A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner. - Samuel Johnson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 99, Part I, 22 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

COMMUNISTS DENOUNCE MEDIA "FALSIFICATIONS" . . . Communist campaign 
manager and Duma deputy Valentin Kuptsov on 21 May denounced what he 
described as "false" documents that have appeared in the press recently. 
He particularly criticized Komsomolskaya pravda for publishing on 15 May 
what it claimed were excerpts from the Communists' economic program and 
Moskovskie novosti, which in its 19-26 May issue published an allegedly 
Communist document concerning plans to overturn President Boris Yeltsin's 
1991 decree banning political activity in the workplace. -- Robert Orttung 
in Moscow

. . . WHILE THE RUMOR MILL CHURNS ON. Kuptsov and Communist leader 
Gennadii Zyuganov also denied widespread reports of discord during an 18 
May Communist Central Committee meeting, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. For 
instance, Izvestiya ran the implausible scenario that Zyuganov was about 
to make a deal with Yeltsin, and deliberately lose the election in 
exchange for being appointed to the post of prime minister. Rumors about 
conflict within the Communist Party (KPRF) are published almost daily in 
the anti-Communist press, which includes independent publications such as 
Izvestiya and Moskovskii komsomolets as well as official newspapers like 
Rossiiskaya gazeta and Rossiiskie vesti. The rumors generally highlight 
more extreme elements within the KPRF, presumably in order to frighten 
swing voters. At the same time, reports depicting Zyuganov as ready to 
sell out or compromise are aimed at driving a wedge between him and his 
Communist supporters. -- Laura Belin 

CANDIDATES HAVE TROUBLE FINALIZING PROGRAMS. Both President Yeltsin and 
Zyuganov have had considerable difficulty issuing detailed versions of 
their electoral programs. Yeltsin's most recent plan was to issue his 
campaign platform by 20 May, but he did not meet his self-imposed 
deadline. One of his campaign managers, Sergei Filatov, said that he 
thought it would appear soon but that the staff needed at least two more 
days to finish it. Duma member Tatyana Koryagina, who is working on the 
Communists' economic platform, also said that it would take her team a few 
more days to iron out the main points of the opposition's proposals. She 
reassured reporters that private property would be respected and that 
price and foreign exchange controls would not be reimposed. -- Robert 
Orttung in Moscow

DEMOCRATS COMMEMORATE SAKHAROV'S BIRTH. About 50 activists in a variety of 
Moscow democratic political parties and 150 journalists turned out on 21 
May to mark the 75th anniversary of dissident Andrei Sakharov's birth on 
Lyubyanka Square, under the shadow of the former KGB headquarters. The 
speakers recalled the large crowds that turned out to mark the physicist's 
death and lamented the lack of unity among today's reformers. Those 
present denounced Zyuganov and the possible return to power of the 
Communists but were divided between President Yeltsin and Yavlinskii. Also 
on 21 May, a square was named after Sakharov in St. Petersburg, and the 
apartment in Nizhnii Novgorod (formerly Gorkii) where Sakharov spent 
nearly seven years in internal exile was opened as a museum, ITAR-TASS 
reported. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow 

SPECULATION ON GRACHEV'S FUTURE. The newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta claimed 
on 21 May that a presidential decree firing Defense Minister Pavel Grachev 
and replacing him with retired General Boris Gromov has already been drawn 
up and will be signed by 3 or 4 June. The military commentator for 
Segodnya, Pavel Felgengauer, said "Grachev's position looks more shaky 
than ever." Gromov's differences with Grachev over Chechnya and other 
issues led to his removal as deputy defense minister in February 1995. 
Gromov was elected to the Duma in December 1995, and is currently actively 
campaigning for Yeltsin's re-election, appearing frequently as a TV 
spokesman for the president to defend his decree abolishing the draft, for 
example. Aleksandr Zhilin, military expert for Moskovskie novosti, said 
Grachev's April speech contradicting President Yeltsin on halting military 
actions in Chechnya had "put Yeltsin in a very difficult position. 
Logically Grachev must go," he was quoted as saying, "although you can 
never be sure with Yeltsin." -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish

DUMA URGES ACTION ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS. At hearings on 21 May, deputies 
called for the speedy adoption of laws on the destruction of Russia's 
stockpile of chemical weapons and compensating residents exposed to 
environmental damage from their production and destruction, ITAR-TASS 
reported. Russia has 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, which are to 
be processed at plants near the seven arsenals where they are stored, in 
the regions of Udmurtiya, Bryansk, Kirov, Penza, Kurgan, and Saratov. Duma 
Environment Committee Chairwoman Tamara Zlotnikova complained that in 1995 
the government disbursed only one third of the funds budgeted for chemical 
weapons destruction, and has released no funds at all for this purpose in 
1996. The deputies noted upon the government to submit for ratification 
the treaty banning chemical weapons which Russia signed in January 1993. 
-- Scott Parrish

ST. PETERSBURG RUNOFF POSTPONED. The St. Petersburg Electoral Commission 
has postponed the second round of the city's gubernatorial election until 
2 June, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 21 May. Originally, the runoff was 
scheduled for 26 May, but the commission's spokesman said that it needs 
more time for preparations. Incumbent Anatolii Sobchak and his former 
first deputy, Vladimir Yakovlev, finished first and second in the 19 May 
first round (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 May 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya

ANOTHER MAYORAL CANDIDATE REGISTERED IN MOSCOW. The Moscow Electoral 
Commission has registered Moscow Duma deputy Olga Sergeeva as a candidate 
in the city's 16 June mayoral election, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. The 
chairman of the nationalist Officers' Union, Stanislav Terekhov, is the 
deputy mayoral candidate on the Sergeeva ticket. This was Sergeeva and 
Terekhov's second attempt to register, after more than 4,000 of their 
89,509 nomination signatures were found to have been forged the first time 
they tried to register. The ballot will include three other pairs of 
candidates for mayor and deputy mayor: incumbent Yurii Luzhkov and 
Moscow's Southern District administration head, Valerii Shantsev; the 
former head of a local Communist Party organization, Aleksandr Krasnov, 
and the director of a joint-stock company, Nikolai Moskvichev; the heads 
of another joint-stock company, Vladimir Filonenko and Nikolai Chumakov. 
-- Anna Paretskaya 

PERRY WARNS RUSSIA, UKRAINE NOT TO SEND SS-18 TECHNOLOGY TO CHINA. It 
would be a "significant mistake" if either Russia or Ukraine were to 
provide SS-18 strategic missile technology to China, U.S. Secretary of 
Defense William Perry told reporters at the Pentagon on 21 May. Perry had 
revealed Chinese interest in the SS-18 in a Washington Times interview. 
The SS-18 is the largest intercontinental ballistic missile in the world. 
Built at the giant Pivdenmash plant in Ukraine, the SS-18 formed the 
backbone of the Soviet strategic rocket force. While Russia still deploys 
186 of them, they would be eventually banned under the START II treaty. 
Perry said that other than making the missile's booster available for 
space launches, any transfer of SS-18 technology would violate the START I 
treaty and the Missile Technology Control Regime. -- Doug Clarke

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE: RUSSIA WILL "WRECK" NATO EXPANSION. In an interview 
with Ekho Moskvy on 21 May, President Yeltsin's foreign policy aide, 
Dmitrii Ryurikov, condemned plans to expand NATO as "unwise, shortsighted, 
and irresponsible," saying Russia "is doing everything to wreck it." 
Ryurikov, apparently frustrated that repeated Russian offers of some sort 
of compromise have been snubbed, said he hoped "common sense would 
prevail," but that "for now there is little sign of this happening." He 
blamed NATO's inflexibility for the deadlock on the issue, claiming the 
alliance has no "serious thoughts" about cooperation with Russia. 
Meanwhile, at a conference in Dublin, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei 
Kyrlov repeated earlier compromise offers, saying Russia could accept East 
European countries joining NATO political but not military structures. He 
also urged these countries to consider Ireland, which belongs to the EU, 
but not NATO, as a possible model. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA HAILS IRAQI-UN OIL DEAL. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii 
Karasin described the recently-signed agreement between the UN and Iraq as 
"a breakthrough," ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. Under the deal, Iraq, 
which is still under a UN economic embargo imposed after its 1990 invasion 
of Kuwait, will be allowed to sell $2 billion worth of oil to purchase 
food and medicine under UN supervision. Karasin added, however, that 
Russia views the deal as a "temporary measure" which "does not replace the 
main task of fully unblocking" the embargo. While all members of the UN 
Security Council supported the deal, Russia and France hope it will foster 
progress toward fully lifting the embargo, while the U.S. and Britain have 
a more guarded stance. Iraq owes Russia about $7 billion, which it cannot 
repay until after the embargo is lifted. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN CRIMINALS AN INTERNATIONAL THREAT. Police officials from Europe 
and North America attended the third international seminar on organized 
crime in the former Soviet Union in London on 20-21 May, ITAR-TASS 
reported. The seminar was organized by Britain's National Criminal 
Intelligence Service. Valerii Serebryakov, from the Chief Directorate for 
Organized Crime, reported that there are 5,000 criminal gangs in Russia 
with 32,000 members, 100 of them with international operations. Extortion 
and money-laundering feature prominently in their activities. Maj. Gen. 
Giovanni Verdicchio of the Italian Financial Guards said the Italian Mafia 
is investing in privatized businesses in Russia. Meanwhile, in Moscow NTV 
reported on 20 May that Boris Fedorov, the president of the National 
Sports Foundation and the Natsionalnyi Kredit Bank, was arrested after 
drugs were found at his home. Fedorov is an associate of Shamil 
Tarpishchev, President Yeltsin's tennis coach and a co-founder of the 
National Sports Foundation. -- Peter Rutland 

MURDER WAVE. The number of murders in Russia rose from 15,500 in 1990 to 
32,000 in 1995, Trud reported on 18 May. Many of them involve the division 
of the market economy spoils: last year, there were 500 contract killings, 
of which only 61 were solved. "We live in conditions of criminal terror," 
the report concluded. While 73% of murders in the country are 
solved--slightly more than in the U.S.--only 40% are solved in Moscow. The 
paper also noted that 2,447 murders were committed in Kazakhstan in 1995, 
which in proportion to the population is about half the Russian rate. In 
the latest round of a mafia turf war in Moscow, three members of the 
"Kazan gang" were shot dead on 20 May while standing outside a restaurant 
near the luxury Olympic Penta hotel, AFP reported. -- Peter Rutland

YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON TAXATION. President Yeltsin issued a decree on 21 
May promising to freeze the number and level of taxes from January 1997, 
ITAR-TASS reported. The decree also exempts firms from the 10 trillion 
rubles ($2 billion) in penalty payments which they currently owe as a 
result of late payment of taxes, and cuts the penalty for future tax 
arrears from 1% to 0.3% per day. The decree was issued in the absence of a 
revised Tax Code, the passage of which is bogged down in the Duma. -- 
Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA APPLIES FOR OECD MEMBERSHIP. Russia became the first former Soviet 
republic to apply for membership in the 27-country OECD, Western agencies 
reported on 21 May. Russia also requested entry into OECD's affiliates, 
the Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Energy Agency. In December 
1995, the Czech Republic became the first former socialist country to join 
the OECD. OECD officials privately suggest that Russia is a long way from 
meeting the club's membership criteria. Russia has also applied to join 
seven working groups of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization 
(APEC), ITAR-TASS reported on 22 May. World Bank President James 
Wolfensohn arrived in Moscow on 22 May to discuss loans of $350 million 
and $500 million for highway renovation and coal industry reconstruction. 
-- Natalia Gurushina 

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN SECURITY COUNCIL DENOUNCES OPPOSITION OFFENSIVE. Responding to an 
appeal from Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, the UN Security Council 
held a session on 21 May to discuss the situation in Tajikistan, 
particularly in the Tavil-Dara region, Reuters and AFP reported the same 
day. Security Council President Qin Huasun of China read a statement 
condemning "the planned and organized offensive by armed Tajik opposition 
in the Tavil-Dara region," and saying "that all such actions further 
aggravate the already serious humanitarian situation in Tajikistan." The 
statement called the offensive "totally unacceptable" and demanded an 
immediate cessation of hostilities in accordance with the Tehran ceasefire 
agreement signed in 1994, which was extended by another three months on 19 
May. -- Bruce Pannier 

DEFENSE INDUSTRY CONVERSION IN UZBEKISTAN. U.S. Department of Commerce 
Undersecretary Barry Carter and Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov on 16 
May signed an agreement establishing the basic principles of Uzbek defense 
industry conversion, the BBC reported on 18 May. Uzbek President Islam 
Karimov is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C. in June 1996. -- Roger 
Kangas

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. 
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