Eat to live, and not live to eat. - Benjamin Franklin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 78, Part I, 19 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
ADMINISTRATION DENOUNCES RUMORS OF FALSIFICATION. The deputy chief of
staff for President Boris Yeltsin's administration, Vyacheslav Volkov,
has rejected rumors in the mass media that the voting results will be
falsified as an attempt by the opposition to encourage "the population's
indifference to the elections," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 April.
Meanwhile, the procurator general for a second time suspended a Supreme
Court order to the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to register
wealthy Duma member Vladimir Bryntsalov as a presidential candidate, NTV
reported on 18 April. While Bryntsalov has no chance of winning, the
machinations around his candidacy belie the image of an orderly campaign
the authorities claim to want to project. Additionally, TsIK Financial
Director Tamara Petronavichus announced that two months before the
election the commission has only received 40% of the funds budgeted to
it and that the situation is worse than during the December
parliamentary campaign. -- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

NATIONAL-SOCIALIST ENDORSES YELTSIN. Aleksandr Barkashov, leader of the
openly national-socialist Russian National Unity (RNE), announced that
nationalists are satisfied with President Boris Yeltsin and warned that
the election of Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov would lead to
civil war, NTV reported on 18 April. Barkashov launched his own
presidential bid earlier this year, but he did not submit a signature
list to the Central Electoral Commission before the 16 April deadline.
In October 1993, Barkashov supported Yeltsin's hard-line parliamentary
opponents, and RNE members in black shirts were involved in street
clashes outside the White House. The president's team did not comment on
Barkashov's endorsement, suggesting that it is unwelcome. -- Laura Belin

ZHIRINOVSKY, YELTSIN, ZYUGANOV HAVE HIGHEST NEGATIVE RATINGS . . . The
latest VCIOM nationwide poll found that 56% of respondents would not
want to see Vladimir Zhirinovsky elected president under any
circumstances, Segodnya reported on 18 April. President Yeltsin had the
second-highest negative rating of 37%, and Gennadii Zyuganov ranked
third with 27%. Yeltsin was especially disliked by supporters of
Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov, while Zyuganov was especially disliked by
those who plan to vote for Yeltsin or Grigorii Yavlinskii. If, as
expected, no candidate wins 50% of the vote in the first round, the
ability of the top two candidates in a run-off to attract supporters of
their defeated rivals will be crucial. -- Laura Belin

. . . POLL RESULTS CAST DOUBT ON "THIRD FORCE" ALLIANCE. The poll
results also indicated that Grigorii Yavlinskii, Aleksandr Lebed, and
Svyatoslav Fedorov--who are still negotiating on a common presidential
bid--appeal to different electorates. According to an analysis published
in Segodnya on 18 April, all three candidates have low negative ratings:
9% of respondents would not want to see Lebed elected under any
circumstances, 6% said the same about Yavlinskii and 4% about Fedorov.
However, Lebed is especially disliked by supporters of Yavlinskii and
Fedorov. Lebed told ITAR-TASS on 17 April that he, Yavlinskii, and
Fedorov will not make a final decision on an alliance before mid-May. --
Laura Belin

OPPONENT ASSAILS SOBCHAK POLICIES IN ST. PETERSBURG. Gubernatorial
candidate and St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev denounced
his opponent and boss Mayor Anatolii Sobchak's policies, saying that
they would change the city's orientation from banking and tourism to
industry and tourism, RFE/RL reported on 18 April. Yakovlev also accused
the city's electoral commission of trying to discredit him because it
alleged that many of the signatures he collected were falsified. Former
Federation Council member Yurii Boldyrev, the only potential candidate
with a chance of beating Sobchak, recently won a court case that will
allow him to begin collecting nomination signatures, although the
Constitutional Court has yet to make a final ruling on his candidacy.
The electoral law requires candidates to live in St. Petersburg for one
year before the election, but Boldyrev had lived in Moscow while working
as the city's representative on the Council. -- Robert Orttung

SPLIT IN CHECHEN LEADERSHIP? The representatives of various Chechen
political parties and field commanders loyal to President Dzhokhar
Dudaev convened in the village of Shali on 18 April to discuss a
settlement to the conflict, NTV reported. Among the participants was
Dudaev's chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, who in an interview published
in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 18 April had argued in favor of a "calm,
sober, and realistic" assessment of the geo-political, military, and
economic aspects of Chechen-Russian relations. Maskhadov also advocated
direct talks between Russian and Chechen representatives but excluding
pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev. NTV reported on 18 April that
Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Beslan Gantemirov has split with Zavgaev's
"pro-Russian" position and is seeking to form a shadow cabinet. -- Liz
Fuller

DUMA CALLS FOR DAY OF MOURNING. The Duma called an unplanned break in
its work on 19 April to draft an appeal to President Yeltsin calling on
him to declare a day of mourning in honor of the Russian soldiers killed
near Yarysh-Mardy in Chechnya on 16 April, ITAR-TASS reported. The
commander of federal troops in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov,
described the estimates that 70-90 troops died in the ambush by Dudaev's
forces as "exaggerated." On 18 April, NTV reported that 93 Russians died
in the attack, more than twice the original estimates. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA RATIFIES INTEGRATION ACCORDS. The Duma unanimously ratified the 2
April agreement forming the Russo-Belarusian community at its 19 April
session, ITAR-TASS reported. At the same meeting, the Duma also
unanimously ratified the 29 March quadripartite integration agreement
signed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Both agreements
now go to the Federation Council for approval. -- Scott Parrish

FOREIGN MINISTRY SLAMS PRIMORSK GOVERNOR. Deputy Foreign Minister
Aleksandr Panov harshly criticized Primorsk Krai Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko for his opposition to the 1991 Soviet-Chinese border
agreement, Russian media reported on 18 April. Panov accused Nazdratenko
of attempting to torpedo implementation of the agreement and undermine
Russo-Chinese relations. Russian TV (RTR) quoted Panov as systematically
refuting as "mythical" all Nazdratenko's objections to the agreement and
denying that areas scheduled for transfer to China under the accord are
either economically or strategically significant. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN CALL FOR NUCLEAR-FREE ZONE IN CENTRAL EUROPE. Yurii Baturin,
President Yeltsin's national security adviser, on 18 April called for
the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in Central and Eastern
Europe, Western media reported. Hinting that Russia might drop its
opposition to NATO's eastward expansion if his proposal were put into
force, he suggested that such a zone could also include Belarus and
Ukraine. Nuclear Energy Minster Viktor Mikhailov had earlier suggested
that the NATO nuclear powers copy Russia's plan to pull all nuclear
weapons back onto its own territory. He repeated this idea on 18 April,
according to ITAR-TASS, saying that Russia expects "similar steps" from
other countries. The Russians have put this issue on the agenda of the
G-7 nuclear safety conference. -- Doug Clarke

ZYUGANOV BLASTS NUCLEAR SAFETY SUMMIT. In a front-page article in the 18
April issue of Sovetskaya Rossiya, Communist presidential candidate
Gennadii Zyuganov attacked the G-7 nuclear safety summit that opens in
Moscow on 19 April. Attempting to undermine President Yeltsin's image as
a strong defender of Russian interests, which will be emphasized in the
official press coverage, Zyuganov argued that the meeting will actually
be used by the West to "erode the sovereignty of the Russian state." He
attacked Yeltsin for allowing the West to impose a "one-sided approach"
to nuclear safety issues in which Russia is portrayed as a special
threat to international security. He described this "totally unfounded"
portrayal as a revamped version of the "evil empire concept," and
charged that under its guise Russia is "becoming directly dependent" on
aid from other countries and the international organizations that they
control. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, CANADA SIGN NUCLEAR ACCORD. Russian Nuclear Energy Minister
Viktor Mikhailov and Canadian Ambassador to Moscow Jeremy Kinsman signed
an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy on 18
April, Russian and Western agencies reported. The agreement, signed
following a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and
his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, calls for joint research
into how plutonium from decommissioned Russian nuclear warheads can be
converted into fuel for nuclear power reactors. -- Scott Parrish

REPORT ON NUCLEAR WASTE IN NORTHERN FLEET. The Norwegian environmental
organization Bellona said on 18 April that the START II treaty should be
renegotiated to avert an ecological disaster at Russian nuclear
submarine bases, Western agencies reported. In a detailed report on the
dangers of the nuclear waste generated by the Russian Northern Fleet,
co-authored by jailed former Russian naval officer Aleksandr Nikitin,
Bellona said 52 decommissioned submarines are still waiting to have
radioactive waste removed from their reactors. It said that the fleet's
storage capacity is exhausted and that the storage installations are in
poor condition. Bellona argues that dismantling the remaining missiles
as envisaged by the START II treaty should be halted until the problem
of storing spent nuclear fuel is resolved. -- Penny Morvant

THIEVES MAKE OFF WITH RAILROAD TRACK. A group of thieves dismantled half
a kilometer of railroad track at a station in Primorsk Krai and smuggled
it across the border into China using false papers, NTV reported on 18
April. A total of 94 rails were stolen from a siding at the Talovoe
station near the border and sold to buyers in China before the theft was
discovered. Transport police have now detained six suspects, who were
allegedly paid $200 each to carry out the operation. -- Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT DISCUSSES PRIVATIZATION . . . At an 18 April government
session, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin stressed that the government
is not going to reconsider 1995's privatization results, including the
loans-for-shares auctions, ITAR-TASS and other Russian media reported.
He said the absence of a mechanism to attract investments in privatized
companies, the inefficient management of the state-owned stakes of
shares, legal infractions, and a weak defense of shareholders' interests
were the major handicaps of the process. Chernomyrdin noted that the
government's new strategy should include selling companies' shares at
their market prices, and moving to a pin-point privatization. He also
asked the deputy head of the State Property Commission, Alfred Kokh, to
develop measures to buy out the equity stakes of some companies
(Sibneft, Surgutneft, YUKOS, and Norilsk Nikel, according to Kokh) that
were transferred to commercial banks in the course of the loans-for-
shares auctions. -- Natalia Gurushina

. . . AND IMPORT QUALITY CONTROLS. Chernomyrdin also said that
protecting the domestic market from "poor quality imports" should be a
major priority for Russia, adding that the existing system of import
quality controls is unsatisfactory, ITAR-TASS reported. He noted that in
1995, imported consumer goods accounted for 54% of domestic consumption-
-a sharp increase from the 19% recorded in 1993. Economics Minister
Yevgenii Yasin pointed out that 8% of imported goods (mostly from China,
Vietnam, Belgium, Germany, and CIS countries) were below the minimum
quality standards. Chernomyrdin said the government is preparing to
introduce new measures to protect the market from low quality imports.
However, he stressed that new quotas and import bans alone will not
solve the problem but that the solution also lies in developing
legislation to provide the public with consumer rights information. --
Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKHSTAN WARNS UIGHURS IN CHINA AGAINST SECESSION. Kazakhstani Foreign
Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev warned China's Uighurs against attempting
to secede or exploiting the "Islamic factor," AFP reported on 19 April,
citing Kazakhstanskaya pravda. Tokayev's statement comes one week before
representatives from China and neighboring CIS states are to meet in
Shanghai to discuss border issues. Kazakhstan has repeatedly supported
China's efforts to curb separatist activities in Xinjiang. About 5.5
million Uighurs live in China's Xinjiang province, which borders on
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Some of the estimated 180,000 exiled Uighurs
living in Kazakhstan have links with Uighur separatist groups. One of
them, Yusupbek Mukhlissi, leader of the Revolutionary United National
Front of Eastern Turkistan in Xinjiang, told AFP that "the struggle for
the liberation of Uighurs will go on." Last week, Kyrgyzstan put a
three-month ban on its local Uighur society, Ittipak (Unity), for its
"separatist activities" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 April 1996). -- 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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