RODIONOV PLEDGES TO FIGHT CORRUPTION IN MILITARY.
Defense Minister Igor Rodionov met with the top leadership of the armed forces
in Moscow on 22 July, Russian media reported. Rodionov told the assembled
generals and admirals that reform of the Russian military is an "urgent
necessity," which will be "carried out immediately," according to ITAR-TASS. In
a thinly-veiled criticism of his predecessor Pavel Grachev, Rodionov argued
that "any instances of corruption" among the leadership of the armed forces
will "be decisively combated." He also said that his cadres policy would
advance "independent" officers of "irreproachable reputation." -- Scott
TsIK UPDATES ELECTION RETURNS.
The Central Electoral Commission updated
the 16 June election results because 14 regions and republics made "technical
mistakes" in calculating the results, ITAR-TASS reported on19 July. Dagestan
was the only republic to make mistakes in the 3 July vote counting. As a result
of the change in the runoff vote, Yeltsin's total dropped about 4,500 votes and
Zyuganov's 11,000. The Central Electoral Commission punished the chairman of
the Dagestan electoral commission only by reducing the size of his bonus,
Izvestiya reported on 23 July. -- Robert Orttung
CHERNOMYRDIN, LEBED MEET.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed met for more than an hour on 22 July
in what is expected to become a regular occurrence, Kommersant-Daily
reported. The paper described the meeting as one between "two powerful
political forces" involved in a Byzantine struggle for influence within
Yeltsin's inner circle. The meeting focused on crime, corruption, Chechnya, and
the problem of financing military reform. The topics suggest that Lebed will
not be able to expand his power to cover economic questions as he had initially
sought to do. The paper described the relationship between the two leaders of
the competing factions as on a "normal and even fairly constructive track." --
YELTSIN VETOES LAW ON FASCISM.
President Boris Yeltsin vetoed a proposed
law banning fascism, describing it as vague, and called on the Duma to develop
a legal mechanism to fight any form of extremism, ITAR-TASS reported on 22
July. Yeltsin noted that the Constitution and the laws on the mass media,
social organizations, and the criminal code already regulate this issue.
Similar charges were leveled against Yeltsin's own 23 March 1995 anti-fascism
decree, Ekho Moskvy pointed out. The radio suggested that Yeltsin's proposal
could play a role in developing an anti-communist majority in the Duma. --
NEW KRASNODAR GOVERNOR TO FACE COMMUNIST CANDIDATE.
Nikolai Yegorov, who
was appointed Krasnodar Krai Governor after his 15 July dismissal as
presidential administration head, will face Communist Party candidate Nikolai
Kondratenko in the October gubernatorial election, Russian TV (RTR) reported on
22 July. Kondratenko, the Soviet-era Krasnodar executive committee chairman and
a presidential election campaign aide to Gennadii Zyuganov, has been one of the
most popular politicians in the region. Yegorov, whose dismissal was reportedly
related to his failure to build strong support for Yeltsin in Russia's southern
regions, announced his wish to stand for election two days after his new
appointment. -- Anna Paretskaya
CHECHENS ABJURE TERRORIST ACTS IN RUSSIA.
Akhmed Zakaev, a former
Chechen field commander who is now national security aide to acting President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, told ITAR-TASS on 22 July that the Chechen forces would
not launch any more terrorist attacks on Russian territory. The spokesman for
the Russian state commission on resolving the Chechen conflict, Sergei
Slipchenko, argued that discrepancies between Chechen spokesman Movladi
Udugov's claim that the various field commanders are subordinate to Yandarbiev
and the statement by Salman Raduev that he rejects the Nazran peace agreement
and will continue combat operations demonstrate serious rifts within the
Chechen leadership. Pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev plans to
abolish the position, currently occupied by Nikolai Fedosov, of Russian
government envoy to Chechnya. Bad weather on 22 July halted Russian attacks on
the village of Shatoi. -- Liz Fuller
RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS WILL NOT ARREST KARADZIC.
Podkolzin, commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, announced on 22 July that
Russian contingent in IFOR will not participate in any operation to arrest
former Bosnian Serb President and internationally-wanted war criminal Radovan
Karadzic, Russian and Western agencies reported. Podkolzin said the Russian
peacekeepers had not received any orders to participate in Karadzic's arrest
from IFOR's command. However, Podlozkin added that if the Russian peacekeepers
did receive such an order he would countermand it. Moscow has repeatedly
accused the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which
indicted Karadzic, of anti-Serb bias, and argues that the Bosnian Serb leader's
arrest would hinder the establishment of a stable peace in Bosnia. -- Scott
DEPUTY: RUSSIA NEEDS FOREIGN ASSISTANCE TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS.
Nikolai Bezborodov, deputy chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, said
that Russia will need significant financial assistance to destroy its stock of
some 40,000 tons of chemical weapons, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July. He was
commenting on the latest session of the Preparatory Commission for the
Establishment of an Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
in the Hague, which is reviewing progress toward implementing the 1993 Chemical
Weapons Convention. Bezborodov said Russia would need 17 trillion rubles ($3.3
billion) to liquidate its chemical weapons stockpile, adding: "I think we will
not manage without serious foreign aid." Russia has still not ratified the
convention, and Bezborodov said it would not do so until after the "material,
legislative, and other preconditions for its implementation are in place." --
PRIMAKOV MEETS JAPANESE, INDIAN COUNTERPARTS.
On the eve of the
scheduled 23 July ASEAN Regional Security Forum, Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov held separate meetings in Jakarta with Japanese Foreign
Minister Yukihiko Ikeda and Indian Minister of External Affairs Inder Kumal
Gujral, Russian agencies reported on 22 July. Primakov said that he and Ikeda
had a "substantive" discussion of bilateral issues, agreeing that the Russian
diplomat will visit Japan this November. Primakov said that while the issue of
the disputed southern Kuril islands was not directly addressed, the two
ministers agreed to push forward with ongoing talks on fishing rights in the
waters around them. Primakov and Gujral discussed the situation in Afghanistan
and Central Asia. Primakov admitted that India and Russia continue to disagree
over the terms of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. -- Scott Parrish
VODKA RESTRICTIONS INTRODUCED IN MOSCOW.
The Moscow city government has
banned the sale of vodka and other strong spirits near schools, churches,
hospitals, metro and railway stations, and airports, ITAR-TASS and AFP
reported. Under the new regulation, shops will no longer be allowed to trade
vodka if they are located within 150 meters of schools, churches, child care
institutions, and hospitals; for kiosks, the distance is 500 meters from these
sites. Sale of drinks containing more than 12% alcohol will be also prohibited
within 200 meters of entrances to metro and railway stations and airports.
Russia is said to have the highest hard alcohol consumption in the world, with
14 liters consumed per head of the population in 1992, according to AFP. --
JOURNALISTS' RIGHTS VIOLATED, 14 KILLED, IN CIS.
were killed in the CIS countries in 1996, Russian media reported, quoting the
head of the Glasnost Defense Foundation Monitoring Group, Oleg Panfilov.
Tajikistan and Chechnya remain the most dangerous regions: 41 and 18 reporters,
respectively, have been killed there since the beginning of military conflicts.
Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan, Crimea, and the Transdniester region of Moldova,
are the worst countries regarding violations of journalists' rights, according
to Panfilov. He also pointed out violations of media rights in Tatarstan, where
a June presidential decree forbids publishing information and statements
insulting the republican president and other state employees. -- Anna
HIV INFECTIONS INCREASE.
Twice as many instances of HIV infections were
reported in Russia during the first six months of 1996 as in the same period of
1995, according to Vadim Pokrovskii, the director of the Russian Center for the
Battle with AIDS, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 June. There have been 1,269
registered cases of HIV infection in the country overall since 1987, Ekspress
Khronika reported. The cities with the greatest number of infections are
Nizhnii Novgorod, Krasnodar, Saratov, Tyumen, and Kaliningrad. Drug users are
the main means for spreading the disease. Without a public education campaign,
experts fear that there will be as many as 100,000 cases by the year 2000. --
PROTESTS AT ST. PETERSBURG NUCLEAR PLANT.
Workers at the Leningradskaya
nuclear power plant in St. Petersburg resumed protest action on 22 July,
Izvestiya reported. Their demands include the payment of 25 billion
rubles ($5 million) in wage arrears. The trade union committee said that the
protests will not affect the plant's security, since the action takes place
after working hours in the station's conference hall. One of the protesters'
demands has already been met: ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July that the plant's
director, Anatolii Yerepin, had resigned. -- Natalia Gurushina
IMF DELAYS PAYMENTS TO RUSSIA.
The IMF will delay payment of the next
$330 million monthly installment of its $10.1 billion loan to Russia, the
New York Times reported on 23 July, according to Reuters. The reason is
the worrying slump in tax receipts, which in June were only 58% of the planned
level, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 22 July. This problem has been known
for months, but the IMF delayed action until after the presidential elections.
The precise conditions of the IMF loan have not been made public, and there
seems to be disagreement between the IMF and the Russian government over how to
classify certain types of spending and receipts. Nezavisimaya Gazeta
reported on 19 July that in April and May to finance pre-election spending the
Central Bank sold $4.4 billion from its hard currency reserves, which now stand
at $4.3 billion -- $300 million less than the minimum specified by the IMF. --
GOVERNMENT TO BUY CONTROLLING INTEREST IN AGROPROMBANK.
Yeltsin has signed a decree returning Agroprombank to state ownership,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 23 July. The bank will now be termed the
National Credit and Financial System for Agricultural Producers. Ninety percent
of the bank's funds came from state-allotted credits for the farm sector, most
of which were never repaid. The bank was on the brink of bankruptcy, and a
shareholders' meeting in April 1996 called for the state to acquire a 51%
stake. Agroprombank's effective renationalization represents a step back
towards the administrative system in agriculture and is likely to put
additional pressure on the budget. -- Natalia Gurushina
COMPROMISE REACHED ON RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS IN ABKHAZIA.
At the ongoing
quadripartite talks in Moscow on a political settlement of the Abkhaz conflict,
agreement was reached on 22 July on broadening the mandate (which expired on 19
July) of the Russian peacekeeping forces now deployed there, ITAR-TASS
reported. Russian troops stationed in Gali raion, to which tens of thousands of
ethnic Georgian refugees aspire to return, will be granted police powers to
enable them to protect Georgian repatriants against possible reprisals by
Abkhaz militants. In his traditional Monday radio interview Georgian President
Eduard Shevardnadze proposed that future relations between the Georgian
government in Tbilisi and the Abkhaz leadership in Sukhumi should be modeled on
the draft agreement on relations between Moscow and Chechnya, Western agencies
reported. ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July that three people have been killed in
the past few days in a series of bomb explosions in Abkhazia's Ochamchire
raion. -- Liz Fuller
FIFTH ROUND OF INTER-TAJIK TALKS ENDS.
The fifth round of negotiations
in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan between the Tajik government and the United Tajik
Opposition (UTO) has adjourned, ITAR-TASS and ORT reported on 22 July. The two
sides agreed on an exchange of prisoners at the border city of Khorog sometime
before 20 August. Opposition leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, however, said the
UTO plans to hand over all remaining prisoners from the government forces
shortly after the official exchange in Khorog. The agreement on a cessation of
hostilities in the Tavil-Dara area receives its first test on 23 July. Under
the accord, a team of UN observers is to be permitted access to the Tavil-Dara
in order to fix the positions of each side at the time the ceasefire was
signed. No outsiders have had access to the region for months and the
opposition is already charging that government forces launched an offensive to
capture the area's regional center after the agreement was in effect. -- Bruce
ELECTRICITY NO LONGER FREE IN TURKMENISTAN.
Turkmen residents are now
required to pay for electricity used above a certain limit, according to a 12
July article in Turkmenistan, monitored by the BBC on 23 July. Since
independence in 1991, President Saparmurat Niyazov has declared electricity to
be free to domestic consumers. They will now be charged for using electricity
above the free limit at the rate used in industry. -- Bhavna Dave
CENTRAL EASTERN EUROPE
UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION PARTY WILL COOPERATE WITH GOVERNMENT.
nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) announced that it was no longer
satisfied with its role as an opposition party, and will observe the Ukrainian
constitution and cooperate with the government, UNIAN reported on 20 July. The
same day, deputy Oleh Vitovych was elected chairman of UNA. He said the party
was no longer thinking of its own survival, but of "victory in the political
struggle." The national democratic Rukh has reached final stage in its
collection of signatures to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine, according to
NTV. Some 3 million people have reportedly signed the petition. Under the new
constitution, only the Constitutional Court (which has not yet been formed) can
decide to dissolve the Communist Party. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES NEW CONSTITUTION.
Lukashenka said he would present a new economic program and a new constitution
to parliament in September, Reuters reported on 22 July. Lukashenka said he did
not expect parliament to accept the documents, in which case he would call a
referendum. His version of a new constitution envisages a bi-cameral parliament
and "real separation of powers." Deputy speaker Henadz Karpenka called the move
an "anti-constitutional coup," and urged a five-year moratorium on
constitutional changes. Lukashenka also criticized Russia for its unwillingness
to write off Belarus's $600 million gas debt. He said Russia has "behaved
indecently" since signing the customs union with Belarus. -- Ustina Markus
DECREES AND SENTENCING IN BELARUS.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
signed a decree on supporting small businesses, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July.
The support would be offered primarily to manufacturers, but also to businesses
working as intermediaries in services and trade. Businesses eligible for the
support would have to have paid their taxes in full. In other news, the leader
of the Belarusian Beer-Lovers' Party, Andrei Ramasheusky was sentenced to two
year's imprisonment for burning a new Belarusian Soviet-style flag, Belapan
reported on 19 July. The sentence was suspended, but Ramasheusky will
remain on probation for one year. He had been in custody since 29 April. --
CHAIRMAN OF ESTONIA FERRY INQUIRY COMMISSION RESIGNS.
Transportation and Communications Minister Andi Meister said on 22 July that he
was resigning for health reasons as the chairman of the three-nation commission
investigating the disaster involving the ferry Estonia, Western and Baltic
agencies reported. The ferry, which was traveling from Tallinn to Stockholm,
sank off the Finnish coast in September 1994 with the loss of 852 lives.
Meister charges that the Swedish Maritime Authority did not hand over
underwater videotapes of the sunken ferry that might reveal whether the
Estonian captain was on the ship's bridge when it sank. Swede Olof Forssberg,
however, denied the accusations, saying that such tapes did not exist. The
commission is expected to meet twice more before presenting its final report in
December. -- Saulius Girnius
GDANSK GOVERNOR REPLACED BY POLISH RULING PARTY.
Maciej Plazynski, chief
administrative officer of the Gdansk region, is to be replaced by a member of
the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the senior party in Poland's governing
coalition, Rzeczpospolita reported on 23 July. Plazynski's replacement
by SLD official Henryk Wojciechowski comes in the aftermath of the central
government's June decision to close the bankrupt Gdansk Shipyard, a historical
symbol of Poland's opposition to communism. Council of Ministers Secretary
Leszek Miller of the SLD--a descendant of Poland's Communist Party--recommended
the change. Plazynski had proposed an alternative plan in June to rescue the
Shipyards, but the Privatization Ministry in Warsaw rejected it. Plazynski's
removal is viewed by the political opposition as the most recent in a series of
steps by the SLD to "clean house" in the Gdansk region. -- Ben Slay
CZECH GOVERNMENT'S FATE UNCERTAIN BEFORE CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the strongest group in the minority coalition
government, declared on 22 July that it will decline an offer to form another
government if the parliament does not approve the government at the session
starting today. Czech media reported that the opposition Social Democrats have
not decided whether they will support the government. ODS Deputy Chairman Ivan
Pilip said on 20 July that his party may attempt to recall CSSD Chairman Milos
Zeman from the post of parliament chairman if the CSSD votes against the
government. He said Zeman was elected to the post with ODS support in exchange
for his promise to support the minority government led by Klaus. Another ODS
Deputy Chairman, Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, told journalists on 22 July
that he would not accept an offer to form a new government because such a step
is designed to split the ODS. Some CSSD leaders indicated that Zieleniec would
be more acceptable as prime minister than Klaus. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK COALITION PARTY TO INITIATE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES.
National Party (SNS) deputy chairwoman Anna Malikova on 22 July announced that
her party will initiate several measures dealing with the Hungarian minority,
Slovak media reported. Domestic measures include speeding up the passage of the
Penal Code amendment on the protection of the republic, the submission and
passage of a local election law "based on the proportional principal according
to nationality," and the reevaluation of constitutional articles 15 and 34.
Article 15 prohibits the death penalty, while Article 34 deals with ethnic
minority rights. Malikova said the latter should be changed to ensure that
minorities have not only "the right" but also the "obligation" to master the
state language. The SNS also wants to pass a law setting conditions for
erecting monuments in Slovakia. Concerning foreign policy, the SNS will soon
inform the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly about the "problematic
position of Slovakia's Hungarian minority." -- Sharon Fisher
CASE AGAINST TOP SLOVAK OFFICIALS DROPPED.
Police have dropped a case
against Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek and Slovak Information Service chief
Ivan Lexa, Slovak media reported on 22-23 July. Charges were filed against them
in May by Ivan Duris, chairman of the extraparliamentary Republican Party,
after a taped conversation demonstrated their interference in the police
investigation into last August's kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son.
The case against Hudek and Lexa was dropped since there was "no suspicion of
criminal activity." -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE.
Opposition Christian Democratic
parliamentary caucus leader Tamas Isepy and Zoltan Trombitas of the Young
Democrats on 22 July rejected the possibility of forming a coalition with the
ruling Socialist Party, Hungarian media reported. Both leaders said cooperation
with the Socialist Party is currently inconceivable since it is a communist
successor party. However, if the Socialists transform into a genuine social
democratic party, such a coalition could be possible, they said. They were
reacting to an interview with Socialist vice president Gyorgy Janosi the
previous day, when he said his party would welcome a coalition with the two
opposition parties after the 1998 parliamentary elections. Janosi criticized
the Socialists' current junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats, and
stressed that the two opposition parties' programs are closest to that of the
Socialists. The current government's austerity measures have hurt the ruling
parties' popularity as Hungary's short-term economic prospects remain
unfavorable. -- Sharon Fisher
U.S. TO KEEP UP PRESSURE ON KARADZIC.
Assistant Secretary of State John
Kornblum will return to Belgrade this weekend, he told the BBC on 22 July.
Kornblum's aim will be to convince Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that
Bosnian Serb civilian leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic must be
clearly "out of power, out of influence." The diplomat added that Karadzic will
have to leave Bosnia and eventually wind up in The Hague, and that the new
nominal Bosnian Serb leaders must be more cooperative with the international
community than Karadzic was. While in keeping with the Dayton agreement, this
goes well beyond the deal U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke clinched the previous
week. Washington may well be lucky to get Serbian cooperation in carrying out
Holbrooke's package, let alone getting Karadzic to The Hague. -- Patrick
BOSNIAN SERB ARMY WOULD NOT REACT TO KARADZIC'S ARREST?
Tolimir, deputy to Serb army chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, told NATO Commander
Michael Walker that the army has been indifferent to Radovan Karadzic's
replacement as the Republika Srpska (RS) president, and it would not react by
force if NATO attempts to arrest Karadzic, Nasa Borba reported on 23
July citing the London-based Times. The RS army delegation underscored
the fear that the Serb military would seek revenge for its former president's
capture has not been justified. -- Daria Sito Sucic
INVESTIGATION BEGINS AT LARGEST MASS GRAVE.
UN forensics and
archeological experts began exhuming a huge burial site at the Nova Kasaba
soccer field near Srebrenica on 22 July, Onasa stated. U.S. spy
satellite photos had shown large amounts of disturbed earth in the area where
survivors had reported mass executions a year ago. American diplomats said that
as many as 2,500 Muslim males might be buried there, Nasa Borba noted,
but the UN was reluctant to discuss figures at such an early stage. The experts
nonetheless discovered bodies at the site almost immediately, the BBC reported.
The soccer field could prove to be the largest mass grave in eastern Bosnia. --
BOSNIAN SERBS USE AID TO BLACKMAIL VOTERS.
UNHCR spokesman in Republika
Srpska (RS) reported the Serb authorities are using humanitarian aid to
blackmail voters to register in certain areas, Onasa reported on 22
July. Mans Nyberg warned that refugees from the Bosnian federation in the RS
will be deprived of their right to relief aid if they register to vote as
residents of their former towns. An unnamed UN official said documents seen by
UN workers indicated instructions for the policy had come from the ruling Serb
nationalist Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). The SDS policy is to create RS as a
Serb-only state, and votes cast in the places of refugees' former residency
would be wasted votes for the party. Nyberg said this abuse of aid for
political reasons was "scandalous and unacceptable," and if the practice was
not halted, "alternative means of distributing humanitarian assistance would be
adopted." -- Daria Sito Sucic
BOSNIAN CROATS BOYCOTT FIRST SESSION OF MOSTAR CITY COUNCIL.
from the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) did not participate in the
constituent session of the Mostar city council on 23 July, Reuters reported.
West Mostar Mayor Mile Puljic earlier warned that the Croats would "not accept
the final election results because they were not published by the local
electoral commission." The EU declared the elections valid after a continuing
Croat blockade in the electoral commission following minor voting
irregularities. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic criticized the HDZ's
boycott and appealed to Dick Spring, the chairman of the EU Council of
Ministers, to intervene, saying that it "blocks the entire process of the
democratic settlement of the crisis in Mostar." -- Fabian Schmidt
RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICER SENTENCED FOR SPYING.
Lt. Col. Nedeljko Varicak
has been sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment for allegedly spying for an
unspecified but "newly-formed neighboring state," Politika Ekspres
reported on 22 July. The daily described Varicek as a high-ranking security
officer operating near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the town of
Uzice. AFP reported, however, that officials in Belgrade have yet to confirm
the story. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIAN ELECTORAL UPDATE.
The Socialist Labor Party (PSM) on 22 July
announced that it has gathered the 100,000 signatures in support of Senator
Adrian Paunescu, its candidate in the November presidential elections, Radio
Bucharest announced on the same day. Paunescu, a former Ceausescu "court-poet,"
is the first candidate to have fulfilled this legal requirement. In other
developments, on 19 July the chairman of the Agrarian Democratic Party (PDAR),
Victor Surdu, told a press conference that his party's alliance with the Party
of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) has "practically ceased to exist" because the
PUNR has decided to run alone in the parliamentary elections, also scheduled
for November. In turn, PUNR chairman Gheorghe Funar said in an interview
published in the daily Cronica romana on 23 July that the alliance known
as the National Unity Bloc ended because the PUNR had proposed the merging of
its members (PUNR, PDAR and the Ecological Movement), but the PDAR "prefers a
perpetual affiance to a marriage." -- Michael Shafir
ROMANIA SEEKS TO MODERNIZE ITS ARMY.
Romania is seeking up to $ 400
million in loans to buy military technology needed to boost its NATO admission
chances, Reuters reported on 22 July, quoting a Defense Ministry press release.
The government has allowed the ministry to "prospect international markets" for
credits in order to finance projects ranging from weapon acquisition to
restructuring of its own arms industry. The statement said the loans would be
guaranteed by the Romanian government. -- Michael Shafir
CHISINAU-TIRASPOL TALKS POSTPONED.
The new round of talks between
Chisinau and Tiraspol, scheduled to take place on 23 July, has been
indefinitely postponed, according to a press release of the Moldovan presidency
cited by BASA-Press on 22 July. The statement said the postponement was due to
the vacation of "certain Moldovan and Transdniestrian officials" and to the
need to address unresolved social and economic problems. The postponement,
however, appears to fall in line with President Mircea Snegur's new tactics of
delaying the signing of the memorandum between the two conflicting sides.
Presidential advisor Victor Josu was quoted by Infotag on the same day as
saying that the idea of signing the memorandum on normalizing relations "has
lost its immediacy." Josu said the memorandum, as drafted, has many faults,
among them failure to mention the preservation of Moldovan territorial
integrity and was of "too general a character." -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION FORMATIONS CONCLUDE ALLIANCE.
Christian Democratic Popular Front, the main pro-Romanian political formation,
and the Alliance of Democratic Forces, an umbrella organization uniting six
political organizations, on 22 July signed an agreement on a political
alliance, Moldovan press agencies reported on the same day. The signatories
said the alliance reflected the groups' similar political platforms and their
rejection of the "anti-national, anti-social and anti-democratic policy" of the
Agrarian-Democratic Party of Moldova and its allies. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIA GETS ARMS FROM RUSSIA.
The first shipment of a total of 100
tanks and 100 armored vehicles that Russia agreed to give to Bulgaria in June
1995 arrived on 22 July, Reuters reported. Some 25 T-72 battle tanks and 50
BMP-1 combat vehicles were delivered to Varna, and Bulgaria in turn will
decommission an equal amount of older hardware. Under the CFE treaty, Russia
must either destroy the arms or give them away. Observers say the hardware is a
reward for the Bulgarian government's reluctance to apply for full NATO
membership. Under another agreement, Russia will also provide spare military
parts to repay part of its $100 million debt to Bulgaria. In other news, two
Interior Ministry officials and two policemen were arrested for illegal arms
trade. It is the first case in which Interior Ministry officials have been
charged with illegal trade of machine guns. -- Stefan Krause
PIRINSKI OUT OF BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE?
The Constitutional Court on
23 July will decide whether the presidential candidate of the Bulgarian
Socialist Party, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, fulfills the constitutional
requirement that the president must be Bulgarian by birth, Bulgarian newspapers
reported. Many dailies reported that the court will prevent Pirinski from
running. According to Kontinent, nine of the 12 judges maintain that
Pirinski does not fulfill the requirement because he was not a Bulgarian
citizen when he was born in New York in 1948 to a Bulgarian emigre. Some 54
opposition deputies had asked the court to clarify what the term "Bulgarian by
birth" means. A simple majority of the Constitutional Court judges in need to
rule on the case. -- Stefan Krause
MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS PROTEST AGAINST ARREST OF UNIVERSITY LEADERS.
Macedonian police on 22 July broke up a demonstration of some 2,000 ethnic
Albanians protesting against the jailing of Tetovo University Dean Fadil
Sulejmani and four other university activists, Reuters reported. According to
local radio, one police car was wrecked during clashes that broke out near
Tetovo prison but no injuries were reported. Sulejmani began serving his
18-month jail sentence the same day. Other, unconfirmed reports, suggest the
clashes erupted while police arrested Sulejmani, however. AFP reports that the
demonstrators dispersed after an appeal by Sulejmani, but vowed to take their
protest further to the U.S. embassy in Skopje, the OSCE and the UN. -- Fabian
ALBANIAN COMMUNIST ERA OFFICIALS SENTENCED FOR 1991 SHOOTING.
Communist-era Defense Minister Kico Mustaqi was sentenced to five years in
prison on charges of inciting cadets at the military academy to open fire on
demonstrators in 1991. Five people were killed and 37 wounded. The Tirana
court, led by Shyqyri Dylgjeri, also sentenced Ksenofon Ceni and Arseni Stroka,
two directors of the academy, to three and four years, respectively, on 19
July. All three fled Albania five years ago and were sentenced in absence,
Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt