In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires. - Ben Franklin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 116, Part I, 14 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

ORT BROADCASTS YELTSIN INTERVIEW ON EVE OF ELECTION. On the morning of
14 June, the last day campaigning is allowed in the mass media, Russian
Public TV (ORT) broadcast a lengthy interview with President Boris
Yeltsin. Helped along by friendly questioning, Yeltsin repeated some of
his main campaign themes, insisting that the reforms should be finished
by the person who started them and that a Communist return to power
would lead to violence. When asked about Chechnya, Yeltsin emphasized
that he never declared a war "against the Chechen people" and personally
felt pain for every soldier killed there; however, he argued, the
military campaign was absolutely necessary to prevent the disintegration
of Russia. At the end of the interview, Yeltsin reminded voters that the
16 June vote will "decide Russia's fate." The interviewer then wished
Yeltsin "victory, victory, and victory." -- Laura Belin in Moscow

YELTSIN SIGNS MORE POWER-SHARING AGREEMENTS. President Yeltsin on 13
June signed power-sharing agreements with Tver, St. Petersburg, and
Leningrad Oblast, ORT reported. Since 1994, he has signed agreements
with 26 federation members--15 of them since the beginning of the
presidential campaign--in an effort to win the support of regional
leaders. Yeltsin will wind up his campaign on 14 June in his hometown of
Yekaterinburg, the city where he launched his campaign. Presidential
political adviser Georgii Satarov said that Yeltsin "remains open" to
political consultations with leaders of all parties, including the
Communists, although he still hopes for a victory in the first round.
Satarov did not exclude the possibility of negotiations before the
runoff. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV QUESTIONS OPINION POLL REPORTS. "We are confidently heading
toward the election and, in fact, have already won," Communist candidate
Gennadii Zyuganov told ITAR-TASS on 13 June. Zyuganov rejected recent
opinion polls showing Yeltsin in the lead, saying that two-thirds of the
country support the program of his bloc. If victorious, he said that he
would form a government of national trust based on consultations with
major business and political groups, NTV reported. He said that he
considers the presidency a "heavy burden" and that if he was not
committed to public service "with my connections, I could become a very
rich man in Russia." He invited Yeltsin to a televised debate on 14
June. The main candidates did not show up for debates planned on 13
June, however, and ORT canceled them. Zyuganov refused to participate in
Yeltsin's absence. Meanwhile, the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Hirlap
confirmed the authenticity of Zyuganov's recent interview praising
Stalin, noting that historian Miklos Kun had recorded it on 31 May, the
BBC reported, citing MTI (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 June 1996). -- Robert
Orttung

SCUFFLE OVER DUMA EXHIBIT. Three days before the presidential election
in Russia, an exhibit opened--and then quickly closed--at the State Duma
building with the title, "The Moscow Apocalypse." The exhibit includes
several photographs of the October 1993 armed clash between the
president and parliament. One part of the exhibit was labeled "Mass
executions near the Ostankino television center." An anti-communist
assistant to Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova took one part of it off the
wall and left. When the assistant came back, left-wing Agrarian deputy
Tatyana Astrakhankina, the author of the book on which the exhibit is
based, was waiting for him and started to hit him. The police arrived
and the exhibit was closed. -- Anne Nivat in Moscow

ZHIRINOVSKY SAYS HE WILL BE PRESIDENT IN 2000. Liberal Democratic Party
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on 13 June said that he would win the
presidency in the year 2000, NTV reported. By then, Yeltsin would no
longer be a candidate and the Communists would not be able to benefit
from popular dissatisfaction since the economy would have improved, he
reasoned. He also rejected any alliance with the Communists, saying it
would be good if he "did not sell out his voters." Overall, he gave his
campaign performance a "C." -- Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKII MAKES CASE FOR DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION. Appearing on NTV on 13
June, Grigorii Yavlinskii disputed the suggestion that his candidacy was
"quixotic," even though opinion polls show he has virtually no chance of
advancing to the second round. Every vote for the "democratic
opposition" is a vote to change Yeltsin's policies and decrease the
influence of more extreme opposition forces, Yavlinskii argued. He
asserted that if Zhirinovsky finishes third on 16 June, Yeltsin will
drift toward Zhirinovsky's policy stands before the second round. In
contrast, if the democratic opposition has a strong showing, Yeltsin
will be forced to meet some of Yavlinskii's demands, such as replacing
the prime minister and defense minister. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

LDPR SECRETARY KILLED IN SIBERIA. Vladimir Oberderfer, secretary of the
Novokuznetsk branch of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was shot
dead on 13 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. Zhirinovsky
argued that the murder was politically motivated, but the deputy
governor of Kemerovo Oblast said that the killing was probably connected
to Oberderfer's business dealings. According to the Moscow Oblast police
chief, the recent murder of Zhukovskii Mayor Viktor Mosolov (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 13 June 1996) was probably also a contract killing with an
economic motive. The presidential press office, however, was quick to
issue a statement saying that it was another act of terrorism meant to
intimidate voters on the eve of the election. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN ENDORSES CRIMINAL CODE. President Yeltsin approved the long
awaited Criminal Code on 13 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The code was
adopted by the Duma on 24 May and the Federation Council on 5 June and
will go into effect on 1 January 1997. It retains capital punishment but
reduces the number of crimes liable to the death penalty from 18 to five
and provides for life imprisonment. Presidential legal adviser Mikhail
Krasnov said on 8 June that the new code gives priority to crimes
against an individual rather than crimes against the state. It pays
particular attention to economic crimes, including concepts such as
unfair competition and money laundering. -- Penny Morvant

CHAIRMAN OF PRESIDENTIAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION CRITICIZES PREDECESSOR.
Vladimir Kartashkin, appointed to succeed Sergei Kovalev as chairman of
the presidential human rights commission on 20 May, criticized his
predecessor for paying more attention to violations of the human rights
of Chechens than to discrimination against ethnic Russians living in
Chechnya, Ekho Moskvy reported on 13 June. Kovalev, a sharp critic of
the government's policy in Chechnya, resigned in January after being
sidelined by the president. Kartashkin, a professor at the Academy of
Sciences' Institute of State and Law, clearly wants a less antagonistic
relationship with the authorities, saying that the human rights movement
should "move from the negative to the positive." Also on 13 June,
Yeltsin issued a decree on support for the human rights movement. Among
other provisions, it calls for the creation of an expert council under
the commission to be staffed by prominent human rights activists.
-- Penny Morvant

CHECHEN ELECTION IMBROGLIO CONTINUES. Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan
Maskhadov on 13 June threatened an "incredible" response if the election
to a new Chechen parliament is not postponed, Russian and Western media
reported. Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said that if the
election went forward on 14-16 June, as scheduled by the pro-Moscow Doku
Zavgaev government, he would not abide by the peace agreement recently
signed at Nazran. President Yeltsin has apparently decided to remain
aloof from the dispute, announcing in St. Petersburg that the timing of
the election is a local matter. However, Russian presidential adviser
Emil Pain later said that even if the scheduled election was held now, a
new election could be called after the demilitarization process is
completed. Meanwhile, NTV reported that Maskhadov and Russian Gen.
Vyacheslav Tikhomirov had met the same day to discuss implementing the
demilitarization agreement. -- Scott Parrish

DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN SYRIA. Viktor Posuvalyuk, continuing his
Middle East tour, met with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq-al-Shara in
Damascus on 13 June, Western agencies reported. Posuvalyuk and Shara
discussed the effect of the election victory of Israeli Likud leader
Benjamin Netanyahu on the Middle East peace process, as well as
bilateral issues. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN SHARE OF WORLD ARMS TRADE UP. Russia's share of global arms
deliveries jumped from 4% in 1994 to 17% in 1995, according to the
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Reviewing
SIPRI's annual yearbook on 13 June, Reuters reported that the U.S.
remained the largest supplier, with 43% of the market. Meanwhile, Sergei
Svechnikov, chairman of the State Committee for Military-Technical
Policy, announced that Russian arms exports in the first five months of
1996 had increased by 30% over the same period in 1995, Radio Rossii
reported. He attributed the increase to improved government support for
arms exporters. -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish

WAGE ARREARS SEEN AS POLITICAL INSTRUMENT. Presidential economics
adviser Aleksandr Livshits contended on 13 June that some enterprise
directors have deliberately withheld wage payments to provoke
dissatisfaction among workers for political reasons, shifting the blame
onto the local or federal authorities, ORT reported. He said, for
example, that a factory director in Omsk who is also a leading member of
the local Communist Party branch delayed wages for four months although
the company had money in the bank. In its pre-election campaign against
wage arrears this year, the government has repeatedly dwelled on the
role corrupt managers have played in exacerbating the problem,
presumably in an attempt to divert attention away from its own
shortcomings. -- Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT PROMPT TAXPAYERS. Following a meeting with the
Orenburg Oblast administration, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
announced that the tax reform scheduled to commence in 1997 will reward
enterprises that pay taxes on time and do not resort to barter
operations, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 June. He said the tax on such
companies' profits will be cut by 3.5% and they will become priority
recipients of centralized investment (on a competitive basis). Such
companies will also be provided with government credits to increase
their working capital. Chernomyrdin said the government intends to clamp
down on tax dodgers by granting tax deferrals only if companies file for
bankruptcy. -- Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA, U.S. SIGN FISHING AGREEMENT. The deputy head of the Russian
Fishing Committee, Vyacheslav Zilanov, and U.S. Ambassador to Russia
Thomas Pickering on 13 June signed an agreement granting Russia
exclusive control of all fishing grounds in the Sea of Okhotsk, ITAR-
TASS reported. The area (2.7% of the sea's territory) is surrounded by
Russia's 200-mile economic zone. Until now, fishing in this area has not
been regulated, depleting the reserves in Russia's economic zone.
-- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS U.S. AID BILL. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
met with the U.S. ambassador to Baku on 13 June to protest a
congressional bar on U.S. aid to Baku, Reuters reported the same day.
Aliev said relations between the two countries would be "seriously
damaged" if Congress approved a foreign aid bill that envisages only a
slight easing of the ban on aid to Azerbaijan with separate aid
treatment for Nagorno-Karabakh. Aliev said that in treating Nagorno-
Karabakh separately from Azerbaijan, the amendment infringes on
Azerbaijan's sovereignty. -- Lowell Bezanis

ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK CREDIT TO KAZAKHSTAN. The Islamic Development
Bank (IDB) will offer a $298,000 credit line to Kazakhstan for the
construction of a Karaganda-Akmola highway, ITAR-TASS reported on 14
June. The IDB credit offer follows a memorandum of understanding on
Kazakhstan's membership in the IDB signed by Prime Minister Akezhan
Kazhegeldin and IDB President Ahmed Muhammed Ali. -- Bhavna Dave

LAST STATE-OWNED BANK IN KYRGYZSTAN TO BE LIQUIDATED. The Kyrgyz Supreme
Court of Arbitration on 30 May declared the state-owned Kyrgyzelbank
insolvent, and appointed a liquidator, the BBC reported. The bank was in
a financial crisis due to what the court described as the "management's
poorly thought out" policy on attracting deposits and crediting, and the
Kyrgyz government's failure to return 29.8 million som (about $2.7
million) to the bank. The Kyrgyz court ordered the government to take
measures to repay Kyrgyzelbank's investors as soon as possible -- Bruce
Pannier

TAJIK GOVERNMENT DENIES BOMBING TAVIL-DARA. Tajik presidential press
spokesman Zafar Saidov on 13 June described opposition reports that the
town of Tavil-Dara has been almost totally destroyed as "outright
fabrication," according to ITAR-TASS. The opposition claims that Russian
bombers leveled the town in a series of raids on 11 June. Saidov stated
that Russian planes are used only to guard the Tajik-Afghan border and
lately have flown to areas in eastern Tajikistan in order to deliver
humanitarian aid but do not fly missions in support of Tajik military
operations. Saidov also admitted that the Tajik army has its own
warplanes but added that they have not been used because of the fear of
inflicting civilian casualties. These claims cannot be independently
confirmed as journalists and UN observers have been kept away from the
scene of the fighting. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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