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No. 204, Part I, 21 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 NAMES RYBKIN TO REPLACE LEBED. President Boris Yeltsin named former Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin as Security Council secretary and presidential representative in Chechnya on 19 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Rybkin stressed that he would maintain "continuity" with former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's policies in Chechnya. Although Rybkin was elected speaker by the opposition, he quickly became a loyal Yeltsin ally. After the pro-government Our Home is Russia backed him in an unsuccessful attempt to retain the speakership, Yeltsin named him as head of his Political Consultative Council. Lebed charged that Rybkin could not secure the country's security and that he would turn the Security Council into "a quiet, bureaucratic office" that will not make waves. Political Scientist Andrannik Migranyan told Radio Rossii that Rybkin seeks to please everyone and that therefore the Security Council will lose its influence. -- Robert Orttung CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF SACKED. Yeltsin removed Army General Mikhail Kolesnikov and replaced him with Army General Viktor Samsonov, 54, previously head of the CIS military cooperation staff, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 October. Simultaneously, Yeltsin nominated Kolesnikov to replace Samsonov, subject to approval by the CIS heads of state council. Samsonov served with Defense Minister Igor Rodionov in the former Transcaucasian Military District in 1988-89. As commander of the Leningrad Military District in August 1991, Samsonov initially supported the hardline coup plotters, declaring a state of emergency in St. Petersburg and dispatching tanks to the city. He later reversed course under pressure from the city's mayor, Anatolii Sobchak. Samsonov briefly served as Chief of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces in December 1991, before holding several CIS military posts. -- Scott Parrish MASKHADOV CONFIRMED AS INTERIM CHECHEN PRIME MINISTER. Senior Russian government officials expressed satisfaction on 18 October at the nomination of Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov as interim Chechen prime minister and minister of defense, ITAR-TASS reported. At its first meeting in Argun on 19 October, the new coalition government discussed preparations for the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on 27 January 1997 and for the coming winter. Maskhadov told journalists that if asked he would consider running for president. The Chechen separatist leadership has welcomed assurances that newly appointed Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin will continue to implement the peace agreement concluded by his predecessor. On 20 October--the deadline for the withdrawal from Chechnya of Russian forces--Maskhadov met with the acting commander of the Russian forces, Gen. Vladimir Sukhoruchenko. Meanwhile, a search is underway in Chechnya for Aslanbek Khasbulatov, professor of history at Grozny University and elder brother of Ruslan, who disappeared on 14 October, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Liz Fuller DUMA FAILS TO PASS LAW ON CHECHNYA FUNDS. The Russian State Duma on 18 October failed on the first reading to pass a draft law on interim financing for Chechnya pending the formation of "legitimate organs of power" there, ITAR-TASS reported. The law would have frozen payments from the federal budget and from individual Russian ministries to the Chechen government, and was intended to preclude a recurrence of the widespread misappropriation of funds allocated in 1995 for reconstruction. On 20 October acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev accused the Russian leadership of delaying the peace process and failing to pay for Chechen reconstruction. He also criticized the recently created Russian-Chechen joint commission that is to coordinate reconstruction, saying that "it talks a lot but does nothing concrete," AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller OPPOSITION DUMA DEPUTIES SUPPORT LEBED OUSTER . . . Opposition deputies in the State Duma agreed with the decision to fire Aleksandr Lebed. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said, "We have always insisted that we should have one government, not three," while a close ally, Culture Committee Chairman Stanislav Govorukhin, said Lebed's dismissal had somewhat "reconciled" him with the current authorities, because Lebed had demonstrated "what a frightening face the other could have," NTV and Russian TV (RTR) reported on 18 October. The Yabloko faction wanted to formally ask Yeltsin to fire Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, whose accusations immediately precipitated Lebed's ouster, but their plea was rejected by the Duma. -- Laura Belin . . . BUT ALSO TAKE AIM AT CHUBAIS. Even as they welcomed Lebed's dismissal, opposition Duma deputies still appeared concerned about the power held by presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais. On 18 October the Duma approved a motion put forward by Legislation Committee Chairman Anatolii Lukyanov of the Communist faction, which asked the Constitutional Court to examine a recent presidential decree creating an emergency commission on tax collection, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. That decree has been viewed as strengthening Chubais' authority in economic matters. On 16 October, Communist Duma deputies asked the Central Electoral Commission and the Procurator-General's Office to investigate allegations published in Sovetskaya Rossiya that President Yeltsin's reelection campaign illegally funneled millions of dollars to politicians and media outlets sympathetic to the president (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 October 1996). Chubais was an important figure in the Yeltsin campaign. -- Laura Belin RUTSKOI ELECTED GOVERNOR OF KURSK. Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi was elected governor of his native Kursk region on 20 October. Rutskoi gathered 78.9% of the vote, ITAR-TASS reported. Rutskoi was registered as a candidate only on 17 October after the presidium of the Supreme Court overruled the decision of the Kursk Electoral Commission to disqualify him because he did not meet residence requirements. Rutskoi easily defeated his main opponent, incumbent Governor Vasilii Shuteev (who got 17.9%) even after the oblast Duma turned down his plea to postpone the vote for a week to give him time to campaign. Rutskoi was helped by the fact that the Communist and Agrarian Party candidates withdrew in his favor on the eve of the election, since those parties have performed well in Kursk in recent elections. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski GOVERNORS' ELECTION RESULTS. Leonid Gorbenko defeated incumbent Kaliningrad Governor Yurii Matochkin in a runoff race on 20 October with 43% turnout. Matochkin had the strong support of Yeltsin's administration. In the Kirov Oblast, Communist-backed Duma member Vladimir Sergeenkov won 51% of the vote in a runoff with 54% turnout. The incumbent did not even make it to the second round there. In Pskov, Governor Vladislav Tumanov now faces a runoff against Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Duma Deputy Yevgenii Mikhailov. Incumbent Igor Farkhutdinov won his race in Sakhalin Oblast, as did Governor Nikolai Volkov in Birobidzhan (the Jewish Autonomous Oblast). Thus the opposition won two races outright on 20 October (Kursk and Kirov), while the administration took Sakhalin and Birobidzhan, bringing the total since the Saratov elections to six for the administration, four for the opposition, and one anti-incumbent victory for an independent. -- Robert Orttung CIS PRIME MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW. CIS heads of government discussed economic, political, and military integration at an 18 October meeting, Russian media reported. Before the session, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told ITAR-TASS that "incomplete" economic reform in some CIS states was hampering the process of economic integration. Nevertheless, Chernomyrdin declared in an address to the session that a new model of "post-Soviet," or "Eurasian" integration is now "an accomplished fact." Kommersant-Daily on 19 October termed the establishment of a new CIS financial-industrial group, "Granit," the meeting's most important decision. Officially slated to produce equipment for the joint CIS air defense, the paper speculated that the firm will engage in international arms sales, circumventing the scandal- plagued Russian monopoly Rosvooruzhenie. -- Scott Parrish U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY IN SEVERODVINSK. William Perry visited Severodvinsk (Arkhangelsk Oblast) on 18 October and witnessed the scrapping of a Yankee-class nuclear missile submarine under the provisions of the START I arms control agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported. Some 40 submarines have already been scrapped. Perry later expressed "optimism" that Russia will ratify START II. Most Russian media, however, concluded that Perry's visit and speech in the Duma had done little to bolster the treaty's chances of ratification. Nezavismya Gazeta said some Duma deputies regarded Perry's visit as a "complete flop," while Segodnya complained that Perry had "demanded" ratification rather than merely "urging" it. -- Scott Parrish MOST ARMY VOLUNTEERS ARE WOMEN. Currently there are 230,000 contract soldiers, making up 15% of the Russian army, and their number is unlikely to rise above 30% before the year 2000, according to an article in Segodnya on 17 October. A 30 November 1992 government decree stipulated that volunteers should account for 10% of the army in 1993, rising to 50% by 2000. However, more than half the volunteers are women, mostly military wives, and the authors argue that "the army needs, first of all, men." Many volunteers quit before the end of their term and many are fired for poor performance--26,000 in 1993, 33,000 in 1994, and 46,000 in 1995. Volunteers currently earn 400,000 to 800,000 rubles ($75-150) a month. On 16 May President Yeltsin issued a decree calling for Russia to shift to an all-volunteer force: the plan was greeted with skepticism by most military officials. -- Peter Rutland GAS, ELECTRICITY PRICES FROZEN. President Yeltsin signed a decree on 18 October freezing electricity and natural gas prices at their current level until the end of the year, ITAR-TASS reported. On 8 October Prime Minister Chernomyrdin had told the Federation Council that such a move was in preparation. Radio Rossii also reported on 19 October that the decree instructs the Federal Energy Commission to cut the price of electricity from 1 November. The freeze is a response to the debt crisis facing many regional power generation companies, and comes in the face of pressure from the IMF to liberalize energy prices. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UN DENIES ALLEGED SUPPORT FOR ABKHAZ ELECTIONS. The Political Department of the UN has issued a statement denying that Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's special envoy for Abkhazia, Edouard Brunner, expressed "support" for the parliamentary elections to be held in Abkhazia on 23 November, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 October, quoting the Georgian Foreign Ministry. Republic of Abkhazia Radio as monitored by the BBC quoted Brunner on 11 October as stating that "when a parliament has run its term ... it has to be renewed" and implying that ethnic Georgian refugees from Abkhazia should be permitted to participate in the vote. The Abkhaz Supreme Soviet in exile in Tbilisi denounced Brunner's statement and demanded his replacement. -- Liz Fuller LUKOIL DISCUSSES NEW CONTRACT WITH AZERBAIJAN. The president and vice president of LUKoil held talks in Baku on 19 October with Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR and President Heidar Aliev on the joint exploitation of the Inam off-shore Caspian deposit, which has known reserves of 120-150 million metric tons, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. LUKoil wants a 50% share in the project. Speaking at a press conference in Baku on 19 October, Aliev mentioned as additional spheres for cooperation with LUKoil the creation of a joint insurance company and of a company for the overhaul of floating oil rigs. -- Liz Fuller KAZAKSTAN, RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT ON ENERGY. Kazakstani Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin signed seven bilateral agreements with his Russian counterpart Viktor Chernomyrdin in Moscow on 18 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreements cover a range of issues from rental of military complexes in Kazakstan to the avoidance of double taxation. Also on 18 October, the Kazakstani government approved a resolution allowing regional heads in six northern regions to make their own deals for electricity supplies from Russia. Supplies to these regions were cut off in August because of Kazakstan's unpaid bills, amounting to over $400 million. In exchange for supplies of electricity, the northern regions are sending grain to Russia. -- Bruce Pannier PAKISTAN'S PRESIDENT VISITS UZBEKISTAN. Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari on 20 October concluded a three-day visit to Uzbekistan, where he met President Islam Karimov and other government officials, ITAR-TASS reported. The two leaders signed several agreements, ranging from anti- drug trafficking cooperation to joint-venture trading. According to Uzbek TV on 18 October, bilateral trade is restricted because of the blockage of transport routes across Afghanistan. Trade between Uzbekistan and Pakistan stood at $12.7 million for the first six months of 1996, up from $11.6 million for all of 1995. -- Roger Kangas [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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