DUMA BACKS AWAY FROM CONFRONTATION.
The State Duma leadership decided on
29 November not to hold a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's government or initiate impeachment proceedings against President
Boris Yeltsin, Kommersant-Daily reported on 30 November. The lower house
did not even succeed in adopting a resolution on the matter. The legitimacy of
the votes was called into question when it was announced that 42 Communist
deputies did not have their voting cards with them. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov charged that Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais has
set up his own government in the Kremlin which must be removed. -- Robert
YABLOKO SLAMS YELTSIN, CALLS FOR DEMOCRATIC UNITY.
After blasting the
Yeltsin administration as a dangerous oligarchic clan system that is pushing
the country toward fascism, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii called for all
"democratic" groups to unite at a 30 November party congress, NTV reported. He
also said Yabloko would be gradually transformed from a "movement" into a
political party. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev attended the
congress and expressed his support for Yabloko. Sergei Belyaev, the leader of
the pro-government Our Home Is Russia Duma faction, also attended the meeting
and noted that his bloc could find some common ground with Yabloko, but that
the two groups have differing opinions on the authorities currently in power.
During the 1995 Duma campaign, Yavlinskii rejected all attempts by other groups
to ally with him. He also failed to form a "third-force" alliance with
Aleksandr Lebed during the 1996 presidential campaign. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN REJECTS LAW ON AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION.
President Yeltsin on
29 November rejected a Duma bill that would have made it easier to amend the
constitution, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill stipulated that if the members of
the Russian Federation do not act on a proposed amendment within six months,
they are assumed to be in support of it. Constitutional amendments require the
support of two-thirds of all members of the Duma, three-fourths of the
Federation Council, and two-thirds of all legislatures in the 89 republics and
regions. -- Robert Orttung
GROUND FORCES COMMANDER SACKED.
President Yeltsin dismissed Army Gen.
Vladimir Semenov from his position as commander of the Ground Forces on 30
November. The order accused Semenov of "activities incompatible with his post,"
which "discredit the honor and dignity of a serviceman." According to AFP,
Semenov termed his sacking "completely unexpected," adding that no "convincing"
charges of misconduct or corruption had been leveled against him by the Defense
Ministry. A Ground Forces spokesman expressed "astonishment" at the
justification for Semenov's dismissal. -- Scott Parrish
OIL COMPANY BUYS INTO IZVESTIYA.
LUKoil-Garant, a pension fund
and subsidiary of the Russian oil company LUKoil, is set to buy a 20% stake in
the daily newspaper Izvestiya, Segodnya reported on 28 November.
According to the fund's general manager, Mikhail Berezhnoi, LUKoil-Garant plans
to invest a considerable sum of money into the newspaper,
Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. According to an unnamed source,
the company has already bought 20% of Izvestiya's shares from
Dialog-bank and another 5% from foreign shareholders. A LUKoil company
representative has reportedly joined the newspaper's editorial board. -- Anna
Paretskaya in Moscow
CHECHEN ELECTION PROSPECTS.
The Chechen leadership on 30 November failed
to agree on a single candidate for the republic's presidential election
scheduled for 27 January 1997, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 30 November, Russian
Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin told ITAR-TASS that Moscow will invite
observers from the Council of Europe and the OSCE to monitor the election. In
an interview published in a Grozny newspaper and summarized by ITAR-TASS on 1
December, former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov also advocated
OSCE monitoring, but declined to say whether he would run as a presidential
candidate. Meanwhile, a Russian presidential spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 29
November that the withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic will be
completed by 20 January 1997, but the commander of Russian Interior Ministry
forces in Chechnya, Col.-Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, said on 30 November that no
deadline has been set. -- Liz Fuller
ELECTION RESULTS CANCELED IN AMUR OBLAST.
An Amur Oblast court ruled on
28 November to annul the run-off results of the oblast's gubernatorial
election, citing massive forgery, Russian media reported. On 22 September,
incumbent Yurii Lyashko lost the second round to the chairman of the regional
legislature, opposition candidate Anatolii Belonogov, by 189 votes. The
investigation conducted by the regional Procurator's Office found that many
voters' signatures were falsified. Lyashko will stay in the office until a new
election scheduled for 27 March 1997, the same day as the oblast legislative
elections. A similar case is being heard in Rostov Oblast, where the opposition
claims that the 29 September gubernatorial poll results were forged by
incumbent Vladimir Chub, who received 62% of the vote to the opposition
candidate Leonid Ivanchenko's 20%. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow
THREE GOVERNORS SECURE RE-ELECTION . . .
The incumbent governors of
Samara, Ivanovo, and Kamchatka oblasts were re-elected on 1 December, according
to preliminary results released by Radio Rossii and Russian Public TV (ORT) the
next day. Konstantin Titov of Samara won re-election with about 60% of the
vote, twice as much as his rival, regional Communist Party leader Valentin
Romanov. Vladislav Tikhomirov of Ivanovo Oblast finished first with about 50%
of the vote. Vladimir Biryukov, the incumbent in Kamchatka Oblast, defeated
Boris Oleinikov by a margin of about 60% in the gubernatorial run-off. The
incumbent in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Vladimir Khabarov, won more than 40% of
the vote, and will face his opponent in a second round. -- Anna Paretskaya in
. . . WHILE TWO LOSE.
The chairman of the regional legislature in Altai
Krai, opposition candidate Aleksandr Surikov, defeated incumbent Lev Korshunov
in a run-off vote, Russian media reported. Surikov scored about 49% of the
vote, while Korshunov received 46%, about the same level of support they
received in the first round. The former chairman of the Murmansk Oblast Soviet,
Yurii Yevdokimov, defeated incumbent Yevgenii Komarov by a margin of 4%.
Yevdokimov, who was supported by Aleksandr Lebed's Honor and Motherland
movement, won about 12% less than Komarov in the first round two weeks ago. --
Anna Paretskaya in Moscow
RUSSIA STEPS UP CAMPAIGN AGAINST NATO ENLARGEMENT.
On the eve of the
OSCE summit in Lisbon, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who will head the
Russian delegation in Lisbon, said on his departure, "we are categorically
opposed to NATO's eastward enlargement," and called for bolstering the role of
the OSCE instead. In a 28 November article in Nezavisimaya gazeta,
Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, generally a moderate on the expansion issue,
blasted NATO for refusing to sign a charter with Moscow before accepting new
members. He threatened that if the alliance expands, Russia will consider
changing its military doctrine, seeking new allies, withdrawing from the 1990
CFE arms control agreement, targeting nuclear weapons on Eastern Europe, and
denouncing START I and START II. The threats are probably aimed at securing
concessions in return for Moscow's eventual acquiescence to NATO enlargement.
-- Scott Parrish
INDIA AGREES TO BUY UP TO 50 SU-30 FIGHTERS.
Indian Defense Ministry
officials and representatives of Rosvoruzhenie signed a contract on 30 November
under which India will purchase a number of SU-30MK multi-purpose fighters,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Neither side would reveal the number of
planes involved, or the exact value of the contract, although Rosvoruzhenie
spokesman Valerii Pogrebnikov said the contract is worth more than $1 billion,
and Moscow has not denied earlier reports that the deal calls for the delivery
of 8 SU-30MK planes initially, and up to 40 later. -- Scott Parrish
MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF IN CUBA.
A delegation led by Col.-Gen. Fedor
Ladygin, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian General
Staff, arrived in Havana on 28 November to participate in ceremonies marking
the 40th anniversary of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, according to
ITAR-TASS. Izvestiya, however, reported on 30 November that Ladygin's
main mission is to discuss the continued operation of the Russian electronic
eavesdropping facility at Lourdes, near Havana, for which Russia reportedly
pays Cuba about $200 million annually. -- Scott Parrish
CHERNOMYRDIN ON CRIME.
Speaking at an Interior Ministry meeting at on 29
November, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin praised the police for managing
"to prevent the total criminalization of Russian society" and to halt "the
plundering of the national wealth, of natural resources, and the penetration
into the national economy of 'dirty,' criminal money." He said, nevertheless,
that the shadow economy accounts for 20%-50% of all economic activity in the
country. Chernomyrdin admitted that the government owes the ministry 1.5
trillion rubles ($280 million) and hopes to pay it by the end of the year. The
1997 budget will allocate 30 trillion rubles to the ministry. -- Peter
MONETARY POLICY FOR 1997.
The government has approved the Central Bank
of Russia's (TsB) blueprint for monetary and credit policy in 1997,
Segodnya reported on 29 November. The blueprint envisages a 22%-30%
annual increase in money supply. From January through October 1996, cash
emission in Russia totaled 17.7 trillion rubles ($3.5 billion), compared to
31.2 trillion rubles over the same period in 1995, Segodnya reported on
28 November. TsB Chairman Sergei Dubinin said that the economy can withstand
such an increase next year without boosting yearly inflation to more than the
12% envisioned in the 1997 draft budget. On 29 November, the TsB announced the
fifth cut in its refinancing rate this year--from 60% to 48%, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Natalia Gurushina
OIL TAX TO BE CUT.
On 29 November, First Deputy Economics Minister Yakov
Urinson announced that the excise tax on oil will be cut from 70,000 to 55,000
rubles per metric ton in 1997, ITAR-TASS reported. Urinson said that energy
companies account for 65% of budget revenue, and are taxed more heavily than
their Western counterparts. Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin told a government
meeting on 28 November that the Russian economy will continue to stagnate
unless it adopts a new industrial policy, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported.
Yasin said the government should give the space, nuclear, and power sectors
investments, subsidies, and export credits to help them compete on world
markets, and use import tariffs to protect domestic auto, engineering, and
light industrial manufacturers. Such recommendations are sharply at odds with
the government's current policies. -- Peter Rutland
ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT GETS A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.
The Armenian parliament
on 29 November approved the government program of recently appointed Prime
Minister Armen Sarkisyan, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Speaking at a
session of parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by deputies loyal to
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Sarkisyan said a "qualitative improvement" of
economic reforms will be his government's top priority. He also pledged more
state support for education, science, and culture. -- Emil Danielyan
NIYAZOV IN TASHKENT.
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov began a
two-day state visit to Uzbekistan on 27 November, and signed a number of
economic and cultural agreements designed to improve relations which have been
overall cool, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Niyazov and his Uzbek
counterpart, Islam Karimov, also discussed the situations in Tajikistan and
Afghanistan. On 21 November, Uzbekistan opened an embassy in Ashgabat. --
UPDATE ON CURRENCY CRISIS IN UZBEKISTAN.
President Islam Karimov hinted
that importers bringing "high quality" goods into Uzbekistan would enjoy a
greater degree of convertibility from January 1997. Karimov went on to say
joint ventures engaged in "civilized business with Uzbekistan will not suffer
any material losses." His remarks, broadcast on Uzbek Radio on 27 November and
monitored by the BBC, suggest the government is attempting to step back from
regulations introduced in late October that effectively forbid foreign currency
transactions and limit currency conversion to a handful of large firms
operating in Uzbekistan. Diplomats, traders, and international lending
institutions have all registered their displeasure with the new regulations. In
other news, Uzbek Radio on 26 November announced the minimum monthly wage in
Uzbekistan would rise to 600 som, approximately $12 at the official exchange
rate but about $5 on the black market. -- Lowell Bezanis
ANOTHER TAJIK TOWN UNDER SIEGE.
The city of Garm in central Tajikistan
is the latest to fall to forces of the Tajik opposition, Russian and Western
media reported. Opposition fighters began attacking Garm on 1 December, killing
at least seven government soldiers and by nightfall were holding some 100-150
government employees and soldiers in a local mosque. Government aircraft and
helicopters responded by bombing the city. Fighting continued into the next
morning. The fall of Garm leaves the opposition in control of a fork in a
strategic highway leading both southeast and northeast. Supplies must now be
airlifted to government forces in Tajikabad and CIS border guards in Khorog,
Kalai-Khumb, and Ishkashim. -- Bruce Pannier
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS NEW CONSTITUTION.
signed a new constitution in a ceremony on 28 November, international agencies
reported. No diplomats from European embassies accepted Lukashenka's invitation
to attend the ceremony. A day earlier, NTV reported that the text of the
constitution appeared in the country's largest newspapers, Sovetskaya
Belorussiya and Narodnaya hazeta. According to the new basic law, it
comes into effect from the day of its publication. On 28 November, police only
allowed "old" parliamentary deputies into the parliament to pick up their
personal belongings. The rump old legislature said its government phone lines
had been cut, and the official excuse for their barring was that their rooms
needed "redecoration." The same day, the new House of Representatives opened
its first extraordinary session and dissolved the old legislature. Anatol
Malfeyeu was elected speaker of the new lower house of the legislature, and
Uladzimir Konoplyau was elected deputy speaker. On 29 November, Lukashenka
signed a bill terminating the authority of the old parliament. -- Ustina
PORTUGUESE PRESIDENT REFUSES TO MEET WITH BELARUSIAN COUNTERPART.
President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal refused to meet with President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka before the opening of the OSCE summit in Lisbon, AFP
reported on 1 December. The refusal was officially attributed to a lack of time
in the Portuguese president's schedule; however, observers noted that the
position of the president was in line with that of the European Union and most
western countries, which criticized the way in which the recent referendum in
Belarus was held. OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti sought to hold a special meeting
on the situation in Belarus, but was blocked by Russia. Russia, meanwhile,
recognized the referendum as constitutional, noting that stability in Belarus
is a critical precondition for further integration of the two countries. --
UKRAINE CLOSES A REACTOR AT CHORNOBYL.
Ukraine shut down reactor No. 1
at the Chornobyl nuclear power station on 30 November, international agencies
reported. Despite earlier pledges to permanently close the 19-year old reactor,
Ukrainian officials say it is being closed temporarily for maintenance and
repair and could be restarted if the winter is harsh. According to an agreement
with the G-7, the whole plant must be closed by 2000 in return for $3 billion
in aid. The closure leaves only reactor No. 3 operating. Ukraine suffers from
severe energy shortages and has repeatedly threatened to go back on its promise
to close Chornobyl if it does not receive the international aid promised from
the G-7 in October. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON HALTING BLACK SEA FLEET DIVISION.
Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk failed to reach an agreement in Moscow with
his Russian counterpart Igor Rodionov over the basing of the Black Sea Fleet,
President Leonid Kuchma proposed that the division of the fleet be halted and a
treaty on friendship and cooperation between Russia and Ukraine be signed,
Russian Public Television and AFP reported on 30 November. Kuchma said the
treaty would address a strategic partnership between Russia and Ukraine in the
Black Sea zone, and it is within this framework that the basing issue can be
resolved. He said without the treaty the two sides were operating in an
atmosphere of suspicion in which it was impossible to resolve problems. Other
issues were settled more successfully during the Moscow talks. Ekho Moskvy
reported that Russia agreed to compensate Ukraine for 25 strategic bombers (ten
TU-160s and 15 TU-95MSs) to the tune of $320-350 million. The sum will be
deducted from Ukraine's energy debt to Russia. The defense ministers also
signed an agreement on cooperation between their ministries. -- Ustina Markus
MINORITY ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT FORMED.
President Lennart Meri on 1
December approved the new government formed by Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, ETA
reported. Vahi named replacements for the six ministers who resigned when the
Reform Party left the ruling coalition. He decided not to form a coalition with
the Center Party and the government will be supported by only 41 members of the
101-member parliament. The Estonian ambassador to the U.S., Toomas Ilves, was
appointed Foreign Minister on 28 November. The other five new appointments are:
Interior Minister Riivo Sinijarv, Social Minister Tiiu Aro, Education Minister
Rein Loik, Economy Minister Jaak Leimann, and Transport and Communications
Minister Raivo Vare. -- Saulius Girnius
NEW LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER APPROVED.
The Seimas on 28 November voted
95-5 with 20 abstentions to approve the nomination of Homeland Union
(Conservatives of Lithuania) [TS(LK)] board Chairman Gediminas Vagnorius as
prime minister, Radio Lithuania reported. The next day President Algirdas
Brazauskas charged Vagnorius with forming a new cabinet and to present his
program to the Seimas within 15 days. Vagnorius proposed a cabinet that would
have 11 ministers from the TS(LK), three from its coalition partner, the
Christian Democratic Party, and the vice president of the Confederation of
Industrialists, Vincas Bobilius. Vagnorius also offered two minister posts to
the Center Union, whose council on 1 December decided not to object the offers.
-- Saulius Girnius
POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION DECIDES ON DRAFT LUSTRATION LAW.
commission has decided that all state officials, from deputy governor to the
president, parliamentary deputies, judges, prosecutors, and candidates for
those posts will be screened to determine if they cooperated with the
communist-era secret service, Polish media reported on 30 November. The persons
under lustration will be asked to declare in writing whether they were a secret
service functionary or collaborated with one before 1990. The commission
members of the opposition parties outvoted the PSL's coalition partner
Democratic Left Alliance's proposal that lustration be conducted ex officio on
the basis of information by the defense minister or internal affairs minister
on whether their archives contain documents proving someone's collaboration
with the secret service. The declarations will be made public. According to the
opposition draft, the declarations will be verified by a special commission of
judges. -- Beata Pasek
ROW OVER CZECH SENATE CHAIRMAN.
Czech coalition parties were unable on
29 November to agree on whom to nominate as chairman of the recently elected
upper chamber of the Czech Parliament, Czech media reported. Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) nominated Irena Ondrova, who is
deputy mayor of the town of Zlin. The Christian Democratic Union nominated
former Czech Prime Minister Petr Pithart. The ODS, however, said it is opposed
to Pithart, arguing he had failed in his post as prime minister. President
Vaclav Havel on 1 December expressed support for Pithart, describing him as "a
thoughtful, understanding, and educated person." Defending Pithart's
credentials, Havel noted that Pithart was the prime minister in very difficult
times. The opposition Social Democrats and the Communists said they would
support Pithart's candidacy. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR REFERENDUM ON INTEGRATION.
Meciar on 28 November said Slovakia's entrance into NATO and the EU should be
decided by a referendum, Slovak media reported. Slovakia does not want to join
European structures as a beggar but as a equal partner, he stressed. There is a
stream of Slovak intellectuals who prefer Slovakia's neutrality or later
integration into NATO, Meciar said, adding that a referendum on NATO membership
would ideally be held in May 1997. In other news, the republican council of the
ruling Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) issued a statement on 30
November warning of radicalization on the political scene. "The situation was
caused by some opposition parties, who by their unprofessional and unreasonable
attacks raise uncertainty and chaos in society and in the parliament," the
party claimed. HZDS Deputy Chairman Sergej Kozlik stressed his party's will to
cooperate with other political parties but said that the happiness and
prosperity of the Slovak nation must be in the parties' common interest. --
HUNGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE.
Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 27 November
announced that Agriculture Minister Laszlo Lakos will be replaced on 15
December, Reuters reported. "A leadership change at the ministry has become
necessary in light of the need for a national agricultural program that would
meet European Union requirements," a statement said. Lakos is the 11th minister
to depart from Horn's coalition government since its formation in May 1994.
Horn on 28 November nominated Frigyes Nagy to succeed Lakos. Nagy, a 57
year-old agriculture engineer, is a parliamentary deputy representing Horn's
Socialist Party and vice president of the European Integration Committee. In
other news, Horn on 29 November fired four top police officials as a result of
the gang-related violence that has swept through Budapest. -- Sharon Fisher
SERBIAN POLICE VOW CRACK DOWN . . .
Belgrade police authorities issued a
statement on 1 December promising to "hold responsible" organizers of ongoing
mass public demonstrations, triggered after the regime nullified victories by
the opposition Zajedno movement during 17 November runoff municipal elections.
The police say they have been more than tolerant in the face of unlawful
behavior, and are now prepared to crack down on what they claim are "serious
breaches of the law," Tanjug reported. For their part, Zajedno leaders have
gone on record saying that police have already harassed and arrested protest
organizers. The Serbian regime continues to manipulate press coverage of the
protests, and independent media are coming under pressure to conform with the
government line, with the most recent target of regime interference being the
recently founded daily Blic. Independent Radio B 92, for its part, has
had its frequencies jammed. -- Stan Markotich
. . . WHILE OPPOSITION VOWS TO FORGE AHEAD WITH PROTESTS.
opposition leaders say they will continue with peaceful, Serbia-wide mass
demonstrations against Serbian authorities and have promised to peacefully take
over local institutions on 2 December in the urban areas where Zajedno
originally won elections. The only thing that can prevent a full-scale boycott
of the republican and local legislatures, say Zajedno leaders, is a ruling by
the Serbian parliament nullifying third round results that overturned the 17
November results. Parliament is slated to meet 3 December. In related news, the
BBC on 30 November reported that police authorities physically abused two
student protesters during an "interrogation" session. Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic has been roundly criticized by the international community
for his tampering with the results of the local elections. -- Stan Markotich
BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD.
The OSCE's chief election monitor
for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ambassador Robert Frowick, announced on 1 December that
the Bosnian Serbs have agreed to accept the OSCE's monitoring of the local
elections slated for 1997, VOA reported. This removes the last major obstacle
to the OSCE's organizing of the vote, which the Muslims and Croats have already
accepted. An adviser to President Alija Izetbegovic said, however, that
continued Muslim support will depend on the exact nature of the new election
rules, AFP noted. The Muslim leaders fear that the Serbs will again try to
abuse a controversial clause in the previous election rules that enables people
to cast their votes for areas in which they claim they will eventually live.
The new regulations contain this option, but will require the voter to prove a
"connection" to the place, such as a home, business, or blood relative. --
FIRST SENTENCE HANDED DOWN BY HAGUE COURT.
The International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia announced on 29 November that it has
sentenced Drazen Erdemovic to ten years in prison, the BBC and
Oslobodjenje reported. Erdemovic is an ethnic Croat whose underworld
activities eventually led him to the Bosnian Serb side and participation in a
massacre of 1,200 Muslims after the fall of Srebrenica in 1995. The court said
it was lenient because Erdemovic, who had turned himself in, showed remorse and
had been cooperative. His testimony revealed a massacre that had not been
reported before and that is now under investigation. It is the first sentence
for war crimes since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials at the end of World War II.
-- Patrick Moore
IS THE BOSNIAN SERB POWER STRUGGLE OVER?
The civilian leadership of the
Republika Srpska has achieved two of its main goals in its confrontation with
the military establishment based at Han Pijesak. On 28 November, the cashiered
commander and indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic agreed to step down. On 1
December, his deputy, Gen. Milan Gvero, did likewise, AFP reported. Neither man
went quietly, however. Mladic warned the government that it must do something
about the poor morale and state of preparedness in the army, claiming that his
intelligence reports show that "the Muslims" will renew fighting later in 1997.
Gvero lambasted the civilians, arguing that they "believe that the services of
the officers and generals who fought the war are useless and harmful." --
PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL BUDGET.
The Croatian parliament (Sabor)
on 29 November adopted a controversial 1997 budget, international and local
media reported. The budget, which totals 35.42 billion kunas ($6.4 billion),
allots increases of up to 50% to government offices, while education, science
and the judiciary get up to 10% more. The majority of deputies from the ruling
Croatian Democratic Community outvoted the opposition in passing the budget.
Vlado Gotovac of the opposition Social-liberals criticized the government for
spending too much at a time when a tight budget is needed. In other news, the
head of Croatia's supreme court, Krunoslav Olujic, who was sacked amid
allegations of pedophilia (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1996),
said his dismissal was "purely political" and "a public lynching," Novi
List reported on 30 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic
UNPREDEP MANDATE EXTENDED IN MACEDONIA.
The UN Security Council on 27
November approved a six-month extension of the UN Preventive Deployment Force
in Macedonia, Reuters reported. The mandate was extended until 31 May, but
UNPREDEP's strength will be reduced from a current 1,100 to 800 troops and
monitors by 30 April. Russia abstained from the vote, saying the current
extension should be the last one. In other news, the second round of local
elections took place on 1 December. Macedonian media put the turnout at around
60%. First official results are not expected until late on 2 December. --
NEW ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TAKES OATH.
Emil Constantinescu was sworn in as
Romania's new president on 29 November, Romanian media reported. The same day
he held talks with leaders of all political formations represented in
parliament: the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), the Party of Social
Democracy in Romania, the Social Democratic Union (USD), the Greater Romania
Party, and the Party of Romanian National Unity. Afterwards, Constantinescu
officially designated Victor Ciorbea, the CDR mayor of Bucharest, to form the
new government. Constantinescu stressed that he wanted a "solid government . .
. one for four years and not just for several months, as some people would
like." Two days earlier, USD leader Petre Roman, who was Romania's premier from
1990 to 1991, and Ion Diaconescu, chairman of the National Peasant Party --
Christian Democratic, were elected chairmen of the Senate and the Chamber of
Deputies, respectively. -- Dan Ionescu
PRO-RUSSIAN ELECTED MOLDOVA'S PRESIDENT.
Parliament Speaker Petru
Lucinschi was elected Moldova's president in a runoff on 1 December, Moldovan
and Western agencies reported. According to preliminary data, Lucinschi's led
with 53.14% of the vote, over incumbent President Mircea Snegur with 46.86%.
Lucinschi, 56, who was the highest ranking ethnic Moldovan in the hierarchy of
the defunct Communist Party of the Soviet Union (he was Central Committee
secretary), was backed by leftist forces, including the ruling Agrarian
Democratic Party, the socialists, the Communists' Party of Moldova and the
Edinstvo-Unitate movement. He is generally seen as pro-Russian; during the
electoral campaign, he repeatedly advocated closer ties with the Commonwealth
of Independent States and Russia. In a first statement, Lucinschi said that his
"victory [was] one for the people ... who want a change for the better." -- Dan
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS CONSENSUS ON CURRENCY BOARD.
expressed serious concerns in a 27 November letter to IMF Managing Director
Michael Camdessus about whether a political consensus for the introduction of a
currency board in Bulgaria can be reached, international and national media
reported. He said opposition support for the board may help the current
Socialist government but noted that a board would be discredited if supported
only by the Socialists in parliament. The cabinet issued a statement labeling
Zhelev's letter as misleading and causing great damage to Bulgaria's
relationship with international institutions. Meanwhile, European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development Regional Director Olivier Descamps said on 29
November that the bank will no longer participate in state-sponsored projects
in Bulgaria because of questionable support by the IMF and the World Bank and
the slow development of the reform program. However, loans would still be made
to support private-sector projects. -- Maria Koinova
HEAVY PRISON TERMS FOR EIGHT ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS.
court headed by Judge Andi Celiku on 27 November sentenced eight Communist
Party officials to long prison terms. They were found guilty of the
"large-scale deportation of people, violations of the Albanian constitution and
of international conventions," AFP reported. Shkoder party Secretary Enver
Halili and former secret police officer Mehdi Bushati were tried in absentia
and were both sentenced to 22 years in prison. Others sentenced include local
party chairmen and secret police officers Raqi Iftica (17 years), Marash Kola
(16 years), and Hysen Shehu (4 years). Others tried in absentia included Qemal
Bregasi (18 years), Lahedin Bardhi (18 years), and Jorgaq Mihali (16 years). --