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Newsline - June 21, 1996


CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMITTEE PUBLISHES FINAL RESULTS.
The final results of the 16 June voting were published on 20 June, Reuters reported.

Registered voters 108,494,533
Total valid ballots 74,514,804
Total invalid ballots 1,072,119
Turnout 69.8%

% of votes / # of votes
Boris Yeltsin 35.28 26,664,890
Gennadii Zyuganov 32.04 24,211,790
Aleksandr Lebed 14.52 10,974,597
Grigorii Yavlinskii 7.34 5,550,710
Vladimir Zhirinovsky 5.70 4,311,469
Svyatoslav Fedorov 0.92 699,166
Mikhail Gorbachev 0.51 386,069
Martin Shakkum 0.37 277,058
Yurii Vlasov 0.20 151,281
Vladimir Bryntsalov 0.16 123,065
Against all candidates 2.96 1,163,682
-- Robert Orttung

COMMUNIST REACTION TO YELTSIN FIRINGS.
Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 20 June charged that the arrest of President Yeltsin's two campaign aides was an attempt to stop the second round of the election
from taking place, NTV reported. Zyuganov also complained that the firings of Oleg Soskovets, Mikhail Barsukov, and Aleksandr Korzhakov represented "the decapitation of the power structures." Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said that Korzhakov and Barsukov were fired because they "encroached on the holy of holies--the secret financing of the Yeltsin campaign," ITAR-TASS reported on 20 June. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin argued that the firings were the result of a battle between "mutually exclusive" factions within the president's inner circle. The Communist faction of the Duma also announced that it will demand a detailed report on the events during the night 19-20 June and the reasons for the removal of the three figures. -- Robert Orttung

CHUBAIS EXPLAINS RECENT EVENTS.
Yeltsin campaign adviser Anatolii Chubais said that Korzhakov, Barsukov, and Soskovets decided to arrest Yeltsin campaign aides Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev because they believed that they were about to lose their own jobs, NTV reported on 20 June. The arrests of the two aides was merely the first step in a plan to discredit Yeltsin's entire campaign headquarters, Chubais claimed. Chubais described the events as the conclusion of a power struggle in the Yeltsin camp between a group that wanted to take power by force and a group that wanted to win the election legitimately, ITAR-TASS reported. He praised the efforts of Lebed in blocking the actions of the hardliners. -- Robert Orttung

YEVSTAFEV, LISOVSKII DESCRIBE ARREST.
"I was arrested at 5 p.m. at the White House by men claiming to represent the president's Security Service," Yevstafev told NTV on 20 June. The men held him until 3 a.m. without explanation and asked numerous questions about the election. Lisovskii said that the box of money allegedly found in his possession was planted, Reuters reported on 20 June. He said that he and Yevstafev had been collecting documents and surveys to prepare for the second round. Lisovskii noted that his interrogators were particularly interested in getting information about the role of Anatolii Chubais. -- Robert Orttung

KORZHAKOV PLEDGES LOYALTY TO YELTSIN.
The former head of Presidential Security Service (SBP), Aleksandr Korzhakov, said on 20 June that he will remain in President Yeltsin's team and "will make every effort to ensure Yeltsin's victory," Russian and Western media reported. Korzhakov blasted Chubais for his critical comments on 20 June, describing him as a "nightmare for Russia." Yeltsin had recently made Korzhakov a minister and "first adviser," and granted broad new powers to the SBP (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 May 1996). Like Korzhakov, ex-FSB Director Mikhail Barsukov began his career in the 9th KGB Directorate and allegedly was Yeltsin's trusted adviser and drinking buddy. According to Izvestiya, Barsukov's son is married to Korzhakov's daughter, and Korzhakov reportedly helped his in-law obtain the position of counterintelligence chief. -- Constantine Dmitriev

LEBED PRESENTED TO SECURITY COUNCIL.
Shortly before firing Korzhakov, Barsukov, and Soskovets, on 20 June President Yeltsin introduced newly-appointed Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed at a Kremlin meeting of the council, Russian media reported. The council, including former Federal Security Service chief Mikhail Barsukov, unanimously endorsed Lebed's appointment. ITAR-TASS reported that Yeltsin charged Lebed "personally" with strengthening the security of society and the individual, as well as insuring political stability. During the meeting, Yeltsin criticized the government for failing to prevent energy companies from cutting off supplies to essential military installations, and blasted the security ministries for "criminal mismanagement" of budget funds, saying that the Defense Ministry had squandered more than 300 billion rubles ($60 million). After the meeting, Lebed said Yeltsin had given him "carte-blanche" to reform the council. -- Scott Parrish

LEBED SAYS YELTSIN FIRED COUP PLOTTERS.
Lebed was greeted "like a national hero" by a crowd that gathered to hear him at a press conference following the Security Council meeting, NTV reported. Lebed declared that Yeltsin had personally decided to fire Barsukov, Korzhakov, and Soskovets after the session. While Yeltsin did not publicly link the sackings with the 19-20 June incident involving the arrest of two Yeltsin campaign staffers, Lebed did. He said an "attempt to pressure the president had been organized," and suggested that the plotters had tried but failed to attract the support of the armed forces. "A certain number of stupid people involved in it will be dismissed," he added. Some observers have suggested that Yeltsin's campaign staff are deliberately exaggerating the danger presented by the recent incident in order to convince voters that Yeltsin and Lebed saved the country from a major crisis. -- Scott Parrish

NEW RESPONSIBILITIES FOR LOBOV.
Oleg Lobov will take over the industrial policy portfolio previously held by sacked First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, Russian and Western agencies reported on 20 June. Soskovets was in charge of the Energy, Transport, Construction, Health, and Nuclear Power ministries, among others. He also supervised various state committees, including those on the defense industry and metallurgy, and chaired the powerful Committee on Operational Questions. Lobov was given the post of first deputy prime minister on 18 June after losing the post of Security Council secretary to make way for Lebed. He is still Yeltsin's special representative in Chechnya but said he will soon relinquish that job. Lobov briefly held the posts of first deputy prime minister and economics minister in 1993; at the time, he called for increased state regulation of the economy and a slowdown in privatization. -- Penny Morvant

ACTING SECURITY CHIEF NAMED.
Following the abrupt dismissal of Barsukov, President Yeltsin on 20 June named a deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Nikolai Kovalev, as its new acting chief, ITAR-TASS reported. Born in 1949, Kovalev has worked in state security since 1974. He served for two years in Afghanistan and worked in the Moscow and Moscow Oblast branches of the FSB before being made deputy director with responsibility for economic counterintelligence. He was promoted to the rank of colonel general this May. Barsukov served as FSB head for less than a year, taking over from Sergei Stepashin last July in the wake of the Budennovsk hostage crisis. -- Penny Morvant

NEW BODYGUARD CHIEF FOR YELTSIN.
To replace Aleksandr Korzhakov, President Yeltsin signed a decree on 20 June appointing head of the Federal Protection Service (FSO) Lt. Gen. Yurii Krapivin acting chief of the Presidential Security Service (SBP), ITAR-TASS reported. It was the second new title for Krapivin in two days: on 19 June, Yeltsin issued a decree renaming the Main Protection Administration, which Krapivin had headed since 1995, the FSO. That change was mandated by the recently approved law on state protection, which regulates the provision of bodyguards to senior state officials. According to the law, the FSO and the SBP are under the command of the president. Their powers include the right, in relation to their duties, to conduct searches, check identity papers, make arrests, give orders to other state organs, enter premises without the owners' consent, ban access to public places, and recruit and use secret informants. -- Penny Morvant

IS THE CHECHEN PEACE AGREEMENT UNRAVELLING?
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 20 June ordered his forces to refrain from further hostilities until after the second round of the Russian presidential election, reiterating a similar statement of 17 June, ITAR-TASS and Ekho Moskvy reported. Russian Public TV (ORT) quoted the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, as implying that the implementation of the 10 June peace agreement has been stalled. A meeting between Chechen and Russian military representatives planned for 21 June has been postponed because agreement could not be reached on a venue for it. Each side continues to accuse the other of violating the ceasefire agreement. A Russian armored column is reported to have opened fire on the village of Alkhan-Yurt on 19 June, and 15 Russian troops were killed in the ensuing fighting, according to Ekho Moskvy. On 20 June, a Russian transport helicopter was shot down over the village of Tsentoroi in southeastern Chechnya, killing one person and injuring seven others, AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller

CENTRAL BANK MAY REVOKE NEW RESERVE REQUIREMENTS.
The Central Bank may reverse its 10 June decision to increase mandatory reserves for commercial banks by some 2 trillion rubles ($395 million) (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 June 1996), ITAR-TASS reported on 20 June. The bank took the step to neutralize the inflationary effect of transferring $1 billion of the bank's profits to the federal budget. However, the increase in reserves has worsened the commercial banks' liquidity problems, already exacerbated by pre-election deposit withdrawals by their customers. The Association of Russian Banks and the Central Bank have agreed to set up a working group to resolve the problem. -- Natalia Gurushina

FINANCIAL-INDUSTRIAL GROUPS ON INCREASE.
The government's Commission on Operational Questions held a meeting on 19 June to discuss the role of financial-industrial groups (FPGs) in the economy, Kommersant-Daily reported. The commission was chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, who was dismissed the next day. FPGs are voluntary conglomerates of legally independent firms: conservative figures in the government see them as a way of fighting off foreign competition and replacing the coordinating role formerly played by the central ministries. There are currently 34 FPGs, uniting 1,457 firms and 49 banks. They account for 10% of GDP, up from 2% a year ago. Despite a presidential decree and a law regulating FPGs, their status remains unclear with respect to tax and investment privileges. Their future is still more uncertain given the removal of Soskovets, their chief sponsor. -- Peter Rutland



DEMONSTRATION IN BAKU.
More than 100 people on 20 June staged a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Baku and submitted a petition to the embassy urging the U.S. Senate not to approve an amendment passed by the House of Representatives that would provide humanitarian aid to the mainly ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL reported. Under the terms of Amendment 907 to the Freedom Support Act, the U.S. does not provide aid to Azerbaijan in retaliation for the ongoing blockade of Armenia. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev lodged a protest with the U.S. ambassador in Baku over the amendment on 13 June. -- Liz Fuller

GEORGIA ISSUES WARRANT FOR BASAEV'S ARREST.
The Tbilisi-based Abkhaz government in exile has issued a warrant for the arrest of Chechen military commander Shamil Basaev for his participation in the war in Abkhazia in 1992-1993, and has requested the assistance of the Russian Procurator-General's Office in apprehending him, Radio Rossii reported on 20 June. Earlier this month, the Abkhaz authorities in Sukhumi denied Georgian media reports that Basaev was vacationing in Abkhazia -- Liz Fuller

DECLINE IN EMIGRATION FROM KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstani First Deputy Labor Minister Alikhan Baymenov claims that the country's "increasing political and economic stability" led to a sharp decline in the number of people emigrating from Kazakhstan in the first quarter of this year, RFE/RL reported on 21 June. About 309,000 people left Kazakhstan in 1995, compared with 480,000 the previous year. Anatolii Puzhai, the head of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Kazakhstan, told ITAR-TASS on 20 June that the number of people arriving in Kazakhstan has steadily increased since 1991. About a third of the 122,000 who came to Kazakhstan between 1991-94 are ethnic Kazakhs and the remaining Russians and Ukrainians, Puzhai added. -- Bhavna Dave

IRANIAN RADIO BROADCASTS IN CENTRAL ASIA.
Iran's state radio began broadcasts in the Kazakh language on 19 June, according to Tehran Radio and IRNA reports on 20 June monitored by AFP. IRNA described the 30-minute program as "a message of peace and friendship," and said it would be broadcast daily in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as well. The Iranian radio station broadcasts programs in some 20 languages. -- Bhavna Dave

KYRGYZ PRIME MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH TURKEY.
In the wake of a six-day visit to Turkey, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov said Bishkek's relations with Ankara are set to improve, according to a 19 June Interfax report monitored by the BBC. He pointed out that "many agreements" on economic cooperation have been signed but are not working; for example only $39 million of a $75 million loan extended in 1992 had been used to date. In the wake of Jumagulov's visit, it appears the remainder of the promised funds will be disbursed for the development of Kyrgyzstan's hydroelectric sector. -- Lowell Bezanis

MORE FIGHTING IN TAJIKISTAN.
Tajik government forces on 19 June launched an attack on rebel troops near Tajikabad, killing 16 opposition fighters and wounding eight, according to government sources. Also on 19 June, eight government soldiers were killed at a checkpoint near the town of Kijak, 35 km east of Dushanbe, when unidentified gunmen in a KAMAZ truck opened fire on the checkpoint. Despite this latest violence, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov on 20 June offered to meet with Tajik opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri as soon as possible, suggesting Moscow as a venue. -- Bruce Pannier



NEW ARTICLES IN DRAFT UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION. Mykhail
o Syrota, chairman of a special parliamentary arbitration commission, on 19 June presented amendments to and new articles of the draft Ukrainian constitution that have been drawn up by his commission, Ukrainian TV and UNIAN reported. The draft includes a clause stating that the right to change the constitution and constitutional system in Ukraine "is the exclusive privilege of the people." Although the draft still does not name Russian as a second state language, it has been amended to include guarantees for "ethnic minorities...to use their ethnic minority language alongside the state language [Ukrainian] within areas of their community residence." Other new articles guarantee gender equality and make it obligatory for parents to support their children until adulthood and for adult children to care for their elderly parents. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CRIMEAN PARTIES DEMAND CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES OF AUTONOMY.
Six Crimean political parties and civic organizations have issued a joint statement demanding Kyiv provide firm guarantees of their region's autonomy within the draft Ukrainian constitution, UNIAN reported on 19 June, as cited by the BBC. The parties want guarantees that Crimea will have its own constitution and parliament. They also seek control over mineral resources, safeguards for the peninsula's territorial integrity, including Sevastopol, and the use of Russian as a second state language. The appeal states that the parties will resort to acts of civil disobedience if their demands are not met. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

EU WARNS BELARUS AGAINST NATIONALIZING BANKS.
The EU has recommended that the Belarusian government stop nationalizing the country's commercial banks, Belarusian Radio reported on 20 June. The EU warned that increasing the role of the state in the banking system would lead to the "ineffective allocation of resources" because the state would give priority to its own needs. It also noted that as state banks tend to be tied to specific industries, they would continue to issue credits to those industries, regardless of whether they were profitable. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN UPDATE.
The parliament on 19 July adopted a decree giving the president, parliamentary speaker, and prime minister unlimited air time on national radio and television, according to Belarusian Radio. The following day, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced that as of 1 July, Belarusian citizens will not be allowed to travel abroad without registering with the appropriate authorities, Radio Rossii reported. He also told a meeting of regional leaders that he wanted to hold a nationwide referendum on the question of NATO expansion and the right to private property. He lashed out at the parliament for not passing a single law implementing the results of last year's referendum. Voters then approved, among other things, closer economic ties with Russia. In a non-binding consultative question, they also granted the president the right to dissolve the parliament. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN COURT POSTPONES TRIAL OF FORMER SOVIET SECURITY HEAD.
A court on the western island of Saaremaa on 20 June postponed the trial of 85-year-old Vasilli Riis because of the defendant's poor health, BNS reported. Riis, who was head of the NKVD Soviet security police in Saaremaa in summer 1941, is accused of signing arrest warrants for 340 Estonians who were later executed. The same day, the Lithuanian Prosecutor's Office in Vilnius postponed until July the questioning of 89-year-old Aleksandras Lileikis after doctors insisted that he be hospitalized. Lileikis, who was recently stripped of his U.S. citizenship, is accused of signing orders handing Jews over to Nazi executioners while heading a secret police force in Vilnius during the Nazi occupation. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT.
The Seimas on 20 June ratified the EU association agreement, which was signed one year ago, Radio Lithuania reported. The legislature had delayed ratification so that Article 47 of the Constitution, which prohibited the sale of land to foreigners and thus violated EU regulations, could be amended. Earlier the same day, deputies voted to amend the article to allow the sale of non-agricultural land to citizens of OSCE and G-24 states as well as countries with an association agreement with the EU. The amendment had been passed on 19 March but had to be approved again, since the constitution requires that approval be reconfirmed by a two-thirds majority after three months. -- Saulius Girnius

NATO CONFERENCE IN WARSAW.
Senior officials from more than 30 countries belonging to NATO and the Partnership for Peace met in Warsaw on 20 June for a four-day conference, the 13th NATO Workshop. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, European NATO forces military chief General George Joulwan, and the presidents of some Central and East European countries, including Poland's Aleksander Kwasniewski, are attending the conference. In his opening speech, Kwasniewski said that "Central European states have regained the capacity to determine their own affairs and acquired a significant standing in the overall framework of European politics." He added that Poland is ready to join NATO "at the earliest possible date." -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH POLITICAL UPDATE.
The leaders of the three parties trying to form a minority government met on 20 June for the sixth time since the parliamentary elections but remained divided over the makeup of the proposed cabinet, Czech media reported. The Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister-designate Vaclav Klaus, which won more than twice the number of votes than the other prospective coalition parties combined, insists on having a majority of ministerial posts. The Christian-Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party and the Civic Democratic Alliance maintain that, together, they should have parity with the ODS. A further meeting is scheduled for 21 June. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER PUSHES JUNIOR COALITION PARTNERS ASIDE...
Vladimir Meciar on 20 June announced that although his government is "still functioning," his coalition is not, Slovak media reported. While the Slovak National Party (SNS) and Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) have not withdrawn from the coalition agreement, they have stopped adhering to it, Meciar alleged. He added that the national pride of the SNS and the workers' honor of the ZRS "stopped at" the insurance firm Slovenska poistovna, which has been the main subject of coalition conflict (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 June 1996). SNS and ZRS chairmen Jan Slota and Jan Luptak denied that they violated the coalition agreement because of their interest in controlling financial institutions. -- Sharon Fisher

...AND PREPARES TO FORM MINORITY GOVERNMENT.
At the initiative of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), Meciar met on 20 June with representatives of all parliamentary parties, except the ZRS, to garner support. Opposition leaders said they do not want early elections and would prefer that Meciar serve his four-year term and take responsibility for his policies. Meciar said he assumes the majority of SNS and ZRS deputies will continue to work with the HZDS, while "most opposition parties are also prepared to support a minority government." He singled out the SDL, which said it might support a minority government if its demands are met. Meciar said none of the ministers representing the two coalition partners were expected to leave the cabinet since they disagree with their parties' leaderships. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON FOUNDATIONS.
The Slovak parliament on 20 June reapproved a law on foundations first passed in May but later vetoed by President Michal Kovac, Slovak media reported. In doing so, it ignored objections from Kovac, domestic non-profit organizations, and international critics. Before the vote, Kovac appeared in the parliament to warn that the law is not in harmony with Slovakia's obligations as an associated country of the EU. The law takes effect on 1 September. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY PREPARES SECOND PLAN TO PRIVATIZE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT.
The passage last week of a nuclear energy law has paved the way for a new privatization tender to be announced in October for the Paks nuclear power plant, Magyar Hirlap reported on 21 June, citing top officials. The Soviet-built nuclear plant supplies half of the country's electricity, and experts believe it is a safer Soviet model than Chornobyl. When the plant went on line in 1982, its life span was estimated at 30 years. But management says that in its present condition, the plant could be used for longer. It plans to extend the facilities' life span by 10 to 15 years. During the privatization last year of the country's energy sector, Paks was put up for sale in a package with the core electricity company MVM but failed to find a buyer. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



KARADZIC NOMINATED FOR BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENCY.
The Pale regional group of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) on 20 June nominated the current president of the Republika Srpska (RS), Radovan Karadzic, to run in the direct elections for the presidency expected to take place by mid-September. He is, however, also an indicted war criminal, and the Dayton agreement specifies that such people cannot hold political office and must be sent to The Hague to face charges. There have recently been orchestrated demonstrations on behalf of Karadzic and fellow indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic across the republic. The latest move by the SDS comes amid reports that Belgrade and its loyalists in Pale are trying to oust Karadzic before sanctions are reimposed, news agencies reported. The nomination is yet another direct challenge to the international community, which has repeatedly failed to enforce the principles it itself enshrined in the Dayton agreement. The U.S. and the Bosnian government have slammed the SDS's decision. -- Patrick Moore

DEMILITARIZATION OF EASTERN SLAVONIA COMPLETED.
The UN completed the demilitarization of eastern Slavonia, the last Serb-held part of Croatia, by the noon deadline on 20 June, AFP reported. The UN spokesman said that UN monitors would continue to check the area for any further violations during the region's gradual return to Croatian government control. Meanwhile, the eastern Slavonia Serbs' self-declared parliament called for the mandate of the Forces of the UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia to be extended for a second year. The Serbs have dropped demands for outright autonomy, saying they will ask instead for a "special status" once the area reverts to Zagreb's control, Nasa Borba reported on 21 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS WARN CROATS NOT TO TRY TO PRESERVE HERCEG-BOSNA.
The EU has warned the Bosnian Croats that efforts to preserve their self-proclaimed state of Herceg-Bosna are a clear violation of the Dayton peace accord and run contrary to the goal of consolidating the Muslim-Croatian federation, AFP reported on 20 June. The Italian EU Presidency urged the Croatian government to pressure the Bosnian Croat leadership to cooperate in the peace process. Meanwhile, UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko, warning of growing "separatist tendencies" in Bosnia, said on 19 June that Bosnian Croats, in particular, are not cooperating with peace implementation officials because of their desire to maintain their para-state, Oslobodjenje reported. Ivanko also called on Zagreb to force Herceg-Bosna leaders to comply with the peace agreement. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN LEADERS ON BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
Vuk Draskovic, leader of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, has said his party will not take part in the upcoming elections in the Republika Srpska. Nasa Borba on 19 June quoted him as saying that "the preconditions for an open and democratic" vote are lacking. Meanwhile, in an interview with OMRI, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said his party will participate in the vote. He said that he believed that the elections would be "relatively fair" or would at least reflect the strength of the various parties involved. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade

MACEDONIA, EU AGREE TO COOPERATION ACCORD.
Macedonia and the EU on 20 June have reached agreement on a cooperation accord, which will go into effect on 1 January 1997, Nova Makedonija reported. Two days earlier, Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister Jane Miljovski had refused to sign the agreement because it referred to Macedonia as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Since no compromise between Macedonia, Greece, and the European Commission on the name issue was reached, only letters of intent confirming agreement had been reached were exchanged. The agreement itself was not initialed. Under the agreement, Macedonia will have easier access to EU markets and to European Investment Bank credits. -- Ismije Beshiri and Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS STAGE PROTESTS.
Thousands of workers and public sector employees on 20 June marched through downtown Bucharest to press for wage increases and protest the cabinet's economic and social policies, Radio Bucharest reported. The rally was staged by the National Labor Bloc (BNS), one of the country's largest trade union associations. At the government's headquarters, BNS leaders handed over a list of claims, including a 60% rise to keep pace with massive price hikes. A government official promised that the claims would be carefully examined, adding that a meeting with BNS representatives is expected to take place in the near future. -- Dan Ionescu

IMF WITHHOLDS LOAN TO ROMANIA.
The IMF has announced it will withhold a $70 million tranche of a stand-by credit to Romania until the country's foreign exchange market has stabilized, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 20 June. An IMF spokesman was quoted as saying that Bucharest will not be able to make further use of a $480 million credit until it removes restrictions on the foreign-currency holdings of Romanian banks. Romania's trade deficit in the first four months of this year totaled $335 million, and the value of the leu against foreign currencies has plunged over the past few days. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RENEWS CALL FOR DEFENSE MINISTER'S DISMISSAL.
Mircea Snegur on 20 June renewed his earlier demand that Gen. Pavel Creanga be dismissed as defense minister, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Addressing a closed-door parliamentary session, Snegur warned that if his demand were rejected, he would be forced to "assume direct control" over the national army. Creanga was dismissed by presidential decree on 15 March but later reinstated following a Constitutional Court ruling. -- Dan Ionescu

RECORD LOW WHEAT HARVEST EXPECTED IN BULGARIA.
Hristo Kurzhin of the Agricultural Academy has predicted that the 1996 wheat harvest will not exceed 2.2 tons per hectare, down from 4.5 tons in 1991, Bulgarian and international media reported on 20 June. This would be the lowest yield in 20 years and would result in an even more acute grain shortage than in recent months. Kurzhin said the government should consider importing wheat. The government allowed wheat exports last year--when world market prices were high--although grain was already in short supply. Later, it was forced to release emergency supplies and import grain from Romania, Serbia, and India. Two agriculture ministers have resigned this year over the grain crisis. -- Stefan Krause

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DEMANDS NEW ALBANIAN ELECTIONS...
The European Parliament on 20 June demanded that Albania annul the results of its disputed elections, AFP reported. The EU legislators voted to suspend cooperation with Albania until "a democracy worthy of the name" is instituted there. Meanwhile, OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti sent a personal envoy to Albania in the hope of restoring "a minimum of confidence" in the political system there. Cotti pointed out that the final OSCE report on the 26 May elections was "one of the most critical we have read." -- Fabian Schmidt

...WHILE COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAY SUSPEND ALBANIA.
Koha Jone on 20 June claimed that a majority of members of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly want Albania's membership suspended. Victor Ruffy, the council's rapporteur on Albania, is quoted as writing to Socialist Party deputy leader Namik Dokle that "Albania should be suspended from the Council of Europe until the re-holding of new and free elections," Reuters reported. Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen told President Sali Berisha that Albania "must realize if they want to be part of us, they must play by the rules, and the rules are democratic elections." Meanwhile, the Albanian Central Election Commission has accused some OSCE observers of collaborating with late dictator Enver Hoxha. Similar earlier allegations in the daily Albania have been dismissed by diplomats close to the OSCE as "completely unfounded." -- Fabian Schmidt

SIX ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIAL SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT.
Former communist chief ideologue Foto Cami, Defense Minister Prokop Murra, and Politburo member Muho Asllani have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Former communist party First-Secretary Gaqo Nesho, Tirana police chief Dilaver Bengasi, and secret police chief Zef Loka were jailed for 16, 18, and 20 years respectively. The court found them guilty of crimes against humanity, including deportations of up to 500 people, AFP reported on 20 June. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave









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