Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson

No. 184, Part I, 23 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:


YELTSIN OPERATION MAY BE CANCELED. President Boris Yeltsin's operation
will be delayed at least six to eight weeks, and it may have to be
canceled, according to Renat Akchurin, the surgeon who will operate on
Yeltsin, NTV's Itogi reported on 22 September. Akchurin said that it is
"the most serious operation" to face the president and that the earlier
it is carried out, the greater the risk. Yeltsin wants the operation as
soon as possible. Akchurin, whose comment to ABC in English that Yeltsin
had a third heart attack before the second round of the presidential
elections caused a sensation in the Western press, clarified his
statement. He said Yeltsin had heart trouble (pristup), not a heart
attack (infarkt). On the NTV broadcast, he did not repeat his earlier
statement that the episode had damaged Yeltsin's heart and might
complicate surgery, the Los Angeles Times noted. Akchurin said that
there was an 85-90% chance of saving Yeltsin. The Kremlin and the
official news agency ITAR-TASS have been silent on the revelations. --
Robert Orttung

carrying some of the 30,000 Russian soldiers in Chechnya left on 21
September, resuming the process that the commander of federal troops in
Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, halted on 12 September,
Russian TV reported. The pullout is expected to be completed by the
middle of December. Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's trip
to Moscow, originally set for 23 September, has been postponed to the
end of the month, NTV reported. The Chechens blamed the delay on the
failure of Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin to make the necessary preparations for the visit. In
response, a source close to the prime minister said that Chernomyrdin
had no plans to meet with Yanderbiev, but might do so depending on the
outcome of his talks with Lebed, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 September. The
Moscow visit is expected to finalize Chechnya's new coalition
government, AFP reported on 21 September. -- Robert Orttung

POW EXCHANGES CONTINUE. The trickle of POW exchanges continued on 22
September, with the Russians swapping three fighters and two Chechen
journalists for 11 of their soldiers, most of whom had been held for
more than a year, NTV reported. An additional two Russian prisoners did
not want to return because they converted to Islam in captivity and
refused to leave Chechnya. The Russians claim 1,383 people are missing
in action, including 118 civilians, Russian TV reported. The Chechens
believe about 1,350 from their side are being held, but the Russians
could only confirm 59. -- Robert Orttung

Parliamentary Assembly gathered on 23 September, but neither Lebed nor
rebel Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov will address the meeting
about the situation in Chechnya, according to Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 September. Both Lebed and Maskhadov
had been invited to Strasbourg two weeks ago, but Gian-Paolo Castanetto,
the Parliamentary Assembly's deputy clerk, told RFE/RL on 20 September
that Maskhadov had been "disinvited" due to criticism from the head of
the Russian Duma foreign affairs committee, Vladimir Lukin. AFP reported
on 21 September that Maskhadov had obtained a French visa in
anticipation of the visit. Lebed did not attend because he believed that
doing so would give legitimacy to Chechnya's claims of independence. --
Peter Rutland and Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKII BLASTS YELTSIN. Grigorii Yavlinskii, addressing a conference
in Washington on 19 September sponsored by RFE/RL, condemned Yeltsin for
the Chechen war, which he claimed has cost 100,000 lives. Yavlinskii, a
Duma deputy and failed presidential candidate, said that Western lending
to Moscow while the war continues is akin to the sending of athletes to
the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was dismissive of Lebed's peace efforts,
saying that the Security Council secretary lacks the authority to end
the conflict. -- Peter Rutland

ZYUGANOV: NEW CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov said Russia must prepare for a new presidential election and
described his candidacy as the most "legitimate," since he gained 30
million votes on 3 July, Russian and Western agencies reported on 20
September. He alleged that Chernomyrdin, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and
Lebed are actively preparing for early elections. Meanwhile, appearing
at the fifth congress of Yegor Gaidar's party Russia's Democratic
Choice, presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais expressed
confidence that Yeltsin will make a swift and full recovery. Chubais
warned that politicians who are already preparing for the next
presidential campaign will quickly discover that "this start is a false
start," ITAR-TASS reported on 21 September. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNISTS REMEMBER OCTOBER '93 EVENTS. About 10 pro-Communist parties
and organizations rallied on Moscow's Smolenskaya Square on 21 September
to mark the third anniversary of the bloody stand-off between President
Yeltsin and the old Russian parliament, the Supreme Soviet. About 2,000
people attended the rally, organized by a "committee in memory of the
victims of the tragic events of September-October 1993," according to
ITAR-TASS. Neither communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov nor former Vice
President Aleksandr Rutskoi addressed the gathering, although their
presence had been expected, NTV reported. -- Penny Morvant

giving NTV the right to broadcast 24 hours a day on Russia's eighth
television channel, NTV and ITAR-TASS reported on 20 September. The
network had previously only been able to broadcast for eight hours a
day, beginning at 6 p.m., on the fourth channel. The move is the latest
sign of friendlier relations between the authorities and NTV, which has
long sought full-time broadcasting privileges. The network drew sharp
criticism from some officials in 1994 and 1995, particularly for its
bold coverage of the Chechnya conflict. This year NTV's president joined
Yeltsin's campaign committee, and the network strongly supported
Yeltsin's re-election effort, although since July its news coverage has
become somewhat more independent. In June the gas monopoly Gazprom,
which has close ties to the government, purchased a 30% share in the
network. -- Laura Belin

on 21 September, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry expressed support
for a formal charter between NATO and Russia to give the latter a voice
but not a vote on sensitive issues, particularly concerning nuclear
weapons, AFP reported. ITAR-TASS on the following day quoted German
Defense Minister Volker Ruehe as saying, "We would like ... a joint
NATO-Russian committee where political consultations would be held."
Ruehe added: "We shall record a truly strategic partnership between
Russia and NATO in a new charter." The charter idea was launched by
Perry in a speech at Stuttgart on 6 September. Perry said NATO has no
plans at present to base nuclear weapons in former Soviet-bloc countries
but it would not guarantee that such deployments would never be made. He
expressed concern that Russia has not substantially reduced its arsenal
of tactical nuclear missiles. -- Peter Rutland and Penny Morvant

. . . BUT PRIMAKOV INTRANSIGENT. Two hours of talks in Vienna between
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and Yevgenii Primakov on 20
September failed to dislodge the Russian foreign minister from his
opposition to NATO expansion, Reuters reported. Primakov earlier told
OSCE delegates in Vienna that "it is absolutely unacceptable to Russia
if NATO moves its military infrastructure nearer to our territory" and
urged Austria not to join NATO, AFP reported. U.S. Defense Secretary
Perry asserted on 22 September that an enlarged NATO alliance posed no
threat to Moscow. Meanwhile, several dozen military leaders from Russia
and the U.S. gathered in St. Petersburg on 21 September for a conference
analyzing the results of the IFOR peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and
military cooperation between NATO and Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. --
Peter Rutland

MORE AID FOR NORTHERN REGIONS NEEDED. Chernomyrdin met with ministers on
21 September to discuss the plight of the northern regions as they
prepare for winter, ITAR-TASS reported. The Far North received 8.5
trillion rubles worth of credits from the federal budget in 1994-95 to
stock up with winter supplies and allow the regions to finance the
transportation of goods themselves in 1996. Now, however, an additional
2 to 3 trillion rubles is urgently needed before the end of October,
when navigation becomes impossible. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr
Livshits said the government will investigate how the 8.5 trillion was
spent, but Chernomyrdin said that the government would not leave
northern residents without food and fuel, ORT and NTV reported.
Meanwhile, coalminers in Vorkuta threatened to strike from 1 October
because of unpaid wages and electricity cuts. -- Peter Rutland and Penny

PRIMORE TO RECEIVE FEDERAL FUNDS. Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko said on 21 September that the federal government has agreed
to transfer 190 billion rubles ($35 million) to the regional power
company Dalenergo and that the money should start to arrive on 24
September, Russian media reported. Nazdratenko had just returned from
Moscow, where he had a series of meetings with federal government
officials to discuss the region's energy crisis. Despite Nazdratenko's
remarks, regional power workers vowed to continue their strike, begun on
16 September, until the payment of back wages begins and a timetable for
full reimbursement is worked out. Communist leader Zyuganov, meanwhile,
blamed the economic crisis in the Far East on the federal government.
Local trade unions, which back Nazdratenko, also attacked the government
and renewed calls for a regional strike on 10 October. -- Penny Morvant

LIVSHITS ON ECONOMIC SITUATION. Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits told
a press conference that Russia has never been so close to both
successful economic reform and totally reversing the economic course,
ITAR-TASS reported on 20 September. Although the rate of inflation and
interest rates on credits are falling (the latter went down from 170-
180% in the spring of1996 to 50-60% in the fall), the budget received
only 78% of expected revenues in January through August. Moreover, the
volume of the government's wage and pension debt equals the volume of
tax arrears by Russia's 66 largest industrial enterprises. -- Natalia


ARMENIA, ADZHARIA ELECTIONS. An estimated 2.4 million voters cast their
ballots on 22 September in Armenia's second presidential election,
international agencies reported. Incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan's
principal challenger, National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukyan,
alleged that serious irregularities took place during the vote. There
has been no independent confirmation of these allegations. Russia openly
threw its weight behind Ter-Petrossyan, with President Yeltsin sending
greetings to mark the fifth anniversary of Armenia's independence the
day before the vote. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin went further the same
day, telling Armenian Television viewers Ter-Petrossyan was a brave,
reliable, selfless, and thoughtful man he liked to work with. Joint
Russo-Armenian military exercises and a subsequent military parade in
Yerevan were also intended to support the incumbent. Meanwhile,
parliamentary elections were held in Adzharia on 22 September, ITAR-TASS
reported. Some 225,000 voters cast ballots without incident to elect 80
deputies. -- Lowell Bezanis

HOT LINE TO KAZAKSTANI PRESIDENT. Citizens of Kazakstan have an
opportunity to voice their grievances to President Nursultan Nazarbayev
through one of four telephone lines, NTV reported on 21 September. The
idea is Nazarbayev's and is intended to help the president get in touch
with the problems of the population. According to the report most
callers so far have complained about their "wretched lifestyle" and
about the regional and oblast Akims, the Kazak equivalent of councilors.
The leadership of the Pokolenie (Generation) movement said their three-
hour attempt to reach an operator on the hot line was unsuccessful, and
the NTV report noted that four phone lines are clearly not enough to
serve a country of 16 million. -- Bruce Pannier

19 September published a draft law on political parties for public
discussion. It prohibits the establishment of parties based on ethnic or
religious lines, and those advocating war or the subversion of the
constitutional order, according to the BBC-monitored report. Military
and law-enforcement personnel, foreigners, and stateless people will not
be able to join parties. In a bid to prevent regionally based parties,
the law stipulates that prospective parties must divulge details of
3,000 members distributed over at least eight of the country's regional-
level administrative territories. Parties may not accept donations from
state, foreign, religious, or anonymous sources. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAK-KYRGYZ-UZBEK TRINITY? Kazakstani President Nazarbayev has sent a
letter to his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov suggesting Almaty is
disappointed with the unimplemented customs union agreement signed with
Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL reported on 19 September.
Nazarbayev proposed closer ties with Bishkek and Tashkent, including the
establishment of a unified parliament of the three countries. Delovaya
nedelya., carrying the RFE/RL report on 20 September, noted that
Nazarbayev initially expressed his concerns during unofficial talks with
Karimov and Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev in Jambul in August. The
report also alleged that Almaty's plans to become Moscow's principal
ally have failed to bear fruit as Belarus is successfully playing this
role, and that Tashkent is cool to Nazarbayev's newfound interest in his
fellow Central Asians. -- Lowell Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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