The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. - Charles Darwin

No. 208, Part I, 25 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:

Note to readers: The OMRI Daily Digest will not appear on 28 October
1996, a Czech national holiday.


radio address on 25 October, President Boris Yeltsin denounced political
infighting among his subordinates and called on all parts of the state
and society to work together, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin blamed the
infighting for holding up the payment of wages and pensions and warned
that he would continue firing those responsible. He said that he had
taken the first step to promote cooperation by ordering regular meetings
between the prime minister, presidential chief of staff, and the
speakers from both houses of parliament. He also said he was prepared to
work with all elected governors. Yeltsin reminded politicians that
Russia had elected him as its leader for the next four years and that it
was not time to engage in electoral campaigns. The day before, Yeltsin
rejected statements by former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
that he was about to dismiss Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian
Public TV reported. -- Robert Orttung

Following Yeltsin's 24 October meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart
Leonid Kuchma at the Barvikha sanatorium, his spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii announced that the two leaders had reached agreement "on
all questions connected with the problem of the Black Sea Fleet,"
Russian and Western agencies reported. Yastrzhembskii added that the
agreement "resolved" the problem of the status of Sevastopol, where much
of the fleet is based. He said Chernomyrdin would travel to Kyiv in mid-
November to sign a formal agreement on the fleet, and also declared that
Yeltsin's first foreign visit after he recovers from his scheduled heart
surgery will be to Kyiv for the signing of the long-delayed bilateral
friendship treaty. -- Scott Parrish

. . . BUT DETAILS REMAIN UNCLEAR. Yeltsin's and Kuchma's dramatic
announcement bears many of the hallmarks of previous failed agreements
supposedly resolving the fleet problem, which foundered amid
disagreements over the terms under which Russia will lease facilities in
Sevastopol. Yastrzhembskii told journalists that it was "too early" to
disclose the details of the agreement, while Kuchma later admitted that
a Russian-Ukrainian working group under the chairmanship of Russian
Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov and Ukrainian First Deputy Prime
Minister Vasyl Durdynets would have to hammer out some remaining points
before Chernomyrdin came to Kyiv. When later pushed for details, Kuchma
was vague, promising only that the "necessary conditions" would be
provided, and refusing to specify the length of the lease Ukraine would
be willing to grant Russia. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA WARNS UKRAINE ON SEVASTOPOL. The Duma adopted a resolution by 282-0
calling on the Ukrainian Rada to reverse its "unilateral approach" to
the division of the Black Sea Fleet, the status of Sevastopol and the
"arbitrary" 1954 transfer of Crimea to Ukraine, Russian agencies
reported on 24 October. Citing Soviet-era documents, the resolution
repeated claims that Sevastopol remains under Russian jurisdiction. It
also proclaimed that Sevastopol "has been, and will be the main base of
the Russian Black Sea Fleet." Ukrainian President Kuchma said the Duma's
recent resolutions on the fleet and Sevastopol "alarmed" Kyiv. -- Scott

prime minister of Chechnya's newly created interim coalition government,
Ruslan Khutaev, told the Russian State Duma's Committee on Geopolitics
on 24 October that the Chechen leadership insists on the withdrawal from
Chechnya of all Russian forces, NTV reported. Under the terms of the
June Nazran agreement, two Russian brigades are to be permanently
stationed in Chechnya; the Khasavyurt agreement signed in late August by
then Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen Chief of
Staff Aslan Maskhadov fails to clarify the troop withdrawal issue. Also
on 24 October, a spokesman for the Chechen interim government said that
the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for January 1997
will be organized directly by Chechnya's Central Electoral Commission
without help from its Russian counterpart, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz

RYBKIN, AUSHEV CALL FOR AMNESTY. Following a lengthy discussion of the
situation in the North Caucasus, Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin
and Ingushetiyan President Ruslan Aushev called on 24 October for an
immediate amnesty for all participants in armed conflicts in Chechnya
and elsewhere in the North Caucasus, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii
reported. The two also called for joint measures to preclude attempts by
"extremist forces" to sabotage the peace process. -- Liz Fuller

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Nicolae Vacaroiu met with his Russian
counterpart Viktor Chernomyrdin on 24 October to discuss bilateral
economic ties and cooperation in the fight against organized crime,
ITAR-TASS reported. The two approved an agreement between Gazprom and
the Romanian gas company Romgaz, under which Russia will deliver 8
billion cubic meters of natural gas to Romania and export another 24.8
billion cubic meters to third countries via Romania in 1997. Those
numbers will increase to 14 billion cubic meters and 50.7 billion cubic
meters by 2010. -- Scott Parrish

RUTSKOI OFFERS OLIVE BRANCH TO YELTSIN. Aleksandr Rutskoi, who won the
gubernatorial election of Kursk Oblast by a landslide on 20 October,
said in a TV interview on 24 October that he is willing to find a
compromise with Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin, ITAR-TASS reported. The new
governor, whose election victory also provided him a seat in the
Federation Council, noted that he is going to work without conflict with
Russian leaders and said he wants to meet with Yeltsin. On the same day,
Yeltsin sent Rutskoi, his long-time foe, a telegram congratulating him
on his victory. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

fired Anatolii Saltykov, the mayor of the republic's capital Izhevsk,
who was elected to his office in 1994, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25
October. The move follows the State Council's April decision to
eliminate all elective local government posts and subordinate all local
leaders directly to the republic's legislature. In April, the
legislature abolished the post of mayor and appointed Saltykov as the
city's chief administrator. Udmurtiya does not have a presidency. The
Russian Constitutional Court is currently examining the validity of the
State Council's April decision and Saltykov has been one of its most
vocal critics (see OMRI Russian Regional Report, 16 October 1996). State
Council Speaker Aleksandr Volkov charged that Saltykov was removed for
irregularities in the use of the city's money. In a similar case, a
Moscow court ruled that a Yeltsin decree removing Vladivostok Mayor
Viktor Cherepkov was unconstitutional. -- Robert Orttung

president of the National Sports Fund who was sacked in May, was
appointed vice president of the fund for a four-month trial period,
Russian media reported on 24 October. By January, Fedorov has promised
to locate $100-$120 million that has gone missing from the fund's
coffers. Fedorov was nearly assassinated in June and recently filed
charges against former presidential bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov, whom
he accused of trying to extort $40 million from him (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 7, 10 and 15 October1996). In the personnel reshuffle, former
Olympic diving champion Vladimir Vasin was elected president of the
sports fund. Citing Vitalii Smirnov, the head of Russia's Olympic
Committee, ORT and NTV reported that Korzhakov is being considered to
head one of Russia's sports federations. -- Laura Belin

PRESSURE ON JOURNALISTS INCREASING. Russian regional authorities have
increased their pressure on journalists, according to Oleg Panfilov, who
monitors media freedom for the Glasnost Defense Foundation. He told OMRI
on 24 October that the current regional elections had intensified the
struggle for power and increased constraints on the media. However, he
said the situation for journalists had improved in Chechnya since a
ceasefire agreement was reached there. According to the foundation's
latest report on the CIS, two Russian journalists and one Armenian were
detained during the month of September; another 12 journalists were
beaten up, including five from Russia. Kim Yen Chan, a print journalist
from Sakhalin Oblast, was killed in Moscow on 19 September, but Panfilov
believes that murder was not related to Chan's journalistic work.
Infringements on journalists' rights have increased during the last
month in Belarus and Armenia, while remaining rather steady in other CIS
countries, Panfilov said. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

Moscow court sentenced Aleksandr Seregin to two years in jail for draft
dodging on 24 October after refusing to recognize his constitutional
right to alternative service, Ekspress-Khronika reported. The court,
however, suspended the sentence for three years. The judge said that
there is currently no law defining how conscientious objectors can use
their right to participate in alternative service. Seregin is a member
of the Anti-military Radical Association. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski.

ALCOHOL PRIME IN DEATHS. The director of the Anti-Alcoholism Center in
Moscow, Aleksandr Nemtsov, told ITAR-TASS on 25 October that alcohol is
the "main culprit" in the decline of male life expectancy from 65 years
in 1990 to 57 in 1996. Nemtsov said that 400,000 Russians died in 1994
from over-consumption and drinking adulterated alcohol products. Alcohol
abuse is involved in 80% of murders and 50% of suicides and road
accidents. -- Peter Rutland

IMF TO DELAY LOAN PAYMENT. An IMF delegation visiting Moscow this week
was unable to report that Russia is in compliance with the terms of the
$10.1 billion extended fund facility agreed to in April, ITAR-TASS and
AFP reported on 24 October. The IMF will reconsider release of the $340
million payment in three weeks. The July tranche was similarly delayed.
The Russian Central Bank said that the IMF was concerned over alcohol
import quotas, foreigners' access to the GKO market, and delays in the
introduction of new tax measures. Tax receipts in the first nine months
of the year were only 65% of the planned level. Worse still, in
September tax revenue was 24% down on August, ITAR-TASS reported on 14
October. -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT HAS NEW DRAFT BUDGET. On 24 October the government presented
a revised draft of the 1997 budget which was returned by the State Duma
on 16 October, Reuters reported. The new draft shaves 800 billion rubles
($150 million) off total spending and revenue -- a change of 0.25% --
but includes a new 6.5 trillion rubles ($1.2 billion) item to finance
cuts in the army. The new draft will be resubmitted to the Duma next
week. -- Peter Rutland

TATARSTAN FACES FINANCIAL SQUEEZE. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev
criticized the federal government's efforts to increase tax collection,
saying it was like "trying to get more milk from chronically
undernourished cows," Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 October. He
opposed the plan to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against the local
truck manufacturer KamAZ, and said the federal budget owes Tatarstan
some 300 billion rubles ($60 million). At the same time, under a 1994
agreement between Russia and Tatarstan, the Central Bank has agreed to
give the republic a 100 billion ruble, one-month loan to ease its acute
financial problems. Tatarstan's wage arrears alone top 1.7 trillion
rubles. -- Natalia Gurushina


statement issued on 24 October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
called on the population of the breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia
not to participate in the parliamentary elections which its leadership
has scheduled for 23 November, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. Georgia's
parliament declared the planned elections illegal on 2 October; on 22
October the UN Security Council called for their postponement pending a
formal agreement on the status of Abkhazia vis-a-vis the government in
Tbilisi that would expedite the repatriation of some 200,000 ethnic
Georgians who fled the fighting in Abkhazia in 1993. -- Liz Fuller

presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan has formally filed an appeal with
the Armenian Constitutional Court, asking that it annul the 22 September
election results, Noyan Tapan reported on 24 October. Manukyan's
campaign officials submitted a document of more than 500 pages
containing "the evidence of election rigging." According to Armenian
laws, the court must issue its verdict within one month of the appeal
being lodged. Ashot Manucharyan, another opposition candidate and leader
of the Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union, will also appeal to the
court on 25 October. Meanwhile, several Armenian political parties,
including the pro-government Shamiram party, have called for a boycott
of the local elections scheduled for November. -- Emil Danielyan

Minister and chairman of the custom's union committee Nigmatzhan
Isingarin was interviewed in the 24 October edition of Nezavisimaya
Gazeta. He said that agreements between CIS states are often
ineffective, and bilateral deals more useful. He said that in some
respects integration is proceeding slower with CIS members than with
other countries. Kazakstan has signed 20 agreements preventing double
taxation with non-CIS countries and only one with another CIS country.
Agreements on investment protection were signed with 12 foreign
countries but not a single CIS country. With regard to VAT, Isingarin
noted that Ukraine did not sign the relevant agreement and does not levy
VAT on its exports, which complicates trade relations. He argued that
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan support the CIS politically, but not
economically. -- Bruce Pannier
[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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