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Newsline - September 25, 1995


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, Inc.

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.
The 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, OMRI, Inc.

CHECHEN ROUNDUP.
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, OMRI, Inc.

BUDENNOVSK POLICE WANT NEW INQUIRY INTO HOSTAGE CRISIS.
Police in 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.

CIS


KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN, AND TAJIKISTAN READY TO JOIN CUSTOMS UNION.
At a 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, Inc.



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, Inc.

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.
Estonian and 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.
Bosnian 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.
Croatian radio 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




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