LEBED: NATO EXPANSION NOT A THREAT . . .
In an interview published in
the Financial Times on 25 July, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed said that he was "calm" about the prospect of NATO expanding eastward.
Reiterating a position he took during the presidential election campaign, Lebed
declared that "Russia is not planing to fight anyone...so this mighty NATO is
being developed to do battle in the air." NATO leaders would soon have problems
convincing their taxpayers to finance the alliance's expansion, he argued, but
if NATO countries "have enough money and health, they are welcome" to accept
new members. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told ITAR-TASS in
Brussels that the alliance wants to strengthen its "partnership" with Russia,
and suggested concluding a political "framework agreement" which would regulate
Russia-NATO relations. * Scott Parrish
. . . BUT RODIONOV DISAGREES.
Krasnaya zvezda on 25 July
published excerpts from remarks made by newly appointed Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov during a recent inspection tour which markedly contrast with Lebed's
assessment. Rodionov described the possible expansion of NATO as the "main
problem for Russia in the West," since it would "dangerously alter the
strategic-military balance in Europe." He warned that if NATO expanded into
Central Europe, its tactical aviation would be able to reach Western areas of
Russia, like Smolesnk, Kursk and Bryansk. Commenting on military reform, he
attributed some of the military's problems to competition among the various
"power ministries," which he said often operate "in isolation." This comment
suggests that Rodionov may try to bolster the powers of the General Staff,
which supervised all uniformed military personnel in the Soviet era, but lost
that authority after Russia became independent. * Scott Parrish
CHERNOMYRDIN MAY INVITE OPPOSITION TO JOIN GOVERNMENT . . .
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has not ruled out the possibility of inviting
opposition representatives to join the government, Russian media reported on 24
July. However, he stressed that the cabinet will be formed on an exclusively
professional basis and future ministers will have to give up their party and
faction affiliations, ITAR-TASS reported. Several independent expert groups
within the government are working now on drafts of the new cabinet structure
and economic development until the year 2000, Russian Public Television (ORT)
reported, citing an unnamed top government official. * Anna Paretskaya
. . . WHILE COMMUNISTS TO CONSIDER PROPOSAL.
After a one-hour meeting
with Chernomyrdin, Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov announced
that the opposition may join the new government only if its program complies
with the interests of the 30 million voters who supported Zyuganov for
president, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. He insisted that any candidate for
prime minister should present an outline of the new government program while
being introduced to the Duma, which must approve the prime minister in his
post. * Anna Paretskaya
NEW POST FOR YAROV.
President Yeltsin signed a decree on 24 July
appointing Yurii Yarov as his deputy chief of staff under Anatolii Chubais,
Rossiiskie vesti reported. Hitherto Yarov was deputy prime minister with
responsibility for social issues. He is the first senior government member to
leave the cabinet since the second round of the presidential elections.
Kommersant-Daily speculated that Viktor Ilyushin will replace Yarov as a
deputy prime minister. Meanwhile Moskovskii Komsomolets reported on 24
July that Maj.-Gen. Georgii Rogozin, first deputy head of the Presidential
Security Service and a close ally of Aleksandr Korzhakov, has been sacked. *
NEW POLITICAL PARTY FOR LEBED.
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed will form a new political movement to be called Truth and Order, Ekho
Moskvy reported on 24 July. The new movement will include the Congress of
Russian Communities (KRO), on whose ticket Lebed ran for parliament last year;
the association Honor and Motherland, which Lebed founded last year and which
helped organize his presidential campaign; and the Democratic Party of Russia,
whose leader Sergei Glazev was a leader of KRO. Truth and Order will hold its
founding congress in September. * Laura Belin
PRAVDA SUSPENDS PUBLICATION.
The pro-communist newspaper
Pravda shut down operations on 24 July following a quarrel with the
Greek millionaires Theodoros and Christos Giannikos, who have financed the
paper since 1992. AFP reported that editorial staff, outraged by the owners'
decision to suspend publication as of 27 July, voted themselves to stop
production. But according to ITAR-TASS, Theodoros Giannikos ordered the
computers at the paper's publishing center to be switched off after he was
denied access to the Pravda building on 24 July. In a statement, editors
accused the owners of violating their contractual obligations and showing a
"lack of respect" toward readers. * Laura Belin
PERSONNEL CHANGE AT RTR.
The popular Russian TV (RTR) journalist Nikolai
Svanidze has been promoted to deputy chairman of the state-run network in
charge of political and news broadcasting, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. He
will continue to host the Sunday-evening analytical program "Zerkalo." RTR
Chairman Eduard Sagalaev, whom Yeltsin appointed in February, denied rumors
that he will soon take up a post in the government. * Laura Belin
POWER-SHARING TREATIES SIGNED WITH KHABAROVSK KRAI.
Viktor Chernomyrdin and Khabarovsk Krai Governor Viktor Ishaev have signed a
package of 11 documents detailing the separation of powers between the federal
government and the krai's administration, Russian media reported on 24 July.
The package divides areas of competence of the federal and regional authorities
in managing agriculture and industry, natural resources, development of the
krai's Northern areas, and defense. The general agreement on power-sharing with
Khabarovsk was approved by President Yeltsin in April during his visit to the
region. * Anna Paretskaya
MASKHADOV, KVASHNIN MEETING CALLED OFF.
The planned meeting between
Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov and the commander of the Russian
Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, failed to
take place on 24 July, Russian and Western media reported. The commander of the
Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, blamed
Maskhadov but the head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, said that
Maskhadov had been hindered by transport and communications difficulties,
according to AFP. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov rejected
Yandarbiev's call for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Chechnya,
ITAR-TASS reported. * Liz Fuller
CHECHEN MILITANTS RETURN TO BAMUT.
fighters staged a raid on the village of Bamut, the location of a former Soviet
strategic missile base with a dense network of bunkers some 45 kilometers
southwest of Grozny, on 23 July, Radio Rossii reported. On 24 July military
officials admitted that the situation in the area had deteriorated, but denied
that Bamut had been captured by the militants. Once Dzhokhar Dudaev's
headquarters, Bamut has been heavily contested between federal troops and the
militants for more than a year. * Doug Clarke
SPRING DRAFT COMPLETED.
200,200 people were drafted into the armed
forces in the draft which concluded on 30 June, Krasnaya zvezda reported
on 24 July. The proportion of draftees deemed unfit for service was 15%, down
from 29% in 1995 (but up from 7% in 1987). In addition to possible fraud in the
medical inspections, 26,000 persons avoided the draft by other means.
Meanwhile, few military commentators are voicing support for Yeltsin's plan for
an all-professional army by the year 2000. Writing in Komsomolskaya Pravda
on 23 July, Vladimir Sviridov argued that professional armies in the West
are not immune from the problems of budget cuts, bad morale, and poor quality
personnel which bedevil the Russian Army. Rather than abolishing the draft, he
proposed increasing the proportion of professionals, currently 50% (officers,
NCOs, and 250,000 contract servicemen), to 70-80%, while cutting the draft
period in half. * Peter Rutland
ITAR-TASS ACCUSES JAPANESE NAVY OF SPYING.
ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July
that six Japanese naval intelligence agents were aboard the Japanese destroyer
Kurama, currently sailing toward Vladivostok where it will participate
in ceremonies later this month to mark the 300th anniversary of the Russian
Navy. The agency accused the Japanese Navy of using the first port visit by one
of its ships to Russia since 1925 to conduct espionage. A Japanese Navy
spokesmen later admitted that six naval intelligence officers are on board the
Kurama. But he said four will serve as translators while the others will
gather open navigational information about Vladivostok's port. He said it was a
"complete misunderstanding" to describe the officers as spies. * Scott
BOMB BLAST IN VOLGOGRAD.
A bomb exploded on a train at Volgograd's
central station on 25 July, ITAR-TASS reported. There were no casualties. The
agency noted that the previous day Chechen fighter Salman Raduev had claimed
responsibility for a failed bomb attack on Voronezh station and threatened new
terrorist acts on Russian railways, claiming that they were a military target.
However, doubts have been raised over the true identity of the man claiming to
be Raduev, and the Chechen separatist leadership has stated repeatedly that it
opposes all terrorist acts. * Penny Morvant
YELTSIN'S TEAM TO ENSURE GOOD WEATHER ON INAUGURATION DAY.
weather forecasters predict rain, President Yeltsin's inauguration celebration
on 9 August will take place under sunny skies, according to newly-appointed
Deputy Chief of Staff Yurii Yarov. He told ITAR-TASS on 24 July that money has
been set aside to disperse the clouds if necessary. During the Soviet period,
artificial means were occasionally employed to disperse rain clouds on
important holidays. * Laura Belin
A group of KGB veterans held a press conference in Moscow
on 24 July to launch a new book they have authored, "The KGB Guide to Cities of
the World,", NTV reported. Written for tourists, it reportedly includes special
vignettes on life as a spy in cities from New York to Bangkok. * Peter
CENTRAL BANK RELAXES MONETARY POLICY.
The Central Bank (TsB) has
announced that it will lower its reserve requirements on commercial bank 30-day
deposits from 20% to 18%, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 July. The
reserve requirements were raised on 10 June 1996 to offset the inflationary
impact of the enforced transfer of $1 billion from the TsB to the federal
budget. The relaxation appears to be a precautionary measure to forestall the
possibility of a banking crisis. TsB also announced on 24 July that it will
lower the refinancing rate from 120% to 110% a year. * Natalia Gurushina
NEW DEFENSE CONVERSION FUND.
The government will establish a new state
conversion fund to provide financial support for projects that encourage
defense factories to produce civilian rather than military goods,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 24 July. The Defense Industry Minister
Zinovii Pak said that the fund would be financed from the state budget but
would also try to attract foreign investors. The government plans to transfer
some 2 trillion rubles ($386 million) to the fund by the end of 1996, rising to
8 trillion rubles in 1997. * Natalia Gurushina
U.S. DROPS ARMS RESTRICTIONS FOR 5 REGIONAL STATES.
According to a State Department announcement on 24 July, the
United States has ended restrictions on arms trade with Georgia, Moldova,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries have been
removed from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) proscribed
list. This means that the U.S. will no longer automatically deny licenses for
the export or import of military equipment or services to these nations. * Doug
KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA DISPUTE RESOLVED IN ALMATY.
An Almaty court has lifted the proposed ban on Komsomolskaya
pravda, ending a three-month dispute between the newspaper's editorial
board and the Procurator General of Kazakhstan, Russian media reported on 24
July. The court said it was satisfied with the apology published in its last
two issues in which the newspaper's editors admitted being guilty of permitting
"factual errors" on Kazakhstan's sovereignty in the controversial 23 April
article "Conversations with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn." Kazakhstan's Procurator
General withdrew the case following the public statement by the editorial staff
that they do not share Solzhenitsyn's views on relations between Russians and
Kazakhs. * Bhavna Dave
RUSSIAN ENVOY TO TAJIKISTAN MEETS UTO LEADER.
The Russian Special Envoy
to Tajikistan, Yevgenii Mikhailov, met with United Tajik Opposition leader Said
Abdullo Nuri in the opposition's base at Kunduz, Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported
on 24 July. Talks focused on a planned meeting between Nuri and Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov in Moscow. The meeting was agreed on at the recent Tajik
peace negotiations in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. * Bruce Pannier
CENTRAL EASTERN EUROPE
CZECH GOVERNMENT WINS CONFIDENCE VOTE.
The Czech parliament approved on
25 July a new minority coalition government led by Vaclav Klaus after the
opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) walked out, enabling the coalition deputies
to pass the vote of confidence. The vote in the 200-member parliament was
98-40. During a three-day parliamentary debate preceding the vote, the CSSD did
not reveal whether it would support the government. President Vaclav Havel, in
a speech to the parliament on 23 July, asked for support from the opposition
parties. CSSD chairman Milos Zeman told the parliament on 23 July that he
wanted to vote against the government but changed his mind after hearing a
speech by the leader of the extreme-right Republican Party, Miroslav Sladek.
Sladek attacked the Roma minority; Zeman noted that Sladek's speech united
moderate parties. * Jiri Pehe
UKRAINIAN ULTRANATIONALIST GROUP DISBANDS PARAMILITARY WING.
Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) said it disbanded its paramilitary wing, the
Ukrainian National Self-defense Organization, and now renounces violence,
Ukrainian agencies reported on 23-24 July. Leaders of the right-wing group said
the decision was made in line with their bid to regain official political party
status. They said they would no longer oppose the government and they would use
only constitutional means to pursue their goals. The UNA was stripped of its
formal party status last summer after it was accused of inciting violence. More
recently, President Leonid Kuchma named the UNA as one of several suspected
groups behind the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. *
Russian deputy Prime Minister Aleksei
Bolshakov reached agreements with Minsk on a mechanism for repaying Belarus's
$1.2 billion debt to Russia, Belarusian and Russian agencies reported on 24
July. Bolshakov said the debt arrangement was similar to the "zero option,"
under which Russia would cancel Belarus's energy debt in exchange for Belarus's
free stationing of Russian troops in Belarus. Belarus's request that Russia
raise import duties will be discussed in the future. * Ustina Markus
LITHUANIA ADDS MORE ENTERPRISES TO LIST.
The administration on 24 July
named another 259 enterprises to be privatized this year, raising the total to
454 enterprises, BNS reported. The additions raise the estimated value of the
property to be privatized by 82.2 million litai ($20.55 million) to 374 million
litai. Many enterprises on the list have already been privatized, but the State
Stock Fund still retains small shares of stocks to be sold. * Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN SECURITY POLICE HEAD FIRED.
The Cabinet on 23 July decided to
unanimously fire Raimonds Rozkalns, on the recommendation of Interior Minister
Dainis Turlais, LETA reported. Rozkalns was implicated in a scandal in which
Russian and Latvian security forces allegedly conspired to create a corridor
for transiting illegal immigrants through Latvia. Angered by the suicide of a
drunken border guard on 23 July and 12 other deaths in the armed forces this
year, Prime Minister Andris Skele on 24 July instructed Defense Minister
Andrejs Krastins to fire National Defense Commander-in-Chief Juris Dalbins, BNS
reported. President Guntis Ulmanis appointed Navy Commander and Deputy Army
Commander Gaidis Zeibots as Dalbins's acting replacement until the parliament
approves the dismissal. * Saulius Girnius
POLISH TRADE DEFICIT GROWING RAPIDLY.
The foreign trade deficit at the
end of May reached $2.6 billion, the National Bank of Poland reported on 24
July. That figure is eight times larger than the deficit recorded in May 1995.
The deficit for all of 1995 was only $1.8 billion, Zycie Warszawy
reported on 24-25 July. The combination of rapid import growth (up 33.7% since
January 1996) and slowing export growth of 8.6% (due largely to the EU's
economic slowdown) apparently is reducing Poland's foreign exchange reserves.
The capital inflows that fueled Polish economic growth during 1994-1995 could
be diminishing. * Ben Slay
ABUSES POSSIBLY BANKRUPTING POLAND'S UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM.
Minister Andrzej Baczkowski asked the unemployment offices to take
"extraordinary actions" to offset an estimated 800 million zloty ($300 million)
shortfall in the state labor fund that finances unemployment benefits,
Rzeczpospolita reported 25 July. Despite a series of amendments
tightening eligibility requirements--only 47% of those listed as unemployed in
June actually received unemployment compensation--the labor fund will be unable
to pay benefits in November and December if the trend continues. The labor
fund's shortfall suggests that the common practice of giving benefits to
nominally "unemployed" workers who are working illegally has gotten out of
hand. Other problems with the unemployment system were highlighted in a report
issued on 24 July by the Supreme Auditing Chamber, which uncovered widespread
fraud by local governments when providing public-works jobs for unemployed
workers. * Ben Slay
POLISH STEEL MILL TARGET OF TAIWANESE ANTI-DUMPING CHARGE.
Ho Steel Enterprise named Poland's Huta Katowice as one of four steel firms
allegedly "dumping" steel on the Taiwanese market, Rzeczpospolita
reported 24 July. This charge represents the latest in a series of dumping
allegations against Polish steel exporters. It also highlights the difficulties
Polish firms face in expanding sales to booming Asian markets, which purchase
less than 5% of Poland's exports. The Taiwanese government has not taken an
official position on the charge. * Ben Slay
SLOVAKIA COMPLAINS TO EU ABOUT HUNGARY.
Slovak Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Jozef Sestak on 24 July handed a diplomatic note to EU ambassadors,
responding to calls from Budapest for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians living in
neighboring states, Reuters reported. Sestak delivered an "aide memoire" to the
ambassadors of Germany, Italy, Britain, France, and the European Commission's
representative to Slovakia, informing them about the current relationship
between Slovakia and Hungary following the communique issued earlier this month
by the Budapest summit on ethnic Hungarian minorities. * Sharon Fisher
SLOVAKS RESPOND TO NATO EXPANSION BILL.
Slovak officials on 24 July
responded to the U.S. House of Representatives' bill offering financial
assistance to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to help them gain NATO
membership, Slovak media reported. During a special meeting of the
parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, members called for "additional
lobbying" in the U.S. Congress and appeals to the parliaments of EU member
countries. Roman Kovac of the opposition Democratic Union said he considers
Slovakia's omission from the list "one of the last warning signals." * Sharon
HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT DOMINATES STATE-RUN MEDIA.
A survey of state TV and
radio newscasts from April-June showed an overall ratio of 66.1% coverage for
the governing parties versus 33.9% for the opposition, Hungarian media reported
on 25 July. Coverage of the ruling parties on Duna TV and Hungarian Radio
slightly surpassed their parliamentary representation, while Hungarian TV (MTV)
gave somewhat more exposure to the opposition. The ruling Socialists received
the most media coverage, with 45.6%, while the Free Democrats--the junior
coalition partner--captured 20.5%. Next came the opposition Hungarian
Democratic Forum (8.4%), the Smallholders (7.6%), the Christian Democrats
(6.8%), the Young Democrats (6.3%), and the People's Party (4.8%). * Sharon
BOSNIAN SERBS TO GO TO HAGUE.
Pale said it will send a delegation next
week to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the BBC
reported on 25 July. It is seen as a propaganda effort--the Bosnian Serbs
apparently have no intention of cooperating with the court to extradite
indicted war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, and
continue to regard the tribunal as an anti-Serb political instrument. Their
hope is rather to gain publicity for their demand that Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic and other Muslims be indicted for war crimes. In early July, Pale
issued such indictments. Meanwhile, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew
Brzezinski, former Ambassador to the UN Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and others have
called for action against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in conjunction
with war crimes, the VOA reported. * Patrick Moore
UN PATROLS TO PROTECT SARAJEVO SERBS.
The International Police Task
Force (IPTF) will begin patrolling this week in the suburbs of Ilidza and Osjek
to prevent further harassment of Serbs there, Onasa reported on 24 July. The
Serbs who survived intimidation by Serbian nationalists earlier this year and
stayed on in their homes are now being bullied by Muslims. The Democratic
Initiative of Sarajevo Serbs said 70 people have left Vogosca in recent weeks,
while another 20 departed Blazuj. IPTF spokesman Alexander Ivanko said while he
can not confirm these figures, the UN continues to receive reports of Serbs
being harassed. Meanwhile, in Belgrade, Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic said
Serbs must hold full rights under the Bosnian constitution, Nasa Borba
reported on 25 July. * Patrick Moore
U.S. MILITARY INSTRUCTORS TO ARRIVE IN BOSNIA.
James Pardew, the U.S.
official responsible for military aid to Bosnia, said about 170 U.S.
instructors will begin arriving in Bosnia soon to help train the Muslim-Croat
Federation forces, AFP reported on 24 July. The first arms shipments under the
U.S. "Equip and Train Program" will not arrive for several weeks. Pardew said
U.S. officials would establish a logistics center to ensure the weapons are
properly stored. In other news, an unmanned IFOR plane on reconnaissance over
northern Bosnia crashed on 23 July; there were no injuries, AFP reported. *
Daria Sito Sucic
U.S. GENERAL: WESTERN FORCE NEEDED FOR BOSNIAN STABILITY.
Patrick Hughes, director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, said the
former warring parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina would return to violence unless
the NATO-led forces remain, AFP reported on 24 July. Hughes said the prospect
for maintaining a viable international force on the ground is not feasible
without full U.S. participation. Meanwhile, NATO is preparing to send to Bosnia
a new command post, which will oversee the withdrawal of its peacekeeping
force, AFP reported. The pull-out is expected to begin the day after the
Bosnian elections, scheduled for 14 September, and to end by February 1997. *
Daria Sito Sucic
EU THREATENS MOSTAR CROATS WITH WITHDRAWAL.
The EU will pull out of
Mostar on 4 August unless the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) ends its
boycott of the city council, AFP reported. EU ambassadors decided on 24 July on
that ultimatum, which was to be ratified by the 15 member states on 25 July.
The Croats lost the elections in Mostar and since then have refused to accept
the election results. The EU apparently wants to pressure Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman to resolve the crisis. The Bosnian Croats have appealed the
election results to the Bosnian federal constitutional court. * Fabian
SERBIA, BOSNIA TO RESTORE COMMUNICATIONS LINKS.
Serbia and Bosnia on 24
July reached an agreement to restore telephone, rail, bus, and air links.
Bosnian Vice-President Ejup Ganic, heading a 15-member delegation visiting
Belgrade, described the agreement as "a new chapter between the two countries,"
Onasa reported. Alija Behmen, delegation member and vice-president of Bosnian
state railways, said the technical work of reconstructing the railway between
Serbia and Bosnia likely will be completed in 10-15 days, Beta reported. Also,
Nasa Borba on 25 July reported that a second protocol was signed,
between Foreign Minister of the Bosnian Muslim-Croat Federation Jadranko Prlic
and his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, which aims to abolish
visa restrictions on cross-border travel for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina
and rump Yugoslavia. * Stan Markotich
SERB OPPOSITION LEADERS CRITICIZE AGREEMENT.
Among the most critical of
Ganic's visit were some of Serbia's opposition parties. The Democratic Party
said while the party welcomed any normalization of relations
between states of the former Yugoslavia, Ganic's visit--met with much
fanfare--contrasted with how politicians from the Republika Srpska, meeting "in
secret," were treated, Beta reported on 23 July. The DS said the courtesy given
Ganic revealed "a double standard." The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) was
more blunt, dubbing Ganic "a war criminal [whose] place is at The Hague" and
calling Milosevic's invitation to Ganic a "humiliation and complete
capitulation." They said renewing relations with the Muslim-Croat Federation
prior to squaring ties with the Republika Srpska was unacceptable. * Stan
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT RETRACTS ANTI-OPPOSITION ACCUSATIONS.
Iliescu retracted a statement made on 18 July, which had accused the opposition
of acting against the U.S.'s extension of permanent MFN status for Romania,
Romanian television reported on 24 July. A joint statement released after a
meeting with the chairmen of the Democratic Convention of Romania and the
Social Democratic Union, Emil Constantinescu and Petre Roman, said the
extension of the status was the result of equal efforts by "official bodies and
the opposition." * Michael Shafir
NEW ROMANIAN AUDIO-VISUAL COUNCIL HEAD.
Television filmmaker Mircea
Moldovan was elected on 24 July by the National Audio Visual Council to replace
outgoing chairman Titus Raveica, local media reported. Moldovan's mandate runs
for four years. * Michael Shafir
RUSSIAN GENERAL IN MOLDOVA DENIES RUMORS.
The commander of the
Dniester-based Russian troops, Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, denied rumors in the
Chisinau media that he has been dismissed from his post, BASA-Press reported on
24 July. Yevnevich said rumors that he was appointed Russian military
attaché in China were untrue. He said he had done nothing to warrant
being dismissed. * Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN ENERGY CRISIS POSTPONED.
Following a visit to Moscow, Prime
Minister Andrei Sangheli told Moldova suverana that he reached an
agreement to postpone for seven years the repayment of the $140 million
Moldovan debt to Russia for fuel delivery arrears in 1994-1995. Sangheli said
that energy used in 1996, however, must be paid for. He said the Dniester
region's debts were separated from Chisinau's, and that cooperation was
underway with Ukraine and Russia to restore Moldovan membership into the Common
Energy System, BASA-Press reported on 23 July. Sangheli met in Crimea with
Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma to discuss ensuring normal coal deliveries to
Moldova for the winter, as well as other issues of cooperation, Infotag
reported on 24 July. * Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS INSIST ON PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
Socialist Party (BSP) continues to defy a Constitutional Court ruling
effectively barring the BSP candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, from
seeking the presidency. The court ruled he is not a Bulgarian citizen by birth
as required by the constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1996).
The BSP daily Duma on 25 July reported that the BSP Supreme Council will
back Pirinski, and that Pirinski pledged to stay on. According to 24
chasa, Pirinski is the only BSP candidate who can win the presidential
elections, and the BSP hopes for a more favorable outcome if the Constitutional
Court should rule on the concrete case of Pirinski's citizenship. But
Standart reported that the BSP is considering an alternative candidate,
probably Parliament Chairman Blagovest Sendov. Pirinski has not commented. *
BULGARIA, UKRAINE SIGN ACCORDS.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko
promised to sell wheat, coal, and natural gas to Bulgaria during an official
two-day visit concluded on 24 July, Bulgarian and Western media reported.
Bulgaria is suffering from a grain crisis and is short on energy. The supplies
of wheat and coal are to be negotiated, while Lazarenko and his Bulgarian
counterpart, Zhan Videnov, in principle agreed on a natural gas shipment of 2
million cubic tons in exchange for Ukrainian debts to Bulgaria. The two sides
signed eight bilateral agreements, including a consular treaty and an accord on
military production, research, and marketing to other countries. Lazarenko
asked Videnov to liberalize Bulgaria's trade regime and work toward free trade
and double taxation agreements between Ukraine and Bulgaria. He said he hopes
Bulgaria and Ukraine will reach their 1992 trade level of $500 million by the
end of this year. * Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN COURT REVOKES DEATH SENTENCES.
The Court of Appeal dropped the
death sentences of former communist deputy Interior Minister Zylyftar Ramizi,
General Prosecutor Mino Rrapi, and Supreme Court head Aranit Cela. The three
had been sentenced on 24 May for crimes against humanity. The appeals court,
led by Prel Martini, reduced the sentences to life imprisonment for Ramizi and
25-year terms for the others. For former Parliamentary President Haxhi Lleshi
and deputy Prime Minister Manush Myftiu, their life sentences were reduced to
five years each. * Fabian Schmidt
DATE SET FOR ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
After Albanian president Sali
Berisha decreed that local elections will be held on 20 October, opposition
parties tried to ensure successful talks with the ruling Democratic Party. On
22 July, the Socialists met with six other opposition parties to discuss how to
ensure free elections. Another issue was the significance of round-table talks
between the Democrats and the Socialists. The Center Pole coalition criticized
the Socialists for holding isolated talks, Republika reported on 25
July. ButKoha Jone reported that the Center Pole supported the
Socialists after a meeting with the Socialist's leadership committee on 24
July. They decided new general elections should be the opposition's main
objective. * Fabian Schmidt