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Newsline - October 7, 1996


CONFUSION OVER CHECHNYA.
Russian Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov said that the August agreements signed in Khasavyurt by Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov have no legal force, and that a formal treaty should be signed on the division of powers between the Russian Federation and Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 October. On 6 October, Maskhadov told Russian Public TV (ORT) that Chechnya would not agree to be a constituent part of Russia; the head of the Russian government's administrative department, Sergei Shakhrai, told NTV that Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov had warned several ambassadors in Moscow, including those from the Baltic states, against granting Chechnya official diplomatic recognition, Reuters reported. Seven people were killed and 24 injured when a Russian military helicopter crashed near Grozny on 4 October, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller

LIVSHITS THREATENS TO CUT CHECHEN FINANCING.
Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits said that financing for reconstruction work in Chechnya should be started in five years once the republic's political status becomes clear, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October. many opponents of the Khasavyurt accord have expressed their unwillingness to incude Chechnya in the Russian Federation budget and pay for its reconstruction if the country intends to become independent. In the meantime, Duma deputy Sergei Shakhrai said that the parliament is working on legislation to ensure that the money sent to Chechnya is spent on projects for which it was intended. -- Ritsuko Sasaki and Robert Orttung

LEBED SNUBS DEFENSE COUNCIL MEETING . . .
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed did not attend the inaugural 4 October session of the Defense Council, Russian media reported. Officially, Lebed's press service explained his absence as the result of his ongoing "intensive" work on the Chechen conflict. Segodnya military commentator Pavel Felgengauer speculated that Lebed boycotted the meeting to protest President Yeltsin's decision to replace him as head of a presidential commission overseeing military promotions with Yurii Baturin, secretary of the Defense Council. Lebed may also have refused to sit at the same table with Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, who accused him of "treason" in a 3 October speech in the Duma. -- Scott Parrish

. . . DEFENSE COUNCIL CALLS FOR MILITARY REFORM.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told the first meeting of the Defense Council on 4 October that Russia's armed forces should be downsized but professionalized, complaining that the current manpower levels, which are 20-30% in excess of those funded by the budget, have caused chronic financial problems. According to Segodnya on 5 October, the council agreed to reduce military personnel, but Defense Minister Igor Rodionov insisted that the other "power ministries," such as the Interior Ministry and the Federal Border Service, should share in the cuts. -- Scott Parrish

RODIONOV PROMOTED.
President Yeltsin promoted Defense Minister Col.-Gen. Igor Rodionov to the rank of army general on 4 October, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. The promotion puts an end to speculation that Rodionov would be forced to retire in December when he turns 60, the retirement age under current Russian law for a colonel-general. Army generals, however, can serve until age 65. -- Scott Parrish

TARPISCHEV SACKED . . .
President Yeltsin has dismissed Shamil Tarpischev from the posts of chairman of the State Committee on Sport and Tourism and chairman of the Presidential Coordinating Committee for Sport and Tourism, ORT reported on 5 October. Tarpischev was Yeltsin's tennis coach and a close friend of the president's former chief bodyguard, Aleksandr Korzhakov, who was ousted after the first round of the Russian presidential election. An article published in Novaya gazeta in July, citing information from former National Sports Fund head Boris Fedorov, accused Tarpischev of embezzlement and involvement in organized crime. Fedorov charged Korzhakov and former Federal Security Service Director Mikhail Barsukov with covering up Tarpischev's crimes. -- Penny Morvant

. . . CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS AGAINST KORZHAKOV RENEWED.
The day after Tarpischev was sacked, Fedorov renewed his attacks on Korzhakov, Reuters and AFP reported, citing NTV. Fedorov claimed that Korzhakov had accused him of embezzling $300 million belonging to the Sports Fund and that Korzhakov's deputy, Col. Valerii Streletskii, the new head of the fund, had subsequently told him to pay $40 million to avoid prosecution. He quoted Streletskii, who resigned in August, as saying: "This is a state racket. You must understand that the steam roller is moving." Fedorov denied stealing from the fund and said he had not paid the bribe. Several days after the conversation with Streletskii, Fedorov was seriously injured in an assassination attempt. The allegations coincide with speculation by Pavel Felgengauer and others that Korzhakov may form an alliance with Security Council Secretary Lebed, using information acquired while he was head of the Presidential Security Service to further his political ambitions. -- Penny Morvant

DUMA TAKES AIM AT ORT, JOURNALISTS RETURN FIRE.
The State Duma passed by a vote of 233 to 54 a non-binding resolution calling for the renationalization of 51% state-owned Russian Public TV (ORT), Russian media reported on 4 October. The resolution charged that news coverage on both ORT and the state-owned Russian TV (RTR) network is biased and unfairly portrays Duma deputies as irresponsible. The resolution is the latest in a series of failed efforts by parliament to nationalize ORT, informally known as "the president's television" because of its slanted coverage. -- Laura Belin

PPOSITION MARCHES TO WHITE HOUSE TO COMMEMORATE 1993 EVENTS.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov led a peaceful march of more than a thousand people to commemorate the anniversary of the shelling of the White House on 4 October 1993, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 October. The march ended at the White House, which in 1993 housed the Supreme Soviet but is currently the headquarters of the government. The most prominent opposition leaders from 1993, including then-Supreme Soviet chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, did not take part in the march. -- Laura Belin

LEBED FLIPS-FLOPS AGAIN ON NATO.
On the eve of his scheduled 7-8 October visit to NATO headquarters, Security Council Secretary Lebed continued to issue contradictory statements on NATO expansion. In a interview with Der Spiegel published on 7 October, Lebed denounced NATO expansion as "unacceptable," adding that if the alliance "pushed up to the Russian border," Moscow would be forced to alter its military stance. Arriving in Belgium on 6 October, however, Lebed declared that he intended to establish a "constructive" and "civilized" dialogue with NATO (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 October 1996). -- Scott Parrish

RUNOFF FORECAST FOR KALININGRAD.
Preliminary returns from the 6 October Kaliningrad Oblast election show that there will be a runoff between Governor Yurii Matochkin and Leonid Gorbenko, the head of the Kaliningrad port, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 October. Matochkin won about 31% of the vote to Gorbenko's 22%, while the Communist candidate, Yurii Semenov, won only negligible support. Turnout was reported at around 44%. On the eve of the election, Defense Minister Rodionov visited the oblast, which has a heavy military presence, but claimed that he was not involved in the campaign, ORT reported on 5 October. Kommersant-Daily suggested, however, that his visit could help the incumbent. -- Robert Orttung

INCUMBENT LOSES IN KIROV, WINS IN VOLOGDA.
Duma deputy Vladimir Sergeenkov, backed by the Communist-led Popular-Patriotic Union, won about 40% of the vote in Kirov Oblast on 6 October, ITAR-TASS reported, citing preliminary results. He will face Gennadii Shtin, the chairman of the oblast Council of Economic Managers, in the runoff. The incumbent Vasilii Desyatnikov, appointed to the post on 11 December 1991, won only 17.5% even though the oblast supported President Yeltsin in the 1996 presidential election. Turnout was 50.13%. Vologda Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalev won more than 80% of the vote in his race. Yeltsin appointed him governor on 23 March, after his predecessor, Nikolai Podgornov, was removed on corruption charges. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA DENOUNCES LATVIA.
The Duma passed a resolution on 4 October urging the Russian government to impose economic sanctions on Latvia in retaliation for what the chamber sees as the country's discriminatory practices against its Russian minority, ITAR-TASS reported. The resolution also asserted that "certain circles" in the Latvian government are deliberately trying to aggravate Russian-Latvian relations and stir up hatred between the Russian and Latvian peoples, citing the 22 August resolution of the Latvian parliament on Latvia's occupation by Soviet troops in 1940 as an example. -- Scott Parrish

ENERGY SECTOR STABILIZATION PROGRAM SIGNED IN PRIMORE.
First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, head of a government commission looking into the energy crisis in Primore, has approved a program to stabilize the situation in the region, ORT reported on 5 November. It orders Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko to ensure that at least 54 billion rubles ($10 million) is available each month to pay miners' and power workers' wages. The federal government will transfer 43.4 billion rubles a month to pay wages as compensation for the Defense Ministry's debts to power suppliers and arrange for the emergency delivery of coal and fuel oil. Several federal bodies have been ordered to pay their debts to the region's defense enterprises. The agreement is a compromise between Nazdratenko and the central government, which have accused each other of causing the crisis. -- Penny Morvant

BUDGET UNDER ATTACK IN DUMA.
Mikhail Zadornov, the head of the Duma Budget Committee, said that the government's draft budget for 1997 will almost certainly be rejected in the first reading, ORT reported on 5 October. The Duma started discussing the draft on 3 October. Many deputies questioned the value of debating the 1997 budget when the government is failing to make payments in accordance with the 1996 budget, and called for procedural changes to increase the Duma's role in budget implementation. There were also calls from many sides for an expansionary budget that would stimulate economic growth. Deputies were disturbed that the budget envisioned only 1% growth in GDP in 1997. In an address to the president's Political Consultative Council on 5 October, Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits defended the draft budget. Yurii Skokov, a council member, called for a nationwide referendum on the government's economic policy. -- Peter Rutland



EU DELEGATION CANCELS ARMENIA VISIT.
An EU delegation has canceled its scheduled trip to Armenia due to "security concerns" following last month's Armenian presidential election, the head of the EU Transcaucasus and Central Asia Department, Fokion Fotiadis, told Reuters on 5 October. Meanwhile, former presidential candidate Lenser Aghalovyan and Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union leader Aghasi Arshakyan have been released from custody, according to Noyan Tapan. They were detained in Yerevan after the 25 September attack on the parliament building. Ayzhm, the newspaper of defeated presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan's National Democratic Union, resumed publication on 4 October, presidential spokesman Levon Zurabyan told OMRI the same day. -- Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJAN'S PARLIAMENT RATIFIES SHAH DENIZ CONTRACT.
Azerbaijan's Milli Mejlis on 4 October finally ratified the contract signed in early June between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and a consortium consisting of Russia's LUKoil, BP, Norway's Statoil, Turkey's TPAO, Elf Aquitaine, and the National Iranian Oil Company, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Shah Deniz contains an estimated 500 billion cubic meters of gas, 190 million metric tons of oil, and 200 million metric tons of gas condensate. Seven opposition deputies from the Azerbaijani Popular Front and Azerbaijani Party of National Independence argued unsuccessfully against ratifying the deal until a more detailed discussion can be held on the contract. -- Liz Fuller

GEORGIA, EU SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT.
Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili and the head of a 15-person EU delegation signed an interim trade agreement on 4 October, Reuters reported. Delegation head Francois Lamoureux said that talks with the Georgian government had also focused on a $2.5 million assistance package aimed at helping Georgia prepare for WTO membership. -- Liz Fuller

UZBEKISTAN GIVES RUSSIA SANITARIUM.
Uzbekistan is to hand over a sanitarium on the Black Sea to Russia as payment for part of its debts to that country, ORT reported on 4 October. The 500-bed sanitarium in Sochi is worth an estimated 16.6 billion rubles ($3 million) and will be used by the Russian Interior Ministry. -- Lowell Bezanis

CIS MEETING ON AFGHANISTAN.
Strong words were used at a 4 October meeting in Almaty of the presidents of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in discussion of the situation in Afghanistan. However, the participants seemed to adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward the Afghan conflict. Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev expressed concern that the conflict is approaching the CIS border, and condemned the human rights violations that followed the Taliban ascension to power, ORT reported. But Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev claimed it would be a mistake to repeat the Soviet experience by interfering directly in Afghan internal affairs. Uzbek President Islam Karimov's motion calling for open support of General Abdurrashid Dostum forces in northern Afghanistan was voted down. -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN TEACHERS HOLD RALLY TO PROTEST UNPAID WAGES.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 teachers and university professors staged a rally in Kyiv on 6 October to protest against unpaid wages and deteriorating conditions in the country's schools and universities, Western agencies reported on the same day. The teachers are the latest among many categories of public sector employees to hold public protests against the government's wage arrears, which reportedly amount to $1.5 billion. The educators, who have not been paid for months, said that the nation's students were most effected by government cutbacks in education, which have created a shortage of textbooks and left many schools unable to pay for badly-needed repairs. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ETHNIC RUSSIANS IN CRIMEA FORM DUMA TO DEFEND RIGHTS.
Russian activists in Crimea held a congress on 5 October and founded a Duma, or legislature, to defend their rights and push for a new Slavic union between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. Some 80 delegates from various separatist parties and groups adopted a declaration, claiming the right to use acts of civil disobedience in cases of ethnic discrimination against them in the region. The document also said the group reserved the right to use arms "in the event of genocide or open terror against the Russian people or its representatives, as well as attempts to colonize the native Russian territories." -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO.
Oleksander Kuzmuk reaffirmed Ukraine's position on NATO expansion, saying Kyiv recognized Poland's right to join NATO, but stressed that Ukraine was opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons in Poland, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October. Kuzmuk was speaking at the conclusion of Polish-Ukrainian military maneuvers at Nowa Deba in eastern Poland. The same day Kuzmuk met with his Kazakstani counterpart, Alibek Kazimov, in Kyiv for an unofficial visit. The two discussed cooperation in the military industrial complex (MIC), including Ukraine building ships for Kazakstan's navy. Kazimov also met with Valerii Malev, Ukraine's Minister for Machine Building, Conversion and the MIC. -- Ustina Markus

LUKASHENKA SENDS LETTER TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
In line with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's contradictory policies, he sent a letter to the Council of Europe (CE) at the end of August which would have shocked his usual supporters--pensioners and orthodox communists, NTV and Russian Public television (ORT) reported on 5 October. In the letter, Lukashenka writes that "Belarus is actively seeking to cooperate with European structures, including NATO," and hopes to be accepted into the CE as soon as possible. Lukashenka also wrote that he was committed to economic reforms and the protection of civil rights, and that these goals were the reason behind holding the referendum on a new constitution. Deputy parliamentary speaker Vasil Novikau said the letter reflected the president's double standards, whereby Lukashenka upheld one policy for domestic consumption and another for the West. In public appearances in Belarus, Lukashenka has only advocated "market socialism" and has accused NATO ambassadors of plotting against him. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETS IN RIGA.
The ninth session of the Baltic Assembly, consisting of 20 parliament deputies from each of the Baltic states. met in Riga on 5-6 October, BNS reported. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis noted that Baltic independence would be strengthened by membership in the European Union and NATO. Assembly Chairman Ivars Kezbers, however, said that it was unrealistic to believe that the Baltic states could join either organization by the end of the century and urged them to cooperate to bring their military forces up to NATO standards. He hoped Latvia and Lithuania could reach a compromise on the sea-border question and not have to resort to international courts or mediators. -- Saulius Girnius

WORSENING PUBLIC IMAGE OF POLISH TV.
After almost six months in office, Polish TV (TVP) Director Ryszard Miazek had a positive rating of only 30%, according to a poll by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS). Former TVP Director Wieslaw Walendziak, by contrast, had a 61% approval rating as late as March, Polish media reported. The number of viewers negatively evaluating TVP programs rose from 10% to 18%, while the percentage of people considering TVP independent decreased from 51% to 40%. Miazek said he is not responsible for TVP's plummeting image since his programming schedule has only been on the air for two weeks. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON POLITICS, CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY.
Vaclav Havel said on 6 October, in his regular radio address, that "it would not be good if there existed [in the Czech Republic] a dictatorship of the parliament, and if the government were to be only an arm of the parliament." Havel was reacting to recent statements by Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, who accused the opposition Social Democrats of trying to "govern through the parliament" and turn his government into a "puppet government." On 5 October, Havel celebrated his 60th birthday at a party in Prague's Archa Theater. A number of celebrities and politicians, including Klaus and parliament chairman Milos Zeman, attended the party. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK ACTORS' STRIKE INTERRUPTED.
Slovak National Theater (SND) employees ended their strike on 4 October after the reinstatement of Stage Director Peter Mikulik by the new SND general director, Miroslav Fischer, Slovak media reported. Mikulik's dismissal in July by Culture Minister Ivan Hudec caused an outburst of criticism, and his replacement -- actor Lubomir Paulovic -- quit after little more than one month on the job. Fischer, who was a candidate of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia in the last elections, reappointed Mikulik after talks with the theater's trade union. Mikulik's reinstatement for the 1996-97 season was one of the actors' conditions for ending the strike. Fischer also agreed with the actors' other conditions; the holding of a public competition to replace Mikulik that will include SND drama representatives on the selection committee. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK HUNGARIANS COMPLAIN TO EU, NATO.
More than 500 ethnic Hungarians gathered on 5 October in Komarno, where they were acquainted with an open letter to EU and NATO countries signed by their top political and cultural representatives, Slovak media reported. Titled "Democracy is Endangered," the protest focused not only on the situation of minorities but also on more general trends. The letter pointed to what they considered the Slovak government's moves to restrict democracy, jeopardize regional security, centralize state power, and nationalize culture. In particular, the statement criticized the language law, the laws on foundations and universities, the situation of minority education, the country's new administrative division, and the recently approved law on parliamentary negotiation order that bars Hungarian deputies from addressing the parliament in their mother tongue. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT SACKS MINISTER AND PRIVATIZATION AGENCY MANAGEMENT.
The Hungarian government on 4 October sacked the entire board of the State Privatization and Holding Co. (APV), after revelations that the APV had made irregular payments to a consultant who negotiated with municipalities on APV's behalf, Hungarian dailies reported on 7 October. The cabinet ordered the consultant, Marta Tocsik, to repay the more than 800 million forint ($5.1 million) "success fee" to the treasury within 15 days. Prime Minister Gyula Horn wanted to spare Industry and Trade Minister Tamas Suchman, but upon pressure from both the Socialists and the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats, he called upon Suchman to resign on 7 October. Suchman has been in charge of privatization since January 1995 and was named industry and trade minister only last month. Parallel with his nomination, supervision of the privatization process was put under the Industry and Trade Ministry. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST GOVERNMENT AUSTERITY MEASURES IN BUDAPEST.
Concurrent with the increasing privatization scandal, the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum on 5 October staged a demonstration outside parliament, protesting the government's austerity program, Hungarian media reported on 7 October. Vice President and former Prime Minister Peter Boross sharply criticized government policies, especially those on health care and pension reform. The estimated 15,000 strong crowd called for the re-establishment of social welfare payments, a return to three-year maternity leaves, and the elimination of a 2,000 forint ($20) monthly fee for university education. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



BOSNIAN SERBS BOYCOTT PRESIDENCY, PARLIAMENT.
Representatives from Pale failed to attend the opening of the new all-Bosnian legislature and a session of the three-man presidency in Sarajevo on 5 October, Oslobodjenje reported. Serbian presidency member Momcilo Krajisnik said that he feared for the Serbs' safety, but it also appears that he was unwilling to take the loyalty oath to Bosnia-Herzegovina that was administered at the session. The Bosnian Serb leadership was also probably still angry that the Muslim presidency member and current presidency chair, Alija Izetbegovic, agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Belgrade last week without consulting Pale. Krajisnik denied that he and the others had staged a boycott but instead stressed the safety issue and added that the Serbs are ready to participate in joint institutions. International officials have protested to Pale, but it is not clear who has the next move in the ongoing chess game. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD IN NOVEMBER.
The OSCE's supervisor of the Bosnian elections, U.S. diplomat Robert Frowick, said on 4 October that the vote for local officials will go ahead on 22-24 November. It is not clear what he intends to do about the extensive political engineering that had been involved in the voter registration process and forced the postponement of the local ballot from the original 14 September date. Frowick said that he wants the elections to take place before the international military presence is reduced or withdrawn, the BBC noted. But critics claim that he is under strong political pressure from the Clinton administration to wind things up as quickly as possible, so that the president can claim to the U.S. electorate that things are proceeding on schedule. -- Patrick Moore

CROATS LEAVE INAUGURAL SESSION OF SARAJEVO CANTONAL ASSEMBLY.
Members of the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) staged a walkout on 5 October at the first meeting of a lower-level parliament body to protest their lack of power in the Muslim-dominated assembly, AFP reported. Deputies of the assembly representing the HDZ arrived in the municipal center building but then walked out before taking the oath. In the 14 September Bosnian vote for Sarajevo's cantonal assembly, the HDZ won only 6%, while the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) won 59% of the vote. But although Sarajevan Croats did not vote for it, the HDZ wants one-third of the power in the Sarajevo canton, Oslobodjenje reported on 7 October. -- Daria Sito Sucic

U.S. ENVOY DISCUSSES UN MANDATE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
UN spokesman Douglas Coffman said that John Kornblum arrived in eastern Slavonia on 4 October to meet Jacques Klein, head of the UN administration of the region, to discuss the possibility of extending the mandate of UN troops in the last Serb-held region of Croatia, AFP reported. Coffman said that Kornblum came to show U.S. support for the reintegration process of eastern Slavonia to Croatia -- which is due after the UN mandate in the region expires -- but he also discussed the possibility of extending the mandate. The Serbs in the area want that UN mandate extended, while Croats want the troops to leave. According to the state-run Hina news agency, Kornblum met with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and expressed hope that the UN mandate would end successfully. Tudjman repeated that the reintegration should be completed by 15 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA CHARGES YUGOSLAV ARMY CHIEF WITH WAR CRIMES.
Croatian prosecutors have charged Momcilo Perisic, the current Yugoslav army chief of staff, with war crimes when he was a colonel in the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), AFP reported on 5 October, quoting a Slobodna Dalmacija report. The prosecutor in the town of Zadar indicted Perisic along with eight other former JNA officers for having ordered and carried out attacks against civilian targets in Zadar and the surrounding region in August and September 1991. They are charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and for having violated international war conventions. In other news, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 4 October announced that the trial of Bosnian Croat General Tihomil Blaskic, charged of massacring Bosnian Muslim civilians, has been set for 8 January, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

UN HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY VISITS KOSOVO.
Elisabeth Rehn met with the Serbian prefect in Kosovo, Aleksa Jokic, and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova on 6 October, AFP reported. She urged the opening of UN and EU offices in Pristina and discussed with Rugova the idea of an international administration. Rehn, however, said it was only one of many proposals. She also met human rights activist Adem Demaci. With Jokic she discussed the education crisis in the region. Despite a previous agreement between Rugova and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, some 200 schools still operate in private homes. -- Fabian Schmidt

BELGRADE-SKOPJE ELIMINATE TARIFFS ON MUTUAL TRADE.
In accordance with an agreement signed in Skopje on 4 September between the Macedonian and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's premiers, all tariffs on goods traded between the two countries were eliminated on 7 October, Nova Makedonija reported. A uniform 1% registration fee will replace variable customs fees ranging up to 7.5%. However, quantitative restrictions on certain exports and imports remain, although Skopje and Belgrade have agreed not to introduce new ones. Macedonia continues to restrict importation of pork, milk, cheese, tobacco, ferrous metals, refrigerators, buses, and oil products, while federal Yugoslavia restricts exports of livestock, sugar, oil seeds, and leather. The trade liberalization is expected to increase bilateral trade turnover. The two sides intend to establish a free-trade zone by 1999. -- Michael Wyzan

ROMANIAN ELECTIONS UPDATE.
The Central Electoral Bureau announced on 3 October that sixteen candidates had registered for the presidential elections due to be held on 3 November, Radio Bucharest announced on 4 October. The bureau did not specify how many parties will be competing in the parliamentary elections, to be held concurrently with the presidential election. Registration for running in the elections was closed on 3 October. Among those running for the highest office are a faith healer and two former court poets of executed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. The three top candidates are incumbent President Ion Iliescu, the candidate of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania; Emil Constantinescu, the chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania; and Petre Roman, former prime minister between 1990 and 1991 and the candidate of the Social Democratic Union. -- Zsolt Mato and Michael Shafir

UPDATE ON TALKS BETWEEN BULGARIA, IMF, WORLD BANK.
Bulgarian National Bank Governor Lyubomir Filipov said on 5 October that Bulgaria will receive the second installment of an IMF standby loan, the daily Duma reported on 7 October. Filipov said the $116 million installment will be disbursed in November at the earliest. At the end of October, an IMF mission will visit Bulgaria for a review of implementation of economic reforms. But Standart reported that the IMF on 4 October decided not to disburse the installment until 15 big state firms are sold. It added that Bulgaria will not receive a World Bank structural-reform loan until progress is made in mass privatization. The same report notes that the IMF only agreed to give Bulgaria a $35-50 million loan for urgent grain purchases. Standart noted that the government did not meet its obligations and that "in practice there is no structural reform." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON TV.
The 13 presidential candidates gave short addresses on state television on 5-6 October. Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, candidate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, said voters on 27 October will determine what Bulgaria's future will look like. Marazov blamed politicians for creating tension and said the killing of former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov should "unite the nation." The united opposition's Petar Stoyanov said Bulgaria must chose between "national irresponsibility and catastrophe and the change of political and economic realities." He said he will strengthen the president's position vis-a-vis the government. In other news, Standart reported on 7 October that Lukanov had put together a new government list, planning to oust Prime Minister Zhan Videnov after the presidential elections. He reportedly named Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev as Videnov's successor. Former President and Communist Party leader Petar Mladenov, however, dismissed the report. -- Stefan Krause

GENERAL STRIKE IN ALBANIA.
The Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) held a one-day general strike in Albania on 4 October, Dita Informacion reported on October 5. The trade unions demanded compensation for recent price hikes of bread and fuel. Dita Informacion points out that the protest was directed mainly against Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's government, although "all of the relevant economic measures ... had the blessing of President [Sali] Berisha." Dita Informacion surmises that Berisha may sacrifice Meksi as a scapegoat to decrease social tensions in the country, adding that Berisha is interested in maintaining good relations with the trade unions and recently sponsored and addressed the BSPSH congress. -- Dukagjin Gorani

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Pete Baumgartner











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