When two people communicate, they each can be enriched - and unlike traditional resources, the more you share the more you have. - U.S. Vice President Al Gore
,title>OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 232, Part I, 3 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

RUSSIA

RUSSIA BLASTS NATO ENLARGEMENT AT OSCE SUMMIT . . . Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin admitted at the OSCE summit in Lisbon on 2 December
that Russia could not "veto" NATO enlargement, but urged his fellow
European leaders to consider "what the expansion of NATO might lead to,"
Russian and Western agencies reported. He rhetorically asked if the
expansion of a military alliance was the best way to achieve the goal of
a peaceful and united Europe, and called for giving the OSCE a
"coordinating" role in European security. According to AFP, the dispute
over the NATO issue will lead to its exclusion from the summit's final
communique, which is to outline plans for a new European security
architecture. Also meeting in Lisbon, the 30 signatories of the 1990 CFE
treaty agreed to begin talks this January on revising the cold war-era
treaty, a long-time Russian demand. -- Scott Parrish

. . . BUT U.S. STANDS FIRM. In his address to the OSCE summit, U.S. Vice
President Al Gore underlined the gap dividing Moscow and Washington on
the NATO enlargement issue, insisting that NATO expansion will increase
stability in Europe, and that NATO "poses no threat to any other state,"
AFP reported on 2 December. Chernomyrdin and Gore sought to put a
positive spin on their subsequent meeting, however, which the Russian
prime minister said "went off excellently." He added that "I cannot say
that the American side did not listen to our arguments." Chernomyrdin
said that Russia regards itself as part of Europe and does not want to
be isolated from the rest of the continent. The two leaders also
discussed a possible Clinton-Yeltsin summit, which is tentatively
scheduled for the first half of 1997. -- Scott Parrish

CONFUSION OVER DISMISSAL OF GROUND FORCES COMMANDER. Contradicting the
Defense Ministry, the presidential press service on 2 December denied
that President Boris Yeltsin had signed an order dismissing Army General
Vladimir Semenov as Ground Forces commander, ITAR-TASS reported (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 2 December 1996). It said Yeltsin and Defense
Minister Igor Rodionov had agreed in principle to sack Semenov, but a
final decision would be made only after a review by the presidential
commission on top military ranks. According to Izvestiya on 3 December,
Rodionov told Semenov that the "commercial activities" of his wife, an
engineer at the helicopter concern Rosvertol, had prompted his dismissal
on charges of misconduct. But NTV reported that the Military
Procurator's office has no pending investigation of Semenov, and
Segodnya military commentator Pavel Felgengauer said it was Semenov's
opposition to Rodionov's plans to downsize the ground forces that
triggered efforts to remove him. -- Scott Parrish

CHECHEN ELECTIONS MAY BE DELAYED. In an address read to the Chechen
parliament on 2 December by speaker Akhyad Idigov, acting Chechen
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev proposed postponing for one or two months
the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 27 January,
AFP reported. Yandarbiev referred to his recent meeting with Russian
human rights activist Sergei Kovalev, who argued that there was not
enough time to draw up voter lists or organize absentee voting among
refugees from Chechnya. ITAR-TASS on 2 December quoted the chairman of
the Chechen Central Electoral Commission, Mumadi Saidaev, as rejecting
the proposed postponement. Also on 2 December, the head of the OSCE
mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, stated that he was confident of the
Chechen leadership's determination to hold democratic, free, and fair
elections, but that this could prove difficult given the shortage of
funds available. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION (ORT) CHARGED WITH BIASED CAMPAIGN COVERAGE.
The Juridical Chamber on Information Disputes ruled on 2 December that
ORT's coverage of the Rostov Oblast gubernatorial elections violated the
federal law governing citizens' voting rights, ITAR-TASS reported. ORT
broadcast a report favoring incumbent Governor Vladimir Chub just a few
hours before the beginning of the 29 September balloting. According to
federal law, campaigning must stop 24 hours before the polls open.
Chub's competitor, Communist Party Duma Deputy Leonid Ivanchenko, who
trailed by a large margin (61%-32%) (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 September
and 3 October 1996), appealed to the Chamber that ORT's coverage played
a major role in shaping public opinion. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

ADMINISTRATION SEES GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN AS 19-5 IN ITS FAVOR. The
administration has won 19 of the 24 gubernatorial elections completed
since 1 September according to First Deputy Chief of Staff Aleksandr
Kazakov, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 December. He arrived at this figure by
counting the incumbents and "strong managers" who have won. Only 12
incumbents have won to date, while the administration hopes that at
least seven of the new governors will support its policies. Kazakov
argued that the gubernatorial elections will not have any particular
impact on the alignment of political forces in Moscow. In contrast,
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov claimed on 3 December that only
five candidates from the "party of power" had won so far and that
changes in the Federation Council would significantly affect the Russian
budget, the government's economic policy, and the fight against crime
and corruption, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED'S BROTHER LEADS IN KHAKASIYA. Aleksei Lebed, the younger brother
of former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, won 45% of the
vote in the first round of voting on 1 December in the executive branch
elections in the republic of Khakasiya, Kommersant-Daily reported on 3
December. He will face businessman Yevgenii Reznik, who won 19%, in the
second round. The incumbent Yevgenii Smirnov won only 8% and was
eliminated. Lebed formerly led an airborne regiment based in the
republic and was elected to the Duma from there in 1995. His victory can
be attributed to his brother's celebrity, backing from the Sayansk
aluminum factory, and the scandal surrounding an attempt to prevent him
from registering because he had not lived in the republic for seven
years. Presidential aide Aleksandr Kazakov has already declared that the
younger Lebed is not a member of the opposition and that if he wins they
will be prepared to work with him. -- Robert Orttung

NATIONWIDE MINERS STRIKE. An estimated 400,000 of Russia's 560,000
coalminers launched an indefinite nationwide strike called by the the
Russian Coal-Industry Workers' Union on 3 December, protesting wage
arrears totalling 1.5 trillion rubles ($270 million), ITAR-TASS and
Reuters reported. Workers from more than 100 mines in Kuzbass, the coal
basin in Kemerovo Oblast, joined the strike: wage arrears in that region
are estimated at 700 billion rubles. In Tula Oblast, workers from 11
coal mining companies on 2 December joined the hunger strike started by
miners of the joint stock company Tulaugol on 22 October. Meanwhile, in
Vorkuta, in the northern part of Komi Republic, the local branch of the
Independent Coal Miners' Union denounced the strike as premature. --
Ritsuko Sasaki

CHILE COMPLAINS ABOUT MARS PROBE SECRECY. Chilean Defense Minister
Edmundo Perez criticized Russia on 2 December for failing to share
technical information on the failed Mars-96 probe, which crashed into
the Pacific Ocean off Chile on 17 November, Reuters reported. Chile is
concerned about possible radioactive contamination from the probe, which
carried 200 grams of plutonium as part of its power supplies. Perez said
Moscow had assured Santiago that there is no risk of contamination, but
complained that Russia "has been tremendously unwilling to give precise
information" which would support this conclusion. Chilean air force and
navy patrols have so far found no trace of radiation in the area where
the probe fell into the ocean. -- Scott Parrish

ENERGY SECTOR TRAPPED IN CIRCLE OF DEBT. Fuel and energy enterprises are
owed 320 trillion rubles ($58 billion) by their customers--80% up on the
debts at the end of 1995, according to State Tax Service department head
Dmitrii Popov, cited by ITAR-TASS on 2 December. This sum is equal to
two thirds of the energy sector's annual output. Popov claimed that non-
cash forms of exchange account for an astonishing 80% of transactions in
the energy sector. These money surrogates include barter, bills of
exchange, mutual debt clearing, and tax credits. Popov also noted that
energy firms reported losses of 7.6 trillion rubles in the first 10
months of the year, 56% of which were incurred by coal mines. Energy
firms contributed 61.3 trillion rubles in federal taxes in the first 10
months of the year, but their tax debts totaled 30.6 trillion rubles at
the end of October, up from 11.4 trillion in January. Despite the
problems with non-paying customers, energy output only fell 0.8% this
year. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIAN-FRENCH DEBT UPDATE. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and his French
counterpart Alain Juppe have signed an agreement on restructuring
Russia's $5 billion debt to France, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 3
December. The debt will be repaid over 25 years. Meanwhile,
Vneshekonombank has been granted a $300 million loan by a consortium of
French banks (including Societe Generale, BNP, and Credit Lyonnais),
Trud reported on 30 November. The bulk of the loan, which is guaranteed
by the Russian government, will be used for the purchase of French
goods. These deals follow Russia's agreeing to pay $400 million to
French holders of tsarist state bonds (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27
November 1996). -- Natalia Gurushina

STATE PENSION FUND TO GET 3 TRILLION RUBLES LOAN. President Yeltsin has
instructed the government to lend 3 trillion rubles ($545 million) to
the State Pension Fund, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 December. At present,
the fund is owed nearly 50 trillion rubles in mandatory contributions
from the federal budget and enterprises. As a result, its own debt to
pensioners tops 10 trillion rubles and pension payments in many regions
are delayed for up to three months. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS CLASH AT OSCE SUMMIT. Azerbaijani
President Heydar Aliev, speaking at the OSCE summit in Lisbon on 2
December, accused Armenia of refusing to recognize his country's
territorial integrity and of pursuing "non-legitimate claims for the
independence of Nagorno-Karabakh," Reuters reported. Aliev said a high
degree of autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan, along with
security guarantees for the region's population, should be the key
principles for settling the conflict. Aliev added that "we cannot allow
the creation on the territory of Azerbaijan of a second Armenian state."
Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan said the people of Nagorno-
Karabakh should be given the right to self-determination because
Azerbaijan is "unable" to guarantee their safety. Ter-Petrossyan warned
that the region's population would face "genocide or forced deportation"
if Azerbaijan's proposals were accepted. Observers note that Azerbaijan
may block a final declaration by the OSCE on the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict if it fails to affirm the region's territorial integrity. --
Emil Danielyan

RED CROSS CALLS FOR MORE AID TO CENTRAL ASIA. The International Red
Cross representative in Central Asia, Bob McKerrow, said $21 million
will be needed in 1997 to provide adequate aid to the Central Asian
states, according to a 2 December Reuters report. Speaking at a news
conference in Almaty, McKerrow noted that Kazakstan already has cases of
malnutrition, particularly in the western regions where drought ruined
almost the entire harvest. The aggravated situations in Afghanistan and
Tajikistan are also expected to increase the number of refugees in
Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan there are presently 30,000 refugees, and
people fleeing from the fighting in Afghanistan have appeared in
Turkmenistan. -- Bruce Pannier

PROBLEMS OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA IN KAZAKSTAN. Recent decisions by the
Kazakstani government to suspend the broadcasting of several independent
radio and television stations are drawing criticism from the Russian
media. On 29 November AFP quoted Ekho Moskvy as saying the shutdown of
nine stations on 4 November was an attempt by the Kazakstani government
to limit information concerning a demonstration the following day. The
government claimed the stations were broadcasting on frequencies which
interfered with air traffic control. Radio Rossii reported on 30
November that the shutdown was an attempt to put non-government stations
out of business for airing opposition views. It also noted that nearly
100% of TV and radio broadcasts are in Russian, and suggested that a
tender for frequencies, coming after the New Year, will likely favor
companies which will broadcast in Kazak, the state language. Members of
the independent media and opposition are planning a demonstration in
Almaty on 8 December. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK HISTORIOGRAPHY. Academics working under President Islam Karimov's
Academy for State and Societal Construction plan to issue a three-volume
"Modern History of Uzbekistan," Khalq Sozi reported on 27 November as
monitored by the BBC. The book will cover Tsarist colonialism, "Soviet
Colonialism," and Uzbekistan's modern history of independence. The
academics, led by historian Hamdam Sodiqov, are battling against "false
conceptions about the history of independence" and "former Kremlin and
Communist Party sycophants," the report said. -- Lowell Bezanis
[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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