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Newsline - November 12, 1996


DUMA ATTACKS PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION .
. .
The Duma has asked the Constitutional Court to examine President Boris Yeltsin's 2 October decree setting up the presidential administration, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 11 November. The deputies believe that Yeltsin gave Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais responsibilities that rightly belong to the president, legislature, and government. The presidential press service argues that the constitution gives the president the right to set up his administration at his own discretion. -- Robert Orttung

. . . ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO AFGHAN WAR INVALIDS FUND.
The day after the blast at the Kotlyakovskoe cemetery in which 13 people were killed, the Duma ordered the Procurator-General's Office to investigate the activities of the Russian Fund for Invalids of the Afghan War (RFIVA), Russian TV (RTR) reported on 11 November. The explosion occurred during a memorial service for a former RFIVA head and is thought to be linked to the fund's business operations. The deputies also instructed the Duma's Veterans Support Committee to check the activities of all organizations that enjoy similar economic privileges. The deputies observed a minute of silence in honor of those killed on 10 November. The investigation into the blast is being headed by First Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Kolesnikov. -- Penny Morvant in Moscow

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHECHEN PEACE BLUEPRINT.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired a closed door session of the Security Council on 11 November that addressed the finalized plans for a settlement of the Chechen conflict, Russian and Western agencies reported. Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin told NTV that the plan incorporates proposals made by the Chechen side, and reaffirmed Russia's commitment to abide by the peace agreements that have already been signed. The Duma will debate the draft laws on establishing a special economic zone in Chechnya and on granting an amnesty to participants in the conflict by late November at the earliest, State Duma Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin told ORT on 10 November. -- Liz Fuller

CHANNEL 2 DIRECTOR TO LEAVE NETWORK.
Anatolii Lysenko, who has served as general director of RTR since the company was founded in 1990, is leaving to head the Moscow city government's Committee on Telecommunications and the Mass Media, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 November. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov announced new financial breaks for the media last week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 November 1996). Lysenko co-founded RTR with Oleg Poptsov, who served as the network's chairman until President Yeltsin fired him in February (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 and 19 February 1996). -- Laura Belin

SHUMEIKO, ILYUKHIN SETTLE LAWSUIT.
Vladimir Shumeiko, leader of the pro-Yeltsin Reforms-New Course movement, dropped his slander lawsuit against Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin after Ilyukhin apologized in public, RTR and ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. Last year, Ilyukhin accused Shumeiko, then chairman of the Federation Council, of involvement in the shady activities of the now defunct Vlastelina company (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 September 1995). Ilyukhin apologized for making the charge before the investigation into Vlastelina's activities had been completed, and Shumeiko dropped his demand for 20 million rubles ($3,700) in damages. The judge instructed Kommersant-Daily, which was a co-defendant for having published Ilyukhin's accusations last year, to publish the settlement statement signed by both parties. -- Laura Belin

GENERAL: RUSSIA NEEDS ASSISTANCE TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS.
Russia wants to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile but needs foreign assistance to build the necessary facilities, Col.-Gen. Stanislav Petrov, head of the Radiological, Chemical, and Biological Defense Troops, told ITAR-TASS on 11 November. Petrov said about $100 million in foreign aid has been pledged, but only about 10% of that has been disbursed. A federal program calls for Russia to begin destroying its 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons in 1998 and complete the task by 2005. Petrov urged the speedy ratification of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, saying that if the agreement enters into force before Moscow has ratified it, Russia may have difficulty getting financial assistance. While the U.S. has not ratified the treaty either, Hungary recently became the 65th country to do so, meaning it will enter into force on 29 April 1997. -- Scott Parrish

DEFENSE COUNCIL DISCUSSES WAGE ARREARS, MILITARY DOCTRINE.
The Defense Council discussed the military budget and the development of a new military doctrine at its 11 November meeting, Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. First Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Panov said the Defense Ministry's wage arrears for July have been paid, as have 74% of the August arrears, but the need to pay other Defense Ministry debts, including commercial bank loans, had postponed full repayment of the 4.9 trillion rubles ($890 million) the ministry owed servicemen as of 1 October. He pledged to clear those debts by 15 November, although Kommersant-Daily noted that Defense Ministry officials estimate that wage arrears total 6.4 trillion rubles. -- Scott Parrish

CHECHEN OIL INDUSTRY PROSPECTS.
A major challenge facing the new authorities in Chechnya will be restoring the local oil industry. According to an AFP report on 10 November, annual oil production could reach 2 million metric tons but would need $60 million worth of investment. Production slumped from 3.6 million tons in 1991 to 300,000 tons in 1995, and in April 1996 the pro-Moscow Chechen head of state, Doku Zavgaev, suspended the operations of the Southern Oil Company because so much oil was being siphoned off into backyard refineries (although the main transit pipeline kept operating). Acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev signed a decree on 12 October re-affirming that the drilling and refining of oil is a state monopoly, but implementation will be difficult given the vested interests of the illicit operators. -- Peter Rutland

MORE CORRUPTION IN ST. PETERSBURG.
Aleksei Levashov, a deputy of the St. Petersburg City Assembly, has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 12 November. In July, a 15-year-old boy was kidnapped from a summer camp, and was later found in an apartment rented by Levashov. The police suspect the kidnapping was intended to dissuade the boy's father from testifying against a Levashov associate in a criminal trial. Earlier this month, several leading city officials were detained on corruption charges (see OMRI Daily Digest , 6 November 1996). -- Peter Rutland

PROTESTS IN REGIONS.
A group of coal miners and pensioners in Kemerovo Oblast set up a 24-hour picket in central Prokopevsk on 11 November to protest wage arrears and mine-closure plans, NTV reported. The protest action is planned to continue for three days. Likewise, pensioners occupied the government building of Yefremovsk Raion in the Tula Oblast to protest arrears dating back three months, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

TWO POLICE OFFICERS SHOT IN TYUMEN.
In a bizarre incident, two officers in the Tyumen anti-drug unit, Capt. Sergei Melnikov and Lt.-Col. Sergei Nadein, were found shot to death in their office, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 November. One theory is that Melnikov's gun accidentally discharged, killing his colleague, after which Melnikov shot himself. However, the procurator reported that both men's guns had been fired, suggesting there may have been an argument. The region's police chief, Col.-Gen. Sergei Radivil, described the incident as evidence of the psychological trauma known as the "Chechen syndrome," since both men recently returned from service in Chechnya. -- Peter Rutland

INTERNET IN RUSSIA.
About 50,000 people use the World Wide Web regularly in Russia, according to a report by the Russian firm Rusinfoil, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 November. Russians are the most frequent visitors to Russian sites, making up 28% of the users, while Americans are in second place, at 25%. Sixty percent of the information available is in Russian and the rest in English. -- Robert Orttung

GOVERNMENT CUTS VAT IN TEXTILE INDUSTRY.
In order to support Russia's ailing light industry, the government intends to cut the VAT rate for textile and clothing companies from the current 20% to 5%, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. The production of some textile goods dropped tenfold compared to 1991 and textile imports meet over 50% of the domestic demand. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov suggested that VAT for the light industry should be lifted altogether in 1997. -- Natalia Gurushina



CASPIAN SEA AGREEMENT SIGNED.
Representatives from four of the five coastal states of the Caspian Sea signed an agreement in Ashgabat on 12 November on the status of the sea, ITAR-TASS and Izvestiya reported. The agreement, granting each state an exclusive economic zone 45 miles (75 km) off-shore, was recognized by all parties except Azerbaijan. Every country came into the meeting with their own proposal for the zone: Iran favored a 10-mile zone; Russia, 20 miles, Turkmenistan, 60 miles; Kazakstan, 80 miles; and Azerbaijan wanted the entire sea divided into sectors. The signatories regard the resources beyond the 45-mile zone as subject to "joint ownership." Azerbaijan's oil riches lie beyond the 45-mile zone and that country's representative did not sign the agreement. Representatives of the other states promised to review "pinpoint jurisdiction" in Azerbaijan's case. Izvestiya noted that all of the countries had already begun developing areas in the Caspian without any clear ruling on its status. -- Bruce Pannier

PRISONER DIES IN JAIL. Valeri
i Fisyun, who was sentenced to six years' imprisonment last month for his participation in the abortive march on Abkhazia launched by former Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani in January 1995, has died in a Tbilisi jail after repeatedly requesting, but being refused, medical attention, RFE/RL reported on 11 November. -- Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJAN'S OIL OUTPUT FALLS.
Azerbaijan's oil output has declined for the fifth consecutive year, from 15 million metric tons in 1991 to an estimated 9 million tons for 1996, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 November. The decline is the result of a lack of investment and the loss of Azerbaijan's traditional export markets. The IMF delegation that visited Baku in August made the disbursement of a further $300 million loan contingent on the raising of domestic oil prices. -- Liz Fuller

TER-PETROSSYAN INAUGURATED AMID CONTROVERSY.
Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan was inaugurated for a second five-year term on 11 November, Armenian and Western media reported. The OSCE questioned the vote results of the disputed 22 September presidential election, while the opposition National Accord bloc (AHD) still claims it was robbed of the victory. The ceremony, which was boycotted by the AHD deputies, took place two days before the Constitutional Court is to start hearings on the opposition's appeal to annul the election results. The defeated AHD candidate, Vazgen Manukyan, described Ter-Petrossyan's decision to take the oath before the court's ruling as a "violation of ethical principles." According to Reuters, "Ter-Petrossyan looked grave and seemed to have lost weight." Meanwhile, there were no results yet from the 10 November local elections. -- Emil Danielyan

KAZAKSTANI PRESIDENT INTERVIEWED.
Nursultan Nazarbayev refuted assertions that the transfer of the Kazakstani capital from Almaty to the northern city of Akmola represents an attempt at "Kazakization" of the predominantly Russian region, in an interview published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 November. Nazarbayev justified the change on the grounds that Akmola is a more central location for the country's capital. Answering a question about the perceived discrimination against non-Kazak, Russian-speakers, the president said criminals would continue to be held accountable for their actions. Using the Cossack movement as an example, Nazarbayev said his country reacts to calls such as "Kazakstan into Russia," and "Cossack lands to Cossacks," the same way Russians would react to "Sakhalin and Kurile islands to Japan." Nazarbayev claimed that in Kazakstan there is no language discrimination as "in more than 5,000 schools, the students are taught only in Russian, and in 3,000 in Kazak." -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZSTAN, CHINA AGREE TO FIGHT SMUGGLING.
Kyrgyz Interior Minister Omurbek Tukuyev and Chinese Public Security Minister Tao Siju agreed in Beijing on 11 November to cooperate in combating smuggling, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement has special significance for China as a new road connecting China to Pakistan via Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan opened this year. Besides bordering on China, Kyrgyzstan also borders Tajikistan where the ongoing civil war greatly facilitates the smuggling of arms and narcotics. -- Bruce Pannier

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH IN UZBEKISTAN.
Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, is in Uzbekistan to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of two eparchies of the Russian Orthodox Church in Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. Uzbek President Islam Karimov told Aleksei that new churches had been built in Bukhara, Kashkadarya, and Syrdarya and that the St. Aleksei Church in Samarkand had recently been renovated. Aleksii said the visit was intended to "extend spiritual and moral support to the Orthodox believers who have found themselves beyond the boundaries of Russia." -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINE ON BLACK SEA FLEET.
First Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Bizhan said that Sevastopol cannot be an exclusive military base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian radio reported on 11 November. He said Russian ground forces should be removed from Ukraine's territory and Russia should give an exact count of the ships and troops it wants to keep based temporarily in Ukraine. He added that the location of Ukraine's navy command is not a subject for discussion, as that is an internal Ukrainian matter. Bizhan said the stumbling block in the last round of talks was the Sevastopol issue as Russia is "categorically opposed" to having Ukraine's navy command based there. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST EXTREMIST NATIONALISM.
In his weekly nationwide radio address, Leonid Kuchma warned that his administration would use "every available legal means" against any group found guilty of stirring up ethnic hatred and discord in the country, Radio Ukraine reported on 10 November. Kuchma said he wasn't referring to any specific incident but that "national chauvinism, Ukrainophobia, anti-Semitism, and Russophobia are great dangers." Kuchma said the country's new constitution guarantees equal rights for all of Ukraine's 100 national minorities and added that he regularly holds meetings with representatives of minority groups. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION SAYS REFERENDUM NOT VALID.
Head of the Central Electoral Commission Viktar Hanchar said he will not validate the results of the referendum on a new constitution and other issues because of the way it is being conducted, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. Early voting in the referendum by those who won't be able to vote on 24 November began on 9 November. Hanchar called the referendum a "national disgrace" and said he would not allow a referendum to be carried out according to an individual's "own rules and by decrees that contradict Constitutional Court rulings." Under the law, Hanchar has to approve the referendum results before they can be implemented. Hanchar said voting is taking place even though copies of the draft constitutions at issue have not yet been delivered to polling stations, and people do not know what they are voting for. In addition, although the early voting is meant only for those who cannot make the official referendum date, state television has been exhorting people to vote early. -- Ustina Markus

LATVIAN PRESIDENT ASKS SAEIMA TO REVISE MILITARY SERVICE LAW.
Before leaving on a five-day trip to Great Britain on 11 November, Guntis Ulmanis sent back to the parliament the law on obligatory military service that was passed on 7 November by a vote of 66 to 11 with 8 abstentions, BNS reported. He asked that parliament reconsider the articles that allow students to go into the reserves directly if they have undergone military training during their studies and that reduce the term of service for conscripts from 18 to 12 months. Saeima Defense and Interior Affairs Committee Chairman Julijs Druva approved the president's measure but noted that the parliament would probably only discuss the law in January as it had the state budget and many other important bills to consider. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN TRADE UNIONS PROTEST MINIMUM WAGE FREEZE.
Leaders of the Estonian Trade Unions Central Union and the Association of Estonian Trade Unions protested the statement by Social Affairs Minister Toomas Vilosius that no money could be found in the 1997 state budget to increase minimum wages, BNS reported on 11 November. They said that the current minimum wage of 680 kroons ($57) per month should be increased to calm social tensions. While European standards recommend that the minimum wage be 40% of the average wage, in Estonia it is less than 21%. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY.
Poles on 11 November celebrated the 78th anniversary of Poland's rebirth after more than a century of Russian, Prussian, and Austrian domination, Polish media reported on 12 November. At the official celebrations, President Aleksander Kwasniewski said the biggest danger Poland faces today is "imposition of the opinion that achievement of national goals--security and welfare--does not require continuing reforms but some unspecified 'turning' or 'awakening' of Poland." Kwasniewski was referring to the slogan of the extra-parliamentary Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP): "Poland, wake up." The opposition Solidarity Electoral Action, ROP, and Freedom Union commemorated Independence Day separately from the government. -- Beata Pasek

WOULD-BE NATO MEMBERS WANT SAY IN NEGOTIATIONS ON NATO-RUSSIA CHARTER.
Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec on 11 November said NATO applicants should be invited to take part in talks on a strategic partnership between the military alliance and Russia, Reuters reported. "For us NATO allies, it is very important that the debate with Russia not take place over our heads," Zieleniec said after talks with his visiting Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Kovacs. Both countries along with Poland are expected to become members in the first round of NATO's enlargement. Kovacs backed Slovakia's membership in the alliance, saying it is in line with the interests of the Czech Republic and Hungary to have Slovakia become part of Euro-Atlantic structures. Slovakia has been repeatedly warned by the United States and the European Union that its potential membership in NATO and the EU is in jeopardy unless it makes more progress on democratic reforms and improves treatment of its large Hungarian minority. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

CZECH SECRET SERVICE CHIEF QUITS.
Security Information Service (BIS) head Stanislav Devaty resigned on 11 November amid accusations that his service spied on Deputy Premier Josef Lux and subsequently tried to cover it up, Czech media reported. Devaty, who has been interim BIS chief since December 1992, denied the charges but said he was resigning under political pressure just days before the Senate elections. He told CTK that he is continuing to serve as director until a new chief is appointed. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus accepted his political ally's resignation but accused his coalition partners of taking unfair steps against his party. Interior Minister Jan Ruml expressed continued support for Devaty, while President Vaclav Havel called Devaty's departure "a reasonable step." Also on 11 November, the opposition Social Democrats' leader, Milos Zeman, asserted that BIS agents recently visited his mother to gain compromising information on him, an allegation that Klaus denied. -- Sharon Fisher

CZECH RESTAURANT WON'T SERVE ROMA.
Restaurateur Frantisek Korab of the northern Bohemian town of Litomerice recently put up a sign banning Roma from his restaurant, CTK reported on 11 November. Noting that some Romani customers have incurred debts reaching a combined total of 10,000 crowns ($370), Korab said Roma could begin coming again after they repay him. Korab told CTK that his ban has nothing to do with racism. The incident follows a case in March in the southern Moravian town of Breclav, where a hotel owner who was running for a parliamentary seat representing the liberal Free Democrats put up a similar sign. The district attorney said then that the action was "unsuitable and discriminatory but not criminal." The party failed to pass the 5% barrier required for parliamentary representation. -- Sharon Fisher

OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR MINORITIES IN SLOVAKIA.
Max van der Stoel arrived in Slovakia on 11 November for a two-day visit following his trip to Hungary last week, Slovak dailies reported. His recommendations concerning the Hungarian minority issue in Slovakia were submitted to the Slovak government last August, and the government's answer--which was received in October--is now publicly available. According to van der Stoel, Slovakia should pass a law enabling the use of minority languages for official contexts. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's spokesman said van der Stoel believes "more loyalty from the Hungarian minority toward the Slovak state is needed." -- Anna Siskova

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE CONTINUE.
Parliamentary deputy Frantisek Gaulieder, who last week left the parliamentary caucus of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), on 11 November accused the secret service of spying on him. In an interview with Austrian TV, Gaulieder--one of the HZDS's founding members--said Meciar's cabinet "has been striving for the full seizure of power and the full execution of power in order to dominate society at Meciar's discretion, but this puts an end to democracy." Before he left the HZDS parliamentary caucus, Gaulieder reportedly received threats that his children would be kidnapped. -- Anna Siskova




MUSLIM REFUGEES BATTLE WITH SERBS.
A Dutch UN police monitor and a man said to be a Bosnian Serb were wounded in an exchange of gunfire between Muslim returnees and Serbs in the town of Koraj in northeastern Bosnia on 11 November, international and local agencies reported. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said the shooting broke out when some 500 Muslims attempted to return to their homes across the inter-entity boundary line. Muslim refugees who tried to return to their village, Gajevi, said the Serbs shot at them with pistols, rifles, and grenades. The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA, for its part, said the Muslims attacked the village with grenades and light infantry fire. According to a Muslim refugee, Bosnian Serbs early on 12 November shelled the village of Gajevi, injuring two people, AFP reported. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski blamed Bosnian Serbs and Croats for blocking refugee returns across Bosnia, but he also said spontaneous returns were not welcome. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MASS GRAVE YIELDS 244 BODIES; MORE EXPECTED.
Bosnian government experts have unearthed 244 corpses of mostly Muslim civilians from one of Bosnia's biggest known mass graves near the town of Kljuc in northwestern Bosnia and expect to find about 50 more, international agencies reported. The Lanste cave was in Bosnian-Serb territory until late last year, when it was recaptured by the Bosnian Army. Some 700 people remain unaccounted for in the area of Kljuc. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SACKED BOSNIAN SERB COMMANDERS REFUSE TO GO.
The top Republika Srpska military leaders--including indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic--have rejected the civilian leadership's attempt to fire them, CNN reported on 12 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 November 1996). Ousted Gen. Zdravko Tolimir told NATO representatives that they must continue to go through him rather than through the new appointees when IFOR deals with the Bosnian Serb military, news agencies reported. The cashiered leaders enjoy solid backing within the ranks, Nasa Borba wrote. The civilian authorities nonetheless claimed that the officer corps had accepted the sackings, AFP reported. The rivalry between the established military brass--with their strong ties to Belgrade--and the civilians based in Pale is of long standing. -- Patrick Moore

VOTERS TO GO BACK TO THE POLLS IN FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA.
Returns from municipal elections in Serbia show that of the 7,670 seats available republic-wide (excluding Belgrade), only 2,067 were filled after first-round balloting on 3 November. Thus far, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) has taken 59% of the total seats decided. Runoffs are slated for 17 November, and independent media reports, such as Nasa Borba's 12 November article "The SPS Is Frightening Voters With Lies," continue highlighting opposition concerns that the upcoming balloting will be marred by irregularities. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN UPDATE.
Dragoljub Stosic, head of the Belgrade municipal transit union, has been released from prison, Beta reported on 8 November. Stosic was arrested on the night of 28-29 October when Belgrade police, including paramilitaries in combat gear, broke up a transit strike. Stosic had been arrested on charges of inciting strike violence, and his attorneys had twice appealed unsuccessfully for his release. In other news, Nasa Borba on 12 November reported Yugoslav succession talks will resume in Brussels on 12-13 November. -- Stan Markotich

SLOVENIAN ELECTION FINAL.
Premier Janez Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) won the most votes and seats in Slovenia's 10 November general elections, claiming 27.05% of the popular vote and 25 seats. His former coalition partners, the Christian Democratic Party (SKD) and the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), did relatively poorly; both have lost popular support and parliamentary seats. Meanwhile, Marjan Podobnik's rightist Slovenian People's Party (SLS) won the second-largest amount of seats with 19, and Janez Jansa's ultraconservative Social Democrats (SDSS) took 16 seats. On 11 November, Podobnik, whose objectives include slowing down Slovenia's integration into the EU and NATO, said that a coalition of rightist parties could control 46 of the 90 legislative seats, effectively keeping the LDS out of power, Reuters reported. "I expect to become the next prime minister," he said. Delo, however, hinted Drnovsek may be angling for a coalition of the LDS, SLS, and SKD, which would control 53 seats. -- Stan Markotich

VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN MACEDONIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
Supporters of the nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (IMRO-DPNME) on 9 November clashed with supporters of an independent candidate for mayor of Skopje, the Roma politician Amdi Bajrami, in the Skopje neighborhood of Cair, which is mainly inhabited by ethnic Turks, Albanians, and Roma, Nova Makedonija reported on 12 November. Two IMRO--DPNME candidates for the Cair municipal council were seriously injured in the fight. Supporters of both sides attacked each other, some of them using baseball bats, when both sides tried to put up campaign posters for the 17 November local elections. Each sides blamed the incident on the other. Police did not report the fight until 11 November in an attempt to prevent an escalation. -- Stefan Krause

RIVALS IN ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE DUEL ON TV.
Incumbent President Ion Iliescu and his countercandidate in the presidential run-off, Emil Constantinescu, held a debate on 11 November on the private TV station Antena 1, Reuters reported. Iliescu repeated his accusations against the newly formed center-right governmental alliance, claiming that a program proposed by Constantinescu's Democratic Convention of Romania to cut taxes and improve social benefits is unworkable. Constantinescu held Iliescu responsible for the corruption present at all levels of the administration. According to some observers, Iliescu is desperate to retain power after seven years as president, while most of his former allies are turning their backs on him. Left-winger Tudor Mohora and ultra-nationalist Gheorghe Funar both support Constantinescu as the "least bad" of the two. -- Zsolt Mato

ROMANIAN LIBERALS PREPARE FOR UNIFICATION.
Leaders of five liberal formations on 11 November signed a protocol on the need for unity in Romania's liberal movement, Radio Bucharest reported. The five parties are the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention, the National Liberal Party, the National Liberal Party-Campeanu (named after its leader, Radu Campeanu), the Liberal Party '93, and the Civic Alliance Party. A commission will be set up to prepare the unification, which is expected to take place in the first half of 1997. Representatives of the Party of Romanian National Unity and the Green Alternative Party-Ecologists also expressed interest in joining a future liberal bloc. -- Dan Ionescu

PHONE-TAPPING SCANDAL MARS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
Moldova's incumbent President Mircea Snegur called for an investigation into the tapping of a telephone conversation involving his election campaign chief, Infotag reported on 11 November. In a strongly worded statement, Snegur described the incident as a gross violation of the constitution and asked the General Prosecutor's Office to take action against those guilty of broadcasting as well as of taping the illegal recording. On 8 November, national TV aired a conversation between Nicolae Andronic, Snegur's campaign chief, and Alexandru Burian, Moldova's ambassador to Germany. The two were discussing how to ensure a maximum of publicity for Burian's recent revelations of alleged financial irregularities at the Foreign Ministry. The tape was reportedly sent to the Teleradio company by two members of Snegur's security service. Observers believe that the action was aimed at damaging Snegur's re-election chances. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS MEET TO DECIDE FATE OF PREMIER.
A plenary meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Supreme Council and the BSP parliamentary deputies began on the afternoon of 11 November, RFE/RL and local media reported. Initially called to discuss the presidential election loss, the meeting will probably decide the political future of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, who asked the party for a confidence vote as premier. Discussions went on for almost 20 hours and showed a deep split between those supporting Videnov and those asking for a new government. Participants said they do not expect big changes before a party congress in December or January. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski announced that he will vote against Videnov, while Nikolay Kamov, chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Politics Committee, resigned from the BSP Executive Bureau to protest a likely vote for Videnov. -- Stefan Krause

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN GREECE.
Leonid Kuchma on 11 November arrived in Athens for a two-day official visit, ITAR-TASS and Western media reported. Kuchma met with his Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos, and with Prime Minister Kostas Simitis. Simitis and Kuchma initialed a Ukrainian-Greek friendship treaty. Kuchma stressed the need for economic and security cooperation and said NATO should sign agreements both with countries willing to join the alliance and with those who do not want to "in order to avoid a new division of Europe." Simitis said Greece backs Ukraine's efforts to find "its own place in the new world order." -- Stefan Krause



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