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Newsline - June 26, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 123, 26 June 1995
IMPEACHMENT MOTION FAILS IN DUMA.
A motion to start impeachment proceedings against President Boris Yeltsin received only 172 of the 226 votes needed to put it on the Duma's agenda for 23 June, Russian Public Television reported. Communist deputies, who had collected 150 signatures in favor of the motion, vowed to raise the question again in the near future. Beginning the impeachment process could protect the Duma from dissolution if its standoff with the government continues. * Laura Belin

DUMA CALLS FOR SACKING MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECHNYA.
The State Duma recommended that President Yeltsin fire Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, and Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov for their handling of the Chechen crisis, Western and Russian agencies reported. A motion to dismiss Sergei Stepashin, the director of the Federal Security Service, failed after garnering only 202 of the necessary 226 votes. Calls for the ousting of Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, first deputy prime ministers Anatoly Chubais and Oleg Soskovets, and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai also failed. The Duma scheduled its decisive vote of confidence in Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's government for 1 July. If 226 members of the Duma do not give the government a positive vote of confidence, the president must sack the government or dissolve the Duma. This requirement puts the Duma deputies in a difficult position since in order to avoid being disbanded, they will have to reverse their earlier no-confidence vote, a politically difficult move in the run-up to the elections. Only 70 members supported the government in the 21 June vote. * Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN, DUMA SEEK COMPROMISE.
Chernomyrdin does not want to see the Duma dissolved and plans to meet with the deputies before the 1 July vote, NTV reported on 25 June. He said the Security Council and the president will decide the fate of the power ministers at the Council's 29 June meeting, two days before the Duma vote. NTV suggested that Yeltsin would dismiss Yerin and Yegorov if he were sure the Duma would vote its confidence in the government, but that he would not fire Grachev, with whom he has a close relationship. Nikolai Kharitonov, of the Agrarian faction, said his colleagues could reverse themselves and support the government if the president were willing to demonstrate that he was taking their views into account. * Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN NEGOTIATORS CONSULT WITH CHERNOMYRDIN . . .
The Russian delegation to the Chechen peace talks returned to Moscow to meet with Chernomyrdin, Western and Russian agencies reported on 25 June.
After the meeting, Chernomyrdin told Russian TV that "we will seek a political solution to this problem, only a political solution." On 23 June, Russian and Chechen negotiators agreed to an indefinite extension of the three-day ceasefire put into effect on 20 June, and also signed a protocol on holding elections in the republic later this year. However, they remained deadlocked on Chechnya's political status and the future role of President Dzhokhar Dudaev. Chechen negotiator Usman Isaev told journalists on 23 June that "the documents we have signed mean that a return to the use of force is not possible," and that outstanding differences will be resolved "peacefully." * Scott Parrish

. . . WHILE CHECHEN CEASEFIRE REMAINS TENUOUS.
The ceasefire between federal and Chechen separatist forces has been violated several times in the last few days, Russian and international agencies reported on 25 June. Federal forces shelled and bombed the area around the village of Dargo, in the Vedeno region of Chechnya. Russian officers told ITAR-TASS that the attacks were not a violation of the ceasefire, because they were launched in order to "detain terrorists" led by Shamil Basaev who had carried out the attack on Budennovsk. Russian military sources also claimed on 24 June that Chechen separatists had "repeatedly violated the moratorium on military actions," killing one federal soldier and wounding another. Also on 24 June, a bomb explosion derailed a passenger train crossing Chechnya near the village of Gertzel, injuring two people, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian officials blamed Chechen separatists for the attack. * Scott Parrish

CHINESE PREMIER ARRIVES IN MOSCOW.
Chinese Premier Li Peng arrived in Moscow for a three-day official visit, Russian and international agencies reported on 25 June. In talks with Russian officials, including Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and President Yeltsin, the Chinese premier will discuss economic cooperation, environmental protection, and measures against organized crime. Among the expected results of Li's visit is an agreement to construct a bridge across the Amur River, linking the Russian and Chinese towns of Heihe and Blagoveshchensk. Rossiiskaya Gazeta commented on 23 June that the visit signals a warming in Russian-Chinese relations, even as U.S.-Chinese relations worsen. * Scott Parrish

ZHIRINOVSKY PARTY WALKS OUT ON KNESSET CHAIRMAN.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party walked out of the Duma as Shevah Weiss, chairman of the Israeli Knesset began to give a speech, Segodnya reported on 24 June. Zhirinovsky objected to the hoisting of the Israeli flag by the Duma on the day of the visit. Zhirinovsky and his supporters left the hall as Weiss, who was born in Western Ukraine, was thanking the Russian army for liberating his family from the Nazis. * Robert Orttung

SOLDIER CHARGED IN JOURNALIST'S DEATH.
The Interior Ministry soldier who shot and killed journalist Natalya Alyakina in Budennovsk on 17 June is in custody after being charged with mishandling a firearm, Russian TV reported on 23 June. If convicted of carelessness in what military prosecutors are calling an accidental shooting, the soldier faces one to 10 years in prison. * Laura Belin

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AFFIRMS EX-CRIMINALS' RIGHT TO HOUSING.
The Constitutional Court struck down article 60 of the Housing Code, which had been used to seal the apartments of convicted criminals even if they served only a short prison sentence, Russian Television reported on 23 June. Judge Nikolai Vedernikov blamed the enforcement of article 60 for making many ex-criminals homeless and therefore increasing the number of repeat offenders. The court ruled that a citizen retains his constitutional right to housing if he is absent from his residence for up to six months, regardless of whether he is serving a prison sentence. * Laura Belin

DUMA TO FOUND ITS OWN TV STATION?
Dissatisfied by allegedly biased news coverage on the Russian Public Television network (ORT), Duma deputies may create their own "mini-tv- and radio-company," Radio Mayak reported on 23 June. Sergei Kalashnikov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Labor and Social Protection, complained that ORT refused to cover parliamentary discussions surrounding the 21 June no-confidence vote but broadcast extensive coverage of the government's meeting the next day. Duma Deputy Chairman Gennady Seleznev told reporters he hoped a Duma-run television company funded by the federal budget would be operational in 1996. * Laura Belin

YUSHENKOV WARNS AGAINST NATO EXPANSION.
NATO's eastward expansion would affect Russia's vital interests and cause nationalistic tendencies in the country to grow stronger, Sergei Yushenkov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, told a conference in St. Petersburg on 25 June. He said talk of such expansion enables "the reactionary part of the Russian military brass to demand greater military spending," ITAR-TASS reported. He also warned that NATO's enlargement could threaten previous arms control agreements, such as the CFE treaty and the Open Skies agreement. * Doug Clarke

RUSSIANS TO PUT SHIELD AROUND SUNKEN SUB.
A Russian research ship equipped with underwater robots left St. Petersburg on 24 June to install a protective shield around the hull of a sunken Russian nuclear submarine in the Norwegian Sea, ITAR-TASS reported. The Komsomolets sank off northern Norway in April 1989 and 42 members of the crew drowned. Besides its nuclear power plant, the boat was carrying two nuclear-armed torpedoes. The report said the work would continue until the end of July. * Doug Clarke

MORE WOMEN DYING DURING CHILDBIRTH.
The number of Russian women who die during childbirth has risen sharply in the past three years, the Labor Ministry reported to Interfax on 24 June. The rate is 10 times higher than in industrialized European countries, the report said, adding that since 1992, the childbirth mortality rate has increased from 47 per 100,000 to 52. * Thomas Sigel

DUMA PASSES BILL ON REFUNDS IN WAGE ARREARS.
The Duma passed the second reading of a draft law on delays in the payment of wages, pensions, and stipends on 23 June, Segodnya reported on 24 June. The law requires those guilty of delays to pay fines as well as wage arrears. Duma Labor and Social Protection Committee Chairman Sergei Kalashnikov said he doubts that President Yeltsin will sign the law since state agencies are among the worst culprits for non-payment of wages. * Thomas Sigel

MEAT AND MILK PRODUCTION DECLINE.
The production of meat and milk fell almost 25% during the first five months of 1995 Segodnya reported on 23 June. Goskomstat figures revealed that the output of prepared meat products, cheese, preserved milk, and low-fat milk products fell by 17-35% on average. In the food industry, output of staples has decreased by an average of 12%. Production of potatoes and margarine products fell by 34% and 20% respectively. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 123, 26 June 1995
ETHNIC GERMANS HOLD CONGRESS IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Ethnic Germans living in Kazakhstan and other republics opened a congress on 24 June in Almaty with the aim of strengthening their influence in the CIS, AFP reported. Some of the goals are to create a German business class, increase the number of young Germans attending universities, and secure rehabilitation for the charges leveled at them under the Stalin regime. Representatives from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Germany attended the meeting, according to Ostankino's "Novosti." During World War II, hundreds of thousands of Germans were deported from the European parts of the Soviet Union to areas in Siberia and Central Asia. Migration back to Germany has cut the population in Kazakhstan from 1 million in 1989 to 640,000 today. * Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZSTAN TO GET MONEY FROM JAPAN.
The Japanese Foreign Economic Cooperation Fund will give Kyrgyzstan up to $40 million for plants that produce exports, Interfax reported on 23 June. In 1993 and 1994, the Japanese government gave $100 million in credits which allowed Kyrgyzstan to improve their cloth mills in order to produce, among other things, export quality wool yarn. Japan is also helping to improve the international airport in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, by providing air-control technology. * Bruce Pannier

GEORGIA PASSES BANK LAW.
The Georgian parliament passed a law that establishes the legal framework for an independent central bank, AFP reported on 23 June. The bank law permits the disbursement of $140 million worth of IMF loans starting on 28 June; its passage was a precondition set by the IMF for the loans. * Lowell Bezanis

DRO TRIAL TO PROCEED.
Rejecting an appeal made by defense attorneys, the collegium of the Armenian Supreme Court decided on 22 June that hearings on the Dro organization will begin on 7 July, Interfax reported on 23 June. Last December, 20 members of Dro, which Armenian authorities say is the military wing of the opposition party Dashnaktsyutyun, were detained on charges of politically-motivated murder, drug trafficking, and gangsterism. * Lowell Bezanis

ZULFUGAROV UPBEAT.
The head of Azerbaijan's delegation to the Helsinki talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov, said the latest round of discussions held under OSCE auspices were "fruitful," Turan reported on 21 June, citing the BBC. During a BBC interview, Zulfugarov said results from the negotiations could be expected "in the near future." He also said that the major political agreement under discussion would not resolve the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. * Lowell Bezanis

EBRD FUNDS TO TURKMENISTAN.
According to an EBRD official visiting Ashgabat, a $150 million credit will be made available to Turkmenistan for the renovation of the Turkmenbashi seaport, the Ashgabat-Mary highway, and various other projects, Interfax reported on 23 June. * Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 123, 26 June 1995

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

KUCHMA APPEALS TO PARLIAMENT TO REINSTATE GENERAL PROSECUTOR.
President Leonid Kuchma appealed to Ukrainian lawmakers to overturn their 21 June resolution dismissing General Prosecutor Vladislav Datsiuk, Ukrainian TV reported on 23 June. Kuchma's appeal says the decision contravenes article 44 of the new law on separation of powers where the parliament is authorized to appoint and dismiss the general prosecutor only upon the president's recommendation. Legislators sacked Datsiuk for failing to deal with growing crime, but Datsiuk claimed the move was politically motivated in an effort to halt investigations into high-level corruption. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE TIGHTENS BORDER CONTROLS.
The head of Ukraine's border guard, Viktor Bannikh, has said that Ukraine is tightening its border controls along the Russian frontier because of the situation in the northern Caucasus, Ukrainian radio reported on 22 June. The move aims to prevent armed bands from penetrating Ukraine's border. The decision follows the recent deployment of Russian marines from the Black Sea Fleet in Georgia where they are advancing on Abkhazia with Georgian troops. * Ustina Markus

LI PENG IN UKRAINE.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng arrived in Kiev on 23 June for an official visit, Ukrainian radio reported. Li met with his Ukrainian counterpart Yevhen Marchuk and President Leonid Kuchma. Talks focused on economic cooperation. Last year Ukraine's trade with China amounted to more than $800 million and there are now over 40 joint ventures between the two countries. The two sides signed further agreements on cooperation and Li passed on a letter in which China promised financial assistance to Ukraine. Marchuk said that China was Kiev's third largest trading partner after Russia and Turkmenistan, but the latest talks showed that trade potential between the two could increase two to three times over the next year. * Ustina Markus

CRIMEANS VOTE IN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
Just over 50% of eligible voters in Crimea cast ballots in local elections on 25 June, filling some 75% of seats on local councils, Russian radio and television reported on 26 June. Over half the candidates represented the Communist Party. Crimean Tatar leaders said their community didn't participate in the poll because less than half of the 200,000 Tatars repatriated from other regions of the former Soviet Union have taken Ukrainian citizenship. The elections were rescheduled from 29 April after Ukraine clamped down on Crimean separatists by canceling the region's constitution and abolishing its presidency in March. * Chrystyna Lapychak

ESTONIAN LAW ON FOREIGNERS.
The Estonian Citizenship and Migration Department told Interfax on 23 June that the government had decided the previous day to submit draft amendments to the law on foreigners. The government proposed removing a provision calling for the expulsion within a year of non-citizens who did not apply for residency and job permits by 12 July. It, however, suggested raising the cost of processing applications from 30 kroons ($2.67) to 300 kroons after 12 July. Non-citizens who do not apply by the deadline will lose the right to participate in the fall local elections. The department noted that about 140,000 of the 400,000 non-citizens had not yet submitted applications. * Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA PROTESTS RUSSIAN AIRSPACE INCURSION.
Two Russian Antonov AN-2 planes on 22 June flew from Belarus to Kaliningrad across Lithuania without asking for permission. One of the pilots told air traffic controllers that they were carrying coffins and did not have enough fuel to fly around Lithuania. Deputy Foreign Minister Albinas Januska said: "We cannot tolerate such acts, If Russia continues to violate Lithuania's airspace, this can touch upon Lithuania's goodwill attitude towards Russian military transit," Reuters reported on 24 June. The incursion occurred while US Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe and the warship "USS Phillipine Sea" were visiting Lithuania. * Saulius Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENT ON RESTITUTION.
The Sejm left-wing majority voted on 23 June against restitution draft laws prepared by President Lech Walesa and the opposition party Freedom Union. The drafts provided for confiscated property to be returned to former owners, or offered comparable property in exchange or compensation in treasury bills. The Sejm sent two other draft laws on restitution to committees for further elaboration. A government draft provides for an inheritance tax up to 90%, while a Polish Socialist Party project proposes very limited compensation in treasury bills. According to an OBOP public opinion poll conducted in June, 65% of Poles favor returning property to former owners, Polish media reported on 24 June. * Jakub Karpinski

POLISH GOVERNMENT ON 1996 BUDGET.
The Polish government accepted on 24 June general assumptions for next year's budget. They provide for a 20% capital gains tax and a budget deficit of around 10%. Pensions are to rise by 2.5%, Polish media report. * Jakub Karpinski

EIGHTEEN DIE IN CZECH RAIL CRASH.
The Czech Republic's worst rail crash in 25 years took place on 24 June when four runaway goods wagons smashed head-on into a single-car passenger train. Czech media reported that most of the 21 passengers were youngsters on their way to a dance. The driver and guard were among 18 people who were killed; four others were seriously injured and only one escaped with minor injuries. The goods wagons, loaded with iron and wood, were apparently not properly secured and rolled away from a station at Cechnov in East Bohemia. After running free for about 5 kilometers, they hit the oncoming passenger train on the same track at about 100 kph. * Steve Kettle

MECIAR PUBLICLY ACCUSES HIS PREDECESSOR OF ELECTORAL FRAUD.
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 25 June publicly accused Democratic Union (DU) chairman Jozef Moravcik of electoral fraud. In a debate on Slovak Television, Meciar said a parliamentary investigation commission has confirmed claims that the DU did not gather the required 10,000 signatures to take part in last fall's elections. Moravcik, Meciar's predecessor as prime minister before the elections, termed the statement "political irresponsibility and stupidity" and said the commission has not yet published its findings. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN PRESIDENTS MEET AT ETHNIC FESTIVAL.
Michal Kovac and Arpad Goncz both attended a festival of Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian minority in the southern Slovak town of Gombasek on 25 June and held informal talks afterwards, international media reported. In a speech at the festival, Kovac said Slovakia is and will be a good homeland for all its citizens regardless of their nationality, religion or political convictions. Hungary's parliament on 13 June ratified a bilateral treaty with Slovakia, but Slovakia's parliament has yet to do so. Kovac reportedly told Goncz he expected ratification before the end of this year. * Steve Kettle



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 123, 26 June 1995
ZAGREB PROTESTS RUMP YUGOSLAV ARMY PRESENCE.
Vecernji list on 26 June reports that the Croatian president's chief-of-staff and head of Croatia's commission for UNCRO Hrvoje Sarinic has contacted UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi by letter to protest the increasing presence of rump Yugoslav forces on Serb-occupied territories of Croatia. According to Sarinic's letter, the rump Yugoslav army presence in terms of men and materiel has been increasing appreciably since the recent transfer of Lt. Gen. Mile Mrksic, formerly of the rump Yugoslav army, to the post of commander of the Krajina Serb forces. Sarinic also observed that since Belgrade began press-ganging ethnic Serb refugees on 11 June throughout the rump Yugoslavia for forced military service, an estimated 4, 000 men have arrived in Krajina. * Stan Markotich

BILDT ON BOSNIAN CRISIS.
International media reported on 25 June that new European Union mediator Carl Bildt spent time that day briefing French President Jacques Chirac on developments in the former Yugoslavia. Almost no details of the closed-door meetings, described as "informal," are expected to emerge before the EU summit in Cannes on 26 June, where discussion on Bosnia is slated for the first day. Bildt has also spoken to representatives of the international five-member Contact Group about details of his first mission to the war-torn country, which involved a rapid and dramatic exit from Sarajevo as the EU negotiator's convoy came under fire, Nasa Borba reports on 26 June. In other news, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's cabinet on 26 June resolved to send military back-up for UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. The historic decision has yet to receive parliamentary approval. * Stan Markotich

"MORALE IS HIGH" SAYS BOSNIAN COMMANDER.
Bosnian army Chief of Staff Rasim Delic, assessing the military situation throughout Bosnia, has concluded that Bosnian Serb forces are overextended and weakening while "morale is high" in all Bosnian government units . "We will try to maintain the present advantage at all costs," he was quoted as saying by the Croatian news agency Hina on 25 June. Meanwhile, Bosnian government military sources have said for the record that the siege of Sarajevo is not, contrary to Bosnian Serb reports, weakening and may be expected to continue throughout at least the summer; on 25 June international media reported that on that same day Bosnian government forces captured a strategic hill just outside Sarajevo that had been occupied by Bosnian Serb troops. Finally, on 25 June Reuters reported that the Bosnian army continues to block peacekeepers' movements while it awaits clarification of the role of `rapid reaction' reinforcements for the UN mission." The Bosnian government has expressed concern that the forces' presence may effectively hamper offensives against the Bosnian Serbs. * Stan Markotich

NINE KILLED IN SARAJEVO.
Reuters reported on 25 June that a shell exploded near a playground in the war-torn city, killing three adults and three children and bringing the death toll from shelling and sniping for that day to nine. At least thirty others were wounded, police sources reported. * Stan Markotich

SCANDAL OF MILITARY ATTACK ON ILIESCU CONTINUES . . .
The leader of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, told a press conference on 23 June that his formation continued to support President Ion Iliescu, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. Tudor said his party's weekly had published the letter of the 300 active and reserve officers implying the president was guilty of high treason (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 June 1995) in the name of "freedom of the press." The daily Evenimentul zilei reported on 24 June that Iliescu said he believed the Prosecutor General's office was manned by "professionals" who know how to "go about their business," in what seems to be a threat to sue Tudor. Meanwhile, three opposition parties, the Liberal Party '93, the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front and the Social Democratic Party, called on the Supreme Council of National Defense to investigate the affair and take action if the letter proves to have been forged. The daily Romania libera on 26 June quotes the chairman of the Senate's Defense Committee, Alexandru Radu Timofte, as saying that the letter had been written by just one person and the 300 signatories "do not exist."* Michael Shafir

. . . AS DOES SCANDAL ON ALLEGED ILIESCU KGB LINKS.
The daily Ziua reported on 23 June that two agents of the Romanian Intelligence Service (RIS) have been identified while taking videotapes of the journalist who first revealed the alleged past links of President Ion Iliescu with the KGB. The journalist, Tana Ardeleanu, was filmed while meeting a reporter for the independent news agency Mediafax. An official of the RIS admitted that the two had taken the shots, but claimed that the operation had nothing to do with the allegations against Iliescu. The two agents, he said, were on a mission to "catch two spies" but had erred and also "acted unprofessionally." Ziua on 26 June said it was suing the two agents and the RIS. The Association of Romanian Journalists said in a press release carried by Radio Bucharest on 25 June that it was "astonished" by the RIS deed, which was branded as "an illegal action of a political police, directed against the independent press," and said the explanations of the RIS were "puerile." * Michael Shafir

ROMANIA OPENS STOCK EXCHANGE.
The first stock exchange in nearly 50 years was reopened in Bucharest on 23 June, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, the Governor of the National Bank, Mugur Isarescu, and members of the parliament attended the opening ceremony. The director general of the stock exchange, Stere Farmache, said real trading on the stock exchange will start in the fall. Till then there will be "simulacrum operations" testing the ability of the exchange market. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu estimated that it will take some two years until the stock exchange will become "the barometer of our economic activity." More than 120 former state-owned companies issued public shares so far. More potential stocks may come from a mass privatization program approved last week. * Michael Shafir

GRACHEV IN MOLDOVA, SNEGUR IN MOSCOW.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on 26 June begins a visit to Chisinau to discuss the implementation of the agreement on the withdrawal of the 14th Army, Radio Bucharest and international agencies reported on 24 June. He will also go to Tiraspol in the breakaway Transdniestr region, where the army is based. At the same time, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur starts a visit to Moscow, where he will discuss with Boris Yeltsin the implementation of the pullback agreement, Radio Bucharest reported on 25 June. The visits take place against the background of a declaration issued by the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in reaction to the bill adopted by the Duma on 21 June opposing the withdrawal of the 14th Army. The declaration, carried by Infotag and BASA-press on 23 June, says the Duma "continues to hinder the process of a political settlement of the Transdniestrian problem" and its position "contradicts the principles of international law," amounting to an "interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state." The withdrawal of the 14th Army, the ministry says, remains one of the conditions for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. * Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT REPLACES STATE MEDIA BOSSES.
The National Assembly on 23 June elected new directors of national television and radio and of the state-run news agency BTA, RFE reported the same day. Ivan Granitski replaced Hacho Boyadzhiev as head of Bulgarian National Television, Vecheslav Tunev took over Bulgarian National Radio from Ivan Obretenov, and Milen Valkov became new head of BTA. He replaced Stefan Gospodinov, who died last week. Most opposition deputies voted against the candidates, who had been nominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The BSP majority rejected opposition proposals to have the three candidates come to parliament and explain their future plans, to have the outgoing directors explain to the assembly the reason for their removal, and to broadcast the debate live. Opposition speakers called the replacement a move to put state media under effective BSP control. * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ACCUSED OF ALLOWING MANIPULATION OF SECRET FILES.
Skender Gjinushi, leader of the Social Democratic Party, accused President Sali Berisha before the Constitutional Court on 23 June of encouraging manipulation of former secret police files, international news agencies reported the same day. He also asked the court to ban Rilindja Demokratike, the newspaper of Berisha's Democratic Party. The paper had accused Gjinushi, who was education minister in the last communist government, of having worked for the secret police Sigurimi under the code name Agap. This information can only come from Sigurimi files, but officially they have not been opened do far because there is no law on their disclosure. Gjinushi in return accused the newspaper of manipulating Sigurimi files, adding that "the President knows about this" and that Berisha is using these files "to threaten his opponents." The court did not announce its ruling on the case, but a ban of Rilindja Demokratike is unlikely. * Stefan Krause

NEWEST U.S. SPY PLANE TO FLY FROM ALBANIA.
The Pentagon is sending its newest unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to Albania where it will fly missions over Bosnia in support of NATO and U.N. forces, U.S. media announced on 23 June. The aircraft, called the "Predator", is a new-generation aerial reconnaissance system still in the experimental stage. It can stay airborne for up to 40 hours, and its sensors can see through clouds. In early 1994, the CIA for several months flew some older reconnaissance drones out of the airport at Gjader, in northern Albania. * Doug Clarke

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle




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