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Newsline - October 9, 1996


CHERNOMYRDIN, FEDERATION COUNCIL BACK PEACE IN CHECHNYA BUT NOT INDEPENDENCE.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 8 October effectively undermined the 31 August Khasavyurt agreement on Chechnya by telling the Federation Council that he supported negotiations that would keep the republic inside the Russian Federation, NTV reported. The agreement postpones a decision on Chechen independence for five years. Chernomyrdin said that he did not share Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov's criticism of Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's activities in Chechnya, but said he viewed the Khasavyurt agreement that Lebed signed as having no legal force. The Federation Council also adopted a statement that backed the Khasavyurt agreement for ending the fighting but also stressed that Chechnya must remain a part of Russia, Kommersant-Daily reported on 9 October. Chechen fighters seeking independence may see these moves as further evidence of Moscow's double-dealing with them. -- Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKII ON CLANS, LEBED.
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said Russia currently has three governments, led by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, and Security Council Secretary Lebed, Russian media reported on 8 October. He said the infighting in the executive branch was not a "political battle" so much as a "battle among clans for influence and access to budget funds." The Yabloko leader noted that his party supports Lebed on Chechnya policy but not necessarily on other matters. (Yavlinskii tried unsuccessfully to negotiate an electoral alliance with Lebed last spring.) Meanwhile, Democratic Russia co-leader Galina Starovoitova called on Russia's democrats to support Lebed's peacemaking efforts in Chechnya, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin

ELECTORAL COMMISSION CALLS FOR NEW LAW ON CAMPAIGN FINANCING.
Members of the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), including chairman Nikolai Ryabov, called on parliament to pass a special law to improve compliance with Russia's campaign financing regulations, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. TsIK member Viktor Karpunov noted that all 11 presidential candidates violated at least one of the regulations. According to official TsIK figures, President Yeltsin spent about 14.4 billion rubles ($2.8 million) during the campaign, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Aleksandr Lebed about 14 billion rubles each, and Gennadii Zyuganov about 11.3 billion rubles. However, observers agree that these figures are unreliable; in particular, Yeltsin's campaign is believed to have spent many times the amount officially declared. Ryabov confirmed that he will soon take a new job as ambassador to the Czech Republic, Kommersant-Daily reported on 9 October. -- Laura Belin

LEBED SEES THREAT FROM SOUTH, NOT WEST.
While continuing his visit to NATO headquarters, Security Council Secretary Lebed said that the real threat to Russia's security comes from the country's unstable south, not from the West, ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed declared that Russia would play a role in any continuation of the NATO-led peace mission in Bosnia, which is set to end in December, Reuters reported. Additionally, Lebed called for greater cooperation between Russia and NATO within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, noting that Russia has not taken advantage of all of the program's opportunities. Reuters described NATO officials as "bordering on euphoric" since, as one source said, Lebed was "thoughtful," and not the "bluff, desk-thumping character" they had expected. -- Robert Orttung

PACKAGE OF RUSSIA-MOLDOVA AGREEMENTS SIGNED.
Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli wrapped up a two-day visit to Moscow by signing 11 accords with his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, ITAR-TASS and Moldovan agencies reported on 8 October. Most of the agreements concerned economic issues, such as electric energy deliveries to Moldova, currency controls, and joint action against financial crime. Deputy prime ministers of the two countries signed an agreement on broadcasting Russian television and radio programs on Moldovan territory. Igor Smirnov, president of the self-styled Transdniester Republic, took part in the talks as a member of the Moldovan delegation. Russia favors a special status for Transdniester within Moldova but not full independence for the region. -- Laura Belin and Michael Shafir

MEDIA ATTACKS ON LEBED.
The mass media, especially Russian Public TV (ORT) and NTV, have begun a "defamation" campaign against Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, according to Pravda-5 on 9 October. On 6 October, NTV reported that Lebed intervened in August to prevent the sacking of the director of the arms exporter Rosvooruzhenie, who was a protege of former presidential bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov. The network suggested that Rosvooruzhenie could be a source of campaign funding for Lebed if an early presidential election becomes necessary. Logovaz head Boris Berezovskii, the most powerful figure at ORT, and NTV President Igor Malashenko are considered allies of presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, one of Lebed's Kremlin rivals. Both networks gave Lebed substantial, favorable exposure shortly before the presidential election, which was consistent with President Yeltsin's campaign strategy. News coverage on ORT and NTV in particular contributed to Korzhakov's 20 June ouster. -- Laura Belin

ILLEGAL ARMS TRADE.
"Soldiers, officers, and traders are stealing weapons," Deputy Military Procurator Lt.-Gen. Stanislav Gaveto told Rossiiskie vesti on 9 October, adding "The country is awash with arms, nobody knows how many." The problem is exacerbated by the fact that units returning from Chechnya are not being searched for surplus weapons at holding camps, as during the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Officially recorded cases of arms theft from military bases rose from 151 in 1988 to 5,814 in 1992 but fell to 375 in 1994. In the first half of 1996, there were 339 cases. Meanwhile, Interior Ministry official Nikolai Borovskii on 8 October said more than 31,000 weapons were reported stolen from all sources in the first nine months of 1996, ITAR-TASS reported. He linked the rise in serious crimes to the increased number of weapons in circulation and criticized a Duma bill that would make it easier for Russians to own guns. -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN PROPOSES ENERGY PRICE FREEZE . . .
Addressing the Federation Council on 8 September, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin outlined the government's economic program for 1997, ORT reported. He said he expects inflation this year to be no more than 19% and promised to keep the money supply under tight control. He talked vaguely about introducing a new tax to finance the army, and said that a decree is being prepared to freeze energy and possibly transport tariffs in view of the debt crisis facing many electricity stations. Such a step would violate the government's commitment to gradually increase energy prices in line with IMF recommendations. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AMID EMERGENCY MEASURES TO HELP ARMY.
Finance Minister Livshits said that steps have been taken to ensure that food and fuel supplies reach military bases, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. He was speaking after a closed session of the Federation Council on the topic. Livshits said "All the required budgetary payments for the army have been released. However, for various reasons not all the money has reached the military units. Rather than argue with [Defense Minister] Gen. [Igor] Rodionov over why this happened, we came up with a way to solve the situation." Regions that make food deliveries to military units will be compensated by the government--presumably by waiving tax arrears. This policy contradicts the government's efforts to cut back tax waivers and non-cash tax payments. -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION ON ENERGY, TRANSPORT TARIFFS.
Also on 8 October, the government's Commission for Operational Questions, chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, met to discuss the energy situation, ORT reported. The commission was told that many local authorities are refusing to raise electricity prices in light of the upcoming regional elections. After a two-hour discussion on rail-freight tariffs, the commission decided to postpone for one month a decision on whether to increase them. -- Peter Rutland

KADANNIKOV TO RETURN TO AVTO VAZ.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov on 11 October will return to his former post of chairman of the board of directors of Avto VAZ, the automobile giant which is now on the brink of bankruptcy, Kommersant-Daily reported on 9 October. The government's InterAgency Bankruptcy Committee has asked Avto VAZ to submit documents on its current financial situation and its debt repayment schedule at the planned 11 October special meeting. Presidential Chief of Staff Chubais criticized Avto VAZ for not paying its federal taxes since January 1996, NTV reported on 5 October. Meanwhile, Kadannikov has announced that the government will freeze budget debts worth 10 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) until 2001. -- Ritsuko Sasaki



ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
Ruben Hakobyan, the only parliamentary deputy for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun party, was beaten and seriously injured after his arrest on 26 September by a group of men that included Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan, Noyan Tapan and Groong reported on 8 October, citing Hakobyan's defense attorney, Tigran Janoyan. Janoyan also said he has not been allowed to meet with his client since 30 September. He described the official charges against Hakobyan and other opposition members arrested following the 25 September attack on the parliament building in Yerevan as "absurd" and "politically motivated." -- Emil Danielyan

AZERBAIJAN "COUP" TRIALS POSTPONED.
Azerbaijan's Supreme Court has again postponed the trial of some 37 members of the OPON special police charged with treason in connection with the March 1995 standoff between the OPON and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, because the defense lawyers of some of those accused are not yet familiar with the case, ITAR-TASS and Turan reported on 8 October. The Supreme Court will, however, proceed with the trial of two former Azerbaijani generals charged with plotting to shoot down President Heidar Aliev's plane in the summer of 1995. -- Liz Fuller

KITOVANI SENTENCED.
Former Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani was sentenced on 8 October to eight years in prison on charges of organizing an illegal armed formation and of unlawful possession of weapons, Reuters and Russian TV (RTR) reported. Kitovani was arrested in January 1995, when he and former Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua attempted to launch a military campaign to bring the breakaway region of Abkhazia back under Tbilisi's jurisdiction. Valerii Fisyun and former Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Irakli Surguladze, charged together with Kitovani, were sentenced to six and two years in prison, respectively. Kitovani denounced the court proceedings as a show trial staged by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in order to neutralize a political opponent. -- Liz Fuller

NAZARBAYEV SEES LIGHT AT END OF TUNNEL.
Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev told a national television audience on 7 October that the country is emerging from its economic crisis, according to a Kazakstani TV report monitored by the BBC. In the address, which was published in Kazakhstanskaya pravda the next day, Nazarbayev said that privatization and financial and industrial reforms would be completed by early 1998. He also said he wanted annual inflation cut in half by the end of the decade. Inflation has dropped from 2,200% in 1993 to a predicted 30% for 1996, Reuters reported on 8 October. Nazarbayev promised to press the government to pay overdue wages and pensions. The Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakstan and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakstan still plan to hold demonstrations over that issue next week. -- Bruce Pannier

MAYLI-SUU CLEANUP PLANNED.
Kyrgyz and Uzbek environmental agencies have agreed to cooperate to reduce the danger at more than 20 radioactive waste sites near the Kyrgyz town of Mayli-Suu, according to a report in Aziya- Ekonomika i zhizn [No. 40] monitored by the BBC. Successive heavy rains and mudslides have meant that the dump sites may be contaminating the Mayli-Suu River and through it various canals that irrigate the Ferghana Valley. -- Lowell Bezanis

PAKISTANI ENVOY IN TURKMENISTAN.
Following talks between a special envoy from Pakistan, Ijlal Haider Zaidi, and Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov on 7 October both sides agreed on the preservation of Afghanistan's territorial integrity and noninterference in its internal affairs, Turkmen and Russian media reported. Zaidi's visit to Ashgabat was presumably intended to reassure Turkmenistan about Pakistan's intentions and to suggest that Taliban does not pose a security threat to Afghanistan's neighbors. -- Lowell Bezanis



CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE


UKRAINIAN HOSTAGES FROM CHECHNYA ARRIVE IN ODESSA.
Odessa Mayor Eduard Hurvits negotiated the release of 34 Ukrainian citizens held hostage in Chechnya, Ukrainian radio reported on 9 October. Hurvits flew to Grozny where he met with a number of rebel Chechen leaders, including acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. The Ukrainian hostages had been recruited in Kirovohrad for reconstruction work in Grozny in the summer. Fifty nine of them were captured in the first half of August. The Chechen leaders reportedly sympathized with Hurvits and allowed 34 hostages to return with him to Odessa. The plane also brought home the body of a 19-year old Ukrainian who died in captivity. -- Ustina Markus

WAGE ARREARS IN UKRAINIAN ARMY.
Andrii Timofeyev, the deputy chief of the finance department in the Defense Ministry, said the average Ukrainian serviceman has not been paid in two months, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. Timofeyev said President Leonid Kuchma's 5 October decree on paying servicemen's wages and other social benefits was unlikely to be implemented because there was no money in the state budget to cover the wage arrears. Kuchma's decree raised servicemen's salaries almost to the same level as Russian salaries. -- Ustina Markus

CRIMEAN ADVISOR SURVIVES SHOOTING.
Anatolii Artiushenko, a Crimean parliamentary aide and advisor to the regional government, was shot by two unidentified assailants in an apparent murder attempt, Ukrainian TV reported on 9 October. Artiushenko has been hospitalized with two bullet wounds resulting from the incident, which occured outside the Crimean capital's main post office. Local police are investigating. Crimea has one of the highest crime rates in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials recently revealed the murder rate in the region has jumped 44% compared to 1995. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TO COMPROMISE?
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he was ready to consider compromising with parliament and would appear in the legislature at the end of the week with his proposals, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. Lukashenka said that 110 deputies (over half of the elected legislature) were prepared to reconsider the referendum date set by parliament, 24 November, and schedule the ballot for 7 November, as Lukashenka wanted. But the deputies want to add a number of amendments to Lukashenka's version of a new constitution. Lukashenka said he was 99% ready to compromise. The same day communist leader Syarhei Kalyakin said the communists would not participate in any demonstrations on 19 October because they feared there could be serious public disturbances. The 5,000 member All Belarusian Congress is scheduled to meet that day and debate Lukashenka's proposed new constitution. The opposition has been preparing to stage a massive protest rally at the same time. -- Ustina Markus

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES FREE-TRADE PACTS.
The Seimas on 8 October unanimously ratified the free trade agreements signed with the European Free Trade Association in December and with Poland on 27 June, BNS reported. It also approved an additional question for the referendum that will be held on 20 October together with parliamentary elections. The question proposed by the conservatives asks whether state property still to be privatized should be sold only at public auctions and used to compensate people for savings lost to inflation and increase pensions. The Seimas also passed a law regulating state-owned national radio and television. -- Saulius Girnius

OSCE COMMISSIONER VISITS LATVIA.
The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel, met with Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs and President Guntis Ulmanis on 8 October, BNS reported. He said that the attitude of resident non-Latvians toward Latvia as an independent state was improving, but was still disturbed by the fact that 28% of the permanent residents in Latvia were not citizens. Ulmanis, however, said that the naturalization process had just begun and that the situation would improve when more residents will be able to apply for naturalization. Latvian officials at the Naturalization Administration noted that less than 1,000 residents were naturalized in 1996, although 33,000 were eligible to apply. -- Saulius Girnius

DEPUTIES CRITICIZE ESTONIAN PRESIDENT'S SPEECH.
Twenty one Estonian lawmakers, mostly from farm parties, issued a statement on 8 October accusing President Lennart Meri of overstepping his responsibilities by saying on tv that Estonia was ready to sign a border agreement with Russia immediately, BNS reported. The deputies asserted that according to the constitution, the president is not empowered to make statements in the name of the state and they said his remarks only "fanned discord on the domestic political scene at a time when we need to stick together." Progress Party Chairwoman Andra Veidemann, however, called the statement against the president "political demagoguery." -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH LEFT AGAINST REPUBLICAN LEAGUE.
The left-wing daily Trybuna, linked to the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), criticized on 7 October the right-wing Republican League for a series of crude attacks this year against left-wing politicians, including President Aleksander Kwasniewski, former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, and Education Minister Jerzy Wiatr. In January, the league scattered 2,000 leaflets in the Sejm with a slogan "SLD=KGB," they threw eggs at Wiatr in Krakow in May, and they protested Kwasniewski's recent visit to Warsaw University, displaying posters exclaiming, "No entry without a diploma," mocking the president's recent false claims of having a university degree. Trybuna said the league's has introduced brutal methods into political life. Danuta Waniek, the chief of the president's chancellery, said the league "broke the law many a time" and that the prosecutors should take appropriate steps against it, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 8 October. -- Jakub Karpinski

A SECOND DRAFT CONSTITUTION IN POLAND?
The Polish left-wing parties, the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and Polish Peasant Party, and the Labor Union, a party often in opposition, would like the current parliament to adopt the constitution, Rzeczpospolita reported on 8 October. Deputy Izabella Sierakowska (SLD) said the constitution is third on her party's list of priorities, after public insurance and health service policies. She said deputies from the opposition Freedom Union remain preoccupied with already resolved questions in the draft, like the reference to God in the preamble. She said she has opted for a referendum on two different drafts. Solidarity and the Movement of Poland's Rebirth, both not represented in the Sejm, would prefer the new parliament, scheduled to be elected next year, to adopt the constitution, in the hope that the next legislature will be more diversified. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH POLITICAL UPDATE.
The Czech parliament on 8 October elected the members of two 12-member investigation committees that are to look into the recent banking scandals and the privatization of the steel company PoldiKladno, Czech media reported. The chairmen of the two committees are to be elected on 9 October. The parliament also began discussing the state budget. The caucus of the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) appears to be split over whether to support the budget in the first reading. While some CSSD deputies have indicated they will vote against the budget, the chairman of the parliament's budget committee, the CSSD's Josef Wagner, urged his party to approve the budget. Wagner criticized the budget, but argued that the CSSD has to have the stability of the country in mind. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA.
In an 8 October interview with the Russian daily Trud, Vladimir Meciar stressed that "in foreign policy we aim for balance in relations with the East and the West," TASR reported. "Slovakia is well aware of its geopolitical value," Meciar said, adding that although his country favors full integration into Europe, "[this] does not mean that we will unconditionally agree with the West on everything." He called Slovak-Russian relations "good and without problems," but noted Slovakia's trade deficit with Russia. After the Czech Republic, Russia ranks second in terms of imports to Slovakia; however, it is seventh in terms of Slovakia's export markets. Also on 8 October, the Russian Embassy in Slovakia handed over copies of historic documents on the 1944 Slovak National Uprising. The originals, held by the Russian Presidential Archives, were unavailable to historians until now. -- Sharon Fisher

BOMB THREAT AT SLOVAK OPPOSITION DAILY.
Production of Sme had to be interrupted for more than one hour on 8 October after an anonymous caller twice announced that a bomb lodged in the editor's office would explode, the daily reported the next day. Police and experts searched the building and later allowed the staff to continue production. Meanwhile, the paper promised to step up security measures. Anonymous bomb threats are not a new phenomenon in Slovakia, but it is rarely possible to determine the culprit. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARY'S PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL CONTINUES.
According to the daily Nepszabadsag, such unjustified payments as the record-high consultant fee that recently erupted a major privatization scandal are not unique in Hungarian privatization practices. The paper reveals that the management of the privatization agency (APV) on 25 September approved a draft contract with the company Dunaferr on assets management, establishing that APV will pay a 1 billion forint ($6.3 million) "incentive fee" to Dunaferr for an equity increase between 1997 and 2001. Dunaferr's management seeks to increase the company's capital by about 8 billion forints during this period, but observers say the 1 billion forint fee is disproportionate to the equity rise. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

PARLIAMENT SETS DATE FOR HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN BASIC TREATY RATIFICATION.
The Hungarian parliament is expected to begin debate on ratifying the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty on 28 October, Magyar Hirlap reported on 9 October. The treaty, signed by Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and his Romanian counterpart Nicolae Vacaroiu in Timisoara on 16 September, has been ratified by the two houses of the Romanian legislature. The Hungarian parliamentary vote is likely to take place before the Romanian parliamentary and presidential elections, set for 3 November.-- Zsofia Szilagyi




EASTERN SLAVONIA UNDER CROATIAN ADMINISTRATION IN EARLY SPRING.
Jacques Klein, the UN transitional administrator for eastern Slavonia, the last Serb-held area in Croatia, said on 8 October he hoped the disputed area would return under the Croatian authority administration in spring next year at the latest, Hina reported. "Our aim is next spring and then terminate the mandate by early summer," Klein said after a meeting with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, adding he always considered the six-month extension of the UNTAES mandate as reasonable. Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Kostovic said the Croatian government would cooperate with UNTAES and fulfill its financial obligations until the spring, while expecting the UN forces to enable the repatriation of displaced persons to the villages included in the return pilot-project. Klein said he wished elections in eastern Slavonia to "take place as soon as possible" on the basis of pre-war lists of registered voters. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER READY TO COOPERATE?
The Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, said he is ready to take part in joint institutions with the Muslims and the Croats, Nasa Borba reported on 9 October. He added that he is willing to sign a declaration of loyalty to the Bosnian Constitution and recommend to the Bosnian Serbs elected to the joint legislature that they do the same. Krajisnik maintained that he did not attend the opening session of the presidency and legislature in Sarajevo purely out of concern for the Serbs' safety and not for political reasons, a point that many observers would dispute (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 8 October 1996). He called for a new ceremony to be held in the Republika Srpska and he added that it is now up to the international community's High Representative, Carl Bildt, to make the next move. Oslobodjenje pointed out that Serbian participation will be necessary for the legislature to function legally. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB UPDATE.
The government of the Republika Srpska (RS) met in Pale and called for special relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia, and Montenegro, as is allowed by the Dayton agreement. The government also wants to close the refugee centers in Zvornik, Bratunac, and Visegrad, Nasa Borba reported on 9 October. Meanwhile in Mostar, a delegation of ethnic Serb refugees arrived from Belgrade to discuss plans for their permanent return to their hometown. On Mt. Jahorina, the opening session of the new Academy of Sciences of the Republika Srpska is slated for 11 October. There will be a four-person Executive Committee and Presidency, which will include the historian and nationalist ideologue, Milorad Ekmecic. Meanwhile, near the "zone of separation" between the two entities, RS police will patrol jointly with their UN counterparts in three villages near Zvornik. Muslim refugees have begun returning to their homes in the area as they are allowed to do under the Dayton agreement, much to the consternation of IFOR and the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore

FIRST TRAINING CENTER FOR MUSLIM-CROAT ARMY OPENS.
Military Professional Resources Inc., a company run by retired U.S. Army generals, opened the first military training center on 7 October for the joint Muslim-Croat Army in Pazaric, south of Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje reported. The opening ceremony was attended by Defense Minister Vladimir Soljic, a Bosnian Croat, and his Muslim deputy Hasan Cengic. Gen. Rasim Delic, who will command the joint forces, said: "From this moment, I am not a general without an army," while his Croat deputy, Gen.-Col. Zivko Budimir said the center might well become the future Bosnian Military Academy. The $400 million U.S.- sponsored program is aimed at establishing a balance between the federal army and Bosnian Serb forces. It also intends to help merge Muslims and Croats into a united force under civilian control. -- Daria Sito Sucic

THE "OTHER SERBIA" ADDRESSES EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT.
Leaders of the opposition Zajedno coalition parties addressed the European Parliament on 8 October, Nasa Borba reported. Vuk Draskovic from the Serbian Renewal Movement, Zoran Djindjic from the Democratic Party and Vesna Pesic from the Citizen's Union, presented their platform to European legislators. They said their coalition represented a democratic and pro-European Serbia and pointed out it was the first time that representatives of the "other Serbia" were invited to Brussels. They stressed that only establishing democratic institutions and a state based on the rule of law can bring about peaceful solutions to pending problems in the region, such as the Kosovo dispute. -- Fabian Schmidt

POLL SHOWS SNEGUR AHEAD IN PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST.
A public opinion poll conducted by the Moldova Moderna Research Center jointly with the Russian-German Sinus Institute of Sociological Research shows incumbent President Mircea Snegur is backed by 34.3% of the voters. Presidential elections are scheduled for 17 November. According to BASA-press, second after Snegur is parliamentary Chairman Petru Lucinschi with 22%. Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli is backed by only 6.9%. The other candidates registered even less support than Sangheli. -- Michael Shafir

UPDATE ON BULGARIAN "CREDIT MILLIONAIRES."
The government's intention to publish a list of "credit millionaires"--people who took big bank loans and did not repay them--before the 27 October presidential elections continues to stir political controversy. Standart on 9 October reported that the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is preparing amendments to the banking law after Bulgarian National Bank officials said the publication would contravene present legislation. Some bankers have objected to the publication, saying it could result in "an action to settle political and business accounts," Trud reported. Union of Democratic Forces caucus leader Yordan Sokolov said that if such a list already exists, it indeed violates current legislation. BSP faction leader Krasimir Premyanov said he had not seen the list, but was sure that no BSP deputies were on the list, since "BSP party and [faction] statutes bar [them] from...such activities." -- Stefan Krause

MACEDONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS BELGRADE.
Blagoje Handziski met with his federal Yugoslav counterpart, Pavle Bulatovic, in Nis on 8 October, Nasa Borba reported. The defense ministers were accompanied by high-ranking military delegations. Both sides agreed to quickly resolve open border disputes and to open mutual military representation offices in the respective capitals as a first step towards deepening military cooperation. They also agreed on the exchange of documents concerning the pensions of Yugoslav Peoples Army officers. MILS, however, indicated that the sides also discussed a Macedonian request for federal Yugoslav military equipment, which Belgrade is obliged to destroy following the Dayton agreement. Serbian capacities for arms destruction are limited to one factory in Smederevo and observers doubt that Belgrade will be able to fulfill its obligations, BETA reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN RIGHT FORMS COALITION BEFORE ZOGU'S 101 BIRTHDAY.
The National Front party and the Legality movement, celebrated King Ahmet Zogu's 101st birthday on 7 October by forming a coalition for the upcoming local elections, Koha Jone reported. During a rally in Shkoder, the head of a former landowners association denounced Albanian President Sali Berisha as a "communist," while the head of the local Association of the Politically Persecuted charged the Democrats with planning election fraud. In other news, the Center Pole coalition sent a protest letter to the German embassy condemning the participation of German Christian Democratic party officials in the election campaign in support of the Democratic Party as a violation of the electoral law. Dita Informacion on 10 October pointed out that this could be punishable by up to three years in prison. -- Fabian Schmidt





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