True heroism consists not in fighting under a flag but in not fighting at all. - Freidrich Nietzsche
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 6, Part I, 9 January 1997

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 HOSPITALIZED AGAIN. President Boris Yeltsin was taken to the
Central Clinical Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia in the evening of 8
January, Russian media reported. Yeltsin's surgeon Renat Akchurin said
the current illness has no connection to the president's 5 November
heart surgery. The Kremlin continued to downplay Yeltsin's condition by
quoting American doctor Michael DeBakey to the effect that Yeltsin will
be better in a week. Yeltsin returned to the Kremlin for the first time
following his surgery on 23 December. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
decided to begin a one-week vacation despite the president's illness.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits was also
hospitalized right after the 8 January government session with flu
symptoms. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

REACTION TO YELTSIN ILLNESS. While presidential aides tried to minimize
the seriousness of Yeltsin's illness, former Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed saw the latest events as more proof that the president
should step down for the good of the country. Lebed told Ekho Moskvy on
8 January, "Our country is headed by a very sick and elderly man. He
needs to retire, since he can neither govern due to the state of his
health nor lead a normal life." Lebed and Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, who would be among the leading contenders should an
early presidential election become necessary, have frequently expressed
doubt that Yeltsin is well enough to run Russia and have called for him
to resign (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 December 1996). -- Laura Belin

BOMB BLAST IN KABARDINO-BALKARIYA PARLIAMENT BUILDING. A bomb exploded
in the basement of the Kabardino-Balkariya Republic parliament building,
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 8 January. No one was injured though
the blast caused considerable damage, blowing out the windows of the
parliament building and of some other buildings in the vicinity.
Republican officials claim the blast was aimed at a nearby commercial
bank and had no political motive. On 12 January, the republic will hold
its presidential election. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

PREPARATIONS ADVANCE FOR CHECHEN ELECTIONS. OSCE mission chief Tim
Guldimann said that the U.S. and EU have raised some $350,000 to finance
the 27 January Chechen elections, NTV reported on 8 January, while
Russian TV (RTR) noted that they have turned down offers of
organizational and financial help from the Russian Central Electoral
Commission. Momadi Saidaev, the head of the Chechen Electoral
Commission, said they expect 70 OSCE observers. Guldimann said "there is
a good chance that these elections will be free, fair, and democratic,"
despite the limited opportunities for refugees to vote, Ekho Moskvy
reported. Ruslan Kutaev, Chechen minister for CIS affairs, said that it
is now likely that Chechens living outside the republic will have to
travel back to vote, and voting facilities will not be arranged in
Dagestan and Ingushetiya. -- Peter Rutland

NEW CHECHEN PROCURATOR. The Chechen administration has appointed
Khavazha Sergbiev Procurator General of the republic without consulting
Moscow, NTV noted on 8 January. Russian Procurator General Yurii
Skuratov commented that while they want to cooperate with the Chechen
authorities, the appointment violates Russian law since procurators must
be nominated by Moscow. On 7 January RIA Novosti quoted Sergbiev as
saying that the 1995 raid on Budennovsk, led by presidential candidate
Shamil Basaev, was not a terrorist act but was intended to bring about
peace. -- Peter Rutland

PRIMAKOV REVIEWS FOREIGN POLICY IN 1996 . . . In an interview with ITAR-
TASS on 8 January marking his first year as foreign minister, Yevgenii
Primakov emphasized that domestic factors drive current Russian foreign
policy, saying its principal goal remains the creation of international
conditions which facilitate internal democratization and economic
reform. Moscow aims for "equal partnership" with its partners around the
globe, he added, emphasizing that he wanted to steer a middle course
between the extremes of Soviet-style anti-Westernism and what he termed
the romantic pro-Western approach of his predecessor, Andrei Kozyrev.
Using a favorite theme, he said the emerging multipolar world order gave
Russian diplomacy room for maneuver, and he lauded Russian successes
during 1996 in building ties with China and pushing forward with CIS
integration. But he also admitted that Russia's economic and military
problems often undermine its international position. -- Scott Parrish

. . . AND LINKS CFE REVISION TO RUSSIA-NATO CHARTER. Primakov cited the
December 1996 NATO statement that the alliance has no intention of
deploying nuclear weapons in new East European members as evidence that
firm Russian opposition to NATO expansion was delivering results. He
described the pledge as "insufficient," however, adding that Russia
would use NATO's approach to planned talks on revising the 1990
Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to evaluate whether the
alliance was serious about negotiating a substantive Russia-NATO
charter. Hinting that Moscow wants the revised CFE treaty to strictly
limit NATO deployments, Primakov said it could serve as the basis for
"mutual security," and address Russian concerns about the eastward
expansion of NATO military infrastructure. He also insisted that any
charter provide for joint decision-making on important issues,
presumably including NATO enlargement. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SLAM WESTERN OBJECTIONS TO CYPRUS MISSILE DEAL. A wide
range of Russian officials and parliamentarians condemned Western
criticism of the recently announced Russian sale of air defense missiles
to Greek-controlled Cyprus on 8 January, Russian and Western media
reported. Expressing the most common viewpoint, Duma Defense Committee
Chairman Lev Rokhlin said the criticism stems from Western efforts to
"oust Russia from the world arms market." Denying that the sale would
jeopardize peace on Cyprus, foreign policy analyst and presidential
council member Sergei Karaganov said the Western reaction to the sale
reflected the "dishonest" competitive tactics used by Western
governments in the struggle for weapons contracts. Gennadii Khormov, a
Ministry of Defense Industry official, told ITAR-TASS the vocal American
objections aimed to deflect attention from Washington's intention to
violate the 1972 ABM treaty. -- Scott Parrish

MOSCOW RADIO STATIONS SILENCED IN CHUVASHIYA. The radio and television
center of the Republic of Chuvashiya cut off local transmissions of the
national radio stations Radio Mayak and Radio-1, RTR reported on 8
January. The center lacks money to pay energy and communications
workers; in particular, it is owed millions of rubles in debts accrued
by the two radio stations last February and March. The radio stations
were restructured in June of last year and have announced that they will
not be responsible for debts accumulated before then. Similar protests
by communications workers have recently silenced transmissions of
Moscow-based radio and television networks in Murmansk Oblast and
Krasnoyarsk Krai. -- Laura Belin

ST. PETERSBURG READIES FOR OLYMPIC BID. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin on 8 January held a meeting of the organizing committee to
prepare St. Petersburg's bid to host the 2004 summer Olympics. Eleven
cities are participating in the first round of bidding on 7 March which
will reduce the list to five, with the final selection to be announced
in September. The cost for the city to hold the games is estimated at
$2.2 billion, with proceeds in the $2-3 billion range, RIA Novosti
reported. St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev said that the
federal government promised to provide full organizational and financial
support. The 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg were marred by an
algae-infested swimming pool and low attendance. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN SIGNS CRIMINAL-CORRECTIONAL CODE. President Yeltsin signed on 8
January the new Criminal-Correctional Code, ITAR-TASS reported. The
code, which consists of 190 articles governing the conditions in which
convicts serve their sentences, was passed by the Duma on 18 December
1996 and approved by the Federation Council on 25 December (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 3 January 1997). It will go into effect on 1 July, six
months after the new Criminal Code entered into force. According to Lev
Glaukhman, head of the criminal law department at the Interior
Ministry's Moscow Institute, about 150,000 criminal cases will have to
be reviewed in light of the new Criminal Code, ITAR-TASS reported. Those
imprisoned on charges that no longer carry criminal responsibility will
be released. -- Penny Morvant

CITY BAILS OUT MOSKVICH PLANT. The Moscow Court of Arbitration has
rejected an appeal by the Federal Bankruptcy Commission to declare
bankrupt the AZLK "Moskvich" auto plant in Moscow, Ekho Moskvy reported
on 8 January. The 7,500 workers at the AZLK Moskvich plant have been
idle for an entire year: production is now restarting with financial
support promised by the Moscow City government. They plan to introduce a
new model, the "Arbat," in the fall and are also negotiating to assemble
Renault cars. AZLK owes roughly 1 trillion rubles in taxes. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE CHARGES GEORGIAN DIPLOMAT. The U.S. State
Department has formally requested Georgia to waive immunity for diplomat
Georgi Makharadze, who was involved in a car accident in which an
American girl died (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 January 1997), ITAR-TASS
and AFP reported on 9 January. The move follows a letter to the State
Department from the U.S. attorney's office that says there is "enough
evidence" of Makharadze's guilt to press charges against him. The last
time diplomatic immunity was waived in such a serious case was that of a
Belgian diplomat in 1989. -- Emil Danielyan

ALIEV ON GEORGIA. Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Ukleba held
talks in Baku with Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev on 8 January,
RFE/RL reported the same day. Aliev, who termed Georgia a strategic
ally, declared Baku's full support for Tbilisi's position on Abkhazia,
noting that Azerbaijan opposes separatism, aggression, ethnic cleansing,
and instability. It appears Georgia is seeking Azerbaijani backing to
push for a toughened stance on Abkhazia among CIS states in advance of
the 17 January CIS summit in Moscow. -- Lowell Bezanis

DASHNAK LEADERS MEET WITH ARMENIAN JUSTICE MINISTER. During a meeting
with leaders of the banned Dashnak party (HHD), Armenian Justice
Minister Marat Aleksanyan said that documents submitted by the HHD are
"not sufficient" for the party to be legalized, Noyan Tapan reported on
8 January. Ruben Hakobyan, a HHD leader, complained that the authorities
have not specified the steps that his party should take in order to
resume its activities. The meeting comes amid speculation that the party
might soon be legalized following a 10 December court verdict that found
no connection between the HHD and the alleged terrorist group Dro. The
HHD's activities in Armenia were suspended in January 1995 by the
Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated Armenian law on political
parties by having foreign members. In a bid to overcome the legal
deadlock, the HHD in November 1995 made significant changes in its
structure, granting its Armenia organization a substantial degree of
autonomy. -- Emil Danielyan

FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN TURSUN ZADE. Despite a presidential order to
withdraw his forces from the Tursun Zade area, elements of Col. Mahmud
Khudaberdiyev's First Brigade attacked outlaw forces in the city on 8
January, international media reported. Khudaberdiyev had moved his force
close to the city claiming that Tursun Zade's criminal band, loyal to
former Popular Front commander Kadyr Abdullayev, raided the First
Brigade's headquarters on 29 December to steal weapons, in the process
killing one officer. Khudaberdiyev said the attack was sparked by the
government's refusal to do anything about the situation. He is demanding
Abdullayev return the weapons and vacate the city. Efforts by the Tajik
government, Russian forces in Tajikistan, and the UN observer mission to
mediate the isolated conflict have not met with any success. Both
government and opposition representatives say the fighting in Tursun
Zade will not have an impact on peace talks being held in Tehran. --
Bruce Pannier

TURGUNALIYEV FOUND GUILTY. A Bishkek municipal court on 8 January found
Topchubek Turgunaliyev, the chairman of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan Party,
guilty of embezzlement and sentenced him to 10 years in prison and
confiscation of all his property, RFE/RL reported. Co-defendant Timur
Stamkulov received a six-year sentence but his property will not be
confiscated. The charges stem from a 1994 incident when Turgunaliyev was
the rector of Bishkek's Humanitarian University and approved a request
by Stamkulov, then the deputy director of the university, to withdraw
$10,000 from university funds. Stamkulov claims he was robbed and lost
all the money, but he still returned $2,300 and later attempted to
return an additional $3,000, which the university refused to accept.
Lawyers for Turgunaliyev and Stamkulov have claimed from the beginning
of the trial that it was politically motivated. -- Bruce Pannier and
Naryn Idinov

UZBEK GAS-CHEMICALS COMPLEX. A foreign consortium will help develop a
chemical complex, with an estimated value of $1 billion, in Uzbekistan's
Kashgadarya province, according to a 6 January report in Rossiiskaya
Gazeta monitored by the BBC. The paper, citing sources in Uzbekneftgaz,
noted the complex will be built by a consortium comprising three
subsidiaries of the Swiss-Swedish ABB group, Japan's Mitsui, and Nissho
Iwai. The complex at the Shurtan gas-condensate field is to produce
125,000 metric tons of polyethelene, 137,000 metric tons of liquefied
gas, and 37,000 metric tons of unstable condensate. It is estimated $600
million will be spent on the technological side of the project and $400
million on construction to be carried out by Uzbek contractors. --
Lowell Bezanis

[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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