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Newsline - August 27, 1996


CHECHENS RETURN SOME RUSSIAN ARMS.
Chechen militants on 26 August handed over to the Russian federal command up to 50 firearms said to be among approximately 60 seized from a Russian unit in Grozny on 24 August; but a Russian military spokesman said that the identification markings on half the weapons did not correspond to those seized, Russian and Western agencies reported. The withdrawal of six Interior Ministry units from Grozny was halted pending the return of the remaining weapons, according to ITAR-TASS. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 26 August, pro-Moscow Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Alkhazur Tsokayev termed the talks between Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov and Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed "a blatant coup d'etat" given the existence of "the legitimate leadership" of head of state Doku Zavgaev, Radio Rossii reported. Also on 26 August, Reuters reported that Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, who deputized for Tikhomirov while the latter was on vacation, is to be questioned by the Russian procuracy and the military procuracy concerning the circumstances surrounding the occupation of Grozny by Chechen forces on 6 August. -- Liz Fuller

HEAVY FEDERAL TOLL IN RECENT CHECHNYA FIGHTING.
The bodies of 451 Russian troops killed in Grozny since 6 August have been recovered and 1,264 wounded soldiers have been evacuated, Reuters reported on 26 August. The federal command told ITAR-TASS that 163 Interior Ministry troops had been killed and 876 wounded. An officer of the 58th Army serving in Chechnya told RIA that many men considered missing had actually deserted. -- Doug Clarke

POTANIN TO OVERSEE FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF RESOLVING CHECHEN CONFLICT.
At a 26 August meeting, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed named First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin to head the Security Council committee overseeing the financing of the peace process in Chechnya, Radio Rossii reported. The decision gives Lebed the power to oversee the financial terms of the peace-making process and the reconstruction of the republic, the radio noted. Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev's government has come in for considerable criticism for abusing these funds and, in turn, complained that it does not have the resources to do what is necessary. Lebed had hoped to meet with Yeltsin on 26 and 27 August, but the president postponed both meetings, suggesting continued dissatisfaction with the retired general's activities. Yeltsin has stressed that Chechnya must remain a part of Russia. -- Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS PREPARING TO QUESTION LEBED'S POWERS.
Communist Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin is preparing to question whether Yeltsin's delegation to Lebed of presidential authority to sign agreements with the Chechen separatists is constitutional, NTV reported on 26 August. Communist Duma Member Vladimir Semago argued that Yeltsin had given up some of his powers to Lebed, while the constitution makes clear that Chernomyrdin should take on these responsibilities if the president cannot carry them out on his own. An additional problem is that there is no law regulating the actions of the Security Council and its secretary, although the constitution requires one. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN BEGINS VACATION.
President Boris Yeltsin began his vacation on 26 August in his suburban residence Rus, about 50 miles northeast of Moscow, NTV reported. The report included no further details about the length of the president's holiday or if he would visit any other sites. The president is not planning any meetings, his press service announced. Yeltsin's wife Naina had a kidney operation on 24 August and is recovering well in the hospital, AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung

FOREIGN MINISTRY BLASTS LATVIAN PARLIAMENT VOTE.
The Foreign Ministry released a statement denouncing the 22 August Latvian parliament declaration that the USSR's incorporation of Latvia amounted to an "occupation," ITAR-TASS reported (see OMRI Daily Digest , 26 August 1996). The Russian side called the declaration "unprecedented in its cynicism" and said that it provided a legal framework for expelling ethnic Russians from Latvia. One consequence of the vote is that Latvian Prime Minister Andres Skele will not visit Moscow in the first half of September as had been planned, Kommersant-Daily reported on 27 August. -- Robert Orttung

BORDER GUARDS FIRE ON JAPANESE FISHING BOATS.
Russian maritime border troops over the weekend fired warning shots to stop three Japanese fishing boats from entering Russian territorial waters near the disputed Kuril islands, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. The agency said that the Pacific Border District headquarters noted that this was the eighth attempt in August by Japanese "poachers" to intrude into Russian waters. Several other such incidents took place earlier in the summer. -- Doug Clarke

FIRST REGIONAL ELECTIONS MARKED BY LOW TURNOUT.
Only 29% of the electorate turned out to vote in the 25 August elections to the regional legislature in Kaluga Oblast, Radio Rossii reported the next day. Due to the low turnout, the election results are valid in less than half of the electoral districts. The Agrarian Party of Russia won 6 of the 40 seats in the legislature; another four were won by a regional association of physicians. All candidates from the Liberal Democratic Party and the Communist Party lost. Valerii Sudarenkov, who has chaired the legislature since April 1990, was defeated by local hospital surgeon Yurii Volkov. -- Anna Paretskaya

PRIMORSKII KRAI LEGISLATURE PROTESTS "BIASED" TV COVERAGE.
Deputies in the Primorskii Krai Duma requested that Russian Public TV (ORT) recall two of its Far East correspondents, whom they accused of biased reporting on the socioeconomic and political situation in Primore, ORT reported on 24 August. An ORT news anchor suggested that the deputies "reconsider their attitude to our colleagues." Financial and energy crises in Primore in recent weeks have attracted the attention of both federal officials and the Moscow-based media, who have generally pinned the blame on the regional authorities. Primorskii Krai leaders are accustomed to consistently favorable coverage in the local print and electronic media, which are under the tight control of Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko. -- Laura Belin

NUCLEAR, MEDICAL WORKERS RESUME PROTESTS.
Workers at the Leningrad nuclear power plant (LAES) resumed protest actions on 26 August, ITAR-TASS reported. After finishing their shift, LAES employees refused to leave the plant's building and gathered in a conference hall to demand full payments of wage arrears which total about 30 billion rubles (over $5.5 million). Earlier this month, the LAES workers and Atomic Energy Ministry worked out a schedule for payment of overdue wages; however, the ministry broke the agreement. The same day, over 1,000 medical workers went on indefinite strike in Kyzyl, the capital of the Siberian republic of Tyva, ITAR-TASS reported. They are demanding payment of more that 90 billion rubles of overdue wages and an increase in state support for their sector. Patients will only be given emergency treatment while the strike continues. -- Anna Paretskaya

STABBED OLYMPIC CHAMPION RECOVERING, SUSPECT ARRESTED.
Double Olympic swimming champion Aleksandr Popov is in "fairly serious" condition in the Moscow hospital where he is recovering from stab wounds to the stomach, lungs and kidney, but a doctor said that he is "conscious and smiling," ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 26 August. It was too early to tell whether the injury would affect his swimming career permanently. Popov was stabbed during a fight that broke out between his friends and a watermelon vendor on 24 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996). Police sources said an Azerbaijani man in his early twenties had been arrested as a suspect in the case. -- Laura Belin

SHAFRANIK ELECTED HEAD OF OIL COMPANY.
Former Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tyumenskaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya (TNK), ITAR-TASS and Kommersant-Daily reported on 26-27 August. The company was set up at the initiative of the Tyumen Oblast's local authorities to develop oil and gas reserves in western Siberia. Shafranik succeeds Viktor Palii, head of the TNK's core firm Nizhnevartovskneftegaz (NVNG). Possible reasons for Palii's removal include his inability to improve the financial situation at NVNG and his conflicts with the Tyumen Oblast's local administration. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has announced that Shafranik will also be appointed his advisor. -- Natalia Gurushina

NEW MEASURE TO IMPROVE TAX COLLECTION.
The government intends to adopt a decree imposing tax and audit inspections on the largest debtors to the federal budget, Segodnya reported on 24 August. This measure is envisaged in the government's agreement with the IMF. The State Tax Agency has already prepared a list of such debtors in which companies are split into three groups according to the size of their debt -- 20 billion rubles ($3.8 million at the current exchange rate) to 50 billion rubles, 50 billion to 100 billion, and over 100 billion. The largest debtors are fuel, energy and transport companies. Many are located either in regions extracting mineral resources, or in regions with powerful local authorities, such as Moscow, and the Nizhnii Novgorod, Samara and Sverdlovsk Oblasts. -- Natalia Gurushina



TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA


ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN GETS UNDERWAY.
Campaigning for the 22 September Armenian presidential election got underway on 23 August, Western agencies reported. While hitherto observers have unanimously predicted that incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan will be reelected, a recent poll of 1,000 residents of Yerevan revealed that 23.9% of respondents intended to vote for former Prime Minister and chairman of the National Democratic Union Vazgen Manukyan, 16.5% for Ter-Petrossyan and 8.2% for Communist Party leader Sergei Badalyan, according to Noyan Tapan on 26 August. Seven candidates are contesting the election. -- Liz Fuller

TWO IRANIANS SHOT DEAD IN YEREVAN.
Armenian police are investigating the shooting deaths in Yerevan's central Republic Square on 24 August of two Iranian businessmen, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported. The killer, a young man in combat fatigues, escaped by car. Armenian-Iranian relations deteriorated last year after the murder of an Iranian lorry driver in southern Armenia. -- Liz Fuller

CONGRESS OF UZBEK PATRIOTIC SOCIETY.
The first congress of the Vatanparvar [patriot] organization was held in Tashkent on 23 August, Uzbek Television (first channel) reported the same day. According to the BBC-monitored report, the organization is the successor to the Voluntary Society for Cooperation with the Army, Air Force and Navy (DOSAAF). The organization's principal mission, to train youth for service in the armed forces, remains unchanged. A report read at the congress noted the organization lacked a clear understanding of its task now that Uzbekistan is independent. -- Lowell Bezanis

ATTACK REPORTED 100 KM FROM DUSHANBE.
A convoy of Tajik government soldiers was ambushed on the road leading to the Tavil-Dara area on 24 August, ITAR-TASS reported. One soldier was killed and four wounded when elements of the Tajik opposition opened fire on the convoy near the town of Chorsada, 100 kilometers northeast of the capital Dushanbe. The Russian newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda speculated in its 23 August issue that the opposition is attempting to gain control over the mountainous regions of Tajikistan and split the country. Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, the opposition's Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan dismissed an offer last week by Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov to include members of the opposition in the government. "Such statements by the leaders of the regime are made on the advice of Moscow," the radio said. -- Bruce Pannier

NAZARBAYEV AND KAZAKSTAN'S FUTURE.
In an interview on Kazak TV on 21 August monitored by the BBC, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said he would like to see more ethnic Kazaks return to Kazakstan and called upon the government and the people to help "to return our brothers living abroad." He said some 200,000 people had returned to Kazakstan in the last 2 to 3 years. The issue of resettlement of Kazaks was being discussed with Mongolia and Karakalpakistan and the Kazakstani president said he had also broached the question with Chinese President Jiang Zemin during the latter's visit to Almaty in July. -- Bruce Pannier



FURTHER PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS IN UKRAINE.
Leonid Kuchma has re-appointed Serhii Osyka as minister for foreign economic relations, Ukrainian agencies reported. Valerii Borzov has been named chairman of the new State Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports, while Volodymyr Kuznetsov has been relieved from his duties as a presidential adviser and appointed chairman of the State Credit and Investment Company. Kuznetsov replaces Borys Sobolev, who was fired from that post several months ago. Kuchma also dismissed Oleksander Savenko as president of Ukrainian State TV and Radio, naming Zinovii Kulyk as acting president. Meanwhile, Radio Ukraine reported on 26 August that Kuchma has liquidated the State Tax Inspection Agency and formed a new, more powerful Institute of State Tax Administration. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIANS BUY DOLLARS AS PANIC BREAKS OUT OVER NEW CURRENCY.
The government's announcement that it will introduce a new currency on 2 September has triggered massive panic-selling of karbovantsi by Ukrainians, Western agencies reported on 26 August. The karbovanets, the country's transitional tender, was trading at between 220,000 and 300,000 to $1 at various exchange points throughout the country. Meanwhile, the Socialist caucus has complained that the planned exchange rate of 100,000 karbovantsi to 1 hryvna will undervalue the new currency and cheat the Ukrainian people. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ESCAPES KIDNAPPERS.
Yevhen Supruniuk has revealed that he was abducted upon returning home late from work on 24 August, Ukrainian agencies reported. He said he was threatened at gun point by unidentified assailants, shoved into a car, and driven from Simferopol to Krasnoperkopsk, where he was held for one day. He noted that on 25 August he managed to overpower a guard and escape into the town, where he was picked up and taken to a Simferopol hospital. Supruniuk spoke of his ordeal when he returned to work the next day, noting that he had no clue why he had been abducted. Both the assembly and local law enforcement forces have launched inquiries into the incident. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

LUKASHENKA TO SUMMON "CONGRESS OF BELARUSIAN PEOPLE."
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 26 August announced that he will summon by decree a "Congress of the Belarusian People" to discuss current political issues, RFE/RL reported. He said the decree will define the objectives and date of the gathering, which, he added, will be attended by some 6,000 people. The "congress" will clearly not be an institutional body and may prove to be an ad hoc meeting of Lukashenka's supporters and other "ordinary citizens." Observers comment
that the move is a direct response to the recent decision by political parties, labor unions, and public organizations to oppose Lukashenka's increasingly authoritarian policies. -- Saulius Girnius

NORDIC COUNTRIES NOT TO GIVE BALTS SECURITY GUARANTEES.
The prime ministers of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, meeting in Helsinki on 26 August, decided that their countries cannot give the Baltic States any guarantees for their security, BNS reported. The premiers however, expressed the hope that the situation in the Baltics becomes stable and that the three states will be granted EU membership. Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Liopponen said his country will continue defense cooperation with Estonia, but he noted that this did not qualify as "far-reaching military cooperation." The premiers will invite their Baltic counterparts to the next Nordic Council of Ministers' meeting in Copenhagen in November. They also decided to allocate 100 million ECUs ($128 million) for environmental projects due to be launched in the Baltic region next year. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE INCONCLUSIVE.
In a secret ballot on 26 August among Estonian parliamentary deputies, incumbent President Lennart Meri received 45 votes and parliamentary Deputy Chairman Arnold Ruutel 34, Reuters reported. Sixteen deputies turned in spoiled or blank ballots. To win, a candidate needed to receive the support of at least two-thirds of the 101 deputies. The result came as a surprise, since recent polls indicate that Meri has much greater popular support. Moreover, his candidacy is backed by four parties that, together, have 60 votes. If no candidate receives the necessary votes following two further rounds of voting today, an electoral college composed of the 101 deputies and 273 representatives of local governments will be convened within the next four weeks or so to elect the president. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT SIGNS BILLS ON GOVERNMENT REFORM.
Aleksander Kwasniewski on 26 August signed the remaining seven bills aimed at improving the way the government works, Polish media reported. Four other bills included in the package were signed last week. Under the new legislation, several ministries are to be scrapped, new ones created, and others merged. The ruling coalition--composed of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL)--has been divided over the reforms. The PSL argues that their implementation should involve the dismissal of the entire government and the appointment of a new one. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (SLD) aims to replace ministers gradually. The two parties plan to resume negotiations on the issue later this week. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH OFFICIALS ILLEGALLY CROSS POLISH-RUSSIAN FRONTIER.
Tadeusz Szozda, Poland's deputy transport minister, was suspended from duty on 26 August after he and six other top ministry officials failed to stop at a border crossing when re-entering Poland from Russia, Polish dailies reported. The delegation, traveling in two cars, failed to stop for a red light at the Gronowo checkpoint on 24 August. Police stopped and detained the seven officials and their two drivers four hours later. One of the officials said they had not noticed the checkpoint, while a frontier guards spokesman noted that the meaning of the red light should be "obvious to every driver." -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH TRADE DEFICIT KEEPS GROWING.
The Czech Statistical Office has announced that, between January and the end of July 1996, the country's foreign trade deficit reached 85.3 billion crowns ($3.1 billion). During the same period, exports totaled 429.9 billion crowns and imports 344.6 billion crowns. The Statistical Office pointed out that, on a positive note, the majority of imports were capital goods. Czech media quote economic experts as estimating that the annual trade deficit for 1996 will be some 140 billion crowns. Some economists have urged for the crown to be devalued, but the government has so far rejected such a step. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PREMIER DISCUSSES PROPOSED CABINET CHANGES WITH PRESIDENT.
Vladimir Meciar on 26 August met with Michal Kovac to discuss the proposed cabinet reshuffle, Slovak media reported. Kovac, who has the constitutional right to appoint and dismiss cabinet members, is reported to have responded positively to the personnel changes. The meeting between Meciar and Kovac, who have been feuding for three years, was the first since the visit of Pope John Paul II to Slovakia in June-July last year. Following their talks, the political council of Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia met to discuss the cabinet changes. TASR reported on 27 August that the three ministers to be dismissed are Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, Economy Minister Jan Ducky, and Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek. -- Sharon Fisher

ANOTHER BOMB IN BRATISLAVA KILLS POLICEMAN.
An off-duty policeman died early on 26 August of injuries sustained in a bomb explosion at a money exchange booth outside the Kmart department store in central Bratislava, Slovak and international media reported. The 26 year-old policeman died in the hospital. Police said the explosion was not related to the bomb attack of the previous day (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996). The owner of the exchange booth said that his office had been set on fire earlier this summer. -- Sharon Fisher

ROMANIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADERS MEET WITH HUNGARIAN PREMIER.
Representatives of ethnic Hungarians from Romania, meeting with Gyula Horn in Budapest on 26 August, urged that negotiations on the Hungarian-Romanian draft basic treaty be reopened, Hungarian media reported. They argued that Budapest had acted under considerable international pressure and had neglected the interests of Romania's 1.6 million ethnic Hungarians. But Ferenc Somogyi, state secretary at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, insisted that the expectations of the international community "coincided with our own interests." The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania claimed that the draft treaty fails to regulate the restitution of confiscated Church assets and that it is unclear on the minorities' right to education in Hungarian. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY'S BOSNIAN REFUGEES CAST THEIR BALLOTS.
Some 2,000 Bosnian refugees in Hungary have voted in the Bosnian national elections, ahead of hundreds of thousands of others still living in exile, Reuters reported on 26 August. According to an OSCE official the voting was completed without any irregularities among Hungary's Muslim-dominated Bosnian community. Under the Dayton agreement, Bosnian citizens living abroad are entitled to vote for parliamentary and local council candidates prior to the Bosnian elections, which are set for 14 September. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



BOSNIAN VOTE POSTPONED. The OSCE commissi
on charged with monitoring the 14 September elections in Bosnia has announced today that the municipal part of the ballot will be postponed, international and local media reported. This move comes in response to evidence that pressure and coercion have been used against Bosnian Serbs in the Republika Srpska and especially in Serbia to register to vote in key towns that had large Muslim populations before the war but are now mainly Serb. The UNHCR pointed out that the Serbs are using registration to consolidate the ethnic partition of the country, Oslobodjenje reported. The Muslim Party of Democratic Action had threatened to boycott the ballot if the municipal elections are not delayed. Top Bosnian Serb officials argue, however, that the vote must go ahead on schedule, Nasa Borba added. It is unclear who will supervise or provide security for a postponed ballot, which is not envisaged in the Dayton agreement. -- Patrick Moore

BILDT DENIES ELECTION DAY DEAL WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.
The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt has written the acting president of the Republika Srpska, Biljana Plavsic, denying reports from Pale about an alleged agreement between his office and the Serbs, Nasa Borba reported on 27 August. According to the reports, Bildt had agreed to Serb demands that would limit cross-border freedom of movement on election day in violation of the Dayton agreement. Meanwhile, the OSCE has ruled that 1,470 out of 5,010 of the SDA's candidates are ineligible because their names do not appear on the 1991 census rolls, Onasa noted on 26 August. Some 100 candidates of the opposition's Joint List are also out of the running, including two of its leaders, Zlatko Lagumdzija and Bogic Bogicevic. Finally, former Premier and Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina leader Haris Silajdzic told the BBC that the confusion surrounding the vote is a legacy of the communist past, which will go away only with time. -- Patrick Moore

RUMP YUGOSLAV TRADE DELEGATION IN SARAJEVO.
Federal Deputy Premier Nikola Sainovic headed a trade delegation that met with Bosnian government officials on 26 August, Oslobodjenje reported. The mission was the first of its kind since the Bosnian war broke out in 1992. Returning a visit by a Bosnian trade group to the rump Yugoslavia (SRJ) on 23 July, the delegates met with Bosnian Premier Hasan Muratovic and President Alija Izetbegovic, among others. Tanjug quoted Sainovic as saying that a consensus on several economic issues had been reached and that the Yugoslav national airline, JAT, may begin services to Sarajevo by next week. Muratovic commented that it had been agreed that experts would meet "to define a [joint] payments system and to define border crossings and procedures," Reuters reported. AFP observed that no progress was made toward reaching an agreement on establishing diplomatic relations. -- Stan Markotich

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT ON ZAGREB-BELGRADE ACCORD.
Momir Bulatovic, in a 25 August interview with TV Montenegro, hailed the signing of the accord normalizing relations between Zagreb and Belgrade (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996). But he stressed the agreement was a breakthrough because Croatia had agreed for the first time to define the strategic Prevlaka peninsula as "a disputed issue." He went on to note that "we are reaching the stage where we can argue, using historical and other factors, that Prevlaka belongs to its hinterland." He added that for now Prevlaka belongs "to neither Montenegro nor Croatia, as it continues to be monitored by UN observers." Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 27 August suggested that TV Montenegro news reports have "falsified" accounts of the agreement by claiming it paved the way for territorial claims against Prevlaka. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN CABINET GIVES DETAILS OF POPULIST MEASURES.
A senior Romanian official on 27 August elaborated on the government's plans to freeze prices for basic consumer goods until 1 January 1997. Gheorghe Oana, secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, told Jurnalul national that the government is trying to keep down prices on various goods and services, including energy, fuel, food products, public transportation, and rents. A government decree issued on 23 August also guarantees savings of up to 10 million lei ($3,166) in the event of a bank's collapse. The package is clearly designed to polish the image of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania ahead of the November parliamentary and presidential elections. The party fared poorly in local elections in June and saw its popularity sink further following massive price hikes for energy, fuel, and bread in July. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVA MARKS FIVE YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE.
On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Republic of Moldova's declaration of independence, President Mircea Snegur told a gathering on 26 August that the country has won broad international recognition, local media reported. But he criticized the slow pace of economic reform, which, he said, has led to "an abrupt fall in living standards and an increase in unemployment." Also on 26 August, Snegur replied to a group of deputies from the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party who had attacked him for having decorated signatories to the 1991 independence declaration. Among those who had signed were members of the Popular Front, an organization that later opted for an overt pro-Romanian policy. Snegur described the attacks as "a gross political provocation" and "an irresponsible appeal for a further split in society." -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN SUPREME COURT REHABILITATES WAR-TIME POLITICIANS.
The Supreme Court on 26 August lifted sentences that the so-called People's Court had handed down against leading politicians in war-time Bulgaria, Standart reported. It rehabilitated the three regents for the infant Tsar Simeon, three prime ministers, 10 advisers to Tsar Boris III, and 35 ministers. They were the most prominent of the more than 100 defendants in the first and biggest communist show trial to take place in Bulgaria in 1944-1945 for bringing about Bulgaria's involvement in World War II on the side of Germany. Of the 51 rehabilitated, 33 were sentenced to death, while the remainder received prison terms. From 1946 to 1948, the People's Court carried out 135 trials against 11,122 defendants, of whom 2,730 received death sentences and in addition an unknown number perished without trial. Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev asked for the sentences to be declared null and void. The Socialist daily Duma ran a front-page headline claiming that "The Supreme Court Rehabilitates Fascism." -- Stefan Krause

NEW LIBERAL FORMATION TO EMERGE IN BULGARIA?
Chief Mufti Nedim Gendzhev has said incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev and former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova will register as presidential and vice presidential candidates in September, Duma reported on 27 August. Trud, however, noted that Zhelev will abide by an opposition agreement whereby he will not run following his defeat in the primaries to Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS). The same newspaper noted that Indzhova will be the presidential candidate of a Liberal Bloc that will soon be founded and in which Zhelev will play a prominent role. Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer, who was recently sacked as leader of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996), is also expected to participate in that new group. According to Kontinent, New Choice, the Radical-Democratic Party extraneous to the SDS, and New Democracy will be the main parties constituting the Liberal Bloc. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS WRAP UP CONGRESS.
The Albanian Socialist Party's annual congress ended on 26 August in Tirana, international agencies reported. No successor was named for deputy leader Servet Pellumbi, who resigned the previous day in protest at party leader Fatos Nano's reform proposals
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996). It is unclear who will be elected to succeed Pellumbi, although Luan Hajdaraga, Namik Dokle, and Ilir Meta -- former party deputies -- are the most likely candidates. All three were among those elected to a 101-member steering council, which, in turn, will elect a secretary-general and two secretaries in the next few days. Several former ministers who served in the Nano government formed in May 1991 are also on the council. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIA PRAYS FOR MOTHER TERESA.
Albanian President Sali Berisha has said his country is praying for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa, Reuters reported on 26 August. The world famous missionary, who was born Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in Skopje, marks her 86th birthday on 27 August. Berisha said in a telegram that Albanians "unite in prayer and hope for your quick recovery and full health so you may continue your humane and divine mission." Mother Teresa was hospitalized on 20 August and diagnosed with malaria, a chest infection, and an irregular heart beat. Her Missionaries of Charity opened a branch in Tirana following the end of communism. -- Fabian Schmidt



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