The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 106, Part I, 31 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 UNVEILS ELECTION PLATFORM . . . Campaigning in Perm Oblast,
President Boris Yeltsin unveiled his long-awaited election platform, in
which he promises to finish political and economic reforms begun during
the last five years, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 31 May. As is his
usual practice, he warned of the dangers of a Communist comeback,
reminding supporters, "In recent years, we have begun to forget what
empty shelves are." The 31 May issue of Izvestiya previewed the
president's platform, which is 250 pages long. In the political sphere,
it promises to support civil society, strengthen the multi-party system,
and protect freedom of the press and voters' rights. Concerning economic
policy, the platform admits that Yeltsin has made mistakes in recent
years but promises, among other things, to protect citizens' incomes
from inflation and "dishonest commercial structures," enact tax and
agrarian reform, and implement an industrial policy to protect domestic
producers. -- Laura Belin

. . . AND TRIES TO CHARM VOTERS IN BASHKORTOSTAN. Before arriving in
Perm, Yeltsin spent two days in the largely agricultural Republic of
Bashkortostan, Russian media reported on 30 May. Claiming that the deal
he recently concluded in Chechnya will lead to lasting peace there, he
pledged to support friendship among different nationalities. (The
population of Bashkortostan is about 39% ethnic Russian, 28% Tatar, and
22% Bashkir.) Visiting a state collective farm, Yeltsin promised to
support private farming but not to force collectives to disband. The
president also displayed his improvisational skills, dancing at a 29 May
rock concert and joking with university students at a rally the next
day. In the 1995 parliamentary election, parties whose leaders now
support Gennadii Zyuganov gained nearly 50% of the vote in
Bashkortostan. -- Laura Belin

ZYUGANOV HOPES FOR AGREEMENT WITH THIRD FORCE CANDIDATES. Although he
firmly rejected Vladimir Zhirinovsky's suggestion that he "fall on his
knees" begging for an electoral alliance, Gennadii Zyuganov announced on
a campaign visit to the Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya that he would
like to hold consultations with Svyatoslav Fedorov and Aleksandr Lebed,
NTV reported on 30 May. Fedorov said Zyuganov's offer was news to him
and repeated that he favors a "national unity" government, in which
Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky, socialists, and liberals would all be
represented. Lebed was dismissive of the offer: "I'm not looking for the
bright future anymore...Whether [Zyuganov] falls on his knees or not, it
doesn't interest me." (For more on Zyuganov, see item in Southeastern
Europe section.) -- Laura Belin

YAVLINSKII: DON'T BE AFRAID TO VOTE FOR ME. Campaigning in Samara
Oblast, Grigorii Yavlinskii said he is confident he can win the
presidential election "if people are not afraid" to vote for him,
Russian TV (RTR) reported on 30 May. Recent opinion polls measure the
number of people planning to vote for Yavlinskii in the single digits,
although as many as 18% say he is the candidate they would most like to
see become president. News coverage of the Yabloko leader on Russia's
major television networks is not so much critical as dismissive.
Commentators often suggest that Yavlinskii has no chance to win, and
votes cast for him will be wasted or will work in favor of Gennadii
Zyuganov. -- Laura Belin

SATAROV WARNS OF COMMUNIST FALSIFICATION, DISORDER AFTER THE ELECTIONS.
Presidential adviser Georgii Satarov warned on 30 May that the
Communists no longer believe that they can win the election, and are
prepared to use any means necessary to take power. He told OMRI that the
official vote count could be falsified at the level of vote counters who
will simply count votes for other candidates as a vote for the Communist
candidate. He complained that, according to the current law, observers
cannot look over their shoulders and see if the vote count is accurate.
He also argued that the Communists are going to conduct their own
parallel vote count, potentially leading to a confrontation that could
be worse than the October 1993 standoff between President Yeltsin and
the Supreme Soviet. He alleged that the Communists are preparing
military units that they could deploy before or after the election but
refused to be more specific about the source of this information other
than saying that it had been published in newspapers. -- Robert Orttung
in Moscow

YELTSIN SUPPORT GROUP ACCUSES OPPOSITION OF CHEATING IN 1995 DUMA
CAMPAIGN. The All-Russian Movement for Social Support of Yeltsin issued
a press release on 30 May arguing that several opposition parties,
including the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Liberal
Democratic Party, had benefited from suspicious practices during last
year's Duma campaign. In many regions where the Communists are strong,
as many as 40% of the votes were cast in "mobile ballot boxes" that were
established to allow people who could not come to the polls to vote at a
more convenient location. In Russia generally, only 4.6% of the voters
used this method of voting. There was also a direct correlation between
increased turnout and increased support for opposition parties. --
Robert Orttung in Moscow

ILLARIONOV: COMMUNIST ECONOMIC PROGRAM COULD BE EFFECTIVE POLITICALLY. .
. The director of the Institute of Economic Analysis, Andrei Illarionov,
on 30 May argued that even though the Communists' recently published
economic program has "numerous factual errors," it could be effective at
winning votes because it repeats many myths that are commonly circulated
in society. He argued that the program reflects a "primitive"
understanding of the social processes taking place in the country today.
He pointed out that on the one hand, the Communists criticize the
subsidies that are granted to other CIS countries, while on the other,
they call for voluntary reintegration of the CIS which would require
large subsidies to attract former Soviet republics. -- Robert Orttung in
Moscow

. . .BUT MAY THWART RUSSIA'S EFFORTS TO JOIN WTO. Senior officials at
the World Trade Organization (WTO) say the unveiling of the Communist
Party's economic program--which calls for restoring the state's leading
role in the economy, extending subsidies to industry and agriculture,
and increasing trade protectionism--may thwart Russia's efforts to join
the organization, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 30 May. They stress
that if the Communists win the election, there will be little chance to
grant Russia WTO membership and "this whole exercise will be dropped."
The third session of the WTO working group that is dealing with Russia's
application is concentrating on intellectual rights, services, and trade
aspects of investment policy. The head of Russia's delegation at the
talks, First Deputy Foreign Economic Relations Minister Georgii Gabunia,
emphasized the importance of conducting the negotiations in "a
constructive atmosphere" on the eve of the presidential election. --
Natalia Gurushina

COMMENTATOR: GRACHEV EMERGES VICTORIOUS. Writing in Segodnya on 30 May,
military commentator Pavel Felgengauer said Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev had "triumphed" over his opponents at the 29 May Moscow meeting
of top military officials (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 May 1996).
Felgengauer said Grachev's harsh attacks on Col. Gen. Boris Gromov,
delivered at the meeting while President Yeltsin sat silently behind him
on the podium, show that Yeltsin does not plan to remove Grachev
immediately, as many had speculated. Grachev suits Yeltsin, added
Felgengauer, because the defense minister is so unpopular and isolated
that he must remain obedient to the president, his only political
supporter. Nevertheless, Felgengauer said Yeltsin may still decide to
jettison Grachev before the election. Despite Yeltsin's apparent support
for Grachev, Gromov continued to campaign for the president, addressing
an election rally in Tambov on 30 May, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Scott
Parrish

LOCAL SELF GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS NO LATER THAN FALL 1996. The
Constitutional Court has ruled that the Russian local legislative and
executive bodies must be elected no later than the fall of this year,
ITAR-TASS and ORT reported on 30 May. The August 1995 law on self
government, which was passed by the Duma and signed by the president,
requires elections to be held by March 1996. However, President Yeltsin
has challenged the Duma's authority to set specific dates for the local
elections. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN POLLING STATION DISPUTE. Russia may file a protest with
the Council of Europe over Estonia's refusal to open supplementary
polling stations for Russian citizens to vote in the upcoming Russian
presidential election, Radio Rossii reported on 30 May. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Valentin Matvienko said Russia views the Estonian
decision as a violation of the human rights of Russian citizens living
in Estonia, many of whom may not be able to reach the Russian Embassy in
Tallinn or the consulates in Narva and Tartu. These are currently the
only places in Estonia where polling stations will be opened. Estonian
officials, however, have expressed willingness to allow additional
polling stations but only if Moscow provides Tallinn with a list of
Russian citizens living in Estonia which substantiates the need for
them. Russian diplomats have categorically rejected this Estonian
request, triggering the current deadlock. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN VIEWS OF TURKEY. Turkey represents a part of the external threat
to Russia's security, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said at the
opening of a conference of leading military personnel, according to
Krasnaya zvezda and other Russian media on 29 and 30 May. While
Grachev's remarks mainly focused on Russia's displeasure with the
prospective eastward expansion of NATO, he argued that "a number of West
European countries and Turkey" are seeking to thwart CIS integration. In
a thinly veiled reference to Turkey, he noted that "strategic aims" were
being pursued in efforts to reduce Russia's influence in the Black Sea,
Transcaucasus, and Central Asia--areas in which Turkey has officially
claimed an interest. He went on to suggest that Turkey is attempting to
hinder Russia's efforts to integrate these countries more closely into
the CIS, and is even encouraging them to adopt a hostile attitude toward
Russia. -- Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIAN PASSENGER TRAINS RE-ROUTED TO AVOID UKRAINE. Russian passenger
trains bound for popular Black Sea resorts like Sochi will be rerouted
this summer to avoid passing through Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 30
May. Beginning on 2 June, most trains heading to the Russian Black Sea
coast from Moscow and points north will be routed through Voronezh in
order to avoid lengthy delays caused by customs and passport controls at
the Russian-Ukrainian border, which had to be crossed twice on the
previous route. Railway Ministry officials said the new route will take
less time, even though it is longer. -- Scott Parrish

PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN MONGOLIA. Russian Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev and Mongolian Prime Minister Puntsagiyn Jasray signed a
bilateral parliamentary cooperation agreement in Ulaanbaatar on 30 May,
ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement calls for regular exchanges of
legislators and local officals from the two countries, and also commits
both to harmonizing economic legislation in order to facilitate trade.
Seleznev expressed satisfaction that Mongolia views Russia as a
"strategic partner," and praised Ulaanbaatar for "doing everything
possible" to strengthen the Russian-Mongolian partnership. -- Scott
Parrish

WORLD BANK GIVES RUSSIA $89 MILLION LOAN TO DEVELOP FINANCIAL MARKETS.
The World Bank has agreed to open a $89 million credit line to Russia to
support the development of the country's financial markets, AFP reported
on 30 May. The credit is payable in 17 years with a five-year grace
period. Part of the loan will be spent on improving the markets'
regulatory infrastructure and on supplying telecommunications and
computer equipment. The remaining money will be used to create a
computerized system at the Finance Ministry for monitoring the issuance
of government securities. -- Natalia Gurushina

CORRECTION: In the OMRI Daily Digest of 28 May, the item "Constitutional
Court Begins Review of Organized Crime Decree," the second sentence
should have read: ...permitting suspects to be held for up to 30 days
without charges..

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ALIEV'S CRITICISM OF TURKEY. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev told a
conference in Baku that some groups in Turkey sympathize with unnamed
armed groups and individuals in Azerbaijan that are determined to
undermine the country's stability, Zaman reported on 31 May. He noted
that these Turkish groups are injurious to Turkish-Azerbaijani
relations. Aliev made his remarks at a conference organized by the
Turkish Economic Research Foundation, entitled "Azerbaijan-Turkey
Economic Cooperation." Aliev called on Turkish businessmen to put profit
"second" in considering whether to invest in Azerbaijan. -- Lowell
Bezanis

STALEMATE OVER KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA NEGOTIATIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN. Judge
Iraida Fadina's efforts to resolve the dispute between the editors of
Komsomolskaya pravda and the Procurator General's Office (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 30 May 1996) have been inconclusive so far, ITAR-TASS reported
on 31 May. Fadina said the court hearing, scheduled for 7 June, can be
revoked only if the Procurator General's Office withdraws its petition
for a ban on the newspaper or if Komsomolskaya pravda issues a public
apology. Komsomolskaya pravda denies allegations by the Union of Writers
of Kazakhstan and the procuracy that it incited ethnic tension by
publishing the views of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The chairman of the
government's National Agency for Press and Mass Media, Altynbek
Sarsenbayev, has endorsed the ban on the Kazakhstani edition of the
Russian newspaper. -- Bhavna Dave

KINKEL VISITS UZBEKISTAN, KAZAKHSTAN. German Foreign Minister Klaus
Kinkel arrived in Almaty after a one-day visit to Tashkent, Russian and
Western media reported on 31 March. Kinkel, who is accompanied by 20
entrepreneurs and a parliamentary delegation, described Uzbekistan as a
"peaceful center in Central Asia." In Uzbekistan, Kinkel signed economic
cooperation agreements in the field of chemical engineering,
communications, agriculture, and energy, and agreed to take measures to
improve the investment climate. Germany is among the top trading
partners for both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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