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Newsline - March 31, 1995

CHECHENS DENY RUSSIAN CAPTURE OF GUDERMES. Movladi Udugov, press secretary to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, denied claims by the Russian military press center in Mozdok and by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets that Russian forces had succeeded in taking the town of Gudermes on 30 March, but admitted that the town was still under attack, Interfax reported. Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, the commander of federal troops in Chechnya, had previously told ITAR-TASS that 80% of Chechen territory would be under Russian control, once Gudermes and Shali were captured. Meanwhile, the recently created Chechen Committee for National Accord has begun drafting an electoral law for Chechnya, its chairman Umar Avturkhanov told Interfax on 30 March. * Liz Fuller

YELTSIN URGED NOT TO SIGN AIDS LAW. AIDS-prevention activists inside and outside Russia have appealed to President Boris Yeltsin not to sign a draft AIDS law on 31 March, Russian and Western agencies reported. The law, passed unanimously by the State Duma on 24 February, would impose mandatory AIDS tests on foreigners wishing to stay in Russia longer than three months, refugees, employees of certain enterprises, and prison inmates. The law's critics say mandatory testing is costly, unenforceable, and will not halt the spread of the virus. They also charge that the law contravenes the declaration Russia signed at the December 1994 Paris AIDS summit and contains internal contradictions. For instance, the law guarantees Russian citizens access to voluntary, anonymous AIDS testing and full rights if they are found HIV-positive, yet it goes on to say that some of those rights may be restricted. There are now 883 officially registered HIV-positive cases in Russia, but experts say the real number of infected citizens is much higher, Interfax reported. * Laura Belin

LOBOV ON POSSIBLE VARIATIONS OF NATO EXPANSION. Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov said NATO expansion in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE and the Baltic states at the same time as Russia is forced to negotiate through the Partnership for Peace framework is totally unacceptable to Russia, Interfax reported on 30 March. But he stressed that "there must be no haste in making categorical assessments" on the question. He said the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have many unresolved ethnic and territorial disputes which drive them to seek some "stabilizing force" such as NATO. Lobov offered two possible ways of creating a European security system that Russia would accept. One involves the establishment of an absolutely new organization to include all the countries of Europe and the CIS. Lobov, however, rejected that idea as too cumbersome and unrealistic because it would destroy NATO. A second alternative would be for Russia and the countries of CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE to join NATO simultaneously. In that case, Russia would not "strongly object" to any country's decision to become a member. According to Lobov, however, the process could take decades. He warned that if NATO expanded unilaterally, Russia would be forced to strengthen its own defense capability as well as that of its neighbors. * Robert Orttung

ANOTHER AMMO DUMP EXPLODES IN FAR EAST. Some 200 carloads of aircraft missiles blew up on 30 March at an ammunition dump near the Chinese border in Russia's Maritime region, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency indicated that some explosions were still taking place the next day. The location of the depot was variously reported as Taly and Taloye, and it was said to belong to the Far Eastern military district. Local civil defense officials said the incident was triggered by a forest fire, and that there were no casualties. The Russian military in the Far East has been plagued by such disasters. In May 1992, munitions at a dump on the outskirts of Vladivostok burned and exploded for two days. Two years later there was a catastrophic explosion at a navy ammunition depot in Novonezhinsk, near Vladivostok. Exploding shells at a munitions depot near Babstovo, in the Jewish Autonomous Region, forced the evacuation of village residents last August. * Doug Clarke

MOSCOW: NO PROMISE TO WITHDRAW KURILES TROOPS. Russia has never promised to withdraw troops from the four disputed islands in the Kuriles that are claimed by Japan, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Moscow on 30 March. Nikita Matkovsky was responding to a recent complaint by a senior Japanese diplomat that Russia had failed to honor such a pledge, Interfax reported. In 1992, Boris Yeltsin said Russia was prepared to withdraw its troops from the islands by mid-1995 as part of a broader agreement to mend its relations with Japan. Matkovsky said the stationing of troops on its own territory is exclusively Russia's affair. * Doug Clarke

RUSSIAN COMPANY TO UPGRADE CAPE CANAVERAL PADS. Gennady Biryukov, the chief designer of the Design Bureau of Transport Machinery [KBTM] in Moscow, told journalists on 30 March that his company had signed a contract with Lockheed Martin Airspace to update the launch pads for Atlas boosters at the American space center in Cape Canaveral. KBTM was the Soviet Union's chief developer of missile launch equipment for the Strategic Missile Forces and the navy. Biryukov said the dollar value of the deal was "insignificant," Interfax reported. * Doug Clarke

GOVERNMENT APPROVES PRIVATIZATION PLAN...The Russian government approved a draft of the second stage of privatization that might include a major role for private banks, Russian and Western agencies reported on 30 March. The draft, compiled by the State Property Committee, is expected to bring in 9 trillion rubles in state revenue. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the drafts of the appropriate presidential decrees and government regulations will be updated by a government commission within two weeks. Sergei Belyaev, chairman of the State Property Management Committee, who is expected to lead the commission, supported a proposal by a consortium of nine private banks to aid in the privatization process. * Thomas Sigel

...MINISTRIES CRITICIZE PRIVATIZATION DRAFT. The heads of the Communication and Fuel and Energy ministries and the State Precious Metals and Precious Stones Committee criticized the draft for the second stage of privatization saying it failed to encourage domestic investment and did not provide for the expansion of businesses slated to be privatized, Interfax reported on 30 March. The critics said the draft focuses on the short term goal of speedy share sales to boost revenue for the 1995 national budget. They also doubted the potential to raise 9 trillion rubles, because in order to reach this target, 24 trillion rubles worth of shares must be sold. Some speakers called for halting the privatization process to give more thought to planning the second stage. * Thomas Sigel

GOVERNMENT ENDORSES WORLD BANK OIL LOAN AGREEMENT. The government endorsed a second oil rehabilitation loan for $500 million, which was signed between Moscow and the World Bank on 27 September 1994, the Petroleum Information Agency reported on 30 March. The loan will be used to restore and modernize oil facilities in Western Siberia. Three leading oil-producing associations in the region, Megionneftegaz, Tomskneft, and Yuganskneftegaz will receive $150 million, $160 million, and $190 million respectively as 10-year term loans with a two-year delay payment stipulation. * Thomas Sigel

KAZAKH PRESIDENT DRAWS CRITICISM FROM WASHINGTON. In a speech delivered at Indiana University on 29 March, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher commented on recent political developments in Kazakhstan. Christopher, speaking about U.S. policy toward Russia and other former Soviet states, said, "[Kazakh] President [Nursultan] Nazarbayev's effort to unilaterally extend his term in Kazakhstan is, I am sorry to say, a step backward. We call on him to renew his commitment to uphold timely parliamentary elections, followed by the scheduled presidential elections in 1996," Reuters reported. In a speech to a trade union congress in Almaty, Nazarbayev said, "I am not an ambitious person. It is not Nazarbayev who needs the referendum, it is the people, the families of Kazakhstan, who don't want something like Chechnya or Karabakh happening in the republic," according to Reuters. * Bruce Pannier

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. Eduard Yegoryan, chairman of the Armenian parliament Permanent Commission for the Restoration of National Statehood, said parliament's adoption of a constitutional law "opened the way towards...adoption of a new Fundamental Law through a universal referendum," Interfax reported on 29 March. Under the law, the new Armenian National Assembly will be elected to four-year terms. Government members, representatives of the prosecutor's office, national security, and interior bodies, and officers of the national Armed Forces will be barred from running for parliament. The National Assembly will be made up of 190 deputies: 150 elected by single-member district and 40 on party lists. Citizens, public organizations, or associations may nominate candidates for the National Assembly. The referendum is scheduled to he held on 5 July. * Lowell Bezanis


ABKHAZ PRESIDENT ON RUSSIAN BASING AGREEMENT. Addressing a meeting in Sukhumi on 30 March, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba said the Russian-Georgian agreement concluded last week in Tbilisi, which granted Russia the right to maintain a military base in the Abkhaz town of Gudauta for 25 years, should also have been signed by representatives of Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Abkhaz parliament chairman Sokrat Dzhindzholia said in Moscow on 30 March that Abkhazia has abandoned its demands for total independence from Georgia but insists on a confederative agreement, Interfax reported. * Liz Fuller

BELARUS TO SUE KAZAKHSTAN. The Belarusian government filed a $3 million legal suit against the Kazakh government in the CIS Economic Court in Minsk on 29 March, Belarusian radio reported the next day. Belarus lodged the suit because of Kazakhstan's failure to honor a 4 June 1994 agreement on grain deliveries. * Ustina Markus

RUSSIA SAYS RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE UNDER THREAT. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nikita Matkovsky said Ukraine's accusations against Russian consular workers in Crimea are unacceptable, Reuters reported on 30 March. Ukraine had ordered Russian consular workers to stop working earlier this week, claiming they were "recruiting" Crimeans to take Russian citizenship. Matkovsky said Ukraine's moves "hinder friendly relations" between Moscow and Kiev, and said he hoped no further actions would be taken. * Ustina Markus

KARIMOV ON RUSSIA, CIS. Speaking at a ceremony to confirm the extension of his mandate to the year 2000, Uzbek President Islam Karimov said that despite criticism, the referendum was conducted strictly according to the law as "reaffirmed by international observers" and would allow the government to complete the country's political reform as quickly as possible, Interfax reported on 30 March. He said the referendum also ruled out any political friction and set conditions for the second stage of economic reforms. Karimov stressed the need for the country to participate in various international agencies, the importance of regionalism, and Tashkent's policy of maintaining dynamic relations with countries of differing social or political systems. He said Tashkent is keen see a normalization of the situation in Afghanistan and to promote relations with countries such as India, Pakistan, and Iran, adding that those interests do not amount to a distancing from the CIS, which has no alternative in the region. He pledged Tashkent's commitment to join the customs union that groups Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan together. Karimov rejected any political, economic, or military "supranational structures," saying that was why he refused to endorse an agreement on a uniform CIS command of frontier troops and the idea of a Eurasian union. Karimov expressed his unequivocal support for cooperation with Russia, calling the country "a guarantor of stability in Central Asia." * Lowell Bezanis


UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO DISSOLVE CRIMEAN LEGISLATURE. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, at Ukrainian government session attended by Crimean leaders, threatened to dissolve the Crimean legislature if it failed to renounce separatism and continued to violate Ukrainian law, Reuters and Radio Ukraine reported on 30 March. Kuchma added that he would take steps to subordinate the Crimean government to the Ukrainian president or government, effectively stripping Crimean leaders of their powers. The Ukrainian government also declared the 22 March dismissal by Crimean deputies of the Crimean prime minister and deputy prime minister as illegal. It added that the Crimean cabinet, led by Anatolii Franchuk, should continue to function, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The speakers of Crimea's local councils, who also attended the session, voiced support for the Ukrainian government's ruling on the dismissals. These were widely viewed as retaliation for Kiev's decision on 17 March to annul what it considered Crimea's separatist constitution and to abolish its Presidency. * Chrystyna Lapychak

DIPHTHERIA OUTBREAKS IN UKRAINE PROMPT MASS VACCINATION CAMPAIGN. Thirty-eight people have died of diphtheria so far this year, prompting the Ukrainian Health Ministry to call for a mass vaccination campaign in the three regions that have been struck hardest by the disease, Reuters reported on 30 March. The ministry announced that 1,029 people have been diagnosed with the illness, primarily in southern Ukraine, Crimea, and Kiev. The World Health Organization predicted that Ukraine will have 4,000 cases this year, with a potential 20% mortality rate. In an effort to halt the spread of the highly contagious disease, the Finnish Red Cross has announced it will begin a vaccination program near Kiev aimed at some 9 million Ukrainians in that area, international agencies reported. The $2.2 million program will be funded by the EU. * Chrystyna Lapychak

DANISH PRIME MINISTER VISITS BALTIC STATES. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen on 28 March traveled to Latvia, following a three-day visit in Lithuania, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported. Rasmussen held talks with President Algirdas Brazauskas, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, and other officials to discuss helping Lithuania join European structures and NATO. The two premiers attended the signing of a contract between Lithuanian and Danish companies to extract oil from the Baltic Sea near Klaipeda. Rasmussen on 28-29 March met with President Guntis Ulmanis, Prime Minister Maris Gailis, Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, and other officials. He discussed introducing visa-free travel between Latvia and Denmark, an arrangement that Estonia and Lithuania already have. Rasmussen on 30 March held talks with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Andres Tarand, Prime Minister-designate Tiit Vahi, and other officials. * Saulius Girnius

ASIAN REFUGEE FATE STILL UNCLEAR. The 100 or so Asian refugees who have been shuttled on a train between the Baltic States and Russia for a week spent 29-30 March in two train cars in Latvia's Karsava train station, BNS reported. They are now being looked after by the Ludza District Council and the city's Red Cross, but Latvian border guards are still preventing reporters from talking to them. The refugees, who according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement came from Kazakhstan and Belarus, have displayed signs from the train's windows saying: "We Want Sweden" and "Save Us Train Refugees." Four of the refugees were hospitalized in Lithuania and two more were taken to a Latvian hospital on the night of 29 March. A UNHCR official is reported to have arrived in Pskov, near the Latvian border, to investigate the situation. * Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA'S KMU, CENTER PARTY INITIAL POSITIONS ON COALITION. The Coalition Party and Rural Union (KMU) and the Center Party on 29 March initialed their joint positions for a government coalition, BNS reported. But Center Party board member Siiri Oviir said his party was still holding talks with other groups on a possible alternative coalition and would probably make a final decision over the weekend on whether to join with the KMU. KMU leader and Prime Minister-designate Tiit Vahi must present his cabinet by 6 April. * Saulius Girnius

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER IN LATVIA. Qjan Qichen and his Latvian counterpart, Valdis Birkavs, on 30 March signed a protocol on consultations between their ministries, BNS reported. Qichen is heading a 15-member delegation that is to hold talks on cooperation in the economic, financial, science, education, and communication fields . He met with Prime Minister Maris Gailis and is scheduled for talks with President Guntis Ulmanis, Saeima Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, and other officials. * Saulius Girnius

POLAND TO REVISE KUKLINSKI VERDICT? Poland's Supreme Court has ordered a review of the treason verdict handed down in 1984 to Col. Ryszard Kuklinski, the high-ranking military officer who provided U.S. intelligence with the plans for martial law in 1981, Rzeczpospolita reported. The court argued that the military tribunal that tried Kuklinski failed to consider whether his acts were motivated by patriotism and the desire to prevent a foreign invasion. Kuklinski, who lives in the U.S. under an assumed identity, was sentenced to death in absentia; an amnesty later reduced the sentence to 25 years imprisonment. The Polish justice system's failure to overturn the verdict has become a rallying cry for right-wing forces. Supreme Court Justice Adam Strzembosz, who recently announced his candidacy for president, conceded on 30 March that he had prepared the court's decision. Military authorities have argued consistently that espionage is treasonous, regardless of the foreign power served, and have urged Kuklinski to seek a presidential pardon. Justice Minister Jerzy Jaskiernia (a former communist party official) told reporters on 30 March that the case has been re-examined repeatedly over the past 10 years, but nothing had happened to warrant a revision of the verdict. * Louisa Vinton

POLAND OPENS SECRET POLICE ARCHIVES. Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski signed an order on 30 March opening Stalinist secret police (UB) archives dating from 1944-1956 to prosecutors, courts, historians, and journalists. No information on informants will be released, however. Milczanowski said his ministry would not vouch for the authenticity of archival documents. He added that secret police archives dating up to 1965 would also be opened shortly, in keeping with the 30-year principle observed in international practice. Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 31 March that the archives are a mess and that only 25% of the materials have been reviewed or classified. * Louisa Vinton

CZECH LEADERS REJECT INTELLECTUALS' INITIATIVE ON SUDETEN GERMANS. President Vaclav Havel and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus have rejected an appeal by Czech and German intellectuals for the Czech government to start talks with Sudeten German groups. "Governments can meet only with governments," Havel said during his visit to New Zealand, according to Mlada fronta dnes on 31 March. Klaus told Lidove noviny he could not deny the intellectuals the right to think there should be a meeting with Sudeten German representatives. But he commented: "I can only express my opinion that it will not be like that." Former dissidents and historians were among the 105 intellectuals who earlier this week issued the appeal, called "Reconciliation 95." Their move was prompted by the reopening of the issue of the expulsion of 3 million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II. Other Czech political leaders also rejected the initiative. Mlada fronta dnes reported that the rector of Charles University in Prague and the chairman of the Czech Academy of Sciences believe that "Reconciliation 95" could worsen Czech-German relations. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES EDUCATION BILL. Christian Democratic Movement deputy Frantisek Miklosko, at a press conference on 30 March, expressed opposition to the government's bill on education, which will be discussed in the parliament session beginning 5 April. The draft law would give the education minister the right to name the directors of the school administration, who in turn would have the right to name the directors of schools. Democratic Union deputy Eva Rusnakova, in an interview with Sme, said the law could lead to an escalation of tension between the government and the Hungarian minority. Meanwhile, in an interview with Pravda on 31 March, Party of the Democratic Left deputy Robert Fico said the government's bill on foreigners residing in Slovakia, which was vetoed by the president but will be discussed again at the next parliament session, contradicts European norms on human rights. * Sharon Fisher

SOFTWARE PIRATING IN SLOVAKIA. According to a representative of Business Software Alliance, approximately 90% of software in Slovakia is used illegally, compared with 86% in the Czech Republic, 87% in Hungary, and 98% in Russia, Pravda reports on 31 March. Meanwhile, Slovak Police Corps spokesman Dusan Ivan told the newspaper that in 1994 there were 517 cases of economic crime, resulting in losses totaling 1.837 billion koruny. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN STUDENTS PROTEST TUITION FEES. Some 15,000 students demonstrated outside the Ministry of Finance in Budapest on 30 March to protest the government's decision to introduce tuition fees at all colleges and universities in Hungary at the beginning of the fall 1995, international and Hungarian media report. According to the government decision, students would pay 2,000 forint ($19) a month. In a petition to Finance Minister Lajos Bokros, the demonstrators demanded that the government cancel its plans. * Jiri Pehe

UNCRO FOR CROATIA? One day before UNPROFOR's peacekeeping mandate expired in the former Yugoslavia, the UN Security Council endorsed three draft resolutions calling for the continued presence of UN peacekeeping forces there, Nasa Borba reported on 31 March. One resolution permits a scaled-down force to remain in Croatia. According to Vjesnik, that force has been dubbed UNCRO (UN Confidence Restoration Operation). The name was apparently intended to meet Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's demand that "Croatia" be reflected in the title. But Reuters on 30 March reported that Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic had ruled out simply calling the force UNCRO since it did not include the full name of his country. The resolution was amended to state that the name of the force is "UNCRO in Croatia which shall be known as UNCRO," according to Reuters. An estimated 1,000 peacekeepers may be stationed along Croatia's international borders, apparently in response to Zagreb's demands that the force be charged with monitoring Croatia's frontiers with Serbia and Bosnia rather than its borders with Croatia's rebel Krajina Serbs. Details of how the proposal is to be implemented remain sketchy. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali has been asked to resume talks with involved parties on the proposal's implementation and to report back to the Security Council on 21 April. Meanwhile, Krajina leaders have renewed their opposition to altering the UNPROFOR mandate, Nasa Borba reported. The UN Security Council is expected to meet again on 31 March to discuss the mandate. Resolutions on peacekeepers in Macedonia and Bosnia leave those missions basically unchanged. * Stan Markotich

SARAJEVO AIRLIFT SCALED DOWN. AFP on 30 March reported that the humanitarian airlift to Sarajevo has been "scaled down to 40% of normal capacity" due to Bosnian Serbs' unwillingness to permit deliveries to be made from the airport to the besieged city. Meanwhile, international agencies reported the same day that Bosnian government offensives appear to be bogging down because of continued heavy snowfall. In other news, the Indonesian news agency Antara on 31 March reported that Jakarta expects to send to Bosnia a battalion of soldiers specializing in clearing away mines. * Stan Markotich

BILL ON BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA MUSTERS SUPPORT IN TURKISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE. The Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a bill authorizing the Council of Ministers to lift the arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina, state-run TRT television reported on 30 March. The bill is aimed at enabling the Bosnian government to exercise its right of self-defense. * Lowell Bezanis

SERBIAN OFFICIAL HINTS AT CHANGE IN KOSOVO POLICY. Mihajlo Markovic, one of the leading ideologists of the Serbian Socialist Party, has called for a dialogue with Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, international news agencies reported on 30 March. Markovic, in an interview with the Albanian independent weekly Koha, proposed a "debate on the re-establishment of Kosovo's territorial autonomy," which was revoked by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in 1989. Markovic said that it was time for Serbs and Albanians (the latter account for some 90% of Kosovo's population) to try to live together and give up violence. "We are all suffering, and nothing can be solved by force," he said. Markovic's remarks indicate a possible shift in Serbian policy toward Kosovo. But in the meantime, Serbian nationalists are planning a rally in Pec on 8 April to demand an even tougher stand toward the Kosovo Albanians. * Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN ITALY. Ion Iliescu on 29 March met with his Italian counterpart, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Premier Lamberto Dini, and the heads of the Italian parliament's two chambers, Radio Bucharest reported. Senior Italian officials showed particular interest in Romania's democratization and reform process and pledged to continue to support Romania's integration into European structures. Economic cooperation, including closer contacts between Romanian and Italian firms, was high on the agenda. After a stopover in Genoa, the Romanian delegation returned to Bucharest on 30 March. Iliescu told Radio Bucharest on 31 March that his five-day trip to Albania, Italy, and the Vatican confirmed the positive trend in Romania's relations with those countries. * Dan Ionescu

RAILROAD WORKERS DEMONSTRATE IN ROMANIA. Some 4,000 railroad construction workers demonstrated on 30 March in Bucharest for better pay and increased job security, Radio Bucharest reported. Following a rally in Revolution Square, the protesters marched to the government's headquarters, where they presented their claims. Union leaders stressed that a lack of state investment in the sector would result in the loss of up to 30,000 jobs. According to Romanian Television, similar protests were staged in the towns of Constanta and Brasov. * Dan Ionescu

EU WORRIED BY DEVELOPMENTS IN BREAKAWAY MOLDOVAN REGION. The European Union expressed concern and regret over the local elections and referendum in the self-styled Dniester Republic on 26 March. Radio Bucharest, citing Moldpres, reported on 30 March that the EU, in a declaration read out at a meeting of the OSCE Standing Council in Vienna, said Tiraspol's initiatives could have a negative impact on efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Transdniester, since they run counter to the constitutional order in Moldova. It also deplored the fact that leaders in Tiraspol took actions contradicting the provisions of the agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation on the withdrawal of the 14th army, initialed on 21 October 1994. The EU said it hopes this agreement will take effect as soon as possible. * Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1995 BUDGET. The Socialist-led government on 30 March approved the state budget for 1995, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The final draft of the budget provides for a deficit of 47 billion leva ($700 million), or 5.6% of GDP. Expenditures are estimated at 387 billion leva ($5.8 billion), and revenues at 340 billion leva ($5.1 billion). GDP is expected to amount to 800-850 billion leva ($12.0-12.8 billion), while inflation is expected to drop to 40-50% from 121.9% in 1994. The estimated budget deficit has risen from the 42 billion leva projected on 24 March, because the government wants to grant the army and police more money. It also needs funds to finance its social projects, Kontinent reported. According to Otechestven Front, 20% of the budget deficit will be financed directly by the Bulgarian National Bank. * Stefan Krause

GREECE DENIES ALBANIAN BORDER SHOOTING. Greece on 30 March denied that border guards shot at a group of four illegal Albanian immigrants, killing one and wounding another, Reuters reported the same day. The Defense Ministry and the army general staff categorically denied a report by the Albanian daily Koha Jone stating that the incident took place on 27 March about 15 kilometers inside Greece. The newspaper quoted one of the four Albanians as saying he was detained but later released and ordered to tell the Albanian authorities about the incident. He said that a 37-year-old Albanian was killed, while the wounded man was taken to a hospital in the Greek town of Kastoria. Koha Jone did not report on the fate of the third Albanian. The Albanian Interior Ministry has no knowledge of the incident, a ministry spokesman said. * Stefan Krause

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave