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Newsline - October 30, 1996


YELTSIN NAMES BEREZOVSKII AS DEPUTY SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY.
President Yeltsin named Boris Berezovskii and Col. Gen. Leonid Maiorov as deputy Security Council secretaries, ITAR-TASS reported 29 October. Berezovskii is a wealthy businessman, director of LogoVAZ, and the key figure controlling Russian Public TV (ORT). Maiorov, formerly first deputy commander of the CIA armed forces, will handle issues relating to the military industrial complex and Chechnya. Berezovskii said that "Russia's strategic security is connected with the continuation of economic reforms" and that he would work in this area. Berezovskii played a key role in Yeltsin's re-election campaign and helped Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais oust former Presidential Security Service Director Aleksandr Korzhakov. He said that he would withdraw from commercial enterprises while he holds the Security Council post. -- Robert Orttung

SELEZNEV CALLS FOR CHUBAIS TO STEP DOWN.
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev denounced Berezovskii's appointment as "one of the most serious mistakes in personnel policy" and demanded the removal of Chubais, who he claimed is behind Berezovskii's appointment. Seleznev accused Berezovskii of carrying out "an anti-Russian informational coup on ORT" and warned that he now was going to infiltrate "the holy of holies -- the security of the Russian state." The Consultative Council, which brings together Seleznev, Chubais, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev is set to meet on 1 November. Seleznev said that he would not take part in the meeting if Chubais is present. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN'S SURGERY MAY BE NEXT WEEK.
American cardiologist Michael DeBakey said in Houston on 29 October that the surgery on Yeltsin's heart could take place as early as next week, Reuters reported. DeBakey, who will consult with the medical team during the operation, is preparing to go to Russia later this week. On the same day the Kremlin started issuing a medical bulletin about Yeltsin's condition. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

KREMLIN INTENDS TO CRACK DOWN ON "LEGAL SEPARATISM."
Continuing his campaign to strengthen the Russian state, Anatolii Chubais chaired a 29 October Kremlin conference on developing ways to prevent regional and local governments from adopting laws that violate the Russian constitution and federal legislation, NTV reported. Chubais proposed creating a single authority for registering local and federal enactments, expanding the procurator's power, and holding officials who sign documents in violation of federal law personally responsible. The chairman of the Constitutional Court, Vladimir Tumanov, pointed out, however, that the local procurators are very weak and would not be effective enforcers. The conference noted that it would be a long and difficult process to end Russia's "legal chaos." Kommersant-Daily on 30 October suggested that Chubais is picking a fight with the regional elite and it is not clear who is stronger. -- Robert Orttung

NATO WANTS PACT WITH RUSSIA BY 1997.
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana hopes a "solid" Russian-NATO agreement will be signed by early 1997, Russian and Western agencies reported on 29 October. Solana said Russian objections to the extension of NATO's military structures could be addressed by modifying the 1990 CFE treaty, and declared that NATO has no plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Eastern European soil. Vladimir Nasinovskii, an official of the Russian Security Council, assessed Solana's statement as a response to President Yeltsin's proposal that such a pact be signed before NATO accepts new members. A NATO spokesman later clarified that Russian-NATO talks on the proposed pact have yet to begin. -- Scott Parrish

CIS DEFENSE COUNCIL REJECTS RUSSIAN NOMINEE.
The CIS Defense Ministers Council met in Dushanbe on 29 October and rejected Russian President Boris Yeltsin's nomination of General Mikhail Kolesnikov to head the CIS military cooperation staff, AFP reported. The Uzbek delegation declared that a non-Russian should now head the CIS staff, since its previous chief, Army General Viktor Samsonov, was Russian. Most Russian news reports glossed over this rejection, emphasizing the meeting's adoption of a regional "collective security concept" which includes a "comprehensive plan" for dealing with the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border. Defense ministers from all CIS members except Moldova and Turkmenistan attended the meeting. -- Scott Parrish

PRIMAKOV IN MIDDLE EAST.
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov began a Middle East tour by meeting Syrian President Hafez Assad in Damascus and Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Bouez in Beirut, agencies reported on 29 October. Primakov's trip, designed to boost Russia's role in the Middle East peace process, also includes stops in Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan. In Beirut, Primakov criticized the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu for backtracking on commitments made by its predecessor. He denied that Russia is competing with the U.S. in the region, saying "We are not trying to go against the Americans." -- Scott Parrish

BATURIN: RUSSIAN MILITARY TOTALS 2.5 MILLION.
Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin, in an interview with Itogi on 29 October, admitted "no one can say how many people we have on active military service," Reuters reported. He said the actual number of troops serving under the Defense Ministry is about 2.5 million, not the frequently cited official figure of 1.5 million. Baturin said the larger figure includes "ghost" units not listed in official budgetary documents, which partly explains the problem of military wage arrears. He suggested a 50% cut to 1.25 million troops as part of a military reform program. Baturin's numbers apparently do not include personnel serving in other agencies, such as Interior Troops, Border Guards, and Railway Troops, which could total another 1.8 million. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS SOLD STUDY ON NUCLEAR TESTS TO U.S.
Under a 1992 contract with the U.S. Defense Department, scientists at the Arzamas-16 nuclear weapons lab produced a report analyzing some 715 Soviet nuclear tests over a 41-year period, The Washington Post reported on 27 October. The scientists each received about $500 for their work, which was designed in part to keep them from peddling their skills outside Russia. The report, which remains classified, does not discuss Soviet nuclear weapons design or deployment, and its lead author, Aleksandr Chernyshev, insisted that all materials used had been cleared for sharing with Washington. Defense Department spokesmen said the data in the report would help monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban and prevent nuclear proliferation. -- Scott Parrish

KRASNODAR TO HOLD NEW ELECTIONS.
In a reversal of an earlier decision (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996), the Krasnodar Krai legislature has declared the 27 October gubernatorial elections in the Krai invalid due to a low turnout: only 43% of voters participated, short of the required 50%, NTV reported on 29 October. Krasnodar's legislature set new elections for 22 December and lowered the minimum turnout required to 25%. The main contenders are likely to be the opposition-backed Nikolai Kondratenko and the incumbent Nikolai Yegorov. On 27 October Yegorov won 25% of the vote to Kondratenko's 57%. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

REGIONAL SEPARATISM INCREASING.
In the wake of the Yamal-Nenets legislature's decision not to participate in the Tyumen Oblast gubernatorial elections on 22 December, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug legislature voted 29 October not to participate in the Arkhangelsk Oblast gubernatorial and legislative elections set for 8 December, ITAR-TASS reported. The administration of the Burlinskii Raion of Altai Krai also decided to hold a referendum on seceding from Altai Krai and joining Novosibirsk Oblast on 17 November, the day of gubernatorial elections. Since regional borders can only be changed with the support of all the federation members concerned, the referendum will not resolve the issue. -- Robert Orttung and Ritsuko Sasaki

STUDENT RALLY IN ST. PETERSBURG.
About 2,000 students and their teachers rallied in St. Petersburg on 29 October to demand higher grants and protest the government's low funding of higher education. The meeting called on the government to honor legislation stipulating that monthly student grants should amount to double the minimum wage (150,000 rubles, or $27). Currently, they receive half that amount. -- Penny Morvant in St. Petersburg

PRISON CONDITIONS CONDEMNED.
Andrei Babushkin, head of the human rights group New House, detailed the appalling conditions in Russia's prisons at a Moscow press conference on 28 October, AFP reported. Babushkin said that 208 people had died in prisons this year (which hold people awaiting trial, as opposed to camps, where convicts are held). He cited the case of an actor, Aleksandr Polyanin, who died in custody on 10 October after allegedly being tortured. -- Peter Rutland

DUMA DEPUTIES CALL FOR MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY.
Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin sent a letter to President Yeltsin on 29 October calling for a moratorium to be placed on the death penalty in Russia in line with the demands of the Council of Europe, NTV reported. When Russia joined the Council of Europe early this year it undertook to abolish the death penalty within three years. The CE also called on Russia to end all executions immediately, but they have continued. -- Penny Morvant in St. Petersburg

ACADEMY OF SCIENCES RE-ELECTS PRESIDENT.
Mathematician Yurii Osipov was re-elected president of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN), Russian TV (RTR) reported on 30 October. Addressing a general assembly of the Academy prior to the vote, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin promised that the government would increase spending on scientific research, NTV and ORT reported on 29 October. A leading academician went on a hunger strike recently to protest the lack of funding for science. -- Penny Morvant in St. Petersburg

SOROS INTERNET PROGRAM REACHES FAR EAST.
Some 12,000 students and teachers at the Far East State University in Vladivostok have been hooked up to the Internet, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. The connection is part of the 5-year program, financed by philanthropist George Soros, to link 32 Russian provincial universities to the world computer network, and follows similar projects in Novosibirsk and Yaroslavl. An agreement on the program was signed in March 1996 by Soros and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. -- Natalia Gurushina

FOREIGN INVESTMENT STILL LOW.
According to preliminary estimates, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Russia in 1996 will total only $800 million, down from $1.5 billion in 1995, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 29 October. Political instability and a lack of clear rules governing taxation, accounting, and property rights are named as the main reasons. In the first eight months of 1996, 41% of FDI went into trade and services, 14% to financial services, and 9% to the energy sector. Per usual, Moscow absorbed the bulk of investment (47%), followed by Tatarstan and St. Petersburg (6% each), and Western Siberia (5%). -- Natalia Gurushina



KARABAKH LEADER SAYS ELECTION WILL BE HELD.
Robert Kocharyan, the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, said on 28 October that the presidential election in Karabakh will be held despite criticism from Azerbaijan and Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996), Noyan Tapan reported. Kocharyan predicted that the Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations will drag on "for years" and did not expect any progress from the upcoming OSCE summit. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department expressed its concern over the planned election and warned against "complicating the outcome of the OSCE's Minsk Group peace process," Turan reported on 29 October. -- Emil Danielyan

OPPOSITION LEADERS ON ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Paruyr Hayrikyan, the leader of the Union of National Self-Determination, said he hopes that the Armenian Constitutional Court will rule in favor of the opposition candidate Vazgen Manukyan and annul the results of the 22 September presidential elections, Noyan Tapan reported on 29 October. According to a leader of the Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union, Suren Zolyan, the court cannot be trusted because "it is not independent." Zolyan alleged that the judicial branch did nothing to prevent human rights violations in Armenia, and therefore "leadership cannot be changed through elections." -- Emil Danielyan

NAZARBAYEV REPLACES DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, SECURITY CHIEF.
Deputy Prime Minister Garry Shtoik has been removed by Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 October. Shtoik was replaced by Dyusembai Duseinov, an industry official. The following day Nazarbayev appointed Beksultan Sarsekov as secretary of the country's Security Council, replacing Baltash Tursumbayev. Continuing his changes, Nazarbayev on 30 October signed a decree restructuring the country's executive branch, disposing of several committees, among them the State Committee on Cooperation with CIS states, RFE/RL reported. -- Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

TAJIK OPPOSITION MAKES NEW DEMANDS.
The United Tajik Opposition (UTO) insists that the National Reconciliation Council that the UTO has proposed be comprised 40% by the Movement for the Islamic Revival of Tajikistan, 40% by other opposition groups, and just 20% by government representatives, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 October. The next round of talks between the Tajik government and UTO, to be held in Moscow, are not expected anytime soon, a spokesman for the UTO said. -- Bruce Pannier

FOUR CENTRAL ASIAN STATES ATTEND TEHRAN CONFERENCE.
A conference on the situation in Afghanistan opened in the Iranian capital Tehran on 29 October, ITAR-TASS and IRNA reported. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said "the countries in the region ... are obliged to do their utmost to put a stop to outside interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs." Representatives from all the Central Asian CIS states except Uzbekistan were at the conference as well as Russia, Turkey, India, and envoys from the UN and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia did not attend though Velayati noted "they were invited." -- Bruce Pannier



CRIMEA AND THE BLACK SEA FLEET.
The Crimean Tatar Majlis (assembly) assessed the Russian State Duma's appeal for Sevastopol of 24 October as a territorial claim on Ukraine, Radio Ukraine reported on 26 October. The Presidium of the Majlis urged President Leonid Kuchma to implement Article 17 of the constitution, which prohibits deployment of foreign military bases on Ukrainian territory. Meanwhile, Crimean communists appealed to preserve a single fleet as a common security guarantor for the CIS and as a counterbalance to Turkey on the Black Sea, Ukrainian television reported on 29 October. The same day ITAR-TASS reported that talks on resolving the details of the Black Sea Fleet division began in Sevastopol. The head of the Russian navy's radiation, chemical and biological defense, Viktor Zakharov, expressed surprise that Ukrainian Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Yurii Kostenko wanted the issue of pollution caused by the fleet included in negotiations. Zakharov said the fleet caused no more environmental damage than regular merchant vessels. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN NEWS.
Italian President Luigi Scalfaro ended a two-day official visit to Ukraine on 29 October, international agencies reported. Scalfaro's talks with his Ukrainian counterpart and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz focused on security and Italian-Ukrainian economic relations. Italy is Ukraine's second largest EU trading partner after Germany. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS PARLIAMENT.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he would dissolve parliament if the Constitutional Court ruled that his proposed referendum was illegal, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. Last week the court announced it would review Lukashenka's and parliament's draft constitutions, and if it found they were actually new constitutions rather than just amendments to the existing basic law, any referendum on them would not be legal. -- Ustina Markus

FINAL REPORT ON COLLAPSE OF LATVIA'S BANKA BALTIJA.
The Latvian parliament investigation panel's final report, issued on 29 October, concluded that the spring 1995 bankruptcy of the Banka Baltija was caused by the "continuous and systematic violation of the law" by its leadership, BNS reported. It said that former board chairman Aleksandrs Lavent personally decided all key issues in the bank and used its funds for his own transactions while bank President Talis Freimanis was merely his tool. Lavent is currently imprisoned while Freimanis is under house arrest. Their trial is expected to begin in February. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS SAY IN FORMATION OF NEW GOVERNMENT.
Algirdas Brazauskas said on 29 October that he did not see any sense in confronting the new right-wing majority in the Seimas about forming a new government, Radio Lithuania reported. The comment is assumed to mean that he will ask Gediminas Vagnorius, the board chairman of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) to be prime minister. Noting that the president has an important role in foreign policy and is the commander of armed forces, Brazauskas asked to be consulted on appointments of foreign, defense, and interior ministers. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY ON 1949 POLISH-SWISS ACCORD.
According to a report by Polish Foreign Ministry experts, Polish citizens' assets deposited in Swiss banks might have been used to compensate Swiss citizens whose property was confiscated by the Polish communist government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 October 1996), Polish dailies reported on 26 October. According to the Polish-Swiss accord, revenues from Polish coal exports to Switzerland and Swiss bank deposits of heirless Poles, many whom were Jewish, were transferred to the Polish National Bank's account "N" in the Swiss Central Bank. Swiss citizens were then compensated from that account. Although the Polish-Swiss agreement envisaged compensations be paid from Polish export revenues, private account assets and income from exports might have merged, said a Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman. He added that the 1949 accord was illegal in its stipulations of how the accounts were administered. -- Beata Pasek

FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT AND SECRET FILES.
The State Security Office in Poland (UOP) charged former Polish President Lech Walesa with illegal possession of secret documents, Polish dailies reported on 30 October. Walesa apparently received those documents when in office and did not return them when leaving the office last December. He denied that he was illegally keeping any secret documents, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. A spokesman for President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Kwasniewski did not receive any confidential papers from Walesa. -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK OPPOSITION SIGN AGREEMENT.
The chairmen of three parliamentary opposition parties--the Christian Democratic Movement, Democratic Union (DU), and Democratic Party--signed a cooperation agreement on 29 October, Slovak media reported. Sme noted that the "blue coalition" is in fact not a coalition but an agreement; in its text it is explicitly written that the parties have not agreed to a pre-electoral coalition. "The election strategy and possible pre-election coalition have not yet been planned. This depends on whether Slovakia will change from its [current] proportional system to a majority system as heralded by the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)," DU chairman Jozef Moravcik said.
-- Anna Siskova

SLOVAK TV BOARD CALLS FOR DIRECTOR'S DISMISSAL.
The Slovak TV (STV) board on 29 October passed in a secret-ballot vote a proposal for STV Director Jozef Darmo's dismissal, Radio Twist reported. The proposal, which followed a complex evaluation of Darmo's activities since he took the post in December 1994, will be submitted to the parliament for approval. The board's deputy chairman, Jergus Ferko, said the board is "dissatisfied that certain things at STV are not developing in a socially beneficial [way]." Darmo has cut a number of popular programs--particularly political satires--and turned the station into a government mouthpiece. -- Sharon Fisher

NEW GAS PIPELINE LINKS HUNGARY, AUSTRIA.
Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky on 29 October opened a 117 km natural gas pipeline between Gyor in northwest Hungary and Baumgarten, Austria, Hungarian media reported. Hungarians believe that the new pipeline will decrease Hungary's dependence on Russian energy sources. The investment cost the Hungarian government and the Hungarian Oil and Gas Company 4 billion forints ($69 million). On 20 October, a pipeline was also completed between Slovakia and Baumgarten. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

TWO HUNGARIAN NATIONAL BANK VICE PRESIDENTS DISMISSED.
Two National Bank (MNB) vice presidents were dismissed over a contractual error that cost the MNB 1.5 billion forints ($9.5 million), Hungarian media reported on 30 October. According to the final report of an investigation into the 1992 agreement, Sandor Czirjak and Frigyes Harshegyi--in a contract on exchange rate guarantees with the Austrian bank Creditanstalt--made erroneous calculations. -- Zsofia Szilagyi




WAR CRIMINALS SERVE OPENLY WITH BOSNIAN SERB POLICE.
Colum Murphy, a spokesman for the international community's High Representative, Carl Bildt, said on 29 October that his office has known for some time that at least four indicted war criminals work for the Republika Srpska police. The men are Mladen Radic, Miroslav Kvocka, Nedjelko Timarac and Zeljko Mejakic, Reuters said. They are serving in the Prijedor-Omarska area and are wanted for war crimes allegedly committed in the Omarska or Keraterm concentration camps. Murphy said, "We have sent letters. We have spoken to the leadership in Pale on the subject," but added that war criminals should be arrested only "by those who have the ability to do so," Onasa noted. Critics, however, have charged that IFOR is concerned primarily with self-preservation and turns a blind eye to war criminals. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN WRAPUP.
Meanwhile in Athens, Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said that her government has no intention of turning over indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic to the Hague-based tribunal, AFP reported on 29 October. In Sarajevo, the Defense Ministry warned the U.S. not to apply pressure on Bosnia to fire Deputy Minister Hasan Cengic, who has close links to Iran, Reuters reported. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN FEDERAL PARTNERS AGREE ON FLAG AND COAT OF ARMS.
Muslim and Croat partners in the Bosnian Federation agreed on 25 October on a flag, coat of arms and power-sharing in Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje reported the next day. They also agreed on how to merge their police forces. One of the agreements sets out how Sarajevo will be governed. Organization of the city will be designed in three levels: as a nine-unit canton, as the four-municipality city, and as the state district governed by Bosnia-Herzegovina's government. In addition, the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), which threatened to boycott the newly elected federation parliament unless it got a bigger share of power than the 4.7% of the vote it won in Bosnia's general election, was given 20% of the seats reserved for Bosnian Croats in the regional parliament. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN POLICE "CRUSH" LOCAL TRANSIT STRIKE.
Belgrade police officers broke up a strike by municipal transportation workers on 29 October, Nasa Borba reported the following day (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996). According to Beta accounts, police, including special units from the interior ministry and officers in full combat gear became violent, beating up workers and forcibly apprehending and arresting Dragoljub Stosic, an opposition candidate for the 3 November municipal elections in Belgrade and head of the local Belgrade City Transportation Company trade union. Stosic's whereabouts and condition reportedly remain unknown. One trade union official summed up the police action as "most likely crushing the drivers' job action." Trade Union leaders, however, have vowed to stage a major protest at city hall on 30 October if Stosic is not released. -- Stan Markotich

KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY THREATENS TO KILL ETHNIC ALBANIAN COLLABORATORS.
The mysterious Kosovo Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the killing of a Serb police officer and a civil servant on 25 October near Podujevo, BBC reported on 30 October. The group, reportedly also threatened to attack ethnic Albanian collaborators with the Serb administration of Kosovo. Since January the group has taken responsibility for the killing of nine Serbs. -- Fabian Schmidt

THIRD OF CROATIAN SERBS GRANTED AMNESTY REARRESTED.
Of the 94 Croatian Serbs recently released from prison under the new amnesty law 27 have been rearrested, international agencies reported on 29 October quoting Hina. Forty-five left for Serbia-Montenegro immediately upon release, while those staying in Croatia were later arrested and charged with arson, rape, or murder. Deputy Justice Minister Tomislav Penic said the amnesty law does not apply to those charged with war crimes or criminal acts committed during the war. But the Croatian Helsinki Committee accused Croatian authorities of manipulating the amnesty law in order to intimidate remaining Serbs and scare others from returning. -- Daria Sito Sucic

FEDERAL YUGOSLAV AND CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET.
Mate Granic of Croatia and Milan Milutinovic of Serbia-Montenegro on 29 October met in Zagreb to discuss the further implementation of the agreement on normalizing relations between the two countries, Croatian and Serbian media reported. The two ministers signed an agreement abolishing visa requirements for diplomats and government officials. But federal Yugoslav citizens will still need visas to enter Croatia, and Croatians must pay border-crossing fees and deposit their passports at the border when they cross into Serbia-Montenegro. Granic and Milutinovic announced a number of agreements regulating internal affairs, social, and economic issues will be signed at the end of the year. Commissions for railway and road restoration will start next week. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman discussed with Milutinovic peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia. Tudjman said Croatia could not accept the six or 12 month extension of the UNTAES mandate but only a "three plus three" extension, because of pressure by the general public. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SLOVENIAN UPDATE.
In the latest survey by the daily Delo, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) of Premier Janez Drnovsek continues to lead in voter popularity ahead of the 10 November election, Reuters reported on 28 October. Delo showed the LDS with 11.6% of respondents' support, while a poll by Dnevnik showed the party's popularity increasing from 12.7% of voter support to 15.7%. Meanwhile, the rightist Social Democrats led by former Defense Minister Janez Jansa continue to hold second place in many polls, hovering around the 7% mark in popular support. Up to about 39% of the electorate remains undecided. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN ELECTORAL ROUND-UP.
Several newspapers on 29 October published the results of a poll commissioned by the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), which shows the PDSR and President Ion Iliescu in serious decline over a period of 40 days. The confidential poll was conducted by the IRSOP polling institute, and only partial results were made public. Ziua, however, considers the results just another attempt to influence public opinion and placate the opposition. Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei accused the national TV station of sabotaging the electoral campaign of the opposition Democratic Convention and its presidential candidate, Emil Constantinescu, by airing its electoral spot under poor technical conditions.
-- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN MOSCOW.
A parliamentary delegation headed by Chairman Petru Lucinschi is in Moscow on an official visit, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Lucinschi, presidential candidate in the 17 November election, is scheduled to meet with Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, the chairmen of the two chambers, and other senior officials. On 28 October, Lucinschi discussed with managers of the Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, Moldova's debts for gas deliveries and the possibility of increasing gas supplies this winter. Political talks focused on the much-delayed ratification of the Moldovan-Russian basic treaty and other bilateral documents, as well as on the situation in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region. Earlier this month, two other main presidential candidates, Premier Andrei Sangheli and incumbent President Mircea Snegur, paid visits to Moscow. -- Dan Ionescu

FINAL RESULTS OF BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS . . .
The Central Electoral Commission announced on 29 October the final results of the 27 October elections, national media reported. The united opposition candidates Petar Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldzhiev, with 44.07% of the vote and the Bulgarian Socialist's Party's (BSP) candidates Ivan Marazov and Irina Bokova with 27.01%, will compete in 3 November runoffs. Coming in third were the Bulgarian Business Bloc's Georges Ganchev and Arlin Antonov with 21.87%. Independent candidates Alexander Tomov and Gen. Liudmil Marinchevski won 3.16% of the vote while comedians Christo Boichev and Ivan Koulekov garnered 1.34%. The united opposition won almost the share of votes it received in 1995 local elections, while the BSP lost about one million supporters, Pari reported on 30 October. -- Maria Koinova

. . . CAUSE SOCIALISTS TO MULL OVER THEIR POOR SHOWING.
"The electoral results are retribution for the [politics] of the Bulgarian Socialists Party," announced Alexander Lilov, former chair of the BSP consul during a plenum meeting on 28 October, Demokratsiya reported on 30 October. Several other BSP party members and deputies, meanwhile, alleged that the BSP's constituency boycotted the policies of the government. For his part, Premier Zhan Videnov declared on 29 October that the results are a vote against the "social hardship that people suffer." He went on, denying rumors that BSP's executive bureau demanded his resignation. He said that he will initiate calls for an emergency BSP congress, should an election post mortem suggest the need for such action. -- Maria Koinova

BRITAIN RETURNS ALBANIAN GOLD AFTER 50 YEARS.
Britain on 29 October agreed to return 1.5 tons of gold worth $19 million, AFP reported. The money was looted from the Albanian central bank by the Nazis in WWII and kept by the Bank of England. Britain had blocked the gold because of a dispute over the sinking of a British warship and the severe damage of another in the Corfu straits in 1946. Britain had charged Albania with laying the mines that sunk the warship and demanded compensation for the death of 44 British sailors. Communist Albania had denied responsibility despite an International Court of Justice ruling in 1949. It agreed in 1992 to pay $2 million in compensation. Approval also had to be obtained from the U.S. and France, which were members of the Tripartite Commission. The U.S. gave its approval in 1995 and France in February 1996. -- Fabian Schmidt

FINAL ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS.
The Democratic Party won 58 of the 64 town halls, and 268 of the 309 communes, international agencies reported on 29 October. The Socialist opposition won only four town halls and 14 communes. The coalition of the National Front Party and the monarchist League of the Right won the town hall in Shkoder and the National Front won another four communes. The Human Rights Union Party, representing the ethnic Greek minority in southern Albania, won one town hall and nine communes. The Republican Party won in six communes, the Social Democratic Union in two and the Christian Democrats in one. Independent candidates won in five communes. Overall the Democratic Party won 52.5% of the vote for the party lists, followed by the Socialists with 31.3%, the Republicans with 3.5% and the Center Pole with 3.1%. The turnout was about 70%. -- Fabian Schmidt



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