We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 29, Part I, 09 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 INSTRUCTS CHERNOMYRDIN TO FIND CHECHNYA SOLUTION. President
Boris Yeltsin has asked Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to choose one
of seven options for ending the war in Chechnya discussed at a recent
Security Council meeting, Russian and Western agencies reported on 8
February. Chernomyrdin has long been associated with those who seek a
negotiated end to the conflict. Yeltsin admitted in an interview with
ITAR-TASS that he needs a compromise: withdrawing the troops would lead
to "carnage," but he will not win reelection in June unless the Chechen
war is brought to an end. Yelstin is expected to officially announce his
candidacy for the presidency in his hometown of Yekaterinburg on 15
February. -- Laura Belin
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA GIVES "UNCONDITIONAL" SUPPORT TO YELTSIN. Meanwhile,
the council of Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia (NDR) movement
expressed its "total and unconditional support" for the presidential
candidacy of Boris Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 February. The prime
minister told the 9 February Izvestiya that he is confident Yeltsin will
win reelection in June. Although some NDR members were apparently
dissatisfied that Chernomyrdin himself will not seek the presidency,
Izvestiya reported that there were few objections raised at the council
meeting. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN UPDATES SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP. President Boris Yeltsin
formally removed former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, former Duma
Speaker Ivan Rybkin and former Federation Council Speaker Vladimir
Shumeiko from the Security Council, ITAR-TASS reported 7 February.
However, the agency stated that Yeltsin does not intend to replace them
with the new speakers, Gennadii Seleznev and Yegor Stroev, on the
grounds that this would violate the separation of powers. The Council
includes Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the power
ministers, and a variety of other executive branch officials. It meets
infrequently, but usually deals with important issues such as the
consequences of the Black Tuesday ruble crisis or the decision to use
force in Chechnya. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, the new director of the Foreign
Intelligence Service, became a non-voting member of the Council. --
Robert Orttung

YELTSIN MEETS UNION LEADERS. At a meeting in the Kremlin on 7 February,
President Boris Yeltsin and trade union leaders discussed the problem of
wage arrears, ITAR-TASS reported. He said the government is currently
working out a schedule to pay off its debts to the state sector and
promised that its implementation would be strictly monitored, Russian
Television reported. Wage arrears in the Russian economy now amount to
more than 13 trillion rubles ($2.7 billion), and the issue has prompted
numerous labor disputes. At a meeting of Our Home Is Russia leaders on 8
February, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin said arrears in wages and other
social payments in budget-funded enterprises and organizations now total
7.5 trillion rubles ($1.7 billion), ITAR-TASS reported. -- Penny Morvant

POLICE CORDON OFF DEMONSTRATORS IN GROZNY. The situation in Grozny
remained tense as the mass demonstration in the town's central square
entered its fifth day. During the afternoon of 8 February, Russian and
Chechen Interior Ministry forces cordoned off the square occupied by
some 2,000 pro-Dudaev demonstrators, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported.
Attempts by Chechen parliament deputies to persuade the demonstrators to
disperse proved unsuccessful. Despite assurances by Chechen officials
that violence would not be used against the demonstrators, early on 9
February police opened fire on a man who allegedly attacked a security
official, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller

PRIMAKOV MEETS WITH DUMA MEMBERS. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov met
with the Duma International Affairs Committee on 8 February and called
for close cooperation between the Duma and the foreign ministry, ITAR-
TASS reported. Primakov pledged to "defend Russia's national interests
more actively than perhaps was the case in the past," although he added
that he would seek to prevent any drift towards confrontation with the
West, with which he said Russia had many common interests. Primakov said
he planned to give priority to "accelerating integrative processes
within the CIS," but dismissed as "primitive and untrue" Western worries
that Russia aims to resurrect the USSR. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA OFFICIALLY INVITED TO JOIN COUNCIL OF EUROPE. The Council of
Europe's Committee of Ministers gave final approval on 8 February to
Russian membership in the organization, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The ministers endorsed a 25 January recommendation by the
council's Parliamentary Assembly. Russia will become the 39th member of
the council, following approval by the Russian parliament. Russia
applied for membership in May 1992, but doubts about democratic
standards, human rights, and the war in Chechnya led to repeated
postponements of its application. -- Scott Parrish

IRAQ AND RUSSIA SIGN OIL DEAL. Russia and Iraq have concluded a $10
billion deal to revitalize the Iraqi oil industry and boost its
production capacity by 1 million barrels/day after the UN economic
embargo is lifted, Western agencies reported on 8 February, citing Iraqi
sources. The deal covers all aspects of oil exploration and production,
and include provisions for Iraq to pay off its estimated $7 billion debt
to Russia with oil deliveries. It will not be fully implemented,
however, until Iraq complies with the disarmament provisions set by the
UN Security Council and the sanctions imposed after the 1990 invasion of
Kuwait are lifted. Russia has long pressed for the speedy lifting of the
sanctions, as has France. Both countries had extensive trade ties with
Iraq prior to 1990. -- Scott Parrish

PAPER: RUSSIA OFFERS MIGs TO GERMANY. Russia has offered Germany 200
MiG-29 jet fighters to offset $2.5 billion worth of debt, NTV reported
on 6 February, quoting Argumenty i fakty. The German Air Force inherited
a squadron of MiG-29s from East Germany following German unification,
and has elected to keep them in service. -- Doug Clarke

AUTHOR LYDIA CHUKOVSKAYA DIES. Lydia Chukovskaya, who chronicled life
during the Stalinist terror in her works The Deserted House and Going
Under, died on 8 February at the age of 88 in Moscow, Russian and
Western agencies reported the same day. A famous defender of dissident
literature, Chukovskaya saved some of her friend Anna Akhmatova's poems
by memorizing them and published an open letter denouncing the 1966 show
trial and imprisonment of the authors Andrei Sinyavskii and Yulii
Daniel. She also befriended Boris Pasternak and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn,
and was herself expelled from the USSR Union of Writers in 1974. --
Laura Belin

ZIL WORKERS STAGE WARNING STRIKE. More than 1,500 workers at the
indebted ZIL truck plant in Moscow held a one-hour warning strike on 8
February to demand the payment of 31 billion rubles ($6.4 million) in
wage arrears and the preservation of their jobs, ITAR-TASS reported.
Some Moscow government officials have suggested that the plant should be
renationalized. According to Izvestiya on 8 February, ZIL's workforce
has fallen from 75,000 to 23,000, while output was only a quarter of
planned levels. By the end of the year, the company's total debt had
risen to 1 trillion rubles ($210 million). Earlier this month general
director Alexander Yefanov was fired and replaced by vice president
Viktor Novikov. -- Penny Morvant

ARMY SHORT OF MONEY TO FEED TROOPS. Following criticism that Russian
soldiers in Chechnya are poorly fed and clothed, Deputy Defense Minister
Col.-Gen. Vladimir Churanov acknowledged that the army is facing
problems but blamed them on a lack of government funding. Churanov, who
is head of the base forces, said that supplies to troops elsewhere have
been cut to try to ensure that troops in Chechnya receive all they need,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 8 February. He noted that the
1995 military food budget was cut from 3.5 trillion rubles to 1.7
trillion, and that in December the ministry received no money whatsover.
Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov said last week that an inspection of
troops in Chechnya showed glaring problems, including malnutrition and
inadequate winter clothing. -- Penny Morvant

IMF APPROVES RELEASE OF LOAN . . . The International Monetary Fund said
on 8 February that it had approved the release of a $1.05 billion loan
to Russia, the final tranche of a $6.3 billion dollar stand-by facility
signed with Moscow in April 1995, AFP reported the next day. An IMF
spokesman said the IMF board "expressed its satisfaction with Russia's
track record in 1995 of full implementation of (an) economic
stabilization and reform program." IMF head Michel Camdessus is expected
to visit Moscow on 21 February to sign a three-year, $9 billion loan
agreement. -- Peter Rutland

. . . QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER OIL LIBERALIZATION. Reuters reported on 9
February that the IMF is insisting that Russia lift all oil export
duties as a precondition for the new $9 billion loan. Most such duties
were lifted from 1 January this year, but some categories (such as fuel
oil) were exempted. Also unclear is the rate at which oil and gas
companies will be allowed to raise their domestic prices, which were
frozen in the last quarter of 1995. The government is discussing plans
to index energy prices to the general level of inflation. Meanwhile, on
8 February the five largest Russian oil companies called a press
conference to denounce a recent government instruction ordering them to
revalue oil company assets (currently valued in 1992 prices). They claim
this will lead to price increases of up to 80%. Revaluation would make
it more difficult for these companies to buy up their own assets. --
Peter Rutland

RUSSIAN-U.S. TECHNOLOGY DEALS. On 8 February representatives of the
Russian rocket manufacturer, Energiya, Gazprom, and U.S. space companies
including Loral signed an agreement to produce a new generation of
telecommunications satellites. The deal was finalized in the meeting of
the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission on 29-30 January. Gazprom will provide
some of the financing for the project, which may be worth up to $1
billion over 20 years. The group plans to start with the launch of two
Yamal satellites in 1997, using Molniya booster rockets. However,
another Gore-Chernomyrdin deal drew criticism yesterday. ITAR-TASS
reported that the managers of the Perm Motors plant protested the plan
to purchase engines for the IL96 aircraft from the U.S. firm Pratt and
Whitney, rather than ordering the latest engines from Perm. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

BODY OF RUSSIAN REPORTER FOUND IN TASHKENT. Sergei Grebenyuk, a reporter
for Interfax, was found dead on 8 February in the Uzbek capital of
Tashkent, western agencies report. Police said he was last seen leaving
his brother's house on the night of 27 January. The body was recovered
from the nearby Karasu canal. The cause of death for Grebenyuk, who had
been working in Uzbekistan since 1992, is under investigation. -- Roger
Kangas

NEW PRIME MINISTER IN TAJIKISTAN. Tajik Prime Minister Jamshed Karimov
was dismissed and replaced by Yakhiye Azimov, Reuters and AFP reported
on 7 February. Karimov is the latest official to be dismissed after the
Tajik government announced on 4 February that three other members of the
government had left their posts (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 February
1996). The changes are being made in response to demands by armed
opposition groups in the cities of Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube. The
groups captured those cities and came within 20 kms of the capital,
Dushanbe, at the end of January. Azimov, 48, runs the largest carpet
company in Tajikistan. In other news, the first brigade, which was at
the center of the uprising in Kurgan-Tyube, has made good on its promise
to go to Tavil-Dara and fight the Tajik opposition group there. -- Bruce
Pannier

KYRGYZSTAN SET FOR REFERENDUM ON AKAYEV'S POWERS. A popular referendum
on changes to the Kyrgyz Constitution will take place on 10 February,
Reuters reported. The referendum would change more than half of the
present constitution and provide President Askar Akayev with enhanced
powers. Akayev complained shortly after his 24 December election that he
was little more than a figurehead and compared himself to Queen
Elizabeth. The changes to the constitution would give Akayev the right
to appoint all top officials except prime minister, which would require
parliament's approval. If the parliament rejects three of Akayev's
candidates then he could dissolve the body. -- Bruce Pannier

ASIAN SECURITY FORUM CONCLUDES IN ALMATY. A pan-Asian security forum
proposed by Kazakhstan to serve as an Asian variant of the OSCE
concluded a two-day meeting in Almaty without signing a charter of
common principles, Russian and Western media reported on 9 February.
Representatives from 14 nations, including Russia, China, India, Turkey,
Iran, Azerbaijan, and the five Central Asian states except Turkmenistan
attended. They formally pledged support to a new forum, the Conference
on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), agreeing
to hold higher-level meetings by mid-1997. -- Bhavna Dave

[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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   Center for International Networking Initiatives
   The University of Tennessee System                Phone:  (423) 974-7277
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