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Newsline - November 14, 1996


DUMA MAKES PROGRESS ON GOVERNMENT BILL.
The State Duma approved a bill defining the legal basis for the government's activities in the second of three readings by a vote of 344-2 with one abstention, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 14 November. The bill contains several features strengthening the Duma that President Boris Yeltsin does not support. It would give the Duma the right to approve the prime minister's dismissal as well as his nomination; remove the power ministers from direct presidential subordination and place them under the immediate control of the prime minister; and require the prime minister and other ministers to attend Duma sessions if they are asked to do so. All of the parliamentary factions supported the bill except for Yabloko, whose leader, Grigorii Yavlinskii, said the measure does not give the Duma sufficient oversight powers over the government, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Robert Orttung

POLAND, RUSSIA SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS.
Delegations led by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Polish counterpart, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, signed a package of intergovernmental agreements in Moscow on 13 November, including one on liberalizing bilateral trade, and another settling mutual debts dating back to the Soviet era, Russian media reported. Chernomyrdin termed the agreements of "crucial importance" for bilateral economic relations, and predicted that Russian-Polish trade would reach about $4 billion this year, up from $3.2 billion in 1995. Russian Minister of Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov said the trade liberalization agreement paved the way for a free trade zone with Poland, but Polish officials worry that such an arrangement might hamper their efforts to join the EU. -- Scott Parrish

LUKASHENKA SUGGESTS JOINT OPPOSITION TO NATO.
In his controversial speech to the State Duma on 13 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 November 1996), Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka proposed that Russia and Belarus jointly take "adequate measures" to oppose NATO expansion, Russian and Western media reported. Lukashenka suggested that the remaining SS-25 ICBMs in Belarus not be removed until NATO guarantees that nuclear weapons will not be deployed on the territory of any new Eastern European member. Blaming "misconceptions" about Belarus spread by the Russian media for hampering the progress of Russian-Belarusian integration, he claimed that Belarus is not an economic drain on Russia, that economic reforms are proceeding, and that his government respects human rights. -- Scott Parrish

RYBKIN AGAIN SUGGESTS JOINING NATO.
In an interview published in the 12 November edition of the weekly Itogi, Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin again suggested that Russia join NATO's political structures. He said that "the position of France would be fully acceptable for us," adding that Moscow could join the alliance's military structures at a later date. Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin commented that Rybkin's suggestion is not "practical," since NATO has shown no sign that it wants to invite Russia to become a full member. A similar suggestion by Rybkin on 30 October drew a harsh rebuff from Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 November 1996). -- Scott Parrish

DUMA DECLARES TRANSDNIESTRIA "STRATEGIC ZONE."
The Duma adopted a resolution, 284-29, declaring the breakaway Transdniestria region of Moldova a "zone of special strategic interest for Russia," ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. Citing NATO's plans to expand eastward, the resolution called on President Yeltsin and the Federation Council to consider establishing a permanent Russian military base in the region. It also called on the Russian government to negotiate cultural, economic, and military agreements with the self-proclaimed Transdniester republic, and provide it with economic aid. Moldova has repeatedly rejected attempts by Moscow to establish a permanent military base in the region. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA VOTES FOR INCREASE IN MINIMUM PENSION.
The Russian parliament's lower house voted on 13 November to raise the minimum pension by 10% as of 1 November, RTR and ORT reported. The minimum pension, which was last increased in May, currently stands at 69,500 rubles ($12.70) a month. The Duma's previous attempt to increase pension payments was rejected by the Federation Council on the grounds that the rise would be too expensive. According to a representative of the indebted Pension Fund, the latest projected increase would cost an additional 816 billion rubles a month. At the beginning of November, the fund owed pensioners about 16 trillion rubles in back payments. -- Penny Morvant in Moscow

BEREZOVSKII ADMITS HE HELD ISRAELI CITIZENSHIP.
While flying from Tbilisi to Almaty, Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii admitted that he received Israeli citizenship in 1994, Kommersant-Daily reported on 14 November. After being appointed to the Security Council, he said, he had asked the Israeli Foreign Ministry to annul his citizenship. Soon after Berezovskii's appointment, Izvestiya and Komsomolskaya pravda questioned whether it is appropriate for a person with dual citizenship to hold high office. While never explicitly denying that he was an Israeli citizen, Berezovskii threatened to sue the papers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 November 1996). -- Laura Belin

ZYUGANOV ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov is campaigning actively for opposition gubernatorial candidates in regions where he did well in the presidential election. Along with two prominent figures from his Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia -- Duma Deputy Nikolai Ryzhkov and Vasilii Starodubtsev of the Agrarian Party -- Zyuganov flew to Stavropol Krai on 14 November to campaign on behalf of Duma Deputy Aleksandr Chernogorov, ITAR-TASS reported. Chernogorov is the favorite to win the 17 November Stavropol runoff election. On 12 November, Zyuganov stumped for Ivan Ivanov, a candidate in the 17 November gubernatorial election in Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug (in the Baikal area). In July, Zyuganov beat President Yeltsin in Stavropol by 54% to 41% and only lost narrowly to Yeltsin in Ust-Orda Buryat by 49% to 47%. -- Laura Belin

LARGE PART OF VLADIVOSTOK LEFT WITHOUT HEAT.
A significant part of Vladivostok, including more than 30 kindergartens, schools, and clinics, has been left without heat since 11 November, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 November. A steam-line rupture in the city's heating system destroyed more than 300 yards of pipe at a time when night temperatures in the region drop well below freezing. --
Nikolai Iakoubovski

OIL FOUND IN SOUTH TYUMEN OBLAST.
The Senior Geologist of the Tyumennedra firm, Vladimir Rudenko, announced the discovery of a promising oil field in the southern part of Tyumen Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported 14 November. He claimed that the oil is much closer to the surface in the new Nizhne-Keumskii field than the deposits in the northern part of the oblast. Until now there were no known reserves in Tyumen's south. The oil and gas rich Khanty-Mansii and Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrugs, which make up the northern part of the oblast, are seeking to secede from the poorer southern region to gain control over a greater portion of the tax revenues produced by the oil and gas production. -- Robert Orttung

ALMAZY ROSSII-SAKHA THREATENS TO SUE GOVERNMENT.
The president of Yakutiya (Sakha), Mikhail Nikolaev, and the chairman of Russia's major producer and exporter of raw diamonds Almazy Rossii-Sakha (ARS), Vyacheslav Shtyrov, have said that ARS is prepared to sue the federal government, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 November. The company rejects the government's accusations that it is breaching tax and foreign currency laws and concealing its profits (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 November 1996). The company says the charges may damage the company's business reputation and delay the signing of a final agreement with South Africa's De Beers. In 1995, ARS's net profit (of which the Russian government was entitled to receive 32%) totaled 1.5 trillion rubles ($330 million). -- Natalia Gurushina

FEDERATION COUNCIL DISCUSSES ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.
First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov said in a 13 November address to the Federation Council that although the government has found money to repay wage arrears in the energy sector and the army, it is still unable to meet a timetable for repaying pensions and wages to budgetary organizations, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 November. Regional leaders criticized the government for the lack of an anti-crisis program and called on the regions to draft their own economic program. The Council also rejected an amendment to the 1996 budget to increase subsidies to northern regions (on the grounds that it is unclear how money is spent in those regions due to poor accounting practices) and a bill on protecting Russia's economic interests in foreign trade (on the grounds that it contradicts WTO regulations). -- Natalia Gurushina

TAX POLICE ACTIVE IN THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR.
From January through September, the Federal Tax Police managed to secure some 30 trillion rubles ($6 billion) in payments to the consolidated budget, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 November. Police officials said tax evasion in 1996 commonly took the form of entrepreneurs refusing to register their businesses. The State Tax Agency has threatened nine companies with bankruptcy if they do not pay their tax arrears. They are: Norilskgazprom (580 billion rubles), Tebukneft (130 billion rubles), Berezovskaya Power Station (94 billion rubles), Avtodizel (87 billion rubles), Karelskii Okatysh (58 billion rubles), Krasnyi Oktyabr (56 billion rubles), Sokol (54 billion rubles), Vakhrushevrazrezugol (50 billion rubles), and Severokuzbassugol (33 billion rubles). -- Natalia Gurushina



CONFLICTING REPORTS ON LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA.
Armenia's 10 November local elections, which were boycotted by the opposition, were marred by serious irregularities, according to Noyan Tapan. A group of candidates has lodged complaints of electoral law violations at some polling stations with Interior and National Security Minister Serzh Sarkisyan. Voter turnout in one of the Yerevan districts was as low as 27%. Meanwhile, a Council of Europe observer group released a statement describing the ballot as free and fair, adding that the irregularities did not affect the results. -- Emil Danielyan

U.S. DELEGATION VISITS BAKU.
A U.S. government delegation headed by James Collins, special advisor to the U.S. secretary of state on the newly independent states, and the U.S. special envoy to the OSCE Minsk Group, Joseph Presel, held talks in Baku on 13 November with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov and President Heidar Aliev, ITAR-TASS reported. Collins expressed concern that the disputed status of the Caspian Sea could jeopardize several major oil consortiums; Hasanov assured him that Azerbaijan's laws "guarantee the safety of foreign companies." Collins handed Aliyev a message from U.S. President Bill Clinton expressing hope that a document on conditions for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be signed during the December OSCE heads of state summit in Lisbon. -- Liz Fuller

NAZARBAYEV RECEIVES BEREZOVSKII . . .
Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii in Almaty on 13 November to discuss economic relations and Chechnya, Kazakstani media reported. Kazakstan is no longer interested in sharing the burden of reconstructing the Chechen economy, and will most likely withdraw support pledged earlier. Despite the fact that the Caspian Sea's legal status was not on the agenda for the meeting, Russian media were quick to link the visit of the former Russian tycoon to the recent agreements signed by Caspian littoral states. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

. . . AND AWARD FROM ORTHODOX CHURCH.
Nazarbayev has been awarded the First Degree Order of Duke Dmitriy of Moscow, one of the highest awards of the Orthodox Church, Kazakstani TV media reported on 13 November. The order was bestowed on behalf of Moscow Patriarch Aleksii II in appreciation of the "historical justice" that has been "re-established by the Kazakstani president in his republic" and to mark the 125th anniversary of the Turkmen diocese. Nazarbayev, who returned hundreds of buildings to the Orthodox Church that were seized by the Soviet authorities, is the first Central Asian leader to receive such an award. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

UZBEK PRESIDENT CONCLUDES BELGIAN VISIT.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov ended a two-day visit to Belgium on 13 November that included a series of high-level meetings with EU and NATO officials to discuss Uzbekistan's involvement in the Partnership for Peace program and other issues, Russian and Western media reported. According to Uzbek officials, Karimov met with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and discussed the situation in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Before leaving, Karimov met with Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene to discuss bilateral relations. -- Roger Kangas

MONETARY CRISIS WORSENS IN UZBEKISTAN.
Uzbek commercial banks were severely criticized at an 11 November session of the parliamentary Budget, Banking, and Financial Affairs Committee, Halq sozi reported on 12 November. Calling the banks "irresponsible," the committee noted that they are not abiding by recent decrees enumerating the monetary transactions that a bank may engage in. As part of an effort to curb the drop in the som's value, the Uzbek government has initiated a series of measures that effectively restrict access to hard currencies. The report noted, however, that the guidelines are difficult to enforce and 432 million soms worth of violations have occurred in recent weeks. -- Roger Kangas



CORRECTION:
An item in the 4 November 1996 issue of the OMRI Daily Digest titled "Ukraine Tightens Citizenship Requirements" should have said that the Ukrainian Parliament had only preliminarily approved a new bill on citizenship that would bar dual citizenship in the country. The bill must still be approved in a second reading before the changes go into effect.

NEW GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY ESTABLISHED IN UKRAINE.
President Leonid Kuchma signed a decree establishing the State Information Agency of Ukraine (DINAU) under the auspices of the country's revamped Ministry of Information, Ukrainian TV reported on 13 November. The new agency will be formed on the basis of the government's information agency, which has officially been disbanded. Earlier this year, Kuchma merged the old state news agency Ukrinform with the former Ministry of Information and the Press to create a new ministry, headed by the conservative Zinovii Kulyk. The president's decree also places the State Committee on TV and Radio under the new ministry's jurisdiction. In other news, the Ukrainian Parliament has ordered the government to stop fining citizens for delinquent rent and utilities payments until it pays off its huge debt for public-sector wages and pensions, Ukrainian TV reported on 13 November. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS UKRAINE.
Hungarian President Arpad Goncz began a three-day official visit to Ukraine on 14 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Goncz will visit Uzhhorod, a Transcarpathian city with a large Hungarian population. He will also discuss economic relations. The Hungarian-Ukrainian trade turnover grew from $300 million in 1993 to $664 million in 1995. Hungarian companies had invested $23.2 million in the Ukrainian economy by the middle of 1996. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

NEW ECONOMY MINISTER FOR BELARUS.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka appointed Uladzimir Shimau as economy minister on 12 November, Reuters reported the next day. Shimau, who has been first deputy economy minister since August 1995, replaced Georgy Badei, who quit in July 1996 after being accused at a Security Council meeting of ruining the economy. Shimau is known as a highly qualified, market-oriented, professional economist who worked closely with the World Bank on an economic program. Lukashenka, however, rejected the program and replaced it with his own version. Shimau was against Lukashenka's proposals to tighten controls on prices and monetary policy and significantly increase monetary emission. (See Russian section for a story on Lukashenka's controversial speech to the Russian State Duma) -- Sergei Solodovnikov

NATO GENERAL PRAISES DEVELOPMENT OF ESTONIAN DEFENSE FORCES.
NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. James Jamerson on 13 November met with Estonian Defense Minister Andrus Oovel and President Lennart Meri, BNS reported. The talks focused on the development of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion, implementation of a Baltic air space surveillance project, and further U.S. assistance to Estonian defense training. Jamerson told a press conference that the development of Estonian defense forces had been spectacular, as they had to start from scratch only a few years ago. -- Saulius Girnius

FORMATION OF NEW LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT.
The Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) and the Christian Democratic Party (LKDP) decided on 13 November to support the candidacies of Vytautas Landsbergis as Seimas chairman and Gediminas Vagnorius as prime minister, Radio Lithuania reported. Vagnorius noted that the number of ministers would be decreased from 19 to 16 and that the LKDP would have three ministers, including Algirdas Saudargas as foreign minister and Ceslovas Stankevicius as defense minister. Noting that he had not yet been formally asked by President Algirdas Brazauskas to form a cabinet, Vagnorius did not reveal the names of the other ministers. -- Saulius Girnius

COMMISSION FINDS INTERIOR MINISTER GUILTY IN OLEKSY AFFAIR.
A Sejm commission on 13 November concluded its 11-month investigation into the role of Polish secret services in gathering materials alleging that former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy spied for the Soviet Union and Russia. The commission said former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski and the State Security Office behaved illegally in gathering materials on Oleksy and in publishing the materials and allegations. Seven members of the commission, representing the ruling coalition, supported the final version of the report; three members were against, one abstained, and one did not vote. The commission initially planned to demand that Milczanowski stand trial before the State Tribunal, which tries cases involving high-ranking officials, but instead it demanded that the minister be held responsible before a common court. In April, a military prosecutor had said he found no proof of the allegations against Oleksy. (See Russian section for the story on Prime Minister Cimoszewicz's visit in Moscow.) -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH TALK SHOW HOST ACCUSED OF LIBEL.
The Gdansk prosecutor announced that an investigation will soon begin into allegations that Wojciech Cejrowski, the host of a recently canceled popular television show, WC Kwadrans, publicly defamed President Aleksander Kwasniewski in Gdansk, Polish media reported on 14 November. Gazeta Wyborcza reported that Cejrowski, invited to Gdansk on 5 November by the extra-parliamentary opposition Movement for Poland's Reconstruction, told an audience of several hundred: "Kwasniewski, who can't always stand straight on his legs, is profaning the presidential office with his fat ass." Cejrowski faces a prison sentence of 6 months to 8 years if convicted. -- Beata Pasek

NEW HEAD OF CZECH INTELLIGENCE NOT FOUND YET.
The Czech government on 13 November accepted the resignation of Czech Intelligence Service (BIS) Director Stanislav Devaty but was unable to appoint a new permanent director, Czech media reported. Devaty resigned on 11 November after Christian Democratic Union Chairman Josef Lux accused the BIS of following him. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus had warned on 12 December that there was not enough consensus among the coalition parties as to who the new head should be. The government asked Defense Minister Miloslav Vyborny, Internal Affairs Minster Jan Ruml, and Minister without Portfolio Pavel Bratinka to come up with a nomination for a new director as soon as possible. A BIS department director, Jaroslav Jira, has been asked to head the agency until a new director is found. -- Jiri Pehe

MORE MONEY FOR SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE.
The Slovak information service (SIS) will get more than 990 million crowns ($33 million) next year under the budget approved on 12 November by the government, Sme reported on 14 November. If the parliament approves the budget, SIS will be one of the few agencies to receive more money. The SIS received 759 million crowns for 1996 but had already overstepped the limit by 20 million crowns by the end of September. Linked with the kidnapping of the president's son, the SIS plays an uncertain role on the Slovak political scene. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN OIL COMPANY TURNS AGAINST RUSSIAN PARTNER.
A senior official at the Hungarian Oil and Gas Company (MOL) on 13 November criticized Panrusgaz for its intention to sell natural gas to large-scale consumers from a new pipeline that is being built through Hungary, Hungarian dailies reported. MOL officials insist that they have been given the exclusive right to sell and distribute gas on the domestic market. Panrusgaz is a joint venture between MOL and the Russian giant Gazprom, with 50% ownership each. Panrusgaz head Mikhail Rahimkhulov was quoted in the daily Nepszabadsag on 13 November as saying the joint venture would sell gas 15-20% cheaper than MOL. In reaction, MOL officials said that Russian and Hungarian interministerial agreements guarantee that the new pipeline will be built, owned, and operated by MOL. They added that Panrusgaz could sell 1 billion cubic meters of gas to Hungarian consumers from the pipeline, but only through MOL. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

NO PROGRESS IN HUNGARY'S NEGOTIATIONS WITH WTO.
No substantial headway has been made between the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the World Trade Organization (WTO) over a major dispute concerning Hungarian agricultural export subsidies, Hungarian media reported on 13 November. Hungary has been trying to convince Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and the U.S. -- the six WTO member states that filed a complaint against Hungary -- to allow the government to continue subsidizing its deficit-ridden, but large export-revenue-producing sector. During the Uruguay round of the GATT negotiations, Hungary undertook to reduce subsidies on agriculture exports but made its calculations on the basis of erroneous data. The six countries subsequently filed a complaint with the WTO, saying that Hungarian agriculture subsidies were well above the levels set by WTO and agreed upon by Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



RETURN OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES SUSPENDED.
IFOR, the UN police, the UNHCR, and the office of High Representative Carl Bildt announced a temporary halt to the return of refugees to their homes in the zone of separation, Oslobodjenje and Nasa Borba reported on 14 November. That effectively means that Muslims who have been trying to go back to villages on Serb-held territory will not be allowed to do so, although that is their right under the Dayton agreement. The suspension is aimed at defusing tensions in the now-quiet area around Celic and Koraj in northeast Bosnia, where the worst fighting since the Dayton was signed took place at the start of the week. IFOR said that both sides are to blame and both sides brought weapons into a demilitarized area, but it added that the Muslims shot first. The Muslims are nonetheless determined to go home, Nasa Borba noted. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told both sides not to resume fighting but added that the refugees do have a right to go home, VOA reported. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB MILITARY "IN A GHETTO."
IFOR and the Republika Srpska police have sealed off the Bosnian Serb army's command center in Han Pijesak. An army spokesman told Nasa Borba of 14 November that the troops loyal to cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic felt like they had been "occupied" or put "in a ghetto." The spokesman added that harassment of Mladic loyalists has become "a daily occurrence." He said that people in Han Pijesak suspect that IFOR's goal is to take Mladic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague but insisted: "We will not allow them to take our commander there, not at any price." -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB INDEPENDENT RADIO TAKEN OFF THE AIR.
Bosnian Serb police on 13 November shut down the Banja Luka station Radio Krajina, the station close to sacked military leader Ratko Mladic, AFP reported. Police confiscated the station's transmitter. Radio Krajina was run by Lt. Col. Milovan Milutinovic, formerly Mladic's spokesman, who was also among Bosnian Serb army officers dismissed on 9 November by Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic. The radio station began broadcasting in summer 1995, after the Muslim-Croat military allies took back from the Serbs several territories in western Bosnia. Radio Krajina was critical of the Bosnian Serb ruling party and authorities. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS PARLIAMENT OVER ZAGREB COUNCIL ROW.
Opposition deputies walked out of the Croatian parliament on 13 November after their proposal on how to solve the crisis over the Zagreb city council was turned down, international and local media reported. Opposition parties decided to start a 30-day boycott of parliament and continue boycotting the Zagreb city council. They also appealed to the city council opposition deputies to resign. If that happens, new elections will be necessary unless President Franjo Tudjman appoints a governor, according to Ivica Racan, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The opposition coalition outpolled the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in municipal elections a year ago, but Tudjman dissolved the Zagreb city council after turning down the opposition candidates for Zagreb mayor four times. Tudjman appointed one of his associates as mayor, but the majority in the city council refused to accept her. Racan said the Zagreb crisis is turning into a parliament crisis, Novi List reported on 14 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic

YUGOSLAV SUCCESSION TALKS HIT A SNAG.
No breakthroughs took place as the latest round of talks on succession to the former Yugoslavia wound down in Brussels on 13 November, Nasa Borba reported the following day. Already on 12 November it had become clear that the delegation from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not share the other states' definition of what constituted state property of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Tanjug reported. Belgrade continues to maintain that all properties may fall under scrutiny and claim, while Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia feel that only assets once legally owned by the federal socialist authorities may be divided. -- Stan Markotich

BELGRADE PROMOTES CITIZENS' RIGHTS.
The federal Yugoslav delegation to the Yugoslav succession talks, headed by Kosta Mihajlovic, said "that all citizens of the former federation who are now citizens of newly formed states in the territory of former Yugoslavia ought to be allowed access to archives and personal files, and be issued documents ... necessary for regulating their status and rights in their new states." Mihajlovic added that Belgrade "expects" the other successor states to give citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia "the same treatment." -- Stan Markotich

ILIESCU BEHIND IN LATEST ELECTION POLL.
President Ion Iliescu is trailing challenger Emil Constantinescu, Romanian media reported on 14 November. A poll conducted between 6-10 November gives Constantinescu 52.8% and Iliescu 47.2%. Almost a quarter of the voters are still undecided. A series of four television debates ends on 14 November, the last day of campaigning; the presidential run-off is on 17 November. After a debate on 12 November, supporters of the two candidates clashed in front of private TV station PRO TV. Dan Iosif, Iliescu's adviser, was seriously injured in the incident and had to undergo surgery. Reuters reported that at the final rally for Constantinescu, on 13 November, Constantinescu called for Iliescu to be ousted and described him as "the sole source of imbalance in [Romania]." -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PREMIER TO RESIGN IF HE LOSES ELECTION.
Andrei Sangheli on 13 November said he will resign if he is defeated in the 17 November presidential election, Infotag reported, quoting CIS's Mir radio station. Yet Sangheli left the door open for a later change of mind. He said that he must make any decision about his future together with his party, the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. When asked about his own post-electoral career, Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi, who is also running for president, gave a diplomatic answer: "This is just a political struggle. It should not become a life-and-death one." An opinion poll conducted three days ahead of the election shows incumbent President Mircea Snegur leading with 34%, followed by Sangheli with 30% and Lucinschi with 18%. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS.
Georgi Pirinski resigned on 13 November, RFE/RL and local media reported. Pirinski said he left the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov because it "no longer enjoys the necessary minimum confidence" of the people. Pirinski blamed the government for failing to carry out a coherent economic reform. He said he will work as a parliamentary deputy and actively help organize the extraordinary Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) congress in late December. Pirinski, a social democratic reformist who was repeatedly mentioned as a possible successor to Videnov as prime minister, is one of Videnov's strongest critics within the BSP. He voted against the premier at the BSP plenary meeting on 11-12 November. Videnov said a new foreign minister will be named by the end of December. Until then, First Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova will be acting foreign minister under Videnov's direct supervision. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PRESSES FOR EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
The National Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) decided on 12 November to press for early parliamentary elections at the earliest possible date, coordinating its moves with other opposition parties and trade unions, SDS Deputy Chairwoman Nadezhda Mihaylova told Darik Radio. Meanwhile, Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" leader Konstantin Trenchev in an open letter asked outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev to resign early and let President-elect Petar Stoyanov take office before 22 January. Trenchev said he is driven by consideration to "speed up the democratic process" in Bulgaria. Zhelev's spokesman said that Trenchev's move only helps the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, as early parliamentary elections need long-term preparation that has probably not been made. -- Maria Koinova

GERMAN PREUSSAG TO BUY ALBANIAN CHROME.
The Albanian government has decided to sell 80% of the state-owned chrome company Albkromi to the German company Preussag, Koha Jone reported on 14 November. Preussag is expected to invest up to $100 million over five years on the mines and processing plants in Bulqize, Ternova, Batra, Burrel, and Klos. Albkromi suffers from outdated equipment and falling world market prices for chrome ore. In the 1980s Albania was the world's fifth-largest chrome producer, processing 1.1 million tons in 1989. In 1995, production was only 246,000 tons. Preussag will also upgrade infrastructure in the mining districts. -- Fabian Schmidt

SUSPECTED BANK ROBBER ARRESTED.
Tirana judge Flora Cabej on 10 November ordered the arrest pending trial of Adhurim Beqiraj, a suspected bank robber. Nine people participated in a robbery in Vlora earlier in the year in which $160,000 was stolen from a bank. The 29-year-old Beqiraj is charged in connection with investigations against the Revenge of Justice terrorist group. Beqiraj denies the allegations, but prosecutor Isa Jata said other arrested Revenge of Justice members have fingered him, Albania reported on 12 November. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled that communist dictator Enver Hoxha's son-in-law, Klement Kolaneci, has to stay in prison pending investigations. Kolaneci is also charged with being a Revenge of Justice member, Dita Informacion reported on 12 November. -- Fabian Schmidt





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