YELTSIN: NO MAJOR CHANGES IN THE GOVERNMENT.
After meeting with Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 23 July, President Boris Yeltsin announced that
the changes in the personnel and structure of the government will be
"substantive" but not "major," ITAR-TASS reported. He said the government will
be trimmed but the number of power ministries will remain the same. Government
staff are now paralyzed with fear that their jobs will be eliminated, forcing
Chernomyrdin to set up ad hoc groups to carry out his orders, Segodnya
reported on 23 July. Additionally, the Duma has gone into summer recess just as
the discussion of the government's composition is entering its final phase,
demonstrating its lack of influence over questions of real power in Russia,
Nezavisimaya gazeta pointed out on 23 July. -- Robert Orttung
CHUBAIS TAKES OVER INAUGURATION PREPARATIONS.
Yeltsin named Presidential
Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais as chairman of the commission charged with
preparing the inauguration ceremony set for 9 August, ITAR-TASS reported on 23
July. The ceremony will include 3,000 guests, among them most of Russia's major
political and cultural leaders, representatives of Moscow's foreign diplomatic
corps, and the leaders of the CIS countries, Izvestiya reported on 24
July. -- Robert Orttung
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS CALL FOR LEFT-CENTER COALITION.
democratic parties called for negotiations to set up a left-center coalition,
ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. Yeltsin's attempts to set up a similar bloc
under then Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin failed last year. The initiators include
Rybkin's Socialist Party of Russia, Vasilii Lipitskii's Social Democratic
Union, Gavriil Popov's Russian Movement for Democratic Reform, Aleksandr
Yakovlev's Russian Party of Social Democracy, and Sergei Belozertsev's
Social-Democratic Party of Russia. All these groups backed President Yeltsin's
re-election except for Lipitskii's, which supported Mikhail Gorbachev. Social
democratic parties have had little electoral success on their own in recent
elections. -- Laura Belin and Robert Orttung
COMMUNISTS SAID TO HAVE SAVED MONEY FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS.
Zyuganov spent far less than the legal limit of 14.4 billion rubles ($2.9
million) on his presidential campaign, the anti-communist newspaper
Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 23 July. It said that, by economizing
on campaign trips and advertising in the regions, the Communist Party saved at
least 6 billion rubles ($1.2 million) "for a rainy day," which they will spend
on campaigns for the regional and local elections scheduled for later this
year. If several dozen "red governors" are elected this fall, the paper warned,
the Federation Council (parliament's upper house) could swing from a
pro-Yeltsin to a pro-Zyuganov orientation. The paper suggested that, to stave
off this threat, the president will soon begin replacing unpopular governors in
regions where Zyuganov outpolled Yeltsin in the presidential election. -- Laura
NDR TO CONTEST COMMUNISTS IN REGIONAL ELECTIONS.
The pro-government Our
Home Is Russia (NDR) bloc will challenge the Communist Party candidates in this
fall's elections to regional legislative and executive bodies and local
authorities, NDR executive committee head Vladimir Babichev announced. He said
that the movement should not allow Communists to take over the Federation
Council, Russian media reported on 23 July. Babichev suggested that NDR will
cooperate with all pro-reform organizations on fielding joint candidates for
the elections. From September to December this year, 50 governors, 32 regional
legislatures and 23 mayors of big cities should be elected. -- Anna
NEW KRASNODAR GOVERNOR RESHUFFLES ADMINISTRATION.
Nikolai Yegorov, who
was appointed Krasnodar Krai Governor last week, will restructure the krai's
administration which was created by his predecessor, Radio Rossii reported on
23 July. Yegorov will create a regional government to deal with economic
problems and will personally control regional law enforcement agencies. In
addtion he intends to cut the staff by 20%. Yegorov plans to stand for
reelection in the gubernatorial election in October (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 23 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya
KHASBULATOV TO MEDIATE IN CHECHNYA?
In an official statement on 23 July,
acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev reaffirmed his readiness to
continue peace talks with the Russian leadership despite the latter's failure
to implement the agreements of 27 May and 10 June, but confirmed his commitment
to the cause of Chechen independence, Reuters reported. Yandarbiev also named
ex-Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, himself an ethnic Chechen, as
one of a group of advisors who would hold new peace talks with Moscow.
Khasbulatov said that these should begin with a new meeting between Chechen
representatives and President Boris Yeltsin, whom he termed the sole Russian
official capable of assuming responsibility for ending the conflict, according
to ITAR-TASS. Also on 23 July, Russian warplanes resumed their bombardment of
the villages of Shatoi and Itum-kale, and warplanes and artillery began a new
offensive against Nozhai-Yurt, Vedeno, Gudermes, and Achkhoi-Martan, ITAR-TASS
and AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller
MILITARY DENIES USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN CHECHNYA.
The commander of
Defense Ministry troops in Chechnya, Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, on 23 July
denied that his forces had used chemical weapons against the Chechen
separatists, ITAR-TASS reported. He was responding to a charge made earlier
that day by a separatist spokesman, Khozh-Akhed Yarikhanov. Shamanov said his
forces had never had any chemical weapons at their disposal. In Moscow,
Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Orlov, chief of the Chemical, Bacteriological and
Radiological Defense Troops, termed Yarikhanov's charge "ill-intentioned
disinformation." Yarikhanov had reported that several militants killed by
federal troops in the districts of Itum-kale and Shatoi had signs similar to
those left by toxic agents. He admitted that no laboratory analyses had been
made. -- Doug Clarke
PRIMAKOV, CHRISTOPHER ENDORSE COMPROMISE ON NUCLEAR TEST BAN.
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his American counterpart Warren
Christopher announced in Jakarta on 23 July that their countries will sign a
compromise Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the next session of
the multilateral Geneva talks on the issue, international media reported.
According to Primakov, the compromise draft, proposed by Dutch diplomat Jaap
Ramaker last month, "does not fully satisfy both sides." But both decided to
accept it in order to persuade other countries--such as India and China--to do
likewise and speed the establishment of an international ban on nuclear tests.
The Russians were unhappy with some of the monitoring provisions. The U.S.
wanted the treaty to come into effect if 40 country signed it: the current
draft insists that all five current nuclear powers and three "threshold" powers
must sign before it comes into effect. The two diplomats also discussed a
number of other issues, but reportedly made little progress resolving
differences between Moscow and Washington on such issues as NATO enlargement
and the candidacy of UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for a second
term. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA ON BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
Vladimir Andreev, a spokesman for the
Russian Foreign Ministry, declared on 23 July that the removal of former
Bosnian Serb President and internationally wanted war criminal Radovan Karadzic
from his government and party posts had "removed all obstacles to the normal
organization of elections" in Bosnia, ITAR-TASS reported. Andreev said that
holding the elections, currently scheduled for mid-September, should now be
viewed as the "main strategic objective" in Bosnia, to which the international
community should "direct all its efforts." He cautioned against "ill-considered
actions," like the arrest of Karadzic or Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko
Mladic on war crimes charges, which he claimed might torpedo the elections.
Moscow has consistently argued that arresting Karadzic or Mladic would
undermine the Bosnian peace process. -- Scott Parrish
DUMA DELEGATION IN NICARAGUA.
A delegation led by Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev arrived in Nicaragua on 23 July on the first leg of a Latin American
tour which also includes Cuba and Venezuela, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The delegation met with Nicaraguan President Violeta Barrios de
Chamorro to discuss bilateral ties. Seleznev later said that the discussion had
revealed "many similar moments" in Nicaraguan and Russian politics, especially
in the area of legislative-executive relations. The Russian parliamentarian
also took the opportunity to denounce the recent tightening of the U.S. trade
embargo against Cuba, saying that the controversial Helms-Burton act, should be
revoked. Latin American countries have also condemned the American legislation.
-- Scott Parrish
GLOBAL RADIO BROADCASTING CONTINUES.
The Russian state radio company
Golos Rossii still broadcasts worldwide in 32 different languages for a total
of 539 hours per week, Argumenty i fakty reported in issue no. 28. This
is down from 66 languages and 1638 hours per week in 1991. The broadcasts
currently use 19 European languages plus a broad range of African and Asian
tongues, including Arabic, Korean, and Nepalese. Interestingly, there are no
broadcasts in the languages of CIS member countries, although they can all
receive Russian-language domestic radio broadcasts. -- Peter Rutland
RUSSIAN PRESS CHARGES OLYMPICS RIDDLED BY U.S. CHAUVINISM.
newspapers on 23 July charged that the Atlanta Olympics have been poorly
organized and marred by jingoism and favoritism for U.S. competitors. "Politics
always played a leading role at the Olympics, but judging by the way they have
started, politics have eclipsed all else at these Games," Izvestiya
quoted Vladimir Lukin, a former Russian ambassador to the U.S., as saying.
Moskovskii komsomolets , meanwhile, claimed that "the Americans, without
any restraint, give the impression (as always) that non-native sportsmen do not
exist," according to Reuters. ITAR-TASS complained about the NBC television
coverage of the Games, saying U.S. athletes received a disproportionate amount
of air time. The Russians are not the only ones to have complained about
organizational problems in Atlanta: the BBC has quoted British athletes
bemoaning poor transport and accommodation arrangements. -- Penny Morvant
MORE MINERS STRIKE IN PRIMORE.
Miners at another pit in Primorskii Krai
went on strike on 24 July, bringing the total number of strikers up to about
3,500, ITAR-TASS reported. Mines in Partizansk have been idle for about a week
because of a dispute over wage arrears. According to union official Petr
Kiryasov, mines in Primore are owed 450 billion rubles by consumers. The
massive, interlocking problem of nonpayments in the region last week resulted
in severe power cuts as the local electric company Dalenergo could not afford
to purchase supplies of diesel oil. -- Penny Morvant
FINANCIAL SITUATION IN ENERGY SECTOR.
Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii
Shafranik said that in the first half of 1996 the sector contributed 26
trillion rubles ($53 billion) to the budget, ITAR-TASS and
Kommersant-Daily reported on 23-24 July. Customers' debts to fuel and
energy companies rose by 60% over the same period, reaching 179 trillion rubles
(54% of the total customers' debt in industry). Shafranik noted that high taxes
have pushed domestic prices on fuel and energy products up to 75-95% of the
world price level. -- Natalia Gurushina
NEW CUSTOM DUTIES FOR SHUTTLE-TRADERS.
The government will lower the
level of duty-free imports for individual travelers, known as shuttle-traders
(chelnoki), from $2,000 to $1,000 per person starting from 1 August, ITAR-TASS
and Kommersant-Daily reported on 23-24 July. Duties will be set at 30%
of the goods' value, but not less than 4 ECU per one kilogram. If the goods'
total value exceeds $10,000 or their total weight is over 200 kilograms,
shuttle traders will have to pay the same duties as legal entities. There are
some 10-30 million people involved in the shuttle trade and their turnover is
estimated at around $10 billion a year. According to the First Deputy Economic
Minister Yakov Urinson, the new measures should increase tax receipts and help
fight corruption among customs officers. -- Natalia Gurushina
CRACKDOWN ON GEORGIAN INDEPENDENT TV STATION.
The management of the
private Georgian TV station Rustavi-2, which has an estimated audience of
300,000 people, continues to protest the station's closure by the Georgian
authorities on 17 July, allegedly because the station's charter did not allow
it to broadcast on a TV frequency. The station's management has produced
documentation proving that it received the appropriate license from the
Ministry of Communications, and claims the crackdown was initiated by
unspecified forces seeking to sabotage the process of democratization in
Georgia, Radio Rossii reported on 23 July. -- Liz Fuller
NEW UN OFFICE OPENS IN UZBEKISTAN.
The United Nations Fund for
Population Activities (UNFPA) officially opened an office in Tashkent on 22
July, Uzbek TV reported as monitored by the BBC. The UN permanent
representative to Uzbekistan, Khalid Malik, and Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister
Saidmukhtar Saidkasymov attended the ceremony. The center is to study the
problems of "health services, education and social welfare" in Uzbekistan. The
office joins a growing list of UN institutions working in Uzbekistan, including
UNHCR and UNESCO. -- Roger Kangas
U.S. HOUSE CALLS FOR NATO EXPANSION. T
he House of Representatives on 23
July called for expansion of the military alliance and authorized up to $60
million to help Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to prepare for
membership, Reuters reported on 23 July. The leading applicant countries were
said to have made the most progress on meeting NATO criteria. But the bill left
the timetable for these countries' entry uncertain. According to the measure,
which yet has to be taken up by the Senate, the aid could be extended to other
countries of the region in the future upon the approval of the U.S. president.
Representative Benjamin Gilman, who serves as chairman of the International
Relations Committee, said neither the United States nor the new European
democracies "can afford to wait any longer" and the bill was needed to keep
pressure on the US administration to seek prompt enlargement of NATO. -- Zsofia
UKRAINE READY TO NEGOTIATE WITH RUSSIA.
Foreign Minister Hennadii
Udovenko said Ukraine has invited Russia to restart negotiations in all areas
of cooperation, UNIAN reported on 23 July. He said there are plans to invite
his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, to Ukraine. In addition, activities
of a joint commission headed by the prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine are
to be stepped up, Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko is to pay an
official visit to Russia, and negotiations on border issues should begin.
During the Russian elections, there was no progress in negotiations on the
long-delayed treaty on friendship and cooperation. It is hoped that headway on
the treaty will be made when Yeltsin meets with his Ukrainian counterpart
Leonid Kuchma in August during his inauguration in Moscow. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS DEMAND RELEASE OF ARRESTED UNION LEADERS.
mines held a day-long strike and nearly 1,000 miners held a rally in Krasnodon
to demand the release of two local union leaders arrested for organizing recent
strikes in the country's coal mining region, Ukrainian agencies reported on
22-23 July. Petro Kyt and Mykhailo Skrynsky, local independent miners' union
leaders, were arrested on 18 July and charged with disrupting public order by
organizing illegal mass strikes and blocking railroads. The latest round of
strikes by coal mines demanding payment of back wages owed them by the
Ukrainian government ended recently when the miners and Kyiv signed an
agreement outlining a payment schedule. In the meantime, Ukrainian radio
reported on 22 July that the government had allocated 1 trillion karbovantsi
($5.4 million) for payment of wage arrears to employees of the
mine-construction industry and for the industry's restructuring. -- Chrystyna
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN TURKEY.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived in Turkey
on 24 June for a three-day official visit to sign a treaty on friendship and
cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka is to meet with his Turkish
counterpart Suleiman Demirel to conclude agreements on double taxation,
cooperation in tourism and in fighting organized crime, drug trafficking, and
terrorism. A Turkish bank will offer Belarus a $20 million credit. -- Ustina
RUSSIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN BELARUS.
Russian deputy Prime Minister
Aleksei Bolshakov was in Minsk on 22 July for talks on problems with the
Russian-Belarusian customs union, Russian Public Television reported. Minsk has
asked Moscow to impose tariffs on practically all imported consumer goods
because it wants to protect its own producers from competition from cheaper
imports. Moscow is unwilling to do that, and the customs union appears to be
threatened. The visit comes after Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
criticized Russia for not honoring the terms of the union, and failing to write
off Belarus's gas debt even though Minsk allows Russian troops to remain in
Belarus free of charge. -- Ustina Markus
SEVASTOPOL OPENED TO FOREIGN SHIPPING.
Sevastopol has opened its port to
foreign non-military shipping, AFP reported on 23 July. The city had been
closed to foreigners until last year as a security precaution because it was
the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. The city's authorities have decided to
develop it as a tourist attraction and commercial seaport. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA'S COALITION AND PROGRESS PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT.
Coalition Party and the Progress Party (Arengupartei) signed a cooperation
agreement on 23 July in Tallinn, ETA reported. The two parties could not forge
a formal alliance for the October local elections because the Progress Party
had not officially registered with the National Election Committee by the 17
July deadline. It has only 260 members and 1,000 members were needed in order
to register. The party was founded in late May by former members of the Center
Party dissatisfied with the return of Edgar Savisaar as that party's leader.
Coalition Party head Tiit Vahi said that its ruling alliance partner, the
Reform Party, had approved the cooperation agreement. -- Saulius Girnius
EXTRADITION OF WAR CRIMINALS TO LITHUANIA DEMANDED.
The public Baltic
Unity Organization (BVO) demanded on 22 July that war criminals Petras Raslanas
and Noachim Dusanski be extradited from Russia and Israel, respectively, to
Lithuania, BNS reported the next day. They are accused of participating in
NKVD -organized murder of 74 people in the Rainiai forest in 1941.
Noting that the Simon Wiesenthal Center had successfully prosecuted a number of
people involved in the killing of Jews in Nazi-occupied countries, BVO Chairman
Vytautas Nezgada said that the center could aid in extraditing the two war
criminals and clarifying crimes committed against other nationalities. At the
end of June, 10 Seimas opposition deputies circulated a statement urging
President Algirdas Brazauskas to demand the extradition of Raslanas and
Dusanski. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH ECONOMIC RECOVERY CONTINUES.
Preliminary data for the first half
of 1996 released 23 July by the Central Statistical Office show continued
strong economic growth in Poland. Polish dailies reported the following day
that industrial production was up 7.9% and real wages grew by 6.1% over
mid-1995 levels, while the unemployment rate fell to 14.8%, its lowest level
since 1992. However, consumer prices during the first half of the year rose by
11.4%, while the trade deficit climbed to $2.6 billion. While above-forecast
figures for inflation, the trade deficit, real wage growth, and the government
budget deficit suggest that the Polish economy may be overheating, they are not
dramatically out of line with last year's numbers. Likewise, the Polish economy
appears to be on track for realizing the official forecast of 5.5-6.0% real GDP
growth in 1996. The Polish economic recovery, which began in 1992, is the
longest and most durable in Eastern Europe. -- Ben Slay
CZECH PRESIDENT URGES OPPOSITION TO APPROVE GOVERNMENT.
Vaclav Havel, in
a speech to the parliament on 23 July, urged opposition deputies to approve the
minority coalition government led by Vaclav Klaus, Czech media reported. Havel
argued that the government's composition and program were good, and should be
given a chance. The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) have threatened to vote
against the government, the main sticking point being its plan to return, by
decree, a large number of properties to the Catholic Church. The CSSD proposed
on 23 July that the parliament approve a resolution taking the restitution of
Church property out of the government's hands and requesting that the
parliament first approve a special restitution law. However, the parliament
would not put the proposal on the agenda of its current session, giving the
government a surprising victory. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION TO CONTINUE DESPITE CONTROVERSY.
Fund (FNM) Presidium President Stefan Gavornik told Slovak Radio on 23 July
that direct sale privatization projects will continue although the opposition
remains unrepresented on the FNM's boards. During June's coalition crisis,
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar reportedly signed an agreement with the
opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) guaranteeing that privatization
would be halted until the FNM boards are reconstructed. Gavornik stressed "it
is not possible to stop the privatization process...since the Presidium's most
important role is to issue decisions on direct sale privatization projects."
The FNM Presidium is expected to decide on about 30 direct sale privatization
projects on 25 July. Meanwhile, SDL deputy chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova
said that if Meciar breaks his pledge, her party will publish the agreement's
contents, Narodna obroda reported on 23 July. -- Sharon Fisher
BOMB EXPLODES AT UN POLICE STATION ON SERB TERRITORY.
device went off late on 22 July outside an International Police Task Force
(IPTF) office in Doboj in northern Bosnia, news agencies reported. There were
no injuries or casualties. The IPTF monitors local police forces and will play
a key security role in the fall elections. The latest bombing fits into a
pattern of intimidation and threats against the IPTF on Bosnian Serb territory.
-- Patrick Moore
SERBS ALREADY BREAKING LATEST ELECTION AGREEMENT.
The governing Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS) has used Radovan Karadzic as a vote-getter in an ad
in Vesti, a daily aimed at Serbs living abroad, Onasa reported on
22 July. The text appealed for votes for some of his staunch supporters,
including acting President Billjana Plavsic, parliament speaker Momcilo
Krajisnik, and Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha. The ad said that "they are the
closest partners of Radovan Karadzic, who is the best fighter for a free and
democratic Republika Srpska. Our enemies hate him because he cannot be
blackmailed and because he will not sell at any price the Republika Srpska,
which was obtained [so] painfully. He is a symbol of Serb heroism and many
rightly compare him to the greatest figures of our history," Beta
stated. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke clinched a deal on 19 July requiring the
indicted war criminal and SDS chairman to withdraw from politics--including
media appearances--so that the 14 September elections can go ahead with SDS
participation. The OSCE said it will raise the issue with the SDS, Reuters
reported. -- Patrick Moore
UN STARTS WORK ON THIRD MASS GRAVE.
International forensic and
archeological experts began work on 24 July on a third site believed to contain
the remains of Muslim males executed by the Serbs following the fall of
Srebrenica one year ago. Evidence from other graves points to a huge massacre
of civilians, many of whom had their hands wired together behind their backs.
The Serbs claim that the men are military casualties, but chief investigator
William Haglund told Reuters: "I don't know how many soldiers fight with their
hands tied behind them." But a local Serb resident said that "there are bodies
there. We plow them up all the time, but they are all of Serbs whom the Turks
[Muslims] killed. Why is it that the world blames us Serbs, when everyone was
involved in a war?" -- Patrick Moore
EU TRIES TO NEGOTIATE AFTER CROATIAN BOYCOTT OF MOSTAR CITY COUNCIL.
a meeting with Michael Steiner, deputy to the international community's High
Representative Carl Bildt, and EU envoy Tom Bolster, Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) leader Mile Puljic, whose party boycotted the opening session
of the Mostar City Council on 23 July, claimed he did not receive proper
notification of the session, AFP reported. After the meeting with international
officials, Puljic said that the "conversation wasn't fruitful." EU spokesman
Tom Walker said there was no sign that an agreement was imminent, Reuters
reported. The HDZ is pushing for a joint interim administrative body that would
run the city pending a final decision on whether to annul the controversial 30
June elections. Meanwhile, Croat West Mostar mayor Mijo Brajkovic said that
"whatever the [new city] council decided today is completely irrelevant for us"
and threatened not to extend the EU administration's mandate. -- Fabian
BRUSSELS CONFERENCE ON BOSNIA'S RECONSTRUCTION OPENS.
200 European companies and banks on 23 July attended the meeting called by the
European Commission to bid for Bosnia's reconstruction program, Nasa
Borba reported. Hans Van den Brock, EU commissioner for central and
southeast Europe, said the success of Bosnia's reconstruction will greatly
determine the future and even survival of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state. Van
den Brock also said that the war damage in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been
estimated to be between $30 and $50 billion. The international community has
pledged $5 billion for reconstruction of Bosnia, of which $1.8 billion will be
spent by the end of 1996. More than one third of this amount has been pledged
by the EU. U.S. companies have already started business negotiations in Bosnia.
-- Daria Sito Sucic
BOSNIAN DELEGATION IN SERBIA.
Bosnian Vice-President Ejup Ganic led
15-member delegation that arrived in Belgrade on 23 July for a landmark visit
designed to restore contacts and promote bilateral trade, Nasa Borba
reported on 24 July. The arrival of the Bosnian delegation is the first
such since war broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina four years ago, and
observers have hailed the development as the first significant step towards
possible mutual reconciliation. Ganic, who met with Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic, said just prior to departing that his was a "risky step for me but a
very sure and safe step for Bosnia," Reuters reported. Ganic, who advocated
strong military resistance to Serbian aggression, was throughout the conflict
dubbed "a war criminal" by the Belgrade state-run media. After meeting with
Milosevic, Ganic remarked that talks were "open, straightforward. The two
countries are closer than they were before." -- Stan Markotich
LJUBLJANA, BELGRADE TAKE SHOWDOWN TO OFFSHORE BANKS?
in Cyprus have been frozen by court order, Nasa Borba reported first on
22 July. Beobank director Borka Vucic initially responded saying "our resources
are not blockaded." Reuters, however, quoted Cypriot lawyer Evros Evripido,
acting for the Slovenian government, as saying on 22 July that Ljubljana was
seeking its share of assets, totaling some $650 million. Efforts to freeze the
assets stemmed from the position that as a former Yugoslav republic, Slovenia
had both a right and obligation to maintain a portion of those federal assets
now hidden on Cyprus. The issue of resources in Cyprus is of paramount concern
to Belgrade, which likely weathered the storm of sanctions by dipping into the
cash reserves ensconced on the island. Slovenia's case is slated for a 29 July
hearing, and on 23 July Nasa Borba added that other claimants are
surfacing. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIA FEARS NATO BASES IN HUNGARY.
Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca
said in an interview with the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet that his country
fears that the setting up of NATO bases on Hungarian territory might encourage
"Hungarian extremist forces," the daily Evenimentul zilei reported on 24
July. Tinca said these forces might believe the NATO presence would make it
possible for them to achieve "their decades-long dream" of "recuperating
Transylvania." -- Michael Shafir
UNEMPLOYMENT IN MOLDOVA.
According to data released by the Moldovan
State Statistics Department, 26,100 persons were officially registered as
unemployed, two thirds of whom were women, Infotag reported on 23 July. About
28% of those unemployed receive unemployment benefits averaging 68 lei (about
$15.50) per month. In addition, 124,000 persons were on forced leave, the
average duration of which is 39 days. -- Michael Shafir
SOCIALIST CANDIDATE BARRED FROM BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
decision of the Constitutional Court on 23 July effectively prevents Foreign
Minister Georgi Pirinski from seeking the country's presidency, RFE/RL
reported. Under the constitution, the president must be "Bulgarian by birth."
Pirinski, who was born in New York in 1948 to the family of a Bulgarian emigre,
could not acquire immediate Bulgarian citizenship under the citizenship law
valid at that time since he already had U.S. citizenship by birth. Nine of the
12 judges ruled that whether someone is "Bulgarian by birth" is determined by
the legislation valid at his birth. The opposition had asked the court to rule
on the question. Judge Ivan Grigorov said the ruling was not directed against
any single person. Pirinski can still be registered with the Central Electoral
Commission, but his candidacy could then be overruled by the commission or the
Supreme Court. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS SAY PIRINSKI REMAINS THEIR CANDIDATE.
Socialist Party (BSP) reacted harshly to the latest Constitutional Court
ruling. The BSP daily Duma called the decision political and claimed
that the judges violated the constitution. BSP parliamentary faction leader
Krasimir Premyanov said Pirinski remains the party's candidate despite the
Constitutional Court's ruling, but Kontinent cites unnamed sources as
saying the BSP is already looking for a new candidate. Pirinski himself has not
commented on the ruling so far, but he is expected to make a statement on 24
July. Pirinski is widely seen as the only Socialist candidate who can win the
presidential elections in the fall. The Union of Democratic Forces daily
Demokratsiya called on the BSP to withdraw Pirinski's candidacy and said
the BSP should not have nominated him in the first place if it is worried about
society's stability. -- Stefan Krause
ROMA COVERED WITH FUEL AND BURNT IN ALBANIA.
At least four men on 17
July kidnapped three teenage Roma near Tirana's train station, took them to a
field outside the city, robbed and then tortured them for some three hours, the
European Roma Rights Center reported on 22 July. They reportedly then poured
gas over the head of 15-year-old Fatmir Haxhiu and set him on fire. He was able
to testify to human rights organizations before he died of severe injuries on
21 July. Two of the culprits have reportedly been arrested. There was no
independent confirmation of the incident. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Carla Atkinson