Everyone knows it is much harder to turn word into deed than deed into word. - Maxim Gorky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 207, Part I, 24 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

CHERNOMYRDIN ADDRESSES FSB. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 23
October urged the Federal Security Service (FSB) to steer clear of
political conflicts, international agencies reported. At an unusual
meeting with senior FSB officers, he warned that "unspecified people are
taking advantage of the democratic transformation" to create extremist
and paramilitary organizations, noting a tendency toward "essentially
forcible methods of resolving social problems in unconstitutional ways."
Chernomyrdin's comments came a week after Aleksandr Lebed was fired
following charges that he was plotting to form his own army.
Chernomyrdin also said no major personnel changes were planned. There
have been rumors that 30 FSB generals are to be fired, including
Director Nikolai Kovalev. The meeting was attended by Presidential Chief
of Staff Anatolii Chubais. -- Penny Morvant

LEBED UPDATE. The Interior Ministry has sent the Procurator-General's
Office documents concerning allegations that Lebed was plotting a
military coup before he was sacked on 17 October, ITAR-TASS reported on
23 October. In an interview with Argumenty i fakty (no. 43), Lebed again
dismissed the coup allegations and claimed President Yeltsin is "easily
persuaded" through his daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko. In a recent
interview with the American television network ABC, Lebed accused
Chubais of feeding the president "distorted information," Izvestiya
reported on 24 October. Lebed also told Argumenty i fakty that he will
not contest a December gubernatorial election in Tula Oblast, where he
was elected to the State Duma last year. -- Laura Belin

DUMA APPEALS ON FUNDING FOR JUDICIARY. The State Duma asked the
Constitutional Court to examine the government's decision not to include
allocations for the judicial system in the so-called "protected
articles" of the 1996 budget, funds that absolutely must be paid out,
ITAR-TASS reported on 23 October. The Duma argued that Article 124 of
the constitution requires the federal government to fund courts
adequately. Chronic underfunding has left some courts unable to pay
their workers' salaries or to provide adequate security for judges. In
St. Petersburg, a majority of district courts were recently forced to
shut down (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 October 1996). Also on 23 October,
the Duma passed on the third reading a draft law outlining the procedure
for passing constitutional amendments (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 October
1996). The law will now be sent to the Federation Council. -- Laura
Belin

COURTS CONVICT RUTSKOI OF LIBEL, ZHIRINOVSKY OF SLANDER. A Moscow court
ordered newly elected Kursk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Rutskoi to
apologize to Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar, Radio
Rossii and Ekho Moskvy reported on 23 October. In a November 1995
article published in Argumenty i fakty, Rutskoi accused Gaidar of
exporting $96 million worth of diamonds while he served in the
government in 1992 and 1993. On the same day, a different Moscow court
ordered Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky to pay 10
million rubles ($1,800) in damages to former Federal Security Service
Director Sergei Stepashin for calling him an agent of the CIA and Mossad
in late 1994. The court also instructed Zhirinovsky to renounce that
accusation in the next session of the State Duma. -- Laura Belin

YBKIN MEETS WITH GULDIMANN. Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin met
on 23 October with the head of the OSCE mission to Chechnya, Tim
Guldimann, Russian media reported. Rybkin also asked Guldimann to convey
to acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and interim Prime
Minister Aslan Maskhadov a verbal message reiterating his commitment to
the peace process and proposing a meeting with them. Also on 23 October,
Rybkin met with pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev and
concurred with the latter's argument that "the peace agreements should
be fully implemented by both sides and not just by the federal side as
is currently the case," Russian Public Television (ORT) reported. -- Liz
Fuller

DUMA PASSES LAW BARRING DIVISION OF BLACK SEA FLEET. On the eve of a
Moscow visit by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, the Duma
overwhelmingly gave final approval to a bill halting the division of the
Black Sea Fleet, Russian and Western agencies reported on 23 October
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 October 1996). The bill, which has prompted
threats of retaliation from Kyiv, would ban the transfer of Black Sea
Fleet ships and related infrastructure to Ukraine until a bilateral
treaty regulating "all aspects" of Russo-Ukrainian relations is signed.
Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin said it
reflects deputies' frustration that Kyiv has "torpedoed" some 15
previous agreements on the fleet. Aleksandr Kotenkov, Yeltsin's
representative in the Duma, criticized the bill, which now goes to the
Federation Council. -- Scott Parrish

REACTION TO CLINTON SPEECH ON NATO. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov responded indifferently to President Clinton's pledge to admit
the first East European members of NATO by 1999, refusing to make any
"specific comment" and merely reasserting Moscow's opposition to
enlargement of the alliance, Russian and Western agencies reported on 23
October. Asked if he thought the alliance would actually manage to
accept new members by 1999, he replied: "We'll wait and see."
Komsomolskaya pravda on 24 October described Clinton's announcement in
Michigan as largely aimed at courting the state's ethnic East European
voters, while Izvestiya termed Clinton's support for a special
relationship between NATO and Russia "the most important thing" in his
speech. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, INDIA SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Russian Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov and his Indian counterpart Mulayam Singh Yadav signed a defense
cooperation agreement in New Delhi on 23 October, Russian and Western
media reported. The agreement provides for information exchange, joint
exercises, and officer exchanges, according to ITAR-TASS. Rodionov did
not, however, conclude an anticipated $1.8 billion sale of 40 SU-30
fighter-bombers to India. Rodionov complained that uncooperative
bureaucrats in Moscow were hindering arms sales to India. On 22 October,
Rodionov met with Indian Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda and the two
issued a joint denunciation of "fundamentalist" and "extremist" forces
in the region, a reference to recent developments in Afghanistan, which
have disturbed both Moscow and New Delhi. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA SAYS NUCLEAR ARMS UNDER CONTROL. Russian officials and experts
rebutted on 23 October the findings of a leaked CIA report suggesting
that Moscow's control over its nuclear arsenal is deteriorating, Reuters
reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 October 1996). A Defense Ministry
spokesman declared that "there can be no doubt about the control over
strategic missile forces," adding that a U.S. arms control inspection
team would be reviewing Russian weapons control procedures in the next
few days. Georgii Nasonov, a spokesman for the Ministry of Atomic Power,
said that his American counterparts had expressed "no reservations" like
those detailed in the report. ITAR-TASS highlighted statements by
Nicholas Burns, the U.S. State Department spokesman, who expressed
confidence in Russian control over its nuclear arsenal. -- Scott Parrish

REGIONAL ELECTORAL LAWS VIOLATE FEDERAL STANDARDS. The Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) charged on 23 October that electoral laws in about 25
regions violate federal law by illegally including residency and
language requirements for candidates, ITAR-TASS and Izvestiya reported.
The violators include the republics of Adygeya, Buryatiya, Kareliya,
Marii-El, Sakha (Yakutiya), Khakasiya, and several oblasts and
autonomous okrugs. The TsIK also charged local authorities with
interfering with the work of local electoral commissions. The TsIK noted
violations in Amur, where the communists' challenger apparently won by
189 votes, but found no evidence of foul play in Rostov, where the
incumbent won by a comfortable margin. The TsIK has no enforcement power
over the conduct of regional elections and can only make recommendations
to the president. -- Robert Orttung

YAMAL-NENETS REJECTS RESCHEDULED TYUMEN ELECTIONS. The Yamal Nenets
Autonomous Okrug State Duma voted on 23 October not to participate in
the Tyumen Oblast gubernatorial elections now set (after being changed
twice) for 22 December. Yamal is simultaneously a part of Tyumen oblast
and one of the 89 members of the Russian Federation. Yamal and Khanty-
Mansii Autonomous Okrug, also a part of Tyumen Oblast, control 90% of
Russia's gas and two-thirds of its oil reserves. The Tyumen authorities
want the separatist okrugs to participate in the elections so that
Tyumen can share in their wealth, while the okrug leaders want to deal
with Moscow directly. Kommersant-Daily on 24 October labeled the
elections "the most important of the fall." -- Robert Orttung

RICH REGIONS BLAST 1997 BUDGET. The Federation Council on 23 October
heard loud protests from the 10 regions which will be donors to the
federal budget in 1997, Kommersant-Daily reported. Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov complained that the budget has only one idea - "fleece the
donors." He said donors such as Moscow should keep 60-65% of their taxes
and the other 79 regions should be told "look after yourself."
Konstantin Titov, head of the Federation Council Budget Committee, urged
the donors to "start dictating their conditions" to the government.
Luzhkov said "everyone in Russia should live under the same economic
laws" and "I jokingly suggest that [Moscow] becomes a city of Tatarstan
or Yakutiya, since they have a completely different set of budget
rules." The 1997 budget leaves all the regions responsible for financing
80% of education, 88% of health care, 70% of social spending, and 70% of
economic projects. -- Peter Rutland

DUMA CRITICIZES TAX COLLECTION . . . Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits
told the Duma on 23 October that in the first nine months of the year
the government raised only 71% of expected revenue and 65% of planned
taxes, a shorfall of 71 trillion rubles ($13 billion). Spending was 77%
of the expected level, Segodnya reported on 23 October. The Duma passed
a resolution deeming the implementation of the 1996 budget
unsatisfactory, ITAR-TASS reported. For his part, Livshits said he would
recommend that the government lift tax exemptions for companies and
regions worth some 3 trillion rubles ($550 million), AFP reported. --
Natalia Gurushina

. . . AS TAX COMMISSION ANNOUNCES FIRST TARGETS. The special tax
commission (VChK) created on 11 October held its first meeting on 22
October, Kommersant-Daily reported on 24 October. The commission
dismissed First Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee Valerii
Kruglikov for granting unjustified customs privileges, and issued a
"strict warning" to Livshits and to the head of the State Tax Agency
Vitalii Artyukhov. The commission said it will start bankruptcy
procedures against four companies -- KamAZ, Moskvich, Achinsk Alumina
Plant, and Krasnodarnefteorgsintez. However, KamAZ officials argue that
their budget debts were rescheduled under an April presidential decree.
-- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ABKHAZ ELECTION UPDATE. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili
said on 23 October that the Georgian leadership is appealing to Abkhaz
President Vladislav Ardzinba to abide by the 22 October statement of the
UN Security Council and cancel the parliamentary elections scheduled for
23 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The chairman of the Abkhaz Central
Election Board, Vyacheslav Tsugba, told ITAR-TASS that 90 candidates of
various nationalities, including three ethnic Georgians, had registered
to contend the 35 seats in the new parliament. -- Liz Fuller

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SACKED. Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan has
sacked three top government officials, including Deputy Minister of
Science and Education Ashot Bleyan. Bleyan used to be a leading figure
in the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement party. He became notorious
for controversial plans to reform Armenia's secondary education system
and after a 1992 visit to Azerbaijan, where he called for unilateral
concessions by Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. -- Emil
Danielyan

TURKEY TO OPEN BORDER WITH ARMENIA. Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu
Ciller said on 23 October that Turkey will open its border with Armenia
"after overcoming a few difficulties," AFP reported. The border has been
closed since 1992. Turkey was set to open the border in March, but
backed down at Azerbaijan's request. Ciller's statement may sour
Turkey's relations with Azerbaijan. -- Emil Danielyan

UZBEKISTAN TIGHTENS CURRENCY CONTROLS. In response to the recent drop in
the value of the som, only two banks -- the Bank for Foreign Economic
Activities and the Uzbek Industry and Construction Bank -- will be
allowed to trade in hard currencies, Savdogar reported on 22 October, as
monitored by the BBC. Previously, 12 had been able to do so. In
addition, the number of licensed exchange offices has been reduced from
95 to 39, 23 of which are located in Tashkent. ITAR-TASS reported on 22
October that the Uzbek government has also signed a currency and export
control agreement with Russia in an effort to prevent the circulation of
"dirty" money. -- Roger Kangas

HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER OPENS IN TURKMENISTAN. President Saparmurat Niyazov
officially opened the Democracy and Human Rights Institute in Ashgabat
on 23 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The institute will handle complaints
from citizens about human rights and democratic freedoms and will work
closely with the UN. Its opening appears to be a gesture to the
international community after Turkmenistan received the lowest rating
for political rights from the Freedom House organization last December.
Niyazov said the purpose of the institute is to protect the presidency
"from the influence of other branches of power," and warned citizens not
to take their complaints too far. -- Bruce Pannier
[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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