Part of the sercret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 53, Part I, 17 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

YELTSIN OFFERS NEMTSOV GOVERNMENT POST. President Boris
Yeltsin offered Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov the
position of first deputy prime minister at a meeting on 17
March, ITAR-TASS reported. Anatolii Chubais has already been
named a first deputy prime minister, and the president said
that the two could form the rest of the government as they
wished. Nemtsov announced that he will accept the post,
despite saying as recently as 15 March that he intended to
continue serving as governor. Nemtsov will be responsible for
social affairs and the reform of natural monopolies. On 16
March, Samara Governor Konstantin Titov rejected an offer to
serve as deputy prime minister, citing his desire to finish
the job he started in Samara. -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. Yevgenii Primakov
arrived in Washington on 15 March for talks with his American
counterpart Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of Defense
William Cohen, and President Bill Clinton, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Primakov will focus on
preparations for the rescheduled 20-21 March U.S.-Russian
summit in Helsinki, which was postponed one day to allow
Clinton to recover from a minor knee surgery. Meanwhile, in
another step to allay Russian concerns about NATO expansion,
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana announced on 14 March
that "in the current and foreseeable security environment,"
the alliance does not plan "additional permanent stationing
of substantial combat forces" in Europe. Moscow has
previously dismissed such assurances as insufficient, instead
demanding that any NATO-Russia charter impose legally binding
limits on NATO deployments in new East European members. --
Scott Parrish

YELTSIN STAKES OUT TOUGH POSITION ON NATO. In a 14 March
interview, President Yeltsin cautioned that his upcoming
meeting with Clinton might not resolve the dispute over NATO
enlargement, saying the session would be "the hardest in the
history of Russian-American relations," Reuters reported.
Yeltsin insisted that a "categorical condition" of any
Russia-NATO agreement was that the alliance not offer
membership to former Soviet republics. He expressed "alarm"
at NATO efforts to build ties with those states, including
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana's recent Central Asian
tour. In an interview with the Finnish paper Helsingin
Sanomat on 16 March, Yeltsin reiterated Moscow's view that
any agreement with NATO must be a binding treaty subject to
parliamentary ratification. -- Scott Parrish

CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF: OFFICER CORPS DECAYING. Defense
Minister Igor Rodionov and top military brass met on 14 March
to discuss the morale of the Russian officer corps, ITAR-TASS
reported. Afterwards, Army General Viktor Samsonov, chief of
the general staff, blamed abysmal living conditions and
chronic wage arrears for causing 500 officers to commit
suicide in 1996. Another 20% of the officer corps have
already submitted resignation requests, he revealed. Samsonov
warned that "if we destroy the core of the officer corps, it
will be difficult to revive the armed forces, even if we have
sufficient financing." -- Scott Parrish

INCUMBENTS ONE FOR TWO IN REGIONAL VOTING. The former
Chairman of the Evenk Legislative Assembly Aleksandr
Bokovikov defeated incumbent Governor Anatolii Yakimov in the
Evenk Autonomous Okrug's three-candidate gubernatorial
elections on 16 March, with more than 60% turnout, ITAR-TASS
reported. The results of the 22 December Evenk elections were
canceled after the local electoral commission found numerous
irregularities. Then, preliminary results showed challenger
Bokovikov in the lead, but the final tally gave the race to
incumbent Yakimov. Tyva Republican President Sherig-ool
Oorzhak leads his race and may have won more than 50% of the
vote, making a second round unnecessary, ITAR-TASS reported.
Final results are expected Tuesday. Oorzhak leads the local
branch of the pro-government Our Home is Russia. -- Robert
Orttung

LEBED PARTY HOLDS FIRST CONGRESS. Former Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's Russian People's Republican Party
held its first congress in Moscow on 14-15 March. Lebed
called on Yeltsin to resign and proposed that Russia take a
"third course" that differs from "totalitarian socialism" and
"criminal capitalism," Russian Public TV (ORT) reported.
Lebed claims 10,000 members for the party. He also announced
the formation of a new political bloc Union - Third Force,
which includes Chess Champion Garri Kasparov and numerous
small parties but not Lebed's former allies, the Congress of
Russian Communities and the Democratic Party of Russia, ITAR-
TASS reported. Lebed threw Georgii Getman, Chairman of the
officers' club "Shield," out of the hall after he read an
anti-Semitic verse. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA ATTACKS PRESIDENT. The State Duma passed a bill that
would force the president to retire if he could not carry out
all of his duties for a period of more than four months
because of health reasons, by a vote of 287 to 23, with one
abstention, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin is likely to veto the
bill, as he has rejected similar measures in the past. Also,
the Duma on 14 March voted 176 to 75 to reject a moratorium
on the death penalty. Russia agreed to abolish the penalty
within three years as part of its commitment on joining the
Council of Europe in February 1996. Additionally, the Duma
voted to make 4 October a "memorial day" to honor 1993's
parliamentary uprising against Yeltsin, AFP reported. --
Robert Orttung

RYBKIN IN NALCHIK. At a meeting with President Valerii Kokov
and other members of the leadership of Kabardino-Balkariya in
the republic's capital, Nalchik, on 15 March, Russian
Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin discussed Russia's
draft economic agreement with Chechnya, Russian media
reported. Russian security officials who also attended the
meeting argued that peace in the north Caucasus is contingent
on the Chechen leadership neutralizing freelance armed
groups. On 16 March, NTV reported that a meeting of Chechen
field commanders in Grozny, including maverick Salman Raduev,
had agreed that all illicit military formations should be
dissolved and Chechnya's standing army should not exceed
2,000 men. -- Liz Fuller

GEORGIAN, CHECHEN, INGUSH OFFICIALS DISCUSS MUTUAL
RELATIONS... Georgia's Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze
met on 14-15 March in the Ingush capital, Nazran, with the
presidents of Chechnya and Ingushetiya, Aslan Maskhadov and
Ruslan Aushev, Russian media reported. Topics discussed
included furthering peace in the Caucasus; guarding Georgia's
border with Chechnya and Ingushetiya; and a possible meeting
between Maskhadov and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze,
according to NTV. Last December Shevardnadze said Georgia's
future relations with Chechnya would be governed by the
constitutions of Georgia and the Russian Federation; he
declined to attend Maskhadov's inauguration last month. --
Liz Fuller

... AND FATE OF MISSING JOURNALISTS. The three presidents
also discussed ways of securing the release of the four ITAR-
TASS and Radio Rossii journalists abducted in Chechnya on 4
March, one of whom, Nikolai Mamulashvili, is a citizen of
Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported. Chechen Vice President Vakha
Arsanov said on 14 March that securing the journalists'
release is "a matter of honor" for the Chechen leadership. --
Liz Fuller

CHILD KIDNAPPINGS IN MOSCOW. Last week, Moscow police freed
two children held hostage for ransom, Kommersant Daily
reported on 14 March. Police captured five Georgians who were
holding the 10-year-old son of a Georgian businessman, seized
on his way home from school on 14 February. Also last week an
8-year-old daughter of a businessmen who had been snatched in
Kharkiv (Ukraine) on 13 December was freed by police in
Moscow. The kidnappers were demanding $1 million and $1.5
million respectively. A third hostage-freeing operation ended
in a shoot-out on the banks of the river Moskva on 14 March,
ITAR-TASS reported. -- Peter Rutland

BUDGET REVENUE BELOW TARGET. During the first two months of
1997 the federal government collected 34.1 trillion rubles of
budgetary revenue, only 55% of the expected level, ITAR-TASS
and Segodnya reported on 14-15 March. Spending totaled 39.6
trillion rubles, or 50% of the projected level. The tax
arrears included 12 trillion rubles of VAT, 8.6 trillion
rubles of excise tax, and 5.3 trillion rubles profit tax. --
Natalia Gurushina

DUMA AMMENDS TAX LEGISLATION. The State Duma passed
amendments to the law on the Russian tax system, Kommersant-
Daily reported on 15 March. The changes increase commercial
banks' financial responsibility for transferring tax payments
to the budget by imposing higher fines for each day of delay.
Delay fines for taxpayers are now substantially reduced.
Organizations will now be considered as having paid their
taxes from the moment they submit payment documents to the
bank, provided they have enough money in their accounts. The
new law also bars retroactive tax increases. -- Natalia
Gurushina

SIDANKO OIL COMPANY UPDATE. Oneksimbank subsidiary Interros-
Oil has transferred its 34% share of the Sidanko oil company
to a Cyprus registered firm, Cantupun, in return for a bank
loan, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 March. Oneksimbank won the
shares in a loan auction in September 1996, in return for $20
million cash and a $60 million investment pledge. Interros-
Oil bought the state's 51% stake in Sidanko in an auction in
January 1997 for $130 million. Sidanko is Russia's fourth
largest oil company, pumping about 20 million metric tons of
crude (8% of Russia's total) in 1996. It has been
experiencing severe financial problems: its investment fell
by half last year. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA

SHEVARDNADZE COMMENTS ON INTERCEPTION OF TURKISH FISHING
VESSELS. The Turkish government demands the return of the
Turkish fishing vessel intercepted by Russian coast guards on
12 March for poaching in Georgian territorial waters,
Turkey's ambassador to Georgia told Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze on 14 March. Criminal proceedings have been
brought against the owner of the vessel, according to ITAR-
TASS. Shevardnadze expressed his regrets at the death of one
of the Turkish crew when the Russian coast guards opened
fire, adding that "the Georgian authorities have had serious
problems with Russian border guards working on Georgian
territory," according to Reuters quoting the Georgian
presidential press service. Also on 14 March, Shevardnadze
proposed to a session of Georgia's National Security Council
that "we should clarify relations with Russian border guards
once for all," and urged the Georgian parliament to pass a
related law that is currently under discussion, ITAR -TASS
reported. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN, AZERBAIJANI REACTION TO ARMENIAN ARMS DISCLOSURE.
The head of the Russian Army's General Staff, General Viktor
Samsonov, and the chairman of the Russian Duma's Defense
Committee, Lev Rokhlin, both told Russian TV (RTR) on 14
March that they thought Defense Minister Igor Rodionov had
acted "absolutely correctly" in confirming the allegations of
illicit Russian arms transfers to Armenia. Samsonov added
that the investigation into the allegations had been
conducted by the Presidential Main Control Department. Also
on 14 March, Azerbaijan's parliament appealed to Yeltsin and
to the Russian parliament to investigate the allegations,
punish those responsible, and ensure that the weaponry in
question is withdrawn from Armenia, ITAR-TASS reported.
Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov summoned foreign
ambassadors on 15 March and read a statement calling for an
international inspection of Armenia's military hardware under
the terms of the 1990 CFE Treaty, Turan reported. Responding
to U.S. Ambassador Richard Kauzlarich, Hasanov dismissed as
"an outrageous lie" Armenian claims that Azerbaijan had
received arms, including hundreds of tanks, since 1994.-- Liz
Fuller

SOLANA ENDS CENTRAL ASIAN TOUR. NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana visited Uzbekistan on 13-14 March, holding talks with
government officials, Western and Russian sources reported.
Solana focused on NATO's new Atlantic Partnership Council, an
extension of the Partnership for Peace program. Uzbek Foreign
Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov brought up Russia's concerns about
NATO expansion saying "without Russia, there can be no real
European security," but added that the decision on joining
any alliance is a "sovereign right of any state." Solana
moved on to Turkmenistan on 14 March. Confronted with
questions about NATO expansion or participation in a multi-
country military exercise scheduled for September in
Kazakstan, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov again
stressed Turkmenistan's neutrality and added "(NATO)
expansion westward or eastward doesn't worry us."
Turkmenistan will not send troops to the September military
exercise. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAK, KYRGYZ, UZBEK PRIME MINISTERS MEET. The Prime
Ministers of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan met in the
Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on 14 March, RFE/RL and Radio Mayak
reported. The three were seeking to broaden cooperation in
the Economic Union the three countries formed in 1994. At the
conclusion, 13 agreements were signed covering industrial
cooperation, a legal base for the free movement of labor
among the three countries, coordination on migration, and
others. The most important document was on the creation of a
common economic area during 1997-1998. The presidency of the
Economic Union shifted from Kazakstani Prime Minister Akezhan
Kazhegeldin to his Kyrgyz counterpart, Apas Jumagulov. --
Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

JOINT OPERATION CAPTURES TAJIK TERRORIST. Bahrom Sadirov,
whose group was responsible for taking 16 foreigners hostage
in February and 23 people hostage in December 1996, was
captured on 14 February, in a joint operation by forces of
the Tajik government and the Tajik opposition, Russian and
Western sources reported. Sadirov ransomed UN workers and
Russian journalists for the return of his brother from
Afghanistan. The action was notable for being the first
instance when government troops worked together with forces
loyal to the United Tajik Opposition. Sadirov's brother
Rezvon was not caught and his whereabouts are unknown. --
Bruce Pannier

UN OBSERVER-FORCE MANDATE IN TAJIKISTAN EXTENDED. The UN
Security Council voted on 14 March to extend the mandate of
its military observer mission in Tajikistan by another three
months, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. The council noted
great progress in the situation in Tajikistan, particularly
the military protocol signed in Moscow during the 28
February-8 March talks between representatives of the Tajik
government and the United Tajik Opposition. -- 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
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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

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

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