Logic, n. The act of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human understanding. - Ambrose Bierce
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 48, Part I, 07 March 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "No End in Sight to Turkey's Political Disarray", by Lowell Bezanis
-  "Subtle Change", by Bruce Pannier

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
FIGHTING CONTINUES OVERNIGHT IN GROZNY. The Chechen militants who
entered Grozny during the early morning of 6 March began withdrawing
from the city overnight, following fierce fighting that claimed the
lives of at least 26 Russian troops and the head of the Chechen OMON
detachment, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Chechen rebels,
variously estimated at 500-1000 men, blew up three water stations and a
fuel line, and penetrated to within a few hundred yards of the
government building. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev interrupted the
retransmission of Russian Public TV (ORT) with a five-minute statement,
in which he said the attack had been launched on his instructions,
according to Radio Mayak. On 7 March, the Security Council, meeting in
Moscow to discuss the Chechen situation, postponed for one week its
decision over which plan to select to end the conflict, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Liz Fuller
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

U.S. BLASTS HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD IN CHECHNYA. In its annual human rights
report, the U.S. State Department said Russia's record remained uneven,
"with reversals and worsening in some areas, most notably in the conduct
of the war in Chechnya," according to Reuters. The report noted numerous
killings and other serious human rights violations in Chechnya but said
those committed by federal forces "occurred on a much greater scale than
those of the Chechen separatists." It added that security forces
elsewhere in Russia were increasingly targeting citizens from the
Caucasus for "arbitrary searches and detention on the pretext of
maintaining public safety." The report found that the media generally
functioned unhindered but noted a few exceptions. It also criticized the
dismissal of former Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev, cited
reports of prison inmates dying due to torture by security forces, and
noted the continuation of "hazing" in the military. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN: MEDIA SHOULD BE "SOOTHING" DURING CAMPAIGN. President Yeltsin
said the mass media should be "soothing" during the upcoming "turbulent
period" of the presidential campaign, since "society faces hard times,"
ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. In February, Yeltsin sacked Russian TV
Chairman Oleg Poptsov, prompting fears that he will tighten control over
the media during the campaign. The Central Electoral Commission has not
yet adopted regulations on campaign coverage, but it is reportedly
considering rules to prohibit journalists on state-owned media from
commenting on candidates or asking questions during debates. -- Laura
Belin

YELTSIN VOWS TO SAVE RUSSIA FROM TERROR. Speaking to a conference on
legal reform in the Kremlin, President Yeltsin said he intends to win
the June presidential elections to protect Russia from "the terror of
arbitrary rule, lawlessness, and mass repressions," which he said would
return if the Communists gained power, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported
on 6 March. Yeltsin's main rival, Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov, criticized the president for belatedly realizing the need to
introduce legal order in Russia, NTV reported. Meanwhile, First Deputy
Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets told ITAR-TASS that Deputy Prime Minister
Yurii Yarov will go on leave from the cabinet in order to run Yeltsin's
campaign headquarters. Soskovets said he may also go on leave for a
month or so later this spring. He added that Yeltsin will announce his
election program at a 22-23 March conference, and the program will be
"significantly different" from his recent "state of the nation" address
to parliament (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 February 1996). -- Laura Belin

MORE COMPETITION ON THE WEEKLY NEWS MAGAZINE MARKET. Vladimir
Gusinskii's Most Group, which already finances the Segodnya newspaper
and NTV, has teamed up with the U.S. magazine Newsweek to launch a
weekly news magazine in Russia, to be called Itogi, (Results or Summing
Up), ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. The first issue will appear in May
and will be distributed in Moscow and other large cities. About 15% of
the material in the magazine will be translated from Newsweek, and the
rest will be produced by Russian staff. In January, the weekly magazine
Ponedelnik (Monday) was launched with money from U.S. and Dutch
investors. Ogonek, Russia's most popular weekly magazine, is 100%
financed by Russian investors. Kommersant-weekly, which is also
influential despite its smaller circulation, is said to have both
Russian and foreign investment. -- Laura Belin

DUMA CONDEMNS DESECRATION OF SOVIET FLAG. . . The Duma passed a
resolution on 6 March condemning any desecration of the flag of the
former Soviet Union, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
resolution was in response to a TV report on 3 March showing a member of
an anti-fascist youth committee wiping his feet on the flag. It and a
flag of Nazi Germany were placed at the entrance to a Moscow hall where
a national youth conference was in progress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4
March 1996). A sign read, "Democrats wipe their feet here." The
resolution, supported by 289 deputies, called on the Procurator-
General's Office to "institute criminal proceedings against hooliganism
as regards historical symbols of our country." -- Penny Morvant

. . .WHILE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS WANT SOVIET-ERA NAME OF METRO STATION
CHANGED. Workers rebuilding the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow
have asked Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to rename a metro station near the
construction site, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. The station is
currently called Kropotkinskaya after Petr Kropotkin, an anarchist who
supported the October Revolution. The station was first called the
Palace of the Soviets, as it was supposed to serve a giant public
building of the same name to be built on the site of the original
cathedral, which was torn down by the authorities in the 1930s. When the
project fell through and a swimming pool was built instead, the station
was renamed so as not to remind people of the failure. -- Penny Morvant

REGIONAL PARTY ORGANIZATIONS UNITE FOR PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. An
association of left-wing patriotic forces and an alliance of pro-reform
organizations have been created in Krasnodar Krai, Nezavisimaya gazeta
reported on 6 March. The "Fatherland" movement, which unites the krai-
level organizations of the Communist Party (KPRF) and the hardline
Communist Workers Party and United Workers Front, backs the nomination
of KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov for the presidency. The krai
organizations of Yabloko, Svyatoslav Fedorov's Party of Workers Self-
Government, and Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice united in
support of the candidacy of Grigorii Yavlinskii. The same day, Segodnya
reported that a movement called "For the revival of the Urals" has been
formed by branches of various left-wing parties in Chelyabinsk to
support Zyuganov. -- Anna Paretskaya

KOMI DEFENDS RIGHTS OF NORTHERN MIGRANTS. Komi Republic head
administrator Yurii Spiridonov has formally requested that the
Constitutional Court defend the constitutional rights of migrants from
the north, mostly pensioners heading south for their retirement, Russian
TV reported on 6 March. The request was sparked by the fact that some
regional administrations in Russia have been charging immigrants from
the north up to 30 million rubles ($6,500) for permanent residency
papers.  The 1996 federal budget has allotted the Komi Republic 300
billion rubles ($62 million) under a program to aid resettlement. By
2005, 148,000 people are slated to be moved out of the area. -- Anna
Paretskaya

PLANS FOR A NEW CONFEDERATION. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets said on 6 March that President Boris Yeltsin will announce
"plans for movement toward a confederation of Russia, Belarus, and
Kazakhstan" on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the [1991] referendum
on the preservation of a unified state," ITAR-TASS reported. This will
probably take place at a pre-election meeting in Moscow which Yeltsin
will address on 22 March. CIS integration will be the central theme in
the campaign of both leading presidential candidates. -- Peter Rutland

CIS TO HAVE COMMON AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM. The members of the CIS Interstate
Economic Committee on 6 March signed an agreement on the "establishment
and development" of a common air defense system, ITAR-TASS reported. All
12 CIS member states are involved in the system. including Ukraine,
which is cooperating but has not formally joined its ranks.  Money will
be allocated for extending the system to Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia,
and Tajikistan, and a transnational company ("Granit") will be formed to
manufacture equipment. -- Roger Kangas

LIGHTS OUT IN THE FAR EAST. A 12 hour power shutdown in Primorskii Krai
triggered street protests on 6 March, blocking the center of Vladivostok
for several hours, ITAR-TASS reported. The government forbids the
national electricity producer, EES, from cutting off certain categories
of consumers--about 25% of the total - even if they do not pay their
electricity bills. As a result, by the beginning of January EES was owed
some 42 trillion rubles ($8 billion) by customers, with debts rising by
5 trillion a month, Rabochaya tribuna claimed on 5 March. This in turn
meant that the regional energy company Dalenergo could not pay its coal
suppliers, who halted deliveries, causing the power shutdown. -- Peter
Rutland
EUROPEAN LOANS FOR RUSSIA. German and French banks announced on 6 March
that they will provide Russia with more than $3 billion in new loans,
Reuters reported. A consortium of German banks led by Deutsche Bank will
lend DM 4 billion ($2.7 billion), mainly in the form of export credits,
while France will provide two billion francs ($400 million). The money
will start to be released in the next few months, supplementing the
first payments of the $10.2 billion IMF loan announced last month. EBRD
President Jacques de Larosiere said that he was "very optimistic about
Russia," AFP reported the same day. European support for Yeltsin may be
connected to the question of NATO expansion. On 5 March, in a speech to
the German parliament, President Roman Herzog had appealed to his
"Russian friends" not to see NATO expansion as a threat. -- Peter
Rutland

AEROFLOT LEASES MORE AIRBUSES. Aeroflot Russian International Airlines
announced on 6 March that it would be leasing four more widebodied A310s
from the French producer Airbus Industrie, ITAR-TASS reported. The
planes are equipped with engines from the U.S. firm Pratt and Whitney.
Russia acquired five airbuses, its first foreign planes, in 1992. Uzbek
Air and Sakha Air each has two A310s. Meanwhile, in Irkutsk customs
officials seized a Boeing 757 leased to Air Baikal (a Russian-U.K. joint
venture), demanding a $25 million import duty, the Wall Street Journal
reported on 6 March. This despite the fact that the Gore-Chernomyrdin
commission had agreed at its 30 January meeting to exempt leased U.S.
aircraft from import tariffs. -- Peter Rutland

DUBININ WARNS FOREIGN BANKS. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin said
that restrictions may be reimposed on foreign banks operating in Russia,
Radio Mayak reported on 6 March. He said that the spread of foreign
banks threatens the interests of Russian banks. He also complained that
Russian banks are treated as "mafia" outlets and are denied access to
banking in foreign countries. President Yeltsin had banned new foreign
bank branches from taking on Russian clients in November 1993, but he
relaxed these restrictions in June 1994 after pressure from the EU.
Russia now has 10 fully-owned and 50 partly-owned foreign banks, whose
capital accounts for only 5% of total bank assets. -- Natalia Gurushina
and Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

FIVE ARRESTED AT UNAUTHORIZED RALLY IN GEORGIA. Law-enforcement
officials arrested five supporters of former Georgian President Zviad
Gamsakhurdia at a 5 March rally in Tbilisi, Iprinda news agency
reported. About 80 supporters of the former president and members of
other non-parliamentary opposition parties participated in the rally
outside the Georgian parliament building to protest the adoption of a
law on the privatization of arable land. Police made the arrests when
the protesters refused to disperse. -- Irakli Tsereteli

AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION FAILS TO FORCE VOTE OF NO
CONFIDENCE. National Independence Party of Azerbaijan (NIPA) Deputy
Chairman Nazim Imanov's 6 March proposal that the Azerbaijani Milli
Mejlis (People's Assembly) debate a vote of no confidence in the
government failed to win the necessary majority, Turan reported.
Previously considered a "loyal opposition party," the NIPA has hardened
its opposition to President Heidar Aliev since the November 1995
parliamentary elections. -- Liz Fuller

MORE CABINET MINISTERS SACKED IN UZBEKISTAN. President Islam Karimov
dismissed two more ministers on 6 March, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March.
Adbulkhosim Mutalov was relieved of his duties as deputy prime minister
and head of the state grain company Uzdonmakhsulot. Last December,
Mutalov was demoted from prime minister to deputy prime minister (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 22 December 1995). Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Paigin
was also dismissed from his post as chairman of the state-owned
agricultural machinery company Uzselkhozmash. In a cabinet meeting last
month, Karimov criticized the government for failing to make Uzbekistan
self-sufficient in grain production. Water Conservation Minister Rim
Giniyatulin was promoted to deputy prime minister on 5 March, Reuters
reported. -- Roger Kangas

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

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