There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 111, Part I, 7 June 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

NAZRAN TALKS ADJOURN WITHOUT AGREEMENT. The Russian-Chechen talks in
Nazran adjourned for three days on 6 June after the two sides failed to
sign a written agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
Chechen side continues to insist that a Russian troop withdrawal should
precede demilitarization, and that the elections to a new People's
Assembly scheduled for 16 June should be postponed. The Russian
delegation proposes that the Russian troop withdrawal and the disarming
of Chechen detachments proceed simultaneously. The head of the Russian
delegation, Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, condemned the
Chechen position as "unconstructive and unrealistic," Radio Rossii
reported. The spokesman for the Russian government commission for a
settlement of the conflict, Sergei Slipchenko, sharply criticized
Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev for making disparaging comments about
the Chechen separatist leadership, according to Russian Public TV (ORT).
Moskovskie novosti (issue no. 22) predicted that Zavgaev would be
replaced soon, possibly by former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan
Khasbulatov. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN SAYS THERE IS NO WAR IN CHECHNYA. . . On a campaign swing
through Tver, President Boris Yeltsin claimed that "there is no war in
Chechnya, it is only a battle with crime," NTV reported 6 June. He said
all that remained of the resistance was small bands of "three, five, or
10 people." In a conversation with the oblast leadership, Yeltsin called
for a treaty between the federal government and Tver as a way to solve
the economically depressed region's problems. He criticized local
authorities for not keeping tight control over the enterprise directors
in their area, arguing that many of the directors had simply stopped
working. He accused some directors of holding up wage payments to their
employees even though they had the money to pay them. -- Robert Orttung

. . .AND SIGNS DECREE ON IMPLEMENTING HIS DECREES. While in Tver, the
president signed a decree that specifies penalties for bureaucrats who
do not carry out presidential decrees. The punishments range from
administrative discipline to being fired, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported on 6 June. Yeltsin said that "I constantly hear: the decree is
not working, the law does not function" and called on ordinary citizens
to point out who was ignoring these orders, ITAR-TASS reported. The
constitution requires that Yeltsin's decrees be implemented throughout
Russia. Yeltsin is obviously concerned about the general collapse in the
state's ability to carry out its functions but apart from issuing yet
another decree seems to have no real plan to solve the problem. Yeltsin
remarked that he signed the decree at 3.00 am. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV DECLARES "NO CIVIL WAR AFTER THE ELECTION." During a campaign
stop in Krasnoyarsk, Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov said that if
he wins the election but is not allowed to take office, people could
take to the streets and say "'we voted and we demand that our will be
implemented.'" He predicted that this demonstration would be "peaceful"
and in accordance with "European standards." Describing himself as "the
most peaceful man on the planet," Zyuganov said that "there will be no
civil war after the presidential election." -- Robert Orttung

LDPR DEPUTY PROPOSES PACT ON SOCIAL POLICY. Sergei Kalashnikov, chairman
of the Duma Committee on Labor and Social Policy, proposed on 6 June
that all presidential candidates sign a "social pact" setting the
fundamental terms for adopting a new social policy. According to
Kalashnikov, whoever wins the election will be a "hostage" to his own
campaign promises and will be forced to work with political opponents to
implement a new policy. Kalashnikov is a leading member of Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; he declined to say who
he would support if President Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov face each
other in the second round. His proposal dovetails with Zhirinovsky's
recent offers to form a coalition with various presidential rivals.
Appearing on Russian TV (RTR) on 6 June, Zhirinovsky struck a similarly
conciliatory tone, saying the country should not be divided into
opposing groups of communists, democrats, and patriots. -- Laura Belin
in Moscow

YAVLINSKII SLAMS YELTSIN "TRICKS". . . President Yeltsin's recent
maneuvers on the Chechen crisis, including his 28 May trip to Grozny and
his negotiations with separatist representatives in Moscow, were merely
campaign "tricks" rather than serious attempts to end the war, according
to Grigorii Yavlinskii. He said on 6 June that Yeltsin's campaign is
violating the law on presidential elections by doling out gifts to
voters funded at the taxpayers' expense. He added that the media is
"manipulated" and engages in censorship to keep candidates other than
Yeltsin off news programs. Yavlinskii told OMRI that a 5 June article in
Moskovskii komsomolets, which alleged that his campaign is fraught with
internal discord and mismanagement of party finances, was not important
because, he argued, in any party with thousands of workers and
volunteers, there is bound to be disagreement. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

LUZHKOV'S RUNNING MATE INJURED IN BLAST. Valerii Shantsev, who is
running for the post of deputy mayor of Moscow, and an aide were injured
on 7 June in an explosion at the entrance to Shantsev's apartment block,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Shantsev, Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov's running mate in the 16 June mayoral election, was hospitalized
and is said to be in a satisfactory condition. Currently prefect of
Moscow's southern okrug, Shantsev was a secretary of the Moscow City
Communist Party Committee from 1990 to 1991. -- Penny Morvant

ST. PETERSBURG GOVERNOR APPOINTS DEPUTY. The day after his inauguration,
St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev appointed Vyacheslav
Shcherbakov as his first deputy, Radio Rossii reported on 6 June.
Shcherbakov had been a gubernatorial candidate but withdrew from the
race before the first round of election and threw his support behind
Yakovlev. Currently a deputy of the city Legislative Assembly, he was
elected former Mayor Anatolii Sobchak's deputy mayor in 1991 but was
dismissed by Sobchak in 1994 after supporting the rebel federal
parliament in its October 1993 clash with the president. Shcherbakov is
a rear admiral and professor at the St. Petersburg Naval Academy. In the
December 1995 parliamentary election he ran on the unsuccessful party
list of the Ivan Rybkin bloc. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA CONDUCTS ICBM TEST. Russia successfully tested an SS-19 ICBM on 6
June, ITAR-TASS reported. The 20-year-old missile was launched from the
Baikonur cosmodrome and all six warheads hit their designated targets in
Kamchatka Oblast. According to Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, chief of staff of
the Russian strategic missile forces, this was the 26th ICBM test since
1991. He added that despite its age the missile performed without any
malfunction. -- Constantine Dmitriev

FOREIGN MINISTRY: BERLIN MEETING A SUCCESS FOR RUSSIA. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Grigorii Karasin declared on 6 June that at the recent meeting
in Berlin between Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his NATO
counterparts, NATO had "heard Russia's worries" and "dropped the idea
that expansion was determined," Reuters reported, citing Interfax.
Karasin argued that NATO leaders are now reconsidering the alliance's
enlargement because of Yeltsin's firm position on the issue. The same
day, the presidential administration newspaper, Rossiiskie vesti,
published an article contending that the meeting showed that NATO had
now adopted a "sober" and "realistic" position, realizing that Russian
interests must be considered in any decisions about enlargement.
However, speaking in Rome on the same day, NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana reiterated that "enlargement of the alliance will take place,"
although he added that any expansion "must take into account" Russian
concerns. -- Scott Parrish

WEU HEAD IN MOSCOW. Beginning a two-day visit, the secretary-general of
the West European Union (WEU), Jose Cutileiro, discussed European
security and Russian-WEU cooperation with Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov on 6 June, Western agencies reported. Cutileiro, the
first head of the 14-member organization to visit Moscow, said the WEU
wants to increase cooperation with Russia, although he admitted that
currently there are "not many" areas of cooperation. While silent on the
issue of NATO enlargement, the WEU chief noted that Russia plays an
important role in European security, and predicted that there would be
no renewed confrontation between Russia and the West, no matter who wins
the upcoming Russian election. Cutileiro is also scheduled to meet with
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and parliamentary deputies. -- Scott
Parrish

RUSSIAN-NORTH KOREAN RAILROAD DISPUTE. Railway officials in Primorskii
Krai told ITAR-TASS on 6 June that they will continue to block rail
traffic into North Korea because of Pyongyang's failure to pay a $20
million debt. Since the beginning of May, the railway has refused to let
any trains cross the border, said spokesman Yurii Khomichuk, adding that
prior to the blockade, about 50 freight cars per day crossed into North
Korea, currently undergoing severe economic difficulties. On the same
day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov said Russia does
not intend to politicize the dispute, and hopes for a speedy resolution
but added that the Russian Far East has suffered considerable economic
losses as the result of North Korea's failure to pay its debts. -- Scott
Parrish

OMON BREAKS UP SHIPYARD WORKERS' PROTEST. OMON special militia
detachments were used to disperse the Gorokhovets shipyard workers who
blocked the main Moscow-Nizhnii Novgorod highway on 5 June to protest
wage arrears, Radio Rossii reported the following day. The Interior
Ministry forces were on guard at the gates of the plant on 6 June to
prevent further protests. Unable to adapt to economic reform, the
shipyard is on the verge of closure (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June
1996). -- Penny Morvant

FURTHER INTERNATIONAL LOANS FOR RUSSIA. The IMF has approved the release
of the fourth tranche ($330 million) of its $10.1 billion Extended
Facility Fund loan to Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. An IMF
working group reported that Russia had complied with the principles of
the credit agreement in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the World Bank
announced it will lend Russia $270 million to improve the health care
system, Kommersant-Daily reported on 6 June. Money will be spent on
training programs and purchasing medical equipment, much of which will
probably have to be imported. -- Natalia Gurushina

SMALL BUSINESS UPDATE. There are 877,000 small businesses in Russia,
accounting for about 15% of the labor force and 12% of Russia's GDP,
Vyacheslav Prokhorov, chairman of the State Committee for the Support of
Small Business, told ITAR-TASS on 6 June. Small businesses--defined as
those with less than 200 workers--employ 8.9 million people full-time
and another 5 million part-time. Their number has shrunk by 2% since
1994. Private investment in the sector reached about 28 trillion rubles
($5.6 billion) by the start of 1996. These are all official estimates;
the inclusion of informal activity would boost the role of small
businesses considerably. Factors holding back their development include
high taxes, bureaucratic red-tape, and pressure from extortionists. --
Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA'S ARMENIAN COMMUNITY AGAIN RAISES QUESTION OF AUTONOMY. The
predominantly ethnic Armenian population of Georgia's Akhaltsikhe and
Akhalkalaki raions, which border on Armenia, took advantage of Armenian
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan's visit to the region on 5 June to demand
some degree of autonomy, NTV reported. The Georgian Interior Ministry
has refuted Georgian media reports that Armenian military units violated
the frontier and advanced 4 km into Georgian territory, according to BGI
on 6 June. There are approximately 500,000 Armenians in Georgia, or 10%
of the entire population. -- Liz Fuller

KAZAKHSTAN WRITES OFF FARM DEBTS. Faced with a severe economic crisis,
the Kazakhstani government has decided to write off half the debt of
agricultural commodity producers, including the entire amount of
interest owed, Deputy Prime Minister Zhanibek Karibzhanov told ITAR-TASS
at a press conference on 6 June. The government has also decided to
write off the farmers' arrears in electricity payments until the period
ending on 1 May. A total $300 million of debt has been written off. --
Bhavna Dave

JAPAN PLEDGES MONEY FOR KYRGYZ AIRPORT. Kyrgyz officials announced on 6
June that Japan will extend a $55 million credit to Kyrgyzstan for
improving the Manas Airport in Bishkek, RFE/RL and AFP reported. Japan
has invested about $160 million in Kyrgyzstan since the Central Asian
nation gained independence in 1991. The same day the Asian Development
Bank announced that it will provide a $30 million concessional loan to
Kyrgyzstan to upgrade its power and heating sector. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIK REFUGEES A PROBLEM IN ALTAI KRAI. Refugees from Tajikistan who
have turned to begging in order to live are creating a large problem in
Russia's Altai Krai and Gornyi Altai Republic, ITAR-TASS reported on 6
June. Viktor Oblogin, the mayor of Gorno-Altaisk, the republic's
capital, expelled the Tajiks from the city and in so doing created a
problem in neighboring Altai Krai. The report claims Tajik beggars lined
the streets and often carried disease such as malaria and cholera. The
forced relocation of the Tajiks has already begun. Buses have brought
them to a no man's land called "Freedom Valley" on the border of the
Gornyi Altai Republic and Altai Krai. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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