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Newsline - November 20, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 226, 20 November 1995
DUMA PASSES FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW.
In a third attempt to reach agreement with President Boris Yeltsin, the Duma voted on 17 November by 263 to 27 to approve a draft law on the formation of the parliament's upper house, Russian and Western agencies reported. Under the bill, the chamber will include the heads of the executives and legislatures of Russia's 89 regions, but the governors must be elected by December 1996. The previous version had called for gubernatorial elections before the June 1996 presidential elections (see OMRI Daily Digest 12 October). The change is a concession to Yeltsin, who signed a decree on 17 September calling elections in December 1996 for all the governors he had appointed (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 September). Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said that he had shown the new draft to Yeltsin in the hospital and that the president's reaction was positive. -- Robert Orttung

IT'S FINAL: 43 PARTIES TO COMPETE FOR DUMA.
The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) has approved the party-list ballot, which includes 43 parties, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 November. The ballot will be printed on a sheet of paper the size of a newspaper. The Supreme Court denied the appeals of the Union of Patriots, Our Future, the Russian Union of Muslims, and the Assembly of the Land to overturn the TsIK's earlier decisions rejecting their registration. -- Robert Orttung

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DECLARE THEMSELVES.
Stanislav Govorukhin, film director and leader of his own electoral bloc, announced on 17 November that he would run for president in 1996, Ekho Moskvy reported. Govorukhin said his previous statements that he had no intention of running were made in jest, according to Radio Mayak. Meanwhile, NTV reported on 19 November that Yurii Skokov, number one
on the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) list, had told close advisors that he intends to run for the presidency next summer. The report could damage his alliance with Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed, deputy leader of the KRO, who also has presidential ambitions. Lebed unexpectedly cut short a campaign trip in southern Russia to return to Moscow on 17 November. -- Anna Paretskaya

COURTS SAID TO LIMIT PRESS FREEDOM DESPITE GOOD MEDIA LAWS.
Although the constitution and the Law on the Mass Media protect the press against censorship in theory, in practice court decisions substantially limit journalists' freedom to criticize public figures, according to participants at a 17 November roundtable sponsored by the Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Moscow. Maks Khazin, who represents Izvestiya in legal disputes, said several libel suits brought and won by politicians have had a chilling effect on press freedom. Several speakers, including Glasnost Defense Foundation chairman Aleksei Simonov, noted that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's recent court victory over Moskovskii komsomolets journalist Vadim Poegli (see OMRI Daily Digest,
30 October) also set a dangerous precedent. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

ELECTION UPROAR CONTINUES IN CHECHNYA.
On 18 November the self-proclaimed Chechen Supreme Soviet approved plans to hold elections on 17 December for the Chechen head of state, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Supreme Soviet did not, however, endorse holding Duma elections on the same day, saying that should be decided by federal authorities. Movladi Udugov, a spokesman for separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev, warned on 17 November that participation in the elections would be regarded as "treason" by pro-Dudaev forces and punished according to "wartime realities." In a rare public appearance near Urus-Martan, only 20 km from Grozny, Dudaev on 18 November threatened that the planned elections could have "sweeping consequences" in Russia. -- Scott Parrish

BOMB ATTACK MISSES ZAVGAEV.
An attempt was made to assassinate the head of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, Doku Zavgaev, on 20 November, Russian agencies reported. A large bomb was detonated on a sidewalk in central Grozny as Zavgaev's motorcade passed by, and snipers then raked the vehicles with automatic weapons fire from nearby roofs. The motorcade was able to escape the ambush, and Zavgaev was unhurt, although five of his bodyguards were wounded, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Scott Parrish

KOZYREV WELCOMES CFE PLEDGE.
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 18 November welcomed a statement by the 30 signatories of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty pledging to try harder to resolve Russia's objections to the so-called "flanks" limits, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia has more military equipment in the North Caucasus Military District than is allowed by the treaty, whose terms formally became binding on 17 November. "This decision corresponds to Russia's line on adhering to the CFE treaty," Kozyrev said, "while taking into account the interests of our country under new conditions." Russian ambassador to Georgia Vladimir Zemskii and Georgian First Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Ukleba have discussed the possibility of temporarily deploying in Georgia some of the excess Russian military hardware from the North Caucasus Military District, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 November." -- Doug Clarke and Liz Fuller

PRIME MINISTER SAYS GOVERNMENT TO PAY DEBTS TO MILITARY.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 17 November told Russia's top military commanders that the government had decided to pay out all overdue budget allocations to the Defense Ministry, Interfax reported. He said the step would cost about 2.6 trillion rubles ($575 million). Defense Minister Grachev welcomed Chernomyrdin's statement and promised to urge service personnel to vote for the prime minister's party in the upcoming elections. -- Doug Clarke

DUMA PASSES SECOND PART OF CIVIL CODE.
The second part of Russia's Civil Code, which regulates the legal aspects of economic relations, was approved by the Duma in its first reading on 17 November by 295 votes to 47, ITAR-TASS reported. The first part of the new code came into force a year ago; the Soviet-era code, adopted in 1964, also remains in force for the time being. -- Penny Morvant

TWO MORE CONTRACT KILLINGS IN MOSCOW.
A local government official and the president of the Stinolneftegaz oil company were shot dead in separate incidents in Moscow on 17 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. Crime has risen by more than 10% this year in comparison with 1994. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE PROTECTING INVESTORS.
President Yeltsin signed a decree on 17 November instructing the government to come up with a plan to compensate defrauded investors, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. A special fund will be established, with funds raised through sales of bankrupt companies' assets. The decree appears to be vague on specifics and does not satisfy the demands of defrauded investors, who are estimated to number from 20 to 40 million. Mikhail Shevtsov, addressing the first congress of the All-Russian Union of Investors in Moscow, claimed that 2,000 companies had cheated investors, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 November. He said that 2 million investors have formed 500 groups to reclaim their assets. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told Russian Public TV on 18 November that investor groups will be directly involved in running local compensation funds. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland

FIRST EQUITY/LOAN AUCTIONS HELD.
On 17 November the first two auctions were held under a government scheme to swap federally owned shareholdings in return for loans. Euroresursy won 15% of the shares in the Nafta Moskva company by offering a $35 million loan, while Oneksimbank gained 38% of the shares of Norilsk Nickel with a $170 million loan, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 November. Kommersant-Daily had reported on 11 November that Oneksimbank itself was in charge of running the auctions. The loan scheme was devised to get around the parliament's refusal to approve a bill on the sale of federal shares. On 11 November Yeltsin vetoed a bill that gave parliament control over the disposition of federal shares, and on 15 November Interfax reported that the Federation Council overrode the veto. -- Peter Rutland



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 226, 20 November 1995
SECOND ROUND OF GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
The second round of parliamentary elections in single-mandate constituencies took place in Georgia on 19 November, Russian TV reported. The turnout was not as high as in the first round on 5 November, and international observers and representatives of the Central Electoral Commission registered no major violations. Of the 147 deputies who won seats on 5 November, 91 represent the Union of Citizens of Georgia, led by Eduard Shevardnadze; 31 belong to the National Democratic Party, led by Irina Sarishvili; and 25 to the All-Georgia Union for Revival, led by the head of the autonomous republic of Adzharia, Aslan Abashidze. The inauguration of Shevardnadze, elected president on 5 November, and the swearing in of the new parliament will take place on 26 November. -- Irakli Tsereteli

UZBEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN SAUDI ARABIA.
Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov arrived in Riyadh on 18 November for a series of meetings with Saudi government officials, ITAR-TASS reported. Komilov and Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal signed a general agreement on cooperation, covering issues ranging from trade and cultural exchanges to the official opening of a Saudi embassy in Tashkent, scheduled for early 1996. In an interview with the Egyptian news agency MENA, Komilov stressed that such agreements are between equal states, declaring that Uzbekistan will not tolerate the policies of Islamic powers that wish to "extend their influence" in Central Asia. The same, he noted, applies to Russian policies as well. -- Roger Kangas

NEXT ROUND OF TAJIK TALKS SCHEDULED FOR 30 NOVEMBER.
The Tajik government announced on 18 November that it is prepared to send a delegation to Ashgabat to meet representatives of the opposition on 30 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. The fifth round of talks was initially scheduled for 18 September but has been repeatedly postponed because of disagreements over venue and agenda. Fighting in the Garm region, 240 km east of Dushanbe, has seen 54 government soldiers captured and 50-60 killed since October, -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL RACE TO HAVE 13 CANDIDATES.
The Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission said on 18 November that 13 candidates have been nominated for the presidential election scheduled for 24 December, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. To complete the registration process candidates must hand in lists of 50,000 signatures from voters by 3 December. The current president, Askar Akayev, has already met this requirement, turning in 800,000 signatures. -- Bruce Pannier

REGISTRATION COMPLETED FOR KAZAKHSTANI ELECTIONS.
Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission head Yurii Kim told Interfax on 17 November that the registration of candidates for the country's parliamentary elections in early December has been completed. Indirect elections to the 47-seat Senate (upper house) will be held on 5 December, and the 67-seat Majlis (lower house) will be elected by popular vote on 9 December. Among the pro-government parties, the Party for National Unity has nominated 38 candidates, the Democratic Party 22, the Cooperation Party 15, and the National Rebirth Party 5. From the opposition, the communists have fielded 9 candidates and the People's Congress Party 8. Other opposition groups are boycotting the elections. -- Bhavna Dave

DUMA EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RUSSIANS IN KAZAKHSTAN.
The Russian Duma has issued a statement expressing "deep concern" over "violations of the rights of ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan," ITAR-TASS reported on 17 November. It demanded the release of the "illegally arrested" Semirechie Cossack leader Nikolai Gunkin and called on President Yeltsin and the Russian government to protect the rights of Russians in Kazakhstan. Radio Rossii on 19 November reported that Cossack groups in Russia's Kurgan Oblast threatened to mount an economic blockade of the border and called for the suspension of diplomatic relations between the two countries. -- Bhavna Dave

TURKMENISTAN TO SUPPLY GAS TO UKRAINE.
The newly established Russian-Turkmen natural gas company Turkmenrosgaz will supply 23 billion cubic meters of gas to Ukraine in 1996, Interfax reported on 17 November. The agreement was reached during a visit to Ashgabat by a Ukrainian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenk. As part of an education cooperation agreement, Turkmenistan will send 200 students to Ukrainian military academies for training. -- Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 226, 20 November 1995
KWASNIEWSKI'S VICTORY PREDICTED IN POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
According to preliminary results released by the Public Opinion Research Center, Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski received 51.4% of the vote and incumbent President Lech Walesa 48.6% in the second round of the Polish presidential elections on 19 November. These results are based on a sample of 1,150 election precincts. Turnout was put at 68%. Kwasniewski appealed for collaboration between his and Walesa's supporters, while Walesa thanked his constituency and refrained from reading a prepared statement. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski announced his resignation and said that the ministers of internal and foreign affairs, Andrzej Milczanowski and Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, would also resign. The holders of these three portfolios are appointed after consultations with the president. The official results are expected to be announced later today. -- Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES TO SPEED UP ECONOMIC REFORMS.
Leonid Kuchma told a Kiev news conference on 18 November that Ukraine will step up structural reforms and bring down rising inflation, international agencies reported. Progress toward free market reforms in Ukraine has been hampered by the slow pace of privatization and a recent loosening of fiscal policy to support ailing state enterprises. The Ukrainian leader said he would aim to lower monthly inflation from 9.1% in October to an average of 1% in 1996 and revive plans for monetary reform. He also blasted the National Bank of Ukraine for deviating from his market reform program and hinted at a possible change in the bank's management. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

WORLD BANK OFFERS CREDIT PACKAGE TO UKRAINE.
World Bank President James Wolfensohn, in Ukraine from 16-19 November, met with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk, and Deputy Prime Minister Roman Shpek to discuss an aid package for reform in the country's energy and agricultural sectors, international agencies reported. At the end of his visit, Wolfensohn announced that the World Bank was prepared to lend Ukraine up to $1 billion annually over the next three years. He added that $250 million could go to the agricultural sector if privatization and price liberalization were implemented. The World Bank is also prepared to offer $100 million to the coal industry next year to develop profitable pits and close down others. It has already loaned some $500 million to Ukraine, including a $114 million credit to improve hydropower plants, and $32 million for agricultural projects. -- Ustina Markus

FIVE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS TO SEND OBSERVERS TO BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS.
Belarusian Radio on 16 November reported that five international organizations will be send observers to the 29 November parliamentary by-elections in Belarus. The EU and the CIS Parliamentary Assembly will send 10 observers each, the OSCE five, the European Parliament four; and the North Atlantic Assembly three. One of the Council of Europe's conditions for Belarus's admission to that organization are democratic by-elections. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN PREMIER, PRESIDENT SUPPORT EINSELN.
Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told BNS on 17 November that he wanted Lt.-Gen. Aleksander Einseln to remain commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Vahi, however, did not criticize Defense Minister Andrus Oovel, who has said that Einseln should have done much more to build up the country's defense. Vahi said the press had presented a one-sided view of Oovel's remarks, focusing only on the shortcomings and not mentioning the accomplishments. On returning from a UNESCO meeting in Paris, President Lennart Meri the next day said Einseln had "done an enormous job in raising the defense forces to that level of thinking that is characteristic of the defense forces of a democratic country." He said he knew of no better candidate to lead Estonia's armed forces. -- Saulius Girnius

OFFICES OF LITHUANIA'S LARGEST NEWSPAPER BOMBED.
In the night from 16-17 November, a large bomb seriously damaged the newly built annex to the main offices of the newspaper Lietuvos rytas, BNS reported the next day. The damage was estimated at more than $100,000, but no one was injured. Lietuvos rytas, Respublika, and Lietuvos aidas on 18 November published a statement by the Free Word Fund alleging that the bombing was "provoked by the Lithuanian political leadership and corrupt financial groups." The government has offered a $25,000 reward for helping to determine who organized and carried out the bombing. -- Saulius Girnius

CZECH COALITION PARTIES VOTE TO MERGE.
The Christian Democratic Party (KDS), the smallest party in the Czech governing coalition, voted on 18 November to join forces with the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Czech media reported. At separate party congresses, the ODS voted almost unanimously for the merger, with only one delegate out of 236 voting against and two abstaining. The KDS voted by 101 to 69 for the move, with two abstentions. The proposed merger has already split the KDS, with five of its 10 parliamentary deputies leaving. Under the merger, which is due to take effect next March, KDS leader and Education Minister Ivan Pilip will become a deputy chairman of the ODS. A third right-wing party, the extraparliamentary Club of Committed Non-Party Members (KAN), narrowly voted not to follow the KDS's example. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER REJECTS HUNGARIAN PROTEST OVER LANGUAGE LAW.
Juraj Schenk on 17 November called criticism of Slovakia's new language law by his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, an "incorrect" interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, Slovenska republika reported the following day. The Hungarian government expressed "sorrow and dissatisfaction" with the law passed by the Slovak parliament on 15 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 and 17 November 1995). In a statement, Schenk said the language law was adopted by a clear majority of both coalition and opposition deputies, demonstrating "a de facto consensus on the political scene in the Slovak Republic." -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS RE-ELECT LEADER.
Former Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky was re-elected chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) at the party's weekend congress in Nitra, Slovak dailies reported on 20 November. Delegates also adopted a declaration sharply critical of the governing coalition. It said that Slovakia faces the danger of nationalism and that false appeals to patriotism by the governing parties are violating the principles of democracy. Meanwhile, former Czechoslovak Interior Minister Jan Langos--who represents the KDH in the Slovak parliament--was elected chairman of the non-parliamentary Democratic Party. He received 167 votes at the party's congress in Zvolen and unseated Peter Osusky, who won 46 votes. -- Steve Kettle

HUNGARIAN NATO REFERENDUM TO BE CALLED SOON.
Hungarian newspapers on 17 November reported that the non- parliamentary Workers' Party has gathered more than the required 100,000 valid signatures for a referendum on NATO membership. After the drive to collect signatures got under way, the government said it was too early to call a referendum and that it would make such a move only after Hungary had been invited to join NATO and when there was more certainty about the costs and criteria for membership. It is now obliged to call a referendum by the end of February. A decision must still be taken over whether the referendum will simply ask for opinions or decide whether Hungary is to apply for membership. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN MINORITIES ELECT LOCAL LEADERS.
Hungary's ethnic minorities on 19 November voted in the second round of elections for representatives to 172 semi-autonomous minority authorities, Hungarian media reported. More than 2.5 million people (out of a total population of 10.4 million) were eligible to vote in the election, which was carried out among 11 of the country's 13 ethnic minorities. The Ukrainian and Serbian minorities did not vote since all their representatives were elected in the first round of the minority elections last December. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN HUNGARY.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, during his official visit to Budapest on 17 November, met with Hungarian politicians to discuss relations with Russia, regional cooperation, and integration into the EU and NATO. Bartoszewski was received by Hungarian President Arpad Goncz, Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, among others, Rzeczpospolita reported on 18 November. Bartoszewski and Kovacs stressed that they are strategic partners both in regional cooperation and in Euroatlantic integration efforts. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz and Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 226, 20 November 1995
LAST DAY FOR DAYTON TALKS.
International media on 20 November reported that a "public event" would take place at 15:00 GMT in Dayton, Ohio, the same day. The BBC said there would be either a signing of a draft Bosnian peace agreement or a press conference to announce why the talks had failed. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman returned to Dayton from Zagreb and told reporters before leaving that he expected there would be something to sign. Croatian Television on 19 November also said that a constitutional agreement had been reached in Dayton to allow the Croats and Muslims ties with Croatia, while the Bosnian Serbs could have "parallel links" to Serbia but could not secede from the Bosnian state. The BBC quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that his people would demand either independence or incorporation into a greater Serbian state, but AFP cited him as being more resigned to a less than "full realization of our objectives." -- Patrick Moore

ZUBAK, SACIRBEY OFFER RESIGNATIONS.
But it appears to be territorial rather than constitutional questions that have been blocking a breakthrough--including the status of Sarajevo and the Muslim enclaves of eastern Bosnia and especially the widening of the Posavina corridor linking Serbia with its conquests in the Banja Luka area. Croats and Muslims demonstrated in Sarajevo on 19 November to oppose any concessions, but international media stated that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic is under intense pressure from Washington and its allies to yield. Novi list on 20 November reported that Croat-Muslim federation President Kresimir Zubak has offered his resignation in a bitter protest at what he and his fellow Bosnian Croats consider a sellout by Zagreb and the Herzegovinian Croats. CNN stated on 18 November that Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey has submitted his resignation to make room for a Croat in that post, but the BBC said he wanted to protest what he considered to be too many concessions at Dayton on Bosnia's unity and sovereignty. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE HELPS REBUILD BOSNIAN SERB MILITARY.
Belgrade appears to have reneged on a promise not to help the Bosnian Serbs rebuild vital military infrastructure destroyed by NATO air raids, according to The New York Times on 18 November. Rump Yugoslav military personnel have reportedly helped reconstruct communications links and rebuild air defense systems. AFP, citing confidential reports dated 30 October, noted that UN military observers have detected "regular flights of military transport aircraft and helicopters into Banja Luka at night." Meanwhile, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has reiterated at the Dayton talks that his intention was and is to end assistance to the Bosnian Serbs in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich

IS THERE A SOLUTION FOR KOSOVO IN THE OFFING?
Gazeta Shqiptare on 18 November quoted the Kosovar weekly Bujku as reporting that a plan is circulating among European diplomats that foresees the demilitarization of Kosovo, the withdrawal of Serbian police, and the organization of democratic elections under international supervision. The first stage of the plan foresees an international conference on Kosovo. Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova has proposed a similar plan, but it is unclear if Belgrade would agree to it. Meanwhile, Albanian President Sali Berisha said there can be no just and stable peace in former Yugoslavia without a solution for Kosovo. International agencies quoted him as saying on 17 November that "ignoring the issue of Kosovo means that we shall face a permanent danger of explosion in the southern Balkans." -- Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT RETURNS TO WORK.
AFP on 17 November reported that Kiro Gligorov held talks with Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski and parliamentary speaker Stojan Andov, who had been acting president since the assassination attempt on 3 October. Gligorov, who sustained serious injuries in the attack, is continuing his rehabilitation at home. But according to the President's Office, he "is already carrying out part of his current duties." -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE WARNS OF ISLAMIC THREAT.
For the second consecutive year, the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) warned in its annual report to the parliament that Islamic fundamentalist groups active in Romania pose a growing threat. According to Reuters on 17 November, the SRI report lists several Middle Eastern extremist groups, including the Palestinian Hamas, the Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Popular and Democratic Front of Palestine. The report, which is due to be presented to the parliament this week, says these organizations are attempting to recruit members from among Romania's large expatriate Muslim community. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIA, UKRAINE MAKE LITTLE PROGRESS ON TREATY.
Romanian and Ukrainian negotiators, meeting in Bucharest on 17-18 November, made little progress in unblocking the path to a basic treaty, Romanian media and Reuters reported. The treaty talks stalled in late October over long-standing territorial disputes (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 October 1995), including the issue of the Black Sea Serpent Island, which Bucharest transferred to the Soviet Union in a secret deal that is now questioned by the Romanians. Romanian First Deputy Foreign Minister Marcel Dinu said Bucharest and Kiev have also to negotiate articles on national minorities. No date has been set for resuming treaty negotiations. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVA PROTESTS RUSSIAN DUMA "INTERFERENCE" . . .
Moldova on 17 November protested the Russian State Duma's "interference" in Chisinau's internal affairs, Moldovan and international agencies reported the same day. The protest follows a resolution--proposed by a deputy from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party and passed by the Russian parliament's lower chamber--urging President Boris Yeltsin to declare the separatist Transdniestrian region a "zone of strategic Russian interest." The resolution also said Yeltsin should "consider the possibility of convening a tripartite Russian-Moldovan-Transdniestrian summit to discuss the recognition of Transdniester as an independent, sovereign state." Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, in a letter to Yeltsin, said the resolution was an "unfriendly act" and a "direct interference in Moldovan internal affairs." He expressed the hope that Yeltsin will use all his powers to put an end to "efforts by conservative forces" to upset the process of resolving the Transdniestrian conflict. -- Michael Shafir

. . . WHILE RUSSIA SAYS ITS POSITION REMAINS UNCHANGED.
A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responding to the Duma resolution, said his country's position toward the settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict "has not changed," BASA-press reported on 18 November. He said talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol would eventually lead to granting the breakaway region a "special status" that preserves "Moldova's territorial integrity and independence." A settlement of the conflict, he added would also lead to "deeper cooperation between Moldova and other CIS states." -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT TO RUN FOR SECOND TERM.
Zhelyu Zhelev, in an interview with Bulgarian TV on 18 November, said he will seek re-election in early 1997, Bulgarian newspapers reported. Zhelev explained that he was concerned about the "blocking of reforms, social and political tension, [and] signs of isolation and distrust in the country." He said he will "rely on all democratic forces" for his reelection. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), which supported Zhelev in the last presidential elections, has not made its position clear. SDS caucus leader Yordan Sokolov said SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov would be the best candidate, while Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski said the presidential candidate should be nominated by the SDS and the vice president by the People's Union (NS). NS co-leaders Stefan Savov and Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer said they will support Zhelev, and ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom Chairman Ahmet Dogan said his party "leans toward Zhelev." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS WANT TO INVALIDATE MAYORAL ELECTION.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 17 November asked the Kardzhali City Court to invalidate the election of Rasim Musa as mayor of Kardzhali, international agencies reported the same day. Musa, who ran as a candidate of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, won the run-off on 12 November against BSP-backed Georgi Georgiev. According to the BSP, 731 people from neighboring constituencies voted illegally in Kardzhali. Musa won by a margin of 658 votes. A MRF statement accused the BSP of trying to create ethnic tension in the ethnically mixed region, adding that "any attempt to invalidate the election results in Kardzhali in a Balkan manner will return like a boomerang on Bulgaria and its people." -- Stefan Krause

TURKEY TO HAVE EARLY ELECTIONS.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has rejected a petition blocking parliamentary elections scheduled for 24 December, thereby paving the way for early elections on that date, Turkish and Western media reported on 18 November. The petition was submitted by 93 opposition deputies who challenged the legitimacy of the new election law and claimed there was insufficient time to prepare for the ballot. The court also invalidated provisions of the new election law on creating electoral districts for 100 new members of parliament. The final decision on the election date is to be to the taken by the electoral commission. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave





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