[America,] it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. - Thomas Wolfe
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 199, Part I, 14 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

LEBED SUPPORTS KORZHAKOV. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
endorsed former Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov
in his bid to win a Duma seat in Tula, NTV and Russian TV (RTR) reported
on 13 October. The election will be held in February 1997 in the
electoral district where Lebed was elected to the parliament in December
1995. Lebed had to resign his Duma seat after his appointment to the
Security Council. Observers speculate that Lebed endorsed Korzhakov
because of the latter's connections in the financial world or to gain
access to secret materials that Korzhakov claims to have collected
during the 11 years he worked as President Yeltsin's bodyguard. -- Anna
Paretskaya in Moscow

DUMA REJECTS 1997 BUDGET. . . On 11 October the State Duma rejected the
1997 draft federal budget on first reading, ITAR-TASS reported. The move
was supported by all factions, even including the pro-government Our
Home is Russia. Deputies were unhappy with both the tax and spending
side. The budget envisioned revenues of 434 trillion rubles ($80
billion) and spending of 524 trillion rubles, leaving a deficit of 90
trillion rubles. As a share of GDP this amounts to 16%, 19.5%, and 3.3%
respectively. The Duma will decide on 16 October whether to send the
budget straight back to the government, as the communists suggest, or
agree to form a reconciliation commission with the government. --
Natalia Gurushina

. . . AND TAX PROPOSALS. Prior to discussing the budget, the Duma
considered 10 draft tax bills submitted by the government, ORT reported.
The Duma voted to lift VAT from supplies for light and textile
industries, and rejected the tax amnesty plan which had been promulgated
in an 8 May presidential decree. The decree promised to lift penalties
from firms which agreed to pay all their tax arrears by the end of 1996,
but increased fines by 50% on those who did not. Deputies complained
that the plan condoned tax arrears. -- Peter Rutland

LEBED VISITS STRATEGIC MISSILE FORCES COMMAND. Security Council
Secretary Lebed on 12 October inspected Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN)
headquarters in Odinstovo, 35 km southwest of Moscow, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Lebed complained about the government's
"thoughtless" underfinancing of the service, and Russian TV (RTR) said
RSVN officers had only recently received their August salaries. The
network noted that a colonel in the elite rocket forces, which control
some 60% of Russia's strategic nuclear warheads, currently makes 1.5
million rubles ($278) per month. -- Scott Parrish

RADICAL COMMUNISTS FORM NEW UNION. Several radical leftist groups have
formed the Union of Communists and Socialists of Russia, NTV reported on
13 October. The founders include Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union,
Aleksei Prigarin's Russian Communist Party, Anatolii Kryuchkov's Russian
Party of Communists, Viktor Tyulkin's Russian Communist Workers' Party,
and a breakaway faction from Viktor Anpilov's movement Workers' Russia,
which split at its recent congress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 October
1996). The new union opposes the moderate stance of Gennadii Zyuganov's
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). The KPRF is much
larger than all the groups in the new union combined. -- Laura Belin

RUSSIAN DUMA DELEGATION IN NORTH CAUCASUS. A Russian State Duma
delegation headed by deputy chairman Mikhail Gutseriev traveled on 13
October to the North Ossetiyan capital, Vladikavkaz, where it held talks
with the heads of local religious and cultural organizations on the
North-Ossetiyan-Ingush conflict, Radio Rossii reported. The delegation
will meet with the Ingush leadership in Nazran on 14 October and may
subsequently visit Chechnya for talks with acting Chechen President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's group. Also on 13 October, Radio Mayak quoted the
Ingush leadership as claiming that illegal North Ossetiyan armed
formations are again trying to prevent the return of ethnic Ingush to
the disputed Prigorodnyi Raion. -- Liz Fuller

PROSPECTS FOR CHECHEN-RUSSIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Acting Chechen
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev is prepared to conclude an agreement on
economic cooperation with the Russian Federation providing that such an
agreement does not define Chechnya as a subject of the federation, Ekho
Moskvy and ORT reported on 13 October, quoting Chechen Foreign Minister
Ruslan Chimaev. The agreement would create a unified banking system, a
mutual payments system, and unified control over the transportation of
oil. On 12 October, NTV reported that the Russian parliament is drafting
legislation on a free trade zone in Chechnya. The first session of the
Russian-Chechen joint commission did not take place as scheduled on 12
October. The commander of Russian federal forces in Chechnya called on
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov to strengthen discipline among
his men after Chechen fighters on 13 October attempted to prevent the
withdrawal of Russian Interior Ministry forces from the village of
Alkhan-Yurt, Radio Mayak reported. -- Liz Fuller

COSTS OF CHECHEN WAR. In an interview published in Izvestiya on 12
October, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said that the war
has caused $140 billion worth of damage to the republic. Some 70% of
schools, hospitals, and kindergartens have been damaged, more than
500,000 people are homeless, and an additional 400,000 have left the
republic. He claimed that there were 100,000 dead and 45,000 wounded.
Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov has put the total death toll
at 18,000. Also on 12 October, the military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda
published the names of all 2,941 Russian army soldiers who died in
Chechnya--which does not include Interior Ministry losses. Security
Council Secretary Lebed has put total Russian military losses at 3,826
dead and 1,906 missing, AFP reported on 12 October. -- Peter Rutland

YAMAL-NENETS GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION PROCEEDS DESPITE PRESIDENTIAL
DECREE. Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Governor Yurii Neelov has been re-
elected, according to preliminary results from ITAR-TASS. Neelov won
about 65% of the vote, while his closest competitor, Vladimir Goman, a
member of the Russian Regions faction of the State Duma, won about 20%.
The okrug election was held in violation of a presidential decree
ordering Yamal-Nenets, which produces almost all of Russia's natural
gas, to hold its gubernatorial election on the same day as Tyumen
Oblast, of which it is a part. Neelov said that the okrug would allow
voting for the Tyumen Oblast governor to be held on its territory only
after signing a power-sharing agreement with the oblast, a development
that is unlikely to take place before the 27 October Tyumen election. --
Robert Orttung

CHEREPKOV REORGANIZES VLADIVOSTOK ADMINISTRATION. Newly-reinstated
Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov has disbanded the city's raion
structure and subordinated the provision of all municipal services
directly to himself, ORT reported on 12 October. He had to take this
measure because all of the raion's leaders, appointed by Konstantin
Tolstoshein while Cherepkov was illegally out of power, refused to come
to Cherepkov's meetings on preparations for winter. Cherepkov is working
to arrange the city's energy supply, partly through barter deals for
fish. -- Robert Orttung

FOREIGN MINISTRY REPUDIATES LEBED LETTER ON SEVASTOPOL. Deputy Foreign
Minister Sergei Kyrlov declared on 11 October that Russia recognizes
Sevastopol as a Ukrainian city and has no intention of raising the issue
with Kyiv, Russian and Western agencies reported. Kyrlov's remarks came
in response to an open letter from Security Council Secretary Lebed
published in the Black Sea Fleet newspaper Flag rodiny on 5 October and
republished in the Crimean paper Krymskaya pravda on 10 October.
Entitled "Sevastopol is a Russian City," the letter argued that Soviet
leader Nikita Khrushchev's 1954 transfer of Crimea from Russian to
Ukrainian jurisdiction did not affect Sevastopol, which "has not lost
its Russian status de jure." Lebed's press service, which often quarrels
with the media, has not yet commented on the letter's authenticity. --
Scott Parrish

SCIENTISTS END HUNGER STRIKE. The geophysicist and academician Vladimir
Strakhov announced that he and fellow scientist Igor Naumenko-Bondarenko
have ended the hunger strike they began 12 days earlier, Russian TV
(RTR) reported on 11 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 October 1996).
Strakhov said the authorities appeared to be taking positive steps to
address the problem of government debts to the scientific sector. He
praised President Yeltsin's 11 October address on Radio Rossii, which
announced the creation of an emergency commission to improve tax
collection. In that radio address, Yeltsin mentioned Strakhov's hunger
strike and blamed tax evaders for "condemning pensioners, the army,
science, and culture to a semi-destitute existence." -- Laura Belin

MORE ON ARMY FINANCING. Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits promised
that the wage arrears to the armed forces, which total 5 trillion rubles
($920 million), will be reduced to one month's wage debt by the end of
the year, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 October. The wage debt for July will
be paid off by the end of October. However, the money will have to be
taken from other items in the defense ministry budget, as Livshits said
no more money will be forthcoming from the finance ministry. Livshits
also proposed raising VAT from 20% to 22% next year in order to raise an
additional 12 trilion rubles for the armed forces. So far this year the
defense ministry has received only 54% of the funds allotted to it in
the budget, the interior ministry 62%, and the Border Guards Service
51%, according to the head of the latter, Gen Andrei Nikolaev, speaking
to ITAR-TASS on 12 October. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT LIFTS A BAN ON RALLIES AND DEMONSTRATIONS. Armenian
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan lifted a ban on rallies and
demonstrations imposed on 26 September arguing that there is no longer
any "direct threat to the constitutional order," Russian and Western
media reported on 11 October. The government withdrew its last troops
from the capital Yerevan on 11 October. Shavarsh Kocharyan and Samvel
Shahinyan, two prominent opposition members, were released from prison
on 9 October. Meanwhile, former National Security Minister David
Shahnazaryan called for the dismissal of the prime minister and the
defense and interior ministers claiming that they are to blame for the
tense situation in the country, Radio Rossii reported on 12 October.
Hanneke Gelderblom-Iankhout, a member of a Council of Europe delegation
visiting Armenia, told AFP that the election was not democratic. The
delegation will release its report in November. -- Emil Danielyan

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER IN BAKU. During a one-day visit to Baku on 11
October, French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette met with Azerbaijani
President Heidar Aliev and Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov, Turan and
ITAR-TASS reported. The talks focused on France's participation in the
Nagorno-Karabakh mediation process, the prospects for French
participation in the exploitation of Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea oil
deposits, Aliev's scheduled January visit to France, and French support
for Azerbaijan's cooperation with the EU and the Council of Europe. --
Liz Fuller

RUSTAVI-2 HASSLED OVER COVERAGE OF ADZHAR ELECTION. Gia Bokeria,
chairman of the private Georgian TV company Rustavi-2 which recently had
its license revoked by the Georgian government, said on 9 October that
security officials confiscated and erased his cameramen's footage of
voting during the 22 September parliamentary election in Adzharia, BGI
reported. The coalition between Adzhar leader Aslan Abashidze's All-
Georgian Union of Revival and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's
Union of Citizens of Georgia won an overwhelming majority in the vote.
-- Liz Fuller

COMMUNISTS OF KAZAKSTAN GIVE UP IDEA OF REVIVING USSR. Members of the
Communist Party of Kazakhstan on 13 October voted to remove a clause
from their charter that called for a proletarian dictatorship and the
reformation of the USSR, Ekho Moskvy reported. More than 80 delegates
form around Kazakstan attended the 24th congress in Almaty, despite the
fact that the party is in the process of being re-registered after it
was suspended in March by the Kazakstani Justice Ministry. The delegates
also moved to create a nationwide Komsomol organization which will hold
a congress in early 1997. One party leader said the party has 50,000
members registered in the party, most of them elderly. -- Bruce Pannier

A RUSSIAN ASSESSMENT OF UZBEKISTAN'S AFGHAN RESPONSE. Uzbekistan has
moved some of its elite troops to Termez, the military garrison on the
border, and has asked its officers not on active duty to reregister, NTV
reported on 11 October. According to the report, there is no basis for
Uzbekistan's fear of a Taliban invasion, but a defeat of General Rashid
Dostum's forces in northern Afghanistan could lead to "crowds of [ethnic
Uzbek] refugees" flooding into Uzbekistan. Also, "a victory by the
fundamentalists" would have a negative influence on the situation in the
Fergana Valley where the Uzbek government has been fighting to keep
organized Islamic groups under control. -- Bruce Pannier

TURKMEN-IRANIAN GAS PIPELINE. A ceremony was held on 10 October to mark
the start of construction work on the 200 km-long Korpedzhe-Kordkuy gas
pipeline, IRNA and Russian media reported the next day. The pipeline
deal, announced last year, has an estimated value of $190 million and
will be capable of moving 11 billion cubic meters of natural gas
annually. It is being built by Iran's state gas company. -- Lowell
Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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