OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 177, 12 September 1995
PARTY LEADERS ASSESS COMMUNISTS.
Union of Communist Parties leader Oleg
Shenin claimed the Communists will win no less than 35% of the vote in the
parliamentary elections, but prominent reformers said that such success is not
guaranteed, Moskovskii komsomolets reported 12 September. The paper
Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar as saying he sees
the Communists' strength in their current opposition status while their
weakness is their difficulty in finding support among voters under 30. Gaidar
believes that if they do take power, the first consequences will be
reimposition of state censorship, repression of other political groups,
confiscation of private property, and instigation of numerous wars to defend
Russian interests. According to the paper, Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov
sees his party's strength as having the best network of regional branches in
Russia's cities and villages. He claimed that his main task now is to build a
strong alliance of opposition groups to compete for the presidency. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
WOMEN'S GROUPS FORGE CAMPAIGN ALLIANCES.
At a meeting with voters in
Arkhangelsk, Women of Russia co-leader Aleftina Fedulova announced that,
although her party will be running independently, its closest allies are the
Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Democratic Party of Russia,
ITAR-TASS reported 12 September. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia set up a regional women's branch in the Kuzbass that will seek to
instill "the spirit of Russian patriotism" in Siberian women. The organization
is the first branch of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party based on gender. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
TRETYAKOV TRIES TO REGAIN CONTROL OF NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA.
Tretyakov, editor in chief of Nezavisimaya gazeta from its creation in
December 1990 until his ouster by the editorial board on 30 August, has
returned to his office to try to regain control of the paper, ITAR-TASS
reported on 11 September. He had been dismissed for failing to attract enough
investors to revive the paper, which suspended publication due to financial
problems on 24 May. Tretyakov, who considers the board's decision illegitimate,
arrived accompanied by armed men from a private security firm to "restore the
status quo." He then demoted deputy editor Aleksandr Gagua and acting
editor-in-chief Igor Kuzmin and canceled all orders they had given to staff
since 30 August. Gagua likened the standoff to internal feuds at the Bolshoi
theater and other Russian organizations struggling to overcome large debts,
Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN OBJECTIONS TO NATO AIRSTRIKES INTENSIFY.
The Russian Foreign
Ministry again demanded a halt to the airstrikes in Bosnia and said NATO's
cruise missile attacks on the Bosnian Serbs had undermined the ongoing peace
talks, demonstrating that NATO was more interested in asserting its "new role"
in Europe than in promoting a settlement, Russian and Western media reported on
11 September. Meanwhile, at the UN, Russia said the use of American naval
forces to launch missile attacks against the Bosnian Serbs "grossly violated"
existing UN mandates. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN OFFICIALS ACCUSE CHECHENS OF HINDERING DISARMAMENT.
signature on 10 September of a protocol to the 30 July military accord,
providing a detailed timetable for the disarmament of Chechen fighters, Russian
officials continued to complain on 11 September that little progress has been
made toward disarmament. Vyacheslav Mikhailov, minister for nationalities and
leading federal negotiator in Chechnya, told ITAR-TASS that only about 1,500
weapons have been handed in so far, mostly by individuals who have no
connection with pro-Dudaev fighters. At a Grozny press conference, Oleg Lobov,
Security Council secretary and presidential representative in Chechnya, accused
Chechen leaders of deliberately hindering the disarmament process, thereby
torpedoing further progress in the peace talks. Lobov did, however, express
support for the idea of holding a roundtable of all political forces in
Chechnya, including former Russian Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov,
to work out a political settlement of the conflict. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
KHASBULATOV MAY PLAY ROLE IN CHECHEN SETTLEMENT.
Boris Yeltsin's suggestion on 8 September, Ruslan Khasbulatov, former chairman
of the Russian Supreme Soviet, might return to politics in his native Chechnya.
Khasbulatov told ITAR-TASS on 11 September that he was prepared to form a
"Council of Accord" in Chechnya to promote dialogue between the populace and
the federal authorities until new elections are held. Commentators have
suggested that Yeltsin proposed the political resurrection of his former
arch-rival in order to isolate separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev.
While Khasbulatov does not advocate independence for Chechnya, however, he does
reject much of current federal policy. He told journalists that local elections
in the republic, which have been postponed, should be held as soon as possible.
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
BANK BAILOUT DISCUSSED IN ST. PETERSBURG.
St. Petersburg officials
disagree over the bailout of the Severnii Torgovlii Bank, which is suffering
from a liquidity crisis, Smena reported on 9 September. Viktor
Khalmonski, the Russian Central Bank's representative in St. Petersburg, has
asked the city's other banks to contribute to the bailout. Anatolii Zelinskii,
the first deputy representative of the city's Economic and Finance Committee,
suggested instead that St. Petersburg's profit tax on banks be raised from the
current level of 22%--the lowest in Russia, compared with 30% in Moscow and
Nizhni Novgorod--to provide funds for the bailout, but his superior, Aleksei
Kudrin, ruled out a tax increase. Kudrin suggested that the city's Legislative
Assembly allocate funds for the bailout. Due to the crisis, the city has
recently removed all public funds deposited in the bank. -- Brian Whitmore,
in St. Petersburg
PAYMENTS CRISIS SHUTS DOWN MILITARY RADAR IN KALININGRAD.
Kaliningrad's military airport cannot fly because the electricity supply to the
airfield's radar has been cut off. Nonpayment of bills has prompted the local
electricity company to shut off power to a number of other military
installations in the area as well, Russian Public Television said on 11
September. A spokesman for the Baltic Fleet said "many important
installations--anti-aircraft sites, communications--have been disabled." The
fleet is responsible for the air defense of the Kaliningrad enclave. According
to the TV report, the Kaliningrad Military District is owed large sums by the
Defense Ministry, and officers serving in Kaliningrad have not been paid for
two months. Reports of cuts in the Kaliningrad military's electricity supply
began appearing in late August. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
PLANE BUILDERS ASK FOR STATE SUPPORT.
At an 11 September round-table
discussion held at the Federation Council, representatives of Russia's aircraft
industry asked the legislators to increase support to the industry in the 1996
federal budget, ITAR-TASS reported. One designer called the industry "a mirror
reflecting the state of science and engineering in the country." The
participants said that the aircraft industry could not work its way out of its
present financial quandary alone and called for state investment of some $300
million. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
CENTRAL BANK TO MAKE SECURITIES MARKET MORE ATTRACTIVE TO FOREIGNERS.
Russia's Central Bank plans to attract up to 10 trillion rubles ($2
billion) in the next 4-6 months by opening up the government securities market
to foreign investors, Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 September.
Central Bank acting Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova told reporters that many
barriers, such as customs procedures, taxation, and lack of modern banking
technology discourage foreigners from investing in treasury bills (GKOs) and
federal loan bonds (OFZs). Central Bank Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov, who
heads the bank's interim committee on foreign investment, said that within the
next two months, restrictions will be lifted on repatriation of profits by
non-residents investing in GKOs and OFZs. Under a Central Bank order dating
back to 1993, non-residents are not allowed to repatriate profits from
operations involving short-term paper and their participation is limited to 10%
of each issue. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN OPENS IN MOSCOW.
American fast-food giant
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) opened its doors to Muscovites on 11 September,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Fast-food restaurants are now fairly
common in Russia's capital, ranging from the leader--McDonald's--to the latest
Russkoe Bistro, which serves traditional Russian cuisine. Prices at the new
restaurant are comparable to KFC stores in the United States, however, and
10,000 rubles ($2.25) for three spicy wings is no bargain for average Russians.
KFC will use frozen American chickens: Russia is already one of the largest
markets for U.S. chicken exports. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 177, 12 September 1995
ELECTION PREPARATIONS IN GEORGIA.
In a radio interview on 11 September,
Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze said he was confident that he would win
70-75% of the vote in the 5 November presidential elections, Western agencies
reported. Jaba Ioseliani, founder of the paramilitary group Mkhedrioni, told
Western reporters Monday that his group would boycott the parliamentary
elections, also to be held 5 November. About 250 of the organization's 2,000
members have been arrested, mainly on weapons possession charges, in a
crackdown following the recent assassination attempt on Shevardnadze.
Ioseliani, who is immune to arrest thanks to his parliamentary status, accused
Shevardnadze of running a "police state." He left open the possibility that he
might run in the presidential election. Other candidates include Guram
Kharatishvili (National Congress); Roin Liparteliani (Agrarian Union); writer
Akaki Bakradze (Ilia Chavchavadze Society); and former communist leader Jumber
Patiashvili (Movement for Peace). -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.
BAIKONUR IN CRISIS.
Leninsk, the city in Kazakhstan that houses the
Baikonur cosmodrome, Russia's main space-launching station, continues to suffer
a financial crisis. It has lost half its population (50,000 out of a total of
100,000) due to the exodus of its Russian military personnel and civilians,
Dmitrienko [first name not given] of Leninsk told Russian Public
Television on 10 September. Dmitrineko was appointed mayor earlier this year by
the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan. Leninsk's unique situation, jointly
administered by the two states, leaves it with two police forces, four
procurators offices, and two security services. Russia finances the city,
paying 70 billion rubles ($16 million) in 1995, although the mayor complained
that he still has to pay taxes to Kazakhstan. The mayor also voiced concern
over the settlement of more than a hundred Kazakh families in the city, saying
that only those who work at the cosmodrome are authorized to live in the city.
-- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
DISCONTENT IN KAZAKH ARMED FORCES.
Economic discontent, corruption, and
frequent changes in personnel have undermined the morale of the Kazakh armed
forces and jeopardized the country's defense capability, according to an army
officer quoted in Karavan on 11 August. About 70% of the officer corps
has left the army in the past three years, causing a shortage of officers in
the troops and in the Defense Ministry. Vacancies, some at the top levels, are
being filled with reserve soldiers and civilians. The military prosecutor has
admitted publicly that 40 servicemen have died this year due to violence in the
army and that property worth over 9 million tenge ($150,000) has been
embezzled. Corruption charges against the head of the Defense Ministry's
financial department and the former deputy defense minister have already been
proved. The current deputy defense minister and his subordinate are currently
being tried by a military court on corruption charges (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 7 September, 1995). -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
NAZARBAEV VISITS CHINA.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev arrived in
Beijing 11 September on a three-day official visit to China, Western and
Chinese agencies reported on 12 September. Nazarbaev and Chinese President
Jiang Zemin held a first round of talks on bilateral issues and signed an
agreement on the approval of the Sino-Kazakh border treaty, a memorandum of
cooperation between the two Defense Ministries, and an agreement allowing
Kazakhstan to use China's Lianyungang port as transit point for its goods. It
is Nazarbaev's third visit to China as Kazakh president. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI,
TAJIKISTAN LATEST PARTNER IN TURKMEN-IRAN TRADE.
On the heels of the
agreement among Turkmenistan, Iran, and Ukraine, Tajikistan
has also concluded an agreement with Turkmenistan and Iran, ITAR-TASS and the
Iranian Republic News Agency, IRNA, reported on 11 September. The deal calls
for Turkmenistan to supply impoverished Tajikistan with natural gas, which will
be paid for with goods from Iran, and then Tajikistan will repay Iran with
cotton. A memorandum was signed expanding economic, political, and cultural
cooperation among the three countries. The foreign ministers of the three
states are scheduled to meet again in December. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
TAJIK DRUG PROBLEM GETTING WORSE.
In August alone, border guards
confiscated 390 kilograms of raw opium, according to ITAR-TASS on 11 September.
That amount represents only a fraction of the total narcotics that eventually
pass through Osh in Kyrgyzstan and from there to Russia and the West. The
lucrative trade has often been cited as one of the means of support for the
Tajik opposition, which converts profits from drugs into weapons to fight the
Dushanbe government. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 177, 12 September 1995
CRIMEANS ELECT INCUMBENTS IN LOCAL BY-ELECTIONS.
Some 53.8% of eligible
voters turned out to vote in by-elections to local councils, Ukrainian TV and
ITAR-TASS reported on 11 September. Preliminary results reveal the majority
chose incumbents over their challengers. Two rounds of elections earlier this
summer were declared invalid due to low turnout. Ukrainian authorities
reportedly made special efforts to attract voters to the polls, including
distributing free lottery tickets at Yalta polling stations. They also pledged
to return Russian-language dubbing to the Crimeans' favorite prime-time soap
opera "Santa Barbara," after hundreds protested a decision by state-owned
Ukrainian TV to start dubbing the show in Ukrainian. -- Chrystyna Lapychak,
UKRAINE ON RUSSIAN PROPOSAL FOR BOSNIA.
Ukrainian Radio on 11 September
reported that the Ukrainian parliament has not formulated its position on the
situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Russian State Duma asked the Ukrainian and
Belarusian legislatures to work out a common stance on the crisis. According to
the report, shouting and noises in the Ukrainian legislature made it clear that
there is no common position among the deputies themselves, let alone with
Russia and Belarus. Some deputies were critical of Russia's initiative to have
the three Slavic republics take a common stand on Bosnia. Deputy Oleksandr
Lavrinovych said international organizations such as the Council of Europe and
the OSCE already have mechanisms for consensus. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIAN, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS NATO.
Valdis Birkavs, on an
official visit to Germany, held talks with Klaus Kinkel in Bonn on 11
September, Reuters reported. The talks focused on the Baltic States' possible
membership in NATO, despite Russian opposition. The ministers issued a
statement that the admission of new members to the alliance must contribute to
peace and stability in all of Europe. "Gray zones for security policy may not
be allowed to arise to the detriment of the Baltic countries," the statement
stressed. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH LEFT UNITED BEHIND ITS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
the 28 organizations constituting the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), ruling in
coalition with the Polish Peasant Party, on 11 September signed a document of
support for the SLD's presidential candidate, Aleksander Kwasniewski. The
Pensioners Association--the only SLD organization not to have signed yet--wants
to meet with Kwasniewski before signing. Kwasniewski said that the Left has
shown it can find an internal agreement and noted that the Right's efforts to
reach an understanding are "grotesque," Polish dailies reported on 12
September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER ENDS U.S. VISIT.
Zbigniew Okonski, during his
visit to the U.S. from 6-11 September, met with Defense Secretary William
Perry, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and presidential security
adviser Anthony Lake. He noted that no dates for NATO's enlargement were given
and that Talbott "seemed to made efforts to erase his image as Russia's
sympathizer." Okonski told a Rzeczpospolita reporter that Talbott said
he was always for NATO expansion but did not want to isolate Russia. -- Jakub
Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
CEFTA SUMMIT AGREES ON EXPANSION AND REDUCTION OF TARIFFS . . .
prime ministers of the four countries of the Central European Free Trade
Agreement (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary), meeting in Brno
on 11 September, agreed to further liberalize trade between their countries and
to expand the membership of CEFTA, Czech and international media reported.
Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said all four members agreed on the admission
soon of Slovenia and on opening the door also to Romania, Bulgaria, and the
Baltic States. The prime ministers of Slovenia, Romania, and Bulgaria as well
as the Lithuanian foreign minister attended the summit. The CEFTA members
agreed to cut back the list of so-called "sensitive items" in industrial and
agricultural trade that are still protected. They also mandated Czech officials
to prepare plans for liberalization of trade in services and authorized Poland
to take the same steps for financial transactions. But Czech ministers rejected
a Slovak proposal to create a permanent CEFTA Secretariat in Bratislava. --
Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
. . . WHILE CZECH, SLOVAK PREMIERS WANT CUSTOMS UNION TO CONTINUE.
Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar, meeting officially for the first time since
February 1993, stressed in Brno on 11 September that they wanted to continue
the customs union between their countries, Czech media reported. The Czechs
accused Slovakia of breaching the union by scrapping customs duties and import
surcharges on some foreign-made cars (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 September
1995). Meciar said the step was temporary and due to last only until the end of
1996. Klaus distanced himself from remarks made during the weekend by Czech
Interior Minister Jan Ruml in connection with the abduction of Slovak President
Michal Kovac's son. Meciar, too, sharply criticized Ruml, who had said that
Slovakia was in a deep political crisis, that democratic control mechanisms
were not functioning, and that Slovak security services were too closely linked
to Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE REFUSES INVESTIGATOR'S REQUEST.
Ivan Lexa, in a letter to TASR on 11 September, refused a request by Maj.
Jaroslav Simunic to remove SIS agents' obligation of secrecy, saying such a
step would "damage state interests." Simunic, who initially headed the police
investigation into the recent kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son,
suspected that SIS agents were involved in the matter. He was removed from the
case on 7 September and subsequently left the police force. According to
Reuters on 11 September, Simunic has promised to continue a private
investigation of the case. In other news, Lexa, who is a close ally of Premier
Vladimir Meciar, on 11 September announced that he has filed charges with the
attorney-general against three Slovak opposition dailies for their coverage of
the case, saying the papers aimed to discredit the SIS. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
SLOVAK CURRENCY TO BE CONVERTIBLE?
Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on
Slovak Radio on 11 September, announced that the Slovak koruna could be
convertible by 1 October if the parliament added the cabinet's recently
approved foreign exchange bill to the program of its current session. At a
party gathering four days earlier, Meciar had said the koruna would be fully
convertible by 1 October. According to Narodna obroda on 12 September,
if the bill is not discussed during the current parliamentary session, the
currency cannot be made convertible until December, since the next
parliamentary session begins in November. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARY TO RECEIVE LOAN.
The Hungarian National Bank on 11 September
signed an accord with an international bank consortium granting it a $200
million loan with a five-year maturity, international media reported. Experts
said the HNB was granted better conditions than in the case of previous loans
owing to the country's improving image on international financial markets.
Hungary's foreign debts have been restructured so that only 75% of its total
debt obligations currently fall on the state, HNB Vice President Frigyes
Harshegyi said. According to Harshegyi, Hungary's current account deficit will
remain below $3 billion in 1995. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 177, 12 September 1995
"WAVES OF PLANES" HIT PALE.
AFP on 12 September reported that NATO air
attacks are continuing around the Bosnian Serb capital. The BBC noted that the
recent cruise missile attacks on the Serbs' air defense system at Banja Luka
resulted in "severe damage," and that further strikes may be in the offing. The
VOA added that Stealth aircraft would soon arrive in Italy to take part in the
Bosnian operations as needed. The broadcast pointed out that the air defense
system has not yet been put totally out of commission, adding there is no
confirmation of Serbian reports that the attacks have caused civilian
casualties. The International Herald Tribune quoted NATO sources as
saying more strikes will be needed, but AFP cited UN special envoy Yasushi
Akashi as saying he and Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali are opposed to
adding targets of civilian importance to the list. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
KARADZIC THREATENS TO LEAVE PEACE PROCESS.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karadzic has sent a message to Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin and to
Prime Minister John Major setting down his position in the wake of the cruise
missile attacks. He lamented that the new moves have come after a major
"breakthrough" was achieved in the peace process in Geneva, the BBC reported on
12 September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1995). The
internationally sought war criminal said it is "incomprehensible" that NATO has
"taken sides with our enemies" and "declared war against the Serbs." Karadzic
called the attacks "unjustified and truly barbaric," Nasa Borba
reported. Most important, he added that "faced with continuing attacks, [the
Bosnian Serbs] could be forced to reconsider further participation in peace
negotiations." It is unclear whether Belgrade, with which Pale now forms a
joint delegation at the peace talks, supports him on this issue. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN SERBS APPEAL TO RUSSIA.
Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA carried a
message from the Pale leadership to the "Russian people, President Boris
Yeltsin and the Duma to demand in the form of an ultimatum an end to the NATO
operations." AFP on 12 September cited the statement as saying that "the NATO
action deprives of sense the peace process that has scarcely begun and its
initial results, although the Serb people are prepared to compromise." Russia
has already pledged additional humanitarian aid for the Bosnian Serbs. The
history of Russia's relations with the Serbs over the centuries has been
checkered, however, with Russian policy based on hard calculations rather than
on sentimentality. At times, St. Petersburg or Moscow has openly favored Sofia
over Belgrade. An Izvestiya analyst recently told the BBC that Russia
should now concentrate on its main interest in Europe, which is the EU and not
Serbia. (See related story in the Russian section.) -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT SECURES TUZLA-ZENICA ROAD.
Reuters on 11 September
said Bosnian government forces may have not taken advantage of the Serbs'
current troubles in the Sarajevo area but that they are pressing their enemy
elsewhere. The town of Voguca fell to government troops, thereby consolidating
their hold on the key all-weather road connecting Tuzla and Zenica.
Vjesnik on 12 September spoke of Croatian and Bosnian government forces'
success to the north as well. Vecernji list added that Croatian Foreign
Minister Mate Granic, who is visiting Washington, said again that eastern
Slavonia must be returned to Croatia as part of a comprehensive regional
settlement. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY CRITICIZES NATO.
BETA on 12 September reported
that Serbia's opposition Democratic Party (DS), led by Zoran Djindjic, has
issued its sharpest verbal attack against NATO. The DS said that NATO air
strikes against the Bosnian Serbs amount to "a shameful, terrorist attack." The
party pledged to hold "peaceful protests" against the international
organization. In another development, BETA reported the same day that
the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) has published a book arguing
that a famous and controversial 1986 memorandum was "not a blueprint for war
and ethnic cleansing." The SANU Memorandum--Replies to the Critics has
been released to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the document's contents
being made public. Observers point out that in 1986, Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic, who then was beginning his rise to power, used the notorious SANU
Memorandum as the basis for his ultranationalist policies and to whip up ethnic
hatred against Serbia's minorities. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ETHNIC HUNGARIANS PROTEST ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW.
Members of the
Federation of Hungarian Democratic Youth of Romania--a component member of the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR)--left on bicycles for
Strasbourg on 8 September to protest to the European Council against Romania's
new controversial education law, Radio Bucharest announced the same day.
Reuters on 11 September reported that the group was received that day at the
Hungarian parliament. The UDMR on 8 September organized a meeting to protest
the law in the Transylvanian town of Miercurea Ciuc. Local UDMR branch leader
Erno Borbely said that although there will be no boycott of the opening of the
new school year, the UDMR will initiate other protests. -- Michael Shafir,
ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT EASES BAN ON HOMOSEXUALITY AMID PROTESTS.
Chamber of Deputies on 12 September voted to ease Penal Code provisions on
homosexual acts, Romanian media reported. These will now be punished only if
they are committed in public, in cases of rape, or in incidents involving those
under the age of consent. The opposition was split on the vote, with the
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic opposing the amendment. The daily
Curierul national on 12 September reported that the Association of
Christian Orthodox Students in Romania pledged to continue a drive to gather
signatures opposing homosexual relationships among consenting adults. It has so
far gathered nearly 200,000 signatures and needs 500,000 to have the matter
submitted to a national referendum. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVA PROTESTS SMIRNOV'S SPEECH TO RUSSIAN DEPUTIES.
Foreign Ministry on 11 September said the Russian State Duma committed an
"unfriendly act" toward Moldova two days earlier "by giving the floor" to Igor
Smirnov, leader of the Transdniester breakaway region, BASA-press and Infotag
reported. The ministry said the Duma "brutally violated international law,
norms, and principles" and breached Moldova's "sovereignty and territorial
integrity." Smirnov, in fact, did not address the State Duma but rather a
meeting of the Agrarian Party faction in the parliament building. He called on
the Russian deputies to "promote Transdniestrian statehood or to make the
region part of Russia." Smirnov said NATO was "slowly approaching the borders
of Transdniester, a truly Russian land," and that Russia was "the only power
that can defend us." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN MOLDOVA.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, beginning a
two-day visit to Moldova on 11 September, criticized NATO's air strikes against
the Bosnian Serbs, Western agencies reported. He said the protests against the
bombings will not bear fruit unless the former Soviet republics "attain unity
in the military-political sphere. Ten years ago, such bloodshed would have been
impossible, because the USSR acted as guarantor of stability." -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES YELTSIN STATEMENT ON NATO EXPANSION.
Zhelyu Zhelev, reacting sharply to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's remarks
that an eastward NATO expansion may lead to war in Europe (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 11 September 1995), has told Russia to mind its own business. In a
statement presented by his spokesman Valentin Stoyanov on 11 September, Zhelev
said that "Bulgaria is an independent state that conducts its own foreign
policy, taking only its national interests into consideration, and it will not
allow anybody--in the East or the West--to decide questions related to its
national security and sovereignty." At the same time, Zhelev expressed
understanding for Yeltsin, noting that he was the first to support Yeltsin
during the August 1991 coup, Demokratsiya reported on 12 September. --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN PRESIDENT IN U.S.
Sali Berisha, speaking on 11 September at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies, said his country is prepared to
offer NATO more military bases, Reuters reported the same day. The U.S. army
already uses bases in northern Albania for unmanned spy planes flying over
Bosnia. Berisha said the sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia should remain in
place until a solution to the Kosovo crisis has been found, adding that the
issue should be put on the agenda of the Contact Group. He added that "failure
to give this issue a solution will be disastrous." Berisha met with Secretary
of State Warren Christopher and Defense Secretary William Perry. He is due to
hold talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore on 12
September. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GREEK, MACEDONIAN REACTIONS TO DIRECT TALKS.
Only days before the Greek
and Macedonian foreign ministers start direct talks in New York, opinion polls
and statements show that this move is controversial in both countries. A poll
published in the Athens daily Ethnos on 11 September indicated that more
than 60% of those questioned are against signing an agreement with Macedonia.
Some 28% said the government would be "selling out" to the U.S. if it
negotiated any deal, while 32% said the proposed accord would inevitably lead
to the recognition of Macedonia under that name. Only 18.5% said the name does
not matter. Meanwhile, Macedonian Orthodox Church communities in Australia
protested the changing of the flag and the constitution in a letter sent to the
political leadership on 10 September calling it "not acceptable at all," MIC
reported the following day. They joined the nationalist opposition, which has
accused the government of preparing a "non-legitimate compromise" with Greece.
-- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Susan Caskie and Jan Cleave