LUZHKOV: RESIGNATION A LAST RESORT.
Backtracking on his threat to resign
if Moscow Prosecutor Gennady Ponomarev and police chief Viktor Pankratov do not
retain their positions, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said he would first challenge
the dismissals in court, then consult the Moscow City Duma before giving up his
job, AFP reported on 8 March. President Boris Yeltsin sacked Ponomarev and
Pankratov in the wake of the killing of TV journalist Vladislav Listev. The
Moscow Duma protested their firing on 7 March, but added that Luzhkov's
resignation would make matters worse and play into the hands of his enemies.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said the dispute between Luzhkov and
Yeltsin boils down to a struggle over the spoils from the privatization of
state property. He asserted that a fierce battle was being waged by rivals for
property and power in postcommunist Russia and "competitors are being
eliminated" in the course of that struggle. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY MARKED WITH NOSTALGIA . . .
About 300 people
demonstrated on October Square, the site of Moscow's largest remaining statue
of Vladimir Lenin, Russian television reported on 8 March. The speakers,
including Viktor Anpilov of the hard-line Russian Communist Workers' Party,
denounced President Yeltsin, the Russian government, Mikhail Gorbachev, the
police, Moscow city authorities, and Mayor Luzhkov. Natalya Belokopytova,
president of the Congress of Soviet Women, expressed her regret that Lenin and
Stalin are not alive today. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND ANTI-WAR PROTESTS.
The Committee of Soldiers' Mothers
gathered at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow to denounce the
continuing violence in Chechnya, Russian television reported on 8 March.
Committee president Maria Kirbasova demanded the government allow alternative
service for young men, as provided for in the constitution, and complete the
transition to a professional army in the next five years. Kirbasova said the
anti-war activists will travel by bus from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody in the
northern Caucasus, holding protests in large cities along the way. In the last
week of March, Kirbasova added, Soldiers' Mothers activists from all parts of
Russia will march together on foot to Grozny and take their sons back from the
front if necessary. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
WOMEN IN THE RUSSIAN MILITARY.
On the eve of International Women's Day,
Col.-Gen. Vladimir Zhurbenko, deputy chief of the General Staff, discussed the
role of women in the Russian army, Interfax reported on 7 March. Zhurbenko said
Russia has more than 161,000 women in uniform, comprising 8.5% of the armed
forces, and that women's involvement is necessary because the army is
understaffed. No women currently hold the rank of general, Zhurbenko noted, and
only four (0.002%) have reached the level of colonel. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
FEDERATION COUNCIL CALLS FOR TIGHTER GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY.
Federation Council passed a resolution permitting Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to reprimand the cabinet members who failed to comply with
February's government resolution on aiding the farming sector with the 1995
sowing campaign, Interfax reported. The council also called on the government
to comply with a resolution on financial aid and credits to the agriculture
sector for this year. That resolution gives the government ten days to allocate
12 trillion rubles' worth of centralized credits to the agrarian sector in the
first half of 1995. Six trillion rubles are needed to purchase supplies for the
sowing campaign in the first quarter. The resolution describes the agriculture
sector's financial standing as "catastrophic." The government fulfilled only 5%
of its funding obligations for 12 federal programs aimed at increasing farm
production and only 53% of day-to-day needs in 1994. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
AGRICULTURE SECTOR LEADERS TO MEET WITH YELTSIN.
Six Federation Council
members, who are also administration heads of the Stavropol and Krasnodar
Territories and the Rostov, Saratov, Penza, and Volgograd Regions, will meet
with President Yeltsin early next week to discuss legislation concerning farm
product purchasing and the status of agriculture in general, Interfax reported
on 8 March. Yevgeny Kuznetsov, a member of the council's agroindustrial policy
committee, said the agricultural situation is "disastrous." He said the
government should stabilize fuel prices, reduce the gap between the prices of
industrial and farming goods, and make advance payments to agricultural
producers. Kuznetsov said state structures should implement the state
purchasing program, which could offer domestic agricultural producers some
protection. "Russia has turned into a dumping ground for substandard foreign
foodstuffs," Kuznetsov said. He noted that neglecting a political issue such as
the food supply would trigger social unrest. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN LANDOWNERS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE LAND LEGISLATION.
of Private Farmers and Landowners (AKKOR) congress, which ended on 3 March in
Moscow, called on parliament to enact Article 17 of the 1994 Civil Code for
legal regulation of private land ownership, AKKOR president Vladimir
Bashmachnikov told Interfax on 3 March. Bashmachnikov said the enforcement of
Article 17 is subject to parliamentary approval of a new land code, which has
been "unjustifiably delayed" by the Duma. As a result, the president said many
private farmers are unable to buy new land plots. The code should lift any
restrictions on the land as provided for in the new constitution which endorses
private land ownership. According to AKKOR, by early this year there were about
280,000 private farms in the country, which owned a combined total of 12
million hectares of farmland. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA WILL IMPLEMENT SINGLE SYSTEM FOR TREASURY BONDS.
establish a uniform national system for the issuance of treasury bonds
beginning in mid-April, according to Alexander Smirnov from the Federal
Treasury office, Interfax reported on 3 March. The uniform system will enable
the Finance Ministry to save the money it currently pays as commission to
commercial banks authorized to distribute bonds. Smirnov said 17 banks are now
distributing 7 trillion rubles (4,558 rubles/$1) worth of bonds that have
already been issued and receive commissions of up to 3%. Smirnov said the
treasury will not confiscate those bonds from the banks, but bonds issued once
the new policy is set in place must go through the single system. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
LACK OF MONEY HINDERS INTERIOR TROOPS.
Lt.-Gen. Arkady Baskayev, in
charge of the interior troops in Chechnya, told Interfax on 8 March that
financial problems were hindering efforts to relieve his contingent. "The
Finance Ministry has failed to pay . . . the funds that are needed to train
personnel and I can't send cannon fodder to Chechnya," he said. Baskayev said
the ministry owed his group 3 billion rubles for food alone, and there are
chronic shortages of gasoline. He complained that his forces has only 5-7% of
the armored vehicles they need. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
EU FOREIGN MINISTERS IN MOSCOW.
A delegation of EU foreign ministers
will meet with President Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 9
March, AFP and Reuters reported. The group includes foreign ministers Alain
Juppe of France, which holds the current EU presidency, Klaus Kinkel of
Germany, and Javier Solana of Spain. The visit was originally scheduled to
endorse the interim trade accord between the EU and Russia, which was delayed
on 6 March. The EU delegation will tell Moscow that the accord will be endorsed
only after a cease-fire is confirmed in Chechnya. Deputy Foreign Minister
Grigory Karasin said, "If Chechnya hadn't happened, they would have found
another reason for not signing [the trade accord]." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
FORMATION OF ELECTORAL COMMISSION EFFECTIVELY COMPLETED.
Yeltsin named his five members to the Central Electoral Commission, Russian TV
reported on 8 March. The new members are: Nikolai Ryabov, named as commission
chairman, Andrei Beloborodov, Yury Vedeneev, Olga Volkova, and Larisa
Tkachenko. The State Duma has already named its five members and the Federation
Council has confirmed four of its five candidates from Russia's regions and
republics. With 14 of 15 total members, the commission now has the necessary
quorum to begin working. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
BABURIN BEGINS CAMPAIGN.
The leader of the Russian National Union (ROS),
Sergey Baburin, announced that his party has begun preparations for the
parliamentary and presidential elections, Segodnya reported on 7 March.
The ROS will discuss election plans at its fourth congress on 25 March. Baburin
voiced regret that he has not been able to set up an alliance with the
Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Agrarian Party of Russia. His
party is ready to participate in the elections alone or in a coalition with
other parties. Baburin believes the parliamentary elections are of secondary
importance and that "the opposition will come to its senses" by the time of the
presidential elections and nominate a single candidate. Segodnya noted
that the Communists and nationalists are having the same difficulty as the
democratic parties in establishing a unified bloc. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
LABOR PRODUCTIVITY FALLING.
Labor productivity dropped by more than 15%
in 1994, Interfax and Ekho Moskvy reported on 8 March. A Labor Ministry
official blamed the fall on a decline in the prestige of "socially useful work"
since the onset of economic reforms and on arrears in wage payments and
"absurdly" low wages. "What is paid does not keep pace with inflation, so the
reasonable question arises: why work?" he said. The decline in labor
productivity and real wage levels since 1991 is one of the reasons why the
drastic fall in Russian industrial production has not been accompanied by mass
unemployment. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA ANNOUNCES 1995 FISHING QUOTAS.
The Russian Fishing Committee
announced the country's quotas for fishing in foreign economic zones in 1995,
Interfax reported on 7 March. The report said foreign states granted Russia
quotas amounting to 981,400 tons for 1995, while Russian fishermen, including
private companies, caught only 799,000 tons of fish in 1994 given a quota of
1,009,700 tons. Last year, the Russian fishing fleet worked in the 200-mile
economic zones of 17 states, including Japan, North Korea, China, Norway, and
Canada. The report noted that numbers were down due to a "lack of worthy
concentrations" of fish in certain areas. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
TAJIKISTAN-FACED WITH SEVERE GRAIN SHORTAGE.
An official from the bread
product ministry said Tajikistan desperately needs to purchase grain, Interfax
reported. The target figure for grain was 1.5 million tons for 1994 while the
actual yield came to just 0.2 million tons. In 1993, Tajikistan purchased grain
from countries outside the CIS, such as Austria, Britain, the Netherlands,
Switzerland, and the U.S. and 1994, from Kazakhstan. At present, the country
urgently needs at least 1.2 million tons of grain. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI,
CZECH DELEGATION IN CENTRAL ASIA.
Led by Foreign Minister Josef
Zieleniec, a Czech government delegation visiting Central Asia arrived in
Uzbekistan on 8 March, Interfax reported. The delegation, which includes forty
business people, will be seeking to identify fields of cooperation. Zieleniec
plans to meet with officials of the Uzbek Foreign Economic Relations Ministry
and is due to meet with President Islam Karimov. According to Lidove
Noviny of 8 March, Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev told Czech journalists at
a press conference a day earlier that Kyrgyzstan has great interest in trade
and economic relations with the Czech Republic and that negotiations on
concrete projects will be initiated soon. -- Lowell A. Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
NEW POLISH GOVERNMENT SETS TO WORK.
At its first session on 7 March,
Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy ordered the new cabinet to present only the
government's position (and not individual or party opinions) in public. He also
made attendance at all cabinet sessions mandatory. Cabinet veterans commented
that Oleksy's style differed dramatically from that of his predecessor:
"Deliberations run smoothly, and proposals are always followed by decisions,"
Transport Minister Boguslaw Liberadzki said. On 8 March, Oleksy appointed Marek
Pol, the outgoing industry minister, as plenipotentiary responsible for the
consolidation of the economic ministries. The Democratic Left Alliance was
forced to yield the industry portfolio to the Polish Peasant Party as part of
the new coalition deal, but Oleksy clearly wanted to retain Pol in some
capacity. In an interview with Radio Warsaw on 9 March, the new agriculture
minister, Roman Jagielinski, signaled a policy departure by arguing that only
700,000 of Poland's more than 2 million farms can survive in true market
conditions. The remainder would have to find supplemental sources of income, he
indicated, but these could not be provided by the state budget. As promised,
President Lech Walesa signed the 1995 budget into law on 7 March. -- Louisa
Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH FOREIGN POLICY STABLE.
At a press conference on 7 March, the new
foreign minister, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, said his first move in office would
be to appoint an ambassador to the Vatican. That post has been vacant for
almost a year. He said action on the concordat is a priority but failed to
indicate whether the new government as a whole supports ratification. The
Foreign Ministry will be the sole source of foreign policy, and the practice of
various ministries and political parties sending uncoordinated missions abroad,
which flourished under the last government, will be curtailed. He also
supported the establishment of an apolitical diplomatic corps. Gazeta
Wyborcza quoted unofficial sources as saying that Bartoszewski plans to
appoint Andrzej Ananicz as his first deputy. Ananicz served as deputy foreign
minister under Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski before moving to the
president's office in February 1994. He was also one of President Lech Walesa's
recent candidates for the ministerial post. Speaking at NATO headquarters in
Brussels on 8 March, Deputy Defense Minister Jerzy Milewski stressed that "full
membership . . . without preconditions" is Poland's strategic goal. He said
Poland will not accept limited membership of the sort demanded by Russia and
will not rule out stationing NATO troops in Poland. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI,
NATIONAL BANK OF UKRAINE MOVES TO STABILIZE COMMERCIAL BANKS.
Only 20 of
the 228 commercial banks registered in Ukraine had statutory capitals exceeding
500,000 ECU as of 1 January, the National Bank of Ukraine told Interfax-Ukraine
on 7 March. Moreover, only 8 commercial banks in Ukraine have statutory
capitals over 1 million ECU. To ensure financial stabilization of the
commercial banks, the central bank issued a resolution ordering them to declare
and register minimum statutory capitals of 500,000 ECU. The banks are also
scheduled to be audited by private companies recommended by the National Bank.
Well-known foreign firms such as KPMG Peat Marwick and Deloitte & Touche
are currently auditing Prominvestbank and Hradobank, Ukraine's top commercial
banks. But the law requires that those banks be audited by Ukrainian firms as
well. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
FURTHER REVISIONS OF ESTONIAN ELECTION RESULTS.
Announcement of the
final election results has been delayed pending final results from Argentina
and the U.S., BNS reported on 8 March. Officials from the National Electoral
Committee, however, said previous reports that the Rightists had won five seats
would probably be changed because latest figures indicated that the Rightists
received only 4.997% of the votes or 0.003% shy of the needed 5%. Interior
Minister Kaido Kama won enough votes to gain a seat as an individual, so he may
be the only Rightist in the parliament. The Coalition Party and Rural Union
alliance will receive two more seats, raising their total to 43, and the Reform
Party and Center Party will have one more seat each, bringing their totals to
20 and 17, respectively. The most prominent Rightist who will probably lose his
seat is Ulo Nuglis, speaker of the parliament since 1992. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIAN CABINET ADOPTS RULES FOR FOREIGN LOANS.
State Minister for
Foreign Resources Indra Samite noted that the regulations on the distribution,
use, and payment for foreign loans, adopted on 7 March, require that at least
60% of those credits go outside Riga and the Riga district, BNS reported on 8
March. The Finance Ministry will select commercial banks to process foreign
loans, taking into account Bank of Latvia recommendations and reports by
international auditors on the previous year's earnings. The banks will not
receive loans exceeding their own capital. Foreign loans will also be used to
finance national investment programs. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLL SHOWS GROWING DISILLUSIONMENT IN LITHUANIA.
A poll conducted by the
British-Lithuanian company Baltic Surveys in November as part of the European
Union's Eurobarometer survey shows that dissatisfaction in the country's
development is growing, BNS reported on 8 March. Only 22% believed that
Lithuania was heading in the right direction, with 71% asserting the opposite.
Dissatisfaction with the development of democracy was expressed by 62%. Only
22% thought that social and economic rights were respected, with 74% asserting
the opposite. Support for a market economy was still expressed by 46%, with 37%
saying that such an economy was wrong. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS GERMAN CLAIM.
Constitutional Court on 8 March rejected an ethnic German's claim for the
return of property confiscated from his family after World War II. Under
decrees issued by President Eduard Benes, 3 million Sudeten Germans were
expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of the war and their property
expropriated. Plaintiff Rudolf Dreithaler's family was not expelled but their
house in the North Bohemian town of Liberec was seized under the decree on
"enemy property." The court rejected Dreithaler's arguments that Benes was not
empowered to issue the decree and confirmed its validity. The Munich-based
Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, the most vocal of the Sudeten German groups
still demanding the abolition of the Benes decrees, called the Constitutional
Court's decision "nationalistic and an obvious violation of the ban on
discrimination," Mlada fronta dnes reported. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI,
CZECH PRIVATIZATION CHIEF FORMALLY CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION.
chief administrator of the Czech Republic's privatization program, Jaroslav
Lizner, was formally charged on 8 March with soliciting and receiving a bribe,
Czech media reported. Lizner was arrested in October after meeting with
businessmen and carrying more than 8 million koruny in a case. He spent more
than three months in jail but was released on 2 February. State attorneys have
made formal charges against Lizner, but a date for his trial has not been set.
Lizner could face up to three years in jail if convicted. -- Steve Kettle,
HAVEL WORRIED BY POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN SLOVAKIA.
Vaclav Havel on 8 March told his Slovak counterpart, Michal Kovac, he is
worried by undemocratic political developments in Slovakia, Czech media
reported. "After President Kovac informed me about the situation in Slovakia, I
expressed my disquiet about some phenomena that awaken misgivings as to what
extent all [politicians] have adopted proven democratic forms of behavior,"
Havel said. Following their meeting at the Czech president's country residence,
Kovac said some Slovaks were dissatisfied with government's actions that they
view as undemocratic. He cited the discussion over whether Democratic Union
deputies were properly elected to the Slovak parliament and relations between
the government and himself. Both Havel and Kovac, however, judged that
Czech-Slovak relations were "above average." -- Steve Kettle, OMRI,
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES BUDGET PROPOSALS.
The Slovak parliament on 8
March approved three proposals on the budgets of the National Property Fund
(FNM) and the state health and social insurance companies. The FNM budget
includes a proposed sum of 65 million koruny for the purchase of apartments for
fund employees, a provision that raised an uproar among opposition deputies.
Democratic Union deputy Viliam Vaskovic complained that the sum is higher than
the 50 million koruny for environmental protection in the state budget, which
was passed the previous day. After the opposition raised a series of points
about the proposed budget for the General Health Insurance Company, the
parliament approved a proposal by Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota that
the discussion be closed. Following a short discussion on the Social Insurance
Company, the deputies also approved that budget. National Democratic Party
deputy Anton Hrnko later complained that Slovak Television's report on the
session was "one-sided" because it did not convey the mood of the discussion,
Pravda reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
FOREIGN-CURRENCY RESERVES OF SLOVAK NATIONAL BANK EXCEED $2 BILLION.
Slovak National Bank Governor Vladimir Masar on 8 March informed journalists
that the bank's foreign currency reserves exceed $2 billion, Pravda
reports. Foreign currency reserves at commercial banks total $1.478 billion,
pushing Slovakia's total to $3.508 billion, excluding gold. Meanwhile, a 9
March Praca report on the country's economy at the end of January showed
annual inflation at 11.7%, an unemployment rate of 15.2%, a trade deficit of
0.7 billion koruny, and a state budget deficit of 2 billion koruny. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN BUDGET DEFICIT.
According to data released by the Finance
Ministry on 8 March, Hungary's budget deficit at the end of February amounted
to 83.6 billion forint or almost 30% of the year-end target, MTI reports. A
spokesman for the ministry warned that effective measures are needed to prevent
or cut the further growth of the deficit. He pointed out that revenues totaled
168.5 billion forint, which was far less than planned, while expenditures rose
to 252.1 billion forint. Revenues from privatization, which were expected to
reach 25 billion forint during the first two months of the year, did not
materialize at all, the spokesman said. Consumption-related revenues were half
of the two-month target, and net value-added tax revenues were only 0.4% of the
annual target. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
STRONG PRESSURE ON CROATIA TO ALLOW UNPROFOR TO STAY.
reported on 9 March that Zagreb has never been under such pressure from its
friends as it is now, following President Franjo Tudjman's decision not to
renew UNPROFOR's mandate when it runs out on 31 March. The paper quotes Foreign
Minister Mate Granic as saying that Croatia stands to have all its foreign
relations "frozen" if it does not change its mind. Nasa Borba, however,
suggests that a deal is indeed in the offing, with Croatia "seeking a high
price" to allow a limited amount of peacekeepers to remain. It is unclear
exactly what would be involved in such an arrangement. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
MOVES TO SHORE UP CROATIAN-MUSLIM FEDERATION.
The 8 March Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung covered the talks near Bonn between Foreign Minister
Klaus Kinkel and the Croatian and Muslim leaders of the Bosnian federation,
Kresimir Zubak and Ejup Ganic. Germany and the U.S. are in the forefront of
efforts to breathe life into the federation, which still exists largely on
paper. The idea seems to be that if the Bosnian Serbs cannot be brought around
to a negotiated settlement, then at least a partial solution based on the
Croat-Muslim state must come about. But the BBC's Croatian Service on 9 March
suggests that the new Croatian-Muslim joint military command has not yet been
finalized because of Muslim objections. Vjesnik, however, quotes
Sarajevo's Oslobodjenje as indicating that the pact is a done deed after
all. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
KRAJINA SERBS READY "VOLUNTEERS."
Oslobodjenje reports that the
Croatian-Muslim pact means that the Serbs are no longer the strongest single
force in the region. Nasa Borba says that the Krajina Serbs have
nonetheless signed up an extra contingent of 5,000 "volunteers" and expect
Serbia to mobilize if war breaks out between Zagreb and Knin. The paper also
runs the story that Krajina President Milan Martic has lost a parliament vote
to unseat Prime Minister Borislav Mikelic, whom the BBC describes as more open
than Martic to talks with Zagreb. Should negotiations resume, a Croatian Social
Democratic woman's conference has called for the inclusion of women in the
talks, Novi list says. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
Nasa Borba on 9 March reported that
Italian officials have warned Ljubljana that Rome is still able to block
Slovenia's progress toward European Union membership. The warning comes in the
wake of 6 March accounts of the EU giving officials the green light to start
negotiations on an association agreement with Ljubljana. Italy recently dropped
its veto on such an agreement. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba also reported that
Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia have been extended membership in the World
Bank. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
MELESCANU DISCUSSES ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN TREATY WITH GOVERNMENT PARTNERS.
Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu on 8 March met with Gheorghe
Funar, chairman of the Party of Romanian National Unity, and Adrian Paunescu,
first deputy chairman of the Socialist Labor Party, Radio Bucharest reported.
Melescanu updated the two leaders on progress toward concluding the basic
treaty with Hungary. Funar told Romanian Television that he opposed some of the
draft's provisions. The daily Ziua reported on 8 March that it was Funar
who had leaked the draft to the press one day earlier, to the dismay of both
President Ion Iliescu and the PSDR leadership. Foreign Affairs Ministry
spokesman Mircea Geoana told a press conference in Bucharest that leaking
details on negotiations went against diplomatic practice. After the 8 March
meeting, Melescanu informed the parliament's Foreign Relations Commission that
local autonomy could be granted to administrative territories, including those
inhabited by national minorities, within the limits established by the Romanian
Constitution. Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor told the
meeting he opposed any mention of autonomy or of mutual "monitoring" of the
treaty's implementation. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN INTELLECTUALS PROTEST REVIVAL OF "SECURITATE METHODS."
Nine prominent Romanian intellectuals on 8 March protested what they see as the
Romanian Intelligence Service's use of methods employed by the secret police
under Nicolae Ceausescu. In an open letter published in the daily Romania
libera, they said an RIS agent had questioned a neighbor of the philosopher
Horia R. Patapievici, claiming that the latter was involved in
money-laundering. The agent is alleged to have drawn the neighbor's attention
to articles critical of President Ion Iliescu published by Patapievici and to
the fact that he free-lances for RFE/RL. Patapievici is at present in Germany
on a fellowship. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA ABOLISHES VISA REQUIREMENT FOR U.S. CITIZENS.
Ministry spokesman Mircea Geoana on 8 March said that Romania has decided to
"unilaterally abolish" visa requirements for U.S. citizens who visit the
country for up to 30 days, beginning 15 March. The measure is aimed at
improving relations and facilitating travel to Romania by American businessmen
in particular. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
NEW PARLIAMENT COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE 1991 KILLINGS IN ALBANIA.
Albanian parliament has set up a commission to investigate the deaths of
demonstrators during the revolt on 20 February 1991, when a statue of former
communist leader Enver Hoxha was torn down. Nine people died in the clashes,
including a 15-year-old youth. The commission will be made up of five deputies
from the Democratic Party, two Socialists, one Social Democrat, and a
representative of the other parliament parties. Democratic deputy Ali Spahiu
proposed that a monument to the victims of the revolt be erected in Tirana,
Dita reported on 9 March. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGER STRIKE IN ALBANIAN TEXTILE FACTORY.
At a textile factory in
Berat, 1,200 employees, including 700 women, began a hunger strike, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 9 March. The strike is aimed at securing negotiations
with the government on resuming production at the factory and on collective
work-contract. The workers are also demanding that the government fight
corruption within the factory. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GREECE ELECTS PRESIDENT.
Kostis Stephanopoulos was elected Greek
president on 8 March, Reuters reported the following day. Of the 300 parliament
deputies, 181 from the governing Panhellenic Socialist Movement and the
nationalist Political Spring party voted for Stephanopoulos. Athanasios
Tsaldaris of the conservative New Democracy party received 109 votes. The nine
communist deputies and one conservative independent abstained. Stephanopoulos
was a minister in governments led by New Democracy between 1974 and 1981. After
losing a battle for the chairmanship of New Democracy, he formed the Political
Renewal party, which was disbanded in 1994 after failing to win a single seat
in national and European elections. Following his election as president,
Stephanopoulos said his duty is "to remind [political parties] that solutions
enjoying the broadest possible support are the most correct, effective, and
beneficial for the country." Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou said Greece
"gained a president whose character transcends party politics." Stephanopoulos
is expected to be sworn in on 10 March. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave