Give Peace A Chance. - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

No. 186, Part I, 25 September 1996

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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:


Boris Yeltsin is doing paper work for 30 minutes to two-and-a-half hours
a day and meeting regularly with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and
Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, presidential spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii said on 24 September, NTV reported. The statement,
"damning Yeltsin's condition with faint praise," suggested the president
may indeed be too weak to undergo an operation, the Los Angeles Times
noted. Chernomyrdin denounced Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev's
suggestion that Yeltsin step down if the doctors declare him too weak
for surgery, saying that "now is not the time to talk about this,"
Russian Public TV reported. Dr. Renat Akchurin denied on 24 September
that the surgery would be called off, although he had said it was a
possibility in an NTV interview two days earlier. Seleznev said that the
Duma was thinking about passing a law on Chubais' administration "to put
it in its place," Izvestiya reported. He believes that Chubais is taking
too much power while Yeltsin is incapacitated. -- Robert Orttung

Aleksandr Lebed's press secretary, Aleksandr Barkhatov, denied on 24
September that his boss had given any recent interviews to The Daily
Telegraph, ITAR-TASS reported. The British daily had published the same
day an interview with Lebed in which the Security Council secretary had
threatened economic retaliation if NATO expands eastward (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 24 September 1996). Barkhatov termed the interview a
"falsification," designed to provoke "tension between Russia and NATO."
He said Lebed had never met Carey Schofield, the correspondent who wrote
the interview. The foreign editor of The Daily Telegraph defended the
interview, however, calling Barkhatov's denial "absurd" and adding that
Schofield had met twice with Lebed on 20 and 21 September. Lebed's staff
frequently clashes with the media, which they allege often misrepresents
the blunt former general's statements. -- Scott Parrish

LEBED WARNS OF "ARMED MUTINY." In an interview published in the 25
September issue of Vechernyaya Moskva, Lebed, alluding to widespread
wage arrears in the military, warned that "an armed mutiny may take
place this Autumn." Lebed blasted the government, headed by his
political rival Chernomyrdin, for failing to fund the military
adequately in its 1997 draft budget, saying, "they have decided to
conclusively undermine the armed forces." He termed the dire financial
situation of the military a "national disgrace," and accused the
Chernomyrdin government of "hiding its head in the sand." Suggesting
that his remarks are linked to the ongoing struggle to succeed the
seriously ill Yeltsin, Lebed claimed that he had a "plan" to remedy the
situation, but that only "the head of state" could implement it. --
Scott Parrish

POLL SHOWS PUBLIC TRUSTS LEBED MOST. Far more Russians trust Lebed than
any other politician, according to the latest poll by the All-Russian
Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VCIOM). Asked to name the five
or six politicians they trusted most, 34% of respondents named Lebed,
15% Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, and just 12% Yeltsin,
Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 24 September. Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii, Chernomyrdin, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov were all named
by 9% of respondents, while 25% said they did not trust any politicians.
-- Laura Belin

Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly canceled planned hearings on
the Chechnya conflict, the controversy over the presence of Chechen
separatists in Strasbourg dominated the opening day of the assembly's
fall session, RFE/RL reported on 24 September. Chechen representatives,
including separatist Foreign Minister Ruslan Chimaev, met behind closed
doors with the assembly's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
Committee chairman Birger Hagard said only human rights matters were
discussed. But Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin
blasted the assembly for allegedly interfering in Russia's internal
affairs and said the Russian delegation would now "re-evaluate its
relations and cooperation" with the committee. The official newspaper
Rossiiskie vesti on 25 September regretted that separatists had been
allowed to visit Strasbourg to spread "propaganda." -- Laura Belin

POW EXCHANGE FACES DIFFICULTIES. There will be numerous problems
completing a POW exchange in Chechnya, according to Rossiiskie vesti on
25 September. Of the 1,300 federal troops in custody, Chechen Chief of
Staff Aslan Maskhadov only claims to hold 250. About 200 are apparently
held by Chechen groups not subordinate to Maskhadov; others are working
as forced labor in Chechen villages in the mountains, or have deserted
the Russian military. Additionally, an unknown number have died. Of the
1,400 men the Chechens claim are held by Russia, some are in Russian
prisons for criminal offenses not necessarily connected to the war, some
are hiding from all governments and are not in Russian custody, while
many others have been killed in the fighting, the paper said. Thus,
Russia can only return a few individuals now, and it remains to be seen
if the Chechens will give up their prisoners without getting anyone in
exchange. -- Robert Orttung

told Izvestiya that news will remain a priority when his network begins
broadcasting around the clock in November or December, the paper
reported on 25 September. NTV will run news updates several times a day
and will extend the length of its current 10 p.m. news program from 30
minutes to one hour. Malashenko said NTV will retain some cultural and
educational programming produced by the state-run Russian TV company,
with which it has up to now shared broadcasting privileges on the fourth
channel. Meanwhile, NTV has dropped plans to launch an all-news
satellite channel later this year, Kommersant-Daily reported on 24
September. Four other satellite channels will go ahead, devoted to
sports, Russian films, foreign films, and children's programming (plans
for an all-music channel were also dropped). -- Laura Belin

PRIMAKOV ADDRESSES UN, MEETS CLINTON. Addressing the 51st session of the
UN General Assembly on 24 September, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov criticized plans to expand NATO, called for a continued
international peacekeeping presence in the former Yugoslavia, and
condemned what he termed the "illusion" that some countries had emerged
"victorious" from the Cold War while others were "defeated," Russian and
Western agencies reported. While the advance text of Primakov's speech
admitted that NATO would play a major role in assuring European
security, Primakov skipped that passage when delivering the speech,
instead emphasizing the importance of the OSCE. Primakov also met with
U.S. President Bill Clinton. Although ITAR-TASS said both men stressed
the importance of developing an "equal partnership," they apparently
made no progress toward resolving outstanding disputes such as selecting
the next UN secretary-general or fully lifting UN economic sanctions
against rump Yugoslavia. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA SIGNS NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY. Primakov joined his counterparts
from Britain, China, and France, and President Clinton in signing the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in New York on 24 September, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Primakov termed the treaty a "huge step"
toward achieving "disarmament, security, and stability." He urged "all
countries capable of producing nuclear arms" to sign it, a statement
aimed at India, which has refused to endorse the agreement unless it is
accompanied by a timetable for global nuclear disarmament The treaty,
which bans all test explosions of nuclear weapons, will enter into force
only after all 44 nations with known nuclear programs, including India,
have ratified it. By the end of the day, 71 states had signed the
treaty. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN REINSTATES VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR. President Yeltsin signed a decree
on 24 September canceling an earlier order removing Viktor Cherepkov
from the post of Vladivostok mayor, ITAR-TASS reported. Cherepkov became
Russia's first democratically elected mayor in July 1993, but in March
1994 he was accused of accepting bribes and was ousted from office by
Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko. Although the Procurator-
General's office cleared Cherepkov of wrongdoing, Yeltsin signed a
decree on 23 December 1994 sacking the mayor. Cherepkov challenged the
edict in court, winning his case in August, but Nazdratenko ignored the
ruling and pressed ahead with plans to hold new mayoral elections on 8
October. In a pointed rebuff to Nazdratenko, Yeltsin's press secretary
said that the projected elections were senseless as Cherepkov's term
does not run out until 1998. But the battle looks set to continue.
According to a 25 September ITAR-TASS report, the Vladivostok government
has announced plans to hold a referendum on 27 October on confidence in
Cherepkov. -- Penny Morvant

Committee on Property and Privatization, Pavel Bunich, suggested that
part of Russia's gold reserves should be sold to resolve the crisis over
the non-payment of wages, which he described as a "burning social
problem," ITAR-TASS reported on 24 September. Bunich also proposed
floating an additional 15 trillion rubles ($2.8 billion) issue of state
securities in 1997 and using the proceeds to pay wage arrears. He
pointed out that the government could also increase revenues by raising
the currently low rents on federal property. The government could also
allow some increase in the rate of inflation, which currently is far
below the IMF target level, Bunich said. -- Natalia Gurushina

REGIONS CRITICIZE BUDGET. At a conference of representatives of the
Urals, Siberian, and Far Eastern regions in Yekaterinburg to discuss the
1997 budget, Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel argued that the
draft budget discriminates against the regions, ITAR-TASS reported on 24
September. Rossel claimed that his oblast is in 12th place in tax
contributions, but only 67th in terms of per capita budget spending.
Governor of Perm Oblast Gennadii Igumnov asserted that the tax policy
neglects the financing of industry, while Anatolii Solovev, governor of
Kurgan Oblast, criticized the budget for failing to address the question
of repaying debts, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 25 September. The
chairman of the Duma budget committee, Mikhail Zadornov, described the
estimate in the draft budget on the increase in tax receipts as
optimistic and illusory. -- Ritsuko Sasaki


to data released at midday on 24 September by the Central Electoral
Commission, incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan received 52.32% of the votes
cast in the 22 September presidential election, while his principal
challenger Vazgen Manukyan gained 40.73%, Noyan Tapan reported. Voter
turnout was given at 58.25%. In Yerevan, with returns from one district
still outstanding, Manukyan's share of the vote was 53% compared with
41% for Ter-Petrossyan. Simon Osborn, who coordinated the OSCE/ODIHR
election monitoring mission, told a news conference on 24 September that
the 89 foreign observers had noted several flagrant violations,
including the theft of ballot boxes in one Yerevan precinct, but that
these were not of a magnitude to cast doubt on the overall results,
Western agencies reported. -- Liz Fuller

. . . BUT OPPOSITION CHALLENGES RESULTS. Representatives of the National
Accord opposition bloc supporting Manukyan staged demonstrations outside
the parliament and Central Electoral Commission buildings in Yerevan on
24 September to protest the alleged falsification of the election
results, Western agencies reported. At an evening rally in Manukyan's
support attended by some 120,000 people, the bloc issued a statement
calling on the international community to give an honest assessment of
the results, which were described as an attempted coup d'etat, Noyan
Tapan reported. In an interview with RFE/RL on 24 September, Manukyan,
whose proxies were present at the vote count in many electoral
precincts, said he would accept any election returns put out by the CEC
that tallied with those compiled by his own team. -- Liz Fuller

Irakli Menagharishvili told the UN General Assembly that "aggressive
separatism" should be punished by sanctions, in particular an arms
embargo, Reuters reported on 23 September. He claimed that despite
concessions from the Georgian government, it has been impossible for
Tbilisi to reach a political settlement with Sukhumi, and he called on
the UN Security Council to work out new measures to resolve the Abkhaz
conflict. Meanwhile, in Georgia itself, President Eduard Shevardnadze
called on Moscow to sever its ties with Abkhazia, except mediation
contacts, and likened Sukhumi's plans to hold elections in November
while some 250,000-300,000 inhabitants of Abkhazia are exiles to
"political sadism." -- Lowell Bezanis

Vladimir Kravchenko was killed at his home on 24 September, ITAR-TASS
reported. No motive or suspects have been identified. Kravchenko died
after being stabbed six times. -- Lowell Bezanis

Assembly of the Kyrgyz parliament on 24 September narrowly approved a
vote of confidence in its speaker, Mukar Cholponbayev, RFE/RL reported.
Cholponbayev was accused of corruption in connection with the 1995
transfer of 1.5 million som (about $125,000) to Ak-Shoumkar, a firm
owned by his wife. Cholponbayev barely received the necessary votes;
only 28 of the 35 deputies attended, 15 voted for the confidence motion,
11 against, and two abstained. The chairman of the committee
investigating the charges against Cholponbayev, Oktyabr Musulmakulov,
said that 3,202,000 som were transferred to Ak-Shoumkar and so far only
140,000 som had been returned. Cholponbayev promised all the funds would
be returned by 1 December this year. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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