A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 206, Part I, 23 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

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RUSSIA

SCANDAL IN THE INTERIOR MINISTRY. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov on
22 October dismissed Vladimir Rushailo, the first deputy head of the
Interior Ministry's Main Administration for Organized Crime, ITAR-TASS
reported. Rushailo, until 10 October the head of the Moscow Regional
Organized Crime Administration (RUOP), held an unsanctioned press
conference on 22 October at which he criticized his new boss and his
RUOP replacement, Moskovskii komsomolets reported. Rushailo had
reportedly asked Kulikov to give him back his old post and threatened to
call the press conference if his request was not met. The RUOP, modeled
on the FBI, was set up in February 1993. There has been speculation that
the decision to move Rushailo to a more senior, but less powerful post
was linked to his regard for the former head of the presidential
security service, Aleksandr Korzhakov. -- Penny Morvant

LEBED PREDICTS RYBKIN WILL HAVE GREATER POWERS . . . Former Security
Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed met with his successor Ivan Rybkin and
suggested that, since Rybkin is very loyal to the president, the powers
of his office may soon be "significantly strengthened," NTV reported on
22 October. On the same day, presidential spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii said President Boris Yeltsin will not formally appoint a
new adviser on national security as Rybkin can fulfill that role. Until
17 October Lebed served as both Yeltsin's national security adviser and
Security Council secretary. Lebed's prediction is supported by comments
made on 21 October by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who suggested
that in addition to the Chechnya crisis, the Security Council would
examine questions concerning the power ministries, as well as certain
economic problems. Chernomyrdin had repeatedly rebuffed Lebed's attempts
to assert authority in those areas. -- Laura Belin

. . . BUT COMMUNISTS SEEK TO LIMIT HIS AUTHORITY. A draft law being
prepared in the State Duma would define the Security Council as a purely
consultative organ and would limit its secretary to "organizational"
activities such as implementing the council's decisions, NTV reported on
22 October. Communists in the parliament criticized Lebed's peacemaking
activities in Chechnya and charged that he exceeded his authority in
signing the Khasavyurt accords. The draft law would also make the
chairmen of both houses of parliament members of the Security Council ex
officio, ITAR-TASS reported. Rybkin joined the council when he was Duma
speaker, currently Seleznev has been excluded. -- Laura Belin

DOCTOR, SPOKESMAN: YELTSIN'S OPERATION TO GO AHEAD. American
cardiologist Michael DeBakey announced that, for now, there are no
complications that could force President Yeltsin's heart bypass
operation to be postponed, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 22 October. On
the same day, Yeltsin's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii said
Yeltsin remains "firmly committed" to undergoing heart surgery, AFP
reported. DeBakey, who took part in medical consultations with the
president in September, confirmed that he will travel to Moscow sometime
in the second half of November for the operation. -- Laura Belin

KORZHAKOV CALLS ON YELTSIN TO STEP DOWN. Describing Yeltsin as "an ill
old man," former Presidential Security Service head Aleksandr Korzhakov
told The Guardian on 23 October that the president should hand over
power to the prime minister. The previous day, Nikolai Yegorov, another
former Kremlin hardliner, urged Yeltsin to hold early presidential
elections, saying he was not fit to rule. Korzhakov contended that
Yeltsin had fallen under the influence of his daughter and Chief of
Staff Anatolii Chubais, whom he claimed controlled all appointments and
presidential decrees. "We have a regent with a president still alive,"
he asserted, adding "I wouldn't like things to get to a level of popular
revolt, but events are moving this way." -- Penny Morvant

CHECHEN LEADERSHIP REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO PEACE. Ruslan Khutaev, deputy
premier of the newly-formed Chechen interim coalition government
responsible for relations with Russia and the CIS, traveled to Moscow on
22 October to deliver to Chernomyrdin a statement by acting Chechen
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov
reiterating their commitment to the Chechen peace process, ITAR-TASS and
AFP reported. Khutaev also aims to open a new representation in Moscow
and to meet with Rybkin, NTV reported. Maskhadov has issued orders on
the creation of special armed units to guard Chechen oil installations
against theft, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 22 October. -- Liz Fuller

CIA: RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS WEAKENING. The CIA confirmed on 22
October a leaked report cited by The Washington Times that day, which
expressed concern with the erosion of the Russian nuclear command and
control system, Western agencies reported. The paper had quoted the
report as worrying about "conspiracies within armed units" to commit
blackmail using parts of Russia's arsenal of 28,000 nuclear warheads.
The report expressed particular concern with the "poor" safeguards
preventing unauthorized use of tactical nuclear weapons. Although
details of the report undermine official U.S. and Russian assurances
that Moscow retains tight control of its nuclear arsenal, CIA analysts
emphasized that the chance of unauthorized nuclear use in Russia remains
"low." -- Scott Parrish

LUZHKOV RENEWS CLAIMS ON SEVASTOPOL. Two days before Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma is scheduled to meet with Yeltsin, Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov published an open letter in the 22 October edition of
Moskovskaya pravda urging Yeltsin to publicly "confirm on all levels the
Russian status of Sevastopol," and include a clause to that effect in
the draft Ukrainian-Russian friendship treaty. The letter was reprinted
on 23 October in the official Russian government paper Rossiskaya
gazeta, and in Trud. Luzhkov argued that Sevastopol remains
administratively subordinate to Moscow under a 1948 decree of the
Russian Supreme Soviet, which he claimed was not altered by the 1954
transfer of Crimea Oblast from Russia to Ukraine. Although Russian
diplomats have repeatedly repudiated Luzhkov's statements and insisted
that Russia has no claims on Sevastopol, his remarks have drawn heavy
criticism from Kyiv. -- Scott Parrish

NOVODVORSKAYA CASE REFERRED. Although a verdict was expected on 22
October, the judge presiding over the trial of longtime dissident
Valeriya Novodvorskaya instead asked the prosecutor's office to conduct
further investigation, Russian media reported. Novodvorskaya, leader of
the radical Democratic Union, is accused of spreading ethnic hatred
toward Russians in two newspaper articles and one television interview
dating from 1993 and 1994 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 September 1996).
Prosecutors are seeking a prison term of one and a half years.
Novodvorskaya's lawyer, Genri Reznik, described the judge as a
"bureaucrat" who was trying to avoid responsibility, since further
investigation could take months. -- Laura Belin

MEDICAL WORKERS PROTEST. Medical workers staged a string of protests
across Russia on 22 October to demand the payment of back wages and
adequate funding for the health-care sector, RTR and Reuters reported.
They threatened to take further industrial action from 25 October to 5
November if their demands are not met. According to union leader Mikhail
Kuzmenko, in the first 10 months of 1996, the health-care sector
received only 38% of the 4.6 trillion rubles budgeted for the year.
Under the constitution, Russian citizens are guaranteed free medical
care, but in practice people pay for food, medicine, and often treatment
as well. -- Penny Morvant

TULA MINERS STRIKE. About 20,000 workers of the Tulaugol Coal Company on
22 October began an indefinite strike in Tula Oblast, protesting wage
arrears of 100 billion rubles ($18.4 million), ITAR-TASS reported.
According to the local trade union committee, almost 90% of the
employees participated in the strike; they intend to picket the local
government building on 29 October. The miners will also attend a march
and meeting in Tula as part of a protest of the all-Russian trade union
on 5 November. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

GAZPROM STARTS INTERNATIONAL SALE OF SHARES. Russia's giant Gazprom,
which owns one-quarter of the world's gas reserves, began the first
international flotation of its shares on 21 October, ITAR-TASS and
Kommersant-Daily reported. The shares (237 million, or 1% of the equity
capital) are issued in the form of American Depository Receipts (ADRs)
and will be sold in bundles of 10 at $15.75 per bundle. Gazprom's recent
conflict with the government over tax payments did not undermine foreign
investor's interest: the shares were trading on 23 October at $18.25 per
bundle. Gazprom expects to raise some $400 million from this operation.
Gazprom is the first Russian company to have its shares listed in
London. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

VERDICT IN GEORGIAN ANTI-SEMITISM CASE. Givi Alaznispireli, owner and
editor of the newspaper Noe, has been sentenced to one year's
imprisonment "for violating national and racial equality," BGI reported
on 19 October. Alaznispireli was arrested in August after publishing a
virulently anti-Semitic article in his paper. -- Liz Fuller

UN CALLS ON ABKHAZ LEADERSHIP TO POSTPONE ELECTIONS. The UN Security
Council on 22 October called on the leadership of the breakaway Georgian
region of Abkhazia to postpone parliamentary elections scheduled for 23
November until a political settlement is reached on Abkhazia's status
vis-a-vis the Tbilisi government, Reuters reported. The statement
contradicts the opinion expressed two weeks ago by UN Secretary-General
Boutros Boutros-Ghali's special envoy for Abkhazia, Swiss diplomat
Edouard Brunner, who told Abkhaz Radio that a new parliament should be
elected given that the term of the existing one was due to expire. Also
on 22 October, the UN Security Council passed a resolution (despite
Chinese objections) to establish a two-person office in the Abkhaz
capital, Sukhumi, to monitor human rights violations, according to AFP.
Abkhaz Security Service head Astamur Tarba denied Georgian TV reports
that Abkhaz militants had attacked a village in Abkhazia's Gali raion
and abducted four ethnic Georgians, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 October.
Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba accused the Georgian authorities of
launching a campaign of "terror and sabotage" in order to prevent the
elections. -- Liz Fuller

FINAL RESULTS OF ARMENIAN ELECTIONS. The Armenian Central Election
Commission released the final results of the 22 September presidential
polls, confirming the victory of the incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan with
52.75% of the vote, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 October. The opposition,
whose candidate, Vazgen Manukyan, won 41.3% of the vote, has accused the
authorities of election rigging and plans to appeal the official results
to the Constitutional Court. -- Emil Danielyan

LEADER OF RULING PARTY ON ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER. The chairman of
Armenia's ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement party (HHSh), Ter-Husik
Lazaryan, in an interview with RFE/RL on 22 October, called on Prime
Minister Hrant Bagratyan to step down. Lazaryan claimed that Bagratyan
is to blame for the country's economic hardships that resulted in the
poorer than expected performance of Ter-Petrossyan in the disputed 22
September election. Lazaryan's statements follow similar comments by
other HHSh leaders. In his first post-election speech Ter-Petrossyan
promised a "serious reshuffle" of the government. -- Emil Danielyan

KARABAKH ELECTION RUMPUS. Azerbaijan's Central Electoral Commission on
22 October issued a statement condemning as "an attempt to legalize a
puppet regime" the presidential elections scheduled for 24 November by
the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turan reported. The
agency also quoted the U.S. Ambassador to Baku, Richard Kauzlarich, as
stating that the U.S. government does not recognize the legitimacy of
the elections. To date four presidential candidates have been
registered: incumbent Robert Kocharyan, former parliament deputy speaker
Boris Arushanyan, Nagorno-Karabakh Communist Party head Hrant Melkumyan,
and the head of the Control Inspection of the government of the RNK,
Albert Ghazaryan, Noyan Tapan reported on 22 October. -- Liz Fuller

AID FOR RECONSTRUCTION, REFUGEES IN AZERBAIJAN. Representatives of the
World Bank, the UN Development Program, and the Azerbaijani government
signed an agreement in Baku on 22 October on financial aid for
reconstruction work in seven raions of Azerbaijan destroyed by fighting
in 1993, ITAR-TASS reported. The estimated cost of reconstruction is $22
billion; the World Bank will provide $50 million. Donor countries
provided $7.6 million towards the cost of UNHCR programs for
reconstruction in 1996, according to Turan on 22 October, quoting the
head of the UNHCR program for Azerbaijan, Ann Howard-Whiles. -- Liz
Fuller

UZBEK YOUTH ORGANIZATION STARTS PAPER. The youth organization Kamolot
(Perfection) sent to press the first issue of its independent newspaper,
Uzbek radio reported on 20 October. Also called Kamolot, the newspaper
will begin service in the Namangan region and will partially act as a
promotional vehicle for the organization. Founded in the summer of 1996,
Kamolot is a government-funded "non-governmental organization" which is
supposed to fill the role of the Soviet-era Komsomol. Unlike that
entity, however, Kamolot is allowed to court Western companies for
financial assistance which can be matched by government contributions.
-- Roger Kangas

JAPAN TO LOAN TURKMENISTAN $120 MILLION. The Export-Import Bank of
Japan, after consulting with Japanese commercial banks, announced that a
loan of $120 million would be extended to Turkmenistan, according to
Reuters and RFE/RL. The money is slated to be used in upgrading the oil
refining industry with the hope of diversifying the economy and reducing
pollutants. The Export-Import Bank will put up 60% of the loan (about
$73 million) and the remainder will be co-financed by three Japanese
banks. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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