Для того, чтобы воспользоваться хорошим советом со стороны, подчас требуется не меньше ума, чем для того, чтобы подать хороший совет самому себе. - Ф. Ларошфуко

No. 57, Part I, 20 March 1996

New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Human Rights Group Urges Europe to Get Tough on Chechnya",
   by Scott Parrish
-  "Bosnian Summit:  Whistling in the Dark?", by Patrick Moore

Available only via the World Wide Web:

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Samara Oblast Governor Konstantin Titov, one of the leaders of Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia bloc in the December
State Duma campaign, said that if the Duma does not reverse its decision
to denounce the Belavezha accords, the Federation Council should
postpone the presidential elections, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported.
Moscow Oblast Governor Anatolii Tyazhlov supported the proposal, asking,
"what kind of president does [Communist leader Gennadii] Zyuganov want
to be and of what country?" St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak,
Voronezh Oblast Governor Aleksandr Kovalev, and Rostov Oblast Governor
Vladimir Chub, also backed the move, Russian TV reported. However, only
46 members supported including the idea of postponing the elections on
the agenda. President Yeltsin's representative to the Council, Anatolii
Sliva, said the president "has nothing to do with" the proposal to
postpone the elections, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung


Yeltsin's request, the Federation Council asked the Duma 19 March to
review its 15 March decision to restore the Soviet Union and "thoroughly
analyze the possible consequences" of such a move, ITAR-TASS reported.
The request was supported by 116 members of the upper house, while 10
voted against and three abstained. The written appeal stated that the
Duma vote could create difficulties in achieving the "noble goal" of
speeding up CIS integration. -- Robert Orttung

FURTHER INTEGRATION AMONG CIS STATES? The presidents of Russia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan are scheduled to meet in Moscow on 29 March
to sign an agreement on "closer cooperation," Russian and Western media
reported. The details of the agreements have not been divulged, although
Nezavisimaya gazeta noted on 15 March that the idea for the summit was
first raised during Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev's January
meeting with President Boris Yeltsin. During his meeting with Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze, Yeltsin said other CIS member states
would be welcome to sign the accord, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 March. A
member of Yeltsin's staff told RFE/RL on 19 March that it will be some
kind of "confederation accord"; however, officials in Kazakhstan and
Kyrgyzstan have avoided the word "confederation" so far. -- Roger Kangas

candidate Gennadii Zyuganov on 19 March suggested that if elected he
might abrogate some international treaties Russia has signed, AFP
reported. Zyuganov said that his party is "considering breaking
international treaties illegally signed." He did not specify what
agreements he had in mind, but said that his party is unhappy with the
situation in Estonia, where he claimed ethnic Russians cannot "speak in
their native language" or own property. -- Scott Parrish

Chechen Supreme Soviet addressed a statement to Russian President Boris
Yeltsin accusing Russian federal troops of engaging in looting,
pillaging, and reprisals against the civilian population during the
recent hostilities in Grozny, Samashki, and Sernovodsk, NTV reported,
citing Interfax. The Chechen government asked Yeltsin to take measures
to protect the civilian population. Russian troops commander Lt. Gen.
Vyacheslav Tikhomirov denied the allegations. Meanwhile, Russian forces
continued their offensive against Chechen militants reportedly holed up
in the villages of Bamut, Orekhovo, and Samaskhi. In Moscow, Russian
presidential press secretary Sergei Medvedev said on 19 March that
details of the financing of the presidential peace plan for Chechnya are
being finalized, as are arrangements for the redeployment of federal
forces and Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya and elsewhere in the
North Caucasus in order to enable local authorities "to respond
adequately to unexpected developments," Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported. -- Liz Fuller

SHEVARDNADZE IN MOSCOW. On his first official visit to Moscow as
President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze met with Russian President
Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, but
demonstratively canceled a scheduled meeting with State Duma Chairman
Gennadii Seleznev, Russian and Western media reported on 19 March.
Shevardnadze blamed his tight schedule for the cancellation, but
Seleznev angrily attributed it to the Duma's recent resolution
denouncing the Belavezha accords, saying the incident could threaten
pending Duma ratification of bilateral agreements. After meeting with
Yeltsin, Shevardnadze called for a special CIS summit to discuss the
Duma resolution, a move Yeltsin supported. The two leaders also agreed
on new measures to implement the 19 January CIS decision to pressure
Abkhazia to negotiate with Tbilisi. Chernomyrdin and Shevardnadze
earlier signed bilateral agreements covering trade, television
broadcasts, and extradition, while the Georgian and Russian defense
ministers also signed three military accords. -- Scott Parrish

concept of state nationalities policy on 19 March, which is based on the
notion of Russian unity and takes into account both the state's
interests and the interests of Russia's peoples, ITAR-TASS reported. The
concept was put forward by Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov.
The Duma recommended that a Nationalities Council be created consisting
of state officials and members of public organizations. The council
would work on legislation to help safeguard the civil rights of Russian
citizens living in other countries of the former Soviet Union. -- Anna

RUSSIA MAY ELECT NO PRESIDENT. The most probable outcome of the
presidential elections is that no candidate will win, Moskovskie novosti
reported, citing experts at the Independent Institute of Social and
Ethnic Studies. A poll of more than 2,000 respondents conducted by the
institute found that almost none of the candidates that are capable of
making it to the second round would receive more votes than those cast
in a special procedure that allows Russians to vote "against all
candidates." In order to win in the second round, a candidate must
receive more votes than the total votes cast against both candidates.
Grigorii Yavlinskii is the only candidate who has a chance of winning
more votes than the "against all" vote against almost any candidate he
might face in the second round of the election. However, if the second
round of the election pits President Yeltsin against Yavlinskii, 45% of
the respondents said they would reject both candidates, while just 35%
would cast votes for Yavlinskii and 20% for Yeltsin. -- Anna Paretskaya

Krai Duma has requested that the Constitutional Court review the
constitutionality of the 1991 Soviet-Chinese border agreement, ITAR-TASS
reported on 20 March. Annoyed that the agreement has resulted in the
transfer to China of about 1,500 hectares of disputed territory,
Primorsk legislators and Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko contend that the
16 May 1991 Russian Federation Supreme Soviet resolution endorsing the
section of the treaty that defined the eastern segment of the Russo-
Chinese border was unconstitutional. Under article 104 of the pre-1993
RSFSR constitution, they argue, only the Congress of People's Deputies
could approve changes to Russia's borders. They also contend that the
treaty violated provisions of the June 1990 Russian declaration of
sovereignty, requiring that all territorial changes be approved in a
national referendum. -- Scott Parrish

Chernomyrdin has ordered the creation of a government commission to
investigate the possibility of establishing additional naval bases in
Russian ports on the Black Sea, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 March. The
commission, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kazakov with Navy
chief Admiral Feliks Gromov as deputy chairman, will examine proposals
to base warships in Novorossiisk, Tuapse, Sochi, and Gelendzhik. It is
to issue its report in the second quarter of this year. -- Doug Clarke

CENTRAL BANK HEAD'S HOME ATTACKED. Several gunshots were fired into the
apartment of Russian Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin on 18 March,
Russian and Western agencies reported. No one was injured in the attack,
but it is the first time in recent memory that such a high-ranking
federal government official has been threatened. Dubinin's deputy,
Konstantin Lubenchenko, speculated that the assault was meant to
intimidate his boss, while Izvestiya on 20 March quoted Sergei Yegorov,
the president of the Association of Russian Banks, as saying that the
Central Bank may have "aroused the displeasure of criminal
structures...because it is constantly revoking the licenses of
commercial banks that have broken the regulations." According to the
association, there were 30 attempts on the lives of bankers in 1994. --
Penny Morvant

TIGHT MONEY POLICY WILL CONTINUE. Aleksandr Khandruev, the first deputy
chairman of the Central Bank of Russia (TsBR), told the European Banking
Forum in Prague on 19 March that the bank will continue its tight
monetary policy. He admitted that commercial banks have sprouted "like
mushrooms" since 1991, but argued that registration rules are now so
tight that it is "practically impossible" to get a license. Only one new
bank was registered in the first two months of 1996, and ITAR-TASS
reported on 19 March that in future banks will not be allowed to open
branches without TsBR approval. Khandruev said that legislation
facilitating the closure of insolvent banks is still lacking, forcing
the TsBR to rely on such measures as the voluntary merger of ailing
banks. Many observers are concerned that the flood of promissory notes
being issued to cover firm debts may reignite the inflationary spiral.
Khandruev merely noted that supervising these instruments is the
responsibility of the Finance Ministry, not the Central Bank. -- Peter

EXPORT RESTRICTIONS TO BE LIFTED. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov
confirmed on 19 March that from 1 July the Russian government will
remove all export restrictions, including tariffs, registration, and
quality testing, ITAR-TASS reported. The IMF made the liberalization
measures a condition for its $10.2 billion Extended Fund Facility,
announced last month. On 25-27 March the Council of Directors of the IMF
will meet and are expected to formally approve the loan. The government
seems to have backed away from its earlier announcement of a general
increase in import tariffs. Davydov said some will be lowered, some
raised, and the average will stay at 13%. Davydov added that the ruble
corridor will be maintained until hard currency reserves reach the level
of $20 billion (they are currently $13 billion). -- Peter Rutland


Mejlis (parliament) unanimously adopted a statement at its session on 19
March reserving the right to quit the CIS in the event that the Russian
State Duma adopts a further decision denouncing the Belavezha accords,
Turan reported. Former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov committed
his country to CIS membership in December 1991, despite a vote against
it by the existing parliament. The parliament subsequently voted not to
ratify the country's CIS membership; it then reversed that decision in
September 1993, following the election of President Heidar Aliev. -- Liz

NIYAZOV IN YEREVAN. Continuing his tour of the Transcaucasus, Turkmen
President Saparmurad Niyazov arrived in Yerevan for talks with his
Armenian counterpart, Levon Ter-Petrossyan, on 19 March, Armenian media
reported. The two leaders signed several agreements, including a state
credit for the supply of Turkmen gas to Armenia, an agreement on the
encouragement and mutual protection of investments, and a deal governing
the exchange of juridical information, Noyan Tapan reported. The agency
noted that Armenia's debt for gas supplied in 1993-94 has been
transformed into a five-year credit and Ashgabat will provide 1.7
billion cubic meters of gas to Armenia in 1996 (100 million more than
last year). The two presidents denounced the Russian State Duma's recent
decision to revoke the 1991 Belavezha accords as a "blatant attempt at
ideological revanchism." It was Niyazov's first public response to the
Duma's resolution. -- Lowell Bezanis

Minister Aleksei Bolshakov held talks with Kazakhstani President
Nursultan Nazarbayev and his counterpart, Nigmatzhan Isingarin, in
Almaty on 19 March on preparing a large-scale package of agreements to
deepen integration in the defense, socioeconomic, and humanitarian
spheres, Russian media reported on 20 March. Both sides signed a
protocol on cooperation in the fields of energy, electricity, and
railroad transport. Disagreements persist over the lease of the Baikonur
cosmodrome and a number of other military sites in Kazakhstan to the
Russian Defense Ministry, Radio Rossii reported on 19 March. Isingarin
admitted that no agreement has yet been reached between KAZCHROM and the
Russian metallurgical complex on the supply of chrome ore, oil, and gas
from Kazakhstan to Russia, due to competition between the two countries
on the international market. -- Bhavna Dave

[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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