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Newsline - November 28, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 230, 28 November 1995




UKRAINIAN MINISTER WELCOMES SOCHI ACCORDS.
Speaking in Kiev, Ukrainian Defense Minister General Valerii Shmalov welcomed the results of the military agreements signed with Russia last week in Sochi, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. He said "our two powers have great military-industrial potential, which must be used to the benefit of both sides." As part of the agreements, Russia has agreed to hand over to Ukraine some 150 naval installations belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, with all their equipment, commencing on 1 December. -- Peter Rutland

YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL FOR SANITARIUM.
On 27 November, President Boris Yeltsin left the hospital where he has been recovering from heart trouble since 26 October. He will continue his treatment in the suburban Moscow Barvikha sanitarium for several more weeks, Rossiiskie vesti reported. Yeltsin's wife Naina, now in Paris for an international conference on children's rights, repeated her wish that her husband not seek a second term but added that "it is hard to give him advice." -- Robert Orttung

ROSSEL DENIES THAT HE WILL FORM BLOC WITH SHUMEIKO.
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel denied that he would work with Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko to form a new bloc called Russian Reforms-New Course. Only last week Rossel had signed the document creating the new movement, Interfax reported on 27 November. Rossel apparently changed his mind after a personal meeting with President Yeltsin on 24 November, during which Yeltsin told him Shumeiko's bloc was "no good" and advised him not to spend any time on it, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 27 November. Rossel also said that he did not like the bloc's name, since the idea of a new "course" had been invoked too often in Russian history. Rossel will continue to try to build his Transformation of the Fatherland into a strong party of the regions. -- Robert Orttung

VOLSKII SEEKS ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS.
Arkadii Volskii, one of the leaders of Trade Unions and Industrialists of Russia-Union of Labor, announced that his bloc would be willing to work with Gennadii Zyuganov's Communists if it wins seats in the next Duma, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. However, Communist Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin said that many people who two to three years ago rejected the word "communist" now seek alliances with the party because it is leading in the polls. He proposed that Volskii first get himself elected to the Duma and then worry about forging alliances, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Robert Orttung

FIRST CANDIDATE APPLIES FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
Vladimir Voronin, the head of the TIBET Association of Investors, became the first candidate to apply officially for the June 1996 presidential elections, Russian media reported on 27 November. The same day Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader, confirmed that he intends to run for the office next summer, according to Ekho Moskvy. On 28 November, ITAR-TASS reported that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said he might join the presidential race. Stanislav Govorukhin, a film director and leader of his own electoral bloc, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, and deputy leader of the Congress of Russian Communities Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed announced last week that they would run for president, though none of them has officially applied (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 November 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya

ELECTORAL COMMISSION LOOKS INTO CAMPAIGN FUNDING.
Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said he is investigating some parties' campaign financing for the Duma election, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. If a party is found in violation of the rules, the TsIK will turn the case over to the Supreme Court, which could drop the party from the December polls and forward the case to the Procurator General's Office if violations are discovered. Ryabov said the TsIK will release the results of its investigation on 1 December. -- Anna Paretskaya

YAKOVLEV ON COMMUNIST REPRESSION OF RELIGION.
The Commission for Rehabilitating Victims of Political Repression submitted a report to President Yeltsin on 27 November calling for the rehabilitation of those who were persecuted under communist religious repression from 1917 to 1980, Russian and Western agencies reported. Commission head Aleksandr Yakovlev said that about 200,000 religious figures were brutally murdered by the Soviet regime for their beliefs and that the communists destroyed "40,000 churches, half of the country's Muslim places of worship, and over half of the Jewish synagogues." He then blasted Gennadii Zyuganov's Communists for "falling in love" with the Russian Orthodox Church to enhance their public image, saying to do so "without repentance shows the very extreme of moral decline." Yakovlev denied that the timing of the report's release was intentional but added that he would be "very satisfied" if it dealt a blow to the Communists' election chances. -- Penny Morvant

MAVRODI LOSES CASE AGAINST IZVESTIYA.
Sergei Mavrodi, chairman of the notorious MMM investment fund, has lost a 400 million ruble ($90,000) lawsuit against Izvestiya, the paper reported on 25 November. Mavrodi sued because of two articles in which he was called a swindler and a scoundrel (one of the articles was written by Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov). He argued that such labels are libelous since he has not been sentenced by any court for a crime. Izvestiya asserted that Mavrodi has filed similar lawsuits against other media organizations in attempts to create a legal precedent that would shield him from future accusations in the media. The Duma voted to strip Mavrodi of his immunity and his mandate on 6 October so that he could be prosecuted for the activities of the MMM fund (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1995). -- Laura Belin in Moscow

DEPUTIES DECRY MARKIDONOV INVESTIGATION.
Duma Deputy Aleksei Levushkin on 27 November attacked the security services' investigation into the death of fellow Stability member Sergei Markidonov, arguing that the killing was politically motivated rather than the result of a drunken dispute between the deputy and his bodyguard as police in Chita Oblast had initially concluded, NTV reported. Levushkin said that forensic reports showed no alcohol in Markidonov's blood and that he had died while sleeping. He also dismissed later suggestions by the Chita Procurator's Office that the bodyguard had accidentally killed Markidonov by mishandling his gun. Other Duma deputies, including Common Cause member Irina Khakamada, have also criticized the investigation, Izvestiya reported on 28 November. -- Penny Morvant

CHELYABINSK AUTHORITIES DEPORT ILLEGAL CHINESE IMMIGRANTS.
Chelyabinsk police sent nine illegal Chinese immigrants by plane back to China, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. The immigrants were arrested during raids conducted by local authorities, who claim that illegal immigrants are involved in criminal activities and believe that most Chinese living in Chelyabinsk do not have valid visas. The deportation is part of an ongoing campaign against illegal immigration in the city which was launched two months ago. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA AND SOUTH AFRICA SIGN ACCORDS.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and South African Vice Premier Thabo Mbeki signed a military-technical agreement, a tax accord, and a consular agreement in Pretoria, Russian and Western agencies reported on 27 November. Soskovets, on a four-day visit, later met with South African President Nelson Mandela, to whom he presented a medal and a personal message from President Yeltsin. Accompanying Soskovets are officials of Almazy Rossii-Sakha, Russia's largest diamond producer, who are negotiating the renewal of a 1990 contract with De Beers Consolidated Mines under which Russia markets 95% of its diamonds through the South African firm. The contract expires this year, and although some reports suggest that Russia might establish an independent marketing agency to rival De Beers, Soskovets told journalists that he expects a new agreement to be concluded. -- Scott Parrish

GRACHEV DENIES EXCLUDING FOREIGN MINISTRY.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev denied that there are differences between his ministry and the Foreign Ministry over Russian policy toward NATO and possible Russian participation in the planned Bosnian peace implementation force. Grachev, contradicting comments made by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 24 November, (See OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995), said the Russian position on those issues was worked out in consultation with Foreign Ministry officials. A Defense Ministry spokesman later refuted speculation in the Russian press that Grachev has taken over part of Kozyrev's responsibilities. However, the denials do little to conceal Kozyrev's increasingly marginalized position in Russian foreign policy decision-making. -- Scott Parrish

ARKHANGELSK TEACHERS STRIKE, VORKUTA MINERS SAY THEY WILL TOO.
Teachers from 37 schools in Arkhangelsk went on strike on 27 November to demand a raise and the timely payment of their wages, ITAR-TASS reported. Local officials, however, say they have paid their debts to the schools and do not have the resources to satisfy the teachers' demand that their salaries be doubled to equal the average wage in industry. Meanwhile, in another manifestation of worker discontent, miners in Vorkuta resolved on 27 November to begin a regional strike on 1 December under the slogan: "Don't vote on 17 December for blocs and parties that include members of the Chernomyrdin cabinet," Russian TV reported. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIAN ARMS EXPORTS RISE.
Russian arms exports could reach $3.5 billion next year, presidential adviser Boris Kuzyk told ITAR-TASS on 24 November. Arms exports in 1995 will reach $2.5 billion, up from $1.7 billion last year, according to Russian Public TV (ORT) on 22 November. Aleksandr Koletkin, the head of the Rosvooruzhenie company, said that $6 billion worth of future contracts have been signed this year, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 24 November. Rosvooruzhenie, which has a monopoly on arms exports, was set up in November 1993. Last week, an additional body was established to supervise arms exports: the State Committee for Military-Technology Policy. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIAN ENERGY DEBTS.
CIS and Baltic countries owe Russian energy exporters 14.4 trillion rubles ($3.2 billion), an official from the Ministry for Cooperation with the CIS told Interfax on 27 November. Ukraine's debts total 8.7 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion), or 61% of the total, followed by Belarus (17%), Kazakhstan (11%), and Moldova (9%). The ministry is proposing the introduction of compulsory prepayment for energy exports to those countries from the beginning of next year. However, during his visit to St. Petersburg on 23 November Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that there are no plans to cut off energy supplies to Russia's neighbors, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. "We will not abandon anyone, we will support all," he said. "After all, there are 11 million Russians in Ukraine, and in Kazakhstan half of the population consists of Russians." -- Peter Rutland



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 230, 28 November 1995


TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA


TURKEY'S DIYANET VAKFI TO OPEN OFFICES IN CENTRAL ASIA.
Turkey's richest foundation, Diyanet Vakfi [Religious Foundation], is preparing to open branches in Central Asia in an attempt to strengthen ties between the governmental religious affairs' departments in that region and the Turkic-speaking regions of the Caucasus, Russia, and the Balkans, Zaman reported on 28 November. The undertaking follows the establishment of the Eurasian Islamic Council Organization at an October conference of top, official Muslim clerics sponsored by Turkey. Diyanet Vakfi is independent of Turkey's Religious Affairs Department but supports that body's work. It is financed by donors and eight corporations that it controls. -- Lowell Bezanis

TURKMEN-RUSSIAN BORDER OPERATION.
Turkmen and Russian border guards completed what was described by RIA news agency as a joint operation on the Turkmen-Afghan border on 23 November. The effort, termed a "successful example" of coordinated efforts to protect the external borders of the CIS, caught 19 intruders, 24 smugglers, 60 kg of narcotics, a small number of firearms and grenades, and "a large amount of ammunition." Speaking at a press conference on 21 November, an officer with the Russian Border Guards in Turkmenistan said that 1,800 people, mainly Afghans, were detained on the border in 1995, Interfax reported the same day. He also claimed his service, which confiscated about 2 metric tons of drugs in that period, was involved in approximately 50 armed clashes, mainly with drug smugglers. Russia appears to be directing the Turkmen-Afghan border controls. -- Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 230, 28 November 1995



KUCHMA CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT, POLITICAL OPPONENTS.
At a news conference following a visit to the Ivano-Frankovsk region, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma criticized Prime Minister Vitalii Masol's government, UNIAN reported on 25 November. He noted that the government has failed to act on economic reform programs and is about to lose international credit as a result. Kuchma also voiced skepticism over the national democratic forces in the country, saying that personal ambitions of the far right are adversely affecting the political process. With elections for 45 vacant seats in the Ukrainian parliament less than two weeks away, such political sparring is likely to increase. -- Roger Kangas

UKRAINIAN CABINET OF MINISTERS DISCUSS 1996 BUDGET.
The Presidium of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has begun discussing the 1996 draft budget, UNIAN reported, as cited by the BBC. According to the draft budget, the national deficit will be 6% of GDP, or 427,200 billion karbovantsi. Budget revenues are pegged at 2.40 trillion karbovantsi and expenditures at 2.83 trillion. Problems that have to be addressed include the low output in the industrial sector, which is expected to increase by only 0.8% over 1995; limited external financing; and the chronic balance-of-payment and trade deficits. -- Roger Kangas

CASE DROPPED AGAINST RUSSIAN COMMUNITY OF SEVASTOPOL.
Sevastopol's Leninskii District Court has dropped a lawsuit filed by the city prosecutor-general against the organization Russian Community of Sevastopol, Russian TV reported on 27 November. The prosecutor-general had urged the dissolution of the organization, charging it with "escalation of interethnic tension" and "attempts to violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine" by assisting residents acquire Russian citizenship. The Ukrainian government is concerned about separatist tendencies in Crimea, because elements of the Russian population there insist that Sevastopol become part of Russia. -- Constantine Dmitriev

BELARUSIAN ELECTION UPDATE.
Belarusian Radio on 25 November reported that 865 candidates will compete for the 141 still-vacant seats in the Belarusian Supreme Soviet on 29 November. More than a third of the candidates (301) are independents, 121 belong to the Communist Party, 63 to the Belarusian Popular Front, 50 to the Agrarian Party, 37 to the Party of Popular Accord, and 30 each to the Belarusian Patriotic Movement and Social Democratic Hramada. Of the parliament's 260 deputies, 119 were elected in May. The legislature can begin work when two-thirds (174) are elected. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has promised to introduce direct presidential rule if a new parliament is not elected, told a press conference on 27 November that he would probably not vote because "people who should not even be allowed near the parliament may get into it," Western agencies reported. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA'S TRADE DEFICIT INCREASES.
The Estonian Customs Department on 27 November announced that the country's foreign trade deficit in October increased by 163 million kroons over the September level to reach 788 million kroons ($70 million), BNS reported. Imports increased by 259 million kroons to 2.97 billion kroons, while exports grew by only 96 million kroons. Finland was the source of 40.1% of imports and 23.7% of exports; Russia and Sweden both had a share of more than 10% share in imports and exports. The leading exports were farm products (15.8%), mechanical equipment (10.6%), and forest products (10.3%), while the leading imports were mechanical equipment (14.3%). farm products (12.1%), and electrical equipment (10.6%). -- Saulius Girnius

NATIONAL CONCILIATION BLOC PREPARED TO FORM LATVIAN GOVERNMENT.
Democratic Party Saimneiks Chairman Ziedonis Cevers, the prime minister candidate of the National Conciliation Bloc, on 27 November said that the bloc will announce its cabinet only after President Guntis Ulmanis formally invites it to do so, BNS reported. He said the candidates for economics, education, and interior ministers named in October have since been changed. Joachim Siegerist--the previous nominee for economics minister, whom Ulmanis refused to accept as a minister--is reported to have been seriously injured in an automobile accident in Italy. Modris Plate, who was to have been education minister, resigned from the Saeima on 27 November, saying he was returning to work as a Lutheran pastor. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND, BELARUS INTENSIFY COOPERATION.
Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy and his Belarusian counterpart, Mikhail Chyhir, signed in Warsaw on 27 November an agreement on cooperation in science and culture guaranteeing national minorities the right to education in their mother tongues. Representatives of Polish and Belarusian governments also signed an agreement on cooperation in customs procedures and the development of tourism. Work has already begun on drafting a clearing agreement between the two countries, Polish dailies reported on 28 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

POLISH OPINION POLL ON STATE INSTITUTIONS.
An opinion poll conducted before the conclusion of the November 1995 presidential elections shows that the rating of the Presidency has increased considerably, from 23% in September to 51% this month. For the first time since 1991, more respondents approved than disapproved of the institution of the president. The ratings of the Sejm, the Senate, and the government also improved. Polish Radio and TV and the army led the approval rankings, with more than 70%. The Catholic Church received a 58% approval rate. The poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) from 9-12 November and was published by the Polish press on 28 November. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECHS INVITED TO JOIN BRITISH BOSNIAN FORCE.
Britain has said that Czech troops could be part of the British contingent in the planned NATO Bosnian peace implementation force, a Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman told CTK on 27 November. Karel Boruvka said British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind made the offer in a recent reply to a letter from Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec. The Czechs are thinking of providing a unit composed of 600-700 troops to operate in northwestern Bosnia. -- Doug Clarke

SLOVAK ROUNDUP.
Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk on 27 November told journalists that "the political will" does exist in Slovakia to ratify the bilateral treaty with Hungary. Slovak parliamentary committees will begin discussion of the treaty on 28 November, and it is likely that it will be placed on the agenda of the December parliamentary session. In a press conference on 27 December, the opposition Democratic Party (DS) described the coalition's actions during the recent joint session of Slovak and European parliamentary deputies as "shocking and shameful." DS Deputy Chairman Frantisek Sebej noted that immediately after the European deputies left, the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) began discussions about a law on the protection of the republic. HZDS Deputy Chairwoman Olga Keltosova noted the possibility of reducing funds for the opposition Democratic Union. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEES FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT.
Meeting in Budapest on 27 November, the Hungarian and Slovak parliamentary Constitutional Committees were unable to agree over Slovakia's recent controversial language law, Magyar Hirlap reported the next day. Jan Cuper, head of the Slovak delegation, told journalists that the language law meets European norms and is neither unconstitutional nor aimed at preventing ethnic minorities from using their own languages. He added that he saw no opportunity for the two foreign ministers to appeal to any international or European organization to examine the legality of the law, since that would constitute an interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign country. Peter Hack, chairman of the Hungarian committee, said the law violates several provisions of the Slovak constitution, including the one guaranteeing the rights of national minorities. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 230, 28 November 1995



LINTON SAYS U.S. MUST LEAD IN BOSNIA.
President Bill Clinton made a 20-minute televised address on 27 November aimed at securing popular and congressional support for his plans to send 20,000 troops to Bosnia. He acknowledged there would be losses but stressed that the U.S. was not trying to police the world but rather seeking to bring peace to the "very heart of Europe." The president argued that "in fulfilling this mission, we will have the chance to help stop the killing of innocent civilians, and especially children, and, at the same time, bring stability to central Europe, a region of the world that is vital to our national interests." Using a combination of moral and strategic arguments, he told his audience that the troops' task would be clear-cut, that America's friends and allies needed it to lead, and that worse conflicts would follow if the U.S. tried to shirk its responsibilities now. -- Patrick Moore

KARADZIC WARNS THAT SARAJEVO WILL BE EITHER BERLIN OR BEIRUT.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 28 November that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has said again that partition of the Bosnian capital is essential for peace. He argued that if it were not divided like Cold War-era Berlin, it would bleed like Beirut. He also warned that a "blood bath" would result if anyone attempted to arrest him or other internationally wanted Bosnian Serb war criminals. Nasa Borba quoted him as arguing that "the Dayton conference recognized our struggle for freedom and our state as well. I am the legal and official chief of state." He also claimed that he and his people have nothing to do with war crimes: "At the beginning of the war I ordered my officers to uphold the Geneva conventions [on the conduct of war]. I am sure that my army did not commit crimes." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added that Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic issued a statement that his army "would not give up Sarajevo." -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN PRESIDENT SAYS SERBIAN LEADER WANTS TO SPREAD WAR.
Hina on 27 November quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying that Karadzic was simply trying to scare world opinion with his threats. Izetbegovic added that "my opinion is that Karadzic is afraid of peace and wants to spread the war, but this time by using the Serbian people [whom he has brought out to demonstrate]." Nasa Borba on 28 November cited Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey as arguing that Karadzic's attitudes could lead to a continuation of the war. -- Patrick Moore

BITTERNESS IN CROATIA OVER DAYTON AGREEMENT.
Nasa Borba on 28 November also reported on the general dissatisfaction among Croats with the treaty, which is widely seen as "legalizing [the results of] ethnic cleansing," as Cardinal Vinko Puljic put it. Vecernji list added that people in the Posavina region of northern Bosnia are especially disappointed and that an assembly of refugees from there called the agreement "illegitimate and illegal." AFP reported that some 700 refugees have meanwhile "laid siege" to Zagreb city hall in protest and demanded that President Franjo Tudjman meet with them. -- Patrick Moore

REFUGEES RETURN TO VELIKA KLADUSA.
Attempts are under way to return the 20,000 refugees from Kuplensko in Croatia to the Velika Kladusa region in northwestern Bosnia. But there were only 600 takers by 26 November, when more than 200 people went, Vecernji list reported next day. The refugees are followers of local kingpin Fikret Abdic and are unwelcome in Croatia and politically at odds with the Bosnian authorities. The interior ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and Turkey have agreed to work together to enable them to return home safely. The ministers visited both Kuplensko and the Velika Kladusa area to plan deployment of a joint police force. -- Daria Sito Sucic

NATO MILITARY COMMITTEE DECIDES ON DEPLOYMENT PLAN.
The NATO Military Committee on 27 November decided on an operations plan for the deployment of troops in Bosnia, Western agencies reported. But France, which is not a member of NATO's integrated military structure, is resisting turning over command of the operation to U.S. General George Joulwan, NATO supreme commander, until the promised 20,000-strong U.S. contingent arrives, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported the next day. This could threaten the beginning of NATO deployment, which is scheduled to take place after the formal signing of the peace treaty in Paris probably in mid-December. The NATO foreign ministers are expected to approve the operations plan at their meeting scheduled for 5-6 December. Under the plan, NATO forces will not be required to wait until being fired on before shooting. -- Michael Mihalka

FUEL PRICES DROPPING ON SERBIAN BLACK MARKET.
Bulgarian media on 28 November report that since sanctions have been eased against the rump Yugoslavia, the black market rates for vital commodities is tumbling. Most notably affected is the price of gasoline, which now sells at the equivalent of $0.56. Rump Yugoslav media report that large quantities of domestic fuel products are now on sale, partly in response to an anticipated influx of nearly 50,000 tons of foreign fuel deliveries. -- Stan Markotich

UN SPECIAL ENVOY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VISITS KOSOVO.
International agencies on 27 November reported that Elizabeth Rehn was told by Serbian officials that Albanians have chosen to boycott public schools and other institutions and that the Kosovo conflict is an internal Serbian affair. Rehn, however, disputed this claim, saying when such rights are in question, "the international community has the right to interfere and try to help people." She also met with Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and representatives of the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms. Meanwhile, Margit Savovic, rump Yugoslav minister without portfolio in charge of human rights, declared that the Albanians of Kosovo have been accorded rights that "far surpass" international standards, AFP reports on 28 November. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIA'S RULING PARTY ELECTS LEADERSHIP.
The National Council of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 26 November re-elected Oliviu Gherman and Adrian Nastase as the party's chairman and executive chairman, respectively, Radio Bucharest reported. The election followed the third nationwide PDSR conference, held in Bucharest on 24-25 November, at which the party adopted its new program and discussed changes in its statutes. In a message to the conference, President Ion Iliescu said if he decided to run for office again, he would do so under the PDSR banner. The leftist PDSR, which has governed in coalition with nationalist and neo-communist parties, is the most popular single party in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu

OSCE CRITICIZES RUSSIAN DUMA'S RESOLUTION ON MOLDOVA.
The OSCE has criticized the Russian State Duma's recent resolution proclaiming the Dniester region a zone of special strategic importance for the Russian Federation, BASA-press reported on 27 November. According to a statement released by the Office of the OSCE Permanent Council's Chairman, the organization reaffirms its recognition of Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its current borders. The statement says that the OSCE regards continued talks as the only way to ensure a special status for eastern Moldova and that it fears "the Duma resolution can impede the process of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict." The OSCE calls upon the Russian government to continue to participate in the negotiations, pointing out the important role it has played to date. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIA STOPS EXPORTS OF GRAIN.
Despite an above-average grain harvest of 3.5 million tons this year, Bulgaria is presently facing a severe grain shortage, Bulgarian and Western media report. The government on 23 November banned the export of wheat, rye, and hops until 30 September 1996 in order to secure domestic supplies. A further export ban on sunflower seeds and cooking oil takes effect on 11 December. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov blamed speculators for the shortage but said "there will be no problems with bread supplies." The government on 27 November dismissed the managers of seven state-run mills for exporting grain, despite the ban. According to Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba, the government controls about 40% of the grain supplies in the country. In order to secure fodder supplies, some 550,000 tons of corn will have to be imported, he said. -- Stefan Krause

NANO'S SENTENCE INCREASED BY ONE YEAR...
The Albanian Supreme Court has overruled an earlier decision by an appeals court and increased Albanian Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano's prison term by one year. A presidential amnesty and several courts of appeal reduced Nano's original 12-year term to four years. Following the introduction of the new Penal Code in June, a Tirana appeals court shortened his sentence to three years. Under this latest ruling, Nano will now have to spend another three years and seven months in jail. The Socialist Party claims that Nano, who was sentenced for misappropriation of Italian aid funds as prime minister in 1991, is a political prisoner and that his imprisonment is aimed at weakening the opposition. Amnesty International has also called for Nano's release, pointing out irregularities in his detention and trial. -- Fabian Schmidt

...PROMPTING RENEWED CHARGES OF POLITICAL MANIPULATION.
Nano's lawyer, Perparim Sanxhaku, responded to the ruling by saying it proved that the court was politically manipulated, Reuters reported on 27 November. The Socialist Party has accused President Sali Berisha of keeping Nano in jail until Albania's parliamentary elections in May 1996. It has also condemned a controversial "genocide law" barring people who held high office until March 1991 from running for public office until 2002. Nano is affected by the law. Observers suspect that Berisha might pardon Nano by presidential amnesty on 28 November, Albanian Liberation Day, to prove that the judiciary is independent and to resolve the political conflict. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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