill
Clinton backed the program. It is unclear, however, whether the IMF
economic program, which calls for a further decline in inflation and a
tough monetary policy, will be acceptable to Russia. The government
recently announced that it will increase social spending and support
domestic industry. The IMF Board of Governors is expected to make a
final decision on the $9 billion loan in late February. -- Natalia
Gurushina

JANUARY INFLATION RATE HITS 4.1%. In the first month of 1996, Russia's
inflation rate was 4.1%, a marked increase over December's 3.2% but well
below the 17.8% rate in January 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 February,
citing the State Statistical Committee. Prices of food products went up
by 4% and non-food products by 2.7% (in December 1995, the figures were
3.4% and 3%). However, prices of services rocketed up by 8.1% (compared
with 3% in December 1995). Given the recent pro-conservative cabinet
reshuffle, January's inflation increase has sparked concern that the
government might not be able to meet its promise to bring the monthly
inflation rate for 1996 down to 1.9%. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

YELTSIN SENDS BATURIN TO TAJIKISTAN. President Boris Yeltsin has sent
his security adviser, Yurii Baturin, to Dushanbe for talks with Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov. Speaking at the airport, Baturin told
reporters that the purpose of his visit is "to contribute to a
settlement and to defuse the tension in Tajikistan," Russian media
reported on 1 February. In related news, Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry
and parliament sent a joint appeal to the Tajik president and people
expressing concern with the situation in Tajikistan and urging the sides
involved to exercise restraint and work toward a peaceful settlement of
the conflict, according to an Uzbek TV report on 31 January cited by the
BBC. -- Lowell Bezanis and Bruce Pannier

DRUG CONVICTIONS UP IN KAZAKHSTAN. Drug trafficking convictions in
Kazakhstan increased by 41% last year, according to an RFE/RL report of
31 January. In his annual address on the state of Kazakhstan's courts
and legal system, Justice Minister Konstantin Kolpakov reported a 15%
increase in serious crime, noting that 74,000 criminal and 115,500 civil
cases were tried last year. He did not give the total number of crimes
recorded, but emphasized that the government was cracking down on crime
despite a continuing shortage of trained legal personnel and law
enforcement officials. He also urged the parliament to adopt a new
criminal code. -- Bhavna Dave

TRIAL OF GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS ADJOURNED. The trial of Loti Kobalia,
head of the military forces loyal to the late President Zviad
Gamsakhurdia, and of four other Gamsakhurdia aides charged with state
treason, fomenting civil war, and banditry, opened in Tbilisi on 1
February but was immediately adjourned because the lawyer representing
one of the defendants was not present, Ekho Moskvy reported. Former
Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani, currently on trial for
creating an illegal military formation with the intention of
reconquering Abkhazia, has been hospitalized in Tbilisi after suffering
a heart attack, AFP reported on 2 February. -- Liz Fuller

[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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