Part of the sercret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 46, Part I, 05 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
ZYUGANOV BECOMES FIRST REGISTERED CANDIDATE . . . The Central Electoral
Commission has registered Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii
Zyuganov as the first candidate for the 16 June presidential elections,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 March. Zyuganov may now
officially begin campaigning and may collect money from the electoral
commission, which will be allocated to all registered candidates. Along
with a list of 1.7 million signatures supporting his candidacy, Zyuganov
submitted tax returns for the last two years to the commission,
declaring his total pre-tax income for 1995 at about 30 million rubles
($6,300), Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

. . . BUT MAY LOSE HARDLINE COMMUNIST SUPPORT. Representatives of 25
left-wing groups, including Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin and
Power to the People head Nikolai Ryzhkov, formed an electoral "bloc of
popular patriotic forces" and signed an agreement supporting Zyuganov as
their sole presidential candidate, Russian and Western agencies reported
on 4 March. However, according to RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS, some hardliners
including Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, the Russian Communist
Workers' Party, and Sergei Baburin's Russian Public Union refused to
sign the document because it does not call for a restoration of the
Soviet Union. Zyuganov said he still hopes to cooperate with politicians
such as Aleksandr Rutskoi, Aleksandr Lebed, Svyatoslav Fedorov, and
Stanislav Govorukhin, all of whom agreed last week to form a "third
force" supporting neither Yeltsin nor Zyuganov for president. -- Laura
Belin

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN SERNOVODSK. Federal forces used artillery and
helicopter gunships on 4 March to attack what they claimed was a force
of 500 separatist fighters in the western Chechen town of Sernovodsk,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Around 16,000 refugees have fled
the town to neighboring Ingushetiya. Although journalists have not been
permitted to enter the town, relief workers told NTV that shelling had
destroyed a sanitarium that houses refugees, burying 300 people in the
ruins. -- Scott Parrish

GRACHEV CHANGES TUNE. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev retracted his
earlier statement about his willingness to meet separatist Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4
March. Earlier in the course of his one-day visit to Grozny Grachev had
said "for such a meeting, I am willing to go anywhere." But following a
meeting with Moscow-backed Chechen Head of State Doku Zavgaev, Grachev
declared it is "time to forget about Dudaev," whom he described as a
"murderer." Grachev, who later departed for North Ossetiya, was
gathering information for a meeting later this week of the Russian
Security Council, which will discuss ways to resolve the Chechen
conflict. Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov, who is in hospital
recovering from heart bypass surgery, will miss the meeting. -- Scott
Parrish

CHERNOMYRDIN ON YELTSIN CAMPAIGN. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
told Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in a meeting on 4 March that if a
deputy prime minister is put in charge of Yeltsin's re-election
headquarters, he will work in that capacity on a "voluntary basis," NTV
reported. Yeltsin's campaign staff is currently headed by First Deputy
Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets. A spokesman for Soskovets said he
currently works from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm for the government, and then
another two to two and a half hours for the Yeltsin campaign. -- Laura
Belin

WOMEN'S GROUPS APPEAL TO DUMA. Representatives of 53 women's
associations appealed to the Duma on 4 March to improve the legal status
of women, ITAR-TASS reported. The groups are concerned by the
disproportionate number of women are out of work (constituting 62% of
the officially registered unemployed) and that women are discriminated
against in hiring and firing. The appeal also drew attention to the
sharp increase in salary differentials between men and women and the
lack of women in senior positions. It proposed that the Duma create a
body to assess all draft legislation from the point of view of equal
opportunities for men and women. -- Penny Morvant

NATIONALITIES MINISTRY REORGANIZED. President Yeltsin has reorganized
the Ministry of Nationalities and Regional Policy and renamed it the
Ministry of Nationalities and Federal Affairs, ITAR-TASS reported on 4
March. Vyacheslav Mikhailov is to stay on as minister. -- Anna
Paretskaya

ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR OPPOSES EXPANSION OF LEGISLATURE'S POWER. St.
Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak has turned down the city legislature's
Law On State Power Structure in St. Petersburg and returned it to the
city's Legislative Assembly, Ekspress-khronika reported on 5 March.
According to the bill, two-thirds of the legislature's deputies could
pass a vote of no confidence in any executive official of the city (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 29 February 1996). Sobchak also signed laws on
gubernatorial elections in the city, proposing that a simple, one-round
election be held due to the lack of finances. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA CONDEMNS TIGHTENING OF CUBAN SANCTIONS. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Grigorii Karasin on 4 March criticized the toughened economic
sanctions against Cuba contained in proposed U.S. legislation, Russian
and Western agencies reported. In the aftermath of the recent incident
in which Cuban fighters shot down two U.S. light civilian aircraft, U.S.
President Bill Clinton has agreed to sign the bill, which contains
provisions that have provoked objections from the EU, Canada, and
Mexico. Karasin termed the bill "contradictory to international law" and
said it "infringed on the rights of sovereign states" by allowing U.S.
nationals to sue foreign citizens using expropriated property in Cuba
formerly owned by U.S. citizens. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN ARMY EMPLOYS LARGE NUMBER OF GENERALS. Citing the General
Staff's latest report, Obshchaya gazeta reported on 3 March that there
are currently 1,800 generals in the 1.5 million strong Russian Armed
Forces, with one general for each 833 servicemen. An additional 3,000
generals serve in paramilitary forces of the Interior Ministry, Federal
Security Service, External Intelligence Service, and other government
agencies. A general's average monthly salary is 2.1 million rubles
($438). -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA TO BOOST MILITARY EXPORTS TO INDIA. A 70-member Russian
delegation arrived in New Delhi on 4 March to participate in an
international exhibition of military and civilian equipment, Russian and
Western media reported the same day. Russian military manufacturers have
brought samples of brand-new "Konkurs-M" anti-tank missiles, "S-300" air
defense systems, "Smerch" multiple-launch rocket systems, and other
kinds of military equipment. In 1994, the two countries signed a six-
year agreement on military-technical cooperation worth $7 billion, and
in 1995 Russia sold the Indian Air Force $220 million worth of MiG-29
jet fighters. -- Constantine Dmitriev

FIRE CAUSES CHAOS ON MOSCOW METRO. A fire broke out in the Moscow metro
on 4 March, bringing the city's circle line to a halt during the morning
rush hour, Russian and Western agencies reported. Four people were
slightly injured as a result of the incident, caused by a short circuit
in a stretch of high-voltage cable in a tunnel. Concern over subway
safety mounted last year following a fire in the Soviet-era metro in the
Azerbaijani capital Baku that killed about 300 people. Moscow subway
workers have long complained that maintenance work is underfunded, and
Izvestiya quoted the head of the Metrostroi company as saying equipment
in older stretches of the system is so worn out that there could be a
repetition of Monday's accident with more serious consequences. -- Penny
Morvant

STAVROPOL MANAGERS FINED FOR WITHHOLDING WAGES. The Stavropol Krai labor
inspectorate has fined the heads of 34 businesses and organizations in
the region for paying wages late, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. The
fines varied from 500,000 rubles to 3 million ($100 to $600). Managers
of another 92 organizations have been set deadlines for the payment of
wage arrears. Krai Governor Petr Marchenko, appointed by President
Yeltsin after the Budennovsk hostage crisis last summer, issued a
resolution threatening to fire managers and officials guilty of
withholding wages. Also on 4 March, presidential economics adviser
Aleksandr Livshits reiterated the government's intention to eliminate
budget wage arrears by the end of March. -- Penny Morvant

NEW ATOMIC POWER STATIONS. Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov said
on 4 March that four atomic reactors of the new light-water VVER-640
design will be built in the next few years, ITAR-TASS reported. A new
complex is under construction at Sosnovyi Bor near St. Petersburg, and
other blocs will be added to the existing Kalinin and Novo-Voronezh
reactors. Russia currently has 29 reactors at nine sites, four of them
added in the last decade. Eight of the first-generation reactors are due
to be dismantled by 2001. -- Peter Rutland

SOME GOOD NEWS FROM MURMANSK. The 150,000 worker Apatit chemical and
fertilizer plant, which was bought by Menatep Bank in 1994, is now
showing signs of economic recovery, according to a report in the pro-
communist Pravda on 5 March. Output has fallen by half since 1991, and
by the end of 1995 the average wage was only 400,000 rubles, and the
minimum consumption basket for Murmansk Oblast, where Apatit is located,
is 560,000. However, in response to worker protests wages were raised
30% in January and the factory reintroduced subsidies for canteen food
and public transport. Fertilizer is one of the few sectors of the
Russian economy which saw output grow in 1995 (by 17%), largely driven
by rising exports. -- Peter Rutland

DIAMOND DEAL DETAILS. ITAR-TASS released on 4 March some details of a
three-year agreement between Russia and South Africa's De Beers signed
on 23 February. De Beers' will continue to sell 95% of the first $550
million of Russia's rough diamond exports. Russia will be allowed to
independently export 20% of diamonds above the $550 million level, and
promised to curtail the "leakage" of stones onto the world market
outside the De Beers contract. Russia was estimated to have some 25% of
the $5 billion world trade in uncut stones in 1995. -- Natalia Gurushina

MOSCOW-BERLIN ART EXHIBITION OPENS. The exhibition "Moscow-
Berlin/Berlin-Moscow," covering Russian and German art from 1900 to
1950, opened on 5 March at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russian and
Western agencies reported. ITAR-TASS reported that the exhibition is
aimed at illuminating "objectively and without bias" both the positive
moments in the two nations' histories and the destructive results of the
clashes between them. However, some works shown in the Berlin Gallery
were removed from the Pushkin Museum version, including two portraits of
Hitler and Stalin working at their desks and another pair of similar
paintings depicting idealized family life in Nazi Germany and Stalin's
USSR. -- Laura Belin

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TRIAL OF OPON REBELS IN AZERBAIJAN. The military bench of Azerbaijan's
Supreme Court found Elchin Aliev, a former OPON police officer, guilty
of murdering Deputy Parliamentary Chairman Afiyaddin Jalilov and
Security Chief Shamsi Ragimov in 1994, Reuters reported on 4 March. Both
men were close aides of Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev. Three other
OPON officers were sentenced to jail terms of 13 or 14 years and one
other received two years. Elchin Aliev and other rebel OPON members fled
to Russia but were extradited in late 1995. -- Lowell Bezanis

VELAYATI-HASANOV TRADE ACCUSATIONS. During his recent visit to Baku,
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati traded barbs with his
Azerbaijani counterpart, Hasan Hasanov, at a joint press conference on 3
March, Western agencies and Turan reported. Velayati repeated Tehran's
demand that Azerbaijan limit its ties with Israel, while Hasanov
criticized Iran for its close ties with Armenia. He accused Tehran of
helping circumvent the Baku-imposed economic blockade on Armenia.
Relations between the two countries have been particularly frosty since
April 1995 when Baku, at the behest of the U.S., effectively insured
that Tehran would not participate in the exploitation of three offshore
Caspian Sea oil fields. -- Lowell Bezanis

GEORGIA CALLS FOR TIGHTER BLOCKADE OF ABKHAZIA. A spokesman for Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze complained that food and fuel are still
reaching Abkhazia "without permission," Reuters reported on 3 March. He
claimed that food is being delivered by sea from Turkey and fuel from
Stavropol Krai in Russia. The Abkhaz authorities have decided to set up
a new battalion, named Kolkheti, in Gali District, Iberia news agency
reported on 2 March. It will be staffed by ethnic Georgians and headed
by Yurii Badzaghua, a comrade-in-arms of former Georgian president Zviad
Gamsakhurdia. -- Irakli Tsereteli and Lowell Bezanis

[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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