This communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joy, and cutteth griefs in half. - Francis Bacon
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 51, Part I, 13 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

RUSSIA

DUMA BLASTS NATO EXPANSION . . . By a vote of 300-1, the State Duma on
12 March passed a resolution harshly criticizing NATO's expansion plans,
which it said would "detract" from efforts to "construct a new global
security system in Europe," ITAR-TASS reported. The resolution backed
the government's public negotiating stance in talks on a proposed
charter with NATO, saying any such agreement should "be of a restrictive
nature and contain effective security guarantees for Russia." It also
argued that the 1995 Russian federal law on international treaties
requires that any proposed charter be subject to parliamentary
ratification. While the Russian government has insisted that the
agreement take the form of a legally binding international treaty
subject to parliamentary ratification, NATO has balked at this
condition. -- Scott Parrish

. . . WHILE RUSSIA-NATO AGREEMENT NEARS? International agencies, citing
anonymous Western diplomatic sources, reported on 12 March that Russia
and NATO are close to deal under which Russia would accept a limited
enlargement of NATO in return for various concessions including an
expanded role in the G-7. The diplomats said Moscow had dropped its
insistence that the NATO-Russia agreement be a legally binding treaty,
and would accept the alliance's preference for a political declaration.
They added that Moscow wants the agreement signed at a separate ceremony
before the July NATO summit in Madrid, at which prospective East
European members will be invited to begin accession talks. Such a
ceremony could take place at the scheduled June G-7 meeting in Denver,
Colorado. Russia has long pressed for full membership in the G7, a
position supported by Germany, though other members are more skeptical.
-- Scott Parrish

CHERNOMYRDIN: YOUNG EXPERTS WILL JOIN NEW CABINET. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin has refused to name specific candidates for posts in the
forthcoming new cabinet, but he announced on 12 March that the
government will include many "professional market economy experts," who
are "firm supporters of the president's reform course," ITAR-TASS
reported. Chernomyrdin added that although the new appointees will be
experienced administrators, "as a rule" they will not be older than 50.
The prime minister's comments lent support to speculation that First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, who was appointed on 7 March,
will bring several of his associates to the government. -- Laura Belin

DUMA CONDEMNS CHUBAIS APPOINTMENT. The State Duma, by a vote of 230-122,
passed a resolution calling the appointment of Chubais a "direct
challenge to Russian public opinion," Russian and Western agencies
reported on 12 March. The resolution linked Chubais "to the failure of
the Russian economy, [the failure] of the financial system, and the
cynical pillaging of national property under the guise of
privatization." It also asked President Boris Yeltsin to consult
parliament before approving new ministers, and called on Procurator-
General Yurii Skuratov to accelerate his investigations into the
financing of Yeltsin's re-election campaign (for which Chubais was a key
adviser) and Chubais's compliance with tax laws. Duma deputy Sergei
Ivanenko (Yabloko) criticized the resolution; he told NTV that left-
leaning Communist, Agrarian and Popular Power factions had passed it
primarily in order to conceal their support for the 1997 budget and for
Chernomyrdin. -- Laura Belin

YAVLINSKII'S "COMPROMISE" OFFER TO GOVERNMENT. In the latest issue of
Moskovskie novosti (no. 10), Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii called
on the government and Yeltsin to sign an "Anticrisis Agreement" with the
"democratic opposition," with a view toward "effective reform for the
majority" without any redistribution of property. He argued that the
current government is neither "Red" nor "White" and has no ideology at
all except for greed. Yavlinskii's proposed agreement would require the
government to set a deadline for the payment of all wages and pensions
owed to the public. If the debt has not been paid within 10 days of the
deadline, the entire government would be forced to resign. The
government would also amend the 1997 budget substantially. Yavlinskii
explained that his associates would not join the government without such
an agreement. "We are not engaging in horse trading; we are upholding
our principles," he wrote. -- Laura Belin

RODIONOV CANCELS TRIP TO UAE ARMS SHOW. Defense Minister Igor Rodionov
has canceled a scheduled 16-20 March visit to the IDEX'97 arms
exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 March. According to ITAR-
TASS, Defense Ministry officials refused to link Rodionov's decision to
the ongoing government reorganization, in which some speculate the
defense minister could be sacked. Instead they said Rodionov needed to
prepare for a scheduled 13 March meeting of the Defense Council, which
is to discuss Russia's position on NATO expansion and the 19-20 March
Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Helsinki. Instead of Rodionov, Col.-Gen.
Leonid Ivashov, head of the ministry's international cooperation
department, will lead the 350-member Russian delegation to the arms
fair, where Russian firms will display a wide range of weapons systems.
-- Scott Parrish

U.S. ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO INCREASE AID TO FORMER SOVIET UNION. In
testimony to Congress on 11 March, Ambassador Richard Morningstar called
for a 44% increase in U.S. aid to the Newly Independent States next
year. Aid spending would rise from $625 million in 1997 to $900 million
in 1998, while spending on Russia alone would go from $95 million to
$225 million. Total U.S. aid to the NIS peaked at $2.5 billion in 1994,
falling to $850 million in 1995 and $641 million in 1996. Rep. Benjamin
Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said he
was doubtful Congress would support the requested increase, Reuters
reported. Gilman said "We do not have any kind of 'partnership' at this
point with the current government in Moscow," and objected to the idea
of increasing aid in return for Russian acquiescence in NATO expansion.
Morningstar said the aid program "has nothing to do with NATO
expansion," VOA reported. -- Peter Rutland

KRASNOYARSK CONSIDERS NUCLEAR REFERENDUM. Environmental groups in
Krasnoyarsk have collected the 100,000 signatures necessary to force the
local legislature to consider holding a referendum on halting the
construction of a nuclear waste processing plant, NTV reported on 12
March. The legislature will make its decision on 19 March. In a
referendum on 8 December, Kostroma voters rejected by 87% to 10% a
proposal to complete the construction of a nuclear power station in the
province. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV STUMPS FOR STARODUBTSEV IN TULA. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, visiting Tula to support the candidacy of Vasilii
Starodubtsev in the 23 March gubernatorial campaign, lashed out at the
appointment of Anatolii Chubais as first deputy prime minister, NTV
reported. Starodubtsev, who was among the 1991 coupmakers and is now a
leader figure in the Agrarian Party, made clear, however, that he would
work with the new government even though he did not support its
policies. Because Starodubtsev is far ahead of the other 10 candidates,
attracting more than 40% support in opinion polls, Sergei Filatov's pro-
Yeltsin All-Russian Coordinating Council decided that it will not back
anyone in the race, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 March. The presidential
administration has already found common ground with many opposition
candidates who won gubernatorial races in the fall. -- Robert Orttung

A TALENTED FIRST FAMILY. Aeroflot's board of directors has appointed
Boris Yeltsin's son-in-law as acting chairman, Kommersant-Daily reported
on 13 March. The 44-year-old Valerii Okulov, who worked as a navigator
for 20 years, is married to Yeltsin's daughter Yelena. Okulov replaces
Aviation Marshal Yevgenii Shaposhnikov, who was appointed presidential
adviser for aerospace on 11 March. Okulov was appointed Shaposhnikov's
deputy at Aeroflot in June 1996. Aeroflot is 51% state-owned, and has
about two-thirds of the Russian air transport market. Boris
Berezovskii's LogoVAZ is financially involved with the company. -- Peter
Rutland

YELTSIN SIGNS PENSION DEBT DECREE. President Yeltsin has signed a decree
on restructuring companies' debt to the state Pension Fund, Kommersant-
Daily reported on 13 March. The decree allows the fund to sign
agreements with individual firms on debt restructuring which will take
into account the company's financial situation. Russian companies' debt
to the state Pension Fund now totals 60 trillion rubles ($10.5 billion).
Another 14 trillion rubles are owed by the federal government.
Meanwhile, Pension Fund officials called for changes in the 1997 federal
budget in order to eliminate the 7.7 trillion rubles discrepancy between
the fund's 1997 revenue and the corresponding item in the federal
budget, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 March. -- Natalia Gurushina

DOLLARIZATION OF ECONOMY STILL INCREASING. The volume of foreign
currency in the non-banking sector increased by $7.7 billion from
January through September 1996, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 13
March, citing balance of payments figures published by the Central Bank.
The increase was caused mainly by declining yields on major financial
instruments denominated in rubles, mounting non-payments in all sectors
of the economy, increasing demand for foreign currency in the shadow
economy, and political instability on the eve of the presidential
elections last summer. Net foreign currency assets of commercial banks
declined by $2.9 billion during the same period. -- Natalia Gurushina

NORILSK NICKEL LOSES SOME STATE SUBSIDIES. The government has passed a
decree revoking some of the state subsidies to eight industrial
companies, including Norilsk Nickel, Kommersant-Daily reported on 13
March. The privileges were granted to Norilsk Nickel under a government
decree of 30 August 1996. They included the allocation in 1996-1997 of
$200 million worth of foreign investment credits for technical
reconstruction, and providing state guarantees for credits from
commercial banks in order to finance shipments of goods to the Norilsk
region. Company officials reacted coolly to the new decree, saying that
the August bill did not work anyway and Norilsk Nickel had received no
subsidies since that time. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIAN COASTGUARDS INTERCEPT TURKISH FISHING VESSELS. A Russian
coastguard patrol on 12 March intercepted nine Turkish fishing vessels
engaged in poaching in Georgian territorial waters off the Black Sea
port of Batumi and opened fire when they ignored instructions to desist,
killing one Turkish sailor, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
Turkish vessels were escorted to Batumi where criminal proceedings were
instigated against the crew members. -- Liz Fuller

REGIONAL OIL AND GAS UPDATE. The U.S. firm AMOCO will finance
Kazakstan's $150 million stake in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC)
as part of deal permitting the company to transport 3 million metric
tons of oil via the planned CPC line, RFE/RL reported on 12 March.
Nurlan Balgimbayev, the new head of Kazakoil, which was established on 4
March as part of a wholesale restructuring of the country's executive
bodies, declared the pipeline to the Russian port of Novorossiisk will
be completed by early 1999. In other news, the first load of Chevron-
owned Kazak crude, transported by train across Azerbaijan and Georgia,
was loaded onto tankers in Batumi for sale on international markets,
Russian media reported the same day. Meanwhile, Turkmen Oil and Gas
Minister Gochmurad Nazjanov told a major oil and gas exhibition in
Ashgabat he foresees Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan reaching a compromise
agreement on the disputed Azeri and Chirag fields in the Caspian Sea,
Russian media reported on 11 March. -- Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIAN, UZBEK ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and his Uzbek counterpart Otkir Sultanov signed an economic
cooperation accord in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 March. The
agreement outlines cooperation in 1998-2000 in spheres including
agriculture, petrochemicals, and non-ferrous industries. Chernomyrdin
was quoted as saying the sides also reached agreement on the formation
of undefined "large financial-industrial groups." It was also agreed
that the Ilyushin-114 aircraft to be manufactured in Uzbekistan will be
equipped with Russian engines and avionics. -- Lowell Bezanis

KYRGYZSTAN'S VIEW ON NATO. President Askar Akayev, in talks with
visiting NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, said he was opposed to
NATO expansion, international media reported on 12 March. Akayev told
Solana it was "important to heed Russia's concerns," and called Russia
"our strategic partner." The two held more productive talks on the
issues of a Central Asian peacekeeping battalion, mountain rescue
operations training, and the planned joint military exercise between
three Central Asian countries and seven other countries scheduled for
September. Radio Rossii reported on 12 March that the peacekeeping
battalion would most likely be used on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in the
event that the Afghan Taliban movement should reach the Tajik border. A
spokesman for the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry said Kyrgyz troops may
participate in NATO operations in the near future. -- Bruce Pannier

PROOF OF TAJIK AID TO ANTI-TALIBAN FORCES? According to the 13 March
edition of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Tajikistan is indeed providing a safe
haven and help to Afghan Gen. Ahmed Shah Masoud in his fight against the
Taliban Afghan religious movement. Although Tajik press secretary Zafar
Saidov denied on 7 March that any foreign troops were based in
Tajikistan, the paper quoted its own reporter who had recently been in
the southern city of Kulyab. According to the reporter, it was easy to
meet Afghan pilots who "did not try to hide they were flying daily from
Tajikistan to Afghanistan." The article also alleged that Masoud himself
was living in a hotel in the center of Kulyab and that his personal
airplane was in a hanger at the city's airport. -- Bruce Pannier


[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. 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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