YELTSIN APPEALS TO ZYUGANOV VOTERS.
Yeltsin on 27
June appealed to voters who backed his communist rival in the first round "not
to vote against a new life, even if you are unaccustomed to it today,"
ITAR-TASS reported. The president warned against dividing the country between
red and white and said that he was ready for dialogue and cooperation "with all
whose main priority is the fate of Russia." He was very critical of the
communist past, warning pro-Gennadii Zyuganov voters that they might remember
cheap bread, but have probably forgotten rationing coupons and shortages. The
unusual appeal reflects Yeltsin's two-pronged campaign tactics: denouncing the
communist past, while incorporating many of the communists' points into his own
program. -- Robert Orttung
COMMUNISTS ACCUSE YELTSIN OF ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN PRACTICES . . .
presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov asserted in a letter to the
parliament, the Central Electoral Commission, and the media that President
Boris Yeltsin was buying votes with money that should be used to pay wage and
pension arrears and that he had pressured local leaders into working for his
campaign. The letter was published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 27 June.
Zyuganov claimed that regional leaders had been told they would be fired if
Yeltsin lost in their territory. He also said that Yeltsin was using "tens of
trillions of rubles" from the state budget for campaign purposes. Zyuganov
argued that such practices would call into question the results of the voting
and urged immediate measures that would insure equal conditions for the
candidates. -- Robert Orttung
. . . AND BLAST MASS MEDIA.
Zyuganov charged that radio and television
broadcasters are "stirring up social tensions and civil conflict," NTV
reported. He laid primary responsibility on the Chairman of Russian Television
Eduard Sagalaev, General Director of Russian Public TV Sergei Blagovolin, and
the president of NTV Igor Malashenko. Zyuganov claimed that if the media
continues its current policies, there will be a civil war. -- Robert Orttung
ILYUKHIN CLAIMS WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION.
Duma Security Committee Chairman
Viktor Ilyukhin charged that the law enforcement agencies have considerable
evidence that high government officials are engaged in corruption,
bribe-taking, and squandering money allocated by the Central Electoral
Commission, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 27 June. However, when former
Federal Security Service head Mikhail Barsukov and former head of the
presidential security service Aleksandr Korzhakov tried to stop Yeltsin's aides
from taking $500,000 from the White House, they were fired, calling into
question Yeltsin's commitment to fighting crime, Ilyukhin charged. He explained
the recent firings in the Kremlin as the result of the ongoing battle between
three groups: the former heads of the power ministries, representatives of the
energy complex, and representatives from financial circles, Russian Public TV
reported. Ilyukhin has had a long career in the procuracy. -- Robert Orttung
PRAVDA: ALTAI VOTERS UPSET AT YELTSIN-LEBED ALLIANCE.
pro-communist newspaper Pravda reported on 26 June that Lebed supporters
in Altai Krai are "indignant" about the retired general's recent alliance with
Yeltsin. The paper quoted Aleksei Shevdov, Lebed's agent in the krai, as saying
that Yeltsin is unacceptable to the majority of Lebed's electorate and that
most will vote for Zyuganov in the run-off. He proposed that Yeltsin withdraw
his candidacy in the second round in favor of Lebed, arguing that the general
would retain the votes of those who opted for him in the first round and gain
part of Zyuganov's electorate and all of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's voters.
According to preliminary figures released by the Central Electoral Commission
on 17 June, Zyuganov won 42% of the vote in Altai Krai, Yeltsin 22%, and Lebed
19%. -- Penny Morvant
CONTROVERSY OVER RESULTS IN TATARSTAN CONTINUES.
intend to contest the results of the first round voting in Tatarstan in the
Supreme Court, Ekho Moskvy reported on 26 June. Communist deputy Aleksandr
Salii contended that vote-rigging in the Tatar capital Kazan added 60,000 votes
to Yeltsin's total. Salii earlier noted a large discrepancy between the results
of the voting in the capital and rural areas of the republic (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 19 June 1996). Vitalii Khavkin, a lawyer for the Central Electoral
Commission, refuted the charges, accusing the communists of bias. -- Penny
YELTSIN MEETS REGIONAL LEADERS.
Yeltsin met with regional leaders from
the Federation Council on 26 June after that body rejected the Duma land code
for its anti-market character, NTV reported. Yeltsin stressed that the regional
leaders must work to ensure a high turnout for the 3 July voting, according to
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel. Yeltsin said that there would be further
personnel changes in his government but that they would not be announced until
after the elections. Yeltsin also announced that former Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin would lead his new Political Consultative Council. First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Lobov added some teeth to Yeltsin's remarks, announcing that
turnout would be a measure of the authority of Russia's regional leaders,
ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung
LEGAL STATUS OF SECURITY COUNCIL UNCLEAR.
The legal status of the
Security Council remains ill-defined, and it is not clear that Aleksandr Lebed
had the authority to carry out some of his actions, ITAR-TASS suggested in a
commentary on 26 June. Under Article 83 of the Russian Constitution the role of
the council should be defined by a federal law, but no such law has yet been
adopted. In the interim the council functions on the basis of presidential
decrees, which state that it has a consultative role. The day of Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev's removal, Lebed issued a number of instructions to
military commanders, telling them to stay at their posts and not send telegrams
of condolence. -- Peter Rutland
ECONOMIC SECURITY A TOP PRIORITY FOR LEBED.
A document prepared by the
Security Council, "A new approach to national security issues," was leaked to
the press: extracts were published in Kommersant Daily on 26 June.
Initial press reports attributed the report to Aleksander Lebed, but the latter
told ITAR-TASS on 27 June that most of the document had been prepared before
his appointment as Secretary of the Security Council. The report proposes
extending the Council's remit to include economic issues, such as privatization
auctions and the dumping of minerals abroad at low prices. It calls for strict
control over export earnings, and is concerned at the size of Russia's foreign
debts. It proposes a tax amnesty for Russian capital that has moved abroad. It
calls upon the intelligence services to play an active role in monitoring
foreign banks and firms, and says that it will stop the selling of weapons to
"potential adversaries." -- Peter Rutland
MIKHAILOV, STEPASHIN IN GROZNY.
Russian Nationalities Minister
Vyacheslav Mikhailov and the secretary of the Russian State Commission for
Regulating the Chechen Conflict, Sergei Stepashin, flew to Grozny on 26 June
and traveled with pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev to Vedeno raion
(which is controlled by Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev) to discuss with
village elders the holding of further peace talks, NTV reported. According to
ORT, Mikhailov told journalists he plans to clarify why the peace agreements
signed in Moscow on 27 May and in Nazran on 10 June are being violated by both
the Russian and Chechen sides, and to investigate "contradictions" between the
members of the two working groups set up to implement the peace agreements and
between the Russian federal troops and the OSCE mission in Grozny, which the
commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav
Tikhomirov, has accused of bias towards the Chechen separatists. -- Liz
VICTORY FOR CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS.
The Moscow Oblast court on 25 June
upheld a not guilty verdict in the case of a pacifist who refused to perform
military service on the grounds that he had a constitutional right to opt for
alternative service, Ekho Moskvy and Ekspress-khronikha reported. Vadim
Gesse spent 40 days in jail after his request for alternative service was
turned down, and he was arrested for failing to report for the draft. The
Noginsk city court ruled in his favor in May, but the decision was appealed by
the prosecutor. The case may now go to the Constitutional Court. The right to
alternative service is enshrined in the Constitution, but it is strongly
opposed by the military and there are no procedures for refusing conscription.
-- Penny Morvant
MORE SBERBANK SAVERS TO BE COMPENSATED THIS YEAR.
between 1917 and 1921 whose deposits in the state savings bank (Sberbank) were
devalued as a result of economic reform will receive compensation this year,
presidential economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits told ITAR-TASS on 26 June.
Compensation for pensioners born in 1916 or earlier began to be paid on 10 June
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 June 1996). Livshits did not say how much the
pensioners will receive; those eligible for payments in the first wave received
up to 1 million rubles. Livshits said that about 40% of account holders in
bankrupt private financial companies were pensioners. He added that a
presidential decree is being prepared on compensation for those who lost their
money in pyramid schemes. -- Penny Morvant
FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS LAND CODE.
The parliament's upper house on 26
June rejected a communist-backed draft land code that restricts land ownership
and the sale of land, Russian and Western agencies reported. The draft code was
approved by the Duma on 22 May (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 May 1996),
which Yeltsin said he would veto. Yeltsin issued a decree in March allowing the
partial sale of farmland, but the communists and Agrarians have opposed all
such moves, arguing that they would deprive the agricultural sector of the best
land. The code will now go to a conciliation commission. -- Penny Morvant
EMPLOYMENT MINISTER READY TO STEP DOWN.
Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan
said on 26 June that changes are needed in the government team handling social
issues and that he is ready to step down if need be, ITAR-TASS reported.
Yeltsin has said that more changes in the government are in the offing but will
not be announced until after the second round of the election. Melikyan
reported that 6.5 million people are now unemployed in Russia (8.9%), about 2.7
million of whom are registered with the Federal Employment Service. On the
subject of wage arrears, Melikyan said the total debt is now 29.8 trillion
rubles ($5.8 billion). The state debt is 5 trillion, 4.6 trillion of which is
owed from regional budgets. -- Penny Morvant
VERDICTS HANDED DOWN IN PARAVAKAR CASE.
An Armenian court on 24 June
handed down verdicts of between 2 and 3 years' imprisonment on four men charged
with an attack on presidential candidate Paruir Hairikyan in the village of
Paravakar during the runup to the 1991 presidential elections, Noyan Tapan
reported on 26 June. On that occasion, Hairikyan's car was damaged and he was
threatened at gunpoint by men who demanded that he withdraw his candidacy, some
of whom he identified as members of the personal staff of then parliament
chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan, the eventual presidential election winner.
Hairikyan has been nominated by the Union for National Self-Determination to
stand as a candidate in this September's presidential elections but is
undecided whether to accept the nomination; he argued on 26 June that the
results are predetermined, and that Ter-Petrossyan will be reelected. -- Liz
PROTESTS OVER ALMATY AIRPORT DEAL WITH LUFTHANSA.
government's decision of 28 May to transfer the administration of Almaty
airport to Lufthansa has led to protests from airport workers and trade unions,
ITAR-TASS reported on 26 June. The Professional Union of Aviation Workers claim
that Lufthansa incurred losses of $132 million so far this year and is unable
to compete with other international airlines. Kazakhstani authorities say that
the renovation of landing fields at the airport alone will cost $12 million;
Lufthansa has offered to invest about $17-18 million in the next 5 years. --
KAZAKHSTAN REPORTS HUGE OFFSHORE OIL RESERVES.
As a result of seismic
explorations of the Caspian Sea continental shelf conducted by the Caspian Sea
Consortium, Kazakhstani authorities estimate crude oil reserves of 10 billion
metric tons and 2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, Reuters reported on 26
June. If confirmed, these offshore oil reserves would be10 times bigger than
those of its onshore Tengiz oilfield and exceed Russia's entire oil reserves of
6.7 billion tons, Reuters added, citing British Petroleum's (BP) Statistical
Review. However, Caspian Sea Consortium members, such as British Gas, BP, Agip,
Mobil, Shell and others say that as no drilling has taken place yet, the
estimated oil deposits are unlikely to exceed 4 billion tons. -- Bhavna Dave
UZBEK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY.
Karimov paid his first visit to the Pentagon on 26 June, meeting with U.S.
Secretary of Defense William Perry. A Pentagon press release said that the two
discussed security issues in Central Asia and "the strong cooperative
relationship between the United States and the Republic of Uzbekistan." Karimov
said Uzbekistan was eager to strengthen its involvement in NATO's Partnership
for Peace program, RFE/RL reported. -- Doug Clarke
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DECREES REFERENDUM ON DRAFT CONSTITUTION.
apparent effort to end months of wrangling among lawmakers, Leonid Kuchma
signed a decree on 25 June calling for a 25 September national referendum on a
draft Ukrainian constitution, Reuters and NTV reported on 26 June. The
president's chief of staff, Dmytro Tabachnyk, said Kuchma went ahead with the
decision after winning the support of the country's National Security Council.
He said delays in adopting the new constitution by the divided parliament posed
a threat to national security and stability. The decree will put to a
nationwide vote the draft approved in March by the Constitutional Commission,
without any of the changes adopted by deputies over the past two months. That
version gives the president stronger powers, provides for a bicameral
legislature, and limits Crimean autonomy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
POLITICAL FIGURES REACT TO KUCHMA'S DECREE.
Oleksander Moroz called the decision to hold a referendum on the draft
constitution socially divisive, while leftist forces vowed to campaign for a
"no" vote. Although some national democrats, such as Rukh leader Vyacheslav
Chornovil, hailed the move, others said it would split the country and deepen
the economic crisis. They also claimed the choice of the unamended draft
undermined Kuchma's supporters in parliament and would turn the poll into a
vote of confidence in the president. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
KUCHMA ON SECURITY.
Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw (see
the Ukrainian president once again warned against creating a new
border between East and West in Europe, international agencies reported on 26
June. Kuchma reiterated Ukraine's interest in integrating with Western
political and economic structures and said that Kyiv is seeking associate
membership in the EU and Western European Union, the EU's defense arm. He also
touted his previous proposal to make Central Europe a nuclear-arms-free zone.
-- Ustina Markus
DEFENSE FACTORY STRIKE IN BELARUS.
The largest strike in Belarus so far
this year took place at a defense factory in Minsk, NTV reported on 26 June.
Some 5,000 workers rallied, demanding wages that had not been paid since April.
The factory formerly employed 12,000 workers and produced precision instruments
for missiles and submarines. Now it works only four days a week, producing
mixers and other appliances, and employs only 5,000. Unsold goods worth 30
billion Belarusian rubles ($1.9 million) lie about the premises. Workers say
the only section of the plant that still functions normally is that producing
medals, such as the medal of "Mother Heroine" (for women who have multiple
children), or the "Medal for Valiant Labor." The spontaneous strike is the
first since last August, when organizers of a transport-worker strike were
arrested and picketers forcibly broken up by security forces. -- Ustina
ALTERNATIVES TO LITHUANIAN POLITICAL PARTIES.
The founding congress of a
new public organization, Lietuvos Samburis (Gathering of Lithuania), was held
in Vilnius on 22 June, Radio Lithuania reported. The congress elected a
27-member council including independent Seimas deputies Kazimieras Antanavicius
and Antanas Baskas. The main address at the congress was given by Valdas
Adamkus, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official whom polls indicate is
among the leading presidential candidates in Lithuania. Seimas deputy Julius
Veselka announced on 25 June that another new group, Rinkimai `96 (Elections
`96), will hold its founding congress on 6 July. Both groups present themselves
as alternatives to the leftist ruling party and the conservative opposition.
While not planning to compete in party-list voting, both groups intend to run
candidates for the 71 single-mandate seats in this fall's parliamentary
elections. -- Saulius Girnius
SOLIDARITY CONGRESS MEETS IN POZNAN.
Some 400 delegates started a
three-day discussion of Solidarity's strategy and political alliances for the
1997 parliamentary elections at the trade union's eighth national congress in
Poznan on 26 June. A recent Public Opinion Research Center poll showed
Solidarity with 14% of voters' support, while the co-ruling Democratic Left
Alliance has 18%, former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski's new party Movement for
Poland's Reconstruction (ROP) has 16%, the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party 14%,
the Freedom Union 11%, and the Labor Union 4%. Former President Lech Walesa,
also the former Solidarity chairman, is attending the congress, but no other
politicians were invited. The ROP signed an agreement on 26 June on
collaboration with Rural Solidarity and has asked the Solidarity trade union to
join on. -- Jakub Karpinski
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN THE POLISH PARLIAMENT.
Quoting Polish interwar
leader Jozef Pilsudski, Leonid Kuchma told the Polish parliament on 26 June
that there is no independent Poland without an independent Ukraine, Polish
dailies reported. Wrapping up a two-day visit in Warsaw, Kuchma did not rule
out expansion of NATO to former East Bloc countries but said the security of
all countries had to be considered. Kuchma asked Warsaw for its support in
admitting Ukraine into the Central European Free Trade Agreement, and proposed
Kyiv be admitted to the Weimar Triangle, a special understanding between
Poland, Germany, and France. His Polish hosts proposed granting Ukraine $25
million in credits to stimulate its economy. On 25 June, Kuchma and Polish
President Aleksander Kwasniewski signed a joint declaration on forming a
"strategic partnership" and signed accords on visa-free traffic and the return
of cultural treasures "lost and illegally moved during World War II." -- Jakub
CZECH RULING COALITION AGREED ON.
The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of
Vaclav Klaus, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) of Jan Kalvoda, and the
Christian Democratic Union (KDU) of Josef Lux on 26 June reached an agreement
on the division of posts in a new minority government and the text of their
coalition agreement, Czech media reported. The future government, led by Klaus,
will have 16 members; the ODS will hold 8 portfolios, including the finance,
foreign affairs, and internal affairs ministries. The KDU will get, among
others, defense and regional development ministries, while the ODA will be
responsible for justice, trade and industry. The coalition agreement is to be
officially signed on 27 June. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK POLICE CONFISCATE PASSPORT OF PRESIDENT'S SON.
seized Michal Kovac Jr.'s passport as he attempted to travel to Munich via
Austria on 26 June, Slovak media reported. Kovac Jr. intended to testify in
Germany concerning the $2.3 million fraud case involving the Slovak trade firm
Technopol. His passport was confiscated on the orders of an investigator at the
Bratislava City Office of Investigation. Although fraud charges were brought
against Kovac Jr. in Slovakia in December, Sme reported on 20 June that
his passport was not blocked until 6 June, after he announced his intention to
travel to Germany. Kovac Jr.'s lawyer, Jan Havlat, had the German arrest
warrant suspended until 20 July so that his client can go to Germany; however,
it now seems unlikely that Kovac Jr. will be able to travel by that date. Kovac
Jr. said the police action shows that the authorities do not want the case
resolved. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY'S INTEGRATION COMMITTEE ANGRY OVER EU QUESTIONNAIRE SECRECY.
Members of the Hungarian parliament's European Integration Committee are
complaining about secrecy surrounding the government's responses to the EU's
questionnaire on potential membership, Hungarian dailies reported on 27 June.
Foreign Ministry State Secretary Ferenc Somogyi--who has been coordinating the
work in the respective ministries--said on 26 June that parliamentary deputies
will only be able to see the finalized version of the EU questionnaire
responses and that Integration Committee members would be given only a verbal
briefing by the prime minister. The forms are due to Brussels by 26 July. The
various bodies involved in coordinating Hungary's EU integration have been
battling over turf for the past year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
SOROS: HUNGARIAN INTERNET CENTER PROMOTES OPEN SOCIETY.
A new Internet
and computer-arts center set up by his foundation in Hungary will promote the
free flow of ideas and information in post-communist Eastern Europe,
Hungarian-born U.S. financier George Soros said on 26 June. The center will
"facilitate a horizontal, non-hierarchical network of communication which fits
in with our concept of an open society," Soros told Reuters at the opening of
the Center for Culture & Communications. The equipment, including advanced
computer-imaging equipment and 14 Internet terminals, is valued at $1.5
million. Soros is a leading advocate of communications technology as a means of
promoting democracy. In May he announced a five-year, $100 million program to
install Internet connections at universities across Russia. -- Zsofia
U.S. SAYS ISLAMIC FIGHTERS ARE GONE FROM BOSNIA.
ended its "military and intelligence relationship" with Iran and there are no
"organized" foreign fighters left on government-controlled territory, the White
House announced on 26 June. This opens the way for a $70 million American
program to train and equip the mainly Muslim and Croatian armed forces. The
statement was issued in Lyon, France, in conjunction with the G-7 conference
there, news agencies reported. National Security Council spokesman Brian Cullin
said some former Iranian fighters remain "in civilian roles, but we see no
evidence of any remaining organized mujahedin units, nor do we believe that any
of the individuals remaining are engaged in military or intelligence activity."
Lingering Iranians were a point of contention between Washington and Sarajevo,
which had agreed that all foreign fighters were to leave Bosnia by January. --
BOUTROS GHALI BLASTS SEPARATISM IN BOSNIA.
The UN has issued a report
under the name of its secretary general charging the Bosnian Serbs with
consolidating and continuing ethnic cleansing, Reuters and AFP reported on 26
June. The study cites the resettling of Serbs from Sarajevo suburbs in the
Brcko area of northern Bosnia, the fate of which is to be determined by
international arbitration later this year. Boutros Boutros Ghali concluded that
"it appears that the Republika Srpska remains active in its efforts aimed at
separation, as publicly declared by its present leadership and reflected by
events on the ground." The report added that UN efforts to improve police work
throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina will be meaningless if local police continue "to
discriminate against, harass, and intimidate citizens who are not of their own
ethnicity." He also condemned Croatia for the killing of Krajina Serbs and the
pillaging of their property. -- Patrick Moore
WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL TO HEAR CASE AGAINST KARADZIC, MLADIC.
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was to begin hearing
testimony against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic
on 27 June, AFP reported. The hearing is not a trial in absentia, and is based
on the tribunal's Rule 61, drawn up specifically to deal with cases in which
the accused is hiding behind a state's refusal to hand him over. Two lists of
charges have been drawn up for each of the two accused. The first concerns the
war in Bosnia in general, and the other concerns the "direct responsibility" of
Karadzic and Mladic in the killings that followed the fall of Srebrenica. At
the end of the hearings, the tribunal is expected to issue an international
arrest warrant for the two accused. -- Daria Sito Sucic
KARADZIC MAKES HIS STEPPING DOWN CONDITIONAL ON RS STATUS.
sources from the Republika Srpska (RS) say that Radovan Karadzic has already
signed his resignation from the post of RS president, but made it conditional
on the RS having a "minimum status as a state" enjoying full sovereignty within
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nasa Borba reported on 27 June. However, Bosnian
Serb Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic said on 26 June that Karadzic will not run
in September elections, but will stay on as president until elections are held,
AFP reported. After the vote, Karadzic will remain only as "president of the
Serbian Democratic Party," Nasa Borba quoted Klickovic as saying. --
Daria Sito Sucic
MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT ON BOSNIAN SERB AFFAIRS.
Momir Bulatovic went on
record saying that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic "may not officially and
legally enter Montenegro," Nasa Borba reported. When told at a 26 June
press conference that "some months ago Karadzic was not apprehended during `a
walkabout of Montenegro,'" Bulatovic said he had no "official information"
about Karadzic's "sojourns in these parts." Bulatovic described Karadzic as "a
very well-protected man ... his house is guarded by some 500 heavily armed
men." He added that he did not believe the Republika Srpska would collapse if
Mladic and Karadzic were to give up politics and, according to 26 June
Montena-fax reports, felt "that not even the international community insists on
[Karadzic] being sent to The Hague, but only on his removal from political
life." -- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIA BECOMES ASSOCIATE WEU MEMBER.
Slovenia has become the tenth
country to gain associate partner status in the Western European Union (WEU),
the defense structure of the European Union, local Slovenian media reported on
25 June. Full WEU membership is contingent on EU membership. Prime Minister
Janez Drnovsek signed an agreement on Slovenia's EU associate member status on
10 June. -- Stan Markotich
MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION PROPOSES NEW MEDIA HEAD.
parliamentary commission in charge of nominations and appointments to state
posts proposed on 26 June that Macedonian Radio and Television (MRT) Director
General Melpomeni Korneti be dismissed and Slobodan Trajkovski be appointed in
her place, Nova Makedonija reported. The ruling Social Democratic Union
of Macedonia (SDSM) officially blamed Korneti for failing to present a report
on MRT's 1995 activities, but the real reason appears to be her affiliation
with the Liberal Party (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 June 1996). The SDSM's
Nako Stojanovski asked whether in any other state the member of a party that
had left the government and joined the opposition would stay on. Liberal
deputies defended Korneti, who they argued built up a functioning state media
despite the lack of a legal framework. -- Stefan Krause
ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT AGAINST JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES CONGRESS.
international congress of Jehovah's Witnesses scheduled to take place in
Bucharest on 19-21 July has aroused a storm of protests in Romania, Radio
Bucharest and Western media reported on 25 and 26 June. The government's
General Secretariat declared on 25 June that it considers "thoroughly
inopportune the attempt to improvise such a meeting in Bucharest in July or at
any time in the future." The announcement came in response to a strongly worded
communique issued by Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church on 21
June. Teoctist expressed concern over the planned meeting and accused the sect
of "irresponsibly contributing to growing violence and hatred in the world."
Romanian students announced that they would stage a demonstration in downtown
Bucharest on 31 June to protest what they described as the "satanic congress."
-- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT SETS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS DAY.
formally selected 17 November as the date for this year's presidential
elections, Infotag reported on 26 June. The election campaign will officially
start on 17 August, three months before the vote. If no candidate receives a
majority of the votes, a run-off between the two best-placed rivals will be
staged on 1 December. Meanwhile, Nicolae Andronic, deputy chairman of the Party
for Revival and Conciliation in Moldova (PRCM), announced that the party's
council had nominated the incumbent President and PRCM Chairman Mircea Snegur
as its candidate in the elections. A formal announcement will be made at the
PRCM's second national congress on 13 July. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIA WANTS CLARIFICATION FROM GREECE ON POMAKS.
Foreign Ministry on 26 June said it had asked the Greek government to clarify
its position on the status of the 35,000 Bulgarian-speaking Muslims of Western
Thrace, Reuters reported. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski called in
Greek Ambassador Anastasios Sideris and demanded an "unequivocal statement" on
the matter. Bulgaria regards the Muslim Pomaks, who live on both sides of the
common border, as ethnic Bulgarians. Greek media in recent months suggested
Athens would like to treat the Pomaks as a separate community, apart from the
region's ethnic Turks. Some Greek politicians suggested that this would not
include tuition in Bulgarian, but textbooks, dictionaries, and grammars of the
"Pomak language." They made it clear that this move is aimed against Turkey,
which wants to exert influence over Greece's Muslim minorities. -- Stefan
COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR ALBANIAN ROUND TABLE.
The Council of Europe
Parliamentary Assembly on 26 June called for roundtable talks between all
Albanian political groups, Reuters reported. The assembly issued a resolution
assigning responsibility for election irregularities on 26 May to both the
opposition and the government. The resolution did not explicitly demand new
elections but said the credibility of democratic procedures in Albania has been
shaken and a new ballot should be planned after new legislation is enacted. The
resolution said "free and fair elections ... are an essential condition for
Council of Europe membership," implying that failure to comply may lead to
suspension. The assembly added that it would send its own delegation to Tirana
to investigate fraud allegations. Meanwhile, the opposition has called for a
protest rally in Tirana on 28 June, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. -- Fabian
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Tom Warner