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Newsline - November 13, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
YELTSIN REJECTS LAW ON FEDERATION COUNCIL.
President Boris Yeltsin refused to sign the latest version of the law on forming the parliament's upper house, citing "serious violations of the procedure for adopting the law," ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. Yeltsin's veto came after a meeting with Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko in the hospital. The upper house had vetoed the bill on 25 October, but the Duma was able to muster the 300 votes necessary to override the veto and forward it to the president on 27 October. Shumeiko has long called for extending the term of the current Federation Council and it seems unlikely that the sides will be able to agree on a new law before the current Council's term expires in December. The president wants to maintain the right to appoint some members of the Federation Council, while the Duma is pushing for them to be elected. -- Robert Orttung

CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES BEGINS REFERENDUM DRIVE.
The 10 November meeting of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) supported holding a national referendum on amending the constitution to strengthen popular oversight over the authorities. The movement set up an initiative committee to begin collecting the 2 million signatures required by law to call a referendum. KRO leader Yurii Skokov described the referendum as more important than the Duma elections, ITAR-TASS reported. Skokov said that the KRO now boasts 460,000 members in Russia. Deputy leader Aleksandr Lebed called for parliament to play the main role in reforming the military and ensuring social oversight over it. In contrast to KRO's 2 September congress, this one was open to the media. -- Robert Orttung

ORDER OF PARTIES ON BALLOT DETERMINED.
The Central Electoral Commission determined by random drawing the order in which the 42 registered electoral blocs will appear on the ballot, Russian media reported on 10 November. Women of Russia will be listed first, followed by Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava and several relatively obscure parties. More prominent contenders were not so lucky: Our Home Is Russia will be no. 17, Yabloko will be no. 19, Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats will be no. 23, the Communist Party will be no. 25, the Congress of Russian Communities will be no. 31, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia will be no. 33, and the Agrarian Party will be no. 41. (A complete list of the 42 parties on the ballot will appear in the 14 November OMRI Special Report on the Russian elections.) -- Laura Belin

PROTESTS OVER KAZAKHSTANI COSSACK LEADER'S ARREST.
Various Cossack communities, members of KRO, Pamyat, and other nationalist organizations in Russia demonstrated on 12 November outside the Kazakhstani embassy in Moscow to demand the release of Semirechie Cossack leader Nikolai Gunkin, NTV reported. Gunkin was arrested in Almaty on 28 October while trying to register as a candidate for the elections. The Cossack groups blamed President Yeltsin for his failure to take action against the Kazakhstani government's policy of "pushing out Russians," Russian TV reported on 12 November. They also threatened to liberate Gunkin themselves and "whip the unruly Kazakh leaders with lashes," if the Kazakhstani authorities fail to respond to the Cossack demands, NTV added. The Kazakhstani authorities claim that a criminal case has been pending against Gunkin since early this year and the fact that he was arrested while seeking registration in Almaty is a coincidence. -- Constantine Dmitriev & Bhavna Dave

DUDAEV NEGOTIATOR BLASTS ELECTION PLANS.
A negotiator for Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Akhmed Zakaev, on 11 November blasted plans to hold Duma elections in Chechnya on 17 November, Russian agencies reported. Zakaev told NTV that if the local electoral commission went ahead with the elections, it would provoke pro-Dudaev fighters to resume large-scale military action, adding that no elections should be held in Chechnya before its constitutional status is determined. Meanwhile, mediator Ruslan Khasbulatov again called for renewed Russian-Chechen talks but warned that fighting could resume soon if progress is not made on a political settlement. Sporadic fighting continued over the weekend as federal positions were attacked 29 times on 11-12 November, with particularly heavy attacks around the town of Bamut and in Grozny, Interfax reported. -- Scott Parrish

MORE THAN 150 DRUG-RELATED CRIMES REGISTERED IN CHECHNYA.
Police have registered over 150 drug-related crimes, seized nearly 100 kgs of drugs, and arrested 47 drug traffickers in Chechnya since the beginning of the year, the head of the Russian Interior Ministry anti-drug task force, Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Sergeev, told Interfax on 12 November. Sergeev said the majority of drugs is produced in the mountainous area of Chechnya controlled by pro-Dudaev rebels. The major general said that every hectare of poppies can produce up to 50 kgs of opium that can be used to make 5 kgs of morphine. One gram of morphine is divided into 10 doses priced at 20,000 to 30,000 rubles each ($4.42-$6.64). The rebels use the money to buy arms. Opium and heroine also make their way to Chechnya from Tajikistan and Afghanistan. -- Thomas Sigel

YETLSIN APPROVES NATO PLAN FOR BOSNIA.
The presidential press service announced that Yeltsin has approved the compromise command arrangements for Russian participation in the proposed Bosnian peace implementation force, which Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his U.S. counterpart, William Perry, hammered out last week. Yeltsin ordered the Defense and Foreign ministries to work out a common approach to the still unresolved problem of political control over the proposed peacekeeping force. -- Scott Parrish

STEPASHIN APPOINTED TO GOVERNMENT STAFF POST.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has appointed former Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Sergei Stepashin to head the Administrative Department of the government apparatus, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 November. According to an anonymous source in the presidential administration, in his new position Stepashin will oversee interdepartmental coordination among Russian security and intelligence services. Stepashin was sacked as FSB chief in July, along with Interior Minister Viktor Yerin and Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov, following the Budennovsk hostage crisis. All three have now been reappointed to posts in the executive branch. -- Scott Parrish

GAS PIPELINE SABOTAGED.
An explosion and subsequent fire destroyed 250 meters of a gas pipeline near Vladikavkaz in North Ossetiya on 11 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. The damage to the pipeline caused a temporary shutoff of gas supplies to Armenia and Georgia, but the flow was later diverted to alternate routes and restored. The explosion apparently resulted from sabotage and Georgian officials accused South Ossetiyans of causing it, according to ITAR-TASS. Gas and oil pipelines have frequently been targeted by combatants in the region's conflicts. -- Scott Parrish

NEW CENTRAL BANK CHIEF TAKES CHARGE.
In his first press conference, the new acting head of the Central Bank of Russia, Aleksandr Khandruev, signaled that he will take an active role in trying to deal with the liquidity crisis facing the Russian banking system. When asked to comment on his temporary appointment, he remarked that "temporary can become permanent," Segodnya reported on 11 November. The same day, Rossiiskaya gazeta suggested that President Boris Yeltsin is likely to nominate Khandruev to be the permanent head of the bank, describing him as a pragmatic professional whose "policies are close to those of Viktor Gerashchenko" (the former bank chief, who opposed former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar's monetarism). It now seems clear that Tatyana Paramonova did not leave of her own volition but was forced to resign by the government. -- Peter Rutland

HIGH PRICES FOR SUGAR, PETROL.
The prices of a number of commonly used goods in Russia have overtaken world prices this year, given the current exchange rate of roughly 4,500 rubles to $1, according to a report by the government economic center. Whereas in March the prices of 24% of goods studied by the center exceeded world levels, by September that proportion had jumped to 58%. The prices paid by enterprises for petrol and sugar, for example, were 78% and 68% higher than world market prices respectively, Izvestiya reported on 10 November. That situation occurred because domestic prices are still rising while the value of the ruble against the dollar has been held stable. By September, even electricity cost 2% more than the world average. The cost of a ton of crude oil, however, was still only 62% of the world price. -- Penny Morvant



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
REFERENDUM, ELECTIONS IN AZERBAIJAN.
Azerbaijan's parliamentary elections and a referendum on a new constitution took place on 12 November with a 79.8% turnout, international media reported the same day. Although preliminary results have yet to be released, the election has received sharp criticism from international monitors and leading Azerbaijani opposition figures barred from running. Four opposition parties (Musavat, the Communist Party, the Hope Party, and the Popular Democratic Party) were barred from participating and there was a greater number of parliamentary candidates who were denied registration than those who were permitted to compete. In related news, four journalists connected to the satirical samizdat publication Chesme who were convicted of insulting the honor of the president were pardoned on the eve of elections. -- Lowell Bezanis

DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST AZERBAIJAN'S CONSTITUTION IN TABRIZ.
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Tabriz, the main town in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, against what they called "anti-Islamic" changes being made to the Azerbaijani Constitution, AFP reported on 11 November. The demonstrations occurred after Friday prayers on 10 November and on the eve of Azerbaijan's simultaneous parliamentary elections and referendum on the new constitution. The demonstrations were allegedly called to protest the draft constitution's separation of state and religion and its failure to mention Islam as the country's national religion; protesters called on Iran to "reconsider relations with Azerbaijan" if the draft is voted into law. -- Lowell Bezanis

OPPOSITION MAY BOYCOTT NEW GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT.
The leaders of the Georgian opposition parties are dissatisfied by the results of the parliamnetary elections and are seriously discussing the creation of an alternative parliament, Interfax reported on 12 November. The results are controversial because even though many opposition parties did not overcome the 5% threshold, they in total received 62% of the vote. The three parties who will get the seats in the parliament won only 38% in total. The Central Electoral Commission announced also that the second round of the elections in single-mandate constituencies will take place on 19 November. -- Irakli Tsereteli

KAZAKHSTAN TO RECEIVE MILITARY JETS FROM RUSSIA.
The Russian government will provide Kazakhstan's Defense Ministry with 43 jets, including 21 MiG-29s, by the end of 1995, as compensation for nuclear warheads and strategic bombers withdrawn from the republic two years ago, Panorama reported on 11 November. Kazakhstan will receive another 30 modern military jets over the next two years, First Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin said at a press conference held to discuss the bilateral agreements negotiated during the recent meeting of CIS heads in Moscow. The creation of a joint air defense system and the lease of the Baikonur cosmodrome were among other issues raised during the Kazakhstani-Russian military negotiations. -- Vyacheslav Kozlov in Almaty

PAKISTAN'S PRIME MINISTER VISITS UZBEKISTAN.
On 11 November, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto paid a one-day visit to Tashkent to meet with Uzbek President Islam Karimov at the latter's invitation for talks on the civil war in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported. Karimov stressed the importance of keeping foreign powers out of Afghanistan's leadership decisions, Reuters reported, adding that at the same time, the war itself should be a concern for neighboring states. Meanwhile, Bhutto emphatically declared Pakistan neutral in the conflict, despite persistent claims by the Afghan government that her country supports the rebel Taliban group. Bhutto's trip follows on the heels of a visit by Foreign Minister Aseff Ahmad Ali to northern Afghanistan where he met with General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who maintains control of that part of the country. -- Roger Kangas

NO PROGRESS AT KARABAKH TALKS.
The latest round of peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended in Moscow on 12 November without recording any progress, Russian and Western media reported. The Russian co-chairman of the Minsk Conference for Nagorno-Karabakh, Vladimir Kazimirov, said the two sides had followed Russia's initiative to consider the problem of the strategic Lachin corridor which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, Interfax reported the same day. The proposal appears to provide for the demilitarization of Lachin and adjacent areas in order to turn the region into a safe "transit zone" for people and cargo. The next round of talks are scheduled to begin in Bonn on 22 November. -- Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT INSISTS ON REFERENDUM ON NEW CONSTITUTION.
Leonid Kuchma stepped up the ongoing war of words between himself and the Ukrainian parliament over political reforms during a weekend visit to Kharkiv. Ukrainian TV reported on 12 November that Kuchma said his version of the country's postcommunist constitution calls for a strong executive. He insisted that his version be approved in a national referendum. "If parliament doesn't agree to hold a referendum, then I will call one," he told Ukrainian TV. He said the left's proposal to abolish the Presidency and make Ukraine a parliamentary republic "would be a disaster." -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CRIMEAN TATAR DEPUTIES END HUNGER STRIKE.
Nine deputies from the Crimean Tatar caucus in the Crimean legislature have ended their 10-day hunger strike but vowed to continue to press their demands by staging acts of civil disobedience throughout the region, Ukrainian TV and Reuters reported on 12 November. The Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars' internal assembly, ordered Tatars throughout Crimea to begin a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience to pressure the ethnic Russian majority in the Crimean parliament for equal status for their language and greater political influence in the new regional constitution. Crimean lawmakers have conceded to some demands by adopting a proportional electoral system assuring them a share of seats in their 98-member assembly. They also voted on 11 November to exempt all Crimean construction firms--together with the Crimean Tatar charity organization Krym, involved in resettling Tatars returning from exile in Central Asia--from profit and value-added taxes. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BLACK SEA FLEET TO GIVE UP DONUZLAV BASE.
Admiral Eduard Baltin, commander of the Baltic Fleet, has ordered that all military units belonging to the Crimean Naval Base at Lake Donuzlav be disbanded by 15 January 1996, Radio Ukraine reported on 10 November. Komsomolskaya pravda reported in August that a secret directive had been issued to turn this base over to Ukraine. The base is supposedly the most modern one in the fleet, and the Russians have proposed that Ukraine base its navy there. -- Doug Clarke

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE COURT RULING.
Russian TV on 10 November reported that Alyaksandr Lukashenka will not recognize the Constitutional Court's rulings on parliamentary elections or the illegality of some of his decrees. Lukashenka said there will be no elections under the new law, which reduces the minimum turnout from 50% to 25%. He declared elections will take place only under the law stipulating 50% turnout. In other news, Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 November reported that Lukashenka has dismissed Industry Minister Uladzimir Kurenkau. The president had criticized Kurenkau for the continued decline in industrial production. Data from the Ministry of Statistics show that industrial production fell by 20% in the first nine months of the year, compared with the same period last year. -- Ustina Markus

VIETNAMESE DEPUTY PREMIER IN LATVIA, LITHUANIA.
Nguyen Khanh, on a visit to Latvia from 6-8 November, signed agreements with Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs on promotion and protection of mutual investments and on economic cooperation. Vietnam is interested in selling textile goods, fruit, and food stuffs and in obtaining chemical industry products and radio equipment. The two sides are also preparing an agreement on avoidance of double taxation. Khanh met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 9 November in Vilnius and with President Algirdas Brazauskas the next day, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA BEGINS NEGOTIATIONS ON JOINING WTO.
Deputy Foreign Minister Algimantas Rimkunas is heading a Lithuanian delegation that began negotiations in Geneva on 10 November on Lithuania's becoming a member of the World Trade Organization, BNS reported. At the first session of a working group, Rimkumas presented a Lithuanian memorandum on foreign trade and reported on the current state of the economy, the system of regulations for domestic and foreign trade, and progress in economic reform. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH JUSTICE MINISTER CALLS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL RULING.
Jerzy Jaskiernia has said he wants the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether politicians should also declare property owned by their spouses, Polish dailies reported on 13 November. He added that Democratic Left Alliance leader and presidential candidate Aleksander Kwasniewski had not given false information about his wife's assets but rather had "concealed the truth." The Prosecutor-General's Office in Warsaw said the decision whether to launch an inquiry into Kwasniewski's case will be reached before the second round of presidential elections on 19 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH INFLATION SLOWS, FOREIGN INVESTMENT GROWS.
Consumer prices in the Czech Republic rose by 0.6% in October, Czech media reported on 13 November. According to figures issued by the Statistics Office, prices were 8.1% higher than in October 1994, the lowest such comparative figure since economic transformation began. Inflation for the whole of 1995 is expected to reach 9.5%. Meanwhile, the Czech National Bank said direct foreign investment for the first nine months of this year totaled $1.98 billion. The bulk was accounted for by the $1.32 billion paid by a Dutch-Swiss consortium for a stake in the telecommunications firm SPT Telecom. Since 1990, direct foreign investment has totaled $5.275 billion. -- Steve Kettle

PETITION DRIVE LAUNCHED TO OUST SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER.
Robert Krajnak, a 35-year old beer distributor, on 11 November placed an advertisement in the opposition daily Sme calling on Slovaks to sign a petition to remove Vladimir Meciar. The full-page advertisement includes the headline "I was born under a totalitarian regime; I do not want to die under one." Krajnak needs to gather 350,000 signatures to call a referendum on Meciar's dismissal. Meciar's party--the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia--won 35% of the vote in last year's elections and remains the most popular party in Slovakia. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for fall 1998. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK PREMIER AT ODDS OVER LANGUAGE BILL.
Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn said Hungary will seek urgent consultations with the Council of Europe after no progress was made in talks with his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar on Slovakia's controversial language bill, Hungarian and Slovak newspapers reported. The two leaders met in Berlin on 10 November while participating in an international conference on European integration. Meciar stressed that the bill does not alter or affect the use of minority languages and that further consultations with Horn are difficult since the bill is now before the parliament. In other news, the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia and several other Church organizations have expressed opposition to aspects of the language law, Pravda reported on 11 November.-- Zsofia Szilagyi and Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN HEALTH WORKERS STAGE DEMONSTRATION.
Some 60,000 health workers demonstrated outside Hungary's parliament building on 11 November, demanding a 35% wage increase, a 10% increase in state funds for health institutions in 1996, and the possibility of early retirement, Hungarian media reported. Mihaly Kokeny, political state secretary at the Ministry of Welfare, told Nepszava on 12 November that the health workers' wage demands could not be met in the first half of 1996, and he proposed further negotiations. The health workers say they will stage strikes if the government does not guarantee a wage hike. The health workers are the third group to protest the government's rigorous stabilization program. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES NEW PLATFORM.
Jozsef Torgyan, the populist leader of the Smallholders' Party, on 11 November told a crowd of 10,000 at a Budapest sports hall that he expects early elections by next fall and that his party is likely to repeat the 1945 election victory of its predecessor, the historical Smallholder's Party, Hungarian newspapers reported. The Smallholders popularity reached that of the Socialists in September owing to growing popular discontent with the ruling coalition. Torgyan said his party's top priority is to provide an alternative to "the ransacking liberal-bolshevik power." As part of its economic program, the Smallholders' Party will examine the country's external and internal debts and release all relevant details once it takes power, Torgyan said. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
CROATIAN-MUSLIM AGREEMENT SIGNED.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Croatian counterpart, Franjo Tudjman, signed a new document in Dayton on 10 November. The pact will strengthen the Croatian-Muslim federation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was established with American mediation in early 1994. The alliance has proven highly effective in recent months on the battlefield, but results have otherwise been slim. There remains much mistrust stemming from the 1993 internecine war, and local kingpins on both sides are reluctant to share power. International media said that the new agreement allows for the return of some 100 refugee families from each side, the reuniting of divided Mostar, and the setting up of a customs union. Slobodna Dalmacija and Novi list reported on 13 November that Izetbegovic has ordered officials to begin work immediately on the return of refugees to Bugojno, Travnik, Jajce, and Stolac. -- Patrick Moore

A PEACEFUL SOLUTION IN EASTERN SLAVONIA?
International media on 12 November reported that representatives of the Croatian government and rebel Serbs in Croatia signed an agreement at separate ceremonies to return eastern Slavonia to Croatian control. The pact was drawn up by Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Dayton and mediated by U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith and UN negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg. Its 14 points provide for a transition period of one year, with a possible extension for another year; demilitarization of the region; UN supervision; local elections before the end of the transition; full human rights for all nationalities; and the right of all refugees to return to their homes and property. It comes into effect as soon as the UN Security Council endorses it. Galbraith said that the pact marks the return of the region's multiethnic character, but Reuters reported that local Croats are skeptical. -- Patrick Moore

DID KARADZIC TRY TO MAKE A DEAL WITH WASHINGTON?
German media on 13 November reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, have offered to leave public office in return for not being extradited to The Hague. The two internationally wanted war criminals reportedly made the offer through Milosevic in Dayton, but the Serbian weekly NIN was quoted as saying that U.S. diplomats refused it. An existing draft agreement on Bosnia's constitutional future would ban indicted war criminals from holding office. It is unclear whether Karadzic and Mladic have offered to withdraw from public life altogether. -- Patrick Moore

SHATTUCK PLEASED WITH BANJA LUKA TALKS.
John Shattuck, assistant U.S. state secretary for human rights, said after his 10 November talks with Banja Luka's mayor that for the first time, Bosnian Serb authorities have admitted to arresting Muslim civilians, some of whom have not been accounted for, Reuters reported the next day. He estimated that nearly 1,400 Banja Luka Muslims have been either arrested or taken to forced labor camps. However, he underscored that there is no evidence of mass killings in the area, unlike in Srebrenica. The mayor promised that Muslims and Croats wanting to leave the area will be allowed to do so and that their property will not be confiscated. Meanwhile, the UN sanctions committee has authorized rump Yugoslavia to import natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, and heating oil from Russia--on condition that the gas flow to Sarajevo not be interrupted, Reuters reported the same day. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER DIES.
Corneliu Coposu, chairman of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and a leading figure of the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania, died in Bucharest on 11 November at the age of 79, Radio Bucharest reported. Coposu, who spent more than 17 years in jail under communism, was considered a symbol of anti-communist resistance. In December 1989, he revived the historical National Peasant Party, which had been banned in 1946. The party later added "Christian Democratic" to its name to better define its political orientation. Western agencies reported that thousands of people paid their last respects to the PNTCD leader. King Michael, who lives in exile in Switzerland, has demanded a visa to attend Coposu's funeral on 14 November. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR CABINET.
The chauvinistic Greater Romanian Party (PRM) on 10 November announced it was withdrawing its support for the current cabinet, Romanian media reported. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, speaking at a press conference, criticized the government for failing to respect the commitments it made in 1992. He also demanded early elections in order to "heal Romanian society." The PRM, which used to be a member of a four-party coalition supporting Nicolae Vacaroiu's cabinet, was forced out of the alliance following Tudor's attacks on President Ion Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS BISHOP TOKES'S "ALTERNATIVE RECONCILIATION" PROPOSAL.
Ion Iliescu on 12 November rejected Bishop Laszlo Tokes's alternative proposal for Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November 1995), Radio Bucharest reported. He said that proposal, based on the South Tyrol model, led to the "extremist conclusion" that the only way toward reconciliation would be to grant autonomy to the Hungarian minority. Iliescu further accused Tokes of "systematically spreading lies about the situation of the Hungarian minority in Romania." Meanwhile, Bela Marko, leader of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, said Iliescu's proposal for reconciliation was not a serious attempt to resolve differences but was merely aimed at postponing a bilateral treaty between Romania and Hungary, Reuters reported on 10 November. -- Matyas Szabo

FORMER 14TH ARMY NOW ALL-RUSSIAN.
The former 14th Army stationed in the Dniester region of Moldova is now "fully Russian," according to Russian Defense Minster Pavel Grachev. Interfax on 10 November quoted him as saying that all the conscripts recruited in the Dnestr region have been dismissed and replaced by draftees from Russia. He added that the structures set up by former commander Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed that engaged in counterintelligence, intelligence, sabotage, and other such activities had been removed from the division. -- Doug Clarke

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WINS MAYORALTY IN SOFIA . . .
Stefan Sofiyanski, the mayoral candidate of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), won the run-off in the capital on 12 November, Standart reported the following day. According to several exit polls, Sofiyanski gained between 56% and 62% of the vote, while the nominally independent Ventsislav Yosifov, a banker supported by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), won between 38% and 44%. The Municipal Electoral Commission put turnout at 45%. Many media outlets had conducted a campaign against Sofiyanski; and on 11-12 November, 24 chasa and 168 chasa reported that Sofiyanski had been a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party since 1984. Sofiyanski denied those reports, saying the party membership card reprinted in the publications was falsified. -- Stefan Krause

. . . BUT SOCIALISTS WIN MOST MAYORAL SEATS IN PROVINCES.
According to preliminary results released by the Central Electoral Commission, BSP candidates won in 20 out of the 27 former administrative centers. In addition to Sofia, the SDS won in the Black Sea port of Varna and in the city of Gabrovo in runoffs on 12 November. It was also successful in Stara Zagora on 5 November and in the country's second-biggest town, Plovdiv, in the first round on 29 October. In Kardzhali, where a vote along ethnic lines had been feared, the candidate of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom beat the socialist candidate on 12 November. The Socialists also took the majority of the mayoral seats in smaller towns and villages. -- Stefan Krause

FATOS NANO DOES NOT WANT HIS CASE REVIEWED.
Albanian Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano said he will not participate in the review of his case by the Supreme Court, international agencies reported. Nano, in a letter to his lawyer, described the trial as a "farce" and added that "there is no more time to lose in such trials." Nano expects to be released from prison if the Socialists win the upcoming elections. Nano has three years left to serve after he was convicted of misappropriation of Italian aid funds. The Socialist Party claims he is not guilty and is a political prisoner. -- Fabian Schmidt

MASS GRAVES FOUND IN ALBANIA.
A mass grave containing the bodies of some 40 people has been discovered in the courtyard of a local radio station in Shkoder, Reuters reported on 10 November. The victims are believed to have been political prisoners killed over a 20-year period by the communist regime. Among them are thought to be those who led a revolt in 1985 in the Qafa e Barit jail and were later executed. Other mass graves have been found near Tirana in recent weeks. Albanian officials estimate that more than 400,000 Albanians were politically persecuted by the Communists and more than 7,000 of them executed. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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