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Newsline - July 26, 1996


YELTSIN FORMS NEW DEFENSE COUNCIL . . .
President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree creating an 18-member Defense Council to implement decisions of the Security Council and help draft military policies, Russian and Western agencies reported on 25 July. Yeltsin will chair the council, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will be its deputy chairman and Yurii Baturin, whom Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed replaced as presidential security adviser last month, will serve as Defense Council secretary. Other prominent members are Lebed, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, and Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Kovalev. Since Lebed will have only the status of an ordinary member, the decree appears to be yet another balancing move on Yeltsin's part. -- Laura Belin

. . . AND OBJECTS TO DRAFT LAW ON MILITARY COUNCIL.
On the same day he officially formed the Defense Council , Yeltsin notified the State Duma of his objections to the draft law on a Military Council, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin's statement said the draft law would violate the Constitution by granting powers to the Military Council that are already vested in the president, the Security Council, the Defense Ministry, and the General Staff. The draft law, prepared by Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, would have increased Lebed's authority over military matters (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 July 1996). -- Laura Belin

SPECULATION OVER NEW GOVERNMENT CONTINUES.
The main candidates for the position of first deputy prime minister covering economic issues are Presidential Advisor Aleksandr Livshits, Duma Member Aleksandr Shokhin, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov, and Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 25 July. A newcomer to the list of those under consideration is 35-year-old Oneksimbank President Vladimir Potanin, Izvestiya reported on 26 July. Oneksimbank is one of the most powerful and secretive banks in Russia. Kommersant-Daily on 26 July pointed out that Yavlinskii will not join a government that continues to wage war in Chechnya. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN RESTRUCTURES ADMINISTRATION.
President Boris Yeltsin approved Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais' rationalization of the administration on 25 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The plan will be carried out over the next two months. The changes include removing four of the six departments set up by Chubais' predecessor Nikolai Yegorov -- constitutional guarantee of citizens' rights, personnel, foreign and domestic policy, and analysis (See OMRI Daily Digest, 31 January 1996). The decree concentrates power in Chubais' hands, eliminating the position of first aide, formerly held by Viktor Ilyushin, and putting Chubais in charge of Yeltsin's staff of advisors. -- Robert Orttung

GOVERNMENT NOT FULFILLING PRESIDENTIAL ORDERS.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin lashed out at the Finance Ministry and State Property Committee (GKI) on 25 July, Ekho Moskvy reported. The ministry was responsible for 11 of 23 unfulfilled presidential decrees, while the committee had not acted on three. Chernomyrdin said that these results would be taken into account when forming the new government, suggesting that Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov may lose his position. The GKI has been without is currently without leadership, after Aleksandr Kazakov's appointment as Chubais' assistant. According to government Chief of Staff Vladimir Babichev, the Economics Ministry and the Defense Industry Ministry were also major offenders, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 26 July. Fifty percent of presidential decrees are implemented only after their deadlines. The appointment of Yurii Yarov and Kazakov, both former members of the government, as Chubais' assistants will promote better coordination between the president and government, Russian TV (RTR) suggested. -- Robert Orttung

CONFUSION OVER LEBED'S NEW MOVEMENT.
The Security Council press service complained that a number of "fabricated reports" about its secretary Aleksandr Lebed have been circulated recently by the Interfax news agency, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. In particular, it said no official information had been issued concerning a new political movement called Truth and Order, which Lebed was reported to be forming (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1996). However, later the same day the Security Council press service withdrew its statement of complaint "for technical reasons," and ITAR-TASS was not able to clarify whether the original reports about Truth and Order were correct. -- Laura Belin

NEW CONDITIONS FOR RENEWING CHECHEN TALKS.
Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov said on 25 July that he is prepared to meet with the head of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, only if the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, is present to guarantee his safety, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov told ITAR-TASS that Moscow is ready to resume talks immediately the Chechen side starts to implement the measures specified in the 27 May and 10 June agreements. Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, who on 24 July took over as acting commander of the Russian federal troops in Chechnya, ruled out talks with either Shamil Basaev or Salman Raduev, according to ORT. Russian Independent Television (NTV) quoted the news agency Argumenty i fakty -- Novosti as reporting that Dzhokhar Dudaev is alive and convalescing in Turkey after having been spirited across the border between the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan in an OSCE jeep. -- Liz Fuller

FEDERAL TROOPS IN CHECHNYA ARRESTED FOR MURDER.
Two Interior Ministry soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of murdering 13 civilians in Grozny, RIA reported on 25 July. The two were said to have been the only surviving crew members of an armored personnel carrier involved in the incident. Isa Aliroev, the deputy prime minister in the pro-Moscow Chechen government, said the case was under the personal attention of Russian Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov. -- Doug Clarke

WESTERN PLOT TO DESTROY RUSSIA?
In an interview with Pravda-5 on 26 July, the chairman of the Duma's Security Committee, Viktor Ilyukhin, said the Western powers want to undermine the Slavic world and split Russia into 4-5 states. He suggested that Kaliningrad, the Far East, and North Caucasus are the first targets, and he warned Ukraine that the IMF, U.S., and Turkey intend to give Crimea back to the Tatars. With regard to the former Yugoslavia, "What Adolf Hitler failed to accomplish is today being realized," Ilyukhin said. Addressing the Federation Council the same day, First Deputy Minister for Nationalities Andrei Chernenko said that ethnic tension within the Russian Federation is the main threat to Russia's security, Radio Rossii reported. He noted with concern that increasing numbers of ethnic Russians are migrating out of the ethnic republics, a trend which is presumably most marked in the North Caucasus. (See related story in "CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE" section.) -- Peter Rutland

MOSCOW CONDEMNS LIBYA, IRAN SANCTIONS BILL.
Russia on 25 July condemned draft U.S. legislation that would penalize foreign energy companies operating in Libya and Iran, Russian and Western agencies reported. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Russia views the proposed measure as a violation of international law and infringing on Russian rights. The European Union has also attacked the measure, adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on 23 July. The bill provides for sanctions against foreign companies that invest more than $40 million a year in the Iranian or Libyan oil and natural gas sectors. -- Penny Morvant

NEW MUSLIM MOVEMENT REGISTERED.
The All-Russian Public Political Movement Muslims of Russia has been registered with the Justice Ministry, Radio Rossii reported on 25 July. The new organization is headed by Mukaddas Bibarsov, who resigned as General Secretary of the Union of Muslims of Russia (SMR) in February. Though Bibarsov disagreed with the SMR leadership over supporting President Yeltsin's re-election in June, the new movement he leads will support the policy of democratic reform aimed at raising living standards. The new movement calls for the unification of Muslims of Russia and the CIS. -- Anna Paretskaya

CASE AGAINST FORMER SPORTS FUND HEAD DROPPED.
The case against former National Sports Foundation head Boris Fedorov, who was detained in May after 4.5 grams of cocaine were found in his car, has been dropped, ORT reported on 25 July. Fedorov, who subsequently lost his foundation position, also narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after the incident. On 8 July an article published in Novaya gazeta cited him accusing Shamil Tarpishchev, the head of the Russian Federation Sports Committee and Yeltsin's tennis coach, of links with organized crime. He also allegedly accused former Presidential Security Service head Aleksandr Korzhakov and former Federal Security Service head Mikhail Barsukov of condoning Tarpishchev's activities. Fedorov later said his words had been taken out of context, but he did not explicitly deny the charges. -- Penny Morvant

FIRST PYRAMID SWINDLER JAILED.
Dmitrii Khalzov, the founder of the Soyuz-Almaz investment company, has become the first of Russia's notorious pyramid scheme operators to receive a jail sentence, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. Khalzev robbed savers in Samara of 1.2 billion rubles in 1994. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Some 20 to 40 million small investors are thought to have been the victims of financial scams in Russia. The Duma is currently considering legislation on compensation for investors defrauded of their savings. -- Penny Morvant

NEW SYSTEM FOR REGULATING PRICE OF GAS . . .
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a decree on 25 July authorizing the Federal Energy Commission (FEK) to regulate the price of natural gas, ITAR-TASS reported. The FEK will oversee the introduction of differential prices for gas by region, depending on transport costs, and ensure the access of companies other than Gazprom to the gas pipeline system. These moves, allowed under the Law on Natural Monopolies, take place amidst an increase in reports of electricity shutdowns in the regions due to non-payment of fuel bills. It remains to be seen whether the FEK can be serious inroads into the pricing policies -- and profits -- of Gazprom. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AND ELECTRICITY.
Chernomyrdin recently signed another decree ordering the FEK to introduce from October a new system of regional prices for electricity producers, Segodnya reported on 25 July. The new system would oblige the holding company Unified Energy System to charge the same price for electricity in Siberia and the Far East, thereby subsidizing the latter region. The plan has drawn strong protests from Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk, who fear that the resulting higher energy price will make some of their industries (such as the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant) unprofitable. -- Peter Rutland



6,000 PRISONERS AMNESTIED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
According to a presidential decree signed by Nursultan Nazarbayev on 25 July, 6,000 prisoners will be freed and others will have their sentences reduced, Reuters reported. The decree, which takes effect on the first anniversary of the current Kazakh Constitution, is also designed to help reduce overcrowding in the country's prisons. Interior Minister Kairbek Suleimenov noted that Kazakhstan's crime rate dropped by 6.7% during the first six months of 1996 compared to the same period last year, adding that this stability makes such an amnesty possible. Previous reports by international organizations, such as Amnesty International, have been critical of Kazakhstan's overcrowded and disease-infested prisons this past year. -- Roger Kangas

TAJIK OPPOSITION ASSAULTS KOMSOMOLABAD . . .
Units of the Tajik opposition attacked the city of Komsomolabad, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. Under cover of darkness, opposition fighters assaulted the city, killing two government soldiers before being repelled. Battles are being fought in several areas of the Tavil-Dara region, south of Komsomolabad and this latest attack may have been a diversionary tactic. -- Bruce Pannier

. . . AND FIGHTING REPORTED NEAR DUSHANBE.
Fighting was reported in villages as close as 10 kilometers east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, according to an ITAR-TASS report on 25 July. The report did not specify which villages but mentioned that armed groups under the leadership of "chieftains" Mansur and Rakhmon were in control of the villages. Tajik government forces are said to have dislodged the groups from their positions, killing nine. Further east, opposition forces are claiming to have taken the stretch of the Dushanbe-Khorog highway between the towns of Faizabad and Obigarm, according to the Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan as cited by the BBC. Faizabad is about 55 kilometers east of Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier



TWO ACCIDENTS AT UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR PLANT KILL WORKER, RELEASE RADIATION.
Two accidents at the Khmelnytsky nuclear power plant on 25 July killed an employee and leaked radiation inside the station, Western and Ukrainian agencies reported the same day. The incidents occurred as the station's only working reactor was being tested for a planned restart since it was shut down on 20 April for maintenance. One employee sustained fatal injuries and burns when a steam pipe burst during the testing. Several hours later, radioactive water leaked into a nitrogen storage area after workers failed to make a safety check. Plant managers said radioactive contamination was limited to inside the plant and that the leaks measured level three on the IAEA's seven-level scale for nuclear accidents. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE OPENS INSTALLATION TO DISMANTLE SS-19s.
Ukraine will open a facility on 26 July to dismantle and "neutralize" the 130 SS-19 intermediate-range ballistic missiles left on its territory by the collapse of the Soviet Union, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. The facility is located at the Yuzhmash plant in Dnepropetrovsk where the Soviet giant SS-18 missile was built. Sources in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told the agency that the facility would be able to process four missiles per month. The U.S. provided financial support for the project. -- Doug Clarke

BELARUSIAN PARTIES UNITE AGAINST PRESIDENT.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has managed to unite seven political parties, ranging from liberals to communists, that issued a joint denunciation of his rule, Reuters reported on 25 July. Lukashenka is accused of violating the country's laws and constitution, mismanaging the economy, and planning to call a referendum on a new constitution and economic program that would turn the country into a "totalitarian regime." The strong language of the statement was unprecedented, as was the alliance of the seven parties, and comes two days before the fifth anniversary of Belarus's declaration of independence. The parties called for a round-table discussion between the president, prime minister, and the parliament as a way of resolving the dispute between legislature and executive. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN APPOINTMENTS.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree appointing Alyaksandr Sazonau as Minister of Business and Investment, Belarusian radio reported on 25 July. Before the appointment, Sazonau had been a presidential aide. Yauhen Valadzko was appointed railroad chief. His previous post had been Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications. Alyaksandr Minin was appointed Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, and chief of road works. Zinovii Pryhodzich was appointed first deputy chief of the State Committees for Publications. -- Ustina Markus

CIA PLOT AGAINST BELARUS, UKRAINE DENIED.
Russian Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin made a sensational statement charging the CIA with preparing subversive activities against Belarus from Warsaw, NTV, UNIAN, and ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. He said a team of CIA agents were working in Poland to arrange mass strikes in Belarus in August. During the strikes, a couple of prominent members of the opposition are to be killed, and their deaths blamed on President Lukashenka. Ilyukhin said $254,000 has already been spent on the plot, a large part of which was paid to Ukrainian radicals belonging to the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian Self-Defense Organization (UNA-UNSO). Ilyukhin also said the IMF was giving money to help repatriate Crimean Tatars to the peninsula. Once a majority of Tatars move there, he said, a referendum on Crimea's secession will be organized and Turkey and the U.S. will immediately recognize the results. Belarusian and Western officials denied the plot existed. (See related story in "Russia" section.) -- Ustina Markus

MOSCOW, CONSTANTINOPLE OFFICIALS MET IN ESTONIA.
Heike Huttunen, the vicar in charge of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church under Constantinople and Father Superior Yenisei of th e Moscow Patriarchate, headed delegations meeting in Tallinn from 22-24 July, BNS reported the next day. The meeting sought to provide a realistic view of the two Orthodox churches in Estonia, as information previously sent to Moscow had reportedly been distorted. The delegation heads signed a document establishing direct contacts to facilitate communications and laying the foundation for constructive steps to resolve the conflict. In the next round of negotiations, metropolitans of the two churches are scheduled to meet in Tallinn on 20 August. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH FARM PARTIES.
The Estonian Association of Industry and Employers on 24 July signed a cooperation agreement with the ruling coalition's farm parties, the Country People's Union, the Rural Union, and the Pensioners' and Families' Union, BNS reported the next day. The parties, together with the Blue Party, recently formed a pre-election alliance called National Cooperation. Association chairman Viljar Veskivali said that since the government had failed to provide equal opportunities to local producers by allowing the import of cheaper farm products, the association was breaking its ties with the Coalition Party. Its chairman, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, criticized the association's decision, asserting that it did not understand the market economy and placed too much trust in direct command. -- Saulius Girnius

SOLIDARITY GAINING IN POLISH OPINION POLLS.
Opinion poll results released this week indicate that the Solidarity "Electoral Action" coalition of opposition groupings is gaining ground on the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the leading party in Poland's governing coalition, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 25 and 26 July. According to the Warsaw-based CBOS polling agency, Solidarity would win the parliamentary elections slated for fall 1997 if they were held today, garnering 26% of the vote, compared to 22% for the SLD. A poll by the Sopot-based Social Research Workshop placed support for both Solidarity and the SLD at 27%. Both polls measured support for the anti-communist Movement to Reconstruct Poland (ROP) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), the SLD's coalition partner, at 13-14%, while support for the center-left Freedom Union (UW) was measured at 8-11%. These forecasts suggest that a post-election coalition of Solidarity, ROP, and UW--assuming these fractious parties can cooperate--could displace the post-communist SLD-PSL coalition that has ruled since 1993. -- Ben Slay

POLISH TV OFFICIALS SUSPENDED FOR ALLEGED MAFIA CONTACTS.
A recent meeting in a Warsaw nightclub between Polish TV officials and alleged Mafiosi has resulted in a media scandal and the suspension of several of the officials, Polish media reported on 26 July. Milan Subotic, the director of the popular "Teleexpress" program, and two associates were suspended by PTV because some of Warsaw's leading mafia figures attended a celebration in the Dekadent nightclub earlier this month. The "Teleexpress affair" has set off a heated debate in Poland on the relationship between the press, the government, and the criminal underworld, which is known to frequent the Dekadent. Some observers have argued that party invitations from Polish journalists are a private matter, and charge that the suspensions illustrate PTV's growing subordination to the government. -- Ben Slay

CZECHS DESTROY LAST SOVIET MISSILES.
The Czech Republic has destroyed the last of its Soviet-supplied SS-23 intermediate-range missiles, CTK reported on 25 July. In the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the Soviet Union pledged to eliminate all its SS-23s. After the treaty had been signed, the U.S. discovered that SS-23s had also been supplied to Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany and an international controversy followed. Czechoslovakia had received 4 launchers and 24 missiles, and, in 1994, pledged to destroy them all. -- Doug Clarke

SLOVAKIA'S RULING PARTY CALLS FOR CHANGE.
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy Marta Aibekova on 25 July said certain steps taken after the fall 1994 elections and seen by the West as "undemocratic" will be revised, Narodna obroda reported. Noting that much has changed in the past two years, Aibekova hinted that the ruling coalition's absolute control of certain state institutions will be loosened, giving the opposition a bigger role. HZDS legal expert Jan Cuper stressed that "if the opposition shares in governing, it cannot be a destructive opposition." Meanwhile, parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dusan Slobodnik, also a HZDS member, said the spreading of "untrue information" about Slovakia is the reason for the country's omission from the U.S. Congress's NATO expansion bill. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES BILL ON STATE SYMBOLS.
The government on 23 July approved a draft law on the use of state symbols, Slovenska Republika reported the following day. If the bill becomes law, state offices would no longer be required to display portraits of the president. The bill would also prevent the public display of the Hungarian flag in southern Slovakia except during official visits by Hungarian officials. -- Sharon Fisher

NATO OFFICIALS IN HUNGARY.
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and U.S. General George Joulwan, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Forces in Europe, arrived in Hungary on 25 July for a two-day visit, Reuters and AFP reported. Talks with Prime Minister Gyula Horn focused on Bosnia and NATO expansion, but Solana refused to comment on when enlargement will take place. Solana and Joulwan also visited NATO troops in Hungary participating in the IFOR mission. Regarding NATO's role in apprehending indicted war criminals during the Bosnia peace mission, Joulwan said there will be no change to the policy of apprehending war criminals only if encountered. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN POLICE ENFORCE LAW AGAINST RACIST ASSAULT.
Hungarian police enforced for the first time a new law against racist assault, arresting neo-Nazi skinheads accused of attacking a Nigerian man last month in Budapest, AFP reported on 25 July. Police said most of those arrested are members of the extremist Hungarian Welfare Society, which is currently under investigation for neo-Nazi activities. The Nigerian suffered slight injuries in the assault. A new Penal Code amendment passed on 13 March punishes incitement of hatred by up to three years in jail and ethnic violence by up to five years. -- Sharon Fisher



BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES END TO HARASSMENT OF SERBS.
Hasan Muratovic told UN special envoy Iqbal Rizah and the head of the UN police force in Bosnia, Peter Fitzgerald, that he will personally attend to the security situation of the 8,000 Serbs still left in the Sarajevo suburbs. UN International Police Task Force (IPTF) spokesman Alexander Ivanko noted that some of the Serbs, who withstood intimidation by their own people last winter, now feel so harassed by Muslim thugs that they want to leave, Nasa Borba and Onasa reported on 26 July. Ivanko added that because of Muratovic's pledge, IPTF, IFOR and federal police have started patrols in the suburbs of Osjek and Ilidza. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, the international ombudsman's office opened its first branch on Serb-held territory to investigate human rights abuses, Onasa reported on 25 July. -- Patrick Moore

IRANIAN DELEGATION IN SARAJEVO.
Vice President Hasan Habibi arrived in Bosnia with a high-level delegation, Oslobodjenje reported on 26 July. He was met by Muratovic and will also have talks with President Alija Izetbegovic. Cultural and economic issues will top the agenda, especially Iranian assistance for post-war reconstruction. Tehran has already pledged $50 million in aid, and an economic agreement is expected to be signed following the first meeting of the new bilateral commission. Iran provided the mainly Muslim government army with weapons during the war and there is a hard-line faction in the governing Party of Democratic Action that is sympathetic to Tehran. But the vast majority of Bosnian Muslims are a secular, European people who want no part of Islamic fundamentalism. -- Patrick Moore

DEADLINE FOR BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTERS EXTENDED.
The OSCE's Bosnian office announced on 25 July an extension of the deadline for voter registration of Bosnian refugees abroad from 31 July to 5 August, Reuters reported on 26 July. Bosnian state television said the foreign ministry had asked the OSCE for an extension after finding that only 7% of eligible refugee voters has signed up as of 22 July. Around 1.4 million Bosnian refugees are dispersed in more than 35 countries, making it difficult for them to find out about the procedure for registration. -- Daria Sito Sucic

EU DELEGATION IN ZAGREB TO PRESSURE CROATS.
An EU delegation left for Zagreb on 25 July to hold talks with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on the Mostar crisis, AFP reported. The EU apparently hopes that Tudjman will pressure the Mostar Croats to participate in the new city council they have boycotted, citing election irregularities. Bosnian Federation Vice President Ejup Ganic, meanwhile, called an EU threat to withdraw its mission by 4 August unless the Croats play by the rules a "bad sign," Onasa reported. The Croatian Democratic Community said it would refuse to prolong the EU mandate unless the dispute over the ballot has been cleared. -- Fabian Schmidt

MOSQUE SET ABLAZE IN CROAT-CONTROLLED TOWN.
A mosque was set on fire on 25 July in the town of Prozor in central Bosnia, the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje reported the next day. Unidentified assailants broke into the mosque, dumped gasoline and set it ablaze. The mosque's inside was reportedly destroyed. The town had a 37% Muslim population before the war, Oslobodjenje reported. In other news, a Bosnian railroad official announced that the railroad from Sarajevo to Mostar, along with the destroyed Mostar train station, will reopen next week for the first time since the war, international agencies reported on 26 July. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BREAKTHROUGH IN RUMP YUGOSLAV-BOSNIAN RELATIONS?
Rump Yugoslav media continue coverage of reactions to the two-day visit to Belgrade by a fifteen-member Bosnian delegation, headed by Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic (See OMRI Daily Digest 24 and 25 July). Nasa Borba on 26 June reported remarks by Kasim Trnka, delegate member and Bosnia- Herzegovina's ambassador in Zagreb. According to Trnka, the landmark Belgrade visit failed to generate any substantial political breakthroughs, and any "establishing of bilateral diplomatic relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and [rump] Yugoslavia will have to wait." According to Trnka, Belgrade's insistence that Bosnia drop its "charges of genocide," and rump Yugoslavia's insistence on recognition as the successor state of Tito's Yugoslavia continue to block diplomatic progress. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIA UNHAPPY WITH HUNGARIAN RESPONSE.
Deputy Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu said on 24 July that Romania was dissatisfied with the Hungarian reply to its demand for clarifications concerning the statement released 5 July in Budapest on the Hungarian government's support for autonomy of ethnic Hungarian abroad, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. Comanescu said the statement created tensions, as did the announcement that Budapest is going to allot a fixed percentage of its budget to assist Hungarians living in neighboring countries. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS U.S. VISIT.
Teodor Melescanu returned to Bucharest on 25 July from a 10-day lobbying trip to the United States, Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported. Melescanu, who met with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, U.S. legislators, and other senior officials, said he was confident about Romania's prospect of being among the first former communist countries to be admitted into NATO as a full member. He reaffirmed Romania's opposition to a gradual expansion of the alliance that he said would create a new divide in Europe. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PREMIER MEETS WITH KUCHMA.
Andrei Sangheli met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 24 July in Foros, a resort in Crimea, BASA-press reported the following day. The two discussed economic cooperation, including cooperation in the energy sector; the implementation of the bilateral free-trade agreement; the mutual recognition of property rights; and the transit of Moldovan goods through Ukrainian territory. The sides reportedly agreed upon the volume and the conditions of deliveries of Ukrainian coal, but no precise data were released on the amount of coal the Moldova plans to import this fall or next spring. According to official statistics, Moldova imported some 2 million tons of Ukrainian coal in 1995. -- Dan Ionescu

PIRINSKI SAYS HE WON'T RESIGN.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party's presidential candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, said on 25 July that he will not withdraw his candidacy despite a Constitutional Court ruling that effectively bars him from the presidency (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1996), Duma reported. He accused the court of taking political decisions and of exceeding its mandate. Pirinski said "The situation in the country is complicated and tense enough and the Constitutional Court decision ... adds more tension between state institutions and society." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIA FINALLY ADOPTS COAT OF ARMS.
The parliament on 25 July adopted a new coat of arms, 24 chasa and Standart reported. Some 110 deputies voted for the Socialist proposal, 11 voted against, and seven abstained. The total number of deputies is 240. The coat of arms depicts a golden lion rampant in a dark red shield. The opposition walked out before the vote to protest the fact that the lion is not crowned. The opposition had demanded that the pre-1946 coat of arms of the monarchy -- which depicts three crowned lions -- be restored and that a referendum be held if consensus is not reached among the deputies. They argue the crown is a sign of state sovereignty, while most Socialists say it symbolizes the monarchy and is inappropriate for a republic. -- Stefan Krause

VAN DEN BROEK IN ALBANIA.
EU commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broek arrived in Tirana on 25 July to discuss with President Sali Berisha the current political and economic situation in Albania and its relations with the EU, AFP reported. He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Alexander Meksi and Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu. Van den Broek declined to comment on the content of the talks. He was also scheduled to meet Albania's opposition parties and ambassadors from the EU's 15 member states. Van den Broek will later fly to Macedonia for meetings with President Kiro Gligorov and Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle and Pete Baumgartner





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