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Newsline - August 24, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 165, 24 August 1995
NEW PATRIOTIC BLOC FORMS.
The new political movement "For the Revival of Great Russia," which seeks to appeal to military officers, held its founding congress on 22 August, NTV reported. The movement unites Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Sterligov's Russian National Assembly (RNS), Col. Gen. Vladislav Achalov's All-Russian Officers' Assembly (VOS), and 1991 coup leader Aleksandr Tizyakov. However, the patriots appear to be just as divided as the democrats. Other patriotic military groups have begun allying with rival blocs. For example, Lt. Col. Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union will be working with Nikolai Ryzhkov's Power to the People, while Lt. Col. Viktor Alksnis will cooperate with former Vice President Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava. Both were excluded from the leadership of the VOS, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

PAMFILOVA, LYSENKO TO LEAD NEW ELECTORAL BLOC.
Ella Pamfilova, the former minister for social security in the Yegor Gaidar government, will top the party list of a new electoral bloc created by the centrist Republican Party, Interfax
reported on 23 August. Pamfilova was elected to the Duma in 1993 as a leading figure in Russia's Choice. She resigned from her post as minister in January 1994 because of the slow pace of reform and quit Gaidar's party later in the year because of its support for the government's social policies. The second and third candidates on the new electoral bloc's party list will be Republican Party Chairman Vladimir Lysenko, who joined Yabloko during the 1993 campaign but left the group the following year, and Aleksandr Gurov, whom Mikhail Gorbachev appointed to lead the Soviet Interior Ministry's department for fighting organized crime. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA MEMBER ATTACKED IN DAGESTAN.
State Duma deputy Sergei Reshulskii was brutally attacked in the entrance of his apartment building in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 24 August. Reshulskii was on his way to an organizational meeting of the republican Communist Party where his nomination for the post of first secretary was to be considered. He is now in the intensive care unit of the city hospital. On 14 August, unidentified assailants fired a grenade at the home of Dagestan Prime Minister Abdurazak Mirzabekov, Radio Mayak reported. There were no casualties, but the apartment sustained considerable damage. Neither of the cases has been solved. -- Robert Orttung and Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

ROSSEL'S FIRST STEPS AS SVERDLOVSK GOVERNOR.
Eduard Rossel, the newly-elected governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, appointed former deputy administrative head Valerii Trushnikov to lead the regional cabinet, Russian Public TV reported on 23 August. Trushnikov finished third in the first round of the gubernatorial elections in Sverdlovsk, but he threw his support behind Rossel in the runoff against administrative head Aleksei Strakhov, the candidate backed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia. Rossel also announced that when he meets with President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on 24 August he will ask him to sign a power-sharing agreement between federal authorities and Yeltsin's home region of Sverdlovsk within 60 days, Interfax reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DISARMAMENT TALKS CONTINUE IN CHECHNYA.
Talks between Russian and Chechen negotiators on the implementation of the 30 July military accord continued on 23 August, Western and Russian agencies reported. After the talks concluded for the day, General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, said the two sides had agreed that Chechen formations in the regions of Achkhoi-Martan and Sunzhan would disarm by 30 August, by which time federal troops would also withdraw from those areas. However, Minister for Nationalities Viktor Mikhailov complained in Moscow that a list of Chechen units to be disarmed under the accord, which Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov recently submitted, is incomplete. There is mounting speculation about whom President Yeltsin will appoint as his special representative in Chechnya to oversee the peace process. Mikhailov, Arkadii Volskii, and Oleg Lobov are the most frequently mentioned candidates for the position. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

SOSKOVETS PROPOSES OIL SHIPMENT TO YUGOSLAVIA.
Following a meeting with rump Yugoslav Trade Minister Djordje Siradovic, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets asked the ministries of Fuel and Energy and Foreign Economic Relations to draft proposals for the shipment of an unspecified quantity of natural gas to rump Yugoslavia, Interfax reported on 23 August. Soskovets also asked the Ministry of Emergency Situations to prepare a proposal to ship 5,000 tons of fuel oil to rump Yugoslavia. Both shipments are intended as "humanitarian aid." Soskovets asked the Foreign Ministry to draw up a corresponding proposal for consideration by the UN International Sanctions Committee. Siradovic said a protocol calling for rump Yugoslavia to sell Russia 2 million tons of wheat and 1 million tons of corn is ready for signing, adding that "sanctions must be lifted from Yugoslavia as soon as possible" because of the influx of refugees from Krajina. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc

RUSSIA AND CHINA SIGN BORDER AGREEMENT.
After holding talks with the leaders of China's three "power" ministries in Beijing, Col. Gen. Andrei Nikolaev, head of the Federal Border Troops, signed an agreement on strengthening cooperation in guarding the 4,334 km Russo-Chinese border, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 August. The deputy commander of the Border Troops' maritime forces, Admiral Sergei Skalinov, told the agency that the new measure would provide for better information exchange and allow for improved means of preventing violations on both sides, such as smuggling and poaching. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW MAYOR DISPLEASED WITH CITY POLICE.
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov says he is ready to begin "an internal war" with the capital's police force because of its failure to combat crime, Interfax reported on 23 August. Luzhkov made the statement at a meeting with Moscow trade union leaders in response to a complaint by the Moscow police union that Interior Department heads are squandering money allocated to fight crime. The Moscow police have received "unprecedented financial aid over the past few years," enabling the force to be equipped "at the level of the New York police," Luzhkov asserted. Crime in Moscow rose by over 7% in the first six months of 1995 compared with the same period last year, international agencies reported on 26 July. Premeditated murder, kidnapping, extortion, swindling, and drug-related offenses were all up. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON BENEFITS FOR SEMIPALATINSK RADIATION VICTIMS.
President Yeltsin has signed the Law on Social Protection for the Victims of Radiation Caused by Nuclear Tests at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 24 August. The law, passed by the Duma on 20 July, entitles people who suffered from radiation caused by the nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk between 1949 and 1963 to privileges and benefits equal to those granted to the victims of the Chornobyl accident. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA CRITICISM FOR PENSION REFORM PLAN.
Sergei Kalashnikov, head of the Duma Committee for Labor and Social Security, has criticized a program recently approved by the government to reform the country's pension system, Segodnya reported on 23 August. According to Finansovye izvestiya on 22 August, the plan envisages replacing the current uniform pension system with a Western style three-tier scheme consisting of basic pensions, pensions that are dependent on contributions, and non-state pensions. Kalashnikov objects to the concept in its present form because it does not link the basic pension to the subsistence minimum. He also argues that the draft pays insufficient attention to state regulation of non-state pension funds. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

FORMER DEPUTY MINISTER DETAINED ON SUSPICION OF SMUGGLING.
Federal Security Service officers have detained Andrei Dogaev, former deputy minister for foreign economic relations and now general director of the Mashinimport firm, on suspicion of involvement in the attempted smuggling of scrap copper from Russia, Segodnya reported on 23 August. Investigators believe that when, as deputy minister, Dogaev was responsible for supervising the licensing of raw material exports, not all licenses were given on sufficiently lawful grounds. As yet no charges have been brought against Dogaev. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DATA ON JUVENILE DELINQUENCY.
The number of juvenile crimes rose by 11% over the last three years, Interior Ministry official Yakov Stakhov told ITAR-TASS on 22 August. He added, however, that the number of crimes committed by minors during the first half of this year has fallen. Segodnya on 23 August quoted Stakhov as saying that the number of murders and cases of grievous bodily harm committed by youths over the last two years has doubled. It also said that over a third of juvenile offenders are aged 13 to 15, many of whom have been expelled from school, and that there has been a sharp rise in the number of drug-related offenses. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

FOOD SITUATION IN THE MILITARY BECOMING CRITICAL.
The head of the Defense Ministry's central food directorate said in a 22 August interview on Russian TV that underfinancing of the military's food supplies is bringing the armed forces "to the brink of a critical situation when there will simply be nothing to feed the personnel . . . with." Vyacheslav Savinov said that the ministry currently owes almost 700 billion rubles ($160 million) to food suppliers. Lt. Gen. Valentin Panichev, the chief military prosecutor, told ITAR-TASS that a number of units are feeding their personnel with dry bread and canned food from emergency stocks. With the military behind in paying salaries, many officers and NCOs have had to moonlight at other jobs just to feed their families, while other servicemen have turned to crime to raise money. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

CITIZENS LOSE 20 TRILLION RUBLES TO FRAUDULENT FIRMS . . .
Russians who were lured by promises of high interest rates to entrust their money to fraudulent firms lost 20 trillion rubles ($454.5 million) over the last two years, Gennadii Mironov, head of the independent Association of Private Investors, told Interfax on 23 August. Mironov said that about 135 firms defaulted on their obligations to depositors in Moscow, while there were over 220 such firms all over Russia. He said that the association demands that the government repay the depositors for their losses. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

. . . GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO COMPENSATE FOR LOSSES.
Meanwhile, on his working trip in Altai Krai this week, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the "government will be deaf to the outcry of defrauded depositors," Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 24 August. The government refused to compensate those who incurred losses from dealing with now defunct "pyramid" companies, such as Tibet and Selenga, despite the claims that those companies operated with unspoken approval of the Central Bank of Russia. The report said that in September 1994 the bank "mildly reproached" the managers of the companies for not applying for an official license to operate with individual depositors. However, Tibet and Selenga continued operating until January 1995 without a license. With the collapse of these schemes, investors were left high and dry. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

BROKERS TO ESTABLISH STOCK MARKET ORGANIZATION.
The leaders of the brokerage associations in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, and St. Petersburg will join forces to establish a single nationwide stock market organization, Interfax reported on 23 August. The president of the Moscow-based Professional Association of Stock Market Agents (PAUFOR), Dmitrii Ponomaryov, told the news agency that the creation of this organization, will be the first step towards uniting trading entities and developing inter-regional rules for off-exchange stock trading. PAUFOR encompasses 64 investment companies and brokerage firms. It was founded in mid-1994 to standardize off-exchange activities. The association trades stocks through an electronic system accessible only to its members. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 165, 24 August 1995
ANTI-REFERENDUM ACTIVISTS REPRIMANDED.
Conflicting reports continue on the action taken against the anti-referendum activists in Almaty. Authorities in Kazakhstan have fined 17 opposition activists for staging an unauthorized rally and hunger strike outside the parliament building on 21 August, Interfax reported on 22 August. The opposition sources stated that a former parliament deputy who went on a hunger strike, Vladimir Chernyshev, was beaten at the entrance of his apartment on the night of 21 August and received "serious brain damage, rib fractures, and other injuries." If the new constitution is approved by voters in the referendum on 30 August, the day is likely to become a new national holiday. The draft constitution, which incorporates the 1,100 most important additions proposed in the course of a nationwide discussion, was published on 1 August. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

BHUTTO VISITS KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN.
Kazakhstan and Pakistan signed several agreements on economic cooperation during Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's visit to Almaty, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 August. Among those are agreements on protecting investments, double taxation, visas, and travel. Both countries agreed to step up cooperation to tackle terrorism and drug trafficking. This was Bhutto's first visit to Kazakhstan; a visit scheduled for the summer of 1994 was canceled due to Islamabad's displeasure over Kazakhstan's decision to bar flights from Pakistan, alleged to be carrying cholera-infected visitors. Bhutto will arrive in Kyrgyzstan on 25 August to take part in the 1,000th anniversary celebrations of the folk epic Manas. Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey are founding members of the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which includes the five Central Asian republics, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 165, 24 August 1995
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX LEADERS AND NATIONALISTS BLAST GOVERNMENT.
Leaders of the Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and nationalist politicians accused the administration of President Leonid Kuchma of undermining Ukrainian statehood during memorial gatherings honoring Patriarch Volodymyr, Reuters and Interfax-Ukraine reported on 23 August. The service and procession, held by Orthodox tradition 40 days after death, took place peacefully in contrast to the violent clashes between riot police and mourners during the patriarch's funeral on 18 July. During a rally afterward, Volodymyr's deputy and likely successor Metropolitan Filaret condemned government policy toward the church, which broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate in 1992. He said Kuchma's refusal to allow the patriarch's burial in the grounds of St. Sophia's Cathedral, now a museum, amounted to persecution of the independent church. On the eve of the fourth anniversary of Ukraine's independence, nationalist politicians said the "godless" Kuchma was bowing to religious authorities in Moscow. Kuchma has barred the reburial of Volodymyr, now buried in a makeshift grave outside the cathedral walls, in an effort to prevent further tensions between the rival Orthodox churches. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON BALTIC STATES.
Volker Ruehe, after meeting in Tallinn on 23 August with Estonian President Lennart Meri, said that fears in the Baltic States of possible aggression from the East were not justified, BNS reported. Ruehe affirmed: "The independence of the Baltic States is one of the central factors for European countries" and good relations with Russia would guarantee stable development and security for Europe. Earlier that day in Riga, Ruehe advised Latvia not "to seek security only along the central axis of Poland-Germany" but "to look for a way back to Europe by cooperating with the Nordic countries." Indirectly refuting a recent story in the German weeky Der Spiegel that the Baltic States would be the last group to be admitted into NATO, he said that the organization had not yet fixed an order for future members. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.


LATVIAN PARLIAMENT EXPELS SIEGERIST.
The Saeima on 23 August voted 39 to 4 with 11 abstentions to expel Joachim Siegerist, leader of the For Latvia movement, for non-attendance of parliament sessions, BNS reported. The Mandate and Application Committee proposed the vote since Siegerist was not present at eight of the 13 meetings of the spring session. Siegerist did not attend the vote, but three For Latvia deputies said they would boycott future sessions to protest the expulsion of their leader. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH PRESIDENT DEFENDS ARMY INTERESTS.
Lech Walesa, in a letter sent to Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy on 22 August, attacked the government for allegedly not fulfilling its constitutional duties and weakening the army's potential. Walesa criticized the government draft of the 1996 budget as not providing enough for defense. The president supplemented his letter with a draft law providing for bigger expenditures for the army. A second draft law attached to the letter, which would subordinate the chief of the General Staff to the president, was rejected by the Sejm in June. Chief of the General Staff Gen. Tadeusz Wilecki attacked the government in a similar way to Walesa on 15 August, Polish media noted. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON MAIN ISSUES.
Supreme Court President Adam Strzembosz, speaking on 23 August in Elblag near the Russian-Polish border (Kaliningrad district), noted the anniversary of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact that divided prewar Poland between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Strzembosz said that the Russian heavy military presence in Kaliningrad created problems for Polish-Russian relations. Earlier, Freedom Union candidate Jacek Kuron encouraged other candidates to discuss the main political issues, which he listed as security and welfare, legal equality, general availability of employment, the suitable organization of state institutions, and Poland's security and place in the world. Danuta Waniek, the chief of the Alliance of Democratic Left leader Aleksander Kwasniewski's campaign, answered Kuron by adding three other issues: Church-state relations, the role of the trade unions, and the scope and speed of privatization. Kuron, in a press conference on 23 August, defended his choice of issues and said that his relatively low ranking in voting intentions derives from him being perceived as "too good and too honest to be a president," Polish media reported on 24 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

NEW CLASSES FOR ROMANI CHILDREN.
Two schools in Prague will begin programs for Romani children in the fall, the Czech daily Mlada fronta dnes reported on 24 August. Although a photo of a young boy begging from a tourist accompanied the article, it is more likely that the students of such programs will come from more middle-class Romani families. The Czech director of one of the schools said that the program would include music and dance, to be taught by Romani instructors. The director of the other school spoke of the problem of introducing Romani language instruction, saying that there were no people who could teach in it, and that moreover Romani had not been codified. While it is true that Romani is still being standardized, last week in Beroun in a seminar sponsored by MENT, Czech teachers of Romani children were taught the Carpathian Romani dialect, using Czech-Romani grammars. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAKIA WILL ASK BONN FOR COMPENSATION.
Jozef Sestak, state secretary at Slovakia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arrived in Bonn on 23 August for a three-day working visit. According to Slovak media, Sestak is to submit to German officials a proposal for initiating bilateral talks on compensating Slovak victims of the Nazi regime during World War II. He will also discuss bilateral relations and the integration of Slovakia into European structures with his German counterpart, Peter Hartmann. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S VETOS EXPLAINED.
Ivan Trimaj, head of the presidential Legislative Department, told journalists in Bratislava on 23 August that President Michal Kovac has recently vetoed three privatization laws approved by the parliament because "they violated the constitution," in particular the principle of equality of different forms of ownership. "The president does not send back laws to the parliament if they contain common mistakes; he does so only if they violate the constitution," argued Trimaj. The ruling coalition headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has enough votes to override the president's vetos of the three laws, which the opposition parties have criticized as potentially halting the privatization process in Slovakia. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 165, 24 August 1995
SUSAK SAYS CROATIA CAN RETAKE EASTERN SLAVONIA . . .
Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak warned that his forces could push Serbian troops out of eastern Slavonia, AFP reported on 23 August. He said they would do this in less time than Operation Blitz took in western Slavonia in May if the international community does not secure the peaceful reintegration of the area into Croatia. Rump Yugoslavia, however, seems bent on holding onto the prosperous region. Nasa Borba reported on 24 August that an EU representative is nonetheless in Serb-held Vukovar in an effort to restart talks between Croatia and its rebel Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE HERZEGOVINIAN SERBS SEAL THE MONTENEGRIN BORDER.
AFP on 23 August also quoted Susak as saying that his government can no longer tolerate Serbian shelling of the Dubrovnik area. For some days observers have been expecting a push by some 10,000 Croatian troops into the Trebinje region of eastern Herzegovina behind Dubrovnik. Montena-fax said that the local Serbian authorities have banned all people from Trebinje from leaving the district without special permission. Many had been fleeing into Montenegro, including military-aged men. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

KARADZIC WANTS 64% OF BOSNIA.
AFP on 23 August quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that the Serbs must have 64% of the land in any settlement because that is the amount they legally own. He did not mention the land taken violently, and one of his statements in particular suggested a hearty appetite: "Our territory must be integral, it must have territorial continuity. It is of vital importance that our borders be on the Sava and Una Rivers, that the Drina River is ours, that we have a part of Sarajevo." His "foreign minister," Aleksa Buha, praised the "U.S.-Russian" peace project, while Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey said that there is "no American plan, but an initiative." Elsewhere, U.S. President Bill Clinton named a new team of envoys to the former Yugoslavia. Meanwhile in Jakarta, Indonesian officials on 24 August announced that the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian presidents had agreed "in principle" to meet in Indonesia, which currently chairs the Non-Aligned Movement. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

MAZOWIECKI DESCRIBES SERB ATROCITIES IN SREBRENICA.
The UN special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia has presented his final report, international media said on 23 August. The former Polish prime minister resigned in disgust last month over the international community's inaction in the face of Serbian atrocities in the UN-declared "safe havens" in eastern Bosnia. He said that "there is significant direct and circumstantial evidence indicating that summary executions took place, both of individuals and small groups of people. On the question of mass executions of large numbers of people at one time, the evidence so far obtained leads to the chilling conclusion that these may have occurred." He also noted that Serbian civilians came in to loot and burn homes and shops, and to destroy mosques. Meanwhile the new Serbian "mayor" of Srebrenica has invited anyone interested to visit. "The whole world can come and investigate, film in Srebrenica," Miroslav Deronjic told AFP, regretting that until now "nobody has made such a request." In another "safe area," Gorazde, the Serbian authorities have given the peacekeepers permission to leave. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

CROATIAN UPDATE.
Vjesnik on 24 August reported on the government's plans to return the Croatian population to areas of the former Krajina from which the Serbs had "ethnically cleansed" them since 1991. The resettlement will take place in approximately three waves, depending on the availability of accommodation in the various parts of the region. The government also said it plans to have the vital Zagreb-Knin-Split railway running by 28 August, which would be the first time in over four years. Roman Catholic church sources in Zagreb quoted the bishop's office in Banja Luka as saying that on 19 August the Serbs dynamited a church in Sanski Most, making this the 43rd church in the bishopric to be deliberately destroyed. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

MONTENEGRO UPDATE.
BETA reported on 23 August that on the same day the Montenegrin republic's legislature met in special session to discuss the prospects for peacefully resolving the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The session was called after opposition parties' lobbying efforts, which have also recently revolved around calls for a peaceful resolution of outstanding regional differences. On the previous day, President Momir Bulatovic appeared on Montenegro Television and lashed out against the Krajina Serb leadership and Orthodox Church officials. According to Bulatovic, Croatia's reclaiming of Krajina amounted to "a tragedy" but Krajina leaders were to blame since "they did not defend Krajina." He also remarked that the Orthodox Church had recently become overtly politicized by de facto defending the Krajina Serb leadership and thereby "demonstrating its [political] amateurishness." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.


SITUATION IN KOSOVO IS A "SERIOUS PROBLEM."
That is how EU negotiator Carl Bildt described the situation in the mainly ethnic Albanian province and added that he would soon visit rump Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Albania, BETA reported on 23 August. According to the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle, 3,600 Serbian refugees have so far arrived in Kosovo. BETA, however, says that another 4,500 are expected to arrive soon in Pristina alone. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIA WANTS END TO SANCTIONS ON RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Following the visit to Belgrade of Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 August 1995), Romania reiterated its call for UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia to be lifted. At a press conference carried by Radio Bucharest on 23 August, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea Geoana said the "lifting of the embargo in the context of negotiations could work as a stimulating element for all the sides" involved in the conflict. He said Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had raised the issue in the talks with Melescanu. The conflict in former Yugoslavia will also figure prominently at the meeting due to be held between the Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian foreign ministers over the weekend in Greece, Geoana said. In other news, the Croat ambassador to Bucharest, Nikola Debelic, said in an interview with the RFE/RL Romanian service that the recent Croat offensive in Krajina has established a "military balance" allowing for "negotiations on an equal basis." He expressed the hope that Romania will use its influence on Belgrade to persuade Serbia to give up its "aggressive politics and its territorial claims on neighboring countries." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

RATIU TO RUN FOR ROMANIAN PRESIDENT?
A letter from Ion Ratiu, the vice-chairman of the opposition National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), published in the daily Ziua on 23 August, throws confusion over the race for the presidential elections due to be held in fall 1996. Although Ratiu stops short of confirming he will run, the tone of the letter seems to attest to this intent. The PNTCD is the leading force in the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), which has elected Emil Constantinescu as its chairman. According to the existing procedure, he is also automatically the CDR's candidate in the presidential elections. Ratiu says the PNTCD itself has not opted for a candidate and calls on his party to back him, stating that his chances of defeating President Ion Iliescu are higher than Constantinescu's. Ratiu was third in the presidential contest held in 1990. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

SNEGUR MEETS GAGAUZ LEADER AMID CALLS FOR ECONOMIC EMERGENCY.
President Mircea Snegur on 22 August met with the leader of the autonomous Gagauz region, George Tabunshik, Infotag reported on the same day. They discussed the dramatic economic situation in southern Moldova, which induced the Gagauz Popular Assembly to call on Chisinau to declare a state of economic emergency in the area. Snegur said after the meeting that he had asked the government to consider the Gagauz appeal. He also told Tabunshik that cooperation between the Gagauz authorities and Moscow in establishing joint ventures should be "more concrete" and recommended closer contacts with Turkey, which has showed readiness to help the Gagauz. During a recent meeting with Snegur in Bucharest, Turkish President Suleiman Demirel said his country was ready to allocate $35 million to Moldova. A Gagauz delegation is expected to visit Turkey to establish economic contacts. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.


YEVNEVICH ON ARMS SHIPMENTS.
Lt.-Gen. Valeriy Yevnevich, who commands the former 14th Army in Moldova, denied that four trains loaded with Russian arms would be withdrawn from the Transdniestr region to Russia by the end of the month as had been previously reported. In a 23 August Interfax interview, he said his staff had "started to estimate the condition of the armaments and will prepare a proposal . . . by the end of the month." He said that some old military trucks might be handed over to the local authorities as well as some communications equipment that had become outdated. He reiterated that withdrawal decisions would be made in Moscow and not by his command. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT DRAFTS LAW ON RESTITUTION.
The Macedonian government approved a draft law on the restitution of real estate that was nationalized between August 1944 and February 1968, MIC reported on 23 August. The Ministry of Finance has registered 37,000 hectares of agricultural land, 16,000 hectares of forest, 21,000 hectares of pasture, 285 apartment buildings and 169 business objects and various herds of cattle and sheep that will be affected by the law. Finance Minister Jane Miljovski said that it is the government's aim to give back all property that physically exists, or to provide compensation. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. MILITARY DELEGATION IN ALBANIA.
Secretary of the Army Togo West is leading a U.S. military delegation to Albania on 24 August, Rilindja Demokratike reports the same day. West will meet with President Sali Berisha and Defense Minister Safet Zhulali and visit U.S. army units deployed to reconstruct a hospital in Tirana in the framework of a military-medical exercise called "Crystal Water 95." West brings with him a donation of medical supplies worth $500,000. Elsewhere, deputy Chief of the General Staff Armand Vincani received the commander of an Italian frigate that will participate in joint exercises with the Albanian navy beginning on 26 August. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle




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