Никогда не оправдывайтесь. - Л.Н.Толстой

No. 231, Part I, 2 December 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


DUMA BACKS AWAY FROM CONFRONTATION. The State Duma leadership decided on
29 November not to hold a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's government or initiate impeachment proceedings against
President Boris Yeltsin, Kommersant-Daily reported on 30 November. The
lower house did not even succeed in adopting a resolution on the matter.
The legitimacy of the votes was called into question when it was
announced that 42 Communist deputies did not have their voting cards
with them. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov charged that
Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais has set up his own
government in the Kremlin which must be removed. -- Robert Orttung

Yeltsin administration as a dangerous oligarchic clan system that is
pushing the country toward fascism, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii
called for all "democratic" groups to unite at a 30 November party
congress, NTV reported. He also said Yabloko would be gradually
transformed from a "movement" into a political party. Former Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev attended the congress and expressed his
support for Yabloko. Sergei Belyaev, the leader of the pro-government
Our Home Is Russia Duma faction, also attended the meeting and noted
that his bloc could find some common ground with Yabloko, but that the
two groups have differing opinions on the authorities currently in
power. During the 1995 Duma campaign, Yavlinskii rejected all attempts
by other groups to ally with him. He also failed to form a "third-force"
alliance with Aleksandr Lebed during the 1996 presidential campaign. --
Robert Orttung

29 November rejected a Duma bill that would have made it easier to amend
the constitution, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill stipulated that if the
members of the Russian Federation do not act on a proposed amendment
within six months, they are assumed to be in support of it.
Constitutional amendments require the support of two-thirds of all
members of the Duma, three-fourths of the Federation Council, and two-
thirds of all legislatures in the 89 republics and regions. -- Robert

GROUND FORCES COMMANDER SACKED. President Yeltsin dismissed Army Gen.
Vladimir Semenov from his position as commander of the Ground Forces on
30 November. The order accused Semenov of "activities incompatible with
his post," which "discredit the honor and dignity of a serviceman."
According to AFP, Semenov termed his sacking "completely unexpected,"
adding that no "convincing" charges of misconduct or corruption had been
leveled against him by the Defense Ministry. A Ground Forces spokesman
expressed "astonishment" at the justification for Semenov's dismissal.
-- Scott Parrish

OIL COMPANY BUYS INTO IZVESTIYA. LUKoil-Garant, a pension fund and
subsidiary of the Russian oil company LUKoil, is set to buy a 20% stake
in the daily newspaper Izvestiya, Segodnya reported on 28 November.
According to the fund's general manager, Mikhail Berezhnoi, LUKoil-
Garant plans to invest a considerable sum of money into the newspaper,
Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. According to an unnamed source,
the company has already bought 20% of Izvestiya's shares from Dialog-
bank and another 5% from foreign shareholders. A LUKoil company
representative has reportedly joined the newspaper's editorial board. --
Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

CHECHEN ELECTION PROSPECTS. The Chechen leadership on 30 November failed
to agree on a single candidate for the republic's presidential election
scheduled for 27 January 1997, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 30 November,
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin told ITAR-TASS that
Moscow will invite observers from the Council of Europe and the OSCE to
monitor the election. In an interview published in a Grozny newspaper
and summarized by ITAR-TASS on 1 December, former Russian parliament
speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov also advocated OSCE monitoring, but declined
to say whether he would run as a presidential candidate. Meanwhile, a
Russian presidential spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 29 November that the
withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic will be completed by 20
January 1997, but the commander of Russian Interior Ministry forces in
Chechnya, Col.-Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, said on 30 November that no
deadline has been set. -- Liz Fuller

28 November to annul the run-off results of the oblast's gubernatorial
election, citing massive forgery, Russian media reported. On 22
September, incumbent Yurii Lyashko lost the second round to the chairman
of the regional legislature, opposition candidate Anatolii Belonogov, by
189 votes. The investigation conducted by the regional Procurator's
Office found that many voters' signatures were falsified. Lyashko will
stay in the office until a new election scheduled for 27 March 1997, the
same day as the oblast legislative elections. A similar case is being
heard in Rostov Oblast, where the opposition claims that the 29
September gubernatorial poll results were forged by incumbent Vladimir
Chub, who received 62% of the vote to the opposition candidate Leonid
Ivanchenko's 20%. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

THREE GOVERNORS SECURE RE-ELECTION . . . The incumbent governors of
Samara, Ivanovo, and Kamchatka oblasts were re-elected on 1 December,
according to preliminary results released by Radio Rossii and Russian
Public TV (ORT) the next day. Konstantin Titov of Samara won re-election
with about 60% of the vote, twice as much as his rival, regional
Communist Party leader Valentin Romanov. Vladislav Tikhomirov of Ivanovo
Oblast finished first with about 50% of the vote. Vladimir Biryukov, the
incumbent in Kamchatka Oblast, defeated Boris Oleinikov by a margin of
about 60% in the gubernatorial run-off. The incumbent in Nenets
Autonomous Okrug, Vladimir Khabarov, won more than 40% of the vote, and
will face his opponent in a second round. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

. . . WHILE TWO LOSE. The chairman of the regional legislature in Altai
Krai, opposition candidate Aleksandr Surikov, defeated incumbent Lev
Korshunov in a run-off vote, Russian media reported. Surikov scored
about 49% of the vote, while Korshunov received 46%, about the same
level of support they received in the first round. The former chairman
of the Murmansk Oblast Soviet, Yurii Yevdokimov, defeated incumbent
Yevgenii Komarov by a margin of 4%. Yevdokimov, who was supported by
Aleksandr Lebed's Honor and Motherland movement, won about 12% less than
Komarov in the first round two weeks ago. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

OSCE summit in Lisbon, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who will head
the Russian delegation in Lisbon, said on his departure, "we are
categorically opposed to NATO's eastward enlargement," and called for
bolstering the role of the OSCE instead. In a 28 November article in
Nezavisimaya gazeta, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, generally a
moderate on the expansion issue, blasted NATO for refusing to sign a
charter with Moscow before accepting new members. He threatened that if
the alliance expands, Russia will consider changing its military
doctrine, seeking new allies, withdrawing from the 1990 CFE arms control
agreement, targeting nuclear weapons on Eastern Europe, and denouncing
START I and START II. The threats are probably aimed at securing
concessions in return for Moscow's eventual acquiescence to NATO
enlargement. -- Scott Parrish

INDIA AGREES TO BUY UP TO 50 SU-30 FIGHTERS. Indian Defense Ministry
officials and representatives of Rosvoruzhenie signed a contract on 30
November under which India will purchase a number of SU-30MK multi-
purpose fighters, Russian and Western agencies reported. Neither side
would reveal the number of planes involved, or the exact value of the
contract, although Rosvoruzhenie spokesman Valerii Pogrebnikov said the
contract is worth more than $1 billion, and Moscow has not denied
earlier reports that the deal calls for the delivery of 8 SU-30MK planes
initially, and up to 40 later. -- Scott Parrish

MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF IN CUBA. A delegation led by Col.-Gen. Fedor
Ladygin, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian
General Staff, arrived in Havana on 28 November to participate in
ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed
Forces, according to ITAR-TASS. Izvestiya, however, reported on 30
November that Ladygin's main mission is to discuss the continued
operation of the Russian electronic eavesdropping facility at Lourdes,
near Havana, for which Russia reportedly pays Cuba about $200 million
annually. -- Scott Parrish

CHERNOMYRDIN ON CRIME. Speaking at an Interior Ministry meeting at on 29
November, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin praised the police for
managing "to prevent the total criminalization of Russian society" and
to halt "the plundering of the national wealth, of natural resources,
and the penetration into the national economy of 'dirty,' criminal
money." He said, nevertheless, that the shadow economy accounts for 20%-
50% of all economic activity in the country. Chernomyrdin admitted that
the government owes the ministry 1.5 trillion rubles ($280 million) and
hopes to pay it by the end of the year. The 1997 budget will allocate 30
trillion rubles to the ministry. -- Peter Rutland

MONETARY POLICY FOR 1997. The government has approved the Central Bank
of Russia's (TsB) blueprint for monetary and credit policy in 1997,
Segodnya reported on 29 November. The blueprint envisages a 22%-30%
annual increase in money supply. From January through October 1996, cash
emission in Russia totaled 17.7 trillion rubles ($3.5 billion), compared
to 31.2 trillion rubles over the same period in 1995, Segodnya reported
on 28 November. TsB Chairman Sergei Dubinin said that the economy can
withstand such an increase next year without boosting yearly inflation
to more than the 12% envisioned in the 1997 draft budget. On 29
November, the TsB announced the fifth cut in its refinancing rate this
year--from 60% to 48%, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Natalia Gurushina

OIL TAX TO BE CUT. On 29 November, First Deputy Economics Minister Yakov
Urinson announced that the excise tax on oil will be cut from 70,000 to
55,000 rubles per metric ton in 1997, ITAR-TASS reported. Urinson said
that energy companies account for 65% of budget revenue, and are taxed
more heavily than their Western counterparts. Economics Minister
Yevgenii Yasin told a government meeting on 28 November that the Russian
economy will continue to stagnate unless it adopts a new industrial
policy, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported. Yasin said the government should
give the space, nuclear, and power sectors investments, subsidies, and
export credits to help them compete on world markets, and use import
tariffs to protect domestic auto, engineering, and light industrial
manufacturers. Such recommendations are sharply at odds with the
government's current policies. -- Peter Rutland


on 29 November approved the government program of recently appointed
Prime Minister Armen Sarkisyan, ITAR-TASS reported the same day.
Speaking at a session of parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated
by deputies loyal to President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Sarkisyan said a
"qualitative improvement" of economic reforms will be his government's
top priority. He also pledged more state support for education, science,
and culture. -- Emil Danielyan

NIYAZOV IN TASHKENT. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov began a two-
day state visit to Uzbekistan on 27 November, and signed a number of
economic and cultural agreements designed to improve relations which
have been overall cool, Western and Russian news agencies reported.
Niyazov and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, also discussed the
situations in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. On 21 November, Uzbekistan
opened an embassy in Ashgabat. -- Lowell Bezanis

that importers bringing "high quality" goods into Uzbekistan would enjoy
a greater degree of convertibility from January 1997. Karimov went on to
say joint ventures engaged in "civilized business with Uzbekistan will
not suffer any material losses." His remarks, broadcast on Uzbek Radio
on 27 November and monitored by the BBC, suggest the government is
attempting to step back from regulations introduced in late October that
effectively forbid foreign currency transactions and limit currency
conversion to a handful of large firms operating in Uzbekistan.
Diplomats, traders, and international lending institutions have all
registered their displeasure with the new regulations. In other news,
Uzbek Radio on 26 November announced the minimum monthly wage in
Uzbekistan would rise to 600 som, approximately $12 at the official
exchange rate but about $5 on the black market. -- Lowell Bezanis

ANOTHER TAJIK TOWN UNDER SIEGE. The city of Garm in central Tajikistan
is the latest to fall to forces of the Tajik opposition, Russian and
Western media reported. Opposition fighters began attacking Garm on 1
December, killing at least seven government soldiers and by nightfall
were holding some 100-150 government employees and soldiers in a local
mosque. Government aircraft and helicopters responded by bombing the
city. Fighting continued into the next morning. The fall of Garm leaves
the opposition in control of a fork in a strategic highway leading both
southeast and northeast. Supplies must now be airlifted to government
forces in Tajikabad and CIS border guards in Khorog, Kalai-Khumb, and
Ishkashim. -- Bruce Pannier

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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