Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 143, Part I, 25 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

LEBED: NATO EXPANSION NOT A THREAT . . . In an interview published in
the Financial Times on 25 July, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed said that he was "calm" about the prospect of NATO expanding
eastward. Reiterating a position he took during the presidential
election campaign, Lebed declared that "Russia is not planing to fight
anyone...so this mighty NATO is being developed to do battle in the
air." NATO leaders would soon have problems convincing their taxpayers
to finance the alliance's expansion, he argued, but if NATO countries
"have enough money and health, they are welcome" to accept new members.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told ITAR-TASS in
Brussels that the alliance wants to strengthen its "partnership" with
Russia, and suggested concluding a political "framework agreement" which
would regulate Russia-NATO relations. -- Scott Parrish

. . . BUT RODIONOV DISAGREES. Krasnaya zvezda on 25 July published
excerpts from remarks made by newly appointed Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov during a recent inspection tour which markedly contrast with
Lebed's assessment. Rodionov described the possible expansion of NATO as
the "main problem for Russia in the West," since it would "dangerously
alter the strategic-military balance in Europe." He warned that if NATO
expanded into Central Europe, its tactical aviation would be able to
reach Western areas of Russia, like Smolesnk, Kursk and Bryansk.
Commenting on military reform, he attributed some of the military's
problems to competition among the various "power ministries," which he
said often operate "in isolation." This comment suggests that Rodionov
may try to bolster the powers of the General Staff, which supervised all
uniformed military personnel in the Soviet era, but lost that authority
after Russia became independent. -- Scott Parrish

CHERNOMYRDIN MAY INVITE OPPOSITION TO JOIN GOVERNMENT . . . Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has not ruled out the possibility of
inviting opposition representatives to join the government, Russian
media reported on 24 July. However, he stressed that the cabinet will be
formed on an exclusively professional basis and future ministers will
have to give up their party and faction affiliations, ITAR-TASS
reported. Several independent expert groups within the government are
working now on drafts of the new cabinet structure and economic
development until the year 2000, Russian Public Television (ORT)
reported, citing an unnamed top government official. -- Anna Paretskaya

. . . WHILE COMMUNISTS TO CONSIDER PROPOSAL. After a one-hour meeting
with Chernomyrdin, Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov
announced that the opposition may join the new government only if its
program complies with the interests of the 30 million voters who
supported Zyuganov for president, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. He
insisted that any candidate for prime minister should present an outline
of the new government program while being introduced to the Duma, which
must approve the prime minister in his post. -- Anna Paretskaya

NEW POST FOR YAROV. President Yeltsin signed a decree on 24 July
appointing Yurii Yarov as his deputy chief of staff under Anatolii
Chubais, Rossiiskie vesti reported. Hitherto Yarov was deputy prime
minister with responsibility for social issues. He is the first senior
government member to leave the cabinet since the second round of the
presidential elections. Kommersant-Daily speculated that Viktor Ilyushin
will replace Yarov as a deputy prime minister. Meanwhile Moskovskii
Komsomolets reported on 24 July that Maj.-Gen. Georgii Rogozin, first
deputy head of the Presidential Security Service and a close ally of
Aleksandr Korzhakov, has been sacked. -- Penny Morvant

NEW POLITICAL PARTY FOR LEBED. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed will form a new political movement to be called Truth and Order,
Ekho Moskvy reported on 24 July. The new movement will include the
Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), on whose ticket Lebed ran for
parliament last year; the association Honor and Motherland, which Lebed
founded last year and which helped organize his presidential campaign;
and the Democratic Party of Russia, whose leader Sergei Glazev was a
leader of KRO. Truth and Order will hold its founding congress in
September. -- Laura Belin

PRAVDA SUSPENDS PUBLICATION. The pro-communist newspaper Pravda shut
down operations on 24 July following a quarrel with the Greek
millionaires Theodoros and Christos Giannikos, who have financed the
paper since 1992. AFP reported that editorial staff, outraged by the
owners' decision to suspend publication as of 27 July, voted themselves
to stop production. But according to ITAR-TASS, Theodoros Giannikos
ordered the computers at the paper's publishing center to be switched
off after he was denied access to the Pravda building on 24 July. In a
statement, editors accused the owners of violating their contractual
obligations and showing a "lack of respect" toward readers. -- Laura
Belin

PERSONNEL CHANGE AT RTR. The popular Russian TV (RTR) journalist Nikolai
Svanidze has been promoted to deputy chairman of the state-run network
in charge of political and news broadcasting, ITAR-TASS reported on 24
July. He will continue to host the Sunday-evening analytical program
"Zerkalo." RTR Chairman Eduard Sagalaev, whom Yeltsin appointed in
February, denied rumors that he will soon take up a post in the
government. -- Laura Belin

POWER-SHARING TREATIES SIGNED WITH KHABAROVSK KRAI. Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and Khabarovsk Krai Governor Viktor Ishaev have
signed a package of 11 documents detailing the separation of powers
between the federal government and the krai's administration, Russian
media reported on 24 July. The package divides areas of competence of
the federal and regional authorities in managing agriculture and
industry, natural resources, development of the krai's Northern areas,
and defense. The general agreement on power-sharing with Khabarovsk was
approved by President Yeltsin in April during his visit to the region.
-- Anna Paretskaya

MASKHADOV, KVASHNIN MEETING CALLED OFF. The planned meeting between
Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov and the commander of the Russian
Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, failed
to take place on 24 July, Russian and Western media reported. The
commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav
Tikhomirov, blamed Maskhadov but the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny,
Tim Guldimann, said that Maskhadov had been hindered by transport and
communications difficulties, according to AFP. Russian Nationalities
Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov rejected Yandarbiev's call for the
deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported.
-- Liz Fuller

CHECHEN MILITANTS RETURN TO BAMUT. Chechen separatist
fighters staged a raid on the village of Bamut, the location of a former
Soviet strategic missile base with a dense network of bunkers some 45
kilometers southwest of Grozny, on 23 July, Radio Rossii reported. On 24
July military officials admitted that the situation in the area had
deteriorated, but denied that Bamut had been captured by the militants.
Once Dzhokhar Dudaev's headquarters, Bamut has been heavily contested
between federal troops and the militants for more than a year. -- Doug
Clarke

SPRING DRAFT COMPLETED. 200,200 people were drafted into the armed
forces in the draft which concluded on 30 June, Krasnaya zvezda reported
on 24 July. The proportion of draftees deemed unfit for service was 15%,
down from 29% in 1995 (but up from 7% in 1987). In addition to possible
fraud in the medical inspections, 26,000 persons avoided the draft by
other means. Meanwhile, few military commentators are voicing support
for Yeltsin's plan for an all-professional army by the year 2000.
Writing in Komsomolskaya Pravda on 23 July, Vladimir Sviridov argued
that professional armies in the West are not immune from the problems of
budget cuts, bad morale, and poor quality personnel which bedevil the
Russian Army. Rather than abolishing the draft, he proposed increasing
the proportion of professionals, currently 50% (officers, NCOs, and
250,000 contract servicemen), to 70-80%, while cutting the draft period
in half. -- Peter Rutland

ITAR-TASS ACCUSES JAPANESE NAVY OF SPYING. ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July
that six Japanese naval intelligence agents were aboard the Japanese
destroyer Kurama, currently sailing toward Vladivostok where it will
participate in ceremonies later this month to mark the 300th anniversary
of the Russian Navy. The agency accused the Japanese Navy of using the
first port visit by one of its ships to Russia since 1925 to conduct
espionage. A Japanese Navy spokesmen later admitted that six naval
intelligence officers are on board the Kurama. But he said four will
serve as translators while the others will gather open navigational
information about Vladivostok's port. He said it was a "complete
misunderstanding" to describe the officers as spies. -- Scott Parrish

BOMB BLAST IN VOLGOGRAD. A bomb exploded on a train at Volgograd's
central station on 25 July, ITAR-TASS reported. There were no
casualties. The agency noted that the previous day Chechen fighter
Salman Raduev had claimed responsibility for a failed bomb attack on
Voronezh station and threatened new terrorist acts on Russian railways,
claiming that they were a military target. However, doubts have been
raised over the true identity of the man claiming to be Raduev, and the
Chechen separatist leadership has stated repeatedly that it opposes all
terrorist acts. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN'S TEAM TO ENSURE GOOD WEATHER ON INAUGURATION DAY. Even if
weather forecasters predict rain, President Yeltsin's inauguration
celebration on 9 August will take place under sunny skies, according to
newly-appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Yurii Yarov. He told ITAR-TASS on
24 July that money has been set aside to disperse the clouds if
necessary. During the Soviet period, artificial means were occasionally
employed to disperse rain clouds on important holidays. -- Laura Belin

KGB GUIDEBOOK. A group of KGB veterans held a press conference in Moscow
on 24 July to launch a new book they have authored, "The KGB Guide to
Cities of the World,", NTV reported. Written for tourists, it reportedly
includes special vignettes on life as a spy in cities from New York to
Bangkok. -- Peter Rutland

CENTRAL BANK RELAXES MONETARY POLICY. The Central Bank (TsB) has
announced that it will lower its reserve requirements on commercial bank
30-day deposits from 20% to 18%, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 July.
The reserve requirements were raised on 10 June 1996 to offset the
inflationary impact of the enforced transfer of $1 billion from the TsB
to the federal budget. The relaxation appears to be a precautionary
measure to forestall the possibility of a banking crisis. TsB also
announced on 24 July that it will lower the refinancing rate from 120%
to 110% a year. -- Natalia Gurushina

NEW DEFENSE CONVERSION FUND. The government will establish a new state
conversion fund to provide financial support for projects that encourage
defense factories to produce civilian rather than military goods,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 24 July. The Defense Industry Minister
Zinovii Pak said that the fund would be financed from the state budget
but would also try to attract foreign investors. The government plans to
transfer some 2 trillion rubles ($386 million) to the fund by the end of
1996, rising to 8 trillion rubles in 1997. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

U.S. DROPS ARMS RESTRICTIONS FOR 5 REGIONAL STATES.
According to a State Department announcement on 24 July, the
United States has ended restrictions on arms trade with Georgia,
Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These
countries have been removed from the International Traffic in Arms
Regulations (ITAR) proscribed list. This means that the U.S. will no
longer automatically deny licenses for the export or import of military
equipment or services to these nations. -- Doug Clarke

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA DISPUTE RESOLVED IN ALMATY.
An Almaty court has lifted the proposed ban on Komsomolskaya pravda,
ending a three-month dispute between the newspaper's editorial board and
the Procurator General of Kazakhstan, Russian media reported on 24 July.
The court said it was satisfied with the apology published in its last
two issues in which the newspaper's editors admitted being guilty of
permitting "factual errors" on Kazakhstan's sovereignty in the
controversial 23 April article "Conversations with Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn." Kazakhstan's Procurator General withdrew the case
following the public statement by the editorial staff that they do not
share Solzhenitsyn's views on relations between Russians and Kazakhs. --
Bhavna Dave

RUSSIAN ENVOY TO TAJIKISTAN MEETS UTO LEADER. The Russian Special Envoy
to Tajikistan, Yevgenii Mikhailov, met with United Tajik Opposition
leader Said Abdullo Nuri in the opposition's base at Kunduz,
Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported on 24 July. Talks focused on a planned
meeting between Nuri and Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in Moscow.
The meeting was agreed on at the recent Tajik peace negotiations in
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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