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Newsline - November 2, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 214, 2 November 1995
CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES, COMMUNISTS MAY FORM BLOC.
Sources close to the leadership of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) claim that the bloc may announce an electoral alliance with the Communist Party, Russian TV reported on 1 November. Observers expect a statement about those plans on 3 November when KRO leaders Yurii Skokov and Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed return from a campaign trip to Krasnoyarsk Krai. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov said that he sees a strong basis for cooperation and that he is in regular contact with the KRO leaders, NTV reported on 1 November. Lebed did not rule out the idea of cooperating with the Communists in an 18 October press conference, but Skokov is less receptive to the idea. The reports did not specify what form the alliance would take. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN'S HEALTH UNCERTAIN.
"I cannot say that the president looks healthy," first aide Viktor Ilyushin told reporters after a 10-minute visit with Boris Yeltsin in the hospital on 1 November, NTV reported. He made it clear that the president himself realizes that his situation is "no joking matter." Ilyushin's remarks contradicted the optimistic assessment that the head of the Presidential Security Service, Aleksandr Korzhakov, made on 1 November and the upbeat tone set by the president's press service. Korzhakov was the only aide to see Yeltsin during the first six days of his illness. In answer to reporters' questions, Ilyushin said Korzhakov is not interfering in his work. Yeltsin has not set a time to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 November. -- Robert Orttung

YABLOKO, DERZHAVA APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT.
The Supreme Court has three days to consider appeals filed on 1 November by Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko and Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava against the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), Russian media reported. The court is likely to find in favor of the claimants, as it has already instructed the TsIK to register four parties who filed similar complaints: Democratic Russia and the Federal Democratic Movement on 30 October, and Our Future (led by the extreme communist Sazhi Umalatova) and Assembly of the Land on 1 November. -- Laura Belin

RYBKIN DEFENDS DUMA'S RECORD.
During its almost two years' work, the State Duma has adopted 360 laws, 240 of which Yeltsin signed, according to Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin. He said that the Duma itself had prepared most of those laws and criticized the government for not introducing more bills. He said the government's low output was due to internal disagreements within its ranks and the inability of the various factions to compromise. Rybkin suggested reducing the number of deputy ministers while increasing the importance of the ministers. He said the president should be required to gain the Duma's approval for naming key ministers. Under the current constitution only the nominee for prime minister must be submitted for parliamentary approval. -- Robert Orttung

PAPER SPECULATES ON PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES.
The outcome of the 1996 presidential elections will depend on the ability of each of the four "super-parties"--the "party of power," the democrats, the communists, and the nationalists--to agree on a single candidate and thereby get past the first round, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 1 November. The paper speculated that the "party of power" is for now loyal to Yeltsin but will switch to Chernomyrdin if the president's health continues to deteriorate. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov has solid financial backing, but he is unlikely to attract popular support outside the capital. The democrats could unite behind Grigorii Yavlinskii, but not all their supporters may be willing to back his candidacy. So far the communists appear to be sticking with Gennadii Zyuganov. The main nationalist candidate will be either Vladimir Zhirinovsky or Aleksandr Lebed, depending on the outcome of the December parliamentary elections. -- Laura Belin

JOURNALIST WHO CALLED GRACHEV A "THIEF" FILES APPEAL.
Moskovskii komsomolets reporter Vadim Poegli, who was convicted last week of insulting Defense Minister Pavel Grachev but immediately amnestied, has appealed the ruling, Ekho Moskvy reported on 1 November. On 31 October, the paper reprinted Poegli's October 1994 article, "Pasha Mercedes," signed by the entire editorial board. -- Laura Belin

VLADIMIR AUTHORITIES CLASH OVER REGIONAL ELECTIONS.
Vladimir Oblast and city legislatures, both dominated by Communist deputies, are insisting on holding mayoral and gubernatorial elections on 17 December, the same day as Duma elections, while regional executive officials consider that date to be too early, Radio Rossii reported on 1 November. The Central Electoral Commission allowed the regional electoral commission to start preparations for elections but added that they would not necessarily be held on 17 December. Nikolai Yegorov, Vladimir's presidential representative, and Oblast Governor Yurii Vlasov said they will follow the 17 September presidential decree, which instructed the majority of regions to elect local executive heads and local legislatures in March 1996. -- Anna Paretskaya

ZAVGAEV APPOINTED CHECHEN HEAD OF STATE.
In a move likely to increase tensions in Chechnya, a meeting of the Chechen Supreme Soviet on 1 November unanimously elected Doku Zavgaev, prime minister of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, as "head of state" of the republic, Russian and Western agencies reported. The new post, which is equivalent to that of president, was created in order to facilitate "stability" in Chechnya, a spokesman for Zavgaev told Interfax. The session also appointed Sanakii Arbiev as first deputy prime minister and Grozny Mayor Baslan Gantemirov as deputy prime minister, in what appears to be a consolidation of all forces opposed to separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev. Nevertheless, 1,000 pro-Dudaev demonstrators held a protest meeting in central Grozny on 1 November, and Dudaev's negotiator, Khodzh-akhmed Yarikhanov, denounced Zavgaev as a "puppet" of "the occupation regime" in an interview with Interfax. -- Scott Parrish

CHECHEN CAPTIVE TO BE EXCHANGED?
Russian officials plan to exchange a Chechen captive, Tamarlane Kunta Avtorkhanov, for five Russian border guards, Interfax and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 1 November. Avtorkhanov is the son of Abdurakhman Avtorkahnov, a dissident and well-known author who fled Chechnya during World War II. He will be traded to separatist fighters for five Russian border guards who have been held prisoner since 24 August. Before his capture in Dagestan a few weeks ago, Avtorkhanov had reportedly been serving as an aide to President Dudaev. Interfax reported allegations that Avtorkhanov has links to Western security agencies, having served as an instructor at a Western intelligence academy. -- Scott Parrish and Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIA MAY RESUME DUMPING RADIOACTIVE WASTE AT SEA.
Russia cannot guarantee that it will not resume dumping liquid radioactive waste at sea because of financial difficulties, storage facilities that are full, and the lack of sufficient reprocessing capacity, Viktor Kutsenko, a high-ranking official of the Russian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, told ITAR-TASS on 1 November. Kutsenko predicted that Russia would make an announcement to that effect at an international conference on marine pollution in December. He complained that international aid to help deal with the problem that was promised after Russia last dumped liquid waste into the Sea of Japan in 1993 has been insufficient. He said the situation is becoming increasingly serious as Russian nuclear submarines are decommissioned under the START arms control agreements. -- Scott Parrish

BRYANSK AUTO WORKERS PROTEST.
One person died during protests at the Bryansk auto plant, where workers have not been paid for five months, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 November. Two people were run over by a truck as workers tried to block access to the plant. Bryansk Mayor Nikolai Borisov said the plant owes the workers 6.5 billion rubles ($1.5 million). He said the city is lending the plant 1.5 billion rubles ($335,000) to help pay some of the overdue wages. On 30 October, the Russian government announced it is setting up a joint working group with the Federation of Independent Trade Unions to examine the problem of wage arrears. -- Thomas Sigel

IMF TALKS MAKE PROGRESS.
Discussions between Russia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on conditions for a three-year aid program potentially worth $18 billion have made "considerable progress," IMF Moscow representative Thomas Wolf said on 1 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. The IMF delegation that arrived in Moscow two weeks ago to discuss the plan left yesterday for Washington, where it will report its findings to IMF headquarters. In addition to talks on a new loan, the team is reviewing Russia's compliance with this year's $6.8 billion standby loan. Wolf said the government and the Central Bank of Russia appear to be on target. The 1996 budget, currently undergoing revision in parliament, is a key point in negotiations for a new loan. Russia is expected to show progress on reforming the agriculture and energy sectors and on private land ownership. -- Thomas Sigel

CHERNOMYRDIN URGES BUSINESSMEN TO STRENGTHEN GOVERNMENT TIES.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin urged Russian businessmen to strengthen ties with the government to fight crime and boost the economy, Russian and Western agencies reported on 1 November. Speaking at the Russian Business Round Table in Moscow, Chernomyrdin said Russia's business corps is "the guarantor of political stability and economic reform in the country." He told the group that he would call on the Interior Ministry, Procurator's Office, and Federal Security Service to better protect entrepreneurs. In the past year, there have been more than 500 contract killings, most of which remain unsolved. Andrei Nechaev, president of the Russian Financial Corporation and a member of the Round Table board, said the government has failed to enforce the law. -- Thomas Sigel

42% OF RUSSIAN INVESTMENT ABROAD IS ILLEGAL CAPITAL.
A spokesman for the EBRD said that Russian investment abroad now totals $43.1 billion, Western agencies reported on 1 November. Out of that amount, more than $18 billion (or nearly 42%) is considered to be illegally exported capital, most of which is held in cash, securities, and real estate. The remaining investment consists mainly of cash held by entrepreneurs operating in the so-called "gray economy" and of Russian companies' hard currency earnings. The EBRD's estimates show that about 85% of legal assets are held in cash. -- Natalia Gurushina



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 214, 2 November 1995
CHINESE POLITBURO MEMBER IN UZBEKISTAN.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov told visiting Hu Jintao, a politburo member of the Chinese Communist Party, that his republic adheres to a "one China" policy and opposes any form of separatist activity in China, Xinhua news agency reported on 31 October. Fearing support for Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, or Uighurs living in Xinjiang, China has extracted similar promises from other Central Asian leaders. -- Lowell Bezanis

ARRESTED COSSACK LEADER IN KAZAKHSTAN ON HUNGER STRIKE.
The imprisoned ataman of the Semirechie Cossacks, Nikolai Gunkin, declared his intention to go on a hunger strike, Russian TV reported. Gunkin, who plans to run for parliament in December's elections, was arrested on 28 October in Almaty for holding an unregistered rally. Kazakhstani Interior Ministry authorities now say he is being held for an unsanctioned rally he organized in January. Cossack organizations have lodged a protest over the arrest. -- Bruce Pannier

ELECTIONS POSTPONED IN ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIYA.
Georgia's Central Election Commission passed a resolution postponing elections in Abkhazia and the Tskinvali and Java constituencies of South Ossetiya, Iprinda reported on 31 October. The elections were planned as part of the nationwide Georgian elections scheduled for 5 November. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba confirmed to Ekho Moskvy on 31 October that he would not allow the elections to take place. On 29 October, Georgian parliamentary chairman Eduard Shevardnadze said he would call for Abkhazia's full isolation at the next CIS summit. He also brought into question the future of Russian peacekeepers and military bases on Georgian territory if Russia fails to help restore Georgia's territorial integrity. In related news, Abkhaz Prime Minister Gennadii Gaulia was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying the main obstacle to the resumption of Georgian-Abkhaz talks, the Russian blockade of Sukhumi, has been lifted. -- Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 214, 2 November 1995
CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS ADOPT FIRST ARTICLE OF CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION.
Crimean deputies have approved Article 1 of a new regional constitution that defines Crimea as an autonomous part of Ukraine, effectively ending a prolonged political battle between Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists over the status of the peninsula, Ukrainian TV reported on 1 November. The article asserts that relations between Crimea and Ukraine are to be governed by their respective constitutions. It also declares Sevastopol to be part of Crimea and provides for its citizens to elect representatives to the Crimean parliament. But Ukrainian laws will apply with regard to the city's special status as the base of the Black Sea Fleet. Deputies are to continue reviewing the rest of the draft constitution over the next few days and will then submit it to the Ukrainian legislature for approval. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

DELAYS IN UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN TREATY.
Natalya Zarudna, head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's information department, has said differences remain between Ukraine and Romania preventing an agreement on friendship and cooperation from being signed, Ukrainian Radio reported on 31 October. According to Ukraine, Romania does not agree to the inclusion of a clause renouncing any territorial claims on each other. Earlier, it was reported that a compromise wording--condemning the Molotov-Ribbentropp pact of 1939 but renouncing future territorial claims--was drawn up. But it now appears that it has been rejected by the Romanian side. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT MAY WITHHOLD ELECTION FUNDS.
In response to the Constitutional Court's ruling that confirmed the validity of amendments lowering minimum voter turnout for parliamentary elections to 25%, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said he may block financing for the elections, Reuters reported on 1 November. Lukashenka said he was opposed to changing the electoral law and that if candidates wanted to be elected to parliament, they should "fall on their knees and beg the electorate to vote." The president also reiterated his threat to institute direct presidential rule if the "destabilization of society" continued. -- Ustina Markus

IMF ASKS BELARUS TO STOP INTERVENING IN CURRENCY MARKET.
The IMF has asked the National Bank of Belarus to stop intervening in the country's currency exchange in attempts to stabilize the Belarusian ruble against the dollar, Belarusian Radio reported on 1 November. The IMF said the NBB had been propping up the ruble at 11,500 to $1 since January, but the program for macroeconomic stabilization to which the Belarusian government and the IMF agreed in September calls for freeing the ruble's exchange rate from "administrative regulation." The IMF recommended lowering the exchange rate to 15,294 to $1 by next January. Otherwise, it said, Belarus risks losing future tranches of a $300 million stand-by loan. -- Ustina Markus

NEW ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT PRESENTED TO PRESIDENT.
Secretary of the State Chancellery Uno Veering on 1 November faxed a list of the new government to Seattle to President Lennart Meri, who has three days to approve it, BNS reported. The government will again be led by Prime Minister Tiit Vahi and retains seven ministers. Six new ministers from the Reform Party have been nominated: Siim Kallas (foreign affairs), Mart Rask (interior), Toomas Vilosius (social affairs), Jaak Aaviksoon (education), Andres Lipstok (economy), and Kalev Kukk (transport and communications). Tiit Kubri from the Rural Union has been nominated minister for regional affairs. It is likely that the cabinet will take its oath of office on 6 November. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH INTERNAL MINISTER TO REVEAL INFORMATION ON SECRET POLICE AGENTS.
Polish Minister of Internal Affairs Andrzej Milczanowski said he would disclose the names of the secret police agents who spied on the student activist Stanislaw Pyjas if requested to do so by a prosecutor or judge. Pyjas was followed by some 14 security agents for two years before his death in May 1977. It is widely believed that he was murdered by the secret police. Recent amendments to the police law state that the minister can disclose information on secret agents if it may help to reveal murderers. Until now, Milczanowski has refused to disclose information on secret police agents from the communist era, Zycie Warszawy reported on 2 November. -- Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw

POLISH ELECTION UPDATE.
According to a 26-29 October poll by the Warsaw-based Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS), Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski will win 32% of the vote in the 5 November presidential elections. Current President Lech Walesa received 26%, former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron 8%, ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski 5%, former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski 4%, Central Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz 3%, former Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak 3%, radical peasant activist Andrzej Lepper-3%, and Liberal Party leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke 2%, Warsaw dailies reported on 2 November. Walesa's support has grown by 10% since September and Kwasniewski's by 7%, while Gronkiewicz-Waltz has sunk by 13%. -- Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw

CZECH HOSPITAL DOCTORS GO ON STRIKE.
Hospital doctors in the Czech Republic went on strike on 1 November or staged token protests for higher pay and against what they consider the near-collapse of the state health service. Up to 5,000 doctors and nurses demonstrated outside the Health Ministry in Prague and rallies were held in other towns, Czech media reported. Emergency treatment for patients was maintained, and some doctors worked normally but donated their day's pay to medical charities. The leader of the doctor's group that organized the strike said industrial action, such as refusing to perform abortions and carrying out normal administrative tasks, will continue until their demands are met. New Health Minister Jan Strasky on 30 October presented a package of short-term reform proposals, but the more militant doctors called these vague and insufficient to call off their action. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK JOURNALIST ATTACKED.
Peter Toth, a journalist with the opposition daily Sme who has been reporting on the investigation into the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son, was physically attacked near his Bratislava apartment on 31 October, Narodna obroda reported. Before the attack, an unknown man phoned Toth to ask for a meeting, but no one showed up. Toth did not see the attacker's face. Sme, in its extensive coverage of the Kovac Jr. case, has published information and interviews pointing to involvement by the Slovak Information Service (SIS). SIS director Ivan Lexa, an ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, on 11 September filed charges against Sme and two other opposition dailies for their coverage of the case, saying the papers aimed to discredit the service. -- Sharon Fisher

CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW.
Miklos Duray, chairman of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence party, told Praca on 2 November that the Slovak language law violates the country's constitution and the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. The most recent version of the bill was approved by the cabinet on 24 October and will be discussed later this month by the parliament. According to Duray, ethnic Hungarian deputies will not support the treaty if certain controversial legislation is passed first. Representatives of Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian parties are scheduled to meet with Council of Europe secretary general Daniel Tarschys on 2 November to discuss the government's draft language law. In other news, Meciar and his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, will meet in Berlin on 10 November to discuss the language law. -- Sharon Fisher

TRADE UNION PROBLEMS BREWING IN SLOVAKIA.
Deputy Prime Minister Jozef Kalman on 31 October reacted to a statement by the Confederation of Trade Unions the previous day declaring a "state of crisis." Kalman called the statement "a precipitate step" that was opposed to the spirit of "social partnership and participation" in finding mutually acceptable solutions to problems, Praca reported on 2 November. Trade unions held a demonstration in Bratislava on 23 September to protest government social policies, particularly the cabinet's cancellation in July of lower public transportation fares for the socially disadvantaged. The government has yet to meet union demands. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PREMIER VISITS BRITAIN . . .
Gyula Horn, during a 36-hour visit to Britain aimed at improving economic and political ties, said on 31 October that admission to EU and NATO are of equal importance to Hungary for economic, political, and security reasons, Hungarian newspapers reported the next day. Horn met with his British counterpart, John Major, who pledged that Britain would do its best to promote Hungary's accession to both institutions; EBRD president Jacques de Larosiere; and other high-ranking officials. Horn said that Hungarian foreign policy aims to decrease tension and forge good neighborly relations in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE. He suggested that assurances be given to Russia and Ukraine that NATO expansion will not represent a security threat to them. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

. . . AND THREATENS RESIGNATION.
On his return to Hungary, Horn, who is also Socialist Party leader, said that if the prime minister is not allowed to be also head of a political party, a new person will have to be found to replace him in both jobs, Hungarian media reported on 2 November. His statement appears to have ended a dispute within the party about the separation of the two posts. Many socialist deputies, including those most critical of allowing one person to hold both positions, seem uneasy about a separation under such conditions. The issue of separating the two posts came up several months ago when the socialist caucus became increasingly critical of Horn's moves as premier. Until now, Horn had seemed willing to accept the idea. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 214, 2 November 1995
BALKAN PEACE TALKS OPEN.
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke on 1 November convened peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, bringing together Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, international media report. Before the talks, Holbrooke stressed at least a measure of success was imperative, as failure may prove costly. "If we don't succeed, the war will resume and it will resume at a higher level," Reuters quoted him as saying. Meanwhile, Christopher has said that any peace accord must enshrine four basic principles: Bosnia's existence as a single state; a special status for the capital, Sarajevo; protection of human rights and the bringing to justice of those involved in war crimes and atrocities; and the return to Croatian jurisdiction of rebel Serb-held Slavonia. -- Stan Markotich

DID CHIRAC PREVENT NATO AIR RAIDS IN SREBRENICA . . .
Die Tageszeitung on 1 November carried a story, based on UN and French sources close to the government, saying that on French President Jacques Chirac's orders, UN commander General Bernard Janvier did not authorize air raids to prevent the fall of Srebrenica. The paper said that Janvier rejected five requests by the Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica for air support after the Bosnian Serbs started attacking the town on 6 July. Die Tageszeitung further said that Chirac gave the order not to fly air raids at the beginning of July, even before the Serbian offensive, and that the French and U.S. secret services were aware of Serbian plans. -- Fabian Schmidt

. . . BUT ONLY AFTER SECURITY COUNCIL REACHED AGREEMENT?
At a UN Security Council meeting on 24 May, the three Contact Group members Britain, France, and Russia called for abandoning Srebrenica Zepa and Gorazde and the U.S. and Germany "tacitly consented," AFP and Die Tagezeitung reported on 1 November. The French government has declined to comment. Meanwhile, the rump Yugoslav government denied reports in The Washington Post on 29 October saying that its troops were involved in the conquest of Srebrenica. It also denied the existence of prison camps for Bosnian Muslims on rump Yugoslav territory. -- Fabian Schmidt

BOSNIAN SERBS HAND OVER EVIDENCE TO WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL.
The Association Of Camp Detainees 1991 handed over dossiers, based on testimony given by 10 victims and witnesses to the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. The association says the documents reportedly attest to the killing of 60 Serbs and the torture of many more. They also name "10 to 20 perpetrators," including "very high officials of the Bosnian and Croatian governments," AFP reported on 1 November. -- Fabian Schmidt

SERBIAN POLICE RAIDS IN KOSOVO.
Serbian police, including those from the economics section, raided ethnic Albanian homes and shops in various towns throughout October on the pretext of searching for arms, Kosova Daily Report said on 1 November. According to Kosovar shadow-state sources, police maltreated 34 Albanians in Urosevac alone and severely beat up seven others. The government claims that the Serbian police raided shadow-state schools and universities and "almost every Albanian-owned shop and firm [in Urosevac] and the surrounding villages." -- Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIA ADMITTED TO PHARE PROGRAM.
The Foreign Ministers Committee of the European Union has accepted the EU Commission's recommendation to admit Macedonia to the PHARE program, Macedonian Radio reported on 1 November. The move was announced during a two-day visit to Macedonia by a European Parliament delegation. The 13 September Greek-Macedonian agreement has removed the last obstacle to Macedonia's admission, which should unlock considerable financial assistance for the country. -- Michael Wyzan

ROMANIAN REACTIONS TO BISHOP TOKES' "ALTERNATIVE RECONCILIATION" PROPOSALS.
Reacting to Reformed Bishop Lazslo Tokes' "alternative proposal" for a Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November 1995), presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu said that the honorary chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania "lacks credibility" because of his repeated "anti-Romanian attitudes" and his spreading "lies" abroad about the situation of the Hungarian minority. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea Geoana told a press conference in Bucharest that Tokes' proposal shows he was demanding autonomy based on ethnic criteria, which, he said, is rejected by all European states and "undermines stability in our region," Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported. -- Michael Shafir

LEADER OF ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY RESIGNS.
Mircea Hamza, a deputy chairman of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), has resigned his post. In an open letter to PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor published in Evenimentul zilei on 2 November, Hamza said the PRM started out as a patriotic party but has turned into one displaying "grotesque wholesale
attitudes against Hungarians, Jews, and Gypsies." Hamza denounced Tudor's attacks on Romania's efforts to become integrated into European structures, saying that "by implication" this amounts to opting for "the zone represented by Russia." He added that Tudor has "blindly and grossly" attacked President Ion Iliescu, thereby insulting all Romanians who voted for him. -- Michael Shafir

BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION COUNCIL IN CHISINAU.
A meeting of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Council in Chisinau on 1 November decided to speed up efforts to set up a Black Sea Trade and Development Bank. The meeting was supposed to be attended by the foreign ministers of member states, but only those from Moldova and Romania (which has taken over the chairmanship for the next six months) were present; the remaining countries sent their deputy foreign ministers, Infotag reported on 1 November. The decision to set up the bank was taken in early 1995 but has been ratified only by Albania and Greece. It was agreed that Greece, Turkey and Russia will have 16.5% of the shares each; Romania, Ukraine, and Bulgaria 13.5% each, and the remaining five countries 2% each. -- Michael Shafir

ZHIRINOVSKY'S PARTY TO SUPPORT TRANSDNIESTRIAN INDEPENDENCE.
Visiting Russian State Duma deputy Nina Krivelskaya, addressing the parliament of the breakaway Transdniestrian region, said that the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky will offer all possible assistance in promoting the recognition of Transdniestrian independence, Infotag reported on 1 November. Krivelskaya, who is heading an unofficial delegation of the State Duma, said her party's goal was to restore a "unified state" within the "borders of the former Czarist Russian Empire." Meanwhile, the Transdniestrian parliament on 1 November voted to hold a referendum on joining the CIS, Infotag reported the same day. The referendum will be held jointly with the parliamentary elections, scheduled for 24 December. Voters will also be asked to approve the recently passed Transdniestrian constitution. -- Michael Shafir

TOP JUDGES SAY NO "VACUUM" IN BULGARIA'S LEGAL SYSTEM.
The Constitutional Court on 31 October ruled that there is no "vacuum" in the country's legal system, 24 chasa reported the following day. The court decided that if a law is declared unconstitutional, the previous version of that law is to become valid again. In cases where there are no earlier versions, the law is to be regarded as invalid, The judges had been asked to rule on the question by Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev, who wanted to know the practical consequences of declaring a law unconstitutional. -- Stefan Krause in Sofia

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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