OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 166, 25 August 1995
OPPOSITION GROUPS RESIST UNITY.
Although the major groups of the
patriotic opposition support the common goal of restoring Russia as a great
power, they do not want to form a united bloc, Izvestiya reported on 25
August. The main cleavage is between the national-patriots and the
Communist-patriots, with numerous divisions within each of the camps. Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democrats take the most extreme position, declaring "we
have no allies." Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava also
rejects any ties to the Communist Party and to the Congress of Russian
Communities because of the presence of Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed in its
leadership. Several of the smaller parties at this end of the political
spectrum have formed alliances, but they are unlikely to win many votes. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
TRADE UNIONS AND INDUSTRIALISTS SEEK BLOC WITH AGRARIANS.
Shmakov's trade union electoral bloc and Vladimir Shcherbakov's Russian United
Industrialist Party held negotiations with Agrarian Party leader Mikhail
Lapshin about a possible electoral alliance, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August.
State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin tried to recruit the three parties for his
Yeltsin-sponsored left-center bloc, but they all spurned cooperation with him.
Shcherbakov said that a bloc with the Agrarians would be a "real left-wing
centrist association" and that final decisions will be made by 5 September,
when the parties are holding congresses to select their list of candidates.
Lapshin expressed some willingness to coordinate with the parties, Interfax
reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
PERM SEEKS TO ELECT GOVERNOR.
The Perm Oblast Legislative Assembly has
asked President Yeltsin to approve its plan to hold elections for oblast
governor on 17 December in conjunction with the parliamentary elections,
ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. There is still no federal legislation on
electing governors, but the Perm legislature last month approved a local law on
electing its governor. At the moment, Yeltsin has reserved the right to appoint
oblast governors. He granted Sverdlovsk special permission to hold the election
for governor which took place earlier this week, and which resulted in the
surprise defeat of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's favored candidate. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
BRYANSK OBLAST DUMA VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN ITS SPEAKER.
Oblast Duma voted to remove its chairman Valerii Rogachev for discrediting the
local legislature, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. Working with former Bryansk
Governor Vladimir Karpov, the Duma charges, Rogachev gave generous tax benefits
to several commercial enterprises in the region. Rogachev was on vacation when
the vote was taken, although he had been invited to the session. Yeltsin
removed former Governor Karpov on 16 August, and his replacement, Vladimir
Barabanov, participated in the Duma session. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
JOURNALIST PRIZES AWARDED.
The Confederation of Journalists' Unions
announced the winners of its annual prizes "for courage and professionalism,"
ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. St. Petersburg journalist Lev Korsunskii of
the St. Petersburg newspaper Chas Pik won the prize for crime reporting
named after Dmitrii Kholodov, the journalist killed in October 1994 while
investigating corruption in the military. Among the other recipients were 15
journalists who in June volunteered to accompany Chechen fighters and hostages
traveling from Budennovsk to Chechnya. The prizes were established in August
1991 to honor journalists who demonstrated courage and professionalism during
the attempted coup. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
LOBOV REPORTEDLY APPOINTED PRESIDENTIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN CHECHNYA.
Following a meeting with President Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Lysenko,
chairman of the Duma Committee on the Development of Federalism, said that Oleg
Lobov, secretary of the Security Council, had been appointed to be the special
presidential representative to Chechnya, Interfax reported on 24 August. NTV
later reported that the presidential press service refused to confirm or deny
Lobov's appointment. Lysenko quoted Yeltsin as praising Lobov's "high
professional qualities" and saying that with his appointment, "the situation in
Chechnya will embark on a normal, working path." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
DISARMAMENT PROCESS MAKES SLOW PROGRESS.
In Grozny, a spokesman for the
federal forces told Interfax on 24 August that the disarmament of Chechen
fighters had begun in the Vedensk, Achkhoi-Martan, Nozhai-Yurt, and Sunzhen
regions of Chechnya. He added that a protocol outlining practical details of
the disarmament process had been signed on 24 August by General Anatolii
Romanov, commander of federal forces, and Chechen military commander Aslan
Maskhadov. However, another federal military spokesman expressed concern with
the slow pace of disarmament, telling Interfax that Chechen fighters have only
turned in 221 weapons to date, while the military estimates that over 60,000
weapons are in the hands of the fighters. Sporadic fighting continued overnight
in Chechnya, with federal positions coming under fire 10 times, wounding eight
federal servicemen, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
EXPERTS AGAIN SAY NO CHEMICAL USE IN CHECHNYA.
Experts from the St.
Petersburg Institute of Hygiene and Disease Prevention said they could find no
evidence that chemical weapons had been used in the Chechen village of Avtury,
ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. This was the third investigation into the
possible use of such agents by federal forces. The other two also returned the
same opinion. Yurii Musiichuk, the institute's director, said 110 of the 226
Avtury residents his team examined had scabies--a disease medical professionals
estimate could affect one quarter of Chechnya's population. -- Doug Clarke,
CHECHEN WAR BANKRUPTING ARMED FORCES.
The fighting in Chechnya has cost
the military 1.9 trillion rubles ($430 million), more than its entire budget
for the current fiscal year, the Defense Ministry chief of the military budget
and finances told ITAR-TASS on 24 August. Maj. Gen. Vladimir Osadchi said the
war alone is not the sole cause of the military's financial crisis. He
explained that the Finance Ministry has not been allocating the armed forces
all the money called for in the budget. "The outstanding debt to the Defense
Ministry for the last year was 12 trillion rubles ($2.7 billion) and the debt
has been growing this year," he said. Osadchi added that the Defense Ministry
is 3.6 trillion rubles ($820 million) in debt and does not have the money to
pay wages to either uniformed or civilian personnel. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
CABINET MINISTERS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER ILLEGAL CHINESE IMMIGRATION.
meeting of the Russian government on 24 August, several members of the cabinet
expressed concern with illegal Chinese immigration in the Russian Far East,
Western and Russian agencies reported. Interfax reported quoted Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev as saying "Chinese citizens are peacefully conquering
Russia's Far East," and adding that military sources had reported that Chinese
settlers in the region have organized martial arts training centers. The head
of the Federal Migration Service, Tatyana Regent, admitted that Chinese are
using "illegal immigration channels" to settle in the Russian Far East. She
suggested that to counter this trend, some of the 5 million ethnic Russians who
are expected to migrate to Russia from other areas of the former Soviet Union
be resettled there. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets supported those
views, adding that the government should develop a program to deport illegal
Chinese immigrants from the region and assist local authorities, who have
repeatedly expressed concern with the issue. The cabinet discussion followed
the 23 August signing in Beijing of a Russian-Chinese border policing
agreement. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
POWER SUPPLY CUT TO KALININGRAD MILITARY.
The Baltic Fleet and other
military installations in Kaliningrad Oblast have been experiencing power cuts
because the military owes local power companies more than 24 billion rubles
($5.4 million), Segodnya reported on 24 August. The Baltic Fleet command
has urged the local energy company and the government to show common sense and
come up with a solution. This is not the first time that payments problems have
resulted in power being shut off to military installations in Russia. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
PAY RISE FOR TEACHERS AND DOCTORS.
The wages of teachers, researchers,
and medical workers will be raised on 1 September, Deputy Prime Minister Yurii
Yarov announced on 24 August, Russian Public TV reported. The increase will be
implemented in two stages: wages will be raised by about 50% on 1 September and
then by another 50% on 1 November. According to the report, the lowest salary
for a school teacher at the start of the academic year will be about 350,000
rubles (about $79) a month and for a teacher at a higher educational
establishment, 450,000 rubles ($102). Education and health care, professions in
which women predominate, have traditionally been two of the lowest paid
sectors. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
CENTRAL BANK PLEDGES TO MAINTAIN VALUE OF RUBLE . . .
In a move to
continue holding to tight monetary and budget targets, Russia's government and
Central Bank pledged on 24 August to extend the ruble exchange rate corridor
zone against the U.S. dollar from 1 October until the end of the year, Russian
and Western agencies reported the same day. The corridor zone, established on 5
July, allows the ruble to fluctuate between 4,300 and 4,900 to $1. President
Yeltsin's chief economic adviser, Aleksandr Livshits, said the extension of the
corridor signals that the government and Central Bank are sure they are strong
enough to prevent any destabilization of the financial market. The ruble traded
at an unchanged rate of 4,428 rubles to $1 in 24 August MICEX trading -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
. . . CAUSING TURMOIL ON FINANCIAL MARKETS.
The announcement that the
ruble corridor had been extended caused turmoil on the Russian money market and
a halt to interbank ruble-dollar trade, Russian and Western agencies reported
on 24 August. Overnight money market interest rates soared from 300% per anum
to 1,000% on 23 August. Dealers said many institutions were desperate for cash,
but banks were reluctant to lend, fearing they would not get their money back.
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais said that although the ruble
corridor will benefit the economy because it will channel money away from
currency speculation and into real investments, it may "profoundly shake" the
banking industry. There are more than 2,500 banks, many of which relied on
profits from currency speculation. The acting head of the Central Bank of
Russia, Tatyana Paramonova, denied that there is a banking crisis and said the
bank will back the liquidity of the country's banking system, Interfax reported
on 24 August. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 166, 25 August 1995
GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS NEW PRESIDENTIAL CONSTITUTION.
of acrimonious debate, on 24 August the Georgian parliament finally approved by
a vote of 159-8 a new draft constitution providing for an executive presidency
and a unicameral parliament, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
president is to be elected by popular vote for a period of five years and will
nominate and head the cabinet. The new constitution does not address the issue
of relations between Tbilisi and the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South
Ossetiya. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
WAGE, PENSION ARREARS TO BE PAID IN TAJIKISTAN.
Following the lifting of
bread price controls on 20 August, Tajik authorities have decided to allocate
345 million Tajik rubles to the budget to cover the payment of wage and pension
arrears, Tajik and Russian media reported on 23 August. It is not clear if the
funds involved have been re-allocated or if additional Tajik rubles will be
printed to pay salaries and pensions that have not been paid since May. --
Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
MAJORITY IN KAZAKH CITIES INDIFFERENT TO REFERENDUM.
An opinion poll
conducted by the independent Almaty-based Giller Institute found that most
people in Kazakhstan know little or nothing about the draft constitution to be
voted on in a 30 August referendum, the institute's director Leonid Gurevich
told Reuters on 24 August. However, those who plan to vote largely support the
constitution, he said. The poll of 1,500 respondents in eight cities in
Kazakhstan, conducted earlier this month, found that just 8% of voters said
they had read the constitution closely; 32% had "heard something" about the
draft and 31% said they knew nothing about it. The poll results show that some
52% have reported an intention to vote--just above the 50% required for a valid
referendum. Among those who intend to vote, 71% support the draft constitution
and 29% are opposed to it. The survey did not cover rural areas. -- Bhavna
Dave, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 166, 25 August 1995
SLOVAKIA LIMITS RFE/RL LICENSE, CLAIMING BIAS.
Slovakia's Board for
Radio and Television Broadcasting on 24 August granted a license extension for
one year, instead of six, to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), alleging
that the U.S.-sponsored station is anti-Slovak, Western and Slovak media
reported. Another international broadcaster, the BBC, received a six-year
extension. Peter Juras, chairman of the board for radio and television, told
journalists in Bratislava that "the reason for this decision was our conclusion
that the station violated its own code of ethics," adding that some RFE/RL
comments lacked balance. Another member of the board said that the board had
the impression the station was "anti-Slovak." RFE/RL officials have welcomed
the extension of the license, vowing to continue providing the "high quality
programs our Slovak listeners expect of us." Both RFE/RL and the BBC broadcast
in the Slovak language via medium wave transmitters leased in Slovakia; their
current licenses expire at the end of 1995. RFE/RL has been a recent target of
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and his allies. Some RFE/RL
correspondents were physically attacked by Meciar supporters during a rally in
Bratislava last year and, in March 1994, the Meciar government temporarily
pulled the plug on RFE/RL's Czech and Slovak programs in Slovakia, claiming a
bias against Meciar. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PRESIDENT WILL NOT RESIGN.
A spokesman for Slovak President
Michal Kovac told journalists on 24 August that the president "does not intend
to step down and will not accept the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar," should Meciar decide to resign. Jan Carnogursky, chairman of the
opposition Christian Democrats, said on 24 August that his party "had
information that Meciar wants to resign in September unless the president steps
down." According to Carnogursky, the president should not accept the
resignation of Meciar and his government and "should stay in his post." Kovac
said on 24 August that he is not interested in "intensifying conflict with the
government" and will not react to government attacks. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI,
WALESA BLASTS PRIME MINISTER.
In remarks to radio reporters on 24
August, President Lech Walesa charged that Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy "cheats
however he can and lies whenever he can," Gazeta Wyborcza reported.
Asked why he had used an open letter to demand that the government increase
military spending rather than raise the matter directly with the prime
minister, Walesa said he intended to communicate with Oleksy only in writing or
in the presence of witnesses, as otherwise the prime minister could falsify the
record of the discussion. Walesa also said that if he is re-elected president
he will dismiss National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. Walesa charged
that Gronkiewicz-Waltz's candidacy was supported by postcommunist banking
circles. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLAND RATIFIES CHEMICAL CONVENTION.
Poland became the 35th country to
ratify the convention banning the production, possession, or use of chemical
weapons, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. The convention was opened for
signature in January 1993 and so far 159 nations have signed it. However, 65
must ratify it before it comes into force. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARY REINFORCES ITS BORDER WITH SLAVONIA.
Hungary on 24 August
strengthened its defenses with eastern Slavonia, a territory in Croatia held by
rebel Serbs, Western agencies reported. A border guard spokesman said the move
was in response to tension on the border between Serbia and Croatia, which, he
claimed, "was visibly mounting." According to the spokesman, five border guard
units have been brought in from other areas of Hungary to patrol the
66-kilometer section of the border. He said patrols would be stepped up but
called the measures "purely precautionary." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIANS MARK FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE.
Kuchma presided over national celebrations marking four years since the
Ukrainian Parliament declared the former Soviet republic an independent state,
Reuters and Interfax-Ukraine reported on 24 August. Kuchma told a rally in Kiev
that Ukraine had laid the foundations for a prosperous economy but still needed
to overcome many of the mistakes made in the first years of independence. He
said the country needed its own economic model rather than copying Western
ones. He said a so-called constitutional accord between himself and a majority
of lawmakers, signed in June, set political reforms in motion and laid the
groundwork for the formation of a presidential/parliamentary system of
government. He said the pact also dismantled the "impotent" Soviet system of
administration. The Ukrainian leader also announced that the government was
prepared to serve as a mediator in talks over the unification of rival Orthodox
churches in Ukraine in an effort to end religious tensions that have
occasionally erupted into violence over church property. He said that despite
accusations of "persecution" by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev
Patriarchate after riot police clashed with mourners at the recent funeral of
its patriarch, his government would not favor one confession over another in
disputes over property and other matters. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
IMF MAY RELEASE CREDIT TO BELARUS.
Following a visit to Washington by
Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich and Chairman of the
National Bank of Belarus Stanislau Bahdankevich, the acting managing director
of the IMF, Stanley Fischer, said that Belarus had made considerable progress
in reforming and stabilizing its economy and that he was confident the IMF
board would consider the country's request for a $290 million tranche of a
stand-by loan next month, Reuters and AFP reported on 24 August. Fischer
praised Minsk for its efforts to meet IMF conditions, especially in making its
international credit payments. He said almost all key issues regarding the
release of the credit have been resolved, although discussions on the
technicalities of some aspects continue. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
MORE ON BELARUSIAN STRIKES.
The Minsk Municipal Court has ruled that a
strike staged by metro workers on 17 August was illegal, Belarusian Radio
reported on 23 August. The following day Interfax reported that deputy Syarhei
Antonchyk told a press conference that police had detained around 30 strikers
for their actions. Three trade-union leaders--Henadz Bykau, Mykola Kanakh and
Uladzimir Makarchuk--were sentenced to 10-15 days of administrative detention.
Antonchyk himself had been detained for around three days despite his
parliamentary immunity, but no charges were filed against him and he was
ultimately released. There are conflicting stories about the legality of his
arrest. One report stated that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued an order
suspending parliament deputies' immunity, but presidential spokesman Uladzimir
Zamyatalin denied the existence of such a decree. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
RUEHE'S COMMENTS ON BALTIC STATES CRITICIZED.
An article in the 24
August Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung rebukes German Defense Minister
Volker Ruehe for his remarks in the Baltic States on their possible NATO
membership. It cites Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel as saying that the security
architecture in the Baltics could not be built at the expense of the Baltic
States. Germany and the European Union, he said, understand their wish to
become NATO members and would not accept the creation of gray areas of
security. The honorary chairman of the Free Democratic Party, Otto von
Lambsdorff, said that Germany should make every effort to avoid creating zones
of different security in Russia's neighborhood. In his opinion, Ruehe's remarks
could evoke the "highest concern" for the Baltic states over Bonn's foreign
policy course. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIA PASSES LAW ON RADIO AND TELEVISION.
The law on radio and
television, adopted by the Saeima on 24 August, provides that state television
and radio be financed from the state budget while privately-owned channels
ensure their own existence, BNS reported. The idea of having subscription fees
for radio and television owners was rejected. The Saeima will appoint a
nine-member National Radio and Television Council to a four-year term. Foreign
television stations, Latvian radio, cable and satellite broadcasters are
exempted from the law's requirement that the broadcasting time in a foreign
language not exceed 30% of total airtime per month. Starting 1 January,
commercials for alcoholic beverages--except wine and beer--and tobacco products
will be banned. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 166, 25 August 1995
CROATIA REJECTS CHARGES OVER KRAJINA.
Croatian Foreign Minister Mate
Granic has again blasted the "false information" that claims that Croatian
forces have systematically burned or destroyed abandoned Serbian property in
Krajina, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 25 August.
Granic said that there were isolated cases of excesses that would be firmly
punished, but that they were not the work of regular Croatian forces. To date
524 Serbian corpses have been counted, of which 24 civilians have been
identified. The minister rejected Bosnian Serb offers of a territorial exchange
in southern Croatia. Granic is visiting Austria, whose Prime Minister Franz
Vranitzky has criticized Croatia over Krajina. The former Slovenian defense
minister, Janez Jansa, in turn attacked the Austrian Socialist leader, saying
that "Mr. Vranitzky does not hear the [Serbian] shells [falling] on Karlovac."
Austrian conservative politicians have welcomed Granic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
IMPASSE OVER SERBIAN REFUGEES FROM KNIN.
Nearly 700 Serbs who fled
Croatia's lightning victory earlier this month are still waiting to leave UN
headquarters in Knin for Serb-held territory, international media reported on
25 August. Plans for them to depart have been held up by a dispute between
Croatia and the UN over suspected war criminals in the group. Zagreb has
identified 61 persons whom it will not allow to leave and wants to examine. The
UN, however, will not release them without a detailed account of the charges
and assurances that the UN can monitor the interrogations. Novi list
quoted the leader of Croatia's Serbian People's Party, Milan Dukic, as
accusing the Croatian military of deliberately destroying Serbian property in
Krajina in order to discourage Serbs from returning. Croatian authorities in
turn suspect the Serbs of making such charges in an effort to distract
attention from Serbian war crimes. Slobodna Dalmacija cited a Roman
Catholic official as saying that the Serbs had destroyed all Catholic church
buildings in Krajina, but that the Croats would now "build even more beautiful
churches." Sky Channel News on 24 August showed footage of Croatian troops
guarding Serbian churches in Krajina. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SACIRBEY CRITICIZES NEW PEACE PROJECT.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed
Sacirbey said that new U.S. peace efforts are flawed because they include no
plans for sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs if they reject the project. The
VOA on 25 August also quoted him as likening Bosnia to a crippled man who had
been hit by a drunk driver. Sacirbey added that lifting the arms embargo
against his government would provide an impetus to the peace process by
encouraging the Serbs to negotiate seriously. The Belgrade weekly NIN, however,
quoted Bosnian Serb "parliament speaker" Momcilo Krajisnik as saying that EU
mediator Carl Bildt had recently given the Serbs "guarantees [in Geneva] that
there will be two separate states with compact territories within the former
Bosnia-Herzegovina." Krajisnik called that "great progress," AFP noted. Bildt
has been declared persona non grata in Croatia, and the Bosnian authorities
refuse to meet with him. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN TROOPS ATTACK BRITISH.
News agencies reported on 25 August that
suspected rogue members of the Bosnian army attacked British UN peacekeepers in
Gorazde the previous night. A 15-minute fire-fight left two Bosnians dead but
no British casualties, and the motive for the attack was unclear. The UN has
protested the incident, but the British government called it "minor incursion."
The U.K. troops are in the process of leaving the UN-declared "safe area,"
which is now supposed to be only protected by NATO air power. Former UN human
rights monitor Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who quit in disgust over the international
community's failure to protect Srebrenica and Zepa, said in Kuala Lumpur that
his resignation was final. Elsewhere, Bosnian Radio reported that videos
discovered in the rooms of Bihac-pocket kingpin Fikret Abdic revealed
dissension in his followers' ranks. The tapes also suggested a link between
Abdic's men and the death of Bosnia's foreign minister earlier this year. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN ENVOY MEETS SERBIAN PRESIDENT.
Russian envoy Alexander Zotov met
in Belgrade with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on 24 August to discuss
peace prospects in the former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported the
following day. Zotov, Moscow's representative to the five-nation Contact Group,
met with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 21 August and with Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic the following day. In other news, Tanjug reported
on 23 August that rump Yugoslavia's new foreign minister, Milan Milutinovic,
wrote UNESCO, urging the international body to protect the Serbian cultural
legacy in Krajina. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CONDEMNS KARADZIC.
Vuk Draskovic's Serbian
Renewal Movement (SPO) issued a statement on 23 August condemning the
leadership of the Bosnian Serbs, Serbian TV
in Belgrade reported the
same day. According to the report, the SPO has concluded that the recent
Bosnian Serb attacks on Sarajevo are simply "one more incomprehensible,
uncivilized, anti-Serbian action undertaken by the war adventurers in Pale."
The statement went on to add that "it is now crystal clear that Radovan
Karadzic and all his supporters want to stop the peace process and carry on the
war at any cost." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIAN ARMY SHOOTS AT KOSOVAR ALBANIANS.
The Serbian army fired mortar
shells on Albanian neighborhoods in Urosevac on 22 August, according to the
Kosova Daily Report on 23 August. The attack damaged houses but
no casualties were reported. Albanian political parties in the region and human
rights groups denounced the incident as an attempt to provoke a conflict in
Kosovo. Meanwhile, according to Serbian officials, about 5,000 Serbian refugees
have arrived in Kosovo and another 7,000 are still expected. Refugees who are
willing to settle in Kosovo are offered more farmland than refugees who want to
settle in other regions, Politika says, but many refugees who arrive
still end up wanting to leave the region soon after their arrival. Fifty Serb
refugees left Prizren on 23 August for Serbia proper, the Kosova Daily
Report said on 24 August. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
HORN TO ATTEMPT TO DISSUADE ROMANIANS FROM IMPLEMENTING EDUCATION LAW.
Citing the Hungarian news agency MTI, Radio Bucharest on 25 August reported
that Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn will initiate a "governmental level"
meeting in an attempt to dissuade Romanian President Ion Iliescu from
implementing a recently-passed, controversial education law. Horn also said he
wanted to talk with Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar on Slovakia's new language
law and said he had already initiated talks with Belgrade on the resettling of
Serb refugees in Vojvodina. Horn considers the measure as "modifying the
province's ethnic balance." The Hungarian premier also said Budapest will not
introduce visa requirements for citizens from neighboring countries but will
take other measures to prevent criminal elements from entering Hungarian
territory. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
CHISINAU PARLIAMENTARY ROUNDTABLE ON POLITICAL SITUATION.
the conflict between President Mircea Snegur and the Democratic Agrarian Party
of Moldova, a roundtable on the political situation in Moldova was held on 24
August with the participation of most parties represented in the legislature,
Radio Bucharest announced the same day. Two opposition parties, the Popular
Front Christian Democratic and the United Democratic Congress did not, however,
participate in the debate, which was organized at the initiative of the
parliament. Participants expressed deep concern in view of the escalation of
the conflict between the presidency, the government and the parliament. They
called on the state structures "to assume full responsibility for normal
functioning and the safeguarding of the image of a country striving to advance
on the road to stability and democracy." They also agreed to hold similar
consultative meetings at intervals of two months at the most. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
NEW TWIST IN BULGARIAN MILITARY DEATHS.
The office of Sofia's Military
Prosecutor has released revealing information relating to a case involving the
deaths of 14 military personnel, Bulgarian Radio reported on 23 August. A
military truck crashed and burned in Sofia on 11 August, resulting in the
deaths (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 August 1995). The prosecutor's office
says a row of bullet holes, allegedly coming from the make and model of a
firearm used by professional assassins, has been detected in one of the
vehicle's doors. Investigation into the incident continues. -- Stan Markotich,
PEDAGOGIC SEMINAR FOR MACEDONIAN-LANGUAGE TEACHERS FOR ALBANIA.
Macedonian Ministry of Education and Physical Culture organized a seminar in
Ohrid for teachers from Albania who will teach the Macedonian language in that
country, the independent Macedonian news agency MIC reported on 23 August. The
seminar focuses on Macedonian language, literature, and culture. Meanwhile, a
new round of talks began in Tetovo between the Macedonian government and the
ethnic Albanian political parties under the mediation of EU diplomat Gerd
Ahrens. The aim is to solve the conflict about a law on higher education in the
Albanian language for the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, BETA reports on 24
August. The leader of the Party of Democratic Prosperity of the Albanians,
Arben Xhaferi, repeated demands that a university in the Albanian language be
opened and the use of the language be allowed in parliament and public offices.
-- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN-GREEK TRANSPORT COMMISSION MEETS.
A two-day meeting of the
Albanian-Greek Commission on Transport opened in Ioannina on 22 August, Radio
Tirana reported on 23 August. The first session of the meeting focused on
agreements on road transport, including goods transport, and addressed rail
links between the two countries. A bilateral transport protocol is expected to
be signed. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Pete Baumgartner