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Newsline - October 1, 1996


CHERNOMYRDIN, SELEZNEV MEET ON EVE OF FALL DUMA SESSION.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev agreed at a 30 September meeting that closer cooperation was needed between the government and Duma, ITAR-TASS quoted Seleznev as saying. The communist-dominated Duma is set to open on 2 October. In addition to drafting the 1997 budget and analyzing the situation in Chechnya, the Duma will work on tax legislation and the land code. It will also consider banning the death penalty as part of Russia's commitment to the Council of Europe. Seleznev said there are no plans to pass a law on certifying the health of the country's top officials. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 30 September repeated his call for such certification and suggested again that President Boris Yeltsin should resign because of his impending operation. -- Robert Orttung

YANDARBIEV'S MOSCOW TRIP POSTPONED.
Chechen Minister of Information Movladi Udugov told journalists on 30 September that acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev will not travel to Moscow on 1 October for talks with Russian leaders, as was previously announced, Radio Rossii reported. He said that, instead, a representative of Yandarbiev will fly to Moscow on 3 October to prepare for a visit by Yandarbiev at a later (unspecified) date. Meanwhile, acting commander Yevgenii Avakumyants told Russian Public TV (ORT) on 30 September that the ongoing withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya is proceeding well and will be completed by the end of October, two weeks earlier than originally planned. A meeting of Chechen social and political organizations held in Kabardino-Balkariya on 28-29 September proposed the 35-year-old Ada-Shamala Deniev, the virtually unknown leader of the self-proclaimed "government for the salvation of the Chechen people," as the head of a new Chechen coalition government, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

GOVERNMENT DIVIDED OVER ECONOMIC POLICY.
Ministers are split into two camps and "Russia is on the brink of a fierce bureaucratic battle following a fairly long political breathing space," Nezavisimaya gazeta argued on 1 October. The "finance" group, led by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin and including Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits and Economics Minister Yevgennii Yasin, wants to concentrate on reducing the interest rate (in part to allow more foreign borrowing), fighting tax arrears, and breaking up monopolies like Gazprom. The "sectoral" group, led by First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, wants to halt the slide in industrial production. This battle, based on two different concepts of Russia's economic development, may remain hidden from view because Chernomyrdin will not allow public attacks. However, it will likely surface as the Duma begins to debate the 1997 budget. -- Peter Rutland

GAIDAR FORMS "LIBERAL COALITION."
Seven groups, including Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice, have joined forces, pledging to offer a "liberal alternative to bureaucratic capitalism," Russian media reported on 30 September. As expected, Democratic Russia co-leader Galina Starovoitova, Common Cause leader Irina Khakamada, and former presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov joined Gaidar's "confederation," along with four tiny parties that cooperated with Gaidar before the 1995 parliamentary election. The alliance lacks electoral clout, since the member groups gained less than 5% last December, and neither the pro-government Our Home Is Russia movement nor Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko party will join. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNIST GROUPS FAIL TO UNITE.
Representatives of various communist groups failed to agree on forming a united party at a 28 September meeting in Moscow, Russian media reported. The main organizer of the conference, the Union of Communist Parties--Communist Party of the Soviet Union, supports the moderate line adopted by Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation. However, several small radical groups have long criticized Zyuganov for abandoning the class struggle and other aspects of Marxist ideology. -- Laura Belin

APPEAL AGAINST LEBED/MASKHADOV AGREEMENT TO BE SENT TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Ninety-three Duma deputies will appeal to the Constitutional Court against the agreement reached on 31 August between Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, Kommersant-Daily reported on 1 October. The court appeal was initiated by two deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, who claimed that Lebed exceeded his authority in signing the document. In addition, they objected to a provision recognizing Chechnya as a subject of international law and charged that the agreement did not clarify how Russia should deal with the pro-Moscow Chechen leadership. -- Laura Belin

NORTH KOREA BLASTS RUSSIAN ARMS DELIVERIES TO SOUTH KOREA.
The official North Korean press agency on 30 September denounced Russia over recent weapons shipments to Seoul that included T-80 tanks and armored personnel carriers, Russian and Western agencies reported. It described the arms deliveries as "an irresponsible and reckless act" demonstrating that Russia is "no less hostile" to North Korea than the U.S. The shipments, which began last month, will total $451 million and are part of a 1995 deal to partly repay $1.47 billion in Russian debt. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONCERNED ABOUT AFGHANISTAN.
Speaking in Morocco on 30 September, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov noted that Moscow has no plans to establish contacts with the Islamic Taliban movement, Reuters reported. The Taliban now controls the Afghan capital Kabul as well as most of the country. Primakov also denounced the summary execution of former Afghan President Najibullah as an "odious massacre." Reflecting Russian concerns that the Taliban victory may spark a wave of regional instability in Central Asia, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman the same day described that victory as a "catastrophe for the Afghan people" that threatened "the entire region." -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN URGES COMPROMISE IN BELARUS . . .
President Boris Yeltsin on 30 September urged his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka to do "everything possible" to forge a compromise with his parliamentary opponents, Russian and Western agencies reported. In a message to Lukashenka, Yeltsin said steps to avoid inflaming the situation in Belarus were "very important" if the April agreement on forming a Russo-Belarusian community were to move forward. Yeltsin's unusually frank advice, which contradicts the Russian president's own use of force to crush parliamentary opposition in October 1993, reflects concern in Moscow over the consequences of the current political confrontation in Minsk. Meanwhile, Belarusian Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetsky met with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in Moscow to discuss the development of the Russo-Belorusian community. -- Scott Parrish

. . . WHILE LUZHKOV PRAISES LUKASHENKA.
In contrast, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov praised Lukashenka as "a dynamic, strong, open individual," NTV reported on 30 September. Luzhkov said that in his struggle with the parliament "my sympathies without question are with the Belarusian president. The parliamentary path of development," Luzhkov continued, will also only be suitable for Russia "after it has put itself on its feet and strengthened its economy." Luzhkov's remarks were made as he accepted a gift of a trolley from Lukashenka, marking his 60th birthday. -- Peter Rutland

CHERNOMYRDIN ON RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that he hopes to sign an agreement which will "finally resolve the problem of dividing the Black Sea Fleet," during a visit to Kyiv scheduled for late October, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Chernomyrdin termed his 28 September meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, "extraordinarily useful," saying that the two sides had "synchronized" their views on issues like VAT on bilateral trade and NATO expansion. Nationalist deputies in the Duma remain discontented with the state of bilateral relations, however. Georgii Tikhonov, chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, declared the same day that his committee will submit draft legislation halting the division of the fleet, Radio Rossii reported. Tikhonov also declared that the Crimean capital of Sevastopol "was, is, and will be Russian," a slogan sure to irritate Kyiv.-- Scott Parrish

TENSION RISING IN THE MILITARY.
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 1 October warned that the mounting state debt to the military is leading to a dangerous rise in tension in Russia's armed forces. Noting that the Defense Ministry is more than 30 trillion rubles in debt ($5.5 billion), the paper asked how long the army can endure this situation. According to opinion polls cited by the paper, about a quarter of servicemen are ready to take part in protest actions if their financial situation deteriorates further. Military personnel are barred from striking, but the paper warned that there may be the creation of a wave of officers' organizations and their integration into left-wing and nationalist political organizations; and the development of separatist military tendencies in some regions, such as Kaliningrad and the Far East. -- Penny Morvant

CHEREPKOV RETURNS TO OFFICE.
Viktor Cherepkov, the newly reinstated mayor of Vladivostok, returned to work on 30 September, Russian TV reported. His first priorities will be looking into the city's finances and making preparations for winter. He has promised not to fire city officials appointed by his predecessor, Konstantin Tolstoshein, unless they try to sabotage his work. But many have said they want nothing to do with the mayor and have called for a referendum on his dismissal. Cherepkov will also face considerable opposition from the krai authorities--in particular, from Tolstoshein, who in his new position as first deputy governor of Primorskii Krai will still have jurisdiction over Vladivostok. The mayor's reinstatement was also opposed by the president's representative in the krai, Vladimir Ignatenko. Cherepkov was accompanied to Vladivostok by three Duma deputies and a senior member of the presidential administration to ensure the orderly transfer of power. -- Penny Morvant

ENERGY PRICE INCREASES.
In accordance with its previous announcement, the government is to raise energy prices beginning 1 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Prices will eventually double for residential consumers using more than 200 kilowatt hours per month. The increases will vary across the country, since regional energy commissions will set rates taking into account local energy costs. Oleg Britvin, vice president of EES Rossii (Unified Energy System), said tariffs for industrial users are lower than those for households. However, some populist regional authorities are not complying with this policy. In Primore, for example, the new tariffs for industrial users are twice as high as those for residents. -- Natalia Gurushina



CORRECTION:
In the 30 September OMRI Daily Digest, the first sentence of the item "Commission upholds Ter-Petrossyan's election victory" should have read: 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 1,333,204 votes cast.

TER-PETROSSYAN SOFTENS RHETORIC IN TV ADDRESS.
Speaking on state TV on 30 September, Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan acknowledged that voter dissatisfaction with his leadership's social and economic policies compelled more than 40% of the electorate to vote against him in the 22 September presidential elections, RFE/RL reported. He reiterated his campaign promises of a government reshuffle and a crackdown on corruption. Ter-Petrossyan characterized the 25 September attack on the parliament building by supporters of his opponent Vazgen Manukyan as "a sad event" but argued that it should not be turned "into a national tragedy." A spokesman for the Armenian prosecutor told Reuters on 30 September that only nine arrest warrants have been issued so far, but Western diplomats estimate that a total of 250 have been detained, many of whom did not participate in the violence. -- Liz Fuller

GEORGIA DENIES ABKHAZ ALLEGATIONS.
On 30 September, the Georgian Foreign Ministry denied charges by the leadership of the breakaway region of Abkhazia that Georgian troops were responsible for a series of explosions and terrorist acts in Abkhazia's Gali and Ochamchira raions over the past few days, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 30 September, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili told a news conference in Tbilisi that the UN does not envisage any participation in peacekeeping operations in Abkhazia, although he did not exclude the involvement of other international organizations in mediating a peace agreement between the central Georgian government in Tbilisi and the separatist leadership in Sukhumi. -- Liz Fuller

AUTUMN SESSION OF AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT OPENS.
Azerbaijan's parliament began its autumn session on 30 September, ITAR-TASS reported, but failed to elect a new speaker to replace Rasul Guliev, who stepped down last month after harshly criticizing the country's economic policy. The agenda for the session includes the establishment of free economic zones and cooperation in the oil sector within the framework of the CIS, according to the news agency Turan. -- Liz Fuller

CENTRAL ASIA VOICES CONCERN OVER KABUL'S FALL.
The Tajik government on 30 September expressed its concern that the recent events in Kabul will have a negative impact on efforts to secure the Tajik-Afghan border, Russian media reported. Also on 30 September, the Kazakstani Foreign Ministry called on the UN to take urgent measures to end the bloodshed in Afghanistan, warning that economic collapse and political instability there could threaten the stability of Central Asia, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Lowell Bezanis and Bruce Pannier

KAZAKSTANI TRADE UNIONS IN DISPUTE WITH GOVERNMENT.
The Federation of Kazakstani Trade Unions has unilaterally suspended parts of the General Agreement on cooperation with the government,
ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. In a document released the same day, it blamed the government for the "collapse of economic, financial, and social policies" in the country. It warned that in the future it would not refrain from actions protesting "the mass impoverishment of the majority of the population." -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIKISTAN: PEACE IN THE EAST, FIGHTING IN THE WEST.
RFE/RL reported on 30 September that, with the truce agreement along Tajikistan's northern highway still holding, a new peace agreement has been worked out between the Tajik government and opposition guaranteeing that the southern highway will be open to vehicles. Tensions along the Tajik-Afghan border remain high following the downing of a Russian helicopter on 29 September by fire from the Afghan side of the border. Meanwhile, in the western Tajik town of Tursun Zade, fighting is reported between two local groups vying for control of the town. Ibodullo Baimatov, who captured the town by force in January 1996, is battling a former ally known only as Kadyrkul, Pravda reported on 28 September. Government troops sent to the area are openly supporting Kadyrkul. -- Bruce Pannier



LIFE EXPECTANCY DECREASING, INFANT MORTALITY INCREASING IN UKRAINE.
Declining life expectancy, growing infant mortality, and a high number of abortions all contributed to a negative population growth of -5.8% last year, down from -4.7% in 1994, Ukrainska hazeta reported on 26 September. Citing various sources, the newspaper said the average life expectancy dropped from 69.4 years in 1992 to 68 in 1994. Life expectancy fell dramatically among men, to 62.8 years, largely because the death rate of working-age men was four to five times that of women. Of every 1,000 infants, 14.5 were reported dead by age one, but the paper added that many hospitals continue the Soviet-era practice of registering infant deaths as stillborns. The number of abortions declined slightly from 1994 to 1995, from 154.3 to 153.1 abortions for every 100 deliveries. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

RUSSIAN OIL FIRMS IN BELARUS.
As of next year, Russia and Belarus will operate within the framework of a single energy system as envisioned in the April Treaty on the Formation of a Community, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov was quoted saying by Segodnya and ITAR-TASS on 28 September. Serov was in Minsk with Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov for a meeting with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. In line with an agreement signed at the end of last year, Lukashenka said he would sign a decree making the largest refinery in Belarus, Naftan, a closed joint-stock company and allowing the Russian oil firms Lukoil and Yukos to own 51% of the shares. The shares would be divided equally between the two firms. That would open the way for investment by the Russian firms in Belarusian oil facilities. For their part, the Russian firms will contribute 74% of the capital needed to reconstruct the refinery. -- Ustina Markus

LATVIA TO END SUMMER TIME EARLIER THAN NEIGHBORS.
The government press department announced that Latvia would end summer time on 28 September, Western agencies reported. This is likely to cause confusion since its neighbors Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia will follow the European Union example and end summer time on 27 October. While Lithuania and Poland have been following the EU example for several years, Estonia declared that it would only on 24 September. International airlines are now printing tickets with the correct local times for October, but people holding tickets printed earlier risk missing their flights if they adhere to the printed departure times. -- Saulius Girnius

FIVE PARTIES EXPECTED TO SUCCEED IN LITHUANIAN ELECTIONS.
Only five of the 24 parties campaigning for Lithuania's 20 October parliamentary elections will receive the necessary 5% of votes to share in the distribution of 70 seats determined by party-list voting, according to a mid-September Baltic Surveys poll published by BNS on 30 September. The five are: the Conservatives (14.7%), Democratic Labor Party (12.0%), Christian Democratic Party (10.5%), Center Union (9.3%), and Women's Party (5.9%). Some 21% said they were still undecided and 14% said they would not vote. Other parties, such as the Social Democratic Party and the Lithuanian Polish Electoral Action, are expected to win some of the 71 seats determined in single-mandate elections. -- Saulius Girnius

REFORM OF POLISH CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION BEGINS.
Key elements of the long-awaited reform of Poland's central administration began today, Polish dailies reported. With the formal abolition of the Privatization Ministry, the Treasury Ministry began to take control of 204 of the largest "strategic" state enterprises (power plants, coal mines, and vodka distilleries), while ownership of 1,168 firms is being transferred to local governments. The Treasury Ministry will also own all state equity still held in partly privatized firms, including banks, insurance companies, and Lot Polish Airways. The Committee on European Integration will replace the Ministry of Foreign Economic Affairs, which along with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Antimonopoly Office was abolished today. Their functions are being assumed by the Economics Ministry and the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. The prime minister, rather than the Interior Ministry, is now formally responsible for supervising the State Security Office. -- Ben Slay

SLOVAK AGRICULTURE MINISTER FACES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
The parliament was to discuss an opposition proposal to call a vote of no-confidence in Agriculture Minister Peter Baco on 1 October, Slovak media reported. The move follows a report by the Supreme Supervisory Office concerning illegal grain exports. Baco denied responsibility, and the Republican Council of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) expressed full support for him at a weekend meeting. Former Economy Minister Jan Ducky -- who was also thought to hold responsibility for the exports -- was dismissed in late August, but he is now serving as an adviser to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Former Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek, who was dismissed along with Ducky following several scandals, has retained a paid position at the Interior Ministry, Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher

CZECH PREMIER REFUTES 'LOOSE TONGUES.'
On his return from a visit to the U.S., Vaclav Klaus denied a recent report that his position within the government and his own party had been significantly weakened by the results of the June elections, Czech media reported on 1 October. "When I am away, people's tongues loosen up," Klaus said. Klaus said the World Bank was not alarmed by the Czech trade deficit, which reached 100 billion crowns ($3.7 billion) in August, claiming the trade deficit and problems in the country's banking sector "are evaluated far more soberly [in America] than at home." However, World Bank President James Wolfensohn told CTK that he knew nothing about recent problems in the Czech banking sector, indicating his meeting with Klaus was of a purely formal character. Today, the Czech parliament is to discuss setting up a special committee to investigate the recent collapse of Kreditni banka. -- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS, INVESTORS DISCUSS ENERGY PRICES.
Following a consultative meeting between top government officials and representatives of foreign investors in Hungarian electricity and gas-supply concerns, the government plans to announce an energy-price increase in late October, Hungarian dailies reported on 1 October. Foreign investors were outraged on hearing the government's decision last month to postpone an energy-price hike planned for October until January 1997. The investors bought into Hungary's energy sector last year on the strength of a government promise that energy prices would reflect expenses and ensure an 8% profit by January 1997. In other news, the government decided to postpone the sale of a further stake of the national oil and gas company MOL and the privatization of the national electricity grid until next year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY MEETS.
The three members of Bosnia's newly elected chief executive body met on 30 September at the Hotel Saraj on the road between Sarajevo and Pale. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt and his deputy Michael Steiner welcomed Alija Izetbegovic, Momcilo Krajisnik, and Kresimir Zubak, but then left the three to talk alone. Onasa quoted a spokesman as calling the talks "business-like," but Oslobodjenje referred to a "very good atmosphere" and Nasa Borba even reported a "friendly atmosphere." The three agreed that the parliament and presidency would both meet on 5 October, and that the government would be formed and convened by 30 October, according to Oslobodjenje. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB RULING PARTY LOSES TWO-THIRDS PARLIAMENT MAJORITY.
The Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) won parliamentary polls in the Republika Srpska, but with a sharply reduced majority that will not enable it to overturn decisions of the Bosnian presidency, AFP reported on 30 September. According to results certified by the OSCE, the SDS won 45 seats out of 83 in the Bosnian Serb parliament, down from the 76 seats it held previously. Either Bosnian entity's parliament can veto the presidency's decisions, but only with a two-thirds majority. The parliament is also no longer purely Serb, with 17 Muslim deputies and one Croat. The Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the leading Muslim party, is the second largest party in the Bosnian Serb parliament with 14 seats. The Serb opposition Alliance for Peace and Progress is third with 10 seats. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER URGES DONORS TO KEEP PROMISES.
Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic said on 30 September that many international donors have failed to honor financial pledges to Bosnia-Herzegovina, warning that there would be no stable peace without financial support, AFP reported. Muratovic said only 40% of the pledges made at conferences in December 1995 and April 1996 have been committed to concrete projects. A World Bank study released the same day showed that nearly all the $330 million it pledged to make available by 31 December 1996 had been committed. Thirteen World Bank projects are operational in Bosnia, and 629 contracts with a value of $140 million have been signed with the bank's financing. Muratovic also appealed for greater support from the IMF and urged it to appoint a governor for the Bosnian central bank. -- Daria Sito Sucic

UN TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE WHILE KEEPING ASSETS FROZEN.
The International Contact Group on 30 September issued a draft resolution calling for the lifting of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, which the Security Council is expected to approve within days, Reuters reported. The resolution said the council would consider reimposing sanctions should the Dayton agreement be broken. Russia would, however, probably veto such a move. The document will not release Yugoslavia's frozen assets because of disputes and claims from other Yugoslav successor states. Also held in abeyance will be Yugoslavia's admittance to the UN General Assembly and other UN bodies from which it was suspended because of its disputed legal status. Following a U.S. initiative, British Foreign Minister Malcolm Rifkind said last week that Western European states have linked Belgrade's re-entry to financial institutions to progress on human rights in Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt

MILOSEVIC FAMILY TO FORM COALITION IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS.
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and his wife Mirjana Markovic's United Yugoslav Left have formed a coalition for the upcoming 3 November federal parliamentary elections in Serbia and Montenegro, AFP reported on 1 October. The New Democracy party also agreed to take part in it. The SPS has a majority in the Serbian parliament but not in the federal one. -- Fabian Schmidt

MUSLIM LEADER RETURNS TO SANDZAK.
Sulejman Ugljanin, president of the Muslim National Council of Sandzak and leader of the Sandzak SDA arrived in Belgrade from Zurich on 30 September, AFP reported. In 1993, Ugljanin left Sandzak--a region divided between Montenegro and Serbia with a large-ethnic Muslim population--in 1993, after authorities arrested a large number of SDA activists and issued a warrant for his arrest. Those arrested were released earlier this year and police gave Ugljanin no problems on his arrival. Ugljanin said he wants "to help the democratization of the country" and would lead a coalition of Muslim parties in the Yugoslav elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

ATTEMPT TO BLOCK ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN TREATY FAILS.
A last-ditch attempt by Romanian nationalists to delay ratification of a basic treaty with Hungary failed on 30 September, Radio Bucharest reported. The Chamber of Deputies adopted by a 187 to 19 vote its standing bureau's proposal that the treaty be debated this week in emergency procedures. Deputies from the ultra-nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) attacked the initiative for procedural reasons, saying it had not been previously approved by the chamber's Legislative Council and Foreign Policy Commission. They threatened to take the case to the Constitutional Court. PUNR Deputy Chairman Ioan Gavra accused the chamber's chairman, Adrian Nastase of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, of forcing the ratification of a "document that has no applicability whatsoever, either now or in the future." -- Dan Ionescu

U.S. URGES WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM MOLDOVA.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week on a special resolution demanding that Russia begin withdrawing its troops from Moldova, BASA-Press and Infotag reported on 30 September, quoting a press release from the Moldovan Foreign Ministry. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives on 26 September, calls for the fulfillment of a 21 October 1994 Moldovan-Russian agreement that provided for the troops' withdrawal over a three-year period -- an agreement that has never been ratified by the Russian State Duma. -- Zsolt Mato

BULGARIAN SEEKS EU HELP WITH GRAIN CRISIS.
The Bulgarian government is seeking EU help to deal with the ongoing grain crisis, international agencies reported. Trade Minister Atanas Paparizov and Agriculture Minister Krastyo Trendafilov told EU ambassadors on 30 September that the country needs 450,000 metric tons of grain and 700,000 tons of fodder, asking for grain shipments and commodity credits under preferential terms to be repaid in three years. Bulgaria is also negotiating with Ukraine and Kazakstan. This year's harvest -- about 1.9 million tons -- is the lowest in 10 years. Bread prices have increased fivefold since the beginning of 1996. Meanwhile, a poll published by Pari and Reuters showed that only 16% of respondents still trust Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government while 67% consider him incompetent. Some 80% believe the situation will deteriorate in the winter. -- Stefan Krause

OPPOSITION CANDIDATE FAVORED TO WIN BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
An opinion poll conducted by BBSS Gallup and published in Pari on 1 October showed the presidential candidate of the united opposition, Petar Stoyanov, leading over the candidate of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, with 29% to 18.6% of decided voters. Some 12.4% said they will vote for Georges Ganchev of the Bulgarian Business Bloc, 5.2% named Aleksandar Tomov of the Civic Alliance for the Republic, and 18.2% were undecided. Should a run-off be held, 42.8% were decided to vote for Stoyanov over 27.6% for Marazov. Meanwhile the Supreme Court on 30 September rejected an appeal by former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova against the Central Electoral Commission's decision not to register her for the presidential elections (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 September 1996). Indzhova implied the decision was politically motivated. -- Stefan Krause

POLIO CLAIMS ELEVENTH VICTIM IN ALBANIA.
Over 80 people have been infected with polio in Albania since April, ten of them within the past four days, Republika reported on 1 October. Eleven have died. A massive vaccination campaign of all people up to 50 years old is expected to start this week. UNICEF officials, however, warned that preparations were far from complete and that Albania's medical system and staff could not handle the task, international agencies reported. Polio cases were also reported in neighboring Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave and Tom Warner







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