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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 11, 97-04-15

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 11, 15 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA REJECTS AZERBAIJAN'S CLAIM ON ZOD.
  • [02] BAKU COURT SENTENCES ISLAMISTS.
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN CENSORS CUT ARTICLE ON DETAINED FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER.
  • [04] NO TALKS BUT MORE DETENTIONS IN TAKJIKISTAN.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] OPERATION ALBA GETS UNDERWAY.
  • [06] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT TIGHTENS GRIP ON PARTY.
  • [07] ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER BACKS INTERVENTION FORCE.
  • [08] TUDJMAN'S PARTY STILL STRONGEST IN CROATIA.
  • [09] VOTING ENDS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
  • [10] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS SAY THEY ARE UNITED.
  • [11] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT BLASTS SECRET SERVICE.
  • [12] ROMANIAN SENATE APPROVES BANK PRIVATIZATION BILL.
  • [13] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADERS.
  • [14] BULGARIAN STATE OIL REFINERY TO BE PRIVATIZED.
  • [15] BULGARIAN ELECTION UPDATE.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA REJECTS AZERBAIJAN'S CLAIM ON ZOD.

    An Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman has rejected as "unfounded" an Azerbaijani claim that 70% of the Zod gold deposits, located close to Armenia's frontier with Azerbaijan, are on Azerbaijani territory and that Armenian exploitation of the deposits is therefore "illegal," Armenian agencies reported on 11 April. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov reportedly made the claim early last week, and an unidentified geologist quoted by Turan on 10 April backed his statement. The U.S.- Armenian joint venture Global Gold Armenia plans to double the annual output of the Zod and Meghradzor mines to 18 metric tons by 2000, which would make Armenia the world's 13th largest gold producer.

    [02] BAKU COURT SENTENCES ISLAMISTS.

    Following a seven-week trial, a Baku court yesterday sentenced four members of the banned Islamic Party of Azerbaijan to 10-11 years in prison on charges of treason. Public prosecutor Bahram Zahidov told Turan last week that the men have given written testimony that they collaborated with, and received funding from, Iranian intelligence "in the name of the victory of Islam in Azerbaijan." Reuters, however, quotes party leader Alikram Aliev as denying in court any involvement with the Iranian security services and claiming that the trial was "a provocation set up by the KGB." A fifth man received a two-year sentence for preparing false passports for the other accused.

    [03] AZERBAIJAN CENSORS CUT ARTICLE ON DETAINED FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER.

    Azerbaijani parliamentary chairman Murtuz Alesqerov has threatened to revoke the mandates of deputies who signed an appeal calling for the release of former Interior Minister Iskander Hamidov from solitary confinement. An article reporting that 20 deputies (both opposition and pro- government) have requested clemency for Hamidov because of his failing health was scheduled to appear in Zerkalo on 12 April but was cut by the censors, according to the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan. Hamidov, head of the nationalist Grey Wolves, was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment in 1995 for large-scale theft of state property. Although Zerkalo routinely appears with blank spaces where censors have cut material deemed inappropriate for publication, President Heidar Aliev continues to insist there is freedom of the press in Azerbaijan.

    [04] NO TALKS BUT MORE DETENTIONS IN TAKJIKISTAN.

    RFE/RL's Dushanbe bureau have confirmed that Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov spoke on the telephone yesterday with United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Abdullo Nuri. Rakhmonov told Nuri that the government is committed to negotiations with the UTO, but he admitted that eight of its members are being detained in Moscow in connection with terrorist attacks on Russian servicemen in Tajikistan. Last week, peace talks in Tehran broke up following reports of their detention. Meanwhile, two members of the opposition were detained in southern Tajikistan on the weekend, and another two were taken into custody in the Faizabad region sometime last week.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] OPERATION ALBA GETS UNDERWAY.

    The deployment of an Italian-led multinational force in Albania began today at dawn. A French naval ship arrived in the western port city of Durres, and its marine commandos secured the port. More troops and a shipment of 400 tons of food aid are also due today in Durres. Meanwhile, the first of six Italian military aircraft carrying paratroopers has landed at Tirana's airport. An advance unit of about 100 Italian troops arrived in Albania on Friday. The total force will number about 6,000 and will seek to secure aid deliveries.

    [06] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT TIGHTENS GRIP ON PARTY.

    At a meeting of the National Council of President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party late Sunday, the majority firmly rebuffed 13 dissidents who had challenged his control over the party. The council also sacked three leading dissidents from the party presidency: former Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni and former Deputy Prime Ministers Dashamir Shehi and Bashkim Kopliku. Berisha's position was further strengthened by the naming of his closest aide, Genc Pollo, as secretary-general of the party.

    [07] ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER BACKS INTERVENTION FORCE.

    Fatos Nano says the Italian-led mission is necessary to stabilize Albania. Nano was speaking to RFE/RL's Russian Service by telephone yesterday. He said the multinational force has his full backing and that political trends in the country are moving against President Sali Berisha, whom he blames for much of the current crisis. Nano was prime minister in one of the post- communist transition governments in 1991 but until recently was imprisoned for embezzlement. His backers and many foreign human rights organizations say the charges against him were politically motivated.

    [08] TUDJMAN'S PARTY STILL STRONGEST IN CROATIA.

    Unofficial results of Croatia's local and parliamentary elections on 13 April show voters endorsed the status quo, with the largest group backing the nationalist Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) of President Franjo Tudjman. The unofficial results, obtained by an RFE/RL correspondent in Zagreb, show the HDZ has increased its majority in the upper house of parliament. They also show that Tudjman's party has a slight lead in elections for the crucial Zagreb City Council, controlling 24 out of 50 seats. The opposition has won other key cities, such as Rijeka, Osijek, Split, and Dubrovnik.

    [09] VOTING ENDS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.

    UN spokesmen, U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, and local Serb leader Vojislav Stanimirovic all said in Vukovar on Monday that the vote in eastern Slavonia was largely free and fair. UN officials nonetheless blasted Croatian authorities for not delivering enough ballot papers and for irregularities in the voting lists. Polls closed early yesterday evening after a second day of voting in Croatia's last Serb-held area. First results in the vote for local and county offices are due later today. The Serbs put forward a united slate, but the Croatian vote is likely to be split between several parties.

    [10] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS SAY THEY ARE UNITED.

    Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic, and Vesna Pesic of the Zajedno coalition say the "crisis of confidence" is now behind them and that they will stick to cooperation agreements they signed earlier, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade. The three leaders met yesterday in the Serbian capital to discuss their differences, which recently became public. Djindjic had objected to Draskovic's decision to run as a joint presidential candidate in the Serbian parliamentary and presidential elections due by the end of the year.

    [11] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT BLASTS SECRET SERVICE.

    Speaking in Podgorica yesterday, Momir Bulatovic attacked the State Security Service (SDB) and called for an urgent session of the parliament to look into what he called its "violations of human rights and citizens' freedoms." An RFE/RL correspondent in Podgorica says this is the latest episode in the dispute between Bulatovic and some members of his party and of the government over ties to President Slobodan Milosevic. Bulatovic recently tried unsuccessfully to sack three ministers, including SDB chief Vukasin Maras.

    [12] ROMANIAN SENATE APPROVES BANK PRIVATIZATION BILL.

    The Senate yesterday approved the bill on the privatization of banks, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. The bill, which will now be debated by the Chamber of Deputies, frees three-quarters of the banking system from state control. Ninety percent of the shares of each bank to be privatized will be offered for sale to Romanian or foreign investors, and the remaining 10% will be retained by the State Property Fund. Only leading international banks and financial institutions will be allowed to acquire more than 20% of the shares in a single bank. The bank privatization bill is one of the major pieces of legislation stipulated by the IMF and the World Bank as a condition for loans.

    [13] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADERS.

    At his own request, Emil Constantinescu yesterday met with parliamentary opposition leaders to discuss laws aimed at promoting economic reforms and ways to prevent social unrest after the passage of the legislation, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. At the meeting, the opposition protested what it called the government's "political cleansing" policies in the public economic sector. Neither Ion Iliescu, former president and leader of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, nor Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the Greater Romania Party (PRM), attended the meeting, opting instead to send their deputies. Iliescu said he will participate in such discussions only if his party is invited to a separate meeting with Constantinescu or if all parliamentary parties are present. Tudor, a former Ceausescu "court poet," is currently in Libya attending a poetry festival.

    [14] BULGARIAN STATE OIL REFINERY TO BE PRIVATIZED.

    The Bulgarian caretaker government yesterday approved a Privatization Agency proposal to sell up to 75% of the Neftochim oil refinery, located in the Black Sea port city of Burgas. RFE/RL's correspondent in Sofia reported that the only known bidder for the state-owned refinery to date is the Russian company Rossinvestneft. Neftochim's assets are estimated to be worth more than $9 million, but the company has debts totaling nearly $6 million. Meanwhile, caretaker premier Stefan Sofiyanski has left for Moscow to resume talks on the construction of transit pipelines on Bulgarian territory and Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 and 11 April 1997).

    [15] BULGARIAN ELECTION UPDATE.

    Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), yesterday canceled an election rally in the DPS stronghold of Kardzhali. The move was in protest against police raids the same day on properties belonging to Elzhan Rashid, one of the country's wealthiest ethnic Turk businessmen, RFE/RL’s local corespondent reported. Police seized firearms, counterfeit foreign currency, and a substance believed to be heroin. Rashid himself was beaten after he put up resistance. Dogan denounced the police action as a “provocation against ethnic peace” aimed at discrediting ethnic Turk businessmen on the eve of the 19 April parliamentary elections. Dogan said many corrupt businessmen in Kardzhali were protected by groups close to the United Democratic Forces and the Socialists.

    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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