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Newsline - June 25, 1996


FINAL OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS.
The results printed in the OMRI Daily Digest on 21 June, taken from Reuters, were incorrect. Here are the correct final results published in Rossiiskaya gazeta on 22 June. The percentages are calculated based on the number of voters participating in the voting (75,587,139), the method used in the 1995 Duma elections.

Registered voters 108,495,023
Total valid ballots 74,515,019
Total invalid ballots 1,072,120
Turnout 69.8%

% of votes / # of votes
Boris Yeltsin 35.28 26,665,495
Gennadii Zyuganov 32.03 24,211,686
Aleksandr Lebed 14.52 10,974,736
Grigorii Yavlinskii 7.34 5,550,752
Vladimir Zhirinovsky 5.70 4,311,479
Svyatoslav Fedorov 0.92 699,158
Mikhail Gorbachev 0.51 386,069
Martin Shakkum 0.37 277,068
Yurii Vlasov 0.20 151,282
Vladimir Bryntsalov 0.16 123,065
Aman Tuleev 0.00 308
Against all candidates 1.54 1,163,921
-- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV PROPOSES COALITION GOVERNMENT.
Communist presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov said on 24 June that, in the event of his victory, he would create a coalition government that would include one-third from the present government, one-third from his "popular-patriotic bloc," and one-third from Duma factions not represented in the bloc, NTV reported. Zyuganov also proposed creating a new state institution to be called the Council of National Accord, which would form the government and determine key policies. The council would include Duma leaders, party leaders, government figures, and scholars, Russian Public TV reported. Zyuganov said that he had already talked to 12 unnamed ministers and 27 deputy ministers about the idea and that the council would include prominent members of the Communist bloc as well as key regional leaders, but not hard-liners like Workers' Russia head Viktor Anpilov. He did not explain how the council would interact with the government or other state institutions. -- Robert Orttung

REACTION TO ZYUGANOV PLAN.
Rossiiskaya gazeta on 25 June criticized Zyuganov's plan, arguing that it was not new since Yeltsin had proposed a similar idea in the Treaty on Social Accord in 1994 which the communists rejected. The paper also claimed that the communists were getting desperate if they sought to include in their coalition leaders who have made clear that they support Yeltsin. After meeting with Zyuganov, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said that he was not interested in participating in the government, NTV reported. Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov also rejected the idea, describing the inclusion of his name as a "provocation," Reuters reported. -- Robert Orttung

CAMPAIGN IN MEDIA TO RESUME ON 26 JUNE.
The Central Electoral Commission allocated the free air time President Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov will receive between 26 June and 1 July by random drawing, Russian media reported on 24 June. Each candidate will receive a total of two hours (10 minutes per day) on Russia's three state-run national networks: Russian Public Television (ORT), Russian TV (RTR), and St. Petersburg Channel 5. They will also receive free air time on two state-run radio stations. In contrast to the rules on campaign before the first round, the candidates do not have to use their time each day all at once, but may divide it into blocks of one or two minutes, ORT reported. The candidates will not receive free air time over the weekend of 29-30 June, but they may air paid political advertisements on those days. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

NO SHAKEUP YET AT SECURITY COUNCIL.
Deputy Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rubanov refuted reports that he had been sacked by his new boss Aleksandr Lebed, Russian media reported on 24 June. ITAR-TASS had reported that Rubanov resigned at Lebed's request, speculating that Lebed did not want to work with Rubanov, a protege of former Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov. Rubanov had earlier made critical comments about Lebed's approach to his new position. -- Scott Parrish

TIKHOMIROV SLAMS CHECHEN TALKS.
Speaking at a press conference in Grozny on 24 June, the commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, stated that attempts at constructive dialogue with the Chechen opposition were pointless, and that Chechen military units were still conducting operations in Grozny, Gudermes and Shali, Russian media reported. Tikhomirov said that, in spite of these violations of the 10 June ceasefire agreement, the 245th motorized infantry division would begin withdrawing from Chechnya on 28 June; ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June that this unit had already begun to withdraw. Sergei Slipchenko, spokesman for the Russian State Commission for a solution to the Chechen conflict, denied charges by the Chechen opposition that the Russian military were violating the ceasefire, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA CRITICIZES U.S. STANCE ON UN SECRETARY-GENERAL.
An anonymous official at the Russian Foreign Ministry blasted the United States for publicly declaring that it will oppose UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's bid for a second term, Russian and Western agencies reported on 22 June. The official termed the U.S. declaration "unprecedented," claiming that decisions about who would be chosen as the next Secretary-General were traditionally made in private by consensus among the five permanent members of the Security Council--the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, and China. Moscow had seemed likely to back Boutros-Ghali for a second term before the U.S. announcement. He visited Moscow in May to discuss the issue, and in what some viewed as a quid pro quo, praised both President Yeltsin and lauded the success of CIS peacekeeping missions. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, CHINA, MONGOLIA SIGN BORDER AGREEMENT.
Meeting in Beijing, Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian diplomats on 24 June signed a tripartite agreement defining the two points at which the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian borders intersect, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian delegation head Genrikh Kireev said the agreement was a significant step in legally defining the intersection of the three borders, reached after four years of negotiations. The intersection point of the three borders will also serve as a reference point in the ongoing process of demarcating the Russo-Chinese border, which runs along a 54 km stretch to the west of Mongolia and also extends some 4,300 km to the east of it. -- Scott Parrish

FINES INTRODUCED FOR INSULTING TATAR PRESIDENT.
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev issued a decree on 24 June imposing fines of up to 30 million rubles ($5,900) on those who insult him, ITAR-TASS reported. First offenders are liable to a fine equal to 20 times the minimum wage in the republic (about 4 million rubles), while recidivists and those who libel the president in the press could pay as much as 7 million rubles. Mass media that disseminate defamatory statements are liable to a fine of 30 million rubles, and all copies of the offending newspaper or magazine will be confiscated. Shaimiev, who became Tatar president in 1991, was reelected for a second term unopposed this March. -- Penny Morvant

VOTERS SHOW LITTLE INTEREST IN TOMSK MAYORAL ELECTIONS.
Less than 32% of registered voters took part in the first-ever mayoral elections in the Siberian city of Tomsk, Radio Rossii reported on 24 June. Of the four contenders, the current mayor Gennadii Konovalov won 38.5% of the vote and his main rival, Aleksandr Makarov, almost 47%. These two will face each other in a run-off. Radio Rossii said that many Tomsk residents had decided not to vote because of the dirty campaign tactics employed by the contenders. -- Penny Morvant

BILL PROPOSES HIGHER FINES FOR DRAFT-DODGING.
The Duma has adopted in the first reading a draft law envisaging tougher financial penalties for people who ignore a summons to the military registration and enlistment office, Russian television reported on 22 June. At present the fine is only one-tenth of the minimum wage, or about 8,000 rubles ($1.60). If the proposed amendments are incorporated into the Criminal Code, the fine will be raised to 500 times the minimum wage. Col.-Gen. Vyacheslav Zherebtsov, deputy head of the General Staff, said the number of offences linked to military registration in 1995 exceeded 400,000, a 50% increase over 1993. According to Duma Defense Committee member Eduard Vorobev, more than 30,000 people evaded the draft last year. -- Penny Morvant

HARD TIMES IN CHUKOTKA.
Aleksandr Nazarov, governor of Chukotka, reports that 60,000 of the region's 154,000 residents have left in the last three years. Chukotka lies across the Bering Straits from Alaska. Speaking on NTV on 21 June, Nazarov described much of the remaining population, which includes 15,000 pensioners, as "hostages of the north," because they have nowhere else to move to. Many wages have not been paid for three to 12 months, and food in shops and canteens is given out on credit "like under communism," Nazarov said. The main employer, the Anadyrsk coal mine, has seen output fall from 1 million tons to 300,000. -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT MUST CUT BACK ROLE IN ECONOMY.
At a press conference on 24 June, the head of the Institute of Economic Analysis, Andrei Illarionov, and the head of the Institute of the National Economic Model, Vitalii Naishul, said that budgetary problems will not be solved until the government reduces its spending. Illarionov and Naishul remarked that only Aleksandr Lebed's economic program discusses the need to reduce the government's role in the economy. In May 1996 the deficit of the consolidated budget (federal and regional combined) reached 11.8% of GDP. Since January 1996 state borrowing has increased by $20 billion, including a $16 billion increase of the internal debt. Yet at the G7 meeting in Lyon on 25 June, IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus told ITAR-TASS that the Russian government is on target to hold the budget deficit to 4% of GDP in 1996. -- Natalia Gurushina in Moscow

DUMA PROPOSAL TO MANAGE NATIONAL DEBT.
On 22 June Kommersant-Daily reported that the head of the Duma Committee for Financial Institutions and the Securities Market, Vladimir Tarlachev, has introduced new draft legislation for managing the national debt. Responsibility for debt management would be transferred from the Finance Ministry to the Central Bank, and there would be annual limits on the issuance of state securities in order to halt what Tarlachev regards as the government's "financial pyramid scheme." -- Peter Rutland

NUCLEAR WORKERS NEAR ST. PETERSBURG PROTEST.
A trade union leader at the Sosnovy Bor nuclear power plant near St. Petersburg went on hunger strike on 24 June to protest delays in the payment of workers' wages, Radio Rossii reported. Other plant operators are holding protest meetings at the end of their work shifts. The workers, who have not been paid since the middle of March, are owed about 50 billion rubles ($9.8 million). The plant's management blames nonpayments by consumers, but the trade union argues that the debts are due to managerial shortcomings. The Sosnovy bor plant has four upgraded RBMK reactors and is a principal souce of energy for the area. -- Penny Morvant



GEORGIAN DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
Georgian human rights activists staged a demonstration outside the EU mission in Tbilisi on 24 June to protest human rights violations by the Georgian government, specifically the death sentence passed last week on Badri Zarandia, who in 1992-1993 was military commander of the pro-Gamsakhurdia stronghold of Zugdid in western Georgia, Radio Rossii reported. Zarandia has been subjected to torture while in detention and subsequently had one leg amputated. -- Liz Fuller

UNEMPLOYMENT IN KAZAKHSTAN.
A survey by Almaty's independent Giller Institute has disputed the claim of the Employment Section in Kazakhstan's Ministry of Labor that unemployment in the country is 3.6%, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 June. The Giller Institute survey, conducted in eight major oblasts, shows that 28.8% of the 1,513 respondents admitted to having no fixed jobs in the course of several months. Sociologist Leonid Guryevich, the director of the Giller Institute, told ITAR-TASS that the unemployed in Kazakhstan number about 1 million, and not 236,000 as claimed by the Ministry of Labor. The survey noted that about 29% among the unemployed survive by selling crops grown in dachas, over 27% are engaged in re-selling foodstuffs and other goods, another 27% have irregular income and the remaining 13% survive with help from relatives and friends. -- Bhavna Dave

NIYAZOV: CORRUPTION WIDESPREAD IN MILITARY.
Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov criticized "widespread" corruption among the republic's military and law enforcement officials, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 June. According to the report, monitored by the BBC, Niyazov signed a decree which would strip negligent and corrupt personnel of their positions. When speaking to an enlarged session of the Defense and National Security Council one day earlier, he cited links between officials and the criminal world and demanded urgent measures to strengthen discipline. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEKISTAN STRIKES DEALS WITH U.S. COMPANIES.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov on 24 June attended a ceremony hosted by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and witnessed the signing of a protocol which will give his country $400 million, ITAR-TASS reported. The state-owned oil and gas company Uzbekneftegas signed agreements with Texaco to manufacture and sell lubricants in Central Asia, and also established a joint venture with the American Enron company to develop natural gas deposits. -- Bruce Pannier

CRANS-MONTANA CONFERENCE FRUITFUL FOR KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN.
The presidents of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev and Askar Akayev, attended the international conference at Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and received the 1996 prize of the Crans-Montana foundation, RFE/RL reported on 24 June. The conference is an opportunity to court investment from companies around the world and the Central Asian presidents, along with their advisors, received positive signs from companies mainly dealing in oil and mineral wealth. Private meetings were held with potential investors from Singapore, Japan, and Iran as well as Europe. -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINE TO SHUT DOWN AGING CHORNOBYL REACTOR.
The management of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant announced plans on 24 June to shut down the station's oldest reactor, No. 1, on 30 November, Western agencies reported. Plant officials said they will dismantle the reactor over the next five or six years. That will leave only one reactor, No. 3, in operation, as the No. 4 reactor was destroyed in the April 1986 explosion and No. 2 was closed down after a 1991 fire. A plant spokesman said the shutdown was part of Kyiv's promise to phase out the entire station by 2000 in exchange for $2.3 billion in Western aid. Ukrainian officials complained the previous week that the U.S. and other G-7 governments have yet to provide any of the promised funds to close Chornobyl and build new reactors elsewhere to replace the lost energy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES IN CRISIS.
Only 4% of officers feel the Ukrainian army can perform its main duties, while 57% are convinced it is unable to defend the state, Zerkadlo nedeli reported in its 15-21 June issue. An opinion poll of 1,003 officers found that 74% felt there had been no real reform of the army, only an "uncontrolled" reduction, and 70% said the uncontrolled sale of military equipment was one of the army's most serious problems. The most common preference in security policy among the officers was maintaining Ukraine's non-aligned status (41%). About 12% favored a NATO orientation, while 8% leaned toward the Tashkent Collective Security Pact, and 37% said they were not opposed to setting up a Russian-Ukrainian-Belarusian security bloc. Only a quarter were satisfied with their service, and a third said they would not choose to be officers again. -- Ustina Markus

PSYCHIATRIC EXAMINATION OF FORMER BELARUSIAN SPEAKER REQUESTED.
Uladzimir Zamyatalin, deputy head of the Presidential Administration in charge of ideology and information, asked parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky to launch a psychiatric examination into the mental health of deputy Stanislau Shushkevich, Ekho Moskvy reported on 24 June. Zamyatalin called Shushkevich a "putschist" who during his tenure as parliamentary speaker signed the Belavezha agreement causing the breakup of the Soviet Union, and accused him of publicly criticizing the president. According to Zamyatalin, it is well known to all normal people in the former USSR that only abnormal people would publicly criticize the regime. In other news, Radio Rossii reported that Russia will allocate 8 billion rubles ($1.6 million) for cleaning up the aftermath of the Chornobyl accident. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC PRESIDENTS MEET DOLE.
Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) met in New York on 24 June with probable Republican Party presidential candidate Bob Dole, Reuters reported. Dole assured them that "Baltic security is on the agenda of Washington as we discuss the enlargement of NATO and build our relationship with Russia." The presidents were to have a meeting in Washington with President Bill Clinton the next day, before returning to New York to receive awards for "New European Statesmanship" from the Institute of East-West Studies. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH INVESTOR GIVES UP AUSCHWITZ SUPERMARKET PLAN.
A Polish investor whose plan to open a supermarket near the former Auschwitz death camp aroused fierce criticism in Poland and abroad agreed on 21 June to abandon the idea, but said he would seek compensation for lost profits, Reuters reported. The governor of the southern Polish province of Bielsko-Biala instead gave the investor the green light to build a tourist and pilgrimage center for visitors to the Auschwitz museum. The center would include a parking lot, a bookstore, a post office, and a bank. Earlier plans called for a supermarket and a fast-food outlet in existing buildings opposite the museum gates. After critics--including the World Jewish Congress--were backed by President Aleksander Kwasniewski, local authorities ordered a halt to construction. According to Reuters, the revised plan is unlikely to satisfy opponents of the original one. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

CZECH COALITION CLOSE TO AGREEMENT.
In their ninth round of talks, the three parties in the former ruling coalition were trying to reach agreement on the composition of the new minority government before the new parliament convened at 2 p.m. CET on 25 June, CTK and Western media reported. Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party reportedly offered on 24 June to take only half the 16 cabinet positions--and not a majority, as it had earlier insisted--but the coalition partners were still discussing the allocation of ministries among their parties. The opposition Social Democratic Party will probably accept a continuation of the ruling coalition in return for certain parliamentary positions, under an earlier deal brokered by President Vaclav Havel. Deputies agreed on 24 June that the Social Democrats could take the position of parliamentary chairman. -- Peter Rutland

SLOVAK PARTIES DISCUSS CONDITIONS FOR SUPPORTING MINORITY GOVERNMENT...
The coalition Slovak National Party (SNS) and opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) met on 24 June to discuss conditions for supporting a minority cabinet in case of a coalition breakup, TASR reported. SDL vice-chair Peter Magvasi said both parties would stress proportional representation in parliament, air time on state radio and television for the opposition, and restructuring the National Property Fund, the state privatization agency currently controlled by premier Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). The same day, a spokeswoman for Meciar denied that he tried to bribe SNS honorary chairman Vitazoslav Moric with a position at the Transportation Ministry, TASR reported. SNS leader Jan Slota alleged in a recent interview with APA that Meciar is trying to buy off deputies in case the SNS leaves the coalition. -- Alaina Lemon

...WHILE RULING PARTY MEETS WITH KEY OPPONENT.
Representatives of the HZDS and the opposition Democratic Union (DU) also met on 24 June, TASR reported. The parties agreed on procedures for entering the EU and NATO and that early elections should not take place. The DU laid down its conditions for further talks, emphasizing long-term goals including the development of democratic and legal institutions, minimal state interference in the market, pro-European policies, and "an end to social plundering in Slovakia." The DU, formed by HZDS members who broke from Meciar after 1992, played a key role in bringing down Meciar's second government and since then has been among the HZDS's most bitter enemies. -- Alaina Lemon



BIGGEST MASS GRAVE TO DATE UNCOVERED NEAR SARAJEVO ...
Bosnian forensic and judicial experts and a U.S. forensic anthropologist from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal have uncovered the bodies of 47 Muslim men in the hamlet of Ravne. The men came from the village of Ahatovici and were killed by Serbs on 14 June 1992, AFP reported on 24 June. The story came to light because eight Muslims escaped from the bus in which they and the victims were held as the Serbs raked it with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, Reuters added. The Serbs left the bodies in the bus, but Muslims from Ravne buried the victims a few days later. -- Patrick Moore

... WHILE EXHUMATION SET TO BEGIN IN SREBRENICA AREA.
The UN Office for Human Rights in Sarajevo agreed that a Finnish expert team will begin on 25 June to exhume the remains of bodies in the area of Srebrenica, Oslobodjenje reported on 24 June. The Finns will work in the region of Kravice, where several thousand men are believed to have been killed when the former enclave was overrun by Serbs in July 1995. The team will also examine and attempt to identify the remains so that they may be given proper burials by their kin or by the Bosnian-Herzegovinian government, UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said. The team will act within the mandate of UN Special Reporter on Human Rights, Elizabeth Rehn and UN expert on missing persons Manfred Novak, AFP reported. The project, sponsored by the Finnish and Dutch governments, is to be completed in four weeks. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BIGGEST WAVE OF EVICTIONS IN BANJA LUKA SINCE DAYTON.
Kris Janowski, UNHCR spokesman in Sarajevo, said at least 30 Muslims were evicted from their homes in Serb-controlled Banja Luka over the weekend of 22-23 June in the biggest wave of "ethnic cleansing" since the Dayton peace accord was signed, Oslobodjenje reported on 25 June. Janowski said the UNHCR has no evidence that the Serb police are behind the evictions "but they obviously cannot control it." Meanwhile, the head of the NATO-led Implementation Force in Bosnia, U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith, warned Serb Parliament Speaker Momcilo Krajisnik at a meeting in Pale that he was not satisfied with the Serbs' treatment of Bosnian Muslims, AFP reported on 24 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic

KARADZIC `AHEAD OF THEM ALL?'
According to recent polling data garnered from ten towns in the Republika Srpska by Ekstra Magazin, Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party remains "ahead of them all" in voter preference, Nasa Borba reported on 25 June. A plurality of 40.5% of decided voters would reportedly cast their ballots for the SDS in upcoming elections, while only 17.5% would back the Milosevic-sponsored Socialists. In third place, gaining the support of 11% of those polled, is the Serbian Radical Party of accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj. Some 30.5% of those polled, presumably the plurality, dubbed Karadzic "the personage of confidence," while only 14% said they had confidence in Milosevic. -- Stan Markotich

BILDT MEETS SERBIAN PRESIDENT.
The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt met on 24 June with Slobodan Milosevic in what local Belgrade media described as "unscheduled talks." Reuters, citing Beta, noted that the discussions dovetailed with other talks between Milosevic, senior rump Yugoslav, and Bosnian Serb officials, including Bosnian Serb vice-presidents Biljana Plavsic and Nikola Koljevic. According to Reuters, the talks took place amid "weekend reports that the forced removal of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was imminent." Bildt emerged from the meetings observing that Karadzic's unwillingness to declare his refusal to run in upcoming Bosnian elections is "dangerous for the future of Republika Srpska." -- Stan Markotich

SLOVENIA, CROATIA MARK FIVE YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE.
On 25 June 1991 legislatures in Ljubljana and Zagreb voted for independence from Yugoslavia, regional and international media recall. The dissolution of Josip Broz Tito's state began in 1987 with the rise to power in Serbia of Slobodan Milosevic on a platform of militant nationalism. After he subsequently failed to take control of the Yugoslav federation, he hamstrung its normal operations and blocked all attempts at constitutional reform. First Slovenia and Croatia, and then Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, were left with no choice but to declare independence or find themselves part of a greater Serbia. Belgrade's armed forces first fought a short and unsuccessful war against Slovenia. Subsequent conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia lasted much longer because Belgrade had armed and organized the Serbian minorities in those two republics. -- Patrick Moore

MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT IN STRASBOURG.
Kiro Gligorov, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 24 June, said Macedonia will not give up its name because this would amount to the "capitulation of our nation," Nova Makedonija and RFE/RL reported. But he repeated that Macedonia is willing to make a compromise with Greece that does "not mean the loss of our national identity." Gligorov said his government remains committed to democracy, adding that peace and security in the Balkans can be promoted only if all sides accept that the former Yugoslavia disintegrated and that the forceful creation of a new state entity in the region is impossible. Gligorov said Bosnian Serb civilian leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic must stand trial if the people of the former Yugoslavia are to be reconciled. He also urged the council not to delay admitting Croatia as a member. -- Stefan Krause

MACEDONIAN RULING PARTY WANTS STATE MEDIA HEAD DISMISSED.
The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) wants the dismissal of Macedonian Radio and Television (MRT) Director Melpomeni Korneti, Nova Makedonija reported on 25 June. The party blamed Korneti for failing to present a report on MRT's activities in 1995. The matter was discussed in the parliamentary electoral committee and within the parliamentary factions, but no decision was taken. Observers see Korneti as the victim of a struggle between the SDSM and the Liberal Party (LP), of which she is a member. The LP was part of the ruling coalition until February. LP Chairman Stojan Andov, in a 21 May interview with Flaka, accused the government of trying to remove all people associated with the opposition from positions in the state apparatus. -- Stefan Krause

TENSION OVER MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER POST ESCALATES.
Defense Minister Gen. Pavel Creanga told a staff meeting that he would call a company to arms to protect his department if President Mircea Snegur tried to oust him, BASA-press reported on 24 June. Creanga claimed that Snegur was contemplating "anti-constitutional steps" to force him out of his job, and quoted a presidential decree issued last week that further curtails his powers. The president warned the parliament on 20 June that, if Creanga is not replaced, he could be forced to "assume direct control" over the armed forces (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 June 1996)--a prospect Creanga described as "alarming." Creanga was dismissed by Snegur on 15 March for allegedly encouraging corruption, but was later reinstated following a Constitutional Court ruling. -- Dan Ionescu

UPDATE ON BULGARIAN GRAIN SHORTAGE.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 24 June admitted that 1.5 million tons of wheat might have to be imported this year to compensate for an expected record low yield, Western media reported. Deputy Agriculture Minister Rumen Popov said that this year's wheat crop is expected to be only about 2.5 million tons, compared to 3.2 million tons in 1995 and around 5 million tons annually in the 1980s. Meanwhile, President Zhelyu Zhelev's agricultural advisor, Rumen Hristov, said the price of bread and other foodstuffs might more than triple by the end of the year, Trud reported. He said $100 million will be needed for wheat imports, and another $170 million for the import of corn. Rationing of bread is continuing in a number of villages and towns. -- Stefan Krause

SCANDAL OVER BULGARIAN AMBASSADOR TO TIRANA.
Stefan Naumov reportedly terrorized employees at Bulgaria's Tirana embassy and threatened them with death, 24 chasa reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Panteley Karasimeonov on 24 June said the ministry received a letter from Tirana embassy staff charging that Naumov threatened his subordinates at an 18 June official dinner that "their bones will be scattered all over the place and that no one will cross the borders of Mother Albania alive." Karasimeonov said proceedings against Naumov are under way. Foreign Ministry, intelligence, and presidential officials will go to Tirana to investigate the charges. The Foreign Ministry asked Zhelev to recall Naumov, who has been in Tirana since 1990. Meanwhile, Naumov told Kontinent that the accusations are unfounded and that some people want him removed for political reasons. Naumov claimed that he himself was threatened by his driver in 1994. -- Stefan Krause

OSCE SUPPORTS NEW ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA.
In a 24 June meeting with representatives of eight Albanian political parties, the Albanian Central Electoral Commission, and the Council of Europe, the OSCE delegation suggested the government hold new elections. It advised the Albanian parties to "consider whether new elections, after a reasonable but limited period of time, under improved conditions and in the presence of international observers, would serve the interests of Albania," AFP reported. The OSCE delegation added that "although the lawfulness of the newly elected Albanian Parliament cannot be questioned, the electoral process included several aspects and incidents which severely question the credibility of the democratic process." Opposition representatives demanded new elections and argued that the election results posed an institutional threat to Albania. After the meeting, OSCE Deputy Secretary-General Penti Vaananen said new elections were unlikely because the ruling Democrats object, Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

SENIOR LEADER OF BALLI KOMBETAR RESIGNS OVER ELECTION FRAUD.
Abaz Ermenji, World War II-era leader of the Albanian National Front and post-communist leader of its political successor party, has resigned in protest over Balli Kombetar's participation in the new parliament despite allegations of widespread election fraud. Dita Informacion on 23 June published a declaration by Ermenji to the party's national council in which he charged the rest of the party leadership with ignoring his objections and justifying what he called a "coup d'etat against free elections." Ermenji noted that he and party deputy leader Hysen Selfo issued a declaration to the Central Electoral Commission on the day of the 26 May elections calling them fraudulent and demanding a new ballot. However, the party daily Balli i Kombit later called the elections a victory over communism. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle and Tom Warner


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