If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 163, Part I, 22 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

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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 e-mail your request to: annual@omri.cz
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RUSSIA

LEBED MEETS CHECHEN MILITARY LEADER. The commander of the Russian
federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, rejected a
telephone request by pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev on 21 August
to rescind the ultimatum issued on 19 August to all residents of Grozny
to leave the city within 48 hours, NTV reported. However, Russian
Defense Minister Igor Rodionov told Russian Television (RTR) that Lt.-
Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii had acted "incorrectly" in issuing the
ultimatum and implied he had done so on orders from someone outside the
military high command. Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed arrived in Grozny on 21 August and met with Tikhomirov, then
traveled to the village of Novye Atagi south of Grozny for talks with
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov. Lebed subsequently canceled
Pulikovskii's ultimatum, which he told journalists was "a bad joke" and
an attempt to undermine the accords he had reached earlier with
Maskhadov, according to ITAR-TASS and Radio Mayak. The Russian military
high command then ordered a cessation of hostilities in Grozny; the city
was quiet on the morning of 22 August, Reuters reported. Lebed and
Maskhadov met again in Novye Atagi during the morning of 22 August. --
Liz Fuller

INTERNATIONAL CONCERN OVER SITUATION IN GROZNY. Late on 20 August U.S.
President Bill Clinton sent a letter to President Boris Yeltsin
expressing concern about the fate of the some 120,000 civilians
remaining in Grozny, Russian and Western agencies reported. AFP said
that this was the first direct appeal from Clinton concerning the
Chechen conflict, which the U.S. officially regards as Russia's internal
affair. The U.S. had apparently not received a reply from Moscow as of
12:00 Moscow time on 22 August. The 19 August ultimatum by Lt.-Gen.
Pulikovskii caused a variety of foreign governments to warn Russia that
the Chechen situation should be resolved through dialogue, not by force,
although Clinton appears to have been the only head of state to react
officially. Council of Europe speaker Leni Fischer reminded Moscow that
when it joined that organization it promised to "find a political
solution to the (Chechen) conflict," AFP reported on 21 August. Reuters
reported on the same day that the UN World Food Program has asked the
U.S. to fly in 140,000 emergency meals for refugees from Grozny: last
month the U.S. sent 35,000 meals. Meanwhile, the Russian government
complains that some 1,000 foreign mercenaries are fighting alongside the
separatists, according to Rossiiskaya gazeta of 22 August. -- Peter
Rutland

MORE PROTESTS AGAINST WAR. Several prominent human rights campaigners
and State Duma deputies, including Sergei Kovalev and Sergei Yushenkov
of Russia's Democratic Choice and Viktor Sheinis of Yabloko, called for
massive political protests if the bloodshed in Chechnya is not ended,
Russian media reported on 21 August. On the same day, a group of Russian
Muslim clerics appealed to President Yeltsin to end the fighting, while
the leaders of the Union of Muslims said they hoped Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed will find a solution for the crisis, ITAR-TASS
and Radio Rossii reported. Meanwhile, a protest march organized by
Obshchaya gazeta and supported by editors of several other Russian
newspapers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 August 1996) has been set for 5
September, pending approval by the Moscow city government, ITAR-TASS
reported. The Soldiers' Mothers Committee, Moscow Helsinki Group and
watchdog group Memorial have supported the march. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN RETURNS TO KREMLIN. President Yeltsin returned from the lake
region of Valdai to Moscow on the evening of 21 June and went to work at
the Kremlin on 22 June, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported, citing
Presidential Press Secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii. Yeltsin was shown
briefly on Russian Television, and met with five of the six newly
appointed ministers. -- Laura Belin

TULEEV AMONG SIX NEW MINISTERS. On 22 August President Boris Yeltsin
appointed six additional ministers to his new government: Anatolii
Zaitsev (Railroads), Yurii Bespalov (Industry), Petr Rodionov (Fuel and
Energy), Viktor Orlov (Natural Resources), Tatyana Dmitrieva (Health),
and Aman Tuleev (CIS Affairs). This signifies the departure from
government of the long-standing fuel and energy minister, Yurii
Shafranik. Also noteworthy is the appointment of Aman Tuleev to manage
relations with the CIS. Tuleev, the head of the legislature in Kemerovo
oblast, was a supporter of Communist presidential candidate Gennadii
Zyuganov.  The post of minister of culture is still vacant. -- Peter
Rutland

KORZHAKOV ON CORRUPTION. Aleksandr Korzhakov, President Yeltsin's former
top bodyguard, told Argumenty i fakty that he was fired because he tried
to limit rampant corruption in the Kremlin and complained: "One gets the
impression that nearly all top officials are working to loot state
property," Reuters reported on 21 August. Korzhakov was sacked on 20
June, the morning after his men detained and interrogated two Yeltsin
campaign officials who were found carrying more than $500,000 in cash.
The campaign workers had links to Korzhakov's longtime enemy Anatolii
Chubais, who became Yeltsin's chief of staff shortly after Korzhakov's
ouster. Moskovskie novosti (No. 33) reported that Korzhakov, along with
former Security Service head Mikhail Barsukov, possesses many documents
incriminating top officials. In the near future, he will use the media
both to attack his main opponents in the Yeltsin camp and to protect
himself, the paper said. -- Laura Belin

SOLDIERS WHO FLED HAZING RETURN. The 30 soldiers who deserted from an
internal troops unit in Perm on 18 August returned after a senior
commander guaranteed their safety, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. The
troops ran away and camped in the woods in order to escape what they
described as "unbearable" hazing (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 August
1996). ITAR-TASS reported that the soldiers who "terrorized" the
deserters have been transferred and that the unit's commanders are being
investigated to find who is guilty of allowing the "critical situation"
to develop. According to Radio Rossii, six soldiers suspected of
instigating the hazing have been sent to a military prison and a
criminal case has been opened against them. -- Laura Belin

KIDNAPPING OVER IN MOSCOW; EIGHT KILLED IN NOVGOROD. Moscow police have
detained three people who demanded a $5,000 ransom for a 19-year-old
girl kidnapped 10 days earlier, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August.
Meanwhile, eight young people, including two Vietnamese, were shot dead
in the town of Borovichi in Novgorod Oblast. The killers opened fire
with submachine-guns in a local cafe, named "Banzai!" around midnight on
19 August. No motive was reported. -- Anna Paretskaya

CUSTOMS AND POLICE CRACKDOWN. The Moscow customs department confiscated
smuggled goods worth 89 billion rubles ($17 million) between 22 July and
15 August, the department's spokesmen Sergei Milokostov said. Tobacco
products accounted for 48 billion rubles and alcohol 14 billion of the
seized goods, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. Small amount of narcotics
and three handguns were also seized. Meanwhile, Amur Oblast police
detained 53 local drug dealers and 23 dealers from Central Russia,
Sakhalin, and Central Asia, Radio Rossii reported. About 130 kilograms
of marijuana was confiscated. Krasnodar Krai Governor Nikolai Yegorov
signed a decree allowing krai law enforcement agencies to keep for
themselves one-quarter of goods or money confiscated from criminals,
ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August. According to experts, the decree will
provide these agencies with a financial stimulus to work more
effectively. -- Anna Paretskaya

BUSINESSMEN PROTEST VODKA RESTRICTIONS. Local businessmen held a
spontaneous demonstration in the city of Pskov on 21 August to protest
the city council's decision to restrict the alcohol trade, ITAR-TASS
reported. According to a new instruction, hard liquor may be sold only
in shops with special storage premises and alarm systems. If the
decision comes into affect, many stalls which now sell drinks will be
shut down and hundreds of stallholders will lose their jobs. Last month,
restrictions on trade in spirits were introduced in Moscow (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 23 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya

METRO CONSTRUCTION WORKERS SUSPEND STRIKE . . . Moscow metro
construction (Metrostroi) workers returned to work after two days of
striking over unpaid back wages, NTV reported on 21 August. Metrostroi
trade unions reached agreement with the government that within 10 days
the workers will be paid 130 billion rubles ($25 million) of overdue
wages. If the money is not paid, Metrostroi workers will go on strike
again. -- Anna Paretskaya

. . . WHILE MINERS READY TO WALK OUT AGAIN. Primorskii Krai miners will
resume their strike on 26 August if they are not paid their June
salaries, which Yurii Malyshev, general manager of the federal coal
company Rosugol, has promised them, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August,
quoting regional trade union leader Petr Kiryasov. The krai energy
workers also plan to start an indefinite strike in September if they
fail to get 108 billion rubles ($21 million) of back wages. They also
may stop supplying all regional enterprises and individual consumers
with electricity. Meanwhile, the crew of a Russian cargo ship announced
that it will block the major Black Sea port of Sochi until the ship
owner pays wages owed for six months, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Anna
Paretskaya

IMF LOAN BACK ON TRACK. As expected, the IMF Executive Board declared on
21 August that it will approve the release of the $330 million July
tranche of the $10.1 billion Extended Fund Facility granted to Russia in
February this year, ITAR-TASS reported. The July payment was suspended
because of concern over the 40% shortfall in tax collection in the first
half of the year. The IMF has apparently satisfied itself that the
Russian government is taking steps to address the problem. -- Peter
Rutland

DUBININ SAYS BANK CRISIS UNLIKELY. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin
said in an interview with Delovoi Mir of 21 August that there is little
chance of a sudden financial crisis. He argued that banks are more
cautious, experienced, and cooperative in their lending policies, so
another domino crisis of failed payments of the sort experienced last
August is most unlikely. Dubinin said the position has also been
stabilized by the slowdown in inflation -- which was only 0.7% in July
and 16.3% since January, Reuters reported on 22 August. However, Pravda-
5 argued on 21 August that the financial position of many of Russia's
2,100 banks is precarious and that even large banks are vulnerable.
Rumors about Inkombank, Russia's fifth largest, in mid-July caused
depositors to withdraw about 160 billion rubles ($30 million), or 15% of
its assets. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NOTE TO READERS: In accordance with the preferences of the Kazakstani
government and several international media sources, OMRI has decided to
change the spelling of Kazakhstan, a Russian-derived transliteration, to
Kazakstan.

MKHEDRIONI ACTIVIST EXTRADITED TO GEORGIA. Temur Kurdiani, a member of
the Mkhedrioni informal paramilitary formation, has been detained in
Moscow and handed over to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs,
ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. He has been charged in connection with
a series of political assassinations in Georgia in 1994-95. -- Liz
Fuller

KAZAKSTANI NATIONAL AIRLINE BANKRUPT. The Kazakstani government declared
the national airline Aue Zholy bankrupt on 20 August, ITAR-TASS and
RFE/RL reported. As of mid-August the airline's debt was 19 billion
tenge ($180 million), and it has already been denied access to airports
in Western Europe, Israel, and Turkey because of failure to finance new
insurance agreements. The most valuable assets of the company are to be
handed over to a new company, still being formed, Air Kazakstan. The
remaining assets are to be sold off to government agencies and local
authorities at auctions or assigned to them for management. -- Bruce
Pannier

KAZAKSTAN RESPONDS TO RUSSIAN ELECTRICITY CUTS. Taking an "analogous
measure," Kazakstan cut off shipments of coal to the Omsk Oblast, RTR
reported on 22 August. Russia had stopped supplying northern Kazakstan
with electricity on 15 August, citing nonpayment of $420 million (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 16 August 1996). All the cities of Omsk Oblast are
dependent on coal from Kazakstan's Ekibazstuz mine. Officials of the
Omsk Oblast administration are trying to enlist aid from the private
company Moskenergo, but supplying the 14 power stations in the region
will require time. Industry in the area is reported to be at a
standstill. -- Bruce Pannier

NO EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS BETWEEN TAJIK FACTIONS. The International
Committee of the Red Cross has expressed regret that neither the Tajik
government nor the Tajik opposition has fulfilled its promise to trade
prisoners, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. Under the terms of the
Ashgabat agreement, signed on 20 July, exchanges of those held by the
two sides should have been completed by 20 August, but as of 21 August
neither side had even presented a list of detained persons to the ICRC.
Meanwhile, Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov met with Russian First
Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov on 21 August in Moscow and
repeated the Tajik government's willingness to settle the Tajik conflict
by peaceful means. According to the ITAR-TASS report, Nazarov said the
Tajik government would "agree to give the opposition seats in the
apparatus of the president, the government, and all structures of
management from rural regions to the center." -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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