Coleridge declares that a man cannot have a good conscience who refuses apple dumplings, and I confess that I am of the same opinion. - Charles Lamb
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 228, Part I, 25 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

RUSSIAN-CHECHEN AGREEMENT SIGNED. President Boris Yeltsin on 23 November
signed a decree on the withdrawal from Grozny before 27 January 1997 of
the two remaining Russian military brigades, whose continued presence
Chechen separatist leaders claimed was an obstacle to the signing of an
interim agreement on Russian-Chechen relations, Russian media reported.
On the same day in Moscow, interim Chechen Prime Minister Aslan
Maskhadov and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed the
agreement in question. It provides for the restoration of transport
links with Chechnya; the signing of new agreements on the extraction and
processing of Chechen oil and on ensuring the security of oil pipelines
transiting Chechnya; the resolution of social and humanitarian problems,
specifically payment of wages and pensions; and coordination in the
field of defense, according to ITAR-TASS. At a subsequent press
conference, Maskhadov termed the agreement "a concrete step towards
peace," according to AFP. A new agreement on economic relations between
Chechnya and the Russian Federation will be signed after the Chechen
parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 27 January. --
Liz Fuller

COMMUNISTS SLAM CHECHEN ACCORD. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov
denounced the Chernomyrdin-Maskhadov agreement as "unconstitutional" and
said it would lead to the disintegration of the country, NTV reported on
24 November. He warned that the withdrawal of troops would not calm the
situation in the North Caucasus and blamed the agreement on a group of
Yeltsin advisors including presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais,
Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii, and Security
Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin. Zavtra editor Aleksandr Prokhanov called
on Russians to "sabotage and boycott these anti-national and anti-state
measures." Representatives of Yabloko charged that the Communists'
statements demonstrated that they supported the use of force in
Chechnya. At the Communists' insistence, the Duma Council on 24 November
called an extraordinary Duma session for 29 November to discuss
Chechnya. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF CHUBAIS, ILYUSHIN. The Duma adopted an
appeal to Yeltsin on 22 November to suspend Anatolii Chubais and Viktor
Ilyushin until a scandal over alleged financial irregularities during
the presidential election campaign is clarified, international agencies
reported. Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said he believed
the transcript published by Moskovskii komsomolets on 15 November that
re-ignited the scandal over the $538,000 taken out of the White House
was genuine. Yeltsin's press spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said on 23
November that the president is aware of the appeal adopted by the Duma
but that he believes it is an attempt to put pressure on the law
enforcement agencies, which Yeltsin believes should be allowed "to work
in normal conditions," Russian TV (RTR) reported. Chubais said the
appeal was illustrative of the current flood of compromising materials,
adding "it is no secret that certain political forces, backed by the
Duma Communist faction, see such methods as their major tools," ITAR-
TASS reported. Chubais, who argues that the Moskovskii komsomolets
transcript is a forgery, said earlier he was ready to answer all
questions and that he wants the truth to come out. -- Penny Morvant

KORZHAKOV INTERVIEW PULLED. Another television program featuring
Aleksandr Korzhakov has been canceled without explanation, Ekho Moskvy
reported on 23 November. The program, "Scandal of the Week," scheduled
for broadcast on TV6 on the evening of 23 November, included an
interview with Korzhakov. In it, the former presidential security chief
reportedly repeated his claim that he had nothing to do with the bugging
of the Ilyushin-Chubais conversation but he said he recognized their
voices. He claimed that the third interlocutor was not presidential aide
Sergei Krasavchenko. Nezavisimaya gazeta earlier speculated that the
"third man" was Sergei Shakhrai but later withdrew that claim. On 19
October RTR canceled transmission of an interview with Korzhakov.
Meanwhile, on 22 November, the Main Military Procurator's Office
launched a criminal case in connection with charges that Korzhakov
destroyed important documents after his dismissal from the Presidential
Security Service. -- Penny Morvant

DUBININ CLEARED OF EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES. The procurator general cleared
Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin of accusations that he had
transferred money from the now bankrupt Tveruniversalbank into his
personal bank account, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 November. A private
citizen identified only as N. D. Kozhukhovksii filed the charges in
September against Dubinin, former Tveruniversalbank Chairman Nikolai
Ryzhkov, now a Duma member, and head of the Central Bank settlement
center Fedor Tolstykh, and they received wide media attention.
Meanwhile, Obshchaya gazeta (no. 46) argued out that anti-corruption
campaigns are merely for show since only a few officials are ever
sentenced and many continue to hold their positions after being charged
or while they are under investigation. -- Robert Orttung

INCUMBENT LOSES GOVERNORSHIP IN KURGAN. The incumbent governor of Kurgan
Oblast, Anatolii Sobolev, failed to make it into the runoff after
winning just over 13% of the vote among three candidates in the 24
November gubernatorial election. According to preliminary results,
opposition-backed Oleg Bogomolov, chairman of the regional legislature,
took 41%, while businessman Anatolii Koltashov, who served as Yeltsin's
aide during the presidential campaign, finished second with 32%, RTR
reported. The turnout was about 55%. Bogomolov and Koltashov will
compete in the runoff which is scheduled for 8 December. Only nine
governors have managed to hold on to their seats in the 21 races
completed since 1 September (including Amur Oblast where the opposition
victory is still being contested.) -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

YELTSIN MEETS NAZARBAYEV. In his first meeting with a foreign leader
since his 5 November heart surgery, President Yeltsin met on 23 November
with his Kazakstani counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev at the Barvikha
sanatorium, Russian and Western agencies reported. During the 20-minute
session, the two leaders discussed economic ties and the status of the
Caspian Sea, according to presidential press secretary Sergei
Yastrzhembskii. Reflecting recent concerns in Moscow about Kazakh
language policy, Yeltsin also suggested that Russia and Kazakstan issue
a joint declaration on the status of the Russian language in Kazakstan.
The two leaders agreed that a CIS summit marking the organization's
fifth anniversary should be postponed from December to early January,
presumably owing to Yeltsin's condition. Continuing the relentless tide
of upbeat reports on Yeltsin's health by pro-government media,
Nazarbayev told NTV that Yeltsin looked much better than he had
anticipated. -- Scott Parrish

RODIONOV DENIES SOFTENING OPPOSITION TO NATO EXPANSION. Partially
retracting earlier comments (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 November 1996),
Defense Minister Igor Rodionov said on 23 November that "NATO's
expansion to the east is under no circumstances acceptable to Russia,"
Western and Russian agencies reported. Speaking after a meeting with his
visiting Slovak counterpart Jan Sitek, Rodionov declared that "I have
always been an opponent of NATO expansion," adding that he would remain
opposed until the problem was resolved. He did add, however, that NATO
has the right to accept new members. Sitek and Rodionov also signed a
plan outlining bilateral military cooperation during 1997. Sitek
confirmed Slovakia's desire to join NATO, but said it would not hinder
military-technical cooperation with Moscow. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, U.S. AGREE TO ACCELERATE URANIUM DEAL. Russia and the United
States have concluded a five-year contract that will speed up the sale
of uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads to the U.S. under a
1994 bilateral agreement, The Washington Post reported on 24 November.
The original agreement, calling for Russia to dilute 500 tons of
weapons-grade uranium into reactor fuel for sale to the U.S. over a 20-
year period, repeatedly hit snags over prices and annual delivery
quotas. The new contract specifies that Russia will deliver 18 metric
tons of the uranium in 1997, 24 tons in 1998, and 30 tons in 1999-2001,
in return for about $2 billion. Negotiators are also near agreement on
inspection measures which will verify that uranium shipped to the U.S.
is from dismantled warheads, not stockpiles. -- Scott Parrish

TAX ARREARS MOUNT. Russian firms now owe 51.3 trillion rubles ($9.3
billion) to the federal budget in unpaid taxes, according to Vladimir
Popov of the State Tax Service, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 22
November. Of this sum 31 trillion rubles are owed by oil and gas
enterprises - although they in turn are owed 19.4 trillion rubles by
state-owned customers. 73 firms each have tax debts in excess of 100
billion rubles, including three oil and gas firms (Yuganskneftegaz,
Nizhnevartovskneftegaz, and Noyabrskneftegaz), who owe more than 1
trillion rubles each. The auto giant AvtoVAZ alone owes 2.8 trillion
rubles ($500 million). Popov said that 43% of Russian firms report that
they running at a loss, up from 31% in 1995. The government claims that
tax collection has improved in recent months, and stands at 75% of the
target level for the first 10 months of the year. -- Peter Rutland

STOLICHNYI BANK WINS TENDER FOR AGROPROMBANK'S REHABILITATION.
Stolichnyi Bank Sberezhenii (SBS) has won a tender for the financial
rehabilitation of Agroprombank (APB) in competition with Imperial bank,
ITAR-TASS reported on 22 November. SBS is expected to provide APB with a
1 trillion rubles ($182 million) credit within the next ten days and
purchase 51% of its shares worth 130 billion rubles (of that, 24.5% will
be transferred under state management). In an interview with Kommersant-
Daily on 21 November, SBS Chairman Aleksandr Smolenskii said that
although APB's "agro" specialization will be preserved, new lending will
focus on food processing enterprises with a distribution network. --
Natalia Gurushina

ELECTRICITY GIANT CANCELS EUROBOND ISSUE. The State Property Committee
(GKI) has announced that it will cancel the September tender for
eurobonds in the national power grid EES Rossii, Segodnya reported on 23
November. The eurobond tender, with a 7.5% federal equity stake as
collateral, was won by a consortium of Russian and foreign banks led by
CS First Boston, although some of the foreign banks later withdrew from
the deal, accusing EES Rossii of refusing to disclose vital information.
Instead, GKI has now announced that it will sell 8.5% of federal shares
in a public tender between 22 November and 23 December. GKI expects to
raise some 1.5 trillion rubles ($273 million) from the sale. -- Natalia
Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KOCHARYAN REELECTED PRESIDENT OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH. The presidential
election in Nagorno-Karabakh took place on 24 November despite its
condemnation by Azerbaijan, Russia, and major Western countries, Western
agencies reported. According to the Central Electoral Commission in
Stepanakert, 76% of the region's 89,000 voters turned out. Robert
Kocharyan, the incumbent president of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-
Karabakh Republic, who was opposed by two other candidates, won a
decisive victory, Radio France Internationale reported on 25 November.
Meanwhile, mass rallies were held in Azerbaijan to protest the election,
ITAR-TASS reported on 24 November. Turan quoted Azerbaijani President
Heydar Aliev as saying that his country will never recognize the vote.
Aliev said that besides Armenia some unspecified countries also "support
separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh." -- Emil Danielyan

HIGH TURNOUT IN ABKHAZ POLL, GEORGIAN REFERENDUM. Parliamentary
elections were held in Abkhazia on 23 November despite an appeal by the
EU on 22 November for their cancellation and the resumption of talks on
a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Eighty-one candidates, including 65 ethnic Abkhaz and
three Georgians, contended the 35 seats; 30 deputies were elected in the
first round. Voter participation among the 219,000 electorate was
estimated at over 80%, according to AFP. Speaking at a press conference
on 24 November, a spokesman for the Unrecognized Nations and Peoples
Organization (UNPO) characterized the elections as "the free expression
of the people's will," ITAR-TASS reported. Voting was marred by a series
of explosions in Gali raion, home to some 40,000 repatriated ethnic
Georgians; an Abkhaz Interior Ministry spokesmen blamed the incidents on
Georgian saboteurs, ITAR-TASS reported. Between 18 and 23 November some
230,000 ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia during the fighting in 1992-
93 voted in a counter-referendum organized by the Georgian authorities
and overwhelmingly registered their condemnation of the Abkhaz poll. --
Liz Fuller

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS FRESH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The leader of
the opposition National Democratic Union, defeated presidential
candidate Vazgen Manukyan, has demanded a fresh election following the
decision by the Constitutional Court to reject the opposition's appeal
of the results of the 22 September presidential polls (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 22 November 1996), Noyan Tapan reported on 22 November. Manukyan
called on the international community to exert pressure on the Armenian
government to make the latter respect democratic principles. -- Emil
Danielyan

KAZAKSTANIS RESIST CHANGE OF CAPITAL. With the first transfer of
ministries due to take place after the New Year, the Giller Institute
conducted a poll which found only 5.6% of respondents would move from
Almaty to Akmola, the future capital, according to a 24 November report
from ITAR-TASS. Akmola lies on the steppe in the north of the country
and has much colder winters and hotter summers than Almaty. The
ministries of agriculture, transportation, and communications are the
first of 26 ministries scheduled to move in 1997, but presently the
Kazakstani government has only about one-tenth of the money it needs to
complete the first stage of the transfer. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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