STEPASHIN ASSERTS THAT DUDAEV IS DEFINITELY DEAD.
Following a session on
19 July of the Russian government commission on resolving the Chechen conflict,
commission secretary Sergei Stepashin told journalists he can assert with 100%
confidence that Chechen President Dzhokar Dudaev is dead, Reuters reported.
Stepashin also said he does not doubt that the Chechen field commander who
claimed in a televised press conference in Gudermes on 18 July that Dudaev is
alive is Salman Raduev. ITAR-TASS quoted a senior German government spokesman
as stating that Germany has no record of Raduev's presence in Germany, where he
claimed to have undergone plastic surgery. -- Liz Fuller
CHECHEN COMMANDER ACCEPTS OFFER OF TALKS.
Chechen chief of staff Aslan
Maskhadov on 20 July accepted an offer made the previous day by the commander
of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, to meet
and discuss implementation of the 10 June Nazran peace agreement. Russian
Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov similarly stated that the Russian
government is ready to resume talks on implementation of the demilitarization
agreements. On 20-21 July Russian air, artillery and infantry forces launched
an attack on Chechen detachments in the southeastern village of Shatoi. Both
sides claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy; a Russian
military spokesman rejected Chechen claims to have shot down a Russian
helicopter and warplane and destroyed several armored vehicles, AFP reported.
-- Liz Fuller
RUSSIA DENOUNCES EUROPARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON CHECHNYA.
Foreign Ministry on 19 July rejected as "unacceptable" a resolution on the
Chechen conflict passed by the European Parliament the previous day, Russian
and Western media reported. The Europarliament's resolution condemned Russia
for violating the recent ceasefire accord in Chechnya, and called for the
withdrawal of Russian troops from the region. A Russian Foreign Ministry
statement charged that the resolution "misinterpreted" recent developments in
Chechnya, and blamed the current upsurge of fighting on "aggressive terrorist
actions" by Chechen fighters. Meanwhile, Amnesty International blasted the
Clinton Administration for failing to criticize human rights violations in
Chechnya, charging that the administration views the conflict there as merely
"a footnote" to the development of democracy in Russia. -- Scott Parrish
YELTSIN UNDER DOCTORS' CARE.
President Boris Yeltsin is under doctors'
care, according to his spokesman Sergei Medvedev, Russian TV reported on 21
July. Medvedev said the president is undergoing "necessary restorative
procedures." The spokesman said that the president is spending time watching
television, especially news programs from state broadcasters. -- Robert
CASE OPENED AGAINST CAMPAIGN AIDES.
The procurator general has opened a
criminal case against Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev, the two Yeltsin
campaign aides detained while allegedly taking more than $500,000 out of the
White House, Ekho Moskvy reported 19 July. The procurator's Moscow office will
conduct the investigation. Lisovskii has denied that they were carrying the
money, although Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has stated that they were
authorized to have the cash. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 21 June 1996.) --
YELTSIN NAMES KAZAKOV AS CHUBAIS' FIRST DEPUTY.
President Boris Yeltsin
named Aleksandr Kazakov as his first deputy chief of staff under Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais, NTV reported 19 July. Kazakov was the head of the State
Property Committee (GKI) and a deputy prime minister just before his new
appointment. He served as Chubais' assistant at the GKI when Chubais headed it.
Additionally, he is chairman of the Gazprom board of directors, a member of Our
Home is Russia, and known to have close relations to Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin. Kazakov headed the presidential administration's office for
coordinating regional policy from 1994 to 1996, experience that will be
valuable as the president seeks to influence the outcome of regional elections
set for later this year. Kazakov's replacement at the GKI has not been
announced. -- Robert Orttung
ROKHLIN FLESHES OUT CORRUPTION CHARGES . . .
Speaking to the Duma on 19
July, Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin brought further charges of
corruption against senior military officers. Rokhlin caused a stir on 5 July by
accusing former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev of allowing massive embezzlement
in the armed forces (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 and 9 July 1996). Rokhlin
has now accused Col.-Gen. Vasilii Vorobev, former head of the Defense
Ministry's Main Administration for Military Financing and the Budget, of making
money out of a currency speculation scam using Defense Ministry funds and of
shady dealings with the Gorno Altai commercial bank, Dom i otechestvo
(no. 19) reported. Rokhlin also detailed further alleged cover-ups by chief
Accounting Chamber auditor Yurii Rodionov, contending that Rodionov had failed
to report on large amounts precious metals collected from military scrap. --
. . . MILITARY PROCURATOR CONFIRMS SOME IRREGULARITIES.
In a report to
the Duma on 19 July, Military Procurator Valentin Panichev said that checks
carried out by his office corroborated Rokhlin's allegations of financial
irregularities in the construction of housing for servicemen, ITAR-TASS
reported. He said new violations had been uncovered in dealings between the
construction firm Lyukon and the Defense Ministry. Panichev also said criminal
proceedings had been launched in connection with servicemen repairing generals'
apartments for free but he had found no violations in the construction of
generals' dachas. A number of newspapers have published reports on luxurious
dacha complexes built for high-ranking generals near Moscow using soldiers'
labor. Panichev said that the generals had borrowed money from commercial banks
to construct the dachas and that it is not illegal to employ servicemen for
construction work, Russian Public TV reported. -- Penny Morvant
CHERNOMYRDIN HINTS AT COMPOSITION OF NEW GOVERNMENT.
that there will be three first deputy prime ministers in the new cabinet
supervising financial-economic, social, and industrial issues, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 20 July. A fourth first deputy prime minister may cover
the defense industry. Three deputy prime ministers will oversee the agrarian
sector, the media, and the power ministries (which are directly subordinate to
the president), Kommersant Daily reported on 20 July. Chernomyrdin ruled
out the return of former First Deputy Prime Minster Oleg Soskovets, who was
purged with several other hardliners following the first round of the
presidential election. He also cast doubt on the inclusion of Yabloko leader
Grigorii Yavlinskii, calling him a "strong economist" but one whose "character
and personal ambitions hinder him," ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung
ANPILOV EXPELLED FROM HARDLINE COMMUNIST LEADERSHIP.
Viktor Anpilov, the
leader of the Working Russia movement, has been dismissed from his position as
first secretary of the Moscow branch of the radical Russian Communist Workers
Party (RKRP), because the party's work was deemed inefficient, Radio Rossii
reported on 21 July. The closed plenum of the RKRP leadership also decided to
join the new opposition movement formed on the basis of Gennadii Zyuganov's
electoral bloc only if it proclaims its definite pro-socialist orientation.
Zyuganov's opposition movement will not be weakened by the radicals' absence,
Valentin Kuptsov, one of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation (KPRF), announced. -- Anna Paretskaya
PRIMAKOV IN INDONESIA.
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
arrived in Jakarta on 20 July to attend several meetings under the auspices of
ASEAN, Russian and Western media reported. The same day, Primakov met his
Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas, and the two diplomats emphasized the
importance of ASEAN's recent decision to grant Russia "dialogue partner" status
at its upcoming postministerial conference. Primakov described building ties
with ASEAN as a "priority" which would help "diversify" Russian foreign policy.
On 22 July, Primakov met with Indonesian President Suharto, and declared that
Russia supports ASEAN's push to establish a nuclear-free zone in Southeast
Asia. His remarks indirectly criticized the United States, whose worries about
transit rights through Indonesian territorial waters for nuclear-armed American
naval vessels have kept Washington from joining the Southeast Asian Nuclear
Weapons Free Zone, signed last December by ASEAN leaders. -- Scott Parrish
DUMA RAISES MINIMUM WAGE, PENSION.
The Duma voted on 19 July to increase
the monthly minimum wage from 75,900 rubles ($14.70) to 95,320 as of 1 August,
ITAR-TASS reported. It also voted to increase pensions by 37% as of 1 August,
bringing the minimum up to 95,320 as well. Both bills will now go to the
Federation Council. Pension Fund head Vasilii Barchuk spoke against the
proposed pension hike, noting that it would require additional expenditure of
15 trillion rubles by the end of the year and lead to massive delays in pension
payments, Radio Rossii reported. -- Penny Morvant
POWERFUL BOMB FOUND IN VORONEZH.
A bomb containing about 1.5 kilograms
of TNT was discovered by police at the railway station in Voronezh on 19 July,
international media reported. The bomb failed to explode because of a faulty
detonator. Russian police have been high alert for bomb attacks since an
explosion in the Moscow metro in June and two bombs went off on Moscow trolley
buses earlier this month. -- Penny Morvant
DUMA PASSES BILL LIFTING IMPORT TARIFFS.
The Duma unanimously approved
on third reading a bill lifting tariffs on imports of equipment paid for by
international loans or with government guaranteed credits,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 20 July. Such imports had been tariff-free
until 15 March 1995. Since then many firms, especially in the energy sector,
complained that they lacked the money to pay tariffs, which meant machinery was
sitting unused in customs warehouses. The new measure, if signed into law, will
cost the budget about 6 trillion rubles ($1.2 billion), although First Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov claimed that increased output at the firms
receiving the machinery will lead to higher profit tax revenues. -- Peter
MORE PROBLEMATIC BANKS.
Kommersant-Daily reported on 20 July that
one more commercial bank -- Kontinent-bank -- has stopped operations.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Central Bank Sergei Dubinin rescinded on 20 July the
license of Tveruniversalbank (See OMRI Daily Digest, 9,11 July 1996).
However, he asserted that the situation at Inkombank is stable, RTR reported on
21 July, contradicting widespread press speculation about Inkombank's imminent
demise. Dubinin blamed the rumors on the unapproved publication of the TsB's
preliminary inspection report, parts of which were later withdrawn. -- Natalia
GOVERNMENT PURGE IN AZERBAIJAN.
President Heidar Aliyev on 19 July
accepted the resignation "on health grounds" of Prime Minister Fuad Kuliev,
Western agencies reported. At a session of the Cabinet of Ministers to assess
the country's economic performance for the first six months of this year, Aliev
then dismissed several more senior ministers and officials, including Deputy
Premier and Economics Minister Samed Sadykhov and managers in the oil, gas and
transport sectors. All were accused of incompetence or corruption. Both Aliev
and Parliament Chairman Rasul Guliev had previously criticized Kuliev's
government for failing to expedite economic reform. No replacement for Kuliev
has yet been appointed. -- Liz Fuller
FIRST CENTRAL ASIAN AUTO PLANT OPENS IN UZBEKISTAN.
The Daewoo plant in
Asaka, Andijon region, officially opened on 19 July with a ceremony attended by
President Islam Karimov, ITAR-TASS reported. The automotive plant, the first of
its kind in Central Asia, will produce minivans and two models of cars and will
be at full capacity in 2002. Karimov said that the goal is to have 70% of the
parts manufactured in Uzbekistan, RFE/RL reported on 19 July. -- Roger Kangas
TAJIK CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT QUICKLY BROKEN.
An agreement by
representatives of the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition on ceasing
hostilities in central Tajikistan was broken within 48 hours of its signing,
ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Though the agreement on a ceasefire in the
Tavil-Dara region of Tajikistan was signed on 19 July, reports from 21 July
indicated that fighting had resumed between government troops and the
opposition. Both sides accuse the other of initiating the latest battles. --
TYPHOID EPIDEMIC WORSENS IN TAJIKISTAN.
An epidemic of typhoid which
broke out in late May has worsened, AFP reported on 22 July. Heavy rains and
flooding devastated sewage and drainage systems, spreading the infection that
has now been reported in areas as close as 18 kilometers to the capital
Dushanbe. The World Health Organization representative in Tajikistan,
Rakhmatullo Rakhmonov, said 3,500 cases of typhoid have been registered, mainly
in rural areas, and 45 people have died so far. He added that the "epidemic is
generally under control." -- Bruce Pannier
THREE BOMBS EXPLODE IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL.
Bombs exploded on 19 July at
three buildings belonging to Kyrgyzstan law enforcement organizations, Russian
television and Reuters reported. No casualties were reported. The bombs were
detonated almost simultaneously at the Alamedin district prosecutor's office, a
Bishkek police headquarters, and a prison administration building. The Interior
Ministry blames the incidents on smuggling groups, which vowed to avenge police
confiscations of contraband alcohol, leather, and non-ferrous materials earlier
this year. However, there were also bomb explosions in April 1996 and police
later arrested a former disgruntled member of its own ranks. -- Bruce Pannier
KYIV MAYOR RESIGNS.
Leonid Kosakivsky on 19 July resigned as Kyiv mayor
following months of allegations of mismanagement, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported.
President Leonid Kuchma had called upon him to resign in May because of his
poor performance, but Kosakivsky then became ill. Under Ukrainian law,
officials cannot be dismissed while they are sick. Kosakivsky was accused of
blocking foreign investment, and lavishly spending funds on self-promotion. Of
the 68 city councilors, 40 asked Kuchma to remove him. Koskaivsky's successor
has not been named. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REPLACES DONETSK GOVERNOR.
Leonid Kuchma on 18 July
issued a decree dismissing Donetsk governor Volodymyr Shcherban, Ukrainian and
international agencies reported. Coal Minister Serhii Polyakov has been
appointed as Shcherban's replacement. The dismissal came after a government
commission investigating the coal industry urged Kuchma to replace Shcherban
for having lost control of the situation in the region. Coal miners in the
Donbas recently went on strike over back wages, also demanding that Polyakov be
dismissed as coal minister. The Donbas prosecutor's office has filed charges
against strikers for impeding public transport. On 19 July, workers at only 14
mines remained on strike. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINE OFFERS REWARD FOR BOMB ATTACKER.
Ukrainian authorities have
offered a 15 billion karbovantsy ($86,000) reward for information on leading to
the arrest of those responsible for the 16 July bomb attack on Prime Minister
Pavlo Lazarenko, AFP reported on 19 July. A limited state of emergency was
introduced and paramilitary groups banned following the attempt on Lazarenko's
life. UNIAN on 18 July reported Volodymyr Chernyak, deputy leader of the
national-democratic Rukh party, as saying the assassination attempt was
the result of a mafia struggle between the Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk mafia
clans. -- Ustina Markus
Belarusian Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu
met with his U.S. counterpart, William Perry, in Washington on 19 July,
ITAR-TASS reported. Talks focused on regional stability in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE,
embracing issues such as Belarus's participation in NATO's Partnership for
Peace program (which Belarus joined in January 1995), NATO expansion, and
nuclear security in Belarus. The previous day, Belapan reported that U.S.
special envoy for CIS Affairs James Collins told Belarusian parliamentary
speaker Syamyon Sharetsky he was not fully satisfied with U.S.-Belarusian
relations. U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Kenneth Yalowitz signed an agreement
legally defining the mechanism for providing American aid to Belarus. -- Ustina
POLISH, UKRAINIAN, BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET.
Hennadii Udovenko, and Uladzimir Slenko, meeting on 20 July in the Belarusian
city of Brest, discussed prospects for regional cooperation,
Rzeczpospolita reported. The possible inclusion of Brest Oblast in the
"Bug" Euroregion--which currently consists of Polish and Ukrainian
territories--was discussed, as were border controls and illegal immigration.
Rosati's use of the phrase "Brest Triangle" and his promises that Poland would
search for Western funding to finance Belarusian participation in the Bug
Euroregion both highlight Poland's attempts at slowing Belarus's integration
with Russia. -- Ben Slay
ESTONIA MAY BE AMONG FIRST NEW EU MEMBERS.
Minister of State at the
British Foreign Office Sir Nicholas Bonsor told reporters in Tallinn on 19 July
that it will be natural for Estonia to be among the first new members joining
the EU, ETA reported on 19 July. He called the republic's advances to a market
economy "remarkable," adding that the country already most of the requirements
for membership. But he added that it will take longer for Estonia to join NATO.
During his two-day visit, Bonsor met with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, Foreign
Minister Siim Kallas, and European Affairs Minister Endel Lippmaa. -- Saulius
ACTING MINISTERS APPOINTED IN LATVIA.
Prime Minister Andris Skele has
appointed acting replacements for three ministers who recently resigned, BNS
reported on 19 July. Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnacs will serve as culture
minister from 22 July. Economics Minister Guntars Krasts will serve as
environmental protection and regional development minister until 30 July, when
he will be replaced by Agriculture Minister Roberts Dilba. Krasts will also
serve as acting industry state minister from 27 July. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIA, LATVIA SEA BORDER TALKS POSTPONED.
The fifth round of sea
border talks, scheduled to take place in Vilnius on 22 July, have been
postponed owing to the reshuffle in the Latvian government, BNS reported on 19
July. Lithuanian delegation head Foreign Ministry Secretary Rimantas Sidlauskas
pointed out that the Latvian delegation head, Foreign Ministry State Minister
Juris Sinka, held one of the three ministerial posts that are to be eliminated.
He said that while there were no disagreements in principle between the two
delegations, he doubted the next round of talks would lead to the signing of a
sea border treaty. The main problem remains possible off-shore oil deposits for
which Latvia has signed licensing agreements with U.S. and Swedish companies.
-- Saulius Girnius
VATICAN MARKS THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF UNRATIFIED CONCORDAT WITH POLAND.
Vatican pointed out in a statement released on 21 July that the concordat on
Polish Church-state relations has gone unratifed for nearly three years,
Rzeczpospolita reported. The concordat was approved by the
post-Solidarity government of Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka in July 1993, but
the left-of-center parliament formed after the September 1993 elections has
thus far failed to ratify the treaty. While the Vatican charged that the
concordat is "often the subject of political games and electoral declarations,"
a spokesman for the governing post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD)
told Zycie Warszawy that "the SLD is only articulating the unease that
the concordat evokes in much of society." -- Ben Slay
POLISH OPPOSITION PARTIES NO CLOSER TO ELECTORAL COALITION.
anti-communist Movement to Reconstruct Poland (ROP) has rejected an open letter
from Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski asking the ROP to participate in an
election dialogue with Solidarity's opposition coalition in preparation for the
1997 parliamentary elections, Polish media reported on 22 July. Krzaklewski's
letter to ROP leader Jan Olszewski did not ask the ROP to join Solidarity's
electoral coalition and requested only a "dialog without aggression" between
the two opposition organizations. According to recent public opinion polls,
Solidarity and the ROP each
have the support of about 10-15% of the
Polish electorate and are lagging well behind the Democratic Left Alliance. --
SLOVAKIA SUBMITS EU QUESTIONNAIRE.
Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk
on 19 July handed over his country's completed questionnaire to EU Ambassador
to Slovakia, Georgios Zavvos, Slovak and international media reported. Aske
about German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's recent remarks questioning Slovakia's
readiness for speedy EU integration (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 July
1996), Schenk stressed that "Slovakia's problems have so far not been resolved
through undemocratic or unconstitutional means." He added that he believed the
problems will soon be overcome. Slovakia applied for EU membership in June
1995, but both the EU and the U.S. have made private and public statements
expressing concern about developments in the country. -- Sharon Fisher
NATO EXERCISES IN HUNGARY.
NATO on 20 July began its first air maneuvers
in Hungary within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program,
international media reported. The exercises involve some 50 planes and 1,100
troops from eight NATO-member countries, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Czech
Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Some 300 people
representing the communist Workers' Party, which has demanded a referendum on
whether Hungary should join NATO, protested the maneuvers. Worker's Party
President Gyula Thurmer said the demonstration was aimed at those who want
Hungary to be involved in military ventures and costly arms purchases and to
surrender its independence. -- Sharon Fisher
BOSNIAN SERBS CLOSE RANKS BEHIND KARADZIC.
Radovan Karadzic may have
agreed to give up his party and state offices (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19
July 1996), but his supporters still clearly regard him as their leader, AFP
reported on 22 July. Biljana Plavsic, his hard-line deputy who took over the
presidency of the Republika Srpska, told Bosnian Serb radio on 20 July that
"there will be no essential changes because the state and party policies were
designed in a broader circle that is still in place." Foreign Minister Aleksa
Buha, who replaces Karadzic as head of the governing Serbian Democratic Party,
told Der Spiegel that "no one can destroy Karadzic's authority.... There
are examples of men without any official function who determine the fate of
their country." -- Patrick Moore
IS KARADZIC ANY CLOSER TO THE HAGUE?
Those who have defended the
step-by-step approach to dealing with Karadzic have said that each move brings
him closer to the war crimes tribunal. In any event, Karadzic probably will not
have to worry about U.S. troops coming to arrest him. Vice President Al Gore on
21 July said "We don't believe that U.S. troops should be assigned the mission
of going door-to-door hunting a single individual in circumstances where it
would be very difficult to complete that mission." But the tribunal's chief
justice, Richard Goldstone asked: "With regard to the tens of thousands of
lives that [Karadzic] may have been responsible for, is it too much to ask for
some risk to be taken to bring him to justice?" Nasa Borba and Onasa
carried the report on 22 July. -- Patrick Moore
U.S. FIGHTER ACCIDENTALLY DROPS BOMB IN BOSNIA.
During a routine
simulated attack on practice targets over the weekend, a U.S. Navy fighter
plane accidentally dropped
a 225 kg bomb over Bosnia-Herzegovina, AFP
reported. The bomb exploded and narrowly missed a base occupied by 600 NATO
peace keepers, some 5 km from the strategic Serb-held town of Brcko. No
military or civilian casualties were reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic
CONTRACT FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF MOSTAR BRIDGE SIGNED.
Mayor Safet Orucevic has signed a contract with a Sarajevo-based company for
the reconstruction of Mostar's historical bridge, Onasa reported on 20 July.
Built by the Ottoman architect Hajrudin in 1596 and destroyed by Bosnian Croat
forces in November 1993, the bridge is a registered UNESCO cultural monument. A
Mostar-based institute for the preservation of monuments will assist in the
reconstruction. Fragments of the original bridge that fell into the river are
to be used. Meanwhile, EU Administrator Ricardo Perez Casado is scheduled to
quit his post on 22 July. He will be replaced by Britain's Sir Martin Garrod.
-- Fabian Schmidt
BOSNIAN FEDERATION VICE PRESIDENT RISKS ARREST IN BELGRADE?
who is scheduled to head a Bosnian economic delegation to Belgrade on 25 July,
could be arrested on war crimes charges when he arrives, AFP reported citing
the Belgrade-based Politika Ekspres. Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic invited Ganic to Belgrade to demonstrate that Serbia is determinate
to re-establish relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina. But an arrest warrant for
Ganic--issued in July 1994 for his alleged responsibility for the death of
Yugoslav People's Army troops in Sarajevo in 1992--is still in force. Nasa
Borba on 22 July cited Ganic as saying that he will be heading a team of
people able to step up relations between the two countries. -- Daria Sito
U.S. CONGRESS DELEGATION IN KOSOVO.
Six members of the U.S. congress,
headed by Democrat Eliot Engel, paid a visit to Kosovo on 20 July, ATSH
reported. They attended the inauguration of the electronic library of the
recently opened USIA office in Pristina. Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova
and Serbian administrator Aleksa Jokic were also present. Engel had met earlier
with Serbian President Milosevic in Belgrade. -- Fabian Schmidt
SLOVENIAN COURT NOT TO DETAIN SERBIAN GENERAL.
A Ljubljana district
court on 19 July decided not to detain Gen. Milan Aksentijevic, an ex-Yugoslav
officer accused of seeking to undermine Slovenian independence during the 1991
war (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 July 1996). Aksentijevic is awaiting
trial in Slovenia. The court observed that he had twice applied to visit
relatives in Slovenia and that "therefore there seems to be no danger that the
defendant will escape and avoid the trial," Reuters reported. In other news,
Davorin Kracun, a 45-year-old economics professor in Maribor, is to replace
Zoran Thaler as foreign minister, Thaler was defeated in a no confidence motion
earlier this year. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Ion Iliescu, in
an interview with Die Presse on 19 July, reiterated his positionthat
Romania and Hungary will either join NATO together or not at all. He said any
"discrimination" in Hungary's favor would produce a "climate of competition,
mistrust, and instability." Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, at the end of a
five-day working visit to the U.S., said that if priority were given to some
East European countries applying for membership, a new dividing line would be
created between NATO and Eastern Europe, Reuters reported. In an apparent
reference to Russia, he said such an approach would leave Romania vulnerable to
other competing influences. Meanwhile, on 19 July, the U.S. Senate approved by
"voice vote" a bill granting Romania permanent most-favored-nation status. The
bill now needs President Bill Clinton's approval. -- Michael Shafir
NATO NAVAL EXERCISE IN ROMANIA.
A week-long naval exercise involving
NATO forces and countries participating in the Partnership for Peace program
began on 22 July in Romanian territorial waters in the Black Sea, Romanian and
international media reported. The exercise is described as the biggest of its
kind staged within the framework of the program. Some 30 ships from eight NATO
countries, Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine are taking part. -- Michael Shafir
IMF APPROVES $580 MILLION LOAN TO BULGARIA.
The IMF on 19 July approved
a $580 million loan to Bulgaria, Pari reported. A first installment
worth $116 million is expected to arrive this week and will be used to pay $128
million owed to the London Club by 28 July. The remaining installments will be
spread over the next two years. The IMF agreed to grant Bulgaria a new loan
after the government announced strict austerity measures and vowed to close
down unprofitable state firms. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT LAMBASTES GOVERNMENT OVER NATO.
Zhelyu Zhelev on 19
July accused the government of isolating Bulgaria by not applying for full NATO
membership, Reuters reported. In his annual lecture to the Atlantic Club,
Zhelev said that owing to the government's reluctance to seek closer ties with
NATO, "Bulgaria is increasingly beginning to look like a gap in the security
framework." The president claimed that the government has failed to capitalize
on Bulgaria's strategic location in the Balkans. He also noted that by favoring
Greece over Turkey, Bulgaria has abandoned its traditional policy of Balkan
equidistance. In other news, the parliament on 19 July set the first round of
the presidential elections for 27 October. The next day, the BSP nominated
Culture Minister Ivan Marazov as its vice presidential candidate, Duma
reported. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN SOCIALIST FACTION WANTS VIDENOV'S HEAD.
The Association for
Social Democracy (OSD), a faction within the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party,
has demanded that Zhan Videnov resign as BSP chairman and prime minister before
the October presidential elections, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 22 July.
The OSD said Videnov has failed as prime minister and no longer enjoys the
BSP's confidence. It also adopted an alternative program for dealing with the
present crisis and called for a dialogue with other political forces on the
course of reform. The OSD believes that changes in the government and the BSP
will help the party's candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, win the
presidential elections. Pirinski is also OSD deputy chairman. -- Stefan
ALBANIAN PRESIDENT HAS NO TIME TO MEET WITH U.S. OFFICIAL.
on 19 July refused to meet with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Timothy Wirth,
arguing he had "no time and more important things on his agenda," Koha Jone
reported. The daily quotes State Department sources who did not want to be
identified. Wirth undertook the visit as an initiative to restart the dialogue
between the U.S. and the Albanian government, which stopped after the State
Department sharply criticized the May elections, alleging massive
irregularities. Koha Jone wrote that Berisha is seeking to "convert
relations with the U.S. into a personal inat [spiteful defiance]." --
FATOS NANO CALLS FOR REFORM OF ALBANIAN SOCIALIST PARTY.
Socialist leader Fatos Nano last week sent a letter to party members repeating
calls for a comprehensive reform of the party, Koha Jone reported on 21
July. He pointed out that the party will miss a historic chance and become even
more isolated politically if it proves unable to implement such a reform.
Meanwhile, Gazeta Shqiptare reported that the Center Pole coalition has
been excluded from round-table talks between the Socialists and the ruling
Democrats to discuss the upcoming local elections. Social Democratic leader
Skender Gjinushi called on the Socialists to participate only in multi-party
talks that include other opposition parties, Poli i Qendres reported on
20 July. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave