ILYUKHIN SEEKS IMPEACHMENT OR NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Following the decision
to withdraw troops from Chechnya, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor
Ilyukhin called for discussing the impeachment of President Boris Yeltsin and
voting no confidence in the government at the Duma's special hearing on 29
November, Reuters reported on 25 November. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said
that the Duma would consider action against the executive branch if it had
violated the constitution but impeachment was not an option now, Russian TV
(RTR) and Ekho Moskvy reported. A statement from the Popular-Patriotic Union
(NPSR) published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 26 November, however, limited
itself to asking the Constitutional Court to examine the decisions, calling for
an extraordinary meeting of the Security Council, and calling an extraordinary
NPSR congress. Impeaching the president is extremely difficult and the Duma has
backed down from no-confidence votes in the past because the president can call
new parliamentary elections if the Duma votes no confidence twice in three
months. -- Robert Orttung
KABARDINO-BALKARIYA PRESIDENT TO RUN UNOPPOSED.
The incumbent president
of Kabardino-Balkariya, Valerii Kokov, was the only candidate to submit
documents by 25 November, the deadline to register for the 12 January 1997
elections, ITAR-TASS reported. Several months ago, Kokov had declared his
republic the most stable in the North Caucasus, but on 17 November a congress
of Balkar people revived earlier demands to set up a separate Balkar Republic.
Kokov has strongly denounced the separatists and a criminal case has been filed
against them. Kokov was elected to a five-year term on 5 January 1992. --
MAVRODI'S WIFE AND CHESS CHAMPION TO RUN FOR DUMA SEAT.
the wife of the infamous MMM pyramid-scheme operator Sergei Mavrodi, and FIDE
world chess champion Anatoly Karpov, have announced their intention to run for
a Duma seat in Tula Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported. They must gather 4, 518
signatures before 15 December to register. Yelena Mavrodi campaigned
unsuccessfully for a Duma seat in Kolomna in 1995. (See OMRI Daily
Digest, 10 April and 16 May, 1995.) The only candidate officially
registered so far in Tula Oblast for the 9 February 1997 elections is former
Yeltsin Security Service chief Aleksander Korzhakov. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski
KAZAKSTANI PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and his visiting Kazakstani counterpart Akezhan Kazhegeldin signed
three economic agreements in Moscow on 25 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The
agreements covered agricultural equipment, scientific-technical cooperation,
and the broadcasting of each country's television programs. Chernomyrdin said
that the two countries have "no major differences," while Kazhegeldin termed
Russia a "strategic partner" for Kazakstan. Chernomyrdin added, however, that
the "main task" facing Russia and Kazakstan is making more rapid progress
toward economic integration. Although it was signed with much fanfare this
spring, for example, the March 1996 quadripartite
Russia-Belarus-Kazakstan-Kyrgyzstan integration accord has remained largely
unimplemented. -- Scott Parrish
U.S. BLOCKS SUPERCOMPUTER EXPORTS TO RUSSIA.
The U.S. Commerce
Department has refused to grant export licenses to IBM and a Hewlett-Packard
subsidiary, blocking them from selling high-speed computers to the Russian
Ministry of Atomic Energy, The Journal of Commerce reported on 25
November. The computers were intended for the Arzamas-16 (Kremlev) and
Chelyabinsk-70 (Snezhinsk) research laboratories, where they would have helped
Russian weapons designers conduct simulated nuclear explosions, improving the
safety and reliability of the Russian nuclear arsenal while assuring adherence
to the recently-signed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. American critics of the
proposed sale had argued that the computers would be used to improve Russian
weapons design, injuring U.S. national security. The paper said Russian weapons
designers had viewed the computer sales as linked to Russia's signing of the
CTBT, and may now push to resume nuclear testing. -- Scott Parrish
FINNO-RUSSIAN TRANSPORT DISPUTE.
Finnish trade unions on 25 November
launched an indefinite boycott of all Russian trucks, refusing to load or
unload trailers from Russia until a dispute over border charges is resolved,
ITAR-TASS reported. The boycott is in protest against taxes and fees imposed by
Russian border guards on Finnish trucks crossing the Russo-Finnish border. The
unions claim the fees are illegal and inconsistent with bilateral border
agreements, but several rounds of intergovernmental talks have failed to
resolve the dispute. The unions also are demanding increased security for
Finnish truck drivers in Russia, who are frequently robbed or hijacked, and
protesting the increasing use of Russian drivers by Finnish firms exporting to
Russia. According to the agency, 50% of truck traffic in Finland is now
conducted by lower-cost Russian trucks and drivers. -- Scott Parrish
CONCERN OVER INCREASED USE OF KOMPROMAT.
The Judicial Chamber on
Information Disputes, chaired by Anatolii Vengerov, has expressed concern over
the increased use of the media to disseminate material aimed at compromising a
business or political rival, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 November. The chamber
noted that anonymous sources or illegally obtained information are often cited
as proof of scandalous disclosures, arguing that such practices flout the
presumption of innocence, damage the reputation of individuals and
organizations, and "run counter to the spirit and letter of legislation on the
media" and journalistic ethics. It also criticized the slow response of law
enforcement bodies to such publications. A flood of articles have recently
appeared in the press accusing prominent figures of criminal offenses and
cover-ups. The chamber is an advisory body. -- Penny Morvant
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS THREATEN TO DISRUPT HOLIDAY BROADCASTS.
at radio and television transmitter stations are threatening to disrupt
broadcasts over the New Year holidays if back wages are not paid, ITAR-TASS
reported on 25 November. Communications workers are owed 92 billion rubles and
have not been paid for three to six months. On 20 November, workers at a
Murmansk transmission center, who have not been paid for six months, staged a
one-hour strike, disrupting ORT, RTR, and St. Petersburg Channel 5 programs in
several northern cities. In general, however, such disputes tend to be resolved
before broadcasts are canceled. -- Penny Morvant
POLL SHOWS MAGNITUDE OF WAGE ARREARS PROBLEM.
Only 22% of respondents in
a recent poll received their wages in full and on time, Izvestiya
reported on 26 November. The survey, which involved about 1,500 Russian
citizens, was carried out by the Public Opinion foundation in mid-November.
Sixty-two percent of the respondents were not paid on time, while another 16%
did not work. Residents of small towns and villages were the most likely to be
paid late in October (70% of those surveyed), while Muscovites were in the best
position. Of the residents of the capital surveyed, 64% were paid on time and
only 18% suffered wage delays. -- Penny Morvant
GOVERNMENT PICKS RUSSIAN BANKS FOR TELECOM PRIVATIZATION.
government is expected to announce on 26 November the cancellation of the
planned public sale of $1 billion worth of shares in the state-owned telecom
companies Rostelekom and Svyazinvest, AFP and the Financial Times
reported the same day. The sale was being prepared by a Western consortium
headed by N.M. Rothschild and in part funded by the World Bank. Last week the
government apparently decided to switch the project to Alfa Bank and the Most
group, two of the largest donors to Yeltsin's election campaign. One can expect
that the flotation of telecom shares will now be confined to insider bidders,
along the lines of the 1995 loans-for-shares auctions. One Western observer
opined that "This will be the biggest scandal yet in the sorry history of
Russian privatization." -- Peter Rutland
RUSSIA WILL REPAY TSARIST DEBT TO FRANCE.
Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin said that the Russian government will repay the debt to French
holders of tsarist bonds, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 25 November. He did not
elaborate on details of the repayment mechanism. France ranked first in the
total volume of foreign investment in late-imperial Russia and was the largest
official creditor of the tsarist government. The French Association for holders
of Russian bonds claims that the tsarist debt (including interest accrued since
1917) totals $27-31 billion. Russian officials, however, insist on taking into
account the value of Russian assets seized by French authorities when the
Bolshevik government refused to honor tsarist debts after 1917. Due to the
rumors surrounding the redemption of tsarist bonds, the French stock market
authorities temporarily suspended trade in tsarist securities. -- Natalia
BANKING SYSTEM REVIEW.
Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin said that
only 38% of all Russian banks are stable, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 November. In
Moscow and the Moscow Oblast this figure is 51%, while in the Far East it is as
low as 14%. According to a Finansovye izvestiya report on 26 November,
the number of banks declined from 2,295 to 2,090 in the first 10 months of the
year. The number of commercial bank branches fell from 5,581 to 5,218 and those
of Sberbank (Savings Bank) from 38,567 to 34,326 over the same period. The
banking system's capitalization increased from 11 trillion rubles ($2.3
billion) in January to 17 trillion rubles ($3.1 billion) in October. -- Natalia
NAGORNO-KARABAKH TALKS DEADLOCKED.
Yet another round of negotiations to
settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which began on 18 November in Finland,
have failed to make any progress, RFE/RL reported on 25 November. The parties
could not agree on a declaration of principles for ending the conflict that was
intended to be signed at the OSCE's upcoming summit in Lisbon. Observers note
that, as a result, the summit will probably adopt a nonbinding statement urging
all sides to reach a peaceful resolution. Diplomats who attended the talks said
there was a "slight movement" in Azerbaijan's position, whereas the positions
of Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh representatives remained unchanged. Armenia's
chief presidential aide Gerard Libaridian said his country will veto any
document at the Lisbon summit that runs counter to its interests, according to
RFE/RL. In other news, commenting on the 24 November presidential election in
Nagorno-Karabakh, chairman of Azerbaijan's Supreme Court Hanlar Hajiev said it
was the "result of the thoughtless policy of Russia," Turan reported on 25
November. -- Emil Danielyan
MORE CRITICISM OF ABKHAZ ELECTIONS.
Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze, in his regular Monday radio broadcast on 25 November, condemned
as "a serious mistake" and "a political farce" the parliamentary elections in
Abkhazia on 23 November, Reuters reported. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement
released on 25 November and quoted by Radio Rossii similarly asserted that the
elections constituted "a violation of universally accepted norms of human
rights and basic civic liberties" and willfully ignored international public
opinion. -- Liz Fuller
ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY'S OFFICE REOPENED.
The office of the National
Democratic Union (AZhM) was reopened on 25 November. It was sealed on 25
September by police following violent protests by opposition supporters against
the official results of the presidential election. An AZhM representative told
Noyan Tapan that the office suffered serious material damage and that the
party's property has not yet been returned by the Interior Ministry. -- Emil
KAZAKSTANI LOWER HOUSE PASSES LANGUAGE LAW.
The lower house of the
Kazakstani parliament approved a language law on 22 November, according to
ITAR-TASS. After "three days of heated debates" it was decided that ethnic
Kazaks would be required to know the state language (Kazak) by January 2001
while the Russian-speaking population must know Kazak by January 2006.
Television and radio must broadcast at least half their programming in the
state language. Also mentioned was that the state language is used along with
Russian in "all types of military formations." On 20 November Aman Tuleyev, the
Russian Minister for Cooperation with CIS States, warned that passing such a
law could lead to a mass exodus of Russia-speakers from Kazakstan. -- Bruce
TAJIK PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADER TO MEET IN DECEMBER.
reported on 25 November that Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov will meet United
Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri on 9 December in northern
Afghanistan. The exact location of the meeting has not been disclosed. The
meeting will lay the groundwork for a 23 December "official" meeting in Moscow.
Expectations are that an agreement on power sharing will be signed at the
Moscow meeting. Opposition forces have moved steadily westward since early 1996
and are now about 80 kilometers east of the capital Dushanbe. -- Bruce
UZBEK PARLIAMENT OPENS WITH HUMAN RIGHTS AGENDA.
The 7th session of the
Oliy Majlis opened on 26 November with a list of "democratization" proposals on
the agenda, Uzbek TV reported. The steering committee of the legislature, under
the leadership of speaker Erkin Khalilov, met on 22 November to set the agenda,
which includes the creation of a government institution designed to ensure that
legislation abides by international standards of "democracy and human rights."
In addition, the Oliy Majlis is expected to pass legislation on political
parties, the protection of independent journalists, and greater access to state
information. While other legislation will be considered, it is evident that
this session will be marked as one in which human rights became a high priority
for the government, Uzbek officials note. -- Roger Kangas
VOTERS SUPPORT LUKASHENKA'S CONSTITUTION.
The parliament's draft
constitution received only 7.9% of votes cast in the 24 November referendum,
international agencies reported the next day. Earlier, it was reported that
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's draft constitution won 70.5% of the vote.
88.5% of respondents voted in favor of changing the national holiday from 17
July, when the republic declared independence, to 3 July, when the Red Army
liberated Minsk from the Germans. Lukashenka's other two questions--on banning
the free sale and purchase of land and on retaining the death penalty--also
passed by a wide margin. Neither of the parliament's two questions passed. Only
29.9% voted for electing local administrations by direct popular vote and only
32.1% were in favor of funding all state agencies directly from the budget.
Voting among the KGB and military was particularly high, with 99.6% casting
ballots. Former head of the Central Electoral Commission Viktar Hanchar said
the results were forged, and independent observers claimed irregularities in
voting procedures. -- Ustina Markus
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES TO BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM.
A number of western
countries and organizations have voiced concern over the results of the
referendum, AFP reported on 25 November. The EU and the OSCE insisted that the
Constitutional Court's decision on the consultative, non-binding nature of the
referendum must be respected. A U.S. State Department spokesman emphasized the
lack of open debate before the referendum, which, he said, deprived it of
legitimacy. He added that the plebiscite was "neither free, nor fair". Russia,
however, said the result of the referendum was "normal" and concluded that its
bid to diffuse the political crisis in Belarus had been successful. Meanwhile,
Belarus has turned its last 18 nuclear warheads over to Russia. -- Sergei
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DENIES PRESSING FOR EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
Leonid Kuchma has denied accusations by lawmakers that he is leading a
campaign to dissolve the parliament and hold early elections, Ukrainian
agencies reported on 22 November. Legislators have drawn that conclusion from
his recent appeal to the Constitutional Court to review two parliamentary
decisions that he believes violate the country's basic law. The next
parliamentary elections are not due until spring 1998. Kuchma said an early
vote would be too costly and could destabilize the country. Deputies have
postponed until April a second reading of a new election bill that would
transform Ukraine's electoral system. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN AIR FORCE OFFICIALS SURVIVED HIJACK CRASH.
Three members of a
Ukrainian Defense Ministry mission survived the hijack crash of the Boeing-767
on 23 November in the Comoro Islands, international agencies reported on 25
November. They are Deputy Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force Lt. Gen. Viktor
Strelnikov and two other high Ukrainian military officials who were in Addis
Abeba to negotiate modernizing MiG-21s belonging to the Ethiopian Air Force.
The fate of the fourth member of the mission is still unknown. -- Oleg
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS AGREEMENTS WITH ISRAEL.
Leonid Kuchma on 25
November signed several economic agreements with Israel, AFP and Ukrainian
radio reported. Those accords are on sea trade, protection of resources, and
cooperation on customs issues. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
he received assurances from Kuchma that Ukraine is not signing any arms deals
with Iran and that it has decided not to sell tanks to Baghdad. He stressed
that Ukraine was not seeking any compensation from Israel for this, nor was
Israel offering any to Kyiv. Netanyahu also said Israel hoped Ukraine's
government would work to reduce the risks for foreign investors in Ukraine. He
added he had accepted an invitation to visit Ukraine, and would come along with
a delegation of businessmen. -- Ustina Markus
SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ESTONIA.
Davorin Kracun, during his visit
to Tallinn on 25 November, discussed EU expansion with President Lennart Meri,
ETA reported. He repeated Slovenian President Milan Kucan's invitation that
Meri make a state visit to Slovenia. Kracun also held talks with Prime Minister
Tiit Vahi on developing economic and trade relations and on achieving
integration into European economic and defense structures. Kracun and acting
Foreign Minister Riivo Sinijarv are scheduled to sign a free trade agreement
today. Together with agreements on the protection of investments, the
prevention of double taxation, and visa free travel that are still being
prepared, that accord is expected to significantly boost trade. -- Saulius
FIRST SESSION OF NEW LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT.
The 137 deputies elected to
the Seimas have been formally sworn in by Constitutional Court Chairman Juozas
Zilys, Radio Lithuania reported on 25 November. President Algirdas Brazauskas
urged the deputies not to make sharp changes in foreign policy and to continue
the main goals of membership in the EU and NATO. Homeland Union (Conservatives
of Lithuania) Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis was the only candidate nominated
for the post of Seimas chairman. He was elected in a secret ballot by a vote of
107 to 28. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH SHIPYARD WORKERS OCCUPY GOVERNMENT BUILDING.
Some 1,500 workers
at the Gdansk shipyard--birthplace of the Solidarity movement in
1980--demonstrated in front of the local governor's building, Polish and
international media reported on 26 November. Two hundred or so stayed on to
occupy the building. The workers are demanding that the government issue
restructuring plans and financial guarantees for building ships for Germany.
Last week, Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko refused to extend credit
guarantees for the bankrupt shipyard, but Treasury Minister Miroslaw Pietrewicz
said today that the government may consider offering guarantees if the
management proposes viable restructuring plans. The shipyard has debts totaling
415 million zlotys ($148 million) and currently employs about 5,000 people. --
VAST MAJORITY OF POLES CLAIM MASS PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS.
More than 25
million Poles--or 95% of those eligible--have claimed a total of 25,675,090
privatization vouchers over the past 12 months, Polish and international media
reported on 26 November. A year ago, only one in ten Poles said they would
claim vouchers, and the government expected to distribute about 10 million.
Wieslaw Kaczmarek, head of the privatization agency at the Treasury Ministry,
said that his ministry, encouraged by the success of the first stage of mass
privatization, will draft a new version of the program including other
state-owned companies. Vouchers sold by state banks for 20 zlotys ($7) are
currently selling for some 150 zlotys on the stock exchange. Next year, the
vouchers will be exchanged for shares in 15 investment funds managing some 500
enterprises. -- Beata Pasek
SLOVAKIA, RUSSIA STRENGTHEN TIES.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin on 25 November received a delegation led by Slovak parliamentary
Chairman Ivan Gasparovic to discuss economic and political ties, Slovak media
and ITAR-TASS reported. Gasparovic stressed that although Slovakia wants to
decide for itself on EU and NATO membership, "we do not want to take these
and without consideration, and they will certainly be
decided in a referendum." Gasparovic's four-day trip to Russia coincides with a
visit by Culture Minister Ivan Hudec to launch a Slovak cultural festival in
Moscow. On 23 November, Slovak Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej
Kozlik announced in Bratislava following an intergovernment meeting that a free
trade agreement with Russia is expected by late June. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK MEDIA ROUNDUP.
The Slovak PEN Club on 26 November protested the
recent ruling by a Banska Bystrica court ordering the opposition daily
Sme to apologize to and pay cabinet ministers 7.5 million crowns
($242,000) in compensation for publishing a "damaging" article (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 7 November 1996), Praca reported. The PEN Club
stressed that the court made the ruling without questioning the ministers or
examining the extent of their "psychological trauma." The group also noted that
the European Court of Human Rights has approved verdicts making it clear that
individuals have broad rights to criticize politicians, public servants, the
government, and state institutions. Sme is appealing the ruling. In
other news, the private TV Markiza share of hours viewed daily grew to 37.3%
(36% in prime time) in October, while Slovak TV's share fell to 23.9% (27.4%),
according to TASR on 25 November. With regard to news programs, Slovak TV
remains the most popular with 25%, while Markiza news has 20-22% viewership. --
HUNGARY WILL SOON INVITE BIDS FOR COMMERCIAL BROADCASTS.
Radio and Television Commission will publish tenders for commercial television
and radio stations in early December, Hungarian and international media
reported on 26 November. Two commercial TV channels and two commercial radio
stations will start broadcasting on 1 September 1997. The primary owner can
have up to 49% ownership and the secondary owner 25%, with a minimum of 26%
remaining in Hungarian hands. Under the media law, at least 51% of the programs
must originate in Hungary and another 30% from other parts of Europe. U.S.-led
consortia headed by Ronald Lauder and Mark Palmer, Germany's West Deutsche
Allgemeine Zeitung and Bertelsman Group, as well as and France's TF1 are
all expected to bid. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
The item "Ukrainian Parliament Suspends Privatization of
'Strategic' Enterprises" in the 25 November 1996 issue of the OMRI Daily
Digest incorrectly listed the number of state-owned enterprises originally
barred by Kyiv from privatization. The item should have read that Ukrainian
lawmakers have increased the number of those enterprises from 5,500 to 7,111.
BELGRADE PROTESTS GAIN MOMENTUM.
Up to 200,000 people marched in
downtown Belgrade on 25 November to protest the authorities' decision to
nullify opposition wins in the 17 November local elections, Radio B92 reported.
It was the sixth consecutive day of mass demonstrations in the capital, which
are reported to have been larger than the 1991 anti-government demonstrations.
Landmarks such as the Serbian legislature, the Politika publishing
house, and TV Serbia were pelted by thousands of eggs. March organizers urged
participants to remain calm and to "peacefully" target only designated
landmarks. Mass demonstrations are planned to continue daily both in and
outside Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade
OTHER NEWS FROM SERBIA.
The opposition coalition Zajedno has
appealed to the Serbian Supreme Court to overturn the authorities' decision to
nullify its local election wins, Nasa Borba reported on 26 November.
Meanwhile, Ilija Djukic, chair of the Democratic Party's foreign affairs
committee, said he received a favorable hearing from Western officials whom he
had briefed on the current situation in Serbia. He added that he would not like
to be in Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic's place when Milutinovic explains
to leaders from other countries currently meeting in Brussels about ongoing
developments in Serbia. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade
BOSNIAN WAR CRIMES TRIAL WINDS TO A CLOSE.
U.S. Deputy Prosecutor Brenda
Hollis said in The Hague on 25 November that accused Bosnian Serb war criminal
Dusan Tadic is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. She argued that witnesses'
testimony clearly identified him as being present with "a special status" at
the Omarska, Keraterm, and Trnopolje concentration camps in 1992, AFP reported.
Tadic's lawyers maintain that many of the witnesses are unreliable and that, at
best, charges against their client are based on mistaken identity. Meanwhile in
Croatia, the authorities have placed 39 ethnic Serbs on trial for war crimes
allegedly committed during the conflict in 1991 and 1992, Hina noted. Twelve
are present in the court in Split, while the rest are being tried in
absentia. And in Zagreb, a top-level international commission on missing
persons in the wars of the Yugoslav succession met with President Franjo
Tudjman. The group is headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. --
ISLAMIC COUNTRIES DISCUSS AID TO BOSNIA.
The group for aid mobilization
to Bosnia-Herzegovina of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
convened for a two-day meeting in Sarajevo on 22 November , Oslobodjenje
reported. Representatives of 12 countries and the Islamic Bank discussed
economic, social, humanitarian, and military issues. Bosnian Prime Minister
Hasan Muratovic said the Islamic world has provided 15% of the total amount of
reconstruction aid to date. Muratovic criticized High Representative Carl Bildt
for trying to postpone some reconstruction projects until the three-man
presidency agrees to appoint the Council of Ministers. Muratovic also
complained that Bildt was attempting to postpone a forthcoming donors'
conference in Brussels. "If Bildt does not change his attitude very soon...,
we'll be forced to ask for diplomatic help from our friends," he added. --
Daria Sito Sucic in Sarajevo
PROBLEMS FACE TRANS-BORDER BOSNIAN TV.
Representatives of four local
Bosnian TV stations participating in the internationally sponsored project TV
International/Open Broadcast Network (TVIN/OBN) have announced they will
complain to sponsors about their status in the project, Oslobodjenje
reported on 24 November. TVIN/OBN was designed as an independent television
network aimed to overcome internal borders in Bosnia. But local TV stations
participating in the $10 million project complain they have been excluded from
the financial planning and the decision-making on programs. Local stations were
granted equipment worth $1 million to improve their programs and broadcasting
facilities. -- Daria Sito Sucic in Sarajevo
ROMANIAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE SEES ECONOMIC REFORM AS PRIORITY.
Ciorbea has said he plans to focus on economic reforms in order to woo
international financial institutes back into the country, Radio Bucharest and
AFP reported on 25 November. He said he will meet with an IMF delegation on 30
November and try to mend fences with that organization. The IMF suspended part
of a $250 million loan to Romania earlier this year, accusing the outgoing
government of failing to meet a pledge to reduce the budget deficit and
restructure state institutions. Ciorbea said this year's budget deficit will
reach 4.5% of GDP, more than double the 2% pledge made to the IMF. He added
that his government will speed up privatization by eliminating bureaucratic and
legal obstacles. Meanwhile, Cronica romana reports on 26 November that
the decision to change the title of premier to chairman of the Council of
Ministers has been revoked because it would have required a constitutional
amendment. -- Michael Shafir
UKRAINE OPPOSES RUSSIAN MILITARY PRESENCE IN MOLDOVA.
reported on 25 November that Ukraine has expressed opposition to a recent
Russian State Duma resolution calling for a permanent status for the Russian
contingent in Moldova. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Ukraine is opposed
because it respects Moldova's territorial integrity, which extends to the
breakaway Dniester region. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN PREMIER SAYS CURRENCY BOARD TO BE INTRODUCED IN EARLY 1997.
Zhan Videnov on 25 November said that a currency board would be introduced in
the first weeks of 1997, Bulgarian media reported. He added that the parliament
would have the final word on the matter. According to Videnov, there are three
outstanding issues: whether the 1997 budget will be balanced, whether the
banking system will maintain strict discipline, and what level of funding will
be provided by international financial institutions to support the currency
board's fixed exchange rate. Other issues currently being debated are whether
to tie the lev to the dollar or the German mark and whether to set the current
exchange rate or a further devalued one. Videnov also said that no foreigners
or representatives of Bulgarian political parties or banks would sit on the
board. -- Michael Wyzan
BULGARIA TO REOPEN UMBRELLA MURDER CASE?
President-elect Petar Stoyanov
told The Times on 25 November that the murder case of Georgi Markov will
be reopened, AFP reported. Stoyanov said that clearing up Markov's murder will
be one of his priorities after assuming office in January 1997. He noted that
"for Bulgarian society, this question has acquired symbolic importance." Markov
was a prominent writer who fled Bulgaria after falling out with the communist
authorities. In 1969, he settled in London, where he worked for the Bulgarian
section of the BBC World Service. Later, he joined RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service
in Munich. He was murdered in September 1978 in the British capital, most
likely stabbed by a specially prepared poisonous umbrella. A tiny pellet
containing the highly poisonous ricin was found in his leg after his death. --
ALBANIAN TRADE UNION LEADERS FILE CHARGES AGAINST EACH OTHER.
Hajdari and Valer Xheka, presidents of their respective factions of the Unions
of Independent Trade Unions (BSPSH), have filed charges against each other,
ATSH reported on 25 November. Hajdari wants the court to recognize him as the
legitimate leader of the BSPSH and to order the assets of the BSPSH frozen
until a court ruling. Xheka says the Durres congress at which Hajdari was
elected as president of the breakaway BSPSH violated the trade union's
statutes. He wants Hajdari to be banned from using its name. He also charged
Fatmir Musaku, an ally of Hajdari, with embezzling $4,168 during a visit to
China in May. Meanwhile, Hajdari was re-elected president of his faction at a
congress on 23 November, Dita Informacion reported. -- Fabian Schmidt