The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 131, Part I, 9 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

MORE ON MILITARY CORRUPTION... Retired Lt.- Gen. Lev Rokhlin told
reporters on 8 July that the purpose of his revelations of high level
corruption in the military was to prevent the appointment of a dishonest
defense minister, arguing that that would be "mortally dangerous for the
army," ITAR-TASS reported. One of the generals named by Rokhlin was
Konstantin Kobets, tipped as a possible successor to Pavel Grachev.
Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov said that all Rokhlin's charges will
be investigated and called for a federal anti-crime program to be
coordinated by Security Council Chairman Aleksandr Lebed. Chief Military
Procurator Valentin Panichev, meanwhile, said that in the past two years
law enforcement agencies have launched 267 criminal cases over military
corruption; 36 officers were convicted of bribery in 1995 and 30 more
are still under investigation. More than 3,000 officials faced some sort
of administrative punishment and "several dozen" officers were forced to
step down. -- Penny Morvant

...CORRUPTION ELSEWHERE... Participants in a meeting at the Procurator-
General's Office on 8 July said that corruption has become endemic in
Russia and poses a real threat to reform, ITAR-TASS and ORT reported.
The most corruption-prone sectors reportedly include the State Property
Committee; the Central Bank; the Health, Agriculture, Defense, and
Interior Ministries; the Tax Police; the State Customs Committee; and
local power structures. First Deputy Procurator General Yurii Chaika
said that 14,000 corruption cases have been filed over the past two
years, one in three involving state officials, and that more than 1,000
violations concerning privatization have been reported recently. Chaika
added that First Deputy Chairman of the State Property Committee Petr
Mostovoi is currently under investigation. While government
representative at the gold-mining company Lenzoloto, Mostovoi allegedly
helped Australian firm Star Technologies acquire shares in the firm at a
discount. This is the second time Mostovoi has featured in an
investigation into privatization abuses. -- Penny Morvant

...AND NEWSPAPER ALLEGES CORRUPTION IN KREMLIN. In an article entitled
"favorites" in Novaya yezhednevnaya gazeta, journalist Aleksandr Minkin
has accused former Presidential Security Service head Aleksandr
Korzhakov, former Federal Security Service head Mikhail Barsukov, and
State Committee on Physical Culture and Tourism Chairman Shamil
Tarpishchev of corruption and other offenses, Ekho Moskvy and NTV
reported. The article includes an alleged transcript of a conversation
between former National Sports Fund head Boris Fedorov, who recently
survived an assassination attempt, and three others about Tarpishchev's
alleged embezzlement of state funds and contacts with organized crime.
Korzhakov and Barsukov are said to have protected Tarpishchev. The
article also cites a note from Fedorov, who used to work closely with
Tarpishchev, claiming that he has been forced to go public to prevent
Korzhakov and Barsukov from killing him. -- Penny Morvant

KOVALEV HOSPITALIZED. Russia's best-known human rights activist, Sergei
Kovalev, has been hospitalized after suffering a major heart attack,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 8 July. Kovalev, 66, spent 10
years in Soviet prisons and exile. He was Yeltsin's senior adviser on
human rights before breaking with the president over the Russian
military intervention in Chechnya. -- Penny Morvant

LEBED MEETS YELTSIN... President Boris Yeltsin approved in principle a
new statute for the Security Council drawn up by Aleksandr Lebed on 8
July at their regular Monday meeting, and ordered him to prepare the
final document, ITAR-TASS reported. No details of the plan were
provided, but Lebed has sought wide powers over military, police, and
economic issues and even the re-establishment of the vice presidency.
Yeltsin has authorized him to prepare a plan to fight organized crime
that would concentrate on improving the cooperation of Russia's law
enforcement agencies. The president created the Council on 3 June 1992
by decree and it is mentioned in the partially obsolete 1992 law On
Security. The 1993 Constitution states that there should be a law
governing the Security Council, but it has yet to be adopted. -- Robert
Orttung

...AND CHERNOMYRDIN. Lebed also met with Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin for the first time since he was appointed Security Council
Secretary and National Security Advisor. The two men discussed the
social, economic, and political situation in the country following the
elections, as well as Lebed's participation in Chernomyrdin's commission
for resolving the war in Chechnya. The two are rivals for power within
Yeltsin's inner circle with Lebed seeking to approve key ministers in
Chernomyrdin's cabinet. Chernomyrdin has denounced Lebed's proposal to
recreate the office of vice president. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN OPPONENTS RALLY IN ST. PETERSBURG. Supporters of Working
Leningrad, the regional branch of Viktor Anpilov's hardline Working
Russia, rallied in the center of St. Petersburg following the defeat of
Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov in the presidential election runoff,
Ekho Moskvy reported on 6 July. The participants carried red flags and
banners with slogans calling those who voted for President Yeltsin
spiritless slaves of the dollar and saying that they have betrayed the
motherland in line with the evil plans of the world's bankers.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Tatar Party of National Independence,
"Ittifak," Fauziya Bairamova, announced that she will establish a new
"popular patriotic movement" in Tatarstan which will continue opposing
Yeltsin and the regime of Tatar President Shaimiev, Ekspress-khronika
reported on 9 July. Bairamova said she expects the Communists to join
the new movement. -- Anna Paretskaya

DUMA BACKS RUSSIAN TROOPS IN TAJIKISTAN. The Duma Geopolitics Committee
concluded on 8 July that Tajikistan has become a target of Islamic
extremism and the exit of Russian troops would result in new tensions,
including the emergence of a bloc of Islamic states on the Russian
border, ITAR-TASS reported. There are some 25,000 Russian troops in
Tajikistan. The committee recommended that the troops remain in place to
"ensure security in the region and facilitate the resolution of the
Tajik conflict by peaceful means." Deputy Director of the Federal Border
Service Aleksandr Manilov said that the border guards also play a role
in preventing the import of narcotics and weapons. The full Duma will
discuss the issue next week. -- Robert Orttung

JAPAN SEEKS BETTER RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. In a telephone conversation
with President Yeltsin, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
expressed interest in activating negotiations at the level of foreign
ministers to hammer out a peace treaty with Russia, ITAR-TASS reported.
The leaders discussed the possibility of Hashimoto coming to Moscow,
though Hashimoto stressed that there would have to be some practical
purpose to it. No Japanese prime minister has made an official visit to
Moscow for almost 25 years. The Japanese were annoyed when Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov recently said that the Kuril Islands dispute
should be left to future generations. -- Robert Orttung

TIKHOMIROV: "I'M STILL IN COMMAND..." Contradicting media reports that
he had been relieved from his duties, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov
told reporters in Grozny on 8 July that he remained in command of the
joint group of federal forces in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported.
Tikhomirov had just returned from Moscow where he gave what he described
as a five-hour report on the state of affairs in Chechnya. On 9 July
presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev "categorically denied" that
Tikhomirov had been removed, AFP reported. -- Doug Clarke

...AS FIGHTING INTENSIFIES IN CHECHNYA. Tikhomirov on 8 July accused the
Chechen side of continuing to violate the 27 May and 10 June peace
agreements, and issued an ultimatum to acting Chechen President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and his men to release all hostages, and to provide
an explanation for all alleged breaches of the peace agreements, ORT
reported. The hostages include the pro-Moscow administrative head of
Grozny's Lenin raion, Lyudmilla Rodimushkina, who was abducted in Grozny
on 7 July. Tikhomirov threatened to take "adequate measures to eliminate
... the bandits and terrorists" if Yandarbiev failed to comply by 6 p.m.
local time on 9 July. Meanwhile, Russian troops began shelling villages
in the south of Chechnya, Reuters reported on 9 July quoting Ekho
Moskvy. A night-time curfew will be imposed throughout Chechnya
beginning on 10 July, AFP reported on 9 July. -- Liz Fuller

ROKHLIN COMMITTEE PREPARES MILITARY REFORM DRAFT. A new draft law "On
military reform" has been submitted to President Boris Yeltsin for
consideration, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 9 July. The bill was
prepared by the Duma Defense Committee, chaired by Gen. Lev Rokhlin,
with the involvement of Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, a
former member of the committee. The draft calls for a series of measures
to introduce smaller, better funded armed forces by 2005. The army would
remain conscript-based until the completion of the reorganization.
Defense spending would be set at least 5% of GDP and 25% of the federal
budget, plus another 2% (10%) for law enforcement agencies. The draft
specifies the standardization of pay and conditions for all armed units,
currently spread across 20 different ministries and agencies. It also
calls for an end to the use of troops for construction, harvesting and
other non-military duties. -- Peter Rutland

TURKISH JOURNALISTS SENTENCED. Two Turkish journalists arrested for
entering Russia illegally were sentenced to three years imprisonment on
8 July, ITAR-TASS reported. Talip Ozshelik and Meshmet Ali Tekin were
sentenced by a court in Magaremkent, the town on the Dagestan-Azerbaijan
border where they were arrested trying to slip over the border last
November. The two journalists said they had been planning to cover the
war in Chechnya but had been unable to obtain visas. According to ITAR-
TASS, in May 1995 the two journalists had received visas to visit
Rostov-na-donu but had traveled without authorization to Chechnya. --
Penny Morvant

TVERUNIVERSALBANK COLLAPSES. One of Russia's largest commercial banks,
Tveruniversalbank, stopped operations and has been placed under the
Central Bank's temporary management, ORT reported on 8 July. Personal
accounts will be transferred to the state-owned Sberbank (Savings Bank).
The bank was estimated as the 17th or 23rd largest in Russia by ORT and
Reuters respectively. Experts differ on whether the bank's collapse is
due to managerial incompetence or is a sign of an impending banking
crisis. Speaking to OMRI, the head of the Institute for Economic
Analysis, Andrei Illarionov, suggested that the bank's crash may be
related to its involvement in operations with bills of exchange
(vekselya). Tveruniversalbank was a leading trader in these financial
instruments and attempted to play the role of the alternative Central
Bank or Finance Ministry by issuing its own vekselya which, however,
were not secured by real and liquid assets. -- Natalia Gurushina in
Moscow

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TRANSIT TRADE AGREEMENT IN CENTRAL ASIA. After four days of talks
between customs and immigration experts in Islamabad, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, China and Pakistan signed a protocol on unified customs
procedures for the transit of goods between the four countries on 6
July, according to BBC monitoring of Radio Pakistan. The agreement may
facilitate the Central Asian countries' access to Pakistan's ports. --
Bhavna Dave

NEW KYRGYZ ECONOMIC PROGRAM. The Kyrgyz government released a program
outlining the economic development of the country up to 2005, ITAR-TASS
reported. The main aims are doubling GNP and lowering the inflation rate
to 8% from the current level of 50%, said  Kyrgyz Economy Minister
Talaibek Koichumanov. The parliament needs to approve about 100 draft
laws to support the government's economic program, Koichumanov said. --
Bhavna Dave

RUSSIAN TO BE AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN KYRGYZSTAN. The Constitutional
Court of Kyrgyzstan has approved amendments to Article 5 of the
Constitution, thus granting Russian the status of an official language,
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 1 July. The article had defined Kyrgyz
as the state language, granting "equal rights" for the free development
and functioning of Russian and other languages, without conferring
special recognition upon Russian. Earlier this year, the Kyrgyz
parliament approved a proposal by President Askar Akayev that Russian be
granted the status of an official language to facilitate ties with the
CIS countries and prevent the emigration of Russian speakers. -- Bhavna
Dave

KARIMOV CALLS FOR POLITICAL REFORM IN UZBEKISTAN. Following his June
trips to Italy and the United States, Uzbek President Islam Karimov
stressed that the next task of his government is to institute reform
measures in the areas of human rights and individual freedoms, Narodnoe
slovo reported on 6 July. In a press conference on 5 July, Karimov noted
that active opposition parties, a Western-style press, and the
observance of citizens' rights are essential to the continued
development of Uzbekistan, noting that they would "ensure democracy" in
the country. Karimov also reiterated his position that Uzbekistan
supports CIS agreements, but not that organization's "deeper
integration." If implemented, the democratic reforms discussed by
Karimov would be a significant departure from current practices, as
noted in the May 1996 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki report. -- Roger
Kangas

INTER-TAJIK TALKS RESUME IN ASHGABAT. The continuation of the fifth
round of inter-Tajik peace talks began on 8 July in Ashgabat, Russian
and Western sources reported. UN Special Envoy to Tajikistan Gerd Merrem
attended, in addition to government and opposition representatives.
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov was in Ashgabat on the same
day for an official visit with the Turkmen government, but it is not
known if he will participate in the peace talks, Opposition
representative Ali Akbar Turajonzoda remarked that Russia must be an
active participant in the peace process, RTR reported. -- Roger Kangas

[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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