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Newsline - August 15, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 158, 15 August 1995
RUSSIA TOUGHENS STANCE IN GROZNY TALKS . . .
At a 14 August Kremlin meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, and Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, President Boris Yeltsin expressed dissatisfaction with the deadlocked process of disarming Chechen fighters but reiterated that the negotiation process must continue, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chernomyrdin subsequently told reporters that the Chechen side had until 6 p.m. local time to accept the most recent Russian plan for implementing the disarmament provisions of the 30 July military accord. He added that if the Chechen fighters did not "stop playing games" with the disarmament process, they would face "severe measures." The failure to move the disarmament process forward threatens to torpedo the entire negotiated peace process in Chechnya and could trigger renewed fighting, NTV commented. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BUT CHECHEN DELEGATION REBUFFS ULTIMATUM.
In Grozny that evening, Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov refused to accept this ultimatum and rejected the Russian disarmament plan, calling some of its provisions unacceptable. However, he did promise to assist in carrying out the provisions of the military accord. Late in the evening of 14 August, the Russian government responded with an official statement accusing "the Dudaev regime" of attempting to unilaterally change the terms of the military accord and again threatening to take "all necessary measures" to implement the accord. With fears of renewed fighting increasing, NTV reported that the situation in many Chechen villages appears very unstable. Talks on implementing the military accord between Maskhadov and General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, are scheduled to resume on 15 August, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.


YELTSIN VETOES LAW ON CHECHNYA CRISIS.
On 14 August, President Yeltsin vetoed a bill that the Duma had passed on 12 July, specifying the process for negotiating a political settlement in Chechnya. Yeltsin justified his veto in a letter to Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin that said the proposed law would contradict the Russian constitution and would violate the principle of separation of powers. Yeltsin especially objected to a provision of the law that would have charged a joint commission of officials from all branches of government with negotiating a settlement to the Chechen conflict and another clause prohibiting the stationing of Russian troops in Chechnya, except for those permanently based there. Both provisions infringed on presidential powers, Yeltsin contended. Since last year, both houses of the Federal Assembly have repeatedly tried without success to establish legislative oversight of government policy in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.


FSB ON TURKISH INVOLVEMENT IN CHECHNYA.
Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) spokesman Alexander Mikhailov claimed that Turks are responsible for Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's communications systems and Russian demands for an explanation from Ankara have so far received only "very vague" answers, Rabochaya tribuna reported on 11 August. Mikhailov pointed to the arrest in the spring of Turkish national Isak Kasap as evidence of Turkey's involvement in rendering aid to Dudaev. Mikhailov also said that FSB representatives traveled to Turkey to discuss this matter and were told that the country is not aiding Dudaev, but that Turkish officials "cannot stop" the Chechen diaspora from helping their "native country" and that they cannot control transfers of money from Turkey "via American banks." He also said armed units from Afghanistan and Jordan are fighting on Dudaev's side. Turkish North Caucasians of Circassian and Abkhaz descent are numerous and largely assimilated; Turkey's Chechen community is tiny, numbering at most 40,000 people but probably closer to 3,000. (CORRECTION: Isak Kasap was arrested on 23 April 1995, not in late May as reported in OMRI Daily Digest, 14 August 1995.) -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

FOREIGN MINISTRY BACKTRACKS ON YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS.
An unnamed high-ranking diplomat at the Russian Foreign Ministry backed away from earlier comments by President Yeltsin and a bill passed by the Duma, suggesting that Russia was not seriously considering unilaterally abandoning UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Interfax reported on 14 August. The diplomat said that "we are not ruling out such measures, but we think we can do without them for the time being." Interfax also quoted the diplomat as characterizing the Duma bill as merely "rhetorical" and without "practical content." Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin later disavowed this comment, telling Interfax that the Foreign Ministry had not yet received a full text of the bill and would "closely examine" it when it arrived. Against the backdrop of these contradictory comments, several Moscow papers have harshly criticized the lack of any coherent strategy in Russian policy towards the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

KALMYKIYA EXTENDS TERM OF ITS PRESIDENT.
The legislature of Kalmykiya, a small republic in southwest Russia, has voted to extend the term of its president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, until the year 2000, Russian and Western agencies reported. The body turned down an alternative proposal to make him president for life. Russian TV stereotyped that proposal as a product of the "specific Eastern character" of the republic. The 33-year-old Ilyumzhinov, a wealthy businessman before becoming president in April 1993, disbanded the previous republican legislature and local councils on coming to power. NTV stressed the president's draconian approach to crime prevention in Kalmykiya, reporting his suggestion at the session that thieves' hands be severed. -- Robert Orttung and Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

ISAKOV: DUMA WILL NOT BACK DOWN ON FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW.
The Duma will cooperate with the president and Federation Council to draft a new law on the parliament's upper house following the president's veto, ITAR-TASS quoted Vladimir Isakov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Legislation, as saying on 14 August. He said that a conciliatory commission is slated to meet on 28 August and asked President Yeltsin and the upper house to designate delegates to it. However, he warned that the Duma will not back down from its position that the members of the Federation Council must be elected but added that the possibility of compromise is "not hopeless." Nevertheless, an article he published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 15 August was harshly critical of Yeltsin's position on this issue. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

FORWARD, RUSSIA! ADOPTS PARTY LIST.
Forward, Russia! named the top three members of its party list at its congress on 14 August. Former Finance Minister Boris Fedorov, the party's leader, tops the list, while Bella Denisenko, chairwoman of the Duma Committee on Health Care, is second and Aleksandr Vladislavlev, one of the leaders of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, is third, Russian Public TV reported. Vladislavlev's appointment was a surprise and apparently only happened at the last minute. He was one of the leaders of the Civic Union political bloc. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC UNION REJECTS RYBKIN BLOC.
Vasilii Lipitskii's Social Democratic Union will campaign independently, Lipitskii told Russian Public TV on 14 August. Lipitskii was one of the original supporters of Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin's left-center bloc but now has decided that the bloc will not be social-democratic enough for his taste. Rybkin's bloc is scheduled to hold its founding congress at the end of August. Lipitskii's Social Democratic Union grew out of the Russian Social Democratic People's Party which split when former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, the party's leader, formed his Derzhava movement. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ARZAMAS-16 GETS OLD NAME BACK.
President Yeltsin signed a decree on 14 August giving the formerly secret nuclear research city known as Arzamas-16 its old name of Sarov, ITAR-TASS reported. Sarov was a major religious center for more than 200 years before the Soviet authorities turned it into a hub of nuclear research in 1946. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

BELYAEV SAYS INCOME FROM PRIVATIZATION ON TARGET.
Russian State Property Committee Chairman Sergei Belyaev announced that state privatization sales this year are on target and will bring in 8.7 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) to the state coffers, Radio Rossii reported on 14 August. Belyaev told the press that the state-owned share in the Russian Joint Energy System and Rostelecom are currently being sold and those sales are expected to bring a "solid contribution" to the state budget. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

MINISTRY SOURCE CLAIMS STOCKPILE OF FOREIGN GRAIN.
According to information from an Economic News Agency correspondent from a source in Russia's Food and Agriculture Ministry, certain domestic commercial entities have purchased 2 million tons of food-grade wheat from foreign countries, Izvestiya reported on 15 August. According to the report, the grain has been shipped to Russia and stored already. The commercial entities are now waiting for wheat prices to climb this fall. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 158, 15 August 1995
KYRGYZ PRESIDENT SACKS COMPANY MANAGERS.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has fired several top managers, including the directors of the Kant oil products supply enterprise and the Sokuluk trade machinery plant, for tax evasion, according to a Kyrgyz Radio broadcast monitored by the BBC. The Kyrgyz prosecutor general has received orders to examine the "criminal liability" of other managers and officials at a number of enterprises. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

BAIKONUR TALKS BOG DOWN.
Some issues relating to the Russian lease of the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan remain unresolved, according to a Kazakh Radio report monitored by the BBC on 10 August. Legal experts on both sides are unable to compromise on two issues, namely cooperation between Kazakh and Russian law-enforcement bodies in the zone of the rocket launch site and settlements for lease payments. Negotiations on the mechanism for implementing the 20-year lease with an annual rent of $115 million are to be wrapped up by the beginning of September. In mid-April Kazakhstan's president ratified the agreement by decree; Russia ratified it in early May. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

IRAN TO INVEST IN KAZAKH PORT.
Following talks between Kazakh Minister of Transport and Communications Serik Aligozhanov and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran has offered to help reconstruct the Kazakh Caspian sea port of Aktau, Kazakh Radio reported on 10 August. According to the report which was monitored by the BBC, an expert group will be formed "in a week" to study the situation "on the spot." Iran has offered $49 million for the project. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

KARIMOV AND DEMIREL MEET.
A closed-door meeting between Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, took place on 10 August in the Turkish resort of Kemer where Karimov is vacationing. According to a Turkish Television (TRT) broadcast monitored by the BBC, Demirel said after the meeting that "there are no problems in our bilateral relations." The recent trip of Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller to Tashkent demonstrated an improvement in bilateral relations that had been cool. Karimov's stay in Turkey and meeting with Demirel reinforces this view. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

INDONESIA TO INVEST IN UZBEKISTAN.
Indonesia's ambassador in Tashkent, Hasan Abduljali, told Interfax on 10 August that his country will invest $280 million in Uzbekistan in the next three years. The bulk of the funds will be invested in Indonesian-Uzbek joint ventures; $100 million of which will go into telecommunications, another $100 million into the textile industry, and the remainder divided almost evenly between hotel businesses and the mining industry. This is in keeping with an agreement reached during a recent visit of Indonesian businessmen to Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

PIPELINE PRESSURE RISING.
The Caspian Oil Pipeline Consortium (Russia, Kazakhstan, and Oman) has announced its decision to lay a pipeline connecting the Russian city of Kropotkin with a projected marine oil terminal north of Novorossiisk. The 250 km-long pipeline is to export not only Russian but also Azerbaijani and Kazakh oil, according to a 14 August Russian Public TV report. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA'S CASPIAN PACKAGE AND TURKMENISTAN.
Russia has prepared a package of documents on the legal status and "rational" use of the Caspian Sea, Interfax reported on 12 August. The documents "take into account" the interests of all the littoral states, according to a letter sent to Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The letter was delivered by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, who is in Turkmenbasi (Krasnovodsk) to discuss the status of the Caspian Sea and boosting bilateral economic relations. Niyazov's remarks concerning the Caspian hew closely to the Russian line; after Turkmenistan provides its rubber stamp support to the package, Iran can be expected to follow suit. Bolshakov and Niyazov are also expected to discuss a project to link Russia, Turkmenistan, and Iran in a "single transport corridor." -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS


RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN FRIENDSHIP TREATY COMES INTO FORCE.
On 11 August, the Russian-Belarusian treaty on friendship and cooperation, which had been signed in Minsk by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, came into force, Belarusian TV reported on 13 August. Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko exchanged documents with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov confirming that both parliaments had ratified the accord. Syanko said the agreement is necessary so that relations with Russia can proceed smoothly. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 158, 15 August 1995
UKRAINIAN PROVISIONAL CURRENCY DECLINES SHARPLY.
The value of the karbovanets has fallen from 152,000 to 167,700 to $1 on the National Bank's Interbank Currency Exchange in the past week, Ukrainian TV and Interfax reported on14 August. On the black market, it has plunged to a record low of 200,000 to $1. National Bank of Ukraine officials blame the devaluation on panic-buying of dollars by enterprises and individuals following the government's announcement that monetary reform and the introduction of a new permanent tender, the hryvna, are imminent. Beginning 1 August, Ukraine banned the use of foreign currency for cash retail and service transactions. Deputy Interior Minister Yurii Vandin told UNIAR on 14 August that some $4 billion was in circulation on the black market. Volodymyr Radchenko, chief of Ukraine's security service, said the black market serves as the primary source of income for some 2.5 million people, including up to 40% of youths in big cities. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

COAL MINERS' STRIKE AVERTED IN UKRAINE.
A pledge from Ukraine's coal industry minister to settle miners' wage arrears averted a scheduled miner's rally in the Ukrainian capital, UNIAN and a Radio Liberty correspondent in Kiev reported on14 August. Organizers called off the strike after Viktor Poltavets, the minister, ordered the managers of coal enterprises to pay wages owed for May, June and July by 21 August. Poltavets also ordered the directors of the still mainly state-owned coal mines to submit proposals to the ministry by 15 August on where to find money to raise coal miners' wages. Miners rank second after teachers in the amount of back pay owed them, according to the statistics ministry. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

SEVASTOPOL PROTESTS RUSSIAN BROADCAST.
The deputy chairman of Sevastopol's city executive, Borys Kucher, sent a message to the head of Russian Public Television protesting a newscast from 11 August which claimed that municipal leaders had applied to the International Court in The Hague to confirm Russian status for the city, Ukrainian Radio reported on 14 August. Several lines from Kucher's telegram were left out when it was broadcast by Russian Public Television. The telegram stated: "The Sevastopol city administration would have regarded the broadcast by Russian Public Television as just an April fool's joke if it did not have such far-reaching consequences. This concerns some hotheads who do not approve of the Russian and Ukrainian presidents' position on the Black Sea Fleet." The telegram also said that aid to Sevastopol in repairing railways after the recent accident came only from the Ukrainian side. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

EBRD CREDIT TO UKRAINE.
The EBRD will open a $13 million credit line to the First Ukrainian International Bank (FUIB) to develop Ukrainian agricultural enterprises, Interfax reported on 14 April. Under the agreement signed in London last week, the FUIB will offer medium-term credits for special projects to agricultural enterprises. This is the first bank-to-bank credit line the EBRD has opened to Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

MEETING OF LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTERS.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, returning from Tallinn, stopped in Riga on 13 August for talks with his Latvian counterpart Maris Gailis, RFE/RL reported the following day. By obtaining Latvia's agreement that Lithuania should control the air space over the Baltic Sea closest to its borders, Lithuania gains revenues of some $1 million a year in fees from airlines. The premiers agreed that Foreign Ministers Povilas Gylys and Valdis Birkavs would meet in the near future to discuss the demarcation of the sea border between the two countries. The next meeting of the premiers will take place in September in Ventspils. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUS TO INTRODUCE NEW FORM OF MILITARY SERVICE.
The Defense Ministry is proposing that a new type of "reserve service" be introduced, Belarusian Radio reported on 14 August. Under the plan, a young man would learn a specialty in a military unit without quitting his civilian job. He would serve 35 weekends or their equivalent with the unit and attend a three-month camp. Other changes in the ministry's draft of a new law on universal military service include allowing 17-year-olds to enlist voluntarily. It also provides for contract service, and alternative service for citizens whose religious beliefs do not allow them to bear arms. The report said that the draft law would be submitted to the Security Council by 1 September. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUS GETTING HELP IN MEETING ITS ARMS COMMITMENTS.
A source in the Belarusian Foreign Ministry told Interfax on 14 August that the republic's search for ways to cut costs while meeting its arms control commitments was having some success. The source listed an agreement with the United States in which the U.S. would pay hard currency compensation for some of the cost of hosting arms inspection teams, and a pledge by Japan to provide $5.2 million to curb nuclear proliferation. The source also said that Belarus had received the right to export 298 T-80 tanks rather then be forced to destroy them to meet the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) ceilings. It can also keep some 500 decommissioned military vehicles for domestic use. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

OPINION POLL SHOWS WHAT POLES CONDEMN.
According to a Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP) survey carried out in July, almost all Polish adults consider refusal to pay alimony as a social sin. Among respondents over 16, 95% condemned this while 93% opposed possession of drugs and the same number condemned desecration of religious symbols. Persecuting persons because they are of a different nationality was disapproved by 80%, sex for money by 79%, sexual relations with a person of the same sex by 74%, hiding income in a statement for the treasury by 64%, and refusal of military service by 59%. Other subjects widely disapproved in the poll included illegal demonstrations against the authorities (58%), illegal strikes (57%), abortion (49%), euthanasia (48%), not voting in elections (39%), divorce (39%), and premarital sex (35%). Older people, those with less education, rural inhabitants, and those who declare that they are believers practicing regularly, are less tolerant than others, Polish dailies reported on 11 and 14 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH CURRENCY RESERVES CONTINUE TO RISE.
Hard currency reserves held by the Czech National Bank amounted to $10.1 billion as of 1 August, Hospodarske noviny reported on 15 August. It added that the total reserves in the Czech banking system were $12.6 billion, representing a modest rise in the past few weeks. Measures brought by the CNB to restrict a huge inflow of short-term speculative capital into the Czech Republic came into force on 3 August. Hospodarske noviny, however, quoted CNB spokesman Martin Svehla as saying the measures were not expected to reduce the amount of reserves overall but rather to change structurally the proportions of long-term and short-term foreign capital in the Czech economy. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EXERCISE TO BE HELD IN SLOVAKIA.
The first international military exercise held in Slovakia since it gained independence in January 1993 will take place from 6 to 14 September within the Partnership for Peace program. Soldiers from the Austrian, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak armies will take part in the "Rozhodnost 95" exercise, to be held in the military training area of Lest, Slovak media report on 14 and 15 August. The main aim of the exercise is to improve understanding among Slovakia's closest neighbors. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK COMMUNIST REFUSES BLAME FOR 1968 INVASION.
In a two-part interview with Pravda on 12 and 14 August, former high-ranking Communist Party official Vasil Bilak said he did not sign the "invitation letter" asking the Warsaw Pact armies to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968. Russian President Boris Yeltsin presented the letter to then Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel in summer 1992, and Bilak is the only alleged signatory who is still alive. His name has been mentioned in connection with treason charges recently brought up again in the Czech Republic, but he remains free in Slovakia. Bilak confirmed that at a meeting of six Warsaw Pact member states on 3 August 1968, "a long white envelope" was handed over to the Soviet delegation which contained a resolution stating that "not only the building but also the protection of socialism is a joint task for all socialist countries." Bilak said he did not consider the resolution an invitation and stressed that Czechoslovakia would have been invaded in any case. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 158, 15 August 1995
"SINISTER" DEVELOPMENT IN BANJA LUKA EXODUS.
This is how UN spokesman Chris Jankowski described the Bosnian Serb announcement that Croat and Muslim males of military age will not be allowed to leave, international media reported on 15 August. Bosnian Serb officials had earlier ordered the expulsion of all Croats and Muslims from the Banja Luka region. Estimates vary as to what constitutes military age and how many Croats and Muslims still live there, but there appear to be roughly 50,000 persons remaining out of a prewar population of 500,000 non-Serbs. The Croats are being deported to Croatia and the Muslims to territory controlled by the Bosnian government, ostensibly to make room for refugees from Krajina. But there is plenty of other space available in Bosnian Serb-held regions following more than three years of systematic "ethnic cleansing." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBIA REOPENS BORDERS TO KRAJINA SERBS.
Another reason that the Bosnian Serbs' excuse for the expulsions rings hollow is that most of the Krajina Serbs want to get out of Bosnia and as far away from the fighting as possible. Many plan new futures in North America or Australia, Monitor reported on 11 August, but the first stop would be Serbia. Belgrade, however, had closed the crossings at Sremska Raca, Badovinci, and Trobrnica to military-aged males in order to force them to return to Bosnian Serb territory and fight. Nasa Borba reported on 15 August that those crossings have been reopened, and AFP noted that 130,000 Krajina Serbs have entered Serbia to date. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

MILAN MARTIC CALLS FOR GUERRILLA WAR.
Krajina's "president" has issued a call for Croatian Serbs to return home to fight. AFP on 14 August quoted him as speaking from "free territory" in Krajina. Martic said all government members and other Serbs should "return and liberate" their homeland. Politika reported on 15 August, however, that "Krajina" will henceforth be limited to Sector East, or eastern Slavonia. The UN is drastically scaling down its presence in Croatia following Operation Storm 10 days ago, which effectively rendered much of the peacekeepers' mission superfluous. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

BATTLEFIELD UPDATE.
International media reported on 15 August that Bosnian government forces continued to advance toward Donji Vakuf in central Bosnia. In the mountains above Dubrovnik, Bosnian Serb guns on 14 August pounded the region around the medieval city for the third straight day, while Croatian forces sought to relieve the pressure by shelling the Serb stronghold of Trebinje. Mlada fronta dnes on 15 August quoted the Croatian minister for tourism as saying that vacationers could now safely return to the Dalmatian coast and islands as far south as the Dubrovnik region thanks to Operation Storm. Czech officials stressed, however, that in their opinion only Istria, Kvarner, and the coast down to Rijeka could truly be considered safe for now. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

REFUGEE UPDATE IN MONTENEGRO.
Montena-fax reported on 14 August that, according to Red Cross estimates, at least 450 refugees from Krajina have arrived in the rump Yugoslav republic. Montenegrin authorities had appealed to the international community to allow refugees to reach Montenegro via the port of Bar, which had been closed to international traffic in accordance with the international sanctions imposed against the rump Yugoslavia in May 1992 for its role in fomenting the wars throughout the former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.


SERBIAN UPDATE.
The leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), Vuk Draskovic, met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on 14 August. BETA the same day reported that the reason for the meeting was unclear, but noted that assembled reporters were in part "awaiting the arrival" of diplomatic representatives, who did not materialize. In other news, Nasa Borba on 15 August reports that the telecommunications firm Bel Paget appears to have plans to eventually turn Belgrade "into one of the telecommunications centers of CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE." A company representative and Serbia's Minister of Private Enterprise Radoje Djukic reportedly discussed an initial investment of some $20 million to build a mobile telephone infrastructure. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN RED CROSS TO HELP KRAJINA REFUGEES.
In a statement released on 14 August, the Romanian Red Cross announced that it was planning to send 20 tons of flour to help Serb refugees from Krajina. The communique, which was read on Radio Bucharest, said that the Red Cross was still awaiting the approval of the special UN Security Council committee watching over the compliance with the sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. The Romanian Red Cross launched an appeal for further donations in favor of the refugees. In a separate development, Adrian Nastase, Executive Chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania and a former Foreign Minister, said on 14 August that the embargo against rump Yugoslavia has lost its justification. Nastase recommended that a European summit should examine the conflicts in former Yugoslavia. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BREAD RATIONING IN THE DNIESTER REGION.
Moldova's breakaway Dniester Region announced that bread rationing would be introduced in Tiraspol as of 24 August, Reuters reported on 14 August. The ration of cheap, subsidized bread is 500 grams per day per person. Bread can also be bought freely in private shops, but it costs up to three times more than the rationed bread. The region's economy is reportedly in bad shape but local authorities, dominated by former Communists, continue to oppose market reforms. Rampant impoverishment makes even staples a luxury for ordinary Dniester inhabitants. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN OFFICIALS INVESTIGATED FOR VIOLATING UN SANCTIONS.
Bulgarian prosecutors are investigating several state railway officials for violating UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Reuters reported on 14 August. The same day, Angel Ganev, head of the Prosecutor's Office Investigation Departments, said that the indictment against three officials is ready, and that charges are also being prepared against former State Railway Director-General Atanas Tonev, who was dismissed last year (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 July 1995). Ganev said that "several additional legal cases [are] being prepared," but declined to give a figure. Bulgarian media said as many as 40 officials are under investigation for illegally exporting petroleum products, furniture, and cement to rump Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT URGED TO STAY NEUTRAL IN YUGOSLAV CONFLICT.
President Zhelyu Zhelev's adviser for national security Rumen Danov on 14 August told RFE/RL that the country must stick to its position of "categoric and demonstrative non-intervention" in the Yugoslav conflict, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. He said that a possible Russian unilateral withdrawal from UN sanctions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 August 1995) may be dangerous for Bulgaria as it could prompt similar reactions from other countries. He said the president's office was sure that the government "will not be so stupid" as to follow the Russian Duma's example. Meanwhile, the cabinet will not hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the issue, Trud reports, since withdrawing from the sanctions requires a parliamentary vote. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

MAVI MEMBERS NOT INVOLVED IN ATTACK ON ALBANIAN BARRACKS?
The Greek Supreme Court said it had no evidence that eight members of the Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI), arrested in late March, were involved in an attack on an Albanian army barracks in Peshkepi in April 1994, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 15 August. One of the accused was released on bail but the remaining seven still face charges of illegal possession and trafficking of weapons. With the court's ruling, charges of "endangering and troubling relations with a neighboring country [ . . . probably . . . ] leading to war" were dropped. When arrested, the MAVI members had Kalashnikov rifles that were allegedly taken from the Albanian barracks in last year's terrorist attack. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN VISA AGREEMENT.
The Albanian cabinet approved an agreement with Macedonia about the lifting of visa requirements for diplomatic and business passports and the unification of border tolls for other kinds of visa. The agreement also regulates special rights for people living in both countries' border regions, especially on paying lower border tolls. According to BETA on 14 August, there is, however, no information yet available about whether the tolls will be dropped or merely reduced. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle




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