CHECHEN TALKS RESUME.
Meeting on 9 June in Nazran after a three-day
break, Russian and Chechen representatives reached agreement in principle on a
timetable for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the demilitarization of
Chechnya by 30 August, but they failed to sign a protocol to this effect,
Russian and Western agencies reported. No agreement was reached on the Chechen
demands for a postponement of the election to a new People's Assembly until
after the Russian troop withdrawal. On 9 June, the pro-Moscow Chechen
government criticized the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann,
for allegedly exceeding his authority by holding direct talks with acting
Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's group, according to Reuters. The
pro-Moscow parliament and government also addressed a statement to President
Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin protesting their exclusion
from the Nazran talks and questioning Yandarbiev's commitment to the 27 May
peace agreement signed in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. On 8 June, Yusup
Elmurzaev, the administration head of Urus-Martan, was shot dead by masked
gunmen. -- Liz Fuller
TROOP PULLOUT FROM CHECHNYA DELAYED.
A spokesman for the General Staff
on 7 June said that the withdrawal of federal troops from Chechnya is
"impossible" at this time, ITAR-TASS reported. Lt. Gen. Andrei Ivanov said that
the continued shelling of federal troops despite the recent ceasefire agreement
require them to remain in place for the time being. Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev had said earlier that forces not permanently assigned to the North
Caucasus military district would begin withdrawing from Chechnya on 1 June. --
YELTSIN CONFIDENT OF VICTORY IN FIRST ROUND.
President Boris Yeltsin
said his "intuition" tells him that he will not only be re-elected but may win
the election outright in the first round, NTV reported on 9 June. He also said
that he has instructed his staff not to prepare for a second round election.
The latest opinion polls by VTsIOM and ROMIR, broadcast on the same program,
indicate that Yeltsin leads Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov among likely
voters. However, he would need to win more than 50% of the vote to avoid a
runoff, and his support is currently measured in the mid-30s. Before leaving
for Tatarstan on 9 June, Yeltsin met with rival presidential candidate
Aleksandr Lebed, but no details were released about their discussion. -- Laura
Belin in Moscow
YELTSIN SEEKS MUSLIM VOTE IN KAZAN.
During his 9 June trip to Tatarstan,
President Yeltsin sought to attract Muslim voters. While in Kazan, Yeltsin
saluted the republic's efforts to rebuild a church and mosque in the Kazan
Kremlin and said that a democratic republic would respect the religious beliefs
of its people, ITAR-TASS reported. During his visit, Yeltsin wore a Muslim
skull cap and promised to build a metro in the Tatar capital, AFP reported.
Russia is estimated to have from 12 to 20 million Muslims. Yeltsin held up
Tatarstan's willingness to sign a treaty with Moscow as an example for
Chechnya. In 1991, Tatarstan declared its independence from Russia but
negotiated an autonomy treaty with the federal government in 1994. The
pro-government Our Home Is Russia won 29% in the republic in the December
election, far better than the second place Communists, while the Islamic party
NUR (light) won 5%. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN DECREES MORE SOCIAL BENEFITS.
Continuing his pre-election
hand-outs, President Yeltsin signed a series of decrees on 7 and 8 June
increasing social benefits, ITAR-TASS reported. Shortly after ordering the
transfer of 3.8 trillion rubles ($790 million) to the regions to pay for
teachers' annual leave, Yeltsin on 7 June gave the government 20 days to submit
a bill to the Duma that would give health and education specialists civil
servant status and raise their salaries. He also issued a decree increasing
benefits to those with garden plots. On 8 June, the president signed an edict
giving residents of Russia's Far East the right to a 50% discount on rail or
air fares to central regions once every two years. Finally, Yeltsin instructed
the government to submit bills to the parliament within a month that would
raise child allowances for single mothers and reduce the tax burden on families
with many children. -- Penny Morvant
CENTRAL ELECTORAL CLEARS YELTSIN CAMPAIGN OF VIOLATIONS.
of the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) told the Duma on 7 June that the
TsIK sees no reason to believe that President Yeltsin's campaign is violating
the electoral law, ITAR-TASS reported. In particular, he said that a 100-page
glossy photo album of the president, which the Yeltsin campaign is handing out,
does not count as campaign material in the opinion of the TsIK's legal experts
(OMRI Special Report: Russian Presidential Election Survey, 5 June
1996). TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov rejected an invitation from the deputies to
participate in the Duma discussion, claiming that he had to attend a meeting of
the TsIK. -- Robert Orttung
GENERALS TOLD NOT TO ORDER TROOPS TO VOTE FOR YELTSIN.
Election Commission told the leaders of the Airborne Troops that their recent
call on troops to vote for President Yeltsin was illegal, the Dow Jones News
service reported on 7 June, citing AP. The deputy commander of the paratroops,
Gen. Vladimir Kazantsev, claimed that the letter sent to all unit commanders
only "recommended" to the troops that they vote for Yeltsin but did not "urge"
them to do so. The commission demanded that the commander withdraw the letter.
-- Doug Clarke
SHANTSEV ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT VIEWED AS POLITICAL.
The attack on
Valerii Shantsev, incumbent Yurii Luzhkov's running mate in the 16 June Moscow
mayoral election, has prompted a flurry of accusations and counteraccusations.
Shantsev was seriously injured in an explosion outside his apartment on 7 June,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Luzhkov speculated that the attack was
the work of "pro-communist forces." His aide claimed that it was aimed at
disrupting the mayoral election. Luzhkov is favored to win, but he would be
legally obliged to withdraw if Shantsev died, as he would not have time to
reregister with another running mate. If Shantsev had died, the mayoral
election would possibly have been cancelled, reducing turnout in the
presidential poll in Moscow. The Communists, meanwhile, claimed that the attack
was "the first in a series of planned provocations" engineered by their
opponents and aimed at derailing the presidential election. -- Penny Morvant
GAZPROM TO BUY SHARES IN NTV.
Gazprom, the gas monopoly with close ties
to the government, will soon buy shares in the independent television network
NTV, Kommersant-Daily and The Moscow Times reported on 8 June.
Currently, 77% of the network's shares are held by Vladimir Gusinskii's Most
group, and NTV staff own the rest. Gusinskii will reportedly keep a controlling
share in the network. NTV executives said Gazprom's investment will help launch
five new satellite channels later this year and will not affect the network's
editorial policy. NTV's news coverage in recent months has reflected a more
pro-government slant than its coverage of last year's parliamentary campaign.
The network's president, Igor Malashenko, joined President Yeltsin's campaign
committee in March. -- Laura Belin in Moscow
DUMA CRITICIZES LATVIA, ESTONIA.
The Duma on 7 June passed a resolution
accusing Latvia and Estonia of "deliberately hindering" Russian citizens living
there from participating in the upcoming Russian presidential election,
ITAR-TASS and BNS reported. The resolution appealed to the OSCE and the Council
of Europe, protesting Estonia and Latvia's refusal to open additional polling
stations in areas where large numbers of Russian citizens. While estimates
indicate that about 50,000 Russian citizens live in Latvia, and 90,000 in
Estonia, only around 7,500 and 15,000, respectively, voted in the December 1995
Duma election. Russian officials blame the low turnout on the lack of polling
stations. Estonia recently decided to permit a fourth polling station in a
Tallinn suburb, and has offered to open more but Moscow has rejected Tallinn's
conditions. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June 1996). -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN IRAN.
Viktor Posavlyuk wrapped up a
three-day visit to Iran by holding talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali
Akbar Velyati on 9 June, ITAR-TASS reported. In thinly-veiled criticism of the
U.S., Posavlyuk criticized attempts by unnamed third countries to "isolate"
Iran. Velyati and Posavlyuk jointly criticized NATO expansion, and said their
positions on the disputed issue of Caspian Sea mineral rights were "similar."
But Posavlyuk admitted that discussions on the ongoing Tajik conflict "were not
simple," and added that he had tried to convince his Iranian interlocutors that
"there is no alternative" to the Middle East peace process, which Tehran
opposes. The next stop on Posavlyuk's regional tour is Baghdad. -- Scott
GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER: NO NUKES OR TROOPS NEAR RUSSIA.
said that NATO does not plan to station nuclear weapons or foreign troops near
Russia's borders when it expands into Central Europe, Reuters reported on 8
June. In an interview to appear in Germany's Focus magazine on 10 June,
he was quoted as saying that NATO does not want to "position nuclear weapons
differently or station foreign troops on Poland's eastern border." He stressed,
however, that new members would have to be "integrated militarily" and would
have the same rights and duties as all other NATO members. -- Doug Clarke
IMF REACTION TO CENTRAL BANK TRANSFER.
The IMF has expressed its concern
over the Duma's decision last week to transfer 5 trillion rubles ($1 billion)
of the Central Bank's 1994 profits to the federal budget (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 6 June 1996), AFP and Reuters reported on 7 June. An IMF spokesman
said the move does not technically violate the conditions of its $10.1 billion
Extended Facility Fund loan. However, by increasing the money supply it is
likely to spur inflation, which hit an all time low of 1.6% in May. The IMF
called upon the Central Bank to offset the inflationary impact by selling
government bonds on the open market. The IMF acknowledged that the Russian
government is facing budgetary problems but urged it to take steps to improve
tax collection. -- Natalia Gurushina
The State Duma on 7 June discussed the report
of its commission investigating the privatization of Norilsk Nickel last year,
ITAR-TASS reported. The Duma passed a resolution urging the government to hold
onto the state's shares and to take steps to deal with Norilsk's debt problems.
The Duma also created a new commission to examine the situation at several
privatized firms, including the oil company YUKOS, gold producer Lenzoloto, and
chemical giant Apatity. The Moscow Arbitration Court on 4 June annulled the
results of last December's Sibneft loan-share auction. However, as
Nezavisi-maya gazeta pointed out on 7 June, the Communists have been
strangely silent on the privatization issue, and have not tried to use it in
their election campaign. -- Peter Rutland
GEORGIAN COSSACKS CALL FOR PROTECTION OF RUSSIANS IN ABKHAZIA.
of Cossacks of Georgia has sent a letter to President Yeltsin and his Georgian
counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, protesting reprisals by Abkhaz separatist
elements against ethnic Russians in Abkhazia and calling for measures to
protect them, according to Georgia's Kontakt News Agency on 6 June and Radio
Rossii on 7 June. The Russian population of Abkhazia numbers between 70,000 and
80,000 people. -- Liz Fuller
TAJIK GOVERNMENT FORCES ADVANCE ON TAVIL-DARA.
Government forces are
closing in on the town of Tavil-Dara, which has been in rebel hands since early
May, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 June. In a two-pronged attack, government troops
have pushed to Chil-Dara, about 25 km west of Tavil-Dara, and have occupied
Kalai-Khussein, 20 km east of Tavil-Dara. The opposition Voice of Free
Tajikistan reported on 8 June that almost 60 government soldiers were killed in
the drives, the government confirmed five dead but gave no casualty figures for
the opposition. Meanwhile, in the town of Obigarm, 80 km east of Dushanbe,
opposition fighters attacked a checkpoint on 8 June; one government soldier was
killed and four wounded before the rebels fled, leaving seven of their own
dead, AFP reported. -- Bruce Pannier
KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA CASE RESCHEDULED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstani court on 7 June approved a postponement of the litigation case
against the newspaper Komsomolskaya pravda, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL
reported the same day. The paper's editors had claimed that due to a heavy
workload surrounding the upcoming Russian election, they would be unable to
send a representative to court until after 16 June. The court has now set the
trial for 21 June. The paper was banned in Kazakhstan after it printed an
article by Nobel Prize winning writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on 23 April in
which he argued that parts of Kazakhstan naturally and historically belong to
Russia. Eleven members of the Kazakhstani Writers' Union filed a suit against
the paper, saying the article was an infringement on "the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of our state." -- Bruce Pannier
CENTRAL EUROPEAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN LANCUT, POLAND.
The presidents of
Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia,
Slovenia, and Ukraine met in Lancut, southeastern Poland, on 7-8 June to
discuss European integration. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said
expanding the EU and NATO should be a natural move crowning the integration
process that started after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma, specially invited to the meeting by Kwasniewski, stressed that a
new European security system should not exclude Russia. The meeting was the
fourth of its kind; the first one was in July 1993, in Salzburg, and the next
will take place in Slovenia in 1997. -- Jakub Karpinski
BREAKAWAY UKRAINIAN, BULGARIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER.
Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and
Metropolitan Inokentiy of Sofia from the breakaway Bulgarian Orthodox Church,
announced on 8 June that the two breakaway churches have recognized each other,
Radio Ukraine reported. The hierarchs took part in a special religious service
at St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Kyiv. Neither church is recognized by any of the
Orthodox ecumenical patriarchs. Meanwhile, Patriarch Maksim of the official
Bulgarian Orthodox Church concluded a visit to Kyiv that featured meetings with
Patriarch Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate
and Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kuras, Ukrainian TV reported on 7 June. --
MORE NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT FUNDS PROMISED FOR BELARUS.
The U.S. promised
Belarus an additional $12.9 million in aid for strategic disarmament, ITAR-TASS
reported on 7 June. The money raises the total sum allocated to Belarus under
the Nunn-Lugar program to $28.9 million. It will be used to dismantle missile
infrastructure and destroy liquid rocket fuel. In all, the U.S. has promised
$123 million in aid to Belarus to eliminate nuclear weapons. Also on 7 June,
the Belarusian parliament ratified an agreement with Russia on legal exchanges
over issues related to the stationing of Russian strategic forces on Belarusian
soil. Russian public television reported that 150 temporary
barracks--environmentally "clean" and radiation-free--have been handed over to
Belarus. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO BE TRIED FOR ILLEGAL ARMS TRADING.
The Prosecutor General's Office has endorsed formal criminal charges against
the former chief of the Estonian army Central Staff Col. Arvo Sirel, BNS
reported on 7 June. He is charged with negligence and faces a maximum term of
in prison if found guilty. Sirel is accused of failing to
exercise proper control over some of his staff's official purchases of weapons.
Last fall Estonia bought 1,309
guns as well as ammunition
the Finnish company Ultramatic Oy. Some of the weaponry was then sold to
private individuals on the premises of the Central Staff. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIA RANKS FIFTH IN CONVICTS PER CAPITA.
Coordination Center head Vitolds Zahars said that Latvia with 357 convicts per
100,000 residents ranks fifth in the world in per capita prison population, BNS
reported on 7 June. The four countries with higher rates are the U.S., Russia,
Belarus, and Ukraine. The maintenance of one prisoner costs Latvia 2.4 lati
($4.3) per day. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIAN BANKRUPT BANKS BEGIN PAYOFFS.
Some of Lithuania's bankrupt
banks have begun paying out compensations to their depositors, BNS reported. No
bank complied with the 4 June deadline set by the government, but six of the
nine were paying out compensations up to 4,000 litai ($1,000) to disabled
people, single pensioners, and heirs of deceased depositors two days later.
Compensations to other groups of depositors will begin on 6 August and 17
September. The three banks that are not paying compensations are the Lietuvos
Verslas, Sekunde, and Nida, which are moving to new headquarters. -- Saulius
GDANSK SHIPYARD GOES BANKRUPT.
The Gdansk shipyard's shareholders voted
on 8 June to stop the shipyard's activity, Polish dailies reported on 10 June.
A motion to declare the company bankrupt will be deposited in court in two
weeks. The shipyard, called the cradle of Solidarity, was the scene of the
August 1980 strike that led to the creation of the Solidarity trade union,
which had nearly 10 million members by 1981. The bankruptcy motion was approved
by 79 percent of the shareholders, but small shareholders, comprising large
numbers of company employees, were overwhelmingly opposed. The Polish state
controls a 61 percent share in the shipyard. The bankruptcy motion cited a lack
of financial resources to cover the company's debts for last year, totaling
$31.7 million. A new company, the New Gdansk Shipyard, will be created for one
year and will employ 3,000 people, half the current number of employees. --
SLOVAK POLICE ON DEATH OF FORMER COLLEAGUE.
Police Vice President Anton
Manak claimed during a 9 June TV debate that investigations into the explosion
of Robert Remias's car in April have shown that the cause was "clearly a
technical defect." Remias, an ex-policeman, was a close friend of former Slovak
Information Service agent Oskar F., who said he participated in the kidnapping
of President Michal Kovac's son. Manak claimed that Remias did not have a
"clean conscience; he moved in criminal surroundings and committed crimes."
Meanwhile, the opposition has rejected such assertions and has claimed that
Remias was the victim of "a political murder." Jozef Ciz, investigator of the
Kovac Jr. kidnapping, said Remias told him that he was being followed; however,
he rejected protection since he would not be able to meet Oskar F., who is
hiding abroad. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE.
Meeting on 7 June, Slovak opposition parties
called for representation on the bodies overseeing the Slovak Information
Service, TV, radio, and the National Property Fund (FNM), TASR reported.
Although his party did not attend the meeting, Party of the Democratic Left
Chairman Jozef Migas said that if deciding between early elections and entrance
into the current government, "we would choose early elections," Narodna
obroda reported on 10 June. Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota told
Sme that his party--a junior coalition partner--wants to become "a
mediator...between opposition and coalition parties with the aim of calming
current tensions." Meanwhile, Olga Keltosova of the ruling Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia said her party hopes to win the 1998 elections so that "it
will not need coalition partners." In other news, the opposition Democratic
Union and the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement on 7 June gained full
membership in Liberal International. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PREMIER WOULD REINSTATE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
Gyula Horn said during a weekend political forum that Hungarians should decide
in a referendum whether to restore the death penalty, Hungarian dailies
reported on 10 June. Horn added he would vote "yes" on such a referendum. The
statement, clearly aiming to restore Horn's popularity among workers, surprised
Justice Minister Pal Vastagh, who responded that a popular vote on the issue
would not be possible without a ruling by Hungary's Constitutional Court.
Restoration of the death penalty would violate several international agreements
and cause Hungary to lose its membership in the Council of Europe, Vastagh
added. Lawyers later commented that Hungarian law does not provide for
referenda on issues regulated by international agreements. Public debate over
the death penalty has intensified recently as crime and mafia operations have
increased. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
HUNGARY UNVEILS STATUE OF MARTYRED PREMIER.
President Arpad Goncz on 6
June unveiled Hungary's first public statue of former Premier Imre Nagy, who
led the 1956 uprising against the Soviets and was executed by collaborators
after the uprising was crushed, Hungarian dailies reported. Thousands of
spectators, including leading politicians, attended the ceremony, which marks
the 100th anniversary of Nagy's birth. The life-size bronze statue was unveiled
on Vertanuk [Martyrs'] Square in central Budapest, one of the bloodiest scenes
of the uprising. Meanwhile, there is talk between Hungarian and Russian
officials on possibly naming a Moscow street after Nagy. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
SERBS TO RETURN TO MOSTAR?
Leading officials of the Serbian Orthodox
Church visited Mostar on 7 June and held a service in the ruined church
building to launch its reconstruction, Onasa reported. Bishop Atanasije
Jevtic thanked the Muslim mayor of eastern Mostar, Safet Orucevic, for
everything going smoothly. The bishop said that his visit could mark the
beginning of the return of Mostar's Serbs, most of whom live nearby in eastern
Herzegovina. Jevtic added that the church does not have much influence on the
Serbs, but he hoped that "reasonable people" would prevail. Oslobodjenje
commented on 9 June, however, that the church has been a staunch backer of
Serbian nationalism and has not sufficiently distanced itself from war crimes.
-- Patrick Moore
IZETBEGOVIC LINKS RETURN OF SERBS, MUSLIMS.
President Alija Izetbegovic
on 8 June addressed a rally to mark the capture of Zuc hill during the war. He
linked the return of Serbs to Sarajevo with that of Muslims to their homes in
eastern Bosnia. "We need our expelled citizens to return to their homes so that
Bosnia can be Bosnia again. In order to have [Muslims] returning to Podrinje
[the Drina valley] Serbs must return to Sarajevo too. Not Chetniks [Serb
extremists], but Serbs. I can put this in the opposite order too. In order to
have the Serbs returning to Sarajevo--something they have been asking for--the
[Muslims] must return to Foca, Visegrad, Rogatica, Prijedor," AFP quoted him as
saying. To date, few, if any, refugees have returned to their homes in
territories under the control of another ethnic group. -- Patrick Moore
British UN peacekeepers testified to the international
war crimes tribunal that they were tortured by Serb captors last year, the BBC
reported on 9 June. In Vienna, the Bosnian government said it is working on a
solution to the impasse that is blocking the signing of the arms control
agreement, which is required by the Dayton agreement and was concluded last
week. The Serbs insist on signing separately, while the government demands that
they sign as part of the Bosnian delegation, AFP reported on 9 June. Dayton
specifies that foreign relations are the responsibility of the national
government, but the Serbs want to be treated as an independent state. --
SERBIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS IMPARTIALITY OF WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL.
Slobodan Milosevic, in an interview with Der Spiegel published on 10
June, responded to mounting international calls for his help in apprehending
accused war criminals by questioning the impartiality of the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Reuters on 8 June quoted him as
saying: "I do not believe that this tribunal is an institution for defamation,
but it is completely clear from its public conduct up to now that it is a
political and not a legal institution....Justice can only be done when the same
standards apply for all. Unfortunately, the work of the tribunal in The Hague
has until now offered no basis for such an impression." -- Stan Markotich
AGREEMENT BETWEEN CROATIAN RULING PARTY AND OPPOSITION?
began between the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) and the opposition
Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), Croatian media reported over the weekend.
The HSLS presented on 9 June a list of their requests, including a change in
the constitution concerning the powers of the parliament, government, and
president, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 10 June. HSLS also requests a
fulfillment of commitments towards the Council of Europe, some short-term and
momentary measures, and changes in media policy and staff. Leaders from other
parties expressed disappointment that they were not informed of the
negotiations. -- Daria Sito Sucic
CROAT WAR CRIMES SUSPECT ARRESTED.
Croatian police on 8 June arrested
Zlatko Aleksovski, who has been indicted by the International War Crimes
Tribunal for former Yugoslavia for allegedly participating in a massacre of
Muslims in the Bosnian village of Ahmici in November 1993, AFP reported. The
Croatian Justice Ministry said Aleksovski would be "treated in accordance with
Croatian law and with the war crimes tribunal's demand for extradition."
Aleksovski is kept in custody in the Croatian port town of Slit and will be
dealt with according to the amended law which allows the extradition to The
Hague of those wanted for war crimes. -- Daria Sito Sucic
ROMANIAN ELECTORAL UPDATE.
Results of local elections held on 2 June do
not provide conclusive evidence as to what is likely to happen in the
parliamentary elections scheduled for 3 November. The main coalition formation,
the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) won most of the votes for mayor
(21.8%) and was first in the ballot for local councils (19.1%). But in the
ballot for county councils, considered a more accurate gauge of electoral
trends at national level, the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR)
scored higher (17.8%) than the PDSR (16.9%). An alliance of the democratic
opposition headed by the CDR would, according to these results, have a larger
share of the vote (43.4%) than the PDSR and its prospective allies in the
already disbanded "red quadrangle" coalition (31,8%). Meanwhile, President Ion
Iliescu has given his approval to the PDSR to start gathering the necessary
100,000 signatures of support for his candidacy for president, although he has
not officially announced that he will run, Radio Bucharest reported on 8 June.
-- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN PARTY FAVORING REUNIFICATION HOLDS CONGRESS.
The fifth congress
of the Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD), which supports reunification
with Romania, reiterated this option on 10 June, Radio Bucharest reported on
the same day. The FPCD said it wanted reunification to follow the German or
"other peaceful" model and added that it was the only political formation in
Moldova to pursue the country's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic
structures. The party deferred a decision on which candidate to support in the
presidential election scheduled for November. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLED...
An extended plenary meeting of the
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 9 June decided on structural and personnel
changes in Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government, which the parliament
approved the next day, Bulgarian media reported. Montana region Governor
Krastyu Trendafilov took over the Agriculture Ministry from Svetoslav Shivarov,
who stays on as deputy premier. Deputy Education Minister Lyubomir Dachev
replaced Kliment Vuchev as industry minister. The state Energy Committee was
transformed into a ministry under its present Deputy Chairman Rumen Ovcharov.
Ivan Marazov took over the Culture Ministry from Georgi Kostov. A proposal by
Videnov to close down the Ministry of Economic Development headed by Rumen
Gechev, who is also deputy prime minister, was voted down. According to
Demokratsiya, Videnov's concrete proposals--aimed at getting his
government out of its grave crisis--took both the party leadership and the
BSP's coalition partners by surprise. -- Stefan Krause
...AS POPULAR PROTESTS CONTINUE.
Days before the ruling BSP plenary
meeting, about 1 million people took to the streets on 7 June to protests the
government's economic and social policy, Reuters and Trud reported.
Protest meetings took place in many towns, and workers went on warning strikes
throughout the country, demanding salary increases and the government's
resignation. The government last month announced strict austerity measures and
price and tax hikes agreed on with the IMF. Incidents were reported between
police, opposition deputies, and taxi drivers, when the latter staged a
demonstration outside the parliament building and tried to pass police-guarded
fences put up by order of Parliament President Blagovest Sendov. In other news,
former Tsar Simeon II on 9 June visited Plovdiv, where he was enthusiastically
welcomed by some 200,000 people. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS ELECTION RERUN...
Sali Berisha has decreed
that the parliamentary elections be held again in 17 out of 115 electoral
districts, Reuters reported on 8 June. Berisha said the new voting would take
place on 16 June and called on all political parties to participate. The
Central Electoral Commission had earlier acknowledged that "serious
irregularities influenced the final result of the voting" in the 17 districts.
The U.S. and the EU had advised the government earlier to redo elections in an
unspecified number of districts. Meanwhile, the International Helsinki
Federation for Human Rights and the Albanian Helsinki Committee called on the
Albanian government, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations to
declare the elections invalid and said that human rights had been violated
before, during, and after the polls on 26 May. -- Fabian Schmidt
...BUT OPPOSITION SAYS IT IS NOT ENOUGH.
The Socialists, the Social
Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance said they would boycott the re-run and
demanded full new elections with international monitoring. Democratic Alliance
leader Neritan Ceka said: "We are absolutely not interested in this type of
election," and Socialist leader Servet Pellumbi added that the "opposition
cannot be included in such kinds of ploys," pointing out that "the decree was a
challenge to the EU, U.S. and the OSCE, because all of them are waiting for the
OSCE's final report on the elections." Social Democrat leader Skender Gjinushi
said: "We cannot accept a partial re-run if there is no general recognition of
all the violations. Berisha's decree is not the solution. This is the
president's ploy to hide (the manipulations) from the world," Reuters reported.
The Socialists say they have prepared evidence of irregularities and
manipulation in 107 districts. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Susan Caskie