DAGESTANI FINANCE MINISTER KILLED BY CAR BOMB.
Minister Gamid Gamidov was killed by a powerful car bomb that exploded outside
the finance ministry building in Makhachkala on 20 August, ITAR-TASS reported.
Gamidov was standing in the entrance to the building when the bomb exploded.
Another three people were reported killed and dozens injured. Gamidov, an
entrepreneuer, was elected to the Duma in December, but resigned his seat in
order to take over the finance ministry in Dagestan. He attracted some
investment to the republic, built a series of industrial enterprises, and set
up several commercial banks. -- Robert Orttung
FEDERAL COMMANDER WARNS CIVILIANS TO LEAVE GROZNY . . .
The commander of
federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, late on 19 August
ordered all civilians to evacuate Grozny within 48 hours, Russian and Western
agencies reported. While denying that he was issuing an ultimatum, Pulikovskii
said he "reserved the right" to launch an all-out artillery and aerial
bombardment of separatist positions in the city after this deadline passed.
Signaling that the Russian military are unwilling to accept their humiliating
defeat in the recent Grozny fighting, Pulikovskii added early on 20 August that
he saw no alternative to using force to resolve the current situation in
Grozny, AFP reported. Sporadic fighting continued on 19 August, although a
fragile truce seemed to be generally holding. But on the morning of 20 August,
Pulikovskii announced that federal artillery had begun to bombard separatist
positions in the city. -- Scott Parrish
. . . WHILE LEBED OPPOSES BOMBARDMENT OF GROZNY.
Secretary and presidential representative in Chechnya Aleksandr Lebed said on
19 August that he opposes the resumption of air strikes in Grozny, ITAR-TASS
reported. Speaking after a meeting with pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku
Zavgaev, Lebed underlined his view that the Chechen conflict can only be
resolved through peaceful means. On 20 August, Lebed said he would fly to
Grozny the same day to take "extraordinary measures" to resolve the renewed
tension there. He also declared that resolving the conflict was more important
than either "my personal ambitions or those of [Interior Minister Anatolii]
Kulikov." -- Scott Parrish
YELTSIN TELLS LEBED TO RESTORE ORDER IN GROZNY.
secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii announced on 19 August that President Yeltsin
has ordered Lebed to "restore the order that prevailed" in Grozny before 5
August, when the latest Chechen separatist offensive began, Russian and Western
agencies reported. He specifically instructed Lebed to "free government
buildings, checkpoints, and places where Russian units are posted" in Grozny,
many of which are currently encircled by separatist fighters, but also told him
to observe the terms of the earlier peace agreements signed in Narzan and
Moscow. He also ordered Lebed to present a plan for resolving the Chechen
crisis by 26 August. Yastrzhembskii added that Yeltsin had not met with or
spoken to Lebed since his return from Chechnya, when the Security Council
secretary unsuccessfully demanded the sacking of Interior Minister Anatolii
Kulikov (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 August 1996). -- Scott Parrish
REACTION TO LEBED-KULIKOV DISPUTE.
Commentators have interpreted
Yeltsin's treatment of Lebed since the Security Council secretary
unsuccessfully demanded the ouster of hard-line Interior Minister Anatolii
Kulikov as a sign that the president supports Kulikov's position on Chechnya,
Russian media reported on 20 August. Pavel Felgengauer, military correspondent
for Segodnya, described the conflict between Lebed and Kulikov as a
"typical Russian bureaucratic duel," adding that he expected both men to remain
in the government. Pro-communist Pravda-5 suggested that the Chechen
separatists would be the only winners of the bureaucratic conflict in Moscow.
-- Scott Parrish
YELTSIN TAKES TWO DAYS TO CHECK OUT VACATION SITE.
President Yeltsin has
taken two days off to fly to Valdai, a lake region 200 miles northwest of
Moscow, to determine whether he would like to spend a longer vacation there,
his press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii announced on 20 August. Yeltsin is
expected to return to Moscow later this week for consultations with the members
of his new government, ITAR-TASS reported. Ekho Moskvy claimed that Yeltsin has
been hospitalized since 15 August with heart trouble, but Yastrzhembskii called
the report "utterly absurd," AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung
OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN SPENDING FIGURES RELEASED.
Yeltsin spent 3 billion
rubles more than his communist challenger Gennadii Zyuganov during the
presidential campaign, according to figures released by the Central Electoral
Commission, Kommersant-Daily reported on 20 August. Yeltsin spent 14.4
billion rubles ($2.7 million) while Zyuganov used 11.3 billion ($2.1 million).
Yeltsin spent about 10.3 billion rubles on TV and radio, while Zyuganov only
bought 1.5 billion rubles worth of air time. Zyuganov concentrated his
resources on the print media and flyers. Both candidates received most of their
money from corporate contributions and stayed within the legal limit of 14.5
billion rubles. Few believe that these officially reported figures reflect
actual campaign expenditures. -- Robert Orttung
JOURNALISTS SEEK WAY TO END CHECHEN WAR . . .
In its 15-21 August issue,
Obshchaya gazeta polled a number of Russian newspaper editors asking if
they thought that journalists should unite to press for an immediate halt to
the Chechen war, a pullout of troops, and granting Chechnya independence. Some,
like Moskovskii komsomolets Editor Pavel Gusev, fully supported the
idea. Komsomolskaya pravda's Valerii Simonov doubted the ability of the
journalists to unite, while Nezavisimaya gazeta's Vitalii Tretyakov
backed the idea of pressing for an immediate halt to the war, but questioned
whether an immediate troop withdrawal was a realistic option. Vladimir Volin of
Megapolis-Ekspress said that some sort of journalist action was needed,
but could think of nothing that would get the government's attention.
Obshchaya gazeta itself originated as a common newspaper put out by
journalists opposed to the August 1991 coup. -- Robert Orttung
. . . AND BEGIN PLANNING FIRST ACTIONS.
An organizing committee that
grew out of the Obshchaya gazeta publication held its first meeting on
19 August, ITAR-TASS reported. Several newspapers are planning to call for a
mass demonstration against the war in Chechnya in Moscow in September.
Obshchaya gazeta is also planning to publish a broadsheet containing the
opinions of ordinary people about the war. The newspaper first appeared during
the days of the 1991 coup when it united the efforts of several publications
banned by the coup makers. It also united the efforts of numerous journalists
to put together a special edition on the day Dmitrii Kholodov, a Moskovskii
komsomolets reporter murdered while investigating corruption in the
military, was buried. -- Robert Orttung
MUTED CELEBRATION ON COUP ANNIVERSARY.
No more than 50 people, carrying
banners saying "Communism is dead," gathered outside the Russian White House to
mark the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the failed putsch attempt, AFP
reported on 19 August. Due to the lack of state finance, organizers gave up
plans for pompous celebrations and had to be content with a modest march by
defenders of the White House, the bastion of resistance to the Communist coup
plotters, and sporting competitions. Likewise, a concert initially planned to
take place on Red Square was moved behind St. Basil's Cathedral, a decision
that led to most artists scheduled to perform pulling out. -- Anna Paretskaya
DEPUTY WARNS MILITARY IS IN "EXPLOSIVE" SITUATION.
At a Moscow press
conference, Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin said that deteriorating
living conditions in the military had created an "explosive situation" in which
more and more servicemen are openly expressing discontent, ITAR-TASS reported.
He said that the military is now owed 15 trillion rubles ($2.8 billion) by the
federal budget, and warned that military strike committees were forming.
Rokhlin added that 392 military personnel had died from various non-combat
related causes in 1995, noting that over one-third of them had committed
suicide, presumably because of atrocious working and living conditions.
Meanwhile, 30 soldiers from an internal troops unit in Perm Oblast deserted on
19 August, complaining of vicious hazing. A mother of one of the deserters told
Russian TV that the soldiers had fled the "unbearable, prison-like" atmosphere
of their unit, and would rather live in the woods than return. -- Scott
RUSSIA LEADS U.S. IN ARMS SALES TO DEVELOPING WORLD.
Congressional Research Service has calculated that Russian arms sales to the
developing world grew by an impressive 62% in 1995 and reached $6 billion,
outpacing the United States, which sold $3.8 billion in weapons to the same
countries, The New York Times reported on 20 August. Russia has thus
become the largest seller of arms to the developing world, the report said,
with China its biggest customer. Russian arms sales are difficult to calculate,
however, due to government secrecy, weak export controls, and a blurring
between signed contracts and actual deliveries. Also, Russia does not report
its conventional arms sales to the UN, as do many Western countries. All
sources agree that Russian arms exports surged in 1995, but the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has estimated that Russian arms
exports totaled $3.9 billion in 1995, while Russian officials have placed the
figure at about $2.5 billion. -- Scott Parrish
STRIKES OVER OVERDUE WAGES CONTINUE.
Four thousand employees of the
Sokol joint stock company went on strike on 19 August, demanding immediate
payment of wages they have not received since January, ITAR-TASS reported. The
enterprise in Belgorod is a leading military communication systems factory.
Meanwhile, miners of the Primorskii Krai Tsentralnaya pit continue their strike
to demand payment of wage arrears and the reversal of a decision to close down
the pit. According to the miners' trade union, wage debts to miners total about
3 trillion rubles ($550 million), while workers in all industries are owed a
total of 34 trillion rubles in back wages. -- Anna Paretskaya
YELTSIN ORDERS SPENDING CUTS . . .
President Yeltsin signed a package of
eight decrees on 19 August aimed at increasing taxes and cutting spending,
ITAR-TASS reported. The decrees abolished all presidential privileges and tax
breaks granted since the adoption of the 1996 federal budget, including most of
Yeltsin's pre-election promises. Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits said the
measures were worth 50 trillion rubles ($9.4 billion). However, some extra
spending plans were exempted from the freeze, including payment of pension
arrears, savings compensation for pensioners, funding for the Children of
Russia program, subsidies for the Nakhodka free economic zone, "and a few
others." The revenue-raising measures, including the imposition of VAT on
imports from Ukraine, had been widely discussed in recent weeks. -- Peter
. . . IMF TO APPROVE GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE.
According to Livshits, an
IMF team has completed its visit to Moscow and the IMF is expected to approve
the release of the delayed $340 million loan tranche from July, ITAR-TASS
reported on 19 August. Reuters quoted the IMF representative in Moscow, Thomas
Wolf, as saying that the mission "was reassured about the performance in July
and that the necessary revenue measures are being taken." IMF approval probably
has more to do with the promotion of sympathetic figures in the new government
than with the actual implementation of budget-balancing measures. -- Peter
PENSIONERS IN KAZAKHSTAN CHEATED.
The Kazakhstani Prosecutor General's
office discovered that pensioners and invalids have not been receiving all the
money allocated for them, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 August. President Nursultan
Nazarbayev signed a decree years ago, calculated on rising monthly wages, which
raised the pensions of persons who retired prior to 1 January 1992. However,
the Ministry of Social Maintenance was short of funds and slashed payments to
pensioners and invalids to make up the difference. Instead of receiving 700
tenge ($10) per month, people were getting 307 tenge. Back payments owed to
pensioners and invalids currently amount to more than 7 billion tenge. -- Bruce
TAVIL-DARA IN OPPOSITION HANDS.
Opposition forces occupied the central
Tajikistan town of Tavil-Dara on 17 August, Reuters reported. This was admitted
by a Tajik government representative to the group, Zafar Ikromov, who is
monitoring the ceasefire agreement. The Tajik Defense Ministry claims its
forces withdrew in order to prevent losses among the civilian population of the
town. -- Bruce Pannier
KYRGYZSTAN SEEKS TAJIK COOPERATION IN REFUGEE PROBLEM.
government has asked Tajik authorities to speed up the repatriation of Tajik
refugees in Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 August. Kyrgyz Minister of
Labor and Social Security Zafar Khakimov stated there are 15,000 Tajik refugees
registered in Kyrgyzstan, mainly in the Osh and Jalalabad areas. Khakimov said
the concentration of Tajik refugees in Kyrgyzstan's southern regions was
creating tensions, specifically in the Betken district, an area already
possessing a Tajik majority and still claimed by Dushanbe as belonging to
Tajikistan. -- Bruce Pannier
VELAYATI IN ASHGABAT.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati held
talks with his Turkmen counterpart Boris Shikhmuradov in Ashgabat on 19 August,
IRNA reported the same day. The two discussed the intensified conflict in
Tajikistan and ways to boost bilateral and regional cooperation. Velayati also
announced Tehran's plans to host a regional, foreign minister-level, peace
conference on Afghanistan tentatively scheduled for 28-29 October. Earlier this
week the beleaguered government in Kabul rejected a proposal submitted to the
UN Security Council by Pakistan and Uzbekistan to embargo the sale of arms to
any of the factions fighting in Afghanistan. -- Lowell Bezanis
TAIWANESE VICE PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE.
Taiwanese Vice President Lien Chan
has made a secret journey to Ukraine, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 20
August. Lien reportedly disappeared from New York on 18 August and flew to Kyiv
to meet with President Leonid Kuchma. Ukraine recognizes the People's Republic
of China, which has a strict policy against official recognition of Taiwan.
Last year, Beijing denounced the Czech Republic and Austria after Lien visited
those countries, and in 1992 China recalled its charge d'affaires from Latvia
because Riga had established consular relations with Taipei. Under pressure
from China, Latvia formally terminated consular ties with Taiwan in 1994.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister John Chang did not confirm that Lien was in Ukraine
but said the vice president was in a "third country." -- Ustina Markus
CRIMEAN ECONOMY CONTINUES TO DECLINE.
A Ukrainian government commission
headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets has found that the Crimean
economy has continued to deteriorate at a faster pace than most other regional
economies, Ukrainian TV reported on 17 August. The agriculture sector has the
worst record in output and sales. Ukrainian officials revealed that the Crimean
government had provided Kyiv with falsified reports enhancing grain-procurement
figures for the region's grain reserve. President Leonid Kuchma fired several
local officials as a result. Only the tourism sector has seen improvement, its
income increasing by 17% in the first six months of the year over the same
period last year. Durdynets admonished Crimean authorities for poorly
implementing budgetary policy, and he revealed a number of abuses and cases of
embezzlement involving officials in the Education, Social Welfare, and Culture
ministries. His commission also said the resettlement of exiled Tatars in
Crimea had virtually stopped because of local funding cuts. -- Chrystyna
CRIMEAN PARTIES REFUSE TO RE-REGISTER UNDER UKRAINIAN LAW.
pro-Russian political parties in Crimea have refused to re-register in
accordance with a Ukrainian law on public associations that acknowledges only
national parties, UNIAR reported on 16 August. The parties, including the
Rossiya bloc, have protested a recent order by the Justice Ministry that they
re-register under the conditions of the legislation or find themselves formally
outside the party system. They claim the law, which does not recognize regional
parties, violates their civil rights and Crimean autonomy. -- Chrystyna
BELARUSIAN DEPUTY SPEAKER ON BY-ELECTIONS.
Belarus's first deputy
parliamentary speaker, Vasil Novikau, said preparations for the 24 November
by-elections will continue despite statements by President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka that there is no need to fill the 60 vacant parliamentary seats,
Belapan reported on 19 August. Novikau did not exclude the possibility that
elections would not take place. He said that because the Constitutional Court
has already ruled that 16 of Lukashenka's decrees contravened the constitution,
it was possible the president would ban the by-elections, and there would be
nothing the legislature could do about it. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIAN-CHINESE COOPERATION IMPROVING.
Chinese Minister of State Li
Tieying and Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 19 August in Tallinn talked
about ways of improving economic cooperation, such as signing an agreement to
prevent double taxation, ETA reported. Li Tieying said that China would like to
open a duty-free-goods warehouse and a department store in Estonia and use
Estonia as a transit country for developing trade with the EU. The ministers
also discussed the import of Chinese raw material for the production of
rare-earth metals at the RAS Silmet plant. Vahi was invited to visit China with
an economics and business delegation. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN SEA-BORDER PROBLEMS.
The Latvian parliament on 22
August is scheduled to discuss ratification of an agreement signed last October
with Amoco and Sweden's OPAB on exploring possible oil deposits off its coast,
BNS reported. Some of the area, however, is also claimed by Lithuania, and
talks on determining the exact border have been unsuccessful. The two companies
can cancel their agreements if the Saeima fails to ratify them by 31 October.
Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs said that the optimal time to sign a
border agreement would be before Lithuania's parliamentary elections on 20
October as that would allow Lithuanian politicians to demonstrate "an ability
to settle relations with a very friendly country." Birkavs, however, noted that
Latvia will submit a memorandum to Lithuania on its position toward Lithuania's
attempt to resume construction of the Butinge floating oil terminal, which
Latvian environmentalists have protested. -- Saulius Girnius
POSSIBLE REFERENDUM QUESTIONS IN LITHUANIA.
Ruling Democratic Labor
Party (LDDP) caucus head Gediminas Kirkilas announced on 19 August that, due to
sharp criticism from other parties, the LDDP would abandon its plan to hold a
referendum on giving the president the right to call early parliamentary
elections and to appoint the defense, interior, and foreign affairs ministers,
BNS reported. Kirkilas nevertheless said that a referendum should be held
together with the parliamentary elections on 20 October. He said the referendum
should include questions on strengthening the president's power over the
courts, changing the date of parliamentary elections from fall to spring, and
reducing the size of the parliament from 141 to 101 members. A referendum can
be held on these questions only if 71 Seimas deputies submit them to the
parliament for discussion. -- Saulius Girnius
UNEMPLOYMENT IN POLAND SINKS TO FOUR-YEAR LOW.
The Labor Ministry on 19
August announced that, in July, unemployment reached its lowest level since
1992, international agencies reported. Of working-age Poles, 14.1% were without
jobs last month, compared with 14.3% in June and 14.9% at the end of 1995. The
ministry also announced that the number of jobless registered at employment
agencies in July was down 42,000 from the previous month. Unemployment is in
single digits in Warsaw, while in the northern city of Slupsk it stands at 27%.
-- Jan Cleave
GOLDSTONE IN PRAGUE, CRITICIZES IFOR.
Speaking on 19 August after a
meeting in Prague with Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Sasa Vondra, the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia's chief prosecutor,
Richard Goldstone, criticized IFOR for not arresting leading war-crimes
suspects. CTK quoted Goldstone as saying that he believes there is still time
to correct a "mistaken and unfortunate policy." Goldstone, who is to quit his
post at the Hague tribunal this fall after two years of service, said he is
optimistic that it is only a matter of time before other suspected war
criminals are arrested. Goldstone argued that all UN member states need to
adopt laws that make cooperation with the tribunal mandatory. Vondra told
journalists that the Czech Republic is preparing such a law. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK RULING COALITION IN AGREEMENT.
Following coalition discussions on
19 August concerning Slovakia's new territorial administration, Slovak National
Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota told Slovak Radio that the three partners are in
"100%" agreement. Slota, who stirred up a coalition crisis in June over
privatization, noted that the meeting's participants were "pleasantly
surprised" at the willingness of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
(HZDS)--the senior coalition partner--to compromise. Meanwhile, Prime Minister
and HZDS Chairman Vladimir Meciar noted that all parties had left the
discussion "satisfied." He confirmed that the chiefs of the eight new regions
will represent the HZDS, while three deputy posts will go to the SNS and five
to the Association of Workers of Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAKIA'S TROUBLED NONPROFITS.
Third Sector Association (GTS)
representative Helena Wolekova on 19 August rejected assertions by Deputy Prime
Minister Katarina Tothova that the UN approves of Slovakia's controversial law
on foundations, Narodna obroda reported. Tothova, who traveled to Geneva
earlier this month, said that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jose Ayal
Lasso had no objections to the law, which was re-approved by the parliament in
June after being vetoed by the president. The GTS, however, pointed out that
Lasso had sent a letter expressing his reservations about the law before its
re-approval. Although the law does not take effect until 1 September, Wolekova
said the registrations of two foundations have already been rejected by the
Interior Ministry, which will be responsible for approving new foundations.
Tothova said Lasso's letter was not a "condemnation" of the law but a
"challenge for discussion." -- Sharon Fisher
Hungary's political and cultural leaders on 19 August
attended celebrations commemorating the 1,100th anniversary of Hungarians'
arrival in the Carpathian basin, international media reported. In a public
address, Prime Minister Gyula Horn paid special attention to the importance of
settling relations with Hungary's neighbors. Meanwhile, the World Federation of
Hungarians on 18 August announced its opposition to the Hungarian-Romanian
basic treaty--particularly since collective rights for ethnic Hungarians are
not guaranteed--and asked Hungary to reconsider its stance, the BBC reported
two days later. Following a meeting in Budapest on 19 August with
representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, Miklos Duray
of the Bratislava-based Coexistence movement said Hungarian minority
representatives will ask for more discussions with Horn, TASR reported. --
OSCE OFFICIAL SAYS ELECTIONS MUST GO ON.
The head of the OSCE office in
Sarajevo, Robert Frowick, said Bosnia's elections should go ahead as planned,
despite problems and appeals, Onasa reported on 16 August. Frowick's statement
came after the International Crisis Group, an international monitoring team,
had recommended postponement of the September elections because conditions for
free and fair voting are not yet in place. But Frowick on 19 August warned that
the OSCE "reserves the right to invalidate electoral results" in areas where
local officials fail to comply with the Dayton accord, AFP reported. Frowick
warned that if government officials continue discouraging or prohibiting
freedom of movement, the return of refugees and displaced persons to their
homes, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression, they will face "serious
consequences," according to the 20 August Oslobodjenje. -- Daria Sito
TUDJMAN AND BOSNIAN CROATS DISCUSS ABOLITION OF HERCEG-BOSNA.
President Franjo Tudjman on 19 August held talks on Brioni Island with senior
Bosnian Croat officials to discuss the phased abolition of the Croatian
ministate of Herceg-Bosna, international and local media reported. Kresimir
Zubak, the president of the Muslim-Croat federation, said the Bosnian Croats
will respect the 31 August deadline for Herceg-Bosna's dissolution, as agreed
with their Muslim partners over the weekend. Following talks with Tudjman,
Zubak said that "the ball is now in our [Muslim] partners' court." Meanwhile,
Bosnian Premier Hasan Muratovic, on an official visit to The Hague, said the
Bosnian general elections would be compromised if Herceg-Bosna is not dissolved
by 14 September, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic
CROATIA VIOLATES ITS OWN CONSTITUTION, DAYTON ACCORD.
Kasim Trnka, the
Bosnian ambassador to Zagreb, reproached the Croatian government for allowing
election propaganda for the Bosnian branch of the Croatian Democratic Community
and Fikret Abdic's Democratic People's Union on its territory, thus violating
the Croatian constitution, the Dayton peace agreement, and a memorandum signed
with the OSCE, Onasa reported on 18 August. Abdic, a Muslim rebel kingpin who
found a safe haven in Croatia after his forces were defeated by the Bosnian
army last summer, was granted Croatian citizenship by President Franjo Tudjman.
He registered his political party in the Croatian portion of the Bosnian city
of Mostar. Trnka complained about the OSCE decision to approve Abdic's election
registration. The organization had noted that Abdic has not been accused by the
war-crimes tribunal. A court in the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihac, though,
indicted Abdic for war crimes on 10 August, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito
HAVE ZAGREB-BELGRADE TALKS HIT AN IMPASSE?
Ivan Simonovic, Croatia's
deputy foreign minister, met in Belgrade on 19 August with rump Yugoslavia's
foreign minister, Milan Milutinovic, and emerged from talks observing that a
number of issues, including a dispute over jurisdiction of the strategic
Prevlaka peninsula, may delay the signing of a mutual-recognition agreement
between Zagreb and Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported on 20 August. Croatian
Foreign Minister Mate Granic was to travel to Belgrade on 23 August to
participate in a signing ceremony, but Simonovic has now hinted that the
signing may be postponed. "As far as Croatia is concerned, the quality of any
agreement is much more important than the date when an accord on the
normalization of relations is reached," Simonovic said on Croatian radio. --
CROATIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST WAR-CRIMES SUSPECT.
Police arrested a
29-year-old man identified only as "Goran V." near Osijek, Croatia, on 17
August, Hina reported on 19 August. According to Croatian authorities, the
suspect, an ethnic Serb allegedly involved in supporting Croatia's rebel Serbs
in 1991 and 1992, faces war-crimes charges that include armed insurrection. In
May, Croatia passed amnesty legislation, but on 19 August AFP reported that
Croatia's Ministry of Justice has not said how many individuals remain on its
wanted list for war crimes. -- Stan Markotich
BOSNIAN FEDERATION'S VICE PRESIDENT IN SLOVENIA.
Ejup Ganic met
Slovenian President Milan Kucan on 19 August for discussions on bilateral
relations and regional political developments. Onasa quoted Ganic as saying
that "Bosnia is prepared to step up contacts with Slovenia to the maximum, from
sports to science and politics." For his part, Kucan predicted that the 14
September elections in Bosnia will be a watershed, saying he hopes the
balloting will "affirm Bosnia as an independent state." -- Stan Markotich
MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT LOCAL-ELECTION LAW.
government on 19 August approved the draft version of the local-election law,
Nova Makedonija reported. According to the draft, municipal councils
would be elected by a proportional system and mayors by majority vote. The term
for both council members and mayors would be four years. The first local
elections are to be called by the president of the Macedonian parliament and
subsequent ones by the mayors. The government also discussed the draft law on
the administrative division of Macedonia, which is to define the territories of
individual communities. The parliament is expected to vote on both laws soon.
-- Stefan Krause
ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS STEP UP ATTACKS ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Funar, leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity, on 19
August continued to attack the recent agreement on a Romanian-Hungarian basic
treaty. In a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest, Funar rejected accusations
by President Ion Iliescu's spokesman that he was "grossly misinforming" the
public about the meaning of key clauses in the treaty. Funar also claimed that
the negotiation of the treaty lacked transparency. He said the draft has
remained unknown to the government, political parties, parliamentary
commissions, and the media. Funar challenged Iliescu to take part in a public
debate on national TV. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN OFFICIALLY STARTS.
The run-up to the 17
November presidential election in the Republic of Moldova formally opened on 19
August, Infotag reported the same day. Out of the country's population of 4.5
million, 2.4 million are entitled to take part in the vote (of whom some
150,000 reside in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region). Ten candidates have
announced their intention to run for the presidency. Initiative groups (of
which four had already registered with the Central Electoral Commission on 19
August) are busy seeking the 20,000 signatures required by law to validate a
presidential candidacy. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL-ELECTION UPDATE.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party
(BSP) believes that the registration of its candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski, with the Central Electoral Commission will be challenged and
consequently annulled, Kontinent reported on 20 August. Pirinski's
eligibility is in question after the Constitutional Court effectively ruled
that he is not a "Bulgarian citizen by birth" as required by the constitution
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1996). A leading BSP member said a
plenary meeting that will nominate a new candidate is already being prepared.
Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BKP) and of
the Communist International, Vladimir Spasov, on 19 August said he hopes to
register two women as the BKP's presidential and vice presidential candidates.
-- Stefan Krause
RUSSIAN ADMIRAL OBJECTS TO U.S. PRESENCE IN BLACK SEA.
On a visit to
Bulgaria, the Russian Black Sea Fleet commander, Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, said
Moscow does not approve of the presence of U.S. Navy vessels in the Black Sea,
24 chasa reported. "It is funny that the States claim that the Black Sea
is a zone of strategic interest for them," Kravchenko said. He said the
presence of U.S. ships in Bulgarian territorial waters contravenes the 1936
Montreux Convention, which regulates the presence of military ships of
non-Black Sea countries. In 1995, 25 such ships passed through Bulgarian
waters, and 20 have done so thus far in 1996. Kravchenko said Turkey's navy is
the strongest in the Black Sea at present, both in terms of quantity and
quality. Kravchenko admitted that the Soviet Union in 1945-50 dumped "small
quantities" of chemical weapons in the Black Sea, but he said "they pose no
danger." -- Stefan Krause