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Newsline - April 20, 1995


KOZYREV REAFFIRMS COMMENTS ON MILITARY FORCE IN NEAR ABROAD.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev reaffirmed his opinion that Russia could intervene militarily to protect ethnic Russians in the "near abroad," ITAR-TASS reported on 19 April. Speaking in the Kremlin, Kozyrev said his comments were "neither a slip of the tongue, nor a pre-election ruse." On 20 April, Izvestiya called Kozyrev's comments "sensational," recalling his notorious 1992 Stockholm speech when he portrayed himself as a nationalist only to say it was a joke within an hour. Both Vladimir Lukin, head of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, and Sergei Yushenkov, head of the Defense Committee, criticized Kozyrev's remarks while Lt.-Gen. Alexander Lebed applauded them. * Michael Mihalka

GOVORUKHIN URGES CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SAMASHKI CRITICS.
Stanislav Govorukhin, who heads the State Duma commission on Chechnya, called for outspoken critics of the Russian massacre in Samashki to be prosecuted, Russian and Western agencies reported on 19 April. Govorukhin accused Memorial society leaders Anatoly Shabad and Lev Ponomarev and human rights advocate Sergei Kovalev of spreading "slanderous and provocative information," taken almost verbatim from pro-Dudaev propaganda pamphlets, Russian Public Television reported. While Govorukhin admitted that a "tragedy occurred in Samashki," he estimated that only about 30 civilians had been killed there the night of 7-8 April, Russian TV reported. Ponomarev and Shabad stood by the testimony gathered by Memorial, which suggests that up to 300 civilians perished in the massacre. Shabad said he went to Samashki before Russian soldiers cleaned it up in anticipation of Govorukhin's visit. Meanwhile, Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov told reporters that even Chechen fighters consider Kovalev a "political prostitute" and do not take his charges seriously, NTV reported. * Laura Belin

DUMA VOTES TO INVESTIGATE ZHIRINOVSKY'S CONTACTS WITH DUDAEV.
The Duma has authorized Govorukhin's committee to examine Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky's contacts with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in the fall of 1992 or 1993 (reports vary) to celebrate the anniversary of Chechen "independence," Interfax and Ekho Moskvy reported. On 16 April, NTV broadcast footage of Zhirinovsky's trip. Govorukhin, who chairs the Duma's Security Committee, is demanding answers to a number of questions: who sent Zhirinovsky to Dudaev, what sort of deals did they make about Chechnya's secession from the Russian Federation, whether Dudaev gave Zhirinovsky any money, and whether they made plans to send any of Zhirinovsky's Falcons to Chechnya or Dudaev's fighters to Moscow. * Robert Orttung

YAVLINSKY CONFIRMS HE WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko group, confirmed his intention to run for president in June 1996, Interfax reported on 19 April. While no potential presidential candidate currently enjoys mass support nationwide, Yavlinsky consistently ranks as one of Russia's most popular politicians in opinion polls. He is seen as a serious presidential contender abroad as well; in March he met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Germany and senior government officials in China. Yavlinsky told Interfax that Yabloko is working with other groups to nominate joint candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections, so as not to split the democratic vote, as happened in December 1993. In recent weeks, several prominent democrats, including Boris Fedorov and Yegor Gaidar, have expressed the desire to form an electoral bloc with Yavlinsky. However, so far Yabloko has distanced itself from Russia's Choice and other proponents of President Boris Yeltsin's unpopular economic reforms. * Laura Belin

NEVZOROV TO BROADCAST ON RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION . . .
Duma member Alexander Nevzorov will broadcast a weekly series on the new Russian Public Television station recently created by President Yeltsin, according to Moskovskie novosti. Beginning this week, the former St. Petersburg journalist will host Dikoe Pole (The Wild Field), a program that focuses on crime. The station's leadership said that by allowing Nevzorov to broadcast, it is making a concession to Yeltsin's opposition on what is considered to be a pro-presidential station. Nevzorov agreed not to discuss politics in his broadcasts as a condition for gaining access to the airwaves. He gained fame for his St. Petersburg television program 600 Seconds, which was critical of the communists initially and then of the city's democratic leaders. His broadcasts also supported the use of force in the Baltic States in 1991. * Robert Orttung

. . . WHILE ANOTHER JOURNALIST CLAIMS RESTRICTED FREEDOM AT THE STATION.
Sergei Alekseev, host of the Voskresene program on Russian Public Television, has come into conflict with the station's management over the content of his program, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 19 April. The paper cites Alekseev's recent refusal to broadcast information supplied by presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev on Yeltsin's vacation in Kislovodsk. The management severely criticized Alekseev for his intransigence. Alekseev said he plans to leave the station if he cannot defend his position there. * Robert Orttung

DUMA ANNOUNCES AMNESTY TO MARK VICTORY DAY.
The lower house of the Russian parliament voted on 19 April to approve an amnesty to mark the 50th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II, celebrated in Russia on 9 May, Russian and Western agencies reported. Viktor Mironov, deputy chairman of the Duma Security Committee, said up to 30,000 prisoners, including 70 WWII veterans, will be released and criminal charges against another 270,000 people lifted. The amnesty does not cover serious crimes such as murder, rape, or extortion. The parliament also voted in principle, by 268 to eight, in favor of a resolution offering an amnesty to those rebels in Chechnya who agree to surrender. * Penny Morvant

OFFICIALS SAY 40% OF INCOME HIDDEN FROM TAX INSPECTORS.
Vyacheslav Bobkov, a spokesman for the Labor Ministry, told reporters on 19 April that about 40% of the Russian economy operates in the shadows and that no taxes are paid on it, Interfax reported. "However sad it may seem, we have to admit that we do not control a considerable part of the economy. We know too little about it and cannot exactly determine the parameters and scale of shadow incomes," he said. According to Bobkov, many private companies claim to pay their employees the minimum wage and then give them large cash payments on the side. * Penny Morvant

GRACHEV DENIES RUMORS HE WILL BE SACKED.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev called reports of his imminent dismissal and radical cuts in the military nothing more than attempts "to destabilize the situation," Interfax reported on 19 April. He said the rumors are aimed at disorganizing the officer corps and are tied to the upcoming parliamentary elections. He also denied that a civilian would be appointed to succeed him or that the General Staff would be removed from the Defense Ministry and placed directly under the president. * Doug Clarke

NEW RUSSIAN ATTACK ON BAMUT.
Russian federal troops succeeded in driving the last Chechen defenders from the southwestern village of Bamut on 19 April, following an unsuccessful assault the previous day, according to Interfax and AFP quoting Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, the former Russian troop commander in Chechnya. Kulikov estimated Chechen losses in Bamut at 400, with 14 Russians killed. Kulikov's successor in Chechnya, Col.-Gen. Mikhail Yegorov, told Interfax that Russian forces were still not in complete control of Bamut and were being subjected to artillery fire from Chechen units positioned in the surrounding hills. Also on 19 April, Ingush President Ruslan Aushev issued a statement, summarized by Interfax, protesting what he termed the deliberate Russian bombing of the Ingush village of Arshty, near the Chechen-Ingush border, on 18 April in which three women died and seven other people were injured. * Liz Fuller

DAVYDOV HINTS OF POSSIBLE DEAL ON IRAN.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov hinted on 19 April that Russia may reconsider its nuclear deal with Iran if the U.S. proves willing to buy Russian uranium, ITAR-TASS reported. On a trip to Washington, Davydov said, "If the issue `of uranium shipments' is solved, then the Russian-Iranian agreement can be considered from another point of view. We are strategic partners of the U.S. and therefore can hold talks on the `nuclear deal' issue." Davydov said arrangements for Russia to provide nuclear reactors to Iran will not be finalized before September. * Michael Mihalka



ARMENIAN BILL BETWEEN TURKEY AND RUSSIA . . .
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Ferhat Ataman registered Ankara's displeasure with the Russian State Duma's passage of a bill that establishes 24 April as the day marking the massacre of Armenians by Turks, international media reported on 19 April. Ataman called the bill, passed on 14 April, an "extreme move" and criticized Russia for indirectly threatening Turkey's territorial integrity by making reference to the "historical Armenian homeland." He said it would affect not only Turko-Russian relations but would hamper recent efforts to improve ties with Armenia. The 18 April opening in Moscow of a two-day international conference under the title "Genocide--Crimea Against Mankind" suggests Turko-Russian relations will remain chilly. In a welcoming speech to the conference, Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs and Contacts with Compatriots, noted that Russians "have become better aware of the problem of genocide" since the breakup of the U.S.S.R. * Lowell Bezanis

. . . AND OVER CFE.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Ferhat Ataman stressed that the CFE treaty should not be violated or altered prior to a review conference scheduled for May 1996, Reuters reported on 19 April. He was responding to Russian Defense Minister Grachev's 16 April statement that Russia would refuse to comply with the flank provisions of the CFE treaty while fighting continues in Chechnya. Ataman noted that anything less than total observance of the treaty would endanger Europe's security structure. * Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIA TO BUILD ENERGY INSTALLATIONS IN TURKMENISTAN.
An agreement to construct fuel and energy installations in Turkmenistan has been reached by that country's Oil and Gas Ministry and Russia's Zarubezhneftegazstroi, Interfax reported on 19 April. The agreement calls for the establishment of a gas measuring installation at Daryalak on the Turkmen-Uzbek border, a pipeline network linking gas fields, and locating and developing new gas fields. The Russian company will also be involved in constructing the Turkmen section of the gas pipeline to Europe, in addition to potential participation in the Iranian section. The Turkmen side will pay for services rendered with gas in volume and at a price determined by annual contracts. In 1995, 4 billion cubic meters of gas will be delivered to settle accounts with the Russian outfit. * Lowell Bezanis

BORDER FORCES IN TAJIKISTAN TO GET NEW COMMANDER.
Lt.-Gen. Valentin Bobryshev has been named the new commander of border forces in Tajikistan, AFP reported. Bobryshev will replace Col.-Gen. Patrikeyev, whose term as commander expires on 30 June. At a meeting of the Council of Commonwealth Defense Ministers in Moscow, Patrikeyev took the opportunity to criticize some of Dushanbe's policies. He said the "fragile balance" in the republic was broken by the Tajik government's decision to increase the military presence in Gorno-Badakhshan in April and that such action violates the truce arranged in Tehran last September. Patrikeyev said the Tajik government is "still prone to settling the Gorno-Badakhshan problem by force," according to Interfax. Besides naming a new commander, the council extended the peacekeeping mandate to 31 December 1995 from 30 June 1995, according to Interfax. * Bruce Pannier



MORE BALTIC COMMENTS ON KOZYREV STATEMENT.
Officials in Estonia and Latvia on 19 April reacted strongly to the remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev the previous day that Moscow reserves the right to use military force to protect Russian living abroad, Western agencies reported. Estonian President Lennart Meri considered the timing of Kozyrev's remarks very inappropriate, coming shortly before the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. The Estonian Foreign Ministry asked Moscow for an explanation of Kozyrev's remarks but has not yet received a reply. It issued a statement noting with anxiety that Russia used similar slogans about defending the rights of Russian-speakers before invading Chechnya and killing tens of thousands of civilians. * Saulius Girnius

LATVIA PREPARES AGREEMENT ON REFUGEES.
Atis Sjanits, deputy state secretary for juridical and consular issues at the Latvian Foreign Ministry, said his ministry has prepared a draft agreement on taking back refugees who have no right to stay in the territory of a neighboring state, BNS reported on 19 April. Delegations from the Baltic foreign ministries and immigration officials will meet in Riga on 27 April to discuss this agreement and a similar one prepared by Estonia. Sjanits noted that although Latvia has sent notes to Russia and Belarus proposing talks on illegal migration issues, neither state has as yet responded. * Saulius Girnius

U.S. BANK SUGGESTS FINANCING HALF OF LITHUANIAN OIL TERMINAL PROJECT.
Representatives of the U.S. company Fluor Daniel brought to Lithuania on 18 April a letter of intent signed by the vice president of the U.S.-based EXIM bank promising to meet 50-60% of the construction costs of the planned floating oil terminal at Butinge, BNS reported the next day. The offer is conditional on Lithuania's paying the remainder. Fluor Daniel designed the terminal project and began to help Lithuania to find financing for it when the Russian oil giant Lukoil refused to participate in the project, scaring away interested Western companies. The terminal is expected to cost around $200 million. All the equipment and technologies would be purchased in the U.S. if Lithuania and EXIM reach an agreement. * Saulius Girnius

WORK ON UNDERWATER CABLE BETWEEN ESTONIA AND SWEDEN HALTED.
The Estonian National Maritime Inspectorate has ordered the Estonian Telephone Co. to stop installing an underwater cable between Estonia and Sweden because it runs through the spawning grounds of fish and a registered deposit of therapeutic mud, BNS reported on 18 April. The company may have to pay for damage inflicted on the country's fish reserves and for spoiling the mud deposit. These costs would undoubtedly result in higher telephone charges. The Environment Ministry is evaluating the damage and establishing a commission that will draw up a list of principles and regulations. The company will also have to pay fines to its Swedish and Danish partners. It is unclear when and how the work will continue. * Saulius Girnius

CRIMEAN DEPUTIES DENOUNCE PETITION TO KIEV.
The Crimean parliament has denounced deputy Refat Chubarov's initiative to collect Crimean deputies signatures to a document urging Kiev to dissolve the Crimean legislature, Ukrainian Radio reported on 19 April. The Crimean parliament said in a statement that the claim that 50 deputies have signed such a petition is a "gross falsification aimed at abolishing Crimean autonomy." The statement added that only a minority of deputies signed the petition and that they had been elected on minority quotas. The statement also appealed to Kiev not to worsen the situation in Crimea by exploiting Chubarov's petition. * Ustina Markus

HEAD OF BELARUSIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION APPEALS TO PRESIDENT.
Alyaksandr Abramovich, head of the Belarusian Central Electoral Commission, met with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 18 April to discuss funding for the 14 May parliament elections, Belarusian radio reported the next day. Abramovich claims that the electoral commission has received less than half of the 68 billion Belarusian rubles ($6.5 million) allocated for the elections. He says the commission has received only 20 billion rubles for the elections and nothing for the referendum, scheduled to take place at the same time, or the 11 June local elections . He appealed to the president to release further funds. Each of the 2,502 registered candidates is entitled to 600,000 rubles ($52) for their campaign. * Ustina Markus

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS IN POLAND.
European Parliament President Klaus Haensch arrived in Poland on 19 April for his first foreign visit since being elected in July 1994. He met with Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy and the leaders of all parliament factions. Haensch said that most European Parliament deputies supported Polish EU membership, but he stressed that Poland would neither be subject to special requirement nor receive any favors. Haensch is scheduled to visit his birthplace, Szprotawa, on 20 April. Meanwhile, Ion Iliescu also arrived in Poland on 19 April for the first visit by a Romanian president since 1989, the Polish press reported. Iliescu met with Polish President Lech Walesa, Premier Jozef Oleksy as well as with the Sejm and Senate presidents. Walesa was quoted as saying after the meeting that "we are nearly unanimous on the most important issues." * Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK OPPOSITION REACTS TO NEW SIS CHIEF.
Democratic Left Chairman Peter Weiss, reacting to the appointment of Ivan Lexa, a deputy from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and a close ally of Premier Vladimir Meciar, as director of the Slovak Information Service, said on 19 April that the SIS is no longer designed to protect the interests of Slovakia but rather those of the current governing parties. Complaining that no opposition deputies are represented on the SIS's supervisory body, Weiss expressed fears about the political abuse of the service. Democratic Union deputy Milan Knazko called the move "another arrogant provocation vis-à-vis the president," saying it shows that Meciar favors "ideology and obedience" over "professionalism." * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO REDUCE SUBSIDIES TO POLITICAL PARTIES.
The Hungarian government on 18 April revealed plans to cut state subsidies to political parties by 15% as part of its austerity measures designed to reduce the budget deficit, Magyar Hirlap reported the next day. While the government cited economic reasons for the cuts, the opposition parties charged that the move was politically motivated and expressed fears that it would endanger multi-party democracy in Hungary. Many parties are experiencing financial difficulties because of loans they took out to cover the campaign costs for national and local elections. Several were forced to sell or rent party property and to reduce personnel. * Edith Oltay

HUNGARY, MOLDOVA SIGN FRIENDSHIP TREATY.
Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and his Moldovan counterpart, Mircea Snegur, signed a bilateral friendship treaty in Budapest on 19 April, international agencies reported the next day. Leading officials from various Hungarian and Moldovan ministries signed agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, investment protection, cultural cooperation, and civil aviation. Snegur and Goncz discussed at length the question of minority rights and stressed that their countries were in full agreement on the treatment of minorities. In the past, Hungary has expressed strong support for Moldovan policies on minorities in general and for granting territorial autonomy to the Gagauz minority in particular. * Edith Oltay and Michael Shafir



SERBS SHELL SARAJEVO IN BOSNIA . . .
News agencies reported on 19 April that Bosnian Serb forces shelled Sarajevo with heavy weapons placed in UN monitoring sites. The Serbs ignored shots fired by Ukrainian peacekeepers and verbal threats by French soldiers, but an overflight by NATO aircraft apparently prompted them to cease shelling. Meanwhile in New York, the UN Security Council unanimously passed French-backed Resolution 987, which condemns recent attacks on UNPROFOR and calls on the secretary-general to prepare recommendations on new measures to promote the peacekeepers' safety. Hina added that the text also urges an extension of the current Bosnian cease-fire after it expires on 30 April. * Patrick Moore

. . . AND DUBROVNIK IN CROATIA.
Hina reported on 19 April that Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina fired a mortar shell at the runway of the new Dubrovnik-Cilipi airport, which replaced the airport destroyed in the 1991 Serbian-Croatian conflict. Prime Minister Nikica Valentic, who had just arrived to dedicate the new terminal, called the attack "another proof of how unscrupulous our enemy is." He added that "this attack is aimed at provoking a conflict. Croatia will not tolerate such provocations anymore . . . If needed, we are ready to respond faster and stronger than [the Serbs] would expect." Croatia's ambassador to the UN, Mario Nobilo, sent a letter to Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali condemning "such terrorist acts." * Patrick Moore

CAN THE CROATS SHELL KNIN?
UN sources have said that Croatian and Bosnian Croat forces are now ensconced on Mt. Dinara to the east of the Krajina capital and that from that position they can hit Knin itself, Reuters reported on 18 April. The report points out that Croatian forces have been encroaching on the rebel Serbs' territory since UNPROFOR's mandate ran out at the end of March. The 19 April Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung adds that UN negotiators are far from hammering out a new mandate acceptable both to Zagreb and to Knin and are unlikely to meet their 21 April deadline. A central Croatian demand, which the Serbs reject, is that UN monitors be stationed on Croatia's frontiers with Serbia and Bosnia to monitor about two dozen major crossing points and scores of minor ones. Nasa Borba says that the UN already has 200 vehicles in place along the Croatian-Serbian border. * Patrick Moore

MILOSEVIC OFF THE HOOK?
Reuters reported on 19 April that the head of the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has said that documents brought to public attention in a 13 April New York Times article do not in fact link Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone said: "The documents referred to in the article were found by my office to be [of] no evidentiary or other value." * Stan Markotich

UPDATE ON KOSOVO TRIALS.
The local court of Pec on 19 April sentenced nine former ethnic Albanian policemen to between one and five years in prison, international agencies reported the same day. The policemen were charged with creating a shadow Kosovar Interior Ministry of the Republic of Kosovo. According to the Serbian authorities, the ministry was set up in 1992 to "create the conditions for the secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia." Also on 19 April, the trial of another seven ethnic Albanian policemen began, Politika reported the next day. * Fabian Schmidt

NEW SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN ROW?
Italy's Foreign Ministry on 19 April summoned Slovenia's senior diplomat for discussions about remarks allegedly recently made by Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler, Reuters reported. The Ljubljana daily Delo quoted Thaler as saying that Slovenia's borders were "unjust," prompting Rome to respond by suggesting that the minister's statements amounted to claims against Italian territory. But Thaler, at a press conference on 19 April, said he had been misquoted by the daily and that his comments dealt only and specifically with Slovenia's borders with Croatia. Recently, Ljubljana's relations with Rome have been warming, following Italy's decision in early March to halt efforts at blocking Slovenia's negotiating associate member status in the EU. * Stan Markotich

MAJOR ROMANIAN POLITICAL FORMATIONS HOLD SURPRISE MEETING.
The leaderships of the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), the dominant government formation, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) held a surprise meeting on 19 April. Radio Bucharest and Romanian Television quoted the chairmen of the two formations as saying that the meeting should not be interpreted as indicating a "partnership" or "alliance" between the two groups. PDSR executive chairman Adrian Nastase said the participants discussed the possibility of organizing a "colloquium" of parliament parties to debate and clarify such disputed concepts as "autonomy." UDMR executive chairman Csaba Takacs said the PDSR must overcome its mistrust and collaborate with his formation "on those points where there is common ground." He stressed that both the UDMR and the PDSR support Romania's integration in "European structures." * Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION TO STRENGTHEN COLLABORATION.
Emil Constantinescu, chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), and Petre Roman, leader of the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front (PD-FSN), agreed at a meeting on 19 April to launch a "minimum program" aimed at coordinating the democratic opposition's policies. Radio Bucharest reported that the program includes collaboration in the parliament, at local government level, and "in the electoral realm." General elections are scheduled for the fall of 1996. The two leaders agreed to work together on an emergency program for overcoming the country's present crisis and to draw up a timetable for meetings at various levels of CDR and PD-FSN officials. * Michael Shafir

NASTASE ON RADIO-TELEVISION CONFLICT.
PDSR executive chairman Adrian Nastase, speaking in his capacity as president of the Chamber of Deputies, told Rompres on 19 April that the trade unions should play no role whatever in the elections for employees' representatives on the Radio and Television Administrative Council. He said he was convinced that the permanent bureaus of the parliament's two chambers will "invalidate" the vote if the provisions of the law on the elections to the council were to be interpreted otherwise. * Michael Shafir

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION IN MOLDOVA.
Elisabeth Schrodter, head of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus, said in Chisinau on 19 April that the withdrawal of the 14th Russian army should be internationally monitored, BASA-press reported. She said the delegation, which began a three-day visit to Moldova on 17 April, had seen "that Moldovan leaders are interested in settling the Transdniestrian conflict peacefully." Commenting on a meeting with General Aleksandr Lebed, Schrodter said she had the impression the general was not interested in a rapid withdrawal of the 14th army. Transdniestrian leaders told Schrodter at a meeting on 19 April that they insist on preserving the region as an independent state but that they would agree to a confederation with Moldova. Schrodter also praised Moldova's economic reforms and respect for minority rights. * Michael Shafir

ANTI-SEMITES DEFACE BULGARIAN SYNAGOGUE.
Anti-Semitic slogans and swastikas have been sprayed on the walls of the Sofia synagogue and a Jewish primary school, Reuters reported on 19 April. Eddie Schwartz, chairman of the Jewish Organization in Bulgaria, said the incident, which took place on the night of 18-19 April, showed that neo-nazi groups exist in Bulgaria. Reuters quoted Schwartz as saying that while the attack is "the work of a marginal group in society . . . , it does not mean that we should ignore what has happened." Mihail Ivanov, presidential adviser on ethnic issues, told a news conference that President Zhelyu Zhelev condemned such "anti-Semitic and racist actions." The incident coincided with the 106th anniversary of Hitler's birthday on 20 April and with the visit of an Israeli delegation to Sofia. A similar act of vandalism took place on 16 April in the northern town of Ruse. A neo-nazi organization calling itself "Brannik" (Warrior) after a World War II fascist group claimed responsibility for the desecration of a Russian military cemetery there. * Stefan Krause

NEW ELECTRICITY PRICE HIKES IN BULGARIA IMMINENT.
Demokratsiya on 20 April reported that electricity prices will increase by 65%, from 1.95 cents to 3.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. John Wilton, representative of the World Bank in Bulgaria, was quoted as saying that the government, while acknowledging that the increases are necessary, is trying to postpone their implementation because of a lack of protection for the socially weak. Wilton said that a group of World Bank experts has presented a mechanism to protect the poor from the price hikes. Electricity prices went up by 47% for private households and by 28.4% for industry on 1 March. The World Bank has repeatedly criticized the Bulgarian government for keeping electricity prices below the cost of production. * Stefan Krause

FIRST ARRESTS IN ALBANIAN PRINTING MACHINE SCANDAL.
Perparim Xhixha, former chief editor of the Socialist Party newspaper Zeri i Popullit, has been put under house arrest in connection with the disappearance in 1991 of $400,000 from a communist solidarity fund, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 20 April. The money was allegedly used to buy a printing machine in Canada for Zeri i Popullit, but the machine never materialized. Xhixha's arrest has diverted suspicion away from Socialist Party deputy leader Namik Dokle, who was chief editor of Zeri i Popullit before Xhixha. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave






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