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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 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message BACK ISSUES Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail. 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