OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 145, 27 July 1995
ELECTION LEGISLATION ENDANGERED.
If the parliament does not pass
legislation on how to fix the boundaries of the 225 single-mandate districts in
the Duma by 30 August, the Central Electoral Committee will declare that the
districts used in 1993 will remain in force, Nikolai Ryabov announced on 26
July, ITAR-TASS reported. The Duma approved the legislation on 14 July, but the
Federation Council rejected it on 21 July, after the Duma had already begun its
summer recess. Ryabov said a special session of the Duma may be necessary next
month, Segodnya reported on 26 July. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
PARTY SPENDING CAPS PLANNED.
According to the Justice Ministry, 259
political parties currently have the right to participate in the elections.
Parties can spend no more than 4.37 billion rubles ($950,000) during the course
of the campaign, according to a draft directive prepared by the Central
Electoral Commission, Russian Public TV reported on 26 July. Parties cannot
accept any money from foreign countries, although there is no mechanism yet in
place to prevent transfers from abroad. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
NEW STATE PRESS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN APPOINTED.
Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin appointed Ivan Laptev, editor-in-chief of Izvestiya in the
1980s, to replace liberal Sergei Gryzunov as chairman of the State Press
Committee, which oversees press subsidies, Russian and Western agencies
reported on 26 July. Laptev, who was chairman of one house of the USSR Supreme
Soviet in 1991, had served as deputy press committee chairman since December
1994. Gryzunov had been appointed in November 1994 but subsequently came under
fire for criticizing official press coverage of the military campaign in
Chechnya. Chernomyrdin first announced Gryzunov would be replaced on 27
February, but President Yeltsin postponed the dismissal following widespread
protests in the journalistic community. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
MOSCOW ALTERS APPROACH TO GROZNY TALKS.
Following a 26 July meeting with
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Minister of Nationalities Vyacheslav
Mikhailov, who heads the Russian delegation to the Grozny negotiations, told
ITAR-TASS that Moscow will no longer press for the signing of a political
accord on the status of the republic. Mikhailov said the Russian side is
changing its approach in order to "get the hostilities to stop" as soon as
possible and "create the conditions for democratic elections" in Chechnya. The
Russian delegation will now call for the inclusion of some subsidiary political
questions, on which there is already agreement, into the final military accord.
The resolution of Chechnya's status will be postponed until after new elections
are held in the republic this November, Mikhailov added. The military accord
calls for the disarmament of Chechen fighters, withdrawal of most Russian
troops from Chechnya, and a prisoner exchange. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT FORMS "GREEN RUSSIA" MOVEMENT.
Six days after several
environmentalist groups announced the creation of a Green Movement to run for
parliament, Environment Minister Viktor Danilov-Danilyan announced that 18
environmentalist groups agreed to join the new government-sponsored electoral
coalition Green Russia, Russian TV and AFP reported on 26 July. Green Russia
will advocate more laws to protect the environment and more state funding for
preservation programs, including a forest protection plan. The new bloc will
include the Ecological Women's Assembly and the Association of Veterinarians,
as well as the Green Party and the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of
Nature, who co-founded the Green Movement on 20 July pledging not to cooperate
with any traditional political parties. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
NEGOTIATIONS TOWARD A COALITION OF COMMUNIST PARTIES.
parties are negotiating to form a united bloc for the parliamentary elections
called Communists of Russia, first secretary of the Russian Communist Workers'
Party Viktor Tyulkin told ITAR-TASS on 26 July. However, Tyulkin said Gennadii
Zyuganov, who leads the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, is still
afraid that uniting with more left-wing communist parties will cost him the
support of centrist voters. Meanwhile, Segodnya reported on 26 July that
Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union and
other hard-line groups including the National Salvation Front have formed the
"People's Resistance 95" project, which will organize demonstrations this year
to commemorate the August 1991 coup, the October 1993 parliamentary uprising,
and the anniversary of the October 1917 Revolution. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
MAVRODI PROMISES TO PAY MMM SHAREHOLDERS IN NOVEMBER.
Duma deputy Sergei
Mavrodi, head of the controversial MMM investment fund, will begin to pay
dividends to MMM investors starting on 16 November, one month before scheduled
parliamentary elections, Radio Rossii reported on 26 July. According to a
notice posted at the MMM office, investors who are members of Mavrodi's party
or who voted for Mavrodi in the November 1994 Duma by-election will be paid
first, followed by veterans, pensioners, and invalids. The payment plan is
likely designed to boost Mavrodi's re-election chances. One day after winning
the November 1994 by-election, Mavrodi suspended all payments to MMM investors,
sparking protests outside MMM offices in Moscow. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
ADOPTIONS BY FOREIGNERS BLOCKED.
The State Duma Committee on
International Affairs has asked Procurator General Aleksei Ilyushenko to
reverse his decision that a law on adoption be applied retroactively, Russian
TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 26 July. According to the law adopted in March,
Russian orphans and handicapped children may be adopted by foreigners only if
no Russian family can be found. However, ITAR-TASS reported that changes in
family and marriage legislation created a "legal vacuum" that halted adoption
procedures for 120 handicapped children, which had started in March 1995. The
Education Ministry had proposed that those adoption procedures that were
started before the amendments came into effect should be completed according to
the old regulations. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
MINERS STRIKE AFTER TEACHERS PAID.
Miners of the Tyrganskaya pits in
Kuzbass are threatening to strike if they do not receive wages owed to them
since May, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 July. The miners refused to descend into
the mines when they learned that money from coal consuming clients had been
allocated by the municipal authorities of the city of Prokopevsk to pay
teachers' salaries. The municipal administration had been unable to pay the
teachers since the end of the last school year. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
SUIT AGAINST BRANCH OF MOON CHURCH.
The Dzerzhinskii raion court of St.
Petersburg is examining a suit demanding a ban on the activities of an
association that is allegedly a branch of the Moon Church, ITAR-TASS reported
on 26 July. The plaintiff in the suit is the St. Petersburg Committee for the
Defense of the Family and Personality. Relatives of people who have joined the
Moon Church have been seeking help at the committee. ITAR-TASS described the
Moon Church as an organization which not only manipulates its members
psychologically but which makes demands on them that are "foreign to
inhabitants of Russia and the conditions of life in our country." -- Alaina
Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. COMPANIES TO MARKET RUSSIAN MILITARY SATELLITE IMAGES.
military satellites will conduct a space survey of several U.S. states and the
resulting images will be processed and marketed by three U.S. companies, Yurii
Milov, director-general of the Russian Space Agency, told ITAR-TASS on 26 July.
Milov said a contract had been signed between Sovinformsputnik and the three
companies: Central Trading Systems, Lambda Tech International, and Aerial
Images. He said Russian military satellites of the Cosmos series would perform
the survey, which would begin next year. While prices for the images had not
yet been set, Milov said they would be "reasonable." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
YELTSIN DISCUSSES BOSNIA WITH KOZYREV AND GRACHEV.
As NATO threatened
the Bosnian Serbs with air strikes, President Boris Yeltsin instructed Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev to continue seeking
an "exclusively political" solution to the conflict in Bosnia, Russian and
Western agencies reported. A high-ranking Russian diplomat told ITAR-TASS on 26
July that during his recent visit to Belgrade, Kozyrev had received assurances
that the Bosnian Serbs would not attack the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, adding
that Russia will soon propose that an additional UN contingent that would
include Russian troops be dispatched to Gorazde. Meanwhile, against the
backdrop of a 26 July U.S. Senate vote to unilaterally lift the UN arms embargo
on the Bosnian government, both presidential aide Sergei Karaganov and Vladimir
Lukin, chairman of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, warned that if
the U.S. takes such action, Russia would consider doing the same for Serbia. --
Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT ADOPTS RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT AGRICULTURE.
government adopted a resolution that orders the Finance Ministry to proceed an
additional 6 trillion rubles ($1.3 billion) from the federal budget to finance
domestic agricultural producers before 1 October, Rossiiskie vesti
reported on 27 July. The 1995 budget envisioned spending of 8.8 trillion
rubles on farm subsidies in 1995. Of 18.1 trillion rubles allotted to farms in
the 1994 budget, only 10 trillion rubles were actually spent. -- Thomas Sigel,
KOZYREV VISITS VIETNAM TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC TIES.
Minister Andrei Kozyrev arrived in Vietnam on 27 July for a two-day visit aimed
at strengthening economic and financial cooperation, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported
the same day. Prior to 1991, the Soviet Union accounted for 60% of Vietnam's
foreign trade; in 1994, it accounted for only 3%. Hanoi has repaid very little
of the $10 billion debt to the Soviet Union which it had accumulated before
1991. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 145, 27 July 1995
ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION IN ASHGABAT.
A group of 100 Turkmen women marched
in a 26 July protest to the presidential palace in Ashgabat, Radio Liberty's
Turkmen service reported the same day. The radio described the action as a
"women's strike" against the decaying economic situation in the republic and
the authoritarian rule of President Niyazov. The protesters were blocked by
militia troops before they could reach the presidential palace. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN HAND IN TURKMEN DEMONSTRATIONS?
A 12 July protest march in
Ashgabat may have been instigated by Moscow, according to an article in the
23-30 July edition of Moskovkie novosti. It pointed out that a week
before the "protest march," Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov signed a
contract in Tehran to deliver 8 billion cubic meters of gas as part of deal to
lay a pipeline linking Turkmenistan to Iranian and European markets. The paper
also notes that Moscow's tolerance of Turkmen opposition activity in Russia and
Ashgabat's unwillingness to agree to Russian plans to locate military bases on
its territory are causes of friction in bilateral relations. Meanwhile,
informal reports indicate some 200 people have been detained in Turkmenistan
for their involvement in the protest march. Among this group, an unidentified
19-year-old youth who reportedly identified other participants in the action
committed suicide upon his release, according to Radio Liberty's Turkmen
service. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
TOO MANY DOLLARS IN KAZAKHSTAN?
The purchasing power of the U.S. dollar
is declining in Kazakhstan because of the inflow of credits from the IMF, the
World Bank, and other international financial institutions, Trud
reported on 25 July. At present, the republic has a trade surplus and the gold
and foreign currency reserves of the National Bank are $1.277 billion and
rising. These are not necessarily positive developments since they suggest that
the economy is unable to absorb the amount of dollars now entering the country.
The trade surplus, for example, may indicate that importers are having problems
gaining access to dollar credits. Kazakh National Bank Chairman Daulet Sembayev
also said many of the largest national enterprises are being transferred to
foreign companies. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
CHERNOMYRDIN AND MARCHUK FAIL TO AGREE ON FLEET.
Three hours of talks
between Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Ukrainian
counterpart, Yevgenii Marchuk, failed to produce an agreement on the
implementation of the Sochi accords on the Black Sea Fleet, Western and Russian
agencies reported. The two prime ministers said Marchuk would return to Moscow
on 2 August to hammer out the details of the division, status, and future
location of the fleet. Both leaders expressed optimism that another week of
work would lead to the final resolution of the remaining problems, while
Chernomyrdin reiterated that President Yeltsin's planned visit to Kiev for the
signing of a Ukrainian-Russian friendship treaty hinges on resolving the
dispute. The fleet issue did not prevent the signing of four other
Russian-Ukrainian agreements on culture, education, environmental protection,
and the transit of Russian oil and gas across Ukraine. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 145, 27 July 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BARS PATRIARCH BURIAL IN ST. SOPHIA'S.
has said he will not agree to allow Patriarch Volodymyr, head of the Ukrainian
Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, to be buried in St. Sophia's
Cathedral, Reuters and Ukrainian TV reported on 26 July. This was Kuchma's
first public statement on the issue since the 18 July clashes between riot
police and mourners at the patriarch's funeral. Kuchma explained his decision
by saying he wanted to avoid further tensions between the various rival
Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. He also noted that his government will strictly
adhere to the separation of Church and state and will refuse to favor one
Church over another. He said the use of force by riot police against unarmed
mourners was "inexcusable" and stressed that top officials who gave orders to
attack the crowd will be held responsible. Kuchma also accused leaders and
supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which broke away from the Moscow
Patriarchate in 1992, of a deliberate effort to destabilize the socio-political
situation in Ukraine by provoking violence. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE BANS HARD CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS.
The Ukrainian government has
banned the use of foreign currency in cash transactions in the retail trade and
service sectors beginning 1 August, UNIAR reported on 26 July. Permission to
accept hard currency as payment will be limited to duty free shops at border
crossings and airports, foreign travel services, and hotels for foreigners. The
National Bank of Ukraine announced the move as a first step toward monetary
reform. Ukrainian Radio reported the same day that President Leonid Kuchma said
Ukraine would introduce its new currency, the hryvna, by the end of October. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE'S ENERGY DEBT.
Ukraine has paid $606 million since the beginning
of the year to meet its debts to Gazprom, Business segodnia (issue no.
27) reported. Besides cash payments, this total includes $10.2 million for the
construction of housing for Gazprom workers, $46.7 million worth of goods, and
$377.2 million in services. Gazprom is to supply Ukraine with gas worth $1.365
billion for the year. According to Vek (issue no. 27), Kiev has spent
more than 60% of the credits it received from the IMF and EBRD to repay its
energy debts to Russia and Turkmenistan. The Deutsche Bank, which has been
advising Ukraine on economic and financial affairs, has urged Ukraine to change
its energy policies and develop gas and oil deposits discovered in Crimea to
reduce its dependency on Russian and Turkmenistan. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
BELARUSIAN-RUSSIAN CUSTOMS UNION ENCOUNTERS DIFFICULTIES.
Television on 26 July reported that the customs union between Belarus and
Russia, set up less than two months ago, is being violated by the Belarusians.
The agreement on the customs union stipulated that Belarus levy excise duties
on various goods in line with Russian duties. But the Belarusian customs
committee has apparently levied fees on only a third of the goods considered by
the Russians to be covered by this provision. As a result, cars, gasoline,
precious metals, and other products can be imported cheaply from Russia into
Belarus. The report gave the example of four Belarusian importers who managed
to import some 4,000 BAZov trucks from Russia to Belarus in less than two
months without paying $5 million customs duties on them. The customs committee
is now trying to collect the duties retroactively. The television report said
it hoped Belarus would soon institute proper controls over imports from Russia.
-- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
CONGRESS OF ESTONIAN RURAL PARTIES.
Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told a
congress of rural parties in Tallinn on 26 July that the biggest crisis in the
country's agricultural sector was over, BNS reported. But despite his optimism,
the congress passed a resolution calling on the government and parliament to
exempt private farmers from income tax and to halve the sales tax on
agricultural products. It also called for stricter food-quality and veterinary
checks on the Estonian border. Vahi said it was possible that the country may
introduce import duties on some farm goods, adding these would not exceed 10%.
-- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS COMMERCIAL BANK REGULATIONS.
cabinet on 18 July adopted regulations on commercial banks, bankruptcies, and
guarantees for depositors. Because the Saeima was not in session at the time,
the rules remain valid unless rejected by that body. Prime Minister Maris
Gailis on 26 July met with the leaders of caucuses to discuss the new
regulations, BNS reported. With the exception of the For the Homeland and
Freedom caucus, the leaders raised no objections and proposed various
amendments, which Gailis agreed to. The Saeima is to vote on 27 July on whether
to approve the regulations. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH RIGHT IN DISARRAY.
Preparations for this year's presidential
elections are working to divide rather than unite Poland's right wing, as a
growing number of groups claim the right to select a single right-wing
candidate for president. The landscape became more confused on 27 July when a
number of parties and splinter groups, including the Confederation for an
Independent Poland and the Non-Party Reform Bloc, announced the formation of
the Patriotic Political Camp, which plans to collect petitions for five
different potential candidates. The new group's formation appears as conflict
threatens to divide another umbrella organization, the St. Catherine's Convent,
which has been unable to agree which candidate won its own straw poll. In other
news, the government's Public Administration Office has worried opposition
parties by instructing voivodship chiefs to gather information on presidential
campaign rallies, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI,
CZECH TRADE DEFICIT DEEPENS.
The Czech Republic's foreign trade deficit
for the first half of 1995 totaled 46.9 billion koruny, the Statistics Office
reported on 26 July. For the same period last year, the country had a surplus
of 4.2 billion koruny. This year, imports have increased by 32.4% to 261.6
billion koruny, while exports have risen only 6.4% to 214.7 billion koruny.
However, the June deficit of 9.2 billion koruny was less than in May, when the
shortfall was 11.4 billion koruny. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAKIA CABINET WANTS TO REINTRODUCE DEATH PENALTY.
The Slovak cabinet
on 25 July approved a note to the Council of Europe asking that the council
revise its recommendation that the death penalty be abolished, Reuters reported
the following day. The cabinet argued that Slovak citizens believe "the current
protection against, and effective prevention of, brutal crimes is
insufficient." It stressed that between January 1991 and May 1995, Slovak
courts found 48 people guilty of unusually heinous murders, adding that Slovaks
needed protection from organized crime. The death penalty was abolished in
Czechoslovakia in May 1990 and is forbidden by the Slovak Constitution. Opinion
polls published by TASR on 26 July showed that 70% of Slovaks support
reintroducing capital punishment, while only 20% are against it. The Slovak
National Party, a member of the government coalition, has long been in favor of
reintroducing the death penalty. Robert Fico, a deputy for the opposition Party
of the Democratic Left who represents Slovakia on the European Commission for
Human Rights, said he believes the death penalty is important in the fight
against crime, Pravda reported on 27 July. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 145, 27 July 1995
U.S. SENATE VOTES TO LIFT BOSNIAN ARMS EMBARGO.
The Senate voted 69-29
on 26 July to end the embargo against the Bosnian government once UNPROFOR
withdraws or within 12 weeks of Sarajevo's asking it to do so. Majority Leader
Bob Dole said it was a matter of "whether some small country that's been
ravaged on all sides, pillaged, women raped, children killed, has any rights in
this world." He received strong bi-partisan support and enough votes to
override President Bill Clinton's threatened veto. Democratic Senator Diane
Feinstein warned that the Serbs want to set up "a Fourth Reich dedicated to the
genocide of a people just because they are different." Bosnian Prime Minister
Haris Silajdzic had asked the Senate to "untie our hands so that we may protect
ourselves," and later welcomed the outcome of the vote. The VOA called the
ballot "a stinging rebuke of [Clinton's] Bosnian policy." -- Patrick Moore,
MLADIC CALLS ON GORAZDE TO SURRENDER.
Bosnian Serb commander General
Ratko Mladic told the defenders of Gorazde that if they laid down their arms,
his forces would not attack them, Bosnian Serb Radio reported on 26 July.
Meanwhile, what the VOA called "another example of Serbian ethnic cleansing"
continues at Zepa, where the UN said that 8,000 refugees are "on the run . . .
[in] another humanitarian disaster in the making," AFP reported. There is still
no word on the fate of Zepa's military-aged men, but refugees arriving in
Sarajevo and Kladanj called the UN presence "useless," the BBC said on 27 July.
The refugees were dumped on the edge of no-man's land, which they had to cross
on foot to Bosnian government lines. UN mission chief Yasushi Akashi said, "We
are watching the situation most attentively." AFP reported from Geneva that UN
special rapporteur for human rights, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, has resigned his post
in protest over the international community's inaction in the wake of the
disasters at Srebrenica and Zepa. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATS MAKE BREAKTHROUGH SOUTH OF BIHAC.
Hina on 27 July reported that
Bosnian Croat forces (HVO) have made great advances along the line between
Tomislavgrad and Grahovo. The biggest gains are in the Livno region, and the
HVO is now 4 km from Serb-held Glamoc and 8 km from the strategic town of
Grahovo. Some 250 Serbian refugees fled to Knin, while the total of Muslim
refugees from the Serbian advance to the north has reached 8,000, according to
the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Fierce fighting continues on all
fronts around the Bihac pocket, which has a population of about 180,000. Local
Muslim renegade Fikret Abdic on 26 July proclaimed a Republic of West Bosnia,
but the BBC called his gesture "meaningless" since Abdic is dependent on the
Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOUTROS GHALI DELEGATES AUTHORITY FOR AIR STRIKES.
on 25 July reported that the UN secretary-general has authorized the UNPROFOR
commander, General Bernard Janvier, to approve air strikes in conjunction with
NATO, effective immediately. The Atlantic alliance was anxious to remove the
hesitant Boutros Boutros Ghali and especially Akashi from the chain of command.
Turkey, meanwhile, announced a long-term military cooperation agreement with
Bosnia but said that it will not unilaterally break the arms embargo, which it
nonetheless opposes. The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying
that "a genocide is going on in Zepa, Srebrenica, and Bihac . . . [and that] no
UN official must remain neutral in the face of the aggressor and the victim."
Iran declared a week of solidarity with Bosnia, and in Athens a demonstration
against war and nationalism took place in front of the rump Yugoslav embassy,
BETA reported on 26 July. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
WHAT DID MILOSEVIC TELL KOZYREV?
BETA on 26 July reported that at his
recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Andreii Kozyrev, Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic used the occasion to inform Russia that Belgrade is prepared
to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina, but only in exchange for a the lifting of all
sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Since at least May 1995, Milosevic has
insisted that he will barter recognition for a lifting of sanctions, prompting
a wave of diplomatic initiatives aimed at securing such an exchange. -- Stan
Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PREMIER IN ROMANIA.
Vladimir Meciar on 26 July began a two-day
official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. In an initial statement to
the press, he praised bilateral relations and expressed the hope that economic
cooperation could be further expanded. He also said that problems related to
ethnic minorities in the two countries will be discussed during his visit. Both
Romania and Slovakia have large Hungarian minorities. Meciar the same day met
with his Romanian counterpart, Nicolae Vacaroiu, to discuss developing ties in
infrastructure, banking, services, and privatization. They also considered
prospects for their countries' integration in Euro-Atlantic structures.
Finally, Meciar met with Romanian Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman, Chamber of
Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase, and representatives of the Slovak minority in
Romania. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SETTLES ACCOUNTS WITH INDEPENDENT PRESS.
Romanian government, in a communique released on 26 July, sharply attacked the
independent daily Romania libera for an article published the same day.
Signed by the newspaper's director, Petre Mihai Bacanu, the article alleged
that Romanian Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu "endorsed oil contraband" to the former
Yugoslavia. The cabinet dismissed the allegations as "gross fabrication ...that
seriously damages Romania's [international] credibility." It accused the
newspaper of waging a campaign of "forgery, calumny and denigration" aimed at
compromising Romania's chances of joining Euro-Atlantic structures. It also
stated its intention to take Bacanu to court on charges of calumny against the
cabinet and the premier. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
DESTRUCTION OF 14TH ARMY AMMUNITION HALTED.
Local authorities in the
Transdniester region of Moldova have forced the Russian 14th Army to stop the
experimental destruction of old ammunition, Russian agencies reported.
ITAR-TASS was told on 26 July that Igor Smirnov, leader of the breakaway
region, put a stop to the operation. Interfax the same day said that city
officials in Rybnitsa--where the tests were conducted--had objected. Some 2,000
freight car-loads of ammunition are stockpiled in ammunition dumps near the
village of Kolbasna, on the border with Ukraine. Some of the ammunition was
produced before World War II. Interfax reported that the Russian military and
the local administration were continuing negotiations on a suitable site to
continue destroying the obsolete explosives. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS LIKELY IN OCTOBER.
Bulgarian Socialist Party
caucus leader Krasimir Premyanov on 26 July said local elections will most
likely take place on 15 October, Bulgarian media reported the same day. He was
speaking after meeting with President Zhelyu Zhelev to discuss the issue.
Zhelev on 27 July will meet with leaders of the opposition caucuses to discuss
the date of the elections and possible changes in the composition of the
Central Electoral Commission. Meanwhile, the opposition parties have again
failed to agree on a common candidate for mayoral elections in the capital. At
a meeting of the six parties that signed a cooperation agreement in June, the
People's Union insisted that the national leaderships of the parties convene to
discuss the matter. This was dismissed by the other organizations. The Union of
Democratic Forces, nonetheless, invited the group's leaderships to meet on 27
July, saying the nomination of a common candidate is the "duty of all
non-communist forces." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN OFFICIAL ACCUSED OF VIOLATING SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP
Former Director-General of the Bulgarian State Railways Atanas
Tonev has been charged in connection with violations of the UN embargo against
rump Yugoslavia, Standart and Trud reported on 27 July. Tonev has
been charged in 10 instances, but prosecutors did not say what evidence they
have against him. The press says the charges include the illegal export of
fuel, furniture, and cement to the rump Yugoslavia. Standart reports
that former deputy prime ministers, ministers, and parliamentary deputies will
soon be questioned. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT POSTPONES REVIEW OF NANO'S CASE.
At the request
of Prosecutor-General Alush Dragoshi, the Supreme Court has postponed reviewing
the case of Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano until September, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 27 July. Dragoshi explained that Nano's appeal writ
was missing. He also requested the removal of Supreme Court Chief Judge Zef
Brozi from the case, but the court rejected that request. Dragoshi argued that
Brozi was biased, since he had announced earlier that Nano should be released.
Nano is serving a prison term for the misappropriation of some $9 million in
Italian aid. He has appealed for his release, saying his term has been reduced
by various amnesties and the new penal code. An appeals court ruled earlier
that Nano should have received a higher sentence under the new penal code and
therefore should stay in jail. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIANS PROTEST DRAFT LAND LAW.
Albanian demonstrators had to use a
foreign express delivery service to send a petition to the parliament
protesting a draft law land after lawmakers told them it had to arrive by post,
Reuters reports on 27 July. The protesters had tried in vain for two days to
hand over the list of signatures before resorting to use of the delivery
service. Opposition parties have criticized the draft law, saying it will
undermine the property rights of those who owned property before communism. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GREEK PRIME MINISTER ON DISPUTE WITH MACEDONIA.
Andreas Papandreou said
Greece and Macedonia do not agree on 10% of the disputed questions, MIC
reported on 26 July, citing the Greek daily Elevtherotypia. Papandreou
said Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov continues to stress that the Greek
embargo against his country must be lifted before he will make any concessions.
The Greek premier said Greece cannot lift the embargo unless Gligorov
undertakes "specific measures." According to Papandreou, words are not enough.
Both the Macedonian flag and constitution must be changed before the embargo is
lifted, he said. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave