There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene

No. 205, Part I, 22 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:

Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest
provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments
throughout the region.

The latest issue includes stories on Russia's Gazprom looking to expand
in Europe, a special economic zone in Kazakstan, and the failure of the
grain harvest in Ukraine.

For subscription and rate information, please send a message to


YELTSIN CREATES NEW RULING COUNCIL. President Boris Yeltsin created a
new Consultative Council that will include him, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev, and Duma Speaker
Gennadii Seleznev, the presidential administration's Rossiiskie vesti
reported on 22 October. Seleznev, who discussed the idea with Yeltsin on
21 October, said the council will meet at least twice a month and will
resolve key issues of relations between the legislative and executive
branches. While Yeltsin is sick, Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais will
take his place on the council. Seleznev is among those who have argued
that Chubais is playing too large a role in running the country.
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 22 October pointed out that Yeltsin had coopted
former Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin by bringing him into the Security
Council in 1994, and that Seleznev may follow the same path. Kommersant-
Daily described the new council as an attempt to build on the atmosphere
of cooperation between the two branches fostered by the ouster of former
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, who was unpopular with the
majority of parliamentarians. -- Robert Orttung

Council secretary, Rybkin issued an order to his staff not to destroy
any documents, he told Komsomolskaya pravda on 22 October. He noted that
the council staff was too large and planned to start cutting it
immediately, RIA Novosti reported. Rossiiskie vesti welcomed Rybkin as
the "master of compromise" who has replaced the "decisive politician"
Lebed. During his meeting with Yeltsin, Seleznev proposed that Rybkin's
office should be in Grozny, since short trips to the region did not give
him a chance to understand what is happening there. Rybkin said that he
will go to Chechnya as soon as is necessary. Nezavisimaya gazeta warned
that the military is concerned that the civilian Rybkin will not devote
as much attention to the armed forces' problems as did former Lt. Gen.
Lebed, and said it was unlikely that Defense Council Secretary Yurii
Baturin will cede control over security issues to Rybkin. -- Robert

YANDARBIEV ON RYBKIN. In an interview given to NTV on 21 October and
summarized by Western agencies, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev expressed regret that sacked Russian Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed "was not given the chance to finish" the peace
process he initiated in Chechnya, but affirmed his readiness to
cooperate with Lebed's successor Rybkin. Yandarbiev stressed that
Chechnya "is not a part of Russia" and called for the withdrawal "to the
last soldier" of the Russian troops still there, which failed to pull
out before the 20 October deadline. Presenting Rybkin to the Security
Council in Moscow on 21 October, Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin again warned that Chechnya would not be permitted to secede
from the Russian Federation, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

Yegorov, Chubais's predecessor as presidential chief of staff, called on
Yeltsin to set new presidential elections in a Moskovskii komsomolets
interview, AFP reported on 22 October. He said that "we need a president
who is active" to get Russia out of its political crisis. He claimed
that Yeltsin does not know what is going on and that the country is in a
pre-revolutionary situation. Yegorov accused Chubais of amassing
excessive powers by manipulating the president's daughter Tatyana
Dyachenko. Yegorov was named to his current post on 15 July after being
fired from the administration. He faces gubernatorial elections on 27
October but the administration has kept its distance from the race. --
Robert Orttung

Russian TV (RTR) refused to broadcast an episode of the news magazine
"Sovershenno sekretno" (Top Secret) devoted to former presidential
bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov, leading Korzhakov to threaten to release
the videotape himself, Radio Mayak reported on 19 October. In an
interview published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 19 October, the show's
host, Artem Borovik, claimed that RTR Chairman Eduard Sagalaev was under
pressure not to air the episode. But Borovik said the program, in which
Korzhakov presumably attacks his enemies within the presidential
administration, is balanced and also includes commentary by Korzhakov's
critics. He added, "If Chubais were in [Korzhakov's] place, I would have
done the same thing." The controversy places Sagalaev in a difficult
position; Korzhakov supported his appointment as RTR chairman in
February, but he could be sacked if he alienates those who currently
have the upper hand in the president's camp. -- Laura Belin

PRIMAKOV ON RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. In a front-page article in
Nezavisimaya Gazeta on 22 October, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
laid out four conditions for the establishment of a stable post-cold war
international order: preventing the emergence of new "dividing lines;"
breaking the mentality of "leaders" and "led;" democratizing
international economic relations; and coordinating cooperative action by
the international community. Primakov argued that the OSCE should have
the leading role in the emerging European security system, while
conceding that NATO, the EU, and the UN should also play important
parts. He reiterated Russia's opposition to NATO expansion, but said
Russia was ready to negotiate a special pact with the alliance. -- Scott

DUMA STILL DISSATISFIED WITH START II. Despite last week's cajoling by
U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev
told visiting U.S. Senator Sam Nunn that the Duma has no plans to force
the pace of START II ratification, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 October. At
a later meeting, Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir
Lukin suggested to Nunn that "negotiations to amend the treaty so that
ratification can move forward" should begin. Some, including newly
appointed Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, have suggested
negotiating a new START III treaty to address Russian concerns before
ratifying START II. -- Scott Parrish

Yeltsin approved on 21 October a new statute for the presidential
Commission on Human Rights, ITAR-TASS and Kommersant-Daily reported. It
describes the commission as an advisory and consultative body, whose
duties include examining human rights violations and drafting an annual
report on the human rights situation. Its members have the right to
visit state institutions and demand information related to human rights.
An expert council is to be set up under the commission composed of
representatives of scientific and nongovernmental organizations; its
membership must be approved by the president. The commission, set up in
November 1993, was initially headed by Sergei Kovalev. He and several
other members resigned in January and February 1996 in the wake of the
bloody events in Pervomaiskoe and a reshuffle in the presidential
administration that reduced the independence of the commission. -- Penny

Council Deputy Chairman Vasilii Likhachev, from Tatarstan, spoke to
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on the problem of the "Islamic
factor" on 21 October. Likhachev told Radio Mayak that many State Duma
deputies attempt to label such republics as Yakutiya, Bashkortostan,
Kalmykia, and Tatarstan as "pro-Muslim" and "pro-Turkish." He asked
Chernomyrdin to take steps to prevent unnamed Moscow politicians from
playing "the Islamic card" in trying to divide Russians along
Muslim/Christian lines. Likhachev proposed that the government convene a
conference on the topic "The Fate of Islam in Russia." -- Nikolai

NUCLEAR WORKERS STRIKE. Workers at two of Russia's nine atomic power
stations went on strike on 21 October, ITAR-TASS reported. About 2,500
workers from the Smolensk nuclear power plant and 250 employees of the
Kalinin plant near Tver stopped all but essential operations for an hour
to demand the payment of wage arrears. Workers at the Smolensk plant
have not been paid since June, while their colleagues at the Kalinin
station have not received pay since July. The Russian law on nuclear
energy bars nuclear power plant workers from striking. This summer
workers at the Sosnovy Bor nuclear plant near St. Petersburg staged
various protest actions, including a hunger strike, to demand the
payment of wage arrears. NTV said on 15 October that customers owe
Russia's atomic power stations about 3.5 trillion rubles ($640 billion)
as of 3 October. -- Penny Morvant

PROBLEMS FINANCING THE HEALTH SECTOR. In the first 10 months of the year
the health care sector received only 38% of the funds earmarked in the
1996 budget, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 October, citing Health Minister
Tatyana Dmitrieva. Hospitals and research laboratories received only 52%
of expected funds, and medical educational institutions 71%. This money
is barely enough to pay salaries, which are often delayed, and only
covers some 30% of needed medicines or equipment. The head of the Duma's
Committee for Health Care, Nikolai Gerasimenko, complained that many of
Russia's medical institutions are unable to deliver even the minimum
level of services to the population. -- Natalia Gurushina

FOREIGN TRADE CONTINUES TO RISE. Russia's foreign trade surplus stood at
$24 billion in the first eight months of 1996, with imports of $31
billion and exports $55 billion, Delovoi mir reported on 18 October.
Total trade turnover was 8.1% up on the same period in 1995. While trade
with the "far abroad" rose only 3.2%, trade with the CIS rose 27.2%,
testifying to a modest revival of economic ties between the former
Soviet states. In August, for the first time, there was no trade deficit
with the CIS countries. Energy continued to accounted for 45% of
Russia's overall exports. Foreign Trade Minister Oleg Davydov said on 21
October that the remaining 22 trading companies operating in his
ministry will be privatized by the end of 1997, once the problem of
their outstanding debts is solved, ITAR-TASS reported. In recent months
the ministry has been restructured as part of an effort to concentrate
responsibility for foreign trade, including trade in weapons. -- Peter

CENTRAL BANK CUTS REFINANCING RATE. The Central Bank cut its annual
refinancing rate from 80% to 60% effective on 21 October, ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 October. This is the fourth reduction this year (the
refinancing rate was cut from 160% in February). The bank wants to bring
the refinancing rate closer to the interest rate on the market for
interbank credits, which at present is 40-50% annually. The new
refinancing rate is also closer to the current yields on state short-
term bonds (treasury bills), which dropped from some 70% in August to
55-60% a year in mid-October. The government acknowledges that with
annual inflation at around 20% the interest rate will have to come down
to roughly 25% if investment is to revive. -- Natalia Gurushina


Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union (GAKM), an Armenian opposition
party, has issued a statement calling for a boycott of the local
elections due in November, Noyan Tapan reported on 21 October. According
to GAKM, the elections cannot be considered democratic because of "the
illegitimacy of the authorities and the constitution that have been
adopted through falsifications." The statement concluded that all
efforts to change the government through elections are now "fruitless"
in Armenia. -- Emil Danielyan

ACCIDENTS IN KAZAKSTAN. An oil pipeline exploded near the Caspian
coastal city of Aktau on 18 October, spilling tons of crude oil into the
sea, RFE/RL reported. No casualty figures have been released nor has an
exact assessment of damage been given. However, officials there say the
problem is now under control. In the central Kazakstan area of Karaganda
seven miners were killed in accidents last week on two separate days.
The incidents occurred at the Shakhtinskaya and Dutovskaya mines. --
Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

celebration of the 660th anniversary of Amir Timur, or Tamerlane, began
on 18 October, Narodnoe slovo reported, as monitored by the BBC on 21
October. Uzbek President Islam Karimov officially opened a museum in
Tashkent devoted to the Central Asian figure, noting that "the civilized
world has a proper appreciation of Tamerlane's undying service to
mankind." The ceremony included readings from the Koran, blessings from
honored elders, and a traditional plov (pilau) feast. For the next
month, similar celebrations will take place throughout Uzbekistan. --
Roger Kangas

speaking countries assembled in Tashkent on 21 October, AFP reported. It
was the fourth meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. Discussion centered on
trade relations: although the subject of Afghanistan was touched on,
Uzbek President Islam Karimov said the heads of state "would not be
dragged into settling political matters." However, some time was devoted
to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
again said that he was prepared to give maximum autonomy to the region
but that "Nagorno-Karabakh will never be independent." The presidents
signed a declaration condemning terrorism and separatism, and
reiterating "their firm and unchanging commitment to the principles of
democracy, respect for human rights and a market economy," said Karimov.
-- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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:
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.


Send the words "index daily-digest" to MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ

                                  REPRINT POLICY
To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ
or see the Web page at

                              OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS

OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded
analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For subscription
information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit the Transition
Web page at

The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic
news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription
available; for more information, write to ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the
Economic Digest Web page at

The OMRI Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication (published
every Wednesday) on initially focusing on the local elections taking
place throughout Russia during the Fall of 1996. After the election
season is over, the Russian Regional Report will continue, turning to
broader social, political and economic issues of Russia's regions. To
subscribe, please follow these instructions:
1) Compose a message to:
2) In the body of the message, write:
   Fill in your own first and last names where shown
3) Send the message

Pursuing Balkan Peace focuses on the implementation of the Dayton
Accords in the former Yugoslavia.  This weekly publication, published
every Tuesday, contains both brief news summaries and longer essays on
specific events or issues facing the people of the region.  To
subscribe, please follow these instructions:
1) Compose a message to:
2) In the body of the message, write:
   Fill in your own first and last names where shown
3) Send the message

The full text of the OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and
distributed the following day.
1) Compose a message to:
2) In the body of the message, write:
   Fill in your own name where shown
3) Send the message

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook

1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver


News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole