One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 69, Part I, 5 April 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
- "Shevardnadze's Ankara Visit Highlights Pipeline Problems," by Lowell
  Bezanis and Liz Fuller

Available on the World Wide Web:
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest.
Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and
Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern
Europe, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues
of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available
through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CONVENTIONAL ARMS TALKS IN VIENNA COLLAPSE. Russian objections have
torpedoed multilateral discussions in Vienna on creating a new
international regime to control worldwide exports of arms and weapons
technologies, Western agencies reported on 4 April. Russia, wary of
interference in its arms trade, rejected a U.S. proposal that members of
the new regime, called the Wassenaar agreement (see OMRI Daily Digest,
20 December 1995), give early notification of arms sales. While U.S.
officials blamed Russia for the deadlock, it should be noted that France
also had objections to the U.S. initiative. It is also ironic that the
U.S. emerged from the talks looking like an advocate of arms control,
since it exported about $29 billion worth of arms in 1995--about 10
times more than Russia. -- Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN STUMPS IN COMMUNIST STRONGHOLD. President Boris Yeltsin arrived
in Belgorod on 4 April to launch his re-election campaign, with promises
of financial support for local farms and factories, Russian TV reported.
Yeltsin said that the "most complicated and difficult" period of reform
is over and that he would now focus on social programs and raising the
level of production, ITAR-TASS reported. The Communist Party won 32% in
the December Duma election's party-list voting and the city elected
former USSR Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov. Yeltsin said that Ryzhkov
and his Duma colleague Valentin Varennikov, a 1991 coup plotter, should
be imprisoned, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Robert Orttung

BABURIN BACKS ZYUGANOV. Nationalist Sergei Baburin, after considerable
vacillation, announced that his Russian All-People's Union will back
Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov in the June presidential election,
ITAR-TASS reported. More than 70 organizations have now signed on to
Zyuganov's "popular-patriotic bloc." In the Duma campaign, Baburin
formed an alliance with Ryzhkov in the Power to the People bloc and
faced a Communist opponent in his successful bid to win a seat in Omsk.
Meanwhile, former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev turned in 1.4 million
signatures to the Central Electoral Commission to register as a
presidential candidate, Radio Rossii reported. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA PREPARES LAW ON THE TRANSITION OF POWER. The Duma is working on a
law that will regulate the two months between the presidential election
and the time when the new president takes his oath of office, Izvestiya
reported on 5 April. The sharpest dispute is over whether the president
should renounce his party membership. The Communists and Vladimir
Zhirinovsky are strongly against such a requirement. Duma Chairman
Gennadii Seleznev refused to renounce his Communist Party membership
after gaining his new position. -- Robert Orttung

SHOTS FIRED NEAR YELTSIN HOME. An unidentified gunman fired three shots
on 3 April in the vicinity of President Yeltsin's home in the Moscow
suburb of Krylatskoe, Russian and Western media reported the next day.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov also
live in the same six-story apartment bloc alongside Yeltsin. On 4 April,
ITAR-TASS reported that St. Petersburg has the highest crime rate in
Russia, with 77 businessmen and more than 50 criminal gang members
killed last year. -- Peter Rutland

DUMA COMMISSION BLASTS PRIVATIZATION. The Audit Chamber set up last
October by the Duma has prepared a report condemning the privatization
program launched in 1992, Russian and Western media reported on 4 April.
Veniamin Sokolov, the head of the commission, said on Russian Public TV
(ORT) that the privatization was based on a succession of unclear laws,
decrees, and regulations--each of which contradicted those that went
before. He said it was a violation of national interests and a vehicle
for extensive corruption, and called for the reversal of some of the
privatizations. Sokolov passed on to the procurator-general evidence of
alleged wrongdoing by Petr Mostovoi, the head of the Federal Insolvency
Administration, and Alfred Kokh, deputy head of the State Privatization
Committee (GKI), NTV reported. The loan/share auctions conducted last
November-December look particularly vulnerable to reversal. -- Peter
Rutland

TATAR PRESIDENT TO MEDIATE WITH DUDAEV? Tatar President Mintimer
Shaimiev is prepared to meet with an emissary of Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev to discuss the implementation of President Yeltsin's
Chechen peace proposals, NTV reported after 3-4 April meetings in Kazan
between Shaimiev and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. On 4 April,
Yeltsin signed a decree on the composition of the government commission
that will monitor the implementation of his peace plan; it includes
Shaimiev, the chairmen of both chambers of the Russian parliament,
Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov, and the president of Kabardino-
Balkariya. Meanwhile, a Russian SU25 military aircraft was shot down
over the village of Goiskoe in southern Chechnya on 4 April by what
Russian military sources identified as a U.S. made Stinger missile,
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA BLASTS UN REPORT ON CHECHNYA. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Grigorii Karasin criticized the recent UN report on human rights in
Chechnya (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 April 1995) as "incorrect," Russian
and Western agencies reported on 4 April. The report, citing non-
governmental human rights agencies, focuses on the excessive use of
force by federal troops in the breakaway republic. AFP quoted Karasin as
complaining that the report failed to note that separatist fighters
"resorted to outright terror" and "violated the peace accords," a
reference to the failed 30 July military agreement. Karasin also
complained that the report ignored what he termed an "intensive dialogue
on the issue between Russia and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights."
-- Scott Parrish

BORDER DEMARCATION COMMISSION MEMBER RESIGNS. Maj. Gen. Valerii Rozov,
chairman of the Russo-Chinese border demarcation commission for Primorsk
Krai, resigned on 4 April, saying he could not supervise the transfer of
"strategically important Russian lands" to China, ITAR-TASS reported.
The commission is demarcating disputed segments of the border along the
Tuman River under a May 1991 Soviet-Chinese agreement which calls for
the transfer of about 1,500 hectares of disputed territory to China.
Rozov said Russia had an "indisputable right" to the territory, where
the location of nine border markers has yet to be determined, adding
that its transfer to China would undermine Russia's position in the
Asian-Pacific region. The resignation is embarrassing for Russia, as
Yeltsin is scheduled to visit China on 24 April. -- Scott Parrish

CIS MEETINGS IN DUSHANBE, MOSCOW. The heads of the CIS security services
met in Dushanbe on 4 April for discussion that focused on cooperation in
fighting drugs and arms smuggling and coordinating information-gathering
procedures along the lines of Interpol, Russian media reported. The
meeting was chaired by Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director
General Mikhail Barsukov, who also met privately with Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov, RFE/RL reported on 3 April. No details of their
discussion were available. In other CIS news, foreign economic ministers
of the member states met in Moscow on 4-5 April to discuss the
parameters of a free trade zone, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Roger Kangas

SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS YELTSIN DECREE ON NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL . . .
The Supreme Court has settled the dispute between the Nuclear Energy
Ministry and Greenpeace by overturning the presidential decree that
allows nuclear waste to be imported into Russia, Ekho Moskvy reported on
4 April. The construction of the nuclear waste disposal plant in
Krasnoyarsk (Siberia) is not finished yet, and the ministry needs to
find an additional $4 billion to do so. The ministry hoped to get
credits in countries that intended to use the plant, allowing them to
store their nuclear waste in Russia in the meantime. The Supreme Court
ruled that it would be possible to import nuclear fuel to Russia if a
relevant international agreement is signed. -- Natalia Gurushina

. . . WHILE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVERRULES APARTMENT TAX. The
Constitutional Court overruled the Moscow authorities' decision to
impose special taxes on apartment owners in the capital, ITAR-TASS
reported on 4 April. The authorities levied a lump-sum tax of 500 times
the minimum wage on any person buying a flat in Moscow who did not
already have a resident permit for the city. The court also ruled
unconstitutional the introduction by the Moscow region authorities of a
'license fee for the right to migrate to the Moscow region.' -- Natalia
Gurushina

DUBININ ON THE RUBLE, UNION WITH BELARUS. Central Bank Chairman Sergei
Dubinin told ITAR-TASS in Paris on 5 April that the ruble will soon
become convertible for current operations, as the remaining restrictions
on currency transfers will be lifted. He also said that the new
relationship with Belarus "must not result in a weakening of the Russian
ruble." He expects the exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble and the
Russian ruble to be tied, in a manner similar to the European Monetary
System. Russia will not shore up the Belarusian currency: Minsk must
pursue the policies necessary to maintain the value of the Belarusian
ruble. Meanwhile, in Moscow it was announced that inflation in March is
just 2.8%--the same as in February. On 4 April, the ruble was trading at
4,873 to the U.S. dollar. -- Peter Rutland

PROPOSAL TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OF BANK ACCOUNTS. By the end of March, tax
arrears to the federal budget had risen to 41 trillion rubles ($8.4
billion), Segodnya reported on 4 April. The problem is partly that firms
hide their revenues through barter and cash transactions, and partly
that tax service efforts to seize funds in firms' bank accounts are not
effective. Two new draft presidential decrees have been prepared that
will force firms to have a single bank account for all current
operations. However, the Central Bank is objecting, on the grounds that
a court might find this a violation of current banking legislation. --
Peter Rutland

TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROJECTS ON HOLD. It looks increasingly unlikely that
the ambitious 50/50 project to modernize the Russian telephone network
will actually move forward. France Telecom, which together with U.S.
West and Deutsche Telecom launched the project in October 1994, is now
pursuing the more modest task of installing new card phones in Moscow,
ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 4 April. The company has already installed
300 new phones in Moscow hotels and metro stations, one of which was
ceremonially used by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to call his Paris
counterpart. Meanwhile, the Italian firm STET, which in December 1995
backed out of its contract to buy a 25% stake in Svyazinvest, reiterated
its willingness to renew negotiations about the acquisition. -- Natalia
Gurushina

ROADS OFF LIMITS. As usual, some 43,000 km of main roads and 477,000 km
of local roads will be barred to trucks until 15 May, ITAR-TASS reported
on 4 April. The Transport Ministry imposes the restrictions during the
spring thaw to keep the roads in usable condition. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN COMMUNISTS NOMINATE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. A recent plenum of
the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party nominated the
party's senior secretary, Sergei Badalyan, as its candidate for the 21
September presidential election, Pravda reported on 4 April. A former
first secretary of the Yerevan Gorkom, Badalyan was elected first
secretary of the party when it split following the failed coup of August
1991. On 3 April, the Armenian parliament adopted a law on the
presidential election, Noyan Tapan reported the same day. -- Liz Fuller

KAZAKHSTAN'S PARLIAMENT PASSES A LAW ON PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS.
Kazakhstan's parliament passed a law defining the rights and permitted
activities of public organizations, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 April.
Details of are not yet available. Omirbek Baigeldiyev, the chairman of
the Senate stated that the new law will regulate relations between
public organizations and government organs and will serve as a basis for
further legislation. The parliament is expected to pass a law regulating
the activities of political parties and trade unions. Kazakhstan's
existing laws that curtail the freedoms of organizations have been
criticized by the opposition and independent media. -- Bhavna Dave

KAZAKHSTANI COURT FINES SUPPORTERS OF DUMA BELAVEZHA DENUNCIATION. A
number of people in Kazakhstan who staged rallies on 16-17 March in
support of the Russian State Duma's resolution denouncing the Belavezha
accords have been fined for organizing "unsanctioned meetings," ITAR-
TASS reported on 4 April. Among those fined were Boris Godunov, chairman
of the Almaty City Committee on human rights, and Petr Khalov, the
chairman of the Almaty Workers' Movement. Kazakhstan's procurator-
general said that calls for a restoration of the USSR contravene the
republic's constitution, and instructed all oblast procurators to take
legal action against such activities. As a follow up, the oblast justice
administration of East Kazakhstan issued an order banning the activities
of local branches of the groups Russkaya obshchina, Slavic Culture, and
Lad, organizations which claim to promote the interests of the local
Russian population. The Pavlodar Oblast authorities are considering the
dissolution of the local Communist Party organization. -- Bhavna Dave

U.S. AMBASSADOR CALLS FOR CLOSER CENTRAL ASIAN TIES WITH NATO. U.S.
Ambassador to NATO Robert Hunter said in Almaty on 4 April that NATO
wants to step up its cooperation with the former Soviet Republics in
Central Asia. Reuters quoted him as saying it is in Western interests to
"reach out to the countries in the region." He noted that while
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan had joined the
Partnership for Peace program, none had yet sent a full-time military
representative to the partnership coordination cell in Mons, Belgium. He
said that he expects Kazakhstan to be the first to do so. -- Doug Clarke

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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