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Newsline - July 15, 1996


FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA CONTINUES.
Chechen forces launched an unsuccessful attack on Russian positions near Shatoi on 12 July in retaliation for the bombardment of Chechen villages, Western agencies reported. Russian forces finally established control of Gekhi on 13 July but as of 14 July, they continued to blockade Makhketi, Tsentaroi, Benoi, and Vedeno in the southeast, according to Reuters. On 12 July, Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev said it is imperative to begin talks with the Chechen opposition "at the very highest level," Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov similarly called for tripartite talks to include Moscow representatives and both Chechen factions, according to ITAR TASS. On 13 July, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said that peace talks with Moscow should be renewed only with UN mediation, and on condition that the Russian troops agree to abide by the agreements already signed, Ekho Moskvy and Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN HEALTH CONCERNS LINGER.
President Yeltsin announced that he will take an unplanned two-week holiday at the state sanitarium in Barvikha, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 July. Yeltsin also canceled a meeting with U.S. Vice President Al Gore on 15 July but then rescheduled it for 16 July at Barvikha. Late last week, the president said that he had no plans to take a rest as he would be working with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on forming the new cabinet. During the presidential campaign, the pro-Yeltsin media ignored the question of his health, fearing that such concerns would reduce his support. However, the 13 July edition of Moskovskaya pravda raised a number of questions about Yeltsin's ability to carry out his duties. The paper suggested that Yeltsin has turned down treatment because he is afraid that it could hurt his political image. -- Robert Orttung

POLICE ON THE OFFENSIVE IN MOSCOW.
The police presence on the streets of Moscow has been stepped up in the wake of last week's two trolley bus blasts and the announcement of tough new measures to combat crime in the capital. According to AFP, citing Interfax, police have detained some 6,000 people since the 12 July blast. President Boris Yeltsin said on 12 July that he had signed a new decree on combating terrorism, and Luzhkov pledged to get rid of "all those down-and-outs, scoundrels, casual workers who come here with a view to robbery, theft, and banditry" and said that "the entire [Chechen] diaspora must be evicted from Moscow," NTV reported. Leaders of the Russian Muslim Union have warned that Luzhkov's clean-up operation could lead to repressions against Caucasians. One report claimed that a Chechen field commander had taken responsibility for the bombings, but both the pro-Moscow and the separatist Chechen leadership has denied involvement. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN CALLS FOR NEW IDEOLOGY.
President Yeltsin called for the creation of a "national idea" in a meeting with his campaign workers on 12 July, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that the various stages in Russian history--monarchy, totalitarianism, perestroika--each had their own ideology, but that the current democratic path of government does not have one. He called for the new ideology to be defined within one year. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA PASSES NEW LAW ON TRANSFER OF POWER.
The Duma on 12 July passed a new law on the transfer of presidential power by a vote of 299-1 with five abstentions, Russian TV (RTR) reported. Yeltsin had vetoed the previous version of the law on 20 June and his representative in the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, had informed the deputies that he is against adopting such a law, Segodnya reported on 13 July. The deputies, however, claimed that the new law addresses the four objections Yeltsin raised to the first draft in his veto notice to the Duma. The president is unlikely to sign the bill before his 9 August inauguration, so any legal codification of the transition will take place in the year 2000, when Yeltsin should hand over power to his successor. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA FAILS TO OVERCOME VETO ON LAND CODE.
The parliament's lower house failed on 12 July to overcome the Federation Council veto on the draft land code, Russian TV reported. Three hundred votes are needed to override a veto, but only 269 deputies voted for the draft; 53 voted against and three abstained. The upper house opposed restrictions in the Duma draft on the sale of arable land. A conciliation commission is to be formed to revise the draft, but it is likely to experience difficulties finding a compromise as the two houses have diametrically opposed views on the code. -- Penny Morvant

REACTION TO U.S. CONSULTANTS' ROLE IN YELTSIN CAMPAIGN.
Western media reports, in particular a feature article in Time magazine, about several U.S. political consultants who say they helped secure President Yeltsin's reelection have evoked a mixed reaction among Russian observers. The pro-Communist Sovetskaya Rossiya, which frequently portrays Yeltsin as beholden to Western interests, prominently published a story about the Americans on 6 July. Komsomolskaya pravda on 11 July published an interview with one of the consultants, Felix Braynin, who claimed implausibly that his team even played a role in ousting Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. NTV offered a more skeptical view on 14 July, citing presidential campaign advisers such as Georgii Satarov, Viktor Ilyushin, and Vasilii Shakhnovskii, who said they never met the Americans and dismissed their claims as self-promotion. NTV anchor Yevgenii Kiselev suggested that the Time article reflected a certain "American-centrism." -- Laura Belin

SOVETSKAYA ROSSIYA ANALYZES ELECTION RESULTS.
The first round of the presidential election, in which President Yeltsin gained about 35% of the vote and Gennadii Zyuganov 32%, reflected the real preferences of the population, according to a lengthy commentary published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 13 July. The paper attributed Yeltsin's lopsided second-round victory to a combination of factors: pressure from local elites; fraud in some regions; the media's success in spreading fear of a Communist comeback; and especially Aleksandr Lebed's decision to join Yeltsin's team between the rounds. In the regions where Lebed did especially well on 16 June, Yeltsin's gains on 3 July were much greater than his average vote increase nationwide, the paper argued. -- Laura Belin

TATAR NEWSPAPER ACCUSES SHAIMIEV OF INVOLVEMENT IN FRAUD.
The Kazan weekly Kazanskoe vremya has published an article claiming that Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev was involved in falsifying the results of the first round of the presidential election. Shaimiev also threatened a dozen local administration heads ion regions where the Communist did well in the first round with dismissal if they failed to influence voters' preferences in the second round, Ekspres-khronika reported on 14 July, citing the newspaper. The preliminary results of the first round in Tatarstan gave Gennadii Zyuganov 40.5% of the vote to President Yeltsin's 37%, while the final report gave Yeltsin 38.34% and Zyuganov 38.10%; in the second round Yeltsin led by about 30% of the vote. The Procurator-General's Office is investigating the reports (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA ATTACKS LEBED.
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 13 July slammed Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's comments on Chechnya and his apparent support for the renewed fighting there, charging that "Russian history knows not a few tragic episodes related to generals' attempts to assume political responsibility, and in many instances, after the predictably bloody outcomes, those generals attributed their failures to anybody but themselves." Before Lebed's rise to power, the paper had given him more sympathetic coverage. Lebed had been harshly critical of the conduct of the Chechen war during the presidential election campaign. However, in a 3 April Nezavisimaya gazeta article he urged President Yeltsin to fight on to a victory which he thought was very close (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 April 1996). -- Robert Orttung

LUZHKOV BEGINS TO FORM GOVERNMENT.
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, reelected on 16 June, has started to form his new city government. On 12 July, he named Boris Nikolskii, Valerii Shantsev, Vladimir Resin, and Oleg Tolkachev as his first deputies, Ekho Moskvy reported. Resin and Nikolskii were Luzhkov's first deputies in the previous administration; two other former first deputies have as yet not invited to join the city government. Prior to the election, Shantsev, Luzhkov's running mate, was Moscow's South Okrug prefect, while Tolkachev headed the Moscow Property Committee. -- Anna Paretskaya

U.S. VICE PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW.
Al Gore, the first high-ranking Western official to visit Russia since the presidential election, arrived in Moscow on 13 July for the seventh session of the bilateral economic cooperation commission he co-chairs with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian and Western media reported. While Gore hailed Yeltsin's reelection as "opening a new phase in Russian history," he added that he planned to urge Russian officials to end the renewed fighting in Chechnya. He will also discuss disputed issues like NATO expansion and Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran during his visit. Gore and Chernomyrdin held their first meeting at a dacha outside Moscow on 14 July, while U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry met with acting Russian Defense Minister Mikhail Kolesnikov to discuss bilateral military cooperation and disarmament. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN AGREEMENT CLEARS WAY FOR WASSENAAR ACCORD.
A change in the Russian position has cleared the way for the implementation of a new multilateral arms export control regime, known as the Wassenaar Accord, Russian and Western agencies reported on 13 July. Negotiators from 31 countries, including Russia, reached agreement in Vienna on a preliminary framework for the regime, which had been threatened in April when Russia refused to agree to advance notification of certain arms sales. Western diplomats said Russia had now relented and agreed to inform other members of the group in advance of deals involving restricted weapons and dual-use technologies. The organization will be based in Vienna, and the delegates also invited Ukraine and Bulgaria to join. However, the negotiators could not agree on who will head it. -- Scott Parrish

JAPAN REJECTS JOINT ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IN KURILS.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 12 July that Tokyo is not interested in pursuing Moscow's recent offer of joint economic activities on the disputed southern Kuril islands (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 July 1996). Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on 11 July announced that he will not attend President Yeltsin's 9 August inauguration, ending several days of contradictory comment on the issue. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN VETOES DUMA LAWS ON CIS CITIZENS IN BORDER SERVICE.
President Yeltsin has vetoed laws ratifying three bilateral agreements with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia that allow their citizens to serve in the Russian Border Troop units stationed on their territory, RIA reported on 13 July. He charged that the ratification documents included State Duma statements that effectively amended the original treaties. -- Doug Clarke



GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER'S BODYGUARDS CHARGED WITH THEFT.
The Military Prosecutor's Office arrested six personal bodyguards of Vardiko Nadibaidze in Tbilisi, and charged them with robbing a local jewelry store, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 July, citing Rezonansi. The men reportedly took $8,000 and a large quantity of jewelry from the shop. -- Doug Clarke

GEORGIA APPLIES FOR CE MEMBERSHIP.
Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili on 14 July sent a formal request for membership in the Council of Europe (CE) to the organization's secretary-general, Daniel Tarschys, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. In May 1996, Georgia was granted "special guest" status in the CE. Tarschys is currently touring the Transcaucasian states. -- Liz Fuller

UN EXTENDS UNOMIG MANDATE.
On 12 July, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend mandate of the 136-man UN Observer Mission in Abkhazia (UNOMIG) by another six months, Western agencies reported. A corresponding council resolution expressed "deep concern" that UN-mediated talks had failed to make any progress toward a political settlement of the conflict and that the repatriation of ethnic Georgian refugees to their homes in Abkhazia has been effectively stalled. In a letter addressed to the council last week, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze had asked the body to "peacefully pressure" the Abkhaz leadership into renewing peace talks. -- Liz Fuller

TURKMENISTAN, INDIA TO EXPAND COOPERATION.
Visiting Turkmen Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov and Indian Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda concluded an agreement to expand bilateral cooperation within the framework of a separate trilateral agreement between India, Turkmenistan, and Iran, PTI reported on 13 July.
Gowda emphasized that relations with Turkmenistan remain a "high priority" for India, and added that the $15 million Indian credit to Turkmenistan, granted last year, will facilitate the creation of joint ventures in the pharmaceutics, oil, and gas industries. -- Bhavna Dave

TAJIK, KYRGYZ PRESIDENTS HOLD TALKS.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and his Tajik counterpart, Imomali Rakhmonov, agreed to strengthen bilateral ties between their countries during talks in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on 12 July, according to ITAR-TASS. Akayev also voiced his support for an extension of the CIS peacekeeping mandate in Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan have troops guarding the Tajik-Afghan border. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIKS AGREE TO EXCHANGE PRISONERS.
Representatives of the Tajik government and the United Tajik Opposition agreed on 12 July to a gradual exchange of prisoners, Reuters reported. The UN special envoy to Tajikistan, Gerd Merrem, said the exchange will take place under the supervision of the International Red Cross. The UTO announced it will release the first 26 of an estimated 300 prisoners later in July. Meanwhile, Tajik authorities in Dushanbe say that the situation in the Tavil-Dara region is calm for the first time this year. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov emphasized this by visiting the region on 11 July, according to Tajik Radio. -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS TAKE OATH OF LOYALTY TO NEW CONSTITUTION.
Ukrainian legislators on 12 July took an oath of loyalty to the newly adopted Ukrainian Constitution, Ukrainian Radio reported. The oath pledged the legislators to defend the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and work on behalf of the welfare and prosperity of its nation. A ceremony followed in Kyiv's Mariinsky Palace, where President Leonid Kuchma and Parliamentary Speaker Oleksander Moroz signed a law allowing the new constitution to take effect. Kuchma called the signing ceremony "historic" because it marked the moment the new constitution "turned the population into a nation and [its] territory into a state." -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ISRAELI EMBASSY PROTESTS BELARUSIAN CENSORSHIP.
The Israeli embassy in Minsk on 12 July accused the Mir TV network of editing Ambassador Elihu Valk's interview to delete references to a government cover-up of the mass killing of Jews during World War II, Western agencies reported. The Mir network, which is run by members of the CIS, is headquartered in Minsk and closely supervised by the Belarusian government. In the deleted part of the interview, Valk had stated that this year--for the first time ever--the Belarusian authorities had mentioned Jewish victims by name. He had also explicitly requested that this statement not be deleted. The Israeli Embassy issued a statement protesting the TV company's "blunt and rude censorship." An estimated 900,000 Jews were killed in Belarus during the war, of whom some 200,000 were Belarusian citizens and the rest transported there from other European states. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA EXTENDS VALIDITY OF SOVIET PASSPORTS.
Estonian Interior Ministry spokesman Rein Milistver told ITAR-TASS on 12 July that Estonia has extended the validity of Soviet passports of ethnic Russians until 30 November. Milistver said that non-citizens will get a special mark in their former Soviet passports when crossing the border after their residence permits have been examined. Residence permits will be issue to all those who applied before 12 July and have not received written notice that their applications were rejected. Some 300,000 ethnic Russians in Estonia had begun calling 12 July "Black Friday," since after that date, they would have been unable to re-enter the country. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIA, ESTONIA SIGN SEA BORDER TREATY.
Latvian and Estonian Prime Ministers Andres Skele and Tiit Vahi, meeting in Tallinn on 12 July, signed a treaty demarcating the countries' maritime borders, ETA reported. A border dispute broke out when Estonia unilaterally set its maritime boundaries in March 1993 and stopped Latvian boats from fishing in the territory it had claimed. The premiers also agreed to form special commissions to start negotiations on swapping border land territories. Estonia wants to give Latvia 24 hectares of land in the Moniste region east of Valga in exchange for Latvian land across the border from Koisakula and Valga. -- Saulius Girnius

BELARUSIAN PRIME MINISTER IN LITHUANIA.
Mikhail Chyhir, during his visit to Vilnius on 12-13 July, discussed with his Lithuanian counterpart, Mindaugas Stankevicius, cooperation in transportation, including Belarusian shipments through the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda, BNS reported. They also discussed ways to increase trade. Chyhir expressed regret about the failure to secure the inter-convertibility of their currencies. He also suggested that Belarus be allowed to repay its debts to Lithuania for electricity in goods, such as tractors, rather than in hard currencies. -- Saulius Girnius

SOLIDARITY SEEKS TO UNIFY POLISH OPPOSITION.
Warsaw Solidarity leader Maciej Jankowski on 12 July said a task force has been created to draft a political program for the coalition being formed around Solidarity. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Freedom Union (UW) Senator Krzysztof Kozlowski, and a former minister in ex-President Lech Walesa's Chancellery are part of the task force. The UW has not yet said it wants to form a coalition with Solidarity, but more than 20 smaller political groups belong to Solidarity Electoral Action, which intends to run joint candidates in the parliamentary elections scheduled in fall 1997. The increasingly influential opposition party Movement for Poland's Reconstruction, led by former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, has so far declined to join Solidarity Electoral Action. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER THREATENS TO BLOCK GOVERNMENT PROGRAM.
Social Democratic Party (CSSD) leader and parliamentary chairman Milos Zeman on 12 July said his party may vote against the government program when the parliament convenes on 23 July to discuss it. Together, the CSSD, the Communists and the extreme-right Republicans have a majority of seats in the parliament. Zeman was angered by Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's refusal to discuss the draft government program with the CSSD before the parliamentary vote, despite an earlier deal brokered by President Vaclav Havel whereby the coalition parties agreed to do so. The parliamentary session scheduled to discuss the program was to have been held on 16 July, but Zeman postponed the session by one week in the hope that Klaus's party will share the program with the CSSD. "Support for the government depends on whether the dialogue takes place " Zeman said. -- Jiri Pehe

CONTROVERSY OVER HUNGARIAN DECLARATION CONTINUES IN SLOVAKIA...
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Radio on 12 July, rejected the recent declaration adopted by Hungarian government, opposition, and Magyar minority representatives calling for autonomy for Hungarians living in neighboring countries. He said that the declaration violates Slovakia's sovereignty and that "ethnically pure" territory does not exist in Slovakia. The following day, the republican board of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia protested the declaration's "interference" in the internal affairs of sovereign Slovakia. The board recommended that parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic as well as the parliamentary Mandate and Immunity Committee and Foreign Relations Committee "take appropriate steps against Hungary's effort at destabilization in Europe." -- Sharon Fisher

...WHILE HUNGARY SAYS SLOVAKIA MISUNDERSTOOD AUTONOMY DECLARATION.
Laszlo Labody, president of the Office for Hungarians Beyond the Borders, said on 12 July that Slovaks have distorted the meaning of the word "autonomy" into a "diabolic" notion, Hungarian media reported. He added that Slovak domestic politics, rather than the declaration, is to blame for the Slovak response. Labody stressed that he does not consider it justifiable to hold a bilateral meeting "simply to clarify the text of the statement." He noted that, in contrast to the Slovaks, the Romanians have asked for an explanation of the meaning of the Hungarian declaration and warned against overheated responses. Labody's office reports directly to the Hungarian Prime Minister's Office. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY, AUSTRIA SIGN ANTI TERRORISM AGREEMENT.
Hungarian Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze and his Austrian counterpart, Caspar Einem, signed on 12 July an intergovernmental agreement on closer cooperation in combating international terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, and organized crime, Hungarian dailies reported. Kuncze said the two countries will also implement changes in border control to prevent traffic from slowing down when the Schengen Agreement enters into force in Austria on 1 July 1997. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



HOLBROOKE RETURNS TO BALKANS.
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke leaves for Belgrade on 15 July, the BBC and Nasa Borba reported. He will seek to convince Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to remove Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic from the scene. Holbrooke was the driving force behind the Dayton agreement in 1995 but returned this year to private life. President Bill Clinton and his top security advisers decided on 12 July to ask the forceful negotiator to return to the Balkans to tell Milosevic and his counterparts in Zagreb and Sarajevo that they must comply with the agreement. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, French Defense Minister Charles Millon said France will seek a tougher mandate for IFOR from the UN Security Council and NATO. He wants IFOR to be able to hunt down and arrest indicted war criminals like Karadzic and Mladic, the VOA reported on 14 July. -- Patrick Moore

U.S. EXPERT SAYS SREBRENICA MUSLIMS WERE MURDERED.
William Haglund, head of the UN team examining mass graves near Srebrenica, denied Bosnian Serb claims that the Muslims in the graves had been killed in battle. Haglund noted that the Muslims were wearing civilian clothes, had in some cases their hands bound behind their backs with wire, had been killed at close range, and had been buried near a site where piles of cartridge shells were found. He suggested that the men had been lined up near a road and shot, the BBC noted on 12 July. Onasa reported two days later that the forensic experts have removed the remains of 60 men from a mass grave at Cerska. At least 3,000 Muslim males are believed to have been massacred just over a year ago in the biggest single atrocity in Europe since World War II. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT, SREBRENICA SURVIVORS DIVIDED OVER FALL OF TOWN.
Ibran Mustafic, the Bosnian parliamentary member for Srebrenica, has told the independent biweekly Slobodna Bosna that the Bosnian presidency and the Bosnian army general staff betrayed Srebrenica by "consciously" sacrificing the town to the Serbs in July 1995, AFP reported. Mustafic accused the army of ordering the attacks against the Serbs to be made from within the UN safe area, thereby leading Srebrenica inhabitants "into a catastrophe." Meanwhile, army commander Gen. Rasim Delic told Dnevni Avaz that the army in Srebrenica did not carry out instructions from headquarters to link Srebrenica with the army-held territory. But Delic did not explain why 25 army officers were withdrawn from Srebrenica "for consultations" a month ahead of the enclave's fall, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

HOOF-AND-MOUTH UPDATE.
Rump Yugoslav authorities have declared a state of emergency after hoof-and-mouth disease was found in the regions of Kacanik, Strpci, Kosovska Vitina, and Prizren, Reuters reported on 13 July. Meanwhile, the whole of Kosovo has been declared an "endangered zone." Veterinarians have ordered the destruction of at least 125 animals, and EU experts are expected to visit the region this week. Several Kosovo livestock markets have been closed and farmers banned from grazing cattle outside enclosed areas. The army and police have set up controls on all roads to Kosovo and Macedonia, where the number of animals slaughtered has reached at least 1,600. Elsewhere, Israel's chief veterinary officer said that Croatia has been overly cautious in banning meat products from Israel. Croatian authorities believed Albanian or Macedonian meat may have gone there. -- Fabian Schmidt

BELGRADE FOREIGN MINISTER ON DIVISION OF FORMER YUGOSLAV ASSETS.
Milan Milutinovic told the Macedonian newspaper Vecer on the weekend that Belgrade is not opposed to the Yugoslav successor states dividing the former federation's assets. However, he did insist that agreement on the division be reached without "outside mediation." He also stressed there would be no compromise over the use of the name "Yugoslavia," which, he said, Serbia and Montenegro "practically lent...to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Now that Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Macedonia have left, there is no reason why we should not get what belongs to us," he said. The other states have expressed fears that Belgrade's continued use of "Yugoslavia" is a ploy for controlling a greater share of the assets. -- Stan Markotich

U.S. TRADE MINISTER IN CROATIA.
A U.S. delegation headed by Mickey Cantor has signed three memorandums on bilateral cooperation with Croatia, Croatian media reported on 15 July. The two sides have agreed that the U.S. companies Enron and Enserch will build two thermoelectric power stations; the projects are worth a total of $1 billion. One plant is planned to be located on Croatia's Adriatic coast, but local authorities fear that tourism might be affected by the decision. Agreement was also reached on a major project to develop Ploce harbor
and build a new road network that would also run through Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SLOVENIAN AUTHORITIES DETAIN SERB GENERAL.
Milan Aksentijevic, retired Yugoslav People's Army general and former member of the Slovenian legislature, has been detained in Slovenia, Tanjug reported on 12 July. Aksentijevic, who lives in Belgrade and was visiting relatives in Slovenia, is wanted for questioning about his role in leading Yugoslav troops in their campaign against Slovenia in the 1991 war. If convicted on charges related to attempting to undermine Slovenia's independence, Aksentijevic faces up to eight years in prison. In 1992, the general's Slovenian citizenship was revoked. Aksentijevic told Belgrade's Vecernje novosti on 14 July that he would answer all charges. He said: "I was told I would have to report to the district court in Ljubljana. I'll go because I want to resolve things myself." -- Stan Markotich

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CHOSEN IN ROMANIA...
The Party Romanian of National Unity (PUNR) on 13 July chose its leader, Gheorghe Funar, as its candidate in the fall presidential elections, Romanian media reported. One day earlier, Funar, who is also the controversial nationalist mayor of Cluj, wrote to President Ion Iliescu demanding that the members of the Council of Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) be arrested for pursuing separatist policies. He also demanded that talks with Hungary on the basic treaty be suspended until Budapest clarifies its reported support of the UDMR leadership's separatist policies. Also on 13 July, the UDMR elected Senator Gyorgy Frunda as its candidate in the presidential elections. -- Michael Shafir

...AND IN MOLDOVA.
The Party of Revival and Conciliation in Moldova (PRCM) has chosen incumbent President Mircea Snegur as its candidate for the presidential elections in November, BASA-Press reported on 13 July. The PRCM also called for setting up a mass organization straddling party lines to support Snegur's candidacy. Deputy PRCM chairman Nicolae Andronic said the PRCM was ready to cooperate with opposition parties "on the basis of partnership and mutual respect" and without claiming "the role of older brother." In a speech to the second PRCM congress on 13 July, Snegur accused the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova of sliding to the extreme left and seeking to restore a totalitarian regime. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PRESIDENTIAL REPUBLIC.
Zhelyu Zhelev in a televised address on 13 July said the present parliamentary system should be transformed into a presidential one, which he called a "more adequate form of management," Standart reported on 15 July. Zhelev argued that because the president's powers are now limited, Bulgaria might become the only former communist country whose transition to democracy and a market economy fails. He blamed the parliamentary system for "lawlessness, anarchy, insecurity, and corruption," saying the division of powers in Bulgaria had become a "division of irresponsibility." He also singled out Russia as a country that had made greater progress on reforms despite launching them later than Bulgaria. Politicians from all major political parties rejected Zhelev's call, which he had first made in late May. -- Stefan Krause

AVERAGE WAGE IN BULGARIA TO FALL EVEN FURTHER?
The average monthly salary fell from $122 in March to $60 in July, Bulgarian media reported on 15 July. The minimum wage has dropped to just under $22 and the minimum pension to $12.5. Krastyo Petkov, leader of the Union of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, said the government and the IMF have agreed to let the average wage drop to $50 to enable the government to save $1.5 billion or about half the sum recommended by the IMF to carry out structural reform. The trade unions and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce have raised concerns about the government's wage policy, proposing that wages and prices be frozen for six months instead. The unions threatened to call a general strike if the government refuses to negotiate. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS, SOCIALISTS HOLD TALKS.
Following their meeting on 13 July, Democratic and Socialist leaders have paved the way for multi-party talks on problems facing the country, international agencies reported. The Socialists are boycotting the parliament in protest at alleged ballot irregularities in the May parliamentary elections. Socialist Deputy Chairman Servet Pellumbi called the meeting "constructive and useful," while Democratic Party leader Tritan Shehu said the talks "expressed the desire of both forces to continue dialogue." The parties agreed to consider inviting other parties to the discussions. Meanwhile, President Sali Berisha swore in the new cabinet on 12 July. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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