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Newsline - June 19, 1996


LEBED CLAIMS TO FOIL COUP ATTEMPT.
New Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed on 18 June said that he had prevented a coup by "circles close to the Defense Ministry" who were unhappy about the dismissal of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, NTV reported. Lebed said the coup plotters included five generals (Barynkin, Shulikov, Sitnov, Kharchenko, and Lapshov), the outgoing defense minister's press secretary, Yelena Agapova, and Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze. He said he took preventative measures but did not describe in detail how the coup was to have been carried out. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said he knew nothing about the alleged coup. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED TO REVAMP SECURITY COUNCIL . . .
Newly-appointed Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed declared on 18 June that he will subject the council to "shock therapy," and boost its role in policy-making, Russian agencies reported. Lebed said he will create a new "operational council" of the Security Council, consisting of permanently-delegated top officials from each of the ministries and agencies that have seats on the council. The operational council would monitor and control the implementation of Security Council decisions. Lebed added that Yeltsin will now coordinate all top personnel appointments in these ministries with him. Lebed's changes seem designed to transform the Security Council into a "super-ministry," supervising the "power ministries." President Yeltsin, however, is notorious for creating overlapping authority structures that allow him to maneuver among his subordinates, and ITAR-TASS on 18 June suggested that newly-appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov will oversee the "power ministries." -- Scott Parrish

. . . BUT NOT OPPOSE NATO EXPANSION.
Lebed also said that if NATO "has sufficient strength and money, then expand," Russian and Western agencies reported on 18 June. Lebed added that Russia is "no longer fighting with anyone," and has sufficient strength "not to redraw the political map," suggesting indifference to whether NATO accepts new members or not. However, he said that he would "find a way to make clear to British and American taxpayers" that the alliance's expansion would cost them about $250 billion. His remarks mirror comments he made in Nezavisimaya gazeta last month, when he suggested that Russia need not worry about NATO expansion, as Western politicians and voters would soon discover that its costs do not match the meager benefits it would bring. He suggested Russia could best cope with NATO expansion plans by reforming its military, to demonstrate that Russia presents no threat to its neighbors. -- Scott Parrish

LEBED, ZYUGANOV MEET.
Zyuganov and Lebed met on 19 June but did not make any significant agreements, ITAR-TASS reported, citing informed sources. After the meeting, Zyuganov did not rule out including Lebed in his government, saying that "all men who have knowledge, capability, and talent, who would like to serve the country," could enter his coalition, AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung

SPECULATION ON GRACHEV SUCCESSOR.
President Yeltsin will reportedly choose a new defense minister from among four candidates--acting Defense Minister Army General Mikhail Kolesnikov, former Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, former Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, and First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin--according to ITAR-TASS on 18 June, citing anonymous sources. Gromov, now a Duma deputy, and Mironov, now military adviser to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, were both forced out of the Defense Ministry by Grachev, while Kokoshin is the only civilian in the top ranks of the ministry. Ekho Moskvy and Komsomolskaya pravda tapped Kokoshin as the most likely candidate, while Izvestiya cautiously abstained from predictions, while adding former presidential national security aide Yurii Baturin to the list of possible replacements, as well as the Far Eastern Military District commander, Col. Gen. Viktor Chichevatov. -- Scott Parrish

TENSION INCREASING AMONG YELTSIN ADVISERS.
Tensions are increasing among President Yeltsin's campaign advisers, according to ITAR-TASS. At the 18 June meeting of Yeltsin's campaign staff, Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov recommended that the head of the All-Russian Movement for the Social Support of the President, Sergei Filatov, and council member Anatolii Chubais appear less often on TV, since "they do not make a good impression on the people." Other advisers, such as Aleksei Salmin, disagreed, saying that Filatov's soft-spoken manner made him popular among the intelligentsia. ITAR-TASS claimed that the aides are already jockeying for influence over the president in the expectation that he will win the second round. -- Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKII REJECTS POSSIBILITY OF SERVING IN GOVERNMENT.
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii rejected the possibility of serving in President Yeltsin's government, saying that "we do not need comfortable couches in big offices, we need a real opportunity to do something useful for Russia," ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. He said that under no circumstances would Yabloko back Zyuganov in the second round. Yavlinskii called on his supporters to participate in the second round, but he did not explicitly say to vote for Yeltsin. Many of his supporters may simply vote for none of the above, a move that would hurt Yeltsin's chances. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV BACKS 3 JULY RUNOFF DATE.
Zyuganov surprisingly said that he would back President Yeltsin's proposal to hold the runoff on 3 July, Reuters reported. Yeltsin believes that he will benefit from the higher turnout that may appear on a weekday. The Duma is expected to vote on the idea on 21 June. Additionally, a group of deputies has proposed changing the electoral law to extend the time that the polls are open from the current 8 a.m.-10 p.m. to 6 a.m.-midnight. -- Robert Orttung

TsIK LACKS MONEY FOR SECOND ROUND.
The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) currently does not have enough money to conduct the second round of the election, Izvestiya reported on 19 June. The TsIK has only received 693 billion rubles ($144 million) of the 1.9 trillion rubles the Finance Ministry set aside for it in the budget. Ministry officials claim that they do not have the money, without which the TsIK cannot print the ballots. Campaigning for the second round can legally begin as soon as an runoff date is set, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin and Zyuganov will each get free broadcast time on working days in the week leading up to the voting. The overall amount of paid advertising will not be allowed to exceed the free broadcast time. The law prevents campaigning on the day before the voting and election day itself. -- Robert Orttung

KURANTY ACCUSES COMMUNISTS OF LAW VIOLATIONS.
The liberal Moscow newspaper Kuranty on 18 June claimed that the Communists violated the electoral law on voting day. The paper reported that a "typical irregularity" featured Communist observers trying to convince people to vote for Zyuganov at the polling stations. The Communists had planned to send some 200,000 observers to the country's 93,000 polling places. The paper also claimed that illegal election day campaigning for Zyuganov was evident "all over the country." -- Robert Orttung

LEBED TO TAKE CHARGE OF CHECHEN PEACE TALKS.
Following an 18 June session of the state commission for regulating the Chechen conflict, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov told reporters that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had endorsed measures for implementing the 10 June Russian-Chechen peace agreement, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. In an interview with NTV, Aleksandr Lebed said he would personally take charge of the Chechen peace talks, according to AFP; however, ITAR-TASS quoted pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev as saying that personnel changes in Moscow would have no impact on developments in Chechnya. Zavgaev also said in Moscow that 90% of the 97 seats in the new Chechen People's Assembly had been filled during the 14-16 June voting, which the OSCE assessed as "neither free nor fair," according to Reuters. The deputies include former Grozny Mayor Beslan Gantemirov, currently under investigation for embezzlement, ORT reported. -- Liz Fuller

TATAR COMMUNIST PARTY HEAD ALLEGES VOTE RIGGING IN KAZAN.
Aleksandr Salii, first secretary of the Communist Party in Tatarstan, told the republic's electoral commission on 18 June that he plans to contest the results of the presidential election in Kazan, Ekspress-khronika reported. Salii claimed that although the vote was generally fair in Russia, there was mass vote rigging in the Tatar capital. He noted that the results in Kazan--more than 60% for Yeltsin--were the opposite of those elsewhere in the republic and claimed to have evidence to support his allegations of electoral fraud. There has been confusion over the results in the republic; preliminary results from the Central Electoral Commission gave Zyuganov 40.5% of the vote to Yeltsin's 37%, but more recent reports have given Yeltsin 39.5% and Zyuganov 39.2%, RFE-RL reported. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN ORDERS SOCIAL REFORM PROGRAM.
President Yeltsin on 18 June decreed the formation of a government commission to draft a program of social reforms, Russian agencies reported. The commission, to be formed in two weeks, will be headed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The draft program should be submitted to the president by 1 October. The president said there is a need to outline social priorities more clearly as the steps the government has taken in this sphere have yielded inadequate results because of poor implementation. Upgrading social policies is a major element of Yeltsin's election platform, and he clearly wants to maintain the momentum in the days before the second round. Also on 18 June, Yeltsin issued a decree on a national plan of action to improve the position of women in Russia by the year 2000. A third decree rehabilitated people persecuted for their part in peasant uprisings in the USSR from 1918 to 1922. -- Penny Morvant

MVD ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF "CLEAN-HANDS" OPERATION.
Senior Interior Ministry (MVD) official Maj. Gen. Svyatoslav Golitsin said on 18 June that 1,277 police officers were convicted during the 1995 "clean-hands" campaign, 533 of them for abuse of office, ITAR-TASS reported. It is widely believed that these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Golitsin heads the MVD's Administration for Internal Security, which was set up in January this year to fight crime within the MVD. Among the problems it deals with are bribery, penetration of the police by criminal groups, and the flow of information on police operations to criminals. One of new Security Council head Lebed's main electoral promises is to tackle corruption among state officials, but bribery and extortion are so pervasive it is doubtful that he will be able to do much about it. -- Penny Morvant

BANKER INJURED IN ATTACK.
Banker and businessman Boris Fedorov was seriously injured in an attack in Moscow on 19 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Fedorov was shot and then stabbed by an unknown assailant when he was sitting in his car. Formerly head of the National Sports Foundation, Fedorov is chairman of the National Credit Bank. The Sports Foundation, set up by Yeltsin's tennis coach and Sports Minister Shamil Tarpishchev, long benefited from low customs duties on the importation of alcohol and tobacco to finance sporting activities. Fedorov was fired from the post of foundation president after he was arrested in May for possession of a small quantity of cocaine. Speculation in the Russian press linked his arrest to the foundation's financial activities. -- Penny Morvant

MOSCOW IMPOSES LIMIT ON NUMBER OF FOREIGN WORKERS.
The Moscow city government has decided to limit the number of foreign workers in order to avoid an increase in unemployment and discrimination against Muscovites, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. They intend to restrict the number of registered foreigners to 5% of the labor force. A special committee will be formed to crack down on unregistered workers. Foreign employees in Moscow include some 3,000 highly qualified specialists from the West, and more than 500,000 economic migrants from Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Vietnam, and China, mostly working in construction, transport, and retailing. -- Natalia Gurushina



GAMSAKHURDIA ASSOCIATE SENTENCED TO DEATH.
Badri Zarandia, who was involved in late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia's unsuccessful attempt to regain power in 1993, was sentenced to death by a Georgian court on 17 June on charges of treason, banditry, and murder, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

TURKMENISTAN RATIONS GASOLINE, DIESEL.
Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov announced that subsidies on gasoline and other fuels will be cut on 1 July, and car owners will be limited to 100 liters of gas a month, Reuters reported on 19 June. The rationed fuel will cost 200 manats ($0.05) a liter. -- Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKHSTAN TAKES RUSSIAN NEWS PROGRAM OFF THE AIR.
The state television news agency Khabar took the Russian language news analysis program "Nedelya" off the air on 16 June after the program featured an election appeal by Russia presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed without the agency's knowledge, according to a Kazakhstani TV report monitored by the BBC. Khabar claimed that the unauthorized broadcast had compromised the agency in the eye's of its viewers. A replacement program in Kazakh and Russian is scheduled to begin broadcasting on 23 June. -- Bhavna Dave



FURTHER RESHUFFLING IN UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT.
President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Vasyl Durdynets, deputy prime minister for security and emergency situations, as first deputy premier, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 18 June. Durdynets replaces Pavlo Lazarenko, the new prime minister. Kuchma also sacked Finance Minister Petro Hermanchuk and appointed Valentyn Koronevsky as his replacement. No official reason was given for the move, but Kuchma had recently accused Hermanchuk, who was appointed by former President Leonid Kravchuk, for mishandling the government wage debt crisis. Virtually unknown at the national level, Koronevsky was in charge of the regional administration's finances in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONS CONCLUDE POWER-SHARING ACCORD STILL VALID.
Two parliamentary commissions have concluded that a June 1995 power-sharing agreement between President Kuchma and a majority of deputies is still valid, Ukrainian Radio reported on 18 June. Both the human rights commission and commission on legal policy and judicial reform agreed that the wording of the so-called constitutional agreement makes it valid until a new Ukrainian constitution is adopted. Parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz was recently criticized by the parliament for claiming the accord expired on 8 June. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE.
Askar Akayev, arriving in Kyiv on 18 June for an official visit, called for closer cooperation between Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, Ukrainian Radio reported. Following a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Akayev said the signing of a treaty on friendship and cooperation, expected to take place during his visit, would lift the "artificial barriers" between the countries. More than 300 agreements exist between Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, but trade between them amounted to only $17 million in 1995. -- Ustina Markus

THIRD MEETING OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired the third session of the Russian-Belarusian Executive Committee for integration in Moscow on 18 June, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV reported. Delegates discussed social issues, setting up a joint customs space, and establishing a unified statistics service. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was supposed to attend the meeting but was not present. He is quoted as having said that the first round of the Russian presidential elections showed that Russians were opposed to reform. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN CABINET GIVES RESIDENCE PERMITS TO 3,000 RUSSIAN MILITARY RETIREES.
The Estonian government on 18 June announced it will grant residence permits to some 3,000 retired Russian officers and their family members, BNS reported. Five-year permits were granted to 2,965 officers, while the others received permits for between two and four years. The government still has to decide the fate of some 8,000 other military retirees and family members. Until now, no application has been rejected. -- Saulius Girnius

SIX DEPUTIES QUIT "FOR LATVIA" CAUCUS.
Six deputies of the Popular Movement for Latvia caucus in the Saeima on 18 June announced they are leaving the parliamentary group, BNS reported. The deputies cited the "undemocratic atmosphere" in the caucus. They claimed that all decisions were made by caucus chairman Odisejs Kostanda and German-born party leader Joachim Siegerist. The six deputies do not intend to establish a new caucus immediately but may do so during the fall session. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION FINISHES DRAFT CONSTITUTION.
The Polish parliamentary commission on drafting a new constitution has adopted the final article (no. 218), which stipulates the procedure for making changes to the basic law. According to this article, a relevant bill must gain a two-thirds majority in the Sejm and an absolute majority in the Senate. If changes are proposed to those articles dealing with general constitutional principles, citizens rights, or the procedure for changing the constitution, a national referendum may be called, Rzeczpospolita reported on 19 June. -- Jakub Karpinski

BRITAIN TO RENT MILITARY TRAINING GROUNDS IN POLAND.
British Defense Minister Michael Portillo on 18 June signed an agreement with his Polish counterpart, Stanislaw Dobrzanski, allowing Britain to use training grounds in Poland. Britain will pay $100 a day for each soldier. The first major exercise will take place in September at Drawsko and will involve 3,500 troops from the Seventh Armored Brigade, Rzeczpospolita reported on 19 June. This is the first such agreement that Poland has signed with a NATO member country. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH POLITICAL UPDATE.
Talks on forming a minority coalition government led by incumbent Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus are nearing an end, Czech media reported on 18 June. Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has made a number of concessions to its two junior coalition allies--the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Christian Democratic Union--including giving up its resistance to subdividing the country into regions. The ODS continues to insist on having a majority of cabinet positions but is now willing to give its coalition allies the right of veto in government decision-making. The coalition parties are still opposed to the opposition Social Democrats' proposal that important parliamentary posts be proportionately divided among all parties with representation in the legislature, including the extreme-right Republicans and the extreme-left Communists. -- Jiri Pehe

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CRITICIZES CZECH REPUBLIC.
In its 1995 report, Amnesty International has criticized the Czech Republic for what it calls "discriminatory instructions" issued by the Interior Ministry permitting police to search Romani homes with loaded weapons, CTK reported on 18 June. But Czech police told CTK the same day that the Law on Police, which defines the police's use of weapons, does not mention any ethnic or national group. Amnesty International cited the case of a Romani man shot by police while in custody in 1994. No charges were brought at the time. The human rights organization asked the Czech state to provide information for an investigation. -- Alaina Lemon

GERMANY SUSPENDS ARREST WARRANT FOR SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON.
Michal Kovac Jr.'s lawyer, Jan Havlat, announced on 18 June that Germany has suspended his client's arrest warrant in connection with the $2.3 million Technopol fraud, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported. Kovac Jr. can now travel to Germany for questioning without fear of being arrested, Havlat said. It is unclear, however, whether the Slovak authorities will allow Kovac Jr. to travel there. On 13 June, Slovak police said the president's son is unable to leave the country because of fraud charges filed against him in December. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP.
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's health is better, but he remains unable to fully carry out his duties, his spokeswoman Magda Pospisilova announced on 18 June. After attending the cabinet session led by Meciar, TASR director Dusan Kleiman noted that he is "just as dynamic" as before his illness . In other news, parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic said the question of expanding the board that oversees the Slovak Information Service could be added to the agenda of the parliament's session that begins on 19 June. Gasparovic and Meciar, both members of Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, on 18 June met with representatives of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) to discuss domestic and foreign policy as well as the possibility of expanding the board to include SDL deputies. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT CHANGES HOUSE RULES.
The parliament on 18 June approved a proposal that changes house rules to the opposition's disadvantage, Hungarian dailies reported. Leaders of the socialist-liberal coalition submitted a proposal in early June to limit the number of morning debates, saying that, among other things, the opposition's "unserious" contributions are damaging the parliament's prestige. The new regulation limits the debates to once a week and allows only caucus leaders to speak. Opposition parties see their basic rights violated by this move, not least because their contributions and air time during the televised debates will be reduced just before the 1998 election campaign begins. Moreover, some important scandals, such as "Oilgate," have been revealed by the opposition during the morning debates. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



ARMS EMBARGO ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA ENDS.
International restrictions on the export of weapons to the former Yugoslavia became history on 18 June, AFP reported. The move was made possible in accordance with the terms of the Dayton agreement following the signing of a regional arms control agreement on 14 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 June 1996). Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina will now enjoy parity in heavy weapons in a ratio of 5:2:2. Within the Bosnian allotment, the Croatian-Muslim federation will be allowed more weapons than the Bosnian Serbs. The embargo went into effect on 25 September 1991 following Serbia's invasion of Slovenia and Croatia. The ban served to preserve Belgrade's existing military preponderance, but all sides found ways of circumventing the restrictions, the BBC noted. It is unlikely that the latest arms control agreement will be any more water-tight than was the embargo. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB WOMEN HOLD OSCE REPRESENTATIVES CAPTIVE.
Dozens of Bosnian Serb women who wanted help in finding relatives missing since last summer surrounded the OSCE offices in Banja Luka on 17 June, preventing staff from leaving the building, AFP reported. Twenty-four hours later, they left the area outside the building, following talks with Michael Steiner, deputy of the High Representative for Bosnia. Leader of the Bosnian Serb missing persons' group said the women's action was "political" and aimed at diverting the attention of UN organizations to the problem of missing Serbs in Bosnia. But Alexandar Ivanko, UN spokesman in Sarajevo, said the UN international police consider it "not a political but a criminal action." -- Daria Sito Sucic

TUDJMAN SKEPTICAL BOSNIA WILL SURVIVE AS STATE.
NATO diplomatic sources in Brussels describe the recent talks between NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as having been "extremely difficult," Nasa Borba reported on 19 June. The NATO official was "not impressed" by Tudjman's readiness to cooperate in solving Bosnian problems. Moreover, he was discouraged to find out that Tudjman does not believe that Bosnia-Herzegovina will survive as a single state and that the Dayton peace accord is valid only temporarily. Tudjman believes that in the long run, Bosnia will be divided between Serbs and Croats, Nasa Borba reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MORE FALLOUT OVER HERZEGOVINIAN CROAT "GOVERNMENT."
The Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), the leading Croatian political party in both Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, denied on 18 June that recent political changes in the self-proclaimed Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna are a breach of the Dayton agreement (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 June 1996). The HDZ's Bozo Rajic said that the changes involve only reorganizing an existing cabinet and that the republic remains legal until the Croatian-Muslim federation comes into effect. The Muslims charge that the quasi-state should have been disbanded long ago. Federal Vice President Ejup Ganic has demanded the recall of federal Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic, a Croat, since his appointment was conditional on the disolution of Herceg-Bosna, Onasa reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry has also protested the Croatian moves, Nasa Borba wrote on 19 June . The Muslim position seems to be the one most in keeping with Dayton, but western Herzegovina functions in any event as a part of Croatia. -- Patrick Moore

RUMP YUGOSLAVIA PARDONS DRAFT DODGERS.
The rump Yugoslav parliament on 18 June approved an amnesty for some 12,500 conscripts who avoided military service or deserted during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1991 and 1995, Reuters reported. The law does not apply to professional soldiers and active officers. Previously, draft dodgers and deserters faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Tens of thousands of young men fled rump Yugoslavia to avoid having to fight in the war. Rump Yugoslav authorities repeatedly rounded up men born in Croatia and Bosnia and sent them to fight there, according to human rights monitors. -- Stefan Krause

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SEMINAR CLOSES IN BELGRADE.
A three-day seminar on media freedom, organized by London's Article 19 and Belgrade's Media Center, ended in the Serbian capital on 18 June. Journalists from all parts of the former Yugoslavia and all neighboring Balkan countries took part in the meeting to discuss the role of the independent media in a post-conflict environment, journalistic ethics, and how to deal with the "advocacy of national, religious, racial, and religious hatred." Igor Mekina of the Slovenian weekly Mladina said a relatively good legal framework in Slovenia did not prevent the courts and political structures from being insensitive to the need to promote media freedom, Nasa Borba reported on 18 June. B-92 Director Veran Matic said that since Dayton, the number of free media organizations in Serbia has been reduced owing to the regime's machinations. -- Stanko Markotic in Belgrade

SHOOTING INCIDENTS IN KOSOVO.
One Serbian policeman was killed and two wounded in separate shooting incidents on 16 and 17 June in Kosovska Mitrovica and Podujevo, Reuters reported. Unidentified gunmen also opened automatic gun fire and threw a hand grenade at the police station in Luzane. Kosovo's Albanian-language media reported that police began harassing and beating Albanians following the incidents. In similar incidents earlier this year, five Serbs were killed within a few days. The Liberation Army of Kosovo, which was previously unknown claimed responsibility for those attacks. No group has yet owned up to these most recent attacks, which, the Socialist Party said, "undermine all efforts to restore a lasting peace in the province." -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIA, BULGARIA SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT.
Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak and his Bulgarian counterpart, Dimitar Pavlov, signed a military cooperation agreement in Zagreb on 18 June, Hina reported. Susak said the agreement provides for close military cooperation once the arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia is lifted. He noted that it is "no secret" that Croatia is interested in buying anti-armor rockets and possibly producing them in cooperation with Bulgaria. Pavlov proposed that Croatian officers attend training courses at Bulgarian military academies. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIA'S RULING PARTY CONCEDES LOSS OF VOTES IN TOWNS.
Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), on 18 June conceded that his party lost most big towns--including Bucharest--in local elections held on 2 and 16 June, Reuters and Romanian media reported. Nastase said voter frustration with the ongoing reforms were responsible for his party's poor showing. He also claimed that "We lost the battle at the mass media level," saying that in the big towns, the press waged a campaign against the party. But Nastase praised the loyalty of the rural electorate toward his party, whose nationwide performance he described as "a success." Preliminary results show that the PDSR won nearly 32% of the 2,610 mayoralties. -- Dan Ionescu

SOME 3 MILLION BULGARIANS BUY PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS.
The Center for Mass Privatization on 17 June announced that just over 3 million people--or 48.7% of those eligible--have bought privatization vouchers, Bulgarian media reported. Of those who bought vouchers in the second round of purchasing, roughly two-thirds paid the full price of 500 leva ($3.50) for one voucher, whose nominal value is 25,000 leva. The rest paid the reduced price of 100 leva intended for pensioners, students, and soldiers. In other news, the National Statistical Institute announced that the prices of goods monitored by the government went up by 10.8% in the first half of June. This is twice the increase predicted by economists and statisticians. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST OSCE.
The daily Albania has published a series of articles alleging a conspiracy between Norwegian, Danish, Bulgarian, and German OSCE monitors. The newspaper, which backs the government, claims the monitors were either old friends of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha or spies. It adds that they were therefore biased in their report on the recent elections, which pointed to irregularities and manipulation. Among those accused by Albania is the head of Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service, a Danish sociologist, who himself was banned from Albania beginning in the 1970s, and a senior German judge. Most allegations are based on their having spent time in Albania during the communist era. Radio Tirana recently stopped rebroadcasting Deutsche Welle programs on short wave because of its criticism of the elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

TURKEY UPSET WITH GREEK-ARMENIAN ACCORD.
Ankara has reacted angrily to a military cooperation accord signed by Armenia and Greece in Athens on 18 June, the Turkish Daily News reported. Turkish Defense Minister Oltan Sungurlu commented that Turkey is in a position to "have such an agreement cancelled." He also said that no threat was posed to Turkey by Greece's stated desire to establish a "defense forum" among countries known to harbor strong misgivings about Turkey's intentions. Those countries, he said, include Greece, Armenia, Iran, Syria, "certain Arab countries," and Georgia. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave









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