Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 170, Part I, 3 September 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, GULDIMANN SIGN AGREEMENT ENDING WAR IN CHECHNYA . . .
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan
Maskhadov, and OSCE mission head Tim Guldimann on 31 August signed a
three-page agreement on ending the war in Chechnya after eight hours of
talks in Khasavyurt, Dagestan, Western agencies reported. They also
agreed on the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and postponing
any decision on Chechnya's independence until 31 December 2001. The
agreement failed to define how Chechnya's future status would be
decided, or who would govern the region until then, AFP reported. A
joint commission will be created by 1 October to monitor the Russian
troop withdrawal and coordinate measures to prevent criminal and
terrorist activities, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller

. . . BUT WILL THE BLOODSHED REALLY STOP? The last remaining Russian
troops withdrew from Grozny on 31 August, AFP reported. On 2 September,
however, Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov told NTV that only the
federal forces that had been temporarily deployed in Chechnya will be
withdrawn, while some units of the North Caucasus Military District will
be permanently stationed in Chechnya. The commander of Russian Interior
Ministry forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, told Russian TV
(RTR) on 2 September that he has not seen the Lebed-Maskhadov peace
agreement, and very much doubts that it marks a definitive end to the
war. Shkirko also claimed that not all Chechen forces had withdrawn from
Grozny, ITAR-TASS reported. A spokesman for pro-Moscow Chechen head of
state Doku Zavgaev, described the agreement as "a large-scale
provocation." -- Liz Fuller

KREMLIN REVEALS LITTLE ON YELTSIN'S HEALTH. President Boris Yeltsin has
just completed a full physical examination and finished a "course of
preventive procedures," ITAR-TASS reported on 2 September, citing a
source in the Kremlin who did not provide any further details. Yeltsin
feels good, the source claimed, and will continue resting without seeing
any visitors. Meanwhile, Russia has asked South African President Nelson
Mandela to postpone his planned 18-22 September visit indefinitely
without giving any reason. Mandela postponed a visit in late 1995 when
the fighting in Chechnya intensified. A 7 September meeting with German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl has not been canceled. -- Robert Orttung

LEADERSHIP DIVIDED OVER LEBED'S PEACE. Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 2
September to discuss the agreement on political principles that he
signed with Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 30 August, Russian
media reported. Chernomyrdin subsequently met with President Yeltsin at
his vacation home in Zavidovo 100 km outside Moscow. Lebed told NTV on 2
September that he was unable to reach Yeltsin by telephone. As of 2
September, Yeltsin had not made public his attitude toward the peace
plan. After an initially cool response to the plan, Chernomyrdin came
out in support of it. Defense Minister Rodionov also came out in support
of the plan, NTV reported on 2 September. Yeltsin's chief of staff,
Anatolii Chubais, said he is concerned that the peace may have been
bought at too high a price, ORT reported. Chubais said that "the unity
of Russia" cannot be violated "under any circumstances, at any price."
-- Peter Rutland in Moscow

LEADING OPPOSITION MOVEMENT CRITICIZES LEBED ON CHECHNYA. Security
Council Secretary Lebed's negotiations with Chechen rebels "pose a
direct threat to the national security, territorial integrity, and
sovereignty of the Russian Federation," according to a statement
released by the leadership of Gennadii Zyuganov's Popular-Patriotic
Union of Russia. The statement, published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 31
August, also attacked President Yeltsin's previous policy on Chechnya.
Instead, it proposed establishing peace, law, and order in Chechnya
"within the framework of the existing constitution," and then granting
Chechnya special status within the Russian Federation. It did not
specify how these tasks were to be accomplished; repeated military
efforts to disarm Chechen rebels have failed. Some political parties
otherwise opposed to the government, including Yabloko, have supported
Lebed's efforts in Chechnya. Surprisingly, in recent weeks no opposition
parties have called for a special session of parliament to discuss the
Chechen crisis. -- Laura Belin

SARATOV GOVERNOR DEFEATS COMMUNIST CHALLENGER. Dmitrii Ayatskov won 80%
of the vote in the Saratov gubernatorial election on 1 September,
convincingly defeating the Communist Party candidate, businessman
Anatolii Gordeev, who won 16%, NTV reported on 2 September. Ayatskov, a
45-year-old agronomist, was appointed to his post by President Yeltsin
in April 1996. He campaigned as a non-partisan economic professional
who, in the style of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, is able to manage his
region effectively. Ayatskov supported Yeltsin in the recent
presidential election. Since his appointment, Ayatskov has fired the
majority of the region's district administrators, and directly
intervened in farm and factory management to ensure that the harvest was
brought in and wages were paid. Speaking on NTV, Ayatskov said he won
85% of the rural vote and 77% of the urban vote. -- Peter Rutland in
Moscow

NTV LAUNCHES FIRST SATELLITE CHANNEL. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin took
part in the opening of the first of five planned "NTV-plus" satellite
channels in Nizhnii Novgorod, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 September. The
channel, which will be available in most of European Russia, will show
four Russian films every night beginning at 6:30 p.m. By the end of the
year, NTV will launch additional satellite channels for foreign-made
films, sports, news, and music, Kommersant-Daily reported on 31 August.
Individual subscribers will have to pay $145 for the equipment to
receive the special channels and then $10 per month for the
transmissions. The capital needed to launch these channels was raised in
June, when the gas monopoly Gazprom bought a 30% share in NTV (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 10 June 1996). -- Laura Belin

RUSSIAN REACTION TO U.S. PUNITIVE STRIKE AGAINST IRAQ. Moscow has voiced
"mounting concern" over the situation in Iraq following a U.S. cruise
missile attack on military targets in and around Baghdad as well as in
southern Iraq, AFP reported on 3 August. The agency, citing an unnamed
Russian Foreign Ministry official, said the attack could lead to "an
uncontrollable situation," adding that "everything now depends on what
the Americans do next." The day before, the Russian Foreign Ministry
said it supports a negotiated settlement between Baghdad and the Kurds
"based on ensuring the right of the Kurds to autonomy within a united
state." -- Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIAN ENVIRONMENTALIST DECLARED PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE. Amnesty
International has designated Aleksandr Nikitin, a retired navy officer
being held in prison for revealing Russian state secrets, a prisoner of
conscience, Russian and Western media reported on 30 August. Nikitin was
arrested in February while collecting information on the nuclear
security of the Russian Northern Fleet for a report by the Norwegian
environmental group Bellona. Nikitin, who has yet to be put on trial,
says the information he was gathering was openly available. He could
face the death penalty if convicted of treason. -- Anna Paretskaya

COMMERCIAL CENTERS TO CLOSE. The Foreign Economic Relations Ministry has
decided to close down 35 of its commercial centers in foreign capitals,
Izvestiya reported on 31 August. That would bring the number of existing
centers to 47, down from 130 five years ago. The move will save $20
million in annual operating costs and free up $500 million worth of
property, but 500 staff will be fired or relocated. Eventually,
commercial centers will only be kept in the "big seven" industrial
powers, and in China, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, and Libya. Commercial
functions will be taken over by the regular embassy. This step is part
of a general campaign to strengthen the coordinating role of the Foreign
Ministry. In other news, Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg
Davydov announced that his ministry has taken over the functions of the
Russian State Committee on Military-Technical Policy, ITAR-TASS reported
on 30 August. -- Peter Rutland in Moscow and Doug Clarke

PROBLEMS AT AVIASTAR. Several thousand employees of Aviastar, Russia's
largest commercial aircraft producer, blocked streets in Ulyanovsk on 2
September to protest wage arrears and the lack of work, NTV reported.
Aviastar has not paid its employees since April and the company put its
workforce on administrative leave at the end of August. The plant, which
makes the Tupolev 204 and the Antonov 124 military transport plane, is
in a financial crisis. Demand for the An-124 has fallen sharply, and the
plant lacks the necessary capital to increase the production of Tu-204s.
The oblast's governor has appealed to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin for
help, and workers are preparing to send a petition to President Yeltsin.
In mid-September, the government is due to announce its decision on
providing financial guarantees for a deal involving the sale of 30 Tu-
204s to an Egyptian firm, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 August. -- Penny
Morvant

PENSION ARREARS RISE AGAIN. Despite President Yeltsin's pre-election
efforts to clear the backlog in pensions, pension arrears rose from 3
trillion rubles on 1 June to 7.3 trillion rubles ($1.4 billion) on 1
August, according to the head of the Pension Fund, Vasilii Barchuk,
writing in Izvestiya on 31 August. In most regions of Russia pensions
are being paid with a 2-4 week delay. The Pension Fund in turn is owed 8
trillion rubles from the federal budget. The minimum pension for the
second half of 1996 has been set at 220,000 rubles and the average
pension will be 374,000 rubles ($70), compared with the current average
wage of 790,000 rubles. -- Peter Rutland in Moscow

INFLATION HITS ZERO. The State Statistical Committee has announced that
the rate of inflation in August was close to zero, the lowest level
since the beginning of economic reform, AFP reported on 3 September. In
the last two weeks of August, Russia recorded the first incidence of
deflation as consumer price inflation fell by 0.1% and 0.2%,
respectively. This latest achievement should make it possible for the
government to keep the annual inflation rate below 30%, down from 131%
in 1995. At the same time, there is growing concern that the government
is focusing too intensely on monetary stabilization and neglecting other
areas of the economy. -- Natalia Gurushina

IMF REVISES 1996 BUDGET DEFICIT FIGURE. After a review of Russia's
economic performance last month, the IMF agreed to move up its target
figure for Russia's 1996 budget deficit from 4% to 5.25%, Reuters
reported on 29 August. The step is a reaction to the need to make an
adjustment to the repayment of outstanding state short-term securities
(T-bills) issued on the eve of the presidential election, when yields
were soaring to as high as 155% annually. The IMF has delayed the
disbursement of July's tranche of the $10.1 billion extended facility
fund for one month, citing poor tax collection practices. The tranche
was released in August after the Russian government adopted a package of
30 measures designed to boost revenue collection. Despite the IMF's
decision to loosen the budget deficit target, the fund's conditions on
Russia's revenue collection remain unchanged. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

IRREDENTIST CAMPAIGN AMONG AZERIS IN IRAN. Tens of thousands of ethnic
Azeris in Iran have signed a petition calling on their deputies in the
Iranian parliament to introduce legislation demanding the "return" to
Iran of 17 cities in the Caucasus, including Baku, the capital of
Azerbaijan, AFP reported on 31 August, quoting the Iranian daily
newspaper Abrar. The petition calls on the leadership of Azerbaijan to
"be courageous and recognize historical facts" and accede to these
demands. -- Liz Fuller

GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER PROPOSES REPLACING OSSETIAN PEACEKEEPERS.
Meeting in Tbilisi with the deputy head of the OSCE mission in Georgia,
Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze proposed disbanding the
joint Georgian-Russian-Osetian peacekeeping force deployed in Tskhinvali
since 1992 and replacing it with a group of Russian and Georgian
military observers, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. -- Liz Fuller

MORE SACKINGS IN TURKMENISTAN. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov has
sacked Supreme Court Chairman Amanmurad Kakabayev and Deputy Interior
Minister Amangeldy Geldykurbanov, Reuters reported on 29 August. The two
were dismissed for "failing in his responsibilities" and "serious
shortcomings," repectively, according to the agency. A 28 August Turkmen
Radio report monitored by the BBC reported that Geldykurbanov, who was
also the head of Turkmenistan's Higher Militia School, was demoted and
expelled from all Interior Ministry bodies. He was replaced at the
school by Gurbanmukhammet Kasymov. No replacement for Kakabayev has been
announced. Niyazov deplored "an epidemic of corruption which has touched
all levels in the justice authorities," Reuters reported, citing
Neitralny Turkmenistan. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING
1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU
2) To subscribe, write:
     SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name)
   To unsubscribe, write:
     UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L
3) Send the message

                                  REPRINT POLICY
To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ
or see the Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html

                              OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS

TRANSITION
OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded
analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For subscription
information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit the Transition
Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Transition/TransitionInfo.html


ECONOMIC DIGEST
The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic
news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription
available; for more information, write to ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the
Economic Digest Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Econ/Info.html


OMRI RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT
The OMRI Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication initially
focusing on the local elections taking place throughout Russia during
the Fall of 1996. After the election season is over, the Russian
Regional Report will continue, turning to broader social, political and
economic issues of Russia's regions. To subscribe, please follow these
instructions: 1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE REGIONS YourName
Fill in your own name where shown
3) Send the message


RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE OMRI DAILY DIGEST
The full text of the OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and
distributed the
following day.
1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@ISF.RU
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE OMRI
3) Send the message

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole