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.
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. *
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
NINE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES REGISTERED IN SVERDLOVSK.
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.
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
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. *
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.
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
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.
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
CONTROVERSY RAGES OVER LEADERS OF SLOVAKIA'S HUNGARIAN MINORITY.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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