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Newsline - October 14, 1996


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OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 199, Part I, 14 October 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

RUSSIA

LEBED SUPPORTS KORZHAKOV. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed endorsed former Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov in his bid to win a Duma seat in Tula, NTV and Russian TV (RTR) reported on 13 October. The election will be held in February 1997 in the electoral district where Lebed was elected to the parliament in December 1995. Lebed had to resign his Duma seat after his appointment to the Security Council. Observers speculate that Lebed endorsed Korzhakov because of the latter's connections in the financial world or to gain access to secret materials that Korzhakov claims to have collected during the 11 years he worked as President Yeltsin's bodyguard. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

DUMA REJECTS 1997 BUDGET. . . On 11 October the State Duma rejected the 1997 draft federal budget on first reading, ITAR-TASS reported. The move was supported by all factions, even including the pro-government Our Home is Russia. Deputies were unhappy with both the tax and spending side. The budget envisioned revenues of 434 trillion rubles ($80 billion) and spending of 524 trillion rubles, leaving a deficit of 90 trillion rubles. As a share of GDP this amounts to 16%, 19.5%, and 3.3% respectively. The Duma will decide on 16 October whether to send the budget straight back to the government, as the communists suggest, or agree to form a reconciliation commission with the government. -- Natalia Gurushina

. . . AND TAX PROPOSALS. Prior to discussing the budget, the Duma considered 10 draft tax bills submitted by the government, ORT reported. The Duma voted to lift VAT from supplies for light and textile industries, and rejected the tax amnesty plan which had been promulgated in an 8 May presidential decree. The decree promised to lift penalties from firms which agreed to pay all their tax arrears by the end of 1996, but increased fines by 50% on those who did not. Deputies complained that the plan condoned tax arrears. -- Peter Rutland

LEBED VISITS STRATEGIC MISSILE FORCES COMMAND. Security Council Secretary Lebed on 12 October inspected Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) headquarters in Odinstovo, 35 km southwest of Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. Lebed complained about the government's "thoughtless" underfinancing of the service, and Russian TV (RTR) said RSVN officers had only recently received their August salaries. The network noted that a colonel in the elite rocket forces, which control some 60% of Russia's strategic nuclear warheads, currently makes 1.5 million rubles ($278) per month. -- Scott Parrish

RADICAL COMMUNISTS FORM NEW UNION. Several radical leftist groups have formed the Union of Communists and Socialists of Russia, NTV reported on 13 October. The founders include Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union, Aleksei Prigarin's Russian Communist Party, Anatolii Kryuchkov's Russian Party of Communists, Viktor Tyulkin's Russian Communist Workers' Party, and a breakaway faction from Viktor Anpilov's movement Workers' Russia, which split at its recent congress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 October 1996). The new union opposes the moderate stance of Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). The KPRF is much larger than all the groups in the new union combined. -- Laura Belin

RUSSIAN DUMA DELEGATION IN NORTH CAUCASUS. A Russian State Duma delegation headed by deputy chairman Mikhail Gutseriev traveled on 13 October to the North Ossetiyan capital, Vladikavkaz, where it held talks with the heads of local religious and cultural organizations on the North-Ossetiyan-Ingush conflict, Radio Rossii reported. The delegation will meet with the Ingush leadership in Nazran on 14 October and may subsequently visit Chechnya for talks with acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's group. Also on 13 October, Radio Mayak quoted the Ingush leadership as claiming that illegal North Ossetiyan armed formations are again trying to prevent the return of ethnic Ingush to the disputed Prigorodnyi Raion. -- Liz Fuller

PROSPECTS FOR CHECHEN-RUSSIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev is prepared to conclude an agreement on economic cooperation with the Russian Federation providing that such an agreement does not define Chechnya as a subject of the federation, Ekho Moskvy and ORT reported on 13 October, quoting Chechen Foreign Minister Ruslan Chimaev. The agreement would create a unified banking system, a mutual payments system, and unified control over the transportation of oil. On 12 October, NTV reported that the Russian parliament is drafting legislation on a free trade zone in Chechnya. The first session of the Russian-Chechen joint commission did not take place as scheduled on 12 October. The commander of Russian federal forces in Chechnya called on Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov to strengthen discipline among his men after Chechen fighters on 13 October attempted to prevent the withdrawal of Russian Interior Ministry forces from the village of Alkhan-Yurt, Radio Mayak reported. -- Liz Fuller

COSTS OF CHECHEN WAR. In an interview published in Izvestiya on 12 October, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said that the war has caused $140 billion worth of damage to the republic. Some 70% of schools, hospitals, and kindergartens have been damaged, more than 500,000 people are homeless, and an additional 400,000 have left the republic. He claimed that there were 100,000 dead and 45,000 wounded. Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov has put the total death toll at 18,000. Also on 12 October, the military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda published the names of all 2,941 Russian army soldiers who died in Chechnya--which does not include Interior Ministry losses. Security Council Secretary Lebed has put total Russian military losses at 3,826 dead and 1,906 missing, AFP reported on 12 October. -- Peter Rutland

YAMAL-NENETS GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION PROCEEDS DESPITE PRESIDENTIAL DECREE. Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Governor Yurii Neelov has been re- elected, according to preliminary results from ITAR-TASS. Neelov won about 65% of the vote, while his closest competitor, Vladimir Goman, a member of the Russian Regions faction of the State Duma, won about 20%. The okrug election was held in violation of a presidential decree ordering Yamal-Nenets, which produces almost all of Russia's natural gas, to hold its gubernatorial election on the same day as Tyumen Oblast, of which it is a part. Neelov said that the okrug would allow voting for the Tyumen Oblast governor to be held on its territory only after signing a power-sharing agreement with the oblast, a development that is unlikely to take place before the 27 October Tyumen election. -- Robert Orttung

CHEREPKOV REORGANIZES VLADIVOSTOK ADMINISTRATION. Newly-reinstated Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov has disbanded the city's raion structure and subordinated the provision of all municipal services directly to himself, ORT reported on 12 October. He had to take this measure because all of the raion's leaders, appointed by Konstantin Tolstoshein while Cherepkov was illegally out of power, refused to come to Cherepkov's meetings on preparations for winter. Cherepkov is working to arrange the city's energy supply, partly through barter deals for fish. -- Robert Orttung

FOREIGN MINISTRY REPUDIATES LEBED LETTER ON SEVASTOPOL. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kyrlov declared on 11 October that Russia recognizes Sevastopol as a Ukrainian city and has no intention of raising the issue with Kyiv, Russian and Western agencies reported. Kyrlov's remarks came in response to an open letter from Security Council Secretary Lebed published in the Black Sea Fleet newspaper Flag rodiny on 5 October and republished in the Crimean paper Krymskaya pravda on 10 October. Entitled "Sevastopol is a Russian City," the letter argued that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's 1954 transfer of Crimea from Russian to Ukrainian jurisdiction did not affect Sevastopol, which "has not lost its Russian status de jure." Lebed's press service, which often quarrels with the media, has not yet commented on the letter's authenticity. -- Scott Parrish

SCIENTISTS END HUNGER STRIKE. The geophysicist and academician Vladimir Strakhov announced that he and fellow scientist Igor Naumenko-Bondarenko have ended the hunger strike they began 12 days earlier, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 11 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 October 1996). Strakhov said the authorities appeared to be taking positive steps to address the problem of government debts to the scientific sector. He praised President Yeltsin's 11 October address on Radio Rossii, which announced the creation of an emergency commission to improve tax collection. In that radio address, Yeltsin mentioned Strakhov's hunger strike and blamed tax evaders for "condemning pensioners, the army, science, and culture to a semi-destitute existence." -- Laura Belin

MORE ON ARMY FINANCING. Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits promised that the wage arrears to the armed forces, which total 5 trillion rubles ($920 million), will be reduced to one month's wage debt by the end of the year, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 October. The wage debt for July will be paid off by the end of October. However, the money will have to be taken from other items in the defense ministry budget, as Livshits said no more money will be forthcoming from the finance ministry. Livshits also proposed raising VAT from 20% to 22% next year in order to raise an additional 12 trilion rubles for the armed forces. So far this year the defense ministry has received only 54% of the funds allotted to it in the budget, the interior ministry 62%, and the Border Guards Service 51%, according to the head of the latter, Gen Andrei Nikolaev, speaking to ITAR-TASS on 12 October. -- Peter Rutland



To: OMRI-L
From: omripub@omri.cz (OMRI Publications) Subject: OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 199, 14 Oct 96 Cc:
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OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 199, Part I, 14 October 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT LIFTS A BAN ON RALLIES AND DEMONSTRATIONS. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan lifted a ban on rallies and demonstrations imposed on 26 September arguing that there is no longer any "direct threat to the constitutional order," Russian and Western media reported on 11 October. The government withdrew its last troops from the capital Yerevan on 11 October. Shavarsh Kocharyan and Samvel Shahinyan, two prominent opposition members, were released from prison on 9 October. Meanwhile, former National Security Minister David Shahnazaryan called for the dismissal of the prime minister and the defense and interior ministers claiming that they are to blame for the tense situation in the country, Radio Rossii reported on 12 October. Hanneke Gelderblom-Iankhout, a member of a Council of Europe delegation visiting Armenia, told AFP that the election was not democratic. The delegation will release its report in November. -- Emil Danielyan

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER IN BAKU. During a one-day visit to Baku on 11 October, French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette met with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev and Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. The talks focused on France's participation in the Nagorno-Karabakh mediation process, the prospects for French participation in the exploitation of Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea oil deposits, Aliev's scheduled January visit to France, and French support for Azerbaijan's cooperation with the EU and the Council of Europe. -- Liz Fuller

RUSTAVI-2 HASSLED OVER COVERAGE OF ADZHAR ELECTION. Gia Bokeria, chairman of the private Georgian TV company Rustavi-2 which recently had its license revoked by the Georgian government, said on 9 October that security officials confiscated and erased his cameramen's footage of voting during the 22 September parliamentary election in Adzharia, BGI reported. The coalition between Adzhar leader Aslan Abashidze's All- Georgian Union of Revival and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's Union of Citizens of Georgia won an overwhelming majority in the vote. -- Liz Fuller

COMMUNISTS OF KAZAKSTAN GIVE UP IDEA OF REVIVING USSR. Members of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan on 13 October voted to remove a clause from their charter that called for a proletarian dictatorship and the reformation of the USSR, Ekho Moskvy reported. More than 80 delegates form around Kazakstan attended the 24th congress in Almaty, despite the fact that the party is in the process of being re-registered after it was suspended in March by the Kazakstani Justice Ministry. The delegates also moved to create a nationwide Komsomol organization which will hold a congress in early 1997. One party leader said the party has 50,000 members registered in the party, most of them elderly. -- Bruce Pannier

A RUSSIAN ASSESSMENT OF UZBEKISTAN'S AFGHAN RESPONSE. Uzbekistan has moved some of its elite troops to Termez, the military garrison on the border, and has asked its officers not on active duty to reregister, NTV reported on 11 October. According to the report, there is no basis for Uzbekistan's fear of a Taliban invasion, but a defeat of General Rashid Dostum's forces in northern Afghanistan could lead to "crowds of [ethnic Uzbek] refugees" flooding into Uzbekistan. Also, "a victory by the fundamentalists" would have a negative influence on the situation in the Fergana Valley where the Uzbek government has been fighting to keep organized Islamic groups under control. -- Bruce Pannier

TURKMEN-IRANIAN GAS PIPELINE. A ceremony was held on 10 October to mark the start of construction work on the 200 km-long Korpedzhe-Kordkuy gas pipeline, IRNA and Russian media reported the next day. The pipeline deal, announced last year, has an estimated value of $190 million and will be capable of moving 11 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. It is being built by Iran's state gas company. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 199, Part II, 14 October 1996

This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html



To: OMRI-L
From: omripub@omri.cz (OMRI Publications) Subject: OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 199, 14 Oct 96 Cc:
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OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 199, Part I, 14 October 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE REACTS TO LEBED'S CLAIMS ON SEVASTOPOL. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry criticized a recent open letter from Aleksandr Lebed published by the Black Sea Fleet's Flag rodiny in which the Russian Security Council secretary claimed Sevastopol had never been officially handed over to Ukraine and never legally lost its Russian status, Western and Ukrainian media reported. Lebed said Russia should take a stronger position on the Black Sea Fleet and over Sevastopol as its base. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko said Kyiv will be guided by a statement by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergii Krylov, who refuted Lebed, reassuring Kyiv that Sevastopol is legally a Ukrainian city and that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had not raised any territorial claims. Udovenko warned that Lebed's letter could have a negative effect on negotiations over the division of the Black Sea Fleet. -- Ustina Markus

CHIEF OF UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S STAFF ACCUSED OF ABUSING AUTHORITY. The Ukrainian parliament's Commission against Corruption and Organized Crime called on President Leonid Kuchma to fire his chief of staff, claiming they had found evidence that Dmytro Tabachnyk used his position to illegally obtain an apartment in central Kyiv, UNIAN reported on 9 October. The commission said Tabachnyk should be prosecuted, evicted, and barred from holding public office. Commission members admonished law-enforcement authorities for their poor record in prosecuting corrupt officials. They said that according to Justice Ministry statistics, only 560 out of 2,650 officials found guilty of abusing power in 1991-1995 were sent to prison and only 12% were barred from holding public office. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CRIMEA CHALLENGES DISBANDING OF REGIONAL PARTIES. The Crimean parliament rejected a recent order by the Ukrainian Justice Ministry canceling the registration of Crimean regional parties, Ukrainian media reported on 10 October. The parliament adopted a resolution saying the order does not comply with Ukrainian legislation and expressing a lack of confidence in the head of the ministry's main directorate in Crimea. Meanwhile, a group calling itself the Popular Opposition Union of Crimea was set up on 11 October, UNIAN reported. Its leader, Crimean Communist Party leader Leonid Hrach, called for early elections in Crimea, claiming tension there is so great it could lead to "another Chechnya." -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT RESCINDS COMPROMISE OFFER. Following the Belarusian parliament's rejection of his favored date for a referendum on a new constitution, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka withdrew his proposed compromises to his draft constitution, saying it was no longer possible to compromise with the legislature, Russian and Belarusian agencies reported on 11 November. In a secret ballot, a slim majority of 88 deputies opposed changing the date of the referendum to 7 November from 24 November, the date previously set by parliament, while 84 voted in favor of the change. In a bid for support, Lukashenka claimed Russian President Boris Yeltsin supported his plans to hold a constitutional referendum and planned to meet with him on 16 October. Constitutional Court Chief Justice Valeryi Tsikhinya said Lukashenka's constitution would "castrate parliament and make the Constitutional Court a puppet." -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC DEFENSE MINISTERS SIGN AGREEMENTS ON JOINT DEFENSE. Joint declarations on the development of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion after 1 October 1997, setting up a joint naval unit, and creating a unified system of control over their air space were signed by the three Baltic defense ministers in Riga on 12 October, BNS reported. Andrus Oovel (Estonia), Andrejs Krastins (Latvia), and Linas Linkevicius (Lithuania) also agreed to form a joint task force to bring military equipment in line with NATO standards. -- Saulius Girnius

FORMER LITHUANIAN PREMIER ARRAIGNED FOR ABUSE OF POWER. Former prime minister Adolfas Slezevicius has been arraigned on criminal charges of abuse of power, Senior Prosecutor Algimantas Kliunka said on 10 October. Slezevicius was charged in connection with receiving almost double the normal interest for his deposits in the Joint-Stock Innovation Bank, which he withdrew in December 1995, days before the government suspended the bank's activities. Kliunka said Slezevicius would not be arrested since there are no grounds to believe he would hide, evade investigations, or impede the progress of the trial, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH UNION OF LABOR PARTY REJECTS EX-COMMUNISTS. The Union of Labor party (UP) rejected an electoral alliance with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) at its congress outside of Warsaw on 12 October, Rzeczpospolita reported on 14 October. The SLD, a coalition led by the descendent of the communist party, has been seeking an agreement with the UP before the 1997 parliamentary elections. In an appeal to the UP congress, SLD leaders emphasized the two parties' social-democratic orientation and argued that Poland is threatened by "populist economic nationalism, fed by rightist rhetoric." The SLD is also seeking to counter an accord with right-of-center groups apparently being sought by its junior partner in the governing coalition, the Polish Peasants Party. -- Ben Slay

CZECH PARLIAMENT BLOCKS CHURCH PROPERTY RESTITUTION. Following two unsuccessful attempts in the summer, opposition parties in parliament managed to pass a resolution on 11 October directing the government to stop returning property to churches until the parliament passes an appropriate law, Czech media reported. The government had planned to bypass parliament in returning property nationalized by the communists. At the end of September, the government decided to return a number of buildings to churches but left out forests, fearing a clash with the parliament. After the vote, government officials indicated the government will not respect the resolution and will go ahead with returning the buildings. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PREMIER: CZECH-SLOVAK DEBTS SHOULD BE FORGOTTEN. Reacting to reports that Slovakia has failed to make payments on an 11 billion crown debt to the Czech Republic, Vladimir Meciar told Slovak radio on 12 October that his government and the Slovak National Bank are not "in a state of war with anyone." The Slovak prime minister said the reopening of the debt issue by Czechs is "an effort to make Slovakia responsible for the Czech Republic's serious economic problems." Meciar said mutual Czech-Slovak debts originating in the times of the Czechoslovak federation should be forgotten. "Let's agree that we do not owe each other anything and let's start with a clean slate," he said. -- Jiri Pehe

ACCUSATIONS EXCHANGED OVER TRADE-UNION CONFEDERATION. Following the annual congress of the Confederation of Trade Unions in Slovakia on 12- 13 October, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar accused the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) of politicizing the confederation and pursuing its political aims through the confederation, Slovak press reported on 14 October. Narodna obroda quoted SDL Deputy Chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova responding: "We have not forgotten the documents of [Meciar's] Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), which state that the HZDS will create its own unions if it cannot gain power in the confederation." The congress elected Ivan Saktor, described by Narodna obroda as "a pragmatic technocrat," as the confederation's new leader. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL UPDATE. Recently dismissed Industry and Trade Minister Tamas Suchman, speaking publicly on the subject for the first time, accepted political responsibility for the privatization scandal that led to his sacking but denied involvement in the affair, Hungarian media reported on 11 October. Marta Tocsik, the consultant at the center of the scandal, failed to attend the hearings for the second day in a row, pleading illness. On 12 October, press reports revealed that five other parties -- including a department head at a major Hungarian bank -- received part of the 804 million forint ($5.2 million) commission paid to Tocsik by the state privatization agency. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



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From: omripub@omri.cz (OMRI Publications) Subject: OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 199, 14 Oct 96 Cc:
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OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 199, Part I, 14 October 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

Southeastern Europe

SERBS CONTINUE BOYCOTT OF JOINT BOSNIAN INSTITUTIONS. The Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, has again refused to sign a loyalty oath to Bosnia-Herzegovina, AFP reported on 12 October. Krajisnik said he objected to any ceremonies taking place in a Sarajevo building associated with the Croat-Muslim federation and that he would only sign on Bosnian Serb territory. He also refused to meet German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel together with the Croatian and Muslim members of the presidency and met the German guest separately instead. Krajisnik, who had earlier declined to come to Sarajevo out of alleged fears for his safety, arrived there on 12 October to talk with Kinkel and U.S. special envoy John Kornblum. The Serbs have engaged in a post- election war of nerves since the first and only meeting of the presidency on 30 September. Krajisnik says he is defending Serbian interests, Nasa Borba reported on 14 October. -- Patrick Moore

STANDOFF BETWEEN MUSLIMS, BOSNIAN SERB POLICE. Another war of nerves is continuing, namely that between the Republika Srpska police and the Muslim refugees who have returned to their homes on Bosnian Serb territory. The RS authorities released three Muslims who had been jailed in Zvornik, Dnevni avaz wrote on 14 October. The police in Jusici over the weekend maintained a tense standoff with Russian IFOR troops -- whom they had threatened on 11 October -- as well as the villagers. Early in the morning of 12 October, an explosion destroyed a Muslim home on the outskirts of the nearby village of Mahala, in an area known as Hajvazi. The Muslims are asserting their right to go back to their homes in keeping with the Dayton agreement, much to the consternation of IFOR and the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore

OSCE MONITOR SAYS BOSNIA NOT READY FOR LOCAL ELECTIONS. Ed van Thijn, the chief OSCE monitor during Bosnia's September general elections, said he will not accept the same job in November municipal elections because Bosnia is not ready for them, AFP reported on 13 October. Van Thijn said municipal voting should be postponed until spring because voter lists are not reliable and refugees still would not be able to vote where they wish to in November. Municipal elections were postponed from September to November after it was found that Bosnian Serbs were tampering with voter registration. On 12 October, OSCE spokesman David Foley said delaying Bosnia's municipal elections would undermine the peace process. AFP on 11 October quoted Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic threatening: "If the process of forced and illegal repopulation of the Republika Srpska continues, conditions for [holding] local elections will not be reached." -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN NATIONALIST ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and an accused war criminal, has emerged the strongest advocate of Serbian state expansion ahead of the 3 November federal Yugoslav and Montenegrin republican elections. On the campaign trail in Montenegro on 13 October, Seselj called for "the creation of a unified Serb state [and] the liberation of Serb Krajina, Serb Dubrovnik, Serb Bosnia, and Serb Macedonia," AFP, citing local press, reported. At a rally in Niksic, Seselj said the eventual creation of a greater Serbia would depend heavily on Russia's support, predicting that "Great Russia will lift herself up, she will thunder across Europe and the world, she will return to the Balkans, and when she does, day will dawn for the Serbs." Meanwhile, the independent daily Nasa Borba carried poll results showing the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, along with its potential coalition partners the United Yugoslav Left and New Democracy, with a 23.7% share of voter support to the Zajedno opposition coalition's 23.9%. According to the 20-26 September poll, 29.7% of voters remain undecided and 14% do not expect to vote. -- Stan Markotich

ALBANIAN GRAVES DESECRATED IN KOSOVO. About 62 Kosovar Albanian graves were desecrated on 11-12 October in five mosques in Pec, AFP reported. Unidentified vandals also reportedly set a fire that destroyed parts of the Hamam Mosque's interior. In other news, Lenny Fischer, chairman of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, said respect for human rights and a political solution for Kosovo are preconditions for economic and political cooperation between Belgrade and the EU, BETA reported on 13 October. -- Dukagjin Gorani

CROATIAN AUTHORITIES CLOSE EAST SLAVONIAN MARKET. Local authorities in the Osijek-Baranja district ruled on 10 October to close down the market on the border between Serb-held eastern Slavonia and Croatian-controlled territory, Vecernji List reported. On 12 October, Croatian authorities began turning back Croats on their way to the market, claiming it was for health and hygiene reasons, AFP reported. Jacques Klein, head of the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), supported the market as a place where confidence between Serbs and Croats was being rebuilt. UNTAES spokesman Douglas Coffman said the market helped over 45,000 people from both sides to reestablish contacts broken by the war, and that the UN "deeply deplored" the decision to close it down. Meanwhile, UN special human-rights reporter Elisabeth Rehn had talks with Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic on the human-rights situation in the country, AFP reported. Rehn said Croatia had made "positive steps." -- Daria Sito Sucic

DIVERGING POLLS ON ROMANIAN ELECTIONS. Emil Constantinescu, candidate of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), for the first time placed first in a poll measuring support for presidential candidates, Romanian media reported on 12 October. The poll, conducted by the Department of Statistics of the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies on behalf of the private Antena 1 TV station, puts Constantinescu ahead with 31.6% of the electorate's backing to Social Democratic Union (USD) candidate Petre Roman's 28.2% and incumbent President Ion Iliescu's 24.2%. The poll shows the CDR favored by 39.9% in parliamentary elections, the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) by 20.5%, and the USD by 19.6%. However, another poll conducted by IMAS shows Iliescu ahead in the presidential race with 33%, followed by Constantinescu (27%) and Roman (24%), and gives the CDR only a narrow lead in parliamentary voting (30% to the PDSR's 29%, and the USD with 21%). Media reports suggested the former poll's sampling techniques were questionable. Both elections are scheduled for 3 November. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIA AND NATO. Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on 14 October continued the Romanian campaign to convince NATO states that his country should be among the first admitted to NATO. Melescanu is traveling for this purpose to London and Paris, meeting British Foreign Minister Malkom Rifkind and the French Minister for European Affairs, Michel Barnier. On 11 October in Brussels, he met NATO General Secretary Javier Solana, to whom he conveyed a message from President Ion Iliescu, and also conducted talks with his Belgian counterpart, Erik Derycke. Also on 14 October, a new NATO exercise within the Partnership for Peace Program is starting at Bucharest's Otopeni airport. Four NATO countries (the United States, Turkey, Greece, and Italy) as well as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Moldova are participating in the exercise. Hungary, Slovenia, and Macedonia are sending observers, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Michael Shafir

SNEGUR ON RELATIONS WITH DNIESTER SEPARATISTS. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur told the Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta that separatist leaders in Tiraspol believe they are backed by Russia as well as by "some Moldovan leaders," Radio Bucharest reported on 13 October. Snegur said no compromise can be reached on the breakaway region's status because the separatists constantly raise new demands and Chisinau would never recognize the region as enjoying an independent international status. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS DEBATE NATIONAL SECURITY. The major candidates for the 27 October presidential elections held their first debate on state TV and radio on 10 October. Petar Stoyanov of the united opposition and the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Culture Minister Ivan Marazov and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, discussed national security issues. Stoyanov said Bulgaria should join NATO to secure its security interests. Marazov and Bokova said the parliament or the people should decide on that question. Standart reported on 12 October that Stoyanov's appearance met with 28% approval, against 14% for Marazov, while the BSP's Duma claimed in a headline that "Ivan and Irina razed their opponent to the ground." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN TOP OFFICIALS' SALARIES FROZEN. Retroactively from 1 October, salaries of parliamentary deputies, ministers, National Bank directors, and other high officials in the budgetary sphere will no longer be adjusted to compensate for inflation, parliament decided on 11 October. Bulgarian Socialist Party faction leader Krasimir Premyanov said it is intolerable that politicians' salaries grow in times of crisis. The opposition dismissed his proposal as a "cheap populist move" ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. Freezing deputies' stipends had been debated since May. The basic deputy stipend is three times the average salary, or 32,184 leva ($150) at present. -- Maria Koinova

ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE. A Tirana court rejected an appeal by the Center Pole coalition to reduce the minimum age for election monitors to 18, Albania reported on 12 October. The Center Pole had criticized a ruling that Albanian monitors had to be at least 25 years old, while for foreign monitors the minimum age is 22. Meanwhile, an official of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said that he expects a green light for an ODIHR monitoring mission in few days, Dita Informacion reported on 13 October. The Albanian opposition had demanded the participation of the ODIHR, arguing that it had more expertise than the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Originally only the assembly was scheduled to send a delegation. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

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Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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