It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 203, Part I, 18 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 SACKS LEBED. In a televised address on Russian Public TV (ORT)
on 17 October, President Boris Yeltsin fired Aleksandr Lebed from his
positions as secretary of the Security Council and national security
aide. Yeltsin accused Lebed of taking a series of actions that were
harmful to Russia, acting without the president's approval, launching a
presidential election campaign even though the next elections are not
scheduled until 2000, constantly arguing with the other members of the
executive branch, and trying to get former Chief of the Presidential
Security Service Aleksandr Korzhakov elected to the Duma from the seat
Lebed had to resign in Tula. The previous day Lebed had demanded that
Yeltsin fire either him or Minister of Internal Affairs Anatolii
Kulikov, who Lebed blamed for losing control of Grozny to the Chechen
separatists. -- Robert Orttung

TV APPEARANCE DESIGNED TO SHOW YELTSIN IS STILL IN CHARGE. By signing
the decree firing Lebed during his televised speech to the country,
Yeltsin sought to signal that he was still in charge and that he
personally approved the dismissal. On 20 August, Lebed had accused
Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais of signing decrees without
Yeltsin's knowledge. Recently, Yeltsin has started addressing the
country over the radio, presumably to hide the true state of his health,
and Western news agencies claimed that he looked unwell in the 17
October broadcast. Lebed later complained that he had not been sacked by
Yeltsin face to face, but had been handed a paper by a "bureaucrat"
informing him of his dismissal. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED BLAMES CHUBAIS, APPEALS FOR CALM. Although it was accusations from
Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov that immediately precipitated his
dismissal, Lebed blamed his ouster on Chubais. Lebed was not able to
meet with Yeltsin on 17 October, and he said he was "convinced" that
documents he recently sent to Yeltsin naming those responsible for
events in Chechnya never reached the president, Radio Rossii reported.
Lebed refrained from attacking Yeltsin, whom he called an "elderly, sick
man," according to NTV. Lebed indicated that he will remain active
politically but has no interest in regaining his seat in the Duma.
Commenting on an open protest letter from military officers demanding
that the Defense Ministry pay military salaries by 25 October, Lebed
warned that it could be a "hot autumn." However, he appealed to his
supporters to remain calm: "We will act only by legitimate,
constitutional and lawful means." -- Laura Belin

CHERNOMYRDIN ON LEBED'S EXIT. In comments carried by the BBC, Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had some kind words for Lebed, describing
him as a "strong individual" who had his own way of doing things, but
who had overstepped the mark. Chernomyrdin noted that Lebed had played a
role in ending the fighting in Chechnya, but said that he was merely
carrying out the policy of the president and government, ITAR-TASS
reported on 17 October. The prime minister claimed that the federal
government still seeks peace, and Lebed's dismissal does not signal any
changes. However, Lebed was almost alone in the government in his
support for the Khasavyurt treaty he signed on 31 August, calling for
the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya while postponing a
decision on Chechen independence for five years, and his removal further
reduces the likelihood of its implementation. Chubais, who attended the
17 October meeting between Chernomyrdin, Lebed, and the power ministers
and who clearly sought Lebed's ouster, did not make any statements to
the media on that day. -- Robert Orttung

IMPLICATIONS OF LEBED'S DISMISSAL FOR CHECHNYA. Lebed told Ekho Moskvy
on 17 October that the situation in Chechnya "will most likely go the
worst possible way" following his dismissal, while Chechen Foreign
Minister Ruslan Chimaev said that it "would have tragic consequences for
Russia," according to Reuters. The joint Russian-Chechen commission set
up under the Khasavyurt agreement to coordinate reconstruction in
Chechnya pending new elections discussed procedural issues at its first
session in Grozny on 17 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Security
Council Deputy Secretary Sergei Kharlamov, who accompanied the Russian
members of the commission to Grozny, expressed concern at the clashes in
Urus Martan between supporters of pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku
Zavgaev and acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, and accused the
latter of violating an agreement not to replace Zavgaev's appointees,
AFP reported. Having failed on 17 October to name a date for new
elections, on 18 October the Chechen parliament scheduled presidential
and parliamentary elections for 27 January 1997. -- Liz Fuller

INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES SURVEILLANCE OF LEBED. The Interior Ministry
(MVD) denied on 17 October that four MVD officers detained by Lebed's
security guards that morning had been keeping the then Security Council
secretary under surveillance. Lebed earlier told a news conference that
he was being watched by the MVD. An MVD spokesman said that the officers
were working as part of another special anti-terrorist operation and
that Kulikov had requested Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov to
instigate criminal proceedings over their detention, Ekho Moskvy
reported. MVD officer Aleksandr Ovchinnikov was quoted extensively by
all three national TV stations as saying that the police officers had
been forced by Security Council officials to sign a statement saying
they had been ordered to watch Lebed--a charge rejected by Lebed. --
Penny Morvant

TV REPORTS PLAY UP PRO-LEBED MILITARY FORMATIONS. Although Yeltsin did
not accuse Lebed of planning to seize power by force and Chernomyrdin
expressed skepticism about the coup allegations, television reports on
17 October continued to hint that Lebed might instigate military unrest.
ORT suggested that Lebed was involved in preparing an open letter from
military officers, published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 17 October, which
the network claimed threatened "radical actions" if officers' salaries
are not paid by 25 October. NTV, which on 16 October devoted substantial
coverage to Kulikov's coup allegations, the next day reported that
extreme nationalists in St. Petersburg have already set up a "Russian
Legion" with support from "officers from General Lebed's circle." The
network interviewed Yurii Belyaev of the National-Republican Party of
Russia, who said the legion was prepared to come to Lebed's aid if he
gave the order. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNIST REACTION TO LEBED'S OUSTER. Leading members of the Communist
Party (KPRF) generally blamed Lebed for his own ouster. KPRF leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, who earlier called for the Security Council secretary
to be subordinated to the prime minister, suggested that Kulikov was
justified in accusing Lebed of plotting a coup, NTV reported on 17
October. Zyuganov added that NTV and other media outlets helped lay the
ground for Lebed's dismissal. Appearing on ORT, Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev referred to Lebed as a "Bonaparte" and suggested that he had
been using Yeltsin's illness to further his own ambitions. Earlier in
the day, Seleznev had suggested that both Lebed and Kulikov should
resign. Meanwhile, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, who
on 16 October suggested that Kulikov's coup allegations were credible,
described Yeltsin's decision as the "logical conclusion" to events set
into play by Lebed himself, Russian TV (RTR) reported. -- Laura Belin

REGIONAL REACTION TO LEBED'S FIRING. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
supported Lebed's dismissal, claiming that Lebed's recent moves to
consolidate his power in the army threatened stability, ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 October. Luzhkov also said Lebed's Khasavyurt accord
postponing the resolution of Chechnya's status was unconstitutional.
Likewise, St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev supported Lebed's
sacking, saying that the conflict between Kulikov and Lebed threatened
stability in the regions. However, Boris Nemtsov, the liberal governor
of Nizhnii Novgorod, said "Aleksandr Lebed is a very popular man with
the people. And, speaking openly, I think he is like the Boris Yeltsin
of 1987," Reuters reported on 18 October. In Tula Oblast leaders of the
Civil Solidarity movement expressed their support for Lebed and said he
should run for governor in Tula in the election this December. Lebed was
formerly a Duma member from Tula and commander of the 106th airborne
division there. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

INTERNATIONAL MARKETS' REACTION TO LEBED'S DISMISSAL. The German mark
fell against the dollar following the news of Lebed's dismissal, sliding
from 1.5373/$ to 1.5447/$ on 17 October, AFP reported. The mark fell
because of Germany's close economic relations with Russia and the
perception of the dollar as a safe currency. The political crisis may
also spoil foreign investors' appetite for Russia's first Eurobond issue
at the end of this month. Earlier in October Russia became the first CIS
country to get a favorable investment grade from leading international
credit-rating agencies (See OMRI Daily Digest, 8 October 1996). Under
these circumstances, net receipts from the issue were expected to reach
$1.3 billion in 1997. However, many market analysts now believe that the
window of opportunity has closed. -- Natalia Gurushina

DUMA HOSTILE TO START 2. Duma deputies subjected U.S. Defense Secretary
William Perry to harsh questioning after he addressed them on 17 October
on the advantages of ratifying the START 2 nuclear disarmament treaty,
AFP reported. Perry argued that the treaty is fair to both sides and
would save the U.S. and Russia $5 billion each. He said that the 3,000-
3,500 warheads left in each country would be "enough to destroy the
world. That is more than enough deterrent." Duma deputies cited worries
over NATO expansion as the main factor influencing their attitude
towards START 2. Senator Richard Lugar, who is accompanying Perry, said
earlier this week that the $330 million in U.S. disarmament aid which
Russia was slated to receive in 1997 will not be forthcoming if the
treaty is not ratified, AFP reported. On 18 October Perry travelled to
Severodvinsk to view the dismantling of a Typhoon class submarine under
START 1. -- Peter Rutland

JEWISH AGENCY LICENSED. Local offices of the Israeli-based Jewish Agency
can operate legally in Russia once again, ITAR-TASS reported on 17
October. The agency is a quasi-governmental body that promotes Jewish
immigration to Israel and international Jewish educational and cultural
activities. Russia canceled its registration in April in line with new
legislation on the activity of foreign organizations and subsequently
restricted its operations, prompting an international outcry. The
Justice Ministry has now issued a license for the Jewish Agency in
Russia, a Russian public organization that will receive financial and
organizational support from the Jewish Agency for Israel. Jewish Agency
President Avraham Burg thanked U.S. officials for their assistance in
finding a solution to the registration problem as well as the Russian
authorities for their cooperation. -- Penny Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION RALLY BANNED. The Yerevan city authorities reversed
themselves and withdrew permission for opposition rallies slated for 18
October, citing errors in the application, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL
reported the same day. The opposition said that they will apply for the
demonstration to be held next week. The move follows President Levon
Ter-Petrossyan's 11 October decree lifting the ban on public gatherings
that was imposed after the 25 September violence in the capital. In
other news, chief presidential aide Gerard Libaridian charged that the
OSCE used the 22 September presidential elections to force Armenia to
make concessions in the negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
Noyan Tapan reported. Libaridian accused the OSCE observer mission
monitoring the vote of "playing political games," and said the latter
misinterpreted Armenian electoral laws. The mission questioned the
official election results according to which Ter-Petrossyan won a second
term. -- Emil Danielyan

GEORGIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS ARRESTED.
Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Valerian Gogolashvili on 17 October
denied Russian media reports that some 30 supporters of deceased
President Zviad Gamsakhurdia had been arrested in protest demonstrations
in Tbilisi on 16 October, ITAR-TASS reported. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 17
October, 1996) -- Liz Fuller

NEW TWIST IN GEORGIAN-RUSSIAN WAR OF WORDS. The Georgian Foreign
Ministry issued a statement on 16 October categorically rejecting the
Russian Foreign Ministry's accusation six days earlier that the Georgian
parliament is trying "to revise the whole complex of Russian-Georgian
relations" by threatening to annul an (unratified) agreement on Russian
military bases in Georgia and by calling for the withdrawal of the
Russian peacekeeping troops currently deployed along Georgia's internal
border with Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement reiterated
Georgia's commitment to the bilateral treaty on friendship and
cooperation signed in February 1994, and Georgia's desire for a peaceful
resolution of the Abkhaz conflict. -- Liz Fuller

DEMONSTRATION IN KAZAKSTANI CAPITAL. About 4,000 people rallied in
Almaty on 17 October to demand that the government do something about
unpaid wages and pensions, which now total some $8.5 million, and the
poor standard of living, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported. No political
leaders were given the opportunity to speak: the trade unions, which
called the demonstration, wanted to avoid any insinuation that it was
politically motivated. Those assembled requested in vain a meeting with
a government representative. Though the unions called for demonstrations
throughout Kazakstan, officials in other regions, notably Pavlodar and
Ust-Kamenogorsk, managed to obtain injunctions against the meetings. --
Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

CORRECTION: An item in the OMRI Daily Digest of 16 October incorrectly
stated that Iran was thought to share Kazakstan's views on the legal
status of the Caspian Sea. In fact Iran is thought to favor the Russian
position.

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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