YELTSIN TO REMAIN IN HOSPITAL.
President Boris Yeltsin will stay in the
hospital for the next two days to undergo tests before his heart operation,
Rossiiskie vesti reported on 17 September. The same day Moskovskii
komsomolets considered a variety of possible scenarios if Yeltsin cannot
finish his term. The paper considers Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
Communist party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, and Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed the most likely candidates to succeed Yeltsin, with Minister
for CIS Affairs Aman Tuleev, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and Presidential Chief
of Staff Anatolii Chubais also possible contenders. -- Robert Orttung
KRASNAYA ZVEZDA CALLS FOR ACTION . . .
The military newspaper
Krasnaya zvezda on 17 September blasted the federal authorities for
doing nothing to advance the Chechnya peace process while the separatist rebels
are forming "parallel power structures," setting up their own coalition
government, regrouping, and positioning themselves to influence events in the
republic. The paper accused the separatists of ignoring many of the provisions
laid out in the treaties they have signed, including the release of POWs. Only
the decision made by the commander of federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen.
Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, to halt the exit of Russian troops made the rebels turn
over 27 prisoners on 16 September, the paper claimed. -- Robert Orttung
. . . MASKHADOV SEES POSSIBILITY OF RENEWED FIGHTING.
Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov told NTV on 16 September that he had already
signed four agreements with the federal authorities and that as soon as he
started to believe peace was possible, the policy of the Russian government
sharply changed. He said that he believed that Moscow was using the dispute
over POWs to restart military activities. Maskhadov said that he trusted Lebed,
but believed that he alone on the Russian side was working for peace. -- Robert
CHERNOMYRDIN, LEBED DISCUSS CHECHEN COALITION GOVERNMENT.
trying to take control of the coalition government formation process in
Chechnya while the rebels are unilaterally filling it with their supporters.
Lebed and Chernomyrdin apparently decided on 16 September that Lebed, rather
than the prime minister, could approve the members of the new coalition
government set up to rule Chechnya, NTV reported. Reports from the previous day
said that Chernomyrdin would have the final word. Pro-Moscow Chechen leader
Doku Zavgaev said that it was premature to begin speaking of a coalition
government in the republic. Chernomyrdin canceled their meeting scheduled for
the 16th, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT APPEAL ON LEBED-MASKHADOV AGREEMENT STALLED.
deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia have
collected only about one-third of the 90 signatures they would need to appeal
to the Constitutional Court against the Lebed-Maskhadov agreement,
Izvestiya reported on 17 September. They had protested that Lebed
exceeded his authority in signing the document and that the agreement left key
questions concerning Chechnya's status unanswered (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 9 September 1996). A few deputies from the Communist Party, the
left-wing Popular Power faction, and Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko have signed
the appeal, but Izvestiya noted that Zhirinovsky himself has ignored his
subordinates' initiative. -- Laura Belin
LUKIN REJECTS SECOND REQUEST TO ATTEND CHECHNYA HEARINGS IN STRASBOURG.
Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin rejected a request
from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly that the Russian delegation
reconsider its decision to boycott planned hearings on Chechnya in Strasbourg,
ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 16 September. Lukin stood by his earlier
statements that the hearings would represent interference in Russia's internal
affairs and could undermine the peace process in Chechnya. The council has
invited Chechen Chief of Staff Maskhadov and Security Council Secretary Lebed
to the hearings, but not pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev. --
ZYUGANOV ON LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES.
The Communist Party (KPRF) faction
in the State Duma will take steps to ensure that laws are better enforced and
that lawbreakers--for instance, those responsible for not paying wages or
pensions--are held criminally accountable, KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov told
Sovetskaya Rossiya in an interview published on 14 September. He added
that opposition deputies will form a shadow cabinet. Zyuganov charged that the
mass media "has turned into a means of psychological war and destruction"
seeking to further its own interests, "far from the interests of the state and
its citizens," and said the Duma will ask major television networks to give the
opposition time to air its views. Zyuganov's statements reflect his party's
strategy to gain a reputation as a "constructive" rather than an
"irreconcilable" opposition. Rhetoric depicting the KPRF as dangerous and
extremist proved a potent weapon against Zyuganov in the recent presidential
election. -- Laura Belin
LEBED ACCEPTS INVITATION TO VISIT NATO.
Security Council Secretary Lebed
confirmed that he will accept an invitation to visit NATO headquarters in
Brussels this October, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. "Why not talk with
NATO representatives about the organization's plans?" he observed. He said he
planned to "caution" NATO representatives against eastward expansion, although
he characterized Russia as too weak to prevent the alliance from accepting new
members. Lebed has never traveled outside the former Soviet Union, except
during his military service in Afghanistan during the 1980s. -- Laura Belin
RUSSIA WELCOMES BOSNIA ELECTIONS.
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
issued a statement calling the first post-war elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina a
"very important step" toward "normalizing the lives of all peoples" in the
region, advancing the peace process, and promoting social and economic revival,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 16 September. Central Electoral
Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov, who traveled to Bosnia as an election
observer, told ITAR-TASS on 17 September that he believed the elections to be
generally "democratic and free" despite violations reported in certain areas.
-- Laura Belin
HIJACKING IN DAGESTAN.
A lone hijacker held dozens of people hostage on
a bus in Dagestan on 16 September before releasing them unharmed and fleeing,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The man seized the bus in the early
evening; about an hour later he fled with three hostages and a Dagestan Duma
deputy who had offered himself as a substitute. According to some reports, the
man released the remaining hostages near Khasavyurt and crossed into Chechnya
with about $10,000. Others said he might be in hiding in Dagestan. The
hijacking was the latest in a series of such incidents in the north Caucasus in
recent years. -- Penny Morvant
PENSIONERS PROTEST IN KOSTROMA.
A group of pensioners rallied in
Kostroma on 16 September to protest the failure to pay their pensions on time,
ITAR-TASS and Russian Public Television (ORT) reported. Headed by members of
the local communist party organization, about 1,500 pensioners, who have still
not received their August money, gathered at the local administration building
to present a petition to Governor Valerii Arbuzov demanding their due. A group
of demonstrators then blocked traffic on a bridge across the Volga, paralyzing
the only road link across the river from Yaroslavl to Nizhnii Novgorod. The
indebtedness of Russia's Pension Fund has prompted several similar protests by
pensioners in oblasts along the Volga. -- Penny Morvant
PRIMORSKII KRAI GOVERNOR CALLS FOR CANCELLATION OF REFERENDUM.
Nazdratenko sent an open letter on 16 September to the Primorskii Krai Duma
asking it to cancel plans for a regional referendum on 22 September on
confidence in the governor, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. Nazdratenko
said he felt the referendum was unnecessary as solutions have been worked out
with the federal government to improve the situation in the region's fuel and
energy sector. Radio Rossii reported on 16 September that the krai Duma is
scheduled to meet on 18 September to discuss the projected plebiscite and is
expected to cancel it. Also on 18 September Nazdratenko will present a final
report to the presidential administration on the situation in the energy
sector. A decree issued by President Yeltsin on 14 August expressed doubt about
Nazdratenko's competence and gave him a month to stabilize the situation.
ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September that Nazdratenko has agreed emergency
measures with Fuel and Energy Minister Petr Rodionov. The strike of some 10,000
Dalenergo workers, however, is continuing. -- Penny Morvant
STATE TAX AGENCY PLANS INSPECTION OF BANKS.
The State Tax Agency will
carry out a large-scale inspection of Russian commercial banks over the next
month in order to unearth concealed profits and boost tax collection,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 17 September. According to a report in
Kommersant-Daily on 14 September, one-quarter of Russian banks have
broken existing tax legislation. One-third of banks carried out payments from
clients' accounts with delays stretching from 10 to 60 days. The volume of
delayed payments to the federal budget now totals 1.2 trillion rubles ($223
million). -- Natalia Gurushina
GDP AND INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT CONTINUE TO FALL.
Russia's GDP and industrial
output fell by 6% and 5%, respectively, in the first eight months of 1996
compared with the same period last year, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September. A
substantial reduction in output was recorded in light industry, the production
of construction materials, car manufacture, metallurgy, the fuel and energy
industry, and the production of meat and vodka. At the same time, there were
increases in gas extraction and the production of some foodstuffs. Meanwhile,
an IMF working group is currently in Moscow to assess the performance of the
Russian economy and give its recommendations on the disbursement of the sixth
tranche of a $10.1 billion extended fund facility. Russia has just received the
August tranche of the loan ($350 million). -- Natalia Gurushina
VAZGEN MANUKYAN'S CAMPAIGN PROGRAM.
Armenian presidential candidate
Vazgen Manukyan, during a 15 September interview in Yerevan, characterized the
22 September presidential election as a choice between alternative approaches
to building democracy and the transition to a market economy, and dismissed the
Armenian communists as a "spent force." While admitting Armenia's economic
collapse was connected to the collapse of the USSR, the blockade by Turkey and
Azerbaijan, and the war in Karabakh, Manukyan harshly criticized the economic
policies of the present leadership, slamming in particular its "illiterate"
privatization policy. Manukyan's campaign program focuses on the reconstruction
of the industrial sector, reform of the tax system, eradicating corruption and
introducing social benefits for the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
The first point of Manukyan's program is a pledge to achieve international
recognition of the independent status of Nagorno-Karabakh by means of peaceful
negotiations, although he conceded that this will be a protracted process.
Manukyan is increasingly viewed as a serious threat to incumbent Levon
Ter-Petrossyan. -- Liz Fuller in Yerevan (monitoring the presidential election
for the European Institute for Media)
BOTAS GETS WORLD BANK LOAN FOR BAKU-CEYHAN STUDY.
The World Bank on 12
September announced in a news release it will loan $5 million to Turkey's oil
and gas transmission company Botas to undertake a feasibility study and
environmental audit of several route options for exporting up to 45 million
metric tons of crude oil per year from Azerbaijan and Central Asia. It appears
routing options beginning in Baku and transiting Armenia or Georgia to Ceyhan
will be evaluated. According to the news release, World Bank assistance for the
study does not imply a commitment to further finance the pipeline as it is
expected to be built and financed by the private sector. -- Lowell Bezanis
NEW APPOINTMENTS IN KAZAKSTAN.
A rash of new appointments was made in
the Kazakstani government and presidential apparatus on 17 September, RFE/RL
reported the same day. Former Finance Minister Aleksander Pavlov was named
Deputy Prime Minister, Nurtay Abykhayev is now senior aide to President
Nursultan Nazarbayev, while Alikhan Baymenov has been made deputy director of
the presidential administration. -- Lowell Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan
NAZARBAYEV IN BAKU.
Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his
Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliyev signed a treaty outlining the basic
principles governing relations between their countries, a joint statement on
the Caspian Sea, and 10 inter-governmental agreements in Baku on 16 September,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The statement on the Caspian Sea calls
for its demilitarization and the need to intensify negotiations between
littoral states to determine the sea's legal status, ITAR-TASS reported. While
in Baku, Nazarbayev expressed an interest in Kazakstan's participating in a
prospective Transcaucasian railway line which Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia have agreed to build. -- Lowell Bezanis
RAHKMONOV IN CHINA.
The presidents of Tajikistan and China, Immomali
Rakhmonov and Jiang Zemin, signed a series of bilateral cooperation agreements
in Beijing on 16 September, AFP reported. The accords appear to be mainly
symbolic and include one on environmental protection and academic exchanges,
and another on judicial cooperation. -- Lowell Bezanis
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WILL SEEK A SECOND TERM.
Leonid Kuchma announced on
Ukrainian television on 16 September that he will seek a second five-year term
in the next elections scheduled for October 1999, Western agencies reported. He
explained his decision by noting that world experience indicated that "ten
years is the minimum period for a country that has started radical reforms to
see results." The constitution that was passed this June limits the president
to two consecutive terms. -- Saulius Girnius
NATO OFFICIAL OFFERS UKRAINE "SPECIAL PARTNERSHIP."
President of the
North Atlantic Assembly Karsten Voigt said in Kyiv on 16 September that
"Ukraine has the chance to establish a special partnership status with NATO,"
Western agencies reported. While Voigt did not define the "special" status, he
said it would not jeopardize Ukrainian ties with Russia. Ukrainian officials
have maintained that the country has no interest in full NATO membership, but
it has participated actively in the Partnership for Peace program. -- Saulius
ESTONIA "GRADUATES" FROM USAID.
U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Lawrence
Taylor read a letter from President Bill Clinton in Tallinn on 16 September at
ceremonies officially ending U.S. Agency for International Development
assistance to the country, Western agencies reported. Since 1991 Estonia has
received about $30 million for projects supporting the reestablishment of
democracy and promoting economic reform and environmental protection. President
Lennart Meri and Prime Minister Tiit Vahi expressed thanks for the aid and
satisfaction that Estonia is the first East European country considered to have
advanced to the point that it no longer needs assistance to create a free
market economy. -- Saulius Girnius
28 PARTIES COMPETE IN LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
Only four of
the 33 eligible political parties and organizations failed to register their
candidates with the Supreme Election Commission for the 20 October parliament
elections by the deadline of midnight of 16 September, Radio Lithuania
reported. The Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees unexpectedly decided
not to join a planned coalition with the Democratic Party and National Union,
but those two parties nevertheless formed the only formal pre-election
coalition. Some 1,400 candidates have been registered to compete for the 141
parliament seats. If the presented lists of at least 1,000 eligible voters are
approved, there will also be more than 30 independent candidates. Following
confirmation of the applications, ballot lists are scheduled to be printed in
the state newspaper Valstybes zinios on 20 September. -- Saulius
NEW WARSAW DAILY.
The pilot issue of the new Warsaw daily Zycie
(Life) appeared on 16 September. Tomasz Wolek, Zycie editor in chief,
said a large group of potential readers looking for a traditional, bourgeois,
and conservative paper, still does not have a journal; Zycie is to fill this
gap. The paper is to be published by a Polish-German company owned by Wolek and
two businessmen. The company has raised nearly $10 million to cover publishing
costs. Wolek was until May the editor in chief of Zycie Warszawy. He and
other Zycie editors left Zycie Warszawy when the paper changed
ownership and the editorial policies. The first regular issue of Zycie
is scheduled to appear on 28 September. -- Jakub Karpinski
CZECH PRESIDENT STARTS TOUR OF SOUTH AMERICA.
Vaclav Havel arrived in
Brazil on 15 September for a week-long official visit, Czech and international
media reported. The tour of Brazil is to be followed by visits to Chile,
Argentina, and Uruguay. On 16 September, Havel met Brazilian President Henrique
Cardoso. The two politicians discussed bilateral economic ties and global
issues, such as the reform of the United Nations. Havel is accompanied by Trade
Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and a group of Czech entrepreneurs. Dlouhy told
reporters that the Czech company Skoda was considering building a truck factory
in Brazil. -- Jiri Pehe
CZECH BANK CRISIS SPREADS.
The Czech National Bank announced on 16
September that the country's largest private bank, Agrobanka, "has suffered
money-flow problems as a result of the recent collapse of Kreditni Banka," and
that the National Bank is temporarily naming its own administrator to take over
the bank, Czech media reported. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, admitted the
same day that "not everything is in order in our banking sector" and demanded
investigation into criminal activities. At the same time, Klaus condemned "some
political parties" for trying to make political capital out of the crisis and
said there is "no reason for panic." Also on 16 September, the financial group
Motoinvest, whose officials have been charged with crimes related to the
collapse of Kreditni Banka, accused an official of the coalition Civic
Democratic Alliance (ODA) of accepting kickbacks from the bank and being partly
responsible for its collapse. The ODA has promptly rejected the charges.
According to Business Central Europe, Motoinvest is a major shareholder
in Agrobanka. -- Jiri Pehe
CZECH GOVERNMENT TO FREE ENERGY PRICES.
The economic ministers of the
Czech government recommended at their 16 September meeting that energy prices
be gradually freed over the next two years, Czech media reported. At the same
time, the ministers agreed that families with lower incomes need to be
compensated for the higher energy prices. Czech Labor Minister Jindrich Vodicka
said the higher energy prices will also be reflected in increases in pensions.
Energy prices have been subsidized by the state, and the cost of producing
energy is currently higher than its sale price. The opposition Social Democrats
have said they are not against freeing energy prices but want first to study
the possible impact of the measure. -- Jiri Pehe
OECD RELEASES REPORT ON SLOVAKIA.
In a report released on 16 September,
the OECD says that the quick economic growth of Slovakia has astonished many
analysts, Slovak and international media reported. Slovakia recorded one of the
best macroeconomic performances among Central and East European countries. The
country's gross domestic product grew by 7.4% in 1995. The inflation rate,
which stood at 25.1% at the end of 1993, was reduced to 6.1% by May 1996. State
budget and current account balances recorded surpluses in 1995. The
unemployment rate peaked at the beginning of 1995, with 15%, but fell to 11.9%
by May 1996. The report focuses on the need to restructure the banking sector
and privatized companies. It also deals extensively with Slovakia's potential
for expanding its tourist industry. -- Jiri Pehe
CONTROVERSY OVER HUNGARY'S DRAFT CONSTITUTION.
The six-party agreement
within the Hungarian parliament's constitution committee that has facilitated
the drafting of a new constitution may be breaking down, Nepszabadsag
reported on 17 September. Deputies from the opposition Christian Democratic
Party are threatening to boycott constitution committee sessions unless their
demands for a plebiscite on the basic rules of the constitution are accepted.
Socialist Party deputy Mihaly Bihari told Nepszabadsag that the
Christian Democrats' stand can only be interpreted as a putsch against the
six-party agreement on constitutional reform. Although the draft constitution
has been amended frequently since 1989, Hungary is still working with the 1949
constitution set up by the communist regime. -- Petronella Gaal and Ben Slay
IZETBEGOVIC LEADS IN BOSNIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE.
Izetbegovic is ahead of his top challenger for the Muslim seat on the Bosnian
presidency, Haris Silajdzic, by 81% to 15%, OMRI's special correspondent
reported from Sarajevo on 17 September. In the Serb race, Momcilo Krajisnik has
78%, but his opposition challenger Mladen Ivanic has 20%, a remarkably strong
showing given the hold of the governing Serbian Democratic Party on the police
and the media. A similar development is taking place among the Croats, where
Kresimir Zubak is polling only 85% despite his Croatian Democratic Community's
virtual monopoly on Croatian political life. His opponent, Ivo Komsic, has 13%
support as of 9:00 a.m. Izetbegovic narrowly leads Krajisnik in total number of
votes, which puts him in line to be the first to hold the rotating chair of
three-man presidency, Reuters noted. CNN said that final presidential returns
are expected later in the day. The complete tally for all contests is not due
until later this week. -- Patrick Moore
NATIONALISTS RIDING HIGH IN BOSNIA.
Despite the challenges offered by
Silajdzic, Ivanic, and Komsic, it seems clear that the three nationalist
candidates will sweep the race. Similar results can be expected across the
board, except perhaps for isolated cases such as Tuzla, where the
anti-nationalist tradition is strong. U.S. envoy John Kornblum is now stressing
the need to build common institutions, but it is difficult to see how this will
happen with nationalists in control of all three groups. OMRI's special
correspondent reported from Sarajevo on 17 September that the Bihac pocket
kingpin and enemy of Izetbegovic, Fikret Abdic, attracted few votes in his
presidential challenge. In Muslim-held Bugojno, experts said that the bomb that
blew up the home of a prominent Croat on 13 September was the work of a
professional, Onasa reported on 16 September. -- Patrick Moore
IZETBEGOVIC AND MILOSEVIC TO MEET.
French Foreign Minister Herve de
Charette confirmed on 16 September that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and
his Serbian counterpart Slobodan Milosevic would meet in Paris this week, AFP
reported. The summit will be the first bilateral meeting between the two
presidents, although they have met at several international conferences on
Bosnia. Despite an earlier visit to Belgrade by Ejup Ganic, the Bosnian
Federation vice president, after which communication lines between the two
countries were reestablished, Belgrade has yet not formally recognized the
Sarajevo government. Belgrade warned it would not establish diplomatic ties
with Bosnia until Bosnia dropped a charge of genocide filed against rump
Yugoslavia with the Hague-based criminal tribunal. -- Daria Sito Sucic
BOSNIAN SERBS WANT TO PLACE JOINT INSTITUTIONS ON DEMARCATION LINE.
Aleksa Buha, head of the Bosnian Serb ruling Serbian Democratic Party
(SDS), on Serbian TV expressed worry about the location of future common
governmental institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and said that equality must
prevail, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported on 17 September.
"There was plenty of time for [the international community's high
representative] Carl Bildt and
[deputy high representative] Michael
Steiner to find premises on the demarcation line between the Bosnian Federation
and the Republika Srpska, or even to build new buildings [along that line]. I
foresee further problems regarding this issue," Oslobodjenje quoted him
as saying. Buha called the postponement of municipal elections in Bosnia an
irrational decision. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SERBIAN STRIKE MARKS TWENTY-FIRST DAY.
About 20,000 workers, including
those from the Zastava arms plant and the local automobile manufacturer, and
their supporters demonstrated in Kragujevac on 16 September, the 21st day of
the strike, Nasa Borba reported the following day. The job action shows
no sign of letting up, and some participants predict that "the entire city of
Kragujevac will hit the streets" within a day. On 14 September, however, Beta
had reported that the workers had met with a partial success in having received
an "advance" payment for July wages in arrears. Kragujevac Zastava autoworkers
also received the promise of a 120 dinar ($24) bonus, Beta reported. -- Stan
THE POLITICS OF POPULARITY IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
According to a recent
poll of 1,045 citizens of rump Yugoslavia, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic
remains by far the most popular politician in the country. Nearly 46% of
respondents picked Milosevic as the most popular and effective politician,
while Montenegrin opposition leader Novak Killibarda came in second with 12.4%.
Ultranationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj
Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic tied for third, each garnering the
approval of about 9.5% of survey participants. In Serbia proper, Milosevic was
supported by 54.2% of respondents, with Seselj coming in a distant second with
12.45 support. Vecernje novosti reported the poll results on 14
September. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIA, HUNGARY SIGN HISTORIC TREATY.
The Romanian and Hungarian prime
ministers, Nicolae Vacaroiu and Gyula Horn, on 16 September signed a basic
bilateral treaty that is aimed at controlling the two countries' historic
rivalry over the province of Transylvania, local and Western media reported.
The document was signed in the western Romanian town of Timisoara, the cradle
of the December 1989 revolt that marked the end of the Communist regime in
Romania. Romanian President Ion Iliescu, as well as the foreign ministers and
political leaders from both countries, attended the ceremony. Romania's two
main ultra-nationalist parties, the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) and
the Greater Romania Party, boycotted the event. PUNR leader Gheorghe Funar, who
is also mayor of Cluj, proclaimed 16 September a "day of mourning" there. --
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TREATY.
The United States
on 16 September congratulated the Romanian and Hungarian governments for their
signing of the basic treaty on that day, Reuters reported. According to State
Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, the treaty "demonstrates the commitment of
Hungary and Romania to rejoin the Western community of democratic nations and
is consistent with the purposes of NATO enlargement." The treaty drew a cooler
response from Moscow, AFP reported on 17 September. Although a Foreign Ministry
statement did offer some words of praise, it also said: "Russia's attitude to
enlargement of NATO eastward is well known in Hungary and Romania, as is the
belief that our relations would only gain if this attitude were taken more
fully into account." -- Ben Slay
ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER REGISTERS AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
Vadim Tudor, chairman of the extremist Greater Romania Party, on 16 September
registered as candidate in the presidential race to take place on 3 November,
Radio Bucharest reported. Tudor, who was accompanied by 40 associates and fans,
presented a list with 125,000 signatures in support of his candidacy. Tudor
pledged that if he is elected, he will rule Romania with "the Bible in one hand
and the constitution in the other." He also said that he wished Romania to get
back "its natural borders, [as they were set] on 1 December 1918." Tudor is the
seventh candidate to formally register with the authorities. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN, DNIESTER EXPERTS RESUME TALKS.
Expert teams from the Republic
of Moldova and the self-declared Dniester Moldovan Republic met on 16 September
in Tiraspol to continue negotiations over the Dniester region's legal status
within the Moldovan state, BASA-press reported. The meeting was the first since
June, when talks broke down following a chill in Chisinau-Tiraspol relations.
Moldovan Deputy Foreign Minister Vasile Sova told journalists that another
meeting might follow soon, with the participation of mediators from the OSCE,
Russia, and Ukraine. The main stumbling block in the negotiations appears to be
Tiraspol's insistence that Moldova recognize its distinct statehood within the
framework of a loose confederation. -- Dan Ionescu
DRASTIC MEASURES FOR THE BULGARIAN ECONOMY.
Bulgarian local and national
government leaders and leaders of the parliamentary Democratic Left held a
closed meeting on 15 September, Bulgarian newspapers reported the next day.
Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said the meeting's aim was to introduce the
government's strategy for overcoming the national economic crisis, 24 Chasa
reported. Some 14 banks will close, and some may be put under
special governmental supervision, Demokratsiya reported. Depositor
insurance is currently 100% for private persons and 50% for enterprises; the
new insurance reportedly will not exceed 20% in cash repayments for any
account, but depositors may expect 100% repayment in government bonds. Pari
on 17 September reported that the meeting also addressed privatizing state
firms, including those no longer needed for military production. The Bulgarian
government vowed to take drastic measures following the IMF refusal of
additional loans. -- Maria Koinova
FOUR ALBANIAN COMMUNISTS SENTENCED FOR SETTING UP PARTY.
A Tirana court
led by Gjergj Pojani on 16 September sentenced four Albanians to 12-18 months
in prison for founding a communist party and trying to overthrow the government
by violence, AFP reported. The four (Timoshenko Pekmezi, 54; Sami Meta, 52;
Tare Isufi, 73; and Kristaq Mosko, 45) were arrested in February during an
investigation into a car-bomb explosion in Tirana, but the charges brought
against them were not related to the incident. Pojani said the four were
convicted "not because of their beliefs and communist convictions but because
of their anti-constitutional activities." Communist parties have been banned in
Albania since June 1992. The defendants had allegedly made organizational
preparations and collected propaganda material. They said they would appeal the
case. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN WORKERS STAGE GENERAL STRIKE.
Some 150,000 public-sector
workers staged a one-hour warning strike on 16 September, Reuters reported.
They demanded full compensation from the government for recent price hikes in
bread, gas, and fuel and for rising inflation. The Independent Trade Union and
the Confederation of Albanian Trade Unions met government officials later that
day but no results were announced. The unions threatened to hold a one-day
strike in two weeks if no compromise is found. Workers in education, energy,
health care, telecommunications, transport, and light industry participated in
the strike, which also affected more than 700,000 pupils. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Susan Caskie