|Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill|
No. 148, 5 August 1994
RUSSIA SITUATION IN CHECHNYA. Defying Moscow's pressure to step down, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev told Reuters and AFP on 4 August that he was planning to fly to Moscow to meet members of the opposition to President Yeltsin. Chechen Foreign Minister Shamsedin Yous said that Dudaev intended to meet a leader of the Russian National Assembly, former KGB general Aleksandr Sterligov. (The Assembly is an ultra-nationalist group.) Earlier this year, Sterligov visited Chechnya, where he and Dudaev's followers set up a Russian-Chechen association with the aim of recreating the USSR. The Chechen Information Ministry told ITAR-TASS that Dudaev's plane has been waiting for two days at a local airport ready to take off. Dudaev has so far been refused permission to enter Russian air space. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said that Dudaev should step down to avoid dragging his republic into war, AFP reported on 4 August. Moscow is now supporting the recently created Chechen Provisional Council, which demands Dudaev's ouster. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. MMM PRESIDENT DETAINED. On 4 August Russian TV reported that Sergei Mavrodi, the president of the ill-fated MMM investment firm, was detained under Article 162 part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code for evading paying taxes, according to Evgenii Lisov, the Moscow deputy prosecutor in charge of the case. This article provides the punishment of up to 5 years of imprisonment. Fiscal policemen and OMON riot police were forced to enter Mavrodi's apartment on ropes via a window because he refused to open the door to the tax inspectors. Also on 4 August, Mark Goryachev, formerly a prominent St. Petersburg businessmen, now a deputy of the State Duma, told Ostankino TV that the MMM scandal was caused by a conspiracy by the Russian Ministry of Finances against the independent entrepreneur. All that day Russian-language broadcasting media aired MMM shareholders' rallies, shouting "Hands off Mavrodi." Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. SWEDEN PROTESTS RUSSIA'S SPYING TACTICS. Swedish Foreign Ministry officials stated on 4 August that Stockholm had denied a Russian military attach~ diplomatic status in protest over Moscow's intelligence activities directed against the country. Dagens nyheter of 5 August says the protest was made public at a news conference devoted to the circumstances surrounding the voluntary return of Stig Bergling, a Swedish double-agent who was arrested in 1979, but managed to escape from prison in 1987; Bergling, who received a life sentence for having handed over much of the country's defense plans to the USSR, had arrived on the previous day. Also addressing the journalists, Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt cited Bergling as confirming that Soviet intelligence agencies had helped organize his escape, made him an agent of the Soviet military intelligence (GRU) in Budapest in 1988, and later dispatched him to Lebanon. Complaining about Moscow's continued denial of all facts in the case, Bildt said the incident "shows that the structures and thinking of the previous era still survive in Russia." Officials added that the government's protest note had urged that "Russian activity in Sweden be more civilized," Reuters reported. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN LEADERS ON SITUATION IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA, BOSNIA. On 4 August Reuters reported that UN Security Council President Yulii Vorontsov fully supported Belgrade's announcement on 4 August amounting to the promise that rump Yugoslavia will cut all political and economic ties to the Bosnian Serbs for their continued rejection of the international community's latest peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vorontsov dubbed Belgrade's decision "very, very important" and suggested that it could amount to a potential "turning point" for the peace process there. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported the same day that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin mildly rebuked the Bosnian Serb leadership for its decision to hold a referendum on the question of whether or not to accept the terms and conditions of the latest peace plan. Churkin stressed that it was unrealistic to believe that a meaningful referendum result could be obtained while a war was in progress, and urged the self-styled Bosnian Serb authorities to simply opt for peace. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin, speaking to Interfax, echoed Churkin's words and sentiments. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. FSK DENIES THEFT OF WEAPON-GRADE PLUTONIUM. The Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) denied categorically that the weapon-grade plutonium confiscated last month in Germany by local security authorities had a "Russian origin", reported ITAR-TASS on 3 August. According to FSK spokesman Vladimir Tomarovsky, his service had not recorded even a "single case" of any leak of nuclear materials suitable for manufacturing weapons. Tomarovsky also said that the statements made by the Western politicians and scientists on the case are "absolutely groundless and cannot be proved". He, however, admitted, that a potential problem exists in principle. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. RESTRICTIONS ON VIOLENCE AND SEX VIDEO PRODUCTION, SUPPORT FOR DOMESTIC FILMS. The Russian General Procuracy and the Ministry of Culture have drafted an amendment to the Law On Mass Media which restricts "propaganda of violence and superfluous erotic" in visual and printing mass media, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 August. The amendment includes provisions for creating a national committee for evaluating foreign video and printing production. The Russian government also issued a decree on state support for domestic cinema and video production that guarantees state funding for at least 50 full format films made by the domestic cinematography industry. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. CHOLERA IN RUSSIA. On 4 August Russian Deputy Minister of Health Konstantin Agapov released figures on the cholera epidemic in Daghestan--208 people sick, 130 more infected, and ten dead. More than 500 were hospitalized with the aim to prevent the spread of the epidemic. On the eve of Agapov's news conference, Russian TV news released cholera figures for Moscow--nine people sick and three dead. According to Agapov, not all of the Muscovites were infected with cholera from Daghestan for some of them had been infected while in Rwanda. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CHOLERA SPREADING FROM DAGHESTAN TO AZERBAIJAN. The cholera outbreak in Daghestan has spread to Azerbaijan, according to ITAR-TASS of 4 August. Three people in the Baku industrial satellite of Sumgait, including a woman who recently returned from visiting Daghestan, had been diagnosed as suffering from cholera. The Azerbaijani authorities have imposed a number of emergency measures including a ban on bathing in the Caspian and on the sale of soft drinks. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. AZERBAIJAN OIL INDUSTRY WORKERS ON STRIKE. On 28 July, workers at the Gyuneshli oil field--the larger of the two Caspian offshore deposits that are to be exploited jointly by the Azerbaijan State Oil Company, Russia's Lukoil, and a consortium of Western oil companies--called a strike to demand that their wages be increased by 100% to 200,000 rubles per month (100,000 Azerbaijan manats), ITAR-TASS reported on 4 August. Azerbaijan's Prime Minister Suret Huseinov met with the strikers on 4 August to discuss their demands, which also include indexing their wages in the case of non-payment, the reinstatement of free meals, and the allocation of a share in the consortium's hard currency earnings for workers' social needs. If these demands are not met, the workers threaten to close Gyuneshli's 138 wells as of 7 August--a move that would accelerate the decline in oil production. (See RFE/RL Daily Report, no. 147 of 4 August). Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS RUSSIA'S 14TH ARMY BEING RESTRUCTURED. Moldovan government officials told the RFE/RL Research Institute that Col.-General Eduard Vorobev, First Deputy Chief of Staff of Russia's Land Forces, told 14th Army officers in meetings on 3 and 4 August in Tiraspol that the Army is about to be restructured. The Military Council and certain other command structures would be dissolved, some personnel would be demobilized, and the reduced force would become an "operational group" of the 59th motor-rifle division. Ordered by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, the restructuring is to be completed by 1 September. The division's commander, Maj.-General Yurii Popov, has been appointed interim commander of the entire force in place of Lt.-General Aleksandr Lebed. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. LEBED ON WAY OUT. Replying separately to questions from an RFE/RL correspondent and from AP, spokesmen for the command of Russia's Land Forces and Defense Ministry on 4 August denied reports or plans to "dismiss" Lebed. From Tiraspol, Vorobev told Interfax that the idea of "dismissing" Lebed was "sheer stupidity"; but "neither has he been offered a new job." Officers of the 14th Army's headquarters, including anti-crime crusader and Tiraspol city commandant Mikhail Bergman, told Basapress on 3 and 4 August that the forced departure of Lebed meant that Moscow was siding with the "Dniester republic" leadership, whom Lebed had denounced as corrupt and extremist. Igor Smirnov and other "Dniester" leaders had recently visited Russia's Defense Ministry and security bodies, reportedly to demand Lebed's removal. On 4 August Lebed himself, on leave in Moscow, told ITAR-TASS that should he be transferred from his command, he would leave the armed forces altogether. All indications seem to be that the Defense Ministry, while trying to avoid the political risks of being seen as dismissing Lebed, is setting the stage for Lebed to leave voluntarily. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. LEBED CONSIDERS PRESIDENTIAL RUN. Basapress reported on 26 July from Tiraspol that Lebed had phoned his Army's headquarters that day from Moscow to say that he was prepared to run in the next elections for President of the Russian Federation. The story is corroborated by Moskovskii Komsomolets whose issue of 4 August reports that Lebed has been discussing this possibility both with the Ministry of Defense and with opposition circles. Lebed's sights were also set on the post of Defense Minister, after military polls had shown Lebed a distant favorite of the officer corps for that post. Noting the recent visits to Moscow by "Dniester" president and KGB chief, Igor Smirnov and Vadim Shevtsov, to obtain the removal of Lebed, Moskovskii Komsomolets concluded that "Russia evidently needs the marionette Dniester leaders . . . Moscow has openly sided with the Dniester leadership against Lebed." Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. 28,000 RUSSIAN TROOPS TO MAN BAIKONUR. A minimum of 28,000 Russian troops are needed to maintain the Baikonur space station in Kazakhstan according to the director of the Russian space agency, Yurii Koptev, as quoted by Interfax on 4 August. Under the existing plans for reducing the Russian armed forces, the Russian Defence Ministry will pay for the stationing of 12,000 servicemen in Baikonur; the Russian space agency will finance an additional 16,000 troops. Four years ago there were 70,000 troops including military construction workers based at Baikonur; Koptev argued that a further reduction in troop levels would lead to "irreversible collapse." Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE "SERBIAN LEADER CUTS SUPPORT FOR PROXY WARRIORS IN BOSNIA." This is how the 5 August Los Angeles Times reports a hard-hitting statement the previous day from President Slobodan Milosevic and Belgrade's announcement that rump Yugoslavia is closing its border to the Bosnian Serbs and breaking political and economic ties with them. Milosevic stressed that his differences are not with the Bosnian Serb people, whom he suggested are victims of "the mad political ambitions and greed of their leadership." Instead, he singled out those leaders, without mentioning any specific names, as "war profiteers . . . and people whose conscience is not clear, who are afraid of peace, in the event of which all their wrongdoings would come to light . . . Countless times so far they gave us reason to cut off all relations with them because they didn't keep a single promise . . . " The Tanjug report also quoted Milosevic as accusing the Pale leadership of turning down an opportunity to acquire internationally guaranteed borders and in the process of bringing down more sanctions on rump Yugoslavia. He called this "cruel arrogance toward the interests of the vast majority of the Serbian people. . . . " Milosevic has used harsh words before on former allies in Serbia or Krajina once they have outlived their political usefulness to him. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOW WAITS FOR DEEDS. Overnight press reports suggest that the border has indeed been closed, and Borba on 5 August reports that the hard-line Bosnian Serb Vice President Biljana Plavsic was turned back at Zvornik. At the UN, Russian Ambassador Yuli Vorotnsov called Milosevic's statement a "turning point," and Belgrade's representative Dragomir Djokic called the measures "proof" of his government's good intentions. But US and German spokesmen were skeptical, and RFE/RL's South Slavic Language Service on 4 August quoted White House Spokesperson Dee Dee Myers as saying that more evidence is needed of Belgrade's sincerity. Shipments of food and medicine will still be allowed, and careful monitoring is expected in order to make sure that only such humanitarian goods are indeed crossing the border, especially when the initial media attention ends. The 5 August New York Times quotes a Western diplomat in Belgrade as saying that "there is no [concrete] evidence whatsoever to believe that Milosevic" has become a peace-maker, adding: "let Milosevic give diplomatic recognition to Bosnia-Herzegovina; let him agree to put international monitors on the border crossings leading into [that republic] from Serbia." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. PRESSURE GROWING TO LIFT ARMS EMBARGO AGAINST MUSLIMS? The 5 August Los Angeles Times quotes White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta as saying that "the United States might decide to defy a UN embargo and arm the Bosnian government if the Bosnian Serbs persist in refusing to accept the peace settlement." Reuters the previous day reported that the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, meeting in Geneva, called on the Security Council to confirm that the embargo does not apply to the Sarajevo government. If no confirmation appears, the OIC states "may come to the conclusion that they can provide the means of self-defense to the Bosnian government under the UN charter." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. TIME RUNNING OUT FOR FIKRET ABDIC. International media reported on 4 August that the besieged town of Pecigrad has fallen to Bosnian government troops. Captured were 500 of the best soldiers fighting for local kingpin Abdic, who has been opposing Sarajevo government forces with Serb backing. The fate of 2,000 civilians in the town remains unclear, as Abdic's men refused earlier UN offers to evacuate them. The tycoon popularly known as "Babo," or "Daddy," is being increasingly forced back onto his stronghold of Velika Kladusa, the home of his original Agrokomerc business empire that collapsed a decade ago. Elsewhere, Globus on 29 July reported on the sweatshop conditions in which many Bosnian refugees, especially children, work in Istanbul. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. KINKEL CALLS FOR THE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF CROATIA. On 3 August the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ran an interview with the German foreign minister on EU policy toward Croatia during the German presidency. Kinkel outlined a comprehensive agenda that includes reintegrating conquered Serb territories into Croatia with respect for Serb minority rights but also with the right of Croat refugees to return home. He stressed that "on the Serbian side Belgrade still bears the greatest responsibility for peacefully resolving the 'Krajina' question." Meanwhile in Zagreb, Globus today reports that it has proof that the ruling party is responsible once again for fostering the splintering of an opposition party, this time of the Croatian Peasant Party. Finally, Vecernji list reported on 4 August that Pope John Paul II will indeed visit Zagreb on 11 September to mark the 900th anniversary of the bishopric there. It will be the first papal visit to the Croatian capital and the second in history--the last was in 1177--to what is now Croatian territory by a reigning pontiff. Pope John Paul had to cancel earlier plans to link the trip with a visit to Belgrade, and his hopes to go to Sarajevo as well are also in doubt. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIAN OPPOSITION CRITICIZES MILOSEVIC LETTER. On 4 August the Serbian press reports on domestic opposition reactions to the Serbian government's strategy of seemingly attempting to coerce the Bosnian Serbs into accepting the latest international peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the main, opposition response has tended to be critical of Belgrade, and centers on the contention that Milosevic is passing "falsehoods" and deceptions to the Bosnian Serbs in a bid to dupe them into adopting the peace. Borba notes that one Democratic Party of Serbia official has dubbed the governing Socialist Party of Serbia's actions a boon for the international community, saying "the 'Contact Group' has gained a very important and influential member. That member is named Slobodan Milosevic." Predictably, ultra-nationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj has emerged the most critical of Belgrade, observing that Milosevic has done more than engage in dubious ploys, having crossed the boundary of acceptable politicking into the realm of treason. Seselj observes "Slobodan Milosevic is the greatest betrayer of the Serbian people." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIAN POLICE INVOLVED IN DRUG TRADE? In an interview with the Albanian service of Deutsche Welle, Serbian police inspector Dragan Mladenovic accused leading Serbian police officials of involvement in the drug and arms trade, Rilindja reported on 3 August. According to Mladenovic, deputy minister Radomir Stojcic organized a drug deal worth some $4 million. The drugs were allegedly delivered via the Albanian port of Durres, and paid for with counterfeit money. In Kosovo, some Albanians were arrested for alleged involvement in the scheme. Mladenovic said he was banished to Kosovo by his superiors "because of inconsistencies with their methods," adding that "all those are sent to Kosovo who don't agree with the illegal work that Stojcic leads. In Kosovo it was planned to kill me," Mladenovic said, claiming that the minister is well connected with the ethnic Albanian chief of the police station in Kijevo or Klina. Murders have been committed by civil policemen, as it was the case last year in Glogovac. Mladenovic also accused Stojcic of being involved in prostitution and traffic in human beings. So far there has been no independent confirmation of the charges. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. LEADING POLISH MANAGER DISMISSED. The firing of the chairman of Poland's third largest firm--the "Ciech" foreign trade giant--has raised a storm of debate over the ruling coalition's seeming determination to politicize leading economic posts. On 2 August, Foreign Trade Minister Leslaw Podkanski used the state's 51% share in Ciech to force out Marian Malecki, the firm's legendary chairman. The other shareholders, 64 chemical firms and refineries, objected to Malecki's removal, arguing that he had been the key to the firm's success. Ciech recorded a net profit of 431 billion zloty ($20 million) in 1993, and results for the first half of 1994 were even better. Podkanski argued, however, that the move was vital to protect the firm's economic health. Polish TV showed a crowd of cheering employees and shareholders as Malecki left the 2 August meeting. Rumors that Malecki's ouster was imminent had circulated for weeks, along with speculation that the maneuvering reflected the determination of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) to put its people in control of key posts. A first attempt to remove Malecki on 14 July failed when shareholders staged a walkout. Podkanski apparently plans to replace Malecki with a PSL figure. Polityka reviews the background in its 6 August issue. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW CONFLICT IN POLISH COALITION. Among those voicing public criticism of Podkanski's move was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko. Kolodko represents the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) in the cabinet, Podkanski and Pawlak, the PSL. On 3 August, Kolodko told a radio interview that he objects to the manner in which the dismissal was enacted, and does not rule out the possibility that Malecki deserved firing. He argued, however, that industrial "professionals" need stability in order to do their work. "It's not enough to have 51%; you also have to have a good reason," Kolodko was quoted as saying. The finance minister indicated that he had requested clarification from both Podkanski and Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak. Rzeczpospolita on 4 August interpreted Kolodko's objection as a defense of his own prerogatives in setting economic policy, rather than a protest against the politicization of economic posts. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. PAWLAK QUESTIONS MASS PRIVATIZATION. Although Kolodko has repeatedly asserted his primacy in economic decision-making, and has seemed to enjoy the prime minister's assent, the PSL's repeated successes in thwarting the government's line have raised doubts. Kolodko at times seems more of an alibi for the coalition than its helmsman. Pawlak's foot-dragging on the mass privatization program is only the latest example. The last group of 105 firms slated for inclusion has been awaiting the prime minister's go-ahead since May. The first two groups were approved by Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka in 1993. In July, Pawlak unexpectedly demanded additional data on the financial condition of the 105 firms, hinting that the program was not really ready to start. At a meeting with PSL representatives in Olsztyn on 29 July, Pawlak also complained that Polish capital has a majority stake in only one of the 15 investment funds chosen to manage the firms. Because mass privatization is mandated by a 1993 law, Pawlak's calls for new "thorough analysis" before proceeding are puzzling. The prime minister also disavowed plans by the SLD-controlled privatization ministry to sell parts of the tobacco industry. Pawlak said that Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek "talks too much about privatization," PAP reported on 29 July. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SECOND WAVE OF SLOVAK COUPON PRIVATIZATION TO BEGIN. On 4 August Gabriel Palacka, state secretary of the Privatization Ministry, announced that all conditions needed to begin the second wave of coupon privatization have been met, and registration will begin on 5 September, TASR reported. A total of 96 projects with a value of 12 billion koruny will be offered. Palacka noted that some ministries were reluctant to offer more property and that a total value of 100 billion koruny could have been offered. One voucher booklet will cost 1,000 koruny, or 700 koruny for citizens over 60. Also on 4 August it was announced that the signatures of 33 parliamentary deputies have been collected, and an extraordinary session of parliament will be held on 10 August to deal with a bill requiring Slovaks who are participating in the privatization process to disclose the source of their funds. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK COURTS OVERLOADED. According to Slovak Justice Minister Milan Hanzel, approximately 486,000 cases were waiting to be heard in Slovak courts at the end of 1993, and an additional 363,739 new cases were filed in the first half of 1994, TASR reported on 3 August. A total of 346,441 cases were handled in the first six months of this year by less than 1,000 judges, meaning that each judge handled an average of nearly 350 cases. Hanzel said it seems that "all of Slovakia is suing," and noted that the courts are loaded with politically motivated suits which "lack convincing evidence." Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT PASSES ECONOMIC MEASURES PACKAGE. The Hungarian government on 4 August approved a comprehensive economic measures package which , however, does not follow part of the latest recommendations of the International Monetary Fund, MTI and Radio Budapest announced. In an attempt to remedy the current grave economic situation, broad corrective measures affecting the budget, the reform of state enterprises, price, monetary and income policy, and the tax collection system will be introduced aimed at holding back domestic consumption and raising savings and investments. The Balance of Payments deficit is not to exceed 4% of the GDP or $1.5 billion and state sector savings must be increased by $250$300 million. The current state budget deficit must be reduced to 3% of the GDP and must not exceed the planned 330 billion forint and 450500 million in 1995. Pensions are to raised by 8% on 1 September and the increase cannot be less than 800 forint ($8) and more than 2,400 forint of the total monthly pension. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN CURRENCY DEVALUED. In agreement with the Hungarian National Bank the government on 4 August devalued the forint by 8% vis-~-vis convertible currencies, effective 5 August, MTI reported. The move was needed because of the deterioration of Hungary's current Balance of Payments to slow down the country's indebtedness and make its exports more competitive. The devaluation, the largest in more than three years and the fifth this year, means that the forint has lost 13.8% of its value since 1 January 1994. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN MINERS' STRIKE INTO NINTH DAY. A Romanian court of justice refused on 4 August to declare the strike of the coal miners illegal and union leaders vowed to continue all action until all the miners' demands are met, an RFE/RL correspondent, Radio Bucharest and Western media reported. In talks with Minister of Industries Dumitru Popescu in Targu Jiu the miners' demand that the director general of the company be dismissed was accepted. However, the two sides could not agree on the wage demands. Popescu told Radio Bucharest that the government is offering a 20% increase in salaries, while the miners demand 100%. Agreement on the bonus paid on Miners' Day could not be reached either. A delegation of the coal miners traveled on 4 August to Deva, to continue negotiations there with Popescu. The minister went to Deva to negotiate with the striking copper miners. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN POLICE SEIZE ENRICHED URANIUM. Romanian police said on 4 August that they have seized three kilograms of enriched uranium which was illegally imported into the country from Ukraine, Rompres said on the same day. A parcel containing what was described as 583 tablets of enriched uranium was brought into Romania by a private firm at the Sighetul Maramatiei border crossing. Rompres said police kept track of the uranium and seized it near Timisoara. Five people involved in the shipment were arrested. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN POLICE CRACK DOWN ON ORGANIZED CRIME. Bulgarian dailies report on 5 July of a massive police action carried out on the previous day against organized, and especially, gang crime in several towns. The police made simultaneous sweeps of certain districts in the towns of Pazardzhik, Velingrad and Peshtera, and say they arrested members of four gangs suspected of murder and armed robbery. Others were apprehended for illegal possession of arms, drug-dealing, and theft. 24 Chasa reports that hundreds of police officers and members of the Central Service for the Struggle against Organized Crime made a thorough sweep of Pazardzhik's Gypsy district. Over the past year the police and judiciary have increasingly been criticized for not doing enough to stem the growth of crime. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. SECOND OF "TIRASPOL SIX" RELEASED. Valeriu Garbuz became on 25 July the second of the "Tiraspol Six" to be released from detention, Basapress reported on 4 August. Garbuz, the only one who had pleaded guilty and served as prosecution witness at the 1993 show trial of the six, has been pardoned four years before the expiry of his term by the "Dniester Republic Supreme Soviet" in response to his application. The remaining four in detention have long been informally offered pardons if they apply to the same authority, but they have refused to recognize an unlawful body. The case has prompted widespread international intercession. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN DENOUNCES LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. On 4 August Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a statement denouncing the Latvian citizenship law, passed on 22 July, Western agencies report. Yeltsin stated that ignoring most of the recommendations made by the CSCE, Council of Europe, and European Union (EU), Latvia decided "to divide residents of the country into first and second classes, legitimizing ethnic discrimination" and was drifting into "militant nationalism." Yeltsin said that the Russian government would take "practical steps," including a review of its trade and economic ties with Latvia. The Latvian Foreign Ministry replied that it was baffled by Yeltsin's criticism, because Latvia had consulted with the CSCE and the EU before adopting the citizenship law, which in the end eliminated a quota system for citizenship through naturalization. The Ministry said that Yeltsin's accusations were not true and that he had an "inadequate understanding" of international standards of ethnic minority rights. The EU on 29 July 1994 had, in fact, praised Latvia on its passage of the citizenship bill. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. STRUCTURE OF NEW BELARUSIAN CABINET. The head of the Belarusian presidential administration, Leanid Sinitsyn, has announced the structure of the new cabinet of ministers, Belarusian radio reported on 4 August. The cabinet will be composed of 25 ministers and the head of the KGB. Almost all of the management within these governing bodies will be cut. The ministers will be directly accountable for their work to the prime minister and the management of the ministries will only be composed of economic and legal experts who will be responsible for insuring that the president's orders are implemented. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIMEAN NEWS. The Crimean minister of economics, Andrii Chernyavsky, told Krymskaya pravda that the peninsula is becoming more dependent on Ukraine in its trade, Ukrainian television reported on 3 August. He said that 80% of Crimea's manufactures are sold to Ukraine, while trade with Russia has been decreasing. In other news, UNIAN reported that Crimea's union of independent journalists published a complaint that the peninsula's government obstructs the free press, thus threatening Crimea with "totalitarianism." The complaint was prompted by the Crimean parliament's decision to shut down the radio and television company "Krym" and create a council to deal with matters concerning radio and television broadcasts, which the head of the union, Lilya Vudzhurova, says effectively establishes censorship. On 4 August Reuters reported that the Crimean parliament voted 62 to 3 in favor of formally requesting that the Ukrainian government change the country's constitution to allow dual citizenship for the peninsula. Ukraine's new president, Leonid Kuchma, has reportedly said he is opposed to dual citizenship for Crimea. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. INDEPENDENT ALBANIAN PAPER CLOSED. The main independent Albanian newspaper, Koha Jone (Our Time), closed on 27 July, Dita reported the next day. Koha Jone was the first post-communist impartial paper in Albania. It started as a semiweekly, and later expanded to become the country's first daily with 16 pages. The reasons for the closing are not yet completely clear, but Dita suggests there were financial problems. Koha Jone recently had difficulties meeting payments to its printers, and a Dita correspondent found the door of the paper's office sealed. Dita said that another reason for the debts were high taxes, adding that pro-government papers get support from state institutions or foundations, as does Lajmi i Dites. This paper of the Albanian broadcasting agency got about $25,000 support from the International Media Center. Dita called this an "economic war by the state," adding that the independent media in Albania are endangered by such practices. Meanwhile, six Albanian newspapers went on strike to protest higher postage costs and certain taxes. According to Rilindja of 3 August, several newspapers are threatened with bankruptcy as a result of the higher fees. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIAN AIRLINES HALTS FLIGHTS. According to agency reports, Albanian Airlines, Albania's only airline, halted services. A first hint at the impending break-up of the Albanian Airlines, the country's sole joint-venture company, had appeared in Gazeta Shqiptare on 24 July. According to that report, the foreign partner (Tyrolian Airlines) intended to suspend the airlines' regular flights as of 31 July. The shutting down of the company amount to a serious economic blow to Albania. Albanian Airlines had been set up August 1992 and reportedly did a good business in travel. The joint venture used non-Albanian pilots and flew small turbojet machines. The Austrian partner gave as a reason for its withdrawal tax disagreements with the Albanian government and the company's deficit. Albanian Airlines (70 employees) maintained flight connections with Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and early this year added to its flight schedule Istanbul, Skopje and Bologna. The same daily reported that the Albanian government which is the owner of 50% of the company, is now seeking a domestic company to form a joint venture with some other foreign partner such as Lufthansa, Alitalia, or Austrian Airlines. Louis Zanga, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Saulius Girnius and Dan Ionescu RFE/RL RESEARCH INSTITUTE TO CLOSE; NEW INSTITUTE FOUNDED The RFE/RL Research Institute will close at the end of 1994. A new research institute, to be based in Prague in the Czech Republic, will begin operations in October 1994. This new research organization, the Open Media Research Institute (OMRI), is the result of a unique initiative involving the United States Board for International Broadcasting (Radio Free Europe/Radio Libertys government oversight and funding agency) and the Open Society Institute (a Soros Foundation). It will publish a weekly analytic journal and a daily digest of events in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and selected other countries; provide current analyses and information to RFE/RL broadcasters and others; and undertake, as custodian, the preservation and automation of the RFE/RL archives to make them more accessible to the scholarly community. It will engage in training and other activities in support of democracy and independent media throughout Eastern Europe and the territory of the former Soviet Union. The closure of the RFE/RL Research Institute is part of the reordering of American national priorities after the end of the Cold War. It is a result of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, which mandated a consolidation of all US-funded international broadcasting activities, a drastic reduction in the RFE/RL budget, and the privatization of some RFE/RL operations, including those of the Research Institute. In response to the new law, the Board for International Broadcasting and the Board of Directors of RFE/RL Inc. directed the closure of the Research Institute by 31 December 1994. The institutes weekly RFE/RL Research Report and the RFE/RL Research Bulletin will cease to be published at the end of August 1994. RFE/RL intends to continue publication of the RFE/RL Daily Report until such time as OMRI can begin its daily digest. The RFE/RL Research Institute was established in late 1990, incorporating and building on the operations of several RFE and RL research units. The institutes publications have included the RFE/RL Research Report, the RFE/RL Research Bulletin, the RFE/RL Daily Report, and the RFE/RL Research Studies series. In addition, the institute has issued monitoring bulletins of Eastern broadcasts and the press. It has conducted opinion and audience research in the region, and its extensive press and samizdat archives have been available to scholars. The RFE/RL Research Institutes purpose has been to strengthen the broadcasting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and contribute to an informed understanding by governments, scholars, journalists, and others of the complicated postcommunist transition in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. We are grateful to our many readers and other friends of the RFE/RL Research Institute and its precursors for their interest, encouragement, and support over many years. KevinKlose, President, RFE/RL Inc. A. Ross Johnson, Director, RFE/RL Research Institute 1 August 1994 The RFE/RL DAILY REPORT, produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division, is available through electronic mail by subscribing to RFERL-L at LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU. This report is also available by postal mail, as are the other publications of the Institute, and by fax. RFE/RL NEWS BRIEFS, an edited compendium of items first published in the Daily Report, is distributed along with the RFE/RL RESEARCH REPORT, a weekly journal providing topical analyses of political, economic and security developments throughout the Institute's area of interest. Longer analyses are available in a monograph series, RFE/RL STUDIES, and brief analytic summaries appear monthly in the RESEARCH BULLETIN. Requests for permission to reprint or retransmit this material should be addressed to PD@RFERL.ORG and will generally be granted on the condition that the material is clearly attributed to the RFE/RL DAILY REPORT. Inquiries about specific news items or subscriptions to RFE/RL publications should be directed as follows (please include your full postal address when inquiring about subscriptions): In North America: Mr. Brian Reed RFE/RL, Inc. 1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6907 Fax: (202) 457-6992 or 828-8783 Internet: RI-DC@RFERL.ORG Elsewhere: Ms. Helga Hofer Publications Department RFE/RL Research Institute Oettingenstrasse 67 80538 Munich Germany Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2632 Fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648 Internet: PD@RFERL.ORG Copyright 1994, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
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