There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and that is the wife who can't cook and will. - Robert Frost
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 45, Part I, 05 March 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 7 March issue of OMRI's journal, TRANSITION**:

BALKAN UNREST
- Pyramid Schemes Leave Albania on Shaky Ground
- Back to the Basics in Bulgaria
- Protests in Serbia Raise Hopes of Reconciliation in Kosovo
- In Post-Dayton Balkans, Change Comes Where It's Least Expected
PLUS...
- RUSSIA: Chernomyrdin: A Prime Minister Without Politics
- VIEWPOINT: Azerbaijan: Democracy in a State of Emergency

        and "Reviving the Black Sea"

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

**See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN CHASTISES PROCURATOR-GENERAL. President Boris Yeltsin on 4 March
ordered Yurii Skuratov to put the Procurator's Office in order. In
televised remarks, the president said society is "seething" over a
number of unsolved high-profile murders, including the March 1995
slaying of TV executive Vladislav Listev. "Despite your repeated
assertions that the Listev case is nearing an end, this and other cases
are virtually buried. This is impermissible," Yeltsin said. He berated
Skuratov for failing to take part in a 1 March Russian Public TV (ORT)
documentary on Listev's assassination and accused him of relaxing
control over the Procurator's Office, saying "discipline is low or
absent altogether." -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN, CHERNOMYRDIN AGREE ON CABINET RESHUFFLE. Yeltsin met Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 4 March and agreed on proposals to
reshuffle and restructure the government, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The changes are to be announced on 6 March. According to
presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Yeltsin approved
Chernomyrdin's plans to visit China, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia
during the next few months--yet another sign that the prime minister
will keep his job. Several ministers responsible for economic matters
are expected to be replaced, and current Presidential Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais may become first deputy prime minister in charge of the
economy. Meanwhile, State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev argued that
cabinet posts should be divided among the four groups that gained more
than 5% of the vote in the December 1995 parliamentary election (the
Communist Party, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Our Home Is Russia,
and Yabloko). -- Laura Belin

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CANDIDATE. The
Federation Council on 5 March rejected Yeltsin's appointment of Mikhail
Fedotov to the Constitutional Court by a vote of 69-54. Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin personally appealed to the upper house to confirm Fedotov
as a member of the court, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian legislature
also rejected Fedotov's appointment to the Constitutional Court in the
fall of 1991. At that time, he had been nominated by Democratic Russia.
-- Robert Orttung

DUMA PASSES LAW ON OPPOSITION. The Duma on 5 March approved a law
guaranteeing the right of opposition activity in Russia by a vote of
266-48 with one abstention, ITAR-TASS reported. The law seeks to protect
the right of citizens to make alternative proposals to the policies of
the president and the government. It provides for the introduction of
alternative bills in the legislature, public criticism of the
executive's policy, and the right to demonstrate. It also guarantees the
right of the opposition to create a shadow cabinet. If that cabinet
receives the support of one-third of Duma deputies, its members can be
invited to participate in executive branch meetings with a consultative
vote. Yeltsin is likely to veto the bill on the grounds that it would
violate the separation of powers and because rights such as free speech
are already enshrined in the constitution. -- Robert Orttung

TWO RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS KIDNAPPED IN GROZNY. ITAR-TASS correspondent
Nikolai Zagnoiko and an unidentified Radio Rossii correspondent were
kidnapped by armed men who stopped their car in Grozny on 4 March, ITAR-
TASS reported. Mauro Galligani, an Italian journalist abducted last
month, remains in captivity. No conditions for his release have yet been
made. Two Russian Public TV (ORT) reporters were recently released, but
the authorities did not make clear if they had paid a ransom. President
Aslan Maskhadov recently introduced the death penalty to stem the rash
of kidnappings. -- Robert Orttung

WOMEN'S CHARTER SIGNED. Thirty-eight women's organizations have signed a
charter of solidarity, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. The charter
provides for cooperation among women's non-governmental organizations in
defending human rights and dealing with discrimination in the labor
market. State Duma Deputy Yekaterina Lakhova, a charter signatory, said
that a special law on equal rights and opportunities for women should be
adopted and that all legislation should be examined for passages that
discriminate against women. According to the Moscow department of labor
and employment, 70% of the unemployed registered in the capital are
women. The constitution provides for the equality of men and women. --
Nikolai Iakoubovski

OSCE SECRETARY-GENERAL IN MOSCOW. At a 4 March meeting with visiting
OSCE Secretary-General Giancarlo Aragona, Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov emphasized Moscow's view that the 55-member OSCE
should play a "coordinating role" vis-a-vis other European and Atlantic
security organizations, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian officials have long
tried, unsuccessfully, to promote a strengthened and restructured OSCE
as an alternative to NATO expansion. -- Scott Parrish

ZAVTRA, SOVETSKAYA ROSSIYA BACK RODIONOV. A front-page editorial in the
4 March edition of the pro-communist Sovetskaya Rossiya strongly
supported embattled Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, denouncing attempts
to remove him as part of a plot to destroy the Russian military. Co-
authored by Sovetskaya Rossiya chief editor Valentin Chikin and the
chief editor of the extremist weekly Zavtra, Aleksandr Prokhanov, the
article claimed that President Yeltsin plans to replace Rodionov with
Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin, whose "pro-Western" policies
would "completely destroy the country's armed forces." On 27 February
Rodionov met with leading Russian bankers and industrialists, in an
unusual attempt to bolster his political support. Kommersant-daily
speculated the next day that banks designated to handle military
accounts can make large profits, giving the defense minister a potential
source of political support. -- Scott Parrish

YAKUTIYA SUES MILITARY SPACE FORCES. A Sakha (Yakutiya) government
official is suing Russia's Military Space Forces (VKS) over the 4 March
rocket launch from the new Svobodnyi cosmodrome (see OMRI Daily Digest,
4 March 1996). Sakha Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Borisov told ITAR-TASS
that he will go to court against acting VKS commander Valerii Grin
because the VKS ignored Sakha's demand that the launch be postponed
until it received further safety guarantees. Borisov called on the Sakha
parliament to abrogate a treaty the republic signed with the Defense
Ministry in June 1996 allowing rocket stages to fall on its territory.
In further bad news for the space sector, a cargo rocket carrying
supplies to the Russian space station Mir failed to complete a planned
docking with the manned orbiting module. -- Penny Morvant

GENERAL STAFF ON 1997 REDUCTIONS IN ARMED FORCES. In a 5 March interview
with Krasnya zvezda, Col.-Gen. Leonid Zolotov, the head of the Main
Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, outlined plans for
cutting the armed forces by 200,000 servicemen. President Yeltsin
ordered such cuts in a 12 February decree (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19
February 1997). Zolotov, who described the force reductions as a
"compromise" between the country's defense needs and its economic
potential, said administrative staff would be reduced and undermanned
units consolidated, especially in logistical support. Estimating that
some 30,000-50,000 officers would be discharged, Zolotov revealed that
the heaviest cuts in combat units would fall on the Ground Forces. He
added that Russia's "deterrent" forces, including the Strategic Rocket
Forces and submarine fleet, would be shielded from the cuts. -- Scott
Parrish

DEFENSE CONVERSION STALLED. The Duma has criticized the implementation
of the 1995-1997 state defense conversion program, ITAR-TASS reported on
4 March. In 1996, the military-industrial sector received only 66% of
the funds alloted to it in the federal budget. Production in the sector
dropped by 28% in 1996, and the work force by 13%. A large number of
those working in the sector are either pensioners or about to retire.
The state owes plants in the sector 29 trillion rubles ($5.1 billion),
while their own debts total 66 trillion rubles. -- Natalia Gurushina

DEFENSE INDUSTRY PROTESTS. About 2,000 disgruntled workers from the
Zvezda nuclear submarine repair plant in Primorskii Krai blocked the
highway running between Vadivostok and the port of Nakhodka for three
hours on 5 March, ITAR-TASS reported. The workers, who last year blocked
the Trans-Siberian railroad, are demanding the payment of back wages
owed since September 1996. According to Radio Mayak on 4 March, several
engineers from a nuclear submarine plant in the northern town of
Severodvinsk threatened to tamper with a nuclear reactor if they were
not paid their wages. After 48 hours of negotiations with Federal
Security Service officers, they were persuaded to leave the reactor
room. * Penny Morvant

CENTRAL BANK TIGHTENS ITS GRIP ON COMMERCIAL BANKS. The Central Bank
(TsB) has approved several measures to increase stability in the banking
sector, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 4 March. They include changes
in calculating the size of banks' capital, which may result in a 10-15%
reduction in the volume of the capital, and a gradual increase in the
ratio of banks' capital to their other assets from 6% to 7%-11%,
depending on the size of the capital. Effective from 1999, banks with a
capital of between 1 million and 5 million ECU will be allowed to
operate only on the domestic market. Financial institutions with capital
below 1 million ECU will not be registered as banks. Meanwhile, Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin assured leading Russian bankers that there will be
no radical change in economic policy and suggested that banks buy more
longer-term state securities, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Natalia Gurushina

END OF "ULYANOVSK MIRACLE." Ulyanovsk Oblast prided itself on cushioning
the impact of market reform by holding down food prices. However, in
recent weeks prices have risen to the same level as neighboring regions,
Izvestiya reports on 5 March. A loaf of white bread has risen from 800
to 2,500 rubles (50 cents). Izvestiya argues that prices were
artificially subsidized in 1995-96 by the diversion of federal credits
of around 200 billion rubles per year which were supposed to be used to
help farmers buy inputs. Governor Yurii Goryachev narrowly won election
on 22 December, although neither the communists nor pro-Yeltsin parties
supported him. Izvestiya reveals that Goryachev's son, a former state
farm director, heads the private company "Food," which includes some of
the region's best farms, a meat plant, retail stores, and even has its
own bank. Similarly, the son of deputy governor Vyacheslav Gurinovich
runs his own company, which deals in fuel supplies. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

HIGH-LEVEL TALKS BETWEEN GEORGIA, SOUTH OSSETIA BEGIN IN MOSCOW. Another
round of negotiations between Georgia and its breakaway region of South
Ossetia got under way in Moscow on 4 March, Russian media reported.
Representatives of Russia, the OSCE, and the Russian Republic of North
Ossetia are also attending the talks. The Georgian delegation, which is
led by Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarashvili, wants recognition of
Georgia's territorial integrity but, according to a North Ossetian
representative, may agree to grant South Ossetia an autonomous status.
In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Kosta Dzugaev, speaker of the
South Ossetian parliament, said a final settlement of the conflict is
impossible without "special relations" between North and South Ossetia.
-- Emil Danielyan

ARMENIA TO HOLD MILITARY EXERCISES. Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan,
speaking on state TV, said Armenia will hold military exercises at the
end of March to enhance the "combat capacity and discipline" of its
army, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. Reserve servicemen will be
mobilized for three days to take part in the exercises. Sarkisyan
complained that both society and Armenians abroad are "indifferent to
possible aggravation of the situation in the region." Meanwhile,
Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev and his Armenian counterpart, Levon
Ter-Petrossyan, have said they are determined not to preserve the
current cease-fire regime, Russian media reported on 4 March. In a
telephone conversation the previous night, they also discussed stepping
up the OSCE-sponsored Minsk negotiations over Nagorno Karabakh. -- Emil
Danielyan and Lowell Bezanis

CLASH AT ARAL SEA SUMMIT? According to Nezavismaya Gazeta on 4 March,
Central Asian leaders clashed when discussing the Aral Sea in Almaty on
28 February. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov reportedly was opposed
to making his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, head of the
International Aral Sea Salvation Fund. -- Lowell Bezanis

ALMATY ON NATO EXPANSION. Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev
warned against the dangers of NATO enlargement, Russian media reported
on 4 March. Nazarbayev said undue haste in expanding the alliance puts
Russia's pro-democracy camp in a tough position. During recent visits to
Moscow, the Kazakstani defense and foreign ministers as well as the
parliamentary speaker all stressed that NATO expansion should not
encroach on Moscow's interests. NATO ties to Central Asian states--and
those countries' views on the alliance's enlargement--are to be
discussed later this month when NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana
visits the region's capitals. -- Lowell Bezanis

NEW KAZAKSTANI CAPITAL CAUSES MORE HEADACHES. The controversial move of
the capital from Almaty to the northern central city of Akmola is
falling behind schedule, RFE/RL reported on 4 March. The Transportation,
Communications, and Agriculture Ministries were moved to Akmola in
December 1996, but 90% of officials at those ministries reportedly
returned to Almaty by January. None of the ministry buildings has yet
been completed. Construction of the new presidential palace and
upgrading rail links to the airport in Akmola will cost an estimated
$500 million. Opposition movements in Kazakstan, notably Azamat and the
Communist Party, are calling on the government to first pay wage and
pension arrears, which are approaching $1 billion. -- Bruce Pannier and
Merhat Sharipzhan

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!
What's in Store for the magazine Transition

We've learned much in the last two years about what sort of magazine
Transition can be and what role it should play in Central and Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union. Of greatest help in this process has
been the advice of readers. Among some of the desired changes are for
Transition to offer even more articles by writers in the region - lively
opinion pieces as well as fact-filled analysis and expanded departments.

Accordingly, Transition will be substantially restructured and
relaunched as a monthly with the issue dated June 1997. The last
biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing
subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly
frequency, which is priced at $65 for 12 issues. As before, we offer a
substantial discount for readers in and of the countries we cover (apply
to the contacts listed below for more information).

For engaged intellectuals, policymakers, journalists, and scholars from
the region, the new Transition will provide a rare forum for the
exchange of ideas and criticism on political, economic, and cultural
issues and events. Transition will also offer readers from abroad a
window on the experiences of countries moving away from a single
ideology. We are certain that the magazine's new format and orientation
will make it even more useful for your work, as well as contributing
more to your understanding.

For more information, contact the OMRI Marketing Department at tel.
(420-2) 6114 2114, fax (420-2) 6114 3181; email: transition-DD@omri.cz
*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

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