If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 211, Part I, 31 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

MORE DENUNCIATIONS OF BEREZOVSKII APPOINTMENT. Politicians across the
spectrum denounced the decision to make Boris Berezovskii, head of the
LogoVAZ empire and the dominant figure at Russian Public TV (ORT), a
deputy secretary of the Security Council, Russian media reported on 30
October. Critics blamed the appointment on Presidential Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii described the
appointment as "outrageous incompetence," while Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov called it "ridiculous and insulting." Even Duma Deputy
Roman Popkovich of the pro-government Our Home Is Russia faction told
NTV that he was "astonished" by the criteria used in choosing Security
Council staff, since Berezovskii was not a "professional" in such
matters. According to the 31 October Komsomolskaya pravda, the
appointment reflects the growing power of the "Chubais clan." Meanwhile,
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said he saw nothing "extraordinary"
about Berezovskii's appointment. -- Laura Belin

REACTION TO SELEZNEV'S BOYCOTT THREAT. Officials loyal to the president
held the line against Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev's demand that
Chubais resign and his threat to boycott all meetings of the
Consultative Council while Chubais stands in for Yeltsin. Yeltsin's
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii and Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin advised Seleznev not to interfere in presidential appointments;
Yastrzhembskii added that Chubais would remain on the so-called
"permanent four" regardless of Yeltsin's health. Chernomyrdin dismissed
Seleznev's threat as a "game." He told ITAR-TASS that the first meeting
of the Consultative Council will go ahead whether Seleznev attends or
not, but said it will be postponed until next week to allow Seleznev and
Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev to attend a CIS parliamentary
assembly on 1 November. ORT, the network at which Berezovskii is a top
executive, suggested that Seleznev's threat would bring him "dubious
glory" as a provocateur or a "political terrorist." -- Laura Belin

BEREZOVSKII TO BE PUT IN CHARGE OF CHECHNYA. Berezovskii initially
indicated that he would cover economic matters on the Security Council,
and Chernomyrdin at first said Berezovskii would be in charge of
business questions. However, Chernomyrdin and Rybkin announced on 30
October that Berezovskii would be responsible for settling the Chechen
conflict, Russian media reported. Meanwhile, former Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed again accused Berezovskii of trying to
intimidate him after Lebed signed a peace agreement with Chechen
separatists in late August. Lebed told Radio Rossii that Berezovskii
accused him of ruining good "business" in Chechnya. Lebed first made
that charge immediately after being fired on 17 October. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN VETOES LAW ON REGIONAL LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS. President Boris
Yeltsin on 30 October vetoed a bill that would have ordered regional
legislatures that extended their terms to hold new elections within six
months , ITAR-TASS reported. Numerous legislatures were elected to two-
year terms in 1994 and then extended their stay in office for an
additional two years, following a September 1995 presidential decree
(see OMRI Regional Report, 23 October 1996). Yeltsin claimed that the
bill arrogated for the federal government the regional governments'
right to set the date of the elections and the length of the term to
which regional representatives would be elected. The Duma had approved
the bill only after overcoming a veto by the Federation Council, half of
whose membership is made up of the chairmen of regional legislatures,
many of whom do not want to face new elections. Yeltsin's action is
likely an attempt to buy off the upper house in order to use it as a
buffer against the more opposition-minded Duma. -- Robert Orttung

DICTATORSHIP IN UDMURTIYA. The State Council of the Urals republic of
Udmurtiya is imposing a dictatorship, according to a NTV report on 30
October. Anatolii Saltykov, the elected mayor of the capital Izhevsk,
remains in the hospital following his removal from office (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 25 October 1996). The report said he and his supporters
are under surveillance and their phones are tapped. State Council
Chairman Aleksandr Volkov is also canceling broadcasts or removing
journalists from their jobs after critical reports. Volkov claims that
the crackdowns are necessary to prevent unfair criticism of ailing local
industries, like Izhmash, which produces Kalashnikovs, and the oil
company Udmurtneft. -- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN'S CHECHEN TRIP IN JEOPARDY. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin may postpone a planned trip to Chechnya because of hard-
line statements reasserting Chechen independence by acting Chechen
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov at the
All-National Congress of the Chechen People on 27 October, ITAR-TASS
reported. Viktor Medveditskov, the Russian presidential envoy in
Chechnya, told ITAR-TASS on 30 October that he will lodge an official
complaint with the Chechen leadership following an attack by Chechen
militants on a Grozny airport in which three Russian soldiers were
wounded. -- Liz Fuller

ABM AGREEMENT COLLAPSES. Last-minute demands by Russia have triggered
the cancellation of a planned 31 October Geneva ceremony at which an
agreement on tactical ballistic-missile defenses was to be signed,
Western agencies reported on 30 October. The agreement, endorsed by
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and U.S. Secretary of State
Warren Christopher on 23 September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 September
1996), clarifies the terms of the 1972 ABM treaty. A second follow-up
agreement covering higher-speed interceptors was then to be negotiated.
However, last week Moscow reversed its earlier position, insisting that
the first agreement not enter into force until the second agreement was
concluded, a demand which Washington rejected, leading to the impasse.
-- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER TO TAKE A BIT LONGER. Revising an earlier
prediction, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said on 30 October that
a formal Russian-NATO charter would not be signed in 1996 but expressed
hope that it could be concluded by mid-1997 when a NATO summit is due to
name the first Eastern European candidates for membership, Western
agencies reported. Although President Yeltsin has argued that a Russian-
NATO charter should be signed before NATO enlarges, Solana insisted that
"there is no relationship" between the charter and NATO enlargement,
saying the two processes would not proceed in "sequence," but
"converge." -- Scott Parrish

SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER IN RUSSIA. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and his Swedish counterpart Goeran Persson signed a
protocol on crime fighting and a communications agreement at their 30
October Moscow meeting, Russian and Western agencies reported. The two
men also discussed a proposed gas pipeline linking Russia and Sweden via
Finland. ITAR-TASS reported that Chernomyrdin complained to Persson
about the treatment of the Russian minority in Estonia and Latvia.
Publicly, however, Chernomyrdin said he was "impressed" with Sweden's
policies toward the Baltics, while Persson declared that the Baltic
states were "honestly working" to resolve the Russian minority issue. --
Scott Parrish

DEBATE OVER FORMING MILITARY POLICE. Competing proposals for a military
police force were aired at a 30 October press conference by Lt.-Gen.
Vladimir Kulakov, head of the service troops department of the General
Staff, and Nikolai Karlov, a staffer from the Duma Defense Committee,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 31 October. While both men agreed that a
new military police force is needed to combat crime and corruption in
the armed forces, Kulakov said such a force should be subordinated to
the Defense Ministry, while Karlov, whose views are supported by the
other "power ministries" with uniformed troops, argued that an
independent organization should be created. -- Scott Parrish

TOP PHYSICIST COMMITS SUICIDE. Vladimir Nechai, the 60-year-old director
of the Federal Nuclear Center in Snezinsk, near Chelyabinsk, shot
himself, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 October. Colleagues said that Nechai,
who also headed the All-Russian Technical Physics Institute, was
depressed over budgets cuts and his inability to pay his staff their
salaries. -- Peter Rutland

FURTHER DECLINE IN RUSSIA'S POPULATION. Russia's population decreased by
350,000 people during the first nine months of 1996, reaching 147.6
million people, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 October, citing the State
Statistics Committee. This decline was offset by net in-migration of
around 150,000 during the first half of 1996, as reported by Radio
Rossii on 20 October. The death rate is 14.5 per 1,000 and the birthrate
9.1 per 1,000. The Statistics Committee did note, however, that the
mortality rate began decreasing in 1995. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

PENSION DEBTS MOUNT. Pensioners are owed 17 trillion rubles ($3 billion)
in unpaid pensions, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. That figure
includes 1.7 trillion rubles owed from August and 5.8 trillion from
September. Of Russia's 89 regions and republics, 22 are able to pay
pensions from their own receipts, and 67 rely on subsidies from the
federal fund. Pension Fund official Natalya Petrova told ITAR-TASS that
firms owe 48 trillion rubles in pension contributions, and the fund is
also owed money from the federal budget. She said the fund had been
forced to take loans from commercial banks, but has exhausted its
creditworthiness. -- Peter Rutland

STRIKE STATISTICS AFTER THREE QUARTERS. Some 3,767 enterprises and
organizations have participated in work stoppages in the first nine
months of 1996, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 October, citing the State
Statistics Committee. The strikes involved some 356,000 workers and
nearly two billion work hours were lost. The main motive of the strikes
was wage arrears. Educational institutions and coal mines had the
largest number of strikes. The greatest loss of working hours occurred
in the mining regions of Rostov and Kemerovo Oblasts and Krasnoyarsk and
Primore Krais. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

FEDERAL BANKRUPTCY COMMITTEE'S WORK IN 1996. The Federal Bankruptcy
Committee secured the repayment of 4.9 trillion rubles ($900 million) of
tax arrears to the consolidated budget from January through September,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 31 October, citing its head Petr Mostovoi.
Of that, some 2.6 trillion rubles were raised in August and September.
Mostovoi confirmed that the Tatarstan truck manufacturer KamAZ has been
taken off the bankruptcy list. Earlier this week, Tatarstan President
Mintimer Shaimiev held meetings with Viktor Chernomyrdin and
Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, and it was agreed that
KamAZ will pay the reduced sum of 51 billion rubles ($9 million) in back
taxes, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. -- Natalia Gurushina

MONEY SUPPLY STILL TIGHT. In the first nine months of 1996, money
emissions stood at 18.6 trillion rubles, down from 30.6 trillion rubles
over the same period in 1995, AFP reported on 29 October. From July to
September the Central Bank issued no new money, and withdrew some 6.5
trillion rubles from circulation. Many firms and regions now complain of
an acute shortage of cash. Members of the regional association "Siberian
Accord" called on the government to print more money in an appeal
reported by ITAR-TASS on 30 October. -- Natalia Gurushina

SIBNEFT OIL COMPANY SELLS SHARES. The Rifanoil company won an investment
auction for a 15% equity stake in Sibneft by offering to invest $35
million over the next three years, Segodnya reported on 29 October. In
December 1995 the government sold 51% of Sibneft to Stolichnyi Bank
Sberezhenii and Neftyanaya Finansovaya Kompaniya for a $100 million loan
under the controversial loans-for-shares scheme. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN POWER MINISTERS ACCUSED OF PLANNING COUP. Former Armenian
National Security Minister David Shahnazaryan accused the country's
"power" ministers of plotting a coup d'etat and demanded their
resignation, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 October citing Vremya.
Shahnazaryan, who used to be one of the closest figures to President
Levon Ter-Petrossyan, called for a dialogue between the authorities and
the opposition. According to him, fresh parliamentary elections are a
"political necessity." Meanwhile, acting presidential spokesman Levon
Zurabyan said Armenia's political situation is returning to normal and
praised the opposition for its efforts to "return to legal activity,"
Noyan Tapan reported on 30 October. -- Emil Danielyan

NEW POLITICAL OFFICE CREATED IN UZBEKISTAN. In an address to the
cabinet, Uzbek President Islam Karimov announced that Qobiljon Obidov
will be appointed to the newly-created position of first deputy prime
minister with special responsibility for agriculture and water
resources, Uzbek TV reported on 29 October. Given recent poor harvests
in the Syrdarya and Jizzak regions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October
1996), Karimov has called for greater oversight and a more defined
division of labor in the presidential apparatus. -- Roger Kangas

MESHETIAN TURKS OF KYRGYZSTAN TO HOLD CONGRESS. A congress of Meshetian
Turks will be held in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, on 2 November, RFE/RL
reported. The leader of the Turk Association of Kyrgyzstan, Maksut
Izzatov, claims there are presently 57,000 Meshetian Turks living in
Kyrgyzstan, the majority of whom would prefer to move to Turkey. Large
numbers of Meshetian Turks were forcibly relocated in Central Asia
during World War II from the Caucasus, and in 1989 some were forced to
flee Uzbekistan when rioting broke out in areas where they lived. --
Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

TURKMENISTAN ANNIVERSARY. The Chistopol watch factory in Tatarstan has
produced a rush order of 81,000 wrist watches for Turkmenistan, ITAR-
TASS reported on 31 October. The watches are designed to commemorate the
fifth anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. The watch face depicts
Turkmenistan's President, Saparmurad Niyazov. -- Peter Rutland

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

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