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Newsline - August 7, 1996


CHECHEN MILITANTS "IN CONTROL OF GROZNY."
Heavy fighting in Grozny between Chechen militants and Russian forces continued during the night of 6-7 August, and as of mid-morning on 7 August the Chechen detachments were "in effective control" of the city, Reuters reported. On 6 August, the Russians lost four helicopter gunships and 23 Russian troops were killed and 91 injured, according to Reuters. Confusion persists over the identity of the Chechen commander coordinating the operation. The secretary of the Russian State Commission for resolving the Chechen crisis told Russian Public TV (ORT) that it is Ruslan Gilaev, who is based in western Chechnya, while AFP quoted Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov as stating that Shamil Basaev is in charge. It is also unclear whether the attack on Grozny, Gudermes, and Argun was launched on orders from acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. Information Minister Movladi Udugov said the assault is a reprisal for renewed Russian hostilities, adding that the Chechens still want peace talks. -- Liz Fuller

STEPASHIN ISSUES ULTIMATUM.
Speaking on ORT on 6 August, the secretary of the Russian State Commission on resolving the Chechen conflict, Sergei Stepashin, warned that unless acting Chechen President Yandarbiev disassociates himself from the offensive within two hours and takes immediate action together with Chief of Staff Maskhadov to withdraw the Chechen detachments from Grozny, Russia will not agree to any further peace talks. President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin called for the "neutralization" of the Chechen militants without using heavy weapons, ORT reported. -- Liz Fuller

MINERS' UNION THREATENS NATIONWIDE STRIKE.
The Russian Coal Industry Workers' Union threatened on 6 August to call a nationwide strike if debts to miners are not paid by 25 August, international media reported. Union officials estimate the industry is owed about 1.7 trillion rubles ($326 million) by defaulting customers and 250 billion in delayed state subsidies. In Rostov Oblast, striking miners called a government pledge to transfer 55 billion rubles to pay back wages insufficient; workers at two pits in Tula have walked out; and miners in Vorkuta are threatening to strike on 8 August. In Primore, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August that miners had gone back to work at about half the pits affected by the strike there. The previous day, union leader Vitalii Budko accused the Russian media of Soviet-style disinformation when they reported that the strike had ended, according to the Hindustan Times. -- Penny Morvant

PRIMORSKII SYNDROME SPREADS.
The energy crisis that has gripped the Russian Far East is spreading to Volgograd Oblast. Electricity supplies have been cut off to 200 enterprises, including the giant Krasnyi Oktyabr steel mill, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 6 August. Customer debts to the local energy company Volgogradenergo now total 1 trillion rubles ($190 million), of which some 53 billion rubles are owed by Krasnyi Oktyabr. The plant's stoppage will result in an estimated 100 billion rubles loss per month. -- Natalia Gurushina

GOVERNMENT MAY REVOKE PREELECTION SPENDING PROMISES.
The government has drafted a decree that envisages delaying some of President Yeltsin's preelection promises, Segodnya reported on 6 August. The draft, prepared by the special operational group on the budget crisis chaired by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin (see OMRI Daily Digest 1 August 1996), reportedly plans the postponement of four federal laws, 24 presidential decrees, and 14 governmental decrees, the implementation of which would cost the federal budget 41 trillion rubles ($7.9 billion). The paper suggests that this move will provoke intense lobbying by industrialists and regional elites. -- Natalia Gurushina

YELTSIN MEETS WITH CHUBAIS, CHERNOMYRDIN, LEBED.
President Boris Yeltsin met with his key subordinates on his first day back at work on 6 August following a three-week rest, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin reviewed the situation in Chechnya with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and with Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed. Lebed then seemed to encroach on Chernomyrdin's turf in the field of national economy by discussing with Yeltsin the shipping of cargo to remote areas of the country. Yeltsin also discussed the possibility of holding his inauguration in the State Kremlin Palace with Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, which would save the 6 billion rubles that may have to be spent to disperse clouds if the ceremony is held outdoors. -- Robert Orttung

AGRARIANS JOCKEY FOR POWER WITHIN LEFT BLOC.
Leaders of the Agrarian Party of Russia (APR) formally agreed to join Gennadii Zyuganov's new Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia but also passed a resolution demanding that APR leader Mikhail Lapshin be made co-chairman of the union, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 August. Lapshin argued that since rural dwellers are among the most active left-wing voters, the Agrarians "should play one of the leading roles in the constructive opposition" and not merely serve as the Communist Party's "little brother." Nevertheless, the APR is more dependent on their Communist allies than vice versa. After a poor showing in the December 1995 parliamentary election, the APR was only able to amass the 35 deputies needed for an official State Duma faction after the Communists "donated" several deputies. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNISTS DECIDE AGAINST JOINING GOVERNMENT.
At a closed plenum, the Central Committee of Communist Party (KPRF) decided that it would be "inexpedient" to join the government as long as economic policy is not changed radically, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 6 August. No KPRF members have been offered cabinet portfolios; however, in recent weeks observers have speculated that a few allies of the KPRF, including former presidential candidate Aman Tuleev, may be invited to join the government. Accepting minor cabinet posts and thereby tacitly approving the government's policies would deprive the KPRF of a potent issue in the upcoming regional elections. -- Laura Belin

PREPARATIONS FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS CONTINUE.
President Yeltsin has ordered Rostov and Pskov oblasts to hold gubernatorial elections in September and October this year, respectively, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 August. Meanwhile, authorities in the town of Surgut located in Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous Okrug, which is in Tyumen Oblast, have taken steps to prevent candidates from running initiative groups in the town from endorsing any of the candidates in the oblast's gubernatorial election, according to ORT. Local authorities consider the okrug to be independent and are therefore advocating a boycott of the Tyumen election. Elsewhere, the leader of the Russian Socialist Party, millionaire Vladimir Bryntsalov, announced that his party will provide each of its local candidates with about $2 million in campaign money. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA BLASTS U.S. SANCTIONS ON IRAN, LIBYA.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Andreev condemned a new U.S. anti-terrorist law aimed at Iran and Libya, international media reported on 6 August. The law, known as the D'Amato Amendment, reinforces U.S. sanctions against the two countries and imposes penalties on any companies, including non-U.S. firms, who invest more than $40 million annually in their petroleum industries. Andreev termed the law "inadmissible" and a "violation of international law" because of its "extra-territorial nature." He called for "coordinated," rather than "unilateral" measures to combat international terrorism. Western European countries have also slammed the law's provisions. -- Scott Parrish

OFFICIAL PAPER WARNS AGAINST ATTEMPT TO ARREST KARADZIC.
The official government paper Rossiiskaya gazeta, responding to Western media reports that the U.S. is planning a special operation to seize former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, warned on 6 August that any such action would "derail" the Bosnian peace process. The paper cautioned that the Serbs would view his arrest as "an act of piracy," adding that the use of "elite troops and helicopters" is not the best way to achieve political stability in Bosnia. Meanwhile, the daily Delovoi mir published an article arguing that Russia should reverse the "passive" policies of the former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's era and declare the Balkans "a zone of its national interests." -- Scott Parrish

BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER CRITICIZES UKRAINE.
Vice Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, condemned recent critical remarks by Ukrainian Navy commander Vice Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 August 1996) as an attempt to "reverse negotiations on the fleet with superficial statements," ITAR-TASS reported. Kravchenko dismissed as "fantasy" Bezkorovainy's charges that in the process of dividing the fleet, Russia is handing over to Ukraine only those ships that are fit for the scrap yard and have been stripped of vital equipment. The Russian admiral charged that Moscow's "open" and "civilized" approach to negotiations on dividing the fleet was viewed by the Ukrainian navy command as "weakness," and warned that Russia might reconsider its stance. -- Scott Parrish

BUDGET SITUATION TIGHT.
Federal budget income for the first six months of the year was 130.7 trillion (84% of plan) and spending 139.3 trillion (95% of plan), ITAR TASS reported on 6 August. However, budget "income" includes the sale of treasury bonds and the like; actual tax income was only 82 trillion rubles--62% of the planned level. First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov told the cabinet on 6 August that by the year's end the deficit may be 88 trillion rubles. He said that "there are neither administrative, nor criminal, nor bankruptcy procedures" to force firms to pay taxes. About 30% of federal budget revenue in 1996 is expected to come from just four regions, Moskovskaya Pravda reported on 6 August. They are: Moscow city (41 trillion rubles), Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous Okrug (23 trillion), Moscow Oblast (12 trillion), and St. Petersburg (9 trillion rubles). -- Peter Rutland



ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES REGISTER.
Seven of the nine putative candidates for the presidential race submitted their final nomination petitions by the deadline on 2 August , Noyan tapan reported on 5 August . The Central Electoral Committee will now verify that each candidate has submitted 25,000 valid signatures. Levon Ter-Petrossyan collected 39,882 signatures and Sergei Badalyan of the Armenian Communist Party 36,751. Two candidates withdrew from the race, whose first round will take place on 23 September. Rafael Hambartsoumyan failed to raise the required deposit of 2,000,000 drams ($5000), while businessman Yurii Mkrtchyan complained that lack of time prevented him from collecting the signatures. -- Peter Rutland

GEORGIAN MILITARY HIGHWAY REOPENS.
The main road link between Russia and the Transcaucasus reopened on 5 August after being closed for one week, ITAR TASS reported. Heavy rains on 28 July swept away bridges and several sections of the highway, marooning dozens of travellers, NTV reported on 30 July. The cost of the damage is estimated at $8 million. -- Peter Rutland

KAZAKHSTANI RELATIONS WITH IRAN, CHINA
Talks between Almaty and Tehran on moving 2 million metric tons of Kazakhstani crude oil across the Caspian Sea to Iranian ports have stalled, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 August. Unidentified sources in the Kazakhstani government said the talks, underway for two years, broke down when Iran refused to partially cover Kazakhstan's expenses for transporting the crude across the sea. In other news, the Sino-Kazakhstani border survey commission reached an agreement in Beijing on 5 August that will permit them to begin demarcating their mutual border, according to a Xinhua report monitored by the BBC. -- Lowell Bezanis

PRISON RIOT IN TURKMENISTAN.
Three prisoners were killed and seven wounded on 4 August when Turkmen authorities put down a prison riot in Mary Vilayet, Reuters reported on 6 August. Details on the riots are sketchy, but the day after the mutiny, Turkmen Deputy Interior Minister Altibai Charyez, national prison head Amansakhat Chungaev, and other officials were sacked. Turkmenistan's prison system is reportedly riddled with corruption and conditions in overcrowded prisons are squalid. In August 1995, 27 mutinous prisoners were reportedly killed in a maximum security prison in Ashgabat. -- Lowell Bezanis

GOVERNORS SACKED IN AKHAL, TASHAUZ.
Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov has dismissed the provincial governors of Akhal and Tashauz Vilayet, according to a 3 August Turkmen Press report monitored by the BBC. The republic's harvest of 480,000 metric tons of grain for this year rather than the anticipated 1,000,000 tons appears to be the cause of their dismissal. During a 2 August cabinet meeting where the "very serious shortcomings and errors" associated with the harvest were discussed, Niyazov also abolished the ex-officio status of deputy prime minister granted to all regional heads. In other news, Turkmen and Russian border guards in the republic have intercepted 500 "trespassers" and confiscated 900 kg of drugs so far this year, Radio Rossii reported on 5 August. -- Lowell Bezanis



UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON RUSSIA.
Hennadii Udovenko said the main problem in Russian-Ukrainian relations was the issue of basing both Ukraine's navy and the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Ukrainian radio reported on 6 August. He said during talks with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, that the two held a common position on NATO expansion, and were particularly against the alliance deploying nuclear weapons in East and Central Europe. ITAR-TASS reported that Udovenko said Ukraine had no intention of joining NATO or the CIS Collective Security Pact but would continue developing ties with NATO. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN ON DELINQUENT ENERGY CONSUMERS.
A new government resolution, signed by Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko on 1 August, says enterprises which fail to pay their electricity bills will have their power cut off, Ukrainian radio reported on 6 August. Energy producers in Ukraine, including nuclear power plants and coal mines, are owed a total 218 trillion karbovantsi ($1.1 billion) by industrial customers. Lazarenko said the situation is most critical in the nuclear power industry, where regular maintenance and repairs depend upon timely payment by electricity consumers. The resolution also establishes penalties and fines on atomic energy stations that barter services and provides for government licensing of intermediary firms which trade in energy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TALKS TO UZBEK, BULGARIAN COUNTERPARTS.
Leonid Kuchma met with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, in Crimea on 6 August, Ukrainian radio reported. Karimov came to the peninsula for a vacation at Kuchma's invitation. Both said they were pleased with the state of Ukrainian-Uzbek relations. The same day Kuchma held a telephone conversation with his Bulgarian counterpart, Zhelyu Zhelyev. They agreed that Kuchma would meet with a special envoy from Bulgaria in the near future. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT BLASTS PARLIAMENT.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka lashed out at the parliament, saying it had only adopted five laws in five months, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 August. Of the five bills, Lukashenka said only the one on the state budget had any significance, and that the others were of minor importance. Lukashenka accused the parliament of obstructing the adoption of new laws and impeding economic reform. He also said it had ignored his offer to work together. The last statement is disputable, since two weeks ago seven parties called upon Lukashenka to hold a round-table discussion with them to resolve differences between the legislature and president. Lukashenka has not accepted the offer. -- Ustina Markus

SWEDISH, U.S. MEETING ON BALTIC SECURITY.
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Perrson discussed the security situation of the Baltic states with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Washington on 6 August, RFE/RL reported. He had discussed the matter the previous day in Stockholm with Estonian President Lennart Meri and by telephone with Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele. Perrson emphasized the importance of bringing Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the EU and NATO to prevent a security vacuum that might encourage Russia to assert control over the region. He noted that an advisory council for Baltic Sea cooperation is being formed with Baltic and Scandinavian representatives as well as Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and chief U.S. negotiator in Bosnia. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN EUROMINISTER RESIGNS.
The Estonian government on 6 August accepted the resignation of Minister of European Affairs Endel Lippmaa, ETA reported. In an open letter, Lippmaa said his decision was based on dissatisfaction with several recent moves by Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, including the 10 July decision granting residence permits to former Russian officers, and the wider use of simplified border crossings with Russia. He said that the presence of huge numbers of former Russian officers, far greater than the number of officers in the Estonian armed forces, will complicate Estonia's integration into NATO and the European Union. Vahi has proposed that former Minister of Foreign Affairs Riivo Sinijarv replace Lippmaa, who plans to return to his seat in the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius

PENSIONS FOR POLISH DEPORTEES TO SOVIET UNION AND GERMANY.
People deported to the Soviet Union or Germany during World War II will receive compensation beginning on 24 October, Rzeczpospilita reported on 7 August. Applications for compensation are to be registered with the Association of People Wronged by the Third Reich and the Siberia Prisoners' Association. The applicants must include documents proving they were deported or involved in forced labor. People deported as children can also apply. The monthly pensions will amount to 0.5% of the average salary from the third quarter of 1995 for each month of forced labor, but no more than 10% of this salary altogether (the salary amounted to 717 zlotys, about $280). -- Jakub Karpinski

PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST GENERAL KISZCZAK.
Warsaw prosecutors began studying allegations that former Internal Affairs Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak let East Germany's secret police operate in Poland during the 1980s, a prosecutors' office spokesman said on 6 August. "These are preliminary activities aimed at establishing if there is a basis for launching an investigation," the spokesman said. The prosecutors will also verify whether Kiszczak ordered the secret police in 1989 to organize subversion against political parties, labor unions, and the Catholic Church. A Warsaw court recently acquitted Kiszczak on charges that he allowed police to shoot at striking miners after martial law was declared in 1981 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 July 1996). -- Jakub Karpinski

VOICES OF DISSENT IN THE STRONGEST CZECH PARTY.
Several leaders of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) have joined Foreign Minister and ODS Deputy Chairman Josef Zieleniec in calling for more pluralism within the party, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on 7 August. Zieleniec told the newspaper on 5 August that the results of the recent parliamentary elections suggest "that the ODS needs to show a friendlier and more open face." According to Zieleniec, the ODS should not always speak in one voice. Ivan Pilip, another ODS deputy chairman, and ODS deputy Marek Benda have expressed support for Zieleniec's call for more democracy within the ODS. In the past, Klaus has run the centralized party without much opposition or internal discussion. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK MINERS STAGE SIT-IN.
Over 50 miners at the Bankov mine in east Slovakia have staged a sit-in strike some 300 meters underground, Slovak media reported on 6 and 7 August. The mine is owned by Kosicky magnezit, which was declared bankrupt in April after being privatized and is about one billion crowns ($33 million) in debt. Miners are trying to force the Economics Ministry to decide on new ownership. The miners had been promised that their jobs were safe after bankruptcy was declared, but by late July, several hundred employees had been laid off and another round is expected. The miners are demanding employment guarantees and a social program from the new owner. -- Sharon Fisher



MOSTAR CROATS, MUSLIMS REACH AGREEMENT OVER POWER SHARING.
The deadlock over the administration of the divided city of Mostar was resolved on 6 August after the Bosnian Croats agreed to end a boycott of the city council that was elected in local elections last month, Western and local agencies reported. After several days of EU-mediated marathon talks, the two sides agreed to form a local government based on the results of the elections, but noting the Croat complaints of alleged voting irregularities and sending them to the Bosnian federation's Constitutional Court. Under the accord, the first session of the joint city assembly will be held on 8 August to elect a new mayor and deputy mayor. Because the governor of the Neretva canton will be a Muslim, the Mostar mayor will be a Croat. Muslims and Croats agreed to accept the Joint Action EU plan on the transfer of responsibilities from the EU administrator to the local mayor and deputy mayor. -- Daria Sito Sucic

TUDJMAN AND MILOSEVIC MEET IN ATHENS.
The presidents of Croatia and Serbia, Franjo Tudjman and Slobodan Milosevic, met in Athens on 7 August in their first official bilateral meeting without international mediation since Croatia declared its independence in 1991, AFP reported. The closed-door meeting was arranged by Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis at the request of the two countries, Greek officials said. According to Greek diplomats, no formal agenda was set, but Simitis said Tudjman and Milosevic will discuss "problems concerning their two countries." He said he hopes the meeting will "contribute to the cooperation of all the peoples in the region." According to the BBC on 7 August, Tudjman and Milosevic are not expected to discuss the broader regional situation, specifically questions related to Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Stefan Krause

INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES CRITICIZE ZAGREB ON REFUGEE ISSUE . . .
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond criticized Croatia on 6 August for preventing the Serb refugees to return and allowing those who came back to be harassed and intimidated, AFP reported. Redmond said that such a "sad situation" sends a "clear signal to refugees" not to go back. According to the UNHCR, some 175,000 Serb refugees fled to rump Yugoslavia following the Croatian offensive in the Krajina region in August 1995. Some 10,000 remained in Croatia, having reportedly been harassed and intimidated, and only "a handful" returned. Meanwhile, the International Red Cross on 2 August pointed out that the violence and ill-treatment of Serbs in Croatia had been occurring regularly since the beginning of this year, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

. . . WHILE CROATIAN SERBS SAY THEIR LOT IS "TRAGIC AND UNCERTAIN."
The Association of Serbs from the Republic of Serb Krajina and the Republic of Croatia, in Belgrade on 5 August, issued a public declaration calling for a restoration of their rights, Tanjug reported the same day. According to their declaration, "the current humanitarian, economic and political situation of those who were expelled or escaped is tragic and uncertain." Among their demands was that The Hague should investigate and indict those guilty of "crimes against Serbian people" and that "autonomy" should be granted in the "ethnic Serb areas" of Croatia. Following their armed insurrection against the Croatian government in 1991, Croatian Serb leaders in Croatia used calls for "autonomy" as a way of signaling their intent to join in a political union with a greater Serbia under Belgrade's jurisdiction. -- Stan Markotich

OSCE PUTS BOSNIAN SERB PARTY ON NOTICE OVER KARADZIC.
The OSCE's supervisor of the 14 September Bosnian elections, Robert Frowick, told Bosnian Serb Foreign Minister and leader of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) Aleksa Buha that indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic must remain out of politics. Frowick said that frequent references to Karadzic by SDS speakers at rallies, his appearance in party advertisements, and the display of Karadzic posters at SDS meetings and on private homes is a violation of the spirit of last month's agreement. Onasa on 6 August quoted Frowick as telling Buha the previous day that the OSCE will not take any action against the SDS for now but will "press [the party] to get it right." The two men agreed that nothing can be done about posters on private homes but that the SDS can control the other problems. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN UPDATE.
Italian IFOR troops inspected a Serbian weapons depot they had found by accident in Markovici, Oslobodjenje and AFP reported on 6 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 August 1996). The size of the cache is now put at 2,000 tons, which is double the original estimate. IFOR spokesman Maj. Brett Boudreau said no steps will be taken until NATO is absolutely sure that the depot is unauthorized. In Sarajevo, the OSCE announced that 191,779 Bosnian refugees abroad have signed up to vote in the September elections. The largest group is 73,228 people in Germany, followed by 23,912 in rump Yugoslavia and smaller numbers elsewhere from Sweden and Switzerland to Japan and New Caledonia. Finally, the Bosnian government unemployment office said that the job situation has reached a "critical point," with 850,000 people across Bosnia-Herzegovina seeking work, Oslobodjenje noted. -- Patrick Moore

REHN IN MONTENEGRO.
Elisabeth Rehn, UN special human rights envoy, arrived in the rump Yugoslavia republic on 6 August for a series of meetings, including President Momir Bulatovic and the interior and justice ministers, AFP reported. Rehn is also to meet with rights groups, and the local branch of the Helsinki Committee to present the envoy with some 40 reports detailing the condition of human rights in the republic. In other news, Nasa Borba on 7 August reported that less than a quarter, or 2,934 out of about 13,500 Bosnian refugees and displaced persons in Montenegro have registered or signaled an intent to vote in the 14 September elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Stan Markotich

ARKAN HOLDS PARADE IN KOSOVO.
Serb paramilitary leader and indicted felon and accused war criminal Zeljko "Arkan" Raznjatovic held a parade with his paramilitary group, the Arkan Tigers, in Pristina and Podujevo, QIK reported on 5 August. The visit followed the bombing of three police stations in those cities on 2 August and apparently was intended to intimidate the Albanian population there. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN IFOR SOLDIER WOUNDED IN BOSNIA.
A Romanian soldier serving with the NATO IFOR forces in Bosnia was wounded as his vehicle slipped on mud into a mined area, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported on 6 August. The incident took place near Maglaj and the soldier was airlifted to a German field hospital near Split. The Romanian defense ministry said the soldier underwent surgery and is under observation. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION PARTIES THROW SUPPORT BEHIND INCUMBENT.
Two major opposition formations, the Popular Front Christian Democratic (FPCD) and the Alliance of Democratic Forces (AFD), on 5 August decided to back incumbent President Mircea Snegur in the presidential race scheduled for mid-November, Moldovan agencies reported. In separate statements, they said that the candidate of the Moldovan Agrarian Democratic Party, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, intends to lead Moldova "irreversibly" into the CIS political-military structures and "restore the Soviet empire." They also state that Snegur will "start actions meant to integrate Moldova into NATO structures." The FPCD, which promotes reunification with Romania, said it will render assistance to Snegur to include in the pending friendship treaty with Romania "economic integration" of the two countries, the condemnation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and including in the constitution provisions geared at eliminating "primitive Moldovanism." Reuters reported that an aide to Mircea Snegur, Victor Josu, said the president plans to strike an alliance with the Popular Front Christian Democratic Party (FPCD) but will resist any moves by the FPCD to promote unification with Romania. Josu said Snegur "insists on full Moldovan independence" and his alliance with the FPCD is confined to the electoral campaign alone. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST LEADER FAVORS ABOLITION OF PRESIDENCY.
In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Vladimir Voronin said he believes the next president of the country, to be elected in November, must also be its last. The Moldovan Communist Party (PCM) leader said that upon his election, the president should dissolve the parliament and abolish "the institution visibly imposed on Moldova from outside," BASA-Press reported on 6 August. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN CHIEF OF STAFF SAYS MILITARY COUP NOT IMMINENT.
Col.-Gen. Tsvetan Totomirov on 7 August told Standart that "as long as I am chief of general staff, the army will fulfill its duties . . . and will not be involved in solving domestic political problems." Totomirov responded to rumors that a military coup is possible in the fall if social and economic problems lead to unrest. He said people using the word coup do not realize that the problems created by a coup are bigger and more dangerous than the ones it solves. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov reportedly held a secret meeting with high military in July to find out whether they would support him in the case of a military coup. Under the Bulgarian Constitution, the president is the commander-in chief of the armed forces. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS CONTINUE FEUD.
Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, in an open letter on 6 August to Duma Editor-in-chief Stefan Prodev, asked whether Andrey Raychev and Andrey Bundzhulov should be expelled from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The two are leading members of the Association for a Social Democracy (OSD), a faction within the BSP which in July had asked for Videnov's replacement as prime minister and BSP chairman. Videnov accused Raychev of waging a campaign against him and the BSP in the weekly magazine Sega, which Raychev publishes. In other news, tests began on 5 August at Reactor no. 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant to determine the strength of the reactor's metal core, AFP reported. Reactor no. 1 was shut down on 15 May, but the other five reactors at Kozloduy are still running. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN COMMUNIST PARTY CHIEFS APPEALS TURNED DOWN BY TIRANA COURT.
A Tirana court on 6 August turned down the appeals of the Tirana and Durres Communist party chiefs Pirro Kondi and Qirjako Mihali. The two were sentenced to 17 years in prison on 12 June for sending dissidents into internal exile. The court, however, reduced the 15-year term of Shkoder party chief Sulejman Bushati to a suspended five-year term, Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION REFUSES NEW ELECTORAL COMMISSION.
Nine opposition parties on 6 August issued a declaration saying that they would not participate in an electoral commission that was decreed by President Sali Berisha on 3 August. The parties claimed that such an electoral commission would not be based on a proper legal framework that would define its functions and control mechanisms, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 7 August. The opposition now demands a political dialogue in the form of a round-table to solve the dispute. -- Fabian Schmidt



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