He who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mind, receives light without darkening me. - Thomas Jefferson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 168, Part I, 29 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

RUSSIAN, CHECHEN FORCES PULL OUT OF GROZNY. The demilitarization of
Chechnya got underway in earnest on 28 August, with 2,000 Chechen
fighters and 3,900 Russian army and Interior Ministry troops withdrawing
from Grozny and a further 4,200 Russian troops from southern Chechnya,
Reuters and AFP reported. Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov ordered
his men to locate and return to the Russian federal command a truckload
of 40 Grad missiles hijacked near the village of Vedeno on 27 August,
according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 28 August, meeting in the village of
Noviye Atagi, Maskhadov and the commander of the Russian federal forces,
Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, reached agreement on the unconditional
release by both sides of all detained persons, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported. -- Liz Fuller

IS A NEW POWER STRUGGLE IN THE MAKING? Tikhomirov expressed concern,
however, over what he termed attempts by the Chechen opposition to
establish alternative organs of executive power in various regions,
including Grozny, where a nephew of deceased President Dzhokhar Dudaev
has reportedly been installed as city mayor, according to Reuters and
ITAR-TASS. Aleksandr Barkhatov, spokesman for Russian Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, similarly told ITAR-TASS on 28 August that
the agreement between Lebed and Maskhadov excludes the creation of
parallel organs of power in Grozny. Speaking in Moscow, a spokesman for
pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev fueled the latter's argument that
the Russian troop withdrawal from Chechnya will lead to civil war by
claiming that 2,000 of Zavgaev's supporters are preparing for armed
resistance, AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller

LEBED WAITING FOR YELTSIN REACTION TO CHECHNYA PLAN. Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed is waiting for President Boris Yeltsin's
approval so that he can return to Chechnya at the end of the week to
continue his talks with Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov. Lebed
spokesman Aleksandr Barkhatov indicated Lebed's impatience by noting
that "a dangerous situation is emerging, when military accords are being
made, but the cor-responding political basis for their successful
implementation is lacking," ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Yeltsin is
studying Lebed's peace proposals, but currently has no plans to meet
with him, according to presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii. The
media have expressed growing concern that Yeltsin's failure to meet with
Lebed is hindering the peace process. Meanwhile, German Chancellor
Helmut Kohl spoke with Yeltsin by phone on 28 August and arranged to
visit him at his vacation home on 7 September. -- Robert Orttung

KREMLIN INFIGHTING HINDERS YELTSIN DECISION. The uncertain balance of
forces in the Kremlin and attempts to remove Lebed from power are the
main reasons Yeltsin has not responded to Lebed's plan, Izvestiya
reported on 29 August. Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev's charge
that Yeltsin shares his hatred of Lebed has not been denied by the
presidential press service, the paper noted. If Lebed is able to end the
war he will clearly be the favorite in the next presidential election,
making Kremlin insiders nervous. If he fails, he will lose much of his
credibility with voters. Of Lebed's main competitors for Kremlin
influence, no one has stepped into open confrontation with him. Chief of
Staff Anatolii Chubais, now on vacation, recommended that Yeltsin sign
the decree giving Lebed wide powers, while Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin has cautiously praised his efforts, NTV reported. -- Robert
Orttung

SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: DISINFORMATION CIRCULATED TO MEDIA. "Certain
political forces" in Moscow who oppose Lebed's peace plan for Chechnya
are circulating false statements to the media in the name of the
Security Council's press service, according to council spokesman
Aleksandr Barkhatov. By way of example, he characterized as "distorted"
reports about why a planned meeting between Lebed and President Yeltsin
has been delayed, Kommersant-Daily reported on 29 August. Barkhatov said
those behind the false reports were trying to "drive a wedge" between
Lebed and the country's top leadership. -- Laura Belin

TROOPS CHARGED AFTER ABANDONING GROZNY BUILDING. Criminal proceedings
have been launched against a unit of Interior Troops which abandoned the
guarding of an important military center in Grozny, ITAR-TASS reported
on 28 August. Military sources were quoted as saying the building, site
of the Chief Directorate of Allied Staffs, containing 20 billion rubles-
worth of equipment including computers, mobile and satellite
communications, and "a huge store of munitions." They said that the
building was a "real fortress" which could not have been seized by the
rebels. -- Doug Clarke

POLL SHOWS ONE-THIRD OF YELTSIN VOTERS INDIFFERENT TO HIS VICTORY.
According to a recent survey by the Public Opinion Foundation, 32% of
those who voted for Boris Yeltsin in the presidential election described
themselves as "indifferent" to his victory, while 67% were pleased and
1% were unhappy with the election result, Kommersant-Daily reported on
29 August. The poll indicates that many Russians voted for Yeltsin
solely not to allow a Communist back into power, and could also reflect
discontent with broken campaign promises, such as the pledge to end the
fighting in Chechnya. On the other side of the divide, 25% of those who
voted for Gennadii Zyuganov said they were indifferent to his loss,
while 73% were unhappy and 2% were pleased with the election result.
Among all respondents, 35% expected their lives to improve after the
election and roughly the same number expected no change. -- Laura Belin

DAGESTANIS CALL FOR GOVERNMENT RESIGNATION. Leaders of the Public
Headquarters, a civic organization set up to investigate the Dagestani
finance minister's murder, have called on the republican government to
resign, Kommersant-Daily reported on 29 August. They claimed that the
government condones criminals and demanded that all of the more than 20
terrorist acts carried out in recent years be investigated. The
Headquarters' leadership announced that signatures are being collected
to convene an emergency session of the republican legislature to
consider a vote of no-confidence in the government. Finance Minister
Gamid Gamidov was killed on 20 August when a bomb exploded in front of
the government building. The Headquarters' leaders suggested that
Gamidov was murdered because he was investigating embezzlement of public
funds in the republic. -- Anna Paretskaya

GREENPEACE PROTEST AT LAKE BAIKAL. Activists of the international
environmental organization Greenpeace climbed two 80-meter high chimneys
at the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill to fly banners declaring "Stop" and
"Save Lake Baikal," Russian and Western media reported on 28 August. The
environmentalists are demanding that the mill stop processing cellulose
and pay its large pollution fines. The mill, built 30 years ago,
produces 440 tons of cellulose a day and dumps 210,000 cubic meters of
waste water into the world's biggest and deepest lake. The mill failed
to comply with a government order to redirect its activity by the end of
1995 since, as its management claims, the mill provides employment for
the majority of the population of the city of Baikalsk. Earlier this
year, U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin discussed protecting the lake from industrial pollution. --
Anna Paretskaya

HUMAN ERROR RESPONSIBLE FOR KAMCHATKA PLANE CRASH. An investigation has
concluded that mistakes made both by pilots and air traffic controllers
caused a Krasnoyarsk Airline plane to crash in Kamchatka on 5 April,
killing 19 people. Incorrect coordinates entered into the plane's
computer caused it to veer off course, so that the pilots began their
descent too early, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. In addition, the
pilots, who were not experienced in flying over mountainous Kamchatka,
ignored three warning signals that they had descended below a safe
altitude. ORT noted that plane crashes in Russia caused 245 deaths in
1995 and 68 deaths during the first half of 1996. -- Laura Belin

LAES WORKERS SUSPEND PROTESTS. Workers at the Leningrad nuclear power
plant (LAES) have suspended protests over wage arrears after the Atomic
Energy Ministry allotted 10 billion rubles (about $2 million) for the
plant, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. LAES workers started the protest
on 26 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 August 1996). According to the
agreement between the Atomic Energy Ministry and plant employees, the
ministry has to earmark a further 5 billion rubles to finish paying off
workers' four-month wage arrears. LAES trade union leader Aleksandr
Barantsov said that the protests will be suspended until 3 September,
when employees will consider an anti-crisis plan drawn up by the LAES
administration and decide on further action. -- Anna Paretskaya

NEW BOOK ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. A collection of articles on the
hitherto taboo topic of domestic violence and rape was launched at a
press conference in Moscow on 28 August. The book, "Who Defends Women,"
was compiled by members of the Association of Women Journalists and
funded by the group Rule of Law in Russia. Editor Nadezhda Azhgikhina
said that it is the first book of its kind. There are some 14,000 rapes
registered in Russia each year, but sociologists estimate that more than
9 out of 10 cases of sexual assault go unreported. -- Peter Rutland in
Moscow

DEBATE ABOUT PRODUCTION-SHARING AGREEMENTS INTENSIFY. A suggestion by
Sergei Glazev, deputy secretary of the Security Council in charge of
economic affairs, to cut the number of mineral deposits eligible for
development on the basis of production-sharing agreements from 250 to
10-15, has intensified debate on this issue. Industry officials and
regional authorities argue that production-sharing agreements will
stimulate the development of domestic industry (some 70% of equipment
and spare parts are expected to be produced locally) and bring
additional revenue to local budgets, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 29
August. According to Natural Resources Minister Viktor Orlov, such
agreements do not threaten Russia's national interests. Until now, of
10,500 licenses for the development of mineral deposits, only 200 were
given to joint ventures and four to foreign firms, ITAR-TASS reported on
28 August. Still, Orlov noted that there will be further cuts in the
list of potential production-sharing projects, and only 10-30
production-sharing licenses will be granted annually. -- Natalia
Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

DIVERGING VIEWS ON REPATRIATION TO ABKHAZIA. On 28 August Russia's
representative to the UN, Sergei Lavrov, reported to the Security
Council on last week's tour of Abkhazia by UN, Abkhaz, Georgian and
Russian representatives, including Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister
Boris Pastukhov, ITAR-TASS reported. Lavrov echoed Pastukhov's positive
assessment, given to Georgian and Russian media on 24 August, of the
situation in Gali raion, the predominantly Georgian population of which
was forced to flee in 1992-93. Pastukhov estimated that over 50% of the
ethnic Georgian residents of Gali have returned home; the Abkhaz
government puts the figure at 60%, while the Georgian government in
Tbilisi claims no more than 33% have returned, according to the Iprinda
news agency. Georgian First Deputy Minister of State Security Avtandil
Ioseliani told ITAR-TASS that there are no mechanisms either to
guarantee the repatriants' safety or to enable them to earn a
livelihood. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA TO EXTEND NEW LOAN TO ARMENIA. Under the terms of an agreement
signed last week in Moscow by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister
Aleksei Bolshakov and Armenia's Minister for Relations with the CIS,
Gagik Shahbazyan, Russia will provide Armenia with a 100 billion ruble
($20 million) loan to finance safety procedures at the Medzamor nuclear
power station and the purchase of nuclear fuel, according to Noyan Tapan
on 27 August and Nezavisimaya gazeta on 28 August. In 1994, Russia
provided Armenia with a 60 billion ruble credit towards the cost of
restarting the power station, which was closed in 1989. It was
successfully reopened a year ago, but maintenance work scheduled for
July 1996 was postponed because of lack of funds. -- Liz Fuller

WHO CONTROLS WHAT IN TAJIKISTAN? Military sources in Dushanbe claim
government troops in central Tajikistan have consolidated and expanded
their positions, freeing a stretch of road northwest of the town of
Tavil-Dara, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Government forces retook
Tavil-Dara on 23 August but sources in Dushanbe say the town is deserted
after three months of fighting in the area. The opposition's Radio Voice
of Free Tajikistan reported on 28 August that opposition fighters hold
the northern road from Faizabad, 70 kilometers east of Dushanbe, to
Jirgatal, 80 kilometers from the Kyrgyz border. The report admitted that
opposition fighters held the road only "partially" during the daytime
but "completely at night." The report also claimed government forces
could only reach the Tavil-Dara area via a southern route through Kulyab
and the Karnak Pass. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK DISSIDENT RETURNS TO TASHKENT. Human rights campaigner Abdulmanop
Pulatov returned to Tashkent last week, AFP reported on 28 August.
Pulatov, who has been living in Washington, D.C., since 1993, returned
following the visit of Uzbek President Islam Karimov to the United
States in June. According to Pulatov, Karimov "personally guaranteed"
his safety and assured him he could continue his political activities in
Uzbekistan. The softening of Karimov's line comes at a time when
Uzbekistan is trying to improve relations with the U.S. -- Lowell
Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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