RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION BEGINS BROADCASTING ON CHANNEL ONE.
controversial, partly-private Russian Public Television company began
broadcasting throughout the former Soviet Union on 1 April, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The state owns 51% of the new company, giving the government
control over all personnel decisions and broadcasting content. However, Russian
Public Television board member Igor Shabdrasulov denied any possibility of
censorship on Channel One, claiming the government would exercise its ownership
rights "intelligently, efficiently, and tactfully," Interfax reported. News
broadcasts on Russian Public Television currently are produced by the same
information agency formerly used by Ostankino TV, with the same newsreaders and
a similar format. Shabdrasulov said the temporary ban on Channel One
advertising would be lifted after the company finished renegotiating contracts
with private advertising agencies. Many have linked the planned changes in
advertising rules to the 1 March murder of Russian Public Television Director
General Vladislav Listev. Meanwhile, opposition to the creation of Russian
Public Television remains strong. A bill to suspend the restructuring at
Channel One has been submitted to the Duma for a second reading on 5 April,
Interfax reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
RUTSKOI TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
Former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi
has been nominated by his "Derzhava" political movement to run for president in
June 1996, Russian and Western agencies reported on 2 April. At the Derzhava
congress, Rutskoi blasted President Boris Yeltsin for damaging "Russian
statehood" and charged that he was plotting to delay the presidential
elections. Rutskoi pledged, if elected, to return Russia to its "natural
historic boundaries" by reuniting with Ukraine and Belarus. After declaring his
candidacy, Rutskoi told Interfax, "I have learnt a unique lesson from
Yeltsin--the lesson of how the state should not be ruled." Rutskoi was an
important ally of Yeltsin's during the August 1991 coup after being elected
vice president earlier that year. In October 1993, Rutskoi led the rebellion
against Yeltsin's order to dissolve parliament and was subsequently jailed. He
was granted amnesty by the Russian parliament in February 1994. -- Laura Belin,
ZYUGANOV ANNOUNCES NEW COALITION OF PATRIOTIC GROUPS.
the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), announced a
new coalition of groups that will include Mikhail Lapshin's Agrarian Party,
Yury Skokov's Russian Association of Producers, Lyudmila Vartazarova's
Socialist Party of the Working People, numerous women's organizations, and the
CPRF, Interfax reported on 31 March. Zyuganov did not rule out the possibility
of an alliance with former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi's Derzhava
movement, noting that they had reached agreement on the basic principles of
maintaining Russia's territorial integrity, avoiding wars, and promoting the
well-being of all citizens. He said a coalition with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is unlikely because the LDP parliamentary
coalition is disintegrating. The new bloc is cooperating with the RAU
Corporation, whose president, Alexei Podberezkin, attended the press
conference. He said the Communists have long advocated the pre-eminence of the
state and the new coalition is willing to work with Yeltsin's administration to
meet the threat of expanding foreign capital. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
ALEXEI VEDENKIN TO SEEK SEAT IN DUMA.
Alexei Vedenkin, who was arrested
on charges of threatening to kill certain liberal members of the Duma and then
released from jail the day Yeltsin issued a decree cracking down on fascism,
has announced his intention to run for the late Sergei Skorochkin's Duma seat,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 31 March. Skorochkin's seat became vacant
when he was murdered in February. Vedenkin wants the immunity from arrest that
parliamentary membership provides. According to the newspaper, he visited the
electoral district in Kolomna on 28 March, violating his release agreement
which confined him to Moscow. The paper speculates that Vedenkin may have
powerful supporters who want to discredit the electoral process by electing a
"fascist." Vedenkin's success is not guaranteed, however, because several
nationalist and Communist candidates are competing in the 14 May by-election.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN FORCES TAKE SHALI, GUDERMES.
Russian federal troops took the
town of Shali, 30 km south of Grozny, on 31 March and finally dislodged the
last Chechen defenders from Gudermes, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS reported.
In Moscow, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said "active
fighting" in Chechnya is now over and preparations for free elections are
underway, while Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev predicted that
hostilities in Chechnya would definitively end by late April. Deputy Prime
Minister Nikolai Yegorov reported that 1,436 federal troops had been killed in
combat in Chechnya and slightly more than 4,500 wounded, Interfax reported on 1
April -- Liz Fuller and Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. AID TO RUSSIA CANNOT BE HELD "HOSTAGE" TO DEAL WITH IRAN.
in Moscow on 2 April, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said aid to Russia
will continue despite his government's displeasure with Russian plans to
provide nuclear aid to Iran, international agencies reported. In order to
dissuade further Russian support for the Iranian nuclear program, the U.S.
government has supplied a secret intelligence report to Moscow detailing the
scope of Iran's nuclear weapons program, The New York Times reported on
3 April. According to the report, Iran is importing materials needed to build
nuclear weapons, has attempted to buy enriched uranium form Kazakhstan, and is
using techniques similar to those used by Iraq and Pakistan in their quest for
a nuclear weapon. In addition, the U.S. is also apparently offering several
tens of millions of dollars in nuclear cooperation if Moscow drops its $1
billion contract to help build up to four reactors in Iran. The U.S.
intelligence report is intended to counter a recent one by the Russian
intelligence agency which gives the Iranian nuclear program a clean bill of
health. The U.S. government is hoping Yeltsin will cancel the project before
President Bill Clinton's visit in May. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV CONTINUES MIDEAST TOUR.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
gave assurances to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that there is no reason
to fear Russian aid to the Iranian nuclear program, international agencies
reported. Kozyrev also urged Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, but Rabin said his country would do so only after it had concluded
peace accords "with all Arab countries as well as Iran." Rabin expressed
unhappiness about the state of relations between Iran and Russia, re-stating
his accusation that Iran "organizes international terrorism." On 1 April,
Kozyrev said he had "warm and positive" talks with PLO chief Yasser Arafat in
the Gaza Strip. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIANS MOST CONCERNED ABOUT INFLATION AND CRIME.
Asked what Russia's
worst problems are, 70% of respondents in a recent poll named rising prices,
56% crime, 33% unemployment, and 20% pollution and corruption, the
state-controlled Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 31 March. Fifty-five
percent of respondents said their economic situation had deteriorated over the
past six months, 31% said it had remained the same, and 13% said it had
improved. But despite the worsening situation, 38% said converting to a market
economy is the right policy for Russia as opposed to 33% who thought the policy
was wrong. Only 24% said mass demonstrations would improve matters, while 59%
said they would not. A quarter of the respondents said they think Russia is
very likely to break up while 40% said they believe such a scenario is not very
likely. A majority of respondents (62%) think of themselves as Russian citizens
rather than as citizens of the USSR (20%) or the CIS (4%). The poll of 2,000
people in urban and rural areas in 12 regions in European Russia, Siberia, and
the Far East was carried out by the Russian Academy of Sciences' Sociological
Institute, Yekaterinburg State University, and Kazan State University. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
FSK SAYS INCREASED ACTIVITY OF FOREIGN SPECIAL SERVICES THREATEN RUSSIAN
In 1994, the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) uncovered
22 Russian agents of foreign intelligence services, an FSK official said on 31
March, Interfax reported. "The widening intelligence and subversive activities
of foreign special services presents a serious threat to Russia's national
security," the FSK representative said. He added that the FSK has noted
activity by the intelligence services of East European and Baltic states
"controlled by Western special services" and is concerned about the
intelligence operations of several Muslim countries that are "striving to
exploit the national religious factor in their work." According to the FSK,
about 10 spies were uncovered in large state economic departments, while the
"foreign special service status" of another 90 experts and advisers was "beyond
doubt." More than 100 firms in the banking sphere were also said to be used as
a cover by foreign agencies. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
DAVYDOV OBJECTS TO HIGHER IMPORT DUTIES.
Higher import duties on
numerous foodstuffs will result in a new rise in prices and will not help
Russian agricultural producers, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign
Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov. The minister told Interfax on 31
March that the government, under pressure from the Agrarian Party, is likely to
hike import tariffs on foodstuffs, although it highly objects to those
measures. Davydov said the government must keep people supplied with
foodstuffs, rather than rendering basic staples unaffordable. Instead of
implementing a "protectionist tariff," he argued that the farm sector would
benefit more from credits, donations, and tax benefits which would encourage
farm production. Davydov added that increased import duties could jeopardize
talks on Russian membership in GATT/WTO, which are scheduled to begin in May.
Protectionism in the agricultural sector can also trigger retaliatory steps in
countries which sell foodstuffs on the Russian market and could harm Russian
food exports, Davydov said. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
MARCH INFLATION DOWN TO 8.9%.
Consumer price growth in March was below
10% for the first time since October 1994, Interfax reported. March inflation
ran at 8.9% compared with 11% in February and 17.8% in January. The National
Board of Statistics said that in the last week of March consumer good prices
were up 1.6% against 2.5% the previous week. Experts say foodstuff prices have
been leveling over the past few months. Consumer good prices have risen an
average of 42% since January. The basic monthly grocery list of 19 essential
foodstuffs costs an average of 157,300 rubles (4,900 rubles to $1); in Moscow
the cost is close to 200,000 rubles. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
KYRGYZ PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev
delivered his state-of-the-nation address to parliament on 31 March, Interfax
reported. Akayev had originally planned to speak to the new parliament on 30
March, but disagreements over the selection of government members caused him to
postpone his appearance by a day. Akayev renewed his commitment to economic
reform and privatization and called for strict law and order without which ". .
. anarchy will await us and we will become a banana republic." Akayev said he
wanted the creation of a national ideal along the lines of the "American
dream," and a nationwide patriotic movement for the "well-being of Kyrgyzstan's
future." -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
CIS: DRAFT BORDER AGREEMENT SIGNED.
Delegations of eight CIS states
signed draft accords on 30 March for cooperation in guarding their external
borders, Interfax reported. Russian Federal Frontier Service director Andrei
Nikolayev said the heads of the eight states would probably sign both documents
with amendments. Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine refused to sign the
draft texts and the Moldovan position remained unclear since that country was
not represented at the meeting. Even some of the eight states who signed the
draft accords, which are Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, had some reservations about the agreements.
Georgia's head of frontier forces Valery Chkheidze said his government would
sign only after its sovereignty is restored along the length of its borders.
The meeting also addressed the complex situation along the Tajik-Afghan border.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TAKES DIRECT CONTROL OF CRIMEAN GOVERNMENT.
Kuchma issued a decree on 1 April temporarily placing the Crimean government
under his direct control and reinstating the recently deposed Crimean prime
minister, Anatolii Franchuk, in his post, Reuters and Radio Ukraine reported.
Crimean legislators ousted Franchuk and a deputy prime minister on 22 March in
retaliation for Kiev's recent decision to annul what it saw as the separatist
Crimean Constitution and to abolish the Crimean Presidency. Under the 1 April
decree, the appointment of the Crimean premier and cabinet must be approved by
Kuchma until the Crimean parliament has drawn up a new constitution by mid-May.
That document has to be approved by Kiev, as ordered recently by the Ukrainian
parliament. Kuchma last week warned Crimean deputies that he would dissolve
their 94-member assembly if they failed to renounce separatism and continued to
violate Ukrainian law. Serhii Tsekov, speaker of the Crimean legislature, said
the decree reduced Crimea to the status of a colony. He also voiced frustration
with the Russian leadership's unwillingness to come out in support of Crimea.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY IN UKRAINE.
William Perry, during a visit to
Ukraine on 31 March and 1 April, met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii
Shmarov, Foreign Minister Henadii Udovenko, and parliament speaker Oleksandr
Moroz, international agencies reported. Perry was positive about Ukraine's
disarmament efforts, noting that the country had removed all warheads from its
46 SS-24 strategic missiles (which carry 10 bombs each) and almost half its 130
six-warhead SS-19 missiles ahead of schedule. He visited the Pervomaisk missile
base, where he watched an SS-19 missile cut into scrap metal. Perry said the
U.S. intends to give Kiev aid for involvement in the Partnership for Peace
program and will cover part of the expenses connected with U.S.-Ukrainian
military exercises in the Transcarpathian Military District in May. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
ODESSA SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH TURKISH REGION.
Ukrainian Radio on 31 March
reported that the head of Odessa Oblast Council, Mykola Bohoyavlensky, signed
an agreement with a Turkish delegation from Kastamonou on economic and cultural
cooperation. The two regions will open naval, trade, and cultural
representations on each other's territory and will also start an air link
between Odessa and Inebol. Odessa has called for economic autonomy from Kiev
and demanded that it be made an economic free zone. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
ESTONIA'S KMU AND CENTER PARTY SIGN GOVERNMENT COALITION.
head of the Coalition Party and Rural Union (KMU) alliance, and Center Party
Chairman Edgar Savisaar signed an agreement on 31 March forming a government
coalition, BNS reported. The two leaders, whose parties control 57 of the 101
parliament seats, said the coalition could be expanded if other groups were
willing to accept the government program, which Vahi will have to present to
the parliament by 6 April. The coalition agreement does not envision any major
changes in government policies. Greater integration into the European Union and
NATO remain important goals. No changes are foreseen in the laws on citizenship
and aliens, and the kroon will remain pegged to the German mark. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIA DETERMINED TO DEPORT ASIAN REFUGEES.
Latvian Interior Minister
Janis Adamsons told Reuters on 2 April, after returning from a working visit to
Germany, that he will do everything possible to deport the more than 100 Iraqi,
Afghan, and Palestinian refugees stranded in two railroad cars in the border
town on Karsava. UNHCR officials assert that the refugees are asylum seekers
who "should at least be given temporary refuge," while Adamsons said they were
economic refugees who had paid Russian criminals to smuggle them to the West.
An Interior Ministry official said the refugees will probably be taken to a
reception center at Olaine, a small town 25 kilometer south of Riga, until they
can be deported. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
EU ASSISTS LITHUANIA TO SOLVE BORDER CROSSING PROBLEMS.
of Transportation Algirdas Sakalys told a news conference on 31 March that the
European Union granted Lithuania 5.2 million ECU ($6.9 million) to implement a
three-year program aimed at resolving border crossing problems, BNS reported on
1 April. The money will be used primarily to develop the infrastructure at
customs posts with Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast. Sakalys made the
announcement at the end of an international conference in Vilnius on
transportation and customs problems, attended by representatives from the
Baltic States, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Bulgaria.
-- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLAND'S FREEDOM UNION CHOOSES BALCEROWICZ, KURON AS LEADERS.
reform architect Leszek Balcerowicz ousted former Prime Minister Tadeusz
Mazowiecki as chairman of Poland's largest opposition party, the Freedom Union
(UW), at the party's second congress on 1-2 April, Radio Warsaw reported.
Mazowiecki had led the UW since its formation after his defeat in the 1990
presidential elections. Party delegates voted 313 to 174 for Balcerowicz,
reflecting the desire within the UW for a more dynamic leadership. They also
chose former Labor Minister and veteran opposition activist Jacek Kuron as the
UW's presidential candidate. Kuron defeated former Defense Minister Janusz
Onyszkiewicz by 242 to 231 in the second round of voting. Former Prime Minister
Hanna Suchocka was eliminated in the first round. The vote for Onyszkiewicz
showed strong support within the UW for a centrist candidate perceived as above
the conflicts that have threatened to divide the party. Kuron has long topped
all Polish opinion polls on public trust in politicians, but his left-wing past
effectively rules out any election alliance with right-of-center
post-Solidarity parties. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
GERMANY INVITES BARTOSZEWSKI TO PARLIAMENT SESSION.
Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has been invited to address the Bundestag and
Bundesrat session on 28 April marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World
War II. He will be the sole foreign guest to address the joint session of the
German parliament, Rzeczpospolita reported. The invitation was designed
to smooth ruffled feathers resulting from the failure to invite President Lech
Walesa to attend ceremonies in Berlin on 8 May to which leaders from France,
Britain, the U.S., and Russia were invited. Bartoszewski told reporters on 31
March that Walesa did not have time to attend the Berlin event and had not in
any case expected an invitation, but both the foreign minister and presidential
officials had previously protested that the failure to invite Walesa
disregarded Poland's contribution to the Allied victory. -- Louisa Vinton,
CZECH GOVERNING PARTY TO STAY IN COALITION.
The Civic Democratic
Alliance (ODA) has denied speculation that it is considering leaving the
government, Czech media reported. ODA leaders, meeting on 1-2 April, said a
police investigation into corruption charges against the head of the party's
Secretariat is politically motivated, but ODA chairman Jan Kalvoda, changing
his earlier position, said the affair did not implicate the party as a whole.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Josef Lux, head of the Christian Democratic
Union-People's Party, offered a merger to the smallest group in the four-party
governing coalition, the Christian Democratic Party (KDS), in advance of next
year's parliament elections. The KDS is already discussing the possibility of
joining forces with other parties. A poll published on 3 April showed that the
government has lost six points in its popularity rating in the last month,
dropping to 52%. Support for the opposition has grown five points, to 45%. --
Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK WORKERS HOLD PARTY CONGRESS.
The Association of Slovak Workers
held a party congress on 1-2 April in Banska Bystrica, Slovak media reported.
Representatives of the party's three coalition partners were present, as well
as the four government members who were nominated by the ASW. Reporters from
the dailies Sme, Novy Cas, and Smer dnes were not given
accreditation to attend the congress. An internal party conflict prompted three
of the party's parliament deputies--Miroslav Kocnar, Marian Polak ,and Klement
Kolnik--to leave the congress early. Kocnar said he left "in order to avoid
being jointly responsible for the ASW's future policies. This party will have
big problems in the next half a year because its current methods of work cannot
survive." Jan Luptak was reelected party chairman on 2 April, receiving 163 of
174 valid votes, and five new deputy chairmen were elected. According to
Luptak, the departure of three deputies from the congress will not damage the
party's stability. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIA FIGHTING INTENSIFIES.
International media on 3 April reported
that fighting in several parts of Bosnia continues to intensify, including in
the northwest pocket of Bihac. Bosnian government radio on 2 April said that
waves of Serbian and rebel Muslim infantry and tanks pounded the area, notably
around the town of Velika Kladusa. According to at least one local amateur
radio report, "everything [was] burning from shelling." Reuters the same day
quoted UN spokesman Herve Gourmelon as saying that only 185 explosions could be
accounted for in the area around Velika Kladusa, a number that the UN
representative dubbed "not exceptional." In other news, the U.S. ambassador to
Bosnia on 2 April announced that his departure from Sarajevo would take place
on 19 April. Ambassador Victor Jackovich, in a statement made available to the
press, said several members of staff will also be leaving over the next few
months. He added that "My departure--and that of my colleagues--should be
viewed as regular rotation for a posting in an environment as difficult and
risky as Bosnia." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ZAGREB HAILS UNCRO . . .
Croatian media have continued their coverage of
Zagreb's official reaction to the UN Security Council's passage on 31 March of
Resolution 981, which permits a scaled-down UN mandate for Croatia under the
banner of UNCRO in Croatia (a derivative of UN Confidence Restoration
Operation). Vjesnik reports that Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic
welcomed the resolution, acknowledging that it contains the much sought-after
reference to Croatia in its title and saying it "reaffirms the territorial
integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia." The newspaper on 1 April
published the text of the resolution, which affirms that the new UN mandate is
expected to see the shifting of some forces to positions along Croatia's
international borders and away from monitoring positions held by Croatia's own
rebel Krajina Serbs. Nasa Borba reported on 3 April that the Krajina
Serb leadership has predictably emerged as the most vocal opponent of the new
mandate, insisting that any change to the previous UN mandate is wholly
unacceptable. Reuters on 1 April quoted Milan Martic, president of the
self-styled Republic of Serbian Krajina, as saying the latest Security Council
Resolution "ignored the real situation . . . [which] will bring into question
our consent to the stay of peacekeepers in [Krajina]." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
. . . WHILE BOSNIA AND MACEDONIA RECEIVE NEW MANDATES.
The UN Security
Council has also passed Resolution 982, permitting the UN mandate in
Bosnia-Herzegovina to be extended until 30 November. Hina on 2 April reported
that Resolution 983 has also received the Security Council's approval. The
document stipulates that UNPROFOR in Macedonia "shall be known as the UN
Preventative Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) . . . and that the mandate of UNPREDEP
shall continue for a period terminating on 30 November 1995." -- Stan
Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN AIRLINER CRASHES NEAR BUCHAREST.
A TAROM plane carrying 50
passengers and a crew of 10 crashed at Balotesti, in the vicinity of Bucharest,
on 31 March shortly after taking off from Otopeni international airport,
Romanian and international media reported. The plane, an Airbus A-310, was on a
regular flight to Brussels. There were no survivors. Most of the passengers
were Belgian. Romanian media on 1 April speculated whether the cause was
sabotage. The daily Evenimentul zilei on 3 March reported that the
French ambassador to Bucharest received an anonymous phone call saying a bomb
had been planted on the plane. The caller said he did not belong to any
organization. The Romanian Intelligence Service dismissed the report as
"irrelevant." Nicolae Brutaru, the general manager of TAROM, ruled out pilot
error but said the airline was considering every other possible cause. --
Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
ILIESCU ON TELEVISION CONFLICT.
President Ion Iliescu on 30 March
described the hunger strike by TV trade union leader Dumitru Iuga as an
"abuse," Radio Bucharest reported. He said the parliament had been wrong to
make "too many concessions" on appointments to the Radio and Television
Managerial Council and that the trade unions had "no say" in the matter. He
added that the management of Romanian TV should not have let the trade unions
elect the representatives of TV employees, arguing that this contravened "the
spirit of the law." An additional mistake, he said, was to allow
"non-professional staff" to participate in the elections. Meanwhile, Radio
Bucharest on 31 March reported that Eugen Preda, former director-general of
Romanian Radio, said in an open letter to the parliament that the elections to
the Managerial Council (now said to have been unlawful by the majority party
and its allies) were conducted after the parliament's two commissions on mass
media and culture failed to clarify who was entitled to participate in the
vote, though they were repeatedly asked to do so. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI,
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON STUDENT STRIKE.
Radio Bucharest quoted Mircea
Snegur as saying he would continue to "search for a compromise" with the
strikers, "despite demands to end the strike by radical methods." Snegur did
not say who was making such demands. He also commented that the negotiations
were "encountering difficulties." The president of the strikers' committee,
Anatol Petrenco, said the strike would end only if Article 1 of the
constitution is changed to stipulate that Romanian, rather than "Moldovan," is
the country's official language. He added that the provision saying that the
state ensures the right to use Russian and other languages spoken in Moldova
should be replaced by a new formulation. The strikers said that the parliament
has not included a debate on Article 1 on its agenda, despite promises by
Snegur. They also noted that parliament chairman Petru Lucinschi canceled a
scheduled meeting with strike leaders. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
UZBEK PRESIDENT IN CHISINAU.
At the end of his two-day visit to
Chisinau, Islam Karimov signed with his Moldovan counterpart, Mircea Snegur, a
document outlining a friendship and cooperation treaty, Interfax reported on 31
March. Seventeen other agreements on, among other things, trade and scientific
and cultural cooperation were also signed. Karimov pledged firm support for
Moldovan independence and said Uzbekistan believed all disputes should be
solved peacefully and without external interference. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI,
BULGARIA, GREECE CALL FOR LIFTING OF YUGOSLAVIA SANCTIONS.
Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias,
meeting in Sofia on 1-2 April, called for an end to the international sanctions
against rump Yugoslavia, AFP reported. They proposed a conference of the
region's main countries to press for the sanctions to be lifted. Pirinski asked
neighboring countries hit by trade losses resulting from the embargo to appeal
jointly to the United Nations and other international organizations for
compensation. Papoulias proposed that Bulgaria, Belarus, Hungary, Romania,
Ukraine, and possibly Russia hold a conference in Athens later this month to
discuss a common strategy. Pirinski suggested that Albania, Austria, Italy,
Macedonia, and Slovenia also attend. He added that Bulgaria is ready to accept
$3 million from the International Monetary Fund in compensation for trade
losses due to the sanctions. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN JUDGES RESIGN IN SIGN OF PROTEST.
The chief judge of Tirana's
district court and his deputies resigned on 31 March in protest at government
interference in their work, international news agencies reported the same day.
They accused Justice Minister Hektor Frasheri and his deputy of interfering in
the court's work and trying to bring it under the jurisdiction of the Justice
Ministry and government. Frasheri, they said, tried to stop certain cases from
being heard and to influence the hiring and firing of even low-level employees.
Gazeta Shqiptare cited chief judge Agim Bendo as saying "our resignation
is a protest against the decisions of the justice minister." A Justice Ministry
spokesman called the resignations "hasty and unmotivated," insisting that the
Justice Ministry's actions "have been based in law." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave