OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
YELTSIN REPEATS ULTIMATUM TO CHECHEN FIGHTERS . . .
that widespread fighting might resume in Chechnya, President Boris Yeltsin said
on 15 August that if Chechen "bands" do not immediately begin to disarm,
federal authorities will take "extraordinary, energetic measures" to force them
to do so, Western and Russian agencies reported. Coming the day after a similar
declaration by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin's remarks were a
response to Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov's refusal to accept an
earlier Russian disarmament proposal. Interfax quoted Yeltsin as setting a
deadline of 6 p.m., local time, for the disarmament process to begin, but
presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev later denied the president had issued an
ultimatum with a fixed deadline. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
. . . BUT RESUMPTION OF HOSTILITIES AVERTED IN GROZNY.
Yeltsin's statement, General Anatolii Romanov, the commander of federal forces,
and his Chechen counterpart, Maskhadov, held a joint press conference in Grozny
at which they assured journalists that despite the recent harsh verbal
exchanges, fighting would not resume. Maskhadov said, "There will be a
fulfillment of the signed agreement," referring to the military accord
concluded on 30 July, and added that "all the combatants will disarm," except
those that the agreement defines as local self-defense guards. Maskhadov and
Romanov also said the first concrete steps in the disarmament process would
begin on 16 August. ITAR-TASS later reported that disarmament would start in
the Nozhai-Yurt region, under the personal supervision of Maskhadov and
Romanov. Chechen delegates to the ongoing talks on Chechnya's political status,
which are scheduled to resume after the disarmament process gets underway, left
Grozny on 15 August to consult with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
FSB ACCUSES FRED CUNY OF SPYING.
An unnamed senior official in the
Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that U.S. aid worker Fred Cuny, missing
in Chechnya since April, is alive and working for Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev as a member of the U.S. security services, Russian sources including
Pravda and Interfax reported on 15 August. U.S. State Department
representative David Johnson dismissed the allegations as "groundless,"
ITAR-TASS reported. The State Department said it has no concrete information on
Cuny's whereabouts. He disappeared while working on a medical relief program
sponsored by the Soros Foundation. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
FOREIGN MINISTRY CRITICIZES U.S. PEACE PROPOSAL.
Russia welcomes recent
U.S. efforts to promote a political settlement in the former Yugoslavia, but
U.S. and Russian approaches to a resolution of the conflict "do not correspond
in all respects," Mikhail Demurin, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign
Ministry, told ITAR-TASS on 15 August. Russia considers the "military aspects"
of the latest U.S. proposals, which Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
recently discussed with U.S. National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, as
"unacceptable," Demurin noted. He also reiterated Moscow's view that lifting UN
sanctions against rump Yugoslavia would be an important step towards resolving
the conflict, a view the U.S. does not share. The same day, President Boris
Yeltsin sent a letter to Arab leaders in which he denied that race or religion
play a role in Russian policy on the Yugoslav conflict. Arab nations have
frequently expressed concern that Russia favors the Orthodox Serbs in their
conflict with the Bosnian Muslims. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
KALMYKIA CALLS PRE-TERM PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
In a surprise move,
Kalmyk President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov called for new presidential elections in
the republic, which will be held on 15 October, Russian TV reported on 15
August. The day before, the legislature had voted to extend Ilyumzhinov's
current term by two years until April 2000, but the president decided on
elections instead. Ilyumzhinov said that his move was a recommendation to
President Boris Yeltsin that by calling early elections, he would be able to
win them. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
LABOR MINISTRY PREDICTS MIGRATION TRENDS.
Most of the people moving into
Russia in the next decade will be migrants from the other former Soviet
republics, a Russian Ministry of Labor Official, Aleksandr Tkachenko, told
ITAR-TASS on 15 August. Tkachenko cited specialists who believe that the most
numerous will be Russians living in the other former Soviet republics (3-4
million out of the 24 million), especially from Central Asia and the Caucasus
(2 million, with 1 million from Kazakhstan alone). Some 100,000 are expected to
move from Moldova. He estimated that no more than 300,000 of the nearly 1.6
million Russians in the Baltics will migrate to Russia. The minister also
remarked that "besides the Russian-speaking population," the specialists expect
many "indigenous peoples" from the post-Soviet states to move to Russia in
search of work. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN SIGNS LAW REGULATING CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS.
service announced on 14 August that the president has signed the Law on
Operational Investigation Activity, Radio Rossii reported. The legislation,
passed by the Duma on 5 July, regulates surveillance methods and the use of
undercover agents and informers. On 15 August, Moskovskii komsomolets
argued that it gives law enforcement agencies expanded powers to keep suspects
under surveillance, noting that special services will be able to conduct
investigations for 48 hours without notifying a judge if they have information
about a crime. On 6 July, Segodnya characterized the law as
contradictory saying it strengthens citizens' legal guarantees during
investigations while at the same time it expands officers' powers to monitor
mail, tap telephones, and so on. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
KURANTY ON CHANGE IN NUCLEAR SAFETY RULES.
Kuranty on 15
August criticized a recent presidential decree giving control over nuclear and
radiation safety at military installations to the Defense Ministry rather than
the State Committee for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (Gosatomnadzor). The paper
argued that although the change in the rules makes little difference in
practice, because the Defense Ministry has long been reluctant to give
Gosatomnadzor access to its nuclear facilities, it codifies an exception to a
unified nuclear safety supervision system. In all other cases, Gosatomnadzor
specialists run a check on organizations before they are given permission to
use nuclear materials. Kuranty contended that Gosatomnadzor is now
paying the price for being highly critical of the military's "negligent
attitude towards radiation safety." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
DRAMATIC INCREASE IN DRUG SMUGGLING.
Porous borders and widespread
corruption have created ideal conditions for a dramatic increase in drug
trafficking, Interior Ministry officials told a news conference on 15 August.
Drug squad head Nikolai Arsipov said 1.5 million Russians are now abusing drugs
and that in 1994 the authorities seized 82 tons of drugs as compared with 4
tons in 1985, according to ITAR-TASS. Osipov said the turmoil that followed the
collapse of the Soviet Union left Russia's borders virtually open to smugglers
traveling via former Soviet Central Asia, adding that many Russian army
officers in Tajikistan are involved in the drug trade, Western agencies
reported. The authorities have also registered massive flows of poppies from
Ukraine and Lithuania and hashish and marijuana from Kazakhstan. Home
production of narcotics and thefts from medical facilities have increased
rapidly as well. Osipov and other officials complained that the implementation
of a state anti-drugs program approved recently is being hampered by a lack of
funds. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
ROSTOV MINERS GO ON HUNGER STRIKE.
More than 140 coal miners from the
city of Shakhty in Rostov Oblast went on an indefinite hunger strike on 15
August in protest against wage arrears, Ostankino TV reported. The miners have
received no wages since May. Hundreds of miners from all 26 mines belonging to
the Rostovugol association in the Russian Donbass rallied outside the
associations' headquarters to demand that their wages be paid. At an emergency
meeting in Moscow the same evening, trade union and Rosugol representatives and
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais agreed to a timetable for the
payment of debts owed by the government, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Penny Morvant,
RUSSIAN MAJOR JAILED FOR SPYING.
The Supreme Court Military Collegium on
15 August sentenced former army Major Vladimir Lavrentev to 10 years
imprisonment for spying for Germany while serving in the former Western Group
of Forces in eastern Germany, Russian TV reported. Prosecutors said Lavrentev
was recruited by German intelligence in March 1991 and paid a total of DM16,000
for passing on classified documents. The court stripped him of his rank and
confiscated half his wealth. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA WILL SIGN TEST BAN TREATY.
In response to U.S. President Bill
Clinton's recent announcement that his country will support a comprehensive ban
of all nuclear tests, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin
announced on 15 August that Russia would also sign such an agreement, provided
it is "non-discriminatory," Russian and Western agencies reported. Demurin
added, however, that details of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that
would allow signatory states to assure the reliability of their nuclear
arsenals after the ban takes effect are still outstanding. The treaty is
expected to be concluded in 1996. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
NEW STEALTH FIGHTER TO BE SHOWN.
The prototype of a new MiG "stealth"
fighter will be demonstrated for the first time at the upcoming Moscow Air
Show, RIA reported on 15 August. The aircraft, said to carry the factory name
"Article 1/44" was reported to have "specially arranged nozzles to enable it to
hover over a target for pinpoint strike accuracy." Mikoyan is known to have
been working on a stealth aircraft comparable to the U.S. F-22. Western
analysts had referred to it as the I-42. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
$190 MILLION SPACE DEAL SIGNED.
Russia's Khrunichev Space Center and
U.S. Boeing Defense and Space Group signed a $190 million deal on 15 August to
develop and launch the first module of a new international space station,
Russian and Western agencies reported the same day. The module, known as a
Functional Energy Block, will be the first component of the $30 billion Alpha
space station, the world's first international high-tech orbital laboratory and
the future replacement for Russia's Mir Station. The 200-ton, six-man Alpha
space laboratory will consist of several modules and is scheduled for
completion by the year 2001. Boeing will provide the $190 million required for
Khrunichev to develop and manufacture one block for launching. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
TAJIK INTERIOR MINISTER REMOVED.
Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov
replaced his interior minister, Yakub Salimov, with Security Minister Saidamir
Zukhurov on 13 August, according to Western agencies. The official reason for
the move is Salimov's appointment as ambassador to Turkey but there is
speculation that his growing opposition to the president prompted the change.
Rakhmonov has been critical of the Interior Ministry and Salimov for failing
"to put an end to lawlessness" in Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported. Zukhurov's
position will be filled by Deputy Security Minister Saidanwar Kamolov. A
presidential press officer said Zukhurov and Kamolov had vowed to carry out a
merciless crackdown on serious crime. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
KAZAKH DIPLOMACY AND THE PIPELINE.
A framework agreement on the
establishment of a consortium, in which "every country can participate," for
the building of a pipeline to export Kazakh oil has been advanced by Kazakhstan
and accepted by Turkey. According to a 16 August report in Yeni Yuzyil,
the Turkish side offered its own plan and Almaty rejected it. The paper quoted
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev as saying a pipeline which would reach the
Mediterranean Sea via Turkey is a "new" alternative. He stressed that Russia
would also have to participate in any such venture. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
PKK ACTIVITY IN KAZAKHSTAN.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which
has been waging a bloody campaign against the Turkish state in the name of
Kurdish rights if not independence, is ensconced in Kazakhstan, according to a
16 August report in Yeni Yuzyil. The paper noted that "PKK militants"
appeared in the republic in 1992 and "divided" the local Kurdish population;
reportedly the PKK has its own publishing organ and is heavily involved in
certain markets, notably for fruit, vegetables, and automobiles. The Kurdish
population in Kazakhstan, originally exiled to the republic by Soviet dictator
Josef Stalin, is also said to have strong connections with local Meshketian
Turks. The paper speculated that the prospects of bringing an end to PKK
activity in Kazakhstan are nil. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
TURKEY OPENS $300 MILLION CREDIT LINE TO KAZAKHSTAN.
Minister Tansu Ciller concluded her visit to Kazakhstan on 15 August with a set
of agreements signed in Almaty, including an offer to open a $300 million
credit line to Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported. Part of the proposed $300
million credit will be used to boost privatization in the Kazakh agrarian
sector. "Turkey has already invested 2 billion dollars in construction in
Kazakhstan -- we want to increase that to 4 or 5 billion in a couple of years,"
Ciller told Reuters on 15 August. Among other things, the deal included a
bilateral treaty on double taxation, mutual assistance in criminal
investigations, and extradition. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
NATIONAL BANK OF UKRAINE INTERVENES TO STABILIZE CURRENCY.
Bank of Ukraine moved quickly to buy up karbovantsi in trading on its Interbank
Currency Exchange in an effort to stabilize the falling provisional currency,
Ukrainian TV and an RL correspondent in Kiev reported on 15 August. The move
caused the tender to rise slightly from a record low of 167,700 to $1 on 14
August to 167,000 the following day. Bank chairman Viktor Yushchenko said the
central bank would continue its intervention for three to four days to support
the karbovanets, which has been relatively stable over the past half year due
to the government's tight fiscal and monetary policies. Deputy Prime Minister
Anatolii Kinakh told Ukrainian TV that the government and National Bank would
not allow the karbovanets to decline below the level of 180,000 to $1 agreed
with the IMF. He said that while a devaluation was inevitable, the sudden
plunge of the karbovanets this week was unexpected. -- Chrystyna Lapychak,
ETHNIC UKRAINIANS NOW MAJORITY IN UKRAINE'S MILITARY.
now constitute 59% of the Ukrainian armed forces as opposed to 45% in 1993, the
acting head of the Ministry of Defense's personnel directorate told reporters
on 14 August. UNIAN quoted Ivan Khomyak as saying the percentage of ethnic
Russians had dropped from 48% in 1993 to 37%. He added that five of the six new
generals appointed in 1995 were also Ukrainian. Khomyak stressed, however, that
Ukrainian citizenship and not ethnic origin was the main criterion in the
formation of Ukraine's armed forces. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIA'S TRADE SHIFTS MORE TO WEST.
The State Statistics Committee
announced that in the first half of 1995 compared to same period in 1994 Latvia
increased its exports of goods by 27.8% to 327.7 million lati ($620 million)
and imports by 26.6% to 416.8 million lati, BNS reported on 15 August. The
direction of the trade also shifted as the share of imports from the European
Union grew from 35.5% to 50.9% and that of exports from 36.3% to 47.2%. Exports
to the Commonwealth of Independent States declined from 42.9% to 37% and
imports from 32% to 28%. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN LIBERAL DEMOCRATS CRITICIZE EDUCATION.
Belarusian Radio on 15
August reported that the Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus (LDPB) sent a
letter to the president, prosecutor general, and minister of education
proposing that a government commission be established to research the facts on
Belarus's enemies in World War II. According to the LDPB, school text books
should be replaced because of deficiencies. For example, in a fourth grade text
book, the Great Patriotic War was not even mentioned; in a ninth grade book, it
said that the USSR and fascist Germany had cooperated together and started the
war in 1939. The LDPB warned that such text books were raising children "in the
spirit of hate for their Slavic brother nations." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
POLISH CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF ATTACKS POLITICIANS.
The Chief of the
General Staff, General Tadeusz Wilecki, said on 15 August, the Day of the
Polish Army, that the army looks in vain for understanding among politicians
and journalists. "Every pretext is good to attack the armed forces, and destroy
any moral and commanding authority," Polish media quoted him as saying.
Political elites, according to Wilecki, have other preoccupations and postpone
matters of defense. Gazeta Wyborcza on 16 August writes that Wilecki's
claims of being subordinated to the control of civilian authorities is
ridiculous in the light of his public attack against these authorities. --
Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH, BAVARIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS SUDETEN ISSUE.
Czech Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus and Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber met on 15 August to discuss
the Sudeten question and Czech-German relations in general, Czech and
international media reported. After the meeting in Domazlice near the
Czech-Bavarian border, Klaus told journalists that finding a formula to draw a
line under past disagreements, which should take into account sensitivities on
both sides, may take longer than originally hoped. Stoiber, who was expected to
inform Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the talks, has severely criticized the
expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II and called
for the so-called Benes decrees to be repealed. A spokesman for Stoiber,
however, said that opinions expressed by both sides at the previously
unannounced meeting were "close together." Klaus repeated his view that
Czech-German relations in general were "very fruitful." -- Steve Kettle, OMRI,
FORMER COMMUNIST LEADER CHARGED AGAIN OVER 1968 INVASION.
former General Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSC), on 15
August was charged for the second time with treason over the 1968 Warsaw Pact
invasion of the country. Jakes confirmed to Czech media that he received the
charges from the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Crimes of
Communism. The original charges against Jakes and nine other former leading
Communist functionaries were dismissed by a state attorney as being wrongly
formulated. They were redrafted following a meeting between the heads of the
Office and the attorney. Jakes called the new charges more concise and emphatic
than the earlier ones but said they contained no concrete details. Others
originally charged with Jakes for plotting to set up a shadow government to
justify the invasion said they had not yet been served with any new charges. --
Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK TRADE UNIONS STAGE PROTEST.
Nearly 3,000 workers gathered in the
central Slovak town of Martin on 15 August to protest government policy on
public transportation, Pravda and TASR reported. Eugen Skultaty, deputy
chairman of the KOVO Trade Union, which organized the rally, challenged the
government coalition parties to fulfill their preelection promises concerning
social issues and declared that trade unions will participate in the decision
making process. Confederation of Slovak Trade Unions President Alojz Englis
complained that the population has not yet felt the effects of improvements in
macroeconomic indicators and stressed that workers "are no longer willing to
carry the entire burden of the economic transformation on their shoulders."
Stating that real wages in 1994 reached only 76.8% of the 1989 level, Englis
also called for an increase in the minimum wage. Two more rallies will be held
on 16 and 17 August in Krompachy and Snina. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
During its session on 15 August, the Slovak cabinet
returned the controversial draft law on universities to the parliament for
further discussion. The bill had been rejected by university officials, who
claimed it limited academic freedom by allowing the Education Ministry to
interfere in university affairs. In other news, speaking with Sme of 16
August, opposition Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky
called attention to the fact that the National Property Fund (FNM) has recently
increased direct sales of state-owned firms. He criticized the FNM's methods,
saying that many attractive firms have been sold at a fraction of their value.
Most recently, the FNM decided to sell 39% of its shares in the giant Slovnaft
oil refinery to Slovintegra, a company owned by Slovnaft managers and
employees. Although the shares are worth over 6 billion koruny, the FNM
required a first installment of only 100 million koruny from Slovintegra,
Sme reported on 15 August. The sale was made despite the interest of a
number of foreign investors in the firm. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
ECONOMIC NEWS FROM HUNGARY.
The country's Central Statistical Office
announced on 15 August that Hungarian consumer prices rose by 0.9% in July from
June and by 27.8% in comparison with July last year, international media
report. Also on the 15th, Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman told journalists
in Budapest that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is
considering an investment of $300 million in Hungarian privatization,
especially in the energy sector. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
CEFTA AGRICULTURE MINISTERS MEET IN SLOVAKIA.
Agriculture ministers from
Slovenia and the four member countries of the Central European Free Trade
Agreement (CEFTA) held a two-day working meeting on 14-15 August. In Bratislava
they discussed decreasing customs tariffs on more than 630 agricultural and
food commodities. The commodities were divided into three categories: the first
group including coffee, cocoa and tea will be duty free from January 1996, the
second group of 21 products (including poultry, dried milk, hops, and sugar)
will have low custom tariffs, while the third group (including "strategic"
commodities such as milk, pork, and cattle) is more controversial. Negotiations
are not yet finished, but when completed, the proposal will be discussed by the
countries' prime ministers in the Czech town of Brno, TASR and Hospodarske
noviny report. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
KARADZIC CALLS EXPULSIONS FAMILY REUNIFICATION.
Herald Tribune on 16 August said that 1,000 Bosnian Croat refugees arrived
in Davor from Banja Luka on 14 August as did 1,200 on the 15th, while similar
numbers are expected in coming days. A UN spokesman noted that the Bosnian Serb
"authorities are putting out the word to all village heads to tell all
minorities in their areas to assemble and prepare to leave." AFP quoted a
spokeswoman for Medecins sans Frontieres as calling it "a perfect working
system to get all those people out. It's scary." In contrast to the Krajina
Serb refugees, who left in well-loaded columns of vehicles, the Croats can take
only what they can carry and must pay at least DM 100 as a fee. Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic said that "the world is trying now to move Muslims and
Croats [out of Banja Luka]. I will not cause columns of refugees- But if
somebody wants to leave and rejoin one's family, that is one's right." Bosnian
Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic said he feared that the military-age men being
detained will wind up in "mass killings and mass graves." -- Patrick Moore,
BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT REJECTS U.S. PARTITION PLAN . . .
of State Richard Holbrooke continues to travel around the former Yugoslavia
with what a State Department spokesman called "fresh ideas." The Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung on 16 August wrote that Holbrooke's package is a
partition plan despite all assurances to the contrary, and the Wall Street
Journal added that details are deliberately being kept vague and out of the
public eye so that Washington can distance itself from the project if it proves
unworkable. The International Herald Tribune said that "fog" is
preventing Holbrooke from going to Sarajevo for two or three days. Bosnia's
ambassador to Switzerland said that the plan "is only to buy time for the
Serbs. We will never trade with our country." The project reportedly would
require the government to swap Gorazde for land around Sarajevo. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
. . . BUT THE SERBS LIKE IT.
The VOA on 16 August said that Bosnian Serb
leaders are pleased with the plan sponsored by Holbrooke, who was known last
January as "the architect" of the short-lived policy of directly negotiating
with Pale despite a UN ban on such contacts. Bosnian Serb "Foreign Minister"
Aleksa Buha told news agencies that if the details of the plan that he has read
in the press are true, "then we can look to the future with greater
confidence." Senior Bosnian Serb officials are said to be in Geneva for the
first time in about a year. Parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik and Karadzic
spokesman Jovan Zametica are reportedly holding talks with mediators Thorvald
Stoltenberg and Carl Bildt. Karadzic himself wants a new international
conference, saying that "the time is ripe for a conference which would bring a
solution." SRNA also quoted him as saying that he expects "important political
initiatives" by the end of August. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA GIVES WARNING ON DUBROVNIK.
The UN's "rapid reaction force" is
having problems getting the Bosnian government and the Croats to agree to its
deployment. Both suspect that the British and the French favor the Serbs and
have come to prevent the Croat-Muslim federation from consolidating itself
politically and from winning on the battlefield. A British spokesman with the
24th Air Mobile Brigade stuck on the coast noted that things are "not moving
very swiftly." Meanwhile, Croatia's ambassador to the UN told Vjesnik on
16 August that Croatia will give a firm response if the Serbs continue shelling
the Dubrovnik area from the nearby heights. Reuters added that army commander
General Zvonimir Cervenko warned that, if the Serbs do not desist, "we shall
very soon take measures to make them give up such actions." UN sources said
that Croatian troops have been moving in the area, and that the UN is watching
to see if a brigade on standby in Split starts moving south. -- Patrick Moore,
MILOSEVIC ORCHESTRATES REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT.
Reuters on 15 August
carried a report explaining that police authorities in Belgrade have formed a
tight cordon around the capital in order to keep most of the flood of Krajina
refugees from entering the city. The report suggests that Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic has identified the refugees as a potential source of
opposition to his regime, and is acting therefore "to disperse them [under
police escort and throughout towns and villages] as quickly as possible." One
Western diplomatic source is quoted as saying the "refugees will move the
political agenda back to the right, back towards the nationalist rhetoric
Milosevic has been trying to dump . . . That's why they cannot be allowed to
stay together in large numbers." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
KRAJINA REFUGEES REFUSE TO GO TO KOSOVO.
Some 800 refugees from Krajina
have refused to board trains that would take them to Kosovo for two days, AFP
and Reuters quote Radio B 92 as reporting on 15 August. Police are preventing
the people from leaving the train station in Kusadak near Smederevska Palanka,
south east of Belgrade, and are supplying the refugees only with water.
Authorities reportedly also hindered local people from helping the refugees, or
letting them use the telephone. Despite the strong attachment Serbian
nationalists claim for Kosovo, only a few Serbs are willing to live in the
impoverished region that has an Albanian majority. According to the Red Cross,
only 1,180 out of 130,000 refugees who have crossed the border into Serbia
since last week have reached Kosovo. Serbian authorities plan to settle 6,000
refugees in Kosovo immediately and another 10,000 subsequently. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS OF BROADENING CONFLICT . . .
In a letter
sent to the UN Security Council and the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Contact Group, Albanian Foreign Minister
Alfred Serreqi called on the organizations to take measures to prevent the
extension of the war into the south of the Balkans. Serreqi said that Belgrade
plans to colonize Kosovo with refugees and to indulge in more "ethnic
cleansing". Serreqi warned that Kosovo could become "another Bosnia" and added
that Albania will not stand passively on the sidelines if the conflict in
former Yugoslavia extends to the province, Reuters reported on 15 August. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND ROMANIAN RULING PARTY ON SITUATION.
In a communique broadcast
by Radio Bucharest on 15 August, the ruling Party of Social Democracy in
Romania (PDSR) deplored the loss of human lives and the "dramatic fate" of the
Krajina refugees. The PDSR expressed concern over a possible spill over of the
conflict in former Yugoslavia as a consequence of the Croatian offensive and
the resumption of armed actions in Bosnia. The party called on all sides
involved to show restraint and return to the negotiating table in order to find
a solution to the conflict. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
TWO SPY PLANES FAIL TO RETURN FROM BOSNIA TO ALBANIA.
Predator spy planes deployed to monitor troop movements in Bosnia have not
returned to their base in Gjader in northern Albania. According to a statement
from the Pentagon, one plane crashed due to a motor defect and there is no
confirmation whether the other was shot down or had a technical failure. The US
had sent four Predator planes to Albania to take video pictures of Bosnia in
support of NATO operations. The value of one plane is about $2 million. BETA
carried the story on 15 August. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
NEW RUMP YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER NAMED.
Tanjug on 15 August reported
that rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic has been replaced by
Milan Milutinovic. Belgrade's ambassador to Greece, Milutinovic is reportedly a
close personal friend of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. No official
explanation has been offered for the change. Meanwhile, Jovanovic, who has also
been a close political confidant of the Serbian president, is expected to be
named as ambassador to the UN by federal President Zoran Lilic. -- Stan
Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON HDFR INITIATIVE.
reported on 15 August that the Constitutional Court has given the green light
for parliamentary debates on a draft law for education in minority languages.
The draft was worked out by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, the
main political organization of the country's large Hungarian minority. The
HDFR, which collected nearly 500,000 signatures in favor of its legislative
initiative, has been among the strongest opponents of a new education law that
was recently adopted by the Romanian parliament. The HDFR considers that law as
discriminating against ethnic minorities. The government repeatedly rejected
the accusations. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle