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Newsline - January 25, 1995


YELTSIN MAY CREATE NATIONAL GUARD.
President Boris Yeltsin's advisers are preparing to set up a National Guard directly subordinate to the president, Izvestiya reported on 24 January. According to documents Izvestiya cited, during a political crisis, the guard will be an "armed organization . . . that will be an instrument in the battle for political power." In periods of stability, the National Guard will be an "armed pillar for the political leader of the state." The guard will mostly deal with internal problems and threats which are outside the army's jurisdiction. Its membership will be small, but elite. Aleksandr Korzhakov, chief of Yeltsin's Presidential Guard, is said to be the main force behind the creation of a new guard. The idea for it sprang from an "analytical center" under his control which employs between 60 to 100 former KGB experts and is headed by Georgii Pagozin, Korzhakov's deputy. Korzhakov's Presidential Guard currently has 4,000 men, according to AFP. The appearance of this document adds to increasing evidence that Korzhakov is exercising a hard-line influence on the president. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUDAEV, GRACHEV ON SITUATION IN CHECHNYA.
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev said that Russian troops do not control any part of Grozny and claimed that pockets of Russian forces in the city are surrounded, according to an interview with Ekho Moskvy quoted by Western agencies on 24 January. He again called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian troops and asked for international observers to be stationed in Chechnya. At a press conference in Moscow on 24 January summarized by ITAR-TASS, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev claimed that his troops had completed the process of disarming illegal formations in Grozny and that there were no longer any substantive centers of Chechen resistance in Grozny or elsewhere. He said the army was ready to turn over responsibility for restoring order to the Russian Interior Ministry. A UN official, cited by Reuters on 24 January, estimated that some 42,000 refugees have fled the fighting in Chechnya. A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva said that preparations are being made to evacuate at least half of the 10,000 civilians still stranded in Grozny. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

FOUR JOURNALISTS SHOT, 107 BEATEN UP BY THE MILITARY.
Four journalists have
been killed and 107 more intimidated while working in Chechnya, according to a round-table discussion attended by representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Duma, the government, public organizations, and the media. The 24 January discussion, broadcast on Russian TV, dealt with reports that the military has beaten up journalist, confiscated their equipment, fired at their vehicles and even at journalists themselves. While the officers accused the media of siding with the Chechens, the journalists argued that the military was not allowing them to report from the Russian side of the conflict. A military spokesman confirmed that Defense Minister Grachev had ordered his subordinates to keep journalists away from battlefields because he wanted to protect them. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV TO FIRE GENERALS.
The defense minister Pavel Grachev said he intends to fire six or seven generals for refusing to participate in the Chechen conflict, Interfax reported on 24 January. The only name he mentioned was Col.-Gen. Eduard Vorobev--the first deputy commander of Ground Forces. Grachev said three of his deputies who recently lost their posts--Col.-Gens. Boris Gromov, Georgii Kondratev, and Valerii Mironov--would not be dismissed from the armed forces. Instead, they would be offered other positions "in military or other structures" at the same rank. He added that he would soon appoint two more deputies. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN SECURITY SERVICES ALLEGEDLY ACCUSE WESTERN INVESTORS OF SUBVERTING RUSSIAN ECONOMY.
Documents allegedly leaked from Russian security services to a Russian newspaper accuse Western investors of subverting the Russian economy, the Financial Times reports. The attacks appeared in Rabochaya Tribuna of 24 January and mentioned 15 specific Western investments, including CS First Boston's acquisition of portions of several oil companies and involvement by the foreign metals trading company Transworld in the aluminum sector. These investments represented part of "the hidden intervention of foreign capital aimed at undermining the weapons building capacity and economy of the country." the Financial Times interpreted this assault on foreign investment as a reflection of the ongoing struggle within the Russian government over the future direction of the country's economy. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN FIRES PRIVATIZATION CHIEF.
President Yeltsin fired Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Polevanov on 24 January on grounds that the country's privatization chief "did not know he needed to toe the government's pro-privatization line," AFP reported. Last week, Yeltsin publicly criticized Polevanov for saying earlier this month that firms in the fuel and aluminum industries which had been "unfairly privatized" should be renationalized in the interests of national security. Polevanov caused another stir earlier this month when he prohibited foreigners and several journalists from entering the State Property Committee headquarters. The ex-privatization chief explained the action at the time as "the need to protect state secrets." When First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais ordered him to reverse the decision, Polevanov refused. Yeltsin said that with Polevanov's dismissal, "nothing changes in the strategy and tactics of reform in Russia on the part of the president or the government." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASING.
Some 1.88 million people were officially registered as unemployed on 1 January 1995, 1.64 million of whom were receiving unemployment benefits, agencies reported on 24 January. Fedor Prokopov, head of the Federal Employment Service, stated that actual unemployment in January was 5.3 million and that 13.5 percent of those who want to work are now jobless, a figure that he said includes hidden unemployment. The same day an Economics Ministry official told a round-table discussion on unemployment in Moscow that the number of officially registered people without work is expected to reach 4.2 million by the end of the year. He added that the official figure reflects just a third of Russia's unemployed. Interfax quoted him as saying that one in four never apply for a new job, some 5 million are looking for work without the aid of the state employment offices, and another 5 million work part-time. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

1994 GRAIN HARVEST DIPS TO LOWEST POINT IN 13 YEARS.
Russia collected 81.3 million tons of grain in 1994, the lowest harvest in 13 years, according to a Goskomstat report cited by Interfax. Goskomstat said that in 1993 Russia harvested 99.1 million tons in comparison with a high of 116.7 million tons reaped in 1990. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food told Interfax that its plant-growing department estimates that 82 million tons of grain will be harvested in 1995. Ministry experts believe this can be achieved if state support for agriculture stays at last year's level, 13.9 trillion rubles (3,947 rubles/$1). The ministry presented this figure in its draft resolution on state regulation measures and on economic conditions for the functioning of Russia's agro-industrial complex. However, the 1995 draft budget, which has been approved by the Duma on the preliminary reading, only allocates 8 trillion rubles for agriculture. Despite the final monetary allocation, Ministry of Economics experts said that 108-110 million tons of grain will be required to fulfill the population's needs this year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CONFERENCE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO BE HELD IN FEBRUARY.
The Analytical Center led by Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov decided to hold an all-Russia conference in February to speed up the adoption of a new law on relations between the federal and local governments, Interfax reported 24 January. The conference will also examine controversial issues surrounding tax and regional property rights. Filatov has made numerous statements recently warning Russia's regions against trying to take too much power. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ZYUGANOV TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
The Communist Party has decided to back Gennadii Zyuganov as its presidential candidate, he announced at a press conference 24 January. According to Interfax, he stressed he will seek alliances with other groups favoring a strong state. The Communist leader specifically named the Agrarian Party and the Russian National Union as potential partners. Asked about working with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Zyuganov said, "sometimes in the morning Zhirinovsky qualifies [as an ally] but then stops after lunch." Zhirinovsky has already announced his intention to run for Russia's highest office. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

SPACE TROOPS LAUNCH AMERICAN SATELLITE.
For the first time, an American commercial satellite has been launched by Russia, a spokesman for the Space Troops told Interfax on 24 January. He said that a FAISAT experimental communication satellite, belonging to the U.S. firm Final Analysis, Inc., had been one of three satellites sent into space from the Plesetsk cosmodrome that day aboard a Cosmos booster. Built by the Polyet Aerospace Association in Omsk, the Cosmos is touted to be the world's most reliable booster for placing light loads in low earth orbit. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GENERAL LEBED SAYS HE PASSED INSPECTION.
Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, told Interfax on 23 January that his controversial command of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova had been given a clean bill of health from a group of Moscow military inspectors, headed by Deputy Defense Minister Konstantin Kobets. He was quoted as saying the inspection was "successful, no serious reproaches were voiced." Like Kobets, he also denied press rumors that the purpose of Kobets visit had been to remove him from his post. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.



TASHKENT PROSECUTOR THREATENS ACTION AGAINST FORMER PRIME MINISTER.
Tashkent Prosecutor Ergash Dzhuraev wants legal proceedings brought against former Prime Minister Shukurulla Mirsaidov, who recently announced that he was creating a new opposition political party in Uzbekistan, according to an article published in the Uzbek press on 21 January and summarized by Interfax that day. Dzhuraev claimed that in 1990-1991, during his tenure as prime minister, Mirsaidov had abused his official position, causing $5,635,000 in financial losses. Uzbekistan's Supreme Court found him guilty, but he was later amnestied on the first anniversary of the country's independence. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

RUSSIA AND BELARUS SIGN TRADE AGREEMENT.
Russia and Belarus signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement for 1995 in Moscow, Belarusian television reported on 23 January. Under the terms of the agreement, Belarus is to receive 10 million tons of oil from Russia and an additional four million tons may be delivered if the two can work out a clearing arrangement. The report says it will be difficult for Belarus to deliver enough acceptable goods to Russia which would cover the extra four million tons. After the agreement was signed, Russia resumed oil deliveries to Belarus at Russian domestic rates. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS NEXT MONTH'S MEETING IN ALMATY.
Foreign ministers of the CIS states are scheduled to meet 25 January to discuss the agenda for next month's CIS summit in Almaty, agencies reported. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev said they will discuss a Russian-authored draft "peace and accord" pact. He added that such a pact "would be a blessing for all peoples in the post-Soviet era." In a related development, Russian officials responsible for CIS affairs said that Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan would sign agreements this week on convertible currencies, a customs union and free trade.-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.



UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL PROPOSES COORDINATING COUNCIL TO IMPROVE EXECUTIVE-LEGISLATIVE RELATIONS.
Ukrainian Parliament Deputy Chairman Oleh Dyomin has proposed setting up a state coordinating council to help settle differences between the president and the parliament, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 24 January. Dyomin said the council would include the president, two or three high-ranking administration members, the prime minister, the parliament speaker and his deputies, and possibly the ministers of defense, finance, and economics. He added that the council would play a consultative role and coordinate the actions of the president, prime minister, and legislature. All three have been locked in a struggle to delineate their authority within the framework of the heavily amended, Soviet-era constitution. In an effort to break the stalemate, President Leonid Kuchma has submitted a controversial constitutional law on the separation of powers that would give him more authority. The legislature has preliminarily approved the bill, which is currently under review by a special commission composed of deputies and administration officials. Dyomin told Interfax-Ukraine that his idea of a coordinating council is supported by both the administration and parliament speaker Oleksander Moroz. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE FULFILLING START-1 OBLIGATIONS.
UNIAR reported on 24 January that Ukraine's Ministry of Defense has said it has fulfilled all conditions stipulated by the START-1 treaty on removing ICBMs from Ukrainian territory. It was also reported that U.S. observers who have been at the Pavlodar Mechanical Plant since 12 January have confirmed that ICBMs are no longer manufactured there. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. MILITARY DELEGATION IN BELARUS.
Belarusian Radio reports that a U.S. military delegation arrived in Minsk on 23 January to work out the Nunn-Lugar program for helping Belarus dismantle its nuclear weapons, convert its defense industries, and eliminate ecological damage caused by its military enterprises. The delegation will meet with representatives from the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and External Economic Relations. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN LITHUANIA.
Lena Hjelm-Wallem, in Vilnius for a two-day visit, met with President Algirdas Brazauskas, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, and members of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on 24 January, BNS reported. The talks focused on the eastward expansion of the European Union, Sweden's possible role in assisting Lithuania become an associate member, and dropping visa requirements between the two countries. The two foreign ministers signed an agreement on mutual assistance in customs activities. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.


BELARUS PRIME MINISTER VISITS LATVIA.
Mikhail Chyhir held talks in Riga on 23 January with his Latvian counterpart, Maris Gailis, President Guntis Ulmanis, Saeima Deputy Chairman Aivars Berkis, and Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, BNS reported on 24 January. The meetings focused on expanding economic cooperation. Belarus wants to use Latvian ports for imports and exports and is ready to lower customs tariffs to increase Latvia's transit cargo through Belarus. The two prime ministers signed a joint communique that envisages agreements on mutual protection of investments; avoidance of double taxation; cooperation in education, culture, and science; pensions; and national minority rights. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.


CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER IN LATVIA.
Vilem Holan, on a visit to Latvia, toured the National Defense Academy in Riga and held talks with its director, Valdis Matiss, BNS reported on 23 January. He also brought weapons--mainly anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns --worth about 2 million Czech koruny. Latvian Defense Minister Jan Trapans noted that Czech specialists will assist in setting up the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion and improving Latvia's military draft legislation. Holan also held talks with Prime Minister Maris Gailis and parliament Defense and Interior Affairs Committee Chairman Andris Ligotnis. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

CEFTA AGREES TO SLASH TARIFFS ON AGRICULTURAL GOODS.
The agricultural ministers of the four signatory countries to the Central European Free Trade Agreement plus Slovenia agreed in Warsaw on 24 January to cut tariffs on agricultural products by 50% beginning 1 January 1996. Accords on quality control are expected to be signed in July 1995. All tariffs should be removed by January 1998, Hospodarske noviny and TASR report. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. RABBI PROTESTS POLISH PLANS FOR AUSCHWITZ COMMEMORATION.
New York Rabbi Avi Weiss on 24 January organized a protest outside the palace of Polish President Lech Walesa, Reuters reports. The demonstrators criticized the president for failing to guarantee that the ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp focus mainly on the Jews exterminated there. The ceremonies, scheduled for 26 and 27 January, are to give equal attention to Christian and Jewish victims, despite the fact that 90% of those killed there were Jewish. Weiss and his followers also protested the presence of a Catholic church and cross next to the Birkenau and Auschwitz camps. Meanwhile, in statements released on 24 January, Polish and German Catholic bishops recognized the guilt of those Christians who did not oppose the extermination of Jews by the Nazis. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS NATO MEMBERSHIP SHOULD NOT BE PUT TO REFERENDUM.
Josef Zieleniec told a 24 January news conference that "a referendum is an exceptional element in our constitutional system. From this point of view, I do not think that admission to NATO should be a question of this sort," Rude pravo reports. Both President Vaclav Havel and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus have said eventual membership in the EU could be decided in a referendum. Zieleniec said Czech foreign policy in 1995 will concentrate on forging closer ties with both NATO and the EU, developing relations with Germany, Russia, and Slovakia, and promoting the Czech Republic abroad as an integral part of the Western world. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES LAW ON FOREIGNERS.
The Slovak cabinet on 24 January approved a draft law stipulating that requests for long-term residence in Slovakia be granted only by Slovakia's representatives or consular offices abroad, Pravda and TASR report. Foreigners entering Slovakia would have to prove they can finance their stay in the country and have a return ticket home. Anyone who illegally employs a foreigner would be required to cover the costs of his deportation. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK HUNGARIAN DEPUTIES, MECIAR IN BUDAPEST.
Hungarian deputies representing the three Hungarian parties in the Slovak parliament--Coexistence, the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement, and the Hungarian Civic Party--concluded the official part of their visit to Hungary on 24 January as Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar arrived in Budapest, MTI and Magyar Hirlap report on 25 January. The three leaders, in meetings with Prime Minister Gyula Horn and President Arpad Goncz, expressed doubts that Meciar's visit would lead to a breakthrough in Hungarian-Slovak relations. They said the Meciar government's program was opposed to the interests of the Hungarian minority. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.



TUDJMAN CONFIDENT OF NO WAR WITH SERBIA . . .
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, in an unusually blunt and informal interview with Der Spiegel on 23 January, says he feels that Serbia is unable or unwilling to risk a new war with his country. Tudjman, who recently decided not to renew UNPROFOR's mandate, says the West will back his efforts to "liberate" Croatian territory, especially in view of the fact that "the Western world is willing to tolerate Yeltsin's settling accounts with the Chechens." Tudjman has no regrets about UNPROFOR's departure because its role has been "counterproductive." Turning to one of his favorite themes--namely, the age-old demarcation lines between civilizations in the Balkans--the president argues that it is in Europe's interest to prevent the establishment of a purely Muslim state in the region. He also notes that the Croatian-Muslim federation ensures Bosnia will not become a bastion of fundamentalism. Referring to the frontier between Roman Catholicism and eastern Orthodoxy, Tudjman stresses that old divisions need not stand in the way of new peace and prosperity, as Germany and France proved after World War II. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BUT MILOSEVIC SUGGESTS OTHERWISE.
The BBC on 25 January, however, quotes a statement by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic warning that the departure of UNPROFOR from Croatia could have "unforeseeable consequences." The Serbian media and politicians from Krajina and Pale have expressed similar fears since the Croats announced their decision. Some Serbian sources have even suggested that Croatia is itching for a fight. But Zagreb has stressed it wants a peaceful solution to what it calls "the reintegration of the occupied territories." It even argues that UNPROFOR's departure will "give a fresh and strong impetus to the negotiating process," Hina quotes Foreign Minister Mate Granic as saying on 24 January. Granic is slated to go to Belgrade in mid-February for talks on normalizing relations between Croatia and rump Yugoslavia, The Washington Post noted on 24 January. Meanwhile, Hina reports that Croatia's Defense and National Security Council backed the decision to end UNPROFOR's mandate, although it adds that "Croatia is willing to consider the participation of the international community in monitoring the process of peaceful reintegration." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

CONTACT GROUP WOOS PALE.
The Los Angeles Times on 25 January reports that diplomats from the five-country negotiating team "rushed to rebel [Serb] headquarters" but "there were no immediate reports of success in their attempts to persuade the Serbs to accept a peace plan for divvying up Bosnian territory." Negotiations continued the same day on the terms for reopening the "blue routes" to Sarajevo. One Bosnian official doubted that the Serbs would observe their pledges to open the roads, adding "we already have 10,000 signatures and not a single agreement has been obeyed. Does the world have amnesia?" Reuters, meanwhile, quoted Vice President Ejup Ganic as stressing that the Serbs must accept the current peace plan before talks can begin. But the report noted that the Serbs "are shy of the word 'acceptance.'" -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

TUDJMAN AND IZETBEGOVIC MEET IN ZAGREB.
Vjesnik on 25 January reports that the Croatia and Bosnian presidents met the previous day to discuss developments in their respective republics and problems regarding the setting up of the Croatian-Muslim federation in Bosnia. Vecernji on 25 January reported on the concrete issues facing the federation in Mostar, which just marked six months under EU administration. Interviews with the respective mayors of the Croatian and Muslim halves of the city illustrate the differences in positions: the Croatian mayor calls for political issues to be settled at the top level before progress can be made in the city, but his Muslim counterpart feels that Mostar should be a "pilot project for the federation." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER ON MACEDONIAN EMBARGO.
Karolos Papoulias on 24 January denied that his government plans to lift the economic embargo against Macedonia, Vecher reported the following day. The blockade was imposed in February 1994. A representative of the Greek Chamber of Commerce in Thessaloniki suggested previously that the embargo might be lifted by 1 February. Papoulias said the forthcoming European Court hearing on the legitimacy of the Greek move would not pressure Greece into lifting the embargo as long as the Macedonian government does not make any concessions to Greece. Athens wants Macedonia to change its name, flag, and constitution in order to avoid what Greece says are territorial claims. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

NEW MINISTERS IN SLOVENIA.
Reuters on 23 January quotes Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek as saying that Zoran Thaler, a member of Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party and president of the parliament Board for international relations, has been nominated by the Liberal Democrats and the Christian Democrats to fill the post of foreign minister, left vacant since the departure of Lojze Peterle in October 1994. Drnovsek also announced that Janko Dezelak, a Christian Democrat, has been nominated to the post of minister of economic relations and development. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS EXPECTED TO COOL OFF.
Radio Bucharest reported on 24 January that talks between top Hungarian officials and Viorel Hrebenciuc, head of Romania's Council of National Minorities, were tense. Hrebenciuc denied his government intended to outlaw the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, saying Minister of Justice Iosif Gavril Chiuzbaian's drive to ban the HDFR did not reflect the official government view. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, after meeting with Hrebenciuc, said that anti-Hungarian statements by Romanian politicians threatened the very existence of the Hungarian minority in Romania and were damaging relations between the two countries, MTI reports. Meanwhile, Adrian Nastase, executive president of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, told a press conference in the Moldavian town of Focsani on 24 January that the PSDR's coalition partner, the Party of Romanian National Unity, had not consulted the PSDR before calling for the HDFR to be banned. Nastase said his party might demand the dismissal of Chiuzbaian for having claimed outlawing the HDFR was legally warranted and would be examined by the government. The HDFR noted in a 24 January press release that the government's attacks on it were attempts to deflect attention from the ruling party's recently formalized alliance with extremists. Radio Bucharest's correspondent in Budapest said it was expected that Romanian-Hungarian relations would cool off considerably. -- Michael Shafir and Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN PRIVATIZATION AGENCY DISSATISFIED WITH OWN WORK.
The director of the Romanian agency charged with privatizing state-owned companies says his agency has not been able to do its job. Theodor Strauss of the State Ownership Fund told a news conference in Bucharest on 24 January that the agency privatized only 598 companies in 1994, although it was supposed to privatize more than 2,300, Radio Bucharest reports. Strauss said only eight of the companies privatized last year had more than 2,000 employees, adding that a major obstacle to privatization was the lack of investors. Former Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan, who now works for the World Bank and attended a recent conference in Sibiu on privatization in the former communist states, said economic reform in Romania is trailing that of even "troubled" countries such as neighboring Moldova. He urged that privatization in Romania be speeded up. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN NEWSPAPERS RUN OUT OF PAPER.
Most Bulgarian newspapers may stop publishing on 27 January, BTA reports. A joint statement by newspaper editors and the Rodina publishing company, which prints most of Sofia's dailies, says newsprint is running out. Trud reports that supplies have dropped to 210 tons owing to drastic increases in the price of Russian newsprint and infrequent deliveries from Russia, 24 chasa reports. The only newspapers unaffected are Standart and Pari, which have their own newsprint supplies. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN DICTATOR'S WIDOW APPEALS TO HIGH COURT.
The widow of Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha has requested that Supreme Court President Zef Brozi review her 11-year jail term, Reuters reported on 24 January. A court spokesman says Brozi may pass the request onto the court's 11-judge panel. Nexhmije Hoxha was sentenced for embezzlement but claims the charge is unjustified. If the court were to decide that her real crime was violating citizens' rights, her sentence could be cut. Other senior communist officials have been sentenced to up to six years on that charge. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the immunity of Brozi can be lifted by the parliament. Chief Prosecutor Alush Dragoshi has charged Brozi with illegally ordering the release of a Greek citizen involved in a narcotics case. The parliament also has to decide about lifting the immunity of two former government ministers. Prosecutors are currently investigating former Transport Minister Fatos Bitincka and prime ministerial counselor Albert Gajo on charges of abuse of office and forgery. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN AIRLINES FINDS NEW PARTNER.
The Amsterdam-based Aviation World MAK b.v. has bought Albania's bankrupt air company for $1 million, Reuters reported on 21 January. The company, which is owned by Kuwait's MA Kharafi group, promised to bring in a new fleet of Fokker and Boeing jets and employ the entire former staff of 60. Albanian Airlines--a $2 million joint venture between Albanian state company Albtransport and Austria's Tyrolean Airlines AG--went bankrupt in July 1994. Meanwhile, the World Bank has approved an $18 million loan to repair Albania's main north-south road. Work is already under way between Tirana and Milot, Reuters reported on 23 January. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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