Accessibility links

Newsline - May 13, 1996


YELTSIN ANNOUNCES COALITION WITH "THIRD FORCE" CANDIDATES . . .
President Boris Yeltsin announced on 11 May that presidential candidates Grigorii Yavlinskii, Aleksandr Lebed, and Svyatoslav Fedorov "will join the president's team," NTV reported. He said that the three are not his "political rivals" and that they all support a rule-of-law government, a market economy, and the greatness of Russia. He explained that the "cooperation" would take various forms and that the three might not have to withdraw their candidacies, Russian TV (RTR) reported. The three have tried unsuccessfully to unite their efforts to create a third force candidate to oppose both Yeltsin and Communist Gennadii Zyuganov. Yeltsin might replace Defense Minister Pavel Grachev as a concession to Yavlinskii, Segodnya speculated on 12 May, noting that Col. Gen. Boris Gromov accompanied the president on his Volga trip. -- Robert Orttung

. . . BUT THIS IS DENIED BY PUTATIVE ALLIES.
Yavlinskii denied that he intended to join any alliance with Yeltsin, terming his remarks "electoral rhetoric," Obshchaya gazeta reported on 12 May. He said that "the presidential team is trying to drag me into his entourage" and that the reports of an alliance are made to "sow confusion among my voters and in my regional campaign headquarters." Yavlinskii warned that Yeltsin could not be trusted to make the necessary policy changes that Yavlinskii cites as a prerequisite for working together. He also rejected the president's "nomenklatura" approach of handing out jobs and expecting everyone to be happy. Before the Duma election, Yavlinskii had seemingly come close to forming an alliance with Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar but then pulled back at the last minute. Lebed said that he could not join an alliance with Yeltsin because "I do not think that the existing government is any better than the communists," AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung

FEDOROV DOES NOT WANT TO BE YELTSIN'S "APPRENTICE."
Eye surgeon and presidential candidate Svyatoslav Fedorov told NTV on 11 May that he would only consider supporting President Yeltsin's re-election if Yeltsin gives "carte blanche" in economic policy to him and like-minded economists, including Grigorii Yavlinskii. He said he could not serve in the government as a virtual "deputy" of the president: "I do not want to be an apprentice." However, he doubted that Yeltsin would agree to limit his own powers and not "interfere" in economic matters. In 1991, shortly after he was elected president, Yeltsin offered Fedorov the post of prime minister, but Fedorov refused and Yegor Gaidar was eventually appointed instead. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN SAYS NO TO TV DEBATES.
Speaking in Astrakhan, President Yeltsin rejected Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's offer, delivered by letter on 10 May, to debate him on live television. He explained, "I was a communist for 30 years and have heard enough of this demagoguery, so today, with my democratic outlook, I can't stand this demagoguery anymore," ITAR-TASS reported on 11 May. Yeltsin indicated that he will not face off against any of his challengers. So many candidates are calling for debates, he said, that "If I debate every one, I simply won't have time to fulfill my presidential duties." Incumbent presidents are frequently reluctant to risk making gaffes or elevating the stature of their competitors by debating them on television. -- Laura Belin

PATRIARCH ON ELECTIONS . . .
During a three-day visit to Komi, Patriarch Aleksii II said that in the presidential election the Russian people must make the "right choice" and prevent a return to the religious repression of the past, Radio Rossii and NTV reported on 10 May. Although he stressed that the Russian Orthodox Church takes no part in political battles, his reminders of Soviet-era persecution echoed a theme sounded frequently by Yeltsin in the run-up to the election. Citing "reliable sources," NTV reported that the Kremlin was annoyed that the patriarch had chosen to visit the new Eparchy of Komi, the 51st in Russia, rather than attend V-E Day celebrations in Moscow. -- Penny Morvant

. . . AND FOREIGN PREACHERS.
In Perm on 12 May, the patriarch called on local authorities to adopt legislation regulating the activities of foreign religious organizations "that have nothing in common with Russia's Orthodox traditions," ITAR-TASS reported. Aleksii argued that the Duma is unable to pass such a law because both the parliament and the president are under "strong pressure from the West" not to adopt legislation restricting foreign proselytizing. According to the patriarch, 14 regions have already passed laws on foreign sects. Vyacheslav Polosin, who has participated in drafting new legislation on freedom of conscience, refuted the allegations that the Duma is under pressure from the West, Ekho Moskvy reported. He noted that the "overly strict" and "unconstitutional" draft passed by the Supreme Soviet in 1993 had been opposed by Protestants within Russia as well as by Western countries. -- Penny Morvant

FRESH HOSTILITIES IN CHECHNYA.
Russian forces subjected the town of Urus-Martan, southwest of Grozny, to air bombardment on 10, 11, and 12 May after Chechen guerrillas fired on Russian military helicopters, Russian media reported. The head of the local district administration claimed that the town's population had traditionally not supported Dzhokhar Dudaev's forces. Russian aircraft also attacked Chechen forces in the mountain stronghold of Bamut on 12 May. The situation in Vedeno, which was reportedly occupied by Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev on 11 May, remains unclear. NTV on 10 May cited unidentified Chechen field commanders as stating that acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev is ready to hold direct talks with any member of the Russian leadership who officially denies any connection with Dudaev's death and is empowered to declare a moratorium on hostilities. On 11 May, Dudaev's men released Chechen Health Minister Efim Gelman, who had been held hostage for more than one year, according to Russian Public TV (ORT). -- Liz Fuller

GENERALS FACE PROSECUTION FOR CHECHNYA AMBUSH.
Russian Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev on 12 May blamed Russian military officials for the heavy loss of life when an army convoy was ambushed in Chechnya on 16 April, and told NTV that they may be prosecuted. Kovalev headed the commission which investigated the incident, in which he said 73 servicemen were killed, 52 wounded, and three missing. The rebels also destroyed eight armored vehicles and 20 trucks. Kovalev charged that the military had not set up checkpoints on the road, nor provided proper air and artillery cover. He added that the regiment that was attacked had many untrained and recently deployed soldiers. He said that an investigation into "criminal negligence on the part of the responsible officials" is underway. -- Doug Clarke

SOURCES OF FINANCING FOR CHECHEN REBELS.
Izvestiya on 13 May published a summary of what it claimed is a secret Russian government report on how Chechen separatists have financed their ongoing operations against federal troops. The document alleges funds diverted from federally-funded projects in the republic represent a major source of Chechen rebel financing. Allegations of misuse of reconstruction funds in Chechnya have been widespread in the past. The document claims that other major sources of financing for the rebels are contributions from the Chechen diaspora, operations of Russian commercial banks controlled by the "Chechen-Ingush" mafia, and donations by foreign Muslim organizations based in the Middle East. -- Scott Parrish

FIRST MAYORAL CANDIDATES REGISTERED IN MOSCOW.
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and the former head of the local Communist Party organization, Aleksandr Krasnov, were the first two candidates to submit the required number of nomination signatures to register for the 16 June mayoral election, Ekho Moskvy and Russian TV (RTR) reported on 12 May. Candidates must submit 70,000 signatures or 1% of the total number of eligible voters. Aleksandr Krasnov sided with the rebellious parliament in its clash with the president in October 1993, and was appointed for a short time as Moscow administration head by former vice president and rebel leader Aleksandr Rutskoi. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA, CHINA MAKE JOINT PROPOSAL AT ASEAN FORUM.
Russia and China proposed a security concept for the Asia-Pacific region at a Jakarta meeting of the ASEAN forum on regional security, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 May. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov said the proposed concept was based on the five-power border security agreement signed in Shanghai on 26 April. Panov later reiterated that Russia wants a role in any future talks on a Korean settlement. He added that the recent closure of the Kraskino rail crossing between Russia and North Korea was a "purely commercial" matter caused by unpaid North Korean debts, and had no political overtones. Meanwhile, U.S. Undersecretary of State Winston Lord told ITAR-TASS that the U.S. supports Russia's application for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization (APEC), which has had a moratorium on new members for the past year. -- Scott Parrish

U.S. BUSINESSMAN EXPELLED FROM KAMCHATKA.
In the third espionage incident within a week, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has ordered the expulsion from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii of Richard Oppfelt, head of Seattle Medical Export, for "activities damaging to Russian national security interests," Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 May. Following on the heels of espionage rows with Britain and Estonia, this latest incident has intensified speculation that the FSB is deliberately engineering arrests and expulsions so as to bolster President Yeltsin's re-election campaign. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-NATO TALKS IN BRUSSELS.
Russian Ambassador to NATO Vitalii Churkin met with his counterparts from the 16 member-states of the alliance on 10 May to discuss ongoing IFOR operations in Bosnia and disputed provisions of the 1990 CFE treaty, Reuters and AFP reported. No progress was reported, however, toward breaking the deadlock over the CFE "flank limits," which restrict Russia's holdings of heavy military equipment along its northern and southern borders. Western diplomats had hoped to hammer out a compromise before the opening of a CFE review conference in Vienna on 15 May. -- Scott Parrish



PRIMAKOV IN THE TRANSCAUCASUS.
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov traveled from Yerevan to Baku on 10 May, taking with him 67 Azerbaijani prisoners of war and hostages released by the Armenian authorities, Russian media reported. During talks with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, both men affirmed their commitment to maintaining the existing two-year ceasefire in Karabakh. On 12 May, Primakov flew to Tbilisi, where he held talks with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on South Ossetiya and Abkhazia. Shevardnadze subsequently praised Russia's mediating role and Russian-Georgian relations, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller

IRAN FINALLY AGREES TO STAKE IN SHAH-DENIZ.
Iran has finally accepted Azerbaijan's offer of a 10% stake in the international consortium formed to develop its Shah-Deniz off-shore Caspian oil and gas deposits, Natik Aliev, chairman of Azerbaijan's state oil company, said in an Interfax report cited by AFP on 12 May. The offer was made last year as compensation for the Azerbaijani government's withdrawal, under U.S. pressure, of a previous offer to Iran to participate in the Western consortium formed to exploit the Shirag, Azeri, and Gyuneshli fields. -- Liz Fuller

HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ON UZBEKISTAN.
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki has issued a report on Uzbekistan in which it states that while "well-publicized arrests, detentions, and beatings of political dissidents" have "decreased markedly," basic civil liberties "remain suspended," Reuters reported on 13 May. Surveillance of individuals and media censorship are still commonplace. In particular, the organization expressed its concern over measures taken against members of the country's Islamic community. The report comes at a time when foreign governments, including the U.S., have noted an improvement in Uzbekistan's human rights record. -- Roger Kangas

NAZARBAYEV IN TEHRAN.
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Tehran on 12-13 May to sign an agreement with his Iranian counterpart, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whereby Kazakhstan will export crude oil to Iran in exchange for help in refining and transporting Kazakhstani oil through Iranian ports, Russian and Western media reported. Oil exports are expected to amount to 2 million metric tons per year in the initial stages, with an expected increase to 6 million tons in 10 years. This is the latest in a series of pipeline deals that Kazakhstan has signed, including a deal signed on 27 April with Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 April 1996). -- Roger Kangas

"JUNCTION FOR PLANET' OPENS ON TURKMEN-IRANIAN BORDER.
The greatly publicized rail link between Turkmenistan and Iran was officially opened on 13 May, according to Western and Russian sources. The 300 km line, agreed to in 1991, will for the first time connect Iran to the Central Asian rail network, and is expected to cut travel time between Europe and southeast Asia by up to 10 days. Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurad Niyazov, hosted an opening ceremony for the line attended by 12 heads of state and 700 other officials and journalists. The $216 million Meshhed-Sarakhs-Tedzhen railway will be used by some 500,000 passengers and 2 million metric tons of goods in its first year of operation, and those figures are expected to rise in the near future, Reuters reported. -- Bruce Pannier

"FIERCE" FIGHTING IN TAVIL-DARA.
Tajik government troops and opposition fighters have been locked in "fierce" combat for several days, according to ITAR-TASS. The fighting, which began on 8 May, has spread and the opposition has now reportedly took the town of Tavil-Dara on 12 May. The opposition claims to have killed 45 government soldiers and taken 10 more prisoner, and captured several military vehicles and artillery pieces. The Tajik government has not confirmed any of these claims. -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES DECREE ON TIMELY WAGE PAYMENT.
Leonid Kuchma issued a decree on 12 May aimed at ensuring timely payment of wages, pensions, and stipends by the government and state-owned enterprises, Ukrainian TV reported. The decree stipulates that ministers as well as enterprise managers will be fired if they fail to pay salaries on time. In another decree, Kuchma ordered the State Committee on TV and Radio to launch within 10 days regular broadcasts featuring discussion on the draft basic law by Constitutional Committee members, national and local lawmakers, government officials, legal experts and representatives of civic organizations, Ukrainian radio reported. Kuchma also issued a decree establishing a national athletic training institution to support athletes training for the Olympics and other international sports competitions. Financial support will come from the Kyiv-based "Republican Stadium" company. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST MURDERED.
Police in Cherkasy, in central Ukraine, found the body of a well-known Ukrainian journalist, Ihor Hrushetsky, lying in the street near his home, Ukrainian TV reported on 10 May. Police said Hrushetsky died from a blow to the head and have launched an investigation. Colleagues believe Hrushetsky may have been murdered for his articles on political corruption published in such newspapers as Nezavisimost and the now-defunct Respublika. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY WANTS BLACK SEA BORDER FINALIZED.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has asked Russia to speed up the clarification of the Black Sea border between Russia and Ukraine, NTV reported on 10 May. The request was spurred by the discovery of new gas and oil reserves in the Black Sea shelf. Ukraine wants the border delineated to legalize the ownership of planned drilling sites. Foreign companies have already expressed interest in the reserves. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION APPOINTS NEW ACTING LEADER . . .
The Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) appointed Yuriy Belenky acting Chairman during the absence of its leader Zyanon Paznyak, Belapan reported on 10 May. Belenky was a former parliamentary deputy and a BPF deputy leader. Paznyak fled the country in March after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He returned to Minsk for the 26 April demonstrations but then went into hiding. -- Ustina Markus

. . . AND CALLS ON POLICE TO DISOBEY ILLEGAL ORDERS.
The BPF issued an appeal to the police, courts, and Prosecutor's Office not to obey any illegal orders from Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belapan reported on 9 May. The appeal accused those who carried out such orders of "currying favor with Lukashenka," and states that Lukashenka is not governing the country democratically. It alleges that the courts are passing illegal sentences, police are provoking peaceful demonstrators, and false grounds are being concocted to ban opposition parties. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE, ESTONIA SIGN TAX AGREEMENTS.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and his Estonian counterpart, Tiit Vahi, in Tallinn on 10 May signed agreements on avoiding double taxation and tax evasion, BNS reported. Both countries' justice and communication ministers also signed cooperation agreements. Vahi said he regretted that the free-trade agreement between Estonia and Ukraine, which has been in effect since 14 March, has not been implemented since many Ukrainian border officers are allegedly unaware of the document. Marchuk told Estonian President Lennart Meri that he was impressed with Estonia's economic reforms and might use them as a model in Ukraine. He also thanked Estonia for supporting Ukraine's entry into the Council of Europe and confirmed mutual interests in joining other European organizations. -- Saulius Girnius

HEAD OF ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN CITIZENS' UNION CHARGED WITH TREASON.
Estonian Security Police (ESP) on 10 May started criminal proceedings for treason against Yuri Mishin, the head of Narva's Union of Russian Citizens, ETA and BNS reported. The charge is liable to a penalty of 10 years imprisonment, but Mishin, who is a Russian citizen, is more likely to be expelled as was Petr Rozhok, the head of the Estonian chapter of Russian Liberal Democratic Party, for similar charges. The Estonian press reported that Mishin is accused of urging people at an anti-Estonia rally on 1 May to attack the Narva border check-point. However, Mishin claims he only wanted to draw attention to the difficulties that Russian citizens will encounter after 12 July when their former Soviet passports will no longer be recognized in Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIA, ESTONIA REACH COMPROMISE ON SEA BORDER.
Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele and his Estonian counterpart, Tiit Vahi, on 12 May in the Latvian town of Rujiena reached a compromise on the maritime border in the Gulf of Rigaduring, Western agencies reported. Vahi said in an Estonian Radio interview: "The agreement is that everything above the border is Estonian territory where Estonian fishing rules apply. Everything which is below the line is Latvian territory and Latvian fishing rules apply there." The respective parliaments still have to approve the agreement. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN THE SEJM.
Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati spoke in the Sejm on 9 May and stressed Poland's determination to join NATO and the EU, Polish media reported the next day. Rosati said Poland would not ask for Russian permission to join NATO but would keep Moscow informed. He commented that the OSCE should be strengthened, but "the idea of building on the basis of the OSCE a new crowning institution of European security is neither fortunate nor realistic." He said, "Today we can note with satisfaction a pro-European direction in the policy of Ukraine." He added that Poland is interested in political cooperation with Belarus to strengthen an "independent and sovereign existence for this country." Polish dailies commented that both the Polish government and the opposition agree on foreign policy. -- Jakub Karpinski

SHIPYARD WORKERS DEMONSTRATE IN GDANSK.
Some 4,000 Gdansk shipyard workers demonstrated on 10 May to protest non-payment of their April salaries. The workers sent a written complaint to the Gdansk chief prosecutor who has 30 days to respond to it, Rzeczpospolita reported on 11 May. The shipyard is on the verge of bankruptcy, but Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek said the government does not intend to earmark any money to save it. The shipyard is the site where the Solidarity Union was born in August 1980. -- Jakub Karpinski

NEW ATLANTIC INITIATIVE CONGRESS IN PRAGUE.
Some 300 politicians and other officials from Eastern Europe and the West gathered in Prague on 10 May for a three-day congress of the New Atlantic Initiative, Czech media reported. A declaration adopted at the congress calls for strengthening ties between North America and Europe through democracy, liberalism, and market economy. It further proposes the creation of a Transatlantic free-trade zone. Czech President Vaclav Havel advocated NATO enlargement and warned against isolationism. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also urged for a speedy NATO enlargement and cautioned against military and political separation between Europe and the U.S. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH SKINHEADS ATTACK ROMA.
About 30 skinheads in Brno on 10 May attacked Roma standing near a tram station in a neighborhood called "The Bronx," TV Premiera reported the same day. Other Roma living in nearby buildings came to the victims' defense. Police broke up the ensuing fight and arrested several Romani youths but none of the skinheads. The police actions evoked sharp protest from local Roma, CTK reported on 11 May. -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK POLITICIAN ALLEGES POLITICAL MURDER.
Christian Democratic Movement leader Jan Carnogursky on 10 May claimed that a bullet was found in Robert Remias's belly, Slovak media reported. Reimas was found dead after his car exploded on 29 April. Carnogursky said that a piece of Remias's car found at the scene of the explosion and handed over to Carnogursky's party
had in it several holes. Remias was a , former policeman and friend of Oscar F.--a key witness in the kidnapping case of Slovak President Michal Kovac's son. The president and the opposition claim that Kovac Jr. was kidnapped by the Slovak Intelligence Service. A Slovak police spokesman on 10 May said there was no evidence that Remias was murdered and no bullet was found in Remias's stomach. He suggested, however, that six bullets in the gun owned by Remias probably exploded in the extreme heat of the explosion. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES TV.
Michal Kovac on 12 May sent an open letter to the Slovak TV (STV) Board, in which he questioned STV's role as a public institution, TASR reported. "STV is an institution which is not supposed to serve only a selected group of political entities and irresponsibly manipulate citizens' views," Kovac wrote. He warned that under Slovak law, STV is a public institution "not the coalition parties' or the cabinet's institution." Kovac met with the STV's board chairman on 6 May to request more objectivity in STV programming. However, Kovac said that "STV management's stance has not changed" since the meeting. Kovac wrote that STV's efforts "to censure the president or place some conditions on him [before he appears on TV] are regrettable." On 8 May, STV refused to broadcast the president's address marking the 51st anniversary of the end of World War II. -- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARY TO POSTPONE PURCHASE OF FIGHTER JETS?
The Hungarian government is about to launch an international tender with a $1 billion order for 30 NATO-compatible fighter planes for the Hungarian Armed Forces to replace its aging MiG-21s, international and domestic media reported. The companies Saab, Dassault Aviation, and Lockheed, which respectively produce JAS-39 Gripen, Mirage 2000-5, and F-16 and F-18 fighter jets, have already shown interest in the tender. The Finance and Defense Ministries, however, seem to be at odds over the issue. Finance Ministry officials on 10 May called for shelving the international tender due to financial difficulties. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry is pushing for the deal to go through and expects to reach a purchase agreement by the end of this year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



CROATIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVERRULES TUDJMAN.
The highest Croatian judicial body on 10 May ruled six-to-four in favor of an opposition suit against President Franjo Tudjman's recent dissolution of the Zagreb city council, international and Croatian media reported. The opposition coalition won a majority on the council last October, but Tudjman has since vetoed all four of its proposed candidates for mayor and otherwise tried to hamstring the council's work. He charged that he would not allow the capital to be run by "enemies of state policy." After formally dissolving the city council on 30 April, Tudjman called for a referendum in what was widely seen as an attempt to postpone new council elections that his Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) seemed likely to lose. The latest court decision appears to be a milestone display of independence by the judiciary, which has generally been regarded as an instrument of the HDZ. That party may now find itself forced to take up the opposition's previous offer of power-sharing in return for the HDZ's recognition of an opposition candidate for mayor. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN, BOSNIAN LEADERS MEET.
President Franjo Tudjman on 11 May hosted a meeting in Zagreb with his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic, Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, Bosnian Federation President Kresimir Zubak, and federal Vice President Ejup Ganic. They reached an agreement on a pilot program for the return of refugees to four central Bosnian towns: Muslim-held Bugojno and Travnik, and Croat-held Stolac and Jajce. Another measure called for Bosnia to have a temporary duty-free outlet to the sea through Ploce in Croatia and for Croatian vehicles to be able to transit Bosnia's coastal strip at Neum, which cuts Croatia into two. Izetbegovic told Onasa, moreover, that Bosnians do not need visas for Croatia. All sides sounded optimistic after the meeting, international and regional media reported. But these latest accords sound very similar to previous measures that were agreed upon but remained dead letters due to mistrust and the opposition of local warlords. -- Patrick Moore

HOLBROOKE WARNS ABOUT PARTITION OF BOSNIA.
The man most responsible for the Dayton accords, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, said that the Dayton structure could collapse resulting in the partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He blamed the Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian sides, but singled out the Serbs for not removing from power indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. He doubts that fighting will resume but feels that "the Europeans" have incapacitated the civilian side of Dayton by insisting on multiple chains of command, AFP reported on 12 May. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE CALLS FOR IMF, WORLD BANK TALKS . . .
Rump Yugoslav authorities have requested the "urgent resumption" of talks with the IMF and World Bank, Reuters reported on 12 May. At a meeting of federal authorities the previous day, federal Premier Radoje Kontic asked that IMF and World Bank officials be invited to Belgrade as soon as possible to reopen lines of communication. Dialogue with international financial institutions collapsed in April 1996 when Belgrade demanded that rump Yugoslavia be recognized as the sole successor state of Tito's Yugoslavia as a precondition for continued dialogue. -- Stan Markotich

. . . WHILE BANK GOVERNOR CALLS FOR PREMIER'S RESIGNATION.
Meanwhile, National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic has called for Kontic's resignation, Nasa Borba reported on 11 May. Avramovic has since early April been in open conflict with members of the government over rump Yugoslav relations with international financial institutions. Avramovic alleges in a letter that Kontic flagrantly lied when he remarked that Avramovic had abandoned government policy in talks with IMF officials at the beginning of April. Avramovic advocates obtaining international loans as soon as possible to keep the rump Yugoslav economy from ruin, while federal authorities contend that international financial institutions must first recognize rump Yugoslavia as the successor to Tito's Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY TO LAUNCH OWN RADIO, TV.
The leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor, in Bucharest on 10 May said his party will launch its own radio and TV station "at whatever cost," claiming that the state-run media do not properly reflect the PRM's activities, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. In a related matter, President Ion Iliescu commented on accusations that the BBC's Romanian-language program is broadcasting propaganda for the opposition in the forthcoming elections (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 7 May). He said the BBC was the only foreign station with numerous programs broadcast locally and therefore it should attach "more importance to objectivity." He added that Romania should possibly use the BBC's stations to make Romanian positions known, saying that the matter was one of "reciprocity." -- Michael Shafir

TIRASPOL HAMPERS IMPLEMENTATION OF RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN AGREEMENT.
The Transdniestrian authorities have insisted on talks with Russia to discuss the transfer of Russian military equipment stationed in the breakaway region, and they have refused to recognize the Moldovan-Russian accord on the issue, BASSA-Press reported on 9 May. The Tiraspol leader, Igor Smirnov, on 8 May demanded the talks at a meeting with Vladimir Kitayev, the Russian special ambassador and head of the Russian delegation for talks with Moldova. Stefan Chitac, a military advisor to Smirnov, said none of the Moldovan-Russian military accords on the transfer of the Russian equipment will be carried out. -- Michael Shafir

NEW BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER APPOINTED.
Bulgaria's parliament on 10 May voted to replace Lyubomir Nachev with Nikolai Dobrev, Bulgarian state radio reported the same day. Opposition deputies abstained from the proceedings, saying the government had acted with impropriety by holding the vote without prior debate. Opposition members, some of whom also called for Premier Videnov's resignation, alleged that Dobrev, a high-ranking member of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, was predisposed to working toward a "totalitarian unification of party and state." Nachev resigned following the 3 May slaying of three police officers in Sofia (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 6 May 1996). -- Stan Markotich

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS COMPLAIN ABOUT "CLIMATE OF TERROR."
The Socialists accused the ruling Democratic Party of political manipulation prior to the 26 May elections, Reuters reported on 10 May. They said police illegally detained more than 30 Socialist supporters and destroyed their banners and flags. The Socialists' General Secretary Gramoz Ruci claimed that his party's candidates have been obstructed from meeting with voters. Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi reacted to the charges by saying that "those who complain create the incidents themselves," Albania reported on 12 May. Meanwhile, an unknown culprit smashed the windows of the office of the Socialists' Vice President Luan Hajdaraga, Koha Jone reported the same day. The Socialists claimed that police cars and Democratic Party supporters on 11 May blocked a road, preventing Tirana Socialist leaders from attending an election campaign rally in Durres. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels







XS
SM
MD
LG