Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 38, Part I, 24 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

YELTSIN SAYS HE HAS RECOVERED. President Boris Yeltsin, appearing in
public for the first time in more than a month, said on 23 February that
he had completely recovered his health and now just needs to regain his
strength, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin, who laid a wreath at the Tomb of
the Unknown Soldier in Moscow to mark Fatherland Defenders' Day
(formerly Soviet Army Day), attacked the State Duma's attempts to unseat
him on health grounds as useless, emphasizing "I am a fighter and I
remain one." He depicted the Duma's resolution demanding a report on his
health by 1 March as a political, communist campaign for which deputies
would have to pay. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

YELTSIN, ALBRIGHT ON NATO. At the Fatherland Defenders' Day ceremony,
Yeltsin said "We are opposed to NATO enlargement. Our task now is to
stall it as long as possible," Reuters reported. He expressed the hope
that a compromise could be reached with President Bill Clinton at the
summit planned for 20 March in Helsinki. There was no sign of a positive
Russian response to the new proposals offered by U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright during her 20-21 February visit to Moscow, although
she said "important progress" had been made, Western agencies reported
on 21 February. The Albright visit produced no breakthrough in US-
Russian relations -- but no breakdown, either. Kommersant-Daily
commented on 22 February that "the sides confined themselves to
presenting the already known positions." -- Peter Rutland

PRIMAKOV IN BRUSSELS. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, who described
Albright as "an iron lady but a constructive lady," traveled to Brussels
on 23 February for talks with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana. The
two men issued a joint statement, saying that "progress has been made,
but differences remain," AFP reported. Primakov proceeded to Norway on
24 February for a two-day visit. ITAR-TASS complained that a forum on
U.S.-European relations organized in Brussels on 23 February by the
Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, and
chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, did not include any representatives from
Russia, although persons from Ukraine were invited. -- Peter Rutland

RODIONOV BLASTS NATO. Addressing a meeting of senior retired officers on
veterans day, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov said that if "NATO comes
closer to the Russian border, there is a very real risk that efforts
will be made for external controls over Russian nuclear weapons,"
Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Rodionov accused NATO of "making all
possible effort to deprive Russia of its strategic nuclear weapons." and
said that "the Americans are driving a wedge between Russia and
Ukraine." By 2000, he said, "our country's defenses will be in ruins" if
nothing is done. Rodionov accused Defense Council Secretary Yurii
Baturin of "disinformation" over the state of the armed forces, and
repeated the warning that "Russia could lose control of its nuclear
arms" due to breakdowns in the command system. On 21 February at
Yeltsin's request, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin toured the
strategic nuclear forces command center at Odintsevo, near Moscow, and
pronounced it "reliable," AFP reported. -- Peter Rutland

ARMY UPBEAT ABOUT BOSNIAN MISSION. Col.-Gen. Leontii Shevtsov, Russian
commander in Bosnia, gave a positive evaluation of his experiences with
the NATO force to Russian Public TV (ORT) on 22 February. He said "if
Bosnia hadn't happened, it would have had to be invented," in order to
promote mutual understanding between the U.S. and Russian militaries.
Shevtsov said it would be a good idea for Russia to join NATO because,
"like in Spain," it would help deter generals from launching a coup.
Meanwhile, NTV carried a report on 22 February from the Pechora early
warning radar station, saying that the system was still functioning and
had even paid salaries for December. The situation at the nearby AWACs
aircraft base was rather grimmer: no flights have been launched since
early December. -- Peter Rutland

DUMA CONSIDERS BANNING ORT CORRESPONDENT. The Duma on 21 February voted
307-4 in favor of a draft resolution to ban Russian Public TV's (ORT)
correspondent Pavel Ryazantsev from reporting on the lower house for a
month because of his report on the Duma's debate about a law on
pornography, AFP reported. A final decision is expected in March. Duma
member Stanislav Govorukhin said the report made the members look like
"absolute idiots," NTV reported. ORT responded that its correspondent
was being criticized for using excerpts from the deputies' speeches in
his broadcast. Chairman of the Union of Russian Journalists Vsevolod
Bogdanov said that the authorities have no right to deny sources of
information to journalists, ITAR-TASS reported. The Duma has long
criticized the country's largest broadcaster for its pro-presidential
bias and the way it was partially privatized. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA FAILS TO SOLVE HOUSING ISSUE. The Duma could only muster 259 votes,
well short of the 300 needed, to override a Federation Council veto of a
bill that would have given each deputy approximately $60,000 to buy an
apartment in Moscow, Russian TV reported on 22 February. Yabloko member
Yurii Nesterov spoke against the bill because it would let the deputies
keep the apartments even after their terms are finished. The
parliamentarians do not have sufficient housing now because many of the
former members of the Duma refuse to give up their employer-provided
apartments (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 January 1997). -- Robert Orttung

STAVROPOL COURT FINDS PRO-YELTSIN VOTE RIGGING. A Stavropol court fined
three election workers in the Grachevskii Raion of Stavropol Krai for
stuffing the ballot box with at least 1,000 false ballots in favor of
Yeltsin during the presidential elections, Kommersant-Daily reported.
Grachevskii was the only raion in the krai in which Yeltsin won,
arousing suspicions among communist poll watchers. Grachevskii Business
Manager Lidiya Burimovaya must pay 7 million rubles ($1,200), while the
other two must pay 4 million each. Although there have been many
allegations of illegalities during the elections, this case is the only
one that has been successfully litigated. It will not affect the overall
election results. NTV claimed that newly-elected Stavropol Governor
Aleksandr Chernogorov, a communist who has poor relations with Moscow,
initiated the case after long complaining about wrongdoing. He has
already replaced the Grachevskii raion leadership. -- Robert Orttung

KULIKOV: METALS INDUSTRY UNDER THREAT. Most of Russia's aluminum
industry is run by large criminal groups, Interior Minister Anatolii
Kulikov told the Duma on 21 February. He said that virtually all
aluminum deals at plants in Krasnoyarsk and Bratsk are controlled by
gang leaders, ITAR-TASS reported. There has been considerable media
coverage of the "aluminum mafia" in recent weeks--in particular, of the
dealings of the Chernyi brothers' Trans-seas Commodities company, in
which former First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets has been
implicated (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 January 1997). Kulikov called for
the establishment of a state commission to investigate violations in the
privatization of metallurgical enterprises and the creation of large
production complexes to unite mining and processing companies and
electricity suppliers in an attempt to curb illegal transactions.
Kulikov also asserted that Western producers are attempting to force
Russia out of the aluminum market and called for protectionist policies.
-- Penny Morvant

THREE ASSISTANTS TO DUMA DEPUTIES HAD CRIMINAL RECORDS. Three
parliamentary aides, killed in separate attacks since November 1996, had
links with the criminal world, Moscow government official Anatolii
Petrov said in a letter to Duma deputies on 21 February. He said the
three aides, all of whom worked for Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal
Democratic Party, had criminal records or were active members of
criminal gangs, ITAR-TASS reported. Petrov proposed that the Duma adopt
legislation on deputies' assistants in order to tighten up the selection
process. -- Penny Morvant

1996 BUDGET FIGURES. According to the government's Working Center for
Economic Reform, 1996 budget revenue totaled 279 trillion rubles ($49
billion, or 12.4% of GDP) and expenditures 353 trillion rubles (15.6%),
ITAR-TASS reported on 21 February. The budget deficit reached 74.3
trillion rubles (3.3% of GDP), up from 3% in 1995 but still lower than
the expected 3.85%. Under IMF methodology, the deficit was estimated at
174 trillion rubles, or 7.7% of GDP, compared to the expected level of
6.8%. Some 55% of the deficit was financed through domestic borrowing
through the sale of state short-term securities. The remaining 45% was
financed via external borrowing. Meanwhile, First Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Potanin said that the IMF may continue to freeze the January
and February tranches of the $10.1 billion extended facility fund due to
poor tax collection in January. -- Natalia Gurushina

DUMA PASSES LAW ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT. The Duma passed on first reading
a new law on foreign investment in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 21
February. The law says that foreign and domestic investors should be
treated in the same way, guarantees a stable economic environment for
foreign businesses for the first five years of their operations in
Russia, and protects them from nationalization. The Duma also passed a
bill listing the economic sectors where foreign participation will be
limited. They include the defense industry and railways. Foreign
investment in Russia in 1996 topped $4.5 billion, of which some $1.2
billion was direct investment. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Davydov said that Russia may postpone further liberalization of foreign
trade until it completes restructuring of industry, which could take
five to six years, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 February. -- Natalia
Gurushina

CORRECTION: An item in the OMRI Daily Digest of 21 February 1997
described the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate as the second-
largest church in Ukraine. According to opinion surveys, it is judged to
have the largest number of adherents.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

SENIOR OFFICIAL IN AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY ASSASSINATED. Ziya
Buniyatov, First Deputy Chairman of New Azerbaijan (Yeni Azerbaycan),
was killed on 21 February, Russian and Western media reported. An
orientalist, Bunyatov received the top Soviet decoration, Hero of the
Soviet Union, for his service in World War II. Buniyatov, 75, was a
member of parliament and vice president of the Academy of Sciences. He
was shot twice and stabbed four times in what the authorities have
described as a likely contract murder. Further details have not been
released. -- Lowell Bezanis

ARMENIA, IRAN TO CONNECT POWER GRIDS. Armenia's Deputy Energy Minister
Karen Galustyan said on 22 February that Iran and Armenia will soon
connect their power grids over the Arax river which separates the two
countries, AFP reported. Galustyan said that work is complete on the
Armenian side and is almost finished on the Iranian side. According to
Galustyan, tests of the new link will be carried out in early March. AFP
also quoted the Iranian state news agency as reporting that, following
the recent visit to Yerevan by Vice President Hasan Habibi, Iran will
supply Armenia with 200 megawatts of electricity a day beginning in late
March. -- Emil Danielyan

NAZARBAYEV'S TIMELY TRIP TO CHINA. Kazakstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev held talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Jiang
Zemin on 21 February, international media reported. The two discussed
expanding trade ties and involving Chinese companies in exploiting and
transporting Kazakstan's hydrocarbon reserves. Earlier media reports
that the two would discuss separatist violence in Xinjiang Uighur
Autonomous Province in early February were denied by Kazakstani
officials reached by RFE/RL on 22 February. Nazarbayev initially arrived
in south China on 12 February for an earlier unannounced holiday and to
receive what was termed preventative medical treatment. He was the first
foreign dignitary to stand beside Zemin after the latter replaced
deceased Chinese supremo Deng Xiaoping. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEK ROUNDUP. Uzbek human rights activist and freelance RFE/RL
correspondent Albert Mousin was detained on 24 February by Moscow police
at the request of Uzbek authorities, RFE/RL reported the same day.
Moscow police say Mousin is charged with "intentionally spreading
falsehood undermining the state and society" under article 191 of
Uzbekistan's legal code. In other news, Coca-Cola oEšned its third plant
in Uzbekistan on 21 February, RFE/RL reported. At the opening of the $10
million plant in Namangan, a company representative announced plans to
build yet another, this time near Tashkent, at an estimated cost of $55
million. -- Lowell Bezanis

TAJIKS REACH ACCORD IN MESHED. The 20-21 February talks between the
government and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) in Meshed resulted in an
accord on the composition of the new 26- member National Reconciliation
Commission, RFE/RL reported on 21 February. The 50-50 split they agreed
to leaves no place for any so-called Third Forces as earlier foreseen in
UN-sponsored drafts. It appears the sides registered progress toward a
formal power sharing agreement as well: 30% of all local and republican
posts are slated to go to the UTO, RFE/RL reported. How the remaining
70% is to be divided up remains unclear, however. In the latest twist,
presidential press spokesman Zafar Saidov on 24 February said one of the
"Third Forces," the strongman in control of Tursun Zade and its
lucrative aluminum plant, Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, will participate in the
next round of inter-Tajik talks, slated for 26 February in Moscow. --
Lowell Bezanis

TRILATERAL TALKS IN TEHRAN. A trilateral economic commission meeting
attended by Iran, India, and Turkmenistan reached agreements on several
joint projects, international media reported on 22 February. Among other
plans announced, gas is to be transferred from Turkmenistan to India, a
shipping repair installation built on the Iran-Turkmen Caspian border,
and a textile factory will be built in Meshed, Iran. The sides also
agreed to include Georgia in the commission. The present commission was
established in 1995. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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