YELTSIN: ELECTION WILL BE HELD ON SCHEDULE.
President Boris Yeltsin
announced that the election will be held on schedule on 16 June and criticized
his body guard Aleksandr Korzhakov for suggesting that they would be postponed,
NTV reported on 6 May. Yeltsin said he told Korzhakov not to get involved in
politics and not to make such statements in the future. Korzhakov's proposal
provoked wide-ranging denunciations in the Russian press, ranging from
Constitutional Court justices to the organizers of Yeltsin's campaign effort.
The timing of the generally secretive Korzhakov's proposal is peculiar since
Yeltsin has now drawn even with Zyuganov in opinion polls. -- Robert Orttung
LEBED REJECTS ALLIANCE WITH YAVLINSKII.
Lt. Gen. (retired) Aleksandr
Lebed announced on 6 May that he would not withdraw his candidacy in favor of
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and that he would fight to the end of the
campaign. For the past two months, the Russian press has speculated over
whether Lebed and eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov would withdraw from the race
in favor of Yavlinskii. -- Robert Orttung
BUSINESSMEN ISSUE ANOTHER APPEAL TO CANDIDATES.
businessmen whose 26 April appeal asked President Yeltsin and Zyuganov to
compromise issued another letter on 6 May denouncing the "extremist forces"
surrounding the main candidates. The statement equated Korzhakov's call for
postponing the elections with communists who summon their supporters to fight
until "the last drop of blood" has been shed, NTV reported. The appeal and
Korzhakov's statement may be part of an orchestrated effort to drive a wedge
between the moderate and extreme communists. Yeltsin can now say that he has
disciplined the extremists in his camp, after reprimanding Korzhakov, but
Zyuganov has yet to denounce the extreme communists he has worked so hard to
include in his coalition. -- Robert Orttung
YAVLINSKII'S CONDITIONS TO YELTSIN.
Excerpts from a letter Grigorii
Yavlinskii gave President Boris Yeltsin during their 5 May two-hour meeting
were published in Izvestiya on 7 May. Yavlinskii stated that his
conditions for supporting the president include the implementation of an
economic policy "to stimulate production and relieve the tax burden," a social
policy to guarantee that real income increases and wages are paid on time, and
military reform. He also demanded that Yeltsin end the war in Chechnya, take
"urgent measures" to stop crime, and stop putting political pressure on the
media. Yavlinskii's chances of being elected president are considered slim, but
his support in a second round between Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov could be
crucial. -- Laura Belin
YELTSIN WARNS OF REFORMS BEING REVERSED.
In an interview with Delovye
lyudi, President Yeltsin argued that his reforms are not irreversible,
ITAR-TASS reported on 6 May. He rejected the arguments of "some factions within
Russia's democratic forces" that the legal base created in the last few years
would prevent a return to the past. He also criticized the idea that conditions
in the country would force any political party that comes to power to carry on
the current economic reforms. He said that his opponents were prepared "to act
without any limits, as happened after 1917." He characterized the Communists as
a "party of revanche" that rejects "any moral norms" and is driven by a thirst
for revenge against "those who managed to employ their talents, live better, or
see the world previously hidden by the iron curtain." -- Robert Orttung
ZYUGANOV WARNS WEST AGAINST SUPPORTING YELTSIN.
Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, on a visit to Germany, warned the West against backing
President Yeltsin in the June election, saying it would be a mistake to support
just one politician, Reuters and AFP reported on 6 May. Although Chancellor
Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel refused to meet with Zyuganov, he
did meet with all of the parliamentary party leaders, including Wolfgang
Schaeuble, leader of Kohl's Christian Democrats. Zyuganov also had an
off-the-record exchange of views with about 40 bankers and industrialists.
Zyuganov said his visit to Germany, at the invitation of the German Foreign
Policy Society and German-Russian Forum, will be his only trip abroad during
the campaign. -- Anna Paretskaya
YELTSIN DECREE INCREASES JUSTICE MINISTER'S POWERS.
decree signed on 3 May will speed up legal reform by granting the Justice
Ministry some powers previously assigned to the procuracy, Russian TV (RTR)
reported on 6 May. Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev said that from now on
judicial bodies will be able to open criminal cases and carry out
investigations concerning crimes in the justice system. Kovalev added that the
decree will help make sure judicial decisions are better enforced, especially
in the civil liberties area. In addition, the decree expands the ministry's
rights to monitor the compliance of public organizations' activities with their
statutory aims, as well as the implementation of the constitution, federal
laws, presidential decrees, and government resolutions, ITAR-TASS reported on 3
May. -- Laura Belin
MASKHADOV, IMAEV AGREE TO TALKS.
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov
formally stated on 6 May that he is ready for talks with the Russian military
command in Chechnya on military but not political issues, Russian media
reported. Usman Imaev, the former procurator in Dzhokhar Dudaev's leadership
and one of the Chechen representatives to last summer's peace talks, also said
talks could take place soon. Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla
Bugaev, however, ruled out acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev as a
negotiating partner, saying he is incapable of "a sensible compromise," Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported. Also on 6 May, Chechen and Russian Interior Ministry
forces checked the identification of residents of the town of Shali, which has
been blockaded for two weeks by Russian troops because of the alleged presence
of Chechen rebel fighters. The verification proceeded without incident, but no
information is available concerning the number of weapons confiscated and
persons detained, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller
RUSSIA, CHINA TO SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev and Chinese Chief of Staff Fu Quanyou met in Moscow to discuss
Russian-Chinese military relations and sign a military-technical cooperation
protocol, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 May. Although no details were released, the
protocol specifies the terms of the 1993 bilateral military-technical
cooperation agreement. Following the April 1996 Shanghai agreement signed by
Russia, China, and three Central Asian states on creating a buffer zone along
their borders, Grachev and Fu Quanyou discussed reducing armed forces stationed
on the Russia-Chinese border. Grachev said the two countries are "strategic
partners," but both Russia and China have repeatedly insisted that such a
partnership is not a military alliance. -- Constantine Dmitriev
RUSSIAN-BRITISH ESPIONAGE ROW.
A diplomatic scandal has broken out
following the arrest by the Federal Security Service (FSB) of a Russian citizen
allegedly spying for Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Russian and
Western agencies reported. FSB spokesman Aleksandr Zdanovich said the unnamed
Russian was apprehended while making radio contact with London. The suspect
later confessed to working for SIS and revealed details of its Moscow network,
which operates out of the British Embassy, he added. Deputy Foreign Minister
Sergei Krylov subsequently called in British Ambassador Andrew Wood to protest
and expel several members of the British Embassy staff "for activities
incompatible with diplomatic status." The British Foreign Office has denied the
allegations, and British Foreign Minster Malcolm Rifkind later threatened
retaliation if Russia goes ahead with the expulsions. -- Scott Parrish
CUBAN-RUSSIAN BARTER CONTRACT HITS SNAG.
Vladimir Bzhdugov, deputy
director of international ties for the Russian firm "Alfa-Eko," told ITAR-TASS
on 6 May that his company has suspended implementation of the Cuban-Russian
sugar-for-oil barter deal signed in October 1995. The contract calls for firms
chosen by the Russian government to deliver 1.5 million metric tons of oil to
Cuba in exchange for 500,000 tons of sugar during 1996. Bzhdugov said the
contract was frozen because Cuba had fallen behind in delivering the sugar. --
OFFICIAL: PLUTONIUM STORAGE SITE UNDERFINANCED.
Viktor Fetisov, director
of the "Mayak" nuclear reprocessing plant, told ITAR-TASS on 6 May that
shortfalls in government financing are hindering the construction of a $300
million storage facility for weapons-grade plutonium and uranium at his plant.
The facility, which is being financed jointly by the U.S. and Russia, is
intended to provide secure storage for fissile materials from dismantled former
Soviet nuclear weapons and should be finished by 1998. Fetisov warned that the
failure of the Finance Ministry to deliver the necessary funds could lead to
the suspension of construction work. -- Scott Parrish
NUCLEAR MATERIAL STOLEN FROM SIBERIAN LABORATORY.
A scientist in an
institute in Krasnoyarsk has been arrested by the Federal Security Service in
connection with the theft of radioactive materials, ITAR-TASS reported on 7
May. The scientist had reportedly processed and smuggled out of the country
more than 1 kg of materials that could be used in the preparation of nuclear
weapons. The closed city of Krasnoyarsk 26 was one of the main centers of
plutonium production, while Krasnoyarsk 45 formerly manufactured enriched
uranium. -- Peter Rutland
INFLATION HITS RECORD LOW.
The April inflation rate was only 2.2%, the
lowest since 1991 and down from 2.8% in March, Ekho Moskvy reported on 6 May.
Goskomstat suggests that annual inflation for 1996 may be as low as 34%,
compared to 131% in 1995 and 300% in 1994. The government argues that the
slowdown in inflation will encourage investment, but there is no sign yet that
economic growth has restarted. Most analysts expect serious financial
instability in the second half of this year, not least because of the yawning
budget deficit, which stands at 20 trillion rubles ($4 billion) for the first
quarter, according to Finansovye izvestiya of 7 May. -- Peter Rutland
TELECOM SEEKS FOREIGN INVESTMENT.
Russia is again looking for foreign
capital to revive the "People's Phone" project, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 May.
Communications Minister Vladimir Bulgak said that in order to add 20 million
new telephones to the existing 26 million by 2010, Russia will need to attract
$750 million worth of foreign investment in 1996. (Foreign investment in the
sector totaled $520 million in 1995.) The project was launched in October 1994
by the 50/50 consortium of Western and Russian companies. Western firms
withdrew in March 1996 following Russia's attempts to halve their equity
participation, while the ministry's efforts to set up a new consortium favoring
Russian companies (Rostelekom, Svyazinvest and Rossiiskie Nalozhennye Seti)
failed due to the latter's lack of capital. -- Natalia Gurushina
AVIATION COMPANIES' PLANS TO BUY FOKKER MAY BE HALTED.
government is blocking the plans of the Tupolev Aircraft Company and Yakovlev
Aircraft Design Bureau to buy a controlling interest in the bankrupt Dutch
aviation firm Fokker, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. In order to raise $370
million to buy Fokker shares, the companies sought a government-guaranteed
loan. However, Finance Ministry officials said that the 1996 budget does not
envisage such expenses, and suggested that the money would be better spent
investing in Russian aircraft manufacturers. The takeover may also be
obstructed by Fokker's former owner, the German company DASA, which holds
licenses for the production of aircraft equipment and plans to develop its own
manufacturing of short-range flight planes in cooperation with West European
firms. -- Natalia Gurushina
MOSCOW UNWILLING TO HAND OVER MUTALIBOV.
Eldar Hasanov arrived in Moscow on 6 May in the hope of expediting the
extradition to Baku of former president Ayaz Mutalibov, accused of
masterminding two alleged unsuccessful coup attempts, Russian media reported.
Russian Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov told ITAR-TASS that Baku has not yet
provided the necessary evidence against Mutalibov, whose fate must be decided
by 12 May--one month after his detention in Moscow. -- Liz Fuller
URANIUM SMUGGLERS APPREHENDED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Authorities in Kazakhstan
have detained two men from Ust-Kamenogorsk, who were in possession of more than
100 kg of low-enriched uranium-235, according to the 5-11 May edition of
Obshchaya gazeta. The two men were connected to the Ulba holding
company, which has previously sold uranium to the U.S. The authorities recently
found 4 kg of uranium, one kilogram of thorium, which can be converted into
uranium-233, and 10 kg of indium, an extremely rare element, in a car
attempting to leave the Ust-Kamenogorsk area. -- Bruce Pannier
KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA BANNED IN KAZAKHSTAN?
has asked the Supreme Court to ban the Russian weekly Komsomolskaya
pravda from Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. The justification for
the move, according to Kazakhstani officials, is that an 23 April article
entitled "Conversations with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn" was a "rude interference
in the internal affairs of an independent government." The government said that
the move was prompted by a group of Kazakhstani writers. -- Roger Kangas
MORE TERROR IN TAJIKISTAN.
The 65-year-old rector of the Dushanbe
Medical School, Yusuf Iskhaki, was gunned down on 6 May near the capital,
according to RFE/RL and AFP. Another six people were killed in a separate
attack on a road some 50 km outside Dushanbe. There has been an increase in the
number of violent attacks in Tajikistan as the 26 May deadline for the
ceasefire agreement to expire approaches. -- Bruce Pannier
RAKHMONOV IN TURKEY.
Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov arrived in Turkey
on 5 May to sign nine bilateral agreements, such as accords on mutual
investment protection and judicial, sports, tourism, and transport cooperation,
Western and Turkish media reported the same day. Rakhmonov's first visit to
Turkey follows Turkish President Suleyman Demirel's first trip to Tajikistan
last September. To date, Turkey has invested an estimated $150 million in
Tajikistan according to AFP. Turkey's belated expressions of interest in
Tajikistan are part of its efforts to gain credibility in Central Asia and
compensate for its earlier stress on supporting Turkish ethnicity in the
region. Rakhmonov also told Demirel that Dushanbe has definitively identified
the exact location of the remains of General Enver Pasha, the leading member of
the triumvirate that effectively ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1908 until its
collapse in World War I. The remains will be returned to Turkey. -- Lowell
The trial of opposition leader Yuriy Khadyka began
in Minsk on 6 May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Khadyka has been charged
with causing public disorder for his part in the 26 April demonstrations. He
faces up to three years in jail if found guilty and has been on a hunger strike
since his arrest. Khadyka's lawyer said no journalists or spectators were
allowed into the courtroom. She added that she was told to sign a declaration
promising not to reveal details of the proceedings. UNIAR reported on 4 May
that members of the Ukrainian nationalist organization UNA-UNSO who were
sentenced to 30 days detention for their role in the demonstrations have also
started a hunger strike. -- Ustina Markus
Crimea celebrated Constitution Day on 6 May, which marks
the anniversary of the passage of the 1992 separatist constitution, ITAR-TASS
and Russian TV reported. That basic law was annulled by Kyiv last year. The
Republican Party of Crimea issued a statement condemning Kyiv for stripping the
peninsula of its powers and leaving it in control only of its police force,
television, and economy. The party also noted there were forces that wanted to
turn Crimea into a national state for Crimean Tatars. In other news, 2,150
cases of hepatitis "A" have been reported in Sevastopol since the beginning of
the year. The main reason for the spread of the disease is the poor quality of
Sevastopol's drinking water. More than 300 km of water pipes in the city need
to be changed or repaired. No fewer than 95 accidents occurred along them in
the first quarter of the year. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON EU.
Hennadii Udovenko told EU and
Ukrainian officials in Kyiv that Ukraine's strategic goal is to become a
full-fledged member of the EU, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 May. He said this will
be possible only once Ukraine has became economically "strong." He called on
the EU to help the country not only in its fiscal and technical planning but
also in expanding trade with EU countries. -- Ustina Markus
BLACK SEA MERCHANT VESSELS HELD IN PORTS WORLDWIDE PENDING DEBT PAYMENTS.
Twenty-six vessels from the Black Sea Merchant Fleet are being held in
various ports throughout the world over the company's debts, ITAR-TASS reported
on 6 May. The company owes more than $207 million. The Odessa has been
held in Naples for more than a year, and its crew has begun a hunger strike in
protest over non-payment of wages. The Indira Ghandi has been held in
the Suez Canal since last August and is without electricity supplies. A meeting
of Transport Ministry officials is to be held in Odessa in mid-May to solve the
shipping company's problems, but any financial assistance will depend on
municipal budget revenues. -- Ustina Markus
ICELAND'S PREMIER VISITS ESTONIA.
David Oddsson told Estonian Prime
Minister Tiit Vahi in Tallinn on 6 May that while Iceland has no objections to
visa-free relations with Estonia, such an arrangement would have to be
coordinated with other Nordic countries, ETA reported. He added that Estonia
would first have to ratify the European refugee convention and pledge to step
up its fight against crime. Vahi said his Finnish counterpart, Paavo Lipponen,
has confirmed that visa-free travel between Finland and Estonia will probably
be introduced in 1997. Oddsson agreed with Vahi's suggestion that visa-free
travel with Iceland begin at same time. The two leaders also discussed trade
relations and the results of the recent Visby summit meeting. Before leaving
Tallinn, Oddsson met with President Lennart Meri and parliamentary chairman
Toomas Savi. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER SACKED.
Prime Minister Andris Skele on 6
May dismissed Alberts Kauls for calling the government's farm policies
"destructive" at a meeting with farmers in Skrunda three days earlier, BNS
reported. Skele, who reportedly was not pleased with Kauls's work, had called
the farming bill drafted by the Agriculture Ministry "catastrophic." Kauls said
his dismissal was a deliberate attempt to "squeeze out" the Unity Party, which
he heads, from the ruling coalition. Skele appointed Economics Minister Guntis
Krasts as interim agriculture minister and asked the Unity Party to propose a
successor to Kauls. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIA, RUSSIAN PREMIERS MEET IN VISBY.
Mindaugas Stankevicius and
Viktor Chernomyrdin primarily discussed economic matters at their meeting in
Visby on 3 May, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported two days later.
Stankevicius was surprised by Chernomyrdin's unexpected proposal that the two
countries sign an oil transit agreement that could result in Russia abandoning
its plans to build oil terminals in Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg. Responding
to Stankevicius's comment that most illegal Asian immigrants to Lithuania have
Russian visas, Chernomyrdin said they were probably forged. -- Saulius
MINSK PROTESTS ANTI-BELARUSIAN DEMONSTRATION IN POLAND.
Embassy in Warsaw on 6 May protested to Poland's Foreign Ministry over a
demonstration on May Day outside the Belarus consulate in the Polish
northeastern town of Bialystok, Polish press reported. Some 50 people protested
the crackdown on journalists in Belarus, and one demonstrator burned a portrait
of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Among the protesters were
representatives of Poland's leftist Labor Union party as well as members of the
country's Belarusian minority. Minsk expressed "astonishment" that the Polish
authorities refrained from taking action against the demonstrators. Meanwhile,
Warsaw and President Aleksander Kwasniewski have declined to comment on the
incident. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
UPDATE ON OLEKSY ESPIONAGE CASE.
Poland's chief military prosecutor on 6
May instructed several state prosecutors to review the results of the
investigation into espionage allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef
Oleksy. Last month, Col. Slawomir Gorzkiewicz, who headed the investigation,
confirmed it had been closed after no evidence could be found that Oleksy
passed on information to the intelligence services of a foreign country.
Gazeta Wyborcza on 7 May quoted Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki as
saying that this is a routine check. Oleksy rejected all accusations but
resigned as premier when the investigation was launched. He said the
accusations, which came in the wake of former President Lech Walesa's failure
to be re-elected, were politically motivated. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
POLISH CABINET CONSIDERS CHANGING ANTI-TERRORIST LAW.
considering tightening the country's anti-terrorist law following the bomb
attack last month on a Shell gas station in Warsaw (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 6 May 1996). Polish government spokeswoman Aleksandra Jakubowska on
6 May said that an investigation has been launched and that the government is
"concerned" about the incident. She added that if it were concluded that
similar incidents could recur, "legal and organizational measures will
certainly be taken," Rzeczpospolita reported on 7 May. -- Dagmar
SLOVAK PRESIDENT SIGNS TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Michal Kovac on 6 May signed
the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, Slovak and international media reported. The
treaty was signed by Prime Ministers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn in March
1995 and ratified by the Hungarian parliament last June. The Slovak parliament
ratified it in March this year, but it was submitted to Kovac only on 2 May
amid continuing discussions between the two countries' Foreign Ministries over
the interpretation of the treaty's provisions on protecting minority rights.
The date and place for the final exchange of documents still have to be agreed,
but Praca on 7 May quoted a Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying
the remaining steps before the treaty comes into force will proceed normally.
-- Steve Kettle
HUNGARY'S SOCIAL SECURITY DEFICIT SET TO SOAR.
The Hungarian Finance
Ministry estimates that the country's social security deficit will amount to
41.3 billion forints by year's end, Magyar Hirlap reported on 7 May.
This amount is well above the 17.8 billion forints laid down by the IMF as a
condition for releasing a $300 million standby credit. The ministry says,
however, that the effects of such a large deficit will be mitigated by a budget
deficit that is expected to be below the initial projection. It is now
estimated that the deficit will be 3.9% of GDP in 1996. Following the departure
of Finance Minister Lajos Bokros, who was a strong advocate of radical social
welfare reform, the government has still not revealed a plan to reduce the
social security deficit. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
FIRST BOSNIAN WAR CRIMES TRIAL BEGINS.
The trial of the Bosnian Serb
prison worker Dusan Tadic began at the Hague-based International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 7 May, international and local media
reported. This is the first war crimes trial since the ones at Nuremberg and
Tokyo, and Tadic was the first indicted war criminal to be arrested and sent to
The Hague. The International Herald Tribune the previous day quoted a
senior Western diplomat as saying that "Tadic is nothing.... It is doubtful
that this trial will make much of an impact." The man in the dock is accused of
killing, raping, and torturing, but he held no major position in either the
army, the civilian apparatus, or the concentration camp system. Many observers
doubt that any major war criminals will ever be brought to justice. -- Patrick
BOSNIAN SERB SOCIALIST LEADER SAYS KARADZIC IS BEHIND BOMBINGS.
political rifts among the Bosnian Serbs continue to deepen. Dragutin Ilic,
leader of the Socialist Party, which is an ally of Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic, accused Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic of being
responsible for a campaign of violence against the opposition. Karadzic
allegedly is to blame for intimidation, bomb attacks, and sabotage in the
run-up to the September elections, Reuters quoted Tanjug as saying on 6 May.
Meanwhile, the power struggle between Karadzic and his loyalists in Pale, on
the one hand, and the Banja Luka leadership, on the other, has intensified, AFP
reported on 7 May. Banja Luka was known to the UN as "the heart of darkness"
during the war because of the Serbs' ruthlessness in conducting "ethnic
cleansing" and in destroying historical mosques. But the leadership there has
since tried to portray itself as a moderate alternative to the men in Pale.
Karadzic controls the police in Banja Luka and has used death threats and
intimidation against local leaders. Finally, the Sarajevo bi-weekly magazine
Slobodna Bosna reported that Karadzic held a secret meeting with
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in Herzegovina last week. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIA CHARGES BOSNIANS WITH TERRORISM.
Croatian Public Prosecutor
Drago Marcinel has formally charged five Bosnians with planning to kill former
Bihac pocket kingpin Fikret Abdic, who now lives in Rijeka, Novi list
reported on 6 May. A sixth man, a Croat, is accused of aiding
"international terrorism." The prosecutor said that they were acting on orders
from Bihac state security chief Ejub Ikic and were promised DM 100,000 for the
murder. The Bosnian authorities have repeatedly denied the accusations and
suggested that the Croats and Abdic manufactured the incident as a publicity
stunt to promote Abdic's political comeback. -- Patrick Moore
BELGRADE-ZAGREB HIGHWAY RE-OPENS.
Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic
has announced that the main highway between Belgrade and Zagreb will be
re-opened for civilian traffic on 7 May, Nasa Borba reported. The
highway was closed to private vehicles in 1991 when the war broke out. The
re-opening marks the beginning of concrete efforts aimed at the peaceful
reintegration of the Serb-held areas of eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and western
Srijem into Croatia. The Adriatic pipeline is also expected to be re-opened
soon. Meanwhile, the Croatian government on 6 May adopted a program of peaceful
reintegration, Hina reported. It also approved a law granting an amnesty
to rebel Serbs in Eastern Slavonia who committed criminal offenses other than
war crimes. The law is scheduled to take effect by 15 July. U.S. Gen. Jacques
Klein, the UN transitional administrator for eastern Slavonia, also attended
the session and said later that the reintegration of occupied areas could be
expected to be completed by mid-1997. -- Daria Sito Sucic
BELGRADE PROPOSES ELECTORAL REFORM.
The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia
has proposed legislative amendments increasing the number of federal electoral
districts to 27 in Serbia and 12 in Montenegro and stipulating that each party
gain a minimum of 25% of the vote in a district to qualify for parliamentary
representation, Tanjug reported. Under existing legislation, a party needs to
win only 5% of the vote to hold a seat. Opposition parties allege that the
amendments are designed to keep them out of office and will benefit the SPS and
its allies. -- Stan Markotich
KOSOVAR LEADER ADVOCATES CONFEDERATION WITH RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Demaci, head of the Kosovo Human Rights Council, has said that it is
"imperative" for the Kosovar leadership to open talks with Serbia and
Montenegro on forming a "confederal Balkan community" in the event that Kosovo
gains independence. He pointed out that the recent outbreak of violence in the
region shows the need for urgent talks, adding that "We have to do all we can
to prevent an escalation [of the conflict]." Demaci also called on the
international community to force Belgrade to the negotiating table. He rejected
the idea of autonomy for Kosovo, AFP reported on 6 May. -- Fabian Schmidt
CROATIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ACCUSED OF WORKING FOR COMMUNIST SECRET
Vjesnik, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Croatian
Democratic Community, has accused human rights activist Ivan Zvonimir Cicak of
working for the former Yugoslav secret police after 1966. The Croatian
Journalists Association, the Croatian PEN Center, and all non-government
organizations and media have protested the accusation. Cicak was imprisoned by
the former Yugoslav regime for alleged Croatian nationalist activities. The
Vjesnik article is seen as part of an ongoing campaign against
opposition figures in Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic
ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE.
Opposition leaders have accused the
ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania of setting up bureaucratic hurdles
to prevent opposition candidates from registering for the 2 June local
elections, Romanian media reported. Ziua quoted a representative of the
Liberal Party `93 as saying that some election officials have illegally
demanded police clearance from candidates to discourage them from taking part
in the elections. Harassment and intimidation of candidates have also been
reported. In a separate development, the BBC rejected accusations by Chamber of
Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase that it is meddling in the Romanian election
campaign by openly favoring the opposition. Nastase has asked the National
Audio-Visual Council, the country's media watchdog, to investigate BBC
reporting practices. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVA, RUSSIA RESUME TALKS ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL.
Talks between Moldova
and Russia on the withdrawal of Russian troops in Moldova's breakaway Dniester
region resumed in Chisinau on 6 May, Moldovan and international agencies
reported. Defense and Foreign Ministry officials took part in the negotiations,
which have been deadlocked since February 1995. Meanwhile, Yurii Karlov, the
Russian presidential special envoy to the Chisinau-Tiraspol talks, told
Moldovan President Mircea Snegur that Boris Yeltsin firmly intends to abide by
the 1992 Moldovan-Russian agreement ending the military conflict in the region.
He added that Yeltsin will consider signing an interim document stipulating the
basic principles of a conflict settlement that provides for Moldova's
territorial integrity. -- Matyas Szabo
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR UNITY ON NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Zhelev--speaking at a military parade on 6 May, which is St. George's Day in
Bulgaria--appealed to the public to support the idea of Bulgaria's joining
NATO, Bulgarian media reported. He noted that NATO membership is "one issue
that should not prove divisive" but, on the contrary, should "unite us." Zhelev
also said that NATO membership "would increase our chances of solving national
security problems." The government, led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP),
seems to be in favor of closer ties to Moscow, which is against NATO expansion.
-- Stan Markotich
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave