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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 44, Part I, 01 March 1996


From omripub@omri.czFri Mar  1 12:30:51 1996
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 1996 14:16:06 +0100
From: OMRI Publications 
Reply to: Open Media Research Institute Daily Digest 
To: Multiple recipients of list OMRI-L 
Subject: OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 44, 1 Mar 96

OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 44, Part I, 1 March 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
INGUSH VILLAGE BOMBED AGAIN. An unidentified helicopter bombed the
outskirts of the Ingush village Arshty on the Chechen-Ingush border on
29 February, wounding one person, ITAR-TASS reported. According to
Russian TV, the helicopter came from the Chechen settlement of Bamut,
which is controlled by the Chechen rebels. The Russian Defense Ministry
denied that a federal helicopter was ordered to conduct a strike,
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Federal troops bombed the village of
Arshty on 23 February, leaving several civilians killed and wounded (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 26 February 1996). Meanwhile, investigators from the
offices of the procurator-general and military procurator-general have
arrived in Ingushetiya to look into the actions of federal troops in the
republic last week. -- Anna Paretskaya
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN MEETS WITH GAIDAR. In a meeting with President Boris Yeltsin,
Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar said he could only
support Yeltsin if he found a peaceful solution to the Chechen war,
removed "antidemocratic figures" from his government--including Federal
Security Service Director Mikhail Barsukov, Chief of Staff Nikolai
Yegorov, and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev--and limited government
spending so that the "budget does not become a hostage to the campaign,"
NTV reported on 29 February. Gaidar warned Yeltsin that it would be a
"serious mistake" to take the democrats' votes for granted, as Yeltsin's
statements a day earlier implied that he was doing, and said that the
president must take positive steps to gain their backing. -- Robert
Orttung

LOCAL LEADERS DESERTING OUR HOME IS RUSSIA. Regional leaders are
deserting local branches of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our
Home Is Russia "in droves" because of what they they see as the party's
poor prospects, according to Mos-kovskii komsomolets on 29 February. The
paper said that the activists replacing the local elite in the party's
83 branches tend to be more radical than their predecessors and have
come into conflict with the party's Moscow leaders. If such trends
continue, the movement could split before or during its scheduled March
congress. -- Robert Orttung

BATTERED BRIGADE TO RETURN TO CHECHNYA. Units of the 131st Independent
Motorized Infantry Brigade from Maikop, in the Republic of Adygeya, have
been ordered to return to Chechnya, Russian media reported on 28
February. The Maikop brigade participated in the New Year's Eve 1994
attack on the Presidential Palace in Grozny and was said to have
suffered more losses than any other unit in the Chechen war. Adygei
officials recently told Moscow that they feared a terrorist attack from
Chechen separatists. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev earlier warned
that his troops might launch such attacks in the Adygei capital if the
brigade was sent back to Chechnya. Reportedly, it will guard the border
between Chechnya and Ingushetiya. -- Doug Clarke

RUSSIA, IRAN, CHINA, AND INDIA TO JOINTLY DEVELOP NEW REACTOR. Academic
Yevgenii Velikhov, head of the Kurchatov Institute, announced on 29
February that Russia, Iran, China, and India have formed a new
multilateral Asian Fund for Thermonuclear Research (AFTI), Russian and
Western agencies reported. Velikhov said atomic scientists from the four
member countries would collaborate in the construction of a new
experimental thermonuclear reactor, to be completed by 1998. He said
that the new reactor would provide safe electric power and that research
into its design would have an exclusively civilian application. A site
for the construction of the experimental reactor has yet to be chosen,
he added. If the project moves forward, it may provoke objections from
the U.S., which is wary of Iran's nuclear ambitions as well as, to a
lesser extent, those of India. -- Scott Parrish

ATTACK ON ETHNIC GERMAN IMMIGRANTS IN RHINELAND-PFALZ. Two ethnic German
immigrants from Russia received serious injuries when a gang of youths,
shouting fascist slogans, attacked an immigrant dormitory in the western
German city of Pirmasens, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 February. The gang
smashed windows and doors in the dormitory, shot at residents with air-
pistols, and beat several residents with spiked clubs. The attackers
escaped before police arrived. A few days earlier, German Foreign
Minister Klaus Kinkel said ethnic German immigrants are still welcome in
Germany, in response to calls from opposition Social Democratic leader
Oskar Lafontaine to further restrict immigration (see OMRI Daily Digest,
27 February 1996). Under article 116 of the German constitution, ethnic
Germans are eligible for citizenship, regardless of their place of
birth. -- Scott Parrish

U.S. BOOSTS NUCLEAR SECURITY AID TO FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. U.S. Deputy
Secretary of Energy Charles B. Curtis announced on 29 February that the
U.S. will spend $330 million over the next six years to upgrade security
at nuclear facilities in seven former Soviet republics, Russian and
Western agencies reported. The aid will finance the installation of
sophisticated monitoring and surveillance equipment at 40-50 sites in
Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan
where fissionable materials are stored. Some sites have already received
security upgrades, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 October 1995), but Curtis
said that at up to two-thirds of them security measures consist solely
of "guards, guns, and gates," prompting worries about the theft of
fissionable materials. U.S. aid for such security upgrades increased
from $2 million in 1994 to $70 million in 1995 and is expected to reach
$100 million in 1996. -- Scott Parrish

U.S. CHARGES FOUR WITH DEFRAUDING RUSSIAN COMPANIES. The U.S. has
charged four men, including two Russian nationals living in New York,
with conspiracy to cheat 24 Russian companies out of $10.8 million,
Western agencies reported on 1 March. The four promised to deliver a
variety of U.S.-made computer products and consumer goods at discount
prices to Russian organizations, including a charity for Chornobyl
victims. The accused allegedly demanded full payment before delivery,
although they had no such goods to offer. The FBI said the arrests
followed a two-and-a-half year investigation aided by the Russian
Interior Ministry. FBI Director Louis Freeh described the probe as a
"prime example of the new cooperation" between U.S. and Russian law
enforcement agencies. -- Penny Morvant

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA ON YELTSIN'S CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN. Commenting on the
bribery charges brought against former Duma Deputy Sergei Stankevich,
Kom-somolskaya pravda argued on 29 February that the current anti-
corruption campaign is nothing more than a pre-election ploy. The paper
noted that former officials predominate among those accused and quoted
former Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov as comparing the current campaign to
the one conducted by former Soviet leader Yurii Andropov, in which a lot
of petty criminals were imprisoned while the most notorious offenders
went unpunished. Popov argued that Stankevich and former Roskom-dragmet
Chairman Yevgenii Bychkov, who has been accused of embezzlement, are
being used as a "smoke screen" while the most corrupt officials are
beyond the reach of the law. -- Penny Morvant

CIS BORDER SERVICES MEETING IN BREST. Representatives of the various CIS
Federal Border Services met in Brest, Belarus, on 29 February, to
discuss cooperative efforts in border control, Russian media reported.
All 12 states were represented, which is rare for CIS meetings, although
the service directors from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan did
not personally attend. They signed nine agreements, including an accord
on information exchanges and a decision of Tajikistan to set up its own
border units, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian Federal Border Service
director, General Andrei Nikolaev, said the meeting was conducted in an
atmosphere of "trust and cooperation." Other representatives said there
is no alternative to closer integration among the CIS states. The next
meeting will take place in Erevan in the first half of May. -- Roger
Kangas

SOSKOVETS REPORTS HIGHER ARMS EARNINGS. Russia had exported arms and
military services worth $3 billion in 1995, First Deputy Prime Minister
Oleg Soskovets said on 29 February. The figure represents an 80%
increase over the previous year, Reuters reported. Earlier in the year,
Russian officials had predicted arms sales of $2.7 billion for 1995.
Soskovets said the exports went to 51 countries, most of which were
former Warsaw Pact allies and developing countries. He also said that
Russian weapons makers sold 60% more abroad than they did to the Russian
armed forces. In a related story, the Turkish ambassador to Russia on 28
February said Turkey plans to increase its purchases of Russian arms. He
said that Turkey--the first NATO member to buy arms from Russia--buys
around $200 million worth of Russian arms annually. -- Doug Clarke

YELTSIN CRITICIZES MILITARY REFORM. President Yeltsin blasted the slow
pace of military reform in Russia at a 29 February government meeting,
ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin said that military reform made practically
no headway in 1995 and said that he would press for the creation of a
"combat-ready professional army." Yeltsin added that the implementation
of reform is complicated by the crisis in the Russian military-
industrial complex. He also said he plans to reform the military by the
end of 1996. This is the second time within a month that Yeltsin has
publicly criticized the pace of military reform (see OMRI Daily Digest,
15 February 1996). -- Constantine Dmitriev

MILITARY WANTS TO GROW MORE FOOD. The Defense Ministry has decided to
establish 20 more of its own farms in 1996 to supply the Russian armed
forces with food, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 29 February. According to
ministry spokesman Fedor Druzhinin, the new farms will provide "food
security" for the military. Druzhinin added that the ministry wants to
avoid a repetition of the August 1995 crisis, when the military ran out
of funds to purchase food. Reports of undernourished soldiers frequently
appear in the Russian media. -- Constantine Dmitriev

TELEMARATHON AGAINST VIOLENCE. A telemarathon entitled "Musical Barrier
to Terrorism and Violence" got under way in Moscow on 1 March, ITAR-TASS
reported. About 50 Russian artists are taking part in the event, which
will be broadcast by all the major Russian television stations. The
first song, "Russia, Arise," with words by Andrei Voznesenskii, was
dedicated to the memory of journalists who died as a result of terrorist
attacks. -- Penny Morvant

UTILITY PRICES TO RISE. Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin explained that
utility prices, frozen since last October, are to be increased, Segodnya
reported on 29 February. Despite this, Yasin said overall consumer price
inflation in February should not exceed 3.2%, the lowest rate since
1991, Delovoi ekspress reported on 29 February. Electricity prices will
go up 16% with effect from 1 February, the first rise since August 1995.
As of 31 March, the prices of electricity, gas, and rail tariffs will be
allowed to rise at the rate of 80% of the index of general industrial
prices. On 25 February, rail tariffs went up by 20%, causing complaints,
particularly in the Far East. Chita railways cut off all deliveries to
army bases because of chronic nonpayment of rail fees, ITAR-TASS
reported on 29 February. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

OSCE CONFERENCE ON ETHNIC RELATIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN. Economic hardships
and anxieties over whether their children will enjoy equal access to
university education and employment has led to an exodus of ethnic
Russians and Germans from Kazakhstan, Max Van der Stool, the OSCE high
commissioner on national minorities, said at an OSCE-sponsored
conference on ethnic relations in Almaty on 29 February. He said this is
happening despite Kazakhstan's long tradition of inter-ethnic harmony
and efforts by the government to ensure ethnic stability, Russian media
reported. Only legal assurances that no single ethnic group has a
privileged position with respect to others can check the emigration of
other minorities, he argued. -- Bhavna Dave

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONCLUDES VISIT TO TAJIKI-STAN. Iranian Foreign
Minister Ali Akbar Velayati announced a compromise proposal aimed at
reinvigorating peace negotiations between the Tajik government and the
opposition at the end of his two-day visit to Tajikistan on 29 February,
Russian and Western press reported the same day. Velayati suggested that
instead of sending leading officials from the opposition to an 11 March
session of the Tajik parliament, a lower level delegation should attend.
There was no immediate reaction from the opposition. Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov agreed to Velayati's proposal that the two sides
exchange prisoners as a gesture of good will. He added, "We welcome any
effort by Iran for the establishment of peace in our country and the
region," Tehran IRIB television reported. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It is published
Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute.  The OMRI
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              Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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