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Newsline - November 15, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 223, 15 November 1995
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO CONSIDER DEPUTIES' INQUIRY ON ELECTORAL LAW.
The Constitutional Court has agreed to consider the constitutionality of the Duma electoral law, Russian TV reported on 14 November. A group of 103 Duma deputies say that the law contradicts eight articles of the constitution and should be changed before the December parliamentary elections. According to Vyacheslav Nikonov, a representative of the deputies' group, the fact that the law allows for half of the deputies to be elected by party list is a violation of the voter's constitutional right to participate in his or her government because party-list candidates represent the interests of their parties rather then those of the voters, Ekspress-Khronika reported. The court will also examine the rule that requires parties to win 5% of the popular vote to gain parliamentary representation (see OMRI Daily Digest 10 November 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya

SUPREME COURT ORDERS REGISTRATION OF ANOTHER PARTY.
On 14 November,
the Supreme Court ordered the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to register the Union of Russian Housing Industry Workers for the Duma campaign by 15 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The consequences of this order are not clear since the TsIK has already determined the order of parties on the ballot and the dates on which the parties will be given free broadcasting time. -- Robert Orttung

POLL SHOWS ONLY THREE PARTIES CLEARING 5% BARRIER.
A Public Opinion Poll conducted 26 October shows that only the Communist Party, Our Home is Russia, and Women of Russia would clear the 5% barrier if elections were held now, with support from 14%, 7% and 6% of those polled respectively. Such a result would inevitably mean that many voters would not have party representation in the Duma if they supported one of the 39 other parties that fell below the 5% barrier. -- Robert Orttung

TELEVISION CAMPAIGN FOR DUMA BEGINS.
State-owned television and radio stations in Russia began giving the 42 registered parties in the Duma campaign free air time on 15 November. Russian Public TV (ORT) had wanted to organize its broadcasts in the form of debates and round tables between the parties to make the presentations more lively and avoid "demagoguery and populism" according to ORT General Director Sergei Blagovolin. But the vast majority of the parties, including the Communists and Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava, demanded solo appearances instead. ORT announced on 14 November that each party would have its own air time. Television played a major role in Vladimir Zhirinovsky's success in 1993 and is expected to influence Russia's numerous undecided voters this year as well. -- Robert Orttung

ROMANOV ACCUSES CHERNOMYRDIN OF ILLEGALLY GIVING ORT MONEY.
Federation Council Deputy Peter Romanov accused Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin of illegally giving $10 million and 75 billion rubles ($16.7 million) to Russian Public TV (ORT) on 14 November. Romanov doubted the legality of the transfer because he considers ORT a private company. The state has a 51% stake in the station. Romanov said Chernomyrdin is using state budget money to buy advertisements for his electoral bloc, Our Home is Russia, Russian TV reported. Romanov is the director of a large Krasnoyarsk chemical enterprise and has participated in the nationalistic Russian National Assembly. -- Robert Orttung

SHUMEIKO OFFERS NEW PLAN FOR FORMING FEDERATION COUNCIL.
Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko proposed that the next Federation Council include the leaders of the local executive and legislative branches but said it should be left up to each region to decide whether or not the executive would be appointed by the president or elected locally. According to his plan, either the heads of the local branches or their deputies could join the upper house, ORT reported. The regions could also decide to allow the current Federation Council members, who were directly elected in 1993, to represent their interests. The members of the Federation Council did not initially support those plans, describing them as "undemocratic," and particularly objected to the idea of including two presidential representatives in the upper chamber as "illegitimate." Shumeiko's plan is unlikely to be more successful than the two previous versions of the law vetoed by Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung

KRO REFERENDUM TAKES SHAPE.
The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) is proposing that a referendum be held on the question, "Do you believe that the activity of the government should be evaluated according to the people's standard of living?" The idea for a referendum arose at the KRO's 10 November meeting (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 November 1995). The KRO must collect 2 million signatures to place the issue on the ballot, Radio Mayak reported on 14 November. -- Robert Orttung

GRACHEV MEETS WITH PATRIARCH.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev met with the Patriarch Aleksii II at St. Daniel's Monastery on 14 November to mark the 18-month anniversary of a cooperation agreement between the army and the Russian Orthodox Church, ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev said that liaison officers for cooperation with religious organizations will be stationed in military units. Meanwhile, a group of young Muscovites demonstrated outside the Defense Ministry to demand that Grachev be replaced by a civilian, Russian TV reported. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA DELIVERS SUBMARINE TO CHINA.
Under the terms of a bilateral agreement on military-technical cooperation, a Russian delegation, led by Admiral Valentin Selivanov, chief of the Russian Naval Staff, has handed over a newly-constructed "Kilo" class diesel-electric submarine to China at the port of Ninbo, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 September 1995), ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November. Russian and Chinese military experts dismissed speculation that Russian sales of submarines to China may change the strategic balance in the North Pacific. ITAR-TASS cited an official from the U.S. State Department who said that Washington does not think that such deliveries will significantly increase Chinese naval capabilities. -- Constantine Dmitriev

LOBOV CALLS FOR MORE SPENDING IN CHECHNYA.
Presidential representative in Chechnya, Oleg Lobov, told journalists on 14 November that financing of federal forces and reconstruction in the republic is totally inadequate, Russian agencies reported. Lobov blamed the Finance Ministry, which he said had delayed scheduled payments from the federal budget. As a result, he said, federal troops were dying for lack of necessary equipment and supplies. Lobov added that he would recommend the expenditure of 14.7 trillion rubles ($3.3 billion) from the federal budget on reconstruction in the republic during 1996. ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November that sporadic fighting the previous day left 6 federal servicemen dead. -- Scott Parrish

YELSTIN MEETS NAZARBAYEV.
President Yeltsin met with Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow on 14 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. During their televised meeting, Yeltsin angrily dismissed reports that he requires an operation for his heart condition as "foolish nonsense." The two presidents discussed bilateral and CIS issues, and Yeltsin told Russian Public TV (ORT) that he hoped Russian ties with Kazakhstan would develop "along the same lines as with Belarus." Despite the apparently friendly meeting, on the same day the Russian Ministry of Nationalities sent a letter to Kazakhstan protesting the recent arrest of Semirechie Cossack Ataman Nikolai Gunkin. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA.
Joining a chorus of criticism from around the world, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin sharply criticized the Nigerian military regime for executing nine political activists despite international calls for clemency, Russian and Western agencies reported on 14 November. Karasin announced that Russia would recall its ambassador from Lagos for consultations. The U.S., Great Britain, and several other Western powers have also recalled their ambassadors from Nigeria to protest the executions. -- Scott Parrish

JOINT U.S.-RUSSIAN VENTURE TO MARKET SPACE ROCKET.
The Russian association Energomash and the U.S. company Pratt & Whitney plan to set up a joint venture to develop and market a liquid-fueling rocket engine which they hope will be chosen to modernize the American Atlas booster rocket, Interfax reported on 13 November. The new RD-180 engine will be based on the RD-170 engine now used in the first stage of the Russian Zenith space booster. It will be built by Energomash in Khimki, near Moscow. The U.S. space company Lockheed-Martin will announce the winner of the Atlas contract in January 1996. -- Doug Clarke

MAFIA TIES TO LATIN AMERICA.
The Moscow organized crime gang known as Solntsevo is planning to organize large-scale drug smuggling from Latin America to Russia, Izvestiya reported on 15 November. Many Russian criminals have dual citizenship and some have acquired the status of honorary consuls to Latin American countries. The leaders of the Solntsevo gang have established close relations with the Russian diaspora in Israel, Austria, and the U.S. and are now turning to Latin America. Costa Rica is particularly attractive because it is a small, quiet, and economically stable country, according to the report. -- Thomas Sigel

ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY SEEKS DELAY IN CFC BAN.
Russia will ask for a four-year delay before it conforms to a global ban on ozone-destroying gases that takes effect on 1 January 1996, Izvestiya reported on 15 November. The Environment Ministry said it needs $600,000 and time to convert industry to ozone-safe methods that comply with the 1987 Montreal protocol on phasing out production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Industry in Russia is still emitting 90,000 tons of ozone-destructive gas each year. Scientists and environmentalists argue that ozone depletion results in increased cancer incidents and lower crop yields. -- Thomas Sigel

STORMS IN FAR EAST CAUSE EXTENSIVE DAMAGE.
Storms ripping across Russia's Far East last week killed three people, one on Sakhalin Island and two on the mainland, and injured dozens, Russian and Western agencies reported on 14 November. The hurricane-force winds caused $19 million in damage. The Kamchatka Peninsula city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii was hit hardest as some 200 families were left homeless and their apartment buildings were destroyed by the 10 November storms. -- Thomas Sigel

YELTSIN NOMINATES NEW CENTRAL BANK CHIEF.
President Boris Yeltsin informed the Duma that he is nominating Sergei Dubinin to be the new permanent head of the Central Bank, NTV reported on 14 November. Dubinin, 44, is an academic economist who served as acting finance minister from February to October 1994 and was fired after the ruble collapse on "Black Tuesday". He currently heads the government Commission on Credit Policy and is a deputy chairman of Imperial Bank and a member of the Gazprom board. Yeltsin's move ends speculation that Aleksandr Khandruev, who only last week was appointed acting head of the bank, would be a candidate for the permanent position. Dubinin's candidacy must be approved by the Duma. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and Budget Committee Chairman Mikhail Zadornov came out in support of Dubinin. However, he may be opposed by anti-reform deputies as he is seen as the most monetarist of the commonly mentioned candidates. -- Peter Rutland

EURASIANS DREAM OF ALASKA.
The weekly Russian Asia, published in Novosibirsk, wants to integrate Siberia into the global economy. To this end, it proposes reviving a 1906 project to build a railway tunnel under the Bering Straits, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November. The idea of linking Russia with Alaska by such a tunnel was postponed due to World War I. An equally implausible idea the paper proposes is to build a new 7,200 km railway along the northern Arctic coast. In the meantime, a new 640 km line is currently being built from Tynda (Amur Oblast) north to Yakutsk, an important center of mining activity. -- Peter Rutland



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 223, 15 November 1995
KAZAKHS, COSSACKS, AND RUSSIANS.
Recent media coverage of imprisoned Cossack Ataman Nikolai Gunkin prompted Kazakhstani government officials on 13 November to release a statement denying any discrimination toward the Russian-speaking community in the Central Asian republic, according to Interfax. Meanwhile, the Cossacks of Russia's Kurgan Oblast, which borders Kazakhstan, have sent letters of protest to both the Russian and Kazakhstani governments over the matter. The Cossacks say they are prepared to block roads along the border in order to obtain a solution to the Gunkin problem as well as to the larger issue of the Russian speaking population's rights. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK PRESIDENT IN GERMANY TO IMPROVE ECONOMIC RELATIONS.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov arrived in Stuttgart, Germany on 14 November to begin a three-day visit. An ITAR-TASS report of the same day noted that Karimov is scheduled to meet with representatives of several major companies, including the auto firm Daimler-Benz, and the shoe manufacturer Salamander AG. The latter plans to set up a plant that will produce more than 500,000 pairs of men's shoes per year, according to a Reuters report of 15 November. Germany remains one of the key investors in the Uzbek economy, with bilateral trade at over $700 million in 1995. Roger Kangas



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 223, 15 November 1995
LABOR UNREST IN EASTERN UKRAINE.
RFE/RL reported that 100,000 coal miners in eastern Ukraine went on strike on 14 November to demand the back payment of wages. Mykhailo Volynets, leader of the coal miners' union, said that 21 mines have already ceased operations and that all 62 mines represented by the union would eventually take part in the strike. He noted that the government owes coal miners some $150 million in back pay. UNIAN claims that many have not been paid since July. Deputy Premier for Fuel and Energy Vasyl Yevtukhov met with several deputy ministers on 11 November in an attempt to resolve the issue. -- Bruce Pannier

UKRAINE TO EXPAND OIL, GAS INDUSTRIES.
The board of the State Committee for Oil, Gas, and Oil Refining on 11 November approved a proposal to substantially increase oil drilling off its southern coast. According to an InfoBank report on 13 November, the proposal permits the drilling of almost 800,000 wells over the next 15 years in both the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. Costs over this period are estimated at $3 billion, while profits are expected to exceed $5.9 billion. The application deadline for companies interested in participating has been extended to 31 January 1996. -- Roger Kangas

UKRAINE MAY JOIN NATO'S BOSNIA FORCE.
General Vadym Hrechaninov, military aide to President Leonid Kuchma, told RFE/RL on 14 November that Ukraine is willing to have its peacekeepers join the proposed NATO-led Bosnian peace implementation force. Hrechaninov rejected Russian complaints about serving under NATO command, saying Ukraine would be guided by its own national interests. He added that Ukraine's international image would be undermined if it did not participate in the NATO force. -- Scott Parrish

ESTONIAN DEFENSE FORCES' CHIEF OF STAFF DISMISSED.
Defense forces commander in chief Lt. Gen. Aleksander Einseln on 13 November dismissed Col. Arvo Sirel as chief of staff and named air force chief Col. Vello Loemaa as his acting replacement, BNS reported the next day. Einseln also appointed Aivar Voronov to replace Lt. Col. Manivald Kasepold as Tallinn garrison commandant. The two dismissed officers were implicated in the sale of weapons illegally imported from Finland. -- Saulius Girnius

NO CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST LITHUANIAN PREMIER FAILS.
Following a five-hour debate, the Lithuanian parliament on 14 November voted in a secret ballot on a resolution of no confidence in Adolfas Slezevicius signed by 52 deputies, Radio Lithuania reported. The ruling Democratic Labor Party decided that its members would not participate in the vote and thus assured its failure. The vote for the resolution was 57 to five, with three spoiled ballots. A minimum of 70 votes is required for a no confidence vote to pass. -- Saulius Girnius

BELARUSIAN EX-PREMIER ACCUSES MEDIA OF DISCREDITING CANDIDATES.
Vyacheslau Kebich told a news conference in Minsk on 13 November that the media are being used to "politically eliminate" possible candidates for the post of parliament chairman, including the incumbent, Mechyslau Hryb, Control Chamber Chairman Vasili Sakovich, and Kebich himself, Interfax reported. Kebich said he is planning to sue Narodnaya hazeta for libel. The newspaper published an interview with an investigator from the Prosecutor's Office who alleged that in May 1994, Kebich signed 32 bonds totaling $1.1 billion that the Finance Ministry would have to pay out between 1999 and 2004. Kebich said this showed the "complete economic ignorance" of the journalists who ran the interview since only the Finance Ministry and National Bank have the right to issue such securities. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS AMENDMENTS ON ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW.
The Polish government has accepted amendments to the 1992 law on anti-corruption measures that, among other things, ban high-ranking state officials from economic activity outside agriculture, from employment in commercial companies, and from owning more than 10% of shares in those companies. Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Justice Bogdan Zdziennicki said there were gaps in the new draft. The obligation to declare economic activities will not apply to the posts of president, speakers of the Sejm and Senate, and prime minister, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 15 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

KWASNIEWSKI LEADS IN OPINION POLL.
The first opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP) between the two rounds of the Polish presidential elections gave Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski a 3 percentage point advantage over incumbent President Lech Walesa. 51.5% of the respondents intending to vote said they would cast their ballot for Kwasniewski on 19 November, while 48.5% declared their support for Walesa. A dozen Roman Catholic bishops have expressed their support for Walesa, having refrained from doing so before the first round. Walesa said that if the bishop's support had come earlier, "the race would already be over," Polish dailies reported on 15 November. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PREMIER IN FRANCE.
French President Jacques Chirac reassured Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 14 November that he supports the enlargement of the EU and NATO and that he regards the Czech Republic as a front-rank candidate for membership in both organizations, Czech media reported. "Chirac assured me that France is unambiguously for the expansion of the EU and NATO--even though sometimes . . . it appears that it is not," Klaus told reporters during a one-day visit to Paris. Klaus also had talks with his French counterpart, Alain Juppe, and OECD Secretary-General Jean-Claude Paye. The Czech Republic hopes to become the first postcommunist country to join the OECD, possibly by the end of this year. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES 1996 DRAFT BUDGET .
The government on 14 November approved its 1996 draft budget, which foresees a deficit of 27 billion koruny ($914 million), a minimum 5% growth in GDP, a 6-8% inflation rate, and a 13% unemployment rate. Maria Suranova, director of the budget department of the Finance Ministry, said real social expenditures will be higher in 1996 than in the previous year. Meanwhile, the budget of the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) will be increased by 47% to 759.6 million koruny, and that of the President's Office cut by 20% to 97 million koruny, Praca reported. The budget for the President's Office has already been substantially reduced this year, forcing the president to sack a number of employees. In other news, the parliament on 14 November adopted a controversial amendment to the law on prices allowing both the Finance Ministry and local officials to regulate prices of goods and services. -- Sharon Fisher

POLICE INVESTIGATING ABDUCTION OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON CLEARED OF CHARGES.
Pavol Zajac, director of the police force's Office of Inspection Services, told Slovak Radio on 14 November that Jaroslav Simunic and Peter Vacok did not commit any criminal offenses while investigating the kidnapping of Michal Kovac Jr. Simunic and Vacok were dismissed after linking the Slovak Information Service (SIS) to the kidnapping. In late September, SIS director Ivan Lexa, who is a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, brought charges against Simunic and Vacok as well as other policemen, accusing them of using "psychological pressure" against SIS agents. Zajac said Simunic committed a disciplinary offense but noted that he cannot be punished because he quit the police force at the end of September. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES CONTROVERSIAL CUSTOMS BILL.
A customs bill strongly criticized by foreign investors was unanimously passed by the Hungarian parliament on 14 November, Hungarian media reported. The new law--which aims to bring the country's customs procedures in line with EU standards--imposes higher duties on imported goods. American investors had opposed the bill, saying it could slow down technological progress and disrupt long-term investment plans. They added that if it passed, the level of active capital flowing into Hungary would likely drop. And they also found it alarming that the Hungarian authorities had failed to consult or inform them beforehand. Until now, Hungarian customs procedures and tariffs were regulated by decrees passed in 1966 and 1976, respectively. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 223, 15 November 1995
CROATIAN PRESIDENT PROMOTES INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL.
One day after the International War Crimes Tribunal indicted General Tihomir Blaskic for atrocities against the Muslims of the Lasva valley, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's office announced his appointment as a staff member of the Croatian army's main inspectorate. Western news agencies on 14 November reported reactions from Croatia, Bosnia, and elsewhere that ranged from shock and incredulity to confirmation of old beliefs that Tudjman is arrogant and lacking in common political sense. Reuters quoted an unnamed Bosnian official as saying that the court will have to turn to "Croatia now and it will be up to them to hand [Blaskic] over to the tribunal or face international sanctions." It remains to be seen what effect Blaskic's promotion will have on Zagreb's relations with Sarajevo, Washington, and Bonn. -- Patrick Moore

ARE THE SERBS BACK-PEDALING ON EASTERN SLAVONIA?
Many Croats suspect that latest agreement on eastern Slavonia is flawed and that the Serbs will put their own interpretation on it, as they did with Cyrus Vance's plan for occupied Croatia in early 1992. AFP on 14 November reported that the Slavonian Serbs indeed appear to feel that the agreement gives them the right to decide whether to return to Croatian sovereignty at the end of two years. Zagreb's interpretation closely reflects the text itself, which views the sovereignty question as closed and provides for a one-year transition with a possible one-year extension and for local elections but not a referendum. Meanwhile in Dayton, U.S., Secretary of State Warren Christopher has returned for what is seen as a last-ditch attempt to save the peace talks, which are deadlocked primarily on territorial questions and the status of Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore

IMF MISSION IN SARAJEVO, CENTRAL BANK TO INTRODUCE CURRENCY.
An IMF mission arrived in Sarajevo on 13 November for a 10-day visit to assess the economic situation there and to provide assistance in drafting the 1996 budget, Hina reported the same day. IMF and World Bank officials have said that the Muslim-Croat federation will receive credits from them only if it adopts a common budget, establishes a joint central bank and currency, and agrees to service its share of the former federal Yugoslav debt. Meanwhile, Bosnian Central Bank governor Rasim Omicevic announced plans to establish a national currency in the coming months, Reuters reported on 10 November. He favors broadening the use of the existing Bosnian dinar rather than introducing a new currency. The Bosnian dinar has been stable for several months against the German mark owing to tight monetary policy. -- Michael Wyzan

CROATIAN ELECTION FINAL RESULTS.
Croatian media on 14 November reported that the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) will have 75 of the 127 seats in the new lower house or Sabor. The HDZ was greatly aided by Tudjman's capitalizing on the army's successes and by the addition of 12 seats that were elected by Croats in Bosnia and elsewhere abroad, as well as by the government's control of the electronic and much of the print media. The HDZ nonetheless failed to get a two-thirds majority to be able to change the constitution. An opposition coalition took 16 seats, the Liberals 12, the former Communists 10, the Croatian Party of [Historic] Rights four, the regional Istrian party two, and the Independent Democrats one. The remaining seven seats went to the ethnic minorities, including three for the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE ON ZAGREB MAYOR'S RACE.
Leaders of the seven opposition parties that in recent elections won 64% of seats in Zagreb's City Assembly and a majority of seats in the District Assembly have signed a cooperation agreement. Vecernji List reported on 15 November that they have agreed to nominate joint candidates for top posts. Goran Granic from the Liberals will run for mayor and district head, and Zdravko Tomac from the Party of Democratic Changes is the candidate for the president of both the city and district assemblies. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CONFIDANT OF ACCUSED SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL JAILED.
Zoran Macai, friend and confidante of accused war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan," has been found guilty of inciting murder in Hungary and has received a 10-year sentence, international media reported on 14 November. Macai, who was tried in the Serbian town of Subotica, served as a camp commander in rebel-Serb occupied Croatia. The same day, Marinko Magda, a professional killer, was sentenced to death for six murders committed in the province of Vojvodina. Magda is currently serving a life sentence in Hungary and was tried in absentia. Four other defendants, also believed to members of Arkan's notorious paramilitary Tigers, received lengthy jail terms but are expected to appeal them. -- Stan Markotich

MACEDONIA BECOMES MEMBER OF PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE.
Macedonia on 15 November became the 27th member of the Partnership for Peace program, MIC reports. Macedonia has engaged in military cooperation with the US since 1994 and U.S. soldiers participated in a joint military exercise for the first time on 9 November. More Maneuvers are scheduled for March 1996. U.S. troops are present in Macedonia as a contingent of UN peacekeeping troops since December 1992. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER'S FUNERAL DRAWS HUGE CROWDS.
Some 100,000 people on 14 November attended the funeral of Corneliu Coposu, chairman of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, who died on 11 November, Romanian and Western media reported. The crowd filed past Coposu's coffin on Revolution Square. Some mourners booed Senate speaker and chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania Oliviu Gherman when he spoke at the ceremonies instead of Romanian President Ion Iliescu, who was on an official visit in Egypt. Ana of Bourbon-Parma, the wife of Romania's exiled King Michael, also attended the funeral and was greeted by well-wishers who shouted pro-monarchist slogans. Coposu spent 17 years in communist jails and was seen as a symbol of anti-communist resistance. -- Dan Ionescu

SENIOR BRITISH OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA.
Sir Nicholas Bonsor, minister of state at the British Foreign Ministry, on 13 November arrived in Romania to discuss boosting bilateral trade, Radio Bucharest reported. Bonsor met with Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu to discuss the extension of the EU, NATO expansion, and British-Romanian cooperation within the new world context. The next day, he participated in a seminar entitled "The Day of British Trade." He also signed a bilateral agreement on confiscating revenues accrued from illegal transactions, such as drug trafficking. -- Matyas Szabo

OSCE EXTENDS MANDATE IN MOLDOVA.
The OSCE has decided to extend its mandate in Moldova by six months, BASA-press reported on 14 November. The decision was taken on 9 November at an OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna. Michael Wygant, head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, told Deputy Foreign Minister Ion Capatana that the participants in the Vienna meeting discussed the implementation of the Moldovan-Russian agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Moldova. He was quoted as saying that the vast majority of the OSCE member countries support Moldova's stance on the issue. -- Dan Ionescu

HUGE NEW LOSSES AT BULGARIAN BANKS.
Losses of Bulgarian banks in the first six months of 1995 were up 402% on the same period last year, Demokratsiya reported on 15 November. The government is resisting pressure from the IMF and World Bank to close the two most troubled state banks, Mineralbank and Stopanska Banka, although it is considering creating a "hospital bank" in which bad debt would be consolidated. However, such a step would cause problems for the upcoming mass privatization campaign and may lead to a chain reaction of enterprise bankruptcies, according to Deputy Prime Minister Rumen Gechev. -- Michael Wyzan

ALBANIAN FORMER SUPREME COURT JUDGE'S ARREST "APPEARED IMMINENT."
According to international news agencies, Zef Brozi left Albania for the U.S. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1995) to avoid imprisonment. Justice Ministry officials reportedly charged Brozi with spending $100,000 in public funds on a new car, office furniture, and foreign visits. Koha Jone on 15 November reported that Brozi had received a Fulbright stipend but that the real reason for his leaving the country was to prevent his arrest. Observers, doubt the validity of the charges against Brozi and presume that the accusations are aimed at legitimizing his dismissal under dubious circumstances in September. Brozi is quoted as saying: "I am very grateful to the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassy in Tirana for standing by me in these very difficult conditions." -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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