I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm

No. 87, Part I, 03 May 1996

Newly published OMRI Analytical Briefs:
No. 92: "Man Tied to Kidnapping Case of Slovak President's Son Killed in
         Explosion," by Sharon Fisher
No. 93: "Censorship in Belarus," by Ustina Markus
No. 94: "Is Rump Yugoslavia Aiming at Its Own Foreign Policy," by
         Stan Markotich
No. 95: "How Free Is the Media in the CIS?," by Laura Belin

Available on the World Wide Web:

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


YELTSIN TO MEET WITH DUDAEV'S WIDOW? Russian President Boris Yeltsin may
meet in Moscow during the next few days with Alla Dudaeva, widow of the
Chechen president, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 2 May. Speaking in
Yaroslavl on 2 May, Yeltsin also reaffirmed his intention to visit
Chechnya in order to thank Russian troops serving there and give impetus
to the peace progress, perhaps by meeting with Chechen field commanders.
Meanwhile, Russian federal forces extended for 48 hours their ultimatum
to some 300 Chechen fighters in the besieged town of Shali, 30 km
southeast of Grozny, to surrender their arms. The town's residents have
already begun to flee in anticipation of a Russian assault. -- Liz

YELTSIN WOOS LEBED. President Boris Yeltsin met with rival presidential
candidate Aleksandr Lebed on 2 May to discuss the election campaign,
Russian and Western media reported. On 30 April, Yeltsin campaign
organizer Sergei Filatov had told ITAR-TASS that Yeltsin hoped to
convince some of his opponents to quit the race and support him.
However, when he emerged from the half-hour session, Lebed told NTV that
"we established the fact that I will be participating in the election."
Lebed denied reports that Yeltsin had offered him a government post,
such as defense minister, in return for his support but said he and
Yeltsin had agreed that all candidates should refrain from inciting
ethnic and class tensions. According to the former general, Yeltsin also
suggested that all candidates sign a formal pledge not to challenge the
election results, a move Lebed endorsed. -- Scott Parrish

signed a decree on 30 April on state strategy for ensuring "economic
security," Radio Mayak reported the following day. The decree deals with
the nature of internal and external threats to economic security and
policy mechanisms to protect Russia's national interests in this regard.
Among the threats identified by Yeltsin are the high degree of poverty
and large differentials in wealth distribution in the country;
deformations in the structure of the economy, such as the increased
dependence on the energy sector, the large number of loss-making
companies, the dominance of imports over domestically produced goods;
and the criminalization of society and the economy. -- Penny Morvant

. . . AND SUPPORT FOR VETERANS. Also on 30 April, Yeltsin issued a
decree ordering additional measures to implement the Law on Veterans,
Radio Rossii reported on 2 May. A series of financial benefits outlined
in the law have not been paid, causing discontent that Yeltsin, with an
eye to the elections, is keen to minimize. The decree orders the
president's envoys in the regions to report back to the Main Control
Administration on implementation of the law and the Procurator's Office
to increase its monitoring. ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April that this
year's budget allocates 6.5 trillion rubles ($1.4 billion) to assisting
veterans--enough to cover the cost of only a fifth of the benefits they
are entitled to. -- Penny Morvant

called on presidential candidates Boris Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov to
hold pre-election negotiations and all other candidates to withdraw from
the race, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 2 May. The union claims
that a sharp change in the country's political course could lead to an
armed confrontation and the collapse of Russian statehood. The Cossacks'
request follows a similar appeal by 13 leading bankers and entrepreneurs
last week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 April 1996). The majority of the
Cossacks support Yeltsin's candidacy. -- Anna Paretskaya

MILLIONAIRE STANDS FOR SOCIALISM. Millionaire presidential candidate
Vladimir Bryntsalov said he is forming a party to be called the Russian
Socialist Party (RSP), which will stand for a "truly Russian model of
socialism." The party program, published as a paid advertisement in Trud
on 30 April, proposes that presidential powers be limited and that the
victorious party in a parliamentary election be given authority to form
the government. The RSP, one of several new socialist parties, rejects
radical political views, including fascism and communism. In April,
former Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and another presidential candidate,
Martin Shakkum, formed the Socialist Party of Russia and the Socialist
Popular Party of Russia, respectively. -- Anna Paretskaya

Primakov arrived in Strasbourg on 2 May to attend Russia's first session
of the Council of Europe Ministerial Committee as a full member of the
council. Addressing an informal gathering of foreign ministers that
evening, Primakov declared that Russia attaches great importance to the
council and hopes to "work effectively" with it. He said Russia expects
the council to take "more consistent and vigorous" steps to protect the
rights of Russians living in the Baltic states, and elaborated on
Moscow's plans to resolve the Chechen conflict, which were recently
criticized by the council's Parliamentary Assembly. In remarks linked to
Russian opposition to NATO expansion, Primakov also suggested that
Moscow would like to see the council as the "cornerstone" of a new all-
European security system "without dividing lines or blocs." -- Scott

Nuclear Energy is cooperating with its U.S. counterpart in studying
methods of recycling the plutonium recovered from dismantled nuclear
warheads, Deputy Nuclear Energy Minister Nikolai Yegorov reported on 2
May. Radio Rossii quoted him as saying that at least six methods are
under investigation, ranging from deep underground burial to
reprocessing the plutonium into fuel for atomic power reactors. He said
the studies are to be completed by June of this year. -- Doug Clarke

RUSSIA, SWEDEN SIGN AGREEMENTS. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and
his Swedish counterpart, Goeran Persson, signed several agreements on
closer coordination between Russian and Swedish police and border
control agencies in Stockholm on 2 May, Russian and Western agencies
reported. In his meetings with Swedish officials, Chernomyrdin
emphasized the importance of foreign investment in making economic
reform in Russia "irreversible." He urged Sweden, which currently ranks
33rd in foreign investment in Russia, to take a more active role in this
area. The Russian leader also raised security issues with his hosts,
however, including NATO expansion, which Russia opposes, and the
situation of the Russian minority in the Baltic states. Moscow may hope
for some indirect support from Stockholm on these issues because of
Sweden's traditional stands in support of neutrality and human rights.
-- Scott Parrish

ANTI-WAR DEMO IN MOSCOW. Activists from a number of public
organizations, including the Radical Party and Memorial, took part in a
demonstration on 2 May in Moscow to protest the war in Chechnya,
Ekspress-khronikha reported. The demonstrators carried banners reading
"Human life is more precious than the territorial integrity of Russia
and the independence of Chechnya," "Peace in Russia! Life to our sons!"
and "Troops go home, calm in Chechnya!" Organizer Irina Bagantseva told
Ekho Moskvy that similar demonstrations will be held every Thursday in
May and June. More than 120 Russian soldiers and many civilians have
been killed in Chechnya in the first half of April despite the peace
plan announced by Yeltsin on 31 March. -- Penny Morvant

LIVING STANDARDS IN MOSCOW. According to the Moscow Federation of Trade
Unions, only 45,000 people are officially registered as unemployed in
the capital, which has a population of more than 9 million. Many
workers, however, are not being paid on time: the unions say 450
enterprises owe a total of 347 billion rubles ($70 million) to their
employees. Workers in the fuel industry earned the highest wages in the
capital--2.7 million ($545) a month in March. The average monthly wage
in the capital is almost 920,000, while the subsistence minimum is
690,000, according to the federation. -- Penny Morvant

RUBLE HOLDS VALUE, ECONOMY SLUGGISH. In April, monthly inflation was
less than 2.8%, Economy Minister Yevgenii Yasin told ITAR-TASS on 30
April. However, industrial output fell by a disturbing 7% in the first
quarter of the year. The low inflation has meant that the ruble has only
slipped to 4,940/$1--still within the declared corridor of 4,550-
5,150/$1, which was set for six months in January 1996. The Central Bank
has been allowing a creeping devaluation of 3-4 rubles a day. However,
NTV reported on 2 May that for the past three weeks speculative pressure
against the ruble has been increasing in the off-exchange interbank
market. -- Peter Rutland

chairman of the Interstate Economic Committee, discussed the development
of economic cooperation within the CIS on Radio Mayak on 2 May. He
explained that by "an accident of history" there are three alliances
within the CIS: the Central Asian Union, the union of the four (Russia,
Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan), and the union of the two (Belarus
and Russia). He argued that these bodies form a "pyramid" of increasing
integration. The "foursome" is focusing on building a customs union,
while the "twosome" is looking at a payments union and the creation of a
common currency. Pokrovskii conceded that monitoring the implementation
of the 600 plus agreements signed by CIS member states is a difficult
challenge. -- Peter Rutland


ADZHARIA DENIES ISSUING ULTIMATUM. The press center of the Adzhar
Supreme Soviet has refuted Georgian and Western reports that Adzhar
leader Aslan Abashidze demanded that the Georgian leadership bestow
presidential status on Adzharia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 May),
according to ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii. -- Liz Fuller

GRACHEV IN ARMENIA. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev visited
Yerevan on 2 May to sign several military cooperation agreements,
including protocols on joint military planning and training, and
cooperation in air defense, ITAR-TASS reported. He told Russian Public
Television (ORT) that Russia's military cooperation with Armenia was the
best of all the CIS member states, and that the two sides were planning
the "coalition deployment" of the two countries' armed forces if
circumstances required such a step. Radio Rossii reported that Grachev
and Patriarch Aleksii II, who is also visiting Armenia, will lay wreaths
at a memorial to Russians who died in the 1827 war with Persia. -- Doug

OFFICIAL NAME CHANGES IN UZBEKISTAN. In one of its first acts, the Uzbek
Oliy Majlis (parliament) voted to change two more place names from their
Soviet-era designations, Narodnoye slovo reported on 30 April. In the
region of Jizzak, the town of Ulyanovo has been changed to Dashtobod,
while in Andijan, the Komsomolabad District has been renamed Ulugnor
District. Both changes were requested by the regional councils of the
respective areas. -- Roger Kangas

UN DRUG SEMINAR IN TASHKENT. A UN-sponsored conference on narcotics
trafficking opened in Tashkent on 3 May, ITAR-TASS reported.
Participants will discuss the logistical problems of implementing a
supraregional three-year program on government cooperation, as well as
special technical projects to help curb the flow of drugs in the region.
Representatives from the Central Asian states, Russia, the U.S., U.K.,
Iran, Turkey, India, Afghanistan, and other states are among the 200
delegates. The conference will focus on the drug-corridors through the
Tajik city of Murgab, the Kyrgyz city of Osh, and the Uzbek city of
Andijan. -- Roger Kangas

President Imomali Rakhmonov on 30 April expressed his desire to once
again extend a fragile ceasefire agreement with the Tajik opposition
that expires on 26 May, the BBC reported. Rakhmonov, speaking to U.S.
Ambassador to Tajikistan Grant Smith, said his government would do
everything possible to achieve results at peace talks. Meanwhile, the
Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan reported on 1 May that two
representatives of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan (DPT) were
arrested on 22 April in the northern town of Ura-Tyube. An Iranian
source, Salam, reported that 40 students from Tajikistan who were
accepted at Qazvin International University in Iran were denied
permission to travel to that country. The Tajik Education Ministry
claimed it was concerned about the influence of Islamic fundamentalism.
-- Bruce Pannier

BANK SCANDAL IN KYRGYZSTAN. At a 29 April meeting of the government
commission fighting economic crimes, Kyrgyz prosecutors charged 17 bank
directors with misusing credits, according to a 30 April Kyrgyz Radio
broadcast monitored by the BBC. The heads of 17 joint-stock banks are
charged with illegally allocating nearly 28 million som (about $2.5
million) in credits between the period of early 1995 and the first
quarter of 1996. More than 5 million som has been recovered. -- Bruce

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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