If there is anyone listening to whom I owe money, I'm prepared to forget it if you are. - Errol Flynn
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 91, Part I, 10 May 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

YELTSIN ADDRESSES MILITARY PARADE . . . Thousands of soldiers marched
across Red Square on 9 May to mark the 51st anniversary of the end of
World War II, Russian and Western agencies reported. President Yeltsin,
flanked by Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, reviewed the parade by 7,370
military personnel. In contrast to Soviet times, no heavy weaponry was
on show. The occasion gave Yeltsin the opportunity to hammer home his
patriotic credentials. Atop the Lenin Mausoleum, he hailed the victory
over Nazi Germany and the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in
the struggle. He also lauded the red Soviet-era victory flag, which flew
alongside the Russian tricolor, as a sacred symbol of the Motherland. In
a bid to win the support of veterans, Yeltsin issued a decree on 16
April restoring the flag as an official symbol for ceremonies marking
the victory over Nazi Germany. -- Penny Morvant

. . . COMMUNISTS ALSO RALLY. While Yeltsin addressed the military
parade, Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov led an estimated 30,000-
50,000 supporters on a victory rally through Moscow. The marchers
included young communists and war veterans bearing portraits of Lenin
and waving Soviet flags. Zyuganov said on 8 May that if elected
president he would call a referendum on replacing the tricolor with the
Soviet flag. He argued that the Russian flag was used by Russian
collaborators who fought alongside the Germans against the Red Army in
World War II. The rally had a pre-election feel, with supporters
chanting "Victory to Zyuganov!" The communist leader himself said that
Russia is now at war again "but a war in which the main weapon is lies.
We are promised happiness and prosperity, but crime and theft have
become the rule." Zyuganov was accompanied by numerous left-wing
leaders, including former Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi and
former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN VISITS VOLGOGRAD. President Yeltsin also visited Volgograd, the
former Stalingrad, to mark the 9 May holiday, the first time since the
war that a Russian leader has left the capital during the celebrations.
In the city of the decisive World War II battle, he was met by cheering
crowds who yelled "we love you" and "Yeltsin is a democrat," according
to the official ITAR-TASS agency. The president observed a moment of
silence at the memorial on the Mamaev kurgan (a giant statue of a woman
holding a sword) in the city. He also met with young people who were
mainly interested in housing questions; Yeltsin said that he was
planning to build more apartments. He also pledged 10 billion rubles for
the reconstruction of a local library. -- Robert Orttung

GORBACHEV GETS COLD RECEPTION IN VOLGOGRAD. Former Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev was met by jeering protesters from the orthodox
communist Workers' Russia movement during a 9 May campaign stop in
Volgograd, Russian and Western media reported. Viktor Anpilov, leader of
Workers' Russia, confronted Gorbachev as the ex-president inched through
a largely hostile crowd to place a wreath at the memorial commemorating
the battle of Stalingrad. Anpilov, backed by banners reading "No place
for traitors on the holy ground of Stalingrad," blasted Gorbachev for
causing the collapse of the USSR. Gorbachev retorted that inflexible
communists like Anpilov and Gennadii Zyuganov wrecked his attempts to
reform the USSR. -- Scott Parrish

YAVLINSKII MOVES CLOSER TO ALLIANCE WITH YELTSIN. Yabloko leader
Grigorii Yavlinskii moved closer to an alliance with President Boris
Yeltsin, telling the BBC that "the issue we are going to discuss would
be a first in Russian history: a political coalition between the
government and democratic opposition," Reuters reported on 9 May.
Yeltsin and Yavlinskii met on 5 May and since then Yavlinskii has been
hinting that he will give the president greater support. That meeting
was only the second time the two men have spoken since Yeltsin became
president. Contradicting earlier reports that Yavlinskii wants the prime
ministerial position and that Yeltsin is not prepared to offer it,
Yavlinskii indicated that Yeltsin had raised the possibility of naming
him prime minister, but that he is "not prepared to discuss this issue."
Although Yavlinskii still has numerous reservations about working with
Yeltsin, he may have no choice but to support the president to avoid a
communist victory. -- Robert Orttung

TV AND RADIO COMPANIES IN DEBT TO COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY. The
Communications Ministry is owed 720 billion rubles ($145 million) for
1995 and the first three months of 1996 by Russian television and radio
broadcasting companies, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. The main debtors
are the state-owned stations Radio 1, Radio Mayak, and Radio Yunost,
along with the state-owned Russian TV network (RTR) and the 51% state-
owned Russian Public TV network (ORT). A spokesman for the ministry said
that the failure of broadcasters to pay for communications services is
creating a financial crisis for communications enterprises, which lack
the funds to maintain transmission equipment adequately. Those
enterprises in turn owe about 240 billion rubles ($48 million) to power
engineering workers. Wage arrears for staff of communications
enterprises are estimated at 112 billion rubles ($23 million). -- Laura
Belin

ANOTHER JOURNALIST KILLED IN CHECHNYA. The body of Nina Yefimova, a
correspondent for the pro-Russian Chechen newspaper Vozrozhdenie, was
found in Grozny on 9 May, ITAR-TASS reported. She had been shot more
than once in the head. Colleagues suggested Yefimova's death may have
been connected to a recent series of articles she had written on crime
in Chechnya. She is the 18th journalist to be killed in Chechnya since
fighting escalated in December 1994. Most of those have been accidental
deaths, but Yefimova is the second journalist to be abducted and shot in
recent weeks. In April, Obshchaya gazeta correspondent Nadezhda Chaikova
was found dead in the breakaway republic; she had been severely beaten,
blindfolded and shot execution-style in the back of the head. -- Laura
Belin

ST. PETERSBURG DEMOCRATS REFUSE TO BACK INCUMBENT MAYOR. A number of
democratic parties have jointly decided not to support St. Petersburg
Mayor Anatolii Sobchak in the local election on 19 May, St. Petersburg
Channel 5 TV reported on 6 May. An agreement to that effect was signed
by the regional leaders of Svyatoslav Fedorov's Party of Workers' Self-
Government, Irina Khakamada's Common Cause, Boris Fedorov's Forward,
Russia!, and Marina Sale's Free Democratic Party of Russia. The bloc
called on Sobchak's main rivals, Yurii Boldyrev, Aleksandr Belyaev, and
Aleksandr Belyakov, to rally behind a single candidate who would have
the best chance of defeating Sobchak. Sobchak is running at about 30% in
the polls--far ahead of the other 17 candidates. -- Anna Paretskaya

JEWISH CEMETERY DESECRATED IN KURSK. Forty gravestones at an ancient
Jewish cemetery in Kursk were damaged recently, Russian TV (RTR)
reported on 7 May. Kursk Jewish community members say they have been
receiving an increasing number of anonymous telephone threats. Many
local Jewish residents, afraid of violence, want to leave the area and
community leaders have turned to the Israeli Embassy, the Russian Jewish
Congress, and several U.S. human rights organizations for assistance. --
Anna Paretskaya

OFFICIAL: NO LINK BETWEEN SPY SCANDAL AND ELECTIONS. President Yeltsin's
foreign policy aide, Dmitrii Ryurikov, characterized as "idiotic"
suggestions that Russian authorities had deliberately provoked the
recent espionage scandal with Britian in order to bolster the
president's re-election campaign, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Some Russian media reports suggested that the incident was engineered so
that Yeltsin could posture as a "tough" defender of Russian national
interests. Meanwhile, talks between British and Russian officials aimed
at defusing the incident continued, according to the British Foreign
Office. While Moscow has threatened to expel nine British diplomats for
spying, an official declaration of their expulsion has not yet been
issued. -- Scott Parrish

SITUATION ON SECURITIES MARKET "HIGHLY UNSTABLE." Uncertainties over the
state of financial markets after the June election have pushed interest
rates on government securities to very high levels, Kommersant-Daily
reported on 8 May. Three-month GKOs are trading at an effective annual
interest rate of 160%, and six-month paper at 210%. At the 24 April
sale, six-month GKOs with a face value of 2.1 trillion rubles ($400
million) were sold at an effective rate of 130% (i.e. 70% of nominal).
About half of them were bought by foreigners. The current market offers
rich pickings for foreign investors, who can buy six-month GKOs and
hedge against ruble depreciation by buying dollar futures. Such an
operation will yield a hard-currency return of 155% per year. The high
rates make it expensive for the government to raise money to cover the
budget deficit. The Finance Ministry issued 6 trillion rubles worth of
securities in March and 11.5 trillion in April. -- Peter Rutland

WORLD BANK FUNDS HOUSING PRIVATIZATION. The World Bank approved on 8 May
a $300 million loan to help finance the transfer of housing from firms
to new private owners in six pilot city projects, ITAR-TASS reported.
Firms have been encouraged to divest housing since the launch of the
mass privatization program in 1992, but tenants and local councils are
reluctant to take over housing because of the burden of maintenance and
utility costs. In the pilot cities, the councils already have managed to
increase the proportion of operating costs paid for by tenants from 13%
to 35%. The six cities, chosen by competition, are Novocherkassk,
Orenburg, Petrozavodsk, Ryazan, Vladimir, and Volkhov. The Russian
government will spend another $250 million on the project, mainly for
building repair and the installation of meters. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

PRIMAKOV VISITS STEPANAKERT, YEREVAN. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov held talks in Stepanakert on 9 May with Robert Kocharyan,
president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported. Primakov said he was "very satisfied" with the
talks but refused to give details. On returning to Yerevan, Primakov
again discussed possible solutions to the Karabakh conflict with
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, according to Radio Rossii. Ter-
Petrossyan noted the importance of extending the two-year-old ceasefire
until the signing of a political settlement of the conflict, ITAR-TASS
reported on 10 May. -- Liz Fuller

TURKEY WITHDRAWS FINANCING BID FOR BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE. Turkey has
withdrawn a proposal to provide $250 million for a pipeline running from
Baku to the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa, Reuters reported on 9 May.
The move was prompted by last week's decision by the Azerbaijani
International Oil Consortium (AIOC) and Azerbaijan's state oil company
SOCAR to reject Turkey's conditions for building the line, which
amounted to their commitment to building another pipeline down to
Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Earlier in the week, the AIOC
announced that it would finance the Baku-Supsa line. Turkish Foreign
Minister Emre Gonensay will travel to Washington to seek U.S. support
for the Baku-Ceyhan route. Turkey has committed itself to exploring
alternatives to the Baku-Supsa-Ceyhan line with Georgia and Azerbaijan.
-- Lowell Bezanis

ANTI-IRANIAN DEMONSTRATION IN BAKU. Some 100 people demonstrated outside
the Iranian Embassy in Baku on 9 May to demand a halt to the persecution
of ethnic Azeris in Iran, RFE/RL reported. Hundreds of Iranian Azeris
living in Azerbaijan have reportedly been arrested for demonstrating in
support of Azeris who stood as candidates in the Iranian parliamentary
election. -- Liz Fuller

MALARIA EPIDEMIC IN AZERBAIJAN. The incidence of malaria in Azerbaijan
has skyrocketed in recent years, with 2,802 cases reported in 1995
compared with only 23 in 1993, Western agencies reported on 9 May
quoting a World Health Organization report. The majority of those
affected are reportedly persons displaced as a result of the Nagorno-
Karabakh conflict. The WHO expressed concern that the disease could
spread to neighboring countries. -- Liz Fuller

INTEGRATION EFFORTS IN CENTRAL ASIA. The presidents of Uzbekistan,
Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan reconfirmed their commitment to further
economic integration in a joint statement at the 6 May summit in
Bishkek. In addition to general comments on political and regional
cooperation, the statement, published in Narodnoe slovo on 7 May,
stressed the need for the states to "make effective use" of their
industries and create a "mutually beneficial division of labor." One
area of expressed concern was water resource management. In an effort to
promote integrative measures, a new weekly, Central Asia: Problems of
Integration, will be launched. -- Roger Kangas

AUTHORITIES RELEASE TAJIK DEMOCRATIC PARTY MEMBERS. The two Tajik
Democratic Party (DPT) representatives who were arrested on 1 May (OMRI
Daily Digest, 3 May 1996) have been released by the authorities,
according to an 8 May Voice of Radio Free Tajikistan report monitored by
the BBC. The still unnamed men were held for spreading anti-government
propaganda and possessing copies of the outlawed newspaper Charoghi Ruz.
No reason was given for their release. -- Bruce Pannier

RED CROSS/RED CRESCENT THREATENS TO PULL OUT OF TAJIKISTAN. The Red
Cross/Red Crescent, which was on the verge of obtaining its own chapter
in Tajikistan, is now saying it may leave the Central Asian country all
together, according to a 7 May Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report
monitored by the BBC. Complaining of government interference at times
and total indifference at others, the organization said it may "cease
its activities in Tajikistan." The group was instrumental in the last
official exchange of prisoners between the government and the
opposition, which took place in November 1994, and has rendered aid to
Tajik refugees inside northern Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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