Accessibility links

Newsline - September 30, 1996


LEBED: YELTSIN SHOULD TRANSFER POWER UNTIL RECOVERY COMPLETE.
In an interview published in the 28 September issue of Moskovskii komsomolets, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed said that until President Boris Yeltsin makes a full recovery from his heart problems, he should hand over his authority to an acting president. Lebed argued that it was a "dangerous precedent" for Yeltsin to remain in power nominally while others run the country for him. Presidential aides have indicated that Yeltsin will formally transfer power to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for a brief period during his heart operation. Unlike Communist Party leaders, who recently called for the creation of a state medical commission that could force the president to step down, Lebed stressed that the decision should be entirely up to Yeltsin. -- Laura Belin

LEBED MEETS WITH NORTH CAUCASUS LEADERS.
Russian Security Council Secretary Lebed met in Nazran on 27 September with leaders of the North Caucasus republics who unanimously expressed their support for the Chechen peace process, Russian and Western agencies reported. Lebed subsequently announced that acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev (who did not attend the Nazran meeting because of health problems) will travel to Moscow on 1 October for talks with Russian leaders, AFP reported. Sergei Glazev, head of the Security Council's Economic Department, accompanied Lebed to Nazran and met with Yandarbiev in Novye Atagi to discuss Russian-Chechen economic relations, according to Radio Mayak. Also on 27 September, representatives of the Chechen separatists and Russian federal forces met in Grozny to discuss an exchange of prisoners, ITAR-TASS reported. On 29 September, AFP reported that three Italian medical aid workers have disappeared in Chechnya. -- Liz Fuller

"NUCLEAR SUITCASE" SECRETS DISCUSSED.
As President Yeltsin prepares to temporarily sign over his powers to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, an article in Ogonek no. 39 lays out the history of the "suitcase" through which the Russian president can authorize the launch of nuclear weapons. Three officials carry "suitcases": the president, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, and Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov. It is not clear how many of the three "suitcases" are needed to authorize a launch. The article points out that the suitcase has more political than military significance. Information about its existence is periodically leaked for political effect--as in January 1995, when President Yeltsin said he was monitoring the launch of a weather rocket from Norway. Discussing whose finger is on the button is a way of reminding the West that Russia is still a nuclear power. The current "Kazbek" suitcase system was introduced in 1983, and is reportedly in need of a technical overhaul. -- Peter Rutland

DAY OF MOURNING FOR VICTIMS OF BUS/TRAIN COLLISION.
President Yeltsin declared 28 September a national day of mourning for the 21 children killed in Rostov Oblast when a train crashed into a school bus on 26 September, Russian media reported. Another 16 children and three adults were injured in the collision. Since both the president and his wife Naina remain hospitalized (she is recovering from a recent kidney operation), Yeltsin's younger daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, traveled to Rostov to attend the 28 September funeral. -- Laura Belin

INCUMBENT RE-ELECTED EASILY IN ROSTOV . . .
Preliminary results for the 29 September Rostov Oblast gubernatorial election indicate that Governor Vladimir Chub easily defeated his main challenger, Communist-backed candidate Leonid Ivanchenko, by a margin of 62% to 32%, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Despite the recent traffic tragedy in the oblast and heavy rains on election day, turnout was about 42%, which is higher than in other regions that have recently held gubernatorial elections. -- Laura Belin

. . . BUT OPPOSITION WINS IN LENINGRAD OBLAST.
Governor Aleksandr Belyakov, the incumbent, lost out to Communist-backed challenger Vadim Gustov in the 29 September Leningrad Oblast gubernatorial election, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. Belyakov, appointed by President Yeltsin in 1991, had been expected to win. According to preliminary data, Gustov took about 53% of the vote to Belyakov's 32%. Turnout was a low 34%, a factor that likely aided the challenger. Gustov headed the Leningrad Oblast Soviet until that body was dissolved in 1993 in the wake of the standoff between Yeltsin and the Russian Supreme Soviet. Though backed by the Communists, Gustov insists that he is an independent who favors the free market. He campaigned vigorously in rural areas, while Belyakov dominated local television screens, RFE/RL reported. -- Penny Morvant

COMMUNIST WINS AMUR OBLAST GOVERNORSHIP.
Confirming earlier unofficial reports, the Amur Oblast Electoral Commission announced on 27 September that Communist candidate Anatolii Belonogov won the region's 22 September gubernatorial election, according to an Interfax report monitored by the BBC. It said that 102,684 votes (41.77%) went to Belonogov and 102,495 (41.69%) to incumbent governor Yurii Lyashko. But it appears the result may be challenged. The regional procurator claimed that there were many irregularities during the voting, while Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) head Nikolai Ryabov earlier urged the local commission to defer any official announcement of the result until such irregularities were examined. -- Penny Morvant

POWER WORKERS' STRIKE ENDS IN PRIMORE.
Following the transfer of 180 billion rubles ($33 million) to Primore to pay overdue wages to power workers, employees of the Dalenergo electricity company on 27 September suspended a regional strike begun on 16 September, ITAR-TASS reported. The head of the strike committee, Gennadii Tkachuk, said the decision had been made after the arrival of a payment order and detailed instructions to Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko from First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov stipulating how the money should be spent. The 25-day hunger strike at the Primorskii power plant was also suspended, but subsequent reports said that 16 power workers were continuing their fast. Meanwhile, Nazdratenko signed a resolution on 27 September appointing Konstantin Tolstoshein, the mayor of Vladivostok until Viktor Cherepkov was reinstated to that post, first deputy governor of Primorskii Krai. Cherepkov returned to Vladivostok on 29 September. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN: NATO-RUSSIA PACT MUST PRECEDE EXPANSION.
President Yeltsin has demanded that a NATO-Russia partnership agreement be concluded before the alliance "decides the issue of restructuring and expansion," Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin, who made the demand at a 28 September meeting with Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, said "it would not do" for the alliance to expand first, and then work out the details of its relationship with Moscow. Building on a recent proposal by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher for a NATO-Russia pact, Yeltsin's comments are the latest sign that Moscow views NATO expansion as inevitable but still hopes to influence the terms under which it occurs. The next day, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov reiterated his long-standing threats to revise "a whole series" of arms control agreements if NATO expands. Such threats may now aim at influencing the proposed NATO-Russia pact, rather than blocking expansion altogether. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON MIDDLE EAST CRISIS.
Arriving in Morocco for a two-day official visit on 29 September, Primakov implicitly blamed Israel for the recent fighting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Russian and Western agencies reported. Primakov said "Israel should put an end to actions against Palestinians," and hailed the passage of a UN Security Council resolution urging the immediate resumption of the Middle East peace process and indirectly calling on Israel to close the disputed tunnel in Jerusalem. While Russia supported the resolution, the U.S. took Israeli objections into account and abstained. -- Scott Parrish

SHARE-LOAN AUCTION FOLLOW-UP.
The government has reached agreement with the Security Council over the rules under which shares won in last year's loan auctions will be sold off, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 September. Banks that gained blocks of shares in return for loans to the government will now be allowed to sell them. However, foreigners will not be permitted to acquire more than 15% of the shares of the oil companies involved, and will be entirely barred from purchasing shares in Norilsk Nickel and the North West River Steamer company. The government will have the right to participate in the sales (and thus repurchase the shares). The fact that First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin felt obliged to sign an agreement on this subject with Aleksandr Lebed indicates that the Security Council is an organization that cannot be ignored. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIA GETS NEW WORLD BANK LOANS.
The World Bank has agreed to provide Russia two more loans worth $159 million, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. The first credit ($89 million) is for the development of the securities market, and the remaining $70 million is for energy conservation. Russia will also receive a $80 million loan to finance environmental protection. In negotiations with World Bank officials in Washington on 28-29 September, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin argued for more loans programs aimed at stimulating Russia's exports and hence foreign exchange earnings, since over the next three years it will have to repay $900 million of its debt to the bank. -- Natalia Gurushina



COMMISSION UPHOLDS TER-PETROSSYAN'S ELECTION VICTORY .
. .
Armenia's Central Electoral Commission on 29 September released the final results of the 22 September presidential election in which incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan received 51.75% of the 2,210,189 votes cast and his rival, National Democratic Union (NDU) chairman Vazgen Manukyan, only 41.29%, Western agencies reported. Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on 27 September, Manukyan's wife, Vardouhi Ishkhanyan, said that the NDU would hand over evidence that the vote count had been falsified to international observers within two days. Manukyan is currently in hiding. Also on 27 September, Communist presidential candidate Sergei Badalyan, who received 6.34% of the vote, announced that his faction of eight deputies would no longer participate in the work of the "undemocratic" National Assembly, AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller

. . . AND MORE ARRESTS IN YEREVAN.
Three NDU deputies and the sole Dashnak parliamentary deputy were arrested in Yerevan on 27 September, Noyan Tapan reported. Western diplomats estimate that in all some 200 people have been detained since the election, including the chairman of the Artsakh-Hayastan party, Lenser Aghalovyan, who withdrew his presidential candidacy to support Manukyan, according to Western agencies. Police are still searching for Democratic Party Chairman Aram Sarkisyan, who also withdrew his candidacy in Manukyan's favor. The third candidate who withdrew, Paruir Hairikyan, is under house arrest. Most of the troops and tanks deployed in Yerevan on 26 September following an attack on the parliament building by Manukyan's supporters were pulled back on 29 September. The city was reported to be calm. -- Liz Fuller

THIRD CONGRESS OF OSSETIANS CONVENES IN VLADIKAVKAZ.
Meeting in Vladikavkaz on 27-28 September, representatives of the Republic of North Ossetiya-Alaniya and the disputed Georgian region of South Ossetia discussed how to improve the social-economic situation in North Ossetiya and to overcome the aftermath of the North Ossetiyan-Ingush and Georgian-South Ossetian conflicts, Radio Rossii reported. Galazov expressed his support for the normalization of relations with Georgia and for any initiatives aimed at substantiating the peace process in the North Caucasus. On 24 September, the South Ossetiyan Supreme Council dismissed Prime Minister Vladislav Gabaraev for failing to resolve the region's social and political problems, according to a Kontakt News Agency report monitored by the BBC. Gabaraev may stand in next month's South Ossetian presidential election. -- Liz Fuller

VIOLENCE IN ABKHAZIA.
There are conflicting reports of violence that erupted on 27 September in Abkhazia. It seems that several administrative buildings in Gali city were attacked and artillery shells were lobbed at the town of Ochamchira. Georgian television attributed these events to infighting among Abkhaz military units angry at personnel changes; the Abkhaz side, for its part, put the blame for the violence squarely on Georgian "bandits," and demanded that the Russian peacekeeping command take action to prevent further acts of "terrorism." The date 27 September is considered to be the third anniversary of victory for Sukhumi in its fight with Georgia. Meanwhile, hundreds of ethnic Georgian refugees from Abkhazia have begun a sit-in near the Inguri River to protest talks between Tbilisi and Sukhumi and Abkhazia's scheduled November election. -- Lowell Bezanis

NIYAZOV TURNS DOWN LIFE-LONG PRESIDENCY.
Turkmenistan's socio-economic development through the year 2001 was the main subject at a joint session of the Turkmen Peoples' Council, the Council of Elders, and the Movement for National Revival in Bayram-Ali, RFE/RL reported on 27 September. At the session, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov said he would not accept the title "president for life" as had been suggested late last year, saying such a move would violate the country's constitution. He was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying "we will decide together" who should be Turkmenistan's next president when his term expires in 2002. -- Lowell Bezanis

FIGHTING ERUPTS ALONG TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER.
Russian border guards have repelled an attempt by 300 opposition fighters to cross over from Afghanistan into Tajikistan, Russian and Western media reported. The fighting began on 27 September when opposition groups south of the Kalai-Khumb border posts tried to infiltrate Tajikistan. The opposition forces were largely unsuccessful in their attempts to penetrate the border, but ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported that some managed to enter Tajikistan. As of 29 September, the border guards had pushed them some 10 km back into Afghanistan. One opposition leader, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, denied that his side had started the trouble, saying "in view of the uncertain situation in Afghanistan, it's not in our interests to provoke the enemy." -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN RUSSIA.
Leonid Kuchma emerged from a closed-door meeting with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 28 September saying that the two had agreed on the division of the Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian and Russian agencies reported. Kuchma had arrived in Moscow the previous day on an unofficial visit. The two reportedly also discussed the issues of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and the levying of a 20% VAT on Ukrainian imports. Kuchma said Chernomyrdin would visit Kyiv in October. Few other details of the meeting were made public, and the Russian side made no statements about the visit. -- Ustina Markus

ROW OVER TV BROADCAST LICENSES IN UKRAINE.
The Ukrainian government has set up a committee to monitor the distribution of broadcast licenses in response to the parliament's recent declaration of a moratorium on licensing by the National Broadcasting Council, Intelnews and UNIAN reported on 24 September. The government appointed Deputy Communications Minister Oleksander Hneletsky to chair the body, which will oversee the ministry's licensing of air time on the country's three national channels. Viktor Petrenko, chairman of the National Broadcasting Council, said the decision was an illegal attempt by the legislature and government to regain control of the airwaves from his presidentially appointed body. He said the 230 licenses his council has issued thus far to television companies would remain valid. Petrenko said the council had once again given Ukrainian State TV exclusive rights to air time on Channel 1, which has the most powerful signal. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

WORLD BANK ASSESSES UKRAINE, BELARUS.
Basil Kowalski, head of the World Bank department dealing with the western countries of the former USSR, said all those countries except Belarus are entering the second phase of their economic transition, RFE/RL reported on 30 September. Kowalski said the first phase was at the macroeconomic level while the more difficult second phase focuses on the microeconomic level, including privatization and working with market economies. Kowalski said Belarus had been going in a counterreform direction over the last nine months, and that the World Bank had shelved its plans to lend the country $170 million until it sees real commitment to market reforms. Kowalski praised Ukraine for its progress in reforms, and said a number of recently agreed-upon projects could open $1.3 billion in credits from the bank to Kyiv. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT STRIPS STATE TELEVISION OF ACCREDITATION.
The Belarusian parliament voted on 27 September to bar state television from covering parliamentary sessions because of bias in its reporting, Russian and Belarusian media reported. Parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky also instructed mass media to increase their coverage of parliament. Immediately after the resolution was passed, state radio and television were forced to leave the premises. Head of state television and radio Hryhor Kisel said parliament would have to work in a vacuum because of its decision. Last week Kisel was accused of denying parliament and opponents of the president, including Sharetsky, air time to express their views, although the law demands that the speaker be given unlimited air time. Kisel argued that under law only individual journalists are accredited, not the whole state television and radio company. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC PRESIDENTS REACT TO U.S. STATEMENT ON NATO.
Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) issued a joint statement on 28 September asking for full NATO membership as soon as possible, Western agencies reported. This was a clear reaction to the remarks by U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry the previous day that the Baltic states would not be among the first new NATO members because their armed forces do not yet have sufficient military capability. The presidents said they were "launching an intensified diplomatic effort to gain the support of all countries for our security via NATO membership and bilateral security arrangements with Western countries." They also asserted that their countries are prepared to make needed sacrifices "to develop our defense in order to be able to defend ourselves and other European countries." -- Saulius Girnius

PEASANT PARTY COMES OUT ON TOP IN POLISH COALITION TUS-

SLE.
Weeks of sparring between the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) over a government reorganization apparently ended on 28 September in the smaller party's favor, Polish dailies reported. The two parties of Poland's ruling coalition agreed that the PSL's Miroslaw Pietrewicz, currently a deputy prime minister and director of the Central Planning Office, would become treasury minister, instead of the SLD's Wieslaw Kaczmarek, the current minister of privatization. Pietrewicz's appointment would give the PSL direct control over privatization and the management of thousands of state enterprises. The coalition also agreed to support the SLD's Marek Borowski as economics minister. This would imply a demotion for Grzegorz Kolodko, the current deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs. However, Kolodko insisted in a 30 September interview in Rzeczpospolita that he would remain in the government, presumably as finance minister. -- Ben Slay

POLISH GAS SHORTAGE WORSENING.
In the face of a worsening gasoline shortage that has left many of Poland's smaller private service stations without adequate fuel supplies, Deputy Minister of Industry Roman Czerwinski announced on 28 September that an additional 200,000 tons of fuel would be sold at auction from state reserves, Zycie Warszawy reported. Despite rising prices on the world oil market, the Polish government has not permitted the domestic price of gasoline to rise since late June. Rising demand fueled by Poland's booming economy has caused some municipalities to curtail public transport, and resulted in surreptitious increases in gasoline prices. This auction will be the largest of three conducted by the Polish government in the past two weeks. -- Ben Slay

CZECH CENTRAL BANK REPORTS ON BANKING SECTOR.
A report released to the media by the Czech National Bank on 28 September says the government has spent some 90 billion crowns ($3.3 billion) on stabilizing the banking sector. Most of the money was spent writing off bad loans and taking over as guarantor of deposits in the 12 banks that have collapsed in the last two years. The report states that high-risk loans constituted one-third of all loans provided by the failed banks and that most of their bad loans were made before 1994. According to the report, the main danger for the banking sector is that "nontransparent financial groups" are involved in banking operations. Such groups have attempted to channel money out of the banking sector into their own business operations. The report also criticizes auditing firms for generally failing to uncover serious problems. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES PLAN 'BLUE' COALITION.
Democratic Party Chairman Jan Langos told CTK on 27 September that his party is preparing a permanent alliance with the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), with the Democratic Union (DU) as a possible third partner in the "blue coalition." The name, based partly on the blue EU flag, is designed to stress the three center-right parties' pro-European orientation. DU Chairman Jozef Moravcik responded that although close cooperation among all opposition parties is needed, his party will most likely run independently in the next elections. He added that he sees no need to create such a group so early before the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for fall 1998. In other news, the KDH's council on 28 September expressed its support for party chairman Jan Carnogursky. The party's economic expert Mikulas Dzurinda had announced that he would run for Carnogursky's position at the party's November congress. -- Sharon Fisher

NEW TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER UNDER FIRE IN HUNGARY.
The opposition Young Democrats on 29 September demanded that Tamas Suchman be dismissed over an allegedly unjustified payment of fees by the State Privatization and Holding Company (APV) to a legal representative earlier this month, Hungarian media reported. Until his recent appointment as trade and industry minister, Suchman oversaw privatization as a minister without portfolio. Press reports revealed last week that the APV paid nearly 300 million forints ($1.9 million) to a representative that was not a qualified lawyer. The daily Magyar Nemzet quoted the minister as saying he accepts "political and ministerial responsibility" in the matter, and will launch an investigation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OSCE VALIDATES BOSNIAN ELECTION RESULTS.
The OSCE has declared the results of the 14 September Bosnian vote valid, the BBC reported on 29 September. On 27 September, following widespread criticism of irregularities including vote totals from individual polling places that exceeded the number of registered voters, the OSCE's own legal advisory body had called for a recount. But the OSCE said the isolated irregularities did not add up to massive fraud; election supervisor Robert Frowick told Reuters that "it was a reasonably democratic process and a reasonably democratic result which reflects the will of the people." Critics have accused the OSCE of yielding to U.S. pressure so that President Bill Clinton can claim the Dayton agreement is being carried out on schedule. The decision cleared the way for a meeting of the three-man Bosnian presidency and for sanctions against Belgrade and Pale to be lifted. -- Patrick Moore

SCATTERED VIOLENCE IN BOSNIA.
Oslobodjenje on 30 September reported the killing in Sarajevo two days earlier of Nedzad Ugljen, the deputy head of the controversial Bosnian Agency for Research and Documentation. In Mostar, a hand grenade landed on the apartment balcony of Josip Jole Musa of the opposition Joint List, causing material damage. He was recently elected to the Bosnian Federal Assembly. Along the busy but dangerous Route Arizona in northern Bosnia, a Muslim was shot and wounded on 27 September when his car was hijacked on Bosnian Serb territory, Onasa reported. Meanwhile, officials of more than 30 countries met in Dublin, Ireland, on 28 September to discuss plans for a modern and democratic police force for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The UN-sponsored conference sought to raise $99 million, but few countries made firm commitments. The largest was a $17 million package from the U.S. -- Patrick Moore

GERMANY RESOLVED TO SEND BOSNIAN REFUGEES HOME.
German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther warned that Bosnian refugees who refuse to repatriate to Bosnia-Herzegovina "will not end up in the Bosnian winter but in court," AFP reported on 30 September. The interior ministers of Germany's federal states agreed in September that repatriation of the 320,000 Bosnian refugees currently in Germany should start on 1 October, but they left it up to each state to decide on timing and procedure. Repatriation is to start with unmarried people and couples with no children, and refugees may only be sent back to "safe" regions, with each case to be dealt with on an individual basis. Vehid Sehic, head of the Tuzla-based Alternative Citizens' Parliament, said on 28 September that repatriation of refugees is a higher priority than a civic society and democracy, Nasa Borba reported on 30 September. -- Daria Sito Sucic

FORMER CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR TO LEAD OPPOSITION COALITION IN YUGOSLAV ELECTIONS.
Former Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic announced he would lead the joint list of the Zajedno coalition in rump Yugoslavia's 3 November parliamentary elections. Avramovic successfully halted hyperinflation two years ago but was sacked in May after a dispute with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic about economic and political reforms. Avramovic said his coalition wants to liberalize the state-run economy, to enact Western-style democratic reforms and reduce the size of the federal government. Observers suggest Avramovic's coalition could cost the ruling Socialists their two-thirds majority. Zajedno is made up of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, Vojislav Kostunica's Serbian Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party, Vesna Pesic's Citizens Union, and the Independent Trade Unions. -- Fabian Schmidt

BOMB ATTACKS ON ARMY BARRACKS IN KOSOVO.
Unknown assailants attacked army barracks near Vucitrn with two bombs on 27 September, AFP reported. No one was hurt in the incident, but shots were reportedly exchanged between soldiers and the attackers. The same day, police stations on the Belgrade-Podujevo road were sprayed with machine gun fire. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIA PASSES RESOLUTION ON UN MANDATE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
The Croatian parliament on 27 September passed a resolution saying the mandate of the UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) "must end on 15 January 1997," AFP reported. Zagreb is stepping up pressure to prevent the renewal of UNTAES's one-year mandate, as requested by rebel Serbs who still hold the area of eastern Slavonia. But UN spokesman Philip Arnold responded that renewal of the UN mandate will "be only a UN Security Council decision." Meanwhile, the state-run newspaper Vjesnik reported on 30 September that the UN mandate in eastern Slavonia would most probably end by 15 April 1997, while the UN forces would withdraw from Croatia by 15 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic

WORLD BANK GRANTS MACEDONIA $45 MILLION LOAN.
A Macedonian delegation to the annual meeting of the World Bank and IMF in Washington agreed with the bank on 28 September on a $45 million structural adjustment loan, Nova Makedonija reported. The money will provide balance-of-payments support. The government agreed to further liberalize its foreign trade regime and privatize agricultural estates. The credit follows a 1994 economic renewal loan ($40 million) and a 1995 financial and enterprise sector adjustment credit ($20 million). -- Michael Wyzan

ROMANIA OPENS OVER THE COUNTER STOCK EXCHANGE.
Romania on 27 September inaugurated a long-awaited over-the-counter stock exchange that would help Romanians trade their shares in state-owned enterprises slated for privatization, Radio Bucharest reported. The ceremony, which took place at Bucharest's World Trade Center, was attended by President Ion Iliescu; Minister of State Mircea Cosea, who heads the government's Council for Economic Coordination, Strategy, and Reform; and other senior Romanian officials. The event is seen as the final stage in Romania's large-scale privatization scheme and a major step forward for the country's fledgling capital market. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS TREATY.
Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and his Ukrainian counterpart Hennadii Udovenko on 28 September discussed ways of overcoming the current impasse in negotiations over a basic treaty, Radio Bucharest reported. The meeting took place in New York, where the two were attending the 51st session of the UN General Assembly. The ministers agreed that talks over the draft document be resumed at legal experts' level in the second half of October. The two countries have been unable so far to complete the negotiations, mainly due to Romania's insistence that the document include a formal denunciation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact that resulted in Romania losing Bessarabia, northern Bukovina and the Herta region to the former Soviet Union. The last two territories, as well as southern Bessarabia and the Serpents' Islands, are currently part of Ukraine. -- Zsolt Mato

IMF, WORLD BANK URGE REFORMS IN BULGARIA.
IMF and World Bank sources said the two organizations will do everything possible to help Bulgaria get out of its present crisis but urged Sofia to take strong measures to get reforms back on track, RFE/RL reported on 28 September. They said Sofia must reform its banking system and speed up privatization. Bulgarian top officials and the IMF and World Bank held talks in recent days, but no side commented on them. IMF and World Bank sources said both organizations are working to put aid programs together, but such programs must await an agreement between the IMF and Bulgaria about the disbursement of the second installment of a $580 million standby loan. President Zhelyu Zhelev said he had sent a letter to IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus "with a personal plea for financial and moral support for reforms in Bulgaria." -- Stefan Krause

NINE ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS SENTENCED.
Tirana Judge Mehdi Bici on 28 September sentenced nine senior communist-era officials to prison terms of up to 20 years, Reuters reported. The defendants were charged with sending dissidents into internal exile. They included Llambi Gegprifti, Lenka Cuko, and Irakli Vero, the former party leaders in Tirana, Lushnja, and Fier, respectively; former Kruja party chairman and local judge Idajet Beqiri, who currently heads the National Unity Party; Agron Tafa, Sulejmani Abazi, and Veiz Haderi, the secret police chairmen in Kruja, Tropoja, and Saranda, respectively; and former Interior Ministry department directors Nazmi Domi and Shkelzen Bajraktari. -- Fabian Schmidt

CENTER POLE TO TAKE PART IN ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
The Social Democrats and the Democratic Alliance said they would take part in 20 October's local elections, Reuters reported on 26 September. The two members of the Center Pole coalition thus abandoned earlier threats of a boycott. "Our fight should be held at the voting centers," Social Democrat leader Skender Gjinushi said. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka will run for mayor of Tirana. In other news, the Central Election Commission agreed on the division of TV broadcasting time for all parties in the election campaign. The governing coalition and the opposition will each receive 50 percent of the time, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 27 September. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Tom Warner











XS
SM
MD
LG