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Newsline - August 6, 1996


CHECHENS LAUNCH MAJOR ASSAULT ON GROZNY.
During the early morning of 6 August, up to 300 Chechen militants attacked Grozny, and heavy fighting was reported in several parts of the city, Western and Russian agencies reported. Simultaneous attacks were launched on the towns of Argun and Gudermes, east of the capital. Speaking at a public rally in Grozny on 5 August, pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev expressed his readiness to include in the new Chechen government any members of the armed opposition who are prepared to surrender their weapons, AFP reported. NTV reported on 5 August that Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov had laid down new conditions for a resumption of peace talks and is demanding that Russian forces withdraw to the positions they occupied at the time of the signing of the 10 June Nazran agreements and release all civilians forcibly detained since that date. -- Liz Fuller

EXPLOSION ON PRIME MINISTER'S ROUTE.
An explosion occurred on 6 August on a Moscow highway only minutes before Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was about to drive by on his way to work, Russian and Western agencies reported. A police spokesman said it was too early to say whether the blast was directed against Chernomyrdin. Two days earlier, a hand grenade was found on a train at the VDNKh metro station in northern Moscow, and on 3 August a gunman held up a passenger train en route from Moscow to Mariupol for 30 minutes before being arrested. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN RETURNS TO WORK.
President Boris Yeltsin returned to work at the Kremlin 5 August after spending three weeks at the Barvikha sanitarium, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin has decided to take his oath of office on a specially prepared copy of the constitution adopted at his insistence in a 1993 referendum. Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais has already rejected the idea of performing an ode to the president at the inauguration, figuring it would be too bombastic given the poor state of the Russian economy. The ceremony is expected to last about an hour and Yeltsin's speech only 10 minutes due to his poor health, The New York Times reported. His first inauguration took place as part of a session of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies. -- Robert Orttung

MINERS' STRIKE ENDS IN PRIMORE.
Miners in Primorskii Krai resolved to go back to work on 6 August after they started receiving back wages, ITAR-TASS reported. About 10,000 miners took part in an unofficial strike that began on 15 July. Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik, who spent two days in the region, said that Moscow would earmark 4.6 trillion rubles for bailing out the region's fuel and energy sector. He said tough measures need to be taken, including raising electricity prices to 530 rubles per kW hour and removing commercial intermediaries from the chain linking coal producers and customers. Meanwhile, about 50 miners at a pit in Tula began a sit-in on 4 August and work has stopped at 19 of the 23 pits belonging to Rostovugol in the eastern Donbass, NTV reported on 5 August. About 6,000 miners and their families held a meeting in Sholokhov Raion in Rostov Oblast to protest wage arrears. -- Penny Morvant

DEPUTIES PUSH FOR DISCUSSION OF PRIMORSKII KRAI.
Deputies from Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) are calling for a State Duma discussion of the debt and energy crisis facing Primorskii Krai during the special session of the chamber scheduled for 10 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The session has been called to approve President Boris Yeltsin's choice of Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime minister. The deputies have collected 20 of the 90 signatures necessary to put the issue on the agenda. The Our Home Is Russia (NDR) faction has been trying to block Duma discussion of the issue. DVR is also planning to introduce a bill that would give the federal government the power to remove elected governors from their offices in some situations, another idea opposed by the NDR since it wants to maintain good relations with the regional leaders. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV STRESSES MODERATION, ACCUSES GOVERNMENT OF PLAYING "GAME."
Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov told ITAR-TASS on 5 August that his party has firmly rejected "radical methods of struggle" and that unity among all left-wing movements would only be possible when "those who have remained in the last century" recognize that the new political environment requires new methods of battle. On the same day, he accused the government of deliberately withholding money owed to striking coal miners in order to exacerbate tension in society, NTV and Russian TV (RTR) reported. The ultimate purpose of the government's "game," according to Zyuganov, is "the further collapse of the Russian Federation." Zyuganov has consistently said that Communists and their left-wing allies in parliament will decide whether to confirm Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin only after the government reveals its economic program. -- Laura Belin

COLONEL KILLED IN VORONEZH; ANOTHER ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT FAILS.
A Russian army colonel was killed on 5 August in his apartment building in Volgograd, ORT reported. Colonel Yurii Kim, rear services deputy commander of the 20th Motor Rifle Division of the 8th Guard Corps, was killed by a bomb which exploded when he stepped into the elevator. Kim was reportedly involved in business activities. He served in Chechnya with current Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, who caused a stir recently by accusing senior Defense Ministry officers of corruption. Some press reports have accused Rokhlin of involvement in dubious financial transactions when he was based in Volgograd. Also on 5 August, an unidentified attacker fired eight shots at the general director of the Nizhnevartovskneft oil company, Khakim Gumerskii, Delovoi vtornik reported on 6 August. Gumerskii was seriously injured. -- Penny Morvant

CRIME RATE FALLS SLIGHTLY IN FIRST HALF OF YEAR.
About 1.3 million crimes were recorded in Russia from January to June 1996, 3% less than in the first half of 1995, according to the State Statistics Committee. There was a marked increase in the number of drug-related crimes. The crime rate fell in more than 60 regions of Russia, including Moscow. According to Moskovskii komsomolets on 6 August, 53,254 crimes were reported in the capital, a 1.3% fall from corresponding figures for 1995. The number of murders fell from 962 to 954 cases; the incidence of assault, larceny, and hostage taking also fell. The number of rape cases in Moscow, however, increased sharply. 237 women have been raped in Moscow since the beginning of the year, a 22% increase over the same period of 1995. -- Penny Morvant

ORT MANAGEMENT CRITICIZED.
The 51% state-owned Channel 1 broadcaster Russian Public TV (ORT) should not call itself "public," since it only serves a narrow group of financial and political interests, according to Izvestiya on 6 August. The paper said Boris Berezovskii, deputy chairman of the ORT board of directors, wields enormous power over programming decisions. Berezovskii owns about 16% of the shares in ORT (other private investors own between 3% and 5%), and he helped finance the presidential campaigns of both Boris Yeltsin and Aleksandr Lebed. The titular chairman of the ORT board, Aleksandr Yakovlev, "has nothing to do with" running the network. In fact, the paper said, ORT's board of directors is "fictitious," as is its board of trustees. According to Izvestiya, other figures who play an active role in ORT include presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais and Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Ignatenko, who also heads the state-run ITAR-TASS news agency. -- Laura Belin

NEW ST. PETERSBURG ADMINISTRATION UNVEILED.
St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev presented his administration of 15 people to the public on 5 August, Radio Rossii reported. Six members of the new government, including Yakovlev, worked in the previous administration. Yakovlev announced that his government's most important tasks will be to overcome the city's financial crisis, improve performance of local industrial and construction enterprises, and revive social welfare. These tasks will be the responsibility of the two first deputy governors, Vyacheslav Shcherbakov and Igor Artemev. Both of them were candidates in the election but withdrew from the race to throw their support behind Yakovlev. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA PROTESTS TURKEY'S REFUSAL TO ADMIT ZHIRINOVSKY.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called in the Turkish charge d'affaires in Moscow and expressed "bewilderment" with Ankara's recent decision to deny ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky an entry visa, Russian media reported. Zhirinovsky had planned to vacation in a Turkish coastal resort, but he was not allowed to board a plane in Moscow on 1 August because he did not have a visa. Zhirinovsky, trained as a specialist in Turkish affairs, was expelled from Turkey in 1970 on charges of distributing communist propaganda. He had been working there as a translator. -- Scott Parrish

MOSCOW CITY TAKES OVER ZIL AUTO PLANT.
The Moscow City government will take over majority ownership of the city's ailing auto giant, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 August. The city will buy 30% of ZIL stock from the holding company Mikrodin to add to the 25% it already owns. ZIL is running at a loss and was on the verge of firing several thousand workers. Last year, it produced 10,000 vehicles, half of its output in 1994. -- Peter Rutland

ECONOMIC SLUMP CONTINUES.
The economy continued to decline in the first half of this year, according to official statistics reported by Finansovye izvestiya on 6 August. GDP dropped by 5% over the same period in 1995, while industrial output fell 4%, agricultural production fell 7%, and the volume of investment plunged by 14%. Although the monthly rate of inflation dropped to 0.7% in July, the situation in the financial sphere is deteriorating. The budget deficit as a proportion of revenue went up from 22% in January-June 1995 to 47% this year, and wage arrears reached 29.8 trillion rubles ($5.7 billion at the current exchange rate) in July. The proportion of loss-making industrial enterprises increased from 26% of the total in January-May 1995 to 36% during the same period this year. -- Natalia Gurushina

FOKKER DEAL CHALLENGED.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the Yakovlev air corporation (YAK) intends to conclude a $261 million takeover of the ailing Dutch firm Fokker. Aleksandr Yermishev, the director of the Saratov aircraft plant, has come out against the deal, complaining that the money could be used to retool three domestic plants, NTV reported on 5 August. YAK argues that the deal would give them access to Fokker's service network in 60 countries and facilitate the international certification of their own aircraft. Also, YAK intends to transfer the manufacture of fuselages for Fokker planes to the Saratov plant, which is part of the YAK corporation. -- Natalia Gurushina



NEWSPAPER CLOSED DOWN IN AZERBAIJAN.
The Azerbaijani Information and Press Ministry on 1 August ordered a halt to the publication of the partly Turkish-owned daily newspaper Avrasiya (its editor is Hurriyet's Baku correspondent), according to the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Sans Frontieres. Information and Press Minister Nariman Hasan-Zade told Avrasiya's editor that the paper had been shut down because of six recent articles on controversial topics including the Gebele early-warning radar station and Azerbaijani-Iranian relations. -- Liz Fuller

GEORGIAN ARMY MANEUVERS.
On 5 August, 3,000 Georgian troops began three days of maneuvers in western Georgia close to the border with Abkhazia under the personal supervision of Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze, BGI reported. The Abkhaz army had held exercises near Sukhumi on 1-2 August under the supervision of Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba and President Vladislav Ardzinba, according to reports in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 3 August and Interfax on 1 August monitored by the BBC. -- Liz Fuller

EMIGRATION FROM GEORGIA.
Between 800,000 and 1 million people, or approximately 20% of the total population, have left Georgia over the past five years, generally for economic reasons, according to ITAR-TASS on 27 July and Russian Public TV (ORT) on 5 August. The majority of emigres are university graduates under 35 years of age. -- Liz Fuller

YEREVAN UNOFFICIALLY LOBBIES ANKARA.
Armenian parliamentary deputy Telman Ter-Petrossyan was in Ankara on a private visit recently to lobby the Turkish government to open up its border for trade with Armenia, Cumhuriyet reported on 5 August. Along with other unnamed businessmen, the elder brother of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan held talks with Turkish parliamentarians, businessmen, and journalists to encourage Turkey to buy Armenian electricity and cement, and to accept Armenia as a market for Turkish goods and as a transit country for Turkmen and Russian natural gas. -- Lowell Bezanis

UN SPECIAL ENVOY MEETS WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT.
Gerd Dietrich Merrem, the UN Special Envoy to Tajikistan, met with President Imomali Rakhmonov on 5 August to discuss the implementation of the Ashgabat ceasefire agreement, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement allows for prisoner exchanges and UN monitoring of the situation in the contested Tavil Dara region. Last week, UN observers attempted to reach the city of Tavil Dara but were unsuccessful, RFE/RL reported. Merrem said that the prisoner exchange is important for "strengthening trust" between the two sides. Rakhmonov again reiterated his willingness to hold talks with the opposition, as long as there are no conditions attached. -- Roger Kangas



UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MAKES MORE CABINET APPOINTMENTS.
Leonid Kuchma issued decrees on 5 August re-appointing several top government officials, Ukrainian TV reported. The president re-appointed Mykhailo Zubets as deputy prime minister, Vasyl Hureyev as economics minister, Valerii Maleyev as minister of machine building, military industry and conversion, Valerii Mazur as industry minister, Valerii Samoplavsky as forestry minister and Dmytro Ostapenko as culture minister. In other news, Ukrainian TV reported on 5 August that employees of Ukrainian State Radio have sent an appeal to the Ukrainian leadership demanding payment of up to four months in back wages. The government owes radio employees 70 billion karbovantsi ($378,000).They also complained that the government has not been paying the radio company's telephone and electricity bills, which has resulted in random brownouts and disconnections. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN NAVY COMMANDER BLASTS FLEET SHIPS.
The commander of the Ukrainian navy, Vice Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy, said in Kyiv that Ukraine should renegotiate the deal dividing the Black Sea Fleet ships because the 54 vessels slated to be transferred to Ukraine's navy are inoperative, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 5 August. Bezkorovainy accused Russia of making the ships useless, and then transferring them to Ukraine; in one case, power generators were removed from three submarines to be transferred to Ukraine. Bezkorovainy said he was prepared to delete his signature from the agreement, and that it was senseless to accept the ships since most were nothing more than scrap metal. Bezkorovainy also said the Ukrainian navy would be one-fourth the size of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet and would consist primarily of small warships with crews of 70 to 80 people. He said Ukraine would build six new warships and put nine others back in service after repairs. -- Ustina Markus and Doug Clarke

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON REFERENDUM, OPPOSITION.
In what has become a ritual, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka gave a lengthy television address in which he denounced opposition leaders Zyanon Paznyak and Syarhei Naumchyk as "terminally ill cases," Reuters reported on 5 August. Both men are seeking asylum in the U.S. He told viewers that the opposition would become increasingly violent and will "break in through apartment windows and rape your wives and daughters." He reiterated his intention of holding a referendum on extending his term from five to seven years, broadening his powers, banning land ownership, and changing Belarus's national holiday from 27 July when the republic declared independence, to 3 July, when the Soviets liberated Minsk from German occupation. Lukashenka also said there was no need to hold further by-elections to fill 51 parliamentary seats, because "deputies don't keep their promises. They had promised to back the president, but have been lying ever since." -- Ustina Markus

LITHUANIAN ARMY'S ADMINISTRATION TO BE REDUCED.
General Staff Chief Lt.-Col. Valdas Tutkus told BNS on 2 August that fusing the general staff with the defense ministry would result in the reduction of about 70 people (about one-third of the staff). The reorganization, to be completed by winter, will help restructure the army in accordance with NATO standards and strengthen civilian control over the armed forces. -- Saulius Girnius

DANISH MINISTER SUPPORTS LIFTING VISA REGIME WITH LATVIA.
Interior Minister Britte Weiss told Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele on 5 August in Riga that Denmark is willing to lift the visa regime in relations with Latvia, BNS reported. They also discussed cooperation in the sphere of territorial reform, illegal migration, and registration of residents. -- Saulius Girnius

GROWING SUPPORT IN POLAND FOR EUROPEAN INTEGRATION.
According to a poll conducted from 24 to 29 May, 80% of Poles would vote to join the EU, while 7% would vote against, compared to 72% for and 9% against in 1995. The survey was taken by the Public Opinion Research Center and published by Rzeczpospolita on 6 August. Only 6% believe in the immediate admission of Poland in the EU, 49% believe it will take five years to gain admission. According to an earlier EU-commissioned Eurobarometer survey, Poles and Romanians were the keenest of all CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEans to join the EU. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH OPPOSITION PARTY ACCUSES KISZCZAK OF COMMITTING A CRIME.
The Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP), led by former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, accused former Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak of committing a crime against the interests of the Polish nation, Rzeczpospolita reported on 5 August. In the 1980s Kiszczak -- one of the architects of martial law initiated in 1981 -- concluded agreements with the East German secret police (Stasi), allowing it to conduct intelligence against Polish citizens and institutions, Olszewski said. Olszewski said former Solidarity leaders, including former President Lech Walesa, needed to answer whether they concluded a secret agreement granting immunity to Kiszczak and former Polish President Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski in 1989. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH-KYRGYZ "RADAR" DEAL IN PERIL.
Although the sale was approved more than 1 year ago, the Czechs have not delivered a "Tamara" electronic detection system to Kyrgyzstan because the Kyrgyz have not paid the $20 million it costs, CTK reported on 3 August, citing the daily Mlada fronta Dnes. Supposedly able to detect even stealth aircraft, Tamara is built by Tesla Pardubice, and the sale was said to have saved the firm from bankruptcy. Often called a radar system, Tamara in fact sends out no signals of its own. Instead, it detects and analyses the electronic transmissions from its targets. The report said experts believe the sale will not take place. -- Doug Clarke

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTRY: HUNGARIAN EXPLANATION NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Slovak Foreign Ministry representative Emil Kuchar said on 5 August that Hungary's explanation of its position on a declaration calling for autonomy for Hungarians in neighboring countries "did not fulfill Slovakia's expectations," TASR reported. Kuchar delivered the ministry's opinion during a meeting with the Hungarian charge d'affaires in Bratislava, Pal Benyo. The Hungarian declaration, issued at a Budapest summit last month, caused concern in neighboring countries as well as in the EU and U.S., the ministry said, adding that Slovakia rejects the "institutionalization of ethnic differences," which "disrupts the cultural mosaic of an open, civil society." Kuchar also discussed the situation with representatives of the German, French, and British embassies, while the ministry's State Secretary, Jozef Sestak, met with U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ralph Johnson. In Budapest, Slovak Ambassador to Hungary Eva Mitrova delivered Slovakia's response to Hungary's Foreign Ministry. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY PUBLICIZES PRIME MINISTER'S PLEDGE.
Pravda on 6 August published Vladimir Meciar's written pledge to the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), in which he guarantees a halt to privatization until the National Property Fund (FNM) boards are restructured to include opposition deputies. The pledge, dated 21 June, was signed by Meciar during a coalition crisis. Although the FNM boards will not be reconstructed until September at the earliest, privatization continued on 1 August with the sale of 41 firms. SDL deputy Lubomir Fogas said his party considers this step "an expression of Meciar's political unreliability." FNM Presidium President Stefan Gavornik said on 5 August that under pressure from the ministers of agriculture, economy, and construction and public works, preparations are being made for the privatization of other firms, including banks, Praca reported. -- Sharon Fisher

RFE/RL TO COMPLY WITH SLOVAK POLICE REQUEST.
RFE/RL plans to give police investigators a transcript of an interview with an eyewitness of the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, Sme reported on 6 August. RFE/RL Director of Broadcasting Robert Gillette told Sme that the station will provide it "as a gesture of goodwill towards Slovak authorities and in the hope that the investigation will be fully and justly resolved." Police investigator Jozef Ciz asked RFE/RL for a copy in late July, after a prosecutor rejected his adjournment of the investigation for lack of evidence. The interview was broadcast by RFE/RL one week after the incident in late August 1995. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY'S SMALLHOLDERS PARTY REJECTS EXTREMIST LEADER'S CALL FOR MERGER.
Jozsef Torgyan, Chairman of the opposition Independent Smallholder's Party (FKGP), on 5 August rejected Istvan Csurka's proposal to merge with the opposition Christian Democrats and Csurka's party, Hungarian media reported. Csurka, president of the radical right-wing, non-parliamentary Hungarian Justice and Life Party, suggested that the three parties' leaders resign "for the benefit of a joint candidate for the post of prime minister" in the 1998 general elections. Torgyan said he is not willing to "smash apart the FKGP as [was] done by the Nazis and the communists," and that his mandate is to make his party the biggest in Hungary, one that will "defeat liberalism and communism." Further, he rejected Csurka's recent call for "civil disobedience." Torgyan's populist rhetoric brought his party to the top of popularity polls in Hungary last fall. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

EX-HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER TO JOIN WORLD BANK.
Former Finance Minister Lajos Bokros has been named a senior consultant with the World Bank, Hungarian media reported on 3 August. A statement released by bank Vice President Jean Francois Richard said Bokros will work in the institute's development department and focus on capital movements, bank reform and privatization. Bokros resigned as Hungary's finance minister in February. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



MOSTAR NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE.
Talks broke off again in the early morning of 6 August in the dispute between Croats and Muslims over the joint administration of Mostar, Reuters reported the same day. The EU had extended the 4 August deadline for its withdrawal if the Muslims and Croats do not agree over the administration of the divided city. EU spokesman Dragan Gasic said that only "half a sentence" was keeping the two sides from resolving the crisis. Talks are to be continued on 6 August to try to amend the disputed document. Croats want the city council to be a "provisional" body until the Bosnian federation's constitutional court rules on Croat complaints of voting irregularities. Meanwhile, the daily Oslobodjenje on 6 August reported that a supreme court rejected the Croat complaint as "groundless," but it is not clear whether it was the Bosnian federation Supreme Court or Bosnia-Herzegovina's Supreme Court. -- Daria Sito Sucic

IFOR FINDS BIG SERB ARMS CACHE.
Italian NATO troops accidentally came upon a major Bosnian Serb arms depot while looking for potential polling sites in Markovici, northeast of Sarajevo. The cache had not been registered with IFOR and contains 1,000 tons of weapons and ammunition occupying a space of 1,200 square meters, AFP reported on 5 August. At least 4,000 Serbian civilians mobbed the 30 Italians as they tried to begin carting off the ammunition, a job that IFOR said would require 100 trucks to complete. Two Bosnian Serb officers claimed that the site was about to be registered with NATO, but the Italians noted that it had not been declared before and was dangerously concealed near civilian housing. The crowd in any event forced the Italians to return to the depot with their trucks, the BBC noted. Under they Dayton agreement such unauthorized caches can be confiscated and destroyed. -- Patrick Moore

MUSLIMS ATTACK "SERBS."
A Muslim crowd of about 100 persons, mainly women and teenagers, blocked a UN-protected convoy in Ilidza on 4 August. The International Police Task Force (IPTF) was attempting to escort what the Muslims believed to be two busses of Serbian civilians wanting to return to the Sarajevo suburb of Osjek. The Muslims damaged IPTF vehicles with bricks and rocks, and a UN translator was slightly injured, news agencies reported. The busses turned out, however, to be carrying Muslims. UN spokesman Patrik Svensson said that the incident was probably designed to intimidate the remaining 240 Serbs living in Osjek. The opposition in Sarajevo has charged the governing Party of Democratic Action of trying to pack the suburbs with Muslim refugees from eastern Bosnia in order to change the ethnic and political balance. -- Patrick Moore

TUDJMAN CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF RECAPTURE OF KNIN . . .
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 5 August attended a celebration of the first anniversary of the recapture of the former rebel Serb stronghold of Knin by Croatian forces, AFP reported. Knin, which was a beginning point of the four-year Serb rebellion, represented Tudjman's greatest military victory. But the Croatian Helsinki Committee on 3 August released a report saying that at least 115 Croatian Serbs were "arbitrarily executed" in the months following the August 1995 retaking of the city and that 110 others "disappeared." The Committee also accused senior officials, including Tudjman, of knowing about the atrocities and not doing anything about them. It blamed the Croatian government for failing to prevent criminal acts from taking place after the offensive, while at the same time creating obstacles for exiled Serbs to return to Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic

. . . WHILE SERB RADICAL LEADER SAYS KRAJINA BELONGS TO THE SERBS.
Accused war criminal and leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Vojislav Seselj, said on the occasion of the first anniversary of Croatia's reclaiming of its Krajina territory from rebel Serbs, that Krajina is "simply occupied and forcibly taken from our people." Seselj vowed he would use all "peaceful and democratic" means to work towards the goal of retaking Krajina for the Serbs. Beta on 5 August quoted the SRS leader observing that "if the French had to wait nearly fifty years to reclaim Alsace-Lorraine from Germany ... and so we Serbs will have to wait for a better reconfiguration of forces in the international community ... to forge the unity of all Serb lands." -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN LEADERS REACT TO NEWS OF KRAJINA LIBERATION ARMY.
Several prominent Serbs have reacted negatively to news of the formation of the self-proclaimed terrorist group known as the Krajina Liberation Army (KAO), which has vowed to wage terrorist campaigns against "Serbian traitors" and Croatia for its having reclaimed Krajina (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 August 1996). Beta on 2 August reported that Mihajlo Vucinovic, president of the association representing Krajina refugees, said that Zagreb "could hardly wait for the KOA to be formed so it could justify continued discrimination against Serbs staying in Croatia and keep those who wished from returning." Even paramilitary leader and accused war criminal Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic offered a condemnation, saying the KOA can accomplish "nothing through terrorism." -- Stan Markotich

SUPREME COURT JUDGE: ILIESCU'S CANDIDACY UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
In an interview with the daily Romania libera, Judge Paul Florea of the Romanian Supreme Court said incumbent president Ion Iliescu's candidacy for a new term is unconstitutional, Reuters reported on 5 August. The constitution stipulates that a president's mandate is limited to a maximum of two consecutive terms. Romania libera had earlier reported that Iliescu's campaign team had consulted the constitutional court and had been unofficially advised that the provision concerning a second term does not apply retroactively to the adoption of the basic law. Iliescu had served as president of the transitional legislative-executive body set up in December 1989, and was elected president in May 1990. He was again elected in 1992, after the passing of the country's new constitution, and his supporters claim his renewed candidacy is for a constitutional second term. -- Michael Shafir

ILIESCU STILL LEADING POLLS.
According to a recent opinion poll, the main opposition alliance, the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), is the most popular "party" in parliamentary elections scheduled for early November (33.5%), but President Ion Iliescu is ahead (37.1%) in the presidential race that will be held at the same time, the daily Libertatea reported on 6 August. The survey was conducted by the Institute for Market and Social Analysis. CDR candidate Emil Constantinescu trails Iliescu (31.6%), followed by the candidate of the Democratic Party, Petre Roman (18.7%). In the parliamentary race, the major ruling party, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, is backed by 27.5% of those polled. More than a quarter of those questioned (26%) said either that they will not vote or that they are undecided. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON POLITICAL SITUATION.
President Zhelyu Zhelev, in an interview with Trud on 5 August, repeated his position that a presidential republic could help pull Bulgaria out of its present crisis. Zhelev said the present parliamentary system has shown that "it either works badly, or not at all." Zhelev called accusations that he wants more power "not serious." He repeated that he will not run in the upcoming elections but stay in politics after leaving the presidency in January 1997. Also on 5 August, Zhelev met with the united opposition's presidential candidate, Petar Stoyanov. Stoyanov told RFE/RL that he and Zhelev agreed that the main problem in Bulgaria is the government's mismanagement. Stoyanov said the opposition supports Zhelev's foreign policy orientation. -- Stefan Krause

GREEK-LANGUAGE SCHOOLS TO OPEN IN SOUTHERN ALBANIA.
Greek-language schools will open this year in Gjirokastra, Saranda, and Delvina, international agencies reported on 6 August. The Greek government had demanded the opening of elementary schools instructing in Greek as an important step towards improving mutual relations. The ethnic-Greek minority in southern Albania has previously been able to attend classes in Greek in regular Albanian schools. In other news, Police have arrested a man suspected of killing Bujar Kaloshi, the general director of the Albanian prisons, Koha Jone reported on 6 August. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Pete Baumgartner





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