YELTSIN HEALTH UPDATE.
Doctors say President Boris
already started walking after his 5 November heart surgery, Reuters reported on
7 November. The same day ITAR-TASS, citing the presidential press service,
reported that Yeltsin "is active, is able to sit, gets up and walks about the
ward, and ate breakfast on his own." Yelsin also met with Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais for 15 minutes. Although Yeltsin wants to be transferred to
the main Kremlin hospital where he has been treated in the past, his doctors
advised him to stay at least another 24 hours under intensive care in the
Moscow Cardiological Center where the operation was performed. According to AFP
on 6 November, American cardiologist Michael DeBakey said Yeltsin should
recover in six to eight weeks. Meanwhile, Yeltsin issued a decree on 7
November, the anniversary of the October Revolution, changing that holiday's
name to the Day of Accord and Reconciliation. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski
REACTION TO CLINTON VICTORY.
Yeltsin congratulated his American
counterpart Bill Clinton on his re-election, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November.
In his message, Yeltsin described "constructive and equal partnership" between
the U.S. and Russia as "an indispensable condition for global security."
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov likewise hailed Clinton's victory, terming
him a "predictable" negotiating partner. Reuters cited a senior Foreign
Ministry official as saying that Yeltsin and Clinton's warm personal ties would
bolster bilateral relations. Duma First Deputy Vice Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin
(Our Home is Russia), however, said Clinton's re-election would lead American
"imperial ambitions" to "reach a new level," and he suggested Washington is
deliberately exacerbating Russian-Ukrainian differences in order to use Ukraine
as a "buffer zone" between Russia and NATO. -- Scott Parrish
ZYUGANOV DISCUSSES YELTSIN'S HEALTH, CLINTON'S VICTORY . . .
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov wished Yeltsin well but said the president
should wait until his recovery is complete before taking back his powers. "He
must get well first, and only then try to run the country. It's impossible to
run a country from an intensive care unit, from a hospital, especially when the
country itself is very seriously ill," Russian TV (RTR) reported Zyuganov as
saying on 6 November. Zyuganov has previously called for Yeltsin to step down
permanently because of his health problems. On the same day, Zyuganov
congratulated Bill Clinton on his election victory, adding, "We respect the
traditions and customs of elections for U.S. citizens, but we want America to
respect our choice and our traditions, and interfere less in our internal
affairs," Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin
. . . CALLS FOR "GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL INTERESTS."
Addressing more than
2,000 supporters who gathered to commemorate the 1917 revolution, Zyuganov
criticized the current authorities and called for organized protests that could
lead to the creation of a "government of national interests," Russian media
reported on 6 November. Referring to the recent suicide of nuclear physicist
Vladimir Nechai (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 October 1996), Zyuganov said,
"We have become witnesses of a time when junior researchers, thieves, and
drunkards are running the country, and at the same time talented academicians
are shooting themselves," ORT reported. Zyuganov noted that his party favors an
evolutionary rather than revolutionary path of development. -- Laura Belin
COMMUNISTS COMMEMORATE OCTOBER REVOLUTION.
About 20,000 people marched
on 7 November from the Lenin statue on Moscow's Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad to the
Karl Marx statue on Teatralnaya Ploshchad to mark the 79th anniversary of the
October Revolution, AFP reported. Several radical communist groups, including
Anatolii Kryuchkov's Russian Party of Communists, Stanislav Terekhov's
Officers' Union, and the Russian Communist Party--Communist Party of the Soviet
Union, had sought to march on Red Square. However, the Supreme Court rejected
their appeal against the Moscow city government's decision not to allow
demonstrations on Red Square, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. -- Laura
KULIKOV SEES MORE CONSPIRACIES.
Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov
defended his record at a press conference on 6 November, rejecting charges that
he has become too involved in politics, NTV reported. He said preserving the
constitutional order was his "direct responsibility." Commenting on the 3
November killing of U.S. businessman Paul Tatum, Kulikov noted that this
occurred on the eve of the U.S. presidential election and Yeltsin's heart
surgery, and suggested that it could have been part of a conspiracy to
embarrass the police and destabilize the political system. Kulikov said that so
far this year there have been 560 murders or attempted murders that appeared to
be contract killings. (In Russia, professional assassins typically leave their
weapon at the scene.) Only 10% of these had been solved. Overall, the total
number of crimes in the first 10 months of the year fell by 4%, although
Kulikov said that economic crime continues to rise. -- Peter Rutland
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHECHNYA.
Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin on 6 November met with his deputies, Boris Berezovskii and Leonid
Mayorov, and the newly appointed permanent representative of the Russian
federal government in Chechnya, Georgii Kurin, to discuss the Chechen situation
in the light of talks held with the Chechen leadership over the past two weeks,
Russian media reported. Also on 6 November, a spokesman for the Russian
military commandant in Grozny denied charges that Russian troops based at
Grozny's Severnii airport had subjected the Argunskii farm to artillery fire
during the night of 5-6 November. The spokesman admitted that flares were fired
and would investigate the incident further. Interim Chechen Prime Minister
Aslan Maskhadov convened a meeting of field commanders in Argun on 6 November
to discuss financing and discipline within the ranks of the Chechen armed
forces, according to Radio Rossii. -- Liz Fuller
PRIMAKOV AT BARENTS-EUROARCTIC SUMMIT.
The Council of the Barents and
Euroarctic Region held its fourth session in Petrozavodsk on 5-6 November,
ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov chaired the
session, which was attended by foreign ministers and top diplomats from council
members Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, plus observers from
several other countries. Besides regional environmental and economic
cooperation, the session discussed European security, with Primakov reiterating
Moscow's opposition to NATO expansion. He argued that the OSCE should anchor a
new European security system, and criticized those who view either NATO or a
Russian-NATO charter as playing that role. In subsequent comments, Primakov
cautioned that despite recent progress in border talks with Estonia, a final
agreement would be contingent on the treatment of the Russian minority there,
which Russia believes suffers discrimination. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN, INDIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS MEET.
Anatolii Kulikov met with his
Indian counterpart Indraijit Gupta in Moscow on 6 November, ITAR-TASS reported.
Kulikov described drug trafficking as the main problem that bilateral
law-enforcement cooperation should address, attributing it to the "friendly"
attitude of Indian authorities toward Russian visitors. He said the two
countries would sign an extradition treaty in early 1997. While Kulikov hailed
the "unlimited" possibilities of bilateral cooperation in law enforcement,
Gupta pointed out that financial problems in both countries had hampered the
effective implementation of four previous joint law-enforcement agreements.
Gupta also met First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov to discuss
economic and military ties. They predicted that Russo-Indian trade would
increase this year by 30% over the $1.9 billion level reached in 1995. -- Scott
KHANTY-MANSI DECIDES TO PARTICIPATE IN TYUMEN ELECTIONS.
Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug State Duma voted on 6 November to participate in
the Tyumen Oblast gubernatorial elections set for 22 December, ITAR-TASS
reported. Khanty-Mansi and the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, simultaneously
subordinate to Tyumen and one of the 89 members of Russian Federation, control
53% of Russian oil and 90% of natural gas reserves. The legislature of
Yamal-Nenets has already decided not to participate in the Tyumen elections
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 October 1996). The newly elected legislature
of Khanty-Mansi on 27 October, on the other hand, chose to be a part of Tyumen.
Khanty-Mansi's decision, however, does not resolve difficulties over the Tyumen
gubernatorial elections, in which Yamal also should take part, according to the
Russian constitution. -- Ritsuko Sasaki
OFFICIALS TO BE TRIED FOR FABRICATING CASE AGAINST VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR.
The Procurator-General's Office began criminal proceedings against four
members of the Primorskii Krai Internal Affairs Department for allegedly
fabricating a corruption case against Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov in
1994. A spokesman for the procurators said the charged officials had abused
their power by fabricating evidence and inducing false testimony from
witnesses, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The charges against Cherepkov were
eventually dropped, and two of those who will face trial were first arrested
last year for framing him (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 May and 25 July
1995). Cherepkov has since been reinstated as mayor, but his relations with
allies of Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko remain strained (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 1 and 3 October 1996). -- Laura Belin
SMALL VICTORY FOR ENVIRONMENTALISTS.
A local court has fined the Saratov
oil company 260 million rubles ($50,000) for damage to three hectares of arable
land caused by leaks from an oil well in Bagaevskii one year ago, ITAR-TASS
reported on 6 November. The suit was brought by the regional nature
conservation committee, which is also pursuing a 1.5 billion ruble claim
arising from a pipeline leak near Lysye Gory. The same day, Russian customs
officials in Smolensk turned back five train cars laden with 150 tons of
cyanide waste, Radio Rossii reported. They were headed from Poland for disposal
in Krasnoyarsk, but did not have the required documentation. -- Peter Rutland
TAX COLLECTION IN OCTOBER.
Federal tax revenue in October reached 14.6
trillion rubles ($2.7 billion), ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November, citing the
State Tax Agency. This is a 52% increase over September, when 9.6 trillion
rubles were collected. However, 21% of tax "receipts" (3.1 trillion rubles)
were in the form of treasury tax waivers and other surrogates. Non-cash sources
accounted for 18% of tax receipts, or 1.7 trillion rubles, in September. Ten of
Russia's 89 regions provide 60% of all federal taxes. They are Moscow;
Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug; Tatarstan; St. Petersburg; Samara, Moscow, Omsk,
Chelyabinsk, and Sverdlovsk Oblasts; and Krasnodar Krai. -- Natalia Gurushina
MARKET REACTION TO YELTSIN'S OPERATION.
International financial markets
reacted positively on the news about Yeltsin's successful heart surgery,
Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The prices of both Finance
Ministry Foreign Currency Bonds and old Soviet commercial debt (Vneshekonombank
debt) went up, with the latter surging over the last 48 hours by 6% to 80 cents
on the dollar. In Russia, the price of state short-term securities also went
up, pushing yields down by as much as 4% (compared to last week's auctions).
Yeltsin's successful recovery should also improve the prospects for the
forthcoming issue of Russia's eurobonds slated for mid-November. -- Natalia
TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
ARMENIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER TO CONTINUE ECONOMIC REFORMS.
Sarkisyan said he will continue the economic reforms of his predecessor, Hrant
Bagratyan, with a "new impetus" and uphold the country's independence,
international media reported on 6 November. According to Sarkisyan, Armenia
should enter the 21st century with a competitive and modern economy so that
certain unspecified "regional economic and political forces cannot swallow our
state." Bagratyan's replacement is seen as an attempt by President Levon
Ter-Petrossyan to soothe Armenia's tense internal political situation.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Vano Siradeghyan told RFE/RL on 6 November that he
and Foreign Minister Vahan Papazyan are ready to step down. Siradeghyan said he
is ready to take over as mayor of Yerevan and suggested that Alexander
Arzumanyan, Armenia's permanent representative to the UN, could succeed
Papazyan. -- Emil Danielyan
NEW GEORGIAN OPPOSITION COMMITTEE CALLS FOR RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL.
Representatives of 18 Georgian opposition parties have formed a committee to
lobby for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia,
Segodnya reported on 5 November. The committee is an offshoot of the
National Liberation Movement of Georgia founded several months ago by 14
political parties not represented in the present parliament (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 1 August 1996). -- Liz Fuller
LEGITIMACY OF KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT SPEAKER QUESTIONED.
Court has begun reviewing the selection of Mukar Cholponbayev as speaker of the
Kyrgyz parliament, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. Cholponbayev
has been in trouble over the transfer of more than three million som ($200,000)
from the parliamentary budget to a firm partly owned by his wife. He
nonetheless received a vote of confidence from the Legislative Assembly on 24
September. When Cholponbayev was chosen speaker in March 1995, only 29 deputies
were present and 17 voted for him. But, the number of deputies in the
Legislative Assembly is 35, making 17 votes less than a majority. -- Bruce
PRINCE CHARLES BEGINS CENTRAL ASIAN TRIP.
The heir to the British
throne, Prince Charles, arrived in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on 6 November,
kicking off a six-day tour of four Central Asian states, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS
reported. The first member of the British royal family to visit the region,
Charles will travel to Kazakstan on 7 November, to Kyrgyzstan on 9 November,
and wind up the trip in Uzbekistan. -- Bruce Pannier
BLACK SEA FLEET TALKS STALL.
Ukrainian National Security Adviser
Volodymyr Horbulin said the 6 November talks in Kyiv on the Black Sea Fleet did
not go smoothly, ITAR-TASS reported. Horbulin said neither side will make
concessions that may harm national interests. He added he was not optimistic
about the current round of discussions and did not see any place for
compromise. Both the closing session of the talks and the joint dinner were
canceled. Horbulin said he doubted the Russian prime minister would visit Kyiv
in November. The same day, Reuters reported that Horbulin said Ukraine did not
exclude the possibility that it could eventually join NATO. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN CURRENCY SLIPS IN OCTOBER.
The value of Ukraine's new
currency, the hryvnya, slipped by 3.5% in trading against the dollar in
October, the first such depreciation of a Ukrainian tender in three months,
Ukrainian TV reported on 5 November. Experts attributed the decrease--from 1.76
to 1.82 hryvnyas for $1--to a printing of unbacked hryvnyas by the National
Bank to pay for energy supplies for the winter because of a huge shortfall in
government revenues. National Bank Governor Viktor Yushchenko said he expected
the hryvnya would remain within a corridor of 1.82 to 1.87 hryvnyas to $1 by
the end of the year. The government revealed its total debt in public sector
wages and pensions now amounts to 3 billion hryvnyas ($1.7 billion). --
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES REFERENDUM DECREE.
Lukashenka's latest decree was published on 6 November saying, "changes and
amendments may be made through a binding national referendum ... questions on
changes to the constitution approved in a binding referendum are regarded as
legally-binding and do not need to be confirmed," ITAR-TASS reported. The
decree was publicized two days after the Constitutional Court ruled that the
constitutional referendum, scheduled for 24 November, would not be legally
binding. Several leading Belarusian legal specialists, including Justice
Minister Valyantsin Sukalo, said the court has overstepped its powers by ruling
on the referendum. The same day, parliament decided the only two referendum
questions that are legally-binding are the question on changing the national
holiday, and the question on electing local authorities. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS AMNESTY LAW.
An amnesty law adopted on 5
November will allow for the release of some 10,000 people out of 60,000
currently in prison, Belarusian radio reported on 6 November. Deputy Minister
of Interior Uladzislau Kashalenku said that this law, initiated by the
president, would be of extreme importance to the state as it would save
considerable financial resources--about 101 billion rubels ($6.7 million).
Kashalenku said in some cases, people sentenced to two-years for stealing a
sack of potatoes worth 250,000 rubels, while some 1,000,000 rubels was spent by
the state each year on keeping them in custody. -- Sergei Solodovnikov
BELARUSIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST CENSORSHIP.
Some 50 journalists from
Radio 101.2, which was closed down three months ago, rallied on 5 November in
downtown Minsk protesting the government's crackdown on the independent media,
Polish Radio 1 reported the same day. Association Deputy Chairman Uladzimir
Glod compared the present situation in Belarus to that of the darkest periods
of the USSR, when the only source of information was foreign broadcasts. A new
threat hangs over Belarus's largest independent newspaper Svaboda, which
may soon be shut down at the request of the State Committee on the Press for
publishing what in the committee's opinion were untrue articles. During the
rally, thousands of Minsk residents signed a petition demanding that Radio
101.2 be allowed back on the air. -- Sergei Solodovnikov
LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER ON RUSSIAN BORDER TREATY.
Andris Skele said on 6
November that Latvia should follow the recent example of Estonia in trying to
settle its border with Russia, BNS reported. He suggested that Latvia should
also give up its demand that a border agreement with Russia had to note the
continued validity of the 1920 peace treaty. In his opinion, the border
agreement should only precisely and accurately define the shared border. Saeima
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Indulis Berzins backed Skele's position,
saying that Latvia was more interested than Russia in concluding a border
agreement since better border control could reduce smuggling and illegal
refugee migration, thus help obtain visa-free regimes with West European
countries. -- Saulius Girnius
CONTROVERSY OVER TAXES CONTINUE IN POLAND.
Tax rates in 1997 remain an
unresolved problem in Poland, while the Senate is expected to vote on the tax
law. The Polish Sejm approved tax rates of 17%, 20%, 33%, and 45% on 24
October, while the government wanted tax rates of 20%, 31%, and 43%, lowering
them from the current 21%, 33%, and 45%. Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko,
speaking to the Senate commission dealing with tax law, said on 6 November that
he will support the government proposal. Kolodko said that if the Sejm
proposals are accepted, the government will resign "because it would not be
able to take responsibility for measures that are wrong from the economic point
of view and irresponsible politically." Kolodko's statement, before the Senate
vote on the tax law, is a threat to the government's junior partner, the Polish
Peasant Party, supporting the Sejm proposal. -- Jakub Karpinski
KLAUS SETS UP COMMISSION TO FIGHT BUREAUCRACY.
The Czech Prime Minister
on 6 November named former Transportation Minister Vladimir Budinsky to head
the new Commission for Fighting Bureaucracy, Czech media reported. The
commission will deal with citizens' complaints of state bureaucracy excesses in
various areas. Klaus told journalists that the commission will not have its own
bureaucracy; its only permanent staffer will be a secretary. None of the
commission's 30 members will be paid. Klaus's initiative has been criticized by
the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD), who described it as a "Potemkin
village." The CSSD is convinced that establishing an ombudsman would be a
better solution. Klaus and his party oppose that idea. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK OPPOSITION DAILY LOSES SLANDER CASE.
A Banska Bystrica district
court on 6 November ordered Sme to apologize to all 18 cabinet members
for an article published on 14 May and demanded that its publisher pay each
minister 400,000-500,000 crowns ($13,000-16,000), Slovak media reported. The
article quoted a speech by Sme journalist Peter Toth at ex-policeman
Robert Remias's funeral stating that "these are the first victims of a
political cold war that the government is waging against Slovak citizens."
Remias was the closest friend of a key witness in the kidnapping of President
Michal Kovac's son, and the secret service was widely suspected of involvement
in Remias's death in a car explosion in April. Sme's lawyer said the
daily will appeal. Also on 6 November, the parliament refused to allow for the
prosecution of Christian Democratic Movement Deputy Ladislav Pittner, who led a
commission investigating the Kovac Jr. kidnapping and accused police of
committing crimes. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN WELFARE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION CONFIRMED.
Prime Minister Gyula
Horn on 6 November confirmed that Gyorgy Szabo has offered his resignation,
citing personal reasons, Hungarian media reported. Horn said he was undecided
whether to accept the resignation. Szabo has recently been under fire for cuts
in services and medical supplies at hospitals and other health care
institutions because of austerity measures. Szabo's resignation would be the
10th departure of a minister from Horn's government. Szabo's predecessor, Pal
Kovacs, quit in March 1995 after former Finance Minister Lajos Bokros
introduced austerity measures. Opposition representatives on 6 November
criticized the government's health and social policies, noting that Szabo's
fall should be a warning signal for Horn. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL UPDATE.
Marta Tocsik on 6 November
refused for the fifth time to appear before the special parliamentary
commission investigating the privatization scandal, Hungarian media reported.
The commission is reviewing her 804 million forint ($5 million) "success fee"
for negotiations between the state privatization company (APV) and
municipalities. Noting that criminal proceedings have been launched against
her, Tocsik said her answers to the commission could be used against her.
Meanwhile, Tamas Toth, head of the APV secretariat responsible for submitting
reports to the APV board, told the commission that unusual procedures were used
in hiring Tocsik. He said her hiring report was not processed through regular
channels nor was it filed in APV archives. -- Sharon Fisher
MUSLIM POLICE TORCH SERB HOMES?
A NATO spokesman said that IFOR
personnel in a helicopter saw Muslim police speed away in a car from burning
Serbian homes near Kljuc in northwestern Bosnia. The Canadian troops observed
that the car returned to a police station in the area, which a Muslim-Croat
offensive captured just over a year ago. NATO is investigating, Nasa Borba
and the BBC reported on 7 November. In a related incident, the UNHCR said
that the Serbs may have mined 96 Muslim homes near Prijedor on the basis of a
UNHCR-supplied list of Muslims wanting to return to their homes. And in Mostar,
Muslim refugees from Capljina protested the mining of 12 Muslim homes in the
Croatian-controlled region to federal President Kresimir Zubak, Dnevni avaz
noted. The Dayton agreement guarantees the right of all refugees to go
home, but nationalists on all three sides are trying to block them. -- Patrick
MUSLIMS AND CROATS DISCUSS DELEGATION OF FEDERAL POSTS.
governing parties in the Bosnian Federation met on 5 November in Sarajevo to
discuss the assignment of leading posts in the federal government, Onasa
reported. The Croat Democratic Community (HDZ) and the Muslim Party of
Democratic Action (SDA) have to decide on candidates for the post of federal
president and vice president, prime minister, parliament speaker and government
ministers. The SDA allegedly wants Muslims to hold the post of president and
prime minister. But Bosnian Presidency Croat member Kresimir Zubak suggested a
principle under which the federal president and prime minister will not be of
the same nationality. Zubak said that Muslims were federal prime ministers for
two terms, and the post should be now commissioned to a Croat, Onasa reported.
Meanwhile, the federal House of Representatives held its inaugural session the
next day and adopted a binational flag, coat-of-arms and seal,
Oslobodjenje reported on 7 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SOLANA WANTS FULL NATO FORCE IN BOSNIA NEXT YEAR.
NATO Secretary General
Javier Solana said on 6 November in Bonn that he hoped all 33 countries taking
part in the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia would agree to join
a follow-on force after the current mandate expires on 20 December, Reuters
reported. Solana said that NATO's obligation in Bosnia is to help cement peace
and aid in reconstruction. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe said Germany
would start to train some 3,000 soldiers for a new Bosnian mission. German
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said he was confident the U.S. force would be
part of a new mission, although Solana did not specifically mention it. NATO is
considering plans for a new 20,000-30,000-man multinational peacekeeping force
in Bosnia once the IFOR mission ends. -- Daria Sito Sucic
FEDERAL YUGOSLAV ELECTION FINALS.
The leftist coalition headed by
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his wife Mirjana Markovic, and its
potential supporters, have failed to win a two-thirds majority in the 138-seat
federal parliament. A two-thirds vote there can assure a potential candidate
election to the post of federal president, an office Milosevic may seek when
his mandate as Serbian president expires in late 1997. Nasa Borba on 7
November reported Milosevic's leftist coalition holds 64 seats, and a likely
ally, the Democratic Socialist Party, has 20. It is Montenegro's ruling party.
Milosevic's main opposition, the Zajedno or Together coalition, has 22 seats,
the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party 16, and the remainder are parceled
out among six minor parties and coalitions. Milosevic may curry favor with the
minor parties as a way of gaining the support of 91 deputies in a bid for the
federal presidency. -- Stan Markotich
HOW MUCH ARE BELGRADE'S ARMS WORTH?
Federal Yugoslavia could earn up to
$200 million by selling its surplus arms, Onasa, citing Nedeljni Telegraf,
reported on 6 November. According to the terms of the Dayton accord,
Belgrade must dispose of the weapons before year's end. The report says federal
Yugoslav authorities have gone on record pledging the weapons will be destroyed
and that Belgrade has already allocated about $10 million "for dismantling and
shredding expenses." Onasa also reported several domestic and international
companies, as well as countries in Africa, are interested in making purchases,
and have floated "tempting offers." -- Stan Markotich
ILIESCU PLEDGES STABILITY IF RE-ELECTED.
Romanian President Ion Iliescu
said on 6 November, that, if reelected in the runoff to the presidential
election on 17 November, he would be the "guarantor of [political] stability"
in Romania. Iliescu launched thinly-veiled attacks at the Democratic Convention
of Romania (CDR), saying there are "too many ambiguities" in CDR's policies and
that "radical groups" had too much influence within that alliance. The CDR won
the parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, cabinet negotiations between the CDR
and the Social Democratic Union (USD) continued, with the USD reportedly
insisting on portfolios of foreign affairs, defense, labor, tourism, and
telecommunications. Also on 6 November, the Central Electoral Bureau announced
that more than two million ballots were declared invalid, which amounts to some
5% of the total number of votes cast. -- Dan Ionescu and Zsolt Mato
BULGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE.
Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and the
Sofia branch leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Nikola Koychev, are
the frontrunners to succeed Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Standart
reported on 7 November. Koychev, who is also chairman of the Parliamentary
Economics Commission, said he was ready to take over if necessary, while
Pirinski did not comment. Former BSP leader Aleksandar Lilov told Duma
that the BSP must reform itself and will disintegrate as a political force if
no new government is formed soon. Local party leaders increasingly call for a
national conference of party congress. Meanwhile, President-elect Petar
Stoyanov on 6 November resigned as deputy chairman of the Union of Democratic
Forces (SDS), as deputy chair of the SDS parliamentary faction, and as
parliamentary deputy. The Central Electoral Commission confirmed that he won
the presidential elections with 59.73% against 40.27% for Culture Minister Ivan
Marazov of the BSP. -- Stefan Krause
GAZPROM TO AVOID BULGARIA IN ROUTING GAS PIPELINE.
decided on 5 November to route a new pipeline under the Black Sea via Turkey,
Greece, Macedonia, and beyond, avoiding Bulgaria, which will now miss out on
hundreds of millions of dollars annually in fees, Standart reported on 6
November, citing ITAR-TASS. The paper reports that a former Russian diplomat in
Bulgaria said the Bulgarian "government finally has to understand that it
cannot fool around with Russia." Experts believe Bulgaria's failure to approve
by 15 October a proposed arrangement for a routing through Bulgaria contributed
to Gazprom's decision. Gazprom also views Turkey as a more financially solvent
partner. The news is a blow to Premier Zhan Videnov, whose Bulgarian Socialist
Party rival, Andrey Lukanov--who was assassinated on 2 October--had close
connections with Gazprom. -- Michael Wyzan
ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CHARGES COMMUNIST-ERA SECRET SERVICE WITH BOMB BLAST.
Albanian President Sali Berisha blamed former Sigurimi agents for the bomb
attack that destroyed appeals court chief judge Prel Martini's house on 6
November, injuring five people. Berisha said: "I guarantee the ...
determination of the Albanian state to face crime forcefully and give
terrorists what they deserve," reported Reuters. Prime Minister Alexander Meksi
linked the bombing to a trial on 5 November in which Martini upheld long prison
sentences of nine senior communist-era officials. Police said they did not know
what kind of device caused the explosion. A special group has been set up to
investigate. Interior Minister Halil Shamata said that police evidence pointed
to a link between the attack and an alleged terrorist group called Revenge of
Justice. -- Fabian Schmidt
MYSTERY SURROUNDS INVESTIGATIONS INTO ALBANIAN TERRORIST GROUP.
Albanian daily Koha Jone on 6 November raised serious doubts about
allegations by Interior Minister Halit Shamata that Klement Kolaneci,
son-in-law of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha, was in possession of about
$1 million that was allegedly stolen by the mysterious Revenge of Justice
group. According to a protocol, signed by Kolaneci and two policemen, a safe
found in Kolaneci's office contained only about 1040 lek ($10), 16,000 Greek
drachmas ($67) and several documents. Kolaneci was only interrogated once, but
not about any of the charges against him. He also has been denied free access
to his lawyers and only met them twice briefly. Meanwhile, Kolaneci should have
been released, since no court hearing concerning the legitimacy of his
pre-trial detention took place within ten days, but he still remains in
detention. -- Fabian Schmidt