YELTSIN HEALTH UPDATE.
President Boris Yeltsin remains at the Central
Clinical Hospital, being treated for pneumonia. The head of the Kremlin medical
center Dr. Sergei Mironov said that a fairly large area of both lungs is
affected, NTV reported on 12 January. Mironov believes Yeltsin will stay at the
hospital for the next 4 to 5 days, while his recovery period will last at least
through the end of January. On the same day, the presidential press service
asserted that President Yeltsin's "activity level has increased markedly" and
that he has begun working on documents. No visitors are being allowed to see
Yeltsin, Ekho Moskvy reported on 11 January. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski
LEBED ON EARLY ELECTIONS, KORZHAKOV.
In an interview with the commercial
network TV-6 on 12 January, former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
again expressed his presidential ambitions and asserted that Yeltsin's poor
health will force an early election. Lebed said the country had been "without a
government" since Yeltsin fell ill last summer and warned of a possible "social
explosion." Asked about his relations with former presidential bodyguard
Aleksandr Korzhakov, Lebed said he meets with Korzhakov occasionally, adding,
"the enemies of my enemies are my friends." -- Laura Belin
STROEV CALLS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE ...
Warning that the country
cannot live on the basis of presidential decrees, Federation Council Chairman
Yegor Stroev called for increasing the constitutional powers of the parliament
in determining economic and social policy, NTV reported on 10 January. Stroev
also called for giving both houses of the parliament a say in the nomination of
deputy prime ministers and power ministers, currently the prerogative of the
president. Stroev has usually been careful to support the president and these
statements may signal an increasingly aggressive upper house. The Federation
Council is made up of the regional elite, almost all of whom were popularly
elected following the gubernatorial elections in the second half of last year.
-- Robert Orttung
... POLITICIANS, MEDIA REACT.
Presidential representative to the
Constitutional Court Sergei Shakhrai spoke out sharply against changing the
constitution, reminding Russian Public TV (ORT) viewers on 11 January of the
constitutional battles that led to bloodshed in October 1993. Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov also spoke against changing the constitution, according to Radio
Mayak. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 January suggested that Stroev's
statement reflected his efforts to block a possible attempt to remove him as
speaker by showing that he is aggressively pursuing the parliament's cause
against the executive. -- Robert Orttung
PRIEST KIDNAPPED IN CHECHNYA.
Father Yefim, the head of the Orthodox
Church in Grozny, and fellow-priest Aleksei Vavilov were kidnapped on 9 January
as they drove to the town of Urus-Martan, NTV reported the next day. On 11
January Russian Patriarch Aleksii II appealed for their release: the Chechen
Mufti Haji Akhmad Kadyrov pledged his assistance. Yefim was reportedly driving
in search of another priest who was kidnapped a year ago. An estimated 300
persons have been kidnapped in Chechnya, including the brother of former
Supreme Soviet chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, a professor at Grozny university,
for whom the kidnappers are reportedly demanding $1.5 million. -- Peter
POLL: MASKHADOV AHEAD IN RACE FOR PRESIDENT.
According to a poll of
Chechen residents cited by ITAR-TASS on 12 January, former chief of staff Aslan
Maskhadov leads the presidential race with 65% support, trailed by ex-press
spokesman Movladi Udugov with 17%, while current President Zelimkan Yandarbiev
and field commander Shamil Basaev have 8% each. The remaining 12 presidential
candidates attracted 2% or less. Moscow is hoping for a Maskhadov victory,
since he is regarded as the most reasonable of the Chechen leaders. On 10
January the National Patriotic Party of Ichkeria announced they were backing
Udugov, Radio Mayak reported. -- Peter Rutland
CIS SUMMIT POSTPONED.
CIS Executive Secretary Ivan Korotchenya announced
on 10 January that the scheduled 17 January CIS summit will be postponed until
the end of the month, Russian media reported. Korotchenya attributed the
postponement to a scheduling conflict involving Uzbek President Islam Karimov,
who plans to be in Slovakia on 16-17 January, although the real reason is
presumably President Yeltsin's health. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA CONDEMNS TURKISH THREATS AGAINST CYPRUS.
The Russian Foreign
Ministry on 11 January denounced threats by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and
Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller that Ankara "will do what is necessary, even if
that means strikes," to prevent the deployment of Russian S-300 air defense
missile in Greek-controlled Cyprus, Russian and Western media reported. Foreign
Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov said Ciller's remarks were "a direct threat
to the security of sovereign Cyprus." He reiterated the Russian view that the
S-300 missiles which Russia recently agreed to sell Cyprus are "purely
defensive," and will not upset the regional military balance. Tarasov urged
Turkey to consider Moscow's idea of full demilitarization of Cyprus. Western
governments, while critical of the missile sale, have also called on Ankara to
show restraint. -- Scott Parrish
INCUMBENTS REELECTED IN THREE REGIONS.
The governor of Tyumen Oblast and
presidents of the republics of Adygeya and Kabardino-Balkariya were reelected
on 12 January, according to preliminary results, Radio Rossii reported the next
day. Leonid Roketskii, who received about 59% of the vote, outpolled
businessman Sergei Atroshenko by over 25% in the Tyumen gubernatorial run-off.
The turnout in the oblast was slightly over 25%. The incumbent president of
Kabardino-Balkariya, Valerii Kokov, ran unopposed and was reelected with 97%
turnout. Aslan Dzharimov, the president of Adygeya, received about 58% of the
vote; his two Communist-backed rivals, Aslanbii Sovmiz and Kazbek Tsiku, won
20% and 16% respectively. The results of all three regional races may be
challenged in court, as the elections were accompanied by irregularities and
legal violations. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow
TEACHERS GO ON STRIKE.
Thousands of teachers across Russia are taking
part in protest actions on 13 January, ITAR-TASS reported. As in numerous
similar protests in previous years, the teachers' main grievances are lengthy
delays in the payment of wages and the low level of state funding for the
education sector. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 January said that more than
400,000 workers from 10,000 educational establishments in 55 of the country's
89 regions intended to take part in strikes and demonstrations. According to
the paper, wage arrears grew by almost 1.5 trillion rubles over the past month
and currently exceed 6 trillion. A senior trade union official was quoted by
the BBC as saying that the situation was particularly serious in parts of
Chita, Novosibirsk, Arkhangelsk, Amur, and Bryansk oblasts, where teachers have
not been paid for six to nine months. -- Penny Morvant
The Russian government is sending two ships
to help tackle the oil spill that followed the sinking of a Russian tanker in
the Sea of Japan on 2 January, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 January. An estimated
4,000 metric tons of oil leaked when the Nakhokda broke apart, polluting
the Japanese coastline and fouling fishing grounds. On 11 January, Russia
allocated 1.5 billion rubles ($270,000) to the clean-up operation. The tanker's
captain is still missing: the rest of the crew have refused to talk to the
press under pressure from Prisco Traffic, the company that owns the tanker.
Nezavisimaya gazeta alleged on 11 January that the wreck might be part
of an insurance scam: the Nakhodka was reportedly insured for $500
million with a London-based group. -- Penny Morvant
TOP U.S. OFFICIAL WARNS RUSSIA ON ECONOMIC POLICY.
Larry Summers, Deputy
U.S. Treasury Secretary, has warned that market reform in Russia "has lost
momentum [and] key structural measures [have] dropped off the reform agenda."
Summers, the top U.S. official dealing with Russian economic issues, was
speaking to a conference of U.S. and Russian businessmen at Harvard University
on 9 January. The Russian delegation was led by controversial businessman Boris
Berezovskii, currently Deputy Secretary of the Security Council. Summers said
"1996 was a year consumed less by policy than by politics and cardiology," and
urged Russia to tackle the problems of rampant crime and ineffective taxation.
Summers' comments seemed to signal a departure from the previous U.S.
administration line, that the market transition in Russia is basically on
track. -- Peter Rutland
SOSKOVETS' AMEX CARD.
The three-part expose of criminal activities in
Russia's aluminum industry run by NTV's Itogi concluded on 12 January and
revealed the main piece of evidence - a copy of Oleg Soskovets' American
Express statement. Earlier episodes had alluded to Soskovets's links with the
aluminum industry (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 January 1997). The latest
program detailed the killings of three bankers in 1995 who were involved in an
attempt to win control over the Krasnoyarsk aluminum works. The program then
revealed that Soskovets, formerly First Deputy Prime Minister, and his son have
held an American Express Corporate Account card, out of a Swiss bank, since
1994. The 20-year-old Aleksei allegedly spent $103,532 with his card in six
months in 1994, including $25,000 in a Swiss jewelry shop and $724 for a dinner
at Moscow's Metropole Hotel. Soskovets senior was more modest, buying $5,000
worth of groceries over the past two months. The program complained that no-one
from the Interior Ministry's department of economic crime had contacted them
after the two previous broadcasts. -- Peter Rutland
RUSSIA READY TO ACCEPT URANIUM FROM GEORGIA.
Ministry of Atomic Energy
spokesman Grigorii Kaurov told ITAR-TASS on 11 January that "there is no
problem as such" with Russia accepting approximately 10 kg (22 lbs) of
highly-enriched uranium stored at an insecure Georgian research facility.
Kaurov said "it will take time to go through several judicial formalities" to
transfer the radioactive materials to Russia as a special agreement with
Georgia needs to be signed; other Russian officials said the timing of the
uranium's removal depends on resolving "technical" issues. Repeated American
offers of financial and technical aid have failed to speed up the removal. The
officials added that before the uranium is removed, Tbilisi must agree to
accept the radioactive waste left after it is reprocessed. Georgian officials
have balked, because Georgia does not have a suitable storage facility. Kaurov
criticized the "unjustified furor" raised by media reports about the uranium
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 January 1997), which he argued poses no
proliferation threat. -- Scott Parrish and Emil Danielyan
U.S. TO PUSH FOR FRESH ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA?
The United States will
press Armenian Prime Minister Armen Sarkisyan, currently visiting Washington,
to hold fresh parliamentary elections, an unidentified U.S. official told AFP
on 10 January. The official said early elections would be "one way to give the
opposition a constructive role and have a more representative and democratic
structure." AFP also quoted U.S. officials as saying they hope that the
elections could be held in March, and Sarkisyan could foster the country's
"political reform" in the wake of the 22 September presidential vote that has
caused doubts about the legitimacy of President Levon Ter-Petrossyan.
Opposition leader Vazgen Manukyan has repeatedly said that fresh presidential
and parliamentary elections are the only issues the opposition is ready to
discuss with the authorities. -- Emil Danielyan
BISHKEK SUMMIT PRODUCES TREATY ON ETERNAL FRIENDSHIP.
The presidents of
Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan met in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on 10
January, Western and Russian media reported. Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakstan,
Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, and summit host Askar Akayev signed a treaty
declaring "eternal friendship" between their states. They also agreed to form a
Central Asian peacekeeping battalion which will be based at Jibek-Jolu on the
Kazak-Kyrgyz border. The three states promised to cooperate militarily,
agreeing to a mutual defense arrangement. "If the territorial integrity and
independence of one of our states is threatened...the leaders of the three
states may take measures, including military ones, to defend our states,"
Nazarbayev said. Also discussed was a means to make the Uzbek currency, the
sum, convertible into Kyrgyz som or Kazak tenge. A proposal to extend the term
of peacekeepers now serving in Tajikistan from the current three countries was
postponed until the forthcoming CIS summit. -- Bruce Pannier
TALKS BETWEEN TASHKENT, DUSHANBE.
Tajik Prime Minister Yahya Azimov held
two days of talks in Tashkent with his Uzbek counterpart Utkir Sultanov, RFE/RL
reported on 11 January. Discussion focused on Dushanbe's debt to Uzbekistan for
natural gas and electricity, as well as gas supplies for 1997 and
transport-related problems. The sides failed to reach agreement on these
issues, but did sign an agreement on education. The magnitude of the problems
(last year Tajikistan acknowledged it owed Uzbekistan $200 million) and
Dushanbe's hopes to purchase gas at a subsidized rate are likely to have made
it difficult for the sides to agree. Last week as a result of the conflict in
Tursun Zade, Tajikistan, several shells fell on Uzbek territory, wounding four.
On 10 January Tashkent officially protested the incident and called on Dushanbe
to prevent its repetition. -- Lowell Bezanis
UKRAINIAN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER IN BRUSSELS.
visited Brussels for talks with NATO, Ukrainian Radio reported on 10-12
January. After the visit, Ukrainian Radio announced that a special partnership
agreement between NATO and Ukraine may be signed this year. Horbulin said he
views the special partnership between Ukraine and NATO as an important
component of European security. -- Ustina Markus
GAS DISTRIBUTORS WIN CONTRACTS IN UKRAINE.
Ten Ukrainian and foreign gas
distribution companies won the rights to supply Ukrainian consumers with more
than 80 billion cubic meters of natural gas worth $5 billion, Ukrainian Radio
reported on 10 January. Competition for the contracts had been going on for
several months, and involved politicians as well as businessmen. Previously,
the major distributor was the Ukrhazkonsortium, made up of six companies and
two banks. The Dnipropetrovsk gas system gave representatives from that region
a leading role in gas distribution. Under the new distribution scheme, several
other companies have emerged on the distribution arena, including Interhaz, the
Ukrainian Gas Company, and others. -- Ustina Markus
POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS, DISMISSALS IN BELARUS.
Lukashenka issued a decree dismissing Uladzimir Syanko from the post of foreign
minister, and appointing Ivan Antonovich in his place, international agencies
reported on 11 January. The same day, Lukashenka confirmed acting Defense
Minister Alyaksandr Chumakau in his post. Chumakau replaced Leanid Maltseu last
year after Maltseu was unceremoniously dismissed for appearing drunk at a
banquet. Lukashenka also appointed four members to the new 64-seat upper house
of parliament, the Council of the Republic. The four include former Supreme
Soviet Chairman Mikalai Dzemyantsei, who was removed from office for failing to
condone the putschists in August 1991; Uladzimir Karavai, former head of the
Belarusian Supreme Court during the Soviet era; Tamara Dudko, head of the
Belarusian Union of Women; and Mikalai Yaromeka, head of the Belarusian
Confederation of Creative Associations and Cultural Funds. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BUDGET.
The National Assembly passed the
draft state budget for 1997 on 11 January, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported.
The budget sets expenditures at 43.3 trillion Belarusian rubles (BR) and
revenues at 35.8 trillion BR. The deficit is equivalent to 3.3% of GDP. The
majority of the deficit will be covered by issues of government securities,
privatization of state property, and foreign loans. The rest of the deficit
will be covered with loans from the National Bank of Belarus. The budget was
described by deputies as "socially-oriented," with 55% of expenditures going to
the social and cultural spheres. Eight percent of the budget will be used to
deal with the ongoing consequences of the Chornobyl disaster. The agricultural
sector is to receive the lion's share of "social" expenditures, with over half
of all funds earmarked for that purpose going to support agriculture. -- Ustina
LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS LITHUANIA.
Andris Skele made an unofficial
one-day trip to Lithuania on 10 January to establish personal contacts with
Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and Seimas Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis,
Radio Lithuania reported. Their talks touched upon security issues, NATO and EU
enlargement, the implementation of the Baltic free trade agreement on farm
goods that came into effect at the beginning of 1997, and the planned Baltic
customs union. The leaders, however, did not discuss the most important dispute
between the two countries: the demarcation of the sea border. In 1995, Latvia
signed oil exploration agreements with U.S. and Swedish companies in an area
claimed by both countries, but no work can be carried out on the project until
the border dispute is settled. -- Saulius Girnius
RUSSIA WANTS TO BUY FORMER NAVAL BASE IN LATVIA.
The president of the
Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Arkadii Volskii, said on 10
January that Russia is continuing talks with Latvia on the purchase of the
former naval base at Liepaja, AFP reported the next day. Formerly the largest
Russian naval base on the Baltic Sea, it was abandoned in 1994 when Russian
troops withdrew from Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius
UNDP, FINLAND TO FINANCE ESTONIAN PASSPORT REGISTRATION.
Development Program and Finland agreed on 10 January to give about 11 million
krooni ($0.9 million) in aid to the Estonian Citizenship and Migration
Department to pay for the establishment of a central passport registry, ETA
reported. The program aims to supply all Estonian passports with a
machine-readable code and a registry for checking passport data. The registry,
which is expected to be ready by 1 May, is one of the main requirements Finland
had set for establishing visa-free travel between the two countries. -- Saulius
NEW PARTY CREATED IN POLAND.
The Conservative-People's Party
(SKL)--uniting the People's-Christian Party (SLCh) led by Artur Balazs and the
Conservative Party (PK) led by Aleksander Hall--was created on 12 January in
Warsaw. A group of politicians who recently left the Freedom Union (UW), led by
former ministers Jan Maria Rokita and Bronislaw Komorowski, have joined the new
political formation. Former Agriculture Minister Jacek Janiszewski, formerly
from the SLCh, became the SKL president, while Rokita and Miroslaw Styczen, who
was formerly from the PK, are his deputies, Komorowski is the SKL general
secretary, while Hall heads the SKL Political Council. The SKL wants to join
Solidarity Electoral Action (SAW), a large coalition led by the Solidarity
trade union. SAW leader Marian Krzaklewski and politicians linked to former
President Lech Walesa attended the unification congress as guests. -- Jakub
CZECH REPUBLIC, POLAND TO COORDINATE POLICIES.
Polish Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz ended a two-day official visit to Prague on 10 January,
Czech media reported. He and his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus, discussed
cooperation in a variety of fields and agreed to coordinate the two countries'
purchases of foreign military planes and other equipment. Cimoszewicz said that
within a few months--ahead of the EU's Madrid summit in July--the two countries
are planning to come up with a joint initiative concerning their admission to
NATO and the EU. -- Jiri Pehe
CHARTER 77 CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY.
Charter 77, the former
Czechoslovak dissident movement, on 10 January commemorated the 20th
anniversary of its founding with a series of events in Prague. Czech President
Vaclav Havel, one of the first three spokesmen of Charter 77, told a gathering
of former signatories that "the [Czech] state no longer denies human rights to
its citizens but human rights are still being occasionally violated." He called
for vigilance. Nobel Prize laureates and other important personalities
addressed a conference called "The Legacy of Charter 77" held the same day. --
SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER: NO CRISIS IN 1998.
Vladimir Meciar rejected the
possibility of a constitutional crisis following the expiration of President
Michal Kovac's term in office in 1998, saying the cabinet would assume some
presidential powers if no new president is elected, Slovak Radio reported on 10
January. He added if the current parliament is unable to agree on a new
president, the task will fall to the next parliament, scheduled to be elected
in 1998. Meciar said the next parliamentary election should be held in June
1998, three months after the end of Kovac's term. The Slovak Constitution
states that a president must be elected with the support of at least 90 of
parliament's 150 deputies. Meciar also rejected the current electoral system,
saying he would prefer either a majority system or a combination of majority
and proportional systems. -- Anna Siskova
HUNGARIAN CABINET CALLS ON BELGRADE TO RESPECT LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS.
The Hungarian government on 12 January expressed concern at recent developments
in Belgrade, Hungarian dailies reported. The government expects Serbian leaders
to find a democratic and peaceful resolution to the crisis over the recognition
of the opposition's local election victories. The cabinet also said that the
Serbian government should fully and unconditionally implement the OSCE's
recommendations. In other news, Sandor Lezsak, president of the Hungarian
Democratic Forum, addressed an opposition rally in Belgrade on 11 January.
Lezsak said the recent developments in Serbia and Bulgaria amount to a new
anti-Communist revolution. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
PROTESTS IN BULGARIA MOUNT ...
Demonstrations against the governing
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) continued over the weekend in Sofia, Bulgarian
and Western media reported. On 10 January, protesters blocked the parliament
building. Some stormed the building, causing 700 million leva ($1.1 million)
worth of damage and preventing more than 100 deputies -- mainly from the BSP --
from leaving. The parliamentary opposition had previously staged a walk-out
after the wording of its "Declaration on Bulgaria's Salvation" was rejected by
the Socialist majority. Riot police broke up the blockade. Around 100
protesters and police officers were injured. On 11 January, protests continued
on a smaller scale, but the largest demonstration so far was held in Sofia on
12 January. AFP estimated the number of protesters at 50,000, while RFE/RL put
it at 150,000-200,000. Protests are expected to continue. Meanwhile, the
Confederation of Labor Podkrepa called a nationwide strike on 15 January. --
... AS POLITICIANS WRANGLE OVER POSSIBLE SOLUTION.
Zhelyu Zhelev on 10 January said he will not give the BSP a mandate to form a
new government, saying the current political situation makes that impossible,
RFE/RL reported. The next day, he called for early parliamentary elections on
state TV. President-elect Petar Stoyanov and the BSP prime minister-designate,
Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev, met on 11 January and agreed that the
government and opposition should hold talks to resolve the crisis. Stoyanov
called for early elections. Meanwhile, the BSP insisted that Dobrev be given a
mandate to form a new government. BSP Chairman Georgi Parvanov on 12 January
said talks with the opposition on early elections can start anytime, but he
said he expects the BSP to stay in power for at least another year to
"stabilize" Bulgaria. Also on 12 January, parliamentary speaker Blagovest
Sendov -- elected on the BSP ticket -- said that early elections are necessary
in his "personal opinion." -- Stefan Krause
GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELGRADE.
Theodoros Pangalos held meetings on
12 January with both the Serbian authorities and leaders of the opposition
Zajedno coalition but failed to make any progress on a solution to the crisis
gripping the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), Radio B-92 reported. He did,
however, say that the Belgrade regime should recognize the opposition's 17
November victories in the local elections. Pangalos, who described Serbia as "a
loyal and real friend," also expressed concern that the FRY may be heading for
international isolation once again. Pangalos also met with the head of the
Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle. Meanwhile, mass demonstrations against the
regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic continued on 12 January despite
the continuing presence of heavily armed riot police. -- Stan Markotich
CONTACT GROUP WARNS SERBIA.
The five-member International Contact Group
met in Brussels on 11 January, but this time its attention was centered more on
Serbia than on Bosnia, international media reported. The session called for
greater democratization in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including
recognition of the 17 November local election results and promotion of
independent media. The representatives of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and
Russia nonetheless agreed not to pursue fresh sanctions against Belgrade. U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, however, said that Washington has a
program to increase pressure on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Nasa
Borba reported on 13 January. Measures include freezing bilateral economic
relations; maintaining international political pressure; and promoting
democracy and a civil society within Serbia, including human rights in Kosovo.
-- Patrick Moore
HIGH OFFICIAL SAYS SERBIAN ECONOMY TEETERING ON COLLAPSE.
the international High Representative to Bosnia, on 12 January said the Serbian
economy remains in tatters and is showing signs of further disintegration.
Bildt, speaking at an economic policy conference in Sarajevo, was joined by
other officials in warning the Bosnian Serbs that they also face the prospect
of near total economic ruin if they remain steadfast in their resolve to
maintain and solidify economic links with Belgrade. For his part, David Lipton,
assistant secretary of the U.S. treasury, told the gathering that "For those of
you representing [the Republika Srpska] -- if you maintain a link to the
economy of Serbia as your principle economic link-- you will inevitably follow
Serbia downwards through the economic valley, the valley of despair and
isolation," Reuters reported. -- Stan Markotich
BLUNT WORDS FOR BOSNIA.
Representatives of the international community
on 12 January said in Sarajevo that the Bosnians must get their government
functioning and start serious economic reforms or there will be no
international donors' conference in March. Envoys said that donors want proof
that the Bosnians have made real progress in, among other things, adopting laws
on a single central bank, a single currency, a 1997 budget, and servicing the
foreign debt, Reuters reported. The diplomats added that donors are interested
in helping to sustain long-term recovery but not in financing short-term aid
projects. Meanwhile, federal Agriculture Minister Ahmed Smajic told
Oslobodjenje that the economy is functioning at only 10 to 15% of its prewar
level. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIAN PRESIDENT REAPPEARS.
Franjo Tudjman was shown on state-run
television on 10 January for the first time since New Year's, news agencies
reported. He appeared thin but robust and looking fit. The failure of the
usually publicity-conscious leader to appear in public for several days led to
renewed speculation at home and abroad regarding his health, and some observers
suggested that he has only months to live (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9
January 1997). His own office had meanwhile added to the confusion by failing
to issue an unambiguous message that the president is indeed healthy and
instead put out statements that could be interpreted in different ways. But on
13 January the official media carried a new statement from his office, which
said that: "President Tudjman is pleased to inform the public that his recovery
is going well and that he is carrying out all his presidential duties. With the
will of the people and God, he will be able to continue carrying them on for a
long time." -- Patrick Moore
RE-ELECTED SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER ON POLITICAL FUTURE.
the leader of the center-left Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), said on 10
January that he would likely approach the conservative People's Party in his
search for allies in a new coalition government, STA reported. Drnovsek, who
has 15 days to unveil a new government lineup, was re-elected prime minister by
a margin of 46-44 votes on 9 January. The 10 November parliamentary elections
gave no single party a clear mandate. Meanwhile, police on 10 January opened an
inquiry into allegations that the LDS had attempted to "buy" opposition votes
for Drnovsek. Drnovsek on 10 January dubbed the allegations groundless. -- Stan
DID THE LIBERATION ARMY OF KOSOVO KILL THE FIRST ALBANIAN?
Sheholi, an ethnic Albanian member of the ruling Serbian Socialist Party (SPS),
was shot by unidentified assailants in Podujevo, Reuters reported on 10
January. Sheholi was a member of the local city council. No organization has
claimed responsibility for the killing, but the notorious Kosovo Liberation
Army, which has been accused of killing nine Serbs in 1996, threatened last
October to kill Albanian collaborators with the Serbian regime. -- Fabian
CONTROVERSIAL MINERS' LEADER ARRESTED IN ROMANIA.
Miron Cozma, the
leader of the miners' trade union in the Jiu Valley, was arrested on 10 January
at the Prosecutor General's Office in Bucharest, Romanian and Western media
reported. He was detained on a 30-day warrant on various charges, including
"undermining state authority" and breaking firearms regulations. Cozma, who led
thousands of miners in violent marches on Bucharest in 1990 and 1991, could
face up to 15 years in jail. The last miners' rampage, in September 1991,
forced Prime Minister Petre Roman to resign and left several people dead and
dozens injured. Former President Ion Iliescu, who has been accused of summoning
the miners to Bucharest, described Cozma's detention as politically motivated.
Incumbent President Emil Constantinescu, however, on 12 January rejected a plea
by miners' representatives to intervene on Cozma's behalf and said he would use
his powers to prevent violence. -- Dan Ionescu
DNIESTER PRESIDENT SWORN IN FOR SECOND TERM.
Igor Smirnov, the president
of the self-declared "Dniester Moldovan Republic," was inaugurated for a second
term on 10 January, BASA-press reported. Smirnov, who was congratulated by
Tiraspol officials and blessed by the local Orthodox bishop, stated at the
ceremony that the creation of the secessionist republic has made it more
difficult for "Romania to incorporate Moldova." He stressed that the future
relationship between Chisinau and Tiraspol should be based on treaties and that
Moldova should "view the Dniester region as a [separate] state." The special
session of the Supreme Soviet was attended by deputies of the Russian State
Duma. Smirnov was re-elected president with 71% of the votes on 22 December. --
ALBANIA PROTESTS EXPULSIONS FROM GREECE.
Albania has protested against
Greece's recent expulsions of Albanian emigrants. Hundreds of Albanians have
been deported from Greece in a crackdown on illegal immigration following a
series of burglaries in an Athens suburb that have been blamed on Albanian
crime rings, Reuters reported on 10 January. Police at the Kakavie border
checkpoint said the number of expelled Albanians has increased three-fold in
recent days, reaching up to 300 a day, with most of the deportees coming from
Athens. Greece has, however, pledged to issue working permits to most of the
estimated 350,000 illegal Albanian immigrants living in the country. -- Fabian