This is the true nature of home-- it is the place of Peace; the shelter, not only from injury, but from all terror, doubt and division. - John Ruskin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 50, Part I, 12 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

NEW CHIEF OF STAFF APPOINTED. Valentin Yumashev, a former journalist who
ghost-wrote President Boris Yeltsin's two memoirs, Against the Grain and
Notes of a President, was appointed head of the presidential
administration on 11 March, Russian media reported. The relatively
unknown Yumashev, who has little administrative experience, is unlikely
to have as much authority as Anatolii Chubais exercised as chief of
staff during Yeltsin's illness. Komsomolskaya pravda and Kommersant-
Daily reported on 12 March that Yumashev is a good friend of Yeltsin's
daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and has close links to Security Council
Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii. Since 1991, Yumashev has held senior
posts at the magazine Ogonek, which is partly financed by Berezovskii's
Logovaz empire. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin praised Yumashev and
said he looked forward to close cooperation between the government and
presidential administration, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin

SHAPOSHNIKOV APPOINTED TO YELTSIN STAFF. President Yeltsin appointed
former USSR Defense Minister Aviation Marshal Yevgenii Shaposhnikov as a
presidential aide, Russian media reported on 11 March. According to
Kommersant-Daily on 12 March, Shaposhnikov will advise Yeltsin on the
development of Russia's civil aviation and space programs. Before the
appointment, Shaposhnikov was general director of Aeroflot, a post he
held since 1995. Previously he served as presidential representative to
the state arms exporter, Rosvooruzhenie (1994-95), Secretary of the
Security Council (1993), and commander of the CIS Armed Forces (1991-
93). The paper said Yeltsin values Shaposhnikov's personal loyalty,
although it questioned his performance in his most recent jobs. The same
day Yeltsin appointed the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
Yurii Osipov, to the Security Council. ITAR-TASS said Osipov will
oversee the creation of a new scientific advisory board for the council.
-- Scott Parrish

BORODIN WARNS AGAINST ATTEMPTS TO REMOVE HIM. In a rare press
conference, Presidential Business Manager Pavel Borodin warned that if
he lost his job in the current reshuffling, he would be forced to go
into politics, Kommersant-Daily reported on 12 March. Since taking the
position in 1993, Borodin boasts that he increased the property
controlled by the Kremlin 10-fold. His staff of 350 oversees 200
companies, which employ many thousands, and who operate 300 buildings in
Moscow, medical facilities in Sochi and the Northern Caucasus, and the
Rossiya air company, ITAR-TASS reported. His office handles financing
for the parliament, government, and many federal offices in the regions.
He criticized the president's annual address to the parliament for
attacking a plan to build a new $1.4 billion center to house the
parliament and provide accommodation for deputies. He also said that
Yeltsin's family lives "modestly" in a 167 square-meter apartment. --
Robert Orttung

ORT APPEALS TO SUPREME COURT AGAINST DUMA. Russian Public TV (ORT) has
appealed to the Supreme Court against the recent decision by the State
Duma to revoke the accreditation of the network's journalists for one
month, ORT reported on 11 March. The President's Judicial Chamber on
Information Disputes, a consultative body, requested on 7 March that the
Duma reverse its decision. The chamber found that the lower house of
parliament had violated both the law on the mass media and the
constitutional principle of separation of powers, since a court must
approve decisions to revoke journalists' accreditation. -- Laura Belin

DUMA PASSES CHECHEN AMNESTY RESOLUTION. The State Duma passed the
resolution granting amnesty to participants of the war in Chechnya on
the third and final reading on 12 March, ITAR-TASS reported. On 11
March, Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov announced that 14 people
have been arrested in connection with the abduction last week of four
Russian journalists, according to ORT. Also on 11 March, Russian
Interior Minister Anatolii Shkirko said that the number of border troops
deployed along the administrative frontier between Chechnya and the rest
of the Russian Federation is being increased to prevent Chechen fighters
and criminals infiltrating other regions. He claimed that the
administration of President Aslan Maskhadov is powerless to crack down
on crime, according to NTV and ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Benjamin Netanyahu discussed bilateral
relations and the Middle East peace process on 11 March with President
Yeltsin, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, and Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov, Russian and Western media reported. Yeltsin told Netanyahu
that bilateral trade, which reached nearly $500 million in 1996, "can be
considerably increased" now that Moscow and Tel Aviv have "put their
prejudices behind them." However, Yeltsin also "voiced concern about
Israel's unilateral steps in east Jerusalem," a reference to the
Netanyahu government's recent decision to expand Jewish settlements
there. Meeting with Primakov, Netanyahu expressed concern about Russia's
technical and military cooperation with Iran and Syria, arguing it
threatened regional stability. Primakov said the light-water power
reactor Russia is supplying Tehran is "unrelated to military matters,"
and also rejected reports that Russia is help Iran develop ballistic
missiles. -- Scott Parrish

AFGHAN REFUGEES IN RUSSIA. There are some 150,000 Afghan refugees in
Russia who fled their country after the Soviet-backed regime collapsed
in 1992, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported on 11 March. Only a few
hundred have been granted refugee status, the remainder have documents
which say they are applying for that status. They receive no state
support, and eke out an existence through petty trading. They include
many former leading members of the Kabul regime, including 30 ex-
generals. As they do not hold Moscow residence permits they are often
picked up by the police and forced to pay a 50,000 ruble ($8) bribe to
avoid deportation from that city. -- Peter Rutland

UDMURTIYA RESTORES LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. The Udmurt State Council has
given in to pressure from Moscow and annulled a law abolishing elected
local government institutions in the republic, ORT reported on 11 March.
The law, which was passed by the republican parliament in April 1996,
dissolved popularly elected local bodies and replaced them with
legislatures and executives appointed by the State Council. Although the
Russian Constitutional Court ruled in January that the law violated
federal legislation, the republican authorities have continued to
implement it. On 21 February and again on 10 March Yeltsin issued
decrees ordering republican authorities to abide by the court decision
and instructed federal authorities to ensure that they did (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 11 March 1997, and OMRI Russian Regional Report, 6 March
1997). -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

CROWD BURNS COUPLE IN DAGESTAN. A crowd in the Dagestani city of
Buinaksk on 4 March burned a couple identified as Mr. and Mrs. Gadzhiev
who were suspected of kidnapping a 12-year-old girl and selling her
organs, ITAR-TASS reported. The girl's body had been found on 2 March,
and although she was violently murdered, there was no sign that organs
had been removed. The Dagestani authorities claim to have evidence
connecting Mr. Gadzhiev to the murder, but not his wife. They are still
investigating the circumstances leading to their death. Many children
are rumored to have disappeared in Dagestan recently, and some suspect
that their organs are being used abroad. Seventh Day Adventist sources
(who identified the couple as Tanya and Hadgimurat Magomedov) in the
U.S. report that the couple were members of the church and had provoked
the ire of the local community, which is predominantly Muslim, by
seeking converts. -- Robert Orttung

DISPUTE OVER HOW MANY UNEMPLOYED . . . At a meeting of the government's
Commission on Operational Questions on 11 March there was disagreement
over the number of unemployed in Russia, Kommersant-Daily reported.
First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov said there are 17 million
jobless, or 22% of the labor force, citing data from surveys conducted
by Guy Standing of the International Labor Organization. Labor Minister
Gennadii Melikyan accused Standing of "muddying the waters" and said
that at the end of 1996 there were only 7 million (9.7%) unemployed: 2.5
million registered unemployed, plus 3 million on part-time work and 2
million more on unpaid leave. Whatever figure one uses, all sides agree
that the number of openly unemployed will increase this year. -- Peter
Rutland

. . . PLAN TO CUT BENEFITS. There are arrears of 1.2 trillion rubles
($210 million) in the payment of unemployment benefits, and there are
plans to cut the level of entitlements in order to maintain the solvency
of the Unemployment Fund, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 March. Currently, an
unemployed person receives 75% of his or her last wage. The government
is preparing a new law under which the benefit will be equal to the
subsistence minimum for the region in which the applicant resides. --
Peter Rutland

PRIVATE SECURITY BUSINESS BOOMING. There are 9,800 officially registered
private security firms in Russia which employ 155,000 people, ITAR-TASS
reported on 11 March, citing Interior Ministry official Nikolai
Pershutkin. According to the ministry, about one-third of these firms'
workers are former employees of state law enforcement agencies and
special forces units. The Interior Ministry is concerned that private
security agencies are often used as a front by criminal organizations.
Of 5,000 security firms inspected by the ministry in 1996, one in 10 had
criminal connections. Some 3,000 security agents did not have licenses.
Inspectors also discovered 1,700 unregistered firearms. -- Natalia
Gurushina

REASONS FOR TAX NON-PAYMENTS. Only six of 89 regions met their 1996 tax
obligations to the federal budget, according to Deputy General
Procurator Vladimir Davydov, interviewed inRossiiskaya gazeta on 11
March. Davydov said that the main reasons for tax arrears are falling
industrial output and the inefficient fiscal system. However, he noted
that the mass issuance of bills of exchange (vekselya) and barter deals
represent major channels for tax evasion. According to the Central Bank,
Russian commercial banks and the federation subjects issued 114 trillion
rubles ($20 billion) and 50 trillion rubles worth of vekselya,
respectively. At any one time 11 trillion rubles of tax payments are
being held by commercial banks, who delay passing the funds on to the
federal authorities. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI RHETORIC. The Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a
statement on 11 March calling on Azerbaijan to refrain from "a
provocative propaganda war" characterized by "misinformation and
groundless accusations" and aimed at "discrediting the Karabakh peace
process," and to focus instead on achieving a peaceful settlement of the
conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 11 March, Turan quoted Azerbaijani
presidential advisor Vafa Gulu-Zade as stating that direct negotiations
between Azerbaijan and the Armenian leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh can
take place only after the latter accepts the resolution of the December
1996 OSCE Lisbon summit which affirmed support for the territorial
integrity of Azerbaijan, thereby excluding the possibility of de jure
independence for Nagorno-Karabakh. A further round of OSCE-mediated
talks on Karabakh is to open in Moscow on 1 April, RFE/RL reported on 11
March. -- Liz Fuller

SOLANA VISITS KAZAKSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN. NATO Secretary- General Javier
Solana arrived in Kazakstan on 10 March on the first leg of a five-day,
four-country tour, international media reported. Solana assured the
Kazakstani government that NATO expansion did not pose a threat to the
CIS. After meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Solana described
their talks as "fruitful;" the two, however, did not hold a planned
press conference. Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev said NATO did
not represent a threat to Kazakstan but urged that NATO move slowly in
allowing more countries into the organization. Solana departed for
Kyrgyzstan on 11 March and will meet with government officials on 12
March before moving on to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The four Central
Asian states are part of NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program and all
but Turkmenistan will participate in a joint military exercise,
"Turkestan-97," along with troops from seven other countries in
September to be held in Kazakstan and Uzbekistan. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIK OPPOSITION DOWNPLAYS TALIBAN THREAT. In an interview in the 12
March edition of Nezavisimaya gazeta, the number two man in the United
Tajik Opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, called the Taliban threat to
Central Asian states such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan "fabrications."
Turajonzoda said the Taliban are no more a threat than NATO and noted
that for one-and-a-half years they have controlled the area adjacent to
Turkmenistan and there have been no problems. "They shouldn't decide in
Moscow if the Taliban are a threat to us," he added -- Bruce Pannier

BORDER TROOP COMMANDERS MEET. Border guard commanders from CIS states
except Moldova met in Ashgabat on 11 March, ITAR-TASS reported the same
day. The 24th such gathering was chaired by the commander of the Russian
Border Troops Gen. Andrei Nikolaev. The agency noted that exchanges of
border troops is foreseen as a means of strengthening "integration
processes" in guarding the outer borders of the CIS. The participants
also greed to cooperate in training border guards. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

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.

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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TRANSITION
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RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT
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