Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 83, Part I, 26 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

RUSSIA

RUSSIA, CHINA SIGN ACCORDS. President Boris Yeltsin and his Chinese
counterpart, Jiang Zemin, issued a joint statement regarding the 15
agreements signed on 25 April, Russian and Western media reported. In
it, they outline their desire to create a strategic partnership, which
will include a mechanism for information exchanges, military
cooperation, nuclear cooperation, and border stability. Yeltsin also
relayed the message that China is now willing to consider signing the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as early as the end of September. The
Clinton administration welcomed the news, saying it was "very
encouraged" by the progress Yeltsin made in prompting this decision, AFP
reported. -- Roger Kangas

RUSSIA, CHINA SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. Russia and China signed on 25
April a series of accords to boost economic relations and cooperation in
the energy and nuclear energy sectors and space exploration, ITAR-TASS,
Reuters, and AFP reported. The countries signed a protocol aimed at
increasing two-way trade from $5.46 billion in 1995 to an annual total
of $20 billion eventually. In the first two months of 1996, the volume
of mutual trade rose by 20% on a year-to-year basis. The nuclear
agreements confirm Russia's participation in the construction of a $4
billion nuclear power plant in northern China. Russia also hopes to win
a bid to supply turbo generators to China's Three Gorges Dam. Other
accords included agreements on the protection of intellectual property
rights, quality controls for exports and imports, and the elimination of
illegal monopolies and illegal currency operations. -- Natalia Gurushina

YANDARBIEV VOWS REVENGE FOR DUDAEV'S DEATH. Speaking at a press
conference at an undisclosed location in Chechnya on 25 April, acting
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev confirmed the death of Dzhokhar Dudaev
and said that Chechen field commanders intend to exact revenge on those
members of the Russian intelligence responsible for the rocket attack
that killed him, NTV reported. He added that the revenge will not be
directed against "peaceful citizens of Russia." Yandarbiev added that an
investigation is underway to establish who gave the orders to kill
Dudaev, and ruled out the possibility of peace talks if evidence comes
to light that either President Yeltsin or Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin was directly involved. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev
told RIA that Dudaev's death removed any need for him to act as a
mediator between Yeltsin and the Chechen leadership. Russian Interior
Minister Anatolii Kulikov also confirmed Dudaev's death to Ekho Moskvy,
adding that some unnamed Chechen field commanders are now ready to cease
hostilities. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN THANKS CHORNOBYL CLEAN-UP WORKERS. Exactly 10 years after the
Chornobyl disaster, President Yeltsin thanked those who fought the fire
at the power station and said safety at nuclear power plants needs to be
stepped up, Reuters reported on 26 April. In a speech broadcast
nationwide on radio and television, Yeltsin said the victims of the
world's worst nuclear accident would never be forgotten. On the eve of
the anniversary, the Duma called on the government to increase social
benefits to the victims of the disaster. The Chornobyl Union said that
about 300,000 Russians participated in the clean-up operation; about
8,000 of them have died, while another 30,000 are invalids. -- Penny
Morvant

HARD-LINE COMMUNISTS DEBATE ALLIANCE WITH ZYUGANOV. The 5th congress of
the Russian Communist Workers' Party (RKRP) heatedly debated whether the
party should support Gennadii Zyuganov in the presidential campaign,
Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 25 April. The congress removed
Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov, who has signed on with Zyuganov,
from the position of secretary of the Central Committee and stripped his
newspaper, Molniya, of RKRP financing and its status as a Central
Committee publication. However, the congress stopped short of expelling
him because many members support an alliance with Zyuganov and the anti-
Zyuganov faction feared provoking a split. The party will only agree to
support Zyuganov if his Communist Party of the Russian Federation signs
a bilateral treaty with the RKRP. -- Robert Orttung

BABURIN: ZYUGANOV MUST WIDEN CAMPAIGN APPEALS. According to State Duma
Deputy Speaker Sergei Baburin, Gennadii Zyuganov's presidential campaign
is "too cautious" and too narrowly focused on people who already support
the Communist Party, in particular the elderly, the latest edition of
Pravda-5 reported. Baburin, a leading figure in Nikolai Ryzhkov's Power
to the People movement and its Duma faction Popular Power, said Zyuganov
must work with other social groups who might be inclined to support a
"popular-patriotic" candidate. Although Ryzhkov endorsed Zyuganov in
January, Baburin withheld his support and even flirted with joining the
"third force" group before finally announcing his support for the
Communist Party leader in early April. -- Laura Belin

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA BACKS YELTSIN AT THIRD CONGRESS. To no one's
surprise, the 3rd congress of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our
Home Is Russia movement endorsed President Yeltsin as the only person
capable of preventing new revolutionary upheavals in Russia. An appeal
issued to voters stressed that "We have gone too far toward the
stabilization and strengthening of Russia to allow the country to turn
back," Russian media reported on 25 April. Chernomyrdin told delegates
that a "fierce political battle" will be waged in the coming weeks, but
he told reporters later in the day that the president's campaign should
focus on consolidation, not just confrontation: "One can't build a
campaign exclusively on anti-communist slogans." Preserving Russia's
fragile stability was a constant refrain during Our Home Is Russia's
parliamentary campaign last year. -- Laura Belin

ZHIRINOVSKY CELEBRATES 50TH BIRTHDAY. Well-wishers offered gifts, drank
Zhirinovsky-brand vodka, and lavishly praised Liberal Democratic Party
of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on the occasion of his 50th
birthday, Russian media reported on 25 April. The North Ossetiyan branch
of the LDPR presented Zhirinovsky with a race horse. On the same day,
the LDPR hosted an "international congress of patriotic parties and
movements" in the party's State Duma offices. Members of right-wing
groups from Austria, Germany, Greece, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, and
Serbia discussed plans to create an international "patrintern" of
patriotic parties before adjourning to the birthday celebrations, ITAR-
TASS reported. -- Laura Belin

MILITARY ELECTORATE BACKS OPPOSITION. The military electorate--
servicemen, retirees, employees of the military-industrial complex, and
their families comprising 18-20 million people--will probably not
support President Yeltsin in the 16 June election, Nezavisimaya gazeta's
military supplement Voennoe obozrenie reported on 25 April. According to
data from the security ministries, 80-90% of military men voted in the
December Duma elections, well above the overall turnout figure of about
65%, making them about a quarter of the active electorate. In districts
where the military make up the majority of voters, the vast majority
supported the opposition during the December elections--23% voted for
the Communists, 21% for the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 17% for
the Congress of Russian Communities, and only 12% for the pro-government
Our Home Is Russia. The military is unhappy with the government because
of its slowness in providing housing, the Chechen war, and delays in
paying salaries. -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN REGIONS HAVE LITTLE LOVE FOR STALIN, BREZHNEV. Former Soviet
leaders Josef Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev have few supporters in the
Russian countryside, according to research conducted by the Russian
Independent Institute of Social and National Problems, Moskovskaya
pravda reported on 26 April. Lenin, however, is still revered by many.
Yurii Andropov is also popular for his attempts to impose discipline on
Soviet enterprises and government and for his attacks on bureaucratic
corruption. The study found a strong social basis for a return to
authoritarian rule since many people said they feel "shame for the
present state of our country," "a sense of injustice about what is
happening around me," and "fear of crime." -- Robert Orttung

NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY DRAFT UNVEILED. A working group under the
direction of presidential national security adviser Yurii Baturin has
drafted a 47-page paper entitled "Russia's National Security Policy,"
which defines the military and security interests of the Yeltsin
administration, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 25 April. The document
notes that Russia "abandons the principle of military-strategic parity
with the United States," condemns all forms of military aggression, and
reiterates its commitment to collective security, as established by the
15 May 1992 Tashkent Treaty. While supportive of drastic reductions in
nuclear weapons, the draft paper stresses that Russia will remain a
nuclear power for the foreseeable future. It also urges further reform
measures in the structure and organization of the armed forces, a
process already underway through recent legislation (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 25 April 1996). -- Roger Kangas

DUMA AMENDS LAW ON MILITARY SERVICE. The State Duma adopted an amendment
to the law on military service, passed in November 1995, that would
shorten the term of service from 24 to 18 months for soldiers serving in
areas of armed conflicts, Russian media reported on 25 April. ITAR-TASS
estimated that tens of thousands of soldiers who have already served for
18 months in so-called "hot spots" could be discharged if the amendment
goes into effect. In December, Yeltsin vetoed a similar amendment citing
procedural violations but issued his own decree allowing troops to be
discharged after 18 months if they are wounded or have been involved in
combat duty for at least one month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 December
1995). In February, the Duma failed to override that presidential veto,
but the new amendment was passed with a veto-proof majority of 325
votes. -- Laura Belin

TAX CODE GOES TO CONCILIATION COMMISSION. The Duma voted on 24 April to
set up a conciliation commission consisting of representatives of the
legislature, president, and government to further discuss the general
section of the draft Tax Code, Segodnya reported the following day. The
section was submitted to parliament three months ago, but the deputies
agreed that it needed further work before they would vote on it. Deputy
Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov said that the other three sections of
the code should be submitted to the parliament, government, and regional
leaders for discussion within a week. According to Shatalov, the code
envisages a reduction in the number of taxes from 150 to 30, reduces the
overall tax burden, and reduces the severity of penalties for tax
violations. He argued that it will provide a stimulus to investment and
production and allow for a much needed improvement in tax collection. --
Penny Morvant

CORRUPTION SCANDAL IN PERM. The head of the Perm Oblast Employment
Center, Vladimir Brokhin, has been arrested on corruption charges, Radio
Rossii reported on 25 April. Brokhin, who is reported to possess a
number of bank accounts in the U.S. and several apartments, allegedly
made money by distributing about 6 billion rubles ($6.4 million) in
government credits for job creation schemes to commercial companies. He
is said to have received a cut of the loans in bribes, while the rest of
the money simply disappeared. In the meantime, there have been long
delays in the payment of unemployment benefits in more than half the
oblast's raions. The heads of the Perm Mandatory Health Insurance Fund
and the Housing and Communal Services Center were also arrested
recently. -- Penny Morvant

PEPSI-COLA TO EXPAND IN RUSSIA. The Pepsi-Cola company has announced
that it intends to invest $550 million in Russia over the next five
years, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 April. In order to expand its production
and distribution network in the central, northwest, and eastern regions
of Russia, the company plans to build 11 new plants and 50 new
warehouses, install 29 new production lines, and buy 450 trucks and
thousands of new refrigeration units. This will create 5,000 new jobs in
Russia. The head of Pepsi-Cola's division for Eastern Europe and Central
Asia, David Jones, said the company aims to make Pepsi's soft drinks
available to 90% of the Russian population by the year 2000. -- Natalia
Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

BORDER SUMMIT IN SHANGHAI. Following the Beijing meeting of the Russian
and Chinese presidents, the two traveled to the city of Shanghai where
they joined the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan for
the 27 April signing of the agreement "On Confidence on the Frontier
Area," Russian and Western media reported. The agreement calls for the
reduction of military units along the border that China shares with the
four CIS states. The agreement also states that the signatory nations
will neither attack nor direct military exercises against one another,
along the 8,000 km border, ITAR-TASS reported. Prior to the meeting,
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that Russian President
Boris Yeltsin will visit Kazakhstan shortly after the signing to work
out a mutually acceptable plan on connecting a pipeline between the
Tengiz oil fields and the Russian port of Novorossiisk, Izvestiya
reported on 25 April. -- Roger Kangas

[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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