Everyone knows it is much harder to turn word into deed than deed into word. - Maxim Gorky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 163, Part I, 22 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 Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.  Back issues of the
Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through
our WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html

RUSSIA

RYBKIN FORMS LEFT-CENTER BLOC. After numerous false starts, Duma Speaker
Ivan Rybkin formed a left-center bloc on 21 August, finally fulfilling a
request President Boris Yeltsin made in late April, NTV reported. Having
failed to gain the support of the Agrarian Party, the Federation of
Independent Trade Unions (FNPR), and the Russian United Industrial Party
(ROPP) (which recently overturned a decision to join Rybkin), Rybkin's
bloc now includes 50 relatively unknown parties. Liberal Democratic
Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky claimed the bloc has no chance of
winning the 5% vote needed to get into parliament, but Sergei Yushenkov,
of Russia's Democratic Choice, believes the bloc's prospects are better
due to "Rybkin's balanced and reasoned approach to settling nearly all
problems Russia faces," Interfax reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ZHIRINOVSKY WILL NOT RUN IN SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICT. Zhirinovsky will run
exclusively on his Liberal Democratic Party list in the Duma elections,
Radio Rossii reported. In the last elections, to improve his chances of
winning he ran both on the party list and in a Moscow Oblast district,
where he was elected. In early August, Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii challenged Zhirinovsky and Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov to a three-way electoral race in the same district in Moscow.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHECHEN FIGHTERS SEIZE POLICE HEADQUARTERS IN ARGUN . . . Late in the
evening of 20 August, a group of about 250 Chechen fighters entered the
town of Argun, just east of Grozny, and seized the local police
headquarters, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chechen field
commander Alaudi Khanzatov announced that Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev had appointed him "commandant" of the town, which had been
occupied by federal troops in March. General Anatolii Romanov, commander
of federal forces in Chechnya, said the action was a "gross violation of
the [military] agreement," and federal troops subsequently surrounded
the building, evacuated the civilian population of the town, and
demanded that Khanzatov and his men surrender. Chechen military
commander Aslan Maskhadov and OSCE mediator Sandor Meszaros met with
Khanzatov on 21 August to negotiate a resolution to the standoff.
Although Maskhadov at first expressed surprise when told of Khanzatov's
action, he later said it was consistent with the provisions of the 30
July military accord, as Khanzatov and his men were simply returning to
their homes in Argun. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

. . . RUSSIAN TROOPS STORM ARGUN POLICE BUILDING. According to NTV later
on 21 August, Chechen spokesman Movladi Udugov announced that Khanzatov
and his men would surrender at 3:45 p.m. local time. Federal troops
waited until 4:45 p.m., but when no one emerged from the police
headquarters by that time, they stormed the building, supported by
helicopter and artillery fire. Russian officials later told ITAR-TASS
that Maskhadov had been unable to persuade the fighters inside to
surrender. At about 6 p.m., a Russian military spokesman said the
assault had been "successfully" concluded, but sporadic gunfire
continued through the night. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

ROSSEL ELECTED GOVERNOR OF SVERDLOVSK. Final vote counts confirm that
regional Duma Chairman and Federation Council deputy Eduard Rossel was
elected governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast on 20 August, Russian media
reported the next day. Rossel received about 60% of the vote in the
second round of elections, while Sverdlovsk administrative head Aleksei
Strakhov won only 32% despite spending three times as much on the
campaign as Rossel. In the first round, held on 6 August, Rossel and
Strakhov received 29% and 26% of the vote, respectively (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 8 August 1995). The result is a setback for Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia, since Strakhov leads its
Sverdlovsk branch. Rossel is a strong advocate of regional autonomy. In
July 1993, then-governor Rossel declared the Sverdlovsk Oblast a "Urals
Republic," after which Yeltsin replaced Rossel with Strakhov and
dissolved the Sverdlovsk legislature. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

PARTY CHAIR CLAIMS BASHKORTOSTAN FUELS ETHNIC CONFLICTS. The republic of
Bashkortostan in Russia is training and financing troops loyal to
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Sergei Shakhrai, chairman of the
Party of Russian Unity and Concord (PRES), alleged in an interview
published in the 18-24 August issue of Vek. Shakhrai also accused the
Bashkir state of plotting to divide the republic into Christians and
Muslims, of hosting a separatist Islamic congress, and of aggravating
ethnic rifts between Bashkirs, Russians, and Tatars by dismissing a
Tatar from a key administrative post. The Bashkir president, Murtaza
Rakhimov, telephoned Vek himself to respond, saying that Bashkortostan's
constitution defines it as part of Russia and adding that it had
allocated 50 million rubles ($11,000) to the restoration of a Russian
church. He denied Shakhrai's accusations. Meanwhile, according to Vremya
on 21 August, reports are also circulating that Chechen troops are
training in the Czech Republic. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

COUP ANNIVERSARY ENDS ON LOW NOTE. An estimated 50 to 100 people
gathered at the Vagankovo cemetery in Moscow on 21 August to pay their
respects to the three people killed during the failed hard-line coup
four years ago, Western agencies reported. Sergei Filatov, President
Yeltsin's chief of staff, was the only senior official to lay a wreath
on the graves. He said he was "puzzled" that no one from the government
or the Moscow Mayor's Office attended the ceremony. In contrast with
previous years, gatherings marking the 1995 anniversary of the putsch
have attracted a low turnout. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA SEES BARSUKOV STRENGTHENING FSB. Newly appointed
Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov is trying to
secure some of the former KGB's powers for his own service,
Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 22 August. In particular, he wants to
incorporate parts of the Federal Agency for Government Communication and
Information (FAPSI) and Foreign Intelligence Service into the FSB,
potentially bringing him into conflict with their respective heads,
Andrei Starovoitov and Yevgenii Primakov. The paper argues that Yeltsin
will benefit from having Barsukov in charge of the FSB's operational-
technical department during the elections because it has the capacity to
tap hundreds of telephone lines and monitor correspondence. Barsukov
will be able to channel the information directly to Yeltsin. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

SOLDIER ARRESTED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL. In Tver on 18 August,
Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry officers arrested a
former soldier found in possession of 11 crates containing large
quantities of radioactive cobalt, ITAR-TASS reported. A local newspaper
alleged that the material was the same as that used to poison the
prominent businessman Ivan Kivelidi, who died on 4 August. Law
enforcment agencies are currently investigating the cause of Kivelidi's
death. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

NORWAY ON RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION OF ARCTIC. Speaking at the opening
of an international conference on pollution in the Arctic Ocean,
Norwegian Environment Minister Thorbjoern Berntsen said studies by three
recent Norwegian-Russian expeditions concluded that nuclear waste dumped
east of Novaya Zemlya had had little effect on the environment, Reuters
reported on 21 August. He said the studies indicated that contamination
was limited to areas close to the dumped material and that there has
been no impact on the main body of the Kara and Barents seas. For many
years, the Soviet navy dumped nuclear waste, including whole reactors
containing spent nuclear fuel, in those seas, but the practice was
discontinued after the collapse of communism. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
Inc.

HEALTH MINISTRY RELEASES CHOLERA DATA. A Health Ministry official said
on 21 August that eight cholera cases, including one death, have been
registered in Russia this summer, Interfax reported. The first cases
were registered in June: two in Moscow, one in Rostov-na-Donu, and one
in Chechnya. No new cases were registered in July, but a resident of the
Moscow area died of cholera at the beginning of August and cases were
recorded in Dagestan. The Health Ministry official said urgent measures
were being taken to prevent another cholera epidemic in the southern
Russian republic, where several thousand people contracted the disease
last year. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

NORTHERN FLEET BALKS AT LOSS OF CARRIER. Admiral Oleg Yerofeyev,
commander of the Northern Fleet, has refused to meet a visiting Indian
military delegation, Russian TV reported on 19 August. India wants to
lease the Northern Fleet aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, but
Yerofeyev has repeatedly expressed his opposition to the deal. The
reporter speculated that he would probably have to give up the ship
eventually, since its transfer was said to be part of a program of
military cooperation with India signed during Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's recent visit to New Delhi. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

ST. PETERSBURG GAS SUPPLY CUT DUE TO NONPAYMENT. The Lentransgaz
Company, a major natural gas supplier in northwestern Russia, cut back
St. Petersburg's gas supply to 13.5 million cubic meters a day, Interfax
reported on 21 August. Until recently, the city had consumed as much as
15 million cubic meters of gas a day. Lentransgaz acting director Yurii
Streltsov told the news agency that the leadership of Gazprom's
northwestern affiliate was forced to implement the tough measures to
encourage debt payments from St. Petersburg's major consumers.
Lentransgaz is demanding 400 billion rubles ($91 million) of the total 1
trillion rubles ($227 million) owed by St. Petersburg. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKH OPPOSITION STAGE HUNGER STRIKE AGAINST REFERENDUM. A group of
about 30 opposition activists staged a demonstration and a hunger strike
on 21 August near Kazakhstan's parliament building to protest against
holding a national referendum on the draft constitution, ITAR-TASS
reported on the same day. Khasen Kozhakhmetov, chairman of the
opposition group Democratic Movement of Kazakhstan, told ITAR-TASS that
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev had failed to respond to their
demands that the new constitution be decided on by the national
parliament--the only way it can go through a proper and detailed
analysis before being passed, according to the protesters. The coalition
of opposition parties and movements say the draft constitution gives the
president unlimited powers over the nation's parliament and courts. A
spokesman for Almaty's human rights committee told Reuters on 21 August
that Interior Ministry troops arrested 19 demonstrators for violating a
presidential decree against unauthorized public meetings. The opposition
activists planned to hold another protest in three days. -- Bhavna Dave,
OMRI, Inc.

AKAEV TO HOLD REFERENDUM EXTENDING TERM? Local officials in Kyrgyzstan
have collected 1.2 million signatures, 52% of the voting age population,
in support of a proposal that President Askar Akaev prolong his term in
office until 2001, a presidential spokesman in Bishkek told Reuters on
22 August. He said that the officials are campaigning on a platform of
"unity around one leader, and not election campaigns." Akaev has
repeatedly said that presidential elections will be held on schedule in
1996. A final decision on the referendum will be made later this month.
The leaders of the neighboring states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and
Turkmenistan have already extended their terms until the year 2000 or
beyond through national referendums. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

KYRGYZ PREPARE TO CELEBRATE 1,000 YEARS OF EPIC POEM. Kyrgyzstan is
preparing to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Manas--the legendary
Kyrgyz leader who is believed to have united his nomadic horsemen
against enemy tribes--at Talas in western Kyrgyzstan, Reuters reported
on 21 August. The epic Manas, passed on orally through generations, has
become the most important symbol of a new Kyrgyz national identity. Some
claim that Manas is an "historical figure, at least a 1000 years old,"
whereas others point out that references to Manas were first found in
the 15th century Tajik chronicles. A Manas aiyly, or village, is being
hastily built in the capital Bishkek for the opening ceremony. The
preparations for the festival are expected to cost $5 million; UNESCO
and foreign investors have provided financial help. The festival runs
from 25-31 August. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

RUSSIAN DIVISION IN CRIMEA TO BE DISBANDED. A controversial Russian
division belonging to the Black Sea Fleet will be disbanded "in several
weeks," NTV reported on 20 August. The 126th Coastal Defense Division,
stationed in Simferopol, was once a motorized rifle division belonging
to the Ground Forces. During the negotiations for the CFE treaty, the
division was transferred to the navy and transformed into a coastal
defense division. The CFE treaty does not apply to naval forces, but
NATO objected so strongly to the move that the Soviet Union finally
agreed to count the weapons in the division against its treaty
allowances. The equipment and property of the division are to be turned
over to Ukraine. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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