The business of art lies just in this--to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible. - Leo Tolstoy
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 148, Part I, 1 August 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

*******************************************************************
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
*******************************************************************

RUSSIA

RUSSIAN TROOPS LAUNCH NEW CHECHEN OFFENSIVE. Despite ongoing
hostilities in the Vedeno, Nozhai-Yurt, and Itum-Kale raions of
Chechnya, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev told
representatives of the Chechen community in Moscow on 31 July that
there had been no fighting in Chechnya for a week, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, Russia began air and artillery attacks on the village of
Shatoi south of Grozny, prompting Chechen Minister of Information
Movladi Udugov to warn that the Chechens will not agree to any
further talks with the Russian military until the bombardment is
halted, according to AFP. Controversy continues over the identity
of the man claiming to be field commander Salman Raduev. Zavgaev
claims that Raduev is dead and the man is an imposter from
Dagestan; ITAR-TASS cited a spokesman for the Chechen Ministry of
Information who insists that the man in question is indeed Raduev.
ITAR-TASS also quoted unnamed Chechen field commanders as stating
that President Dzhokhar Dudaev is alive and will return to Chechnya
on 2 August. -- Liz Fuller

HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS SLAM YELTSIN ON CHECHNYA. Representatives
of the Moscow Helsinki Committee and the International Human Rights
Assembly accused President Boris Yeltsin of violating various laws
and campaign promises by allowing violence to escalate in Chechnya
immediately after his re-election. In a statement published by
Ekspress-khronika on 1 August, they noted that those long
considered to make up the Kremlin's "party of war," including
former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Chief of Staff Nikolai
Yegorov and Yeltsin's top bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov, have been
sacked and are therefore not to blame for the continued fighting
and human rights violations. A separate appeal signed by human
rights activists who voted against Yeltsin, including Yelena
Bonner, charged that the war in Chechnya and Yeltsin's recent
decree on fighting crime in Moscow and Moscow Oblast (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 11 and 12 July 1996) violate at least seven articles
of the Constitution. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN ORGANIZES STAFF FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS. President Boris
Yeltsin will personally coordinate the administration's campaign
for this fall's regional elections, Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais
announced on 31 July. The campaign headquarters will include
representatives of the presidential administration, the government,
the Federation Council, the Security Council, and political parties
with influence in the regions, NTV reported. Chubais noted that
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed has already agreed to
participate in the campaign. However, Chubais stressed the need to
avoid a situation in which "one Moscow boss supports one candidate,
while another supports someone else." The chief of staff said that
the team will use the experience gained in the presidential
campaign as much as possible. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN BACKS CHUBAIS RESTRUCTURING OF ADMINISTRATION. Yeltsin
"showed a high level of trust" in Chubais' proposals for
restructuring the administration on 31 July, even though several of
them were unexpected, Chubais said. During their nearly two-hour
meeting, Chubais and Yeltsin discussed the candidates for the post
of first deputy prime minister covering economic issues, Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported. Yeltsin has tapped Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to lead the new government and he and Chubais are
competing to influence its composition, a decision that ultimately
rests in Yeltsin's hands. Chubais said that Yeltsin needs "a normal
vacation," which he may take following his 9 August inauguration.
-- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN LISTENS TO COMMUNISTS. Chernomyrdin listened to the
views of Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and 15 members of
his Duma faction on 31 July, but they did not discuss who would be
in the new government, ORT reported. Before the meeting, Zyuganov
said that it would play an important role in the faction's decision
whether to support Chernomyrdin's candidacy as the new prime
minister, ITAR-TASS reported. Neither side released any details of
the discussion. -- Robert Orttung

PRIMAKOV SUGGESTS COMPROMISE ON NATO EXPANSION. In an interview
published in the 1 August edition of the Paris daily Le Figaro,
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov reiterated that Moscow
could accept the eastward enlargement of NATO if it does not entail
the expansion of the alliance's military infrastructure in areas
near Russia. "Can you guarantee me that the enlargement of NATO
will not result in the installation of military infrastructure?"
asked Primakov. "If you reply to me yes, then I too will respond in
a positive way," he added, but complained that Western leaders had
so far not responded to his repeated overtures for a compromise
along these lines. NATO officials and East European leaders have
rejected this sort of compromise, arguing that it would relegate
new members to "second class status" in the alliance. -- Scott
Parrish

ILYUKHIN STANDS BY HIS CHARGES OF CIA PLOT IN BELARUS. In an
interview in the 1 August edition of the pro-communist daily
Sovetskaya Rossiya, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor
Ilyukhin defended his charges that the CIA is plotting to overthrow
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, (see OMRI Daily Digest,
26 & 29 July 1996) and denounced Russian politicians and
journalists who questioned his allegations as "fifth columnists."
Ilyukhin asserted that the top levels of the Russian government
have been penetrated by Western intelligence agencies, which are
"imposing their views." Ilyukhin said that, despite his campaign
rhetoric, President Yeltsin does not really favor integration
between Russia and the other former Soviet republics, a position
which mirrors American policy. On 31 July ultranationalist Vladimir
Zhirinovsky supported Ilyukin's charges, and warned U.S. President
Bill Clinton to "stay away from Belarusian affairs." -- Scott
Parrish

NEW FIGHTER ON DISPLAY. For the first time the new SU 37 fighter,
whose reversible thrust engine makes it highly maneuverable, was
shown in public display on 1 August, ITAR-TASS reported. According
to the engineers at the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the plane has no
equivalent in other airforces and is "the first plane of the 21st
century." However, financial constraints mean that the Ministry of
Defense has given no date for the start of mass production of the
SU 37. -- Peter Rutland

SENIOR BANKRUPTCY OFFICIAL ARRESTED. Petr Karpov, deputy head of
the Federal Bankruptcy Administration (FUDN) with the rank of
deputy prime minister, has been arrested, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 31 July. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir
Kadannikov said the Saratov Procurator's Office had begun criminal
proceedings against Karpov but gave no details. NTV said Karpov was
suspected of taking bribes. Over the past year Karpov headed a team
that raised 10 trillion rubles ($2 billion) in overdue taxes from
delinquent enterprises, mainly in the oil and gas sector. His
activities reportedly made him many enemies among the industrial
elite and in the Duma. Karpov's boss, Petr Mostovoi, is also under
investigation for alleged involvement in violating privatization
procedures. Segodnya argued that the arrests could signal a
campaign against the FUDN, which it described as a leading reform
agency. -- Penny Morvant

STRIKES CONTINUE IN FAR EAST. Despite the government's announcement
that it has allocated 45 billion rubles ($8.7 million) to miners in
Primorskii Krai, protests have now spread to all 15 of the region's
mines, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August. A miners' spokesman said the
protest will continue until wage debts are cleared. He described
the government statement as "political cunning," contending that
the money had been intended to cover capital construction and other
such expenses and had thus been "taken from the miners' pockets."
The same day, Primorskugol said it will suspend deliveries to
debtor enterprises, including the power company Dalenergo. The
strikes are spreading to other regions of Russia. Some miners have
also struck in Rostov Oblast, while workers at a Krasnoyarsk mine
have stopped deliveries to the local power station. Numerous
reports have highlighted the suffering endured by Primore mining
families. In one of the most shocking incidents, nine children were
taken to hospital suffering from food poisoning after eating a
stray dog. Their miner parents, who had not been paid for six
months, were unable to feed them so they had set out to find their
own food. -- Penny Morvant

CONFLICTING REPORTS ON TAX SITUATION. A State Tax Service spokesman
claimed on 31 July that tax revenues in July were 20 trillion
rubles ($3.8 billion), or 97% of the planned level. Seven regions
pay the bulk of the taxes: Moscow city and oblast, Khanty-Mansii
Autonomous Okrug, Sverdlovsk, Omsk, and Samara oblasts, and St.
Petersburg. However, overall tax receipts for the first half of the
year are only 60% of the expected amount. A special operational
group has been created under Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to
cut spending, according to Vek no. 20. Steps already taken include
freezing spending on reconstruction in Chechnya, on defense
conversion in Tatarstan, and on some cultural programs. Central
Bank Head Sergei Dubinin said measures to be adopted soon include
excise stamps on alcohol, levying VAT on Ukrainian imports, and a
ban on all tax privileges, Radio Rossii reported on 25 July. --
Peter Rutland

NEW CUSTOM DUTIES ON IMPORTED CARS. Effective from 1 August, the
government has introduced higher duties on imported cars, ITAR-TASS
reported. The duty on cars with engines over 1,599 cc will be 75%
of the retail value. Any car up to three years old will now be
deemed "new", instead of one-year old cars, as in the past.
Russians who have lived abroad for over six months will be allowed
to import one car and pay duty of 40 cents per cubic centimeter. No
duties will be levied on foreigners importing their cars for less
than a year. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION DOWN BUT NOT [YET] OUT. Leading figures from
the 14 Georgian political parties not represented in the new
parliament, who joined forces to create a Coordinating Council, met
in Tbilisi on 31 July to discuss Georgia's future territorial-
administrative system, the Abkhaz conflict, and the Russian
military presence in Georgia, NTV reported. The opposition parties
in question take a markedly harder line on all these issues than
does the Georgian leadership. On 30 July, the deputy chairman of
the Round Table/Free Georgia coalition (originally headed by now
deceased ex-president Zviad Gamsakhurdia) told BGI that the
Georgian authorities were trying to prevent the coalition from
participating in the September parliamentary elections in Adzharia,
in what he claims is an ongoing campaign of reprisals against
Gamsakhurdia's supporters. -- Liz Fuller

KARABAKH DIPLOMACY. Outgoing Russian co-chairman of the OSCE "Minsk
Group" Vladimir Kazimirov arrived in Stepanakert on 31 July to
introduce his successor, former Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe
Yurii Yukalov, to the leadership of the self-proclaimed Republic of
Nagorno-Karabakh, Noyan Tapan reported. Kazimirov, whose departure
from the Karabakh negotiating process was announced after the last
round of talks in Helsinki in early July, characterized the
prospects for a settlement of the Karabakh conflict as "favorable,"
despite the fact that the Azerbaijani side displayed such
intransigence at last month's round that no date has been set for a
resumption of talks. Kazimirov and Yukalov travel to Yerevan on 1
August and are scheduled to meet with Azerbaijani President Heidar
Aliev in Baku on 2 August, according to Noyan Tapan quoting the
Azeri wire service ANS-Press. -- Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJAN, IRAN SIGN SECURITY AGREEMENTS. Azerbaijan's Interior
Minister Ramil Usubov and his Iranian counterpart, Ali Mohammed
Besharati, signed two cooperation agreements in Tehran on 30 July,
the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran first network (monitored
by the BBC) reported the same day. The first agreement covers the
creation of a border commission and the relaxation of customs and
border regulations, and would seem to undercut the second, which is
on increasing cooperation to combat drug abuse. -- Liz Fuller

UZBEK GANG LEADERS SENTENCED TO DEATH. An Uzbek court sentenced
five members of a criminal gang to death after they were found
guilty of murdering 25 local farmers, ITAR-TASS reported on 31
July. Based in a village outside of Tashkent, the gang met with
individual farmers on the pretext of buying their produce and then
killed them, taking the food. The victims' bodies were dumped in
the Keles River late last year (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 November
1995). Other gang members were given prison terms. -- Roger Kangas

UN OBSERVERS STILL HAVEN'T REACHED TAVIL-DARA. Despite several
attempts at fixing the positions of combatants in the Tavil-Dara
region, UN observer teams had not entered the area as of 30 July,
according to the opposition's Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan as
monitored by FBIS. The UN teams were to determine the locations of
the warring factions at the time the ceasefire came into effect on
20 July. The opposition radio report claimed that two UN teams had
been turned back at Garm and Khovaling. Another team was stopped by
the Tajik army, which, according to the radio broadcast, "turned
them back with the threats, violence and kind of treatment so
characteristic of them." The report claimed this was the last
attempt by UN teams to implement their part of the Ashgabat
agreement which should have taken place on 23 July. -- Bruce
Pannier


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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