The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension. - Ezra Pound
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 227, Part I, 22 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 OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are
available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

RUSSIA

YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL; ZYUGANOV DOUBTS HIS STRENGTH. President Boris
Yeltsin left the Central Clinical Hospital for the Barvikha sanitarium
on 22 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov, however, charged that the president has not made enough
progress. "Anyone who knows anything about medicine knows that after
three heart attacks, five bypasses, and with concerns about a number of
other organs, a person cannot work at full strength," Reuters quoted him
as saying. Zyuganov noted that in a crisis, Yeltsin might have to work
around the clock. -- Robert Orttung

CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST MEETING. The Consultative Council,
which is supposed to bring together the president, prime minister, and
the speakers of both houses, met for the first time on 21 November to
discuss Belarus and Chechnya, Russian TV (RTR) reported. Presidential
Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais sat in for President Yeltsin, and Duma
Speaker Gennadii Seleznev attended even though on 30 October he had
announced he would not attend any council meetings in which Chubais
replaced Yeltsin. He said the importance of the Belarusian situation
made him change his mind. Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Our Home Is Russia Duma faction leader Sergei
Belyaev, and Liberal Democratic Party representative Stanislav
Zhebrovskii attended as well. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and
Zyuganov did not participate, although they were invited. After the
meeting, Chernomyrdin, Seleznev, and Federation Council Speaker Yegor
Stroev flew to Minsk. -- Robert Orttung

IZVESTIYA ACCUSES YELTSIN OF VIOLATING LAW WITH BEREZOVSKII APPOINTMENT.
Izvestiya on 22 November continued its campaign against Deputy Security
Council Secretary Boris Berezovskii, charging that the president and
other executive branch officials violated Russian legislation
prohibiting the appointment of foreign citizens to Russian state bodies.
Berezovskii held Israeli citizenship for the first three weeks of his
appointment the paper charged, asking why the law did not apply to
Russia's top officials. Meanwhile, Moskovskii komsomolets asked if there
would be any investigation into numerous illegal operations which
Berezovskii allegedly conducted as the general director of the auto
trading company LogoVAZ. -- Robert Orttung

TOP POLITICIANS TO BE QUESTIONED OVER LISOVSKII-YEVSTAFEV CASE.
Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov on 21 November ordered his office to
begin a criminal investigation into the 19 June incident in which
Yeltsin campaign aides Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev were
stopped by the Presidential Security Service as they were carrying
$538,000 in cash out of government headquarters, ITAR-TASS reported. The
case was previously under the purview of the Moscow Procurator's Office.
The agency quoted "reliable sources" as saying the investigators plan to
question a number of senior figures linked to the scandal, including
Chubais, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Ilyushin, presidential aide
Sergei Krasavchenko, and former Presidential Security Service chiefs
Aleksandr Korzhakov and Valerii Streletskii. Krasavchenko featured along
with Chubais and Ilyushin in a transcript of an alleged conversation of
plans to cover up the incident published by Moskovskii komsomolets, but
Nezavisimaya gazeta speculated on 20 November that the third speaker was
actually Sergei Shakhrai. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIA DENIES HIRING CIA AGENT. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Mikhail Demurin denied that Russia had hired CIA officer Harold
Nicholson to conduct espionage, Russian and Western agencies reported on
21 November. Demurin said "We have no information to confirm the report"
that Nicholson had worked as Moscow's paid agent. Referring to U.S.
threats of retaliation, Demurin warned against "any attempt to
artificially complicate Russian-U.S. relations under any pretext." The
same day, however, a federal grand jury in Virginia found the evidence
against Nicholson convincing enough to return an indictment against him
on charges of conspiring to spy for Russia. -- Scott Parrish

OMON SOLDIERS STILL CAPTIVE. The two OMON soldiers who were taken
hostage by Chechen gunmen on 20 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21
November 1996) remain captive, NTV reported on 21 November. The field
commander holding them will free them only after three of his men are
released from federal custody. Chechen officials, including acting
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, however, did convince the same field
commander to release two International Red Cross workers whom he had
also been holding hostage. A Chechen member of the Grozny joint command
said such incidents would likely recur, since many Chechen field
commanders want their men who were captured by federal forces to be
released, but federal authorities regard these prisoners as criminals.
Meanwhile, bad weather delayed Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin's
arrival in Nazran, Ingushetiya, where he is scheduled to discuss the
planned Russian-Chechen treaty with Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister
Movladi Udugov -- Scott Parrish

MORE MIXED SIGNALS ON NATO. Speaking after a Versailles session of the
North Atlantic Assembly, Duma Deputy Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin said
Moscow "must become accustomed" to the idea that the eastward
enlargement of NATO "is inevitable," ITAR-TASS reported on 21 November.
In order to avoid the emergence of "new dividing lines" in Europe,
Shokhin also said NATO enlargement should be accompanied by a
restructuring of other European security organizations, like the OSCE,
and said that arms control agreements like START II and CFE would need
revision as well. He also said that a NATO guarantee not to deploy
nuclear weapons on the territory of new members would help Moscow accept
enlargement. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
told visiting British Defense Minister Michael Portillo that NATO
enlargement would divide Europe, and insisted that the OSCE play the
leading role in European security. -- Scott Parrish

LEBED CONCERNED ABOUT "UNSATISFACTORY" NUCLEAR SAFETY. In Washington on
his first visit to the U.S., former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed warned that the insufficient security measures at Russian nuclear
installations make them vulnerable to terrorist attack and theft. After
a meeting with Senator Richard Lugar, who co-authored legislation aimed
at assisting Russia to upgrade the security and safety of its nuclear
facilities, Lebed said that "any cost is justified" to rectify the
situation. The Clinton administration and the Russian government have
officially insisted that the current safeguards are adequate. Lebed
later held a "warm and friendly" meeting with Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott. Russian press coverage of Lebed's visit remained
derisive. NTV pointedly omitted Lebed's substantive comments, while
ridiculing his statement that he would be willing to re-enter the
government if invited. -- Scott Parrish

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ON TORTURE IN RUSSIA. In a new report, "Torture
and ill-treatment in Russia," Amnesty International says that decrees
issued by President Yeltsin have made it easier for police to torture
and ill-treat suspects and that ethnic minorities are particularly at
risk. According to an RFE/RL correspondent, Amnesty says it has received
numerous reports of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police
custody and prisons, and within the context of the Chechen conflict. It
specifically criticized Yeltsin's June 1994 decree against organized
crime, which allows the detention of suspects for up to 30 days without
charge, and the July 1996 decree on combating crime in Moscow that
authorizes law enforcement organs to detain vagrants and homeless people
for 30 days. -- Penny Morvant

NEW FUEL CRISIS IN PRIMORE. The mayor of a city in the Far East warned
his fellow residents on 21 November that they are likely to be evacuated
because of a shortage of fuel for local heating plants, RTR reported.
The mayor of Bolshoi Kamen, a city of 30,000, said supplies would run
out on 25 November. He sent a telegram to Moscow asking for help and
appealed to other city administrations to house Bolshoi Kamen's
residents temporarily. According to ITAR-TASS, stocks of fuel oil at
power stations elsewhere in Primore are once again extremely low.
Vladivostok has received 600 metric tons of fuel oil from the Pacific
Fleet, enough to keep one of the two boilers at the city's heat and
power plant in operation, but apartment blocks will receive only enough
warm water to prevent pipes from freezing. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIA ISSUES EUROBONDS. Russia has successfully launched its first $1
billion issue of eurobonds in major international financial markets, AFP
reported on 21 November. Five-year bonds will bear a coupon income of
9.25%. The success of the issue is ascribed to progress in negotiations
with the Paris Club of official creditors and the London Club of
commercial creditors over the rescheduling of Russia's external debt;
and the decision last month of major international credit rating
agencies to give Russia its first credit grades. Also encouraging was
the favorable outcome of President Yeltsin's heart operation and the
government's resumption earlier this week of payments on stolen state
foreign currency bonds (OVVZ) that were frozen in June. Russian
authorities plan a series of similar issues in 1997 expecting to raise
$1.3 billion for the federal budget. The eurobond issue may now pave the
way to the international financial markets for Russian companies and
local authorities. -- Natalia Gurushina

NET FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES DECLINING. Russia's net foreign exchange
reserves (NFER) dropped by nearly 30% during the period from the
presidential election until October, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 21
November. In October, NFER stood at $3.2 billion. During the
presidential campaign, Russia sold $4.4 billion of the reserves, which
led to the reduction of the NFER from $8.7 billion to $4.3 billion.
According to the report, Russia's NFER may shrink to $1.9 billion by the
beginning of next year. Meanwhile, Russia's gold output continue to
decline. In the first 10 months of 1996, it reached 100 metric tons, 7
tons less than the same period a year earlier, ITAR-TASS reported on 21
November. As a result, the 1996 federal budget will not receive some
$400-$450 million in tax revenue from the gold mining industry. --
Natalia Gurushina

GOVERNMENT TO MAINTAIN REFORM COURSE. The government on 21 November
approved an economic program for the 1997-2000 period, Kommersant Daily
reported. It plans to hold inflation below 8% while stimulating a 5%
annual growth in GDP and cutting all budget subsidies (estimated to
amount to 8% of GDP, according to Segodnya on 21 November). Meanwhile, a
new IMF team was in Moscow, following up the inconclusive visit of a
team in October. Due to worries over tax collection, the IMF delayed the
release of the October tranche, worth $340 million, of the $10.1 billion
Extended Fund Facility approved in April, and will probably delay the
November tranche. Reuters reported on 22 November that tax revenues rose
from 13.5 trillion rubles in September to 17 trillion in October, and
are running at a rate of 25 trillion (12% of GDP) in November. The
reliability of these figures--for example, the extent to which they
reflect actual cash payments rather than "tax credits"--is unclear. --
Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS OPPOSITION APPEAL. The Consti-
tutional Court on 22 November rejected the opposition's appeal to annul
the results of the 22 September controversial presidential election,
Reuters reported, citing ITAR-TASS. Observers note that the decision,
which is not subject to appeal, may trigger a new wave of mass protests
by opposition supporters. Also, commenting on the resolution of the
European Parliament condemning the ballot (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21
November 1996), acting presidential spokesman Levon Zurabyan said "it
was based on inaccurate and unverified data," ITAR-TASS reported on 21
November. -- Emil Danielyan

EU CALLS FOR CANCELLATION OF ABKHAZ ELECTIONS. The EU has called on the
leadership of Abkhazia to cancel the parliamentary election slated for
23 November, arguing that it could fuel tensions and violence in the
region, Reuters reported on 22 November. It said the election should
take place only after a final decision on Abkhazia's status within
Georgia. According to ITAR-TASS, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba
said the multiethnic composition of the candidates legitimizes the vote.
Ardzinba said he hopes Abkhazia's ethnic Georgian population will
participate in the election. -- Emil Danielyan

IRANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN VISITS KAZAKSTAN. The head of the Iranian
Mezhlis, Ali Akbar Notik Nuri, met with Kazakstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev in Almaty on 22 November, Khabar TV reported. Nazarbayev
emphasized Iran's "strategic importance" for Kazakstan and increasing
bilateral trade, especially in view of the recent oil swap agreements
signed earlier this year. Nuri also shared the achievements of the
Islamic revolution in Iran, especially in fighting "pseudo-Western
culture." -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

CABLE TV IN ALMATY. The joint U.S.-Kazakstani company Alma TV has
announced the launch of the first cable TV station in Almaty,
Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 21 November. About 2,000 cable TV
sets will be installed during the first trial, able to broadcast more
than 30 channels. The company, established by the U.S. International
Telcell company and its Kazakstani partner in 1994, has already been
offering satellite TV retranslating service in Almaty. The first attempt
to introduce a cable system in Almaty in 1992 failed due to low market
demand. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

TAJIK GOVERNMENT FORCES HOLD BACK REBEL ADVANCE. Tajik Defense Ministry
forces repelled opposition attacks on military posts in the Khaburabad
Pass on 21 November, according to Reuters and ITAR-TASS. The pass,
located 300 km east of Dushanbe, overlooks the main highway running east
from the capital. The Defense Ministry sent a protest to the UN observer
mission, stating that this and similar attacks on Komsomolabad and in
the Tavil-Dara area are a clear violation of the Tehran ceasefire
agreement signed in 1994. -- Bruce Pannier

RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN TAJIKISTAN DEMANDS ACTION ON TERRORISM. Lt.-Gen.
Viktor Zavarzin, the commander of the CIS peacekeeping forces in
Tajikistan, sent a note to Tajik law enforcement agencies expressing his
dissatisfaction at their efforts to combat attacks on the CIS force
troops, according to ITAR-TASS on 21 November. Zavarzin's protest comes
after the 19 November murder of a Tajik Defense Ministry officer, who
was Russian, the abduction on the same day of the wife of a Russian
serviceman, and the shooting of two soldiers from the 201st Motorized
Rifle Division on 20 November. All the crimes occurred in the Tajik
capital Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier

AFGHAN REFUGEES SHOW UP IN TURKMENISTAN. The Red Cross announced that
800 people fleeing the fighting in western Afghanistan have crossed into
Turkmenistan, RFE/RL reported on 21 November. Red Cross spokesman Thorir
Gudmundsson said the number could climb to as high as 18,000 if fighting
continues near Herat. At least 50,000 people are estimated to have been
displaced by the fighting in the Badghis province of Afghanistan. --
Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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