Accessibility links

Newsline - September 11, 1996


RUSSIA

POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES MEET IN GROZNY . . .
A congress of 20 Chechen political groups, chaired by Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, met in Grozny on 10 September, Reuters reported. They called for the formation of an interim coalition government under international monitoring. The leader of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, Doku Zavgaev, said that none of his ministers would participate in such a government. Forces loyal to Zavgaev control the Nadterechnyi region in northern Chechnya. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed did not attend the Grozny gathering. On 11 September, Lebed met with Zavgaev in Moscow, AFP reported. The content of their discussion was not released. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AS NEW AUTHORITIES CLAMP DOWN ON ALCOHOL.
The Chechen authorities who make up the joint command in Grozny are taking stern measures to halt the consumption of alcohol, ITAR TASS reported on 11 September. Traders' stocks of alcohol are being destroyed, and drunks are subject to 40 strokes with a cane, under Islamic law (Sharia). Chechen commander Khadid Dadaev said that in his district of Grozny up to 30 people are punished per day. They are also trying to prevent unauthorized persons from carrying their weapons in public, ITAR TASS reported on 10 September. The deputy commander of Grozny, Aslambek Abdul-khadzhiev, told Chechens "to keep at home the arms which may prove of use yet." Ilyas Sigauri, Zavgaev's culture minister who was kidnapped by rebels on 24 August, was released unharmed on 10 September. -- Peter Rutland

ZAVGAEV NOT INCLUDED IN FEDERATION COUNCIL COMMISSION ON CHECHNYA.
A closed session of the newly-created commission on Chechnya in the Federation Council favorably assessed Security Council Secretary Lebed's recent activities in the republic, Izvestiya reported on 11 September, citing Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev. Pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev, who has denounced the agreement Lebed signed with Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, did not join the commission "by mutual consent," according to the Federation Council press service. The commission includes leaders of regions in the North Caucasus, the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and representatives from standing Council committees on constitutional law, regional policy, defense, and international affairs. -- Laura Belin

DETAILS ON TRANSFER OF POWER REMAIN UNCLEAR.
President Boris Yeltsin's decree on transferring control of the power ministries to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin does not specify when the latter is to actually assume that control, NTV reported 10 September. The presidential press service statement also failed to explain why the decree was released to the public days after it was signed. Publicly, Publicly, Chernomyrdin is downplaying the transfer of powers, saying that Yeltsin will remain president during his heart operation and recovery, and that discussions of the issue are "artificial and tactless," ITAR-TASS reported. However he has discussed the issue with Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, indicating that it is moving ahead quickly
-- Robert Orttung

KREMLIN: YELTSIN IS SIGNING HIS OWN DECREES.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii denied Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's accusations that President Yeltsin is not signing all of his decrees, ITAR-TASS reported 10 September. Lebed earlier charged that Yeltsin had not signed a decree ordering him to drive the Chechen rebels from Grozny in August (see OMRI Daily Digest , 21 August 1996). There has been speculation in the Russian media that Chubais might have released the decree behind Yeltsin's back in order to thwart Lebed, but Yastrzhembskii claimed that "in most cases, the [media] do not have reliable information on the matter." -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN ORDERS IMPROVEMENT IN SOCIOECONOMIC SITUATION.
President Yeltsin ordered the government on 10 September to take urgent measures to improve Russia's socioeconomic situation, Russian Public Television (ORT) reported. He gave the cabinet and Pension Fund two weeks to draft proposals on eliminating pension arrears, ordered the Finance Ministry to pay off all its debts to organizations funded from the federal budget by mid-1997, and instructed the government to improve the efficiency of tax collection. Yeltsin handed out many social benefits before the election but subsequently suspended many of them for lack of funds. -- Penny Morvant

JOURNALIST CRITICIZES MEDIA COVERAGE OF CHECHNYA.
Although the Russian public badly needs a thorough discussion of the Chechen conflict, the mass media is engaged in "stifling alternative opinions," according to a commentary by Gleb Pavlovskii in the 10 September Nezavisimaya gazeta. The author, who views the Lebed-Maskhadov peace agreement as a dangerous "capitulation," complained that Russian correspondents routinely ignored the opinions of military officials opposed to the agreement in order to build public consensus behind it. He noted that Russian journalists refer to Chechens who do not back the rebels as "puppets" of Moscow or "collaborators." Throughout the conflict, he charged, journalists have claimed that official secrecy on the Russian side gave them no choice but to relay Chechen propaganda as the "unem-bellished truth about the war." Unfortunately, the same journalists are now "kicking" the Russian army and federal authorities, the author concluded. -- Laura Belin

RUTSKOI DENIED REGISTRATION IN KURSK.
The Kursk Electoral Commission has rejected former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's application to participate in the local gubernatorial election because he has not lived in the oblast for the past year, Radio Rossii reported on 10 September. Rutskoi is now taking the matter to court. Former Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk was denied registration in Altai Krai for the same reason. In St. Petersburg, however, a court overturned a similar ruling on the candidacy of Yurii Boldyrev in that city's May gubernatorial election. Rutskoi is the candidate of the united opposition parties and is heavily favored to win. -- Robert Orttung

LUZHKOV DECLARES SEVASTO-POL A RUSSIAN CITY.
Following Lebed's announcement that the Security Council would take charge of Black Sea Fleet negotiations, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov announced that Sevastopol is a Russian city that should "not be lost or given up to anybody," Ekho Moskvy reported on 10 September. Luzhkov had earlier described Lebed's peace plans for Chechnya as "capitulation" and his statements now put Lebed in a difficult position since the Ukrainians are unlikely to allow the city to fall under exclusive Russian control. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vadim Dolhanov criticized Luzhkov's statement, saying it could only harm relations between Russia and Ukraine. He said that such views do not reflect Moscow's official position. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko said Russian officials had made no claims on Ukrainian territory during recent talks. -- Ustina Markus
and Robert Orttung

RUSSIA REACTS WITH CAUTION TO CHRISTOPHER PROPOSALS ON NATO . . .
While Russian officials welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher's recent announcement that a list of East European countries that will be invited to join NATO will not be released before next year, they remain implacably opposed to NATO expansion and believe discussions on the subject should be postponed further, according to a commentary in Segodnya on 10 September by military analyst Pavel Felgengauer. As for Christopher's suggestion that NATO formalize its relationship to Russia in a new charter, Russian officials could only accept such a charter if it would give Russia a voice equal to that of NATO members on matters of European security. But Moscow will reject the charter if it turns out to be only a prescription for "consultations" with Russia. -- Laura Belin

. . . BUT EXPRESSES INTEREST IN ATTENDING NATO MEETINGS.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov has agreed to attend an informal meeting of NATO defense chiefs later this month in Norway, where NATO's plans for eastward expansion will be discussed, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 September. On the same day, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said French President Jacques Chirac's suggestion that Russia attend a NATO summit in spring or summer 1997 has been met with "interest" in Moscow. -- Laura Belin

CHECHEN REPRESENTATION IN TURKEY.
The Chechen Foreign Ministry is operating out of a "prime location" on the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul, the Suddeutsche Zeitung reported on 11 September. The officially unrecognized office, described as the "General Representation of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria," has a staff of 20 people and is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Hosh-Ahmed Nukhayev. He is in charge of some 16 other representations located in other countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. -- Lowell Bezanis

ANOTHER STRIKE THREATENED IN PRIMORSKII KRAI.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Primore has announced its intention to stage a regional warning strike on 10 October, Radio Rossii and ORT reported on 10 October. The strike, in protest at the federal government's imposition of higher energy tariffs, could disrupt the Trans-Siberian railroad and stop work in the krai's ports. A regional power workers' strike has already been set for 16 September, but unlike the union federation, the Dalenergo workers want higher tariffs and the introduction of direct rule from Moscow in the krai. -- Penny Morvant

GOVERNMENT SEEKS MORE MONEY FOR PENSION FUND.
The government on 10 September submitted draft legislation to the Duma envisaging a 1% increase in most employer contributions to the Pension Fund and a larger increase in the agricultural sector, ITAR-TASS reported. Industrial employers currently pay 28% of their wage bill to the fund, and employees 1%. Under the draft, employees earning more than 1 million rubles ($187) a month would also pay a higher percentage of their earnings to the fund (up from 1% to 2-5%). The proposed changes would give the cash-strapped fund another 9 trillion rubles in 1997. The draft Pension Fund budget for 1997, submitted to the Duma on 31 August, envisages a 12% increase in pensions during the year. The Duma is likely to press for a larger rise. -- Penny Morvant

HEALTH MINISTRY OFFICIAL LAMENTS LACK OF FINANCING.
Russia may soon lose many of its clinics and medical research centers as a result of poor financing, Health Ministry spokesman Mikhail Klimkin warned on 10 September. Klimkin said that in the first half of 1996 the 167 scientific institutions under the ministry, including 79 research institutes and 46 central research laboratories, had only received enough money to pay modest salaries but could not afford to purchase equipment, ITAR-TASS reported. Klimkin said the Finance Ministry wants to increase the number of fee-based medical services but that the majority of the population cannot afford them. A simple operation in a top Moscow clinic costs up to 12 million rubles ($2,200). -- Penny Morvant



EMERGENCY SESSION OF AZER-BAIJANI PARLIAMENT.
The Azer-baijani parliament, the Milli Mejlis, is expected to open an extraordinary session on 11 September amid increasing speculation that parliament chairman Rasul Guliev is set to resign, according to international media. RFE/RL reported on 10 September that troop movements were being conducted in the capital, Baku. President Heidar Aliev's New Azerbaijan Party issued a statement accusing Guliev of placing his "ambitions above national interests and attempting to keep the economy under the control of a small group of people." The media has been predicting the resignation of Guliev, who is closely associated with the oil industry, for some time. -- Elin Suleymanov

GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ NEGOTIATIONS.
The Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations that resumed in Moscow on 9 September will focus on the return of refugees, a lifting of the economic blockade of Abkhazia, and the region's political status within Georgia, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 11 September. Pravda-5 quoted Georgian President Eduard Shevar-dnadze on 7 September as saying that if Georgian refugees are not allowed to return to the Gali region of Abkhazia before the end of 1996, he will insist on the immediate withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force from the area. In Ajaria, the Central Electoral Commission, citing a Soviet-era law, has decided to prohibit international observers from monitoring the Ajarian parliamentary election scheduled for the end of September, BGI reported on 10 September. -- Elin Suleymanov

GEORGIAN-UZBEK MILITARY COOPERATION.
Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze and his Uzbek counterpart, Rustam Akhme-dov, signed a package of bilateral military agreements in Tbilisi on 10 September, Georgian and Russian media reported the same day. The package includes an interstate treaty on military cooperation, an intergovernmental agreement on military and technical cooperation, another on cooperation between the two countries' Defense ministries, and a protocol on providing airfield and technical support and protection for aircraft from their respective airforces, according to a 10 September Iprinda report monitored by the BBC. The same day Akhmedov said the Uzbek government opposes the creation of a coalition of CIS armed forces, ITAR-TASS reported. Akhmedov suggested that such a grouping could lead to another Cold War. -- Lowell Bezanis

CORRECTION:
A sentence in an item on Azerbaijan in the 10 September edition of OMRI Daily Digest (Vol. 2, no. 175), should have read: "Dilenji, who said Azerbaijani officials have assured him that he would not be extradited to Iran, may have to choose between leaving Azerbaijan and halting his activities."



CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1997 BUDGET.
The government has approved a draft budget for 1997, UNIAN reported on 9 September. The draft foresees cuts in expenditures of the central and local governments, higher excise taxes on spirits and tobacco products, and fewer tax loopholes. The annual inflation rate is expected to fall to around 25%. The draft is to be submitted to parliament for final approval. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE.
Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mate Granic arrived in Kyiv on 9 September for a two-day official visit, Ukrainian reported on 10 September. Granic met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz. The foreign ministers confirmed the text of an agreement on friendship and cooperation, which should be signed next year when Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma visits Croatia. Granic expressed his approval of Ukrainian peacekeepers in Bosnia, and, according to Reuters, said that "for the formation of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state international forces should stay for two more years. Perhaps in a reduced way but they should definitely remain." The ministers also discussed increasing trade and economic cooperation. -- Ustina Markus & Stan Markotich

BELARUSIAN POLITICAL CRISIS CONTINUES.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka refused to accept the parliamentary by-election date, 24 November, as the date for his referendum, and continued pressing for the Bolshevik anniversary, 7 November, Russian Public Television reported on 10 September. Parliament demanded that Lukashenka amend by 15 September a series of his decrees which had been found to contravene the constitution, or face impeachment proceedings. The independent paper Svaboda noted on 6 September that although it will be easy to get the necessary 70 deputies to sign an impeachment motion, the anti-presidential bloc cannot be sure that it will have the 134 or two-thirds vote, needed to remove Lukashenka. The president has the firm backing of 60-70 deputies, and many other are still vacillating. Lukashenka addressed the nation on 10 September, saying the failure to pass his referendum would mean loss of statehood for Belarus. He identified the removal of the presidency as a return to the era of former parliamentary speaker Stanislau Shushkevich, when "indifference reigned supreme," and there was no one to lift the country out of the "gutter." -- Ustina Markus

PROGRESS MADE IN LATVIA, LITHUANIA BORDER TALKS.
Although Latvian and Lithuanian Prime Ministers Andris Skele and Mindaugas Stankevicius did not sign any agreements at their meeting on 9 September, the Lithuanian government information center announced the next day that the positions of both delegations became so much closer that an agreement could be reached in the next few days, Radio Lithuania reported. Stankevicius canceled a planned press conference so as not to reveal the compromises that had been reached. Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, however, noted that Latvia will acknowledge the Curonian Spit as part of Lithuania's seashore. This will extend the territory of Lithuania's economic sea zone not only northward, but also to the West so that it will touch Sweden's economic zone. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN ELECTION PREPARATIONS.
Lithuania's main political parties on 7 September held pre-election conferences to make minor changes to their candidate lists for the 20 October parliament elections, Radio Lithuania reported two days later. Supreme Election Commission Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas noted that although 33 political parties and organizations have the right to nominate candidates, none has officially filed its lists and fulfilled other requirements. The deadline is midnight on 15 September. Vaigauskas also noted that about 30 persons are attempting to collect the 1,000 signatures needed to run as independent candidates. Former Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius is the only candidate who has already completed this requirement. The election campaign officially begins on 20 September. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW SLOVAK FOREIGN MINIS-TER'S FOREIGN TRIPS.
Pavol Hamzik on 10 September held a series of meetings in Brussels to stress the importance of Slovakia's Western integration, Slovak media reported. The new minister began his foreign trips by first visiting Vienna on 4 September. He will travel to Prague on 12 September and to Budapest on 18 September. Meanwhile, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar will hold long-delayed bilateral talks with his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, during the Central European Free Trade Agreement summit on 13-14 September in Jasna, central Slovakia. Representatives of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania will also attend the summit. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAKIA'S LONG-AWAITED PARLIAMENT SESSION TO BEGIN.
Parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic did not place on the agenda of the parliament session beginning on 11 September a series of "democratization" proposals demanded by the opposition, Slovak media reported. These include giving opposition representatives partial control over the secret service, the National Property Fund, and Slovak TV and Radio. Gasparovic, who recently returned from a five-day U.S. visit, stated on 10 September that the earliest date for the admission of new NATO members will be 1998 or 1999, giving Slovakia a long time to resolve its problems. He said Slovakia has not been excluded from the first group of NATO candidates. Although admitting that the West has asked Bratislava to strengthen democracy, Gasparovic justified the delay in expanding the control organs by saying that an agreement between the opposition and the coalition was still lacking. -- Sharon Fisher

ANOTHER POLISH PEASANT PARTY MINISTER UNDER FIRE.
Culture Minister Leslaw Podkanski of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) was censured at the government session on 10 September. Podkanski has repeatedly made blunders showing that he has rather superficial knowledge of Poland's cultural affairs. Noted Polish cultural figures as emigre editor Jerzy Giedroyc and Nobel price laureate Czeslaw Milosz recently demanded his dismissal. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz obligated Podkanski to answer Giedroyc's criticism. Pod-kanski is the third PSL high official under fire recently. Foreign Trade Minister Jacek Buchacz was dismissed on Cimoszewicz's motion on 4 September, and Polish TV President Ryszard Miazek was criticized for his program and personnel policies after the recent TVP reshuffle (See OMRI Daily Digest 4, 5 September). -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH HELSINKI COMMITTEE AGAINST EXTRADITION OF CHINESE COUPLE.
The Polish Helsinki Committee said Warsaw should not agree with China's request to extradite the Mandugequi couple who are suspected of embezzling nearly $1 million from Chinese banks, Polish dailies reported on 10 September. They were detained in Poland in August based on an Interpol warrant, and the Polish side received the Chinese extradition request on 5 September. Earlier in August, China's deputy justice minister visited the Warsaw prosecutor's office, explaining that the Mandugequi couple is threatened with life imprisonment at most. The Polish Helsinki Committee argued that even minor offenses are punished by death in China. A Warsaw court extended their detention until 10 November. -- Jakub Karpinski

SWIMMING SCANDAL IN HUNGARY.
Tamas Gyarfas, Hungary's top swimming official, resigned on 9 September following allegations that 11 of 22 members of the country's swim team went to the Atlanta Olympics based on imaginary times at a qualifying meet that never took place, Hungarian and international media reported. Hungarian Olympic Committee officials said the discovery of fraud will not affect the team's results. Hungary won three gold medals, one silver, and a bronze in the Olympic swimming competition. Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze, who oversees sport, on 10 September called for an investigation. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN REFUGEE CAMP CLOSED.
The Nagyatad refugee camp in southern Hungary was closed on 9 September, Reuters reported. Since 1991, the camp has held thousands of Croatians and Bosnians fleeing the Yugoslav wars of succession. According to Hungarian officials, Hungary's refugee efforts no longer need facilities the size of Nagyatad since only 500 mainly Bosnian refugees remained in the camp that a few years earlier held 2,000 refugees. Nagyatad's remaining refugees are being transferred to a smaller refugee camp in Eastern Hungary, a step they oppose since it moves them further from home. -- Ben Slay



CROATIA'S NEW AMNESTY LAW.
Jacques Klein, the head of the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia, has said that a new amnesty bill will be discussed in Croatia's parliament, Croatian Radio reported on 10 September. According to Reuters, Croatia drafted the law on amnesty for Serbs living in eastern Slavonia at least partly in response to mounting international pressure demanding that the rebel minority Serbs fighting against Croatia in 1991 be pardoned. Few details of the legislation have yet been made public. Reuters also observed that "last month" the UN urged Croatia to adopt a "comprehensive amnesty law" covering all Serbs serving under civil or military in rebel-Serb held parts of Croatia, but excluding war criminals. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN ULTRANATIONALIST ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.
Accused war criminal and paramilitary leader of the Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ), Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, spoke at a 10 September rally for SSJ presidential candidate for the Bosnian Serb entity, Ljilja Peric-Tina, and blatantly revived calls for Serbian state expansion. Despite the fact that calls for secession are in contravention of the Dayton accord, Arkan told his 3,000 followers "Don't forget one thing, your capital and that of all Serbs is Bel-grade...Serbia, Montenegro and Republika Srpska - that is one state." Meanwhile, Serbian President Slobo-dan Milosevic, who has not expressly rejected the idea of a greater Serbia, has kept largely silent in response to the ultranationalist rhetoric, AFP reported. But on 4 September Beta reported that the OSCE provided Arkan's party with 300,000 marks (about $222,000) in campaign funds. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIA-MONTENEGRO UPDATE.
Job action at the Zastava arms production facility in Kragujevac continues, Nasa Borba reported on 11 September, although the hunger strike was abandoned on 6 September. On that date, the same daily reported the exacting toll the hunger strike was taking on participants under the headline "Hunger Strikers Collapsing of Exhaustion." In other news, Nasa Borba also reported that Montenegrin President Momir Bula-tovic had begun a working visit to the US. The daily said Bulatovic raised the issue of the status and future of the strategic Prevlaka peninsula, saying that it would be resolved "the peaceful way." Prevlaka belongs to Croatia, but controls access to Belgrade's only naval base. -- Stan Markotich

OSCE PENALIZES PARTIES VIOLATING ELECTORAL RULES.
Bosnian Serb ultra-nationalist Serb Democratic Party (SDS) was fined $50,000 after two of its top leaders called for secession from Bosnia over the weekend (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 September 1996), AFP reported on 11 September. The OSCE had warned that any candidates calling for secession would be barred from the 14 September vote, but the warning came too late. The SDS was also forced to ban displaying posters of its former head, indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. The party controlled television station and paper published on 10 September
a statement on the ban for the first time "without any disclaimer or slogan attached to it," AFP quoted OSCE spokeswoman Agota Kuperman as saying. Meanwhile, the OSCE also fined the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) $15,000 for painting its logo on the roads within the country. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROAT AND MUSLIM CAMPAIGNS CONTINUE.
Federation president Kresimir Zubak called on Bosnian Croats to express support for the Muslim-Croat federation and to return to formerly multi-ethnic towns where they could continue their life "as equal partners with Muslims," AFP reported on 11 September. Meanwhile, in Mostar, where some 50 Serbs and Muslims have been expelled from the Croat-held part of town since the beginning of the year, five families returned to their homes under Croatian police guard. In the Croat-held town of Stolac, a pilot project, blocked for two months, aimed at returning 100 Muslim families started this week. While Croats became softer in their campaigning, Muslims became tougher. Bosnian President and SDA leader Alija Izetbegovic at a 10 September rally in Tuzla said his party is the only one to protect Muslim interests, and there was a such thing as "enlightened nationalism." -- Daria Sito Sucic

EXPERTS FIND BONES AT MASS GRAVE LINKED TO SREBRENICA MASSACRE.
International experts on 10 September uncovered bones at a mass grave in Pilica, eastern Bosnia, believed to contain the bodies of hundreds of Muslims allegedly massacred by Serb forces in Srebrenica last summer, AFP reported. The Pilica site was discovered from information given to the UN International Criminal Tribunal by Drazen Erdemovic, a Croat who served in the Bosnian Serb army. Meanwhile, in The Hague, prosecution witnesses have failed to prove case against Dusko Tadic, a Bosnian Serb accused of killing 13 Muslims and torturing 18 others in the camps of Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje, northwest Bosnia. The defense is calling for Tadic's immediate acquittal, and the court is expected to rule on it by 13 September. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIA VOTES TO KEEP HOMOSEXUALITY A CRIME.
The Chamber of Deputies on 10 September overwhelmingly voted to keep homosexuality a crime, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported. The controversial Article 200 of the Penal Code, adopted by a vote of 174-39, provides for jail terms of up to three years for homosexual relations, with a five-year penalty if such relations took place in public. Deputies from the opposition National Peasant Party -- Christian Democratic also voted for maintaining the ban, originally imposed by executed Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. The vote toughened draft legislation adopted by the Senate in March, but which was not passed by the Chamber and which made homosexuality a crime only if it "causes public scandal." Romania's new justice minister Ion Predescu authored the version passed by the Chamber of Deputies which the Senate has not yet approved. It goes against the urging of the Council of Europe that Romania should decriminalize homosexuality. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN WONDER-HEALER TO CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENCY.
Constantin Mudava on 10 September was the fifth person to formally register as a candidate in the presidential race on 3 November, Radio Bucharest reported. He collected 128,000 signatures in support of his candidacy. In a short statement, Mudava promised "to heal the people and the country from both the medical and the economic point of view." -- Dan Ionescu

TIRASPOL GARRISON COMMANDANT ON MOLDOVAN ELECTIONS.
Col. Mikhail Bergman, the recently reinstated commandant of the Russian troops garrison in Tiraspol, described the ban on the Dniester inhabitants' participation in the 17 November Moldovan presidential election as a "gross human rights violation," Infotag reported on 10 September. Bergman, a close associate of Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, strongly criticized the "separatist admini-stration's decision not to allow the functioning of polling stations in the region." According to him, the main culprit was Dniester Security Minister Vadim Shevtsov, whom he called "a criminal" who seeks to destabilize the situation in the region for fear that peace would mean his being delivered to justice for "numerous crimes in both the Dniester region and earlier in Riga." -- Dan Ionescu

COMPROMISE ON BULGARIAN COAT OF ARMS IMMINENT?
The parliamentary faction of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 10 September proposed to the opposition that the constitutional provision on the coat of arms be changed, Duma and Kontinent reported. The recently adopted coat of arms depicting a rampant lion without a crown was vetoed by President Zhelyu Zhelev. The parliament must vote on his veto by 17 September. Opposition demands that the lion be crowned meet are strongly resisted by parts of the BSP. The constitution is unclear on the question. The BSP faction will propose delaying the vote on the veto -- originally scheduled for today -- and start talks about a constitutional amendment, hoping to reach a compromise by the end of the week. BSP presidential candidate, Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, in a state TV address said he favors a crowned lion. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT TO HEAD NEW LIBERAL FORMATION.
A "Liberal-Democratic Union" led by Zhelyu Zhelev will be formed by the end of September, 24 chasa reported
on 11 September. This was announced after a meeting on 10 September between Zhelev and the leaders of the New Choice party, New Democracy party, and the Radical-Democratic Party Outside the Union of Democratic Forces. The new group will support a presidential republic or at least a strong presidential administration as well as powerful municipal administrations. Zhelev said the new formation will most likely support the united opposition candidates, Petar Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldzhiev, in the upcoming presidential elections. He said that none of the three parties will support the candidacy of former caretaker Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova. -- Maria Koinova and Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR WANTS JAIL TERMS FOR COMMUNISTS.
The prosecution on 10 September demanded that four Albanians charged with trying to found a communist party and conspiring to overthrow the government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 July 1996) be sentenced to prison terms between one and three years, Reuters reported. Prosecutor Kadri Skeraj asked for three-year terms for Timoshenko Pekmezi and Sami Meta and for one-year sentences for Tare Isufi and Kristaq Mosko. He said that "they should be sentenced not for their communist convictions and ideas but for propagating them -- something which is anti-constitutional." The defendants previously denied that they supported violence or anti-constitutional methods. The parliament outlawed all communist organizations in July 1992. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Saulius Girnius





XS
SM
MD
LG