When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 73, Part I, 12 April 1996


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 SEEKS SUPPORT OF MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. President Boris
Yeltsin continued to use the benefits of incumbency by promising 2
trillion rubles ($400 million) of funding for defense plants beyond what
is in the budget, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported 11 April. Yeltsin
declared that for the first time since the beginning of the reforms, the
government had approved a schedule of financing for defense orders and
that he would personally monitor its implementation. He made the
announcement during a visit to Energomash, Russia's premier rocket
engine factory which has recently fallen on hard times. In response, an
unidentified group of leaders representing the "largest military
enterprises" announced that they would back Yeltsin since a Communist
victory would be "dangerous" for the high-tech industry, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

ZYUGANOV PROMISES TO BACK CHURCH. Communist presidential candidate
Gennadii Zyuganov, campaigning in Lipetsk as the country prepares for
Orthodox Easter, said that he would support and defend religion in
Russia if elected president, ITAR-TASS reported. However, he denounced
"overseas priests" who preach on Moscow television screens every Sunday
and try to introduce foreign elements to Russia's culture. He said that
he regularly visits Russian Orthodox churches and meets with church
figures. Zyuganov's writings praise Stalin for "understanding" the
importance of the church during World War II. -- Robert Orttung

ZHIRINOVSKY SETS UP CHILDREN'S LEAGUE. In an attempt to boost his
campaign for the presidency, Vladimir Zhirinovsky held a press
conference on 11 April to announce the creation of a youth branch of his
ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Zhirinovsky's Young Falcons, as the league, modelled
on the defunct communist pioneers, is to be known, were dressed in blue
uniforms, black neckties bearing the name of the LDPR in gold letters,
and Zhirinovsky's trademark black peaked caps. Zhirinovsky denied that
he intends to use the children for political purposes, but Reuters
quoted one of his aides as saying that they would take part in rallies
and hand out literature "supporting Vladimir Volfovich." -- Penny
Morvant

SHAIMIEV, NAZARBAYEV, READY TO NEGOTIATE WITH DUDAEV. The presidents of
Tatarstan and Kazakhstan, Mintimer Shaimiev and Nursultan Nazarbayev,
have been officially named as mediators between the Russian leadership
and Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported
on 11 April. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov told
Radio Mayak that one of Shaimiev's representatives is already in contact
with Dudaev, and Ingush Vice President Boris Agapov predicted that a
telephone conversation between the two presidents could take place in
the next few days. Dudaev's press secretary Movladi Udugov, however,
told Ekho Moskvy that fighting in Chechnya had intensified, which he
interpreted as an attempt to sabotage the peace talks. Meanwhile, the
commander of the Russian Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya, General
Anatolii Shkirko, said Dudaev's men had a choice between surrendering or
being wiped out. -- Liz Fuller

FEDERATION COUNCIL CHAIRMAN SUPPORTS FEDERATION. The parliament's upper
house chairman, Yegor Stroev, told OMRI on 12 April that he sees no
alternative to Russia's federative structure. He added, however, that in
practice Russia is often run as a unitary state. Stroev dismissed the
idea of abolishing all of the country's ethnic republics and dividing
the country into equal districts. On the other hand, he also rejected
the idea of giving a separate district to every single one of the
country's 150 distinct ethnic groups. Stroev also denounced the federal
government's current practice of signing separate power-sharing
agreements with each of Russia's federation subjects, arguing that such
agreements cause political, economic, and social inequality among the
regions. He added that although 12 federation subjects have already
signed such agreements, 80% of Russia's federation subjects are against
them. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

TsIK SATISFIED WITH TATAR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) is satisfied that the 24 March presidential election
in Tatarstan--in which President Mintimer Shaimiev ran unopposed--took
place in accordance with constitutional law. TsIK spokesman Parmen
Shenshin told OMRI on 12 April that although the Russian constitution
prohibits candidates from running unopposed, the Tatar constitution does
not include such a restriction. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

YELTSIN: BORDER DEMARCATION CONTINUES. President Yeltsin on 11 April
categorically refuted Primorsk Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko's
claims that the president had suspended the demarcation of a disputed
section of the Russo-Chinese border, Russian and Western agencies
reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 April 1996). Yeltsin, citing his
upcoming 24-26 April visit to Beijing, claimed that he had actually
signed a decree aimed at speeding up the demarcation of the border line.
Reuters reported that Yeltsin made no attempt to hide his visible anger
with Nazdratenko, whose statement he termed "incomprehensible." The
Primorsk governor is notorious for pandering to anti-Chinese sentiment
in his home region, where he was re-elected in December. -- Scott
Parrish

RUSSIA REFUSES TO SIGN CAIRO TREATY. Troubled by reservations that the
U.S. attached to the Pelinda Treaty, which makes Africa a nuclear-free
zone, Russia refused to sign the agreement in Cairo on 11 April,
international media reported. The U.S. excluded the British-administered
Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, where it has a military base, from
the agreement. A Russian diplomat told AFP that Russia had viewed Diego
Garcia as covered by the treaty, and was not warned about the U.S.
reservation. He said Russia will sign the agreement after formulating
its own reservations. AFP noted that the U.S. had also initially balked
at the agreement, fearing that it would prevent nuclear retaliation
against Libya if it uses chemical weapons. A White House spokesman later
announced however, that Washington does not view the treaty as
restricting such a response if Tripoli uses "weapons of mass
destruction." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-YUGOSLAV ENERGY DEAL. Russian Minister of Foreign Trade Oleg
Davydov and rump Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Shainovic signed
an energy deal in Moscow under which Russia will export 2.5 million
metric tons of oil and 3.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to rump
Yugoslavia annually, AFP reported on 11 April. The fuel will be shipped
via existing pipelines, although the agreement also creates a joint
venture to expand the pipeline network in rump Yugoslavia, in which the
Russian firm Gazprom has a stake. Belgrade will pay for the fuel with
unspecified goods, and it will not affect Russia's outstanding Soviet-
era debt to that country. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-BELARUSIAN COMMUNITY EXECUTIVE MEETS. The executive committee of
the Russo-Belarusian Community met for the first time in Moscow on 11
April, Russian media reported. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, who chairs the commission, opened the session by declaring
that the new community could succeed in attracting additional members
only if its current two members "synchronized" their economic policies.
The committee subsequently issued its first directives, granting
citizens of both member states equal rights to education and medical
care on the territory of the other. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-NORTH KOREAN COMMISSION HOLDS "PRODUCTIVE" MEETING. Deputy Prime
Minister Vitalii Ignatenko, leading a Russian delegation in Pyongyang,
termed the first meeting of the new economic commission "productive and
fruitful," saying it addressed the problems of mutual debts and
transport payments, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 April. While in Pyongyang,
Ignatenko, joined by Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov, also met
with high-ranking North Korean officials to discuss replacing the 1961
Soviet-North Korean treaty, which expires this September. Russia wants
to change the military assistance clauses of the treaty (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 8 September 1995). Meanwhile, in Moscow, Foreign and Defense
Ministry spokesmen said Russia would continue its military-technical
cooperation with North and South Korea, arguing that arms sales to both
countries do not jeopardize regional security. -- Scott Parrish

HEALTH WORKERS PROTEST. Medical workers in 60 Russian regions held
meetings and picketed local government buildings on 11 April to demand
the payment of wage arrears, higher wages, and increased spending on
health care, ITAR-TASS reported. The deputy chairman of the Union of
Health Care Workers, Vladimir Lyalin, said that the 1996 federal budget
allocation for health of 4.6 trillion rubles ($948 million) was only a
fifth of the sum requested by the Health Ministry. The financial crisis
in the health care system has resulted in shortages in medicines and
equipment and a deterioration in treatment, contributing to an increase
in infectious diseases and mortality rates. -- Penny Morvant

POLICE ARREST MISSILE DESIGNER'S MURDERER. Police in Yekaterinburg said
on 11 April that they had arrested six people in connection with the
murder of leading weapons designer Valentin Smirnov (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 21 March 1996). The Sverdlovsk Oblast procurator said Yurii
Pinzhenin, head of an enterprise affiliated with Smirnov's design
bureau, is suspected of having ordered the killing after Smirnov caught
him embezzling money from the enterprise. The arrests provided a boost
for law enforcement agencies, which have been heavily criticized in
recent years for failing to solve a series of high-profile contract
killings. -- Penny Morvant

FOREIGN TRADE STILL RISING. The volume of Russia's foreign trade in the
first two months of 1996 was $19.5 billion, a 10% increase over the same
period last year, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 9 April. Exports went
up by 7% (to $12.4 billion), and imports by 14% (to $7.1 billion). Oil,
gas, coal, and non-ferrous metals accounted for 61% of exports. Non-CIS
countries accounted for 79% of Russia's exports and 62% of imports.
Meanwhile, during the visit of First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir
Kadannikov to Rome, an agreement was signed rescheduling Russia's $450
million debt to Italy over the next 15 years. -- Natalia Gurushina

GOVERNMENT USING BANKS TO BAIL OUT THE REGIONS. The government has
ordered the Finance Ministry to guarantee credits given by the
commercial banks Stolichnyi Bank Sberezhenii (SBS), Menatep, and
ONEKSIMbank to a number of regional authorities, Kommersant-Daily
reported on 11 April. They include a 45 billion ruble ($9 million) SBS
construction loan to the Adygeya Republic, Menatep's 35 billion rubles
wage credit to Pskov Oblast, and ONEKSIMbank's 40 billion ruble credit
to Mordoviya. These bank loans will help plug holes in local budgets
without showing up as federal government spending. -- Natalia Gurushina

FINANCIAL PROBLEMS MAR 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF SPACE PROGRAM . . . The
director of the Russian Space Agency Yurii Koptev said that work on the
cargo module of the international space station Alfa is five months
behind schedule because of a lack of funds, Russian and Western media
reported on 10 April. If the delay is not eliminated by May, Russia
risks exclusion from the project. The national space program's funding
has fallen to 10% of the 1989 level. In the first quarter of 1996, the
industry received only 7% of the 3.3 trillion rubles ($674 million)
promised in this year's budget. Russia's revenue from commercial
launches ($350 million in 1995) was spent mainly on paying off old
debts. -- Natalia Gurushina

. . . BUT YELTSIN PROMISES TAX BREAKS. During his visit to the
Energomash scientific-industrial complex, President Yeltsin said the
government will implement a number of measures to support the space
industry, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 11 April. He said a decree
will be prepared to exempt companies participating in international
space programs from custom duties and taxes. He also announced the
establishment of a new space cadet school in St. Petersburg. -- Natalia
Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

REBELS THWARTED FROM CROSSING TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER. Five armed men
attempting to smuggle drugs from Afghanistan into Tajikistan were shot
dead by border guards who seized 159 kg of opium from the smugglers,
ITAR-TASS reported on 10 April. Border guards have confiscated about 700
kg of drugs so far this year. -- Bhavna Dave

VAN DEN BROEK IN UZBEKISTAN. A delegation led by EU Commissioner for
External Relations Hans van den Broek met with Uzbek President Islam
Karimov and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov in Tashkent for talks on
enhancing trade and economic relations between the EU and Uzbekistan,
Uzbek Radio reported on 8 April. Karimov touted Uzbekistan's work in
laying "a legal basis for a democratic society," according to an Uzbek
Radio report monitored by the BBC. The EU envoy, for his part, allegedly
praised the "serious progress" made in ensuring that "human rights were
defended and economic reforms carried out" in the country. -- 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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