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Newsline - September 13, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 178, 13 September 1995
GROMOV, SHATALIN DESERT RYBKIN BLOC.
The My Fatherland movement issued a statement on 12 September announcing its withdrawal from State Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin's bloc. Col. Gen. Boris Gromov and economist Stanislav Shatalin were among the prominent members of the bloc who signed the document. They decided to cut their ties with Rybkin because of his "political sluggishness and indecision, his tendency to remain aloof from major events, and his unwillingness to consider himself a member of the constructive opposition to the executive," Russian TV reported. My Fatherland will now campaign as an independent party. These defections are the latest in a series of setbacks for Rybkin as he tries to establish the bloc at the president's bidding. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

BLOC "89" CEMENTS SPLIT WITHIN RUSSIA'S CHOICE MOVEMENT.
The creation of the new electoral bloc "89," named for the number of regions in the Russian Federation, cements the split within Russia's Choice, the leading pro-reform movement in the 1993 parliamentary elections, Segodnya reported on 12 September. The schism has been brewing since Yegor Gaidar, leader of the parliamentary delegation Russia's Choice, founded the party Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) in June 1994. The Russia's Choice movement formed "89" at a 9 September congress, to which Duma deputies from the Russia's Choice faction, most of whom now support Gaidar's party, were not invited. Only two of the five original co-chairmen of Russia's Choice--Pavel Medvedev and Viktor Davydov--joined "89." Gaidar's party has already decided to compete in this year's parliamentary elections as part of the United Democrats bloc. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

ILYUKHIN ACCUSES SHUMEIKO, SOSKOVETS OF CORRUPTION.
Denouncing corruption "in the top echelons of power," Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin accused Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko of conducting shady business deals, Ekho Moskvy reported on 12 September. According to Ilyukhin, Valentina Soloveva, who is being prosecuted for the activities of her now-defunct Vlastelina company, implicated Shumeiko in profiteering operations and said Vlastelina issued a 200 billion ruble ($1.8 million) loan to Soskovets in 1993. The Federation Council press service dismissed Ilyukhin's charges as campaign mudslinging, Russian TV reported. Ilyukhin is a leading member of Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

PRIMORSK KRAI DUMA CALLS FOR GOVERNOR'S ELECTIONS.
The Primorsk Krai Duma has asked President Boris Yeltsin to authorize elections on 17 December to the governorship of the krai, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. The Primorsk Duma told the president it had just adopted necessary legislation for the elections, which would help "stabilize the socio-economic situation" in the krai. Yeltsin appointed Yevgenii Nazdratenko Primorsk governor in May 1993, and Nazdratenko was subsequently elected to the Federation Council. The Primorsk governor tried to hold gubernatorial elections in October 1994, but these were canceled by a decree issued by President Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIYA SELECTS NEW PRIME MINISTER.
Vladimir Khubiev, head of the administration of Karachaevo-Cherkessiya, named Anatolii Ozov the republic's first prime minister, with the approval of the People's Assembly, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 September. Khubiev had held both posts since January 1993. However, a law recently adopted in the republic stipulated that it was unacceptable for one person to serve in both positions. The republic's first professional parliament was elected on 10 June, after several years' wrangling over the structure of the republic's legislature. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA ACCUSES NATO OF GENOCIDE.
In a rhetorical blast reminiscent of the cold war, a Russian government statement said the "unilateral" NATO airstrikes in Bosnia had caused significant civilian casualties and threatened the Bosnian Serbs with "genocide," Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 September. NATO officials have repeatedly denied Bosnian Serb claims that civilians have been bombed, and Bosnian Serb authorities have refused to allow UN observers into areas where they claim civilians were killed. In a further signal of Russian frustration, Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin expressed "great regret and concern" that a memorandum, which Russia claims was agreed between the UN and NATO last month, was not discussed with Moscow. According to ITAR-TASS, the memo allowed NATO to launch sweeping air attacks against the Bosnian Serbs. Meanwhile, at the UN, a Russian draft resolution calling for a halt to the airstrikes failed in the Security Council, meeting opposition from 10 of its 15 members. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

IZVESTIYA CRITICIZES RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES.
In a front-page article on 13 September, Izvestiya criticized the Russian intelligence community for an amateurish attempt to convince the Russian public that the mortar attack on a Sarajevo marketplace which precipitated the current NATO airstrikes was a provocation. An earlier report by ITAR-TASS had cited an "anonymous source" from a Russian intelligence agency who claimed the mortar attack had not been launched by the Bosnian Serbs, as the UN had concluded, but was the result of a
Western intelligence operation, code-named "Cyclone," designed to provide NATO with a pretext to launch a massive air offensive. Izvestiya said its own investigation had failed to uncover any information supporting this report and that when queried, even the main Russian intelligence agencies now denied responsibility for the implausible story. The paper concluded that someone in the government had floated the rumor in an unsuccessful attempt to manipulate public opinion and justify Russia's opposition to the NATO airstrikes. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA REITERATES OPPOSITION TO BALTIC STATES JOINING NATO.
Speaking at the Fourth Parliamentary Conference of the Nordic Council on Cooperation in the Baltic Region, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov declared that the eastward expansion of NATO "contradicted Russian national interests," Russian and Western agencies reported. Mocking his Baltic counterparts, Krylov asked, "Everybody in Europe says they have no enemies anymore, so why is it important to expand NATO? Just who is the enemy?" Krylov added that if NATO expanded eastward to the borders of Russia by admitting the Baltic states, Russia would be forced to respond with economic, political, and even military measures, although he ruled out direct military intervention in the Baltics as a possible response. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

LAX OFFICIALS BLAMED FOR MINE BLAST.
Investigators looking into the 4 September explosion at the Pervomaiskii coal mine in the Kuzbass concluded that it was caused by gross safety violations and sacked 5 of the mine's officials, including its director. The explosion of methane and coal dust caused a cage bringing workers down to the bottom of the pit to collapse, resulting in 15 deaths. According to Russian and Western agencies, the investigators said that the unexpected release of methane was caused by poorly made equipment and that miners should have been ordered to leave the danger area sooner. Meanwhile, miners in Sakhalin have stopped coal deliveries to consumers in protest against wage arrears, and their colleagues in Primorsk Krai are preparing to strike, also on account of delayed wage payments. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL BANK TO RELEASE DATABASE INFORMATION ON BANKS.
Russia's Central Bank, in efforts to broaden the country's securities market, will release its financial information database to the public, Russian TV reported on 12 September. Central Bank Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov said that the database, which goes back two years, includes key financial and business data, including balance sheets of about 1,000 banks. Kozlov said that any bank issuing securities is required to file information with the Central Bank, which has set up a national computer network to collate it. The banker noted that the Central Bank does not verify all the data, so it cannot guarantee the soundness of the information. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRADING AND FINANCIAL GIANTS MERGE.
One of Russia's largest trading companies, AO Mikrodin, and FPG Interros, a top financial and industrial group, have agreed to merge to form one of the country's largest industrial conglomerates, Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 September. AO Mikrodin has huge stakes in several industrial companies, including truck maker AMO Zil. FPG Interros, an umbrella holding organization created by presidential decree last year, has a stake in Oneximbank, Russia's fourth largest commercial bank, and RAO Norilsk Nikel, the country's largest nickel smelter. Mikrodin President Dmitrii Zelenin will serve as general director of the new venture, with Oneximbank President Vladimir Potanin as chairman of the board. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 178, 13 September 1995
ABKHAZ DEPUTY PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN MURDERED.
The eminent historian and deputy chairman of the Abkhaz parliament, Yurii Voronov, was stabbed and then shot in Sukhumi on 11 September, Ekho Moskvy reported on 12 September. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba said that the murder was "a political act by a hired assassin," who has been apprehended and is under interrogation. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

NAZARBAEV REVIEWS ARMED FORCES, PROMISES PROTECTION.
In an interview with TV Kazakhstan on 9 September, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev promised to take steps to improve the situation in the armed forces. Reports of discontent over pay and the diminishing morale in the armed forces have surfaced in recent months (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 September). Nazarbaev promised a special presidential decree within a month, which will provide for a "wide-scale program of social protection." Nazarbaev said that Kazakhstani officers with training in the "highest military academies" in the Russian Federation will join the country's armed forces next year but promised that Kazakhstan will set up its own military academy. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

NAZARBAEV CALLS FOR GREATER SINO-KAZAKHSTANI COOPERATION.
On the second day of his visit to China, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev urged Chinese business people to invest in Kazakhstan, saying the country's new constitution offers greater security to foreign investors, Xinhua news agency reported on 12 September. Nazarbaev assured China that Kazakhstan adheres to a "one-China" policy and that it will not develop official relations of any sort with Taiwan. Chinese President Jiang Zemin expressed appreciation for Kazakhstan's support on that issue, as well as its support on the Tibet question. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE REFERENDUM.
The Kyrgyz parliament is to convene before the end of September to discuss holding a referendum on extending the mandate of President Askar Akaev until 2001, Interfax reported on 11 September. A spokesman for the Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission reported that over a million signatures--amounting to 50% of the total electorate--have been collected in support of a referendum. The standing chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament, the Legislative Assembly, proposed an amendment to ban a referendum on extending the presidential mandate, Interfax reported on 22 August. Presidential elections are scheduled for autumn 1996. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

DISPUTE OVER VENUE FOR NEXT ROUND OF TAJIK TALKS.
According to an RFE/RL correspondent's report, the governments of Tajikistan, Russia, and Turkmenistan plan to hold the next set of negotiations between the Tajik government and the opposition, scheduled to begin on 18 September, in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat. The opposition has been against holding talks in Ashgabat, preferring Tehran instead. According to Interfax, one opposition representative, Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda, said that Turkmenistan's poor record on human rights makes it inappropriate for peace talks. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

UZBEKISTAN JOINS THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK.
Uzbekistan has taken another step toward integration into the Asian community. According to ITAR-TASS on 12 September, Uzbekistan has officially become a member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Representatives of the organization will visit the country to determine the extent and type of aid needed for Uzbekistan's economy. An ADB official stated that the main effort of the bank will be aimed at assisting in the transition to a market economy. -- Roger Kangas, OMRI, Inc.

CIS


FEW CIS STATES WILL MEET CFE DEADLINE.
Economic, technological, and political problems will prevent most CIS states from fulfilling the terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty when it comes into force on 17 November, representatives of various CIS countries said on 12 September. The statements were made by officials from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan while meeting to discuss disarmament at the CIS headquarters in Minsk, Interfax reported. The Ukrainian representative cited problems in resolving the dispute over the division of the Black Sea Fleet, although the CFE does not cover naval weapons. The official from Belarus said President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decision to halt the destruction of weapons in February prevented compliance, but he added that Belarus would resume destruction soon. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 178, 13 September 1995
UKRAINIAN PREMIER ON BANNED RADICAL NATIONALIST GROUP.
Yevhen Marchuk told journalists during a tour of the Cherkasy region that the Justice Ministry's recent decision to revoke the legal registration of the Ukrainian National Assembly does not outlaw its activities, UNIAN reported 9 on September. He said that if the radical nationalist group, which has two deputies in the parliament, changes its tactics, it can re-apply for formal registration. The group has been accused of sending armed mercenaries and other forms of support to aid anti-Russian separatists in such hotspots as Chechnya and Transdniester. Meanwhile, Ukrainian TV reported on 11 September that monthly inflation fell from 5.2% in July to 4.6% in August, despite last month's devaluation of the karbovanets. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

RABIN, SOBCHAK IN UKRAINE.
Ukrainian Radio on 12 September reported that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Kiev on a official visit, met with Premier Yevhen Marchuk and Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov. He also met with Minister of the Military-Industrial-Complex Valerii Malyev to discuss cooperation in the military and technical spheres. Agreements were signed on liberalizing trade between the two countries, the abolition of visas for those holding diplomatic passports, and cooperation in the medical field. Rabin is scheduled to meet with President Leonid Kuchma, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz, and representatives of the Jewish community. Also on 12 September, Kuchma met with St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak in Kiev. Sobchak signed an agreement on cooperation between St. Petersburg and Ukraine with Premier Marchuk and invited President Leonid Kuchma to visit his city during the festival "Ukrainian Days." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO REVIEW PRESIDENTIAL DECREES.
ITAR-TASS and Belarusian TV on 12 September reported that parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb has asked the Constitutional Court to review the legality of some of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decrees. The decrees considered questionable are those on issuing diplomatic and service passports, regulating state privileges to some categories of citizens, and on regulating wages and pensions for senior citizens. The Court has agreed to review all three decrees. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH POLITICIANS ON FOREIGN POLICY.
Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, referring to Russian President Boris Yeltsin recent statements on NATO expansion, on 12 September said that Poland's position on the matter remains unchanged. He said expansion should be a gradual process linked to improving cooperation between NATO and those countries that will remain outside the alliance, including Russia. Bartoszewski noted that "perceiving NATO--in a Cold War perspective--as a military alliance directed against any one is not only mistaken but must arouse concern," Polish Media reported on 13 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

GORBACHEV DEFENDS JARUZELSKI'S MARTIAL LAW AS "LESSER EVIL."
Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has declined an invitation to testify before the Sejm's Commission for Constitutional Accountability, which is considering bringing General Wojciech Jaruzelski and other authors of 1980 martial law in Poland before the State Tribunal. Gorbachev said in a letter to the commission that Jaruzelski had sought "to exclude any possibility of intervention of the Warsaw Pact armies in Poland's internal problems." Freedom Union deputy Bogdan Borusewicz commented that the letter was a piece of propaganda, Polish dailies reported on 13 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH PRIVATIZATION CHIEF GOES ON TRIAL.
Jaroslav Lizner, former head of the Center for Coupon Privatization, went on trial at a Prague court on 12 September on bribery charges. Lizner was arrested last October after a meeting in a Prague restaurant with businessmen interested in buying shares in a dairy. He was carrying in a case more than 8.3 million koruny ($320,000), which the prosecution alleges was a bribe to facilitate the share deal. Lizner claims he accepted the money as a deposit for buying the shares in his role as mediator and that he intended to hand it over to the sellers later. Lizner is the highest Czech state functionary to go on trial for corruption since the end of communist rule. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH DEPUTIES CHANGE PARTIES.
Five breakaway deputies of the Christian Democratic Party (KDS) on 12 September joined the parliamentary caucus of another member of the governing coalition, the Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party (KDU-CSL), Czech media reported. The five, who constituted half of the KDS's parliamentary representation, split from the party leadership over plans to merge the KDS with the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. One of the group, Pavel Tollner, said the naming of KDS chief Ivan Pilip and Environment Minister Frantisek Benda among the ODS's election campaign leaders last weekend was the "last straw" prompting the move. The change makes the KDU-CSL the third-strongest party in the parliament. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES CONTROVERSIAL AMENDMENT.
The parliament on 12 September approved an amendment to the law on civil service--the alternative to required military service. Anyone doing civil service is now required to do "physical labor in accordance with his physical ability and state of health" for a period of two years, Sme reported. A number of youth organizations have protested the amendment. But Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota told Slovenska Republika on 13 September that "it is certainly very positive for our society that this amendment was passed." He said that recently, increasingly more young people have "rejected discipline," which is exactly what they need. "Military service would not only teach them a bit of humility and discipline but also respect for their elders, nation, and homeland," Slota said. The parliament again rejected a proposal that the parliamentary organ overseeing the Slovak Information Service be expanded to include opposition deputies, Narodna obroda reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK FOREIGN CURRENCY RESERVES CONTINUE TO GROW.
Foreign currency reserves at the National Bank of Slovakia reached $2.6 billion by 30 June--more than three times the level of estimated average monthly imports to Slovakia, TASR reported on 12 September. The increase in reserves was partly influenced by payments from the Czech Republic for exceeding the 130 million ecu limit in the bilateral clearing account. In other news, the cabinet on 12 September approved a report on the state budget as of 31 July. At that time, the budget deficit stood at 1.45 billion koruny ($46.8 million), which is only a fraction of the 21 billion koruny deficit planned for year-end in the state budget law. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARIAN PARTY LEADERS ON ECONOMIC POLICY.
Gyula Horn, Hungarian premier and head of the Hungarian Socialist Party, and Ivan Peto, leader of its coalition partner, the Alliance of Free Democrats, said in a recent Hungarian TV interview that the reason for the current austerity measures is to improve the country's economy rather than to take popular steps, Hungarian papers reported. Horn hoped that 1996 will be the last year of austerity measures and that by 1997, signs of economic improvement will be evident. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARIAN ROMANI POLITICIAN BLACKMAILED.
Armed men trapped and blackmailed the President of the Hungarian National Gypsy Minority Self-Government, Florian Farkas, in a Szolnok hotel on 8 September, MTI reported on 12 September. Police investigators say no political motive has been revealed so far but cannot be ruled out. The armed men held Farkas hostage until they made him give them 35,000 forint and promise to pay another 4 million later. Farkas is also on the editorial board of Lungo Drom, a newspaper for Roma in Hungary. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 178, 13 September 1995
NATO PLANES HIT SERBS AGAIN.
Clear skies on 12 September enabled NATO aircraft to resume their attacks on Bosnian Serb military targets. Nasa Borba on 13 September said the munitions complex at Vogosca near Sarajevo was especially hard hit. In Tito's Yugoslavia, much of the defense industry was centered in Bosnia-Herzegovina and was subsequently taken by the Serbs. NATO therefore has a wealth of targets, including the air defense system, which was based in Banja Luka as a key component of Tito-era strategy. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

HOW FAR WILL NATO GO?
NATO officials denied comments by the Bosnian foreign minister to the effect that the alliance's aircraft are ready to hit Bosnian Serb troops, Nasa Borba said on 13 September. The International Herald Tribune quoted a UN officer as saying that "if we hit individual fighting units, we become a warring faction." Meanwhile, Italy has threatened not to allow U.S. Stealth bombers to be based on its soil until Rome is given a full-fledged role in the peace process. It had only observer status at the 8 September Geneva talks but wants a larger role as a regional power. AFP on 12 September said that U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke told Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli that Italy should be content to stay quiet and sit behind EU mediator Carl Bildt. Agnelli replied that "as long as I am foreign minister no Italian will sit behind anyone." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

PESSIMISM ON BOSNIA, OPTIMISM ON SLAVONIA.
Holbrooke on 12 September appeared to dampen expectations that the vague declaration signed in Geneva could quickly lead to a concrete settlement. AFP quoted him as saying a particular problem is "the way the parties avoid committing themselves to individual parts of the agreement. They can all at any time renege on anything they've agreed to." He also noted the presence of "almost completely incompatible positions." Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said he was optimistic that a peaceful solution could be found in eastern Slavonia, Serbia's richest and only remaining conquest in Croatia. Christopher urged Croatia to show "flexibility and statesmanship," Reuters reported. AFP quoted UN mediator Yasushi Akashi as saying that "very intensive, quiet diplomacy is going on." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

DONJI VAKUF FALLS TO ALLIED FORCES.
Akashi also confirmed that Croatian, Bosnian Croat, and Bosnian government troops took Donji Vakuf from the Serbs. Croatian Television on 12 September said that Bosnian Croat troops pushing east from Drvar took the strategic mountain pass of Mliniste and the key peaks of Demirovac and Vitorog. Meanwhile, Bosnian government troops continue to advance in the central Mt. Ozren area. AFP on 13 September reported that President Alija Izetbegovic congratulated his men in the newly taken town of Vozuca, telling them: "you have broken the backbone of the Chetnik [Serb] enemy. You show the way . . . how we could continue with the aim of liberating our country." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.


SERBIAN RENEWAL MOVEMENT CRITICIZES BOSNIAN SERBS.
BETA on 13 September reported that the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has sharply criticized the Bosnian Serb authorities. According to SPO spokesman Ivan Kovacevic at a press conference in Belgrade, the Bosnian Serb leaders of the Republic of Srpska are alone responsible for "carrying out the war against NATO and against the whole world." Kovacevic singled out Bosnian Serbian military leader Ratko Mladic for criticism because of Mladic's willful refusal to remove heavy weapons from around Sarajevo. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION.
The Chamber of Deputies on 12 September rejected an opposition motion accusing Nicolae Vacaroiu's government of mishandling the bumper 1995 wheat crop, Romanian and international agencies reported. The debate was carried live by Radio Bucharest. The motion, launched by the Democratic Convention of Romania and the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front, was defeated by a vote of 155 to 116. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIA AND NATO.
North Atlantic Assembly chairman Karsten Voigt, at an improvised press conference in Bucharest, responded to a question about Romania's chances of admission to NATO by saying "in the Warsaw Pact it was easy to get in, but difficult to get out. It's the other way around with NATO." He noted that the main purpose of his visit was to discuss with Romanian officials about Romania's future in Euro-Atlantic structures for a report under preparation. He said Romania's chances depended to a great extent on its progress on reform. Asked whether Budapest and Bucharest could be admitted into NATO at the same time, Voigt diplomatically said "If they develop in similar manner and fulfill the same conditions, then this is possible." Meanwhile, AFP, citing the daily Cronica romana, reported on 12 September that a group of Romanian farmers who were apparently unaware that a NATO military exercise was taking place near the Transylvanian town of Sibiu (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1995) grabbed pitchforks and axes to rush to the rescue of Romanian troops. Officers reasssured the farmers and the exercise was able to continue. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ENDS MOLDOVA VISIT.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 12 September ended a two-day visit to Chisinau, signing agreements aimed at improving ties between the two states, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. At a joint press conference, Lukashenka and President Mircea Snegur pledged to lift barriers to bilateral trade that resulted from Belarus's exclusive tariff agreement with Russia. Snegur said Moldovan food exports to Belarus markets are still facing problems because of that agreement. According to a protocol signed during the visit, problems arising from the non-implementation of agreements between Moldova and Belarus will be solved by 1 December, Infotag reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

COURT RULES AGAINST MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT IN CHURCH DISPUTE.
A Chisinau court on 12 September ruled that the Moldovan government must legally register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Seat, which is subordinated to Bucharest. Radio Bucharest said the government can appeal to the Supreme Court within 10 days. The government has refused to register the seat for three years (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 August 1995). The Moldovan Orthodox Church, to which most Orthodox believers in the country belong, is subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES AGAINST GOVERNMENT.
The Constitutional Court on 12 September ruled that the government "cannot dispose of state-owned real estate where the president, the parliament, and the judicial authorities are accommodated" without the consent of those institutions, Bulgarian media reported the same day. The decision was in response to the government's attempt to evict the Constitutional Court from the government building where it is housed (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 August 1995). The Constitutional Court contested the case before the Supreme Court, which has yet to make a ruling but is likely to support the Constitutional Court on the issue. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WANTS PREMIER TO RESIGN.
The parliamentary faction of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 12 September decided to ask for a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Zhan Videnov in connection with the death of 14 soldiers on 11 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1995), Demokratsiya reported the following day. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov said the vote forces all parliamentary deputies to make a "dramatic moral-political choice." 24 chasa and Standart reported that the vote will be requested when Videnov is in Moscow next week. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH CLINTON.
Sali Berisha and U.S. President Bill Clinton on 12 September discussed Albania's economic and political development as well as the Balkan conflict, AFP reported the same day. Berisha said the NATO air attacks on Bosnian Serbs are the "right way to contribute to peace and stability." With regard to the Kosovo crisis, he told journalists that Clinton assured him "that the United States will fully support the restoration of human and national rights of Albanians in Kosovo." Clinton praised Berisha for the country's economic and democratic reforms and urged him to make more progress on Greek-minority rights. He also offered to help establish a training program for judges, prosecutors, and police and to equip and outfit the Albanian peacekeeping contingent under the NATO Partnership for Peace program. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIA PROTESTS SERBS' USE OF KOSOVO MEMORIAL CENTER FOR REFUGEES.
The Albanian government strongly protested the settling of Krajina Serb refugees into the facilities of the 1878 Pristina League Memorial Center, Montena-fax reported on 12 September. The Albanian statement called the Serbian authorities' move a "heavy provocation by the Serbian occupying forces" and "an open attack on a symbol of the Albanian people's resistance and their culture." The memorial is under UNESCO protection. The International PEN center also protested the move. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS FAIL TO GET OFF THE GROUND.
Direct talks scheduled for 12 September between the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Karolos Papoulias and Stevo Crvenkovski, were postponed several times and finally did not take place, AFP reported the same day. An unnamed UN diplomat said the two spent the day "niggling over the tiniest things" in meetings with UN mediator Cyrus Vance. The main sticking point seems to be the timing of the lifting of the Greek embargo. Macedonia wants the embargo lifted as soon as the accord is signed and will then change its flag and constitution within 30 days. Greece insists that those changes take place simultaneously with the lifting of the embargo. Papoulias and Crvenkovski decided to put off a face-to-face meeting until their differences are resolved. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave




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