Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality. - Goethe
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 153, Part I, 8 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

STANDOFF CONTINUES IN GROZNY. Fighting continued in central Grozny on 7-
8 August as Chechen militants tried without success to take the central
government building, Russian and Western media reported. Two Russian
helicopters opened fire on civilians fleeing south from Grozny, killing
22 people and wounding 30 more, according to AFP. Both sides dispatched
reinforcements to Grozny on 8 August, Reuters reported, citing Interfax.
Russian Independent Television (NTV) reported that Russian Defense
Minister Igor Rodionov had informed pro-Moscow Chechen head of state
Doku Zavgaev that he is personally coordinating the actions of the
Russian federal troops deployed in Grozny. The deputy head of the
Russian team engaged in negotiations with the Chechens, Vladimir Zorin,
told ITAR-TASS that the attack on Grozny indicated serious disagreements
and a power struggle within the Chechen camp, and called for the
resumption of peace talks. -- Liz Fuller

PRO-MOSCOW CHECHEN LEADERSHIP BLAMES OSCE FOR ATTACK ON GROZNY. On 7
August, Ruslan Martagov, press spokesman for pro-Moscow Chechen head of
state Doku Zavgaev, blamed the OSCE for the recent attack on Grozny by
separatist forces, Radio Mayak reported. He said the international body
had failed to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Over the past 10
weeks, Zavgaev has repeatedly criticized OSCE mission head Tim Guldimann
and demanded that he leave Chechnya. Also on 7 August, the Chechen
Procurator-General's Office initiated criminal proceedings against
acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, Chief of Staff Aslan
Maskhadov, and Information Minister Movladi Udugov in connection with
the attack on Grozny. -- Liz Fuller

INAUGURATION TO BE INDOORS. President Boris Yeltsin has decided to hold
his inauguration ceremony in the State Kremlin Palace (the former Palace
of Congresses), ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August. Izvestiya reported
assertions "especially in the Western" press that the decision was taken
in order to reduce the strain that the ceremony would place on the
ailing president. In line with these reports, Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov charged that Yeltsin "is not in a condition to work
effectively," Reuters reported. However, administration sources claimed
that cost cutting was the main reason behind the move. The ceremony is
expected to last a maximum of 30 minutes. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN NAMES PRESS AIDE. President Yeltsin has announced that Sergei
Yastrzhembskii, the current Russian ambassador to Slovakia, will be
deputy chief of staff in charge of media relations, ITAR-TASS reported
on 7 August. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev will remain in his
position as a subordinate to Yastrzhembskii. The position of the current
head of the press service, Igor Ignatev, remains in doubt. Yeltsin named
former First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Krasavchenko to the newly
created position of adviser. The president already has a number of
aides. Krasavchenko had served in his former position since June 1993
when he was a member of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies and
supported Yeltsin's intention to disband parliament. -- Robert Orttung

FEDERATION COUNCIL OVERRIDES VETO. The Federation Council overrode a
Yeltsin veto of a law defining budgetary classifications with 121 votes
on 7 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The result was two more than the 119
needed for the override. Yeltsin had vetoed this bill on 31 December and
11 July, but Duma Budget Committee Chairman Mikhail Zadornov convinced
the members of the upper house that the second version of the bill had
taken into account all of Yeltsin's objections in spite of his veto. The
law should increase oversight over how budget funds are spent, members
of the upper house asserted. Vetoes have been extremely rare since it is
difficult to get a two-thirds majority in both houses. -- Robert Orttung

POPULAR-PATRIOTIC UNION HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS. The founding congress
of the Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR) unanimously elected as
its chairman Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov but also
distanced itself from communist rhetoric and ideals, Russian media
reported on 7 August. Zyuganov was officially nominated by Duma Culture
Committee Chairman Stanislav Govorukhin, who has frequently criticized
past and present communists. Addressing the delegates, Zyuganov promised
that the KPRF would be "equal among equals" in the union and would not
force its views on other member organizations. Meanwhile, Nikolai
Ryzhkov, who heads the NPSR's organizing committee, said patriotism
would be the union's fundamental ideology and social justice would be
its primary goal. A statement adopted by the congress and published in
Sovetskaya Rossiya on 8 August does not mention socialism, Soviet power,
or communism. It pledges to respect political and religious differences
and struggle for power through elections. -- Laura Belin

JUDGE CALLS FOR ANTI-COMMUNIST MEASURES. Steps must be taken to counter
unconstitutional and unlawful activities of the Communist Party of the
Russian Federation (KPRF), according to a commentary by Constitutional
Court Judge Ernest Ametistov, published in Izvestiya on 8 August. He
also targeted bureaucrats sympathetic to the communists. Ametistov wrote
that the KPRF is not a "civilized opposition," because it routinely
"grossly violates" a 1992 court decision banning any revival of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union on a national level or at
workplaces. Ametistov, who is highly loyal to President Yeltsin, said
the Justice Ministry should use powers granted to it under a May
presidential decree (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 May 1996) to conduct an
inquiry on why this ruling has not been enforced. He also called for a
cadre policy to replace corrupt local bureaucrats and "red directors,"
whom he blamed for the problem of wage arrears, and for removing
"totalitarian symbols" from city streets and enterprises. -- Laura Belin

SOME MINERS CONTINUE THEIR STRIKE. In Primorskii krai and Rostov oblast
about half the striking miners had returned to work by 7 August, Russian
and Western media reported. However, it appears that some miners are not
satisfied with the government's pledge to pay off the wage debt by
installments. For now, the Rostov miners are only being given their
wages for March. A team headed by Mikhail Klimov, the deputy head of the
Presidential Oversight Commission, arrived in Vladivostok on 7 August to
investigate the fate of the 60 billion rubles which Moscow sent to
Primore to pay miners' wages at the beginning of the year, RTR reported.
The Vorkuta miners called off their strike scheduled for 8 August after
they were assured 30 billion rubles had been dispatched to the region,
ITAR-TASS reported. -- Peter Rutland

ST. PETERSBURG GOVERNOR STAYS OUT OF OBLAST POLITICS. St. Petersburg
Governor Vladimir Yakovlev has declared that he will not interfere with
the gubernatorial race in neighboring Leningrad Oblast, RFE/RL reported
on 7 August. He declined to endorse any of the candidates, including the
incumbent Aleksandr Belyakov. Belyakov, appointed oblast head by
President Yeltsin in 1991, supported Yakovlev in the June St. Petersburg
gubernatorial runoff. Observers say that Yakovlev's reluctance to
support Belyakov could mean that the Yeltsin administration, which
announced it will support one candidate in each region, is undecided
over whom to back in the Leningrad election. Other potential candidates
include the left-leaning former speaker of the Leningrad Soviet, Vadim
Gustov, and the liberal Nikolai Smirnov. -- Anna Paretskaya

POLICE: EXPLOSION NEAR CHERNOMYRDIN'S CAR WAS "HOOLIGANISM." Police
investigators have concluded that the 6 August explosion near the
Rublevskoe shosse in Moscow--which took place moments before Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's motorcade drove by--was an act of random
"hooliganism" and was not directed against the prime minister, ITAR-TASS
reported on 7 August. The explosion was caused by a homemade bomb
containing some 200 grams of explosives which detonated about 15 meters
from the highway. -- Scott Parrish

IZVESTIYA: DUMA FINANCES PRIVATE APARTMENTS FOR DEPUTIES. According to a
report in the 8 August edition of Izvestiya, the State Duma recently
decided to give each of its current and previous members $60,000 from
the federal budget to purchase a Moscow apartment. Adopted in "strict
secrecy," the decision was taken under the 1994 law on deputies' status.
Many deputies of the previous Duma who did not win re-election in 1995
had refused to vacate their state-provided apartments when their terms
expired. Now deputies will receive a "one-time compensation payment" to
enable them to purchase housing in Moscow, which will then become their
personal private property. The paper indicated that the Presidential
Administration, which manages official flats in Moscow, had approved the
action, and suggested its approval was intended to encourage the Duma to
approve Viktor Chernomyrdin as Prime Minister. -- Scott Parrish

COURTS SEIZE COMPANIES' ASSETS. A court has seized the assets of the
Zvezda plant near Vladivostok that repairs Pacific Fleet nuclear
submarines, and will sell some of them to pay the company's debts,
Reuters reported on 7 August, citing Interfax. The shipyard owed its
suppliers more than 36 billion rubles ($6.8 million), including 6
billion rubles to the water company which initiated the court action.
But Zvezda director Valerii Maslyukov said his firm is owed more than 80
billion rubles, with 17 billion just by the government. Meanwhile, tax
police in Khabarovsk Krai seized the assets of the Far Eastern Railway,
the largest debtor in the region, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. The
railway owes some 458 billion rubles to regional and federal
authorities. These measures are part of the government's strategy to
boost tax collection through more active involvement of law-enforcement
agencies. -- Doug Clarke and Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

IMF PRAISES ARMENIA. Panos Katsambas, the head of an IMF mission that
has spent the past two weeks in Armenia, on 7 August expressed
satisfaction with the progress of macroeconomic stabilization and reform
in the country, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported. Katsambas expressed
concern, however, over enterprise debts to the budget, estimated at 12.5
billion drams ($30 million). In October, Armenia is scheduled to receive
the second ($25 million) tranche of a $150 million ESAF credit. -- Liz
Fuller

U.S. DIPLOMATS IN SUKHUMI. A U.S. delegation led by the deputy
ambassador to Georgia, Larry Kerr, arrived in Sukhumi on 6 August on a
fact-finding mission, ITAR-TASS and Abkhaz Radio reported on 7 August.
The delegation met with newly-appointed Foreign Minister Konstantin
Ozgan, who claimed that Abkhazia has never been an integral part of
Georgia, and with parliament speaker Sokrat Djinjolia, and expressed
U.S. readiness to help find a compromise solution to the question of
Abkhazia's future relations with Tbilisi. -- Liz Fuller

GEORGIA AGAIN DEMANDS GIORGADZE'S EXTRADITION. The Georgian prosecutor-
general on 7 August issued a statement branding former security chief
Igor Giorgadze a terrorist and criticizing Moscow's refusal to extradite
him to Tbilisi as incompatible with its pledge to combat terrorism,
Russian media reported. Giorgadze is suspected of involvement in last
year's bomb attack on parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze. The
statement further claimed that failure to extradite Giorgadze would pose
a threat to Shevardnadze's security on his upcoming trips to Russia. --
Liz Fuller

TURKMENISTAN AND PAKISTAN TALK. Turkmen Foreign Minister Boris
Shikhmuradov met with Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in
Islamabad on 5 August to discuss the construction of a $6 billion oil
and gas pipeline linking the two countries and investment in
infrastructure, according to a Radio Pakistan report monitored by the
BBC. Shikhmuradov, accompanied by executives of the U.S. oil firms
UNOCAL and Delta, is exploring the possibility of exporting
Turkmenistan's hydrocarbon riches south through areas of Afghanistan
controlled by the allegedly Pakistani-backed rebel Taliban movement.
U.S. sanctions against Iran are reported to have scuttled an alternative
plan to move Iranian gas to Pakistan. -- Lowell Bezanis

ANOTHER PRISONER AMNESTY IN UZBEKISTAN. President Islam Karimov on 7
August granted amnesties and prison-term reductions to some of
Uzbekistan's prisoners, ITAR-TASS reported. The exact number of
prisoners that will benefit from this decree is unclear, although the
wording suggests that this is part of a "large-scale amnesty." This is
the second time in the past two months that Karimov has issued such a
decree. On 15 June, he pardoned 80 prisoners, including two opposition
figures (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 June 1996). -- Roger Kangas

UN OBSERVERS CLOSER TO TAVIL-DARA. UN military observers in Tajikistan
have come closer to fulfilling one of the conditions of the 20 July
Ashgabat ceasefire agreement signed by representatives of the Tajik
government and opposition, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August. Tajik
presidential press secretary Zafar Saidov said UN observers have now set
up an office in Khovaling, a town just outside of the Tavil-Dara region
that is used as a base by Tajik government forces. According to the
agreement, UN observers were to "position groups of observers on both
sides of the conflict line" in the Tavil-Dara region by 23 July.
However, continued fighting between government and opposition forces in
the area prevented any independent observers from entering the region.
-- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jeremy Druker

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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