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Newsline - April 5, 1995


FILATOV ACCUSES FEDERATION COUNCIL OF DELAYING ELECTION LAW.
The Federation Council intends to delay adoption of the electoral law for forming the State Duma, presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov told Interfax on 4 April. He warned that the law should not be held hostage to "momentary situations" in the country, "nor can it be made a rule to change the rules of the game every year." He said President Boris Yeltsin could sign the draft law even though the Duma voted to elect half of the new members by party lists against the president's wishes. Ramazan Abdulatipov, deputy chairman of the Federation Council, confirmed that the parliament's upper house was unlikely to approve the Duma's version of the bill, Russian Radio reported. * Robert Orttung

JUDGE SEES NO PROBLEM WITH POSTPONING ELECTIONS.
Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov said former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi's allegations that Yeltsin intends to postpone the elections were not serious, NTV reported 4 April. However, he said "nothing terrible will happen if the elections are held a little later.... Technical changes are possible and not of principal importance provided, naturally, that the powers of deputies and the president are not stretched from two to three or four years." * Robert Orttung

YELTSIN'S AIDE ACCUSES ILYUKHIN OF "INVENTIONS."
Presidential aide Georgy Satarov dismissed accusations made by Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin concerning plots to delay parliamentary and presidential elections, Interfax reported on 4 April. Ilyukhin said the president's staff were encouraging the Federation Council to reject the Duma's draft electoral law, and he further speculated that Yeltsin's men were planning to stage coups in several Russian regions during the late stages of the campaign. Satarov told Interfax that Communists had a special talent for fabricating various coup plans. He also charged that Communist Duma deputies had deliberately violated Duma procedures by introducing amendments to the electoral law during a vote on its first reading. By purposely breaking the rules, Saratov added, the Communists hoped to provoke the Council or Yeltsin into rejecting the draft electoral law. * Laura Belin

BOROVOI TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
Konstantin Borovoi, leader of the Party of Economic Freedom, has declared his intention to run for president in 1996, Interfax reported on 4 April. Borovoi said democratic parties should form an electoral bloc and nominate a joint candidate for president to stop communists and fascists from returning to power. On 28 March, at his party's fourth congress, Borovoi complained that state-run mass media, especially Ostankino TV, imposed an "information blockade" on his party's ideas and activities, which he claimed were very popular outside the capital, Segodnya reported. Although only five State Duma deputies belong to the Party of Economic Freedom, 75 regional and 30 provincial branches of the party are registered. Borovoi told Interfax on 4 April that in some regional legislatures, his party is the only democratically-oriented bloc. * Laura Belin

AGRARIAN LEADER DENIES ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS.
Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin has denied reports that his party will form a single electoral alliance with Gennady Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Interfax reported on 4 April. Lapshin said his party of 250,000 members would work with Vasily Starodubtsev's Agrarian Union, Alexander Davydov's Trade Unions of the Agro-Industrial Complex, and Anatoly Vorontsov's National Council of Collective Farms. Lapshin said the Russian peasantry will no longer act as anyone's little brother. The party's potential support is large since more than a third of the Russian population lives in the countryside. Lyudmila Vartazarova also denied that her Socialist Worker's Party had already formed an alliance with the Communists, saying Zyuganov "was obviously in a hurry when he made the announcement." * Robert Orttung

CRIMINALS TO ENTER PARLIAMENT?
Various criminal organizations may contest the December 1995 elections to the Russian parliament, Federation Council Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov told a delegation of Australian parliamentarians in Moscow on 4 April, Interfax and Radio Rossii reported. Abdulatipov said criminals have already demonstrated their ability to win seats in regional legislatures. In his opinion, it will be difficult and dangerous for an ordinary person to win a seat in the parliament, particularly in the south of the country. * Penny Morvant

MILITARY MAIN SOURCE OF CRIMINALS' WEAPONS.
The Russian military remains "the major and stable source" of arms used by criminals and in regions plagued by ethnic conflicts, according to the Russian Interior Ministry. Alexander Dementyev, the deputy head of the ministry's Department for the Fight against Organized Crime, told Interfax that some observers claim the bulk of illegally held arms disappear from warehouses of the Defense Ministry. He added that arms are also stolen directly from manufacturing enterprises and said the ministry is conducting an investigation into a group who tried to deliver 4,350 hand guns from an Izhevsk arms plant to Grozny in Chechnya. Dementyev said 1,247 thefts of arms and ammunition were reported in 1994, while nearly 17,000 crimes were committed involving firearms. * Doug Clarke

TEACHERS DEMAND INCREASED FUNDING FOR SCIENCE AND EDUCATION.
Arguing that the fall in living standards of teachers and researchers is inflicting considerable damage on the education sector, delegates to the second congress of the Education and Science Workers' Union called on the government to raise their wages to match those in industry, Russian media reported on 4 April. The average monthly wage in Russia is 280,000 rubles, while the average for teachers is 180,000 rubles. Noting that the sector has received less than half the funds it needs, the congress urged parliament to pass legislation giving priority to science and education. It also called for amendments to the law on education to guarantee Russians free secondary education. The union leadership did not call on its workers to take part in the 12 April day of action but said it will stage protests, including warning strikes, later in the year if its demands are not met. * Penny Morvant

BANKERS URGE AUTHORITIES TO FIGHT CRIME.
The Association of Russian Banks, which unites more than 900 banks, has called on the president, government, and Duma to take steps to establish law and order in Russia, Interfax reported on 4 April. According to the association, more than 60 attempts have been made on the lives of bank managers and other personnel in the past three years; 31 people have been killed and 11 seriously injured. * Penny Morvant

CENTRAL BANK RECALLS LICENSES FROM 14 BANKS.
Russia's Central Bank recalled licenses from 14 banks, ten of which "violated the laws, pursued risky crediting policy, and operated at a loss," the Financial Information Agency reported on 4 April. Four banks announced mergers with other banks. Fifty banks have had their licenses revoked since the beginning of the year. There are about 2,500 commercial banks operating in Russia. * Thomas Sigel

RUSSIA TO LAUNCH INVESTMENT IMAGE CAMPAIGN.
The Russian government, together with several leading Western corporations, will launch a campaign to improve the country's investment image on world markets, Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin told Interfax on 4 April. The decision resulted from a two-day Moscow meeting with working groups from the Investment Policy Council. The meeting was attended by Western corporation representatives including Coca Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Ernst & Young, BASF, Siemens, Mitsui, Mobil, Renault, British Petroleum, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Yasin, who chaired the meeting, estimated the cost of the promotion campaign at around $5 million. * Thomas Sigel

ECONOMIST ILLARIONOV SAYS ECONOMY CLOSE TO STABILIZATION.
The Russian economy has never been so close to financial stabilization, according to Economic Analysis Institute director Andrei Illarionov, Interfax reported on 4 April. The economist predicted the ruble will not fall below 6,000 rubles to $1 and the Central Bank will have to take steps to steady the currency. Illarionov said that by mid-year, inflation could fall to 3% a month compared to 9% in March, 11% in February, and 18% in January. But to achieve that, the government must work hard to keep positive economic trends in motion, even though such efforts will result in falling incomes and rising unemployment. Illarionov said Russia's agreement with the IMF on a $6.3 billion standby credit is one of the main factors aiding financial stabilization. * Thomas Sigel

OSCE AS THE BASIS FOR NEW SECURITY ORDER IN EUROPE.
The OSCE should form the basis for the security order in Europe, according to several Russian officials, speaking during U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry's visit to Moscow. Grachev said the security order in Europe "must be built around the OSCE with the participation of other existing bodies, including NATO," Interfax reported on 3 April. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin expressed a similar view. Meanwhile, a think piece on a new security model for 21st century Europe presented by the Russian delegation to the meeting of the OSCE Senior Council in Prague on 30-31 March said the organization's "transformation into an instrument of security and stability in Europe does not necessarily secure its formal leading role in any hierarchic system of organizations." * Michael Mihalka

KOKOSHIN: ENDING BUFFER ZONE DESTABILIZES EUROPE.
Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin has argued that eastward expansion by NATO would create instability in Europe by removing the "semi-demilitarized zone which has now emerged in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE." Nezavismaya Gazeta reported on 4 April that Kokoshin believes it is "necessary to abandon the false impression that NATO expansion is inevitable and unavoidable." Rather, any new security order in Europe should be based on a broader basis than NATO including the development of bilateral relations. * Michael Mihalka



KARIMOV MEETS WITH TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Kazi Akbar Turadzhonzoda, deputy chairman of the armed Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRP), met in Tashkent to discuss security in Central Asia and the situation in and around Tajikistan. Karimov called on the Tajik opposition to abandon military means of achieving their goals; Turadzhonzoda described the meeting as constructive, Interfax reported on 3 April. The meeting is likely to have raised some eyebrows in Tashkent as the Karimov leadership has gone to considerable lengths to ensure the defeat of the IRP in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and religious-based movements and organizations are banned in Uzbekistan. The IRP has been fighting against the neo-communist government in Dushanbe, which seized power in November 1992, from bases in Afghanistan while the Uzbek government has been a staunch supporter of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov. A ceasefire between the Tajik opposition and Tajik government forces has been in effect since September; it was due to expire in early March but was extended until 26 April to make possible continued negotiations. * Lowell Bezanis

UZBEK CURRENCY EXCHANGE.
Currency trading sessions were scheduled to begin on a biweekly basis in Uzbekistan on 4 April due to the expanded resource base of the market, Uzbek Central Bank deputy chairman Mahmudzhon Askarov told Interfax. Thirteen commercial banks are now authorized to handle foreign currency, up from six, and the republic's currency exchange sold around $140 million in the first three months of 1995, according to Askarov. The Central Bank forecasts an increase in its turnover to an estimated $1.2-1.5 billion, due to intensified trading at the currency exchange. * Lowell Bezanis



UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT LOSES CONFIDENCE VOTE.
The Ukrainian parliament on 3 April voted 292 to 15 to pass a no confidence resolution in the government after hearing the cabinet's annual report on the state of the economy, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAR reported the same day. Under Ukrainian law, a no confidence vote automatically leads to the government's dismissal, though legislators instructed cabinet members to remain in office until the Ukrainian chamber approves a new government. Deputies also voted to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Vitaliy Masol, who stepped down in late February. Parliament deputy speaker Oleh Diomin blasted what he called the government's failure to implement parliament resolutions and presidential decrees. Reaction to the government's dismissal was mixed. Presidential adviser and National Security Council secretary Volodymyr Horbulin told Interfax that it paves the way for President Leonid Kuchma to reform the entire system of government and make personnel changes he has long wanted to implement. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES FURTHER REFORMS, CALLS FOR UNITY.
President Leonid Kuchma, in his annual state of the nation address to the Ukrainian parliament, promised further economic reforms but with a greater social orientation, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 4 April. While warning deputies not to delay approving the austere 1995 draft budget, he pledged to look into overhauling the social welfare system to help the neediest in Ukrainian society. Kuchma also appealed for an end to the ongoing struggle between the executive and legislative branches and called on legislators to pass the constitutional bill on the separation of government powers, which would him greater authority to implement reforms. He defended his recent crackdown on Crimean separatism as a peaceful solution to a potentially explosive conflict in Ukraine. Kuchma also said he supported giving the National Bank of Ukraine an independent status. The bank is currently under the Ukrainian parliament's jurisdiction. * Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SUSPENDS INVESTMENT FUNDS.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree suspending all specialized investment funds and calling for a comprehensive inquiry into their activities, Interfax reported on 4 April. The president's press secretary, Uladzimir Zamyatalin, said the decree should not be regarded as anti-market reform. He explained that it was issued because there are no appropriate legal mechanisms regulating the operations of the investment funds. Some 200 entities currently participate in the securities market, including 31 specialized investment funds. Belarusian radio on 3 April quoted the president of the first Belarusian investment fund, Alyaksandr Samankou, as saying that the more than 100,000 people who have handed their privatization checks over to such funds will suffer losses as a result of the decree. * Ustina Markus

N0-CONFIDENCE MOTION AGAINST LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.
The Seimas on 4 April decided to hold a secret no-confidence vote in Deputy Chairman Juozas Bernatonis, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported. The opposition proposed the motion, saying that Bernatonis had acted improperly on 12 March when he ended a Seimas session before a vote on a resolution on Chechnya could be taken. Bernatonis has said he acted properly. It seems unlikely that the no-confidence motion will get the necessary 71 votes because the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party has said its members will not participate in the ballot. * Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN GAS COMPANY TO CUT SUPPLIES TO TARDY ENTERPRISES.
Adrians Davis, president of the state shareholding company Latvia's Gas, has begun implementing the government's decision to decrease gas supplies to companies that have not paid for gas this year, BNS reported on 4 April. Davis said households would not be affected as 80-85% are paying their gas bills. Latvia's Gas is now owed about 52 million lati ($100 million). But the company owes its largest supplier, Russia's Gazprom, about $18 million and the state about 8 million lati. If the debt to Gazprom is not paid by the end of April, Russia has threatened to stop sending gas to the Incukalns storage tanks where next winter's gas is to be stored. * Saulius Girnius

COMPROMISE ON CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN POLAND.
The commission drafting the new constitution on 4 April voted to accept a compromise formula on Church-state relations proposed by the Freedom Union's Tadeusz Mazowiecki. Twelve versions were put to the vote, Rzeczpospolita reported. The final version of Article 16 uses the term "impartiality" rather than "neutrality" to describe the state's position on worldview questions. It guarantees equal rights for all faiths, says that Church and state are "autonomous and independent," and stipulates that a concordat will regulate relations with the Roman Catholic Church. These formulations address most of the objections raised by the Catholic hierarchy. Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, the episcopate secretary, expressed satisfaction with the outcome. Complaints by left-wing deputies suggested that commission chairman Aleksander Kwasniewski will be hard-pressed to retain the support of his own Democratic Left Alliance when parliament votes on the draft, which is one-quarter finished. * Louisa Vinton

NUMBER OF FOREIGNERS IN CZECH REPUBLIC DOUBLES.
Hospodarske noviny on 5 April reports that the number of foreigners with long-term residence in the Czech Republic grew by 56% in 1994, reaching 104,300. Of these, the biggest groups are Poles and Slovaks, while there are a significant number of Ukrainians, Vietnamese, Chinese, Germans, Americans, and citizens of the former Yugoslavia. A total of 319,000 Slovaks and 2,881 other nationals gained Czech citizenship in 1993 and 1994. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK CABINET TO DECIDE ON MOCHOVCE.
The Slovak cabinet on 4 April began discussions on alternative financing to complete the nuclear plant at Mochovce. The EBRD was scheduled in late March to vote on whether to grant Slovakia a loan to complete the project in cooperation with Electricite de France (EdF). Just before the decision was to be made, Slovak officials asked the bank to delay the vote. Two other options are now being discussed: funding from Russia and an offer from the Czech firm Skoda Praha to be financed by Czech banks. The Czech offer reportedly undercuts the French one by a third. A fourth alternative is a combination of the Russian and Czech proposals. An official from the Slovakia's Nuclear Supervisory Authority submitted a report to the cabinet saying that security at the country's other nuclear plant, at Jaslovske Bohunice, has improved significantly over the past year. The EBRD has emphasized that the older reactors would have to be closed once Mochovce was running, but the Czech proposal does not stipulate this measure. According to TASR on 4 April, Skoda Praha has said it will implement all the security measures planned by the EdF. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK FOREIGN RELATIONS.
Chinese Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Chichen on 4 April completed a four-day official visit to Slovakia, where he met with top officials. Discussions focused on bilateral economic relations and Slovakia's efforts to integrate into European structures, Slovak media reported. The Chinese expressed interest in establishing a business center in Bratislava. In other news, Slovak and Austrian Transport Ministers Alexander Rezes and Viktor Klima agreed on 3 April that by the end of the century a new fast train will link Vienna with Bratislava and pass through the two cities' airports, Narodna obroda reports. * Sharon Fisher



FAIR WEATHER MEANS MORE WARFARE IN BOSNIA.
The arrival of spring in the Balkans in recent days has meant intensified combat in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 5 April quotes UN sources as saying that the Tuzla area, in the northeast, continues to be the scene of particularly stiff combat and that government forces have captured a key television relay station on Mt. Vlasic, just above Travnik in central Bosnia. But it appears that the Serbs' threatened counteroffensive has yet to materialize, although it could begin soon if the snows melt in the mountains. As late as last week, there were blizzards in western Bosnia's mountains, which led to five Croatian soldiers freezing to death and the rescue of the rest of their convoy, including Croatian Chief of Staff General Janko Bobetko, by UNPROFOR. * Patrick Moore

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONTINUES PROTESTS, THREATS IN EX-YUGOSLAVIA.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 5 April reported that the UN has protested to the Serbs over continued attacks on Bihac and the five other UN-protected "safe areas" in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nasa Borba said that the Contact Group, meeting in London, wants to apply more pressure on the Sarajevo government to extend the current ceasefire beyond its 1 May expiry date, although the agreement has largely broken down in recent weeks and was never really in force in the Bihac area. That paper also reported that international mediator David Owen told the Albanian-language Kosovo weekly Koha that the international community will not accept the secession of any parts of existing ex-Yugoslav republics--namely, Krajina, Kosovo, and the largely ethnic Albanian areas of western Macedonia. He denied, however, that any solution eventually worked out for Krajina could be automatically applied to Kosovo. Owen advised the Kosovo Albanians to forget about independence and to talk to the Serbs about political autonomy. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic abolished Kosovo's wide-ranging self-rule granted by Josip Broz Tito's 1974 Yugoslav constitution. Nasa Borba also reported on the cost of the current conflict for all parties in the former Yugoslavia and concluded that Austria has made more money out of that area than it has with its former trading partners in EFTA. * Patrick Moore

SERBIAN UPDATE.
Reuters on 4 April quoted international sanctions monitors as saying that Belgrade appears to be keeping its border with Bosnia-Herzegovina closed. "We have given Belgrade a clean bill of health in our report to the Geneva headquarters of the Co-Chairmen of the International Conference on Former Yugoslavia," ICFY spokesman Geoff Gartshore said. Reuters adds, however, that some Western diplomats in Belgrade have said that while there is no evidence that Belgrade is violating its own blockade, "a vast body of pin-prick violations" and reports of helicopter supply flights from Serbia to Bosnian Serb-held territory are worrisome. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 5 April reports that farmers and agricultural workers staged protests in Belgrade against the government's agricultural policies. Farm representatives are scheduled to meet with Serbian government officials on 14 April. * Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO SOLVE TELEVISION CONFLICT.
A joint session of Romania's bicameral parliament on 4 April failed to solve the conflict over the appointment of the Television Administrative Council. The legislature approved five of the 13 members endorsed by the parliament's commissions for mass media and culture but none of the candidates proposed by the opposition. Niculai Constantin Munteanu, who was elected by television employees and approved by the commissions, failed to win the necessary votes in the parliament to secure the nomination, Radio Bucharest reported. He is the second employees' candidate not to be appointed to the council. The failure of the commissions to approve the candidacy of philosopher Gabriel Liiceanu
triggered the hunger strike of television Free Trade Union leader Dumitru Iuga, whose protest action has now lasted for more than one month. The elections were boycotted by the bulk of the opposition to show solidarity with Iuga and to protest the parliament majority's handling of the appointments. * Michael Shafir

TAROM CRASH UPDATE.
Radio Bucharest on 4 April, citing the Belgian daily Le Soir, reported that the cause of the Tarom aircraft disaster was technical failure, not a bomb explosion. The Romanian airline plane crashed on 31 March en route to Brussels. Le Soir said it had obtained the text of the last conversation between the co-pilot and the control tower in Bucharest. It reported that the co-pilot had complained about a technical problem just before the plane crashed. According to Romania libera on 4 April, the co-pilot had asked what was going on "in the back" of the plane. Radio Bucharest quoted the city's chief coroner, Vladimir Belis, as insisting that the crash was caused by an explosion but not necessarily by a bomb. Hoax bomb calls continued on 4 April. Romanian Television reported that a Tarom flight bound for Copenhagen made an emergency landing in Warsaw after a phone call claiming a bomb had been planted on board. Bucharest's Otopeni and Baneasa airports were again closed several times following anonymous bomb threats. * Michael Shafir

CHRISTOPHER URGES ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN ACCORD.
US Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 3 April urged Romania and Hungary to settle through diplomacy their differences over the treatment of ethnic minorities, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Christopher said he was encouraged by the treaty, concluded in March, between Hungary and Slovakia and hoped a similar treaty could be negotiated between Hungary and Romania. He added that "we will do all we can to encourage it." Chrisopher was speaking at a conference of human rights activists and minority representatives at the State Department in Washington. * Michael Shafir

SHUMEIKO WANTS RUSSIAN FORCES AND WEAPONS OUT OF MOLDOVA.
Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko, arriving in Chisinau for a two-day visit on 4 April, said the 14th Army should withdraw from Moldova immediately, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Shumeiko said "the experience of the Chechen conflict shows that weapons should be urgently withdrawn from hot spots." He also said the problems involving the breakaway region are Moldova's internal affair and should be settled by political means. Russia, he noted, should act "only as a mediator in the process." Radio Bucharest quoted Shumeiko as saying Moldovans were "fully justified" in protesting the presence of Duma deputies as observers in the recent referendum on the withdrawal of the 14th Army. * Michael Shafir

UPDATE ON CHISINAU STUDENT STRIKE.
Anatol Petrenco, leader of the strikers' committee, said the special commission set up by President Mircea Snegur was unable to meet the strikers' main demands, according to Radio Bucharest on 5 April. Some demands of an economic nature are reported to have been met. But the strikers want changes in the constitution's preamble, which refers to historical aspirations for an independent Moldova. They also want Article 13, defining "Moldovan" as the country's official language, to be amended. * Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ON UN SANCTIONS, SCHENGEN AGREEMENT.
Zhan Videnov, speaking at the Atlantic Club in Sofia on 4 April, said that countries hit by trade losses caused by the UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia should appeal jointly to the UN and other international organizations for compensation, Bulgarian media reported the next day. He also considered the consequences of the Schengen agreement for Bulgaria. The Schengen countries, he noted, want to protect themselves against organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism. Videnov said his government will fight all these criminal manifestations so that the visa restrictions for Bulgarian citizens can be lifted. * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN DAILY ALLEGES RELEASED ALBANIAN GREEKS INVOLVED IN MAVI TERRORISM.
Gazeta Shqiptare on 5 April alleged that five ethnic Greeks from Albania who were arrested in April 1994 on charges of illegal arms possession and espionage were involved in terrorist activities. The five were released on 8 February following Greek diplomatic and economic pressure. Greek police, following the recent arrest of a group of seven armed men near the Albanian border, cracked down on MAVI activists and gathered evidence about the terrorist activities of the Greek nationalist Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI). Gazeta Shqiptare quoted former Greek Transport Minister Theodoros Pangalos as saying that "it is very possible that [the five] have connections to the ultranationalist command that has been arrested recently." * Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN TRADE UNIONS THREATEN STRIKE.
The Albanian government has rejected trade union demands for a 35% rise in public sector wages, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 April. Dashamir Shehi, deputy head of the Council of Ministers, is quoted as saying that "the state's current finances do not allow it to meet these demands." Trade unions representing workers in the education, health, and telecommunications sectors have threatened to strike if their demands are not met. An unspecified number of newspapers also threatened protest action after the publishing house Demokracia raised printing costs by about 35%, Koha Jone reported on 31 March. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



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