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Newsline - August 16, 1995


Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
Fueling speculation 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.

Following 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.

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.

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.

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.

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's press 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 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.

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.

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, OMRI, Inc.

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.

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.

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.

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, Inc.


Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
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.

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, Inc.

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.

Turkish Prime 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.


Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
The National 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, OMRI, Inc.

Ethnic Ukrainians 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.

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 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, Inc.

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 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, Inc.

Milos Jakes, 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.

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.

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.

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.


Vol. 1, No. 159, 16 August 1995
The International 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, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. Undersecretary 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.

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.

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, OMRI, Inc.

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.

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.

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.

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 unmanned 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.

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 media 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