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No. 117, Part I, 17 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 YELTSIN HOLDS NARROW LEAD. Preliminary results of the first round of the Russian presidential election available at noon, Moscow time, covering 89% of the electorate: Turnout - 72% Boris Yeltsin - 34.80% Gennadii Zyuganov - 32.31% Aleksandr Lebed - 14.38% Grigorii Yavlinskii - 7.42% Vladimir Zhirinovsky - 5.97% Others - each below 1% Against all - 1.55% Since none of the candidates received a majority of the vote, a runoff will be held on 30 June or 7 July. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN CALLS FOR COALITION WITH LEBED, YAVLINSKII, FEDOROV SUPPORTERS. In a television address on the morning of 17 June, President Yeltsin said that following the first round of voting the choice is now clear between "turning back to revolutions and upheaval or forward to stability and wealth," ITAR-TASS reported. He called on the supporters of Aleksandr Lebed, Grigorii Yavlinskii, and Svyatoslav Fedorov to join him in the second round. The president's campaign manager, Sergei Filatov, said that Yeltsin would meet with Lebed on 17 June and ruled out any possibility of meeting with Zyuganov, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin, who had repeatedly said that he wanted to win in the first round, explained his failure to get more than 50% of the vote by saying that the people "voted for a new life" and divided their sympathies among several of the candidates. Yeltsin said that the main result of the voting is that Russia has held a "free, direct, and honest" election. -- Robert Orttung THIRD PLACE FINISH MAKES LEBED POSSIBLE KINGMAKER. Lebed is a much better third-place candidate for President Yeltsin than Zhirinovsky, according to ITAR-TASS commentator Tamara Zamyatina. VCIOM Director Yurii Levada said 32% of Lebed's voters prefer Yeltsin and12% Zyuganov. Levada's polls show that about 65% of Yavlinskii's supporters would back Yeltsin in the second round, while only 13% would vote for Zyuganov (see OMRI Russia Presidential Election Survey, no. 8, 12 June 1996). Presidential political adviser Georgii Satarov claimed that Yeltsin's main coalition strategy before the runoff would be to try to form an alliance with Lebed. In a 17 June interview, Lebed did not say whom he would support, but he stressed the need for "order," "reforms," "reforms in the military," and "suppressing crime." -- Robert Orttung COMMUNISTS SEEK CONSULTATIONS. Zyuganov said that he considered his showing a success since he won about a third of the vote. He said that his bloc would meet on 18 June to discuss the makeup of the government. He noted that the spot of prime minister is vacant and that he is planning to meet with Lebed to discuss "all issues connected with the election," ITAR-TASS reported. Communist campaign manager Valentin Kuptsov on 17 June said Zyuganov may cooperate with Lebed "to a certain degree" before the second round, ITAR-TASS reported. Additionally, the Communists will want to hold "serious talks at the highest level, including with Yeltsin's team," Duma deputy Vladimir Semago told ITAR- TASS. He said that the election was a competition of ideas rather than personalities, and the Communists would seek the support of Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Semago is not as warm about negotiating with Lebed as Kuptsov. -- Robert Orttung YABLOKO WORRIED ABOUT LARGE LEBED TURNOUT. Yabloko was shocked by Lebed's strong showing in the election and is concerned about the second round. The deputy head of the bloc's Duma faction, Aleksei Zakharov, said that it is unclear how many of Lebed's supporters would vote for Yeltsin, making it difficult to predict the results of the runoff, ITAR- TASS reported on 17 June. Yavlinskii rejected any cooperation with Zyuganov but said his participation in a Yeltsin government would depend on its composition, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 June. -- Robert Orttung OSCE: ELECTION GENERALLY FREE AND FAIR. Even before the final results had been tabulated, a delegation of 500 election monitors from the OSCE issued a preliminary statement on 17 June declaring the first round of the Russian presidential election "generally free and fair," Western agencies reported. Teams of OSCE observers had planned to visit about 2,500 of the some 93,000 polling places during the vote. The statement did note that some OSCE observers were concerned about biased election coverage in the state-owned media, and admitted that there had been scattered irregularities in some areas such as illegal proxy voting. AFP reported anecdotal evidence of violations in several parts of the country, notably in Chechnya, where the agency's correspondent was permitted to vote at several different polling stations after showing his French passport. Nikolai Ryabov, chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, said that there were no "serious" irregularities during the vote, and only a "miserly" number of minor procedural violations. -- Scott Parrish ELECTION PASSES OFF QUIETLY. Despite a number of bomb threats, no violence marred Russia's presidential election. Representatives of the Federal Security Service in Moscow said on 17 June that they had received 11 anonymous calls warning of bomb attacks in the capital and surrounding area, but all proved to be hoaxes, ITAR-TASS reported. Bomb threats were also made in Vladivostok, Stavropol, and Volgograd, but again no explosives were found. Security was tight on polling day amid fears of violence following the 11 June bomb on the Moscow metro that killed four people and the attack on Valerii Shantsev, Yurii Luzhkov's running mate in the capital's mayoral election. -- Penny Morvant NO MAJOR VIOLATIONS IN MEDIA CAMPAIGN. Anatolii Vengerov, chairman of the President's Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes, announced on 14 June that the presidential campaign in the media ran smoothly, with fewer violations of the law than occurred during the 1995 campaign for the State Duma. He claimed that although some candidates running for parliament last year openly used offensive campaign agitation, this spring only a few initiative groups or newspapers committed minor violations of the law, and none of the candidates could be blamed for those violations. Vengerov told OMRI that he did not view the Central Electoral Commission's "Vote or You Lose" commercials, some of which contained the slogan "Yeltsin--Our President," as hidden advertising for Yeltsin. Vengerov reasoned that the slogan did not constitute agitation on Yeltsin's behalf but was simply a statement of fact. -- Laura Belin in Moscow YELTSIN: MAJOR CABINET CHANGES ON THE WAY. Winding up his campaign in Yekaterinburg on 14 June, President Yeltsin rejected rumors that he would bring back into his cabinet "those people who started the reforms." However, he said there would be "serious changes" in the new government, bringing in new people "with fresh new ideas," ITAR-TASS reported. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the future composition of the cabinet is completely up to Yeltsin. Yeltsin said that by the year 2000 it will necessary to groom a new president "who knows people, who would be authoritative, who all Russians would love." He then said, "I know such a person" without naming him. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN TRIUMPHS IN MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBURG. As expected, President Yeltsin far outshone his rivals for the presidency in Russia's two largest cities, which have benefited the most from economic reform. With 45% of the vote counted, Yeltsin had almost 62% of the vote in the capital. Zyuganov was in second place, with just under 15%, and Lebed third with less than 10%. In Russia's second city, Yeltsin won about 50% of the vote. The liberal Grigorii Yavlinskii was second, with 15%, just ahead of Zyuganov and Lebed. -- Penny Morvant RESULTS SHOW NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE. According to preliminary returns from Russia's regions, Yeltsin did surprisingly well in the Far East and eastern Siberia, with the exception of the Amur region. He also came out on top in western Siberia and the Urals, although his Communist rival took Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, and Orenburg oblasts. In the Volga region, the two leading contenders performed about equal, with Yeltsin winning in Udmurtiya and Nizhnii Novgorod and Samara oblasts, and Zyuganov taking Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Ulyanovsk and Saratov oblasts. In general, Yeltsin did well in the north of the country, while Zyuganov was victorious in the south. As in the December Duma election, Zyuganov triumphed in the "red-belt" oblasts south of Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Penny Morvant CHECHEN ELECTION. Simultaneous voting for a new bicameral Chechen People's Assembly and in the Russian presidential election began in Chechnya as scheduled on 14 June, Russian media reported. The Chechen opposition initially refrained from carrying out its threats to disrupt the poll, but on 16 June some polling stations were forced to close early because of opposition threats. ITAR-TASS reported the final turnout as 58.9%, but Reuters questioned that figure. No voting took place in Vedeno Raion, which is controlled by the opposition. On 14 June, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev met with the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, after which the two men agreed to "coordinate future activities," according to ORT. Zavgaev had earlier criticized Guldimann's role in mediating talks between the Chechen opposition and the Russian leadership. -- Liz Fuller LUZHKOV WINS LANDSLIDE VICTORY IN MOSCOW MAYORAL POLL. As expected, popular incumbent Yurii Luzhkov triumphed in Moscow's mayoral election. With 99% of the vote counted, Luzhkov had more than 89%. His closest rival, Olga Sergeeva, had 5%, ITAR-TASS reported. Turnout was about 68%. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN SENDS NATIONAL SECURITY MESSAGE TO PARLIAMENT. President Yeltsin's 13 June national security message to the Federal Assembly was published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 14 June. Opposition deputies have long criticized Yeltsin for failing to present a national security concept. Despite its appearance on the eve of the presidential election, Yeltsin's spokesman denied the message was a "campaign document." Divided into five parts, the message outlines Yeltsin's vision of Russian national security policy for 1996-2000. It emphasizes that Russia's unique Eurasian location and its abundant natural resources make it "a great power." Rather than external issues like NATO expansion, however, it terms internal difficulties such as political instability and separatism as the most serious threats to Russian security. Arguing that instability in the CIS is the biggest external threat to Russia, the document calls for giving the region top priority in Russian policy. -- Scott Parrish GRACHEV OFFERS NATO COOPERATION IF IT REFRAINS FROM EXPANSION. Meeting in Brussels with his NATO counterparts on 14 June, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev endorsed closer cooperation between Russia and the alliance, international media reported. However, Grachev emphasized that such cooperation is "incompatible" with NATO expansion. Grachev endorsed making the current temporary Russian liaison office at NATO headquarters permanent. NATO liaison officers will reportedly be invited to work with the Russian General Staff. NTV reported that the Russian liaison office would be headed by a Colonel General, which ITAR-TASS claimed would lend it a "much higher status" than the liaison offices of other Partnership for Peace countries. Grachev's remarks seem designed to encourage NATO to compromise with Moscow over the terms of its enlargement. -- Scott Parrish ZHIRINOVSKY LINKED TO INTERNATIONAL ARMS SMUGGLER. Italian authorities plan to question Vladimir Zhirinovsky in Moscow about an international arms and nuclear material smuggling ring, the Sunday Times reported on 16 June. The paper reported that Zhirinovsky had been advised that he is under investigation because of his connections with a Slovene arms dealer who is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by an Italian judge. The dealer is suspected of selling military equipment obtained from the Russian mafia by Zhirinovsky aides. -- Doug Clarke SITUATION ON GOVERNMENT SECURITIES' MARKET WORSENS. The government's budgetary problems are causing a new wave of instability on the state securities market, pushing annual yields to 212%, Segodnya reported on 14 June. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told ITAR-TASS that the government is in control of the situation, and that the internal debt will not be rescheduled. Meanwhile, the government is facing a crisis on the state foreign bonds (OVVZ) market, following the Finance Ministry's announcement that the payment of stolen OVVZs with a nominal value of $30 million will be frozen pending criminal procedures, Kommersant-Daily reported on 15 June. Foreign banks may now declare OVVZs to be excessively risky, since some of them--including Solomon Brothers and CS First Boston--hold large amounts of these securities. The move may also have a negative impact on Russia's negotiations with the London Club of commercial creditors. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA PRISONER AMNESTY IN UZBEKISTAN. The Uzbek government has released 80 prisoners, including members of the banned organization Erk, Western media reported on 15 June. According to Reuters, among those released are Rashid Bekjon, brother of exiled Erk leader Mohammed Solih, Abdulla Abdurazzakov, and Safar Bekjon. All three had been found guilty of anti- government activities. So far, the amnesty has not been reported in the local media, nor has a clear explanation been given. The Uzbek government may be attempting to improve its human rights image in advance of President Islam Karimov's 21-30 June visit to the U.S. and following a recent Helsinki Watch report on human rights violations in the country. -- Roger Kangas RUSSIANS IN KAZAKHSTAN VOTE FOR YELTSIN. According to preliminary data released by the Russian Embassy in Almaty to ITAR-TASS on 16 June, 49.57% of the Russian electorate in Kazakhstan's capital voted for President Yeltsin; 16.36% voted for Gennadii Zyuganov and 13.39% for Aleksandr Lebed. -- Bhavna Dave [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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