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OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 60, Part I, 26 March 1997


No. 60, Part I, 26 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 21 March issue of OMRI's journal TRANSITION**:

THE MIDDLE CLASS
- Economic Reform Casts a Long Shadow in Russia
- The Making of the Middle Classes
- Poland's Perpetually New Middle Class
- Some Russians Are Learning to Be Rich

PLUS...
- RUSSIA: The NATO Distraction (A discussion with Grigorii Yavlinksii)
- UKRAINE: Caution is the Key for Ukraine's Prime Minister
(a profile of Pavlo Lazarenko)
- CENTRAL EUROPE: Security Services Still Distrusted
- TAJIKISTAN: Defining the 'Third Force'

MEDIA NOTES: Journalists as Physical Pawns;
Political Moves at Russian TV

For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail
message to transition-DD@omri.cz

Note: Transition is not available electronically

**See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN VOICES CONCERN AHEAD OF NATIONAL PROTEST. President Boris
Yeltsin on 25 March ordered the government to do more to end wage delays
and to help people who lost their savings in shady investment schemes,
international agencies reported. Yeltsin ordered Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to submit a detailed personal report on the total size and
causes of wage debts on 26 March, the day before a trade union national
day of protest. Mindful of the violent unrest in Albania following the
collapse of pyramid investment schemes, he also instructed the
government to submit a draft law to parliament on improving investor
protection and to issue quarterly reports on progress in helping
defrauded savers. About 17 to 20 million Russians are thought to have
lost money in dubious investment schemes, about 1,000 of which are
operating in Russia, according to Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov. --
Penny Morvant

PROTEST PREPARATIONS CONTINUE. Mikhail Shmakov, chairman of the
Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), which is
organizing the 27 March day of action, said on 25 March that about 17
million people will take part in rallies and other protests. He appealed
to both workers and the authorities not to give in to acts of
provocation but warned that "some political forces are fostering fear
and hysteria around the forthcoming action and spreading rumors about
pogroms and massive clashes," ITAR-TASS reported. Claiming that the
protest has already yielded fruit, he noted the government's renewed
attention to repaying wage debts. In some areas, protests are already
occurring: pensioners in Samara, for example, picketed the oblast
legislature building on 25 March to protest the doubling of rents in
1997, while Nezavisimaya gazeta noted that last week the 21st paratroop
brigade, based in Stavropol, had refused to take part in manouvers in
protest at wage arrears. -- Penny Morvant

CHUBAIS ON THE NEW GOVERNMENT. Speaking to Russian Television (RTR) on
23 March, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais indignantly
denied his interviewer's suggestion that there is a now a "coalition
government" between centrists and radical reformers. Chubais objected in
principle to the idea of making concessions to political parties to
attract people into the government, saying this was a luxury which may
come in three to five years time. He equivocated over the government's
relations with the leaders of the utility monopolies, in one breath
saying "we must work with them," in the next threatening to fire them if
they do not cooperate. He praised new Deputy Prime Minister Alfred Kokh
as such a "strong, professional" man that he will boost budget revenue
to 15 trillion rubles a month, while without him it would have been 5
trillion. -- Peter Rutland

YAVLINSKII ON GOVERNMENT, PROTESTS. Despite repeated attempts to lure
State Duma deputies from his Yabloko movement into the government,
Grigorii Yavlinskii said Yabloko members will not accept any cabinet
posts, as "we are not at all convinced" that the government will adopt
the social and economic policies Russia needs, ITAR-TASS and Radio
Rossii reported on 25 March. However, Yavlinskii characterized the
appointment of First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov as the best
personnel decision of late and promised to support Nemtsov "personally
and professionally." He added that Yabloko will support the nationwide
protest action planned for 27 March. -- Laura Belin

CHECHEN ROUNDUP. A spokesman for the Russian Federal Security Service on
25 March dismissed claims by Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov that
groups in Russia intent on sabotaging the ongoing Russian-Chechen talks
were recruiting renegade Chechens to perpetrate terrorist acts in
Russian cities, ITAR-TASS reported. He attributed such claims to the
inability of the Chechen leadership to control former fighters. Also on
25 March, ITAR-TASS reported that a meeting of Chechen field commanders
held two days earlier had demanded that the Russian leadership extradite
to Chechnya 70 persons considered traitors to the Chechen people,
including pro-Moscow former President Doku Zavgaev and several of his
aides. -- Liz Fuller

KIDNAPPED RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS IN CHECHNYA ALIVE. A photograph of the
ITAR-TASS correspondent and three Radio Rossii journalists who were
kidnapped in Chechnya in early March was delivered to the ITAR-TASS
bureau in Grozny, the agency reported on 25 March. The four journalists
signed appeals for help in a note attached to the photograph, which was
dated 24 March. Kommersant-Daily reported on 26 March that the
kidnappers have demanded a large ransom for the journalists. Two Russian
Public TV (ORT) reporters were released in February after being held
hostage for a month; although network officials denied paying any
ransom, unofficial reports suggested up to $1 million had been paid to
the kidnappers. The whereabouts of Italian photographer Mauro Galligani,
who disappeared in Grozny in February, remain unknown. -- Laura Belin

WARM WORDS FOR ASIAN PARTNERS. President Boris Yeltsin met in Moscow
with visiting Indian Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and Chinese Foreign
Minister Qian Qichen on 25 March, AFP reported. The Indian prime
minister said after his meeting that the deal to buy two nuclear
reactors from Russia had been "finalized," Reuters reported, although
Russian spokesmen merely said that progress had been made (See OMRI
Daily Digest, 25 March 1997). After meeting with Qian, Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov said: "We share a point of view on the post-Cold War
world order. We believe this consists in creating a multi-polar world."
Russia regards NATO expansion as a bid to project U.S. power into areas
formerly under Moscow's sphere of influence. RTR praised India as "a
long-standing and serious partner who has never caved in to Washington."
-- Peter Rutland

RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE DEADLOCKED. Russian government spokesman Igor
Shabdurasulov told journalists on 25 March that "a visit to Kyiv by
Viktor Chernomyrdin, to end with the final solution of the Black Sea
fleet problem, is a condition for the Ukrainian visit of Russian
President Boris Yeltsin," ITAR-TASS reported. The same day Ukrainian
First Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Buteiko said in Kyiv that Ukraine
saw no reason for delaying the signing of a Russo-Ukrainian friendship
treaty, and that agreement on temporary basing of Russian units on
Ukrainian territory could be reached after the treaty was signed. Also
on 25 March a Russian Navy spokesman condemned as "anti-Russian" and
"provocative" the "Sea Breeze" naval exercise planned for this summer,
AFP reported. The exercise will involve ships from Ukraine, the U.S.,
and eight other countries. -- Peter Rutland

MOSCOW RESPONDS TO MINSK MEDIA CRACKDOWN. Presidential spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii held a press conference on 25 March to discuss the
Belarusian government's imposition on 23 March of restrictions on
Russian television journalists, Reuters reported. "The very fact that
Russian television channels have been denied the right to send
information materials from Minsk prompts deep concern in the Kremlin,"
Yastrzembskii said. At the same time he called upon Russian journalists
"to preserve the rules of objectivity and lack of bias." It is the first
time Moscow has criticized attempts by Minsk to censor Russian
journalists, whose coverage of Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka is far more hostile than coverage found in the Belarusian
media. NTV correspondent Aleksandr Stupnikov, who was recently stripped
of his accreditation by the Belarusian authorities, reported on 25 March
that a videotape was confiscated from him at the Belarus-Lithuania
border. -- Peter Rutland and Laura Belin

SUPREME COURT RULES DUMA BAN ON ORT CORRESPONDENTS INVALID. The Supreme
Court on 25 March instructed the State Duma to reverse its decision to
revoke the accreditation of Russian Public TV (ORT) correspondents for
one month, Russian media reported. Duma deputies revoked ORT's
accreditation on the grounds that the network's coverage of the Duma is
consistently biased. In particular, deputies were upset by a 20 February
report on a parliamentary debate over a pornography law. ORT is
informally known as "the president's television," and its reporting
frequently puts a negative spin on the Duma's activities. However,
lawyer Genri Reznik, who argued the case on behalf of the network and
its journalists, said it was not for the court to decide whether ORT's
coverage was "objective," but merely to determine whether the Duma had
unlawfully hindered journalists from performing their professional
duties, according to the 26 March Kommersant-Daily. -- Laura Belin

IMPORT OF DOLLARS TO RUSSIA. Since 1993, when Central Bank monitoring
began, hard currency with a total value of $84 billion has been imported
into Russia, Central Bank official Yelena Ishchenko told a conference in
Moscow on "Hard currency control" on 25 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Of
that amount, $63.7 billion were net sales to individuals. The bank
estimates that tourists and shuttle traders have exported some $31
billion in cash, meaning that there is roughly $33 billion in
circulation among the population. This would account for more than half
the Russian money supply, since there are some 125 trillion rubles in
circulation, worth $22 billion. -- Peter Rutland

BANKS' CREDIT GUARANTEES WITHDRAWN. The Finance Ministry has announced
it will stop providing guarantees for commercial banks' credits to
budgetary organizations, Kommersant-Daily reported on 26 March. The
ministry began issuing such guarantees two years ago as a substitute for
direct budgetary financing and they now top 40 trillion rubles ($7
billion). A substantial proportion of the guarantees was in the form of
promissory notes (vekselya), and stopping their issue can minimize the
influence of this destabilizing factor on the Russian financial system.
Yet, the measure may ruin many budgetary firms and organizations which
are unlikely to find an alternative source of financing. The ministry
also intends to discontinue the mutual clearance of debts between
companies. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA TO RECEIVE NEW IMF LOAN. The IMF will grant Georgia a second
annual loan of $76 million, to be disbursed in two tranches, ITAR-TASS
reported on 26 March. IMF specialists noted Georgia's success over the
past two years in economic stabilization, specifically the reduction of
inflation, and in structural reform. Among the IMF targets set for
Georgia for 1997 are an 8-10% increase in GDP and bringing inflation
down from the present 14% to 10-12%. -- Liz Fuller

NEW ARMENIAN PREMIER HOLDS FIRST NEWS CONFERENCE. Robert Kocharyan said
his appointment, which surprised himself as well as others, may bring a
new impetus to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks, international agencies
reported on 25 March. Kocharyan said that Armenia has no new proposals
regarding the settlement of the conflict as its "old ones have not been
realized yet." Kocharyan, former Nagorno-Karabakh president, dismissed
Azerbaijan's criticism that his appointment runs counter to
international norms, saying that "whatever happens in Armenia and
Karabakh Azerbaijan always sees as a problem." Formally a citizen of the
self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Kocharyan said he will
retain this citizenship. -- Emil Danielyan

WHO WILL BE AZERBAIJAN'S NEXT PRESIDENT? Less than one- third of 500
people polled in Azerbaijan are prepared to vote for incumbent Heidar
Aliev in next year's presidential election, although more than two-
thirds believe he will be reelected, according to 7 Gun of 21 March as
summarized by the Tacis-funded Transcaucasia Media Project. Deposed
former President Abulfaz Elchibey, the chairman of the Popular Front
Party, and Lala-Shovket Gadjieva, the leader of the Liberal Party, each
rated 12.2%. Rasul Guliev, the disgraced former parliament chairman, Isa
Gambar, former parliament speaker under Elchibey and current chairman of
the Musavat Party, Zardusht Alizade, leader of the Social Democratic
Party, and Etibar Mamedov, the chairman of the National Independence
Party of Azerbaijan, each rated 3-4%. -- Liz Fuller

THE SECURITY OF KAZAKSTAN'S BORDERS. The secretary of Kazakstan's
Security Council, Beksultan Sarsekov, on 25 March expressed his
country's concern about events along the borders with China and Russia,
Reuters reported. In the first official reaction to the February clashes
between Uyghurs and Chinese in neighboring Xinjiang Province, Sarsekov
told a press conference in Almaty "we are concerned by events" and by
the "harsh measures" used by the Chinese against the Uyghurs. However,
Kazakstan signed a treaty with China in 1996 in which both sides
promised not to help separatist movements in the other's country and
Sarsekov said Kazakstan has nothing to do with the problems in China.
Addressing the issue of the Kazak-Russian border, he criticized the use
of Cossack formations to guard the border, which Sarsekov said was at
odds with the Kazak-Russian border agreement, especially as "these
Cossacks received uniforms and weapons (from Russia). -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZ JOURNALIST ARRESTED AGAIN. Authorities in Bishkek have taken
Ryspek Omurzakov, a journalist from the Kyrgyz weekly Res Publica, into
custody, RFE/RL reported. Omurzakov was summoned to the Lenin District
prosecutor's office on 24 March and failed to return home. RFE/RL
correspondents subsequently learned Omurzakov was being detained by the
authorities, who have the right to hold him for 72 hours without filing
a charge. In July 1996 Omurzakov was given a two-year suspended sentence
for insulting the president. On 14 January Omurzakov published an
article in Res Publica criticizing the director of the Frunze Machine
building factory, Mikhail Paryshkura, for poor conditions in the
factory's hostel. Paryshkura filed libel charges on 7 February but
promised to withdraw the suit after meeting with Omurzakov, who showed
the director a complaint signed by 108 employees of the factory.
Paryshkura did not drop the suit as promised, leading to Omurzakov's
detention. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

[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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