OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 161, 18 August 1995
RUSSIAN PLANES BOMB CHECHEN FIGHTERS.
Russian planes attacked Chechen
positions near the town of Roshni Chu on 17 August, Russian and Western
agencies reported. An RFE/RL correspondent saw the planes drop bombs about 1:30
p.m. local time. A Russian military spokesman said the air strike was launched
in response to Chechen attacks on federal troops. In Grozny, Chechen chief
negotiator Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov said the attack threatened to undermine the
ongoing negotiation and disarmament process but expressed readiness to resume
political negotiations on the basis of the 30 July military accord, despite
recent statements by Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev contradicting some of
the accord. In spite of the bombing, Chechen fighters in the towns of Shali and
Gudermes began disarming on 17 August. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
FRED CUNY'S FAMILY HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE.
Relatives of U.S. aid
specialist Fred Cuny, missing in Chechnya since April, said at a 17 August
press conference in Moscow that they believe Cuny was killed by Chechen
separatist fighters shortly after he disappeared on 8 April. According to
Cuny's brother Christopher, Russian intelligence agents arranged to have Fred
Cuny killed in retaliation for his earlier published criticism of the Russian
military intervention in Chechnya. Disinformation planted by the Russian
Federal Security Service (FSB), added Cuny's brother, led the Chechen
separatists to execute Fred Cuny as an intelligence agent on 14 April. While
the U.S. Embassy in Moscow officially announced that it could not confirm the
family's information, an anonymous American diplomat described the story as
"credible." Aleksandr Mikhailov, spokesman for the FSB, told Interfax on 17
August that the Cuny family's account is "nonsense" and said the FSB believes
Cuny is still alive. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
FOREIGN MINISTRY EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ABM TREATY.
Mikhail Demurin, a
spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told ITAR-TASS on 17 August that
Russia believes a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, calling for the design and
financing of a limited defense against ballistic missile attack by the year
2003, would lead to the "actual liquidation" of the 1972 agreement. The
diplomat warned that Russia continues to regard the ABM agreement as the
cornerstone of all other strategic arms control agreements. New American
initiatives which violated the ABM treaty could cause the Duma to refuse to
ratify START-2 and might lead Russia to withdraw from START-1, Demurin added.
The bill, a compromise version of an earlier Republican-sponsored proposal that
was criticized by the Clinton administration, awaits examination by the full
Senate this coming September. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN APPOINTS YEGOROV AS AIDE.
President Boris Yeltsin appointed
Nikolai Yegorov as an aide for regional and national policy, Rossiiskie
vesti reported on 18 August. Yegorov was deputy prime minister and minister
for nationalities and regional policy until he was forced to resign on 30 June,
along with Interior Minister Viktor Yerin and Federal Security Service Director
Sergei Stepashin, following the terrorist acts in Budennovsk. During his
previous term in office, Yegorov was one of the main supporters of a hard-line
policy in Chechnya. In comments after his appointment, he criticized the
media's coverage of the Chechen conflict, Russian TV reported. Yegorov said
there would not be any conflict between him and Vyacheslav Mikhailov, his
successor as minister for nationalities and regional policy. On 5 July, Yeltsin
rehabilitated Yerin by appointing him deputy director of Russia' Foreign
Intelligence Service. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON DISTRICT BOUNDARIES.
President Yeltsin signed the
law designating the boundaries of the 225 single-member districts in the
December Duma elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August. The Duma approved the
law in a special 12 August session after the Federation Council failed to
support it at the end of July. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
NEW OFFICERS' GROUP FORMS TO SUPPORT OPPOSITION.
Officers' Assembly (VOS), an alliance of former and current members of the
military, announced that it will work with other opposition groups to defeat
the current regime, Russian TV reported on 17 August. The Russian National
Union (RNS) and Col. Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union initiated the new
group. Its leaders include General Valentin Varennikov, a former Soviet deputy
defense minister who spent 14 months in jail after the 1991 coup and former
Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov, who was also involved in the coup. The
new group expressed its willingness to support the efforts of opposition
leaders Gennadii Zyuganov, Yurii Skokov, Sergei Glazev, and Vladimir
Zhirinovsky, although Communist Party leader Zyuganov was the only one present
at the group's first press conference. The assembly's main goal is to
strengthen the Russian military. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
YAKUTIYA CONSIDERS EXTENDING TERM OF ITS PRESIDENT.
Several groups in
Yakutiya (Sakha) have proposed extending the term of current President Mikhail
Nikolaev from 1996 to 2001, Radio Rossii reported on 17 August. Advocates of
holding a referendum with this goal claim extending Nikolaev's term would save
the republic from the ordeal of holding a presidential election in these
difficult times. Opponents of a referendum, including the Social Democratic and
Communist parties of the republic, argue that it would violate the republic's
constitution and federal legislation. The republic of Kalmykiya will hold a
similar referendum on 15 October. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC UNION LEADER WANTS TO MOVE CAPITAL TO NOVISIBIRSK.
Vasilii Lipitskii, leader of the Russian Social Democratic Union and Duma
deputy for Novisibirsk, argues that Russia's capital should be moved from
Moscow, preferably to Novisibirsk, the weekly Kontinent reported in
issue no. 32. Lipitskii and like minds say such a measure would help eliminate
the inequality between rich Moscow and the rest of Russia. They believe that
Russia's geopolitical interests have shifted away from the West and that moving
the capital eastward would encourage the development of Siberia, the Far East,
and relations with Russia's eastern neighbors. They also contend that the move
would reduce separatist trends--provoked, it is said, by the Moscow elite's
lack of interest in the provinces--and enable the state apparatus to be cut and
corrupt elements eliminated. In Lipitskii's opinion, Novisibirsk would make the
ideal capital because it is located in the middle of the country, has a
population of more than 1 million, and is an industrial and cultural center. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
MOSCOW CRITICAL OF CHINESE NUCLEAR TEST.
Ministry of Nuclear Energy
spokesman Georgii Kaurov told ITAR-TASS on 17 August that it is "deplorable"
that China had conducted another nuclear test that day. He said that "humanity
is striving to remove nuclear arms from arsenals," adding that while Russian
nuclear scientists might like to conduct tests, they refrained from such
actions "in view of the negative attitude of the Russian and world public to
nuclear testing." Another highly placed ministry official, however, told the
agency that testing is "of essential importance." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
COSSACK MILITARY UNITS BEING FORMED.
More than 20 Cossack units are now
being formed within the Russian armed forces, according to the chairman of the
Russian Union of Cossacks, Aleksandr Martynov. Interfax on 16 August quoted him
as adding that 12 Cossack posts and two units are also being formed within the
Federal Border Service and that a separate Cossack border regiment would be
created on Sakhalin island in the Far East. Martynov said the Cossack units
would be subordinate to the relevant federal departments and not to Cossack
military commanders. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES.
The Russian government will
allocate more than 1.8 trillion rubles ($408 million) to support small and
medium-sized businesses in 1996-97, Russian First Deputy Economy Minister
Andrei Shapovalyants said on 17 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The aid is aimed at
building a network of information and training centers for businessmen, he
said. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said training programs needs to be
expanded for new businessmen and the registration system for small businesses
needs to be simplified. Small enterprises, employing about 9.5 million
Russians, produced 12-14% of total industrial output this year, according to
government figures. Shapovalyants said the state holds no more than a 25% stake
in each of the small enterprises covered by the government aid; there are one
million of them in Russia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 161, 18 August 1995
KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADERS PROTEST THE CONSTITUTION.
A dozen opposition
groups in Kazakhstan, including the Kazakh National Patriots and members of the
Slavic movements, warned that the new constitution could become a destabilizing
factor and may cause social fragmentation, Russian TV reported on 17 August.
They claim that it would create conditions conducive to an authoritarian regime
by granting the president strong personal power, creating a submissive
parliament, and restricting civil rights. A referendum on whether to adopt the
proposed constitution is scheduled for 30 August. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
KAZAKHSTAN CONTROLS INFLATION?
In an interview with Reuters on 17
August, Grigorii Marchenko, the deputy chairman of the Kazakh Central Bank,
said, "We have more or less achieved macroeconomic stabilization, in relative
terms." While mentioning lower inflation rates, a stable currency, and a steep
rise in foreign exchange reserves, Marchenko admitted that Kazakhstan is still
lagging behind on structural reform at the enterprise level. Western bankers in
Almaty affirm that the Central Bank of Kazakhstan has been the driving force
behind economic reforms but note that the central bank's policies have won few
friends in the ailing industrial sector. They agree that there has been little
restructuring of Soviet-era industry, most big firms are still in state hands,
companies often do not pay their debts, and investors are staying away because
of frequently changing laws. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
TAJIK CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT EXTENDED SIX MONTHS.
The Tajik government and
the opposition signed an agreement to extend by six months a ceasefire that was
due to expire on 26 August, according to Western agencies. On 17 August, Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov signed it in Dushanbe while opposition leader Said
Abdullo Nuri did so in Kabul. The UN representative present at the Kabul
signing, said the agreement also covers political and military integration and
helps returning refugees, Voice of America reported. The two sides settled on
18 September as the date for the next round of talks, but they have not agreed
to a venue. This is the third time the ceasefire agreement has been extended
since last September. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
CILLER CONCLUDES VISIT TO KYRGYZSTAN.
Turkish Prime Minister Tansu
Ciller finished her visit to Kyrgyzstan on 17 August and departed for
Turkmenistan, the last stop on her tour of three Central Asian countries.
Ciller said she had agreed on joint plans with Kyrgyzstan in the areas of
education, power engineering, agriculture, and mining. Kyrgyzstan and Turkey
also announced defense cooperation, including the joint manufacture of military
equipment for sale on the world market. Turkey also expressed its willingness
to subsidize any promising programs in the development of the Kyrgyz economy,
according to ITAR-TASS. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
CILLER IN ASHGABAT: MOVE GAS THROUGH TURKEY.
Turkish Prime Minister
Tansu Ciller met with Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov in Ashgabat, Western
and Russian media reported on 17 August. During the talks, an agreement on
double taxation and a document establishing a bilateral commission for trade
and economic cooperation were signed. Ciller also proposed that Turkmen gas be
transited through Turkey via an existing Russian and Georgian pipeline. This
would involve the extension of an existing pipeline by an estimated 160 km.
Niyazov predictably found this arrangement acceptable but noted that he would
have to consult the pipeline's co-owner, Russia. However, Moscow is unlikely to
encourage any pipeline that will enrich Turkey and Turkmenistan. He also
pledged to repay Turkmenistan's debts to Turkish businessmen by late 1995.
Official statistics cited by Interfax indicate Turkey has invested $1.5 billion
in Turkmenistan. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
UZBEK STATE SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov opened
the first session of Uzbekistan's National Security Council on 16 August, Uzbek
and Russian Public TV reported. The responsibilities of the council encompass
domestic and foreign policy, strategic problems, defense, "other" kinds of
security, information, ecological, health, preventing and responding to
emergencies, and the maintenance of stability and public order. The session
also took up the issues of the council's composition and orders and discussed
Uzbekistan's military doctrine. Russian Public TV noted that Karimov identified
Tajikistan and Afghanistan as the main regional security problems and called
for "collective effort" to confront them. He also described the especially
important role of Russia, a country he referred to as Uzbekistan's "main
strategic partner." -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 161, 18 August 1995
UKRAINE'S GLOOMY HARVEST FORECAST.
Deputy Prime Minister in charge of
agriculture Petro Sabluk announced that previous harvest forecasts have been
optimistic and the country will probably produce only 37 million tons of grain
this year, Reuters reported on 17 August. This is only 1.5 million tons more
than last year's crop, which was damaged by drought. Sabluk put the poor
harvest down to lack of fertilizers, outdated machinery, and a locust outbreak.
Stressing the inefficiency of Ukraine's agricultural sector, Sabluk said
one-fifth of production was lost annually, totaling $7 billion. Sabluk also
said the government was reintroducing quotas and licenses on grain exports
until the government purchases the state quota of 10 million tons. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN ULTRA-NATIONALISTS BREAK UP COURT HEARING.
A court hearing
over the legal status of the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly
(UNA) was canceled after UNA supporters disrupted proceedings, Reuters reported
on 17 August. Some 200 UNA supporters crowded into a courtroom meant to seat
50. When the judge asked those standing to leave they refused, whereupon the
judge and court employees walked out. UNA's legal status has come into question
because of some of its activities, which include sending fighters to help
oppose Russia in Chechnya and Abkhazia. UNA supporters were blamed for causing
a riot during the burial of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church earlier
this month, which resulted in police beating mourners with truncheons. --
Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BALTIC TROOPS IN CROATIA.
The Latvian Saeima on 17 August voted to
approve the sending of a 40-member volunteer unit to Croatia as part of the
Danish UN peacekeeping battalion, BNS reported. The unit, which has been
training in Denmark for several months, is scheduled to fly to Croatia on 23
August. Similar units from Lithuania and Estonia recently ended six-month tours
and their replacements will arrive in Croatia on 18 August. It appears likely
that the Baltic units will not serve the normal six-month term since the UN is
planning to reduce its troop levels by withdrawing the Danish battalion within
several months. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIA TO SELL GOVERNMENT BONDS ABROAD.
Prime Minister Adolfas
Slezevicius told a press conference on 17 August that an American or Japanese
company will soon be authorized to sell Lithuanian government bonds abroad, BNS
reported. He said that the earlier practice of selling the bonds only in
Lithuania was detrimental since it had increased the cost of loans in
commercial banks. Lithuania is following the example of Latvia, which recently
reached an agreement with the Nomura Securities Company in Japan to receive a
$45 million loan in exchange for two-year Latvian government bonds with 5.4%
annual interest. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY UNHAPPY OVER TEXTBOOKS.
Deputy Minister of
Education Tatstsyana Halko said President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decision to
ban textbooks printed since independence and replace them with Soviet-era books
was completely unexpected and that education workers were unprepared for the
move, Belarusian Radio reported on 17 August. Halko said there had been no
information on the presidential administration's work in examining the text
books to determine if they were appropriate. In other news, it was reported
that the president's administration was investigating the activities of the
Ministry of Culture and Publishing. The head of the department of political
information in the president's administration, Uladzimir Zamyatalin, said one
reason was to evaluate the ministry's activities during the critical period of
state building. Following the investigation, the ministry may be divided into
two: a Ministry of Culture and a Ministry of Publications. -- Ustina Markus,
CEFTA MEETING IN WARSAW.
Trade ministers from the Central European Free
Trade Agreement (CEFTA) -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia --
began a two-day meeting in Warsaw on 17 August. Slovenia's trade minister is
also present. The conditions of admitting Slovenia to CEFTA are to be discussed
together with an agreement on the reduction or elimination of tariffs on
industrial products from 1 January 1996, Polish and international media
reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
Two right-wing presidential candidates, Polish
National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and Supreme Court President
Adam Strzembosz, at a common press conference on 17 August strongly criticized
secret negotiations on extending current President Lech Walesa's term of office
for another two years. Gronkiewicz-Waltz compared these negotiations to the
Watergate affair that forced U.S. President Richard Nixon to resign. Strzembosz
said that allowing for Walesa's term to be extended meant "not only the
instrumentalization of law, but also the abolition of the normative character
of the constitution," Polish media reported on 18 August. -- Jakub Karpinski,
KOREANS TO INVEST $1.1 BILLION IN POLAND.
The president of the South
Korean Daewoo Corporation, Kim Woo Choong, on 16 August signed a letter of
intent in Warsaw with the director of the state-owned car factory FSO Zeran,
Andrzej Tyszkiewicz. Daewoo will take a 60% stake in FSO and promised to invest
$1.1 billion in the enterprise. Daewoo plans to produce up to 220,000 cars
annually and maintain the present workforce of 20,000, Polish and international
media reported. Daewoo has already invested $900 million in Romania and
promised large investment in a car plant in Lublin, Poland. -- Jakub Karpinski,
CZECH, POLISH PREMIERS MEET.
Vaclav Klaus and Jozef Oleksy discussed
their countries' approaches to the EU and NATO during a meeting in northern
Moravia on 17 August, Czech media report. The only point of difference was over
Oleksy's call, made at the EU summit in Cannes in June, for a special EU summit
to consider what he feels is the slow progress being made in admitting central
European countries to the EU. Klaus said he still believes a special summit is
unnecessary. But he added that the Czech Republic wants to continue cooperating
closely with Poland in their joint quest for NATO membership. Both prime
ministers said there were no serious problems in Czech-Polish bilateral
relations. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
TWO CZECH PARTIES PLAN MERGER.
Leaders of the extraparliamentary Free
Democrats (SD) and the small Liberal Social National Party (LSNS) met on 17
August and said they hoped to merge their parties by the end of this year and
jointly contest next year's parliament elections. SD chairman Jiri Dienstbier
said there was a need for a strong centrist, liberal grouping on the Czech
political scene, Czech media report. According to recent opinion polls, the SD
and LSNS together would not gain the 5% of the total vote needed to secure
parliamentary representation. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK OFFICIAL ON U.S. RELATIONS.
Foreign Ministry State Secretary
Jozef Sestak told Slovak Radio on 17 August that the U.S. "supports the
positive development in Slovakia." The ministry sent a note to the U.S.
government on 9 August, asking whether it had changed its attitude towards the
Slovak government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 August 1995). According to
Sestak, the U.S. requested that its response not be made public, but he stated
that the U.S. government "reconfirmed mutual respect" between the two
countries, and said it was "prepared to cooperate . . . with Slovakia's
democratically elected representatives." Sestak also reacted to an editorial in
The New York Times on 15 August which said "both Bonn and Washington
have stepped up their warnings that [increasing government intervention in such
areas as culture and education] would bar Slovakia from NATO and the European
Union." Sestak called the editorial "a compilation of various facts and
half-truths" and said the U.S. "promptly reacted," disagreeing with both its
timing and its contents. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
BRATISLAVA RADIO STATION GIVES LISTENERS ALTERNATIVE.
Radio Twist on 21 August will launch its news program, "Zurnal Radio Twist," to
compete with state-owned Slovak Radio's "Radiozurnal." The start-up date was
planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of
Czechoslovakia. According to the program's director Lubos Machaj, "it is a day
when we lost our freedom 27 years ago and a day when our station will begin to
freely broadcast information," Pravda reports. The program's journalists
include several well-known figures who were dismissed from state TV and radio.
From September the program, to be broadcast twice daily for 25 to 35 minutes,
will also be accessible in central Slovakia through a network of other
stations. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 161, 18 August 1995
CROATIA PREPARES TO RELIEVE PRESSURE ON DUBROVNIK.
Allgemeine Zeitung wrote on 18 August that over 4,000 Croatian troops
backed by tanks have assembled in the Dubrovnik region for an apparent assault
on Trebinje. The goal is to take the heights over the medieval town and end the
Serb shelling of the region. Mlada fronta dnes said that volunteer
firemen are continuing to fight the blazes in the countryside caused by the
shells. Reuters reported on 17 August that Dubrovnik's art treasures are being
boarded up for safekeeping. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
HAVE THE CROATS TAKEN DRVAR?
Bosnian Croatian troops have the west
Bosnian town of Drvar "under their control," according to Croatian Radio on 17
August. The broadcast added that the Serbs suffered heavy losses and that the
elite Podrinjska Brigade was destroyed. The fleeing Serbs reportedly left
behind large quantities of arms and ammunition, including long-range artillery.
There has been no independent confirmation of the story. Meanwhile in the
Bosnian government army, there has been a major shakeup of the command
structure, particularly at the corps level, according to Vjesnik on 18
August. The move had been announced earlier by President Alija Izetbegovic.
Reuters reported that Britain and France will ask the UN Security Council to
"chastize Croatia and Bosnia publicly for political and financial demands they
say will cripple the Rapid Reaction Force." The UN and NATO, meanwhile, have
finalized plans to protect the remaining "safe areas" and have warned the Serbs
that "hostile actions will be met with air strikes." The UN has announced,
however, that it intends to remove all peacekeepers except for a skeleton force
from Gorazde by mid-September. The Ukrainians will leave for sure and the
British will probably follow. Malaysia has rejected an appeal to send 10 men to
Gorazde, saying that a tiny force is likely to be taken hostage. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
MLADIC BLASTS KARADZIC.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had ordered
that Drvar be defended at all costs, but Bosnian Serb military commander
General Ratko Mladic remained silent in public. On 17 August, however, he faxed
a fresh attack on Karadzic to news agencies. The message said that Karadzic "is
probably aware that he has lost the support of the main pillars of our society,
the people and the army." Meanwhile, Globus on 18 August reported that a
former ally of the two internationally indicted war criminals, Bihac-pocket
kingpin Fikret Abdic, is "under the supervision" of Croatian police in Zagreb's
Palace Hotel. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA EXPECTS UP TO 20,000 REFUGEES FROM SERB-HELD TERRITORY.
Vecernji list on 18 August quoted Minister Adalbert Rebic as saying that
his government calculates the Serbs will expel to Croatia up to 20,000 Croats.
Some 4,769 have come in recent days from the Banja Luka area plus another 406
from Srijem. Reuters said that 350 Muslims have arrived east of Travnik after
being deported by the Serbs and that more are on the way. Meanwhile in Serbia,
the French aid group Medecins du Monde called the situation of the Krajina Serb
refugees "a humanitarian emergency under control." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
MILOSEVIC MEETS HOLBROOKE, BILDT.
BETA reported on 17 August that on the
same day Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic met with U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State Richard Holbrooke for five hours, but no agreement was reached on a
resolution to the Bosnian crisis. Talks between the two resumed on 18 August,
but were interrupted the previous day when European Union negotiator Carl Bildt
made "an unexpected stopover" in Belgrade and himself met with Milosevic. Bildt
is persona non grata in Zagreb, following his charge that Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman may be guilty of war crimes, and Bosnian government officials
have refused to meet with him, observing that the peace process he is promoting
is dead. Finally, AFP on 18 August reports that Milosevic is slated to meet the
Greek and Spanish foreign ministers the same day. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
DOLE OPPOSES LIFTING SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE.
U.S. Senate majority
leader Bob Dole on 17 August sent a letter to President Bill Clinton,
cautioning against lifting sanctions against Belgrade until a comprehensive
regional peace settlement is reached, international media reported. At least a
partial lifting of sanctions in exchange for Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Croatia is reportedly part of the plan being discussed in
the region by Assistant Secretary of State Holbrooke. "If we lift sanctions now
for what are clearly minimal returns, such a comprehensive settlement will be
virtually impossible to reach and implement . . . The bottom line is that
sanctions are the only real leverage the international community has been
willing to use on the Belgrade regime," wrote Dole. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER APPEALS TO DENMARK.
Rump Yugoslav premier Radoje
Kontic has appealed to the Danish government to unfreeze Belgrade's bank
assets, Tanjug reported on 16 August. According to Kontic, Belgrade's Danish
assets would go towards procuring humanitarian aid for the Krajina Serb
refugees in rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN PRIVATIZATION LIST PUBLISHED.
The government published a list
of 3,907 state-owned enterprises it hopes to sell in a new wave of
privatization, Romanian and Western media reported on 17 August. However, it
admitted that nearly 25% of the firms on offer were loss-making, and some were
virtually bankrupt. This contradicts an earlier pledge that only profitable
firms would be privatized. Iacob Zelenco, the head of the National
Privatization Agency, claimed in an interview with national TV that most of the
loss-making firms faced minimal or temporary financial difficulties. Romania's
Parliament in June adopted a law to speed up privatization of nearly 6,200
state enterprises, based on a coupon system. Distribution of the nominative
coupons started on 1 August. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
DNIESTER RADICALS ATTACK ADMINISTRATION OVER CURRENCY.
Members of the
city council of Tiraspol, the capital of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic,
attacked the local authorities for having allegedly surrendered to the
government in Chisinau by accepting that the Moldovan currency is used in
clearing operations, Infotag reported on 17 August. The council, which is
packed with radicals and former communists, accused Supreme Soviet Chairman
Grigorii Marakutsa and acting Dniester bank governor Vyacheslav Zagryadsky of
planning to "liquidate" the Dniester republic by favoring its "economic and
political absorption into Moldova." Dniester President Igor Smirnov, who
attended the meeting, dismissed the criticism as "malevolent." -- Dan Ionescu,
BULGARIA DROPS AGAIN IN UN DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE.
The UN Human Development
Report puts Bulgaria in 65th place among the 174 UN members,
Demokratsiya reports on 18 August. In 1991, Bulgaria ranked 33rd and in
1994 it was 48th. The report measures GDP, real spending power, life
expectancy, and education level. According to the report, average life
expectancy went down by almost four years since 1991, and is now 71.2 years.
Men's life expectancy is only 67.6 years, and women's 74.4. Some 7% of the
Bulgarian population are "absolutely illiterate." A ranking of women's
emancipation, which includes women's participation in economic and political
decision-making, puts Bulgaria in 20th place, two below Hungary. They are the
only former Communist countries among the top 20. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER DISSATISFIED WITH CABINET.
An unnamed cabinet
member was cited by 24 chasa on 18 August as saying that Zhan Videnov is
dissatisfied with the performance of some members of his cabinet. But according
to an anonymous top official of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Videnov will not
reshuffle his cabinet before Spring 1996. The report said Videnov is
particularly dissatisfied with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic
Development Rumen Gechev. Also under fire are Interior Minister Lyubomir
Nachev, Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov, Labor and Social Welfare Minister
Mincho Koralski, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev.
Other ministers, including Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, were also strongly
criticized by Videnov. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. MILITARY DELEGATION VISITS ALBANIA.
A high-ranking U.S. military
delegation visited Albania on 17 August, BETA reported the same day. The
delegation was received by President Sali Berisha, who described the situation
in the Balkans as "very tense" and said that Serbia should not be thanked for
its restraint after the Croatian offensive since that would be to "reward the
aggressor." He also said that the settlement of refugees in Kosovo increases
the danger of a spill-over of the conflict to the south. Meanwhile, Albania and
the U.S. signed an agreement for $5 million worth of humanitarian aid. It
contains mainly olive oil and is part of a $70 million aid package to Albania.
-- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle