Love cures people--both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it. - Karl Menninger
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 25, Part I, 05 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
MINERS SUSPEND STRIKE AFTER CASH PROMISE. Russian miners suspended their
nationwide strike after two days on 3 February, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Miners' leaders voted to halt the strike after Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a new pledge calling for payment of
10.4 trillion rubles ($2.2 billion) to the coal industry in 1996--3
trillion more than envisioned in the 1996 budget. According to Fuel and
Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik, the government owes miners 400 billion
rubles in overdue wages from 1995 and 600 billion for January, Russian
TV reported. Coal-Industry Workers' Union Chairman Vitalii Budko said
95% of the striking miners had returned to work but that the strike
would resume on 1 March if the government reneges on its commitments. --
Penny Morvant
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

ZYUGANOV, YAVLINSKII IN DAVOS. More than 150 Russian participants
descended on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov sought to assure Western politicians and
businessmen that they should not be disturbed by developments in Russia.
He said that "a return to a state monopoly is impossible" and that he
supports a stable cimate for foreign investors, Western and Russian
media reported. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii warned that
"confiscation and nationalization" are key to the Communists' platform
and that Zyuganov's message in Davos was different than it is at home.
He also said that it would now be possible for Yabloko to form a
coalition with Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar, since the
latter had renounced his ties with Yeltsin, NTV reported 4 February. --
Robert Orttung

MASS DEMONSTRATION IN GROZNY. Some 10,000 supporters of Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev staged a peaceful demonstration in Grozny on 4
February to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region,
Russian media reported. Earlier, Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev
said the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya could begin in 2-3
weeks, ITAR-TASS reported. His comments came after a 2 February meeting
with the Russian presidential adviser for legal affairs, Mikhail
Krasnov, and the commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya,
Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Also
on 2 February, Russian Economy Minister Yevgenii Yasin told ITAR-TASS he
was concerned that part of the 4 trillion rubles ($840 million)
allocated for Chechen reconstruction has vanished without a trace. --
Liz Fuller

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA CALLS FOR END TO CHECHNYA WAR. Duma Defense Committee
Chairman Lev Rokhlin and Sergei Belyaev, leader of the pro-government
Our Home Is Russia (NDR) Duma faction, called on the president and
government to pursue negotiations to end the military campaign in
Chechnya, Russian media reported on 2 February. Belyaev said that any
presidential candidate representing the current authorities could only
be elected in June if he managed to solve the Chechnya situation,
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN MEETS WITH DUMA SPEAKER. President Boris Yeltsin met with Duma
Speaker Gennadii Seleznev for more than an hour on 2 February, Russian
and Western agencies reported. According to the presidential press
service, the two discussed the need for the administration and
parliament to cooperate more on drafting legislation in order to improve
the quality of laws passed by the Duma. Seleznev told reporters that
Yeltsin promised to unveil a peace plan for Chechnya soon. An NTV
commentator observed that the meeting will primarily help the Communist
Party become a "respectable force," an image it is trying to cultivate
before the June presidential elections. -- Laura Belin

FILATOV TO LEAD NEW PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS. In mid-January,
Sergei Filatov was sacked after three years as President Yeltsin's chief
of staff and appointed to become First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets' deputy at an "official presidential campaign headquarters."
New reports suggest Filatov will lead a separate campaign headquarters
for Yeltsin, Russian media reported on 2 February. Meanwhile, the Duma
passed by a vote of 255-6 a motion inviting Soskovets to answer
questions about the status of the campaign office he is heading, which
he has insisted will not work for any one candidate. -- Laura Belin

NOVGOROD REGIONAL COURT CHALLENGES PRESIDENTIAL DECREE ON ELECTIONS. The
Novgorod regional court ruled on 2 February that Article 1 of President
Yeltsin's 17 September 1995 decree on regional elections contradicts the
constitution and requested the Constitutional Court to examine the
decree, ITAR-TASS reported. A group of local deputies had challenged the
Oblast Duma's decision to extend its electoral term until December 1997
in accordance with the presidential decree. -- Anna Paretskaya

TAMBOV AND SMOLENSK REGIONAL LEGISLATURES EXTEND THEIR TERMS. The Tambov
and Smolensk oblast Dumas have ruled to extend their term in office
until December 1997, Radio Rossii reported on 3 February. The step drew
protests in both cities. In Tambov both pro-reform political
organizations and the Communist Party's regional branch denounced the
decision as anti-democratic. The regional legislatures were elected in
late 1993 and early 1994 for a period of two years. -- Anna Paretskaya

CHINA LICENSED TO BUILD RUSSIAN JETS. China has been sold a license to
produce Su-27 jet fighters, Reuters reported on 2 February. Col. Gen.
Petr Deynekin, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, said the
sale "will bring Russia at least $2 billion." The deal was signed in
late 1995 and production is not scheduled to start for several years.
Russia will supply the plant to build the planes and will train the
Chinese in its operation. -- Doug Clarke

KOKOSHIN WARNS AGAINST NATO EXPANSION. Speaking at the annual Munich
Wehrkunde meeting of defense experts on 3 February, Russian First Deputy
Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin warned that NATO could set off a
backlash against reforms in Russia if it expands eastward, Reuters
reported. In written comments he charged that such an expansion would
also be "in violation of the obvious obligations of the West not to
expand [NATO] after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet
Union's consent to German unification." "This is a historical
injustice," he added. "We have retreated to the East and NATO is
advancing in the same direction, pushing us further and further East."
German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe sharply rejected Kokoshin's
assertion. -- Doug Clarke

GENERAL WARNS THAT ARMY AVIATION FACING EXTINCTION. Army aviation could
cease to exist as a branch of the Russian armed forces within the next
few years, according to its chief, Col. Gen. Vitalii Pavlov. Russian
media quoted him as telling a "crisis conference" of military and
defense industry leaders on 3 February that his forces had not received
a single new-generation helicopter in 1995 and could not afford to buy
any now. While his forces have 2,000 combat aircraft most of them are
"long out of date." Mi-24 attack helicopters have been in service for
over 20 years, Mi-8 for 30 years, and Mi-6 for 40 years. -- Doug Clarke

PENSION FUND STILL IN DIFFICULTIES. The Russian Pension Fund will
experience constant financial difficulties in 1996, the fund's vice
president, Yurii Lyublin, told ITAR-TASS on 2 February. He said the
problems are linked to the declining share of wages in the total income
of the population. He added that in January pensions were paid on time
in only 50 of Russia's 89 regions. According to Moskovskii komsomolets
on 3 February, the government still owes the Pension Fund 1.6 trillion
rubles for 1992-94 ($338 million at the current exchange rate) and 3
trillion for 1995. Delays in the payment of pensions last year led to
demonstrations in some towns and provided plenty of ammunition for the
Communists in run-up to the December Duma elections. -- Penny Morvant

GAZPROM THREATENS ACTION AGAINST BALTIC STATES. Gazprom, Russia's
largest gas company and the sole supplier of gas to the Baltic states,
is threatening to reduce deliveries to Latvia and Lithuania unless they
pay off their debts, BNS and Russian agencies reported on 1-3 February.
As of 1 February, the debts of state-owned companies Latvijas Gaze and
Lietuvos Dujos to Gazprom stood at $20 million and $28 million
respectively. The Latvian and Lithuanian companies claim that the
current payments crisis is caused by their consumers' debts ($38 million
in the case of Lietuvos Dujos). Estonia, where the gas company Eesti
Gaas has been privatized, is the only Baltic state with no outstanding
debt to Gazprom. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RESIGNATIONS IN TAJIK GOVERNMENT. The Tajik government announced on 4
February that First Deputy Prime Minister Makhmadsaid Ubadollayev had
submitted his resignation, according to Russian and Western sources. In
addition, presidential Chief of Staff Izatullo Khayeyev and the head of
the Khatlon region, Abdujalol Salimov, were dismissed. The moves were
meant to placate rebel military commanders who have occupied the cities
of Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube. The Tajik government has promised
amnesty to those in Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube who voluntarily
surrender their weapons. -- Bruce Pannier

MAJOR MILITARY ACTIVITY IN TAJIKISTAN. The Tajik government brought
extra troops to the capital, Dushanbe, amid fears that two military
commanders occupying cities in the south and west were preparing to
attack the capital, international sources reported. Mahmud
Khudaberdiyev's troops, currently occupying Kurgan-Tyube, have
reportedly pulled back from their positions some 15 km away from
Dushanbe. Meanwhile, fighters loyal to Ibodullo Baimatov, in control of
Tursun Zade, have remained in the vicinity of the western city. In the
eastern city of Tavil-Dara, 100 government soldiers are reported missing
after fighting last week. Heavy snowfall has brought hostilities to a
temporary halt. -- Bruce Pannier

TURKISH CREDITS TO CENTRAL ASIA, AZERBAIJAN, AND GEORGIA. To date,
Turkey has extended $986 million in Eximbank credits to the republics of
Central Asia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, Zaman reported on 2 February. The
lion's share of these credits has been extended to Azerbaijan ($270
million) and Uzbekistan ($250 million). Only about half of the credits,
or $556 million, has been used so far. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKHSTANI SUPREME COURT HEAD ACCUSED OF TAKING BRIBES. Confusion
prevails about the bribery charges levied against Supreme Court Chairman
Mikhail Malakhov by another member of the court, Utegen Iskhanov, ITAR-
TASS reported on 2 February. Iskhanov accused the chairman of receiving
imported cars and hard currency worth "up to hundreds of thousands of
dollars." The General Procurator's Office has refused to examine the
charges on the grounds that the alleged briber, Almas Nasenov, remains
at large. Meanwhile, Majilis Speaker Marat Ospanov rejected demands to
set up a parliamentary commission to inquire into allegations of
corruption and misuse of foreign credits by government members, Russian
TV reported on 4 February. -- Bhavna Dave

RUSSIA TO RETAIN CUSTOMS CONTROLS ON KAZAKHSTANI BORDER. Russia plans to
keep its customs controls on the border with Kazakhstan despite a 3
February decree lifting them, Russian media reported on 2 February,
quoting a "high-ranking staff member" on the Russian State Customs
Committee. The official stated that the decree only applies to goods
made in the two countries, but goods produced in third states are still
liable to border controls. He added that eliminating Russian customs
posts "would open the way to drugs from the Central Asian republics and
free exports of Russian strategic materials," as Kazakhstan has
unilaterally closed down its customs posts on the border. -- Bhavna Dave

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS. At
an emergency meeting in Tbilisi on 2 February, Georgian opposition
leaders demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Russian troops from the
country, Russian media reported the same day. Georgian United Republican
Party leader Nodar Natadze said that "no matter who is in power in
Russia--democrats, communists, liberals or nationalists--they all stand
for the same imperialist ideas." They accused the government and
President Eduard Shevardnadze of betraying the country's national
interests in order to remain in power. According to the Georgian news
agency BGI, the opposition also described the ratification of the Russo-
Georgian friendship treaty as illegal and called for Georgia to quit the
CIS and the annulment of the Russian peacekeeping mandate in Abkhazia.
-- Irakli Tsereteli

RUNOFF ELECTIONS IN AZERBAIJAN. Runoff elections were held in Azerbaijan
on 4 February in 15 electoral districts where no candidate was elected
during the 12 November parliamentary elections, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported. Among the 47 prospective candidates were Foreign Minister
Hasan Hasanov running in the Genje constituency where ballot boxes were
reportedly stolen during the first round of voting, and Musavat Party
leader Isa Gambar who was prevented from standing in the first round as
his party was barred from running for seats to be allocated on the
proportional system. On 1 February, police raided Musavat's headquarters
in Sumgait, where Gambar was a candidate, according to Turan. -- 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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