The discovery of a new dish does more for human happines than the discovery of a new star. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 37, Part I, 21 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

ALBRIGHT OFFERS NEW PROPOSAL IN MOSCOW . . . U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright arrived in Moscow on 20 February for talks with
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, international agencies reported. Albright presented
Primakov with a new proposal to freeze conventional forces at current
levels in Belarus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia,
western Ukraine, and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, AFP reported.
The same day, the proposal was released at the ongoing CFE talks in
Vienna. Albright described her talks with Primakov as "serious and
constructive," Reuters reported, while Primakov said Russia was doing
everything it could to "minimize the negative consequences" of NATO
expansion. On 21 February, Albright met with President Boris Yeltsin. --
Peter Rutland

. . . REACTIONS UNCERTAIN. The revision of the 1990 CFE treaty which
Albright proposed could qualify as the sort of "binding treaty" that
Russia has been insisting on, enabling Moscow to acquiesce in NATO
expansion while saving face. On the other hand, Moscow may still insist
on a binding commitment not to deploy nuclear weapons in the zone--which
NATO is unlikely to concede. Also, the new proposal does not address the
question of the construction of new bases or the deployment of new NATO
forces in Eastern Europe (within the force ceilings), issues of concern
to Moscow. Russia continues to look for differences between the NATO
allies. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini was visiting Moscow on 20
February, and he said that "From Italy's point of view, the eventual
NATO expansion can only take place with the consensus of Russia and not
against its will." Dini, like German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel
earlier this week, was able to talk to President Yeltsin by phone but
not to meet him. -- Peter Rutland

SENIOR FSB OFFICER FIRED. President Yeltsin has issued a surprise decree
dismissing Federal Security Service Deputy Director Col.-Gen. Anatolii
Trofimov, Radio Rossii reported on 20 February. Trofimov, who was also
head of the Moscow and Moscow Oblast division of the FSB, was reportedly
fired for "inadequate performance" and "gross violations" revealed by a
recent Auditing Chamber investigation. ORT, however, quoted the head of
the Auditing Chamber as expressing surprise that its audit could have
provided grounds for Trofimov's dismissal. NTV noted that the firing
followed a recent scandal involving drug dealing by FSB officers in
Moscow (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 February 1996). It also speculated
that Trofimov might have incurred the wrath of Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov over a corruption expose in Novaya gazeta based on FSB sources.
Trofimov was known for his hard line on dissidents and human rights
activists. -- Penny Morvant

BAGLAI ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The Constitutional
Court elected Marat Baglai, who turns 66 on 13 March, as its new
chairman on 20 February, Rossiiskie vesti reported. The former Chairman
Vladimir Tumanov retired when he turned 70, the age limit for the
position. Twelve of the court's current 18 members supported Baglai.
Yeltsin has proposed that Mikhail Fedotov fill the court position
vacated by Tumanov and he is awaiting Federation Council approval.
Baglai joined the court in February 1995, after serving as the rector of
the Academy of Labor and Social Relations for 18 years. Baglai has made
it clear that he does not support any efforts to radically rewrite the
constitution in order to reduce the president's powers. NTV described
him as moderate who does not like to get involved in politics.
Kommersant-Daily on 21 February noted that he is a close associate of
former Chairman Tumanov, who worked assiduously to keep the court from
conflicting with the president. Yeltsin quickly congratulated Baglai
after his election. -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH COUNCIL EXCOMMUNICATES YAKUNIN, FILARET. The
Russian Orthodox Church's High Clerical Council resolved on 20 February
to excommunicate former priest and Duma deputy Gleb Yakunin and former
Metropolitan Filaret (Mikhail Denisenko), NTV reported. Yakunin was
defrocked in 1993 for ignoring a ban on priests running for election to
the Russian parliament. Yakunin believes the move was revenge for his
charge that senior Orthodox priests cooperated with the KGB during the
Soviet era. Filaret, defrocked in 1992, is now patriarch of the
independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate, the second
largest church in Ukraine. The Council, which opened in Moscow on 18
February, also heard a recommendation from a commission considering the
question of canonizing Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II. Metropolitan
Yuvenalii said the commission had not found sufficient basis for his
canonization, and the Council referred the issue to a wider church
assembly for further consideration. -- Penny Morvant

DUMA CONSIDERS BILLS ON PORNOGRAPHY, COSSACKS. The Duma on 20 February
approved in the first reading a bill limiting the circulation of
pornographic materials, NTV and ORT reported. The bill provides for sex-
related products to be sold only in places licensed by the authorities
and restricts the times when pornographic films can be shown on
television (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997). The vote followed
a heated debate, with some deputies opposing the draft on the grounds
that it would give legal status to pornography and contribute to the
moral degradation of society. The same day, the deputies also passed in
the first reading a bill on the Cossacks. The law lays out the procedure
for registering Cossack communities and calling up Cossacks for military
service. It describes Cossacks as "a community of people...with their
own traditions, areas of residence, culture, economic system, and a
special attitude toward army service and their relationship with the
state," ITAR-TASS reported. -- Penny Morvant

NATIONWIDE RADIO BROADCASTING COMING TO AN END? The managers of several
nationwide radio stations--including Radio Rossii, Mayak, Golos Rossii--
said on 20 February that state-owned radio broadcasting is gradually
dying, ITAR-TASS reported. The radio stations have been forced to
significantly reduce their air time after severe cuts in federal budget
subsidies. Mayak, currently a round-the-clock broadcaster, must reduce
its broadcast time to 14 hours a day. Mayak news director Vladimir
Povoliayev said commercial radio cannot fill the gap because it is not
profitable to broadcast to small towns and villages. Mayak usually
spends 80% of its state subsidies just to cover its nationwide signal
transmission. The station managers also expressed their support for the
communication workers who are planning to go on strike on 27 March to
protest wage arrears. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

LEBED'S BROTHER AUDITS CITY GOVERNMENT WITH MACHINE GUNS. Khakasiya
Governor Aleksei Lebed on 20 February ordered machine gun-toting
officers from the local Interior Ministry branch to confiscate financial
documents from the city hall of Sayanogorsk, the republic's second
largest city, ITAR-TASS reported. Sayanogorsk Mayor Sergei Bondarenko
denounced the seizure as a gross violation of the law on local
government since he and his deputies were willing to cooperate with the
audit. While the raid was under way, Lebed ordered the closure of the
local TV and radio station, according to station Director Venyamin
Striga. Meanwhile, a group of investors in the recently bankrupted
Sayany Bank ran into police obstacles when they tried to formally
request the legislature to explain why some of the bank's former
directors are now under consideration for positions in Lebed's cabinet.
-- Robert Orttung

KALASHNIKOV ANNIVERSARY. An exhibition opened in Moscow on 20 February
marking the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Kalashnikov
light machine gun, Reuters reported. The 77-year old inventor of the AK-
47, former Sgt. Mikhail Kalashnikov, attended the opening. More than 70
million Kalashnikovs have been produced in some 100 different versions
and are currently used by the armies of 55 countries. The AK-47 is
renowned for its reliability and ease of use. It is available on the
black market from Chechnya to Angola for as little as $150. Russia is
now producing a version with 5.56 mm NATO-compatible ammunition. --
Peter Rutland

KURDISH ACTIVITIES IN MOSCOW. The self-styled Kurdish Parliament in
Exile has organized two conferences in Moscow, Milliyet reported on 21
February. Turkey, which alleges that the parliament was created by the
separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has repeatedly attempted to
prevent such events form taking place. The latest gathering on 20
February was hosted by the Duma Geopolitical Committee and reputedly
attended by Kurdish deputies from Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus,
Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Cyprus. The paper also reported that the
PKK plans to start up a radio station in Moscow. -- Lowell Bezanis

GOVERNMENT APPROVES NEW TAX CODE. The government has approved the new
drafts of the second, third, and fourth parts of the new tax code, ITAR-
TASS and Kommersant-Daily reported on 20-21 February. The code, which
will now be submitted to the Duma, would reduce the number of taxes from
some 200 to 32; cut the profit tax rate by 2% and cancel the sales tax;
switche the tax burden from industry to individuals; increase the
taxation of commercial banks; and eliminate all tax privileges. The
total loss of the consolidated budget's revenue due to various tax
privileges is estimated at 163 trillion rubles ($29 billion at the
current exchange rate). Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits said that a
drastic cut in the number of tax benefits in the new tax code can help
increase budgetary revenue by 70 trillion rubles a year, ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 February. -- Natalia Gurushina

FINANCE MINISTRY ON REGIONAL EUROBOND ISSUES. The Finance Ministry has
prepared a draft resolution on regional eurobond issues, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 20 February. The resolution stipulates that only
those regions that have obtained an international credit rating and do
not receive financial support from the government will be allowed to
issue eurobonds; the total volume of annual external borrowing and the
total debt-servicing costs of regions that issue the bonds should not
exceed 30% and 15% of regional budgetary revenue, respectively; and the
income from operations with regional eurobonds will be subject to a 15%
tax. The demands have drawn a negative reaction from regional leaders,
who say that no region will be able to float eurobonds under such
conditions. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGED ILLEGAL ARMS SUPPLIES TO
ARMENIA . . . The Russian State Duma on 19 February assigned three of
its standing committees to investigate Minister for Relations with the
CIS Aman Tuleev's allegations that Russia has illegally supplied $50
million worth of arms to Armenia over the past year (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 17 February 1997), RFE/RL and Noyan Tapan reported. The motion
was submitted by Communist deputy Nikolai Bindyukov. Several deputies,
including deputies from the liberal Yabloko faction and the leftist
Narodovlastie group, argued that an open discussion of the issue could
harm Russian-Armenian relations. Russian ultranationalist leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that it is in Russia's interests to offer
military aid to its "strategic ally Armenia...even for free, if
necessary." -- Emil Danielyan

. . . AMID AZERBAIJAN'S ACCUSATIONS OF CEASEFIRE VIOLATION. Azerbaijani
President Heidar Aliev has charged that by "illegally" receiving
military equipment, Armenia has violated the May 1994 Nagorno-Karabakh
ceasefire agreement, RFE/RL reported. Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze said in Baku that he does not exclude the possibility that
the alleged arms supplies were delivered to Armenia from Russian
military bases stationed in Georgia, Turan reported on 20 February.
Shevardnadze claimed that a "group of servicemen" has been arrested in
Georgia on suspicion of illegal weapons sales to Armenia. -- Emil
Danielyan

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN UZBEKISTAN. Algirdas Brazauskas and his Uzbek
counterpart, Islam Karimov, signed several agreements on legal aid and
transportation in Tashkent on 20 February, ELTA and BNS reported.
Karimov praised Lithuania as an "extremely reliable partner," adding
that he supports Lithuania's bid to join NATO. He also said the two
countries see eye to eye on "virtually everything." Lithuania and
Uzbekistan aim to increase trade cooperation. Bilateral trade turnover
doubled last year to $66 million; Uzbek firms currently owe their
Lithuanian counterparts $6 million. -- Lowell Bezanis

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS CRITICIZES KYRGYZ PRESIDENT. The
Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed "grave concern about
reports of increasing harassment of the independent press in Kyrgyzstan"
in a letter sent to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, RFE/RL reported on 20
February. The letter criticized the Justice Ministry's decision to shut
down the newspaper Kriminal and the legal action threatened against
Ryspek Omurzakov -- a reporter who was earlier given a suspended
sentence for insulting the president -- for his coverage of opposition
figure Topchubek Turgunaliev's trial. -- Lowell Bezanis

[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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