Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 142, Part I, 24 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

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Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the
Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy."
Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a
systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27
countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during
1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus
postage and handling). To order, please email your request to:
annual@omri.cz
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN: NO MAJOR CHANGES IN THE GOVERNMENT. After meeting with Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 23 July, President Boris Yeltsin
announced that the changes in the personnel and structure of the
government will be "substantive" but not "major," ITAR-TASS reported. He
said the government will be trimmed but the number of power ministries
will remain the same. Government staff are now paralyzed with fear that
their jobs will be eliminated, forcing Chernomyrdin to set up ad hoc
groups to carry out his orders, Segodnya reported on 23 July.
Additionally, the Duma has gone into summer recess just as the
discussion of the government's composition is entering its final phase,
demonstrating its lack of influence over questions of real power in
Russia, Nezavisimaya gazeta pointed out on 23 July. -- Robert Orttung

CHUBAIS TAKES OVER INAUGURATION PREPARATIONS. Yeltsin named Presidential
Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais as chairman of the commission charged
with preparing the inauguration ceremony set for 9 August, ITAR-TASS
reported on 23 July. The ceremony will include 3,000 guests, among them
most of Russia's major political and cultural leaders, representatives
of Moscow's foreign diplomatic corps, and the leaders of the CIS
countries, Izvestiya reported on 24 July. -- Robert Orttung

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS CALL FOR LEFT-CENTER COALITION. Several social
democratic parties called for negotiations to set up a left-center
coalition, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. Yeltsin's attempts to set up a
similar bloc under then Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin failed last year. The
initiators include Rybkin's Socialist Party of Russia, Vasilii
Lipitskii's Social Democratic Union, Gavriil Popov's Russian Movement
for Democratic Reform, Aleksandr Yakovlev's Russian Party of Social
Democracy, and Sergei Belozertsev's Social-Democratic Party of Russia.
All these groups backed President Yeltsin's re-election except for
Lipitskii's, which supported Mikhail Gorbachev. Social democratic
parties have had little electoral success on their own in recent
elections. -- Laura Belin and Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS SAID TO HAVE SAVED MONEY FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS. Gennadii
Zyuganov spent far less than the legal limit of 14.4 billion rubles
($2.9 million) on his presidential campaign, the anti-communist
newspaper Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 23 July. It said that, by
economizing on campaign trips and advertising in the regions, the
Communist Party saved at least 6 billion rubles ($1.2 million) "for a
rainy day," which they will spend on campaigns for the regional and
local elections scheduled for later this year. If several dozen "red
governors" are elected this fall, the paper warned, the Federation
Council (parliament's upper house) could swing from a pro-Yeltsin to a
pro-Zyuganov orientation. The paper suggested that, to stave off this
threat, the president will soon begin replacing unpopular governors in
regions where Zyuganov outpolled Yeltsin in the presidential election.
-- Laura Belin

NDR TO CONTEST COMMUNISTS IN REGIONAL ELECTIONS. The pro-government Our
Home Is Russia (NDR) bloc will challenge the Communist Party candidates
in this fall's elections to regional legislative and executive bodies
and local authorities, NDR executive committee head Vladimir Babichev
announced. He said that the movement should not allow Communists to take
over the Federation Council, Russian media reported on 23 July. Babichev
suggested that NDR will cooperate with all pro-reform organizations on
fielding joint candidates for the elections. From September to December
this year, 50 governors, 32 regional legislatures and 23 mayors of big
cities should be elected. -- Anna Paretskaya

NEW KRASNODAR GOVERNOR RESHUFFLES ADMINISTRATION. Nikolai Yegorov, who
was appointed Krasnodar Krai Governor last week, will restructure the
krai's administration which was created by his predecessor, Radio Rossii
reported on 23 July. Yegorov will create a regional government to deal
with economic problems and will personally control regional law
enforcement agencies. In addtion he intends to cut the staff by 20%.
Yegorov plans to stand for reelection in the gubernatorial election in
October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya

KHASBULATOV TO MEDIATE IN CHECHNYA? In an official statement on 23 July,
acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev reaffirmed his readiness
to continue peace talks with the Russian leadership despite the latter's
failure to implement the agreements of 27 May and 10 June, but confirmed
his commitment to the cause of Chechen independence, Reuters reported.
Yandarbiev also named ex-Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov,
himself an ethnic Chechen, as one of a group of advisors who would hold
new peace talks with Moscow. Khasbulatov said that these should begin
with a new meeting between Chechen representatives and President Boris
Yeltsin, whom he termed the sole Russian official capable of assuming
responsibility for ending the conflict, according to ITAR-TASS. Also on
23 July, Russian warplanes resumed their bombardment of the villages of
Shatoi and Itum-kale, and warplanes and artillery began a new offensive
against Nozhai-Yurt, Vedeno, Gudermes, and Achkhoi-Martan, ITAR-TASS and
AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller

MILITARY DENIES USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN CHECHNYA. The commander of
Defense Ministry troops in Chechnya, Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, on 23
July denied that his forces had used chemical weapons against the
Chechen separatists, ITAR-TASS reported. He was responding to a charge
made earlier that day by a separatist spokesman, Khozh-Akhed Yarikhanov.
Shamanov said his forces had never had any chemical weapons at their
disposal. In Moscow, Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Orlov, chief of the Chemical,
Bacteriological and Radiological Defense Troops, termed Yarikhanov's
charge "ill-intentioned disinformation." Yarikhanov had reported that
several militants killed by federal troops in the districts of Itum-kale
and Shatoi had signs similar to those left by toxic agents. He admitted
that no laboratory analyses had been made. -- Doug Clarke

PRIMAKOV, CHRISTOPHER ENDORSE COMPROMISE ON NUCLEAR TEST BAN. Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his American counterpart Warren
Christopher announced in Jakarta on 23 July that their countries will
sign a compromise Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the
next session of the multilateral Geneva talks on the issue,
international media reported. According to Primakov, the compromise
draft, proposed by Dutch diplomat Jaap Ramaker last month, "does not
fully satisfy both sides." But both decided to accept it in order to
persuade other countries--such as India and China--to do likewise and
speed the establishment of an international ban on nuclear tests. The
Russians were unhappy with some of the monitoring provisions. The U.S.
wanted the treaty to come into effect if 40 country signed it: the
current draft insists that all five current nuclear powers and three
"threshold" powers must sign before it comes into effect. The two
diplomats also discussed a number of other issues, but reportedly made
little progress resolving differences between Moscow and Washington on
such issues as NATO enlargement and the candidacy of UN Secretary
General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for a second term. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA ON BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. Vladimir Andreev, a spokesman for the
Russian Foreign Ministry, declared on 23 July that the removal of former
Bosnian Serb President and internationally wanted war criminal Radovan
Karadzic from his government and party posts had "removed all obstacles
to the normal organization of elections" in Bosnia, ITAR-TASS reported.
Andreev said that holding the elections, currently scheduled for mid-
September, should now be viewed as the "main strategic objective" in
Bosnia, to which the international community should "direct all its
efforts." He cautioned against "ill-considered actions," like the arrest
of Karadzic or Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic on war crimes
charges, which he claimed might torpedo the elections. Moscow has
consistently argued that arresting Karadzic or Mladic would undermine
the Bosnian peace process. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA DELEGATION IN NICARAGUA. A delegation led by Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev arrived in Nicaragua on 23 July on the first leg of a Latin
American tour which also includes Cuba and Venezuela, Russian and
Western agencies reported. The delegation met with Nicaraguan President
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro to discuss bilateral ties. Seleznev later
said that the discussion had revealed "many similar moments" in
Nicaraguan and Russian politics, especially in the area of legislative-
executive relations. The Russian parliamentarian also took the
opportunity to denounce the recent tightening of the U.S. trade embargo
against Cuba, saying that the controversial Helms-Burton act, should be
revoked. Latin American countries have also condemned the American
legislation. -- Scott Parrish

GLOBAL RADIO BROADCASTING CONTINUES. The Russian state radio company
Golos Rossii still broadcasts worldwide in 32 different languages for a
total of 539 hours per week, Argumenty i fakty reported in issue no. 28.
This is down from 66 languages and 1638 hours per week in 1991. The
broadcasts currently use 19 European languages plus a broad range of
African and Asian tongues, including Arabic, Korean, and Nepalese.
Interestingly, there are no broadcasts in the languages of CIS member
countries, although they can all receive Russian-language domestic radio
broadcasts. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIAN PRESS CHARGES OLYMPICS RIDDLED BY U.S. CHAUVINISM. Russian
newspapers on 23 July charged that the Atlanta Olympics have been poorly
organized and marred by jingoism and favoritism for U.S. competitors.
"Politics always played a leading role at the Olympics, but judging by
the way they have started, politics have eclipsed all else at these
Games," Izvestiya quoted Vladimir Lukin, a former Russian ambassador to
the U.S., as saying. Moskovskii komsomolets , meanwhile, claimed that
"the Americans, without any restraint, give the impression (as always)
that non-native sportsmen do not exist," according to Reuters. ITAR-TASS
complained about the NBC television coverage of the Games, saying U.S.
athletes received a disproportionate amount of air time. The Russians
are not the only ones to have complained about organizational problems
in Atlanta: the BBC has quoted British athletes bemoaning poor transport
and accommodation arrangements. -- Penny Morvant

MORE MINERS STRIKE IN PRIMORE. Miners at another pit in Primorskii Krai
went on strike on 24 July, bringing the total number of strikers up to
about 3,500, ITAR-TASS reported. Mines in Partizansk have been idle for
about a week because of a dispute over wage arrears. According to union
official Petr Kiryasov, mines in Primore are owed 450 billion rubles by
consumers. The massive, interlocking problem of nonpayments in the
region last week resulted in severe power cuts as the local electric
company Dalenergo could not afford to purchase supplies of diesel oil.
-- Penny Morvant

FINANCIAL SITUATION IN ENERGY SECTOR. Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii
Shafranik said that in the first half of 1996 the sector contributed 26
trillion rubles ($53 billion) to the budget, ITAR-TASS and Kommersant-
Daily reported on 23-24 July. Customers' debts to fuel and energy
companies rose by 60% over the same period, reaching 179 trillion rubles
(54% of the total customers' debt in industry). Shafranik noted that
high taxes have pushed domestic prices on fuel and energy products up to
75-95% of the world price level. -- Natalia Gurushina

NEW CUSTOM DUTIES FOR SHUTTLE-TRADERS. The government will lower the
level of duty-free imports for individual travelers, known as shuttle-
traders (chelnoki), from $2,000 to $1,000 per person starting from 1
August, ITAR-TASS and Kommersant-Daily reported on 23-24 July. Duties
will be set at 30% of the goods' value, but not less than 4 ECU per one
kilogram. If the goods' total value exceeds $10,000 or their total
weight is over 200 kilograms, shuttle traders will have to pay the same
duties as legal entities. There are some 10-30 million people involved
in the shuttle trade and their turnover is estimated at around $10
billion a year. According to the First Deputy Economic Minister Yakov
Urinson, the new measures should increase tax receipts and help fight
corruption among customs officers. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CRACKDOWN ON GEORGIAN INDEPENDENT TV STATION. The management of the
private Georgian TV station Rustavi-2, which has an estimated audience
of 300,000 people, continues to protest the station's closure by the
Georgian authorities on 17 July, allegedly because the station's charter
did not allow it to broadcast on a TV frequency. The station's
management has produced documentation proving that it received the
appropriate license from the Ministry of Communications, and claims the
crackdown was initiated by unspecified forces seeking to sabotage the
process of democratization in Georgia, Radio Rossii reported on 23 July.
-- Liz Fuller

NEW UN OFFICE OPENS IN UZBEKISTAN. The United Nations Fund for
Population Activities (UNFPA) officially opened an office in Tashkent on
22 July, Uzbek TV reported as monitored by the BBC. The UN permanent
representative to Uzbekistan, Khalid Malik, and Uzbek Deputy Prime
Minister Saidmukhtar Saidkasymov attended the ceremony. The center is to
study the problems of "health services, education and social welfare" in
Uzbekistan. The office joins a growing list of UN institutions working
in Uzbekistan, including UNHCR and UNESCO. -- 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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