He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. - J.R. Tolkien
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 177, Part I, 12 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

REACTION TO CHECHEN CONGRESS. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
said that nothing was accomplished at the 10 September congress of
Chechen parties in Grozny, Kommersant-Daily reported on 12 September.
The congress merely approved the idea of forming a coalition government
without deciding who would rule the republic or control the money set
aside for reconstruction. Lebed will not return to Chechnya until the
government is named. Lebed said the main problem is deciding who will
handle the federal funds allotted for reconstruction work in the
republic since Chechen acting President Zelimkhan Yandar-biev's
government does not recognize pro-Moscow leader Doku Zavgaev while
Moscow does not recognize Yandarbiev. Lebed said he hopes to find
someone else, but there is no obvious candidate. -- Robert Orttung

CHECHENS CONTINUE TO CONCENTRATE THEIR FORCES. Che-chen separatist
forces are continuing to concentrate their forces near Grozny, NTV
reported on 11 September, citing federal forces. The sources cited two
groups of Chechens gathering near the city, one of 800 men and another
of 500. Mines remain one of the most dangerous problems in the city; one
federal soldier was injured by a mine overnight, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported. -- Robert Orttung

ZAVGAEV, KULIKOV DENOUNCE ATROCITIES IN CHECHNYA. After meeting with
Security Council Secretary Lebed on 11 September, Chechen head of state
Zavgaev described the situation in Chechnya in bloody terms, NTV
reported. He claimed that separatist Chechen forces are interning anyone
who fought against them in two concentration camps, public executions
are taking place, and few apartments have not been robbed. At the same
time, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov warned of civil war in
Chechnya, pointing out that 10 Chechens were executed on 5 September by
other Chechens "on suspicion of marauding and banditry, Moskovskie
novosti reported in its issue of 8-15 September. He also denounced the
separatists' imposition of Islamic law on the areas they control.
Kulikov warned that if Russian troops are completely withdrawn, a
campaign of terror will be unleashed against all Chechens who cooperated
with Moscow and that armed Chechens will start making incursions into
neighboring territories. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA MEMBERS REFUSE TO ATTEND COUNCIL OF EUROPE HEARINGS ON CHECHNYA. In
a joint letter to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
Vladimir Lukin said a Russian delegation will not attend the scheduled
23 September hearings on Chechnya in Strasbourg because of the council's
decision to invite Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov but not the
pro-Moscow Chechen leadership, Russian and Western agencies reported on
11 September. Lukin described the invitation of Maskhadov as "flagrant,
brazen, and unprecedented interference by the Council of Europe in
Russian internal affairs," Ekho Moskvy reported. The radio noted the
"strange coalition" of politicians who have recently spoken out in
defense of pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Zavgaev, including Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Communist Party member Seleznev, and
Lukin, a leading figure in Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko party. -- Laura
Belin

LEBED DENIES CALLING FOR YELTSIN'S RESIGNATION. Security Council
Secretary Lebed denied that he told the German journal Stern that
President Yeltsin should resign, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 11
September. Lebed's press secretary, Aleksandr Barkhatov, blamed the
problem on a bad translation of the retired general's comments.
According to AFP, Stern's journalists say they asked Lebed about
statements he had made claiming it was time for Yeltsin to step down,
and Lebed replied "Am I not right?" In another part of the interview,
Lebed used a joke from the Brezhnev era to describe the current Kremlin
administration: "Today, following a long illness and without regaining
consciousness, the secretary general resumed his functions." Lebed also
said he would run in the next presidential election. He said that Russia
needs democracy but admitted that he is "not cut out to be a
democrat...We must, first of all, restore order, and for that you cannot
always act with kid gloves." -- Robert Orttung

INCUMBENT LEADS IN LENIN-GRAD OBLAST. According to a recent opinion
poll, pro-Yeltsin Leningrad Oblast Governor Aleksandr Belyakov has the
support of 47% of oblast residents, while his closest rival, Vadim
Gustov--the chairman of the oblast soviet President Yeltsin disbanded in
1993--is polling only 15% before the 29 September election, Kommersant-
Daily reported on 12 September. Although Gustov is not a Communist, the
local branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation decided to
support him since it does not have its own candidate. Gustov has formed
an alliance with four other candidates to oppose Belyakov, Radio Rossii
reported on 10 September, citing Nikolai Smirnov, a member of the
coalition, who is running at about 10% in the polls. The group hopes to
name a single candidate by next week. -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIA OFFERS AID TO IRAQI VICTIMS OF U.S. STRIKES. A spokesman for the
Ministry for Emergency Situations said Russia will offer humanitarian
aid to victims of the recent U.S. missile strikes against Iraq this
month, AFP reported on 11 September. The official said the aid should be
delivered by the Geneva-based International Civil Defense Organization,
to which Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu has just
been elected president, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign
Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk again criticized the U.S.'s unilateral action
against Iraq, calling it a violation of international law. However, he
added that Russia's disagreement with the U.S. over Iraq "has not
undermined our cooperation as co-sponsors of the Middle East Peace
process," AFP reported, citing an interview with Posuvalyuk published in
the latest edition of Argumenty i fakty. -- Laura Belin

RUSSIA WELCOMES UN PASSAGE OF NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY. The Foreign
Ministry released a statement welcoming UN approval of a treaty to
impose a worldwide ban on nuclear tests, AFP and Reuters reported on 11
September. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov said he hoped all
UN member states would sign the treaty, which was adopted by a vote of
158-3 (Bhutan, India, and Libya voted against), with five abstentions.
Russia and the world's other four declared nuclear powers--the U.S.,
Great Britain, France, and China--have already agreed to unilaterally
end nuclear tests. -- Laura Belin

NATO COUNCIL APPROVES LIAISON OFFICE EXCHANGE WITH RUSSIA. Meeting in
Brussels, the NATO Council approved in principle a Russian suggestion
that mutual liaison bureaus be opened in Belgium, the U.S., and Russia,
ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 11 September. A 26 September meeting of
NATO defense ministers, to be attended by Russian Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov as well, will consider a specific proposal on the matter, which
would allow Russia to open liaison offices at the U.S. Atlantic Command
in Norfolk, Virginia, at the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in
Europe in Mons, Belgium, and possibly also at NATO headquarters in
Brussels. At the same time, NATO would open a liaison office in Moscow.
-- Laura Belin

NAZDRATENKO ON RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW. Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko contended in an 11 September interview with NTV that he has
fulfilled President Yeltsin's August orders giving him until 15
September to take steps to deal with the krai's energy crisis (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 14 and 15 August 1996). Nazdratenko said that, as
requested, he has fired his deputy and transferred funds to the krai's
miners. He admitted that there are problems with wage arrears but
contended that the situation in the energy sector has been
misrepresented by the mass media. He also stressed that the federal
government still owes money to the local defense industry. In a
reference to local press reports on the possible establishment of an
autonomous far eastern republic, he ruled out any talk of separatism
while he is governor. Commenting on speculation that Yeltsin will fire
Nazdratenko, Kommersant-Daily on 12 September quoted Constitutional
Court judge Vladimir Strekozov as saying he believes Yeltsin does not
have the power to dismiss a popularly elected governor. -- Penny Morvant

MILITARY INDUSTRIAL WORKERS REJECT REFERENDUM IN PRI-MORE; ENERGY SECTOR
PRO-BLEMS CONTINUE. Workers at the nuclear submarine repair plant Zvezda
have demanded that the regional referendum on confidence in Governor
Nazdratenko be called off, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 September. They
oppose the referendum, set by the krai Duma for 22 September, on
financial grounds, arguing that the 6 billion rubles needed to pay for
it should be used to repay debts. The workers have also threatened to
take protest actions on 16 September. Meanwhile, about 200 workers are
still on hunger strike at the Primorskii and Artem power plants, ITAR-
TASS reported, citing a union official at the Primorskii plant. A
Dalenergo official warned that stocks of coal and fuel oil at power
stations are again so low that operations could "stop at any moment." --
Ritsuko Sasaki and Penny Morvant

CONFLICT OVER AEROFLOT'S INTENTIONS TO BUY BOEINGS. Tatar Prime Minister
Farid Mukhmedshin has expressed concern over Aeroflot's intention to
replace 13 TU-134 passenger airplanes with 10 U.S. Boeing 737-400s, RTR
reported on 10 August. Mukhamedshin accused Aero-flot, Russia's largest
airline, and its general director, Yevgenii Sha-poshnikov, of betraying
Russia's national interests and said the company's decision is likely to
push the domestic aircraft manufacturing industry into a crisis.
Shaposhnikov, however, responded by saying that as a commercial
enterprise, Aeroflot cannot afford to spend money on refurbishing and
modernizing newly purchased aircraft. In 1995 alone, Aeroflot had to
replace 31 engines on five Aerobus IL-96s. Furthermore, Aeroflot has to
meet international standards, especially environmental regulations,
which is often impossible with Russian-manufactured airplanes. --
Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GULIEV RESIGNS FOR "HEALTH REASONS." Azerbaijani parliament chairman
Rasul Guliev resigned from office on 11 September, Russian and Western
media reported the same day. His resignation had been expected to be the
locus of a stormy extraordinary session of the parliament, the Milli
Mejlis, but the matter was wrapped up in 15 minutes when Guliev asked to
resign due to ill health, ITAR-TASS reported. Parliament accepted his
resignation in a vote of 98-8, with four abstentions. During his speech,
Guliev pledged his full support to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev,
who was in attendance. It has been rumored that Guliev is to serve as
Azerbaijan's ambassador to Norway. A Norwegian company, Statoil, is part
of the international consortium involved in exploiting three oil fields
off Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKSTAN ROUNDUP. Almaty's city authorities on 9 September refused to
allow the Center of Russian Culture of Almaty to stage a demonstration
in front of the U.S. Embassy, RFE/RL reported. The demonstrators
intended to protest the recent U.S. airstrikes on Iraq. In other news,
Rakhmankul Berdibay has been elected president of the recently founded
Baba Turkti Shashti Aziz Foundation, RFE/RL reported on 12 September.
Baba Turkti Shashti, whose mausoleum is in Chimkent along with a
foundation of the same name, is revered as the common ancestor of the
Karakalpak, Nogay, Tatar, Kazak, Kyrgyz, and Bashkort peoples.
Meanwhile, a training school for sergeants, manned by instructors from
the U.S. and Turkey, is to open in Kazakstan, the Turkish Daily News
reported on 12 September. The 100-student school is to form the backbone
of the Kazakstani army's non-commissioned officer corps. -- Lowell
Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE IN TASHKENT. A three-day OSCE-sponsored
conference on human rights--bringing together non-governmental
organizations operating in Central Asia, government officials, and
government-selected media representatives--opened in Tashkent on 11
September, Western agencies reported. Human rights are far from
respected in Central Asia with print and broadcast media carefully
censored or directly controlled by the government and minimal tolerance
shown for political opposition. Among a litany of other human rights
violations, AFP noted that 40 journalists have been killed in Tajikistan
since 1992, some 30 prisoners of conscience are presently in Uzbek
jails, and 600 prisoners died in Kazakstani jails of tuberculosis last
year and another 101 were executed. The venue of the conference is
considered a further signal of Uzbekistan's desire to soften the
regime's image abroad. -- Lowell Bezanis

UNESCO PLEDGES HELP FOR TURKMENISTAN. Turkmen President Saparmurad
Niyazov and UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor signed a memorandum
of cooperation in Paris on 11 September, ITAR-TASS reported the same
day. According to the agency, UNESCO is to help Turkmenistan reform its
education system, train journalists, create a management information
network, support national radio programming, establish various cultural
programs aimed at the protection of historical sites, and analyze the
environmental problems of the Caspian Sea. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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