We are always the same age inside. - Gertrude Stein
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 21, Part I, 30 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

ELECTION OFFICIAL CONFIRMS MASKHADOV VICTORY. Although results have not
yet been received from three of Chechnya's 63 electoral districts,
Chechen Electoral Commission spokesman Mumadi Saidaev told ITAR-TASS
late on 29 January that there was no doubt former Chief of Staff Aslan
Maskhadov would emerge victorious in the 27 January presidential
election. Earlier, Saidaev had said that with votes counted in 56
districts, Maskhadov had 64.8%, with former field commander Shamil
Basaev second on 27.7%, followed by acting President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev with 10.2%. Final results will be announced no earlier than 2
February, and officials said Maskhadov could be sworn in by 10 February.
In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 29 January, Maskhadov insisted that
even though the August 1996 Khasavyurt agreement calls for postponing
talks on Chechnya's status until 2001, he would like to begin talks on
the issue "as soon as possible." -- Scott Parrish

RADUEV THREATENS TERROR CAMPAIGN AGAINST RUSSIA. Illustrating the
obstacles Maskhadov will face in restoring order in Chechnya, renegade
field commander Salman Raduev told Reuters on 29 January that he does
not recognize the results of the 27 January election. Raduev, who has a
history of undertaking unauthorized operations, insisted that Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev, killed in a missile attack last April,
remains alive. He said only Dudaev could order him to cease fighting
against Russia, and threatened that if Russia does not recognize Chechen
independence, he would "burn to cinders" at least three Russian cities.
Meanwhile, Maskhadov's former rivals for the presidency, Basaev and
Yandarbiev, reiterated that they would not join the new president's
administration. Basaev said he plans to return to his pre-war career as
a computer salesman, while Yandarbiev, a well-known writer, announced
that he would resume his literary activity. -- Scott Parrish

LEBED LEADS PRESIDENTIAL POLLS. Former Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed would defeat any opponent in the second round of
presidential elections if they were held now, according to a mid-January
Public Opinion Foundation poll, AFP reported on 29 January. He would
beat Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov 42%-31%, Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov 46%-30%, and Prime Minster Viktor Chernomyrdin 44%-19%.
Meanwhile, Lebed's Press Secretary Aleksandr Barkhatov claimed that
"high-level bureaucrats" are engaged in "provocative activities designed
to discredit" the retired general, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 30
January. The authorities' investigation into a 17 October 1996 incident
in which Lebed's guards arrested a team from the Ministry of Internal
Affairs that was trailing him provoked Barkhatov's statement. -- Robert
Orttung

PRESIDENT WITHDRAWS SUIT AGAINST UNOPPOSED ELECTION IN KALMYKIYA.
Presidential Representative to the Constitutional Court Sergei Shakhrai
withdrew a presidential appeal to the court questioning whether the
unopposed election of Kalmykiya President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on 15
October 1995 was valid, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 30 January.
Although Ilyumzhinov was elected on the basis of a republican electoral
law that contains numerous violations of the Russian constitution,
Shakhrai withdrew the case on the grounds that the republican
legislature has since amended the law. The new law, however, will only
be used in future elections. The presidents of Kabardino-Balkariya and
Tatarstan were also elected unopposed, and their victories are now even
less likely to be challenged. Since assuming his current position on 7
December, Shakhrai has worked to increase the power of the regions vis-
a-vis the center (See OMRI Daily Digest, 12 December 1996). -- Robert
Orttung

EX-PRESIDENT OF MARII-EL CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTING ELECTION. The Russian
Procurator-General's Office has opened a criminal case against Vladislav
Zotin, the former president of the Marii-El Republic, for obstructing
the rights of voters, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 January. Two days before
the Marii-El presidential election set for 22 December, Zotin issued a
decree canceling the balloting. The decree was condemned by the Central
Electoral Commission and overruled by the Marii-El Supreme Court, but
Zotin's supporters did not broadcast the court ruling on local media.
Nevertheless, the election was held on schedule, and in a high turnout
of about 67%, Zotin gained only 9% of the vote, failing to advance to
the second round. Communist-backed candidate Vyacheslav Kislitsyn
eventually won the election. -- Laura Belin

DUMA "ANTINATO" ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR TACTICAL MISSILE DEPLOYMENTS.
Sergei Glotov, head of the recently formed "AntiNATO" association of
Duma deputies, told ITAR-TASS on 29 January that Russia should "put into
production" a new generation of tactical ballistic missiles "to restrain
the unprovoked extension" of NATO. Glotov, a former Strategic Rocket
Forces officer and member of the radical National Salvation Front,
serves on the Duma's international affairs committee and belongs to the
Popular Power faction. He announced the formation of the "AntiNATO"
association on 22 January, which he says unites 120 deputies of various
factions. The association's declared goal is to discuss ways of
hampering NATO enlargement, and urge the government to take firm action
on the issue. Izvestiya on 29 January criticized the group as a lobby
for the defense industry, warning its actions could "backfire" against
Russia. -- Scott Parrish

SKURATOV, CHERNOMYRDIN, IN SWITZERLAND. Winding up a visit to
Switzerland, Russian Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov said on 29
January that Moscow and Bern had agreed to closely coordinate their
efforts against organized crime and money laundering, ITAR-TASS
reported. Skuratov said that Switzerland is concerned about the influx
of criminal money and is expected soon to inform the Russian security
services of suspiciously large deposits in Swiss banks. The Tribune de
Geneve cited Swiss justice and police officials as estimating last year
that Russian deposits in 125 Swiss banks totaled about $3.2 billion.
Also on 29 January Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin arrived in
Switzerland to take part in the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
Russian Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Fedorov will also
address the gathering. -- Penny Morvant

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONDEMNS RUSSIA OVER DEATH PENALTY. The Council of
Europe's Parliamentary Assembly threatened on 29 January to lock out
delegates from Russia unless it quickly imposed a moratorium on capital
punishment, Reuters reported. A resolution called on Russia to honor the
obligations it undertook to end executions when it acceded to the
Council on 28 February 1996. According to ORT, Russian delegates argued
that a moratorium has been in place since last August. Russian
government figures released in September put the number of executions in
1996 at 53. But Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, in a letter to the Council,
said Amnesty International believes the total for the year was 140.
Former Justice Minister and Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov commented
in an interview with ITAR-TASS that the incomplete and contradictory
information Russia has released on the issue had irritated Council
members. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIAN "GODFATHER" SENTENCED. A U.S. judge on 29 January sentenced
Vyacheslav Ivankov, nicknamed Yaponchik, to 115 months in prison for
extortion and marriage fraud, Reuters reported. Ivankov, believed to be
the "godfather" of Russian organized crime in the U.S., and three other
Russians were convicted in July of conspiracy and attempting to extort
$3.5 million from a Russian emigre investment firm. Ivankov was also
convicted in a separate trial of marrying an American woman to obtain a
green card. Ivankov has repeatedly protested his innocence, accusing the
FBI of spreading gossip and lies about him. -- Penny Morvant

LUZHKOV: STATE DUMA DISCRIMINATES AGAINST MOSCOW. Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov claimed that the 1997 federal budget adopted by the State Duma
are reflects "anti-Moscow" bias, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 January.
Luzhkov complained that the budget cuts federal subsidies to Moscow by
300 billion rubles ($ 55 million)compared to 1996, while budget
transfers to the other federation subjects remained unchanged. He also
protested that the Duma-backed budget diverted all road taxes gathered
in Moscow to federal coffers, depriving Moscow of another 3.5 trillion
rubles ($ 630 million). -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

NEW GOVERNMENT GRANTS FOR MEDIA. The government has set aside 140
billion rubles ($25 million) to fund media that are judged to be "the
most relevant to the public," RIA-Novosti reported on 29 January, citing
Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Ignatenko. He said 80 billion rubles will
go to electronic media, and 60 billion to print media. The names of the
grant recipients will be released on 1 April. Izvestiya reported on 30
January that state support for the media in 1996 amounted to only one-
quarter of what had originally been budgeted for the purpose; as a
result, media outlets were often forced to seek alliances with banks and
companies, the paper said. -- Laura Belin

FOREIGN TRADE FIGURES RELEASED. Russia's foreign trade turnover totaled
$147.7 billion in current prices, 4% up on the 1995 figure, ITAR-TASS
reported on 30 January citing preliminary data from the State Statistics
Committee. Exports are estimated at $87.7 billion and imports at $59.7
billion, giving Russia a positive trade balance of $28 billion dollars,
$7.8 billion higher than last year. Trade with the Commonwealth of
Independent States accounted for $34.2 billion, up 6% on last year's
figures. -- Penny Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

BAKU PROTESTS U.S. CONGRESSMAN'S VISIT TO NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Rep. Frank
Pallone (D-NJ), co-chair of the 54-member Armenian Caucus in the U.S.
Congress, addressed the parliament of the self-proclaimed Republic of
Nagorno-Karabakh on 28 January, international media reported. Pallone,
whose caucus opposes lifting the 1992 congressional ban on direct U.S.
aid to Azerbaijan said Nagorno-Karabakh's population would be under the
constant threat of "genocide, deportation, or annihilation" if the
region remains part of Azerbaijan. He added that Azerbaijani oil should
not affect the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict "at the
expense of its population." The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry protested
to the U.S. Embassy in Baku that Pallone's visit will "infringe on
Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Turan reported on
28 January. -- Emil Danielyan

MANDATE OF RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS IN ABKHAZIA TO BE EXTENDED? Vladislav
Ardzinba, the president of the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia, called
for the extension of the Russian-led CIS peacekeepers' mandate beyond 31
January, Sakinform news agency reported on 27 January as monitored by
the BBC. The mandate's extension, which has been recommended by the CIS
Council of Defense Ministers, will be discussed at the scheduled March
CIS summit. Georgian State Minister Niko Lekishvili said Georgia will
take a "tough stance" on the issue but did not specify whether his
country will block any decision to extend the mandate, ITAR-TASS
reported on 29 January. Meanwhile, the leadership of the Tbilisi-based
pro-Georgian government of Abkhazia opposed any further presence of the
peacekeepers, accusing them of "taking the Abkhaz side," according to a
BGI agency report monitored by the BBC. -- Emil Danielyan

GENERALS SENTENCED IN AZERBAIJAN. Azerbaijan's Supreme Court sentenced
two former high-ranking security officials to lengthy prison terms for
treason on 29 January, Russian and Western media reported the same day.
Former Deputy Defense Minister Vakhid Musaev and Interior Ministry
Troops Commander Rafik Agaev received sentences of 15 and 11 years,
respectively. They were convicted of plotting to shoot down the plane of
President Heidar Aliev. More than a dozen others involved in the plot
were sentenced to terms ranging from five to 13 years. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKSTAN RESIDENCY POLL. ITAR-TASS on 29 January cited statistics from
an article in Kazakstanskaya pravda from the same day showing that 88%
of ethnic Kazaks, 57% of Russians, and 54% of other ethnic groups in
Kazakstan regard themselves as permanent residents of the country. The
Institute for the Development of Kazakstan conducted the survey, which
also showed that 4% of Kazaks, 25% of Russians, and nearly 33% of other
ethnic groups consider themselves to be potential emigrants. Further, 3%
of the population deem themselves citizens of Russia, 39% citizens of
the CIS, and 22% citizens of the former Soviet Union. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKSTAN NOT ADHERING TO CUSTOMS AGREEMENTS? Russian Minister for
Cooperation with CIS States Aman Tuleyev claims Kazakstan has
unilaterally broken agreements made with Russia on import duties,
according to a 29 January ITAR-TASS report. The two countries, members
of a customs union with Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, set the import tariff on
Russian goods entering Kazakstan at 0.2%, but customs services in
Kazakstan are charging up to 30%. Additionally, Kazakstani customs
services are sometimes charging as much as $300 as an escort service fee
for passenger cargo, though the Russian ministry says a customs worker
will "immediately recede into unobtrusiveness if he is bribed." Tuleyev
has sent a letter to Kazakstani Customs Service head Nigmatzhan
Isingarin regarding these practices, noting that they could damage
economic contacts between the two states. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIK-UZBEK AGREEMENTS. During the 27 January visit of Tajik Prime
Minister Yahya Azimov to Tashkent, agreements were reached on gas and
freight transportation and the development of communication ties in
1997, Uzbek Television reported the same day. Earlier this month, talks
on the same issues broke down. Tajikistan purchases all its gas, an
estimated 1.1 billion cubic meters a year, from Uzbekistan. It appears
Dushanbe appears to have persuaded Uzbekistan to sell it gas at a
concessionary price of $50 per 1,000 cubic meters. -- Lowell Bezanis
[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

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            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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