The discovery of a new dish does more for human happines than the discovery of a new star. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 147, Part I, 31 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

RUSSIANS DENY INVOLVEMENT IN ATTACK ON MASKHADOV. Chechen spokesman
Movladi Udugov on 30 July accused Russian intelligence of
instigating the failed assassination attempt on chief of staff
Aslan Maskhadov on 29 July, but Sergei Slipchenko, spokesman of the
Russian government commission on resolving the Chechen conflict,
ruled out Russian involvement and said the attack had been staged
by supporters of rival Chechen field commander Salman Raduev, ITAR-
TASS reported. Maskhadov canceled a planned 31 July meeting with
the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen.
Anatolii Kvashnin, pending investigation of the assassination
attempt. At its session on 30 July the Russian State Commission for
resolving the Chechen conflict issued an official statement calling
on acting Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev to clarify his
stance on Raduev and the latter's repeated threats to perpetrate
further terrorist acts in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

ROKHLIN ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION. A 30 July article in Izvestiya
contended that Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, who has
accused a number of high-ranking Defense Ministry generals of
corruption, has himself been involved in dubious financial
transactions, centered in Volgograd oblast. Izvestiya detailed the
activities of a volunteer society of Reserve Soldiers and Officers
that Rokhlin allegedly headed and four commercial companies
associated with it, suggesting that Rokhlin and his family
benefited financially from their dealings. It also accuses Rokhlin
of disregarding Defense Ministry orders. Rokhlin has denied any
wrongdoing and puts the allegations down to the fact that he is not
on good terms with the Volgograd mayor and the heads of the
region's law enforcement bodies. -- Penny Morvant

CHUBAIS GETS OFFICE NEXT TO YELTSIN'S. Presidential Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais' new office is near President Boris Yeltsin's on
the third floor of the former Senate in the Kremlin, NTV reported
on 30 July. Yeltsin's powerful First Aide Viktor Ilyushin
previously occupied this office. Chubais' location will give him
crucial access to the president and, perhaps, an edge over Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed, his competitors for power within the president's
inner circle. Ilyushin took leave to work on Yeltsin's presidential
campaign and is expected to be named first deputy prime minister.
His departure, combined with the purge of the hard-liners, will
make Chubais a much stronger chief of staff than his immediate
predecessors, Nikolai Yegorov and Sergei Filatov. -- Robert Orttung

DEMOCRATS DECRY DUMA'S INEFFICIENCY... Russia's Democratic Choice
Duma Member Sergei Yushenkov described the Duma as less efficient
than a steam engine and said that it was possible Yeltsin would
disband it and call new elections, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 30
July. Although Yushenkov suggested that opposition leaders in the
current Duma were slowly adopting more constructive positions, his
colleague Viktor Pokhmelkin warned that the communist majority was
seeking to strengthen its position while torpedoing the president's
program. The deputies claimed that only one third of the
legislation adopted by the Duma has been signed into law by the
president, ITAR-TASS reported. They called for a shake-up of the
Duma leadership, including the removal of Security Committee
Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, whose recent accusation that the CIA was
preparing subversive actions against Belarus "caused enormous
damage to Russian interests." -- Robert Orttung

...SEE CONSOLIDATION OF REFORM PARTIES. Both deputies believe that
pro-reform parties would win if early elections were called.
Although the reformers split into more than 10 parties in the 1995
elections, they are now forming three large blocs, defined by
liberal (including Russia's Democratic Choice, Forward, Russia!,
and Common Cause), centrist (Our Home is Russia and the Party of
Russian Unity and Accord), and social-democratic (Yabloko)
leanings. The communists and their nationalist allies are seeking
to establish a unified popular-patriotic bloc, whose first congress
is planned for 7 August. -- Robert Orttung

YELENA BONNER HOSPITALIZED. Human rights activist Yelena Bonner,
73, was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack on 30 July,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Bonner, the widow of Andrei
Sakharov, has had a history of heart problems. Earlier this month,
human rights campaigner Sergei Kovalev was hospitalized following a
heart attack (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 July 1996). Bonner and
Kovalev have been among the most vocal critics of the war in
Chechnya; in recent months, they urged Russia's democrats not to
support President Yeltsin's re-election. -- Laura Belin

RYZHKOV: POPULAR-PATRIOTIC UNION NOT DOMINATED BY COMMUNISTS.
Communist Party (KPRF) activists will not dominate the new Popular-
Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), the movement formed from the
coalition that backed Gennadii Zyuganov for president, according to
NPSR organizing committee chairman Nikolai Ryzhkov. In an interview
published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 30 July, Ryzhkov said Zyuganov
lost the presidential election because Yeltsin's team successfully
used the anti-communist card, and that Zyuganov's political future
will depend on his ability to represent a broader organization.
Ryzhkov added that KPRF officials will not lead more than one half
of the NPSR's regional branches, and that in upcoming regional
elections the NPSR may support the re-election of some non-
communist incumbent governors. -- Laura Belin

RUSSIAN DELEGATION AT PARIS ANTI-TERRORISM MEETING. Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Federal Security Service Director
Nikolai Kovalev represented Russia at a 30 July conference of
officials from the G-7 plus Russia to discuss joint action to
combat international terrorism, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The session approved a list of 25 measures, including
improvements in intelligence-sharing, police cooperation,
monitoring of banks and computer networks, and extradition
procedures. Primakov used the session to argue that the Chechen
conflict is an example of international terrorism, repeating
allegations that separatist fighters receive arms from abroad. --
Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN AGAINST NATO EXPANSION CONTINUES. Despite recent
statements by Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 25 July 1996), other Russian officials continue to
vocally criticize plans to expand NATO. Deputy Foreign Minister
Sergei Krylov, visiting Oslo on 30 July, said that expanding NATO
would not improve European security. He pointedly questioned how
expansion would affect the security of those European countries
"not wanting to join NATO or not wanted inside" the alliance. The
same day, meeting with his British counterpart Malcolm Rifkind in
Paris, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said Moscow wants to
deepen cooperation with NATO, but not if it expands. In the 28 July
issue of Moskovskie novosti, First Deputy Defense Minster Andrei
Kokoshin contended that expanding NATO would provoke "a
confrontation that nobody needs," and urged that alternative means
of building a new European security system be found. -- Scott
Parrish

PERSONNEL RESHUFFLE AT FOREIGN MINISTRY. Grigorii Karasin, head of
the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press department and
its chief spokesman since July 1993, has been appointed Deputy
Foreign Minister, Russian media reported on 30 July. According to
Izvestiya, Karasin will supervise the several Asian departments of
the ministry, largely taking over the responsibilities of Deputy
Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov, who will soon take up the post of
ambassador to Japan. Gennadii Tarasov, currently ambassador to
Saudi Arabia, will reportedly replace Karasin as chief spokesman.
The paper also criticized Karasin for restricting journalists'
access to diplomats during his tenure, a policy which it said had
tightened further since the January appointment of Yevgenii
Primakov as foreign minister. -- Scott Parrish

PRAVDA-5 PUBLISHES DAILY. The left-wing tabloid Pravda-5, formerly
a weekly, has begun to publish daily as the standoff between the
Pravda editorial board and the paper's Greek financiers continues.
Pravda suspended publication on 24 July, and Theodoros and Christos
Giannikos, who own the joint-stock company that publishes both
papers, have asked Pravda editor Aleksandr Ilin to resign. Ilin
told Komsomolskaya pravda on 31 July that since the Pravda
editorial collective is the paper's founder, Pravda staff--not the
Greek owners or Pravda-5--have the right to publish daily, collect
money from subscriptions and elect Pravda's editor. -- Laura Belin

ELECTIONS SAID TO REFLECT "SOVIETIZATION" OF PRESS. Aleksei
Simonov, head of the watchdog group Glasnost Defense Foundation,
said at a 29 July round table in Moscow that the recent
presidential elections reflected "the clear Sovietization of the
press," Ekspress-khronika reported the next day. He admitted that
opinion poll projections were more accurate than in previous
elections but said "the bright democratic future is as distant as
it was before the first elections [in Russia]." Covering the same
round table, the official ITAR-TASS news agency misleadingly quoted
Simonov as saying that cooperation among politicians, journalists
and sociologists during the campaign was "fruitful," and that
journalists presented information about the campaign to the public
"more precisely and competently" than they did before last year's
parliamentary elections. Simonov told OMRI on 30 July that
Ekspress-khronika quoted him accurately and that he never described
journalists' cooperation with politicians as "fruitful." -- Laura
Belin

GOVERNMENT SENDS MONEY TO PAY PRIMORSKII MINERS. Yeltsin's
economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits announced on 30 July that the
government will transfer 45 billion rubles ($8.7 million) from the
federal budget to miners in Primore, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Unofficial strikes, involving more than 10,000 people,
have taken place at a number of pits in the area over the past 20
days. The miners are owed an estimated 130 billion rubles in wage
arrears, and they and their families are said to be on the verge of
starvation. Union leaders in the Far East threatened to call an
official strike from 31 July and miners said they would block the
Trans-Siberian railway. -- Penny Morvant

KOREAN FIRM LAUNCHES AUTO PLANT IN KALININGRAD. South Korea's car
manufacturer KIA Motors has signed an agreement to build a plant in
Kaliningrad Oblast to assemble 55,000 jeeps and minibuses a year,
AFP reported on 30 July. The Korean company intends to invest over
$1 billion in the project ($180 million has already been spent),
which also envisages upgrading existing plants, including a former
navy shipyard. KIA expects to create 50,000 new jobs over the next
five years and manufacture at least 65% of car parts locally.
Meanwhile, French technical experts, inspecting the VAZ car plant
in Togliatti, determined that the new model VAZ-2110 does not meet
the technical parameters required for sale in the EU, ITAR-TASS
reported on 29 July. This ban will not affect the sales of older
VAZ models. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CONFUSION SURROUNDS ABKHAZ TALKS. The virtual news blackout imposed
on the UN/Russian-mediated talks in Moscow between Georgian and
Abkhaz representatives on renewing the mandate of the Russian
peacekeeping force in Abkhazia continues to give rise to
unverifiable rumors. ITAR-TASS on 29 July again reported that a
compromise had been reached on the peacekeeper issue. Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze similarly stated on 29 July during
his weekly radio broadcast that some progress had been made. BGI on
30 July quoted Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili as
confirming that Shevardnadze had met on several occasions with his
Abkhaz counterpart Vladislav Ardzinba but failed to reach an
agreement; Shevardnadze's press secretary Vakhtang Abashidze had
told RTR on 19 July that no meeting between the two presidents had
taken place. On 30 July Noyan Tapan cited Caucasus Press as
reporting that the Moscow talks have been suspended indefinitely at
the initiative of the Russian mediator, Deputy Foreign Minister
Boris Pastukhov. -- Liz Fuller

ARMENIAN BANKS IN CRISIS. The deputy chairman of the Central Bank,
Armen Darbinyan, told a conference in Yerevan on 30 July that up to
one-third of Armenia's 36 banks may close over the next year, Noyan
Tapan reported. The banks are owed a total of 20 billion drams ($48
million) and have authorized capital of only 5.5 billion drams ($13
million). Speaking on 27 July, the president of the Armenian Banks
Association, Tigran Sarkissyan, had urged the government not to go
ahead with its plan to remove privileges for foreign investors,
since this would choke off the inflow of private investment. --
Peter Rutland

BAKU DEMONSTRATORS DISPERSED. A group of demonstrators in front of
the Russian embassy in Baku on 26 July was broken up by baton-
wielding police, Noyan Tapan reported as monitored by the BBC. The
demonstration, organized by 10 youth groups, was protesting the
police actions in Moscow which in the name of fighting crime and
terrorism are often targeting "persons of Caucasian nationality."
(See OMRI Daily Digest 29 July.) -- Peter Rutland

FOOD RIOT REPORTED IN TAJIK CITY. Five people were killed and 11
injured when a riot broke out over food prices on 30 July in the
eastern Tajik city of Khorog, according to the opposition's Radio
Voice of Free Tajikistan as monitored by the BBC. The trouble
apparently began when a shipment of meat, which has been a scarce
commodity in the city recently, arrived and a dispute developed
over pricing and distributing it. Three of those killed were
policemen. -- Bruce Pannier

DEMONSTRATION OVER LIVING CONDITIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN. Some 2,000
people gathered in the southern city of Zhanatas on 28 July to
protest living conditions, Kazakh Television First Channel reported
as monitored by the BBC. The demonstrators also demanded the
resignation of the head of the city administration and the
formation of a special commission to correct the "ruinous social
and economic situation in the city." Those at the illegal rally
said they would meet again on 11 August if their demands were been
met. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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