We are always the same age inside. - Gertrude Stein
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 75, Part I, 16 April 1996

New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
- "Azerbaijan's Former President Arrested in Moscow," by Liz Fuller
- "The Battle over Polish Public TV is Won by the Ruling Coalition:  The
  New TVP President Has Been Nominated," 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
ROSSEL PARTY WINS SVERDLOVSK ELECTIONS. Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard
Rossel's party, Transformation of the Urals, led the field in the
competition for the lower house of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Duma, with 36%
of the vote, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 April. The Communist bloc came in
second with 15% of the vote. Our Home-Our City, the regional affiliate
of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia, won 13%.
About 3% supported Yabloko and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
Both Rossel and Our Home-Our City have pledged to back Yeltsin in the
June presidential election. The Sverdlovsk Duma elections were held
exclusively on party lists. The results of the upper house and local
government votes are still being tabulated. -- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

MORE CANDIDATES TURN IN SIGNATURES. Kemerovo Oblast legislature Chairman
Aman Tuleev, Democratic Russia leader Galina Starovoitova, and former
Federation Council member Vladimir Podoprigora turned in their
nomination signatures to register for the presidential election ahead of
the 6 p.m. 16 April deadline, NTV reported on 15 April. The Central
Electoral Commission is still considering the signatures of Grigorii
Yavlinskii, Svyatoslav Fedorov, Aleksandr Lebed, and Sergei Mavrodi. --
Robert Orttung

YELTSIN RAISES PENSION COMPENSATION PAYMENTS . . . In an attempt to
boost his standing with Russia's 3.7 million poorest pensioners,
President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree on 15 April raising pension
compensation payments, ITAR-TASS reported. The maximum compensation
payment, received by those on the minimum pension (63,500 rubles a
month), will be doubled on 1 May to 150,000 rubles ($31), bringing the
monthly total received by such pensioners to 213,250 rubles.
Compensation payments for those on higher pensions will be lower,
falling to a minimum of 85,000 rubles. Yeltsin also instructed the
government to submit a bill to the Duma raising pensions by 10% a month
from 1 May. The Duma has repeatedly sought to raise the minimum pension
by 20%--a move opposed by the government as too expensive. The cost of
the president's initiatives is estimated at 1.7 trillion rubles a month.
-- Penny Morvant

. . . PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR SCIENCE. . . Turning his attention to Russia's
impoverished scientific community, Yeltsin also pledged on 15 April to
lend greater support to fundamental scientific research and the Russian
Academy of Sciences, NTV reported. Speaking at a meeting marking the
100th anniversary of the birth of Nobel prize winning scientist Nikolai
Semenov, Yeltsin appealed for support for a second term as president in
order to prevent "a political and social Chornobyl." -- Penny Morvant

. . . AND WAVES RED FLAG. Yeltsin is preparing to sign a decree allowing
the display of the "red banner of victory" alongside the Russian
tricolor flag when marking state holidays, military events, and other
ceremonies, ITAR-TASS reported, quoting unnamed sources. Yeltsin hopes
the decision will honor the Russian heroes who planted the red flag of
the Soviet Union over the Reichstag in May 1945. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED PROPOSES SHARP REDUCTIONS IN ARMY. Duma deputy and presidential
candidate Aleksandr Lebed told RFE/RL on 10 April that he would
drastically cut the size of Russian military forces if elected
president. Recent Western estimates say the Russian army now has 91
divisions, although many are severely undermanned and lacking in combat-
readiness. Lebed suggested that Russia now needs only 15 fully-manned
regular armored and infantry divisions supplemented by 5-6 airborne
brigades, plus 15 reserve divisions. Lebed suggested the Air Force could
be reduced from its current level of 6,000 planes to 1,000. Smaller
forces would be more effective and less expensive to maintain, the
former general contended. -- Scott Parrish

GRACHEV ON RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA. Speaking in
Yekaterinburg on 15 April, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that
Russia would station 10,000 troops in Chechnya permanently but that the
remainder would be withdrawn in three phases--one to begin immediately,
the second in early May, and the third in November--from those areas
controlled by the Zavgaev leadership, AFP reported, citing Interfax.
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, however, told Reuters in a telephone
interview that he would only agree to negotiations with the Russian
leadership on the condition that all Russian troops withdraw. In a move
that suggests a split in the Dudaev camp, several of his field
commanders, including Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, met with
representatives of various Chechen political parties on 15 April and
agreed to convene a forum on 18 April to facilitate direct talks between
Dudaev and President Boris Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

TURKISH JOURNALISTS SENTENCED IN DAGESTAN. Two Turkish journalists have
been sentenced to three years imprisonment for attempting to enter
Chechnya from Azerbaijan via Dagestan in violation of Article 83 of
Russia's Criminal Code, according to a 12 April Turkish Radio and
Television report monitored by the BBC. The two men, Mehmet Ali Tekin
and Talip Ozcevik, are connected with the pro-religious conservative
daily Selam. The sentence they received was the maximum possible under
Russian law. Russia has repeatedly accused elements in Turkey of
supporting the Chechen rebels. -- Lowell Bezanis

PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: IRAN REACTOR DEAL THREATENS RUSSIA. Aleksei
Yablokov, head of the Ecological Safety Commission of the Russian
Security Council, told a Moscow press conference on 15 April that the
controversial Russo-Iranian deal to finish the uncompleted nuclear power
station at Bushehr could give Iran access to technology that would allow
it to build nuclear weapons, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Yablokov said that training Iranian specialists to run the plant would
permit Iran to make significant progress "toward the creation of its own
nuclear armaments." The remarks, which come shortly before the 19-20
April G-7 nuclear security summit in Moscow, directly contradict the
official Russian government position. -- Scott Parrish

SERGIEV POSAD PROTESTS CHEMICAL DISPOSAL PLANT. Residents of Sergiev
Posad (formerly Zagorsk), about 70 km north of Moscow, oppose plans to
reprocess toxic liquid missile fuel in the town, NTV reported on 13
April. A plant there will reprocess up to 10,000 tons of heptyl, much of
it removed from deactivated Russian ballistic missiles, at a new
facility there, constructed with U.S. assistance under the Nunn-Lugar
program. Vasilli Goncharov, the mayor of the town, told NTV that
hundreds of local residents had signed petitions opposing the plant,
citing fears of environmental damage. Residents also object to what they
claim are plans to import foreign heptyl for processing. Genrykh
Matysyak, director of the plant, said only Russian heptyl will be
processed there and argued that the facility will boost the local
economy by creating new jobs. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA URGES RESTRAINT ON NORTH KOREA. Russian Deputy Prime Minister
Vitalii Ignatenko said he managed to "somewhat shake North Korea" into
softening its stance on relations with South Korea during his 10-12
April visit to Pyongyang, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Tensions have been high along the Demilitarized Zone separating the two
Koreas since Pyongyang renounced the 1953 armistice agreement earlier
this month. Ignatenko admitted, however, that North Korean officials had
repeatedly said they viewed war between North and South Korea as
"inevitable." Backtracking from earlier statements, Ignatenko also
acknowledged that no progress had been made on settling North Korea's
debts to the former USSR, valued at over 3 billion transferable rubles,
which Russia inherited in 1991. -- Scott Parrish

MYSTERIOUS URALS COMPLEX THREATENS NUNN-LUGAR AID. The Russian Defense
Ministry is building an underground complex near Beloretsk
(Bashkortostan), that may threaten U.S. disarmament aid to Russia, The
New York Times reported on 16 April. Russian officials refuse to reveal
the purpose of the huge complex, which Clinton administration officials
speculate may be anything from a command-and-control bunker for Russian
nuclear forces to a secret weapons depot. Russia claims financial
hardships will hamper the full implementation of arms control agreements
such as START II, but it appears that the complex in the Urals is
swallowing significant funds. Under current U.S. law, Nunn-Lugar
disarmament aid can only be disbursed to Russia if the U.S. president
can certify that Russian military programs do not exceed "legitimate
defense requirements." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-ESTONIAN WATER DISPUTE. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei
Krylov delivered a formal protest to Estonian Ambassador Mart Helme on
12 April, complaining that authorities in the Estonian border city of
Narva had cut off water supplies to the neighboring Russian town of
Ivangorod, ITAR-TASS reported. Narva authorities cited unpaid bills as
the reason for shutting off the water. Krylov added that 880 million
rubles ($180,000) in back payments had been made by 12 April, and that
all outstanding debts for water would be paid during the next week.
Russian gas supplies to the Baltic states have frequently been shut off
since 1991 because of unpaid bills. -- Scott Parrish

LIVING STANDARDS IMPROVE IN FIRST QUARTER. Average real income increased
by 2% in the first three months of 1996 in comparison with the same
period last year, Radio Rossii reported on 15 April, citing Goskomstat.
The number of people living below the poverty line fell from 45.1
million (30%) in the first quarter of 1995 to 35.9 million (24%). Income
differentials between the richest and poorest social groups have shrunk
somewhat, with the ratio between the income of those in the top 10% and
the bottom 10% falling from 13.6:1 to 13.5:1. -- Penny Morvant

AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURERS IN CRISIS. In the first three months of this
year, Russian airlines did not place a single order for a new aircraft
from domestic producers, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 April. Viktor
Samokhin, the head of the aviation department of the Transport Ministry,
said that the number of civilian aircraft commissioned fell from 292 in
1992 to 180 in 1993, 47 in 1994, and 28 in 1995. Russian airlines cannot
raise loans to buy replacements to modernize their aging stock of 8,500
aircraft, while Boeing has leased 15 of its craft to Russian companies.
The Finance Ministry has set aside just $100 million to finance the
construction of seven aircraft this year. -- Peter Rutland

LACK OF CAPITAL THREATENS RUSSIA'S SECURITY. A report for the Security
Council prepared by the government's Financial Academy concludes that
the shortage of capital in Russia is a threat to national security,
Izvestiya reported on 16 April. Russia needs $150 billion to restart
economic growth, but this investment capital cannot be generated either
domestically or through foreign investment. The report also warned
against the current practice of funding the budget deficit by issuing
GKOs. A financial crash could provide a pretext for an attempted return
to a planned economy, which would leave Russia "among the lagging
economies of the Third World." Bella Zlatkis, the head of the Securities
Department at the Finance Ministry, denied that GKO emissions amount to
a "pyramid scheme," although she admitted that the government is in
danger of "putting all its eggs in one basket." -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

YILMAZ IN BAKU. Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz held talks in Baku
on 14-15 April with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev to discuss the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the export of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil,
Turan and Western agencies reported. Yilmaz also stated Turkey's
readiness to offer "all kinds of assistance" to Azerbaijan in
modernizing its armed forces, according to Turan on 14 April. Aliev said
the views of the two countries' leaders on all regional and
international issues are close if not identical. Yilmaz promised Aliev
Turkey's Alican border gate with Armenia would not be opened unless
Armenia began to retreat from Azerbaijani territory, Yeni Yuzyil
reported on 15 April. Cumhuriyet on 16 April quoted Aliev's foreign
policy adviser, Vafa Guli-Zade, as saying that although Yilmaz is a
"great politician," he is "an amateur" on the subject of Karabakh. --
Liz Fuller

EU OFFICE OPENS IN ALMATY. The EU established an official representative
office in Almaty on 12 April, Russian TV reported. EU External Relations
Commissioner Hans van den Broek said that EU measures to consolidate
relations with Kazakhstan will not affect the union's partnership with
Russia. The EU has offered another long term package in addition to the
$100 million in technical aid, which makes it the single largest donor
to Kazakhstan. The EU is especially interested in the construction of
pipelines to export Kazakhstan's oil and gas. -- Bhavna Dave

RUSSIA GAINS KYRGYZ ASSETS IN RETURN FOR DEBTS. The Kyrgyz government
has agreed to repay part of the country's $132 million debt to Russia in
the form of state-owned shares in 39 industrial and mining enterprises,
ITAR-TASS reported on 15 April. The debts stem from the credits granted
to Kyrgyzstan in 1992-1993. Russia has agreed to take 66% and 70% stakes
in two tobacco companies, a 34% stake in the Kyrgyz Electromechanical
Plant, and a 70% stake in the Kyrgyz Chemical-Metallurgical Plant.
Russia is also interested in acquiring shares in electrical energy
companies. New owners of the transferred stakes in Russia will be
registered as Russo-Kyrgyz joint ventures. -- Natalia Gurushina

[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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