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Newsline - June 17, 1996


YELTSIN HOLDS NARROW LEAD.
Preliminary results of the first round of the Russian presidential election available at noon, Moscow time, covering 89% of the electorate:
Turnout - 72%

Boris Yeltsin - 34.80%
Gennadii Zyuganov - 32.31%
Aleksandr Lebed - 14.38%
Grigorii Yavlinskii - 7.42%
Vladimir Zhirinovsky - 5.97%
Others - each below 1%
Against all - 1.55%
Since none of the candidates received a majority of the vote, a runoff will be held on 30 June or 7 July. * Robert Orttung

YELTSIN CALLS FOR COALITION WITH LEBED, YAVLINSKII, FEDOROV SUPPORTERS.
In a television address on the morning of 17 June, President Yeltsin said that following the first round of voting the choice is now clear between "turning back to revolutions and upheaval or forward to stability and wealth," ITAR-TASS reported. He called on the supporters of Aleksandr Lebed, Grigorii Yavlinskii, and Svyatoslav Fedorov to join him in the second round. The president's campaign manager, Sergei Filatov, said that Yeltsin would meet with Lebed on 17 June and ruled out any possibility of meeting with Zyuganov, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin, who had repeatedly said that he wanted to win in the first round, explained his failure to get more than 50% of the vote by saying that the people "voted for a new life" and divided their sympathies among several of the candidates. Yeltsin said that the main result of the voting is that Russia has held a "free, direct, and honest" election. * Robert Orttung

THIRD PLACE FINISH MAKES LEBED POSSIBLE KINGMAKER.
Lebed is a much better third-place candidate for President Yeltsin than Zhirinovsky, according to ITAR-TASS commentator Tamara Zamyatina. VCIOM Director Yurii Levada said 32% of Lebed's voters prefer Yeltsin and12% Zyuganov. Levada's polls show that about 65% of Yavlinskii's supporters would back Yeltsin in the second round, while only 13% would vote for Zyuganov (see OMRI Russia Presidential Election Survey, no. 8, 12 June 1996). Presidential political adviser Georgii Satarov claimed that Yeltsin's main coalition strategy before the runoff would be to try to form an alliance with Lebed. In a 17 June interview, Lebed did not say whom he would support, but he stressed the need for "order," "reforms," "reforms in the military," and "suppressing crime." * Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS SEEK CONSULTATIONS.
Zyuganov said that he considered his showing a success since he won about a third of the vote. He said that his bloc would meet on 18 June to discuss the makeup of the government. He noted that the spot of prime minister is vacant and that he is planning to meet with Lebed to discuss "all issues connected with the election," ITAR-TASS reported. Communist campaign manager Valentin Kuptsov on 17 June said Zyuganov may cooperate with Lebed "to a certain degree" before the second round, ITAR-TASS reported. Additionally, the Communists will want to hold "serious talks at the highest level, including with Yeltsin's team," Duma deputy Vladimir Semago told ITAR-TASS. He said that the election was a competition of ideas rather than personalities, and the Communists would seek the support of Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Semago is not as warm about negotiating with Lebed as Kuptsov. * Robert Orttung

YABLOKO WORRIED ABOUT LARGE LEBED TURNOUT.
Yabloko was shocked by Lebed's strong showing in the election and is concerned about the second round. The deputy head of the bloc's Duma faction, Aleksei Zakharov, said that it is unclear how many of Lebed's supporters would vote for Yeltsin, making it difficult to predict the results of the runoff, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 June. Yavlinskii rejected any cooperation with Zyuganov but said his participation in a Yeltsin government would depend on its composition, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 June. * Robert Orttung

OSCE: ELECTION GENERALLY FREE AND FAIR.
Even before the final results had been tabulated,
a delegation of 500 election monitors from the OSCE issued a preliminary statement on 17 June declaring the first round of the Russian presidential election "generally free and fair," Western agencies reported. Teams of OSCE observers had planned to visit about 2,500 of the some 93,000 polling places during the vote. The statement did note that some OSCE observers were concerned about biased election coverage in the state-owned media, and admitted that there had been scattered irregularities in some areas such as illegal proxy voting. AFP reported anecdotal evidence of violations in several parts of the country, notably in Chechnya, where the agency's correspondent was permitted to vote at several different polling stations after showing his French passport. Nikolai Ryabov, chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, said that there were no "serious" irregularities during the vote, and only a "miserly" number of minor procedural violations. * Scott Parrish

ELECTION PASSES OFF QUIETLY.
Despite a number of bomb threats, no violence marred Russia's presidential election. Representatives of the Federal Security Service in Moscow said on 17 June that they had received 11 anonymous calls warning of bomb attacks in the capital and surrounding area, but all proved to be hoaxes, ITAR-TASS reported. Bomb threats were also made in Vladivostok, Stavropol, and Volgograd, but again no explosives were found. Security was tight on polling day amid fears of violence following the 11 June bomb on the Moscow metro that killed four people and the attack on Valerii Shantsev, Yurii Luzhkov's running mate in the capital's mayoral election. * Penny Morvant

NO MAJOR VIOLATIONS IN MEDIA CAMPAIGN.
Anatolii Vengerov, chairman of the President's Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes, announced on 14 June that the presidential campaign in the media ran smoothly, with fewer violations of the law than occurred during the 1995 campaign for the State Duma. He claimed that although some candidates running for parliament last year openly used offensive campaign agitation, this spring only a few initiative groups or newspapers committed minor violations of the law, and none of the candidates could be blamed for those violations. Vengerov told OMRI that he did not view the Central Electoral Commission's "Vote or You Lose" commercials, some of which contained the slogan "Yeltsin--Our President," as hidden advertising for Yeltsin. Vengerov reasoned that the slogan did not constitute agitation on Yeltsin's behalf but was simply a statement of fact. * Laura Belin in Moscow

YELTSIN: MAJOR CABINET CHANGES ON THE WAY.
Winding up his campaign in Yekaterinburg on 14 June, President Yeltsin rejected rumors that he would bring back into his cabinet "those people who started the reforms." However, he said there would be "serious changes" in the new government, bringing in new people "with fresh new ideas," ITAR-TASS reported. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the future composition of the cabinet is completely up to Yeltsin. Yeltsin said that by the year 2000 it will necessary to groom a new president "who knows people, who would be authoritative, who all Russians would love." He then said, "I know such a person" without naming him. * Robert Orttung

YELTSIN TRIUMPHS IN MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBURG.
As expected, President Yeltsin far outshone his rivals for the presidency in Russia's two largest cities, which have benefited the most from economic reform. With 45% of the vote counted, Yeltsin had almost 62% of the vote in the capital. Zyuganov was in second place, with just under 15%, and Lebed third with less than 10%. In Russia's second city, Yeltsin won about 50% of the vote. The liberal Grigorii Yavlinskii was second, with 15%, just ahead of Zyuganov and Lebed. * Penny Morvant

RESULTS SHOW NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE.
According to preliminary returns from Russia's regions, Yeltsin did surprisingly well in the Far East and eastern Siberia, with the exception of the Amur region. He also came out on top in western Siberia and the Urals, although his Communist rival took Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, and Orenburg oblasts. In the Volga region, the two leading contenders performed about equal, with Yeltsin winning in Udmurtiya and Nizhnii Novgorod and Samara oblasts, and Zyuganov taking Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Ulyanovsk and Saratov oblasts. In general, Yeltsin did well in the north of the country, while Zyuganov was victorious in the south. As in the December Duma election, Zyuganov triumphed in the "red-belt" oblasts south of Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. * Penny Morvant

CHECHEN ELECTION.
Simultaneous voting for a new bicameral Chechen People's Assembly and in the Russian presidential election began in Chechnya as scheduled on 14 June, Russian media reported. The Chechen opposition initially refrained from carrying out its threats to disrupt the poll, but on 16 June some polling stations were forced to close early because of opposition threats. ITAR-TASS reported the final turnout as 58.9%, but Reuters questioned that figure. No voting took place in Vedeno Raion, which is controlled by the opposition. On 14 June, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev met with the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, after which the two men agreed to "coordinate future activities," according to ORT. Zavgaev had earlier criticized Guldimann's role in mediating talks between the Chechen opposition and the Russian leadership. * Liz Fuller

LUZHKOV WINS LANDSLIDE VICTORY IN MOSCOW MAYORAL POLL.
As expected, popular incumbent Yurii Luzhkov triumphed in Moscow's mayoral election. With 99% of the vote counted, Luzhkov had more than 89%. His closest rival, Olga Sergeeva, had 5%, ITAR-TASS reported. Turnout was about 68%. * Penny Morvant

YELTSIN SENDS NATIONAL SECURITY MESSAGE TO PARLIAMENT.
President Yeltsin's 13 June national security message to the Federal Assembly was published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 14 June. Opposition deputies have long criticized Yeltsin for failing to present a national security concept. Despite its appearance on the eve of the presidential election, Yeltsin's spokesman denied the message was a "campaign document." Divided into five parts, the message outlines Yeltsin's vision of Russian national security policy for 1996-2000. It emphasizes that Russia's unique Eurasian location and its abundant natural resources make it "a great power." Rather than external issues like NATO expansion, however, it terms internal difficulties such as political instability and separatism as the most serious threats to Russian security. Arguing that instability in the CIS is the biggest external threat to Russia, the document calls for giving the region top priority in Russian policy. * Scott Parrish

GRACHEV OFFERS NATO COOPERATION IF IT REFRAINS FROM EXPANSION.
Meeting in Brussels with his NATO counterparts on 14 June, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev endorsed closer cooperation between Russia and the alliance, international media reported. However, Grachev emphasized that such cooperation is "incompatible" with NATO expansion. Grachev endorsed making the current temporary Russian liaison office at NATO headquarters permanent. NATO liaison officers will reportedly be invited to work with the Russian General Staff. NTV reported that the Russian liaison office would be headed by a Colonel General, which ITAR-TASS claimed would lend it a "much higher status" than the liaison offices of other Partnership for Peace countries. Grachev's remarks seem designed to encourage NATO to compromise with Moscow over the terms of its enlargement. * Scott Parrish

ZHIRINOVSKY LINKED TO INTERNATIONAL ARMS SMUGGLER.
Italian authorities plan to question Vladimir Zhirinovsky in Moscow about an international arms and nuclear material smuggling ring, the Sunday Times reported on 16 June. The paper reported that Zhirinovsky had been advised that he is under investigation because of his connections with a Slovene arms dealer who is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by an Italian judge. The dealer is suspected of selling military equipment obtained from the Russian mafia by Zhirinovsky aides. * Doug Clarke

SITUATION ON GOVERNMENT SECURITIES' MARKET WORSENS.
The government's budgetary problems are causing a new wave of instability on the state securities market, pushing annual yields to 212%, Segodnya reported on 14 June. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told ITAR-TASS that the government is in control of the situation, and that the internal debt will not be rescheduled. Meanwhile, the government is facing a crisis on the state foreign bonds (OVVZ) market, following the Finance Ministry's announcement that the payment of stolen OVVZs with a nominal value of $30 million will be frozen pending criminal procedures, Kommersant-Daily reported on 15 June. Foreign banks may now declare OVVZs to be excessively risky, since some of them--including Solomon Brothers and CS First Boston--hold large amounts of these securities. The move may also have a negative impact on Russia's negotiations with the London Club of commercial creditors. * Natalia Gurushina



TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

PRISONER AMNESTY IN UZBEKISTAN.
The Uzbek government has released 80 prisoners, including members of the banned organization Erk, Western media reported on 15 June. According to Reuters, among those released are Rashid Bekjon, brother of exiled Erk leader Mohammed Solih, Abdulla Abdurazzakov, and Safar Bekjon. All three had been found guilty of anti-government activities. So far, the amnesty has not been reported in the local media, nor has a clear explanation been given. The Uzbek government may be attempting to improve its human rights image in advance of President Islam Karimov's 21-30 June visit to the U.S. and following a recent Helsinki Watch report on human rights violations in the country. * Roger Kangas

RUSSIANS IN KAZAKHSTAN VOTE FOR YELTSIN.
According to preliminary data released by the Russian Embassy in Almaty to ITAR-TASS on 16 June, 49.57% of the Russian electorate in Kazakhstan's capital voted for President Yeltsin; 16.36% voted for Gennadii Zyuganov and 13.39% for Aleksandr Lebed. * Bhavna Dave




GOVERNMENT SHAKEUP CONTINUES IN UKRAINE.
President Leonid Kuchma on 14 June dismissed Energy Minister Oleksii Sheberstov, the second top official to be fired in a shakeup orchestrated by the country's new premier, Ukrainian and international agencies reported. ITAR-TASS reported that Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko is expected to recommend that another four or five ministers be sacked soon. He announced on 14 June that he has ordered the layoff of 20% of government employees (some 10,000 people) in an effort to cut budget spending. The funds saved by the layoffs and new austerity measures that, among other things, reduce official privileges will be used to pay off some of the state's wage debt. Lazarenko also said his government was planning to reduce social benefits for citizens, including energy subsidies for some 17 million people. * Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN REACTION TO EU TRADE BAN.
The EU Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs has asked the union to suspend enacting a provisional trade agreement with Belarus because of human rights abuses in that country, Belapan reported on 13 June. Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastau said the decision was influenced by "personal approaches" and underlined inconsistencies in the policies of European agencies. He downplayed the significance of the EU committee's recommendation, commenting that if Belarus cannot cooperate with EU countries within the framework of the union, it could continue to cooperate through bilateral ties. * Ustina Markus

BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS SIGN FREE AGRICULTURAL TRADE AGREEMENT.
Tiit Vahi (Estonia), Andres Skele (Latvia), and Mindaugas Stankevicius (Lithuania), meeting in Vilnius on 16 June, have signed a free agricultural trade agreement, Radio Lithuania reported. The agreement lifts all import and export duties on farm products and removes quotas on farm and fish products whose origin has been confirmed. Once it has been ratified by the three parliaments, the accord is expected to promote competition and thus reduce food prices. A free industrial trade agreement between the three countries has been in force since April 1994. * Saulius Girnius

SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES AID TO LITHUANIA.
Goran Persson, meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart Mindaugas Stankevicius in Vilnius on 14 June, praised Lithuania's efforts to curb illegal migration, BNS reported. He said his government will give Lithuania another 1 million Swedish kronor ($148,000) for the implementation of the law on refugees in Lithuania. Sweden has already granted 2 million kronor, almost half of which has been used to set up a refugee camp at Rukle. The premiers also discussed cooperation in nuclear power, focusing on how Lithuania will replace the Ignalina plant once its resources have been used up next century. The possibility of a Baltic Ring gas pipeline that would supply Lithuania with natural gas from Norway was mentioned. * Saulius Girnius

NEW GDANSK SHIPYARD REGISTERED.
A new shipyard has been registered at Gdansk to partly replace the old bankrupt one. The new company will operate initially for 10 years and will lease 60% of the old shipyard's property. Some 3,000 of the old shipyard's 7,300 employees will find work in the new shipyard, which hopes to open on 1 July making use of bank credits. Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek told the Sejm on 14 June that bankruptcy is the best way to save the old shipyard and its creditors, since it will allow for the re-negotiation of bad contracts. The Sejm is to vote in two weeks on whether to replace Kaczmarek over the closure decision. Jerzy Borowczak, Solidarity leader at the Gdansk shipyard, said that it was a bad idea to open a new shipyard, since it has no capital and guarantees employment for only 3,000 or so people. He added that shipyard workers will boycott the new shipyard. Meanwhile, the old one is expected to be declared bankrupt by 22 June. * Jakub Karpinski

POLISH TEACHERS DEMAND PAY RAISES.
Some 7,000 teachers from all over Poland took part in a march in Warsaw on 15 June organized by the Polish Teachers Union (ZNP). The teachers submitted petitions at the Finance Ministry and the Presidential Palace demanding higher salaries and more money for schools. The ZNP is a part of the All-Polish Labor Unions Confederation (OPZZ), which belongs to the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) coalition. "Polish teachers live in poverty and their patience is running out," ZNP leader Jan Zaciura told Education Minister and SDL leader Jerzy Wiatr. * Jakub Karpinski

ROMANI DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS TO PROTEST POOL BAN IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
Jan Rusenko of the Romani Democratic Congress (RDK) told CTK on 14 June that the claim that Roma under 18 living in Kladno have hepatitis is merely a pretext to bar them from the city's public swimming pools. The Kladno deputy mayor last week banned all Roma under 15 from the pools. Similar bans have been issued in other Czech towns in previous summers. An anonymous official at the Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that the ban is unacceptable since it applies to a group instead of the general public. Rusenko said that RDK will protest the ban. * Alaina Lemon

NATO DELEGATION IN SLOVAKIA.
Arriving in Slovakia on 15 June for a three-day visit, North Atlantic Assembly President Karsten Voigt stressed the need to cooperate "in convincing the majority of the members of the West European and U.S. parliaments that democracy in Slovakia is so stable that its entrance into NATO will not be a risk," TASR and Reuters reported. Voigt added that it will also be important for Slovakia to show that membership in the alliance will strengthen democracy in the region, which some Western countries doubt. Voigt said NATO will expand without requiring new members to accept the location of nuclear missiles on their territory. In Brussels on 14 June, Slovak Defense Minister Jan Sitek noted that the Partnership for Peace program is not an alternative to membership in NATO and stressed that Slovakia continues to aim for full membership in the alliance. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON RESPONDS TO POLICE.
Michal Kovac Jr. on 14 June issued a statement questioning the police's "sudden change of opinion" on his plans to travel to Germany to defend himself against fraud charges, TASR reported. Kovac Jr. said the police investigator had told him he did not see any obstacles preventing Kovac Jr.'s interrogation by German authorities. But a police statement issued the previous day said Kovac Jr. cannot leave Slovakia. Kovac Jr. stressed he wants to leave to undergo official questioning. Praca on 15 June noted that if Germany cleared Kovac Jr. of the charges, it would be "a catastrophe" for Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's camp, which has continually attacked the president's son. "It seems the only option left for Kovac Jr....may be to swim illegally across the Danube as in the good old communist times," the paper said. * Sharon Fisher

WORLD CONGRESS OF HUNGARIANS UNHAPPY WITH GOVERNMENT'S MINORITY POLICY.
Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn was booed and whistled by delegates to the fourth World Congress of Hungarians in Budapest on 15 June when he explained that the government is not planning changes in its foreign minority policy, Hungarian media reported. Horn reiterated that Hungary will not seek the revision of borders but that it will insist on guaranteeing minority rights. He asked Hungarian minorities to make clear their concept of autonomy and to distance themselves from separatist declarations. Delegates warned that ethnic Hungarians abroad are second-class citizens not only in their own homeland but also compared with Hungarian citizens. Nationalist circles and the opposition have blamed the government for trading minority rights for the signing of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. * Zsofia Szilagyi



BOSNIAN DISARMAMENT AGREEMENT SIGNED.
Rump Yugoslavia, the Bosnian Federation, Croatia, and the Republika Srpska signed a disarmament agreement in Florence on 14 June, international media reported. The deal places restrictions on the number of tanks, other armored vehicles, artillery, fighter aircraft, and helicopter gun ships that each of the states is allowed to have. The UN Security Council is expected to lift the arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia on 18 June as a result of the agreement. The WEU will also end operation "Sharp Guard," under which shipping in the Adriatic was monitored during the embargo. * Fabian Schmidt

BOSNIAN SERBS CELEBRATE CONFERENCE AS VICTORY.
Returning from Florence, Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic told Srna that he was "satisfied" with the treatment of his delegation at the meeting. He added "we have made it clear that the elections cannot be linked to demands for the extradition of the leaders of the Republika Srpska, and we did not come to Florence to make new concessions." Foreign Affairs Minister Aleksa Buha said the meeting "had calmed the hysteria" about extradition of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko
Mladic, AFP reported. * Fabian Schmidt

FORMER BOSNIAN PREMIER ATTACKED IN PRE-ELECTION RALLY.
Haris Silajdzic, leader of the opposition Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina (SBiH), was attacked and injured while campaigning in the northwestern town of Cazin on 15 June, international and local media reported. SBiH spokesman Mustafa Mujagic said Silajdzic was hit on the head with an iron bar and sustained a serious cut and bruises. He added that members of the ruling Muslim Party for Democratic Action (SDA) were responsible for what he called the "obviously organized" attack, Onasa reported. Silajdzic was surrounded by a crowd of some 100 people carrying SDA banners and shouting Muslim religious prayers. Both SBiH and OSCE officials claimed police did nothing to prevent the incident. But the SDA, which condemned the attack the next day, claimed that the police "saved" Silajdzic. * Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN CROATS NAME NEW HERCEG-BOSNA GOVERNMENT.
Pero Markovic, a local official from the town of Capljina, has been appointed prime minister of Herceg-Bosna by the self-styled Bosnian Croatian "presidential council." Onasa reported on 16 June. Markovic proceeded to appoint several new ministers, including Vladimir Soljic as defense minister. Soljic also holds that post in the Bosnian Federation. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic condemned the Bosnian Croat leadership for naming a new government for a rebel state that, he said, should have been disbanded months ago, AFP reported. Muratovic condemned the move as illegal, saying its shows that the Bosnian Croats are not committed to a federal government in Bosnia-Herzegovina. * Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN MUSLIMS APPLY TO RUN IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA ELECTIONS.
Muslims from six villages in northeastern Bosnia have applied to run in elections in the Republika Srpska, AFP reported on 16 June, citing Oslobodjenje. Inhabitants of villages held by the Muslims during the war in Bosnia and transferred to Bosnian Serb control under the Dayton agreement have nominated candidates for municipal and regional elections. Meanwhile, the deadline for registering for the fall Bosnian elections passed on 14 June. The OSCE said that 45 parties and 16 independent candidates submitted applications. An OSCE spokesman said no details will be announced until the applications have been checked and possible appeals considered. In related news, Reuters reported that the U.S. said refugees who vote will not lose their refugee status and will not be forced to return to Bosnia. * Stefan Krause

U.S. OFFICIAL ADMONISHES SERBIAN PRESIDENT.
Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, visiting Belgrade on 16 June, told Slobodan Milosevic that Washington wants Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic ousted from power in the coming weeks. Kornblum stressed the need to implement the Dayton agreement, adding that "the patience of the international community...was beginning to wear thin." Kornblum and Milosevic also discussed freedom of the press in Serbia, freedom of movement, and preparations for the elections, AFP reported. * Fabian Schmidt

CROATIAN PRESIDENT SAYS COMMUNISTS WERE PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR JASENOVAC VICTIMS.
Franjo Tudjman, during a visit to the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac, has given a new interpretation of what happened there 50 years ago, AFP reported on 15 June. Tudjman said Communists loyal to Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito killed thousands of the people buried at the site. The generally accepted official version is that all those buried there were killed by the Croatian Ustachi, which ran the camp during the war. Tudjman's visit to Jasenovac came one day after the opening of the trial of two Croatian journalists who criticized Tudjman's plan to bury members of the pro-Nazi regime together with their victims. Tudjman paid homage to "all the victims" of the camp, including both "the victims of fascism but also those of communism," Hina reported. * Daria Sito Sucic

LOW TURNOUT REPORTED IN ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
Romania's Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) noted that turnout at the second round of local elections in Romania on 16 June was even lower than during the first round (56%) two weeks earlier, Romanian TV reported. Polling stations stayed open till midnight in accordance with a BEC order, but longer voting hours apparently failed to attract more voters. Exit polls suggest that in the race for mayor of Bucharest, Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) candidate Victor Ciorbea beat former international tennis star Ilie Nastase, who ran as the candidate of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania. According to final results broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 17 June, the CDR also won the mayoralty of Sibiu. In addition to run-offs, voting was repeated in 334 districts and in two counties where participation in the first round had been less than 50% . * Michael Shafir

MOLDOVA AND JAPAN TO BOOST COOPERATION.
The Japanese government has decided to upgrade Moldova from the status of "transition-economy country" to that of "developing country," President Mircea Snegur and Japanese Ambassador at Large Sumio Edamura announced in Chisinau on 14 June. The two states will also increase economic cooperation. Infotag reported that Snegur thanked the Japanese envoy for a $40 million credit and humanitarian aid worth $2.5 million. * Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS NAME PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE...
The ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party's Supreme Council on 16 June nominated Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski as BSP presidential candidate, RFE/RL reported. Following a 10-hour debate, 70 members voted for Pirinski, one against, and 16 abstained. Under the Bulgarian Constitution, the president must be Bulgarian by birth. Since Pirinski was born to a Bulgarian father and an American mother in New York in 1948, questions have been raised as to whether he can become president. But the constitution also says that everybody with one Bulgarian parent is considered Bulgarian. Pirinski is to run against Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces in elections that will most likely take place in November. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov told the Supreme Council that the BSP has to win the Presidency in order to implement its program. * Stefan Krause

...AND INTRODUCE CHANGES IN PARTY LEADERSHIP.
The Supreme Council also endorsed Videnov's proposal to change the lineup of the BSP Executive Bureau, Trud reported. Videnov and his four deputies will continue to serve on that body, while seven members have been removed and five new ones appointed. Meanwhile, former Tsar Simeon II wrapped up a three-week visit to Bulgaria, AFP reported. While he did not elaborate on his plans, he did suggest that he intends to play a role in Bulgarian politics. He spoke in favor of a constitutional monarchy, which he described as a "flexible and pragmatic form of government." Simeon also urged the government to speed up economic reforms. * Stefan Krause

ELECTION RE-RUNS IN ALBANIA.
Albania's Central Electoral Commission claimed a 55% turnout at re-runs in 17 of Albania's 115 electoral districts on 16 June, Albanian media reported. President Sali Berisha decreed the new ballots following opposition claims of manipulation and calls by international institutions and several countries for a repeat of the vote. However, the opposition Socialists, Social Democrats, Democratic Alliance, Party of the Democratic Right, and Party of National Unity all boycotted the ballots, demanding that the elections be held afresh. The Constitutional Court on 15 June rejected an appeal by the Social Democrats and Democratic Alliance to declare the ballot illegal, according to international agencies. No official OSCE observers were present during the re-runs, but the Democrats reportedly invited members of conservative and right-wing parties from France, Greece, Italy, and Austria to oversee the voting process. * Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN DEPUTY PREMIER INVOLVED IN BAR BRAWL.
Dashamir Shehi hit Koha Jone journalist Frrok Cupi in the face in a Tirana bar on 15 June, international agencies reported. Cupi had earlier charged Shehi with incompetence. Shehi was Cupi's bodyguard in 1991 when the latter was the chief editor of Rilindja Demokratike. Meanwhile, Shehi has denied that the incident took place, Albanian media reported. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



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