When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 239, Part I, 12 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

YELTSIN ADDRESSES COUNTRY ON CONSTITUTION DAY. Russia marked the third
anniversary of the adoption of its constitution on 12 December 1993. In
a written address to the nation distributed by ITAR-TASS, President
Boris Yeltsin called the past year "particularly important for the
consolidation of the constitutional system" since elections were held at
the national, regional, and local levels. He stressed the fact that even
the majority of those who do not like the constitution try to change it
through constitutional procedures, meaning that the country's progress
toward democracy is irreversible. Moskovskaya pravda on 11 December,
however, reminded its readers that the constitution was drawn up "with
Yeltsin in mind" and that its approval in the December 1993 referendum
was surrounded by numerous allegations of fraud. The article complained
that the constitution gives Yeltsin so much power that he cannot use it
all, and it falls into the hands of unelected officials. -- Robert
Orttung

ZYUGANOV: OPPOSITION HAS DRAFTED 12 CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov announced that the opposition has
prepared 12 constitutional amendments to alter the balance of power,
which is currently heavily weighted toward the president, ITAR-TASS and
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 11 December. He regretted that the
current constitution does not sufficiently guarantee economic rights,
such as a right to a job and decent income, and again advocated creating
a State Council to approve policy, on which the presidential
administration, government, and parliament would all be represented.
Constitutional amendments must be approved by two-thirds of the State
Duma and three-fourths of the Federation Council before being sent to
regional legislatures. Zyuganov's proposals could gain enough votes in
the Duma but are unlikely to do so in the council. Meanwhile, Zyuganov
predicted that the only big celebrations of Constitution Day in Russia
would be on national television networks, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin

DEFENSE COUNCIL MEETS. Russia's Defense Council on 11 December decided
to increase the powers of the General Staff, granting it the authority
to coordinate some two dozen federal agencies that employ uniformed
servicemen, Russian media reported. But Defense Council Secretary Yurii
Baturin said the change would take time to implement. Russian TV (RTR)
reported that the council also discussed streamlining the number of
service branches while reducing military manpower to 1.2 million by
2001. The new military doctrine under consideration also reportedly
provides for the use of nuclear weapons if Russia faces an overwhelming
conventional attack, a move Russian officials have linked to NATO plans
for eastward expansion. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN SACKS SOME REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES. President Yeltsin fired his
representatives in Kirov, Vologda, and Vladimir oblasts, ITAR-TASS
reported 12 December. In Kirov and Vladimir, the firings were apparently
connected to the recent gubernatorial elections in which the pro-Yeltsin
incumbents did poorly. The presidential representative in Vladimir,
Nikolai Yegorov, even competed unsuccessfully against the Yeltsin-
appointed incumbent in the race there. In Vologda, however, Governor
Vyacheslav Pozgalev won his 6 October race with 80% of the vote. --
Robert Orttung

MORE ON THE CHUBAIS, ILYUSHIN TAPE. Moskovskii komsomolets on 11
December published what it described as an expert analysis of the tape-
recording on which its controversial 15 November article "Vote or..."
was based. The transcript--of a conversation between Anatolii Chubais
and Viktor Ilyushin--raised awkward questions about the financing of
President Yeltsin's re-election campaign and the influence of the
executive branch on the Procurator's Office. Both Chubais and Ilyushin
have denied that the conversation took place. Moskovskii komsomolets
reported that the U.S.-based Dinatronic Laboratory found that the tape
had not been edited or tampered with and that the recording was probably
made on a portable cassette recorder. The paper said it had turned to a
U.S. company because it doubted the impartiality of the Federal Agency
for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI), which is
examining the tape for the Procurator's Office, and predicted that the
whole affair will be allowed to drop. -- Penny Morvant

KILLED JOURNALISTS HONORED. Journalists gathered in Moscow on 11
December to honor colleagues who have been killed in the line of duty,
Russian media reported. Union of Journalists Chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov
noted that 135 journalists have been killed in the former Soviet Union
over the last five years, 24 of them in Chechnya. So far in 1996, 22
reporters have been killed. A new insurance fund has been created to
help Russian journalists who have been injured or who have worked in
dangerous areas, such as the Chornobyl region, Bogdanov said. In
addition, accredited journalists will be able to obtain insurance for
free or at reduced rates. The fund will also pay $10,000 to families of
journalists who have been killed, and the South Korean firm Samsung has
already donated some money for 50 such families, ITAR-TASS reported on
10 December. -- Laura Belin

RUSSIA, CHINA SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Russian Deputy Prime Minister
Aleksei Bolshakov and Chinese Central Military Council Deputy Chairman
Liu Huaqing signed a military-technical cooperation agreement in Beijing
on 11 December, Russian and Western agencies reported. While details of
the accord were not released, Bolshakov said Russia is "determined to
expand" military cooperation with China, according to AFP. The agency
also reported that an accord allowing China to produce SU-27 fighters
under license was finalized during Bolshakov's visit, and cited Valery
Mikhailov, head of the Russian government's military industry
department, as saying that future arms contracts with China will be
worth "billions of dollars." Russian officials often cite increased
military cooperation with China as a possible response to NATO
enlargement. Bolshakov's delegation also discussed possible Russian
participation in the Three Gorges hydroelectric project, and proposed
oil and gas pipelines to run from Irkutsk through Mongolia and northern
China. -- Scott Parrish

EU CONCERNED ABOUT NEW TAXES ON RUSSIA'S BORDERS. The European
Commission is extremely concerned about Russia's plans to impose taxes
on individuals and vehicles entering or leaving its territory,
commission spokesman Nico Wegter told Reuters on 11 December. The new
law envisions fees aimed at helping to finance the border troops and
also gives the service 25% of the value of any seized contraband (see
OMRI Daily Digest on 10 December 1996). Citizens of CIS countries will
be exempt from the fees when travelling to and from Russia. The law
officially went into effect on 10 December, when it was published in the
official Rossiiskaya gazeta. However, the government has yet to
establish the procedure for collecting the fees. Wegter said the new
measure violates the spirit of the EU's interim agreement with Russia.
-- Nikolai Iakoubovski

RUSSIA REGAINS MODERN SPY SATELLITE CAPABILITY. A Cyclone-2 booster
launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome sent a Russian Kosmos-2335 photo
intelligence satellite into orbit on 11 December, AFP and ITAR-TASS
reported. The satellite will restore Russia's ability to acquire high-
quality photo intelligence, which it has lacked since late September,
when a similar satellite fell from orbit, while earlier attempts to
replace it had failed. "Now we will be more comfortable," said a duty
officer at the cosmodrome, explaining that Russia also has a number of
older spy satellites, but they cannot produce high-quality photos or
transmit them to the ground as quickly as the Kosmos-2335. -- Scott
Parrish

MINERS SUSPEND STRIKE. The presidium of the miners' union Rosugleprof
decided on 11 December to suspend the national strike begun on 3
December, ITAR-TASS reported. A union spokesman quoted by the agency
said that the government had met many of the miners' economic demands.
He noted in particular the government's pledge to pay all the 1996 state
subsidies to the industry by 27 December. Before leaving the Kuzbass,
where he headed a government delegation looking into the crisis in the
coal industry, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin said he
would hold talks with World Bank representatives on the disbursal of the
second 1.3 trillion ruble tranche of a $500 million loan to support the
restructuring of the industry. The loan was counted in the 10 trillion
rubles earmarked for the industry this year. -- Penny Morvant

CORRUPTION LEAVES SERVICEMEN WITHOUT HOUSING. More than 110,000 army
families are without apartments and many others require better housing,
Main Military Procurator Valentin Panichev said on 11 December. He added
that in the Interior Ministry's Internal Troops, one in four families--
and in the North Caucasus, one in two families--are without
accommodation, ITAR-TASS reported. Another 132,500 families of ex-
servicemen are without apartments, up from 27,800 five years ago. The
situation will deteriorate further in 1997, when a reduction in the
number of officers and NCOs is due to begin. Panichev said that money
allocated for housing construction is often misused, noting that
apartments for officers sometimes cost an unreasonable amount. He said
his office is investigating several instances in which large sums were
handed over to dubious construction companies. A number of senior
officers have been implicated in housing scandals, but the cases have
made little headway. -- Penny Morvant

BUDGET PROSPECTS DISCUSSED. The Duma will reconvene on 15 December to
discuss the draft 1997 budget, having postponed a vote on it on 6
December. If the budget is not signed into law by the beginning of the
new year, spending will be limited to the average monthly outlays in
1996, according to Rossiiskaya gazeta on 11 December. Aleksei Golovkov,
the deputy head of the Duma Budget Committee, said this would mean a
sharp fall in spending in comparison with the 1997 draft. Industrial
subsidies would be down 39%, social spending down 38%, and regional
subsidies down 59%. Sergei Belyaev, head of the pro-government faction
Our Home Is Russia, admitted that "Our faction is not very enthusiastic
about the budget draft ... we believe that it should have been
formulated on the basis of different principles," Rossiiskie vesti
reported on 10 December. However, given that the government is unwilling
to submit an inflationary budget, deputies may see little alternative to
accepting the current draft. On 11 December, the controversial draft law
on money laundering failed to pass the Duma (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10
December 1996). -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TURKEY ABANDONS PLANS TO OPEN BORDER WITH ARMENIA. The Turkish Foreign
Ministry on 11 December announced that Turkey will not open its border
with Armenia unless the latter "takes steps" toward respecting
Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh and provides for a
withdrawal of Armenian forces from the "occupied Azerbaijani
territories," international agencies reported. The ministry statement
contradictsa an earlier announcement by Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller
that the border will be opened soon (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 October
1996). The ministry might be reacting to Armenia's refusal to sign a
document that mentioned Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan at the
OSCE's recent summit in Lisbon. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in
early 1992 after accusing it of "military aggression" against
Azerbaijan. -- Emil Danielyan

INDEPENDENT BROADCASTERS IN KAZAKSTAN COMPLAIN ABOUT RESTRICTIONS.
Representatives of more than 80 independent television and radio
stations in Kazakstan sent a letter of protest to President Nursultan
Nazarbayev complaining of "abuses" against non-governmental stations,
ITAR-TASS reported on 11 December. The letter specifically pointed to
the shut down of the radio and broadcasting company "M" and the radio
station Totem, both still off the air, as well as other stations banned
for several days at the beginning of November. The pro-government Kazak
TV on 9 December, in a broadcast monitored by the BBC, attributed the
independent stations' displeasure to their unwillingness to broadcast in
the state language, Kazak. -- Bruce Pannier

GRIM SITUATION FOR KYRGYZ ORPHANS. Children in Kyrgyz orphanages are
mostly handicapped, live in buildings with little or no electricity and
where hygienic conditions are appalling, and they receive minimum
attention from staff, according to Reuters on 12 December. They are not
given toys because, as one worker said, "they would just break them."
Tatyana Rupyova, a nurse at one of the orphanages who is paid $15 a
month, explained "we don't have medicine, clothes, or vitamins to give
them." The Kyrgyz economy is in crisis and many families with
handicapped children cannot afford to take care of them, and often give
them up to one of the country's four orphanages. Orphanage Director
Maksim Yelizanov said when they die at the orphanages "the parents don't
even come to bury their children." A Norwegian worker with the Save the
Children agency in Kyrgyzstan said the situation is "worse than in
Romania." -- Bruce Pannier

NEW AGREEMENT ON TAJIK CEASEFIRE. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and
United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri agreed to a ceasefire
on 11 December during their meeting in northern Afghanistan, according
to Russian and Western press. The ceasefire was due to come into effect
at midnight the same day and the two leaders will formally sign it at a
19 December meeting in Moscow. However, government forces were
reportedly launching an assault on Garm on 11 December in an attempt to
free a special forces unit trapped in the town. NTV reported that the
opposition had suffered heavy losses in the battle. In the Tajik capital
Dushanbe, two bombs went off on 12 December killing one person and
injuring another. One of the bombs exploded outside the Tajik
Parliament, the other near the Pakistani Embassy. -- Bruce Pannier

CORRECTION: The item in the OMRI Daily Digest of 11 December 1996 (No.
238), titled "19 Former OPON Members Arrested in Azerbaijan," should
have said that Yagub Mamedov is the former Azerbaijani parliament
speaker.

[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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