It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 30, Part II, 12 February 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

************************************************************************
In the 21 February issue of OMRI's journal TRANSITION:

DISSIDENTS -- THEN AND NOW
- Reshaping Dissident Ideals for Post-Communist Times
- How Rude pravo 'Helped' Get Charter 77 off the Ground
- In Poland, A Long-Standing Tradition of Resistance
PLUS...
- CENTRAL ASIA: The Gordian Knot of Energy
- BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Janusz Bugajski on Stabilizing Partition with SFOR
- VIEWPOINT: Vladimir Shlapentokh on Creating 'The Russian Dream' After
Chechnya

For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail
message to transition@omri.cz
************************************************************************

RUSSIA

RYBKIN ON RUSSIA'S FIRST STRIKE POLICY. Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin said in an interview with Rossiiskaya gazeta on 11 February that
Russia should reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a
conventional weapons attack, particularly in view of the current
weakness of Russia's armed forces. Although Rybkin's remarks are in line
with the Russian military doctrine adopted in 1993, which did not
include the Soviet-era "no first strike" pledge, presidential spokesman
Sergei Yastrzhembskii sought to distance the administration from them.
According to Russian TV (RTR), Yastrzhembskii stressed that only the
president, prime minister, and foreign minister can make official
statements on foreign policy. Russian Public Television (ORT) speculated
that Rybkin's remarks, which provoked a mixed reception in Russia, were
intended as a trial balloon to test NATO's reaction to one possible
Russian response to NATO's projected eastward expansion. -- Penny
Morvant

SPOKESMAN: YELTSIN RECOVERING SLOWLY. Presidential spokesman
Yastrzhembskii said President Boris Yeltsin's period of recuperation
from heart surgery is progressing "rather slowly," having been hampered
by a recent bout of pneumonia, NTV and RTR reported on 11 February.
Although Yeltsin's health is improving and his schedule is becoming more
active, Yastrzhembskii added, reporters should not expect the president
to make an "accelerated return" to the Kremlin. Yeltsin is scheduled to
meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on 18 February, and in March
he will travel to Helsinki for a summit with U.S. President Bill
Clinton. Yeltsin fell ill with pneumonia just two weeks after his return
to the Kremlin on 23 December. Also on 11 February, Yeltsin met with
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for more than an hour in the Gorki-9
sanitarium. -- Laura Belin

MASKHADOV INAUGURATED. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov took the oath
of office on 12 February in the former palace of culture for chemical
industry workers. He swore on the Koran to reinforce the independence of
the Chechen state, AFP reported. Among those present were former
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed; OSCE mission head Tim
Guldimann, who had been expelled by former interim President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev; and Budennovsk raid leader Shamil Basaev. After meeting with
Maskhadov, Yandarbiev told Grozny TV on 11 February that he would remain
active in politics and continue to work for Chechen independence. His
last decree bestowed Chechnya's highest military honors on his
predecessor, Dzhokhar Dudaev. On the eve of the inauguration, Russian
Prime Minster Chernomyrdin urged Maskhadov to help secure the release of
two ORT journalists still being held in Chechnya. -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN JUSTICE MINISTER SEES NO PROBLEM IN DEFINING CHECHEN STATUS.
Valentin Kovalev on 11 February said that there are no insurmountable
obstacles to reaching an agreement with Chechnya on the republic's
status. Kovalev noted that the Chechens want "sovereignty," and pointed
out that Tatarstan's constitution defines it as a "sovereign state
within the Russian Federation," ORT reported. Kovalev also noted that
Ukraine and Belarus had been members of the UN in the Soviet era,
according to Russian media reports monitored by the BBC. -- Robert
Orttung

REACTION TO ATTEMPTS TO FORM INDUSTRIAL DUMA FACTION. State Duma deputy
Nikolai Ryzhkov, leader of the Popular Power faction, argued that if the
Russian Industrial Union faction acquires the 35 deputies needed for
registration, the work of the lower house of parliament will be
destabilized, NTV and Radio Rossii reported on 11 February. A new
faction would force the Duma Council to reapportion committees,
distracting deputies from important legislative work, Ryzhkov argued.
Currently, there are seven Duma factions; two of the organizers of the
industrial group are from Popular Power, which along with the Communist
and Agrarian factions has enjoyed a working majority (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 10 February 1997). Segodnya and Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on
11 February, however, that Communist Party leaders will bail out
Ryzhkov's faction; several Communist deputies will join Popular Power to
ensure that it has at least 35 members. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNISTS CRITICIZE SVANIDZE APPOINTMENT. Opposition leaders are not
pleased with Nikolai Svanidze's appointment as chairman of RTR.
Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov described Svanidze as an "entirely
inappropriate figure," and State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev charged
that Svanidze is far too partisan to lead a state-run network, Segodnya
and Kommersant-Daily reported on 11 February. Svanidze has not shied
away from expressing his anti-communist views, both on his current
program "Zerkalo" and on his previous show "Podrobnosti" (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 14 and 15 December 1995). In an interview published in the 12
February Izvestiya, he denied that he discusses upcoming coverage on his
programs with Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais. Meanwhile,
Svanidze indicated that journalists who signed an open letter last week
denouncing the leadership of then RTR chairman Eduard Sagalaev will soon
be asked to leave the network, ORT reported. -- Laura Belin

MORE ON NATO EXPANSION. President Yeltsin's foreign affairs adviser,
Dmitrii Ryurikov, said on 11 February that it is "unfair and wrong" for
NATO to deny Russia a veto on European security issues, international
agencies reported. He said NATO's drive to expand eastward is excluding
Russia from joint decision-making on European security issues. The same
day, presidential spokesman Yastrzhembskii said Moscow would be
particularly alarmed if the Baltic states joined NATO. The remarks
coincided with a tour of post-Soviet republics by NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana. Meanwhile, a group of democratic parties castigated the
"current anti-NATO hysteria" in Russia, saying it is often used for
propaganda purposes "to return to the times of the Cold War." They
argued that Russia and NATO must find a "reasonable compromise" on
expansion. In an interview with RTR, liberal Duma Deputy Irina Khakamada
supported Moscow's call for a legally binding document on Russia's
relations with NATO. -- Penny Morvant

RUMORS ABOUT RODIONOV'S RESIGNATION. Kommersant-Daily on 11 February
speculated that Defense Minister Igor Rodionov's recent remarks about
underfunding of the military and the possibility of Russia losing
control of its nuclear forces could lead to his replacement by Defense
Council Secretary Yurii Baturin. Presidential press secretary
Yastrzhembskii, however, dismissed as "totally unfounded" rumors of
Rodionov's resignation, RIA Novosti reported. Rodionov has recently been
very outspoken on the parlous state of Russia's armed forces, telling a
press conference on 6 February that the reliability of Russia's nuclear
command-and-control system could not be guaranteed (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 7 February 1996). Asked about Russia's defense capability in an
interview with Trud on 11 February, he likened the current situation to
that in the 1920s after the Civil War. Rodionov has reportedly also
clashed with Baturin over the direction of military reform, although
both professed their unity on the issue at a 7 February joint press
conference. -- Penny Morvant

LYSENKO CHARGED WITH BOMBING HIS OWN OFFICE. Former Duma member Nikolai
Lysenko has been charged with ordering the detonation of a bomb in his
own office on 5 December 1995, NTV reported 11 February. Investigators
concluded that Lysenko hoped that the incident would boost his chances
in the 17 December Duma elections. Witnesses saw Lysenko's assistant,
Mikhail Rogozin, leave the office just before the explosion. The
investigators also found a $3,000 Duma computer in Lysenko's St.
Petersburg apartment even though Lysenko earlier reported that the
computer had been destroyed. Lysenko had charged that the attack's
perpetrators were people from the Caucasus seeking revenge for his anti-
Chechen statements and demands that Moscow be "cleansed" of people of
Caucasian descent. Lysenko was arrested on 13 May and remains in
custody, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung

FEDERATION COUNCIL DISCUSSES 1997 BUDGET. The Federation Council has
started to debate the 1997 budget, passed by the Duma on 24 January,
ITAR-TASS reported on 11-12 February. It is widely believed that the
upper house will also approve the budget, although its budget committee
is calling for several amendments, such as placing the regional support
fund in the budget's list of guaranteed items. A heated debate is
expected over the volume and mechanism of financial transfers to the
regions, since donor-regions and recipient-regions are likely to take
different stands on the issue. -- Natalia Gurushina

SAKHALIN REFUSES TO PAY TAXES. The Sakhalin Oblast Duma has decided to
discontinue payments to the federal budget, claiming that the government
is systematically failing to meet its financial obligations to the
region, Segodnya reported on 11 February. The local authorities blame
the center for a severe crisis in the payment of wages and social
benefits in the region. A representative of the federal government
called the Sakhalin Duma's decision illegitimate and unconstitutional
and promised a "tough response," ITAR-TASS reported on 11 February.
Several large-scale international oil projects are under way in Sakhalin
Oblast. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN GEORGIA. Javier Solana began his
Transcaucasian tour on 11 February by visiting Tbilisi and meeting with
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to discuss issues of regional and
European security, Russian media reported. Shevardnadze said he does not
exclude a "political" role for NATO in the search for a resolution of
the Abkhaz conflict. Asked at a news conference about the possibility of
a NATO-led, Bosnia-type peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia, Solana
warned against a "thoughtless" duplication of the Bosnian experience in
other regions. Shevardnadze said he is confident that Russia and the
West will eventually reach a compromise on NATO enlargement. He also
said that integration into a new European security system is "very
important" for Georgia and that NATO as a "political organization" could
help his country achieve that goal. -- Emil Danielyan

MORE DEVELOPMENTS IN GEORGIAN DIPLOMAT CASE. Following a request by the
U.S. Attorney's Office, the U.S. State Department has formally asked
Georgia to waive diplomatic immunity for its diplomat, Georgi
Makharadze, who reportedly triggered a five-car accident on 4 January in
which a 16-year-old American girl died (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 January
1997), Reuters reported on 11 February. The U.S. ambassador in Tbilisi
informed the Georgian government that Makharadze will be charged with
involuntary murder. According to State Department spokesman Nicholas
Burns, Georgian authorities have reiterated their readiness to allow the
diplomat to be prosecuted but added that a formal decision will be ready
in "a few days." -- Emil Danielyan

AZERBAIJANI UPDATE. Former Azerbaijani Environmental Committee Chairman
Arif Mansurov, who was detained in mid-January in connection with the
October 1994 coup attempt, has been released from prison on bail due to
poor health, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 February. In other news, Iran
resumed a rail link to Nakhichevan on 9 February, AFP reported.
According to the agency, the link between Tabriz and Nakhichevan City
has been suspended since the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute erupted in 1988.
Meanwhile, one of Azerbaijan's main opposition parties, Musavat, has
established a pro-NATO association, according to an 8 February report
monitored by the BBC. Headed by Sulhaddin Akper, the Azerbaijani
Association for Atlantic Cooperation supports NATO enlargement, aims to
strengthen ties between Azerbaijan and NATO within the Partnership for
Peace program, and favors a "more modern" national security system for
Azerbaijan. -- Lowell Bezanis

UIGHUR-HAN VIOLENCE ON CHINESE BORDER WITH KAZAKSTAN. Chinese
authorities have summarily executed an estimated 100 Uighurs for their
alleged involvement in bloody anti-Han riots that took place in the
frontier town of Yining last week, Western media reported on 12
February. The authorities have sealed off Yining and imposed a curfew on
the heavily militarized town, which is the capital of the Ili Kazak
Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang. Exiled Uighurs in Kazakstan say the
riot was sparked by executions, while the Chinese authorities claim that
about 1,000 young Uighurs, screaming pro-independence and anti-Han
slogans, rampaged in Yining on 5-6 February, causing 10 deaths and
injuring almost 150 people. They also claim to have detained the leader
of the riots, identified only as a 29-year-old Uighur named Heilili. --
Lowell Bezanis

ONE HOSTAGE RELEASED IN TAJIKISTAN . . . One of the hostages taken by
Bahrom Sadirov and his brother Rezvon Sadirov was freed on 11 February
because of ill health, Western and Russian media reported. Maj.
Gottfried Hoenig was sick when he was captured along with four other UN
employees on 4 February, and his condition had apparently worsened to
the extent that his captors agreed to have him sent to Dushanbe along
with a rebel fighter. Initially, it seemed that Bahrom Sadirov, who took
the hostages, was demanding free passage for his brother from
Afghanistan to Tajikistan, but it is now apparent that the two Sadirovs
are working together to secure the return of 40 supporters from
Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier

. . . BUT REMAINING HOSTAGES FACE EXECUTION. The Sadirov brothers said
that if their supporters in Afghanistan, are not granted free passage to
Tajikistan by the evening of 12 February, they will begin executing the
remaining 14 hostages, according to Russian media. The 40 fighters in
question were brought by helicopter to the southern Tajik town of Kulyab
on the morning of 12 February and the government plans to hand them over
to the Sadirovs on a stage-by-stage basis in exchange for the hostages.
One of the captives, ITAR-TASS journalist Galina Gridneva, said in a
phone conversation on the night of 11 February that the situation had
greatly deteriorated and that the captives' lives "are in real danger."
Bahrom Sadirov said government troops have surrounded hiM. -- Bruce
Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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