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Newsline - April 25, 1995


KOZYREV ADVOCATES INDEFINITE EXTENSION OF NPT; CAUTIONS AGAINST ABMS.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev advocated the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) at the NPT review conference in New York on 24 April, international agencies reported. He also expressed support for a comprehensive test ban and the total elimination of nuclear weapons, but noted that the latter was not possible in the near future. Meanwhile, in a New York Times interview published 25 April, Kozyrev cautioned the U.S. against developing an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system in contravention of the 1972 treaty. He was particularly concerned about development of short- and medium-range ABM systems to handle long-range missiles. Russian Public Television reported 24 April that Kozyrev said he was "prepared to discuss" the Russian deal to provide nuclear aid to Iran, a major source of contention in U.S.-Russian relations. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA ON CHECHNYA, ELECTION PLANS.
Democratic Russia co-chairman Viktor Kurochkin predicted that federal authorities would reach a peaceful settlement with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in time for the 9 May ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of V-E Day, Russian Television reported on 24 April. However, Kurochkin said the fighting in Chechnya would resume on 10 May and continue indefinitely, "because this war is waged against the people, not against illegal armed groups, and the people are invincible," Interfax reported. Meanwhile, party co-chairman Lev Ponomarev announced that Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko group, which Democratic Russia considers its closest potential ally, had rejected offers to form an electoral bloc for the December elections, Radio Rossii reported. Consequently, Democratic Russia plans to campaign for parliament independently. The party was founded in 1990 as a large umbrella movement for pro-democracy forces in the USSR, but since 1991, it has suffered many splits and defections. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

PRIBYLOVSKY ANALYZES PROSPECTS FOR DUMA ELECTIONS.
The next State Duma will be even more anti-Yeltsin than the current one, political scientist Vladimir Pribylovsky told NTV 25 April. He sees a bright future for the Congress of Russian Communities, which may draw many of the military votes that went to Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party in 1993. The organization will do particularly well if General Alexander Lebed and Yury Skokov, former secretary of the Russian Security Council, can preserve their current alliance. Sergei Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord has lost touch with its electorate, Pribylovsky said. Most of his support in 1993 came from Russia's national republics, but voters there oppose Yeltsin's campaign in Chechnya, which Shakhrai has supported. Pribylovsky sees little chance for a united democratic bloc. He believes that Grigory Yavlinsky's bloc will have the greatest support and that Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice will lose some of its current backing, but still surpass the 5% limit and enter the Duma. Pribylovsky said Boris Fedorov's Forward Russia and the new pro-Yeltsin Stable Russia will have trouble reaching the 5% barrier. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

COMMUNIST NEWSPAPER DENOUNCES RUTSKOI.
Former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, the leader of the patriotic Derzhava movement, described himself as a "free-sailing" politician who was running for president to change everything in Russia for the better, Interfax reported on 24 April. By contrast, an article in the 25 April edition of the pro-Communist Sovetskaya Rossiya called Rutskoi's recent public appearances "offensive." The author reminded readers that although Rutskoi was once one of Yeltsin's closest allies, the Derzhava leader refuses to admit responsibility for helping Yeltsin get elected in June 1991 or for the subsequent collapse of the USSR. Noting that Rutskoi attacks the Communists in his speeches as much as he attacks Yeltsin, the author speculated that Rutskoi was more concerned about his presidential ambitions than about cooperating with other opposition forces to save the country. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA GROUP SEEKS TO SHUT PRESIDENTIAL CHAMBER ON MEDIA DISPUTES.
An unidentified group of Duma deputies intends to question the constitutionality of the Russian President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes, Izvestiya reported 25 April. The chamber grew out of a temporary information arbitration court that handled disputes over the way candidates presented themselves during the 1993 parliamentary campaign. Yeltsin liked the way the court operated and gave it permanent status on the last day of 1993. The chamber currently has no formal ability to enforce its decisions, but conceivably could be given considerable power to regulate the 1995 electoral campaign. The Duma deputies are preparing to challenge the chamber in order to assert greater control over the mass media in the wake of Yeltsin's creation of Russian Public Television last year. Izvestiya warned that "if the chamber is now under a cloud, then lightning will soon strike journalists" and the mass media will be subjected to new forms of political pressure. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GOSKOMSTAT SAYS 45 MILLION RUSSIANS BELOW POVERTY LINE.
Almost a third of Russians are now living below the poverty line, according to Goskomstat figures cited by Radio Mayak on 24 April. The report said that the number of people earning less than the minimum monthly subsistence wage--set at 260,000 rubles in Moscow and 195,000 rubles elsewhere--increased by 23% compared with the first quarter of 1994. The average monthly wage in Russia is now 326,000 rubles and the average cost of a minimum consumption basket of 19 basic goods is 164,000 rubles. According to a Russian Public Television report on 22 April, the poorest 20% of the population earn only 5-6% of total incomes, while the top 20% account for 45% of the total. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CHUBAIS TO ASK IMF FOR $9 BILLION.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais left for Washington 24 April to hold talks with the IMF about a $9 billion standby loan for 1996-1998, Interfax reported the same day. The IMF has recently approved a $6.8 billion loan for 1995. Chubais, who was appointed Russia's new representative to the IMF and the World Bank last week, will attend meetings of both organizations during his visit. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.



MISSILE SILOS IN KAZAKHSTAN BEING DESTROYED.
Russian missile troops have begun destroying some of Kazakhstan's SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile silos, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 April. All the former Soviet missile silos in Kazakhstan will eventually be destroyed and the missile warheads returned to Russia as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-I). There are two SS-18 missile fields in the country, and the first silos to be destroyed are part of the Derzhaivsk field in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

CONDITIONS TERMED CRITICAL AT BAIKONUR.
At a meeting chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets in Moscow, conditions at Kazakhstan's Baikonur space launch site and in the nearby town of Leninsk were described as critical, Interfax reported on 24 April. Repair and maintenance of the site's facilities have halted due to financing problems; workers in Leninsk's non-industrial sector have not been paid since January and are said to be abandoning the city in "droves." To date, Moscow has not remitted any of the 161 million rubles it allocated to the town. Russia is to pay $115 million annually in keeping with a recent agreement to lease the site for 20 years. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

ECONOMIC INTEGRATION EFFORTS IN CENTRAL ASIA.
Meeting in Bishkek, the prime ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan approved a five-year economic integration program, Interfax reported on 24 April. Over the next two years, they will give priority to cooperative production of small electrical engines, gas meters, medicines, and fertilizers derived from Aral Sea deposits. The meeting's outcome was expected; economic cooperation and prioritizing projects were on the agenda for the 14 April Chimkent tripartite summit of the republics' presidents. It appears that common positions on the inter-Tajik conflict and approaches to its resolution, prolongation of the president's term in office, and economic affairs--including participation in the customs union established by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan--are emerging. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

LUKASHENKA ON RUSSIAN AGREEMENTS.
Nikolai Gonchar, head of the Committee on Russia's Federal Budget, met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk, Belarusian television reported on 21 April. Talks focused on increasing cooperation and implementing accords between Russia and Belarus. After the meeting, Lukashenka said that Belarus was ready to have open borders with Russia and a customs union, adding that he was unhappy that the accords still have not been implemented. Gonchar told the press that work continued on legislation regarding Russian and Belarusian financial working groups, and said the law could become the basis for the integration process. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE WILL NOT SIGN CIS BORDER AGREEMENTS.
Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Ivan Bizhan has said that the country did not sign agreements on the joint guarding of CIS borders at the 21 April CIS meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow, Ukrainian radio reported on 24 April. According to Bizhan, Ukraine will not sign such agreements because it does not recognize the concept of common CIS borders with non-CIS states. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

CIS BANK URGES ITS OWN ELIMINATION.
The Council of the Inter-State Bank, established in 1993 to oversee relations between the CIS central banks, will urge that CIS heads of state eliminate the bank when they meet in May. Vyacheslav Solvov, vice chairman of Russia's Central Bank and the country's representative on the council, told Interfax 24 April that the decline in ruble-based transactions between central banks and the increase in commercial banks' interstate transactions have left the Inter-State Bank without a role to play. "Inter-state banking operations are run by commercial banks," Solovov said. He did, however, support the idea put forward by commercial banks that an international bank be set up to handle trade turnover within the CIS. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV ENDORSES KOZYREV STATEMENTS.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev welcomed the hard line that Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has taken in favor of defending ethnic Russians in the near abroad, Interfax reported 24 April. Grachev said the problem was particularly acute in Tajikistan, and indicated that he had made his views on protecting Russian soldiers known to the Tajik representatives at the CIS Defense and Foreign Ministers' meeting 21 April. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.




POLAND, HUNGARY TO COORDINATE NATO MEMBERSHIP EFFORTS.
Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, speaking during his two-day official visit to Hungary, has said that Hungary and Poland will cooperate in their efforts to join NATO and the European Union. His Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Guyla Horn, noted that both Hungary and Poland regard the process of joining NATO as "irreversible." Meanwhile, Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti, who on 24 April began a three-day official visit to Germany, discussed the inclusion of East European countries in NATO with German Defense Minister Volker Ruhe. Hungarian and German media quoted Ruhe as saying that Hungary's membership in the EU and NATO are in Germany's interest. Ruhe also noted that Bonn feels an obligation to help clear the way for Hungary to join both organizations. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

FBI TRAINING ACADEMY OPENS IN BUDAPEST.
FBI and other federal agents will start training 33 Hungarian, Czech, and Polish police officers at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest. The academy was opened on 24 April. Hungarian and international media report that policemen from 23 former communist countries will attend the eight-week courses. "As crime becomes international, so crime prevention must turn international," Hungarian Internal Affairs Minister Gabor Kuncze said at the opening ceremony. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh were prevented from attending the ceremony by the Oklahoma bombing. Referring to the bombing, U.S. Ambassador Donald Blinken said the "reasons are self-evident for opening such a facility." The academy's faculty will initially consist of six teachers from the FBI and other federal and state agencies. As the courses evolve, the staff will become more international. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN MILITARY REORGANIZATION.
The Ukrainian Ministries of Defense and Health have agreed that in peace time, military doctors will be removed from military units and organized into civilian medical groups, Ukrainian Radio reported on 22 April. The decision was taken to try to make better use of resources and manpower. The ministries are to draw up a plan for the reorganization of military units and submit it to the Cabinet of Ministers for confirmation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN ELECTION UPDATE.
Belarusian Television on 23 April reported that the registration period for candidates in the parliament elections has ended and the campaign period begun. In all, 2,396 candidates have registered to run for the 240 parliament seats. The opposition Belarusian Popular Front is fielding the most candidates, followed by the communist party and the centrist Party of Popular Accord. One-third of the candidates are independents. A number of candidates have been disqualified owing to irregularities in the registration process. In Vitebsk, the registration forms of one-third of all candidates have been declared invalid. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUS EXPANDS OIL PROCESSING.
Belarusian oil processing in the first quarter of 1995 was up 45.6% on the same period last year, Interfax reported on 24 April. The total amount processed from January-March 1995 was 3.65 million tons. But oil extraction was down 97.9% or 488,963 tons. The Russian-Belarusian oil concern Slavneft estimates that 40% of the oil processed in Belarus will be sold on the domestic market and the rest abroad. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.


BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING.
The sixth session of the Baltic Assembly on 22 April adopted 14 documents but failed to pass resolutions on sea border agreements and a joint policy for illegal immigrants, BNS reported. Estonian parliament deputy chairman Arnold Ruutel was elected president and his Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts, Egidijus Bickauskas and Maris Budovskis, vice presidents for the assembly's next session, to be held in Tallinn in December. The Baltic deputies to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly handed out three Baltic Assembly documents to the council's political committees on 24 April: resolutions on Chechnya and the end of World War II in Europe as well as a statement on Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's recent remarks that Russia may use force to defend Russians living abroad. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

ESTONIAN FERRY RUNS AGROUND.
More than 1,000 passengers and crew were evacuated safely from the ferry MS Tallink after it ran aground early in the morning of 22 April shortly after leaving Helsinki, Reuters reported. The accident, which occurred in heavy fog, was apparently caused by a "miscalculation" of the ship's pilot. The ship was towed back for repairs to Helsinki harbor within four hours and the passengers were taken to Tallinn later that day. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN SOUTH AMERICA.
Adolfas Slezevicius, accompanied by Transportation and Energy Ministers Jonas Birziskis and Aleksandras Stasiukynas, Bank of Lithuania Chairman Kazimieras Ratkevicius, and other officials, began a three-day state visit to Venezuela on 23 April, BNS reported the next day. He is scheduled to meet with President Rafael Caldera, the parliament chairman, and various ministers. Slezevicius is to arrive in Colombia on 27 April for talks with President Ernesto Samper Pizano, Foreign Minister Rodrigo Pardo, and other government officials. He hopes, among other things, to find investors for the Butinge oil terminal and to discuss purchases of a new type of fuel costing 30% less than the Russian black oil currently used by the power plant at Elektrenai. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN LATVIA.
Grzegorz Kolodko on 22 April met with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Gailis to discuss prospects for cooperation, BNS reported. He noted that there are more than 250 Polish-Latvian joint ventures in Latvia and stressed the need for establishing a Liepaja-Gdansk ferry line. Kolodko also told a press conference that a free trade agreement between the two countries will probably go into effect on 1 January 1996. Poland is unwilling to sign such an agreement until Latvia has an association membership agreement with the European Union and joins either GATT or the World Trade Organization. Official talks on the free trade agreement will begin in July. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN U.S.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, on a three-day visit to the U.S., met with Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 24 April. Addressing the Washington-based Institute for Strategic and International Studies, he argued in favor of Poland's membership in NATO. Bartoszewski is scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary William Perry and National Security Adviser Anthony Lake. He will also hold talks with representatives of the Jewish community. (Bartoszewski was granted honorary Israeli citizenship for his part in rescuing Jews during the German occupation.) -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

BERLIN-MOSCOW TRAIN LINK TO BE IMPROVED.
Representatives of German, Polish, Belarusian, and Russian railroads, meeting in Warsaw on 24 April, agreed to modernize the Berlin-Warsaw-Minsk-Moscow connection, international agencies report. The trains will travel at an average of 160 km per hour, and the Berlin-Moscow trip will be reduced by 9 hours. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

SHAKE-UP OF CZECH PRISON SERVICE FOLLOWING MURDERER'S DEATH IN JAIL.
Justice Minister Jiri Novak on 24 April fired the head of the Czech Republic's prison service as well as the warden and deputy warden of a jail where a confessed murderer died under suspicious circumstances, Czech media reported. Frantisek Kahanek, who confessed to the sexually motivated murder of a 10-year-old boy, died in custody on 9 April, one day after being arrested. Police and prison officials initially denied that inmates or warders were involved in his death, but a post-mortem showed Kahanek died from injuries possibly sustained during his arrest or in jail. Four prison guards have been jailed on charges of assault and abuse of power, while a police spokesman who gave false information has been sacked. "After five years of trying to humanize the prison service came the Kahanek case. The relevant officials have to take responsibility," Mlada fronta dnes quoted Novak as saying. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.


MAJOR SLOVAK TRADE UNION CRITICIZES PRIVATIZATION METHODS.
The KOVO trade union, in an open letter to the Slovak government, notes that all post-revolution governments and parliaments have implemented economic reforms that were painless only for themselves and a narrow group of supporters. According to KOVO, current high-level political representatives "speak about the need to make the privatization process transparent [and] the necessity to decriminalize the process. Unfortunately, these are only words . . . reality is the direct opposite." The union also claimed that the course of privatization is decided by political loyalty to the current leader and governing power. Chairman of the KOVO board Jozef Krumpolec told Sme that since the revolution, current Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has served in the government longer than any other official. Thus, his government is also responsible for the present "legislative gaps," Krumpolec argued. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

CONTROVERSY OVER EDUCATION IN SLOVAKIA.
Ethnic Hungarian teachers and parents, meeting in the southern Slovak town of Komarno on 23 April, have issued an open letter to Slovak officials and citizens criticizing the government's preparations for "alternative" (bilingual) education. They also raised objections to the recent law on educational administration, which grants the Ministry of Education the authority to appoint school directors, and called for educational autonomy and collective rights. Democratic Union Deputy Chairman Roman Kovac, at a press conference on 25 April, said his party does not support educational autonomy for Hungarians living in southern Slovakia, since the region is mixed, not "ethnically clean." Michal Kovacic, who heads the Teachers' Forum of Slovakia and attended the meeting in Komarno, told Sme that the problems of Slovak and Hungarian teachers "are practically identical" and that both groups are opposed to the law on educational administration. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK ECONOMIC NEWS.
Following a sharp drop in January, Slovak industrial production grew by 0.5% in February. Construction increased by 11.5% and goods transport by 5.5% percent. The unemployment rate fell in March to 14.59%, down from 15.12% the previous month. Unemployment was highest in the district of Rimavska Sobota (28.04%) and lowest in Bratislava (4.74%). Average monthly nominal wages in industrial firms with 25 or more employees fell by 6.4% to 6,199 koruny, Sme reported on 25 April. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.




WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL MOVES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS.
International media reported on 25 April that the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague issued a statement the previous day naming suspected war criminals, including Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic, his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, and former special police chief Mico Stanisic. Charges include genocide, torture, and rape. Chief Justice Richard Goldstone told a press conference that steps toward a formal indictment are now under way. Also named are Bosnian Croat forces for the deliberate murder of innocent Muslim civilians in the Lasva valley in 1992 and 1993. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. WILL KEEP CONTACTS TO SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS.
A State Department spokesman told news agencies on 24 April that Washington welcomes the investigation of war criminals but that it will keep diplomatic channels open to the Bosnian Serb leadership. The 25 April Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added that UN officials in Bosnia criticized the announcement from The Hague, which they said would make their relations with the Bosnian Serbs more difficult and hurt chances for an extension of the current cease-fire. AFP points out that Bosnian Serb media are ignoring the entire story. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER UNIMPRESSED BY INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.
Haris Silajdzic has said the closure of Sarajevo airport by Karadzic's men shows that the international community is allowing the Serbs to "humiliate them at will." He said the international community is "extremely impressionable" and its tolerance "unbelievable." Meanwhile a State Department spokesman said that Washington wants UN intervention to reopen the airport. He added that "we are not prepared to let the Serbs dictate the activities of our diplomats," AFP reported on 24 April. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

KRAJINA SERBS END BLOCKADE OF HIGHWAY.
Croatian Serb rebels have ended their brief attempt to close the Zagreb-Belgrade highway at two points. President Franjo Tudjman's chief of staff, Hrvoje Sarinic, said earlier that Croatian forces would reopen the route if the Serbs did not do so voluntarily. Nasa Borba on 25 April reported that the Krajina Serbs will refuse to allow UN vehicles displaying the new name UNCRO, rather than the former UNPROFOR, to enter their territory. The Serbs reject any suggestion that they remain part of Croatia and are not an independent state. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.


SERBIAN ROUNDUP.
Serbian Patriarch Pavle on 24 April dedicated a new church in the west Serbian city of Valjevo. The patriarch, in his address, alluded to the situation in the former Yugoslavia, noting that true believers have "brotherly love for all and even for enemies who know not what they do." Meanwhile, a new communist party has been founded in the rump Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. Serbia's opposition Democratic Party has sent a delegation to Germany headed by party leader Zoran Djindjic, Nasa Borba reported. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.


ALBANIAN KILLED AT MONTENEGRIN BORDER.
An Albanian has been killed by Yugoslav border guards near a village between Podgorica and Shkoder, Koha Jone reported on 25 April. The 27-year-old Kol Lek Ivanaj was crossing the border to Montenegro on 23 April, together with two other Albanians, when they were stopped by border guards. According to the Albanian Interior Ministry, the three men were trying to reach Albanian territory when the guards shot Ivanaj in the back, seven meters inside rump Yugoslavia. Montenegrin and Albanian experts are expected to investigate the site on 25 April. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS ANNOUNCE RALLIES.
The ethnic Albanian Democratic People's Party and a group that split away from the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PPD) in April 1994 have said they will stage protest rallies on 26 April, Reuters reported on 24 April. The trial of Fadil Sulejmani, director of the self-declared Albanian-language university in Tetovo, is to begin on that date. Sulejmani is charged with instigating mass rebellion at the inauguration of the university in February 1995. The police prevented the university from opening, arguing that it was illegal and provoking clashes in which one Albanian was killed. Sulejmani had earlier warned the authorities not to attack the university, saying that "200,000 Albanians will rise to our defense, and they have guns and grenades." The PPD, the leading ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia, is not officially supporting the rallies. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

STOLEN JEWISH ART RETURNED TO BUDAPEST MUSEUM.
Gen. Ion Pitulescu, head of the Romanian General Police Inspectorate, on 23 April handed over the remainder of a collection of Jewish art treasures stolen from a Budapest synagogue in December 1993, Radio Bucharest reported. Most of the artifacts were found in Romania
and returned in August 1994. According to Hungarian National Police Chief Sandor Pinter, more than 30 gold and silver artworks and religious objects from the 16th to 18th centuries were returned on 23 April alone. Hungarian Jewish leader Gusztav Zoltai said the treasures, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have to be restored before going on display in the Budapest Jewish Museum later this year. Pitulescu, at a ceremony in Budapest marking the return of the stolen artworks, seized the opportunity to praise cooperation between the Romanian and Hungarian police in general. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST.
Georgi Pirinski on 24 April paid a working visit to the Romanian capital, Radio Bucharest reported. He discussed with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, how to boost bilateral relations and regional cooperation. The two leaders agreed that the top priority was to improve the infrastructure, including roads and border crossing points. Melescanu said after the meeting that the two countries plan to build up to 10 new crossing points across the Danube. He noted that the traffic through the two states has dramatically increased in recent years owing to the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Melescanu also said that Romania and Bulgaria will ask the European Union for assistance to improve travel routes between the two countries. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER DENIES ATTEMPTS AT RECOMMUNIZATION.
Zhan Videnov, addressing the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on 24 April, said there are no attempts to reestablish communist structures in Bulgaria's administration and economy, 24 chasa reported the following day. Videnov warned of the consequences the sanctions against rump Yugoslavia may have for neighboring countries. He said the economic losses caused by the embargo threaten the political stability of these countries, and he called for a gradual lifting of the sanctions. Videnov stressed that Bulgaria will not participate in any military action in the Balkans, even under the auspices of international organizations. Also on 24 April, former Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov told RFE/RL that Videnov's position on Serbia was "scandalous and cynical." He urged the parliament and government "to express [Bulgaria's] will to join NATO." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.


FRENCH NEGOTIATOR WILL NOT BE HEARD AT ALBANIAN TRIAL.
Nicola Arsidi, a French citizen who was hired by the Albanian government in 1991 to negotiate forgiveness of Albania's foreign debts, will not be heard at a trial against former Prime Minister Vilson Ahmeti, former National Bank Governor Ilir Hoti, former Trade Bank Directors Ardian Xhyheri and Agron Saliu, and Trade Bank Deputy Director Agim Tartari. The five officials are charged with misappropriating $1.2 million intended as payment to Arsidi. In all, Arsidi was to have received $1.6 million. Andi Celiku, head of a Tirana court, said all efforts to summon Arsidi and his colleagues have failed, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 23 April. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Carla Atkinson and Jan Cleave




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