The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 88, Part I, 06 May 1996


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 Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available
through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

RUSSIA

KORZHAKOV CALLS FOR POSTPONING ELECTIONS. The head of President Boris
Yeltsin's security service, Aleksandr Korzhakov, called for postponing
the 16 June presidential election because he believed that Yeltsin could
lose, according to a report in the British newspaper Observer cited by
NTV on 5 May. Korzhakov argued that "many influential people in Russia
support postponing the elections because we need stability more than
anything else now." He predicted unrest whatever the outcome. If Yeltsin
wins, he claimed, the opposition will argue that the results were
falsified, and if Zyuganov wins, the radicals in his party will not
allow him to conduct a centrist policy and will push for extreme
measures. Korzhakov rarely speaks to the press and he is one of
Yeltsin's closest advisers. His statement seems to be a conscious effort
to signal that some of the president's inner circle do not want to hold
the election, and confirms previous opposition statements that the
election may be canceled. -- Robert Orttung

REACTION TO KORZHAKOV STATEMENT. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev
was not informed of Korzhakov's statement and stressed that the Kremlin
continues to support holding the election on time, NTV reported. Central
Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said the election will go
ahead as scheduled and that he is not under any pressure from Korzhakov.
Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov warned that any postponement of
the election would be "a gross violation of the constitution." Following
a conversation with President Yeltsin, Yabloko's Grigorii Yavlinskii
said Korzhakov was only expressing his personal opinion, AFP reported.
-- Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKII, THIRD FORCE UPDATE. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and
President Yeltsin met for two hours on 5 May; it was only their second
meeting during the last five years, Yavlinskii told NTV. Citing unnamed
Kremlin sources, Russian TV (RTR) reported that Yavlinskii is ready to
back Yeltsin in exchange for the post of prime minister, but the
president is not willing to offer him that post. Meanwhile, Yabloko
member Vyacheslav Igrunov told the latest issue of Obshchaya gazeta that
the "third force" group of Yavlinskii, Aleksandr Lebed, and Svyatoslav
Fedorov will soon release a joint declaration. But Lebed's press service
denied that any agreement had been reached, NTV reported on 3 May. In a
lengthy 4 May appearance on Ekho Moskvy, Lebed did not say he would step
down for Yavlinskii. Nevertheless, Izvestiya speculated on 5 May that
Lebed and Fedorov will withdraw their candidacies on live television
between 15-20 May. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN VISITS YAROSLAVL. During a campaign swing through Yaroslavl,
President Yeltsin said that while he is not beyond criticism, he has
been a consistent defender of freedom of speech, ITAR-TASS reported 3
May. Yeltsin said his opponents are using the media to denounce him, but
he questioned whether they would preserve press freedoms if they came to
power. Facing angry questions from local residents about the
government's failure to pay salaries on time, Yeltsin blamed local
authorities and enterprise directors. He said that there are now 1,261
cases of directors being prosecuted for abusing their positions. --
Robert Orttung

POLLS SHOW YELTSIN, ZYUGANOV RUNNING NECK AND NECK. President Yeltsin
and Communist leader Zyuganov are even at 28% according to the most
recent poll conducted by ROMIR, NTV reported 5 May. Grigorii Yavlinskii
and Aleksandr Lebed each have 7%; Svyatoslav Fedorov 6%; Zhirinovsky 5%;
and Mikhail Gorbachev 2%. About 15% remain undecided. For the first
time, the ROMIR data showed that Yeltsin could beat Zyuganov in the
second round. According to this poll, Zyuganov has not improved his
position since the beginning of March, while Yeltsin was able to close a
9 point gap. Yeltsin's position may have improved partly because Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Russia's Democratic Choice party leader
Yegor Gaidar's names are no longer included in the poll and their
supporters, about 5%, went over to Yeltsin. Recent Russian experience
has shown that polls of voting intentions are not entirely reliable. --
Robert Orttung

SPECULATION OVER THE "LETTER OF 13." Debate continues over the meaning
of the letter signed by 13 businessmen calling for a political
compromise which was published on 26 April (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29
April 1996). There are rumors that they were acting at the behest of
President Yeltsin, who allegedly wants to persuade Zyuganov to agree to
postpone the election, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 5 May. However, the
fact that Zyuganov met with the letter's authors has fueled speculation
that the businessmen are less worried about a Communist victory than
about possible authoritarian steps by Yeltsin should he lose the
election. -- Peter Rutland

EXTREME NATIONALISTS DEMONSTRATE IN MOSCOW. Several young members of the
national-socialist Russian National Union (RNS), a former part of the
Pamyat group, staged a "day of white struggle," demonstration in the
center of Moscow on 4 May, Russian TV (RTR) reported. Marching under
Nazi flags, they demanded the "restoration of Russian nation rule." --
Anna Paretskaya

YELTSIN SETS DATE FOR VISIT TO CHECHNYA. Russian President Boris Yeltsin
will visit Chechnya on 16 May, Ekho Moskvy reported on 4 May; acting
separatist President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev warned that he cannot
guarantee Yeltsin's safety. Yeltsin proposed trilateral peace talks
between Dudaev's camp, the Russian leadership ,and the pro-Moscow
Chechen government, but Yandarbiev told ITAR-TASS on 5 May that the
latter should participate as members of the Russian delegation.
Yandarbiev also said he will participate in peace talks only on
condition that the Russian government issues an official denial of
responsibility for the death of Dzhokhar Dudaev. On 4 May, former Grozny
Mayor and Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Beslan Gantemirov was arrested
at Sheremetevo airport on charges of embezzling several billion rubles
intended for the reconstruction of Grozny, Russian media reported. On 5
May, Dudaev's men shot down a Russian fighter aircraft in eastern
Chechnya, killing the two pilots, NTV reported. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER AT BALTIC SUMMIT. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin joined 10 leaders from the Baltic region for a summit
meeting in Visby, Sweden on 3-4 May, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Besides signing the joint summit declaration,(see related
story in East European section), Chernomyrdin held a separate meeting
with Estonian President Tiit Vahi. Russian-Estonian relations are
strained, however, and Radio Mayak reported that the two leaders
accomplished nothing substantive. Earlier, Chernomyrdin had said that
Russia "could not accept" the current treatment of the Russian minority
in Estonia and Latvia, and reiterated that Russia remains "categorically
opposed" to the Baltic states joining NATO. On the eve of the summit,
Baltic media quoted Russian Communist presidential candidate Gennadii
Zyuganov as calling the Baltic States economic "parasites," enriching
themselves at Russia's expense. -- Scott Parrish

FINLAND, RUSSIA SIGN AGREEMENTS. During a 24-hour working visit to
Finland on 4-5 May, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed
six bilateral agreements with his Finnish counterpart, Paavo Lipponen,
discussed security issues with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, and
visited a joint Russian-Finnish automobile plant, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Among the six accords were an investment protection
pact, a tax agreement, and two accords covering the shipment of Russian
military equipment as partial payment for Russia's $1.2 billion debt to
Finland. Part of the deal includes the "Buk-M-1" anti-aircraft missile
complex--also known as the S300--which Russian officials claim is
superior to the U.S. Patriot ( see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995),
and which was valued at $300 million. After his meeting with Ahtisaari,
Chernomyrdin said Russia and Finland had "generally similar" views on
European security, and he praised Finland's policy of military non-
alignment. -- Scott Parrish

PRIMAKOV: RUSSIA CANNOT ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY YET. Russia cannot yet
abolish the death penalty, AFP quoted Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov as saying after the 3 May session of the Ministerial Committee
of the Council of Europe. Primakov argued that Russian public opinion
"would not understand" its abolition under current circumstances.
Critics in the council's Parliamentary Assembly claim Russia has
actually accelerated the pace of executions since joining the council on
28 February. They point to some 30 executions carried out in Russia
since then, despite Moscow's pledge to abolish capital punishment within
three years. Primakov also contended that Moscow is pushing for a
peaceful settlement in Chechnya, another obligation it assumed upon
joining the council. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN ORDERS SPECIAL PEACEKEEPING FORCE. President Boris Yeltsin on 3
May ordered the Defense Ministry to form a special international
peacekeeping force of up to 22,000 men by 1 December of this year, ITAR-
TASS reported. The presidential decree calls for the formation of "a
special military contingent to participate in maintaining and restoring
international peace and security." The force is to be made up of 17
motorized rifle battalions and four airborne battalions. -- Doug Clarke

SITUATION AROUND MAYAK NUCLEAR PLANT STILL CAUSE FOR CONCERN. A meeting
of the Commission on Operational Questions, chaired by Oleg Soskovets,
declared the implementation of the program to clean up the area around
the Mayak nuclear plant highly unsatisfactory, Russian TV (RTR) reported
on 5 May. The Mayak plant, used to produce weapons-grade plutonium and
process nuclear waste, was the scene of three accidents in 1949, 1957,
and 1967, which together released 10 times more radiation than the
Chornobyl disaster. Yet no funds have been provided for the government
program adopted in 1992 to prevent further leaks from the waste dumps
and compensate local inhabitants, and the Chelyabinsk Oblast has been
left to deal with the problem on its own, RTR reported. -- Peter Rutland

AMUR STEEL MILL PLACED IN RECEIVERSHIP. The Arbitration Court has placed
the only steel mill in Russia's Far East, Amurstal in Komsomolsk-na-
Amure, into temporary receivership, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 May. The
company's output in January-March 1996 fell to 6% compared to the same
period in 1995. Amurstal's major creditor, Nizhne-Amurskii Bank,
insisted that the company be declared bankrupt and its assets sold to
foreigners to repay a 180 billion ruble ($36 million) debt to the bank.
However, the court decided instead that Amurstal will be managed by the
deputy head of the local government, Sergei Khokhlov. Amurstal will get
an 18-month moratorium on repaying its debts. In recent years, the
management tried to save the plant by establishing joint ventures with
South Korean, Australian, and Maltese firms. However, when foreign
investors' hopes for quick profits did not materialize, they withdrew.
-- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN STUDY ON POPULATION SHIFTS IN FORMER SOVIET STATES. Approximately 9
million people have changed their place of residence in the former
Soviet Union since 1989, with the most traffic running between the
Central Asian states and Russia, RFE/RL reported on 6 May, citing a
recently released UN study. The figure does not include military
transfers or voluntary migration. Noting that the definition of the term
'migrants' is subjective, the report focuses on the plights of "punished
peoples"--the Stalin-era victims of mass-deportation such as the Crimean
Tatars and Volga Germans--and the "homeless refugees" fleeing from
conflicts in areas ranging from the North Caucasus to Tajikistan. In
addition, "ecological migrants" are a growing problem, with at least
700,000 people forced to leave an estimated 300 "lethal environments,"
including parts of Chornobyl and Lake Baikal, Semipalatinsk, and the
Aral Sea region. -- Roger Kangas

MOBIL OIL GAINS SHARE OF TENGIZ OIL FIELDS. The Mobil Oil Corporation
and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on 3 May giving the U.S. company a
25% share of the joint venture set up to develop the Tengiz oil fields,
Russian and Western media reported. Chevron will retain its 50% control
and Kazakhstan's share will be reduced to 25%. However, Kazakhstani Oil
Minister Nurlan Balgmbayev told Reuters that after royalties, fees, and
taxes, Kazakhstan will have a 72% share of the profits. This agreement
follows on the heels of the 27 April Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC)
accord that reorganized the venture's ownership (see OMRI Daily Digest,
29 April 1996). Mobil owns a 7.5% share of the CPC, in addition to a 50%
share of the Tulpar Munai Ltd. oil field, also in Kazakhstan. -- Roger
Kangas

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES IN TASHKENT. The five Central Asian foreign
ministers on 4 May signed a memorandum on mutual cooperation in fighting
drugs smuggling at the close of an international symposium in Tashkent,
RFE/RL and Russian TV (RTR) reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 May
1996). The conference outlined a three-year, $3.38 million drug
prohibition program in the region. In a speech, Uzbek President Islam
Karimov highlighted the connection between weapons sales in Afghanistan
and drug money. Tashkent hosted two other international conferences over
the weekend: a four-day international transportation seminar that
focused on the need to develop an effective transport corridor linking
Europe with Central Asia, and a UN seminar on refugees, ITAR-TASS
reported on 5 May. -- Roger Kangas

PROTESTS, TERROR, MISTAKES IN TAJIKISTAN. United Tajik Opposition (UTO)
leader Said Abdullo Nuri sent a protest to UN Secretary-General Boutros
Boutros Ghali claiming that the Tajik government is refusing to abide by
the ceasefire agreement, Radio Mayak reported on 3 May. Nuri said the
government has poured some 4,000 additional troops into the Tavil-Dara
region where opposition forces re-established bases in October 1995.
ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 5 May that a car carrying members of the
Tajik Security Ministry was attacked in the Tavil-Dara area; three
people are reported dead and a fourth wounded. The opposition's Radio
Voice of Free Tajikistan reports that Russian aircraft and Tajik
government artillery are to blame for the deaths of eight government
soldiers who were being held captive in the same region. -- Bruce
Pannier

TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER DENIES PERSONALITY CONFLICTS. United Tajik
Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri and the opposition's chief
negotiator Ali Akbar Turajonzoda dismissed a 1 May Tajik government
radio report that they are engaged in a power struggle, according to a 2
May Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report monitored by the BBC. Both
Nuri and Turajonzoda said the government radio report contained
"slander" and "lies" dreamed up by the "puppet" regime of Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov and his "Kremlin protectors." -- Bruce
Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING
1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU
2) To subscribe, write:
     SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name)
   To unsubscribe, write:
     UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L
3) Send the message

                                  REPRINT POLICY
To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ
or see the Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html

                              OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS
TRANSITION
OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains
expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For
subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ


ECONOMIC DIGEST
The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic
news from the region.  There is a four-week free trial subscription
available; for more information, write ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the
Economic Digest Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Econ/Info.html


RUSSIAN DAILY DIGEST
The OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and distributed the
following day.
1) Compose a message to MAJORDOMO@DEMOS.SU
2) In the body of the message, write SUBSCRIBE OMRI 
   (be sure to replace  with your own name).
3) Send the message
 
         

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole