History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 219, Part I, 12 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

DUMA ATTACKS PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION . . . The Duma has asked the
Constitutional Court to examine President Boris Yeltsin's 2 October
decree setting up the presidential administration, Russian Public TV
(ORT) reported on 11 November. The deputies believe that Yeltsin gave
Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais responsibilities that
rightly belong to the president, legislature, and government. The
presidential press service argues that the constitution gives the
president the right to set up his administration at his own discretion.
-- Robert Orttung

. . . ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO AFGHAN WAR INVALIDS FUND. The day after
the blast at the Kotlyakovskoe cemetery in which 13 people were killed,
the Duma ordered the Procurator-General's Office to investigate the
activities of the Russian Fund for Invalids of the Afghan War (RFIVA),
Russian TV (RTR) reported on 11 November. The explosion occurred during
a memorial service for a former RFIVA head and is thought to be linked
to the fund's business operations. The deputies also instructed the
Duma's Veterans Support Committee to check the activities of all
organizations that enjoy similar economic privileges. The deputies
observed a minute of silence in honor of those killed on 10 November.
The investigation into the blast is being headed by First Deputy
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolesnikov. -- Penny Morvant in Moscow

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHECHEN PEACE BLUEPRINT. Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired a closed door session of the Security
Council on 11 November that addressed the finalized plans for a
settlement of the Chechen conflict, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin told NTV that the plan
incorporates proposals made by the Chechen side, and reaffirmed Russia's
commitment to abide by the peace agreements that have already been
signed. The Duma will debate the draft laws on establishing a special
economic zone in Chechnya and on granting an amnesty to participants in
the conflict by late November at the earliest, State Duma Committee
Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin told ORT on 10 November. -- Liz Fuller

CHANNEL 2 DIRECTOR TO LEAVE NETWORK. Anatolii Lysenko, who has served as
general director of RTR since the company was founded in 1990, is
leaving to head the Moscow city government's Committee on
Telecommunications and the Mass Media, ITAR-TASS reported on 12
November. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov announced new financial breaks for
the media last week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 November 1996). Lysenko
co-founded RTR with Oleg Poptsov, who served as the network's chairman
until President Yeltsin fired him in February (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16
and 19 February 1996). -- Laura Belin

SHUMEIKO, ILYUKHIN SETTLE LAWSUIT. Vladimir Shumeiko, leader of the pro-
Yeltsin Reforms-New Course movement, dropped his slander lawsuit against
Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin after Ilyukhin
apologized in public, RTR and ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. Last
year, Ilyukhin accused Shumeiko, then chairman of the Federation
Council, of involvement in the shady activities of the now defunct
Vlastelina company (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 September 1995). Ilyukhin
apologized for making the charge before the investigation into
Vlastelina's activities had been completed, and Shumeiko dropped his
demand for 20 million rubles ($3,700) in damages. The judge instructed
Kommersant-Daily, which was a co-defendant for having published
Ilyukhin's accusations last year, to publish the settlement statement
signed by both parties. -- Laura Belin

GENERAL: RUSSIA NEEDS ASSISTANCE TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Russia
wants to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile but needs foreign
assistance to build the necessary facilities, Col.-Gen. Stanislav
Petrov, head of the Radiological, Chemical, and Biological Defense
Troops, told ITAR-TASS on 11 November. Petrov said about $100 million in
foreign aid has been pledged, but only about 10% of that has been
disbursed. A federal program calls for Russia to begin destroying its
40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons in 1998 and complete the task by
2005. Petrov urged the speedy ratification of the 1993 Chemical Weapons
Convention, saying that if the agreement enters into force before Moscow
has ratified it, Russia may have difficulty getting financial
assistance. While the U.S. has not ratified the treaty either, Hungary
recently became the 65th country to do so, meaning it will enter into
force on 29 April 1997. -- Scott Parrish

DEFENSE COUNCIL DISCUSSES WAGE ARREARS, MILITARY DOCTRINE. The Defense
Council discussed the military budget and the development of a new
military doctrine at its 11 November meeting, Kommersant-Daily reported
the next day. First Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Panov said the
Defense Ministry's wage arrears for July have been paid, as have 74% of
the August arrears, but the need to pay other Defense Ministry debts,
including commercial bank loans, had postponed full repayment of the 4.9
trillion rubles ($890 million) the ministry owed servicemen as of 1
October. He pledged to clear those debts by 15 November, although
Kommersant-Daily noted that Defense Ministry officials estimate that
wage arrears total 6.4 trillion rubles. -- Scott Parrish

CHECHEN OIL INDUSTRY PROSPECTS. A major challenge facing the new
authorities in Chechnya will be restoring the local oil industry.
According to an AFP report on 10 November, annual oil production could
reach 2 million metric tons but would need $60 million worth of
investment. Production slumped from 3.6 million tons in 1991 to 300,000
tons in 1995, and in April 1996 the pro-Moscow Chechen head of state,
Doku Zavgaev, suspended the operations of the Southern Oil Company
because so much oil was being siphoned off into backyard refineries
(although the main transit pipeline kept operating). Acting President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev signed a decree on 12 October re-affirming that the
drilling and refining of oil is a state monopoly, but implementation
will be difficult given the vested interests of the illicit operators.
-- Peter Rutland

MORE CORRUPTION IN ST. PETERSBURG. Aleksei Levashov, a deputy of the St.
Petersburg City Assembly, has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping,
Rossiiskie vesti reported on 12 November. In July, a 15-year-old boy was
kidnapped from a summer camp, and was later found in an apartment rented
by Levashov. The police suspect the kidnapping was intended to dissuade
the boy's father from testifying against a Levashov associate in a
criminal trial. Earlier this month, several leading city officials were
detained on corruption charges (see OMRI Daily Digest , 6 November
1996). -- Peter Rutland

PROTESTS IN REGIONS. A group of coal miners and pensioners in Kemerovo
Oblast set up a 24-hour picket in central Prokopevsk on 11 November to
protest wage arrears and mine-closure plans, NTV reported. The protest
action is planned to continue for three days. Likewise, pensioners
occupied the government building of Yefremovsk Raion in the Tula Oblast
to protest arrears dating back three months, ITAR-TASS reported on 11
November. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

TWO POLICE OFFICERS SHOT IN TYUMEN. In a bizarre incident, two officers
in the Tyumen anti-drug unit, Capt. Sergei Melnikov and Lt.-Col. Sergei
Nadein, were found shot to death in their office, ITAR-TASS reported on
12 November. One theory is that Melnikov's gun accidentally discharged,
killing his colleague, after which Melnikov shot himself. However, the
procurator reported that both men's guns had been fired, suggesting
there may have been an argument. The region's police chief, Col.-Gen.
Sergei Radivil, described the incident as evidence of the psychological
trauma known as the "Chechen syndrome," since both men recently returned
from service in Chechnya. -- Peter Rutland

INTERNET IN RUSSIA. About 50,000 people use the World Wide Web regularly
in Russia, according to a report by the Russian firm Rusinfoil, ITAR-
TASS reported on 10 November. Russians are the most frequent visitors to
Russian sites, making up 28% of the users, while Americans are in second
place, at 25%. Sixty percent of the information available is in Russian
and the rest in English. -- Robert Orttung

GOVERNMENT CUTS VAT IN TEXTILE INDUSTRY. In order to support Russia's
ailing light industry, the government intends to cut the VAT rate for
textile and clothing companies from the current 20% to 5%, ITAR-TASS
reported on 11 November. The production of some textile goods dropped
tenfold compared to 1991 and textile imports meet over 50% of the
domestic demand. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov suggested that
VAT for the light industry should be lifted altogether in 1997. --
Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CASPIAN SEA AGREEMENT SIGNED. Representatives from four of the five
coastal states of the Caspian Sea signed an agreement in Ashgabat on 12
November on the status of the sea, ITAR-TASS and Izvestiya reported. The
agreement, granting each state an exclusive economic zone 45 miles (75
km) off-shore, was recognized by all parties except Azerbaijan. Every
country came into the meeting with their own proposal for the zone: Iran
favored a 10-mile zone; Russia, 20 miles, Turkmenistan, 60 miles;
Kazakstan, 80 miles; and Azerbaijan wanted the entire sea divided into
sectors. The signatories regard the resources beyond the 45-mile zone as
subject to "joint ownership." Azerbaijan's oil riches lie beyond the 45-
mile zone and that country's representative did not sign the agreement.
Representatives of the other states promised to review "pinpoint
jurisdiction" in Azerbaijan's case. Izvestiya noted that all of the
countries had already begun developing areas in the Caspian without any
clear ruling on its status. -- Bruce Pannier

PRISONER DIES IN JAIL. Valerii Fisyun, who was sentenced to six years'
imprisonment last month for his participation in the abortive march on
Abkhazia launched by former Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani in
January 1995, has died in a Tbilisi jail after repeatedly requesting,
but being refused, medical attention, RFE/RL reported on 11 November. --
Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJAN'S OIL OUTPUT FALLS. Azerbaijan's oil output has declined for
the fifth consecutive year, from 15 million metric tons in 1991 to an
estimated 9 million tons for 1996, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta on
11 November. The decline is the result of a lack of investment and the
loss of Azerbaijan's traditional export markets. The IMF delegation that
visited Baku in August made the disbursement of a further $300 million
loan contingent on the raising of domestic oil prices. -- Liz Fuller

TER-PETROSSYAN INAUGURATED AMID CONTROVERSY. Armenian President Levon
Ter-Petrossyan was inaugurated for a second five-year term on 11
November, Armenian and Western media reported. The OSCE questioned the
vote results of the disputed 22 September presidential election, while
the opposition National Accord bloc (AHD) still claims it was robbed of
the victory. The ceremony, which was boycotted by the AHD deputies, took
place two days before the Constitutional Court is to start hearings on
the opposition's appeal to annul the election results. The defeated AHD
candidate, Vazgen Manukyan, described Ter-Petrossyan's decision to take
the oath before the court's ruling as a "violation of ethical
principles." According to Reuters, "Ter-Petrossyan looked grave and
seemed to have lost weight." Meanwhile, there were no results yet from
the 10 November local elections. -- Emil Danielyan

KAZAKSTANI PRESIDENT INTERVIEWED. Nursultan Nazarbayev refuted
assertions that the transfer of the Kazakstani capital from Almaty to
the northern city of Akmola represents an attempt at "Kazakization" of
the predominantly Russian region, in an interview published in
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 November. Nazarbayev justified the change on
the grounds that Akmola is a more central location for the country's
capital. Answering a question about the perceived discrimination against
non-Kazak, Russian-speakers, the president said criminals would continue
to be held accountable for their actions. Using the Cossack movement as
an example, Nazarbayev said his country reacts to calls such as
"Kazakstan into Russia," and "Cossack lands to Cossacks," the same way
Russians would react to "Sakhalin and Kurile islands to Japan."
Nazarbayev claimed that in Kazakstan there is no language discrimination
as "in more than 5,000 schools, the students are taught only in Russian,
and in 3,000 in Kazak." -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZSTAN, CHINA AGREE TO FIGHT SMUGGLING. Kyrgyz Interior Minister
Omurbek Tukuyev and Chinese Public Security Minister Tao Siju agreed in
Beijing on 11 November to cooperate in combating smuggling, ITAR-TASS
reported. The agreement has special significance for China as a new road
connecting China to Pakistan via Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan opened this
year. Besides bordering on China, Kyrgyzstan also borders Tajikistan
where the ongoing civil war greatly facilitates the smuggling of arms
and narcotics. -- Bruce Pannier

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH IN UZBEKISTAN. Patriarch Aleksii II of
Moscow, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, is in Uzbekistan to
celebrate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of two eparchies of
the Russian Orthodox Church in Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 11
November. Uzbek President Islam Karimov told Aleksei that new churches
had been built in Bukhara, Kashkadarya, and Syrdarya and that the St.
Aleksei Church in Samarkand had recently been renovated. Aleksii said
the visit was intended to "extend spiritual and moral support to the
Orthodox believers who have found themselves beyond the boundaries of
Russia." -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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