Standing, as I do, in the view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone. - Edith Cavell 1865-1915 (Spoken to the chaplain who attended her before her execution by firing squad, 12 Oct. 1915.)

OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 62, Part I, 28 March 1997

No. 62, Part I, 28 March 1997

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In the 4 April issue of OMRI's journal TRANSITION**:

- Back in Europe, to Stay
- Economies Show Solid Performance Despite Many Obstacles
- Poland and Lithuania Look Toward a Common Future
- 'Our Problems Are Europe's Problems'
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- Political Stability Through Disenfranchisement
- Conflicting Claims to Victimhood in Lithuania

- RUSSIA: The Oligarchs in Charge of 'Russia, Inc.'
- RUSSIA: Slow Progress on Abolition of the Death Penalty
- UKRAINE: Rival Clans Mix Business, Politics, and Murder
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- POLAND: Harmonizing the Discordant Right

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WORKERS STAGE PROTESTS . . . Workers took part in strikes and
demonstrations on 27 March in a national day of protest against delayed
wages, international agencies reported. RIA quoted the Interior Ministry
as saying 1.8 million people took part in 1,300 protests, which were
coordinated by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR); ITAR-
TASS, also citing the police, put turnout at 1.22 million in 984 rallies
in 73 regions. The biggest rallies were reportedly in Moscow, St.
Petersburg, and Kemerovo. FNPR Chairman Mikhail Shmakov, however, told
TASS on 28 March that 21 million people had participated, of whom 5.1
million stopped work at least temporarily. Whatever the true number of
participants, the protest was clearly larger than a similar day of
action held last November. Slogans demanding the resignation of
President Boris Yeltsin and the government were in evidence at many of
the rallies, accompanied by red flags and portraits of Lenin, but the
demonstrations passed off peacefully, and many reporters described the
dominant mood as one of resignation. -- Penny Morvant

. . . POLITICIANS RESPOND. President Yeltsin signed a decree on 27 March
requiring the government and the presidential Control Administration to
submit material to the Temporary Extraordinary Commission by 30 April on
the misuse of federal budget funds earmarked to pay wages, ITAR-TASS
reported. Wage arrears totaling some 50 trillion rubles were the main
grievance of workers participating in the union day of action. Speaking
at the first meeting of the new government, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin stressed its efforts to reduce the budget wage debt and
promised to work more closely with the unions. Communist leader Gennadii
Zyuganov described the protest as a no-confidence vote in the new
cabinet, contending, "Changes in the government have convinced no one,"
Reuters reported. Aleksandr Lebed attributed the protest to the poverty
in the country, saying: "One gets the impression that it has been
decided that a third of the population are to be killed off." -- Penny

dominated Russian news coverage on 27 March, but most news agencies and
electronic media outlets emphasized that dissatisfied citizens turned
out in lower numbers than had been expected and made primarily economic
rather than political demands. The three major television networks all
noted that the number of demonstrators nationwide was closer to 1
million than to the 20 million that opposition leaders had predicted.
They also reported that extreme political demands found little support
among the protesters. For instance, state-controlled Russian Public TV
(ORT) noted that just a few hundred supporters turned out to rallies
organized by Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and
Viktor Anpilov, leader of the radical communist movement Workers'
Russia. -- Laura Belin

the government instructed Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Vasilev to
draft a plan to promote more effective corporate management in
privatized enterprises, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Minister without
Portfolio Yevgenii Yasin argued that lack of clarity in accounting
procedures and in defining managers' duties was deterring investors.
"Companies which infringe shareholders' rights will not get government
support," Vasilev said. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais
said: "Those firms which do not follow basic reform parameters must be
cut off from all sources of budget funding," Kommersant-Daily reported.
One of the perks will be that progressive companies will be given
ownership of the land on which they are located. To date only 1,264
firms have been allowed to buy their own site. -- Peter Rutland

with Moskovskii komsomolets, presidential foreign policy aide Dmitrii
Ryurikov said that as part of its proposed charter with NATO, Russia
wants a veto over NATO decisions with which it disagrees. He said Moscow
does not accept U.S. President Bill Clinton's statement after the
Helsinki summit that the charter will give Russia a voice, but not a
veto. Ryurikov asserted that President Yeltsin "acts on the assumption
that if our country has a voice, it will have the right to block
decisions that are unacceptable to it," adding that "otherwise, there is
no sense in having a voice." Ryurikov concluded that it was important to
make sure that any agreement with NATO "precludes ambiguous
interpretations." His comments suggest that the negotiations on the
proposed charter will prove arduous, as its specifics remain
contentious. -- Scott Parrish

CIS LEADERS MEET. The heads of government of the 12 CIS countries met in
Moscow on 27 March: the heads of state meet on 28 March. The ostensible
aim of the meeting is to promote economic integration. However, despite
the signing of 700 inter-governmental agreements and the creation of 80
supranational CIS organs, coordination of economic policies remains weak
to non-existent, while political rifts continue to grow. The Ukrainian
and Azerbaijani presidents met earlier this week and issued statements
affirming that the CIS must be a union of equals. Andranik Migranyan, a
Yeltsin adviser, accused the other CIS members of "consolidating power
on an anti-Russian basis," AFP reported. "If they develop alternative
economic and military unions Russia will be unable to maintain its
territorial integrity, because they will serve as an example for
Russia's regions," he said. Like OMRI, the CIS seems to have outlived
its usefulness as a temporary organization bridging the transition from
socialism to capitalism. -- Peter Rutland

for the 28 March summit, the CIS councils of foreign and defense
ministers met in Moscow on 27 March, Russian media reported. The foreign
ministers discussed the future of the predominantly Russian CIS
peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan and Abkhazia. They recommended that
the CIS heads of state extend the mandate of the peacekeepers in
Tajikistan until the end of 1997, and broaden the mandate of those in
Abkhazia. Georgia had earlier said it would demand the peacekeepers'
withdrawal unless their mandate was broadened to include police powers.
Citing the "immense quantity" of CIS interstate organizations that have
been created since 1991, many of which are duplicative and wasteful, the
session imposed a moratorium on creating new ones. -- Scott Parrish

HEAD. Meanwhile, CIS defense ministers continued discussing a Russian
proposal to reinstate Army General Viktor Samsonov as head of the CIS
military cooperation staff, Russian media reported. Despite earlier
reports suggesting that the January session of the council had approved
his nomination (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 January 1997), it apparently
has not been finalized. Samsonov resigned from the post in October 1996
when he was appointed chief of the Russian general staff. After the non-
Russian members of the CIS rejected Yeltsin's suggested replacement for
Samsonov, Moscow suggested that he could head both the Russian general
staff and the CIS cooperation staff. Reflecting the tenuous nature of
CIS military cooperation, only nine of the 12 CIS states attended the
meeting. Moldova was absent, while Ukraine and Turkmenistan attended
only as observers. -- Scott Parrish

NEMTSOV BACK IN NIZHNII NOVGOROD. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov went to the Volga region for his first official business trip
and addressed the trade union protest rally in his native city of
Nizhnii Novgorod with a promise to solve all acute social problems
facing the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 March. Nemtsov said he
plans to support Russian producers, reduce tariffs for electricity and
transport as part of the reform of natural monopolies, narrow the gap
between rich and poor, and fight corruption. According to a Public
Opinion Foundation poll cited by ITAR-TASS, 52% of Russia's urban
population approve of Nemtsov's being appointed to the government, with
only 12% expressing disapproval. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

Moscow city court overturned the October 1995 conviction of journalist
Vadim Poegli, who was accused of insulting the honor and dignity of then
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Russian media reported on 27 March. In
October 1994, Poegli published an article on corruption in the military
in the popular newspaper Moskovskii komsomolets, under the title "Pasha
Mercedes: A Thief Should Be In Prison, Not Defense Minister." Rather
than bringing a civil suit against Poegli, Grachev sought a criminal
conviction, and the journalist was sentenced to one year of corrective
labor, although he was amnestied before having to serve his sentence
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 October 1995). -- Laura Belin

ANTONOV PLANES GROUNDED AFTER CRASH. Following the crash of an Antonov
An-24 in the Caucasus on 18 March in which some 50 people were killed,
the Russian Federal Aviation Service (FAS) decided to suspend the
domestic use of all airplanes of this type, Izvestiya reported on 28
March. All An-24s will now be subject to a technical inspection. An-24s
form the core of the Russian passenger fleet, servicing 40% of all
passenger traffic in Russia. The An-24 is also one of the oldest Russian
passenger carriers; manufacture began in 1962 and continued until the
end of the 1970s. The ban can be lifted only when An-24s get another
technical certificate. -- Natalia Gurushina

OIL JOINT VENTURES IN RUSSIA IN 1996. There are some 40 joint ventures
with the participation of foreign capital operating in the Russian oil
industry, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 27 March. The bulk of them
(73%) are extracting companies, and the rest render technical and other
services. About half the oil joint ventures operate in Western Siberia,
while the remaining firms work deposits in the Caucasus, Far East, and
Eastern Siberia. In 1996, joint ventures extracted 22 million metric
tons of oil, or 7.7% of Russia's total oil output (compared to 6.5% in
1995). Joint ventures accounted for 12.5% (12 million metric tons) of
Russian oil exports. -- Natalia Gurushina


HUSEINOV EXTRADITED TO BAKU. Former Azerbaijani Prime Minister Suret
Huseinov, who staged the June 1993 coup that resulted in Heidar Aliev's
return to power in Baku, was arrested near Tula on 20 March by Russian
and Azerbaijani Interior Ministry officials and extradited to Baku on 27
March, Russian and Western agencies reported. Huseinov faces charges of
treason and armed rebellion in connection with a so-called coup attempt
in October 1994, following which he fled to Moscow, and an alleged plot
to assassinate Aliev in December 1996. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN COOPERATION. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan
and Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin met in Moscow on the
eve the CIS summit, Russian media reported on 27 March. Rybkin called
for a "renewed" comprehensive treaty between the two countries that
should also include a "military component." According to Ter-Petrossyan,
Russia is Yerevan's "main strategic partner," and the parliaments of
both countries will soon ratify the treaty on a Russian military base in
Armenia. Meanwhile, during his one-day visit to France, Azerbaijani
President Heidar Aliev said there is no need for the Russian military
presence in Armenia and Georgia, Reuters reported on 27 March. "I don't
think it's right and I even protest against that," he added. -- Emil

head of Interpol in Kazakstan, said on 27 March that up to 100 kilograms
of raw opium pass through the Central Asian country every month on the
way to markets in Europe, Reuters reported. Karikbolov also said that
besides being a transit route for opium from Afghanistan and Pakistan,
Kazakstan produces a large amount of marijuana and hashish and there has
been a noticeable increase in the amount of ephedrine in circulation. In
1996, 16 tons of narcotics were confiscated but it is estimated that
that represents only 7% of the total which made its way through the
country. Karikbolov said there are 20,000 registered drug addicts in
Kazakstan but that the real figure of addicts was likely five to 10
times higher. -- Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

Kazakstan's electrical grid has been won by the British National Grid
Company, AFP reported on 27 March. The company plans to spend $1 billion
on Kazakstan's system over the next 10 years to construct new power
lines, install new meters and create an integrated, automated control
and accounting system. The operational center will be located at Akmola,
the future capital. Deputy Finance Minister Zhannat Yertlesova said on
26 March: "I have no problem with foreign ownership. The main thing is
there is an owner," Reuters reported on 27 March. -- Bruce Pannier

Saparmurat Niyazov said the CIS role as a forum for bilateral and
multilateral cooperation was useful but added that there was no need for
the establishment of supranational structures, ITAR-TASS reported on 26
March. Niyazov said "maximum use" should be made of those structures
"which represent the CIS," but that no attempt should be made to "step
up any processes artificially." According to Niyazov the present
formation of the CIS allowed each country to participate and "find (its)
own forms of partnership." -- 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:


            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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