Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 28, Part I, 08 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YELTSIN CALLS FOR IMPROVED HIGH-TECH INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE. At the
meeting of the Security Council on 7 February, Yeltsin called on
Russia's special services to find ways to better utilize scientific
information collected by foreign intelligence agencies in the interests
of "technological rearmament," Ekho Moskvy reported. He told the Council
that "it is better to have a leading technology than a leading
ideology," Rossiiskie vesti reported on 8 February. He said only 10-20%
of the information received from foreign intelligence is used, and
argued that the key to success was not leadership in a particular
technology, but the quick application of new technology in the economy,
ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin also expressed concern about the departure
of Russia's most qualified specialists and the low level of university
instructors. -- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN'S HEALTH. A leading Russian cardiologist, Mikhail Alshibai,
discussed Yelstin's heart condition in an interview for Novoe vremya,
no. 5. Yelstin was hospitalized on 11 July and 26 October suffering from
ischemia, or inadequate supply of blood to the heart. Alshibai, who did
not treat the president, said that the second hospitalization was
clearly more serious than the first. He argued that the condition can
only be improved by surgery, which was presumably rejected for political
reasons. Alshibai said that judging by Yeltsin's television appearances
featuring slurred speech, that "There are some symptoms of
arteriosclerosis of the vessels supplying blood to the brain." -- Peter
Rutland

ZYUGANOV RESPONDS TO CHUBAIS' CHARGES. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov rejected former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais'
charge that he said one thing at home and another abroad in a speech to
the Duma, Izvestiya reported 8 February. Zyuganov stressed his party's
"social-democratic" goals, emphasizing that the party supported private
property and did not intend to carry out a policy of renationalization.
However, the communists plan to prosecute instances of "illegal"
privatization and do not support the selling of land. Zyuganov's
attempts to move toward the center will undoubtedly complicate his
relations with more orthodox communists. -- Robert Orttung

SPOKESMAN: NEMTSOV WON'T RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Nizhnii Novgorod Governor
Boris Nemtsov is not going to stand for the June presidential elections,
ITAR-TASS reported on 7 February citing the governor's spokesman,
Aleksandr Kotyusov. The spokesman said that a group formed earlier this
week in Moscow to nominate the popular Nemtsov for president was created
without the governor's knowledge. -- Anna Paretskaya

CHECHEN GOVERNMENT ASKS DEMONSTRATORS TO DISPERSE. In a television
address on 7 February, Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev called on the
Dudaev supporters who have been demonstrating in Grozny the past four
days to disperse, Russian media reported. ITAR-TASS quoted Deputy
Premier Abdulla Bugaev as stating that the authorities would not use
force against the demonstrators in what they describe as an
"unsanctioned meeting" unless they resisted police. Russian Television
reported that the withdrawal of Russian federal troops from Chechnya
would begin on 8 February with a pullout from Shatoi raion, which is
under the control of the pro-Moscow Chechen government. -- Liz Fuller

OFFICERS TO GO ON TRIAL FOR ACTIONS IN CHECHNYA. Several Interior
Ministry troops, including the commander of a division, will be tried
for impeding a military prosecutor in carrying out his duties, Russian
media reported on 6 February. The Main Military Prosecutor's Office said
that case involved an incident on the Chechen-Ingush border on 24
December when federal soldiers beat up the driver of an inter-city bus.
The report said the division commander would not allow prosecutors to
visit the crime scene. -- Doug Clarke

FEDERATION COUNCIL WANTS NEW COMMISSION FOR CHECHNYA. The Federation
Council on 7 February called for the formation of a new governmental
commission representing both houses of parliament, the president, the
government, and the constitutional court to hammer out a unified policy
toward the Chechen crisis, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
Council said that "a resumption of large-scale military actions must be
prevented...and the war ended." President Yeltsin apparently plans to
launch a new Chechen initiative soon. -- Scott Parrish

REGIONAL GOVERNORS ACTIVE IN FEDERATION COUNCIL. Krasnaya zvezda
reported on 8 February that Aleksandr Ryabov, recently elected governor
of the Tambov Oblast on the Communist Party ticket, was picked to chair
the upper house of parliament's Committee for Security and Defense
Issues. Among his deputies are the respective governors of Sverdlovsk
Oblast and Primorsk Krai, Eduard Rossel and Yevgenii Nazdratenko. The
pro-government Yevgenii Savchenko, elected governor of Belgorod in
December, will head the Federation Council's Committee for Agrarian
Policy, while Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, will head the Budget and
Finance committee, according to Rossiiskaya gazeta on 1 February. --
Anna Paretskaya

YELTSIN APPOINTS REPRESENTATIVES TO PARLIAMENT. President Boris Yeltsin
appointed his representatives to both houses of the Russian parliament,
ITAR-TASS reported on 7 February. Anatolii Sliva, who headed the
Committee on Local Self-Government in the previous State Duma, will
represent the president in the parliament's upper house, while Deputy
Minister of Nationalities Aleksandr Kotenkov will be his representative
to the Duma. The former presidential representative to the parliament,
Aleksandr Yakovlev, resigned earlier this week (see OMRI Daily Digest 6
February 1996) -- Anna Paretskaya

DUMA PASSES LAW RAISING MINIMUM PENSION, WAGE. The parliament's lower
house passed a bill on 7 February raising the minimum wage to 75,900
rubles ($16) a month as of 1 February; 255 deputies voted for the hike
and 17 against with four abstentions. According to ITAR-TASS, the Duma
also raised the minimum pension to 75,900 rubles as of 1 March; this
bill had the support of 282 deputies. Both the government and the
Pension Fund are against the increases, arguing that they are
unaffordable (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 January). The law must still be
approved by the Federation Council and signed by the president. -- Penny
Morvant

ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR READY TO SUE YELTSIN. "If Boris Yeltsin issues an
edict forbidding St. Petersburg mayoral elections, then I will sue in
the Constitutional Court," said St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak,
according to Rossiiskaya gazeta on 7 February. Under a decree of the
city's Legislative Assembly, the mayoral elections are to be held on 16
June, along with presidential poll. Sobchak's term expires four days
earlier. However, Yeltsin is against any local elections or referendums
to be held that day, according to Sergei Tsyplyaev, a Yeltsin
representative in St. Petersburg. Under a 17 September presidential
decree, the elections of executive heads of federation subjects should
be conducted in December 1996, with the exception of Moscow, where
Yeltsin will allow a mayoral poll on 16 June. -- Anna Paretskaya

THERE WILL BE NO SUSPENSE IN TATAR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The incumbent
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev is the only candidate for the
March republican presidential elections, Russian news agencies reported.
Communists, who had nominated local factory director Ramil Gabdrakhmanov
as their candidate, decided "to quit the race" a few minutes before the
deadline for handing in signatures for candidates expired. According to
Russian federal laws, elections with only one candidate are
illegitimate. However, re-election of the unopposed Kalmykian president
in October caused nothing but verbal denouncement of the Central
Electoral Commission's Chairman Nikolai Ryabov. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA AND GEORGIA DISCUSS AIR DEFENSE COOPERATION. Georgian Defense
Minster Vardiko Nadibaidze and First Deputy Commander of the Russian Air
Defense Forces, Col.-Gen. Sergei Sapegin discussed the development of
the integrated CIS air defense system in Tbilisi on 7 February, ITAR-
TASS reported. Nadibaidze said that joint training exercises were
already underway for the unified air defense system, which was formed by
a February 1995 agreement signed by all CIS states except Moldova and
Azerbaijan. Under a decision made at the January CIS summit, Russia will
finance upgrades in the air defenses of Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan,
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Sapegin said that Russia planned
to provide Georgia with 10 billion rubles ($2.1 million) for its air
defenses. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, U.S. TO JOINTLY CLEAN-UP LAKE BAIKAL. An agreement to work
jointly to protect the ecology of Lake Baikal has been reached at the
Russian-U.S. intergovernmental commission on economic and technical
cooperation headed by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and
U.S. Vice President Albert Gore, Russian media reported on 6 February.
The commission agreed to overhaul the Baikalsk pulp and paper factory,
which according to the Russian branch of Greenpeace is the only firm
that dumps its waste directly into the lake. -- Anna Paretskaya

NIZHNII NOVGOROD FIRM FINISHES BLUEPRINT OF NUCLEAR WASTE REPROCESSING
VESSEL. The Vympel design office in Nizhnii Novgorod has finished the
blueprint for a vessel to reprocess liquid nuclear waste, ITAR-TASS
reported on 8 February. The vessel will be built by a shipbuilder in
Komsomolsk-na-Amure and will be able to reprocess 7,000 tons of waste a
year. The project is a joint effort by Russian, Japanese, and U.S. firms
aimed at safeguarding the ecological security of the Russian Far East.
It costs $26 million and is being paid for by the Japanese government as
part of funds allocated in 1993 to support Russian nuclear disarmament.
-- Penny Morvant

PRISON GUARDS PROTEST DELAYED WAGES. Over 60 guards at a jail in
Petrozavodsk in the republic of Kareliya have been on hunger strike for
three days to protest wage arrears, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 February.
The guards, who are Interior Ministry (MVD) employees, were last paid in
October. On 7 February, a battalion of the MVD's service for
transporting detainees in Tula Oblast also proclaimed a hunger strike,
again to protest arrears in wages and other payments. According to
Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Durbazhev, the MVD began 1996 with
debts of 3.4 trillion rubles ($720 million). He said the MVD needs 42
trillion rubles this year but has been allocated only 25 trillion in the
1996 budget. -- Penny Morvant

CANNIBALISM IN KEMEROVO. Police in the Siberian city of Kemerovo said on
7 February they have detained a man who confessed to killing a local
criminal, making ravioli out of him, and then eating the dish during a
drinking session with two friends, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Details of the crime emerged when a group of homeless people
rummaging through a rubbish dump discovered a human head and other body
parts later identified as the remains of Vladimir Laptin, a criminal
with a string of convictions. An investigation led police to three
suspects, one of whom confessed to the killing. Last July two prisoners
in a Siberian prison were accused of eating their cell-mate. -- Penny
Morvant

RUSSIA IMPOSES EXCISE DUTIES ON UKRAINIAN GOODS. A presidential decree
on levying excise taxes on goods manufactured in Ukraine will come into
force on 18 February, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 February. The introduction
of this measure signed on 19 January (which may seriously affect
Ukraine's exports of tobacco, alcohol and cars) follows the Ukrainian
government's decision to lift excise taxes from all goods exported to
Russia, making them cheaper than Russian commodities. Officials at the
State Customs Committee told OMRI that hitherto the trade flows between
the two countries were exempt from import duties, excise tax, and value
added tax. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GOVERNMENT TROOPS PULL BACK IN TAVIL-DARA. Tajik government troops on 7
February pulled back to positions in the Lyulikharv area, according to
ITAR-TASS. The fighting has been going on for a week and according to a
radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report on 7 February, the government dead
total about 60 and more than 250 soldiers and officers have been taken
prisoner. There was no mention of opposition force losses or any
confirmation from the Tajik government on their casualties. The same
radio report claimed opposition forces in Tavil-Dara have captured two
ammo dumps, two tanks, and eight armored vehicles. Bad weather has so
far prevented the Tajik government forces from employing air power. --
Bruce Pannier

TAJIKISTAN FACES SERIOUS FOOD SHORTAGE. The United Nations' Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a statement on 6 February
warning that Tajikistan is facing a serious food shortage, according to
Western agencies. The FAO claims that Tajikistan has roughly 40% of the
required food grain imports necessary this year. A poor harvest coupled
with Tajikistan's emphasis on cotton has contributed to the situation as
well as bad harvests in Russia and Kazakhstan, Tajikistan's main
suppliers. Tajik authorities requested the U.S. government to speed up
delivery of 20,000 tons of grain on 19 January, Tajik Radio reported. --
Bruce Pannier

NIYAZOV HOSPITALIZED FOR TESTS. Before attending to official business in
Turkey, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov will undergo a
medical check up at the American Hospital in Istanbul, the paper Yeni
Yuzyil reported on 8 February. The duration of his stay in hospital is
unclear his doctor said, noting that cardiological tests on Niyazov can
take several days. Niyazov's health has been monitored periodically over
the past two years at the American Hospital following an operation on
his leg in the U.S. in 1994, the paper reported. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

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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