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Newsline - August 4, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 151, 4 August 1995
YELTSIN DELIVERS SPEECH FROM HOSPITAL ON CHECHEN ACCORD.
In a speech broadcast by Russian Public TV (ORT) on the evening of 3 August, President Boris Yeltsin praised the military agreement recently signed in Grozny, saying it provides "a real chance of completely ending the fighting and bringing peace to Chechnya." He added that talks on the still unresolved issue of Chechnya's political status "must continue" but reiterated that Chechnya must remain within the Russian Federation. The president also defended his decision to send troops into Chechnya last December. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

REACTION TO YELTSIN SPEECH.
President Yeltsin's speech, taped in an office at the sanitarium where he is recovering from a heart ailment, was only Yeltsin's second public appearance since his hospitalization in July. The tape also left an impression that Yeltsin might not be strong enough to deliver a ten-minute speech without interruption. Lev Ponomarev, a leader of the Democratic Russia movement, which has harshly criticized Yeltsin's policy in Chechnya, said the speech was "Orwellian." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

SUPPORTERS ANNOUNCE PLANS TO RE-ELECT YELTSIN.
Three little-known Russian organizations announced their plans to support President Yeltsin's candidacy for a second term on 3 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The organizers are the Moscow Regional Fund for the Support of the First Russian President, the United Democratic Center, and the Russian Energy and Technology Congress. The groups plan to set up a regional network to collect the one million signatures necessary to register a presidential candidate. Yeltsin has yet to announce his intentions. Vladimir Komchatov, the president's representative in the city of Moscow, told the news conference that if Yeltsin did not seek a second term, the groups would support whomever he nominates instead. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

SIGNATURES COLLECTED TO CALL SPECIAL DUMA SESSION.
Duma member Aleksandr Yegorov announced that the necessary 90 deputies had signed a demand for a special Duma session to approve the district boundaries for the 225 single-mandate seats in the December elections, Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 August. The session is needed to overcome the veto passed by the Federation Council just before the Duma began its summer vacation. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

NEW ADVERTISING COMPANY AT RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION.
Sergei Blagovolin, director-general of the partly-private Russian Public TV company (ORT), announced that the network has created the company ORT-Reklama to sell advertising time on Channel 1, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. When ORT took over Channel 1 broadcasting privileges from Ostankino on 1 April, it suspended advertising until 1 August. ORT reaches an estimated audience of 200 million viewers in the former Soviet Union, and depending on the time of day, a one-minute advertisement on the network will now cost between $1,500 and $28,000. Sergei Lisovskii, the chairman of the large advertising agency Premier-SV, was hired to head ORT-Reklama, even though ORT's new advertising rules, announced by then-director general Vladislav Listev before he was assassinated on 1 March, were ostensibly designed to reduce the influence of large private agencies on Channel 1 advertising. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

LAPTEV ON THE PRESS AND THE CAMPAIGN.
State Press Committee Chairman Ivan Laptev warned that if steps are not taken quickly to support the printing industry, candidates might not be able to have campaign literature printed in time for the December parliamentary elections, Russian Public TV reported on 3 August. Laptev added that since there is no clear legal definition of "state-owned" versus "private" newspapers, radio, and television companies, the Central Electoral Commission's proposal to allow political advertising and certain types of campaign coverage only in the state-owned mass media could cause "very big problems," Russian TV reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

IRKUTSK CONSIDERS ITS RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW.
The Irkutsk Oblast administration is developing a treaty and more than 30 other documents to regulate its relationship with Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. The main issues addressed include the ownership of natural resources, social benefits, health care, crime prevention, science, and culture. Six republics, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Karachaevo-Cherkessiya, Kabardino-Balkariya, Yakutiya (Sakha), and Buryatiya, have already signed treaties with Moscow, but no oblasts have done so. Irkutsk Governor Yurii Nozhikov said, "It is time to stop the practice of dividing the members of the federation into first class republics and second class krais and oblasts." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

TWO VIEWS ON ROLE OF REGIONS IN SVERDLOVSK GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS.
Voters' views on the proper level of autonomy for Russian Federation subjects will decide the outcome of gubernatorial elections to be held in Sverdlovsk Oblast on 6 August, according to Izvestiya on 4 August. Nine candidates are registered in the race, but Sverdlovsk administrative head Aleksei Strakhov and regional Duma Chairman Eduard Rossel are the clear front-runners. Strakhov heads the regional branch of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home is Russia. Rossel, who was Strakhov's predecessor as administrative head, once proposed creating an independent Urals Republic and is a vigorous advocate of greater regional autonomy. It was Rossel who pressed for the holding of direct gubernatorial elections in the province. Rossiiskie vesti reported on 4 August that Strakhov had accumulated a campaign war chest of 793 million rubles ($180,000) from private contributions. Rossel is estimated to have about 250 million rubles ($57,000) in his campaign fund. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

BELGOROD OBLAST ADMINISTRATION TAXES FOREIGN LANGUAGE NAMES.
In an effort to "preserve the purity of the Russian language," Belgorod Oblast administration officials have started levying a special tax on companies that use foreign letters in their names, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. Companies using non-Russian letters will be taxed the equivalent of more than $6,000. Foreign names written in Russian letters will cost companies the equivalent of more than $3,000. There are also regulations in Moscow on the use of foreign letters by companies. Foreign-language inscriptions in advertisements must be explained in Russian. Companies are also required to transliterate their names into Russian on store signs or billboards. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

MAYOR OF MOSCOW AGREES TO AMEND POLICY TOWARDS CHECHENS.
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he considers Chechens to be Russians, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 August. Luzhkov made the statement when he met with representatives of the Chechen diaspora in Moscow on 2 August, the second such meeting in the last six months. The representatives had asked Luzhkov to consider repealing the obligatory registration of Chechens as foreigners and the mayor promised to do so as soon as negotiations in Chechnya are successful. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

RESIDENTS LEFT UNAWARE OF MERCURY SPILL IN RIVER.
An increase in the amount of mercury has been discovered in the Severnaya Dvina River, Izvestiya reported on 4 August. The mercury was traced to the Kotlasskii pulp and paper complex in Arkhangelsk. It is the second time this year mercury has been spilled into the river, the first was in January when several tons polluted the waters. For five days, residents were not told that the water was unsafe to drink. A commission was created by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to investigate the January accident. Although a group of academics disputed the commission's statement that the water was safe, the officials who initially hid the accident were not punished, and so for a second time residents found themselves drinking and bathing in mercury-laden waters, unaware that a spill had occurred. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV: RUSSIA WILL HELP KUWAIT STRENGTHEN DEFENSES.
Speaking in Kuwait City at the end of an official visit, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told journalists that Russia is ready to help Kuwait "strengthen its defense capabilities," agencies reported. Kozyrev, who persuaded Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to recognize Kuwait last November, also offered to mediate a dispute between Kuwait and Iraq over missing Kuwaiti prisoners. The visit is the latest step the ongoing Russian diplomatic effort to gain international support for the gradual lifting of UN economic sanctions on Iraq, with which Russia had extensive economic ties prior to the UN embargo. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH SATELLITE LAUNCHED FROM PLESETSK.
Dusting off a work-horse space booster that has been in use since 1960, Russian Space Forces on 3 August placed two satellites in orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, ITAR-TASS reported. The main payload was a Russian Interbol-1 satellite but it in turn carried a Czech-made space research module called Magion-4 which will be ejected on the seventh or eighth day of the flight. The satellites were placed into orbit by a four-stage Molniya booster rocket, which is a direct descendant of the world's first ICBM, the Soviet SS-6 Sapwood. The commander of the Space Forces, General Vladimir Ivanov, told ITAR-TASS that his troops would place the first Chilean-designed spacecraft into orbit from Plesetsk on 28 August. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GERMANS TURN MORE HOUSING OVER TO RUSSIAN MILITARY.
German officials in Bonn announced on 3 August that the German-financed housing construction program for Russian forces that withdrew from former East Germany is nearly complete, ITAR-TASS reported. Altogether, 38,000 of the planned 45,000 flats in 42 cantonments have been built. According to the report, program will cost Germany DM 8 billion. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1996 DRAFT BUDGET.
The Russian government announced the 1996 draft federal budget on 3 August, Russian and Western agencies reported the same day. Aiming to reduce monthly inflation to 1.2% and lower the budget deficit to 3.9% of GDP, the plan calls for 411 trillion rubles ($75 billion) in spending and 329 trillion rubles ($60 billion) in revenues, leaving a deficit of 82 trillion rubles ($15 billion). The biggest budget item remains defense at 79 trillion rubles ($14 billion), up from 51 trillion rubles this year, taking up 19.2% of the federal budget, slightly less than last year's figure of 20.9%. The budget allocates 15 trillion rubles to education ($2.7 billion). The government plans to borrow $9 billion from foreign creditors, down from $12 billion this year. Privatization is projected to bring in 11 trillion rubles ($2 billion), compared to 9 trillion rubles ($1.6 billion) this year. The State Duma will examine the budget when it convenes in September. Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov said he expects a difficult battle ahead as virtually every cabinet minister is unhappy with his allocation. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

ROSEKSPORTLES SEEKS INVESTMENTS.
Russia's leading supplier of wood and timber, the Roseksportles, has launched a program designed to attract medium and long-term investments from Russian and foreign banks in the domestic wood and timber industry, Segodnya reported on 2 August. The joint-stock company plans to raise $1.5 billion. Roseksportles Director Valerii Kaikaev said the company's turnover was about $230 million during the first half of 1995 and is expected to hit $550-600 million by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 151, 4 August 1995
AZERBAIJAN POPULAR FRONT TO BE BARRED FROM PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS?
In direct contravention of a pledge by Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev last month that all political parties would be allowed to field candidates in the 12 November parliamentary elections, on 2 August the Azerbaijan Popular Front was refused registration by the Ministry of Justice. The ministry said the party had allegedly "been involved in illegal and anti-state activities," Reuters reported on 3 August, quoting AzPF leader Gulamhussein Aliev. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF KAZAKHSTAN.
Under the new constitution, which will be voted on at the end of August, Kazakhstan's Constitutional Court will be replaced by a Constitutional Council. According to Izvestiya on 3 August, six of the 11 members of the court published an open letter in the local press disagreeing with changes to the republic's system of government and the expanded powers of the president. The court ceased to function when the rest of the judges declined to continue working with those who signed the letter, saying their colleagues had violated the principle of noninterference in politics. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev claims the scandal had no effect on the decision to remove the term "Constitutional Court" from the new constitution. However, the draft presented in July still contained the term. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIS


BLACK SEA FLEET SAYS UKRAINIAN NAVY MISINFORMS KIEV.
The Black Sea Fleet's press center rejected Ukrainian accusations that its commander is undermining the negotiations on dividing the fleet, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. The statement disputed the Ukrainian accusation that Ukrainian navy chief Vice Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy had been denied a seat on the honor stand at the Navy Day celebrations, claiming he had stayed away to attend a joint U.S.-Ukrainian exercise. The press center said a number of Ukrainian senior officials attended the celebration, including the interior minister, the security service chief, and the Ground Forces commander. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 151, 4 August 1995
SLOVAK PRESIDENT IN U.S.
Michal Kovac on 3 August left for a 12-day visit to the U.S. He will receive on 5 August an award from the American Bar Association in Chicago for his role in promoting democracy since Slovakia's independence. Kovac is also expected to meet with U.S. Vice President Al Gore. His visit takes place amid a continuing conflict with Premier and Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) Chairman Vladimir Meciar, whose party has several times called on Kovac to resign. According to an opinion poll carried out by the Slovak Statistical Office in late May and early June, 42% of the respondents said Kovac should remain president, 36% said he should resign, and 22% were uncertain. Only 15% said Kovac is "always apolitical," while 26% said he is "mostly apolitical," Sme reported on 3 August. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

CONTINUED CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK MEDIA.
Anti-Monopoly Office Chairman Pavel Frano on 3 August dismissed Imrich Juhar as department director, Narodna obroda reported. Juhar the previous day requested that the Ministry of Culture stop giving state funds to the pro-government dailies Slovenska Republika and Hlas ludu to publish supplements for national minorities, arguing that the subsidies limit economic competition. Also on 3 August, the Slovak opposition criticized Premier and HZDS Chairman Meciar for giving prizes to controversial publications and journalists the previous day. The awards, named after 19th-century Slovak linguist Ludovit Stur, went to journalists and newspapers nominated by the pro-HZDS Association of Slovak Journalists (ZSN). Winners included ZSN Chairman and Slovak TV director Jozef Darmo, HZDS deputies Roman Hofbauer and Dusan Slobodnik, Slovenska Republika, and the weeklies Extra and Zmena. Democratic Union Deputy Chairman Jan Budaj called it "scandalous" that Meciar awarded a prize to Zmena, which has been accused of anti-Semitism. This week's issue features a number of attacks on U.S. financier George Soros, Reuters reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

TOP REFORMER RE-APPOINTED TO UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT.
President Leonid Kuchma has re-appointed the country's top reformer, Viktor Pynzenyk, as deputy prime minister for economic reforms, Reuters and UNIAR reported 2 August. The decision was made during the visit by IMF officials for talks on the next installment of a $1.5 billion loan granted to Ukraine earlier this year. Kuchma initially did not include Pynzenyk in his government after announcing he would ease up on tight fiscal policy in favor of support for the ailing industrial sector. Roman Shpek, a more moderate reformer, will remain deputy prime minister in overall charge of the economy. Pynzenyk will focus on macroeconomic issues. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS OVERTURN NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
The Crimean legislature on 2 August voted to overturn its 22 March vote of no confidence in Anatolii Franchuk, the Kiev-backed prime minister, Ukrainian TV reported the same day. Deputies made the move as a step toward regaining control over the region's government, which was placed under Kiev's jurisdiction by President Kuchma on 31 March. Kuchma said he would consider an appeal from the Crimean Assembly to rescind his decree if Crimean legislators overturned their no-confidence vote in Franchuk. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN ENERGY NEWS.
Belarusian Radio on 2 August reported that Rem Vyakhirev, chairman of the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, arrived in Minsk to discuss building a pipeline through Belarus to the West. The pipeline would stretch from Yamal, in Siberia, to the Polish border, with 209 km passing through Belarus. If it were built, it would give Belarus additional transit fees, making it easier to pay for the country's gas supplies. Meanwhile, Anton Loika, president of the gasoline concern Belnaftapradukt, told a press conference that despite the Russian-Belarusian customs union, the discrepancy in gasoline prices between the two countries will continue, Belarusian Radio reported on 2 August. Gasoline now costs around 2,000 rubles (45 cents) per liter in Russia and 2,500-3,000 Belarusian rubles (24 cents) in Belarus. Since Belarus is resisting price rises, gasoline vendors cannot increase their prices to match those in Russia. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ESTONIA.
Lawrence Taylor presented his credentials to Estonian President Lennart Meri on 2 August, BNS reported. He also discussed with Foreign Minister Riivo Sinijarv the possibility of U.S. economic and military aid. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi and Taylor on 3 August discussed relations between Russia and Estonia and border issues. Vahi received assurances that the U.S. will back Estonia in questions of vital importance. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LATVIAN SAEIMA REJECTS DISMISSING CHIEF BANKERS.
The proposal by deputies of the Popular Concord Party, the Political Association of Economists, and the Democratic Party Saimnieks to dismiss Bank of Latvia President Einars Repse and his deputy, Ilmars Rimsevics, was rejected by the Saeima on 3 August, BNS reported. Deputy Igors Burkovskis blamed the bank for the unstable financial situation in the country and predicted that the economy will collapse in three months. Repse called his prediction "totally groundless," but he admitted that he had chosen wrong strategies for supervising commercial banks, since he had not taken into account the high level of corruption and crime among bankers. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIA DEPORTS ALL ASIAN REFUGEES.
Lithuania on 3 August deported about 30 refugees from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, leaving no officially registered Asian asylum seekers in the country, BNS reported. Fourteen refugees from Bangladesh with Russian visas were detained on 30 July near the seaside resort of Palanga, while 12 from India were captured on the Polish-Lithuanian border two days later. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

SUPPORT FOR CZECH OPPOSITION CONTINUES TO GROW.
The ruling Civic Democratic Party (ODS) now has less than a 3 percentage point lead over the opposition Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), according to an opinion poll taken by the Factum agency in late July. The ODS won 22.8% support, compared with 20.2% for the CSSD. The Communist Party came third with 9.3%, followed by the Civic Democratic Alliance with 7.7%, the Czech People's Party with 7.1%, and Pensioners for Life Security with 5.1%, Prace reported on 4 August. ODS supporters tend to be university graduates, businessmen, and those who earn over 5,000 koruny ($200) a month. In other news, Rude pravo reported on 4 August that CSSD Chairman Milos Zeman has offered former Czechoslovak Premier Marian Calfa, an ethnic Slovak, membership in the CSSD. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARY TO OPEN NEW CAMPS FOR REFUGEES FROM EX-YUGOSLAVIA.
AFP on 3 August reported that Hungary will open more camps to deal with the latest wave of refugees from the former Yugoslavia. A new camp housing some 2,000 refugees will be opened soon in Debrecen in former Soviet Army barracks. Hungary's main refugee camp in Nagyatad is now full with 2,000 people, of whom half arrived in July. Philippe Labreveux of the UNHCR said that so far this year, a total of 2,000 refugees have arrived in Hungary from the former Yugoslavia, mainly from the Croatian region of Slavonia and the Serbian province of Kosovo. Hungary has allocated $7.87 million for refugees from its state budget. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 151, 4 August 1995
"BATTLE FOR KRAJINA HAS BEGUN."
This is what a UN spokesman told the BBC just after dawn on 4 August. At 3:00 a.m., the Croatian authorities informed the UN that military action was imminent; at 4:00 a.m., the peacekeepers went on "red alert"; and one hour later, the Croatian offensive began. Hundreds of shells fell on Knin, while others hit Slunj, Gracac, Petrinja, Glina, and Udbina with its major air base. Some 20 tanks sped out of Gospic and into the Medak pocket just 65 km from Knin. Croatian media said that the Serbs in return shelled Sibenik, Sisak, Karlovac, Gospic, Ogulin, Otocac, Sunja, Novska, Topusko, and Dubrovnik. They had already blasted the Dubrovnik area the previous day. Reuters reported that the Croatian army wanted to quickly take out the Serbian missile batteries trained on Zagreb. The BBC quoted UN spokesmen in Knin as saying that the streets there were deserted and the atmosphere "grim" and that the center of the city is on fire. Early and unconfirmed reports suggest that the Croats are making rapid progress, especially in the north. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

TUDJMAN PROMISES SERBS FAIR TREATMENT.
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman issued a statement to the Krajina Serbs urging them to lay down their arms. He said that all will be treated fairly, that innocent civilians have nothing to fear, and that war criminals will be given a fair trial. He added that "we were forced to make such a decision in order to put an end to the four-year long deception of the Croatian and international public and ensure the beginning of a return of [250,000 Croat] refugees." International media on 4 August noted, however, that the Serbs are likely to flee like the Serbs in western Slavonia, which the Croats retook in May. The Krajina Serbs have been fed a steady diet of nationalist and anti-Croatian propaganda by their media for years, and their ranks contain more than a few war criminals who may be skeptical of Tudjman's words. Some 3,000 new Serbian refugees were reported headed for Banja Luka on 3 August in what the BBC called one of the largest migrations of Serbian civilians since 1991. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

"KRAJINA SERBS ARE ON THEIR OWN, AND THEY KNOW IT."
This is how the BBC on 3 August described the fate of the Croatian Serb rebels after Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic made it clear that he will stay out of any conflict in Krajina. The broadcast added that "he takes his orders from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic." Things have come a long way since 1990, when Milosevic's media and agents promoted Serbian nationalism and fear of the Croats among ordinary Serbs in Krajina. Their chetnik militias sang in return: "Slobo, Slobo send us salad, because we'll soon have much Croatian meat." But now many Krajina Serbs believe that Milosevic and his followers have decided to abandon the Croatian Serbs, except for those in the prosperous eastern Slavonia, which many expect Serbia to annex formally. Rumors are also rife of a deal between Zagreb and Belgrade to this effect. Few observers believe Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's pledge to reverse recent Croatian territorial gains. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

UN SAYS "PEACE PROCESS SHOULD TAKE ITS COURSE."
International media on 4 August reported that the talks in Geneva headed by UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg the previous day came to nothing. A Croatian spokesman said that the Serbs refused to budge on the key issue of their political reintegration into Croatia. Stoltenberg, however, felt that more progress has been made than he had hoped. Meanwhile in Belgrade, the influential U.S. ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, met with Krajina Serb "Prime Minister" Milan Babic, who agreed to the principle of a political settlement. Babic promised to reopen the oil pipeline immediately and launch talks on political and economic issues. Galbraith said that the Serb concessions based on the so-called Z-4 plan provided an opportunity to end the war. A UN spokesman, however, told the BBC that the Croats were "cynical and skeptical" about Babic's pledges. The UN expressed regret that the Croats will not "allow the peace process to take its course." The Security Council passed a resolution warning that "there can be no military solution." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

BELGRADE MEDIA SHARPLY CRITICIZES KRAJINA, BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS.
Reuters on 3 August reported that the rump Yugoslav state-run media have attacked Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and particularly rebel Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic for their militarism. A Politika editorial, reported by Belgrade TV, blamed Karadzic and Martic for provoking war with Croatia. The editorial, written by Dragan Hadzi Antic, the daily's political editor and a close ally of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, appeared in print on 4 August. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

LYNCH JUSTICE IN MOLDOVA'S BREAKAWAY DNIESTER REGION.
A 15-year-old boy was killed and a woman badly beaten after stealing potatoes in Caragas, a village in the self-proclaimed Dniester region, BASA-press reported on 3 August. The teenager was thrown into a canal by furious villagers who tied a bag of potatoes around his neck. The beaten woman was paraded through the village and tied to a pole. The incidents occurred amid serious food shortages in the Dniester region. Bread is currently available only through a ration-card system. The average salary in the region is $5-10 a month, making staples a luxury for most inhabitants. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

HEAD OF BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION CENTER REPLACED.
Yosif Iliev, director of the Center for Mass Privatization, was replaced by Kalin Mitrev on 3 August, Demokratsiya reported the following day. A government statement said Iliev asked to be removed from office and will be assigned to a new post. The newspaper reported that Iliev and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev disagreed over how mass privatization should be carried out. According to Pari, the appointment of Mitrev in effect puts Prime Minister Zhan Videnov in control of privatization. Standart reported that Mitrev has asked for guarantees that Gechev will not interfere in his work. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT EVICTS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
The cabinet on 3 August decided to move the Constitutional Court from its present offices in the government building, 24 chasa reported the following day. The measure was described as "temporary" and was explained by the need to house the Central Electoral Commission in the building. The Constitutional Court was advised to ask the parliament for new offices in the former Communist Party headquarters. Members of the commission said the decision was a "purely political act," since they do not need that much office space. Constitutional Court Judge Georgi Markov commented that if there is not enough space in the building, the government should move out, because "it is lower in the state hierarchy." Markov also remarked that the government has "declared war on the Constitutional Court, which will have serious consequences." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS HOLD PROTEST RALLY.
The opposition Socialist Party on 2 August held a protest meeting to demand the release of their party leader, Fatos Nano, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the following day. Nano has been in prison since 1993 for misappropriating Italian humanitarian aid. He is expected to be released by the Supreme Court in September. Some 3,000-4,000 people participated in the rally. The demonstrators also demanded the reinstatement of professors from Tirana University's economics faculty who were sacked for what the Socialists claimed are political reasons. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

TWO NEW FUNDS FOR ALBANIAN ENTERPRISES.
The German Bank for Reconstruction has opened a development fund in Tirana and the Albanian-American Investment Fund opened an office in Tirana, BETA reported. Both funds are designed to offer help to small and medium-size enterprises and to support the privatization process. They will give credits and technical assistance to firms in construction and tourism. President Sali Berisha said the funds will "improve economic cooperation among private businesses and the general level of investment in the Albanian economy." He added that the rapid privatization of Albanian banks is one of his priorities. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

28 ALBANIANS ARRESTED IN FIGHT OVER DAM.
The Albanian police arrested 28 peasants who threatened to place explosives under the dam of a water reservoir in construction in the village of Bovila near Tirana, BETA reported on 3 August. The reservoir is to provide Tirana with water but will flood the peasants' land (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 August 1995). The peasants have been offered land in compensation but they say that the earth quality is lower than what they have now. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER CRITICIZED FOR PLANNED INTERVIEW.
Gerasimos Arsenis has been strongly criticized by the opposition for his decision to give an interview on the Greek army to the Macedonian daily Nova Makedonija, the newspaper reported on 4 August. Announcing his decision, Arsenis indicated that Greece may lift its embargo on Macedonia if the country changes its flag and constitution. He also said that Greece wants good relations with Macedonia. Vasilis Manginas, spokesman of the conservative main opposition party New Democracy, called the decision "a grave mistake and incomprehensible move." The nationalistic Political Spring party said such an interview would be an "unprecedented action" and constitute "de facto recognition" of Macedonia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

TURKISH PREMIER APPEALS TO GREECE FOR "OPEN TALKS."
Tansu Ciller, in an interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet on 3 August, has appealed to Greece to "overcome its fears" and open talks with Ankara, AFP reported the same day. With regard to Greece's recent decision not to veto an European Union-Turkey customs deal, she expressed her hope that Greece will "continue its new stand." Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos the same day hailed the conciliatory tone of the interview but objected to Ciller's allusion to Athens's alleged support for the Kurdish rebels in Turkey, complaining that Ciller was repeating a well-known Turkish position. He noted that Turkish-EU relations depended on Turkey's compliance with international law, respect for human rights, and "more generally what you call European culture." -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



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