Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 113, Part I, 11 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

AGREEMENT REACHED AT CHE-CHEN TALKS. Russian and Chechen delegations on
10 June reached agreement during talks in Nazran on the postponement of
the election to a new People's Assembly--currently scheduled for 16
June--until after the withdrawal of all Russian troops, Russian and
Western agencies reported. This agreement removed the last remaining
obstacle to the signing of two separate protocols by Russian
Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov and Chechen Chief of Staff
Aslan Maskhadov--one on the withdrawal of Russian troops by late August
and the surrender of weapons by Chechen militants, and the second on the
release of all hostages and prisoners of war. On 11 June, Russian forces
began pulling out of the mountainous regions of southern Chechnya,
according to AFP. Pro-Moscow First Deputy Chechen Prime Minister Nikolai
Koshman criticized the decision to postpone the election, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN REJECTS BILL ON TRANSFER OF POWER. Presidential legal adviser
Mikhail Krasnov said that the president would not sign the proposed law
on the transfer of power on 10 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Krasnov warned
that the Communists plan to use the law as a way to inaugurate Zyuganov
as president even if he does not win the election. He also criticized
the bill as having a "political character" as witnessed by its
appearance on the eve of the election. According to the bill, the newly
elected president takes over 30 days after the results are announced and
will have a say in the last decisions of the outgoing president. --
Robert Orttung

FILATOV PROPOSES MOVING RUNOFF TO A WEEKDAY. President Boris Yeltsin's
main campaign leader, Sergei Filatov, said that the idea of holding the
second round of the presidential election on Wednesday, 3 July instead
of Sunday, 7 July is currently being "considered," ITAR-TASS reported.
The Central Electoral Commission is now planning on holding the runoff
on 7 July, but the electoral law only specifies that a second round must
be held within two weeks after the official results of the first round
are announced. Filatov is concerned that many of Yeltsin's supporters
might not return from their dachas to vote, while the committed
communist electorate is more likely to turn out. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV PRAISES STALIN. Communist presidential candidate Gen-nadii
Zyuganov told the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Hirlap that "if Stalin had
lived five or six years longer, the Soviet Union would have been
undefeatable for ages," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 June. Zyuganov made
similar comments in his book Beyond the Horizon. When asked how many
people died under Stalin, he said that "today, it is possible, that more
citizens bear the slaves' yoke in camps than in Stalin's time." He also
blamed the repression of the period not on Stalin, who was Georgian, but
on "elements foreign to the [Russian] nation," such as Genrikh Yagoda,
Lavrenti Beria, Lev Mekhlis, and Lazar Kaganovich. Zyuganov has been
careful during the campaign to present himself as a moderate, and such
reported statements play into the hands of President Yeltsin's
propagandists, who are trying to portray Zyuganov and his team as
extremists. -- Robert Orttung

TsIK, YELTSIN TO COMBAT FALSIFICATION. Central Electoral Commission
Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said that he is tightening the procedures used
for voting outside of a polling place, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 June.
Mobile urns can only come to a voter's residence if he submits a written
request. The ballots will be considered invalid if observers are not
allowed to accompany the urns. Yeltsin's advisers have charged that the
Communists used the mobile ballot boxes to increase their vote in the
1995 Duma election. Meanwhile, Yeltsin's campaign organization announced
that it will conduct a parallel count of voting returns from all 93,000
polling places on 16 June, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 June. The Communists
have already announced plans to hold their own parallel count. Filatov
said his group would monitor both the Communists and the TsIK. -- Robert
Orttung

FIVE CANDIDATES APPEAR IN ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION. Vlad-imir Zhirinovsky,
Aman Tuleev, Vladimir Bryntsalov, Yurii Vlasov, and Martin Shakkum took
part in a round-table discussion broadcast on Russian TV (RTR) on 10
June. There were no heated exchanges among the participants, as their
criticism was mostly directed at President Yeltsin and his policies. All
the candidates promised to revive production, provide social guarantees
to the population, and fight corruption. In keeping with his role as
Gennadii Zyuganov's backup candidate, Tuleev asked voters to support the
"popular-patriotic bloc" rather than himself personally. -- Laura Belin
in Moscow

PRIMAKOV: RUSSIA WILL NOT RELENT ON NATO. In an interview with
Komsomolskaya pravda published on 11 June, Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov denied reports that Russia has softened its opposition
on NATO expansion. Reacting to Western commentary on his 4 June meeting
with NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, Primakov said Russia's position
on NATO enlargement remained unchanged, and repeated that Moscow could
not accept the expansion of NATO military infrastructure into areas near
Russia. He reiterated, however, that it is still possible to "agree" on
a compromise resolution. If a compromise is not found, Primakov said
Russia will be forced to take countermeasures, including forming a CIS
military alliance and revising arms control agreements. But he expressed
optimism that Western leaders are increasingly "coming to understand the
importance of the Russian factor." -- Scott Parrish

COURT ACQUITS MAN ACCUSED OF MURDERING ORTHODOX PRIEST. A Moscow Oblast
court has acquitted Igor Bushnev of murdering reformist Russian Orthodox
priest Aleksandr Men in September 1990, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The judge presiding over the court in Sergiev Posad ruled on
10 June that the defendant had made a false confession under duress. The
regional Procurator's Office will now have to reopen the investigation.
Bushnev's lawyer alleged on 5 June that, under pressure to solve the
case, law enforcement officers headed by Vladimir Kolesnikov, now deputy
interior minister, had forced Bushnev to make a confession. Bushnev
twice admitted to killing Men but later retracted his statements. Men's
son had long publicly expressed doubts about Bushnev's guilt. -- Penny
Morvant

FOOD RATIONING TO BE ABOLISHED IN ULYANOVSK. An Ulyan-ovsk Oblast
official said on 10 June that the system of food rationing still in
operation in the region will be abolished during the second half of the
year, ITAR-TASS reported. Ulyanovsk, a communist stronghold, is the last
area to retain coupons that allow residents to buy subsidized food
products. Thanks to the system, the oblast has the lowest cost of living
in the country, but wages are also low. The number of commodities
covered by the system and the degree of subsidization have already been
reduced because of the financial difficulties of local companies,
including the Ulyanovsk Motor Works, whose contributions to the regional
budget financed the scheme. Low-income groups will now receive benefits
directly. -- Penny Morvant

SBERBANK BEGINS TO COMPENSATE SAVERS. The Russian Savings Bank
(Sberbank) began on 10 June to pay compensation to savers whose deposits
were devalued due to the high inflation triggered by economic reforms,
NTV reported. Under a May presidential decree, people born in 1916 or
earlier are now entitled to compensation of up to 1 million rubles
($200) for Sberbank accounts opened before 20 June 1991. Deposits (up to
a maximum of 1,000 1991 rubles) are being indexed according to a sliding
scale ranging from 600 times for accounts closed in 1992 to 1,000 times
for accounts still open or closed in 1996. The compensation does not
fully allow for inflation, which was more than 2,500% in 1992 alone. RTR
quoted Sberbank President Andrei Kazmin as estimating that payments
could total 4.5 trillion rubles. The question of how to compensate
younger savers has still to be resolved. -- Penny Morvant

CENTRAL BANK PROMISES TO TIGHTEN MONETARY POLICY. Central Bank Chairman
Sergei Dubinin said on 10 June that the bank will take steps to
neutralize the inflationary impact of transferring $1 billion from the
bank's reserves to the budget, ITAR-TASS reported. The measures will
include raising reserve requirements on banks' 30-day deposits from 18%
to 20%, reducing the limits on banks' open currency positions to 20%,
and suspending lombard credit auctions. Dubinin said the Central Bank
has boosted the money supply by a total of 25 trillion rubles ($5
billion) over the last three months, including 13 trillion in the last
two weeks. To keep down inflation, the bank sold $3 billion of its
foreign exchange reserves, reducing them from $16 billion to $12.5
billion. -- Natalia Gurushina

PROBLEM OF ENTERPRISE DEBT PERSISTS. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets, speaking in Irkutsk on 11 June, said that 35% of industrial
enterprises and 59% of transport firms are now technically bankrupt,
ITAR-TASS reported. By the end of April, indebtedness in the economy
totaled 719 trillion rubles ($140 million)--about 40% of GDP--of which
314 trillion rubles are overdue. Late payments to the budget totaled 67
trillion rubles by the end of March, including 26 trillion rubles to the
federal budget. Western economists differ over whether inter-firm debt
is really a crushing burden for the Russian economy; even developed
market economies have inter-firm credits of around 15% of GDP. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION PARTY BLASTS CFE TREATY QUOTA. The National
Democratic Party of Georgia has released a statement categorically
opposing the Georgian Defense Ministry's decision to give Russia half of
Georgia's conventional weapons quota under the CFE treaty, and urging
parliament to reject the law on the deployment of Russian military bases
in the country, BGI news agency reported on 8 June. The statement
charges that such decisions are the prerogative of the president and the
parliament, not the military. The Georgian Defense Ministry press center
defended the decision, saying the state lacks funds to purchase arms and
under the plan Russia will provide military equipment for Georgia's half
of the quota. (The CFE treaty sets Georgia's quota at 220 tanks, 220
armored vehicles, 285 artillery installations, 100 planes, and 50
helicopters.) -- Irakli Tsereteli

TRANSCAUCASIAN INTELLIGENCE, MILITARY ROUND-UP. Following the 6 June
visit of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Vyacheslav
Trubnikov to Baku, Azerbaijani National Security Minister Namig Abbasov
said the two sides had reached a "verbal" agreement to cooperate,
according to a 9 June Interfax report monitored by the BBC. Cooperation
will involve the coordination of intelligence activities, staff
training, and exchanges of information, Turan reported on 7 June.
Meanwhile, a delegation from Tur-key's National Intelligence
Organization held talks with officials of Georgia's Security Ministry on
7 June, according to an Iprinda report monitored by the BBC on the same
day. Also, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Sefer Abiev and Turkish Chief of
Staff Hakki Karadayi signed a military agreement on technical,
scientific, and educational cooperation in Ankara on 10 June, Turkish
media reported. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT DELAYS CRUCIAL VOTE. The Kazakh-stani parliament
on 10 June postponed by 48 hours voting on an amendment to the pension
law, raising fears of a no-confidence vote in the government, Russian
and Western media reported the same day. A second failure to pass the
bill, which was already rejected on 23 May, would constitutionally
require President Nursultan Nazar-bayev to either dissolve parliament or
dismiss the government. The amendment would raise by three years the age
of retirement in Kazakhstan, from 60 to 63 for men and 55 to 58 for
women. Lawmakers apparently fear a loss of public support if they vote
in favor of the bill. There is one pensioner for every two workers in
Kazakhstan, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTAN UNHAPPY WITH CHINESE NUCLEAR TEST. The Kazakhstani Foreign
Ministry on 10 June expressed its concern over a Chinese nuclear test
conducted on 8 June at the Lop Nor testing area, Reuters reported.
Russia and Mongolia also voiced their displeasure at the test especially
as the Chinese had stated their intention to join the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT) just two days earlier. China announced it will conduct
one more test in September. -- Bruce Pannier

UN NEAR END OF THE ROPE IN TAJIKISTAN. UN Secretary-General Boutros
Boutros Ghali on 10 June questioned "the sincerity and intentions" of
the Tajik opposition and government in resolving the civil conflict in
Tajikistan, now entering its fifth year, Reuters and AFP reported. Ghali
noted the situation had deteriorated and is now at its worst stage since
the civil war in 1992. The UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT)
has been denied access to areas held by both sides and a patrol came
under sniper fire in May, and later a UN team was detained for three
hours and robbed in an area under rebel control. The opposition denies
responsibility. Meanwhile, the new UN special envoy to Tajikistan, Gerd
Merrem, announced that talks between the two sides could resume in July.
-- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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