You see things and you say 'Why?' But I dream thing that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'. - Geroge Bernard Shaw
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 130, Part I, 8 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

DUMA DEFENSE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ACCUSES GENERALS OF CORRUPTION... Duma
Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, in a speech to the Duma on 5
July, attacked former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev for allowing
"massive criminal embezzlement in the armed forces" and accused five top
generals of corruption, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rokhlin,
who commanded the Russian assault on Grozny in January 1995, said his
findings were based on the results of an investigation by the Accounting
Chamber into a Moskovskii komsomolets report on corruption in housing
construction for the military. Rokhlin accused Defense Ministry
Inspector Gen. Konstantin Kobets of turning a blind eye to shady
dealings by the Lyukon construction company, of which Kobets' son was
said to be a cofounder, and alleged that Vasilii Vorobev, former head of
the ministry's main budget and finance department, had illegally
transferred huge sums abroad. The other generals implicated by Rokhlin
were Grachev's brother-in-law Col.-Gen. Dmitrii Kharchenko, Col.-Gen.
Vyacheslav Zherebtsov, and Col.-Gen. Vladimir Churanov. Rokhlin also
laid out his allegations in an article in Dom i Otechestvo, No 17. --
Penny Morvant

...AND FAVORS RODIONOV FOR DEFENSE MINISTER. In the same speech, Rokhlin
proposed appointing Gen. Igor Rodionov as Russia's new defense minister.
Rodionov's candidacy has been supported by Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed. Rokhlin also backed Lebed's call for more powers over
the defense and security establishment, advocating the creation of a
Military Council under the jurisdiction of the Security Council that
would be in charge of all bodies responsible for defense and security.
Several observers have contended that the timing of Rokhlin's speech was
linked to the debate over the appointment of the new defense minister,
arguing that his aim was to support Rodionov and discredit Kobets,
another possible candidate for the post, NTV reported. -- Penny Morvant

REACTION TO CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS. Following Rokhlin's accusations, the
Duma adopted a resolution demanding a legal investigation of the abuses.
The deputies instructed the Accounting Chamber to audit the Military
Insurance Company and the Rosvooruzhenie military exporter, two firms
linked by Rokhlin to shady deals. ITAR-TASS on 5 July quoted an unnamed
member of the military procurator's office as saying that 428 officers
faced criminal charges in 1995. Kobets said the allegations were without
foundation and had only one goal--to discredit candidates for the post
of defense minister. He denied that his son had any connection with the
Lyukon company, Ekho Moskvy reported. Vorobev also said the accusations
were groundless and had already been investigated on more than one
occasion. He announced his intention to sue Rokhlin. -- Penny Morvant

LEBED SAYS HE WILL CONFIRM NEW "POWER MINISTERS." Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed told ITAR-TASS on 6 July that while Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has the overall responsibility for forming
a new government, appointments to the "bloc of power ministries should
be agreed with me." Lebed denied widespread media reports that he and
Chernomyrdin are now engaged in a struggle for influence over the
composition of the new government, saying "there are no contradictions"
between himself and the Prime Minister. "Each has his own affairs,
everything is normal," he declared. Speaking after an inspection of the
Ministry of Emergency Situations, Lebed also responded angrily to the
announcement on 5 July by Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev that his
ministry will "strictly monitor" the Security Council's activity. Lebed
said he would be "accountable" like all other ministers, and derisively
attributed Russia's problems to an excess of "bosses and supervisors."
-- Scott Parrish

DUMA PASSES LAW ON FASCISM. The Duma on 5 July approved a draft law
banning fascism in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill instructed the
Interior Ministry to warn all groups engaged in such activities and
bring legal action against repeat offenders. Yeltsin issued a similar
decree on 23 March 1995 in an attempt to crackdown on fascist groups on
the eve of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. That measure
had little visible effect. -- Robert Orttung

TV NETWORKS STILL SHY AWAY FROM HEALTH ISSUE. Analytical programs
broadcast on 7 July on state-run RTR and the private network NTV devoted
considerable time to reviewing the election results, Yeltsin's
successful campaign strategy, the likely composition of the new cabinet,
and Yeltsin's priorities for his second term. However, in reviewing the
week's events, neither RTR's "Zerkalo" nor NTV's "Itogi" discussed the
continuing questions concerning the president's health, or the fact that
their networks' television cameras were not allowed to film Yeltsin
voting on 3 July. NTV avoided the issue altogether, while RTR's Nikolai
Svanidze only hinted that since Yeltsin first took office, he "has not
become healthier" and must now "reconcile his political temperament with
his actual physical capacities." -- Laura Belin in Moscow

IZVESTIYA REPORTS "SECRET" YELTSIN LETTER TO CLINTON ON BALTICS. On 6
July, Izvestiya summarized a confidential letter President Yeltsin sent
to his American counterpart Bill Clinton in an attempt to influence
Clinton's stance during his 25 June meeting with the three Baltic
presidents. Written in a "harsh" tone, the letter appealed to Clinton to
reverse American "indifference" to the situation of the Russian
minorities in Estonia and Latvia and pressure Riga and Tallin to take a
more "objective" approach to the issue. The letter also reiterated
Russia's "categorical" rejection of even "the hypothetical possibility"
of NATO membership for the Baltics, but supported their joining the EU.
The paper speculated that Yeltsin's letter may have had some impact,
since Clinton disappointed the Baltic presidents with only vague
assurances about NATO membership, and also made a token reference to the
minority issue. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA REITERATES NEED FOR NEW TREATY WITH NORTH KOREA. Speaking during
a reception at the North Korean embassy marking the 35th anniversary of
the signing of the 1961 Soviet-North Korean Treaty of Friendship and
Cooperation, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov said the treaty had
"fulfilled its historic role" and should be replaced, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 6 July. Russia unilaterally renounced the
defense assistance clauses of the treaty in 1993, and last year informed
Pyongyang that it would not renew the treaty, which expires this
September. Panov said that although Moscow has submitted the draft of a
new treaty without a military assistance clause to Pyongyang, it has
received no response yet. He added that Moscow hopes to build equally
good relations with both North and South Korea. -- Scott Parrish

CHECHEN PEACE AGREEMENT IN JEOPARDY. Russian forces renewed artillery
bombardment of villages in south-east Chechnya on 7 July amid mutual
accusations of non-compliance with the peace agreements of 27 May and 10
June, Russian and Western media reported. A spokesman for Chechen chief
of staff Aslan Maskhadov said that the Russian forces had failed to
remove roadblocks in places outside Chechen towns and villages or to
close filtration camps by the 7 July deadline, according to AFP; the
Russians accuse the Chechens of continuing attacks on Russian forces.
Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's personal
representative for Chechnya, Sergei Drogush, travelled to Grozny on 6
July to prepare for a visit by Lebed himself. Lebed was quoted by ITAR-
TASS as stating that he would meet with Chechen opposition
representatives only if asked to do so by pro-Moscow Chechen head of
state Doku Zavgaev. Radio Rossii quoted Zavgaev on 7 July as stating
that he is prepared to begin peace negotiations with acting Chechen
president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. -- Liz Fuller

NEW FEDERAL COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA. President Boris Yeltsin has replaced
Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov as the commander of federal troops in
Chechnya, Russian TV reported on 7 July. The information was said to
have come from the command headquarters in Grozny. Tikhomirov's
replacement was said to be Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskiy, the deputy
commander of the North Caucasus Military District. Tikhomirov, with the
reputation of a hardliner, saw little hope in a negotiated settlement of
the conflict. The previous day he was quoted by Radio Russia as saying
attempts to hold a constructive dialogue with the "bandits" were
fruitless. -- Doug Clarke

IS RUSSIA FACING A FINANCIAL CRISIS? Speaking at the Carnegie Foundation
in Moscow on 6 July, Washington-based economist Anders Aslund said he
does not believe that an economic crash will occur in Russia later this
year. Aslund said that pre-election spending promises were lower than
many reports suggest, and that "inflationary budgets are a thing of the
past." In contrast, Mikhail Delyagin argued in the 5 July edition of
Izvestiya that some sort of financial crisis is inevitable, given that
in April the federal budget deficit reached 7.1% of GDP, roughly double
the limit allowed in the agreement between Russia and IMF. -- Laura
Belin in Moscow and Peter Rutland

DUMA PASSES LAW ON TROPHY ART. The Duma on 6 July passed a bill making
artworks transported from Germany to the Soviet Union during World War
II the legal property of the Russian Federation, international agencies
reported. The draft must be approved by President Yeltsin and the
Federation Council before it becomes law. Negotiations between Germany
and Russia over so-called trophy art have been deadlocked for the past
two years. Russian officials argue that the 200,000 or so artworks and 2
million books seized by Soviet troops are just compensation for the
massive cultural losses the USSR sustained during the war. Germany,
however, demands that Russia abide by international law, which prohibits
the seizure of national art treasures. German Foreign Minister Klaus
Kinkel told a German weekly on 7 July that if Russia pressed ahead with
its "unilateral action," Russian-German relations would suffer. -- Jan
Cleave

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN OBSERVERS' MANDATE IN ABKHAZIA TO BE EXTENDED? UN Secretary-General
Boutros Boutros-Ghali has recommended to the Security Council that the
mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Abkhazia (UNOMIG), which is due to
expire this month, be renewed until January, 1997, ITAR-TASS reported on
4 July. The head of the UN mission, Liviu Bota, informed the
secessionist Abkhaz leadership on 5 July that Georgia is ready to renew
talks on future relations between Abkhazia and the leadership in
Tbilisi, and handed over a message on the resumption of talks from
Boutros-Ghali's special envoy for Abkhazia, Eduard Brunner. On 6 July,
an OSCE mission called for an international investigation into grave
human rights violations in Abkhazia including what it termed a campaign
of genocide against ethnic Georgians, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

KAZAKHSTAN, CHINA SIGN JOINT DECLARATION. China and Kazakhstan signed a
joint declaration on bilateral cooperation and friendship following a
three-day official visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Western,
Russian and Chinese media reported on 4 and 5 July. Both countries
pledged to begin the boundary demarcation process in the spirit of the
Shanghai agreement of this April, conclude a treaty on mutual reduction
of border troops, and expand trade. China promised a moratorium on
nuclear testing in September. Russian Radio reported on 5 July that
Kazakhstan's security officials prevented Uighur separatists and anti-
nuclear activists from staging protests. -- Bhavna Dave

KYRGYZ-CHINESE COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Before arriving in Almaty,
President Jiang Zemin signed a series of agreements with Kyrgyzstan on 4
July, concluding a two-day visit to Bishkek, Chinese and Western media
reported. Five agreements on bilateral cooperation in civil and legal
affairs, air transport, customs, meteorological technology and banking
were signed. China also offered 3 million yuan ($370,000) aid in goods
to Kyrgyzstan. Both countries have concluded a demarcation of all but
one mountain portion of the state border between the two countries,
Xinhua reported on 4 July. -- Bhavna Dave

TAJIK GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION ON FIGHTING IN TAVIL DARA. After days of
fierce fighting, both sides claim to be in possession of the strategic
city of Tavil Dara, Western and Russian media reported. On 5 July, Tajik
Presidential Spokesman Zafar Saidov acknowledged that not only were
government troops in control of the city, but had moved 2-3 kms
eastward. In addition, at least 10 other villages had been retaken in
fighting that resumed in late June. Ali Akbar Turajonzoda of the
National Islamic Movement denied these claims, noting that the
government attack had been repulsed after sustaining heavy casualties,
AFP reported on 6 July. Opposition sources claim that Tavil Dara, which
they have controlled since 12 May, is still firmly in their possession.
Meanwhile, the latest round of inter-Tajik peace talks resumed on 8 July
in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
will attend the talks. -- Roger Kangas

TURKMEN, IRANIAN, AND ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Boris
Shikhmuradov, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Vahan Papazyan concluded a two-day
meeting in Ashgabat on 4 July at which they signed several long-term
cooperation accords, Western and Iranian sources reported. At the center
of the agreements is a three-way barter trade that would send Turkmen
gas to Armenia, Armenian rubber and light bulbs to Iran, and
"unspecified goods and services" from Iran to Turkmenistan, with each
shipment estimated at $20 million, Reuters reported on 5 July. Equally
important is the commitment on the part of the three foreign ministers
to continue working together on issues of regional concern. The
ministers will meet again in six months' time in Yerevan. -- Roger
Kangas

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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