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Newsline - July 12, 1996


FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA CONTINUES . . .
On 11 July, Russian forces launched new air and artillery attacks around Vedeno and Elistanzhi in southeast Chechnya, while the blockade of Gekhi and Makhety continued, Russian and Western media reported. Lyudmila Radimushkina, the head administrator of the central district in Grozny who was kidnapped on 7 July, was found shot dead on 11 July. The same day, rebel commander Doku Makhaev was killed while attempting to flee Gekhi. Also near that town, Maj. Gen. Nikolai Skripnik, deputy commander of Interior Ministry troops in the North Caucasus, died after his vehicle hit a mine. Ekho Moskvy reported on 10 July that a group of fighters left Makhety intent on killing 27 relatives or clan members of pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev in revenge for the 27 people killed in the 9 July bombardment of the town. -- Peter Rutland

. . . WHILE LEBED BACKTRACKS ON ENDING THE WAR.
Speaking in Moscow on 11 July, Aleksandr Lebed condoned the current offensive, saying that federal commander Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov is "taking appropriate measures" and that Russia will "fight until victory," AFP reported. Lebed continued: "If Chechnya became independent, the republic of Dagestan would be cut off. The situation then would not be simpler, and there would be a major war in the Caucasus." -- Peter Rutland

U.S. BLAMES MOSCOW FOR FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA.
U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on 11 July blamed the renewed fighting in Chechnya on a decision by the Yeltsin administration to "take a different tack" now that the presidential election is over, Western agencies reported. Burns said the U.S. deplores the "excessive and inappropriate" use of force against civilians by Russian units. On the same day, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, often criticized for having an overly rosy view of Russia, said any attempt to impose a military solution in Chechnya would result in "disaster." He said Vice President Al Gore would raise the issue during his scheduled 14-16 July visit to Moscow. Western governments had soft-pedaled criticism of Russian policy in Chechnya during the presidential election campaign in order to avoid harming Yeltsin's prospects, a decision which was harshly criticized by international human rights groups. -- Scott Parrish

LEBED DEFINES NEW SECURITY COUNCIL POWERS.
President Boris Yeltsin's 10 July decree on the Security Council gives its secretary, Aleksandr Lebed, wide-ranging powers, NTV reported on 11 July. Lebed defined his duties as covering four main types of security: defense, societal, economic, and informational, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. He now has the authority to oversee the activities of Russia's security agencies, recommend punishments for bureaucrats not fulfilling their duties, and supply information to the president on all individuals being considered for high government posts. The council will oversee Russia's domestic and foreign security, defense readiness, military cooperation, and the development of a global information system, ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed will also oversee security within Russia's regions. He wants to appoint Inkombank's Vladimir Groshev as his deputy, Izvestiya reported on 12 July. Groshev has prepared a plan for stabilizing Russia's market economy and the paper considers him capable of putting together a good team of economic advisers. -- Robert Orttung

MORE ON FIGHTING CRIME IN MOSCOW.
Commenting on President Yeltsin's 10 July decree on tackling crime in Moscow, Lebed said the capital was chosen as a testing-ground because of the large number of banks there and the links between state bodies and criminal groups. The decree focuses on organized crime and the black economy, giving Moscow's police, tax police, and customs officials the power to confiscate assets that do not figure in companies records. It also envisages increasing the number of Interior Troops in the capital by 10,000 and reinforcing the police, tax police, procuracy, and the courts. It allows homeless people suspected of crimes to be held for up to 30 days and in certain cases expelled from Moscow, Segodnya and AFP reported. Asked about the allegations in Novaya gazeta (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 and 11 July 1996) concerning three men in Yeltsin's inner circle, Lebed said the Procurator-General's Office is investigating the case. -- Penny Morvant

JUDICIAL CHAMBER REPRIMANDS JOURNALIST, ORT OVER CHECHNYA REPORTS. . .
The president's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes reprimanded controversial journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov and ORT for two reports broadcast on 11 May and 2 June, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 July. Russian soldiers were shown on Nevzorov's show "Dni" (Days) carrying the ears of Chechen rebel fighters as trophies. During the hearings, the deputy head of the pro-Moscow Chechen mission argued that the programs had inspired hundreds of new volunteers to join the rebels, while the deputy commander of Russian forces in the breakaway republic complained that the show portrayed his soldiers as "monsters." The chamber has no power to implement its decisions, but it asked the Procurator-General's Office to investigate the broadcasts. Last year, it reprimanded Nevzorov for a report he filmed in a women's prison (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 October 1995) -- Laura Belin

. . . AND RECOMMENDS BAN ON RIGHT-WING WEEKLY.
The Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes also recommended that the State Press Committee ban the far-right weekly Pressa Rossii for stirring up social and ethnic strife, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 July. The case was inspired by a recent Izvestiya article entitled "Fascist propaganda in Muscovites' mailboxes." Hearings revealed that the paper also printed erroneous information regarding its founder and the address of its editorial board. The chamber asked the Procurator-General's Office to investigate the paper. -- Laura Belin

ANPILOV WANTS TO START NEW TV STATION.
Working Russia leader Viktor Anpilov announced that he wants to launch a new television station in Russia to be called People's Television of Russia (NTR), ORT reported on 11 July. Anpilov denounced Russia's current media as an "empire of lies" and called for resuming the "siege" of Ostankino. Ostankino is the location of Russia's first channel ORT and was the scene of violent clashes in October 1993 following President Yeltsin's decision to shut down the Supreme Soviet. Anpilov hopes to collect the $50 million necessary to start broadcasts from individual contributions. The Working Russia leader said he would join a union with Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party, if it did not join Yeltsin's cabinet, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung

CHUVASH PRESIDENT READY TO QUIT.
The president of Chuvashiya, Nikolai Fedorov, has offered his resignation to President Yeltsin following Zyuganov's strong showing in the second round of the election in his republic, Obshchaya gazeta (No.27) reported. Fedorov campaigned for Yeltsin in Chuvashiya, despite the fact that the Communist Party is strong in the republic. Gennadii Zyuganov received 62.6% of the vote to Yeltsin's 31.8%. Although Yeltsin's administration has said that leaders of regions that supported Zyuganov will not be fired, the newspaper suggested that they may be punished indirectly; for example, Chuvashiya did not receive any subsidies after it was hit by a hurricane in late June, although neighboring regions were allotted federal budget money for reconstruction -- Anna Paretskaya

FORMER ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR GUILTY FOR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS.
An inspection commission looking into St. Petersburg's financial situation has blamed former Mayor Anatolii Sobchak for the city's current problems, Radio Rossii reported on 11 July. The commission, established by incoming Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, has determined that the municipal budget fell by half over the last three years and the local debt has doubled over the last five months to reach 2.5 trillion rubles ($500 million). The commission also accused Sobchak of inefficiently managing the state's shares in privatized enterprises. The materials gathered during the inspection were sent to the Procurator-General's Office, the tax inspectorate, and the Federal Security Service. However, the radio station questioned the commission's objectivity, since it was formed by Sobchak's rivals in the gubernatorial race. -- Anna Paretskaya

ZHIRINOVSKY LIKENS NATO EXPANSION TO "BLOCKADE" OF RUSSIA.
Delivering a report to the Duma on the recent fifth annual session of the OSCE parliamentary assembly in Stockholm, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said plans to enlarge NATO to include former Soviet republics "suggest a geopolitical and economic blockade of Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 July. During the OSCE parliamentary assembly session, which ended on 9 July, the Russian delegation voted against adopting the Stockholm Declaration, a document outlining a future European security system. Delegation head Ivan Rybkin said the Russian deputies objected to a clause in the declaration which referred to an enlarged NATO as one pillar of a new security order in Europe. The assembly approved the original wording on a second vote despite Russian objections. -- Scott Parrish

SECOND BOMB BLAST ON MOSCOW TROLLEY BUS.
A bomb ripped through a trolley bus in central Moscow on 12 July injuring at least 20 people, ITAR-TASS reported. It was the second such blast in two days. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, who has just been given a mandate to tackle crime in the Russian capital, described the 11 July explosion as "an insane terrorist act," contending that it was meant to "cause fear and fatigue." Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he could not rule out a Chechen link, while Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin suggested that the explosion might have been the criminal world's answer to the decree drafted by Lebed and Luzhkov on fighting crime in the Moscow area. Speaking after the second explosion, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that he has decided to monitor the investigations personally. -- Penny Morvant

ENERGY CRISES IN PRIMORE AND KOMI.
Many homes and enterprises in Vladivostok and other parts of Primorskii Krai have been suffering severe power cuts for three days because of a payments crisis in the area's fuel and energy sector, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 July. The power company Dalenergo is owed almost 1.5 trillion rubles by customers and cannot pay for fuel supplies. As a temporary measure, emergency stocks of fuel oil from the Pacific Fleet are being transferred to the krai. In early July, some coal companies stopped delivering supplies to debtor customers. Meanwhile, the Komienergo power company in the northern republic of Komi on 10 July cut or restricted power supplies to 150 consumers who have not paid their bills, Radio Rossii reported. Komienergo is owed 1.1 trillion rubles and has not paid its workers since February. -- Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT TRIES TO PRUNE SUPPORT FOR REGIONS.
Chairing a meeting of the government on 11 July, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov said the federal budget will allot 55 trillion rubles ($10.7 billion) in 1996 to support for the regions, ITAR-TASS reported. This amounts to 13% of the budget; Kadannikov rejected proposals to increase the share 25%. Presidential adviser Aleksandr Livshits was quoted in Delovoi mir on 10 July as saying that the office for making payments to the regions will shortly be "closed for accounting." -- Peter Rutland

BANKING CONFERENCE OPENS IN MOSCOW.
Irina Sedova, deputy director of the bank supervision department at the Central Bank (TsB), told a banking conference on 11 July that the TsB withdrew the licenses from 145 commercial banks in the first half of this year, ITAR-TASS reported. There were 2,605 banks in Russia as of 1 July 1996; 463 banks have been closed since 1991. Sedova said that while around 30% of the banks are still not in compliance with new, stricter TsB regulations, bank profits in the first five months of 1996 totaled 10 trillion rubles ($2 billion). Aleksandr Khandruev, the first deputy chairman of the TsB, evaluated their balance sheet more negatively. He said that over the past year their total revenue was 18 trillion rubles and outlays 20 trillion rubles, meaning a loss of 2 trillion rubles. Earlier this week, the TsB began temporary administration of Tveruniversalbank, Russia's 17th largest bank, and are still administering Unikombank, the 12th biggest, which they took over earlier this year. -- Peter Rutland



AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION FIGURE RELEASED FROM PRISON.
The deputy leader of the Azerbaijani Popular Front, Arif Pashayev, was released from prison on 11 July, international media reported. Pashayev was initially jailed for his role as a military unit commander in the surrender of the town of Lachin to Armenian forces in May 1992. A September 1994 prison escape and subsequent recapture resulted in a five-year sentence. An amnesty signed by President Heidar Aliev combined with the president's personal meetings with Pashayev's family members are cited as the reasons for the release. Pashayev, though, still believes that he could be imprisoned again, noting that certain members of the government "want him out of the way." -- Roger Kangas

FATAL SHOOTING ON ABKHAZ-RUSSIAN BORDER.
One of a group of four Abkhaz was shot dead by Russian border guards during the night of 11-12 July while attempting to cross illegally from Abkhazia into the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia closed its border with Abkhazia at the time of the Russian military intervention in Chechnya in December 1994 in order to preclude the channelling of weapons and mercenaries to fight on the Chechen side. -- Liz Fuller

CHINESE AUTHORITIES DENY MASS ARRESTS IN XINJIANG.
Yusupbek Mukhlissi, the exiled leader of the Uighur separatist group United National Revolutionary Front (UNRF) based in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, told AFP on 11 July that Chinese authorities have arrested 10,000 people in the village of Aqsu, near the Kyrgyz border and another 8,000 in the capital Urumqi. A Chinese government spokesman denied these claims as "mere rumors," and said that there were only "several thousand" arrests, AFP reported on 12 July. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have consistently pledged support for China's efforts to control cross-border separatist activities. Kazakhstani authorities prevented Uighur leaders from staging a public protest during the Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to Almaty last week. -- Bhavna Dave

KYRGYZ JOURNALIST SENTENCED.
Another journalist from the Kyrgyz independent weekly newspaper Res Publica has been jailed, Radio Mayak reported on 11 July. Yrysbek Omurzakov was sentenced to two years in a penal colony for slandering President Akayev, though the report did not mention what was said or written about Akayev. Omurzakov, who is appealing the decision, has already spent two months in solitary confinement. -- Bruce Pannier



EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS ROMA.
The European Parliament in Strasbourg is holding a special session on 12 July to discuss the plight of Roma in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, the BBC reported. The region is home to an estimated 8-10 million Roma, who have often borne the brunt of economic transition in terms of unemployment and cuts in social services. -- Peter Rutland

LAZARENKO RE-APPOINTED UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER.
The Ukrainian parliament approved President Leonid Kuchma's nomination of Pavlo Lazarenko as premier, Ukrainian agencies reported on 10 July. Lazarenko, whose cabinet resigned on 5 July after the parliament adopted a new Ukrainian constitution, is required to present a program to lawmakers in September. The new prime minister said his main policy objectives include support for domestic industry and agriculture, energy conservation, creating a favorable climate for investment, meeting budget revenue targets, easing budgetary pressures, and protecting the poor. Lazarenko said he will attempt to combat the rampant crime and corruption; at least 50% of national income is generated in the gray market. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW KEY MINISTERS.
Leonid Kuchma on 12 July appointed Gen. Oleksander Kuzmuk as defense minister, Volodymyr Radchenko as head of the Ukrainian Security Service, Yurii Kravchenko as interior minister, Viktor Bannykh as commander of the border guards, Ihor Valkiv as commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Leonid Derkach as chairman of the State Customs Committee, and Hennadii Udovenko as foreign minister, RFE/RL and Ukrainian agencies reported. Ukraine's newly adopted constitution gives the president authority to fill those positions without parliamentary approval. Lawmakers must consent to all other portfolios. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

FRANCE SIGNS FRIENDSHIP TREATY WITH BELARUS.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a treaty on friendship and cooperation with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac on 11 July in Paris, international agencies reported. Lukashenka was in France for a three-day official visit. Several human rights organizations during Lukashenka's visit protested censorship and strong-arm tactics used against the opposition in Belarus. Lukashenka said there was a distorted image of Belarus in the West, and assured Chirac that his country was democratic. Chirac raised the issue of civil liberties and lack of economic reform in Belarus. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN CABINET DELAYS DECISION ON RESIDENCE PERMITS.
The government put off a final decision on granting residence permits to 4,077 retired Soviet military officers and their families by giving them six-month residence permits, BNS reported on 11 July. Regional Affairs Minister Tiit Kubri said most would receive permits soon. A total of 19,340 retirees have applied for residence, of which 14,392 received five-year permits, and 331 two-to-four year permits. The Citizenship and Migration Department has received 345,474 residence permit applications and has granted permits to almost 333,000. -- Saulius Girnius

TWO LATVIAN PARTIES TO MERGE.
The boards of the Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS) and Latvia's Unity Party (LVP) on 11 July confirmed that the two parties will merge, BNS reported. The merger first must be ratified by party congresses. DPS Chairman Ziedonis Cevers predicted the merger would occur before local elections in the spring. Winning 18 of the 100 seats in the fall Saeima elections, the DPS faction recently increased to 20 deputies when two Popular Concord Party members defected. LVP Chairman Alberts Kauls said that five of his seven deputies support the merger and if the others agree, the new party would have 27 deputies. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA'S TOP TAX INSPECTOR TO CHANGE APPROACH.
Antanas Nesteckas, the recently appointed head of the State Tax Inspectorate, said he will change the focus of his bureau's work, Radio Lithuania reported on July 11. He said tax inspectors should help taxpayers, not only penalize them. In other news, Nesteckas said that the 173.6 million litai ($43.4 million) deficit in anticipated revenues as of 9 July was due to the banking crisis and changes in tax laws. For example, the VAT tax on agricultural producers was reduced from the 18% foreseen in the budget to 9%, resulting in a shortfall of 400 million litai. He said the budget problems should be solved--not by raising taxes or increasing late fines--but by collecting unpaid taxes, especially on illegal oil and alcohol. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND JOINS OECD.
Poland on 11 July joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of the world's richest nations, Polish and international media reported. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko, who signed the agreement, said Poland will press forward with plans to join the EU by 2000. Poland will become the OECD's 28th member after the Sejm ratifies the accession treaty, probably in the early fall. To meet the OECD's criteria for membership, Poland agreed to free up the flow of capital and loosen restrictions on foreign ownership of land. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER ON ARCHIVES.
Polish historians will be able to view older Internal Ministry files dating until 1966, Polish Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski said on 11 July, Polish dailies reported. More recent material will be available only after 30 years, released year by year. The exception to the open files are the secretly collected "operational" data and material concerning secret service agents, which would be released only to the prosecutor's office or to courts in cases of grave crimes. Siemiatkowski said there are files so secret that they will be never put in the archives in the ministry's basement--they will remain forever in a safe in the minister's office. If released, those files would be a "political bomb," he said. -- Jakub Karpinski

U.S. SENATORS BACK POLISH, CZECH, HUNGARIAN NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic have made the most progress toward NATO membership, members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on 10 July, Magyar Hirlap reported. They told visiting Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Istvan Szent-Ivanyi that the three countries could be entitled to $60 million in military aid; the Senate has yet to approve that package. Szentivanyi also conferred with deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on NATO expansion. Talbott said Hungary's hopes of joining NATO by 1999 are "realistic." Szent-Ivanyi said he got the impression Slovenia could be next on the US's NATO list. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

CZECH GROUP DISTRIBUTES ANTI-SEMITIC LEAFLETS.
A group calling itself The Patriotic Front claimed responsibility for distributing leaflets that protest an exhibit in Brno honoring the recently murdered Israeli Prime Minister Itzak Rabin, Czech media reported on 12 July. The leaflets claim, among other things, that the influence of Jews in Czech politics is too strong. Tomas Kraus, the secretary of the Federation of Czech Jewish Communities, said the leaflets are of marginal importance and the public has either ignored or condemned them. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN CALLS FOR AUTONOMY.
Michal Kovac said the declaration adopted at the recent Hungarian summit that called for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries "rouses mistrust" between Slovaks and Hungarians, he told Slovak TV on 11 July. He expressed particular concern over the connection made between Hungarian minorities' identity and survival on non-Hungarian territory with autonomy and a special legal position. He said the development of identity is closely linked with "the development of democracy and the safeguarding of individual rights." Also on 11 July, Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee chairman Dusan Slobodnik said the declaration violates Slovakia's constitutional order, and he added that the parliamentary Mandate and Immunity Committee will take measures against the five ethnic Hungarian deputies from Slovakia who attended the conference. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN WRITER TO RECEIVE LEGION D'HONNEUR AWARD.
Hungarian writer and former dissident Gyorgy Konrad will receive the Legion d'honneur, France's highest award for foreigners, Magyar Hirlap reported on 11 July. Konrad was nominated for the award by French President Jacques Chirac for his work as a writer and as a promoter of French-Hungarian cultural relations. Konrad has published four novels and two lengthy essays in French, and several of his articles have appeared in the French daily Le Monde. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



KARADZIC'S PARTY ALLOWED TO RUN IN ELECTIONS?
The Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) can stand in the vote, said the OSCE's supervisor of the Bosnian elections, Nasa Borba reported on 12 July. Superivisor Robert Frowick said Serbs should be able to vote on 14 September for whomever they want, including the SDS, Onasa reported on 11 July. An OSCE spokesman in Sarajevo told OMRI, however, that Frowick still believes that the SDS should not run if headed by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt again said the SDS should be allowed to run even if Karadzic is still in charge. The U.S. and its allies appear to be content simply with Karadzic's "marginalization," Nasa Borba reported. In Sarajevo, however, Haris Silajdzic of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina said his group probably will boycott the elections unless war criminals such as Karadzic are out of public office, Onasa reported on 10 July. -- Patrick Moore

HAGUE TRIBUNAL ISSUES ARREST WARRANTS FOR KARADZIC, MLADIC.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia put out international arrest warrants for Karadzic and his military counterpart, Gen. Ratko Mladic, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported on 12 July. The move is expected to have few practical consequences and is largely a political and psychological attempt to keep up pressure on the Serbs and on the international community. The two men have already been indicted twice for war crimes and have publicly visited Serbia, although existing warrants are theoretically valid there. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic said Karadzic and Mladic are still free on Bosnian Serb territory despite the presence in Bosnia of 60,000 NATO troops. He said the two men's freedom shows a "lack of determination of the international community," AFP reported on 11 July. -- Patrick Moore

SREBRENICA SURVIVORS MARK ANNIVERSARY.
Some 5,000 Muslim former inhabitants of Srebrenica rallied in Tuzla on the first anniversary of the town's capture by Gen. Mladic's forces, Oslobodjenje reported on 12 July. The meeting was intended as a gathering of women, with foreign guests, but some of the few hundred males who escaped the massacres also showed up, turning it into what the BBC called "a gathering of the survivors." The Serbs, meanwhile, held a rally in Srebrenica to mark its "liberation." -- Patrick Moore

IT WILL NOW COST MORE TO LEAVE RUMP YUGOSLAVIA...
The federal government on 11 July hiked its departure tax, Tanjug reported. The new rates are slated to come into effect on 20 July. Individual citizens crossing the border must then pay 100 dinars (about $20) instead of 60, and cars will be obliged to hand over 200 dinars, up from 150. The move is intended to stem the outflow of hard currency. -- Stan Markotich

...AND TO BUY A LOAF OF BREAD.
The price for basic bread will rise an average of 30%, said Serbia's Trade Minister Srdjan Nikolic on 10 July, Nasa Borba reported. The increases, expected on or shortly after 13 July, will up the price of a loaf of "prime-grade" white bread to about 2.4 dinars or 50 cents; "second-grade" bread will retail for about 1.8 dinars or 35 cents. Nikolic said the government will require bakeries to produce at least 30% of their bread output as "second-grade," in order to cushion the poorest segments of the population. -- Stan Markotich

KOSOVAR LEADER MEETS GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER.
Ibrahim Rugova met Klaus Kinkel in Bonn on 11 July and said he was ready for talks with Belgrade, Nasa Borba and AFP reported. Kinkel said Serbia's ties with the EU depended on settling the Kosovo issue, Reuters reported. The German foreign ministry said the situation in Kosovo is marked by fear and discrimination against the Albanian majority there, adding that Germany's ties with Belgrade would be affected by how fully Belgrade respects human and minority rights in the region. Rugova repeated the Kosovars' demand for independence. Meanwhile, a Serbian policeman was injured in a shootout in Podujevo, Tanjug reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN COALITION WILL NOT BE DISMEMBERED.
The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) and its extremist anti-Hungarian coalition ally, the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), agreed to continue their partnership in the government coalition, Romanian media reported on 11-12 July. In May, the PDSR had announced it intended to end the cooperation. Observers attribute the reversal to the PUNR's electoral success in June's local elections and to the PDSR's apprehension that it might be left without potential allies after the general elections scheduled for early November. The two sides agreed to draft "a non-aggression pact" for the electoral contest. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS SENTENCED FOR LIBEL.
Two journalists from the Constanta daily Telegraf were sentenced for libel to seven months in prison, local and international media reported on 11-12 July. That was the first such conviction in the post-communist era. In 1993, the two reported on corruption cases in the Constanta city council. The city's deputy mayor was dismissed, but a council official on whom they had reported was made a judge. The Supreme Court on 11 July ruled against the journalists' appeal and ordered them to pay 25 million lei ($8,200) in damages. President Ion Iliescu said he cannot intervene in the case. -- Michael Shafir

TINCA ON ROMANIAN EFFORTS TO JOIN NATO.
Romania hopes its new military reforms will boost its chances of NATO membership, said Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, local and international agencies reported on 11-12 July. Tinca was speaking in advance of Romania's second round of individual talks with NATO in Brussels, due to be held on 15 July. He said his country was aiming to create a core of 20,000 army professionals by the end of the year 2000. He said dropping compulsory military conscription was not yet possible, but the army now has 17,000 professionals. Romania has pledged to cut its 230,000-strong force to 190,000 over the next four years. Tinca denied local media reports of a rise in the number of suicides and desertions among the conscripts. -- Michael Shafir

GENERAL LEBED SUMMONS COLONEL FROM MOLDOVA.
Colonel Mikhail Bergman, former Tiraspol military commander, left for Moscow on 11 July, where he was convoked by Russian Security Council Secretary Gen. Alexandr Lebed. Bergman will likelybe re-appointed to the post from which he was dismissed eight months ago by Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Transdniester-based Russian troops, at the order of former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, BASA-press reported. In an interview with BASA-press, Bergman said Yevnevich will be transferred to China as military attache. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIA PROMISES IMPROVED ECONOMY.
In an economic policy memorandum to the IMF, the Bulgarian government pledged that all enterprises not privatized by September 1997 will be included in mass privatization, Sega reported on 11 July. It also said foreign reserves--currently $600 million--will rise to $1.3 billion by end-1996 and $1.7 billion by end-1997. The lev is to stabilize at 150/dollar in the second half of 1996, (though it is already at 184.6.) Inflation will be reduced to 2.5% monthly by December 1996 (vs. 20.3% in June) and 1.5% by December 1997. The budget deficit will be 3.1% of GDP in 1997, falling from 5.4% this year. However, by 3 July, that deficit was already 66.7% of the planned annual figure. The IMF's Executive Board will consider the memo on 19 July. -- Michael Wyzan

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES NEW GOVERNMENT.
Sali Berisha on 11 July officially announced Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's new government, Reuters reported. The Democratic Party (PD) holds 22 of 25 posts in the new cabinet, with the remainder going to small coalition partners. Democratic Party Leader Tritan Shehu was named deputy premier and foreign minister, Dylber Vrioni heads the new privatization ministry, Ridvan Bode is the new finance minister, and Halit Shamata is new interior minister. Safet Zhulali kept the defense portfolio. Teodor Laco of the Social Democratic Union stays on a culture minister, Arjan Madhi of the Republican Party was appointed secretary general of the council of ministers, and Arben Babameto is state secretary for transport. Bamir Topl became agricultural minister, and Kristofor Peci is justice minister. The PD-dominated parliament is expected to approve the new government next week. -- Stefan Krause and Fabian Schmidt

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Maura Griffin Solovar





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