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. --
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
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. --
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. --
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. --
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES END TO HARASSMENT OF SERBS.
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