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Newsline - November 10, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
TsIK DENIES REGISTRATION TO MUSLIMS, OUR FUTURE.
The IK) refused to register the Muslim Union of Russia and Our Future because they do not have the necessary 200,000 signatures. The Muslim Union attracted a lot of media attention earlier this year as the first Muslim party to contest the elections. Our Future is led by the extreme Communist Sazhi Umalatova. A Chechen, Umalatova resigned from Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party in January in protest over what she considered his weak attempts to oppose President Boris Yeltsin's decision to use force in the republic. The TsIK has so far banned seven parties and registered 41, including the Federal Democratic Movement which had its registration delayed the day before because one of its candidates was on two blocs. The process will continue on 10 November. * Robert Orttung

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ASKED TO EXAMINE ELECTORAL LAW.
The Supreme Court has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of Article 62 of the law on parliamentary elections, which sets the minimum turnout for valid elections at 25% and stipulates that parties must gain at least 5% of the vote nationwide to win any of the 225 Duma seats allocated from party lists, Russian media reported on 9 November. Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov said an examination of the case may take time. According to Russian TV, the court will become involved in a "high stakes political game" if it decides to hear the case; if the court strikes down the law soon, Duma elections could be postponed, and if it strikes down the law after 17 December, the election results could be declared illegitimate. Last-minute amendments to the electoral law are scheduled to be debated in the Duma on 10 November. * Laura Belin

ORT CHOOSES DEBATES OVER MONOLOGUES.
Sergei Blagovolin, director-general of Russian Public TV (ORT), announced that the network will devote its campaign coverage to debates and round tables, rather than candidates' monologues, Russian media reported on 9 November. Each officially registered party (at last count, there were 41) will be represented at one morning debate for 30 minutes and at another for 30 minutes during prime time. Random drawings will determine which parties will face each other in the debates. Most parties criticized the decision, arguing that they should be allowed to structure their own television campaign appearances. But Anatolii Vengerov, the chairman of the President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes, told ORT the network's proposal was consistent with the rules on campaign coverage and would benefit voters by allowing them to compare candidates side by side. Parties that can afford it will be able to buy additional political advertising time on ORT. * Laura Belin

JOURNALIST ATTACKED AND ROBBED IN CHECHNYA.
Aleksandr Yevtushenko, a correspondent for RFE/RL and Komsomolskaya pravda, was attacked in the Nadterechnii region of Chechnya (near the border with Ingushetiya) on 8 November, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Yevtushenko said five armed men took his car and equipment and threatened to shoot him but released him with a warning to "keep quiet." Upon returning to Grozny, he reported the incident to the Chechen Interior Ministry, where he was told the Nadterechnii region is not controlled by the police. * Laura Belin

DUDAEV DELEGATION PROPOSES PRISONER EXCHANGE.
At a 9 November meeting of the Special Observer Commission in Grozny, Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov proposed the resumption of the long-stalled prisoner exchange called for in the 30 July Russian-Chechen military accord, Russian agencies reported. Dudaev negotiator Kazbek Makashev told NTV that the Chechen side proposed exchanging 14 Russian servicemen for 145 separatist fighters, as had been agreed by the two sides in September, before the attempted assassination of Lt. Gen. Anatolii Romanov led to the suspension of negotiations. Russian officials refused to comment on the offer. Meanwhile, NTV reported that the frequent protest meetings of pro-independence Chechens in front of the Presidential Palace in Grozny have been increasing in size in recent days, despite attempts at security checkpoints around the city to keep the protesters out. * Scott Parrish

YELTSIN PROMOTES BARSUKOV AND KULIKOV.
President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree promoting Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov and Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov to the rank of army general, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Both were previously Colonel Generals. Barsukov had graduated from the Frunze Military Academy, while Kulikov graduated from both the Frunze Academy and the General Staff Academy. * Constantine Dmitriev

VOLGA COSSACKS AGAINST ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS.
The Volga Cossacks will desert the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) if it forms an electoral coalition with the Communists, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 9 November, quoting Boris Gusev, ataman of the Volga Region Cossack units. He said the Cossacks' ideology is to serve the Russian state and not political parties. In spring 1995, the Volga Cossacks joined KRO under the assumption that it was non-partisan. The Cossacks' attitude towards the Communist Party and its ideology varies in different regions. Don Region Cossacks have backed the Communists for the upcoming parliamentary elections, while in Voronezh Oblast, three Cossacks were ostracized from the community for distributing "Communist Party propaganda." * Anna Paretskaya

GRACHEV OPENS NATO MISSION.
During a visit to NATO headquarters that had not been included in his original itinerary, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev opened a Russian military mission to NATO under the Partnership for Peace program, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Grachev expressed confidence that Russia and NATO will cooperate in the planned Bosnian peace implementation force. Meanwhile, Federation Council Security and Defense Committee Deputy Chairman Petr Premyak complained that Grachev had not consulted the Council prior to agreeing to send Russian troops to Bosnia. Article 102 of the Russian Constitution specifies that the Council should approve the use of Russian armed forces outside the country. * Constantine Dmitriev

YELTSIN ENDORSES KOZYREV.
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev met with President Yeltsin at his hospital in Moscow on 9 November, after which he told an NTV interviewer that Yeltsin had "expressed his support for the foreign minister." On the same day, ITAR-TASS reported that Yeltsin signed a decree appointing Vasilii Sidorov, currently Russia's first deputy UN representative, as deputy foreign minister. Sidorov will handle administrative and cadre affairs, which Kozyrev has been criticized for neglecting. Meanwhile, Yeltsin vetoed a bill calling for Russia to unilaterally exit from UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. He vetoed a similar measure on 14 September. * Scott Parrish

RUSSIA PLANS TO BUILD FIVE NEW NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS.
The Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy is planning to construct five new nuclear power stations in Russia, Vitalii Lebedenko, president of Rosenergoatom, told Interfax on 9 November. Lebedenko said two would be constructed in the Far East, one in the Urals, and two in European Russia. The first of the Far East plants is already under construction. Lebedenko claimed that Russian public opinion, which turned against nuclear power after the Chornobyl disaster in 1986, has now become more supportive of it. Russia currently has nine nuclear stations, generating 13% of its electricity needs. In 1992, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin announced a program for a 60% boost in nuclear power capacity by 2010. * Scott Parrish

CHUBAIS SAYS CENTRAL BANK CHANGE WILL HAVE NO NEGATIVE IMPACT.
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, responding to concern among pro-reform observers at Aleksandr Khandruev's appointment to the post of acting Central Bank head, said the bank-government relations will not be fundamentally altered, Russian agencies reported on 9 November. Meanwhile, the bank's deputy chairman, Andrei Kozlov, told an international conference on the Russian stock market in Moscow that he was upset by the removal of Tatyana Paramonova. He said that Paramonova's "competence and professional skills could not be doubted." Paramonova had become a symbol of the government's tough monetary policy, so her departure is causing some unease among pro-reform observers. * Thomas Sigel

ICON SMUGGLER FOUND GUILTY.
A former Russian customs officer pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina on 8 November to participating in a Moscow-based smuggling ring that authorities said operated undercover for almost two years, Western agencies reported the next day. Vladimir Veshkin was charged on one count of smuggling illegal merchandise in February 1994. He was caught with 6 religious icons. But federal agents linked Veshkin to at least 100 illegally imported icons obtained by undercover agents or found at a shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Authorities said that Veshkin bought the icons on the Moscow black market for $5 and resold them in the U.S. for as much as $400. Veshkin, who is not a U.S. citizen, could be deported for his crime. He also faces five years in federal prison and a $25,000 fine. * Thomas Sigel

LESPROMBANK PRESIDENT SLAIN.
Lesprombank President Pavel Ratonin was killed outside his Moscow home on 8 November, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Police described the murder of the 63-year-old banker as a gang-style contract killing. Bankers and businessmen have been the most prominent victims of ongoing killings in Moscow and other cities. The Association of Russian Banks said organized crime groups are attacking bankers to seize control of the profitable banking sector. Meanwhile, on 9 November, ITAR-TASS reported that police have arrested a suspect in the murder of business leader Ivan Kivelidi, who was poisoned in his office in August. Kivelidi was chairman of the Round Table lobby group of business leaders. Nine of the group's 30 leaders have been killed in the last year and the entrepreneurs have offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Kivelidi's murderers. * Thomas Sigel

DOMESTIC FOOD PRODUCTION IS FALLING, IMPORT IS INCREASING.
In the first nine months of 1995, the production of some foodstuffs fell by up to 33% compared to the same period in 1994, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 9 November. The production of bread fell by 12%. A spokesman for the Trade Committee said that domestic production meets only 74-89% of the demand for meat and milk products and only 40-50% of demand for oil and sugar. It is estimated that by the end of this year, Russia will have to import 300,000 metric tons of meat, 700,000-800,000 metric tons of milk products, and 200,000 metric tons of vegetable oil. * Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA TO GET CREDIT FROM EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF JAPAN.
The Export-Import Bank of Japan agreed to open a credit worth $400 million to Russia for the technical reconstruction of the KamAZ car plant, Yaroslavl oil processing plant and St. Petersburg's company "Impuls," Moskovskaya pravda reported on 9 November. Russia and Japan also discussed the possibility of converting a humanitarian credit of $500 million, which had been agreed upon but not yet realized, into an additional industrial loan. * Natalia Gurushina



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
TURKISH CONCERNS ABOUT MEDZAMOR.
In light of what it termed "existing risks," Turkey officially urged Armenia to halt its plans to revive the Medzamor-2 nuclear reactor on 9 November, Reuters reported the same day. A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement noted that the reactor, "whose security is debatable," was built in an area prone to earthquakes and any disaster there would directly affect Turkey. The day before, Russia's Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov and Armenia's Energy Production Minister Gagik Martirosyan signed a protocol on reopening the plant, Interfax reported. At a press conference, Martirosyan said Armenia had been receiving political, technological, and financial assistance from Russia since March 1993 to bring the plant on line again. The plant began generating electricity on 6 November. * Lowell Bezanis

LOCAL ELITES HELP AKAEV.
Regional leaders are actively aiding Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev by refusing to verify signatures in support of other presidential candidates in their area, the Russian newspaper Ekspress-khronika reported on 9 November. The head of the Jumgalskii region reportedly expelled "a group" for supporting one of the opposition candidates, saying the region supported only one contender for the presidency--Askar Akaev. Other reports say even local doctors refuse to treat patients if they have not signed the petition endorsing Akaev and school directors have been warned that they may be subject to administrative measures if they do not hold rallies in support of Akaev. * Bruce Pannier



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR CULTURE.
Leonid Kuchma, speaking to the Plenum of Creative Unions in Kiev on 9 November, said the government will continue to support culture, Ukrainian TV reported the same day. He said the state will provide immediate assistance to the cinematographers' and writers' unions. Cultural activists and artists complained bitterly at the meeting about the decay of culture in the face of Ukraine's economic crisis and government cuts in subsidies. Kuchma also announced that he will shortly issue a decree on the reconstruction of the Mykhailivskyi and Uspenskyi cathedrals in Kiev, destroyed by the Soviet regime in the 1930s and 1940s, respectively. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE HALTS OIL DELIVERIES AFTER PIPELINE ACCIDENT.
Ukrainian TV on 9 November reported that oil deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline to Europe have been suspended following an accident the previous night. The Druzhba pipeline transports oil from Russia to East and Western Europe. The accident occurred in the Transcarpathian region. Some 150 square meters of ground surface were contaminated, and some oil spilled into the nearby Latoritsa River. * Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT RAILS AGAINST CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, following the Constitutional Court's ruling earlier this week that decrees passed by the president in August contravene the constitution, has charged that the court itself is unconstitutional, NTV reported on 9 November. At a closed session with the incomplete new parliament, Lukashenka said he had information that the Constitutional Court has ties to opposition politicians. He also stated that the nine members of the Constitutional Court, which was not elected by the people, should not be allowed to pass judgment on legislation for the whole population. He added that he would take decisive action if the court did not change its ruling. Secretary-General of the Constitutional Court Leanid Litkau defended the court's decision, saying no member of the court is involved in politics or has any political ambitions. The court judges decrees only in accordance with the country's constitution and legislature, he stated. * Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN PREMIER IN ICELAND.
Tiit Vahi on 9 November met with his Icelandic counterpart, David Oddson, to discuss, among other things, the introduction of visa-free travel between the two countries, BNS reported. Oddson said his Foreign Ministry was working on abolishing visas between all the Baltic states and Nordic countries. Vahi presented a draft investment protection agreement. Iceland's investments in Estonia have risen this year from 1.5 million kroons ($131,000) to 5.2 million kroons. Vahi also had talks with president Vigdis Finnbogadottir, parliamentary speaker Olafur Einarsson, and Nordic Council President Solrun Gisladottir. * Saulius Girnius

TALKS ON FORMING LATVIAN GOVERNMENT.
Prime minister nominee Maris Grinblats of the rightist National Bloc and Latvia's Way coalition held unsuccessful talks with the Unity Party and the leftist Socialist Party on 9 November, BNS reported. Unity Party faction head Edgars Bans said the party would not leave the rival National Conciliation Bloc. The heads of the two largest factions in the NCB--Aivars Kreituss of the Democratic Party Saimnieks and Odisejs Kostanda of the Popular Movement for Latvia--refused even to hold talks with Grinblats. * Saulius Girnius

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT CLARIFIES POLISH PRESIDENT'S RIGHTS.
The Sejm on 9 November amended the so-called small constitution to state that the Sejm has three months in which to pass the budget once it has been submitted and that if it fails to do so, the president has 21 days to dissolve the parliament, Polish dailies reported on 10 November. President Lech Walesa earlier this year delayed promulgating the 1995 budget and threatened the Sejm with dissolution, arguing that the time he had delayed promulgating the budget should be subtracted from the three months allocated to the Sejm. * Jakub Karpinski

POLAND ON BOSNIAN PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS.
US Defense Secretary William Perry, speaking in Brussels on 9 November, said that countries not belonging to NATO that take part in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia cannot count on financial help from the alliance. Polish Ambassador to Belgium and the WEU Andrzej Krzeczunowicz, however, told reporters that Poland is ready to send a battalion, a field hospital, or a logistic unit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying Polish participation under the alliance's supervision is important for Poland's future NATO membership, Polish dailies reported on 10 November. * Dagmar Mroziewicz

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL IN POLAND.
Boutros Boutros Ghali arrived in Poland on 9 November for a four-day visit. Polish President Lech Walesa declared that Poland will support all UN actions but said "our further participation in financing peace operations cannot be expected" due to economic difficulties. Ghali came to Poland to hold talks with Polish politicians on country's duties as a non-permanent member of the UN, Rzeczpospolita reported on 10 November. * Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS RACIST ATTACKS BECOMING MORE VIOLENT.
Jan Ruml told a parliamentary seminar on extremism on 9 November that racist attacks in the Czech Republic account for only a insignificant part of all crimes but that they are becoming increasingly violent, Czech media reported. He admitted that the public frequently sympathizes with those who attack Roma. Attorney-General Bohumira Kopecna said the number of people prosecuted for racist crimes increased from 168 out of a total of almost 86,000 prosecutions last year to 239 out of 54,000 in the first six months of 1995. Parliamentary chairman Milan Uhde criticized a draft law due to be submitted by Ruml this month for its "clumsy" definition of extremism. President Vaclav Havel earlier this week also criticized the proposed law, as it lists environmental activists alongside skinheads in a directory of "extremist" groups. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO ACCUSATIONS.
President Michal Kovac on 9 November responded to accusations made the previous day by Igor Urban, chairman of the parliamentary agency overseeing the Slovak Information Service. Urban had said that Kovac may have misused his powers by seeking intelligence reports from the SIS. Kovac strongly rejected Urban's accusations, saying he was "deeply troubled" that Urban had suggested that the president had violated the law. Kovac said all he had done was ask for a report on SIS activities, to which he is fully entitled by law, Pravda reported. Also on 9 November, Kovac's son, who was abducted in August and is currently in jail in Austria, announced that he wants to enter Slovak politics after his case is closed. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES LANGUAGE BILL.
The Hungarian Civic Party on 9 November expressed concern about preparations for a demonstration outside the Slovak parliament on 15 November, when the controversial language bill is scheduled for discussion, Pravda reported. The demonstration is allegedly being organized by the government coalition in order to influence voting on the bill. Also on 9 November, the Democratic Union stressed its opposition to the bill. DU Deputy Chairman Ludovit Cernak, who previously served as chairman of the Slovak National Party, told reporters that DU deputies are not against a state language law; however, he criticized the current version, saying that under its provisions, the popular Slovak opera singer Peter Dvorsky would be prosecuted if he were to sing an aria in Italian. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PREMIER NOMINATES NEW LABOR MINISTER.
Gyula Horn has nominated Peter Kiss, administrative state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office and a fellow member of Socialist Party, as labor minister, Hungarian newspapers reported on 9 November. If his appointment is approved by the parliament, Kiss will replace Magda Kovacs Kosa, who resigned last month because of differences of opinion over the government's social welfare policy (see next item). Kiss is closely linked to the Socialist Party's left wing, which has become increasingly critical of government economic policy for neglecting leftist values and the party's election platform. * Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN CABINET ACCEPTS FIRST VERSION OF MODERNIZATION PROGRAM.
The cabinet on 9 November accepted the first version of a modernization program that includes preparations for meeting criteria for EU and NATO accession and a three-year economic plan, Hungarian media reported the next day. The cabinet also approved a legal harmonization program stipulating regulations for accounting, insurance, competition, consumer protection, and the banking system. Further, it decided that employers will have to pay full sick benefit for the first 15 days of an employee's illness. The original proposal was for employers to pay full benefits for 25 days. Former Labor Minister Kosa--fearing that if this proposal were implemented, employers would want to dismiss workers who were frequently sick--had advocated 15 days only. She resigned over this issue, and many other ministers threatened to follow suit if the government were not able to agree on a social welfare policy. * Zsofia Szilagyi

NEW TRADE UNIONS HEAD IN HUNGARY.
Laszlo Sandor on 9 November was elected president of the National Federation of Trade Unions (MSZOSZ), Hungarian media reported. Formerly vice president of the union, Sandor said the MSZOSZ will be somewhat different but noted that since all decisions are made collectively, there are unlikely to be any radical changes. Sandor replaces Sandor Nagy, who resigned last month because of differences with the government over leftist values and internal conflicts within MSZOSZ (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 October, 1995). * Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
TENSIONS MOUNT IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
International media on 10 November reported that Croatian troops have occupied part of the buffer zone formerly separating them from rebel Serb forces backed by the rump Yugoslav army in the Vinkovci-Nustar area behind Vukovar. A UN official told AFP that there was no fighting and that the Croatian move did not indicate that an offensive was under way. Reuters added that 350 men of the 3,000-strong elite Croatian Tiger Brigade were also seen heading toward the area. Other international agencies said the previous day that both Croatian and Serbian forces were massing and that, "in a surprise move," Belgian peacekeepers pulled out of their observation and control posts. Top Croatian officials have repeatedly said they would retake eastern Slavonia by force if talks fail. Serbian negotiators this week rejected international mediators' proposals and set conditions that Zagreb considers unacceptable. * Patrick Moore

KRAJINA REFUGEES SUFFER IN SERBIA.
The UN Security Council on 9 November unanimously approved a resolution condemning all violence in the former Yugoslavia. The bulk of the admonitions was directed at the Bosnian Serbs, who were urged to close detention camps and provide international monitors with access to suspected mass grave sites. AFP added that Croatia was told to respect the rights of Serbs in the former Krajina and to let refugees go home. The warnings to Zagreb reportedly came at the behest of Moscow, Paris, and London. Mlada Fronta Dnes on 10 November showed a photo of elderly Serbs near Knin receiving UN relief packages. Meanwhile in Belgrade, the Alternative Information Network said that Serbian refugees in Krajina who fled to Serbia live as outsiders and are terrorized by paramilitaries led by internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan." Many Krajina Serbs said they would rather go home, even if their houses were in ruins, than stay on in Serbia under such conditions. * Patrick Moore

MILOSEVIC SHOWS NO DESIRE TO COMPROMISE.
Reuters on 9 November reported that U.S. negotiators will hand over documents to the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian delegations at the Dayton talks that, it is hoped, may lay the foundation for a regional peace. But Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has already said that he will back no plans providing for the ouster of Bosnian Serb leaders and indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, Ratko Mladic before a peace accord is reached. Also, on 9 November, Vecernji list reports that Milosevic will continue to refuse to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, nor will he discuss the issue of human rights in Serbia. * Stan Markotich

BOSNIA, SERBIA TO RECEIVE GAS SUPPLIES.
Following a joint request by the presidents of Bosnia and Serbia for domestic gas supplies to be turned on "as a humanitarian exception" to the embargo, agreement was reached at the Bosnia peace talks in Dayton on 9 November to partially lift economic sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Reuters reported the same day. A UN committee overseeing sanctions met later in New York to discuss the issue but postponed talks for a day after one member said it needed instructions. * Daria Sito Sucic

WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INDICTS RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICERS.
Nasa Borba on 10 November reported that the International Crimunal Tribune for the Former Yugoslavia the previous day indicted three Yugoslav army officers for their part in crimes against humanity. Colonel Mile Mrksic, Major Veselin Sljivancanin, and Captain Miroslav Radic have been charged in connection with the slaying of 260 non-Serbian prisoners of war held in the Croatian town of Vukovar. On 20 November 1991 the victims were massacred behind a local hospital and their bodies concealed in a mass grave. The Belgrade daily observed this is the first instance of the court charging rump Yugoslav nationals with wartime atrocities. * Stan Markotich

MACEDONIA, UKRAINE BECOME MEMBERS OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
Macedonia and Ukraine on 9 November became the 37th and 38th member states of the Council of Europe, international agencies reported the same day. They are the 13th and 14th states from CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE to enter the council in the last five years. To fulfill membership requirements, Macedonian officials made formal pledges to guarantee human rights, and Ukrainian officials agreed to suspend and eventually eliminate the death penalty from the country's criminal code. Ukraine is the first former Soviet republic to abolish capital punishment. The council's legal and human rights committees are currently reviewing membership applications from Russia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. * Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN SENATE PASSES RESTITUTION LAW.
The Romanian Senate on 9 November passed a version of the restitution law that takes into account the Constitutional Court's objections to a version passed by the Chamber of Deputies, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. The Chamber of Deputies amended its original version to make Romanian citizens eligible for restitution even if they reside abroad and to allow owners of apartments taken over by the state without appropriate legislation to reclaim their property. The opposition considers the law too restrictive. Romanian media on 10 November reported opposition members as saying the vote in the Senate was a fraud, since among those who voted "yes" were parliamentarians on a visit to China and other absentees. The opposition says that without these fraudulent votes, the draft would have failed to garner the necessary support. * Michael Shafir

ROMANIA DENIES BANNING HUNGARIAN TV CHANNEL.
Romania's National Audio-Visual Council has denied banning broadcasts of the Hungarian satellite program Duna TV on cable network (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 November), Romanian media reported on 9-10 November. The controversial decision aroused strong criticism among Romania's Hungarian minority. * Matyas Szabo

NATO AIRCRAFT ALLOWED TO FLY OVER ROMANIA.
Romania and NATO have signed an agreement allowing NATO transport aircraft to fly over Romanian territory, Reuters reported on 9 November, citing the Foreign Ministry spokesman in Bucharest. The agreement was signed in Brussels last week. Mircea Geona said the agreement was "an important step towards Romania's integration into NATO." * Michael Shafir

WORLD BANK ON MOLDOVAN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE.
James Park, World Bank permanent representative in Moldova, said the country has made important progress in macroeconomic tightening, liberalization of trade and prices, and privatization, BASA-press reported on 9 November. In an interview with the government daily Moldova suverana, Park said that it was nonetheless necessary to introduce other reforms as well, especially in agriculture and the social sector. He said that if the reforms lost momentum, the "achieved results would be minimized." * Michael Shafir

BULGARIA PROTESTS TO ANKARA.
Bulgaria has protested to Turkey for what it called that country's diplomatic support for candidates of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms in the recent local elections. A spokesman for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said the activities of Turkish diplomats exceeded normal standards of diplomatic representation and could strain bilateral relations, noting that their activity can be interpreted as "an attempt to influence the outcome of elections," Reuters reported on 9 November. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms won about 5% of the vote in the first round of elections, which took place on 29 October. * Lowell Bezanis

ANOTHER BOMB ATTACK ON JOURNALIST IN ALBANIA.
Just six days after a bomb damaged the house of Koha Jone chief editor Nikolle Lesi (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 and 8 November), the car of the Albanian Radio and TV journalist Sami Selishta was destroyed by explosives in northeastern town of Peshkopi, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 9 November. The daily claimed that an "anti-media Mafia" was responsible for the attacks, but so far police have no leads on the assailants. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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