RODIONOV URGES INCREASED MILITARY FUNDING . . .
Defense Minister Igor
Rodionov told a Moscow press conference on 1 October that the 98.7 trillion
rubles ($18 billion) allocated to the armed forces in the draft 1997 budget
will cover only one-third of the military's needs, Russian and Western agencies
reported. While denying that a military rebellion was likely, Rodionov said
that if the government fails to resolve the military's financial problems,
especially chronic wage arrears, "undesirable, uncontrollable processes" may
begin. He added that "Russia may lose its armed forces as an integrated and
militarily effective state structure." The Defense Minister argued that
military reform, including a reduction in the armed forces personnel from 1.5
to 1.2 million, was ready to proceed, but could not move ahead without
sufficient funding. He also expressed doubts that the military could make the
change to an all-professional force by 2000, as President Boris Yeltsin ordered
in May, saying that 2005 was more realistic. -- Scott Parrish
. . . YELTSIN CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT RESPONSE.
At a meeting in the Central
Clinical Hospital the same day, Yeltsin ordered Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to convene a special cabinet meeting to discuss the financing of
the military, ITAR-TASS and ORT reported. He also told Chernomrydin to chair a
session of the Defense Council on 4 October to discuss military reform and
other security issues. The meeting will be the first for the council, which
Yeltsin created in July. Kommersant-Daily on October 2 said the sweeping
proposed agenda for the session again raised the question of the relationship
between the Defense Council and the Security Council. -- Scott Parrish
GAZPROM BATTLES THE TAX MAN.
Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev addressed a
letter to the Duma on 1 October protesting recent actions by the tax
authorities against his company, including the freezing of some bank accounts,
AFP and Kommersant-Daily reported. Gazprom owes 15 trillion rubles ($2.8
billion) in tax arrears -- but is in turn owed 48 trillion by its customers.
Vyakhirev pointedly noted that Gazprom is refraining from cutting off supplies
to these debtors -- which include Moscow, St. Petersburg, Bashkortostan, and
Tatarstan. The IMF has been urging the government to break up Gazprom into half
a dozen smaller companies, and ORT commented that Gazprom sees the tax actions
as part of a "consistent effort by certain unnamed state officials to destroy
Gazprom in its present form." The Duma is set to discuss the 1997 budget draft
later this week, and could be a useful ally for Gazprom. -- Peter Rutland
RUSSIA SETS RECORD IN JOURNALIST DEATHS.
Russia set a "shameful record"
of 34 journalists killed or missing in 1995, according to Pavel Gutiontov,
chairman of the Committee for Defending Freedom of Speech and Journalists'
Rights, RTR and ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October. According to a report from the
International Federation of Journalists, more than half of the 61 journalists
killed worldwide in 1995 were from Russia. Gutiontov noted that the number of
deaths per year had risen sharply since 1991, when two Russian journalists were
killed and two were missing. Furthermore, he said, investigations of such cases
are usually carried out by the victims' families and colleagues rather than law
enforcement agencies. Gutiontov also criticized editors, who he said often send
their correspondents to "hot spots" like Chechnya without providing them with
life insurance. -- Laura Belin
YELTSIN CALLS FOR CIS SUMMIT ON AFGHANISTAN.
President Yeltsin told
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin on 1 October to contact the leaders of the other
CIS states to suggest a CIS summit to review the situation in Afghanistan,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Meanwhile, Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed told a press conference that Afghan's Taliban movement, which
recently seized Kabul, plans to move north into Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Lebed warned that if the Taliban, "backed by Pakistan," combines forces with
the Tajik opposition operating in northern Afghanistan, they could easily
"sweep away Russian border posts in Tajikstan, and the road to the north across
the plains will be open." He urged that Russia support various Afghan warlords
who still might block the Taliban from seizing control of north Afghanistan. --
CHERNOYMYRDIN, LEBED, DENOUNCE NATO EXPANSION.
Speaking after a meeting
in Geneva with Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cottii, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin reaffirmed Russian opposition to NATO enlargment, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 1 October. Chernomyrdin cautioned against
"gambling" with European stability by enlarging the alliance. Meanwhile, in
Moscow, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed said that NATO expansion
"would again lead to hostility and confrontation," since it was clearly
directed against Russia. Moscow could respond, he warned "with rusty, but still
existing missiles." European security could be more effectively and cheaply
bolstered by increasing Western economic aid to Russia rather than enlarging
NATO, he suggested. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN, BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT LEADERS MEET.
Russian State Duma Speaker
Gennadii Seleznev and Belarusian Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetsky met
in Moscow on 1 October to discuss the planned 24 October session of the
parliamentary assembly of the Russo-Belarusian community, ITAR-TASS reported.
At a subsequent press conference, the two politicians expressed the hope that
Ukraine would join the community, although Kyiv has shown no interest in doing
so. Seleznev expressed solidarity with his Belarusian counterpart in the
ongoing political struggle over constitutional reform in Belarus, saying the
Duma supports "the Belarusian parliamentarians in their fight for a truly real
power of parliament." Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, by contrast,
told journalists the same day that Russia shoud support Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who he said "is trying to save the country from crisis."
-- Scott Parrish
MINERS STRIKE IN VORKUTA.
Heeding a call from the Independent Miners
Union, miners from 11 pits in Vorkuta staged a one-day strike on 1 October to
protest wage arrears and to call for the full implementation of a decree issued
by President Yeltsin on resolving the problems of the Pechora coal basin,
ITAR-TASS reported. In the run-up to the presidential election in May, Yeltsin
ordered the elimination of the wage debt to miners in the Arctic region and
increased social benefits. Like many other such promises, these have not been
kept. Thousands of other workers from state-funded organizations reportedly
joined miners in a mass rally. The same day, the leader of the Russian
Coal-Industry Workers' Union announced that its members plan to hold a
nationwide strike on 5 November to protest wage arrears totalling 2.7 trillion
rubles (as of 10 September). -- Penny Morvant
SCIENTISTS PROTEST STATE DEBTS.
Dozens of Russian scientists have
threatened to join two of their colleagues already on a hunger strike if the
government does not pay its debt to scientific institutions by 10 October,
ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October. Representatives of the trade union of the
Russian Academy of Sciences said scientists are also planning to rally in
Moscow and several other cities in mid-October. Moscow scientists Vladimir
Strakhov and Igor Naumenko-Bondarenko went on a hunger strike on 30 September.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Fortov, the government debt to the
scientific sector totals 3 trillion rubles. He said that Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin had agreed that the state would pay 250 billion rubles to the
Academy by the end of the year. -- Penny Morvant
AIRCRAFT DISPUTE SETTLED.
Aeroflot and the government of Tatarstan have
settled the dispute over the airline's purchase of 10 Boeing 737-400s,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 1-2 October. Aeroflot Chairman Yevgenii
Shaposhnikov said that his company will go on with the Boeing deal but in the
future would agree to buy a new Russian-made aircraft, the TU-214, which is
manufactured in Kazan, provided its safety standards improve. It is likely that
the new aircraft will be fitted with Rolls Royce RB211-535E4 engines instead of
domestic PS-90 engines. Aeroflot's decision in September to buy the U.S.
aircraft could have been partly motivated by the fact that foreign
manufacturers sell airplanes on credit, whereas Russian firms often demand
payments in cash up front. -- Natalia Gurushina
BUDGET DEFICIT RECORDED IN THE FIRST SEVEN MONTHS OF 1996.
In the first
seven months of this year the federal budget deficit reached 51.3 trillion
rubles ($9.5 billion), or 4.3% of GDP, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 October, citing
the State Statistical Committee. This is above the 3.85% limit initially agreed
to with the IMF (both numbers using Russian methodology). Some 55% of the
deficit was covered by the issuance of state securities, and 45% by external
financing. Tax arrears totaled 48.1 trillion rubles. Meanwhile, the Yabloko
Duma faction submitted an alternative version of the 1997 budget, Radio Rossii
reported on 1 October. They suggest separating the functions of the Finance and
Treasury ministries. The Finance Ministry is supposed to prepare the budget and
pass it to the treasury, while the latter should be held responsible for the
budget's execution. A major problem for spending ministries this year was the
Finance Ministry's refusal to release funds allotted in the budget. -- Natalia
MANUKYAN ABJURES VIOLENCE.
In an interview broadcast by Russian Public
TV (ORT) on 1 October, defeated Armenian presidential candidate Vazgen Maukyan,
who is currently in hiding, stated that he favors a political, rather than a
violent solution to the problems facing the country. Speaking at a press
conference in Yerevan on 1 October, the chairman of the Central Electoral
Commission, Khachatour Bezirjian, denied that there had been major
irregularities during the 22 September presidential poll. Also on 1 October,
U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns expressed concern at reports
that up to 250 Armenians have been detained following the 25 September attack
by Manukyan's supporters on the Armenian parliament building, Reuters reported.
-- Liz Fuller
RUSSIA CONCERNED OVER SHEVARDNADZE'S STANCE ON BASES.
Foreign Ministry is concerned with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's
continued insistence that ratification by the Georgian parliament of the 1994
treaty allowing Russia to maintain military bases in Georgia is contingent on
the restoration of Tbilisi's rule over the disputed region of Abkhazia, AFP
reported on 1 October quoting an unidentified Russian diplomat. Shevardnadze is
under increasing domestic pressure to resolve the issue of Abkhazia's status
within Georgia. -- Liz Fuller
RUSSIA DEBT TO KAZAKSTAN FOR BAIKONUR GROWS.
Russia's debt to Kazakstan
for leasing the Baikonur cosmodrome has reached $445 million, AFP reported on 1
October, quoting Kazakstani Deputy Prime Minister Nigmadjan Issiguarin.
Baikonur is still Russia's major launching site. Under a bilateral agreement
signed in 1994 and ratified by Russia in April 1996, Moscow is supposed to pay
$115 million a year over 20 years to lease the site. However, no payments have
been made. Russian officials say the arrears are being set against Kazakstan's
debt to Russia for energy and other supplies, which amounts to some $1 billion.
-- Natalia Gurushina
MORE ON NIYAZOV IN BAYRAM-ALI . . .
During his 27 September speech to
senior legislators in Bayram-Ali, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov
said he expected the country's economy to grow 50-60% in the next five years,
according to a BBC-monitored 28 September Turkmen Press report. He predicted
that 110 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 10 million metric tons of oil
will be extracted yearly during this period, most large and medium-sized firms
will be privatized next year, and that both the metallurgical plant in Mari and
the Iranian-Turkmen gas pipeline would be finished the following year. Niyazov
also noted that annual inflation is to remain within a 10-15% band and up to
60% of the state budget will go to social spending. -- Lowell Bezanis
. . . AND TURKMENISTAN'S MILITARY DOCTRINE.
Council [Khalk Maslakhati] made public a document which elaborates on the
country's military doctrine to insure that it conforms with the "permanent
neutrality" envisaged in its constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October.
According to the text published by the agency, Turkmenistan regards no country
as its enemy, it eschews participation in any military blocs, alliances or
"inter-state coalitions with rigid obligations or contemplating collective
responsibility." This language would appear to preclude participation not only
in CIS, but nascent inter-Central Asian, security arrangements as well. The
text specifically states that Turkmenistan will not host foreign military
bases. While there are no Russian bases in Turkmenistan, the Turkmen border is
currently patrolled by Russian troops under contract. -- Lowell Bezanis
TAJIKISTAN IMPACTED BY TURMOIL IN AFGHANISTAN.
Recent events in
Afghanistan have started a flurry of diplomatic and military activity in
Central Asia, particularly in Tajikistan. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov
sent an appeal to the UN and "to world powers" asking for a political
settlement in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Along the
Tajik-Afghan border the situation remains tense. Russian sources on 1 October
reported the deaths of four more Russian border guards in fighting near
Kalai-Khumb. Radio Rossii, also on 1 October, reported that the estimated 300
fighters of the Tajik opposition, massed in Afghanistan opposite border guard
positions, have been joined by "bands of Afghan Mojahedin" and now number
1,500. -- Bruce Pannier
UKRAINIANS WORRIED ABOUT RUSSIAN PRESSURE OVER SEVASTOPOL.
President Leonid Kuchma's assurances that his weekend visit to Moscow helped
resolve differences between the two sides, a number of media reports were
skeptical. Reuters reported on 1 October that Kievskie vedomosti linked
the 20% import tax Russia plans to impose on Ukrainian goods with Ukraine's
intransigence over allowing Sevastopol to be exclusively Russia's naval base.
Recent statements by Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and
other Russian politicians claiming that Sevastopol was never legally handed
over to Ukraine have increased apprehension among Ukrainian politicians over
potential territorial claims. Deputy Yurii Karamazin said the five nuclear
powers that pledged to guarantee Ukraine's security when it gave up its nuclear
weapons in 1994 should step in and defend Ukraine against such economic
pressure from Russia. -- Ustina Markus
SIX JUSTICES APPOINTED TO UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Leonid Kuchma has appointed the first six justices to Ukraine's Constitutional
Court, Ukrainian TV reported on 1 October. The six include Ivan Tymchenko (the
president's chief legal advisor), Mykola Kozyubra, Petro Martynenko, Mykola
Selivon, Volodymyr Tykhy, and Volodymyr Shapoval. Twelve more justices have yet
to be selected: six each by the legislature and a congress of judges. --
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S REGIONAL ELECTION COMMISSIONS CALLED ILLEGAL.
Viktar Hanchar, head of the Central Electoral Commission, said President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka's establishment of regional commissions to organize and
oversee the referendum are illegal, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October. Hanchar
said the commissions parallel similar groups from the Central Electoral
Commission, and are performing the same functions. He stressed that only the
central commission can appoint such regional commissions, and not the
president. The same day over 20 parties appealed to the legislature to start
impeachment proceedings against Lukashenka. (See Russian section for news on
Russo-Belarusian integration.) -- Ustina Markus
LATVIAN PRESIDENT TO ASK FOR LARGER DEFENSE BUDGET.
In a bid to increase
Latvia's chances of being included in the first wave of NATO expansion, Guntis
Ulmanis said on 1 October that he will ask the parliament to approve a larger
Defense Ministry budget, BNS reported. Ulmanis made the announcement after a
meeting with Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs and Defense Minister Andrejs
Krastins to discuss the recent joint statement by the three Baltic presidents,
in which they pledged to seek greater international support for NATO membership
and to upgrade military forces to bring them in line with NATO standards. The
parliament budget and finance committee has approved a Defense Ministry budget
of 25.6 million lati ($46 million) for 1997. The first reading of the full
budget is scheduled for 7 October; Ulmanis can submit his proposals to the
committee for the second reading. -- Saulius Girnius
NEW RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO LITHUANIA.
The collegium of the Russian
Foreign Ministry has approved 59-year-old career diplomat Konstantin Mozel as
the new ambassador to Lithuania, Radio Lithuania reported on 1 October. Mozel,
the director of the Foreign Ministry's Cultural Liaisons Department, has
vacationed several times in Lithuania's coastal resorts of Palanga and Nida and
has even learned some Lithuanian. The previous ambassador, Nikolai Obertyshev,
was transferred to another post in August. Russia had apparently reacted to
strong objections voiced in the Lithuanian press to his possible replacement by
Russia's ambassador to Tajikistan, Vyacheslav Sienkevich, who is widely
regarded in Lithuania as an imperialist, and chose a candidate more acceptable
to Lithuania. Mozel's formal appointment, however, may be delayed by President
Boris Yeltsin's illness. -- Saulius Girnius
FORMER POLISH PRIVATIZATION MINISTER INDICTED.
Poland's privatization minister from 1991-1993, was indicted on 1 October by
the Krakow prosecutor, Polish dailies reported the following day. Lewandowski
was charged with failing to sell the Krakchemia and Techma firms to the highest
bidders, costing the Polish government 2.4 million zloty ($1 million).
Lewandowski, now a deputy for the opposition Freedom Union, called the charges
"untrue and absurd." Lewandowski was unexpectedly supported by Wieslaw
Kaczmarek, his successor as privatization minister. Kaczmarek said on TV on 1
October that the figures in the indictment were "absurd," and that better
offers would have been accepted had they been made. Kaczmarek also agreed on 1
October to serve as a secretary of state in Poland's new Treasury Ministry
where, according to President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Treasury Minister
Miroslaw Pietrewicz, Kaczmarek will continue to be responsible for
privatization. -- Ben Slay
CZECH PARLIAMENT SETS UP BANK INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE.
parliament voted on 1 October to establish a special 12-member committee that
will investigate the recent collapse of Kreditni banka, Czech media reported
the same day. The Social Democrats, who proposed the creation of the committee,
and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus' Civic Democratic Party will each be
represented by 4 deputies; the other four smaller parliamentary parties will be
represented by one deputy each. The election of the individual members of the
committee, as well as its chairman, will take place in the next few days. The
committee is to present a report on its findings to the parliament by the end
of February. -- Jiri Pehe
CZECH JEWISH COMMUNITIES TO PRESS FOR RETURN OF MORE BUILDINGS.
Kraus, secretary of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic,
said on 1 October that the group will apply for the return of some twenty
synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, using last week's decision of the Czech
government to return some buildings to churches. The government decided in 1993
to return 202 pieces of property to Jewish communities but, according to Kraus,
Jewish communities are still negotiating the return of some 31 of those
objects, which are currently in the possession of municipalities or
individuals. Negotiations over the fate of some 70 others have stopped because
the current owners refuse to hand them over to Jewish communities. -- Jiri
SLOVAK AGRICULTURE MINISTER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
proposal for Peter Baco's dismissal failed during a special parliament session
on 1 October, Slovak media reported. Baco survived the vote despite his
ministry's approval of illegal grain exports, constituting one of the biggest
corruption scandals since Slovakia gained independence. At the next
parliamentary session, Education Minister Eva Slavkovska will be subjected to a
similar vote resulting from the controversial university law passed despite
protests from the academic community. Also on 1 October, Slovak Culture
Minister Ivan Hudec fired Slovak National Theater (SND) director Dusan Jamrich,
who had participated in an ongoing campaign against government interference in
the SND's affairs. Jamrich's firing was expected after Hudec survived two
parliamentary no-confidence votes initiated by the opposition. His replacement
is Miroslav Fischer, SND opera director and a candidate of the ruling Movement
for a Democratic Slovakia in the last elections. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAKIA, RUSSIA TO STRENGTHEN MILITARY TIES.
Mikhail Kolesnikov, chief
of the Russian Armed Forces' General Staff, said in Bratislava on 1 October
that Russia and Slovakia are interested in deepening military cooperation,
ITAR-TASS reported. The basis of this cooperation was established in an
agreement signed in August 1993. Meeting with top Slovak politicians during his
three-day visit, Kolesnikov also discussed Russian reservations about NATO's
eastward expansion. Speaking with RFE/RL prior to a meeting in Washington with
U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, Slovak Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik
stressed the importance of Slovak membership in NATO. -- Sharon Fisher
JOURNALISTS QUIT SLOVAK PRO-GOVERNMENT DAILY.
announced their departure from Slovenska Republika on 1 October in
protest against personnel changes made by the daily's publisher, Salus, which
is 100% owned by the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), Narodna
obroda reported. The journalists opposed Salus's appointment of Rudolf
Zelenay as general director, Eduard Fasung as editor in chief, and Milan Rusko
as Fasung's deputy. Zelenay is the husband of HZDS deputy and Slovenska
Republika commentator Eva Zelenayova; Fasung formerly worked as editor in
chief at the leftist opposition daily, Praca. -- Sharon Fisher
POLL SHOWS 48% OF HUNGARIANS IN FAVOR OF NATO MEMBERSHIP.
conducted by the Hungarian Gallup Institute shows that 48% of those interviewed
would support Hungary's admission to NATO if a referendum were held on 6
October, Magyar Nemzet reported on 2 October. Another 27% responded with
a definite "no," while 25% were undecided. In a Eurobarometer survey conducted
for the European Commission last November, the respective figures were 32% for
joining NATO, 22% against, and 46% undecided. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
MIXED BOSNIAN SERB REACTIONS TO NEW PRESIDENCY.
The two most prominent
Bosnian Serb politicians had very different things to say about the first
meeting of the three-man presidency on 30 September (see Pursuing Balkan
Peace, 1 October 1996). The Serbian representative on that body, Momcilo
Krajisnik, told news agencies that he was pleasantly surprised by the session:
"It is hard to sort out the feelings. I thought that such a meeting was in the
far future, that work in joint institutions is a fiction. ... Here, now, it
became reality." The president of the Republika Srpska, Biljana Plavsic,
stressed, however, that the unification of all Serbs in one state remains her
ultimate goal. AFP quoted her as saying: "Whether this ultimate goal is reached
in 10 or 15 years matters little. ... There is no force in the world that will
prevent us acting towards this end." -- Patrick Moore
PENTAGON: U.S. TROOPS IN BOSNIA UNTIL MARCH.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth
Bacon said U.S. troops will be in Bosnia until March as part of a new force to
cover the withdrawal of IFOR, AFP reported on 1 October. Bacon said the U.S.
troops will start arriving in Bosnia soon. According to AFP, the new force will
conform in size and make-up to a plan being considered by NATO for a reduced
version of IFOR remaining in Bosnia. There are fears that war could break out
in Bosnia if IFOR ends its mission on 20 December as scheduled. Bacon said the
covering force's mission will be for a defined period of time. Richard
Holbrooke, former U.S. envoy for Bosnia, said earlier that Bosnia needs "some
kind of follow-on international security presence." European allies have said
they will participate in a post-IFOR force only together with the U.S. -- Daria
SECOND ATTACK ON BOSNIAN CROAT OPPOSITION POLITICIAN.
hand-grenade attack on the home of the Croatian Peasant Party's Josip Jole Musa
(see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 1 October 1996), unidentified gunmen
seriously wounded Musa by spraying his apartment with machine-gun fire,
Oslobodjenje reported on 2 October. Political violence was rampant in
Mostar before the 14 September elections, but this is the first instance of it
since then. Musa's party blamed the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) for the
grenade attack, arguing that no such act can happen in west Mostar without the
party's knowledge. In central Bosnia, a 46-year-old Roman Catholic nun was
found dead in Kakanj, which |. under Muslim control. Onasa reported on 1
October that police are hunting for the killer. In the formerly Serb-held
Sarajevo suburb of Grbavica, forensic experts are investigating 31 garbage bags
found in a garage that contain human remains. -- Patrick Moore
MURATOVIC PLEADS WITH IMF TO REDUCE BOSNIA'S DEBTS.
Minister Hasan Muratovic said Bosnia has met all the IMF's conditions for
assistance, calling for "immediate" negotiations to secure financial support
for Bosnia and establish its creditworthiness, AFP reported on 1 October.
Muratovic called for reducing and reprogramming Bosnia's foreign debts, saying
it was "a precondition for successful restoration of the country's borrowing
power and for attracting additional funds for reconstruction." IMF officials
have estimated the debt owed by Bosnia to government and private creditors at
about $2 billion. They have said talks in Sarajevo could begin after the
formation of a new Bosnian government at the end of October. EU foreign
ministers said the same day that the EU should contribute for another two years
to the peace process in Bosnia. The EU has put op some $398 million in 1996 to
help rebuild Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Daria Sito Sucic
HAGUE TRIBUNAL TO HOLD FIRST JOINT TRIAL.
The International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia rejected on 1 October motions for separate
trials filed earlier this year by three Muslims and one Croat charged with
murder, torture, and rape at the Celebici camp in central Bosnia, Onasa
reported. The court decided that the four cases were properly joined and there
was no conflict of interests, and that separate trials would involve much
duplication of testimony, AFP reported. The tribunal's new chief prosecutor,
Louise Harbor, said that the main responsibility for apprehending those accused
of war crimes lay not with IFOR, but with the countries where the accused are
currently residing. The former chief prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, had said he
was saddened that IFOR did not capture indicted Bosnian Serb war criminals
Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. -- Daria Sito Sucic
UN SECURITY COUNCIL LIFTS SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE.
Council voted 15-0 on 1 October to formally end trade sanctions against rump
Yugoslavia, imposed in 1992 for the country's role in fomenting the war in
Bosnia, Reuters reported. The sanctions were suspended last year following the
Dayton agreement. At the U.S.'s insistence, the council did not lift
Yugoslavia's suspension from the UN General Assembly and other UN bodies or
make any provisions for it to rejoin financial institutions such as the World
Bank and the IMF. Nor did it release Yugoslavia's frozen assets, which remain
disputed by the various Yugoslav successor states. The resolution warned that
the Security Council would consider reimposing sanctions if Serbia-Montenegro
or the Bosnian Serbs failed "significantly to meet (their) obligations under
the peace agreement." But Russia would probably veto such a move. Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will meet
in Paris on 3 October to discuss building peace in Bosnia and normalizing
mutual relations. -- Fabian Schmidt
ROMANIAN RULING PARTY ACCUSED OF 'DIRTY ELECTIONEERING.'
A group of
journalists on 1 October accused the ruling Party of Social Democracy in
Romania (PDSR) of trying to manipulate voters ahead of presidential and general
elections due in a month, Reuters reported. According to them, the PDSR
commissioned a nationwide telephone opinion poll meant to denigrate its rivals.
The poll included a question suggesting that Emil Constantinescu, Chairman of
the Democratic Convention, wanted to restore monarchy in Romania; it also cast
shadows on Petre Roman, another major rival of Ion Iliescu in the presidential
race. A PDSR spokesman said the journalists, helped by opposition members, had
broken into the Bucharest premises of the institute conducting the survey, and
called their action illegal. He admitted that the PDSR had funded the poll, but
said it had no knowledge of the survey's contents. -- Zsolt Mato
FORMER BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER KILLED.
Andrey Lukanov was shot dead at
his home on 2 October, Bulgarian and Western media reported. Police and the
Interior Ministry declined to give any information, but neighbors said Lukanov
was shot in the head and the chest while leaving his home. Coming from a family
with a long communist tradition, Lukanov was a candidate
member of the
Bulgarian Communist Party Politburo from 1979-1989, minister of foreign
economic relations from 1987-1989, and deputy prime minister from 1976-1987.
After the fall of long-time party and state leader Todor Zhivkov, Lukanov
became prime minister in February 1990 but was forced to resign in November
1990 following strikes and mass demonstrations. Lukanov -- an outspoken critic
of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov --
belonged to the BSP top leadership until 1994 and even afterward remained one
of the key power brokers within the party. He was also an influential
businessman. In July, Lukanov was dropped as chairman of the board of the
Russian-Bulgarian Topenergy company. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN HOSPITAL CHARGING FOR STAYS.
Patients of the hospital of
Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city, have to pay for hospitalization
although the law provides for free medical treatment, Kontinent reported
on 2 October. Due to the hospital's financial situation, patients are also
asked to bring their own bed-sheets and pay for their food and treatment.
Hospital Director Gospodin Halachev said if the hospital did not ask for money
it would be forced to close down altogether. Health Minister Mini Vitkova is
reportedly informed of the situation but has so far not reacted or commented.
Meanwhile in Petrich in southwest Bulgaria, a 17-year old boy died of
meningitis. It is the second recent death in Bulgaria. He had recently traveled
to Hungary and returned via Romania. A doctor said it was a unique and isolated
case. -- Stefan Krause
CROATIAN PREMIER VISITS ALBANIA.
Zlatko Matesa and his Albanian
counterpart Alexander Meksi signed agreements on cultural cooperation and
consular services in Tirana on 1 October, ATSH reported. On the first day of a
two-day official visit, Matesa also met with President Sali Berisha and
discussed deepening mutual economic ties. Both sides agreed on regional
security policy issues and in particular on the need for a peaceful solution of
the Kosovo crisis and the return of Eastern Slavonia to Croatia. -- Fabian
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Tom Warner