DUMA ADOPTS FINAL VERSION OF ELECTORAL LAW.
The State Duma passed a bill
on presidential elections by a vote of 284-1 with one abstention on 24 March
and sent it to the Federation Council, Interfax reported. In order to be listed
on the ballot, potential candidates will be required to collect 1.5 million
signatures, down half a million from the originally proposed figure. The Duma
rejected a proposal by Yabloko's Viktor Sheinis to reduce the minimum voter
turnout for the elections to be valid from 50% to 25%. By a vote of 257 to 37,
with one abstention, the Duma also approved the bill "On Elections of State
Duma Deputies." The Duma affirmed its decision to elect 225 deputies by party
list and 225 by single-member district, a provision President Yeltsin wants to
change. All parties and electoral associations have to collect 200,000
signatures to participate, with no more than 7% of the signatures coming from
any one part of the Russian Federation. For both laws, the Duma approved a
provision calling for mandatory oversight of the electronic vote-counting
system. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
OSCE FINISHES MISSION IN NORTH CAUCASUS.
The OSCE has finished its
latest mission to the North Caucasus after being refused entry to Shali because
the Russian military said it could not guarantee the group's security,
international agencies reported on 26 March. Delegation head Istvan Gyarmati
reported that the Russian military had committed human rights violations on a
greater scale than the Chechen forces. He also expressed optimism that this
April the OSCE will open a permanent office in Grozny to monitor human rights.
Meanwhile, a European Parliament delegation was turned back in its attempt to
enter Chechnya from Ingushetia. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
RYBKIN WILL RUN FOR PARLIAMENT IN DECEMBER.
Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin
said he will run for reelection in the December 1995 elections, Interfax
reported on 24 March. He has not decided whether to run on a party ticket or in
a single-member district. In 1993, he was elected by the Agrarian Party. He
also said he might run for president in 1996, depending on whether Boris
Yeltsin decides to do so. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA-96 MOVEMENT HOLDS CONSTITUENT CONGRESS.
Sixty delegates from 48
subjects of the Russian Federation took part in a constituent congress of the
new political movement Duma-96, Segodnya reported on 25 March. The
organization announced that it stands for pooling the resources of qualified
specialists to promote "greater professionalism" in both the executive and
legislative branches. Some deputies in the Duma have formed a faction to
support the Duma-96 movement, but they do not yet have the 35 members needed
for official registration. Vladimir Kvasov, a deputy associated with the group,
said Duma-96 does not have "big political goals," but that more professionals
are needed in government, since "the people who are now at the helm" cannot
solve Russia's economic crisis. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
UNION OF REALISTS HOLDS FOUNDING CONFERENCE.
The Union of Realists
announced plans to lead Russia out of its "deadlock" at its founding conference
in Moscow on 25 March, Interfax reported. The movement expressed its
willingness to cooperate with all centrist and leftist parties, including the
Communist Party. The union's leader, Yury Petrov, said it was conceived to
"unite the potential of numerous political parties and movements" for the
common good of Russia, Rossiiskie Vesti reported on 23 March. Although
Petrov has known Yeltsin for many years (they both worked in the Sverdlovsk
administration during the Soviet period) and was once Yeltsin's chief of staff,
he told Rossiiskie vesti that the union will be independent and is not
designed to support the president. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
RUTSKOI EXPELLED FROM RUSSIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S PARTY.
Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic People's Party (RSDPP) formally
expelled Chairman Alexander Rutskoi and abolished the post of party chairman,
Segodnya reported on 25 March. The expulsion was mainly symbolic, as
Rutskoi had been at odds with the majority of the party board since early
February. Rutskoi had proposed merging the RSDPP with his Derzhava movement,
but Vasily Lipitsky and other board members favored associating with Lipitsky's
Russian Social-Democratic Union. About 20 of the 46 regional branches of the
party supported Rutskoi at the congress, and the split followed geographical
lines: delegates from southern Russian areas backed Rutskoi, while Siberian and
northwestern regions supported Lipitsky. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
COMMUNISTS TO SUPPORT 12 APRIL PROTEST.
Gennady Zyuganov's Communist
Party of the Russian Federation will support the day of protest called by trade
unions for 12 April, the party's executive committee announced on 24 March. The
party regards its participation in the action as "the beginning of long-term,
nationwide cooperation between Communists and trade unions," Interfax reported.
It said the fact that workers are making political demands shows they
understand the "unpopular character" of the regime's policies and "the
incompatibility of the present constitutional system with their basic
interests." Union organizations in Primorsky Krai announced on 24 March that
they will stage protests throughout the region on 12 April. The main rally will
be in Vladivostok, ITAR-TASS reported. The unions are angry about wage delays,
unemployment, inflation, and rising crime. According to the 24 March issue of
Pravda, workers in Khabarovsk Krai will demand the government's
resignation and early presidential elections while agriculture workers in Altai
will hold a warning strike to protest the declining profitability of
agricultural enterprises there. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION.
signed a decree on 25 March that aims to speed up the destruction of some
40,000 metric tons of chemical warfare agents stored on Russian territory,
ITAR-TASS reported. The toxic agent will be destroyed at specially-built
facilities near current storage sites and the safety of local inhabitants will
be the primary factor in the sites' design. Yuri Baturin, Yeltsin's national
security aid who was named to head the interdepartmental Commission on Chemical
Disarmament, explained on NTV that many of the storage sites were near--and
even in--populated areas. He said the development of a "social infrastructure"
for those regions would precede work on the destruction sites. -- Doug Clarke,
GOVERNMENT APPROVES MID-TERM REFORM PROGRAM.
The government approved a
program on reform and development of the Russian economy in 1995-97, Russian
and Western agencies reported on 24 March. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
assessed Russia's battered economy with cautious optimism. He cited slowing
inflation and stabilization in GDP as evidence of positive changes that are
nonetheless "still very fragile." Chernomyrdin said if the government holds to
its budget targets, inflation should eventually fall to around 4% per month. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
RUBLE LOSES 11 POINTS.
The Russian ruble lost 11 points in MICEX trading
on 24 March, closing at 4,867 rubles to $1, the Financial Information Agency
reported. Initial demand was $64.24 million with initial supply at $53.67
million. Forty-nine commercial banks participated. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
FOREIGN TRADE VIOLATIONS LIKELY.
The abolition of special export
privileges which went into effect on 25 March could mean an increase in trade
violations, according to Igor Mitrofanov, head of the Foreign Economic Relation
Ministry's Export-Import Department. Mitrofanov told Interfax on 24 March that
he predicts violations will occur particularly in exports of oil and
non-ferrous metals for hard currency. He acknowledged the possibility that
dishonest exporters could try to export raw commodities in high demand and keep
much of the hard currency proceeds in foreign banks. Mitrofanov also expects
the documented value of deals to be significantly lower than the actual value.
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
REFERENDUM HELD IN UZBEKISTAN.
Uzbek voters were asked if they agreed
with extending the term in office of President Islam Karimov in a referendum
held on 26 March, international media reported. On 27 March, the
government-controlled Uzbek Radio announced, "Our people unanimously voted" for
a three-year extension of Karimov's term, which would have expired in 1997.
Some 11 million voters went to the polls. The alleged purpose of the referendum
was to synchronize future parliament and presidential elections. Balloting was
held in public, not secret. International observers were not invited to monitor
the referendum. The results, which will be officially announced in some 10
days, had been widely expected to favor an extension. Karimov said if the
results of the referendum are positive, he intends to consider the additional
three years as the second term of his presidency, Interfax reported on 26
March. According to the Uzbek Constitution, the president may not be elected to
more than two terms. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
WORLD BANK TO GRANT UZBEKISTAN REHABILITATION CREDIT.
A credit worth
$160 million to stabilize Uzbek national currency, the sum, is to be extended
by the World Bank, FIA reported on 25 March. The credit may be granted for 20
years under a floating interest rate between 7% and 7.5% and would be revised
once every six months. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
WORLD BANK CONSIDERS LOANS TO AZERBAIJAN.
The World Bank is considering
four separate loans for Azerbaijan worth $150 million, Interfax and an RFE/RL
correspondent reported on 24 March. A World Bank spokesman said the projects
under consideration are a $65 million rehabilitation loan to help redress
Azerbaijan's balance of payments problem, $45 million to modernize the Baku
water supply, $20 million to develop a market infrastructure, and $20 million
to update the country's oil industry. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
AZERBAIJAN POPULAR FRONT CONGRESS BANNED.
The Baku city commandant
barred the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front from holding its third congress
in the city on 25 March, Interfax and Western agencies reported on 25 March
quoting the front's deputy chairman Asim MollaZade. He said the front now hoped
to hold the congress on 7 April. The ban follows earlier reprisals against the
front in the wake of the failed coup attempt in Baku on 15 March. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
TURKMENISTAN, PAKISTAN TO BUILD PIPELINE.
An agreement on the
construction of a pipeline to carry Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan to
Pakistani consumers was published in Turkmenistan on 17 March, according to
ITAR-TASS. Pakistan is proposing to buy up to 20 billion cubic meters of gas
from Turkmenistan annually for 30 years, PIA reported on 24 March. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
SOSKOVETS, DUMA ON UKRAINE.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets has refused to comment on remarks by several Duma deputies that he
does not understand the political situation and he rejects charges that he
betrayed the interests of Russia and Russians living abroad in his negotiations
with Ukraine, Ukrainian Radio reported on 24 March. Soskovets said it is time
to acknowledge that Ukraine is an independent state with the right to run its
internal affairs independently. He added that regardless of who will run the
Kremlin, Ukrainian-Russian relations will continue to develop in that vein.
Since Kiev's 17 March decrees on Crimea, several Russian deputies led by
Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, have
criticized Ukraine and called for a reassessment of relations between the two
countries. On 24 March, Interfax reported that leaders of nine parliamentary
factions in the Duma asked President Yeltsin to hold a special session to
discuss Russia's relations with Ukraine. The nine factions were: the Agrarian
Party; the Communist Party; Women of Russia; the Liberal Democrats; the
Democratic Party of Russia; the Party of Russian Unity and Accord; Yabloko; the
New Regional Policy Party; the Stability Group. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
LEFT LOSES IN LITHUANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
Although the ruling Lithuanian
Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) doubled its share of deputies in the 56 city and
raion councils in the 25 March elections, it was a clear loser, RFE/RL's
Lithuanian Service reported on 26 March. The Homeland Union won 29.1% of the
vote and obtained 426 seats; the LDLP, 19.9% and 291 seats; the Christian
Democratic Party, 16.9% and 247 seats; and the Peasants' Party, 6.9% and 101
seats. The Polish Electoral Alliance won 55 seats, including 19 of the 27 seats
in the Vilnius raion. The Center Union, the Social Democratic Party, the Union
of Political Prisoners and Deportees, and the National Union won 74, 72, 56,
and 49 seats, respectively. Turnout was only 42.5%, but the vote demonstrates
considerable dissatisfaction with the current government. -- Saulius Girnius,
RUSSIA PROTESTS EXPULSION FROM ESTONIA.
The expulsion on 24 March of
Petr Rozhok, representative of the ultra-nationalist Russian Liberal Democratic
Party, prompted the Russian State Duma to pass a non-binding resolution to
impose economic sanctions against Estonia, BNS reported. Estonia's Citizenship
and Migration Department on 22 March ordered Rozhok to leave the country within
24 hours, charging him with "inciting ethnic, racial, and religious enmity." He
was arrested and escorted to a train to Moscow. Although the Russian embassy in
Tallinn and the Russian Foreign Ministry protested the expulsion of Rozhok as
an abuse of human rights, he was not welcomed in Moscow's train station by
representatives of his party, nor did the media cover his arrival. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RESCHEDULES CRIMEAN ELECTIONS.
legislators on 24 March voted by 249 to 15 to reschedule municipal elections in
Crimea from 29 April to 25 June and to bar foreign citizens from voting or
running for office, Interfax-Ukraine and Reuters reported the same day. The
Ukrainian parliament also repealed a Crimean law allowing local conscripts to
serve military duty in Crimea. But it stopped short of taking direct control of
the region's government, despite its decision the previous week to abolish
Crimea's Presidency and constitution. Meanwhile, Anatolii Franchuk is refusing
to accept his dismissal as prime minister by the Crimean parliament and says he
plans to contest the decision in court, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 March. His
replacement, Anatolii Drobotov, former Crimean agriculture minister, was barred
on 24 March by Ukrainian police from entering the prime minister's office in
Simferopol. In related news, more than 1,000 residents gathered in the Crimean
port city of Sevastopol on 26 March demanding that the peninsula be returned to
Russia and protesting what they called Kiev's hostile acts toward the region.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
BORDER CONTROLS TIGHTEN AS EU SCHENGEN AGREEMENT TAKES EFFECT.
Schengen agreement, which took effect on 26 March, eases border controls among
its seven members but has slowed traffic to the east, international agencies
report. Border controls ended for Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Belgium,
Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Increased delays were reported on Germany's
eastern borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. Eberhard Roese, deputy head
of the Bavarian border police, said, "There were problems on the eastern
borders above all because we could not separate the traffic at our small
crossing points and so all entering travelers had to wait." Czech TV reported
long lines at the frontier. Poland, meanwhile, says it will not separate EU
from non-EU traffic at its borders. "We will not agree to Poles being treated
as second category citizens," Tomasz Lis, head of the Foreign Ministry's
Consular Department, said, according to Reuters. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
CZECH TRADE UNIONS STAGE ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION.
throughout the Czech Republic on 25 March staged the biggest anti-government
demonstration since the fall of communism. Organizers said 90,000 people took
part in a rally in downtown Prague protesting government social policies, while
the police put the figure at 60,000, Mlada fronta dnes reported. Richard
Falbr, chairman of the Czech and Moravian Chamber of Trade Unions, and other
speakers protested government plans to raise the pension age, cut child support
benefits, and introduce tuition fees for higher education. Opposition
politicians joined the demonstration, but Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus called it
"absurd," Rude pravo reported. Falbr said he did not think the protest
would affect the government's plans, adding that further mass demonstrations
may be called. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
TWO SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES UNITE.
The National Democratic Party,
which broke away from the Slovak National Party in early 1994, merged with
former Prime Minister Jozef Moravcik's Democratic Union on 24-25 March, Slovak
media reported. Moravcik was re-elected DU chairman by 102 out of 108 votes,
while DU members Milan Knazko, Jan Budaj, and Roman Kovac, together with former
NDP Chairman Ludovit Cernak, were elected deputy chairmen. Former DU Deputy
Chairman Viliam Vaskovic, in an interview published in Pravda on 24
March, said there was internal disagreement over the future ideological
direction of the party. Knazko told Sme on 24 March that the party would
be oriented to the right of center, but Moravcik stressed at the congress that
the DU would be a liberal party of the center. The DU and NDP ran on the same
ticket in last fall's elections, but the NDP was considered a national liberal
party and DU more socially oriented. The DU was created in April 1994 by two
parties that broke away from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. Meanwhile,
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, at an MDS congress on 25-26 March, was
re-elected party chairman, receiving 224 out of 225 votes. -- Sharon Fisher,
SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES ANOTHER TWO LAWS.
Michal Kovac has returned two
laws passed by the parliament earlier this month. One of those laws deals with
foreigners residing in Slovakia; the other empowers state secretaries to vote
in the absence of ministers at cabinet sessions. Kovac had previously vetoed a
law transferring the power to appoint and remove the Slovak Information Service
director from the president to the government. Parliament chairman Ivan
Gasparovic announced that the three returned laws--together with bills on
parliament elections, on the role of the state in education, on social
security, and on Slovak Television and Slovak Radio--will be discussed at the
next parliament session, scheduled for 5 April, Sme reported. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT FORCES ON THE MOVE.
International media reported that
Bosnian government forces on 24 March took one key Serbian communications tower
at Stolice in the Majevica hills near Travnik and another the next day on Mt.
Vlasic near Tuzla. By 27 March, however, it was unclear what the government
units had captured, although they seemed to have taken some territory from
Serbian forces. In a diplomatic development, Nasa Borba on 27 March
reports that Bosnia's ambassador to Switzerland, Muhamed Filipovic, met the
previous week in Belgrade with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at the
Serb's initiative. Filipovic said that Bosnia has now opened up a diplomatic
channel to Serbia as it is concerned about the status of the Muslims living
there. The International Herald Tribune on 25 March suggested that both
the offensive and the Filipovic initiative indicate that Sarajevo wants to show
its ineffective foreign partners that it can take charge of its own affairs. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
KARADZIC SAYS IT'S "LAST CALL" FOR BOSNIAN PEACE."
on 24 March quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as responding to his
military losses by calling for immediate and direct negotiations. Two days
later, he wrote to world leaders asking them to "bring a halt to the Muslim
offensives." The Bosnian government says, however, that Karadzic must accept
the Contact Group's peace proposal before talks can begin. Elsewhere, Karadzic
made what the BBC on 27 March called "a rare public appearance in combat
fatigues," and one German television report on 25 March said he had threatened
to take Tuzla. On 26 March, he called for a general mobilization of all Bosnian
Serbs and threatened to confiscate the property of all reservists who do not
return home from abroad. Karadzic made the same threats last year. Nasa
Borba on 27 March reported on a meeting in Belgrade of the Serbian Civic
Council, which represents Bosnian Serbs who reject Karadzic and his
nationalism. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
KRAJINA SERBS STAGE EXERCISES WITH 100 TANKS.
AFP reported on 26 March
that Croatia's Serbian rebels are conducting big maneuvers in Slavonia. Some of
their heavy weapons were taken from UN collection points, but at least 13
modern T-72 and M-84 tanks were secretly "moved into Croatia from Serbia on
pontoons thrown across the Danube." Krajina's leader Milan Martic attended the
exercises. Croatia said it did not protest the maneuvers in order "to avoid
poisoning the peace process." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
PRISON RIOT IN MACEDONIA.
Some 400 prisoners climbed onto the roof of
Idrizovo prison near Skopje on 23 and 24 March to demand an amnesty from the
Macedonian government, Reuters reported the same day. The prisoners were
protesting the authorities' break with the tradition of offering amnesties
after presidential and parliamentary elections. The last elections took place
in October 1994. Justice Minister Vlado Popovski on 26 March issued an
ultimatum to the prisoners that was to expire at noon, on 27 March. AFP cited
Popovski as saying that if the prisoners do not give up their protest, the
government will "use all means to restore order." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
MASS RALLIES OF KOSOVARS IN WESTERN EUROPE.
Tens of thousands of ethnic
Albanians from the Serbian province of Kosovo gathered in Bonn and Zurich on 25
March to demand international recognition of Kosovo as an independent state,
Reuters and AFP reported the same day. According to the Democratic League of
Kosovo (LDK), 65,000 people demonstrated in Bonn and 25,000 in Zurich.
Officials estimated 40,000 demonstrators in Bonn and 12,000 in Zurich. The LDK
also said that demonstrations took place in the U.S. and Australia. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN FARMERS STAGE PROTEST IN IASI.
Between 3,000 and 6,000 farmers
demonstrated in Iasi on 25 March to protest delays in returning land seized by
the communists, Radio Bucharest and Reuters report. They called for the 1991
Land Law to be revised and for more government support for agriculture. The
demonstration was organized by the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic,
the largest party within the Democratic Convention of Romania, the main
opposition alliance. PNT-CD Chairman Corneliu Coposu and CDR Chairman Emil
Constantinescu, who addressed the rally, blamed the left-wing government for
the difficult situation in the agricultural sector. Iasi has traditionally been
a stronghold of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, which won the
1992 elections with strong rural support. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN SECRET SERVICE CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY.
Intelligence Service marked its fifth anniversary on 25 March with the opening
of a new building for the Romanian Higher Institute of Information, the
service's training school. The festivities were attended by President Ion
Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, Chief-of-Staff Gen. Col. Dumitru
Cioflina, Interior Minister Doru Ioan Taracila, and other high-ranking
officials. Leading representatives of the opposition, including PNT-CD Chairman
Corneliu Coposu, were also present. Radio Bucharest quoted SRI head Virgil
Magureanu as saying that his organization's image was improving and that its
activities are now similar to those in countries with democratic traditions.
The SRI has often been criticized for allegedly perpetuating some of the
practices of the former communist political police. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI,
SELF-STYLED DNIESTER REPUBLIC HOLDS ELECTIONS, REFERENDUM.
took place in the self-styled Dniester Republic on 26 March, Western agencies
reported. A referendum was also held on whether the 14th Russian Army should
remain in the region "as a guarantor of peace and stability." The region's
pro-Russian leaders organized the plebiscite in an attempt to reinforce their
separatist claims. Participation was reportedly high. According to preliminary
results, 94% of the voters cast their ballot in favor of the continued presence
of the 14th army there. But Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popov said his
government would reject the results of both the local elections and the
referendum, and he called the Dniester region a "ghost republic created with
the support of Moscow." Moldova has scheduled local elections for 16 April. --
Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT ON STUDENTS' PROTESTS.
The Moldovan government said
protests staged by students are "illegal and directed against the state." The
statement was released after a cabinet meeting on 26 March. Meanwhile, protests
continued for the seventh consecutive day in Chisinau and elsewhere, with
demonstrators demanding that courses in the Romanian language and Romanian
history be restored in schools. Romanian newspapers reported that Chisinau on
26 March ordered that the frontier between Moldova and Romania be closed. More
demonstrations are expected on 27 March, the anniversary of Bessarabia's union
with Romania in 1918. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
TENSIONS GROW BETWEEN BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AND GOVERNMENT OVER "MULTIGRUP
Zhelyu Zhelev and the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party have
both been accused of close ties with the private financial organization
Multigrup, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 27 March. Filip Dimitrov, former
leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, asked the present government about
its alleged ties with Multigrup. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov responded by
saying there are connections between the organization and UDF. He said Zhelev's
presidential campaign in 1991 was financed by Multigrup. Multigrup Vice
President Dimitar Ivanov confirmed that Zhelev received support from members of
Multigrup because his program was "close" to their views on how to move toward
a market economy, Duma reported. Valentin Stoyanov, Zhelev's spokesman,
told Darik Radio that Zhelev immediately returned the money to Multigrup. The
financial organization unites some of Bulgaria's largest private enterprises.
It is also said to control large parts of the Bulgarian economy and to have
strong political influence. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AMENDMENT TO LAND LAW.
parliament has approved the first paragraph of an amendment to the land law,
Demokratsiya reported on 25 March. The amendment was passed by the
Socialist majority the previous day. Under the amended law, companies with
foreign capital would not be allowed to own land. The parliament agricultural
commission proposed dropping this paragraph, arguing that it will obstruct
investment in the agricultural sector. The change was voted on 24 March in
order to meet the two-week deadline between the first and second readings of
the amendment. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES TO COOPERATE.
The People's Union is to
cooperate with the Union of Democratic Forces, Demokratsiya reported on
27 March. A document issued after a two-day meeting of the PU's leadership
calls for cooperation of all "non-communist forces" in Bulgaria based on
equality and "mutual respect of ideological and organizational principles." The
PU leadership suggested that the opposition nominate joint mayoral candidates
in the next local elections but that municipal councilors be elected on party
tickets. Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer, joint leader of the PU, said that a
meeting with the UDF leadership will probably take place later this week. --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN SHOT IN STORMING OF U.S. EMBASSY.
A 19-year-old man was shot in
the leg by police when some 200 young Albanians tried to enter the U.S.
embassy, international agencies reported. According to hospital officials, the
condition of the wounded man was satisfactory following an operation. Young
people have been gathering outside the embassy since 23 March, in the mistaken
belief that jobs were on offer in the U.S. Newspapers recently ran
advertisements for the American immigration lottery. According to Reuters,
eyewitnesses alleged that another two people were injured by shots, but police
denied the reports. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GREEK POLICE ARRESTS MORE ANTI-ALBANIAN TERRORISTS.
Greek police on 25
March arrested another two men suspected of being members of the Northern
Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI), international agencies reported the same day.
Police found seven assault rifles in the garden of the two men's home in the
suburb of Pallini, east of Athens; the weapons are believed to have been stolen
in a cross-border raid on an Albanian military camp in April 1994. After the
arrests, police launched a nationwide search for MAVI terrorists, conducting
house searches in northern Greece and road checks near the Albanian border.
Reuters on 26 March quoted a police official as saying that "we have good leads
and believe that more arrests will follow soon." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI,
As of 1200 CET
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave