Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality. - Goethe
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 52, Part I, 14 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

CHERNOMYRDIN DISCUSSES NEW GOVERNMENT WITH YELTSIN. Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin met with President Boris Yeltsin on 13 March to
discuss the upcoming cabinet reshuffle, Russian media reported. Although
no details were released from the meeting, presidential spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii confirmed that the new government will be formed by 19
March, when a summit in Helsinki between Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill
Clinton opens. On 14 March Yeltsin told a meeting of journalists that
there will be seven deputy prime ministers in the new government - a
modest reduction from the nine that were in its predecessor. Also on 13
March, Chernomyrdin discussed the cabinet reshuffle with the leadership
of his Our Home Is Russia (NDR) movement. In recent months, there has
been speculation about tense relations between the government and the
NDR's representatives in the State Duma (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1
November 1996) Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 13 March that a
prominent NDR Duma deputy, Vladimir Ryzhkov, criticized the new
presidential chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev, as lacking the expertise
for the job. * Laura Belin

SELEZNEV SEEKS MEETING WITH YELTSIN. State Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev said he hopes to meet with Yeltsin to discuss the cabinet
reshuffle and the recent session of the Russian-Belarusian joint
Parliamentary Assembly, Russian media reported on 13 March. Seleznev
called on Yeltsin to consult the leaders of all Duma factions before
deciding on the structure of the government. He warned that under the de
facto leadership of First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, the
new cabinet would be "the most incompetent government in all recent
history," deepening Russia's economic crisis and making integration with
Belarus impossible, NTV reported. Last November, Seleznev demanded
Chubais's resignation as presidential chief of staff following the
appointment of Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii.
* Laura Belin

DEFENSE COUNCIL DISCUSSES NATO EXPANSION... Prime Minister Chernomyrdin
chaired a session of the Defense Council on 13 March which discussed
Russian relations with NATO, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Opening the session, Chernomyrdin reiterated that Moscow remains opposed
to NATO expansion, insisting that an "effective" European security
system cannot be built without Russian participation. However, he added
that Russia is "prepared to discuss constructive initiatives," which he
said NATO had recently proposed. Although he gave no details,
Chernomyrdin's remarks support recent media reports based on Western
diplomatic sources which claim that NATO and Moscow are edging toward a
deal on enlargement. After Chernomyrdin's opening remarks, the council
heard a report from Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, who will leave
for Washington on 15 March to finish preparations for the 19-20 March
Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Helsinki. * Scott Parrish

...NATO TO TOP SUMMIT AGENDA. Presidential press secretary Sergei
Yastrzembskii said in a radio interview with Ekho Moskvy on 13 March
that Yeltsin will strike an "extremely specific, totally firm, and very
tough" stance on NATO enlargement at his meeting with Clinton. Referring
to the ongoing talks on a NATO-Russia charter, Yastrzhembskii said that
Yeltsin would seek to discover how well the U.S. understands Russian
concerns, and ascertain whether Washington is "sincere" and willing to
"put on paper" pledges and concessions that have been made verbally.
Yastrzhembskii repeated that Moscow wants any Russia-NATO charter to be
legally binding, although he said that did not necessarily mean Russia
would insist on parliamentary ratification of the agreement. A
"politically binding" agreement between the executives of the countries
involved, like the 1975 Helsinki Act, could be acceptable to Moscow, he
added. * Scott Parrish

DEFENSE MINISTRY CONFIRMS ILLEGAL ARMS TRANSFERS TO ARMENIA. Russian
Minister for CIS Affairs Aman Tuleev made public on 13 March an official
letter from Defense Minister Igor Rodionov confirming that a large
quantity of Russian weapons, including 84 T-72 tanks and 50 armored
personnel carriers, were illegally transferred to Armenia from 1994-96,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Tuleev had charged on 14 February
that Russia had lost 270 billion rubles ($51 million) as a result of
illegal arms tranfers to Armenia. In response to these charges,
Rodionov's letter, dated 28 February, said a Defense Ministry commission
had determined that weapons had been transferred to Armenia for free,
without authorization by the Russian government. Chief Military
Procurator Valentin Panichev told ITAR-TASS an investigation into the
transfers was continuing, and refused to speculate on who might be
responsible for them. * Scott Parrish

PROCURACY OVERWHELMED WITH WORK. Procurator General Yurii Skuratov
complained in an interview in Rossiiskaya gazeta on 13 March that his
embattled agency lacks the resources to deal with its responsibilities.
It has only 7,090 investigators, out of a total staff of 28,677, and
last year had to issue 427,000 arrest warrants, take 1,213,000 cases to
court, and deal with more than 1 million complaints of rights
violations. He said 880 cases involving privatization went to court last
year, the "most common trick" being undervaluation of assets. At the
Defense Ministry legal procedures are under way against 28 generals and
almost 100 senior officers. Several of the cases against top generals
were detailed in an article in Trud on 13 March. * Peter Rutland

PRAVDA WINS BATTLE IN ARBITRATION COURT. The Moscow Arbitration Court on
13 March barred the Pravda International publishing house from using the
famous logo from the newspaper Pravda on editions of its daily newspaper
Pravda-5, ITAR-TASS reported. The publishers of Pravda-5 ignored a
similar ruling handed down in September by the President's Judicial
Chamber on Information Disputes, a consultative body (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 13 September 1996). If Pravda-5 violates the Arbitration Court's
decision, it may be fined 200 times the minimum wage (15 million rubles,
or $2,700) for each day it uses the Pravda logo. Pravda was forced by
its Greek financiers to suspend publication last July; it was replaced
by Pravda-5, formerly a weekly. * Laura Belin

ENERGY CRISIS HITS RUSSIAN REGIONS. Primorskii Krai declared a state of
emergency on 14 March because there is not enough fuel to generate heat
for apartments in Nakhodka and Dalnegorsk, where interior temperatures
are hovering between 5-10 degrees centigrade, ITAR-TASS reported. The
authorities decided to drain water from the city's heating system to
prevent the pipes from cracking due to the expansion of frozen water
inside them. The Dalenergo power generating company cannot buy fuel
because many of its customers have not paid it. Similar problems in
Arkhangelsk have led Governor Anatolii Yefremov to call for the
unification of the region's fuel providers and energy generator under
the control of the oblast administration, ITAR-TASS reported. This is
unlikely to occur because, while the electricity companies are to a
degree under local control, fuel providers such as the coal company
Rosugol are commercially independent entities. * Robert Orttung

TAX COLLECTION EFFORTS. The government has set up a commission under the
chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anatolii
Kulikov to monitor the granting of tax and customs privileges, ITAR-TASS
reported on 13 March. On 11 March the government passed a decree
increasing the funding and personnel of the State Tax Service, which is
now under the supervision of Kulikov, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 14
March. Responsibility for collecting export taxes on natural gas will be
given back to the State Tax Service, ITAR-TASS reported. In August 1996
the State Customs Service had been given the right to collect oil and
gas export taxes: it will retain control of oil duties. As the country
awaits news of the government reshuffle, it is unclear whether Kulikov
or First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais will spearhead the
effort the improve tax collection. * Peter Rutland

RUSSIA FLOATS SECOND EUROBOND ISSUE. Russia has successfully floated its
second eurobond issue worth 2 billion Deutsche marks ($1.18 billion),
ITAR-TASS, Kommersant-Daily, and Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 13-14
March. The main parameters of the issue improved compared to the
November floatation: the bonds' maturity increased from five to seven
years and the annual coupon income declined from 9.25% to 9% (which
means some reduction in debt-servicing costs paid from the federal
budget). The issue is managed by international investment banks Deutsche
Morgan Grenfell and CS First Boston, and by Russian banks
Mezhdunarodnaya Finansovaya kompaniya, Rossiiskii kredit, Imperial, and
Alfa-bank. The total value of eurobonds issued by the Russian government
in 1997 is expected to be $3 billion, and the third issue will be
denominated in Japanese yen. * Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

REACTIONS TO ARMENIAN ARMS DISCLOSURE. Publication of Rodionov's letter
(see item in Russia section) caused concern in the Transcaucasus, not
least because Moscow is co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk group mediating
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, international media reported. Yerevan had
hitherto strenously denied it received such weapons tranfers, and on 14
March Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arsen Gaspayan said "I
categorically deny the statements made by Rodionov and Tuleev," Reuters
reported. Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkissyan told students at Yerevan
State University that Armenia's defense capability had been "doubled" in
the past two years "at no cost to the budget," RFE/RL reported.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani officials declared Rodionov's disclosures will
not harm Russian-Azerbaijani relations. Russian media quoted President
Haidar Aliev's foreign policy adviser Vafa Guluzade as saying Russia's
interests in Azerbaijan would be given "only the green light". * Lowell
Bezanis

U.S. DELEGATION IN BAKU. A State Department delegation headed by Eric
Newsome held two days of talks in Baku with Azerbaijani President Haidar
Aliev and top foreign and defense ministry officials, RFE/RL reported on
13 March. The talks, termed "very useful and detailed" by Aliev, focused
on safeguarding transportation arteries, NATO-related issues, regional
issues, and Azerbaijan's compliance with the CFE Treaty. Azerbaijani
Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov told RFE/RL that limits on military
deployments stipulated by the treaty can only be addressed in the
context of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. * Lowell Bezanis

KYRGYZSTAN VERSUS KRIMINAL. The Committee to Protect Journalists has
taken up the cause of the Kyrgyz independent newspaper Kriminal and sent
a letter to President Askar Akayev. A copy of the letter obtained by
OMRI, dated 13 March, asks the Kyrgyz court to lift a ban on the
newspaper. The newspaper published only two editions before it was
banned on 17 January for "insulting government officials" and
"publishing deliberately false information." One article claimed Prime
Minister Apas Jumagulov had built his new residence on the site of a
cemetery. Jumagulov filed a suit against the paper in February but
dropped it after a 7 March conversation with the paper's editor-in-chief
Beken Nazaraliev. The Ministry of Justice, however, is still pressing
charges against the paper. The paper also faces charges of insulting
Vice Prime Minister Bekbolot Talgarbekov who, according the paper,
squandered money intended for use in the agricultural sector, for using
insulting popular nicknames when referring to government officials, and
for claiming that top posts in government were given to people from the
Talas and Kemin regions of Kyrgyzstan. * Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

NAZARBAYEV COMMENTS ON DECLINING TRADE WITH RUSSIA. The Russian
newspaper Krasnaya zvezda on 13 March published recent comments made by
Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He said his country would
like to have closer relations with Russia but acknowledged that trade
and economic relations between the countries were shrinking. "In the
past Russia took up 80% of Kazakstan's commodity circulation....now the
figure is around 40%," Nazarbayev said. He then mentioned that
Kazakstan's decision to buy $114 million worth of agricultural machinery
from the American John Deere Co. instead of from the Russian "Don"
company of Rostov-na-Donu was a reflection of the better quality of the
American equipment. Nazarbayev also noted that while Kazakstan was
buying planes from Boeing and not Russian-made Tu-154s, this was true in
Russia as well. Still, Nazarbayev said, "I tell all Kazakstanis....no
one is closer to Kazakstan than Russia and the Russian people." * Bruce
Pannier

MORE DIFFICULTIES WITH TAJIKISTAN'S "THIRD FORCE." Radio Rossii reported
on 13 March that protest meetings were being held in northern
Tajikistan's Leninabad Region in support of a role at the Tajik peace
talks for Abdumalik Abdullajonov, leader of the National Revival
Movement. The report said the Ayninskii Region was particularly
"active." Abdullajonov's organization has been excluded from peace talks
between the Tajik government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO).
Those demonstrating are also demanding humanitarian aid be more equally
distributed, claiming they are receiving only "crumbs." Meanwhile, the
UTO has complained to the Tajik government that the Sadirov brothers'
group, responsible for the 4-17 February hostage crisis in Tajikistan,
have returned to their area of operations, near Obigarm, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 14 March. A "highly placed military official" said
the government had investigated this and found no armed unit in the
area. * 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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