It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 67, Part I, 3 April 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
- "Bulgarian Political Class Divided over Yeltsin's Remark," by Stefan Krause
- "Balkan Defense Minitsers Meet in Tirana," by Fabian Schmidt

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
TERMS OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN TREATY. The seven-page "Treaty on Forming a
Community," signed in Moscow on 2 April calls for the formation of an
integrated political and economic community based on the "sovereignty
and equality" of the member-states, ITAR-TASS reported. The two sides
agreed to coordinate their foreign policies and cooperate in policing
their common outside border. They also pledged to form a common economic
space with harmonized labor, pension, customs, taxation, and investment
policies by the end of 1997. The joint activities of the community will
be directed by a Supreme Council, consisting of top government
officials. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka will head the
council for the next two years, while Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin will chair its executive committee, which will implement
the agreement. Joint projects initiated by the community will be
financed from its budget, provided by contributions from the two member
states. -- Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

QUESTIONS OVER NAME OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN COMMUNITY. Several Western and
Russian news agencies have been describing the new Russo-Belarusian
entity as the "Community of Sovereign Republics," abbreviated as CSR in
English and SSR in Russian. However, ,Presidential foreign policy aide
Dmitrii Ryurikov told NTV on 2 April that this term should not be used.
Ryurikov insisted that the "SSR" abbreviation is not in the text of the
treaty, which he said was titled "Agreement on the Formation of a
Community." A preliminary draft of the agreement obtained by OMRI said
it would form a "union (community)" between the two states: the final
official name of the new entity remains unclear. Russian media are using
the term "Russo-Belarusian Community." Russia and Belarus declared that
henceforth 2 April will be a public holiday marking the treaty signing.
-- Scott Parrish

REACTION TO RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN TREATY. The reaction by Russian
politicians to the agreement signed on 2 April was generally positive.
The leaders of both houses of the Federal Assembly, Gennadii Seleznev
and Yegor Stroev, hailed it and promised speedy ratification, ITAR-TASS
reported. Communist presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov praised the
agreement, telling NTV that it outlines "concrete steps" toward
strengthening bilateral economic ties, a view seconded by Vladimir
Zhirinovsky, the Liberal Democratic Party leader. Liberals such as
Galina Starovoitova and Boris Federov also expressed approval of the
document. Some others voiced skepticism, however, with an Ekho Moskvy
commentary wondering about the consequences of closer links to a country
in deep economic crisis led by a president who has restricted
independent media, trampled on the political opposition, and praised
Adolf Hitler as a positive role model. -- Scott Parrish

YAVLINSKII SUPPORTERS SPLIT RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE. The decision of
Russia's Democratic Choice members Sergei Kovalev and Arkadii Murashev
to support Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii was made in violation of
the party council's instructions, Duma member Sergei Yushenkov told NTV
on 2 April. Yushenkov suggested that Kovalev and Murashev suspend their
membership in the Yavlinskii group until Russia's Democratic Choice
decides whom it will back in the presidential campaign. Murashev replied
that he and Kovalev would not suspend their membership because they
decided to support Yavlinskii as "private citizens," not as party
members. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN DESIGNATES COSSACK LEADER. President Yeltsin appointed Anatolii
Semenov as the head of the main department of Cossack units subordinate
to the Russian president, ITAR-TASS reported 2 April. Yeltsin created
the department on 20 January 1996 to improve government-Cossack
relations. The department consists of 35 people and will coordinate with
a 2 million-strong force of Cossack fighters, Reuters reported. The
department is part of Yeltsin's effort to win the backing of various
interest groups among the Russian electorate. -- Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS LOSE GROUND IN ALTAI LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Communist faction
in the Altai Krai legislature lost about 10 seats in the 50-seat body,
failing to meet expectations for a left-wing victory in the krai's 31
March elections, Radio Rossii reported on 2 April. Even a pre-election
visit by Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov did not help. A
centrist bloc of Our Home Is Russia and Yabloko deputies is now about
the same size as the leftists. Russia's Democratic Choice and the
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia did not win a single seat.
Independent deputies who have yet to announce their political leanings
will probably determine the direction of the legislature. -- Robert
Orttung

DUDAEV COOL OVER YELTSIN'S PEACE PLAN. In an interview with Turan on 2
April, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev dismissed Yeltsin's Chechen
peace plan as "tactical tricks" on the eve of the Russian presidential
election campaign, and stated that talks with Russian representatives at
this point would be tantamount to "surrender." He said talks would be
possible only after the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of
Russian forces from Chechnya. Fighting continued in various parts of
Chechnya despite the announced ceasefire by Russian forces that
supposedly went into effect at midnight on 31 March, as Chechen fighters
have attacked federal positions. -- Liz Fuller

COSTS OF CHECHEN WAR. The federal government spent 6 trillion rubles
($1.2 billion) on the economic and social reconstruction of Chechnya in
1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 March. There are no reliable figures for
military outlays, but the operational costs of the 40,000 or so troops
in the breakaway republic can be assumed to have been several times that
amount. A UN Human Rights Commission report released on 2 April
estimated the civilian casualties in the first five months of the war at
26,550, citing a Russian non-governmental organization source, AFP
reported. Tatyana Regent, the head of the Federal Migration Service,
said on Radio Rossii on 1 April that in the past year her service has
registered 437,000 refugees from Chechnya -- about one third of the pre-
war population. Another 1 million refugees and forced migrants arrived
from the former USSR. -- Peter Rutland

CLINTON DENIES TAKING SIDES IN RUSSIAN ELECTIONS. In response to U.S.
media allegations of a "secret deal" with President Yeltsin, U.S.
President Bill Clinton declared that he is not taking sides in the
Russian presidential elections, Reuters reported on 2 April. On 27
March, The Washington Times, citing leaked documents, alleged that when
Clinton met Yeltsin at the 13 March anti-terrorism summit in Egypt, he
had pledged to support Yeltsin's re-election in exchange for the Russian
president's promise to resolve "difficult" bilateral disputes, including
one involving U.S. poultry exports to Russia, much of which are produced
in the president's home state of Arkansas. Both Russian and U.S.
spokesmen have refuted the report, but the Russian Foreign Ministry
criticized the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for "leaking" confidential
bilateral discussions, and the Clinton administration has opened a
Justice Department investigation into how the paper obtained classified
information. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA BALKS AT PROVIDING ARMS SALES DATA. Russia's refusal to disclose
details of it arms exports has threatened to derail the Vienna talks on
establishing a new control regime for military exports, Reuters reported
on 2 April. Talks on inaugurating the so-called Wassenaar Arrangement
were to take place between 31 Western and former communist states. The
new apparatus is designed to replace the old COCOM system set up by NATO
to prevent the transfer of advanced military technology to the former
Warsaw Pact. In the preliminary talks last December, Russia had agreed
to provide details of its foreign arms sales. Apparently afraid that
they will lose valuable hard-currency deals, the Russians have reneged
on this pledge according to diplomatic sources in Vienna. -- Doug Clarke

CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS INTEGRATION MEASURES. Following on the
heels of the 29 March quadripartite treaty and concurrent with the 2
April Russian-Belarusian agreement, the CIS foreign ministers met in
Moscow to discuss military cooperation among member states. The
ministers are seeking ways to implement the principles of the May 1992
Tashkent Treaty on Collective Security, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April.
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov underscored the value of
integrating military policies. The foreign ministers also rejected the
Georgian call to have peacekeepers in the Abkhaz region play a more
active role, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 2 April. -- Roger
Kangas

GOVERNMENT APPROVES SPACE ROCKET DEAL. The Russian government has
approved a deal for the Russian aerospace company NPO Energomash to
provide RD-180 rocket engines to Pratt and Whitney that will be used in
a new-generation U.S. space launch vehicle, a senior Russian Space
Agency official told Reuters on 1 April. Aleksandr Kuznetsov said the
controversial deal "has a green light." In January, the U.S. aerospace
firm Lockheed Martin chose the RD-180 to power its new Atlas IIAP
vehicle. The Russian military strongly opposed the deal, warning that
the technology transfer involved would harm Russia's security. -- Doug
Clarke

SOCCER PRESIDENT BANNED FOR SEASON. Nikolai Tolstykh, the head of the
Professional Soccer League and the chairman of Moscow's Dinamo club, was
barred on 2 April from working as club president for the rest of the
season, AFP reported. Tolstykh was accused of punching the referee after
a match with Spartak Alania in which a penalty kick was awarded to
Alania. -- Peter Rutland

YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE TO SUPPORT FINANCIAL INDUSTRIAL GROUPS. President
Yeltsin has signed a decree aimed at stimulating the development of
financial-industrial groups (FPG), Segodnya reported on 2 April. The
decree promises financial assistance from the federal budget for FPGs
involved in federal economic programs. It also facilitates the
concentration of assets in the head company of the FPG, and the transfer
of federally-owned shares to them. As of December 1995, there were 27
FPGs in Russia uniting 414 firms and 65 financial institutions.
Continuing cuts in the federal investment program, however, has put a
question mark over the decree's implementation. -- Natalia Gurushina

GOVERNMENT REPAYS WAGE DEBT . . . The federal government managed to pay
off its wage debt to budget organizations by the 31 March deadline set
by President Yeltsin, Izvestiya reported on 2 April. Transfers in March
from the federal budget for this purpose totaled 20.7 trillion rubles
($4.3 billion). A total of 7.9 trillion rubles was spent on current wage
payments, 8.1 trillion rubles on wage debts, and 4.7 trillion rubles on
loans to regions to cover other wage payments. However, having spent all
its available resources on wage payments, the government does not have
money to finance other aspects of budget organizations' activities, such
as fuel and energy bills. -- Natalia Gurushina

. . . BUT PENSION ARREARS MOUNT. Despite the highly-publicized campaign
to clear wage arrears, there is a persisting problem of late pension
payments. At the beginning of April, the Federal Pension Fund was short
of 3.8 trillion rubles ($780 million), ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April.
The state still owes pensioners 1.6 trillion rubles for the period from
1992 to 1994, 3 trillion rubles for 1995, and more than 1.5 trillion
rubles for the first three months of 1996. A spokesman for the fund,
which is technically separate from the federal budget, appealed to the
government for financial assistance. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN ACCUSES ARMENIA OF ABETTING LEZGIN TERRORISTS. The
Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security has released the results of
its investigation into the bomb explosion on a train in the Baku metro
in March 1994, in which 14 people were killed, Turan reported on 2
April. The investigators concluded that the explosion was perpetrated by
members of the Dagestan-based Lezgin separatist organization Sadval, at
the instigation of the Armenian security service, who had provided them
with the necessary training at a base in Armenia in 1992. Five persons
directly involved in the Baku bomb attack and six more who had undergone
training in Armenia were subsequently arrested. Since its creation in
1991, Sadval has campaigned for the creation of an independent Lezgin
state comprising parts of southern Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan,
which is home to 150,000-200,000 ethnic Lezgins. -- Liz Fuller

KYRGYZ INTERIOR MINISTER QUITS AFTER SCANDAL. Kyrgyz Interior Minister
Madalbek Moldashev offered his resignation following a scandal
surrounding his offer of new jobs to two officials who had been sacked
by the Kyrgyz government, Reuters reported on 2 April. Moldashev
tendered his resignation after the newspaper Vechernii Bishkek published
a secretly recorded conversation in which he made the promise to the two
officials. The Kyrgyz government criticized Moldashev's "two-faced"
appointment policy. President Askar Akayev is expected to sign a decree
accepting Moldashev's resignation, but no successor has been found. --
Bhavna Dave

SHEVARDNADZE IN ANKARA. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze arrived
in Ankara on 3 April to sign several unspecified agreements with his
Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel,Yeni Yuzyil reported the same day.
Speaking during his weekly radio address two days earlier, Shevardnadze
said he was surprised that Georgian-Turkish relations had developed at
such a "great pace" in the past two to three years. During his visit,
which follows immediately on the heels of his trip to Moscow, the two
sides will likely discuss Turkey's hope to move Caspian Sea oil through
Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey; the timing of Shevardnadze's visit is
likely connected to Moscow's apparent willingness to accept this
scenario. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev said on 3
April that Russia has no objections to the construction of the planned
Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, providing that part of Azerbaijan's oil is also
exported north through Russia, ITAR-TASS reported, citing the Anatolian
News Agency. -- Lowell Bezanis and Liz Fuller

[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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