OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 149, 2 August 1995
IMPLEMENTATION OF GROZNY ACCORD BEGINS . . .
Aslan Maskhadov and
Anatolii Romanov, commanders of Chechen and federal military forces, met in
Grozny on 1 August to begin the work of the joint commission charged with
overseeing the military accord signed by Russian and Chechen negotiators on 30
July, NTV reported. The two commanders issued a statement saying that all
military actions on both sides would cease at midnight on 2 August, local time.
They also promised to release shortly a concrete timetable for the
implementation of the agreement. When asked whether Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev accepted the agreement, Maskhadov said Dudaev had approved it, except
for a few minor points. Maskhadov attributed Dudaev's earlier statements
repudiating the agreement to the Chechen president's "hot-headedness." -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
. . . BUT DOUBTS REMAIN ABOUT ITS PROSPECTS.
Adding to doubts about the
ultimate fate of the military agreement, Dudaev has fired Chechen chief
negotiator Usman Imaev for "betraying the people of Chechnya." Imaev confirmed
his dismissal in an exclusive interview with NTV on 2 August, adding that the
decree which dismissed him had actually been signed by Dudaev on 24 July, prior
to the signing of the military accord. Imaev refused to comment on how his
dismissal might effect the implementation of the accord. Dudaev appointed his
minister of education, Khodzha Akhmed Gelikhanov, as his new chief negotiator.
Gelikhanov will lead the Chechen delegation in the next round of talks,
scheduled to continue discussions on the unresolved issue of Chechnya's status.
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
JUDGES DISCUSS "CHECHNYA CASE" VERDICT.
Constitutional Court Chairman
Vladimir Tumanov said on 1 August that the court's majority decision in the
"Chechnya case" was based on the principle that the federal government has the
right to use force to prevent the secession of a federation member, Russian
media reported. Four judges, Viktor Luchin, Valerii Zorkin, Boris Ebzeev, and
Nikolai Vitruk, announced that they fundamentally disagreed with the majority
decision. Vitruk, told Izvestiya that the majority verdict could lead to
a dangerous increase in presidential power by endorsing the view that the
president can "enforce" general provisions of the constitution, even without a
legal basis. Vitruk also complained that the Russian legal system contains many
loopholes that allow the president issue arbitrary decrees. The four
dissenters, plus another three judges who disagree with particular aspects of
the decision, will soon issue "special opinions" outlining their disagreements
with the majority verdict, Izvestiya reported. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
MORE ON DISBANDING OF KOVALEV COMMISSION.
Sergei Filatov, the
presidential chief of staff, said President Boris Yeltsin decided to disband
Sergei Kovalev's presidential Human Rights Commission after Kovalev called the
president a "constitutional criminal" during the recent Constitutional Court
case on the Yeltsin's Chechnya decrees, Segodnya reported on 1 August.
Kovalev said only an organization completely independent of the state could
defend individual rights and did not exclude the possibility that he will set
up such a group. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
IZVESTIYA ON CAMPAIGN FINANCING.
The electoral law encourages
wealthy candidates to engage in deceptive practices by setting the maximum
amount of money that a candidate can spend on his own campaign too low,
according to Izvestiya on 1 August. The limit a candidate can contribute
is 1,000 times the monthly wage which works out to 43.7 million rubles.
Additionally, recent rulings by the Central Electoral Commission did not put
spending caps on the amounts that can be spent on gathering signatures in
support of candidates and parties. This phase of the campaign is often the most
expensive since individual candidates must gather 5,000 signatures and parties
need 200,000. According to Aleksandr Sobyanin, the head of an independent group
researching the elections, this feature of the rules benefits Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia because it has access to considerable
resources. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CITIZENSHIP COMMISSION ON REFUGEE STATUS LAW.
The chairman of the
Commission on Citizenship, Abdulah Mikitaev, told Russian agencies on 1 August
that recent legislation on refugee status has had to take into account a
different situation than in the past, when small numbers of political refugees
came to the Soviet Union from capitalist countries for ideological reasons. Now
there are thought to be tens of thousands of refugees, mostly from other former
Soviet republics, Afghanistan, and Korea. Izvestiya reported on 2 August
that the most likely candidates for receiving refugee status or Russian
citizenship would be people such as former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov
and officers in the Afghan army under former President Najibullah.
Izvestiya also reported that Kurdish immigrants would probably find few
obstacles to receiving citizenship and political refugee status. -- Alaina
Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
FOREIGN TRADE REACHES $56 MILLION.
Russia's foreign trade for the first
half of 1995 amounted to $56 million, a 20% increase over the same period in
1994, according to the External Economic Affairs Ministry, Radio Rossii
reported on 1 August. According to the ministry, the increase in foreign trade
has helped Russia achieve a positive trade balance. External trade growth was
attributed to an increase in oil, gas, metal, and raw material sales. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
BUSINESS KILLINGS LINKED TO ALUMINUM.
The deaths of three prominent
businessmen are linked to the trade and production of aluminum, according to
Izvestiya on 2 August.
They cited the deaths of bankers Oleg
Kantor and Vadim Iafyasov of Yugorskii Bank (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21
July) and the recent death of Sergei Brzhosnevskii, director of the Moscow
branch of the Volgograd aluminum factory, who was shot on 31 July while
entering his home. Izvestiya speculated that the success of aluminum
stocks and ventures in recent months due to privatization has drawn the
attention of criminals. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
DOCTORS EXAGGERATE MALARIA OUTBREAK.
After lengthy tests, Russian
epidemiological inspectors have determined that there were only four cases of
malaria in Voronezh rather than 140 as earlier believed, ITAR-TASS reported on
31 July (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 July). The epidemiologists said the
main reason for the mistake is local specialists' lack of experience with
malaria. The first patient had been diagnosed correctly, and then when other
patients were found to have similar symptoms, the doctors panicked and decided
that the region is suffering a full-blown epidemic. Moscow medical inspection
official Olga Goronenkova claimed that the malaria microbe was brought into
Russia from other countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as elsewhere,
although she admitted that more than 60% of the 820 reservoirs in Moscow are
populated by mosquitoes, some potentially carrying malaria, Vechernyaya
Moskva reported on 29 July. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
GOSKOMSTAT RELEASES STRIKE DATA.
The State Statistics Committee
announced that workers at 829 enterprises struck during the period between
January and June 1995, Radio Mayak reported on 1 August. An estimated 185,000
individuals took part in the work stoppages. Most of the strikes were in
educational institutions and the energy sector. The most common cause was the
failure to receive wages on time. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CHIEF OF STAFF ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION.
Kolesnikov, chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, told a government
session on 1 August that 510 billion rubles ($110 million) will be needed in
1996 to meet Russia's commitments on destroying its stockpile of chemical
weapons, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia has admitted having 40,000 tons of chemical
weapons and agents. According to the report, the government had instructed the
Finance Ministry to provide funds for the elimination of this stockpile in the
form of a special budget line item. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
AIRCRAFT CARRIERS TO BE SCRAPPED IN RUSSIA, NOT KOREA.
authorities signed a protocol of intent with the Dalintermet joint-stock
company of Nakhodka on 1 August calling for the company to scrap two aircraft
carriers, the Minsk and Novorossiisk, ITAR-TASS reported. The two warships have
already been purchased by a South Korean company for their scrap metal. In
April, customs authorities had blocked the transfer of the two ships, fearing
that they still contained classified military equipment. Once the ships are
scrapped by Dalintermet, the metal will be sent to the South Korean company. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
MOSCOW WARNS CROATIA TO HALT OFFENSIVE.
The Russian government has
officially protested the recent attacks by Croatian forces in western Bosnia,
Russian agencies reported on 1 August. The protest sent to Zagreb warned
Franjo Tudjman that the Croatian offensive could
lead to an escalation of hostilities. Izvestiya commented on 2 August
that Moscow's concern with the Croatian offensive is not shared by its Western
partners in the international contact group, who hope that the Croatian attacks
around Bihac will relieve them of the responsibility of carrying out their
threats to use NATO air power to protect the UN "safe zone" there. The paper
added that divisions between Moscow and the West will undermine recent Russian
initiatives aimed at ending the Bosnian conflict. Yeltsin's proposed Bosnia
peace plan evoked only skepticism from the Western powers, while his offer to
send Russian troops to reinforce UN peacekeepers in Gorazde is unlikely to find
acceptance because it would greatly complicate the use of NATO air power to
defend the Muslim enclave. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
SUNKEN SUBMARINE NO DANGER.
The Soviet nuclear submarine
Komsomolets, which sank in the North Sea in April 1989, poses no threat
to the local ecology, according to a communique issued in Brussels on 1 August
by the international Komsomolets Fund. Fund representatives also said that
contrary to some speculation in the media, there is no danger that either of
the two nuclear warheads aboard the submarine will explode, ITAR-TASS reported.
They guaranteed that there would be no plutonium leakage "in the next 20-30
years." Experts are said to be continuously monitoring the wreck with special
equipment. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
TRETYAKOV GALLERY TURNS TO PRIVATE SOURCES FOR FINANCING.
Tretyakov Art Gallery has turned to private sources to meet expenses that range
from preserving paintings to paying salaries, Delovoi mir reported on 1
August. The firm Boston Consulting Group, which has worked with other large art
museums of the world, is providing free services to help the Tretyakov achieve
financial stability. Sponsors have contributed $300,000 to the gallery, of
which 60% has already been transferred to the gallery's account. More than half
of the sponsors are foreign companies. Russian corporate sponsors include the
banks, Vozrozhdenie, Unikombank, Alfa-bank, and Stolichnyi Bank and the
investment companies Nika, Rinako Plus, and Troika Dialog. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 149, 2 August 1995
FINAL DRAFT OF KAZAKH CONSTITUTION PUBLISHED.
The text of Kazakhstan's
new constitution, which grants the president expanded executive powers
including the right to dissolve parliament, was published on 1 August,
according to Reuters. According to the draft, parliament can impeach the
president by a three-quarters vote at a joint session of the new two-chamber
legislature, but the president has the power to choose the prime minister and
personally appoint seven members of the 47-member Senate, the upper house. The
president cannot introduce legislation, but parliament can vote to give him
lawmaking powers for one year by a two-thirds vote at a joint session. The
constitution permits private land ownership, but maintains government control
over water and natural resources. The Constitutional Court will be replaced by
a Constitutional Council; the president and parliament will jointly appoint its
members. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
IZVESTIYA'S ASHGABAT CORRESPONDENT ARRESTED.
On 29 July
Izvestiya published a lengthy article concerning the closure and seizure
of the newspaper's Ashgabat bureau on 20 July. According to the article, the
correspondent , Vladimir Kuleshov, was picked up on 18 July by the Committee
for National Security (KNB) on charges of conducting "anti-Turkmenistan
propaganda." He was interrogated by a battery of officials and police officers
including the state procurator, deputy minister of justice, and the chief of
the department for the fight against organized crime. They argued that he was
not an accredited journalist in Turkmenistan and that he would be judged as a
citizen of the republic "who lies against his own country." The paper pointed
out that Kuleshov has represented Izvestiya in Turkmenistan since 1985;
it also noted that Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry did not respond to an
official request to accredit Kuleshov last year. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
SEGODNYA VIEWS UZBEK-RUSSIAN AGREEMENTS.
An article in
Segodnya on 1 August contended that Uzbekistan benefited more than
Russia from the 26-29 July bilateral talks held in Tashkent. The idea,
circulated by Russian diplomats, that a "considerable advance" had been reached
in the political sphere and economic problems were "finally solved," is overly
optimistic, according to the newspaper. During Prime Minister Victor
Chernomyrdin's visit, 15 bilateral agreements were signed. However, Uzbek
diplomats managed to get accords relating to the Russian minority in Uzbekistan
removed from the agenda. Likewise, an agreement on the status of the Russian
media was not discussed. Segodnya argued that the protocol on broadening
bilateral military relations was the only "serious" political agreement signed.
Noting that Uzbekistan's debts to Russia are "ludicrously" small due to
inflation, the paper pointed out that the problem of mutual debts remains
unexplored. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 149, 2 August 1995
SLOVAK GOVERNMENT ON ROMA DEATH.
The cabinet on 1 August approved a
statement expressing sorrow over the death the previous day of the Romani youth
who was beaten up and set on fire by skinheads (see OMRI Daily Digest,
25 July 1995). The government condemned the "use of any kind of violence,
brutality, racism, [and] civil and ethnic hatred." It also promised to
implement protective measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future,
Pravda reported. Meanwhile, Maria Bartosikova, parliamentary deputy for
the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), told Sme on 2
August that the incident "was not a racist attack" but simply a statement by
"people who want to live in peace, who oppose those who steal from them, beat
them, damage houses, and threaten their children." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
SLOVAK NATIONALISTS ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC.
Slovak National Party
(SNS) Chairman Jan Slota on 2 August said his party will request that
discussion on amending the criminal code to provide for protection of the
republic be scheduled for the September parliamentary session. On plans to
implement alternative education, Slota said "every normal Slovak citizen and
parent should want his child to master the state language." He also noted that
Education Minister and SNS member Eva Slavkovska, who has often been attacked
by the opposition, has the "full trust and support of the SNS." With regard to
the frequent allegations that the SNS and ethnic Hungarian political parties
cannot exist without the other, Slota noted that the SNS would be "very pleased
if there were not a single Hungarian political party" in Slovakia. Slota also
repeated previous allegations that the opposition is preparing a "parliamentary
putsch" this fall. According to Slota, "dirty money" that will be used to "buy"
deputies from the ruling coalition arrived in Slovakia last week. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC NEWS.
Viktor Pynzenyk, former deputy prime minister
for economic reforms, told Holos Ukrainy on 29 July that monthly
inflation in Ukraine rose from 4.6% in May to 4.8% in June but that interest
rates continued to fall, from 122% annually to 91.9% in the same period.
Pynzenyk said the National Bank of Ukraine's annual refinancing rate fell from
a high of 300% last year to 60% in June. He added that real wages in Ukraine
have risen by 6.5% since last September but that the stabilization of the
exchange rate meant that the average wage vis-a-vis the dollar rose from $26.40
per month in January to $47.90 in May. On a less positive note, Ukrainian Radio
reported recently that Ukraine's GDP declined 12% in the first half of 1995. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN BORDER COOPERATION.
Viktor Bannykh and Dimitrie Luca,
commanders of the Ukrainian and Romanian border guards, are preparing to sign a
treaty on cooperation over border issues, Ukrainian Radio reported on 31 July.
The two commanders said that the situation along the Ukrainian-Romanian border
was stable and that there was no evidence of conflicts brewing there. The
Ukrainian side said one problem along the frontier was the increasing number of
illegal immigrants on the Ukrainian-Moldovan border who are crossing into
Romania. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT.
parliament unanimously ratified the association agreement with the European
Union at an extraordinary session on 1 August, BNS reported. Estonia, together
with Latvia and Lithuania, signed the agreement on 12 June. The EU last year
signed similar association agreements with Poland, the Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. Estonia's agreement will go into
effect after the parliaments of the EU member countries ratify it. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIA TO SELECT CANDIDATES FOR SERVICE IN BALTBAT.
Juris Kiukucans, a
senior official in the Latvian National Armed Forces, told BNS on 1 August that
the first candidates for the Latvian unit of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion
will be selected early next week. Baltbat needs 130 soldiers, but only 75
troops who served in the Soviet army or are serving in the Latvian armed forces
have expressed willingness to join Baltbat. Training is scheduled to begin on
16 October, and the Baltbat units will participated in UN peacekeeping missions
in 1997. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH FINANCE MINISTER ACCEPTS TV BOARD'S AUDITS.
Minister Grzegorz Kolodko, representing the treasury as the owner of Polish
Television, announced on 1 August that he has approved the PTV Board of
Director's audits for 1994, Polish media reported. The minister postponed his
decision in May. His announcement puts an end to rumors that both the board and
PTV chief Wieslaw Walendziak would be removed before the presidential
elections. Walendziak has been accused of right-wing sympathies by the
left-wing ruling coalition. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
POLAND MAY BUY U.S. JET FIGHTERS.
Polish Defense Minister Zbigniew
Okonski on 1 August announced that Poland was considering buying at least 100
U.S. F-16 fighters, CET reported the next day. U.S. Secretary of the Air Force
Sheila Widnall, who was in Warsaw from 31 July-2 August, said the U.S.
government has decided to let Polish experts see classified details of the F-16
and will send a team to Poland within 30 days. Okonski said that Poland needed
to replace its force of 220 aging MiG-21 fighters within three years and that
it was considering French, Swedish, and Russian aircraft as well as the F-16s.
He said the four countries will present their candidate aircraft at the air
force base in Deblin, central Poland, later this month. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
CZECHS CONFIRM SALE OF "STEALTH-SPOTTER" TO KYRGYZSTAN.
Industry Ministry spokesman Kamil Cermak on 1 August confirmed that the Czech
government has authorized the sale to Kyrgyzstan of an electronic system that
can detect the latest "stealth" aircraft, Mlada fronta dnes reported.
The "Tamara" device, which costs around $17 million and can be mounted on
trucks, is ready for export but has not left Czech territory, Cermak added. He
told Czech TV that it is "highly unlikely" that a Tamara is being used by
Bosnian Serbs (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 July 1995). Cermak said no
Tamara systems have been sold to former Yugoslavia but it cannot be ruled out
that a customer government had re-exported one to a third country. -- Steve
Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 149, 2 August 1995
SERBS HIT CROATS WITH JETS, ROCKETS.
The 2 August Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Krajina Serbs attacked Gospic with rockets
the previous day. They also hit Croatian forces near Strmica with three Galeb
jet aircraft. The International Herald Tribune quoted Bosnian government
sources as saying that Belgrade has made great efforts in recent months to beef
up the armed forces of the Krajina and Bosnian Serbs. Rump Yugoslavia has sent
tanks, aircraft, missiles, and up to 40,000 troops, who could easily have been
hidden among local Serb forces. Foreign military observers nonetheless saw
troops around Zepa wearing rump Yugoslav army patches. Bosnian General Mustafa
Hairulahlovic said that "the Yugoslav army is operating in the middle of our
country." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
KARADZIC, MARTIC APPEAL TO MILOSEVIC FOR HELP.
Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic and his Krajina counterpart, Milan Martic, held a crisis
meeting on 1 August and urged Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to come to
their aid, the BBC reported. The move is probably designed as a political ploy
to force Milosevic to take a public stand on behalf of the Serbs of Bosnia and
Krajina. The Serbian president has fallen out with his two former proteges over
tactics and power relationships, but their strategic goals remain the same.
Milosevic has made sure that in Croatia and Bosnia as well as in rump
Yugoslavia, the Serbian military machine is both well integrated and funded.
This was shown by Serbian payroll and other documents captured by the Croats in
Western Slavonia in May. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. HOUSE VOTES TO LIFT ARMS EMBARGO.
The House of Representatives
voted 298-128 on 1 August to end the embargo against the Bosnian government.
Like the measure passed in the Senate, it will only come into effect after
considerable delay and does not provide for any arms sales or training. The VOA
said that President Bill Clinton feels he can get enough votes to enforce his
expected veto, but the bills passed both houses with strong bipartisan support.
Elsewhere, NATO officials agreed on a plan to protect the remaining UN-declared
Bosnian "safe areas" even if the Serbs only mass troops there and even if the
Krajina Serbs attack from Croatian territory. But it remains to be seen whether
NATO will want to face Serbian air defense systems and have pilots shot down. A
European diplomat told the International Herald Tribune on 2 August that
the problem is further complicated by the British, French, and Russian
willingness to accept a Serbian project to redraw the map of Bosnia, which
Washington and Bonn oppose. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
AKASHI CALLS ANOTHER MEETING.
UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi will hold
talks in Geneva on 3 August with Croatian and Krajina Serb representatives. The
VOA said the previous day that there is little chance of a breakthrough and
that Croatia agreed only because of Western pressure. Slobodna Dalmacija
quoted UN officials as saying that Croatian troops are preparing to attack
Knin. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the German
Foreign Ministry has warned all German tourists to leave the Croatian coast
south of Rijeka and the islands south of Split. This could further hamstring
Croatia's efforts to revive its vital tourist industry. Finally, the
International Herald Tribune said that the UN has accused the Bosnian
army of using snipers in Sarajevo against the civilian population. The
government denounced the charges, saying that "instead of doing its duty, the
United Nations wishes to blame both sides equally. By doing so, [it] can
justify remaining impassive." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
MILOSEVIC REITERATES COMMITMENT TO PEACE.
Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic on 1 August sent letters to Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic
and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic appealing for peace, international
media reported. According to Reuters, Milosevic noted that continued fighting
would result in "enormous human and material losses." The letters were sent one
day before the international Contact Group's scheduled meeting in Washington.
The BBC on 2 August reported that Milosevic contacted Mladic and Izetbegovic
just hours before Karadzic and Martic issued appeals for military backing from
Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
NIMITZ IN MACEDONIA.
U.S. special envoy Matthew Nimitz, mediating in the
Greek-Macedonian dispute, ended a two-day visit to Macedonia on 1 August,
Nova Makedonija reported the following day. Nimitz met with Macedonian
President Kiro Gligorov and Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski. Talks focused
on the prospects for direct Greek-Macedonian talks and for normalization of
relations. The Macedonian side stressed its willingness to participate in such
talks, but only on an equal footing. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
AMNESTY FOR TWO ETHNIC ALBANIANS IN MACEDONIA.
Two ethnic Albanians
sentenced two years ago for allegedly preparing an armed uprising have been
amnestied by Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, Flaka reported on 2
August. Seven more Albanians sentenced on the same charges were released after
completing their terms. Among the released were two former secretaries of the
Party of Democratic Prosperity and a former deputy defense minister. The
Albanians were sentenced for allegedly building up a network of people who were
to take part in an armed uprising, but Albanian politicians in Macedonia
claimed that the trials were staged and repeatedly demanded that the accused be
released. * Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA LAUNCHES NEW WAVE OF PRIVATIZATION.
Romanian authorities on 1
August started the distribution of nominal coupons as part of a plan to
accelerate the privatization process in accordance with a law passed this
spring. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, Minister of State Mircea Cosea,
chairman of the government's Council for Coordination, Strategy, and Reform,
put the value of each coupon at 975,000 lei (some $485). The voucher cannot be
sold but can be traded for shares in state firms slated for privatization.
Romania plans to privatize some 3,000 state-run enterprises this year. -- Dan
Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN OPPOSITION ATTACKS AGRICULTURAL POLICY.
Leaders of Romanian's
main opposition parties on 1 August met in Bucharest to examine the
government's agricultural policy, Radio Bucharest reported. They said they
planned to ask the parliament to discuss at an extraordinary session the
government's ability to purchase this year's wheat harvest, which totals more
than 7 million tons. They were particularly critical of the fact that the
state-owned Romcereal company has a monopoly on wheat purchases in Romania. The
opposition also wants the parliament to pass a law on support for Romanian
agriculture. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN ELECTORAL ALLIANCE BECOMES PERMANENT.
The Alliance of
Democratic Forces (AFD), which was initially set up as an electoral bloc, has
become a permanent political alliance, Infotag announced on 31 July. The AFD
comprises seven parties and organizations, including the United Democratic
Congress (CDU) and the Party of Liberal Democracy. CDU Chairman Valeriu Matei
said the AFD members will continue to preserve their individual political
identities, though future mergers are not excluded. He dismissed speculation
that AFD members may be absorbed by the Party of National Revival and Concord
or the Party for Social Progress, two new formations that split from the ruling
Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. Like the AFD, these two parties are
seeking to establish themselves as centrist forces. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI,
BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.
Standart on 2 August reported
that the opposition failed to agree on a common mayoral candidate for Sofia. A
meeting scheduled for the previous day was canceled when representatives of the
Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) did not show up. SDS Deputy Chairman Petar
Stoyanov denied that a meeting was scheduled, but representatives of other
parties contradicted him. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court on 1 August
announced it will review the local election law in September. Both the SDS and
President Zhelyu Zhelev had asked the court to review some of the law's
provisions that, they claim, contradict the constitution. Judge Ivan Grigorov
was cited by Demokratsiya as saying that irrespective of its ruling, the
court "will not complicate or hamper . . . the elections." -- Stefan Krause,
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HIS ELECTION WAS "A DEAL" BETWEEN PARTIES.
Zhelyu Zhelev, in an interview with Bulgarian Radio on 1 August, said his
election by the Grand National Assembly in August 1990 resulted from a deal
between the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Union of Democratic Forces. He
rejected allegations that the BSP dictated the conditions for his elections.
According to Zhelev, the Socialists agreed on his election in order to avoid an
early ballot. He also denied allegations that the BSP tacitly supported his
re-election by popular vote in 1992, saying the party did everything to remove
him from office. Zhelev said that during his five years in office, restitution
was stopped, privatization has not taken place, and land restitution is
proceeding very slowly. These are the reasons for the growing crime rate, he
added. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN PEASANTS CUT OFF WATER TO TIRANA.
Some 70 farmers on 29 July
took control of the Bovilla pumping station, north of Tirana, and cut off the
water supplies to the capital to protest a dam project that would drive them
from their land, Reuters reported on 1 August. Supplies were restored the same
day, and the farmers were taken into custody. They have accused the government
of breaking a promise to give them land and housing equivalent in value to what
they would lose. The dam is expected to be completed next year. The government
reportedly has declared the pumping station a strategic installation and
ordered a permanent guard stationed there. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
NEW ALBANIAN TV, RADIO DIRECTOR APPOINTED.
Bardhyl Pollo, former
director of Radio Tirana's foreign service, has been appointed director of
Albanian Radio and TV, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 2 August. BETA on 1
August quoted Pollo as saying that his priorities are "professionalism, program
restructuring, and increased independence for journalists." -- Fabian Schmidt,
INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS AGAINST ALBANIAN CENSORSHIP.
The Article 19
International Center against Censorship has sent a letter to Albanian President
Sali Berisha protesting the arrest of Filip Cakuli, chief editor of the
satirical magazine Hosteni 2000, and the journalist Naim Noka, Koha
Jone reported on 1 August. Both journalists were detained in late June by
the secret service SHIK until they agreed to change the covers of their next
issues (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 July). The German satirical magazine
Titanic has also issued a protest saying that items confiscated during
the arrests had been given to the Albanians during a visit to Germany in
February. Elsewhere, the International Federation of Journalists protested the
trial against the chief editor of Populli PO, Arban Hasani. He faces
charges that his newspaper wrongly reported that a SHIK officer was arrested
for ordering a killing. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave