Accessibility links

Newsline - June 5, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 108. 5 June 1995
YELTSIN AIDE APOLOGIZES FOR PRESIDENT'S REMARKS ON JAPAN.
Presidential press spokesman Sergei Medvedev said on 2 June that President Boris Yeltsin "regrets his over-emotional remark" on 31 May regarding Japan's offer of earthquake relief aid, Interfax reported. Speaking at a Moscow Oblast factory, Yeltsin had suggested that Japan would attempt to link earthquake aid to the territorial dispute over the Kurile Islands. Medvedev explained that the president is "sincerely thankful" to all those who offered aid and hopes for the development of friendly relations between Russia and Japan. Nevertheless, Medvedev added, "fairly influential groups" in Japan are attempting to link unrelated cultural and economic issues to the Kuriles dispute. The official death toll rose to 1,160 as of 4 June, and the authorities believe there may still be another 500 bodies in the ruins of Neftegorsk, Russian and Western agencies reported. --Scott Parrish, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

REGIONAL DIVISIONS EMERGE IN RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE.
The Moscow regional branch of Russia's Democratic Choice, headed by Duma member Anatoly Shabad, declared it impossible to join Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's center-right bloc at a conference on 3 June, Interfax reported. Participants at the conference blamed Chernomyrdin for failures in economic reform and crimes in the Chechen war. However, Igor Shoshnikov, the leader of the party's St. Petersburg branch, said his organization is willing to cooperate with the Chernomyrdin bloc in proposing candidates for the single-member district elections. He told a press conference that all of the St. Petersburg democratic parties are cooperating, except Yabloko's regional branch. -- Robert Orttung, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

ENVIRONMENTAL MINISTER SEES HOPE FOR GREEN MOVEMENT IN CAMPAIGN.
Russian environmental parties and movements are likely to form a group called the Green Movement of Russia to campaign for seats in the Duma, Russian Minister for Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Viktor Danilov-Danilyan told the First All-Russia Congress for Environmental Protection in Moscow on 3 June, Interfax reported. He described the formation of a unified movement as the only chance to influence law-making and monitor the activities of the executive branch with regard to environmental protection. However, environmental activists have expressed doubt that the movement could have a significant impact on the elections. The three-day conference brought together 1,000 delegates from governmental, social, and research organizations. -- Robert Orttung, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

RUSSIANS CLAIM CONTROL OF VEDENO.
General Anatoly Kulikov said Russian troops had ousted Chechen fighters from the regional center of Vedeno, 28 miles south of Grozny, on 3 June, Interfax reported. Chechen sources denied that the village had been taken, although Russian television showed Kulikov addressing townspeople in Vedeno on 4 June and the Russian flag flying over the village bus station. Chechen forces had been using Vedeno as their headquarters since late March. Radio Rossii reported that Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudaev had sent an appeal to U.S. President Bill Clinton and St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak to mediate a settlement to the conflict. -- Robert Orttung, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

RUSSIAN PILOTS SAY THEY LACK AMMUNITION.
Russian helicopter gun-ship pilots in Chechnya are flying their combat missions with only half a load of ammunition, the television newscast "Segodnya" reported on 2 June. News correspondent Yelena Masyuk quoted the pilots as calling themselves "kamikazes"--after the Japanese World War II suicide pilots--because of the ammunition shortage and the fact that their helicopters are 15 to 20 years old and lack defenses against the militants' missiles. She said they serve in the combat zone for 45 days, during which they receive double pay, and fly from five to six 30 minute sorties daily. -- Doug Clarke , Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

LIFE EXPECTANCY CONTINUES TO FALL.
According to a U.S.-Russian study presented at the environmental conference in Moscow on 3-4 June, male life expectancy has declined from 64.9 years to 58.3 since 1987, and the downward trend is set to continue. The study also predicted that the number of suicides and cancer cases would continue to rise and that tuberculosis cases would remain at the level they were in developed countries 30 to 40 years ago, Interfax reported. -- Penny Morvant, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

KOMMERSANT: IGNATENKO'S APPOINTMENT WILL HELP CHERNOMYRDIN'S CAMPAIGN.
ITAR-TASS director-general Vitaly Ignatenko was appointed to the post of deputy prime minister for media affairs in order to improve the electoral prospects of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, according to an article in Kommersant-Daily on 2 June. The author charged that Chernomyrdin needs better press relations and consequently urged President Yeltsin to hire a career journalist to build a "favorable information space" for the government. -- Laura Belin, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

UNIONS EXPRESS INTEREST IN JOINING RYBKIN.
Mikhail Shmakov, head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), said on 2 June that a national movement led by Russia's unions may form the backbone of a left-of-center electoral bloc to be headed by Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, Interfax reported. Shmakov said he had held consultations with Rybkin but the makeup of a coalition had still to be finalized. The FNPR has already announced its intention to work with the Union of Realists and the United Industrialists. The Regions of Russia public association also expressed interest in joining up with Rybkin, whose bloc had hitherto shown few signs of life, Segodnya reported on 3 June. The association's leader, Vladimir Medvedev, said he had received requests from some of his organization's local branches to ask Rybkin to become the leader of a "Regions of Russia--Left Center" electoral bloc. -- Penny Morvant, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

RUSSIAN DEBT RESCHEDULED.
Western official creditors and Japan agreed on 2 June to reschedule nearly $7 billion of Russian debt and debt servicing due in 1995, international agencies reported. In addition, the group of 17 creditor countries affiliated with the Paris Club agreed to launch talks in the fall for "a comprehensive rescheduling" of Russian debt to official lenders, estimated at $36-40 billion, provided "certain conditions" are met. Those conditions would probably include continued adherence to the recently concluded IMF stabilization plan. The agreement came after three days of talks with a team headed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov, who told Interfax on 2 June that Russia will raise the issue of the debt's comprehensive restructuring at the G-7 Summit meeting in Halifax, Canada this month. -- Michael Mihalka, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

MAY INFLATION DIPS BELOW EIGHT PERCENT.
Russia's monthly inflation rate fell below 8% in May according to government figures published on 2 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. The inflation rate has decreased every month this year and is now at 7.9%, the lowest level since September 1994. Inflation for April was 8.5%. The government continues to forecast that the monthly inflation will fall to below 2% by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

WINTER HARVEST TO YIELD UP TO 26 TONS.
Russia's winter crops will yield 23-26 million tons of grain, including 19.5 to 21.5 million tons of wheat, according to Rosgidromet (the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring), Interfax reported on 2 June. The news agency published the statistics even though Federal Security Service (FSB) Public Relations Chief Alexander Mikhaylov told Russian agencies on 2 June that the statistics should remain classified because "harvest prospects have a direct relationship to commercial secrets and can immediately affect the level of world grain prices." -- Thomas Sigel, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 108. 5 June 1995
ARMENIA TO PARTICIPATE IN TALKS.
Armenia has agreed to rejoin the OSCE Minsk conference on Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 3 June. Yerevan officially pulled out of the talks on 25 May following the disruption of its natural gas supplies by an explosion on part of the pipeline in Georgia. Following an exchange between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan at the CIS summit in Minsk it appeared Yerevan would return to the talks; to insure this outcome, the Russian co-chairman of the OSCE-sponsored talks traveled to Yerevan last week for talks with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. -- Lowell Bezanis, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

NEW PARTY IN UZBEKISTAN.
A congress establishing the National Rebirth Party in Uzbekistan was held on 3 June, Interfax reported the next day. The party, known in Uzbek as the Milli Tiklanish Partisi, said it would work for the progress of the nation and the growth of national self-consciousness. The initiative for the establishment of the party reportedly came from Uzbek artists; its first elected chairman is Aziz Kayumov, a member of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences. The new party represents the fourth authorized political party in Uzbekistan; all are known for their pro-government, non-combative character. -- Lowell Bezanis, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

AMNESTY LAW PASSED IN GEORGIA.
Following acrimonious debate, the Georgian parliament adopted an amnesty law at a closed session on 2 June, Interfax reported the same day. It was granted to those teenagers, women, elderly, and disabled who are serving prison sentences of five years or less. The amnesty also applies to those who took part "in battles for the territorial integrity of Georgia and were detained for possession of weapons but have no previous criminal record" as demanded by deputy Dzhaba Ioseliani, founder of the Mkhedrioni militia (later Saviours Corp), which agreed to disarm in early May. -- Lowell Bezanis, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

CIS


EXCEPT FOR OIL ENERGY EXPORTS TO CIS INCREASE.
Although Russia's oil exports to the CIS fell by 7% in the period from January to May 1995 compared to the same period last year, gas (16%), diesel fuel (37%), and gasoline (63%) exports rose, according to PIA-Interfax on 2 June. Preliminary reports from the Russian Ministry for Cooperation with CIS countries indicated that Ukraine and Belarus were the main importers with 72.2% and 16.6% respectively of the 39.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas supplied and 35% and 42% of the 11.4 billion metric tons of oil. -- Michael Mihalka, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

PROSPECTS FOR RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN SUMMIT.
Russian presidential aides Dmitry Ryurikov and Yury Baturin spent the weekend in Kiev, preparing for the upcoming Yeltsin-Kuchma meeting on 9 June. The two advisers told Interfax that "there are still rather serious disagreements" between the two sides, but that they hoped to "make the summit meeting as productive as possible." "Serious disagreements" remain on issues related to the division of the Black Sea Fleet, according to two senior aides of Russian President Boris Yeltsin after meetings with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev on 1-3 June, Interfax-Ukraine and Reuters reported on 2 June. Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Bizhan said his country could be forced to escort the ships away from Ukrainian territory as a "foreign" armed force if differences over where the divided fleet will be based are not resolved soon. But both the Ukrainian and Russian sides said the latest round of meetings were "very productive." Bizhan unveiled a Ukrainian proposal to split the five bay inlets in Sevastopol with Russia, leaving two of the largest to Moscow, using two as a base for a Ukrainian fleet, and demilitarizing the fifth. The meetings with President Leonid Kuchma and Ukrainian national security adviser Volodymyr Horbulin were designed to lay the groundwork for a presidential summit meeting. -- Chrystyna Lapychak and Scott Parrish, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

RUSSO-UKRAINIAN COOPERATION IN HELICOPTER PRODUCTION.
The director general of the Moscow-based Light MI Helicopter joint stock company told Interfax on 3 June that his company had concluded an agreement with the Trans-Carpathian production group in Dubovoye, Ukraine, for the production of two Mi-34 helicopter fuselages. He said there would be more cooperation between the two manufacturers in the future. The Mi-34 is a helicopter trainer and one of the Russian aircraft scheduled to be displayed at the upcoming 1995 Paris Air Show. -- Doug Clarke, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 108. 5 June 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT STANDS FIRM ON PLEBISCITE.
Leonid Kuchma has said he will proceed with a legally non-binding referendum on confidence in himself and the Ukrainian parliament despite the latter's veto of his 31 May decree on the poll, international and Ukrainian agencies reported. The president told reporters in Cherkasy on 3 June that he would consider canceling the poll only if the legislature changed the constitution to allow the law on separation of powers to take effect. He said the current showdown was not simply a struggle for power but a "historic decision" about the country's political future that should be taken by the country's "chief arbiter--the nation." Deputies argue that the plebiscite would provoke civil strife. Parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz on 2 June sent a telegram to local authorities warning them that they will be held liable if they fail to comply with the assembly's veto of Kuchma's decree. He also asked the prosecutor-general's office to monitor compliance with the legislature's decision. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

CONSERVATIVE PARTIES FROM BALTIC STATES MEET IN RIGA.
The first meeting of conservative parties from the Baltic States was held in Riga on 2 June, BNS reported. Twelve parties were present, including the Estonian Independence Party, the Latvian National Conservative Party, and the Lithuanian Conservative Party. Representatives of the conservative parties, which are in opposition in all three Baltic States, pledged to meet regularly and cooperate on political and economic matters. They also announced plans to hold a seminar in Riga this August on the revival of totalitarian tendencies in the Baltics. -- Laura Belin, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

ESTONIA TO JOIN NATO MANEUVERS IN BALTIC.
Estonia will take part in annual NATO exercises in the Baltic Sea for the first time, BNS reported on 2 June. Naval and air forces from the U.S. and twelve European countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia, will participate in peacekeeping, humanitarian, and rescue operations this summer. The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn said in an official statement that the exercises will promote the aspirations of Partnership for Peace countries for eventual NATO membership. -- Laura Belin, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

POPULARITY OF LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT AND PREMIER DROPS.
An opinion poll conducted by the Lithuanian-British institute Baltic Studies showed sharp declines in the popularity of President Algirdas Brazauskas and Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius in May, Interfax reported on 2 June, citing Respublika. In April, Brazauskas and Slezevicius were the second and seventh most popular politicians respectively; but last month, they dropped to fourth and eleventh places. Interfax attributed the decline to unpopular measures introduced in May, including a 30% increase in electricity prices and planned hikes for natural gas heating. According to the poll, Seimas Deputy Chairman Egidius Bickauskas was Lithuania's most popular politician in May, followed by environmental activist Valdas Adamkus. -- Laura Belin, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

POLES COMMEMORATE 1940 KATYN MASSACRE.
President Lech Walesa, Premier Jozef Oleksy, and the Sejm and Senate speakers attended a ceremony in Katyn, near Smolensk in Russia, on 4 June to commemorate the 1940 Soviet-ordered massacres of thousands of Polish soldiers and officers. Only in 1990 did the Soviet Union admit responsibility for the killings. Walesa said at the ceremony that "Today, we feel a hope rising from this place to see our peoples reconciled as neighbours and friends, to see Poland and Russia, both free and democratic, overcome their unhappy past...and set Europe an example of bridge building between nations," international media reported. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in a message read by chief of staff Sergei Filatov, noted that "the totalitarian terror did not only affect Polish citizens but primarily affected the citizens of the former Soviet Union." -- Jakub Karpinski, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

CZECH PREMIER BOWS TO PRESSURE OVER APARTMENT SCANDAL.
Vaclav Klaus on 2 June gave up a municipal apartment offered him by a Prague local council, admitting that he was bowing to widespread public criticism. The council, run by members of Klaus's Civic Democratic Party, offered the prime minister a luxurious apartment rent-free. Prague has a serious housing shortage, and Klaus already has an apartment on a housing estate, which is occupied by his son. He lives together with his wife in a government villa but has said they want a home of their own. Many critics said Klaus has the means to buy an apartment under the mortgage system introduced by his government. President Vaclav Havel said on Czech Radio on 4 June that Klaus apparently handled the affair badly at the beginning but in the end responded correctly to the public outcry. -- Steve Kettle, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

SLOVAK MINISTERS CONFIRM NEW PRIVATIZATION MODEL.
Slovak economic ministers on 4 June met to discuss details of the ""new model" of coupon privatization they intend to introduce soon, Pravda reported. Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik confirmed that property worth 40 billion koruny will be privatized under the scheme. Another 80 billion koruny worth of property is due to be privatized by the end of the year through standard methods. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio that the new coupon scheme should begin by the end of June. He said it will be more advantageous for individual investors and will reduce the influence of the investment funds. -- Steve Kettle, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

HUNGARY'S PRESIDENT TO BE ELECTED IN JUNE.
Parliamentary speaker Zoltan Gal on 3 June said the parliament will elect Hungary's next president between 19 June and the end of the month. Reuters reported that the outcome of the election is in little doubt, since the ruling Liberal-Socialist coalition, which has 72% of the parliamentary mandates, has endorsed the incumbent, Arpad Goncz, to serve another five-year term. The vote is viewed as an opportunity for the divided conservative opposition to present a united front to voters and start regaining the support it lost in the local and national elections last year. The conservatives parties have yet to nominate a candidate. Gal was quoted by MTI as saying the president will be elected in three rounds on consecutive days or whenever a candidate gains a two-thirds majority. -- Jiri Pehe , Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

HUNGARY TO RECEIVE IMF LOAN AFTER ALL?
Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 4 June said the austerity package approved by the Hungarian parliament on 31 May has convinced the IMF that Hungary should be granted loans to help its transition to a market economy. Horn was speaking to Reuters on the eve of his eight-day visit to the U.S., where he will meet with President Bill Clinton and IMF Director Michel Camdessus. Horn said a stand-by loan agreement with the IMF has been agreed in principle and a three-year lending deal was likely before the end of the year. Hungary, which is deeply indebted, has sought a long-term agreement with the IMF that would help Budapest obtain loans both from the fund and possibly from other lenders on better terms than it can secure now. The IMF froze a stand-by accord with Hungary in 1992 when it became clear that Budapest would overshoot its budget deficit target. -- Jiri Pehe,
Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 108. 5 June 1995
SERBS FREE SOME HOSTAGES, CAPTURE OTHERS.
International media on 3 June reported that Bosnian Serb forces have begun freeing some 120 hostages as a "good will gesture." The BBC said the move followed a meeting between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's secret police chief and Bosnian Serb leaders. The government-controlled media in Serbia praised the president's role, and the BBC said "Milosevic calls the shots." The Bosnian Serbs subsequently seized new hostages from encircled positions, although two French soldiers outside Sarajevo refused to go meekly and held off 20 Serbs, the BBC added on 4 June. Further releases of hostages appear to hinge on more concessions to the Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs still demand security guarantees, including a pledge of no further air strikes. The International Herald Tribune on 3 June reported that Milosevic has a long and growing wish-list. The BBC on 5 June said Russian President Boris Yeltsin pledged to his French counterpart that Moscow will try to influence Belgrade's stance. AFP on 4 June cited U.S. Senate majority leader Bob Dole as suggesting that bombing Serbia might be a way to moderate Serbian behavior. -- Patrick Moore , Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

SERBS DOWN U.S. PLANE.
A U.S. F-16C plane was shot down near Banja Luka on 3 June during a routine patrol to enforce the no-fly zone. Serbian surface-to-air missiles were apparently responsible, but the fate of the pilot is unclear. International media also note fighting over the weekend near Sarajevo and Tuzla, with the Serbs blasting the UN-declared "safe area" of Srebrenica with artillery fire. Elsewhere, AFP on 2 June said that Krajina Serbs want to exchange the bodies of the Bosnian foreign minister and other diplomats shot down on 28 May for Serbian prisoners. -- Patrick Moore, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

WESTERN RAPID REACTION FORCE TO BE SET UP.
NATO and WEU defense ministers met in Paris on 3 June and agreed to establish a Rapid Reaction Force to bolster UNPROFOR in Bosnia. AFP said the following day that it will comprise 14,000 troops primarily from the U.K. and France. The RRF will likely suffer from the same basic contradiction between peace-keeping and peace-making that has bedeviled UNPROFOR. The men will wear their own national uniforms and camouflage gear, but they will be under the UN flag and subordinated to UN military structures. In theory, the RRF could help make UNPROFOR less vulnerable to hostage-taking and other attacks, but the question of its mission remains vague. The Washington Post on 4 June noted that further confusion surrounds Washington's policy, which promises support for the RRF and is aimed at appearing "robust" to Europeans while reassuring U.S. voters that it is cautious and limited. -- Patrick Moore , Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

HAVE THE CROATS CUT KRAJINA OFF FROM BOSNIA?
Croatian and Bosnian Croat forces pressed hard around Knin over the weekend of 3-4 June, expanding from their center at Livno. They came the closest ever to hitting Knin itself with artillery based in the Dinara range. Confusion nonetheless remains as to whether the Croats have succeeded in their immediate goal of cutting the Grahovo road linking Knin with Banja Luka in Bosnian Serb territory. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, news agencies on 4 June said that the Serbs blew up one of the few remaining Roman Catholic churches. -- Patrick Moore, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

REFUGEES RETURN TO BOSNIA FROM MACEDONIA.
Bosnian refugees who have spent three years in Macedonia left for Bosnia via Albania and Croatia, Reuters reported on 3 June. The 733 refugees--mainly women, children, and elderly people--reportedly returned voluntarily. They were accompanied by the Bosnian ambassador to Tirana. About 100 young men said they wanted to return home to fight with the Bosnian government army. The convoy was organized by the Bosnian government and the Islamic relief group El Hilal. It was sponsored by the Third World Relief Organization, based in Vienna. -- Fabian Schmidt, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

GREEK VOLUNTEERS FIGHT WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.
Greek volunteers are fighting with Bosnian Serbs against Bosnian government troops "in the name of orthodoxy" and Greek-Serb friendship, AFP quoted the daily Ethnos as saying on 2 June. Reportedly several dozen Greeks fought with the Bosnian Serbs for periods of a few months up to two years during the last three years. One Greek fighter is quoted as saying there was "an anti-Serb and anti-orthodox genocide in Bosnia." He charged UN peacekeepers with "playing a dirty role in favor of the Moslems." AFP also quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying "the Serbs have only two friends, God and the Greeks." -- Fabian Schmidt, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

SERBIAN ULTRANATIONALIST LEADER JAILED AGAIN.
Vojislav Seselj, accused war criminal and leader of the extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), was arrested on 3 June following clashes with the police during a rally in the Kosovar town of Gnjilane the same day, Reuters reported, citing Belgrade's independent Studio B TV. SRS deputies have alleged that the police were behind the incident. Seselj has been touring in both Serbia and Bosnian Serb-held territory to stir up ultranationalist opposition to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He was planning to attend an anti-Milosevic rally in Belgrade on 17 June. Nasa Borba on 5 June reported that Seselj will be imprisoned for 20 days. The SRS leader served prison sentences in 1994 following several incidents of assault in the federal parliament (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 January 1995). -- Stan Markotich, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

STRIKES IN ROMANIA'S ENERGY SECTOR.
Some 37,000 utility workers on 2 June went on strike over a 25% pay increase claim, ignoring a government ban on work stoppages in the energy sector, Radio Bucharest reported. The strike-- the first of its kind in Romania--affects 33 of the 37 coal- and oil-fired stations owned by the state electricity company Renel. The government gave an ultimatum to the strikers, threatening to sack them if they failed to resume work. Some 14,000 coal miners in the Rovinari and Motru basins went on strike in support of the Renel workers. But they decided on 3 June to suspend their action after the government agreed to send a special commission to examine their complaints. Protests in the energy sector began two weeks ago, when thousands of Renel workers submitted resignations over a government decision to tie wage hikes in state companies to productivity. Meanwhile, an electricity power crisis is reportedly looming in Romania, despite increased electricity imports from Ukraine. -- Dan Ionescu, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

GREATER ROMANIA PARTY TO SUE ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY.
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party, announced at a press conference on 2 June that his party intends to sue the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR). Tudor accused the UDMR of seeking "Romania's territorial amputation." He also demanded that firm steps be taken against three Bucharest dailies for their alleged pro-Magyar stance. Tudor further expressed his party's "stupefaction" over a recent statement by Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu suggesting that the Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty include a reference to Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201 on ethnic minorities. Tudor said his party will request a national referendum on whether Romania should recognize that recommendation. -- Dan Ionescu, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

RUSSIAN OFFICERS IN MOLDOVA THREATEN TO QUIT.
Officers of the 14th Russian Army have told President Boris Yeltsin that they will resign if Moscow presses ahead with plans to withdraw the army from Moldova's Dniester region, Reuters reported. In an open letter addressed to Yeltsin, the officers said the withdrawal might lead to a conflict in the area that might then spread to neighboring states. Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, commander of the 14th Army, resigned last week. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on 1 June accepted his resignation, but Yeltsin must still ratify it. -- Dan Ionescu, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS LOSE PARLIAMENTARY VOTE.
The ruling Socialist Party has failed to muster the majority required to elect their candidate for head of the State Savings Bank, international agencies reported on 2 June. The reason for the Socialists' first defeat since winning last year's elections was that not enough Socialist deputies were present for the vote. The chamber voted 99 to 94 for Bistra Dimitrova, whom the anticommunist opposition rejects because she works for a private holding company reputed to be run by members of the former communist secret service. Dimitrova would have needed at least 102 votes out of 203 legislators present. -- Fabian Schmidt, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

ALBANIAN COMMUNIST DICTATOR'S SON ON TRIAL.
Enver Hoxha's son went on trial on 3 June charged with inciting hatred toward various groups of people and calling for the use of violence against them. Ilir Hoxha said in an interview in April that "one day, those people who scoffed at my father and my family will have to pay for it." He denies the charges, claiming that he is the victim of Albania's ruling political forces and that he has appealed for peace and tolerance, not hatred. Prosecutor Genc Gjokutaj, however, said Hoxha has endangered public peace by referring to various people as "vandal bands" and "blind fools," Reuters reported on 3 June. -- Fabian Schmidt, Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

ALBANIAN GAY ASSOCIATION OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED.
For the first time in Albanian history, a gay association has been officially recognized, international agencies reported on 3 and 4 June. A court registered Gay-Albania on the basis of the new penal code, which came into effect on 1 June. Homosexuals were persecuted in communist Albania and could be sentenced for up to seven years in prison. The new penal code has also led to the release of two former Communist Party politburo members, who were sentenced to seven and eight years in prison for misappropriation of state funds. According to the new law, every day spent in prison between arrest and trial counts as one and a half days in prison. -- Fabian Schmidt , Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



XS
SM
MD
LG