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Newsline - July 31, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 147, 31 July 1995
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING: SECRET DECREES ON CHECHNYA LEGAL.
Representatives of the Russian Constitutional Court announced on 31 July that the court ruled that two secret decrees issued by the president and government authorizing the military campaign in Chechnya were fully in accordance with the constitution, an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow reported the same day. The court also decided that it was beyond its competence to rule on two other decrees relating to Chechnya whose legitimacy had been challenged by parliamentary representatives. At press time, more details about the ruling were not available. Deputies from both the State Duma and the Federation Council had challenged the decrees on several grounds; their main argument was that troops cannot be deployed on the territory of the Russian Federation unless a presidential decree establishing a state of emergency has been published. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

MILITARY ACCORD SIGNED IN GROZNY . . .
Russian and Chechen negotiators initialed a military agreement on 30 July but again postponed the resolution of troublesome political issues, Western and Russian agencies reported. The long-anticipated agreement provides for the cessation of military activities, a prisoner exchange, the disarmament of Chechen fighters, and the withdrawal of most federal troops from the republic. A mixed commission will monitor its implementation. After a three-day break, talks on the political status of Chechnya are scheduled to resume on 3 August. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BUT DUDAEV REJECTS IT.
Chechen President Dudaev reportedly rejected the agreement, telling an RFE/RL correspondent on 31 July that it "had no legal force" because the Russian delegation had resorted to "blackmail, threats, and physical pressure" to coerce the Chechen delegation into signing it. He added that he had not seen the accord, and it is "not valid" without his "confirmation." Dudaev also rejected a provision of the accord that calls for the surrender of Shamil Basaev, leader of the raid on Budennovsk, saying, "a deal on that matter is inappropriate." Russian commentators have likewise expressed doubts that the military accord will lead to lasting peace in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN AND CLINTON DISCUSS BOSNIA.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin discussed the situation in Bosnia by telephone with U.S. President Bill Clinton on 28 July, Western agencies reported. Yeltsin reiterated Russia's commitment to finding a "political solution" and expressed concern that lifting the UN arms embargo on Bosnia could lead to an escalation of the fighting. Speaking in Brunei, on 30 July, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Yeltsin had sent the UN Security Council a proposal to dispatch Russian troops as reinforcements for peacekeepers in the UN "safe area" of Gorazde. In Moscow, presidential adviser Yurii Baturin warned in a 29 July interview with NTV that if the U.S. unilaterally lifts the arms embargo against the Bosnian government, as recently called for by the U.S. Senate, it would strengthen "hawks" in the Duma, like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who want Russia to unilaterally ignore the UN embargo against Serbia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN PLANS TO VETO FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW.
President Yeltsin told Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko that he will veto the law on the formation of the Federation Council in a telephone conversation on 28 July, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin will also appeal to the Constitutional Court to define exactly what the constitution states about forming the upper house. If no compromise can be found by the December elections, Yeltsin will issue a presidential decree to define the membership of the Federation Council. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN PROMOTES KORZHAKOV, REARRANGES SECURITY SERVICES.
Yeltsin promoted the head of the Presidential Security Service (SB), Aleksandr Korzhakov, from major general to lieutenant general, NTV reported on 29 July. In a separate decree, Yeltsin made the SB part of his administration, but explicitly stated that Chief-of-Staff Sergei Filatov would not have jurisdiction over it. Additionally, Yeltsin subordinated the formerly independent Main Protection Administration (GUO) to Korzhakov's Security Service. The previous head of the GUO, Mikhail Barsukov, was recently named to head the Federal Security Service. The new head of the GUO will be Yurii Krapivin, Barsukov's former first deputy, who was also promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

REACTION TO SECURITY RESTRUCTURING.
NTV speculated on 30 July that the restructuring could presage an attempt by Yeltsin to bring the power ministries under Korzhakov's control. The decision on the GUO "seriously strengthened Korzhakov's political position" and gave him access to more information, NTV concluded. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin apparently knew nothing about the decree before it was adopted. Aides to presidential adviser for national security Yurii Baturin and legal affairs adviser Mikhail Krasnov said they had nothing to do with Yeltsin's decrees, NTV reported on 29 July. Filatov refused to comment in detail but did not deny that the decree had not been checked with him beforehand. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

TRETYAKOV: NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA TO RESUME PUBLICATION SOON.
Nezavisimaya gazeta has received credit from an unnamed Russian commercial bank and will resume publication soon at its previous circulation of 56,000 copies, the newspaper's editor-in-chief Vitalii Tretyakov told Ekho Moskvy on 30 July. Tretyakov said work on transforming the newspaper into a joint-stock company continues. Financial problems forced Nezavisimaya gazeta to suspend publication on 24 May. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION TRIES TO LIMIT CANDIDATES' USE OF MASS MEDIA BEFORE CAMPAIGN.
In a document approved and released on 28 July, the Central Electoral Commission asked all politicians running for parliament to refrain from using media appearances for campaign purposes until they are officially registered as candidates, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. In addition, the commission asked editors not to give air time or space in print to any political figures, "regardless of their official position and political views, for campaign agitation" before the campaign officially begins on 17 September, three months before scheduled Duma elections. The commission did not specify how remarks by government officials or Duma deputies in the mass media concerning policy matters could be distinguished from campaigning. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

JOURNALIST: PROCURATOR GENERAL'S OFFICE AGAINST NTV.
Journalist Yevgenii Kiselev, the moderator of the NTV weekly program "Itogi," suggested on 30 July that the Procurator General's Office is pursuing a "coordinated" campaign against NTV. On 13 July, procurators began investigating NTV journalist Yelena Masyuk for her 26 June interview of Chechen fighter Shamil Basaev, who led the raid on Budennovsk. If Masyuk is prosecuted and convicted for not revealing Basaev's whereabouts to the authorities, she could receive up to five years in prison. On 14 July, procurators opened a criminal case against the NTV puppet show "Kukly" for allegedly insulting the president and other high government officials. Kiselev charged that the procurators' decision to initiate both investigations almost simultaneously could not be a coincidence. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

BORDER GUARD GOES ON RAMPAGE.
A border guard stationed at the Popova Island outpost in far-eastern Russia fired on his comrades-in-arms while on guard duty early in the morning of 30 July, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Russian TV reported that his fellow border guards had accused him of being an informer and had threatened him. The son of the guards' commander, two sergeants, and two privates were killed and six other people were wounded, including an officer's wife. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

EXPLOSION IN CAR PARK CALLED TERRORISM.
Five cars and a minibus were destroyed in an explosion in Vladivostok, Interfax reported on 31 July. The explosion occurred in the parking lot of the joint-stock company Dalzavodservis, and Interfax referred to it as an act of terrorism. The three-year-old Dalzavodservis company buys cars in Japan and sells them in Russia's eastern territories. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

BURYAT FUNDS GO TO BAIKAL.
The government of Buryatiya has allocated almost 10 million rubles ($2,300) to the preservation of Baikal, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. The money will pay for the construction and reconstruction of heating sources for settlements in the reservoir zone of Baikal and for equipping the republic's buses with exhaust filters. The presidential press service and the government stated that the measures are part of a complex federal program for preserving Baikal. ITAR-TASS did not mention whether any funds had been allocated to maintaining the ecological balance of the lake itself, which is affected in several areas by industrial waste. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSO-CHINESE BORDER GROUP ENDS MEETING.
The head of Russian delegation to the sixth round of the Russian-Chinese Border Demarcation Commission expressed satisfaction with the results of the latest talks. The Foreign Ministry's special envoy, Genrich Kireev, told ITAR-TASS on 28 July that the commission had "settled many issues" and signed several protocols at its meetings in Chita. A seventh round is to be held at a future date in China. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

SECURITIES EXCHANGE COMMISSION APPROVES MUTUAL FUND RULES.
Seeking to attract billions of dollars hoarded by ordinary Russians, Russia's Securities Exchange Commission approved rules to create a network of mutual funds, Russian and Western media reported on 28 July. The funds, in contrast to the so-called investment funds that mushroomed after the country launched its privatization campaign, will be required to provide detailed information about their investment activities and full financial details to shareholders, according to Dmitrii Vasilev, the Securities Exchange Commission director. Last year, thousands of investors lost money by investing in pyramid schemes. Investors are also distrustful of depositing money in banks, for fear that opening accounts will lead to financial scrutiny from the tax authorities or even the mafia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL BANK TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OVER HARD CURRENCY.
Russia's Central Bank and the State Customs Committee announced a new measure effective on 1 November that tightens control on cash flowing abroad, Segodnya reported on 29 July. The rules have been designed to curtail the main channel of capital flight, namely money transfers under fake import deals, according to acting Central Bank Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova. Under the new rules, an importer must give the bank a customs declaration certifying that goods have been delivered or an authorized notification that they had been dispatched before making a money transfer at a bank. Paramonova said a bank would need "convincing guarantees" that goods would be delivered in case of advance payment. The banker said the breach of import rules costs Russia $300-400 million a month. Central bank officials estimate overall capital flight from Russia at $30 billion since the start of 1990. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 147, 31 July 1995
NEW ARMENIAN MINISTER OF INFORMATION.
Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan's nomination of the 43-year-old philologist and poet Hrachya Tamrazyan to head a new Ministry of Information that will coordinate media policy nationwide appears to be a badly-needed public relations exercise following international criticism of the 5 July parliamentary elections. A former head of the state publishing house, Tamrazyan is a supporter of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, with whom he worked at the Matenadaran in the early 1980s. He is not, however, a member of the ruling Armenian National Movement; his political affiliation is characterized by RFE/RL's Armenian service as "liberal." The nomination has not yet been approved by the new parliament. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIKISTAN'S PRISONS.
Inmates at Tajikistan's prisons and camps are starving, 80% have no footwear, and all are in need of medical attention, according to an interview with Djumboi Niyezov, the recently elected chairman of the banned Democratic Party of Tajikistan, published in Obshchaya gazeta on 27 July. Niyezov, who was himself imprisoned in the overcrowded Yavansky camp until 1994 when he was released in a prisoner-exchange deal, said 10-12% of the inmates in his camp were political prisoners. Most had been arrested on charges of "illegally storing weapons" or drug possession. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

REFERENDUM DATE SET IN KAZAKHSTAN.
A constitutional referendum will be held in Kazakhstan on 30 August, according to a recently published presidential decree, cited by Reuters on 31 July. A draft of the constitution will be published on 1 August. Public debate on the merits of the constitution that hands sweeping powers to President Nursultan Nazarbaev is to continue until the referendum is held. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

MINISTER SAYS GEORGIA WANTS RUSSIAN BASES TO STAY.
Lt. Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze, the Georgian defense minister, told a visiting NATO commander that Russian military bases must remain in Georgia because Russia is its "major partner," ITAR-TASS reported on 28 July. Nadibaidze met with British Lt.-Gen. Sir Jeremy McKenzie, and was said to have briefed him on the Georgian armed forces. The NATO delegation also discussed Georgia's individual Partnership for Peace program. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 147, 31 July 1995

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

NEW APPOINTMENTS TO UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has made several new appointments to the recently named government, Ukrainian TV reported on 27 July. He appointed Vasyl Yevtukhov, a leader of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Ukraine, as deputy prime minister for the energy complex. Former Deputy Premier Ihor Mitiukov is special representative of the government to the European Union in charge of coordinating international financial assistance to Ukraine. Kuchma also re-appointed Mykhailo Kaskevych as labor minister and named Mykhailo Kovalko to head a new State Committee on Energy Conservation. Finally, he liquidated two state committees, on rare metals and on the light and textile industries, by merging them with various ministries. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.


UKRAINE SWITCHES CHANNELS FOR RUSSIAN PUBLIC TV BROADCASTS.
Zinovii Kulyk, director of Ukrainian State TV and Radio, has announced that as of 1 August, Russian Public TV will no longer broadcast on Channel 1, the national channel with the strongest signal, UNIAR and Reuters reported on 27 July. The Russian broadcasts will be switched to Ukrainian TV's Channel 2, cutting back its potential audience from 92% of viewers to 70% nationally. He explained the move was prompted by Russian Public TV's failure to pay in full its annual fees, around $8.8 million. Russian Public TV is the most popular channel in Ukraine because its programs tend to be of a higher quality than those of Ukrainian TV. Many nationalists from western Ukraine, as well as Kulyk himself, have frequently complained that Russian coverage of Ukrainian affairs is biased toward Russian interests. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

PRIVATIZATION FALTERING IN BELARUS.
Belarusian Radio on 28 July reported that Belarus has not been able to privatize state agricultural enterprises because of a unspecified problems. Earlier this year, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a program calling for the privatization of such entities by the beginning of July. In all, 75 state and 606 communal enterprises in agriculture and food production are slated to be privatized this year. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

FIRST CITIZENS TAKE ALLEGIANCE OATH UNDER NEW LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW.
Forty-three people on 28 July became the first individuals to obtain Latvian citizenship under the citizenship law passed in 1994, BNS reported. Naturalization Board Chairwoman Eizenija Aldermane told reporters that the government will probably grant citizenship to about 200 people during the next week and to about 5,000 by the end of the year. The candidates must pass tests in the Latvian language, history, and constitution and must also swear an oath of allegiance. Former employees of the KGB cannot claim Latvian citizenship. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIA'S BUDGET REVENUES ON TARGET.
Finance Minister Reinoldijus Sarkinas on 28 July announced that Lithuania's budget revenues in the first half of the year totaled 1.763 billion litai ($441 million) or 99.7% of the planned amount, BNS reported. The collection of an additional 149 million litai in the second quarter of the year erased almost all the large deficit of the first quarter. The collection of all types of taxes improved significantly. The planned six-month revenues for individual income taxes were fulfilled 94.1%, for corporation profit taxes 93.5%, for value-added tax 96.3%, and 170.6% for excise taxes. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH LAW FACES CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE.
President Lech Walesa announced in Gdansk on 30 July that he will challenge the new "commercialization" law before the Constitutional Tribunal, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The Sejm overrode the president's veto on 21 July. The president is expected to question provisions in the law that require the Sejm's approval for privatization in selected sectors, on the grounds that this violates the division of powers among executive, legislative, and judicial branches. "We cannot destroy what we have achieved through five years of economic reform to serve the interests of a single social group," Walesa said, referring to the ruling coalition. The Sejm can vote to overturn Constitutional Tribunal decisions. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

ARE BOSNIAN SERBS USING CZECH "STEALTH-SPOTTER?"
NATO officials have "serious suspicions" that a Czech electronic system that can detect the latest "stealth" aircraft is being used by Bosnian Serb forces, Mlada fronta dnes reported on 31 July, quoting unnamed sources close to NATO headquarters. The daily said suspicions that the "Tamara" detection system was in use grew from the shooting down of an American F-16 fighter over Bosnia-Herzegovina in early June. The Czech Foreign Ministry said no Tamara system has been exported to the former Yugoslavia since the Czech Republic came into existence. The government on 26 July authorized the makers of Tamara, which detects the electronic emissions from a target aircraft's avionics, to export one of the devices. Mlada fronta dnes reported on 29 July that the recipient will be Kyrgyzstan. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES MORE LEGISLATION.
Michal Kovac on 28 July returned two more laws to the parliament for further discussion: one on investment firms and funds and another on securing state holdings in strategic companies. The previous day, he vetoed a privatization amendment canceling the coupon privatization program and replacing it with a bond scheme. The President's Office said the legislation would limit the rights of owners and change Slovak regulations retroactively, without consideration for the shareholders' wishes, Pravda and TASR reported. With regard to the privatization amendment, Kovac's office said it was marked by a "basic change of concept," which endangers the stability of the legal system guaranteed by the constitution. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK OFFICIALS ATTACK U.S. MEDIA.
Roman Hofbauer, a parliamentary deputy of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, is currently leading an attack on the U.S. media. Hofbauer sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Russell complaining that the U.S. press uses sources originating outside Slovakia and reports on Slovakia's political scene in an "non-objective and disparaging way," TASR reported on 26 July. The U.S. Embassy responded by issuing a statement saying that Hofbauer "demonstrated regrettable ignorance about how the independent press functions in a democratic society." In an interview with TASR on 28 July, Hofbauer said his complaints were based on articles sent to him by Slovak Americans who feel "deeply provoked and offended." The Permanent Conference of the Civic Institute on 28 July called on the Slovak Foreign Ministry to distance itself from Hofbauer's statements, noting that they put the country's foreign policy orientation into doubt. Meanwhile, Slovak officials have also launched attacks against RFE/RL's Slovak Service, whose license is up for renewal this year. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 147, 31 July 1995
TUDJMAN STANDS FIRM ON KRAJINA.
International media on 31 July reported that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman called a six-point agreement between the Krajina Serb rebels and UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi "unacceptable." The Serbs pledged to stop shelling Bihac and to pull their troops out of Bosnia, although they have previously denied involvement there and although the plan has no timetable. The Serbs would have received some benefits, including a share of aid shipments and a promise that UNCRO would deploy on Mt. Dinara, from which the Croats can shell Knin. Tudjman said instead that UNCRO must be stationed on all of Croatia's frontiers and that "this is particularly urgent because in recent days there have been new shipments of troops and equipment from the [rump] Yugoslav army across the Danube." He added that the Serbs must join serious talks about the reintegration of Krajina into Croatia. This includes reopening pipeline, railway, and highway links as well as guaranteeing the Serbs some autonomy in the Glina and Knin areas and a package of rights as an ethnic minority. Tudjman on 29 July warned the Serbs to negotiate or be reincorporated into Croatia by force. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

MLADIC SAYS CROATS "WILL PAY DEARLY."
Bosnian Croat and Croatian units on 28 July took Glamoc and the key town of Grahovo, which controls land communications between Knin and Bosnian Serb territory. Serbian refugees have been fleeing to Knin ever since, but UN officials on 31 July did not provide an estimate of how many people have been involved. Figures of about 5,000 refugees were given on 28 July. Krajina and Bosnian Serb leaders subsequently declared heightened states of emergency in their respective areas. Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic told Tanjug on 30 July that the Croats "will pay dearly" for their conquests. Some commentators noted that his men still control the high ground around the two towns and that the Serbs elsewhere might be tempted to fire rockets at Zagreb or shell the Dalmatian tourist centers. Fighting around Bihac appears to have subsided amid reports that the Croats are consolidating their gains while some Krajina Serb units are leaving to defend Knin. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

DID THE DUTCH AID MASSACRE OF MUSLIMS?
The daily De Volkskrant on 28 July wrote that the Dutch UNPROFOR commander had made a deal with Mladic whereby the Dutch could leave Srebrenica but Muslim men between 17 and 60 would be taken and "debriefed." It now seems certain that many or most of the men from Srebrenica were massacred and that a similar fate met the men from Zepa who did not flee into the woods. The French group Doctors of the World on 30 July said that military-aged men from both "safe areas" had "completely disappeared." The BBC on 29 July reported that Zepa had been looted and burned, while its Muslim civilian negotiator had been "detained" and his military counterpart had "disappeared." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

MAZOWIECKI FEARS FOR THE MISSING.
The BBC on 29 July quoted former UN human rights envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki as saying that witnesses told him of having seen decapitated and limbless corpses, while others spoke of Serbian soldiers carrying the heads and limbs of their victims. He said he feared that at least half of those still missing have met grisly deaths. Mazowiecki was speaking in Poland after having resigned his post in protest over the failure of the international community to act against genocide in Srebrenica in Zepa. He pointed out that "cutting off noses is not a civilized action, nor is silent consent." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

BELGRADE CAUTIOUS ON KRAJINA . . .
Official Belgrade reaction to developments in and around Krajina was muted, international media reported. As Croatian and Bosnian Croat troops moved toward Knin, the Krajina capital currently held by rebel Croat Serbs, Belgrade refrained from offering them direct support, calling instead for a diplomatic resolution to the situation. AFP reported federal rump Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic as saying that the rump Yugoslavia "demands that all warring parties meet immediately around the negotiating table, without pre-conditions." BETA added that Lilic also renewed calls for lifting international sanctions against Belgrade, which, he said, would serve to promote regional peace and frustrate the ambitions of "extremist elements" advocating war. AFP reported that Belgrade failed to back calls by the Krajina Serb mission in Belgrade for a rally to protest what the mission dubbed "Croatian aggression." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BUT CONDEMNS CROATIA.
Meanwhile, Belgrade has condemned Croatia for what was described as Zagreb's "aggressive behavior" in Bosnia-Herzegovina, AFP reported. Reuters on 30 July reported that retreating Bosnian Serb forces in the area called for Belgrade's direct intervention on their behalf but received no direct commitment from the Serbian capital. Belgrade, however, appealed for "energetic international political action" to halt Croatian "aggression." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.


FOURTEEN MACEDONIAN OFFICIALS SACKED FOR CORRUPTION.
The Macedonian government has sacked 14 senior officials in an anti-corruption campaign over two weeks, Reuters reported on 28 July. According to government spokesman Ismail Gjuner, no ministers were being held responsible. Those dismissed include Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Dimitar Belcev, Urban Development Ministry Under-Secretary Bogdan Karanfilovski, and a high-ranking official from the Interior Ministry, Blagoja Toskovski. The dismissals are part of a major purge ahead of elections next year. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ON EMBARGO AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
The Romanian government has again rejected accusations in the independent media that it broke the UN embargo against the rump Yugoslavia. A spokesman for the government was quoted by Radio Bucharest on 28 July as saying that limited oil shipments to the rump Yugoslavia were approved by the UN Security Council to help maintain a joint Romanian-Yugoslav power station on the Danube. The government-backed Vocea Romaniei wrote the next day that Petre Mihai Bacanu, head of the daily Romania libera, will probably be asked to pay 30 billion lei (some $15 million) in damages for having alleged in an 26 July article that the cabinet endorsed oil contraband with Serbia. Meanwhile, The New York Times on 30 July reported numerous cases of Romanian oil smuggling into Serbia, including the overtanking of Yugoslav passenger jets during stopovers in Timisoara. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

14TH ARMY RESUMES AMMUNITION DESTRUCTION.
Russian troops in the Transdniester region of Moldova have resumed the destruction of old ammunition, their commander told ITAR-TASS on 27 July, one day after the operation was halted by local authorities. Maj. Gen. Valerii Yevnevich said that a new site has been chosen for the destruction some 25 km from the town of Rybnitsa and 3.5 km from the nearest residential area. Yevnevich estimated that all the old ammunition would be destroyed by 15 September. He said that the troops were currently disposing of mines made in 1936. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS HOLD PARTY CONFERENCE.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party on 28-29 July held a national party conference in Sofia, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 31 July. The delegates approved the Socialist-led government's policies during its sixth months in office, which, they said, were in keeping with the party's election platform. They also approved the program for the rest of the BSP's term but called for stepped-up efforts in privatization, the energy sector, and fighting crime. Winning the local elections in October was described as the BSP's most important task in the near future. Demokratsiya reported that former party leader Aleksandar Lilov urged that a reshuffle take place in order to improve the cabinet's effectiveness. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PREMIER ATTACKS PRESIDENT, CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Zhan Videnov, speaking at the BSP conference, strongly criticized President Zhelyu Zhelev and the Constitutional Court, Reuters reported on 28 July. Videnov said both were obstructing the policies of his government. Zhelev, he commented, "blocks the rule of the Democratic Left [and] behaves more like a candidate [for] opposition leader than . . . a head of state," whereas the Constitutional Court "behaves like an alternative parliament." The Constitutional Court in June backed Zhelev in his row with the BSP over an amendment to the land law, arguing it violated the constitution. Videnov also said that the "confrontation between the institutions of the legislative, judicial, and executive powers [is] typical for countries in transition." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN TV DIRECTOR SACKED.
The Albanian parliament on 28 July dismissed Skender Bucpapa, director of Albanian TV and Radio, as well as other high-ranking officials, BETA reported the same day. The opposition had criticized Bucpapa frequently for bias toward the ruling Democratic Party and for declining to address major political and social problems in Albania. Members of the Democratic Party recently alleged abuse of office by Bucpapa. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

SECRET MEETING BETWEEN ALBANIAN, SERBIAN SOCIALISTS.
The Albanian and Serbian socialist party leaderships on 29 July held a secret meeting in Sofia, BETA reported the next day. No details have been released on either the topics discussed or the outcome of the talks. Representatives of the Albanian Socialists had participated in the Conference of the Balkan Left in Belgrade on 21-22 July, which called for lifting sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

GREECE DEMANDS SOLE RIGHT TO STAR OF VERGINA.
Greece took an unprecedented step in its row with Macedonia over the Star of Vergina, the Athens daily Kyriakiatiki Elevtherotypia reported on 30 July. The Greek government in early July demanded that the UN World Intellectual Property Organization grant Greece the exclusive rights to the symbol, which dates back to the times of ancient Macedonia. Greece regards it is a purely Greek symbol, and strictly opposes its use on the Macedonian flag. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

TURKISH ISLAMISTS PROTEST BOSNIAN ARMS EMBARGO.
More than 50,000 Turks in Konya protested the arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina on 29 July. Shouting "God Is Great," the demonstrators burned U.S. and UN flags and demanded an immediate end to the embargo, Reuters reported the same day. Turkey was one of eight Organization of Islamic Conference states that on 26 July declared the UN embargo "invalid" and gave the West a "last chance" to take concrete action before they defied the arms embargo. Meanwhile, Anatolia, the semi-official news agency, on 25 July reported that Turkey plans to sign a military cooperation accord with Bosnia in early August. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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