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Newsline - July 8, 1996

Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, in a speech to the Duma on 5 July, attacked former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev for allowing "massive criminal embezzlement in the armed forces" and accused five top generals of corruption, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rokhlin, who commanded the Russian assault on Grozny in January 1995, said his findings were based on the results of an investigation by the Accounting Chamber into a Moskovskii komsomolets report on corruption in housing construction for the military. Rokhlin accused Defense Ministry Inspector Gen. Konstantin Kobets of turning a blind eye to shady dealings by the Lyukon construction company, of which Kobets' son was said to be a cofounder, and alleged that Vasilii Vorobev, former head of the ministry's main budget and finance department, had illegally transferred huge sums abroad. The other generals implicated by Rokhlin were Grachev's brother-in-law Col.-Gen. Dmitrii Kharchenko, Col.-Gen. Vyacheslav Zherebtsov, and Col.-Gen. Vladimir Churanov. Rokhlin also laid out his allegations in an article in Dom i Otechestvo, No 17. -- Penny Morvant

In the same speech, Rokhlin proposed appointing Gen. Igor Rodionov as Russia's new defense minister. Rodionov's candidacy has been supported by Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed. Rokhlin also backed Lebed's call for more powers over the defense and security establishment, advocating the creation of a Military Council under the jurisdiction of the Security Council that would be in charge of all bodies responsible for defense and security. Several observers have contended that the timing of Rokhlin's speech was linked to the debate over the appointment of the new defense minister, arguing that his aim was to support Rodionov and discredit Kobets, another possible candidate for the post, NTV reported. -- Penny Morvant

Following Rokhlin's accusations, the Duma adopted a resolution demanding a legal investigation of the abuses. The deputies instructed the Accounting Chamber to audit the Military Insurance Company and the Rosvooruzhenie military exporter, two firms linked by Rokhlin to shady deals. ITAR-TASS on 5 July quoted an unnamed member of the military procurator's office as saying that 428 officers faced criminal charges in 1995. Kobets said the allegations were without foundation and had only one goal--to discredit candidates for the post of defense minister. He denied that his son had any connection with the Lyukon company, Ekho Moskvy reported. Vorobev also said the accusations were groundless and had already been investigated on more than one occasion. He announced his intention to sue Rokhlin. -- Penny Morvant

Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed told ITAR-TASS on 6 July that while Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has the overall responsibility for forming a new government, appointments to the "bloc of power ministries should be agreed with me." Lebed denied widespread media reports that he and Chernomyrdin are now engaged in a struggle for influence over the composition of the new government, saying "there are no contradictions" between himself and the Prime Minister. "Each has his own affairs, everything is normal," he declared. Speaking after an inspection of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Lebed also responded angrily to the announcement on 5 July by Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev that his ministry will "strictly monitor" the Security Council's activity. Lebed said he would be "accountable" like all other ministers, and derisively attributed Russia's problems to an excess of "bosses and supervisors." -- Scott Parrish

The Duma on 5 July approved a draft law banning fascism in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill instructed the Interior Ministry to warn all groups engaged in such activities and bring legal action against repeat offenders. Yeltsin issued a similar decree on 23 March 1995 in an attempt to crackdown on fascist groups on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. That measure had little visible effect. -- Robert Orttung

Analytical programs broadcast on 7 July on state-run RTR and the private network NTV devoted considerable time to reviewing the election results, Yeltsin's successful campaign strategy, the likely composition of the new cabinet, and Yeltsin's priorities for his second term. However, in reviewing the week's events, neither RTR's "Zerkalo" nor NTV's "Itogi" discussed the continuing questions concerning the president's health, or the fact that their networks' television cameras were not allowed to film Yeltsin voting on 3 July. NTV avoided the issue altogether, while RTR's Nikolai Svanidze only hinted that since Yeltsin first took office, he "has not become healthier" and must now "reconcile his political temperament with his actual physical capacities." -- Laura Belin in Moscow

On 6 July, Izvestiya summarized a confidential letter President Yeltsin sent to his American counterpart Bill Clinton in an attempt to influence Clinton's stance during his 25 June meeting with the three Baltic presidents. Written in a "harsh" tone, the letter appealed to Clinton to reverse American "indifference" to the situation of the Russian minorities in Estonia and Latvia and pressure Riga and Tallin to take a more "objective" approach to the issue. The letter also reiterated Russia's "categorical" rejection of even "the hypothetical possibility" of NATO membership for the Baltics, but supported their joining the EU. The paper speculated that Yeltsin's letter may have had some impact, since Clinton disappointed the Baltic presidents with only vague assurances about NATO membership, and also made a token reference to the minority issue. -- Scott Parrish

Speaking during a reception at the North Korean embassy marking the 35th anniversary of the signing of the 1961 Soviet-North Korean Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov said the treaty had "fulfilled its historic role" and should be replaced, Russian and Western agencies reported on 6 July. Russia unilaterally renounced the defense assistance clauses of the treaty in 1993, and last year informed Pyongyang that it would not renew the treaty, which expires this September. Panov said that although Moscow has submitted the draft of a new treaty without a military assistance clause to Pyongyang, it has received no response yet. He added that Moscow hopes to build equally good relations with both North and South Korea. -- Scott Parrish

Russian forces renewed artillery bombardment of villages in south-east Chechnya on 7 July amid mutual accusations of non-compliance with the peace agreements of 27 May and 10 June, Russian and Western media reported. A spokesman for Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov said that the Russian forces had failed to remove roadblocks in places outside Chechen towns and villages or to close filtration camps by the 7 July deadline, according to AFP; the Russians accuse the Chechens of continuing attacks on Russian forces. Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's personal representative for Chechnya, Sergei Drogush, travelled to Grozny on 6 July to prepare for a visit by Lebed himself. Lebed was quoted by ITAR-TASS as stating that he would meet with Chechen opposition representatives only if asked to do so by pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev. Radio Rossii quoted Zavgaev on 7 July as stating that he is prepared to begin peace negotiations with acting Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. -- Liz Fuller

President Boris Yeltsin has replaced Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov as the commander of federal troops in Chechnya, Russian TV reported on 7 July. The information was said to have come from the command headquarters in Grozny. Tikhomirov's replacement was said to be Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskiy, the deputy commander of the North Caucasus Military District. Tikhomirov, with the reputation of a hardliner, saw little hope in a negotiated settlement of the conflict. The previous day he was quoted by Radio Russia as saying attempts to hold a constructive dialogue with the "bandits" were fruitless. -- Doug Clarke

Speaking at the Carnegie Foundation in Moscow on 6 July, Washington-based economist Anders Aslund said he does not believe that an economic crash will occur in Russia later this year. Aslund said that pre-election spending promises were lower than many reports suggest, and that "inflationary budgets are a thing of the past." In contrast, Mikhail Delyagin argued in the 5 July edition of Izvestiya that some sort of financial crisis is inevitable, given that in April the federal budget deficit reached 7.1% of GDP, roughly double the limit allowed in the agreement between Russia and IMF. -- Laura Belin in Moscow and Peter Rutland

The Duma on 6 July passed a bill making artworks transported from Germany to the Soviet Union during World War II the legal property of the Russian Federation, international agencies reported. The draft must be approved by President Yeltsin and the Federation Council before it becomes law. Negotiations between Germany and Russia over so-called trophy art have been deadlocked for the past two years. Russian officials argue that the 200,000 or so artworks and 2 million books seized by Soviet troops are just compensation for the massive cultural losses the USSR sustained during the war. Germany, however, demands that Russia abide by international law, which prohibits the seizure of national art treasures. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told a German weekly on 7 July that if Russia pressed ahead with its "unilateral action," Russian-German relations would suffer. -- Jan Cleave

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has recommended to the Security Council that the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Abkhazia (UNOMIG), which is due to expire this month, be renewed until January, 1997, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 July. The head of the UN mission, Liviu Bota, informed the secessionist Abkhaz leadership on 5 July that Georgia is ready to renew talks on future relations between Abkhazia and the leadership in Tbilisi, and handed over a message on the resumption of talks from Boutros-Ghali's special envoy for Abkhazia, Eduard Brunner. On 6 July, an OSCE mission called for an international investigation into grave human rights violations in Abkhazia including what it termed a campaign of genocide against ethnic Georgians, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

China and Kazakhstan signed a joint declaration on bilateral cooperation and friendship following a three-day official visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Western, Russian and Chinese media reported on 4 and 5 July. Both countries pledged to begin the boundary demarcation process in the spirit of the Shanghai agreement of this April, conclude a treaty on mutual reduction of border troops, and expand trade. China promised a moratorium on nuclear testing in September. Russian Radio reported on 5 July that Kazakhstan's security officials prevented Uighur separatists and anti-nuclear activists from staging protests. -- Bhavna Dave

Before arriving in Almaty, President Jiang Zemin signed a series of agreements with Kyrgyzstan on 4 July, concluding a two-day visit to Bishkek, Chinese and Western media reported. Five agreements on bilateral cooperation in civil and legal affairs, air transport, customs, meteorological technology and banking were signed. China also offered 3 million yuan ($370,000) aid in goods to Kyrgyzstan. Both countries have concluded a demarcation of all but one mountain portion of the state border between the two countries, Xinhua reported on 4 July. -- Bhavna Dave

After days of fierce fighting, both sides claim to be in possession of the strategic city of Tavil Dara, Western and Russian media reported. On 5 July, Tajik Presidential Spokesman Zafar Saidov acknowledged that not only were government troops in control of the city, but had moved 2-3 kms eastward. In addition, at least 10 other villages had been retaken in fighting that resumed in late June. Ali Akbar Turajonzoda of the National Islamic Movement denied these claims, noting that the government attack had been repulsed after sustaining heavy casualties, AFP reported on 6 July. Opposition sources claim that Tavil Dara, which they have controlled since 12 May, is still firmly in their possession. Meanwhile, the latest round of inter-Tajik peace talks resumed on 8 July in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov will attend the talks. -- Roger Kangas

Boris Shikhmuradov, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Vahan Papazyan concluded a two-day meeting in Ashgabat on 4 July at which they signed several long-term cooperation accords, Western and Iranian sources reported. At the center of the agreements is a three-way barter trade that would send Turkmen gas to Armenia, Armenian rubber and light bulbs to Iran, and "unspecified goods and services" from Iran to Turkmenistan, with each shipment estimated at $20 million, Reuters reported on 5 July. Equally important is the commitment on the part of the three foreign ministers to continue working together on issues of regional concern. The ministers will meet again in six months' time in Yerevan. -- Roger Kangas

Following the adoption of a new constitution that demands a new government within three months, Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and his cabinet resigned on 5 July, international agencies reported. President Leonid Kuchma accepted the resignations, and asked Lazarenko's government to act as caretaker until a new government is named. Kuchma said he plans to reappoint Lazarenko. Under the constitution, parliament must approve that appointment, but the left-wing majority is demanding several portfolios in exchange for backing Lazarenko. The constitution also stipulates that government officials cannot hold parliamentary seats. -- Ustina Markus

Russian investors sent about $2 billion to Ukraine during the Russian election campaign, said a National Bank of Ukraine official, Radio Mayak reported on 5 July. Most of the money was invested in bonds. Since Boris Yeltsin has been reelected president of Russia, the bank expects much of that investment to be reinvested in Russia. -- Ustina Markus

Belarus lost its right to vote in the Council of Europe because it failed to pay its dues, Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 July. Belarus has not paid dues in nine months, and on 1 June its debts to the council stood at some $10 million. -- Ustina Markus

Russia and Belarus are negotiating a new schedule for the withdrawal of the 18 nuclear missiles remaining in Belarus, Radio Rossii reported on 6 July. According to the schedule confirmed by Russia's and Belarus's defense ministers in December 1995, all nuclear missiles were to have been removed from Belarus by June 1. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka suspended that withdrawal because of financial difficulties. Belarusian officials assured Moscow they will abide by their disarmament obligations this year, but they want compensation for valuable materials in the missiles. -- Ustina Markus

Six deputies who left the Popular Movement for Latvia (TKL) faction on 18 June set up on 4 July a new faction, For People and Justice, BNS reported. Gunta Gannusa was elected head and Janis Strods her deputy. Members of the new faction want to represent the Christian People's Party, the former Popular Front of Latvia. The faction will support government reforms, but it is unclear whether it will formally join the ruling coalition. The coalition now has nine factions and eight independent deputies. -- Saulius Girnius

Polish authorities and Jewish leaders on 7 July commemorated the 50th anniversary of the "Kielce pogrom." At least 42 Jews, survivors of Nazi extermination, were killed on 4 July 1946 by a mob that included military and militiamen in the southern Polish town. At the ceremony, Kielce Mayor Boguslaw Ciesielski said, "I can do only one thing, ask for forgiveness." Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said Poles need to "work toward true Polish-Jewish brotherhood." -- Jakub Karpinski

The Sejm adopted on 3 July a motion to delay ratification of the concordat with the Holy See until a new constitution is adopted. Hanna Suchocka's centrist government in July 1993 signed the concordat, which was criticized by the leftist politicians ruling Poland since fall of 1993. Also, the Sejm sent to commission on 5 July four drafts of lustration laws that would require candidates for high government offices to be screened for cooperation with the former communist secret services, Polish dailies reported on 6 July. -- Jakub Karpinski

The wife of the U.S. president arrived in Prague on 3 July for a four-day visit. She met with Czech officials and representatives of the non-profit sector and educational and health care institutions, Czech media reported. In a 4 July speech at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Clinton spoke about newly emerging democracies in Eastern Europe. "Improving democracy is a never-ending task, as my own country knows well," she said. Clinton said Americans can learn about the price of freedom from East European countries and can share their experiences. -- Jiri Pehe

The parliament on 3 July reapproved a law on Slovakia's territorial division, overriding a veto by President Michal Kovac, Slovak media reported. The law divides the country into eight regions and 79 districts. Before the vote, Kovac addressed the parliament, objecting to the reduction of Bratislava's independent status and calling for a delay in the law's implementation. Opposition deputies said the reform will cost much more than government estimates and that the law is the first step to changing the electoral system from a proportional to a majority one. On 4 July, the parliament approved a bill outlining powers of the new regions and districts. Also on 4 July, Foreign Ministry spokesman Juraj Matejovsky announced the recall of Slovakia's ambassador to Britain and Ireland, Jan Vilikovsky. -- Sharon Fisher

During a half-day visit to Slovakia on 6 July, Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeline Albright criticized the Slovak government and said the country is not yet ready for integration into Western structures, Slovak and international media reported. Clinton said that for a democracy and a free market economy "to blossom fully," there must be certain conditions, including respect for the rule of law, a free press, an independent judiciary, and respect for minorities. Clinton and Albright met with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, President Michal Kovac, and Bratislava Mayor Peter Kresanek. -- Sharon Fisher

The parliament on 3 July amended the screening law that requires investigating public officials who have taken oaths before parliament or the president, Hungarian media reported. The law calls for screening about 600 persons--including all deputies, the president, government members, ombudsmen, members of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, and president and vice-presidents of Hungarian Radio and Hungarian Television--for working with the secret police. Except for a few provisions, it will expire on 30 June 2000. If the supervisory committee finds that a person cooperated with the secret service, that person will be exposed if they do not resign within 30 days. The original law, passed two years ago, was repealed by the constitutional court for being too vague. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

The Hungarian cabinet and representatives of Jewish organizations on 3 July agreed to create a "Hungarian Jewish Heritage Foundation" to compensate for property confiscated from Jews during World War II, Hungarian dailies reported. The foundation will be headed by a board of directors, to include Jewish leaders, government officials, and independent members. The foundation will manage assets, including real estate and valuables, as well as 4 billion forints ($26 million) in compensation coupons contributed by the government. Life annuities will be paid to needy Holocaust survivors. The issue will be put on the parliament's agenda this fall. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

The U.S. first lady spent two days in Budapest, where she met with Prime Minister Gyula Horn and other top officials, Hungarian dailies reported on 8 July. Clinton discussed human and minority rights with Horn and stressed the importance of cooperation between Hungary and the U.S. in the Balkan peace settlement. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

The EU administration on 7 July declared 30 June's elections valid, Reuters reported. Earlier, the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) had called for a re-run in Bonn, where there were 26 more votes than voters. East Mostar's Muslim mayor Safet Orucevic demanded that Bonn's 4,000 votes should count--EU-appointed city ombudsman Constantine Zepos agreed. The HDZ won almost 26,000 votes in Mostar and the Muslim-dominated List for a United Mostar received some 22,300 votes. The foreign returns, however, gave about 6,000 votes to the Muslims, compared to 744 for the HDZ. That tilts the balance of the city council in favor of the List for a United Mostar, which will gain at least 19 out of 37 seats. The HDZ on 8 July appeared to be blocking the publication of the election results, holding up the city council's first meeting. -- Fabian Schmidt

Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic will not be the governing Serbian Democratic Party's (SDS) candidate in the September elections, Nasa Borba reported on 5 July. He will, however, remain SDS head. The candidate will be Karadzic's loyal deputy Biljana Plavsic, so Karadzic is expected to retain control of the government of the Republika Srpska. Plavsic, who just visited Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, will face six candidates, Nasa Borba reported on 8 July. In the Croat-Muslim federation, federal President Kresimir Zubak will run on behalf of the Croatian Democratic Community, while Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic will head the list for his Party of Democratic Action. -- Patrick Moore

Finnish forensic experts ignored Bosnian Serb police and recovered nine bodies near Srebrenica, the International Herald Tribune reported on 6 July (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 July 1996). Investigators from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia began exhuming suspected mass graves in the area on 8 July. They hope to determine whether the Muslim men died in fighting, as the Serbs claim, or were victims of the largest war atrocity in Europe since World War II, as the Bosnian government argues. In the Hague, hearings against Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic are ending. On 6 July, a witness said he saw Mladic at the Srebrenica killings, the BBC reported. -- Patrick Moore

The Clinton administration says all foreign Islamic fighters have left Bosnia-Herzegovina, but on 7 July The Washington Post reported that several hundred remain. The Dayton agreement says all foreign troops were to leave in January--but many Iranians and other foreigners remain in central Bosnia. Some obtained Bosnian citizenship through forced marriages, seized homes and apartments, and the fighters constitute a paramilitary guard for Izetbegovic's Party of Democratic Action, the Post reported. The paper linked CIA director John Deutch's unpublicized visit to Bosnia on 5 July to Washington's concern about a possible threat to U.S. forces in the wake of the terrorist attack on a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia. It is not clear if the publicity will affect U.S. plans to train the Bosnian army, which is contingent on the foreigners' leaving. -- Patrick Moore

Bosnian Serb troops removed heavy guns from a NATO-approved collection point near the Serbs' military headquarters at Han Pijesak on 5 July. IFOR then sent 250 ground troops, plus 20 aircraft and attack helicopters to back up its demand that the Serbs put back the weapons. The Serbs for the first time threatened to shoot down IFOR helicopters, AFP reported on 7 July. IFOR's commander, Adm. Leighton Smith, telephoned Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. On 6 July, villagers jostled U.S. soldiers, thinking soldiers had come to arrest Mladic, the BBC reported. Later that day, the Serbs withdrew their weapons and IFOR left the area. One of the key lessons in the conflict that the international community often forgets is that firmness and a clear willingness to use force brings compliance. -- Patrick Moore

Slobodan Milosevic on 7 July presided over the opening of Yugoslavija 3 (YU 3)--rump Yugoslavia's newest satellite ground station--which will enable direct telecommunications with 15 European countries, Nasa Borba reported. The facility, which is in Prilike in central Serbia, is equipped with 960 channels. YU 3 will have television links to the Eutelsat and Intelsat networks, Reuters reported. Construction on YU 3 began in March 1992 with the help of Japan's NEC, but was suspended within three months because of international sanctions against Belgrade for its role in prompting the Bosnian war. -- Stan Markotich

More than 10,000 ethnic Albanians rallied in Tetovo on 4 July against the jailing of Fadil Sulejmani, the dean of Tetovo University, Reuters reported. Sulejmani is due to begin serving a one-year sentence, convicted for incitement after demonstrations in 1995. Demonstrators demanded the university's legalization and its integration into the Macedonian education system. Meanwhile, Canada recognized Macedonia under its provisional name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and proposed diplomatic ties. Also, a NATO delegation arrived in Skopje on 3 July for talks about conditions for Macedonia's NATO membership. -- Fabian Schmidt

Janez Drnovsek said on 5 July his government would support changes to the constitution that would enable foreigners to own real estate in Slovenia. He said the move is necessary "because it is a precondition for Slovenia's full membership in the EU," Reuters reported. Drnovsek rebuffed suggestions from conservative opponents who say the constitution should only be changed through a national referendum. He said a referendum would send a "catastrophic signal" and could signal that Slovenia is not prepared to abide by EU regulations. In a separate development, Drnovsek on 5 July proposed a replacement for foreign minister Zoran Thaler: economics professor Davorin Kracun. -- Stan Markotich

Ion Iliescu on 5-6 July paid an official visit to neighboring Moldova, Moldovan and Western media reported. He discussed with his Moldovan counterpart Mircea Snegur, Premier Andrei Sangheli, and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi ways to boost bilateral cooperation. On 5 July, Iliescu addressed the parliament and met with its leaders. A joint communique mentioned the "strategic goal of economic integration." Western media noticed that Iliescu avoided reference to any possible unification. Iliescu said any attempt to "re-shape existing borders" was "unrealistic and unrealizable." The two sides signed an agreement on judicial assistance. -- Dan Ionescu

The ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) on 6 July nominated Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli as its candidate in the November presidential elections, Infotag reported. The nomination was announced at the party's third nationwide congress. Larisa Iachim, a member of the PDAM parliamentary faction, warned that "left-centrist forces" could find themselves divided between Sangheli's supporters and those backing Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi. She asked the PDAM to support Lucinschi. But PDAM Chairman Dumitru Motpan defended Sangheli, saying more division within the faction could lead to early parliamentary elections--which would not be in the party's interest. -- Dan Ionescu

Foreign ministers and other top diplomats of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and rump Yugoslavia, as well as international representatives met at a two-day conference in Sofia on 6-7 July, Bulgarian and Western media reported. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia representatives observed. The Macedonian delegation left before the opening to protest that--on Greece's insistence--it was to participate under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The participants agreed to strengthen economic cooperation, fight organized crime and terrorism, and enhance security measures. They adopted a declaration on stability, security, and cooperation in the Balkans. The Bulgarians stressed that the implementation of the Dayton agreement is a precondition for regional stability. Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Arian Starova said rising tension in Kosovo is a danger to stability. -- Stefan Krause

A dissident group within the Bulgarian Orthodox Church on 3 July elected Metropolitan Pimen as the new patriarch and the next day enthroned him, Western media reported. That cements the split between followers and adversaries of Patriarch Maksim, who has headed the officially recognized church since 1971. Clergy opposed to Maksim's politics of compromise with the former communist regime accused him of collaborating with the secret police. They also argue that he was appointed but not elected. Pimen's followers established a rival synod in 1992. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov called Pimen's election "deeply anti-Bulgarian" and said the government recognizes Maksim as the head of the only legitimate Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Holy Synod said it will sue Pimen's followers. -- Stefan Krause

Sali Berisha on 6 July asked Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi to form a new government, Reuters reported. Meksi was nominated by the Democratic Party, which won 122 out of 140 parliamentary seats in May's disputed elections. Meksi said he was considering offering cabinet posts to opposition parties. Only the Republicans, the Balli Kombetar, and the ethnic Greek human Rights party--which hold eight seats in the legislature--may join a coalition with the Democrats, who hold a two-thirds majority. The Socialist Party says it will boycott the parliament and demands new elections. Democrat leader Tritan Shehu suggested his party may hold informal talks with the Socialist leadership. Meanwhile, legislators from OSCE member states are debating a recommendation that Albania hold new general elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

The defense minister and chief of staff on 5 July inspected an Albanian peace-keeping company that will soon join IFOR in Bosnia, ATA reported. The company is to leave for Germany on 8 July for some additional training and then will become part of the German contingent in IFOR. -- Doug Clarke

[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Maura Griffin Solovar