True heroism consists not in fighting under a flag but in not fighting at all. - Freidrich Nietzsche
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 180, Part I, 17 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 TO REMAIN IN HOSPITAL. President Boris Yeltsin will stay in the
hospital for the next two days to undergo tests before his heart
operation, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 17 September. The same day
Moskovskii komsomolets considered a variety of possible scenarios if
Yeltsin cannot finish his term. The paper considers Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, Communist party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, and
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed the most likely candidates to
succeed Yeltsin, with Minister for CIS Affairs Aman Tuleev, Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov, and Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais also
possible contenders. -- Robert Orttung

KRASNAYA ZVEZDA CALLS FOR ACTION . . . The military newspaper Krasnaya
zvezda on 17 September blasted the federal authorities for doing nothing
to advance the Chechnya peace process while the separatist rebels are
forming "parallel power structures," setting up their own coalition
government, regrouping, and positioning themselves to influence events
in the republic. The paper accused the separatists of ignoring many of
the provisions laid out in the treaties they have signed, including the
release of POWs. Only the decision made by the commander of federal
forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, to halt the exit of
Russian troops made the rebels turn over 27 prisoners on 16 September,
the paper claimed. -- Robert Orttung

. . . MASKHADOV SEES POSSIBILITY OF RENEWED FIGHTING. Chechen separatist
Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov told NTV on 16 September that he had
already signed four agreements with the federal authorities and that as
soon as he started to believe peace was possible, the policy of the
Russian government sharply changed. He said that he believed that Moscow
was using the dispute over POWs to restart military activities.
Maskhadov said that he trusted Lebed, but believed that he alone on the
Russian side was working for peace. -- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN, LEBED DISCUSS CHECHEN COALITION GOVERNMENT. Moscow is
trying to take control of the coalition government formation process in
Chechnya while the rebels are unilaterally filling it with their
supporters. Lebed and Chernomyrdin apparently decided on 16 September
that Lebed, rather than the prime minister, could approve the members of
the new coalition government set up to rule Chechnya, NTV reported.
Reports from the previous day said that Chernomyrdin would have the
final word. Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev said that it was
premature to begin speaking of a coalition government in the republic.
Chernomyrdin canceled their meeting scheduled for the 16th, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Robert Orttung

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT APPEAL ON LEBED-MASKHADOV AGREEMENT STALLED. Duma
deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
have collected only about one-third of the 90 signatures they would need
to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the Lebed-Maskhadov
agreement, Izvestiya reported on 17 September. They had protested that
Lebed exceeded his authority in signing the document and that the
agreement left key questions concerning Chechnya's status unanswered
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 September 1996). A few deputies from the
Communist Party, the left-wing Popular Power faction, and Grigorii
Yavlinskii's Yabloko have signed the appeal, but Izvestiya noted that
Zhirinovsky himself has ignored his subordinates' initiative. -- Laura
Belin

LUKIN REJECTS SECOND REQUEST TO ATTEND CHECHNYA HEARINGS IN STRASBOURG.
Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin rejected a
request from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly that the
Russian delegation reconsider its decision to boycott planned hearings
on Chechnya in Strasbourg, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 16 September.
Lukin stood by his earlier statements that the hearings would represent
interference in Russia's internal affairs and could undermine the peace
process in Chechnya. The council has invited Chechen Chief of Staff
Maskhadov and Security Council Secretary Lebed to the hearings, but not
pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev. -- Laura Belin

ZYUGANOV ON LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES. The Communist Party (KPRF) faction
in the State Duma will take steps to ensure that laws are better
enforced and that lawbreakers--for instance, those responsible for not
paying wages or pensions--are held criminally accountable, KPRF leader
Gennadii Zyuganov told Sovetskaya Rossiya in an interview published on
14 September. He added that opposition deputies will form a shadow
cabinet. Zyuganov charged that the mass media "has turned into a means
of psychological war and destruction" seeking to further its own
interests, "far from the interests of the state and its citizens," and
said the Duma will ask major television networks to give the opposition
time to air its views. Zyuganov's statements reflect his party's
strategy to gain a reputation as a "constructive" rather than an
"irreconcilable" opposition. Rhetoric depicting the KPRF as dangerous
and extremist proved a potent weapon against Zyuganov in the recent
presidential election. -- Laura Belin

LEBED ACCEPTS INVITATION TO VISIT NATO. Security Council Secretary Lebed
confirmed that he will accept an invitation to visit NATO headquarters
in Brussels this October, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. "Why not
talk with NATO representatives about the organization's plans?" he
observed. He said he planned to "caution" NATO representatives against
eastward expansion, although he characterized Russia as too weak to
prevent the alliance from accepting new members. Lebed has never
traveled outside the former Soviet Union, except during his military
service in Afghanistan during the 1980s. -- Laura Belin

RUSSIA WELCOMES BOSNIA ELECTIONS. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
issued a statement calling the first post-war elections in Bosnia-
Herzegovina a "very important step" toward "normalizing the lives of all
peoples" in the region, advancing the peace process, and promoting
social and economic revival, Russian and Western agencies reported on 16
September. Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov, who
traveled to Bosnia as an election observer, told ITAR-TASS on 17
September that he believed the elections to be generally "democratic and
free" despite violations reported in certain areas. -- Laura Belin

HIJACKING IN DAGESTAN. A lone hijacker held dozens of people hostage on
a bus in Dagestan on 16 September before releasing them unharmed and
fleeing, Russian and Western agencies reported. The man seized the bus
in the early evening; about an hour later he fled with three hostages
and a Dagestan Duma deputy who had offered himself as a substitute.
According to some reports, the man released the remaining hostages near
Khasavyurt and crossed into Chechnya with about $10,000. Others said he
might be in hiding in Dagestan. The hijacking was the latest in a series
of such incidents in the north Caucasus in recent years. -- Penny
Morvant

PENSIONERS PROTEST IN KOSTROMA. A group of pensioners rallied in
Kostroma on 16 September to protest the failure to pay their pensions on
time, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public Television (ORT) reported. Headed by
members of the local communist party organization, about 1,500
pensioners, who have still not received their August money, gathered at
the local administration building to present a petition to Governor
Valerii Arbuzov demanding their due. A group of demonstrators then
blocked traffic on a bridge across the Volga, paralyzing the only road
link across the river from Yaroslavl to Nizhnii Novgorod. The
indebtedness of Russia's Pension Fund has prompted several similar
protests by pensioners in oblasts along the Volga. -- Penny Morvant

PRIMORSKII KRAI GOVERNOR CALLS FOR CANCELLATION OF REFERENDUM. Yevgenii
Nazdratenko sent an open letter on 16 September to the Primorskii Krai
Duma asking it to cancel plans for a regional referendum on 22 September
on confidence in the governor, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September.
Nazdratenko said he felt the referendum was unnecessary as solutions
have been worked out with the federal government to improve the
situation in the region's fuel and energy sector. Radio Rossii reported
on 16 September that the krai Duma is scheduled to meet on 18 September
to discuss the projected plebiscite and is expected to cancel it. Also
on 18 September Nazdratenko will present a final report to the
presidential administration on the situation in the energy sector. A
decree issued by President Yeltsin on 14 August expressed doubt about
Nazdratenko's competence and gave him a month to stabilize the
situation. ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September that Nazdratenko has
agreed emergency measures with Fuel and Energy Minister Petr Rodionov.
The strike of some 10,000 Dalenergo workers, however, is continuing. --
Penny Morvant

STATE TAX AGENCY PLANS INSPECTION OF BANKS. The State Tax Agency will
carry out a large-scale inspection of Russian commercial banks over the
next month in order to unearth concealed profits and boost tax
collection, Kommersant-Daily reported on 17 September. According to a
report in Kommersant-Daily on 14 September, one-quarter of Russian banks
have broken existing tax legislation. One-third of banks carried out
payments from clients' accounts with delays stretching from 10 to 60
days. The volume of delayed payments to the federal budget now totals
1.2 trillion rubles ($223 million). -- Natalia Gurushina

GDP AND INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT CONTINUE TO FALL. Russia's GDP and industrial
output fell by 6% and 5%, respectively, in the first eight months of
1996 compared with the same period last year, ITAR-TASS reported on 16
September. A substantial reduction in output was recorded in light
industry, the production of construction materials, car manufacture,
metallurgy, the fuel and energy industry, and the production of meat and
vodka. At the same time, there were increases in gas extraction and the
production of some foodstuffs. Meanwhile, an IMF working group is
currently in Moscow to assess the performance of the Russian economy and
give its recommendations on the disbursement of the sixth tranche of a
$10.1 billion extended fund facility. Russia has just received the
August tranche of the loan ($350 million). -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

VAZGEN MANUKYAN'S CAMPAIGN PROGRAM. Armenian presidential candidate
Vazgen Manukyan, during a 15 September interview in Yerevan,
characterized the 22 September presidential election as a choice between
alternative approaches to building democracy and the transition to a
market economy, and dismissed the Armenian communists as a "spent
force." While admitting Armenia's economic collapse was connected to the
collapse of the USSR, the blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and the war
in Karabakh, Manukyan harshly criticized the economic policies of the
present leadership, slamming in particular its "illiterate"
privatization policy. Manukyan's campaign program focuses on the
reconstruction of the industrial sector, reform of the tax system,
eradicating corruption and introducing social benefits for the most
vulnerable sectors of the population. The first point of Manukyan's
program is a pledge to achieve international recognition of the
independent status of Nagorno-Karabakh by means of peaceful
negotiations, although he conceded that this will be a protracted
process. Manukyan is increasingly viewed as a serious threat to
incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan. -- Liz Fuller in Yerevan (monitoring the
presidential election for the European Institute for Media)

BOTAS GETS WORLD BANK LOAN FOR BAKU-CEYHAN STUDY. The World Bank on 12
September announced in a news release it will loan $5 million to
Turkey's oil and gas transmission company Botas to undertake a
feasibility study and environmental audit of several route options for
exporting up to 45 million metric tons of crude oil per year from
Azerbaijan and Central Asia. It appears routing options beginning in
Baku and transiting Armenia or Georgia to Ceyhan will be evaluated.
According to the news release, World Bank assistance for the study does
not imply a commitment to further finance the pipeline as it is expected
to be built and financed by the private sector. -- Lowell Bezanis

NEW APPOINTMENTS IN KAZAKSTAN. A rash of new appointments was made in
the Kazakstani government and presidential apparatus on 17 September,
RFE/RL reported the same day. Former Finance Minister Aleksander Pavlov
was named Deputy Prime Minister, Nurtay Abykhayev is now senior aide to
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, while Alikhan Baymenov has been made
deputy director of the presidential administration. -- Lowell Bezanis
and Merhat Sharipzhan

NAZARBAYEV IN BAKU. Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his
Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev signed a treaty outlining the basic
principles governing relations between their countries, a joint
statement on the Caspian Sea, and 10 inter-governmental agreements in
Baku on 16 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
statement on the Caspian Sea calls for its demilitarization and the need
to intensify negotiations between littoral states to determine the sea's
legal status, ITAR-TASS reported. While in Baku, Nazarbayev expressed an
interest in Kazakstan's participating in a prospective Transcaucasian
railway line which Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia
have agreed to build. -- Lowell Bezanis

RAHKMONOV IN CHINA. The presidents of Tajikistan and China, Immomali
Rakhmonov and Jiang Zemin, signed a series of bilateral cooperation
agreements in Beijing on 16 September, AFP reported. The accords appear
to be mainly symbolic and include one on environmental protection and
academic exchanges, and another on judicial cooperation. -- Lowell
Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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