YELTSIN CALLS FOR MILITARY REFORM.
Addressing a meeting of the
military's top brass, President Yeltsin declared that Russia must ensure its
military security despite the reduction in international tension since the end
of the Cold War, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. Yeltsin condemned plans to
expand NATO eastward, saying that the West is trying to "reinforce its world
leadership" by advancing "the NATO military machine to the east." He said
Russia must reform its military to adjust to its new strategic situation.
Instead of "hundreds of divisions which exist only on paper," he said, "what we
need is a few dozen divisions made up entirely of professionals." He also
called the maintenance of a strong nuclear deterrent a top priority, promised
to provide sufficient funds for the military, and expressed "general"
satisfaction with the current Defense Ministry leadership. -- Scott Parrish
GRACHEV PANS GROMOV.
At the same meeting, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
accused unnamed, "dishonorable" generals of attempting to undermine him by
fabricating rumors of his imminent dismissal, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May.
Grachev also lambasted an unnamed "colonel general" for independently
presenting military reform plans to President Yeltsin and promising to
implement them if appointed defense minister. Although the general claimed the
reform plans as his own, they were actually copies of plans drawn up by the
Russian General Staff, Grachev said. Grachev's remarks clearly refer to Col.
Gen. Boris Gromov's 23 May meeting with President Yeltsin (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 24 May 1996), which has triggered continuing speculation that
Gromov will replace Grachev. In his remarks, Grachev also attacked the Russian
media for continuing to publish stories that attempt to discredit the military
and its leadership. -- Scott Parrish
ZHIRINOVSKY OFFERS ZYUGANOV, LEBED ALLIANCE.
Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky proposed an alliance whereby he and
Aleksandr Lebed could help Gennadii Zyuganov win the election in the first
round, after which Zhirinovsky would be appointed prime minister and Lebed
defense minister, RTR and ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. He said, "The trouble
with the Communists is that they don't want to form a bloc with anyone and
don't tolerate any opposition. However, Zyuganov still has time to fall on his
knees before me and Lebed." In the past, Zhirinovsky has refused to cooperate
with the Communists and has called Lebed a "traitor." Zyuganov has offered to
join forces with Lebed but has consistently criticized Zhirinovsky's erratic
views and voting record in parliament. LDPR Duma deputies sometimes vote with
the Communists but on crucial votes often back the government. -- Laura Belin
YELTSIN CAMPAIGN OFFERS PRIZE FOR SOVIET-ERA COUPONS.
campaign headquarters in the Republic of Buryatiya is offering 1 million rubles
($200) to the person who has saved the most coupons for food and other consumer
goods dating from the Brezhnev era of "developed socialism," ITAR-TASS reported
on 30 May. The contest is aimed at reminding voters of the shortages and lines
that were common in the Soviet period, which Yeltsin supporters warn could
return if Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov is elected president. -- Laura
PAPER: YELTSIN'S AD CAMPAIGN EFFECTIVE.
President Yeltsin's paid
political advertising campaign, which shows ordinary people explaining why they
support the president but never shows Yeltsin himself, is very effective,
according to Kommersant-Daily on 29 May. The advertising agency Video
International, which developed the successful da-da-nyet-da campaign
before the April 1993 referendum and worked less successfully with Yabloko
before the 1995 parliamentary election, is responsible for the clips. The "man
on the street" approach is connecting with ordinary people who see themselves
in the advertisements, the paper argues. The advertisements were filmed using
real people speaking without any pre-written script. The whole "soap opera"
will have a surprise conclusion that the authors refuse to reveal in advance.
By not showing the candidate, the paper argued, the advertisements are
"unobtrusive" and do not "irritate the viewer." Yeltsin himself approved this
subtle approach. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
VLASOV APPEALS TO PATRIOTISM.
Former world champion weight lifter and
presidential candidate Yurii Vlasov on 29 May called for a policy of "people's
patriotism" and accused the Communists of stealing many of his ideas, including
the name of his People's Patriotic Party (Zyuganov calls himself the leader of
the "coalition of popular-patriotic forces"). Vlasov compared his brand of
nationalism with French Gaullism, claiming that it is a more effective unifying
force than communist or democratic ideals. In his opinion, Yeltsin's policies
have pushed 40% of the population below the poverty line and brought the
government only 3% of the real value of privatized state property. He said that
he expects to win 6-7% of the vote and that he will support neither Yeltsin nor
Zyuganov in the runoff. He is running at less than 1% in the polls and the
media has largely ignored his campaign. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
MOVEMENT "NYET" STICKS TO ANTI-YELTSIN COURSE.
Leaders of the Movement
"Nyet" on 29 May rejected accusations that their call on people to cast votes
against all candidates in the second round could help Zyuganov beat Yeltsin.
They admitted that Zyuganov would get 35% of the vote but argued that "against
all" would gain even more votes if enough people refuse to back Yeltsin. Under
the electoral law, the candidate with the most votes wins the second round as
long as he gains more votes than are cast against all candidates. If "against
all" wins, a new election must be held, in which case Nyet leaders predict
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin or Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov will enter the
race and Aleksandr Lebed and Grigorii Yavlinskii will form an alliance, while
the Communist have no other obvious leader aside from Zyuganov. The Nyet
movement consists mainly of long-time human rights campaigners who claim that
"we are doing what we always do: going out into the square and denouncing the
current government." -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
CHECHEN PEACE PROSPECTS.
Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav
Mikhailov on 29 May suggested that representatives of the Chechen opposition
could participate in a future Chechen coalition government if acting President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's assertion that he is in control of the Chechen military
formations proves to be true, Russian TV (RTR) reported. The commander of the
Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, stated that
he had held talks with unnamed Chechen field commanders who had expressed their
support for President Boris Yeltsin's peace initiative and their readiness to
surrender their weapons. The draft project on power-sharing between the Russian
Federation and Chechnya defines Chechnya as a sovereign state within the
federation with jurisdiction over all aspects of domestic political affairs and
the right to conclude international treaties and agreements, while Russia
retains responsibility for foreign policy, defense and security issues, and
transport, Radio Rossii reported. -- Liz Fuller
BRYANSK GOVERNOR FIRED.
President Yeltsin dismissed Bryansk Oblast
Governor Vladimir Barabanov on 29 May, ITAR-TASS reported. Barabanov was
accused of misusing federal budget funds. He is the fifth governor to be fired
this year for improper use of funds. On 9 April, Izvestiya reported that
the leaders of 14 parties and organizations in the oblast had sent a letter to
Yeltsin appealing to him to sack Barabanov, whom they accused of selling out to
the Communist Party as well as squandering public money. The paper also noted
that Barabanov had appointed Communists to leading positions in the oblast.
Kommersant-Daily argued on 29 May that some of the signatures were
falsified, adding that Barabanov, who refuted the allegations, did not meet
with Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov when the latter visited the oblast on
21 May. The Communists won 35.4% in Bryansk in the December State Duma
election. -- Penny Morvant
ROSTOV, SAKHALIN OBLASTS SIGN POWER-SHARING AGREEMENTS.
At a Kremlin
ceremony, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a series of power sharing
agreements with Rostov Oblast Governor Vladimir Chubov and Sakhalin Oblast
Governor Igor Farkhutdinov, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. The agreements with
Rostov delineate the division of authority between the federal and regional
governments in areas such as tax and budget authority, transport, law
enforcement, land use, and mineral rights. The accords with Sakhalin cover land
use, education, and international economic links, among other issues. To date,
similar agreements have been signed with 18 federation subjects. Chernomyrdin
said the federal government intends to sign similar agreements with all 89
constituent members of the Russian Federation. -- Scott Parrish
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER IN MOSCOW.
Finance Minister Theo Waigel arrived
in Moscow on 29 May with the ostensible goal of signing a double-taxation
treaty, Russian media reported the same day. Waigel met with Yeltsin, who
affirmed his commitment to reform, and with First Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Kadannikov, who described Germany as "Russia's most important and
reliable partner in Europe," according to ITAR-TASS. So far this year, Germany
has promised Russia DM 4 billion in loans, including a DM 1 billion ($650
million) credit announced on 25 May. Germany also holds 46% of Russia's $40
billion debt to the Paris Club, which was rescheduled in March. -- Peter
PRIMAKOV ON RUSSIAN RELATIONS WITH THE WEST.
In a 29 May interview with
the Italian newspaper Corrierre Della Sera , Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov said that despite tensions over issues like NATO expansion,
"the Cold War will not return," but pointedly added that "Russia refuses to be
regarded as the losing side." Primakov insisted that Russia remains a great
power with an independent foreign policy, adding that "some in the West would
like Russia to adopt a submissive stance, but they certainly will not secure
this, no matter who wins the [presidential] election." He also complained that
"NATO does not seem to want an understanding," referring to the rejection of
various compromise offers on the expansion issue extended by Russia over the
past few months. -- Scott Parrish
MORE MONEY FOR TEACHERS.
First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets
announced on 29 May that the government will allocate an additional 2.8
trillion rubles ($558 million) to eliminate teachers' wage arrears and to cover
annual leave payments, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin issued a decree on 16 May
ordering federal bodies to ensure the timely disbursal of holiday pay.
Soskovets also said that the cabinet has decided to set up a new federal body
to deal with fuel and energy supplies to vital institutions. There have been
numerous cases of electricity supplies being cut to education establishments
because of unpaid bills. The new working group will have the right to
redistribute energy resources at the disposal of government bodies and of
enterprises, regardless of their form of ownership. Teachers in Ulan-Ude in
Buryatiya went on strike on 27 May to protest wage arrears. -- Penny Morvant
U.S. RETIREE ASKED TO LEAVE VORONEZH.
The local authorities in Voronezh
have asked retired American Charles Swan to leave the city because of alleged
irregularities in the work of the travel agency he runs, Izvestiya
reported on 29 May. Swan, who used to work for the U.S. State Department,
volunteers at Voronezh University as well as offering free travel services to
students. Izvestiya, which is strongly anti-communist, contended that
the political sympathies of officials at the local branch of the Federal
Migration Service are the real reason for Swan's problems. The paper accused
the authorities of taking steps against an "undesirable foreigner" because they
expect a Communist victory in the presidential election. -- Penny Morvant
RUSSIA TO PROCEED WITH PRIVATIZATION.
Federal Property Fund Deputy
Chairman Vladimir Malin has announced that the government hopes to raise 12.4
trillion rubles ($2.5 billion) this year by selling stakes in major energy and
communications companies, Reuters reported on 29 May. The fund intends to sell
off a 34% stake in Norsi-Oil, a 29% stake in NAFTA-Moskva, and a 1.5% stake in
LUKoil, as well as 25% of shares in Svyazinvest, 22% in Moscow Central
Telegraph, and 1% in the national power grid EES Rossii. Malin said the
government will probably not repeat the controversial loans-for-shares
auctions. The future of privatization depends on the outcome of the
presidential election, since Zyuganov insists on preserving state ownership in
strategic sectors. -- Natalia Gurushina
RELEASE OF TAJIK SOLDIERS MAY BE DELAYED.
The scheduled transfer of 26
government soldiers held prisoner by the Tajik opposition did not take place on
29-30 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The 26 men are among 300-400 men captured during
the fighting in the Tavil-Dara region over the last eight months. The
International Red Cross had arranged the deal and offered to be present at the
transfer, but heavy rain is holding up the arrival of the Red Cross personnel
in the Tavil-Dara region. The Tajik opposition had agreed to release the men,
claiming that they were in poor health and that government blockades of the
area had prevented the opposition forces from offering the prisoners basic
medical care. -- Bruce Pannier
FATE OF KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA IN KAZAKHSTAN.
The People's Court in
the Medeu region of Almaty is holding talks with the Kazakhstani
Procurator-General's Office to urge it to withdraw the proposed ban on
Komsomolskaya pravda , ITAR-TASS reported on 30 May. Supported by a
group of Kazakh writers and political leaders, the Procurator-General's Office
alleged that the newspaper had fomented ethnic discord and attacked the
territorial integrity of Kazakhstan by publishing an interview with Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn in its 23 April issue. Solzhenitsyn's earlier statements endorsing
a recreation of "Greater Russia" by incorporating Russian-inhabited border
regions have made him persona non grata in Kazakhstan. However, a large number
of Kazakhstani journalists claim that the proposed ban is an attempt to
undermine the freedom of the press. Komsomolskaya pravda is the most
popular Russian newspaper in Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave
U.S. OFFERS ADDITIONAL AID TO UKRAINE.
An unidentified U.S. defense
official on 29 May said that the U.S. will provide an additional $43.1 million
to Ukraine for its disarmament efforts, Reuters reported. The money would bring
U.S. aid to Ukraine under a "Cooperative Threat Reduction" program to $400
million. The money is earmarked for dismantling strategic weapons, cleaning up
the missile bases at Pervomaisk and Khmelnitsky, and providing housing for the
retired strategic rocket forces. -- Ustina Markus
CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES OPENING MOSCOW EMBASSY.
added to its agenda the issue of opening an embassy in Moscow due to the
peninsula's increasing trade with Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May.
According to Crimea's Trade Ministry, exports to Russia account for almost half
of all Crimean exports to CIS countries, while imports from Russia make up 41%
of Crimea's total imports. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES BANKING DECREE.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued
a decree entitled, "Measures to Regulate Banking Activities in the Republic of
Belarus," stating that the country's National Bank will set all salaries in the
banking sector, Belarusian radio reported on 29 May. Lukashenka had threatened
to nationalize all banks in the country which the decree does not do, although
it appears to have increased government control over the banking sector. --
NORDIC, BALTIC DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET.
The defense ministers of Denmark,
Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic states had their third annual meeting
in Trakai, Lithuania on 28-29 May, BNS reported. The Nordic ministers expressed
their strong support for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania's NATO and EU
membership. Norwegian Defense Minister Joergen Kosmo said Russia cannot veto
NATO expansion, but should not be left out of the security equation. The
defense ministers also held talks with the three Baltic presidents, who thanked
the Nordic countries for their assistance in the establishment and training of
the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion. The defense ministers' next meeting is
scheduled for May 1997 in Saaremaa, Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius
ESTONIA, SLOVAKIA SIGN FREE TRADE ACCORD.
Estonian and Slovak Foreign
Ministers Siim Kallas and Juraj Schenk signed a free trade agreement in Tallinn
on 29 May, BNS reported. Schenk's one-day trip was the first official visit
between the two states. He also held talks with Estonian Prime Minister Tiit
Vahi. Schenk invited Estonia to join the Central European Free Trade
Association (CEFTA) whose current members are Poland, the Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia. He noted that European integration does not
only mean EU expansion but also regional cooperation. He predicted that CEFTA
will grow into a vast liberal market uniting 150 million people. -- Saulius
POLISH PRIME MINISTER ON SECURITY SERVICES . . .
in a TV speech on 29 May criticized the State Security Office (UOP) for the way
it handled investigations into allegations that his predecessor, Jozef Oleksy,
spied for Russia, Polish dailies reported the next day. A confidential report
from a special internal UOP commission charged with determining whether there
had been irregularities in the inquiry against Oleksy prompted Cimoszewicz's
reaction. Cimoszewicz said irregularities did occur, pointing out that "some of
the original recordings have disappeared and the officers ... are unable to
recall what happened to these tapes. The files now contain only copies pieced
together." He added that there is suspicion that some of the evidence was
manipulated to fit pre-formulated theories. -- Jakub Karpinski
. . . AND NEW NOMINATIONS IN THE SERVICES.
Cimoszewicz appointed Col.
Andrzej Kapkowski as the new UOP chief. Kapkowski had been the acting UOP chief
since February of this year. The Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew
Siemiatkowski nominated the new directorate chiefs in the ministry--Col.
Wojciech Czerniak for intelligence, Col. Wlodzimierz Orlowski for
counter-intelligence, Col. Jerzy Kucharenko for investigation-- to replace the
officers fired on 27 May (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 May 1996).
Siemiatkowski is considering requesting the Prosecutor-General's Office to
investigate the sources of the recent leaks of state secrets,
Rzeczpospolita reported on 30 May. -- Jakub Karpinski
CZECH PRESIDENT PETITIONED TO DISSOLVE REPUBLICAN PARTY FOR ANTI-ROMANI TV
The Independents movement on 28 May requested Vaclav Havel to
dissolve or suspend the Republic-Czechoslovak Republican Party (SPR-RSC) after
Miroslav Sladek, head of the extreme-right party, placed an anti-Romani
election ad on Czech TV. Sladek says in the TV spot, "The Gypsies will either
behave as we do, or they can go. We don't care where, how, and who pays for
it." The ad alleges that Premier Vaclav Klaus courted the Romani vote by
"sending his wife to a Gypsy ball," and that "Sladek would not even let his dog
there," CTK reported the previous day. Havel is still considering the petition
that states the TV ad is in violation of the Charter of Fundamental Human
Rights and Freedoms and the constitution. Emil Scuka, Chairman of the Romani
Civic Initiative, will also file suit against Sladek and Czech TV. -- Alaina
SLOVAK PRESIDENT SUES PRIME MINISTER.
Michal Kovac on 29 May filed
charges against Vladimir Meciar for slander and defamation of the head of
state, Slovak media reported. Kovac was reacting to Meciar's radio interview of
24 May when Meciar accused the president of involvement in the $2.3 million
fraud surrounding the Slovak firm Technopol (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27
May 1996). Besides denying involvement in the fraud, Kovac rejected Meciar's
claims that Kovac influenced the investigation of the Technopol case and knew
about preparations for his son's kidnapping but failed to intervene. Meciar,
who missed the last two cabinet meetings and has not appeared in public since
the broadcast of a controversial telephone conversation between two top
officials, reportedly has "a very bad case of the flu." An April FOCUS poll
published on 30 May showed that if a referendum were held, 41.4% would be
against Kovac's dismissal and 28.7% for it. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK JEWS CRITICIZE DEPUTY'S STATEMENTS.
The Central Union of Jewish
Religious Communities on 28 May issued a protest against statements made early
this month by Slovak National Party deputy Bartolomej Kunc on a program on the
Czech TV station Nova, Slovak and international media reported the following
day. Kunc said the deportation of Slovak Jews during World War II was an
attempt to fix "a bad situation," in which "too much of the national wealth was
owned by only a few people... There was a concentration of property in Jewish
hands." He also blamed "the exploitation and impoverishment of the Slovak
people" on Jews. Leaders of Slovakia's Jewish community, which now has only
about 3,000 members, called Kunc's remarks, "the incarnation of the whole
spectrum of anti-Semitic stereotypes formerly spread by fascist and Nazi
propaganda and repeated today by sympathizers of Slovak fascism." -- Sharon
FINAL RESULTS IN FIRST ROUND OF ALBANIAN ELECTIONS PUBLISHED . . .
According to the Central Electoral Commission, the Democratic Party won 95 out
of 115 direct seats in parliament, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 30 May.
The Socialist Party received 5 seats, and the ethnic Greek Party for the
Defense of Human Rights (PBDNJ) two in Gjirokastra and Saranda. The elections
will be repeated in two districts in Fier and one in Puke due to
irregularities. The second round of the elections on 2 June will determine 10
more seats. The Socialist Party, the Social Democrats, the Democratic Alliance,
the Party of National Unity, and the Party of the Democratic Right have
announced their boycott of the elections and demand new elections. Meanwhile,
the two PBDNJ deputies opposed their party leadership's decision and said they
would not boycott parliament. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana
. . . OPPOSITION CONTINUES WITH PROTEST RALLIES.
After police violently
broke up an opposition rally the previous day in Tirana, the Socialist Party
continued to hold demonstrations on 29 May in Tepelena, Vlora, Fier, Kucova,
and Korca. In Fier, the police surrounded the Socialist Party headquarters in
an attempt to arrest local party leader Petro Koci but failed when a large
number of his supporters blocked the building's entrance. Gazeta Shqiptare
said many people "among whom a majority [were] women and elderly," were
injured during the clashes there. No incidents were reported elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party blamed the secret police for the mysterious 28
May killing of a Eurosocialist (member of the Socialist's youth organization)
in Tirana. The Interior Ministry, however, announced that they arrested a
suspect, who is a known criminal. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana
BRIDGE EXPLODES IN NORTHEASTERN BOSNIA.
Unknown persons blew up a bridge
connecting the Republika Srpska with federal territory in an area where Russian
IFOR troops are located. The bridge links the settlement of Teocak with the
Bijeljina-Tuzla road and was the site of numerous prisoner exchanges during the
war. IFOR and the international police are investigating, Nasa Borba
reported on 30 May. Meanwhile, hard-line Serbs have expelled at least 100
Muslims from Teslic in central Bosnia in what UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski
called "the worst wave of attacks on Muslims since the Dayton agreement was
signed." Bombings, other acts of violence, and threats have been used to drive
Muslims out of an area where they made up 21% of the prewar population, Reuters
said on 29 May. -- Patrick Moore
DID THE FRENCH PRESIDENT PLAY THE KEY ROLE IN SREBRENICA'S FALL?
British TV documentary has produced new evidence suggesting that Jacques Chirac
held up air strikes against Bosnian Serbs who were attacking Srebrenica last
July. British commander Gen. Rupert Smith requested the raids that were to
protect the "safe area" and had the backing of UN officials in New York. Chirac
reportedly told French Gen. Bernard Janvier to hold off on the raids. The
documentary indicated that the French made a deal with Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko
Mladic to end air strikes in return for freeing UN hostages held by the Serbs.
The UN's chief official for Bosnia, Yasushi Akashi, supported Janvier against
Smith, AFP reported on 29 May. The fall of Srebrenica led to the worst atrocity
in Europe since World War II, in which up to 7,000 mainly Muslim males are
presumed to have been murdered. Until now the blame has been laid chiefly on
the Dutch UNPROFOR troops stationed in Srebrenica or on British elite SAS units
operating nearby. -- Patrick Moore
The UN has resumed efforts at exploring sites of
possible mass graves in eastern Bosnia, where many of the victims of the
Srebrenica massacre are believed to be buried. In The Hague, the war crimes
tribunal said it will hear testimony from Drazen Erdemovic--a Croatian veteran
of the Bosnian Serb forces--who has admitted to complicity in the killings, AFP
reported on 29 May. In Sarajevo, federal President Kresimir Zubak announced
that the U.S. firm Military Professional Resources will train and help equip
federal troops. The organization is based near Washington D.C. and is staffed
by retired U.S. military personnel. The program outlined in the Dayton
agreement is estimated to cost $800 million, but only the U.S. and Turkey have
made any firm pledges of money so far. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT POLICY RESETTLES MUSLIM REFUGEES IN SARAJEVO.
While Bosnian Serbs who fled the Sarajevo suburb of Vogosca before it reverted
to the Bosnian Federation are applying to return to their homes, the Bosnian
government has decided to resettle about 8,000 Muslims displaced from the
Serb-held town of Doboj in northern Bosnia in abandoned Serbian houses in
Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje reported on 29-30 May. The decision was made at a
secret meeting of the Ministry for Refugees in the first half of May. The
refugees from Doboj have been contacted and invited to come and live in
Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje quoted Doboj's former municipal authorities as
saying. Ekrem Ajanovic, an MP from the town of Tesanj, south of Doboj, at the
parliamentary meeting on 28 May criticized the government decision, which he
said runs counter to official policy and the right of refugees to return to
their homes. -- Daria Sito Sucic
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELGRADE.
Yevgenii Primakov met on 29 May
with his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, for talks on the status
of the Dayton peace process. Primakov did not confirm that the fates of Bosnian
Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic were discussed, but both
ministers agreed rump Yugoslavia "fully respected and fulfilled all its duties
in accordance with the Dayton-Paris agreement," Tanjug reported. Primakov's
visit is roughly a week after Washington officials said they would lobby for
the re-imposition of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia should Belgrade continue
to fail to honor commitments concerning the extradition of accused war
criminals. Primakov was to conclude his Belgrade visit after meetings with
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic,
Nasa Borba reported on 30 May. -- Stan Markotich
RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER SLAMS IMF.
Radoje Kontic on 29 May dubbed as
"black mail" the "political conditions" the IMF has made contingent for the
continuation of discussions with Belgrade. Reuters quoted the premier as adding
"[rump] Yugoslavia wants to see political issues dealt with by competent
international political bodies and not the IMF and the World Bank." Talks
between Belgrade and the financial institutions broke down in 1996, owing to
rump Yugoslavia's refusal to back away from its demand to be recognized as the
successor state to Tito's Yugoslavia as a precondition for accepting membership
in the IMF and World bank. Kontic's latest set of remarks and Belgrade's
continuing refusal to step away formally from the demand suggest that relations
with the international bodies are likely to be strained through the foreseeable
future. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIA DEMANDS EXTRADITION OF TAIWANESE SAILORS.
Prosecutor-General's Office and the Supreme Court demanded the extradition from
Canada of the captain and six officers of a Taiwanese ship, Romanian and
western media reported. The demand came in connection with the case of three
Romanian stowaways reportedly dumped overboard on the high seas in what has
been described as an "abominable crime." According to press reports, the
Taiwanese captain of the "Maersk Dubai" container ship ordered his Filipino
crew to force two of the Romanians into a makeshift raft on 12 March. A third
Romanian stowaway disappeared six day later, while a fourth eventually reached
the Canadian port of Halifax after crew members hid him. Romania announced it
will dispatch two prosecutors and a police officer to Canada to investigate the
case. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS DNIESTER LEADER.
Andrei Sangheli on 28 May
met Igor Smirnov, president of the self-proclaimed "Dniester republic,"
BASA-press reported the next day. As part of the negotiations aimed to solve
the Dniester conflict, the two sides discussed financial and economic ties
between Chisinau and Tiraspol, including the possibility to increase
electricity production at the Cuciurgan and Dubasari power plants. Also on the
agenda were the need to speed up the electrification of some railway segments,
relations between the Moldovan and Dniester Chambers of Commerce and Industry,
and the repayment of Russia's credit granted to the breakaway Dniester region
in 1993-94. -- Matyas Szabo
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES AUSTERITY MEASURES.
Zhan Videnov on
29 May announced new austerity measures agreed on with the IMF, Reuters
reported. In an address to the parliament, he said the agreement gives Bulgaria
the chance "to weather successfully the hardest period in our transition,"
adding that the alternative is "the collapse of the country." The measures
include closing down 64 unprofitable state enterprises, cutting off credits to
70 more companies, and shutting down up to five insolvent banks. The government
will also raise the VAT in June, reportedly from 18% to 22%, increase excise
duties on alcohol, and introduce an import tax on all goods. Videnov said the
government hopes this way to collect 140 billion leva ($920 million) in 1996.
He urged all political parties, the trade unions, and citizens to back the
measures. -- Stefan Krause
BREAD SHORTAGE IN BULGARIA.
As the grain and bread shortage in Bulgaria
continues, local authorities started to introduce measures to secure a basic
supply, Trud and Demokratsiya reported on 30 May. The mayors of
Asenovgrad and Chiprovtsi introduced bread rationing in their towns. In other
places, supplies are expected to run out within days, and 13 villages in the
Rhodope mountains reportedly have not had bread for a week. In Plovdiv, Mayor
Spas Garnevski ordered that only two loaves of bread be sold per customer. The
country's biggest private mill in Mezdra stopped production a few days ago.
Meanwhile, Socialist deputies continue to demand the resignation of several
ministers, including Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov, Kontinent
reported. But Premier Videnov, during a Socialist parliamentary faction meeting
on 28 May, ruled out any personnel changes in the government. -- Stefan
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels