OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
YELTSIN REJECTS LAW ON FEDERATION COUNCIL.
President Boris Yeltsin
refused to sign the latest version of the law on forming the parliament's upper
house, citing "serious violations of the procedure for adopting the law,"
ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. Yeltsin's veto came after a meeting with
Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko in the hospital. The upper house
had vetoed the bill on 25 October, but the Duma was able to muster the 300
votes necessary to override the veto and forward it to the president on 27
October. Shumeiko has long called for extending the term of the current
Federation Council and it seems unlikely that the sides will be able to agree
on a new law before the current Council's term expires in December. The
president wants to maintain the right to appoint some members of the Federation
Council, while the Duma is pushing for them to be elected. -- Robert Orttung
CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES BEGINS REFERENDUM DRIVE.
The 10 November
meeting of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) supported holding a
national referendum on amending the constitution to strengthen popular
oversight over the authorities. The movement set up an initiative committee to
begin collecting the 2 million signatures required by law to call a referendum.
KRO leader Yurii Skokov described the referendum as more important than the
Duma elections, ITAR-TASS reported. Skokov said that the KRO now boasts 460,000
members in Russia. Deputy leader Aleksandr Lebed called for parliament to play
the main role in reforming the military and ensuring social oversight over it.
In contrast to KRO's 2 September congress, this one was open to the media. --
ORDER OF PARTIES ON BALLOT DETERMINED.
The Central Electoral Commission
determined by random drawing the order in which the 42 registered electoral
blocs will appear on the ballot, Russian media reported on 10 November. Women
of Russia will be listed first, followed by Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava and
several relatively obscure parties. More prominent contenders were not so
lucky: Our Home Is Russia will be no. 17, Yabloko will be no. 19, Russia's
Democratic Choice-United Democrats will be no. 23, the Communist Party will be
no. 25, the Congress of Russian Communities will be no. 31, the Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia will be no. 33, and the Agrarian Party will be no.
41. (A complete list of the 42 parties on the ballot will appear in the 14
November OMRI Special Report on the Russian elections.) -- Laura Belin
PROTESTS OVER KAZAKHSTANI COSSACK LEADER'S ARREST.
communities, members of KRO, Pamyat, and other nationalist organizations in
Russia demonstrated on 12 November outside the Kazakhstani embassy in Moscow to
demand the release of Semirechie Cossack leader Nikolai Gunkin, NTV reported.
Gunkin was arrested in Almaty on 28 October while trying to register as a
candidate for the elections. The Cossack groups blamed President Yeltsin for
his failure to take action against the Kazakhstani government's policy of
"pushing out Russians," Russian TV reported on 12 November. They also
threatened to liberate Gunkin themselves and "whip the unruly Kazakh leaders
with lashes," if the Kazakhstani authorities fail to respond to the Cossack
demands, NTV added. The Kazakhstani authorities claim that a criminal case has
been pending against Gunkin since early this year and the fact that he was
arrested while seeking registration in Almaty is a coincidence. -- Constantine
Dmitriev & Bhavna Dave
DUDAEV NEGOTIATOR BLASTS ELECTION PLANS.
A negotiator for Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Akhmed Zakaev, on 11 November blasted plans to hold
Duma elections in Chechnya on 17 November, Russian agencies reported. Zakaev
told NTV that if the local electoral commission went ahead with the elections,
it would provoke pro-Dudaev fighters to resume large-scale military action,
adding that no elections should be held in Chechnya before its constitutional
status is determined. Meanwhile, mediator Ruslan Khasbulatov again called for
renewed Russian-Chechen talks but warned that fighting could resume soon if
progress is not made on a political settlement. Sporadic fighting continued
over the weekend as federal positions were attacked 29 times on 11-12 November,
with particularly heavy attacks around the town of Bamut and in Grozny,
Interfax reported. -- Scott Parrish
MORE THAN 150 DRUG-RELATED CRIMES REGISTERED IN CHECHNYA.
registered over 150 drug-related crimes, seized nearly 100 kgs of drugs, and
arrested 47 drug traffickers in Chechnya since the beginning of the year, the
head of the Russian Interior Ministry anti-drug task force, Maj. Gen. Aleksandr
Sergeev, told Interfax on 12 November. Sergeev said the majority of drugs is
produced in the mountainous area of Chechnya controlled by pro-Dudaev rebels.
The major general said that every hectare of poppies can produce up to 50 kgs
of opium that can be used to make 5 kgs of morphine. One gram of morphine is
divided into 10 doses priced at 20,000 to 30,000 rubles each ($4.42-$6.64). The
rebels use the money to buy arms. Opium and heroine also make their way to
Chechnya from Tajikistan and Afghanistan. -- Thomas Sigel
YETLSIN APPROVES NATO PLAN FOR BOSNIA.
The presidential press service
announced that Yeltsin has approved the compromise command arrangements for
Russian participation in the proposed Bosnian peace implementation force, which
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his U.S. counterpart, William Perry,
hammered out last week. Yeltsin ordered the Defense and Foreign ministries to
work out a common approach to the still unresolved problem of political control
over the proposed peacekeeping force. -- Scott Parrish
STEPASHIN APPOINTED TO GOVERNMENT STAFF POST.
Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin has appointed former Federal Security Service (FSB) Director
Sergei Stepashin to head the Administrative Department of the government
apparatus, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 November. According to an anonymous source
in the presidential administration, in his new position Stepashin will oversee
interdepartmental coordination among Russian security and intelligence
services. Stepashin was sacked as FSB chief in July, along with Interior
Minister Viktor Yerin and Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov, following the
Budennovsk hostage crisis. All three have now been reappointed to posts in the
executive branch. -- Scott Parrish
GAS PIPELINE SABOTAGED.
An explosion and subsequent fire destroyed 250
meters of a gas pipeline near Vladikavkaz in North Ossetiya on 11 November,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The damage to the pipeline caused a
temporary shutoff of gas supplies to Armenia and Georgia, but the flow was
later diverted to alternate routes and restored. The explosion apparently
resulted from sabotage and Georgian officials accused South Ossetiyans of
causing it, according to ITAR-TASS. Gas and oil pipelines have frequently been
targeted by combatants in the region's conflicts. -- Scott Parrish
NEW CENTRAL BANK CHIEF TAKES CHARGE.
In his first press conference, the
new acting head of the Central Bank of Russia, Aleksandr Khandruev, signaled
that he will take an active role in trying to deal with the liquidity crisis
facing the Russian banking system. When asked to comment on his temporary
appointment, he remarked that "temporary can become permanent," Segodnya
reported on 11 November. The same day, Rossiiskaya gazeta suggested
that President Boris Yeltsin is likely to nominate Khandruev to be the
permanent head of the bank, describing him as a pragmatic professional whose
"policies are close to those of Viktor Gerashchenko" (the former bank chief,
who opposed former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar's monetarism). It now seems
clear that Tatyana Paramonova did not leave of her own volition but was forced
to resign by the government. -- Peter Rutland
HIGH PRICES FOR SUGAR, PETROL.
The prices of a number of commonly used
goods in Russia have overtaken world prices this year, given the current
exchange rate of roughly 4,500 rubles to $1, according to a report by the
government economic center. Whereas in March the prices of 24% of goods studied
by the center exceeded world levels, by September that proportion had jumped to
58%. The prices paid by enterprises for petrol and sugar, for example, were 78%
and 68% higher than world market prices respectively, Izvestiya reported
on 10 November. That situation occurred because domestic prices are still
rising while the value of the ruble against the dollar has been held stable. By
September, even electricity cost 2% more than the world average. The cost of a
ton of crude oil, however, was still only 62% of the world price. -- Penny
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
REFERENDUM, ELECTIONS IN AZERBAIJAN.
elections and a referendum on a new constitution took place on 12 November with
a 79.8% turnout, international media reported the same day. Although
preliminary results have yet to be released, the election has received sharp
criticism from international monitors and leading Azerbaijani opposition
figures barred from running. Four opposition parties (Musavat, the Communist
Party, the Hope Party, and the Popular Democratic Party) were barred from
participating and there was a greater number of parliamentary candidates who
were denied registration than those who were permitted to compete. In related
news, four journalists connected to the satirical samizdat publication
Chesme who were convicted of insulting the honor of the president were
pardoned on the eve of elections. -- Lowell Bezanis
DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST AZERBAIJAN'S CONSTITUTION IN TABRIZ.
thousands of people demonstrated in Tabriz, the main town in Iran's East
Azerbaijan province, against what they called "anti-Islamic" changes being made
to the Azerbaijani Constitution, AFP reported on 11 November. The
demonstrations occurred after Friday prayers on 10 November and on the eve of
Azerbaijan's simultaneous parliamentary elections and referendum on the new
constitution. The demonstrations were allegedly called to protest the draft
constitution's separation of state and religion and its failure to mention
Islam as the country's national religion; protesters called on Iran to
"reconsider relations with Azerbaijan" if the draft is voted into law. --
OPPOSITION MAY BOYCOTT NEW GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT.
The leaders of the
Georgian opposition parties are dissatisfied by the results of the
parliamnetary elections and are seriously discussing the creation of an
alternative parliament, Interfax reported on 12 November. The results are
controversial because even though many opposition parties did not overcome the
5% threshold, they in total received 62% of the vote. The three parties who
will get the seats in the parliament won only 38% in total. The Central
Electoral Commission announced also that the second round of the elections in
single-mandate constituencies will take place on 19 November. -- Irakli
KAZAKHSTAN TO RECEIVE MILITARY JETS FROM RUSSIA.
The Russian government
will provide Kazakhstan's Defense Ministry with 43 jets, including 21 MiG-29s,
by the end of 1995, as compensation for nuclear warheads and strategic bombers
withdrawn from the republic two years ago, Panorama reported on 11
November. Kazakhstan will receive another 30 modern military jets over the next
two years, First Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin said at a press
conference held to discuss the bilateral agreements negotiated during the
recent meeting of CIS heads in Moscow. The creation of a joint air defense
system and the lease of the Baikonur cosmodrome were among other issues raised
during the Kazakhstani-Russian military negotiations. -- Vyacheslav Kozlov in
PAKISTAN'S PRIME MINISTER VISITS UZBEKISTAN.
On 11 November, Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto paid a one-day visit to Tashkent to meet with Uzbek
President Islam Karimov at the latter's invitation for talks on the civil war
in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported. Karimov stressed the importance of keeping
foreign powers out of Afghanistan's leadership decisions, Reuters reported,
adding that at the same time, the war itself should be a concern for
neighboring states. Meanwhile, Bhutto emphatically declared Pakistan neutral in
the conflict, despite persistent claims by the Afghan government that her
country supports the rebel Taliban group. Bhutto's trip follows on the heels of
a visit by Foreign Minister Aseff Ahmad Ali to northern Afghanistan where he
met with General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who maintains control of that part of the
country. -- Roger Kangas
NO PROGRESS AT KARABAKH TALKS.
The latest round of peace talks between
Armenia and Azerbaijan ended in Moscow on 12 November without recording any
progress, Russian and Western media reported. The Russian co-chairman of the
Minsk Conference for Nagorno-Karabakh, Vladimir Kazimirov, said the two sides
had followed Russia's initiative to consider the problem of the strategic
Lachin corridor which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, Interfax reported
the same day. The proposal appears to provide for the demilitarization of
Lachin and adjacent areas in order to turn the region into a safe "transit
zone" for people and cargo. The next round of talks are scheduled to begin in
Bonn on 22 November. -- Lowell Bezanis
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT INSISTS ON REFERENDUM ON NEW CONSTITUTION.
Kuchma stepped up the ongoing war of words between himself and the Ukrainian
parliament over political reforms during a weekend visit to Kharkiv. Ukrainian
TV reported on 12 November that Kuchma said his version of the country's
postcommunist constitution calls for a strong executive. He insisted that his
version be approved in a national referendum. "If parliament doesn't agree to
hold a referendum, then I will call one," he told Ukrainian TV. He said the
left's proposal to abolish the Presidency and make Ukraine a parliamentary
republic "would be a disaster." -- Chrystyna Lapychak
CRIMEAN TATAR DEPUTIES END HUNGER STRIKE.
Nine deputies from the Crimean
Tatar caucus in the Crimean legislature have ended their 10-day hunger strike
but vowed to continue to press their demands by staging acts of civil
disobedience throughout the region, Ukrainian TV and Reuters reported on 12
November. The Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars' internal assembly, ordered Tatars
throughout Crimea to begin a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience to
pressure the ethnic Russian majority in the Crimean parliament for equal status
for their language and greater political influence in the new regional
constitution. Crimean lawmakers have conceded to some demands by adopting a
proportional electoral system assuring them a share of seats in their 98-member
assembly. They also voted on 11 November to exempt all Crimean construction
firms--together with the Crimean Tatar charity organization Krym, involved in
resettling Tatars returning from exile in Central Asia--from profit and
value-added taxes. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BLACK SEA FLEET TO GIVE UP DONUZLAV BASE.
Admiral Eduard Baltin,
commander of the Baltic Fleet, has ordered that all military units belonging to
the Crimean Naval Base at Lake Donuzlav be disbanded by 15 January 1996, Radio
Ukraine reported on 10 November. Komsomolskaya pravda reported in August
that a secret directive had been issued to turn this base over to Ukraine. The
base is supposedly the most modern one in the fleet, and the Russians have
proposed that Ukraine base its navy there. -- Doug Clarke
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE COURT RULING.
Russian TV on 10
November reported that Alyaksandr Lukashenka will not recognize the
Constitutional Court's rulings on parliamentary elections or the illegality of
some of his decrees. Lukashenka said there will be no elections under the new
law, which reduces the minimum turnout from 50% to 25%. He declared elections
will take place only under the law stipulating 50% turnout. In other news,
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 November reported that Lukashenka has
dismissed Industry Minister Uladzimir Kurenkau. The president had criticized
Kurenkau for the continued decline in industrial production. Data from the
Ministry of Statistics show that industrial production fell by 20% in the first
nine months of the year, compared with the same period last year. -- Ustina
VIETNAMESE DEPUTY PREMIER IN LATVIA, LITHUANIA.
Nguyen Khanh, on a visit
to Latvia from 6-8 November, signed agreements with Latvian Foreign Minister
Valdis Birkavs on promotion and protection of mutual investments and on
economic cooperation. Vietnam is interested in selling textile goods, fruit,
and food stuffs and in obtaining chemical industry products and radio
equipment. The two sides are also preparing an agreement on avoidance of double
taxation. Khanh met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 9
November in Vilnius and with President Algirdas Brazauskas the next day, BNS
reported. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIA BEGINS NEGOTIATIONS ON JOINING WTO.
Deputy Foreign Minister
Algimantas Rimkunas is heading a Lithuanian delegation that began negotiations
in Geneva on 10 November on Lithuania's becoming a member of the World Trade
Organization, BNS reported. At the first session of a working group, Rimkumas
presented a Lithuanian memorandum on foreign trade and reported on the current
state of the economy, the system of regulations for domestic and foreign trade,
and progress in economic reform. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH JUSTICE MINISTER CALLS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL RULING.
Jaskiernia has said he wants the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether
politicians should also declare property owned by their spouses, Polish dailies
reported on 13 November. He added that Democratic Left Alliance leader and
presidential candidate Aleksander Kwasniewski had not given false information
about his wife's assets but rather had "concealed the truth." The
Prosecutor-General's Office in Warsaw said the decision whether to launch an
inquiry into Kwasniewski's case will be reached before the second round of
presidential elections on 19 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
CZECH INFLATION SLOWS, FOREIGN INVESTMENT GROWS.
Consumer prices in the
Czech Republic rose by 0.6% in October, Czech media reported on 13 November.
According to figures issued by the Statistics Office, prices were 8.1% higher
than in October 1994, the lowest such comparative figure since economic
transformation began. Inflation for the whole of 1995 is expected to reach
9.5%. Meanwhile, the Czech National Bank said direct foreign investment for the
first nine months of this year totaled $1.98 billion. The bulk was accounted
for by the $1.32 billion paid by a Dutch-Swiss consortium for a stake in the
telecommunications firm SPT Telecom. Since 1990, direct foreign investment has
totaled $5.275 billion. -- Steve Kettle
PETITION DRIVE LAUNCHED TO OUST SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER.
Robert Krajnak, a
35-year old beer distributor, on 11 November placed an advertisement in the
opposition daily Sme calling on Slovaks to sign a petition to remove
Vladimir Meciar. The full-page advertisement includes the headline "I was born
under a totalitarian regime; I do not want to die under one." Krajnak needs to
gather 350,000 signatures to call a referendum on Meciar's dismissal. Meciar's
party--the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia--won 35% of the vote in last
year's elections and remains the most popular party in Slovakia. The next
parliamentary elections are scheduled for fall 1998. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK PREMIER AT ODDS OVER LANGUAGE BILL.
Minister Gyula Horn said Hungary will seek urgent consultations with the
Council of Europe after no progress was made in talks with his Slovak
counterpart, Vladimir Meciar on Slovakia's controversial language bill,
Hungarian and Slovak newspapers reported. The two leaders met in Berlin on 10
November while participating in an international conference on European
integration. Meciar stressed that the bill does not alter or affect the use of
minority languages and that further consultations with Horn are difficult since
the bill is now before the parliament. In other news, the Conference of Bishops
of Slovakia and several other Church organizations have expressed opposition to
aspects of the language law, Pravda reported on 11 November.-- Zsofia
Szilagyi and Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN HEALTH WORKERS STAGE DEMONSTRATION.
Some 60,000 health workers
demonstrated outside Hungary's parliament building on 11 November, demanding a
35% wage increase, a 10% increase in state funds for health institutions in
1996, and the possibility of early retirement, Hungarian media reported. Mihaly
Kokeny, political state secretary at the Ministry of Welfare, told Nepszava
on 12 November that the health workers' wage demands could not be met in
the first half of 1996, and he proposed further negotiations. The health
workers say they will stage strikes if the government does not guarantee a wage
hike. The health workers are the third group to protest the government's
rigorous stabilization program. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES NEW PLATFORM.
Jozsef Torgyan, the
populist leader of the Smallholders' Party, on 11 November told a crowd of
10,000 at a Budapest sports hall that he expects early elections by next fall
and that his party is likely to repeat the 1945 election victory of its
predecessor, the historical Smallholder's Party, Hungarian newspapers reported.
The Smallholders popularity reached that of the Socialists in September owing
to growing popular discontent with the ruling coalition. Torgyan said his
party's top priority is to provide an alternative to "the ransacking
liberal-bolshevik power." As part of its economic program, the Smallholders'
Party will examine the country's external and internal debts and release all
relevant details once it takes power, Torgyan said. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 221, 13 November 1995
CROATIAN-MUSLIM AGREEMENT SIGNED.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic
and his Croatian counterpart, Franjo Tudjman, signed a new document in Dayton
on 10 November. The pact will strengthen the Croatian-Muslim federation in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was established with American mediation in early
1994. The alliance has proven highly effective in recent months on the
battlefield, but results have otherwise been slim. There remains much mistrust
stemming from the 1993 internecine war, and local kingpins on both sides are
reluctant to share power. International media said that the new agreement
allows for the return of some 100 refugee families from each side, the
reuniting of divided Mostar, and the setting up of a customs union. Slobodna
Dalmacija and Novi list reported on 13 November that Izetbegovic has
ordered officials to begin work immediately on the return of refugees to
Bugojno, Travnik, Jajce, and Stolac. -- Patrick Moore
A PEACEFUL SOLUTION IN EASTERN SLAVONIA?
International media on 12
November reported that representatives of the Croatian government and rebel
Serbs in Croatia signed an agreement at separate ceremonies to return eastern
Slavonia to Croatian control. The pact was drawn up by Tudjman and Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic in Dayton and mediated by U.S. Ambassador Peter
Galbraith and UN negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg. Its 14 points provide for a
transition period of one year, with a possible extension for another year;
demilitarization of the region; UN supervision; local elections before the end
of the transition; full human rights for all nationalities; and the right of
all refugees to return to their homes and property. It comes into effect as
soon as the UN Security Council endorses it. Galbraith said that the pact marks
the return of the region's multiethnic character, but Reuters reported that
local Croats are skeptical. -- Patrick Moore
DID KARADZIC TRY TO MAKE A DEAL WITH WASHINGTON?
German media on 13
November reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military
counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, have offered to leave public office in
return for not being extradited to The Hague. The two internationally wanted
war criminals reportedly made the offer through Milosevic in Dayton, but the
Serbian weekly NIN was quoted as saying that U.S. diplomats refused it. An
existing draft agreement on Bosnia's constitutional future would ban indicted
war criminals from holding office. It is unclear whether Karadzic and Mladic
have offered to withdraw from public life altogether. -- Patrick Moore
SHATTUCK PLEASED WITH BANJA LUKA TALKS.
John Shattuck, assistant U.S.
state secretary for human rights, said after his 10 November talks with Banja
Luka's mayor that for the first time, Bosnian Serb authorities have admitted to
arresting Muslim civilians, some of whom have not been accounted for, Reuters
reported the next day. He estimated that nearly 1,400 Banja Luka Muslims have
been either arrested or taken to forced labor camps. However, he underscored
that there is no evidence of mass killings in the area, unlike in Srebrenica.
The mayor promised that Muslims and Croats wanting to leave the area will be
allowed to do so and that their property will not be confiscated. Meanwhile,
the UN sanctions committee has authorized rump Yugoslavia to import natural
gas, liquid petroleum gas, and heating oil from Russia--on condition that the
gas flow to Sarajevo not be interrupted, Reuters reported the same day. --
Daria Sito Sucic
ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER DIES.
Corneliu Coposu, chairman of the
National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and a leading figure of the
opposition Democratic Convention of Romania, died in Bucharest on 11 November
at the age of 79, Radio Bucharest reported. Coposu, who spent more than 17
years in jail under communism, was considered a symbol of anti-communist
resistance. In December 1989, he revived the historical National Peasant Party,
which had been banned in 1946. The party later added "Christian Democratic" to
its name to better define its political orientation. Western agencies reported
that thousands of people paid their last respects to the PNTCD leader. King
Michael, who lives in exile in Switzerland, has demanded a visa to attend
Coposu's funeral on 14 November. -- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR CABINET.
Greater Romanian Party (PRM) on 10 November announced it was withdrawing its
support for the current cabinet, Romanian media reported. PRM leader Corneliu
Vadim Tudor, speaking at a press conference, criticized the government for
failing to respect the commitments it made in 1992. He also demanded early
elections in order to "heal Romanian society." The PRM, which used to be a
member of a four-party coalition supporting Nicolae Vacaroiu's cabinet, was
forced out of the alliance following Tudor's attacks on President Ion Iliescu.
-- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS BISHOP TOKES'S "ALTERNATIVE RECONCILIATION"
Ion Iliescu on 12 November rejected Bishop Laszlo Tokes's
alternative proposal for Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 1 November 1995), Radio Bucharest reported. He said that proposal,
based on the South Tyrol model, led to the "extremist conclusion" that the only
way toward reconciliation would be to grant autonomy to the Hungarian minority.
Iliescu further accused Tokes of "systematically spreading lies about the
situation of the Hungarian minority in Romania." Meanwhile, Bela Marko, leader
of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, said Iliescu's proposal for
reconciliation was not a serious attempt to resolve differences but was merely
aimed at postponing a bilateral treaty between Romania and Hungary, Reuters
reported on 10 November. -- Matyas Szabo
FORMER 14TH ARMY NOW ALL-RUSSIAN.
The former 14th Army stationed in the
Dniester region of Moldova is now "fully Russian," according to Russian Defense
Minster Pavel Grachev. Interfax on 10 November quoted him as saying that all
the conscripts recruited in the Dnestr region have been dismissed and replaced
by draftees from Russia. He added that the structures set up by former
commander Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed that engaged in counterintelligence,
intelligence, sabotage, and other such activities had been removed from the
division. -- Doug Clarke
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WINS MAYORALTY IN SOFIA . . .
the mayoral candidate of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), won the run-off
in the capital on 12 November, Standart reported the following day.
According to several exit polls, Sofiyanski gained between 56% and 62% of the
vote, while the nominally independent Ventsislav Yosifov, a banker supported by
the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), won between 38% and 44%. The Municipal
Electoral Commission put turnout at 45%. Many media outlets had conducted a
campaign against Sofiyanski; and on 11-12 November, 24 chasa and 168
chasa reported that Sofiyanski had been a member of the Bulgarian Communist
Party since 1984. Sofiyanski denied those reports, saying the party membership
card reprinted in the publications was falsified. -- Stefan Krause
. . . BUT SOCIALISTS WIN MOST MAYORAL SEATS IN PROVINCES.
preliminary results released by the Central Electoral Commission, BSP
candidates won in 20 out of the 27 former administrative centers. In addition
to Sofia, the SDS won in the Black Sea port of Varna and in the city of Gabrovo
in runoffs on 12 November. It was also successful in Stara Zagora on 5 November
and in the country's second-biggest town, Plovdiv, in the first round on 29
October. In Kardzhali, where a vote along ethnic lines had been feared, the
candidate of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom beat the
socialist candidate on 12 November. The Socialists also took the majority of
the mayoral seats in smaller towns and villages. -- Stefan Krause
FATOS NANO DOES NOT WANT HIS CASE REVIEWED.
Albanian Socialist Party
leader Fatos Nano said he will not participate in the review of his case by the
Supreme Court, international agencies reported. Nano, in a letter to his
lawyer, described the trial as a "farce" and added that "there is no more time
to lose in such trials." Nano expects to be released from prison if the
Socialists win the upcoming elections. Nano has three years left to serve after
he was convicted of misappropriation of Italian aid funds. The Socialist Party
claims he is not guilty and is a political prisoner. -- Fabian Schmidt
MASS GRAVES FOUND IN ALBANIA.
A mass grave containing the bodies of some
40 people has been discovered in the courtyard of a local radio station in
Shkoder, Reuters reported on 10 November. The victims are believed to have been
political prisoners killed over a 20-year period by the communist regime. Among
them are thought to be those who led a revolt in 1985 in the Qafa e Barit jail
and were later executed. Other mass graves have been found near Tirana in
recent weeks. Albanian officials estimate that more than 400,000 Albanians were
politically persecuted by the Communists and more than 7,000 of them executed.
-- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave