There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 125, Part I, 27 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 APPEALS TO ZYUGANOV VOTERS. President Boris Yeltsin on 27 June
appealed to voters who backed his communist rival in the first round
"not to vote against a new life, even if you are unaccustomed to it
today," ITAR-TASS reported. The president warned against dividing the
country between red and white and said that he was ready for dialogue
and cooperation "with all whose main priority is the fate of Russia." He
was very critical of the communist past, warning pro-Gennadii Zyuganov
voters that they might remember cheap bread, but have probably forgotten
rationing coupons and shortages. The unusual appeal reflects Yeltsin's
two-pronged campaign tactics: denouncing the communist past, while
incorporating many of the communists' points into his own program. --
Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS ACCUSE YELTSIN OF ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN PRACTICES . . . Communist
presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov asserted in a letter to the
parliament, the Central Electoral Commission, and the media that
President Boris Yeltsin was buying votes with money that should be used
to pay wage and pension arrears and that he had pressured local leaders
into working for his campaign. The letter was published in Sovetskaya
Rossiya on 27 June. Zyuganov claimed that regional leaders had been told
they would be fired if Yeltsin lost in their territory. He also said
that Yeltsin was using "tens of trillions of rubles" from the state
budget for campaign purposes. Zyuganov argued that such practices would
call into question the results of the voting and urged immediate
measures that would insure equal conditions for the candidates. --
Robert Orttung

. . . AND BLAST MASS MEDIA. Zyuganov charged that radio and television
broadcasters are "stirring up social tensions and civil conflict," NTV
reported. He laid primary responsibility on the Chairman of Russian
Television Eduard Sagalaev, General Director of Russian Public TV Sergei
Blagovolin, and the president of NTV Igor Malashenko. Zyuganov claimed
that if the media continues its current policies, there will be a civil
war. -- Robert Orttung

ILYUKHIN CLAIMS WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION. Duma Security Committee Chairman
Viktor Ilyukhin charged that the law enforcement agencies have
considerable evidence that high government officials are engaged in
corruption, bribe-taking, and squandering money allocated by the Central
Electoral Commission, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 27 June. However,
when former Federal Security Service head Mikhail Barsukov and former
head of the presidential security service Aleksandr Korzhakov tried to
stop Yeltsin's aides from taking $500,000 from the White House, they
were fired, calling into question Yeltsin's commitment to fighting
crime, Ilyukhin charged. He explained the recent firings in the Kremlin
as the result of the ongoing battle between three groups: the former
heads of the power ministries, representatives of the energy complex,
and representatives from financial circles, Russian Public TV reported.
Ilyukhin has had a long career in the procuracy. -- Robert Orttung

PRAVDA: ALTAI VOTERS UPSET AT YELTSIN-LEBED ALLIANCE. The pro-communist
newspaper Pravda reported on 26 June that Lebed supporters in Altai Krai
are "indignant" about the retired general's recent alliance with
Yeltsin. The paper quoted Aleksei Shevdov, Lebed's agent in the krai, as
saying that Yeltsin is unacceptable to the majority of Lebed's
electorate and that most will vote for Zyuganov in the run-off. He
proposed that Yeltsin withdraw his candidacy in the second round in
favor of Lebed, arguing that the general would retain the votes of those
who opted for him in the first round and gain part of Zyuganov's
electorate and all of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's voters. According to
preliminary figures released by the Central Electoral Commission on 17
June, Zyuganov won 42% of the vote in Altai Krai, Yeltsin 22%, and Lebed
19%. -- Penny Morvant

CONTROVERSY OVER RESULTS IN TATARSTAN CONTINUES. Zyuganov's supporters
intend to contest the results of the first round voting in Tatarstan in
the Supreme Court, Ekho Moskvy reported on 26 June. Communist deputy
Aleksandr Salii contended that vote-rigging in the Tatar capital Kazan
added 60,000 votes to Yeltsin's total. Salii earlier noted a large
discrepancy between the results of the voting in the capital and rural
areas of the republic (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 June 1996). Vitalii
Khavkin, a lawyer for the Central Electoral Commission, refuted the
charges, accusing the communists of bias. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN MEETS REGIONAL LEADERS. Yeltsin met with regional leaders from
the Federation Council on 26 June after that body rejected the Duma land
code for its anti-market character, NTV reported. Yeltsin stressed that
the regional leaders must work to ensure a high turnout for the 3 July
voting, according to Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel. Yeltsin said
that there would be further personnel changes in his government but that
they would not be announced until after the elections. Yeltsin also
announced that former Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin would lead his new
Political Consultative Council. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov
added some teeth to Yeltsin's remarks, announcing that turnout would be
a measure of the authority of Russia's regional leaders, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Robert Orttung

LEGAL STATUS OF SECURITY COUNCIL UNCLEAR. The legal status of the
Security Council remains ill-defined, and it is not clear that Aleksandr
Lebed had the authority to carry out some of his actions, ITAR-TASS
suggested in a commentary on 26 June. Under Article 83 of the Russian
Constitution the role of the council should be defined by a federal law,
but no such law has yet been adopted. In the interim the council
functions on the basis of presidential decrees, which state that it has
a consultative role. The day of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's
removal, Lebed issued a number of instructions to military commanders,
telling them to stay at their posts and not send telegrams of
condolence. -- Peter Rutland

ECONOMIC SECURITY A TOP PRIORITY FOR LEBED. A document prepared by the
Security Council, "A new approach to national security issues," was
leaked to the press: extracts were published in Kommersant Daily on 26
June. Initial press reports attributed the report to Aleksander Lebed,
but the latter told ITAR-TASS on 27 June that most of the document had
been prepared before his appointment as Secretary of the Security
Council. The report proposes extending the Council's remit to include
economic issues, such as privatization auctions and the dumping of
minerals abroad at low prices. It calls for strict control over export
earnings, and is concerned at the size of Russia's foreign debts. It
proposes a tax amnesty for Russian capital that has moved abroad. It
calls upon the intelligence services to play an active role in
monitoring foreign banks and firms, and says that it will stop the
selling of weapons to "potential adversaries." -- Peter Rutland

MIKHAILOV, STEPASHIN IN GROZNY. Russian Nationalities Minister
Vyacheslav Mikhailov and the secretary of the Russian State Commission
for Regulating the Chechen Conflict, Sergei Stepashin, flew to Grozny on
26 June and traveled with pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev
to Vedeno raion (which is controlled by Chechen field commander Shamil
Basaev) to discuss with village elders the holding of further peace
talks, NTV reported. According to ORT, Mikhailov told journalists he
plans to clarify why the peace agreements signed in Moscow on 27 May and
in Nazran on 10 June are being violated by both the Russian and Chechen
sides, and to investigate "contradictions" between the members of the
two working groups set up to implement the peace agreements and between
the Russian federal troops and the OSCE mission in Grozny, which the
commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav
Tikhomirov, has accused of bias towards the Chechen separatists. -- Liz
Fuller

VICTORY FOR CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS. The Moscow Oblast court on 25 June
upheld a not guilty verdict in the case of a pacifist who refused to
perform military service on the grounds that he had a constitutional
right to opt for alternative service, Ekho Moskvy and Ekspress-khronikha
reported. Vadim Gesse spent 40 days in jail after his request for
alternative service was turned down, and he was arrested for failing to
report for the draft. The Noginsk city court ruled in his favor in May,
but the decision was appealed by the prosecutor. The case may now go to
the Constitutional Court. The right to alternative service is enshrined
in the Constitution, but it is strongly opposed by the military and
there are no procedures for refusing conscription. -- Penny Morvant

MORE SBERBANK SAVERS TO BE COMPENSATED THIS YEAR. Pensioners born
between 1917 and 1921 whose deposits in the state savings bank
(Sberbank) were devalued as a result of economic reform will receive
compensation this year, presidential economics adviser Aleksandr
Livshits told ITAR-TASS on 26 June. Compensation for pensioners born in
1916 or earlier began to be paid on 10 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11
June 1996). Livshits did not say how much the pensioners will receive;
those eligible for payments in the first wave received up to 1 million
rubles. Livshits said that about 40% of account holders in bankrupt
private financial companies were pensioners. He added that a
presidential decree is being prepared on compensation for those who lost
their money in pyramid schemes. -- Penny Morvant

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS LAND CODE. The parliament's upper house on 26
June rejected a communist-backed draft land code that restricts land
ownership and the sale of land, Russian and Western agencies reported.
The draft code was approved by the Duma on 22 May (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 23 May 1996), which Yeltsin said he would veto. Yeltsin issued a
decree in March allowing the partial sale of farmland, but the
communists and Agrarians have opposed all such moves, arguing that they
would deprive the agricultural sector of the best land. The code will
now go to a conciliation commission. -- Penny Morvant

EMPLOYMENT MINISTER READY TO STEP DOWN. Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan
said on 26 June that changes are needed in the government team handling
social issues and that he is ready to step down if need be, ITAR-TASS
reported. Yeltsin has said that more changes in the government are in
the offing but will not be announced until after the second round of the
election. Melikyan reported that 6.5 million people are now unemployed
in Russia (8.9%), about 2.7 million of whom are registered with the
Federal Employment Service. On the subject of wage arrears, Melikyan
said the total debt is now 29.8 trillion rubles ($5.8 billion). The
state debt is 5 trillion, 4.6 trillion of which is owed from regional
budgets. -- Penny Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

VERDICTS HANDED DOWN IN PARAVAKAR CASE. An Armenian court on 24 June
handed down verdicts of between 2 and 3 years' imprisonment on four men
charged with an attack on presidential candidate Paruir Hairikyan in the
village of Paravakar during the runup to the 1991 presidential
elections, Noyan Tapan reported on 26 June. On that occasion,
Hairikyan's car was damaged and he was threatened at gunpoint by men who
demanded that he withdraw his candidacy, some of whom he identified as
members of the personal staff of then parliament chairman Levon Ter-
Petrossyan, the eventual presidential election winner. Hairikyan has
been nominated by the Union for National Self-Determination to stand as
a candidate in this September's presidential elections but is undecided
whether to accept the nomination; he argued on 26 June that the results
are predetermined, and that Ter-Petrossyan will be reelected. -- Liz
Fuller

PROTESTS OVER ALMATY AIRPORT DEAL WITH LUFTHANSA. The Kazakhstani
government's decision of 28 May to transfer the administration of Almaty
airport to Lufthansa has led to protests from airport workers and trade
unions, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 June. The Professional Union of
Aviation Workers claim that Lufthansa incurred losses of $132 million so
far this year and is unable to compete with other international
airlines. Kazakhstani authorities say that the renovation of landing
fields at the airport alone will cost $12 million; Lufthansa has offered
to invest about $17-18 million in the next 5 years. -- Bhavna Dave

KAZAKHSTAN REPORTS HUGE OFFSHORE OIL RESERVES. As a result of seismic
explorations of the Caspian Sea continental shelf conducted by the
Caspian Sea Consortium, Kazakhstani authorities estimate crude oil
reserves of 10 billion metric tons and 2 trillion cubic meters of
natural gas, Reuters reported on 26 June. If confirmed, these offshore
oil reserves would be10 times bigger than those of its onshore Tengiz
oilfield and exceed Russia's entire oil reserves of 6.7 billion tons,
Reuters added, citing British Petroleum's (BP) Statistical Review.
However, Caspian Sea Consortium members, such as British Gas, BP, Agip,
Mobil, Shell and others say that as no drilling has taken place yet, the
estimated oil deposits are unlikely to exceed 4 billion tons. -- Bhavna
Dave

UZBEK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY. President Islam
Karimov paid his first visit to the Pentagon on 26 June, meeting with
U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry. A Pentagon press release said
that the two discussed security issues in Central Asia and "the strong
cooperative relationship between the United States and the Republic of
Uzbekistan." Karimov said Uzbekistan was eager to strengthen its
involvement in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, RFE/RL reported. --
Doug Clarke

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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