Accessibility links

Newsline - June 18, 1996


YELTSIN MAKES LEBED TOP SECURITY AIDE.
President Boris Yeltsin on 18 June met with Aleksandr Lebed for the second time in two days and appointed him Security Council secretary and national security aide, replacing Oleg Lobov and Yurii Baturin, respectively, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin gave Lebed the posts in hopes of winning over his supporters, who made up nearly 15% of the vote on 16 June. Yeltsin described his alliance with Lebed, who has often been critical of the president, as "the union of two politicians and two programs." Yeltsin said that Lebed would help correct his course on military reform, security issues, and the battle against crime and corruption. When journalists asked Yeltsin if Lebed was the person the president had in mind when he said on 14 June that he knows who will be president in the year 2000, Yeltsin said, "it's early to speak about that," but added with a smile, "you are thinking correctly." -- Robert Orttung

LEBED BACKS YELTSIN.
After coming in third place in the first round of the presidential election, Lebed has come out in strong support of President Yeltsin, who narrowly defeated Communist challenger Gennadii Zyuganov. Lebed said that there are two ideas in the country, "the old, which has shed a lot of blood, and the new, which has, to date, been realized very poorly," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. Lebed said that he chose the new. "Eleven million people believed that I can impose order, and I take on myself this difficult responsibility." -- Robert Orttung

GRACHEV REMOVED AS DEFENSE MINISTER.
President Yeltsin on 18 June declared that he had relieved Defense Minister Pavel Grachev of his duties, Russian and Western agencies reported. Grachev, who had survived countless rumors of his imminent dismissal, finally fell victim to the pressures of electoral politics. Lebed and Grachev have been bitter enemies since Lebed's days as commander of the Russian 14th Army in Moldova, and the two men could not have easily worked together in Yeltsin's administration. While Reuters reported that Grachev had decided to resign rather than serve under Lebed, it is equally likely that Lebed had insisted on Grachev's removal in exchange for supporting Yeltsin. The chief of the General Staff, Army General Mikhail Kolesnikov, will serve as acting Defense Minister, pending the appointment of a permanent successor to Grachev. -- Scott Parrish

ZYUGANOV APPEALS TO LEBED . . .
Zyuganov on 18 June said that "it is still not too late" to conclude an agreement with Lebed, Russian media reported. He said that he had assumed since the beginning of May that Yeltsin would appoint Lebed to a high-profile position. Zyuganov added that Lebed's electorate "does not take orders" and that if it feels it has been deceived, it will vote for the popular-patriotic bloc. The day before, Zyuganov was the first candidate to call on Lebed's voters for support. "Lebed's electorate will either not go to vote or it will vote for us," he argued. -- Anne Nivat in Moscow and Robert Orttung

. . . AND CHALLENGES YELTSIN TO A DEBATE.
Zyuganov also once again invited President Yeltsin to a television debate "as soon as the Central Electoral Commission has finished the vote count." He criticized Yeltsin for broadcasting a pre-recorded address to voters on ORT on 17 June, thereby "openly violating the electoral law which doesn't allow any propaganda for any candidate until after the official results." "If Yeltsin would have spent less money on rock concerts and more on giving workers their wages, he would have received more support," Zyuganov commented. -- Anne Nivat in Moscow

LEBED VOTERS UNPREDICTABLE.
Even though Lebed has explicitly backed President Yeltsin over Zyuganov, there is no guarantee that his voters will follow the general's advice in the runoff. Russian analysts believe that Lebed's supporters come from diverse social and political backgrounds, and their actions in the runoff are unpredictable. Lebed apparently stole many votes from Zhirinovsky and it is not clear whether these voters would be willing to back Yeltsin, Zyuganov, or just stay at home. Lebed lacks a disciplined campaign organization, and there is not much ideological unity among his supporters, according to Andrei Neshchadin, director of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Institute, Radio Rossii reported on 17 June. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN NOW LOOKING FOR YAVLINSKII ALLIANCE.
After his meeting with Lebed, President Yeltsin expressed the hope that he would find a "common language" with Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii but admitted that he did not know how Yavlinskii would conduct himself, ITAR-TASS reported. Yavlinskii has not yet announced his support for either of the two candidates in the runoff. Grachev's departure will make it easier for Yavlinskii to back Yeltsin, since this was one of Yavlinskii's demands in earlier negotiations with the president. Aleksei Zakharov, the deputy leader of the Yabloko Duma faction, said his bloc would back Yeltsin but called for corrections in the president's economic policy, an immediate end to the war in Chechnya, and changes in the government, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 June. Duma Committee on International Affairs Chairman Vladimir Lukin said that Yabloko voters would be more likely to turn out in Yeltsin's favor than those who supported Lebed in the first round, making an agreement with Yavlinskii as important as one with Lebed. Yabloko will hold a congress on 22 June to decide whom it will back in the second round. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN PROPOSES MOVING RUNOFF DATE TO BOOST TURNOUT.
President Yeltsin invited the Duma to make Wednesday, 3 July, a holiday to enable presidential runoffs to be held on that day, ITAR-TASS reported. Currently, the law specifies that the election must be held on a weekend day. Yeltsin campaign advisers Sergei Filatov and Viktor Ilyukhin have been pushing this idea in order to increase voter participation, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 17 June. Yeltsin's team believes that if the turnout had been higher than about 70% on 16 June, the president would have received a greater percentage of the vote. Many Russians spend their weekends at country homes, making it difficult to return to the city where they are registered to vote. Yeltsin's advisers also blamed the low turnout on the president's repeated statements that he would win the election in the first round, and on the optimistic opinion polls released on the eve of the voting. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN RESHUFFLES SECURITY ADVISERS.
After appointing Lebed, Yeltsin shifted his predecessors into other positions, leaving the division of responsibilities among them unclear, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. Yeltsin appointed Oleg Lobov, who had headed the Security Council since September 1993, to the post of First Deputy Prime Minister, joining Oleg Soskovets and Viktor Kadannikov, who also hold that cabinet rank.
He will also stay on as the presidential representative in Chechnya, although it is unclear what other responsibilities Lobov will hold in his new post. Meanwhile, Yeltsin also said that former national security aide Yurii Baturin will remain as a presidential aide, but presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev said the division of duties among Yeltsin's aides after Lebed's appointment remains undetermined. -- Scott Parrish

CONFUSION OVER ELECTION RESULTS IN TATARSTAN.
Although initial reports gave Zyuganov the lead in election results for Tatarstan, subsequent reports put Yeltsin ahead, NTV reported on 17 June. The TV station said that their correspondent had been told by the Tatar Electoral Commission that preliminary results gave Zyuganov 41% to Yeltsin's 33%. ITAR-TASS also put the Communist contender in front. Later results, however, gave Zyuganov only 37.1% to Yeltsin's 37.7%. Yeltsin, who is supported by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, had been expected to win in the republic. -- Penny Morvant

BALTIC RUSSIANS PREFER ZYUGANOV; OTHER EX-PATS SUPPORT YELTSIN.
Russian voters in Latvia and Estonia opted overwhelmingly for Zyuganov in the presidential election, Russian and Western agencies reported. Zyuganov also came out on top in Lithuania but with a smaller lead. More than 23,000 Russians voted in Estonia, with the Communist contender taking 62.7%, according to preliminary results. Some 9,300 Russian voted in Latvia, 64.5% of whom opted for Zyuganov. Voters, many of whom believe they are treated unjustly by the Latvian and Estonian governments, were presumably attracted by the Zyuganov's support for a reconstituted Soviet Union. Ironically, the Russian Foreign Ministry had pushed for more polling stations in both countries. Elsewhere, Yeltsin came out on top. Embassies in the West not surprisingly reported massive wins for Yeltsin, who also did well in most CIS countries. In Central Asia, where citizenship rules exclude all but a handful of the area's Russians from voting. -- Penny Morvant

LUZHKOV: NO MAJOR CHANGES IN MOSCOW GOVERNMENT.
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who won another four-year term with 89.65% of the vote in the 16 June election, said there will be no radical personnel changes in the city's government, NTV reported on 17 June. According to the law on the Moscow mayoral election, the old government must resign when the final results are announced officially, and a new one will be formed. Luzhkov promised that the new team will be apolitical and will concentrate on fighting crime and resolving Moscow's environmental problems as well as on the economy. Luzhkov added that his running mate, Valerii Shantsev, who was badly injured in an attack on 7 June, should be back at work within a couple of months. -- Penny Morvant

TRUCE IN CHECHNYA.
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 17 June said that the Chechen opposition forces will refrain from further hostilities until after the second round of the Russian presidential election rather than risk jeopardizing the 10 June agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops, AFP reported. According to preliminary election results released by the Chechen Central Electoral Commission on 17 June, 58% of eligible voters participated in the election for a new Chechen People's Assembly and 60% participated in the Russian presidential election, Ekho Moskvy reported. Of the latter, 39% voted for Yeltsin. OSCE described the voting as "manipulated" and "a parody of democracy," AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller

INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO ELECTION RESULTS.
Western leaders hailed the first round of presidential balloting as evidence that democracy is taking root in Russia but also expressed relief that President Yeltsin had finished in first place, Western and Russian agencies reported. U.S. President Bill Clinton termed the vote "a milestone" for Russian democracy but also congratulated Yeltsin on his "strong showing" in the first round. Indirectly endorsing Yeltsin, Clinton added that he hoped Russia "would continue to support reform." A French Foreign Ministry spokesman made similar comments, as did the EU foreign ministers, who were meeting in Rome. German Finance Minister Theo Waigel was more direct, saying a Zyuganov victory in the upcoming second round would be "catastrophic." Western leaders have invested considerable political and financial capital in Yeltsin's campaign, and a Zyuganov victory would represent a major foreign policy defeat. -- Scott Parrish

FINANCIAL MARKETS' REACTION TO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
President Yeltsin's performance in the first round of the presidential election resulted in a new flurry of activity on the Russian financial markets, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 17 June. Financial experts believe that security prices--including those of government bonds (GKOs), which have been falling since April--and trading volume were driven up by foreign and Russian traders who are confident of Yeltsin's victory in the second round, and are trying to invest all available resources in still relatively cheap Russian stocks. Some securities rose on purchases by Russian banks anxious not to let Western traders get in first. Still, the largely speculative frenzy is likely to subside before the second round in early July. -- Natalia Gurushina



CHINA SEEKS CENTRAL ASIAN SUPPORT TO CURB UIGHUR SEPARATISM.
China believes that the Shanghai treaty signed in April to create a demilitarized zone along the 8,000 km border separating China from Russia and the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan will curb Muslim separatism in its Uighur-dominated northwestern province of Xinjiang, AFP reported on 17 June, citing an article in the government newspaper Xinjiang Daily. Uighur leaders exiled in Kazakhstan continue to allege increasing repression of Muslims in Xinjiang by the Chinese authorities since the signing of the Shanghai pact. A visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan in early July is seen as an attempt to further strengthen cooperation between the Central Asian states and China in checking separatist activities in the border area. -- Bhavna Dave

UN EXTENDS TERM OF OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN.
The UN Security Council on 14 June voted to extend the term of its observer mission in Tajikistan until 15 December, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported. Prior to agreeing on the extension, members of the council issued a strong warning to the warring parties in Tajikistan that visible progress must be shown toward settling the conflict in the country. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali noted earlier in the month that the situation in Tajikistan has grown worse since May. The UN's Mission of Observers in Tajikistan has 94 members, of which 44 are military observers. -- Bruce Pannier



ULMANIS RE-ELECTED LATVIAN PRESIDENT.
The Saeima on 18 June re-elected Guntis Ulmanis as president in the first round of voting, BNS reported. Ulmanis received 53 votes, Democratic Party Saimnieks candidate and Saeima Chairwoman Ilga Kreituse 25, Popular Movement for Latvia candidate Imants Liepa 14, and imprisoned former First Secretary of the Latvian Communist Party Alfreds Rubiks five. Three deputies did not vote. -- Saulius Girnius

ZYUGANOV SCORES VICTORY AMONG RUSSIANS LIVING IN BALTIC STATES.
Some 4,500 of the 15,000 Russian citizens in Lithuania voted in the Russian presidential elections on 16 June, BNS reported. Gennadii Zyuganov received more than half the vote, while Boris Yeltsin got 17%, Aleksandr Lebed 14%, Grigorii Yavlinskii 5%, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky 3%. Of the 9,337 Russian citizens living in Latvia who voted, 64.5% supported Zyuganov, 14.7% Yeltsin, 10.2% Lebed, and 3.1% Zhirinovsky. In Estonia, 23,405 citizens voted, ETA reported. Zyuganov received 62.7% of their votes, Lebed 15.1%, Yeltsin 11.4%, and Zhirinovsky and Yavlinskii 4.4% each. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA NOT TO EXTEND DEADLINE FOR DECLARING SOVIET PASSPORTS VOID.
Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 17 June said the 12 July deadline for ending the validity of Soviet passports in Estonia will not be extended, BNS reported. He noted that the Citizenship and Migration Department will be urged to complete the issuing of aliens' passports as soon as possible. An alien who has not received his passport but who has received a positive answer from the department will be able to vote in the October local elections by producing a driver's license. Vahi estimated that less than 200 applications for residence and work permits will be rejected. So far, only 41 persons have been refused permits because they have a criminal record, were employees of the former KGB, or gave false information about themselves. -- Saulius Girnius

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NEW CURRENCY MAY APPEAR THIS YEAR.
Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine may introduce the hryvna by the end of the year, Ukrainian TV reported on 14 June. He said his government's success in bringing monthly inflation down to its lowest level in five years--0.7% in May--has created a favorable climate for monetary reform this year. However, the state's mounting wage debt of nearly 100 trillion karbovantsi ($540 million) could still destabilize prices. In other news, the president on 17 June signed several decrees aimed at helping cash-strapped state-owned enterprises to avoid bankruptcy, Ukrainian TV reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT FILES CORRUPTION CHARGES AGAINST COAL INDUSTRY LEADERS.
Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Yevtukhov on 14 June said Kyiv has filed criminal charges against an unspecified number of coal industry managers and officials in the Luhansk region, UNIAN reported. Yevtukhov, who led a government inspection of the region's coal mines, said he found evidence of large-scale embezzlement and abuse of office. He added that there may be more prosecutions in the near future. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN POLICY UPDATE.
Mykhailo Syrota, chairman of the parliamentary commission preparing the constitution for its second reading, told UNIAN on 15 June that the commission has approved a clause banning the deployment of foreign troops on Ukrainian territory. But he added that the Black Sea Fleet is a special case and that special conditions will apply for the stationing of the Russian part of the fleet in Crimea. UNIAR the previous day reported that a parliamentary delegation returned from Azerbaijan where it had taken part in the seventh session of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Parliamentary Assembly. Oleksandr Tkachenko, vice president of the assembly and deputy chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, said Azerbaijan will soon open an embassy in Kyiv and that Ukraine will do the same in Baku. -- Ustina Markus

SHOOTING INCIDENT IN BELARUS.
A man in police uniform shot at the car carrying Viktar Hanchar, secretary-general of the CIS Supreme Economic Court and a Belarusian parliamentary deputy, Belapan reported on 14 June. Hanchar was unharmed, but his secretary was wounded. No explanation of the incident has been given. In other news, Belarus and Taiwan have reached an agreement to open trade offices in each other's countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. While their representatives will have diplomatic privileges, the two countries will not establish formal diplomatic relations. Beijing, which is strongly opposed to any official recognition of Taiwan, temporarily broke off relations with Latvia for having recognized Taipei. Minsk is seeking to boost economic cooperation with Beijing. -- Ustina Markus

WARSAW CONFERENCE ON MIGRATION.
Ministers of internal affairs and other government representatives from 39 European countries began talks in Warsaw on 17 June on migration issues and the integration of immigrants in Europe, international media reported. The conference, the sixth of its kind organized by the Council of Europe, is expected to examine CE proposals on the integration of foreigners and to approve a project titled "Tensions and Tolerance: Building better integrated communities across Europe." -- Jakub Karpinski

DEPUTY MAJOR CHARGED OVER SWIMMING POOL BAN IN CZECH TOWN.
Deputy Mayor of Kladno Slavomir Cirnfus has been charged with inciting racial hatred, CTK reported on 17 June. Last week, Cirnfus issued a decree barring all Romani children from the town's swimming pools on the grounds that Romani youths are more likely to be carriers of hepatitis than non-Roma. He has denied that the decree was "motivated by intolerance." -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK PROSPECTS FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP UNCERTAIN.
Meeting with top Slovak officials on 17 June, North Atlantic Assembly President Karsten Voigt said it is "an illusion" to think that Slovakia can enter NATO based on its strategic geographical position alone, Slovak and international media reported. "My impression is that the final decision will be based on the perception of democratic culture," he said, pointing to Western concerns about Slovak political developments. Voigt said NATO will decide early next year which countries will join and when. If Slovakia is not included in the first round, "there might be the second round of enlargement, but nobody knows when," he stressed. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAKIA'S COALITION CONFLICT CONTINUES.
Representatives of Slovakia's ruling coalition parties met in Bratislava on 17 June for a fourth round of talks but failed to resolve the ongoing dispute over the insurance firm Slovenska poistovna, Slovak media reported. Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota noted that his party is not backing down from its demands that the privatization of financial institutions be delayed and that the agencies of the Slovak Information Service and the National Property Fund be expanded to include opposition representatives. But Slota stressed that his party will not initiate the disintegration of the coalition. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY'S COALITION PARTIES STILL AT ODDS OVER CONFLICT OF INTERESTS BILL.
Hungary's Socialist Party and Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) are still divided over the crucial conflict of interests bill, Hungarian media reported on 18 June. Voting was scheduled for April but has been delayed until after the summer recess. Last week, the SZDSZ submitted its own version of the bill. The coalition parties disagree over to whom the law should apply and when it should take effect. The SZDSZ wants the law to apply retroactively to deputies who have held office since 1994, while the Socialists want the law to go into effect after the 1998 elections. Prime Minister Gyula Horn recently said that the conflict of interest law "can wait." -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT SUBMITS BILL TO CURB ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES.
The government on 17 June submitted a bill to the parliament that aims to curb black-market activities by stepping up measures against illegal employment and earnings, Napi Gazdasag reported. The bill provides for control officers to conduct spot checks at all businesses in Hungary. The officers would be allowed to enter workplaces and examine all documents. However, they would be obliged to respect business secrecy legislation. Authorities would be able to initiate proceedings against both employers and employees for petty offenses or impose fines ranging from 50,000 forints to 1 million forints ($330-$6660) for first-time offenders and up to 3 million forints for further violations within three years. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



INDICTED BOSNIAN SERB WAS VICTIM OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY. T
he International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 17 June dropped all charges against Goran Lajic, saying he was a victim of mistaken identity, AFP reported. Lajic was released, but the court said that charges against another Bosnian Serb of the same name stand. Lajic was arrested in Germany on 18 March and was held in a UN prison in the Netherlands for five weeks on charges of murder and torture. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that victims of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia can sue Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic in U.S. federal courts. The court rejected Karadzic's appeal against a 1995 lower court ruling that upheld the right of a group of Bosnian women who had been tortured and raped to file suits against Karadzic. -- Stefan Krause

ELECTION COALITIONS IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA.
The Socialist Party of Republika Srpska and the Yugoslav United Left of Republika Srpska will run as a coalition in the upcoming elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Onasa reported. Negotiations with the opposition Party of Independent Social-Democrats are under way, according to Nasa Borba. Meanwhile, Banja Luka Mayor Predrag Radic will lead a coalition of five small opposition parties. -- Daria Sito Sucic

TURKEY OFFERS BOSNIA DONATION INSTEAD OF LOAN.
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, visiting Sarajevo for the first time since Bosnia-Herzegovina proclaimed its independence, said the Turkish government has decided to donate $20 million to Bosnia, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 June. Originally, it had intended to loan Bosnia that amount, which is part of a $50 million program Turkey has devised to help in Bosnia's reconstruction. Demirel met with his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic, on 17 June and described their talks as "very fruitful." He also had a meeting with Bosnian Federation President Kresimir Zubak to discuss the implementation of the Dayton peace accord. The two leaders agreed that the Muslim-Croatian federation is the main precondition for preserving peace in the country. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA CLARIFIES LAW ON AMNESTY FOR REBEL SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
Croatian Justice Minister Miroslav Separovic clarified a controversial amnesty law on 17 June, Nasa Borba reported. Separovic made clear that according to the law all rebel Serbs from eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem charged with armed rebellion against Croatia between August 1990 and June 1996 except war criminals are pardoned. He said Serbs now in custody or those who have already been tried and jailed will also be released, with 4,700 court proceedings already under way to be dropped, Reuters reported. UN administrator Jacques Klein, had asked Croatian President Franjo Tudjman for a clear interpretation of the law. According to Vecernji list Separovic, however, also said that the law will not be changed. The region is due to revert to Croatian rule by 1997. * Fabian Schmidt

FERAL TRIBUNE TRIAL ADJOURNED TILL SEPTEMBER.
The trial of two journalists working for the Croatian satirical weekly Feral Tribune was unexpectedly adjourned on its first day, AFP reported on 17 June. Viktor Ivancic and Marinko Culic are accused of defaming Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in an article criticizing Tudjman's suggestion that the remains of World War II Fascists be reburied alongside their victims. They are the first journalists to be prosecuted under a new press law that prohibits criticism or satirical commentary on the president, the prime minister, the parliamentary speaker, or the chief magistrates. The trial is scheduled to resume on 25 September, when new witnesses are expected to appear. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MACEDONIA.
Mate Granic on 17 June visited Skopje for the first time since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia to attend the opening of the Croatian Embassy there, AFP and Nova Makedonija reported. The opening came some five years after the two countries recognized each other. Granic met with his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubomir Frckovski, President Kiro Gligorov, and Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski. Granic and Frckovski described their talks as successful and stressed that there are no outstanding issues between the two countries. Granic also said that Croatia is ready to normalize relations with rump Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause

OFFICIAL ROMANIAN ELECTION RESULTS.
The Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) on 17 June confirmed that the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) candidate Victor Ciorbea has been elected mayor of Bucharest, defeating his Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PSDR) opponent Ilie Nastase, Radio Bucharest reported. Ciorbea received 56.7% of the vote and Nastase 43.2%. Results released so far by the BEC indicate that the opposition has made gains in the mayoral elections, particularly in larger towns, but that the PDSR continues dominate in smaller settlements. Final results are not expected before 20 June. Petre Roman's Social Democratic Union has clearly emerged as the third most important political force. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON HUNGARIAN ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS.
Gheorghe Tinca, in an interview with the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet, said the celebrations marking the 1100th anniversary of the Magyar Conquest are "full of manifestations insulting for Romanians." He conceded that the present Hungarian government cannot be blamed for that. But in an allusion to Jozsef Antall's cabinet, he noted that "nobody can guarantee that another government of historians will not take power in Budapest again." Tinca also said his country neither can nor wants to prevent Hungary from joining NATO before Romania. However, he reiterated that such a development could have a negative impact on bilateral relations and stability in the region. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

NEW STATUS FOR TRANSDNIESTER.
Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov, meeting in Tiraspol on 17 June, reached agreement on the status of the Transdniester region, international agencies reported. Smirnov said the agreement defines the Transdniester as a "state-territorial formation in the form of a republic within Moldova's internationally recognized borders." This appears to be a compromise formula that goes a long way toward meeting Transdniestrian demands. Smirnov added that he and Snegur will sign the agreement at a meeting attended by Russian and Ukrainian presidents. No date for the meeting was specified, nor was there an official Moldovan statement. -- Michael Shafir

LEBED TRIUMPHS AMONG RUSSIAN RESIDENTS OF MOLDOVA.
Russian presidential candidate Aleksander Lebed won 45% of the votes of Russian citizens resident in Moldova, according to data BASA-Press received from the Russian Embassy in Chisinau. Communist Party Leader Gennadii Zyuganov received 36% of those votes, while only 11% supported Boris Yeltsin. Turnout was put at 60%. Some 30,000 Russians reside in Moldova, with the bulk living in the Transdniester region. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP.
Opposition presidential candidate Petar Stoyanov on 17 June said his running-mate will most likely be a member of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (BZNS), Standart reported. The BZNS is the bigger of the two parties belonging to the People's Union. But BZNS Chairwoman Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer will not run for vice president because her party opposes this idea, according to Kontinent. In other news, Ali Agca, who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, has given an interview to the Spanish daily ABC in which he repeats his claim that the CIA was involved in the attempt on the pope's life. He also maintained that the "Bulgarian connection" was fabricated by the CIA in order to discredit the KGB. Agca made similar statements in 1995. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS WIN ALL DISTRICTS IN ELECTION RE-RUN.
The Democratic Party won all 17 electoral districts in which elections were repeated on 16 June, Reuters reported. Most opposition parties, including the Socialists, abstained from voting and demanded a new ballot in all 115 districts. According to the Central Election Commission, 68 percent of voters participated. The Democrats now have a secure two-thirds majority, which allows them to pass a new constitution. Meanwhile, A group of well-known Albanian writers, journalists, artists, and scientists have called on the U.S., the EU, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and other international organizations not to accept the election re-run as a democratic vote. They described the election as a "farce," adding that "the institutions of democracy in Albania have broken down." -- Fabian Schmidt

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT IN GREECE.
Levon Ter-Petrossyan, arriving in Greece on 17 June for an official visit, held talks with his Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos, and Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, Reuters reported. The discussions focused on bilateral relations, regional issues, and Armenia's ties with the EU. A friendship agreement was signed, as well as an economic and cultural cooperation agreement and an accord promoting tourism. Ter-Petrossyan said the friendship treaty will bolster the traditionally good relations between Armenia and Greece, while Simitis stressed Greece's interest in investing in Armenia. A defense cooperation agreement is expected to be signed on 18 June. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





XS
SM
MD
LG