Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Naught may endure but Mutability. - Percy Shelley
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 183, Part I, 20 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 ISSUES DECREE ON POWER TRANSFER. President Boris Yeltsin on 19
September signed a decree outlining the procedure for transferring power
to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin while he undergoes heart surgery,
ITAR-TASS reported. Chernomyrdin will control Russia's nuclear weapons
during Yeltsin's incapacitation. Yeltsin must sign another decree
defining when the handover will actually take place. Presidential
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said the decree sought to remove all
questions about the power transfer. Yeltsin's doctors, including
American Michael DeBakey, will determine the details of the operation on
25 September. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN CHANGES COMPOSITION OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL. Yeltsin replaced
former Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov with Deputy Prime Minister and
Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits and removed Valerii Manilov from the
position of deputy secretary of the Security Council on 19 September.
Panskov lost his position in the government more than a month ago and
the delay in removing him from the Security Council shows that the
president is paying little attention to the body, Kommersant-Daily noted
on 20 September. Although the council should convene once a month, it
has not met in the last three months. Manilov had prepared all the
Security Council meetings for the last 2-1/2 years and had extensive
contacts with all the key players. Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed,
whose power draws from his popularity rather than from inside
connections, decided that he no longer needs Manilov. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN APPOINTS PAIN AS ADVISOR. Yeltsin named Presidential Council
member Emil Pain as his advisor on Chechnya, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported on 19 September. Pain told Ekho Moskvy that he did not know
what he was supposed to do in his new position. Pain had worked in
Chernomyrdin's commission for resolving the Chechen conflict which was
disbanded after Lebed criticized it as ineffective. Pain's 19 September
Rossiiskie vesti article was much less laudatory of Lebed's treaties
than the rest of the media has been (see OMRI Daily Digest 19 September
1996). -- Robert Orttung

CHECHEN DEVELOPMENTS. Chechen rebels killed the head of Shelkovskii
Raion, Anatolii Storozhenko, who had opposed the separatists, Ekho
Moskvy reported on 19 September. While the situation in Grozny remains
relatively calm, the Russian military continued to warn of possible
"large-scale provocations." Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev may visit Moscow on 23 September for talks with Lebed and
Chernomyrdin, NTV reported. The federal authorities announced in Moscow
that the warrant for the arrest of Lebed's negotiating partner, Chechen
Chief of Staff Aslan Mashkadov, is still valid, Radio Rossii reported.
The warrant would presumably prevent Maskhadov from traveling to France
to address the Council of Europe. Duma Legislation Committee Chairman
Anatolii Lukyanov said that a continuing investigation is ridiculous
since Maskhadov is on TV every day. -- Robert Orttung

ABDULATIPOV: DUMA SHOULD PASS LAW ON CHECHNYA. State Duma deputy Ramazan
Abdulatipov, who heads the Russian Regions faction, said the Duma should
pass a law on the transition period and deferred status of the Chechen
Republic, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 19 September.
Abdulatipov said he supported the agreement recently signed by Lebed and
Maskhadov, under which discussion of Chechnya's status was deferred for
five years, but worried about the absence of "political mechanisms that
could ensure the implementation of this procedure." The Duma is unlikely
to approve such a law, since leading figures in the Communist Party
(which, with its allies, has a working majority in the lower house) have
spoken out against the Lebed-Maskhadov agreement. -- Laura Belin

JOURNALISTS TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR FALSE INFORMATION. The
President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes ruled that
journalists and editors are responsible for disseminating false
information, even if an article contains disclaimers such as "it is
rumored," "it is said," or "according to unverified information," ITAR-
TASS reported on 18 September. The case was brought by a journalist in
Vladimir who was sued for libel, even though her article had been
published with a disclaimer saying that the writer "bore no
responsibility for the authenticity of the report." The judges ruled
that journalists are obliged to check the authenticity of facts
reported, and said persons are entitled to sue for libel even in the
case of a journalist's "honest mistake." However, journalists are
protected from libel suits brought on the basis of direct quotations or
reports by official state bodies cited in their articles. -- Laura Belin

DEMOCRATS CAN'T AGREE ON CANDIDATE IN STAVROPOL. With gubernatorial
elections in Stavropol Krai set for 27 October, local activists in the
"democratic" camp cannot agree on a common candidate, ITAR-TASS reported
on 19 September. In late August the All-Russian Coordinating Council on
the regional elections endorsed the incumbent governor, Petr Marchenko,
who is supported by the pro-government Our Home Is Russia movement.
However, local branches of some parties represented on the council
refused to back Marchenko and instead support Aleksandr Korobeinikov,
head of the Stavropol Center for Innovations and Economic Technologies.
Pro-reform parties currently face similar dilemmas in other regions,
such as Krasnodar and Altai Krai; local democrats object to the style of
rule of unpopular incumbents, yet cannot agree on whether more palatable
candidates would be able to defeat strong Communist-backed challengers.
-- Laura Belin

COMMUNISTS PUSHING LAW ON MEDICAL COMMISSION. With Yeltsin still
hospitalized for heart problems, Duma Legislation Committee Chairman and
Communist Party member Anatolii Lukyanov announced on 19 September that
a draft law on creating a medical commission to evaluate the health of
high officials has been fully completed and should be passed by the Duma
"no matter what," Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. A similar law
failed to clear the lower house last year, but it is now likely to be
approved given the new balance of forces in the Duma since the December
1995 parliamentary elections. Article 92 of the Constitution stipulates
that the president must cede power to the prime minister if he becomes
"persistently unable" to fulfill his duties, but there is currently no
procedure for evaluating the president's abilities. The Duma is still on
summer recess; sessions are scheduled to resume on 2 October. -- Laura
Belin

MORE COMMUNIST ARCHIVES DECLASSIFIED. A special commission for the
declassification of documents of the Central Committee of the All-Union
Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and its post-Stalin successor the CPSU
announced on 19 September its decision to allow access to a variety of
documents, including those related to censorship and the development of
nuclear weapons and strategic forces. According to ITAR-TASS, 1,300
transcripts of Central Committee meetings from 1920 to 1991 will be
declassified. A small portion of the documents on weapons will remain
secret as will several documents related to Soviet-German relations and
the 1961 Berlin crisis. The commission is to decide on the
declassification of 6,000 more documents by the end of the year,
including about 3,000 Central Committee and Politburo files, 1,000 from
the Comintern, and 1,500 personal files of Soviet leaders. -- Penny
Morvant

MILITARY PROTESTS LACK OF FUNDING. About 500 defense workers picketed
the government building in Moscow on 19 September to demand 6.1 trillion
rubles ($1.2 billion) in overdue wages, RTR reported. Krasnaya zvezda
put the number of demonstrators as high as 1,500. Rallies were also held
in the Far East (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 September), and nuclear
submarine repair workers attached to the Northern Fleet held a one-day
strike. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 19 September noted that the army has
fared particularly badly in the disbursal of government funds recently.
It estimated the total government debt to the military at about 30
trillion rubles. The paper warned that morale is deteriorating rapidly,
and opposition to the president and government is growing. -- Penny
Morvant

NEW JOB FOR SOSKOVETS. Oleg Soskovets, who was fired from his post as
first deputy prime minister on 20 June, will take up the job of
president of the Association of Financial Industrial Groups (AFPG),
Kommersant-Daily reported on 20 September. Soskovets was formally
appointed president of the AFPG when it was formed at the beginning of
1996. It claims to represent 30 industrial holding companies and 60
banks, with a total of 450,000 employees. Vladimir Potanin, who replaced
Soskovets in the government, was formerly the head of Oneksimbank and of
the financial-industrial group Interros. -- Peter Rutland

LUKOIL AND ARCO FORM JOINT VENTURE. Russia's oil giant LUKoil and the
U.S. Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) signed on 19 September a document
finalizing their March agreement to set up a joint venture, ITAR-TASS
and Kommersant-Daily reported. LUKoil and ARCO's stakes in the Lukarco
venture will be 54% and 46%, respectively. Lukarco plans to invest $5
billion in Russia over the next 10 years. Some $4.5 billion will be
provided by ARCO, which holds a 8% stake in LUKoil, as a low-interest
loan. The loan will not be guaranteed by the government or secured
against LUKoil's assets. Projects will include the construction of a
pipeline from the Tengiz oil field in Kazakstan to Russia's
Novorossiisk, and the development of off-shore fields in the Caspian. --
Natalia Gurushina

GOVERNMENT WILL REDEEM CONSUMER GOODS CREDITS. The government reiterated
its intention to repay the consumer goods bonds issued in 1990-1991
worth some 20 trillion rubles ($3.7 billion), ORT and Kommersant-Daily
reported on 19-20 September. The 1997 budget earmarks 5.3 trillion
rubles for this purpose. In the Soviet era workers were given (or
purchased) chits guaranteeing them the right to buy a certain product
(such as a car) in a number of years. After 1991 manufacturers stopped
honoring the chits. The repayment program will not only please bond
holders: it will also allow the government to subsidize certain
industrial firms (such as the Moskvich auto plant) by paying cash
advances for the goods. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. According to a poll published on
19 September in Express-Khronika, 57.3% of respondents said they will
vote in the 22 September presidential election for united opposition
candidate Vazgen Manukyan. Incumbent President Levon Ter-Petrossyan
would take 33.7% of the vote, Communist Party candidate Sergei Badalyan
8.2%, and Scientific-Industrial Civic Union leader Ashot Manucharyan
0.7%. Ter-Petrossyan 's campaign fund had raised 168 million drams ($
410,450) by 17 September, according to a representative of the fund,
Noyan Tapan reported on 18 September. Some 44 million drams ($107,500)
have already been spent. -- Elin Suleymanov

JOINT RUSSO-ARMENIAN MILITARY EXERCISE UNDER WAY. Russian and Armenian
forces began joint tactical exercises on 19 September, Russian and
Western media reported. The exercises involve troops, warplanes and
armored vehicles and are taking place near the Turkish border in
Armavir. The exercises were originally to be held from 23-27 September
but were pulled forward to effectively coincide with the Armenian
presidential election. Last March the two sides undertook similar
exercises for the first time. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKSTAN ROUNDUP. Kazakstan has a newly established main intelligence
directorate within the country's Ministry of Defense, Karavan-Blitz
reported on 19 September. The department was established by a special
decree of Defense Minister Alibek Kasymov and will be manned by five of
the country's 45 generals. In other news, some 200 businessmen attended
a conference in Almaty sponsored by the Islamic Development Bank, RFE/RL
reported on 19 September. It was announced that the IDB will open an
office in Kazakstan and provide the country with special credits for
railroad construction. -- Lowell Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

DETAINED KAZAKSTANI JOURNALIST WINS COMPENSATION. A suit brought by
Batyrkhan Darimbet, RFE/RL stringer in Kazakstan, against the city of
Almaty police department ended on 18 September, RFE/RL reported the same
day. The court agreed that Darimbet's human rights and professional
dignity were violated when he was detained in early July en route to a
press conference for visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin. The
presiding judge awarded 10,000 tenge (around $150) to Darimbet, far less
than the 6 million tenge he demanded. Two activists associated
respectively with the Azat and Jeltoksan nationalist parties were also
detained at the same police station where Darimbet was held, evidently
to prevent them too from attending the press conference. -- Lowell
Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

STABILITY RETURNS TO EASTERN TAJIKISTAN. Secretary of the Tajik Security
Council Amirkul Azimov told a press conference on 19 September that the
ceasefire in the Karetegin Valley is holding, ITAR-TASS reported. A
protocol signed by representatives from the Tajik government and
opposition on 15-16 September ended fighting in the area which began in
late August. Both sides agreed to take down their check points in the
Jirgatal and Tajikabad areas and allow interior and security agencies to
renew their work there and to reopen the Dushanbe-Jirgatal highway.
Further south, an accord was signed on 18 September in the border town
of Ishkashim between the commander of the Russian border troops, Lt.-
Gen. Pavel Tarasenko, and the commander of Afghanistan's 6th Army
Corps., Col.-Gen. Najmuddin, to establish a 25-kilometer buffer zone in
Afghanistan's Shungan province, a move aimed at stemming Tajik
opposition infiltration from Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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