We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. - K. Jerome
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 3, Part I, 6 January 1997

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 OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are
available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

RUSSIA

SPECULATION OVER POSSIBLE DEFENSE MINISTER RESIGNATION. The Defense
Ministry on 5 January denied rumors that Igor Rodionov would use a 6
January meeting with President Boris Yeltsin to resign over insufficient
funding of the military, NTV reported. Rossiskaya gazeta on 6 January,
however, speculated that there might be "some substance" to the rumors,
since Rodionov listed "normal financing" of the military as one of his
conditions for taking the post last July. The same day, ITAR-TASS
reported that Rodionov's meeting with Yeltsin had been postponed,
although the President will chair a session of the Defense Council on 8
January. The armed forces only received 56.6 trillion rubles ($10.2
billion) of the 68.8 trillion rubles awarded them in the 1996  budget,
Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 6 January, and of that only 37
trillion was paid in cash, the remainder in credits and securities. A
Duma staffer told ITAR-TASS that the 104 trillion rubles allocated to
the military in the 1997 draft budget falls short of the minimum 160
trillion requested by the Defense Ministry. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN, KOHL DISCUSS NATO ENLARGEMENT. After meeting with Yeltsin at
the Russian president's Zavidovo country residence on 4 January, German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl admitted that "some differences" divide Bonn and
Moscow on NATO enlargement, but he expressed the hope that a mutually
acceptable compromise solution would be found this year. Yeltsin's
spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembskii, later said that the Russian president
had laid out Russian objections to enlargement "fairly toughly." Kohl
hailed Yeltsin's speedy recovery from his 5 November heart operation,
but urged his "friend Boris" to return to work only gradually. Yeltsin
agreed to visit Germany in April to accept a media award, and accepted
Kohl's suggestion to meet with Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, who
currently holds the rotating EU presidency, in The Hague on 4 February.
-- Scott Parrish

LEBED: RUSSIA BECOMING AN OLIGARCHY. Former Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed warned that Russia is evolving toward "oligarchy" rather
than democracy, AFP reported on 3 January. He argued that half the
Russian economy is controlled by "a small group of banks and financial-
industrial groups, while the other half is controlled by criminal
clans." Lebed added, "Ordinary Russians are now as far from the real
levers of power as they were during Soviet Communist Party rule."
Meanwhile, 65% of 5,000 Russians surveyed by the Russian Sociological
Studies Center named Lebed "man of the year," Ekho Moskvy reported on 30
December. The electronic media remains generally unfriendly to Lebed,
despite his popularity. For instance, a 5 January commentary on Russian
TV (RTR) acknowledged that Lebed was one of the most notable politicians
of 1996 but downplayed his role in ending the war in Chechnya. -- Laura
Belin

CHECHNYA FREE OF RUSSIAN TROOPS. Lt.-Gen. Pavel Maslov, chief of staff
of the Interior Ministry troops, stated to Interfax on 5 January that:
"I officially announce that as of today not one soldier of the Interior
Ministry or Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation remains in
Chechnya," Reuters reported. Earlier reports of the withdrawal had been
confusing: on 29 December it was announced that all combat units had
left but some elements were still in place. Maslov said details of the
withdrawal were kept obscure "to avoid possible provocations," and
stated that all combat troops left by 31 December. -- Peter Rutland

CHECHEN GOVERNMENT PLANS . . .  Deputy Interim Prime Minister Ruslan
Kutaev said on 3 January that the new Chechen president will not take up
his seat in the upper house of the Russian parliament which is
automatically granted him by the Russian constitution, ITAR-TASS
reported. However, Chechnya will send a commissioner to the Russian
parliament for the next five years, who will have a right to vote. The
same day Kutaev said the government intends to try ousted pro-Moscow
Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev for treason (in absentia). He also explained
that 14 Chechen field commanders "had a serious conversation" with
maverick Salman Raduev to dissuade him from provocative acts. -- Peter
Rutland

. . . AND ELECTION PREPARATIONS. On 3 January the 16 presidential
candidates were sworn in by Chechnya's leading mufti, Akhmed-Khodzha
Kadyrov, and promised to accept the results of the elections, ITAR-TASS
reported. Tim Guldimann, the head of the OSCE mission in Chechnya, said
Russian officials assured him that international observers will be
granted visas to visit Chechnya without delay, RIA reported on 6
January. The OSCE is providing some financing for the Chechen Electoral
Commission: the OSCE will decide on 16 January whether to send its own
observers. The Russian Duma has already decided not to send observers.
-- Peter Rutland

RUSSIA, CYPRUS CONCLUDE ARMS DEAL. Cypriot officials and a
Rosvooruzhenie delegation concluded a contract for the delivery of S-300
air defense missile systems on 4 January, international agencies
reported. The number of missiles involved and the exact value of the
deal was not revealed by either side, nor has a delivery date been
specified. Unconfirmed Cypriot sources suggest Nicosia has purchased 20
missile systems for $660 million. The Turkish Foreign Ministry protested
the deal, saying it undermines "regional peace," while Western diplomats
cited by AFP said the S-300 missiles, which have a range of 150 km,
would alter the military balance on Cyprus by neutralizing the air
superiority which Turkey has enjoyed since the 1974 division of the
island into Turkish and Greek enclaves. Rosvooruzhenie spokesman Valerii
Podgrebnikov, however, termed the missiles "purely defensive," and
dismissed Turkish concerns. Russian officials had pledged during the
recent visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller to deliver only
"defensive" weapons to Greek-controlled Cyprus. -- Scott Parrish

COMMUNIST ELECTED PRESIDENT OF MARII-EL. Communist-backed candidate
Vyacheslav Kislitsyn won the 4 January presidential election in the
Republic of Marii-El, Russian media reported. Preliminary results
indicated that he won 59% of the vote to 36% for Duma deputy Leonid
Markelov, nominated by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal-Democratic Party
of Russia. ITAR-TASS noted that local "democrats" had supported the 33-
year-old Kislitsyn in the second round, and that the outgoing president
of Marii-El, Vladislav Zotin, had inadvertently boosted Kislitsyn's
campaign by recently firing him as head of one of the republic's raions.
(Zotin was eliminated in the first round after trying unsuccessfully to
cancel the 22 December election.) Andrei Trapezni-kov, an assistant to
presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, told ITAR-TASS on 5
January that the administration was satisfied with the Marii-El result;
he described Kislitsyn as an experienced economic manager. -- Laura
Belin

YELENA MAVRODI'S ELECTION PYRAMID SCHEME IN TULA. Yelena Mavrodi, whose
husband Sergei ran the infamous MMM pyramid scheme in 1994, is running a
human "pyramid" scheme in her bid to claim the Tula State Duma seat once
held by Aleksandr Lebed, according to Izvestiya on 5 January. Citizens
can receive 3,000 rubles ($0.55) for signing contracts to become
campaign "agitators" for Mavrodi; they are promised a chance for up to
50 million rubles ($9,000) after the February by-election, depending on
"the election results in your polling area." Agitators are then told to
recruit more agitators: for each recruit, they receive an additional
3,000 rubles. Izvestiya concluded that the 50 million ruble promise is
merely bait to recruit more "agitators" while not appearing to be buying
votes directly. Former presidential bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov and
chess grandmaster Anatolii Karpov are also contesting the Tula by-
election. -- Laura Belin

KAMCHATKA OIL SPILL. The Russian oil tanker "Nakhodka" sank en route
from China to Kamchatka on 1 January, international agencies reported.
Up to 4,000 tons of its 19,000-ton cargo have spilled, threatening
fishing grounds off Japan's main island of Honshu. Japan sent a dozen
vessels to disperse the 50-km slick. The tanker's sinking threatens
electricity supplies to the peninsula's 400,000 population. Industrial
users will be switched off and residential areas will be cut for 4-5
hours per day until the arrival of the next fuel oil tanker, scheduled
for 17-18 January. -- Peter Rutland

PENSION CRISIS CONTINUES. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired a
government meeting on 5 January to discuss the crisis in pension
payments, NTV reported. Pension arrears now total 15.8 trillion rubles
($2.8 billion), Radio Mayak reported on 5 January, while employers in
turn owe 50 trilion rubles to the Pension Fund. October pensions have
only been paid in 59 (out of the 89) Federation subjects, and December
pensions in only 24 Federation subjects. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIA TO CLAIM ARCTIC TERRITORIES? Natural Resources Minister Viktor
Orlov said in an interview with Trud-7 of 4-9 January that in 1997
Russia will prepare documents in order to stake claim to 1.5 million
square kilometers of the Arctic shelf. He said the U.S. and Canada are
also contemplating such action. Orlov underlined that exploitation of
Russia's mineral resources is the key "that will help us enter the group
of the world's most developed countries." He stressed that except for a
brief period in 1992 all resource development projects must be licensed
in Moscow. A "dual key" system is in operation: projects must be
approved both by Orlov's ministry and by the government of the
federation subject (region or republic). He admitted that problems can
arise - for example, development of the Timan-Pechora oil fields has
been delayed for four years due to failure to reach agreement with the
Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Only 4% of the 10,867 licenses issued
since 1992 have gone to ventures with foreign participation. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIAN RED TAPE HINDERS REMOVAL OF GEORGIAN URANIUM. American officials
blame Russian indifference and foot-dragging for the failure of their
year-long efforts to have about 2 lbs (0.8 kg) of used reactor fuel and
9.5 lbs (4.3 kg) of highly-enriched uranium transferred to Russia from a
poorly-guarded research institute outside Tbilisi, The New York Times
reported on 5 January. Although in 1994 Washington addressed a similar
problem by directly purchasing Kazakstani uranium and flying it to the
United States, the Clinton administration asked Russia in early 1996 to
accept the Georgian uranium for storage and reprocessing. However,
months of talks on the issue have hit repeated legal, financial, and
bureaucratic snags, despite American offers to pay for the transport and
provide necessary equipment. The uranium remains at the Georgian
Institute of Physics under improved, but still inadequate, security. --
Scott Parrish

TERRORISM IN TAJIK CAPITAL. The bodies of two Tajik military officials
were found on the outskirts of Dushanbe on 3 January, RFE/RL reported.
Both were killed, in separate incidents, by a shot from a pistol. On 4
January two bombs went off in downtown Dushanbe, killing one and
injuring five, Russian sources reported. The first blast occurred near a
market when four servicemen from the CIS peacekeeping force and 201st
Motorized Rifle Division attempted to start their car after buying goods
at the market. One serviceman was killed, the others were wounded along
with two civilian passers-by. The other bomb went off two hours later,
destroying a police post near the presidential palace. No casualties
were reported. Just prior to these latest attacks the Russian Foreign
Ministry had expressed its alarm at the increase in attacks on
peacekeepers, noting that between 27 December and 2 January six Russian
soldiers were killed and eight wounded in or near Dushanbe. -- Bruce
Pannier

NEW BORDER TARIFFS FOR KAZAKSTAN. A decision by the Kazakstani
government to allow so-called "shuttle traders" more weight when
arriving from foreign countries went into effect on 5 January, ITAR-TASS
and Radio Rossii reported. The previous limit without a fine was 20 kg
per passenger but under the new rule the limit is 70 kg per passenger
and the first 270 kg after that is subject to a reduced tariff. The
government is hoping that this new freedom to bring goods into the
country will increase products on the domestic market. However, planes
are often overloaded and Kazakstan has a poor history of air safety,
highlighted by the November mid-air collision of a Kazakstani plane with
one from Saudi Arabia over India which killed more than 300 people. --
Bruce Pannier

STRENGTH OVER JUSTICE IN UZBEKISTAN. A coat of arms for Uzbekistan's
capital, Tashkent, was issued on 4 January, ITAR-TASS reported the same
day. The emblem's components are an open gate topped by an oriental dome
on a background of a mountain and rivers framed by flowers, a grape vine
and a plane tree in blossom. Encircling all of this are the words "In
Strength is Justice" [Kuch Adolatadir], a mis-translation of the words
"Rasti Rusti" [In Justice is Strength] from Firdausi's Persian epic The
Book of Kings [Shah Namah]. Since the late October celebration of the
birth of Tamerlane, the improperly rendered text has increasingly been
associated with him and is to be found on numerous billboards, the wall
of a museum erected to lionize the great conqueror-builder, as well as
the star of Samarkand state medal in Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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