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Newsline - November 14, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 222, 14 November 1995
YELTSIN: ELECTIONS ON SCHEDULE BUT UNDER DIFFERENT RULES.
President Boris Yeltsin said he wants the Duma elections to take place on schedule but is also seeking to ensure that there can be no doubt about their legitimacy. In a conversation with his aide, Georgii Satarov, he made clear that he is concerned about problems with the electoral law and wants the Duma to approve corrections to it before the 17 December elections, NTV reported on 14 November. The Supreme Court and a group of Duma deputies have asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the 5% barrier for parties to enter the Duma. Making any changes to the law a few weeks before the elections will be extremely difficult since there are numerous parties with different interests involved. Rossiiskie vesti reported on 14 November that various deputy groups have come up with at least three different amendments to the law. Yeltsin has also requested that the Federation Council officially announce the date of the presidential election as 16 June 1996 to put an end to speculation that it will be postponed. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN REORGANIZES PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION.
Although he is still in hospital, President Yeltsin is moving to tighten his control over the often fractious process of policy-making in the Russian executive. Sergei Filatov, the presidential chief of staff, told ITAR-TASS on 13 November that Yeltsin had instructed him to restructure the presidential administration to create new directorates for foreign policy, civil service, and domestic policy. Each of the new directorates will be headed by one of the president's advisers, such as foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov. Also on 13 November, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev chaired an interdepartmental meeting on foreign policy, which included Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Federal Security Service Director Mikhail Barsukov, and other senior ministers. The meeting was aimed at coordinating the foreign activities of the Russian government, which has been criticized for disorganization in that area. -- Scott Parrish

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT EXPANDS VICTIMS' RIGHTS.
The Constitutional Court ruled that victims of crimes or abuse of power can appeal in court against a decision to close a criminal case following preliminary investigation, Russian media reported on 13 November. The court struck down a statute under which dissatisfied crime victims could only lodge a complaint with regional or national procurators, on the grounds that such a limit violates the constitutionally guaranteed right of all citizens to defense in court. Russian TV predicted that the court's decision will force investigators to be more conscientious, only closing cases for lack of evidence when there is real justification to do so. -- Laura Belin

DUMA CALLS FOR INTEGRATION TALKS WITH BELARUS.
At its 13 November session, the Duma passed a resolution calling for the integration of Russia and Belarus, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 14 November. The resolution called for President Yeltsin to dispatch a delegation to Minsk for talks on the issue, and recommended that a referendum be held in Russia on relations with Belarus. Meanwhile, on 11 November Sovetskaya Rossiya reported the results of a poll showing that 30% of Russians would vote for Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka if he could participate in Russian elections. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev would receive 10% support, while other CIS leaders would receive little support. In comparison, the paper noted, recent polls put support for Aleksandr Lebed at only 23%, while all other Russian politicians garner less than 10% support. -- Scott Parrish

MOSCOW HAILS EAST SLAVONIA ACCORD.
Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, the chief Russian negotiator in the former Yugoslavia, hailed the recently signed basic agreement on East Slavonia, Interfax reported on 13 November. Ivanov said the accord offers a "real chance" to avert a repeat of the refugee crisis caused when Croatia retook control of Krajina by force in August and demonstrates the "realism" of Zagreb and the local Serbian authorities. On the same day, however, Communist Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the Duma Security Committee, slammed President Yeltsin's recent veto of a bill proposing that Russia unilaterally exit from UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia and accused Croatia of carrying out a policy of "undeclared war" against the Serbian people. -- Scott Parrish

SIBERIAN COAL COMPANY HOLDS TRAINS HOSTAGE.
A Siberian coal company, Altaikoks, has held two trains and their crews hostage for four days to protest the railway's decision to cut it off from transport service, Russian and Western agencies reported on 13 November. More than 60 trains are backed up near the Altaikoks coal company in Zarinsk, due to the blockage. The railway said the coal company owes 13.6 billion rubles ($2.7 million) in transport costs, and refused further service until the debt was paid. The local trade union at the train depot in Barnaul said the situation at the Zarinsk-Kuzbass section of the railroad is disastrous. -- Thomas Sigel

ANTI-CRIME OFFICIALS MEET IN MOSCOW.
Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov met with the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, Robert Gelbard, in Moscow on 13 November to discuss ways to crack down on the spread of drug-related and economic crimes, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported the same day. Both Kulikov and Gelbard said that cooperation between the two countries must be stepped up to tackle the increasingly international reach of criminal organizations. Since 1994, police have reported 70,000 crimes connected to drugs in Russia. In September, U.S. police arrested 21 people of Russian, Armenian, and Egyptian origin accused of tax evasion, organizing prostitution, and distributing narcotics in the Los Angeles area. U.S. District Attorney Nora Manella said there are two groups with possible links to Russian organized crime groups on the U.S. East Coast involved in various illegal activities, including extortion and contract killings. -- Thomas Sigel

DEBATE OVER RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE.
While the government is celebrating the stability of the ruble's nominal exchange rate, commentators note that continuing domestic price inflation (4.7% in October) has led to a 50% real appreciation of the ruble since May (i.e., an increase of its purchasing power in dollar terms). Some industrialists complain that this is undermining the profitability of exports. However, Aleksei Varnavskii, writing in Finansovye izvestiya on 14 November, notes that exports are running at a level one third higher than in 1994. He argues that the ruble is still below its true value, and despite domestic inflation, the ruble will likely hold to its nominal value against foreign currencies and even fall to 4,300 to $1. -- Peter Rutland

BANKRUPTCIES LOOM IN ST. PETERSBURG.
St. Petersburg firms owe the federal budget 1.1 trillion rubles ($240 million) and local officials are preparing to declare the city's first bankruptcies, Kommersant-Daily reported on 11 November. The paper also reported that Moscow-based Menatep Bank is launching a court case to get control of Petersburgskii Tekstil, which has not repaid the 920 million ruble ($200,000) loan the bank gave it in 1993. Meanwhile, the textile firm continues to receive new loans from local banks, such as a recent 1 billion ruble loan from Astrobanka. St. Petersburg is not atypical. According to the Central Bank's deputy head of research, 16% of all commercial bank loans are overdue, Delovaya Sibir reported in issue no. 33. -- Peter Rutland



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 222, 14 November 1995
OPPOSITION CRITICIZES ELECTION VIOLATIONS IN AZERBAIJAN.
In separate interviews with the European Institute for the Media on 13 November, Musavat Party Chairman Isa Gambar and Azerbaijani Popular Front Deputy Chairman Asim Mollazade both characterized the 12 November parliamentary elections as "a significant step backwards towards authoritarianism." NTV reported that the opposition Popular Front estimated that only 15-30% of voters participated in the elections. Officials and unsuccessful candidates from both parties cited numerous examples of blatant violations of electoral procedures by representatives of executive power in rural areas. In some cases, physical violence was used against opposition candidates or observers. The Popular Front leadership expressed bewilderment at such "illogical" tactics by the Azerbaijani leadership, given that restrictions on the number of opposition candidates registered would in any event have guaranteed the pro-presidential Yeni Azerbaycan party 60% of the seats in the new parliament. -- Liz Fuller

ELECTION-RELATED DEATHS IN AZERBAIJAN.
Two individuals identified only as close associates of Kamil Gasanov, chairman of the Cultural Community of Kurds and a parliamentary candidate in the Lachin Kubatli district, were shot in a dispute over a vote cast by a person identified as Shamil Gadialiyev, Turan reported on 13 November. The latter reportedly clashed with the two men over his decision not to support Gasanov. Three other people were wounded. -- Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIAN PRESSURE ON ABKHAZIA.
In line with a Russian Foreign Ministry decision dated 30 August, Russian border guards will no longer permit Abkhaz passport holders to travel to Turkey, Interfax reported on 13 November. In the past, Turkey was the only country that recognized Abkhaz passports. The Russian decision noted that Abkhaz passports and visas will not be recognized until the ultimate settlement of its conflict with Georgia; an unnamed senior Abkhaz official told the agency that the step is in line with an effort to tighten a blockade on the region in an attempt to pressure its leadership during the Georgian-Abkhaz talks. -- Lowell Bezanis

EXPLOSION HALTS ELECTRICITY SUPPLY TO EASTERN GEORGIA.
A high voltage power transmission line blew up about 70 km west of Tbilisi and close to the border with South Ossetiya, Russian media reported on 13 November. A source in the Georgian Interior Ministry said anti-tank mines caused the explosion. The damage, which will halt the electricity supply to Tbilisi and eastern Georgia, is estimated at $155,000. According to Georgia's Energy Department, it will take about a week to repair the line. Meanwhile, heavy snowfall will exacerbate the energy crisis in eastern Georgia. -- Irakli Tsereteli

UZBEKISTAN RECEIVES EU GRANT.
The EU's "TACIS" program gave an $11 million grant to Uzbekistan, Interfax reported on 13 November. The money will help reform measures in the agricultural sector, particularly in the regions of Syrdarya, Samarkand, and Ferghana. The news follows an ITAR-TASS report on 10 November that the EBRD is working out arrangements to give Uzbekistan $50 million to promote foreign investment. The expansion is seen as part of a continued liberalization of Uzbekistan's economy, which has been based on a policy of avoiding shock-therapy strategies to this point. A bank representative noted that the credit would "strengthen ties between Uzbek banks and their foreign partners." -- Roger Kangas

CONTROVERSY OVER EXECUTIONS SHOWN ON KAZAKHSTANI TV.
The Russian human rights group Glasnost Foundation has criticized the Kazakhstani government for "exploiting the freedom of the press" by broadcasting criminal executions by shooting on state television, Ekspress-Khronika reported on 14 November. The documentaries on criminal executions with commentaries by the Interior Ministry officials shown on the State TV and independent channel Totem on 15 May and 25 September were sanctioned by the Kazakhstani president and general procurator. Kazakhstani Deputy General Procurator Garifulla Utebayev said that the screenings did not violate mass media laws and were aimed at "informing the public." -- Bhavna Dave

NAZARBAYEV, JUSTICE MINISTER CRITICIZE RUSSIAN MEDIA OVER GUNKIN.
A Kazakhstani Interior Ministry official told ITAR-TASS on 13 November that Semirechie Cossack leader Nikolai Gunkin was arrested for criminal acts which could "exacerbate interethnic relations in Kazakhstan." Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev warned that he will ask all Kazakhstanis to distrust the Russian mass media unless they begin publishing "objective information" on the country, Interfax reported on 13 November. Later at a press conference in the Kazakhstani embassy in Moscow, Kazakhstani Justice Minister Konstantin Kolpakov denied allegations by the Russian State Duma Committee on Relations with the CIS and Russians Abroad of "widespread terror" against Cossacks and Russians by the Kazakhstani interior forces. -- Bhavna Dave



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 222, 14 November 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH ETHNIC MINORITY LEADERS.
Leonid Kuchma met with leaders of ethnic minority organizations on 13 November, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAR reported the same day. He agreed to set up a temporary commission to deal with inter-ethnic problems in Crimea at the request of Refat Chubarov, a leader of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis. Chubarov asked Kuchma for his assistance in ensuring that the interests of the Crimean Tatars are taken into account when Kiev and Crimean authorities divide powers between them. Kuchma said he would consider the creation of a permanent presidential commission to maintain ties with ethnic minority organizations. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN, LITHUANIAN PREMIERS MEET.
Mikhail Chyhir and Adolfas Slezevicius met on 10 November in Hrodna to discuss ways to expand economic cooperation, BNS reported. Lithuania agreed to help Belarus send more goods to the West through its port of Klaipeda. A proposal to close some of the border crossing points used by only 10-15 people a day was rejected. It is likely that Belarus will purchase more electricity from Lithuania's Ignalina power plant, since Slezevicius agreed that Belarus could pay for it not only in cash but also in agricultural technology and fertilizers. -- Saulius Girnius

EU OPENS REPRESENTATION IN ESTONIA.
Guenther Burghardt, the director-general of the European Commission's foreign relations department, and Estonian European Affairs Minister Endel Lipmaa signed an agreement on 13 November to open an EU representative office in Tallinn, ETA reported. The exact date of the opening has not been set but will probably be in December. Also on 13 November, Burghardt discussed with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi Estonia's relations with Russia, possible financial aid for developing communications and transport systems, and problems in the republic's infrastructure. Burghardt arrived in Estonia two days earlier and held talks with Foreign Minister Siim Kallas and Education Minister Jaak Aaviksoo. -- Saulius Girnius

SMALL FIRE AT LITHUANIAN ATOMIC POWER PLANT.
A small fire occurred in the machine room of the nuclear power plant at Ignalina on 12 November, Reuters reported the next day. One of the pipes in the hydraulic system cracked and leaked a lubricant that ignited. A machinist put out the flames with a fire extinguisher even before professional fire fighters arrived. Officials say that the fire posed no danger to the environment and that on a nuclear safety scale of zero to six, it would rate a zero. The first reactor was shut down but was back in operation within 24 hours, following speedy repairs. Western experts are traveling to Ignalina to provide a safety upgrade since there were two other minor accidents in August. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.
With only another five days until the second round of the presidential elections, the Polish media continues to focus on the assets of the two remaining candidates: Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski and incumbent President Lech Walesa. Kwasniewski revealed his and his wife's assets on 13 November, asking Walesa to do likewise. Justice Minister Jerzy Jaskiernia and Kwasniewski's chief election campaigner, Danuta Waniek, have raised questions about Walesa's statement that his main source of income has been the $1 million he received in 1989 for the movie rights to his autobiography. They have queried whether Walesa has actually paid a 45% private income tax on that sum. Walesa initially mentioned that $500,000 remains in his possession and the next day he cited a figure of $300,000. Waniek asked what had happened within 24 hours to $200,000, Polish dailies reported on 14 November. -- Jakub Karpinski

CEFTA AGRICULTURE MINISTERS AGREE TO CUT CUSTOMS DUTIES.
Ministers from the four countries of the Central European Free Trade Agreement--Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary--agreed on 13 November to reduce or abolish custom duties on many agricultural goods, Hospodarske noviny reported. Meeting in Prague, the ministers signed an agreement to eliminate from 1 January duties on items such as some live animals, tropical and dried fruit, coffee, and tea. Duties on another 101 commodities--among them poultry, hops, sugar beet, margarine and vegetable oils--are to be reduced, while those on a group of so-called "sensitive items," which account for 55% of agricultural trade within CEFTA, will be gradually reduced through bilateral agreements. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT REMOVES ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL POWER.
The parliament on 13 November approved an amendment to the law on referendums authorizing the parliament, rather than the president, to decide whether the contents of a petition calling for a referendum meet conditions stipulated in the constitution, Narodna obroda reported. The amendment also removes the requirement that citizens' identification numbers appear next to their signatures. Jan Cuper of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) said the new version is "more democratic" than its predecessor. In spring 1994, President Michal Kovac rejected a drive from the HZDS for a referendum on early elections and other issues, saying there were not enough valid signatures on the petition lists. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar recently threatened to call a referendum to shorten Kovac's term in office. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK FINANCE MINISTRY CLOSES OPTIONS EXCHANGE.
The Finance Ministry has stripped the Bratislava Options Exchange (BOB) of its license to organize a public stock market and ordered it to stop trading as of 13 November, Pravda reported the following day. BOB Secretary-General Vladimir Karasek called the ministry's decision "unfortunate," saying it will damage Slovakia's entire capital market. The BOB opened in April 1993 and quickly became the most active of Slovakia's three exchanges following the introduction of one-day futures. These were prohibited in mid-October after a new securities law was approved, but U.S. options were introduced in an effort to revive interest in the BOB. The Finance Ministry reportedly wants to create conditions for a unified stock market in Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY WELCOMES CROATIAN-SERBIAN PEACE ACCORD.
Political State Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office Csaba Tabajdi, following separate meetings in Budapest with representatives of two ethnic Hungarian organizations in Croatia, said on 13 November that the Hungarian government welcomes the agreement between Serbs in eastern Slavonia and the Croatian authorities whereby the region is to be returned to Croatia. But at the same time, he said he shares the concern voiced by ethnic Hungarians in the region, Hungarian media reported. A Foreign Ministry official said Hungary also welcomes the intention--so far expressed only by Croatia--to guarantee refugees safe passage home. He added that Hungary will support the return of refugees to eastern Slavonia, just as it supported their arrival in the region. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN MONK'S REMARK ON "ALIENS" SPARKS DISPUTE.
A heated debate erupted in the parliament on 13 November over an anti-Semitic remark by Franciscan monk Othmar Faddy at a recent Smallholders' Party rally, Hungarian media reported. A guest speaker at the gathering, Faddy had called for "aliens" to be swept out of the country. The Franciscan Order dissociated itself from his remark, and most deputies said it was unacceptable that such a statement should have been made at a rally organized by a party espousing Christian ideas. Smallholders' Party leader Torgyan argued that Faddy had demanded only that criminals be forced to leave the country. Faddy told Nepszabadsag he was referring to those non-Hungarians who came to Hungary to destroy the country, such as terrorists and black market traffickers. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 222, 14 November 1995
HAGUE TRIBUNAL INDICTS BOSNIAN CROATS FOR WAR CRIMES.
The International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on 13 November charged six prominent Croats for the systematic murder of Muslims in central Bosnia's Lasva valley between May 1992 and May 1993. The key figures are the Croatian Democratic Community's Dario Kordic and Croatian Defense Council (HVO) General "Tihomir" Blaskic. Kordic also held the HVO rank of colonel and was vice president of Mate Boban's Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. The other four are a HVO brigade commander, the mayor and police chief of Vitez, and a prison warden. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 14 November reported that this brings the tribunal's total indictments to 52, including 45 Bosnian Serbs and seven Bosnian Croats. The International Herald Tribune quoted Hague sources as saying that they may have an indictment of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic "soon." -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS SAY KARADZIC WILL STAY ON.
The Pale leadership issued a statement to SRNA denying reports that its civilian and military leaders will resign in a deal to escape prosecution for war crimes. AFP on 14 November quoted the text as saying that "President [Radovan] Karadzic is president of the Serbian Democratic Party, a powerful political force, and even if he wanted to, he could not retire from politics because of his party obligations. The resignation of General [Ratko] Mladic is also ruled out and cannot be demanded by anyone from the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina or the international community." Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns noted that "there's no question in our minds that Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic, as leaders of the Bosnian Serbs, are responsible, individually, for the massacres at Srebrenica and Zepa, for the massacres at Banja Luka and for many, many other massacres in years past." -- Patrick Moore

CROATS WORRIED ABOUT EASTERN SLAVONIA.
Praise has come from U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as from Belgrade and Moscow, for the peace agreement on eastern Slavonia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 November 1995), but many Croats are not happy. AFP on 14 November reported that some refugees fear that Serbs who chased them from their homes will now be able to stay and consolidate their demographic and political positions. "Once more, we have been sacrificed by our president {Franjo Tudjman} ," grumbled one man. "He's the one that should be sent to live there with the Serbs who massacred us." Local Croatian kingpin Branimir Glavas told Reuters on 13 November that he sees trouble ahead if the Serbs try to establish their own fiefdom. Vjesnik reported the next day that the Serbs have pumped out at least half a million tons of oil from the area since they took it in 1991. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN RADICAL DENOUNCES MILOSEVIC.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung on 14 November reported that ultranationalist leader of the opposition Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Vojislav Seselj has denounced Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for presiding over what he called the greatest defeat of Serbia since the massive battlefield losses inflicted by the Ottoman armies at Kosovo Polje in 1389. Seselj was referring to Milosevic's recent role in the Dayton talks. He described the president's participation in drawing up a pact that may provide for transferring rebel Serb-held parts of eastern Slavonia to Croatian control as one of the "biggest-ever sell-outs" of Serbian national interests. Nasa Borba on 14 November quotes the SRS leader as suggesting that no part of Serbia is safe from Milosevic and that "next in line are the Republic of Srpska, Montenegro, Kosovo, Sandzak and Vojvodina." -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN OPPOSITION DIVIDED.
Nasa Borba on 14 November reported that recent efforts by the Serbian opposition Democratic Party (DS) to forge an alliance with the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) are floundering. The larger DS alleges that two mainstream "democratic" parties are fragmenting the electorate and thereby weakening the opposition vis-a-vis the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia. But Milorad Jovanovic, spokesman for the DSS, urged the DS to concentrate on unifying its own membership before talking about unity with other parties. Despite describing themselves as "democratic," both the DS and DSS have curried favor with accused war criminal and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. -- Stan Markotich

MONTENEGRIN JOURNALIST ARRESTED.
Montena-fax on 10 November reported that Vladimir Jovanovic, a journalist for the Montenegrin independent weekly Monitor, has been barred from leaving the country to attend a media workshop in Ljubljana. He has been detained on charges of having false documents. Reporters without Borders wrote a letter of protest to Milosevic in which they expressed the suspicion that Jovanovic has been arrested because of his statement suggesting that the attempted assassination of the Macedonian president was orchestrated by Serbian, Russian, and Bulgarian mafias, Beta reported on 11 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIA'S KING MICHAEL REFUSED ENTRY VISA.
Romania's exiled King Michael has been refused an entry visa to attend the funeral of opposition leader Corneliu Coposu, Radio Bucharest reported on 13 November. Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said Michael would be granted a visa only if he unequivocally recognized Romania's current constitutional order. Michael's wife, Ana de Bourbon Parma, and one of their daughters, Princess Margareta arrived in Bucharest the same day. Michael, who was forced into exile in 1947, has been allowed to visit his native country only once (in 1992) since the demise of the communist regime. -- Matyas Szabo

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN EGYPT.
Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 13 November began a two-day official visit to Egypt, Romanian and Western media reported. He met with his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, to discuss ways to boost bilateral political and economic relations. They also discussed the situation in the former Yugoslavia and the prospects for NATO's expansion in Eastern Europe. Iliescu is also scheduled to debate the conflict in Bosnia with the head of the Cairo-based Arab League, Esmat Abdel Meguid. Also on 13 November, Romania and Egypt signed three protocols on cooperation in foreign affairs, health, and labor. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa told journalists that Egypt hoped to double the volume of its trade with Romania to $1 billion in the coming years. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT, DEPUTIES DISCUSS LANGUAGE ISSUE.
Mircea Snegur on 13 November discussed with a group of deputies his legislative initiative to amend the constitution to state that the country's official language is Romanian, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Snegur rejected accusations that he was driven by political ambitions when he launched the initiative in April. He also made clear that he opposed the idea of a referendum on the language issue. Most of the deputies attending the meeting supported his standpoint and spoke out in favor of a compromise. -- Dan Ionescu

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON DELINQUENCY IN CHISINAU.
An international conference on crime and public security in the Black Sea region ended in Chisinau on 11 November, BASA-press and Radio Bucharest reported. The participants--who included including experts from the region as well as from Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S.--discussed the social problems that have arisen from "post-Soviet militarism." They also considered the risk of the region becoming a buffer zone between the Balkans and flash points east of the Black Sea. The participants appealed to the countries surrounding the Black Sea to create a regional security system. -- Matyas Szabo

INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO BULGARIAN TV BOSS.
An investigation has been launched into the activities of Ivan Granitski, director-general of Bulgarian National TV, Demokratsiya reported on 11 November. The Union of Democratic Forces has accused Granitski of repeatedly denying its representatives access to air time and has asked that he be suspended (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 October 1995). Deputy Prosecutor-General Vladislav Spasov confirmed that an investigation has begun, saying there is already enough material to prove Granitski violated the provisional statute on the state-run media. Granitski could be dismissed legal proceedings get under way. If convicted, he would face up to five years in prison. -- Stefan Krause

FORMER SUPREME COURT JUDGE LEAVES ALBANIA.
Zef Brozi, the former head of the Albanian Supreme Court, has left Albania for the U.S., the newspaper Albania reported on 14 November. In September, Brozi was dismissed by the parliament, despite the lack of a quorum. He was replaced by his deputy, Avni Shehu. Since then, Brozi has expressed fears of political persecution. Albania speculates that Brozi took the decision to leave the country after police surrounded his house on 4 November and confiscated his diplomatic passport. The paper also quotes him as saying that "the state is preparing something against me." Meanwhile, ATSH quotes Shehu as saying that the courts "have never before been more independent than now." -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST PRESSURE ON MEDIA.
The Albanian Association of Professional Journalists on 11 November issued a statement expressing concern about the frequent pressure put on journalists by the judiciary and other public bodies. The association reported cases of journalists who, it claimed, have been illegally detained by the police. It appealed to the government to take measures against the "repression on the freedom of press and journalists." In particular, the association mentioned Blendi Fevziu, chief editor of Aleanca, who has been charged with slander for linking the head of the State Control Commission to a corruption affair. It also charged that the police has not properly investigated the bombing of Koha Jone chief editor Nikolle Lesi's house (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 and 7 November 1995). -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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