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Newsline - March 17, 1995


YAKOVLEV RESIGNS AS HEAD OF OSTANKINO, CONTINUES AT RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION.
Alexander Yakovlev resigned as the head of the Ostankino State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company on 16 March after fourteen months in office, ITAR-TASS reported. He said he "can no longer work with demagogues" and criticized the staff for a "lack of professionalism" and for blocking his attempts to reform the station. The company is known for widespread corruption in its lucrative advertising policies. Yako-vlev's resignation came immediately after a group of employees accused him of incompetence because he had never worked in a radio or television station, and appears symbolic since he will continue in his post as managing director of the newly formed Russian Public Television company, with 49% private investment, which will take over Ostankino on 1 April. After the reorganization, which is extremely unpopular among the employees, Ostankino will be a production company and Russian Public Television will take over broadcasting responsibilities, giving it the power to accept or reject Ostankino's programming, AFP reported. Yakovlev also leads the recently-formed Party of Social Democracy, which has close links to Yeltsin. His simultaneous leadership of both the station and the party will make him one of the most powerful players in the parliamentary and presidential electoral campaigns. * Robert Orttung

GRYZUNOV TO SUE GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER.
Sergei Gry-zunov, the State Press Committee chairman, plans to sue Rossiiskaya gazeta, a state-funded organ of the Russian executive branch, over a 14 March article that accused Gryzunov of misappropriating 678.8 billion rubles allocated for press subsidies and using the money for the press committee's internal budget instead, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported. Gryzunov denied the allegations and told Ekho Moskvy that Rossiiskaya gazeta's main goal is "not to allow a financial-management audit of this publication," which the press committee had begun under Gryzunov's leadership. On 27 February, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that Gryzunov would be sacked after serving as press committee chairman for five months. President Yeltsin suspended the dismissal the next day after editors-in-chief of nearly every major newspaper signed an open letter defending Gryzunov. The 14 March Rossiiskaya gazeta article charged that all the signatories had benefited from Gryzunov's favoritism in allocating funds to newspapers. * Laura Belin

FEDOROV: FINANCIAL GROUPS HOLD REAL POWER IN RUSSIA.
Boris Fedorov, former finance minister and leader of the "Forward, Russia!" movement, told a group of young politicians in Yekaterinburg that eight financial companies in Moscow wield real power in Russia, Radio Mayak reported on 16 March. Fedorov refused to name the eight companies, but he said their activities run counter to the public interest, and that "someone" profits from Russia's high crime rate. His remarks were likely aimed at the eight companies backing the new Duma faction Stability, which supports Yeltsin and opposes holding parliamentary elections scheduled for December 1995. On 16 March, Interfax quoted Fedorov as stating in Yekaterinburg that he will not run for president in 1996, because "I do not want to try on the tsar's crown." In a 17 March interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta, Fedorov said he still believes in rapid economic reform, and that his movement stands for moving toward "world civilization, a normal standard of living, and order." * Laura Belin

YELTSIN URGES CLINTON TO ATTEND VE-DAY CELEBRATIONS.
President Boris Yeltsin has urged U.S. President Bill Clinton to attend VE-Day celebrations in Moscow on 9 May, The Financial Times reported on 17 March. In a significant concession, Yeltsin offered to do away with the planned display of military might, including 10,000 troops, 250 vehicles, and 70 airplanes, Interfax reported. He said the Chechen war would not hinder Clinton's visit because all military activities there have ceased. He expressed sympathy for Clinton's difficulties with the Congress in trying to secure ratification of START-2, saying he has the "identical problem" with his parliament. Yeltsin also repeated his opposition to "a sudden, accelerated, large-scale expansion of NATO." * Michael Mihalka

CHUBAIS CRITICIZES RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE OVER DECISION NOT TO SUPPORT YELTSIN.
Anatoly Chubais, first deputy prime minister and a member of the Russia's Democratic Choice Party political council, called the council's 11 March decision not to support Yeltsin's reelection bid a "political error," Interfax reported on 16 March. Chubais said it is too early to predict the political situation in June 1996, and that Yeltsin may end up competing in a runoff against a candidate like nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, or former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi. In such a race, 95% of the members of Russia's Democratic Choice would support Yeltsin, he predicted. In response, party leader Yegor Gaidar said a future party congress would decide on the party's candidate. * Robert Orttung

DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA WILL NOT NOMINATE ITS OWN CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY.
Lev Pono-marev, co-chairman of Democratic Russia, told a meeting of voters in Nizhny Novgorod that the party will not name its own candidate for the presidential elections and will probably work with Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko bloc, Interfax reported on 16 March. Democratic Russia had been a strong supporter of Yeltsin until he began the Chechen campaign. Now it sees Yavlinsky, who has long opposed Yeltsin, as closest to its ideological position. * Robert Orttung

GROMOV'S STATUS UNCERTAIN.
While two aides of Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov said on 16 March that President Boris Yeltsin had issued a decree to relieve him of his duties as deputy defense minister, the presidential press office told Interfax it knew nothing of such a decree. Gromov--who has sharply criticized Defense Minister Pavel Grachev over the military operations in Chechnya--was named chief military expert in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February. He has kept his title of deputy defense minister. * Doug Clarke

RUBLE'S EXCHANGE RATE ME-CHANISM TO REMAIN.
Russia will not radically change its system for setting the ruble's exchange rate after receiving a $6.25 billion IMF stand-by credit, a senior official at the Central Bank told the Financial Information Agency on 16 March. The source said it is useless to reject the well-functioning system of the ruble's controlled floating exchange rate unless the economic situation warrants a fixed rate against the U.S. dollar. The bank official noted that the IMF credit was crucial to support economic reforms, but it would not be the main factor for planning and implementing the bank's interior credit-monetary policy. The ruble's floating exchange rate was introduced in July 1992. The official rate is used in accounting by commercial banks, for inter-state payments, and customs duty payments. * Thomas Sigel

CRIME ROUNDUP.
Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said at a roundtable on organized crime that state bodies are increasingly being penetrated by criminals, Radio Mayak reported on 16 March. He added that a quarter of those recently convicted for bribery worked in law enforcement. At a 14 March press conference, Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Kulikov announced that the overall crime rate rose by 5% in the first two months of 1995, compared with the same period in 1994, and that murders were up 10%, Reuters reported. Another prominent businessman, Oleg Zverev, the head of the Union of Entrepreneurs, was killed in Moscow on 13 March. The number of crimes committed by minors has risen by 74% over the last six years, Interfax reported on 15 March. The agency quoted Deputy Education Minister Mariya Lazutina as saying that most juvenile delinquents do not go to work or school and that many are homeless. However, technical and high school pupils are also committing an increasing number of offenses, she added. * Penny Morvant

VORKUTA MINING UNION LEADERS GO ON HUNGER STRIKE.
About 20 representatives of the Russian Coal Miners' Union and the Independent Trade Union of Miners in Vorkuta went on hunger strike on 16 March in support of demands that wage arrears and other state debts to the coal industry be paid in full without delay, AFP reported. The previous day, Interfax quoted Vorkuta union leader Viktor Semenov as saying the situation in the region is explosive. Miners in other parts of the country decided on 15 March to delay a protest action scheduled for 16-18 March following a meeting between First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and union officials, Interfax reported. Russian Coal Miners' Union Chairman Vitaly Budko said agreement had been reached on major grievances. Most notably, it was decided that a schedule for financing the industry in the second quarter of 1995 would be worked out within a week. The union continues to hold out the threat of industrial action if the government does not honor its commitments to the industry. * Penny Morvant

CHILINGAROV: RUSSIA SHOULD INFLUENCE NATO ON A PAR WITH U.S.
State Duma Deputy Chairman Artur Chilingarov held talks on 16 March with Karsten Voigt acting in his capacity as chairman of the North Atlantic Assembly, NATO's parliamentary arm, Interfax reported on 16 March. Voigt is also foreign policy spokesperson for the German opposition Social Democratic Party. They discussed NATO expansion, Che-chnya, and the dismissal of Sergei Kovalev as human rights commissioner. Chilingarov said it will take a long time before the Russian people understand that NATO bears them no ill-will. He added that as a nuclear power, Russia "has the right to claim influence in NATO on a par with the Americans." Voigt said Germany could more readily cooperate with Russia if countries such as Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic joined NATO. * Michael Mihalka



AZERBAIJAN GOVERNMENT TROOPS ATTACK REBELS' BASE.
Eight people were killed on 16 March when Azerbaijani government troops tried unsuccessfully to storm the Baku headquarters of rebel Interior Ministry forces under Deputy Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov, Western agencies reported. President Heidar Aliev issued a decree granting an amnesty to those insurgents who surrender their arms by 10 p.m. Baku time on 17 March. Despite assurances by Aliyev that no further attempt would be made to neutralize the rebels before then, government forces again attacked the base in the early morning of 17 March. Numerous people, including Dzha-vadov and some civilians living in the vicinity, were killed in the ensuing fighting, according to ITAR-TASS and AFP. * Liz Fuller

ENTHUSIASM OF KAZAKH OPPOSITION WANES.
"We will see this through to the end." Despite those words of poet and political activist Olzhas Suleimenov, members of the "shadow parliament" in Kazakhstan seem to be resigning themselves to the recent dismissal of the assembly by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev. The former deputies have been locked out of their offices, had their phone lines cut, and are presently kept from entering the parliament building by security forces. The group of 72 deputies who began a three-day hunger strike on 15 March numbered only 22 by day's end on 16 March, according to Interfax. Only a handful of people turned up for a planned meeting of the "People's Parliament," on 16 March, Reuters reported. * Bruce Pannier

DRUG TRAFFICKING IN CENTRAL ASIA CAUSE FOR ALARM.
The dramatic increase in drug use and narcotics related business has prompted the UN Program for Drug Control to place special emphasis on efforts to combat the problem immediately before the area becomes a new Columbia. Arrests connected to narcotics have risen from 909 in 1990 to 2544 in 1994, Slovo Kyrgyzstana reported on 1 March. Tajikistan is also experiencing a crisis with two major drug-trafficking routes running through the republic: one from Gorno-Badakhshan to the Kyrgyz city of Osh and the other from Fedzhikent in northern Tajikistan through the Uzbek cities of Samarkand and Urgut to Turkmenistan and Russia. Central Asian leaders will meet in September or October to sign an agreement on cooperation in fighting the threat, Interfax reported. * Bruce Pannier



SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY AGREE ON BILATERAL TREATY...
Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn, meeting on 16 March in Bratislava, agreed on the wording of the Slovak-Hungarian basic treaty, Pravda reported. Meciar said progress had been made toward the "strengthening of trust, cooperation, and friendship between our states and nations." Horn seconded Meciar's statement, saying that "to each question we found a responsible solution. What I consider to be particularly important [is that] the basic agreement meets European norms and requirements." The Hungarian premier also expressed satisfaction that the treaty will be signed on 20 March in Paris, before the EU Conference on the Pact of Stability opens in Paris on 20 March. He said this will demonstrate that it is possible in Central Europe to reach an agreement without the use of weapons and to create peaceful conditions for relations between states. The text of the agreement is being reviewed by experts on 17 March, and for that reason further details were not revealed. * Sharon Fisher

...WHILE HUNGARY, ROMANIA CONTINUE TO DISAGREE.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, failed to bridge differences of opinion over the text of a bilateral treaty when they met in Budapest on 16 March, MTI and Western news agencies report. Hungarian minority rights were the chief stumbling block to reaching an agreement. Hungary wants to incorporate in the treaty a 1993 Council of Europe recommendation foreseeing "local or autonomous authorities or a special status" for minorities. Romania fears that such autonomy could lead to unilateral secession. Kovacs also reported differences of opinion over the use of minority languages; the interpretation of the right of assembly, in particular the founding of political parties; and compensation to Churches for injustices under communism. Hungary and Romania have come under intense pressure from European and U.S. diplomats to sign a basic treaty before the 20 March EU conference. * Edith Oltay

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 1995 PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM.
The Crimean parliament has approved a 1995 privatization plan aimed at transferring up to 30% of state-owned enterprises to private hands by the end of the year, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16 March. The program provides for privatization to be carried out on the basis of Ukrainian legislation, which calls for distributing privatization vouchers to all citizens through State Savings Banks. Some 100,000 Crimeans have already claimed their vouchers. These can be traded in for shares in large enterprises at special voucher auctions. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE NEGOTIATES WITH TURKMENISTAN ON GAS SUPPLIES.
The Turkmen company Turkmenelektro has said it may resume supplying Ukraine with gas in exchange for Ukrainian manufactured goods, Ukrainian Television reported on 16 March. Turkmenelektro has reportedly concluded an agreement with the Ukrainian firm Iskra, in Mykolaiv, to supply enterprises in the area with gas and to receive in return machinery produced by Iskra. Turkmenistan cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine in February 1994 because Kiev failed to make payments on a debt of more than $700 million. That debt now tops $1 billion, and Kiev and Ashgabat have been unable to reach agreement on payment and supplies. In other related news, the Ukrainian government has approved a plan for the first phase of construction of a oil terminal near the port city of Odessa, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16 March. The terminal is expected to be able to process shipments of up to 40 million tons of crude oil a year. * Ustina Markus and Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN NAVY CHIEF STAYS ON THE JOB.
Vice Admiral Vladimir Bezkorovainy, commander of the Ukrainian Navy, said on 16 March that he had withdrawn his resignation submitted several days earlier. Reuters quoted Bezkorovainy as saying that talk of his resignation was "premature." While he had cited poor health as the reason for stepping down, the agency reported that he had been angry at Kiev's interference in the running of the navy. In particular, he was said to have resisted an order from Defense Minister Valery Shmarov to halve the crew of the navy's flagship as a cost-cutting measure. Bezkorovainy said he had found "support and understanding" when he met with Shmarov earlier in the week. * Doug Clarke

COURT ACQUITS FORMER ESTONIAN PREMIER.
The Tallinn City Court on 16 March acquitted Indrek Toome of charges of attempting to bribe a police official, BNS reported. Toome, who was prime minister from 1988 to 1990, was arrested on 28 November 1994 after giving a police official 30,000 kroons ($2,400) in exchange for three forged passports. The court accepted defense attorneys' claims that Toome fell into a trap set by the police, which had used methods not yet approved by law. Defense Police Chief Juri Pihl said that the court verdict indicated that Toome was guilty since the 30,000 kroons were confiscated. State Prosecutor Andres Ulviste is appealing the verdict. * Saulius Girnius

OSTANKINO TO RETURN TO LI-THUANIA.
Broadcasts of Russian Ostankino TV programs, which were halted in early February after Lit-poliinter TV declared bankruptcy, will soon resume in Lithuania. The Lithuanian Radio and TV Board on 14 March declared that the new Free Independent Channel has won the contest to take over the channel that Litpoliinter used, BNS reported. FIC will transmit at its own cost Ostankino's main newscasts and selected cultural programs. Broadcasts are to run at least 18 hours a day. FIC's founders include the state-owned Lithuanian Agricultural Bank, the Lithuanian Workers' Union, and the joint-stock company Vingis, formed by some former Litpoliinter employees. * Saulius Girnius

BATTLE BREWING OVER POLISH TAX RATES.
The Sejm will decide within a month whether to uphold the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling that the 1995 tax rates violate the constitution, Sejm speaker Jozef Zych told reporters on 16 March. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy confirmed that budget necessity will force the ruling coalition to vote to overturn it, though not without "a certain legal distaste." Finance Ministry officials estimate that lower tax rates would deprive the budget of at most 1.1 billion zloty ($460 million) in planned revenues. But Rzeczpospolita argued that such calculations are misleading, as this year's unexpectedly high inflation would cover the budgetary gap. President Lech Walesa threatened to take action should the parliament continue to break the law (the first use of such rhetoric since the new government took office). Meanwhile, the opposition Freedom Union submitted a parliament motion to remove Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko from office, on the grounds of a tax directive cited by the Constitutional Tribunal as an egregious violation of the law. * Louisa Vinton

POLISH GROWTH RATE SLOWING?
The Main Statistical Office (GUS) reported on 16 March that industrial production rose by 14.5% in February compared with the same month in 1994. Exports were up by 35.8% year-on-year in dollar terms, and unemployment fell to 15.8%. But growth rates for both industrial production and exports, while still very positive, have been slowing since November 1994, Rzeczpospolita reported. Prices rose by 2.1% in February. GUS revised upward, from 3.9% to 4.1%, its inflation count for January. The year-on-year inflation rate amounted to 33.6% in February, inching up from 33.4% in January. The Agriculture Ministry predicted on 15 March that food prices (one of the chief factors driving inflation) would rise by 25-29% this year; if import barriers are retained, the increase could be as high as 39%. * Louisa Vinton

FIRST CZECH CONVICTED OF DEFAMING HAVEL.
A court in Kromeriz on 16 March sentenced a 62-year-old Czech to four months in jail, suspended for one year, for defaming President Vaclav Havel. Zdenek Svarovsky became the first person since 1989 to be convicted of defaming the head of state, Mlada fronta dnes reported. In Czech-language papers published in the U.S. and also distributed in Canada and the Czech Republic, Svarovsky termed Havel a traitor and false prophet and claimed he had been a member of the Communist Party until 1967. At Havel's prompting, the Constitutional Court last year removed provisions from the criminal code making it an offense to defame the government and parliament, but anyone convicted of defaming the president can still be jailed for up to two years. Havel's spokesman said the president would not comment on the Svarovsky case. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK NATIONAL BANK LOWERS DISCOUNT RATE.
The Slovak National Bank's discount rate is to be lowered from 12% to 11% beginning 17 March, Pravda reports. The bank justified the decision by saying inflation in February reached only 0.5%. In other economic news, the Slovak Statistical Office reports that GDP reached 398.3 billion koruny in 1994, representing a nominal annual growth rate of 17.1% and a real growth rate of 4.8%. Average monthly nominal wages grew 17% in 1994, while real wages rose by 3%. Labor productivity at current prices grew 18.2% and nominal wages 17.0%, Praca reports on 17 March. * Sharon Fisher



CROATIAN AND MUSLIM LEADERS GATHER IN WASHINGTON.
Meetings took place on 16 March to mark the first anniversary of the U.S.-sponsored Croatian-Muslim federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vecernji list on 17 March said that Presidents Franjo Tudjman and Bill Clinton held a private discussion for about an hour before Tudjman went on to New York to talk with UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali. Both meetings presumably focused on the future of international peacekeeping operations in Croatia. Bosnian Croat leader and federal President Kresimir Zubak was the only original signatory present in Washington, although Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic took part via a video hookup while visiting Bonn. From there, he told reporters that there will be no extension of the current cease-fire unless the Serbs accept the Contact Group's peace plan, since the present arrangement only freezes Serbian conquests. In Washington, Bosnian and federal Vice President Ejup Ganic called on Clinton to pressure Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize his government's sovereignty over Bosnia and Herzegovina. * Patrick Moore

SANTIC AFFAIR CASTS SHADOW OVER FESTIVITIES.
While the VOA's broadcasts in Serbo-Croatian on 17 March stress the positive aspects of the federation, the BBC's emphasize its problems. One commentator called it "an anti-Serbian political idea" that has achieved nothing except to stop the 1993 Croatian-Muslim war. The BBC discussed at length the tensions stemming from the kidnapping in the Bihac pocket on 8 March of the Bosnian Croat commander there, General Vlado Santic. The Muslims have admitted that their military police were last seen with him after a drinking session but deny knowing where he is now. One theory holds that he has been killed in a settling of old scores, while another suggests it is the work of rogue Muslims who have never wanted peace with the Croats. The BBC and Nasa Borba both quote Bosnian Croat representatives as saying they are "freezing" official contacts with the Muslims until the affair is cleared up. * Patrick Moore

DIFFERING AGENDAS IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA?
Nasa Borba on 17 March, reporting on apparent differences of strategies among the five countries of the Contact Group, says Russia is interested primarily in shoring up its status as a great power. Britain and France, the paper continues, wants to prevent conflict; but fears of an alleged American or German preponderance in the post-1989 world have long been evident in their policies in the former Yugoslavia. Those policies often seem aimed at shoring up the Serbs and blocking the Croats and Muslims, who are perceived in London and Paris as clients of Bonn or Washington. The article adds that in reality, the U.S.'s "special relationship" in Europe is now with Germany, not Britain. The Frankfurter Allge-meine Zeitung picks up the theme, noting that Washington and Bonn are in the forefront of efforts to bolster the Croatian-Muslim alliance. That federation "is the cornerstone on which the Contact Group's peace plan rests, not the other way around," the German daily comments. * Patrick Moore

RUMP YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROME.
Vladislav Jovanovic met briefly with his Italian counterpart, Susanna Agnelli, in Rome on 16 March, Nasa Borba reported the next day. The leaders described the meeting, which focused in part on international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, in positive terms. Agnelli added that Italy may support the idea of easing the embargo. Nasa Borba also adds that Jovanovic is expected to meet with Vatican officials. * Stan Markotich

MILOSEVIC MEETS WITH PAVLE?
According to Nasa Borba on 17 March, "Belgrade political circles" have revealed that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic recently held "secret" talks with the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle. Sources within the Church have not confirmed those reports, but nor have they denied them. High Church officials from the Republic of Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina are believed to have attended the meeting, which reportedly included discussion of Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic's recent contacts with Vatican officials. * Stan Markotich

MACEDONIA WANTS CHANGE IN STATUS OF UN TROOPS.
Macedonia is demanding that the UN peacekeeping forces stationed on its territory be made independent of the UN forces in the former Yugoslavia, AFP reported on 16 March. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali was quoted as saying that, like Croatia, Macedonia wants an "independent operation that is not linked to other countries" that were part of Yugoslavia. Macedonian Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski said that the government is seeking a new mandate with a "separate military, logistical and administrative structure under a special [UN] representative." The UNPROFOR mandate in Croatia expires on 31 March. Some 1,100 peacekeepers are currently in Macedonia. * Stefan Krause

U.S., ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS EXCHANGE LETTERS.
U.S. President Bill Clinton, in a letter to his Romanian counterpart, Ion Iliescu, dated 13 March, welcomed Romania's intention to join NATO, Radio Bucharest reported on 16 March He also praised efforts by the Romanian and Hungarian governments to sign a bilateral treaty as soon as possible, saying that it is particularly important to avert conflicts and tension in Central Europe in order to maintain stability in the region. He stressed that the U.S. was prepared to support Romania's democratization and economic reforms. In his reply on 16 March, Iliescu hailed Clinton's message as signaling a "friendly and benevolent stance toward Romania." He repeated his invitation to Clinton, issued last September in Washington, to visit Romania. * Dan Ionescu

RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER POSTPONES VISIT TO BULGARIA.
Viktor Chernomyrdin has postponed a visit to Sofia scheduled for 23-25 March, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 17 March. Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Aleksandr Avdeev said that the postponement was due to Russian domestic reasons and to the fact that President Boris Yeltsin is going on vacation on 27 March. But had added that Chernomyrdin will come "at the end of spring." Avdeev denied that disputes over Russia's $100 million debt to Bulgaria or Sofia's aspirations to join NATO were reasons for postponing the visit. * Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTOR SHUT DOWN AFTER LEAKS.
The No. 5 Reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant was shut down on 16 March, AFP reported the same day. The reactor had to be turned off after a leak was discovered in a generator cooling system. Officials at the power plant said the incident posed no danger of a radioactive leak, as the generator is located outside the reactor's nuclear core. Ivan Ivanov, deputy director of the Kozloduy power plant, was quoted by Bulgarian Radio as saying that the pipeline will be repaired within 24 hours and that the reactor will then be operational again. * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT REFUSES TO LIFT LEGISLATORS' IMMUNITY.
The Albanian parliament on 16 March refused to lift the immunity of two deputies from the ruling Democratic Party, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the next day. The prosecutor-general asked for former Finance Minister Genc Ruli and former Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Rexhep Uka to be stripped of their immunity in order to investigate allegations of abuse of office and corruption. Sixty-three legislators voted against lifting their immunity, while 44 cast their ballot in favor. * Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN BUDGET FOR 1995.
The Albanian Finance Ministry has presented the 1995 budget after consultations with the International Monetary Fund, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 16 March. The government expects revenues to total 53.4 billion lek (compared with 46,2 billion in 1994) and expenditures 87.2 billion lek (72.9 billion). The budget deficit is expected to increase from 26.8 to 33.9 billion lek but would fall from 8% to 7% of GDP. One US dollar is about 92 lek. * Fabian Schmidt

As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave







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