Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 195, Part I, 8 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

YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL, MEETS STROEV. President Boris Yeltsin left the
Central Clinical Hospital on 7 October for the Barvikha sanitarium,
where he is to increase his work load, Rossiiskie vesti reported. In a
meeting with Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev, Yeltsin said that
the interests of all the residents of Chechnya, including Russians,
should be taken into account during the peace negotiations. Stroev
backed a peaceful resolution of the conflict but warned that Russia's
territorial integrity must be preserved. On the eve of the Federation
Council's 11th session, Yeltsin stressed the need to create a legal
basis for the country's economic and social reforms. -- Robert Orttung

INTERIOR MINISTER RENEWS ATTACKS ON LEBED . . . Anatolii Kulikov hit out
at Security Council Secretary Lebed on 7 October, accusing him of
associating with criminals. Kulikov said that Sergei Drobush, a Security
Council representative in Chechnya, was implicated in the embezzlement
of 200 million rubles in 1992. A Security Council spokesman denied that
Drobush had been an employee of the council, but admitted that he used
on one occasion as a mediator in the Chechen negotiations, Kommersant-
Daily reported. Kulikov and Lebed have been bitter foes since Lebed
called for the interior minister's resignation over Chechnya. In the
Duma last week, Kulikov argued that the Khasavurt agreements were based
on lies and could lead only to further armed conflicts, while Lebed said
the attempt to resolve the Chechen problem forcibly had led to a blood
bath, Russian Television (RTR) reported on 5 October. On 7 October,
Kulikov refuted Lebed's estimate of the Chechen death toll, saying
civilian deaths amounted to 18,500 not 80,000. He argued that "the myth
of Russia's military defeat" was aimed at destabilizing the political
situation. -- Penny Morvant

. . . DISCUSSES CRIME SITUATION. Kulikov said that the number of crimes
recorded during the first nine months of the year dropped by 4.5%
compared with the same period last year and that the police's rate of
solved crimes has improved, ITAR-TASS reported. Concerning problems
within the law enforcement agencies, he said more than 72,000 Interior
Ministry employees have been dismissed for "unacceptable behavior" and
that 600 police officers have been charged with corruption. Returning to
the theme of Chechnya, Kulikov claimed that leaders of rebel factions
had decided to send armed groups to Moscow to establish control over
commercial banks and businesses that had earlier been under the
"protection" of Chechen mobs. He warned that bloody turf wars could
result between Russian and Chechen gangs. -- Penny Morvant

LUZHKOV GOES ON THE OFFENSIVE. In an interview with Komsomolskaya pravda
published on 8 October, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov had sharp words for
leading government officials, ITAR-TASS reported. He described
presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais as "dangerous" because he
is "striving to concentrate in his hands powers which have never been
the prerogative of the chief of staff, and is trying to influence the
situation in the regions on the eve of local elections." Luzhkov also
criticized Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, saying that he lacks
strategic vision and is pandering to the energy sector, while failing to
impose tax discipline. Luzhkov supported Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home
Is Russia, in the December 1995 election. He now seems to be trying to
establish himself as a candidate for the presidency. -- Peter Rutland

WORKERS' RUSSIA SPLITS IN TWO. Several speakers at the fifth congress of
the Workers' Russia movement on 5-6 October called for creating a united
communist party in Russia, but such efforts seem destined to fail,
judging from events at the congress. Supporters and opponents of the
movement's longtime leader, Viktor Anpilov, came to blows as some
delegates demanded Anpilov's expulsion, Russian media reported.
Anpilov's opponents on 6 October broke off and elected their own
Workers' Russia executive committee, while loyalists unanimously re-
elected Anpilov and confirmed his role as editor-in-chief of the
newspaper Molniya. One of the most prominent figures on Russia's far
left wing, Anpilov drew criticism for supporting the presidential bid of
Gennadii Zyuganov, whom many radical communists viewed as too moderate.
The Russian Communist Workers' Party sacked Anpilov as head of its
Moscow branch in July and expelled him altogether in September. -- Laura
Belin

KEMEROVO ELECTION POSTPONED. The gubernatorial election in Kemerovo
Oblast will be postponed until next year, ITAR-TASS reported on 7
October, citing First Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff Aleksandr
Kazakov. Kazakov argued that the oblast cannot elect a governor because
there is no regional legislature to adopt an electoral law. The
legislature could not muster a quorum to extend its term, which expired
in March, or call an election. President Yeltsin issued a decree in July
setting a new legislature election for December. Kazakov said that the
gubernatorial election, which was also to be held in December, will take
place once the new legislature adopts a law. Incumbent Governor Mikhail
Kislyuk will probably face two opponents who are currently Duma members:
Teimuraz Avaliani, the leader of the local Communists, and Viktor
Medikov, a "democrat" popular in the southern part of the oblast, RTR
reported. Observers expect a tight race. -- Robert Orttung

PENSIONERS PROTEST IN NORTH OSSETIYA. Pensioners in the North Ossetiyan
capital of Vladikavkaz rallied on 6 October to protest a four-month
delay in the payment of their pensions, Radio Rossii reported. They also
called for the resignation of the government and the re-establishment of
the USSR. Demonstrations by pensioners have become a relatively common
occurrence in many areas of Russia because of the indebtedness of the
Russian Pension Fund. According to ITAR-TASS on 7 October, the fund now
owes pensioners 13.3 trillion rubles ($2.5 billion), including 300
billion owed since July and 4 trillion since August. The debt is now
higher than the fund's monthly outgoings, which totaled 12.4 trillion in
September. The fund is owed 40 trillion rubles by enterprises and 12.8
trillion by the Finance Ministry, according to fund official Andrei
Tyshko. -- Penny Morvant

TEACHERS PROTESTS CONTINUE. Teachers in many Russian regions staged
protests on 7 October to demand the payment of wage arrears, reliable
state funding for education, and constitutional recognition of the
government's responsibility for education, ITAR-TASS reported. Similar
protests occurred on 4 October. According to the teachers' union, wage
arrears topped 3.4 trillion rubles ($630 million) on 1 October. Many
teachers in Arkhangelsk, Irkutsk, Pskov, and Chita Oblasts have not been
paid for seven months. Strikes have been held at 3,300 educational
establishments over the past six months, and 578 schools failed to begin
the new school year on 2 September. -- Penny Morvant

LEBED: RUSSIA OPPOSES NATO EXPANSION, BUT WITHOUT "HYSTERICS." Emerging
from talks with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana in Brussels on 7
October, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed declared that Russia
continues to oppose NATO expansion but added that Moscow will "not go
into hysterics" if the alliance accepts new members. Lebed said Russia
acknowledges the "legal" right of East European countries to join NATO
but warned against conflating "juridical legitimacy with political
expediency," and repeated President Yeltsin's proposal that a Russia-
NATO agreement detailing the alliance's relationship with Moscow be
signed prior to any decision on expansion, a position NATO officials
reject. Lebed added that NATO expansion should be left to "the next
generation," which would be free of the Cold War's "confrontation
mentality." Although refusing to give details of the "new proposals" on
Russia-NATO cooperation which he discussed with Solana, Lebed said they
involved creating a framework for joint decision-making. -- Scott
Parrish

MOSCOW POSTURES OVER BALTIC TIES WITH CHECHNYA. In recent meetings with
the Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian ambassadors, Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov threatened that Moscow will sever diplomatic
relations with any country that recognizes Chechnya as an independent
state, RTR reported on 7 October. The report, based on remarks made by
Sergei Stepashin, head of the Russian government's administrative
department (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 October 1996), noted that the
Foreign Ministry refused to either confirm or deny the story but claimed
that Baltic diplomats had confirmed it. Estonian and Latvian diplomats
told BNS, however, that their ambassadors have not discussed Chechnya
with Russian officials for nearly a month, although they acknowledged
being cautioned earlier against recognizing Chechnya. Both officials
denied any plans to recognize Chechnya. The public support for Chechen
independence expressed by some Latvian and Estonian politicians is a
source of irritation for Moscow. -- Scott Parrish

GOVERNMENT TO RESTRUCTURE MONOPOLIES. Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin
announced that the government plans to present a restructuring program
for the gas industry by the end of this year, ITAR-TASS reported on 7
October. The ministry is setting up a special committee to draw up plans
for a reorganization of the monopolistic industries, which include the
gas, energy, railway, and communication sectors. Yasin said the energy
industry should not continue to raise prices and tariffs, but must cut
production and administration costs. Yasin said that the government does
not intend to forcibly break up Gazprom, but will devise a restructuring
plan that will guarantee competition and more effective administration.
-- Ritsuko Sasaki

RUSSIAN BONDS RATED INVESTMENT GRADE. Finance Minister Aleksandr
Livshits told a Moscow briefing on 7 October that Russian government
bonds have been awarded a 2B grade by the three leading international
credit rating agencies, NTV reported. Livshits said that the 2B group
includes India, Mexico, and Hungary, and places Russian state bonds
ahead of those from Turkey, Venezuela, or Brazil. Livshits said, "It is
true that we have a bad reputation as a persistent debtor, but a 2B
rating in our pocket will reduce the harm this causes." This clears the
way for Russia to issue long-term Eurobonds later this year, presumably
at interest rates lower than the 55-70% required on the domestic
treasury bill (GKO) market. Russia's international debts total some $130
billion, including old Soviet debts plus another $19 billion acquired
since 1991. Russia is late in paying interest, let alone principal
repayments, on this debt, so the favorable bond rating is surprising. --
Peter Rutland

CORRECTION. An item titled "Confusion over Chechnya" in the OMRI Daily
Digest, Vol. 2, No. 194, 7 October 1996 incorrectly attributed a comment
to Sergei Shakhrai. In fact, Sergei Stepashin, who heads the Russian
government's administrative department, made the comment.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

"NO ALTERNATIVE" TO WAR IN ABKHAZIA? The chairman of the Abkhaz
parliament in exile, Tamaz Nadareishvili, said in Tbilisi on 4 October
that Georgia should suspend further negotiations on ratifying the
agreement on Russian military bases in Georgia, BGI reported. He said
the suspension would expedite the withdrawal from the Georgian-Abkhaz
border of Russian peacekeeping troops and their replacement with an
international force. He further called on Interpol to issue warrants for
the arrest of Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba and his associates.
Nadareishvili claimed that there is a faction within the Georgian
parliament that shares his view that Tbilisi would have to go to war to
restore its hegemony over Abkhazia. The director of Russia's Institute
of Migration and Diaspora Affairs, former State Duma deputy Konstantin
Zatulin, has advocated the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from
Abkhazia if both Tbilisi and Sukhumi agree to this, according to BGI. --
Liz Fuller

NEW ROUND OF KARABAKH DIPLOMACY. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev on 3
October criticized the OSCE Minsk group for having accomplished nothing
beyond declarations in the two years since the 1994 OSCE Budapest
summit, Turan reported the following day. Aliev, who was meeting with
representatives of the group, condemned the organization's "failure to
explain to Armenia that the Armenian community of Karabakh will not
receive the status of an independent state." He also reiterated his
criticism of Russia's "one-sided" approach to the conflict. On 4
October, the OSCE delegation traveled to Stepanakert for talks with the
president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Noyan
Tapan reported on 7 October. The Minsk conference co-chairmen, Heikki
Talvitie and Valentin Lozinskii, called for a quick settlement of
political negotiations on the conflict before the December OSCE summit
in Lisbon. -- Liz Fuller

TALIBAN EXTENDING OLIVE BRANCH? A spokesman for the Taliban movement
claims that Central Asia has nothing to fear from the group that now
controls most of Afghanistan, Rusian Public TV (ORT) reported on 7
October. The acting foreign minister of the Taliban, Muhammed Ghous,
called upon the UN "to convince Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakstan, and
Kyrgyzstan not to meddle in Afghanistan's internal affairs and the
Taliban for their part will not interfere in the affairs of other
countries." A radio broadcast originating in Pakistan on 6 October
announced that the Taliban would soon send representatives to the
Central Asian states as a demonstration of the group's "brotherly love"
for the region, Radio Rossii reported on 6 October. However, Ghous
reportedly said "we do not want Russia to forget the lesson they were
taught here," referring to the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan
in the 1980s. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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