Coleridge declares that a man cannot have a good conscience who refuses apple dumplings, and I confess that I am of the same opinion. - Charles Lamb
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 70, Part I, 9 April 1996


TAX POLICE COLONEL IN CORRUPTION SCANDAL. A senior officer of the
Federal Tax Police Service has been arrested for allegedly demanding a
$200,000 bribe from a commercial company, NTV reported on 5 April.
Federal Security Service officers arrested Colonel Pavel Glebov and
Andrei Shavaev, a former KGB officer who currently heads the private
security agency Academy of Economic Security, as they were accepting
$38,000 in bribes, ITAR-TASS reported. Corruption in state bodies is
rampant, but few bribe-takers are punished despite the current high-
profile anti-corruption campaign. -- Penny Morvant
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN DELAYS ANNOUNCING PROGRAM. President Boris Yeltsin addressed a
congress of his supporters on 6 April but will wait until next month to
release his program, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin explained the delay as
a way to prevent his opponents from "distorting or using" his program.
Instead, Yeltsin stuck to broad themes of the family, fighting crime,
ending the war in Chechnya, and strengthening CIS integration. Yeltsin
said that he would win so that "these elections will not be the last,"
Russian TV reported. He added that he is dissatisfied with his campaign
staff and would personally take charge while placing financial questions
in the hands of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Ekho Moskvy
reported. Yeltsin also announced that Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev
and Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev are beginning to set up
negotiations as intermediaries with Chechen rebel leader Dzhokhar
Dudaev. -- Robert Orttung

ZHIRINOVSKY REGISTERS AS CANDIDATE. Liberal Democratic Party leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky became the third officially registered presidential
candidate on 5 April, Reuters reported. Zhirinovsky came in third in the
1991 presidential voting with 6 million votes, 8% of the total, and his
party won almost 8 million votes (11%) in the 1995 Duma elections. He is
running at less than 10% in recent opinion polls. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA BACKS RUSSO-BELARUSIAN COMMUNITY. The Duma endorsed the 2 April
union agreement between Moscow and Minsk by a vote of 320-8 with five
abstentions on 5 April, RFE/RL reported. Although Grigorii Yavlinskii's
Yabloko initially criticized the agreement, it joined in supporting the
treaty. The Duma and Federation Council have yet to formally ratify the
treaty. -- Robert Orttung

MILITARY LIMITS VISITS BY POLITICIANS. General Mikhail Kolesnikov, the
Russian armed forces chief of staff, issued a directive on 8 April
restricting visits of politicians to military units, ITAR-TASS reported.
The directive is based on Article 18 of the defense law which prohibits
"any form of political agitation, including pre-election agitation, on
the territory of units and formations for the armed forces." A source in
the Defense Ministry was said to have told the agency that the directive
was brought about because of recent instances in which deputies with
military rank have used their status to ask commanders to let them
address their troops. -- Doug Clarke

CHERNOMYRDIN REJECTS DUDAEV'S OFFER OF DIRECT TALKS. Russian Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 8 April rejected Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev's offer of direct peace talks with the Russian
leadership, Russian and Western agencies reported. Fighting continued on
5-7 April in southern Chechnya; on 7 April, the head of the North
Caucasus Military District, Col. Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, said that over
the previous seven days more than 100 Russian troops had been killed. On
7-8 April, Russian forces launched a full-scale offensive against the
settlements of Vedeno and Dargo in southeast Chechnya. On 8 April,
Chechens demonstrated in Grozny and Shali to demand the withdrawal of
Russian troops from Chechnya. On 6 April, Azerbaijani President Heidar
Aliev rejected as slanderous and totally unfounded allegations that
Chechen aircraft belonging to Dudaev had carried out the bombing of
Shaladzhi on 2-3 April from airfields on Azerbaijani territory, Radio
Rossii reported. -- Liz Fuller

MAYORAL CANDIDATE OPPOSES ELECTION DATE CHANGE. St. Petersburg mayoral
election candidates Aleksei Levashov and Igor Artemev have decided to
contest the city legislature's decision to change the election date from
16 June to 19 May in the municipal court, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported
on 6 April. They claim that a shorter election campaign will only
benefit Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. The City Legislative Assembly voted to
change the election date after President Yeltsin set 19 May as the
election date in March (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 March 1996). -- Anna
Paretskaya in Moscow

POLISH PRESIDENT VISITS RUSSIA. Aleksander Kwasniewski began a three-day
visit to Russia by laying a wreath at a memorial in Smolensk Oblast
marking the site at Katyn where 15,000 Polish officers were executed in
1940 by the Soviet political police, Russian and Western agencies
reported on 8 April. Kwasniewski said the site should be not just a
"wound" but also a "memorial" so that "such things may never happen
again" between Russia and Poland. Krasnaya zvezda reported that Moscow
hopes the visit will thaw bilateral relations, which have been strained
by the issue of NATO expansion. Despite political differences, ITAR-TASS
reported on 6 April that Russo-Polish trade totaled $3.5 billion in
1995. Russia ran an $800 million trade surplus with Poland, with oil and
gas accounting for 74% percent of its exports. -- Scott Parrish

CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Lloyd Axworthy met with his Russian
counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
to discuss NATO expansion, Arctic regional cooperation, and nuclear
safety, Russian and Western agencies reported on 8 April. Primakov said
that although he and Axworthy agreed on the need to find a mutually
acceptable compromise, Canada and Russia remain divided on the issue of
NATO expansion. Axworthy invited Primakov to Canada later this year for
the signing of an agreement founding a new multilateral Arctic Council,
on which he said "almost full agreement" had been reached. AFP reported
that the two leaders had agreed on the terms of several unspecified
bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements. Under a 1994 agreement,
Canadian specialists are already helping upgrade safety at Russian
nuclear plants. -- Scott Parrish

REPORT: RUSSIAN ARMS TRADED FOR FRENCH PILOTS. The independent French
television channel TF1 on 6 April charged that Russian weapons bought by
the French government were delivered by Russia to the Bosnian Serbs to
secure the release of two French pilots shot down over Bosnia last
August, theLondon Times reported on 8 April. Colonel Vladimir Kulich, a
member of the Russian foreign intelligence agency, claimed to have been
involved in the negotiations. The French Defense Ministry has denied
that the Bosnian Serbs were compensated for the release of the pilots.
-- Doug Clarke

U.S. REMOVES RUSSIA FROM ARMS PROSCRIBED LIST. The U.S. State Department
on 4 April removed Russia from the International Traffic in Arms
Regulations (ITAR) proscribed list. In a statement issued by Glyn
Davies, acting press spokesman, the department said the step is in line
with the Clinton administration's policy to update U.S. laws and
regulations to reflect the end of the Cold War. Accordingly, it will no
longer be U.S. policy to "deny licenses or other approvals for exports
and imports of defense articles and defense services destined for or
originating in Russia." In the future, each request for such license or
approval will be analyzed carefully on a case-by-case basis and will no
longer be automatically disapproved. -- Doug Clarke

RUSSIA LAUNCHES U.S.-BUILT SATELLITE. Russia has launched a U.S.-built
satellite for the first time, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. The
telecommunications satellite Astra-1F, built by General Motors' Hughes
unit at the request of the Societe Europeenne des Satellites, was
launched by the Proton-K booster rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan. The launch cost $60 million and is part of the $1 billion
deal signed by Khrunichev space center and the International Launch
Services, a joint-venture set up in 1993 by Khrunichev with the Energiya
corporation and the U.S. Lockheed-Martin group. The program envisages 20
more unmanned flights by the year 2000. -- Natalia Gurushina

YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE ON PENSIONS. . . Following the March onslaught on
wage arrears, President Yeltsin has now pledged to eliminate pension
arrears by the end of April. According to ITAR-TASS, Yeltsin issued a
decree on 8 April ordering the government to grant a six-month loan of 4
trillion rubles ($818 million) to the Pension Fund. Presidential
economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits said the money for the loan would
come from operations on the short-term bond market and tax revenue. The
state owes pensioners more than 6 trillion rubles in overdue payments
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 April 1996). -- Penny Morvant

. . . AND SAVINGS. Continuing his emphasis on social issues ahead of the
presidential elections, Yeltsin also decreed the partial restoration of
savings wiped out by inflation as a result of the economic reforms begun
at the end of 1991. The decree orders the government, the Central Bank,
and Sberbank to draw up a federal program within three months on a
mechanism to repay savings devalued between 1991 and 1995. The total
Sberbank debt is estimated at 800 trillion rubles ($160 billion) in
current prices. Livshits said that compensation payments will begin to
be paid in 1997 in a process that will take decades to complete. --
Penny Morvant

YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE ON SMALL BUSINESSES. President Yeltsin has decreed
that supporting small businesses should become a government priority,
Finansovye izvestiya reported on 9 April. The decree promises 500
billion rubles ($102 million) for investment credits to small
businesses, and $200 million worth in guarantees to foreign companies
that open credit lines to small businesses in Russia. The Federal Fund
for Small Business Support should receive 5% of the privatization
revenue annually, which means that in 1996 small companies should get
707 billion rubles (in 1995 small businesses received 50 billion rubles
from this source). Small businesses in Russia repeatedly complain that
high taxes and interest rates make it very difficult for them to
survive. -- Natalia Gurushina

GAZPROM LOSES TAX PRIVILEGE. President Yeltsin signed a decree on 4
April merging Gazprom's special tax-exempt "stabilization fund" with the
general federal budget, Segodnya reported the next day. This was one of
the conditions for the $10.1 billion loan the IMF granted in March.
However, at the same time Yeltsin took other steps to compensate the gas
monopoly, such as cutting the duty on pipe imports and lowering the gas
excise duty by changing the basis upon which it is calculated. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CENTRAL ASIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov
met with his Kyrgyz and Kazakhstani counterparts, Apas Jumagulov and
Akezhan Kazhegeldin, in Tashkent on 5 April to sign 12 cooperative
accords, Radio Rossii reported on 6 April. They discussed energy and
water resource management, transportation and communication links, and
drug smuggling. In a 6 April interview with Pravda vostoka cited by the
BBC, Uzbek President Islam Karimov said the recent Moscow treaty signed
by Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan would "not damage"
cooperation among the three. Meanwhile, a 5 April Turkmen Foreign
Ministry statement stated that Ashgabat "has no plans" to alter its
present relationship with the CIS, according to a RIA news agency report
cited by the BBC. The statement read that Turkmenistan prefers
"bilateral relations" and rejects "entry into rigid supranational
structures" as "politically inexpedient and legally inapplicable."--
Roger Kangas and Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIA CUTS ELECTRICITY SUPPLY TO KAZAKHSTAN. Russia has cut the amout
of electricity it supplies to the Aktyobe Oblast in north Kazakhstan for
its failure to pay a $24.5 million debt, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 April.
Aktyobe will now receive only 35 MW, instead of its regular 300 MW. The
recently-opened Aktyobe power station is working irregularly and even at
its full capacity can only fulfill a third of the country's electricity
needs. Electricity has been cut in all southern oblasts of Kazakhstan,
and only industrial enterprises, transport, and the communications
networks of major cities have a normal electricity supply. Kazakhstan's
electricity debts to Russia and other CIS countries have been variously
reported at between $150 million and $400 million in the Russian media.
Uzbekistan has totally cut off its electricity supply to Kazakhstan, and
Kyrgyzstan has also restricted its supply. Kazakhstan is holding talks
with Russia and Kyrgyzstan on forming an energy union. -- Bhavna Dave

DUMA RATIFIES LEASE OF BAIKONUR. The Russian State Duma has ratified an
agreement on a 20-year Russian lease of the Baikonur space launch site
from Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported on 5 April. The Duma
ratification settles a dispute between the two countries on conditions
for using Baikonur as a major Russian launch site for all manned space
flights. Russia will pay Kazakhstan $115 million in rent annually for 20
years, with an option to lease the cosmodrome for an additional 10
years, RFE/RL added. -- Bhavna Dave

ALARMING NUMBER OF URANIUM THEFTS IN KAZAKHSTAN. The newspaper Karavan-
Blitz has reported numerous thefts of highly radioactive materials from
the Ulba metalworks plant near the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk in East
Kazakhstan, according to a BBC report on 4 April. About 100 kg of U-235
uranium was stolen in November and another 150 kg of uranium and 400 kg
of radioactive thorium were stolen in December, according to reports in
the 4 April and 26 March issues of Karavan-Blitz. An official of the
State Investigation Committee on combating crime told the paper that
such thefts at the Ulba plant have become common, and are committed by
workers with the complicity of the guards. Most of the stolen uranium
has been sold to firms in Russia. Kazakhstan has about a quarter of the
world's uranium reserves. -- Bhavna Dave

TEMPORARY BAN ON UIGHUR SOCIETY IN KYRGYZSTAN. The Kyrgyz Justice
Ministry has suspended the Uighur organization Ittipak (Unity) from
campaigning in the media and from holding any public meetings for three
months after it failed to curb its "separatist activities" despite
earlier official warnings, according to a 4 April Kyrgyz Radio report
monitored by the BBC. The activities of Ittipak violated the Kyrgyz
constitution's provisions on public associations, as well as the Kyrgyz-
China communique of 16 May 1992 on non-interference in internal affairs.
There are about 5.5 million Uighur across the border in China's Xinjiang
province. Some 40,000 Uighurs live in Kyrgyzstan. -- Bhavna Dave

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez
 
         

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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