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Newsline - August 8, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 153, 8 August 1995
YELTSIN INVITES MILOSEVIC, TUDJMAN TO MOSCOW.
Speaking to journalists in the Kremlin on 7 August, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said he had invited Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to Moscow to negotiate an agreement that would end hostilities in the former Yugoslavia, Russian and Western agencies reported. Amid fears that the recent Croatian military offensive could trigger an escalation of the fighting, Yeltsin expressed confidence that such a meeting would "reach an agreement." In a departure from the usual Russian position, which has emphasized the importance of finding a political settlement to the conflict, Yeltsin added that if the Serbs remain obstinate it would become necessary to "adopt forceful measures." Also on 7 August, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that if Croatia does not curb its military operations against Serb separatists, Moscow may propose sanctions against Croatia in the UN Security Council. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN RETURNS TO KREMLIN.
President Yeltsin returned to work in the Kremlin on 7 August, completing his recovery from his 11 July heart troubles, Russian and Western agencies reported. The 64-year-old leader appeared in good shape as he walked around the Kremlin, greeting tourists and talking to journalists. He spent the last two weeks recuperating in a suburban Moscow sanitarium. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN ON CHECHNYA.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin said on 7 August that new elections in Chechnya can only be held after the disarmament process is completed, Russian and Western agencies reported. As a result, elections for a new Chechen parliament might be delayed until early 1996, the president added. Russian negotiators had earlier indicated that local elections could be held this coming November. Yeltsin said that he had already chosen a new special representative to Chechnya but would not confirm rumors that he will appoint Security Council secretary Oleg Lobov to the position. Yeltsin also reiterated that Chechnya must remain within the Russian Federation and said that although local elections could be delayed, elections to the Duma should take place in Chechnya on 17 December as in the rest of the country. -- Scott Parrish

POSSIBILITY OF SPLIT IN THE AGRARIAN PARTY SURFACES.
Vasilii Starodubtsev, one of the instigators of the 1991 coup and chairman of the Agrarian Union, part of the bloc that makes up the Agrarian Party, is unhappy with the way Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin wants to choose candidates for the party's electoral list, NTV reported on 7 August. Lapshin wants a congress of the Agrarian Party to confirm all candidates, including those from the Agrarian Union. Starodubtsev believes that such a procedure would violate the rights of the Agrarian Union and that Lapshin wants to be the sole leader of the party without "taking into account the interests of his partners." Lapshin asserted that the party, in alliance with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and other opposition groups, could win half of the seats in the Duma, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August. He also said his party would support a common candidate for president with the Communists. -- Robert Orttung

ISAKOV BELIEVES YELTSIN WILL SIGN LAW ON FEDERATION COUNCIL.
Vladimir Isakov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Legislation, believes that if Yeltsin does not sign the law calling for elections to the upper house, he will create "a constitutional crisis," an outcome he wants to avoid, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August. Both houses of the parliament passed the bill and it has been awaiting Yeltsin's signature since late July. Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko has repeatedly said that Yeltsin will veto the bill so that the Federation Council can be formed from the leadership of Russia's 89 republics and regions. -- Robert Orttung

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA TO CAMPAIGN ON TWO PARTY LISTS.
Leaders of the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) announced on 7 August that they will compete in the December parliamentary elections on two separate party lists, Russian media reported. Sergei Glazev, chairman of the DPR and the Duma Economic Policy Committee, will join the party list of Yurii Skokov's Congress of Russian Communities (KRO). Stanislav Govorukhin, leader of the DPR Duma faction and the Duma Commission on Chechnya, will run alongside Svyatoslav Fedorov's Party of Popular Self-Government (PNS). The decision to pin the DPR's electoral fortunes on two parties was adopted after lengthy and heated discussions at a closed party congress, ITAR-TASS reported. In the December 1993 elections, the DPR, then led by Nikolai Travkin, campaigned independently and barely cleared the 5% barrier necessary to win Duma seats assigned from party lists. -- Laura Belin

ZHIRINOVSKII CHECKS THE MENTAL HEALTH OF HIS PARTY MEMBERS.
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii has asked the head of a Nizhnii Novgorod psychological clinic to evaluate the mental health of nine of his party members in the city, Radio Rossii reported 7 August. The reasons for Zhirinovskii's request are unclear. The local press has carried numerous satirical stories on the incident in the past week, causing regional party leaders to stop answering their telephones. -- Robert Orttung

DATE SET FOR SVERDLOVSK GUBERNATORIAL RUNOFF ELECTION.
A runoff between the top two candidates for governor in the Sverdlovsk Oblast has been set for 20 August, since none of the eight candidates in the race received more than 50% of the vote in the first round, NTV reported on 7 August. Regional Duma Chairman Eduard Rossel led the field with 29% of the vote. Sverdlovsk administrative head Aleksei Strakhov finished second with 26%, and Valerii Trushnikov, Strakhov's first deputy, came in third with 22%. Strakhov leads the regional branch of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, and the runoff will be closely watched as the first (and last) test of Our Home Is Russia's popularity in the regions before nationwide parliamentary elections in December. -- Laura Belin

LAPTEV CALLS FOR LAW DEFINING "STATE" MASS MEDIA.
State Press Committee Chairman Ivan Laptev called for new legislation to clarify rules on campaign coverage and political advertising in the press and electronic media, Russian TV reported on 7 August. The Central Electoral Commission has proposed guidelines that would prohibit free or paid political advertising in the private electronic media and would also force "state" mass media to devote free air time or column space to candidates and parties running for parliament. However, there is currently no law on the distinction between "state" and "private" mass media. Laptev said such a law is particularly needed to define the status of regional radio and television companies, since candidates running in single-member constituencies will appeal to voters primarily through the local mass media. -- Laura Belin

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO DEATH OF KIVELIDI.
In the wake of the poisoning of banker Ivan Kivelidi, the Russian cabinet again pledged to take new measures to combat crime, Russian and Western agencies reported on 7 August. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who chaired the closed session, was quoted as saying "we cannot avoid measures of extraordinary rigor." His spokesman said the government is preparing a report on the crime situation, which is to include proposals for maintaining law and order and a list of priorities. Numerous public figures have been assassinated in recent months, but the murder investigations have made little headway despite repeated promises by the authorities to step up the fight against organized crime. -- Penny Morvant

UNEMPLOYMENT RISING.
Federal Employment Service spokeswoman Irina Milkhina said on 7 August that 9.6 million people are unemployed in Russia, or 13% of the workforce, ITAR-TASS reported. That figure includes 5.7 million people actively seeking work, of whom about 2 million are officially registered as unemployed, and 3.9 million "hidden" unemployed (employees still on a company's books but working reduced hours or on compulsory unpaid leave). Milkhina said that the number of officially registered unemployed has increased by 20% since the beginning of the year and that the widespread practice of short-time work, which is particularly common in light industry, the chemical industry, machine-building, transport, communications, and scientific organizations, is one of the main factors preventing mass open unemployment. Nevertheless, the number of "hidden" unemployed has fallen by 900,000 since the beginning of the year. -- Penny Morvant

HOMOSEXUALS' ASSOCIATION REFUSED REGISTRATION.
Russian homosexuals condemned the refusal on 21 July of a Moscow court to register the Triangle Center for homosexuals, lesbians, and bisexuals on the grounds that its existence "contravened the norms of public morality," AFP and Ekho Moskvy reported on 7 August. In a letter of protest to the Justice Ministry, the group said "the refusal to register our association is a pure and simple violation of liberty and human rights." Homosexuality was a criminal offense in Russia until April 1993. -- Penny Morvant

U.S. SERVICEMAN REPORTED ARRESTED IN KRASNOYARSK.
Federal Security Service (FSB) agents detained an "American serviceman" who was carrying out measurements with a "geodesic instrument" near the Krasnoyarsk-26 mining and chemical complex in Siberia, one of Russia's largest nuclear-related facilities, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. A spokesman at the U.S. Defense Department had no comment on the incident, Western agencies reported the same day. -- Scott Parrish

BORDER AGREEMENT WITH CHINA POSSIBLE SOON.
The director of the Russian Federal Border Service said on 7 August that "documents of unprecedented importance for Russia and China" would be signed in Beijing later this month, ITAR-TASS reported. Col. Gen. Andrei Nikolayev said it had taken 18 months to write the drafts of the documents and the two sides had settled many differences. He stressed that Russian interests must be protected in the final stage of the talks. -- Doug Clarke

RUBLE STRENGTHENS AGAINST DOLLAR.
The Russian ruble strengthened against the U.S. dollar on 7 August MICEX trading, closing at 4,405 rubles compared with 4,416 rubles on 4 August trading, ITAR-TASS reported. Trading volume came in at $38.11 million dollars. The demand for dollars at the opening of the session was only $9.13 million compared with a supply of $89.31 million. -- Thomas Sigel

TRANS-SIBERIAN CONTAINER SHIPMENTS DECREASE.
Russia is having difficulties attracting freight forwarders with goods originating in Pacific Rim countries to ship containers to European destinations through the trans-Siberian corridor, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. Even though a shipment from Japan to Europe only takes 12 days, many foreign firms are opting for the 30-day journey by sea to avoid high transport tariffs, tight customs regulations, and the possibility of pilferage. Many trans-Siberian shipments with goods such as automobiles, textiles, televisions, and video equipment have ended up as contraband in Uzbekistan. Since January, only 17,000 containers have passed through the corridor compared with 70,000 in the same period in 1980. Primorsk Krai officials are trying to improve the situation in order to boost foreign company confidence and convince them to send containers via Russian territory. -- Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 153, 8 August 1995
ASSOCIATION OF CASPIAN NEWS AGENCIES FORMED.
At the initiation of ITAR-TASS and IRNA, the charter for the Association of Caspian News Agencies (ACNA) was signed in Chalus, Iran, on 7 August, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The grouping aims at strengthening the position of member agencies in world and regional markets and countering "unilateral and unbalanced information." It also seeks to expand the exchange of information in order to promote multilateral relations between the five states in the region. Agencies participating in ACNA include ITAR-TASS, IRNA, KAZTAG, and Turkmen Press; it appears Azerbaijan's Azeri Agency "backs the decision" of the other agencies but has refused to formally sign the charter. The ACNA's establishment is another indication of Russia's quest, backed by Iran, for preeminence in all Caspian-related issues and to turn any regional grouping into a vehicle for pursuing other foreign politico-economic objectives. Azerbaijan's hopes of bypassing Russia and exporting its Caspian oil via alternative routes explains its reluctance to sign the ANCA's charter. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKHSTAN'S ANTI-NUCLEAR MARCHERS STOPPED BEFORE CHINESE BORDER.
About 200 anti-nuclear activists who began a two-day "March of Peace" on 6 August to commemorate the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan 50 years ago were stopped the next day by Kazakh security forces in the town of Zharkent, 30 km from the Chinese border, according to Reuters. The marchers were using the anniversary to protest China's continued use of the Lop Nor testing site in the Xinjiang province, which borders Kazakhstan. -- Bruce Pannier



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 153, 8 August 1995
SLUGGISH LAND REFORM IN UKRAINE.
The State Committee on Land Resources in Ukraine has announced that little progress has been made beyond the first scheduled phase of land reform in the agricultural sector, Ukrainian Radio reported on 7 August. As of 1 July, 12% of Ukraine's farmland was transferred to so-called collective ownership by large-scale enterprises, while only 3% was in private hands. The state maintains ownership of 84.8 % of farmland, most of which is still leased out to collective farms as well as private tenant farmers. The government held 90% of farmland at the beginning of the year. The president's top economic advisor, Anatolii Halchynsky, told Ukrainian TV on 7 August that Kuchma is expected to issue a decree on creating a mechanism for transferring land on collective farms to their employees, which would constitute the second phase of land reform. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC NEWS.
President Leonid Kuchma on 7 August issued a decree obligating businesses earning hard currency in Ukraine to use the National Bank's Interbank Currency Exchange when converting half their hard-currency profits to karbovantsi, Radio Ukraine reported on 7 August. Companies are required to have special licenses for hard-currency operations and must exchange half their earnings for Ukraine's provisional currency. Recently, Ukraine banned cash transactions in hard currency as a step toward monetary reform. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELARUS.
Erdal Inonu arrived in Minsk on 7 August for a two-day visit aimed at improving relations between the two sides, Belarusian Radio reported. Relations soured last November when Belarus expelled two Turkish diplomats for spying and arrested a Belarusian in connection with the case. Ankara retaliated by suspending bilateral projects. Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Belarusian independence. Bilateral trade amounts to $50 million. Inonu is scheduled to meet with his Belarusian counterpart, Uladzimir Syanko, Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. An agreement on air links and cooperation in education, culture, sports, and protection of investments is expected to be signed. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUS ACCUSES RUSSIAN MEDIA OF CAMPAIGN AGAINST PRESIDENT.
Presidential spokesman Uladzimir Zamyatalin has accused the Russian media of waging a campaign against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Ekho Moskvy reported on 7 August. Zamyatalin charged that some Russian newspapers have repeatedly put down the Belarusian leader and portrayed his policies as "travesties." He appealed to Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Gennadii Seleznev to take concrete measures against such coverage. Lukashenka has censored the Belarusian media and fired editors in chief of leading newspapers for publishing articles he considered critical of him. -- Ustina Markus

INFLATION IN ESTONIA DECLINES IN JULY.
The Estonian Statistics Department announced that the consumer price index in July increased by 1.7%, compared with an increase of 2.3% in June, BNS reported on 7 August. The price of goods grew by 0.1%, with the 0.9% increase in the cost of manufactured goods offsetting the 0.5% decrease in food prices. The cost of services increased by 3.7% in July, and the largest increase was for housing and utilities (5.3%). -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND DEPORTS 33 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO LITHUANIA.
Deputy Director of the Lithuanian Migration Department Almantas Gavenas on 7 August announced that the Polish authorities deported 33 illegal immigrants from Asian countries to Lithuania three days earlier, BNS reported. The immigrants are being held at a detention center in Marijampole. Lithuania, in turn, will deport the immigrants, , to the countries from which they entered Lithuania. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH DIPLOMAT PROPOSES POSTPONING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
Deputy Speaker of the Sejm Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz on 7 August revealed that Polish Ambassador to Russia Stanislaw Ciosek has sent a letter to several politicians proposing that President Lech Walesa's term of office be extended for another two years so that the presidential elections, scheduled for the fall of 1995, coincide with the parliamentary elections, scheduled for 1997. Cimoszewicz said he did not rule out that presidential aides had been behind Ciosek's initiative. The president's spokesman said that Walesa has always favored having presidential and parliamentary elections at the same time. Sejm speaker Jozef Zych, presidential candidate and former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron, and Christian-National Alliance leader Ryszard Czarnecki all strongly criticized the idea, Polish media reported on 8 August. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLAND PREDICTS STRONG ECONOMIC GROWTH.
The Central Planning Bureau has forecast that Poland's gross domestic product will grow by 6.5% this year, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Exports are expected to rise by 20% to $27.5 billion and imports by 27.5%. Industrial output is forecast to rise by 10.5%, with growth slowing slightly as the result of the zloty's appreciation. Spending on fixed investment will increase by 10%, following last year's 7.1% rise. The latest inflation forecast is 22% at year-end and 28% as an annual average. In another indication of strong growth, Poles bought nearly 155,000 new cars in the first half of 1995. Sales were up by 19% for domestic models and 13% for imports over the same period last year. -- Louisa Vinton

SLOVAK DRAFT LAW ON UNIVERSITIES DRAWS CRITICISM.
Lev Bukovsky, rector of Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Kosice, has said the government's latest version of the law on universities is "unacceptable," Narodna obroda reported on 8 August. Bukovsky stressed that top representatives of the university have rejected the draft law, which was sent to them by the Ministry of Education for their response in late July. The draft law would allow the ministry to create and eliminate university departments and decide how many students would be accepted to study a given field. Officials at a number of Slovak universities have criticized the law, saying it would restrict academic freedom. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK TRADE FIGURES.
Slovak exports in the first half of 1995 rose 22.2% to 123.95 billion koruny, Narodna obroda reported on 8 August. The biggest share of exports went to the Czech Republic (35.8%), followed by Germany (18.9%), Italy (4.8%), Austria (4.7%), Hungary (4.5%), Poland (4%), and Russia (3.3%). The share of exports to EU member countries reached 37.7%. Meanwhile, imports totaled 125 billion koruny, bringing Slovakia's six-month trade deficit to 1.1 billion koruny. Sme on 8 August quoted Economy Ministry official Stefan Burda as saying increased imports of Russian oil are the reason for the trade deficit. -- Sharon Fisher

NEW ROMANI ORGANIZATION ESTABLISHED IN HUNGARY.
Seven Romani organizations met in the Hungarian town of Nyiregyhaza on 7 August to form the Coordinating Federation of Roma Organizations in Northeastern Hungary, MTI reported the same day. The organizations come from the three counties with the largest Romani population, where the combined unemployment rate is one of the highest in Hungary. The federation will seek to create more jobs for Roma and will prepare for the 1998 local and parliamentary elections. It stressed that it hopes to field candidates who have the backing of a majority of the Romani community in order to "avoid dissension and meaningless debate." -- Alaina Lemon



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 153, 8 August 1995
SUSAK SAYS OPERATION STORM IS OVER.
Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak told Hina on 7 August that Croatia was demobilizing. He also said that military operations in the former Sector North and Sector South were over, the BBC noted on 8 August. He denied British and Serbian reports that there was a conflict of interests between Croatia and Bosnia. Some 6,000 Serbian soldiers had been resisting near Topusko, but Susak said they were surrounded and giving up. The UN, however, said that the Serbs were still fighting and that the Croats were shelling the area. International media reported that the agreement whereby the Serbs in effect surrendered broke down by mid-day on 7 August when the Croats said the Serbs had "tricked" them. Croatian artillery went into action and at least two Serbs were killed. Serbian resistance was strongest in the Banija and Kordun areas. There were confusing and sometimes contradictory reports -- including Bosnian Serb air raids on up to five Croatian towns, the downing of two Serbian Orao jets, a Croatian air raid on a column of Serbian refugees near Banja Luka, the burning of six Serbian villages by Bosnian government forces, and the blocking of roads into Bosnia by the Bosnian Fifth Corps, which reportedly trapped thousands of Serbian refugees. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIA SENDS TANKS INTO EASTERN SLAVONIA.
International media on 7 August reported that columns of Serbian tanks were heading across the border into eastern Slavonia, the richest of Serbia's conquests in the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession. Croatia then sent two crack brigades to the border area, including the Tigers. Croatian media reported on 8 August that the Serbs shelled Osijek, but the area otherwise appeared to be quiet. AFP quoted the British Foreign Office as saying that Britain "would not welcome" a Croatian move into eastern Slavonia. -- Patrick Moore

"BIGGEST SINGLE MIGRATION OF SERBS IN HISTORY."
This is how Belgrade Radio described the mass flight of Krajina Serbs into Bosnia and Serbia, the BBC reported on 8 August. If this description is accurate, the present migration would exceed that of 30,000 families into Habsburg territory in 1690 and the epic retreat of the Serbian army in World War I. The latest estimates are of 150,000 people on the move; but this is not certain, given Croatian reports that prewar Krajina had a total population of only 400,000. Croatian officials on 8 August said that the figure of 150,000 was grossly exaggerated and that the entire population of Serb-held Krajina was only 120,000. The refugees appear to prefer to go to Serbia than Bosnia, and the men in particular are reported to want to get as far from the front as possible. -- Patrick Moore

ZAGREB CALLS BILDT PERSONA NON GRATA.
Croatian officials on 7 August slammed charges by EU mediator Carl Bildt that the flight of the Serbs was "ethnic cleansing" and declared him persona non grata for several of his recent remarks. The Croats noted that they encouraged the Krajina Serbs to stay while Serbian media urged them to leave. They also pointed out that many of the Serbs were living in homes and had property taken from Croats following the deliberate "ethnic cleansing" of the area that started in 1991. The UN said it would soon begin investigating reports of human rights violations by the Croats in Knin. International media reported cases of abuse of Serbian civilians and of looting, but there appears to be no evidence of the systematic brutality associated with Serbian forces in Bosnia and Croatia. The International Herald Tribune on 8 August quoted Croatian officials as denying charges by the UN that Croatian soldiers used Danish peacekeepers as human shields over the weekend. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS BLAME MILOSEVIC FOR KRAJINA'S COLLAPSE.
One of the casualties of Operation Storm was the myth of Serbian military invincibility, effectively embarrassing experts who predicted that only armies in the hundreds of thousands could dislodge them. Many Krajina Serbs were baffled and bitter that Knin fell in a single day, and one told the 7 August New York Times that "it's a great shock psychologically after it has been built up that we are winners. We all expected Serbia to protect us. Everyone thinks [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic has betrayed us." Radovan Karadzic and other Bosnian Serb leaders have also charged Milosevic with "betraying Serb interests," as "Vice President" Biljana Plavsic put it. Karadzic said that "several factors in Serbia were directly responsible for the destabilization of the Republic of Serbian Krajina," AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE CALLS FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST CROATIA.
Serbia on 7 August called for sanctions to be imposed against Zagreb, international media reported. In a letter to the UN, Belgrade described Croatia's victory over the Krajina Serbs as an act of "shameless aggression" and said the international community "must undertake concrete and resolute measures against such criminal and genocidal acts." Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 8 August reported that the Serbian Orthodox Church has issued an appeal for humanitarian aid for Serbian refugees. It also said that the Serbian and Montenegrin republican governments are no longer "fit" to lead the Serbian nation. -- Stan Markotich

MARTIC FLEES.
BETA on 7 August reported that the "president" of the former Republic of Serbian Krajina had fled following Croatia's victory in Krajina and is currently somewhere on Serb-occupied Bosnian territory. Earlier reports concerning Milan Martic's whereabouts had speculated that he had either committed suicide or had been assassinated. -- Stan Markotich

MLADIC CHOOSES GREEK DEFENSE LAWYER.
Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic has appointed Greek lawyer Alexandros Lykourezos to defend him at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, AFP reported on 7 August. A spokesman for the lawyer said Lykourezos is currently in Belgrade to discuss details of the defense. Mladic was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity by the tribunal, and in July a warrant for his arrest was issued. Lykourezos is one of Greece's most prominent lawyers. -- Stefan Krause

MACEDONIAN-YUGOSLAV DONKEY SMUGGLING AFFAIR.
A group of rump Yugoslav citizens are suspected of having organized a smuggling enterprise at the border between Kumanovo and Presevo, BETA reported on 7 August. The smugglers used donkeys without riders to transport goods across the border. Their activities were discovered when a donkey lost its baggage, which contained "something very valuable." Smuggled goods were allegedly drugs and arms. BETA also noted that the price for donkeys in Macedonia has risen to between 500 and 1,000 DM, depending on how well trained the donkeys are. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIA ON CROATIAN OFFENSIVE.
Romania's Foreign Ministry, in a statement released on 7 August and broadcast by Radio Bucharest, expressed "deep concern" over the Croatian offensive in Krajina. The statement said the recent offensive "contributed to perpetuating an extremely dangerous situation that could lead to the expansion of military operations with wider implications for the entire zone." It stressed that Romania, as a neighbor, "directly perceives the state of insecurity" in the region. Bucharest called for an immediate resumption of peace talks and offered to mediate in the conflict. The leading daily Adevarul described the outburst of joy in Zagreb over the victory in Krajina as "grotesque." It also deplored the fate of the 200,000 Serbs who have had to take refuge in neighboring Bosnia. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS PRIVATIZATION RULES.
The Bulgarian government on 7 August adopted the regulations for mass privatization, Reuters reported the same day. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev said the program is based on the Czech coupon privatization model. Companies will be on sale for both vouchers and cash. "The combined approach pursues two aims: to transfer state property into private ownership, and . . . to allow an inflow of fresh funds into the enterprises," Gechev said. Up to 200 enterprises will be included in the first round of mass privatization, which is scheduled to start by the end of 1995. Between 31% and 70% of state-owned enterprises will be privatized with vouchers, depending on investor interest. Some 20% will be offered to the employees at a preferential price, while 10% will be kept in reserve for possible restitution claims, Kontinent reported the following day. -- Stefan Krause

CHIEF EDITOR OF ALBANIAN DAILY FINED.
Arban Hasani, editor in chief of Populli PO, has been fined 100,000 lek ($1,000), for defamation, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 August. The secret service SHIK brought charges against him for wrongly reporting that a SHIK officer ordered the killing on 14 January 1994 in Shkoder of Xhovali Cekini, a member of the opposition party Democratic Alliance. A man has since been arrested for committing the crime. Allegations that the killing was organized by circles close to the ruling Democratic Party appeared in the independent media but were never confirmed. -- Fabian Schmidt

NEW ALBANIAN CONSULATE IN NORTHERN GREECE.
An Albanian consulate has opened in the northern Greek town of Ioannina, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 August. Preparations for the new consulate began in 1992, but the opening was delayed owing to deteriorating relations between the two countries in 1994. The Albanian Foreign Ministry has reportedly not yet appointed a consul-general. Meanwhile, construction of a new facility at the Albanian-Macedonian border checkpoint at Qafe e Thanes have gotten under way, BETA reported on 4 August. The new facility is expected to speed up considerably cross-border traffic. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREECE SENDS AID TO KRAJINA REFUGEES, CRITICIZES WEST.
Greek Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis on 7 August announced Greece will send medicine, food, and clothing to Serbian refugees from Krajina, international agencies reported the same day. The first two planes will leave on 8 August, and the aid will be distributed by the UN. Greece will also send doctors to the region and is considering treating some of the wounded at Greek military hospitals. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias condemned the Croatian offensive against Krajina, saying "no difference was ever solved by military means" and urging a peaceful solution. Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Georgios-Alexandros Mangakis the same day criticized the U.S. and Germany for backing Croatia's offensive against the rebel Krajina Serbs. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



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