YELTSIN FILLS OUT ADMINISTRATION.
President Boris Yeltsin appointed
Yevgenii Savostyanov, Maksim Boiko, and Aleksei Kudrin as deputies to Chief of
Staff Anatolii Chubais on 1 August, at Chubais' recommendation, ITAR-TASS
reported. Savostyanov, who will be in charge of personnel, was a democratic
activist who was appointed to head the Moscow office of the KGB (and its
successor organizations) from 1991 to 1994. Yeltsin fired Savostyanov after the
clash between the presidential security service and Most Bank guards in
December 1994. Boiko will coordinate the administration's ties with political
parties and social groups. Kudrin, former first deputy to former St. Petersburg
Mayor Anatolii Sobchak covering economic issues, will head the president's
oversight department, following socio-economic developments in the regions. --
KREMLIN PREPARES STRATEGY FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS.
administration has started developing strategies to try to prevent the
Communists winning the forthcoming gubernatorial elections. The 31 July edition
of Nezavisimaya gazeta published a document prepared by Kremlin analysts
which outlines the main directions for the regional campaign. It suggests that
the president should keep his personal involvement in the campaign to a
minimum, and should avoid clashes with incumbent governors prior to the
elections. The document also proposes making a careful selection of incumbent
governors to be supported for reelection while trying to eliminate the
influence of various Kremlin clans on this selection. Since Yeltsin has no
party of his own, the document says, he should run his campiagn out of the Our
Home Is Russia's regional branches. -- Anna Paretskaya
STUDY ANALYSES RUSSIANS' FEELINGS ABOUT DEMOCRACY.
freedom of the press and free elections of their leadership as the most
important kinds of freedom, winning 18% each in a poll of 1509 voters conducted
at the end of May by the Central Electoral Commission, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 1 August. Regarding the form of government Russia should
have, 48% support the current presidential republic, while 11% prefer a
parliamentary democracy and 21% want a republic of soviets. 59% support using
free elections to elect their leaders, while 5% prefer that they be named from
above. 22% would prefer a mixed system of elections and appointments. 68%
believe that elections can change the situation for the better. Only 20%
consider themselves members of political parties, and 56% of these are
communists. -- Robert Orttung
TALKS ON BLACK SEA FLEET MAKE NO PROGRESS.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister
Hennadii Udovenko met in Moscow on 1 August with his Russian counterpart
Yevgenii Primakov, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, and presidential
foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Ryurikov told ITAR-TASS that no progress had been made yet on resolving the
issue of the Black Sea Fleet, which continues to block the signing of a
long-delayed bilateral friendship treaty. -- Scott Parrish
OFFICIAL NEWSPAPER TERMS ALLEGATIONS OF CIA PLOT PLAUSIBLE.
newspaper of the Presidential Administration, Rossiiskie vesti,
published an article on 31 July contending that recent allegations by Duma
Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin of a CIA plot to overthrow
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka are "plausible." Although other
government officials and most Moscow media ridiculed Ilyukhin's allegations,
the paper asserted that while they were unverifiable, his charges "fit
entirely" with current plans to expand NATO eastward and isolate Russia with a
"cordon sanitaire." It also argued that the allegations were consistent with
what it termed an American policy aimed at minimizing Russian influence in the
other former Soviet republics. Meanwhile, Nezavisimaya gazeta, which had
earlier lent credence to Ilyukin's charges, on 2 August published two
additional articles suggesting that the allegations have some substance. --
RUSSIA SKIPS PFP EXERCISE DUE TO LACK OF FUNDS.
Russia will not send
even a single observer to an upcoming 12-30 August Partnership for Peace (PfP)
exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Izvestiya reported on 1
August. Defense Ministry officials said that as they have no budget funds for
PfP operations, so cannot afford to participate. Russia did take part in PfP
maneuvers near Lviv, Ukraine, this June, but only because the United States
paid some $40,000 to cover the transportation costs of the Russian
participants. The Defense Ministry blames the Finance Ministry for the
situation, saying that although President Yeltsin has ordered the release of
funds for PfP exercises, the Finance Ministry has failed to disburse them. --
KOVALEV CLAIMS CHECHENS PREPARING DUDAEV DOUBLE.
counter-intelligence director Nikolai Kovalev on 1 August attributed rumors
that Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudaev is still alive and will return to
Chechnya on 2 August to plans by his supporters to produce a double, Russian
media reported. Kovalev, speaking at a press conference in Moscow , also
claimed that a group of Chechen fighters led by field commander Ruslan
Khaikharoev are planning terrorist acts in the Russian Federation in order to
draw Dagestan and North Ossetiya into the conflict. Chechen Security Council
secretary Ruslan Tsakaev stated that reports of an attempt on 29 July to kill
chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov were untrue and had been circulated to bolster
Maskhadov's standing in advance of his planned meeting with the commander of
the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, according to
ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller
COURT SENTENCES BUS HIJACKERS; MAN DETAINED IN LISTEV CASE.
Stavropol Krai court on 1 August convicted three Chechens in connection with
the hijacking of a bus near Mineralnye Vody in May 1994, ITAR-TASS reported.
Four men stormed the bus, demanding $10 million, drugs, arms, and a helicopter
in exchange for freeing the hostages on board. The hijackers' demands were met,
but three of the men were arrested when the helicopter landed in Chechnya; they
were each sentenced to 15 years imprisonment last year. The fourth, captured
later, has now also received a 15-year term. The other two men convicted
yesterday were sentenced to 12 years for supplying weapons to the gang. Also on
1 August, the Georgian security minister confirmed that a man has been detained
on suspicion of organizing the murder of TV star Vladislav Listev on 1 March
1995. -- Penny Morvant
IZVESTIYA MAKES NEW CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS.
In the latest of a
spate of articles on corruption, Izvestiya on 1 August accused the
Russian coal association Rosugol of squandering 1.2 billion rubles ($235,000)
on a fund to support the poor and the unemployed. The fund, located on Rosugol
premises, received money from the association for scientific research projects.
It then contracted out the work to false companies, which the tax police found
to be registered to people who had at some point lost their passports and had
no idea of the firms' existence. The money disappeared. Rosugol President Yurii
Malyshev denied any wrongdoing, Radio Rossii reported. -- Penny Morvant
LACK OF ALTERNATIVE MILITARY SERVICE LAMENTED.
In an interview with
Trud on 1 August, Institute of Religious Rights Director Anatolii
Pchelintsev commented on the failure to resolve the question of alternative
military service--something that is guaranteed by the constitution but for
which there is no legal mechanism. He argues that the current situation means
that many draftees end up performing no service, since many courts,
particularly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, show understanding toward
conscientious objectors. In the spring the Duma Defense Committee recommended
against an alternative service bill prepared by liberal deputies. He then
criticized a new draft prepared by the Communists that envisages a four-year
term of service to be performed on Defense Ministry construction sites rather
than in hospitals or other social services. The total number of conscientious
objectors in 1995 exceeded 23,000. -- Penny Morvant
NAZDRATENKO THREATENS FOREIGN RELIGIOUS GROUPS...
Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko threatened on 1 August to banish members of Sun
Myung Moon's Unification Church and various other religious groups active in
the region, Reuters reported. "I want to warn activists of foreign religions,"
he said on television, "that if religious psychoses happen again while I am
leader... I will employ the police force to throw them out." Many foreign
religious groups, including Hare Krishna and the Church of Christ, are active
in the region. Moon's church is reported to be particularly active in the
education sphere. -- Penny Morvant
... AND VISITS POWER STATION.
Also on 1 August Nazdratenko visited the
Primorskii power station, where more than 300 workers have been on hunger
strike for nine days to protest a five-month delay in the payment of their
wages. He handed over an interest-free credit of 5 billion rubles from the
Russian Savings Bank, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency added that miners at 14
mines in the region are continuing to strike (earlier reports had put the
figure at 15) despite the transfer of about 50 billion rubles from Moscow. Work
has also stopped at 17 mines belonging to the Rostovugol company in southern
Russia. -- Penny Morvant
OILMEN TURN DOWN FOREIGN LOANS.
Kogalymneftegaz, a subsidiary of Lukoil,
has declared that it will not take up the remaining $130 million of the $272
million loan it received from the World Bank back in 1993, Segodnya
reported on 1 August. Earlier Purneftegaz, part of Rosneft, also refused
$80 million of the $174 million credit it was granted by the EBRD. The
companies complain that high taxes and transport costs make it unprofitable to
invest in new oil wells even with the favorable loan terms offered by
international institutions. A bill lifting the tariffs on imports of equipment
paid for by international loans (one of the main complaints of the oil
companies) was passed by the Duma last month. (See OMRI Daily Digest 22
July). State Investments Corporation Deputy Chairman Boris Furmanov said that
Russia is expected to attract only some $1.6 to 2 billion of foreign direct
investment in 1996, Finansovye Izvestiya reported on 1 August. -- Peter
INFLATION ONLY 0.7% IN JULY.
Consumer prices rose by only 0.7% in July,
down from 1.2% in June, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August, citing the State
Statistical Committee (Goskomstat). Inflation in the first seven months of 1996
was 16.4%, compared to 87.5% over the same period last year. Annual inflation
in 1996 may be as low as 20% if the current trend continues. However, this
reduction in inflation has come against a background of a continuing fall in
living standards and GDP -- which fell 5% in the first half of the year,
Reuters reported on 15 July. -- Natalia Gurushina
CROP IMPORTS STILL POSSIBLE.
Official projections put Russia's 1996
grain harvest at 73-77 million metric tons, up from 63.4 million tons in 1995,
but down from an average of 88 million tons in the early 1990s, Reuters
reported on 1 August. Much of Russia is currently experiencing a drought. The
International Grains Council (London) predicts that Russia will need to import
around 1.5 million tons this year. -- Natalia Gurushina
KVIRAYA DENIES ALLEGING RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT IN WOODRUFF MURDER.
Minister for National Security Shota Kviraya on 1 August denied ever having
claimed that the murder in August 1993 near Tbilisi of U.S. diplomat Fred
Woodruff was instigated by Russian intelligence, ITAR-TASS reported. Kviraya
said that a statement to this effect attributed to him, which was circulated on
25 July by Noyan Tapan, was aimed at undermining relations between the Russian
and Georgian security services. -- Liz Fuller
ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS.
Businessman Yuri Mkrtchyan,
one of10 candidates who announced their intention to contest the 22 September
Armenian presidential election, has withdrawn, protesting that the pre-election
campaign is "unfair and immoral", Noyan Tapan reported on 1 August. Other
candidates and opposition political organizations have repeatedly claimed that
the electoral law, although apparently democratic, gives an unfair advantage to
incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan, who is seeking reelection. -- Liz Fuller
AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS ARRESTS.
First Deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov
and Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia Ramiz Rzayev met Russian Deputy Prime
Minister Aleksei Bolshakov and Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov to
discuss the recent wave of arrests of Caucasians in Moscow, Turan reported on
30 July, as monitored by the BBC. Some 4,000 Azerbaijani citizens have been
arrested over the past week. Bolshakov also talked to Azerbaijani President
Heydar Aliyev by phone, trying to reassure him that the operations were not
targetting Azerbaijanis. -- Peter Rutland
KYRGYZSTAN AND IRAN SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS.
In a sign of further
cooperation between their countries, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov and
Iranian Vice President Hasan Habibi on 31 July signed several economic accords,
according to Kyrgyz Television First Channel monitored by the BBC. The
agreements include mutual investment protection, cooperation in industry, and
trade and transportation. Among the first fruits of industrial cooperation will
be the establishment of a factory in the northern Kyrgyz city of Tokmak to
produce minibuses and later automobiles. The accord on trade and transportation
allows direct air links between Bishkek and Tehran, and Bishkek and Meshhed.
Kyrgyzstan will receive 200,000-300,000 tons of crude oil beginning in 1997 and
in turn will export meat to Iran. -- Bruce Pannier
BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES SAY ASYLUM CLAIMS UNFOUNDED.
Foreign Ministry has denied claims by opposition leaders Zyanon Paznyak and
Syarhei Naumchyk that they face the threat of political or physical prosecution
in Belarus, Belarusian media reported. The two applied for political asylum in
the U.S. earlier this week on the grounds that they feared for their safety if
they returned to Belarus. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko said that Belarus
protects civil rights and freedoms and that Paznyak and Naumchyk's allegations
should be treated with caution. He said the two had applied for political
asylum to undermine President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and create problems between
the U.S. and Belarus. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM UPDATE.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said
Belarusian citizens will know the precise wording of his proposed referendum
questions by the fall, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August. The referendum will deal
with several issues, including delineating the powers of the parliament and
president and amending the constitution so that the president can be removed
from his post only in the event of his changing citizenship. Lukashenka also
said there will probably be a question on changing the public holiday marking
the republic's declaration of independence from 27 July to the day Belarus was
liberated from the Germans during WW II. The proposed referendum will cost
about $2 million. In other news, Minsk Prosecutor Mikalai Kupryysnau said he
has not heard any official reports on the reported exchange of seven Ukrainians
detained in Belarus for Russians border guards held by Chechens. Such a swap,
he said, would be "legal nonsense." -- Ustina Markus
IMF GRANTS FOURTH STAND-BY TRANCHE TO UKRAINE.
The IMF has granted the
fourth tranche of a $867 million stand-by credit to Ukraine, Reuters and AFP
reported on 1 August. The tranche, worth $100 million, was granted after the
IMF Board of Directors gave a positive assessment of Ukraine's adherence to IMF
guidelines on budget deficit and money supply. The decision comes in the wake
of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko's meetings with IMF officials during his
visit to the U.S. -- Ustina Markus
DEATH PENALTY IN UKRAINE TO BE PHASED OUT?
Vitalii Boyko, chief justice
of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, has said his court plans to propose amendments
to Ukraine's Criminal Code to reduce the number of crimes carrying the death
sentence, UNIAR reported on 1 August. He said this move is a step toward
phasing out capital punishment. Some 22 categories of crime now carry the death
penalty, including treason, premeditated murder, attempted assassination of
public and foreign officials. Seventeen of those categories, however, apply
only to military servicemen under martial law or in combat. The chief justice
emphasized that there was no moratorium on capital punishment in the country,
as has been reported by the media. He noted that both he and the court favor
abolishing the death penalty, but he added that the public needed convincing,
mainly through combating crime. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINE EXPECTS POOR GRAIN HARVEST.
Ukrainian officials have predicted
that owing to lengthy dry spells and the poor financial state of the
agricultural sector, this year's grain harvest will fall to 27.5 million tons,
Kievskie vedomosti reported on 1 August. This would amount to 2 million
tons below last year's harvest and would be on par with 1958-59 levels. Meat
and dairy production so far this year have fallen by 12% and 5%, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Statistics Ministry reported that the number of private farms in
the country has risen by 488 to 35,300 but that farming in Ukraine is still
mainly owned by the state or heavily-subsidized collectives. -- Chrystyna
RUSSIA TO PROTECT INTERESTS OF ACTIVIST EXPELLED FROM ESTONIA.
Russian lawyer Boris Kuznetsov will soon travel to Tallinn to prepare the case
of Russian ultranationalist Petr Rozhok who was expelled from Estonia in the
spring of 1995, BNS reported on 1 August, The Citizenship and Migration
Department expelled Rozhok, former representative in Estonia of
ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, for
anti-constitutional and subversive activities against the state. A Tallinn
administrative court in February ruled that his expulsion was legal. Kuznetsov
will represent Rozhok in a lawsuit in the Tallinn regional court in September.
Aleksandr Udaltsov, Russian Foreign Ministry official in charge of relations
with Baltic States, said the ministry will defend the interests of Rozhok as a
Russian citizen and that it helped obtain Kuznetsov's assistance. Kuznetsov
noted that Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed has promised his
assistance and has said that defending the interests of Russian citizens abroad
was an important aspect of bolstering the country's security, ITAR-TASS
reported on 31 July. -- Saulius Girnius
NEW HEAD OF LATVIAN BORDER TALKS DELEGATION.
Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Maris Riekstins will replace Foreign Ministry State Minister Juris
Sinka as head of the Latvian delegation for sea border talks with Lithuania,
BNS reported on 1 August. Riekstins recently negotiated the settlement of the
sea border between Estonia and Latvia. Sinka noted that Latvia was more
interested than Lithuania in reaching an agreement because two foreign oil
companies that signed oil exploration contracts with Latvia in 1995 can
terminate contracts if no border agreement is reached by 31 October. The next
round of border talks is scheduled for 20 August. -- Saulius Girnius
PROPOSAL TO STRENGTHEN LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTIAL POWERS.
Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) on 1 August proposed that a referendum on
increasing the powers of the president be held at the same time as the October
parliamentary elections, Radio Lithuania reported. The proposal would allow the
president to call early parliament elections if the Seimas failed to approve
the government program within 30 days of its submission or rejects the
candidates for prime minister proposed by the president three consecutive
times. The president would also be given the right to appoint and remove the
foreign, interior, and defense ministers and would have more power over the
courts. -- Saulius Girnius
CHECHNYA ROUNDTABLE IN POLISH CAPITAL.
The Chechnya Round
Table--organized by the Chechen Information Center in Cracow--convened in
Warsaw on 1 August, Polish and international media reported. Representatives of
the Chechen independence movement as well politicians and human rights
activists from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, and Great Britain were present. The
round table's goal is to increased international awareness of the conflict,
draft memorandums to the UN, and the Council of Europe, and make preparations
for a conference in London later this year on settling the conflict. Former
Polish President Lech Walesa has sent a letter to Nobel Prize winners asking
them to help end the war in Chechnya. -- Jakub Karpinski
SLOVAK COALITION PARTY CONSIDERS WITHDRAWAL FROM TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Slovak National Party (SNS) spokesman Rafael Rafaj on 1 August told TASR that
"a proposal for withdrawing from the basic Slovak-Hungarian treaty is currently
being examined by our experts." The SNS said Hungary violated the treaty when
it called for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries at
last month's ethnic Hungarian summit in Budapest. Slovakia has already summoned
the Hungarian ambassador to Slovakia and delivered an "aide-memoire" to foreign
diplomats to inform them of Slovakia's dissatisfaction with the summit's
conclusions. "If [the treaty] has been violated, there is no sense in extending
it further," SNS Deputy Chairman Jozef Sedovic told Nove Slovo. The word
"autonomy" was not defined in the summit's declaration, but the Hungarian
government said later that it was referring neither to territorial nor ethnic
autonomy. -- Sharon Fisher
PRIVATIZATION IN SLOVAKIA.
The National Property Fund (FNM) on 1 August
privatized 40 firms through direct sales, Narodna obroda reported.
Several key firms were sold, including the construction company Hydrostav
Bratislava and the printing firm Danubiaprint Bratislava. The FNM approved the
sales, despite an agreement between Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and the
opposition Party of the Democratic Left, guaranteeing that privatization would
be halted until the composition of the FNM boards is changed to include
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1996).
FNM Presidium President Stefan Gavornik said several ministers pressured him to
continue privatizing. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Meciar's party told Reuters on
1 August that talks will soon begin with the opposition aimed at bringing "more
consensus" in the parliament. -- Sharon Fisher
KEY WITNESS IN SLOVAK KIDNAPPING CASE TO GAIN ASYLUM.
A former Slovak
Information Service (SIS) agent who said he participated in the abduction of
the Slovak president's son told the RFE/RL Slovak Service on 31 July that he
will soon gain asylum in an unnamed foreign country. Oskar Fegyveres, who for
months has been in hiding and fearing for his life, said "in a few days I will
be safe." He noted that he is willing to be questioned further but only after
"democracy wins in Slovakia and people like [Prime Minister] Vladimir Meciar
and [SIS] chief Ivan Lexa are toppled and punished for their actions."
Fegyveres also blamed the SIS for the death in a car explosion of his friend
Robert Remias. Two people who have taken over Remias's role as Fegyveres's link
with Slovakia are being followed by the same SIS agents who shadowed Remias,
Fegyveres claimed. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN TELEVISION HEAD NOMINATED.
The Presidium of the Board of
Trustees of Hungarian Television (MTV) has nominated Istvan Petak, editor in
chief for regional programs, as president of MTV, Hungarian media reported on 1
August. The vote was the third attempt in two months to appoint a TV head.
Petak's nomination has still to be approved by the full Board of Trustees. The
MTV corporation is to run Hungary's two state-owned TV channels. Petak said he
is neither an opposition nor a pro-government candidate, but rather is neutral.
Earlier this year, Istvan Hajdu was elected president of Hungarian Radio. The
media law, passed last December, required the election of media heads by
August. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
KORNBLUM DECLARES ABOLITION OF HERCEG-BOSNA.
U.S. envoy for
Bosnia-Herzegovina John Kornblum on 31 July announced that Bosnian Muslim and
Croat officials have agreed to end the existence of Herceg-Bosna, Onasa
reported on 1 August. Following talks with Croats in Mostar, Kornblum said the
Croatian side expressed willingness to stop obstructing reunification of the
town. Meanwhile, Bozo Raic, president of the ruling Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ), on 1 August appealed to Alija Izetbegovic, head of the Muslim
ruling Party of Democratic Action (SDA), to organize a brainstorming session to
discuss ways to improve the running of the Bosnian Federation. -- Daria Sito
REBEL CROATIAN SERBS THREATEN TERRORIST CAMPAIGNS.
Rebel Croatian Serbs
have pledged to conduct a campaign of terror against Croatia in response to
Croatian authorities' reclaiming the so-called Krajina region following the
August 1995 military campaign. The self-proclaimed Krajina Liberation Army--in
a fax published by the Belgrade daily Dnevni telegraf on 1 August and
also sent to former Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic and Croatian refugee
groups throughout the former Yugoslavia--says that Croatia's victory will be
celebrated "henceforth in [Croatian] blood wherever [Croats] gather." It also
aims to wage a terror campaign against "Serbian traitors." The group has taken
responsibility for the bombing on 26 July of Croatia's largest agricultural and
military equipment production plant. The explosion caused extensive damage to
the facility. -- Stan Markotich
UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN MANDATE IN CROATIA.
The UN Security
Council on 30 July extended the mandate of 100 UN military monitors (UNTAES) in
eastern Slavonia,--the last Serb-held part of Croatia--for another six months,
Hina reported. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali, in a report to the
Security Council on the implementation of the UNTAES mandate, underscored the
necessity for military monitors to remain in the area in order to strengthen
that mandate following the demilitarization of eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and
Western Srijem. -- Daria Sito Sucic
208 SUICIDES IN SARAJEVO SINCE OUTBREAK OF WAR.
The Sarajevo police
force says it registered 208 cases of suicide in Sarajevo between April 1992
and June 1996, Onasa reported on 1 August. Of those, 86 cases were reported in
the Bosnian Federation during the past six months. Ninety-seven of those who
committed suicide were over 50 and nine under 18. -- Daria Sito Sucic
BELGRADE HINDERS REGISTRATION OF REFUGEE VOTERS.
The Helsinki Committee
on Human Rights has said that three refugees from Sarajevo have alleged that
Belgrade authorities barred them from registering for the 14 September Bosnian
elections, Onasa reported on 31 July. Beta says that the three refugees were
prevented from registering to vote in the towns from where they came. There are
a growing number of reports that Belgrade officials are increasingly reluctant
to provide registration forms to refugees whose home in Bosnia is now under
Bosnian government or Federation control. Instead, those officials are
pressuring refugees to accept voter registration in the Bosnian Serb-controlled
Republika Srpska. Meanwhile, Onasa reported that rump Yugoslav authorities have
officially extended the period in which refugees can register to vote until 4
August. -- Stan Markotich
MONTENEGRIN ELECTION UPDATE.
Following the expiry of the 30 July
deadline, a total of 33 political parties and formations had registered to run
in Montenegro's republican elections, scheduled for the fall, Montena-fax
reported. Voters will elect 71 parliamentary deputies in 14 districts through a
proportional representation system. Before recent controversial changes to the
election law, Montenegro had only a single constituency and a legislature
composed of 85 deputies. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIAN REFINERY WORKERS STAGE WARNING STRIKE.
Some 40,000 workers from
state-run oil refineries on 1 August staged a two-hour warning strike to demand
job security and higher pay, Radio Bucharest reported. The workers, whose
average monthly wage, amounts to 380,000 lei ($120) are pressing for a 25%
increase. Many fear they will lose their jobs, since the refineries are
currently operating at only 30% of their capacity. The oil-processing industry
has registered a deficit of 700 billion lei (some $225 million) so far this
year. The strikers have accused the government of keeping the prices of oil
products low, despite increasing costs of imported oil. They have also
threatened to launch a general strike on 7 August if heir demands are not met.
The government has responded to their protest by announcing that a National Oil
Company will be set up to supervise the sector. -- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIAN POLITICAL UPDATE.
The National Liberal Party led by Radu
Campeanu and "The Ecologists" party on 1 August signed a protocol establishing
a National Liberal-Ecologist Alliance, Radio Bucharest reported. The alliance
will nominate a candidate for the November presidential election on 7 August.
The recently created National Liberal Alliance has said it will nominate its
presidential candidate on 11 August. Observers of the Romanian political arena
believe that the alliance's candidate will be Nicolae Manolescu, chairman of
the Civic Alliance Party. In a separate development, the National Liberal Party
led by Mircea Ionescu-Quintus has announced it will set up a commission to
negotiate its merger with the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention. --
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VETOES MEDIA LAW.
Zhelyu Zhelev on 1 August returned
the recently adopted media law to the parliament for further debate, 24
chasa reported. Zhelev said he objects to the Radio and TV Law in general
as well as certain provisions. One of the most disputed provisions is the
creation of a National Radio and TV Council to oversee media operations and
elect the director-generals of state radio and TV. That body will also be
empowered to cancel programs and suspend licenses. Seven members will be
appointed by the parliament and two each by the president and the government.
Zhelev also said the composition of the council endangers objective coverage of
state institutions by both private and state-run media, noting that under the
constitution they should be free and autonomous institutions. If Zhelev's
objections are overruled, he can ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the
law. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIA TIGHTENS FOREIGN CURRENCY REGIME.
A decree dated 31 July,
published in a special issue of Darzhaven vestnik, tightens the
country's foreign exchange regime, Pari reported on 2 August. The move
contradicts a 16 July Supreme Court ruling liberalizing that regime by allowing
domestic trade in foreign currency. The decree lists 14 instances in which such
currency may be exported via the banking system, including to import goods and
to repay debts. Exporting foreign currency for investments abroad must be
approved by the national bank and Finance Ministry. Meanwhile, in a poll
published in Pari on 2 August, 76.5% of the respondents said the
situation in Bulgaria will worsen, while only 3.7% said it will improve. --
Michael Wyzan and Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN INDEPENDENT DAILY GRANTED LOAN.
The Media Development Loan Fund
has granted Koha Jone a $135,000 loan to help it avoid insolvency,
international agencies reported on 1 August. The credit comes with annual
interest rate of 2% and is due for repayment in April 1997. High printing
expenses and debts forced Koha Jone to close down for some days in July.
As part of the agreement, the owners of Koha Jone pledged to restructure
the daily to boost its efficiency. Other Albanian newspapers strongly
criticized the loan, saying it damages free competition. In protest, they
printed a blank page on 26 July. -- Stefan Krause