OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 186, 25 September
SHAKHRAI CONDEMNS PARTY-LIST ELECTORAL SYSTEM.
Appearing at the second
congress of his Party of Russian Unity and Concord (PRES), Deputy Prime
Minister Sergei Shakhrai said the party's first goal will be to dissolve the
next Duma and annul what he called the "Yabloko-Communist" electoral law under
which its members are to be chosen, Russian Public TV reported on 22 September.
Under the law on parliamentary elections, the next Duma will be composed of 225
deputies elected from single-member constituencies and 225 chosen from party
lists of groups that win at least 5% of the vote nationwide. Segodnya
reported the next day that Shakhrai believes only a few "agrarian-communist or
radical nationalist" parties will clear the 5% barrier, and those parties would
then be allocated all 225 party-list seats. Shakhrai told Ekho Moskvy that most
PRES candidates will compete in single-member constituencies. In 1993, PRES
barely received the 5% of votes necessary to win Duma representation from party
lists. The PRES congress formally approved the decision to leave Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
ROSSEL'S "TRANSFORMATION" BLOC GAINS STRENGTH.
The electoral bloc
Transformation of the Fatherland (Preobrazhenie otechestva) held its founding
congress in Yekaterinburg, Russian media reported on 23 September. According to
NTV, the movement's founder, Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel, will top
the Transformation party list. The bloc will lobby for the interests of
regions, including changes in tax policy and a stronger system of local
self-government, Ekho Moskvy reported. Transformation has branches in 52 of
Russia's 89 federation subjects and plans to nominate candidates in 81 regions.
Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko's decision to appear at the
congress reflects the movement's growing importance. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
YELTSIN RETURNS LAWS TO DUMA.
President Boris Yeltsin has sent back 10
draft laws to the Duma without reading them, ITAR-TASS reported on 22
September. They include the bill on combating organized crime and the new
criminal code, passed by the Duma in July. In a letter to Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin, Yeltsin said that the original drafts are with the Federation Council,
which has not yet considered them, and that he is not authorized to sign
copies. Under the constitution, the Federation Council is supposed to forward
bills passed by the Duma to the president within 14 days even if it does not
reject or approve them. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
"OCTOBER REVOLUTION" AT RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION . . .
In what the 23
September Kommersant-Daily described as an "October Revolution at
Channel 1," Russia's largest network Russian Public TV (ORT) substantially
revised its programming schedule, to take effect on 1 October. The most
controversial change was the decision to drop Sergei Dorenko's news magazine
"Versii" (Versions), ostensibly for financial reasons. However, Irena
Lesnitskaya, director of the television company that produces "Versii," called
the decision "pure politics" since producers offered the show to ORT
practically for free, Ekho Moskvy reported on 22 September. According to
Dorenko, ORT executives disliked his political independence. In recent months,
Dorenko aired fragments of an interview with Chechen fighter Shamil Basaev,
speculated on the health of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and
investigated acting Procurator-General Aleksei Ilyushenko. The independent
network NTV agreed to broadcast "Versii," beginning on 2 October. Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn's weekly talk show was also dropped from the new ORT schedule, AFP
reported on 24 September. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AS THE NETWORK IS REPRIMANDED FOR COVERAGE OF DUMA BRAWL.
President's Chamber on Information Disputes reprimanded Russian Public TV (ORT)
for "incomplete and inaccurate" reporting of the 9 September brawl in the State
Duma, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 September. The brawl started when right-wing
National-Republican Party leader Nikolai Lysenko attacked Gleb Yakunin, a
pro-reform deputy. Duma deputy Vladimir Lysenko, chairman of the centrist
Republican Party, brought the complaint because Channel 1 news reported only
that "deputy Lysenko" started the fistfight. He charged that the network's
failure to specify which Lysenko was involved had damaged his own reputation.
The chamber ordered ORT to inform viewers explicitly that Nikolai Lysenko
instigated the brawl; and recommended that television companies show
photographs of political figures with common surnames to avoid confusion. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
NEW PRESIDENT SELECTED IN MORDOVIYA.
The Constitutional Assembly in
Mordoviya chose State Assembly Chairman Nikolai Merkushkin to be the republic's
president until elections for the post are held, NTV reported on 22 September.
Merkushkin was head of the Mordoviya Property Fund until his selection as chair
of Mordoviya's legislature in February 1995. He was the only candidate
considered for the post of President, which was created anew in the draft
constitution adopted on 20 September. Vasilii Guslyanikov, a supporter of
Democratic Russia, had been elected president in December 1991, but the
conservative legislature abolished his position in April 1993. -- Laura Belin,
Russian-Chechen talks on the implementation of a July
disarmament agreement resumed in Grozny on 22 September, Russian media
reported. Also on 22 September, President Yeltsin issued an appeal to the
people of Chechnya reaffirming Russia's commitment to finding a peaceful
resolution to the crisis. Representatives of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev
boycotted a round table discussion on 23 September, at which various Chechen
political groupings unveiled their election programs. The head of the
pro-Moscow Chechen provisional government, Salambek Khadzhiev, acknowledged
that Dudaev enjoys substantial support among the Chechen population;
participants then invited Dudaev representatives to attend the next round table
meeting on 30 September, Interfax reported on 24 September. -- Liz Fuller,
BUDENNOVSK POLICE WANT NEW INQUIRY INTO HOSTAGE CRISIS.
Budennovsk have sent an open letter to Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov
complaining that they have been made the scapegoats for the June hostage crisis
and calling for a new investigation into the events surrounding the tragedy.
According to ITAR-TASS on 23 September, the letter notes that 18 local police
officers were killed in the fighting with Shamil Basaev's forces and that the
performance of the local police was praised by senior ministry officials at the
time. The police consider it unjust that the Budennovsk police chief was fired,
while "the irresponsible officials who let the gang [out of Chechnya] continue
to serve in six interior departments in Dagestan and two departments in
Stavropol Krai." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV, YELTSIN DISCUSS FOREIGN POLICY.
Before departing for the 50th
session of the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev discussed
Russia's foreign policy strategy with President Yeltsin, Russian agencies
reported on 24 September. Kozyrev was directed to "raise the level of
professionalism" at the Foreign Ministry and more effectively implement
Presidential foreign policy directives. Kozyrev, recently under heavy
criticism, complained in a 22 September speech that his ministry's
effectiveness has been undermined by its fiscal problems, with "monstrous"
salaries causing many diplomats to leave for the private sector. He quipped
that at the current rate, "soon there will be no one left to criticize" at the
ministry. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN MEETS CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qian
Qichen met with President Yeltsin in Sochi on 22 September, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Quichen said he and Yeltsin "expressed similar opinions" on
every issue they discussed. At a joint news conference, Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev said during Yeltsin's upcoming visit to China a major political accord
would be signed but denied that China and Russia planned to form a new
political-military bloc. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN-U.S. EXERCISE PREPARATIONS SUSPENDED.
Russia has suspended "for
an indefinite period" preparations for a joint peacekeeping exercise with the
U.S. scheduled to be held in Kansas next month, Interfax reported on 22
September. Russia had previously balked at the exercise because of the renewed
NATO bombing of the Bosnian Serbs. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT BANS SHUT DOWN OF POWER TO MILITARY.
Stung by a recent rash
of embarrassing and dangerous incidents where local power authorities cut off
power to several military facilities, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 23
September signed a resolution banning such arbitrary steps, ITAR-TASS reported.
The government called such actions "irresponsible and detrimental to national
security." The military is heavily in debt to the power supplies and the latest
order rescinded a previous regulation that allowed the energy companies to cut
off power to military bases and defense plants after their accounts were 30
days in arrears. On 22 September, the agency also revealed that the Northern
Fleet had sent armed soldiers to force the engineer on duty at a Kola power
plant to restore power to a Russian submarine base, thus averting a potential
nuclear disaster. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
TENSION BUILDING IN KUZBASS.
A wildcat strike broke out at the Usinsk
pit in Mezhdurechensk in the Kuzbass on 21 September, Interfax reported.
Aleksandr Sergeev, chairman of the Independent Miners' Union, said the miners
are demanding their wages which have not been paid since June, and that other
pits in the town and in Prokopevsk are ready to join the protest. Sergeev noted
that in 1989, the Russian miners' strike began in Mezhdurechensk. The
Mezhdurechensk city strike committee has declared an official strike from 12
October to protest wage arrears. Meanwhile, coal workers in Amur and
Krasnoyarsk oblasts announced their intention to stop coal deliveries to
Primorsk Krai in a gesture of solidarity with miners in that region, who are
threatening to strike. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT RULES OUT SHORT-TERM FOREIGN LOANS.
When seeking to attract
foreign funds under government guarantees, the Russian government will rule out
short-term foreign loans and opt for medium-term loans, Segodnya
reported on 23 September. According to Mikhail Kasyanov, head of the Finance
Ministry's foreign credit and foreign debt department, Russia will look for
loans with a minimum term of eight years order to avoid overburdening Russia's
debt repayment schedule. Kasyanov said that the government set a limit of $9.6
billion in foreign loans for 1996. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
FRADKOV SUGGESTS HIGHER FOOD IMPORT TARIFFS.
Russia needs to raise
import tariffs on agricultural products in order to protect domestic producers,
First Deputy Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Mikhail Fradkov said in a
government meeting on 22 September, Interfax reported. Fradkov said that
despite the 1 July hike in food import duties, Russia's average tariff, at 16%,
is lower than the 21% average tariff of European Union countries. Earlier this
year, Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov criticized the
government's decision to raise food import duties, arguing that such a move
would push up food prices and complicate negotiations on Russia joining the
World Trade Organization. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
ZAVERYUKHA OPPOSES SALE OF FARMLAND.
Russia should refrain from selling
land plots in rural regions, Aleksandr Zaveryukha, the deputy prime minister
responsible for agriculture, said on 22 September, Interfax reported. Speaking
in Gorodishche while on a tour of the Volgograd Oblast, the minister said
long-term land leasing is the most acceptable form of rural land ownership.
Zaveryukha, who appears to disagree with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
who on 14 September called for a referendum on the Land Code to speed private
land ownership. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 186, 25 September
AKAEV CALLS FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER.
In a speech to
parliament on 21 September, Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev called for
presidential elections to be held in December of this year, according to
Western sources and Interfax. Akaev's move comes after the 35-member
legislative assembly voted against holding a referendum that would have
extended his term in office until the year 2001. Those opposed to the move
point out that it leaves only two and a half months to gather the necessary
50,000 signatures to register and run a campaign. Twenty-three members of the
legislative assembly voted in favor of holding the election. Akaev was elected
to a five-year term in an uncontested vote in October 1991. However, in a 23
September interview on Radio Mayak, Akaev justified holding an election this
year by referring to the fact that he was originally elected by the Supreme
Soviet in 1990. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN, AND TAJIKISTAN READY TO JOIN CUSTOMS UNION.
meeting of the presidium of the CIS Interstate Economic Committee, Kyrgyz,
Uzbek, and Tajik officials expressed their desire to join the customs union
that comprises Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, Interfax reported on 22
September. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, chairman of the CIS
presidium, told Interfax that other CIS members may join the customs union
soon. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev recently told visiting
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma that the customs union will not deter
Kazakhstan from expanding trade with other CIS countries that have not joined
it (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 September 1995). -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 186, 25 September
NIGHT REPAIRS OR BURGLARY IN THE POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN?
Supporters of former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski said that his campaign
office in an annex to the Warsaw Sobanski Palace was burgled during the night
from 22 to 23 September and documents were stolen, including signatures
supporting Olszewski's presidential candidacy. Strong competition is going on
to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to register a candidate and Olszewski
has not yet been registered. According to former Deputy Minister of Defense
Romuald Szeremitiew, repairs to the annex started on Friday at night and
Olszewski's belongings were removed and sealed, but no documents were there.
Szeremitiew leads a split party once led by Olszewski; his offices were located
in the main building of the Sobanski Palace, which Szeremitiew recently gave
to current President Lech Walesa for his electoral campaign. Jacek Trznadel,
the chief of Olszewski's campaign, demanded "explanations from candidate
Walesa," Polish dailies reported on 25 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI,
OSCE CONFERENCE ON DEPORTED PEOPLES IN YALTA.
A three-day OSCE
conference on the repatriation and accommodation of deported people concluded
in Yalta on 22 September, RFE/RL reported. OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Max van der Stoel noted that about 250,000 deported Crimean Tatars
had returned to the Crimea and about the same number hoped to do so in the
future. Unfortunately, neither Ukraine nor Crimea have the necessary funds to
pay for the absorption of the new immigrants. He said that he would seek
financial help from Western governments for the returnees. The spirit of
cooperation and understanding with which Ukrainian and Crimean officials were
addressing the Crimean Tatar issue were an indication that a Yugoslav-type
ethnic conflict on the peninsula was unlikely, van der Stoel added. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUS, UKRAINE PRESIDENTS MEET.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka held talks with
Leonid Kuchma in Kiev on 24 September, ITAR-TASS reported. They agreed that
Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia did not need to strengthen their ties by creating
new structures and that cooperation should be boosted by restoring the economic
contacts that had existed in the Soviet period. They also noted that the
implementation of a free-trade agreement between their countries was limited by
the customs union of Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan, but would work together
to overcome this problem. The presidents agreed to hold regular bimonthly
meetings in the future. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIA, FINLAND SIGN AGREEMENT ON RETURNING IMMIGRANTS.
Finnish Interior Ministers Edgar Savisaar and Jan-Erik Enestam signed an
agreement in Tallinn on 22 September setting up regulations for the expulsion
by one country and admission by the other of illegal immigrants, BNS reported.
This agreement and an earlier one on cooperation in fighting crime were the two
conditions Finland had set for establishing visa-free travel between the two
countries. Negotiating teams for formal talks on visa-free travel should be
named soon. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
CZECHS SHELVE MIG-21 MODERNIZATION PLAN.
The Czech Defense Ministry has
put a plan to modernize its fleet of Russian-built MiG-21 jet fighters on hold
while it studies a proposal to buy used American F-16 fighters, Reuters
reported on 22 September. Defense Minister Vilem Holan had ordered three
prototypes of the modernized MiGs to be produced, but his plan was not
supported in the parliament. The Czechs have suggested that they might team
with Poland to get a better deal on the F-16s. Pravo reported on 23
September that replacing the MiGs with 24 F-16s would cost around $280 million,
more than three times the estimated price for modernizing the MiG-21s. -- Doug
Clarke and Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
CZECHS TO APPLY FOR EU MEMBERSHIP IN JANUARY.
Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus said on 22 September that the Czech Republic will formally apply next
January for EU membership, Czech media reported the following day. The
government is expected to formulate the application, which does not need
parliamentary approval, in November. Hungary and Poland applied for EU
membership in April 1994, and Romania and Slovakia followed in June this year.
Lidove noviny on 25 September quoted Spanish Prime Minister Felipe
Gonzalez as saying at the weekend EU summit in Spain that the Czech Republic
could join Cyprus and Malta as a group when the process of admission
negotiations begins. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS.
Following a cabinet meeting in the west
Slovak town of Trencin on 22 September, Premier Vladimir Meciar told a public
rally there are "three ways to remove the tension" on the political scene. The
parliament can accept a constitutional law to end President Michal Kovac's term
in office without an investigation; the parliament can conduct an investigation
of political changes since 1994; or a referendum can be held, TASR reported.
Meciar also announced the cabinet's plans to make Trencin the center of
Slovakia's military industry; a new firm called Holding is being established.
The republican council of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 23
September voiced unambiguous support for the cabinet in its call for the
president's resignation. In other news, an opinion poll taken by Slovak Radio
showed that the HZDS would win 31.6% of the votes if new elections were held in
the first half of September. A distant second would be the Christian Democratic
Movement, with 11.4%, followed by the Hungarian coalition with 10.8%, the
Democratic Union with 9.8%, and the Party of the Democratic Left with 8%. The
Slovak National Party and the Democratic Party would also make it into the
parliament. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK TRADE UNIONS HOLD DEMONSTRATION.
Some 20,000 trade unionists
gathered in Bratislava's Slovak National Uprising Square on 23 September to
protest government social policies, particularly the cabinet's cancellation in
July of public transport discounts for the socially disadvantaged. Alojz
Englis, president of the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ), which
organized the demonstration, asked the cabinet to stop making empty promises
and meet workers' demands, Slovak and international media reported. Englis
pointed out that 10% of families live below the minimum level and another 75%
barely surpass that level. The demonstration was one of the largest to be held
in Bratislava since 1989. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SYMPOSIUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS ENDS IN HUNGARY.
"Cultural and minority rights
are intertwined and should be protected on the same basis" Voyin Dimitrievic,
deputy chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission, said on 23 September in
Budapest at the end of a four-day symposium on human rights, Hungarian media
reported the same day. The current, eighth such conference was jointly
organized by the Council of Europe and Hungary's Justice Ministry and took
place for the first time in Eastern Europe. With some 250 participants, the
symposium discussed citizens', cultural and minority rights included in the
European Human Rights Convention, and argued for better implementation of
existing standards rather than the creation of new ones, Dimitrievic said.
Hungarian Justice Minister Pal Vastagh emphasized that the idea of once hosting
a human rights conference in Budapest seemed utopian 10-15 years ago. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIANS SEEK REFUGE IN HUNGARY.
A group of 200 Bosnians sought
temporary shelter in Hungary over the weekend, border guard spokesman Attila
Krisan told Hungarian journalists on 25 September. The group would be
accommodated at a new refugee camp in the eastern city of Debrecen. In the past
few months, some 2,000 people from Serbia have also taken refuge in Hungary.
Over the past years, Hungary has given shelter to thousands of refugees from
Bosnia but tension is now increasing along its southern borders, where 300,000
ethnic Hungarians face the threat of forced eviction from their homes as a
large number of the approximately 150,000 Serb refugees fleeting Croatia's
Krajina region look to resettle in Vojvodina. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 186, 25 September
BOSNIAN FORCES FIND MASS GRAVE.
Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic
announced that government soldiers had discovered a mass grave containing the
bodies of some 540 people in the village of Krasulje. The International
Herald Tribune on 25 September quoted him as saying that "Serbian
terrorists killed the Bosnians of the town of Kljuc and buried them in a mass
grave--that is genocide." Silajdzic added that the massacre probably took place
soon after the Serbs launched the war in 1992. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
FIGHTING CONTINUES AROUND BANJA LUKA . . .
The Bosnian Serbs have
rejected the government's call for the demilitarization of Banja Luka. The BBC
on 24 September quoted Silajdzic as saying that Bosnian forces will therefore
continue to put pressure on the Serbian stronghold. AFP cited Fifth Corps
Commander General Atif Dudakovic as telling reporters that he will "pursue the
Chetniks [Serbs] as long as they remain" in northwestern Bosnia. He added that
his goal is still to link up with the Seventh Corps as they converge on Banja
Luka. Vreme on 25 September stated that a "Saigon atmosphere" prevails
among the Serb refugees crowded into that town. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND IN THE POSAVINA AREA.
Serbian media said over the weekend that
Bosnian Serb forces had launched a counteroffensive, while Western news
agencies suggested that government troops backed by Croatian artillery were
holding their own. Fighting was intense around Brcko, Doboj, and elsewhere
along the Posavina corridor, with Bosnian Radio saying that the Serbs flew 80
helicopter sorties there. There has been little independent confirmation of the
often highly contradictory reports coming from the front. The International
Herald Tribune on 25 September stated that the internationally wanted war
criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" was active around Sanski Most to the west of
Banja Luka. That same paper on 21 September had noted the close links between
Arkan and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
DIPLOMATIC SHADOW BOXING PRECEDES PARTITION CONFERENCE.
President Alija Izetbegovic announced that his government would not attend the
conference slated for 26 September in New York. The foreign ministers of
Bosnia, Croatia, and rump Yugoslavia have been invited by U.S. diplomats to
discuss Washington's latest project to carve up the republic. Reuters on 24
September quoted Silajdzic as saying that "the Serb terrorists and the regime
in Belgrade wanted actually to partition Bosnia, to make a Greater Serbia at
the expense of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Partition is our main concern and main
problem." Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey later said, however, that he might
attend if certain unspecified constitutional demands were met. Nasa
Borba on 25 September quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as
stating that nothing concrete has been agreed regarding borders. He received a
delegation from the Russian Duma and told them that peace cannot be established
in Bosnia without Russia and that "we are aware of all that Russia has done to
defend Serbian interests." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIAN MINISTER WARNS OF WAR.
Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan
Milutinovic, during a visit to France, on 22 September suggested that the
eventuality of Belgrade's involvement in regional conflict could not be ruled
out. According to Reuters, he said "There are many who would really like to see
Serbia in this war . . . if the call is made it would no longer be a war of
bows and arrows--I am speaking figuratively--all means would be used." He
alleged that "Yugoslavia is at least 10 times, even 20 times, stronger from a
military point of view than all the states around it." The same day, Serbia's
first lady, Mirjana Markovic, delivered a different message through state-run
media, saying Belgrade should stay clear of military conflict in Bosnia and the
regime should add greater distance between itself and "ultranationalist
extremists." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
KOSOVARS DEMONSTRATE IN SWITZERLAND.
An estimated 20,000 people from
Kosovo demonstrated outside of the UN in Geneva on 23 September, protesting
"ethnic cleansing" and "colonization" of Kosovo by Serbian authorities, AFP
reported the same day. Demonstrators filed a petition urging UN Secretary
General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to help "stop police and military violence" in
Kosovo, and also called for Kosovo's independence. Most of the participants
came from Switzerland, with large contingents from neighboring countries also
represented. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVENIA, CROATIA MOVE CLOSER TO SOLVING PROBLEMS.
reported on 20 September that meetings between Croatian Premier Nikica Valentic
and his Slovenian counterpart Janez Drnovsek in Maribor have resulted in both
sides agreeing that outstanding problems, particularly those revolving on
border questions, are nearing a resolution. For his part, Valentic observed
that on "all outstanding border issues [there are only] questions of nuance
left open." He did, however, add that the differences over the Gulf of Piran
are "important" and "major." A Croatian consulate-general is slated to be
opened in Maribor sometime in early 1996. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT VISITS ROMANIA.
Momir Bulatovic on 22 September
paid a one-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. According
to both Romanian and Yugoslav media, the visit permitted a continuation of a
top-level dialogue initiated during Romanian President Ion Iliescu's visit to
Belgrade in May 1993. Bulatovic's talks with Iliescu focused on the Bosnian
crisis, as well as on ways to restore and boost traditional bilateral
relations--especially in the economic field--after the UN embargo against
Serbia and Montenegro would be lifted. Bulatovic was quoted as praising
Romania's diplomatic role in the Balkans. At a joint conference, Iliescu spoke
of a "new favorable moment" in the Yugoslav negotiations, and said that he
noticed that the Yugoslav side was positively assessing the U.S. involvement in
efforts to settle the crisis. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO PROSPECTS.
Gheorghe Tinca on 22
September told Radio Bucharest that Romania had several "trumps" in its efforts
to join NATO. According to Tinca, Romania and Poland have the largest
populations in Eastern Central Europe, have considerable economic potential,
and significant armies. Besides, Romania has "clearly expressed its will" to
join the alliance, a determination which the minister described as a further
trump for his country. Tinca also said that the countries which joined NATO's
Partnership for Peace program do not consider that form of military cooperation
as a substitute for full-fledged NATO membership. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
LEFT-WING RADICALS DEMONSTRATE IN TIRASPOL.
Over 1,000 people on 23
September protested in Tiraspol against the economic policies of the local
authorities, BASA-press and Infotag reported. The rally was staged by the
Coordinating Council of several radical left-wing organizations in the
self-styled "Dniester Moldovan republic." The council's chairman, Vasilii
Yakovlev, criticized the current Tiraspol leadership and demanded a stop to
privatization plans and the setting up of a single Dniester bank to replace the
existing flurry of commercial banks. The organizers of the rally asked Russia
to admit the "Dniester republic" into the ruble zone. A leader of the young
Communists in the region called former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev "a
Judas," accusing him and other former Soviet officials of having "destroyed the
USSR." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA BARS FORMER COMMUNISTS FROM PUBLIC OFFICE.
The parliament on 23
September passed a law on "genocide and communist crime," which effectively
bars thousands of former Communists form seeking public office until 2002,
Western agencies reported the same day. The law applies to members of the
former Party of Labor of Albania's Politburo and Central Committee, ministers,
parliamentary deputies, presidents of the Supreme Court, and former secret
police agents and informers, who are not allowed to hold posts in the
government, parliament, judiciary, and mass media. The law was passed by 74 of
the 140 legislators. Socialist and Social Democrat politicians denounced it as
"revenge" and an attempt to hit the opposition before the general elections
next year. At least seven of the 11-member presidency of the Socialist Party
are affected by the law, including chairman Fatos Nano, as is Social Democratic
Party chairman Skender Gjinushi. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
FLOODING IN ALBANIA KILLS FOUR.
Heavy flooding across much of Albania
claimed four lives and caused considerable damage, Reuters reported on 22
September. Interior Ministry spokesman Nikolin Thana said that helicopters,
special troops, and engineers were deployed to rescue people in isolated areas.
Three people drowned in the northeastern district of Has, and a fourth person
was killed in Tirana. The northern town of Shkoder and several districts in the
northeast, and the district of Lushnje south of Tirana, were hit hardest. Thana
said authorities were mobilized to provide tents and first aid to people whose
houses were destroyed, and that road repairs are underway. Prime Minister
Aleksander Meksi and Interior Minister Agron Musaraj traveled to the flooded
areas to consult with local authorities. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle