The discovery of a new dish does more for human happines than the discovery of a new star. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

No. 105, Part I, 30 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:


YELTSIN CALLS FOR MILITARY REFORM. Addressing a meeting of the
military's top brass, President Yeltsin declared that Russia must ensure
its military security despite the reduction in international tension
since the end of the Cold War, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. Yeltsin
condemned plans to expand NATO eastward, saying that the West is trying
to "reinforce its world leadership" by advancing "the NATO military
machine to the east." He said Russia must reform its military to adjust
to its new strategic situation. Instead of "hundreds of divisions which
exist only on paper," he said, "what we need is a few dozen divisions
made up entirely of professionals." He also called the maintenance of a
strong nuclear deterrent a top priority, promised to provide sufficient
funds for the military, and expressed "general" satisfaction with the
current Defense Ministry leadership. -- Scott Parrish

GRACHEV PANS GROMOV. At the same meeting, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
accused unnamed, "dishonorable" generals of attempting to undermine him
by fabricating rumors of his imminent dismissal, ITAR-TASS reported on
29 May. Grachev also lambasted an unnamed "colonel general" for
independently presenting military reform plans to President Yeltsin and
promising to implement them if appointed defense minister. Although the
general claimed the reform plans as his own, they were actually copies
of plans drawn up by the Russian General Staff, Grachev said. Grachev's
remarks clearly refer to Col. Gen. Boris Gromov's 23 May meeting with
President Yeltsin (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 May 1996), which has
triggered continuing speculation that Gromov will replace Grachev. In
his remarks, Grachev also attacked the Russian media for continuing to
publish stories that attempt to discredit the military and its
leadership. -- Scott Parrish

Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky proposed an alliance whereby
he and Aleksandr Lebed could help Gennadii Zyuganov win the election in
the first round, after which Zhirinovsky would be appointed prime
minister and Lebed defense minister, RTR and ITAR-TASS reported on 29
May. He said, "The trouble with the Communists is that they don't want
to form a bloc with anyone and don't tolerate any opposition. However,
Zyuganov still has time to fall on his knees before me and Lebed." In
the past, Zhirinovsky has refused to cooperate with the Communists and
has called Lebed a "traitor." Zyuganov has offered to join forces with
Lebed but has consistently criticized Zhirinovsky's erratic views and
voting record in parliament. LDPR Duma deputies sometimes vote with the
Communists but on crucial votes often back the government. -- Laura

campaign headquarters in the Republic of Buryatiya is offering 1 million
rubles ($200) to the person who has saved the most coupons for food and
other consumer goods dating from the Brezhnev era of "developed
socialism," ITAR-TASS reported on 30 May. The contest is aimed at
reminding voters of the shortages and lines that were common in the
Soviet period, which Yeltsin supporters warn could return if Communist
leader Gennadii Zyuganov is elected president. -- Laura Belin

political advertising campaign, which shows ordinary people explaining
why they support the president but never shows Yeltsin himself, is very
effective, according to Kommersant-Daily on 29 May. The advertising
agency Video International, which developed the successful da-da-nyet-da
campaign before the April 1993 referendum and worked less successfully
with Yabloko before the 1995 parliamentary election, is responsible for
the clips. The "man on the street" approach is connecting with ordinary
people who see themselves in the advertisements, the paper argues. The
advertisements were filmed using real people speaking without any pre-
written script. The whole "soap opera" will have a surprise conclusion
that the authors refuse to reveal in advance. By not showing the
candidate, the paper argued, the advertisements are "unobtrusive" and do
not "irritate the viewer." Yeltsin himself approved this subtle
approach. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

VLASOV APPEALS TO PATRIOTISM. Former world champion weight lifter and
presidential candidate Yurii Vlasov on 29 May called for a policy of
"people's patriotism" and accused the Communists of stealing many of his
ideas, including the name of his People's Patriotic Party (Zyuganov
calls himself the leader of the "coalition of popular-patriotic
forces"). Vlasov compared his brand of nationalism with French Gaullism,
claiming that it is a more effective unifying force than communist or
democratic ideals. In his opinion, Yeltsin's policies have pushed 40% of
the population below the poverty line and brought the government only 3%
of the real value of privatized state property. He said that he expects
to win 6-7% of the vote and that he will support neither Yeltsin nor
Zyuganov in the runoff. He is running at less than 1% in the polls and
the media has largely ignored his campaign. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

"Nyet" on 29 May rejected accusations that their call on people to cast
votes against all candidates in the second round could help Zyuganov
beat Yeltsin. They admitted that Zyuganov would get 35% of the vote but
argued that "against all" would gain even more votes if enough people
refuse to back Yeltsin. Under the electoral law, the candidate with the
most votes wins the second round as long as he gains more votes than are
cast against all candidates. If "against all" wins, a new election must
be held, in which case Nyet leaders predict Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin or Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov will enter the race and
Aleksandr Lebed and Grigorii Yavlinskii will form an alliance, while the
Communist have no other obvious leader aside from Zyuganov. The Nyet
movement consists mainly of long-time human rights campaigners who claim
that "we are doing what we always do: going out into the square and
denouncing the current government." -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

CHECHEN PEACE PROSPECTS. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav
Mikhailov on 29 May suggested that representatives of the Chechen
opposition could participate in a future Chechen coalition government if
acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's assertion that he is in control
of the Chechen military formations proves to be true, Russian TV (RTR)
reported. The commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.
Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, stated that he had held talks with unnamed
Chechen field commanders who had expressed their support for President
Boris Yeltsin's peace initiative and their readiness to surrender their
weapons. The draft project on power-sharing between the Russian
Federation and Chechnya defines Chechnya as a sovereign state within the
federation with jurisdiction over all aspects of domestic political
affairs and the right to conclude international treaties and agreements,
while Russia retains responsibility for foreign policy, defense and
security issues, and transport, Radio Rossii reported. -- Liz Fuller

BRYANSK GOVERNOR FIRED. President Yeltsin dismissed Bryansk Oblast
Governor Vladimir Barabanov on 29 May, ITAR-TASS reported. Barabanov was
accused of misusing federal budget funds. He is the fifth governor to be
fired this year for improper use of funds. On 9 April, Izvestiya
reported that the leaders of 14 parties and organizations in the oblast
had sent a letter to Yeltsin appealing to him to sack Barabanov, whom
they accused of selling out to the Communist Party as well as
squandering public money. The paper also noted that Barabanov had
appointed Communists to leading positions in the oblast. Kommersant-
Daily argued on 29 May that some of the signatures were falsified,
adding that Barabanov, who refuted the allegations, did not meet with
Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov when the latter visited the oblast on
21 May. The Communists won 35.4% in Bryansk in the December State Duma
election. -- Penny Morvant

ceremony, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a series of power
sharing agreements with Rostov Oblast Governor Vladimir Chubov and
Sakhalin Oblast Governor Igor Farkhutdinov, ITAR-TASS reported on 29
May. The agreements with Rostov delineate the division of authority
between the federal and regional governments in areas such as tax and
budget authority, transport, law enforcement, land use, and mineral
rights. The accords with Sakhalin cover land use, education, and
international economic links, among other issues. To date, similar
agreements have been signed with 18 federation subjects. Chernomyrdin
said the federal government intends to sign similar agreements with all
89 constituent members of the Russian Federation. -- Scott Parrish

GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Finance Minister Theo Waigel arrived
in Moscow on 29 May with the ostensible goal of signing a double-
taxation treaty, Russian media reported the same day. Waigel met with
Yeltsin, who affirmed his commitment to reform, and with First Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov, who described Germany as "Russia's
most important and reliable partner in Europe," according to ITAR-TASS.
So far this year, Germany has promised Russia DM 4 billion in loans,
including a DM 1 billion ($650 million) credit announced on 25 May.
Germany also holds 46% of Russia's $40 billion debt to the Paris Club,
which was rescheduled in March. -- Peter Rutland

the Italian newspaper Corrierre Della Sera , Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov said that despite tensions over issues like NATO
expansion, "the Cold War will not return," but pointedly added that
"Russia refuses to be regarded as the losing side." Primakov insisted
that Russia remains a great power with an independent foreign policy,
adding that "some in the West would like Russia to adopt a submissive
stance, but they certainly will not secure this, no matter who wins the
[presidential] election." He also complained that "NATO does not seem to
want an understanding," referring to the rejection of various compromise
offers on the expansion issue extended by Russia over the past few
months. -- Scott Parrish

MORE MONEY FOR TEACHERS. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets
announced on 29 May that the government will allocate an additional 2.8
trillion rubles ($558 million) to eliminate teachers' wage arrears and
to cover annual leave payments, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin issued a
decree on 16 May ordering federal bodies to ensure the timely disbursal
of holiday pay. Soskovets also said that the cabinet has decided to set
up a new federal body to deal with fuel and energy supplies to vital
institutions. There have been numerous cases of electricity supplies
being cut to education establishments because of unpaid bills. The new
working group will have the right to redistribute energy resources at
the disposal of government bodies and of enterprises, regardless of
their form of ownership. Teachers in Ulan-Ude in Buryatiya went on
strike on 27 May to protest wage arrears. -- Penny Morvant

U.S. RETIREE ASKED TO LEAVE VORONEZH. The local authorities in Voronezh
have asked retired American Charles Swan to leave the city because of
alleged irregularities in the work of the travel agency he runs,
Izvestiya reported on 29 May. Swan, who used to work for the U.S. State
Department, volunteers at Voronezh University as well as offering free
travel services to students. Izvestiya, which is strongly anti-
communist, contended that the political sympathies of officials at the
local branch of the Federal Migration Service are the real reason for
Swan's problems. The paper accused the authorities of taking steps
against an "undesirable foreigner" because they expect a Communist
victory in the presidential election. -- Penny Morvant

Chairman Vladimir Malin has announced that the government hopes to raise
12.4 trillion rubles ($2.5 billion) this year by selling stakes in major
energy and communications companies, Reuters reported on 29 May. The
fund intends to sell off a 34% stake in Norsi-Oil, a 29% stake in NAFTA-
Moskva, and a 1.5% stake in LUKoil, as well as 25% of shares in
Svyazinvest, 22% in Moscow Central Telegraph, and 1% in the national
power grid EES Rossii. Malin said the government will probably not
repeat the controversial loans-for-shares auctions. The future of
privatization depends on the outcome of the presidential election, since
Zyuganov insists on preserving state ownership in strategic sectors. --
Natalia Gurushina


RELEASE OF TAJIK SOLDIERS MAY BE DELAYED. The scheduled transfer of 26
government soldiers held prisoner by the Tajik opposition did not take
place on 29-30 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The 26 men are among 300-400 men
captured during the fighting in the Tavil-Dara region over the last
eight months. The International Red Cross had arranged the deal and
offered to be present at the transfer, but heavy rain is holding up the
arrival of the Red Cross personnel in the Tavil-Dara region. The Tajik
opposition had agreed to release the men, claiming that they were in
poor health and that government blockades of the area had prevented the
opposition forces from offering the prisoners basic medical care. --
Bruce Pannier

Medeu region of Almaty is holding talks with the Kazakhstani Procurator-
General's Office to urge it to withdraw the proposed ban on
Komsomolskaya pravda , ITAR-TASS reported on 30 May. Supported by a
group of Kazakh writers and political leaders, the Procurator-General's
Office alleged that the newspaper had fomented ethnic discord and
attacked the territorial integrity of Kazakhstan by publishing an
interview with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in its 23 April issue.
Solzhenitsyn's earlier statements endorsing a recreation of "Greater
Russia" by incorporating Russian-inhabited border regions have made him
persona non grata in Kazakhstan. However, a large number of Kazakhstani
journalists claim that the proposed ban is an attempt to undermine the
freedom of the press. Komsomolskaya pravda is the most popular Russian
newspaper in Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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