Человек - создание по меньшей мере недальновидное, особенно когда сам берется утверждать, что счастлив, или полагает, что может жить своим умом. - Даниель Дефо

No. 35, Part I, 19 February 1996

** New OMRI Analytical Brief:  "North Korea Blasts ITAR-TASS for
Coverage of Embassy Incident", by Scott Parrish.  Available only on
OMRI's WWW site at

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
attended by 200 of the station's 3,000 employees, the staff of Russian
TV rejected Yeltsin's criticisms of its work and asked him for a meeting
to explain the decision to fire Russian TV Chairman Oleg Poptsov,
requesting that the newly-appointed chairman, Eduard Sagalaev, not
accept his position until the reasons for Poptsov's firing had been made
clear, ITAR-TASS reported. Sagalaev, however, said that he would take
the job because he could not "let the president down at this difficult
time." Although Sagalaev had given initial approval to his nomination,
he found out about it from an evening news broadcast and was not able to
meet with Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Deputy Prime
Minister Vitalii Ignatenko (who handles the media) beforehand. Poptsov
himself is not inclined to fight his dismissal and is planning to rest.
-- Robert Orttung


Magnitogorsk factory director Vladimir Krivoshchapov complain about the
media's coverage of the economy and his factory in a meeting on 16
February in Chelyabinsk, Yeltsin ordered Sagalaev to send a crew to
Krivoshchapov's factory to do an upbeat report. Yeltsin characterized
Sagalaev as "reliable, orderly, and famous." Ekho Moskvy reported rumors
that the head of all news programs at Russian Public TV (ORT), Arkadii
Evstafev, was about to be replaced in Yeltsin's continuing media
shakeup. -- Robert Orttung

FILATOV CRITICIZES YELTSIN. Former presidential chief of staff Sergei
Filatov has prepared a letter to President Boris Yeltsin expressing
concern over his recent practice of letting top government figures find
out that they have been fired from the media rather than calling them
directly, ITAR-TASS and Russian TV reported 18 February. He specifically
referred to Yeltsin's handling of the recent dismissals of Russian TV
Chairman Oleg Poptsov and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais.
Filatov, who now heads a committee supporting Yeltsin's candidacy for a
second term, warned that "thoughtless" relations with his personnel
could cost the president the support of those who have worked with him
for many years. -- Robert Orttung

Petr Marchenko has ruled that starting 17 February, directors of
enterprises which are financed from the regional budget, will be
immediately fired in cases of groundless delays of wage payments to
employees, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the governor's order,
officials from the region's executive bodies who are responsible for the
actual distribution of budget resources will be also fired in case of
payments arrears. Meanwhile, Primorsk Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko
issued a decree saying that the payment of wages to officials of the
Krai's administration will be suspended unless local public employees
receive their long-overdue wages, Russian TV reported on 18 February.
This decree was a reaction to the lengthy strikes by miners and energy
industry workers throughout the region. -- Anna Paretskaya

JUPPE IN KAZAN. French Prime Minister Alain Juppe completed his three-
day visit to Russia on 16 February with a stop in Tartarstan, where he
signed two economics deals worth 250 million francs ($50 million),
Russian and Western agencies reported. One deal provides for the French
firm SucDen to improve the sugar beet industry in Tatarstan, while the
second calls for Thompson, a French electronics company, to upgrade the
air control system at the Kazan airport. Following a meeting with
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, Juppe hailed cooperation between
Tatarstan and the French oil company Total, which has already invested
$10 million in the republic. He also announced plans for French firms to
upgrade the Tartar phone system and said a joint venture to produce
heavy civilian helicopters in the republic would be launched soon. --
Scott Parrish

passed a resolution on 16 February condemning the recent extradition of
Bosnian Serb General Djorje Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic to the
custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
in the Hague, Russian agencies reported. The resolution argued that
NATO's "encouragement" of the Bosnian government's "illegal" detention
of the officers showed "a dangerous recurrence of double standards" in
the Western approach to settling the conflict, and called for the
officers' immediate release, demanding "objective" investigation and
punishment of war criminals from all the warring parties in former
Yugoslavia. Afterwards, Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman
Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko) threatened that if UN sanctions against the
Bosnian Serbs are not suspended soon, the Duma will pass a law calling
for Russia to unilaterally withdraw. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 13 and 16
February) -- Scott Parrish

NORTH KOREA BLASTS ITAR-TASS. ITAR-TASS reported that Ivan Zakharchenko,
its Pyongyang correspondent, was summoned to the North Korean Foreign
Ministry on 16 February and criticized for his reporting of the recent
incident involving a Korean gunman at the Russian Embassy there. (See
OMRI Daily Digest, 14 & 15 February 1996). North Korean officials
accused Zakharchenko of "slander" for reporting that Cho Men-kil, the
gunman who forced his way into the Russian embassy, had requested
political asylum. They asserted, contrary to earlier reports, that Men-
kil had survived the incident, confessed to being "mentally ill," and
had never asked for asylum. On the same day, a North Korean diplomat
lodged similar complaints at ITAR-TASS headquarters in Moscow. The
agency stuck to its guns, reporting that Russian diplomats who talked
with Men-kil during the incident described him as "lucid" and confirmed
that he had requested asylum. -- Scott Parrish

IRAN PROTESTS YELTSIN REMARKS. Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Safari
on 16 February officially protested to the Russian Foreign Ministry
against recent public accusations by President Yeltsin that training
camps for Chechen fighters operate in Iran, Western agencies reported,
citing Iranian sources. Yeltsin first made the accusations when he
announced his presidential candidacy in Yekaterinburg on 15 February,
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 February 1995), and then repeated them during
a 16 February speech in Chelyabinsk. While Iran has expressed sympathy
for the Chechen separatists, it has strongly denied any involvement in
the conflict, calling it an internal Russian affair. -- Scott Parrish

Nuclear Energy Viktor Mikhailov in a 16 February interview with the
Washington Post have prompted criticism from the United States, Russian
and Western media reported. According to the newspaper, an apparently
intoxicated Mikhailov declared that Russia would preemptively attack any
tactical nuclear weapons deployed in former Warsaw Pact countries that
hope to join NATO. U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns
condemned Mikhailov's comments as "highly irresponsible," and expressed
the hope that Russian leaders "will never support this kind of
statement." Polish and Czech leaders provoked harsh criticism from
Moscow last fall when they announced their countries' willingness to
accept nuclear deployments if accepted into NATO. (See OMRI Daily Digest
10 & 19 October 1995). -- Scott Parrish

UNEMPLOYMENT CONTINUES TO GROW. The number of unemployed calculated
using International Labor Organization methodology reached 6.14 million,
or 8.4% of the work force, in January, up from 8.2% in December 1995,
Radio Mayak reported on 17 February. According to the State Statistics
Committee, another 4.5 million (about 6%) were working a short week or
on compulsory unpaid, or only partially paid, leave in early January.
The number of people officially registered as unemployed with the
Federal Employment Service at the end of month equalled 2.4 million
(3.3%). -- Penny Morvant

PENSIONS LAG BEHIND PRICES. While prices rose by more than 700% in 1994-
95, average pensions grew by 450% and the minimum pension by just 320%,
Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 17 February citing a Social Security
Ministry report. The percentage of pensioners living below the poverty
line increased from 11.8% in 1959 to 18.5% in 1989 to 20.2% in 1995;
according to AFP, the poverty line in January was 345,000 rubles ($72) a
month. The average salary in January was 655,000 rubles ($137), up about
6% in real terms in comparison with a year earlier. President Yeltsin
issued a decree in late January raising compensation payments for
pensioners, but the government has opposed a Duma initiative to hike the
minimum pension by 20%. -- Penny Morvant

ROOTS OF THE COALMINE CONFLICT. On 3 February the coalminers suspended
their strike having won a pledge of 10.4 trillion rubles ($2.2 billion)
from the Russian government. However, an article in Ogonek no. 7
suggests that pouring cash into the industry will not ensure that the
miners' wages will be paid. The newspaper argues that mine directors
have created commercial companies to trade in coal, siphoning off the
industry's profits. Such companies are responsible for up to 1 trillion
of the 4 trillion ruble arrears customers owe the industry. Managers who
challenge the "coal barons" risk the fate of the deputy director of
Leninskugol, who was assassinated in December 1995, as was the director
of the Belovskii plant in January. -- Peter Rutland

Chernomyrdin has signed a decree lifting the price freeze which was
imposed on energy producers (including electricity, natural gas and
crude oil) in the last quarter of 1995, Radio Rossii reported on 15
February. Under the decree, producers will be allowed to increase prices
according to indices set for each sector and derived from the general
level of inflation. The decree also lowers the natural gas export duty
from 5 ecu to 1 ecu per 1,000 cubic meters starting 1 April. -- Natalia

that had to suspend production at least once a month increased from
4,800 in 1994 to 5,700 in 1995, Russian agencies reported on 17
February. As a result, companies lost about 15% of their normal working
hours, or 225 million man-days. The main reasons for the production
stoppages were a lack of funds to purchase supplies (47% of cases) and
the customers' inability to pay for delivered goods (41% of cases). --
Natalia Gurushina

seventh session of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly met in St.
Petersburg on 17 February outlined plans for greater cooperative efforts
between the member states, ITAR-TASS reported. According to recently-
elected Assembly chairman, Yegor Stroev, the organization should focus
on enhancing political, economic, and humanitarian aid ties between the
states. Issues raised at the meeting ranged from financial and economic
agreements and joint stock companies to the defense industry. Both
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and State Duma Chairman Gennadii
Seleznev stressed the need for the Assembly to become a viable forum for
inter-CIS relations, with the latter noting that the newly-elected Duma
will likely consider the coordination of legal codes among member states
to be of utmost importance. -- Roger Kangas


LITTLE PROGRESS AS TAJIK TALKS CONCLUDE. The fifth round of negotiations
between the Tajik government and the opposition adjourned 16 February
without extending the cease fire agreement, due to expire on 26
February, Russian and Western sources reported. Although the two sides
have have agreed on extensions in the past, he government's proposal for
a six month prolongation was rejected by the opposition, which desired
only three months. However, a proposal to invite members from the
opposition to a special session of the Tajik parliament in about three
weeks. -- Bruce Pannier

'DEAL OF THE CENTURY" UPDATE On 16 February, several agreements
concerning the exploitation and transportation of Caspian Sea oil were
signed. In them, the government of Azerbaijan transferred the power to
deliver Azeri oil to its borders with Russia to the Azerbaijan
International Oil Corportation (AIOC), Turan reported. The same day,
Azerbaijan's state oil company, SOCAR, the AIOC and Russia's Transneft
formally agreed on the terms of transporting 5 million tons of "early
oil " annually, the agency noted. Russia agreed to provide security for
the pipeline running across its territory to the port of Novorossiisk at
a cost of $15.67 per ton. On 27 February, a final decision on the
feasibility and financing of the Baku-Supsa "early oil" pipeline is
expected. -- Lowell Bezanis

.....AND SHAH-DENIZ FIELD The presidents of SOCAR and LUkoil signed a
memorandum of understanding concerning LUkoil's participation in the
Shah-Deniz Caspian Sea natural gas and oil deal, Turan reported.
Although details of the deal have not been released, LUkoil is expected
to receive between 20 and 30 percent of SOCAR's 40% stake in the
project, according to Western media sources. The other 60% stake in the
deal is held by British Petroleum, Statoil and Turkey's TPAO. The field
in question is believed to contain 400 billion cubic meters of gas and
some 200 million tons of gas condensate and oil. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Roger Kangas

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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