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Newsline - June 14, 1996


ORT BROADCASTS YELTSIN INTERVIEW ON EVE OF ELECTION.
On the morning of 14 June, the last day campaigning is allowed in the mass media, Russian Public TV (ORT) broadcast a lengthy interview with President Boris Yeltsin. Helped along by friendly questioning, Yeltsin repeated some of his main campaign themes, insisting that the reforms should be finished by the person who started them and that a Communist return to power would lead to violence. When asked about Chechnya, Yeltsin emphasized that he never declared a war "against the Chechen people" and personally felt pain for every soldier killed there; however, he argued, the military campaign was absolutely necessary to prevent the disintegration of Russia. At the end of the interview, Yeltsin reminded voters that the 16 June vote will "decide Russia's fate." The interviewer then wished Yeltsin "victory, victory, and victory." * Laura Belin in Moscow

YELTSIN SIGNS MORE POWER-SHARING AGREEMENTS.
President Yeltsin on 13 June signed power-sharing agreements with Tver, St. Petersburg, and Leningrad Oblast, ORT reported. Since 1994, he has signed agreements with 26 federation members--15 of them since the beginning of the presidential campaign--in an effort to win the support of regional leaders. Yeltsin will wind up his campaign on 14 June in his hometown of Yekaterinburg, the city where he launched his campaign. Presidential political adviser Georgii Satarov said that Yeltsin "remains open" to political consultations with leaders of all parties, including the Communists, although he still hopes for a victory in the first round. Satarov did not exclude the possibility of negotiations before the runoff. * Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV QUESTIONS OPINION POLL REPORTS.
"We are confidently heading toward the election and, in fact, have already won," Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov told ITAR-TASS on 13 June. Zyuganov rejected recent opinion polls showing Yeltsin in the lead, saying that two-thirds of the country support the program of his bloc. If victorious, he said that he would form a government of national trust based on consultations with major business and political groups, NTV reported. He said that he considers the presidency a "heavy burden" and that if he was not committed to public service "with my connections, I could become a very rich man in Russia." He invited Yeltsin to a televised debate on 14 June. The main candidates did not show up for debates planned on 13 June, however, and ORT canceled them. Zyuganov refused to participate in Yeltsin's absence. Meanwhile, the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Hirlap confirmed the authenticity of Zyuganov's recent interview praising Stalin, noting that historian Miklos Kun had recorded it on 31 May, the BBC reported, citing MTI (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 June 1996). * Robert Orttung

SCUFFLE OVER DUMA EXHIBIT.
Three days before the presidential election in Russia, an exhibit opened--and then quickly closed--at the State Duma building with the title, "The Moscow Apocalypse." The exhibit includes several photographs of the October 1993 armed clash between the president and parliament. One part of the exhibit was labeled "Mass executions near the Ostankino television center." An anti-communist assistant to Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova took one part of it off the wall and left. When the assistant came back, left-wing Agrarian deputy Tatyana Astrakhankina, the author of the book on which the exhibit is based, was waiting for him and started to hit him. The police arrived and the exhibit was closed. * Anne Nivat in Moscow

ZHIRINOVSKY SAYS HE WILL BE PRESIDENT IN 2000.
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on 13 June said that he would win the presidency in the year 2000, NTV reported. By then, Yeltsin would no longer be a candidate and the Communists would not be able to benefit from popular dissatisfaction since the economy would have improved, he reasoned. He also rejected any alliance with the Communists, saying it would be good if he "did not sell out his voters." Overall, he gave his campaign performance a "C." * Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKII MAKES CASE FOR DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION.
Appearing on NTV on 13 June, Grigorii Yavlinskii disputed the suggestion that his candidacy was "quixotic," even though opinion polls show he has virtually no chance of advancing to the second round. Every vote for the "democratic opposition" is a vote to change Yeltsin's policies and decrease the influence of more extreme opposition forces, Yavlinskii argued. He asserted that if Zhirinovsky finishes third on 16 June, Yeltsin will drift toward Zhirinovsky's policy stands before the second round. In contrast, if the democratic opposition has a strong showing, Yeltsin will be forced to meet some of Yavlinskii's demands, such as replacing the prime minister and defense minister. * Laura Belin in Moscow

LDPR SECRETARY KILLED IN SIBERIA.
Vladimir Oberderfer, secretary of the Novokuznetsk branch of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was shot dead on 13 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. Zhirinovsky argued that the murder was politically motivated, but the deputy governor of Kemerovo Oblast said that the killing was probably connected to Oberderfer's business dealings. According to the Moscow Oblast police chief, the recent murder of Zhukovskii Mayor Viktor Mosolov (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 June 1996) was probably also a contract killing with an economic motive. The presidential press office, however, was quick to issue a statement saying that it was another act of terrorism meant to intimidate voters on the eve of the election. * Penny Morvant

YELTSIN ENDORSES CRIMINAL CODE.
President Yeltsin approved the long awaited Criminal Code on 13 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The code was adopted by the Duma on 24 May and the Federation Council on 5 June and will go into effect on 1 January 1997. It retains capital punishment but reduces the number of crimes liable to the death penalty from 18 to five and provides for life imprisonment. Presidential legal adviser Mikhail Krasnov said on 8 June that the new code gives priority to crimes against an individual rather than crimes against the state. It pays particular attention to economic crimes, including concepts such as unfair competition and money laundering. * Penny Morvant

CHAIRMAN OF PRESIDENTIAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION CRITICIZES PREDECESSOR.
Vladimir Kartashkin, appointed to succeed Sergei Kovalev as chairman of the presidential human rights commission on 20 May, criticized his predecessor for paying more attention to violations of the human rights of Chechens than to discrimination against ethnic Russians living in Chechnya, Ekho Moskvy reported on 13 June. Kovalev, a sharp critic of the government's policy in Chechnya, resigned in January after being sidelined by the president. Kartashkin, a professor at the Academy of Sciences' Institute of State and Law, clearly wants a less antagonistic relationship with the authorities, saying that the human rights movement should "move from the negative to the positive." Also on 13 June, Yeltsin issued a decree on support for the human rights movement. Among other provisions, it calls for the creation of an expert council under the commission to be staffed by prominent human rights activists. * Penny Morvant

CHECHEN ELECTION IMBROGLIO CONTINUES.
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 13 June threatened an "incredible" response if the election to a new Chechen parliament is not postponed, Russian and Western media reported. Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said that if the election went forward on 14-16 June, as scheduled by the pro-Moscow Doku Zavgaev government, he would not abide by the peace agreement recently signed at Nazran. President Yeltsin has apparently decided to remain aloof from the dispute, announcing in St. Petersburg that the timing of the election is a local matter. However, Russian presidential adviser Emil Pain later said that even if the scheduled election was held now, a new election could be called after the demilitarization process is completed. Meanwhile, NTV reported that Maskhadov and Russian Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov had met the same day to discuss implementing the demilitarization agreement. * Scott Parrish

DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN SYRIA.
Viktor Posuvalyuk, continuing his Middle East tour, met with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq-al-Shara in Damascus on 13 June, Western agencies reported. Posuvalyuk and Shara discussed the effect of the election victory of Israeli Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu on the Middle East peace process, as well as bilateral issues. * Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN SHARE OF WORLD ARMS TRADE UP.
Russia's share of global arms deliveries jumped from 4% in 1994 to 17% in 1995, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Reviewing SIPRI's annual yearbook on 13 June, Reuters reported that the U.S. remained the largest supplier, with 43% of the market. Meanwhile, Sergei Svechnikov, chairman of the State Committee for Military-Technical Policy, announced that Russian arms exports in the first five months of 1996 had increased by 30% over the same period in 1995, Radio Rossii reported. He attributed the increase to improved government support for arms exporters. * Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish

WAGE ARREARS SEEN AS POLITICAL INSTRUMENT.
Presidential economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits contended on 13 June that some enterprise directors have deliberately withheld wage payments to provoke dissatisfaction among workers for political reasons, shifting the blame onto the local or federal authorities, ORT reported. He said, for example, that a factory director in Omsk who is also a leading member of the local Communist Party branch delayed wages for four months although the company had money in the bank. In its pre-election campaign against wage arrears this year, the government has repeatedly dwelled on the role corrupt managers have played in exacerbating the problem, presumably in an attempt to divert attention away from its own shortcomings. * Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT PROMPT TAXPAYERS.
Following a meeting with the Orenburg Oblast administration, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that the tax reform scheduled to commence in 1997 will reward enterprises that pay taxes on time and do not resort to barter operations, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 June. He said the tax on such companies' profits will be cut by 3.5% and they will become priority recipients of centralized investment (on a competitive basis). Such companies will also be provided with government credits to increase their working capital. Chernomyrdin said the government intends to clamp down on tax dodgers by granting tax deferrals only if companies file for bankruptcy. * Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA, U.S. SIGN FISHING AGREEMENT.
The deputy head of the Russian Fishing Committee, Vyacheslav Zilanov, and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering on 13 June signed an agreement granting Russia exclusive control of all fishing grounds in the Sea of Okhotsk, ITAR-TASS reported. The area (2.7% of the sea's territory) is surrounded by Russia's 200-mile economic zone. Until now, fishing in this area has not been regulated, depleting the reserves in Russia's economic zone. * Natalia Gurushina



AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS U.S. AID BILL.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev met with the U.S. ambassador to Baku on 13 June to protest a congressional bar on U.S. aid to Baku, Reuters reported the same day. Aliyev said relations between the two countries would be "seriously damaged" if Congress approved a foreign aid bill that envisages only a slight easing of the ban on aid to Azerbaijan with separate aid treatment for Nagorno-Karabakh. Aliyev said that in treating Nagorno-Karabakh separately from Azerbaijan, the amendment infringes on Azerbaijan's sovereignty. * Lowell Bezanis

ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK CREDIT TO KAZAKHSTAN.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will offer a $298,000 credit line to Kazakhstan for the construction of a Karaganda-Akmola highway, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 June. The IDB credit offer follows a memorandum of understanding on Kazakhstan's membership in the IDB signed by Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin and IDB President Ahmed Muhammed Ali. * Bhavna Dave

LAST STATE-OWNED BANK IN KYRGYZSTAN TO BE LIQUIDATED.
The Kyrgyz Supreme Court of Arbitration on 30 May declared the state-owned Kyrgyzelbank insolvent, and appointed a liquidator, the BBC reported. The bank was in a financial crisis due to what the court described as the "management's poorly thought out" policy on attracting deposits and crediting, and the Kyrgyz government's failure to return 29.8 million som (about $2.7 million) to the bank. The Kyrgyz court ordered the government to take measures to repay Kyrgyzelbank's investors as soon as possible * Bruce Pannier

TAJIK GOVERNMENT DENIES BOMBING TAVIL-DARA.
Tajik presidential press spokesman Zafar Saidov on 13 June described opposition reports that the town of Tavil-Dara has been almost totally destroyed as "outright fabrication," according to ITAR-TASS. The opposition claims that Russian bombers leveled the town in a series of raids on 11 June. Saidov stated that Russian planes are used only to guard the Tajik-Afghan border and lately have flown to areas in eastern Tajikistan in order to deliver humanitarian aid but do not fly missions in support of Tajik military operations. Saidov also admitted that the Tajik army has its own warplanes but added that they have not been used because of the fear of inflicting civilian casualties. These claims cannot be independently confirmed as journalists and UN observers have been kept away from the scene of the fighting. * Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER DENIES HE RESIGNED.
Justice Minister Serhii Holovaty denied reports earlier in the week that said he had handed in his resignation to President Leonid Kuchma, Ukrainian TV reported on 13 June. Holovaty did not specify who he believed spread the rumor in the media, but said many political forces were skeptical of his efforts to "turn Ukraine's Justice Ministry into one of European standards." Earlier in the week, Holovaty attended the 20th conference of European justice ministers in Budapest. * Chrystyna Lapychak

LEFTIST GROUP APPEALS TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE ON UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION.
The left-wing Civic Congress of Ukraine has appealed to the Council of Europe to review parts of the draft Ukrainian Constitution and check whether they correspond with international norms, Radio Ukraine reported on 13 June. The group has asked the body to pay close attention to articles on issues of Crimean autonomy, which they believe severely limit the region's powers and contradict previous agreements between Kyiv and Simferopol. The congress also believes Article 10 of the draft on official languages should be amended to make Russian an official language alongside Ukrainian. * Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TAKES CREDIT FOR HOSTAGE RELEASE.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka took personal control over a hostage rescue operation when a gunman took 14 kindergarten children and their teacher hostage in Minsk, Belarusian radio reported on 11 June. The children escaped down a ladder through a second-floor window to safety, while special Alpha and Almaz forces killed the gunman. Afterwards, Lukashenka sent a telegram to the heads of the KGB, MVD, and President's Security Service thanking everyone who took part in the operation and calling upon them to step forward and receive awards. Recently, the security services have been criticized for their rough handling of peaceful protesters during a series of demonstrations in the spring. The opposition has also voiced concerns that the security forces now number over 120,000, which is more than the country's 80,000-strong armed forces. * Ustina Markus

RUSSIAN PRESS SPECULATES ON BELARUS'S DELAY IN NUCLEAR WITHDRAWAL.
The withdrawal to Russia of two regiments armed with 18 SS-25 Topol missiles has not proceeded on the schedule agreed to in December 1995 by the Defense Ministries of Russia and Belarus, Izvestiya reported on 13 June. All nuclear warheads should have been withdrawn by the end of May, but Minsk still has not given the two regiments permission to cross into Russia, nor has it answered any of Moscow's inquiries about the matter. Several possibilities for the delay have been suggested. One is that Lukashenka is using the missiles as a warning to NATO against expansion. Another is that the missiles will be used to counterbalance missiles the U.S. has decided not to withdraw from Europe. Yet a third is that Belarus is awaiting the outcome of Russia's presidential election. The article concluded that it is in Russia's interest to see the missiles removed since their maintenance costs 10 billion Russian rubles monthly. * Ustina Markus

BALTS DISAPPOINTED AT NOT BEING INVITED TO BOSNIAN PEACE CONFERENCE.
The Lithuanian and Latvian Foreign Ministries have expressed disappointment that they were not invited to the 13-14 June international conference in Florence on peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BNS reported. Organizers said that only the 45 states and 15 international organizations that had participated in a similar forum in London in December 1995 were invited. Even though it had peacekeeping soldiers serving in the area, Lithuania was allegedly not invited because of "technical hindrances." A senior Lithuanian ministry official noted that even though Lithuania's request to attend the conference was backed by a majority of the countries, it was thwarted by practical considerations. * Saulius Girnius

LAW RESTRICTS LATVIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES.
The Seima on 13 June passed a law that restricts who can run for president, BNS reported. The law states that persons who are serving prison sentences, have been staff employees of the Soviet or other foreign security services, or have been members of the Communist Party or worked for other organizations banned in Latvia since 13 January 1991 cannot be nominated as or elected president. A presidential candidate also must be a citizen of Latvia and have an excellent command of the Latvian language. Although the law was apparently drafted to prevent the presidential nomination of former Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks, it will not bar his nomination as a candidate in the election to be held in the Saeima on 18 June, because the constitution provides that a law cannot be promulgated until the seventh day after it is passed. * Saulius Girnius

GDANSK SHIPYARD STRIKE OVER.
The two-day sit-in strike in the Gdansk shipyard (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 June 1996) ended on 13 June, Polish and international media reported. The shipyard is to be declared bankrupt by a Gdansk court. Meanwhile, 54 Sejm deputies on 13 June signed a motion to dismiss Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek, blaming him for incompetence and "purposeful action against the Polish shipbuilding industry." Kaczmarek blames the yard's situation chiefly on bad management and unprofitable contracts. The shipyard management plans to create a new company, the New Gdansk Shipyard, which will use the bankrupt shipyard assets and employ nearly half of its work force. * Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK POLICE STOP KOVAC JR. FROM GOING TO GERMANY.
The police investigation department on 13 June denied that Michal Kovac Jr. can travel to Munich, even though he received verbal consent from the investigator of the Technopol fraud case, TASR reported. The police said that "on 27 December 1995, an investigator brought criminal charges against Kovac Jr. and on that same day blocked him from leaving the country. ... The investigator is authorized to cancel the ban only after the investigation is stopped by a valid decision or the prosecution is halted." Kovac Jr. had planned to go to Germany next week to clear his name, but he expected that Slovak authorities might prevent him. In other news, Bratislava regional prosecutor Robert Vlachovsky on 12 June rejected Kovac Jr.'s complaint regarding the adjournment of his kidnapping case. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK PRESIDENTS STRESS NEED FOR RECONCILIATION.
Hungarian President Arpad Goncz said the opportunity and historical necessity of reconciliation between Slovakia and Hungary have been brought to the fore by the signing of the basic treaty, the visit by Slovak President Michal Kovac, and the acceleration of European integration, Hungarian dailies reported on 14 June. There was no public mention of Slovakia's intensifying domestic conflicts or the Meciar-led government's attitude toward Hungary. Commenting on Hungarian minority rights in Slovakia, Kovac said he had received a pledge from the Slovak government that a bill on minority languages would be drafted. The Bratislava-based Hungarian Civic Party on 13 June welcomed Kovac's visit to Hungary and expressed hope that it is a step toward historic reconciliation. The party noted, however, that the visit shows that there are two faces to Slovak politicians, since the ruling coalition is not interested in good relations with Hungary. * Zsofia Szilagyi and Sharon Fisher

INTERNET ADOPTION SCANDAL IN HUNGARY.
Hungarian Welfare Ministry officials have criticized a Hungarian-U.S. company, East-West Concepts, over an advertisement for Romani children for adoption, AFP reported on 13 June. The Welfare Ministry asserts that the Internet ads are illegal and violate the children's rights because they include the children's personal data and photographs, which may have been illegally released to the company by directors of state children's care homes. The ministry has launched an investigation. The president of East-West Concepts, Janos Samu, countered that the children's rights are protected because prospective parents are not given a child's address until Hungarian authorities agree to the adoption. * Alaina Lemon




IMBROGLIO OVER BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
An international conference on Bosnia opened in Florence on 13 June, and differences about when to hold elections soon became evident. The U.S., France, and most other powers want them to be held by 14 September in keeping with the Dayton agreement. The Clinton administration is particularly anxious to have the vote out of the way before it faces its own ballot in November, and the international community's high representative in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, said that "any delay would increase the risk of partition into separate ethnic states." Bildt said the elections should go ahead even if Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart Gen. Ratko Mladic have not been arrested, the BBC reported on 14 June. The Bosnian government, however, opposes elections as long as war criminals are on the loose and basic preconditions for a fair vote are not met, Reuters and Onasa noted. * Patrick Moore

OPPOSITION PARTIES JOIN FORCES FOR BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
Five opposition parties--the Social-Democratic Party (SDP), the Union of Bosnian-Herzegovinian Social-Democrats (UBSD), the Muslim-Bosniak Organization (MBO), the Croat Peasant Party (HSS), and the Republican Party (RS)--on 12 June signed an agreement to run together in the upcoming general elections under the name Joint List For Bosnia, Onasa reported. The OSCE rejected the opposition bloc's candidate list for the Mostar elections because the deadline for submissions had passed. Stjepan Kljuic, president of the Republican Party, said that none of the parties had been properly informed of the final date for submitting lists of candidates, Onasa reported. East Mostar Mayor Safet Orucevic appealed to the EU administration in Mostar to enable the Joint List to run. * Daria Sito Sucic

TRAVNIK CROATS GO HOME.
Ethnic Croats expelled for a second time after returning to their homes near Travnik have apparently gone home again, Reuters and Onasa reported on 12 June. Official spokesmen and various media offer conflicting accounts of how many individuals were involved and exactly what happened. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski put the figure at 11 families comprising 25 people and said his office is trying to find out whether the expulsions were carried out by competent officials or by rogue elements. The Bosnian authorities said that the Croats were "asked" to leave when they could not produce valid registration papers, while Croatian officials charged that the families, including children, were ordered out of their homes on short notice. * Patrick Moore

OPPOSITION GIVES UP NEGOTIATIONS WITH HDZ.
The Great Council of the leading opposition Croatian Social-Liberal Party (HSLS) on 12 June decided to end negotiations with the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), Hina reported the next day. Drazen Budisa, the council's president, resigned. The Great Council decided to support in the next election the candidacy of party Chairman Vlado Gotovac for the presidency. Gotovac said he was surprised by the public's strong negative reactions to the talks with HDZ, and added "if it's a sin to negotiate, then we are finished and we are in a psychological war," Hina reported. Gotovac said that the talks with HDZ did not threaten relations between the HSLS and the opposition coalition. Meanwhile, the HDZ presidency expressed regret over the HSLS decision to end further negotiations. * Daria Sito Sucic

RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER ANNOUNCES CABINET SHUFFLE.
Radoje Kontic on 12 June formally announced the members of his new cabinet, including the appointment of three new ministers of finance, economics, and justice--portfolios formerly held by deputy premiers who are now charged with "special responsibilities." A new Ministry of Agriculture has also been created at the federal level, Tanjug reported on 12 June. The daily Nasa Borba reported already on 4 June that the federal government had been restructured and that a shuffle was imminent (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 June 1996). * Stan Markotich

SERBIAN RADICAL CASTS LOT WITH KARADZIC.
Ultranationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj said his party in the Republika Srpska plans to cooperate with the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDS) of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Seselj said that joining forces following elections is certain and that SRS representatives will meet SDS counterparts soon to discuss "an accord on joint presidential and parliamentary candidates," SRNA reported on 12 June. The following day Nasa Borba quoted Seselj predicting that the electoral fortunes of Bosnian Serb parties controlled by Serbian President Milosevic and his wife and head of the United Yugoslav Left (JUL), Mirjana Markovic, are bleak. "JUL and the SPS have nothing to look for in the RS," said Seselj. "Nowhere do the Serbian people in the RS feel close [kinship] with the regime of Slobodan Milosevic," he added. * Stan Markotich

PARTY OF SERBIAN UNITY VICE LEADER CONDEMNS SEPARATIST PROPOSAL.
Borislav Pelevic condemned an initiative by the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences [SANU] head Aleksandar Despic as "anti-Serb and anti-Yugoslav," according to Nasa Borba on 14 May. Despic had suggested the previous week that Kosovo separate from rump-Yugoslavia, warning of a population explosion among the Kosovo Albanians and saying that otherwise, in a couple of decades, Serbia will become a bilingual country. He added that the Serbs will be confronted with a "grave dilemma ... when and if the Albanians decide to join in the political life of Serbia on a large scale." Despic warned that "ethnic duality [may] contain insoluble problems." * Fabian Schmidt

OPPOSITION TO HAVE JOINT CANDIDATE IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS?
Adrian Vilau, a member of the Steering Committee of the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front (PD-FSN), said that the opposition may agree on a single candidate to run against incumbent President Ion Iliescu, Reuters reported on 13 June. A similar proposal was made one day earlier by the chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), Emil Constantinescu. The CDR and the PD-FSN have reached an agreement on jointly governing Bucharest, where the CDR candidate, Victor Ciorbea, is ahead of the main governmental party candidate, Ilie Nastase, in the runoff scheduled for 16 June. PD-FSN leader Petre Roman said that the agreement might serve as an example for the next general elections. It is unlikely that either Constantinescu or Roman will agree to withdraw from the race. But an agreement is possible to support whichever candidate is best placed in a likely runoff against the president. * Michael Shafir

DEFENSE MINISTER URGES NATO TO ADMIT ROMANIA.
Gheorghe Tinca on 13 June urged NATO not to leave Romania out of the countries admitted to the organization, Reuters reported. He said such a decision would jeopardize Romania's political, military, and economic reforms and threaten regional stability. He added that the move would lead to tension over "extremist" claims made by members of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Tinca also said the country would have to pursue entirely different strategies if it were left uncertain about its chances. * Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE UPDATE.
Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi on 13 June said he has not yet made up his mind whether to run in the presidential election scheduled for November, Infotag reported. Lucinschi said he was sure that more than 85% of the members of the Social Progress Party Steering Committee as well as other parties and organizations would back his candidacy. But the leader of the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM), Dumitru Motpan, said the same day that his party will certainly back a PDAM member. Meanwhile, Valentin Krylov, a leader of the Moldovan Socialist Party (PSM), told Infotag that his party's leading bodies have a different opinion than the majority of party members on whom to nominate. The PSM on 5 June named Veronica Abramciuc as the formation's candidate in the November contest. * Michael Shafir

REACTION TO FAILED NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN BULGARIA.
Most dailies and many politicians are speculating about which opposition deputies on 13 June backed the Socialist government in a nonconfidence vote that all opposition parties officially supported. Some 135 deputies had voted against the motion, but the Socialists and their partners hold only 125 seats. One Socialist deputy abstained. Observers believe that most or all deputies from the Bulgarian Business Bloc and some from the ethnic-Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom supported the government. But between three and six votes are still unaccounted for and might have come from the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces or the People's Union, despite statements by their leaders to the contrary. * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS CONDEMN OSCE REPORT...
The Democratic Party on 13 June dismissed an OSCE report published the previous day, Reuters reported. The report condemned irregularities during the 26 May elections. Democratic Party leader Tritan Shehu said "I cannot accept the [OSCE] criticism ... because a large part of it is baseless." Shehu said the problems arose after the opposition pulled its monitors out of polling stations hours before they closed. He added that many OSCE observers were biased. Earlier, government media published reports saying that nine Norwegian OSCE monitors had been invited by the Socialist Party and came into the OSCE delegation through the back door. An OSCE official, however, told OMRI that the report speaks for itself and such allegations are irrelevant. * Fabian Schmidt

...BUT CALLS FOR NEW BALLOT GET LOUDER.
The Organization of Social Democratic Parties of Europe called for a rerun of the 26 May parliamentary elections. Austrian Social Democrat Heinz Fischer, who chaired a meeting in Brussels on 13 June, said Berisha's decision to re-run polls in 17 constituencies on 16 June was a step in the right direction, but he added that "the goal must remain to hold free, democratic and internationally observed elections in all Albanian regions." Meanwhile, the Center Pole coalition said that the OSCE report confirms that their boycott of the ballot re-run and of parliament was right. They proposed a round-table meeting of all parties--the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the EU, and the U.S.--to prepare an election re-run in 17 constituencies as a test. Should the re-run show grave differences from the previous elections, they demand new ones. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Susan Caskie







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