STALEMATE IN GROZNY.
Despite intensified Russian artillery bombardment
of Grozny, the Chechens yielded no ground on 31 January, Western agencies
reported. A spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry affirmed that the
Chechens had switched to guerrilla tactics, ITAR-TASS reported. Fierce fighting
was also reported in the village of Samashki west of Grozny, where, on 30
January, Chechen forces had repelled a Russian armored column attempting to
advance on the capital, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Russian troops were
concentrating in the village of Gudermes, east of Grozny, on the main highway
to Dagestan where Chechen defenders control a strategic bridge, AFP reported.
In an interview given to Argumenty i fakty and summarized by ITAR-TASS
on 31 January, Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) Director Sergei
Stepashin argued that the Russian leadership had no alternative to the use of
force in Chechnya. While terming the prospect of a prolonged partisan war
remote, Stepashin disclosed that his agency plans to establish a department of
up to 800 men in Chechnya to "confiscate weapons and detain gangsters." Ingush
President Ruslan Aushev denied earlier Russian statements that Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev was in Ingushetia under his personal protection, Ekho
Moskvy reported on 31 January. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
OSCE DELEGATION CONDEMNS RUSSIAN ACTION IN CHECHNYA.
The Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) fact-finding
mission has condemned the "disproportionate and indiscriminate" Russian use of
military force against Chechnya. The head of the mission, Hungarian diplomat
Istvan Gyarmati, said the situation in Chechnya borders on "catastrophe,"
according to international agencies. The delegation will report to OSCE
headquarters on 2 February. Gyarmati has said he will urge early elections in
Chechnya, so that "the Chechen people's legitimate representatives can hold
talks on the status of the republic within the Russian Federation." Russian
authorities have fully cooperated with the OSCE, according to Gyarmati.
Speaking on 31 January with Willy Wimmer, deputy chairman of the OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly, State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin defended the Russian
military by stressing that when troops "came into contact with the most modern
weapons," they "were forced to respond accordingly," ITAR TASS reported. Some
Russian media also took a different view of the OSCE mission than the Western
press. The daily Izvestiya ran this headline on 31 January: "After
Chechnya, OSCE Delegation 'Sympathizes' With Russia." The article stressed
Gyarmati's comment that the territorial integrity of Russia must be preserved.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO DEBATE CHECHNYA IN SPECIAL SESSION
The Council of
Europe (CE) will hold a special session on 2 February to debate the Chechnya
situation, Reuters reports. The CE's political questions committee proposed
draft legislation on 30 January that would defer consideration of Russian
membership until the situation in Chechnya is cleared up. The resolution
specified: "Only when Russia's president, government, and parliament offer a
full report on how the conflict will be ended and how its consequences will be
remedied will the (membership) procedure be taken up." Russian official
reaction to the delay was highly critical. According to Interfax, Duma Speaker
Rybkin said a rejection of Russia's request for membership would be "a gross
political error." Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said the CE
would "freeze its own transformation into an organization for all Europe" if it
continued to stall on Russia's application. He also called Russian Human Rights
Commissioner Sergei Kovalev "a religious fanatic." Kovalev, who was in
Strasbourg where the CE is meeting, said: "As long as blood is being spilt in
Chechnya, it is absurd, immoral, and blasphemous to discuss membership." --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN CASUALTIES IN CHECHNYA CONTINUE TO MOUNT.
At least 735 Russian
troops have been killed and 2,500 wounded in Chechnya, AFP reported on 31
January, quoting official sources. Those figures do not include unidentified
bodies in morgues, nor the losses of the FSK. The casualty toll includes 395
members of the ground forces, 213 paratroopers, 68 Interior Ministry forces, 56
marines, and 3 frontier guards. These figures indicate that 182 servicemen have
been killed since 20 January--the day Defense Minister Pavel Grachev declared
the military part of the operation over. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
GAIDAR SAYS CHECHNYA WAR WEAKENED DEMOCRATS.
The intervention in
Chechnya has weakened Russia's democratic forces and strengthened the military
and intelligence service, said former acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar in an
interview with the German TV station ARD, cited by dpa on 31 January. Warning
of "a very dangerous development" in Russia, Gaidar said: "[President Boris]
Yeltsin's closest aides agree with everything he says and only pass on
information that will not disturb him. However, in this way the servants are
secretly taking over the regime." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
RYBKIN DENOUNCES ZHIRINOVSKY'S BEHAVIOR.
Duma Speaker Rybkin attacked
the behavior of Vladimir Zhirinovsky as "totally inadmissible," AFP reported 31
January. Rybkin was reacting to Zhirinovsky's comment at a Council of Europe
meeting in Strasbourg on 30 January that Russia's most outspoken critic of the
Chechen war, Sergei Kovalev, was "a scum" and that he belonged "in a
concentration camp." Zhirinovsky also accused Kovalev of lying when he
condemned human rights violations by the Russian armed forces in Chechnya. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
KARASIN SAYS OUTBURSTS IN CONGRESS STRAIN US-RUSSIAN RELATIONS.
"Confrontational outbursts in the US Congress are fraught with the danger of
seriously complicating our relations and do not reflect the national interests
of the United States itself," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii
Karasin, according to a Los Angeles Times report on 31 January.
Karasin's statement was in response to a bill, introduced last month by Rep.
Gerald Solomon, that would make American aid dependent on Russia's arms control
policies, its behavior toward its neighbors, and progress toward a free-market
economy. Karasin warned that appeals to "punish Russia" were not acceptable.
His remarks were a sign of the growing strain between the US and Russia since
the Republicans took control of Congress in November and the beginning of the
Chechen war in December. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER.
Aleksandr Ivanchenko, deputy chairman of the
Central Electoral Commission, said elections to the lower house of Russia's
parliament will be held in December, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 January. The
December date is in line with the constitution, but Vladimir Shumeiko, the
chairman of parliament's upper house, said only last week he believes the
current parliament's term should be extended by another two years. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA TO CONTINUE SELLING ARMS TO PERU.
Foreign Ministry spokesman
Karasin said Russian arms sales to Peru would continue "in accordance with
international law and depending on how the situation in the region develops,"
AFP reported on 31 January. Military skirmishes have erupted recently between
Peru and Ecuador over a disputed border region. According to a Segodnya
report, quoted by the agency, Russia had recently cut off its arms sales to
Peru because the South American country had not paid for previous deliveries.
But the report said contacts between Russian and Peruvian defense officials
were renewed after the recent hostilities broke out. Peru has Russian jet
fighters, attack helicopters, and tanks in its military. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
PROTOTYPE OF NEW RUSSIAN TANK SPOTTED.
Russia has built the prototype
for a revolutionary new main battle tank, according to the 25 January issue of
Jane's Defense Weekly. It was said to have been first spotted at the
Scientific and Research Institute for Armor and Technology at Kubinka, near
Moscow, late last year. The magazine said the tank was fitted with an
externally mounted, long-barreled gun which might have a caliber of 135-140
millimeters. This would give it a greater armor penetration capability than the
125 mm smooth-bore gun on the most modern Russian tanks in service. The new
tank was said to have a three-man crew. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
VLADISLAV LISTEV: OSTANKINO TURNS "PUBLIC" ON 1 APRIL.
the new general director of Russian Public TV, formerly known as Ostankino,
announced that he begins his tenure on 1 February and repeated that he will
turn the station into the best channel in the country. Listev reminded viewers
of "Vremya" on 31 January that the formerly state-owned broadcasting company
was made "public" by a presidential decree in 1994. In fact, this means it
became a joint-stock company with the state retaining a 51% stake. Listev said
Ostankino starts functioning as a public TV station on 1 April. Listev founded
and hosted some of Russia's most popular political and entertainment shows. A
few of them, however, have become considerably less popular under Listev's
hand-picked successors. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
SOUTHERN RUSSIA COAL MINERS ON STRIKE.
All 26 mines of the Rostovugol
coal mine complex in southern Russia went on strike on 1 February because of
pay delays, trade union officials reported to AFP. Ivan Mokhnachuk, a coal
union representative, told AFP that the government owed Russian miners back pay
totaling 893 billion rubles ($220 million) in 1994 and 600 billion rubles ($150
million) so far this year. Yurii Malyshev, chairman of the Rosugol coal
production enterprise, said he would meet government officials to seek a
solution to the crisis. Coal mining enterprises are owed more than 2.1 trillion
rubles ($523 million). The larger part of that is owed by industrial consumers,
mainly electricity producers, while the rest, about 850 billion rubles ($212
million), is owed by the government from budget allocations. Meanwhile, miners
in the northern Russian town of Vorkuta and the town of Perm in the Ural
Mountains warned that they were also prepared to halt operations, Interfax
reported. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
ACTING CHIEF AFFIRMS PRIVATIZATION WILL CONTINUE.
Russia's new acting
privatization chief, Petr Mostovoi, stressed that the privatization process
will continue and recently privatized firms will not be nationalized, according
to Russian and Western agencies on 31 January. Mostovoi replaced Vladimir
Polevanov, who was dismissed on 24 January for urging the reversal of some
recent privatizations in the fuel and aluminum industries. Mostovoi said Russia
must "emphasize that our relations with foreign investors remains on the same
basis as they were before Polevanov." Investors in Russia's small securities
markets panicked in mid-January when Polevanov suggested that some firms be
renationalized. Share prices fell sharply as foreign investors shied away from
the market. Mostovoi, formerly a deputy to reform chief Anatolii Chubais, said
the "participation of foreign investors in Russia is a factor in the
integration of Russia in the world community . . . one which promotes positive
economic process, both in our country and in countries from where capital
comes." Russia's current priorities in the field of privatization include the
creation of a favorable investment climate, financial stabilization, clear
rules on tax and investment policies, and clarification of the state's role in
the privatization process. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN VETOES RISE IN MINIMUM PENSION.
President Yeltsin vetoed a law
passed by parliament which would have raised the monthly minimum pension to
54,100 rubles and indexed pensions to cost of living increases, ITAR-TASS
reported on 30 January. The president admitted pensioners need the extra money
but said the country cannot afford it. Instead, Yeltsin issued a decree
doubling the minimum pension from 19,660 to 39,360 rubles a month to compensate
for price hikes in the last quarter of 1994. The parliament has also voted to
triple the minimum wage, which critics say will unduly increase the budget
deficit. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
No report today.
EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTS GO INTO EFFECT.
between the European Union and the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and
Bulgaria go into effect on 1 February, international agencies report. The next
step for those countries is to apply for full EU membership. The Czech
government has not yet decided when to submit its application but plans to do
so sometime next year. Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec told Hospodarske
noviny on 1 February that the question of the precise date for application
is "irrelevant and unimportant." Slovakia plans to submit its application by 30
June 1995 and hopes to join the organization by the year 2000. Both the Czech
and Slovak agreements replace a preliminary accord drawn up before the split of
Czechoslovakia in December 1992. The Romanian government, in a statement
released on 27 January, said it was working out a "national strategy" for
joining the EU as a full member. The statement added that Romania planned to
apply officially for full membership in the near future. --
Staff, OMRI, Inc.
GERMANY COMPLETES HOUSING PROJECTS IN UKRAINE.
Germany has finished
building the fourth and final apartment complex in Ukraine to house Ukrainian
troops returning from Germany, Reuters reports on 31 January. The Ukrainian
housing complexes cost the German government some $500 million and were part of
a larger project worth more than $5 billion to build housing throughout the
former USSR for servicemen returning from Eastern Europe. German Finance
Minister Theo Waigel, who attended the opening ceremony at the housing complex,
said Germany will not abandon Ukraine in its economic reform efforts. Germany
is Ukraine's largest aid donor, providing some $1.7 billion in export credits,
technical assistance and other projects. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
NEW DEPUTY PREMIER APPOINTED.
President Leonid Kuchma has appointed
Serhii Osyka deputy prime minister in charge of CIS relations, Interfax
reported on 30 January. Osyka will continue in his post as minister of foreign
trade. He was an adviser to Kuchma when the latter was prime minister in 1993.
-- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES CORRUPTION CHARGES HEARING.
TV reported on 30 January that Supreme Soviet Chairman Mechyslau Hryb rejected
deputy Syarhei Antonchyk's offer to give another report on corruption. Hryb
explained that an investigation into the corruption charges made in Antonchyk's
first report had not yet been completed. The parliament was to have heard the
results of that investigation on 1 February, but Uladzimir Paulau, deputy head
of the investigative commission, asked for the hearing to be postponed until 21
February, saying the fuzziness of some of Antonchyk's charges had delayed the
commission's investigation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
LUKASHENKA ATTENDS MVD MEETING.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka attended a meeting of the Interior Ministry, Belarusian TV reported
on 30 January. One of the main issues discussed was the growing crime rate in
Belarus. Valeri Izotau, first deputy minister of the MVD, said more than 120,00
crimes were reported in 1994, up 17,000 on the previous year. Lukashenka called
on the militia to take measures to combat growing crime. -- Ustina Markus,
ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RESIGNS.
Enn Tupp tendered his resignation on
31 January citing a "slander campaign" in his own office, BNS reports. Defense
Ministry Chancellor Tarmo Molder asked the Security Police at the end of
December to examine the minister's actions in a long-running court case and
scandal over military equipment purchased from Russia in 1991. Tupp had tried
to sack Molder in November saying the chancellor was unable to solve problems
arising from the takeover and use of former Russian military facilities. But
Prime Minister Andres Tarand had urged Tupp to retain Molder for the sake of
"domestic peace." After Tupp's resignation announcement, Tarand said he had not
yet decided whether to try to nominate a new minister for the period remaining
until the March parliament elections. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
CEPA UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES LATVIAN MEMBERSHIP.
The Council of Europe
Parliamentary Assembly on 31 January voted unanimously to accept Latvia as a
member, an RFE/RL correspondent in Strasbourg reports. The only speaker opposed
to Latvia's entry was Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who claimed
Latvia was not an independent state but part of Russia. The council is expected
to admit Latvia formally as its 34th member on 6 February. Latvia applied for
membership in September 1991, along with Estonia and Lithuania, which were
admitted as members in May 1993. Latvia's membership was approved only after
the country passed legislation on national minority rights that was acceptable
to the council. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIA PASSES LANGUAGE LAW.
The Lithuanian parliament passed the
State Language Law on 31 January, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reports. The
requirement that officials pass examinations in the Lithuanian language as a
condition for holding government posts went into effect on 1 January 1995.
Amendments proposed by Polish deputies to establish Polish as an official
language in the Polish-populated southeast raions of Lithuania were defeated.
-- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
WALESA, PAWLAK COME TO TERMS?
The Polish president's office announced on
31 January that President Lech Walesa has accepted candidates proposed by Prime
Minister Waldemar Pawlak to head the Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministries.
The names of the candidates are to be keep secret until Pawlak officially
nominates them. Walesa's spokesman said the president would agree to meet with
the ruling coalition only if the two ministers took office by 3 February.
Parliamentary speculation pointed to acting Defense Minister Jerzy Milewski
(the president's former security adviser) and presidential office chief Janusz
Ziolkowski as the likely ministerial choices, but Gazeta Wyborcza on 1
February tips right-wing politician Romuald Szeremietiew for the defense post.
Pawlak's maneuver left the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) speechless, as the
prime minister had previously agreed to propose candidates approved jointly
with his coalition partners. One SLD leader commented that by violating this
agreement, Pawlak has "lost his instinct for self-preservation." But Pawlak has
successfully outmaneuvered the SLD before. The real beneficiary of the move
would be Walesa, however, as it would reconfirm his control over the three
"presidential" ministries. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH GOVERNMENT PREPARES LAW ON STATE NEWS AGENCY.
The Czech government
is preparing legislation requiring the state-owned news agency CTK to publish
government press statements in full, Czech media report on 1 February. Deputy
Culture Minister Michal Prokop said amendments to the law establishing and
regulating CTK will be discussed before the end of this week. Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus has several times complained about CTK's editing of his speeches.
His Civic Democratic Party recently criticized the agency for not publishing in
full a statement by the head of the counterintelligence service on allegations
of spying on political parties. Although financed largely by the state, CTK has
recently sought to become independent. CTK editor-in-chief Petr Holubec
responded to Prokop's statement by saying "CTK's service should stem from the
needs of the media, not those of politicians." -- Steve Kettle, OMRI,
NEW SLOVAK ATTORNEY-GENERAL APPROVED.
Michal Vala was sworn in on 31
January as Slovak attorney-general. Former Attorney-General Vojtech Bacho was
removed by the parliament in early November and replaced by Ludovit Hudek, who
was named interior minister when the new cabinet was formed in December. In an
interview with Sme on 1 February, Vala said he is not preparing
personnel changes, although some staff members could be removed for what he
called technical or moral incompetence. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN COURT RULINGS ON 1956 CRIMES.
Two members of the former
Hungarian communist militia were sentenced to five years in prison for their
role in shooting and killing at least 46 unarmed demonstrators on 8 December
1956 in Salgotarjan, MTI reports. The judge cited the New York Convention of
1968, according to which crimes against humanity committed in peace time must
also be prosecuted. These are the first convictions for crimes committed during
the 1956 revolution. Seven of the 12 men charged with the killings were
acquitted because of lack of evidence; and charges against three others were
dropped. Both the prosecution and the defense have the right to appeal. The
Budapest Military Court on 27 January dropped charges against two military
officers accused of ordering a pilot to shoot into a crowd of unarmed
demonstrators in Tiszakecske on 27 October 1956. The court ruled that the 1949
Geneva International Convention on crimes against humanity did not cover
internal conflicts. It is estimated that some 1,000 unarmed demonstrators were
killed by communists in 1956. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
EUROPEAN COURT BEGINS PROCEEDINGS ON MACEDONIAN EMBARGO.
Court on 1 February is to begin proceedings against Greece, AFP reported the
previous day. The EU Commission accuses that country of violating EU rules by
maintaining an economic embargo against neighboring Macedonia. The blockade was
decreed by Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou in February 1994 to force
Macedonia to change its name, flag, and constitution, which, Greece argues,
imply territorial claims to the northern Greek province of Makedonia. After the
Greek refusal to lift the blockade, the EU Commission began legal proceedings
last April. Greece insists that Article 224 of the EU treaty--which allows an
EU member to take measures in case of internal unrest, war, or serious
international tension constituting a threat of war--supports the embargo. Greek
European Affairs Minister Georgios-Alexandros Mangakis said Greece is
optimistic that the court will decide in its favor. He noted that a ruling
against Greece would set a "serious precedent." A verdict is not expected until
May, but Greece has already said it will ignore the ruling. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
KRAJINA SERBS AND MILOSEVIC REFUSE TO SEE MEDIATORS.
reported on 31 January that Croatian Serb rebels and Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic would not meet with diplomats representing the Z-4 (Zagreb four)
group. The mediators are promoting a package aimed at solving Croatia's Serbian
question and ending the armed Serbian occupation of one-third of the republic's
territory. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 1 February notes that
the Z-4 program stresses practical ground rules rather than political
formulations. Many observers feel Milosevic holds the key to peace, but neither
he nor the Krajina leaders will see the diplomats without advance assurance
that UNPROFOR will remain in Croatia. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has
said it must leave by 1 July. The BBC's Serbian Service quoted The Times
as saying that Milosevic's behavior actually encourages those Krajina Serbs
bent on continued conflict. The broadcast also cited the US ambassador in
Zagreb as calling the present situation "dangerous." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER BLASTS INTERNATIONAL "IMPOTENCE."
Silajdzic, on a visit to Washington, said the world community is displaying
"impotence" in failing to end the Bosnian conflict, The New York Times
reports on 1 February. He told CNN that the UN's refusal to lift the arms
embargo against his country recalls the Allied failure to bomb the railways
leading to Auschwitz. Silajdzic added that the least the international
community can do is to provide air strikes and sanctions against the Bosnian
Serbs if they continue not to accept the Contact Group's peace plan, the BBC's
Croatian Service reports. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
FRANCE WANTS NEW CONFERENCE ON BOSNIA.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told
Le Monde on 31 January that leaders of former Yugoslav republics and
international representatives should convene new conferences to help end the
conflict. He said this is a "last chance scenario" before the war spreads to
Krajina or elsewhere in the Balkans. The New York Times, however, quotes
U.S. diplomats as saying they do not feel this is the right time for another
conference. Past summits have largely been grandiose talking shops at which
participants from the former Yugoslavia made vague promises that were never
kept. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
A FIRST FOR GORAZDE.
The BBC said on 31 January that the Serbs and
Muslims in that UN-designated "safe area" have for the first time made and kept
an agreement. The issue was the evacuation of sick and wounded Muslims to
Sarajevo and Serbs to Kopaci, which is under way. The New York Times,
meanwhile, quotes a UN spokesman as saying that the fighting in the Bihac area
was the worst there since the current cease-fire took effect on 1 January.
Local kingpin Fikret Abdic and his Krajina Serb allies have not signed that
document, despite repeated pleas from the UN to do so. Elsewhere, observers
have expressed concern lest fighting break out in the "safe area" of
Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia, which is swollen with mainly Muslim refugees, as
is nearby Gorazde. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
NASA BORBA TO APPEAR, TITO CENTER TO DISAPPEAR.
Editors of the
independent Nasa Borba--successor to the independent Belgrade daily
Borba, which fell victim to a government take-over bid--have
announced that their newspaper will appear for the first time on 1 February.
The Novi Sad-based paper was incorporated on 19 January but has been kept out
of circulation by a newsprint shortage. Nasa Borba staff claim the
shortage is government-manufactured to keep the daily off the presses.
Meanwhile, Reuters, citing Tanjug, reported on 31 January that rump Yugoslav
authorities wish to close down the Josip Broz Tito Memorial Center, built 13
years ago to honor the former president of socialist Yugoslavia, because "it is
no longer needed." The government is expected to take over all assets belonging
to the center. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER.
Ion Iliescu met
with German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe at his Bucharest residence on 31
January. The meeting was also attended by Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe
Tinca, State Secretary for Defense Ioan Mircea Pascu, Gen. Vasile Ionel, and
presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu. Iliescu and Ruehe discussed, among
other things, Romania's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program
and their countries' efforts to join UN peacekeeping missions. Radio Bucharest
quoted Chebeleu as saying Romania was interested in the closest possible
cooperation with Germany as part of the larger process of integrating into
European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Ruehe visited the same day a
Bucharest-based battalion that will take part in UN peacekeeping operations. He
also observed an exercise staged by Romanian mountain corps in the town of
Predeal. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
SNEGUR WANTS U.S. TO INVEST MORE IN MOLDOVAN AGRICULTURE.
President Mircea Snegur on 31 January met with senior officials from the U.S.
Agriculture Department, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reports on 1
February. Snegur, who headed a delegation including Moldovan Deputy Minister of
Agriculture Andrei Cheptine, stressed Moldova's interest in closer cooperation
with the U.S. in the agricultural sector and especially in attracting US
investment for agricultural industries. Agriculture is Moldova's most important
economic sector, accounting for some 42% of its economy. An Agriculture
Department official said the U.S. has been helping Moldova by providing
advanced training for agricultural specialists. He added that his department
was working with the U.S. Trade Development Agency to explore trade and
investment opportunities in Moldova. Snegur, who is on a four-day working visit
to the U.S., met the previous day with President Bill Clinton, Vice President
Al Gore, and Secretary of State Warren Christopher. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI,
PRICE RISES IN BULGARIA.
The Bulgarian government has announced price
hikes for fuel, energy, and other goods, including flour, as of 1 February,
Bulgarian media report. The price of electricity is expected to rise by
70-200%. The Bulgarian Socialist Party is considering distributing vouchers
among lower income earners to cover higher electricity and heating costs,
Duma and Kontinent cited BSP deputy Atanas Paparizov as saying.
-- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE BACKS SUPREME COURT JUDGE.
Helsinki Committee published a declaration on 30 January raising doubts about
the legality of the possible lifting of Chief Supreme Court Judge Zef Brozi's
immunity, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the next day. The committee stated
that "the case involving Brozi may violate the legal basis of the state." Brozi
is accused of wrongdoing by releasing a Greek citizen involved in a drug case,
but the judge claims he is the victim of a campaign by President Sali Berisha
and Chief Prosecutor Alush Dragoshi. The Helsinki Committee backed Brozi,
saying the accusations against him are far removed from "legal regulations
defining criminal acts." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave