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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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,
U.S. RABBI PROTESTS POLISH PLANS FOR AUSCHWITZ COMMEMORATION.
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.
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.
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.
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