A tablecloth restaurant is still one of the great rewards of civilization. - Harry Golden
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 120, Part I, 20 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 SACKS SOSKOVETS, BARSUKOV, KORZHAKOV . . . President Boris
Yeltsin on 20 June fired First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets,
Federal Security Service head Mikhail Barsukov, and Presidential
Security Service head Aleksandr Korzhakov, ITAR-TASS reported.
Soskovets, who supervised the defense industry, is considered to be an
ally of Korzhakov. All three are seen as hard-liners, opposed to market
reform, and strong backers of the war in Chechnya. They were also
against holding the presidential election. Yeltsin said that it is time
to "strengthen and renew" his team with "fresh people." Yeltsin said
that he was constantly being criticized because of these three men, and
emphasized that he had never taken orders from Korzhakov. He criticized
the "power ministries" for "taking too much for themselves, while giving
too little." Yeltsin's dramatic dismissal of these key figures in his
administration reflects the impact of his new ally Aleksandr Lebed in
the days before the second round of the election. -- Robert Orttung

. . . FOLLOWING ARREST OF TWO YELTSIN CAMPAIGN WORKERS. Two Yeltsin
campaign officials, Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev, were
arrested on the evening of 19 June while leaving the government's White
House, apparently on orders from Korzhakov and Barsukov. They were
allegedly carrying a case containing $500,000, and were detained and
questioned for 11 hours by Korzhakov's security service, ITAR-TASS
reported. After Lebed intervened to say that the arrests were an attempt
to disrupt the second round of voting, the two campaign aides were
released. Korzhakov and Barsukov both denied that the arrests had a
political character. Yestafev was formerly deputy managing director of
Russian Public TV (ORT), where Lisovskii had also served as head of
advertising. Lisovskii used his conncection with show-business figures
to organize the "Vote or you Lose" concerts for Yeltsin's campaign.
Yevstafev worked closely with Anatolii Chubais in preparing Yeltsin's
re-election campaign. -- Robert Orttung

DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES COUP ALLEGATIONS. The information service of the
Defense Ministry denied on 18 June that former Defense Minister Grachev
and his close associates had planned to illegally pressure President
Boris Yeltsin into keeping Grachev in office, Russian media reported.
The State Duma, alarmed by the coup allegations made by Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 June 1996), ordered
its security and defense committees to investigate the incident.
Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyushin (KPRF) said he thought Lebed
had deliberately exaggerated the incident in order to bolster his
political image. Izvestiya reported on 19 June that although top brass
gathered in Grachev's office on 18 June as Lebed had claimed, it was
merely a farewell party, not a coup-planning session. The Izvestiya
report suggests that Lebed manipulated the incident to humiliate his
long-time rival Grachev. -- Scott Parrish

RUNOFF ALL BUT SET FOR 3 JULY. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has
signed a resolution declaring 3 July a holiday so that the presidential
runoff can be held on that day, ORT reported 19 June. The Central
Electoral Commission (TsIK) has also fallen into line in support of the
proposal, according to TsIK Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Ivanchenko.
Although Zyuganov has supported the idea of a 3 July election, the Duma
voted to postpone discussion on the issue until 21 June when the final
election results will be known. However, the Duma's opposition will
probably not stop the formal announcement of the runoff date once the
final tally from the first round is made public. Yeltsin had earlier
asked for Duma backing of this proposal, but the Communist-controlled
legislature was unlikely to support the plan which is expected to favor
Yeltsin. According to the law guaranteeing Russian citizens basic voting
rights, voting must take place on a non-working day. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV, CHERNOMYRDIN DISCUSS POSSIBLE COALITION GOVERNMENT. Zyuganov
and Chernomyrdin met on 19 June to discuss the selection of 3 July for
second round voting. Zyuganov also put forward numerous ideas on
cooperation or a coalition, Chernomyrdin press secretary Viktor Konnov
told ITAR-TASS. Chernomyrdin responded by saying that he had always felt
that cooperation was possible, especially when the gap between the votes
cast for the two candidates was so small. The prime minister stressed
the need to avoid "a split and confrontation" in society. Zyuganov noted
that the first round had come off "without any violations of the law."
Earlier in the day, Konnov had said that there would be no meeting
between Chernomyrdin and Zyuganov on the eve of the election, suggesting
that the meeting came together at the last minute. -- Robert Orttung

FEDOROV BACKS YELTSIN. Eye doctor Svyatoslav Fedorov, who finished sixth
in the first round of the presidential election with less than 1% of the
vote, said he would back President Yeltsin in the second round, Radio
Rossii reported on 19 June. He argued that Yeltsin's program is more
progressive than Zyuganov's and praised Yeltsin's recent personnel
changes in the government. Fedorov won about 700,000 votes in the first
round, or about 0.93% of the total. His Workers' Self-Government party
did surprisingly well in the December 1995 Duma election, taking nearly
4% of the vote. -- Penny Morvant

KOVALEV UNHAPPY ABOUT YELTSIN-LEBED ALLIANCE. Human rights activist
Sergei Kovalev believes Yeltsin's alliance with Lebed is a threat to
democracy in Russia, AFP reported on 19 June, citing an interview to be
published in the German news magazine Stern. Kovalev predicted that
Yeltsin would rapidly reach agreement with Lebed and argued that Russia
will be governed in a draconian manner. Kovalev said he will not vote
for either Yeltsin or Zyuganov in the presidential runoff, arguing that
"Yeltsin-style stability is as serious as the instability that would
follow a Zyuganov victory." -- Penny Morvant

FINANCE MINISTRY REJECTS CONCERNS ABOUT PAYING FOR ELECTION. Finance
Minister Vladimir Panskov rejected the TsIK's concerns that it would not
have enough money to pay for the second round of the presidential
election, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. He said his ministry had given
the TsIK 88 billion rubles ($18.3 million) on 17 June, and is planning
to transfer 100 billion in "the next few days" and an additional 158
billion "at the beginning of next week." -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN TROOPS ATTACKED ON INGUSH-NORTH OSSETIYAN BORDER. Seven Russian
servicemen were killed on 18 June and four wounded in an attack on two
Interior Ministry armored personnel carriers on the border between
Ingushetiya and North Ossetiya, NTV reported on 19 June. Russian
Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov said that Russian Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had invited Aleksandr Lebed to join the
State Commission for regulating the Chechen crisis, but he added that
Lebed's involvement would not signal any changes in Russia's policy of
seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict. Mikhailov warned, however,
that Russian troops would undertake "special operations" against the
Chechen forces should the latter violate the 10 June agreement on a
cessation of hostilities. In keeping with the agreement, the 245th
Motorized Infantry regiment withdrew from Chechnya on 19 June, ORT
reported. -- Liz Fuller

NEW GOVERNOR OF BRYANSK APPOINTED. President Yeltsin on 19 June
appointed Aleksandr Semernev head of the Bryansk Oblast Administration,
ITAR-TASS reported. Semernev is the fourth governor to be appointed in
the past three years. His immediate predecessor, Vladimir Barabanov, was
fired in May for mishandling state funds. Barabanov had also been
criticized for appointing Communists to leading positions in the oblast
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 May 1995). Yeltsin took about 26% of the vote
in Bryansk in the first round of the presidential election, while
Zyuganov won 48%, according to preliminary results. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN TO SKIP G-7 SUMMIT. President Yeltsin announced on 19 June that
he will not attend the G-7 summit in Lyons scheduled for 27-29 June,
saying he needs to concentrate on the upcoming presidential runoff
election, Russian and Western agencies reported. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin will attend the meeting in his place. -- Scott Parrish

WAGE ARREARS ARE CLIMBING AGAIN. The wage debt to workers in state-
funded enterprises and organizations is growing again, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 19 June. According to Goskomstat, the debt
to state workers has reached 4.2 trillion rubles ($838 million), up 20%
from early May. The total wage debt has risen to 27.1 trillion rubles.
Tackling wage arrears was one of President Yeltsin's main pre-election
promises. The results of his March campaign to slash arrears, however,
appear to have been short-lived. Meanwhile, power industry workers in
Komi are taking strike action to protest wage delays. Radio Rossii said
on 19 June that work had stopped at a heating plant in the mining city
of Vorkuta and that other stoppages will follow if workers are not paid.
Komienergo is owed more than 1 trillion rubles by consumers. -- Penny
Morvant

STILL NO SIGN OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY. GDP fell by 3% in January-May
compared with the same period in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June,
citing Goskomstat. Industrial production fell by 4%, with a steep 24%
fall in light industry and construction materials, according to
Finansovye Izvestiya. Although the fall in production had halted in
April, it resumed in May. Inflation meanwhile fell from 4.1% in January
to 1.5% in May. The other positive trend is foreign trade, which grew by
12.1% in the first four months of the year, reaching $42.8 billion.
Trade with CIS states made up 26% of the total. The continuing decline
in GDP will make it more difficult for the government to deal with the
yawning budget deficit because of its impact on tax revenue. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ANOTHER POLITICAL TRIAL IN GEORGIA. A Tbilisi court on 19 June sentenced
Conservative-Monarchist Party head Temur Zhorzholiani, an outspoken
critic of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, to four years'
imprisonment on charges of illegal possession of drugs and a revolver,
NTV reported. Zhorzholiani was arrested last year despite his immunity
as a parliament deputy, and insists that the charges against him are
fabricated. Georgian observers have suggested that he was arrested
because of his friendship with former deputy security chief Teimuraz
Khachishvili, who is charged with the bomb attack against Shevardnadze
in August 1995. -- Liz Fuller

SHEVARDNADZE DEFENDS NADIBAIDZE. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
on 19 June said in Tbilisi that "there are no grounds to suspect Defense
Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze of organizing some coup in Moscow," ITAR-
TASS reported. Nadibaidze himself said that outgoing Russian Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev's resignation came as a surprise to him, but that
he would make no comment as it was an internal Russian affair. According
to Izvestiya on 20 June, the senior military officials who met on 18
June--to allegedly plan the coup--did not in fact discuss Grachev's
resignation. Grachev and Nadibaidze are thought to have been close
personal friends. -- Liz Fuller

POLICE CORRUPTION IN ARMENIA. Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan
on 19 June, Armenian Interior Minister Vano Siradeghyan claimed that
corruption had permeated the very highest levels of the country's
bureaucracy, and that the struggle against it is being hampered by
corruption within the ministry itself, Radio Rossii reported. In 1995,
540 Interior Ministry employees were dismissed for corruption, and
criminal charges have been filed against 107 of them. An investigation
in 1994 established that Armenian Interior Ministry personnel were not
averse to using force to extract bribes. -- Liz Fuller

NEW MUFTI CHOSEN IN TAJIKISTAN. A congress of Tajikistan's Muslims on 19
June selected Khoja Amunullo Negmatzoda as the new country's new Muslim
spiritual leader, Radio Rossii and Western media reported. Negmatzoda
was previously the head of the Yakubicharm Mosque located near the Tajik
capital Dushanbe. The last state mufti, Fatkhullo Sharifzoda, was
assassinated in January. Prior to Sharifzoda, United Tajik Opposition
representative Ali Akbar Turajonzoda held the position. Reuters
speculated that Negmatzoda was a compromise candidate since he has no
allegiance to any particular clan in Tajikistan. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK PRESIDENT WILL MEET WITH CLINTON. White House spokesman Michael
McCurry on 19 June announced that U.S. President Bill Clinton will meet
with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, during the latter's visit to
the U.S. beginning on 25 June, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. The move
comes despite a public request by the Uzbek opposition parties Erk and
Birlik that Clinton not to meet with Karimov because of Uzbekistan's
poor human rights record. However, the number of U.S. companies doing
business in Uzbekistan has increased recently and observers have
speculated that a failure to meet with Karimov could prompt a negative
response toward U.S. businesses in Uzbekistan. An unnamed U.S. official
also said that his country appreciates Karimov's "very, very negative
view of Iran," according to AFP. -- 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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