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Newsline - August 31, 1995


Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai announced that he is leaving Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia, NTV reported on 30 August. In recent months, Shakhrai is said to have lost influence over the bloc's organization to other government figures, including presidential adviser Aleksandr Shokhin. Shakhrai was reportedly dissatisfied with the number of spots allocated to his Party of Russian Unity and Accord (PRES) on the proposed party list for Our Home Is Russia. Shakhrai was an early advocate of creating two centrist blocs led by Chernomyrdin and Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin. PRES competed independently in the 1993 parliamentary elections and barely cleared the 5% barrier necessary to win representation in the Duma from party lists. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

Patriarch Aleksii II criticized the plan of the Russian Union of Muslims to elect representatives to the Duma, arguing that it could cause confrontation in Orthodox-Muslim relations, Russian Public TV reported on 30 August. He called on the spiritual leaders of Russia's Muslims not to participate in the campaign and not to support any candidates. The Orthodox Church will refrain from supporting political organizations that call themselves "Christian" or "Orthodox." The same day, a conference opened in Moscow to coordinate the nonpolitical activities of Russian and foreign Islamic groups. Foreign representatives included delegations from several CIS countries, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. The goals of the conference were to find ways to send Russian students abroad and increase foreign aid for Islam in Russia. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

The editorial board of Nezavisimaya gazeta, which is not currently in production, voted nearly unanimously to remove Vitalii Tretyakov from the post of editor-in-chief, which he had held since the paper was founded in December 1990, NTV reported on 30 August. In order to preserve its editorial independence, Nezavisimaya gazeta refused to run advertisements or accept any state subsidies, but financial problems forced the paper to suspend publication on 24 May. Tretyakov initially endorsed a proposed rescue plan to convert the paper into a joint-stock company, but more recently he suggested that it would be better to close the paper altogether than to sell shares to commercial interests. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

The Security Council met on 30 August to discuss the situation in Chechnya, Western and Russian agencies reported. President Boris Yeltsin chaired the widely publicized meeting, which made two decisions aimed at speeding up the peace process in Chechnya. First, federal authorities will try to "broaden" the base of Chechen leaders with whom they are currently holding talks. Second, Yeltsin expressed willingness to meet personally with Chechen leaders to push the talks forward. Asked by journalists if this decision meant that direct talks with separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev might take place, Security Council Secretary and Presidential Representative in Chechnya Oleg Lobov said the issue had not been discussed. NTV commented that this position is illogical, since federal negotiators are already talking with Chechen delegates who frequently consult with Dudaev. The council also discussed measures for restoring the heavily damaged Chechen economy, including paying compensation to citizens for property damaged during the fighting. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

In Grozny, implementation of the 30 July military accord continued to experience difficulties. The Chechen rejection of a Russian proposal for a partial prisoner exchange again postponed the deal. Regarding disarmament, Lobov told journalists that, with an estimated 70,000 weapons still in the hands of Chechen fighters, it was impossible to set a date for new elections in Chechnya. Izvestiya noted on 31 August that Chechen fighters have still only turned in about 800 weapons. The paper added that the 50 billion rubles ($11.4 million) which have been allocated from the federal budget to buy up weapons under the disarmament plan would not be sufficient (at the current price of 900,000 rubles [$205] per gun) to buy all those weapons, leaving at least 10,000 in the hands of the population. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

Speaking at a meeting in Kazan on 30 August to mark the fifth anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of state sovereignty, Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin praised Tatarstan's "outstanding role" in the development of the "new Russian federalism," Interfax reported on 30 August. Chernomyrdin also read an appeal from Russian President Yeltsin, who affirmed that support for Tatarstan's aspiration for wider independence had not been a mistake. Citing the example of Tatarstan to underscore the distinction between extremism on the one hand and equality and self-determination on the other, Chernomyrdin argued that Russia needs a new and clearly formulated nationalities policy to regulate relations between the center and the regions. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

Russian President Yeltsin condemned both the recent Bosnian Serb mortar attack on Sarajevo and the NATO airstrikes launched in response, international agencies reported. In an interview with Russian Public TV, he said that Russia "opposed a military resolution of the Yugoslav crisis" and repeated his call for an international conference to resolve the conflict, to be held no later than October. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told Interfax that "it is impermissible for the international wage war against only one of the parties to the Bosnian conflict," because "all participants in the conflict" share responsibility for it. Karasin described the recent mortar attack on Sarajevo, for which he blamed the Bosnian Serbs, as a "barbaric act." But he added that there could be no military resolution of the conflict, saying that "tit-for-tat" retaliation would only create a vicious circle of violence. Interfax also reported that Russia planned to raise the issue of the airstrikes at the UN Security Council. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

The actual exchange of goods and services between Russia and Turkey is not reflected in official statistics, according to the August edition of Birzhevye vedomosti (no. 35). Officially, the volume of bilateral trade is $2 billion, but the paper suggests that Turkish construction work in Russia is worth $6 billion annually and "shuttle" trade by individuals another $5 billion. The paper notes that officially, Russia provides oil, gas, metals, Lada cars, industrial equipment, newsprint, and timber to Turkey, while Turkey supplies Russia with candy, textiles, and medicines. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

Scientists in Russia's Far East said at a press conference on 30 August that they intend to begin a campaign of civil disobedience to protest government policies that are "discrediting Russian science," Russian TV reported. The researchers are angry at the government's failure to make scheduled budget payments to the sector, saying that unique research is suffering as a result. The average monthly salary of the scientific workers is a low 319,000 rubles (about $72)--two-thirds of the subsistence minimum in the Far East. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

The Defense Ministry received only slightly over half the funds it was scheduled to receive in August from the Finance Ministry, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 31 August. As a result, it said, only 30% of servicemen would now receive their August pay. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

The government has prepared the documents necessary to set up a Federal Energy Committee (FEC) to be headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, Segodnya reported on 30 August. The FEC will regulate the prices of the fuel and energy sector, determine access to pipelines, and monitor electric energy exports. The committee will also enjoy exclusive investment and arbitration rights. The economic activities of companies that operate within the sector will be subject to strict monitoring. The companies will be required to submit routine reports, data concerning investment projects, and detailed price list drafts, including net cost, taxation, and profit items to the FEC. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

In the wake of the interbank crisis, financial market activity is still slow. According to Interfax, only a few deals were concluded on the Moscow interbank credit market on 30 August. Finance Ministry bond prices continued to rise on the off-exchange market. Traders said the sharp increase was due to MinFin bond market stabilization and commercial banks renewing operations with MinFin bonds. During the bank crisis, banks were selling securities, whereas now investors are trying to buy back bonds they sold earlier. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

The Moscow banking crisis has caused interbank credit interest rates in Russia's oblasts to rise, Interfax reported on 30 August. Interest rate hikes were first felt in central Russia, where a lack of money increased demand for funds borrowed from other oblasts. The announced interest rates for 3 month loans in the oblast branches of Sberbank grew by 10-20% on average in the past week and have reached 75-85%. Commercial banks' credit rates increased by 5-10% and are now at an annual rate of 110-130% throughout Russia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.


Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
On 30 August the Georgian security service arrested ten people suspected of perpetrating the previous day's car bomb explosion outside the Georgian parliament, Ekho Moskvy reported. Speaking at a public rally in Tbilisi on 30 August amid intensified security, parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze formally announced his candidacy for the 5 November Georgian presidential elections and blamed the assassination attempt on unspecified "dark forces" who had hoped to clear the way for their own presidential candidate, according to Radio Rossii. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

As predicted, preliminary results from the 30 August nationwide referendum show a major victory for Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Central Election Commission Chairman Yurii Kim told ITAR-TASS on 31 August that 89% approved the new constitution and that 90% of the 8.8 million electorate turned out to vote. The united front of opposition parties boycotted the elections. The turnout was puzzlingly high given widespread apathy and ignorance of the draft constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 August). More than 10,000 polling booths were in operation, and about 1,000 representatives of political parties and public movements monitored the vote; only 9 international observers were present. Nazarbaev's claim that people fully endorse the new constitution was disputed by Russia's NTV on 30 August, which said studies showed that most people had not even seen the new constitution. Detailed returns will be available in a week. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

As widely expected, Uzbekistan's parliament approved the republic's military doctrine on 30 August, Interfax reported. It says that Uzbekistan considers no country its enemy, opposes war as a means to resolve international disputes, and rejects the unilateral use of force unless it or its allies are attacked. In other news, Uzbekistan recorded a 5.7% fall in industrial production in the first six months of this year. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

Uzbekistan's authorities have ordered Uzbek Television to halt broadcasting of two Russian current affairs programs "Vesti" and "Podrobnosti" until the end of independence day celebrations, NTV reported on 29 August. Celebrations for the fourth anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence begin on 31 August; the authorities evidently fear coverage of the event in Russia will be "inadequate," NTV said. ITAR-TASS has estimated that 10,000 people from all over Uzbekistan and abroad will converge on Tashkent for the celebrations. On 31 August 1991, 98.2% of the republic's electorate voted for independence. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.


On 30 August Belarusian radio reported that the Russian electoral bloc Vozrozhdenie plans to include Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in its list of candidates for Russia's parliamentary elections. The bloc also intends to include the president of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic, Igor Smirnov. According to Vozrozhdenie head Valerii Skurlatov, both presidents have agreed to the move, although Skurlatov acknowledges that there may be problems registering the two as they are citizens of other countries. Skurlatov plans to get around this by pointing out that although both have different citizenships now, previously they were Soviet citizens. He said the inclusion of such famous individuals on Vozrozhdenie's list is a good illustration of the bloc's goal of "redefining the Russian state within its 1975 borders." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.


Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
In a report to the Sejm on 30 August, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Zimowski confirmed that signatures supporting President Lech Walesa's candidacy in the upcoming elections were collected among soldiers of the special Vistula units (NJW), subordinated to the ministry. An investigation revealed that signatures were gathered in six of the eight units "with the knowledge and approval" and, in some cases, even direct participation of commanding officers, Radio Warsaw reported. NJW commander Vice Admiral Marek Toczek, who was dismissed last week, destroyed the petitions when Gazeta Wyborcza exposed the signature campaign. Presidential candidates must gather 100,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Press reports had linked ousted presidential aide Mieczyslaw Wachowski to the signature effort. Deputy Defense Minister Jan Kuriata assured the Sejm that the armed forces' "apolitical" status would be respected during the election campaign, but many deputies expressed skepticism. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

In another embarrassment for Lech Walesa, the president's son was involved in a car crash on 30 August, apparently while driving under the influence of alcohol and without a valid license. Slawomir Walesa crashed into a Jaguar stopped at a red light in Warsaw and was later taken to a government clinic, Radio Warsaw reported. The president's son received a two-year suspended prison sentence and had his license revoked in 1992 after causing an auto accident in Gdansk. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

The Sejm on 30 August voted 270 to 107 to approve the enactment of the 1994 budget and the performance of last year's government (headed by Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak), Gazeta Wyborcza reported. But a report on 1994 monetary policy presented by National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz was rejected, and the bank was chastised for inadequate cooperation with the government. Deputies from the ruling coalition charged that the money supply had reached 213.8 trillion zloty by year-end, far above the planned 169 trillion. Gronkiewicz-Waltz put the actual figure at about 180 trillion, saying the higher sum was linked to this year's currency reform. Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Kolodko again blamed the central bank for higher-than-anticipated inflation. Gronkiewicz-Waltz walked out when Kolodko took the floor. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

Stan Tyminski, the eccentric emigre who defeated Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in the first round of the 1990 presidential elections before losing to Lech Walesa in the second, has offered $1 for every supporting signature collected for his presidential campaign. Tyminski, who now leads a fringe political grouping, Party X, made his $100,000 offer via the Internet, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

Czech Minister Without Portfolio Igor Nemec on 30 August announced that the Czech Republic will sign an agreement with the U.S. on the protection of classified information, Czech media reported the next day. According to Nemec, the U.S. has said such an agreement is a precondition for military cooperation between the two countries and will also allow Czech firms access to U.S. technology that would otherwise be unavailable. The Czech Republic is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, which seeks to foster military cooperation between NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry is due to visit the Czech Republic in September to attend joint military maneuvers involving Czech, U.S., and German units. -- Jan Obrman, OMRI, Inc.

Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn on 29 August held confidential talks aimed at improving bilateral relations, Western agencies reported. A spokeswoman for the Slovak prime minister was quoted as saying that the two officials met in a Slovak mountain resort. She said no information would be released until Meciar and Horn briefed their respective parliaments. The talks were likely to have focused on the Slovak draft language law--which, critics claim, discriminates against the ethnic Hungarian minority in Slovakia--and on the delayed ratification of a bilateral friendship treaty. The treaty has been ratified by the Hungarian parliament but still not approved by Slovak deputies. -- Jan Obrman, OMRI, Inc.

The Ukrainian government convened on 30 August to finalize a draft of the 1996 state budget, which President Leonid Kuchma is expected to submit to the parliament by 1 September, Ukrainian TV and Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The current draft reveals a planned budget deficit of 15% of GDP (a figure harshly criticized recently by IMF representatives in Kiev) but the government plans to order ministries and local administrations to take steps to reduce the projected deficit to 6% of GDP next year. In other news, State Property Fund officials revealed that privatization of enterprises in the agro-industrial complex has been proceeding very slowly, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 August. Only 14% of enterprises slated for privatization since 1993 have been transferred to private ownership, including 274 food-processing plants, grain elevators, and other agriculture-related enterprises. The officials blame the poor financial situation of the enterprises as well as resistance by local authorities for the slow pace of privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

In the first six months of 1995, Ukrainian private businesses used eight times more fuel than private households, Ukrainian Radio reported on 30 August. Fuel consumption was reduced in the state sector by 16%, while state fuel reserves on 1 July were down 25% on the 1 October 1994 level. Coal and mazut reserves were down 19% and 48% on last year. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

Estonian government representative Arvo Niitenberg said Russian specialists should finish building concrete seals around the two nuclear reactors at the former submarine base at Paldiski by 22 September, BNS reported on 30 August. Financial problems delayed the purchase of concrete earlier in the month. Russia is required to complete handing over the base to Estonia by 30 September. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

Latvian Privatization Agency Director Janis Naglis said an agreement was signed on 29 August establishing a new national air company, BNS reported the next day. The company will have a registered capital of $12.1 million and will be owned by Latvia (51.03%), Baltic International USA (20.04), and SAS (16.53%) airlines as well as two Scandinavian funds (6.2% each). The existing Latavio airline will be reorganized into a department handling charter flights and transport cargoes. The new company will begin operations in September and will use only Western airplanes to carry passengers. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.


Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
International media on 31 August reported that by sundown the previous day, there were four waves of attacks by at least 60 NATO planes belonging to five countries in Operation Deliberate Force. Their targets were Bosnian Serb military installations around Sarajevo, Gorazde, Tuzla, and Mostar in the largest such operation in NATO's history. The British, French, and Dutch artillery of the Rapid Reaction Force on Mt. Igman pounded targets nearby. Only one plane--a French Mirage 2000--was downed. Its two pilots parachuted into Bosnian government territory, the BBC said. Some five EU monitors were killed, but it is not clear how they died. Bosnian Serb Radio said that damage was "massive" and that seven civilians were killed, but the VOA correspondent in Sarajevo noted that one has to take "anything the Bosnian Serbs say with a grain of salt." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

The International Herald Tribune on 31 August said that U.S., British, and French commandos operating behind Bosnian Serb lines prepared for the attacks for months by identifying targets. It appears that the first day's strikes largely succeeded in attaining their initial goal of taking out Serbian anti-air defenses and the radar system. The VOA on 31 August spoke of the ground in Pale shaking. NATO spokesmen made clear that the raids will not be proportionate to previous actions of the Serbs and that the attacks will not be limited in scope or area. The goal is to force the Serbs to modify their behavior while denying them the means to continue their aggression. State Department official Nicholas Burns told CNN that "the Bosnian Serbs . . . ought to have concluded that there is no military victory in sight for them. The tide of the war has turned against them. Their dream of a greater Serbia is no more [and] it's time to face the responsibility of peace." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

The BBC on 31 August quoted the Bosnian Serb military command as saying that they will not withdraw their heavy weapons and will resist future NATO attacks. Pale's "foreign minister," Aleksa Buha, gave the first public reaction from the Bosnian Serb leadership. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 31 August quoted him as saying the attacks had nothing to do with the shelling of the Markale market on 28 August. He suggested that some broader plot was unfolding. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said that if the West thinks it can intimidate the Serbs, then its "calculations . . . are wrong." Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic praised the attacks and French President Jacques Chirac's role in organizing them, but said they were long overdue. He stressed that the Serbian heavy weapons must be destroyed and that it will not be enough to secure the Serbs' signature on yet another demilitarization agreement. Favorable reactions to the strikes also came from London, Bonn, Paris, Ankara, and Zagreb. NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes said that "the attacks will not end until the Serbs change." Vjesnik ran the headline: "The Blue Helmets Neutralize Serbs." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

The rump Yugoslav government has condemned the NATO air attacks and UN artillery strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, Tanjug reported on 30 August. It demanded that the military action be halted immediately and negotiations resumed "as the only way to reach a lasting and just peace in Bosnia." The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia joined the chorus, denouncing both the air raids and the massacre at the Sarajevo market place, Nasa Borba reported on 31 August. But Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, compared the attacks to bombardments by Nazi Germany during World War II, while Vojislav Seselj, alleged war criminal and leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), called for a "heavy counteroffensive." According to Montena-fax, the leader of the SRS branch in Montenegro called Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic an "enemy of the Serbian people" and part of a "communist-Ustasha coalition." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

Bosnian Serb and rump Yugoslav leaders, meeting in Belgrade on 29 August, signed an agreement on coordinating their positions at peace negotiations, BETA reported two days later. According to the International Herald Tribune on 31 August, the agreement means that "the Bosnian Serbs let the [rump] Yugoslav government speak for them in the Bosnian peace process." BETA argued that Milosevic was not anxious to sign the agreement since it "means taking responsibility for what happens in Bosnia." The groundwork for the agreement may have been laid at a meeting in Belgrade on 27 August between Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament Momcilo Krajisnik, and Milosevic. BETA reported that at that meeting, Milosevic "talked the hard-core Bosnian leaders into at least formally accepting the peace initiative." But the news agency added that "it is unclear . . . what concessions [they are] prepared to make in practice." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke held urgent talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade after meeting with Bosnian President Alia Izetbegovic in Paris. Holbrooke described their four-hour discussions about the U.S. peace plan as "important and productive," the International Herald Tribune reported on 31 August. BETA also reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is in Belgrade and is "almost certain" to meet with Holbrooke. It speculated that such a meeting may take place in the presence of Milosevic and may result in the "signing of some kind of document" accepting U.S. proposals for an end to the war. Holbrooke had previously threatened that the Bosnian Serbs will be exposed to heavy air strikes if the peace initiative "does not show any progress," adding that the Serbs are "the main obstacle to peace." The U.S. peace plan has not yet been published but reportedly grants the Serbs "local self-rule," within a Bosnian federation. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

Ion Iliescu, in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of the temporary loss of northern Transylvania to Hungary, called for a "historical reconciliation" with Budapest based on the German-French model. Iliescu, whose address was broadcast live on Radio Bucharest on 30 August, said a joint political declaration could be accompanied by a "judicial document" specifying what mechanisms and instruments should be used in the process. He added that a "code of conduct" should be drawn up to deal with national minority issues. Iliescu also said Romania was ready not only to start negotiations on such a reconciliation at once but also to renew discussions on the bilateral treaty. He warned Hungarian politicians not to pose as defenders of Hungarian minority rights in neighboring countries or attempt to exercise control over those rights from abroad. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

Radio Bucharest on 30 August reported that Max van der Stoel, visiting OSCE High Commissioner for Ethnic Minorities, told Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu that the "situation of national minorities in Romania has improved a lot." Van der Stoel expressed the hope that "unjustified doubts" over the new education law in Romania will be overcome, making it possible to "give the green light to the process of Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation." The high commissioner said Iliescu's speech on reconciliation was "very important indeed." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

An opinion poll published on 30 August in the daily Adevarul showed that a large majority of Romanians are critical of Nicolae Vacaroiu's government. The survey, carried out among 1,000 respondents by the Bucharest-based Center for Research on the Quality of Life, revealed that 79.5% consider the executive's performance on ensuring a "decent living standard" as either "weak" or "very weak." Eighty-five percent returned the same verdict on the government's efforts to create new jobs. Performance on protecting families with children was judged to be "weak" or "very weak" by 74.8% of the respondents; 61.9% expressed the same opinion about the adequacy of unemployment benefits. The performance of police in combating corruption was considered to be unsatisfactory by 45.8% of the interviewees. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. Ambassador to Romania Alfred Moses told students at the Black Sea University on 30 August that Romania and Poland should be the anchors of Central European security and lead the process of integration with the West, Reuters reported. He said such a framework would not threaten Russia and would remove the "historical temptation to intervene in the affairs of the region to gain hegemony and change its destiny." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

The Albanian Interior Ministry has said that no Albanian citizens were involved in the attack on a Yugoslav border patrol on 29 August, Reuters reported the next day. The ministry accused the Serbian authorities of "killing and sacrificing their own uniformed people only to accuse Albanians." It described claims that a group of ethnic Albanians fled to Albanian territory after shooting dead a rump Yugoslav soldier near the border at Djakovica as "irresponsible" and having been "invented" by the Serbian authorities. Tirana also accused Belgrade of creating "tension and hostility toward Albanians." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

Sali Berisha praised the NATO attacks on Bosnian Serb positions as a "direct response to the massacre committed in Sarajevo by Serbian terrorists [and] an honorable answer to all the criminal acts, including genocide, they have committed during the war in the former Yugoslavia," Zeri i Popullit reported on 31 August. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi arrived in Greece to meet with top officials to discuss improving bilateral relations and the Balkan crisis, international agencies reported. German and U.S. military delegations traveled to Tirana to discuss military cooperation with Defense Ministry and military officials and to prepare for a U.S.-Albanian military exercise called "Peaceful Albania," scheduled to begin in September. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

Col. Bektesh Kolasi, head of the Albanian Ministry of Defense's Armaments Directorate, is heading a delegation visiting Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. The press service of the Ukrainian military said the Albanians will visit a military unit "to acquaint themselves with weaponry used by the Ukrainian Land Forces." They were also scheduled to visit two defense factories and discuss "military and technical cooperation." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave