YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL; ZYUGANOV DOUBTS HIS STRENGTH.
Yeltsin left the Central Clinical Hospital for the Barvikha sanitarium on 22
November, ITAR-TASS reported. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov,
however, charged that the president has not made enough progress. "Anyone who
knows anything about medicine knows that after three heart attacks, five
bypasses, and with concerns about a number of other organs, a person cannot
work at full strength," Reuters quoted him as saying. Zyuganov noted that in a
crisis, Yeltsin might have to work around the clock. -- Robert Orttung
CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST MEETING.
Council, which is supposed to bring together the president, prime minister, and
the speakers of both houses, met for the first time on 21 November to discuss
Belarus and Chechnya, Russian TV (RTR) reported. Presidential Chief of Staff
Anatolii Chubais sat in for President Yeltsin, and Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev attended even though on 30 October he had announced he would not
attend any council meetings in which Chubais replaced Yeltsin. He said the
importance of the Belarusian situation made him change his mind. Security
Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Our Home Is Russia
Duma faction leader Sergei Belyaev, and Liberal Democratic Party representative
Stanislav Zhebrovskii attended as well. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and
Zyuganov did not participate, although they were invited. After the meeting,
Chernomyrdin, Seleznev, and Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev flew to
Minsk. -- Robert Orttung
IZVESTIYA ACCUSES YELTSIN OF VIOLATING LAW WITH BEREZOVSKII
Izvestiya on 22 November continued its campaign against
Deputy Security Council Secretary Boris Berezovskii, charging that the
president and other executive branch officials violated Russian legislation
prohibiting the appointment of foreign citizens to Russian state bodies.
Berezovskii held Israeli citizenship for the first three weeks of his
appointment the paper charged, asking why the law did not apply to Russia's top
officials. Meanwhile, Moskovskii komsomolets asked if there would be any
investigation into numerous illegal operations which Berezovskii allegedly
conducted as the general director of the auto trading company LogoVAZ. --
TOP POLITICIANS TO BE QUESTIONED OVER LISOVSKII-YEVSTAFEV CASE.
Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov on 21 November ordered his office to
begin a criminal investigation into the 19 June incident in which Yeltsin
campaign aides Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev were stopped by the
Presidential Security Service as they were carrying $538,000 in cash out of
government headquarters, ITAR-TASS reported. The case was previously under the
purview of the Moscow Procurator's Office. The agency quoted "reliable sources"
as saying the investigators plan to question a number of senior figures linked
to the scandal, including Chubais, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Ilyushin,
presidential aide Sergei Krasavchenko, and former Presidential Security Service
chiefs Aleksandr Korzhakov and Valerii Streletskii. Krasavchenko featured along
with Chubais and Ilyushin in a transcript of an alleged conversation of plans
to cover up the incident published by Moskovskii komsomolets, but
Nezavisimaya gazeta speculated on 20 November that the third speaker was
actually Sergei Shakhrai. -- Penny Morvant
RUSSIA DENIES HIRING CIA AGENT.
Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Mikhail Demurin denied that Russia had hired CIA officer Harold
Nicholson to conduct espionage, Russian and Western agencies reported on 21
November. Demurin said "We have no information to confirm the report" that
Nicholson had worked as Moscow's paid agent. Referring to U.S. threats of
retaliation, Demurin warned against "any attempt to artificially complicate
Russian-U.S. relations under any pretext." The same day, however, a federal
grand jury in Virginia found the evidence against Nicholson convincing enough
to return an indictment against him on charges of conspiring to spy for Russia.
-- Scott Parrish
OMON SOLDIERS STILL CAPTIVE.
The two OMON soldiers who were
taken hostage by Chechen gunmen on 20 November (see OMRI Daily Digest,
21 November 1996) remain captive, NTV reported on 21 November. The field
commander holding them will free them only after three of his men are released
from federal custody. Chechen officials, including acting President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev, however, did convince the same field commander to release two
International Red Cross workers whom he had also been holding hostage. A
Chechen member of the Grozny joint command said such incidents would likely
recur, since many Chechen field commanders want their men who were captured by
federal forces to be released, but federal authorities regard these prisoners
as criminals. Meanwhile, bad weather delayed Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin's arrival in Nazran, Ingushetiya, where he is scheduled to discuss the
planned Russian-Chechen treaty with Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi
Udugov -- Scott Parrish
MORE MIXED SIGNALS ON NATO.
Speaking after a Versailles session
of the North Atlantic Assembly, Duma Deputy Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin said
Moscow "must become accustomed" to the idea that the eastward enlargement of
NATO "is inevitable," ITAR-TASS reported on 21 November. In order to avoid the
emergence of "new dividing lines" in Europe, Shokhin also said NATO enlargement
should be accompanied by a restructuring of other European security
organizations, like the OSCE, and said that arms control agreements like START
II and CFE would need revision as well. He also said that a NATO guarantee not
to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members would help Moscow
accept enlargement. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
told visiting British Defense Minister Michael Portillo that NATO enlargement
would divide Europe, and insisted that the OSCE play the leading role in
European security. -- Scott Parrish
LEBED CONCERNED ABOUT "UNSATISFACTORY" NUCLEAR SAFETY.
Washington on his first visit to the U.S., former Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed warned that the insufficient security measures at Russian
nuclear installations make them vulnerable to terrorist attack and theft. After
a meeting with Senator Richard Lugar, who co-authored legislation aimed at
assisting Russia to upgrade the security and safety of its nuclear facilities,
Lebed said that "any cost is justified" to rectify the situation. The Clinton
administration and the Russian government have officially insisted that the
current safeguards are adequate. Lebed later held a "warm and friendly" meeting
with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Russian press coverage of
Lebed's visit remained derisive. NTV pointedly omitted Lebed's substantive
comments, while ridiculing his statement that he would be willing to re-enter
the government if invited. -- Scott Parrish
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ON TORTURE IN RUSSIA.
In a new report,
"Torture and ill-treatment in Russia," Amnesty International says that decrees
issued by President Yeltsin have made it easier for police to torture and
ill-treat suspects and that ethnic minorities are particularly at risk.
According to an RFE/RL correspondent, Amnesty says it has received numerous
reports of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody and prisons,
and within the context of the Chechen conflict. It specifically criticized
Yeltsin's June 1994 decree against organized crime, which allows the detention
of suspects for up to 30 days without charge, and the July 1996 decree on
combating crime in Moscow that authorizes law enforcement organs to detain
vagrants and homeless people for 30 days. -- Penny Morvant
NEW FUEL CRISIS IN PRIMORE.
The mayor of a city in the Far East
warned his fellow residents on 21 November that they are likely to be evacuated
because of a shortage of fuel for local heating plants, RTR reported. The mayor
of Bolshoi Kamen, a city of 30,000, said supplies would run out on 25 November.
He sent a telegram to Moscow asking for help and appealed to other city
administrations to house Bolshoi Kamen's residents temporarily. According to
ITAR-TASS, stocks of fuel oil at power stations elsewhere in Primore are once
again extremely low. Vladivostok has received 600 metric tons of fuel oil from
the Pacific Fleet, enough to keep one of the two boilers at the city's heat and
power plant in operation, but apartment blocks will receive only enough warm
water to prevent pipes from freezing. -- Penny Morvant
RUSSIA ISSUES EUROBONDS.
Russia has successfully launched its
first $1 billion issue of eurobonds in major international financial markets,
AFP reported on 21 November. Five-year bonds will bear a coupon income of
9.25%. The success of the issue is ascribed to progress in negotiations with
the Paris Club of official creditors and the London Club of commercial
creditors over the rescheduling of Russia's external debt; and the decision
last month of major international credit rating agencies to give Russia its
first credit grades. Also encouraging was the favorable outcome of President
Yeltsin's heart operation and the government's resumption earlier this week of
payments on stolen state foreign currency bonds (OVVZ) that were frozen in
June. Russian authorities plan a series of similar issues in 1997 expecting to
raise $1.3 billion for the federal budget. The eurobond issue may now pave the
way to the international financial markets for Russian companies and local
authorities. -- Natalia Gurushina
NET FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES DECLINING.
Russia's net foreign
exchange reserves (NFER) dropped by nearly 30% during the period from the
presidential election until October, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 21
November. In October, NFER stood at $3.2 billion. During the presidential
campaign, Russia sold $4.4 billion of the reserves, which led to the reduction
of the NFER from $8.7 billion to $4.3 billion. According to the report,
Russia's NFER may shrink to $1.9 billion by the beginning of next year.
Meanwhile, Russia's gold output continue to decline. In the first 10 months of
1996, it reached 100 metric tons, 7 tons less than the same period a year
earlier, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 November. As a result, the 1996 federal
budget will not receive some $400-$450 million in tax revenue from the gold
mining industry. -- Natalia Gurushina
GOVERNMENT TO MAINTAIN REFORM COURSE.
The government on 21
November approved an economic program for the 1997-2000 period, Kommersant
Daily reported. It plans to hold inflation below 8% while stimulating a 5%
annual growth in GDP and cutting all budget subsidies (estimated to amount to
8% of GDP, according to Segodnya on 21 November). Meanwhile, a new IMF
team was in Moscow, following up the inconclusive visit of a team in October.
Due to worries over tax collection, the IMF delayed the release of the October
tranche, worth $340 million, of the $10.1 billion Extended Fund Facility
approved in April, and will probably delay the November tranche. Reuters
reported on 22 November that tax revenues rose from 13.5 trillion rubles in
September to 17 trillion in October, and are running at a rate of 25 trillion
(12% of GDP) in November. The reliability of these figures--for example, the
extent to which they reflect actual cash payments rather than "tax credits"--is
unclear. -- Peter Rutland
ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS OPPOSITION APPEAL.
Constitutional Court on 22 November rejected the opposition's appeal to annul
the results of the 22 September controversial presidential election, Reuters
reported, citing ITAR-TASS. Observers note that the decision, which is not
subject to appeal, may trigger a new wave of mass protests by opposition
supporters. Also, commenting on the resolution of the European Parliament
condemning the ballot (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 November 1996), acting
presidential spokesman Levon Zurabyan said "it was based on inaccurate and
unverified data," ITAR-TASS reported on 21 November. -- Emil Danielyan
EU CALLS FOR CANCELLATION OF ABKHAZ ELECTIONS.
The EU has
called on the leadership of Abkhazia to cancel the parliamentary election
slated for 23 November, arguing that it could fuel tensions and violence in the
region, Reuters reported on 22 November. It said the election should take place
only after a final decision on Abkhazia's status within Georgia. According to
ITAR-TASS, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba said the multiethnic composition
of the candidates legitimizes the vote. Ardzinba said he hopes Abkhazia's
ethnic Georgian population will participate in the election. -- Emil
IRANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN VISITS KAZAKSTAN.
The head of the
Iranian Mezhlis, Ali Akbar Notik Nuri, met with Kazakstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev in Almaty on 22 November, Khabar TV reported. Nazarbayev emphasized
Iran's "strategic importance" for Kazakstan and increasing bilateral trade,
especially in view of the recent oil swap agreements signed earlier this year.
Nuri also shared the achievements of the Islamic revolution in Iran, especially
in fighting "pseudo-Western culture." -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty
CABLE TV IN ALMATY.
The joint U.S.-Kazakstani company Alma TV
has announced the launch of the first cable TV station in Almaty,
Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 21 November. About 2,000 cable TV sets will
be installed during the first trial, able to broadcast more than 30 channels.
The company, established by the U.S. International Telcell company and its
Kazakstani partner in 1994, has already been offering satellite TV
retranslating service in Almaty. The first attempt to introduce a cable system
in Almaty in 1992 failed due to low market demand. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty
TAJIK GOVERNMENT FORCES HOLD BACK REBEL ADVANCE.
Ministry forces repelled opposition attacks on military posts in the Khaburabad
Pass on 21 November, according to Reuters and ITAR-TASS. The pass, located 300
km east of Dushanbe, overlooks the main highway running east from the capital.
The Defense Ministry sent a protest to the UN observer mission, stating that
this and similar attacks on Komsomolabad and in the Tavil-Dara area are a clear
violation of the Tehran ceasefire agreement signed in 1994. -- Bruce Pannier
RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN TAJIKISTAN DEMANDS ACTION ON TERRORISM.
Lt.-Gen. Viktor Zavarzin, the commander of the CIS peacekeeping forces in
Tajikistan, sent a note to Tajik law enforcement agencies expressing his
dissatisfaction at their efforts to combat attacks on the CIS force troops,
according to ITAR-TASS on 21 November. Zavarzin's protest comes after the 19
November murder of a Tajik Defense Ministry officer, who was Russian, the
abduction on the same day of the wife of a Russian serviceman, and the shooting
of two soldiers from the 201st Motorized Rifle Division on 20 November. All the
crimes occurred in the Tajik capital Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier
AFGHAN REFUGEES SHOW UP IN TURKMENISTAN.
The Red Cross
announced that 800 people fleeing the fighting in western Afghanistan have
crossed into Turkmenistan, RFE/RL reported on 21 November. Red Cross spokesman
Thorir Gudmundsson said the number could climb to as high as 18,000 if fighting
continues near Herat. At least 50,000 people are estimated to have been
displaced by the fighting in the Badghis province of Afghanistan. -- Bruce
COMPROMISE DEAL HAMMERED OUT IN BELARUS.
Following a night of
negotiations, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and parliamentary speaker Syamyon
Sharetsky have signed an accord, Reuters reported on 22 November. The
negotiations were mediated by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and
the speakers of Russia's two houses of parliament. The agreement states that
the 24 November referendum will not be legally binding and that the parliament
will drop impeachment moves against Lukashenka. It also provides for a
constitutional committee composed of 100 representatives, half of which are to
be chosen by the parliament and the other half by the president. The committee
is to be headed by the president and will be formed over 20 days following the
referendum. Its aim will be to draw up a new constitution based on the results
of the plebiscite. -- Sergei Solodovnikov
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER TAKE HARD LINE ON BUDGET DEFICIT.
Leonid Kuchma and Pavlo Lazarenko have told representatives of some caucuses
that they will fight any attempts by lawmakers to increase social spending and
the 1997 budget deficit, Ukrainian agencies reported on 21 November. Lazarenko
said the government has prepared a package of amendments to the draft 1997
budget that provides for further reductions in social benefits, the laying-off
of civil servants, and tax cuts for Ukrainian industry. Many lawmakers,
including Speaker Oleksander Moroz, have promised to boost social benefits and
increase the projected deficit from 5.8% to as much as 20% of GDP. Lazarenko
said current spending rates and high taxes on industrial enterprises, which
alone owe 1.2 billion hryvnyas ($640 million) in revenues this year, have
resulted in a hidden deficit totaling 8 billion hryvnyas. In other news, the
parliament voted in favor of an amnesty for all coal miners who took part in
illegal mass strikes protesting the public sector wage debt this year. --
ESTONIAN REFORM PARTY QUITS GOVERNMENT AND COALITION.
council of the Reform Party on 21 November voted to leave the ruling coalition
led by Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, Reuters reported. The decision came after
Vahi's Coalition Party and the Center Party signed a cooperation agreement
without first informing the Reform Party. It is expected that Vahi will form a
new government with the Center Party, thereby restoring the alliance that ruled
Estonia in March-October 1995. The coalition had collapsed over a scandal on
illegal surveillance involving then Interior Minister and Center Party leader
Edgar Savisaar. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIA'S PROPERTY BANK RECEIVES OPERATING LICENSE.
Central Bank of Lithuania on 21 November registered joint-stock capital
totaling 83 million litai ($20.75 million) for the Property Bank, BNS reported.
It also issued the new state-owned bank an operating license. The Property Bank
was created to purchase "bad loans" from the Lithuanian Joint-Stock Innovation
Bank, the Savings Bank, and State Commercial Bank at market prices. It will
then manage the loans and sell them. The bank is not allowed to accept deposits
or extend loans. It is expected to terminate its activities within ten years.
-- Saulius Girnius
POLISH SEJM ADOPTS TAX LAW.
The Sejm on 21 November voted in
favor of the tax law approved by the Senate earlier this month, Polish media
reported. Under the new law, income tax rates will range from 20% through 32%
to 44%. Some 280 deputies, mostly from the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance
and opposition Freedom Union, voted in favor;135 deputies, the majority of whom
are members of the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party and opposition parties, voted
against. Thirty-one deputies abstained. -- Jakub Karpinski
SECOND ROUND OF CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS KICKS OFF.
round of the first-ever elections to the upper chamber of the Czech parliament
takes place on 22-23 November. Czech media report that 154 candidates will
compete in 77 run-offs. Only four candidates were elected in the first round.
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party candidates is competing in
76 districts, while the opposition Social Democrats qualified for run-offs in
only 48 districts. Seventeen candidates represent the coalition Christian
Democratic Union, seven the coalition Civic Democratic Alliance, four the
Communists, and one the extraparliamentary Democratic Union. Only one candidate
is independent. In the first round, turnout was less than 35%. Participation in
the second round is not expected to be much higher. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES ON PRIVATIZATION.
Constitutional Court on 21 November ruled that legislation transferring control
over privatization from the government to the National Property Fund (FNM) is
illegal, Slovak media reported. The legislation was approved by the parliament
in November 1994. Since gaining control over privatization, the FNM--all of
whose board members of representatives of the ruling coalition--has rushed to
sell off state property through direct sales, often at prices far below market
value. The sales are often carried out in a secretive way, and the true owners
of certain key firms remain a mystery. Under the 1994 legislation, the
government, the Supreme Supervisory Office, and courts had no control over the
FNM. The court noted that although the 1994 law is illegal, it is impossible to
change privatization decisions that the FNM has since taken. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK NATIONALITIES COUNCIL REJECTS MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW.
government's Nationalities Council on 21 November voted not to recommend the
approval of a draft law on the use of minority languages submitted by ethnic
Hungarian representatives, CTK reported. Following the passage of the state
language law last November, the government promised to submit a minority
language law as well. Jozef Kalman, deputy premier and deputy chairman of the
Nationalities Council, said the majority of the council's members, including
some representatives of national minorities, regard existing legislation as
sufficient. The OSCE, the EU, and other international organizations have all
recommended that a minority language law be approved. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK-RUSSIAN INTERGOVERNMENT COMMISSION CONVENES.
Slovak-Russian intergovernment commission for trade, scientific, and cultural
cooperation met on 21 November in Bratislava to discuss ways to strengthen
bilateral ties, Slovak media reported. Slovak Deputy Premier and Finance
Minister Sergej Kozlik, who is also co-chairman of the commission, told
ITAR-TASS that "Slovakia attaches great importance to the talks. Problems of
developing bilateral trade and of its liberalization unquestionably dominate
the agenda." Also on 21 November, Slovak Defense Minister Jan Sitek arrived in
Moscow to discuss opportunities for cooperation. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY TO INCREASE ENERGY PRICES NEXT YEAR.
The cabinet has
announced that as of 1 January, natural gas will increase by 18.8%, electricity
by 24.9%, and heating by 21.9%, Hungarian dailies reported on 22 November. The
increases guarantee only a 4% annual profit for energy distribution companies.
Earlier, the government pledged to guarantee an 8% profit to energy companies
with foreign ownership. The cabinet also decided to raise pensions by 19.5%
next year and to reduce expenditures in the 1997 budget by 14-14.5 billion
forints to ensure that the public finance deficit does not exceed 4.9% of GDP.
Meanwhile, the National Bank announced it will likely repay $1 billion in
foreign debts ahead of schedule. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BELGRADE RALLIES CONTINUE.
Leaders of the opposition
Zajedno coalition organized another rally in the city center to protest
the regime's alleged tampering with the results of the 17 November local
elections. Nasa Borba on 22 November estimated the rally to be the
largest anti-government demonstration since 9 March 1991, attracting some tens
of thousands of people. No serious incidents were reported. Demonstrators
marched toward the state TV building, where well-armed riot troops could be
seen. Opposition leader Zoran Djindjic summed up the proceedings by remarking
that "this evening, some 100,000 people passed along the main streets of
Belgrade, and all was peaceful." -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade
OFFICIAL MEDIA COVERAGE OF FEDERAL YUGOSLAV LOCAL ELECTIONS.
RTS I news on 21 November intimated that the main aim of the demonstrations
was to incite mob violence and "terrorism." The broadcast also noted that while
the protest leaders claimed to "defend democracy..., their [actions] and
tactics serve only to undermine it." Meanwhile, Vecernje novosti on 21
November reported that the local election authorities consider the ruling
Socialists to have won a majority of municipal council seats in Nis, a town
earlier claimed by Zajedno. The daily observed that the situation in
Uzice, which also initially seemed to have gone to the opposition, was
dead-locked and would be resolved in a third round. At an earlier rally in Nis,
opposition leader Vuk Draskovic expressed fears that the Socialists would
engage in massive electoral fraud to win the city (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 20 November 1996). Meanwhile, Radio B-92 has reported that
Draskovic's wife has been kidnapped. Draskovic has accused President Slobodan
Milosevic of involvement. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade
100,000 DEMONSTRATE IN ZAGREB FOR RADIO.
One of the largest
mass meetings in Croatian history took place on 21 November in Zagreb's central
Jelacic square. Protesters representing a broad cross-section of society showed
their support for independent Radio 101, which had lost its license the day
before (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 November 1996). The authorities had
meanwhile restored the license in the course of the day, but the crowds turned
out in the evening anyway. What began as a protest in favor of freedom of
speech turned into one for democracy as well. The independent daily Novi
List wrote on 22 November of a "revolution in the air waves." It added that
a wave of protests from foreign governments and NGO's had turned "a local radio
[into] a global problem." Radio 101 also received a message from the 202nd
rocket-artillery unit, saying "we are with you with our voices, manpower, and
weapons if necessary." -- Patrick Moore
CROATIA'S TUDJMAN WEAK AFTER HOSPITALIZATION.
Tudjman left Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington for a brief visit to the
Croatian embassy on 21 November. Croatian television showed him looking "thin
and exhausted," AFP reported. Government officials and the state-run media
continue only to say that he has received "treatment" for an ulcer and swollen
lymph glands. CNN earlier quoted unnamed State Department officials and a
Croatian diplomat as saying that he has cancer and does not have long to live.
Tudjman will return to Zagreb on 23 November. -- Patrick Moore
MISTREATMENT OF SARAJEVO SERBS.
UN police spokesman Alexander
Ivanko said that Serbs are still victims of attacks in the capital. A list of
incidents prepared by the Democratic Initiative of Serbs includes the bombing
or torching of homes of prominent Serbs or their families and the mistreatment
of elderly Serbian women. The report also notes an apparent singling out of
ethnic Serb males between 16 and 60 years of age for military call-ups, the
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina reports in its
latest newsletter. Meanwhile, the leader of the Islamic community, Mustafa
Ceric, urged President Alija Izetbegovic to take action to prevent the Serbs
from building on the land in Banja Luka on which mosques once stood. The Serbs
systematically destroyed the all city's mosques, including two historic ones
that had been registered with UNESCO. -- Patrick Moore
Federal Vice President Ejup Ganic spoke of an
"historic day" as $100 million-worth of U.S. weapons for the Bosnian army were
unloaded in Croatia's port of Ploce. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the Commission for
the Defense of Human Rights reported on violations of rights of refugees as
they attempt to go home in keeping with the Dayton agreement. The group singled
out local officials of the Republika Srpska in this context,
Oslobodjenje noted on 22 November. Also in the capital, a Muslim threw a
bomb into a cafe belonging to the Croatian cultural society "Napredak." The man
was arrested but his motives are not known. -- Patrick Moore
KOSOVO EDUCATION SECRETARY DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT.
education adviser to Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova, died on 21
November when the car he was traveling in crashed with a truck near Smederevo.
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) deputy chairman Hydajet Hyseni, LDK
secretary-general Fatmir Sejdiu, and the driver were injured but are out of
danger, Deutsche Welle's Albanian language service reported. The four were on
their way to Belgrade for meetings with Western diplomats. Ahmeti was the key
negotiator in talks with the Serbian authorities that resulted in an education
agreement that Rugova and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic signed on 1
September. -- Fabian Schmidt
ILIESCU TO BECOME PARTY CHAIRMAN.
Oliviu Gherman, chairman of
the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), has resigned his post,
Romanian TV reported on 21 November. Gherman said the "soul chairman" of the
PDSR has always been outgoing President Ion Iliescu, while he himself was only
a "modest substitute." He added that now that Iliescu is no longer
constitutionally barred from belonging to the party, it is Gherman's "moral
duty" to resign and ask the PDSR leadership to replace him with Iliescu. In
other news, the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) has held
separate negotiations over the new coalition with the Social Democratic Union
and the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention. Bela Marko, chairman of
the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, also conducted "preliminary
discussions" with the PNTCD leadership, saying his formation will not
necessarily demand portfolios affecting national minorities and may receive the
Health Ministry. -- Michael Shafir
FURTHER ACCUSATIONS IN MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST.
President Mircea Snegur has charged that Premier Andrei Sangheli is "dragging
the government into an exceptionally hazardous game." Referring to Sangheli's
accusation that pro-Snegur forces rigged the elections and bought votes, he
said that Sangheli's government was "anti-democratic and anti-reformist" and
that Moldova's independence was "in danger," Infotag reported on 21 November.
In other news, the leadership of the Edinstvo-Unitatea Party has announced it
will back Snegur's rival, parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi, in the
run-off scheduled for 1 December. Radio Bucharest announced that chairman of
the Party of Democratic Forces Valeriu Matei, who ran in the first round,
announced his party will back Snegur in the run-off. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN CURRENCY CONTINUES TO PLUNGE.
The lev on 21 November
continued its free fall, RFE/RL and Reuters reported. The U.S. dollar was
selling at Sofia exchange bureaus for around 405 leva, up from 360-370 the
previous day. Demokratsiya reported that in Burgas, the dollar was
trading at as much as 500 leva. Many private exchange offices refused to sell
the dollar at all. Outside those continuing to sell hard currency, fist-fights
broke out for good positions in the line. The Bulgarian National Bank's
response was to increase the exchange rate from 287.91 leva to 344.29 leva for
22 November. Shop owners selling imported goods now either mark their stock in
dollars or adjust prices by the hour. Meanwhile, official figures suggest an
8-10% GDP decline for this year. Director of the National Statistical Institute
Zahari Karamfilov told Kontinent that he "can no longer project
inflation." -- Stefan Krause
HAJDARI FIRED FROM ALBANIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON SECRET
Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari has been dismissed as
chairman of the parliamentary commission for public order and the secret
service, Albanian media reported on 22 November. Hajdari fell out of favor with
President Sali Berisha following his election as chairman of the breakaway
Union of Independent Trade Unions (BSPSH). Hajdari has called for an
extraordinary BSPSH congress for 22 September, saying he will declare war
against corruption and fight for higher salaries. He compared the current
situation in Albania with December 1990, when he was leading the pro-democracy
student movement that brought about the end of communism, Koha Jone
reported on 22 November. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN POLIO OUTBREAK CLAIMS 15TH VICTIM.
A 14-year-old boy
has died of polio in Albania, the 15th victim of the outbreak, Reuters reported
on 21 November. The boy had been hospitalized for the past three months. The
polio outbreak has affected 137 Albanians since April. The Albanian health
authorities and the World Health Organization launched a nationwide
immunization campaign in October. No new cases have been reported since 12
November. -- Fabian Schmidt