Miracles are natural. When they do not occur, something has gone wrong. - A Course in Miracles
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 12, Part I, 17 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

DUMA CANCELS IMPEACHMENT ATTEMPT. The Duma Council on 16 January did not
consider placing an attempt to impeach President Boris Yeltsin on its
agenda, NTV reported. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, however,
suggested the possibility of passing a law defining who would exercise
the president's powers when he is sick or creating a special medical
commission to examine the president, according to AFP. Meanwhile,
Yeltsin's doctors said that his condition has "stabilized significantly"
and that he did paperwork for two hours, focusing on his annual address
to the Federal Assembly. -- Robert Orttung

LAW REQUIRED FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. A law defining the details
of the amendment procedure must be adopted before the constitution can
be amended, the chairman of the Federation Council Committee on
Constitutional Legislation and Legal Issues, Vladimir Platonov, said on
16 January, ITAR-TASS reported. On 29 November, Yeltsin vetoed a bill
that would have made amending the constitution easier (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 2 December 1996). Platonov noted that one of the most pressing
issues for change is the status of Russia's component parts. Following
the elections in Tyumen Oblast, boycotted by the Yamal-Nenets and
Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrugs even though they are subordinate to the
oblast, there is increasing pressure to give equal status to all 89
members of the federation. The current constitution has contradictory
passages on this issue. The Communists have also been pushing to
transfer some of the president's power to the parliament. -- Robert
Orttung

LEBED SEEKS ALLIANCE WITH LUZHKOV. Stressing that he was going for the
gold medal in the next presidential elections, former Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed said in Germany that his allies in the next
campaign might be "in some circumstances" Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov,
eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov, chess champion Garri Kasparov, and
possibly the whole bloc of democratic parties, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported on 16 January. He also predicted that the communist party would
split into three factions, with one group working with other left-
radical parties, one joining Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party, and the
largest group backing him. In his numerous interviews in Germany, Lebed
emphasized the need for a strong state that would regulate the price of
essential consumer goods and take temporary control of some sectors of
foreign trade to boost state revenues, Reuters reported. -- Robert
Orttung

LEBED IS RUSSIA'S MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN. Aleksandr Lebed is Russia's
most popular politician, according to a poll conducted by the Russian
Independent Institute for Social and National Issues at the end of
December. More than 58% of the 2,200 people interviewed across Russia
expressed confidence in Lebed, while only 23% trusted Yeltsin,
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 16 January. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
had the trust of 43% of respondents; Gennadii Zyuganov was in fifth
place with 30%, behind Grigorii Yavlinskii (35%) and Nizhnii Novgorod
leader Boris Nemtsov (35%). The peace deal brokered by Lebed in Chechnya
was named the most positive development of 1996 by 80% of the
interviewees. Most were pessimistic about Russia's prospects for 1997.
More than 73% thought it would be a hard or extremely difficult year. A
majority believed crime, corruption, and unemployment would continue to
grow, industrial output would fall, and the army grow weaker. -- Penny
Morvant

OSCE WILL SEND OBSERVERS TO CHECHNYA. The OSCE, meeting in Vienna on 16
January, decided to send 60-70 observers to monitor Chechnya's
elections, and has raised $500,000 in funding, AFP reported. Tim
Guldimann, OSCE representative in Chechnya, has stated that the OSCE
involvement has been cleared with the Russian authorities, but no formal
approval has yet been voiced by any Russian official, ORT and NTV
reported on 16 January. Refugees in neighboring regions will be taken in
buses to the Chechen border on election day, with costs covered by the
OSCE, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 16 January. The same day Vladimir
Kartashkin, the head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights
Commission, said he doubted the election will be democratic because of
continuing violence, and because of the refugees' inability to vote in
their place of residence, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Peter Rutland

TRAIN ATTACK IN CHECHNYA. In the wake of a recent attack it has been
decided to halt all trains from Dagestan through Chechnya for the
duration of the election campaign, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 January. A
group of armed men attacked the Makhachkala-Moscow train on 14 January,
killing one of the four Dagestani police guards. The Russian transport
ministry will build 80 km of new track to allow trains from Dagestan to
bypass Chechnya. Trains from Moscow to Grozny will continue to run. --
Peter Rutland

RODIONOV DENIES DIFFERENCES WITH DEFENSE COUNCIL . . . Speaking at a
joint news conference with Chief of the General Staff Army Gen. Viktor
Samsonov, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov denied reports of differences
between his ministry and the Defense Council Staff over military reform,
Russian media reported on 16 January (See OMRI Daily Digest, 7 January
1997). Rodionov complained that the government still owes the Defense
Ministry 1 trillion rubles ($178 million) in wage arrears for 1996. He
also insisted that military reform could not be reduced to simply
slashing uniformed Defense Ministry personnel, but argued that building
a smaller but more effective military would require increased funding
for restructuring and new advanced equipment. He said disbanding a
motorized rifle regiment costs 3.5 times its annual operating costs, and
estimated that cutting the armed forces by 200,000 to 1.5 million would
cost about 10 trillion rubles. -- Scott Parrish

. . . SAYS RUSSIA PLANS NO COUNTER-NATO BLOC. Rodionov also declared
that although Russia remains "categorically opposed" to NATO
enlargement, Moscow does not plan to set up a new military bloc if the
alliance expands despite Russian objections. Asked about the possibility
of a military alliance with Belarus, Rodionov said he "is against any
military alliances for the time being," but added that "this is up to
the supreme political leadership to decide." Without elaborating,
Rodionov said his ministry was preparing a set of proposed
countermeasures to NATO expansion, in accordance with President
Yeltsin's 6 January directive. He also said that although Russia
currently has no enemies, it faces "potential threats" from the "West,
South and East." -- Scott Parrish

CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Opening a session of the CIS Council of
Foreign Ministers in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
said the development of ties with CIS partners remains a "priority" for
Russian foreign policy, ITAR-TASS reported. Primakov admitted that the
coordination of foreign policies among CIS members was a difficult
process, but insisted that the council of foreign ministers had helped
CIS members better understand each other's interests. Primakov also met
with his Ukrainian counterpart Henadii Udovenko to discuss the strained
relations between Moscow and Kyiv. Primakov insisted that an alleged
Russian document discussing plans to discredit Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma, recently published by a Kyiv newspaper, is a "crude
falsification" which "has nothing in common with Russian policy."
Udovenko said he hoped the incident would not poison bilateral ties. --
Scott Parrish

RUSSIA DEFENDS BELARUS, PANS COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Vladimir Andreev condemned the recent decision by the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to suspend Belarus's
special guest status as "hasty and inadequate," Russian and Western
agencies reported on 16 January (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 January
1997). According to ITAR-TASS, Russia, Ukraine, and Finland voted
against the 13 January resolution to suspend Belarus. Andreev said that
rather than ostracizing the new Belarusian parliament, the council
should instead make a "balanced analysis" of Belarusian developments and
use "constructive dialogue and real assistance" to foster democracy
there. The Yeltsin administration continues to support Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka despite harsh criticism of his
authoritarian policies by Russian liberals and the international
community. -- Scott Parrish

GOVERNMENT REVIEWS TEACHERS' CLAIMS. First Deputy Finance Minister
Andrei Petrov pledged on 16 January to pay teachers the money they are
owed from the 1996 budget by the end of the month, RTR reported.
Education workers in many regions of Russia have been on strike all week
to protest wage arrears. However, the elimination of the federal budget
debt will not resolve the payments crisis as most of the money is owed
by local authorities. At a cabinet session devoted to the teachers'
dispute, Education Minister Vladimir Kinelev said teachers and students
are now owed about 7 trillion rubles from local budgets. The state's
indebtedness is largely due to the fact that the 1996 budget did not
include funds to raise teachers' pay scales in line with legislation
passed in August 1995. First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Ilyushin put
the shortfall at about 1.2 trillion rubles a month. -- Penny Morvant

DUBIOUS DEALINGS WITH GAZPROM SHARES. A Western investment company was
able to buy 0.83% of Gazprom shares for $16 million at a time when
foreigners were barred from acquiring Gazprom stock, The Wall Street
Journal Europe reported on 16 January. The shares are now worth $300
million, as since October 1996 foreigners have been allowed to buy a
portion of Gazprom shares. A Prague-based company, Europa Capital
Management, bought 3.3% of Gazprom's shares from Russian owners in 1994
through a Russian intermediary. They then struck a deal with Gazprom
directors, giving back 600 million shares in return for being allowed to
keep 200 million, which they can sell to other foreign buyers. The
transactions are clouded in secrecy: Gazprom's list of shareholders is
not open for public scrutiny. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TRIAL OF POLICE ENDS IN BAKU. The trial of some 30 former members of
Azerbaijan's OPON special police force, accused of taking part in a coup
attempt in March 1995, ended on 16 January, Radio Rossii reported. The
accused were given jail sentences of up to 13 years. The trial began in
October 1996: 60 other ex-OPON members were sentenced in earlier trials
in March and April 1996, and some 300 have been jailed. The OPON force
was disbanded after the coup attempt, which was allegedly led by Deputy
Interior Minister Rovshan Djavadov. -- Peter Rutland

LUKOIL GAINS SHARE IN KAZAKSTANI OIL FIELD. Chevron announced on 16
January that it will bring Russian company Lukoil into the Tengiz
oilfield project by selling 5% of its shares to Lukoil, ITAR-TASS
reported. The two U.S. companies Chevron and Mobil will then hold 45%
and 25% of the project's shares respectively, and the Kazakstani company
Tengizmunaigaz the remaining 25%. In December Russia persuaded the
Caspian Sea Consortium, which will build a pipeline to export the Tengiz
oil, to increase Russia's share in that project to 44% while reducing
Kazakstan's stake to 21% and Chevron's to 15% (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9
December 1996). -- Peter Rutland

TROUBLE AGAIN IN TURSUN ZADE . . . Russian media reports that the
situation in the western Tajik city of Tursun Zade is once again tense.
Following the violence last week when Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev and his
unit, the First Brigade, forced a criminal group from the city,
President Imomali Rakhmonov ordered the presidential guard to take up
positions in the city and guard the aluminum plant located there.
However, on 16 January, residents of Tursun Zade, mainly women, gathered
on a bridge 15 kilometers east of the city and are refusing to allow the
presidential guard to pass. The guard commander, Gen.-Maj. Gafur
Mirzoyev, said he will comply with his orders to take control of the
aluminum plant. Khudaberdiyev says he will not sit idly and allow the
guard to enter the city. RFE/RL reports the city is currently under the
control of warlord Sadullo Mirzoev, installed there by Khudaberdiyev. --
Bruce Pannier

. . . AND DEMONSTRATION IN KHOJENT. Demonstrators gathered in 15
different places in the northern Tajik city of Khojent on 16 January,
demanding the participation of National Revival Movement leader
Abdumalik Abdullajonov in the peace talks now underway in Tehran, RFE/RL
reported. Abdullajonov told RFE/RL that the government and United Tajik
Opposition can not ignore him or his movement in the formation of a
national reconciliation council. He said that excluding certain regions
or leaders from the talks would lead to a deterioration of the already
catastrophic situation in Tajikistan. Abdullajonov, a former prime
minister and ambassador to Russia, in 1996 formed the National Revival
Movement with two other ex-prime ministers, Jamshed Karimov and
Abdujalil Samadov. -- Bruce Pannier

KARIMOV ON TAJIK GOVERNMENT, RUSSIAN MEDIA. Just prior to undertaking
his first state visit to Prague and Bratislava, Uzbek President Islam
Karimov accused the Tajik government of being unable "to cope with
leadership" and the Russian media of pitting Uzbeks and Tajiks against
each other, Uzbek Television reported on 14 January. Karimov described
the recent events in Tursun Zade as a game between "thieves and
convicts," some of whom hold "high positions in the Interior Ministry,"
for control over the city's aluminum plant. He added that some Russian
media are "taking advantage" of the situation to stir up trouble between
Uzbeks and Tajiks. He termed this futile and called on the Tajik
government "to come to its senses and establish peace on our border and
agree with the opposition forces quickly." -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING
1) Compose a message to listserv@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
2) To subscribe, write:
     SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name)
   To unsubscribe, write:
     UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L
3) Send the message

                                    BACK ISSUES
Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World
Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail.
WWW
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/DD/Index.html

FTP
ftp://FTP.OMRI.CZ/Pub/DailyDigest/


                                  REPRINT POLICY
To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ
or see the Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Reprint.html

                              OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS

TRANSITION
OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded
analysis of many of the topics in the OMRI Daily Digest. For
subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit
the Transition Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Transition/Index.html


OMRI ECONOMIC DIGEST
The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic
news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription
available; for more information, write to ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the
OMRI Economic Digest Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/ED/Index.html


RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT
The Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication (published every
Wednesday) initially focusing on the local elections taking place
throughout Russia during the Fall of 1996. After the election season is
over, the Russian Regional Report will continue, turning to broader
social, political, and economic issues of Russia's regions. To
Novemberveument. Back issues of subscribe, please follow these
instructions:
1) Compose a message to:
     MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
     SUBSCRIBE REGIONS Your Name
   Fill in your own first and last names where shown
3) Send the message


PURSUING BALKAN PEACE
Pursuing Balkan Peace contains the latest news about developments in the
Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other countries of Southeastern
Europe. Published every Tuesday, it contains both brief news summaries
and longer essays on specific events or issues facing the people of the
region.  To subscribe, please follow these instructions:
1) Compose a message to:
     MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
     SUBSCRIBE BALKAN-PEACE Your Name
   Fill in your own first and last names where shown
3) Send the message


RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE TRANSLATION OF THE OMRI DAILY DIGEST
The full text of the OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and
distributed the following day.
1) Compose a message to:
     MAJORDOMO@ISF.RU
2) In the body of the message, write:
     SUBSCRIBE OMRI Your Name
   Fill in your own name where shown
3) Send the message
 
         

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole