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Newsline - October 16, 1996

Defense Minister Igor Rodionov has apparently released a plan which calls for the ranks of the airborne forces to be reduced from 63,000 to 48,000. Senior commanders of the parachute forces met in closed session on 15 October and condemned the proposal. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, himself a former parachute general, described Rodionov's directive as a "criminal document," which "actually means the elimination of the airborne forces," NTV reported on 15 October. Lebed complained that military financing was the victim of political fighting between unidentified groups and "politicians with strong jaws," according to Radio Rossii. Lebed had recommended Rodionov be appointed defense minister this summer. Last week, reports surfaced suggesting that Rodionov had cast his lot with Chernomyrdin, forsaking his alliance with Lebed. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

The State Duma formally rejected the 1997 draft federal budget on 16 October by a vote of 273-83, with 12 abstentions, ITAR-TASS reported. The Duma decided to send the budget back to the government for reworking, rather than immediately creating a reconciliation commission as the government hoped. The budget was sharply criticized for failing to promote economic recovery when the Duma debated the draft on 11 October. -- Peter Rutland

Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, speaking on NTV on 15 October, denied reports by Ekho Moskvy that President Boris Yeltsin's operation would be delayed because of a low hemoglobin count in his blood. One of Yeltsin's doctors, Sergei Mironov, said on 16 October that the operation will take place in mid-November, AFP reported. Yeltsin's surgeon Renat Akchurin is in Houston buying equipment for the operation, ITAR-TASS reported. Yastrzhembskii said on 15 October that Yeltsin is "seriously concerned" about the infighting among his aides over how to resolve the Chechen crisis and called on Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, and Prime Minster Viktor Chernomyrdin to develop a unified policy, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung

In a closed session of the State Duma on 15 October, Security Council Secretary Lebed blamed five officials for the August loss of Grozny, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Lebed named Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, , former Interior Ministry Coordinating Center official Pavel Golubets, Lt.-Gen. Konstantin Pulikovskii, pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev, and Zavgaev's government head Nikolai Koshman. Despite Kulikov's objections, Lebed requested that journalists be prevented from attending the session, NTV reported. Many deputies, including Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, said the speeches by Lebed and Kulikov were relatively restrained. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii claimed that the only thing he gained from the session was a sense that the administration is not making progress in understanding the situation, working out a unified position, or developing a program of action. -- Robert Orttung

A Chechen separatist spokesman told ITAR-TASS that on 14 October supporters of pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev had taken a rebel field commander hostage in Urus Martan, and that a successful operation had been launched to free him. Urus Martan is the base of armed units loyal to Zavgaev, who was born there. Russian media reported that the Chechen separatists had agreed to nominate Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov as their candidate in the Chechen presidential election to be held in January are incorrect, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported, adding that the most likely opposition candidate is acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. -- Liz Fuller

Cascade International is suing Prime Minister Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, for the $1 million it is owed for organizing the bloc's 1995 Duma election campaign which included rock concerts and appearances by top international models, AFP reported on 16 October, citing Moskovskii komsomolets.. The Moscow Arbitration Court will hear the case on 23 October. Kommersant-Daily reported on 10 October that the party is on the verge of splitting because of disagreements between its executive committee, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Babichev, and its Duma faction, led by Sergei Belyaev. The executive committee accuses the Duma faction of not keeping track of its finances, while the deputies complain that the executive committee does not involve them in its work on the budget, the gubernatorial elections, and the process of transforming the bloc into a political party. -- Robert Orttung

William Perry arrived in Moscow on 16 October for a three-day visit in a bid to persuade the Russian parliament to ratify the START 2 treaty, which was approved by the U.S. Senate in January of this year. Perry told reporters on his arrival that implementation of the treaty, which will halve the two sides' strategic arsenals, would save money for both countries, Reuters reported. Perry advised the Duma not to try to link START 2 ratification to NATO expansion. The day before Perry's arrival, Russian Defense Ministry officials were leaking reports that Russia would seek amendments to the treaty, while Duma Foreign Affairs Committee member Vladimir Averchev said a lack of funds would prevent the dismantling of missiles within the established deadlines, Reuters reported. Duma Defense Committee members fear that the treaty could push Russia's nuclear forces below the level needed to provide a credible deterrent, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October. -- Peter Rutland

Saparmurat Niyazov on 15 October visited President Yeltsin at the Barvikha sanitarium, international media reported. The conversation focused on economic issues, particularly supplies of Turkmen gas to Russia and the development of the Caspian Sea area. In a later meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, Niyazov once again emphasized that Turkmenistan would coordinate any action on the situation in Afghanistan with Russia but would not stray from its policy of neutrality. -- Bruce Pannier

President Yeltsin issued a decree on 15 October establishing a Council on Culture and the Arts under his chairmanship, ITAR-TASS reported. The 40-member advisory council was set up in line with a 1 July decree on increasing state support for culture and the arts. Cultural figures have warned that Russia's national culture is in danger because of a lack of funding and the influx of Western popular culture. The same day, Yeltsin approved the composition of a 32-member presidential Council on Cooperation with Religious Associations, ITAR-TASS reported. The council will be headed by Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais. -- Penny Morvant

Chief Military Procurator Valentin Panichev said that embezzlement is a now a common occurrence in the armed forces, with losses amounting to more than 60 billion rubles in the first half of 1996 ($13.7 million), ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October. Criminal proceedings have begun against about 100 officers with the rank of colonel or higher, included fifteen generals or admirals. Panichev said 1,914 servicemen died in accidents and crimes in 1996, and more than 4,000 were injured. -- Penny Morvant

Russia renewed its bid to join the World Trade Organization in Geneva on 15 October, ITAR-TASS reported. This is the fourth round of talks since June 1993, when Russia applied to join GATT, the WTO's predecessor. The WTO was formed in January 1995 and now has 123 members, accounting for 90% of world trade. Russian entry has been delayed because of non-tariff trade barriers, distorted domestic energy prices, and concerns over the custom service's ability to register trade activity. China is also not a member of the WTO. -- Peter Rutland

The head of the State Bankruptcy Committee, Petr Mostovoi, said that bankruptcy procedures will begin against six large firms unless they pay 1.3 trillion rubles ($240 million) of tax arrears within a week, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 15 October. The companies are the oil firms Tatneft and Purneftegaz, the Krasnodar oil refinery, aluminum producer Achinskii Glinozemnyi Zavod, and car manufacturers Moskvich and KamAZ (located in Tatarstan). Mostovoi said that in the first half of 1996 these firms paid less than 10% of their annual tax obligations. Mostovoi noted that Russia's 185 largest firms owe 12 trillion rubles to the federal budget and more than 25 trillion rubles to local budgets. Total budgetary arrears reached 72 trillion rubles in October. -- Natalia Gurushina

The Russian economy continued to slide in September. In the first nine months of the year, the volume of GDP dropped by 6%, agricultural production by 8%, and industrial output by 5% over the same period last year, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 October. The largest fall was recorded in light industry (27%), construction materials (25%), and machine building (14%). None of the extractive industries reported an increase in output. The volume of domestic investment plunged to 218 trillion rubles ($40 billion), a 17% decline compared with the same period in 1995. -- Natalia Gurushina

The U.S.-based International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), an international election observer group, issued a report on Armenia's 22 September presidential election, citing numerous irregularities and describing the ballot as "flawed," Reuters reported on 15 October. IFES urged the Armenian government to investigate the irregularities. IFES is the second international organization after the OSCE to question the election results. Meanwhile, Armenian presidential spokesman Levon Zurabyan acknowledged "numerous shortcomings" in the election process and said the authorities will "punish the guilty," Noyan Tapan reported on 15 October. Paruyr Hayrikyan, one of the leaders of the opposition National Accord bloc, said the opposition plans to resume its protest rallies on 18 October, RFE/RL reported. -- Emil Danielyan

Meeting in Tbilisi on 15 October with the managing director of the World Bank, Peter Steck, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that the World Bank's backing for reforms in his country "guarantees political and economic stability," ITAR-TASS reported. Steck praised the Georgian leadership's "correct and constructive economic policy." -- Liz Fuller

Representatives of the British company Ramco, Mobil, and Total have formed a consortium to carry out exploratory work in the southern Caspian Sea, Turan reported on 15 October. Representatives of the three constituent companies have held talks in Baku with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev and the head of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR. -- Liz Fuller

The Uzbek government announced that grain harvests are well below expectations for the second year in a row, according to an 8 October Uzbek Radio report monitored by the BBC. The 1996 harvest currently stands at 2,669,000 metric tons, well below the target figure of 4.5 million tons. Only seven regions were able to meet their quotas, with the rest blaming poor irrigation, bad weather, and a lack of fertilizer for the shortfalls. At the same time, the Central Council of the People's Democratic Party called on Uzbek citizens to participate in the cotton harvest, which is expected to be higher than last year (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 October 1996). Regional party leaders are even offering prizes for the most "active" volunteer--a practice reminiscent of the Soviet era--Golos Uzbekistana reported on 11 October. -- Roger Kangas

Ali Akbar Velayati went to Kazakstan on 15 October where he discussed the situation in Afghanistan with his Kazakstani counterpart, Kasyzhomart Tokaev, Kazakstani media reported. The two ministers issued a call for a special emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the Afghan situation, AFP reported. Analysts suggest that an additional hidden motive for the meeting was to coordinate positions on the status of the Caspian Sea, in view of an upcoming international meeting on the issue. The Caspian littoral states disagree over how to divide access to the sea and its resources: Iran and Kazakstan disagree with Russia's wish to define it as an lake, whose resources must be shared. Velayati also met Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev in Bishkek on 15 October and traveled on to the Tajik capital Dushanbe on 16 October. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

A crowd of about 1,500 people demonstrated in front of the Kyrgyz government building in Bishkek on 15 October, RFE/RL reported. The demonstrators were protesting rising costs and declining living standards. Some in the crowd claimed their monthly wage was 150-200 som ($12-18) and their monthly gas bill alone was 500-700 som. Officials from the government met briefly with leaders of the demonstration, organized by the unregistered Citizen's Council, and were handed a letter of demands signed by more than 4,000 people. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

The Ukrainian parliament approved a three-year government economic plan that features heavy state supports for key industries, Western agencies reported on 15 October. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko presented the program, which calls for government aid to large producers in aviation, automotives, telecommunications, combine-harvesters and agriculture with the goal of boosting industrial output and GDP by 1.7% next year. Lazarenko said 40 projects and 17 new laws need to be implemented to help reverse the current decline. The plan also provides for some tax reductions, although it retains a 20% VAT on cigarettes, spirits, and luxury goods. However, the program postpones long-awaited land reform, mainly due to pressure from the conservative agrarian lobby. Lazarenko admitted his government could only continue to pay off its $1.7 billion wage debt to public-sector employees in monthly installments. He also admitted that only 13 million of the country's 52 million people are actually working, in contrast to the official 0.9% unemployment rate. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Yurii Kostenko, environmental protection and nuclear safety minister, said Ukraine may reconsider its pledge to shut down Chornobyl reactor no. 1 by the end of October, Western and Russian media reported on 15 October. According to Kostenko, closing one reactor could make another one prone to an accident due to a lack of heat in the coming winter. Chornobyl's two working reactors produce 5% of Ukraine's electricity. During this month's meeting in Paris between Ukrainian and G-7 experts, Ukraine promised to close one of the two reactors in return for an 118 million ecu ($147 million) grant allotted to starting the process of shutting down the plant. The G-7 pledged a total of $3.1 billion in aid to Ukraine for shutting down Chornobyl by 2000. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

On the eve of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's 16 October visit to Moscow, Izvestiya ran a lengthy article on the dangers of backing Lukashenka. It admonished Moscow for not paying sufficient attention to its "permanent ally" while its president was creating an explosive situation in Belarusian society. It also noted that Belarus had developed a habit of signing agreements squaring its debts with Russia and then falling into debt again, and that despite Lukashenka's promises of economic improvement, in the two and a half years since his election living standards have steadily declined, often to near subsistence level. The writer also pointed out that the Belarusian president had shown he is an unreliable ally by supporting Gennadii Zyuganov in the Russian presidential race. If Russia supports Lukashenka, the article concluded, it will have to bear responsibility for "the rebirth of a totalitarian state." -- Ustina Markus

Prime Minister Tiit Vahi lashed out the Reform Party's ministers in a 15 October article in Eesti Paevaleht, BNS reported. Vahi wrote that in one year in office Foreign Minister Siim Kallas had not improved relations with Russia and Economics Minister Andres Lipstok was unable to establish order on the country's markets. The Reform Party's board suggested the article had been prompted by the premier's fears that the party would perform very well in the 20 October local elections. Seven of Estonia's 15 ministers and 71 of 101 parliamentary deputies are running in the elections. Vahi claimed later that there was no major discord in the coalition and that he was only trying to help find solutions to the country's problems. -- Saulius Girnius

After more than a year of delays, the Polish Radio and TV Broadcasting Council has allocated two TV broadcasting licenses, Polish media reported on 16 October. The council assigned a network in northern Poland to TVN, a company registered by Mariusz Walter and Jan Wejchert, who also own ITI, a major film distributor and producer of TV programs. One-third of TVN's shares are owned by the Bermuda-based company Central European Media Enterprises Group, a major player in commercial TV broadcasting throughout the region. A network in central Poland was allocated to Nasza Telewizja, organized by Polish businessmen apparently with the support of the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance. Nasza Telewizja said it will create a "family and non-aggressive" TV station. -- Jakub Karpinski

Antoni Zielinski, former director of the State Security Office (UOP) archive, has rejected his transfer to a new post at the UOP and instead resigned, Polish dailies reported on 16 October. Zielinski had been director of the UOP's archive since February 1992 until UOP chief Andrzej Kapkowski dismissed him from that post last week and nominated him as chief of the UOP's team of advisers. A UOP spokesman denied that Zielinski's dismissal had anything to do with his informing of the Sejm's lustration commission that material was missing from communist secret-police files (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 September 1996), and said the new post offered to him was more prestigious. Col. Waldemar Mroziewicz, a functionary of the Interior Ministry's archive since the communist era, was made the UOP archive's new director. -- Beata Pasek

The rapidly growing foreign trade deficit is merely "a price we pay for our rapid economic development" and "no reason to panic," Premier Vaclav Klaus said after a 15 October meeting of economic ministers. The deficit stood at 110 billion crowns ($4 billion) at the end of August, already equaling the trade deficit for all of 1995. Estimates put the trade deficit for 1996 at 160 billion crowns. The ministers agreed to start seriously addressing the deficit, but warned that no turnaround is likely before the end of 1997. The chief economic adviser of the opposition Social Democrats, Jan Mladek, was quoted by Lidove noviny on 16 October saying there are only three ways to counter the deficit: a devaluation; import surcharges; or other import barriers. -- Jiri Pehe

Citing a "lack of evidence," the Bratislava Police on 15 October closed two major investigations related to the August 1995 kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, Slovak and international media reported. The first involved the April 1996 death in a car explosion of Robert Remias, who was acting as a contact for a Slovak Information Service (SIS) officer in hiding since he claimed the SIS had engineered the kidnapping. The second involved a phone conversation between SIS chief Ivan Lexa and then-Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek, broadcast in May, that was full of hints about interference in the police investigation of the kidnapping. Investigators said their analyses "did not prove unambiguously that the voices were those of Hudek and Lexa." Peter Weiss, deputy chairman of the Party of the Democratic Left, said the adjournments "show the insufficient political will and professional commitment to resolve these matters." Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky added that "[Remias's] murderers can be prosecuted up until 29 April 2016." Meanwhile, Sme reported that an SIS agent "Martin K." had shadowed Remias and was near Remias's car at the time of the explosion. -- Sharon Fisher and Anna Siskova

After revelations that an official of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) was implicated in the country's recent privatization scandal, party leader Ivan Peto offered his resignation but was asked by the party's main executive body to stay, Hungarian media reported on 16 October. Peto said he assumes political responsibility for the activity of the implicated party member, Barnabas Bernhardt, who was on the party's National Council and the board of directors of a company that benefited financially from the state privatization agency's controversial payments to a consultant at the center of the privatization scandal. Another Free Democrat was among the former members of the agency's board of directors who were all dismissed over the affair. Meanwhile, another SZDSZ member resigned from his parliamentary seat, attributing his move to frustration over the privatization scandal and the delay in passing a law to regulate conflicts of interest for deputies. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Reuters on 16 October quoted diplomats at the Council of Europe saying that body's Council of Ministers had voted to admit Croatia. That country is now slated to become the 40th member of the Strasbourg-based organization on 6 November. Croatia's admission has been delayed over concerns about press freedom, minority rights, democracy, and Croatia's role in the Bosnian peace process. The Council now apparently feels that Zagreb has made sufficient progress on most of these fronts to justify approval. Recent weeks have seen a judge throw out a government-backed slander suit against critical journalists (although the state prosecutor has appealed that ruling), and the passing of an amnesty law for Serbs who took up arms against Croatia but did not commit war crimes. The organization's delay in accepting Croatia angered not only the government but also many in the opposition, who charged that Croatia was being forced to meet tougher standards than were some other countries. -- Patrick Moore

A plan put forward by international mediators to enable refugees to go back to their homes in areas now controlled by another ethnic group was accepted by the interior ministers of the Croat-Muslim federation and the Republika Srpska in Sarajevo on 15 October. Prospective returnees will now have to apply to the UNHCR, after which other organizations will determine whether the applicant indeed has property in the area. The returnees must be civilians and will have to accept the authority of the side now in control of the area. There will be financial aid for reconstruction and provisions for UN police to supervise local police when the latter send out patrols of more than three men, Oslobodjenje and news agencies reported. The new measures are aimed at preventing unnecessary tensions from arising when refugees try to go home, while at the same time ensuring their right to do so. -- Patrick Moore

A regular bus link between Sarajevo and Belgrade began operating on 14 October, with the first Serbian bus safely arriving in Sarajevo. But two Bosnian buses making the first Sarajevo-Belgrade run in four years arrived in Belgrade on 15 October only after being blocked for six hours by Serbian border police, international agencies reported. The buses left Sarajevo for the inaugural trip of the new intercity service, seen as a move toward normalization between the two capitals. Passengers said Serbian police demanded they pay $40 for tourist visas, although visa-free travel between the two countries was agreed on at the recent Paris meeting between Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Reuters reported. They also said that military conscripts could not enter the country, only women and children. The bus was allowed to continue only after telephone calls to various ministries in Sarajevo and Belgrade. -- Daria Sito Sucic

During a 15 October meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana warned Croatia to fully back implementation of the Croat-Muslim federation in Bosnia and the normalization of the situation in Mostar, according to a NATO official cited by AFP. Solana also stressed the importance of establishing a common army for the federation and a return of refugees, and complained of Croatia's stiff taxes on military vehicles and material crossing its territory, international and local agencies reported. Matesa said Solana supported Croatia's plan for the peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia, Hina reported. But the NATO official cited by AFP said Solana made a "very firm" warning to the Croatian government not to provoke an exodus of Serbs. -- Daria Sito Sucic

The latest round of talks on the division of the former Yugoslavia's assets and debts began behind closed doors in Brussels on 14 October, but made little or no headway, Nasa Borba reported on 16 October. In a related development, the Bosnian Serb leadership launched a protest on 14 October complaining about being excluded from the discussions, SRNA reported. Momcilo Krajisnik, Serb representative in the Bosnian collective presidency, said "Muslim representatives" were not empowered to speak for all parties in Bosnia, AFP reported. -- Stan Markotich

The state prosecutor's office has issued 12 more arrest warrants for suspected members of the mysterious Kosovo Liberation Army, international agencies reported. The ethnic Albanians are suspected of committing a number of bomb attacks earlier this year. Three suspects have been arrested recently. Meanwhile, Kosovar shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi called on Germany to ensure "the rights and dignity of ... Albanians [to be expelled to Kosovo from Germany] be respected," AFP reported. Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova has called for international supervision of the refugees' return. The Serbian paper Jedinstvo, meanwhile, alleged that Albanian terrorists, trained by separatist organizations abroad, would infiltrate Kosovo during the refugee return. The paper demanded detailed identity checks and selective repatriation "in order to prevent our country admitting ... enemies." -- Fabian Schmidt

Anti-Semitic leaflets targeting Social Democratic Union (USD) presidential candidate Petre Roman were discovered at the USD head office in Timis county, the daily Cronica Romana reported on 16 October. The leaflets call on voters not to allow the country to be led by "a kike." Earlier, graffiti urging voters not to cast their ballot for a "first non-Romanian president" were reported from Brasov. Roman, who is partly of Jewish descent and is the son of a former communist official, was also obliquely attacked by the director of the electoral campaign of the ruling Party of Social Democracy (PDSR) in Romania, Ovidiu Sincai, the daily Adevarul reported. He accused the candidate's father, Valter Roman, of having intended to set up an independent state in Transylvania. This falls in line with allegations that Roman represents "Judeo-Communism," often aired by formations such as the Greater Romania Party. The pro-opposition dailies Ziua and Romania libera recently attacked U.S. Ambassador Alfred Moses, accusing him of supporting the PDSR in exchange for legislation providing for restitution of Jewish property confiscated by Romania's fascist and communist regimes. -- Michael Shafir

Dniester and Russian representatives in the Joint Control Commission, the Russian-sponsored peacekeeping body in Moldova, did not allow an OSCE visit to alleged military sites in the Dniester region, BASA-Press reported on 15 October. The OSCE mission wanted to visit the fortress of Tighina and the Pribor factory in the same city. Officials from Moldova claim the fortress is supplied with Grad jet-rocket equipment produced in the factory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 October 1996). -- Zsolt Mato

Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) spokeswoman Klara Marinova and deputy faction leader Stefan Gaytandzhiev said on 15 October that the party wants to form a coalition government after the presidential elections, Standart reported. The daily said that both a party coalition and a government of experts seem possible, but added that participation by the opposition in a government including Prime Minister Zhan Videnov seems out of the question. According to Novinar, the BSP's Nikola Koychev, chairman of parliament's Economics Commission, has already been chosen as future prime minister of a broad coalition government. The daily said the coalition will be formed after the Union of Democratic Forces wins a no-confidence vote in Videnov with the support of several BSP deputies. -- Stefan Krause

Between 5,000 and 20,000 people rallied in Sofia on 15 October and demanded the government's resignation, international and national media reported. The meeting was organized by the two major trade unions in the country, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions and the Confederation of Labor-Podkrepa, and was joined by students. Protesters lit bonfires and burned electricity and telephone bills to protest the government's economic policy. Others shouted "resignation" and "red garbage" in front of the government building. Podkrepa leader Konstantin Trenchev urged opposition deputies to boycott parliament after the 27 October presidential elections and all Bulgarians to depose the government "by force if necessary." -- Maria Koinova

About $5 million given by two state-owned banks to the Albanian Defense Ministry trading company MEICO has dissapeared, Koha Jone reported on 15 October. According to the paper, Defense Minister Safet Zhulali agreed to give the former premises of the Military Studies Institute to the banks as compensation. MEICO failed to return one-year credits of $3 million from the Albanian Savings Bank and $2 million from the National Bank it received in 1993. In a meeting with Zhulali, Finance Minister Ridvan Bode, and National Bank Governor Kristaq Luniku, Albanian President Sali Berisha insisted on a quick resolution of the scandal, before local elections on 20 October. -- Dukagjin Gorani

As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Pete Baumgartner