|We do not live an equal life, but one of contrast and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action. - Ralph Waldo Emerson|
No. 173, 09 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. The Presidium of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet and the Cabinet of Ministers announced on 8 September that they would run the country in the wake of President Rakhmon Nabiev's resignation the previous day, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported from Dushanbe. The Presidium and Cabinet appealed to the country's inhabitants to refrain from strikes and demonstrations for six months and not to indulge in displays of nationalism or local patriotism. Elections for a new legislature are scheduled for December; apparently there are no plans to try to assemble the deputies before the election. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIA WARNS AGAINST MOVES ON TAJIKISTAN. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky warned against outside interference in Tajik affairs. During his briefing on 8 September, Yastrzhembsky cautioned, "such a development would threaten the security not only of the Central Asian states but also of Russia . . . No interference in the internal affairs of Tajikistan . . .wherever it comes from and whatever its motive, can be justified." Yastrzhembsky also noted that Russian troops in the Kurgan-Tyube region, the locus of hostilities, were protecting 16,000 refugees, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, Reuters reported on 8 September. (Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL Inc.) ABKHAZ CEASE-FIRE VIOLATED At a session of the Georgian State Council on 8 September, Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze accused the Abkhaz leadership of gross violations of the cease-fire agreement reached in Moscow on 3 September, according to Interfax. Shevardnadze argued that the continued shooting demonstrates that the Abkhaz leadership has no control over its own armed forces--a charge that could equally be made against the Georgians. Interfax further reported that Abkhaz Parliament Chairman Vladislav Ardzinba has fired Abkhaz troop commander Colonel Viktor Kakalia, who on 6 September signed a protocol on implementing the cease-fire agreement, and appointed Vladimir Arshba in his place. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) KARABAKH CEASE-FIRE NEVER EXISTED. On 8 September, the second day of the fifth round of CSCE-sponsored preparatory Karabakh peace talks in Rome, Armenian and Azerbaijani delegates announced that the Kazakh-mediated ceasefire accord signed on 27 August applies only to unspecified "hot spots" along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and not to the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting continues unabated, Western agencies reported. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE EXPRESSES LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN KHASBULATOV. At a session of the presidium of the Russian parliament on 7 September, the head of the parliamentary committee on mass media, Vyacheslav Bragin, read the committee's statement expressing no confidence in the speaker of parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov. ITAR-TASS quoted the statement as accusing Khasbulatov of authoritarian methods of rule and of issuing resolutions that were in violation of existing Russian legislation. Members of the reformist factions in the parliament, "Radical Democrats" and "Reform," also called for Khasbulatov's ouster. At the same time, a hard-line pro-Communist faction "Russia," headed by Sergei Baburin, began a campaign to support Khasbulatov, an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow reported on 8 September. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) NATIONAL PATRIOTS DEMONSTRATE IN ST. PETERSBURG. "Social Security for Workers," was the slogan under which the extreme nationalist Russian Party held a meeting in St. Petersburg on 7 September, Ostankino TV reported. The meeting was permitted by the mayor's office. The demonstrators condemned Yeltsin's leadership as "criminal and Zionist." The demonstrators also demanded the release of the chief editor of the newspaper Narodnoe delo, who has been arrested and charged with the dissemination of anti-Semitic material. The "red-brown opposition" in Russia plans to hold mass demonstrations on 15 September. The protests will reportedly include the picketing of the St. Petersburg and Ostankino TV centers. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) ATTEMPT TO REVIVE CPSU AS MASS MOVEMENT. On 8 September, Pravda published a draft program aimed at reviving the Communist Party as a mass movement. The program said Communists should hold a conference in Moscow next month. The program also called for a "rebirth" of the Soviet Union and its return to socialist development. It said state socialism experienced "crisis" in the 1970s, but it blamed the "mistakes" and the "treason" of Mikhail Gorbachev and others for turning the USSR toward capitalism. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) EXPORT OF RUSSIAN OIL PRODUCTS HALTED. The major Russian exporter of petroleum products, Rosnefteprodukt, has suspended deliveries to Japan and Western Europe, Reuters reported on 8 September. An official of the company explained that this happens most years because of increased domestic demand during the harvesting campaign and because of the need to ship oil to the Far North before rivers froze. An aide to the Russian Energy Minister was quoted as saying that shipments of crude oil were continuing. Aleksandr Shokhin, the deputy prime minister for foreign economic relations, was quoted by the Financial Times of 9 September as saying that the government had "lost control" over state-owned oil exporters and wanted to recentralize purchases in order to meet obligations to foreign states. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIA TO TAKE ON DEBT FOR ASSETS. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin has announced that Russia has concluded bilateral agreements with Belarus, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan concerning the foreign debt of the USSR, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 September. No details were given, but in return for Russia assuming their share of debt liabilities, these nations have agreed to transfer or renounce claim on former Soviet assets, including embassies and gold reserves, according to the Financial Times on 9 September. Similar negotiations are currently underway between Russia and the other republics of the former Soviet Union. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN INFLATION DATA. The Russian government's statistical committee, Roskomstat, reported that consumer prices in Russia rose by 1,270% during the twelve months ending in June 1992, according to Interfax of 7 September. The rate of inflation has slowed, with prices rising by 13% in June and 7% in July. Several government officials have been openly critical about Roskomstat's data, and particularly those on inflation. It is said that many in the government prefer to use the inflation estimates published in Kommersant. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) WESTERN ASSISTANCE ON LEGISLATION AND MARKET SKILLS. A European Community task force on law reform in the Commonwealth of Independent States will shortly publish its recommendations for writing new legal and commercial codes, The Wall Street Journal reported on 8 September. The task force has found that CIS members have tended to adopt or copy foreign laws not on the basis of evaluation but have taken whatever was offered to them by foreign governments and international agencies. The result has been a hotchpotch of incompatible laws that do not interact with one another. A World Bank grant is to fund the preparation of textbooks and a program of training in market skills such as accounting and banking, The Financial Times reported on 9 September. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) GROUP PRESSES FOR SOCIAL PROTECTION OF SERVICEMEN. Leaders of the "Assambleya" association met with Ruslan Khasbulatov, the speaker of the Russian parliament, on 8 September. According to ITAR-TASS, Khasbulatov stressed that the parliament was sincerely concerned about the welfare of those in the Russian military. Speakers for the association told Khasbulatov that Russia lacked a consistent program for reforming its armed forces, as well as laws regulating the social status and rights of those serving in the military. Board Chairman Colonel Vasilii Sadovnik called for the establishment of a public-government center to monitor the development and implementation of social protection programs for servicemen. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.) JAPAN AGAINST CHINESE PURCHASE OF EX-SOVIET CARRIER. Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Koji Kakizawa on 7 September advised China not to buy an ex-Soviet aircraft carrier under construction in Ukraine. UPI quoted Kakizawa as warning that such a purchase would destabilize the Asia-Pacific region. There have been persistent rumors that China plans to buy the "Varyag," a sister ship of the Russian Navy's "Admiral Kuznetsov," that was being fitted out in a Ukrainian shipyard at Mykolaiv prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. The September edition of the "U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings" says that the deal has been finalized, and that Russia will provide twenty-two SU-27 fighters to equip the ship. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.) FOUR CIS STATES WANT TO DISCUSS BORDER ISSUES WITH CHINA. Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan agreed on 8 September to raise the issue of mutual troop reductions along their combined 8,000 kilometer border with China, as well as other border issues. ITAR-TASS, which announced the agreement, said that it was reached on the periphery of a meeting of CIS foreign ministers in Minsk. The Russian and Chinese defense ministers discussed troop pullbacks from their mutual border when they met in Moscow last month, but failed to agree on how far back the troops should be withdrawn. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.) KRAVCHUK CALLS FOR SPEEDY REFORMS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk called for speedy implementation of economic reforms and criticized political groups for engaging in polemics, Western news agencies reported on 8 September. Kravchuk addressed a group of cabinet ministers and other officials on the eve of the opening of a new parliamentary session, saying that the time for political rallies was over. At the same meeting, the new first deputy prime minister, Valentyn Symonenko, outlined a new economic program stressing "mass privatization." Symonenko argued that new legislation was needed for the program to be successful. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL Inc.) DISGRACED SHEVARDNADZE ASSOCIATE MAKES COMEBACK AS VICE PRESIDENT. Soliko Khabeishvili, the former Georgian Communist Party Central Committee secretary for industry, who was sentenced in the spring of 1987 to 15 years' deprivation of freedom for allegedly accepting 75,000 rubles in bribes from three raikom first secretaries, is now Georgia's vice president, according to Die Welt of 8 September. Khabeishvili has been a close associate of Shevardnadze since the late 1950s when both men were members of the Georgian Komsomol Central Committee apparatus. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) RISING TENSION IN UZBEKISTAN? On 8 September, Uzbekistan's former Vice-President Shukrullo Mirsaidov resigned his post as deputy chairman of the Uzbek parliament, warning in an open letter that "democracy and a policy of openness are being replaced by an authoritarian regime," AFP reported. During the summer there were a growing number of indications that President Karimov was cracking down on the opposition, possibly as a preventative measure against Tajik-style disturbances. Mirsaidov was forced out of the vice-presidency by Karimov after what was reported to have been differences over the pace of economic reform. Possibly the two men also disagreed over political reform. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) KARIMOV APPEALS TO UN ON CENTRAL ASIA. Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who fears that the unrest in Tajikistan will spill over into Uzbekistan, appealed to UN Secretary-General Butros-Ghali on 8 September, warning that Central Asia could become a hotbed of tension, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Karimov cited the heavy flow of arms from Afghanistan to Tajikistan and complained that external forces want to encourage political and interethnic strife in the region. Karimov has been so disturbed over events in Tajikistan that he has authorized the closing of the Uzbek-Tajik border. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) MOLDOVAN-BULGARIAN RELATIONS AND THE MINORITY ISSUE. Returning from an official visit to Bulgaria (see RFE/RL Daily Report, September 8, Eastern European section), Moldovan President Mircea Snegur cited Bulgarian President Zheliu Zhelev as expressing satisfaction that the provisions on Bulgarian minority rights in Moldova, which were included in the bilateral treaty just signed in Sofia, are based on Snegur's March 1992 decree guaranteeing the Bulgarian minority's rights. Snegur added that a similar document is being prepared with Ukraine, Moldovapres reported on 7 and 8 September. TASS reported from Sofia on 7 September that Snegur expressed appreciation for Bulgaria's cultural aid to ethnic Bulgarians in Moldova and that Zhelev praised "the Moldovan leadership's efforts to conserve and develop the ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and religious identity" of the Bulgarian minority. (Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc.) MOSCOW HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP REFUTES ATROCITY CHARGES AGAINST MOLDOVA. In a report issued after a recent fact-finding trip to Moldova, and made available to RFE/RL, a team of the Moscow-based human rights society Memorial refuted allegations that the Moldovan side had murdered and raped teenagers, and that they had dismantled or damaged industrial plants there during the fighting for that city in June. Those allegations have since been spread further by the mass media in Moscow. The team from Memorial found that the "Dniester republic" authorities, including the Bendery militia, had no evidence of such atrocities. (Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SCHEDULE SET FOR TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM LITHUANIA . . . On 8 September at the Kremlin, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his Lithuanian counterpart, Audrius Butkevicius, agreed upon a schedule that provides for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania to be completed by 31 August 1993, Radio Lithuania reports. Troops are to be gone from Vilnius by the end of November, 1992. Butkevicius told a press conference that there are 20,500 Russian troops in the republic. Two documents detailing housing, property, and social provisions for the withdrawing troops were also approved. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin also used the opportunity to sign a consular treaty. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.) . . . BUT LAST-MINUTE HITCH HALTS SIGNING. Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and Russian President Boris Yeltsin failed to sign the agreement when they met in Moscow on 8 September. ITAR-TASS quoted Vyacheslav Kostikov, a Yeltsin spokesman, as saying the agreement was held up for "technical reasons" rather than any last-minute political change of heart. The "technical reasons" were probably Landsbergis's comments to BNS that "unknown forces in the Russian Defense Ministry are trying to disrupt" the withdrawal signing after a scheduled meeting between Butkevicius and Grachev did not take place. Landsbergis later told a press conference that there are a number of technical details that Yeltsin would like changed, but the reworked agreement will be signed at his next scheduled meeting with Yeltsin on 1-2 October. (Doug Clarke & Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.) BALTIC FLEET TO LEAVE LATVIA BY END OF 1993? Radio Riga reported on 8 September that Vice Admiral Vladimir Egorov, commander of the Baltic Fleet, told Latvian officials that Russian naval facilities could be vacated and personnel could leave Latvia by the end of 1993. Eriks Tilgass, adviser on defense issues to Latvia's minister of state, said that the Russians specifically mentioned leaving the military harbor in Liepaja and the submarine training base in Bolderaja and their readiness to pull out troops. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc.) ALL OR NOTHING? Estonia's Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel has indicated that he may not be in favor of a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonian territory. According to a 6 September Svenska dagbladet interview with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Fedor Shelov-Kovedaev, when the two men met in May, Ruutel "reacted positively to the possibility that [Russia and Estonia] could use [the Paldiski naval base] jointly." On 7 September, Ruutel consulted by telephone with his Latvian counterpart Anatolijs Gorbunovs about recent reports that Gorbunovs might be willing to let Russia maintain some bases in Latvia after the main contingent leaves. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) UN PEACEKEEPERS KILLED. International media report on 8 September that two French peacekeepers were killed and at least two others wounded in an attack on a UN convoy by as yet unknown assailants. Bosnian Muslims and Serbs each accusing the other of the attack, which UN observers say was clearly deliberate. The 35-vehicle convoy originated in Belgrade and was delivering supplies to UN peacekeeping forces in Sarajevo. The attack occurred near Sarajevo's airport. Fighting throughout most of Bosnia-Herzegovina continues. Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen, cochairmen of the international peace conference on the former Yugoslavia are due in Zagreb today to start a three-day official visit which will also take them to Belgrade and Sarajevo. The envoys are seeking ways of resuming humanitarian aid flights and are expected to press for guarantees from the warring parties to stop the attacks on relief efforts. Sarajevo officials say that the city's food supply will run out on 10 September. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) RIFT AMONG BOSNIAN SERBS? Radios Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia report on 8 September that Bosnia's ministry of internal affairs has obtained evidence of a rift between Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army. The document charges that Karadzic is applying a double standard to the army: in the past month he has been praising the army and emphasizing its successes publicly, while privately working toward replacing Mladic and his inner circle. For their part the Bosnian Serb military leadership is unhappy with Karadzic's behavior and handling of policy, particularly over his handing control of Serb artillery over to UN forces, which Mladic feels is being done at an unsuitable time for the Serbian army. Mladic believes that the army now has no chance of holding its current positions and will suffer further setbacks, as in Gorazde. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) TENSE SITUATION IN THE SANDZAK. In a letter to the Geneva conference on the former Yugoslavia, the Muslim Council of the Sandzak says that about 70,000 Muslims have fled the region, allegedly because of "Serbian military terror." Council president Sulejman Ugljanin says that the Sandzak has been occupied by the Serbian and Montenegrin army, which deployed 29,000 reserve troops to the area between early February and June. According to Ugljanin, the terror the Muslims are subjected to and the display of military might and combat hardware have been stepped up since the London conference in late August and show no sign of abating. The letter states that 70 explosions have destroyed shops and properties owned by Muslims in the Montenegrin towns of Pljevlja, Bijelo Polje, and Priboj. The Sandzak is a region straddling the Serbia-Montenegro border. Radio Croatia carried the report on 8 September. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) VOJVODINA HUNGARIANS PROTEST RESETTLEMENT. Janos Vekas, vice president of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Vojvodina, said that by forcefully settling large numbers of Serbs in Vojvodina, Hungarian-Serbian relations could be spoiled for a long period of time. According to Vekas, each city in Vojvodina will have to make room for some 4,000 Serbs, and citizens will have to take in the refugees without compensation. The report was carried by Radio Budapest on 8 September. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc.) CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER ON FUTURE CZECH-SLOVAK RELATIONS. Speaking to reporters in Prague on 8 September, Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec said that the Czech Republic and Slovakia will exchange ambassadors early next year. He also said that the priorities of Czech foreign policy will remain the same as those of the Czechoslovak foreign policy but that the Czech Republic will wield less international influence and will scale down some of the foreign policy projects initiated by former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier. The Czech foreign minister further said that attaining membership of the European Community, NATO, and West European Union will be among the priorities. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.) KLAUS REJECTS CZECH-SLOVAK DEFENSE UNION. Speaking on Czech Radio on 8 September, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus ruled out the possibility that the Czech Republic and Slovakia could form a defense union or have a common army after 1 January 1993, when Czechoslovakia is to split into two independent states. Klaus said that there exists a strong army lobby in Czechoslovakia, consisting of generals and high officers who would like to preserve a federal arrangement for the army even after the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Klaus rejected such a scenario but said that, in physical terms, it may not be possible to separate the Czech and Slovak parts of the army completely before 1 January 1993. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.) INTERIM PRESIDENT FOR LATVIA? The Latvian Supreme Council has begun discussing a law establishing the office of an interim head of state for Latvia until the new parliament--Saeima--is elected. Though an election date has not been set and a new election law must be adopted, it is widely believed that the elections may take place next fall. The Saeima would be authorized to consider the issue of who should choose a president for Latvia. The Chairman of the Supreme Council is the highest ranking official in Latvia, but he is not officially the head of state, a lack that causes some diplomatic problems. The final vote on the draft law is expected on 15 September and it is likely that Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs will become the interim head of state of Latvia, Radio Riga and Diena report. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc.) POLISH GOVERNMENT FIRM ON STRIKES. Reviewing the strike scene on 8 September, the Polish cabinet restated its basic principles of action. In a statement issued after the meeting, the government reminded the public that Polish law does not permit the payment of wages for strike days; that strikers' pay demands cannot be addressed to the government, which is not a party to wage talks; and that the government will do everything in its power to ensure that no pay increases result from current strikes. Responding to the proliferation of strike "mediators," the government stressed that all official talks with unions must have the labor ministry's approval and that no agreements will be reached with parties or parliamentarians. Meanwhile, President Lech Walesa met with Maciej Jankowski, leader of Solidarity's radical Warsaw region, to discuss his idea of a "confederation of reformist forces." (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) ROMANIAN MINERS HOLD PROTEST RALLY. On 8 September some 1,500 miners from Cluj County took part in a protest rally in the city of Cluj. The rally, which was also attended by delegations from other regions, including Maramures, Moldova, and the Banat, demanded state subsidies for the mining industry, cash payments to compensate for recent subsidy cuts in prices for staples and services, and adequate social protection. Radio Bucharest quoted Eugen Tamas, president of the Federation of Romania's Mining Trade Unions, as saying that 90% of union members favor a strike if demands are not met by the authorities. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL Inc.) ESTONIA, LATVIA AGREE TO SETTLE ACCOUNTS. Estonia and Latvia agreed on 7 September to settle mutual outstanding bills by means of correspondence accounts in freely convertible currencies, BNS reports. According to the terms of the agreement, Latvia's correspondence account in Estonia will be figured in kroons, whereas Estonia's tally in Latvia will be in Deutsche marks. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) BANK OF ESTONIA WANTS PRICE FREEZE. Bank of Estonia president Siim Kallas on 8 September called for a price freeze in order to curb kroon inflation, BNS reports. Kallas told the Supreme Council in his report on the currency that the new Estonian kroon saw 24.3% and 17.6% inflation in July and August, respectively--higher than the 5% that IMF officials had predicted. Kallas also said there was no reason to regret the currency reform, and that the Bank of Estonia's hard currency reserves have increased by 225 million kroons since the 20 June reform. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) EBRD GRANTS BULGARIA TELECOMMUNICATIONS LOAN. On 8 September the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London released a statement saying that Bulgaria will receive credits worth $46 million to update its telecommunications system, Western agencies report. EBRD officials put the total costs of the project at $271 million and said that other financial institutions, such as the European Investment Bank and the World Bank, will provide the rest of the funding. (Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL Inc.) DEMOCRATIC FORUM DEPUTY ON HUNGER STRIKE. Miklos Reti, a deputy of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum went on a hunger strike on 8 September MTI reports. By his action Reti wants to secure the dismissals of Hungarian TV and Radio chiefs Elemer Hankiss and Csaba Gombar. Prime Minister Jozsef Antall has requested, without success, that President Arpad Goncz sign the dismissals of the two media chiefs. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc.) POLISH AUTO NEWS: FIAT PULLS BACK . . . On 8 September, Fiat demanded that Poland's strike-plagued FSM automaker make immediate repayment of a 1.5 trillion zloty ($100 million) loan granted to finance the production of Cinquecento cars. Fiat has a 90% stake in FSM, but the strike there has blocked the firm's final assumption of control. FSM officials said the plant cannot repay the loan. Fiat's move may be designed to put pressure on the strikers, who represent a minority of the work force. On 8 September, 15,000 nonstriking FSM employees presented Katowice authorities with a petition demanding that their right to work be respected. For their part, the strikers appealed to the six radical trade unions for money and asked yet another contingent of left-wing parliamentarians to intervene on their behalf. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) . . . WHILE GM PRESSES ON. General Motors announced on 8 September that it will speed up plans for the production of Opel Astras at the FSO auto plant in Zeran. Officials said that the first Polish Astras could roll off the assembly line in August 1993, six months ahead of schedule. GM initially proposed target production of 35,000 cars per year and pledged to invest $75 million in the plant, but officials indicated that the final agreement, to be signed in October, may scale down these plans. GM's Warsaw representative told Gazeta Wyborcza on 8 September that GM was observing the FSM strike carefully "but we are not discouraged by the difficulties that Fiat has experienced in Poland." (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) "KING OF ALL GYPSIES" CROWNED IN ROMANIA. Ion Cioaba, self-styled King of all Gypsies, was crowned on 8 September at the Bistrita Monastery in Oltenia. Radio Bucharest reports that thousands of Gypsies cheered as a priest laid a two-and-a-half-kg Swiss-made golden crown on his head. The 57-year-old Cioaba swore to fight to overturn centuries of contempt for Gypsies. Rival Gypsy groups that do not recognize Cioaba as a leader and accuse him of collaboration with Nicolae Ceausescu's regime protested the ceremony. According to the last census, taken in January, 410,000 Gypsies live in Romania, but Gypsy leaders maintain the figure is much higher. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL Inc.) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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