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Newsline - July 29, 1996


PAPER WARNS OF ATTEMPTS TO CO-OPT COMMUNISTS.
The authorities hope to trick the leadership of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) into supporting the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, according to the latest edition of the nationalist weekly Zavtra, which has backed KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov and his coalition of communist and patriotic movements. The State Duma, which is dominated by left-wing deputies, will be under pressure to confirm Chernomyrdin in early August, since Yeltsin could dissolve the Duma if it refuses to confirm his nominee for prime minister three times. The authorities know that if KPRF deputies vote confidence in Chernomyrdin, they will be discredited in the eyes of their grass-roots followers, the paper asserted. Furthermore, the patriotic movements that supported Zyuganov for president may switch their allegiance to Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, one of Chernomyrdin's main rivals in the Yeltsin camp. -- Laura Belin

SHOKHIN DESCRIBES POSSIBLE GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS.
Presidential advisor Viktor Ilyushin is likely to become first deputy prime minister for social issues, according to First Deputy Duma Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 27 July. He also said that Presidential Economic Advisor Aleksandr Livshits was qualified to serve as first deputy prime minister for economic and financial issues. From Yabloko, Shokhin believes that Duma Member Tatyana Yarygina could lead a ministry dealing with social issues. Shokhin said that he would probably remain in the Duma rather than take a government post. -- Robert Orttung

RODIONOV ON MILITARY REFORM, NATO.
In his first major televised interview since his appointment as Defense Minister, Igor Rodionov told NTV's Itogi on 28 July that it will be "difficult, but possible" to transform the Russian military into an all-professional force by 2000, as President Yeltsin has ordered. He added, however, that the "necessary economic preconditions" would have to be created for such a professional military, which he suggested could remain at the current level of about 1.5 million troops, although he did not rule out further reductions. Currently only 50% of military personnel serve on a professional basis, while the rest are conscripts. Rodionov also reiterated his opposition to NATO enlargement, to which he said, "for some reason, colossal forces are being devoted." He dismissed as "just words" Western assurances that NATO enlargement does not threaten Russia, arguing that "we must draw conclusions from history." -- Scott Parrish

TsIK CHANGES RUNOFF RESULTS YET AGAIN.
The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) of Mordoviya has corrected the presidential runoff results in one of the republican constituencies, Ekho Moskvy reported on 26 July. An investigation conducted by the commission revealed that 702 votes (less than 0.001% of those who voted in the second round) were incorrectly counted as "against both candidates" while they were in fact cast for Gennadii Zyuganov. A TsIK representative, Nikolai Fadeev, acknowledged that it was a "technical mistake" but ruled out any possibility of deliberate forgery. A Communist Party Duma expert Vadim Solovev, who initiated the investigation, claims that at least in five other voting districts the runoff results were incorrectly counted. Last week, TsIK updated figures received in Dagestan (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya

EDITORIAL SHAKE-UP AT PRAVDA.
The pro-communist newspaper Pravda, which suspended publication on 24 July (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1996), may reappear soon, according to its weekly supplement Pravda-5 on 26 July. Pravda-5 also has a left-wing orientation, but its flashy format and subject matter appeal to a more youthful audience. Its circulation is about 270,000, while Pravda's has fallen to 200,000 in recent years. Pravda-5's top editor Vladimir Ryashin will reportedly replace Pravda's editor-in-chief Aleksandr Ilin, who was very close to Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Theodoros Giannikos, the Greek financial director of the joint stock company that publishes Pravda and Pravda-5, told Moskovskii komsomolets on 27 July that financial, not political concerns lay behind the decision to replace Ilin with a "more competent" editor. -- Laura Belin

REACTION TO ILYUKHIN ALLEGATIONS OF CIA PLOT.
Most Russian media ridiculed the allegations by Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukin that the CIA is plotting to overthrow Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 July 1996). NTV commented on 28 July that Ilyukin's remarks showed that "all is not in order with the heads" of leading Russian leftists, while Izvestiya dismissed Ilyukin's allegations as "ravings." Deputy Duma Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin also rejected Ilyukin's charges, and addressed an official apology to the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, while Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin said Ilyukhin should see a pschyotherapist, and accused him of deliberately fostering xenophobia. Nezavisimaya gazeta, however, published on 27 July a series of articles arguing that Ilyukin's allegations contain a grain of truth, contending that American policy in Belarus, Ukraine, and the rest of the CIS deliberately aims to undermine Russian influence there. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA DELEGATION IN CUBA.
A Duma delegation led by speaker Gennadii Seleznev visited Cuba on 25-28 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The delegation met Cuban leader Fidel Castro on 26 July, and while Castro said that "the Cuban people love Russians," he added that Cuban industry urgently needs Russian spare parts for its Soviet-era equipment. Seleznev said the issue should be resolved through intergovernmental talks. The Duma speaker expressed support for plans to complete the controversial unfinished Soviet-era nuclear plant at Juragua, but admitted that financing for the estimated $750 million project remains a problem. The delegation wraps up its Latin American tour, which began in Mexico, with a three-day visit to Venezuela. -- Scott Parrish

ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN GROZNY.
Some 200 people staged an unsanctioned demonstration in Grozny on 26 July to demand the resignation of the pro-Moscow Chechen government and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, AFP reported. Three of the organizers were detained, according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 26 July, the head of the OSCE mission in Chechnya, Tim Guldimann, met with pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev who has repeatedly criticized his mediation efforts, Reuters reported. Guldimann said he was in telephone contact with Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov and is confident that the planned meeting between Maskhadov and the head of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, will take place soon. Guldimann also denied Russian media reports that the OSCE had helped President Dzhokhar Dudaev to escape from Chechnya to Turkey via Azerbaijan. On 27 July Chechen and Russian representatives met to discuss arrangements for an exchange of prisoners, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

SOLDIERS BITTER ABOUT STAYING IN CHECHNYA.
Young conscripts who believed president Boris Yeltsin had promised they would be sent home from Chechnya have found out they were wrong, Reuters reported on 28 July. On 31 May, the president issued a decree saying that all those who had served in the combat zone for six months would be sent home. Some 20 conscripts told the agency that they found out after the election that the decree would apply only to those who had served this time before it was issued. -- Doug
Clarke

MORE BOMBS DISCOVERED.
A bomb was discovered on railway tracks near the city of Smolensk on 27 July, ITAR-TASS reported. It was defused without incident. The previous day another bomb was found in a room reserved for the military at a railway terminal in Astrakhan in the Volga region. The device was later destroyed by security forces. On 25 July a bomb exploded in a railway carriage in Volgograd. Last week a man claiming to be Chechen leader Salman Raduev threatened to conduct a bombing campaign against Russia's railways on the grounds that they constitute a military target. -- Penny Morvant

UNEMPLOYED DIE OF MALNUTRITION IN ARKHANGELSK.
A number of unemployed people and members of their families have died of malnutrition in Arkhangelsk Oblast, according to an official letter from the regional employment center to the Federal Employment Service, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 July citing Pravda severa. The letter said unemployment benefit payments are delayed for as long as seven months because of lack of funds. The region has a high unemployment rate: 8.5% compared with a national figure of 3.6% (in June). -- Penny Morvant

ANGRY WIVES GROUND AIR FORCE REGIMENT.
The wives of pilots in an air force regiment near Kursk have been forming human chains on the runway to protest the state's failure to pay their husbands' wages, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 26 July. The men are owed about 6 billion rubles ($1.2 million). One woman said a divisional commander had told them that criminal charges would be brought against them, AFP reported. Pilots' wives have also been picketing a landing strip in Murmansk. Their husbands have not been paid since May, according to RTR on 28 July. -- Penny Morvant

STRIKES, HUNGER STRIKES GATHER MOMENTUM IN FAR EAST.
About 300 workers are on hunger strike at a power station in Primore to protest wage arrears dating back to February, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 July. The protest, initially involving 50 workers, began on 26 July after representatives of a commission from the national energy company refused to meet with the workforce. Meanwhile, about 10,000 of Primore's miners are also on strike. The protest began with a hunger strike by five miners two weeks ago. The national coal company Rosugol transferred 7.5 billion rubles ($1.45 million) to Primorskugol on 26 July to help with the problem of wage arrears, but union leader Petr Kiryasov said the money was only a drop in the ocean. He said some miners are so desperate they have threatened to throw themselves down mine shafts and block the Trans-Siberian Railway. -- Penny Morvant



GEORGIA AND RUSSIA SIGN MILITARY TREATY.
Georgia's defense ministry on 28 July revealed that Defense Minister Lt.-Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze signed a military cooperation treaty with his Russian counterpart during his visit to Moscow the previous week, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement emphasized that Nadibaidze had been the first foreign military official to be received by newly appointed Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov. On 27 July, a Russian military spokesman had said the two would discuss the operation of Russian military bases in Georgia and the "flanks" restrictions of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. Georgia has agreed to "loan" Russia some of its entitlements. -- Doug Clarke

AZERBAIJANI TRADERS BEATEN.
Some 40 Azerbaijani traders were beaten by police during a 26 July raid on the Krasnogvardeiskii market in southern Moscow, RTR reported. One man was hospitalized. The ostensible purpose of the raid was to check the traders' residence papers, but witnesses reported that the police tore up the men's passports and registration documents. The Azerbaijani ambassador lodged a protest, and a Ministry of Interior investigation into the police action is under way. -- Peter Rutland

UZBEK ECONOMIC FIGURES RELEASED.
A government report summarizing Uzbekistan's economic development for the first half of 1996 highlights several positive trends, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 July. According to the report, the budget deficit is currently 2.1% of GNP, compared to 3.5% in the same period last year. The inflation rate dropped by over half from last year (now at 4-5% per month), real income rose by 16% comapred to the first half of 1995, and only 80 businesses are listed as in debt, compared to 630 last year. President Islam Karimov was reported as saying that the private sector now accounts for over 50% of industrial output and 95% of agricultural output, and that "the current year will become the year of economic growth for Uzbekistan." -- Roger Kangas

TAJIK CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT NEAR TOTAL COLLAPSE.
With fighting continuing in the Tavil-Dara region despite the Ashgabat ceasefire agreement signed on 20 July, the Tajik Defense Ministry says it will no longer hold back its forces in central Tajikistan, Russian Independent Television (NTV) reported on 27 July. Tajik Radio reported that two government soldiers were killed and five wounded in the Tavil-Dara region since the ceasefire came into effect. Hostilities continue to spread in the region with the town of Jirgatal being the latest area to report fighting. Opposition forces shelled the town for two hours on 25 July, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Bruce Pannier

OSH OBLAST GOVERNOR SACKED.
During President Askar Akayev's visit to the Osh Oblast of southern Kyrgyzstan on 27 July, the Osh "Kenesh" (regional council) voted to sack Governor Janysh Rustenbekov, Vechernii Bishkek reported on 29 July. Rustenbekov was critical of the results tallied from his oblast during the December 1995 presidential elections. Akayev reportedly won more than 50% of the vote from the Osh Oblast, where he is rumored to be unpopular. -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER WRAPS UP U.S. VISIT.
Pavlo Lazarenko ended a two-day working visit to the U.S. on 27 July, Ukrainian radio reported. Lazarenko met there with IMF representatives to discuss the organization's stand-by credit program for Ukraine and the release of a $1.5 billion stabilization loan at the end of the year to support the introduction of Ukraine's national currency, the hryvna. They discussed another credit program whereby some $3 billion would be released to Ukraine over the next three years. Lazarenko also met with World Bank President James Wolfenson. The two men agreed that further economic reforms in Ukraine would be possible only through macroeconomic stabilization and that such stabilization could be achieved only with international financing. -- Ustina Markus

INDEPENDENCE DAY ANNIVERSARY IN BELARUS.
Some 15,000 peopled rallied on 27 July to mark the fifth anniversary of Belarus's declaration of independence, Russian and international agencies reported. The authorized rally ended peacefully, despite the presence of some 10,000 fully armed security troops. Demonstrators shouted slogans against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and carried the former national red-and-white flags, instead of the new Soviet-style flags, as a sign of protest against the president's policies. Lukashenka the previous day said that Belarus was building an independent state "while preserving valuable links." He said the "Community of Russia and Belarus" was an expression of the people's protest "against the artificial break-up of a great country." -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN DEPUTIES CALL FOR IMPEACHING PRESIDENT.
At the Independence Day rally, representatives of the United Civic Party, the Social-Democratic Hramada, the Belarusian Popular Front, and other liberal parties called for a campaign to collect the signatures of those deputies in favor of impeaching President Lukashenka, ITAR-TASS reported. Article 104 of the Belarusian Constitution, adopted in March 1994, states that the president can be impeached for violating the constitution by a vote of at least two-thirds of the parliament. The issue of impeachment can be raised if at least 70 deputies sign a petition to that effect. -- Ustina Markus

FORMER ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER NOT TO BE STRIPPED OF IMMUNITY.
State Prosecutor Indrek Meelak on 26 July said he was closing the case the security police had opened against Edgar Savisaar because he find nothing criminal in his conduct, ETA reported. Meelak added he would not try to strip him of immunity as a parliament deputy. Savisaar was forced to resign as interior minister and Center Party chairman last fall in a scandal over the illegal taping of private conversations with other Estonian politicians. Savisaar subsequently regained the leadership of the Center Party, but some members withdrew from it in protest and formed the Progress Party. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIA'S REPUBLICAN PARTY TO MERGE WITH DEMOCRATIC PARTY SAIMNIEKS.
Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS) Chairman Ziedonis Cevers and Republican Party head Andris Plotnieks on 26 July signed an agreement whereby their parties will merge, BNS reported. The parties also issued a joint statement stating that they "both represent centrist views" and that they believe their merger will help create a stable and transparent political party system. Republican Party members are to be registered as DPS members by 1 September, and the party will cease to exist after the next DPS congress amends its statutes and adopts a new party program. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA, GERMANY AGREE ON NAZI COMPENSATION.
The German Foreign Ministry on 26 July announced that Germany will pay 2 million German marks ($1.5 million) in compensation to Lithuania for atrocities committed during the Nazi occupation, BNS reported. The money will be used to fund an old people's home, a nursing home, and two hospitals for surviving Nazi victims. Lithuania, in turn, agreed not to demand further compensation from Germany. Ignatz Bubis, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the compensation was "peanuts" and "extremely unsatisfactory for the roughly 300 survivors in Lithuania." Germany has reached a similar accord with Estonia and is negotiating one with Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH "WHITE BOOK" FOR EU MEMBERSHIP SUBMITTED TO BRUSSELS.
Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati has handed over Poland's "white book" on full EU membership to EU Ambassador in Warsaw Rolf Timmans, Zycie Warszawy reported on 29 July. The white book is Poland's answer to the questionnaire submitted by the European Commission to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. It consists of 2,664 pages and provides concrete details of Poland's application for full membership. According to Rosati, the material submitted by Poland will allow the Commission to assess Poland's progress in the protection of minority and civil rights, the development of a market economy, and the harmonization of Polish law with the EU's legal and regulatory framework. Poland is the last of the four Central European countries to hand in its "white book." -- Ben Slay

POLISH JUSTICE MINISTER REFUSES TO RULE ON POST-COMMUNIST PARTY'S DEBTS.
Polish Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki has refused to rule on the issue of 20 million zloty ($7.4 million) in communist-era debts that judicial officials claim are the responsibility of the Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (SdRP), Gazeta wyborcza reported 27-28 July. The SdRP--which forms the core of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the senior partner in Poland's coalition government--is the legal successor of the Communist Party (PZPR), which ruled Poland for 40 years. A number of criminal and civil claims against the PZPR's assets have been made since the party's liquidation in 1990. However, the SdRP, the largest inheritor of the PZPR's assets, has managed to avoid making payments by arguing that its coffers are empty--despite the fact that the SLD is widely thought to have the best-developed infrastructure of Poland's political parties. -- Ben Slay

CZECH PARLIAMENT ON CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS.
By a margin of one vote, the parliament on 26 July rejected a proposal by the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) that a special law on the restitution of Catholic Church property be passed, Czech media reported. The CSSD objects to government plans to issue decrees on returning a large amount of former Church property, thereby circumventing the parliament. The minority government coalition, however, suffered a defeat the same day when a Communist Party proposal was approved according to which the government is to submit to the parliament a plan for separating Church and state and a blueprint for financing Churches before the restitution of Church property begins. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES U.S. OF DOUBLE STANDARDS.
Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 26 July that the U.S. Congress is "wrong" to leave his country off the list of financial assistance recipients for NATO integration. "If Hungary, with its government's nationalistic policies [and] interference in the internal affairs [of neighboring countries]...becomes a NATO member, then a strategy of double standards is more than obvious," Meciar said. He commented that Slovakia's omission from the list is partly in reaction to internal political developments and geopolitical relations, stressing that "many untruths are said about us abroad." Nonetheless, he insisted that Slovakia's interest in NATO membership has not declined. Meanwhile, Peter Weiss, deputy chairman of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left, accused the ruling coalition of failing to take the U.S. Congress's decision seriously. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN DEPUTIES DISCUSS AUTONOMY.
Slovak and Hungarian deputies met in Bratislava on 26 July to discuss a declaration issued in Budapest earlier this month calling for autonomy for Hungarians living in neighboring countries, Slovak media reported. The Bratislava meeting--initiated by Slovak Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dusan Slobodnik--focused on explaining the meaning of the word "autonomy," which was not defined in the Hungarian declaration. Slobodnik's Hungarian counterpart, Matyas Eorsi, said the Hungarians called for "neither territorial nor ethnic autonomy" in their declaration. Slobodnik told CTK that he "can imagine" discussions of educational and cultural autonomy for Slovakia's Hungarians; however, Hungarian politicians in Slovakia would first have to "change their behavior." The committee members agreed to continue discussions this fall. -- Sharon Fisher

TRIAL DATE SET FOR SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN DAM CONTROVERSY.
The long-standing dispute between Slovakia and Hungary over the Gabcikovo hydroelectric power plant could be settled by next spring, Hungarian media reported on 26 July. The International Court of Justice in The Hague will begin considering the two sides' positions on 17 February 1997. Hungarian Foreign Ministry official Gyorgy Szenasi said the court will pass a ruling of principle and that the two sides will have to reach an agreement on its implementation within six months. Szenasi noted that experts representing Hungary are optimistic about that country's position. -- Sharon Fisher



EU WARNS CROATIA OVER MOSTAR BOYCOTT.
The EU on 26 July warned Croatia that it will be responsible if Mostar's Croats continue to boycott the Mostar City Council, AFP reported. The city council was elected last month in Bosnia's first post-war poll. Dutch ambassador Jozef Scheffers informed the Croatian Foreign Ministry that Croatia will face consequences in its relations with the EU if it does not convince the Bosnian Croats to accept the election results. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said he will "seriously consider" the EU ultimatum but stressed he will not accept "solutions that are degrading or unjust for the Croatian people," Vecernji list reported on 29 July. But Croatia's hard-line defense minister, Gojko Susak, said he backed the Croatian boycott because "the Bosnian Croats would have no chance in the [September] general elections" if they accepted the results of the Mostar poll. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA RALLY FOR AUTONOMY.
An estimated several thousand Serbs rallied in the town of Vukovar on 28 July, demanding autonomy and the extension of the one-year mandate for the U.N. Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) before the Serb-held enclave comes under Croatia's jurisdiction in January 1997, Reuters reported. Rally organizers also demanded "civil rights guarantees for Serbs and political and economic autonomy from the central government in Zagreb." The news agency observed that the Serbs' demands for autonomy may be "unrealistic," particularly at this stage and particularly since rump Yugoslavia has agreed to the Croatian army's jurisdiction over its internationally recognized borders. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIAN SERBS BRING LEGAL ACTION AGAINST BELGRADE.
Thirty Serbian refugees from Croatia are to bring legal action against Belgrade on charges of knowingly violating and ignoring internationally recognized regulations and conventions on the treatment of refugees, Onasa reported. Natasa Kandic, head of the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Foundation, said the thirty are among the some 40,000 ethnic Serbian refugees from Croatia's Krajina region who were systematically press-ganged by Belgrade authorities and forced to fight in front-line combat units. According to Onasa, an estimated 4,000-6,000 ethnic Serbs from Croatia who were forcibly conscripted by Belgrade continue to be listed as killed, wounded, captured, or missing. -- Stan Markotich

EXPLOSIONS AT CROATIAN ARMS FACTORY INJURE 18.
Two major explosions and six minor ones rocked the arms factory in Slavonski Brod, 250 kilometers east of Zagreb, injuring 18 people, AFP reported on 26 July, citing Croatian radio. The factory, which produced weapons for the Croatian army during the 1991-1992 war against the rebel Croatian Serbs, was razed to the ground. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIA, IRAN SIGN MEMORANDUM ON ECONOMIC COOPERATION.
Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic and First Iranian Vice President Hasan Habibi, meeting in Sarajevo on 27 July, signed a memorandum on trade and economic cooperation, Onasa reported. The two countries will also cooperate in civilian air traffic. The officials discussed the reconstruction of the Zenica steel works, with the Iranian side agreeing to release this year a fifth of the $50 million credit pledged to Bosnia-Herzegovina for setting up small companies and for reconstruction. -- Daria Sito Sucic

RUMP YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT ON UPCOMING BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
Signaling that relations between Belgrade and the current Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale are under strain, Zoran Lilic has said that the 14 September elections in Bosnia will "eliminate from power the illegal regimes...[whose mandates] ran out a long time ago." He added that the elections will pave the way for the consolidation of democratic institutions, AFP reported on 28 July, citing local Belgrade media reports. Lilic also praised the international community's peace efforts in Bosnia, noting that the normalization of relations with the other republics of the former Yugoslavia was one of Belgrade's priority. -- Stan Markotich

MONTENEGRIN ELECTIONS SCHEDULED.
Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic on 27 July announced that republican parliamentary elections will be held on 3 November, Tanjug reported. Balloting is expected to take place in accordance with recent controversial legislation dividing Montenegro into 14 electoral districts and stipulating a proportional representation system of voting (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 July 1996). It is speculated that parliamentary elections in Serbia will be held on or around the same day. -- Stan Markotich

ILIESCU NOMINATED PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 26 July nominated Ion Iliescu as its candidate in the fall presidential elections, Romanian and Western media reported. PDSR Executive Chairman Adrian Nastase made the announcement at a nationwide convention. Iliescu, 66, was elected Romania's first post-communist president in 1990 and re-elected in 1992. The PDSR fared poorly in the June local elections, and its image has been seriously damaged by accusations of corruption. Opinion polls suggest that Iliescu may retain his post but is unlikely to win an outright majority in the first round of voting, scheduled for 3 November. His main rivals are Emil Constantinescu, leader of the Democratic Convention of Romania, and Petre Roman, former prime minister under Iliescu and chairman of the Democratic Party--National Salvation Front. -- Dan Ionescu

UPDATE ON BULGARIAN GRAIN CRISIS.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler on 27 July announced that the EU will help Bulgaria to deal with its grain shortage, Reuters reported. He said specialists will visit Bulgaria in September to help analyze its agricultural problems, adding that the EU is ready to provide assistance but needs a clear picture of the country's grain and land market to plan investment credits. He urged the government to speed up agricultural reforms in order to raise productivity. Bulgarian farmers are reluctant to undertake extensive planting because the state-run grain purchasing agency pays only a fraction of world market prices. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 26 July told the parliament that Bulgaria must import 1.5 million metric tons of grain to secure sufficient supplies. Demokratsiya on 27 July reported that Videnov has unblocked the military and state grain reserves and that the opposition may ask the prosecutor-general to investigate the case. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN CHURCH TO ANATHEMATIZE ANOTHER CHURCH'S HEAD.
The official Bulgarian Orthodox Church, headed by Patriarch Maksim, on 26 July announced it will anathematize Metropolitan Pimen, Reuters reported. Pimen heads clergymen who oppose Maksim and accuse him of collaborating with the former communist regime. Pimen's followers also claim that Maksim was appointed rather than properly elected patriarch when he took office in 1971. Their election of Pimen as the new patriarch on 3 July has not been recognized by the state or the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The anathematizing is expected to be carried out in March 1997, a priest said. Declaring someone anathema is a final and irrevocable act formally severing that person from the Church. So far, the Holy Synod has expelled all rebel bishops from it ranks but has not anathematized them. -- Stefan Krause

U.S. URGE NEW ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA.
U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on 27 July demanded that new elections be held in Albania, Reuters and Gazeta Shqiptare reported. Burns said Tirana did not respond satisfactorily to foreign observers' complaints about the recent parliamentary elections. He also noted that re-runs in 17 constituencies in mid-June were also unsatisfactory. Until now, the U.S. had only asked for a partial re-run to correct obvious irregularities. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rudolf Perina said the U.S. is reviewing its ties with Albania, including financial aid. Meanwhile in Tirana, the ruling Democratic Party blamed the Greek lobby in the U.S. for the change in the American position. Visiting EU Commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broek the previous day said the local elections in October will be a test influencing Albania's future ties with the EU. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave











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