Хорошее употребление времени делает время еще более драгоценным. - Ж.-Ж. Руссо

No. 65, Part I, 1 April 1996

New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Belgrade Committed to Sheltering War Criminals," by Stan Markotich
-  "Tajikistan:  The Unseen Cost," by Bruce Pannier
-  "CIS Integration:  A Gradual Approach," by Roger Kangas
-  "The Vagaries of Russia's Abkhaz Policy," by Liz Fuller
-  "Yeltsin's Chechen Peace Plan:  Can it Work?," by Liz Fuller

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YELTSIN UNVEILS CHECHEN PEACE PLAN. President Boris Yeltsin outlined his
plan for resolving the Chechen conflict during a speech broadcast on
Russian Public TV (ORT) on 31 March. Under the plan, Russian federal
forces would immediately cease hostilities and then gradually withdraw
from Chechnya at the same time as the Chechen leadership extends "zones
of security and peace." The second stage comprises the convocation of a
political forum of representatives from throughout Chechnya to prepare
for new parliamentary elections. In the third stage, Russian and Chechen
representatives will hold negotiations on Chechnya's future political
status. Yeltsin indicated that Chechnya could receive a greater degree
of autonomy than any other subject of the federation, and said he would
be prepared to conduct negotiations with representatives of Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev through an intermediary. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin will head a State Committee to coordinate the peace
program's implementation. The Suddeutsche Zeitung quoted Nezavisimaya
gazeta on 1 April as reporting that talks between Dudaev's emissaries
and a Russian delegation, mediated by the OSCE and Tatar President
Mintimer Shaimiev, would begin in the next few days. -- Liz Fuller


Gennadii Zyuganov announced that his party supported Yeltsin's peace
efforts in Chechnya but added that they should have been adopted much
earlier, ITAR-TASS reported 31 March. Duma member Galina Starovoitova
warned that "the party of war"--certain government members and Yeltsin's
advisers--would continue the fighting until it felt that the task was
complete, regardless of the president's statements. Former Supreme
Soviet Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov argued that "this is not a peace plan;
it's an attempt to calm people and not solve the problem." Duma member
Aleksandr Lebed described the proposal to have the Duma adopt an amnesty
for Chechen fighters as an attempt "to turn the deputies into fools,
while the president keeps his hands clean," NTV reported. Lebed warned
that it is impossible to stop the war after a year and a half of massive
aerial bombardment. -- Robert Orttung

of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan signed a series of
agreements in Moscow on 29 March that will further integrate their
states, Russian media reported. Officially titled the "Treaty on
Deepening Integration in Economic and Humanitarian Spheres," the 28-
article document covers issues ranging from common goods markets to
coordinating information systems. More importantly, the four countries
will also establish an Inter-Governmental Council of presidents, prime
ministers, and foreign ministers; an Integration Committee; and an
Inter-Parliamentary Committee. Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka will be the first to chair the council, while the Integration
Committee, made up of first deputy prime ministers, will be chaired by a
member of the Kazakhstani delegation. In a 27 March address to the
Belarusian parliament on state radio monitored by the BBC, Lukashenka
stressed that the agreement will not imperil the CIS or the specific
Russian-Belarusian accords to be signed on 2 April. The signatory states
noted other CIS states are welcome to join the agreements. -- Roger

claimed that "social-democracy of the west European type has no chance
in Russia," NTV reported on 31 March. The network argued that this
statement shows that Zyuganov is seeking the vote of hardliners.
Zyuganov asserted, however, that he had never made such a statement and
that NTV broadcasted this "false information" because its director, Igor
Malashenko, is now part of Yeltsin's re-election team, ITAR-TASS
reported. Zyuganov's explanation is not convincing though, because he
said that there are many types of social democracy in Europe and that
when speaking of its general principles, one must take into account the
country's "specific features." -- Robert Orttung

LEBED REJECTS ELECTED DUMA. Denouncing attempts to "ape the West,"
presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed argued that Russia does not need
an elected parliament, NTV reported on 30 March. Instead he called for a
"small, highly professional Duma that would be named by the president."
Lebed also suggested that the president should submit to a yearly
popular referendum and resign if he fails to gain the voters' support.
Lebed spoke at the congress of the Democratic Party of Russia which
nominated him for president. -- Robert Orttung

Yevgenii Primakov met with top Indian officials, including Prime
Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee,
during his 30-31 March trip to the subcontinent, Russian and Western
media reported. The two sides signed agreements on re-establishing a
"hot line" link between Moscow and New Delhi, scientific and
technological cooperation, and other cultural exchanges, and discussed
the Afghan conflict. Primakov noted that while Russia has spent
considerable energy on its relations with the West, it should begin to
"diversify" its foreign policy, ITAR-TASS reported. This year, trade
between the two countries is expected to reach $3 billion. According to
RFE/RL, India continues to purchase Russian military equipment, with an
estimated $3.5 billion worth of weapons contracts currently pending. --
Roger Kangas

RUSSIA PROTESTS WHITE HOUSE LEAKS. The U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Thomas
Pickering, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on 29 March to receive a
formal complaint about the "repeated" leakage of confidential materials
pertaining to U.S.-Russian relations, ITAR-TASS reported. The complaint
is presumed to be in response to a 27 March Washington Times report on a
Clinton-Yeltsin conversation in Cairo on 13 March. The White House had
already on 28 March instructed the Justice Department to investigate the
leak. -- Peter Rutland

prosecutor filed new charges against the nine men involved in the
seizure of the Avrasya Ferry in January, Reuters reported on 29 March.
The suspects were previously facing up to 21 years in prison on charges
of seizing a vessel, holding hostages, and carrying explosives; the new
charges include establishing a terrorist network. The six Turks, two
Chechens, and one ethnic Abkhaz from Georgia now face between 22 and 42
years of imprisonment. The Russian media has speculated that the Turkish
authorities would be lenient with the suspects; the new charges come
just as Turkey is attempting to improve Russian-Turkish relations. --
Lowell Bezanis

Russia's largest gilt cross onto the main cupola of the newly rebuilt
Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow on 29 March, Western agencies
reported. The cross weighs more than 3 metric tons and measures nine
meters high and six meters across. The reconstruction of the cathedral,
which was destroyed in 1931, began in January 1995. Now its cupolas are
decorated with five crosses covered with 1.5 kg of gold. The
construction works are due to be finished by the time Moscow celebrates
its 850th anniversary in 1997. The project will cost an estimated $250
million, of which $95 million has already been spent. -- Natalia
Gurushina and Robert Orttung

issued a statement that defends a diamond agreement with South Africa's
giant De Beers, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 March. Under the framework
agreement signed on 23 February, De Beers will sell 95% of Russia's
first $550 million worth of rough diamond exports and 80% of stones
above that figure. A break up with De Beers would have led to a price
war that Russia would lose due to its lack of marketing and sales
networks. The ministry noted that the deal will not harm Russia's
cutting industry, because it does not cover supplies of rough diamonds
to domestic cutters, nor exports and imports of cut diamonds. The
inclusion of stones shipped abroad for cutting in Russia's exports
should put an end to uncontrolled shipments of uncut diamonds and the
resulting loss of budgetary revenue. -- Natalia Gurushina

Russia's Committee on Precious Metals and Precious Stones
(Roskomdragmet), Yurii Kotlyar, has been appointed the acting chairman
of the committee, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 March. The position has been
vacant since 21 February, when President Yeltsin relieved Yevgenii
Bychkov from his duties. Bychkov now faces criminal charges on grounds
of abusing his position and violating currency regulations. In 1993 and
1994, Bychkov authorized the transfer of rough diamonds worth $150
million to the U.S. company Golden ADA for cutting. The company went
bankrupt, however, and neither money nor stones were not returned. --
Natalia Gurushina

international news agencies on 31 March, First Deputy Prime Minister
Oleg Soskovets said the government should pursue a sector-specific
industrial policy due to a lack of financial resources, ITAR-TASS
reported. The state should support industries oriented to the domestic
market, such as car manufacturing, textiles, food, and light industries.
Companies in sectors that produce potentially internationally
competitive goods--the aerospace industry and nuclear technologies--
should get state support to enter foreign markets. Producers of raw
materials and fuel should be self-financed. Soskovets also drew
attention to the inefficient use of World Bank loans. By the beginning
of 1996, Russia had signed 18 credit agreements with the bank worth $4.2
billion. However, only 8.2% of this sum ($244 million) was spent on
investment projects. -- Natalia Gurushina

SKEPTICISM ABOUT IMF LOAN. Economist Andrei Illarionov, a former adviser
to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, criticized the IMF's decision to
grant a $10.1 billion loan to Russia. Speaking to a conference in
Cambridge, U.K., on 30 March, Illarionov said, "This money will be
quickly and efficiently wasted. In the best case, it will go on
agricultural subsidies, in the worst case on military operations in
Chechnya." He did not share the IMF's view that the Russian economy will
start growing this year, saying that "1996 may not be the last year of
economic decline." -- Peter Rutland in Cambridge


did not participate in the 29 March signing of the Moscow integration
treaty stressed the need to preserve their independence, Russian and
Western media reported. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov called any
Turkmen involvement in an enhanced union "premature" and "unacceptable,"
and stressed that his country's independent foreign policy is based on
bilateral accords. Uzbek President Islam Karimov also remains skeptical
of moving too quickly. Prior to the signing, he cited his recent book,
"Our People's Path is the Path of Independence, Freedom, and Thorough-
Going Reform," which warns against efforts to revive the USSR, Narodnoye
slovo reported on 28 March. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov expressed
his country's readiness to join the customs union and willingness to
participate in a "single economic space," ITAR-TASS reported on 29
March. -- Roger Kangas

TURKEY OFFERS TO HELP ARMENIA. In a bid to encourage a resolution of the
conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, Ankara
has signaled its readiness to relieve Armenia's economic and energy
problems, AFP reported on 30 March. Last week, Turkish Prime Minister
Mesut Yilmaz said the Alican border gate with Armenia would be opened as
soon as Azerbaijan and Armenia "announce an agreement in principle," the
Turkish Daily News reported. Yilmaz also pledged to supply electricity
to Armenia if Yerevan agrees to shut down the Medzamor nuclear power
plant. Yilmaz is scheduled to visit Baku on 16 April at the invitation
of President Heidar Aliev, Turan reported on 30 March. -- Lowell Bezanis

20% PENSION HIKE IN KAZAKHSTAN. A 20% increase for pensioners of all
categories in Kazakhstan comes into effect on 1 April, First Deputy
Minister of Social Security Vladimir Romanov told ITAR-TASS. More than
2.8 million pensioners, who form 17% of the total population of the
country, will receive the hike. Monthly pensions in Kazakhstan ranging
1,200 to 3,000 tenge ($18 to $28) are paid irregularly due to severe
deficits in the pension fund. The pension fund is currently running a 5
billion tenge ($7.6 million) deficit, and the most "incorrigible
defaulters" are industrial enterprises, ITAR-TASS reported. Some 517
have been totally shut down, 1,222 have partially seized production and
about 396 plants are working on a part-time basis. Last week, the
government increased the minimum wage by 20% (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27
March 1996). -- 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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