The last of the human freedoms- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way. - Victor Frankl
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 127, Part I, 1 July 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 HEALTH IN DOUBT ON EVE OF VOTING. President Boris Yeltsin has
not been seen in public since 26 June, Reuters reported as the last day
of campaigning began in Russia on 1 July. In an interview published on 1
July in Rossiiskaya gazeta, Yeltsin said that he had lost his voice. The
Kremlin canceled a 1 July meeting between Yeltsin and the presidents of
Moldova and Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. The Russian
media has provided no detailed information about the president's health,
sparking speculation from his rival, Gennadii Zyuganov, and others that
his illness is serious. Finally, on the afternoon of 1 July Russian
Television broadcast a short address by Yeltsin, which they said was
recorded at 10:00 a.m. GMT on 1 July. Yeltsin's voice was hoarse but
otherwise his appearance was normal. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN LAYS OUT MAIN PROGRAM POINTS IN LAST CAMPAIGN INTERVIEW. The
president confirmed his rejection of the idea of a coalition government,
stressing that his government would be made up of professionals whose
main priorities were "order and care," reflecting an emphasis on
cracking down on crime and bolstering social policy, Rossiskaya gazeta
reported on 1 July. Yeltsin described the "whole world" as the sphere of
Russian national interests, but stressed developing cooperation within
the CIS, strengthening Russia's position with the West, and "seriously
stepping up" policy toward the East. He said that Russia would
strengthen its military base in Kaliningrad. Yeltsin described Yabloko
leader Grigorii Yavlinskii as his ally, but rejected Yavlinskii's
proposal to amend the Constitution to weaken the presidency as
"extremely dangerous." -- Robert Orttung

LEBED SEEKS VICE PRESIDENCY. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
on 29 June called for the recreation of the vice presidency and proposed
himself for the job, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. He called on
his supporters to back Yeltsin in the runoff, saying that his alliance
with the president was not a betrayal of his ideals, but the union of
two politicians who believe that "a non-communist future is possible for
Russia." In contrast to Yeltsin, Lebed foresees a coalition government,
possibly including Gennadii Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, NTV
reported on 30 June. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN AGAIN DECLINES DEBATE WITH ZYUGANOV. President Yeltsin turned
down yet another challenge from Gennadii Zyuganov to a live television
debate, Russian media reported on 28 June. According to NTV, the
president explained: "I have nothing to discuss with him ... I know all
these former and current party functionaries well. They are all failures
from the ranks of the nomenklatura, who haven't learned anything during
these long years." Meanwhile, Zyuganov and his team are making a
campaign issue out of the president's refusal to debate. During a 26
June free air time appearance on ORT, Zyuganov criticized Yeltsin for
refusing to adhere to a practice he said was normal in all "civilized
countries." -- Laura Belin in Moscow

ZHIRINOVSKY TELLS SUPPORTERS NOT TO VOTE FOR ZYUGANOV. Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on 28 June
dealt a blow to Gennadii Zyuganov's prospects by advising LDPR
supporters not to vote for a Communist, Russian media reported. While he
stopped short of endorsing President Yeltsin openly, Zhirinovsky lashed
out at pro-Communist hecklers, shouting angrily: "You degraded us for 40
years...You decided where I would go for vacation. You decided where I
would study, where I would live...." However, Zhirinovsky said the LDPR
will not accept any cabinet posts and will "constantly criticize" both
the president and government after the election, NTV reported on 28
June. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

FILATOV ALLEGES MASS FRAUD IN FIRST ROUND. Yeltsin's campaign head
Sergei Filatov suggested on 29 June that there may have been mass fraud
during the first round of the presidential election, Ekho Moskvy and
Reuters reported. Filatov said the number of people claiming to be ill
and casting votes at mobile polling stations was abnormally high--3.5
million--and that most voting in such fashion had cast their ballots
against Yeltsin. "This all makes you think that falsifications by Boris
Yeltsin's opponents occurred during the voting," he added. According to
Filatov, in some areas up to 25% of voters had claimed to be unable to
go to polling stations. Yeltsin's camp earlier said no major violations
were recorded during the voting. -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN ATTENDS G7 SUMMIT... Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on
28 June flew to Lyon, France to attend the G7 summit, international
media reported. Yeltsin announced the previous week he would not be
attending the summit. Russia was not invited to talk part in the G7
economic talks, and French President Jacques Chirac said there was no
question of admitting Russia as a full member of G7, Reuters reported.
Russia's NTV erroneously reported on 29 June that Russia had been
promised membership in "G8." Chernomyrdin does not seem to have achieved
anything concrete at the summit, although IMF Managing Director Michel
Camdessus said that Russia's economic performance was "a good one," and
promised to open talks on possible Russian membership in the Paris Club
of official creditors. -- Peter Rutland

... AND TAKES PART IN POLITICAL TALKS. Chernomyrdin took part in the
political talks at the G7 summit, where he discussed Bosnia, terrorism,
nuclear proliferation, and the Middle East peace process. Commenting on
the pre-election mood in the Russian government, he said: "We are not in
the grip of euphoria at all. There is a general feeling of concern." In
a meeting with Chernomyrdin on 29 June, U.S. President Bill Clinton
expressed his concern over remarks about Mormons made by Security
Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed (see OMRI Daily Digest 28 June 1996).
Five U.S. senators formally protested Lebed's remarks the previous day.
-- Peter Rutland

CHECHEN TALKS GOING NOWHERE. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav
Mikhailov and Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov met on 28 June in
the village of Novie Atagi to discuss the failure to implement the peace
agreements signed on 10 June, Russian and Western media reported. The
following day, acting Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev accused the
Russians of deliberately undermining the agreement, and called for the
dissolution of the pro-Moscow Chechen government and the annulment of
the 16 June elections to a new Chechen parliament, the first session of
which opened on 29 June, according to Radio Rossii. Mikhailov responded
on 30 June by accusing the Chechen side of "crude blackmail" and of
"dragging out the talks indefinitely," AFP reported. Also on 30 June,
President Yeltsin stated that 4,000 Russian troops will withdraw from
Chechnya over the next two weeks, according to AFP quoting Interfax.
Reuters on 1 July quoted Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev as
arguing that hostilities in Chechnya will continue: in his opinion, the
Russians do not want peace and are simply using the Russian presidential
election "to buy time." -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA CONCERNED OVER ESTONIA'S PLAN TO INVALIDATE SOVIET PASSPORTS. The
Russian Foreign Ministry has circulated a memorandum to the UN, the
Council of Europe, and the members of the OSCE "expressing deep concern
that from 12 July, hundreds of thousands of Russian residents of Estonia
will remain without basic identification papers or legal residence
permits," BNS reported on 28 June. Russia claims that only about 1,500
aliens' passports have been issued while applications number about
335,000. Estonian officials say that more than 50,000 aliens' passports
have been issued. Estonia's Interior Minister Mart Rask explained on 21
June that while the former Soviet passports will not be valid for
crossing the border and visas or residence permit stickers cannot be
attached to them, they will continue to serve as identification
documents. -- Saulius Girnius

COUNCIL OF EUROPE DENOUNCES THE CONTINUATION OF EXECUTIONS. The Council
of Europe on 28 June condemned Russia, Ukraine, and Latvia for
continuing to carry out executions of criminals, RFE/RL reported. The
council's Parliamentary Assembly issued a resolution warning the three
countries that they could risk expulsion if they did not meet
commitments to place a moratorium on executions and abolish the death
penalty. The council also called on Lithuania to institute a moratorium
on executions without delay. Moldova was praised for abolishing capital
punishment shortly after it joined the council last year. The resolution
was the second warning to Russia and Ukraine over capital punishment in
under a month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 June 1996). According to a
report discussed at the assembly in Strasbourg, President Yeltsin has
rejected 46 appeals for pardons from prisoners on death row this year.
-- Penny Morvant

NALCHIK EXPLOSION KILLS FIVE. Five people were killed and another 20
injured when a bomb exploded on 28 June on a bus in Nalchik, the capital
of Kabardino-Balkariya, Russian media reported. The bus was en route
from Mineralnye vody to Vladikavkaz in North Ossetiya. Interior Minister
Anatolii Kulikov said after the blast that his forces had been put on a
heightened state of alert throughout the North Caucasus. Sergei Filatov,
President Yeltsin's election campaign head, argued that the explosion
could be linked to the presidential election, noting that Kabardino-
Balkariya was the only Muslim republic where Yeltsin won a plurality of
the vote in the first round of the presidential election. -- Penny
Morvant

LENINGRAD NUCLEAR POWER WORKERS SUSPEND PROTEST. Workers protesting wage
arrears at the Sosnovy Bor nuclear power plant have suspended their
strike until after the second round of the presidential election, Radio
Rossii reported on 30 June. The workers, who have been protesting since
24 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 June 1996), suspended their action to
avoid "politically coloring" the action and fanning social tension on
the eve of the election, according to a local union representative. If
steps are not taken to meet their demands, which include the resignation
of the plant director, protests will resume on 4 July. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN DECREES RIGHT TO FREE FUNERAL. President Yeltsin issued a decree
on 29 June on funeral services, Russian and Western agencies reported.
The decree called for full compliance with the law on funeral services,
which guarantees free issuance of death certificates, provision and
transportation of coffins, and burial or cremation. There have been
press reports of families abandoning corpses because they are unable to
pay funeral bills. In another last-minute hand-out before the second
round of the presidential election, Yeltsin ordered all-expenses paid
holidays in Spain for 250 Russian soldiers wounded in Chechnya. And a
local branch of Yeltsin's campaign fund in Tver Oblast used a $24,000
contribution from a local company to buy clothes for the poor. -- Penny
Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT WARNS OF IMPENDING ECONOMIC CRISIS. Askar Akayev told
an emergency meeting of the cabinet that "negative tendencies in the
economy" could lead to "a budget, energy, and social crisis by this
autumn," the BBC reported on 27 June. Akayev questioned the 2.4 % budget
deficit indicated by the state statistics committee, saying the real
figure "may be 10-15 % of GNP." Akayev said there was "complete
corruption of the tax police from top to bottom." He also noted that
agricultural production was down to one-fifth of 1995 figures, "making
Kyrgyzstan the only country in the CIS where exports have decreased by
four times in the past years, while imports have doubled." -- Bruce
Pannier

KAZAKHSTANIS FAVOR CIS INTEGRATION. Results of a public opinion poll
conducted by the Almaty-based Giller Institute, reported by ITAR-TASS on
28 June, reveal that about 65% of the 1,000 respondents would prefer to
live in a single integrated state within the framework of the CIS.
Although over two-thirds of respondents said that the highest stage of
CIS integration is unlikely at the moment, 27% favor closer cooperation
with Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan in the framework of the recently
concluded quadripartite agreement on deepening integration. About 17%
said they would like the integration process to involve all the CIS
states, while 14% favored the formation of a political union similar to
the one between Russia and Belarus. Over 87% emphasized the need for
integration between Kazakhstan and Russia, whereas only 3.7% prefer an
alliance with Uzbekistan, 1.7% favor integration with Kyrgyzstan, and
1.6% favor closer ties with remaining CIS states. -- Bhavna Dave

NEW SUPREME COURT HEAD IN KAZAKHSTAN. Maksut Narikbayev, Kazakhstan's
Prosecutor-General, has been appointed the new Supreme Court chairman in
place of Mikhail Malakhov, who was dismissed in early June on bribery
charges, according to BBC monitoring of Kazakhstani TV on 28 June.
Kazakhstan's Senate approved Narikbayev's appointment after he was
nominated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Anatolii Konstantinov,
Narikbayev's deputy, is to replace him in an acting capacity. -- Bhavna
Dave

RESHUFFLE AT TURKMENISTAN'S DEFENSE MINISTRY. Senior posts in
Turkmenistan's Ministry of Defense have been reallocated, according to a
29 June Turkmen Press report monitored by the BBC. Under a presidential
decree, Maj.-Gen. Agageldy Mamedgeldyyev, formerly commander of ground
forces, was appointed head of the Main Directorate for Supplies and the
Rear. Lt.-Gen. Rinat Meretdurdyyev was named as the new commander of
ground forces. Lt.-Gen. Serdar Charyyarov, formerly commander of air
forces and air defense forces, has been appointed head of the
Directorate for Training Specialists for the Armed Forces, the agency
said. -- Lowell Bezanis

NEW WAVE OF TAJIK REFUGEES CROWD BORDER CITIES. An estimated 3,000
refugees have made their way to the Tajik-Afghan border cities of Kalai-
Khumb and Khorog, adding to displaced masses already there, ITAR-TASS
reported on 29 June. Fighting in the Tavil-Dara region has already
forced some 15,000 people from their homes since the beginning of 1996
and accounts of those arriving claim another 25,000 may soon be on the
march. Kalai-Khumb and Khorog are garrisoned by soldiers from the CIS
border guards and so offer relative safety from the battles in central
Tajikistan. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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