The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 174, Part I, 9 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

RUSSIAN TROOPS BEGIN LEAVING CHECHNYA. Acting Chechen President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev on 6 September declared an amnesty for all Chechens
who collaborated either with the Russian federal forces or with the pro-
Moscow government of Doku Zavgaev, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile,
Zavgaev again stated that he does not intend to resign as head of state.
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov denied reports that his men had
shot 10 of Zavgaev's supporters in the town of Shatoi on 6 September,
Radio Mayak reported on 7 September. Representatives of the Russian
Security Council Commission on Chechnya and Russian and Chechen Interior
Ministry officials met in Novye Atagi on 7-8 September to discuss
implementation of the 30 August Lebed-Maskhadov peace agreement. Chechen
Interior Minister Kazbek Makhashev rejected a Russian proposal to create
a joint Russian-Chechen police force, according to Radio Rossii. The
scheduled Russian troop withdrawal from Chechnya began on 8 September,
Russian and Western agencies reported. -- Liz Fuller

KOHL MEETS YELTSIN AT VACATION HOME. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl
visited President Yeltsin at his vacation home outside of Moscow on 7
September. Yeltsin expressed "complete satisfaction" with the talks. The
leaders agreed to "intensive negotiations at various levels" on NATO
expansion and said they hope to find a solution by the end of 1997,
ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin did not agree with Germany's support for the
recent U.S. bombing of Iraq. The Russian leader told Kohl that he
supported Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's efforts to bring
peace to Chechnya, while Kohl described the conflict as an internal
issue for Russia. On the former Yugoslavia, the leaders agreed that the
world community should exert pressure on all sides to ensure that they
fulfill their obligations. They also discussed who will control Russia's
nuclear weapons while Yeltsin is in hospital for heart surgery but
agreed not to discuss the details with the press. -- Robert Orttung

POLITICIANS WORRIED OVER WHO WILL RULE WHILE YELTSIN IS IN HOSPITAL.
Security Council Secretary Lebed on 6 September said President Yeltsin
should sign a special document allowing Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to
take charge of his office while Yeltsin is in the hospital. Article 92
of the constitution mandates that the prime minister takes charge if the
president is incapacitated, but does not specify the exact procedure. It
is unclear how long Yeltsin would be incapacitated; Presidential Chief
of Staff Anatolii Chubais said it could be "hours, days, or just a
couple of days." First Deputy Duma Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin argued that
Yeltsin should explicitly hand power to Chernomyrdin to avoid giving
"annoying people" a chance to push through their own programs during his
absence. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov called for a meeting
of ministers and parliamentary party representatives to discuss
Yeltsin's health. -- Robert Orttung

KORZHAKOV'S POLITICAL ACTIVITIES. Former top presidential bodyguard
Aleksandr Korzhakov may run for parliament in the Tula Oblast district
where Aleksandr Lebed was elected in December 1995, Radio Rossii
reported on 6 September. Lebed cannot serve both in parliament and as
Security Council secretary, and a by-election to fill his seat should be
held by the end of this year. Meanwhile, NTV reported on 8 September
that Korzhakov unexpectedly visited Primorskii Krai recently and urged
locals to support Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko in an upcoming
referendum on his rule. Some Moscow officials--in particular
presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, a longtime enemy of
Korzhakov--have blamed Nazdratenko for the ongoing energy crisis in the
krai. Citing anonymous sources in the administration, NTV suggested that
Korzhakov had refused various posts offered to him after the election
and might be trying to connect his own political future with Lebed
rather than Yeltsin. -- Laura Belin

MOSCOW PROCURATOR TAKES ACTION OVER $500,000 IN BOX INCIDENT. The Moscow
City Procurator's Office has initiated criminal proceedings against
Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev on charges of "attempted
violation of hard-currency regulations involving especially large sums,"
Obshchaya gazeta reported on 5-11 September. Lisovskii and Yevstafev,
both top Yeltsin campaign aides, were detained at the Russian White
House by the Presidential Security Service (SBP) on 19 June as they left
the building with a box reportedly containing $500,000 in cash. Chubais
and other opponents of former SBP head Aleksandr Korzhakov accused the
special services of staging a provocation aimed at derailing the
election, and Korzhakov and his allies Mikhail Barsukov and Oleg
Soskovets were fired. In the furor over the dismissals, relatively
little attention was paid to the $500,000. The 2 September issue of the
magazine Litsa printed what they claim is a transcript of the videotaped
interrogation of the two men on 19 June, with photos. -- Penny Morvant

LDPR TO APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON CHECHNYA AGREEMENT. Duma
deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
(LDPR) plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the agreement
signed on 31 August between Security Council Secretary Lebed and Chechen
Chief of Staff Maskhadov, Russian media reported on 6 September.
According to Russian TV (RTR), the deputies say the agreement leaves
three questions unanswered: on what basis was Chechnya recognized a
subject of international law, how should Russia deal with the pro-Moscow
Chechen government from now on, and whether Lebed exceeded his authority
by signing the document. On the same day, the Federation Council formed
a special commission on Chechnya, which will include all leaders of the
North Caucasus regions, the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and
representatives from standing Council committees on constitutional law,
regional policy, defense, and international affairs. -- Laura Belin

CREW WHO FIRED ON JAPANESE FISHING BOATS NAMED FOR MEDALS. The Pacific
Border District command has recommended that medals "for protecting the
state border" be awarded to the crew of a coast guard ship that fired on
two Japanese fishing boats on 26 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27
August 1996). The captains of both Japanese boats were wounded in the
incident, although ITAR-TASS reported on 8 September that their health
is now "satisfactory." On previous occasions this year, Russian coast
guards fired warning shots on boats fishing in Russian waters near the
disputed Kuril Islands but did not shoot to kill. In a similar incident
on 6 September, only warning shots were fired at the Japanese boats. --
Laura Belin

ANTI-U.S. DEMONSTRATION IN MOSCOW. About 100 people on 8 September took
part in a noisy demonstration organized by hardline opposition groups to
protest the U.S. missile attacks on Iraq, Russian and Western agencies
reported. ITAR-TASS said two demonstrators were briefly detained,
including Stanislav Terekhov, the head of the right-wing Officers'
Union. Police said they took action because the rally, held outside the
U.S. Embassy, had not been sanctioned by the authorities. Russia has
condemned the U.S. airstrikes (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3-6 September) and
expressed "deep concern" over Turkish plans to set up a "security zone"
in northern Iraq. Izvestiya on 7 September focused on the concerns of
Russian oil companies preparing to operate in Iraq and Russia's
potential economic losses resulting from the UN trade embargo. -- Penny
Morvant

LABOR DISPUTES CONTINUE AT POWER PLANTS. More than 140 workers at the
Primorskii power plant at Luchegorsk are now taking part in a hunger
strike that began a week ago in protest against delays in wage payments,
ITAR-TASS reported. Wage arrears at the power plant exceed 13 billion
rubles. In Khakassiya, 15 workers at the Sayano-Shushensk hydroelectric
power station have been on hunger strike since 3 September in an attempt
to draw attention to the desperate situation in the energy sector and at
their plant in particular. Workers at the station, which is deeply in
debt to the state and suppliers, have not received wages for five
months. Meanwhile, Yurii Vishnevskii, head of the Federal Committee for
Nuclear and Radiation Safety, warned that more accidents could occur at
nuclear power plants because of delays in wage payments, which damage
worker morale. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN RESCINDS NEW DECREE ON TAXATION. Following government
recommendations, President Yeltsin has rescinded his 18 August decree on
changes in personal income tax and insurance payments, ITAR-TASS
reported on 6 September. The decree was strongly criticized by lawyers,
businessmen, and journalists for contradicting the constitution and
existing tax legislation, for causing the double taxation of people's
wages, and for triggering a massive outflow of personal savings from
banks. Meanwhile, Radio Rossii reported that the government is planning
to introduce a 15% tax on interest accrued from personal bank deposits.
The government as also likely to increase taxes on profits from with
corporate and state securities. -- Natalia Gurushina

CHUBAIS CONCERNED ABOUT NONPAYMENT PROBLEM. Presidential Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais on 7 September described nonpay-ments as the most
serious problem in the Russian economy and asserted that tax revenues
are extremely low, ITAR-TASS reported. Nonpayments in the energy sector
are the most serious, accounting for 51% of all tax and other budget
nonpayments in 1995-96, according to Finansovye izvestiya. Federal
budget revenue for the first half of 1996 is 9.5% of GDP, while it was
13% in 1995, Segodnya reported. Chubais stressed the importance of
measures to increase tax collection and cited "ineffective work" and
ignorant leadership as one of the reasons for the problem. -- Ritsuko
Sasaki

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

THREE ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WITHDRAW. Three of the seven
registered candidates for the 22 September Armenian presidential
election withdrew on 7 September and pledged their support for former
Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan, the main challenger to incumbent Levon
Ter-Petrossyan, Reuters reported on 8 September. A further opposition
candidate, Ashot Manucharyan of the Scientific-Industrial and Civic
Union, may also withdraw, but Communist Party leader Sergei Badalyan has
said he will not. Manukyan is reportedly gathering considerable support
for his pledges to crack down on corruption and the shadow economy, to
introduce more equitable social and economic policies, and to revise the
constitution in order to curtail the powers of the president. -- Liz
Fuller

SOUTH OSSETIA TO HAVE PRESIDENT? The Georgian National Security Council
views the South Ossetian parliament's 6 September resolution to create a
presidency in South Ossetia as a serious threat to the peace process in
the region, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 September. The Georgian presidential
service stated that the resolution undermines agreements reached by
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and South Ossetian parliament
chairman Ludwig Chibirov at their 27 August meeting. According to
Chibirov, the final decision by South Ossetian parliament is expected by
13 September. On 7 September, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed
concern over the South Ossetian parliament's resolution as well. -- Elin
Suleymanov

ONE MORE VOTE PLANNED IN ABKHAZIA. Abkhazian President Vladislav
Ardzinba plans to hold a referendum in October in which residents of the
region will be asked whether they "want to live in an independent
Abkhazia or in an Abkhazia that is part of Georgia or some other
country," BGI reported. The Georgian government has already expressed
its opposition to holding a new parliamentary election (scheduled for 23
November) in Abkhazia before ethnic Georgian refugees are allowed to
return to Abkhazia. -- Elin Suleymanov

UZBEKISTAN'S HUMAN RIGHT SOCIETY HOLDS CONGRESS. Delegates to a congress
of Uzbekistan's Human Rights Society (HRS) in Tashkent on 7 September
noted that the human rights situation in Uzbekistan is "beginning to
improve," RFE/RL reported. Until virtually the last minute it was
unclear if the Uzbek authorities would permit the gathering to take
place. The fact that it did take place may be attributed to Tashkent's
efforts to burnish its tarnished human rights image and improve
relations with the U.S.. The HRS was founded in 1992 but is still not
officially registered in the country. HRS Chairman Abdulmanop Pulatov
returned recently to Tashkent after the activities of his group were
given an unofficial green light from Uzbek President Islam Karimov. --
Lowell Bezanis

TAJIK OPPOSITION SEIZES DJIR-GATAL. Rebel units led by a commander
identified only as Akhmadbek on 7 September seized the town of
Djirgatal, 280 km northeast of Dushanbe, and killed two Tajik militia
members, Russian and Western agencies reported. The operation appears to
have been staged to coincide with the republic's fifth anniversary of
independence on 9 September. The 300-400 rebels disarmed and expelled 46
Tajik militiamen to Kyrgyzstan across the border. The UN envoy in
Tajikistan, Gerd Merrem, issued a letter of protest on 8 September
urging an immediate cessation of hostilities in accordance with the
existing ceasefire agreement. -- Lowell Bezanis

TAJIK PRESIDENT SPEAKS ON ISLAM AT DIASPORA CONGRESS. Imomali Rakhmonov
told some 250 delegates from 19 countries at a congress of Tajik
diaspora that the country's opposition forces are trying to establish an
Islamic regime in Tajikistan, Russian and Western agencies reported on 7
September. At the same time, he declare that "we respect" Islam as a
"base of moral and spiritual cleanliness and source of culture," Reuters
reported. The first Tajik diaspora congress was held in 1992. -- Lowell
Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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