Accessibility links

Breaking News

Newsline - November 4, 1996

President Boris Yeltsin granted Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin the authority to sign power-sharing agreements between federal and regional authorities, Russian media reported on 1 November, citing presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii. Yeltsin had previously granted Chernomyrdin some authority to oversee the "power ministries" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 and 11 September 1996), but aides have said he will only transfer his full powers to Chernomyrdin for a short period during and after his heart operation. Meanwhile, in an opinion poll published in Moskovskii komsomolets on 1 November, only 18% of respondents said they believed Yeltsin was governing the state, while 56% said "other people" were running state affairs, and 26% did not know. -- Laura Belin

Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii declined to tell the press when President Yeltsin's multiple coronary artery bypass operation will take place, indicating that the exact date will remain a secret until after of the surgery, Russian and Western media reported on 1 November. American surgeon Michael DeBakey arrived in Moscow on 3 November, but, contrary to earlier reports, he will only be a consultant and not participate in Yeltsin's operation. Yastrzhembskii said that only Russian doctors will attend Yeltsin's surgery, which he said would last six to eight hours. Aides had initially estimated that the surgery would require no more than two hours. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl briefly met with Chernomyrdin on 2 November at Moscow's Vnukovo-2 airport, Russian and Western agencies reported. Although Chernomyrdin said the two men discussed "a wide range" of bilateral issues, NTV speculated that the meeting focused on Yeltsin's health. Chernomyrdin later told journalists that NATO's proposed eastward expansion was not discussed at the meeting, but Kohl declared that enlargement would not be "forced" until after Yeltsin fully recovers. On the same day, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel proposed that Russia be given an "equal rights" with current NATO members in a new "S-17" security consultation committee, rather than the current "16+1" format. -- Scott Parrish

Former Presidential Security Service head Aleksandr Korzhakov filed a slander lawsuit against Yeltsin and the presidential administration over Yeltsin's recent decree on preparing documents for Korzhakov's removal from the army, Moscow's TV-6 reported on 2 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996). Korzhakov claims the decree, which accused him of slandering Yeltsin and divulging secret information, was based on disinformation fed to Yeltsin by Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais and media mogul Boris Berezovskii, who has since been appointed to the Security Council. -- Laura Belin

Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais met with the newly elected governor of Kursk Oblast, Aleksandr Rutskoi, in Moscow on 1 November, Russian Public TV (ORT) and Russian TV (RTR) reported. Chubais noted that Rutskoi supports the presidential decree on establishing the Emergency Tax Committee for strengthening tax discipline, and that Rutskoi, referring to the all-Russian action of protest planned for 5 November, has disapproved of strikes and demonstrations in Kursk. Chubais welcomed Rutskoi's stance of constructive cooperation with the federal government. -- Ritsuko Sasaki

Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii on 2 November flew to the Ingush capital Nazran for talks with Chechen government officials Akhmed Zakaev and Movladi Udugov on reconstruction in Chechnya, Russian media reported. Berezovskii told journalists that "there is no alternative" to continuing the peace process. Udugov said that "political issues" were not discussed. On 3 November, after further talks with Udugov and Zakaev, Berezovskii proceeded to Grozny where he toured the city and met with OSCE representative Tim Guldimann. Berezovskii also discussed with Chechen Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov arrangements for an upcoming meeting between Maskhadov and Chernomyrdin. -- Liz Fuller

In an interview published in the London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat on 2 November, radical Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev claimed that 10 Arabs from Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia participated in the hostage takings at Budennovsk in June 1995 and Kizlyar in January 1996, ITAR-TASS reported. On 1 November, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev told Al Hayat that he intends to run in the January 1997 Chechen presidential election, and that his leadership is conducting talks with unnamed Eastern and Western countries on extending international diplomatic recognition to Chechnya. On 1 November, the commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Sukhoruchenkov, met with acting Chechen commander Mumadi Sadaev to discuss measures to neutralize renegade Chechen formations who have repeatedly attacked Russian forces deployed at the airport in Grozny, NTV reported. Also on 1 November, forces loyal to pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev issued an ultimatum to separatist troops to leave the town of Znamenskoe, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller

Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told journalists in Ryazan on 1 November that talks with Kyiv had not produced a final decision on the issues surrounding the Black Sea Fleet, Russian agencies reported. In a sign that the 24 October Yeltsin-Kuchma agreement on the fleet may be hitting some snags, Chernomyrdin said his scheduled mid-November visit to Kyiv to sign an agreement on the fleet will only take place if "constructive solutions" are found by then. Previous agreements have repeatedly foundered on disagreements over the terms under which Moscow will lease base facilities for its share of the fleet in Sevastopol. -- Scott Parrish

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov met Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on 1 November and King Hussein of Jordan the following day, Russian and Western agencies reported. After meeting Arafat, Primakov urged Israel to implement "earlier agreements" and withdraw Israeli troops from Palestinian autonomous territory. Departing for Moscow on 3 November, Primakov said Arab countries "insist on a more active role for Moscow" in the peace process, and said Moscow supports the creation of a Palestinian state, which Israel opposes. -- Scott Parrish

A Geneva session of the standing consultative commission of the 1972 ABM treaty has adjourned without reaching agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported on 2 November. Russian, American, Belarusian, and Kazakstani negotiators had aimed to salvage a two-part proposed agreement outlining the technical parameters of tactical systems permitted under the treaty, which collapsed last week amid mutual recriminations (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 October and 1 November 1996). The Russian Foreign Ministry said "dramatic differences" persist on the issue of high-velocity interceptor systems, to be addressed in the second stage of the talks. Russian officials have expressed concern that American development of tactical missile defenses might undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent. -- Scott Parrish

The governors of Pskov and Magadan oblasts, Vladislav Tumanov and Viktor Mikhailov, were ousted in the 3 November elections, according to preliminary results reported by Radio Rossii and Ekho Moskvy the next day. Tumanov, who led by an 8% margin in the first round on 20 October, lost the Pskov runoff by about 20% to Yevgenii Mikhailov, a State Duma deputy from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party. Mikhailov, who was supported by the communists in the runoff, gained more than 55% of the vote. The Magadan Oblast incumbent Mikhailov was defeated by Valentin Tsvetkov, the chairman of the Duma Committee on the North; he received about 46% of the vote and won by 5%. Tsvetkov, who was elected to the Duma as an independent candidate last December, was supported by most opposition groups in the governor's race, according to Ekho Moskvy. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

Paul Tatum, a U.S. businessman, was shot dead in Moscow on 3 November, Reuters reported. Tatum's compay, Americom, had been locked in a legal battle with Moscow city authorities for ownership of the Radisson-Slavyanskaya hotel, which opened in 1991. Tatum, who was accompanied by two bodyguards, was shot five times as he left the hotel. -- Peter Rutland

Ahead of a national day of industrial action planned for 5 November, Viktor Chernomyrdin met with representatives of employers and unions on 2 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Chernomyrdin told the emergency meeting of the tripartite commission that he supported the unions' suggestion that they be given the right to monitor company accounts to ensure that wages are paid if cash is available. Chernomyrdin said he had taken steps to ensure that wage arrears for workers in the courts, education, and health care be paid within two weeks. By 28 October wage arrears totaled 43 trillion rubles, including 9 trillion in the state sector. -- Peter Rutland

The World Bank has agreed to release by the end of the year the second half of a $525 million loan to aid the restructuring of the Russian coal industry, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 November. The second installment was approved despite reports that the first tranche, paid in June, had not been spent according to the agreed program. The Bank has been criticized for channeling the loan through the centralized state-run monopoly Rosugol. Rosugol argues that preparations are well advanced for the creation of five independent coal companies. Since 1991 the World Bank has allotted a total of $6.4 billion to 28 projects in Russia, of which $2.2 billion has been disbursed. -- Peter Rutland

The joint parliament and government budget commission has approved the new 1997 budget targets, ITAR-TASS and Segodnya reported on 1-2 November. The projected monthly inflation rate will be marginally increased from 0.8% to 0.93%, the budget deficit will widen from 3.3% to 3.5% of GDP, the annual average ruble-dollar exchange rate will go down from 5,560 to 5,750, and forecasted GDP will remain at 2,727 trillion rubles ($500 billion). According to First Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Petrov, the government intends to cover the wider deficit mainly by increasing foreign borrowing by some 4 trillion rubles ($732 million), which is considered unlikely by many experts. The new draft does not include spending on restoring the Chechen economy as an individual item, but envisages 1 trillion rubles on paying wages and social benefits there. -- Natalia Gurushina

Tarja Halonen on 3 November concluded visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan in connection with the end of Finland's almost two-year co-chairmanship of the OSCE-sponsored negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev told Halonen that his country is ready to grant Nagorno-Karabakh "the highest autonomy status," citing the examples of the Aland Islands in Finland and "some republics of Russia." Aliyev reiterated that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity must be preserved and criticized the OSCE's Minsk group for its insufficient emphasis on the principle of inviolability of borders. The next round of Karabakh talks will begin on 18 November in Helsinki. -- Emil Danielyan

Former presidential national security adviser and leader of the opposition Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union Ashot Manucharyan claimed that Armenia may face a threat of "military aggression" from the Nakhichevan sector of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, Noyan Tapan reported on 1 November. Speaking about the country's political situation, Manucharyan said the authorities and opposition should start a "strictly confidential" dialogue to overcome the current stand-off. He suggested that the establishment of a consultative council and fresh elections might be among possible compromises. According to Manucharyan, the U.S. can use its "great influence" with the Armenian government to make the latter respect human rights and democratic principles. -- Emil Danielyan

A delegation from the Turkish armed forces general staff, headed by Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Cetin Dogan, met in Baku on 31 October with Azerbaijan's defense minister Safar Abiev, Turan reported on 1 November. The two men signed protocols on cooperation between the ministries of defense of the two countries. Azerbaijani politicians have condemned recent Turkish statements about the possible opening of a frontier crossing between Armenia and Turkey; Azerbaijan Popular Front Deputy Chairman Ali Kerimov argued that Azerbaijan's Milli Mejlis should appeal to the Turkish parliament not to do so, according to Turan of 2 November. -- Liz Fuller

Iranian First Deputy President Hassan Habibi on 3 November ended a four-day official visit to Georgia, signing four bilateral agreements on economic cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. Habibi met with President Eduard Shevardnadze, parliament chairman Zurab Zhvania, and the chairman of the Adzhar Supreme Soviet, Aslan Abashidze. Issues discussed included the construction of a motorway from Georgia through Azerbaijan to Iran, and Iranian access to Georgian Black Sea port facilities. -- Liz Fuller

Ten of 35 police officers taken prisoner by the Tajik opposition near Komsomolabad on 27 October were released unconditionally on 1 November, according to ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL. Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri said the remaining hostages would be freed when the government removed its checkpoints along roads in central Tajikistan, the opposition's original demand, but added a new demand that four opposition members be freed from government jails. -- Bruce Pannier and Abbas Djavadi

The Ukrainian Parliament on 30 October adopted a new citizenship law barring dual citizenship in the country, Ukrainian media reported the next day. The new legislation requires anyone seeking Ukrainian citizenship to relinquish all foreign citizenship. The previous law of October 1991 allowed dual citizenship if a bilateral treaty between countries existed providing for mutual citizenship. The decision has upset many leftists and Crimean forces who have lobbied for dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship, especially in regions heavily populated with ethnic Russians. The new law states that anyone who has lived in Ukraine since 1991 may be naturalized. Individuals living abroad who can prove Ukrainian origins may be eligible as well. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Parliamentary deputy Yevhen Shcherban and his wife, were shot dead3[currency]t Donetsk airport, international agencies reported on 3 November. The killers fled in a car, which was later found burned. Ukrainian media had linked Shcherban, one of the richest businessmen in Ukraine, with an unsuccessful attempt on Prime Minister Lazarenko's life last July in Kyiv. Shcherban denied the accusations. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

Argentinian Foreign Minister Guido di Tella was in Kyiv on 1 November for an official visit, Ukrainian and international agencies reported. Di Tella met with President Leonid Kuchma, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz, and his counterpart Hennadii Udovenko. Udovenko said Ukraine wants a special relationship with Argentina because some 300,000 ethnic Ukrainians live there and stressed scientific cooperation in Antarctica and between their space agencies. The same day, Russian Public Television reported Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the issue of the Black Sea Fleet was not yet completely resolved, and November talks would take place only if "constructive solutions" had been found. On 4 November ITAR-TASS reported Britain's Prince Charles arrived in Ukraine to open a memorial for British soldiers who died in the Crimean War. -- Ustina Markus

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka dismissed Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of a medical institute because the minister appeared drunk and unable to coherently deliver a speech, international agencies reported on 1 November. First deputy Defense Minister and chief-of-staff Alyaksandr Chumakau was named acting defense minister. Lukashenka interrupted Maltseu and ordered him to leave. He then apologized to the audience for the "former defense minister's" behavior. Belapan reported former Interior Minister Yuryi Zakharenka said he did not rule out that Maltseu's drunkenness was a result of "provocation." He said he knew Maltseu personally, and the former defense minister did not abuse alcohol. AFP reported deputy Henadz Karpenka said Maltseu's drunkenness was not an isolated incident. Last week, Finance Minister Pavel Dik appeared drunk in parliament. -- Ustina Markus

The board of the Estonian Reform Party, meeting on 1 November in Paide, decided that the party's recent successes in local elections should result in its having greater initiative in the government, BNS reported. Party secretary general Heiki Kranich, however, said the party had no intention of leaving the ruling coalition with the Coalition Party and rural parties nor would it demand more ministerial portfolios. The area where the party will most likely try to assert its influence is by demanding changes in the 1997 draft budget proposed by the Coalition Party. -- Saulius Girnius

Gennady Danilychev, head of the Aeroflot department for the Baltic region, announced on 1 November that Latvia had rejected the Russian airline's winter schedule of three weekly flights from Moscow to Riga, Western agencies reported the next day. The decision was a reaction to Russia's earlier refusal to grant the Latvian carrier, Baltic Airways, flights from Riga to Moscow. Danilychev said that Baltic Airways was virtually owned by the Scandinavian airline, SAS, and was thus treated differently than if it were owned by a former Soviet republic. The only airline continuing flights between the two cities is Russia's Transaero. -- Saulius Girnius

Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok told his Polish counterpart Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz in The Hague, that Poland would become a NATO member in 1999, but he avoided specifying the date of its EU entry, Polish dailies reported on 2 November. Kok, however, promised that Holland, which will hold the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 1997, will ensure that entry negotiations with East European applicants begin in early 1998. In a speech to the Institute of International Affairs in The Hague, Cimoszewicz said that Poland does not agree that NATO should sign an accord with Russia before making a decision on eastern expansion. -- Beata Pasek

Former Polish President Lech Walesa met with Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui during his five-day visit to Taiwan, which ended on 4 November, Polish and international media reported. Walesa was invited as a guest of the dailyChina Times and Taiwan's trade unions.
Walesa called on democratic countries to sever relations with communist China, following China's latest sentencing of Wang Dan, a human rights activist, to 11 years in prison. Poland still recognizes the government in Beijing as the government of all of China. But Taiwan opened a representative office in Warsaw in 1992 and Poland opened a trade office in Taiwan in 1995. -- Jakub Karpinski

Democratic Union deputy Milan Knazko told Sme on 2 November that the Slovak Information Service has been misused against internal enemies. Knazko said he decided to withhold from authorities the whereabouts of Oskar Fegyveres--the lead witness in the kidnapping case of President Michal Kovac's son--because of fears for Fegyveres's life. His suspicion was raised by methods used by the SIS against Fegyveres's friend, Robert Remias, who was killed in an April car explosion, he said, adding that the SIS has also shadowed journalists, opposition deputies who spoke publicly about illegal SIS activities, and Jaroslav Simunic, the first investigator of the Kovac Jr. case. Currently, the secret service is shadowing Kovac Jr.'s lawyer Jan Havlat, Knazko said. He said that while a number of post-1989 SIS agents have been fired, the SIS now employs many Moscow-trained agents from the communist era. -- Sharon Fisher

Western integration topped the agenda of the political debate on Slovak TV's Kroky (Steps) on 3 November. The debate showed the lack of understanding between the opposition and the ruling coalition. Parliamentary Foreign Committee Chairman Dusan Slobodnik said that despite efforts by the opposition press to depict Slovakia in a "bad light," EU deputies maintain positive relations with Slovakia. Slobodnik said Meciar's speech before the joint EU-Slovak parliamentary committee--in which he accused the president and opposition of damaging Slovakia's reputation abroad (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November)--was factual. According to Slobodnik, the opposition's aim is to prevent Meciar from leading Slovakia to the EU and NATO, thinking naively that Meciar and his party would be blamed for the failure. -- Anna Siskova

Jozsef Prisztas was shot dead on the morning of 1 November while getting into his car outside his Budapest apartment, Hungarian and international media reported. Prisztas, a restaurateur, was also said to deal in slot machines. Budapest Police chief Janos Bodracska said gang warfare has gone beyond what a civilized capital can tolerate, and police are offering a 1 million forint ($6,300) reward to anyone providing clues leading to those responsible for four grenade attacks that have recently hit Budapest. Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze said public security in Budapest is comparable to other large European cities. He said homicides, burglaries, and robberies have fallen in 1996, although car theft has become more prevalent. -- Sharon Fisher

A German Environment Ministry spokesman said on 2 November that Hungary has asked Germany to take back 380 tons of industrial chemicals stranded on its territory for months, AFP reported. The German weekly Der Spiegel reported that the waste, destined for China, was to be shipped via Croatia; however, Croatian authorities refused its passage and returned it to Hungary. The German ministry stressed that the matter is the responsibility of the state Environment Ministry of Lower Saxony, the region where the waste supposedly originated. But a Lower Saxony spokeswoman said it was unclear why her state should be responsible, adding that it was uncertain whether the chemicals actually constitute hazardous waste, Reuters reported on 3 November. -- Sharon Fisher

President Alija Izetbegovic said that Deputy Defense Minister Hasan Cengic will be transferred to another job as part of a government reshuffle. Izetbegovic apparently refused to bow to U.S. pressure and openly sack the minister, whose removal Washington said was a precondition for resumption of U.S. military aid, AFP reported on 3 November. The public imbroglio has dragged on for nearly two weeks. U.S. spokesmen a[integral]Ddifferent times have given two reasons for Cengic's removal: he was allegedly blocking the integration of the Croat-Muslim joint command; or because of his purported links to Iran. Izetbegovic has denied that Cengic or any of the Bosnian military have links to Iran, saying "we chose military cooperation with the United States [over that with Iran], because that gives more guarantees in preventing aggression in the future." -- Patrick Moore

Slobodan Milosevic and members of his leftist coalition, including his wife and leader of the Yugoslav United Left, are celebrating electoral victory in federal Yugoslavia's 3 November parliamentary elections, Reuters reported. Official results are far from in, and may be delayed until 7 November. Nevertheless, only hours after polls closed at 8 p.m., a representative of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia told the press that Milosevic's leftist coalition had "an overwhelming lead" over the main opposition coalition Zajedno (Together). Polling for local offices and the Montenegrin republican legislature were also held. Back on 5 October AIM Podgorica reported that changes to the electoral law favored the Montenegrin ruling Democratic Socialist Party so much so that the modest support of only 30% of the electorate could still theoretically translate into a majority of seats for the DPS in the 85-member house. -- Stan Markotich

Meanwhile, the opposition camp has raised serious questions over electoral improprieties. For his part, nationalist leader of the Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, remarked he was barred from monitoring the polls in several constituencies. Moreover, several opposition leaders continue to claim that the ruling Socialists dominated media coverage of the elections throughout the campaign, and that the Socialists--despite the presence of some international observers--still control vote counting procedures. Finally, independent and pro-opposition media encountered difficulties in reporting returns, prompting allegations of government interference. Nasa Borba on 4 November reported that Podgorica's Radio Antena M, suffered a cut in its power supply while attempting to report electoral irregularities. A representative of the station has said that deliberate arson may have caused the broadcast interruption. -- Stan Markotich

A new penal code went into effect on 1 November, AFP reported. Crimes that used to receive capital punishment now carry maximum penalties of 20 years to life in prison. The new penal code also includes offenses that were formerly unspecified such as computer fraud, money laundering, and racketeering. -- Fabian Schmidt

Relations between Ljubljana and Rome continue to improve, Reuters reported on 1 November. Italy and Slovenia reached an accord on the preservation of grave sites of ethnic Italians who died on what is now Slovenian territory during the Second World War. In other news, Joze Smole, a long-time confidante of socialist Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito, died in a Ljubljana hospital on 31 October, STA reported. Smole, who was 69, served in a number posts, including that of Belgrade's ambassador to Moscow. -- Stan Markotich

Voter turnout was just above 70% in the country's third post-communist presidential and general elections on 3 November, Romanian and foreign media reported the same day. Preliminary results are expected on 4 November, but various exit polls indicate that the opposition might for the first time win the elections. The Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) garnered 32-36% of the votes. CDR is followed by the currently ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania with 21-25%, and the Social Democratic Union with 11-13%. Among presidential candidates, incumbent President Ion Iliescu and CDR candidate Emil Constantinescu appear set for a neck-to-neck struggle. A runoff for the presidency on 17 November appears inevitable. -- Dan Ionescu and Zsolt Mato

Before voting on 3 November, Virgil Magureanu, head of the Romanian Intelligence Service, suggested that he might quit his job under the new legislature, Mediafax and Reuters reported. Magureanu said he would "vote for the change," without elaborating. Asked about a recent spy scandal in France provoked by revelations about former French Defence Minister Charles Hernu having allegedly worked for communist secret services, Magureanu said that the scandal might damage Romania's image in the West and hamper its efforts to join NATO. -- Dan Ionescu

The central electoral commission of the self-declared Dniester republic registered two candidates in the presidential race, scheduled for 22 December, BASA-press and Reuters reported on 2 November. The two are incumbent president Igor Smirnov and Vladimir Malakhov, a businessman who heads the Chamber of Local Industries. Six others who intended to run for presidency, including head of the Tiraspol legislature Vitalii Glebov, failed to collect the required 10,000 signatures. Smirnov, a Soviet-era industrial manager who used to run one of the region's biggest factories, is viewed as the sure winner. -- Dan Ionescu

Petar Stoyanov of the united opposition and his running mate, Todor Kavaldzhiev, on 3 November won the second round of the Bulgarian presidential elections, beating Culture Minister Ivan Marazov and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Bulgarian media reported. According to preliminary figures issued by the Central Electoral commission the following day, Stoyanov received 59.96% of the vote, and Marazov, 40.04%. Turnout was put at 61.72%. Stoyanov garnered 70-75% in Sofia and Plovdiv, and around two thirds of the vote in the other big towns. On a nationwide scale, Stoyanov also won by a slight majority in small towns and villages, which have tended to vote for the BSP. Marazov scored a narrow victory in the traditionally leftist northwest. Stoyanov will replace outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev on 22 January 1997. -- Stefan Krause in Sofia

Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov at an election night press conference refused to state whether there will be personal consequences within the government or the party as a result of the lost presidential elections. Marazov and Bokova also did not say whether they will resign from the government after a campaign in which they distanced themselves to a large extent from the government and Videnov, but they implied they will stay on.Trud reported that at a meeting of the BSP Executive Bureau earlier the same day Videnov said he will ask for a confidence vote as party leader at an extraordinary party congress to take place by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Kontinent reported that a BSP plenary meeting was set for 11 November to discuss the election results. -- Stefan Krause in Sofia

According to the latest figures, given to Reuters on 2 November by Central Election Commission, the Democratic Party won 58 out of 64 town halls and 267 out of 310 communes. The Socialist Party won four town halls, one mayoralty went to an independent candidate and another to a candidate from a rightist coalition between the Monarchy Legality Movement and the National Front. The Socialists won 15 rural communes, five were won by independent candidates and nine by the ethnic Greek Human Rights party. The National Front won four communes, the Republican Party six, the Social Democratic Union two and the Christian Democrats one. Turnout in both rounds on October 20 and 27 was 72%. Meanwhile, the Center Pole Coalition said the vote was fraudulent, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 2 November. -- Fabian Schmidt