Heavy Fighting In Bosnia As Peace Talks Start in Geneva

HEAVY fighting was reported in Sarajevo and elsewhere in Bosnia July 27 as international mediators in Geneva prepared to launch nonstop negotiations to end the war.

Bosnian radio said Serb forces besieging the Bosnian capital since the war started 15 months ago were pounding Zuc hill and Mount Igman with artillery. The hills are the only remaining high points overlooking Sarajevo still in the hands of Bosnian Army troops defending the city.

Fighting was also reported in Brcko as Serbs battled to widen a key supply corridor in northern Bosnia linking Serbia proper with Serb-held territories in northwest Bosnia and Croatia. And in central Bosnia, Croatian radio reported Muslim forces had broken through Bosnian Croat defense lines at the strategic settlement of Banovo Brdo.

In Geneva, mediator Lord David Owen said he did not expect dramatic breakthroughs in talks, adding: "I think it will take time." Yeltsin hit on ruble plan

Russian President Boris Yeltsin faced biting criticism July 27 over the government's chaotic reform of the ruble, as people clogged banks to exchange worthless bank notes.

Mr. Yeltsin's political rival, parliament Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, sought to capitalize on anger over the Central Bank's invalidation of old ruble notes. He told regional economic managers on July 27 the entire measure should be repealed, after demanding a day earlier that it be revised.

Yeltsin watered down the order July 26 by raising the limit on cash exchanges to 100,000 rubles, removing all limits on exchange of 10,000-ruble notes, and extending the deadline for exchanges to Aug. 31.

Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told the Associated Press that Yeltsin knew about the surprise step "in general terms" before it was announced July 24. He defended the decision to withdraw all pre-1993 rubles, saying it was done to make other former Soviet republics decide whether they still wanted to use the currency. Nine other republics use the ruble and Russia has complained this makes it impossible to direct monetary policy.

The Central Bank formally is under control of the hard-line Supreme Soviet legislature and the Cabinet. The measure touched off a political storm against Yeltsin and the Cabinet.

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