Нашему остроумию, как кажтся, более свойственны быстрота и внезапность, тогда как уму - основательность и медлительность. - М. Монтень

OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 61, Part I, 27 March 1997

No. 61, Part I, 27 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**:

- 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

- 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


FINAL GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS. After meeting with President Boris
Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and First Deputy Prime
Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov announced the final
government appointments at a joint 26 March press conference, Russian
media reported. Former Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin is now minister
without portfolio and will cover economic strategy questions. Aleksei
Kudrin, formerly head of the main control department of the presidential
administration, was appointed first deputy finance minister. Aleksandr
Krupnov was appointed head of the State Committee on Information.
Minister for CIS Affairs Aman Tuleev, Fuela and Energy Minister Petr
Rodionov, and Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan all retained their posts.
Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov was removed: his
ministry will temporarily be headed by former first deputy minister
Mikhail Fradkov. -- Laura Belin

STRUCTURE OF NEW GOVERNMENT. The "streamlined" government will consist
of 68 positions: two first deputy prime ministers, six deputy prime
ministers, 23 ministries (three of them headed by deputy premiers), 16
state committees, and 20 other federal agencies. According to ITAR-TASS,
the responsibilities of the deputy prime ministers will be as follows:
Anatolii Chubais -- economic reform, financial policy, relations with
the media; Boris Nemtsov -- social and housing reform, anti-monopoly
policy; Oleg Sysuev -- social policy, pensions, labor; Vladimir Bulgak
-- science, technology, and transport; Alfred Kokh -- tax and customs
policy, alcohol, foreign trade, privatization; Yakov Urinson -- economic
policy, industry, agriculture; Anatolii Kulikov -- law and order,
economic security; and Valerii Serov -- nationalities, regional policy,
relations with CIS. Kulikov will continue to monitor the daily
operations of the State Tax Service and State Customs Committee,
although Kokh will supervise the policy of the those agencies. Two
ministries (industry and defense industry) and two state committees
(forestry  and fishing) were abolished. The heads of the ministry of
foreign trade and three anti-monopoly agencies remain to be appointed.
None of the appointments seem to have been made at the suggestion of
Boris Nemtsov. -- Peter Rutland

AUTHORITIES PREPARE FOR STRIKE. The federal authorities on 26 March
sought to demonstrate that they were taking action to pay off wage and
pension arrears on the eve of a national strike to protest the 50
trillion rubles ($9 billion) that strike organizers claim are owed to
the population. Chernomyrdin claimed that the government will pay 11.8
trillion rubles ($2 billion) in back wages and pensions in March. He
also announced that during the first three months of the year the
government had more than halved the amount of the money owed to the
country's soldiers, Kommersant-Daily  reported. He rejected "emotion and
provocation," arguing that demonstrations will not solve the problems,
Reuters reported. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said he expects
about 7 million protesters nationwide, much lower than the 20 million
figure cited by strike organizers, Ekho Moskvy reported. Interior
Ministry troops are ready for operations in 650 Russian cities,
according to Kulikov. -- Robert Orttung

STRIKE BEGINS IN THE FAR EAST. The nationwide strike organized by the
Federation of Independent Trade Unions under the banner "For work,
justice, and social guarantees" began on 27 March in the Far East with
as many as 150,000 protesters in Primorskii Krai and 90,000 in
Khabarovsk, ITAR-TASS reported. Traffic in downtown Vladivostok came to
a standstill by 10 a.m. Most  miners in the region reported for work to
prevent a further worsening in the krai's energy situation. Members of
the Sakha (Yakutiya) government  talked to pickets in front of the
republican administration building. Yeltsin is spending the day in his
suburban Gorki-9 residence. -- Robert Orttung

BIG CITIES PREPARE FOR STRIKE. Authorities expect about 160,000
demonstrators in Moscow and 100,000 in St. Petersburg, Ekho Moskvy
reported. 8,000 policemen and trade union volunteers will maintain order
in the capital, ITAR-TASS reported. Moscow police spokesman Vladimir
Vershkov said that armored personnel carriers were not going to be used
during the protests. He was responding to questions about reports of
such vehicles being sighted on the edge of the city. -- Robert Orttung

protest actions, Yeltsin issued an appeal to the Russian armed forces,
promising that military reform would begin soon and pledging to improve
living conditions for soldiers and officers, ITAR-TASS reported.
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 25 March published an analysis of a recent
incident involving a paratroop unit in Stavropol Krai which refused to
go on maneuvers unless back wages were paid. Although the troops later
agreed to follow orders, the paper said the incident showed that "Russia
could witness a repetition of the Albanian revolt." -- Scott Parrish

Yeltsin rejected criticism that he had been "insufficiently tough" at
his recent meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Helsinki,
international agencies reported. Yeltsin argued that taking a harsher
stance on the issue of NATO expansion would have isolated Russia and
decreased its security. He cited progress on a "strictly binding" NATO-
Russia charter and NATO pledges not to station nuclear weapons or
additional troops in new member states as evidence that his stance had
minimized the effects of NATO enlargement. Yeltsin said Russia should
seek economic cooperation with the West, not confrontation, adding that
the summit's results meant that Russia will become a full member of the
G-7 this June, and soon join the Paris Club. He emphasized, however,
that Russia would continue building ties with other parts of the world,
including China, India, and the CIS. -- Scott Parrish

Supreme Court ruled that the State Duma unlawfully revoked the
accreditation of journalists for Russian Public TV (ORT), officials in
the lower house of parliament resisted admitting the network's
correspondents, ORT reported on 26 March. The Duma's press service said
it had not yet received a written copy of the court decision, and that
the ban on ORT journalists would remain in force while Duma
representatives decided whether to appeal to the Supreme Court's
presidium. However, court judges indicated that the implementation of
their decision could not be delayed pending an appeal, according to the
27 March Kommersant-Daily. The journalists were finally admitted on
orders from Duma Deputy Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin (Our Home Is Russia),
who is filling in while Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev is away from
Moscow. -- Laura Belin

cosmodrome at Kapustin Yar in the Volgograd Oblast which has not been
used for launches since 1988, Reuters reported on 25 March, citing a
Russian rocket-manufacturing firm official. He said that the first
launch, which will carry a German astronomical satellite, is slated for
February 1999. At the same time, a spokesperson for the Military Space
Forces said that the cosmodrome cannot be used for commercial launches
since it is located near densely populated areas. Russia recently ran
into trouble when it began using the new Svobodnyi cosmodrome in the Far
East. The government of Yakutia and local ecologists argue that
discarded parts of booster rockets are damaging the environment. --
Natalia Gurushina

the eve of the nationwide day of protests, President Boris Yeltsin
signed a decree which prohibits foreign car purchases by state
organizations, Kommersant-Daily reported on 27 March, a policy change
suggested by new First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. The decree
ordered state organizations to sell the foreign cars they already own
and use the proceeds to buy Russian ones. -- Natalia Gurushina

GKO MARKET EXPANDS. The volume of state short-term securities (GKOs)
reached 248.4 trillion rubles ($43 billion) by the end of January 1997,
Delovoi ekspress reported in number 11. In 1996, the state domestic debt
increased to 10.4% of GDP, compared to 1.7% in 1995, and experts predict
a further 6% increase by the end of 1997. Average annual GKO yields have
now dropped to 30%. The government intends to bring them down further to
16-19% by the end of 1997. According to Delovoi mir on 13 February,
foreign investment in GKOs now tops $6.5 billion. Of that, some $1.1
billion were invested in January 1997. -- Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA PONDERS PARIS CLUB MEMBERSHIP. One of the carrots offered to
Yeltsin in Helsinki was membership in the Paris Club of government
creditors. Russia owes other countries about $130 billion (of which $110
billion are the USSR's debts, which Russia assumed).  In turn Russia
itself is owed about $132 billion by Soviet-era borrowers, such as
Vietnam, Ethiopia, Yemen, Cuba, and Iraq, who are only able to repay a
total of $1-2 billion a year. Last April Russia reached agreement over
rescheduling the $38 billion it owes to Paris Club members: the coast is
now clear for Russia to join as a creditor. However, Deputy Finance
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told Reuters on 25 March that Russia will have
to carefully consider whether to join the club, since it would then have
to offer the same terms to debtors as do other club members. Russia may
think it can strike a better deal with some of those countries - such as
Iraq, whose $7 billion debt to Russia could be repaid from future oil
exports. -- Peter Rutland


ARMENIA TO FREE ALL AZERBAIJANI POWs. The Armenian Foreign Ministry on
25 March issued a statement saying Yerevan will unilaterally free all
Azerbaijani prisoners of war held on its territory in order to create a
favorable atmosphere for the upcoming meeting between the Armenian and
Azerbaijani presidents in Moscow, international agencies reported. The
statement said the move is a gesture of goodwill and a manifestation of
Yerevan's "constructive position" at the OSCE-sponsored negotiations on
resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to the statement,
Armenian authorities are in touch with Red Cross representatives to
organize the return of the unspecified number of prisoners. In related
news, Yurii Yukalov, the Russian representative to the Minsk group, told
Turan on 25 March that the OSCE-sponsored talks on Nagorno-Karabakh will
resume on 1 April in Moscow. -- Emil Danielyan

MORE DEMONSTRATIONS IN KAZAKSTAN. The coordinating council of opposition
movements and trade unions in Kazakstan, Respublica, has called on all
the country's citizens to join with those of neighboring Russia and
participate in mass protests on 27 March, RFE/RL reported the previous
day. The demonstration would be the second in less than a week; miners
from the Kentau area marched on the Kazakstani capital on 23 March but
were stopped about 15 kilometers from Almaty. General Procurator Stepan
Shutkin, in a statement carried by mass media, warned that such protests
are illegal and those participating them should be treated as criminals.
Payments to some citizens are more than half a year in arrears. In
related news, AFP on 26 March carried a story originally run in the
weekly Kazak Express K concerning a former worker who retired because of
health reasons more than one year ago. He had not been receiving pension
payments but was sent a coffin as compensation. -- Bruce Pannier

HOUSING LOANS FOR UZBEK CITIZENS. Uzbek President Islam Karimov issued a
decree on 26 March on long-term credit for individual housing, ITAR-TASS
and RFE/RL reported. The credit will be issued against housing bonds
which will be made available by the government in the near future. The
state will repay 50% of construction costs and the credit will be
repayable over a 10-year period at 20% interest annually. -- Bruce

session of the Kyrgyz parliament President Askar Akayev noted
improvements in the national economy during 1996, RFE/RL reported on 26
March. Akayev said GNP had increased by 5.6%, industrial output by
10.8%, and agricultural output by 13.1%. Akayev said the country's goals
for 1997 would be to reduce the trade deficit: in 1996 Kyrgyzstan
imported 1.7 times more than it exported. Another goal is to bring
inflation down to 17% and cut unemployment, which according to
government figures is running at 20%. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

with fighters from the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) are rounding up the
remnants of the Sadirov brothers' gang still led by Rezvon Sadirov,
Reuters reported on 25 March. Gafur Mirzoyev, the commander of the
presidential guards, said so far eight outlaws had been killed in the
fighting and five more had been captured in the battle, about 80
kilometers east of Dushanbe. The government and UTO forces have each
lost three. The Sadirov brothers and their followers were responsible
for two hostage-taking incidents, one in December, the other in February
and involving UN employees. Mirzoyev said he expects the operation will
be concluded within 48 hours. -- 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.

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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