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Newsline - June 7, 1996


NAZRAN TALKS ADJOURN WITHOUT AGREEMENT.
The Russian-Chechen talks in Nazran adjourned for three days on 6 June after the two sides failed to sign a written agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Chechen side continues to insist that a Russian troop withdrawal should precede demilitarization, and that the elections to a new People's Assembly scheduled for 16 June should be postponed. The Russian delegation proposes that the Russian troop withdrawal and the disarming of Chechen detachments proceed simultaneously. The head of the Russian delegation, Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, condemned the Chechen position as "unconstructive and unrealistic," Radio Rossii reported. The spokesman for the Russian government commission for a settlement of the conflict, Sergei Slipchenko, sharply criticized Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev for making disparaging comments about the Chechen separatist leadership, according to Russian Public TV (ORT). Moskovskie novosti (issue no. 22) predicted that Zavgaev would be replaced soon, possibly by former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN SAYS THERE IS NO WAR IN CHECHNYA. . .
On a campaign swing through Tver, President Boris Yeltsin claimed that "there is no war in Chechnya, it is only a battle with crime," NTV reported 6 June. He said all that remained of the resistance was small bands of "three, five, or 10 people." In a conversation with the oblast leadership, Yeltsin called for a treaty between the federal government and Tver as a way to solve the economically depressed region's problems. He criticized local authorities for not keeping tight control over the enterprise directors in their area, arguing that many of the directors had simply stopped working. He accused some directors of holding up wage payments to their employees even though they had the money to pay them. -- Robert Orttung

. . .AND SIGNS DECREE ON IMPLEMENTING HIS DECREES.
While in Tver, the president signed a decree that specifies penalties for bureaucrats who do not carry out presidential decrees. The punishments range from administrative discipline to being fired, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 6 June. Yeltsin said that "I constantly hear: the decree is not working, the law does not function" and called on ordinary citizens to point out who was ignoring these orders, ITAR-TASS reported. The constitution requires that Yeltsin's decrees be implemented throughout Russia. Yeltsin is obviously concerned about the general collapse in the state's ability to carry out its functions but apart from issuing yet another decree seems to have no real plan to solve the problem. Yeltsin remarked that he signed the decree at 3.00 am. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV DECLARES "NO CIVIL WAR AFTER THE ELECTION."
During a campaign stop in Krasnoyarsk, Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov said that if he wins the election but is not allowed to take office, people could take to the streets and say "`we voted and we demand that our will be implemented.'" He predicted that this demonstration would be "peaceful" and in accordance with "European standards." Describing himself as "the most peaceful man on the planet," Zyuganov said that "there will be no civil war after the presidential election." -- Robert Orttung

LDPR DEPUTY PROPOSES PACT ON SOCIAL POLICY.
Sergei Kalashnikov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Labor and Social Policy, proposed on 6 June that all presidential candidates sign a "social pact" setting the fundamental terms for adopting a new social policy. According to Kalashnikov, whoever wins the election will be a "hostage" to his own campaign promises and will be forced to work with political opponents to implement a new policy. Kalashnikov is a leading member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; he declined to say who he would support if President Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov face each other in the second round. His proposal dovetails with Zhirinovsky's recent offers to form a coalition with various presidential rivals. Appearing on Russian TV (RTR) on 6 June, Zhirinovsky struck a similarly conciliatory tone, saying the country should not be divided into opposing groups of communists, democrats, and patriots. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

YAVLINSKII SLAMS YELTSIN "TRICKS". . .
President Yeltsin's recent maneuvers on the Chechen crisis, including his 28 May trip to Grozny and his negotiations with separatist representatives in Moscow, were merely campaign "tricks" rather than serious attempts to end the war, according to Grigorii Yavlinskii. He said on 6 June that Yeltsin's campaign is violating the law on presidential elections by doling out gifts to voters funded at the taxpayers' expense. He added that the media is "manipulated" and engages in censorship to keep candidates other than Yeltsin off news programs. Yavlinskii told OMRI that a 5 June article in Moskovskii komsomolets, which alleged that his campaign is fraught with internal discord and mismanagement of party finances, was not important because, he argued, in any party with thousands of workers and volunteers, there is bound to be disagreement. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

LUZHKOV'S RUNNING MATE INJURED IN BLAST.
Valerii Shantsev, who is running for the post of deputy mayor of Moscow, and an aide were injured on 7 June in an explosion at the entrance to Shantsev's apartment block, Russian and Western agencies reported. Shantsev, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's running mate in the 16 June mayoral election, was hospitalized and is said to be in a satisfactory condition. Currently prefect of Moscow's southern okrug, Shantsev was a secretary of the Moscow City Communist Party Committee from 1990 to 1991. -- Penny Morvant

ST. PETERSBURG GOVERNOR APPOINTS DEPUTY.
The day after his inauguration, St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev appointed Vyacheslav Shcherbakov as his first deputy, Radio Rossii reported on 6 June. Shcherbakov had been a gubernatorial candidate but withdrew from the race before the first round of election and threw his support behind Yakovlev. Currently a deputy of the city Legislative Assembly, he was elected former Mayor Anatolii Sobchak's deputy mayor in 1991 but was dismissed by Sobchak in 1994 after supporting the rebel federal parliament in its October 1993 clash with the president. Shcherbakov is a rear admiral and professor at the St. Petersburg Naval Academy. In the December 1995 parliamentary election he ran on the unsuccessful party list of the Ivan Rybkin bloc. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA CONDUCTS ICBM TEST.
Russia successfully tested an SS-19 ICBM on 6 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The 20-year-old missile was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome and all six warheads hit their designated targets in Kamchatka Oblast. According to Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, chief of staff of the Russian strategic missile forces, this was the 26th ICBM test since 1991. He added that despite its age the missile performed without any malfunction. -- Constantine Dmitriev

FOREIGN MINISTRY: BERLIN MEETING A SUCCESS FOR RUSSIA.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin declared on 6 June that at the recent meeting in Berlin between Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his NATO counterparts, NATO had "heard Russia's worries" and "dropped the idea that expansion was determined," Reuters reported, citing Interfax. Karasin argued that NATO leaders are now reconsidering the alliance's enlargement because of Yeltsin's firm position on the issue. The same day, the presidential administration newspaper, Rossiiskie vesti, published an article contending that the meeting showed that NATO had now adopted a "sober" and "realistic" position, realizing that Russian interests must be considered in any decisions about enlargement. However, speaking in Rome on the same day, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana reiterated that "enlargement of the alliance will take place," although he added that any expansion "must take into account" Russian concerns. -- Scott Parrish

WEU HEAD IN MOSCOW.
Beginning a two-day visit, the secretary-general of the West European Union (WEU), Jose Cutileiro, discussed European security and Russian-WEU cooperation with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 6 June, Western agencies reported. Cutileiro, the first head of the 14-member organization to visit Moscow, said the WEU wants to increase cooperation with Russia, although he admitted that currently there are "not many" areas of cooperation. While silent on the issue of NATO enlargement, the WEU chief noted that Russia plays an important role in European security, and predicted that there would be no renewed confrontation between Russia and the West, no matter who wins the upcoming Russian election. Cutileiro is also scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and parliamentary deputies. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-NORTH KOREAN RAILROAD DISPUTE.
Railway officials in Primorskii Krai told ITAR-TASS on 6 June that they will continue to block rail traffic into North Korea because of Pyongyang's failure to pay a $20 million debt. Since the beginning of May, the railway has refused to let any trains cross the border, said spokesman Yurii Khomichuk, adding that prior to the blockade, about 50 freight cars per day crossed into North Korea, currently undergoing severe economic difficulties. On the same day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov said Russia does not intend to politicize the dispute, and hopes for a speedy resolution but added that the Russian Far East has suffered considerable economic losses as the result of North Korea's failure to pay its debts. -- Scott Parrish

OMON BREAKS UP SHIPYARD WORKERS' PROTEST.
OMON special militia detachments were used to disperse the Gorokhovets shipyard workers who blocked the main Moscow-Nizhnii Novgorod highway on 5 June to protest wage arrears, Radio Rossii reported the following day. The Interior Ministry forces were on guard at the gates of the plant on 6 June to prevent further protests. Unable to adapt to economic reform, the shipyard is on the verge of closure (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June 1996). -- Penny Morvant

FURTHER INTERNATIONAL LOANS FOR RUSSIA.
The IMF has approved the release of the fourth tranche ($330 million) of its $10.1 billion Extended Facility Fund loan to Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. An IMF working group reported that Russia had complied with the principles of the credit agreement in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the World Bank announced it will lend Russia $270 million to improve the health care system, Kommersant-Daily reported on 6 June. Money will be spent on training programs and purchasing medical equipment, much of which will probably have to be imported. -- Natalia Gurushina

SMALL BUSINESS UPDATE.
There are 877,000 small businesses in Russia, accounting for about 15% of the labor force and 12% of Russia's GDP, Vyacheslav Prokhorov, chairman of the State Committee for the Support of Small Business, told ITAR-TASS on 6 June. Small businesses--defined as those with less than 200 workers--employ 8.9 million people full-time and another 5 million part-time. Their number has shrunk by 2% since 1994. Private investment in the sector reached about 28 trillion rubles ($5.6 billion) by the start of 1996. These are all official estimates; the inclusion of informal activity would boost the role of small businesses considerably. Factors holding back their development include high taxes, bureaucratic red-tape, and pressure from extortionists. -- Peter Rutland



GEORGIA'S ARMENIAN COMMUNITY AGAIN RAISES QUESTION OF AUTONOMY.
The predominantly ethnic Armenian population of Georgia's Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki raions, which border on Armenia, took advantage of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan's visit to the region on 5 June to demand some degree of autonomy, NTV reported. The Georgian Interior Ministry has refuted Georgian media reports that Armenian military units violated the frontier and advanced 4 km into Georgian territory, according to BGI on 6 June. There are approximately 500,000 Armenians in Georgia, or 10% of the entire population. -- Liz Fuller

KAZAKHSTAN WRITES OFF FARM DEBTS.
Faced with a severe economic crisis, the Kazakhstani government has decided to write off half the debt of agricultural commodity producers, including the entire amount of interest owed, Deputy Prime Minister Zhanibek Karibzhanov told ITAR-TASS at a press conference on 6 June. The government has also decided to write off the farmers' arrears in electricity payments until the period ending on 1 May. A total $300 million of debt has been written off. -- Bhavna Dave

JAPAN PLEDGES MONEY FOR KYRGYZ AIRPORT.
Kyrgyz officials announced on 6 June that Japan will extend a $55 million credit to Kyrgyzstan for improving the Manas Airport in Bishkek, RFE/RL and AFP reported. Japan has invested about $160 million in Kyrgyzstan since the Central Asian nation gained independence in 1991. The same day the Asian Development Bank announced that it will provide a $30 million concessional loan to Kyrgyzstan to upgrade its power and heating sector. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIK REFUGEES A PROBLEM IN ALTAI KRAI.
Refugees from Tajikistan who have turned to begging in order to live are creating a large problem in Russia's Altai Krai and Gornyi Altai Republic, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 June. Viktor Oblogin, the mayor of Gorno-Altaisk, the republic's capital, expelled the Tajiks from the city and in so doing created a problem in neighboring Altai Krai. The report claims Tajik beggars lined the streets and often carried disease such as malaria and cholera. The forced relocation of the Tajiks has already begun. Buses have brought them to a no man's land called "Freedom Valley" on the border of the Gornyi Altai Republic and Altai Krai. -- Bruce Pannier



FINANCIAL PROBLEMS WITH CHORNOBYL CLOSURE.
After meeting with G-7 representatives for two days in Kyiv, Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko announced that the government might have to reconsider its plans to close the Chornobyl plant due to lack of financing, international agencies reported on 6 June. Kostenko said Ukraine needs $840 million immediately to finish constructing two reactors at the Khmelnytsky and Rivne power stations to make up for the loss of energy should Chornobyl be shut down. In December 1995, the G-7 agreed to a $3.1 billion aid package for the closure but did not decide on a specific timetable for the release of the funds. Head of the G-7 delegation Claude Mandil said some agreements were reached during talks, including a more specific plan on distributing over 10 years $1.4 billion for the closure and a $170 million grant for building storage and processing facilities. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT SETS UP STATE COAL RESERVE.
The Ukrainian government has allocated 6 trillion karbovantsi ($32 million) to set up by 15 September a 5.5-million-ton state coal reserve at the country's power stations, UNIAN reported on 5 June as monitored by the BBC. The cabinet has also approved providing state guarantees for commercial bank loans worth 17 trillion karbovantsi to buy Ukrainian-made supplies and machinery for the coal sector. It is also planning further state support for coal enterprises that produce chiefly for the Ukrainian market. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMBITIOUS ECONOMIC PLAN.
Crimean lawmakers have approved an ambitious regional government plan for the social and economic development of the peninsula, UNIAR reported on 5 June, as monitored by the BBC. The plan forecasts a 1.4% rise in industrial output and a 22.7% jump in agricultural production by next year. It also predicts a 56% increase in wages and a doubling in pension benefits. The scheme calls for increased oil and gas production through the development of oil and gas wells at the Shtormovoye and Semenovskoye deposits in the region. It also forecasts a recovery in the troubled Crimean tourism industry, with 3.5 million visitors expected this year compared to 2.5 million in 1995. Crimean officials believe the pace of privatization will speed up when the region's some 600 coveted health resorts and chief industries go up for sale in the near future. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ESTONIA LAYS FOUNDATION FOR EU INTEGRATION.
The Estonian government on 6 June approved the country's EU integration plan, which states the accession will take place no sooner than 2001 or 2002, ETA reported. Director of the European Integration Bureau Riivo Snijarv noted that for Estonia EU membership will mean access to a market of 380 million consumers. A poll by the Estonian Market Research AS indicated that Estonians are well informed about EU policies and 72% would participate in a referendum on joining the EU, with 47% voting for the integration and 24% voting against it. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA'S LITIMPEKS BANK ALLOWED TO RESUME ALL OPERATIONS.
The board of the Bank of Lithuania on 6 June decided to allow Litimpeks Bank to resume all operations from 10 June, Radio Lithuania reported. The Litimpeks Bank's board is to be elected on 7 June, with its former leader Gintautas Preidys as one of its candidates. The suspension of the activities of Litimpeks and the Joint Stock Innovation Bank in December 1995 resulted in a serious banking crises from which Lithuania is still recovering. Lithuania currently has 27 banks of which nine are facing bankruptcy proceedings and only 11 are fully operational. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH CATHOLIC LEADERS SPEAK OUT ON SOCIAL ISSUES.
At a procession in Warsaw of some 15,000 Poles celebrating Corpus Christi, Primate Jozef Glemp stressed the right to life of the unborn and the need to ratify a concordat that would clarify church-state relations, Rzeczpospolita reported on 7 June. Glemp said the family is being degraded by the
Polish law, media, and economic conditions. He criticized feminist movements saying they aim to abolish marriage and consequently, the happiness of women. Cracow's Cardinal Jozef Macharski also called for the rejection of nationalism and intolerance. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

EURO-JEWISH CONGRESS CRITICIZES POLISH ANTI-SEMITES.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) on 6 June said that a car explosion on 4 June near a Jewish restaurant in Warsaw is the latest in a series of anti-Semitic acts in Poland over last few weeks. The blast shattered windows but caused no casualties. The EJC linked the attack to anti-Semitic statements made by Edward Moskal, the leader of Americans of Polish origin, and to the resumed construction of a shopping center just outside the Auschwitz death camp (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 June 1996). Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski had ordered police to stop the construction at Auschwitz and the Warsaw government had agreed that the project is inappropriate. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH PRESIDENT ASKS INCUMBENT PRIME MINISTER TO FORM GOVERNMENT.
Vaclav Havel on 6 May designated Vaclav Klaus to form a minority government and on 7 May called the first session of the new parliament for 17 June, Czech media reported. Klaus's Civic Democratic Party won the 31 May-1 June elections, but the Klaus-led coalition of right-of-center parties failed to win a parliamentary majority. The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) have indicated they will support a minority government in exchange for posts in the leadership of the parliament, including that of the parliament's chairman. They are also demanding that the coalition alter its social, housing, and education policies to reflect the CSSD's objectives. Most Czech analysts agree that forming a coalition government that complies with the CSSD's demands will be difficult and that such a government may be only a temporary solution until new elections can be called. -- Jiri Pehe

FORMER ROMANI REPRESENTATIVE TO RUN FOR SENATE.
Ladislav Body, who had been the only Romani representative in the Czech parliament but whose Left Bloc party was unsuccessful in last week's parliamentary elections, told TASR on 6 June that he will run for the Senate in November. While he voiced approval of the state's recent amendment to its citizenship law, he also emphasized the need for Romani political representation. -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK OPPOSITION FIGURE INTERPRETS COALITION CONFLICT.
Milan Knazko of the Democratic Union on 6 June accused the Slovak National Party (SNS) of blackmailing Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar in an attempt to gain a bigger share in privatization, Slovak media reported. SNS chairman Jan Slota's request that the parliamentary organ overseeing the Slovak Information Service (SIS) be expanded to include opposition representatives is "only propaganda," Knazko stressed, adding that Slota knows this would allow the opposition to determine SIS involvement in the kidnapping of the president's son. Recent management changes at the state insurance firm Slovenska poistovna sparked the SNS's rebellion. However, Sergej Kozlik, Finance Minister and Meciar's ally, told TASR on 6 June that the new leadership was legally elected. Kozlik criticized National Property Fund Presidium President Stefan Gavornik, claiming that instead of dealing with the insurance firm's problems, Gavornik took the position of a "dead beetle." -- Sharon Fisher

PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON HUNGARY'S NEW CONSTITUTION ENDS.
The parliament on 6 June ended a month-long general debate on the new draft constitution, Hungarian dailies reported. The final draft was prepared by an all parliamentary party committee and then presented in late March. The coalition parties--the Socialists and Free Democrats--would like to complete the final text of the constitution by December and push the bill through this year. Meanwhile, some opposition parties suggested that only amendments be made to the current constitution and the drafting of a new constitution be postponed until after the 1998 elections. The opposition Smallholders' Party rejected the draft constitution and recommended that both the plan and the final version be approved by a referendum, arguing that society was not given the time and opportunity to familiarize itself with the concept. The coalition politicians rejected this argument and pointed out that the full text of the draft was published in the daily press in June 1995. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



NATO VEHICLES SURROUND KARADZIC'S HOUSE.
NATO troops have stepped up their psychological campaign against the Bosnian Serb leadership, which recently included the reported use of helicopters to chase Col. Slavko Aleksic near Sarajevo. Three armored personnel carriers were deployed around the home of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic in Pale and pointed their barrels at it, Onasa reported on 6 June. The vehicles left the scene after a group of civilians gathered between the house and the armored vehicles. IFOR has also stepped up patrols in the Bosnian Serb capital. Meanwhile in Washington, the Pentagon announced on 6 June that Vice Adm. T. Joseph Lopez will replace Adm. Leighton Smith as NATO commander in southern Europe and in Bosnia this summer. Spokesmen stressed that the move reflects normal rotations of personnel and has nothing to do with policy, AFP noted. -- Patrick Moore

HAGUE COURT WANTS SANCTIONS AGAINST PALE AND BELGRADE.
Antonio Cassese, the head of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, told a news conference in Sarajevo on 6 June that the court wants the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt to implement sanctions against the Republika Srpska. He said he will formally launch the proposal at the upcoming international summit on Bosnia-Herzegovina in Florence. Cassese added that he "probably" will also ask for sanctions to be reimposed on rump Yugoslavia, Onasa and Nasa Borba noted. He stressed that neither Serb state is properly cooperating with the court as the Dayton agreement obliges them to do. He told Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic that the Bosnian government is the only one in the former Yugoslavia that is meeting its obligations to cooperate. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN UPDATE.
Delegations representing rump Yugoslavia, Croatia, the Bosnian Federation, the Republika Srpska, and the Bosnian government met a midnight deadline to complete an arms limitation agreement in Vienna on 6 June, AFP reported. The Norwegian OSCE mediator said that the 90-page basic text has been written and only a few details remain to be ironed out. Such an agreement is specified in the Dayton treaty and will take effect after being signed in Oslo on 11 June. Meanwhile in Bosnia, representatives of Serbs loyal to the Bosnian government and to a multi-ethnic Bosnia strongly protested discrimination against Serbs on federal territory, particularly in the Sarajevo suburbs, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje noted on 7 June. Elsewhere, a cross-border bus between Banja Luka and Zenica completed its journey on 6 June after a "short dispute" with Bosnian Serb police who had stopped it, Onasa said. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN FEDERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 21 AMENDMENTS.
The federal assembly at its constitutional session on 5 June adopted 21 amendments to the constitution, Onasa reported. This followed complaints from federal President Kresimir Zubak that the laws adopted by the Bosnian Republic Assembly were illegitimate. However, no agreement was reached on the amendments relating to the federation's defense, customs service, diplomatic-consular missions, and the Sarajevo city organization. The biggest controversy is over a defense bill intended to integrate the Croatian and Muslim armies within three years. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic emphasized that the two parties still have separate armies and "unfortunately they cannot be eliminated by the stroke of a pen," Reuters reported on 6 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic

RUMP YUGOSLAVIA TO OPEN CONSULATE IN CROATIA.
Rump Yugoslavia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 6 June that the Yugoslav government bureau in Zagreb will start to function as a consulate from 15 June, Nasa Borba reported the next day. The consulate will be in charge of protecting rump Yugoslavia's interests in Croatia. The office will also issue passports and visas. In another development, Eastern Slavonian Serbs asked the UN to extend the mandate for its transitional authority (UNTAES) by one year, AFP reported on 6 June. Croatian Serbs also decided to form a 15-member "expert council" to hold talks with Croatia on the future status of the region. Eastern Slavonia is slated to be returned to the Croatian government, while under the Dayton peace accords UNTAES has a 12-month mandate, which can be extended by an additional year, to insure the peaceful transition of the territory. -- Daria Sito Sucic

RELEASED SERBIAN PRISONERS ARRIVE IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Sixty of 78 ethnic Serbian prisoners freed by Croatia in accordance with an amnesty that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman announced at the end of May arrived in rump Yugoslavia on 6 June, having been transported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Nasa Borba reported the next day. All 78 were arrested during Croatia's August 1995 Operation Storm mission to reclaim territory held by Serbian rebel forces. The prisoners were charged for their roles in the 1991 Krajina Serb uprising against Croatia. All received pardons on 30 May, and 18 decided to stay in Croatia, Reuters reported on 6 June. -- Stan Markotich

MOLDOVA PROTESTS CHANGE IN RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPING FORCES.
Senior Moldovan officials protested Russia's decision to transfer a battalion belonging to its troops based in eastern Moldova to the peacekeeping forces in that region, Moldovan news agencies reported on 6 June. The move took place on 30 May when more than 200 military and dozens of armored vehicles were dispatched to the town of Tighina (Bendery) to join the peacekeeping forces there. Victor Cecan, Moldova's representative on the Joint Control Commission, said that the decision is in violation of a July 1992 Moldovan-Russian convention on the settlement of the Dniester conflict that provided for the strict neutrality of the former 14th Russian Army. Moldova wants Russia to withdraw this army, re-named Operational Group last summer. The Russian military attache in Chisinau claimed that the move was "due to purely financial reasons." -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER RESIGNS.
Svetoslav Shivarov on 6 June announced his resignation as agriculture minister. The leadership of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" approved his decision, Demokratsiya reported. Shivarov, who took over the Agriculture Ministry only on 23 January, did not resign his post as deputy premier. He had been widely criticized for his failure to deal with the ongoing grain and bread shortage and was named as one of the most likely victims of the cabinet reshuffle expected next week. The plenary meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Supreme Council on 8 June is expected to approve changes in the government and the BSP Executive Bureau. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's economic advisor Ivan Angelov also resigned, Duma reported. Meanwhile in Standart, Executive Bureau member Vladimir Topencharov said the government might fall in two or three months if the situation does not change. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP.
The parliament on 7 June dismissed Bulgarian National TV Director-General Ivan Granitski, Bulgarian media reported. The opposition boycotted the vote. The parliamentary commission overseeing the state media had proposed Granitski's dismissal on 5 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June 1996), but a vote on 6 June failed after the opposition walked out and the necessary quorum of 120 lawmakers was not met. In other news, thousands of people protested against the government's economic and social politics in Sofia on 6 June, Reuters reported. They called for the government's resignation and shouted "we are hungry." Hundreds of thousands went on a nationwide one-hour warning strike. Also on 6 June, Amnesty International released a report accusing Bulgaria of police brutality and the death of prisoners "on a large scale." Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev asked the parliament to lift a moratorium on the death penalty adopted in 1990. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SACKS POLICE CHIEFS.
The Interior Ministry on 6 June sacked seven police chiefs for violently crushing an opposition rally in Tirana on 28 May, Reuters reported. The police had beaten with batons senior opposition leaders and parliamentary candidates protesting alleged manipulations in the 26 May parliamentary elections. The police injured a number of people, including journalists, and temporarily detained opposition politicians. Those sacked include a colonel and a deputy colonel, who are vice-directors in the Interior Ministry, and five senior Tirana police officers. The Socialist Party has filed suits against the secret service and the police in connection with the incidents. The police has banned opposition demonstrations from central Skanderbeg Square and prevented an opposition rally on 4 June, but the Socialists have called for another one on 8 June. -- Fabian Schmidt

WASHINGTON CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA.
U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said that Albania's offer to partially repeat the Albanian elections is not good enough and that the election should be redone in more areas, AFP reported on 6 June. He added that fraud was widespread in the ballot and is quoted as saying that "further U.S. actions will depend upon the response of the Albanian government to our proposals." The Albanian government has offered re-elections in four constituencies. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party said that it wants re-elections in at least 107 election districts out of a total 115. An earlier U.S. State Department statement on 1 June called the vote "a significant step backward" from previous parliamentary elections in 1992 that "cast a shadow on the prospects for democratic progress in Albania," Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels







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