The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. - Charles Darwin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 89, Part I, 07 May 1996


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Note to readers: Due to the observance of a Czech holiday, the OMRI
Daily Digest will not appear on Wednesday, 8 May 1996.
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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

YELTSIN: ELECTION WILL BE HELD ON SCHEDULE. President Boris Yeltsin
announced that the election will be held on schedule on 16 June and
criticized his body guard Aleksandr Korzhakov for suggesting that they
would be postponed, NTV reported on 6 May. Yeltsin said he told
Korzhakov not to get involved in politics and not to make such
statements in the future. Korzhakov's proposal provoked wide-ranging
denunciations in the Russian press, ranging from Constitutional Court
justices to the organizers of Yeltsin's campaign effort. The timing of
the generally secretive Korzhakov's proposal is peculiar since Yeltsin
has now drawn even with Zyuganov in opinion polls. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED REJECTS ALLIANCE WITH YAVLINSKII. Lt. Gen. (retired) Aleksandr
Lebed announced on 6 May that he would not withdraw his candidacy in
favor of Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and that he would fight to
the end of the campaign. For the past two months, the Russian press has
speculated over whether Lebed and eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov would
withdraw from the race in favor of Yavlinskii. -- Robert Orttung

BUSINESSMEN ISSUE ANOTHER APPEAL TO CANDIDATES. The thirteen businessmen
whose 26 April appeal asked President Yeltsin and Zyuganov to compromise
issued another letter on 6 May denouncing the "extremist forces"
surrounding the main candidates. The statement equated Korzhakov's call
for postponing the elections with communists who summon their supporters
to fight until "the last drop of blood" has been shed, NTV reported. The
appeal and Korzhakov's statement may be part of an orchestrated effort
to drive a wedge between the moderate and extreme communists. Yeltsin
can now say that he has disciplined the extremists in his camp, after
reprimanding Korzhakov, but Zyuganov has yet to denounce the extreme
communists he has worked so hard to include in his coalition. -- Robert
Orttung

YAVLINSKII'S CONDITIONS TO YELTSIN. Excerpts from a letter Grigorii
Yavlinskii gave President Boris Yeltsin during their 5 May two-hour
meeting were published in Izvestiya on 7 May. Yavlinskii stated that his
conditions for supporting the president include the implementation of an
economic policy "to stimulate production and relieve the tax burden," a
social policy to guarantee that real income increases and wages are paid
on time, and military reform. He also demanded that Yeltsin end the war
in Chechnya, take "urgent measures" to stop crime, and stop putting
political pressure on the media. Yavlinskii's chances of being elected
president are considered slim, but his support in a second round between
Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov could be crucial. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN WARNS OF REFORMS BEING REVERSED. In an interview with Delovye
lyudi, President Yeltsin argued that his reforms are not irreversible,
ITAR-TASS reported on 6 May. He rejected the arguments of "some factions
within Russia's democratic forces" that the legal base created in the
last few years would prevent a return to the past. He also criticized
the idea that conditions in the country would force any political party
that comes to power to carry on the current economic reforms. He said
that his opponents were prepared "to act without any limits, as happened
after 1917." He characterized the Communists as a "party of revanche"
that rejects "any moral norms" and is driven by a thirst for revenge
against "those who managed to employ their talents, live better, or see
the world previously hidden by the iron curtain." -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV WARNS WEST AGAINST SUPPORTING YELTSIN. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, on a visit to Germany, warned the West against
backing President Yeltsin in the June election, saying it would be a
mistake to support just one politician, Reuters and AFP reported on 6
May. Although Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel
refused to meet with Zyuganov, he did meet with all of the parliamentary
party leaders, including Wolfgang Schaeuble, leader of Kohl's Christian
Democrats. Zyuganov also had an off-the-record exchange of views with
about 40 bankers and industrialists. Zyuganov said his visit to Germany,
at the invitation of the German Foreign Policy Society and German-
Russian Forum, will be his only trip abroad during the campaign. -- Anna
Paretskaya

YELTSIN DECREE INCREASES JUSTICE MINISTER'S POWERS. A presidential
decree signed on 3 May will speed up legal reform by granting the
Justice Ministry some powers previously assigned to the procuracy,
Russian TV (RTR) reported on 6 May. Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev
said that from now on judicial bodies will be able to open criminal
cases and carry out investigations concerning crimes in the justice
system. Kovalev added that the decree will help make sure judicial
decisions are better enforced, especially in the civil liberties area.
In addition, the decree expands the ministry's rights to monitor the
compliance of public organizations' activities with their statutory
aims, as well as the implementation of the constitution, federal laws,
presidential decrees, and government resolutions, ITAR-TASS reported on
3 May. -- Laura Belin

MASKHADOV, IMAEV AGREE TO TALKS. Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov
formally stated on 6 May that he is ready for talks with the Russian
military command in Chechnya on military but not political issues,
Russian media reported. Usman Imaev, the former procurator in Dzhokhar
Dudaev's leadership and one of the Chechen representatives to last
summer's peace talks, also said talks could take place soon. Chechen
First Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla Bugaev, however, ruled out acting
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev as a negotiating partner, saying he is
incapable of "a sensible compromise," Russian Public TV (ORT) reported.
Also on 6 May, Chechen and Russian Interior Ministry forces checked the
identification of residents of the town of Shali, which has been
blockaded for two weeks by Russian troops because of the alleged
presence of Chechen rebel fighters. The verification proceeded without
incident, but no information is available concerning the number of
weapons confiscated and persons detained, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz
Fuller

RUSSIA, CHINA TO SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT. Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev and Chinese Chief of Staff Fu Quanyou met in Moscow to discuss
Russian-Chinese military relations and sign a military-technical
cooperation protocol, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 May. Although no details
were released, the protocol specifies the terms of the 1993 bilateral
military-technical cooperation agreement. Following the April 1996
Shanghai agreement signed by Russia, China, and three Central Asian
states on creating a buffer zone along their borders, Grachev and Fu
Quanyou discussed reducing armed forces stationed on the Russia-Chinese
border. Grachev said the two countries are "strategic partners," but
both Russia and China have repeatedly insisted that such a partnership
is not a military alliance. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIAN-BRITISH ESPIONAGE ROW. A diplomatic scandal has broken out
following the arrest by the Federal Security Service (FSB) of a Russian
citizen allegedly spying for Britain's Secret Intelligence Service
(SIS), Russian and Western agencies reported. FSB spokesman Aleksandr
Zdanovich said the unnamed Russian was apprehended while making radio
contact with London. The suspect later confessed to working for SIS and
revealed details of its Moscow network, which operates out of the
British Embassy, he added. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov
subsequently called in British Ambassador Andrew Wood to protest and
expel several members of the British Embassy staff "for activities
incompatible with diplomatic status." The British Foreign Office has
denied the allegations, and British Foreign Minster Malcolm Rifkind
later threatened retaliation if Russia goes ahead with the expulsions.
-- Scott Parrish

CUBAN-RUSSIAN BARTER CONTRACT HITS SNAG. Vladimir Bzhdugov, deputy
director of international ties for the Russian firm "Alfa-Eko," told
ITAR-TASS on 6 May that his company has suspended implementation of the
Cuban-Russian sugar-for-oil barter deal signed in October 1995. The
contract calls for firms chosen by the Russian government to deliver 1.5
million metric tons of oil to Cuba in exchange for 500,000 tons of sugar
during 1996. Bzhdugov said the contract was frozen because Cuba had
fallen behind in delivering the sugar. -- Scott Parrish

OFFICIAL: PLUTONIUM STORAGE SITE UNDERFINANCED. Viktor Fetisov, director
of the "Mayak" nuclear reprocessing plant, told ITAR-TASS on 6 May that
shortfalls in government financing are hindering the construction of a
$300 million storage facility for weapons-grade plutonium and uranium at
his plant. The facility, which is being financed jointly by the U.S. and
Russia, is intended to provide secure storage for fissile materials from
dismantled former Soviet nuclear weapons and should be finished by 1998.
Fetisov warned that the failure of the Finance Ministry to deliver the
necessary funds could lead to the suspension of construction work. --
Scott Parrish

NUCLEAR MATERIAL STOLEN FROM SIBERIAN LABORATORY. A scientist in an
institute in Krasnoyarsk has been arrested by the Federal Security
Service in connection with the theft of radioactive materials, ITAR-TASS
reported on 7 May. The scientist had reportedly processed and smuggled
out of the country more than 1 kg of materials that could be used in the
preparation of nuclear weapons. The closed city of Krasnoyarsk 26 was
one of the main centers of plutonium production, while Krasnoyarsk 45
formerly manufactured enriched uranium. -- Peter Rutland

INFLATION HITS RECORD LOW. The April inflation rate was only 2.2%, the
lowest since 1991 and down from 2.8% in March, Ekho Moskvy reported on 6
May. Goskomstat suggests that annual inflation for 1996 may be as low as
34%, compared to 131% in 1995 and 300% in 1994. The government argues
that the slowdown in inflation will encourage investment, but there is
no sign yet that economic growth has restarted. Most analysts expect
serious financial instability in the second half of this year, not least
because of the yawning budget deficit, which stands at 20 trillion
rubles ($4 billion) for the first quarter, according to Finansovye
izvestiya of 7 May. -- Peter Rutland

TELECOM SEEKS FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Russia is again looking for foreign
capital to revive the "People's Phone" project, ITAR-TASS reported on 6
May. Communications Minister Vladimir Bulgak said that in order to add
20 million new telephones to the existing 26 million by 2010, Russia
will need to attract $750 million worth of foreign investment in 1996.
(Foreign investment in the sector totaled $520 million in 1995.) The
project was launched in October 1994 by the 50/50 consortium of Western
and Russian companies. Western firms withdrew in March 1996 following
Russia's attempts to halve their equity participation, while the
ministry's efforts to set up a new consortium favoring Russian companies
(Rostelekom, Svyazinvest and Rossiiskie Nalozhennye Seti) failed due to
the latter's lack of capital. -- Natalia Gurushina

AVIATION COMPANIES' PLANS TO BUY FOKKER MAY BE HALTED. The Russian
government is blocking the plans of the Tupolev Aircraft Company and
Yakovlev Aircraft Design Bureau to buy a controlling interest in the
bankrupt Dutch aviation firm Fokker, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. In
order to raise $370 million to buy Fokker shares, the companies sought a
government-guaranteed loan. However, Finance Ministry officials said
that the 1996 budget does not envisage such expenses, and suggested that
the money would be better spent investing in Russian aircraft
manufacturers. The takeover may also be obstructed by Fokker's former
owner, the German company DASA, which holds licenses for the production
of aircraft equipment and plans to develop its own manufacturing of
short-range flight planes in cooperation with West European firms. --
Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MOSCOW UNWILLING TO HAND OVER MUTALIBOV. Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General
Eldar Hasanov arrived in Moscow on 6 May in the hope of expediting the
extradition to Baku of former president Ayaz Mutalibov, accused of
masterminding two alleged unsuccessful coup attempts, Russian media
reported. Russian Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov told ITAR-TASS that
Baku has not yet provided the necessary evidence against Mutalibov,
whose fate must be decided by 12 May--one month after his detention in
Moscow. -- Liz Fuller

URANIUM SMUGGLERS APPREHENDED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Authorities in Kazakhstan
have detained two men from Ust-Kamenogorsk, who were in possession of
more than 100 kg of low-enriched uranium-235, according to the 5-11 May
edition of Obshchaya gazeta. The two men were connected to the Ulba
holding company, which has previously sold uranium to the U.S. The
authorities recently found 4 kg of uranium, one kilogram of thorium,
which can be converted into uranium-233, and 10 kg of indium, an
extremely rare element, in a car attempting to leave the Ust-Kamenogorsk
area. -- Bruce Pannier

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA BANNED IN KAZAKHSTAN? The Procurator-General has
asked the Supreme Court to ban the Russian weekly Komsomolskaya pravda
from Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. The justification for the
move, according to Kazakhstani officials, is that an 23 April article
entitled "Conversations with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn" was a "rude
interference in the internal affairs of an independent government." The
government said that the move was prompted by a group of Kazakhstani
writers. -- Roger Kangas

MORE TERROR IN TAJIKISTAN. The 65-year-old rector of the Dushanbe
Medical School, Yusuf Iskhaki, was gunned down on 6 May near the
capital, according to RFE/RL and AFP. Another six people were killed in
a separate attack on a road some 50 km outside Dushanbe. There has been
an increase in the number of violent attacks in Tajikistan as the 26 May
deadline for the ceasefire agreement to expire approaches. -- Bruce
Pannier

RAKHMONOV IN TURKEY. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov arrived in Turkey
on 5 May to sign nine bilateral agreements, such as accords on mutual
investment protection and judicial, sports, tourism, and transport
cooperation, Western and Turkish media reported the same day.
Rakhmonov's first visit to Turkey follows Turkish President Suleyman
Demirel's first trip to Tajikistan last September. To date, Turkey has
invested an estimated $150 million in Tajikistan according to AFP.
Turkey's belated expressions of interest in Tajikistan are part of its
efforts to gain credibility in Central Asia and compensate for its
earlier stress on supporting Turkish ethnicity in the region. Rakhmonov
also told Demirel that Dushanbe has definitively identified the exact
location of the remains of General Enver Pasha, the leading member of
the triumvirate that effectively ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1908
until its collapse in World War I. The remains will be returned to
Turkey. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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