Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 72, Part I, 11 April 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
- "Akayev "Rotates" Kyrgyzstan's Media Heads," by Lowell Bezanis
- "A Serbian Opposition Party in Trouble?," by Sharon Fisher
- "Albania's Rocky Road to Europe," by Fabian Schmidt
- "Britain Recognizes Rump Yugoslavia," by Stan Markotich
- "Russia Fails to Budge Poland on NATO Expansion," by Scott Parrish
- "Belarusian Opposition Leaders in Exile," by Ustina Markus

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YELTSIN TO REQUEST RELOCATION OF WESTERN NUKES. Addressing the Security
Council in preparation for the 19-20 April G-7 nuclear safety summit,
President Yeltsin pledged that all remaining former Soviet strategic
nuclear warheads located in Ukraine and Belarus would be removed to
Russia by the end of 1996, Russian and Western agencies reported on 10
April. He called on the other nuclear powers to follow suit and base
nuclear weapons only on their own territory. Russian TV reported that
Yeltsin would insist such a pledge be included in the final summit
communique. If accepted, it would require the U.S. to remove its
tactical nuclear weapons currently stationed in NATO member-states, and
would preclude the deployment of such weapons to Eastern European states
if they join NATO. -- Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

DUMA STANDS FIRM ON USSR VOTE. The Duma rejected by a vote of 186 to 65
President Yeltsin's proposal that it adopt a resolution stating that the
15 March vote to restore the Soviet Union does not challenge the
legitimacy of Russia's sovereignty or annul its international
commitments, ITAR-TASS reported 10 April. However, the lower house then
adopted its own statement saying essentially the same thing, adding that
the vote reflected only the "political position" of the deputies and has
no legal effect. The Duma also expressed its disappointment at the
reaction of the leaders of Georgia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Moldova,
who saw the 15 March vote as a "threat" from Russia. -- Robert Orttung

SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS TsIK's REFUSAL TO REGISTER BRYNTSALOV. The
Supreme Court ordered the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to
register Duma member Vladimir Bryntsalov, one of Russia's richest
individuals and the owner of several pharmaceutical factories, as a
presidential candidate on 10 April, NTV reported. TsIK had rejected
450,000 of the 1.35 million nomination signatures that Bryntsalov turned
in, but the court found 170,000 of them valid, meaning that Bryntsalov
had crossed the 1 million signature threshold required to register as a
candidate. During the Duma elections, the court overturned several TsIK
decisions to deny registration to political parties, bringing the number
of contestants to 43. -- Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS PLAN TO ABOLISH PRESIDENCY IN 2-3 YEARS. Communist leader
Gennadi Zyuganov will abolish the Russian presidency in 2-3 years if he
is elected in June, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev told Izvestiya on 11
April. Seleznev favors a parliamentary system for Russia because "a
presidency always begets a tug-of-war between the branches of power." --
Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS LOSE IN MOSCOW OBLAST LOCAL ELECTIONS. Communists lost 31 out
of 34 races in Moscow Oblast's 31 March local elections, the pro-
presidential Rossiiskie vesti reported on 11 April. Most of the
victorious candidates were local economic managers. The paper argues
that even though the Communists did well in the Duma elections, voters
are now interested in competent professions and "stability," rather than
leftist ideology. -- Robert Orttung

COMMISSION ON CHECHNYA CONVENES. Boris Yeltsin on 10 April attended the
second session of the government commission created to monitor
implementation of his Chechen peace proposals, Russian media reported.
Yeltsin submitted to the meeting the names of proposed intermediaries
between the Russian leadership and Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev,
but these were not made public. St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak
proposed his city as the venue for peace talks, NTV reported. In
Chechnya, fighting reportedly died down except in the village of
Goiskoe, south of Grozny; most of Dudaev's forces were said to have
regrouped near the border with Dagestan. On 9 April, Dudaev's chief of
staff, Aslan Maskhadov, escaped injury when a bomb exploded in a
cemetery where he was due to speak, killing 10 people, according to
Radio Rossii. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSO-CHINESE BORDER DEMARCATION SUSPENDED? Primorsk Krai Governor
Yevgenii Nazdratenko announced on 11 April that President Yeltsin had
suspended the demarcation of a disputed stretch of the Russo-Chinese
border, Reuters reported. Nazdratenko has long opposed the 1991 border
agreement that would transfer to China of 1,500 hectares of disputed
territory along the Tuman River in southern Primorsk Krai, a process
that is scheduled to move forward once the demarcation is completed.
Nazdratenko has launched an appeal against the agreement in the
Constitutional Court. The Primorsk governor said Yeltsin had
reconsidered the "losses" that would result from transferring the
disputed territory to China and had suspended further demarcation work
pending discussions in Beijing during his scheduled 24-26 April official
visit to China. Moscow has not yet officially confirmed Nazdratenko's
announcement. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA MAY PROPOSE JOINING NATO POLITICAL STRUCTURES. Russia may soon
propose to NATO that it be granted membership in the alliance's
political but not military structures, an article in Nezavisimaya gazeta
suggested on 10 April. The article, co-authored by Sergei Kortunov, a
foreign policy specialist who works in the Yeltsin administration,
argued that NATO's response to such a proposal would demonstrate whether
the alliance is "honest" when it claims that its enlargement is not
directed against Russia. Adding Russia to the alliance's political
structure would also begin the process of transforming NATO into a post-
Cold War security structure, the article contended. -- Scott Parrish

BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE. Commander of the Black Sea Fleet Viktor
Kravchenko has said that the Russian part of the fleet will consist of
two military marine formations, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 9 April. The
units will be based at Sevastopol and Novorossiisk. Kravchenko added
that next year, the Russian Black Sea Fleet will receive new ships,
submarines, and aircraft. -- Ustina Markus

AGRICULTURAL WORKERS PROTEST AGAIN. Hundreds of agricultural workers
took part in a rally outside the federal government building in Moscow
on 10 April to demand state support for the agroindustrial complex,
measures to protect domestic producers from cheap, low quality foreign
imports, and the cancellation of the 7 March presidential decree on the
sale of land, Russian TV reported. A similar protest was held on 26
March (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 March 1996). The demonstration was
addressed by Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin, whose main goal is
the preservation of the system of collective and state farms and the
prevention of the unrestricted sale of farmland. The party backs
Communist leader Zyuganov in the presidential election. -- Penny Morvant

PROTEST IN PRIMORSK KRAI. Workers at about 300 enterprises in Primorsk
Krai held warning strikes on 10 April to draw attention to the region's
economic difficulties, ITAR-TASS reported. Unions are demanding the
payment of the almost 1.5 trillion ruble federal debt to the krai, a
reduction in taxes, and the stabilization of energy prices. According to
Russian Public TV (ORT), the strikers resolved not to allow Our Home Is
Russia representative Sergei Belyaev to leave Vladivostok until he gives
specific assurances that the government will meet its obligations. Fuel
shortages in the krai have led to power cuts and a 20% fall in output,
while wage arrears amounted to almost 500 billion rubles ($103 million),
with the public sector accounting for about 10% of the total, ITAR-TASS
reported on 7 April. -- Penny Morvant

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES MINIMUM WAGE BILL. The parliament's upper
house voted on 10 April to approve a bill raising the minimum wage from
63,250 to 75,900 rubles ($16) a month as of 1 April, ITAR-TASS reported.
The vote was preceded by a heated debate, with several deputies
expressing concern that the increase could not be funded. The Duma first
voted to raise the minimum wage in January, but that bill was rejected
by the Federation Council. The current version was approved by the Duma
on 20 March. Initial media reports said Yeltsin opposed the hike;
subsequently, however, presidential press secretary Sergei Medvedev said
his boss welcomed the decision. The minimum wage and pension should be
indexed every three months, and the last increase took place on 1
January. -- Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT RELIES ON SECURITIES TO COVER DEFICIT. The head of the
Finance Ministry's Department of State Securities, Bella Zlatkis, said
that short-term treasury bills (GKO-OFZ) worth 25 trillion rubles ($5.1
billion) will be sold in April, up from 20 trillion in March and 17
trillion in February, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. Partly this is
because of the need to cover maturing securities: in May, total
placements on the GKO-OFZ primary market should fall to 11 trillion
rubles in order to avoid a crash in the already saturated market from
taking place on the eve of the presidential election. Domestic borrowing
through GKOs and OFZs is the major source for covering the budget
deficit--in 1995 two thirds of the deficit was financed this way. The
government expects the 1996 budget deficit to be 115 trillion rubles. --
Natalia Gurushina

HOUSING UPTURN. There are signs of recovery in the construction
industry, ITAR TASS reported on 10 April. In 1995, housing construction
was up 9% on the previous year. The World Bank has awarded Russia a $400
million loan to fund housing construction in five selected cities--St.
Petersburg, Nizhnii Novgorod, Novgorod, Barnaul, and Tver. Only $5
million has been spent to date, but authorities hope to raise this
figure to $70 million by the end of the year. Construction contracts
will be awarded through competitive bids, some of which have already
taken place. -- Peter Rutland

CENTRAL BANK'S NEW MEASURES TO CONTROL COMMERCIAL BANKS. The Central
Bank (TsB) intends to monitor the financial situation of Russia's 20-30
largest commercial banks by transferring their accounts to the TsB's
central accounting department, Segodnya reported on 10 April. This move
is designed to eliminate the system of double accounting when banks have
two balances--one for internal use and another for the TsB. TsB also
introduced tighter controls over banks' operations in foreign financial
markets. The Central Bank insists that it will not support the "problem"
banks (about 20% of the total number of 2,500). Since 1993, more than
300 banks have had their licenses revoked, and another 300 banks are in
the process of being closed or merged, Segodnya reported on 6 April. A
survey revealed that 54% of the members of the Association of Russian
Banks consider a bank crisis "probable" in the near future, Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported on 10 April. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

PAKISTANI PEACEKEEPERS FOR NAGORNO-KARABAKH? Azerbaijani President
Heidar Aliev, on an official state visit to Pakistan, met on 10 April
with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to sign nine bilateral agreements on
economic and other issues, Turan and AFP reported. Bhutto also announced
a $1 million grant for Azerbaijanis made homeless during the Karabakh
conflict. She reiterated Pakistan's condemnation of "Armenian
aggression" and stated that Pakistan would be prepared to contribute a
contingent to an OSCE peacekeeping force for Nagorno-Karabakh, according
to Turan. -- Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PAPER DEFIES CENSOR TO PRINT LETTER "WRITTEN IN
HUMAN BLOOD." In its issue for 10 April the Azerbaijani newspaper
Muhalifat printed the text of an appeal, reportedly written in human
blood, by a member of the OPON special police imprisoned for his
participation in the March 1995 standoff with Azerbaijani government
troops, Turan reported the same day. The paper's staff have been called
to account for failing to submit the text to the government censor.
Speaking at an official meeting to mark the first anniversary of the
standoff, the head of Azerbaijan's presidential administration, Ramiz
Mekhtiev, charged that all Azerbaijani opposition parties, including the
Popular Front and Musavat, were implicated, possibly signaling a new
wave of reprisals, Turan reported on 5 April. -- Liz Fuller

U.S. NATO AMBASSADOR IN TURKMENISTAN. U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert
Hunter visited Ashgabat on 8 April for talks with Turkmen President
Saparmurad Niyazov on the country's future participation in the
Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, RFE/RL reported the next day. An
official Turkmen Press report noted that Ashgabat's arrangements to
cooperate with NATO do not contravene the country's policy of
neutrality. Turkmenistan became the first Central Asian country to join
the PfP in 1994 and, like its counterparts in the region, is preparing
to reach an agreement on several specifics, notably officer training,
budget planning, consultation, help with natural disasters, and military
modernization. -- Lowell Bezanis

ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF PRESS FREEDOMS IN KAZAKHSTAN. The Kazakhstan-
American Bureau on Human Rights alleged on 9 April that independent
journalists in the country are being increasingly persecuted by the
state and a new censorship regime has been introduced by the State Radio
and Television Committee. Kazakhstan's constitution formally bans
censorship. The bureau said that journalists who are persecuted by the
state for critical reporting are habitually accused of "slander" under
the country's criminal code. The report accused the state committee of
banning a number of programs that criticized the policies of regional
leaders, and of persecuting Erik Nurshin, the editor of the independent
newspaper Dozhivem do ponedelnika, for his publication's reporting. --
Bhavna Dave

OSCE MISSION HEAD IN TAJIKISTAN URGES COMPROMISE. The head of the OSCE
mission in Tajikistan, Gancho Ganchev, warned that the emergence of "a
third force" in the country is likely unless the Tajik government and
opposition reach a compromise, according to an 11 April ITAR-TASS report
cited by the BBC. He said an authoritative body of government and
opposition members should be formed to implement the peace agreement
signed last August. Meanwhile, citizens in the towns of Tursunzoda in
the west and Kurgan-Tyube in the south, where two armed rebellions took
place earlier this year, protested early this week over food shortages.
Protestors in Kurgan-Tyube also called for the release of Khoja Karimov,
a Tajik deputy and member of the now disbanded Popular Front that helped
the present government come to power, the BBC cited Interfax as
reporting. -- Bhavna Dave

[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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