RUSSIAN COMMANDER KILLED AS ONSLAUGHT ON GROZNY CONTINUES.
meeting of the Russian Security Council on 6 January, President Boris Yeltsin
received no clear answer to his question of why the military had not complied
with his order on 4 January to halt the bombing of Grozny; nor did the Security
Council act on Yeltsin's proposal to set a firm date for the cessation of
military activities, Western media reported. ITAR-TASS and Ekho Moskvy quoted
human rights activist Sergei Kovalev, who met with Yeltsin on 6 January, as
stating that Yeltsin had told him it was "too early" to stop the fighting in
time for the Russian Orthodox Christmas festivities on 7 January. The Russian
military bombardment of Grozny continued from 6-8 January; on 7 January, the
Russian general commanding the Interior troops contingent, Major-General Viktor
Vorobev, was killed by an exploding mortar shell as Russian forces tried to
advance on the presidential palace. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIANS REPORT CASUALTY FIGURES.
Russian military officials on 6 and 7
January released casualty figures from the fighting in Chechnya. As reported by
Interfax, the military said 116 members of the ground forces, 100 paratroopers,
and 41 Interior Ministry troops had been killed. Moscow News as cited by
The Washington Post on 8 January gave a figure of 1,800 Russians killed.
Groups opposing the military intervention suggested that the Russian losses
were far heavier. Moreover, the official figures would not have included all
the casualties from the heavy fighting on 7 and 8 January. Ekho Moskvy on 8
January carried a report from the Chechen defense headquarters claiming that
100 Russians had been killed on 7 January in an unsuccessful effort to storm
the presidential palace in Grozny. A correspondent for Mayak Radio reported the
next day that the Chechens had captured 113 Russian soldiers in Grozny over the
weekend--many of them drunk--while Interfax reported that a unit of Russian
paratroopers had been captured that day near a village 30 kilometers southwest
of Grozny. In a 7 January ITAR-TASS report, the Russians claimed to have killed
some 2,500 "militants" and to have destroyed 26 tanks, 40 other armored
vehicles and more than 150 aircraft--most of them L-29 and L-39 jet trainers.
-- Doug Clarke and Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
ANOTHER NUCLEAR SCARE IN CHECHNYA.
In a statement read on NTV on 7
January, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov said that air
reconnaissance had located four missile silos near the Chechen village of
Bamut. He said he doubted any missiles were still there but would give a
definite answer once he had all the facts. In September 1994, Chechen military
officials had claimed that there were 24 nuclear warheads at a secret base in
Bamut to which they might gain access. The Russian Defense Ministry denied the
claim at the time. On 8 January, Colonel General Viktor Yesin, the chief of
staff of the Strategic Missile Forces, explained that there had been an R-12
(SS-4) intermediate-range nuclear missile base--consisting of four silos--near
Bamut in the 1970s, part of a division based at Ordzhonikidze (now Vladikavkaz)
in neighboring North Ossetia. As reported by ITAR-TASS, Yesin said the base had
been abandoned in 1980, and its weapons and equipment destroyed under the terms
of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. While Yesin's explanation is
plausible, the INF treaty was not signed until December 1987, and it contains
no reference to the units or locations he described. The only nuclear weapons
known to have been in the region in recent years were at the strategic airbase
at Mozdok, also in North Ossetia. In the START-1 treaty, the Russians said that
22 Bear-H bombers equipped with long-range nuclear missiles were based in
Mozdok. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
In a letter sent to President Yeltsin on 6
January, US President Bill Clinton reaffirmed his concern over the high number
of civilian casualties in Chechnya and again called on Yeltsin to resolve the
crisis through dialogue, Reuters reported on 6 January. Speaking to a German
radio station on 7 January, Chancellor Helmut Kohl described civilian
sufferings in Chechnya as "sheer madness" but rejected as counterproductive the
suggestion voiced on 6 January by French Defense Minister Francois Leotard and
Danish Prime Minister Poul Rasmussen that economic sanctions be imposed on
Russia in retaliation for human rights violations in Chechnya. German Foreign
Minister Klaus Kinkel said Yeltsin needs to bring the military back under his
control and begin negotiations on a peaceful solution of the conflict that
would include an acceptable degree of autonomy for Chechnya. Danish Defense
Minister Hans Haekkerup stated on 7 January that his country has suspended
until further notice an agreement concluded in September 1994 on military
cooperation with Russia, Western agencies reported. Russia has postponed
indefinitely joint German-Russian military exercises scheduled to take place
near St. Petersburg in summer 1995, according to German Defense Minister Volker
Ruehe as quoted in Der Spiegel. The German news agency dpa noted that
this would have been the first time Bundeswehr soldiers held exercises on
Russian soil. Ruehe and Grachev signed a military cooperation agreement in
Moscow in April 1993. Also on 7 January, AFP reported that on 2 January Libya
had called for the convening of an emergency meeting of foreign ministers of
the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) member states to discuss the
Chechen crisis. -- Liz Fuller and Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
Six members of the Russia's Choice faction called for the
Duma to meet on 11 January to consider a report on human rights in Chechnya and
legislative initiatives to amend the constitution, Interfax reported on 6
January. State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said the amendments would deal with
strengthening parliamentary control over the executive branch. The session will
also discuss draft laws proposed by Russia's Choice forcing the government to
publish a list of those killed and wounded in the combat zone and prohibiting
the financing of military operations within Russia. Rybkin also said that
Yeltsin will enlarge the Security Council to include the leaders of both houses
of the parliament, who will have a "decisive vote." The Democratic Party of
Russia also plans to raise the issue of a no-confidence vote in the government
at the session. Sergei Glazyev, leader of the party and chairman of the State
Duma Committee on Economic Policy, said that events in Chechnya confirm that
"the government cannot resolve a single key problem." According to Interfax,
Glazyev claimed that if the Duma had supported the party's October
no-confidence proposal, the Chechen conflict would have been resolved
differently. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
KOVALEV MEETS YELTSIN, AMBASSADORS.
Russian Human Rights Commissioner
Sergei Kovalev met with Yeltsin on 6 January but failed to persuade him to stop
the fighting. Kovalev told a news conference later that day that Yeltsin denied
having poor knowledge of the real situation in Chechnya but then contradicted
himself, trying to persuade Kovalev that there were no bombings in Grozny after
Yeltsin's address to the nation on 27 December. Kovalev, who was monitoring
human rights inside Grozny from 14 December to 5 January, told Yeltsin that he
witnessed the bombings himself. Later on 6 January, Kovalev met behind close
doors with the ambassadors of ten democracies to discuss with them the Chechen
situation. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
OLEG POPTSOV SURVIVES AS RUSSIAN TV CHAIRMAN.
In an interview with
Russian Television on 7 January, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai
confirmed that the "problem" of the RTV chairman, Oleg Poptsov, was indeed
raised at the session of the Russian Security Council the day before. According
to Shakhrai, participants persuaded Yeltsin to refrain from firing Poptsov
because, as Shakhrai put it, it would be counterproductive to punish the media
for the poor performance of the military. At a news conference held later on 6
January, Sergei Kovalev quoted Yeltsin as saying at their meeting earlier that
day that he (Yeltsin) had signed a decree, relieving Poptsov from his duties as
RTV chairman because, in his view, "Vesti's" coverage of the Chechen crisis
"distorted the positions of both sides in the conflict." Kovalev's news
conference was followed by a meeting of all RTV employees, who unanimously
voted for a resolution reaffirming their confidence in Poptsov. RTV was founded
in 1990. After Yeltsin was elected speaker of the Russian parliament, the RTV
played a key role in his rise to president, serving as Yeltsin's mouthpiece
during his power struggle against former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and
during his later conflict with the parliament. Poptsov, its first chairman, was
elected rather than appointed to the office. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
FOUNDING CONGRESS OF YAVLINSKY'S PARTY.
The founding congress of a new
political party based on the Yabloko faction in the Russian parliament opened
on 6 January in the village of Golitsino near Moscow, an RFE/RL corespondent
reported later that day. The leader of the new party, economist Grigorii
Yavlinsky, is widely regarded to be a front-running democratic candidate in the
next presidential election, scheduled for June 1996. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI,
CENTRAL BANK HIKES KEY RATE TO SUPPORT RUBLE.
In an attempt to defend
the ruble and calm inflation, Russia's Central Bank raised its key refinancing
rate from 180% to 200% on 6 January, according to Russian and Western agencies
on 6-8 January. The ruble lost another 44 points in the 6 January trading
session on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange (MICEX), closing at 3,667
rubles to $1. Tatiana Paramonova, the Central Bank's acting head, ordered the
rate increase and considered the move crucial in order for rates to remain
above inflation and prevent extensive borrowing that would result in even
higher prices. Aleksander Pochinok, deputy chairman of the Budget Committee in
the State Duma, reported that the Central Bank was "reacting to a rise in money
supply . . . which might have been caused by the excess volume of the Central
Bank's loans, massive growth of speculative incomes of commercial banks, or
unexpected growth in budget expenditures." Many experts have said that
inflation has also spiraled as a result of the Chechnya military campaign,
which is placing a heavy burden on the economy. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
NEW TURKMEN FOREIGN MINISTER APPOINTED.
On 6 January Turkmen President
Sapurmurad Niyazov appointed Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shikhmuradov as
foreign minister, Interfax reported on 7 January. Shikhmuradov, who is 42 years
old, studied journalism at Moscow State University; from 1971-92 he worked at
the Novosti press agency and then in the USSR Foreign Ministry. He returned to
Turkmenistan in May 1992 as deputy foreign minister; in January 1993, he was
appointed deputy premier responsible for foreign, defense, national security,
and internal affairs. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS' MANDATE IN ABKHAZIA TO BE EXTENDED?
chairman of the Russian Federation Council, Ramazan Abdulatipov, met in Sukhumi
on 6 January with Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba and with the commander of
the Russian peacekeeping force in Abkhazia, Lieutenant-General Vassilii
Yakushev, Interfax reported on 6 January. Abdulatipov said that on 16-17
January, the Federation Council would debate the renewal, for an unspecified
period, of the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping forces sent to Abkhazia last
June for an initial period of six months. While conceding that they had played
a positive role in stabilizing the situation, Abdulatipov said that Russia "had
undertaken a burden that was too heavy" and that no country or international
organization could simultaneously wage an internal conflict and conduct five or
six peacekeeping operations. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
BLACK SEA FLEET DEVELOPMENTS.
Vice Admiral Vladimir Bezkorovainy, the
commander of the Ukrainian Navy, has expressed concern over what he believes
might be a Russian effort to circumvent agreed provisions of the joint talks on
the division of the Black Sea Fleet. As reported by ITAR-TASS on 6 January, the
two sides agreed that a naval base at Balaklava would be used by the Ukrainian
Navy. This base was once the main submarine base of the Black Sea Fleet.
However, rather than dealing with the Ukrainians, the Russian commander of the
fleet--Admiral Eduard Baltin--has sent all documents concerning the turnover of
this base to the Sevastopol city council. In letters to the chairmen of the
Sevastopol and Balaklava councils, Bezkorovainy charged that Baltin's action
was unlawful and a provocation. He reportedly warned the Balaklava authorities
against taking any ill-considered steps. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
DISCHARGED RUSSIAN SERVICEMEN IN LATVIA.
At an extraordinary meeting on
5 January, the Latvian government decided to issue temporary residence permits,
valid until 1 May, to Russian servicemen who were discharged in Latvia after 28
January 1992, Interfax reported on 6 January. They were required to leave the
country before 31 August 1994 but were allowed to stay until 1 January due to
the housing shortage in Russia. The government's decision requires these
servicemen to register with the citizenship office before 15 February. If
Russia does not give the Latvian Foreign Ministry a full list of these people
by that date and a schedule for their departure, Latvia is threatening to expel
them. Latvian officials are calculating the costs of the servicemen's extended
stay and the Foreign Ministry is likely to demand compensation from Russia. --
Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
RESIGNATION OF ESTONIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER?
Viktor Niitsoo, the head of
the Estonian National Independence Party parliamentary faction, said that
Transport and Communications Minister Andi Meister should resign because he
quit the ENIP on 20 December and decided to run in the May parliamentary
elections as a candidate in the rightist coalition, BNS reported on 6 January.
Niitsoo noted that the transport minister's portfolio belongs to the ENIP and
thus it would be unethical of Meister to keep it after leaving the party.
Meister said that his position as minister should be decided by the government
and Prime Minister Andres Tarand. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH COALITION PARTNER SUGGESTS CABINET RESHUFFLE NECESSARY.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, leader of the Democratic Alliance of the Left, told
private Radio Zet on 6 January that some changes in the cabinet were perhaps
needed to make the current government more effective and to replace "weaker
elements," international agencies report. Kwasniewski heads the senior partner
in the governing coalition. While throwing his support behind Prime Minister
Waldemar Pawlak, Kwasniewski noted that the premier had not consulted the
Democratic Alliance of the Left before stating publicly that Foreign Minister
Andrzej Olechowski was doing a poor job (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5
January 1995). He also commented that such charges were unjust. "The case of
the foreign minister shows that we are being surprised by some decisions and,
what is more, by misguided decisions," Kwasniewski told Radio Zet. President
Lech Walesa made it clear last week that he wanted Pawlak replaced as prime
minister, possibly by Kwasniewski. Walesa and Pawlak have recently been trading
swipes over such issues as ministers, taxes, and the extent of their powers
under Poland's interim constitution. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH BISHOPS REJECT JOINT AUSCHWITZ STATEMENT WITH GERMANS.
Roman Catholic bishops on 6 January refused to issue a joint statement with
their German counterparts marking the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the
concentration camp at Auschwitz, Polish and international agencies report.
Bishop Stanislaw Gadecki said the decision not to issue the statement was taken
after "stormy debate." He added "there was a desire to avoid the impression
that Poles and Germans were jointly responsible for Auschwitz," noting that in
the past Western media have suggested that Polish anti-Semitism played an
important role in the Nazis' decision to build concentration camps in Poland.
Gadecki also commented that a joint statement by the Polish and German bishops
would have led to the conclusion that the Churches were "primarily responsible
for the misfortune met by Jews." Gazeta Wyborcza on 6 January regretted
the decision and commented that a joint statement would have helped clear up
any misunderstandings about the Churches' wartime role. Polish President Lech
Walesa will preside over a ceremony at Auschwitz on 27 January commemorating
the camp's liberation. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN BELARUS.
Aleksei Bolshakov arrived in
Minsk on 6 January to finish drafting a memorandum on expanding
Russian-Belarusian cooperation and developing economic, political and military
links, Belarusian media reported. Eleven documents are ready for signing, but
problems remain in resolving a customs union and in organizing financial bodies
for trade. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
DEMOCRATIC BLOC "UKRAINA" AGAINST SIGNING RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY.
Following a meeting of "Ukraina," the democratic union which includes the
Christian Democratic Party and the Green Party, parliamentary deputy Dmytro
Pavlychko issued a statement regarding its stand on the Russian-Ukrainian
friendship treaty, Ukrainian television reported on 8 January. According to
Pavlychko, "Ukrainia" is opposed to the signing of the treaty, saying it
threatens Ukraine's sovereignty. He also said that he was informed that the
Russians wanted to include a clause on dual citizenship, to which Ukraine is
opposed, and that the Russian side is not respecting Ukraine's territorial
integrity. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
INFLATION DROPS TO 28% IN DECEMBER, UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS.
Masol, citing preliminary statistics, said Ukraine's monthly inflation dropped
to around 28% in December from last year's high, 72.3% in November,
Interfax-Ukraine reported on 6 January. Inflation jumped drastically in late
1994, from 2.6% in August and 7.3% in September, after parliament ordered the
government to print 70 trillion unbacked Ukrainian karbovantsi in cheap credits
for the agricultural sector, Viktor Yushchenko, chairman of Ukraine's National
Bank, said in an interview with UNIAR News on 8 January. While the premier
expressed hopes that monthly inflation will not rise above 20% in the first
quarter of 1995, Yushchenko believed tight fiscal policy measures and planned
market reforms in the farm sector can reduce inflation further. -- Chrystyna
Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
POLL REVEALS MOST CRIMEANS BELIEVE MAFIA IS IN CHARGE.
A recent public
opinion poll by the Crimean Center for Humanitarian Studies found that 58% of
Crimea's residents believe the peninsula is run by the mafia, Interfax reported
on 4 January. Of the 1,500 or so respondents, 21% found it difficult to give an
opinion on the issue, 10% think Crimea is controlled by the local parliament,
5% said the Ukrainian central government is in charge, while 2% thought Crimean
President Yurii Meshkov and Prime Minister Anatoli Franchuk are in control.
Only 1% think political power in the autonomous republic resides with the
people, while the same number believe it lies with the Crimean security
service. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK CABINET ASKS UNIONS FOR SUPPORT.
The Slovak cabinet met with
representatives of the Confederation of Slovak Trade Unions on 6 January in an
effort to gain support for its program manifesto. According to a Narodna
obroda report the following day, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said one of
the main controversies concerned wages. Noting that inflation will occur if
wage increases are not matched by increases in labor productivity, Meciar said
his government favors wages regulated by GDP growth rather than by increases in
the cost of living. In an interview with Pravda on 5 January,
Confederation President Alojz Englis expressed disappointment that the
provisional budget was passed without first being discussed with the
government's social partners and said his group disagreed with changes in
several laws which would affect the lives of citizens. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK CABINET MANIFESTO.
The Slovak cabinet met in
Trencianske Teplice on 8 January to discuss the proposal for its manifesto.
Deputy Premier Sergej Kozlik later announced on Slovak Television that the
government was expected to work out the final version that day, approve it on
10 January, and submit it to the parliament on 11 January. Still, Premier
Vladimir Meciar said the parliament would not discuss the manifesto until 19
January. According to the constitution, "within 30 days of its appointment, the
cabinet is obliged to appear before the parliament, present its program, and
request a vote of confidence." The cabinet was installed on 13 December, and
several opposition parties have protested the fact that the manifesto will not
be passed by 13 January. The cabinet plans for GDP growth of 4-5% in 1995 and
8% by 1998. The unemployment rate is expected to remain below 15% in 1995,
falling to 10% by 1998. In other political news, Slovak National Party Chairman
Jan Slota, who serves as both mayor of Zilina and as a parliamentary deputy,
announced on 6 Janiuary that he will donate his 1995 parliamentary earnings to
social groups in Zilina, TASR reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
MECIAR ON PRIVATIZATION.
During a meeting of the Slovak cabinet with
representatives of the Employers Association on 7 January, Slovak Premier
Vladimir Meciar held a press conference to discuss his cabinet's plans for
privatization, Sme reports. The start of the second wave of coupon
privatization will depend on several factors, Meciar said. A review of the
property to be offered is expected to be completed by 15 January. Ministers
will then meet with representatives of trade unions and employers to decide on
the privatization concept for each industrial branch and for each firm. Meciar
also mentioned that "between the government and employers there are no serious
controversies" concerning the cabinet's manifesto. According to Lidove
noviny, Meciar said that in the near future criminal proceedings will be
launched against some participants in privatization, although he did not give
details. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARY DENIES IT WILL BUY MILITARY EQUIPMENT FROM ROMANIA.
Bucharest on 7 January quoted a spokesman for the Hungarian Ministry of Defense
as denying a report in the independent Romanian daily Ziua that his
country intends to purchase military equipment from Romania. The spokesman also
denied a report by the Hungarian news agency MTI that, during talks held in
December with a Romanian military delegation in Budapest, the immediate and
long-range needs of the Hungarian military were reviewed and that the Romanian
side made an offer to which Budapest did not react. Radio Bucharest's
correspondent in Budapest quoted unidentified "Western diplomatic sources," who
said the Pentagon would view favorably the prospect of military cooperation
between Romania and Hungary. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
SERBS MAKE NEW DEMANDS IN BOSNIAN CRISIS.
International media report on
9 January that Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic introduced new
conditions when he spoke to the UN's General Sir Michael Rose the previous day.
Until then, the Serbs were insisting only that the government forces'
withdrawal from Mt. Igman's demilitarized zone near Sarajevo be confirmed; now
they want the mainly Muslim troops to leave some areas adjacent to the DMZ as
well. Rose is slated to meet with government commander General Rasim Delic on 9
January. The Muslims insist that the Serbs reopen roads into Sarajevo as soon
as the government's withdrawal from the DMZ is confirmed and that attacks by
Bosnian and Krajina Serbs against Bihac stop. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
ARE THE SERBS ON THE VERGE OF A DIPLOMATIC VICTORY?
The Los Angeles
Times on 9 January writes that Bosnian Serb forces may be overplaying their
hand and ignoring the possibility that time is working against them and for the
Muslims. Reuters and The New York Times on 7 January, however,
suggest that the Serbs are to be rewarded for their intransigence by the
five-nation Contact Group. According to this view, the Serbs may have rejected
the take-it-or-leave-it peace plan last summer, but they will soon be offered
territorial concessions anyway. This has provoked bitterness from the
government. Reuters on 9 January quotes Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic
as saying that his side "has accepted the plan. But if it's just a basis for
further negotiations, then there is no plan." Silajdzic had been meeting with
US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Richard Holbrooke, who is
visiting several Balkan countries and publicly criticized suggestions by Senate
Majority Leader Robert Dole that the US lift the arms embargo against the
Bosnian government. Bosnian Serb parliamentary leader Momcilo Krajisnik told
Borba on 6 January that his side regards "only 10-15%" of Bosnian
territory as disputed. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
Vjesnik on 9 January quotes Bosnian Croat leader
and Croat-Muslim federation President Kresimir Zubak on some problems between
the Bosnian Croats and the mainly Muslim Sarajevo government. Zubak suggests
that the differences stem from contrasting interpretations of the nature of the
Bosnian state: the Muslims want a unitary polity while the Croats want a looser
federation. The daily writes that the congress of the Islamic Community of
Croatia met on 7 January. The group is reconstituting itself following the
effective dissolution of the former Yugoslav-wide Islamic organization and
establishment of an Islamic Community of Slovenia separate from the Croatian
body. Meanwhile, on the international front, Prime Minister Nikica Valentic is
visiting China at the head of a high-powered economic delegation. Finally, one
of Croatia's key earners of hard currency, tourism, has had a good year, with
$1.3 billion coming in during 1994. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA TO REPRESENT FRENCH INTERESTS IN IRAQ.
Romania will soon begin
representing French interests in Baghdad, Radio Bucharest announced on 6
January. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced the move after talks in
Paris with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz-the first time France has
officially received a high Iraqi official since the Gulf War. The French
decision was criticized by the US State Department, whose spokeswoman Christine
Shelly said the US did not think the move was helpful or constructive. Britain
had similar criticism. Juppe said the opening of an Iraqi interest section at
the Romanian Embassy was a technical measure needed to solve practical
questions, because France and Iraq had no diplomatic relations. For its part,
Romania said it was delighted to represent France's interests. A Foreign
Ministry official said the move was proof of the "privileged" relations between
Romania and France. He added that Romania did not withdraw the personnel of its
embassy from Baghdad during the Gulf Crisis, with the exception of its
ambassador. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
NO CHANCE FOR SURVIVORS IN CONSTANTA.
Radio Bucharest on 6 January
quoted the head of rescue operations in Constanta as saying there is no chance
that any of the 54 seamen still missing after two freighters sank in the Black
Sea port on 4 January will be found alive. Nine bodies were recovered by the
evening of 8 January. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS ELECT DEPUTY FACTION LEADERS, NAME CANDIDATE FOR
CHAIRMAN OF PARLIAMENT.
The parliamentary group of the Bulgarian Socialist
Party and its allies have elected its deputy leaders, Pari reported on 9
January. Rosen Hubenov will be responsible for the legislative program, while
Krasimir Premyanov is in charge of contacts with the other parliamentary
groups. At the same meeting, Blagovest Sendov was named candidate for chairman
of the National Assembly, while Nora Ananieva will run for deputy chairman. She
will be the only candidate for this post proposed by the BSP, regardless of
whether there are three or five deputy chairmen in the new parliament.
Standard on 9 January reported that the BSP wants the number to rise to
five "in the name of national reconciliation." The Socialist deputies also
decided to change the name of their faction to Parliamentary Group of the
Democratic Left. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN INFLATION IN 1994.
According to specialists of the Economic
Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Science, the monthly inflation for
December 1994 will be about 5%, Demokratsiya reported on 9 January. This
will bring annual inflation for 1994 to 121%, the second-highest figure since
1989. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIANS ELECT UNIVERSITY STAFF IN MACEDONIA.
University Council of the Albanian-language university in Tetovo elected its
officers on 8 January in the bureau of the ethnic Albanian Democratic People's
Party, Flaka and Vecer reported the next day. Fadil Sulejmani was
elected director of the university which, the Macedonian authorities claim, is
illegal. The meeting of the University Council moved to another location after
police broke it up. Sulejmani criticized the police raid as an "inhuman,
vandalistic and undemocratic act." Police have intervened against the
University in the past, but the Albanians say they will continue their work and
the classes can begin on 20 January. So far about 400 students have registered.
Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, visiting the
country, said Washington is considering increased economic and military support
for Macedonia, international agencies reported on 8 January. -- Fabian Schmidt,
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Steve Kettle