In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires. - Ben Franklin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 137, Part I, 17 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

COMMUNIST CRITICIZES CHUBAIS APPOINTMENT . . . Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev expressed dissatisfaction with the appointment of Anatolii
Chubais as presidential chief of staff, saying Chubais would
interfere in the government's work, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported
on 16 July. Chubais is widely disliked for his privatization program
but has said that he will not handle economic issues in his new post.
Seleznev also complained that mayors of Russian cities--many of whom
supported Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov in the presidential
election--would have difficulty working with Chubais, ITAR-TASS
reported. Chubais is expected to purge many of them before regional
elections this fall. In most cases, mayors were appointed to their
posts and will face elections for the first time. Seleznev said that
Chubais' appointment would not prevent the Duma from confirming Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. -- Robert Orttung

. . . WHILE DEMOCRATS PRAISE HIM. Sergei Belyaev, leader of the Our
Home Is Russia Duma faction, praised Chubais as someone capable of
implementing the president's decrees, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 July.
This view is widely held in the pro-Yeltsin Russian press. Irina
Khakamada, a member of the Russian Regions faction, claimed that
Chubais' appointment give market reforms an additional chance.
Nezavisimaya gazeta called his appointment "an almost ingenious
political move" on Yeltsin's part, saying that Chubais will
counterbalance the mutual animosity between Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chernomyrdin; this arrangement leaves
ultimate control in Yeltsin's hands. Moskovskii komsomolets on 17
July argued, however, that Chernomyrdin strongly supported Chubais'
appointment to help counter the influence of Lebed. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN REPORTED TO BE IN POOR PHYSICAL SHAPE. A U.S. correspondent
for Reuters, one of two U.S. journalists who accompanied Vice
President Al Gore to meet President Boris Yeltsin at the Barvikha
sanitarium outside Moscow, said Yeltsin was pale, had lost a lot of
weight, and appeared to have difficulty walking, Reuters reported on
16 July. The journalist, Laurence McQuillan, said that before Gore's
arrival, he and a number of other journalists had seen Yeltsin
shuffle gingerly across the room where the meeting was to be held:
"His head staring at the floor, Yeltsin clearly was concentrating
intently on walking," he noted. McQuillan contrasted Yeltsin's
appearance with the "vim and vigor" the president had displayed when
the journalist had last seen him in April, describing the difference
as "shocking." -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN-GORE COMMISSION FINISHES MEETING. The seventh session of
the U.S.-Russian Economic and Technological Cooperation Commission
ended on 16 July with U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin signing four agreements, Russian and Western agencies
reported. These included accords outlining cooperation in building
the Alpha space station, preventing industrial accidents and natural
disasters, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and were among a total
of 27 agreements signed during the session. Both Gore and
Chernomyrdin gave glowing assessments of the prospects for future
bilateral cooperation, with Chernomyrdin saying that Russia and the
U.S. are now "acting together." Gore hailed the opening of a "new
era" in bilateral economic ties, and downplayed concerns about
President Yeltsin's health, saying Yeltsin "was in very good spirits"
their 16 July meeting. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA THREATENS RETALIATION OVER HELMS-BURTON ACT. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Vladimir Andreev warned on 16 July that Russia
"reserves the right to take appropriate measures to protect Russian
firms" if they are harmed by provisions of the Helms-Burton act
tightening the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, ITAR-TASS reported.
Although U.S. President Bill Clinton has delayed for six months the
implementation of the act's most controversial provisions, allowing
lawsuits in U.S. courts against anyone "trafficking" in Cuban
property expropriated from U.S. citizens, other aspects of the law
may still provoke conflict with Moscow. Andreev specifically
criticized parts of the law that deny U.S. visas to businessmen using
expropriated property in Cuba. The law also bars U.S. aid from being
granted to countries which "assist" or "engage in non-market trade"
with Cuba, which could threaten disarmament. -- Scott Parrish

KULIKOV AGAINST WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA. Russian Interior Minister
Lt. Gen. Anatolii Kulikov said on 16 July that Russian troops should
not be withdrawn from Chechnya until "these die-hard groups of
mercenaries and criminals" are wiped out, AFP reported. Kulikov also
said he approves of last week's artillery bombardment of the village
of Gekhi, according to NTV. President Yeltsin believes in resuming
peace talks while continuing to suppress "provocations," his
spokesman Sergei Medvedev told ITAR-TASS. The head of the OSCE
mediation mission for Chechnya, Tim Guldimann, told Reuters that he
thinks the Russian military has overreacted and that acting Chechen
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev is seriously trying to implement the
ceasefire. Russian military spokesman Igor Melnikov denied that
Russian troops were responsible for the killing of at least 13
civilians in the suburbs of Grozny on 15 July, according to ITAR-
TASS. Meanwhile, Russian helicopter gunships attacked the town of
Shali, southeast of Grozny, on 16 July and Russian armored vehicles
took up positions in Shatoi Raion in preparation for a new offensive,
ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller

SOLDIER GETS SUSPENDED SENTENCE IN JOURNALIST'S DEATH. Sergei
Fedotov, the soldier who fired the two shots in June 1995 that killed
journalist Natalya Alyakina, was convicted of mishandling a firearm
but given a suspended two-year sentence, Russian and Western agencies
reported on 16 July. Alyakina was shot moments after her car passed
through a checkpoint near the southern Russian city of Budennovsk.
Fedotov claimed that his foot accidentally caused his gun to fire as
he was stepping into a tank, and the military prosecutor trying the
case had asked the court for an acquittal. Alyakina's widower,
Gizbert Mrozek, and the organization Reporters Sans Frontiers have
complained that the official investigation into the incident was
incomplete. Mrozek, who believes Fedotov could not have fired the
shots accidentally and may have been ordered to do so, has appealed
the verdict on the grounds that Fedotov's commanding officers were
never questioned. -- Laura Belin

FALSIFICATION OF VOTE COUNT ALLEGED IN KALMYKIYA. Eyewitnesses say
large-scale fraud took place during ballot-counting for the
presidential election in Kalmykiya, Reuters reported on 17 July. At
one of the Kalmyk capital's polling stations, ballots marked for
other candidates were being put on the pile for President Yeltsin
during the first round vote-count, the Communist Party observer told
Reuters. Another Communist observer, who tried to interfere with the
count, was threatened with dismissal from her job by a presidential
representative. Though the electoral law gives parties'
representative the right to be non-voting members of polling station
committees, observers in Kalmykiya were forcibly prevented from
sitting near the actual counting procedure. Kalmyk presidential
representatives and the republican electoral commission have denied
the allegations, saying the only violations were committed by
observers. Yeltsin won in Kalmykiya, a depressed rural region, with
70% of the vote compared with Gennadii Zyuganov's 27%. -- Anna
Paretskaya

YELTSIN REELECTION MOVEMENT TO CAMPAIGN FOR REGIONS. The parties and
movements that formed the All-Russian Movement for Public Support of
President Yeltsin's reelection campaign have decided to transform the
movement into an All-Russian Coordinating Council which will field
and support joint democratic candidates in the Russian regional and
local elections set for the end of this year, ITAR-TASS reported on
15 July. The movement issued a statement noting that the Communist
opposition will be out for political revenge in the regional
elections following its defeat in the presidential poll. The regional
elections will affect parliament since the upper house, the
Federation Council, is composed of regional and republican executive
and legislative heads. -- Anna Paretskaya

LUZHKOV UNVEILS NEW MOSCOW GOVERNMENT. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on
16 July unveiled the new city government and its district branches,
and announced the responsibilities of his first deputies, Russian
media reported. Boris Nikolskii will head the municipal economy
administration, Oleg Tolkachev will be in charge of economic policy
and property, Vladimir Resin will head the investment department, and
Valerii Shantsev, Luzhkov's running mate, will lead the social
affairs department. Luzhkov will be personally responsible for crime
and environmental issues. The number of ministers in the city
government, deputies, first deputies, and administration staff has
decreased. The Moscow prefects are unchanged, except for dismissed
Northwest Okrug head Valerii Parfenov, for whom a replacement has not
been announced, and South Okrug Prefect Shantsev who has been
replaced by Aleksandr Belyaev, former deputy of the Central Okrug
prefect. -- Anna Paretskaya

MOSCOW BACKS BOUTROS GHALI FOR SECOND TERM. Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov announced on 16 July that Russia will support UN
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali's reelection bid, Russian and
Western media reported. The move could cause conflict with
Washington, as the Clinton Administration has announced that it will
use the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council to block Boutros Ghali's
nomination for a second term. A deadlock could emerge if Moscow were
to use its veto power to similarly block candidates favored by the
U.S. Primakov praised Boutros Ghali's performance as UN secretary-
general, and asserted that Washington had provoked international
confrontation over the issue by publicly declaring its opposition to
his candidacy, noting that China, France, and the African countries
also back the incumbent. -- Scott Parrish

FAR EASTERN ENERGY CRISIS DEEPENS. The energy crisis that began in
the Russian Far East a week ago continues to deepen. Lack of fuel oil
means that local power plants have been operating at considerably
reduced capacity, resulting in interruptions in power supplies to
various vital installations, including the alarm system on the
Russian-Chinese border and an air traffic control center, ITAR-TASS
reported on 16 and 17 July. Industrial enterprises, street cars, and
trolley buses are standing idle, and many homes have been without
power for up to 16 hours a day. Concern is also mounting over the
fact that Primorskii Krai has yet to begin stockpiling fuel supplies
for the winter. The local power company, owed vast sums by consumers,
cannot afford to purchase fuel oil or coal. -- Penny Morvant

ANOTHER BOMB THREAT IN MOSCOW. One of Moscow's biggest airports,
Vnukovo-1, was closed for several hours on 17 July after a bomb
threat, but no explosives were discovered, Reuters reported. At a
press conference the previous day, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov
said he is convinced that last week's trolley bus explosions were
masterminded by Chechen rebels, 2x2 TV reported. Kulikov said his
statement is based on information supplied by a man arrested in
connection with the bus bombing in Nalchik and an intercepted
telephone call. Chechen leaders, however, have reiterated their
condemnation of any acts of terrorism against civilians. -- Penny
Morvant

TAX COLLECTION IMPROVES, BUT SITUATION STILL TENSE. Speaking at a
press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Artyukhov said that
tax collection for the consolidated budget in the first half of 1996
reached 206.8 trillion rubles ($42.1 billion), a 50% increase over
the same period last year, ITAR-TASS and Russian TV (RTR) reported on
16 July. At the same time, it represents only 78% of the expected
level. Still, tax collection in June went up to 89% of the expected
figure, and then rose to 98% in the first five days of July. In order
to further improve the tax collection situation, the government will
encourage closer cooperation between the Interior Ministry and tax
authorities. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said that in the last
two weeks of June, the ministry's regional branches and tax
authorities recovered some 4 trillion rubles in tax arrears and 100
billion rubles in fines. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KYRGYZSTAN, MALAYSIA SIGN GOLD DEAL. Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia signed
an agreement on joint exploration of the Taldybulak gold mines in the
in the Issyk kul region in northern Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS reported on
16 July. The deal between the head of a Malaysian mining corporation
and Kyrgyz mining officials was concluded on the heels of a three-day
visit to Bishkek by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed. In
the joint venture Taldybulak Mining Corporation, Kyrgyzstan will have
a 52% share of profits and Malaysia 48%. Malaysia is to provide
technical assistance for the project and has promised to spend $80
million by the end of the year on gold exploration. Gold reserves in
the region are estimated at 76 metric tons. -- Bhavna Dave

TAJIK GOVERNMENT PUTS FORTH A NEW CONDITION. With peace negotiations
continuing in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and an impending extension of
the ceasefire agreement nearly ready for signing, the Tajik
government on 16 July demanded that opposition forces in Tavil-Dara
return to the positions they occupied prior to January 1996,
according to ITAR-TASS. Tajik presidential press secretary Zafar
Saidov said that a return to the former positions would be "a
tangible contribution to confidence building between the two sides."
Saidov mentioned that opposition combat operations in central
Tajikistan represent a violation of the Tehran ceasefire agreement.
The leader of the United Tajik Opposition delegation in Ashgabat, Ali
Akbar Turajonzoda, said the UTO is prepared to sign the extension of
the ceasefire but only on the condition that both sides maintain
their present positions. -- Bruce Pannier


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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