Accessibility links

Newsline - September 27, 1996

At a press conference marking his 100th day as Security Council secretary, Aleksandr Lebed again warned that the Russian military "is practically on the brink of mutiny" because of severe financial problems, Russian and Western media reported on 26 September. He declared that "it requires a huge effort for [the army] to restrain itself." He ruled out a military coup attempt, however, adding that "we are not Argentina, thank God." This comment provoked the Argentine Foreign Ministry to call in a Russian diplomat in Buenos Aires and express its "displeasure." Meanwhile, the executive committee of the Federation of Trade Unions of Employees and Servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces issued a strike warning effective from 1 October. Spartak Arzhavkin, the union's chairman, said the Defense Ministry now owes some 10 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) in back wages to servicemen and employees. In an interview published in Krasnaya zvezda on 27 September, Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits said that as an emergency measure one trillion rubles is being released to the Defense Ministry. -- Scott Parrish

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told a cabinet meeting on 26 September that ministers should not lobby in the Duma for extra funds, but should present a united front in support of the 1997 budget draft, Russian Television (RTR) reported. He said a special government commission will be created to deal with financing the Defense Ministry and other power ministries in 1996 and 1997, chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin. The commission will negotiate the level of financing for the armed forces in the 1997 budget and address the problems of indebtedness and non-payments. Chernomyrdin accused some regional authorities of charging defense ministry installations energy and transport fees higher than the Russian average, according to Kommersant-Daily. On the other hand, the Defense Ministry itself owes some 5 trillion rubles to companies from which they ordered equipment. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland

Addressing Chechen field commanders during the night of 25-26 September, Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov identified as his most important tasks the disarmament of all clan formations in order to preclude intra-Chechen clashes, the neutralization of armed robbers posing as resistance fighters who discredit the Chechen side, and assisting the smooth withdrawal from Chechnya of Russian federal troops, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported. Speaking on Grozny TV on 26 September, field commander Shamil Basaev accused the Russian security services of trying to sow dissent among the various Chechen factions. Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed on 27 September flew from Moscow to the Ingush capital, Nazran, where he will meet with the leaders of the North Caucasus republics. According to NTV, Maskhadov and acting Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev will represent Chechnya at this meeting; pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev is not invited. -- Liz Fuller

The Supreme Court on 26 September rejected former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's appeal to allow him to register as a candidate for the 20 October Kursk Oblast gubernatorial elections, NTV reported. Rutskoi plans to appeal to the Supreme Court's presidium. The local electoral commission rejected his registration on the grounds that he has not been a resident of the oblast for the past year. Rutskoi, who has the support of the Communist Party, blamed his failure on the incumbent governor's efforts to keep him out of the race and his belief that the "law does not function" in Russia today. -- Robert Orttung

The Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Duma voted on 25 September to ignore a presidential decree ordering it to hold elections for the Tyumen Oblast governor simultaneously with the election of the Khanty-Mansi governor, RIA-Novosti, as monitored by the BBC, reported. The problem arises from the fact that both the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrugs are within the territory of Tyumen Oblast even though they all have equal status as units of the Russian Federation (See OMRI Russian Regional Report, 25 September 1996). All three units should vote for the Tyumen Oblast governor, but the Khanty-Mansi decision, combined with a similar action by Yamal-Nenets on 19 September, means that the two areas, rich in oil and gas, have effectively withdrawn from Tyumen Oblast and declared themselves independent. The Tyumen elections are set for 27 October. -- Robert Orttung

Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko on 26 September removed Vladivostok Mayor Konstantin Tolstoshein from office, in accordance with a presidential decree reinstating his predecessor Viktor Cherepkov, ORT and ITAR-TASS reported. Tolstoshein accused presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais and Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) leader Yegor Gaidar of using the conflict in Vladivostok to further their own political aims. Chubais and Nazdratenko have long been at odds, and Cherepkov is a high-ranking member of Gaidar's party. The presidential representative in Primore, Vladimir Ignatenko, said he also did not agree with the decision to reinstate Cherepkov, Kommersant-Daily reported on 27 September. Meanwhile, workers at the Primorskii power plant at Luchegorsk were expected to end their 24-day-old hunger strike on 27 September after 180 billion rubles ($33 million) arrived in the krai to pay back wages to workers in the Dalenergo power company, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin

Public Salvation Committees are being set up on a voluntary basis to deal with the economic emergency caused by payments arrears in mining towns of Kemerovo Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 September. The first committee appeared in Prokopevsk, whose 300,000 residents are mainly dependent on the coal industry. The debts of the coal company Rosugol have devastated the local budget, which cannot afford to pay public employees such as doctors and teachers. The city's Salvation Committee has sent a telegram to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin asking him to resolve the situation. Earlier this week, Kemerovo Oblast officials and union leaders said the area had yet to receive its share of the first half of a $500 million World Bank loan to the coal industry, contending that the Finance Ministry had spent it on other needs. -- Penny Morvant and Ritsuko Sasaki

Valeriya Novodvorskaya, leader of the radical Democratic Union, went on trial in Moscow for allegedly spreading hatred towards people of Russian nationality, Russian media reported on 26 September. The case against Novodvorskaya (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 April 1996) consists of an interview with Estonian television, in which she ascribed "laziness, poverty, spinelessness, and slavery" to the Russian mentality, and articles she wrote in Novyi vzglyad in 1993 and 1994, which suggested that a "manic-depressive psychosis" is a typical Russian trait. Her defenders claim the articles were merely political satire and that her accusers, including a 20-year veteran of the KGB, have a score to settle with the longtime dissident. The Russian PEN center issued a statement comparing the "fabricated" case against Novodvorskaya to political trials of the Soviet period, Ekspress-khronika reported. -- Laura Belin

Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov met with his NATO counterparts in Bergen, Norway on 26 September to discuss the alliance's proposed enlargement and the future of the Bosnian peace implementation force (IFOR), Russian and Western media reported. While NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana described the talks as "very positive," little apparent progress was made on the NATO expansion issue. Rodionov argued that, since the West acknowledges that Russia now presents no military threat, there is no "strategic necessity" for the alliance to expand. He reiterated that "despite all attempts to justify NATO expansion, our public opposes this idea." Departing from some earlier Russian statements, however, Rodionov said Moscow would continue to cooperate with NATO, even if it expanded. He added that Russia will participate in a follow-on force to IFOR if the UN Security Council extends its mandate. -- Scott Parrish

While in Bergen, Rodionov and his American and Norwegian counterparts, William Perry and Jorgen Kosmo, signed an agreement creating a $2 million Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation program to deal with radioactive waste from decommissioned Russian naval nuclear reactors, Russian and Western agencies reported on 26 September. Norway and Russian environmentalists have long expressed concern about the safety of decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines based in Murmansk Oblast. On the same day, Lebed said two-thirds of these submarines were in "dangerous condition," and that three of them were leaking radioactivity. -- Scott Parrish

Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha has suggested the creation of a new fund to support the agro-industrial complex, RTR reported on 25 September. To raise money for farm credits, Zaveryukha proposed increasing customs duties on all imported foodstuffs by 20%, introducing a tax on operations with foreign currency, and increasing excise taxes on domestic consumer goods. He also supported the government's 21 September decision to introduce quotas on vodka imports in 1997. -- Natalia Gurushina

The situation in Yerevan on 26-27 September remained tense and confused: tanks were deployed in the city center and troops dispersed groups of bystanders, according to The New York Times of 27 September. RFE/RL reported that main roads into Yerevan are blocked and that some classes at Yerevan State University have been suspended. It is not clear whether criminal charges have been formally filed against the eight opposition deputies whose immunity was lifted by an almost unanimous parliamentary vote on 26 September. Also unclear is the fate of opposition presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan: reports of his arrest on 26 September were based on a case of mistaken identity, according to RFE/RL, and an Interior Ministry spokesman claimed that he is in hiding. Reuters quoted Central Electoral Commission Chairman Khachatour Bezirjian as stating that Manukyan, as a presidential candidate, has immunity from arrest until 29 September. The CEC is investigating claims of malpractice during the vote count at 20 precincts, according to RFE/RL. The presidents of Russia, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan have all congratulated President Levon Ter-Petrossyan on his reelection, RTR reported. -- Liz Fuller

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze will not after all travel to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, his press spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. Abashidze attributed Shevardnadze's decision to internal tensions arising from the decisions of the South Ossetiyan and Abkhaz parliaments to hold presidential and parliamentary elections respectively. Also on 26 September, the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz parliament- in-exile voted for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces from Abkhazia and against any further Georgian participation in Russian-mediated negotiations on solving the Abkhaz problem unless a breakthrough is achieved in the near future, Radio Mayak reported. -- Liz Fuller

Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev told a Russian State Duma delegation on 26 September that he favors closer cooperation in all spheres on a mutually favorable basis, Turan reported. Aliyev accused the Russian leadership of double standards in insisting that Chechnya is a constituent part of the Russian Federation but allegedly not adhering to the same argument with regard to Nagorno-Karabakh; he said that Russia is uniquely placed to effect a solution of the Karabakh conflict but is not yet using all the means at its disposal to do so. -- Liz Fuller

Between 60 and 70 scholars, writers and members of political movements staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Kazakstani parliament building on 26 September, RFE/RL reported. The rally was organized by the Azamat and Kazak Tili (Kazak language) movements and demonstrators demanded that a draft law giving the Russian language equal status to Kazak not be adopted. Karavan Blitz reported on 24 September that Russian nationalists claim that adopting the law still does not go far enough to prevent discrimination against the Russian population, while Kazak national movements say the law goes too far. Under the present constitution, Kazak is the only official language. -- Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

Taliban fighters took control of Kabul on 26 September, causing immediate anxiety in Moscow and Dushanbe. Moscow registered its serious concern and called for a cessation of hostilities, Russian media reported. Dushanbe and the Russian border guards in Tajikistan made it clear they still support the government of Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, RTR reported the same day. Moscow has widely been viewed as a supporter of Rabbani and the forces allied to him -- who were Moscow's staunchest opponents during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The latest developments represent a blow to Moscow and Dushanbe's efforts to neutralize the Tajik opposition based in Afghanistan. -- Lowell Bezanis and Bruce Pannier

A Ukrainian government commission has concluded that the three recorded increases in neutron emissions at Chornobyl's fourth nuclear reactor this month caused no rise in radiation levels, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 September. Committee Chairman Viktor Chebrov said the incidents have posed "neither a nuclear threat nor a threat of sarcophagus destruction," as claimed recently by Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko. Ukrainian and Western agencies reported that President Leonid Kuchma has admonished Kostenko for trying to "intimidate people" with his warnings of a possible steam explosion at the reactor. But he added that the uncertainty over the condition of the concrete-encased reactor will prompt him to press the G-7 powers at a meeting next month in Paris to help construct a new covering. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian press has published numerous articles skeptical of government reassurances that there is no danger at Chornobyl. Russian media have claimed Kyiv wanted to "blackmail" the West into providing more money with unsubstantiated claims of an imminent nuclear threat. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, in New York, has said Ukraine supports the "one China" policy and regards Taiwan as a province of China, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 September. He added that Ukraine attaches great importance to its relations with Beijing and will not be establishing official contacts with Taipei. Qian responded that both China and Ukraine have the same problems in safeguarding their territorial integrity. Ukrainian-Chinese relations suffered a setback last month when Taiwanese Prime Minister Lien Chan paid a private visit to Ukraine, which was depicted as an official visit by the Taiwanese media. Beijing retaliated by canceling an official visit to Kyiv by a high-ranking Chinese delegation. The affair was smoothed over following assurances from Kyiv that it upheld China's position on Taiwan. -- Ustina Markus

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has refused to sign amendments to the law on elections and referendums, Belapan reported on 24 September. He disagreed with the deletion of a provision allowing donations from citizens, enterprises, and organizations to be used for holding a referendum. Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Viktar Hanchar revealed that an account at the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) for holding a referendum had been opened as long ago as 1 January, before there was any mention of a referendum. Hanchar said his information came from NBB chairwoman Tamara Vinnikau. He also said funds from state budget revenues have been transferred to the account. Lukashenka had promised he would not use money from the state budget for the referendum and that it would be funded by voluntary contributions. Hanchar said the account was a disgrace, adding that only the Central Electoral Commission had the right to open accounts to finance referendums. -- Ustina Markus

The president's administration has refused the 'zero option" whereby the presidential referendum will be canceled if parliament refrains from holding its proposed ballot. The option was proposed as a compromise to avert conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Deputy head of the administration Alyaksandr Abramovich said it was not a constructive solution. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Belarusian deputy parliamentary speaker Hendz Karpenka said Belarus will not be able to improve its economy without integration with Russia. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he foresaw more interference from the West in Belarus's political affairs. He also said the right road for Belarus was to be a presidential republic like Russia, not a parliamentary one. -- Ustina Markus

Juri Estam, editor of Kultuur ja Elu, has filed an appeal to the Tallinn Regional Court protesting the Tallinn City Court's 19 September ruling on President Lennart Meri's oath of conscience, BNS reported on 26 September. Estam, together with parliamentary deputies Villu Muuripeal and Eldur Parder, had asked the regional court to rule on whether Meri violated the oath of conscience he took in 1992. Estam alleges that Meri actively cooperated with the Society for Cultural Relations with Estonians Abroad (VEKSA), which was subordinated to the KGB, and thus falsely claimed not to have collaborated with organizations involved in persecuting people. Tallinn City Court judge Tiiu Hiuvain threw out the case, arguing that it did not fall under the city court's jurisdiction. Under the 1992 oath of conscience law, any individual can file a court case alleging the validity of the oath taken. The burden of proof, however, lies with the contestant. -- Saulius Girnius

The Saeima on 26 September dismissed Ilga Kreituse as its head, BNS reported. The vote had been expected since Kreituse quit the Democratic Party Saimnieks on learning she was about to be expelled (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 September 1996). Saeima Deputy Chairman Alfreds Cepanis of Saimnieks, the only candidate proposed as her replacement, was elected in a secret ballot. Aigars Jirgens, a deputy of For the Fatherland and Freedom, was elected deputy chairman. -- Saulius Girnius

Leaders of the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), meeting on 25-26 September after a weeks-long controversy, have settled a dispute over proposed government reform. The PSL wanted the current government to be dismissed and a new one formed, while the SLD wanted ministers to be gradually replaced by the president on the premier's initiative. The PSL argued that such an approach would introduce a presidential system through the back door. Both parties are close to agreement on the division of portfolios in the restructured government. Tensions between the SLD and the PSL have recently been exacerbated over the dismissal of Foreign Trade Minister Jacek Buchacz (PSL) on the initiative of Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz of the SLD (OMRI Daily Digest, 5 September 1996). The Sejm on 26 September approved both Cimoszewicz's explanation on
government reform and Buchacz's dismissal. -- Jakub Karpinski

Wieslaw Kaczmarek, privatization minister for almost the past three years, has assessed the ministry's work prior to its closure on 1 October and it replacement by the Treasury Ministry. Among the ministry's biggest successes, Kaczmarek said, were launching the restructure of 1,322 companies, an increase in foreign investment, and the introduction of new privatization schemes, such as the National Investment Funds. He criticized the idea of nominating a provisional head for the Treasury instead of a minister, which, he said, may slow down privatization. Kaczmarek is a candidate for the Treasury portfolio, but his candidacy is opposed by the PSL. -- Jakub Karpinski and Beata Pasek

The Central Election Committee has rejected the applications of more than 80 candidates (out of a total of 574) for the fall elections to the Senate, Czech media reported. The reasons for the rejections are mostly mistakes or omissions in filling out the application forms. Former Czech Prime Minister Petr Pithart, Trade Union Leader Richard Falbr, Czech Ambassador to Germany Jiri Grusa, and former Communist leader Jiri Svoboda are among those whose applications have been turned down by the committee. Unsuccessful applicants can appeal to the Supreme Court. Leading Czech politicians have criticized the committee's decision, arguing that candidates could have been asked to correct the mistakes rather than being disqualified. -- Jiri Pehe

Josef Lux, chairman of the coalition People's Party-Christian and Democratic Union, on 26 September said the government's decision to return some Church property was "insufficient," Czech media reported. Lux criticized the government for not including forests among those assets to be returned. He added that although the government's decision is "a step in the right direction," it fails to observe fully coalition agreements, concluded in June, specifying that forests would be returned. Meanwhile, Jan Kalvoda, chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance, told journalists on 26 September that "it is premature to talk about violating the coalition agreements." -- Jiri Pehe

The Slovak parliament on 26 September announced that Slovak TV's second channel will begin broadcasting via satellite from 1 January 1997, Slovak media reported. This step will free many terrestrial frequencies currently used by Slovak TV. The Board for Television and Radio Broadcasting is expected soon to grant a license to a new nationwide private TV station, TV Koliba, which will use the frequencies freed by Slovak TV's second channel. TV Koliba is reportedly backed by leaders of Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. Another nationwide private TV station. Markiza, began broadcasting in August. -- Jiri Pehe

The Slovak parliament has approved an amendment to the law on higher education increasing the Education Ministry's competence in allotting subsidies, Slovak media reported. Almost 100 changes were proposed during the discussion of the bill. The most controversial amendment gives the Education Ministry the right to veto appointments of professors and assistant professors, which are to be left to the university councils. The original version of the law empowered the ministry to make those appointments, causing a stir within the academic community. The Universities Council and Rectors' Conference described the plan as the "liquidation of centuries-old academic rights and freedoms." Education Minister Eva Slavkovska expressed satisfaction with the "compromise" amendment. The opposition, however, reacted by proposing a vote of no-confidence in Slavkovska, which will be taken during the parliament's October session. -- Jiri Pehe

Jozsef Eigner, in a recent interview with the daily Uj Magyarorszag, has accused Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Speaker of Parliament Zoltan Gal, and deputy Matyas Szuros of working as secret service agents under the communist regime. All three rejected his allegations, Hungarian dailies reported on 27 September. Eigner formerly served on a committee established by the previous government to check the backgrounds of key public figures and root out those who had been secret agents. He was eventually removed from the committee after it was alleged that while serving as a judge in the 1950s, he had passed some sentences of a political nature. The committee was subsequently abolished, and its successor set up only recently following amendments to its mandate. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, the allegation is "groundless" and is clearly aimed at trouble-making, slander, and discrediting the prime minister. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

President Alija Izetbegovic has said that the new three-man presidency will meet in Sarajevo on 30 September, AFP reported on 26 September. He noted that failure to hold the session will signal "the division of Bosnia" and that he is sure the Serbian representative, Momcilo Krajisnik, will attend. Krajisnik, who has said he does not feel safe in Sarajevo, argued that the meeting should be held on the border between the Croatian-Muslim Federation and the Republika Srpska. Izetbegovic accused the Serbs of "coming up with reasons" to prevent the meeting taking place, such as insisting that the Muslims release some 30 remaining Serbian prisoners. Meanwhile in Pale, Bosnian Serb Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha slammed Izetbegovic, who had spoken at the UN. Buha said that Izetbegovic's remarks revealed his "Islamic fundamentalism" and that he is consequently incapable of leading a Bosnia that includes Serbs and Croats as well. ^ Patrick Moore

Federal ombudsmen have accused the police of violating human rights in every canton, Onasa reported on 26 September. The ombudsmen said the police hold prisoners for longer than the legal limit without telling their families. The police also drag out investigations for up to three years, and still make charges against people who served in the Serbian or Croatian armies despite the amnesty, the ombudsmen added. People have been denied passports and have been intimidated from visiting the ombudsmen's office in Mostar. -- Patrick Moore

Gen. Jovan Divjak has appealed to Serbs living on federal territory to form their own political party and seek their own voice in Bosnian politics. Divjak is a Bosnian Serb who remained loyal to the Bosnian government and held a command throughout the war. But he was cashiered when the Muslim Party of Democratic Action consolidated its control over the military. He pointed out that the Serbs make up "10% to 15% of the population on the territory controlled by the government but on the list of candidates [there] they were not even 1%." Divjak said that the existing Serbian Civic Council is not enough and that the loyalist Serbs need a real political party, Oslobodjenje reported on 27 September. -- Patrick Moore

Foreign ministers of the International Contact Group on 26 September said that UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia will shortly be lifted, Reuters reported. A statement on the meeting said the ministers "looked forward to early certification of the [14 September] Bosnian elections and to the lifting of sanctions by the UN Security Council soon thereafter." British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind commented that "it's days we're talking about, not weeks." Robert Frowick, head of the OSCE mission in Bosnia, told the meeting he expected to announce final election results within 48 hours. The ministers were meeting to discuss how to shore up peace following the ballot and get the joint presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina to start working. That body is scheduled to meet next week. -- Fabian Schmidt

Former Yugoslav Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic on 26 September addressed a demonstration of more than 10,000 in Kragujevac, where workers at the local arms and automobile plants have been on strike for 30 days, Nasa Borba reported. Avramovic--who was sacked on 15 May after publicly falling out of favor with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic over his economic reform program--attacked the Serbian authorities. He is quoted as saying that "one should make those cadres who do not leave the [comfort of] their cars use tram No. 2 so that they see in what miserable conditions [the rest of] the world lives. They have no clue how it is to live with a salary of 300 to 400 dinar. I was thunderstruck when I learned that you are fighting for 230 dinars." He also criticized the "old bureaucratic leadership of the trade unions." -- Fabian Schmidt

The Romanian Senate on 26 September ratified the basic bilateral treaty with Hungary, Radio Bucharest and Western media reported. The treaty was signed 10 days ago in Timisoara by the prime ministers of the two countries. Senators representing the ultra-nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity voted against ratification of the treaty. They were joined by several senators from the Socialist Labor Party, the Greater Romanian Party, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, the main political organization representing Romania's Hungarian minority. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu attended the session. The treaty, which is expected to end the long-standing rivalry over Transylvania and help improve the situation of the 1.5 million-strong Hungarian minority in Romania, is considered vital for the two countries' aspirations to join the EU and NATO. -- Dan Ionescu

Nicu Ceausescu, the youngest son of late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, died on 26 September in a Vienna hospital from the effects of cirrhosis of the liver, Western agencies reported. Nicu (45), who had the reputation of a hard-drinking playboy, was generally seen in the 1980s as his father's heir apparent. A communist party boss in Sibiu County, Nicu was sentenced in 1990 to five years in jail for his alleged role in the slaying of 91 persons during the December 1989 revolt, which toppled his father. His parents were executed on Christmas Day 1989. Nicu was freed in November 1992 for medical reasons. Earlier this month, he was flown to Vienna, where he was on the waiting list for a liver transplant. -- Dan Ionescu

The Supreme Soviet (parliament) of the self-declared Dniester Moldovan Republic has scheduled the presidential elections for 22 December, Infotag reported on 26 September. At the same time, it adopted the law on presidential elections following stormy debates in which demands were made to postpone the elections because of the dire economic and social situation in the region. Some deputies said the existing rivalry between the self-styled president of the region, Igor Smirnov, and parliamentary chairman Grigorii Marakutsa may lead to further de-stabilization. With a population of some 720,000, the Dniester region broke away from Moldova in 1990. The Republic of Moldova, which has not recognized Dniester independence, sees elections there as illegal. -- Dan Ionescu

Leading Bulgarian economist Georgi Petrov on 26 September said that hyperinflation is inevitable unless money-losing enterprises are rapidly privatized, international media reported. Even though the Central Bank hiked the base interest to 300% this week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1996), people continue to cash their leva for dollars in non-stop exchange offices in Sofia, Reuters reported. In an effort to rescue their money, more than 150 Sofia citizens stood in line on 26 September outside the National bank to obtain treasury bonds, which could yield an annual interest rate of about 450%. -- Maria Koinova

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave