You always pass failure on the way to success. - Mickey Rooney
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 47, Part I, 06 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
HEAVY FIGHTING ERUPTS IN GROZNY. Heavy fighting was reported in Grozny
on 5-6 March during which Chechen fighters seized police stations in the
Zavodskii and Oktyabrskii regions of the city, ITAR-TASS reported. Other
federal positions in the center of the city came under fire from machine
guns and rocket-propelled grenades. General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov,
commander of federal forces in Chechnya, said there were casualties on
both sides. ITAR-TASS reported that the fighting had died down somewhat
by late morning on 6 March, but added that "sporadic" but "intense"
fighting continued in some parts of the city. Also on 5 March, agencies
reported that Salman Raduev, who led the raid on Kizlyar in January, had
died from gunshot wounds received in an ambush on 3 March. -- Scott
Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

FEDERAL FORCES CONTINUE POUNDING SERNOVODSK. Federal artillery and
helicopter gunships continued to bombard the western Chechen town of
Sernovodsk on 5 March, Russian and Western agencies reported. AFP,
citing an independent Chechen journalist who fled the town, reported
that at least 20-30 civilians have been killed. The journalist added
that the center of the town has been totally destroyed by the shelling.
On 4 March, federal forces had opened a corridor for civilians to flee,
but it was closed again on 5 March, trapping an unknown number of
inhabitants in the besieged town. Although federal commander General
Nikolai Tkachev expressed willingness to negotiate an end the fighting,
the bombardment of the blazing town continued into the evening. -- Scott
Parrish

CONFERENCE EXAMINES ROLE OF NATIONALISM. Russians are still trapped in
the ideology of an imperial power and have not embraced the "national
idea," journalist Vadim Kozhinov said at a 5 March conference on
"Nationalism in Modern Russia" at the Russian Social-Political Center,
Express-khronika reported. He argued that those who rely on Russian
nationalism "will lose and suffer cruel disappointment." Others, such as
writer Aleksandr Sevastyanov, claimed that nationalism is becoming the
most popular ideology in Russia. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN CREATES ANOTHER CHECHNYA COMMISSION. President Yeltsin on 5
March created a third commission to come up with solutions to the
Chechen crisis, ITAR-TASS reported. The commission will be headed by
presidential adviser Emil Pain. Several weeks earlier, Yeltsin had
ordered Pain and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to lead other
commissions on Chechnya. The new commission will have more clout as
Yeltsin has ordered Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov to ensure its
efficiency. Chernomyrdin met with Yeltsin on 5 March to discuss his
commission's proposals. -- Robert Orttung

MOSCOW DEMOCRATS UNITE. The Moscow organizations of a number of pro-
reform parties, including Yabloko, Russia's Democratic Choice,
Democratic Russia, and Forward, Russia!, have signed an agreement to
coordinate their activities during the presidential campaign, even
though the national leaders of these parties have yet to agree on any
sort of cooperation, Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 March. Representatives of
the local party branches agreed to select a single candidate by 15
March. The move reflects a further collapse of organizational discipline
within the pro-reform camp. -- Robert Orttung

SELEZNEV PROPOSES THAT YELTSIN ABOLISH PRESIDENCY. During their monthly
meeting on 5 March, State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev suggested that
President Yeltsin propose amendments to the constitution to abolish the
presidency in 1997, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. He said that many
parties would support a decision not to hold the elections in 1996 in
this case. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED QUITS DUMA FACTION. The deputy leader of the Congress of Russian
Communities, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed, has left the Popular Power
Duma faction headed by former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, NTV
reported on 5 March. Lebed's departure is said to be a response to
Ryzhkov's support for Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 5 March 1996). Lebed also intends to join the presidential race,
and he is lobbying for support from some of the "popular patriotic
forces" that have backed Zyuganov. If at least three more people leave
the faction, which now has just 37 members, it would be disqualified
from official status, since Duma regulations set a minimum of 35 members
for Duma factions. -- Anna Paretskaya

HARDLINERS HONOR STALIN. About 200 hardline Communists on 5 March marked
the 43rd anniversary of the death of Joseph Stalin by laying a wreath on
his grave, Russian and Western agencies reported. Participants in the
ceremony included Working Russia leader Viktor Anpilov, but Russian
Federation Communist Party leader and presidential hopeful Gennadii
Zyuganov stayed away. Last week, Zyuganov dodged questions about his
party's assessment of Stalin, saying it would take Shakespeare to
determine the appropriate role for Stalin in history, The New York Times
reported on 4 March. -- Penny Morvant

PRIMAKOV ON RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. After the end of the Cold War,
Russian foreign policy was "overcorrected" and became excessively pro-
Western, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said in a lengthy interview
with Izvestiya published on 6 March. While endorsing the concept of an
"equitable" partnership with the West, Primakov said Russian foreign
policy should now focus on "more vigorously and effectively" defending
Russian national interests while avoiding confrontation. -- Scott
Parrish

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov met his Czech counterpart, Josef Zieleniec, in Moscow on 5
March, Russian and Western agencies reported. Their discussion focused
on NATO expansion, with Primakov declaring Russia will continue to
oppose any expansion of the alliance. Zieleniec reiterated the Czech
Republic's desire to join NATO but denied that the policy is directed
against Moscow. Both diplomats stressed that bilateral relations were
developing smoothly and said that the two countries held "very similar"
views on almost all issues other than NATO expansion. Primakov and
Zieleniec also signed a cultural and scientific agreement, and exchanged
documents ratifying the 1993 Czech-Russian Friendship Treaty. -- Scott
Parrish

MIKHAILOV: RUSSIA DEVELOPING NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Russia is continuing
its research on the development of new nuclear weapons, Atomic Energy
Minister Viktor Mikhailov told a 4 March Moscow news conference. Russian
media quoted him as saying the research is aimed at improving the safety
of Russian nuclear weapons and to enhance their capability to overcome
any anti-missile defense system. He also announced that Russia would
reprocess 12 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium from dismantled
nuclear weapons this year. He said that six metric tons had been
reprocessed last year and 35 tons would be treated in 1996. -- Doug
Clarke

MILITARY TO BUY HELICOPTERS FOR FORCES IN CHECHNYA. Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev on 4 March told an army unit near Grozny that the ministry
has decided to buy 36 new helicopters from the Rosvertol company in
Rostov-na-Donu for use by federal troops in Chechnya, Russian media
reported. He said that the order would be for 20 Mi-24 gunships, 10 Mi-
26 transport helicopters, and six special Mi-26s configured as fuel-
tankers. Rosvertol, like all Russian aircraft manufacturers, has been
hard hit by the military's failure to buy its products in recent years.
The Defense Ministry did not purchase a single helicopter in 1995. --
Doug Clarke

COURT RULES AGAINST SOVETSKAYA ROSSIYA IN LIBEL CASE. A Moscow court
ruled on 6 March that the left-wing Sovetskaya Rossiya should pay
damages to popular singer Iosif Kobzon for claiming that he had ties
with organized crime, ITAR-TASS reported. An article by Larisa
Kislinskaya that appeared in the paper in 1992 alleged that Kobzon had
personal links with organized crime bosses. The paper and journalist
were ordered to pay Kobzon a total of 15 million rubles ($3,100) in
compensation. Kobzon, who was no. 3 on Col. Gen. Boris Gromov's My
Fatherland party list in the December Duma elections, was denied a U.S.
entry visa in 1995 following the publication of an article in the
Washington Times in March alleging that Kobzon was Russia's main
mafioso. -- Penny Morvant

PLIGHT OF RADIATION VICTIMS. The Health Ministry said on 5 March that
13.5% of those involved in the clean-up operation following the 1986
Chornobyl disaster are now invalids and that hospitals treating
radiation victims are under-staffed and under-equipped, ITAR-TASS
reported. A commission to distribute welfare benefits to victims of
nuclear disasters has been set up in Primorsk Krai, Russian Public TV
(ORT) reported on 5 March. It has already registered more than 1,000
people, and that number is expected to grow as more immigrants arrive
from the Chornobyl and Semipalatinsk areas. The commission will probably
also deal with naval and civilian personnel affected by the 1985
explosion of a reactor on board a Pacific Fleet submarine undergoing
repairs.  -- Penny Morvant and Doug Clarke

CHICKEN DISPUTE SETTLED. A poultry trade dispute between Russia and the
U.S. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 February 1996) was settled on 5 March,
ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. In a message relayed by
Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin, Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin assured U.S. Vice President Al Gore that American poultry
imports will not be halted after 16 March. The prospect of trade
stoppages caused protests from both American poultry exporters, who
announced production cuts, and Administration officials who began
considering retaliatory measures. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KABUL ON TURKMENISTAN-PAKISTAN ROAD. On the eve of Afghan President
Burhanuddin Rabbani's visit to Turkmenistan, Kabul has condemned a
Pakistani plan to repair a road linking Chaman in Pakistan to Torghundi
on the Afghan-Turkmen border, Afghan and Western media reported on 5
March. Kabul Radio condemned the plan as part of Pakistan's efforts to
help the opposition Taliban movement, which now controls much of
Afghanistan aside from the capital and various northern provinces.
Pakistan said the  road is simply a means of stimulating trade with the
newly independent states of Central Asia. -- Lowell Bezanis

NAZARBAYEV RESHUFFLES TWO TOP OFFICIALS. Kazakhstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev appointed Deputy Prime Minister Akhmetzhan Yesimov to the
post of state secretary that was created under the new constitution
adopted last year. In terms of formal ranking, the position is second
after the presidential post. Agriculture Minister Zhanybek Karibzhanov
has been promoted to the rank of deputy prime minister, but he will
retain control of farming policy, a government spokesman told ITAR-TASS
on 5 March. The akim (head) of Taldy Kurgan Oblast, Serik Akhymbekov, is
the new agriculture minister. -- Bhavna Dave

NEW MINISTRY CREATED IN UZBEK GOVERNMENT. Uzbek President Islam Karimov
on 4 March issued a decree establishing a Ministry of Extraordinary
Affairs, Western and Uzbek sources reported. The ministry, which is to
address "the consequences of extraordinary situations of a natural and
technical character," will be headed by First Deputy Prime Minister
Ismail Jurabekov. Aside from organizing natural disaster relief, the
specific functions of the ministry are unclear. Last year, Jurabekov
headed a commission that evaluated the efficiency and agricultural
production levels of regional administrations, resulting in the
replacement of several hokims (governors). -- Roger Kangas

KYRGYZ UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES UP. The unemployment rate in Kyrgyzstan has
climbed from 0.7% to 3.2% since the beginning of 1995, ITAR-TASS
reported on 4 March. The number of registered unemployed in the Central
Asian republic is 91,200. Not listed in these totals are the numerous
people working part-time or those who have not received their salaries
for weeks or months. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIK GOVERNMENT SAYS MOST REFUGEES HAVE RETURNED HOME. The head of the
Tajik commission for refugees, Temur Tabarov, announced on 1 March that
the majority of refugees from the Tajik civil war have returned to their
homes, according to a Tajik Radio report monitored by the BBC. According
to government figures 729,179 of the registered 955,653 refugees are
back in their place of residence. Support from international sources,
particularly the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has helped to
rebuild 24,868 of the estimated 35,723 homes that were damaged in the
fighting of 1992-93. Tabarov said the government is working to
repatriate the 8,000 refugees who are still in Afghanistan and another
190,000 scattered throughout former Soviet republics. -- 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
Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To
subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without
the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to
LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU
No subject line or other text should be included.
To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries
to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or
electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ
Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396

Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to
reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or
redistributing this publication, please write omripub@omri.cz for a copy
of the new policy or look at this URL:
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html

OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains
expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For
Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ

              Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole