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News Briefs I

Agent Says CIA-Backed Rebels Shipped Crack to U.S.

Los Angeles Times

A former federal drug agent said Monday that while stationed in El Salvador in the mid-1980s he came across evidence that members of the CIA-backed rebel forces in Nicaragua were smuggling cocaine into the United States for profit.

Celerino Castillo III, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, said at a news conference he sent reports to his agency about Contra drug flights in 1985 and 1986, but that those reports were buried by the DEA.

The House Intelligence Committee and the CIA's inspector general have begun inquiries into recent newspaper reports that such flights were part of a drug pipeline from Colombian drug cartels to black neighborhoods in Southern California. In a series of stories last month, the San Jose Mercury News said cocaine was distributed through a San Francisco drug ring, with proceeds supporting Contra forces at war with Nicaragua's left-wing Sandinista government.

CIA director John M. Deutch wrote Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), earlier this month that an internal inquiry several years ago showed "the agency neither participated in nor condoned drug trafficking by Contra forces." But Deutch said the inspector general would open a new investigation into the charges.

Armenia's President Declares Victory in Controversial Vote

Special to the Los Angeles Times
YEREVAN, Armenia

Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan declared victory in his bid for another five-year term Monday, riding rough over large opposition protests and observers' complaints of irregularities in Sunday's election.

"It's a brilliant victory," Ter-Petrosyan declared in a rambling speech televised to his supporters.

Official but incomplete returns gave the incumbent 57 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Vazgen Manukyan, his former prime minister and nearest rival. It appeared that two-thirds of the votes had been counted by Monday night but officials could not say for sure.

Manukyan claimed widespread fraud and declared himself the winner with as much as 60 percent of the vote. "Our country has many faults. But we will fight to the end," he told one of a series of rallies that ended with a march to Parliament by 30,000 people chanting "President Manukyan!" The crowd generally was calm but some demonstrators tore down Ter-Petrosyan campaign posters.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored the election, is expected to declare Tuesday whether it was free and fair.

Yeltsin's Health Renews Struggle

The Washington Post

President Boris Yeltsin's heart illness, which his doctors have revealed to be a more serious condition than was previously known, has fueled a fresh and increasingly intense struggle among leading politicians who would like to succeed him.

Although Yeltsin may survive bypass surgery and return as the vigorous leader who danced and rallied his way through last year's presidential campaign, his rivals have begun behaving as if his days in power are numbered. They seem to be preparing for a re-run of the leadership struggle that was seemingly settled only two and a half months ago, when Yeltsin won a second four-year term.

The Russian constitution provides for a new election within three months if the president suffers a "sustained inability due to health to discharge his powers."

Zyuganov told Reuters Monday that hiding Yeltsin's condition days before the vote "amounts to falsification. The elections were not fair." Asked if he wanted Yeltsin to resign, Zyuganov said, "Yes."

Yegor Gaidar, the reformist economist who served as prime minister under Yeltsin, said Monday that Yeltsin's illness "adds an unpleasant element of uncertainty to the current political and economic situation."