What you can become, you are already. - Friedrich Hebbel
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 58, Part I, 21 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YELTSIN ASKS DUMA TO REAFFIRM RUSSIA'S LEGAL STATUS. In response to the
State Duma's earlier decision to renounce the Belavezha accords,
President Boris Yeltsin asked the Duma to approve a draft law that would
confirm the validity of Russia's laws and international obligations,
including the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian and Western media
reported on March 20. The Duma agreed to hold a second debate on the
Belavezha accords during its 22 March session following a request by the
Federation Council. Deputies rejected a sarcastic proposal put forward
by Russia's Democratic Choice Deputy Sergei Yushenkov that the Duma
dissolve itself and immediately call a session of the USSR Congress of
People's Deputies, the Soviet-era legislature. -- Laura Belin
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN PLANS CAMPAIGN STRATEGY. President Yeltsin announced that he
will lead a council to coordinate activities for his own re-election
campaign, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 March. A number of organizations have
been created to help run Yeltsin's campaign, including a "presidential
campaign headquarters" headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets and a "movement of public support" for Yeltsin headed by
former Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov, but the precise duties of these
organizations have never been defined. ITAR-TASS speculated that
presidential adviser Viktor Ilyushin is behind attempts to reorganize
Yeltsin's campaign apparatus. Meanwhile, VCIOM director Yurii Levada
announced that his center's most recent poll shows Yeltsin further
narrowing Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's lead; Zyuganov now
beats Yeltsin in a head to head contest by just 37% to 29%. -- Laura
Belin

YABLOKO MOTION TO REMOVE SELEZNEV FAILS. Yabloko Deputy Yelena Mizulina
put forward a motion to remove Gennadii Seleznev from the post of Duma
speaker, but only 88 deputies voted to put the question on the Duma's
agenda, with 207 voting against, Russian media reported on 20 March.
Mizulina claimed that Seleznev changed the 15 March resolution
denouncing the Belavezha accords before signing it, in violation of Duma
procedures. In January, some Russian observers blamed Yabloko deputies
for allowing Seleznev to be elected speaker; at that time, Yabloko
backed its own candidate Vladimir Lukin for the post rather than Ivan
Rybkin, Seleznev's closest rival in the voting. -- Laura Belin

DUMA SAYS YELTSIN REJECTION OF LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Duma passed a
resolution charging that Yeltsin's practice of sometimes returning laws
passed by the Duma "without consideration" violates Article 107 of the
constitution, which stipulates that the president must either sign laws
sent to him by parliament or veto them, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 March.
Yeltsin occasionally sends bills back to parliament, citing legal flaws
within the documents or procedural irregularities in how they were
passed. -- Laura Belin

CHERNOMYRDIN: POWER SHARING MAY STOP IF COMMUNISTS WIN PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTIONS. After signing a power sharing treaty with the Komi Republic,
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin warned that the signing of such
treaties may be brought to a halt if the Communists win the June
presidential election, since they support the nationalization of
property and strong federal control over the regions, Russian media
reported on 20 March. Komi became the 12th federation subject to sign an
agreement on power sharing with the federal government. Chernomyrdin and
Komi Head Yurii Spiridonov signed a series of agreements relating to
Komi foreign trade, international relations, agriculture, energy,
budget, and property relations between the republic and Moscow. -- Anna
Paretskaya

ST. PETERSBURG MAYORAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD IN MAY. The St. Petersburg
Legislative Assembly has approved a presidential decree setting 19 May
as the date for the city's mayoral elections by a vote of 27-6, ITAR-
TASS reported on 20 March. Last week, the legislature failed to approve
the decree due to a walkout staged by the Communist deputies (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 14 March 1996). This time, the Communist deputies also
protested the early date of the mayoral poll, and the Yabloko assembly
faction is preparing to appeal the election date change in court. The
leaders of both factions are among the mayoral candidates and are
unhappy that their campaign time has been shortened. -- Anna Paretskaya

NATO AND RUSSIA SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana and Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu
on 20 March signed an agreement on cooperation in dealing with civil
emergencies, Russian and Western agencies reported. Solana, on an
official visit to Moscow, also met with Defense Minister Pavel Grachev.
Grachev announced an agreement "in principle" on establishing a
permanent Russian mission at NATO headquarters, and added that "we will
find closer forms of cooperation" with the alliance. However, the
Russian minister admitted that the two sides still have "different
approaches" to the possible eastward enlargement of the alliance. Solana
reaffirmed that NATO's decision to expand "had been taken long ago," and
would not be affected by either the recent Duma resolution denouncing
the Belavezha accords, or the upcoming Russian presidential polls. --
Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN COOPERATION COMMISSION MEETS. Ukrainian Prime Minister
Yevhen Marchuk and his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, co-
chaired the first session of the recently-formed bilateral commission in
Moscow on 20 March, Russian agencies reported. The session dealt with
the draft of the Russian-Ukrainian friendship treaty, the division of
the Black Sea Fleet, bilateral economic ties, and other agreements due
to be signed during President Yeltsin's scheduled April visit to Kyiv.
Afterwards, both leaders said the long-awaited friendship treaty is
"practically ready" for signature. On the same day, Vice-Admiral Viktor
Kravchenko, newly appointed commander of the Black Sea Fleet, met in
Kyiv with the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Vice-Admiral Volodymyr
Bezkorovainy, to discuss the division of the fleet and associated
infrastructure, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Scott Parrish

CIA CHIEF WARNS OF POOR NUCLEAR SECURITY IN RUSSIA. CIA Director John
Deutch recently told a Senate committee that security at Russian nuclear
facilities is deteriorating, the Voice of America reported on 20 March.
He was quoted as testifying that these conditions pose a "serious
threat" for the diversion of nuclear technology and fissile materials to
countries seeking to develop nuclear arms. He said that while most
reports of nuclear materials being smuggled out of Russia have been
bogus, some have involved small quantities of weapons-grade nuclear
material. He urged continued support for the programs to provide
financial and technical assistance to the Russians in this area and
warned that a significant diversion of weapons material would create a
"crisis of enormous proportions." -- Doug Clarke

JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Yukihiko Ikeda, the first Japanese
Foreign Minister to visit Moscow in two years, met with his Russian
counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, and President Yeltsin on 20 March,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Ikeda gave Yeltsin a personal
message from Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, expressing
support for the reform policies of the Russian president. Yeltsin and
Ikeda reaffirmed their commitment to the 1993 Tokyo Declaration, which
calls for a speedy resolution of the territorial dispute over the four
southernmost Kuril islands. Primakov later pledged continued
demilitarization of the islands, saying only 3,500 Russian troops are
stationed there, a 50% reduction since 1992. Ikeda also co-chaired the
first session of a new Russo-Japanese trade commission, at which First
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said agreement had been reached on
the use of a $500 million loan that Tokyo had granted Moscow earlier
this year. -- Scott Parrish

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Greek Foreign Minister Theodhoros
Pangalos met with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, and Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin during his 18-20 March official visit to
Moscow, Russian agencies reported. Among other issues, Pangalos's
discussions focused on the proposed construction of a pipeline for the
export of Russian and Caspian oil to international markets via Greece
and Bulgaria. The project has hit some snags recently because of a
Greek-Bulgarian disputes over the terms of its construction. ITAR-TASS
also pointedly noted that Pangalos had expressed reserve about the
possible eastward expansion of NATO, saying it would "directly or
indirectly have an anti-Russian character." As a NATO member, Greece's
approval would be required for the admission of new members. -- Scott
Parrish

LEADING ARMS DESIGNER MURDERED. Leading weapons designer Valentin
Smirnov was shot dead in the entrance hall of his apartment block in
Yekaterinburg on 20 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Smirnov, one of the
designers of the S-300 air defense missile system, headed the Novator
military enterprise in the city. A number of other prominent figures in
the military-industrial complex have been murdered over the past 18
months, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Penny Morvant

DUMA RAISES MINIMUM WAGE, PENSION. The Duma voted on 20 March to raise
the minimum wage by 20% to 75,900 rubles ($16) a month as of 1 April,
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. The bill was unanimously approved in
the second and third readings. Ekho Moskvy noted that the deputies had
originally sought to raise the minimum wage as of 1 March and that the
new version constitutes a compromise measure. Earlier, the Duma also
overcame the Federation Council veto on a bill raising the minimum
pension by 20% as of 1 March--a decision that provoked a storm of
protest in the government. Presidential economics adviser Aleksandr
Livshits said it was unaffordable and would result in further delays in
pension payments. -- Penny Morvant

FOREIGN INVESTMENT REACHES $7.9 BILLION. Foreign investment in Russia in
1995 was $2.8 billion, a 180% increase over 1994, Western agencies
reported on 19 March, citing the Economics Ministry. The total foreign
capital invested in Russia in 1991-1995 now stays at $7.9 billion. In
1995, direct investment accounted for $1.9 billion, portfolio investment
for $30 million, and foreign loans for $890 million. Moscow attracted
the largest proportion of investment--47%. Oil-producing regions
Tatarstan and Tyumen (Siberia) got 5.7% and 3.6% of capital,
respectively. U.S. companies provided 29% of investment. They were
followed by Swiss (15%) and German(10%) firms. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MORE CIS TELEGRAMS TO YELTSIN CONDEMNING DUMA VOTE. The leaders of eight
CIS states have sent official notices to President Boris Yeltsin
expressing their opposition to the Russian State Duma's vote denouncing
the Belavezha accords, Russian and Western media reported. Armenian
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan called on Yeltsin to "take the necessary
protective measures" to preserve the CIS, and Uzbek President Islam
Karimov stated that the decision is a call to revive a "totalitarian
system." Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and Kazakhstani President
Nursultan Nazarbayev underscored the damage that this action could have
on the "current integration" taking place among some CIS states, while
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev focused on the negative effect the
vote will have on "democratic reforms." No official telegrams have been
sent by Turkmenistan, Belarus, and Tajikistan, although Turkmen
President Saparmurad Niyazov has publicly denounced the Duma's decision
in recent interviews. -- Roger Kangas

NIYAZOV IN GEORGIA. On the last leg of his three-country tour of the
Caucasus, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov arrived in Tbilisi on 19
March for talks with his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze,
Western agencies reported. The two leaders reached an agreement the same
day to reschedule Georgia's roughly $500 million debt for natural gas
over three years, Western agencies reported. The two leaders also issued
a joint statement against the Russian State Duma's 15 March decision to
revoke the 1991 Belavezha accords, describing it as a "dangerous attempt
to restore an anti-democratic totalitarian regime." -- Lowell Bezanis

INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONCLUDES VISIT TO UZBEKISTAN. Indian Foreign
Minister Pranab Kumar Mukerjee wrapped up his three-day official visit
to Tashkent on 21 March, during which he signed bilateral accords on
trade and technical and cultural exchanges with his Uzbek counterpart,
Abdulaziz Kamilov, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 March. Mukerjee stressed the
"important strategic role" that Uzbekistan plays in Central Asia. --
Roger Kangas

KAZAKHSTAN REJECTS AMNESTY FIGURES ON EXECUTIONS. Kazakhstan has
rejected an Amnesty International report that there were 101 executions
in the country in 1995, Reuters reported on 21 March (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 11 March 1996). Mikhail Baranov, head of President Nursultan
Nazarbayev's clemency department, said that only 63 people were executed
last year, adding that Amnesty had confused the total number of those
who were sentenced with the number of actual executions. Baranov said
that 2,447 murders were committed in 1995, and that the sharp rise in
violent crime justified the death penalty. -- 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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