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

No. 42, Part I, 28 February 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Turkey's War of Words with Syria and Iraq over Water", by
   Lowell Bezanis

Available only via the World Wide Web:
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
BELARUS AND RUSSIA SIGN ECONOMIC ACCORDS. Visiting Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, signed
an agreement renouncing all mutual debts, including Belarus's unpaid
energy bills and its claims to compensation for nuclear weapons
transferred to Russia, international media reported on 27 February.
Yeltsin strongly endorsed closer integration with Belarus but denied
that it would recreate the Soviet Union, which he accused the communists
of "dreaming about." -- Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

STATE-CONTROLLED MEDIA LACK FUNDS TO PAY TRANSMITTERS. State-controlled
television and radio stations owe transmitters 521 billion rubles ($109
million) for 1995 and an additional 93 billion rubles ($19 million) for
January 1996, Anatolii Nazeikin, the chairman of the Communication
Workers' Trade Union central committee announced on 27 February, ITAR-
TASS reported. For 1995, Russian Public TV (ORT) owes 77 billion rubles
($16 million) and Russian TV owes 27 billion rubles ($6 million). Many
of the transmitting stations are in danger of shutting down because
their employees have not been paid and they lack the necessary spare
parts. ORT General Director Sergei Blagovolin complained that the
president has issued decrees authorizing payment, but they have not been
carried out, Russian TV reported. In addition, there is no money for ORT
in the 1996 budget, even though it is 51% state owned. -- Robert Orttung

STATE MEDIA LEADERS UNHAPPY WITH RULES FOR CAMPAIGN COVERAGE. State-
controlled media leaders want the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to
specify who will compensate them for giving free air time to
presidential candidates since the stations have yet to receive payment
from the government for air time given to Duma candidates in last
December's election. The issue was not covered in the new draft
instructions on the role of the media in the presidential campaign
recently prepared by the TsIK, NTV reported on 28 February. The media
leaders complain that the law does not require candidates to participate
in debates rather than presenting pre-packaged clips or monologues in
their free air time. ORT General Director Blagovolin questioned how the
candidates, including Yeltsin, would meet the requirement not to use
their current position to gain advantage over other candidates. --
Robert Orttung

INGUSHETIYA TO SUE OVER TROOP INCURSION. Ingush President Ruslan Aushev
told ITAR-TASS on 27 February that he plans to sue the Defense Ministry
for the damage and loss of life caused by the 58th Army in his republic
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 February 1996). He said that the operation
"did not raise the authority of the Russian president as the commander-
in-chief, especially on the eve of the presidential elections." The
troops were pulled out on 26 February. -- Robert Orttung

PUBLISHER ISSUES BOOK ON NORTH KOREAN LEADER. At a 27 February Moscow
ceremony, the Paleya publishing house unveiled a book on North Korean
leader Kim Jong Il, the first in a planned 80-volume series on 20th
century world leaders, ITAR-TASS reported. The series will include
volumes on Kim's father, Kim Il Sung, Chinese leader Deng Xiao-ping,
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Indonesian President Suharto. Not
intended for a broad readership, the series will be distributed directly
to world political leaders in order to "demonstrate the diversity of
contemporary society." Among those present at the ceremony was former
Soviet Defense Minister and 1991 coup plotter Dmitrii Yazov, who said
Kim had suggested the series to him during a visit to North Korea last
year. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov chairs the series'
editorial board. -- Scott Parrish

DEPUTY PRAISES INTEGRATION WITH BELARUS. Duma Deputy Nikolai Gonchar
told ITAR-TASS on 28 January that he regarded the debt renunciation deal
signed with Belarus as "extremely favorable for Russia." Gonchar
emphasized the "economic and geopolitical" importance of Belarus as a
market for Russian industrial products. He also praised Yeltsin and
Lukashenka's intention to construct a new highway linking Russia with
its Kaliningrad enclave via Belarus and Poland. Gonchar added that the
new agreements could foster the creation of a new union of the two
states "without the words Soviet or Socialist," which might encourage
Russia's southern and southeastern neighbors to accelerate their
economic integration with Russia. -- Scott Parrish

FRANCE PAYS $16 MILLION FOR SPACE FLIGHT. The French National Space
Agency agreed to pay $16.4 million to send one of its astronauts for a
two-week flight on the "Mir" orbital space station in July 1996, ITAR-
TASS reported on 26 February. The cost will be split between the Russian
Space Corporation Energiya and the Cosmonauts' Training Center in
Zvezdnyi gorodok near Moscow. Russia also has signed an agreement with
Australia to use "Start" booster rockets for launching Australian
communications and ecological monitoring satellites beginning in fall
1998. Satellites will be launched from the Woomera space center in
Australia. -- Natalia Gurushina

SEMENOV CRITICIZES NATO EXERCISES IN NORWAY. Current NATO naval and
ground exercises in northern Norway "jeopardize Russia's security,"
according to Col. Gen. Vladimir Semenov, the commander-in-chief of
Russia's Ground Forces. ITAR-TASS on 26 February quoted Semenov has
saying that Russian troops in the region had been put on alert and
instructed to keep a close watch on the situation. He expressed
puzzlement at the type and location of the exercises and claimed that
they reflected "continued Cold War thinking" on the part of Western
military leaders. -- Doug Clarke

NEW JOB FOR PACIFIC FLEET COMMANDER. Admiral Igor Khmel-nyov, the
commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, has been appointed chief of the
Main Staff of the navy, Reuters reported on 27 February, quoting a
statement from the fleet's press office. His successor was reported to
be Vice-Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, who had been chief of staff in the
Baltic Fleet. Khmelnev will replace Admiral Valentin Selivanov on the
navy staff. -- Doug Clarke

FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE AND INTERIOR MINISTRY HOLD CLOSED MEETING. The
leadership of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Interior Ministry
held a joint closed meeting on 27 February, Russian media reported. FSB
Director Mikhail Barsukov, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov,
Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov, and Presidential National Security
Adviser Yurii Baturin attended the meeting. Both Barsukov and Kulikov
admitted that terrorism and organized crime are destabilizing reforms in
Russia and may threaten the forthcoming presidential election. They
pledged to strengthen interdepartmental cooperation in combating
terrorism and organized crime. A similar joint meeting took place in
1992. -- Constantine Dmitriev

WARRANT ISSUED FOR  ARREST OF SERGEI STANKEVICH. Sergei Stankevich, a
former Duma deputy, presidential adviser, and deputy chairman of the
Moscow City Duma, is the latest prominent public figure to face
corruption charges in a campaign that has already seen the institution
of criminal proceedings against former acting Procurator-General Aleksei
Ilyushenko and former Roskom-dragmet Chairman Yevgenii Bychkov.
According to Ekho Moskvy, on 26 February the Moscow Procurator's Office
issued a warrant for the arrest of Stankevich, who is suspected of
accepting a $10,000 bribe during preparations for a gala concert on Red
Square in the summer of 1991. Ilyu-shenko asked the Duma to lift
Stankevich's immunity in April 1995, but that request was turned down.
Stankevich did not run in the December parliamentary elections, and his
current whereabouts are unknown. Stankevich was a leading figure in the
democratic movement in the late Gorbachev era, and with his fluent
English was often seen on Western TV screens. -- Penny Morvant

JOURNALIST, BUSINESSMEN MURDERED. A Russian photographer, Feliks
Solovev, who occasionally freelanced for the German newspaper Bild, was
shot dead in Moscow on 26 February, Russian and Western agencies
reported the following day. The motive for the killing is unclear. Also
on 26 February, three people, including a British businessman, were
killed when gunmen burst into the prestigious Nevskii Palace Hotel in
St. Petersburg, Reuters reported. The gunmen opened fire on a group
sitting at a table in the hotel's Vienna Cafe, killing two off-duty
policemen who were working as bodyguards for a Russian businessman. The
Briton, John Hyden, was apparently hit by a stray bullet. -- Penny
Morvant

DEBATE CONTINUES OVER OIL EXPORT DUTY. First Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Kadannikov now says that the oil export duty will be reduced
from 20 to 14 ECU per metric ton on 1 April, not to 10 ECU, as earlier
reported. Also, he told ITAR-TASS on 27 February that from 1 July the
oil export duty will be replaced by only a 3 ECU rise in excise tax, so
as to protect domestic oil consumers. Instead, revenue will be raised
from a new 17 ECU tax on pipelines, presumably on export pipelines. It
appears that the government is looking for a way to formally comply with
the IMF condition that export duties be lifted. However, Kadannikov did
confirm that the 5 ECU export duty on natural gas will be removed
beginning on 15 March. -- Peter Rutland

U.S. COMPUTER MAKER HALTS RUSSIAN PRODUCTION. IBM has decided to stop
assembling its own PCs at the Kvant enterprise in Zelenograd, near
Moscow, AFP reported on 27 February. The joint venture at the former
defense plant began in 1993, and was producing 40,000 units a month. The
Moscow authorities granted the plant an exemption from taxes on imported
components, but in 1994 in response to a Duma law barring such waivers
they reimposed the taxes, adding 8.5% to the final cost. IBM was unable
to compete with imports of finished PCs by Russian trading companies
which continued to enjoy tax exemptions. In 1995, Russians bought
roughly 1 million PCs. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

OPPOSITION INVITED TO ADDRESS TAJIK PARLIAMENT. The Tajik government has
offered the opposition an opportunity to speak at a session of the Tajik
parliament on 11 March, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 27 February.
However, a spokesman for the opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, said the
oppo-sition's participation hinged on the release of Zafar Rakhmonov,
the opposition's representative to a joint commission monitoring the
ceasefire and supported by the UN. Rakhmonov was taken by four men in
the capital Dushanbe on 24 February and his whereabouts since remain
unknown. Speaking from Tehran, Turajonzoda said "nobody would dare go to
Dushanbe, even if they were told to do so. There is no guarantee of
personal safety," Reuters reported. -- Bruce Pannier

COSSACK LEADER ACCUSES KAZAKHSTAN OF BEING A "FASCIST" STATE. At a press
conference in at the headquarters of the extreme nationalist movement
Pamyat in Moscow on 27 February, the Semi-rechie Cossack leader, Nikolai
Gunkin, accused Kazakhstan of being a "fascist" state which endorses a
"genocide of Russians," Russian TV reported. Gunkin was released on 27
January after serving a 3-month sentence in an Almaty prison for
allegedly holding unauthorized public rallies. Gunkin told an Express-
Khronika correspondent that he expects the new Russian State Duma to put
more pressure on Kazakhstan over human rights issues. He claimed that if
Russians continue to migrate and if Russia abandons Kazakhstan, the
country will be "annexed" by China. -- Bhavna Dave

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TASHKENT. Kicking off a tour of Central Asia
and the Transcaucasus, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati
traveled to Uzbekistan on 28 February, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Velayati is to leave for Dushanbe this evening to meet with
Tajik President Imomali Rakh-monov and discuss possible resolutions to
the ongoing conflict in that country. Velayati will also visit
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turk-menistan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in an
effort to assert Iran's role in the region. -- Roger Kangas

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/HEL-SINKI CRITICAL OF KARIMOV. In a letter to Uzbek
Prime Minister Islam Karimov dated 22 February, the Human Rights
Watch/Helsinki organization expressed its "extreme disappointment and
distress" at his assessment of a series of meetings held in December
1995. The letter, obtained by OMRI, complains that in an interview given
to Pravda vostoka on 30 December 1995, Karimov misinterpreted the
organization's findings on human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. The report
also noted that Karimov's office inexplicably declined to meet with them
during the trip, showing a "disturbing disdain for human rights
concerns." Human Rights Watch/Helsinki said an accurate depiction of
their findings will be made available shortly. -- Roger Kangas


[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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