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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 134, Part I, 12 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
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RUSSIA

FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA CONTINUES . . . On 11 July, Russian forces launched
new air and artillery attacks around Vedeno and Elistanzhi in southeast
Chechnya, while the blockade of Gekhi and Makhety continued, Russian and
Western media reported. Lyudmila Radimushkina, the head administrator of
the central district in Grozny who was kidnapped on 7 July, was found
shot dead on 11 July. The same day, rebel commander Doku Makhaev was
killed while attempting to flee Gekhi. Also near that town, Maj. Gen.
Nikolai Skripnik, deputy commander of Interior Ministry troops in the
North Caucasus, died after his vehicle hit a mine. Ekho Moskvy reported
on 10 July that a group of fighters left Makhety intent on killing 27
relatives or clan members of pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev in
revenge for the 27 people killed in the 9 July bombardment of the town.
-- Peter Rutland

. . . WHILE LEBED BACKTRACKS ON ENDING THE WAR. Speaking in Moscow on 11
July, Aleksandr Lebed condoned the current offensive, saying that
federal commander Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov is "taking appropriate
measures" and that Russia will "fight until victory," AFP reported.
Lebed continued: "If Chechnya became independent, the republic of
Dagestan would be cut off. The situation then would not be simpler, and
there would be a major war in the Caucasus." -- Peter Rutland

U.S. BLAMES MOSCOW FOR FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA. U.S. State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns on 11 July blamed the renewed fighting in
Chechnya on a decision by the Yeltsin administration to "take a
different tack" now that the presidential election is over, Western
agencies reported. Burns said the U.S. deplores the "excessive and
inappropriate" use of force against civilians by Russian units. On the
same day, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, often criticized for
having an overly rosy view of Russia, said any attempt to impose a
military solution in Chechnya would result in "disaster." He said Vice
President Al Gore would raise the issue during his scheduled 14-16 July
visit to Moscow. Western governments had soft-pedaled criticism of
Russian policy in Chechnya during the presidential election campaign in
order to avoid harming Yeltsin's prospects, a decision which was harshly
criticized by international human rights groups. -- Scott Parrish

LEBED DEFINES NEW SECURITY COUNCIL POWERS. President Boris Yeltsin's 10
July decree on the Security Council gives its secretary, Aleksandr
Lebed, wide-ranging powers, NTV reported on 11 July. Lebed defined his
duties as covering four main types of security: defense, societal,
economic, and informational, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. He now
has the authority to oversee the activities of Russia's security
agencies, recommend punishments for bureaucrats not fulfilling their
duties, and supply information to the president on all individuals being
considered for high government posts. The council will oversee Russia's
domestic and foreign security, defense readiness, military cooperation,
and the development of a global information system, ITAR-TASS reported.
Lebed will also oversee security within Russia's regions. He wants to
appoint Inkombank's Vladimir Groshev as his deputy, Izvestiya reported
on 12 July. Groshev has prepared a plan for stabilizing Russia's market
economy and the paper considers him capable of putting together a good
team of economic advisers. -- Robert Orttung

MORE ON FIGHTING CRIME IN MOSCOW. Commenting on President Yeltsin's 10
July decree on tackling crime in Moscow, Lebed said the capital was
chosen as a testing-ground because of the large number of banks there
and the links between state bodies and criminal groups. The decree
focuses on organized crime and the black economy, giving Moscow's
police, tax police, and customs officials the power to confiscate assets
that do not figure in companies records. It also envisages increasing
the number of Interior Troops in the capital by 10,000 and reinforcing
the police, tax police, procuracy, and the courts. It allows homeless
people suspected of crimes to be held for up to 30 days and in certain
cases expelled from Moscow, Segodnya and AFP reported. Asked about the
allegations in Novaya gazeta (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 and 11 July 1996)
concerning three men in Yeltsin's inner circle, Lebed said the
Procurator-General's Office is investigating the case. -- Penny Morvant

JUDICIAL CHAMBER REPRIMANDS JOURNALIST, ORT OVER CHECHNYA REPORTS. . .
The president's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes reprimanded
controversial journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov and ORT for two reports
broadcast on 11 May and 2 June, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 July. Russian
soldiers were shown on Nevzorov's show "Dni" (Days) carrying the ears of
Chechen rebel fighters as trophies. During the hearings, the deputy head
of the pro-Moscow Chechen mission argued that the programs had inspired
hundreds of new volunteers to join the rebels, while the deputy
commander of Russian forces in the breakaway republic complained that
the show portrayed his soldiers as "monsters." The chamber has no power
to implement its decisions, but it asked the Procurator-General's Office
to investigate the broadcasts. Last year, it reprimanded Nevzorov for a
report he filmed in a women's prison (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 October
1995) -- Laura Belin

. . . AND RECOMMENDS BAN ON RIGHT-WING WEEKLY. The Judicial Chamber on
Information Disputes also recommended that the State Press Committee ban
the far-right weekly Pressa Rossii for stirring up social and ethnic
strife, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 July. The case was inspired by a recent
Izvestiya article entitled "Fascist propaganda in Muscovites'
mailboxes." Hearings revealed that the paper also printed erroneous
information regarding its founder and the address of its editorial
board. The chamber asked the Procurator-General's Office to investigate
the paper. -- Laura Belin

ANPILOV WANTS TO START NEW TV STATION. Working Russia leader Viktor
Anpilov announced that he wants to launch a new television station in
Russia to be called People's Television of Russia (NTR), ORT reported on
11 July. Anpilov denounced Russia's current media as an "empire of lies"
and called for resuming the "siege" of Ostankino. Ostankino is the
location of Russia's first channel ORT and was the scene of violent
clashes in October 1993 following President Yeltsin's decision to shut
down the Supreme Soviet. Anpilov hopes to collect the $50 million
necessary to start broadcasts from individual contributions. The Working
Russia leader said he would join a union with Gennadii Zyuganov's
Communist Party, if it did not join Yeltsin's cabinet, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Robert Orttung

CHUVASH PRESIDENT READY TO QUIT. The president of Chuvashiya, Nikolai
Fedorov, has offered his resignation to President Yeltsin following
Zyuganov's strong showing in the second round of the election in his
republic, Obshchaya gazeta (No.27) reported. Fedorov campaigned for
Yeltsin in Chuvashiya, despite the fact that the Communist Party is
strong in the republic. Gennadii Zyuganov received 62.6% of the vote to
Yeltsin's 31.8%. Although Yeltsin's administration has said that leaders
of regions that supported Zyuganov will not be fired, the newspaper
suggested that they may be punished indirectly; for example, Chuvashiya
did not receive any subsidies after it was hit by a hurricane in late
June, although neighboring regions were allotted federal budget money
for reconstruction -- Anna Paretskaya

FORMER ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR GUILTY FOR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. An inspection
commission looking into St. Petersburg's financial situation has blamed
former Mayor Anatolii Sobchak for the city's current problems, Radio
Rossii reported on 11 July. The commission, established by incoming
Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, has determined that the municipal budget
fell by half over the last three years and the local debt has doubled
over the last five months to reach 2.5 trillion rubles ($500 million).
The commission also accused Sobchak of inefficiently managing the
state's shares in privatized enterprises. The materials gathered during
the inspection were sent to the Procurator-General's Office, the tax
inspectorate, and the Federal Security Service. However, the radio
station questioned the commission's objectivity, since it was formed by
Sobchak's rivals in the gubernatorial race. -- Anna Paretskaya

ZHIRINOVSKY LIKENS NATO EXPANSION TO "BLOCKADE" OF RUSSIA. Delivering a
report to the Duma on the recent fifth annual session of the OSCE
parliamentary assembly in Stockholm, Liberal Democratic Party leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky said plans to enlarge NATO to include former Soviet
republics "suggest a geopolitical and economic blockade of Russia, ITAR-
TASS reported on 11 July. During the OSCE parliamentary assembly
session, which ended on 9 July, the Russian delegation voted against
adopting the Stockholm Declaration, a document outlining a future
European security system. Delegation head Ivan Rybkin said the Russian
deputies objected to a clause in the declaration which referred to an
enlarged NATO as one pillar of a new security order in Europe. The
assembly approved the original wording on a second vote despite Russian
objections. -- Scott Parrish

SECOND BOMB BLAST ON MOSCOW TROLLEY BUS. A bomb ripped through a trolley
bus in central Moscow on 12 July injuring at least 20 people, ITAR-TASS
reported. It was the second such blast in two days. Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, who has just been given a mandate to tackle
crime in the Russian capital, described the 11 July explosion as "an
insane terrorist act," contending that it was meant to "cause fear and
fatigue." Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he could not rule out a
Chechen link, while Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin
suggested that the explosion might have been the criminal world's answer
to the decree drafted by Lebed and Luzhkov on fighting crime in the
Moscow area. Speaking after the second explosion, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin said that he has decided to monitor the investigations
personally. -- Penny Morvant

ENERGY CRISES IN PRIMORE AND KOMI. Many homes and enterprises in
Vladivostok and other parts of Primorskii Krai have been suffering
severe power cuts for three days because of a payments crisis in the
area's fuel and energy sector, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 July. The power
company Dalenergo is owed almost 1.5 trillion rubles by customers and
cannot pay for fuel supplies. As a temporary measure, emergency stocks
of fuel oil from the Pacific Fleet are being transferred to the krai. In
early July, some coal companies stopped delivering supplies to debtor
customers. Meanwhile, the Komienergo power company in the northern
republic of Komi on 10 July cut or restricted power supplies to 150
consumers who have not paid their bills, Radio Rossii reported.
Komienergo is owed 1.1 trillion rubles and has not paid its workers
since February. -- Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT TRIES TO PRUNE SUPPORT FOR REGIONS. Chairing a meeting of the
government on 11 July, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov
said the federal budget will allot 55 trillion rubles ($10.7 billion) in
1996 to support for the regions, ITAR-TASS reported. This amounts to 13%
of the budget; Kadannikov rejected proposals to increase the share 25%.
Presidential adviser Aleksandr Livshits was quoted in Delovoi mir on 10
July as saying that the office for making payments to the regions will
shortly be "closed for accounting." -- Peter Rutland

BANKING CONFERENCE OPENS IN MOSCOW. Irina Sedova, deputy director of the
bank supervision department at the Central Bank (TsB), told a banking
conference on 11 July that the TsB withdrew the licenses from 145
commercial banks in the first half of this year, ITAR-TASS reported.
There were 2,605 banks in Russia as of 1 July 1996; 463 banks have been
closed since 1991. Sedova said that while around 30% of the banks are
still not in compliance with new, stricter TsB regulations, bank profits
in the first five months of 1996 totaled 10 trillion rubles ($2
billion). Aleksandr Khandruev, the first deputy chairman of the TsB,
evaluated their balance sheet more negatively. He said that over the
past year their total revenue was 18 trillion rubles and outlays 20
trillion rubles, meaning a loss of 2 trillion rubles. Earlier this week,
the TsB began temporary administration of Tveruniversalbank, Russia's
17th largest bank, and are still administering Unikombank, the 12th
biggest, which they took over earlier this year. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION FIGURE RELEASED FROM PRISON. The deputy leader of
the Azerbaijani Popular Front, Arif Pashayev, was released from prison
on 11 July, international media reported. Pashayev was initially jailed
for his role as a military unit commander in the surrender of the town
of Lachin to Armenian forces in May 1992. A September 1994 prison escape
and subsequent recapture resulted in a five-year sentence. An amnesty
signed by President Heidar Aliev combined with the president's personal
meetings with Pashayev's family members are cited as the reasons for the
release. Pashayev, though, still believes that he could be imprisoned
again, noting that certain members of the government "want him out of
the way." -- Roger Kangas

FATAL SHOOTING ON ABKHAZ-RUSSIAN BORDER. One of a group of four Abkhaz
was shot dead by Russian border guards during the night of 11-12 July
while attempting to cross illegally from Abkhazia into the Russian
Federation, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia closed its border with Abkhazia
at the time of the Russian military intervention in Chechnya in December
1994 in order to preclude the channelling of weapons and mercenaries to
fight on the Chechen side. -- Liz Fuller

CHINESE AUTHORITIES DENY MASS ARRESTS IN XINJIANG. Yusupbek Mukhlissi,
the exiled leader of the Uighur separatist group United National
Revolutionary Front (UNRF) based in the northwestern Chinese region of
Xinjiang, told AFP on 11 July that Chinese authorities have arrested
10,000 people in the village of Aqsu, near the Kyrgyz border and another
8,000 in the capital Urumqi. A Chinese government spokesman denied these
claims as "mere rumors," and said that there were only "several
thousand" arrests, AFP reported on 12 July. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
have consistently pledged support for China's efforts to control cross-
border separatist activities. Kazakhstani authorities prevented Uighur
leaders from staging a public protest during the Chinese President Jiang
Zemin's visit to Almaty last week. -- Bhavna Dave

KYRGYZ JOURNALIST SENTENCED. Another journalist from the Kyrgyz
independent weekly newspaper Res Publica has been jailed, Radio Mayak
reported on 11 July. Yrysbek Omurzakov was sentenced to two years in a
penal colony for slandering President Akayev, though the report did not
mention what was said or written about Akayev. Omurzakov, who is
appealing the decision, has already spent two months in solitary
confinement. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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