Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced. - Henry David Thoreau
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 103, Part I, 28 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

NEW CHECHEN CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT. President Boris Yeltsin flew to Grozny
on 28 May to meet with local residents and Russian troops, AFP reported.
The day before, Yeltsin initialled an agreement signed by acting Chechen
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin in Moscow on a complete ceasefire beginning at midnight on
31 May. The two also signed an agreement on the release within two weeks
of all hostages and other persons forcibly detained, Russian media
reported. The ceasefire is based on the 30 July 1995 demilitarization
agreement. The issue of Chechnya's future status vis-a-vis the Russian
Federation was not raised, but ITAR-TASS on 27 May quoted the head of
the Russian presidential commission on federation power-sharing, Sergei
Shakhrai, as saying that a document has been prepared that gives
Chechnya "a series of special powers within the context of the Russian
Federation." The Chechen delegation is to continue talks in Moscow with
members of the Russian government commission on Chechnya. -- Liz Fuller

ZYUGANOV CAMPAIGNS IN SOUTH. . . Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii
Zyuganov took his campaign to the southern region of Rostov Oblast,
Russian media reported on 27 May. In Rostov-na-Donu, he issued a
statement promising to implement programs to benefit Cossacks if elected
president, ITAR-TASS reported. He also told a group of about 8,000 in
the mining village of Novoshakhtinsk that he would increase state
support for miners and guarantee all citizens the right to work, rest,
and housing. This is Zyuganov's penultimate campaign trip before the
first round of the presidential election. In early June, he will visit
several regions in Siberia. -- Laura Belin

. . .AS TV COVERAGE STRESSES THE NEGATIVE. Zyuganov's party is
traditionally strong in the south, and the KPRF received about 27% of
the vote in Rostov Oblast in the December 1995 parliamentary election.
However, the bulk of Russian television coverage of Zyuganov's 27 May
trip was devoted to anti-Communist protesters. Russian Public TV (ORT)
did not report Zyuganov's promises to Cossacks but mentioned Cossacks
who picketed the KPRF leader. Russian TV (RTR) reported that pickets
greeted Zyuganov at every event of the day and blocked the entry road to
Novocherkassk. NTV, Russia's most influential private network, also led
with the pickets, quoting one who recalled a massacre at a workers'
demonstration in 1962, at which at least eight people were killed. NTV
closed its report by mentioning that unlike Yeltsin, Zyuganov is a poor
improviser on the campaign trail, and "in the coming days he will hardly
be able to tell voters anything new." Hecklers at Yeltsin rallies are
rarely, if ever, shown on national television. -- Laura Belin

NIZHNII NOVGOROD LEADERS URGE VOTERS TO BACK YELTSIN. Nizhnii Novgorod
Governor Boris Nemtsov and Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Ivan Sklyarov signed
an appeal calling on residents of their region to back President Yeltsin
in June as a guarantor of stability, RTR and Radio Rossii reported on 27
May. Russia needs a president who stands above political parties, and
all votes cast for representatives of a "third force" will work to
Gennadii Zyuganov's advantage, the document asserted. The appeal is
mainly aimed at pro-reform voters, traditionally strong in the region's
capital, who might be inclined to support Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii in the first round of the presidential election. Yavlinskii
helped draft the economic reform program Nemtsov implemented in Nizhnii
Novgorod in 1992. In the December 1995 Duma elections, the Communist
Party finished first in the region with about 18% of the vote, Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia came in second with
12%, and Yabloko and the pro-government Our Home Is Russia each received
about 10%. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON MINIMUM PENSION. President Yeltsin on 27 May signed
a bill raising the minimum pension by 10% to 69,575 rubles ($14) a month
as of 1 May, Ekho Moskvy reported. The bill was passed by the Duma on 17
April and the Federation Council on 15 May. Deputies had earlier sought
to increase pensions by 20% but agreed to the smaller increase after
Yeltsin signed a decree doubling compensation payments for those on the
minimum pension. -- Penny Morvant

MORE POWER-SHARING AGREEMENTS SIGNED. At a Kremlin ceremony on 27 May,
President Yeltsin signed two power-sharing agreements: one with Irkutsk
Oblast and the Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug (AO), and a another with
the Republic of Chuvashiya, Russian media reported. Yeltsin hailed the
trilateral agreement with Irkutsk Oblast and the Ust-Orda Buryat AO as
unique among the 14 similar agreements that the federal government has
signed with other constituent members of the Russian Federation. It
outlines the division of powers and responsibilities between Moscow,
Irkutsk, and the Ust-Orda Buryat AO, located within Irkutsk Oblast.
Posturing as the builder of a new, stronger Russian state, Yeltsin
argued that the power sharing agreements had already proven themselves
as the basis of a new federalism in Russia, which he said was based on
the principle of giving the regions "the kind of independence which they
can handle...within the framework of the constitution." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN NORTH KOREA. A delegation led by
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev met with Yang Hyong-sop, chairman of the
North Korean Supreme People's Assembly, and other leading North Korean
officials on 27 May, Russian media reported. Seleznev will not, however,
be received by reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The Duma
speaker expressed satisfaction with improving bilateral ties but added
that further development of cooperation requires not only good will, but
progress on issues like North Korea's debt to Russia. Tightly
controlling media coverage, North Korea refused entry visas to
journalists from ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and RIA-Novosti who asked to
accompany Seleznev, although it granted one to a correspondent from the
pro-communist newspaper Pravda. In February, Pyongyang slammed ITAR-TASS
for its coverage of a hostage-taking incident at the Russian embassy
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 February 1996). -- Scott Parrish

U.S. BUSINESSMAN DENIES ESPIONAGE CHARGES. Richard Oppfelt, the U.S.
businessman whom the Federal Security Service (FSB) accused of espionage
and claimed to have expelled from Kamchatka on 10 May (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 13 and 14 May 1996) has denied the FSB allegations, AFP reported
on 27 May. Oppfelt said that while in Kamchatka, he and a Russian naval
officer discussed the possible conversion of a decommissioned naval base
into a commercial fishing plant. The FSB, he added, later used a tape of
these business discussions to attempt to browbeat him into confessing to
espionage. Oppfelt was later released after refusing to confess. A
spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it has "no reason" to
believe Oppfelt was spying, and has requested a clarification of the
incident from the Russian government. -- Scott Parrish

ARMY LEARNING LESSONS FROM CHECHEN WAR. The Russian Army has been
undergoing a critical re-evaluation of its hardware in light of its
experiences in Chechnya, according to Ogonek no. 21. At a recent meeting
in Khankal, the head of the Defense Ministry's armor section, Col. Gen.
Aleksandr Galkin, said that 225 of the 2,221 armored vehicles sent into
action were destroyed in the first 45 days of the war, including 62
tanks. This does not include vehicles that were damaged and subsequently
repaired. In response to these high losses, a conference in February
1995 ordered emergency measures, including the fitting of reactive armor
to the sides of tanks. The article concluded: "On the one hand, industry
is supplying the army with bad technology, on the other, the army does
not know how to use it." -- Peter Rutland

TEACHERS ON STRIKE IN BURYATIYA. Teachers at a majority of schools in
Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatiya, went on strike on 27 May, ITAR-TASS
reported. They are seeking the payment of back wages and assurances that
their holiday pay will be disbursed on time and are threatening to
cancel graduation exams if their demands are not met. The republican
authorities are waiting for 248 billion rubles ($49.6 million) in
federal subsidies to cover the holiday pay. A local union representative
said that teachers refrained from disrupting exams last year after they
were assured payment would soon be forthcoming; however, they did not
receive all their holiday money until the start of the new school year.
Teachers throughout Russia have repeatedly protested against wage
arrears and low federal funding of education. -- Penny Morvant

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT BEGINS REVIEW OF ORGANIZED CRIME DECREE. The
Constitutional Court began on 27 May to review the legality of one of
the articles of President Yeltsin's controversial June 1994 decree on
organized crime, ITAR-TASS reported. Through his lawyer, the plaintiff,
Valerii Shchelukhin, argues that the provisions on "collecting evidence
against those suspected of belonging to a criminal group without the
institution of criminal proceedings" and permitting suspects to be held
for up to 30 hours without charges are unconstitutional and violate
human rights. Shchelukhin, who is currently being held in a pre-trial
detention center, is also contesting the constitutionality of the clause
in the Criminal Procedures Code that excludes the time the accused
spends studying the case against him from calculations of the period of
detention. This, he argues, allows preliminary detention to be extended
at the whim of investigators, Ekspress-khronikha reported. -- Penny
Morvant

CRIMES AGAINST THE ENVIRONMENT INCREASING. Participants in the All-
Russian Conference on the Struggle against Ecological Crimes, held in
Moscow on 27 May, noted a sharp increase in the number of crimes against
the environment and were critical of the measures taken against
offenders. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha said 5,800 cases
related to the environment were examined in 1995, up 57% on 1994, ITAR-
TASS reported. However, according to Deputy Supreme Court Chairman
Anatolii Merkushov, only three of the 20 articles in the Criminal Code
covering crimes against the environment are used in practice--those on
illegal hunting, fishing, and tree-felling; over the past five years, no
more than 10 people have been convicted of more serious crimes, such as
air and water pollution and illegal use of radioactive materials. --
Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT IS EVADING IMF BUDGET RULES. Oksana Dmitrieva, the head of
the Duma budget subcommittee, detailed some of the ways in which the
government is getting around IMF restrictions on the budget deficit in
Finansovye izvestiya on 28 May. She claimed that a $2 billion German
loan had been shifted from March to April in order to "lower" the first
quarter deficit from 28 trillion rubles ($5.6 billion, or 5.5% of GDP)
to 17 trillion. Second, under a new "clearing" procedure, instead of
paying taxes firms are allowed to ship goods to other companies who are
owed money by the government. The IMF limited such "taxes in kind" to 9
trillion rubles for 1996, but 16 trillion rubles have already been
allowed, the government claiming that these "taxes" fall under the 1995
budget. Third, the Finance Ministry is evading IMF limits on direct
borrowing from commercial banks by issuing government guarantees to
firms, allowing them instead to borrow from banks to pay taxes. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

FOUR-PARTY INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY TO BE ESTABLISHED. The CIS
Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (MPA) met in Bishkek on 28 May to discuss
the ongoing crisis in Tajikistan and ways to assist Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, Russian Federation
Council and MPA Chairman Yegor Stroev said that the representatives from
Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus will form a separate MPA
based on their 29 March Quadripartite Agreement. RTR reported that
Stroev also met with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and Prime Minister
Apas Jumagulov to discuss bilateral relations. Meanwhile, Uzbek
President Islam Karimov, on an official visit to Baku, told RFE/RL on 27
May that any efforts to create "new alliances" run counter to the goals
of the CIS. -- Roger Kangas

DARK CLOUDS OVER TURKISH RESTORATION PROJECT IN KAZAKHSTAN. A high-
profile project to restore the tomb of the 12th-century Sufi mystic,
Ahmet Yassawiy, in Turkistan, Kazakhstan, has gone awry, the Turkish
paper Cumhuriyet reported on 27 May. A March 1995 report prepared by the
inspectorate of the Prime Minister's Office uncovered a host of legal
irregularities in connection with the project, but the problems were
subsequently ignored for about one year. Some $2 million allocated by
Turkey for the project are thought to have been misapproriated. The
restoration, organized by the Turkey Foundations General Directorate,
was only 20% complete six months after it was supposed to be entirely
finished in September 1994. -- Lowell Bezanis

DELEGATION ARRIVES IN TAJIKISTAN TO SEEK MISSING U.S. SERVICEMEN. A U.S.
delegation headed by Malcolm Toon landed in Dushanbe on 27 May, ITAR-
TASS and RFE/RL reported the same day. Toon has been making trips to
former Soviet republics in order to gather information on U.S.
servicemen who have been registered as missing in action since World War
II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Some of them are believed to
have been taken to the USSR and forced to live in Soviet republics. In
return, the U.S. has been giving the former Soviet republics information
on Soviet servicemen reported missing in the Afghan War. -- Bruce
Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING
1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU
2) To subscribe, write:
     SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name)
   To unsubscribe, write:
     UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L
3) Send the message

                                  REPRINT POLICY
To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ
or see the Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html

                              OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS
TRANSITION
OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains
expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For
subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ


ECONOMIC DIGEST
The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic
news from the region.  There is a four-week free trial subscription
available; for more information, write ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the
Economic Digest Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Econ/Info.html


RUSSIAN DAILY DIGEST
The OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and distributed the
following day.
1) Compose a message to MAJORDOMO@DEMOS.SU
2) In the body of the message, write SUBSCRIBE OMRI 
   (be sure to replace  with your own name).
3) Send the message

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole