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

No. 196, Part I, 9 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

CHERNOMYRDIN, FEDERATION COUNCIL BACK PEACE IN CHECHNYA BUT NOT
INDEPENDENCE. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 8 October
effectively undermined the 31 August Khasavyurt agreement on Chechnya by
telling the Federation Council that he supported negotiations that would
keep the republic inside the Russian Federation, NTV reported. The
agreement postpones a decision on Chechen independence for five years.
Chernomyrdin said that he did not share Interior Minister Anatolii
Kulikov's criticism of Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's
activities in Chechnya, but said he viewed the Khasavyurt agreement that
Lebed signed as having no legal force. The Federation Council also
adopted a statement that backed the Khasavyurt agreement for ending the
fighting but also stressed that Chechnya must remain a part of Russia,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 9 October. Chechen fighters seeking
independence may see these moves as further evidence of Moscow's double-
dealing with them. -- Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKII ON CLANS, LEBED. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said
Russia currently has three governments, led by Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, and Security
Council Secretary Lebed, Russian media reported on 8 October. He said
the infighting in the executive branch was not a "political battle" so
much as a "battle among clans for influence and access to budget funds."
The Yabloko leader noted that his party supports Lebed on Chechnya
policy but not necessarily on other matters. (Yavlinskii tried
unsuccessfully to negotiate an electoral alliance with Lebed last
spring.) Meanwhile, Democratic Russia co-leader Galina Starovoitova
called on Russia's democrats to support Lebed's peacemaking efforts in
Chechnya, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin

ELECTORAL COMMISSION CALLS FOR NEW LAW ON CAMPAIGN FINANCING. Members of
the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), including chairman Nikolai
Ryabov, called on parliament to pass a special law to improve compliance
with Russia's campaign financing regulations, ITAR-TASS reported on 8
October. TsIK member Viktor Karpunov noted that all 11 presidential
candidates violated at least one of the regulations. According to
official TsIK figures, President Yeltsin spent about 14.4 billion rubles
($2.8 million) during the campaign, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Aleksandr
Lebed about 14 billion rubles each, and Gennadii Zyuganov about 11.3
billion rubles. However, observers agree that these figures are
unreliable; in particular, Yeltsin's campaign is believed to have spent
many times the amount officially declared. Ryabov confirmed that he will
soon take a new job as ambassador to the Czech Republic, Kommersant-
Daily reported on 9 October. -- Laura Belin

LEBED SEES THREAT FROM SOUTH, NOT WEST. While continuing his visit to
NATO headquarters, Security Council Secretary Lebed said that the real
threat to Russia's security comes from the country's unstable south, not
from the West, ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed declared that Russia would play
a role in any continuation of the NATO-led peace mission in Bosnia,
which is set to end in December, Reuters reported. Additionally, Lebed
called for greater cooperation between Russia and NATO within the
framework of the Partnership for Peace program, noting that Russia has
not taken advantage of all of the program's opportunities. Reuters
described NATO officials as "bordering on euphoric" since, as one source
said, Lebed was "thoughtful," and not the "bluff, desk-thumping
character" they had expected. -- Robert Orttung

PACKAGE OF RUSSIA-MOLDOVA AGREEMENTS SIGNED. Moldovan Prime Minister
Andrei Sangheli wrapped up a two-day visit to Moscow by signing 11
accords with his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, ITAR-TASS and
Moldovan agencies reported on 8 October. Most of the agreements
concerned economic issues, such as electric energy deliveries to
Moldova, currency controls, and joint action against financial crime.
Deputy prime ministers of the two countries signed an agreement on
broadcasting Russian television and radio programs on Moldovan
territory. Igor Smirnov, president of the self-styled Transdniester
Republic, took part in the talks as a member of the Moldovan delegation.
Russia favors a special status for Transdniester within Moldova but not
full independence for the region. -- Laura Belin and Michael Shafir

MEDIA ATTACKS ON LEBED. The mass media, especially Russian Public TV
(ORT) and NTV, have begun a "defamation" campaign against Security
Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, according to Pravda-5 on 9 October.
On 6 October, NTV reported that Lebed intervened in August to prevent
the sacking of the director of the arms exporter Rosvooruzhenie, who was
a protege of former presidential bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov. The
network suggested that Rosvooruzhenie could be a source of campaign
funding for Lebed if an early presidential election becomes necessary.
Logovaz head Boris Berezovskii, the most powerful figure at ORT, and NTV
President Igor Malashenko are considered allies of presidential Chief of
Staff Anatolii Chubais, one of Lebed's Kremlin rivals. Both networks
gave Lebed substantial, favorable exposure shortly before the
presidential election, which was consistent with President Yeltsin's
campaign strategy. News coverage on ORT and NTV in particular
contributed to Korzhakov's 20 June ouster. -- Laura Belin

ILLEGAL ARMS TRADE. "Soldiers, officers, and traders are stealing
weapons," Deputy Military Procurator Lt.-Gen. Stanislav Gaveto told
Rossiiskie vesti on 9 October, adding "The country is awash with arms,
nobody knows how many." The problem is exacerbated by the fact that
units returning from Chechnya are not being searched for surplus weapons
at holding camps, as during the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Officially
recorded cases of arms theft from military bases rose from 151 in 1988
to 5,814 in 1992 but fell to 375 in 1994. In the first half of 1996,
there were 339 cases. Meanwhile, Interior Ministry official Nikolai
Borovskii on 8 October said more than 31,000 weapons were reported
stolen from all sources in the first nine months of 1996, ITAR-TASS
reported. He linked the rise in serious crimes to the increased number
of weapons in circulation and criticized a Duma bill that would make it
easier for Russians to own guns. -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN PROPOSES ENERGY PRICE FREEZE . . . Addressing the
Federation Council on 8 September, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin outlined
the government's economic program for 1997, ORT reported. He said he
expects inflation this year to be no more than 19% and promised to keep
the money supply under tight control. He talked vaguely about
introducing a new tax to finance the army, and said that a decree is
being prepared to freeze energy and possibly transport tariffs in view
of the debt crisis facing many electricity stations. Such a step would
violate the government's commitment to gradually increase energy prices
in line with IMF recommendations. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AMID EMERGENCY MEASURES TO HELP ARMY. Finance Minister Livshits
said that steps have been taken to ensure that food and fuel supplies
reach military bases, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. He was speaking
after a closed session of the Federation Council on the topic. Livshits
said "All the required budgetary payments for the army have been
released. However, for various reasons not all the money has reached the
military units. Rather than argue with [Defense Minister] Gen. [Igor]
Rodionov over why this happened, we came up with a way to solve the
situation." Regions that make food deliveries to military units will be
compensated by the government--presumably by waiving tax arrears. This
policy contradicts the government's efforts to cut back tax waivers and
non-cash tax payments. -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION ON ENERGY, TRANSPORT TARIFFS. Also on 8 October,
the government's Commission for Operational Questions, chaired by First
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, met to discuss the energy
situation, ORT reported. The commission was told that many local
authorities are refusing to raise electricity prices in light of the
upcoming regional elections. After a two-hour discussion on rail-freight
tariffs, the commission decided to postpone for one month a decision on
whether to increase them. -- Peter Rutland

KADANNIKOV TO RETURN TO AVTO VAZ. Former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir
Kadannikov on 11 October will return to his former post of chairman of
the board of directors of Avto VAZ, the automobile giant which is now on
the brink of bankruptcy, Kommersant-Daily reported on 9 October. The
government's InterAgency Bankruptcy Committee has asked Avto VAZ to
submit documents on its current financial situation and its debt
repayment schedule at the planned 11 October special meeting.
Presidential Chief of Staff Chubais criticized Avto VAZ for not paying
its federal taxes since January 1996, NTV reported on 5 October.
Meanwhile, Kadannikov has announced that the government will freeze
budget debts worth 10 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) until 2001. --
Ritsuko Sasaki

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. Ruben Hakobyan,
the only parliamentary deputy for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-
Dashnaktsutyun party, was beaten and seriously injured after his arrest
on 26 September by a group of men that included Defense Minister Vazgen
Sarkisyan, Noyan Tapan and Groong reported on 8 October, citing
Hakobyan's defense attorney, Tigran Janoyan. Janoyan also said he has
not been allowed to meet with his client since 30 September. He
described the official charges against Hakobyan and other opposition
members arrested following the 25 September attack on the parliament
building in Yerevan as "absurd" and "politically motivated." -- Emil
Danielyan

AZERBAIJAN "COUP" TRIALS POSTPONED. Azerbaijan's Supreme Court has again
postponed the trial of some 37 members of the OPON special police
charged with treason in connection with the March 1995 standoff between
the OPON and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, because the defense lawyers
of some of those accused are not yet familiar with the case, ITAR-TASS
and Turan reported on 8 October. The Supreme Court will, however,
proceed with the trial of two former Azerbaijani generals charged with
plotting to shoot down President Heidar Aliev's plane in the summer of
1995. -- Liz Fuller

KITOVANI SENTENCED. Former Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani was
sentenced on 8 October to eight years in prison on charges of organizing
an illegal armed formation and of unlawful possession of weapons,
Reuters and Russian TV (RTR) reported. Kitovani was arrested in January
1995, when he and former Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua attempted to launch
a military campaign to bring the breakaway region of Abkhazia back under
Tbilisi's jurisdiction. Valerii Fisyun and former Georgian Deputy Prime
Minister Irakli Surguladze, charged together with Kitovani, were
sentenced to six and two years in prison, respectively. Kitovani
denounced the court proceedings as a show trial staged by Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze in order to neutralize a political
opponent. -- Liz Fuller

NAZARBAYEV SEES LIGHT AT END OF TUNNEL. Kazakstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev told a national television audience on 7 October that the
country is emerging from its economic crisis, according to a Kazakstani
TV report monitored by the BBC. In the address, which was published in
Kazakhstanskaya pravda the next day, Nazarbayev said that privatization
and financial and industrial reforms would be completed by early 1998.
He also said he wanted annual inflation cut in half by the end of the
decade. Inflation has dropped from 2,200% in 1993 to a predicted 30% for
1996, Reuters reported on 8 October. Nazarbayev promised to press the
government to pay overdue wages and pensions. The Federation of Trade
Unions of the Republic of Kazakstan and the Confederation of Free Trade
Unions of Kazakstan still plan to hold demonstrations over that issue
next week. -- Bruce Pannier

MAYLI-SUU CLEANUP PLANNED. Kyrgyz and Uzbek environmental agencies have
agreed to cooperate to reduce the danger at more than 20 radioactive
waste sites near the Kyrgyz town of Mayli-Suu, according to a report in
Aziya- Ekonomika i zhizn [No. 40] monitored by the BBC. Successive heavy
rains and mudslides have meant that the dump sites may be contaminating
the Mayli-Suu River and through it various canals that irrigate the
Ferghana Valley. -- Lowell Bezanis

PAKISTANI ENVOY IN TURKMENISTAN. Following talks between a special envoy
from Pakistan, Ijlal Haider Zaidi, and Turkmen President Saparmurad
Niyazov on 7 October both sides agreed on the preservation of
Afghanistan's territorial integrity and noninterference in its internal
affairs, Turkmen and Russian media reported. Zaidi's visit to Ashgabat
was presumably intended to reassure Turkmenistan about Pakistan's
intentions and to suggest that Taliban does not pose a security threat
to Afghanistan's neighbors. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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