POWERFUL EXPLOSION WRECKS MILITARY APARTMENT BLOCK IN DAGESTAN.
powerful explosion killed at least 42 people and wrecked a nine-storey military
apartment block with 82 units in the Dagestani city Kaspiisk on 16 November,
ITAR-TASS, Reuters, and AFP reported on 16-18 November. At least 14 people are
still missing. The explosive device, thought to equal 50 kg of TNT, blew up in
a building inhabited by officers of the Russian Border Guards and their
families. Observers believe that a specially trained terrorist group detonated
the bomb. Possible suspects include opponents of the Chechen peace process,
black marketeers in caviar, or local drug dealers. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin visited the site of the explosion, while the Chechen government
condemned the terrorist attack and sent condolences to the families of victims.
-- Natalia Gurushina
PROCURATOR ORDERS INQUIRY INTO TRANSCRIPT.
Skuratov on 15 November ordered an investigation into a Moskovskii
komsomolets article that contained a transcript of an alleged conversation
among Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, First Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Ilyushin, and presidential aide Sergei Krasavchenko, Russian and Western
media reported. In the transcript, Chubais, Ilyushin, and Krasavchenko
discussed their involvement in the events of 19-20 June, when two Yeltsin
campaign aides were detained carrying more than $500,000 out of a government
building (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 November 1996). Chubais and Ilyushin
also discussed ways to prevent Skuratov from bringing criminal charges against
the two campaign aides and how to retrieve documents connected to the case from
Skuratov. Skuratov did not comment on whether a telephone conversation between
him and Ilyushin ever took place on 22 June; the transcript contained
Ilyushin's side of the conversation. -- Laura Belin
OFFICIALS CHARGE TRANSCRIPT IS FAKE.
Presidential Chief of Staff
Chubais, First Deputy Prime Minister Ilyushin, and presidential aide
Krasavchenko all categorically denied that they met on 22 June and charged that
the transcript published in Moskovskii komsomolets was fabricated,
Russian media reported on 15 November. Chubais characterized the publication as
an attempt to discredit the institution of the presidency following President
Yeltsin's successful heart operation. In an interview with Ekho Moskvy,
Krasavchenko suggested that the Communists manufactured the tape, which he said
could have been spliced together from different conversations. Chubais and
Ilyushin indicated that they will not sue Moskovskii komsomolets ;
Chubais said additional publicity would merely help the newspaper's
circulation. Ilyushin said one cannot sue the special services, which he argued
were behind the publication, Segodnya reported on 16 November. -- Laura
DUMA REACTION TO THE AFFAIR . . .
The State Duma on 15 November passed
several resolutions in connection with the Moskovskii komsomolets
publication, Russian media reported. The Duma asked President Yeltsin to
instruct Procurator-General Skuratov to speed up his investigation of the 19-20
June events and whether Yeltsin's campaign was financed illegally, ITAR-TASS
reported. The Duma also asked the Audit Chamber to investigate the use of
budget funds in Yeltsin's re-election campaign, Russian TV (RTR) reported.
Another resolution, proposed by the Yabloko faction, asked Yeltsin to
"immediately and unambiguously" state his own position on the taping of
conversations among state officials, corruption among top state officials, and
"the criminalization of the state as a whole." Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev,
a strong opponent of Chubais, said he doubted the transcript was faked and told
Ekho Moskvy that "the entire clique" should be sacked if "even one-hundredth"
of the transcript is proven true. -- Laura Belin
. . . BUT NO COMMENT FROM YELTSIN.
President Yeltsin did not release any
official comment on the Moskovskii komsomolets publication, although
presidential press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii described the transcript as
another salvo in "the war of pseudo-compromising materials," ITAR-TASS reported
on 15 November. Yeltsin is expected to give his first public address following
his heart operation on radio or television on 19 November. According to
Kommersant-Daily on 16 November, Yeltsin had prepared a radio address to
be broadcast on 15 November, but in the wake of the Moskovskii
komsomolets article, the radio address did not go on the air. -- Laura
KORZHAKOV DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLICATION OF TRANSCRIPT.
commentators and Chubais himself have argued that Aleksandr Korzhakov, former
chief of the Presidential Security Service, was the source of the transcript
published in Moskovskii komsomolets on 15 November. However, on 16
November Korzhakov denied any involvement in the taping of the alleged
conversation between Chubais, Ilyushin, and Krasavchenko, or in the publication
of the transcript, Russian media reported. Korzhakov noted that he was sacked
on 20 June, two days before the alleged conversation took place. Meanwhile, on
15 November Korzhakov was registered as a candidate for a Duma seat in Tula
Oblast. As a registered candidate, Korzhakov is now protected by immunity from
criminal prosecution. A special decision would have to be made by the
procurator general to strip him of immunity. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski
CHECHEN-RUSSIAN AGREEMENT FINALIZED.
Chechen presidential security
adviser Ahmed Zakaev met in Moscow with Russian government officials, including
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, on 15-16 November to discuss
the final text of the agreement on the economic reconstruction of Chechnya,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The draft agreement is to be signed at
an upcoming meeting between Chernomyrdin and interim Chechen Prime Minister
Aslan Maskhadov. Also on 16 November, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku
Zavgaev issued a decree on the resignation of Nikolai Koshman's government.
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin described the resignation as a
step toward reaching national reconciliation, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz
CHECHEN ISLAMIC PARTY CALLS FOR ONE CANDIDATE IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
At a 16 November congress in Urus Martan, delegates of the Chechen Islamic Path
Party called for the nomination of a single candidate for the Chechen
presidential election. Yurii Soslambekov, the chairman of the Confederation of
Peoples of the Caucasus, told ITAR-TASS on 17 November that he would stand as a
presidential candidate only if there is at least one other candidate. -- Liz
REGIONAL INCUMBENTS SUFFER DEFEAT . . .
Only nine governors have managed
to hang on to their seats with 20 races complete following voting on 17
November (counting Amur Oblast where the opposition's victory has yet to be
validated). Communist Duma member Aleksandr Chernogorov defeated incumbent Petr
Marchenko in Stavropol Krai by 55% to 40%, ITAR-TASS reported. The former
chairwoman of the okrug ispolkom, Valentina Bronievich, won 46% of the vote to
defeat incumbent Sergei Leushkin in the Koryak Autonomous Okrug. She becomes
Russia's first woman governor. State Farm Director Valerii Maleev defeated the
incumbent Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksei Batagaev 39%-23%.
The incumbent governor of the Komi-Permyatsk Autonomous Okrug Nikolai Polyanov
won a second term with 70% of the votes and 57% turnout. -- Robert Orttung
. . . WHILE OTHERS FACE RUNOFFS.
In Murmansk, there will be a runoff
between the incumbent Yevgenii Komarov and the former chairman of the oblast
soviet, Yurii Yevdokimov, backed by former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed's Honor and Motherland, who respectively took 32% and 20% of the vote in
a field of eight with 40% turnout. In Altai Krai, the Communist-backed chairman
of the Krai legislature, Aleksandr Surikov, is leading incumbent Lev Korshunov,
47% to 43%, with 48% turnout. A runoff is set for 1 December. Additionally,
Altai voters rejected the free buying and selling of agricultural land by a
margin of 81% to 16% in a non-binding referendum. In Kamchatka, even though
Governor Vladimir Biryukov leads his closest opponent, Boris Oleinikov, 48% to
11%, he also faces a runoff. -- Robert Orttung
MILITARY WAGE ARREARS FOR AUGUST PAID.
Maj.-Gen. Georgii Oleinik, head
of the Defense Ministry's Main Directorate of Budget and Finance, told Radio
Rossii on 15 November that the ministry has now paid all wage arrears for
August. He also promised to liquidate arrears for September by the end of the
month, and for October and November by 1 January 1997, although he added that
repayment of overdue social benefits to servicemen remains in the "planning
phase." -- Scott Parrish
JAPAN TO RELEASE $500 MILLION LOAN TO RUSSIA.
In a sign of warming
bilateral ties, Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda told his visiting
Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, that Tokyo will free $500 million in
credits frozen since 1991, Russian and Western agencies reported on 15
November. The credits, originally intended as humanitarian aid, will now be
used by the Japanese Import-Export bank to invest in Russian industrial and
commercial projects. Russian commentators optimistically said the decision
indicated Japan is becoming more flexible and not focusing exclusively on the
intractable territorial dispute over the southern Kurile Islands. However,
Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto warned Primakov that a related
dispute over fishing rights in the waters around the islands could have a
negative effect on bilateral ties if not resolved soon. -- Scott Parrish
BLAST IN COAL MINE NEAR CHELYABINSK.
A methane gas explosion killed nine
miners and injured six others on 17 November in a Chelyabinsk Oblast coal mine.
The mining company opened an investigation, since its methane gas detectors had
not detected any dangerous concentration of the gas before the blast, according
to NTV. In other news, six people died on 15 November in an explosion at a mine
in Magadan Oblast, Radio Rossii reported. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski
RUSSIA'S MARTIAN PROBE FAILS.
Russia's attempt to send a space mission
to Mars has ended in failure, dealing another blow to the Russian space
program, ITAR-TASS, Reuters, and AFP reported on 17-18 November. The $64
million probe, carrying scientific equipment from the U.S. and 20 European
countries, was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakstan on 16
November and was expected to reach the planet in September 1997. However, due
to problems with the booster (the Russian rocket Proton) it was unable to leave
its orbit of the Earth and crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the Chilean
coast. -- Natalia Gurushina
FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES BILLS ON SOCIAL ISSUES.
Council has approved 10 new bills on social policy, including the introduction
of a 10% increase in the minimum pension as of 1 November. It also insisted
that by 1 December the government undertake measures (which may include
no-interest credits from the Central Bank) in order to repay wage arrears to
budgetary organizations, as well as pension and social benefits arrears,
Nezavisimaya gazeta, Izvestiya, and Radio Mayak reported on 15-16
November. The Central Bank and the Finance Ministry both criticized the idea of
printing money, however, arguing that it will not solve the problem, as the
additional money is likely to go to the currency and state securities markets.
The idea was also rejected by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin. --
OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATION IN KAZAKSTAN.
Some 500 people gathered near the
Academy of Sciences in Almaty to protest government policies on 17 November,
Kazakstani TV reported. The rally, organized by the Azamat People's Movement, a
confederation of independent trade unions, and pro-communist groups, did not
receive official authorization as the government argued that organizers would
not be able to "guarantee public order." Instead of holding an official rally,
the organizers put on a "silent protest" and symbolically bound their mouths.
Former Almaty Mayor Zamanbek Nurkadilov, a parliament deputy who has accused
the government of corruption, also attended the rally. Police closely watched
the rally; no violence was reported. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty
NEW SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT CHOSEN IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Following the Kyrgyz
Constitutional Court's 12 November decision invalidating Mukar Cholponbayev's
election as parliament speaker, the Legislative Assembly of Kyrgyzstan convened
on 15 November to select Usup Mukambayev to be the new speaker, ITAR-TASS and
RFE/RL reported. Cholponbayev had resigned on 13 November when the court found
that he had not received the required majority of votes when elected in March
1995. At that time, only 29 of the 35 deputies were present, 17 of whom voted
for Cholponbayev. In this latest vote, only 28 deputies were present, but 18
voted in favor of the 55-year-old Mukambayev. Cholponbayev was nominated again
but refused the nomination. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov
KOMSOMOLABAD FALLS TO TAJIK OPPOSITION.
Tajik opposition forces took
over the strategic city of Komsomolabad, 150 km east of the capital, Dushanbe,
by 15 November without a fight, Russian media reported. Russia's NTV reported
that the city is calm and the opposition has already replaced local officials.
The opposition also controls a long stretch of highway leading west toward
Dushanbe. Only 60 km separate government checkpoints on the outskirts of
Dushanbe from opposition checkpoints on the same road, according to NTV.
Opposition fighters are in positions only 12 km away from Dushanbe leaving the
capital and the Khatlon region to the south as the only territory in Tajikistan
under full government control. -- Bruce Pannier
CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS MARRED BY LOW TURNOUT.
Only about one-third of
voters participated in the first round of the first-ever Czech Senate elections
on 15-16 November, Czech media reported. The second round will take place next
weekend, with the two candidates from each district who fared best in the first
round running against each other. Candidates of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's
Civic Democratic Party (ODS) qualified for the second round in 76 of the 81
electoral districts. Three other ODS candidates, including Prague Mayor Jan
Koukal, won more than 50% of the vote in their districts and will not have to
take part in a run-off. The opposition Social Democrats have qualified for the
second round in 48 districts. Some analysts attribute the low turnout to the
fact that the two-round majority system used in the Senate elections is new.
Others point to the growing apathy among Czech voters following a series of
major political scandals. -- Jiri Pehe
DEMONSTRATORS CLASH WITH POLICE IN MINSK.
Between 5,000 and 10,000
people took part in a "March of Silence" in Minsk on 17 November to protest
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's proposals to increase his powers, Reuters
reported. Ten people were arrested and some 20 were slightly injured. The
demonstrators, carrying red and white Belarusian flags, marched on the
parliament building where deputies were scheduled to hold an emergency session
on the political situation in the republic. Lukashenka dismissed Central
Electoral Commission chairman Viktar Ganchar on 14 November, thereby violating
the constitution by interfering in the powers of the parliament. Meanwhile,
First Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Vasil Novikau said the Supreme Soviet has
begun impeachment procedures against the president. -- Sergei Solodovnikov
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT IN UPROAR OVER DRAFT LAW TO WITHDRAW MILITARY FROM
Leaders of all caucuses have signed a statement condemning a
draft law on the withdrawal of Ukrainian military from Sevastopol, UNIAN
reported on 15 November. The bill was proposed by Ivan Symonenko of the
who demanded that the Ukrainian "occupational
forces" pull out from Sevastopol by 1 July 1997. Symonenko described Crimea as
a Ukrainian colony and Sevastopol as a temporarily occupied city. The
Rukh caucus has demanded that Symonenko be stripped of his parliamentary
immunity and prosecuted. It also called for the dismissal of parliamentary
speaker Oleksander Moroz and his first deputy, Oleksander Tkachenko, for
"turning a blind eye to the anti-state activities of some deputies." -- Oleg
UKRAINE, HUNGARY AGREE 0N NATO ENLARGEMENT.
Hungarian President Arpad
Goncz, during a visit to Kyiv 14-16 November aimed at boosting bilateral ties,
said that Hungary does not want to have nuclear weapons on its territory if it
is accepted into NATO, Ukrainian and international agencies reported on 15
November. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma confirmed that the two countries
have no differences over the issue of NATO enlargement and European security.
An agreement was signed on taking care of military graves and the maintenance
of memorials. The two leaders attended the opening of a reconstructed bridge
across the border River Tisza on 16 November. Goncz also visited the
Transcarpathian region of Ukraine, which is home to some 170,000 ethnic
Hungarians. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev
ESTONIAN PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT.
Prime Minister Tiit Vahi,
who is also Coalition Party chairman, last week signed a cooperation agreement
with Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar, ETA reported. No mention is made in
that agreement about the Center Party joining the ruling coalition or other
agreements made by the two groups with third parties being revoked. But
together with the Russian Party in Estonia and United People's Party, Vahi and
Savisaar's parties ousted former Prime Minister Mart Laar as Tallinn city
council chairman and elected Savisaar as his replacement. Reform Party Mayor
Priit Vilba resigned in protest. He has been replaced by Robert Lepikson of the
Coalition Party. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN, RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS REACH AGREEMENT.
Russian Border Guards
chief Andrei Nikolaev and his Latvian counterpart, Gundars Dabolins, signed two
cooperation protocols in Riga on 15 November, BNS reported. Those documents
provide for cooperation in border protection and greater joint efforts to
combat organized crime, illegal migration, and the smuggling of drugs,
radioactive substances, weapons, and ammunition. Nikolaev also held talks with
Prime Minister Andris Skele and Interior Minister Dainis Turlais. His scheduled
meeting with President Guntis Ulmanis the next day was canceled following a
bomb attack on an apartment building in Dagestan where border guard officials
and their families were living. Nikolaev flew to Dagestan to be present at the
scene of the attack. -- Saulius Girnius
POLAND EXPERIENCES DIFFICULTIES ACCOMMODATING ILLEGAL ALIENS.
illegal aliens from Sri Lanka have been detained in provisional quarters at
police headquarters in Kielce, central Poland, Polish media reported on 18
November. The police said there were no vacancies at any Polish detention
center. Poland has 24 such centers, which together can accommodate up to 400
illegal aliens awaiting deportation. According to the Polish Border Guards, the
number of illegal aliens in Poland has been growing. So far this year, 12,000
people have been detained. The Border Guards estimate that about 20% of those
trying to illegally cross Poland's borders are successful. -- Beata Pasek
POLISH OPPOSITION LEADER ADDRESSES BUSINESSMEN.
The Polish Economic
Alliance (PPG), an organization of businessmen associated with the opposition
Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP), convened for its first congress on
17 November. Former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, who is the leader of the ROP,
told the congress that in the last seven years, "Mafia-style" capitalism has
been created in Poland. He said that the appropriation of state assets by
nomenklatura members has resulted in a mixture of "state and family
capitalism." Dariusz Grabowski, head of the ROP's economic team, was elected
president of the PPG. He told the congress that the planned reform of local
administration--which is to introduce three levels of administration instead of
the current two--will be "a noose around businessmen necks." He added that
businessmen will be financing the new functionaries, who, in turn, will be
serving the present authorities. -- Jakub Karpinski
SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER DISCUSSES "VELVET REVOLUTION."
speaking on Slovak Radio and TV Markiza on 17 November, called on his
unsuccessful opponents to leave politics and warned against "disinformation" in
the media. He pointed out that politicians who have already been defeated
several times cannot be "in favor" and are only "traumatizing" society by
pursuing political struggles. He also commented that he values the past seven
years of democratization and the significance of the "velvet revolution."
Slovakia is doing very well in the transformation process, Meciar said. But he
noted that "big social differences" are emerging and that these are
disappointing to the people. -- Anna Siskova
NOFRA, the publisher of Narodna obroda, voted on
14 November to dismiss Tatiana Repkova from her posts as the daily's
editor-in-chief and NOFRA director, Narodna obroda reported two days
later. NOFRA's new director is Nina Rasiova, who worked for the pro-government
regional daily Luc. Repkova's deputy, Ivo Nittmann, replaces her as
editor-in-chief. In June, the east Slovak ironworks VSZ, which has close ties
to the government, gained 100% of NOFRA's shares. In other news, the Slovak
Constitutional Court on 14 November ruled in favor of President Michal Kovac in
his dispute with Prosecutor-General Michal Valo over presidential pardons. Valo
filed the case after Kovac pardoned former secret service agent Oskar
Fegyveres, who admitted to participating in the kidnapping of Kovac's son. The
court ruled that Valo's refusal to enact a presidential pardon was
unconstitutional. Valo declined to comment but said he "fully respected" the
ruling. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS TO RESHUFFLE CABINET?
Several Hungarian Socialist
Party members have proposed a cabinet reshuffle in December or January,
Magyar Hirlap reported on 18 November. They argue this would be the
party's last chance to make changes that might considerably improve its
performance in the 1998 elections. Meanwhile, a heated debate took place at a
16 November meeting of the national council of the Alliance of Free Democrats
(SZDSZ) over whether the party should remain in coalition with the Socialists.
The SZDSZ has been divided over the issue since forming that coalition in 1994,
but a recent privatization scandal that embarrassed both parties has
intensified the debate. Some SZDSZ members, including party president Ivan Peto
and Culture Minister Balint Magyar, were in favor of remaining in government,
but several others pushed the leadership to quit the coalition. -- Zsofia
CONSTANTINESCU WINS ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
Tens of thousands
of supporters of the Democratic Convention of Romania celebrated early today
Emil Constantinescu's victory in the presidential elections, Romanian media
reported. Official results of the 17 November second round of voting are due
later this week, but exit polls show Constantinescu comfortably ahead of
incumbent President Ion Iliescu. IRSOP estimates that Constantinescu is leading
by 53.8% to 46.2%, while IMAS puts the figures at 53.5% to 46.5%. Iliescu has
conceded defeat and said he will respect the wishes of the electorate.
Constantinescu noted that the country's new leaders do not intend to exact
vengeance. "The time for hate is over," he said. "There will be no persecution
[or] punishment. We are going to build, not destroy." -- Michael Shafir
SNEGUR TO FACE LUCINSCHI IN MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF.
President Mircea Snegur will face parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi in the
second round of the Moldovan presidential elections, scheduled for 1 December.
The two beat out seven other candidates taking part in the first round on 17
November. Official results are due later this week. Meanwhile, preliminary
results released by the Central Electoral Commission and reported by BASA press
indicate Snegur won 38.24% of the vote and Lucinschi 24.90%. Vladimir Voronin,
chairman of the Moldovan Communists' Party, took third with 11.59% and was
followed by Premier Andrei Sangheli with 11.02%. Voter turnout was 67%,
considerably lower than the 80% registered in the parliamentary elections two
years ago. -- Michael Shafir
IS CROATIA'S PRESIDENT SERIOUSLY ILL?
Franjo Tudjman was secretly
admitted to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington for cancer surgery at the
end of last week, CNN reported on 15 November. Unnamed U.S. medical officials
and a Croatian diplomat told CNN and news agencies that his condition is quite
poor and that he may not recover. Other Croatian officials initially spoke of
routine tests, but his personal physician and an embassy spokeswoman claimed
the president's condition is "excellent" and that he will soon be back at his
desk and on the tennis courts, news agencies and Slobodna Dalmacija
noted on 18 November. Word of possible cancer surgery came as a surprise to
most observers because Tudjman (74) is an athletic non-smoker. Neither the
opposition nor his own party has any readily identifiable strong candidate for
the presidential vote slated for 1997, Novi List added. -- Patrick
TENSIONS ESCALATE AMONG BOSNIAN SERBS.
Cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic and
80 officers sacked with him still refuse to accept their dismissal and are
demanding negotiations with President Biljana Plavsic. She has so far refused
to see his emissaries or acknowledge that there is anything to negotiate.
Mladic's spokesmen continue to warn that the standoff could degenerate into
civil war between his loyalists, on the one hand, and the civilian authorities,
the police, and the pro-Plavsic military, on the other. Last week, the
civilians shut down Mladic's radio station. It has since emerged that Mladic's
backers took over the Zep television relay station on 12 November, thereby
crippling the Republika Srpska TV network, Nasa Borba reported on 18
November. Plavsic ordered the sackings on 9 November in the hope of ending the
long-lasting power struggle between the civilian and military authorities of
the Republika Srpska. Plavsic has acquired the support of the international
community, who had long pressed her to fire the indicted war criminal. --
OPPOSITION LOCAL ELECTION VICTORY IN SERBIA?
The second round of voting
in local elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia took place on 17
November. According to Beta, early returns suggest that opposition candidates
have scored major victories in Belgrade as well as in a number of cities,
including Nis and Kragujevac, both bastions of support for Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party. Should Zoran Djindjic, leader of the
Democratic Party and candidate of the opposition coalition Zajedno
(Together), succeed in his bid to become mayor of Belgrade, he would be the
city's first non-communist mayor since 1945. Official results are not expected
before 19 November. Only 27% of the 7,670 local seats were filled in the 3
November ballot. -- Stan Markotich
SERBIAN, CROATIAN INTERIOR MINISTRIES DISCUSS COOPERATION.
Interior Minister Ivan Jarnjak met with his federal Yugoslav counterpart,
Vukasin Jokanovic, in Belgrade on 15 November to discuss the powers and
organization of their ministries, Tanjug reported. They also tackled the
subject of cooperation in crime prevention and combatting "international
terrorism." A bilateral agreement may be reached following a visit by Jokanovic
to Zagreb, Tanjug noted. The talks were held within "the framework of the
implementation of the agreement on the normalization of relations between the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Croatia." -- Stan
MACEDONIANS VOTE IN FIRST LOCAL ELECTIONS SINCE INDEPENDENCE . . .
President Kiro Gligorov's Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia is
expected to have won most of the seats in Macedonia's first local elections
since 1991, AFP reported. Albanian parties in western Macedonia may win up to
40 town councils, Reuters said. In Tetovo and Skopje brawls broke out between
supporters of the Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD) and the Party of
Democratic Prosperity of the Albanians (PPDSH), Nova Makedonija
reported. The PPD reportedly lost against the PPDSH in most mainly ethnic
Albanian constituencies. Neither preliminary results nor exit polls have been
published yet. The ballot was monitored by 73 foreign observers who were due to
visit some 600 out of 2,631 polling stations. -- Fabian Schmidt
. . . WHILE OPPOSITION ALLEGES FRAUD.
Opposition parties said that many
voters, including at least two opposition candidates, could not vote because
their names were not on election lists, AFP reported. They also claimed that
the number of registered voters in some constituencies was greater than the
number of inhabitants. Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization spokesman
Dragi Ivanovski is quoted by Reuters as saying that the Social Democrats have
been seeking "a very small turnout so that the system of fraud can start
functioning." He added that many people's names had been removed from electoral
lists and that in one Skopje district, three streets had "disappeared." The
OSCE monitoring mission said it is still too early to comment on complaints.
Social Democrat spokesman Nake Stojanovski rejected the allegations. -- Fabian
OUTGOING BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR NEW GOVERNMENT, HELP FROM ABROAD.
Zhelyu Zhelev went on national television and radio on 15 November to
appeal to the parliamentary parties to form a new government capable of
resolving the country's economic crisis, RFE/RL and international media
reported. Zhelev said the Bulgarian Socialist Party should make "instant
changes" to its government or else cede power. He added that if neither the BSP
nor the opposition can form a new government, an expert government "with
guaranteed parliamentary support" should be set up. The same day, Zhelev called
on the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Russia
to support "the last desperate efforts to save the reforms in Bulgaria." He
asked for "expert, financial, moral, and political support" for the possible
introduction of a currency board, proposed by IMF officials as a "key element"
to stabilize the economy. -- Stefan Krause
BIG PRIVATIZATION DEAL IN BULGARIA.
The U.S.-based General Chemical
Group will purchase 60% of the state-owned Sodi Devnya works, a plant providing
about 10% of the world's calcinated soda, RFE/RL reported on 15 November,
quoting Deputy Prime Minister Rumen Gechev. The deal, said to be worth $160
million, follows the government's recent move to satisfy IMF requirements for
speeding up privatization. In other news, bank depositors over the last 10
months have lost 43.38 leva out of each 100 leva deposited, Demokratsiya
and Standart reported on 18 November. Standart also wrote that
real inflation in 1996 is 538%, while the official rate is 200%. -- Maria
ALBANIAN REAL ESTATE DISPUTE RESOLVED.
A dispute between dental students
and Muslims training to be priests over a large building at Tirana University
has been resolved, international agencies reported. Minister of Higher
Education Besnik Gjongecaj announced that two floors will be used by the dental
students and two by the novice Muslim priests. A court ruled last week that the
building should be returned to its former owner, the Muslim community. That
decision prompted protests by the dental students and brawls with the police.
The building was a Muslim school until such institutions were banned in Albania
in 1967. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave