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Newsline - October 29, 1996


YELTSIN CANCELS ALL MEETINGS.
In order to undergo a series of tests in preparation for his heart surgery, President Boris Yeltsin has canceled all meetings for the coming week, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 29 October, citing presidential spokesman Sergeii Yastrzhembskii. A date has not yet been set for the surgery, though Sergei Mironov, one of Yeltsin's main doctors, told Komsomolskaya pravda on 29 October that it could be anytime from mid-November to early-December. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN ORDERS DOCUMENTS PREPARED FOR KORZHAKOV DISMISSAL.
President Yeltsin instructed the head of the Federal Protection Service to prepare documents for the dismissal from the armed forces of former top presidential bodyguard Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Korzhakov, Russian and Western media reported on 28 October. According to spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Korzhakov slandered the president and his family and disclosed confidential information he acquired as Yeltsin's bodyguard. Korzhakov has recently threatened to release compromising material on his opponents and has accused Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais of seizing power with the help of Yeltsin's daughter. Citing military legal experts, Izvestiya reported on 29 October that stripping Korzhakov of his military rank in the security service "will not be easy." -- Laura Belin

KORZHAKOV KEEPS UP ATTACK.
In an interview published in the German weekly Der Spiegel on 28 October, Korzhakov repeated his allegations that Yeltsin's doctors warned as early as May that the president should not work more than a few hours each day and might not survive the presidential campaign, Reuters reported. He also accused the president's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, of controlling the flow of information to the president. Dyachenko reportedly advised her father to fire Korzhakov. -- Laura Belin

PREMIER MAKES UNUSUAL TV APPEARANCE.
Viktor Chernomyrdin discussed his personal life in an NTV interview on 28 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The usually dour prime minister was shown relaxing with his family and driving his car, Reuters reported. The prime minister played a Russian folk song on the accordion and said he "noticed beautiful women" but lacked time for anything else. The robust Chernomyrdin seems to be presenting a new side of himself to Russian voters as Yeltsin's ability to carry out his duties remains uncertain. -- Robert Orttung

CHUBAIS CALLS FOR DISCIPLINE.
Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais called for the establishment of a "dictatorship inside the government" to facilitate democracy in society, Radio Mayak reported on 27 October. Chubais claimed that Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed was fired because he had spoken out about disagreements within Russia's leadership, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. On 26 October, Chubais tried to show solidarity with his former foe, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, a crucial member of Yeltsin's team, by jointly attending a ceremony marking the construction of a new advanced submarine in Severodvinsk, but neither could land at the airport due to heavy fog, Izvestiya reported on 29 October. -- Robert Orttung

RYBKIN MEETS CHECHEN LEADERS . . .
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin met acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 27 October in Nazran, Ingushetiya and held "fruitful" talks on the withdrawal of the remaining Russian forces from Chechnya and an exchange of prisoners, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rybkin also gave the Chechens draft Duma decrees on conditions for an amnesty for Chechen fighters and for the creation of a special economic zone in Chechnya, according to ITAR-TASS. After returning to Moscow on 28 October and discussing the Chechen situation with Viktor Chernomyrdin, Rybkin stated that elections could be held in Chechnya in January 1997 only if the demilitarization process is completed. -- Liz Fuller

. . . WHILE CHECHEN CONGRESS GATHERS.
1,500 delegates gathered in Grozny for the All-National Congress of the Chechen People on 27 October to discuss the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for January 1997, but then adjourned to Urus Martan after a bomb scare. Zelimkhan Yandarbiev told delegates that Chechnya's independence is non-negotiable, AFP reported. Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma expressed concern on 25 October at the ongoing violations of the Chechen demilitarization agreements by illegal armed groups and at the failure to create a Chechen coalition government representing all political factions, NTV reported. Deputy Prime Minister Ruslan Khutaev, however, told Radio Rossii that his talks on the coalition government with Rybkin on 25 October "reached complete agreement." -- Liz Fuller

DUMA BLASTS NATO ENLARGEMENT.
The State Duma adopted a resolution by a 307-0 vote warning that enlargement of NATO could trigger a "serious crisis" resembling the dispute between NATO and the Warsaw Pact over intermediate-range nuclear missiles in the 1980s, Russian and Western agencies reported on 25 October. The resolution argued that "competition" between prospective NATO members in Eastern Europe could have unpredictable consequences, and claimed that Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia would face "catastrophic" military expenditures of some $100 billion by 2010 if they join the alliance. -- Scott Parrish

GENERAL STAFF OFFICERS PROTEST WAGE ARREARS.
Although the mass action threatened in an anonymous 17 October protest letter did not materialize (see OMRI Daily Digest , 18 October 1996), some 30 senior officers protested wage arrears in the parking lot of the General Staff building in Moscow, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 26 October. The paper said the Defense Ministry now owes 25 trillion rubles ($4.6 billion) in back wages, while ITAR-TASS reported that payment of August salaries began last week. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov renewed on 25 October his warnings that these financial problems could lead to "uncontrollable developments." He said the military needs an extra 20 trillion rubles for 1996, and that the latest draft 1997 budget was insufficient. -- Scott Parrish

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONFIRMS PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE.
The Constitutional Court ruled on 28 October that if a criminal case is closed before going to court, the accused cannot be presumed guilty, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, criminal proceedings cannot be terminated at the investigation stage without the consent of a defendant, who has the right to go to court to vindicate himself if he so desires. Formerly, investigators and procurators had the right to close a criminal case because of "a change in situation," leaving the guilt of the accused an open question. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

THE PERILS OF DOING BUSINESS IN CHINA . . .
Two Russian officials, who were detained in China for seven months after a business row, were released on 29 October following an appeal by Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev, ITAR-TASS reported. The two men, Vasilii Chalikov and Aleksander Silchenko, had traveled to Weifang, Shandong province, to try to regain a $1.3 million debt owed to a joint venture set up by Irkutsk Oblast to import food and clothing. Chalikov is the director of the firm and Silchenko is deputy governor of Irkutsk. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AND RUSSIA.
Vladimir Strelikov, the deputy president of Russia's Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was shot several times on 28 October by assassins dressed as police who flagged down his car near his home in Moscow, AFP reported. His driver was shot dead. Izvestiya reported on 15 October that there have been 450 contract murders in Russia this year. -- Peter Rutland

TWO INCUMBENTS REELECTED . .
Incumbent governors Ravil Geniatulin of Chita Oblast and Aleksandr Filippenko of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug were reelected, receiving 31% and 72% of the vote, respectively, according to preliminary results of the 27 October elections, Russian TV (RTR) and NTV reported the next day. A runoff will be held in Kaluga Oblast and Stavropol Krai where no candidate received a majority. In both regions, the opposition candidates, Kaluga Oblast Legislative Assembly Chairman Valerii Sudarenkov and former Stavropol Komsomol leader Aleksandr Chernogorov, each received about 47%, leading the incumbents, Oleg Savchenko and Petr Marchenko, by approximately 10%. No governor was elected in Agin Buryat Autonomous Okrug since both candidates, the incumbent Bolot Ayushev and his rival Yurii Donkov, failed to win a majority, taking about 49% each. Under the okrug law, the gubernatorial race will have to be repeated with new candidates. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

. . . WHILE OPPOSITION CANDIDATE SCORES CONTROVERSIAL VICTORY.
Despite turnout lower than required by the krai's electoral law (43% instead of 50%), the Krasnodar Krai legislature has ruled that Nikolai Kondratenko was elected governor in the 27 October election, NTV reported the next day. Kondratenko, supported by the united opposition, outpolled the incumbent Nikolai Yegorov by 57% to about 25%. Constitutional Court member Valerii Zorkin said the decision by the krai legislature on elections was illegal and that the voting will be ruled invalid. Yeltsin reappointed Yegorov as the krai's governor after replacing him with Anatolii Chubais as presidential chief of staff. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

KAMAZ TAKEN OFF BANKRUPTCY LIST.
The emergency tax commission (VChK) may reconsider its decision to start a bankruptcy procedure against the Tatarstan truck manufacturer KamAZ, Kommersant-Daily reported on 29 October. The head of the Federal Bankruptcy Administration, Petr Mostovoi, said that the company has submitted documents proving that KamAZ had been granted a tax deferment (as an investment credit) in May 1996. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, who has strongly criticized the threat to bankrupt KamAZ and the oil company Tatneft, met with Viktor Chernomyrdin on 28 October, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Natalia Gurushina



MASS RALLY IN YEREVAN.
The opposition National Accord bloc (AHD) held a rally in Yerevan on 25 October, the first since the government lifted a ban on public gatherings in the capital, Armenian and Western media reported on 25 October. An estimated 40,000 people participated in the sanctioned demonstration. Vazgen Manukyan, the defeated presidential candidate and leader of the opposition, reiterated charges that the 22 September election results were falsified and said the opposition "will continue to struggle to replace the current government" through legal means. Manukyan called for a boycott of the local elections scheduled for 10 November. -- Emil Danielyan

DIVERGING VIEWS OF GEORGIAN ECONOMY.
Economics Minister Lado Papava predicted on 27 October that the country would experience an "economic miracle," with an annual increase in output of over 12%, ITAR-TASS reported. Papava added that some 110,000 jobs had been created since the beginning of 1996 and that it was hoped that unemployment would be reduced to 5-6% by 2000. The leader of the United Georgian Communist Party, Panteleimon Giorgadze, told delegates to the party's fourth congress on 27 October that the economic situation is catastrophic and that some 775,000 people are unemployed (from a population of some 5 million), according to BGI and ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SLAMS PLANNED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned as "a challenge to the international community" the decision by the parliament of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh to hold presidential elections on 24 November while "up to one third of the enclave's population are living as refugees beyond its borders", Radio Mayak reported on 26 October quoting ITAR-TASS. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan discussed the Karabakh peace process during the Black Sea Economic Cooperation heads of state summit in Moscow on 25 October. A further round of talks on the Karabakh conflict under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk group opened in Moscow on 28 October. -- Liz Fuller

TURKMENISTAN CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE.
A military parade highlighted the 27 October ceremonies commemorating the fifth anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence, Russian and Turkmen sources reported. According to ITAR-TASS, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov met with Russian and Iranian officials in the days leading up to the celebration, concluding a series of bilateral accords with both states that underscore the country's "permanent neutrality." The Turkmen Press Agency reported on 23 October that in the week before the anniversary a monument to Gurbansoltan-edzhe, Niyazov's mother, was unveiled in Chardjui. -- Roger Kangas

POLITICAL HEADS ROLL IN UZBEKISTAN.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov dismissed the Hokim (Governor) of Syrdarya region on 28 October, Uzbek TV reported. Ghulomqodir Khasanov was officially relieved of his duties because of his failure to meet grain and cotton harvest targets. He will be replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Utkam Ismailov. Karimov dismissed the Hokim of Jizzak region, Alisher Toshkenboev, on 25 October for the same reason. The firings follow a pattern of Hokim replacements that began after last fall's poor grain harvest. -- Roger Kangas

TAJIK POLICEMEN TAKEN HOSTAGE.
Forces of Tajik opposition field commander Mullo Abdullo surprised two busloads of Tajik policemen on 24 October taking all 37 of them hostage near the town of Komsomolabad, Russian and Western sources reported. The captors demand the dismantling of all checkpoints along roads in the Karateginskaya valley because, according to the opposition, they are a violation of the truce signed by opposition and government commanders on 17 September. -- Bruce Pannier

PAKISTANI PRESIDENT IN KYRGYZSTAN, KAZAKSTAN.
Pakistani President Farooq Leghari made a three-day stop in Kyrgyzstan to hold talks with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, RFE/RL reported. During the 25-27 October visit agreements were signed on cooperation between interior ministries and fighting drug trafficking. Leghari left on 27 October for the Kazakstani capital Almaty to meet President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The two presidents discussed Afghanistan but found little common ground. Leghari did find Nazarbayev supportive on the issue of Kashmir. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov



UKRAINE APPOINTS NEW NAVAL COMMANDER.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 28 October appointed Rear Admiral Mykhailo Yezhel as commander of Ukraine's navy and deputy Defense Minister, and Rear Admiral Viktor Fomin as first deputy navy commander, UNIAN reported. Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk denied that former navy commander Volodymyr Bezkorovainy was being cast off politically. He said Bezkorovainy was offered the job of defense minister's aide in charge of Black Sea Fleet talks. Russian Public Television reported Kuchma denied the command changes were a concession to Russia. He also confirmed that the lease offered to the Russian Black Sea Fleet for Sevastopol would be long enough to enable Moscow to build a new base over that period. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the term of the lease would be 20 years. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE VOWS TO SHUT DOWN ONE OF THE CHORNOBYL REACTORS.
Reactor No. 1 will be stopped completely on 30 November, international news agencies reported on 28 October. Ukraine had promised to close the reactor in November, but Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Yurii Kostenko said two weeks ago that stopping it as planned could generate problems. The decision is in line with the schedule, according to which Kyiv has agreed to shut down Chornobyl by 2000 in return for $3 billion in grants and funding from the Group of Seven. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is expected to grant money to build two reactors in western Ukraine to replace electricity lost by Chornobyl's closure. The United States would give $27 million to strengthen the concrete sarcophagus over Reactor No. 4, that was destroyed in 1986, Kostenko said. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN NEWS.
In a published appeal to the people, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka insisted he would hold his constitutional referendum, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. The same day, he signed a decree on preparations for the referendum. The previous day, the Foreign Ministry announced it was unhappy with the European Parliament's resolution on the situation in Belarus. The European Parliament found the country's regime to be authoritarian. Belarus's Foreign Ministry responded that the country had been a "pioneer" in nuclear disarmament, and the European parliament's resolution was "incorrect, out of place, and regrettable." The resolution will hinder ratification of an agreement on partnership and cooperation between Belarus and the Council of Europe and also implementation of a trade accord. -- Ustina Markus

RUSSIAN STRATEGIC TROOPS ARE TO LEAVE BELARUS BY 1997.
Belarusian Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu denied any breach of accord on withdrawal of remaining Russian strategic troops, Belapan reported on 29 October. There are currently 18 ICBM Topol (SS-25) mobile systems with 18 warheads left on Belarusian territory. He said that under the agreement the troops were to leave by 31 December 1996, although several issues remain before the troops can leave. Meanwhile, an army truck crashed into a ditch 80 km east from Minsk on 28 October. Seven conscripts were killed and two were injured by the scattered timber, which the truck was transporting. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

ESTONIAN RULING COALITION NOT TO SPLIT.
After more than three and half hours of talks on 25 October, leaders of the Coalition Party and the Reform Party decided to continue the government coalition. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi said that the rift had been emotional, and that the decision to keep the coalition was made at the beginning of the meeting; the remaining time was spent on finding a compromise, BNS reported. Reform Party Chairman Siim Kallas said that the coalition's break up would have made it more difficult to reach an agreement with Russia. The two parties, however, have been unable to agree on cooperation in the recently elected Tallinn and Tartu city councils. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES SEIMAS SET NORTHERN SEA BORDER.
Algirdas Brazauskas on 25 October submitted to the parliament for "immediate discussion" a draft law unilaterally setting the sea border with Latvia, Radio Lithuania reported. His action was prompted by the Latvian parliament's ratification the previous day of an oil exploration license with two oil companies in sea territory claimed by both countries. The Seimas is expected to adopt the law at its next session on 5 November. The law will be in effect until a bilateral treaty on sea borders with Latvia is signed. -- Saulius Girnius

CZECH PREMIER'S HOLIDAY SPEECH PROMPTS CRITICISM.
Vaclav Klaus's speech made on October 28--commemorating the 78th anniversary of the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia--was criticized by Social Democratic party leader Milos Zeman as "preelection propaganda," Czech media reported. Klaus said mistakes were made during the reform process, but that there is no reason for the country to be swept by "a wave of negativism." Klaus warned against populist promises that, in his opinion, are being made by the opposition. Zeman said Klaus had "abused his post" to make a preelection speech. He said it is "disgusting" that Klaus used for his speech the holiday of the founding of the very same state "he helped to destroy." -- Jiri Pehe

CONGRESS OF HUNGARIAN CIVIC PARTY IN SLOVAKIA.
Laszlo Nagy was reelected chairman of the Hungarian Civic Party (MOS) at its congress, held on 27 October, Slovak press reported. The MOS is a member of the coalition of ethnic Hungarian parties in the Slovak parliament. Nagy told the congress that the government of Vladimir Meciar has introduced a parliamentary dictatorship in Slovakia, the daily SME reported. Nagy said that the southern part of Slovakia, where most Hungarians live, is a disaster compared to the other parts of the country. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARY'S RADICAL RIGHT-WING HOLDS DEMONSTRATION IN BUDAPEST.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators called for radical moves and unity among "national" forces at an anti-government rally outside parliament on 27 October, Hungarian media reported. The rally was organized by the far-right extra-parliamentary Hungarian Justice and Life Party. The crowd called for the resignation of top government politicians. Several foreigners were invited as guest speakers, among them Jean-Marie Le Pen, president of France's far-right National Front. Le Pen firmly rejected the idea of European unity. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



NATO TO TRY TO COUNTER BOSNIAN BOMBINGS, ARSON.
IFOR commander Adm. Joseph Lopez met on 26 October with the Bosnian Serb member of the collective presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik. On 28 October, Lopez also spoke to the Croatian representative Kresimir Zubak and with the Muslim Alija Izetbegovic, news agencies reported. The purpose of the discussions was to end a recent spate of attacks on buildings, which are apparently aimed at intimidating refugees from returning to areas from which they have been "ethnically cleansed." At issue especially were the systematic blasting of more than 90 Muslim homes and two mosques near Serb-held Prijedor, as well as the torching of 65 Serbian houses in Croat-held Drvar. The Dayton agreement guarantees refugees the right to go home, and since August, groups of Muslims have been trying to return to their villages just inside the Serbian side of the inter-entity frontier in northeast Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore

HAGUE BOSNIAN TRIBUNAL UNDER A CLOUD?
Dusan Tadic, a Bosnian Serb on trial in The Hague for war crimes, denied that he was ever in two of the three concentration camps where he is accused of abusing and murdering Muslim or Croatian prisoners, the VOA reported on 28 October. The case of Tadic was weakened considerably on 25 October when the judge told the tribunal to disregard testimony from the Serb who had been the main witness against the indicted man. Dragan Opacic admitted that he had been forced into taking the stand against Tadic by the Bosnian authorities, who coached him daily on how to testify. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN UPDATE.
IFOR opened a rebuilt railway bridge at Bosansko Petrovo Selo near Doboj on 28 October to reconnect Bosnian lines with Western Europe, the VOA reported. It is now possible to travel by train from Zagreb to Belgrade, too, Onasa added. Meanwhile at Ploce on the Adriatic, the U.S. ship bringing arms for the Bosnian army has left its moorings and headed out to sea to await further instructions from Washington, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje wrote on 28 October. The Americans are making delivery contingent on the sacking of a top Bosnian Muslim commander, whom Washington feels is the main obstacle to integrating the Muslim and Croat armies (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 October 1996). -- Patrick Moore

SERBS THREATEN TO BAN FEDERATION PARTIES FROM MUNICIPAL POLLS.
Dragan Kalinic, head of the Bosnian Serb parliament, threatened on 26 October to ban parties from the Muslim-Croat Federation from taking part in municipal elections in the Republika Srpska (RS), AFP quoted BETA reports. Kalinic said the Federation parties must be registered according to the RS laws defining the rights of national minorities, which include Muslims and Croats. Kalinic criticized the new electoral registration rules for the municipal elections, saying they disqualify over 300,000 Serbs living abroad or in Serbia-Montenegro as refugees. The OSCE recently announced that refugees could no longer register to vote in places they "intended" to live, owing mainly to the Bosnian Serb registration manipulations during Bosnia's general elections. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SERBS ACCUSED OF INTIMIDATING INDEPENDENT MEDIA.
The OSCE has started an investigation into Bosnian Serb authorities' intimidating the independent media in the Republika Srpska, AFP reported on 28 October. Several independent papers have stopped publishing after being denied access to the Glas Srpski printing house controlled by the ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). Two reporters of the weekly Alternativa are being sued by senior SDS journalists over an article that linked the two men to attempts during recent elections to prevent meeting of opposition parties. OMRI reported Alternativa's editor was told that the Glas Srpski's printing ban was for publishing a protest to a similar ban imposed on the only independent daily, Nezavisne Novine. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN OPPOSITION OFFICIALS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE.
Three members of the Zajedno or Together coalition (consisting of the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, the Democratic party of Serbia, and the Serbian Civic League) competing in the upcoming 3 November elections staged a hunger strike and demanded that they be permitted to monitor election returns, Belgrade's Radio B 92 reported on 28 October. One of the protesters vowed that "we will stay until our demands are met, or until the police [forcibly] evict us." The three reportedly locked themselves in at election headquarters in Nis in order to protest a decision by the ruling authorities barring them from monitoring returns. Earlier, on 25 October, the coalition said it might boycott the elections if independent monitors were not allowed to observe on polling day. -- Stan Markotich

BELGRADE TRANSIT WORKERS STRIKE.
Bus and tram drivers in Belgrade nearly halted commuter traffic in that city on the morning of 28 October before the transit authorities could muster more vehicles, local and international media reported. Slobodan Vucenovic, a local dispatcher told Reuters "there [were] only 483 vehicles on the street...out of 1,009 scheduled." Two of six transport unions staged the strike, demanding unpaid back wages. -- Stan Markotich

POLICE ARRESTS 30 KOSOVO ALBANIANS AFTER KILLING OF TWO SERBS.
Serbian police arrested 30 ethnic Albanians in Surkis near Podujevo after a police officer and a civil servant were killed there in an ambush with automatic weapons on 25 October, Reuters reported. Funerals for the victims were held on 27 October in Surkis and Velika Reka with a heavy Serbian police presence, AFP reported. Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Nikola Sainovic and Serbian Interior Minister Zoran Sokolovic visited representatives of the Serb community in Podujevo the previous evening. Sokolovic promised that a police intervention unit be stationed in the town, and said he would ask the federal government to set up a Yugoslav army garrison in Podujevo. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIA BURIES WW2 FASCISTS AND COMMUNISTS TOGETHER.
Croatian authorities on 27 October in the Adriatic town of Omis reburied together the bodies of World War II fascist soldiers and the remains of communist partisans they had fought, AFP reported. Of 112 bodies, 104 were remains of soldiers from marionette fascist Independent State of Croatia, six were former Ustashi troops--equivalent of the Nazi SS--and two were the bodies of partisans. Vice Vukojevic of the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) said the ceremony was "a symbol of the reconciliation of the Croat people," AFP quoted him as saying. Jewish communities in Croatia and abroad and former partisans protested the ceremony. -- Daria Sito Sucic

RUSSIA WANTS LARGE CUT IN MACEDONIAN PEACE KEEPING.
Russia's UN representative Sergei Lavrov on 28 October stated in Skopje that "Russia believes the [UNPREDEP] mandate should stay the same but with a major reduction in troops," AFP reported. Lavrov met with President Kiro Gligorov and Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski. The mandate of the 1,100 troops runs out on 30 November, but Skopje has asked for an extension because of the weakness of its own army. Meanwhile, the defense ministry said it will buy arms for $200 million over the next five years. NATO had asked that the weapons comply with Western standards but Skopje made it clear that Macedonia was under no obligation to buy Western-made weapons. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS SENTENCED FOR LIBEL.
A Bucharest court sentenced two journalists on 25 October for "offending the authorities," Romanian media reported. Sorin Rosca Stanescu, editor of the daily Ziua and Tana Ardeleanu, a Ziua reporter, were handed down prison sentences of one year and 14 months respectively for a series of articles suggesting that President Ion Iliescu had been recruited by the KGB in his youth. The prosecution requested a minimum 6-month suspended sentence, but the court ignored the request and also banned the two to work as journalists in the future. The journalists will appeal the decision. The timing of the verdict--just one week before general and presidential elections--has been interpreted by the independent media as a warning addressed to journalists criticizing Iliescu. -- Zsolt Mato

SNEGUR URGES RUSSIA TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM MOLDOVA.
Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 25 October told journalists in Moscow that, if he is reelected, he would insist that Russian troops be withdrawn from eastern Moldova by late 1997, Infotag reported on 28 October. Snegur made the statement after meeting Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin during a Black Sea Economic Cooperation summit. He further reiterated earlier statements that Moldova, whose constitution provides for neutrality, does not plan to join any military alliance, including NATO. -- Dan Ionescu

UNITED OPPOSITION CANDIDATES WIN FIRST ROUND OF BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ...
Petar Stoyanov and his running mate, Todor Kavaldzhiev received 44.09% of the vote in the first round of the Bulgarian presidential elections on 27 October, 24 chasa reported, based on preliminary figures released by the Central Electoral Commission. The candidates of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Culture Minister Ivan Marazov and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, trailed with 26.98%, followed by Bulgarian Business Bloc leader Georges Ganchev and Arlin Antonov with 21.86%. Aleksandar Tomov and Gen. Lyudmil Marinchevski received 3.18%, and the comedians Hristo Boychev and Ivan Kulekov, 1.34%. Other candidates received less than 1 percentage point. Voter turnout was 62.7%, or 12-15 points less than at the previous presidential and parliamentary elections. A runoff between the top two will take place on 3 November. -- Stefan Krause in Sofia

...CASTING DOUBTS ON PRIME MINISTER'S FUTURE.
Meanwhile, Marazov's and Bokova's poor showing prompted speculation about the future of Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov. During a BSP plenary meeting on 28 October, leading BSP members demanded Videnov resign as premier and party leader, Kontinent and Standart reported. Sociologist Andrey Raychev, a leading member of the Alliance for a Social Democracy, the most important reformist faction within the BSP, did not rule out a party split. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov, Ganchev, and the leader of the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, Ahmed Dogan, ruled out a coalition with the BSP in the present parliament, in which the BSP holds an outright majority. Meanwhile, Ganchev's driver was killed and his bodyguard seriously injured in a road accident on 28 October. Ganchev, who was not in the car, said the crash "was not an accident." -- Stefan Krause in Sofia

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS CLAIM VICTORY IN LOCAL ELECTION SECOND ROUND.
Foreign Minister and party leader Tritan Shehu said the Democrats won 21 out of 22 town halls and 73 out of 96 communes in the second round of local elections on 27 October. That would give the Democrats 90.6% of town halls and 86.7% of communes all over the country. The opposition Socialists reportedly gained only 6.25% of the city halls and 4.5% of the communes, down from 51% and 59.8% respectively in 1992, Reuters reported. Official results are expected later. Council of Europe observers said they noted "serious deficiencies" in the second round "caused by individual errors and ... the consequence of certain traditions," AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Valentina Huber









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