Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 101, Part I, 24 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

YELTSIN, YANDARBIEV TO TALK IN MOSCOW. Acting Chechen President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev agreed on 23 May to travel to Moscow for peace
talks with President Yeltsin, Russian and Western media reported.
Reuters quoted the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, as
saying that he will accompany Yandarbiev to the talks, which will take
place "in the very near future." -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIANS CLAIM BAMUT VICTORY. The commander of the 58th Army in Chechnya
said on 23 May that most of the Chechen separatists entrenched in the
former Soviet missile base near Bamut had been killed, ITAR-TASS
reported. Lt. Gen. Gennadii Troshev said the "special units" had fought
their way into the stronghold that afternoon. Earlier, a military
official said that federal troops had seized the strategic heights
overlooking Bamut but were not storming the village in order to avoid
casualties. In Moscow, a General Staff officer claimed that there were
300 mercenaries fighting in Bamut, part of some 2,000 mercenaries with
the Chechen separatists. He said 200 of these were from Afghanistan. --
Doug Clarke

YELTSIN MEETS GROMOV. President Yeltsin met with Duma Deputy and former
Deputy Defense Minister Boris Gromov on 23 May, Russian media reported.
The presidential press service said the two men discussed Yeltsin's
election campaign, in which Gromov has been playing an active role, but
added that they touched upon military reform. ITAR-TASS political
commentator Tatyana Zamyatina said that phrase should be viewed as a
signal that Yeltsin wants to "prepare public opinion" for Grachev's
resignation and replacement by Gromov, who has been one of the most
vocal public critics of the current defense minister. She added that
Gromov, who commanded the 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, would
be a suitable choice to lead the Russian army out of Chechnya. Gromov's
public opposition to the intervention in Chechnya helped precipitate his
removal as deputy defense minister in February 1995. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA DENOUNCES CIS LEADERS. The State Duma adopted a declaration
denouncing the endorsement of President Yeltsin by the leaders of
several other former Soviet republics at the 17 May CIS summit, Russian
media reported on 23 May (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 May 1996). The
declaration was sponsored by the Popular Power faction, which is
supporting Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov for president. -- Scott
Parrish

QUALITY OF DUMA'S LEGISLATIVE WORK QUESTIONED. Aleksandr Shokhin, one of
seven deputy chairmen in the State Duma, criticized the poor quality of
the Duma's legislative work, Russian media reported on 23 May. He said
that only 40 of the 189 draft laws submitted to the Duma by the
president and government during the last four months had been passed by
17 May. He added that eight laws submitted to the Duma a year ago or
more have never been examined during a plenary session. Furthermore,
many poorly drafted laws reach the floor for debate. The next day,
Shokhin said the Duma should pass fewer political statements and non-
binding resolutions, and concentrate on legislative work, ITAR-TASS
reported. On 22 May, President Yeltsin appointed Shokhin, a member of
the pro-government Our Home Is Russia faction, to chair the newly
created Committee for Coordinating Legislative Activities. -- Laura
Belin

LAW ON TRANSFER OF POWER PASSED. On 24 May, the Duma passed the law on
the transfer of power to a newly elected president in the third and
final reading (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 May 1996), ITAR-TASS reported.
It now goes to the Federation Council for approval. On the same day,
Duma deputies failed for a third time to override the Federation
Council's veto of the law on election monitoring. -- Laura Belin

ORT TO SUE IZVESTIYA OVER BRIBE ALLEGATIONS. The Channel 1 broadcaster
Russian Public TV (ORT) and one of its leading journalists, Aleksandr
Lyubimov, announced plans to sue Izvestiya for 15 billion rules ($3
million) over a 21 May article alleging that Lyubimov and a producer had
demanded $21,000 in bribes from presidential candidate Vladimir
Bryntsalov, ORT reported on 23 May. Bryntsalov appeared on the 16 May
edition of Lyubimov's show "Odin na Odin" (One on One), along with
Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The article cited Bryntsalov's press secretary,
but Bryntsalov himself has denied that anyone asked him for money.
Lyubimov serves as chairman of the board of directors of the VID
television company, which produces "Odin na Odin" and other Channel 1
shows. Both he and Bryntsalov appeared on a list of the 50 most
influential entrepreneurs in Russia published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on
22 May. -- Laura Belin

LIVSHITS QUESTIONS COMMUNISTS' ECONOMIC GOALS. President Boris Yeltsin's
economic adviser, Aleksandr Livshits, charged on 23 May that the
Communists' inability to define their economic platform is hurting the
economy. He said that the Communists must explain their plans for the
budget, privatization, Yeltsin's decrees on the economy, treasury bonds,
and the agreements Russia has concluded with the IMF "so that a normal
person will know if he can live in peace." He said the Communists'
commitment to "multiple forms of property" is meaningless, since both
the U.S. and Stalin-era Soviet economies could be described in that
manner. He denied responsibility for Yeltsin's 30 April decree on
"economic security" (see OMRI Daily Digest 3 May 1996), saying obliquely
that its author is in charge of "security," not economics. -- Robert
Orttung in Moscow

ZHIRINOVSKY APPEALS FOR COMMUNIST VOTE. Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky used his 23 May free airtime slot on
Russian TV (RTR) to appeal for support from rank-and-file Communists. He
praised ordinary party members and those living outside Moscow and
blamed the mistakes of the party on its leadership, particularly former
General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. Zhirinovsky reminded the Communists
that he supported their coup attempt in 1991 and fought to secure
amnesties for the imprisoned Communist leaders following its failure. He
described communism as "more theory than practice" and recommended that
party members join him. Zhirinovsky promised to stem the current anti-
communist feelings in the country. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

ELECTORAL COMMISSION RELEASES CAMPAIGN FINANCING DETAILS. The Central
Electoral Commission (TsIK) on 23 May released documents on the
presidential candidates' current campaign financing, ITAR-TASS and AFP
reported. As of 15 May, President Yeltsin had accumulated 7.1 billion
rubles ($1.4 million dollars), more than any other candidate. He was
followed by Grigorii Yavlinskii (3.62 billion rubles), Vladimir
Zhirinovsky (3.27 billion rubles, including 57 million rubles of his own
money), and Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov (2.99 billion rubles).
Zyuganov leads in campaign expenditures--so far he has spent 1.65
billion rubles for printing flyers and pamphlets and on mass media
advertising. Yeltsin has spent 300 million rubles. Millionaire Vladimir
Bryntsalov has spent nothing on his campaign. Under electoral law, each
candidate is allowed to spend up to 14.43 billion rubles on their
campaign. -- Anna Paretskaya

ALTERNATIVE ARMY TV PROGRAM CLOSED DOWN. The Russian TV (RTR) army
program "Aty-Baty" was taken off the air on 19 May, and a Defense
Ministry program was shown in its place, Ekho Moskvy reported. The
program's producer, Igor Serebryakov, said he had not been notified in
advance and received no explanation from the RTR management. Moskovskii
komsomolets on 23 May reported that the closure of "Aty-Baty," which has
been on air for five years, is an attempt by the ministry to take
control of all military programs on both RTR and Channel 1 (ORT). The
ministry is already providing ORT with a program called "I serve
Russia!"--a direct successor to the Soviet-era show "I serve the Soviet
Union!" The same day, Moskovskii komsomolets reported that one of its
journalists had been receiving intimidating telephone calls and her
apartment was broken into after she wrote a series of articles strongly
criticizing top army commanders. -- Anna Paretskaya

ANOTHER REGIONAL OFFICIAL FIRED FOR MISUSING FUNDS. President Yeltsin
issued a decree on 24 May dismissing Aleksei Kulyakov, his special envoy
in Stavropol Krai, for misusing state funds, ITAR-TASS reported.
Kulyakov was also fired from the post of administration head at the
popular spa resort Mineralnye Vody. Four regional governors have already
been sacked this year for misusing federal budget funds as part of
Yeltsin's pre-election drive to reduce arrears in the payment of wages
and social benefits. -- Penny Morvant

FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL LAUDS CIS INTEGRATION. In a lengthy set of
"theses" published in a supplement to the 23 May edition of Nezavisimaya
gazeta, a group of leading Russian analysts, politicians, and
businessmen called for intensifying political and economic integration
among the former Soviet republics, but said plans to restore the USSR
are "utopian." The theses were worked out in a series of meetings
sponsored by the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy chaired by Sergei
Karaganov, and reflect a broad consensus among a wide swath of the
Russian elite, as those signing the document ranged from liberals like
Irina Khakamada to nationalist Konstantin Zatulin. While the theses show
that many in Moscow want to maintain a "sphere of influence" in former
Soviet space, they are also relatively moderate in their policy
reccomendations, which focus largely on economic integration, and
specifically argue against actions to "force" the pace of integration.
-- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN BORDER TALKS ADJOURN. The seventh round of Russian-
Estonian border negotiations closed in Pskov on 23 May without making
any significant progress, ITAR-TASS and BNS reported. Although the two
sides are reportedly now close to agreement on the location of the
border itself, they remain deadlocked over the issue of recognizing the
1920 Tartu Peace Treaty. -- Scott Parrish

HELP FOR UNIKOMBANK. The Moscow Oblast government announced on 23 May
that it will take steps to improve the finances of the ailing Ukimobnak,
Biznes-TASS reported on 23 May. The Moscow Oblast will appoint
Unikombank its sole agent, which means some 15 trillion rubles ($5
billion) in Oblast council spending will be channelled through the bank.
In return the Oblast will be given a controlling packet of shares in the
bank. On 20 May, the Central Bank appointed a temporary administrator
for Unikombank, and is reportedly considering issuing it an emergency
loan. -- Peter Rutland

THE FINAL FRONTIER FOR MARKETING. In a marketing first, a contract for
advertising in space has been signed between the Energiya corporation
and Pepsi-Cola, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported on 23 May. Russian
cosmonauts Yurii Usachev and Yurii Onufrienko will drink a can of Pepsi-
Cola before the cameras while in orbit. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TURKEY LOBBIES FOR BAKU-CEYHAN PIPELINE. Turkish Foreign Minister Emre
Gonensay has wrapped up talks in Washington aimed at securing support
for a $2.5 billion project to move Caspian Sea oil from Baku to Turkey's
Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Turkish media reported on 24 May.
Gonensay's trip was undertaken to shore up what appears to be flagging
support for the pipeline project. -- Lowell Bezanis

LATVIAN PRESIDENT CONCLUDES VISIT TO UZBEKISTAN. Latvian President
visited Uzbekistan on 22-24 May to sign several agreements with his
Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, on economic cooperation and scientific
and cultural exchanges, ITAR-TASS and BNS reported. In 1995, Latvian-
Uzbek foreign trade amounted to $19 million (up from $13 million in
1994), with Uzbek imports to Latvia making up 75% of that figure. --
Roger Kangas

KAZAKHSTAN SAYS NO RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL SENT TO CHINA. The Kazakhstani
Embassy in Beijing has denied reports that Kazakhstan exported
radioactive scrap metal to China, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 May. A
complaint was lodged in the Uighur-Xinjiang region when two loads of
ferrous and non-ferrous material emitting a "radioactive level exceeding
norms" was detected in a shipment coming from Kazakhstan. A Kazakhstani
diplomat admitted that his country had shipped scrap metal to China but
added that the shipment in question came from a Karaganda plant and not
from a random gathering of unchecked scrap metal. -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZ-KAZAKHSTANI BORDER POSTS COME DOWN. In keeping with the recent
customs agreement, signed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and
Kyrgyzstan, the latter two countries have begun to take down customs
checkpoints along the Kazakhstani-Kyrgyz border, according to RFE/RL.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov and his Kazakhstani counterpart,
Akezhan Kazhegeldin, attended a tree-planting ceremony at a dismantled
checkpoint in the Kyrgyz village of Georgievka. -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZ FORCES ON FULL ALERT AT KYRGYZ-TAJIK BORDER. In response to a 21
May attack on a Tajik Interior Ministry post in the city of Jirgatal,
about 25 km south of the Kyrgyz border, units of the Kyrgyz Defense
Ministry on the Tajik border have been put on full alert, ITAR-TASS
reported on 22 May. A unit in the Gulch-Alaiskiy district and the Osh
mechanized rifle brigade are at combat readiness, and officers of the
Kyrgyz Defense Ministry have flown to the area to inspect border posts.
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 23 May that Kyrgyz Defense Minister
Myrzakan Subanov and Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva had denied that
border forces had been put on alert. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIK ARMY RECAPTURES NORTHERN HIGHWAY. Tajik government troops have
taken the offensive in fighting with opposition forces along the highway
leading northeast to Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 May. Military
officials claim government forces now control the cities of
Komsomolabad, Garm, Tajikabad, Jirgatal, and the areas immediately
surrounding those cities. A military official said opposition casualties
were high but did not comment on losses among government forces. --
Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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