|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 119, Part I, 19 June 1996
*********************************************************************** Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: email@example.com *********************************************************************** 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 LEBED CLAIMS TO FOIL COUP ATTEMPT. New Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed on 18 June said that he had prevented a coup by "circles close to the Defense Ministry" who were unhappy about the dismissal of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, NTV reported. Lebed said the coup plotters included five generals (Barynkin, Shulikov, Sitnov, Kharchenko, and Lapshov), the outgoing defense minister's press secretary, Yelena Agapova, and Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze. He said he took preventative measures but did not describe in detail how the coup was to have been carried out. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said he knew nothing about the alleged coup. -- Robert Orttung LEBED TO REVAMP SECURITY COUNCIL . . . Newly-appointed Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed declared on 18 June that he will subject the council to "shock therapy," and boost its role in policy-making, Russian agencies reported. Lebed said he will create a new "operational council" of the Security Council, consisting of permanently-delegated top officials from each of the ministries and agencies that have seats on the council. The operational council would monitor and control the implementation of Security Council decisions. Lebed added that Yeltsin will now coordinate all top personnel appointments in these ministries with him. Lebed's changes seem designed to transform the Security Council into a "super-ministry," supervising the "power ministries." President Yeltsin, however, is notorious for creating overlapping authority structures that allow him to maneuver among his subordinates, and ITAR-TASS on 18 June suggested that newly-appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov will oversee the "power ministries." -- Scott Parrish . . . BUT NOT OPPOSE NATO EXPANSION. Lebed also said that if NATO "has sufficient strength and money, then expand," Russian and Western agencies reported on 18 June. Lebed added that Russia is "no longer fighting with anyone," and has sufficient strength "not to redraw the political map," suggesting indifference to whether NATO accepts new members or not. However, he said that he would "find a way to make clear to British and American taxpayers" that the alliance's expansion would cost them about $250 billion. His remarks mirror comments he made in Nezavisimaya gazeta last month, when he suggested that Russia need not worry about NATO expansion, as Western politicians and voters would soon discover that its costs do not match the meager benefits it would bring. He suggested Russia could best cope with NATO expansion plans by reforming its military, to demonstrate that Russia presents no threat to its neighbors. -- Scott Parrish LEBED, ZYUGANOV MEET. Zyuganov and Lebed met on 19 June but did not make any significant agreements, ITAR-TASS reported, citing informed sources. After the meeting, Zyuganov did not rule out including Lebed in his government, saying that "all men who have knowledge, capability, and talent, who would like to serve the country," could enter his coalition, AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung SPECULATION ON GRACHEV SUCCESSOR. President Yeltsin will reportedly choose a new defense minister from among four candidates--acting Defense Minister Army General Mikhail Kolesnikov, former Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, former Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, and First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin--according to ITAR-TASS on 18 June, citing anonymous sources. Gromov, now a Duma deputy, and Mironov, now military adviser to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, were both forced out of the Defense Ministry by Grachev, while Kokoshin is the only civilian in the top ranks of the ministry. Ekho Moskvy and Komsomolskaya pravda tapped Kokoshin as the most likely candidate, while Izvestiya cautiously abstained from predictions, while adding former presidential national security aide Yurii Baturin to the list of possible replacements, as well as the Far Eastern Military District commander, Col. Gen. Viktor Chichevatov. -- Scott Parrish TENSION INCREASING AMONG YELTSIN ADVISERS. Tensions are increasing among President Yeltsin's campaign advisers, according to ITAR-TASS. At the 18 June meeting of Yeltsin's campaign staff, Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov recommended that the head of the All-Russian Movement for the Social Support of the President, Sergei Filatov, and council member Anatolii Chubais appear less often on TV, since "they do not make a good impression on the people." Other advisers, such as Aleksei Salmin, disagreed, saying that Filatov's soft-spoken manner made him popular among the intelligentsia. ITAR-TASS claimed that the aides are already jockeying for influence over the president in the expectation that he will win the second round. -- Robert Orttung YAVLINSKII REJECTS POSSIBILITY OF SERVING IN GOVERNMENT. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii rejected the possibility of serving in President Yeltsin's government, saying that "we do not need comfortable couches in big offices, we need a real opportunity to do something useful for Russia," ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. He said that under no circumstances would Yabloko back Zyuganov in the second round. Yavlinskii called on his supporters to participate in the second round, but he did not explicitly say to vote for Yeltsin. Many of his supporters may simply vote for none of the above, a move that would hurt Yeltsin's chances. -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV BACKS 3 JULY RUNOFF DATE. Zyuganov surprisingly said that he would back President Yeltsin's proposal to hold the runoff on 3 July, Reuters reported. Yeltsin believes that he will benefit from the higher turnout that may appear on a weekday. The Duma is expected to vote on the idea on 21 June. Additionally, a group of deputies has proposed changing the electoral law to extend the time that the polls are open from the current 8 a.m.-10 p.m. to 6 a.m.-midnight. -- Robert Orttung TsIK LACKS MONEY FOR SECOND ROUND. The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) currently does not have enough money to conduct the second round of the election, Izvestiya reported on 19 June. The TsIK has only received 693 billion rubles ($144 million) of the 1.9 trillion rubles the Finance Ministry set aside for it in the budget. Ministry officials claim that they do not have the money, without which the TsIK cannot print the ballots. Campaigning for the second round can legally begin as soon as an runoff date is set, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin and Zyuganov will each get free broadcast time on working days in the week leading up to the voting. The overall amount of paid advertising will not be allowed to exceed the free broadcast time. The law prevents campaigning on the day before the voting and election day itself. -- Robert Orttung KURANTY ACCUSES COMMUNISTS OF LAW VIOLATIONS. The liberal Moscow newspaper Kuranty on 18 June claimed that the Communists violated the electoral law on voting day. The paper reported that a "typical irregularity" featured Communist observers trying to convince people to vote for Zyuganov at the polling stations. The Communists had planned to send some 200,000 observers to the country's 93,000 polling places. The paper also claimed that illegal election day campaigning for Zyuganov was evident "all over the country." -- Robert Orttung LEBED TO TAKE CHARGE OF CHECHEN PEACE TALKS. Following an 18 June session of the state commission for regulating the Chechen conflict, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov told reporters that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had endorsed measures for implementing the 10 June Russian-Chechen peace agreement, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. In an interview with NTV, Aleksandr Lebed said he would personally take charge of the Chechen peace talks, according to AFP; however, ITAR-TASS quoted pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev as saying that personnel changes in Moscow would have no impact on developments in Chechnya. Zavgaev also said in Moscow that 90% of the 97 seats in the new Chechen People's Assembly had been filled during the 14-16 June voting, which the OSCE assessed as "neither free nor fair," according to Reuters. The deputies include former Grozny Mayor Beslan Gantemirov, currently under investigation for embezzlement, ORT reported. -- Liz Fuller TATAR COMMUNIST PARTY HEAD ALLEGES VOTE RIGGING IN KAZAN. Aleksandr Salii, first secretary of the Communist Party in Tatarstan, told the republic's electoral commission on 18 June that he plans to contest the results of the presidential election in Kazan, Ekspress-khronika reported. Salii claimed that although the vote was generally fair in Russia, there was mass vote rigging in the Tatar capital. He noted that the results in Kazan--more than 60% for Yeltsin--were the opposite of those elsewhere in the republic and claimed to have evidence to support his allegations of electoral fraud. There has been confusion over the results in the republic; preliminary results from the Central Electoral Commission gave Zyuganov 40.5% of the vote to Yeltsin's 37%, but more recent reports have given Yeltsin 39.5% and Zyuganov 39.2%, RFE-RL reported. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN ORDERS SOCIAL REFORM PROGRAM. President Yeltsin on 18 June decreed the formation of a government commission to draft a program of social reforms, Russian agencies reported. The commission, to be formed in two weeks, will be headed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The draft program should be submitted to the president by 1 October. The president said there is a need to outline social priorities more clearly as the steps the government has taken in this sphere have yielded inadequate results because of poor implementation. Upgrading social policies is a major element of Yeltsin's election platform, and he clearly wants to maintain the momentum in the days before the second round. Also on 18 June, Yeltsin issued a decree on a national plan of action to improve the position of women in Russia by the year 2000. A third decree rehabilitated people persecuted for their part in peasant uprisings in the USSR from 1918 to 1922. -- Penny Morvant MVD ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF "CLEAN-HANDS" OPERATION. Senior Interior Ministry (MVD) official Maj. Gen. Svyatoslav Golitsin said on 18 June that 1,277 police officers were convicted during the 1995 "clean-hands" campaign, 533 of them for abuse of office, ITAR-TASS reported. It is widely believed that these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Golitsin heads the MVD's Administration for Internal Security, which was set up in January this year to fight crime within the MVD. Among the problems it deals with are bribery, penetration of the police by criminal groups, and the flow of information on police operations to criminals. One of new Security Council head Lebed's main electoral promises is to tackle corruption among state officials, but bribery and extortion are so pervasive it is doubtful that he will be able to do much about it. -- Penny Morvant BANKER INJURED IN ATTACK. Banker and businessman Boris Fedorov was seriously injured in an attack in Moscow on 19 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Fedorov was shot and then stabbed by an unknown assailant when he was sitting in his car. Formerly head of the National Sports Foundation, Fedorov is chairman of the National Credit Bank. The Sports Foundation, set up by Yeltsin's tennis coach and Sports Minister Shamil Tarpishchev, long benefited from low customs duties on the importation of alcohol and tobacco to finance sporting activities. Fedorov was fired from the post of foundation president after he was arrested in May for possession of a small quantity of cocaine. Speculation in the Russian press linked his arrest to the foundation's financial activities. -- Penny Morvant MOSCOW IMPOSES LIMIT ON NUMBER OF FOREIGN WORKERS. The Moscow city government has decided to limit the number of foreign workers in order to avoid an increase in unemployment and discrimination against Muscovites, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. They intend to restrict the number of registered foreigners to 5% of the labor force. A special committee will be formed to crack down on unregistered workers. Foreign employees in Moscow include some 3,000 highly qualified specialists from the West, and more than 500,000 economic migrants from Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Vietnam, and China, mostly working in construction, transport, and retailing. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GAMSAKHURDIA ASSOCIATE SENTENCED TO DEATH. Badri Zarandia, who was involved in late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia's unsuccessful attempt to regain power in 1993, was sentenced to death by a Georgian court on 17 June on charges of treason, banditry, and murder, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller TURKMENISTAN RATIONS GASOLINE, DIESEL. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov announced that subsidies on gasoline and other fuels will be cut on 1 July, and car owners will be limited to 100 liters of gas a month, Reuters reported on 19 June. The rationed fuel will cost 200 manats ($0.05) a liter. -- Lowell Bezanis KAZAKHSTAN TAKES RUSSIAN NEWS PROGRAM OFF THE AIR. The state television news agency Khabar took the Russian language news analysis program "Nedelya" off the air on 16 June after the program featured an election appeal by Russia presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed without the agency's knowledge, according to a Kazakhstani TV report monitored by the BBC. Khabar claimed that the unauthorized broadcast had compromised the agency in the eye's of its viewers. A replacement program in Kazakh and Russian is scheduled to begin broadcasting on 23 June. -- 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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