We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers. - Martin Luther King Jr
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 71, Part I, 10 April 1996

New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
- "Belgrade, Skopje Establish Diplomatic Ties," by Stan Markotich and
  Stefan Krause
- "Quotes from Slovak Ruling Party's Congress," by Sharon Fisher
- "Both Past and Present are Important to Polish President's Visit
  to Russia," by Jakub Karpinski

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
AKAYEV DISMISSES NEWSPAPER EDITORS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has
dismissed the editors of two leading newspapers and the head of the
State Television and Radio Committee, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April,
citing a source from the Glasnost Foundation. Akayev's press secretary
was quoted by the Glasnost Foundation as saying that the decision to
remove the editors of Slovo Kyrgyzstana andSvobodnye gory is consistent
with the state's policy of rotating "cadres of the state-owned mass
media." The new head of the State Television and Radio Committee is
Amanbek Karypkulov, formerly the ideology secretary of the Kyrgyz
Communist Party prior to 1991. The editorial staff of both papers have
sent a letter of protest to Akayev, and are threatening to go on strike.
They claim that the current ownership structure of the paper--jointly
owned by its own employees and the government--is not permitted under
Kyrgyz law. The Kyrgyz-American Bureau on human rights has termed the
move a violation of journalists' rights -- Bhavna Dave
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

ZYUGANOV DENOUNCES MEDIA "BLOCKADE." Communist leader Zyuganov charged
that the national media, particularly television, is conducting an
"information blockade" of his campaign, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April.
He said that he felt greater support from the local media, which are
"more independent in their conduct." Ekho Moskvy commentator Andrei
Cherkizov rejected the accusations, saying "space costs money, there is
more interesting material to publish, and there is a Communist press to
build up Zyuganov's image." -- Robert Orttung

RUTSKOI ABANDONS PRESIDENTIAL BID. Bowing to the inevitable, former Vice
President Aleksandr Rutskoi announced that he would not run for
president and threw his support behind Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov, Radio Rossii reported on 9 April. Rutskoi's Derzhava won 1.8
million votes (2.6%) in the December parliamentary elections. During
that campaign, Rutskoi was critical of Zyuganov and the Communists for
not carrying out any of their promises. -- Robert Orttung

MILITARY DENOUNCES REPORTS OF DIVISION IN THE RANKS. The Collegium of
the Defense Ministry denounced recent reports in the media claiming
there are political divisions among Russia's highest military
commanders, in a statement published in Rossiiskaya gazeta 10 April (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 4 April 1996). The collegium announced that the data
used in such studies are "falsified" and their purpose is to "disorient
society and servicemen on the eve of the presidential elections and
create the appearance that there is a hidden opposition among the
military leadership." The statement claimed that the Defense Ministry
unanimously supports the "current course of reform and the preservation
of stability," themes that are emphasized in President Boris Yeltsin's
campaign. -- Robert Orttung

MILITARY PARADE TO BE HELD ON RED SQUARE ON VICTORY DAY. On 9 May, a
parade by troops from the Moscow garrison will be held on Red Square to
mark the 51st anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War
II, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 9 April. Officially there have been
no military parades on Red Square since 1990, although last year a
parade of war veterans was held that included battalions of
parachutists, commandos, and marines. Yeltsin's decision to order a
military parade this year is intended to boost his standing among
veterans and the military ahead of the June presidential election. --
Penny Morvant

ST. PETERSBURG GUBERNATORIAL RACE TURNS UGLY. St. Petersburg Deputy
Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev has accused Mayor Anatolii Sobchak of trying to
tell journalists how to cover the mayoral election campaign, NTV
reported on 9 April. In turn, Sobchak has denounced the decision of his
subordinate to run and called on him to resign. The two now communicate
mainly between their assistants. Sobchak is running at 22% in the polls,
12% support other candidates, and 66% remain undecided ahead of the 19
May poll. -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIA TO ACCUSE U.S. OF NUCLEAR SAFETY VIOLATIONS. The Russian
government is preparing a position paper on alleged violations of
nuclear safety standards in the U.S., which will be presented at the 19-
21 April G-7 summit meeting in Moscow, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 9
April. The government report, citing U.S. Department of Energy
statistics, claims that 2,108 safety violations took place at U.S.
nuclear facilities during 1989-90 alone. The report was prepared as a
"retaliatory blow" against anticipated Western criticism of Russian
handling of fissionable materials at the summit. While admitting that
"some grounds" exist for criticizing Russia's handling of its nuclear
materials, the paper cited Russian experts who argue that the West has
deliberately exaggerated the threat of nuclear smuggling from Russia in
order to exclude it from the world nuclear fuel market. -- Scott Parrish

POLAND AND RUSSIA DISAGREE ABOUT NATO. Emerging from a 9 April meeting
with his visiting Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski, President
Yeltsin announced that the two had "agreed on all issues, except one,"
referring to the possible expansion of NATO, ITAR-TASS reported. While
Yeltsin said there is still time "to find some alternative means" of
resolving the NATO expansion controversy, he added that he had "little
hope" such an alternative would be found. Kwasniewski, trying to
downplay the divide, said that while Poland wants to join the alliance,
it "does not want to become a front-line state in the new Europe."
Comparing Kwasniewski's visit to the frosty tenor of bilateral relations
over the past few years under President Lech Walesa, however, NTV termed
it a "breakthrough." -- Scott Parrish

SWISS EXPEL RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT. Officials at the Swiss Justice and Police
Department announced that an unnamed first secretary at the Russian
embassy in Bern will be expelled from Switzerland for espionage, AFP
reported on 9 April. The officials said the Russian diplomat was caught
red-handed while trying to obtain unspecified information. In December,
Switzerland expelled another Russian diplomat on similar charges (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 8 January 1996). -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA "CONCERNED" OVER NORTH KOREAN ACTIONS. Foreign Ministry spokesman
Mikhail Demurin expressed "concern" about recent tensions in the
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea, ITAR-
TASS reported on 9 April. Tension has increased in the zone since
Pyongyang announced last week that it will no longer observe the terms
of the 1953 armistice agreement ending the Korean War, which it termed
"obsolete." North Korean troops have subsequently violated the DMZ on
numerous occasions. Demurin criticized North Korea for undermining the
security regime on the peninsula, called on Pyongyang to continue
observing the armistice, and repeated a Russian proposal for an
international conference on the issue. Meanwhile, two Russian
delegations departed on previously scheduled visits to Pyongyang. --
Scott Parrish

RUSSO-ITALIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Russian First Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov and Italian Foreign Minister Suzanna
Angelli signed a bilateral investment protection agreement and a tax
accord at the initial meeting of the Russo-Italian economic cooperation
committee in Rome, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. The commission was
formed under the terms of the October 1994 Russo-Italian Treaty of
Friendship and Cooperation. RFE/RL reported that the investment accord
would simplify regulations for Italian companies investing in Russia,
while the tax agreement will lower taxes on Italian firms operating
there. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-POLISH COOPERATION IN ENERGY PROJECTS. Deputy Minister of Fuel and
Energy Yurii Korsun told ITAR TASS on 9 April that Russia is keen to
move forward with the plan to build a pipeline across Poland to carry
natural gas from the Yamal peninsula in northern Siberia to Germany.
Russia also wants to build a gas pipeline to Kaliningrad to fuel a new
power plant there, easing the province's acute energy problems. There is
already agreement to build a high current electricity transmission line
from Russia to Germany across Poland. -- Peter Rutland

NAVY TELLS SHIPYARD TO SELL SUBMARINES ABROAD. The Russian Navy has told
the Krasnoe Sormovo shipyard in Nizhnii Novgorod to sell abroad three
diesel-powered, Kilo-class submarines originally ordered for the navy,
ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. Two of the boats have already been sold
to China. The director of the shipyard, Nikolai Zharkov, said the
company is negotiating with another unnamed country (identified only as
in Africa or Southeast Asia) for the sale of the third boat. Zharkov
said that the Chinese had been pleased with the two submarines they
bought but lacked the money to buy the third. The company is in serious
financial difficulty and recently cut its workforce from 29,000 to
11,000. -- Doug Clarke

BELLONA ACTIVIST REFUSED BAIL. A St. Petersburg court has rejected a
bail application by Aleksandr Nikitin, a retired navy captain and
employee of the Norwegian-based environmental group Bellona, AFP
reported on 9 April. Nikitin, who worked on a report on radioactive
contamination of Murmansk Oblast, was accused of espionage and arrested
by the Federal Security Service (FSB) in February. Nikitin's supporters,
who include Russian Environmental Policy Center head Aleksei Yablokov,
argue that the report does not contain secret information and that the
1993 Law on State Secrets stipulates that information "on the condition
of the environment" is not subject to classification, Trud reported on
23 March. -- Penny Morvant

ARMY LOW ON FOOD. Lack of funding has forced the Russian army to use
emergency food reserves to feed its troops, ITAR-TASS reported on 9
April. According to Defense Ministry official Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav
Savinov, spending on food for the military was cut from 3.5 trillion to
1.7 trillion rubles last year ($350 million at current prices) and funds
were disbursed only sporadically, leaving the army in debt to suppliers.
This year, Savinov continued, the budget allocation will cover only
about 75% of the military's food requirements. He stressed, however,
that the army does have sufficient reserves to prevent its troops from
starving. Recent media reports have listed several cases of malnutrition
among soldiers, including one death. -- Penny Morvant

POOR FIRE SAFETY RECORD. Fires caused 15,000 deaths and injured another
13,500 people in Russia last year, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. The
Interior Ministry's fire service recorded 290,000 fires, which caused
about 30 trillion rubles ($6.2 billion) of damage. The number of
fatalities caused by fires rose from 6,888 in 1990 to 15,700 in 1994. A
large number of the blazes are the result of accidents by drunks. --
Penny Morvant

DOCKERS HOLD WARNING STRIKE. Dock workers at a number of Russian ports
held a one-hour warning strike on 9 April to draw attention to the
plight of Russia's northern ports, Radio Rossii and Ekho Moskvy
reported. Union representative Anatolii Shalamanov said loads have
declined sharply recently, with cargo increasingly being handled by
ports in Ukraine and the Baltic states. High taxes and rail tariffs and
outdated equipment have made Russian ports uncompetitive, and a number
are on the verge of bankruptcy. The Russian Union of Dockers estimates
that Russia's ports are being used to only 60% of capacity. -- Penny
Morvant

STATE WILL BUY BACK OIL FIRM SHARES . . . At a meeting of the
government's Commission for Operational Problems on 9 April, Deputy
Prime Minister and head of the State Privatization Committee Aleksandr
Kazakov said that the government will buy back the oil firm shares that
were sold in loan auctions in November and December, ITAR TASS reported.
He said "the state must retain its influence over oil firms," and
complained that the auctions had not led to any significant improvement
in the financial situation of the firms. The problem, Kazakov noted,
will be where to find the money to buy back the shares. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AND BOOST INVESTMENT. Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik
told the same government meeting that there will be a major overhaul of
the taxes and tariffs levied on oil firms in the next two months. This
is presumably to compensate for the lifting of oil export duties
scheduled for 1 July. Shafranik wants to cut the taxes they pay as a
share of sales from the current 70% to 45%. He said that to maintain the
current level of production of about 300 million metric tons a year 212
trillion rubles ($44 billion) of investment will be needed by 2000, and
only half that sum appears to be available. -- Peter Rutland

LATENT RENATIONALIZATION ON ITS WAY. A process of latent
renationalization has started in Russia, according to Boris Kagarlitsky,
writing in the 5-11 April issue of Vek. Since the roots of the process
are in the financial relations between companies and local governments,
it is unlikely to be affected by the results of the presidential
election in June. Kagarlitsky argues that enterprises are now borrowing
money from local authorities, using company assets as collateral. If
these debts cannot be repaid, as is likely, then gradually many of these
firms may return to state ownership. -- Natalia Gurushina

PROMSTROIBANK OPENS U.S. OFFICE. Promstroibank became the first Russian
bank to open a U.S. office since the breakup of the Soviet Union, AFP
reported on 9 April. Permission to open the unit came from the Federal
Reserve System, which supervises foreign banks. The office will provide
the bank's clients in Russia with information about international
financial markets but will not be allowed to give credits or receive
deposits. The unit will be opened in July 1996 in New York, becoming the
bank's fourth office abroad (the bank also has offices in London,
Frankfurt, and Geneva). -- Natalia Gurushina

TAX RECEIPTS STILL SLUGGISH. Tax receipts in the first quarter were just
81% of the planned level, with arrears cumulating to 41 trillion rubles
by 1 March, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 9 April. The new head of
the State Tax Service, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Artyukhov, noted
with concern that there appears to be no relationship between the
economic performance of a given region and its level of tax payments. He
complained that firms are evading taxes by resorting to barter. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MAJOR DRUG STORAGE BASE DISCOVERED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstani customs
officials and members of the State Investigation Committee raided a
major narcotics shipment base in Almaty, arresting several members of a
Kazakh-Tajik drug smuggling ring and seizing large quantities of raw
opium and marijuana, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 April. The base was part of
a route that runs from Pakistan and Afghanistan, through Central Asia,
and on to Russia and other CIS states. A State Investigation Committee
official told ITAR-TASS that last month's arrest at Almaty Airport of a
number of Tajik citizens, who had more than 12 kg of raw opium and 5 kg
of hashish valued at more than $1 million, led to the arrests at the
Almaty base. Drug smuggling rings are increasingly using Kazakhstan as a
transit country due to its good air links with other CIS countries and
Eastern Europe. -- Bhavna Dave

CAUCASIAN LOBBY IN ANKARA. A "7 million-strong" Caucasian diaspora in
Turkey is "heavily influencing" Turkey's foreign policy, Cumhuriyet
reported on 9 April. The paper identified the highjacking of the Avrasya
Ferryboat in January as the event which brought attention to the alleged
strength of this lobby. The article reported that Turkey is making use
of the Caucasian lobby to achieve objectives--such as spreading Turkish
culture--that it cannot officially realize. The article exaggerates the
strength of the lobby and the size of the Caucasian diaspora but rightly
points to a little noted revival of "emigre" Caucasian (especially North
Caucasian) activism and its exploitation for foreign policy purposes. --
Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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