Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality. - Goethe
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 216, Part I, 7 November 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

YELTSIN HEALTH UPDATE. Doctors say President Boris Yeltsin has already
started walking after his 5 November heart surgery, Reuters reported on
7 November. The same day ITAR-TASS, citing the presidential press
service, reported that Yeltsin "is active, is able to sit, gets up and
walks about the ward, and ate breakfast on his own." Yelsin also met
with Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais for 15 minutes. Although Yeltsin
wants to be transferred to the main Kremlin hospital where he has been
treated in the past, his doctors advised him to stay at least another 24
hours under intensive care in the Moscow Cardiological Center where the
operation was performed. According to AFP on 6 November, American
cardiologist Michael DeBakey said Yeltsin should recover in six to eight
weeks. Meanwhile, Yeltsin issued a decree on 7 November, the anniversary
of the October Revolution, changing that holiday's name to the Day of
Accord and Reconciliation. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

REACTION TO CLINTON VICTORY. Yeltsin congratulated his American
counterpart Bill Clinton on his re-election, ITAR-TASS reported on 6
November. In his message, Yeltsin described "constructive and equal
partnership" between the U.S. and Russia as "an indispensable condition
for global security." Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov likewise hailed
Clinton's victory, terming him a "predictable" negotiating partner.
Reuters cited a senior Foreign Ministry official as saying that Yeltsin
and Clinton's warm personal ties would bolster bilateral relations. Duma
First Deputy Vice Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin (Our Home is Russia),
however, said Clinton's re-election would lead American "imperial
ambitions" to "reach a new level," and he suggested Washington is
deliberately exacerbating Russian-Ukrainian differences in order to use
Ukraine as a "buffer zone" between Russia and NATO. -- Scott Parrish

ZYUGANOV DISCUSSES YELTSIN'S HEALTH, CLINTON'S VICTORY . . . Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov wished Yeltsin well but said the
president should wait until his recovery is complete before taking back
his powers. "He must get well first, and only then try to run the
country. It's impossible to run a country from an intensive care unit,
from a hospital, especially when the country itself is very seriously
ill," Russian TV (RTR) reported Zyuganov as saying on 6 November.
Zyuganov has previously called for Yeltsin to step down permanently
because of his health problems. On the same day, Zyuganov congratulated
Bill Clinton on his election victory, adding, "We respect the traditions
and customs of elections for U.S. citizens, but we want America to
respect our choice and our traditions, and interfere less in our
internal affairs," Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin

. . . CALLS FOR "GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL INTERESTS." Addressing more than
2,000 supporters who gathered to commemorate the 1917 revolution,
Zyuganov criticized the current authorities and called for organized
protests that could lead to the creation of a "government of national
interests," Russian media reported on 6 November. Referring to the
recent suicide of nuclear physicist Vladimir Nechai (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 31 October 1996), Zyuganov said, "We have become witnesses of a
time when junior researchers, thieves, and drunkards are running the
country, and at the same time talented academicians are shooting
themselves," ORT reported. Zyuganov noted that his party favors an
evolutionary rather than revolutionary path of development. -- Laura
Belin

COMMUNISTS COMMEMORATE OCTOBER REVOLUTION. About 20,000 people marched
on 7 November from the Lenin statue on Moscow's Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad
to the Karl Marx statue on Teatralnaya Ploshchad to mark the 79th
anniversary of the October Revolution, AFP reported. Several radical
communist groups, including Anatolii Kryuchkov's Russian Party of
Communists, Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union, and the Russian
Communist Party--Communist Party of the Soviet Union, had sought to
march on Red Square. However, the Supreme Court rejected their appeal
against the Moscow city government's decision not to allow
demonstrations on Red Square, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. -- Laura
Belin

KULIKOV SEES MORE CONSPIRACIES. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov
defended his record at a press conference on 6 November, rejecting
charges that he has become too involved in politics, NTV reported. He
said preserving the constitutional order was his "direct
responsibility." Commenting on the 3 November killing of U.S.
businessman Paul Tatum, Kulikov noted that this occurred on the eve of
the U.S. presidential election and Yeltsin's heart surgery, and
suggested that it could have been part of a conspiracy to embarrass the
police and destabilize the political system. Kulikov said that so far
this year there have been 560 murders or attempted murders that appeared
to be contract killings. (In Russia, professional assassins typically
leave their weapon at the scene.) Only 10% of these had been solved.
Overall, the total number of crimes in the first 10 months of the year
fell by 4%, although Kulikov said that economic crime continues to rise.
-- Peter Rutland

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHECHNYA. Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin on 6 November met with his deputies, Boris Berezovskii and Leonid
Mayorov, and the newly appointed permanent representative of the Russian
federal government in Chechnya, Georgii Kurin, to discuss the Chechen
situation in the light of talks held with the Chechen leadership over
the past two weeks, Russian media reported. Also on 6 November, a
spokesman for the Russian military commandant in Grozny denied charges
that Russian troops based at Grozny's Severnii airport had subjected the
Argunskii farm to artillery fire during the night of 5-6 November. The
spokesman admitted that flares were fired and would investigate the
incident further. Interim Chechen Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov
convened a meeting of field commanders in Argun on 6 November to discuss
financing and discipline within the ranks of the Chechen armed forces,
according to Radio Rossii. -- Liz Fuller

PRIMAKOV AT BARENTS-EUROARCTIC SUMMIT. The Council of the Barents and
Euroarctic Region held its fourth session in Petrozavodsk on 5-6
November, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
chaired the session, which was attended by foreign ministers and top
diplomats from council members Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and
Denmark, plus observers from several other countries. Besides regional
environmental and economic cooperation, the session discussed European
security, with Primakov reiterating Moscow's opposition to NATO
expansion. He argued that the OSCE should anchor a new European security
system, and criticized those who view either NATO or a Russian-NATO
charter as playing that role. In subsequent comments, Primakov cautioned
that despite recent progress in border talks with Estonia, a final
agreement would be contingent on the treatment of the Russian minority
there, which Russia believes suffers discrimination. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN, INDIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS MEET. Anatolii Kulikov met with his
Indian counterpart Indraijit Gupta in Moscow on 6 November, ITAR-TASS
reported. Kulikov described drug trafficking as the main problem that
bilateral law-enforcement cooperation should address, attributing it to
the "friendly" attitude of Indian authorities toward Russian visitors.
He said the two countries would sign an extradition treaty in early
1997. While Kulikov hailed the "unlimited" possibilities of bilateral
cooperation in law enforcement, Gupta pointed out that financial
problems in both countries had hampered the effective implementation of
four previous joint law-enforcement agreements. Gupta also met First
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov to discuss economic and military
ties. They predicted that Russo-Indian trade would increase this year by
30% over the $1.9 billion level reached in 1995. -- Scott Parrish

KHANTY-MANSI DECIDES TO PARTICIPATE IN TYUMEN ELECTIONS. The Khanty-
Mansi Autonomous Okrug State Duma voted on 6 November to participate in
the Tyumen Oblast gubernatorial elections set for 22 December, ITAR-TASS
reported. Khanty-Mansi and the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug,
simultaneously subordinate to Tyumen and one of the 89 members of
Russian Federation, control 53% of Russian oil and 90% of natural gas
reserves. The legislature of Yamal-Nenets has already decided not to
participate in the Tyumen elections (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 October
1996). The newly elected legislature of Khanty-Mansi on 27 October, on
the other hand, chose to be a part of Tyumen. Khanty-Mansi's decision,
however, does not resolve difficulties over the Tyumen gubernatorial
elections, in which Yamal also should take part, according to the
Russian constitution. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

OFFICIALS TO BE TRIED FOR FABRICATING CASE AGAINST VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR.
The Procurator-General's Office began criminal proceedings against four
members of the Primorskii Krai Internal Affairs Department for allegedly
fabricating a corruption case against Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov
in 1994. A spokesman for the procurators said the charged officials had
abused their power by fabricating evidence and inducing false testimony
from witnesses, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The charges against
Cherepkov were eventually dropped, and two of those who will face trial
were first arrested last year for framing him (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19
May and 25 July 1995). Cherepkov has since been reinstated as mayor, but
his relations with allies of Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko remain strained (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 and 3 October
1996). -- Laura Belin

SMALL VICTORY FOR ENVIRONMENTALISTS. A local court has fined the Saratov
oil company 260 million rubles ($50,000) for damage to three hectares of
arable land caused by leaks from an oil well in Bagaevskii one year ago,
ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The suit was brought by the regional
nature conservation committee, which is also pursuing a 1.5 billion
ruble claim arising from a pipeline leak near Lysye Gory. The same day,
Russian customs officials in Smolensk turned back five train cars laden
with 150 tons of cyanide waste, Radio Rossii reported. They were headed
from Poland for disposal in Krasnoyarsk, but did not have the required
documentation. -- Peter Rutland

TAX COLLECTION IN OCTOBER. Federal tax revenue in October reached 14.6
trillion rubles ($2.7 billion), ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November, citing
the State Tax Agency. This is a 52% increase over September, when 9.6
trillion rubles were collected. However, 21% of tax "receipts" (3.1
trillion rubles) were in the form of treasury tax waivers and other
surrogates. Non-cash sources accounted for 18% of tax receipts, or 1.7
trillion rubles, in September. Ten of Russia's 89 regions provide 60% of
all federal taxes. They are Moscow; Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug;
Tatarstan; St. Petersburg; Samara, Moscow, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, and
Sverdlovsk Oblasts; and Krasnodar Krai. -- Natalia Gurushina

MARKET REACTION TO YELTSIN'S OPERATION. International financial markets
reacted positively on the news about Yeltsin's successful heart surgery,
Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The prices of both Finance
Ministry Foreign Currency Bonds and old Soviet commercial debt
(Vneshekonombank debt) went up, with the latter surging over the last 48
hours by 6% to 80 cents on the dollar. In Russia, the price of state
short-term securities also went up, pushing yields down by as much as 4%
(compared to last week's auctions). Yeltsin's successful recovery should
also improve the prospects for the forthcoming issue of Russia's
eurobonds slated for mid-November. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER TO CONTINUE ECONOMIC REFORMS. Armen
Sarkisyan said he will continue the economic reforms of his predecessor,
Hrant Bagratyan, with a "new impetus" and uphold the country's
independence, international media reported on 6 November. According to
Sarkisyan, Armenia should enter the 21st century with a competitive and
modern economy so that certain unspecified "regional economic and
political forces cannot swallow our state." Bagratyan's replacement is
seen as an attempt by President Levon Ter-Petrossyan to soothe Armenia's
tense internal political situation. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Vano
Siradeghyan told RFE/RL on 6 November that he and Foreign Minister Vahan
Papazyan are ready to step down. Siradeghyan said he is ready to take
over as mayor of Yerevan and suggested that Alexander Arzumanyan,
Armenia's permanent representative to the UN, could succeed Papazyan. --
Emil Danielyan

NEW GEORGIAN OPPOSITION COMMITTEE CALLS FOR RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL.
Representatives of 18 Georgian opposition parties have formed a
committee to lobby for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from
Georgia, Segodnya reported on 5 November. The committee is an offshoot
of the National Liberation Movement of Georgia founded several months
ago by 14 political parties not represented in the present parliament
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 August 1996). -- Liz Fuller

LEGITIMACY OF KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT SPEAKER QUESTIONED. The Constitutional
Court has begun reviewing the selection of Mukar Cholponbayev as speaker
of the Kyrgyz parliament, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November.
Cholponbayev has been in trouble over the transfer of more than three
million som ($200,000) from the parliamentary budget to a firm partly
owned by his wife. He nonetheless received a vote of confidence from the
Legislative Assembly on 24 September. When Cholponbayev was chosen
speaker in March 1995, only 29 deputies were present and 17 voted for
him. But, the number of deputies in the Legislative Assembly is 35,
making 17 votes less than a majority. -- Bruce Pannier

PRINCE CHARLES BEGINS CENTRAL ASIAN TRIP. The heir to the British
throne, Prince Charles, arrived in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on 6
November, kicking off a six-day tour of four Central Asian states,
RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported. The first member of the British royal
family to visit the region, Charles will travel to Kazakstan on 7
November, to Kyrgyzstan on 9 November, and wind up the trip in
Uzbekistan. -- 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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