Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 167, Part I, 28 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

TIKHOMIROV, MASKHADOV MEET. Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov and
the commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen.
Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, met in Noviye Atagi south of Grozny on 27 August
and reached agreement on resuming the withdrawal of Russian forces from
Grozny, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. The pullout was suspended on 25
August following the seizure of Russian weaponry by renegade Chechen
detachments. The last of the snatched arms were returned on 27 August,
according to ITAR-TASS. The Russian troop withdrawal should be completed
by 1 September, Reuters reported. The two commanders also agreed that
joint Chechen-Russian patrols should begin in Grozny in the next few
days. -- Liz Fuller

ZAVGAEV LAMBASTS LEBED . . . Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on
27 August, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev harshly
criticized Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's Chechen
involvement, Russian and Western agencies reported. Zavgaev said he
believed Lebed sincerely desired to halt the Chechen war, but charged
that his approach is "superficial" and "could unleash an uncontrollable
civil war." Specifically, Zavgaev argued that the peace agreement
between Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov will bring to
power in Chechnya "the heroes of Budennovsk," who he charged are engaged
in systematically killing supporters of the pro-Moscow Chechen
leadership. Zavgaev repeated that his leadership is "ready for any
concessions, including political ones" to help resolve the crisis,
according to ITAR-TASS. Radio Rossi on 26 August, however, cited unnamed
analysts as suggesting that Zavgaev and his supporters may be creating
their own military units with an aim to retake Grozny. -- Liz Fuller

. . . BUT LEBED SPOKESMAN REJECTS CHARGES. Lebed's press secretary,
Aleksandr Barkhatov, described Zavgaev's comments as an "open lie,"
ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Barkhatov noted that President Boris
Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin approved Lebed's actions,
charging that Zavgaev was attacking the Russian leaders when he attacked
Lebed. Barkhatov suggested that Zavgaev made his accusations to deflect
blame from himself for not being able to resolve the Chechen conflict.
-- Robert Orttung

LEBED SUBMITS PEACE PLAN. Lebed planned to give Yeltsin a peace plan for
resolving the Chechen conflict on 27 August, a day after the president
wanted it, according to the Security Council Press Service (See OMRI
Daily Digest, 16 August 1996). On the 27th, the president's office asked
Lebed to submit his plan and an account of his recent trip to the
republic in written form, after which the president would decide whether
to meet with him in person or discuss the documents over the telephone,
ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Lebed's plan reportedly rules out the
further use of military force while maintaining Chechnya as part of the
Russian Federation with special status, AFP reported. The plan envisages
a referendum to be held in five years on Chechnya's status. It is not
clear whether the Chechen armed forces would be independent or merely a
part of the Russian military. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN NAMES NEW SECURITY CHIEF. Yeltsin named Anatolii Kuznetsov as
the new head of his Presidential Security Service, NTV reported on 27
August. Kuznetsov replaced Aleksandr Korzhakov, a close friend of the
president who lobbied for strong-arm policies in the president's inner
circle, including the use of force in Chechnya. Korzhakov fell in the
purge of hardliners following the first round of the presidential
election. Kuznetsov has served as Yeltsin's main personal bodyguard for
the last two years and is not expected to play a political role. --
Robert Orttung

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE SIGN ACCORDS. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Lazarenko, visiting
Moscow, have signed a number of agreements including accords on
cooperation in technological and space research, Russian TV (RTR) and
ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. The sides also discussed the question
of refining Russian oil in Ukraine and manufacturing internationally
competitive military products. Chernomyrdin noted that there was no
further progress in talks over the future of the Black Sea Fleet. But he
pointed out that Russia would like to establish a strategic partnership
with Ukraine and that a general treaty on friendship and cooperation is
likely to be signed at the next meeting of the intergovernmental
commission in October or November in Kyiv. -- Natalia Gurushina

SHAPOSHNIKOV OUT OF ARMS EXPORT COMPANY. President Yeltsin on 26 August
released Marshal Yevgenii Shaposhnikov as his representative at the
Rosvooruzheniye arms export company, ITAR-TASS reported. Shaposhnikov
was the last minister of defense of the Soviet Union and briefly led the
stillborn CIS joint armed forces. In early 1994, he was named to the
Rosvooruzheniye post but in October 1995 was also appointed to head
Russia's international air carrier Aeroflot. -- Doug Clarke

FIRST CANDIDATE REGISTERED FOR VLADIVOSTOK MAYORAL ELECTION. Konstantin
Tolstoshein, the incumbent mayor of Vladivostok, Primorskii Krai's main
city, became the first candidate officially registered for the 6 October
mayoral poll, Radio Rossii reported on 27 August. Six more hopefuls are
collecting signatures in order to register with the regional electoral
commission. However, former Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, who was dismissed in
1994 but reinstated earlier this month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 August
1996) opposes the election. He claims that since he was elected in July
1993 for a five-year term, the election should be postponed until summer
1998. Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko has filed an appeal
with the Moscow court that reinstated Cherepkov. The court must consider
the case in the first week of September. -- Anna Paretskaya

DUMA DEPUTIES WANT EMERGENCY SESSION ON NORTH. Deputies have collected
70 out of the 90 required signatures to call an emergency Duma session
devoted to the food supply situation in Russia's northern territories,
ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Only about 50% of supplies have been
shipped to the North and about 5 million people may be left without food
during the winter. The signature collection was initiated by Liberal
Democratic Party faction leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The deputies
expect the emergency session to be held by 10 September. -- Anna
Paretskaya

HEALTH MINISTER SETS PRIORITIES. New Health Minister Tatyana Dmitrieva
warned in her first press conference that the health sector is poorly
funded, and Russian medical workers may go on strike by early October if
financing is not improved, NTV reported on 27 August. She said her top
priorities would be fighting AIDS and providing good pediatric and
maternity care but indicated that the government has up to now been
unwilling to devote the necessary funding for such programs, according
to ITAR-TASS. Dmitrieva also said structural changes have been made in
the Health Ministry. For instance, while the ministry will no longer
supervise the medical industry, it has gained the authority to oversee
the state committee Goskomsanepidnadzor, whose responsibilities include
infectious disease control. -- Laura Belin

PROTESTS OVER WAGE ARREARS CONTINUE. Coal miners, physicians, teachers,
and other public sector employees went on a one-day warning strike in
Kemerovo Oblast on 26 August. The miners threatened to call for the
president to be impeached and the government disbanded if their demands
for payment of overdue salaries totaling about 530 billion rubles (about
$100 million) are ignored, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported the next day.
About 2,000 employees of the Samara airplane construction company
Aviakor held a protest rally over wage arrears on 27 August, ITAR-TASS
reported. The Aviakor workers have not been paid since February.
Meanwhile, 15 more people have joined their five colleagues who have
been on a hunger strike for a week in a Tsentralnaya pit in Perm Oblast.
The miners have not received their wages for three months, RTR reported.
-- Anna Paretskaya

FATHER THREATENS SELF-IMMOLATION TO SAVE SON FROM DRAFT. A man whose 18-
year-old son was recently arrested for draft evasion locked himself in a
car outside a courthouse in Krasnodar Krai and threatened to set himself
on fire with Molotov cocktails to save his son from military service,
ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Firefighters eventually captured the
man, who was placed in a prison cell next to his son's. Tens of
thousands of young men attempt to evade the draft every year in Russia,
and parents of unsuccessful draft dodgers occasionally have resorted to
extreme measures (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 August 1996). On the same
day, ITAR-TASS reported that a preliminary investigation into the recent
suicides of two sailors on a ship in the Arctic Sea attributed one to
brutal hazing from fellow sailors. -- Laura Belin

SERIAL KILLER STRIKES AGAIN IN PERM. A woman was raped and murdered in
an elevator shaft in the same Perm neighborhood where six other women
have been attacked in recent months, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August.
Police believe that one person is responsible for all the crimes, but
the only suspect arrested so far was not recognized by victims who
survived the attacks. -- Laura Belin

MINISTER OF NATURAL RESOURCES DEFINES TASKS. Viktor Orlov, who heads the
newly-created Ministry of Natural Resources, said on 27 August that his
ministry will coordinate all departments devoted to the use of natural
resources and reconcile sometimes contradictory laws concerning the
sector, Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. Orlov previously headed
the state committee on geology and natural resources. (The last
government included a Ministry on Natural Resources and Protecting the
Environment; now a separate state committee will oversee environmental
issues.) Orlov hopes to attract tens of millions of dollars in new
investment, while using production-sharing agreements to retain some
state control over the private capital involved in the export of natural
resources, the paper said. This policy may put him in conflict with
Sergei Glazev, deputy secretary of the Security Council, who has said he
will review all production-sharing agreements. Moreover, the Duma has
hitherto refused to make changes in legislation necessary to facilitate
such agreements. -- Laura Belin

GAZPROM-BOTAS DEAL. Turkey's state-owned pipeline concern, Botas,
announced it had reached a deal with Gazprom to significantly increase
the amount of natural gas it buys from Russia via an existing and
projected pipeline, AFP reported on 27 August. The tender for a new
'eastern' pipeline, with an estimated price tag of $1.1 billion, will be
opened after Ankara and Moscow formally seal the deal in September.
Construction of the 1,160 km-long pipeline is expected to begin in 1997
and will carry an estimated 14 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey via
Georgia by 2010. At present Turkey buys 6 billion cubic meters of gas
from Russia via a 'western' pipeline passing through Ukraine, Romania,
and Bulgaria. This amount is to be increased to 16 billion cubic meters
by 2010. -- Lowell Bezanis

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

SHEVARDNADZE, CHIBIROV MEET. Meeting in Vladikavkaz on 27 August,
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the speaker of the parliament
of the autonomous region of South Ossetia, Ludvig Chibirov, again
reaffirmed their determination to resolve the issue of South Ossetia's
relations with Tbilisi, ITAR-TASS reported. Specifically, they agreed on
restoring economic cooperation which was halted after the conflict over
South Ossetia's status in 1990-91. The meeting had been jeopardized by
an interview given by Chibirov to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 7 August in
which he expressed confidence that "some day" South Ossetia would unite
with the Republic of North Ossetiya-Alania, which is a subject of the
Russian Federation. -- Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER IN TEHRAN. Hasan Hasanov, in Tehran on a
two-day official visit, assured President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
on 27 August that Azerbaijan wishes to improve its relations with Iran,
which have been clouded by the recent arrests of Azerbaijani religious
activists accused of links with Iranian intelligence, Reuters reported.
Hasanov also met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Velayati, and
discussed an upcoming meeting of foreign ministers of Caspian littoral
states which is to propose a new ruling on the division of the Caspian.
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri expressed his anger at
negative Azerbaijani media coverage of Iran, according to AFP, quoting
IRNA. -- Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJAN CREATES ANTI-NARCOTICS COMMISSION. Deputy Prime Minister
Iziat Orudzhev has been named to head a state commission on fighting
drug abuse and trafficking, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. The
commission was established just before a conference was convened in
Baku, attended by senior UN International Drug Control Program (UNDCP)
officials, devoted to these same issues. Azerbaijani officials
participating in the 27 August conference pointed to skyrocketing
figures for drug-related crimes, the cultivation of narcotic plants, and
drug seizures in the country. President Heidar Aliev told the conference
that the fight against the spread of drug addiction is one of the
country's priorities; the UNDCP will reportedly provide Baku with
$500,000 to help in the fight. -- Lowell Bezanis

KILLERS OF TAJIK JOURNALIST RECEIVE DEATH SENTENCE. Abdunabi Boronov and
Nurali Janjolov were sentenced to death on 21 August by Tajikistan's
Supreme Court, according to the Tajik opposition's Radio Voice of Free
Tajikistan monitored by the BBC. The two men were found guilty of
killing Tajik journalist and member of parliament Zayniddin Muhiddinov
on 13 February 1995, the day after the second round of elections to the
Tajik parliament. Blame for Muhiddinov's murder was attributed to the
Tajik opposition which boycotted the elections; however, according to
the radio broadcast, the two killers were members of the paramilitary
Popular Front, which was formed during the Tajik civil war and helped
bring the neo-communist government to power in 1992. It is the first
time in four years that someone has been convicted for killing a
journalist. A total of 40 journalists have been murdered in that time.
-- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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