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Newsline - August 14, 1996


CEASEFIRE IN GROZNY?
The commander of Federal Forces in Chechnya, Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, and separatist Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov met in the Chechen village of Novye Atagi on 13 August to discuss a ceasefire, Russian and Western agencies reported. Following the three-hour meeting, a Chechen spokesman told Russian media that a ceasefire would go into effect at noon on 14 August, and troops from both sides would pull back from the front lines. However, a spokesman for the federal military command later denied that a ceasefire agreement had been concluded, terming the media reports "premature." He added that Pulikovskii and Maskhadov had merely agreed to limit combat operations to allow the exchange of the dead and wounded, the delivery of medical supplies, and the evacuation of civilians. Despite the Russian denials, separatist Chechen Information Minister Movladi Udugov told AFP that Chechen fighters would observe the announced ceasefire. -- Scott Parrish

FIGHTING STILL RAGES IN GROZNY.
While ceasefire talks got underway, fighting continued in Grozny and other parts of Chechnya on 13 August, Russian and Western media reported. Intense street fighting continued in the center of Grozny, especially around the local headquarters of the Federal Security Service, located near the government complex. Chechen fighters claim to control about 80% of Grozny, and NTV blasted federal military spokesmen for "lying" about the situation in the city. The network did report a decrease in the intensity of air and artillery strikes by the federal forces, however. Fighting also continued around Argun and Gudermes, but Chechen fighters now control both towns. Meanwhile, the federal command announced that 221 federal troops have been killed, and 766 wounded in the recent Grozny fighting. Chechen spokesmen claim that 1,230 federal soldiers have been killed. -- Scott Parrish

DEBATE OVER IMPOSING STATE OF EMERGENCY IN CHECHNYA.
In an interview with Russian TV (RTR) on 13 August, acting Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev said he opposes Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's recommendation that a state of emergency be imposed in Chechnya (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 August 1996). Kovalev said that despite his personal opposition, his ministry is moving forward with preparations to implement a state of emergency in Chechnya, which he described as an "extremely complicated" process. He said that under old legislation pre-dating the 1993 constitution, regular military forces cannot be used to implement a state of emergency. He also argued that declaring a state of emergency would trigger a negative domestic and international reaction. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed also opposes such a step, saying that "there are no resources" to implement it. -- Scott Parrish

REFUGEE CRISIS IN CHECHNYA INTENSIFIES.
According to Russian media reports, thousands of refugees from Grozny remain trapped in Staraya Sunzha and other villages just outside the city, as federal troops have not yet opened a promised corridor for their evacuation. Abdula Bugayev, a government official at the Staraya Sunzha refugee center, told ITAR-TASS that it is impossible to count all the refugees, and warned that the center is running out of food. Meanwhile, AFP reported that Russian troops had refused to permit three International Red Cross trucks carrying food and medicine to reach the refugee center. A separatist spokesman estimated that up to 30,000 refugees are trapped in the area, and said federal forces "periodically open random artillery fire on them." Meanwhile, the pro-Moscow Chechen government released a statement calling on federal forces to "stop the extermination of unarmed civilians," and calling for the immediate opening of a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the refugees. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN NAMES NEW PRESS SECRETARY . . .
President Yeltsin appointed former Russian Ambassador to Slovakia Sergei Yastrzhembskii to be his press secretary on 13 August, replacing his former spokesman who took the job of first deputy general director of Russian Public TV (ORT), Kommersant-Daily reported. Medvedev was the most recent associate of former Presidential Security Service Director Aleksandr Korzhakov to fall victim to Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais's purge of Yeltsin's inner circle. The old press secretary did a good job of limiting access to the Kremlin, particularly in the case of NTV, and his successor is unlikely to reveal more, Ekho Moskvy commented. Chubais has been very successful in surrounding the old president with a group of young liberals who are now in a position to increase their power. Medvedev suffered a better fate than his predecessor, Vyacheslav Kostikov, who was appointed to be Russia's ambassador to the Vatican and then fired after criticizing Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung

. . . AND MAKES MORE APPOINTMENTS IN HIS ADMINISTRATION.
Yeltsin filled out the ranks of his administration by appointing Sergei Samoilov to head the Territorial Department, Vyacheslav Romanov to head the Personnel Department, and Andrei Loginov to head the Department for Ties with Political Parties, Social Organizations, and Federal Assembly Factions and Deputies, ITAR-TASS reported. Valentin Yumashev became Yeltsin's third adviser, following the appointments of Sergei Krasavchenko and Vyacheslav Volkov to this newly created position, and he will specialize in links with the media. Yumashev has worked at Ogonek since 1987 and became its general director in 1995. Although Yeltsin had sought to rationalize his administration, numerous overlapping jurisdictions remain. -- Robert Orttung

CHUBAIS, CHERNOMYRDIN AIM TO CURTAIL LEBED'S POWER.
Kremlin insiders are concerned that Lebed's visibility in working to end the fighting in Chechnya may strengthen his position among President Yeltsin's closest aides. Chief of Staff Chubais advised Yeltsin not to grant Lebed's 12 August request to be charged with resolving the Chechen conflict, fearing that such a move would give the retired general too much power, Izvestiya reported on 14 August. Rossiiskaya gazeta, the newspaper controlled by Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, responded to Lebed's criticism of the Chernomyrdin-led commission for resolving the conflict by asking sarcastically in an editorial critical of the press conference, "Are we going to talk in vain again?" During the press conference, Lebed said that his appointment as the president's representative to Chechnya was part of a Kremlin intrigue to make him look bad by assigning him to resolve an intractable problem. -- Robert Orttung

JOURNALIST'S DEATH CONFIRMED.
Colleagues of Russian Public TV (ORT) journalist Ramzan Khadzhiev have confirmed that he was shot in the head twice by Russian federal soldiers on 11 August while trying to flee from Grozny with his family during the rebel siege, Russian and Western media reported. The circumstances of his death are unclear: ORT reported that the journalist had received numerous threats from rebels who accused him of a pro-Moscow bias. -- Anna Paretskaya

BOMB BLAST IN DAGESTAN.
One person was injured and a city hospital slightly damaged when a home-made bomb blew up in the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala on 13 August, ITAR-TASS reported, citing a Federal Security Service spokesman. The first deputy interior minister of Dagestan, Valerii Beev, blamed the explosion on hooligans. Some observers, however, claim that it could have been an attempt on the life of Dagestani Deputy Prime Minister Said Amirov, who lives near the hospital. -- Anna Paretskaya

TULA MINERS GET PAYMENTS.
The Tula Oblast administration has started to pay overdue wages to workers at the Podmoskovnaya pit, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 August. Sixteen miners at Podmoskovnaya are on a hunger strike in the pit. The oblast administration received 8 billion rubles ($1.5 million) from the federal budget and a 5 billion ruble loan from a commercial bank to pay off the back wages and buy basic food products. The company owes its workers about 80 billion rubles in unpaid wages dating back to March. Six out of the 13 pits owned by the Tulaugol company have either entirely or partially ceased operating. -- Anna Paretskaya

TATARSTAN TAKES CHECHEN SIDE.
The president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, has called on the federal government not to send Interior Ministry troops from Tatarstan to fight in Chechnya, RFE/RL reported on 14 August. The same day, Shamil Basaev, the rebel Chechen commander, thanked the people of Tatarstan for the humanitarian aid that was sent to Chechnya from the Tatar city of Naberezhnye Chelny. Earlier this year, Shaimiev volunteered to mediate between the federal government and Chechen militants in peace negotiations. Last week, Shaimiev blamed the recent escalation of the conflict in Chechnya on the federal government's inconsistent and contradictory policies. -- Anna Paretskaya

PRIMORSKII KRAI GOVERNOR NOT GUILTY IN FINANCIAL CRISIS.
Yevgenii Nazdratenko has been cleared of blame for a scandal surrounding a federal allotment of money to the region, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 13 August. The investigation, which was carried out by the presidential Main Oversight Administration (GKU), looked into the fate of a federal budget allotment of 60 billion rubles ($11.5 million) that was earmarked for paying overdue wages to miners in the region. The money was split between the coal company Primorskugol and the electrical energy supplier Dalenergo. Both companies later spent the money separately without the participation of the krai administration. Nazdratenko, who refuted accusations of wrongdoing, was a strong supporter of President Yeltsin during the recent election. -- Anna Paretskaya

AGREEMENT WITH LONDON CLUB IS LIKELY TO BE IMPLEMENTED.
First Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said that most of the London Club's 600 creditor banks are likely to support the framework agreement on restructuring Russia's $32.5 billion debt (including interest) signed by Russia and the club's coordination committee in November 1995, RTR and Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 12-13 August. Under the plan, Russia's debt should be repaid over 25 years with a seven-year grace period, during which it will pay only interest, although some reports are now suggesting slightly different terms. So far, banks holding $2 billion worth of debt have signed onto the deal, which will go into effect when the signatory's debts reach $20 billion. Recently, Russian debt has been trading at 55 cents on the dollar on the secondary market, up from 33 cents earlier in the year. -- Natalia Gurushina

ARS PRESSES FOR FINAL DEAL WITH DE BEERS.
Russia's largest producer and exporter of uncut diamonds, Almazy Rossii-Sakha, has restarted negotiations on the trade agreement with South Africa's De Beers, AFP reported on 13 August. The two sides signed a preliminary three-year deal in February 1996, but discussion of the final contract was put on hold pending the presidential election. De Beers is complaining that exports of uncut stones from Russia have risen from $10-15 million in March-April to $40-60 million in June. Under the preliminary deal, Russia promised to restrict such sales to 5% of the amount sold to De Beers. Russian authorities also believe that these unauthorized exports undermine the development of the domestic cutting industry. -- Natalia Gurushina



ASTRONOMER AMBARTSUMYAN DIES.
Viktor Ambartsumyan, internationally renown for his work in theoretical astrophysics and stellar astronomy, died on 11 August, ITAR-TASS and Western media reported two days later. In 1989, he went on a three-week hunger strike to bring attention to Nagorno-Karabakh's efforts to secede from Azerbaijan. Yerevan plans a state funeral for the scientist who served as the president of Armenia's Academy of Sciences from 1946 to 1993. -- Lowell Bezanis

SHEVARDNADZE ON ECONOMY.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said inflation will not exceed 15-18% this year, and GDP will rise by 10%, according to a 12 August statement on Georgian Radio monitored by the BBC. He noted that the tax inspectorate has trebled its contribution to the budget over the last year, which has now reached 150 million lari. He also said there has been an increase in exports, notably in wine with 5 million bottles exported to Russia, and in tea with 502 metric tons sent to Turkmenistan. Shevardnadze added that Georgia is set to supply Uzbekistan with 2,000 metric tons of tea and 50 million bottles of Borjomi mineral water. -- Lowell Bezanis

NATURAL GAS CONSORTIUM FOUNDED.
The U.S. firm Unocal, Saudi Arabia's Delta, Russia's Gazprom, and the joint Turkmen-Russian Turkmenrusgaz have signed a memorandum of understanding on the $2 billion project to move natural gas from Turkmenistan's Dauletbad field to Pakistan via Afghanistan, Western agencies reported on 13 August. The companies will now negotiate a definitive agreement defining the rights and obligations of each member of the consortium, according to AFP. Unocal and Delta together will hold an 85% share in the deal, Gazprom 10%, and Turkmenrusgaz 5%. Unocal's chairman said additional parties will be invited to join the consortium. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEKISTAN TO ASSIST REPATRIATION OF CRIMEAN TATARS.
Following a visit to Ukraine, Uzbek President Islam Karimov has expressed a willingness to help Crimean Tatars currently living in Uzbekistan to return to their homeland, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 August. The deputy speaker of the Crimean parliament, Refat Chubarov, said Karimov will participate in the establishment of a mechanism to ensure repatriation. Uzbekistan has, up until this point, refused to address the issue. -- Roger Kangas

COSSACKS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST KAZAKHSTANI GOVERNMENT.
A group of Cossacks from northern Kazakhstan and "Moscow nationalists" rallied near the Kazakhstani Embassy in Moscow on 13 July to protest against Almaty's policies toward them, NTV reported. The leader of the Siberian Cossack Army, Viktor Antoshko, said the Kazakhstani government does not defend the rights of the country's non-Kazakh citizens and that crimes committed against non-Kazakhs often go unpunished. He claimed that Kazakhs have been awarded all positions of authority in the country's banking system, law enforcement agencies, government, and court system. -- Bruce Pannier



IMF MISSION IN UKRAINE.
An IMF mission arrived in Kyiv on 12 August to assess whether Ukraine is meeting the requirements for the disbursement of a stand-by credit, AFP reported. The mission is empowered to begin negotiations that may lead to credits worth $2.5 billion. It is also scheduled to discuss a $1.5 billion stabilization fund for Ukraine to introduce its national currency, the hryvna, by the end of the year. -- Ustina Markus

AFTERMATH OF DONBAS STRIKES.
A government commission looking into the effects of the July miner's strike in the Donbas has concluded that losses amounted to 4 million tons of unmined coal, and 25 trillion karbovantsy ($66 million), Ukrainian radio reported on 12 August. The strike also left some 50 mines virtually paralyzed. As a result, the current coal output is almost half of last month's. -- Ustina Markus

DATE SET FOR BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS.
The Belarusian parliament has set 24 November as the date for parliamentary and local by-elections, Belarusian TV reported on 12 August. ITAR-TASS the same day reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has announced he wants to ask how people feel about the death penalty in the referendum scheduled for 7 November. He also said the public needed to have the issues of privatization and NATO expansion explained. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPER UNHAPPY WITH RUSSIAN POLLSTERS.
The parliamentary newspaper Narodnaya hazeta has canceled an agreement with Russia's Nazavisima gazeta and Voks popul because it is dissatisfied with the results of polls they have conducted for it, Ekho Moskvy reported on 11 August. The Belarusian president's administration is reportedly displeased with the results of a poll on the popularity of 50 Belarusian politicians, and the editor of Narodnaya hazeta has accordingly sent an official letter to his Russian colleagues in Moscow asking for the pollsters to be replaced. This is not the first time Belarus has voiced its displeasure with Russian media. The Belarusian president's administration has already asked the Russian Duma to replace Russian correspondents in Minsk. -- Ustina Markus

RUSSIAN PARTY IN ESTONIA SEEKS TO EXTEND REGISTRATION PERIOD FOR NON-CITIZENS.
The Russian Party in Estonia has asked the government to extend the period in which non-citizens can register to vote in the 20 October local elections, BNS reported on 13 August. Registration began on 10 August and is scheduled to last until 10 September. It requested that the registration period be extended until 18 October since it would be impossible for all eligible non-citizens to register in one month. Unlike the parliament elections where only citizens are eligible to vote, non-citizens who have applied for a residence permit and have lived in the respective territory for at least five years are allowed to take part in local elections. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON LOW BOND INTEREST.
Algimantas Krizinauskas told the parliament on 13 August that three-month treasury bills were sold at 11.7% interest at an auction earlier that day, BNS reported. This was 4.23 percentage points down on last week's level and less than half of the year's average interest of 25.8%. He also said that it will cost the government twice as much to revive the Vakaru Bank as letting it file for bankruptcy. The cabinet will probably decide next week whether to allow the Klaipeda state seaport to invest 20 million litai to purchase stock capital in the bank. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH CABINET APPROVES PRIVACY LAW.
The government on 13 August approved legislation giving Polish citizens greater control over personal data, Rzeczpospolita reported. Based on EU standards, the legislation prohibits the collection or use of personal data without the consent of the individual in question, stipulating only a few exceptions to the rule. It also creates a Privacy Protection Office to safeguard this practice. If approved by the parliament and the president, the legislation would primarily impact institutions that are currently repositories of such information, including the military, passport offices, vehicle registration agencies, banks and insurance companies, schools and universities, as well as civil institutions registering property sales, births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. It is estimated that it will cost 6.5 billion zloty ($2.4 billion) a year to implement the law. -- Ben Slay

POLISH ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION DECLINING.
Per capita annual consumption of alcohol in Poland declined to 8-8.5 liters in 1995, down from 9-11 liters in the past, Rzeczpospolita reported 14 August. Despite this decline, Poland still ranks among the top 30 countries worldwide in alcohol consumption. With regard to the consumption of liquor with a high alcohol content (especially vodka), Poland ranks among the top 10. -- Ben Slay

CZECH PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR PARTY MERGER.
Vaclav Klaus told Czech Radio on 13 August that his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) might win 40% of the vote if it merged with its smaller coalition partner, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA). He was responding to a statement by ODS Deputy Chairman Josef Zieleniec that the party might win 40% support--rather than the 30% it received in the last elections--if it showed "a more open face." Several former and current ODS deputies have said that party members who hold different views from those of the premier are silenced. Klaus argued that a merger would "clean up" the political spectrum, leaving five parties with markedly different ideologies. "If we have 20 or 25 parties, then it is very difficult for one to gain 40%," he noted. ODA Chairman Jan Kalvoda said he considered it "politically naive" to view the merger of two parties as a way either of dealing with inter-party tensions or obtaining 40% of the vote. -- Sharon Fisher

CANCELLATION OF CZECH PUBLIC TENDER CAUSES CONTROVERSY.
The U.S. firm Unisys has expressed disappointment over the cancellation of a public tender for the Czech army's 4 billion crown ($145.4 million) staff information system, Czech media reported on 14 August. Unisys won the tender last year, but former Defense Minister Vilem Holan canceled the order in December, saying he was convinced his subordinates had made mistakes during the bid. Because Holan was not empowered to make such decisions, the former Ministry for Economic Competition overrode Holan's verdict and canceled the tender. Klaus--who is temporarily heading the ministry's successor, the Office for the Protection of Competition--has now taken the final decision on the cancellation. Mlada fronta Dnes on 13 August reported that Klaus gave the army 60 days to launch a new tender. Unisys has yet to decide whether it will participate again and is considering taking the case to court. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES NEW DISTRICT CHIEFS.
The government on 13 August agreed on the heads of Slovakia's eight new regions and all but one of its 79 new districts, Narodna obroda reported. The cabinet also approved changes to the district boundaries. The new state officials were selected by a special Interior Ministry commission. CTK reported that only one of the regional and district heads is not an ethnic Slovak, despite the fact that ethnic Hungarians have a majority in a number of the districts. Nine of the officials were reportedly members of the election team of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's party. Meanwhile, government spokeswoman Ludmila Bulakova, responding to a Sme report on 13 August, denied that Meciar spent his recent vacation in Russia. "The prime minister spent this year's summer vacation on Slovak territory," she said, adding that the report was "absurd speculation." -- Sharon Fisher

REACTION IN HUNGARY TO CANCELED HORN-MECIAR MEETING.
Gyorgy Giczy, president of the opposition Christian Democratic Party, has said that the Slovak government's unexpected cancellation of a meeting between Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar is a "slap in the face" to Hungary, Hungarian dailies reported on 14 August. In an open letter to Horn, Giczy said that if Horn seeks another meeting with Meciar or if the government takes "irrevocable steps" in the negotiations over the basic treaty with Romania, the Christian Democrats will call for a special parliamentary session. The opposition Smallholders' Party released a statement calling the canceled prime ministerial meeting another "affront" to Hungary. Meciar and Horn are expected to meet in Slovakia on 13-14 September during a summit meeting of premiers from the CEFTA member states. -- Ben Slay




IFOR COMPLETES INSPECTION OF SERBIAN MILITARY CENTER.
NATO inspectors, led by commander Gen. Sir Michael Walker, visited Han Pijesak on 13 August, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported. They had brought along Bosnian Serb acting president Biljana Plavsic as a guarantee that their access would not be blocked, as was the case the previous weekend (see OMRI Special Report, 13 August 1996). Walker and Plavsic were welcomed and escorted by Gen. Milan Gvero, the number two in the Serbian command. An IFOR spokesman denied media speculation that the purpose of the weekend mission was to arrest Bosnian Serb commander and indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic, whose headquarters is located at the mountain stronghold, Onasa noted. Meanwhile in Washington, a Defense Department spokesman said that U.S. forces in Bosnia have been on special alert since late last week because of bomb threats by an offshoot of Hezbollah, CNN reported on 14 August. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SHORTS.
Plavsic told Serbian TV that the Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska will "have more than 80 percent sovereignty" after the 14 September elections, Nasa Borba reported on 14 August. This is a climb-down from her position that the vote will mean complete sovereignty. Her view is, nonetheless, still in conflict with the Dayton agreement, which specifies that Bosnia-Herzegovina is one state consisting of two "entities," namely the Republika Srpska and the Croatian-Muslim federation. Meanwhile, Sarajevo airport will re-open on 15 August to civilian traffic with an Air Bosna flight to Istanbul, Oslobodjenje noted on 14 August. Conditions at the airport are still poor, and standard navigation equipment is lacking. Flight safety will depend on French IFOR and on pilots' professional skills. -- Patrick Moore

OSCE REJECTS CROATIAN SERBS APPEAL TO VOTE IN BOSNIA.
The OSCE Election Appeals Sub-Committee on 12 August said it has rejected an appeal by Croatian Serb refugees to be allowed to vote in the September elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Onasa reported. The Association of Croatian Serbs in Bosnia, which made the appeal, said it represented the interests of almost 60,000 people, some of whom had acquired real estate and settled in the Republika Srpska. The OSCE noted that, according to preliminary estimates, 77% of all voters living abroad have so far registered to vote in the elections, Onasa reported on 13 August. Meanwhile, Croats and Muslims have agreed to hold the first joint session of the new Mostar City Council
on 14 August, Oslobodjenje reported. Both, however, have proposed different agendas for that meeting. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BELGRADE REAFFIRMS WISH TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH SUCCESSOR STATES.
Belgrade on 13 August reaffirmed its wish for a complete normalization of relations with Croatia and other successor states of former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported. Belgrade and Zagreb committed themselves to normalizing bilateral relations following the meeting in Greece last week between Presidents Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman. The rump Yugoslav authorities said current ties with Croatia in the economic and humanitarian fields are "positive" and stressed the importance of finding solutions to the issue of the Prevlaka peninsula, claimed by both Belgrade and Zagreb. Meanwhile, Novak Kilibarda, head of the Montenegrin People's Party, said Milosevic is not authorized to solve the border problem of rump Yugoslavia and Montenegro. He added that the issue should be decided by the people, Nasa Borba reported on 14 August. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BELGRADE'S UN REPRESENTATIVE STARTS NEGOTIATIONS ON TRIBUNAL OFFICE.
The head of Belgrade's diplomatic mission at the UN has begun negotiations on the opening of an office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported. Vladislav Jovanovic exchanged letters about the office with UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali after the Belgrade government expressed its willingness to reach an agreement. Meanwhile, a bush fire in the nature reserve of Deliblatska Pescara, about 70 km north of Belgrade, destroyed some 3,000 hectares of forest, Nasa Borba reported. Some 600 refugees from Bosnia and Croatia who were settled in the area were evacuated to nearby towns. -- Fabian Schmidt

MEETING BETWEEN MACEDONIAN, GREEK FOREIGN MINISTERS CANCELED.
Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on 13 August canceled a scheduled meeting with his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubomir Frckovski, after the latter said Macedonia will not change its name, Nova Makedonija reported. Pangalos and Frckovski were to meet in New York in September during the UN General Assembly. A Greek Foreign Ministry statement said that Frckovski's recent statements have created a "negative climate" in bilateral relations. In an interview with the Greek weekly To Vima on 11 August, Frckovski said Macedonia wants to continue bilateral talks in New York to sort out differences but will not change its name. He conceded that a modus vivendi between Skopje and Athens must be found on the name issue. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN CABINET DISMISSES EIGHT PREFECTS.
Octavian Cozmanca, head of the government's local administration department, on 13 August announced that eight prefects were being replaced on the recommendation of the Permanent Delegation of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), Radio Bucharest reported. Seven of the dismissed prefects are PDSR members, while the eighth belongs to the Socialist Labor Party, a former PDSR ally. Some had been involved in public scandals, including Constantin Raducanoiu (PDSR), whose children were arrested after beating up other youths. The police officer leading the investigation into the incident was initially removed in what the opposition claimed to be a clear case of power abuse. Romanian observers link the dismissals to the PDSR's efforts to polish its image ahead of the November general elections. -- Dan Ionescu

SNEGUR ON MOLDOVAN-DNIESTER MEMORANDUM.
President Mircea Snegur on 13 August issued a statement explaining his reluctance to sign a memorandum on the normalization of
relations between the Republic of Moldova and its breakaway Dniester region. BASA-press quoted Snegur as saying that the draft memorandum fails to specify that the Dniester region is a part of Moldova and instead refers to a "common [Moldovan-Dniester] state," which, he pointed out, is contrary to the spirit of the Moldovan Constitution. Snegur commented that, under these circumstances, signing the document would set "a dangerous precedent for Europe that might lead to destabilization at regional levels." He also criticized the Moldovan parliament, which is dominated by conservative and leftist forces, for putting pressure on him to sign the current version of the memorandum. Such pressure could only "complicate the negotiations," he concluded. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN POLITICIANS TO RECEIVE MORE PAY.
The salaries of parliamentary deputies have been raised from 26,169 leva ($130) a month to 32,169 leva ($170), 24 chasa reported on 14 August. Under the parliament's statutes, deputies are to receive three times the average salary, which the National Statistical Institute put at 10,728 leva for the past three months. Since all deputies are members of parliamentary commissions, they receive an extra 10% of their basic wage. This means they will now have a monthly wage package of 35,385 leva. President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and Parliamentary Chairman Blagovest Sendov earn 50% more than deputies, or 48,253 leva at the current level. Sendov's deputies will now receive 45,036.60 leva, and ministers and heads of parliamentary commission 41,819.70 leva. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT MAKES APPOINTMENTS TO ELECTION COMMISSION BY DECREE.
Sali Berisha on 13 August issued a decree giving the three leading posts on the permanent Election Commission to government appointees. The ruling Democrats received four posts and their allies--the Republicans, the Christian Democrats, and the Social Democratic Union--one each. The opposition Socialists, Social Democrats, and Agrarians received a total of six seats, Albania reported on 14 August. But the opposition has refused to accept its seats, saying that the formation of the commission is based on a presidential decree, not the law. They argued that the commission is fully controlled by the Democrats and therefore could not guarantee free elections, international agencies reported. A meeting between the Democrats and the Socialists the same day failed to resolve the dispute. -- Fabian Schmidt

TWO ALBANIAN POLICEMEN SHOT DEAD.
Unidentified persons on 12 August shot dead two policemen in a Tirana suburb, Reuters reported. It was the latest in a series of police murders. The two officers were brothers and were off duty when they were attacked. No suspects have been arrested, but police said they believed the killing is linked to the attempted arrest of a murder suspect. -- Fabian Schmidt




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