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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 188, Part I, 27 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

LEBED RENEWS WARNINGS OF MUTINY. At a press conference marking his 100th
day as Security Council secretary, Aleksandr Lebed again warned that the
Russian military "is practically on the brink of mutiny" because of
severe financial problems, Russian and Western media reported on 26
September. He declared that "it requires a huge effort for [the army] to
restrain itself." He ruled out a military coup attempt, however, adding
that "we are not Argentina, thank God." This comment provoked the
Argentine Foreign Ministry to call in a Russian diplomat in Buenos Aires
and express its "displeasure." Meanwhile, the executive committee of the
Federation of Trade Unions of Employees and Servicemen of the Russian
Armed Forces issued a strike warning effective from 1 October. Spartak
Arzhavkin, the union's chairman, said the Defense Ministry now owes some
10 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) in back wages to servicemen and
employees. In an interview published in Krasnaya zvezda on 27 September,
Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits said that as an emergency measure
one trillion rubles is being released to the Defense Ministry. -- Scott
Parrish

CABINET DISCUSSES BUDGET, ARMY FINANCING. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin told a cabinet meeting on 26 September that ministers
should not lobby in the Duma for extra funds, but should present a
united front in support of the 1997 budget draft, Russian Television
(RTR) reported. He said a special government commission will be created
to deal with financing the Defense Ministry and other power ministries
in 1996 and 1997, chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir
Potanin. The commission will negotiate the level of financing for the
armed forces in the 1997 budget and address the problems of indebtedness
and non-payments. Chernomyrdin accused some regional authorities of
charging defense ministry installations energy and transport fees higher
than the Russian average, according to Kommersant-Daily. On the other
hand, the Defense Ministry itself owes some 5 trillion rubles to
companies from which they ordered equipment. -- Natalia Gurushina and
Peter Rutland

MASKHADOV, BASAEV AIM TO MAINTAIN ORDER IN CHECHNYA. Addressing Chechen
field commanders during the night of 25-26 September, Chief of Staff
Aslan Maskhadov identified as his most important tasks the disarmament
of all clan formations in order to preclude intra-Chechen clashes, the
neutralization of armed robbers posing as resistance fighters who
discredit the Chechen side, and assisting the smooth withdrawal from
Chechnya of Russian federal troops, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported.
Speaking on Grozny TV on 26 September, field commander Shamil Basaev
accused the Russian security services of trying to sow dissent among the
various Chechen factions. Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed on 27 September flew from Moscow to the Ingush capital, Nazran,
where he will meet with the leaders of the North Caucasus republics.
According to NTV, Maskhadov and acting Chechen president Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev will represent Chechnya at this meeting; pro-Moscow Chechen
head of state Doku Zavgaev is not invited. -- Liz Fuller

SUPREME COURT DENIES RUTSKOI REGISTRATION APPEAL. The Supreme Court on
26 September rejected former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's appeal
to allow him to register as a candidate for the 20 October Kursk Oblast
gubernatorial elections, NTV reported. Rutskoi plans to appeal to the
Supreme Court's presidium. The local electoral commission rejected his
registration on the grounds that he has not been a resident of the
oblast for the past year. Rutskoi, who has the support of the Communist
Party, blamed his failure on the incumbent governor's efforts to keep
him out of the race and his belief that the "law does not function" in
Russia today. -- Robert Orttung

KHANTY-MANSI WITHDRAWS FROM TYUMEN OBLAST. The Khanty-Mansi Autonomous
Okrug Duma voted on 25 September to ignore a presidential decree
ordering it to hold elections for the Tyumen Oblast governor
simultaneously with the election of the Khanty-Mansi governor, RIA-
Novosti, as monitored by the BBC, reported. The problem arises from the
fact that both the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrugs are
within the territory of Tyumen Oblast even though they all have equal
status as units of the Russian Federation (See OMRI Russian Regional
Report, 25 September 1996). All three units should vote for the Tyumen
Oblast governor, but the Khanty-Mansi decision, combined with a similar
action by Yamal-Nenets on 19 September, means that the two areas, rich
in oil and gas, have effectively withdrawn from Tyumen Oblast and
declared themselves independent. The Tyumen elections are set for 27
October. -- Robert Orttung

NAZDRATENKO REINSTATES OUSTED VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR. Primorskii Krai
Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko on 26 September removed Vladivostok Mayor
Konstantin Tolstoshein from office, in accordance with a presidential
decree reinstating his predecessor Viktor Cherepkov, ORT and ITAR-TASS
reported. Tolstoshein accused presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii
Chubais and Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) leader Yegor Gaidar of
using the conflict in Vladivostok to further their own political aims.
Chubais and Nazdratenko have long been at odds, and Cherepkov is a high-
ranking member of Gaidar's party. The presidential representative in
Primore, Vladimir Ignatenko, said he also did not agree with the
decision to reinstate Cherepkov, Kommersant-Daily reported on 27
September. Meanwhile, workers at the Primorskii power plant at
Luchegorsk were expected to end their 24-day-old hunger strike on 27
September after 180 billion rubles ($33 million) arrived in the krai to
pay back wages to workers in the Dalenergo power company, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Laura Belin

KUZBASS FORMS PUBLIC SALVATION COMMITTEES. Public Salvation Committees
are being set up on a voluntary basis to deal with the economic
emergency caused by payments arrears in mining towns of Kemerovo Oblast,
ITAR-TASS reported on 27 September. The first committee appeared in
Prokopevsk, whose 300,000 residents are mainly dependent on the coal
industry. The debts of the coal company Rosugol have devastated the
local budget, which cannot afford to pay public employees such as
doctors and teachers. The city's Salvation Committee has sent a telegram
to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin asking him to resolve the
situation. Earlier this week, Kemerovo Oblast officials and union
leaders said the area had yet to receive its share of the first half of
a $500 million World Bank loan to the coal industry, contending that the
Finance Ministry had spent it on other needs. -- Penny Morvant and
Ritsuko Sasaki

NOVODVORSKAYA TRIAL BEGINS. Valeriya Novodvorskaya, leader of the
radical Democratic Union, went on trial in Moscow for allegedly
spreading hatred towards people of Russian nationality, Russian media
reported on 26 September. The case against Novodvorskaya (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 15 April 1996) consists of an interview with Estonian
television, in which she ascribed "laziness, poverty, spinelessness, and
slavery" to the Russian mentality, and articles she wrote in Novyi
vzglyad in 1993 and 1994, which suggested that a "manic-depressive
psychosis" is a typical Russian trait. Her defenders claim the articles
were merely political satire and that her accusers, including a 20-year
veteran of the KGB, have a score to settle with the longtime dissident.
The Russian PEN center issued a statement comparing the "fabricated"
case against Novodvorskaya to political trials of the Soviet period,
Ekspress-khronika reported. -- Laura Belin

RODIONOV: NO STRATEGIC NECESSITY FOR NATO EXPANSION. Russian Defense
Minister Igor Rodionov met with his NATO counterparts in Bergen, Norway
on 26 September to discuss the alliance's proposed enlargement and the
future of the Bosnian peace implementation force (IFOR), Russian and
Western media reported. While NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana
described the talks as "very positive," little apparent progress was
made on the NATO expansion issue. Rodionov argued that, since the West
acknowledges that Russia now presents no military threat, there is no
"strategic necessity" for the alliance to expand. He reiterated that
"despite all attempts to justify NATO expansion, our public opposes this
idea." Departing from some earlier Russian statements, however, Rodionov
said Moscow would continue to cooperate with NATO, even if it expanded.
He added that Russia will participate in a follow-on force to IFOR if
the UN Security Council extends its mandate. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, U.S., NORWAY SIGN ARCTIC ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT. While in
Bergen, Rodionov and his American and Norwegian counterparts, William
Perry and Jorgen Kosmo, signed an agreement creating a $2 million Arctic
Military Environmental Cooperation program to deal with radioactive
waste from decommissioned Russian naval nuclear reactors, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 26 September. Norway and Russian
environmentalists have long expressed concern about the safety of
decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines based in Murmansk Oblast. On
the same day, Lebed said two-thirds of these submarines were in
"dangerous condition," and that three of them were leaking
radioactivity. -- Scott Parrish

ZAVERYUKHA SUGGESTS NEW MEASURES TO SUPPORT AGRICULTURE. Deputy Prime
Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha has suggested the creation of a new fund
to support the agro-industrial complex, RTR reported on 25 September. To
raise money for farm credits, Zaveryukha proposed increasing customs
duties on all imported foodstuffs by 20%, introducing a tax on
operations with foreign currency, and increasing excise taxes on
domestic consumer goods. He also supported the government's 21 September
decision to introduce quotas on vodka imports in 1997. -- Natalia
Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CONFUSION, CRACKDOWN IN YEREVAN. The situation in Yerevan on 26-27
September remained tense and confused: tanks were deployed in the city
center and troops dispersed groups of bystanders, according to The New
York Times of 27 September. RFE/RL reported that main roads into Yerevan
are blocked and that some classes at Yerevan State University have been
suspended. It is not clear whether criminal charges have been formally
filed against the eight opposition deputies whose immunity was lifted by
an almost unanimous parliamentary vote on 26 September. Also unclear is
the fate of opposition presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan: reports
of his arrest on 26 September were based on a case of mistaken identity,
according to RFE/RL, and an Interior Ministry spokesman claimed that he
is in hiding. Reuters quoted Central Electoral Commission Chairman
Khachatour Bezirjian as stating that Manukyan, as a presidential
candidate, has immunity from arrest until 29 September. The CEC is
investigating claims of malpractice during the vote count at 20
precincts, according to RFE/RL. The presidents of Russia, Georgia,
Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan have all congratulated President
Levon Ter-Petrossyan on his reelection, RTR reported. -- Liz Fuller

SHEVARDNADZE CANCELS TRIP TO UN. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
will not after all travel to New York to attend the UN General Assembly,
his press spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze told ITAR-TASS on 26 September.
Abashidze attributed Shevardnadze's decision to internal tensions
arising from the decisions of the South Ossetiyan and Abkhaz parliaments
to hold presidential and parliamentary elections respectively. Also on
26 September, the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz parliament- in-exile voted for
the withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces from Abkhazia and against
any further Georgian participation in Russian-mediated negotiations on
solving the Abkhaz problem unless a breakthrough is achieved in the near
future, Radio Mayak reported. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN DUMA DELEGATION IN BAKU. Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev
told a Russian State Duma delegation on 26 September that he favors
closer cooperation in all spheres on a mutually favorable basis, Turan
reported. Aliev accused the Russian leadership of double standards in
insisting that Chechnya is a constituent part of the Russian Federation
but allegedly not adhering to the same argument with regard to Nagorno-
Karabakh; he said that Russia is uniquely placed to effect a solution of
the Karabakh conflict but is not yet using all the means at its disposal
to do so. -- Liz Fuller

DEMONSTRATION IN ALMATY. Between 60 and 70 scholars, writers and members
of political movements staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the
Kazakstani parliament building on 26 September, RFE/RL reported. The
rally was organized by the Azamat and Kazak Tili (Kazak language)
movements and demonstrators demanded that a draft law giving the Russian
language equal status to Kazak not be adopted. Karavan Blitz reported on
24 September that Russian nationalists claim that adopting the law still
does not go far enough to prevent discrimination against the Russian
population, while Kazak national movements say the law goes too far.
Under the present constitution, Kazak is the only official language. --
Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

MOSCOW, DUSHANBE ON FALL OF KABUL. Taliban fighters took control of
Kabul on 26 September, causing immediate anxiety in Moscow and Dushanbe.
Moscow registered its serious concern and called for a cessation of
hostilities, Russian media reported. Dushanbe and the Russian border
guards in Tajikistan made it clear they still support the government of
Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, RTR reported the same day. Moscow
has widely been viewed as a supporter of Rabbani and the forces allied
to him -- who were Moscow's staunchest opponents during the Soviet
occupation of Afghanistan. The latest developments represent a blow to
Moscow and Dushanbe's efforts to neutralize the Tajik opposition based
in Afghanistan. -- Lowell Bezanis and Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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