Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 53, Part I, 14 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
FEDERAL FORCES POUND BAMUT. Russian aircraft and artillery bombarded
rebel positions near the western Chechen village of Bamut on 13 March,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Military spokesmen refuted
earlier reports that the Chechen fighters in Bamut had taken federal
troops hostage and had threatened to shoot them if the village were
attacked. Meanwhile, sporadic fighting continued in Grozny, where
Russian troops told AFP that about 400 servicemen had been killed in the
recent fighting, many more than the official death toll of 79 reported
by Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov. -- Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

DUDAEV: RADUEV, MASKHADOV STILL ALIVE. In an exclusive telephone
interview with RFE/RL, separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev
refuted recent reports that field commander Salman Raduev had been
killed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov seriously wounded.
Dudaev said both Raduev and Maskhadov would be willing to meet with
Russian officials to confirm his claims. He added that the recent
Chechen attack on Grozny had been "revenge" for Russian violence against
the Chechen people. Meanwhile, in Moscow, the State Duma defeated a
proposal by Deputy Konstantin Borovoi to grant Dudaev amnesty. Borovoi
argued that negotiations with Dudaev are the only way to resolve the
conflict. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN AT ANTI-TERRORISM SUMMIT. Addressing a 13 March meeting of world
leaders in Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt, President Boris Yeltsin condemned
terrorism and called for united action by the international community to
oppose it, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin denounced
Chechen President Dudaev as a "criminal" disguising himself as a
"freedom fighter." In an oblique request for support in Chechnya, the
Russian president declared that "terrorism is the same everywhere," and
contended that "double standards cannot be tolerated" in the struggle
against it. While in Egypt, Yeltsin also met with U.S. President Bill
Clinton. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA QUESTIONS YELTSIN'S SIGNATURE COLLECTION. The Duma has asked the
Procurator General's Office to look into how President Boris Yeltsin's
campaign has collected signatures, Radio Rossii reported on 13 March.
According to Sergei Filatov, one of Yeltsin's top campaign organizers, 8
million signatures have already been collected supporting the president.
There have been numerous allegations, however, that workers in the
Railways and Communications Ministries were forced to sign the petitions
by their superiors (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 February 1996). -- Laura
Belin

ZYUGANOV FIRST TO RECEIVE CAMPAIGN FUNDS. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, the first registered presidential candidate, became
the first to receive 150 million rubles ($31,000) from the Central
Electoral Commission for his campaign fund, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported on 13 March. The commission will give all registered candidates
an additional 50 million rubles later in the campaign. -- Laura Belin

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA TO PUBLISH WEEKLY NEWSPAPER. The pro-government Our
Home Is Russia (NDR) movement will launch its own weekly newspaper by
the end of March, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March. The paper will be a
supplement to the official government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta,
which has a circulation of about 500,000, and extra copies will be
distributed by regional NDR branches. According to Segodnya on 13 March,
NDR claims to have branches in 86 regions of the Russian Federation, but
insiders say only 40 of those are "active." -- Laura Belin

LEBED PROPOSES COMMISSION ON CAPITAL FLIGHT. Duma member and
presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed offered to help create and lead a
federal commission to track down and return money that has been taken
out of Russia illegally during the last several years, Russian media
reported on 13 March. Earlier, Izvestiya reported that a government
representative had offered the post to Lebed in what appeared to be an
attempt to co-opt him (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 March 1996). Lebed told
RFE/RL that with the help of Interpol, he could return about $10 billion
to Russia. -- Laura Belin

YAVLINSKII IN RACE TO STAY. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii told
supporters at Moscow's Dom Kino that he will not withdraw his candidacy
for president and will not cooperate with the so-called "third force"
alliance, which may nominate either Aleksandr Lebed or Svyatoslav
Fedorov, Russian media reported on 13 March. Portraying himself as the
only viable alternative to President Yeltsin and Communist leader
Zyuganov, he declined to say whom he would support if those two
candidates face each other in the second round of presidential
elections. Yavlinskii also said he will continue to push for a vote of
no confidence in the government; so far Yabloko has collected only 58 of
the 90 deputies needed to put a confidence vote on the Duma's agenda. --
Laura Belin

FASCISTS SENTENCED IN YAROSLAVL. A Yaroslavl court sentenced two members
of the neo-Nazi group Werewolf Legion, including its leader Igor
Pirozhok, to five- and nine-year prison terms for murder and stirring up
ethnic hatred, the first guilty verdicts ever brought under Article 74
of the Criminal Code (inciting ethnic hatred), NTV reported on 13 March.
Pirozhok admitted to Izvestiya that his group commits terrorist acts
against "Jews, communists, and democrats." -- Laura Belin

DEFENSE MINISTRY COLLEGIUM SUPPORTS GRACHEV. The Collegium of the
Defense Ministry issued a statement of support for Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev, Ekho Moskvy reported on 13 March. The statement comes on
the heels of confusion over a reported meeting of the collegium earlier
this week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 March 1996). -- Constantine
Dmitriev

DUMA OVERRIDES FEDERATION COUNCIL VETO ON PENSION HIKE. The Duma on 13
March overrode the Federation Council veto on a bill raising the monthly
minimum pension to 75,900 rubles as of 1 March, ITAR-TASS reported.
President Yeltsin is unlikely to sign the bill, however, since the
government has argued consistently that there are not enough funds
available to finance such an increase (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 January
and 8 and 23 February 1996). -- Penny Morvant

DECREE ON POWER-SHARING SIGNED. President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree
on power-sharing between the federal and regional authorities on 12
March, ITAR-TASS reported. The decree sets out the conditions and
procedures for signing individual power-sharing agreements with the
federation's subjects. Under the decree, such agreements cannot change
the constitutional status of federation members or violate the supremacy
of the federal constitution. -- Anna Paretskaya

MAYORAL ELECTIONS IN ST. PETERSBURG SCHEDULED FOR MAY. President Yeltsin
has set 19 May as the date for the mayoral election in St. Petersburg,
Russian media reported. Although St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak
supports the presidential decree, the city legislative assembly failed
to approve it at a 13 March session because the Communist deputies, who
oppose early mayoral elections, staged a walkout causing the assembly to
lose its quorum, NTV reported on 13 March. Earlier this year, the city
legislature voted to hold the poll on 16 June along with the
presidential election. -- Anna Paretskaya

TRIAL BALLOON ON NATO EXPANSION? Russian Ambassador to the Czech
Republic Aleksandr Lebedev told CTK on 13 March that Russia is prepared
to hammer out a compromise on the question of NATO expansion. The
Russian diplomat suggested that while Moscow could not accept the
extension of NATO military infrastructure into Eastern Europe, it could
live with the enlargement of NATO's political institutions and even
accept the extension of certain military guarantees by NATO to the East
European states. His comments resemble recent remarks made by Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, who suggested a compromise on NATO
expansion might be possible if NATO agreed to refrain from deploying
military forces on the territory of new members. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA SIGNS MILITARY PACT WITH COLOMBIA. Russia and Colombia signed an
agreement on military and technical cooperation in Bogota on 12 March,
ITAR-TASS reported the following day. The agency reported that the pact
was the first of its kind between Russia and a Latin American state. The
five-year agreement calls for Russia to supply Colombia with arms,
ammunition, and other military equipment as well as license Colombian
firms to produce Russian-designed weapons, Reuters reported on 13 March.
-- Doug Clarke

DUMA RESPONSE TO LAND DECREE. Agrarian Party deputies in the Duma
submitted a draft law on land on 13 March that bars foreigners from
owning land and puts a two year moratorium on the resale of land which
was given free to farm workers, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March. The
draft is a response to the land decree that President Yeltsin issued on
7 March. The Duma also instructed one of their committees to investigate
the constitutionality of Yeltsin's decree. The Russian Constitution
(part 3, article 36) states that the use of land is regulated by federal
laws. Also on 13 March, the Agrarian Party announced that it is revoking
the membership of Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha. -- Peter
Rutland

CHERNOMYRDIN VISITS KHRUNICHEV SPACE CENTER. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin visited the Khrunichev space scientific-industrial center
in Moscow on 13 March, ITAR-TASS reported. The government owes the space
industry nearly 437 billion rubles ($91 million). The federal financing
of the space program continues to slide--the 1996 space budget is only
1.5 trillion rubles. In these circumstances, budgetary funds form only
30% of the Khrunichev center's revenue. The remainder comes from
commercial launches of Russian and foreign satellites, and from
participation in international space programs, such as the construction
of Alfa orbital station modules. The center manufactures Russia's most
powerful rocket booster Proton, and the new boosters Rokot and Angara.
-- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

U.S. DELEGATION SEEKS RESOLUTION TO NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT.
Representatives of the Clinton administration, including Deputy
Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Deputy National Security Adviser
Sandy Berger, are scheduled to meet with Azerbaijani President Heidar
Aliev and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan in an effort to
resolve the two countries' ongoing dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, ITAR-
TASS and Western media reported on 13 March. A resolution to the dispute
could facilitate oil pipeline deals in the region. The same day Karen
Baburjan, the chairman of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,
was replaced by Arthur Tavmosian, Radio Mayak reported. -- Roger Kangas

IMF LOAN TO AZERBAIJAN. The IMF will extend an enhanced structural
adjustment facility loan of $80 million to Azerbaijan, ITAR-TASS
reported following a meeting between Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
and IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus in Baku on 12 March. An
additional $260-$350 million will be made available when Azerbaijan
completes its economic restructuring plan. Camdessus was positive about
the recent turnaround in the Azerbaijani economy, noting that the
monthly inflation rate had fallen from 50% to 2.5% over the past year.
-- Roger Kangas

MUTINEER APPOINTED TO PRESIDENTIAL GUARD. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev,
commander of the Tajik Army's First Brigade has been appointed deputy
head of the presidential guard, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported on 13
March. Khudaberdiyev made news in late January when he captured the city
of Kurgan-Tyube and advanced to within 15 km of the Tajik capital
Dushanbe (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 January 1996). -- Bruce Pannier

NAZARBAYEV FORMS NEW MINISTRY OF SCIENCES, SUPREME COURT COUNCIL.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 11 March merged the National Academy
of Sciences, Kazakh Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the Ministry
of Science and New Technologies to create a new Ministry of Sciences and
Academy of Sciences, ITAR-TASS reported. Vladimir Shkolnik, the former
minister of science, will head the new ministry. Nazarbayev also created
a Supreme Court Council with himself as its chairman. The council will
comprise the chairman of the Constitutional Council, the head of the
Supreme Court and some of its members, the rector of the Law Institute,
two parliamentary deputies, and representatives of oblast, city, and
regional courts. -- Bhavna Dave

TOP SECRET KAZAKHSTANI MAP SEIZED IN MOSCOW. Customs officials in Moscow
seized a box labeled "top secret" which contained maps showing the
location of gold and silver mining sites in Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS
reported on 14 March. The box was on its way to a private address in the
U.K. from Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave

BBC TO BEGIN BROADCASTING ON MEDIUM WAVE IN UZBEKISTAN. An agreement
reached between the BBC and the Uzbek Ministry of Communication on 12
March will permit the radio station to broadcast on medium wave in the
country, RFE/RL reported the next day. Until now, BBC listeners in
Uzbekistan have been able to receive programming in Uzbek, Russian, and
English on shortwave only. The agreement represents a slight relaxation
of Uzbekistan's strict information policy that makes it difficult to
receive any foreign broadcasting. Later this month, RFE/RL is expected
to open an office in Tashkent. -- Lowell Bezanis and 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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