OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 172, 5 September 1995
YELTSIN APPROVES ELECTION OF NIZHNII NOVGOROD GOVERNOR.
President Boris Yeltsin approved Nizhnii Novgorod's intention to hold elections
for its governor, Radio Rossii reported on 1 September. Novgorod, Vladimir,
Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tambov, and Saratov oblasts have also officially requested
permission to hold similar elections as has the Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug,
ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin will soon approve elections in two or three of
these, according to Presidential Chief-of-Staff Sergei Filatov. Meanwhile, in a
1 September Kremlin meeting with the newly-elected Governor of Sverdlovsk
Oblast, Eduard Rossel, Yeltsin agreed to consider a treaty defining the
relationship between the federal government and the oblast. Rossel defeated
Yeltsin's preferred candidate in his campaign. -- Robert Orttung
BOLDYREV QUITS YABLOKO.
One of Yabloko's founders, Yurii Boldyrev,
dropped out of the party on 2 September because he believes that Grigorii
Yavlinskii's leadership has become autocratic and sacrificed liberal
principles, Ekho Moskvy and Reuters reported. He did not appear at the party's
congress on 2-3 September in Moscow. Although Boldyrev was one of the party's
founding members, contributing the "B" to its name, his withdrawal does not
have immediate consequences since he was not planning to run for the Duma. The
party's top three candidates will be Yavlinskii, Chairman of the Duma Committee
on International Affairs Vladimir Lukin, and Deputy Chairwoman of the Duma
Committee on Labor and Social Security Tatyana Yarygina. Seven other parties
held their congresses over the weekend. -- Robert Orttung
OUR HOME IS RUSSIA NAMES PARTY LIST.
The second congress of Our Home Is
Russia set on its tone for the election campaign on 2 September, choosing
supporters of strong Russian statehood for its party list. Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin will top the list, followed by film director Nikita
Mikhalkov ("Burnt by the Sun"), and General Lev Rokhlin, commander of the
troops that stormed Grozny, Russian media reported on 3 September. Mikhalkov
had previously been associated with former vice president Aleksandr Rutskoi and
his Derzhava movement. Other prominent figures on the list include former
Democratic Party of Russia chairman Nikolai Travkin and Vladimir Bashmachnikov,
leader of the liberal farmers' union AKKOR. In his address to the congress,
Chernomyrdin was optimistic that his bloc will overcome early campaign setbacks
and divisions among supporters of economic reform. On 20 August, the bloc's
candidate was defeated in Sverdlovsk gubernatorial elections, and Deputy Prime
Minister Sergei Shakhrai deserted the bloc last week. -- Laura Belin
PROCURATOR CLOSES OCTOBER 1993 CRIMINAL CASE.
Office has closed its criminal investigation of the events on 3-4 October 1993
in which more than 150 people died. It declared that both executive authorities
and supporters of the Supreme Soviet were to blame for the armed clashes and
bloodshed, Russian Public Television reported on 4 September. Prominent
parliamentary supporters, including Ruslan Khasbulatov and Aleksandr Rutskoi,
were released from prison in February 1994 when the Duma granted amnesty to all
sides in the conflict. One NTV reporter commented that by not charging a single
person in the case, procurators had followed one of Russia's "most frightening
traditions: bury the dead, but don't name the murderers." -- Laura Belin
LITTLE PROGRESS IN CHECHNYA.
The recent highly-publicized meeting of the
Security Council to discuss the Chechen conflict has as yet delivered few
concrete results. The disarmament process continues to move very slowly, with
federal military sources telling Interfax on 2 September that only 1,100
weapons had been surrendered by Chechen fighters.
Some fighters are
keeping their weapons because they are being allowed to join new self-defense
units, AFP reported.
On 2 September, Chechen military commander Aslan
Maskhadov said that an agreement had been reached on the terms of a
long-delayed prisoner exchange, but Russian Public Television reported on 4
September that the exchange had still not taken place. Meanwhile, on the night
of 3-4 September, federal troops in Chechnya came under attack 19 times, with
mortars used to shell federal positions for the first time in weeks, according
to ITAR-TASS. -- Scott Parrish
KOHL AND YELTSIN DISCUSS YUGOSLAV CONFLICT.
Talks on 2 and 3 September
between German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Yeltsin failed to produce
agreement between Russia and the Western members of the international Contact
Group on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Western and Russian agencies
reported. Kohl told journalists that "our opinions on the air raids did not
coincide," in reference to NATO airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs, which
Russia has condemned. Kohl did add, however, that he and Yeltsin agreed that
the Yugoslav conflict could only be solved at the negotiating table, not by
On other issues, Kohl promised German financial aid for
the destruction of Russian chemical weapons, and Yeltsin reiterated Russian
opposition to the eastward enlargement of NATO. -- Scott Parrish
TRAGEDY IN KUZBASS.
Fifteen people were killed in an explosion on 4
September at the Pervomaisk mine in the Kuzbass coal field
Siberia. Izvestiya on 5 September said it was the ninth serious accident
in the Kuzbass this year. According to Kemerovo Governor Mikhail Kislyuk, the
death rate in the area's mines has tripled since 1989. On average, every
million tons of coal mined now costs two lives. Meanwhile, Russian Public
Television said that 27 miners are on a hunger strike in the southern Russian
mining area of Rostov to protest wage arrears totaling at least 27 billion
rubles ($6 million). -- Penny Morvant
PRISONERS SUFFOCATE IN PERM.
Two prisoners suffocated and four others
collapsed in an overcrowded remand prison in Perm in the Urals on 2 September.
ITAR-TASS quoted the prison warden as saying the remand wing housed twice as
many suspects as it was built to hold. In July, 11 inmates died of heat
exhaustion in a remand cell in Novokuznetsk. Rossiiskaya gazeta on 24
August said that more than 270,000 suspected criminals are held on remand in
Russia. -- Penny Morvant
YELTSIN APPROVES LOAN-EQUITY SWAP PLAN.
In a move to reduce the federal
budget deficit, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 1 September
authorizing banks and private investors to manage state shares in certain
enterprises in exchange for major loans, Russian and Western agencies reported
the same day. The measure allows the state to retain ownership of the shares,
but they will be transferred to the banks and investors if the state defaults
on the loans. The decree said the rights to manage the shares would be
allocated by tender, open to the banks and Russian and foreign investors. The
amount of the loans and the conditions and guarantees attached to them will be
determined by the successful bidders. The tenders will be issued from 1
October. -- Thomas Sigel
EXPORT TARIFFS SLASHED, YET GOVERNMENT TO MILK GAZPROM.
tariffs on key exports on 1 September, but moved to boost state coffer revenues
by hiking natural gas excise taxes of the state gas giant, Gazprom, by 10% and
eliminating a tax break on the company's hard currency earnings, Russian and
Western agencies reported the same day. President Yeltsin signed a decree to
lower export tariffs by an average of 30% on goods from metals to machinery.
The new rates, which have not been made public, took effect immediately. At the
same time, the government decided to raise the excise taxes on Gazprom's
natural gas from 25% to 35%. Gazprom already channels billions of dollars into
the Russian economy. According to Segodnya, First Deputy Prime Minister
responsible for the Economy and Finance, Anatolii Chubais, said the extra
revenue from Gazprom would bring in an additional 3.5 trillion rubles ($780
million) by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel
INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT AND GNP FALL.
Russia's industrial output fell by 7% in
the first half of 1995, compared with the same period in 1994, and gross
national product (GNP) fell by 4%, Russian agencies reported on 2 September.
Citing official statistics, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said
that recent figures were more encouraging, and pointed to a 2% increase in
June's industrial production, compared with May, and a rise of 3% in GNP. He
said the rate of decline was slowing compared with 1994. For all of 1994,
industrial production fell by 21%, after a decline of 16% in 1993, while GNP
dropped by 15% in 1994, compared with 12% in 1993. Soskovets said that June's
figures gave rise to optimism that recovery was on the way. He pointed to a
rise in production during the first six months of 1995 in the steel, chemical,
petrochemical, machine and paper industries, but noted a 35-40% decline in
light industrial production. Meanwhile, the government released August's
monthly inflation rate--4.6%--the lowest level in one year. -- Thomas Sigel
YELTSIN LOWERS ARMS EXPORT DUTIES.
Russian President Yeltsin has ordered
the government to reduce export duties on defense industry products, Interfax
reported on 1 September. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets announced
this to Khabarovsk authorities during his working visit to Russia's Far East.
He said this would mean that the aircraft factory in Komsomolsk would not be
required to pay any duty on its Su-27 jet exports to China. -- Doug Clarke
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 172, 5 September 1995
TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA
NAGORNO-KARABAKH TALKS OPEN IN MOSCOW.
Talks began near Moscow on 4
September between representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh,
Russian and Western media reported. The talks, which are being held under the
auspices of the OSCE, are aimed at consolidating the ceasefire which has held
in the region since May 1994. Azerbaijan is refusing to recognize the
independent status of Nagorno-Karabakh until Armenia returns the Azerbaijani
territory which was seized during earlier fighting, including the land corridor
linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Upcoming talks over the construction of
pipelines to export oil from the Caspian Sea, scheduled for 9 October, may
encourage the two sides to reach a settlement. -- Peter Rutland
SHEVARDNADZE TIGHTENS GRIP AFTER ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
Security Minister Igor Giorgadze and his deputy Temur Khachishvili were sacked
on 2 September for failing to prevent the 29 August bomb attack on Georgian
leader Eduard Shevardnadze, AFP reported on 3 September. Khachishvili, a
supporter of Shevardnadze opponent Dzhaba Ioseliani, was arrested on 2
September along with two leading members of the Mkhedrioni, a paramilitary
group. They were accused of involvement in an April attack on a Shevardnadze
aide. On 3 September, police conducted raids on regional headquarters of the
Mkhedrioni, which backs Ioseliani, seizing their buildings and confiscating
weapons. On 3 September Deputy Minister Avtandil Ioseliani was appointed
interim security minister, while Shevardnadze told the parliament he will take
direct, personal control over three elite security units. The parliament
officially approved Shevardnadze's actions. On 4 September, Shevardnadze
concluded a one-day visit to Uzbekistan. -- Peter Rutland
AZERBAIJAN COURT BANS COMMUNIST PARTY.
The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan
has banned the Communist Party, preventing it from registering for the 12
November elections, a Western news agency reported 4 September. Fazil Mamedov,
a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, accused the Communist Party of
threatening Azerbaijan's independence by calling for the restoration of the
Soviet Union. Party leader Ramiz Akhmedov said the party will appeal to
President Heidar Aliyev to lift the ban. On 2 September Interfax reported that
two major opposition parties, the Popular Front of Azerbaijan and the Social
Democratic Party, will be allowed to run in the elections despite earlier being
denied registration (See OMRI Daily Digest 4 August 1995). -- Peter
TAJIK MILITARY UNITS FIGHT EACH OTHER, AGAIN.
The Kurgan-Tyube area in
Tajikistan's south was once again the scene of fighting between the first and
eleventh brigades, according to western sources. Both groups were members of
the Popular Front which backed the Communists return to power in late 1992.
Conflict broke out following the assassination of Izatullo Kuganov, commander
of the eleventh brigade, in early June. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov had
announced that both brigades would be moved to positions on the Tajik-Afghan
border, but this didn't occur. The eleventh brigade came under attack on 1
September. Usmon Marchayev, a commander in the eleventh brigade, said 300 men,
six tanks and several armored personnel carriers participated in the assault on
his unit. -- Bruce Pannier
KAZAKHSTAN OFFICIALS REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM ON REFERENDUM.
Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev rejected a statement by the U.S. embassy
in Almaty that criticizes the new Kazakh constitution as undemocratic, Interfax
reported on 2 September. Tokaev said that the people of Kazakhstan have
democratically adopted the new constitution, favoring a strong presidential
system, and expressed faith that his country's ties with the U.S. will only
become closer. A leader of the Russian opposition in Kazakhstan told Reuters on
1 September that voter turnout in the 186 voting stations in Almaty was between
14 and 28%. The Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of Kazakhstan claimed
that in the 622 polling stations monitored by the opposition, the actual
turnout was only 34%. Yuri Kim, the chairman of the electoral commission,
claimed that 90 percent of the electorate voted in the referendum. He denied
the "biased" claims of the opposition, who he said had observed only 622 of the
10,253 polling stations. -- Bhavna Dave
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 172, 5 September 1995
SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON KIDNAPPED, JAILED IN AUSTRIA . . .
Jr. was forcibly taken from Slovakia on 31 August and abandoned in his Mercedes
limousine outside a police station in the Austrian border town of Hainburg,
Slovak and international media reported. Kovac, aged 34, was reportedly dragged
from his car in Bratislava, hooded, handcuffed, beaten, given electric shocks,
and forced to drink half a liter of whiskey at gunpoint by about eight
unidentified men. Austrian police, who were informed of Kovac's presence by an
unknown caller speaking German with a Slovak accent, arrested Kovac and took
him to a hospital for treatment from injuries. The pro-government Slovak daily
Slovenska Republika reported in March that a Munich prosecutor had
issued an international warrant for Kovac's arrest last November for his
involvement in illegal business dealings between the Slovak firm Technopol and
German companies. Kovac denied any involvement but remained on Interpol's
"wanted" list. Chief prosecutor Manfred Wick in Munich asked Austria to
extradite Kovac to face fraud charges. -- Sharon Fisher
. . . FURTHER CLOUDING SLOVAKIA'S POLITICAL SCENE.
Michal Kovac Sr.
expressed shock at his son's abduction and insisted that he is innocent.
Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko and opposition representatives suggested
the kidnapping was an attempt to discredit the president, who has been involved
in a long-term power struggle with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Kovac Sr.
met with his Austrian counterpart, Thomas Klestil, in Vienna on 1 September to
discuss the situation. He later asked Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk to
send a note to Austria requesting the return of Kovac Jr., but Schenk said he
would first have to consult with Meciar. Slovak government spokesman Tomas
Hasala on 4 September denied any official involvement in Kovac Jr.'s abduction.
-- Sharon Fisher
PAWLAK WINS GRUDGING PARTY ENDORSEMENT.
Polish Peasant Party (PSL)
leader and former Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak barely won his party's
nomination for president on 2 September. Running unopposed in the first round,
Pawlak received the support of only 81 delegates; 141 were opposed to his
nomination. Party support was strongest for Sejm speaker Jozef Zych, whom PSL
members consider more popular and "electable" than the taciturn Pawlak. But
Zych repeatedly refused to vie for the nomination, and observers said he was
waiting for Pawlak to withdraw. In the second round of balloting, Pawlak
received just one vote more than the minimum required to defeat Senate speaker
Adam Struzik, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton
NEW CANDIDATES IN POLISH PRESIDENTIAL RACE.
Lech Kaczynski, former head
of the Supreme Chamber of Control, announced his candidacy for president on 4
September, Rzeczpospolita reported. Kaczynski, who is supported by the
right-wing Center Alliance, said he decided to run after more than 50,000
signatures were gathered to support his campaign. The announcement dashes any
remaining hope that the main right-wing parties will unite to support a single
presidential candidate. Stan Tyminski also formally launched his campaign on 4
September with the election slogan "Poland for Poles." Tyminski promised to put
a halt to the "genocidal" Balcerowicz plan and, as was the case in the last
presidential elections five years ago, he threatened to open his "black
briefcase" to reveal compromising information about other candidates. The two
declarations bring the total number of candidates to 28, according to a count
published in Rzeczpospolita. -- Louisa Vinton
CZECH GDP RISES IN SECOND QUARTER.
According to provisional figures
released by the Czech Statistical Office, GDP rose 3.2% in the second quarter
of 1995 compared with the same period last year, Czech media reported on 5
September. The figure represents a slight slowing down from the first quarter
of this year, when the rise in GDP was 3.9%. But the overall 3.6% rise in real
terms for the first six months of 1995 was in line with official expectations.
In nominal terms, GDP totaled 579.3 billion koruny ($22.28 billion) in the
first half of this year. Officials said increases were registered in industry
and construction, while the service sector stagnated during the second quarter.
-- Steve Kettle
"ROM SOM" FEST ENDS IN BUDAPEST.
The "Rom Som" festival ended on 3
September with a gala performance at the Budapest Congress Center at which a
letter of support from Premier Gyula Horn was read out in both Romani and
Hungarian. International media reported that few Roma attended the festival's
main events--performances of Carmen by a Spanish flamenco troupe,
Romeo and Juliet in Romani, and concerts by famous Jazz artists--citing
high ticket prices. However, local Roma filled the halls of other, less
publicized performances. Antonia Haga, Romani SZDSZ representative to
parliament, said proceeds will go toward Romani education and that it is hoped
the annual festival will be funded by the EU. While "Rom Som" has been billed
as the first-ever "World Gypsy Festival," similar events have been held in
Poland, Macedonia, and elsewhere. -- Alaina Lemon
BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY IN UKRAINE.
Malcolm Rifkind was in Kiev on 3
and 4 September on the first leg of a three-country visit, international
agencies reported. He met with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhen
Marchuk, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz, and Foreign Minister Hennadii
Udovenko. Rifkind discussed the situation in Bosnia and NATO's role there, the
closure of Chornobyl, and Ukraine's integration into international
organizations. He said Britain was ready to uphold Ukraine's eventual
membership in the Council of Europe and that it supported enhanced economic
cooperation with all European institutions. -- Ustina Markus
UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN DECREES.
Izvestiya on 5 September reported
that a number of Belarusian newspapers have published Presidential Decree No.
336 of 21 August, which did indeed suspend deputies' immunity, thereby allowing
for the arrest of deputy Syarhei Antonchyk (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1
September 1995). The decree also suspended the activities of the Independent
Trade Unions, the Minsk Metro Trade Union, and the Railroad and Transport
Facilities Workers' Union and called upon the Prosecutor's Office to start
proceedings aimed at abolishing those organizations. Meanwhile, President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka told journalists that he will only work with the new
parliament, Belarusian radio reported on 4 September. The old, outgoing
parliament is due to convene this week and will continue its work until a new
legislature is in place. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER IN U.S.
Tiit Vahi returned to Tallinn on 3
September after a two-week trip to the U.S. that included three working days in
Washington. Vahi on 30 August discussed the fight against drug trafficking with
FBI director Louis Freeh. The next day he held talks with IMF Deputy Director
Stanley Fischer and World Bank Managing Director Richard Frank, both of whom
expressed approval of Estonia's economic policy. Vahi on 1 September met with
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and top officials from the Defense
Department, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius
HUNGER STRIKE BY MIGRANTS IN LATVIAN CAMP.
Aldis Lieljuksis, head of the
Interior Ministry's Police Department, told a news conference on 4 September
that the hunger strike by Asian migrants at the Olaine internment camp was
over, Reuters reported. The strike began on 30 August. After some of the
strikers started a fire at the camp, the police moved in and detained twenty of
them. Many of the 128 migrants at the camp were on the so-called "Train of
Despair" that Russia and Lithuania refused to admit in April. Latvia does not
have the legal framework to deport the migrants, and no Western country is
prepared to accept them. -- Saulius Girnius
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 172, 5 September 1995
UN, NATO SUSPEND BOMBING OF BOSNIAN SERB POSITIONS . . .
alliance interrupted its air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs on 1 September
to see if the Serbs would then comply with key demands. The Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung on 4 September said the points included an end to
attacks on Sarajevo and other "safe areas," the withdrawal of heavy weapons
beyond the 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the Bosnian capital, and complete
freedom of movement for UN and NGO personnel, including access to the Sarajevo
airport. The Serbs had until 11:00 p.m. local time on 4 September to comply.
International media on 5 September noted that messages from the Bosnian Serb
military and civilian leaderships included unacceptable conditions. General
Ratko Mladic also sent a fax indicating that he could not order a withdrawal
since that would be a political decision requiring a popular referendum and a
vote by the Pale legislature, the BBC reported. -- Patrick Moore
. . . AND THEN RESUME BOMBING AGAIN.
A UN spokesman on 5 September said
that the Serbs moved only 20-25 heavy weapons out of the exclusion zone.
Special envoy Yasushi Akashi noted that this was "limited movement" only and
hence not likely to be acceptable, Reuters reported. The BBC added that the
Serbs have 200-300 such guns in the area. AFP quoted Akashi as saying that "we
need evidence of substantial movement--if not completion--of the withdrawal of
all heavy weapons from the exclusion zone." British Foreign Secretary Malcolm
Rifkind told the BBC from Moscow that the Serbs had presented written
acceptance of the demands and that "there will be no further need to
contemplate air strikes." Reuters reported from Zagreb, however, that NATO had
indeed resumed bombing. NATO and UN officials had been concerned that the Serbs
would try various ruses to buy time. The International Herald Tribune
said that a UN spokesman had warned Mladic that "if he doesn't play ball, he's
going to get hit very, very hard." -- Patrick Moore
SERBS PRESS ATTACKS ELSEWHERE.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
on 4 September noted that Bosnian Serb forces continued to attack in
northern and western Bosnia. They seemed interested in widening their supply
corridor from Serbia and shelled Gradacac, which was held by government and
Croatian defenders even during the Muslim-Croatian war of 1993. There were also
reports of shelling and sniper fire from Serbian positions in Sarajevo.
Slobodna Dalmacija on 5 September noted that 400 shells fell on Lukavac
near Tuzla. International media said the previous day that the Serbs had
released the five EU monitors who were first reported dead and then held up in
Visegrad by Bosnian Serb forces. -- Patrick Moore
International media on 5 September said that Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic feels the current U.S. peace plan has too many
"gray areas" to be acceptable. He specifically ruled out any confederation
between the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia in any future settlement,
although he reaffirmed certain rights for the Serbs. He had been speaking in
Ankara with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who came from talks in Bonn,
Belgrade, Athens, and Skopje. The details of the U.S. plan have yet to be made
public, but it is based on the Contact Group project of July 1994 and likewise
involves the effective partition of the republic. Holbrooke was nonetheless
optimistic about the chances for peace. Top Contact Group political officials
will meet in Geneva with Zagreb's, Sarajevo's, and Belgrade's foreign ministers
on 8 September. -- Patrick Moore
RAIDS FOLLOW SHOOT-OUT IN KOSOVO.
The Serbian police raided more than 60
houses following a shoot-out on 30 August, Kosova Daily Report said on 4
September. According to initial reports, two Serbian policemen were killed and
four wounded in an explosion following a shoot-out at a police station near the
village of Irzniq. Later sources, however, spoke of two injured and no
casualties. Police began raiding houses and arresting people immediately after
the shoot-out. Elsewhere, a court in Gnjilan sentenced nine ethnic Albanians to
between six months and four years in prison for allegedly planning to forcibly
secede from the rump Yugoslavia, BETA reported on 31 August. -- Fabian
VAN DER STOEL ON ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW.
OSCE High Commissioner for
Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel, concluding the official part of his visit
to Romania on 1 September, recommended that the new Romanian education law be
reformulated to enable technical colleges to teach in the Hungarian language.
Radio Bucharest reported the same day that the commissioner also recommended
the inclusion of Hungarian-language instruction in social sciences and
economics at the country's universities. Van der Stoel said the law currently
allows for broad interpretation of its provisions and that its implementation
should be reviewed (presumably by international organizations) at "regular
intervals" to ensure international standards are being applied. -- Michael
ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS PROTEST EDUCATION LAW.
International agencies on 2
September estimated that some 10,000 ethnic Hungarian participated in a rally
in the Transylvanian town of Targu Secuiesc protesting the education law. The
meeting was organized by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR).
UDMR chairman Bela Marko said the Hungarian minority rejects the "forced
assimilation" stipulated by the new law. Pan Laszlofi, chairman of the
Association of Hungarian Educators in Romania, said his organization was
preparing to found an autonomous Hungarian university. The UDMR announced the
setting up of the Foundation for the Defense of the Hungarian Language. It also
said 10 ethnic Hungarian youths would be cycling to Strasbourg to protest there
and en route against the new education law. -- Michael Shafir
TRANSDNIESTER MARKS "INDEPENDENCE DAY."
International agencies on 2-4
September reported that the Tiraspol authorities organized meetings marking the
fifth anniversary of the republic's break with Moldova. Igor Smirnov, president
of the region, said the final aim of the parleys with Chisinau was to secure
recognition of the republic's independence and consolidate statehood and the
army. Reuters reported that helicopters trailing the Transdniestrian flag flew
over Tiraspol as several thousand troops marched through the streets "recalling
scenes not witnessed in Moscow since the collapse of communism." BASA-press
said the military parade featured missile launchers, combat helicopters, and
armored vehicles. The festivities were also attended by an unofficial
delegation of three Russian State Duma radical nationalist deputies, headed by
Sergei Baburin, who said the present Transdniestrian republic "is the future of
Russia," Infotag and BASA-press reported. -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVA'S AGRARIANS HOLD CONGRESS.
The second extraordinary congress of
the main governing party, the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) , was
held in Chisinau on 2 September, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Chairman
Dumitru Motpan accused the 11 deputies who left the party to join President
Mircea Snegur's Party of Revival and Conciliation of taking part in an "action
planned in advance [and] synchronized with the initiative to change the name of
the state language" and to increase the president's constitutional powers. He
said the PDAM rejects the proposal to set up a presidential regime with a
bicameral parliament, accusing Snegur of wishing to dissolve the present
one-chamber legislature. -- Michael Shafir
ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT JUDGE REJECTS ACCUSATIONS.
Zef Brozi has rejected
accusations that he worked for the communist-era secret service, saying he was
never asked to do so. He has asked the Prosecutor's Office to open
investigations into journalists for the ruling Democratic Party's newspaper
Rilindja Demokratike, which first published the accusations against him.
Brozi also claims his office and private telephone have been tapped. In other
news, Brozi said Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano's appeal to be released from
prison will be reviewed in September. The review was delayed after the court
said it needed more time to study the accusations against Nano, who was found
guilty of the misappropriation of Italian aid funds, Gazeta Shqiptare
reported on 2 September. -- Fabian Schmidt
GREECE, MACEDONIA TO START TALKS.
Greece and Macedonia agreed to hold
direct talks aimed at improving bilateral relations, international agencies
reported on 4 September. Dimitris Karaitidis, adviser to the Greek prime
minister, said Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Macedonian
counterpart, Stevo Crvenkovski, will meet in New York next week for UN-brokered
talks. The agreement was confirmed by the U.S. State Department. The
announcement came a few hours after talks between U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State Richard Holbrooke and Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. U.S.
President Bill Clinton called the step a "courageous and visionary decision"
and a "major step toward peace and stability in the region." -- Stefan Krause
GREEK-ALBANIAN TALKS FAIL.
Talks between Karolos Papoulias and his
Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi, failed to produce any results, Reuters
reported on 1 September. According to Greek officials, Serreqi left the meeting
after 15 minutes, angered by Greek demands to open schools for Albania's ethnic
Greek minority. He also failed to attend a scheduled news conference. Greece
has demanded three independent Greek schools in southern Albania in return for
granting legal seasonal employment to some of the 300,000 or so Albanians
illegally living and working in Greece. The agreement was to be signed during
Serreqi's visit, but the Greek side wanted "signs of goodwill" from the
Albanian foreign minister. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Jan Cleave