SELEZNEV: YELTSIN SHOULD STEP DOWN IF OPERATION IS CANCELED.
Speaker Gennadii Seleznev argued that
President Boris Yeltsin should
step down if doctors refuse to perform bypass surgery, since Russia cannot
afford to have its president adopt an "easy work schedule," Russian and Western
agencies reported on 23 September. Article 92 of the Constitution stipulates
that the president must step down if he becomes persistently unable to fulfill
his duties but outlines no procedure for evaluating the president's abilities.
Also on 23 September, while visiting the Council of Europe in Strasbourg,
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told Reuters that the Kremlin had
committed "falsification" by not informing voters before the second round of
the presidential election that Yeltsin was having serious heart trouble. --
KREMLIN DENOUNCES ARTICLE ON YELTSIN'S HEALTH.
Sergei Yastrzhembskii denounced an article which appeared in the Financial
Times that claimed Yeltsin is so sick that he can work only 15 minutes a day
and is unable to sign documents, Russian Public TV reported on 23 September.
Yastrzhembskii said that the article was full of incorrect information and
wondered why the paper would print a report that caused the price of Russian
debt to drop on the London exchange. The Russian press widely reported the
arrival of American surgeon Michael DeBakey, who will participate in the 25
September meeting to determine when Yeltsin's operation will take place.
DeBakey said that the doctors would not operate if there was a great risk to
Yeltsin or if surgery would not improve his condition. -- Robert Orttung
CHAOS IN GROZNY.
An NTV correspondent in Grozny described the current
situation there as "destruction and chaos." The former fear of aerial attack
has been replaced by a fear of marauders and thieves. Although Deputy Minister
for Internal Affairs Valerii Fedorov announced that Russian law rather than
Islamic law would prevail, there are no police, courts, or prisons. The united
law enforcement agencies set up following the Lebed-Maskhadov accords have
about 500 members, ITAR-TASS reported. These men are operating check points,
removing explosive devices, and escorting troop columns. -- Robert Orttung
YANDARBIEV ADDRESSES CHECHENS.
Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan
Yandarbiev was hospitalized at an undisclosed location early on 23 September
for food poisoning. In an evening broadcast, however, he looked healthy,
ITAR-TASS reported. He called on the residents of his republic to seek national
agreement, since "it will be practically impossible to build an independent
state in Chechnya without mutual forgiveness and understanding." He said it was
acceptable to form an unarmed opposition to the authorities, but not an unarmed
or armed opposition to one's own people. He stressed that the new criminal code
he introduced on 12 September remained in effect throughout the republic,
except in the parts of Grozny under joint Russian-Chechen patrols. School
children will study Arabic and the basics of Islam, but the state languages
will remain Chechen and Russian. -- Robert Orttung
COUNCIL OF EUROPE POSTPONES CHECHNYA HEARING.
In the absence of Security
Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov,
the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly on 23 September postponed its
hearing on the Chechen conflict until at least November. Russia had objected to
the session, arguing that Chechnya was an internal problem. However, members
warned that the assembly should not be intimidated by Russia and argued that
Chechnya is "Europe's problem," RFE/RL reported. The chairwoman of the
assembly, Leni Fisher, expressed dismay at the political games in Moscow
surrounding the session, NTV reported. A lower ranking Chechen group, including
the rebels' designated foreign minister Ruslan Chimaev, attended the Strasbourg
session, as did Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Yabloko's Vladimir
Lukin, and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Reuters and
NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung
GAIDAR CALLS FOR LIBERAL COALITION.
Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR)
leader Yegor Gaidar said that his party resolved at its 21 September congress
to make "presenting a liberal alternative to the status quo" its new primary
objective, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 23 September. In the past,
Gaidar noted, the DVR's main task had been "preventing a Communist revanche,"
but now the party would focus on changing the "corrupt" form of capitalism
developing in Russia. Gaidar said Democratic Russia, Irina Khakamada's Common
Cause movement, and Yurii Chernichenko's Peasants' Party might join a new
alliance of liberal groups. However, he said Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko
would not be included, since it was more a "social-democratic" than a liberal
party. -- Laura Belin
LEBED: SANCTIONS FOR WESTERN FIRMS IF NATO EXPANDS.
In an interview with
The Daily Telegraph published on 24 September, Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed threatened to impose economic sanctions against
American and German firms operating in Russia if NATO expands eastwards. He
told the British paper that "we will find ways to hit the proponents of this
policy where it hurts," warning that "German and American interests in Russia
will suffer directly as a result of enlargement plans." Lebed, who has
expressed contradictory opinions about NATO enlargement in the past, argued
that NATO expansion could be seen as an attempt by Germany to establish a
"Fourth Reich," contending that German policy on the issue appears "sinister"
to "foreign observers." Lebed, who has never visited the West, is slated to
visit NATO headquarters to discuss the issue on 7-8 October. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA, U.S. ISSUE JOINT DECLARATION ON ABM TREATY.
Meeting in New York,
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his American counterpart Warren
Christopher issued a joint declaration partially clarifying the terms of the
1972 ABM treaty, Western and Russian agencies reported on 23 September. Ongoing
talks seek agreement on the technical parameters defining which missile systems
are prohibited by the treaty and which permitted. The declaration confirms a
June agreement by Russian and American negotiators, under which missile defense
systems with interceptor velocities under 3 km/second will be regarded as
"tactical" and hence permitted under the treaty. A second phase of the talks,
scheduled to open on 7 October will discuss how to treat systems with higher
interceptor velocities. The two diplomats also discussed NATO expansion, the
former Yugoslovia, and the situation in Iraq, but failed to resolve outstanding
differences on these subjects. -- Scott Parrish
ROKHLIN AGAINST START-II RATIFICATION.
The State Duma is unlikely to
ratify the START-II nuclear arms reduction treaty, according to Lev Rokhlin,
the chairman of the Duma's defense committee. He told ITAR-TASS on 23 September
that signing the treaty was "a serious unilateral concession to the West" on
Russia's part and implementing it would mean "betraying the national interests
of Russia." Under Russian law, a majority of the members of both houses of the
Federal Assembly must vote for ratification if the treaty is to be approved. --
ST. PETERSBURG-LENINGRAD OBLAST MAY MERGE.
St. Petersburg Mayor Vladimir
Yakovlev and Leningrad Oblast Governor Aleksandr Belyakov initialed an
agreement on 22 September on the gradual unification of the city and oblast
into a single administrative unit, Radio Rossii reported. The agreement will be
discussed by the city and oblast legislatures, and the final decision on the
projected merger will be made by a popular referendum.
STRIKES SPREAD IN ENERGY SECTOR...
As a strike and hunger strike by
energy workers in Primorskii Krai continued on 23 September, a strike committee
representative threatened acts of civil disobedience if wages are not soon
paid, ORT reported. Seven hunger strikers who have been without food for three
weeks are said to be in a serious condition. Blaming the energy crisis on the
coal company Rosugol and Russia's Joint Energy System, Primorskii Krai Governor
Yevgenii Nazdratenko contended that many regions have similar problems but
their leaders conceal their difficulties for fear of the central authorities.
In Sakha (Yakutiya), 6,000 power workers went on strike over wage arrears; one
of Yakutenergo's largest debtors is Diamonds of Russia-Sakha, which owes 400
billion rubles. In Kamchatka, the local power company has asked the oblast
governor to declare a state of emergency in the sector because of payments
problems. -- Penny Morvant
...AND DEFENSE INDUSTRY.
Workers at the Zvezda nuclear submarine
maintenance plant in Bolshoi Kamen in Primore staged a one-day strike on 23
September to protest wage arrears, ORT reported. A similar stoppage took place
the same day at a nuclear submarine plant at Severodvinsk near Arkhangelsk. The
enterprise is owed about 1 trillion rubles for state orders and is unable to
pay wages or taxes, ITAR-TASS reported. The tax shortfall means that social
services for the city's 250,000 residents have also been badly affected. --
IMF SATISFIED WITH RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE.
IMF experts visiting
Moscow on a working mission to monitor Russia's adherence to the conditions of
a $10.1 billion extended facility fund were satisfied with the country's
economic performance, Segodnya reported on 21 September. The budget
deficit was only 2.2% of GDP (according to Russian calculating procedures) and
the rate of inflation almost hit zero in August. The IMF hailed the
government's efforts to boost tax revenue, which peaked at 20 trillion rubles
($3.7 billion) in August. The disbursement of July's tranche of the loan was
delayed due to insufficient tax collection in the first half of the year. The
IMF group was also satisfied with the state of Russia's net domestic assets and
net foreign exchange reserves, which did not overshoot the target levels. --
LEBED SEEKS ROLE IN LOANS-FOR-SHARES AUCTIONS.
President Yeltsin has
instructed Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to work together on the issue of loans-for-shares auctions and to
report on a draft decision by 1 October, Kommersant-Daily reported on 21
September. Yeltsin's instruction is in response to a request by Lebed and
Sergei Glazev, the head of the Security Council's administration of economic
security, to put off the deadline for such sales. Lebed also suggested that the
shares be sold in 10-15% packages, following international tender rules.
Lebed's proposals concern not only the sale of shares but the whole
loans-for-share system and related investigation of banking activities. The
government, criticizing the draft resolution of the Security Council, is
preparing its own version, which does not change the sales deadline. -- Ritsuko
ARMENIAN ELECTION RESULTS IN DISPUTE.
The outcome of Armenia's
presidential election appears unclear in the face of contradictory figures
emanating from the Central Election Commission, claims and counter-claims of
victory made by rival sides, and charges of ballot rigging, international media
reported on 23 September. Incumbent President Levon Ter-Petrossyan claimed
victory on the basis of incomplete results which gave him 56.9% of the vote to
35.6% for his chief rival, Vazgen Manukyan. Manukyan and his supporters claim
that these figures are the reverse of the truth. Between 25,000 and 100,000
people, according to varying estimates, joined an opposition rally in Yerevan
on 23 September and marched on the Central Election Commission building to
demand Ter-Petrossyan's resignation. The New York Times, citing
an unnamed "senior election monitor," reported on 24 September that "a lot of
clear and blatant fraud" occurred during the balloting. -- Lowell Bezanis
IDA LOAN TO AZERBAIJAN.
The World Bank's International Development
Association has approved a credit of some $20 million to rehabilitate and
improve Azerbaijan's gas delivery system, RFE/RL reported on 23 September. The
credit will be given to the government of Azerbaijan which, in turn, will lend
it to Azerigas to upgrade the gas system's analytical equipment and improve its
corporate management. The bank had identified Azerbaijan as the country most
dependent upon natural gas in the world. The present distribution system loses
or is unable to account for an estimated 20% of its inputs. -- Lowell Bezanis
RUSSIAN JOURNALIST IN TROUBLE OVER SECRET LETTER.
The publication of a
letter allegedly sent by Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev to his Uzbek
counterpart Islam Karimov (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 September 1996) has
been traced back to a Russian journalist working for Izvestiya, NTV
reported on 23 September. The report quoted Kazakstani media as saying
Nazarbayev has promised to expel the journalist, Vladimir Ardiev. The letter
reportedly referred to Kazakstan's disenchantment with the customs union of
Russia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus. Nazarbayev denies any such letter
was ever sent and called reports of it "provocation." NTV noted the letter was
first reported by RFE/RL and later obtained by at least four other agencies,
but that only the Izvestiya reporter was facing trouble on account of
it. -- Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan
TAJIK DIPLOMAT EXPELLED FROM IRAN.
The Iranian government on 23
September told the Tajik Charge d'Affaires in Tehran, Tashmet Nazirov, to leave
the country within 24 hours, AFP reported. The reason given for the expulsion
was "activities incompatible" with Nazirov's diplomatic status. The move by the
Iranians is seen as retaliation for the 20 September arrest and expulsion of an
unnamed Iranian diplomat in Dushanbe, who was accused of committing unspecified
"hostile acts." -- Bruce Pannier
U.S. DEMANDS EXPLANATION FROM BELARUS.
The U.S. embassy in Minsk has
announced it is asking the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to clarify President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka's televised statements that the U.S. and other Western
embassies are trying to destabilize Belarus, international agencies reported on
23 September. U.S. State Department spokesman Glyn Davies called the statements
"outrageous and provocative." Lukashenka the previous day had appeared on
Belarusian TV claiming that U.S. and British diplomats were offering cash to
Belarusian politicians who stymied his initiatives. Meanwhile, Belarusian
Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu met with his Chinese counterpart, Chi Haotian,
in Beijing on 23 September, international agencies reported. Chi said China's
armed forces were ready to develop "all-round and all-faceted friendship and
cooperation" with the Belarusian military. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT COMPLETES FORMATION OF NEW GOVERNMENT.
has completed forming the new government, Ukrainian and Western agencies
reported on 23 September. He appointed Viktor Pynzenyk as deputy prime minister
for the economy and Anatolii Minchenko as minister for industrial policy and
the energy complex. Pynzenyk, a prominent reformer, is unpopular with the large
leftist contingent in the parliament. He is due to present the government's
economic program to lawmakers on 25 September. Minchenko is an academic and
former head of the Ukrainian Association of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINE TO SEEK FULL CONVERTIBILITY OF HRYVNYA.
National Bank of Ukraine
Governor Viktor Yushchenko has said Ukraine will soon take steps to make its
new currency, the hryvnya, fully convertible on international markets, Radio
Ukraine reported on 23 September. Yushchenko said the move is aimed at boosting
the new tender. The government will consider such measures as pegging the
hryvnya to another currency and introducing a narrow currency exchange band
similar to Russia's. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN FOREIGN NEWS ROUNDUP.
The World Bank has approved a $2.6
million loan to Ukraine to finance the installation of an automated data
processing system for its Housing and Municipal Service program, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported on 23 September. Ronald Freeman, vice president of the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, met with Prime Minister Pavlo
Lazarenko in Kyiv last week to discuss exploration projects for oil and gas in
the Black Sea shelf and the completion of two reactors at the Khmelnitsky and
Rivne nuclear power stations, Ukrainian radio reported. Lazarenko said there
could be no delay in completing the reactors because 103 coal mines were to be
closed by the end of 1997. Meanwhile, Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak
arrived in Kyiv on 24 September. The two countries signed an agreement on
military cooperation. -- Ustina Markus
U.S. DAILY QUERIES UKRAINE'S ENTRY INTO MISSILE PACT.
Times on 23 September criticized proposed U.S. policy changes allowing
Ukraine to join the 28-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) while
continuing to produce missiles. The MTCR restricts members from exporting
missiles whose range exceeds 186 miles and warheads heavier than 1,100 pounds.
It also facilitates sharing missile technology among members. Argentina and
South Africa both gave up their missile programs to join the MTCR, but in 1993,
the U.S. redefined the MTCR restriction as covering only "offensive" missiles.
This created a loophole for MTCR members to build space launchers, which are
virtually identical to warhead-carrying missiles. It is unlikely Ukraine would
be willing to give up it missile programs to join the MTCR, but several unnamed
U.S. officials are afraid that if an exception is made for Ukraine, the MTCR
would be dealt a "mortal blow." -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA, RUSSIA AGREE TO EXCHANGE LAKESIDE REGIONS.
Delegations to the
Estonian-Russian border talks in St. Petersburg on 19 and 20 September, while
failing to reach a final solution, did agree on the exchange of territory
bordering Lake Peipus, BNS reported on 21 September. Estonia is to give Russia
4.9 square kilometers of land to the north of the lake, receiving in exchange
an equal-sized area near the island of Piirissaar and the Varska area to the
south. The next round of talks is tentatively scheduled for the end of October
in Tallinn. -- Saulius Girnius
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA.
Leonid Kuchma, during his two-day
visit to Lithuania from 23-24 September, met with his Lithuanian counterpart,
Algirdas Brazauskas, Radio Lithuania reported. The presidents signed a joint
declaration affirming that the two countries are prepared to contribute to the
creation of a new European security system. Foreign Ministers Povilas Gylys and
Hennadii Udovenko signed an agreement on travel by their citizens and on the
return of illegal migrants. The countries' finance ministers also signed
agreements on avoiding double taxation and financial violations. Kuchma also
met with Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius and Lithuanian businessmen. --
POLAND HAD SPIES IN VATICAN DURING COMMUNIST ERA.
Interior Ministry (MSW) had agents in the Vatican during the 1960s and 1970s,
the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel revealed on 21 September. The paper
quoted East German secret service (Stasi) files that included reports on Pope
Paul VI's talks with the French and British foreign ministers as well as German
Chancellor Willy Brandt. A former Polish secret service officer told Zycie
Warszawy that a clergyman close to two popes was an MSW agent whose reports
to Warsaw were forwarded to Moscow and Berlin. But former MSW Minister
Krzysztof Kozlowski said Polish priests in the Vatican were too low-ranking for
them to have access to the kind of information included in the Stasi
files. -- Jakub Karpinski
JOURNALIST ON U.S. FUNDING FOR SOLIDARITY IN 1980s.
to be published in the U.S. today, journalist Carl Bernstein says that during
the 1980s, the CIA and Western trade unions financially supported Solidarity to
the tune of some $50 million, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Bernstein claims
his information was obtained from confidential CIA sources and confirmed by
retired CIA head Robert Gates and former President Ronald Reagan's national
security adviser, William Clark. Gates denied revealing such information,
adding that the amount quoted by Bernstein is too high and that information on
CIA funding is classified.
Bernstein is known for his role in uncovering
the Watergate affair, which ended President Richard Nixon's political career in
1974. -- Jakub Karpinski and Beata Pasek
STRIFE AMONG CZECH OPPOSITION PARTIES.
Leaders of the Communist Party of
Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) have criticized the Social Democratic Party (CSSD)
for refusing to back the KSCM's demand to recall the minority government, Czech
media reported on 24 September. The KSCM intends to propose a vote of no
confidence in Vaclav Klaus's government at the next parliamentary session. The
extreme-right Republican Party has announced it will support the KSCM, but CSSD
representatives have indicated that the two other opposition parties cannot
count on its support. CSSD deputy Pavel Dostal on 22 September called the
attempts to dismiss the right-of-center government "a populist measure." He
said that dismissing the government amid the current banking scandal would
further shake foreign investors' confidence in the country. -- Jiri Pehe
OPINION POLL SHOWS CZECH RULING COALITION AHEAD.
An opinion poll
conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research (IVVM) in early
September--before the latest banking scandal--indicated that the ruling
coalition would gain 114 seats in the 200-strong parliament. In the June
elections, the three coalition parties gained only 99 seats and had to form a
minority government. The poll, published in the Czech press on 24 September,
showed that Klaus's Civic Democratic Party would gain 25% of the vote, the
Social Democrats 24%, the Christian Democrats 11%, the Communist Party 9%, and
the Civic Democratic Alliance (8%). The extreme-right Republicans would fail to
win any seats. However, the Republicans traditionally gain more support in
elections than in opinion polls. -- Jiri Pehe
U.S.-SLOVAK MILITARY COOPERATION OFFICE OPENS IN BRATISLAVA.
Defense Minister Jan Sitek opened a Consolidated Military Assistance Office in
Bratislava on 23 September, TASR reported. U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ralph
Johnson and military and air force attaches accredited in Slovakia attended the
opening ceremony. The office is to coordinate all joint military activities
undertaken by the Slovak and U.S. armed forces. -- Jiri Pehe
HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT CRITICIZES SLOVAK BAN ON FOREIGN ANTHEMS.
Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), the junior coalition partner, and the
opposition parties on 23 September strongly criticized the Slovak parliament's
recent ban on singing foreign national anthems in public, Hungarian media
reported. They argued that the ban violates the basic treaty between the two
countries, which entered into force earlier this year. The Foreign Ministry has
already protested the issue to Slovakia. Opposition politicians warned that
there is no guarantee that Romania will not act in a similar fashion, thereby
violating the basic treaty it signed with Hungary last week. Meanwhile, the
opposition has called on the government to clarify why both countries' media
were given a preliminary rather than final version of the text of the
Romanian-Hungarian treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
DOUBTS GROW ABOUT BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
A quick recount of votes on 22
September confirmed that the three nationalist parties won the 14 September
vote, but more questions are being raised about how free and fair the ballot
was. No single example of gross fraud has been given, but various violations
across Bosnia-Herzegovina led to vote totals vastly exceeding the originally
estimated 60-70% turnout, Reuters reported on 24 September. In some cases, the
results were as high as 111% in what a spokesman for the NGO International
Crisis Group called "a mathematical impossibility." Controls were lax, monitors
were present at only a third of the stations, and one monitor told OMRI that
IFOR seemed to regard his colleagues as a nuisance. The OSCE, which supervises
the elections, nonetheless appears anxious to validate the vote. OMRI's special
correspondent reports from Sarajevo that the OSCE may well say that the various
sides' "dirty tricks" canceled each other out and that the vote was basically
fair. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIAN SERBS GIVE MUSLIMS ULTIMATUM TO LEAVE VILLAGE.
authorities have given an ultimatum to a group of some 100 Muslims who on 22
September returned to the village of Jusici, in eastern Bosnia, carrying
weapons that are banned in the separation zone, Reuters reported. The Muslims
were told to leave by the next day or to be thrown out. That deadline was later
extended to 25 September. AFP quoted NATO sources as saying that moving armed
people into sensitive areas was clearly "provocative" and should have been done
in "phases." Oslobodjenje on 24 September argued that while the Dayton
peace agreement provides for the right of refugees to return to their homes,
international mechanisms were not designed to ensure their safe return. The
Muslims in Jusici were quoted as saying they will stay in the village at the
cost of death, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic
FIFTY BODIES RECOVERED FROM PILICA MASS GRAVE.
working at the Pilica mass grave site in eastern Bosnia have recovered 50
bodies so far, AFP reported on 23 September. The grave--the fourth Srebrenica
site to be excavated--is believed to contain some 100 bodies of Muslim men
killed after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. Some 154 bodies were
recovered from the Cerska mass grave, 33 from Nova Kasaba and at least 58 from
Lazete. Meanwhile, Bosnian government experts have been recovering bodies left
in the open on the Kravice hillside, close to Srebrenica. Finally, war invalids
and dependents of soldiers killed in the war demonstrated in Tuzla and the
village of Gornji Rahici on 23 September to demand their pensions,
Oslobodjenje reported. They have received no payments in six months. --
Daria Sito Sucic
LIFTING OF SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA TO BE POSTPONED?
independent Serbian daily Nasa Borba on 24 September reported that a
disagreement between Moscow and Washington may mean that a UN Security Council
resolution on lifting sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia will be postponed.
Under the Dayton accords, sanctions were to be removed 10 days after elections
took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Sergei Lavrov,
argues that sanctions should be lifted on 24 September, since the elections
took place on 14 September. Washington, however, stresses that the 10-day
period cannot be considered to commence until the election results have been
validated. -- Stan Markotich
UPDATE ON RUMP YUGOSLAV-CROATIAN RELATIONS.
Veljko Knezevic, an official
at Belgrade's embassy in Zagreb, is quoted by Politika on 24 September
as saying that Belgrade is prepared to eliminate visa restrictions for Croatian
citizens. He added that owing to Croatians' "great interest" in traveling to
the rump Yugoslavia, Belgrade is considering opening consular offices
throughout Croatia, including in Osijek and Split. Meanwhile, the Croatian
parliament on 20 September ratified the 23 August accord normalizing relations
with Belgrade. It also adopted legislation granting amnesty to rebel ethnic
Serbs, excluding war criminals, who fought against Croatia in 1991. -- Stan
ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ENTERS ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
speaking on the Radio Bucharest program "Election Tribune" on 23 September,
praised the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) for favoring
Romania's integration into the EU and NATO. He said that President Ion Iliescu
was "probably the only politician who was doing his best for Romania's
[European and Euro-Atlantic] integration." Tinca announced over the 21-22
September weekend his intention to run for the Senate on the PDSR's ticket in
Cluj-Napoca. Last week, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said he would join
the ruling party and run for the Senate. Both Melescanu and Tinca were senior
Foreign Ministry officials under communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. -- Dan
MAJOR HASHISH SEIZURE IN ROMANIA.
In the biggest drugs seizure in
Romania so far this year, border police on 20 September confiscated more than
4.5 tons of hashish at a crossing point on the border with Hungary, Jurnalul
national and Reuters reported on 23 September. The drugs were hidden in two
containers filled with furniture. Romanian investigators are cooperating with
the Bulgarian and Turkish police to find out how the drugs were smuggled into
Romania. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NEW OSCE MISSION HEAD.
Mircea Snegur on 23
September received Donald Johnson, the new head of the OSCE mission in the
Republic of Moldova, BASA-press reported. Johnson told Snegur that he will
continue to uphold the OSCE's position that the breakaway Dniester region is
part of the Moldovan state. Snegur said that Moldova will carry on seeking a
peaceful solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai
Popov and his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, discussed the Dniester
issue in New York, where they are participating in the 51st session of the UN
General Assembly. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE.
The Central Election Committee
has refused to register former caretaker premier Reneta Indzhova as a
presidential candidate, Reuters reported on 23 September. It explained its
decision by noting that her vice presidential candidate, Gen. Stoyan Tsonkov,
is still a member of the armed forces and, as such, is precluded by the
election law from running in the ballot. Indzhova announced that she will
appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, saying a candidate's military status
should not nullify his candidacy. Meanwhile, the parliament has supported a
presidential veto of the country's new coat of arms (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 11 September 1996), Duma reported on 21 September. -- Maria
BULGARIAN ENTERPRISES FOR SALE, BANKS UNDER SUPERVISION.
has approved a list of 15 state-owned enterprises to be privatized in a bid to
gain a $116 million loan from the IMF, international media reported. On that
list are seven major chemical works, two metallurgic plants, two shipyards, and
four engineering companies. Meanwhile, the National Bank on 23 September placed
nine banks teetering on the brink of collapse under government supervision. It
also ordered the restructuring of several others. Five banks--including the
major state-owned Mineral bank and the largest independent bank, First
Private--are currently undergoing bankruptcy procedures, AFP reported on 24
September. -- Maria Koinova
ALBANIAN PUBLIC WORKS MINISTER RESIGNS.
Albert Brojka has resigned in
order to be able to run as a candidate for the Tirana mayoralty in the 20
October local elections, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 24 September.
Meanwhile, Dita Informacion says that the permanent Central Electoral
Commission is not performing its work properly and that disputes between the
Democrats and the opposition are still prevalent. No consensus seems to have
been reached over the radio and TV coverage to be granted each party during the
election campaign. Zeri i Popullit has protested that the local election
law has been violated by President Sali Berisha, who has engaged in election
campaigning, and by public TV, which broadcast four times the opening of the
ruling Democrats' 22 September election campaign. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave