Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 30, Part I, 12 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
KYRGYZSTAN VOTES MORE POWER FOR AKAEV. More than 96% of Kyrgyzstan's
2.36 million eligible voters took part in the 10 February referendum on
constitutional changes, international agencies reported. More than 94%
of those voting approved the draft law, proposed by President Askar
Akayev less than two weeks after he was reelected president on 24
December, that concentrates much more power in the hands of the
president. Akayev now appoint all top ministers, except the prime
minister, whose candidacy needs the approval of parliament. According to
Reuters, Akayev is already promising "big government changes." -- Bruce
Pannier
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

STATE DUMA PASSES AMNESTY FOR CHECHEN GUERRILLAS. The Duma passed a
decree on 9 February offering an amnesty to nine Chechen militants who
participated in the January hostage-taking in Kizlyar and Pervomaiskoe
and who are currently in Russian captivity, on condition that the 12
Russian OMON troops held by Dudaev's forces are released, Russian Public
TV (ORT) reported. On 10 February, the supporters of Dudaev who had
demonstrated for six days in Grozny to demand the withdrawal of Russian
troops from Chechnya and the resignation of the pro-Moscow government of
Doku Zavgaev, dispersed peacefully, NTV reported. Up to ten people had
died in shooting during efforts to disperse the demonstrators by Russian
troops. A contingent of Russian troops withdrew on 11 February from
Shatoi Raion following the signing of a peace protocol and an agreement
to exchange prisoners by Russian federal troops commander Lt.-Gen.
Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla Bugaev, and
local officials, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

MORE REDS AND BROWNS BACK ZYUGANOV. Leaders of 17 left-wing opposition
movements, including Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, agreed in Moscow
to back Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) leader Gennadii
Zyuganov for president, NTV reported on 11 February. However, a meeting
of extreme nationalist movements in St. Petersburg failed to produce
unanimity. Groups including Pamyat and the National-Republican Party of
Russia endorsed Zyuganov's candidacy, but Eduard Limonov, the emigre
novelist turned leader of the National-Bolshevik Party, denounced
Zyuganov for not being a true communist. Limonov surprisingly called on
nationalist forces to support President Boris Yeltsin's re-election.
Meanwhile, the KPRF says it has already collected more than 1.4 million
signatures supporting Zyuganov's nomination (only 1 million are needed
to put him on the ballot), according to NTV. However, as the
preparations for the presidential elections continue a VCIOM survey
found almost two-thirds of Russians expect some level of falsification
of the election results, Radio Mayak reported on 9 February. -- Laura
Belin

GAIDAR'S PARTY PROPOSES NEMTSOV FOR PRESIDENT. In an attempt to find a
consensus candidate who might make the second round of the presidential
elections, the Moscow branch of Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic
Choice party proposed nominating Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov
for the presidency, Russian media reported on 11 February. Gaidar
suggested that Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, who has open
presidential ambitions, could be prime minister under a Nemtsov
administration, Russian TV reported. However, Yavlinskii is unlikely to
agree to such a deal, and Nemtsov told NTV that despite Gaidar's
suggestion he has no plans to run for president. -- Laura Belin

CADRE RESHUFFLES. Vladimir Antipov has been appointed deputy head of the
presidential administration and head of the administration for state
service and cadres, Radio Rossii reported on 11 February. Meanwhile,
Oleg Vyugin was appointed deputy minister of finance in charge of
macroeconomic policy and the securities market, Segodnya reported 9
February. The next day, ITAR-TASS reported that President Yeltsin had
fired Deputy Finance Minister Stanislav Korolev for culpability in the
delay of releasing funds to cover wage arrears. -- Peter Rutland

ANOTHER ZHIRINOVSKY PUBLICITY STUNT. In a ceremony where television
crews reportedly outnumbered the guests, Vladimir Zhirinovsky wed his
wife again in a Moscow church, 25 years after they were first married,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 February. Invoking fanfare
reminiscent of the tsarist era, the couple arrived in a horse-drawn
troika and offered free money and candy, plus a glass of Zhirinovsky-
brand vodka, to the crowd of onlookers. The leader of the French
National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was a guest of honor. On 10 February,
Le Pen endorsed Zhirinovsky's candidacy for president and announced
plans to co-found a "European center for right-wing forces" with him
later this spring. -- Laura Belin

KOSTIKOV SUBMITS RESIGNATION. Russian Ambassador to the Vatican
Vyacheslav Kostikov has submitted his resignation, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 10 February. Kostikov, who served as President
Boris Yeltsin's press secretary from May 1992 to December 1994, came
under fire from the Foreign Ministry last week for critical statements
he made about Yeltsin in a 4 February interview with NTV (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 7 February 1996). On 11 February, NTV broadcast a second segment
of the interview, in which Kostikov again described Yeltsin as obsessed
with power and denounced what he termed the excessive influence of
presidential bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov. Nevertheless, Kostikov
closed by arguing that Yeltsin remains the only figure in Russia who can
prevent a "communist revanche." -- Scott Parrish

PRIMAKOV AND CHRISTOPHER HOLD TALKS. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov and his American counterpart Warren Christopher held seven
hours of talks in Helsinki on 9 and 10 February, Russian and Western
agencies reported. At a subsequent press conference, the two diplomats
tried to put the best possible spin on their first meeting, with
Christopher terming it "a very good start" and Primakov calling their
talks "very useful." Primakov admitted, however, that differences,
especially on the possible enlargement of NATO, continue to divide the
two countries, although he pledged that they would be resolved without
"confrontation." Primakov also assured Christopher that Russia will
adhere to UN sanctions against Iraq until it fulfills the conditions
laid out by the UN Security Council, but he rejected U.S. criticism of
Russia's sale of nuclear reactors to Iran, which he denied would help
Tehran obtain nuclear weapons. -- Scott Parrish

TALKS ON ABM TREATY TO CONTINUE. After meeting with Christopher,
Primakov told ITAR-TASS on 10 February that the two diplomats had agreed
to search for a mutually acceptable resolution of the ongoing talks on
the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. The talks seek to outline
technical parameters defining which interceptor systems are "tactical"
and permitted by the treaty, and which are "strategic" and hence banned.
The United States wants to develop new "tactical" ABM systems, but
Russia rejected earlier American proposals for distinguishing between
the two types of systems, which they claimed undermined the logic of the
treaty. Primakov said he agrees with those Duma deputies who argue that
START II should only be ratified if the United States continues to
adhere to the ABM treaty. -- Scott Parrish and Doug Clarke

GRACHEV THREATENS TO COUNTER NATO. Speaking at a 9 February press
conference closing a two-day official visit to Belgrade, Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev said Russia would take "appropriate measures" to
counter enlargement of NATO, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 February. If NATO
accepts new members, Russia "would start to look for partners in Eastern
and Central Europe and in the CIS with a view to setting up a military-
political alliance," Grachev warned. One of the results of Grachev's
visit was the signing of a bilateral military cooperation agreement,
under which Russia will consider supplying Yugoslavia with spare parts
for its Soviet-designed weapons systems, and also consider selling new
weapons to Belgrade, according to NTV. Under the Dayton Accords,
Yugoslavia can purchase "defensive weapons" from 13 March. -- Scott
Parrish and Doug Clarke

GERMANY COMPENSATES FORMER NAZI PRISONERS. Germany has paid compensation
to 7,500 former Nazi concentration camp inmates in Novgorod Oblast,
ITAR-TASS reported on 11 February. The former prisoners received DM 30
($20) for every month they spent in the camps. The payments follow the
recognition three years ago that former inmates have a right to
compensation and the subsequent creation of a Fund for Mutual
Understanding and Reconciliation, financed by Germany, with branches in
12 regions. Prior to the 1992 agreement, Germany had not paid any money
to Nazi victims in Russia. Gennadii Medvedev, the fund's representative
in Novgorod, said that testimony from three to five former inmates is
sufficient to secure compensation. -- Penny Morvant

KULIKOV URGES NATIONALIZATION OF COMMERCIAL BANKS. In an unusual foray
into the economic sphere, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov submitted
proposals to the government on 9 February for raising extra revenue for
the cash-strapped army and Interior Ministry (MVD), ITAR-TASS reported.
Kulikov's suggestions included nationalizing some commercial banks and
raising oil export tariffs. The MVD, overstretched by the military
campaign in Chechnya, had debts of 3.4 trillion rubles ($720 million) at
the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, 63 prison guards on hunger strike
in Kareliya ended their five-day fast on 9 February after receiving
assurances from the Finance Ministry that the 19 billion rubles the
Kareliyan police are owed will soon be paid. -- Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT DEBATES PROTECTIONISM. At its 9 February meeting, the
government discussed measures to protect domestic manufacturers from
foreign competition, Russian TV reported. Economics Minister Yevgenii
Yasin stressed the importance of export promotion, such as lifting
remaining export duties, introducing export credits, and exempting
exports to the CIS from VAT. (Exports to the "far abroad" are already
exempt.) Yasin argued against the idea of import quotas, saying "we have
done all we can" given the rules of the World Trade Organization.
However, newly appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov
suggested introducing more radical measures such as import quotas and
criticized Yasin's draft for failing to address the problems of specific
industrial sectors. Yasin's proposal was sent back for two weeks'
reworking. Imports account for more than half of consumer goods sales,
according to Ekonomika i zhizn no. 5. That paper wryly observed that
"everything with which we are competitive, from the SU-27 fighter bomber
down to our ballet, was created during the 70-year period of communist
rule." -- Peter Rutland

INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT DOWN 5% IN JANUARY. Russia's industrial output
continues to slide, falling 5% in the first month of 1996 in comparison
with January 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 February, citing the State
Statistical Committee. Total output was valued at 97 trillion rubles
($20.5 billion). Production of electrical goods plunged by 60%, while
output of clothes and shoes halved in comparison with January 1995.
Crude oil production was down 3%, natural gas fell 0.3%, and fuel oil
14%. The decline in these sectors is attributable to shrinking demand
and increasing stockpiles of manufactured goods. Output did rise in a
number of sectors: fertilizers by 5% and electrical energy by 1%. --
Natalia Gurushina

FOREIGNERS ENTER STATE SECURITIES MARKET. For the first time on 7
February foreigners were allowed to participate in an auction of state
securities. They bid for bonds worth 120 billion rubles ($25 million),
less than 2% of the 6.5 trillion-ruble issue, Kommersant-daily reported
the next day. The slow start may be due to the fact that the Central
Bank requires foreigners' bids to be mediated by Russian banks
(currently Eurobank), thus reducing yields earned by foreign traders. --
Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

LEADER OF RUSSIAN CENTER IN KAZAKHSTAN FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES. Nina
Sidorova, the leader of the movement Russian Center, is being charged
with contempt of court for filing a civil case against President
Nursultan Nazarbayev for allegedly defaming her and the Russian Center
on state TV, Radio Rossii reported on 10 February. An Almaty court on 9
February refused to examine her case, claiming that the president is
immune to all criminal proceedings. The Justice Ministry has refused to
register Russian Center as a public organization. Just 3 days before
last December's parliamentary elections, the authorities revoked
Sidorova's registration in Almaty as an independent candidate, accusing
her of making anti-constitutional remarks. -- Bhavna Dave

KAZAKHSTAN SIMPLIFIES PASSPORT SYSTEM. Kazakhstan has done away with the
old Soviet-era practice that required citizens to have a mandatory
residential registration stamp (propiska) and to indicate their
nationality on their passports, Russian Public TV reported on 11
February. -- Bhavna Dave

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Penny Morvant

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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