I dream my painting, and then I paint my dreams. - Vincent van Gogh
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 173, Part I, 6 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

YELTSIN WILL UNDERGO HEART SURGERY. President Boris Yeltsin 5 September
announced in a televised interview that he will undergo heart surgery in
Moscow's Cardiological Center at the end of the month. Yeltsin said that
the doctors had offered him two options: either perform only non-
strenuous work or have an operation that would allow him to play a more
active role, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Yeltsin did not specify
his exact illness or the procedure required to correct it, but doctors
believe he is suffering from myocardial ischemia and faces coronary
bypass surgery, the Los Angeles Times reported. Ekho Moskvy commented
that it was the first time in the history of the country that a leader
had made such a straightforward announcement about his health. -- Robert
Orttung

LEBED, CHECHENS AGREE ON COALITION GOVERNMENT. Meeting in Noviye Atagi
on 5 September, Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and
Chechen opposition representatives agreed on the creation of a new
Chechen coalition government that would include two ministers from the
present pro-Moscow government, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev consented to this during talks
with Lebed and the head of the presidential staff Anatolii Chubais on 4
September, according to Radio Rossii. However, Zavgaev declined to
accept Chubais's proposal that he voluntarily resign. Zavgaev is also
suing Izvestiya for slander, according to Ekho Moskvy. Lebed and Chechen
Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov subsequently addressed a public meeting
in the town of Shali at which Lebed called on the population to support
the peace process and Maskhadov pledged that no Zavgaev supporters would
be harassed or killed, according to ITAR-TASS. Lebed also announced that
Russian forces would begin pulling out of Chechnya on 8 September
following an exchange of prisoners of war. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN BACKS LEBED EXCEPT ON QUESTION OF TROOP PULLOUT. In his first
public comments on Lebed's activities, Yeltsin said that he supports the
actions of his Security Council secretary, except for the quick
withdrawal of troops from Chechnya. Yeltsin gave his approval for Lebed
to continue his efforts, AFP reported. The 31 August accords call on the
Russian troops to make a partial withdrawal from the republic. The
Chechen rebels insist that all Russian troops must leave their territory
before there can be peace. -- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN DISCOUNTS LEBED AGREEMENTS. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin said that the agreements Security Council Secretary Lebed
signed with the Chechen separatists are "political documents" and do not
have "juridical standing," ITAR-TASS reported 5 September. He noted that
the federal authorities had not yet prepared a complete statement on the
political issues in Chechnya and had not decided who should sign it from
the Chechen side. Chernomyrdin claimed that there is no cause for
"euphoria" since this is the third cease-fire since the war began. --
Robert Orttung

YELTSIN, LEBED CONDEMN U.S. STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ . . . President Yeltsin
confirmed in a 5 September interview on Russian TV (RTR) that he fully
agrees with official statements released by the Russian government
condemning the U.S. missile strikes against targets in southern Iraq.
The same day, Security Council Secretary Lebed joined the chorus of
Russian voices denouncing the U.S. action, saying the U.S. is acting
like a "bull in a china shop," Reuters reported. However, the crisis
appears unlikely to have long-term consequences for U.S.-Russian
relations. First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Russia
will oppose a British-sponsored UN resolution supporting the strikes
against Iraq but stressed that Moscow does not want the crisis to "mar
bilateral relations" between Russia and the U.S., ITAR-TASS reported. --
Laura Belin

. . . AS ZHIRINOVSKY CALLS CLINTON WORLD'S "WORST POLITICAL HOOLIGAN". .
. Denouncing the U.S. unilateral action against Iraq, Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky called U.S. President Bill
Clinton the "worst political hooligan on the planet" and "worse than
Hitler," Russian media reported on 5 September. Zhirinovsky has had a
longstanding friendly relationship with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
and most recently visited Baghdad in August. On the same day,
Zhirinovsky praised Lebed's efforts to make peace in Chechnya, which he
said has "helped save the lives of many Russian soldiers," but he also
questioned the legality of the peace accords signed with the Chechen
forces, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin

. . . BUT KURDISH GROUP PRAISES U.S. ACTION. While nearly all Russian
politicians have denounced the U.S. action, representatives of the
International Union of Kurdish Organizations held a Moscow press
conference to praise the U.S. for defending the Kurds, ITAR-TASS
reported on 5 September. A member of the Kurdish parliament in exile,
Broi Rostam, said the military strikes on Iraq were justified but added
that the Kurdish problem should be solved within the region by peaceful
means. -- Laura Belin

PRIMORE UPDATE. In response to the latest hunger strike by power workers
at Luchegorsk and the mounting energy crisis in Primore, the krai's
administration has instructed the local power company Dalenergo to sell
securities, cars, and property worth 102 billion rubles ($19 million)
within a week, NTV reported on 5 September. The proceeds are to be used
to pay workers' wages and prepare the power sector for winter. According
to Dalenergo, some homes in Vladivostok have been without power for as
long as 20 hours a day, a situation that prompted some of the city's
residents to block a major thoroughfare in protest. About 100 workers at
the Primorskii power station are now on hunger strike, and nine workers
at the Artem power station have announced their intention to join their
colleagues. Following July's energy crisis in Primore, President Yeltsin
gave krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko until 15 September to restore
order in the region's fuel and energy sector. -- Penny Morvant

NUCLEAR POWER WORKERS PROTEST. More than 100 workers from nine of
Russia's 11 atomic power stations picketed the headquarters of
Rosenergoatom and the Integrated Energy System company on 5 September to
demand the payment of back wages, ITAR-TASS reported. As is the case
with other power producers in Russia, the atomic power stations are owed
considerable sums by customers. As a temporary measure in response to
the payments crisis, the power plants have been accepting payment in
kind although they need money to pay taxes to the federal and regional
budgets. The Leningrad nuclear power station at Sosnovy Bor, in
particular, has been dogged by workers' protests this year because of
wage arrears and worker dissatisfaction with management. -- Penny
Morvant

SOLZHENITSYN: RUSSIA LOST WAR IN CHECHNYA. Nobel prize winner Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn said that Russia has lost the 20-month war to crush an
independence uprising in Chechnya, AFP reported on 5 September. He
suggested that Russia failed to restore its rule in the tiny republic
because it is "corrupt, incapable, stupid, and indifferent."
Solzhenitsyn approved Security Council Secretary Lebed's peace plan as
"the right decision, given the total defeat [of federal forces]." He
said Chechnya should be granted independence but added that the northern
part of the republic should remain in Russia since it is largely
inhabited by ethnic Russians and Cossacks. -- Anna Paretskaya

RODIONOV TO REFUSE SALARY UNTIL HIS TROOPS ARE PAID. Defense Minister
Igor Rodionov has decided to refuse to draw his salary until the other
members of the armed forces receive their back pay, Reuters reported on
5 September. Rodionov told the daily Komsomolskaya pravda that he would
suffer alongside his men. In response to his wife's daily question about
his pay, the general said he tells her, "When the army gets paid, then
I'll get paid." In July, Russian media revealed that even the officers
of the Defense Ministry had not been paid for two months. -- Doug Clarke

TWO AIR FORCE GENERALS DIE IN CRASH. The commander of the 23rd Air Force
and his chief of staff were killed on 4 September when their Mi-8
helicopter crashed in Siberia, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. The
helicopter carrying Lt.-Gen. Dmitrii Kutsekon and Maj.-Gen. Boris Batur
was said to be "carrying out an operational task" when it went down 117
km north of Chita. Defense Minister Igor Rodionov has appointed a
special commission to investigate the accident. -- Doug Clarke

CENTRAL BANK RELEASES DATA ON RUSSIAN INVESTMENTS ABROAD. The Central
Bank granted 165 licenses to Russian residents for direct and portfolio
hard currency investments abroad from March 1993 to March 1996, ITAR-
TASS reported on 5 September. Actual licensed investment over this
period totaled $416 million. The cumulative volume of hard-currency
investments increased from $63 million in 1993 to $278 million in 1994
and $365 million in 1995. The largest projects cleared for exporting
capital were carried out by LUKoil ($126 million), Gazprom ($108.2
million), and Surgutneftegaz ($86.6 million). The main countries hosting
Russian capital are Germany (accounting for 21 of the licenses issued by
the Central Bank for a total of $295 million), the U.S. ($166 million),
and the U.K. ($77 million). It should be noted, however, that there is a
considerable amount of Russian investment abroad that is not recorded
officially. -- Penny Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MUTALIBOV SUPPORTERS SENTENCED. The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan has
sentenced Adyl Gadzhiev, a close associate of former Azerbaijani
President Ayaz Mutalibov, and Kenan Gyurel, an Austrian citizen of
Turkish origin, to 14- and 15-year prison sentences for taking part in
the alleged March 1995 coup attempt, as a result of which at least 50
people were killed, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 September. President Heidar
Aliev has often accused Mutalibov, who fled to Moscow in 1992, of trying
to assassinate him. -- Elin Suleymanov

HEAD OF ARMENIAN STATE RADIO DISMISSED. The head of Armenian State
Radio, Stepan Zakaryan, was dismissed on 2 September following a
controversial court case brought against him by Mikael Martirossyan, the
head of Yerevan Bread-Baking Plant No. 3, Noyan Tapan reported on 4
September. Armenian Radio had aired programs earlier this year accusing
Yerevan bakeries of selling loaves that were below the standard weight.
Martirossyan successfully sued Zakaryan and two of his editors for
slander, and Armenian Radio was forced to broadcast a retraction.
Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan recently commented that he
considered that both Zakaryan and Martirossyan were in the wrong and
that both should be dismissed. Martirossyan is a member of the ruling
Armenian National Movement (HHSh); Zakaryan is not. Several other radio
editors, including the two sued with Zakaryan, have tendered their
resignations. Noyan Tapan reported that "because of the tense situation
all radio programs are now being subject to pre-broadcast censorship."
-- Liz Fuller

TURKMEN-AFGHAN TALKS ON PIPELINE TO PAKISTAN. Afghan Deputy Foreign
Minister Abdurahim Ghafurzai held talks with Turkmen President
Saparmurad Niyazov in Ashgabat on the construction of a natural gas
pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan, ITAR-TASS
reported on 3 September. Ghafurzai was quoted as saying that officials
from his country, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and major European
and Russian companies would meet in the near future to set a date for
the construction to begin. He also noted that Turkmenistan plans to open
an embassy in Kabul and establish regular flights between Ashgabat and
the Afghan capital. -- Lowell Bezanis

HEROIN SEIZED IN TURKMENISTAN. Russian border guards killed two
suspected drug smugglers in the process of seizing a large amount of
drugs, including 24 kg of heroin, RFE/RL reported. It is the first
reported seizure of refined heroin on the Turkmen-Afghan border. The
first seizure of heroin in Central Asia occurred in Kyrgyzstan in
October 1995. In other news, Kazakstani authorities reported that about
70% of the 4.5 metric tons of drugs that they have confiscated since the
beginning of 1996 had been prepared from domestic cannabis grown in the
Chu Valley, which straddles the Kazak-Kyrgyz border, ITAR-TASS reported
on 5 September. According to local law enforcement officials, cannabis
is grown on 140 hectares of land in the Chu Valley and about 5-6 metric
tons of marijuana and hashish can be produced there every year. --
Lowell Bezanis

TURKISH-KAZAKSTANI MILITARY COOPERATION. Kazakstani Defense Minister
Alibek Kasymov signed a memorandum of understanding on a military
cooperation agreement with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on 4
September, RFE/RL reported the next day. Details have not been released.
-- Lowell Bezanis

CHINESE OFFICIAL: UIGHURS BACKED BY "FOREIGN FORCES." The chairman of
China's State Committee for Economic Reform, Li Tieying, on 5 September
said from Almaty that Uighur separatists active in the Xinjiang Uighur
Autonomous Province are "breaking our laws at the instigation of foreign
forces," AFP reported the next day. He also noted that a "small number
of people" are involved in the rebellion which Uighur exiles in
Kazakstan claim has resulted in the incarceration of an estimated 18,000
Uighur "separatists" in the last five months. At the invitation of
Kazakstan's Supreme Economic Council, Li has been discussing China's
experience with market reform in Almaty, ITAR-TASS reported on 3
September. AFP reported that journalists were asked by an unnamed Kazak
official to refrain from asking Li about Uighur separatism. -- Lowell
Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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