WARRANT ISSUED FOR DUDAEV'S ARREST.
Russian acting Prosecutor-General
Aleksei Ilyushenko's office issued a warrant for the arrest of Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev on charges of high treason (which carries a possible
death sentence), incitement to terrorism, violation of ethnic and racial
equality, and violation of the law on referendums, Interfax and ITAR-TASS
reported on 1 February. ITAR-TASS noted that one of the charges was based on an
alleged intercepted telephone conversation between Dudaev and the leadership of
an unspecified Azerbaijani opposition party in which Dudaev called for
terrorist actions against Russia. Laying the ground for additional criminal
charges against Dudaev, Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko
claimed that Dudaev's regime had amassed 11 trillion rubles in illegal income
through trading in oil and drugs and issuing illegitimate advice notes of
payment, according to Interfax quoting Komsomolskaya pravda. The head of
the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, Salambek Khadzhiev, said Dudaev is
supported by the Russian mafia and was until recently supplied with inside
information on troop movements from Russian military headquarters in Mozdok,
Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
FIGHTING IN AND AROUND GROZNY CONTINUES.
Russian artillery bombardment
of Grozny continued on 1 February. A Chechen military spokesman denied claims
that Russian forces had succeeded in crossing the Sundzha river and had
established a bridgehead in the southeast of the city, Interfax reported.
During the night of 31 January-1 February, Russian forces also launched an
intensive artillery attack on the village of Samashki, east of Grozny, on
grounds that it was harboring Dudaev supporters, Western agencies reported. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
INTERIOR OFFICER PUT IN COMMAND IN CHECHNYA.
The commander of Russia's
Interior Troops, General Aleksandr Kulikov, has been appointed to head the
joint command of federal forces in Chechnya, Interfax reported 1 February. A
senior Defense Ministry official said the military is starting to turn over
facilities under its control to Interior Ministry troops. He added that the
North Caucasus military district would continue to give artillery and air
support to the Interior Ministry forces. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
GRACHEV REPORTED HOSPITALIZED.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had been
in the hospital for two days as of 1 February, Postfactum reported. NTV said a
ministry spokesman refused to comment on the report. The television station
noted that "the number of military leaders on sick leave is growing steadily as
the operation in Chechnya goes on." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
INGUSH DENOUNCES SHAKHRAI.
Ingushetia's Vice President Boris Agapov
denounced recent comments by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, charging
that he and the "power ministers"--military, intelligence, and police--had
"blacklisted the Ingush as a disloyal nation which has strong separatist
feelings," Interfax reported on 1 February. Agapov warned that some Russian
politicians are "looking for a pretext to influence Ingushetia." Such moves, he
claimed, would lead to a spread of the conflict from Chechnya into Ingushetia.
He expressed concern about the fact that all of the power ministries were
directly subordinate to the president. "At one time [they] were directly
subordinate to Stalin. The result is well known," he said. -- Robert Orttung,
CHECHEN CONFLICT CHANGES BALANCE OF POWER IN PARLIAMENT.
winners of the Chechen conflict are the Communist Party and their allies,
according to an analysis in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 2 February. The
Communists will benefit because, first, they opposed the war, along with a
majority of the population. Second, fighting on Russian soil helps them
discredit the president. Third, the Chechen crisis threatens a quick economic
recovery, which in turn strengthens the position of the opposition in the
upcoming elections. The main loser is Russia's Choice, under Egor Gaidar,
because his political competitors will blame him for arming, or at least
tolerating the arming, of Dzhokhar Dudaev. Russia's Choice will also be blamed
for supporting the 1993 constitution, which strengthened the Presidency, and
only asking for amendments after it went into effect. The president's decision
to ignore the Federation Council, the chamber which is supposed to handle
relations between Moscow and the regions, provoked considerable opposition to
the war in that body. In the Duma, the only party that consistently supports
the president is Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai's Party for Russian
Unity and Concord. The support of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic
Party and other nationalists is tactical and will not extend to support for
economic reform. If recent events reflect long-term trends, the article
concluded, a major change in the Duma's balance of power has taken place, which
could destabilize the Russian socio-political situation. -- Robert Orttung,
KHASBULATOV TESTIFIES ON CHECHNYA.
Former Chairman of the Supreme Soviet
Ruslan Khasbulatov testified before the special Duma commission investigating
the Chechen crisis, commission head Stanislav Govorukhin told Interfax on 1
February. The commission is currently meeting behind closed doors at the Moskva
hotel. Khasbulatov, an ethnic Chechen, has been blamed for failing to find a
solution to the crisis after Chechnya declared independence in 1991. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
RUTSKOI TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi is
planning to hold the founding congress for his Great Power movement in the near
future, Interfax reported on 1 February. When asked if he would take part in
the upcoming presidential elections, he replied, "yes, of course." -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
LUKIN AGREES THAT RUSSIAN APPLICATION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAY BE DELAYED.
The head of the Russian delegation to the Council of Europe, Vladimir
Lukin, conceded on 1 February that his country may put off its application to
join the body, Reuters reported. "We are in favor of a delay for a precise
period, which will end when negotiations on the basis of the Russian
constitution replace the military initiative [in Chechnya]," Lukin said. A CE
parliamentary committee had recommended on 30 January that consideration of
Russia's application be delayed until the Chechen situation is resolved. On 2
February, the CE parliamentary assembly was scheduled to debate a harsh
condemnation of Russian actions in Chechnya. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION TO BE FINANCED BY OIL EXPORTS?
Economic Relations Ministry has granted a company named Rostoplivo oil export
privileges in order to "finance the programs of the administrative department
of the Presidency," Izvestiya reported on 1 February. The authorities
"are secretly creating their own shadow economy," the article charged. Russian
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov denied the allegations, saying no new
companies had been added to the list of "special exporters," who handle all
Russia's oil exports, according to ITAR-TASS. The presidential administration
also rejected the claims, saying it had never heard of Rostoplivo, Reuters
reported. In December, Izvestiya caused an uproar by publishing a letter
from presidential security chief Maj.-Gen. Aleksandr Korzhakov to the prime
minister opposing plans to abolish oil export quotas. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
CHERNOMYRDIN PRIORITIZES FINANCIAL STABILIZATION.
stabilization is a priority for the Russian government in 1995, said Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin at a 1 February meeting with the Ministry of
Communications, Interfax reported. Chernomyrdin said efforts must also be made
to "lay the groundwork for the creation of a favorable atmosphere for
investment" in the Russian economy. In efforts to stimulate investment and
boost industrial production, the prime minister said his cabinet intends to
draw up a "full-scale tax reform" package which would be presented to the
government by 1 June 1995. Chernomyrdin also stressed that institutional
changes are necessary in key industrial and economic complexes. Also, steps
must be taken to address social problems--an issue that Chernomyrdin said is
"the most complicated priority of 1995." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
ABALKIN CRITICIZES RUMORED FIXED RUBLE RATE.
Academy of Sciences member
Leonid Abalkin called the proposed introduction of a fixed ruble rate a
"half-baked measure" that would hurt the Russian economy, Interfax reported on
1 February. Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin mentioned the idea of a fixed
rate at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Abalkin said
such simple methods cannot prevent the ruble's decline. The economist added he
believes the Finance Ministry would benefit if the ruble fell considerably.
With the current budget as it is--foreign borrowings are stated in dollars,
while revenues are computed in rubles--the government can exploit the exchange
rate gap to considerably increase the revenue side of the budget, Abalkin
explained. Meanwhile, the ruble took a tumble again against the U.S. dollar in
MICEX trading on 1 February, losing 11 points and closing at 4,057 rubles to
$1. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
SUBMARINE WORKERS THREATEN NEW HUNGER STRIKE.
Workers at two shipyards
in Severodvinsk have threatened to renew a hunger strike to get their pay,
Interfax reported on 1 February. Vladimir Makivchik, a union leader, said 11
workers had gone on a hunger strike on 11 January inside a nuclear-powered
submarine currently being modernized at Severodvinsk. He reported that the
Defense Ministry owed the Atomic Shipbuilding Center 231.2 billion rubles. The
workers called off their strike after five days but plan to renew it unless the
government places an order for this year with the shipyards. Another worker
said 19 other men were ready to join the strike. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
McDONALD'S CELEBRATES 5TH ANNIVERSARY IN MOSCOW.
The busiest McDonald's
hamburger restaurant in the world celebrated its 5th anniversary this week in
Moscow, AFP reported. Located on Pushkin Square, the chain has served more than
17 million Big Mac hamburgers, 33 million orders of french fries, 19 million
milk shakes and 15 million soft drinks to over 73 million customers, AFP
reported. George Cohon, vice chairman of the Moscow McDonald's, said the
restaurant's success can be attributed to the Russian people who "made our
dream a reality." In 1990, most of the raw materials, including beef, had to be
imported. Today, more than 90% of supplies come from 150 suppliers in Russia
and other CIS countries. Cohon also announced that the Ronald McDonald
Childrens' Charities of Russia would open a sports complex for disabled
children in mid-1995. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
CITY BAILS OUT DEFENSE PLANT.
The mayor of St. Petersburg has provided
an interest-free credit of 510 million rubles to the former Zhdanov Shipyard to
pay workers' wages, Russian media reported on 31 January. The reports said the
Defense Ministry had not been able to pay for ships it had ordered. Last month,
Interfax reported that two Sovremennyi-class destroyers ordered by the Navy
were lying unfinished at the shipyard. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
No report today.
CITIZENSHIP ISSUE STALLS RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY.
chief of the Ukrainian Presidential Staff, said Kiev would not sign the
Russian-Ukrainian friendship treaty if Moscow insisted on a dual-citizenship
clause, dpa reported on 1 February. Earlier, President Yeltsin had said he
would not visit Ukraine to sign the treaty if the clause was not inserted.
Moscow has been insisting that ethnic Russians in Ukraine have the right to
dual citizenship. Kiev has been opposed to this demand saying this could lead
to excessive Russian influence on national affairs, particularly in Crimea,
where some 65% of the population are ethnic Russians. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
MOSCOW POLICE ARREST FUGITIVE UKRAINE SHIPPING MAGNATE.
have arrested Pavlo Kudzhukin, fugitive director of the Ukrainian Black Sea
Shipping Company, BLASCO, and have informed the Ukrainian Security Service that
he will be extradited on 2 February to face prosecution in Kiev, dpa reported.
The state merchant shipping firm was transformed into a joint-stock company by
former President Leonid Kravchuk under suspicious circumstances. Kudzhukin
allegedly leased out about 200 Ukrainian merchant vessels under bad conditions,
which cost the country about $1 million in potential profits. When Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma launched a criminal investigation into the affair,
Kudzhukin fled to Moscow. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERS SIGN MINORITIES CONVENTION.
Twenty-one of the
33 members of the Council of Europe signed an agreement on 1 February to
develop a framework for protecting national minorities, Western agencies
report. Signatories included Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary,
and Slovenia. However, some council representatives called the document too
weak and demanded an additional protocol permitting discrimination victims to
appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN NAVY MUST PROTECT UKRAINIAN SHIPS.
The first deputy chief of
staff of the Ukrainian Navy told Interfax on 1 February that the joint Black
Sea Fleet command has relieved itself of any responsibility for Ukrainian
vessels at sea. Yuri Shalyt charged that the fleet command has shown
"indifference" toward the safety of Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea and
elsewhere. He said work was under way to create a centralized system for
controlling Ukrainian merchant shipping. "The resolution of the issue of
ensuring the safety of vessels' navigation depends not on the number of vessels
capable of fulfilling this task but on the desire of the corresponding
command," Shalyt commented. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUS ADOPTS LAW ON PRESIDENCY.
The Belarusian parliament on 1
February adopted a law on the Presidency recognizing the president as the head
of state and executive power, Interfax reports. The law stipulates those
presidential powers stated in the Law on the Election of the President, adopted
on 29 March 1994. It says the president must be at least 35 years old and a
citizen of Belarus and must have resided in the country for a minimum of 10
years. The president can neither be a deputy, nor hold posts in state or public
organizations, nor be involved in private business. The president is also head
of the Belarusian Security Council and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The parliament may dismiss the president by a two-thirds vote if the president
violates the constitution or commits a crime. The law also denies the president
the right to dismiss parliament or other legally elected state bodies. --
Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
CONFERENCE ON "COOPERATION BETWEEN THE BALTIC STATES AND EUROPE."
Speaking on 1 February at the two-day conference in Paris, Foreign Ministers
Juri Luik (Estonia), Valdis Birkavs (Latvia), and Povilas Gylys (Lithuania)
said the Baltic States' membership in NATO and the European Union would make
their democracies more stable and thus benefit all countries, including Russia,
Western agencies report. The three ministers noted that economic reforms in
their countries were surging ahead and significant progress had been made
toward reducing inflation. French European Affairs Minister Alain Lamassoure
sought to reassure the Baltic States--without offering security guarantees--by
saying "Your security is our security. If you are under threat, we are under
threat." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
NEW ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW SIGNED.
President Lennart Meri on 1
February signed the new citizenship law, passed by the parliament on 19
January, Western agencies report. The new law raises the residency requirement
to apply for citizenship from two to five years. Criticism by Russia's Foreign
Ministry that the new legislation "would strip a significant part of the
Russian speaking population of the possibility of receiving Estonian
citizenship" was rejected by Estonian officials. They said Russia failed to
understand the law and was issuing a "routine statement." The new law applies
only to current arrivals to Estonia and does not affect Soviet-era immigrants,
who can still apply for citizenship under the old legislation. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
THREE LITHUANIAN FACTIONS MOVE TOWARD CLOSER COOPERATION.
In a joint
statement issued on 1 February, the Lithuanian Democratic Party, the National
Union of Lithuania, and the Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees said
they would cooperate more closely on a parity basis, RFE/RL's Lithuanian
Service reports. With three, four, and five parliament deputies, respectively,
the factions realize that the larger Homeland Union and Lithuanian Christian
Democratic Party do not consider them equal partners as regards making
decisions but expect them to vote how they have decided. The three factions
hold weekly meetings to coordinate activities and will run joint candidates in
the 25 March local elections. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
WALESA SAID TO BE "DETERMINED" TO DISSOLVE SEJM.
After meeting with the
president on 1 February, the leaders of Poland's largest opposition party
indicated to reporters that "Lech Walesa is determined" to dissolve the
parliament. Freedom Union (UW) Chairman Tadeusz Mazowiecki said that while he
agrees with Walesa that the government has "exhausted its possibilities," his
party would support an impeachment move should the president attempt to
dissolve the parliament. The UW proposed the creation of a nonparty government
of experts as a way out of the crisis. Citing unofficial sources, Gazeta
Wyborcza reports that Walesa told the UW leaders: "I want to dissolve the
Sejm. I will use force if the deputies do not submit. We can have new elections
on 3 May." Mazowiecki told reporters that UW deputies were considering spending
4-5 February (the anticipated dates for a move by the president) in the Sejm.
Leaders of the ruling coalition generally interpreted Walesa's words as
rhetorical excess rather than real threats. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
CONFUSION PREVAILS IN PAWLAK'S ABSENCE.
According to UW leaders,
President Lech Walesa confirmed on 1 February that he had sought and received
Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak's approval to name the controversial right-wing
politician Romuald Szeremietiew to the vacant post of defense minister.
Gazeta Wyborcza reports that Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) leaders are
in a state of shock and are considering withdrawing from the governing
coalition if the report proves true. But it is reported that Pawlak telephoned
SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski from the U.S. on 1 February and denied having
proposed Szeremietiew. Asked about the nomination, Pawlak commented that "this
question seems already to be closed." SLD leaders said they would refrain from
any action until Pawlak returns on 3 February. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH-RUSSIAN DEBT SETTLED.
An agreement signed in Moscow on 30 January
seals three years of negotiations on mutual debt arising from the Soviet era,
Gazeta Wyborcza reports. The two sides settled on the "zero plus"
option, which cancels Poland's debt to Russia of an estimated 4.4 billion
transfer rubles and $2 billion and Russia's debt to Poland of roughly 7 billion
transfer rubles and $366 million. The "plus" refers to the debts of Russian and
Polish firms originating in the first years of hard currency trade (1991-92),
which will be settled by Russia's paying Poland $20 million in cash and
Poland's transferring to Russia securities worth $150 million. The two sides
also agreed on a timetable for the construction of the gas pipeline intended to
connect Russia with Western Europe via Poland. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin is now scheduled to make his oft-postponed visit to Warsaw in
February, Polish officials said. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
BUDGET PROBLEMS LIMIT POLAND'S INVOLVEMENT IN PFP.
will limit Poland's involvement in NATO's Partnership for Peace program,
Reuters reported on 1 February. Colonel Zdzislaw Czekierda, speaking for the
Polish General Staff, said the 1995 budget provides for only 40% of the funds
requested for taking part in PFP. Some projects, such as a field hospital and
a sea rescue unit, will need to be delayed, he noted. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
CZECH STUDENTS TO PAY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION.
Students entering higher
education in the next school year will have to pay for their courses but will
be able to obtain state-guaranteed bank loans, the Czech government announced
on 1 February. Fees will vary from institution to institution but are expected
to be between 2,600 and 10,400 koruny annually, Czech media report. Until now,
higher education has been free in the Czech Republic. Students already at
university or other institutions of higher education can complete their courses
without paying. The government also decided to raise pensions by an average of
12.1% from July, bringing the midpoint pension to 3,783 koruny--about half the
average monthly wage. Finally, the Czech Statistical Office reports that for
the first time since 1945, deaths exceeded births last year. For every 1,000
people in the country, 11.7 babies were born and 12 people died. -- Steve
Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT INVESTIGATION BEGINS.
The Slovak parliament commission
investigating the alleged constitutional crisis of March 1994--when the
government of Vladimir Meciar was removed from power in a no-confidence
vote--met for the first time on 1 February, Pravda reports. Five
deputies from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and two from the Slovak
National Party make up the seven-member commission, headed by MDS member Dusan
Macuska. The commission plans to invite representatives of parliament and
extraparliament parties to its weekly meetings. Its discussions will be kept
secret until the investigation is completed. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAKIA'S PRELIMINARY 1995 BUDGET.
Speaking on Slovak TV on 1 February,
Premier Vladimir Meciar said the preliminary 1995 state budget, which takes
effect after the provisional budget expires at the end of March, provides for a
budget deficit totaling 19.3 billion koruny or less than 5% of GDP. Preliminary
figures released by the Finance Ministry show the 1994 budget deficit totaled
22.854 billion koruny (5.76% of GDP) or 14 billion koruny (3.5% of GDP) when
trade clearing payments from the Czech Republic are taken into account, TASR
reports. Meanwhile, Sme reports that consumer prices in Slovakia rose at
a monthly rate of 0.6% in December. Annual inflation in 1994 was only 11.7%,
one of the lowest rates in the region. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
IZETBEGOVIC GIVES WARNING ABOUT SERBIAN ATTACKS.
News agencies on 1
February quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying that his army
could attack Serbian forces in Bosnia if the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs do not
end their attacks on his troops in the Bihac area. A UN spokesman suggested
that tensions are building up in the "Bihac pocket" because Krajina Serbs are
bringing up whole units in apparent preparation for a new offensive. Meanwhile
in Sarajevo, Serbian forces partly reopened a road to eight UN-related relief
agencies but not to civilian traffic, as the Bosnian government had wanted. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIA AND US ARE COOL TOWARD FRENCH PROPOSAL.
French Foreign Minister
Alain Juppe's proposal for a new international conference on the Bosnian
conflict has met with a cool response from the Bosnian government and the
Clinton administration. The State Department suggested this is not the time for
such a gathering, which, in any event, would require much preparation. News
agencies on 2 February also quote Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as
saying that such a meeting would only be fit for "public relations" and that it
would only give the Serbs more time to expand their conquests "by genocide and
force." Juppe is meeting with his British and German colleagues in London. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN MUSLIMS AND CROATS SIGN TOP-LEVEL MILITARY AGREEMENT.
reported on 1 February that Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic, Croatian-Muslim
federation President and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak, and their
respective military commanders, Rasim Delic and Tihomir Blaskic, met in Kresevo
in central Bosnia to discuss Croatian-Muslim tensions in the Usora and Vares
areas. The towns were Croatian centers until the 1993 internecine conflict led
to Muslim occupation and the flight or expulsion of many Croats. Remaining
Croats have complained of second-class treatment and pressure to leave. Blaskic
called the talks "exceptionally successful," and Muslim representatives
promised to reopen the road linking Vares with the Croatian center at Kiseljak.
Both sides pledged to prevent new incidents and agreed to move their joint
military command from Sarajevo to central Bosnia. The BBC reported, however,
that Croatian and Serbian members of the Bosnian Presidency, together with one
Muslim, have protested about TV footage that showed a Bosnian army brigade
wearing Islamic green headbands and carrying flags with Arabic inscriptions.
They said that the openly Islamic character of the brigade violated the
principle of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multiethnic, secular state. Fellow
Presidency members Izetbegovic and Ganic dissented, saying that freedom of
religion extends to the military. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
EUROPEAN COURT PROCEEDINGS ON MACEDONIAN EMBARGO.
The European Court on
1 February heard the positions of the EU Commission and Greece on the
Macedonian embargo, international news agencies reported the same day. The
commission says the blockade violates Article 225 of the European Treaty, which
protects freedom of trade. Greece responds that its action is backed by Article
224, which allows an EU member to take measures in case of internal unrest,
war, or serious international tension constituting a threat of war. The
proceedings are taking place behind close doors. Nova Makedonija reports
on 2 February that the EU Commission presented new documents to the court to
bolster its position. The embargo was imposed by Greece in February 1994 to
force Macedonia to change its name, flag, and constitution--which, Greece
maintains, imply territorial claims. Greece is the first EU member to be taken
to court by the commission. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET.
Romanian Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu described the meeting in Strasbourg on 1 February with his
Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Kovacs, as "very open, good, and constructive,"
Radio Bucharest reports. The two leaders also discussed bilateral relations,
including the recent tension caused by what Kovacs called "the anti-Hungarian
campaign staged in Romania by some political parties." Melescanu said the two
sides were determined to step up negotiations on concluding a much-delayed
bilateral treaty. Meanwhile, Romania's large Hungarian minority continued to be
a subject of dispute in Romania. The extreme nationalist Party of Romanian
National Unity accused the Democratic Convention of Romania of betraying
national interests by offering "irresponsible cover" to the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania, the country's main Hungarian political
organization. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN SOCIALIST DEPUTIES STAGE WALKOUT.
Most deputies of the ruling
Bulgarian Socialist Party walked out on 1 February when an opposition deputy
suggested one minute's silence to honor politicians executed 50 years ago,
Demokratsiya and Standart reported the following day. Krum
Slavov, deputy chairman of the Union of Democratic Forces, branded the
Socialists' behavior as "political cynicism." Former regents, prime ministers,
ministers, and deputies were shot on 1 February 1945 after having been
sentenced to death by a so-called People's Court. The court, set up after the
Communists took power in 1944, passed more than 2,000 death sentences from
1944-1946. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN AIRLINE SEEKS STATE LOAN.
Valeri Doganov, executive director
of state-run Balkan Airlines, said on 31 January that the company will apply
for a $67 million state credit, Reuters reported the same day. Balkan Airlines
lost $20 million in 1992 and almost as much in 1993 and 1994. Doganov said a
plan has been drawn up for a long-term investment credit from the State Fund
for Reconstruction and Development. Owing to financial problems, Balkan
Airlines will temporarily suspend flights to various destinations. It currently
has nine leased Boeing and Airbus planes and more than 50 Soviet-made aircraft
with an average age of 19 years. Doganov said that in the long term the company
will buy planes from one producer only in order to reduce maintenance costs.
The state carrier has not been subsidized by the government since 1989. --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT DECIDES NOT TO LIFT JUDGE'S IMMUNITY.
on 1 February voted by 53 to 49 not to lift Chief Supreme Court Judge Zef
Brozi's immunity, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the following day. Chief
Prosecutor Alush Dragoshi, who asked the parliament to strip Brozi of his
immunity in late December, started criminal investigations against the judge
for releasing a jailed Greek citizen involved in a drug case. The parliament
decided in early January that it had no mandate to lift Brozi's immunity, but
it had to take another vote after the supreme court ruled that the parliament
is allowed to do so. Brozi, a member of the ruling Democratic Party, was
nominated by President Sali Berisha to stamp out corruption in the judiciary.
He later accused Berisha of abandoning him in his fight. -- Fabian Schmidt,
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave