The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 47, Part I, 07 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 for TRANSITION
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

REACTION TO YELTSIN'S ADDRESS. President Boris Yeltsin's allies have
praised his 6 March address to the parliament, but Communist Party
(KPRF) deputy chairman Valentin Kuptsov dismissed the speech as "the
typical farce." KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov said that rather than
making new promises, Yeltsin should report on what progress has been
made on keeping promises from his previous addresses to the parliament,
ITAR-TASS and Russian TV (RTR) reported. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 7 March
ran a blank space on its front page in lieu of a photograph of Yeltsin.
The paper noted that no Russian photographers were allowed into the room
where the president was speaking, although correspondents from Western
agencies were admitted. An Izvestiya commentary noted that Yeltsin
repeated Zyuganov's criticisms of the authorities practically word for
word, even though the president himself had appointed those authorities.
-- Laura Belin

NO NEWS ON GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE. In his presidential address, Yeltsin
promised that ministers would be fired and the entire structure of
government overhauled. However, no concrete changes were announced by
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 6 March to the "enlarged" meeting
of the government, which included regional leaders and the heads of
State Duma factions. As Radio Mayak noted, Chernomyrdin's speech was the
familiar list of achievements and problems. Chernomyrdin promised a "new
cycle of reform" to tackle continuing difficulties at the microeconomic
level. At a press conference afterward, Chernomyrdin described
Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais as "a brilliant
professional, an economist of high class," adding that specific
decisions about government appointments will be made in a few days. --
Peter Rutland

YABLOKO OFFERED GOVERNMENT POSTS, BUT WARY. Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii confirmed on 6 March that some of his associates have been
offered ministerial posts, but he said they had not yet decided whether
to join the government, NTV and Ekho Moskvy reported. Assessing
Yeltsin's address to parliament, Yavlinskii said the president
identified the right problems but did not outline clear solutions. He
said the speech made him wonder "if the president and his assistants are
so well informed of the problems, then why have both the administration
and the government been virtually idle for all this time?" On 4 March,
Duma deputy and Yabloko Deputy Chairman Vyacheslav Igrunov announced
that Yabloko members would not accept any cabinet posts unless "radical
changes" were made to the 1997 budget and the entire direction of
current economic policy was altered, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin

JOURNALISTS STILL MISSING IN CHECHNYA. The Chechen government has
decided against a proposal to expel all journalists from the breakaway
republic until the conclusion of negotiations between Russian and
Chechen authorities, Reuters reported on 7 March, citing Chechen
Interior Minister Kazbek Makhashev. The four Russian journalists
kidnapped in Chechnya on 4 March remain missing, along with an Italian
photographer kidnapped two weeks ago. Citing acting Chechen First Deputy
Prime Minister Movladi Udugov, Russian media reported on 6 March that
the Chechen government would expel all journalists in the interests of
their safety. Udugov also said the kidnappings were hampering the
negotiation process. Two Russian Public TV (ORT) correspondents
kidnapped in January were released one month later. Also on 6 March, one
Dagestani policeman was killed and four were wounded in a shootout with
unidentified gunmen at the Chechen border, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura
Belin

DUMA PASSES CHECHEN AMNESTY RESOLUTION. By a vote of 235-39, the Duma
passed a resolution on 7 March granting amnesty to those who committed
"socially dangerous actions" during the Chechen conflict, ITAR-TASS
reported. The amnesty resolution was supported by the Communist, Our
Home is Russia, and Russian Regions factions but opposed by Yabloko,
Popular Power, and the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia. The amnesty,
however, does not cover those engaged in several types of criminal
activity--including weapons contraband and the theft of economic aid to
Chechnya--which may limit its application to many Chechen fighters and
some Russian soldiers involved in the conflict. It also does not apply
to foreigners. A separate resolution, which passed by 228-0, empowered
the presidential commission on prisoner exchanges to release Chechens
whom Russian courts have already convicted of crimes, if it will help
secure the release of Russians still held captive in Chechnya. -- Scott
Parrish

GROUND FORCES COMMANDER STILL REFUSES TO RESIGN. Army General Vladimir
Semenev told ITAR-TASS on 6 March that he has rejected Defense Minister
Igor Rodionov's recent request that he resign over allegations of using
military labor for the construction of his dacha outside Moscow.
Semenev, who has been suspended from duty since Rodionov charged him
with misconduct last November, is waiting for a final decision on his
fate by President Yeltsin, who must either confirm or reject Rodionov's
order removing him from his post. Denying repeated accusations of
corruption, he complained that in the three months since his suspension,
no credible evidence of misconduct has been produced against him. ITAR-
TASS added that the presidential commission on top military appointments
has yet to receive "documentary evidence" of either financial misconduct
by Semenev. -- Scott Parrish

EKHO MOSKVY TO BAN MOST DUMA DEPUTIES FROM AIRWAVES. In protest of the
State Duma's decision to revoke the accreditation of ORT correspondents
for one month, the private radio station Ekho Moskvy announced on 6
March that it will not allow any of the 259 Duma deputies who voted for
the measure to appear on the air for one month. The Union of
Journalists' Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech also denounced the
Duma's action as a "shameful attempt to return society to political
censorship," ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, ORT pledged to file a
complaint with the president's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes,
a consultative body. -- Laura Belin

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SECRETARY-GENERAL IN MOSCOW. Daniel Tarschys met
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev on
6 March to discuss Russia's adherence to the obligations it assumed on
joining the council in February 1996, Russian media reported. At the
time, the council called on Russia to impose an immediate moratorium on
executions and abolish the death penalty within three years. But Moscow
continued executions until August 1996; and the new criminal code, which
entered into force on 1 January, still provides for the death penalty on
five counts. Tarschys hailed Russia's recent tentative moves toward
abolishing the death penalty but stressed the council "impatiently
awaits further steps in this direction." -- Scott Parrish

YAKUTIYA ANNULS AGREEMENT WITH DEFENSE MINISTRY. Yakutiya (Sakha) Prime
Minister Valentin Federov on 6 March signed a directive canceling a 1996
agreement with the Defense Ministry that permitted spent booster rocket
stages to fall on the republic's territory, ITAR-TASS reported. Sakha
authorities were angered by the Defense Ministry's decision earlier this
week to launch a military satellite from the new Svobodnyi cosmodrome,
despite their appeal for further environmental and safety checks (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 4 and 5 March 1997). Under the June 1996 agreement,
1,142 square kilometers in a virtually uninhabited part of the republic
were set aside as a "landing area" for spent booster stages. Military
officials expressed "bewilderment" at Federov's action, saying the
recent booster launch had neither left debris in the area nor caused any
damage. -- Scott Parrish

PRIMORE FACES POLITICAL, ENERGY CRISES. In the continuing struggle
between Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko and Vladivostok
Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, a Vladivostok district court has annulled all
decisions taken by the Primorskii Krai Duma after its term expired on 15
January, Radio Rossii reported on 6 March. The Duma had voted to extend
its term and cancel elections scheduled for 30 March. The same day,
another court hearing banned a referendum that Cherepkov had planned for
23 March in a bid to strengthen his own powers. Meanwhile, a woman
undergoing a Caesarean section died due to a power-cut during the
operation, NTV reported on 5 March. Half the buildings in Nakhodka are
without heating, including schools and hospitals. Vladimir Chubai, head
of the krai's Trade Union Federation, said the region's coal miners have
not been paid since September. -- Peter Rutland

BUSINESSMAN KIDNAPPED IN ST. PETERSBURG. Mark Goryachev, an adviser to
the chairman of the State Property Committee, was kidnapped in St.
Petersburg on 5 March , Russian media reported. Goryachev became widely
known as a successful businessman during perestroika and was elected in
1993 to the previous Duma, where he gained notoriety for punching
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovskii. According to
Kommersant-Daily on 6 March, police investigators suggest Goryachev may
have faked his own kidnapping because he had found it difficult to pay
bank loans. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

LOWER INFLATION IN FEBRUARY. According to the State Statistical
Committee, consumer price inflation in February was 1.5%, down from 2.5%
in January 1997 and 2.8% in February 1996, ITAR-TASS reported on 6
March. The price of the subsistence minimum basket of goods (consisting
of 25 commodities) increased by 3.1% to 236,300 rubles ($41.5). Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told the government that in January and
February 1997, the population's real income was up 7% on the same period
last year, while the number of people with incomes below the minimum
subsistence level dropped by 14%. -- Natalia Gurushina

LAWSUIT AGAINST NOVOLIPETSK METAL PLANT. The international investment
fund Cambridge Capital Management (CCM), which has a 17.2% equity stake
in the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Combine (NLMK)--has filed a suit
against NLMK in the Lipetsk arbitration court, AFP reported on 6 March.
CCM says that the NLMK administration and the Trans-World Metals Group,
which has a 10% stake in NLMK and manages the company, have not granted
representation on the company's board to CCM and some other outside
owners. Meanwhile, David Rubin, head of Trans-World Metals, published an
open letter to Chernomyrdin and U.S. Vice President Al Gore in the Wall
Street Journal warning that the Russian government may use this and
other disputes to try to renationalize some metals companies,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 7 March. Trans-World Metals reportedly
controls 50% of aluminum production in Russia. -- Natalia Gurushina

IRKUTSK "TAX REVOLT" FIZZLES OUT. Irkutsk Governor Yurii Nozhikov on 1
March halted the oblast's payment of federal taxes, complaining that
Irkutsk gave 4 trillion rubles ($700 million) to the federal budget in
1996 and got nothing in return. He also noted that the oblast owes 600
billion rubles in unpaid wages to budget organization workers. But
during his visit to Moscow on 4 March, Nozhikov agreed to end his "tax
revolt," Segodnya reported on 5 March. He met with Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin, who promised to transfer 310 billion rubles to Irkutsk in
1997; and with Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov, who threatened him
with legal action if he did not resume tax payments. Tula Governor
Nikolai Sevrugin and Krasnodar Governor Nikolai Kondratenko have also
threatened to stop paying taxes to Moscow if federal debts to their
regions are not paid. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA, SOUTH OSSETIA REACH AGREEMENT. Following two days of talks in
Moscow, delegations from Georgia and South Ossetia have agreed on the
breakaway region's political status, according to a 6 March BGI report
monitored by the BBC. First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov, the
chief Russian mediator, said the agreement envisages that Georgia's
territorial integrity will be preserved and that South Ossetia will have
unspecified "special powers for self-determination." The two have also
set up a joint "special commission" to deal with the region's economic
reconstruction. -- Emil Danielyan

IRAN DENIES TRANSIT OF RUSSIAN WEAPONS TO ARMENIA. A spokesman for the
Iranian Embassy in Yerevan has denied Azerbaijani accusations that
alleged Russian arms supplies to Armenia were transported via Iran (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 6 March 1997), RFE/RL reported on 6 March. He
described those charges as "propaganda." In addition to the trilateral
cooperation agreement between Iran, Armenia, and Turkmenistan, Tehran
wants to form an Iranian-Armenian-Greek "axis" that might also include
Georgia. -- Emil Danielyan

RUSSIAN SECRET SERVICES ACTIVE IN AZERBAIJAN? Azerbaijani Security
Minister Namig Abbasov has accused Russian secret services of spying on
Azerbaijan and trying to undermine its government, AFP reported on 5
March, citing the Turan news agency. Abbasov pointed to the case of
Salman Ibrahimov, a Georgian arrested late last year in Baku, allegedly
for spying on behalf of Russia. He also reiterated claims that Moscow is
determined to replace Azerbaijan's present leadership with a more
malleable one. Recently, Baku charged that Moscow has been clandestinely
funneling military support to Armenia. -- Lowell Bezanis

CENTRAL ASIAN DRUG FLOW OR FLOOD? Moscow police apprehended two Tajik
Security Ministry agents who arrived at the Nikolaevka rail station on 5
March in possession of nearly 8,000 kilograms of opium, ITAR-TASS
reported. The two were taking part in a training program at the Moscow
Academy of the Russian Federal Security Service as part of a CIS
agreement on cooperation between secret services. Meanwhile in
Turkmenistan, authorities say some 16 tons of hashish were confiscated
in February alone. Seven tons were found aboard a train en route from
the Afghan city of Herat to Europe via Turkmenistan. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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