This communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joy, and cutteth griefs in half. - Francis Bacon

No. 198, Part I, 11 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:


KORZHAKOV GIVES PRESS CONFERENCE. Former Presidential Security Service
(SBP) head Aleksandr Korzhakov held a press conference on 11 October at
which he contended that "the unconstitutional institution of a regency
has appeared alongside a live president," an apparent reference to chief
of staff Anatolii Chubais. Korzhakov said that he had recommended
putting off the presidential elections for two to three months because
of concern over Boris Yeltsin's health, ITAR-TASS reported. He denied
that he had sought to use force to cancel the elections, and suggested
that some in the president's entourage had deliberately tried to exhaust
Yeltsin through his active campaign schedule. Korzhakov said that he
expects to be arrested, and fears for the safety of his family. On 10
October Yeltsin made a brief television appearance with Anatolii Chubais
from his sanitarium, in an apparent display of confidence in his chief
of staff. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN SUGGESTS NEW TAX COMMISSION. In an 11 October radio address,
President Yeltsin said a special emergency commission will be set up
under Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to boost tax revenue and ensure
that state wages and pensions are paid, Reuters reported. Contrary to
earlier government claims, tax collection continues to deteriorate.
Federal tax receipts for September were 9.3 trillion rubles ($1.7
billion), 29% down over August, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. Only
45% of planned taxes were collected. The only positive development was
that actual cash made up 96% of tax receipts, indicating that the State
Tax Service has cut back on firms that try to "pay" their taxes with
commodities or bills of exchange. -- Peter Rutland

LEBED RETURNS TO HARSH RHETORIC ON NATO . . . After returning from a
visit to NATO headquarters, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
warned that NATO's expansion would harm Russia's security interests,
ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October. He said that "there is no guarantee
that no one will decide to deal with Russia the way Iraq was recently
dealt with." He claimed that Russia has "no conceptual framework for
national security" and that the Security Council is now working on
developing one with the Defense Council. -- Robert Orttung

. . . ATTACKS ENEMIES ON CHECHNYA PLAN. In an article published in The
Washington Post and the London Times, Lebed claimed to know the names of
the people who started the Chechen war but that he will not reveal them
now "because it is still quite possible that the war will resume with
fresh force and on an even larger scale." He argued that the war has
"economic roots camouflaged in politics." Pravda-5 , in its 11-18
October edition, described Lebed's assertions as a threat to the Kremlin
and the latest round in the battle to succeed Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung

Primakov rejected Lebed's suggestion in Brussels that Russia and NATO
could sign an agreement in a month, ITAR-TASS reported 11 October.
Primakov warned that trying to speed up the signing of a document
between NATO and Russia would give it a "purely declarative character."
Primakov stressed that Russia would focus on bilateral relations with
NATO member countries, arguing that it made less sense to work with NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana because "he does not have his own
stance, but only voices positions of the 16 countries standing behind
him." -- Robert Orttung

Maskhadov on 9 October convened a meeting of field commanders in Argun
at which he demanded "iron discipline" in order to preclude provocations
against withdrawing Russian forces which could jeopardize the agreements
signed earlier this month in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian forces
are due to withdraw by 20 October. -- Liz Fuller

APARTMENTS FOR DUMA DEPUTIES. The Moscow authorities will allocate about
200 apartments to deputies elected to the Duma in December 1995, a city
official told ITAR-TASS on 10 October. Under a law passed by the last
Duma, deputies from the provinces are entitled to an official apartment
for the duration of their tenure. Many former deputies, however, have
refused to leave their apartments. Others, according to Russian TV
(RTR), received more than one. As a result, there is a constant shortage
of housing for deputies, and the Federal Assembly owes large sums in
hotel bills. According to a controversial amendment to the law on
deputies' status, deputies are entitled to a one-time compensation
payment worth $60,000 to help them obtain an apartment. According to
RTR, 17 deputies have already been helped to purchase an apartment. --
Penny Morvant

newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya on 10 October claimed to possess proof that
"Kremlin elders" illegally spent hundreds of millions of dollars on
President Yeltsin's re-election effort. Under the headline "Protocols of
the Elders of the Kremlin" (an allusion to the anti-Semitic tract
Protocols of the Elders of Zion), the paper cited a document allegedly
prepared by the Yeltsin campaign which outlined payments to various
politicians and media outlets. For instance, $169 million was allegedly
allocated to Russian Public TV (ORT), $78 million to NTV, and $16
million to the anti-communist newspaper Ne dai bog! (God forbid). The
paper noted that under Russian law, presidential candidates were limited
to 14 billion rubles ($2.8 million) in total expenditures. The Yeltsin
campaign is widely believed to have spent many times more than it
officially declared (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1996). -- Laura

officially proposed a coalition government in the region, Russian media
and Kommersant-Daily reported on 10 October. According to Segodnya,
Matochkin, who finished first in the 6 October gubernatorial election
and is now facing a second round, invited the Communist Party of the
Russian Federation (KPRF) to join the government. The newspaper
speculated that the opposition will be offered high-ranking positions in
the regional administration, including committee chairmanships and the
post of deputy governor responsible for agriculture. The KPRF candidate
for the gubernatorial race, Yurii Semenov, placed third with 22% of the
vote. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

ACADEMICIANS, TEACHERS PROTEST. About 600 employees of the Academy of
Sciences gathered in Moscow on 10 October to demand higher salaries and
more state support for science, NTV and RTR reported. Earth Sciences
Institute Director Vladimir Strakhov, on the 11th day of a hunger
strike, said half the academy's institutes could close in three to four
months if more funding is not made available. Protest meetings were also
held in St. Petersburg, Nizhnii Novgorod, and Novosibirsk. ITAR-TASS
said that the Moscow meeting was smaller than planned because the
government had already repaid much of its debt to the academy. The
Education Workers' Union said about 62,000 people from 1,177 educational
establishments took part in protests across Russia on 4, 7, and 8
October to demand back pay and increased funding for schools. -- Penny

COURT FUNDING PROBLEMS. Work at a majority of district courts in St.
Petersburg has ground to a halt due to a lack of funds, RIA Novosti
reported on 10 October. Only two of 20 district courts are operating,
and they may also cease functioning on 17 October. Judges, who do not
have the right to strike, are still turning up for work, but court
clerks and other personnel have left their offices in protest at their
low wages and long delays in their payment. According to Nezavisimaya
gazeta on 11 October, during the first nine months of the year courts
received less than two-thirds of the money provided for in the budget.
It noted, among other examples, that judicial workers in Tver have not
been paid since August, that the Irkutsk Oblast Court has virtually
stopped work, and that judges' telephones in Krasnoyarsk and Kemerovo
oblasts have been cut due to non-payment of bills. -- Penny Morvant

URALMASH WORKERS PICKET. Hundreds of workers at the engineering company
Uralmash have set up a picket outside the residence of Sverdlovsk
Governor Eduard Rossel to protest a recent federal government decree on
tax payments, Izvestiya reported on 11 October. According to the decree
approved by the Finance Ministry, the Central Bank of Russia, and the
Tax Service, the bank accounts of enterprises that owe taxes are frozen
and the overdue payments immediately withdrawn from them. This measure,
however, has aggravated the problem of wage arrears, and Uralmash
workers have not been paid for three months. The general director of
Uralmash has sharply criticized Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits for
driving his company to the verge of bankruptcy. Rossel said he has asked
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to resolve the Uralmash problem. --
Ritsuko Sasaki

of the State Antimonopoly Committee, argued against the IMF's
recommendation to break up Gazprom in an interview for Radio Rossii on
10 October. He said "Gazprom is a unique structure which earns one-third
of the nation's foreign exchange." He said gas restructuring plans must
be carefully analyzed because they could disrupt the national economy.
It is widely assumed that the IMF is pressuring the Russian government
to break up Gazprom and the electricity monopoly Unified Energy System
(EES Rossii). Meanwhile, on 10 October Izvestiya reported that Gazprom
will soon sell 1% of its shares to foreign buyers (in the form of
American Depository Receipts), and hopes to raise $400 million. -- Peter

GAS PRICES TO BE FROZEN. Natural gas prices for industrial users will be
frozen until the end of 1996, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October, citing
the deputy chairman of the Federal Energy Commission, Gennadii
Usyuzhanin. The producer price will stay at 180 rubles (3 cents) per
cubic meter and the wholesale price 260 rubles. In the first eight
months of this year, the domestic price of gas rose 30% (but still lags
behind the European export price of 8.5 cents). Usyuzhanin also said
that there is a plan to introduce differential regional prices for
natural gas, allowing for transport costs, from 1 January. He also
confirmed that electricity prices for industrial users will be cut by
10%. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told the Duma on 8 October that
energy prices will be regulated: this policy seems to be going into
effect. -- Peter Rutland


UN ENVOY MEETS ARDZINBA. The UN special envoy for Abkhazia, Eduard
Brunner, held talks in Sukhumi on 10 October with Abkhaz President
Vladislav Ardzinba, ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking to journalists
afterwards, Brunner stressed the importance of finding a political
solution to the problem of Abkhazia's future political status vis-a-vis
Tbilisi, and of expediting the return of ethnic Georgians who were
displaced during the fighting in 1992-1993. Tensions between Tbilisi and
Sukhumi have escalated in recent weeks following the decision of the
Abkhaz parliament--denounced as illegitimate by the Georgian government-
-to hold a parliamentary election on 23 November. -- Liz Fuller

PARLIAMENT. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 10
October condemning the Georgian parliament's 2 October resolution
calling for a fundamental revision of Georgian-Russian relations,
including the scrapping of an agreement on Russian military bases in
Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement rejected what it termed an
attempt to question both the expediency of having Russian peacekeepers
on the Georgian-Abkhaz border, and Russia's ability to mediate a
settlement of the conflict. -- Liz Fuller

on 9 October with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Terry Adams, the
president of the Azerbaijani International Operating Company, announced
that the Baku-Supsa pipeline to export Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea oil by
the so-called "Western route" to the Georgian Black Sea coast will be
operational "by late 1998," Turan reported. A pipeline construction
tender will be announced early next year. On 9 October Adams said the
Russian route for early oil will start to be used in August 1997. -- Liz

Embassy in Moscow said Ashgabat does not agree with the CIS member
states that condemned the Taliban militia at last week's Almaty summit,
according to the Journal of Commerce on 10 October. The spokesman said
Taliban have offered security guarantees for a projected $2 billion
natural gas pipeline that would run from Turkmenistan through
Afghanistan to Pakistan, in which the U.S. firm UNOCAL and Saudi
Arabia's Delta are involved. -- Lowell Bezanis

TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER ON TALIBAN. One of the leaders of the United
Tajik Opposition (UTO), Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, played down accusations
about UTO connections with Afghanistan's Taliban movement in an 11
October Nezavisimaya gazeta article. Turajonzoda said the UTO was
"distressed" at Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's
statement that the Taliban would ally itself with the UTO and move into
areas of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. He said that the UTO has a neutral
policy to the Afghan conflict, and remarked that "the Afghans have so
many internal problems...that planning foreign aggression is simply not
serious." -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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