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Newsline - July 26, 1995


GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS BREAK OFF.
Without reaching any agreement, Russian and Chechen negotiators announced on 25 July that further talks would be postponed for three days in order to allow each delegation to carry out consultations, Western and Russian agencies reported. Shortly after the negotiations were suspended, intense fighting erupted between Chechen fighters and federal troops in central Grozny, leaving one federal serviceman and two Chechen gunmen dead, according to ITAR-TASS. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, in an interview with RIA-Novosti, described further negotiations as "pointless." Disagreement between Chechen leaders about the issue of Chechnya's status threatens to scuttle the talks entirely. Izvestiya reported on 26 July that several Chechen field commanders expressed discontent with the direction of the negotiations, while in an interview published in Segodnya on 25 July, Shamil Basaev threatened to shoot Chechen lead delegate Usman Imaev if he agrees to Chechnya remaining in the Russian Federation. * Scott Parrish

CHECHEN WAR USING UP ALL RUSSIAN ROCKET AMMO.
The Russian armed forces are in danger of using up all the ammunition for their rapid fire rocket-propelled "Grad" multiple-launch rocket systems, NTV reported on 24 July. Officials at Tula's "Splav" enterprise, where the Grad was built, said that not a single shell has been produced in the past five years. Gennadii Denezhkin, Splav's chief designer, said the company "now basically lives on trading its arms abroad and conversion. . . . There are no new orders from the Russian Defense Ministry." He added that new weapons projects are "in a comatose state." * Doug Clarke

RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE STARTS FUNDRAISING FOR CAMPAIGN.
Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar has sent out a letter soliciting contributions from several hundred government and private organizations, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 26 July. The letter offers a sliding scale of access to the party for potential sponsors. Contributors of 10 million rubles ($2,200) receive information on the party's progress during the campaign, while gifts of more than 500 million rubles ($110,000) will earn the donor a meeting to discuss specific forms of cooperation. * Robert Orttung

NTV TO OPEN BUREAU IN ROSTOV-NA-DONU.
The independent television company NTV announced that it will open a bureau in the southern Russian city Rostov-na-Donu, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 July. The bureau will produce a special news program covering events in the North Caucasus region and eastern Ukraine. NTV's coverage of the military campaign in Chechnya has been highly acclaimed for its professionalism, both inside and outside Russia. * Laura Belin

MOSKOVSKII KOMSOMOLETS CHARGES CONCERNING REGIONAL TV REFUTED.
Internews Executive Director Manana Aslamazian and Glasnost Defense Foundation Chairman Aleksei Simonov wrote to the editors of Moskovskii komsomolets protesting that newspaper's unsigned article of 20 July, which alleged that Internews was behind an attempted "American takeover" of regional television in Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 July). The letters point out numerous factual errors the article, including the following: Internews, an international non-profit organization, is not funded by or linked to the U.S. Information Agency; Internews did not create the Independent Broadcasting System (IBS), a commercial network of regional television stations in Russia; and Internews neither controls administratively nor finances the IBS. * Laura Belin

NINE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES REGISTERED IN SVERDLOVSK.
Nine candidates have registered to compete in the 6 August gubernatorial elections in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 26 July. Eduard Rossel, the chairman of the Sverdlovsk Duma and a Federation Council deputy, is the favorite in the race. Other candidates include the head of the oblast administration, the director of a large factory, a prominent Yekaterinburg businessman, and a film director. On 11 May, President Yeltsin issued a decree allowing the Sverdlovsk governor to be elected as an "exception" to a 1994 decree banning elections for regional executive heads without Moscow's explicit approval. * Laura Belin

KHABAROVSK MAYOR APPOINTMENT CONTESTED IN COURT.
A Khabarovsk Krai court is examining a lawsuit against regional Governor Viktor Ishaev concerning the controversial appointment of Khabarovsk Mayor Pavel Filippov in 1994, Segodnya reported on 25 July. The suit alleges that Ishaev's decree contradicted the principles of local self-government and violated the right of the city's residents to elect a mayor. Segodnya predicted that the court would find in favor of the governor, who claims that his actions were legal, since Russia has not yet adopted a law on local government. * Laura Belin

MONUMENT TO VYSOTSKII UNVEILED IN MOSCOW.
A bronze statue of underground singer Vladimir Vysotskii was unveiled on Moscow's Strastnoi Boulevard on 25 July, the 15th anniversary of the singer's death, Rossiiskaya gazeta and AFP reported. Vysotskii, who once sang, "They'll never give me a monument on Strastnoi Boulevard," attracted a huge following during the Soviet period for his irreverent lyrics. * Laura Belin

TUBERCULOSIS EPIDEMIC BLAMED ON HOMELESS.
Russia has registered a 2% infection rate for tuberculosis, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 26 July. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines state that 1% constitutes an epidemic. The newspaper blamed the epidemic on a lack of legislation enabling police to detain and screen homeless people. The paper did not mention that, according to WHO guidelines, tuberculosis is usually transmitted via close contact with an infected person and compounded by conditions of chronic poor nutrition and poverty. Those conditions are more commonly encountered in jails, schools, or within impoverished families than on streets in brief contacts with homeless people. About 70,000 adults contract tuberculosis in Russia every year, and the rate among children increased 30% between 1993 and 1994 to 3,500. * Alaina Lemon

NARCOTICS PRODUCED WITHIN STATE INSTITUTION.
Police discovered a narcotics laboratory within the walls of the Moscow State Textile Academy, ITAR-TASS reported in 25 July. The laboratory had been operating in secret for a year, producing about a kg of synthetic methadone. Six members of a group who produced and sold the drugs were arrested in Nizhnii Novgorod, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Although the drug trade is often seen as spreading primarily through non-Russian criminal networks, at least 50% of narcotics sold in the country are produced in Russian cities. Authorities believe that the narcotics were made mainly by a 28-year-old graduate student of the academy, and that distribution was managed by a specialist in chemistry and pharmacology. Both of the suspects are from Nizhnii Novgorod. * Alaina Lemon

MILITARY SAID TO HAVE POLLUTED ST. PETERSBURG REGION.
The Russian military is responsible for massive pollution problems in the St. Petersburg region, according to representatives of the Leningrad Military District preservation inspectorate quoted in the current issue of the English-language weekly St. Petersburg Press. The representatives, who were speaking at a conference, said military units in the area have had problems getting rid of rockets, artillery shells, and chemical weapons. Last June, a group of campers stumbled across an illegal chemical weapons testing site in the Lembolovskii district, 50 km north of St. Petersburg. * Doug Clarke

SOSKOVETS CALLS FOR MORE MILITARY COOPERATION WITH CHINA.
Following a 25 July meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Russia, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets called for further cooperation between Russia and China in the military sphere, ITAR-TASS reported. He suggested that a number of Russian defense plants in the Far East might take part in Russo-Chinese programs of military and technical cooperation. * Doug Clarke

RUSSIA LODGES PROTEST WITH LATVIA.
Russian diplomats in Latvia will lodge a formal protest with the Latvian government requesting a full and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the self-immolation of a Russian citizen in the Latvian city of Daugavpils, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told journalists on 25 July. Karasin noted that media reports have attributed the 13 July suicide of Ravil Yagudin to the Latvian Department of Citizenship and Immigration's refusal to grant him a residence permit, even though his wife and children live in Daugavpils. * Scott Parrish

SUBS TO LAY CABLE UNDER ARCTIC ICE?
A St. Petersburg naval defense plant is working on a program to use nuclear-powered submarines to lay communications cable under the Arctic ice, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. The "Malakhit" enterprise is designing the program to convert military submarines for this purpose at the request of the Russian Communication Ministry. A company spokesman told the agency that the first project would be to lay a fiber optic cable between the Kola Peninsula and Canada. According to the report, the problems associated with implementing this plan are "so complicated that international efforts" will be necessary to solve them. * Doug Clarke

HOSTILE TAKEOVER BID OF CHOCOLATE FACTORY FAILS.
Loyal workers and shareholders of the Red October chocolate factory defeated the hostile takeover bid by Koloss Food Company on 25 July, Russian and Western media reported the same day. Instead, Alliance-Menatep, the investment arm of the Menatep Bank which controls Koloss, will be offered two seats on the chocolate factory's board of directors. The bid has been closely watched by financial analysts because it involved Russia's first public tender offer and first public hostile takeover attempt. Many employees at the factory were worried that Koloss would lay-off a number of workers, while shareholders were concerned that product quality would suffer. To fend off the bid, Red October's board promised large benefits to workers if Koloss acquired a controlling interest. Fulfilling the promise would have made the takeover attempt much more expensive for Koloss. * Thomas Sigel

ILLARIONOV PESSIMISTIC ON ECONOMIC SITUATION.
Russia is nowhere near meeting IMF targets for the economy, particularly for inflation, and has no hope of improving the situation this year, according to Andrei Illarianov, director of the Institute of Economic Analysis. According to Russian media on 25 July, the independent economist noted that inflation was 6.7% in June and is likely to fall to 5% by August, but in September the rate will probably begin rising to reach 10% by the beginning of 1996. Illarionov blamed the Central Bank of Russia more than any other institution for the government's failure to achieve its economic goals. He said the bank undermined moves to achieve financial stability by engineering artificial devaluations of the ruble and by accumulating foreign exchange reserves. He also feared that the ruble would collapse after 1 October, the last day of the guaranteed ruble band. The budget calls for monthly inflation to be cut to 1% by the end of the year and for the deficit to be reduced to 7.9% of GNP. * Thomas Sigel



OPPOSITION FORCES MASSING ON AFGHAN-TAJIK BORDER.
Opposition militants are gathering on the Afghan side of that country's border with Tajikistan, according to military sources cited by ITAR-TASS. The 25 July report claims 800 Tajik rebels have taken up positions opposite the Moskovsky, Kalaikhun, and Khorog detachments of the CIS Border Forces. An additional 200 rebels are reported to be moving up from areas in Afghanistan. The military source said the groups would probably attempt to break through the border and hide in the Pamir Mountains in order to carry out terrorist activities in Tajikistan. To counter the threat, Dushanbe is sending two units from the Kurgan-Tyube region to reinforce the border. The two units have been engaged in a rivalry. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 July.) * Bruce Pannier

GREECE AND ARMENIA PLEDGE MILITARY COOPERATION.
Greek Chief of Staff Admiral Christos Lymberis concluded what he called "very productive" talks with representatives of the Armenian government aimed at strengthening military cooperation between the two countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. The Armenian Defense Ministry invited Lymberis to the talks, which is teh first visist by a high-level Greek military official. During the three-day visit Lymberis met with various government ministers and President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. In a likely reference to Turkey, he said military cooperation between Greece and Armenia "is not directed against third countries." * Lowell Bezanis

KYRGYZ TROOPS TO PARTICIPATE IN NATO EXERCISES.
The Kyrgyz Defense Ministry announced on 25 July that a platoon of Kyrgyz soldiers will take part in NATO exercises to be held in the U.S. from 6 to 28 August, according to ITAR-TASS. Although Kyrgyzstan joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program in June 1994, the country's neutrality status prevents it from becoming a member of NATO. * Bruce Pannier

CIS AGRICULTURAL COUNCIL MEETS.
The latest CIS intergovernmental council on agriculture session in Erevan should produce an agreement on creating a common agricultural market in the CIS, Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Harkun told ITAR-TASS. The council session that opened on 25 July examined land reform in Armenia, the only country in the CIS that has implemented a complete privatization program. * Michael Mihalka



EASTERN AGRICULTURE "N0 THREAT" TO EU.
Reports released on 25 July by the European Commission paint a bleak picture of agriculture in the 10 East European countries that have signed association agreements with the EU. The reports claim that agriculture in these countries poses no threat to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, according to international agencies. Eastern Europe's food industry is reportedly so inefficient that it cannot "meet growing demands regarding quality, variety, and general marketing of products." Moreover, problems in East European agriculture reflect structural economic problems that will take years to overcome. EU Agricultural Commissioner Franz Fischler said, "We are not going to see the Community flooded by products from these countries." The EU trade surplus in agriculture has been growing since 1992. * Michael Mihalka

ACTING UKRAINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER RESIGNS OVER PATRIARCH'S FUNERAL.
International news agencies on 25 July reported that acting Ukrainian Justice Minister Vasyl Onopenko resigned the same day for what he called the illegal use of force by riot police at the funeral of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 July 1995). Onopenko said it was "the country's most tragic (event) since the Chornobyl disaster." He also complained of a lack of support from Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who has yet to name a new justice minister to his newly appointed government. (A recent report by UNIAR that Kuchma has appointed Volodymyr Stretovych as justice minister was incorrect.) Onopenko said law enforcement and internal security officials failed to inform him about what happened at the funeral. The Ukrainian government has yet to resolve the controversy over the patriarch's final resting place. He remains buried in a makeshift grave in front of St. Sophia's Cathedral. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE TO SET UP NEW ANTI-TERRORIST UNIT.
The 20-26 July issue of Obshchaya gazeta reported that the Ukrainian government has decided to set up a new anti-terrorist unit. Lt. Col. Anatolii Lahoda, who will head the unit, said only one-fifth of its members will be officers; the remainder will be regular conscripts. He also said that the fight against terrorism has not received priority, noting that the anti-terrorist unit "Alpha" has never been used to combat such crimes. Lahoda said he hoped terrorist crimes would decrease with the establishment of the new unit. * Ustina Markus

UKRAINE CONCERNED ABOUT IMF TARGETS.
Reuters on 25 July reported that Ukraine is concerned about the economic austerity program it must adhere to in order to have the third tranche of a $1.57 billion IMF stand-by loan released. The IMF has insisted that Ukraine reduce inflation to 1-2% by December and that IMF targets for budget deficits and year-end inflation are non-negotiable. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said year-end inflation of 4% is less likely to strangle the country's industrial base. Ukrainian officials have not yet identified targets they want changed, which the IMF regards as a sign that Kiev will try to meet the targets. A two-week working visit to Ukraine by an IMF delegation ends later this week. * Ustina Markus

UKRAINE WILL NOT BLOCK TRANSIT OF 14TH ARMY WEAPONS.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov told a Kiev news conference on 25 July that Ukraine has no objection to the transit of armaments of the Russian 14th Army across its territory, ITAR-TASS reported. Shmarov had just met with visiting Moldovan Defense Minister Pavel Creanga. The two leaders signed a protocol on military cooperation. Creanga was quoted as saying that Moldova will give preference to cooperation "with its closest neighbors--Ukraine and Romania." * Doug Clarke

SUSPECTED RADIUM SALESMEN ARRESTED IN ESTONIA.
Estonian security police on 24 July arrested two men in Tallinn after finding 1,720 grams of radium 226 in their car, Western agencies reported the next day. The deputy director of the security police indicated that the radium was smuggled into Estonia and that more people were probably involved in the operation. According to an anonymous police source, the suspects hoped to sell the radium abroad for $3.06 million. * Saulius Girnius

LATVIA OPENS STOCK EXCHANGE.
The Riga Stock Exchange reopened on 25 July after being closed by the Soviet authorities in 1940, Reuters reported. Speaking at the opening ceremonies, Prime Minister Maris Gailis said: "We connect our hopes for economic development on the establishment of a securities market." Only four companies were listed, and the volume of shares traded amounted to only $354, with additional sales worth $7,676 for government bonds. The exchange is modeled on the Lithuanian National Stock Exchange, established two years ago, and will initially operate on Tuesdays only. * Saulius Girnius

YELTSIN INVITED TO LITHUANIA.
Sergei Filatov, head of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's administration, said Lithuanian parliament chairman Ceslovas Jursenas has invited Yeltsin to visit Lithuania before the December parliamentary elections, BNS reported. Filatov added that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin planned to visit Lithuania in the near future. He noted that he had discussed with Jursenas the possibility of signing a bilateral agreement on double citizenship. * Saulius Girnius

POLISH COMMISSION RAISES 1995 WAGE CEILING.
Representatives of the Polish government, the trade unions, and employers' organizations agreed on 25 July to raise the ceiling for wage increases this year from 23.5% to 27%. Solidarity had demanded that the limit be raised to 30% to compensate for higher-than-expected inflation, Rzeczpospolita reported. The ceiling is merely "informational" under the relaxed wage control legislation that took force this year, Deputy Labor Minister Andrzej Baczkowski told reporters. But directors of state firms can face sanctions if excessive wage hikes undermine company finances. * Louisa Vinton

CZECH PARLIAMENT LIFTS DEPUTY'S IMMUNITY.
Recalled from its summer recess for a special session, the Czech parliament on 25 July lifted the immunity of extreme-rightist Republican deputy Jan Vik. Police requested Vik be stripped of his immunity to face charges over the distribution of leaflets claiming that the Czech and German governments have made an agreement to rehabilitate Sudeten Germans (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 and 18 July 1995). The vote was 73 in favor, 21 against and 35 abstentions. The seven-hour session, broadcast live by Czech Television, was repeatedly interrupted by Republican supporters, including party leader Miroslav Sladek, in the public gallery. After the vote, they shouted "Pigs, pigs" at the deputies. Vik, 26, was not immediately arrested after the vote. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE DUBCEK'S DEATH.
Social Democratic Party (SDSS) Deputy Chairman Miroslav Spejl said all parties in the Slovak parliament are agreed on the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the death of Prague Spring leader Alexander Dubcek. Dubcek, a former SDSS chairman, died in November 1992 following complications from a car accident. According to Spejl, the commission should be established in September, and all parliamentary parties will be represented, Pravda reported on 26 July. * Sharon Fisher

CONTROVERSY RAGES OVER LEADERS OF SLOVAKIA'S HUNGARIAN MINORITY.
Recent statements made by the chairmen of the three ethnic Hungarian parties represented in the parliament (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 July 1995) continue to cause controversy in Slovakia. Sme on 26 July reported that the Slovak National Party has requested that the attorney-general start criminal proceedings against the three chairmen. The party said it aims to pass a law on the protection of the republic at the September parliamentary session. The Slovak Green Alternative (SZA), which is also allied with the ruling coalition, proposed on 25 July that a new round of talks between the Slovak and Hungarian premiers be launched to clarify certain aspects of the bilateral state treaty. Also on 25 July, the three Hungarian party chairmen met with US Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Russell, but no information about the meeting was released to the press. Meanwhile, the Slovak Education Ministry has expressed "concern" about a protest demonstration by ethnic Hungarians scheduled for 27 July in Debrecin, Pravda reported. The ethnic Hungarians want to protest a draft law on the state language and the implementation of "alternative" (bilingual) education. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN POLICE ARREST FORMER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL SECURITY CHIEF.
Victor Palivoda, head of security for former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, has been arrested in Hungary, AFP reported. A police spokesman said Palivoda was taken into custody on 11 July in Budapest. He is wanted by Interpol and the Ukrainian authorities on embezzlement charges. The Hungarian Justice Ministry will decide the date for his extradition to Ukraine, the spokesman added. * Jan Cleave



KARADZIC, MLADIC, MARTIC INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMES.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on 25 July formally indicted 24 more Serbs for crimes against humanity, bringing the total to 46. Heading the list are Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic, his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, and Krajina Serb "President" Milan Martic, AFP reported. The indictment said that the two Bosnian Serbs "intended to destroy Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat people as national, ethnic, or religious groups and killed, seriously injured, and deliberately inflicted upon them conditions intended to bring about their physical destruction." Martic was singled out for the rocket attacks on Zagreb in May. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 26 July that not everyone has such a bleak view of the Serbs. Dutch UNPROFOR commander Colonel Karremans said he admired the Serbs' military feat in taking Srebrenica, while Dutch army commander General Couzy denied that genocide had taken place in Srebrenica. * Patrick Moore

INHABITANTS OF ZEPA FLEE TO THE HILLS.
International media reported on 25 July that Bosnian Serb forces entered the UN-declared "safe area" town of Zepa. Most of the inhabitants, including Bosnian government soldiers, had fled to the surrounding hills, caves, and forests, where they prefer to fight and face mines and booby traps rather than be massacred. Wounded and infirm civilians were evacuated to government-held territory in buses and have begun to reach Sarajevo and Kladanj. Some told reporters that Serbian heavy weapons, including 15 tanks, had decided Zepa's fate. The Bosnian government wants the UN to airlift its soldiers out of the area to make sure they are not killed, as happened in Srebrenica. * Patrick Moore

WHO IS NEXT?
The Serbs appear to have Gorazde next on their list, although the U.S. State Department has warned them to be cautious, the VOA said. NATO continued on 25 July to be hamstrung in drawing up a plan for air strikes should the Serbs attack Gorazde or the other remaining "safe areas." The problem is that the alliance has conceded the UN's right to a veto over strikes, and it can only hope that Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali will delegate such authority to a UNPROFOR commander on the ground. The International Herald Tribune on 26 July reported that the Rapid Reaction Force may not be doing much in Sarajevo, either. In response to a question about whether British and French forces will open the supply road on Mt. Igman, a British spokesman said it is not an "easy military option" since it would involve taking land and silencing Serbian guns. On 26 July, one of those guns shelled downtown Sarajevo, seriously wounding six, Reuters reported. * Patrick Moore

ATTACK ON BIHAC CONTINUES.
Meanwhile in the Bihac pocket, Croatian forces have begun massing and firing on Serbian positions. Bosnian government commander General Atif Dudakovic told Croatian Television on 25 July that 30,000 Serbs and Muslim renegades are attacking him and the Croats. Croatian media reported Serbian shelling of Livno and of parts of eastern Slavonia. Meanwhile, indignation is growing worldwide over inaction against the Serbs. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told Reuters of his "disgust" for Western inaction and said he is willing to face sanctions if he send arms to the Bosnian government. Saudi Arabian King Fahd called on the UN to lift the embargo, and similar sentiments have come from top officials in Egypt, Vecernji list reported. The International Herald Tribune on 25 July and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the following day noted growing anger over Bosnia in Muslim countries in general. Jewish leaders in Germany have also spoken out. * Patrick Moore

REACTIONS TO ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW.
The promulgation of a new education law by Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 24 July has sparked various reactions. The extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party--an ally of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania--was one of the first organizations to express "satisfaction" over the new legislation. Most political parties, including several in opposition, praised the government's determination not to give in to what they described as "pressure from the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR)." But Horia Rusu, chairman of the Liberal Party '93, was quoted as saying that the UDMR's protest was justified because Romania was not abiding by international norms on education for ethnic minorities. UDMR Chairman Bela Marko, in a letter to European Parliament Chairman Klaus Hansch, said his party was disappointed with Bucharest's reaction to the EP's recent resolution on minority and human rights abuses in Romania. * Dan Ionescu

GAGAUZ TROOPS SURRENDER ARMS.
Members of the "Budjak" battalion in Moldova's autonomous Gagauz region have begun laying down arms and ammunition, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli, who observed the operation on 24 July, was quoted as saying that those who voluntarily surrender arms before 27 August will not be prosecuted. He added that troops in Ciadir-Lunga and Vulcanesti appeared more willing to abide by the decision than those in the region's capital, Comrat. Armed Gagauz troops were active in Moldova's southern districts during the early 1990s. Their immunity from prosecution is provided for by the Law on Amnesty, adopted by the Moldovan parliament on 22 July, which grants immunity to those who committed crimes during armed conflicts in Gagauz-Yeri, the Dniester region, and the town of Bender (Tighina). The law was criticized by Moldova's main opposition force, the Christian Democratic Popular Front. * Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION ARGUES OVER COOPERATION IN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) and the People's Union (NS) on 25 July issued differing statements on cooperating in the upcoming local elections, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The NS said the possibilities for talks at the local level have been exhausted and insists on talks between the central leaderships. The SDS, for its part, still wants talks at the regional level. Neither formation is willing to withdraw its candidate for Sofia mayor, even though the opposition has agreed to try to find a common candidate. Stefan Sofiyanski has been nominated by the SDS, and former interim premier Reneta Indzhova is the NS candidate. Meanwhile, Executive Director of the First Private Bank Ventseslav Yosifov announced he will also run. Duma reports that the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party will support him. * Stefan Krause

RUMP YUGOSLAV HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER ON BULGARIAN MINORITY.
Margit Savovic on 25 July met with Ginyo Ganev, chairman of the Sofia-based Agency for Bulgarians Living Abroad, Bulgarian media reported the same day. She said that the 27,000 Bulgarians living in eastern Serbia have every possibility to keep up their national identity and traditions but added that the state cannot subsidize them because of the UN sanctions. She denied the existence of blacklists of Bulgarians who are not allowed to travel to Bulgaria, saying the Bulgarian authorities should request information from rump Yugoslav institutions rather than trust "other sources." * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT DRAFTS LAND LAW.
The Albanian government has drafted a controversial law regulating the buying and selling of real estate, BETA reported on 25 July. The parliament is expected to vote on the law soon. Until 1991, land in Albania was either communal or state-owned. Thereafter, it was divided up between those who worked on it. Some opposition parties have criticized the draft law, arguing that it would undermine the property rights of those who owned land before communism. * Fabian Schmidt

ETHNIC TURKISH POLITICIAN KILLED IN GREECE.
Former parliamentary deputy Ahmet Sadik was killed on 24 July when his car crashed into a tractor in northern Greece, Reuters reported the following day. Sadik, who was a deputy from 1989 to 1993, was one of the most influential politicians representing the 120,000-member Muslim community in Greece. In 1994, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison for spreading false information after he accused Greek officials of suppressing the Muslim minority. But he was allowed to pay a fine instead of serving time. Despite Greek objections, Sadik always described himself as Turkish. He failed to be reelected in 1993 after a 3% threshold for entry to the parliament was introduced. * Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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