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
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. --
. . . AND MAKES MORE APPOINTMENTS IN HIS ADMINISTRATION.
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. --
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
PRIMORSKII KRAI GOVERNOR NOT GUILTY IN FINANCIAL CRISIS.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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. --
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. --
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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. --