It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 217, Part I, 8 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. President Boris Yeltsin was transferred from the
Moscow Cardiological Center, where he underwent surgery, to the
Kremlin's Central Clinical Hospital near Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 8
November, quoting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Renat Akchurin,
the surgeon who performed the operation, said Yeltsin is ahead of
schedule in his recuperation and will be able to resume a large part of
his duties in 10 to 12 days, AFP reported the same day. Chernomyrdin
announced that Akchurin will be declared "presidential surgeon," AFP
reported on 7 November. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

YELTSIN CALLS FOR RECONCILIATION. After he signed a decree declaring 7
November a Day of Accord and Reconciliation, Yeltsin issued a statement
calling for unity, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 November. "We are one nation.
We have one fate, a common future. And we are all from the same past,"
the statement said. Under the decree, a new state commission will
oversee a competition to design monuments commemorating the victims of
the 1917 revolution, the civil war, and political repressions.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told Radio Rossii that in
calling for Russians not to be divided into reds and whites, Yeltsin was
continuing the message of unity he expressed during his presidential
campaign. In fact, Yeltsin's re-election campaign was almost entirely
built on anti-communist rhetoric that suggested that a Gennadii Zyuganov
presidency would return Russia to mass repression, famine, and civil
war. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN ISSUES ANOTHER DECREE ON ENFORCING HIS DECREES. Yeltsin signed a
decree on 6 November ordering stricter enforcement of presidential
decrees "to promote a sense of responsibility" among officials, ITAR-
TASS reported the next day. Under the decree, all federal and regional
executive organs must take concrete measures within one month toward the
strict and timely implementation of decrees. Heads of agencies will be
required to submit reports to the presidential administration's Main
Control Department, and progress toward implementing presidential
instructions will be discussed at government meetings. Like a similar
decree in June, which specified penalties for bureaucrats who failed to
carry out presidential decrees (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 June 1996), the
current measure is likely to have little effect. Yeltsin met with
presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais for about 15 minutes on 7
November, according to Yastrzhembskii. -- Laura Belin and Ritsuko Sasaki

COMMUNISTS CALL FOR ANTI-GOVERNMENT COALITION. Supporters of the
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), Russian Communist
Workers Party (RKRP), and Workers' Russia held a demonstration to mark
the 79th anniversary of the October Revolution in Moscow on 7 November.
Although in the past the KPRF and RKRP have been at odds over both goals
and strategy, speakers at the rally called for all communists and other
opposition movements to form one strong anti-government coalition. The
most popular slogan, besides the traditional "All power to the Soviets!"
was "Chubais in jail!" Speakers, including KPRF leader Gennadii
Zyuganov, called for peaceful actions against the ruling regime, but
Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov advocated an "assault on Moscow"
to overthrow the "anti-popular regime." According to Interior Ministry
estimates, about 25,000 people attended the Moscow rally; similar
rallies in other Russian cities drew thousands more. -- Anna Paretskaya
in Moscow

CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS AIR DISPATCHERS . . . While communists rallied in
downtown Moscow, Chernomyrdin on 7 November visited the air-traffic
controllers at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, Radio Mayak reported. In
recent years Russia's airport workers have repeatedly threatened strike
action: in fact, on 7 November the Tyumen air dispatchers went on
strike, Radio Rossii reported. Chernomyrdin noted that the dispatchers
have 60 paid days' vacation per year, and their wages were doubled in
October to 5 million rubles ($915) a month--way above the average
national wage of 848,000 rubles in September, as reported by Ekho Moskvy
on 5 November. The report was transparently designed to make other
workers jealous of the dispatchers' favorable position. -- Peter Rutland

. . . OFFERS VIEWS ON HISTORY. During his Domodedovo visit Chernomyrdin
also commented on Yeltsin's decree declaring 7 November a Day of Accord
and Reconciliation, which he said was " a great step forward for our
society," Radio Mayak reported. Chernomyrdin observed "this is our
history. We had the October revolution, 1905, the February revolution.
History must be valued and loved, it must be approached calmly,
respectfully... the recent events of 1993, it is all our life, our
history. The people who made this history must be remembered." He
continued: "Russians today have been scattered throughout the world [for
example] in the Baltics, Caucasus, Kazakstan. We must love all Russians,
they are all our people." -- Peter Rutland

CRACKDOWN ON CRIME IN CHECHNYA. The Chechen Interior Ministry launched a
new crackdown on crime on 7 November, the primary objective of which is
to neutralize armed groups in Grozny and evict people from abandoned
apartments they have taken over, Radio Rossii reported. Chechen Interior
Minister Kazbek Makashev told a meeting of the Chechen general staff on
7 November that the Chechen law enforcement organs are capable of
establishing order in Grozny and throughout Chechnya, according to
Russian Television (RTR). Also on 7 November, Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze's spokesman, Vakhtang Abashidze, said in response to acting
Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's proposal for a "strategic
alliance" between Georgia and Chechnya that the two countries should
structure relations exclusively within the framework of the
constitutions of the Republic of Georgia and the Russian Federation,
ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

PLANS TO REORGANIZE DEFENSE, POWER MINISTRIES? Military reform plans
under consideration by the Defense Ministry will reduce the number of
authorized positions for generals from 1,700 to 500, and cut some 50,000
lower-ranking officer positions as well, the Munich daily Sueddeutsche
Zeitung reported on 7 November. As many officer posts are vacant,
however, far fewer officers would actually be discharged. The plans also
call for a 50% reduction in the some 60 divisions of the Ground Forces,
which are currently severely undermanned. Under the plan, at least two
fully manned divisions would be based in each of Russia's eight military
districts. Meanwhile, Interfax-AiF reported on 4 November that the
government is considering combining the FSB, the Federal Agency for
Government Communications and Information, and some other agencies into
a new Ministry of State Security to be headed by former FSB head Sergei
Stepashin. -- Scott Parrish

IAEA, RUSSIA, U.S. TO MONITOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS DISMANTLING. The head of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Blix, announced in
New York on 7 November that his agency will begin talks soon with
Russian and American negotiators on establishing a monitoring system to
ensure that fissile materials removed from dismantled nuclear weapons
are not recycled into new warheads, AFP reported. He described the talks
as the first steps toward verifying nuclear disarmament. Currently,
enriched uranium and plutonium removed from dismantled Russian and
American nuclear warheads is not under international control. Meanwhile,
Nikolai Khlebnikov, a Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry official visiting
an American nuclear storage facility in Rocky Flats, Colorado, said
Russia needs more U.S. assistance to complete a similar facility at the
Mayak plant in Chelyabinsk Oblast. Khlebnikov revealed Russia has
already removed 500 metric tons of enriched uranium from dismantled
warheads. -- Scott Parrish

PRESIDENTIAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION CRITICIZED. The first meeting of
the reconstituted presidential Commission on Human Rights, chaired by
Vladimir Kartashkin, which took place on 4 November, was sharply
criticized in Obshchaya gazeta of 6-13 November. The paper contended
that the committee's members are more concerned with carrying out
government orders than with safeguarding the rights of ordinary
citizens. The meeting focused on five general points, including the
creation of a special reaction force to defend the lives of Russian
citizens, and a mechanism for submitting complaints to the European
Court of Human Rights. The commission all but collapsed at the beginning
of this year following the resignation of Chairman Sergei Kovalev and a
number of other members. -- Penny Morvant in Moscow

GAIDAR ON YELTSIN. Excerpts from a new book of memoirs by Yegor Gaidar,
entitled Days of Victories and Defeats, were published in Itogi on 5
November. Gaidar describes the formation of the "reform cabinet" in the
fall of 1991 and offers insights into Yeltsin's character as a leader.
He says that Yeltsin tends to be too emotional, prone to slump into
depression, and excessively influenced by personal friendship. Sometimes
this came at the expense of national interests, Gaidar suggests--as in
some of the early dealings with the heads of CIS states. -- Peter
Rutland

NEW HIV DATA. AIDS center representative Irina Savchenko said that 800
new cases of HIV infection have been registered so far in 1996, four
times more than for the whole of 1995, AFP reported on 8 November. Drug
addicts account for 70% of this year's new cases. Since the first case
was registered in 1987, officials estimate that a total of 1,925 people
in Russia have contracted HIV; 163 have died. The publisher of the gay
newspaper 1/10, Dmitrii Lychev, told OMRI that he estimates at least
20,000 Russians have contracted HIV, a significant portion being drug
addicts. According to data from the Health Ministry, only 50,000 of an
estimated 2 million drug addicts in Russia are being treated,
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 25 October. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

SOCIAL SUPPORT FOR KARELIYAN POOR. The city of Petropavlovsk in
Kareliya, bordering Finland, has introduced special measures to assist
the indigent, Radio Rossii reported on 7 November. An 80-bed shelter for
the homeless has been opened, and pensioners with an income of less than
half the subsistence minimum are entitled to free meals and packages of
goods worth 30,000 rubles ($5) in certain cafes and shops. The national
subsistence minimum in September 1996 was 363,000 rubles ($66), ITAR-
TASS reported on 15 October. -- Peter Rutland

SPACE PROBLEMS. Sending a Russian-German space mission to replace the
Russian-American crew aboard the international space station Mir has
been postponed by two months, until February, due to financial problems,
Reuters and AFP reported on 7 November. As a result of poor financing
(which has been cut tenfold since the 1980s), the company manufacturing
boosters was unable to assemble the rocket in time. This is yet another
in a series of postponements of space flights this year, most of which
were caused by cash shortages. Meanwhile, the Mir station crew is facing
a problem with waste disposal, following the breakdown of the recycling
pump. Most of the reserve containers are full, and the launch of the
supply ship has been postponed until 20 November. -- Natalia Gurushina

LUKOIL SIGNS COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH NIZHNII NOVGOROD. The
administration of the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast has signed a cooperation
agreement with Russia's largest oil company LUKoil, ITAR-TASS reported
on 7 November. LUKoil will supply the region with oil products, while
the local government will provide the company with plots of land for the
construction of storage facilities and gasoline stations. It will also
participate in supplying food to LUKoil subsidiaries in other regions.
LUKoil will also participate in the renovation of the Norsi oil
refinery, located in the oblast. The deal is part of LUKoil's strategy
to strengthen its position in the regions; earlier it signed similar
agreements with Tatarstan, Marii-El, and the Kaliningrad, Leningrad,
Astrakhan, and Perm oblasts. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MORE ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT RESIGNATIONS. Interior Minister Vano
Siradeghyan and Foreign Minister Vahan Papazyan have resigned, Armenian
and Russian media reported on 7 November. The two men are prominent
members of the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) and are
among the closest figures to President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. Siradeghyan
said he will "soon" be appointed the mayor of Yerevan. Defense Minister
Vazgen Sarkisyan, another HHSh leader, said he will retain his post,
RFE/RL reported on 7 November. According to ITAR-TASS, several
ambassadors to foreign countries are among the candidates to become
ministers in the government of newly appointed Prime Minister Armen
Sarkisyan. -- Emil Danielyan

TAJIK GOVERNMENT FORCES LAUNCH OFFENSIVE. Government forces in the
Tavil-Dara area have begun a counterattack to dislodge the opposition
from positions they captured earlier this month, Reuters and ITAR-TASS
reported on 7 November. The current objective of the government forces
is the village of Sagirdasht located about 200 km from the Tajik capital
Dushanbe. The village overlooks the main highway from Dushanbe to Khorog
and has landing areas for helicopters, which prior to its capture,
government forces had used to ferry troops and supplies to combat areas
in the mountainous east. There have been no reports yet on casualties
from either side. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKSTANI TV STATION WRECKED BY VANDALS. Aray TV, an independent TV
station in Taldy Kurgan, was vandalized by two masked men on 6 November,
ITAR-TASS reported. The two gained entry to the station, tied up the
operator and proceeded to smash equipment, including a transmitter, tape
recorders and other machinery. Nothing was stolen but the station is
unable to broadcast. The attack came immediately after the station had
aired a program on rising crime in Kazakstan. -- Bruce Pannier
[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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