DUMA APPROVES 1997 BUDGET.
The Duma voted by 263 to 111 on 15 December
to approve on first reading the draft budget for 1997, Russian media reported.
The Communists and their allies voted in favor, Yabloko and sundry democrats
and nationalists against. The second and third readings will be on 25 December.
Earlier this month, the Duma twice rejected the budget, prompting the
government to increase planned spending by 34.8 trillion rubles ($6 billion)
and introduce a parallel "development budget" of tax breaks to stimulate
investment. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin accepted most of the Communists'
11 demands, pertaining to timely payment of wages and pensions and spending
increases, but rejected their demand to dismiss Chief of Staff Anatolii
Chubais. The budget projects 11.8% inflation, 2% GDP growth, spending of 530
trillion rubles, and revenue of 434 trillion. The government claims that the
deficit of 96 trillion is equal to 3.5% of GDP and thus within the IMF limit.
-- Peter Rutland
COMMUNIST BALANCING ACT ON BUDGET VOTE.
The Communist Party of the
Russian Federation (KPRF) held a closed plenum of its Central Committee on 14
December to discuss party strategy, in particular how to vote for the 1997
budget while saving face as a credible opposition. In his 15 December
parliamentary address, KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov emphasized that if the
government did not meet his party's 11 conditions, Communists "reserve the
right to vote against the budget in later readings and raise a vote of
no-confidence in the government," and might organize "acts of civil
disobedience and protest" across Russia, NTV reported. Meanwhile, in endorsing
the budget, Economics Committee Chairman and KPRF member Yurii Maslyukov said
it was time for Communists to "change our style" and avoid confrontation,
Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin
YAVLINSKII REMAINS FIRM.
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii called for
the rejection of the government's budget on 15 December. He argued that the
1997 draft, "continues the same policy, does not change anything, and deepens
the crises" related to internal and external debt. In an article published in
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 15 December, Yavlinskii called for rejecting a
"budget of crisis and debt" in favor of a "budget of reform and development,"
which he argued would promote growth. Other deputies who had earlier opposed
the budget, gave it their reluctant support. Agrarian faction leader Nikolai
Kharitonov, for example, said that the Duma should "pass this disgusting budget
with one aim in mind - to maintain stability in society." -- Laura Belin
Retired naval captain Aleksandr Nikitin was released
from custody on 14 December, although the case against him is continuing.
Nikitin was arrested on 6 February on suspicion of treason and espionage for
his part in a report by the Norwegian-based environmental group Bellona on
radioactive contamination of the Kola Peninsula. He was released on his own
recognizance at the request of the Procurator's General's Office for procedural
reasons, according to ITAR-TASS. His lawyer described the decision as a
historic victory for human rights, arguing: "This is the first case in the
history of Soviet-Russian state security that social pressure has succeeded in
forcing the Federal Security Service to observe the laws and stop its trampling
of human rights," Reuters reported. Nikitin was repeatedly denied bail and not
charged until the fall. Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of
conscience, the first in Russia since the collapse of the USSR. -- Penny
ANOTHER RADUEV HOSTAGE-TAKING.
of Chechen militants
under field commander Salman Raduev attacked a Russian control post on the
border between Chechnya and Dagestan on 14 December and abducted 22 Russian
Interior Ministry troops in protest at having been refused permission to enter
Dagestan, Russian and Western agencies reported. Raduev subsequently demanded
an official apology from the Dagestani authorities, who dispatched Dagestan
Security Council secretary Magomet Tolboev to negotiate the hostages' release.
NTV quoted Raduev as saying the hostage-taking was to protest the proposed
Chechen presidential elections on 27 January, which he claims are illegal as
Dzhokhar Dudaev, believed killed by a Russian missile in April, is still alive.
Interim Chechen Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov and his deputy Movladi Udugov
condemned the attack as a provocation. Col.-Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, commander of
Russia's Internal Troops in Chechnya, warned it could delay the planned
withdrawal of the remaining Russian troops in Chechnya. Negotiations continue
for the release of the hostages. -- Liz Fuller
DUMA ACTS AGAINST REGIONAL SEPARATISM.
The Duma approved on 11 December
in the second reading a bill designed to stop Russia's autonomous okrugs from
seceding from the krais or oblasts to which they are subordinate,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 15 December. The bill declares that all
resources in the okrugs belong to the krai or oblast and that the okrugs must
hold elections for the oblast or krai governor. The wealthy Khanty-Mansi,
Yamal-Nenets, Nenets, and Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) autonomous okrugs want greater
independence in order to gain more control over the income generated from the
resources on their territory. The Duma is moving quickly in order to try to
preserve the integrity of Tyumen Oblast, where gubernatorial elections are set
for 22 December. Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets are working to prevent the
elections from being valid on their territory. -- Robert Orttung
NENETS INCUMBENT LOSES REELECTION.
The incumbent governor of Nenets
Autonomous Okrug, Vladimir Khabarov, was defeated in the 13 December
gubernatorial run-off. Khabarov, who was supported by the presidential
administration and the opposition, received about 39% of the vote, 10% less
than his rival Vladimir Butov, a businessman and member of the okrug's
legislature. In the first round on 1 December, Butov finished second with 18%
fewer votes than the incumbent governor but managed to double his support
between the rounds. Kommersant-Daily described Butov as a "capitalist
shark" who promised the voters high salaries and pensions. -- Anna Paretskaya
DUMA PROTESTS ASTRAKHAN VOTE.
Several Duma members who acted as
observers during the 8 December gubernatorial elections in Astrakhan claimed
that the incumbent governor, Anatolii Guzhvin, violated constitutional
provisions for fair elections, Kommersant-Daily reported on 16 December.
Following their testimony, the Duma asked Yeltsin to suspend Guzhvin while the
charges are investigated. Guzhvin won 52% of the vote, while his opponent from
the pro-Communist Popular Power Duma faction received 40%. The Communists have
also protested the gubernatorial results in Rostov, where the incumbent won by
a landslide, while the administration managed to overturn the results in Amur
after the Communist challenger apparently defeated the incumbent by a margin of
189 votes. -- Robert Orttung
MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS TO CREATE COORDINATING COUNCIL.
Duma deputy Ramazan
Abdulatipov on 15 December announced plans to set up a Coordinating Council
of Russia's Muslim organizations. He said that the council will coordinate
the activities of about two dozen Russian Muslim organisations and seek to
defend the rights of Russia's Muslims in cooperation with the authorities,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 16 December. Abdulatipov, a former deputy
chairman of the upper house of the parliament, will head the new council. He
opposed a plan by the Union of Muslims to organize a Muslim group in the Duma
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 December 1996). -- Nikolai Iakoubovski
RUSSIA HAILS NEW UN SECRETARY-GENERAL.
Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Gennadii Tarasov welcomed the UN Security Council's 13 December
nomination of Kofi Annan as the next secretary-general of the organization,
terming him a "flexible and skilled leader," ITAR-TASS reported on 14 December.
The Security Council unanimously approved Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat currently
serving as UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, after France withdrew
its objections to his candidacy. He now faces a confirmation vote in the
General Assembly on 17 December. Tarasov expressed hope that Annan would "make
an active contribution to the rebuilding of the UN" and help it adapt "to the
needs of the emerging multipolar world." -- Scott Parrish
MOSCOW PIQUED OVER CHECHEN OFFICE IN WARSAW.
Although Polish officials
have assured Moscow that the Chechen Information Center in Warsaw has no
official status, the Russian Foreign Ministry is still unhappy with Warsaw's
actions, Izvestiya reported on 15 December. An anonmyous Russian
diplomat described the ceremonial opening of the center on 13 December, which
reportedly included the raising of the Chechen flag and was attended by Polish
parliamentarians, as "unacceptable," calling it interference in Russian
internal affairs. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov told NTV that
any attempt to transform the office into a "pseudo-embassy" would have "the
most negative consequences" for Russian-Polish relations. Chechen Foreign
Minister Ruslan Chimaev told Izvestiya , however, that Chechnya's only
offical foreign mission is in Moscow, adding that Chechnya cannot recieve
international recognition until it resolves its relationship with Russia. --
MARS PROBE UPDATE.
Chilean Deputy Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez
said on 13 December that the failed Russian Mars-96 probe, reported to have
fallen into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile on 17 November, actually
fell in Bolivia near the Chilean border, Reuters reported. Despite assurances
by Russian officials, Chilean and Bolivian officials have expressed worry about
possible radioactive contamination resulting from the 200 grams of plutonium
the probe carried as part of its power supplies, and Santiago accused Moscow of
being "tremendously unwilling" to share technical information about the probe.
A spokesman for the Lavochkin design bureau, which worked on the probe, refuted
the Chilean report on 14 December, telling ITAR-TASS that it had indeed fallen
in the ocean without causing any damage. -- Scott Parrish
WAGE ARREARS MOUNT.
The total wage debt in Russia equaled 46.6 trillion
rubles on 25 November, up 3.5 trillion from 28 October, ITAR-TASS reported on
14 December citing the State Statistics Committee. Organizations and
enterprises funded directly by the state accounted for 8.58 trillion of the
total. Mounting wage arrears are continuing to trigger strikes and other forms
of protest. AFP on 16 December quoted Vitalii Budko, chairman of the Coal
Industry Workers' Union, as saying that the government was failing to keep to
the timetable agreed for the payment of subsidies to the industry and that
another strike may be called. Miners in Rostov, who refused to abide by a union
decision to end a 10-day national miners' strike on 12 December, held protest
rallies in Shakhty and Novoshakhtinsk on 15 December. -- Penny Morvant
IMF RESUMES LOANS.
The IMF executive board approved on 13 December the
disbursement of the eighth (October) $336 million tranche of the $10.1 billion
Extended Fund Facility loan it granted Russia in March, ITAR-TASS and AFP
reported on 14 December. The decision was made on the basis of improvements in
tax collection, which totaled 20.1 trillion rubles ($3.8 billion) in November
(up from 14.6 trillion in October), of which 87% was actual cash, rather than
tax credits. However, Kommersant-Daily on 15 December reported that the
IMF executive board criticized the Russian government for their inability to
pay pensions on time and for their failure to liberalize energy prices, which
are still distorted. -- Natalia Gurushina
AZERBAIJAN SIGNS ANOTHER OIL CONTRACT.
Representatives of Azerbaijan's
state oil company SOCAR signed on 14 December a $2 billion 25-year contract
with a consortium of U.S., Japanese, and Saudi Arabian companies to develop the
Dan Ulduzu and Ashrafi Caspian shelf deposits, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The deposits are estimated to contain 150 million metric tons of oil
and up to 50 billion cubic meters of gas. SOCAR will have a 20% stake in the
project, Amoco 30%, Unocal 25.5%, Itochu 20%, and Saudi Arabia's Delta 4.5%.
Russia's LUKoil is not a direct participant in the consortium but could acquire
an interest, since SOCAR plans to link the development of Dan Ulduzu and
Ashrafi with that of the nearby Karabakh deposit, according to AFP of 14
December quoting Interfax. -- Liz Fuller
GEORGIAN NAVAL COMMANDER REJECTS RATIONALE FOR SACKING.
Aleksandr Djavakhishvili, former commander of the Georgian navy, has rejected
criticism from Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze that he failed to
eradicate financial irregularites and raise the combat efficiency of the
service, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 November. Djavakhishvili was dismised from
his post last week by Nadibaidze. The two men have very different views on the
optimum size of the navy, whether Georgia should persist with its claim to part
of the Black Sea Fleet, and military cooperation with Ukraine, according to
Segodnya of 5 December. A member of the opposition National Democrats
faction within the Georgian parliament, Beso Djugeli, has demanded Nadibaidze's
impeachment on the grounds that he has allegedly ruined the country's entire
military-industrial complex, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 15
December. -- Liz Fuller
CEASE-FIRE TAKING HOLD IN TAJIKISTAN.
The cease-fire agreement signed at
the conclusion of a 10-11 December meeting between Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov and opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri appears to be reducing
fighting in central Tajikistan, according to international sources. This latest
agreement seemed doomed when less than 24 hours after its signing two bombs
went off in the Tajik capital and fighting was reported in Garm. Four
government soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the town on 13 December.
However, by 15 December only sporadic gunfire was reported near Garm, although
a special unit of government troops remains surrounded. AFP reported that a
special meeting was held on 13 December in Dushanbe attended by representatives
of the government, opposition, and UN special envoy Gerd Merrem to prevent the
cease-fire agreement from falling apart. -- Bruce Pannier
RUSSIA RELEASES UKRAINIAN CREW.
The Ukrainian ship "Almaz," which was
detained by Russian border guards in Georgia on 4 December, was released along
with its crew on 13 December, Ukrainian radio and international agencies
reported on 16 December. The captain of the vessel remains in custody under
suspicion of smuggling. The Russian Security Service said the captain had been
accused of smuggling foodstuffs and drinks in August and is expected to be
charged with similar activities in the next few days. Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Boris Pastukhov admitted that Russian border guards had violated
certain rules by not informing the Georgian authorities of the detention,
adding that he wants the case to be closed. In a briefing, Ukrainian Foreign
Minister Hennadii Udovenko said the case is closed but that talks would
continue over the captain's detention. Statements by both Russian and Ukrainian
officials indicate that they do not want the incident to lead to a
deterioration in Russian-Ukrainian relations. -- Ustina Markus
DEBATES ON DEFINING MINIMUM WAGE CONTINUE IN UKRAINE.
Parliament on 13 November voted on a resolution that would set the minimum wage
and the minimum pension at 70.9 hryvnyas ($37.70), but there was confusion over
whether or not the resolution was passed. UNIAN reported that it was not
passed, while ITAR-TASS reported that it was. The parliamentary Commission for
Social Policy and Labor had proposed the low-income threshold, but Labor
Minister Mykola Biloblotsky said the proposed level would throw 4.9 million
people out of work. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 12 December
instructed all border crossing points in the country not to allow deputies from
the old parliament who have not joined the new one to cross the border on
diplomatic passports, Belapan reported. Two days later, border guards refused
to allow the speaker of the old parliament, Syamyon Sharetsky, to cross the
border into Poland at Hrodna and confiscated his passport, saying that it is no
longer valid, international agencies reported. The same day, Reuters reported
that the leader of the Social Democratic Hramada, Mykola Statkevich, has been
sentenced to 15 days in prison for his part in organizing an unauthorized rally
in Minsk on 8 December. A dozen other rally participants also received fines or
sentences. Statkevich announced that he will stage a hunger strike in protest.
-- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RUSSIANS; EU ISSUES WARNING.
Lukashenka on 13 December held a closed-door meeting with representatives of
Russian political and business circles, including hard-liners Vladimir
Zhirinovsky and Mikhail Monastyrskii, to discuss Russian-Belarusian economic
integration, ITAR-TASS reported. The meeting was reportedly held in a warm and
friendly atmosphere. Meanwhile, the EU on 14 December adopted a statement
expressing serious concerns over developments in Belarus, Reuters reported. The
EU urged Lukashenka to restore respect for democratic and constitutional
principles in his country and accept the EU's proposal to send a fact-finding
mission to Belarus. -- Sergei Solodovnikov
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS.
Brazauskas on 13 December signed the mass media law amendments that change the
composition of the National Radio and TV Board, Radio Lithuania reported. The
Seimas passed the amendments on 5 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6
December 1996). Brazauskas, who initially opposed the changes, had to comply
when the Seimas confirmed the amendments a second time. The old board met on 13
December as scheduled, even though it was to be dissolved the next day, and
elected a new director general in a sign of protest. -- Saulius Girnius
MARTIAL LAW ANNIVERSARY IN POLAND.
Solidarity trade union and rightist
opposition parties staged rallies across the country on 13 December to
commemorate the 15th anniversary of the imposition of martial law, Polish media
reported on 14 December. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said in a
speech broadcast on public TV that he "bows his head before the martial law
victims." Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Communist Party's first secretary at
that time, declared again that he "is ready to stand before any court or
tribunal" to assess his decision to impose martial law. Meanwhile, according to
a Public Opinion Research Center poll, 54% of Poles say the decision to impose
martial law was justifiable, compared with 30% who say it was not. -- Beata
CZECH BUDGET APPROVED, SOCIAL DEMOCRATS EXPEL REBELS.
on 13 December approved the country's budget for 1997, Czech
reported. The passage of the balanced budget, proposed by the
government but opposed by the opposition parties, was made
two deputies from the Social Democratic Party (CSSD),
Jozef Wagner and
Tomas Teplik, decided to vote in favor of the budget.
The CSSD leadership
voted on 14 December to expel the two deputies. CSSD
Deputy Chairman Karel
Machovec, who himself voted in favor of the budget
in the first reading but
supported the party line in the final vote,
said that "expulsions are bad,
inadmissible." -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES PENAL CODE AMENDMENT.
The parliament on 13
December opened debate on "the protection of the republic" penal code
amendment, Sme reported. Opposition deputies boycotted the session and
some ruling coalition representatives were also absent. Since only 68 deputies
remained in the 150-member parliament, voting was delayed until 17 December.
Although the Slovak National Party (SNS) continues to support the legislation,
some representatives of its coalition partners--the Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia (HZDS) and the Association of Workers (ZRS)--are reportedly opposed.
Opposition deputies issued a statement calling the amendment a "gross attack on
basic human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Slovak constitution." In
other news, a November opinion poll by the Focus agency showed the HZDS's
support falling to 24.4%, followed by four opposition parties with a combined
total of 40.9% and the SNS with 7.1%, TASR reported on 15 December. The ZRS
polled only 3.7%. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON EU INTEGRATION.
Speaking after the EU summit in
Dublin, Vladimir Meciar on 14 December said Slovakia is a democratic country
that fulfills the conditions for EU membership, CTK reported. Slovakia has
achieved better economic results than any other EU-associated country, he
stressed, adding that it faces no social problems and its legal system is in
harmony with the EU's. The only remaining step is "to improve trust in our
democratic system," Meciar emphasized. He said he is not aware of any EU
reservations about Slovakia. In reaction to the European Parliament's recent
resolution criticizing the Slovak parliament's decision to strip dissident
Deputy Frantisek Gaulieder of his mandate, ruling coalition representatives
said the affair is "an internal matter," Sme reported on 14 December.
Meanwhile, in a letter dated 10 December, EU-Slovak joint parliamentary
committee co-chairman Herbert Boesch issued yet another warning to Slovakia
regarding the Gaulieder affair, Praca reported six days later. -- Sharon
CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS HUNGARIAN EDITION OF MEIN KAMPF.
publisher of a new translation of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf has decided
to appeal the Budapest prosecutor general's 22 November suspension of retail
sales of the book, Nepszabadsag reported. The publisher says that
Mein Kampf, which was not legally available to anyone but researchers
during the communist era, has historical value and should be available to
readers. The new Hungarian translation is by Aron Monus, a Hungarian emigre who
returned from France after 1989. Monus's own anti-Semitic books were banned in
1991, but he later won an appeal against the ban on freedom of speech grounds.
After Monus sold 2,000 copies of the new Hungarian translation of Mein
Kampf in October and November, the head of Hungary's Jewish Community,
Peter Feldmayer, appealed to the district attorney to have the book banned. --
BIGGEST BELGRADE PROTEST YET.
An estimated 250,000 people participated
in a demonstration in Belgrade on 15 December in the largest gathering of the
ongoing peaceful protest to date, Radio B92 reported. On the same day, a court
in Nis ruled that the opposition coalition Zajedno had won the 17 November
runoff municipal elections, and urged the local electoral commission to
recognize those returns. Serbia-wide mass demonstrations, now backed by
students and trade unionists, developed first as a call for the regime to
recognize opposition wins at the municipal level but have evolved into calls
for the resignation of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Finally, on 15
December, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum met with Serbian
opposition leader Vuk Draskovic for more than two hours in Geneva. Kornblum
emerged from the meeting expressing his support for the "democratic process" in
Serbia, Reuters reported. -- Stan Markotich
SERBIAN PRESIDENT REACTS TO ZAJEDNO.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of
State Warren Christopher released on 13 December, Slobodan Milosevic finally
broke his silence on the issue of the opposition Zajedno coalition and the
ongoing mass public demonstrations. Milosevic denied all allegations that he
had engaged in or engineered electoral fraud to undermine the 17 November
opposition victories, international media reported. He also stressed that he
would not use force against "peaceful" demonstrators but described the
protesters as "vandals" and "political terrorists." Meanwhile, the ruling
Socialist Party of Serbia condemned Zajedno, dubbing it a force bent on
"destabilizing" Serbia. -- Stan Markotich
BOSNIAN ELECTIONS ON HOLD?
The Croatian member of the three-man
Kresimir Zubak, said that the postponed local vote will not
be held in the spring as many had suggested. Zubak stated that the ballot will
take place instead in the summer or even later, AFP reported on 14 December.
The local elections were postponed from 14 September into the new year
following a dispute over what was called the P-2 option. That provision allowed
persons to register in any locality where they say they will eventually live.
P-2 led to massive fraud, especially by the Bosnian Serb authorities, who
forced voters into registering in strategic towns. The Muslims then complained
and forced the OSCE to postpone the vote. The Serbs, for their part, refuse to
honor any new ballot without the P-2 option. The deadlock continues despite
some hopes expressed over the weekend that it might soon be broken. -- Patrick
CROATS, MUSLIMS AGREE ON NEW GOVERNMENT.
Officials of the
mainly Croatian and Muslim Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed on 14
December that the legislature will elect a new government on 18 December. At a
subsequent session, the legislature will select a president and vice president,
international and local media reported. Kresimir Zubak is the current federal
president but must step down because he holds a post on the joint presidency
that includes a Muslim and a Serb as well. The two sides agreed on setting up
joint police forces for Sarajevo, Mostar, and central Bosnia, as well as on
setting up the ministries of commerce, transport, energy, and industry in
Mostar. -- Patrick Moore
. . . BUT NOT ON EVICTION ISSUE.
Kresimir Zubak on 13 December blocked a
session of the Muslim-Croat Federation planning to discuss the evictions of
Muslims from the Croat-held part of Mostar, Oslobodjenje reported the
next day. Zubak claimed the agenda had been set without prior consultation with
Croat members. The federation's vice president, Ejup Ganic, said after the
meeting that the future of the Dayton peace accords is at stake in Mostar. But
Zubak tried to play down the evictions, saying that events in Mostar "have been
purposely exaggerated ... to cover up other problems in the rest of the
federation and what is happening to Croats," AFP reported. Meanwhile, U.S.
diplomat Robert Beecroft said the U.S. is prepared to apply the heaviest of
pressure to make the federation work. NATO also warned Bosnian Croat forces,
who allegedly participated in the evictions of Muslims, that "swift military
action" would be taken against them if their involvement was confirmed. --
Daria Sito Sucic
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT URGES CROATIA TO RESPECT PRESS FREEDOM.
Parliament on 12 December passed a resolution expressing deep concern at the
government's treatment of the independent Zagreb radio station Radio 101, Hina
reported the next day. The resolution called on Croatia to "renew Radio 101's
permit to broadcast before it runs out on 15 January 1997." Last month, the
government gave Radio 101's broadcasting concession to the rival station but
later backtracked on the move after 100,000 people demonstrated against it in
Zagreb. Meanwhile, Croatian police on 13 December detained a senior official of
the Croatian Open Society foundation, and released her two hours later, Reuters
reported. Police also released two of her colleagues who were detained for not
reporting how much money they had when entering the country (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 13 December 1996). According to the law, travelers entering Croatia
are not required to report foreign currency in their possession. -- Daria Sito
DEMACI JOINS KOSOVO'S PARLIAMENTARY PARTY.
The head of the Kosovo Human
Rights Council, Adem Demaci, has joined the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo,
Deutsche Welle's Albanian language service told OMRI on 16 December. Observers
see the move as a challenge to shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, who is
pursuing a passive policy aimed at securing the region's independence from
Serbia. Demaci has criticized Rugova's policy as ineffective and has called for
open protests and demonstrations against the Serbian regime. However, Demaci
has also advocated talks with Belgrade, implying that a solution may be found
through a new federal Yugoslav constitution that would separate Kosovo from
Serbia. Rugova, who met with Secretary of State Warren Christopher in the U.S.
on 13 December, has failed to use the mass protests in Belgrade to give
momentum to Kosovo's struggle against the Serbian government. -- Fabian
HUNGARIAN PREFECTS IN ROMANIA.
The Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR) will have three prefects, according to an agreement reached by
the political parties making up the new governmental coalition. The daily
Jurnalul national reported on 16 December that the UDMR will have
prefects in the counties of Harghita, Salaj, and Satu Mare, and deputy prefects
in Covasna, Hunedoara, Mures, and Bucharest. Harghita and Covasna are inhabited
by strong ethnic Hungarian majorities and, with the exception of Bucharest, the
other four counties have relatively large ethnic Hungarian populations.
According to the agreement, the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic
will have 19 prefects, the Social Democratic Union 12, the National Liberal
Party seven, and the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention one prefect.
-- Michael Shafir
CIORBEA VISITS SITE OF NATURAL CALAMITY.
Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea
on 15 December visited the village of Parcovaci near Harlau, Iasi county, which
was hit by a landslide. The slide has affected about 250 acres of land and has
caused the river bed to raise about 30 cm, threatening to flood large areas of
land. About 100 homes are affected, but there are no reports on loss of life.
Ciorbea, who was accompanied by several other members of the government,
promised emergency aid, Radio Bucharest reported on 16 December. -- Michael
MOLDOVAN LEADER ON PROSPECTS OF SETTLING TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT.
Vladimir Solonari, the leader of the Moldovan Civic Unity Movement, said the
victory of Petru Lucinschi in the presidential run-off on 1 December opens the
way for a settlement of the conflict with the breakaway Transdniester region,
Infotag reported on 13 December. Solonari, who was one of Lucinschi's most
ardent supporters, added that any settlement must respect Moldova's borders. He
said the inhabitants of the breakaway region were "tired of uncertainty" and
"longing to live in a unified country." According to Solonari, Russia can play
a positive role in finding a solution to the conflict and Lucinschi can utilize
his "good connections in Moscow" to influence the Tiraspol authorities to agree
to "a reasonable compromise." -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS PREPARE FOR PARTY CONGRESS.
Party (BSP) members attended some 80 local conferences on 14-15 December to
elect their delegates to the extraordinary BSP congress scheduled for 21-22
December, the BSP daily Duma reported on 16 December. Many of the local
conferences called for a new government. BSP parliamentary faction leader
Krasimir Premyanov said that strong criticism and a possible government
reshuffle as a result of the congress are legitimate, but that the party's
unity must be preserved. Former BSP Deputy Chairman Yanaki Stoilov accused
Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov's government of incompetence and
of lying to the people about the future. Most ministers and prominent BSP
leaders were elected as delegates, but several prominent reformist BSP
members--including Andrey Raychev, Velislava Dareva, and Dimitar Yonchev of the
Alliance for Social Democracy--failed to get elected. Local conferences will
also be held this week. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN STUDENTS HOLD STREET PROTESTS.
About 1,000 students, led by
dissident Azem Hajdari, demonstrated against Albanian TV chief Qemal Sakajeva
in Tirana on 13 December, Deutsche Welle's Albanian service reported. Hajdari
accused Sakajeva of biased reporting and criticized the government as corrupt
and authoritarian. The demonstrators were also protesting low wages, pensions,
and stipends. Hajdari called on the trade unions and students to unite in a
fight for better living conditions. Since November, Hajdari has also been
heading a breakaway faction of the Union of Independent Trade Unions. Hajdari
did not attend the recent official celebrations of the sixth anniversary of the
students' movement and the founding of Albania's Democratic Party. -- Fabian