Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky

No. 128, Part I, 2 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:


HEALTH ISSUE CLOUDS ELECTION DAY. President Boris Yeltsin's appearances
on Russian television 1 July gave no explanation of why he had missed
four days of crucial campaigning before the 3 July runoff. He looked
weak, leading to increased suspicion that he had suffered a relapse of
the heart disease that put him in the hospital twice last year.
Yeltsin's aides, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, gave
superficial assurances that everything was fine. Generally, the pro-
Yeltsin media have barely mentioned his sickness. However, communist
challenger Gennadii Zyuganov pressed the issue, demanding an official
report of Yeltsin's health, Reuters reported. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN, ZYUGANOV WIND UP CAMPAIGNS. Yeltsin, in his last televised
speech before balloting begins, on 1 July stressed the need to
participate in the elections, according to NTV. Nezavisimaya gazeta the
same day criticized the president for losing the initiative to his
challenger Gennadii Zyuganov in the second round campaign. While Yeltsin
merely stressed the need to vote, the new Secretary of the Security
Council Aleksandr Lebed appeared everywhere, giving the impression that
he was the candidate, the paper complained. Zyuganov addressed voters on
ORT with a scathing attack on Yeltsin's record, criticizing him for the
loss of Ukraine, the Chechen war, and reducing 80% of Russian citizens
to poverty, among other things. -- Robert Orttung

Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov announced that he will file
legal charges against the people responsible for prematurely publishing
the results of second round voting in Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported.
The electoral commission in Almaty reported that President Boris Yeltsin
had won 71% of the vote among Russians living in Kazakhstan, while
Gennadii Zyuganov took only 24%, Ekho Moskvy reported. Russians there
voted on 30 June because 3 July will not be a holiday. Ryabov said that
the early release of voting results violated the right to a secret
ballot and TsIK member Raif Bektagirov called the journalists who
reported the information incompetent for "blindly passing on whatever
comes [their] way." Voting also took place in Latvia and Estonia where
Zyuganov did well in the first round, but those results have not yet
been made public. The TsIK will not announce any results until all
polling stations are closed. -- Robert Orttung

ORT REPLACES LAST COMMUNIST AD. Russian Public TV (ORT) replaced a clip
prepared by filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin, intended for the Communists'
last free airtime slot on 1 July, with a Zyuganov speech broadcast
earlier in the day, ITAR-TASS reported. ORT Deputy General Producer
Andrei Vasiliev explained that the broadcaster had no choice because the
Govorukhin clip was 10 minutes instead of the five minutes allotted by
law. ORT had asked the Communists to pay for the additional five
minutes, but they did not transfer money into the ORT bank account
before airtime. The communists criticized what they saw as ORT's refusal
to run their ad. Vasiliev argued that ORT was acting within the confines
of the law and denied that its decision was based on political motives.
The station's news coverage is heavily biased toward Yeltsin. -- Robert

LEBED: "I AM NOT A FULL DEMOCRAT." In remarks to journalists on 2 July,
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed said "I do not consider
myself a full democrat, I am a semi-democrat," ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed
expressed a preference for a strong presidency, saying that
"parliamentary democracy is not [good] for this country." He argued that
he was seeking additional powers "not for my personal interests, but for
solving the problems of the security of the state." -- Peter Rutland

LEBED DISCUSSES CRIME WITH LUZHKOV. Lebed met with Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov on 1 July to discuss a draft decree on combating crime in the
capital, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV reported. The meeting was also
attended by senior Interior Ministry officials, acting director of the
Federal Security Service Nikolai Kovalev, Moscow Procurator Sergei
Gerasimov, and Moscow City Court Chairwoman Zoya Korneva. Luzhkov said
the president, who ordered the meeting, will hear a report on the
document on 8 July. He promised that the decree would tackle problems
such as the understaffing of courts and procurators' offices without
restricting human rights. One of Lebed's key campaign pledges was to
crackdown on crime and corruption, but his preference for tough methods
has aroused concern about human rights violations. -- Penny Morvant

ZHIRINOVSKY WILL VOTE AGAINST BOTH. Liberal Democratic Party leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky announced that he will vote against both candidates
in the runoff, AFP reported on 1 July. He won more than four million
votes in the first round, 5.7% of those voting, and expects that his
voters will follow his lead. Zhirinovsky had ruled out any kind of
alliance with the communists and set conditions for a coalition with
Yeltsin that the president would never accept. -- Robert Orttung

EXPLOSION AT GROZNY POLLING STATION. Windows of nearby buildings were
blown out and many residents injured by flying glass after an explosion
at a polling station in Grozny during the early morning of 2 July, ITAR-
TASS reported. Voting in the second round of the Russian presidential
election opens in Chechnya on 2 July. Four Russian-Chechen working
groups convened on 1 July to discuss issues connected with the
implementation of the 10 June peace agreement but made only negligible
progress. -- Liz Fuller

JAPANESE PREACHER EXPELLED FROM RUSSIA. Kenjiro Aoki, a preacher for the
Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, was expelled from Russia
on 1 July for repeated visa violations, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Aoki, who was first charged in April, pleaded guilty in the
Tatarstan capital Kazan to charges of breaking Russia's passport regime,
which still requires foreigners to list places where they visit. His
departure comes days after Yeltsin's new security chief Lebed spoke out
against the proliferation of religious sects in Russia (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 28 June 1996). The U.S. State Department described Lebed's
derogatory remarks about the Mormons as "worrisome." Many other Russian
politicians and Orthodox Church leaders have expressed concern about the
activities of cults and sects. -- Penny Morvant

JEWISH LEADER DENIED VISA. Russian authorities refused to grant a visa
to David Harris, director of the American Jewish Congress, who wanted to
participate in a congress on Jews of the former Soviet Union in St
Petersburg, AFP reported on 1 July. The refusal came despite
intervention on Harris's behalf by the U.S. State Department. There have
been several reports of harassment of Jewish Agency branches in Russia
in recent months. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed told
reporters on 2 July that he intends to introduce a stricter visa regime
for foreigners intent on visiting Russia, including citizens from former
Soviet republics. He suggested countries will be graded by the extent of
their "friendliness" towards Russia. -- Peter Rutland

Procurators in Stavropol Krai have launched criminal proceedings against
Aleksei Kulyakovskii, Yeltsin's former special representative in the
region, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 July. Kulyakovskii has been charged with
illegal financial dealings, and investigators have said that they may
turn to law enforcers abroad for help in locating accounts in his name
in foreign banks. Yeltsin sacked Kulyakovskii in late May for misusing
public funds intended for the development of the spa resort Mineralnye
Vody (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 May 1996). -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIAN MUFTIS BACK REFORMS. Russian Muslim religious leaders, at a
conference on "Democracy and Islam's destiny in Russia," have supported
the course of reforms and President Yeltsin as its guarantor, ITAR-TASS
and Russian TV (RTR) reported on 1 July. At the conference, they
established the Council of Russia's Muftis which aims to protect
Muslims' rights and represent their interests in state structures.
Meanwhile, a new political movement, the Muslims of Tatarstan, has been
constituted in the Tatar capital Kazan, Segodnya reported on 28 June.
The movement's leader, Mufti Khazrat Gabdulla, declared that it would
not campaign for any presidential candidate, but be involved in politics
in general. -- Anna Paretskaya

BOMB BLAST PREVENTED IN NORTH OSSETIYA. A major blast was prevented on 1
July at a transport hub in the North Caucasus, a spokesman for the
Federal Security Service (FSB) told ITAR-TASS. A team of local and
federal security officers located a powerful explosive device planted at
the Prokhladny railway station between Mozdok and Vladikavkaz in North
Ossetiya. The device was reportedly programmed to explode during the
rush hour. The team had been investigating the Nalchik bus explosion,
which killed five people on 28 June. -- Penny Morvant

first time, launched ballistic missiles simultaneously from "several
nuclear submarines," a spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 1 July. The launches
took place during a 28 June exercise, and were "recognized as
successful," the spokesman said. The aim of the exercise was said to be
to test "the actual combat readiness of the nuclear deterrence forces of
the Russian Navy." Last week a navy official announced that the Navy
would begin receiving a new generation of strategic submarines beginning
in 2002. -- Doug Clarke

CHERNOMYRDIN UPBEAT ON ECONOMY. At a press conference on 1 July Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that inflation was only 1.2% in June,
down from 1.6% in May, ITAR-TASS reported. Inflation cumulated to 16.5%
for the first half of 1996. The same day Chernomyrdin addressed the
sixth meeting of the Consultative Council on foreign investments.
Chernomyrdin tried to reassure the investors that Russia has achieved a
degree of economic stability. Interviewed in Vek on 21 June, Economics
Minister Yevgenii Yasin stated that foreign investment for the whole of
1995 amounted to only $230 million, but rose to $884 million in the
first quarter of 1996. This figure seems rather high, and may include
pledges as opposed to actual fund transfers. The figure did not include
some $2.5 billion that foreigners have spent buying government
securities. -- Peter Rutland

July published an open letter from leading Russian and American
economists, including Leonid Abalkin, Stanislav Shatalin, and Nobel
prize winners Vassily Leontieff, James Tobin, and Lawrence Klein. They
argued that the government should play a greater role in the
transitional economy, since laissez-faire policies have failed to
achieve the desired results.  -- Natalia Gurushina in Moscow

NEW RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE TAKES EFFECT. The new "inclined exchange rate"
formally took effect on 1 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The Central Bank
announced the day's exchange rate to be 5,119 rubles to the dollar. The
new inclined rate system, similar to a "crawling peg," was introduced
informally on 16 May, and replaces the "ruble corridor" introduced on 5
July 1995, when the band was set at 4,300-4,900 rubles to the dollar.
The new system fixes the currency band at 5,000-5,600 rubles to the
dollar for the next six months, with the Central Bank announcing an
official rate each day based on the market rate. The system allows a
gradual devaluation of the ruble while providing some predictability to
the exchange rate. -- Peter Rutland


Tracatelis, the head of a European Parliament delegation, told a press
conference in Yerevan at the end of a tour of Transcaucasus capitals
that a joint commission will be established to supervise implementation
of the cooperation and partnership agreement signed between Armenia and
the EU, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 July. Tracatelis expressed the hope that
a fair solution could be found to the Karabakh conflict which was the
subject of discussion in all three capitals. -- Liz Fuller

ultranationalists and religious right are well organized and represented
in the Turkophone republics of Central Asia and Azerbaijan, according to
parliamentarian Ahmet Ketenci, Cumhuriyet reported on 1 July. The
center-left deputy said three groups are active in Azerbaijan: those
connected with the pan-Turkist MHP (National Action Party of Alparslan
Turkes), the Islamist RP (Welfare Party of now Prime Minister Necmettin
Erbakan) and those linked with Imam Fetullah Gulen (a controversial
cleric also known as Fetullah Hoca, who is involved in establishing
dozens of middle schools in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans). --
Lowell Bezanis

Saparmurad Niyazov has adopted a neutral posture on Russia's
presidential election, according to a 30 June RIA agency report
monitored by the BBC. Niyazov made it clear that Ashgabat seeks "good-
neighborly" relations with Moscow whoever is elected president. He also
pointed out that the two countries "don't have a single disputed or
vague issue" between them. Meanwhile, on 28 June Niyazov decreed that
private farmers are no longer required to sell their produce to the
state at regulated prices, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 June. The BBC
monitored report indicated that "strategic" types of produce (food,
grain, and cotton) may only be sold on the domestic market while others
may be exported. The ruling applies only to agricultural produce grown
outside the state sector. -- Lowell Bezanis

elections to the Mongolian parliament, the Great Hural, proved a
surprise as the Democratic Union (DU) Coalition took 50 of 76 seats,
Western media reported. The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party
(MPRP), which had been in power since 1921 and still consisted of former
communists, was expected to maintain its majority in the Hural, but
inflation and unemployment persuaded voters to opt for change. The MPRP
took 70 of the 76 seats in the 1992 elections. Among a field of 304
candidates the DU hoped simply to get 23 seats, enough for veto power.
Former US Secretary of State James Baker was an observer at the
elections and said Mongolia will be seen as having "successfully
embraced democracy," according to AFP. Voter turnout was high at 87.3
%.-- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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