This is the true nature of home-- it is the place of Peace; the shelter, not only from injury, but from all terror, doubt and division. - John Ruskin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 191, Part I, 2 October 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

RODIONOV URGES INCREASED MILITARY FUNDING . . . Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov told a Moscow press conference on 1 October that the 98.7
trillion rubles ($18 billion) allocated to the armed forces in the draft
1997 budget will cover only one-third of the military's needs, Russian
and Western agencies reported. While denying that a military rebellion
was likely, Rodionov said that if the government fails to resolve the
military's financial problems, especially chronic wage arrears,
"undesirable, uncontrollable processes" may begin. He added that "Russia
may lose its armed forces as an integrated and militarily effective
state structure." The Defense Minister argued that military reform,
including a reduction in the armed forces personnel from 1.5 to 1.2
million, was ready to proceed, but could not move ahead without
sufficient funding. He also expressed doubts that the military could
make the change to an all-professional force by 2000, as President Boris
Yeltsin ordered in May, saying that 2005 was more realistic. -- Scott
Parrish

. . . YELTSIN CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT RESPONSE. At a meeting in the Central
Clinical Hospital the same day, Yeltsin ordered Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to convene a special cabinet meeting to discuss the
financing of the military, ITAR-TASS and ORT reported. He also told
Chernomrydin to chair a session of the Defense Council on 4 October to
discuss military reform and other security issues. The meeting will be
the first for the council, which Yeltsin created in July. Kommersant-
Daily on October 2 said the sweeping proposed agenda for the session
again raised the question of the relationship between the Defense
Council and the Security Council. -- Scott Parrish

GAZPROM BATTLES THE TAX MAN. Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev addressed a
letter to the Duma on 1 October protesting recent actions by the tax
authorities against his company, including the freezing of some bank
accounts, AFP and Kommersant-Daily reported. Gazprom owes 15 trillion
rubles ($2.8 billion) in tax arrears -- but is in turn owed 48 trillion
by its customers. Vyakhirev pointedly noted that Gazprom is refraining
from cutting off supplies to these debtors -- which include Moscow, St.
Petersburg, Bashkortostan, and Tatarstan. The IMF has been urging the
government to break up Gazprom into half a dozen smaller companies, and
ORT commented that Gazprom sees the tax actions as part of a "consistent
effort by certain unnamed state officials to destroy Gazprom in its
present form." The Duma is set to discuss the 1997 budget draft later
this week, and could be a useful ally for Gazprom. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIA SETS RECORD IN JOURNALIST DEATHS. Russia set a "shameful record"
of 34 journalists killed or missing in 1995, according to Pavel
Gutiontov, chairman of the Committee for Defending Freedom of Speech and
Journalists' Rights, RTR and ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October. According
to a report from the International Federation of Journalists, more than
half of the 61 journalists killed worldwide in 1995 were from Russia.
Gutiontov noted that the number of deaths per year had risen sharply
since 1991, when two Russian journalists were killed and two were
missing. Furthermore, he said, investigations of such cases are usually
carried out by the victims' families and colleagues rather than law
enforcement agencies. Gutiontov also criticized editors, who he said
often send their correspondents to "hot spots" like Chechnya without
providing them with life insurance. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN CALLS FOR CIS SUMMIT ON AFGHANISTAN. President Yeltsin told
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin on 1 October to contact the leaders of the
other CIS states to suggest a CIS summit to review the situation in
Afghanistan, Russian and Western agencies reported. Meanwhile, Security
Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed told a press conference that Afghan's
Taliban movement, which recently seized Kabul, plans to move north into
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Lebed warned that if the Taliban, "backed by
Pakistan," combines forces with the Tajik opposition operating in
northern Afghanistan, they could easily "sweep away Russian border posts
in Tajikstan, and the road to the north across the plains will be open."
He urged that Russia support various Afghan warlords who still might
block the Taliban from seizing control of north Afghanistan. -- Scott
Parrish

CHERNOYMYRDIN, LEBED, DENOUNCE NATO EXPANSION. Speaking after a meeting
in Geneva with Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cottii, Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin reaffirmed Russian opposition to NATO enlargment,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 1 October. Chernomyrdin
cautioned against "gambling" with European stability by enlarging the
alliance. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed said that NATO expansion "would again lead to hostility and
confrontation," since it was clearly directed against Russia. Moscow
could respond, he warned "with rusty, but still existing missiles."
European security could be more effectively and cheaply bolstered by
increasing Western economic aid to Russia rather than enlarging NATO, he
suggested. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN, BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT LEADERS MEET. Russian State Duma Speaker
Gennadii Seleznev and Belarusian Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon
Sharetsky met in Moscow on 1 October to discuss the planned 24 October
session of the parliamentary assembly of the Russo-Belarusian community,
ITAR-TASS reported. At a subsequent press conference, the two
politicians expressed the hope that Ukraine would join the community,
although Kyiv has shown no interest in doing so. Seleznev expressed
solidarity with his Belarusian counterpart in the ongoing political
struggle over constitutional reform in Belarus, saying the Duma supports
"the Belarusian parliamentarians in their fight for a truly real power
of parliament." Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, by contrast,
told journalists the same day that Russia shoud support Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who he said "is trying to save the
country from crisis." -- Scott Parrish

MINERS STRIKE IN VORKUTA. Heeding a call from the Independent Miners
Union, miners from 11 pits in Vorkuta staged a one-day strike on 1
October to protest wage arrears and to call for the full implementation
of a decree issued by President Yeltsin on resolving the problems of the
Pechora coal basin, ITAR-TASS reported. In the run-up to the
presidential election in May, Yeltsin ordered the elimination of the
wage debt to miners in the Arctic region and increased social benefits.
Like many other such promises, these have not been kept. Thousands of
other workers from state-funded organizations reportedly joined miners
in a mass rally. The same day, the leader of the Russian Coal-Industry
Workers' Union announced that its members plan to hold a nationwide
strike on 5 November to protest wage arrears totalling 2.7 trillion
rubles (as of 10 September). -- Penny Morvant

SCIENTISTS PROTEST STATE DEBTS. Dozens of Russian scientists have
threatened to join two of their colleagues already on a hunger strike if
the government does not pay its debt to scientific institutions by 10
October, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October. Representatives of the trade
union of the Russian Academy of Sciences said scientists are also
planning to rally in Moscow and several other cities in mid-October.
Moscow scientists Vladimir Strakhov and Igor Naumenko-Bondarenko went on
a hunger strike on 30 September. According to Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Fortov, the government debt to the scientific sector totals 3
trillion rubles. He said that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had
agreed that the state would pay 250 billion rubles to the Academy by the
end of the year. -- Penny Morvant

AIRCRAFT DISPUTE SETTLED. Aeroflot and the government of Tatarstan have
settled the dispute over the airline's purchase of 10 Boeing 737-400s,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 1-2 October. Aeroflot Chairman Yevgenii
Shaposhnikov said that his company will go on with the Boeing deal but
in the future would agree to buy a new Russian-made aircraft, the TU-
214, which is manufactured in Kazan, provided its safety standards
improve. It is likely that the new aircraft will be fitted with Rolls
Royce RB211-535E4 engines instead of domestic PS-90 engines. Aeroflot's
decision in September to buy the U.S. aircraft could have been partly
motivated by the fact that foreign manufacturers sell airplanes on
credit, whereas Russian firms often demand payments in cash up front. --
Natalia Gurushina

BUDGET DEFICIT RECORDED IN THE FIRST SEVEN MONTHS OF 1996. In the first
seven months of this year the federal budget deficit reached 51.3
trillion rubles ($9.5 billion), or 4.3% of GDP, ITAR-TASS reported on 2
October, citing the State Statistical Committee. This is above the 3.85%
limit initially agreed to with the IMF (both numbers using Russian
methodology). Some 55% of the deficit was covered by the issuance of
state securities, and 45% by external financing. Tax arrears totaled
48.1 trillion rubles. Meanwhile, the Yabloko Duma faction submitted an
alternative version of the 1997 budget, Radio Rossii reported on 1
October. They suggest separating the functions of the Finance and
Treasury ministries. The Finance Ministry is supposed to prepare the
budget and pass it to the treasury, while the latter should be held
responsible for the budget's execution. A major problem for spending
ministries this year was the Finance Ministry's refusal to release funds
allotted in the budget. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MANUKYAN ABJURES VIOLENCE. In an interview broadcast by Russian Public
TV (ORT) on 1 October, defeated Armenian presidential candidate Vazgen
Maukyan, who is currently in hiding, stated that he favors a political,
rather than a violent solution to the problems facing the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on 1 October, the chairman of
the Central Electoral Commission, Khachatour Bezirjian, denied that
there had been major irregularities during the 22 September presidential
poll. Also on 1 October, U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns
expressed concern at reports that up to 250 Armenians have been detained
following the 25 September attack by Manukyan's supporters on the
Armenian parliament building, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA CONCERNED OVER SHEVARDNADZE'S STANCE ON BASES. The Russian
Foreign Ministry is concerned with Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze's continued insistence that ratification by the Georgian
parliament of the 1994 treaty allowing Russia to maintain military bases
in Georgia is contingent on the restoration of Tbilisi's rule over the
disputed region of Abkhazia, AFP reported on 1 October quoting an
unidentified Russian diplomat. Shevardnadze is under increasing domestic
pressure to resolve the issue of Abkhazia's status within Georgia. --
Liz Fuller

RUSSIA DEBT TO KAZAKSTAN FOR BAIKONUR GROWS. Russia's debt to Kazakstan
for leasing the Baikonur cosmodrome has reached $445 million, AFP
reported on 1 October, quoting Kazakstani Deputy Prime Minister
Nigmadjan Issiguarin. Baikonur is still Russia's major launching site.
Under a bilateral agreement signed in 1994 and ratified by Russia in
April 1996, Moscow is supposed to pay $115 million a year over 20 years
to lease the site. However, no payments have been made. Russian
officials say the arrears are being set against Kazakstan's debt to
Russia for energy and other supplies, which amounts to some $1 billion.
-- Natalia Gurushina

MORE ON NIYAZOV IN BAYRAM-ALI . . . During his 27 September speech to
senior legislators in Bayram-Ali, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad
Niyazov said he expected the country's economy to grow 50-60% in the
next five years, according to a BBC-monitored 28 September Turkmen Press
report. He predicted that 110 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 10
million metric tons of oil will be extracted yearly during this period,
most large and medium-sized firms will be privatized next year, and that
both the metallurgical plant in Mari and the Iranian-Turkmen gas
pipeline would be finished the following year. Niyazov also noted that
annual inflation is to remain within a 10-15% band and up to 60% of the
state budget will go to social spending. -- Lowell Bezanis

. . . AND TURKMENISTAN'S MILITARY DOCTRINE. Turkmenistan's Peoples'
Council [Khalk Maslakhati] made public a document which elaborates on
the country's military doctrine to insure that it conforms with the
"permanent neutrality" envisaged in its constitution, ITAR-TASS reported
on 1 October. According to the text published by the agency,
Turkmenistan regards no country as its enemy, it eschews participation
in any military blocs, alliances or "inter-state coalitions with rigid
obligations or contemplating collective responsibility." This language
would appear to preclude participation not only in CIS, but nascent
inter-Central Asian, security arrangements as well. The text
specifically states that Turkmenistan will not host foreign military
bases. While there are no Russian bases in Turkmenistan, the Turkmen
border is currently patrolled by Russian troops under contract. --
Lowell Bezanis

TAJIKISTAN IMPACTED BY TURMOIL IN AFGHANISTAN. Recent events in
Afghanistan have started a flurry of diplomatic and military activity in
Central Asia, particularly in Tajikistan. Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov sent an appeal to the UN and "to world powers" asking for a
political settlement in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September.
Along the Tajik-Afghan border the situation remains tense. Russian
sources on 1 October reported the deaths of four more Russian border
guards in fighting near Kalai-Khumb. Radio Rossii, also on 1 October,
reported that the estimated 300 fighters of the Tajik opposition, massed
in Afghanistan opposite border guard positions, have been joined by
"bands of Afghan Mojahedin" and now number 1,500. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

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