Тот, кто поймет, что смысл человеческой жизни заключается в беспокойстве и тревоге, уже перстанет быть обывателем. - А. А. Блок

No. 151, Part I, 6 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


CHECHENS LAUNCH MAJOR ASSAULT ON GROZNY. During the early morning of 6
August, up to 300 Chechen militants attacked Grozny, and heavy fighting
was reported in several parts of the city, Western and Russian agencies
reported. Simultaneous attacks were launched on the towns of Argun and
Gudermes, east of the capital. Speaking at a public rally in Grozny on 5
August, pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev expressed his readiness to
include in the new Chechen government any members of the armed
opposition who are prepared to surrender their weapons, AFP reported.
NTV reported on 5 August that Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov had
laid down new conditions for a resumption of peace talks and is
demanding that Russian forces withdraw to the positions they occupied at
the time of the signing of the 10 June Nazran agreements and release all
civilians forcibly detained since that date. -- Liz Fuller

EXPLOSION ON PRIME MINISTER'S ROUTE. An explosion occurred on 6 August
on a Moscow highway only minutes before Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin was about to drive by on his way to work, Russian and
Western agencies reported. A police spokesman said it was too early to
say whether the blast was directed against Chernomyrdin. Two days
earlier, a hand grenade was found on a train at the VDNKh metro station
in northern Moscow, and on 3 August a gunman held up a passenger train
en route from Moscow to Mariupol for 30 minutes before being arrested.
-- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN RETURNS TO WORK. President Boris Yeltsin returned to work at the
Kremlin 5 August after spending three weeks at the Barvikha sanitarium,
ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin has decided to take his oath of office on a
specially prepared copy of the constitution adopted at his insistence in
a 1993 referendum. Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais has
already rejected the idea of performing an ode to the president at the
inauguration, figuring it would be too bombastic given the poor state of
the Russian economy. The ceremony is expected to last about an hour and
Yeltsin's speech only 10 minutes due to his poor health, The New York
Times reported. His first inauguration took place as part of a session
of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies. -- Robert Orttung

MINERS' STRIKE ENDS IN PRIMORE. Miners in Primorskii Krai resolved to go
back to work on 6 August after they started receiving back wages, ITAR-
TASS reported. About 10,000 miners took part in an unofficial strike
that began on 15 July. Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik, who
spent two days in the region, said that Moscow would earmark 4.6
trillion rubles for bailing out the region's fuel and energy sector. He
said tough measures need to be taken, including raising electricity
prices to 530 rubles per kW hour and removing commercial intermediaries
from the chain linking coal producers and customers. Meanwhile, about 50
miners at a pit in Tula began a sit-in on 4 August and work has stopped
at 19 of the 23 pits belonging to Rostovugol in the eastern Donbass, NTV
reported on 5 August. About 6,000 miners and their families held a
meeting in Sholokhov Raion in Rostov Oblast to protest wage arrears. --
Penny Morvant

Democratic Choice (DVR) are calling for a State Duma discussion of the
debt and energy crisis facing Primorskii Krai during the special session
of the chamber scheduled for 10 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The session
has been called to approve President Boris Yeltsin's choice of Viktor
Chernomyrdin as prime minister. The deputies have collected 20 of the 90
signatures necessary to put the issue on the agenda. The Our Home Is
Russia (NDR) faction has been trying to block Duma discussion of the
issue. DVR is also planning to introduce a bill that would give the
federal government the power to remove elected governors from their
offices in some situations, another idea opposed by the NDR since it
wants to maintain good relations with the regional leaders. -- Robert

Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov told ITAR-TASS on 5
August that his party has firmly rejected "radical methods of struggle"
and that unity among all left-wing movements would only be possible when
"those who have remained in the last century" recognize that the new
political environment requires new methods of battle. On the same day,
he accused the government of deliberately withholding money owed to
striking coal miners in order to exacerbate tension in society, NTV and
Russian TV (RTR) reported. The ultimate purpose of the government's
"game," according to Zyuganov, is "the further collapse of the Russian
Federation." Zyuganov has consistently said that Communists and their
left-wing allies in parliament will decide whether to confirm Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin only after the government reveals its
economic program. -- Laura Belin

Russian army colonel was killed on 5 August in his apartment building in
Volgograd, ORT reported. Colonel Yurii Kim, rear services deputy
commander of the 20th Motor Rifle Division of the 8th Guard Corps, was
killed by a bomb which exploded when he stepped into the elevator. Kim
was reportedly involved in business activities. He served in Chechnya
with current Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, who caused a
stir recently by accusing senior Defense Ministry officers of
corruption. Some press reports have accused Rokhlin of involvement in
dubious financial transactions when he was based in Volgograd. Also on 5
August, an unidentified attacker fired eight shots at the general
director of the Nizhnevartovskneft oil company, Khakim Gumerskii,
Delovoi vtornik reported on 6 August. Gumerskii was seriously injured.
-- Penny Morvant

crimes were recorded in Russia from January to June 1996, 3% less than
in the first half of 1995, according to the State Statistics Committee.
There was a marked increase in the number of drug-related crimes. The
crime rate fell in more than 60 regions of Russia, including Moscow.
According to Moskovskii komsomolets on 6 August, 53,254 crimes were
reported in the capital, a 1.3% fall from corresponding figures for
1995. The number of murders fell from 962 to 954 cases; the incidence of
assault, larceny, and hostage taking also fell. The number of rape cases
in Moscow, however, increased sharply. 237 women have been raped in
Moscow since the beginning of the year, a 22% increase over the same
period of 1995. -- Penny Morvant

ORT MANAGEMENT CRITICIZED. The 51% state-owned Channel 1 broadcaster
Russian Public TV (ORT) should not call itself "public," since it only
serves a narrow group of financial and political interests, according to
Izvestiya on 6 August. The paper said Boris Berezovskii, deputy chairman
of the ORT board of directors, wields enormous power over programming
decisions. Berezovskii owns about 16% of the shares in ORT (other
private investors own between 3% and 5%), and he helped finance the
presidential campaigns of both Boris Yeltsin and Aleksandr Lebed. The
titular chairman of the ORT board, Aleksandr Yakovlev, "has nothing to
do with" running the network. In fact, the paper said, ORT's board of
directors is "fictitious," as is its board of trustees. According to
Izvestiya, other figures who play an active role in ORT include
presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais and Deputy Prime Minister
Vitalii Ignatenko, who also heads the state-run ITAR-TASS news agency.
-- Laura Belin

Vladimir Yakovlev presented his administration of 15 people to the
public on 5 August, Radio Rossii reported. Six members of the new
government, including Yakovlev, worked in the previous administration.
Yakovlev announced that his government's most important tasks will be to
overcome the city's financial crisis, improve performance of local
industrial and construction enterprises, and revive social welfare.
These tasks will be the responsibility of the two first deputy
governors, Vyacheslav Shcherbakov and Igor Artemev. Both of them were
candidates in the election but withdrew from the race to throw their
support behind Yakovlev. -- Anna Paretskaya

Foreign Ministry called in the Turkish charge d'affaires in Moscow and
expressed "bewilderment" with Ankara's recent decision to deny
ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky an entry visa, Russian media
reported. Zhirinovsky had planned to vacation in a Turkish coastal
resort, but he was not allowed to board a plane in Moscow on 1 August
because he did not have a visa. Zhirinovsky, trained as a specialist in
Turkish affairs, was expelled from Turkey in 1970 on charges of
distributing communist propaganda. He had been working there as a
translator. -- Scott Parrish

MOSCOW CITY TAKES OVER ZIL AUTO PLANT. The Moscow City government will
take over majority ownership of the city's ailing auto giant, ITAR-TASS
reported on 5 August. The city will buy 30% of ZIL stock from the
holding company Mikrodin to add to the 25% it already owns. ZIL is
running at a loss and was on the verge of firing several thousand
workers. Last year, it produced 10,000 vehicles, half of its output in
1994. -- Peter Rutland

ECONOMIC SLUMP CONTINUES. The economy continued to decline in the first
half of this year, according to official statistics reported by
Finansovye izvestiya on 6 August. GDP dropped by 5% over the same period
in 1995, while industrial output fell 4%, agricultural production fell
7%, and the volume of investment plunged by 14%. Although the monthly
rate of inflation dropped to 0.7% in July, the situation in the
financial sphere is deteriorating. The budget deficit as a proportion of
revenue went up from 22% in January-June 1995 to 47% this year, and wage
arrears reached 29.8 trillion rubles ($5.7 billion at the current
exchange rate) in July. The proportion of loss-making industrial
enterprises increased from 26% of the total in January-May 1995 to 36%
during the same period this year. -- Natalia Gurushina

FOKKER DEAL CHALLENGED. Earlier this year, it was announced that the
Yakovlev air corporation (YAK) intends to conclude a $261 million
takeover of the ailing Dutch firm Fokker. Aleksandr Yermishev, the
director of the Saratov aircraft plant, has come out against the deal,
complaining that the money could be used to retool three domestic
plants, NTV reported on 5 August. YAK argues that the deal would give
them access to Fokker's service network in 60 countries and facilitate
the international certification of their own aircraft. Also, YAK intends
to transfer the manufacture of fuselages for Fokker planes to the
Saratov plant, which is part of the YAK corporation. -- Natalia


NEWSPAPER CLOSED DOWN IN AZERBAIJAN. The Azerbaijani Information and
Press Ministry on 1 August ordered a halt to the publication of the
partly Turkish-owned daily newspaper Avrasiya (its editor is Hurriyet's
Baku correspondent), according to the Committee to Protect Journalists
and Reporters Sans Frontieres. Information and Press Minister Nariman
Hasan-Zade told Avrasiya's editor that the paper had been shut down
because of six recent articles on controversial topics including the
Gebele early-warning radar station and Azerbaijani-Iranian relations. --
Liz Fuller

GEORGIAN ARMY MANEUVERS. On 5 August, 3,000 Georgian troops began three
days of maneuvers in western Georgia close to the border with Abkhazia
under the personal supervision of Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze,
BGI reported. The Abkhaz army had held exercises near Sukhumi on 1-2
August under the supervision of Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba and
President Vladislav Ardzinba, according to reports in Nezavisimaya
gazeta on 3 August and Interfax on 1 August monitored by the BBC. -- Liz

EMIGRATION FROM GEORGIA. Between 800,000 and 1 million people, or
approximately 20% of the total population, have left Georgia over the
past five years, generally for economic reasons, according to ITAR-TASS
on 27 July and Russian Public TV (ORT) on 5 August. The majority of
emigres are university graduates under 35 years of age. -- Liz Fuller

YEREVAN UNOFFICIALLY LOBBIES ANKARA. Armenian parliamentary deputy
Telman Ter-Petrossyan was in Ankara on a private visit recently to lobby
the Turkish government to open up its border for trade with Armenia,
Cumhuriyet reported on 5 August. Along with other unnamed businessmen,
the elder brother of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan held talks
with Turkish parliamentarians, businessmen, and journalists to encourage
Turkey to buy Armenian electricity and cement, and to accept Armenia as
a market for Turkish goods and as a transit country for Turkmen and
Russian natural gas. -- Lowell Bezanis

UN Special Envoy to Tajikistan, met with President Imomali Rakhmonov on
5 August to discuss the implementation of the Ashgabat ceasefire
agreement, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement allows for prisoner
exchanges and UN monitoring of the situation in the contested Tavil Dara
region. Last week, UN observers attempted to reach the city of Tavil
Dara but were unsuccessful, RFE/RL reported. Merrem said that the
prisoner exchange is important for "strengthening trust" between the two
sides. Rakhmonov again reiterated his willingness to hold talks with the
opposition, as long as there are no conditions attached. -- Roger Kangas

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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