Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 64, Part I, 29 March 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Romania to Apply for Full NATO Membership," by Dan Ionescu
-  "Russo-Belarusian Union:  New Beginning, or Dead End?," by Peter Rutland
-  "Hungary's OECD Membership is Now Official," by Zsofia Szilagyi

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
FOUR CIS PRESIDENTS MEET IN MOSCOW. The presidents of Russia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan met in Moscow on 29 March for a one-day
conference on regional integration, Russian media reported. Among the
issues discussed were the customs union, military cooperation, and
social and energy matters, RFE/RL reported. While each leader has
indicated that their countries will remain sovereign states, they also
recognized that existing economic links necessitate greater cooperation.
Regional security, as discussed at the 27 March CIS defense ministers'
meeting, is another aspect of this cooperation (see OMRI Daily Digest,
28 March 1996). Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev stressed that such efforts
do not signal the return of the USSR but rather the "coming together of
its former republics on a new basis," ITAR-TASS reported. Russia's
increased importance in these measures was underscored by the
announcement that the CIS headquarters is scheduled to move to Moscow
from Minsk in 1998. -- Roger Kangas
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN CRITICIZES RED PROFESSORS. . . President Boris Yeltsin charged
that "some social science instructors remain ideologists and active
functionaries for parties of a communist orientation" in a speech to the
Union of Rectors on 28 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin said that it
is unacceptable to pine for the past and "not understand that the so-
called tranquillity was paid for with camps, the destruction of entire
social groups, the exile of the best minds, and the devastation of the
soul." He also accused the Communists of organizing party cells at the
universities, an illegal activity following the 1991 ban on party
activities in schools, and said the responsible rectors will be
prosecuted, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Robert Orttung

. . .YELTSIN DECREES MORE FUNDS FOR SCIENCE AND EDUCATION. The same day
he addressed the congress, President Yeltsin issued a decree outlining a
number of new measures to support science and higher education,
Rossiiskie vesti reported on 29 March. The decree provides for 100
presidential grants worth a total of 6 billion rubles ($1.2 million) to
be awarded annually to young scientists and calls on the government to
draft a law on higher retirement pensions for professors and
researchers. Yeltsin also ordered the transfer to higher educational
establishments of state-owned buildings they have leased for over 10
years. Scientists have repeatedly protested underfunding of their
sector. -- Penny Morvant

CHUBAIS BACKS YELTSIN. Former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais backs a second term for President Yeltsin as the only way to
prevent Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov from becoming
president, Reuters reported on 28 March. Chubais said that he is
actively participating in the campaign and that he meets with Yeltsin
more often now than when he was in power. Yeltsin sacked Chubais on 16
January, blaming his conduct of economic policy for the poor performance
of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia bloc in the
December State Duma election, when it won only 10% of the vote. --
Robert Orttung

CLINTON PART OF RE-ELECT YELTSIN TEAM? In a private meeting during the
anti-terrorism summit in Egypt on 13 March, U.S. President Bill Clinton
promised that he would help President Yeltsin win re-election, according
to a 27 March Washington Times report,  based on a leaked State
Department memorandum written by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe
Talbott. Yeltsin supposedly appealed for U.S. support, and Clinton said
that "He wanted to make sure that everything the United States did would
have a positive impact, and nothing should have a negative impact."
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said that the report is "inaccurate,"
since the U.S. is keen to preserve good relations with Russia but is not
specifically concerned with Yeltsin's re-election chances, Reuters
reported. -- Peter Rutland

DEPUTY MAYOR TO RUN AGAINST SOBCHAK IN ST. PETERSBURG. Deputy Mayor
Vladimir Yakovlev announced on 27 March that he would run against Mayor
Anatolii Sobchak in St. Petersburg's 19 May gubernatorial elections,
RFE/RL reported. Yakovlev said that Sobchak speaks of democratic
principles but fails to act on them. He expects Sobchak to fire him and
blame him for many of the city's problems. Yakovlev's program focuses on
uniting Leningrad Oblast with St. Petersburg, economic development, and
road-building. Sobchak has a long history of conflict with his
subordinates, including former Vice Mayor Vyacheslav Shcherbakov. --
Robert Orttung

SUPPORT FOR REFORMERS WEAK OUTSIDE MAJOR CITIES. The December Duma
elections show that reformers are losing support in Russia's regional
capitals, presidential adviser Leonid Smirnyagin argued in Rossiiskie
vesti on 29 March. Moscow and St. Petersburg are pro-reform, but they
have lost their influence over the capitals of the other federation
subjects, who are now more influenced by the conservative rural areas
where they are located. The elections also suggest that, contrary to the
conventional wisdom,  regional elites are very weak in their ability to
influence the attitudes of the local public. The governors of the
Russian areas are less influential in this regard than the leaders of
the republics because the republican leaders are involved in political
dispute resolution on a day to day basis while the governors tend to
function as economic managers. -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN FORCES CONTINUE OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA. Russian federal troops
continued their artillery and aerial bombing attacks on the villages of
Bamut, Orekhovo, and Stary Achkhoy on 28 March in an attempt to inflict
the maximum damage on forces loyal to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev
prior to President Yeltsin's unveiling of his master peace plan for
Chechnya on 31 March, Russian media reported. Three other mountain
villages in southeastern Chechnya, where Dudaev's headquarters are
reportedly now located, have been surrounded by Russian troops.
Izvestiya on 29 March published details of alleged routes for
clandestine arms shipments from Turkey and Iran via Azerbaijan to
Chechnya; however, Yeltsin's adviser on military affairs, Boris Kuzyk,
told Ekho Moskvy on 28 March that it would be impossible for the Turkish
government to re-export to Chechnya weaponry it had purchased from
Russia. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA REVIVES OLD TIES. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov left for a
three-day visit to India on 29 March, where he is expected to sign $3.5
billion worth of contracts, mainly for weapons, Reuters reported. It was
also announced that India will revive the direct "hot line" telephone
link with Moscow, which was disconnected after the collapse of the
Soviet Union.  India accounted for 40% of Russia's weapons sales in
1995, AFP reported on 28 March. Meanwhile, an MI5 report released in
Britain said that Russia has revived its intelligence activities in that
country, AFP reported on 29 March. MI5 is obliged to devote 20% of its
resources to monitoring Russian agents. -- Peter Rutland

BUMPER YEAR FOR ARMS EXPORTS. Russian arms producers have orders for
more than $7 billion in foreign sales this year according to Aleksander
Kotelkin, the general director of the state-owned Rosvooruzhenie arms
export company, Russian media reported on 28 March. This compares with
1995 sales of $2.8 billion. ITAR-TASS quoted Kotelkin as saying that his
company had invested heavily in domestic defense enterprises in 1995 to
support promising export producers. It also dramatically increased its
spending on advertising, and has offices in 30 countries. -- Doug Clarke

SOLDIER IN FAR EAST STARVES TO DEATH. A conscript serving in the army in
the Far East has died of starvation, a press officer of the Far Eastern
Military District told ITAR-TASS on 28 March. The official cause of his
death was reported to be "acute cardiac insufficiency with a deficit of
the weight of the body." The press service said that the district's
Military Council had fired the commander of Mikhail Kubarskii's regiment
along with several other medical and commissary officers. In 1992, four
Russian naval cadets in the Far East died of starvation. Military
commanders have complained that they have not received enough money to
feed their troops adequately while press reports of corruption in food
procurement are not uncommon. -- Doug Clarke

THE NUMBER OF FOREIGN TOURISTS DOUBLES IN 1995. The number of foreign
tourists in Russia in 1995 reached 1.8 million, double the 1994 figure,
ITAR-TASS reported on 27 March. This figure is still rather low, but the
rapidly developing service sector and transport infrastructure may boost
the tourist industry. There are currently 27 top class hotels under
construction in Moscow, and regions most popular with tourists, from
Kamchatka to the Black Sea resorts, are getting their own international
airports. The number of Russians traveling abroad in 1995 increased only
by 2% and totaled 2.4 million. Of this number, 30% were participants in
package tours for shoppers to such destinations as Turkey and Bahrain.
-- Natalia Gurushina

IMF LOAN CONDITIONS. The managing director of the IMF, Michel Camdessus,
told a Washington press conference on 27 March that the $10.1 billion
loan approved on 26 March may have to be withdrawn if a Communist
candidate wins the June presidential election, Western agencies
reported. However, he said if a Communist-led government adhered to the
terms laid down as conditions for the loan, the disbursements could
continue, but a wave of renationalization would not be acceptable.
Yusuke Horiguchi, the IMF official who negotiated the loan, said that
import duties should be cut by one-third over three years, Reuters
reported. Russia has agreed to abolish export duties from 1 April,
except for oil which will have its export duties removed from 1 July.
Loan conditions also reportedly include the abolition of Gazprom's tax-
free stabilization fund. Camdessus insisted that the IMF does not
consider the political impact of its loans, but Russia's Communists are
likely to take a different view. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RESULTS OF AKAYEV-YELTSIN MEETING. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and
his Kyrgyz counterpart, Askar Akayev, signed several agreements in
Moscow on 28 March that are meant to increase cooperation in economic,
financial, and defense spheres, Russian and Western sources reported.
Anticipating a subsequent meeting with the leaders of Kazakhstan and
Belarus, both members of a customs union with Russia, the Russian-Kyrgyz
agreements remove tariffs and other limitations to trade between the two
countries. Yeltsin called Kyrgyzstan "a model for all the CIS
countries," noting that many of the more than 100,000 Russians who left
Kyrgyzstan when reforms began there, are now thinking of returning.
Earlier, Akayev met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to discuss
migrant workers, conversion of national currencies, the transmission of
Russian television and radio broadcasts in Kyrgyzstan, and cooperation
in electricity and air connections. They agreed to set up an inter-
governmental commission on economic cooperation. -- Bruce Pannier

TALKS RESUME ON CASPIAN PIPELINE CONSORTIUM. Talks on the future of the
Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), founded by Russia, Kazakhstan, and
Oman to transport oil from western Siberia and Kazakhstan to Black Sea
ports in Russia, resumed in Moscow on 28 March with a visit by a
delegation from the Oman Finance Ministry, ITAR-TASS reported. The
Russian Ministry of Fuel and Energy is working to reach an agreement on
the size of the respective shares in the Caspian deal that will be
allotted to the three founding states of the CPC and foreign oil
companies. According to a preliminary accord, 50% will be held by CPC
countries, and the remaining half will be distributed between the
Russian oil companies Rosneft, Transneft, and LUKoil, and the Western
oil companies Agip, Mobil, Arco, and Chevron. The participation of Shell
and Amoco is also being discussed. -- Bhavna Dave

TUBERCULOSIS CASES INCREASE IN KAZAKHSTAN. The incidence of tuberculosis
in Kazakhstan is about seven times that in the West, with at least
50,000 people, or 67 out of every 100,000, suffering from the disease,
RFE/RL reported on 28 March. Aldesh Zhunsbekov, director of the
Kazakhstani Research Institute of Tuberculosis, said that 4,500 deaths
from tuberculosis were reported last year, up from 3,000 the previous
year. He added that medication shortages and inadequate government
support, in addition to poor nutrition and bad hygienic conditions, are
to blame. -- Bhavna Dave

WARM RELATIONS BETWEEN ASHGABAT AND TEL AVIV. Relations between
Turkmenistan and Israel are "not just good but even excellent,"
according to the new Israeli ambassador to Turkmenistan, Shmuel Meir.
His remarks and equally warm replies from Turkmen President Saparmurat
Niyazov were reported by the state-controlled Turkmen Press news agency
on 27 March following a meeting. The flourishing relationship between
Tel Aviv and Ashgabat does not appear to be impinging on Turkmenistan's
close ties with Iran. -- Lowell Bezanis

[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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