RUSSIA'S CHOICE FOR ELECTORAL ASSOCIATION.
The Russia's Choice political
council proposed creating a coalition of "democratic and centrist
organizations" for the upcoming parliamentary elections, Interfax reported on 9
April. Although most Russia's Choice members broke with President Boris Yeltsin
in December over his handling of the Chechen crisis, the council invited the
president to "take an active part" in forming the democratic electoral bloc. It
advocated nominating only one democratic, pro-reform candidate in each
electoral constituency. Meanwhile, State Duma deputy and Russia's Choice member
Vladimir Ryzhkov suggested the group hopes to cooperate with a broad range of
political forces during the campaign. Ryzhkov named Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin,
Yeltsin's Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais as possible leaders of a
democratic electoral association, Interfax reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
DUMA DROPS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE FROM AGENDA.
Duma Chairman Rybkin said the
no-confidence vote in the government had been dropped from the agenda at the
legislature's 7 April session, Interfax reported. The planned vote was dropped
after 31 deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Faction
withdrew their support for the move. The deputies dropped out because of
disputes over several issues, including the vote to deprive Sergei Mavrodi of
his deputy's immunity and the introduction of changes in the law on military
service. The withdrawal of Zhirinovsky's supporters meant the motion lost the
necessary 90 signatures. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
STABILITY DEPUTY GROUP FORMS MOVEMENT.
The new Stability faction in the
Duma has created a political movement called Stable Russia, Interfax reported
on 9 April. Eighty-eight delegates from 58 regions attended the movement's
founding conference in Moscow on 9 April. One source at the conference told
Interfax the movement's goal is "to find ways to solve the cardinal problems of
the country's future development and unite efforts for the sake of general
accord and the transformation of Russia." Yeltsin's advisers helped set up the
Stability parliamentary faction to give the president more support in the Duma.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
FOUNDER OF AGRARIAN PARTY STABBED TO DEATH.
Sergei Kushnyarov, a
founding member of the Agrarian Party, was stabbed to death on 6 April at his
home outside Moscow, Reuters reported the following day. A spokesman for the
police said it was probably a contract killing and might have been connected
with a commercial dispute. Kushnyarov was not a member of parliament but
remained active in the Agrarian Party. The main Department of Internal Affairs
of the Moscow region said on 7 April that in the first quarter of 1995, the
number of murders there had increased by 30% over the same period of 1994,
Interfax reported. Also on 7 April, Maj.-Gen. Vasily Kuptsov of Moscow's
criminal police said a gang of contract killers suspected of murdering more
than 40 people had been rounded up, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
10-member gang is from the Siberian city of Novokuznetsk; most of their victims
were businessmen or rival gang members. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
MAVRODI'S WIFE TO RUN FOR DUMA SEAT.
Yelena Mavrodi, the wife of MMM
investment company head and parliamentary deputy Sergei Mavrodi, will run for
the seat in the Kolomna constituency of Moscow Oblast formerly represented by
the late Sergei Skorochkin, who was assassinated in February,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 7 April. Yelena Mavrodi, a 25-year-old
former photo model, is the only woman among the 17 candidates and the youngest
contender. She must gather 5,250 signatures of support before 17 April to
register. Other prominent figures who have shown interest in the seat include
the "fascist" Alexei Vedenkin, Officers' Union head Stanislav Terekhov, and
cosmonaut German Titov. Also on 7 April, the Duma turned down a request by
acting Prosecutor-General Alexei Ilyushenko to lift Sergei Mavrodi's immunity
and thus clear the way for his prosecution on charges of tax evasion, Interfax
reported. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA APPROVES LONGER CONSCRIPTION.
On 7 April the State Duma passed
legislation that would extend the draft to two years from the present 18
months, Interfax reported. It will also require college graduates who had
received deferrals to serve one year as privates, while those attending schools
with military training will serve one year under contract, after which they
will be transferred to the reserves as officers. The new rules will take effect
on 1 October if they are passed by the Federation Council and signed by the
president. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
NEW RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA.
On 8 April, Russian troops took the
west Chechen town of Samashki, one of the last outposts of resistance, after
two days' bombardment in which hundreds of civilians were killed, Russian and
Western agencies reported. On 9 April, Russian tanks launched an offensive
against two other villages east of Grozny in violation of an agreement that the
population would expel supporters of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in
return for immunity from a Russian attack, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller,
OVER 500 OFFICERS REFUSED CHECHNYA DUTY.
Lt.-Gen. Yevgeny Vysotsky, who
heads the General Staff's personnel department, said on 7 April that 557
officers had refused to serve in Chechnya. He told ITAR-TASS they had been
dismissed from the service. Three former deputy defense ministers who had
criticized the fighting--generals Gromov, Mironov, and Kondratev--were not
among them, the agency added. Vysotsky said the most common reason for the
officers' reticence was a lack of confidence in the personnel under their
command. He branded that as "cowardice and non-fulfillment of the oath of
allegiance." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN TO CLEAN UP KOMI OIL SPILL.
The World Bank said
on 7 April that it had concluded negotiations with the Russian government on a
$99 million emergency loan to help clean up oil spilled last autumn from a
ruptured pipeline in the northern republic of Komi, Western agencies reported.
The EBRD and the Komineft group, which uses the pipeline, will contribute $25
million and $16 million respectively to the project. A World Bank statement
said about 730,000 barrels of oil (about 100,000 tons) leaked from the pipeline
last year and the spring thaw could result in the contamination of rivers and
water supplies. The plan will involve building containment structures before
the thaw to keep the oil from spreading, continuing clean-up operations, and
tightening security around the pipeline. The bank warned the project is
unlikely to be completely successful but said partial success is better than
inaction. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT PLANS TO RAISE INCOME TAX.
The government plans to raise
income taxes on individuals and lower company taxes, State Tax Service head
Vladimir Gusev told reporters on 7 April, according to Western agencies. He
said the tax burden on individuals was relatively low and the rate for the
highest earners should be raised to 50-60%. The current rate is 12% on salaries
of less than 10 million rubles, 20% for salaries of 10-50 million rubles, and
30% for higher earners. Gusev also said some foreign companies recently hit by
a 38% excess wages tax on all wages over 125,000 rubles a month would be given
an extra six months in which to pay. Foreign companies were outraged when the
government announced in March its intention to apply the tax retroactively to 1
January 1994 to foreign firms with representative offices in Russia.
Subsidiaries of foreign firms and joint ventures had always been subject to the
tax, but representative offices had been exempt. Gusev agreed the tax is
undesirable but said it will be kept in place until next year. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
IRAN CUT OUT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL DEAL?
Iran News has alleged that
Azerbaijan's national oil concern SOCAR, which had sold 25% of its own stake in
the Caspian Sea oil drilling project to Iran's National Oil Company (NIOC) last
February, has reneged on its promise, AFP reported on 8 April. The stake is
portion of the total shares held by an international consortium led by British
Petroleum and Norway's Statoil and including U.S., Saudi, Russian, and Turkish
interests. The Iranian paper termed the move a "hostile gesture" and accused
leaders in Azerbaijan of having "pocketed U.S. dollars" to push NIOC aside. It
went on to say that Iran could be prompted to stop backing Baku in its
territorial conflict with Armenia and could oppose the project on legal grounds
by arguing that the exploitation of the Caspian Sea resources requires the
approval of all littoral states, as Russia has argued. Iranian Foreign Minister
Ali Akbar Velayati, without elaborating, told the official Iranian news agency
IRNA that "the unilateral cancellation of the oil agreement between Iran and
Azerbaijan was against Baku's interest," Western news agencies reported on 10
April. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
WORST FIGHTING OF YEAR IN TAJIKISTAN.
The heaviest fighting so far in
1995 occurred 7 April in several areas along the Tajik-Afghan border, Interfax
reported. On 7 April, 14 Kazakh and five Tajik border guards were killed in a
six-hour battle. Tajik opposition forces attempted to cross from Afghanistan
into the Pyanj, Moskovsky, Yazgulyam, and Khorog areas. At the Dashti-Yazgulem
border post, near Khorog, four Russian soldiers were killed in fighting on 9
April, AFP reported. The Tajik government appealed to the UN and the CIS to
take emergency measures to stabilize the problem on the border, according to
Reuters. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
ATTACKS ON RUSSIAN FACILITIES IN TBILISI.
The Algeti Wolves, a hitherto
unknown group, opened fire on Russian military headquarters in Tbilisi in the
early morning of 9 April to protest the Russian military intervention in
Chechnya, the attack on Georgian demonstrators in Tbilisi on 9 April 1989, and
the recently signed agreement on Russian military bases in Georgia, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Also on 9 April, unknown attackers blew up the guard
post outside the Russian ambassador's residence in Tbilisi. The Georgian
government, in a statement broadcast by Radio Tbilisi, condemned the incident
as a "terrorist attack." -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
SUHARTO IN UZBEKISTAN.
As part of a six-day tour of Central Asia aimed
at increasing trade and cooperation, Indonesian President Suharto, accompanied
by a 160-strong entourage including some 26 businessmen, arrived in Tashkent on
8 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. The same day, Uzbek President
Islam Karimov and Suharto signed a declaration on bilateral cooperation in
tourism and air communication, Interfax reported on 9 April. The deal will
permit Uzbekistan Airways to open a Tashkent-Jakarta link next month, as
planned, paving the way for more commercial contact and for Indonesian pilgrims
to visit various holy sites in Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA WOULD HALT BLACK SEA TRANSFERS.
The State Duma passed a bill on 7
April that calls for a moratorium on any reduction of the Black Sea Fleet
"until problems between Russia and Ukraine over the fleet are resolved,
Interfax reported. The law will also apply to coastal defense units and the
fleet's aviation as well as the fleet's shore-based infrastructure. The
Federation Council must still act on the measure. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA TO DEBATE SEVASTOPOL'S STATUS.
The State Duma backed a proposal by
deputy Alexei Zvyagin of the Liberal Democratic Party to debate the legality of
Sevastopol's transfer to Ukraine, Interfax reported on 7 April. Zvyagin also
proposed debating the introduction of sanctions against Ukraine, holding a
no-confidence vote in First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets for his
policies towards Ukraine, and asking President Yeltsin to cancel his plans to
visit Ukraine. None of the motions passed. The following day, Ukrainian Foreign
Minister Henadii Udovenko told Interfax that while he thought Russian interests
in Crimea should be discussed, he is opposed to a Duma debate on Sevastopol's
status. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
IMF APPROVES CREDITS TO UKRAINE.
The IMF on 7 April voted to approve
credits worth $1.96 billion to Ukraine, international agencies reported. The
decision follows the Ukrainian parliament's approval the previous day of the
state budget, which provides for a deficit amounting to 7.3% of GDP. The IMF
credits include a $1.5 billion stand-by credit and $392 million, which is the
second installment of a systematic transformation facility, the first part of
which was released last fall. Reports say that France had been opposed to
releasing the credits. The IMF decision paves the way for other credits,
including $500 million, from the Export-Import Bank and $150 million from
Japan. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE AND CHINA SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT.
Minister Valerii Shmarov, during a visit to China on 6 April, signed a military
cooperation agreement with his Chinese counterpart Chi Haotian, AFP reported
the next day. China is Ukraine's largest trade partner after Russia, with a
total turnover of $837 million in 1994. Shmarov also discussed balancing trade
between the two countries. Currently, the balance is in Ukraine's favor, which
exports 90% of the total turnover and imports only 10%. Most of Ukraine's
exports are chemicals and metals. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
OVER A THIRD OF CRIMEAN DEPUTIES SUPPORT KIEV.
Interfax on 7 April
reported that 35 of the Crimean parliament's 98 members have written to Kiev
supporting Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's resolutions on Crimea's
legislation. Deputies who signed the letter include the Tatars and several
independents. The message also criticized the "Russia" alliance in Crimea's
parliament for aggravating the situation between Kiev and Simferopol. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS BALTIC STATES.
Klaus Kinkel, at the end
of a two-day tour of the Baltic States, met with Lithuanian President Algirdas
Brazauskas, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, and Foreign Minister Povilas
Gylys in Vilnius on 7 April, Western agencies reported. Kinkel called for the
creation of a new European security system that would include the Baltic
States. He met the previous day in Tallinn with President Lennart Meri, Prime
Minister Tiit Vahi, and Foreign Minister Juri Luik, saying that Bonn will press
for the Baltic States to become full members of the European Union as a way of
bolstering their security. Kinkel told a press conference that the major
obstacle barring visa-free travel between Germany and the Baltic States was the
absence of an agreement on readmitting illegal immigrants. He then flew to Riga
for meetings with President Guntis Ulmainis, Prime Minister Maris Gailis, and
Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
REPORT ON "ESTONIA" SINKING.
The international commission from Sweden,
Finland, and Estonia investigating the sinking of the ferry "Estonia" off the
coast of Finland on 28 September has issued a partial report of its
conclusions, Western agencies announced on 7 April. According to the report,
the ship sank because the locks on its front cargo ramp broke, letting in
water. The locks were apparently not strong enough to withstand constant
pressure. Foul weather and the ship's speed and course contributed to the
disaster, in which some 859 of the estimated 996 people on board perished.
German shipbuilder Meyer-Werft disputed the findings. The ramp visor had been
"substantially weakened by corrosion, previous mechanical damage, and missing
stiffeners." Moreover, the captain had not reacted quickly enough to banging
noises in the bow area. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT INDICTED OVER 1970 SHOOTINGS.
The Polish Justice
Ministry on 7 April announced that prosecutors have filed an indictment against
former President Wojciech Jaruzelski as well as 11 other former senior
communist officials over 1970 shootings in the Baltic ports of Gdansk and
Gdynia, Reuters reported. Ministry spokesman Andrzej Cubala told PAP that
Jaruzelski and the others former officials are charged with acting as "guiding
perpetrators" in the shooting by security forces of 44 protesters. Jaruzelski
was serving as defense minister at the time of the riots, and he later became
prime minister, communist party first secretary, and president. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS U.S. WON'T ALLOW NATO EXPANSION TO BE
Josef Zieleniec, after meeting Secretary of State Warren
Christopher and other senior officials in Washington on 7 April, said the U.S.
will not allow any third party to veto the expansion of NATO, Czech media
reported on 10 April. Zieleniec said he had the impression President Bill
Clinton will make this clear to Russian President Boris Yeltsin when they meet
in Moscow next month. Lidove noviny reports that the U.S. is prepared to
tell Russia that the expansion of NATO has already been decided. Zieleniec said
the likelihood is growing that the Czech Republic and Poland will precede other
countries in being admitted to NATO. But American officials stress that
admission to NATO is a "very individual" process, the Czech foreign minister
added. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK NATIONALISTS PREPARE LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC.
National Party, a member of the governing coalition, on 7 April proposed
amendments to provisions of the criminal law on the protection of the republic,
Narodna obroda reported the next day. According to its proposals,
punishment would be inflicted against anyone involved in undertakings that
could endanger the country's constitutional order, territorial integrity,
defense capability, or autonomy. The definition of criminal activity would also
be expanded to include the dissemination on Slovak territory or abroad of
information threatening the security of the republic. SNP Chairman Jan Slota
said the SNP also wants to prepare a law on the state language and to
reestablish the death penalty. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT NEWS.
The Slovak parliament on 7 April voted in favor
of amendments to the election law and supported the removal of Miroslav Kocnar,
a breakaway deputy from the Association of Workers of Slovakia, from his post
as chairman of the parliament's Mandate and Immunity Committee. The new
chairman is another AWS member, Anton Poliak. Three deputies representing the
AWS, including Kocnar, announced they were leaving the party's parliament
caucus, Pravda reported on 8 April. The Party of the Democratic Left
announced that it viewed these developments with great anxiety, noting that the
government is trying to create an authoritarian regime. -- Sharon Fisher,
CONTINUED FIGHTING IN NORTHERN-BOSNIA . . .
Bosnian radio reported
continued intense fighting between government and Bosnian Serb forces on 9-10
April in northern Bosnia around Tuzla and in Bihac. Bosnian government forces
say they captured the strategically important Mount Vlasic, including a TV
relay station north of Travnik, from the Bosnian Serbs on 9 April. Bosnian
commander Mehmet Alagic is quoted as saying that this is one of the
government's biggest victories in the war, international agencies reported on 9
and 10 April. He said government troops could now advance into Serb-held
territory from several directions. Elsewhere, Hina reported on 9 April that
Bosnian Federation Vice President Ejup Ganic has said the Bosnian government
will not invite former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to undertake another
mediating mission. Ganic is quoted as saying: "There is no need for Mr. Carter
to visit Sarajevo again." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND IN SARAJEVO.
Artillery shelling in the Bosnian capital killed
at least three people and wounded seven in the night from 9 to 10 April,
international agencies reported. Several people had been wounded in mortar
attacks on the capital in previous days. The UN blamed Serbian forces for the
shelling, which involved large mortars fired from inside a NATO-declared
exclusion zone. A UN spokesman said it appears that the Serbs are deliberately
targeting civilians. The shelling prompted the UN to ask for a show of force by
NATO, which responded by sending planes over Sarajevo. Meanwhile, the city's
airport remained closed on 9 April after gunfire from Serb-held territory hit a
cargo aircraft as it was landing the previous day. A UN spokesman said the
Serbs refused to guarantee the safety of aircraft landing there. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
SERBS DEMAND CONSTITUENT NATION STATUS IN BOSNIAN FEDERATION.
Assembly of Serbian Citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a organization loyal to the
Bosnian government, gathered in Sarajevo on 9 April, Hina reported the same
day. The meeting was reportedly attended by members of opposition parties from
Serbia proper and by Milorad Pupovac, leader of the Independent Serbian Party
of Croatia. The assembly adopted a declaration calling on the Bosnian federal
parliament to guarantee the Serbs constituent nation status in the Croat-Muslim
federation. It stressed that the government of the self-declared Republika
Srpska has no legitimate right to represent all Bosnian Serbs, since 150,000
Serbs live on the territory controlled by the federation and some 500,000 who
opposed Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic have been forced to flee their
homeland. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
Tanjug reported that Chinese Foreign Minister
Qian Qichen on 9 April began a three-day official visit to the rump Yugoslavia,
where he met with his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Vladislav Jovanovic, and used
the opportunity to criticize international sanctions against rump Yugoslavia.
Reuters quoted Qian as saying that "We consider that sanctions do not solve
anything and that they only further complicate the situation in this area. They
must be softened and then fully lifted." But he stopped short of saying that
China, the only Security Council member not to have supported the imposition of
sanctions, would actively campaign to have sanctions removed. Qian is also
expected to meet with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Stan Markotich,
ZAGREB ON OPPOSITION TO PEACEKEEPING MANDATE.
Vecernji list on 9
April reported that Croatian Foreign Minister Mato Granic has acknowledged that
Zagreb may meet with opposition over the implementation of changes in the UN
peacekeepers mandate, as delineated in UN Security Council Resolution 981. "We
expect that there will be an intense political conflict," Granic said of
relations between Zagreb and Croatia's rebel Serb population in the Krajina
area. The Krajina Serbs, however, are not alone in registering dissatisfaction.
Hina reported on 9 April that Mate Simic, leader of the Croatian Union of
Displaced Persons, said his group "could not accept Resolution 981 without
exactly defined implementing measures for full control of Croatia's
internationally recognized borders." Nasa Borba on 8-9 April reports
that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has strongly condemned any plans to
station peacekeepers along Croatia's border with Bosnia, noting that such
"pressure from the international community" may force the Bosnian and Krajina
Serbs to forge a political federation in response. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
MACEDONIA WILLING TO SIGN BORDER TREATY WITH GREECE.
President Kiro Gligorov on 8 April said his country is willing to sign a treaty
with Greece on their common border, AFP reported the following day. In a radio
address on the occasion of the second anniversary of Macedonia's admission into
the UN, Gligorov said his country is willing to solve "irrational conflicts"
with Greece and its other neighbors. At the same time, he regretted that the
border between Macedonia and rump Yugoslavia is still considered an
administrative boundary in UN documents, whereas the borders of the other
successor states are internationally recognized. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY DELEGATION IN ROMANIA.
An NAA delegation met
with Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 7 April to discuss Romania's relations
with NATO, including plans to hold an NAA session in Bucharest. It also met
with Emil Constantinescu, leader of the opposition Democratic Convention of
Romania, who said that Romanians in general, and their army in particular,
firmly supported the country's integration into NAT0's structures. Radio
Bucharest on 9 April reported that the NAA's standing bureau approved holding
the assembly's 1997 autumn session in Bucharest. Romania was represented at the
meeting by Chamber of Deputies member Ion Ratiu of the National Peasant
Party-Christian Democratic. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN CABINET APPROVES ANTI-TERRORIST BILL.
The government on 7 April
approved a bill on preventing and combating terrorist acts. Interior Minister
Doru Ioan Taracila was quoted by Radio Bucharest as saying that Romania has
recently experienced both terrorist attacks and threats, the latter aimed at
creating panic among the population. The bill, which provides for life
imprisonment for convictions on terrorist charges, is soon to be forwarded to
the parliament for emergency debate. Independent media have criticized the bill
as an excuse to restore surveillance practices reminiscent of the communist
era. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
GREATER ROMANIA PARTY TO QUIT RULING COALITION?
PRM Chairman Corneliu
Vadim Tudor said at a press conference on 7 April that party leaders will hold
an extraordinary meeting in early May to decide whether to withdraw the PRM's
support for the current government. He said that until then, his party
considered itself free of any obligations toward either the cabinet or the
Party of Social Democracy in Romania. Meanwhile, the Democratic Convention of
Romania on 7 April launched an appeal to the opposition to unite in order to
resist increasing government pressure, Radio Bucharest reported. The CDR,
formerly Romania's main opposition alliance, recently lost several member
parties. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
DEMONSTRATORS IN CHISINAU DIVIDED OVER FURTHER PROTESTS.
Chisinau decided on 8 April to suspend their three-week-old protest until 4 May
to allow Moldovan President Mircea Snegur to find a solution that would bring
an end to the strike, according to Radio Bucharest. The same source later
quoted Oleg Cernei, leader of the Moldovan Students' League, as saying that
many demonstrators intended to continue their protest action until the
authorities offered firm guarantees for a compromise. The demonstrators, mainly
students and teaching staff, are demanding that the name of the official
language be changed from "Moldovan" to Romanian. In a related development,
students in Bucharest rallied on 7 April in support of their colleagues in
Chisinau. The rally was organized by youth organizations of the National
Peasant Party-Christian Democratic. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
OSCE AS GUARANTOR FOR NO REPEAT OF 1992 CRISIS IN MOLDOVA?
Foreign Minister Mihai Popov said on 7 April that if the conflict in the
Transdniester region were settled, the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe might serve as the main guarantor that the 1992 crisis
involving separatists would not be repeated. Interfax the same day quoted Popov
as saying that an OSCE report has set the main parameters for settling the
conflict. He added that he counted on the OSCE to help with the implementation
of agreements on the withdrawal of the Russian 14th Army. However, the head of
the OSCE permanent mission in Moldova, Phillip Han, said he regretted that
Russia has given the "cold shoulder" to the OSCE proposal that it monitor the
army's withdrawal. He added that the main goal of the monitoring would be to
ensure that Russian and Moldovan arms did not fall into "alien hands." --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIA'S RADICAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY SPLITS.
The RDP's 27th congress on 9
April has effectively led to a split within the party, Bulgarian newspapers
reported the following day. A proposal that the RDP leave the opposition Union
of Democratic Forces was passed by a vote of 131 to 119. But the legality of
the vote is doubtful, as the proposal was not supported by an absolute majority
of the 294 registered congress delegates. Those who voted against the proposal,
including Party Chairman Aleksandar Yordanov, left the congress and asked for a
extraordinary congress to be called within a month to discuss the matter again.
Kiril Boyadzhiev was elected party chairman by the remaining delegates. In an
interview with Trud, Yordanov said he will form a new RDP that will remain in
the UDF. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
CAPE VERDE HOLDS BULGARIAN CARGO PLANE.
A Bulgarian cargo plane carrying
100 tons of weapons was detained in Cape Verde on 9 April, Reuters reported the
same day. The arms were discovered when the Air Sofia plane made a stopover.
The plane's flight schedule listed Quito in Ecuador as its final destination.
In an interview with Trud, Lt.-Gen. Simeon Petkovski, head of the
Bulgarian Defense Ministry's economic department, said Bulgaria does not have
airplanes that could transport 100 tons of material. He insisted that the
Bulgarian army knows nothing about talks or offers to export weapons to South
America. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
HOLBROOKE IN GREECE.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European
Affairs Richard Holbrooke on 9 April ended a two-day visit to Athens, AFP
reported the same day. Talks with Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou,
Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, and Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis
focused on Greek-Turkish relations. Papoulias said both sides agreed that
progress has to be made on Cyprus in order to improve relations between Athens
and Ankara. Holbrooke and Papoulias also discussed Greek relations with Albania
and Macedonia. Holbrooke also handed over to Papandreou a letter from U.S.
President Bill Clinton on problems in Greek-U.S. relations. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave