LEBED MEETS CHECHEN MILITARY LEADER.
The commander of the Russian
federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, rejected a
telephone request by pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev on 21 August to
rescind the ultimatum issued on 19 August to all residents of Grozny to leave
the city within 48 hours, NTV reported. However, Russian Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov told Russian Television (RTR) that Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii had
acted "incorrectly" in issuing the ultimatum and implied he had done so on
orders from someone outside the military high command. Russian Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed arrived in Grozny on 21 August and met with
Tikhomirov, then traveled to the village of Novye Atagi south of Grozny for
talks with Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov. Lebed subsequently canceled
Pulikovskii's ultimatum, which he told journalists was "a bad joke" and an
attempt to undermine the accords he had reached earlier with Maskhadov,
according to ITAR-TASS and Radio Mayak. The Russian military high command then
ordered a cessation of hostilities in Grozny; the city was quiet on the morning
of 22 August, Reuters reported. Lebed and Maskhadov met again in Novye Atagi
during the morning of 22 August. -- Liz Fuller
INTERNATIONAL CONCERN OVER SITUATION IN GROZNY.
Late on 20 August U.S.
President Bill Clinton sent a letter to President Boris Yeltsin expressing
concern about the fate of the some 120,000 civilians remaining in Grozny,
Russian and Western agencies reported. AFP said that this was the first direct
appeal from Clinton concerning the Chechen conflict, which the U.S. officially
regards as Russia's internal affair. The U.S. had apparently not received a
reply from Moscow as of 12:00 Moscow time on 22 August. The 19 August ultimatum
by Lt.-Gen. Pulikovskii caused a variety of foreign governments to warn Russia
that the Chechen situation should be resolved through dialogue, not by force,
although Clinton appears to have been the only head of state to react
officially. Council of Europe speaker Leni Fischer reminded Moscow that when it
joined that organization it promised to "find a political solution to the
(Chechen) conflict," AFP reported on 21 August. Reuters reported on the same
day that the UN World Food Program has asked the U.S. to fly in 140,000
emergency meals for refugees from Grozny: last month the U.S. sent 35,000
meals. Meanwhile, the Russian government complains that some 1,000 foreign
mercenaries are fighting alongside the separatists, according to Rossiiskaya
gazeta of 22 August. -- Peter Rutland
MORE PROTESTS AGAINST WAR.
Several prominent human rights campaigners
and State Duma deputies, including Sergei Kovalev and Sergei Yushenkov of
Russia's Democratic Choice and Viktor Sheinis of Yabloko, called for massive
political protests if the bloodshed in Chechnya is not ended, Russian media
reported on 21 August. On the same day, a group of Russian Muslim clerics
appealed to President Yeltsin to end the fighting, while the leaders of the
Union of Muslims said they hoped Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
will find a solution for the crisis, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported.
Meanwhile, a protest march organized by Obshchaya gazeta and supported
by editors of several other Russian newspapers (see OMRI Daily Digest,
20 August 1996) has been set for 5 September, pending approval by the Moscow
city government, ITAR-TASS reported. The Soldiers' Mothers Committee, Moscow
Helsinki Group and watchdog group Memorial have supported the march. -- Laura
YELTSIN RETURNS TO KREMLIN.
President Yeltsin returned from the lake
region of Valdai to Moscow on the evening of 21 June and went to work at the
Kremlin on 22 June, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported, citing Presidential Press
Secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii. Yeltsin was shown briefly on Russian
Television, and met with five of the six newly appointed ministers. -- Laura
TULEEV AMONG SIX NEW MINISTERS.
On 22 August President Boris Yeltsin
appointed six additional ministers to his new government: Anatolii Zaitsev
(Railroads), Yurii Bespalov (Industry), Petr Rodionov (Fuel and Energy), Viktor
Orlov (Natural Resources), Tatyana Dmitrieva (Health), and Aman Tuleev (CIS
Affairs). This signifies the departure from government of the long-standing
fuel and energy minister, Yurii Shafranik. Also noteworthy is the appointment
of Aman Tuleev to manage relations with the CIS. Tuleev, the head of the
legislature in Kemerovo oblast, was a supporter of Communist presidential
candidate Gennadii Zyuganov. The post of minister of culture is still vacant.
-- Peter Rutland
KORZHAKOV ON CORRUPTION.
Aleksandr Korzhakov, President Yeltsin's former
top bodyguard, told Argumenty i fakty that he was fired because he tried
to limit rampant corruption in the Kremlin and complained: "One gets the
impression that nearly all top officials are working to loot state property,"
Reuters reported on 21 August. Korzhakov was sacked on 20 June, the morning
after his men detained and interrogated two Yeltsin campaign officials who were
found carrying more than $500,000 in cash. The campaign workers had links to
Korzhakov's longtime enemy Anatolii Chubais, who became Yeltsin's chief of
staff shortly after Korzhakov's ouster. Moskovskie novosti (No. 33)
reported that Korzhakov, along with former Security Service head Mikhail
Barsukov, possesses many documents incriminating top officials. In the near
future, he will use the media both to attack his main opponents in the Yeltsin
camp and to protect himself, the paper said. -- Laura Belin
SOLDIERS WHO FLED HAZING RETURN.
The 30 soldiers who deserted from an
internal troops unit in Perm on 18 August returned after a senior commander
guaranteed their safety, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. The troops ran away
and camped in the woods in order to escape what they described as "unbearable"
hazing (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 August 1996). ITAR-TASS reported that
the soldiers who "terrorized" the deserters have been transferred and that the
unit's commanders are being investigated to find who is guilty of allowing the
"critical situation" to develop. According to Radio Rossii, six soldiers
suspected of instigating the hazing have been sent to a military prison and a
criminal case has been opened against them. -- Laura Belin
KIDNAPPING OVER IN MOSCOW; EIGHT KILLED IN NOVGOROD.
Moscow police have
detained three people who demanded a $5,000 ransom for a 19-year-old girl
kidnapped 10 days earlier, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. Meanwhile, eight
young people, including two Vietnamese, were shot dead in the town of Borovichi
in Novgorod Oblast. The killers opened fire with submachine-guns in a local
cafe, named "Banzai!" around midnight on 19 August. No motive was reported. --
CUSTOMS AND POLICE CRACKDOWN.
The Moscow customs department confiscated
smuggled goods worth 89 billion rubles ($17 million) between 22 July and 15
August, the department's spokesmen Sergei Milokostov said. Tobacco products
accounted for 48 billion rubles and alcohol 14 billion of the seized goods,
ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. Small amount of narcotics and three handguns
were also seized. Meanwhile, Amur Oblast police detained 53 local drug dealers
and 23 dealers from Central Russia, Sakhalin, and Central Asia, Radio Rossii
reported. About 130 kilograms of marijuana was confiscated. Krasnodar Krai
Governor Nikolai Yegorov signed a decree allowing krai law enforcement agencies
to keep for themselves one-quarter of goods or money confiscated from
criminals, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August. According to experts, the decree
will provide these agencies with a financial stimulus to work more effectively.
-- Anna Paretskaya
BUSINESSMEN PROTEST VODKA RESTRICTIONS.
Local businessmen held a
spontaneous demonstration in the city of Pskov on 21 August to protest the city
council's decision to restrict the alcohol trade, ITAR-TASS reported. According
to a new instruction, hard liquor may be sold only in shops with special
storage premises and alarm systems. If the decision comes into affect, many
stalls which now sell drinks will be shut down and hundreds of stallholders
will lose their jobs. Last month, restrictions on trade in spirits were
introduced in Moscow (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 July 1996). -- Anna
METRO CONSTRUCTION WORKERS SUSPEND STRIKE . . .
construction (Metrostroi) workers returned to work after two days of striking
over unpaid back wages, NTV reported on 21 August. Metrostroi trade unions
reached agreement with the government that within 10 days the workers will be
paid 130 billion rubles ($25 million) of overdue wages. If the money is not
paid, Metrostroi workers will go on strike again. -- Anna Paretskaya
. . . WHILE MINERS READY TO WALK OUT AGAIN.
Primorskii Krai miners will
resume their strike on 26 August if they are not paid their June salaries,
which Yurii Malyshev, general manager of the federal coal company Rosugol, has
promised them, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August, quoting regional trade union
leader Petr Kiryasov. The krai energy workers also plan to start an indefinite
strike in September if they fail to get 108 billion rubles ($21 million) of
back wages. They also may stop supplying all regional enterprises and
individual consumers with electricity. Meanwhile, the crew of a Russian cargo
ship announced that it will block the major Black Sea port of Sochi until the
ship owner pays wages owed for six months, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Anna
IMF LOAN BACK ON TRACK.
As expected, the IMF Executive Board declared on
21 August that it will approve the release of the $330 million July tranche of
the $10.1 billion Extended Fund Facility granted to Russia in February this
year, ITAR-TASS reported. The July payment was suspended because of concern
over the 40% shortfall in tax collection in the first half of the year. The IMF
has apparently satisfied itself that the Russian government is taking steps to
address the problem. -- Peter Rutland
DUBININ SAYS BANK CRISIS UNLIKELY.
Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin
said in an interview with Delovoi Mir of 21 August that there is little
chance of a sudden financial crisis. He argued that banks are more cautious,
experienced, and cooperative in their lending policies, so another domino
crisis of failed payments of the sort experienced last August is most unlikely.
Dubinin said the position has also been stabilized by the slowdown in inflation
-- which was only 0.7% in July and 16.3% since January, Reuters reported on 22
August. However, Pravda-5 argued on 21 August that the financial
position of many of Russia's 2,100 banks is precarious and that even large
banks are vulnerable. Rumors about Inkombank, Russia's fifth largest, in
mid-July caused depositors to withdraw about 160 billion rubles ($30 million),
or 15% of its assets. -- Peter Rutland
NOTE TO READERS:
In accordance with the preferences of the Kazakstani
government and several international media sources, OMRI has decided to change
the spelling of Kazakhstan, a Russian-derived transliteration, to Kazakstan.
MKHEDRIONI ACTIVIST EXTRADITED TO GEORGIA.
Temur Kurdiani, a member of
the Mkhedrioni informal paramilitary formation, has been detained in Moscow and
handed over to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, ITAR-TASS reported on
21 August. He has been charged in connection with a series of political
assassinations in Georgia in 1994-95. -- Liz Fuller
KAZAKSTANI NATIONAL AIRLINE BANKRUPT.
The Kazakstani government declared
the national airline Aue Zholy bankrupt on 20 August, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL
reported. As of mid-August the airline's debt was 19 billion tenge ($180
million), and it has already been denied access to airports in Western Europe,
Israel, and Turkey because of failure to finance new insurance agreements. The
most valuable assets of the company are to be handed over to a new company,
still being formed, Air Kazakstan. The remaining assets are to be sold off to
government agencies and local authorities at auctions or assigned to them for
management. -- Bruce Pannier
KAZAKSTAN RESPONDS TO RUSSIAN ELECTRICITY CUTS.
Taking an "analogous
measure," Kazakstan cut off shipments of coal to the Omsk Oblast, RTR reported
on 22 August. Russia had stopped supplying northern Kazakstan with electricity
on 15 August, citing nonpayment of $420 million (see OMRI Daily Digest,
16 August 1996). All the cities of Omsk Oblast are dependent on coal from
Kazakstan's Ekibazstuz mine. Officials of the Omsk Oblast administration are
trying to enlist aid from the private company Moskenergo, but supplying the 14
power stations in the region will require time. Industry in the area is
reported to be at a standstill. -- Bruce Pannier
NO EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS BETWEEN TAJIK FACTIONS.
Committee of the Red Cross has expressed regret that neither the Tajik
government nor the Tajik opposition has fulfilled its promise to trade
prisoners, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August. Under the terms of the Ashgabat
agreement, signed on 20 July, exchanges of those held by the two sides should
have been completed by 20 August, but as of 21 August neither side had even
presented a list of detained persons to the ICRC. Meanwhile, Tajik Foreign
Minister Talbak Nazarov met with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris
Pastukhov on 21 August in Moscow and repeated the Tajik government's
willingness to settle the Tajik conflict by peaceful means. According to the
ITAR-TASS report, Nazarov said the Tajik government would "agree to give the
opposition seats in the apparatus of the president, the government, and all
structures of management from rural regions to the center." -- Bruce Pannier
COMMISSION SET UP TO END DEATH PENALTY IN UKRAINE.
Leonid Kuchma has established a commission to review and propose steps to
"humanize" Ukraine's penal code and abolish the death penalty, Ukrainian radio
reported on 21 August. Made up of legal experts, lawmakers, and administration
representatives, the commission's chief aim will be to help bring the country's
crime legislation in line with Council of Europe recommendations, which include
the abolition of capital punishment. The president's order also calls for the
possible suspension of death sentences for convicts currently on death row and
the introduction of life imprisonment as an alternative. -- Chrystyna
UKRAINIAN EXCHANGE BEGINS FUTURES TRADING IN THE HRYVNA.
Universal Exchange has begun futures trading in the hryvna, Ukraine's
long-awaited but, as yet, unintroduced permanent currency, Ukrainian TV
reported on 21 August. No details were provided on the terms of the contracts.
National Bank of Ukraine Governor Viktor Yushchenko reiterated that the hryvna
would be introduced by the end of the year at the latest. Trading on 21 August
began at a rate of 100,000 karbovantsi to 1 hryvna; the day's average amounted
to 101,604 karbovantsi to 1 hryvna. During a celebration marking the fifth
anniversary of the central bank's founding, Yushchenko said it appeared
inflation in August would be about 5%. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
REPERCUSSIONS OF TAIWAN OFFICIAL'S VISIT TO UKRAINE.
Vice President Lien Chan's visit to Kyiv, Beijing postponed a visit by a
high-level Chinese government delegation to Ukraine, Ukrainian radio reported
on 21 August. Foreign Minister Henadii Udovenko attempted damage control by
saying Lien's visit should not lead to any deterioration in Chinese-Ukrainian
relations. He said Ukraine's position on Taiwan is well known: it regards
Taiwan as an integral part of the People's Republic of China. Kyiv is holding
consultations with the Chinese ambassador to Ukraine over the affair. Taiwanese
papers reported that Lien had met with President Leonid Kuchma during the
visit, but the president's office denied that such a meeting had taken place.
Taiwanese television also reported that Kyiv had agreed to exchange trade
missions with Taipei, but Ukrainian officials denied there had been any
official meetings with Lien and stressed that the visit was genuinely a private
one. -- Ustina Markus
DETAILS OF BELARUSIAN ROUND TABLE.
120 people representing
12 parties from across the political spectrum participated in a round-table
discussion on the political situation in Belarus on 21 August, ITAR-TASS and
RFE/RL reported. After the Minsk meeting, a joint statement by the 12 parties
was issued announcing the decision to convene a permanent body to assess human
rights in the country, provide evidence of constitutional violations, and
oversee freedom of the press. The statement also supported the holding of the
24 November parliamentary by-elections, which President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
said he would cancel if the electorate approved his questions on a 7 November
referendum. Participants at the round table said they would do everything
legally possible to prevent the referendum. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA'S NONCITIZENS SLOW TO REGISTER FOR ELECTIONS.
have enrolled for the 20 October local elections, even though registration is
scheduled from 10 August to 10 September, BNS reported on 21 August.
Noncitizens are eligible to vote if they are 18 or older, have applied for a
residence permit, and have lived in the respective territory for at least five
years. In Tallinn, only 2,448 of the estimated 77,000 eligible voters (3.2%)
had registered by the evening of 20 August. The administrative secretary of
Tallinn's Lansamae borough government said, "The people are apathetic and don't
give a damn about the elections." The figures in Sillimae were only slightly
better, as 770 of the estimated 11,120 eligible noncitizens (6.9%) registered
in the first 10 days. An appeal by the Russian Party in Estonia to extend the
registration period will likely be ignored, since its claim that long lines
would form at registration offices has proved to be wrong. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIA'S CAUCUSES CRITICAL OF DRAFT COALITION AGREEMENT.
of the largest parties in the ruling coalition on 21 August severely criticized
the draft coalition agreement and action program proposed the previous week by
Prime Minister Andres Skele (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 August 1996), BNS
reported. Latvia's Way caucus head Andrejs Pantelejevs called the accord "too
scanty and short," saying its "parts are mutually contradictory." Fatherland
and Freedom caucus head Janis Straume said the program was immature and the
agreement "a gesture of disrespect toward the caucuses." He asserted that the
agreement should be only a supplementary protocol to the original agreement of
25 December 1995. The Democratic Party Saimnieks has prepared an alternative
draft agreement. -- Saulius Girnius
BRITAIN'S `DESERT RATS' TO TRAIN IN POLAND.
Some 3,500 troops and 440
armored vehicles from Britain's 7th Armored Brigade--called the "Desert Rats"
following its World War II African campaigns--will begin training in Poland
next week, the British Embassy in Warsaw announced on 21 August. Billed as the
biggest British army exercises on the European mainland since the end of the
Cold War, Ulan Eagle `96 will take place from 30 August to 20 September at the
Drawsko military base, formerly used by Warsaw Pact troops. The maneuvers are
the first to be held under a British-Polish military agreement signed in June.
Polish forces will be invited to observe, and Polish engineers will construct a
bridge. -- Jan Cleave
CUTS IN CZECH STATE EXPENDITURES.
Czech Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik
announced on 21 August that his ministry will have to cut 9.3 billion crowns in
expenditures to maintain a balanced state budget for 1996, Czech media
reported. The government agreed at its meeting on 21 August that the country's
budget must not be a deficit one. Kocarnik explained to reporters that part of
the current deficit has been caused by the failure of Russia to pay its debts
to the Czech Republic and another part by overestimating the government's
income from taxes paid by enterprises. The Finance Ministry plans to introduce
spending cuts that will affect all ministries equally. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK ARMY WANTS MORE HELICOPTERS THAN TREATY ALLOWS.
reorganization of the Slovak armed forces would violate the terms of the
Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, the Slovak chief of staff, General
Jozef Tuchnya, told CTK on 21 August. He said that the army would increase is
holdings of attack helicopters from the current 19 to 40. The CFE treaty limits
Slovakia to 25. On the other hand, the air force would not need the 115 combat
aircraft permitted under the treaty, and its inventory would drop to 72.
Tuchnya indicated that the air force is pleased with its Russian-made MiG-29
fighters and said 465 million crowns ($16 million) would be allocated for their
modernization. -- Doug Clarke
SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY ON PRIVATIZATION.
The opposition Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL) on 21 August demanded a retroactive examination of the
entire privatization process, Narodna obroda reported. Calling current
privatization "undemocratic, nonmarket, and against the people," SDL Chairman
Jozef Migas noted that if fraud is discovered, the party will demand that
property be reprivatized under "market principles." SDL Deputy Brigita
Schmoegnerova criticized the east Slovak ironworks VSZ's recent acquisition of
a 43.7% stake in Investicna a rozvojova banka, Slovakia's third largest bank.
She said the move was not approved by the National Bank of Slovakia, which,
according to the banking law, must authorize such purchases beforehand.
Schmoegnerova also said the advice of the IMF--which recommended that the
merging of financial institutions and the creation of mixed ownership between
banks and their biggest debtors be avoided--was "ignored." -- Sharon Fisher
LITTLE INTEREST IN 1968 ANNIVERSARY IN BRATISLAVA.
Only about 70 people
gathered at the grave of Prague Spring leader Alexander Dubcek to commemorate
the anniversary of the 21 August 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia,
Slovenska Republika reported. Attendees included representatives of the
Social Democratic Party of Slovakia (SDSS)--of which Dubcek was chairman in
1992--as well as from the president's office, the Party of the Democratic Left,
and the Anti-Fascist Fighters. Although invited, no representatives of the
ruling coalition or of other opposition parties were present, CTK noted. SDSS
Chairman Jaroslav Volf said his party will continue to seek a re-examination of
the "unclear circumstances" surrounding Dubcek's death in November 1992 of
injuries suffered in a car accident. Meanwhile, on 20 August, the opposition
Democratic Union warned that the current cabinet is a continuation of the
"normalization" regime that followed the 1968 invasion. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY READY TO SIGN TREATY WITH ROMANIA.
Despite pressure from
opposition politicians and representatives of Hungarian minority organizations
abroad, the Hungarian government appears set to sign the Hungarian-Romanian
basic treaty, Hungarian dailies reported. Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said
that he sees no reason to convene another summit of Hungarians and ethnic
Hungarians living beyond Hungary's borders and that the treaty could be signed
in September. Kovacs also said the basic treaty is a matter for the two
countries' governments to handle. None of the questions, he said, should be
discussed with minority representatives. In a related development, the German
Foreign Ministry on 21 August welcomed the in-principle agreement on the
treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
OSCE PENALIZES BOSNIAN CROAT PARTY.
The OSCE said on 21 August that the
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) has "seriously violated" the
voter-registration procedure, Oslobodjenje reported the next day. The
OSCE's Mostar office reported that an HDZ official had illegally taken forms
filled in by voters in Jasenica, south of Mostar, possibly intending to tamper
with them. An OSCE appeals board had ordered the removal from office of the
local electoral commission president, Vlado Bevanda, who had denied HDZ
involvement in the matter despite evidence to the contrary. It also ordered the
removal of Bevanda's name from the HDZ party list and the immediate termination
of his candidacy for public office. The OSCE also fined the HDZ $10,000. That
same day, officials from the two ruling parties in the Bosnian federation
agreed that obstacles to the revival of the Bosnian federation have been
removed, Onasa reported. The Muslim Party of Democratic Action and the HDZ
agreed to a more rapid institution of cantonal authorities and transitional
municipal councils, but they failed to agree on a federal finance system and
the status of the controversial state Agency for Research and Documentation. --
Daria Sito Sucic
WHAT WILL BE DONE WITH ALL THE BOSNIAN SERB MUNITIONS?
Volcano, the destruction by IFOR of some 400 tons of contraband Bosnian Serb
munitions found in Margetici, continues, with some 130 tons disposed of to
date, but questions have arisen over what to do about an additional 16 sites
declared by the Bosnian Serbs. Reportedly 10 of those sites contain some 2,600
tons of munitions similar to those discovered at Margetici. Suggesting that the
additional munitions deposits may not be destroyed, Maj. Brett Boudreau has
said that "all options are under consideration," Reuters reported on 21 August.
Some speculation already centers on the possibility that IFOR might allow the
Bosnian Serbs "to move the contraband to an already approved storage site,"
added Reuters. -- Stan Markotich
LOCAL ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED IN SERBIA.
Serbia's local elections have been
called and are to be held on 3 November, Radio and Television Serbia reported
on 21 August. Federal elections, as well as balloting in Montenegro, are to
take place the same day. The leader of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement,
Vuk Draskovic, welcomed news of the Serbian local elections, observing that
they may provide opposition parties the opportunity to challenge the governing
Socialist Party of Serbia power base in local constituencies, Beta reported on
21 August. Reuters, however, provided an analysis suggesting that with local,
one set of republican, and federal elections taking place at the same time, the
opposition parties may find their resources and organizational abilities spread
too thin, with the ruling parties ultimately posting gains. -- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIAN CONSUL TO LIBERIA INVOLVED IN ARMS TRADE?
Slovenia's honorary consul to Liberia, was dismissed from his post on 21
August, some two months after an Italian prosecutor issued an arrest warrant
accusing Oman of smuggling arms to Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia.
Ljubljana offered no details of why it removed Oman from the post he has held
since 1993, Reuters reported on 21 August. In other news, Oslobodjenje
on 22 August reported that a member of the Bosnian presidency, Ivo Komsic, and
Nijaz Skenderagic, a member of the leadership of the opposition Social
Democratic Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina, were in Ljubljana on 21 August but were
barred by Interior Ministry officials from speaking at a "promotional
gathering" of five Bosnian opposition parties. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIAN MINISTERS RESIGN.
Minister of Health Iulian Mincu and Minister
of Culture Viorel Marginean have submitted their resignations, Prime Minister
Nicolae Vacaroiu told Radio Bucharest on 21 August. He said Mincu was resigning
for personal and health reasons, as well as due to the fact that his work in
the Senate took up much of his time. According to the AFP correspondent,
however, Mincu, who was once Nicolae Ceausescu's personal nutritionist, has
been implicated in several scandals since his appointment in 1992, including
mismanagement of a World Bank loan to improve the health-care system. The
resignations come against the background of the executive's efforts to rid
itself of its corruption-tarnished image on the eve of elections. Marginean,
Vacaroiu said, wished to return to his work as a painter. Reuters reported that
he also came under attack in the media for having spent large amounts of public
money to organize exhibits of his paintings abroad. He did not rule out other
changes in the government. On 10 August, Vacaroiu had denied reports in the
press that a reshuffle of his cabinet was in the offing. -- Michael Shafir
ROMANIAN COALITION THREATENED BY TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
The chairman of
the Party of Romanian National Unity, Gheorghe Funar, said in an interview with
Radio Bucharest on 21 August that he does not believe his party will continue
to be a member of the coalition if the text of the basic treaty with Hungary is
signed in the form agreed upon in Bucharest last week. Funar spoke after a
meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Marcel Dinu. President Ion Iliescu will
meet with representatives of parliamentary political parties next week in order
to consult them on the treaty, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
announced in Bucharest on the same day. -- Michael Shafir
MONARCHY CONTROVERSY--AN ELECTORAL MANEUVER?
Following the controversy
that erupted over the pro-monarchy statement attributed to the Democratic
Convention of Romania's presidential candidate, Emil Constantinescu (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 21 August 1996), the daily Evenimentul zilei
revealed on 22 August that the interview granted by Constantinescu to the
U.S. Romanian-language publication Micro-Magazin had been tampered with.
The journalist who interviewed Constantinescu admitted that he had "mended it,"
allegedly to reflect the views of American readers. Evenimentul zilei
concluded that this was an electoral maneuver. The interview had been
printed in Micro-Magazin as far back as 25 July, but there had been no
reaction to it till the daily Jurnalul national reprinted it on 20
August. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania, Evenimentul zilei
noted, then reacted to the Constantinescu interview with a speed that cannot be
otherwise explained but by a plan to stage an electoral coup. Meanwhile, in an
interview with Jurnalul national published on 22 August, Constantinescu
said he "could not be a supporter of the monarchy," since he is a candidate for
the presidential office. He said he told Micro-Magazin that former King
Michael should be able to take up residence in Romania "like any other citizen
of the country" and that he would "accept the people's decision if it opted for
a monarchy in a referendum." -- Michael Shafir
IS PIRINSKI NOT A BULGARIAN CITIZEN?
Union of Democratic Forces Deputy
Chairman Vasil Gotsev on 21 August said there is no documentation in the
Central State Archives proving that Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski--the
presidential candidate of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party--ever acquired
Bulgarian citizenship, Demokratsiya reported. Gotsev said no state
decree on the New York-born Pirinski's naturalization has been located and
noted that if no such document exists, Pirinski is not formally a Bulgarian
citizen. He added that Pirinski's mother, a U.S. citizen, acquired Bulgarian
citizenship based on a certificate by the Sofia administration of the Interior
Ministry, which had no authority to change her citizenship. Gotsev said the
opposition may ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the case when the new
parliamentary session begins in September. Pirinski and the Socialists have not
commented. -- Stefan Krause
IMF MISSION IN BULGARIA.
An IMF team headed by Anne McGuirk arrived in
Sofia on 21 August for a regular review of the country's economic stabilization
and reform program, RFE/RL and Bulgarian media reported. The mission "will
review progress under the [reform] program" in connection with Bulgaria's next
scheduled drawing from its current $580 million standby loan. Talks between the
mission and the government will focus on monetary and fiscal policy, McGuirk
said. She added that the government must continue its present course of reform.
-- Stefan Krause
President Sali Berisha on 21 August urged the
opposition to participate in local elections on 20 October, international media
reported. He said that the elections will be "free and fair" and that the
election law is "of European standards." Berisha said the elections would he
held even if the Socialists--the biggest opposition party--boycott them. He
said the Socialists "have chosen the boycott because they know they would be
defeated in any elections." Berisha did not comment on opposition demands to
reshuffle an electoral commission that was formed recently by presidential
decree. The previous day, Berisha's Democratic Party had announced it would
adopt a law preventing opposition representatives from pulling out of electoral
commissions in the upcoming local elections by making it a punishable offense
to do so, ATSH reported. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Tim Rostan