STANDOFF CONTINUES IN GROZNY.
Fighting continued in central Grozny on
7-8 August as Chechen militants tried without success to take the central
government building, Russian and Western media reported. Two Russian
helicopters opened fire on civilians fleeing south from Grozny, killing 22
people and wounding 30 more, according to AFP. Both sides dispatched
reinforcements to Grozny on 8 August, Reuters reported, citing Interfax.
Russian Independent Television (NTV) reported that Russian Defense Minister
Igor Rodionov had informed pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev that
he is personally coordinating the actions of the Russian federal troops
deployed in Grozny. The deputy head of the Russian team engaged in negotiations
with the Chechens, Vladimir Zorin, told ITAR-TASS that the attack on Grozny
indicated serious disagreements and a power struggle within the Chechen camp,
and called for the resumption of peace talks. -- Liz Fuller
PRO-MOSCOW CHECHEN LEADERSHIP BLAMES OSCE FOR ATTACK ON GROZNY.
August, Ruslan Martagov, press spokesman for pro-Moscow Chechen head of state
Doku Zavgaev, blamed the OSCE for the recent attack on Grozny by separatist
forces, Radio Mayak reported. He said the international body had failed to find
a peaceful solution to the conflict. Over the past 10 weeks, Zavgaev has
repeatedly criticized OSCE mission head Tim Guldimann and demanded that he
leave Chechnya. Also on 7 August, the Chechen Procurator-General's Office
initiated criminal proceedings against acting Chechen President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev, Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, and Information Minister Movladi
Udugov in connection with the attack on Grozny. -- Liz Fuller
INAUGURATION TO BE INDOORS.
President Boris Yeltsin has decided to hold
his inauguration ceremony in the State Kremlin Palace (the former Palace of
Congresses), ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August. Izvestiya reported
assertions "especially in the Western" press that the decision was taken in
order to reduce the strain that the ceremony would place on the ailing
president. In line with these reports, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov
charged that Yeltsin "is not in a condition to work effectively," Reuters
reported. However, administration sources claimed that cost cutting was the
main reason behind the move. The ceremony is expected to last a maximum of 30
minutes. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN NAMES PRESS AIDE.
President Yeltsin has announced that Sergei
Yastrzhembskii, the current Russian ambassador to Slovakia, will be deputy
chief of staff in charge of media relations, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev will remain in his position as a
subordinate to Yastrzhembskii. The position of the current head of the press
service, Igor Ignatev, remains in doubt. Yeltsin named former First Deputy
Chief of Staff Sergei Krasavchenko to the newly created position of adviser.
The president already has a number of aides. Krasavchenko had served in his
former position since June 1993 when he was a member of the RSFSR Congress of
People's Deputies and supported Yeltsin's intention to disband parliament. --
FEDERATION COUNCIL OVERRIDES VETO.
The Federation Council overrode a
Yeltsin veto of a law defining budgetary classifications with 121 votes on 7
August, ITAR-TASS reported. The result was two more than the 119 needed for the
override. Yeltsin had vetoed this bill on 31 December and 11 July, but Duma
Budget Committee Chairman Mikhail Zadornov convinced the members of the upper
house that the second version of the bill had taken into account all of
Yeltsin's objections in spite of his veto. The law should increase oversight
over how budget funds are spent, members of the upper house asserted. Vetoes
have been extremely rare since it is difficult to get a two-thirds majority in
both houses. -- Robert Orttung
POPULAR-PATRIOTIC UNION HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS.
The founding congress
of the Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR) unanimously elected as its
chairman Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov but also distanced
itself from communist rhetoric and ideals, Russian media reported on 7 August.
Zyuganov was officially nominated by Duma Culture Committee Chairman Stanislav
Govorukhin, who has frequently criticized past and present communists.
Addressing the delegates, Zyuganov promised that the KPRF would be "equal among
equals" in the union and would not force its views on other member
organizations. Meanwhile, Nikolai Ryzhkov, who heads the NPSR's organizing
committee, said patriotism would be the union's fundamental ideology and social
justice would be its primary goal. A statement adopted by the congress and
published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 8 August does not mention socialism,
Soviet power, or communism. It pledges to respect political and religious
differences and struggle for power through elections. -- Laura Belin
JUDGE CALLS FOR ANTI-COMMUNIST MEASURES.
Steps must be taken to counter
unconstitutional and unlawful activities of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation (KPRF), according to a commentary by Constitutional Court Judge
Ernest Ametistov, published in Izvestiya on 8 August. He also targeted
bureaucrats sympathetic to the communists. Ametistov wrote that the KPRF is not
a "civilized opposition," because it routinely "grossly violates" a 1992 court
decision banning any revival of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on a
national level or at workplaces. Ametistov, who is highly loyal to President
Yeltsin, said the Justice Ministry should use powers granted to it under a May
presidential decree (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 May 1996) to conduct an
inquiry on why this ruling has not been enforced. He also called for a cadre
policy to replace corrupt local bureaucrats and "red directors," whom he blamed
for the problem of wage arrears, and for removing "totalitarian symbols" from
city streets and enterprises. -- Laura Belin
SOME MINERS CONTINUE THEIR STRIKE.
In Primorskii krai and Rostov oblast
about half the striking miners had returned to work by 7 August, Russian and
Western media reported. However, it appears that some miners are not satisfied
with the government's pledge to pay off the wage debt by installments. For now,
the Rostov miners are only being given their wages for March. A team headed by
Mikhail Klimov, the deputy head of the Presidential Oversight Commission,
arrived in Vladivostok on 7 August to investigate the fate of the 60 billion
rubles which Moscow sent to Primore to pay miners' wages at the beginning of
the year, RTR reported. The Vorkuta miners called off their strike scheduled
for 8 August after they were assured 30 billion rubles had been dispatched to
the region, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Peter Rutland
ST. PETERSBURG GOVERNOR STAYS OUT OF OBLAST POLITICS.
Governor Vladimir Yakovlev has declared that he will not interfere with the
gubernatorial race in neighboring Leningrad Oblast, RFE/RL reported on 7
August. He declined to endorse any of the candidates, including the incumbent
Aleksandr Belyakov. Belyakov, appointed oblast head by President Yeltsin in
1991, supported Yakovlev in the June St. Petersburg gubernatorial runoff.
Observers say that Yakovlev's reluctance to support Belyakov could mean that
the Yeltsin administration, which announced it will support one candidate in
each region, is undecided over whom to back in the Leningrad election. Other
potential candidates include the left-leaning former speaker of the Leningrad
Soviet, Vadim Gustov, and the liberal Nikolai Smirnov. -- Anna Paretskaya
POLICE: EXPLOSION NEAR CHERNOMYRDIN'S CAR WAS "HOOLIGANISM."
investigators have concluded that the 6 August explosion near the Rublevskoe
shosse in Moscow--which took place moments before Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's motorcade drove by--was an act of random "hooliganism" and was
not directed against the prime minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August. The
explosion was caused by a homemade bomb containing some 200 grams of explosives
which detonated about 15 meters from the highway. -- Scott Parrish
IZVESTIYA: DUMA FINANCES PRIVATE APARTMENTS FOR DEPUTIES.
According to a report in the 8 August edition of Izvestiya, the
State Duma recently decided to give each of its current and previous members
$60,000 from the federal budget to purchase a Moscow apartment. Adopted in
"strict secrecy," the decision was taken under the 1994 law on deputies'
status. Many deputies of the previous Duma who did not win re-election in 1995
had refused to vacate their state-provided apartments when their terms expired.
Now deputies will receive a "one-time compensation payment" to enable them to
purchase housing in Moscow, which will then become their personal private
property. The paper indicated that the Presidential Administration, which
manages official flats in Moscow, had approved the action, and suggested its
approval was intended to encourage the Duma to approve Viktor Chernomyrdin as
Prime Minister. -- Scott Parrish
COURTS SEIZE COMPANIES' ASSETS.
A court has seized the assets of the
Zvezda plant near Vladivostok that repairs Pacific Fleet nuclear submarines,
and will sell some of them to pay the company's debts, Reuters reported on 7
August, citing Interfax. The shipyard owed its suppliers more than 36 billion
rubles ($6.8 million), including 6 billion rubles to the water company which
initiated the court action. But Zvezda director Valerii Maslyukov said his firm
is owed more than 80 billion rubles, with 17 billion just by the government.
Meanwhile, tax police in Khabarovsk Krai seized the assets of the Far Eastern
Railway, the largest debtor in the region, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. The
railway owes some 458 billion rubles to regional and federal authorities. These
measures are part of the government's strategy to boost tax collection through
more active involvement of law-enforcement agencies. -- Doug Clarke and Natalia
IMF PRAISES ARMENIA.
Panos Katsambas, the head of an IMF mission that
has spent the past two weeks in Armenia, on 7 August expressed satisfaction
with the progress of macroeconomic stabilization and reform in the country,
ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported. Katsambas expressed concern, however, over
enterprise debts to the budget, estimated at 12.5 billion drams ($30 million).
In October, Armenia is scheduled to receive the second ($25 million) tranche of
a $150 million ESAF credit. -- Liz Fuller
U.S. DIPLOMATS IN SUKHUMI.
A U.S. delegation led by the deputy
ambassador to Georgia, Larry Kerr, arrived in Sukhumi on 6 August on a
fact-finding mission, ITAR-TASS and Abkhaz Radio reported on 7 August. The
delegation met with newly-appointed Foreign Minister Konstantin Ozgan, who
claimed that Abkhazia has never been an integral part of Georgia, and with
parliament speaker Sokrat Djinjolia, and expressed U.S. readiness to help find
a compromise solution to the question of Abkhazia's future relations with
Tbilisi. -- Liz Fuller
GEORGIA AGAIN DEMANDS GIORGADZE'S EXTRADITION.
prosecutor-general on 7 August issued a statement branding former security
chief Igor Giorgadze a terrorist and criticizing Moscow's refusal to extradite
him to Tbilisi as incompatible with its pledge to combat terrorism, Russian
media reported. Giorgadze is suspected of involvement in last year's bomb
attack on parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze. The statement further
claimed that failure to extradite Giorgadze would pose a threat to
Shevardnadze's security on his upcoming trips to Russia. -- Liz Fuller
TURKMENISTAN AND PAKISTAN TALK.
Turkmen Foreign Minister Boris
Shikhmuradov met with Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Islamabad on 5
August to discuss the construction of a $6 billion oil and gas pipeline linking
the two countries and investment in infrastructure, according to a Radio
Pakistan report monitored by the BBC. Shikhmuradov, accompanied by executives
of the U.S. oil firms UNOCAL and Delta, is exploring the possibility of
exporting Turkmenistan's hydrocarbon riches south through areas of Afghanistan
controlled by the allegedly Pakistani-backed rebel Taliban movement. U.S.
sanctions against Iran are reported to have scuttled an alternative plan to
move Iranian gas to Pakistan. -- Lowell Bezanis
ANOTHER PRISONER AMNESTY IN UZBEKISTAN.
President Islam Karimov on 7
August granted amnesties and prison-term reductions to some of Uzbekistan's
prisoners, ITAR-TASS reported. The exact number of prisoners that will benefit
from this decree is unclear, although the wording suggests that this is part of
a "large-scale amnesty." This is the second time in the past two months that
Karimov has issued such a decree. On 15 June, he pardoned 80 prisoners,
including two opposition figures (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 June 1996).
-- Roger Kangas
UN OBSERVERS CLOSER TO TAVIL-DARA.
UN military observers in Tajikistan
have come closer to fulfilling one of the conditions of the 20 July Ashgabat
ceasefire agreement signed by representatives of the Tajik government and
opposition, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 August. Tajik presidential press secretary
Zafar Saidov said UN observers have now set up an office in Khovaling, a town
just outside of the Tavil-Dara region that is used as a base by Tajik
government forces. According to the agreement, UN observers were to "position
groups of observers on both sides of the conflict line" in the Tavil-Dara
region by 23 July. However, continued fighting between government and
opposition forces in the area prevented any independent observers from entering
the region. -- Bruce Pannier
COAL MINING UNION LEADERS IN UKRAINE PROTEST GOVERNMENT "CRACKDOWN."
Leaders of the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine protested what they are
calling a government campaign to discredit and disband their organization,
Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 6-7 August. Union activists said the
1 August arrest of a prominent strike leader, Mykhailo Krylov, the earlier
arrests of two strike organizers in Luhansk and a police search on 6 August of
a union office in Krasnoarmeysk revealed a crackdown by Kyiv. They said that
the police ransacked the union's offices and confiscated documents related to
the July coal miners' strikes in an attempt to intimidate them and collect
evidence against the union's leadership. UNIAN reported on 6 August that
leaders of the Social Democratic Party issued a statement in Kyiv demanding the
immediate release of strike organizers, calling it a violation of human rights.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak
MORE PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS IN UKRAINE.
President Leonid Kuchma has
re-appointed the chairmen of two government commissions and set up a new body
aimed at coordinating measures to implement the new Ukrainian Constitution,
Ukrainian TV and radio reported on 7 August. Kuchma appointed Volodymyr Yevtukh
as chairman of the new State Commission on Nationalities and Migration, formed
on the basis of the former Ministry of Nationalities and Migration, headed by
Yevtukh. He also reappointed Pavlo Mysnyk to head the State Committee on State
Secrets and the Technical Protection of Information. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON ROUND-TABLE, REFERENDUM.
Lukashenka rejected the proposal to hold a round-table discussion to resolve
differences between him and the parliament, Belarusian radio reported on 7
August. He said he was ready to discuss his proposed referendum and economic
program with experts, but not with political parties. Lukashenka added that he
was pleased that the nationalist Belarusian Popular Front and the communists
have finally found common cause and united, but said there was no need for him
to sit at a round-table with them. He also set 7 November as the referendum
date, and said there would be three to five questions on changing the
constitution. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ON PRESIDENT.
Syamyon Sharetsky said he
was outraged by the situation in Belarus, Belapan reported on 6 August. He said
that television spent entire evenings broadcasting struggles against
"imaginary, non-existent enemies." These included certain deputies, the
Constitutional Court, parliament, and "now all of Belarus is supposedly
surrounded by CIA agents." (A reference to Russian deputy Viktor Ilyukhin's
allegations that the CIA was plotting to destabilize Belarus.) Sharetsky said
this was creating an abnormal situation in the republic, and urged President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka to participate in the round-table along with the prime
minister, head of the Constitutional Court, and other leading politicians. --
SIGNATURES GATHERED FOR MERI'S RE-ELECTION.
Reform Party Chairwoman
Valve Kirsipuu announced on 6 August that the required 21 parliament deputies'
signatures supporting Lennart Meri's candidacy as president had been collected,
BNS reported. The deputies were from the Reform Party, Coalition Party, and
Moderates Party. Pro Patria faction deputies that had also been expected to
sign said that they would do so only after Meri formally agreed to be a
candidate. The elections will be held on 26 and 27 August with a candidate
needing to get a two-thirds majority of votes (67) in the parliament to win. --
LITHUANIA NOT TOLD ABOUT RUSSIAN NAVAL EXERCISES.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on 7 August that it had not received any
information from Russia concerning the ongoing exercises of Russia's Baltic
Fleet. The fleet's press center in Kaliningrad told BNS that they were not
military exercises, but a "cruise by a group of ships." The "cruise" will last
for about 20 days and includes a submarine, 14 auxiliary ships, and the fleet's
aircraft. It will also have artillery and rocket-firing practices,
anti-submarine search-and-destroy exercises, and other war games. Paratrooper
exercises were carried out that day by 11th army guard units, stationed in the
Kaliningrad Oblast. -- Saulius Girnius
CONTROVERSIES WITHIN THE POLISH RULING COALITION.
The Democratic Left
Alliance (SLD), dominant party in the ruling coalition, rejected on 7 August
calls from their Polish Peasant Party (PSL) partners for a total cabinet
reshuffle during the upcoming restructuring of major ministries. The chief of
the government's office, the SLD's Leszek Miller, said there are no reasons for
Prime Minister Wlodziemierz Cimoszewicz to resign. The PSL fears the
reorganization of some ministries could leave more authority with the SLD prime
minister and erode the PSL's cabinet influence. Sejm Speaker Jozef Zych (PSL)
said on 6 August that the coalition could fall apart due to tension over
sharing cabinet jobs as a result of the reform. Zych said that this would force
parliamentary elections before their scheduled date in fall 1997. -- Jakub
NEW POVERTY ESTIMATES IN POLAND.
Household survey data recently released
by Poland's Central Planning Office indicate that 13% of Polish society lives
in poverty, Zycie Warszawy reported on 7 August. This figure is
relatively low compared to other post-communist countries. These data also
indicate that Poland's income distribution is becoming less equal. Most of the
indicators cited in the study showed declining poverty rates and rising real
incomes during 1994-1995. But the share of workers earning below-average wages
increased from 60% to 65% during 1990-1995, and the share of workers making
only half of the average wage increased from 3.8% to 11% during this time. The
relative living standard of pensioners improved during this time, however: the
average pension rose from 48% of the average wage in 1989 to 63-65% in 1995. --
SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S CASE AGAINST PRIME MINISTER DROPPED.
prosecutor on 5 August suspended Michal Kovac's complaint against Vladimir
Meciar, stating that there was no suspicion of criminal activity, Pravda
reported three days later. Kovac had filed charges against Meciar on 28 May for
misuse of power, slander and defamation of the head of state for comments he
made during a radio interview on 24 May, when Meciar accused the president of
involvement in the $2.3 million fraud surrounding the Slovak firm Technopol, of
knowing about preparations for his son's kidnapping but failing to intervene,
and of influencing the investigation of the Technopol case. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK BREWERY OWNER ENDS MINERS' STRIKE.
The 55 miners at the east
Slovak Bankov mine on 7 August ended their sit-in strike after staying 300
meters underground for three days, Narodna obroda reported. Upon
resurfacing, they were treated to a beer party sponsored by Gemer brewery owner
Vladimir Poliak, who is interested in buying their firm. The beer contains the
vitamins that the miners had lost during the strike, Poliak claimed. The strike
was ended following discussions at the Vseobecna uverova banka (VUB)--the
mining company's biggest creditor--on the firm's sale, which is expected to be
determined soon. -- Sharon Fisher
STATE MEDIA PROTEST AGAINST HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT RESOLUTION.
Radio, Hungarian Television and Hungaria Television public foundations have
protested against a recent government resolution to supervise the financial
management of state media institutions, Hungarian media reported on 7 August.
Opposition parties and the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats
joined the protest. Opponents of the plan warn that by amending the budget law,
the government will violate the media law passed in December. The newly
appointed chairman of Hungarian Television, Istvan Petak, said it would be a
"tragedy" if it was approved by parliament. The Prime Minister's Office
commented that the cabinet had no intention of drawing public service radio and
television under its authority. However, its spokesman added that the
respective media institutions have accumulated a sizable debt, and their
long-term financing needs to be definitively solved. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
SERBIAN, CROATIAN PRESIDENTS AGREE ON RECOGNITION . . .
President Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman met near
Athens on 7 August and agreed that bilateral relations would be established.
Nasa Borba on 8 August reported that they will open relations "after
just one more round of talks between foreign ministers Milan Milutinovic [of
rump Yugoslavia] and Mate Granic [of Croatia] in Belgrade at the end of the
month." Reuters reported that a joint statement outlining territorial disputes,
humanitarian issues, and possible economic cooperation was released after the
meeting. According to Tudjman, the statement means "we agreed on the
normalization of relations in all fields, such as restoring (sic) diplomatic
relations. Foreign ministers will meet on 23 August and sign final agreements."
Meanwhile, Milosevic called the meeting " a huge step for the interests of
[rump] Yugoslavia and Croatia...[and] also for the entire region," Tanjug
reported. -- Stefan Krause and Stan Markotich
. . . BUT QUESTIONS REMAIN.
While both presidents hailed the talks and
the landmark agreement as breakthroughs, outstanding questions may put a brake
on the normalization of relations. Reuters reported an unnamed Croatian
official said Zagreb would insist that Belgrade recognize Croatia in its
internationally-accepted borders prior to normalization. Belgrade, however, has
not renounced claims to the strategic and Croatian-held Prevlaka peninsula, but
both sides "reaffirmed their readiness to resolve [the issue] through
negotiations." Another possible friction point is eastern Slavonia, which
remains in Croatian Serb hands. Belgrade's recognition of it under Zagreb's
jurisdiction would send a signal to local Serbs they are part of Croatia.
Furthermore, questions relating to the division of former Yugoslavia's assets
and to rump Yugoslavia's demand to be recognized as the sole successor will
likely have to involve the other former Yugoslav republics -- Stefan Krause and
GHALI PROPOSES THAT TROOPS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA STAY ON.
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has suggested that the UN Security
Council consider a one-year extension of the mandate for the UN Transitional
Administration in eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), Hina reported on 7 August. UNTAES'
mandate expires on 15 January 1997. Ghali said it was unrealistic to expect
that UNTAES' duties will be completed by then. He said the earliest possible
date for elections in eastern Slavonia was late February or March, while the
Croatian government wants elections to take place in December. Ghali also
underscored the importance of the financing of local administrations, where
monthly costs total more than $2 million. The Security Council has asked
Croatia to fulfill its obligations regarding the financing of local
administrations. -- Daria Sito Sucic
BOSNIAN SERBS ORDER HALT TO EXHUMATIONS.
The Pale authorities have
issued a statement banning further uncovering of mass graves on their
territory, AFP reported on 7 August, quoting SRNA. They charge that the
Croat-Muslim side has not allowed the exhumation of what the Serbs say are mass
graves of Serbs at Glamoc and Ozren on federal territory, and that Pale demands
reciprocity. The Serbs also want a meeting with the Croats, Muslims, the
international community's Carl Bildt, and the Red Cross to discuss a host of
issues, including missing persons and prisoners of war as well as mass graves.
The Serbs are apparently embarrassed by evidence found in previous exhumations
on their territory indicating that thousands of Muslim males were massacred
after the fall of Srebrenica just over a year ago. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIAN ELECTION UPDATE.
IFOR commander Gen. Michael Walker warned the
Bosnian Serbs to "take the [14 September] elections seriously" and prevent any
"angry, unruly crowd trying to stop people from voting." He was apparently
referring to the possibility of actions against Muslims and Croats coming home
to vote on what is now Serb-held territory. Gen. Walker also noted that local
Serb authorities are interested in seeing "the voting go smoothly, [but] I am
worried that this attitude isn't shared at the top," Onasa reported on 7
August. The commander added that IFOR is present to stop the war from being
resumed but will not police the elections. -- Patrick Moore
WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL REJECTS BOSNIAN SERB DEFENDANT'S REQUESTS.
Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 7
August rejected two motions made by the attorneys defending indicted war
criminal Radovan Karadzic, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Karadzic's
American lawyers asked to submit objections that would contest the validity of
the court's statute and the Rules of Procedure. The court ruled that the issue
could be discussed, but only when Karadzic comes to trial. The tribunal also
rejected a motion by a lawyer for Dusko Tadic, the Bosnian Serb charged with
killing 13 Muslims at prison camps and 18 additional ones during
ethnic-cleansing campaigns. The motion was for hearsay testimony to be
disallowed during Tadic's trial. The court ruled it was up to the judges to
decide the admissibility of the testimony. -- Daria Sito Sucic
REHN CONCERNED ABOUT CROATIAN SERBS.
UN special human rights envoy
Elisabeth Rehn, speaking in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica on 7 August,
remarked that she was especially concerned with "what's happening in Krajina,"
Nasa Borba reported on 8 August. The envoy reportedly expressed dismay
over the treatment of the 7,000 ethnic Serbs living in the Krajina region of
Croatia, saying "I have not been very happy with what has been happening to
those Serbs who were left behind, old people, paralyzed people in very bad
conditions." She said she was concerned that "a new method [of violence against
the Croatian Serbs] has started again with explosives," AFP reported. She also
expressed concern over the status of Montenegro's Muslims and Albanians, the
BBC said. -- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON ELECTION REFORM.
The Slovenian government
resolved on 7 August that preparations would be made to hold a referendum on
electoral reform 90 days following the convening of the next parliament, with a
vote taking place 30 days later, Reuters reported the same day. Slovenia is
currently divided into eight electoral districts, and referendum voters will be
able to choose from four different reform models. Elections to determine the
composition of the next parliament are slated for December 1996. -- Stan
ROMANIA, HUNGARY AND THE U.S.
A spokesman for the Romanian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs told a press conference on 7 August that his country took note
"with interest" of the U.S. State Department position on Hungarian minorities
abroad, Radio Bucharest reported. Reacting to the 29 July American statement
that the U.S. supports the rights of national minorities to the preservation of
their own cultural and spiritual identity but rejects any drive to territorial
autonomy based on ethnic criteria, Sorin Ducaru said this position was fully in
line with Bucharest's own views on national minority rights. -- Michael
ANOTHER ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
Radu Campeanu, the leader of
the minuscule extraparliamentary National Liberal Party-Campeanu wing was named
on 7 August as a candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for early
November, Radio Bucharest reported. Campeanu will run as the candidate of the
National Liberal Ecological Alliance, which, apart from his own formation,
includes a splinter group from the Ecologist Movement, headed by Eduard Victor
Gugui. -- Michael Shafir
PRO-SNEGUR MOVEMENT SET UP IN MOLDOVA.
BASA-Press reported on 7 August
that a "civic movement" supporting incumbent president Mircea Snegur's
candidacy in the November elections had been set up on the same day. The
movement includes 17 parties, organizations and associations, among which are
Snegur's own Party of Revival and Conciliation, the Alliance of Democratic
Forces, the Popular Front Christian Democratic, the Gagauz People's Party and
the Peasant Christian Democratic Party. -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN PREMIER'S PRESS CONFERENCE.
Andrei Sangheli told a press
conference on 7 August that a "constructive dialogue" with the leadership of
the breakaway region of Dniestr would not resume until Moldovan elections are
over, BASA-Press reported the same day. He said no summits conducted until then
will bring results and added that the longer it takes to solve the conflict,
the higher the price paid for it. This was an obvious allusion to his rival in
the presidential elections, President Mircea Snegur, who has practically frozen
discussions on signing a memorandum with the Tiraspol leadership. Sangheli said
that if he wins the elections, he would not favor Moldova's integration into
CIS political structures, since this contradicted the country's constitution.
-- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VETOES LAND LAW AMENDMENT, COAT OF ARMS.
Zhelev on 7 August vetoed a recent amendment to the land law, saying it favors
collective farms at the expense of private owners and poses obstacles to land
restitution, Western and Bulgarian media reported. Under the amendment, owners
have no guarantee that they will regain their original piece of land. Zhelev
particularly objected to the phrase "activities prohibiting the restoration of
ownership," saying it paves the way for arbitrary decisions. The previous day,
Zhelev rejected Bulgaria's new coat of arms saying it divides society. The
ruling Socialists and the opposition are divided as to whether the lion on the
coat of arms should be crowned or not (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 July
1996). Zhelev said that "the coat of arms is not a party badge and should unite
society" and called on the deputies to find a compromise. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN RELATIONS WORSEN OVER TETOVO UNIVERSITY.
resolution last week by the Albanian parliament denouncing the imprisonment of
five activists of the underground Albanian-language university in the
Macedonian town of Tetovo, the two countries have been exchanging accusations.
On 6 August the Macedonian Ambassador to Tirana handed a protest note to the
Albanian government calling the resolution an "interference in [Macedonia's]
internal affairs." The Albanian foreign ministry reacted to the charges by
claiming that its policy was characterized by good will but pointed out that
"it is our inevitable obligation to be concerned about the rights of the
Albanians wherever they live." It also called on the Macedonian government to
offer ethnic Albanians in Macedonia active participation in all fields of
public life, adding that the level of rights of ethnic Albanians directly
determines the relations between both countries, Rilindja Demokratike
reported on 8 August. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez
and Pete Baumgartner