Prezirat' sud lyudej netrudno, prezirat' sud sobstvennyj nevozmozhno. - A.S. Pushkin

No. 152, Part I, 7 August 1995

We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. This part focuses on Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and
the CIS. Part II, distributed simultaneously as a second document,
covers East-Central and Southeastern Europe.  Back issues of the Daily
Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW


PRISONER EXCHANGE DELAYED IN GROZNY. A scheduled exchange of Russian and
Chechen prisoners on 5 August was delayed, Russian and Western agencies
reported. In accordance with the 30 July military agreement, Chechen
military officials had promised to exchange several Russian prisoners
for 30 Chechens but did not do so. The prisoner exchange issue threatens
to block further progress in negotiations to end the Chechen conflict.
General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, said
on 5 August that negotiations could continue only after the Chechen side
had submitted a full list of its Russian prisoners. However, Aslan
Maskhadov, the Chechen military chief of staff, told journalists that
compiling such a list would be difficult because the Chechen forces are
fragmented. A joint Russian-Chechen team left Grozny on 4 August to
search remote Chechen positions for Russian prisoners. Despite the
slowdown in prisoner exchange, Russian military sources reported a
decrease in fighting in the republic over the weekend. -- Scott Parrish,
OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA CONDEMNS CROATIAN OFFENSIVE. A statement issued by the Russian
Foreign Ministry on 5 August harshly condemned the recent Croatian
military offensive against Serb-held areas of Croatia, ITAR-TASS
reported. The statement complained that "Zagreb's preparations did not
receive the proper assessment," and that Russian warnings about Croatian
intentions had gone "unheard." It added that Russia would insist that
the UN Security Council adopt a "strict and unbiased response." Vladimir
Zhirinovskii, leader of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, criticized
the government response as insufficient, telling journalists on 5 August
that "if Russia had another president, the Russian army would already be
in there and no one would be able to touch the Serbs." Duma deputy
Vladimir Averchev, of the Yabloko faction, said Russia had no moral
standing to criticize Croatia because Russian actions in Chechnya are
similar to the Croatian offensive against ethnic Serb separatists. --
Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

Front (FNS) announced that it will participate in the parliamentary
elections under new leadership, Russian TV reported on 5 August. Valerii
Smirnov is now the acting chairman of the Political Council in place of
the former leader Ilya Konstantinov. The FNS's three main program points
are restoring the Soviet Union, ending the privatization program, and
removing the institution of the presidency, NTV reported. Yeltsin banned
the front from participating in the 1993 elections after its members
clashed with pro-Yeltsin troops in the fighting around the Russian White
House in October 1993. The Front believes that the Duma does not have
the power to change government policy but that the campaign will be
useful for uniting opposition groups. Like the previous leadership,
Smirnov does not exclude the use of force in the battle for power. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

Farid Mukhamedshin announced that his republic has stopped payments to
the federal budget, Russian Public TV reported on 6 August. Since 5
August, Tatarstan has redirected the money it would normally reserve for
the federal budget to local defense workers who are owed past wages.
Once the debts are paid off within a month, Tatarstan will resume its
payments to the federal government. There has been no official reaction
from Moscow. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

the gubernatorial elections in Sverdlovsk Oblast indicate that no
candidate will receive more than 50% of the vote and a runoff will
consequently be required, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 August. Approximately
40% of voters participated in the elections, well above the required 25%
turnout for the elections to be valid. Incomplete vote counts suggest
that Eduard Rossel, the chairman of the Sverdlovsk Duma who lobbied for
permission to hold direct gubernatorial elections in the region, leads
the field. Regional administrative head Aleksei Strakhov, a leader of
the Sverdlovsk regional branch of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's
bloc, Our Home Is Russia, is in second place, despite having nearly
three times as much money to spend on the campaign as Rossel (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 4 August 1995). A date for the runoff has not been set. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

Union picketed the headquarters of the Procurator General's Office to
protest the sentencing of former KGB officer Viktor Orekhov to three
years in prison, Ekho Moskvy reported on 4 August. Orekhov was convicted
of illegal possession of a firearm, but many human rights activists
believe the case against him was fabricated and are demanding that it be
reconsidered, Ekspress-khronika reported the same day. As a KGB officer
during the 1970s, Orekhov routinely warned dissidents of imminent
searches and arrests. A statement issued by the Democratic Union charged
that the KGB's desire for "revenge" lay behind the arrest and sentencing
of Orekhov. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

PROMINENT BANKER KILLED. Ivan Kiveldi, president of Rosbiznesbank and
head of the politically influential entrepreneurs' group Russian
Business Roundtable, died on 4 August after being poisoned by salts
probably containing cadmium, Russian and Western media reported. His
secretary died the previous day after being hospitalized with similar
symptoms. The cause of the banker's death has yet to be officially
determined, but it is being widely regarded as a contract killing.
Members of the Roundtable, which includes leading industrialist Arkadii
Volsky, Russian United Industrialists Party head Vladimir Shcherbakov,
and Most group chairman Vladimir Gusinskii, said they believed the
slaying was political and unconnected to Kiveldi's commercial
activities. Shortly before his death, Kiveldi had expressed opposition
to plans by leading banks to finance the budget deficit. He was also a
fierce critic of corruption and incompetence in the police force. Over
the past three and a half years, 83 bankers have been the victims of
assassination attempts, of whom 46 have died, according to ITAR-TASS on
5 August. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

rejected the draft law on the subsistence minimum on the grounds that it
conflicts with existing legislation, Radio Rossii reported on 3 August.
The draft entitles people whose income falls below the minimum to
monetary benefits. The minimum subsistence level, to be determined by
the Labor Ministry on a quarterly basis, would also be used as the basis
for defining the minimum wage, pensions, and other allowances.
Goskomstat put the subsistence minimum in June at 277,400 rubles a
month, Radio Rossii reported on 5 August. The same day Russian TV,
citing a poll by VCIOM, reported that 48% of Russian families consider
themselves to be living in poverty. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

NEW AIDS DATA. According to Health Ministry official Aleksandr Golyusov,
967 people including 277 children, are now registered as HIV-positive in
Russia. He added that 176 people have full-blown AIDS and that 154
people have died of the disease, Vechernyaya Moskva reported on 3
August. AIDS activists argue that the official figures should be
multiplied by at least a factor of 10 to obtain a true picture of HIV in
the country. Implementation of a new law mandating HIV tests for all
foreigners coming to Russia for longer than three months, which was
scheduled to take effect on 1 August, has been delayed for procedural
reasons. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

ANTINUCLEAR PROTEST BROKEN UP. Police on 6 August broke up an anti-
nuclear demonstration on Red Square organized by Greenpeace on the
grounds that it had not obtained a permit, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported.
The protesters, who had set up 50 crosses marked with radioactive
warning signs, were marking the 50th anniversary of the destruction of
Hiroshima by an atomic bomb. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

INGUSH RETURN TO NORTH OSSETIYA. According to the North Ossetiyan
minister of internal affairs, the majority of the inhabitants of the
Prigorodnii Raion look favorably upon the return of those Ingush
refugees who "took no part in the conflicts in the fall of 1992," ITAR-
TASS reported on 6 August. Russian TV reported on 5 August that 400 out
of the 600 families that left have now returned and the North Ossetiyan
government has pledged to do all it can to make their return permanent.
However, contrary to the account of a smooth transition given by the
minister, Russian TV emphasized the difficulty of the resettlement.
According to the station, police accompanied columns of Ingush refugees
to their former homes in order to forestall any provocation that might
complicate the peace initiative between the Ossetiyan and Ingush
leadership. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

"constructive" talks with Russian officials, including Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, Indian Foreign
Minister Pranab Mukherjee left Moscow on 5 August, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Economic ties, including conventional arms sales,
were one focus of the talks. Russian-Indian trade, which drastically
declined following the collapse of the Soviet Union, has increased 44%
in the past year, and is expected to reach $1.6 billion in 1995, an
Indian spokesman said. Mukherjee also told journalists that a decision
would be made "soon" on an Indian proposal to build a light-water
nuclear power reactor with Russian assistance. Mukherjee denied that
India wants nuclear weapons, although he said that India needs a large
conventional army to defend itself against Pakistan. Kozyrev, apparently
anticipating criticism of the proposed nuclear deal, said Russia does
not need advice from "third countries" on its relations with India. --
Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSO-TURKISH RELATIONS AND THE KURDS. Following a late July visit to
Ankara, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev has, once
again, clarified his government's stance with regard to Turkey and the
Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) by saying that Russia "regards the Kurdish
problem as Ankara's internal affair," Segodnya reported on 4 August. In
a reference to the PKK, he also said "foreign parties and organizations"
will not be allowed to "build nests" on Russian territory. Those remarks
will clearly please officials in Ankara but may not go far enough;
Turkey wants Moscow to close down the "Kurdish House" in Moscow and take
other steps to break ties between Kurdish nationalists in the CIS and
Middle East. Chernyshev and other Russian officials have repeatedly
denied Russian involvement in supporting or encouraging PKK-connected
organizations and activities in Russia, but Turkey continues to suspect
that Moscow gives them tacit support so as to extract concessions from
Ankara on other issues. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

Surikov, an adviser at the Institute for Defense Studies, told ITAR-TASS
on 4 August that U.S. plans to develop a new anti-ballistic missile
system could prompt Russia to reconsider its obligations to cut its
nuclear arsenal. Surikov was commenting on the recent U.S. Senate
decision to increase funding for ABM programs. He warned that moves like
this could prompt Russia to "refrain from ratifying the START-2 treaty
and reconsider some provision under START-1." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

monopoly, Gazprom, announced it has signed a deal with Western creditors
for $1 billion to finance its part in the construction of two gas
pipelines in Germany, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 August.
The former state gas company said it received DM 1.3 billion ($932
million) from a consortium of 27 Western banks to build the pipelines.
Gazprom said it is the largest Russian investment abroad and the largest
financing project with a Russian participant that is not guaranteed by
the Russian state. The credit deal will provide backing for Gazprom's
35% stake in the construction of pipelines that will link northwestern
and central Germany to the French border. Gazprom's German partner in
the project is the chemicals group BASK-Wintershall. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

CHINESE TRADE TALKS BEGIN. A Chinese trade delegation left for Russia on
5 August to follow up on economic cooperation accords signed during
Premier Li Peng's visit to the country in June, ITAR-TASS and AFP
reported the same day. China is seeking to resume and develop its
economic links. Sino-Russian trade, which dipped 30% last year, was up
3% to reach $2.3 billion in the first half of 1995. The delegation will
also travel to Belarus and Ukraine. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute.  The OMRI Daily
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570

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