Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 41, Part I, 27 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

RUSSIA

MORE CABINET RESHUFFLE RUMORS. The minister most likely to be sacrificed
in the coming cabinet reshuffle appears to be Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov. President Boris Yeltsin's press service on 26 February said
Yeltsin disapproved of Rodionov's recent remarks on the state of affairs
in the military, Russian media reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 and
26 February 1997). Rodionov's most likely replacement, according to the
27 February Izvestiya, is Far East Military District Commander Viktor
Chechevatov. Other likely candidates for dismissal include Labor
Minister Gennadii Melikyan and Viktor Ilyushin, first deputy prime
minister in charge of social issues. While Izvestiya and Argumenty i
fakty continued to speculate that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
will be sacked, Nezavisimaya gazeta and Komsomolskaya pravda on 27
February predicted that Chernomyrdin will remain in office, with
Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais returning to the post of
first deputy prime minister, which he held until January 1996. -- Laura
Belin

BUDGET SIGNED INTO LAW. On 25 February Yeltsin signed into law the 1997
budget, NTV reported the next day. The budget plans expenditure of 530
trillion rubles ($76 billion), including 104 trillion on defense, 47
trillion on internal security, 18.5 trillion on education, and 10
trillion on social policy. With income of 434 trillion rubles and a
deficit of 95 trillion (3.5% of GDP), the budget formally complies with
the deficit guidelines agreed with the IMF, but there are question marks
over the government's capacity to actually implement the budget. Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin admitted that 40 trillion rubles of
expenditure carried over from 1996 are "not covered" by revenues at
present, Russian TV (RTR) reported. -- Peter Rutland

LUZHKOV ON UNION WITH BELARUS. Speaking at a conference on Russia and
Belarus on 26 February, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov called for
reorganisation of the Russian Federation and a merger with Belarus in a
confederation, AFP and Kommersant-Daily reported. Luzhkov said the
number of Federation subjects should be reduced from 89 to some 10-12,
which Belarus could join. Last month, President Boris Yeltsin, who plans
to meet Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 7 March, sent him
a letter proposing a referendum on a merger of the two states, following
up the April 1996 union treaty. Luzhkov's proposal is unlikely to appeal
to Lukashenka, who insists on a merger of two equal states. -- Nikolai
Iakoubovski

FOREIGN MINISTER IN DENMARK. "The Baltic states' entry into NATO would
be unacceptable to Russia," Yevgenii Primakov said at the conclusion of
his visit to Denmark on 26 February, ITAR-TASS reported. "We do not veto
the issue, but we say that this is unacceptable to us. Should this
happen, it would undermine our relations with NATO entirely," Primakov
said, adding that he would see the Baltics' entry to the EU as a
"positive" development. Primakov noted that Denmark, a NATO member, like
Norway has no foreign troops or nuclear weapons on its territory. He
said "the ball is now in NATO's court" with respect to NATO expansion,
and that he is waiting a response to Russia's proposals for a binding
agreement. Writing in the European on 27 February, Russian ambassador to
the UK Anatolii Adamishin said NATO should change its name, "which has
too many odious associations in Russia. ... After all, we are not the
USSR any more." -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIAN DESERTERS TO STAY IN GERMANY. On 25 February, the parties in
Germany's ruling coalition agreed in principle to give 600 Russian
soldiers and their families the right to political asylum in Germany,
Reuters reported. The soldiers deserted from the 340,000 Soviet troops
who were based in East Germany until 1994. The German government planned
to return them to Russia, but human rights groups and German veterans
organizations complained that the soldiers could face prison sentences
of 10 to 20 years for treason. On 25 February, Interior Ministry State
Secretary Eduard Lintner admitted that 530 of the soldiers had been
questioned by German intelligence services, and the next day Foreign
Minister Klaus Kinkel said Russia had refused to grant them amnesty. --
Peter Rutland

NOVOROSSIISK PIPELINE. In an interview with Turan on 26 February,
Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev said Chechnya is prepared to
conclude an agreement with "the owners" of the Caspian oil that will be
exported via Novorossiisk to guarantee the safety of the entire length
of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline. He also expressed gratitude for
Azerbaijan's "invaluable assistance" to Grozny during the war with
Russia and offered Chechnya's assistance (not necessarily military) in
restoring Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, adding that he considered
that peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is contingent on Russian
mediation. -- Liz Fuller

MORE CORRUPTION CHARGES AGAINST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. The Pacific Fleet
Procurator's Office has begun criminal proceedings against Russian Navy
Chief of Staff Admiral Igor Khmelnov for abuse of office, Ekho Moskvy
reported on 26 February. Khmelnov, who used to command the Pacific
Fleet, is accused of misusing money the fleet received from the sale of
ships to South Korea. Khmelnov promised to use the proceeds from the
deal (worth $9 million) to provide officers with housing, but he
allegedly distributed most of the apartments among friends and
relatives. Meanwhile, Kommersant-Daily reported on 27 February that
Moscow police detained a department head in the Health Ministry, Aleksei
Solovev, on suspicion of extortion and bribe-taking. One of Solovev's
predecessors was also arrested for swindling. The paper ran several
reports on the Balkar-Trading company scandal, in connection with which
former Procurator General Aleksei Ilyushenko was arrested. The articles
suggest that other high-ranking officials also participated in corrupt
deals. -- Penny Morvant

EXCISE STAMPS INTRODUCED FOR RUSSIAN TOBACCO PRODUCTS. In an attempt to
boost revenues, the government issued a resolution on 25 February
requiring all domestically produced tobacco products sold after 1 June
to carry excise stamps, ITAR-TASS and Segodnya reported. Tobacco
manufacturers must conduct inventories on 1 April, the date on which the
stamps will be introduced, and they have two months to sell their
remaining products. Imported tobacco as well as cigarettes produced
under license in Russia already carry stamps, and the government
initially sought to extend the practice to cover Russian tobacco by 1
July 1996. Implementation of the new rules was postponed, however, when
government credits to help manufacturers purchase machinery to attach
the stamps were not released in time. -- Penny Morvant

JUDICIAL CHAMBER REPRIMANDS NOVAYA GAZETA. The President's Judicial
Chamber on Information Disputes has found that an open letter published
this month in Novaya gazeta contained false information intended to
damage the reputation of Eduard Sagalaev, then-chairman of Russian TV
(RTR). The publication, in which current and former RTR executives
accused Sagalaev of financial improprieties and poor management, sparked
a scandal that quickly led to Sagalaev's resignation (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 4 and 10 February 1997). The chamber's decision, published in
Rossiiskaya gazeta on 26 February, found that in violation of Russian
law, Novaya gazeta's editors made no attempts to confirm the accuracy of
the information contained in the letter. The chamber is only a
consultative body, but it referred the case to the Moscow Procurator's
Office to examine whether the letter's authors or the newspaper's
editors could be prosecuted for libeling Sagalaev. -- Laura Belin

ROUND TABLE CALLS FOR DEFENDING WOMEN'S RIGHTS. A Moscow round table
organized by the Union of Women and the Union of Journalists called for
action to provide women with the equal rights and opportunities
guaranteed in theory by the Russian constitution, ITAR-TASS and Russian
TV (RTR) reported on 26 February. Participants criticized the media for
biased reporting, publications "insulting" to women, and sexist job
advertisements. However, Union of Women leader Alevtina Fedulova said
the media were merely reflecting the "second-class" status of women in
Russian society, which she blamed on a "centuries-old patriarchal
tradition." She added that the only privileges currently enjoyed by
Russian women are higher rates of poverty and unemployment. Union of
Journalists Chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov promised to raise the issue with
newspaper editors and to create an annual award for the best media
coverage of women's problems. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN FIRES PHOTOGRAPHER. President Yeltsin sacked his personal
photographer, Dmitrii Sokolov, for being drunk on duty, ITAR-TASS
reported on 26 February. Sokolov, who had worked with the president
since 1987, was on the staff of the Presidential Security Service (SBP).
Moskovskii komsomolets claimed several other SBP members were also
fired, including the official responsible for arranging Yeltsin's trips
abroad. The reason for the dismissals, the paper alleged, was a loud
party in the Kremlin to celebrate the 9 February victory of former SBP
head Aleksandr Korzhakov in a by-election in Tula. Komsomolskaya pravda
on 27 February claimed there had been two parties--one to celebrate
Korzhakov's victory and one, organized by Anatolii Chubais' circle, to
celebrate the appointment of Nikolai Svanidze to head RTR. The paper
claimed that Sokolov got into a fight with TV journalist Sergei Dorenko.
Also on 26 February, Radio Mayak said Mikhail Lesin had resigned from
his position as chief of public relations for the presidential
administration. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER. President Yeltsin on 26
February signed the constitutional Law on the Russian Federation Human
Rights Commissioner, ITAR-TASS reported. The commissioner, who is
responsible for overseeing state protection of individuals rights and
freedoms, is appointed and dismissed by the Duma by secret ballot. The
bill was passed by the Duma on 25 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31
January 1996) and by the Federation Council on 12 February. -- Penny
Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS TO RESUME STALLED TALKS ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH.
Representatives of Russia, France, and the U.S.--the three co-chairs of
the OSCE's Minsk group, which sponsors negotiations on the Nagorno-
Karabakh conflict's settlement--met in Copenhagen to discuss ways of
reviving the deadlocked peace process, RFE/RL reported on 26 February.
The three agreed that "more preparations" are necessary before the talks
can resume and that a French fact-finding team will be sent to the
region next week to meet with all sides to the conflict. According to
ITAR-TASS, a new round of negotiations is scheduled for April. -- Emil
Danielyan

ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF BANNED PARTY.
Aleksandr Arzumanyan, on 25 February met in Washington with leaders of
the Dashnak party (HHD), banned in Armenia since December 1994, Asbarez-
on-line reported. Arzumanyan stressed the importance of "national unity"
for a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. A day earlier,
Armenia's ambassador to Greece visited the HHD headquarters in Athens
and discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Contacts between Armenian
high-ranking officials and the HHD, the leading Armenian Diaspora
organization, resumed last December after President Levon Ter-Petrossyan
called for a "consolidation" of all Armenians in the world. -- Emil
Danielyan

TURKMEN PRESIDENT IN INDIA. Saparmurad Niyazov concluded a two-day state
visit to India on 26 February, international media reported. Niyazov
held talks on regional issues, notably Afghanistan, and bilateral
cooperation with his Indian counterpart Dayal Sharma and top Indian
government officials. Bilateral agreements in the spheres of economics,
culture, health, communications, and the environment were signed, RFE/RL
reported. Meanwhile, an outbreak of typhoid fever has reportedly hit
Ashgabat, RFE/RL reported on 26 February. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKSTAN UPDATE. Presidential adviser Asylbek Beysenbayev will lead the
newly formed Liberal Movement, RFE/RL reported on 25 February. Speaking
at Almaty's Democracy House, Beysenbayev said his movement sought to
hold the middle ground between the government and its conservative
opposition. In other news, Kazakstani officials banned Russian TV-6
Moskva, Kazak Totem TV, Totem Radio, and Radio Max, Reporters sans
Frontiers reported on 25 February. The same day, Russian media reported
that Kazakstan's new criminal code has been finalized; the code provides
for fines and public works instead of imprisonment for some crimes. The
death penalty remains for premeditated murder, the attempted murder of a
state official, and military crimes or high treason in time of war. The
draft criminal code has been 6 years in the making and must be approved
by parliament. Finally, a consortium headed by the Malaysian firm Mega
Meisa will build and operate a $1.3 billion coal-fired power plant in
Kazakstan, RFE/RL reported on 26 February. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEK PRESIDENT ON ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE. Islam Karimov told a government
assembly 1996 was a "year of economic and financial stabilization,"
RFE/RL reported on 26 February. He said, the budget deficit did not
exceed 3.5%, inflation was cut in half (he gave no figures), the
national currency strengthened, and foreign trade was over $9.3 billion
dollars. He called for 1997 to be a "year of human interests" and social
security for all. The same day, the head of the U.S. Overseas Private
Investment Corporation, Ruth Harkin, held talks with Karimov and other
top officials in Tashkent. Harkin is checking on Amercian investment
projects the OPIC has underwritten. The OPIC has provided $200 million
worth of political risk insurance and financing for U.S. projects in
Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Susan Caskie

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING
1) Compose a message to listserv@listserv.acsu.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

                                    BACK ISSUES
Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World
Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail.
WWW
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/DD/Index.html

FTP
ftp://FTP.OMRI.CZ/Pub/DailyDigest/


                                  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/Reprint.html

                              OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS

TRANSITION
OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded
analysis of many of the topics in the OMRI Daily Digest. For
subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit
the Transition Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Transition/Index.html


RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT
The Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication (published every
Wednesday) initially focusing on the local elections taking place
throughout Russia during the Fall of 1996. After the election season is
over, the Russian Regional Report will continue, turning to broader
social, political, and economic issues of Russia's regions. To
Novemberveument. Back issues of subscribe, please follow these
instructions:
1) Compose a message to:
     MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
     SUBSCRIBE REGIONS Your Name
   Fill in your own first and last names where shown
3) Send the message


PURSUING BALKAN PEACE
Pursuing Balkan Peace contains the latest news about developments in the
Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other countries of Southeastern
Europe. Published every Tuesday, it contains both brief news summaries
and longer essays on specific events or issues facing the people of the
region.  To subscribe, please follow these instructions:
1) Compose a message to:
     MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
     SUBSCRIBE BALKAN-PEACE Your Name
   Fill in your own first and last names where shown
3) Send the message


RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE TRANSLATION OF THE OMRI DAILY DIGEST
The full text of the OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and
distributed the following day.
1) Compose a message to:
     MAJORDOMO@ISF.RU
2) In the body of the message, write:
     SUBSCRIBE OMRI Your Name
   Fill in your own name where shown
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