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.
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. --
ZAVGAEV NOT INCLUDED IN FEDERATION COUNCIL COMMISSION ON CHECHNYA.
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.
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
-- Robert Orttung
KREMLIN: YELTSIN IS SIGNING HIS OWN DECREES.
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." --
YELTSIN ORDERS IMPROVEMENT IN SOCIOECONOMIC SITUATION.
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.
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
LUZHKOV DECLARES SEVASTO-POL A RUSSIAN CITY.
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
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.
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. --
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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." --
PROGRESS MADE IN LATVIA, LITHUANIA BORDER TALKS.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
"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.
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