Miracles are natural. When they do not occur, something has gone wrong. - A Course in Miracles

No. 135, Part I, 15 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


FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA CONTINUES. Chechen forces launched an unsuccessful
attack on Russian positions near Shatoi on 12 July in retaliation for
the bombardment of Chechen villages, Western agencies reported. Russian
forces finally established control of Gekhi on 13 July but as of 14
July, they continued to blockade Makhketi, Tsentaroi, Benoi, and Vedeno
in the southeast, according to Reuters. On 12 July, Chechen head of
state Doku Zavgaev said it is imperative to begin talks with the Chechen
opposition "at the very highest level," Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported. Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov similarly called
for tripartite talks to include Moscow representatives and both Chechen
factions, according to ITAR TASS. On 13 July, acting Chechen President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said that peace talks with Moscow should be renewed
only with UN mediation, and on condition that the Russian troops agree
to abide by the agreements already signed, Ekho Moskvy and Reuters
reported. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN HEALTH CONCERNS LINGER. President Yeltsin announced that he will
take an unplanned two-week holiday at the state sanitarium in Barvikha,
ITAR-TASS reported on 15 July. Yeltsin also canceled a meeting with U.S.
Vice President Al Gore on 15 July but then rescheduled it for 16 July at
Barvikha. Late last week, the president said that he had no plans to
take a rest as he would be working with Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin on forming the new cabinet. During the presidential
campaign, the pro-Yeltsin media ignored the question of his health,
fearing that such concerns would reduce his support. However, the 13
July edition of Moskovskaya pravda raised a number of questions about
Yeltsin's ability to carry out his duties. The paper suggested that
Yeltsin has turned down treatment because he is afraid that it could
hurt his political image. -- Robert Orttung

POLICE ON THE OFFENSIVE IN MOSCOW. The police presence on the streets of
Moscow has been stepped up in the wake of last week's two trolley bus
blasts and the announcement of tough new measures to combat crime in the
capital. According to AFP, citing Interfax, police have detained some
6,000 people since the 12 July blast. President Boris Yeltsin said on 12
July that he had signed a new decree on combating terrorism, and Luzhkov
pledged to get rid of "all those down-and-outs, scoundrels, casual
workers who come here with a view to robbery, theft, and banditry" and
said that "the entire [Chechen] diaspora must be evicted from Moscow,"
NTV reported. Leaders of the Russian Muslim Union have warned that
Luzhkov's clean-up operation could lead to repressions against
Caucasians. One report claimed that a Chechen field commander had taken
responsibility for the bombings, but both the pro-Moscow and the
separatist Chechen leadership has denied involvement. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN CALLS FOR NEW IDEOLOGY. President Yeltsin called for the
creation of a "national idea" in a meeting with his campaign workers on
12 July, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that the various stages in Russian
history--monarchy, totalitarianism, perestroika--each had their own
ideology, but that the current democratic path of government does not
have one. He called for the new ideology to be defined within one year.
-- Robert Orttung

new law on the transfer of presidential power by a vote of 299-1 with
five abstentions, Russian TV (RTR) reported. Yeltsin had vetoed the
previous version of the law on 20 June and his representative in the
Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, had informed the deputies that he is against
adopting such a law, Segodnya reported on 13 July. The deputies,
however, claimed that the new law addresses the four objections Yeltsin
raised to the first draft in his veto notice to the Duma. The president
is unlikely to sign the bill before his 9 August inauguration, so any
legal codification of the transition will take place in the year 2000,
when Yeltsin should hand over power to his successor. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA FAILS TO OVERCOME VETO ON LAND CODE. The parliament's lower house
failed on 12 July to overcome the Federation Council veto on the draft
land code, Russian TV reported. Three hundred votes are needed to
override a veto, but only 269 deputies voted for the draft; 53 voted
against and three abstained. The upper house opposed restrictions in the
Duma draft on the sale of arable land. A conciliation commission is to
be formed to revise the draft, but it is likely to experience
difficulties finding a compromise as the two houses have diametrically
opposed views on the code. -- Penny Morvant

reports, in particular a feature article in Time magazine, about several
U.S. political consultants who say they helped secure President
Yeltsin's reelection have evoked a mixed reaction among Russian
observers. The pro-Communist Sovetskaya Rossiya, which frequently
portrays Yeltsin as beholden to Western interests, prominently published
a story about the Americans on 6 July. Komsomolskaya pravda on 11 July
published an interview with one of the consultants, Felix Braynin, who
claimed implausibly that his team even played a role in ousting Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev. NTV offered a more skeptical view on 14 July,
citing presidential campaign advisers such as Georgii Satarov, Viktor
Ilyushin, and Vasilii Shakhnovskii, who said they never met the
Americans and dismissed their claims as self-promotion. NTV anchor
Yevgenii Kiselev suggested that the Time article reflected a certain
"American-centrism." -- Laura Belin

presidential election, in which President Yeltsin gained about 35% of
the vote and Gennadii Zyuganov 32%, reflected the real preferences of
the population, according to a lengthy commentary published in
Sovetskaya Rossiya on 13 July. The paper attributed Yeltsin's lopsided
second-round victory to a combination of factors: pressure from local
elites; fraud in some regions; the media's success in spreading fear of
a Communist comeback; and especially Aleksandr Lebed's decision to join
Yeltsin's team between the rounds. In the regions where Lebed did
especially well on 16 June, Yeltsin's gains on 3 July were much greater
than his average vote increase nationwide, the paper argued. -- Laura

weekly Kazanskoe vremya has published an article claiming that Tatar
President Mintimer Shaimiev was involved in falsifying the results of
the first round of the presidential election. Shaimiev also threatened a
dozen local administration heads ion regions where the Communist did
well in the first round with dismissal if they failed to influence
voters' preferences in the second round, Ekspres-khronika reported on 14
July, citing the newspaper. The preliminary results of the first round
in Tatarstan gave Gennadii Zyuganov 40.5% of the vote to President
Yeltsin's 37%, while the final report gave Yeltsin 38.34% and Zyuganov
38.10%; in the second round Yeltsin led by about 30% of the vote. The
Procurator-General's Office is investigating the reports (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 11 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA ATTACKS LEBED. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 13 July
slammed Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's comments on
Chechnya and his apparent support for the renewed fighting there,
charging that "Russian history knows not a few tragic episodes related
to generals' attempts to assume political responsibility, and in many
instances, after the predictably bloody outcomes, those generals
attributed their failures to anybody but themselves." Before Lebed's
rise to power, the paper had given him more sympathetic coverage. Lebed
had been harshly critical of the conduct of the Chechen war during the
presidential election campaign. However, in a 3 April Nezavisimaya
gazeta article he urged President Yeltsin to fight on to a victory which
he thought was very close (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 April 1996). --
Robert Orttung

LUZHKOV BEGINS TO FORM GOVERNMENT. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, reelected
on 16 June, has started to form his new city government. On 12 July, he
named Boris Nikolskii, Valerii Shantsev, Vladimir Resin, and Oleg
Tolkachev as his first deputies, Ekho Moskvy reported. Resin and
Nikolskii were Luzhkov's first deputies in the previous administration;
two other former first deputies have as yet not invited to join the city
government. Prior to the election, Shantsev, Luzhkov's running mate, was
Moscow's South Okrug prefect, while Tolkachev headed the Moscow Property
Committee. -- Anna Paretskaya

U.S. VICE PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW. Al Gore, the first high-ranking Western
official to visit Russia since the presidential election, arrived in
Moscow on 13 July for the seventh session of the bilateral economic
cooperation commission he co-chairs with Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, Russian and Western media reported. While Gore hailed
Yeltsin's reelection as "opening a new phase in Russian history," he
added that he planned to urge Russian officials to end the renewed
fighting in Chechnya. He will also discuss disputed issues like NATO
expansion and Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran during his visit.
Gore and Chernomyrdin held their first meeting at a dacha outside Moscow
on 14 July, while U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry met with
acting Russian Defense Minister Mikhail Kolesnikov to discuss bilateral
military cooperation and disarmament. -- Scott Parrish

Russian position has cleared the way for the implementation of a new
multilateral arms export control regime, known as the Wassenaar Accord,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 13 July. Negotiators from 31
countries, including Russia, reached agreement in Vienna on a
preliminary framework for the regime, which had been threatened in April
when Russia refused to agree to advance notification of certain arms
sales. Western diplomats said Russia had now relented and agreed to
inform other members of the group in advance of deals involving
restricted weapons and dual-use technologies. The organization will be
based in Vienna, and the delegates also invited Ukraine and Bulgaria to
join. However, the negotiators could not agree on who will head it. --
Scott Parrish

Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 12 July that Tokyo is not
interested in pursuing Moscow's recent offer of joint economic
activities on the disputed southern Kuril islands (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 11 July 1996). Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro
Hashimoto on 11 July announced that he will not attend President
Yeltsin's 9 August inauguration, ending several days of contradictory
comment on the issue. -- Scott Parrish

Yeltsin has vetoed laws ratifying three bilateral agreements with
Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia that allow their citizens to serve
in the Russian Border Troop units stationed on their territory, RIA
reported on 13 July. He charged that the ratification documents included
State Duma statements that effectively amended the original treaties. --
Doug Clarke


Prosecutor's Office arrested six personal bodyguards of Vardiko
Nadibaidze in Tbilisi, and charged them with robbing a local jewelry
store, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 July, citing Rezonansi. The men
reportedly took $8,000 and a large quantity of jewelry from the shop. --
Doug Clarke

GEORGIA APPLIES FOR CE MEMBERSHIP. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli
Menagharishvili on 14 July sent a formal request for membership in the
Council of Europe (CE) to the organization's secretary-general, Daniel
Tarschys, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. In May 1996, Georgia was granted
"special guest" status in the CE. Tarschys is currently touring the
Transcaucasian states. -- Liz Fuller

UN EXTENDS UNOMIG MANDATE. On 12 July, the UN Security Council voted
unanimously to extend mandate of the 136-man UN Observer Mission in
Abkhazia (UNOMIG) by another six months, Western agencies reported. A
corresponding council resolution expressed "deep concern" that UN-
mediated talks had failed to make any progress toward a political
settlement of the conflict and that the repatriation of ethnic Georgian
refugees to their homes in Abkhazia has been effectively stalled. In a
letter addressed to the council last week, Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze had asked the body to "peacefully pressure" the Abkhaz
leadership into renewing peace talks. -- Liz Fuller

Minister Boris Shikhmuradov and Indian Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda
concluded an agreement to expand bilateral cooperation within the
framework of a separate trilateral agreement between India,
Turkmenistan, and Iran, PTI reported on 13 July. Gowda emphasized that
relations with Turkmenistan remain a "high priority" for India, and
added that the $15 million Indian credit to Turkmenistan, granted last
year, will facilitate the creation of joint ventures in the
pharmaceutics, oil, and gas industries. -- Bhavna Dave

TAJIK, KYRGYZ PRESIDENTS HOLD TALKS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and
his Tajik counterpart, Imomali Rakhmonov, agreed to strengthen bilateral
ties between their countries during talks in the Tajik capital Dushanbe
on 12 July, according to ITAR-TASS. Akayev also voiced his support for
an extension of the CIS peacekeeping mandate in Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan,
Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan have troops guarding the Tajik-Afghan
border. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIKS AGREE TO EXCHANGE PRISONERS. Representatives of the Tajik
government and the United Tajik Opposition agreed on 12 July to a
gradual exchange of prisoners, Reuters reported. The UN special envoy to
Tajikistan, Gerd Merrem, said the exchange will take place under the
supervision of the International Red Cross. The UTO announced it will
release the first 26 of an estimated 300 prisoners later in July.
Meanwhile, Tajik authorities in Dushanbe say that the situation in the
Tavil-Dara region is calm for the first time this year. Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov emphasized this by visiting the region on 11 July,
according to Tajik Radio. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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