It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. - Sir Winston Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 160, Part I, 19 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

RUSSIA

LEBED DENOUNCES INTERIOR MINISTER KULIKOV . . . At a 16 August
Moscow press conference following his return from Chechnya,
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed called on President
Yeltsin to dismiss Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov for failing
to implement orders to normalize the situation in Chechnya, Russian
and Western agencies reported. Following up on his earlier promise
to name those "responsible" for the Chechen conflict, Lebed said
Kulikov has refused to cooperate with him, and accused the minister
of a "Napoleon complex." The Security Council secretary then issued
a de facto ultimatum to President Yeltsin, announcing: "you will
have to make a difficult choice. Only one must stay--Lebed or
Kulikov." Lebed bragged that the conflict could be ended in "20-25
minutes," but warned that if it is not resolved soon, Russia will
face "a major Caucasian war." -- Scott Parrish

. . . BUT KULIKOV STANDS FIRM. Kulikov quickly rejected Lebed's
charges as "slander and insults," adding that he would submit his
resignation and allow Yeltsin to decide if he should remain in
office, Russian and Western agencies reported on 16 August. ITAR-
TASS reported that on the evening of 16 August Yeltsin telephoned
Kulikov and asked him to stay on, dealing an apparent rebuff to
Lebed. Kulikov called a meeting of the Interior Ministry collegium
on 17 August to discuss the Chechen situation, to which he invited
the Security Council secretary, but Lebed's press spokesman said
his attendance would be pointless, charging that the meeting would
be a "spectacle" devoted solely to finding ways to save Kulikov.
After the collegium meeting, Kulikov expressed regret that Lebed
had not attended but also criticized him, saying he "does not yet
have a full understanding" of Chechen affairs. -- Scott Parrish

CEASEFIRE AGREED IN GROZNY BUT NOT FORMALIZED. The commander of
federal forces in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, and
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov agreed on 17 August to a
ceasefire, Russian and Western agencies reported. However, despite
the agreement, sporadic fighting continued in the city on 17-18
August, with both sides accusing the other of launching attacks
within hours of its announcement. The next day, talks on
implementing the ceasefire broke down because of disagreements over
its scope and the mechanism for monitoring it. Chechen spokesmen
told AFP that Russian negotiators would not agree to a single
monitoring commission with enforcement powers that would include
both Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and representatives
from neighboring republics. Meanwhile, NTV reported that local
residents are using the current truce to flee the city. -- Scott
Parrish

KREMLIN DENIES THAT YELTSIN WILL HAVE HEART SURGERY ABROAD.
Presidential press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii denied reports
published in Time magazine that the president is planning to fly to
Switzerland for heart bypass surgery, ITAR-TASS reported on 19
August. The Time report claimed that Yeltsin had suffered a crisis
in June, during the presidential campaign, because he stopped
taking his medicine and "went on a drinking binge that may have
affected his heart as well as the left side of his brain."
Meanwhile, the extremist newspaper Zavtra (no. 33) reported that a
double used to stand in for Yeltsin has had two fingers removed
from his left hand to simulate Yeltsin's childhood disfigurement.
The double, who is slightly taller than Yeltsin and has a markedly
different voice, has allegedly been used in a variety of
situations, including the reception following Yeltsin's
inauguration. -- Robert Orttung

GORBACHEV ON AUGUST 1991 COUP ATTEMPT. Important new details about
the August 1991 coup were revealed by former Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev in an interview with RFE/RL on 18 August--five
years to the day since he was placed under house arrest. Gorbachev
said that on 30 July 1991 he held a meeting with Kazakhstani
President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin,
in which they agreed on the policies they would follow after
signing the new Union Treaty on 20 August. They planned to remove
the heads of the KGB and Defense Ministry, and to replace Prime
Minister Valentin Pavlov with Nazarbayev. Gorbachev said that the
KGB taped the meeting, and KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov used the
tape to persuade army leaders to support the coup. Gorbachev also
said that in June 1991 George Bush warned him that a coup was
imminent. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIAN AIRCREW ESCAPE AFGHAN CAPTORS. After a year of being held
captive by the rebel Afghan Taliban group, the seven-man Russian
and Tatar crew of an Il-76 cargo transport made a daring escape
from Afghanistan on 16 August and eventually returned to a hero's
welcome in Moscow and Kazan, Russian and Western media reported.
The crew overpowered their guards while performing periodic
maintenance on their aircraft, then flew off while holding three of
the guards hostage. They landed in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates,
and were then flown to Moscow. Their plane had been forced down by
a Taliban fighter in August 1995 while carrying ammunition for the
Afghan government. Russian officials said that many countries had
assisted in the escape, including Pakistan, India, the U.S., and
Morocco. -- Doug Clarke

YELTSIN NAMES LAST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. President Yeltsin
appointed physicist Vladimir Fortov to the post of deputy prime
minister in charge of science, ITAR-TASS reported. Fortov has
served as chairman of the Russian Fundamental Research Fund and in
the Russian Academy of Sciences. His job will be to coordinate all
of Russia's scientific efforts. -- Robert Orttung

PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION ESTABLISHES WWW SITE. The presidential
administration has established a site on the World Wide Web
(http://www.gov.ru), Izvestiya reported on 17 August. The site,
which is still under construction, will contain biographies of
Yeltsin and his wife, transcripts of several of his speeches,
mostly during the election, and a full collection of recent press
releases. -- Robert Orttung

SAGALAEV INTENDS TO CUT RUSSIAN TV STAFF IN HALF. The director of
Russian TV (RTR), Eduard Sagalaev, wants to cut his staff of 4,800
staff in half, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 17 August. He said
many of his employees are not performing their jobs well and that
the station does not have enough money to pay all of them salaries
comparable to those at Russian Public TV (ORT) or NTV. Sagalaev
took over RTR on 15 February when Yeltsin fired previous director
Oleg Poptsov for broadcasting "lies" in the station's critical
coverage of the war in Chechnya. Sagalaev plans to turn RTR into a
"people's channel" by cutting some of its political programs, the
paper noted. -- Robert Orttung

CHUBAIS MAKES STRANGE TRIP TO DENMARK. Presidential Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais has apparently traveled to Copenhagen to invite
his friend, businessman Jurgen Tryukvid, to become an advisor on
privatizing Russia's chemical enterprises, Ekho Moskvy reported on
16 August. The station claimed that it had received several
threatening phone calls from Tryukvid, warning them that Chubais is
unhappy with the station's news coverage and telling one of them
that "it's over for you." Komsomolskaya pravda on 17 August also
reported on the trip, while Rossiiskaya gazeta on 16 August quoted
Chubais assistant Andrei Trapeznikov's rejection of these
accusations. -- Robert Orttung

CONSCRIPTS IN COMBAT TO BE RELEASED EARLY. Each day that a
conscripted soldier spends in a combat zone or in a medical
establishment as the result of a service-related injury or illness
will count as two days of mandatory military service, ITAR-TASS
reported, citing a decree signed by President Yeltsin on 17 August.
Most conscripts must serve 24 months. The decree, which goes into
force immediately, applies to all federal executive bodies that
have military components. -- Doug Clarke

BOMBS DISCOVERED IN PYATIGORSK, PENZA, KIZLYAR. A homemade
explosive with a timer was found in the city of Pyatigorsk's
largest department store on 15 August, RTR and ORT reported. The
bomb was detected by a customer and was neutralized by police just
18 minutes before it was set to explode. Next day, another homemade
explosive was found near an apartment bloc in Penza, ORT reported.
Five rocket-launched bombs were found in the Terek River in the
Dagestani city of Kizlyar, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 August. Those
projectiles were most likely launched from neighboring Chechnya. --
Anna Paretskaya

CONTROVERSY OVER VLADIVOSTOK MAYORALTY. While the reinstated mayor
of Vladivostok, Viktor Cherepkov, said he is ready to resume his
position, the man who has been filling in for him since 1994 says
he will not give up the mayoralty, Russian media reported. Last
week, Cherepkov was reinstated in his office after a court
overruled President Yeltsin's December 1994 decision to dismiss him
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 August 1996). Konstantin Tolstoshein,
who was appointed by the governor of Primorskii Krai to replace
Cherepkov, said he plans to run in the local election scheduled for
6 October. Cherepkov, however, says there is no need to hold the
October election since he was elected to a five-year term in July
1993. Some 500 people demonstrated in support of Tolstoshein on 16
August, ITAR-TASS and Ekho Moskvy reported. Krai Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko has promised to hold a referendum on Cherepkov's
legitimacy if the mayoral election is canceled. -- Anna Paretskaya

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ETHNIC ARMENIANS IN ABKHAZIA. BGI on 15 August published a report
detailing the strains in relations between ethnic Armenians and
Abkhaz in the breakaway region. A "well informed" source in Sukhumi
said the Armenians of Abkhazia have had to endure killings,
kidnappings, and other harassments. The unconfirmed report also
claimed that the Marshal Bagramyan Armenian battalion has been
disbanded, local leaders have an "unfriendly attitude" toward the
Krunk Armenian charity, and that the Armenian community suffers
from economic discrimination. -- Lowell Bezanis

GEORGIA DENIES RADIATION LEVELS EXCEED NORM. The Georgian Defense
Ministry has denied reports in the Georgian and foreign press that
higher than normal radiation levels have been measured at an
unnamed military base in Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August.
The agency, citing "trustworthy sources," noted that a special
commission had inspected the site and decided that the radiation
level on the military base posed no threat to the health and safety
of the nearby population. On 15 August, Moskovsii komsomolets
quoted Ramzan Goytemirov, the chairman of the Caucasus
Environmental Council, as saying that the Russian military base at
Vaziani is located near a nuclear waste dump. -- Lowell Bezanis

NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF KAZAKHSTAN'S GERMANS HAVE LEFT. Some 65% of
the German population of Kazakhstan has left the country since
1990, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August, citing the country's State
Committee for Statistics. There are now about 370,000 ethnic
Germans living in Kazakhstan. The chairman of the Council of
Germans of Kazakhstan, Alexander Dederer, said the Kazakhstani
government should attempt to lure some of the departed Germans back
by offering advantageous loans to those who return, and urged the
German government to help Kazakhstan's Germans start up businesses
in the republic. -- Bruce Pannier

"PRECISE AND EFFICIENT" QUELLING OF PRISON RIOT IN MARY. Neitralnyi
Turkmenistan on 7 August carried an official account of the 4
August prison riot in Mary. The article, monitored by the BBC,
quoted Interior and Security ministry sources as saying that
inmates on death row carried out a "daring attack" during a routine
inspection of their cells. After taking some warders hostage and
releasing some fellow prisoners, they demanded arms and a vehicle
for escaping. During the rescue operation by a special police unit
one prisoner reportedly committed suicide, two were killed, and
seven were injured. -- Lowell Bezanis

HOMELESS HOLD DEMONSTRATION IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL. A group of some 200
homeless people held a demonstration in Bishkek's central square on
15 August, RFE/RL reported. The group, consisting mainly of young
people, demanded that the government create a special commission to
help the country's homeless. Bishkek Mayor Boris Silaev refused to
meet with the demonstrators but First Deputy Prime Minister
Abdujapar Tagayev showed up and promised to help them. The
government has set up a project called Ashar to help the homeless,
but a shortage of funding and increasing numbers of homeless have
limited the project's effectiveness. -- Bruce Pannier

WHO CONTROLS TAVIL-DARA? Tajik opposition leader Ali Akabar
Turajonzoda told RFE/RL that opposition forces managed to re-
capture the town of Tavil-Dara on 15 August. The Tajik Defense
Ministry did not confirm this claim but noted that government
forces still control strategic heights around the town. The
ministry also alerted UN representatives that retaliatory measures
would be taken to drive opposition forces out of the area. Asked if
these latest events are a threat to the 20 July ceasefire
agreement, the UN special envoy to Tajikistan, Gerd Merrem, replied
"the ceasefire has never taken effect in the Tavil-Dara zone." --
Bruce Pannier


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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