Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light. - Jennie Jerome Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 164, Part I, 23 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, MASKHADOV SIGN NEW CHECHEN CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT. In eight hours of
talks in the Chechen village of Novye Atagi on 22 August, Russian
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff
Aslan Maskhadov drafted and then signed a nine-point agreement on the
technical aspects of demilitarization, including the withdrawal of both
sides' forces from Grozny and the creation of a joint military
headquarters to maintain order and preclude looting, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The agreement also includes a ceasefire scheduled to
take effect at noon on 23 August. Lebed expressed confidence that the
agreement would be implemented, noting that "all the commanders whom I
brought together accepted this agreement as binding," according to ITAR-
TASS. Lebed flew back to Moscow overnight, but will return to Chechnya
in two days to sign a political agreement on future bilateral relations
between Moscow and Grozny. -- Liz Fuller

CHECHEN CASUALTY, REFUGEE TOLL. Over 400 Russian troops have been killed
and 1,264 wounded since the beginning of the Chechen offensive in Grozny
on 6 August, according to Russian Public Television (ORT). Some 150,000
residents have fled Grozny; the International Red Cross estimated on 22
August that 50,000 people remain in the city, AFP reported. The head of
the OSCE mission to Chechnya, Tim Guldimann, told a press conference in
Vienna on 22 August that water, food and medical supplies are in short
supply in Grozny, according to Reuters. ITAR-TASS quoted Guldimann,
whose role in mediating an earlier peace agreement between Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and acting Chechen President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev was sharply criticized by the pro-Moscow Chechen leadership,
as saying that the OSCE would continue to seek a political solution to
the Chechen conflict. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN DISSATISFIED WITH LEBED. President Boris Yeltsin criticized
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed on 22 August, ORT reported.
Yeltsin said that Lebed promised during the presidential election
campaign that if he held power, he would resolve the Chechen conflict,
but "now that he has power, unfortunately, there are no apparent
results." The president added that he would not "despair" and would
continue seeking a negotiated solution to the war. He labeled the
Chechen conflict a "bleeding wound" since it was claiming the lives of
so many Russian Federation citizens, Radio Mayak reported. -- Robert
Orttung

PULIKOVSKII ULTIMATUM NOT CLEARED IN THE DEFENSE MINISTRY. Defense
Minister Igor Rodionov announced that Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii
acted alone when he issued his 19 August ultimatum warning civilians to
evacuate Grozny within 48 hours, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 23 August.
The Defense Ministry did not prepare the ultimatum, nor did its
leadership approve it, Rodionov said. Pulikovskii exceeded his authority
in issuing the ultimatum and committed a serious mistake in doing so,
the defense minister said. He stressed that the military would not be
allowed to act independently of government policy. Pulikovskii's actions
demonstrate a breakdown in the Russian chain of command and continue a
trend of Russian commanders in ethnic hotspots, like Moldova and
Abkhazia, acting independently. -- Robert Orttung

IZVESTIYA COMPARES CHECHNYA TO VIETNAM. The main difference between the
war in Vietnam in the 1960s and the ongoing war in Chechnya is that the
U.S. learned lessons from Vietnam, while Russia has not yet learned
anything from the Chechen conflict, according to a commentary in the 23
August Izvestiya. The author, who reported from New York and Washington
during the Vietnam era, noted that Aleksandr Lebed's recent activities
have been viewed favorably in the West but with suspicion in Moscow, and
concluded that senior Russian officials sent Lebed to Chechnya hoping
not to solve the crisis, but to discredit Lebed. The author also found
many similarities between Chechnya and Vietnam. For instance, he said
Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii's ultimatum to Grozny residents recalled
a famous remark once attributed to an American colonel: "We had to
destroy the village in order to save it." -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN GIVES TV INTERVIEW. In his first TV interview since beginning
his second term, Yeltsin looked hale and confident as he sought to
demonstrate that he had a firm grasp on power, NTV reported on 22
August. Yeltsin denied rumors that he would be going to Switzerland for
medical treatment, noting that there were many problems left for him to
address in Russia. Yeltsin has not yet decided when and where he will
vacation, Izvestiya reported on 23 August. He spent the last two days
investigating resort sites, according to his press service. -- Robert
Orttung

AMAN TULEEV PROFILE. Aman Tuleev, the chairman of the Kemerovo Oblast
legislative assembly and an opposition leader, has joined the new
government to head the CIS Affairs Ministry. He had expected a higher
position, such as first deputy prime minister. Half-Kazak and half-
Tatar, Tuleev was born in Turkmenistan in 1944. A railroad worker and,
later, engineer, he became a Communist Party functionary in 1985. He has
been chairman of the Kemerovo Oblast legislature since 1990. A a long-
time opponent of Boris Yeltsin, Tuleev ran in both Russian presidential
races: in 1991, he finished fourth with about 7% of the vote; in 1996,
he withdrew his bid several days before the first round and threw his
support behind Gennadii Zyuganov. He is one of the five co-chairman of
the Popular Patriotic Union of Russia, an opposition movement created
earlier this month. Some observers suggest that Tuleev's appointment was
aimed to push him aside from the Kemerovo Oblast gubernatorial race,
where he had a good chance of defeating the incumbent. -- Anna
Paretskaya

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE THREATENS BALTICS. Presidential Aide Dmitrii Ryurikov
said that "policy with regard to ethnic Russians living in CIS states
will become much more active than it was previously," in an interview
with Moskovskii komsomolets of 21 August. He accused the Estonian
authorities of practicing "apartheid" and of not fulfilling agreements
on the pensions and other social rights of Russian residents. He
threatened that "specific steps will soon be taken which will make the
Estonian authorities consider the justice of their actions" and claimed
that "Lithuania, Latvia, and especially Estonia have no chance of
joining NATO until the Russian problem is resolved." -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIA STILL BACKS COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN. The 61-nation talks in Geneva
seeking a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty ended without agreement
on 22 August, after nearly three years of negotiations. The chief
Russian delegate to the Conference on Disarmament, Grigorii Berdennikov,
confirmed Russia's support for the comprehensive test ban, ITAR-TASS
reported on 22 August. Speaking at the conference, he criticized India's
refusal to sign the treaty, which is the sole remaining barrier to its
adoption. India is insisting that the declared nuclear powers provide a
timetable for complete disarmament, and Russia seems to have been unable
to dislodge its traditional ally from this position. -- Peter Rutland

STRIKES OVER WAGE ARREARS CONTINUE. Employees of a local hospital
picketed the building of the Magadan Oblast administration demanding
payment of back wages, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 22 August. The
doctors were last paid in May. The hospital administration canceled all
operations except for emergency cases. No reaction from the oblast
administration was reported. Meanwhile, transport workers went on a one-
day warning strike in Kyzyl, the capital of Tyva. The strike was also
prompted by overdue wages, which the workers have not received since
January, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 August. -- Anna Paretskaya

PRIMORSKII KRAI TO BOYCOTT HIGHER ENERGY TARIFFS. The Primorskii Krai's
regional duma will refuse to implement the State Energy Commission's
decree on raising energy prices in the region, ITAR-TASS reported on 23
August. To close the gap between costs and prices and restore the
profitability of electricity producers, the decree triples electricity
prices in the Far Eastern region, bringing them to 325 rubles ($0.06)
per kilowatt-hour for residents, 573 rubles for industrial companies,
and 1,410 rubles for commercial organizations. The duma complained that
local customers will not be able to pay the new tariffs, and called upon
Moscow to send 450 billion rubles to buy fuel supplies for next winter.
They also suggested that the region's 1.8 trillion ruble tax obligation
to the federal budget be canceled, given that Moscow owes the region
roughly that amount in payments and subsidies. -- Natalia Gurushina

DRAFT 1997 BUDGET APPROVED. The newly appointed government hurriedly
approved the draft federal budget for 1997 at its meeting on 22 August,
ITAR-TASS and Segodnya reported. The government is legally required to
submit the draft to parliament by 1 September. The draft assumes that
GDP will not decline next year but will stay at around 1,620 trillion
rubles ($300 billion), in contrast to the 3% fall expected this year. It
expects annual inflation of 9.5% and a budget deficit of 3.3% of GDP (89
trillion rubles), down from the 3.9% target for 1996. Spending will be
512 trillion rubles and revenues 423 trillion. This is largely a
hypothetical exercise. Even leaving aside the optimistic assumptions
factored into the 1997 budget, experience this year indicates that the
budget only imperfectly describes the actual pattern of government
spending. On 21 August President Yeltsin finally signed into law a bill
specifying the spending and revenue categories in the budget. The Duma
has been trying to pass such a law since December 1994: Yeltsin vetoed
two previous versions. -- Peter Rutland

PROFILE OF NEW FUEL AND ENERGY MINISTER. Petr Rodionov, a 45-year-old
member of the board of the gas industry giant Gazprom, has been
appointed Russia's new Fuel and Energy Minister. Rodionov was also the
director of Gazprom's subsidiary in St. Petersburg, where he earned a
"tough man" reputation for cutting gas supplies to defaulting customers,
Reuters reported on 22 August. In an interview with Russian Public
Television (ORT), Rodionov said he will push for a revision of the
energy sector's pricing policy. However, the capacity of his ministry to
influence such decisions has been much reduced by the privatization
program, which has created a number of autonomous corporations, and by
the fact that responsibility has to be shared with other governmental
agencies, such as the Federal Energy Commission, which sets transport
tariffs. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIANS PROTEST NEW ENGLISH TEXTBOOK. Georgian scholars have
criticized what they regard as "insulting and unethical" comments in a
new Georgian-language textbook published in England, ITAR-TASS reported
on 22 August. A meeting of scholars at the Samshoblo publishing house in
Tbilisi accused author George Hewitt of anti-Georgian bias, which they
connected to the alleged fact of his marriage to an Abkhazian. Some
participants even called for criminal proceedings against Hewitt. ITAR-
TASS reported that an Indiana University professor, Dodona Kiziria,
agreed with some of the criticism of the book. -- Peter Rutland

FOREIGN DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY AROUND TAJIKISTAN. With a new outbreak of
fighting reportedly in progress in the Tavil-Dara region,
representatives of other interested countries have stepped up their
efforts to achieve some resolution to the problems in Tajikistan.
Officials of the Russian and Afghan border commands met on 22 August in
the Tajik village of Tem, close to Khorog, to discuss means of
stabilizing the area along the Tajik-Afghan border, ITAR-TASS reported.
Representatives of the two countries agreed on sharing information on
border violations and on the creation of a border security zone
stretching 2-5 kilometers south into Afghanistan. UN envoy to Tajikistan
Gerd Merrem was in Iran, where several United Tajik Opposition leaders
live, on 22 August to enlist the aid of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali
Akbar Velayati, according to RFE/RL. Iran has played a constructive role
in bringing the Tajik government and opposition to the peace table since
the conflict began in 1992. -- Bruce Pannier

CASH WITHDRAWALS HALTED IN TASHKENT. The Uzbek government has ordered
Tashkent commercial banks to suspend all operations involving cash
withdrawals unless specific permission has been given, Finansovye
Izvestiya reported on 22 August. The paper reported that Uzbekistan's
treasury is facing a $700 million tax shortfall. -- Lowell Bezanis

NIYAZOV HOSTS UZBEK DEFENSE CHIEF. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov
held talks with visiting Uzbek Defense Minister Rustam Ahmedov on 20
August, Turkmen Press news agency reported the following day. According
to the BBC monitored report, the two sides discussed cooperation between
the Turkmen and Uzbek armed forces. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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