CHERNOMYRDIN FORMS ELECTORAL BLOC.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
will lead a centrist movement of democratic forces for the upcoming
parliamentary elections, Russian and western agencies reported on 25 April.
Chernomyrdin said the bloc was created to prevent extremists from winning the
upcoming elections and to help form a government that will be backed by a
majority in the Duma after the elections, Ekho Moskvy reported. Chernomyrdin
confirmed that parliamentary elections will be held on schedule and said his
movement would "create the conditions for normal work" in Russia. The movement
hopes to attract widespread regional support; Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Shakrai's Party of Russian Unity and Accord and the Duma groups Stability and
New Regional Policy will join Chernomyrdin's bloc, Russian Television reported.
Shakhrai said a strong centrist movement will help "stabilize the situation" in
Russia and "overcome the chaos" that has characterized the parliamentary
campaign to date, Ekho Moskvy reported. In the past, Chernomyrdin has described
himself as a professional economic planner, not a politician. * Laura Belin
REACTION TO CHERNOMYRDIN ANNOUNCEMENT.
President Boris Yeltsin welcomed
the new Chernomyrdin bloc, which he said would attract voters who value
"experience and professionalism," Interfax reported on 25 April. Appearing on
Russian Television, Duma deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of Shakhrai's
party, said the movement would "express the interests of voters" and facilitate
"coordinated actions" among all branches of power. Others denounced the new
bloc. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky asserted on Moscow Television that
having realized the government could not credibly postpone elections,
Chernomyrdin's main goal was to win the elections and "leave everything like it
is today." Liberal Democratic Party member and Duma Deputy Chairman Alexander
Vengerovsky complained, "The government is supposed to manage the country . . .
. It is when these people go in for politics instead of working in their
offices that the country sinks into chaos," Ekho Moskvy reported. Duma
Constitutional Legislation Committee Chairman Vladimir Isakov of the Agrarian
party called Chernomyrdin's announcement "improper," since the constitution
forbids the government from participating in politics, Interfax reported. A
Radio Rossii commentator predicted that the prime minister would have trouble
leading an electoral bloc and the cabinet at the same time. * Laura Belin
RYBKIN APPARENTLY FORMS NEW POLITICAL BLOC.
President Yeltsin also
welcomed the new left-center bloc that will apparently be led by Duma Speaker
Ivan Rybkin, according to Stability's Alexei Alexandrov, who met with Yeltsin
25 April, Interfax reported. The coalition includes Mikhail Shmakov's
Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Vasily Lipitsky's Social Democratic
Union, the Russian United Industrial Party, Yury Petrov's Union of Realists,
and Lyudmila Vartazarova's Socialist Workers' Party. Rybkin, a member of the
Agrarian Party, neither confirmed nor denied that he will lead the new
coalition, Russian TV and Interfax reported. He said he plans to discuss the
issue of the Agrarian Party joining the group with party leader Mikhail Lapshin
when Lapshin returns from his tour of the country This bloc will seek to
attract the votes that might otherwise go to the Congress of Russian
Communities, former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi's Derzhava, Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, and the Communists. Viktor Zorkaltsev,
deputy leader of the communist group in the State Duma, said that the
communists are prepared to consider all proposals about forming a bloc,
Interfax reported. The Russia deputies' group is likely to join, according to
its chairman Igor Shichanin. That group now brings together 38 Duma members.
NTV speculated that the Women of Russia would also enter the alliance. * Robert
REACTION TO APPEARANCE OF BOTH BLOCS.
Rossiiskie vesti of 26
April evaluated the appearance of Chernomyrdin's and Rybkin's bloc positively
as proof that "Russian politics is becoming more civilized." The simultaneous
appearance of the two blocs appears to be part of Yeltsin's efforts to combat
the rise of political extremism, signaled first by his 23 March decree on
fascism. Radio Rossii, however, said that the blocs' main weakness is that
voters will have trouble differentiating their programs, both of which stress
continuity rather than radical changes. The station predicts that such an
approach will not attract many voters. Russian Television speculates that
Chernomyrdin and Rybkin will now be the main contenders for the post of the
Russian presidency in 1996. * Robert Orttung
LEBED TO RESIGN HIS POST?
Reforms ordered by Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev may prompt 14th Army commander, Lieut-Gen. Alexander Lebed to resign,
Russian agencies reported on 25 April. Grachev's decree will reorganize the
14th Army command, forcing Lebed to choose between several other military
positions offered to him, presumably not in the Trans-Dniester region of
Moldova. Lebed told Ekho Moskvy that he had not yet decided how to respond to
Grachev's order. "I will not agree to assume any other office," Lebed said. "So
in all probability, the man you are speaking to is a potential pensioner." An
NTV correspondent speculated that if he resigns, Lebed may join the election
campaign as a leader of the Congress of Russian Communities. Lebed's threat to
resign may foreshadow deeper involvement of military men in Russian politics,
according to an observer on military matters for Moskovskie novosti. *
JUSTICE MINSTER JOINS SECURITY COUNCIL.
President Yeltsin has appointed
Minister of Justice Valentin Kovalev to be a member of the Security Council,
the president's press service announced 25 April according to Interfax.
Kovalev's appointment as Justice Minister was controversial because he was part
of the Communist bloc in the Duma. Since joining the cabinet, he has supported
the Kremlin policy in Chechnya. The Security Council has played a major role in
formulating that policy. * Robert Orttung
RUSSIANS AND AMERICANS PLANNING NEXT JOINT EXERCISE.
A Russian military
working group flew to the U.S. on 25 April to discuss upcoming joint
peacekeeping exercises with their American counterparts. Colonel Nikolai
Malyshev, head of the ground forces' press center, told Interfax that
preliminary planning for the exercises, which will be held in the U.S. in 1996,
would involve more than 100 service personnel
from each country. The
Russian contingent will come from the 27th Motorized Rifle Division--one of two
divisions designated for peacekeeping roles. * Doug Clarke
WORLD BANK APPROVES LOANS FOR RUSSIA.
On 25 April, Russia and the World
Bank signed loan agreements totaling $555.8 million to fund economic reform and
the cleanup of a massive oil spill near the Arctic Circle, Western agencies
reported. The World Bank's commitments to Russia now amount to $3.6 billion.
The new loans include $400 million to support the creation of private housing
markets in a number of cities; $16.8 million to modernize the tax system; $40
million for training personnel in the financial industry; and $99 million to
help clean up more than 100,000 tons of oil that leaked last year from a
pipeline in the Komi Republic. Officials have described the last project as "a
race against time" to contain the oil before the spring thaw. Also on 25 April,
Interfax reported a fracture in an oil pipeline in Tyumen Oblast that caused a
spill covering 30 hectares. The accident was said to have occurred on 19 April,
but the management of the local oil company Megionneftgaz did not report it. *
RUBLE RATE WILL NOT BE FIXED.
Russia's Economy Minister Yevgeny Yasin
said in a 25 April Interfax interview that the "national currency will
stabilize without the need to fix the rate." He commented that the ruble rate's
gradual slide in line with inflation would be more favorable for Russia. Yasin
said that a steady ruble and rising prices would affect home producers and
exporters. As imports become cheaper, it may create the illusion that the
market is being saturated, prices are falling and living standards are
stabilizing, he said. Yasin said the Central Bank itself make a decision about
interest rates. * Thomas Sigel
RUBLE SLIDES 16 POINTS AGAINST DOLLAR.
The ruble slid 16 points on 25
April to 5,081 rubles to $1 on MICEX trading, the Financial Information Agency
reported. Market trading volume stood at $85.04 million for initial demand of
$85.06 million against supply of $65.4 million. * Thomas Sigel
IRAQ GRANTS RUSSIA RIGHT TO DEVELOP OIL FIELDS.
Iraq has granted Russia
the right to develop two major oil fields and Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri
Shafranik is in Baghdad to discuss possible cooperation on a range of energy
projects, ITAR-TASS reported 25 April. However, any agreements would take
effect only after the UN lifts sanctions against Iraq. When asked why Russia
was selected to develop fields that are in the southeast of the country, Iraqi
Oil Minister Safa' Hadi Jawad al-Habubi said, "Russians are our friends, and we
are maintaining good relations with them." * Michael Mihalka
KAZAKHSTAN FREE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
All Soviet-era nuclear warheads have
been transferred from Kazakhstan to Russia, Colonel General Viktor Yesin,
Russian Strategic Missile Forces chief of staff, told ITAR-TASS on 25 April.
When Kazakhstan became independent, it had 104 giant SS-18 intercontinental
ballistic missiles on its territory, each loaded with 10 nuclear warheads.
Yesin said the transfer was completed 24 April. According to the terms of the
Lisbon protocol to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1),
Kazakhstan--along with Belarus and Ukraine--pledged to eliminate the strategic
nuclear weapons on their territories by 1999. * Doug Clarke
WAR OF WORDS OVER BLACK SEA FLEET IMPASSE.
The Russian Foreign Ministry
reacted quickly to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's 24 April statement that
Ukraine could not accept Russia's proposals on the Black Sea Fleet
issue--particularly its demand for all of Sevastopol as a Russian naval base.
On 25 April, a "high official" of the ministry told ITAR-TASS that Russia's
stand on the issue was "fair morally and justified" legally. The government
favors establishing separate bases for the two resulting fleets, "which is the
exact wording of the agreement on state-by-stage settlement of the problem
signed by the presidents of Russia and Ukraine in April 1994." Kuchma said that
the Black Sea Fleet problem was one of territory and not ships. The Russian
official countered that there had been nothing in Russia's stand on territory
during the three years of negotiations that had warranted the slightest
Ukrainian concern. "Those who raise this problem now," he added, "are inventing
it." * Doug Clarke
CIS TO STUDY JOINT STAFF.
Lieutenant General Leonid Ivashov, secretary
of the CIS Council of Defense Ministers, said 24 April that the CIS defense
ministers plan to set up a Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of the CIS Armed
Forces, Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. The committee will be
comprised of the chiefs of the general staffs of the CIS national forces, who
will conduct a "profound analysis of program, theoretical, and practical
matters and the coordination of the operations of CIS armies' staffs," Ivashov
said. * Michael Mihalka
CRIMEAN LEGISLATORS VOTE TO HOLD REGIONWIDE REFERENDUM.
parliament on 25 April voted by 57 to zero to hold a non-binding regionwide
referendum at the same time as the local elections on 25 June, Interfax-Ukraine
and Reuters reported the same day. The poll would ask voters whether they
supported the controversial Crimean Constitution, which stipulates that
relations between the autonomous region and Ukraine should be governed by
bilateral treaties rather than the Ukrainian Constitution. Crimeans would also
be asked whether they backed Kiev's recent crackdown on Crimean separatism and
whether they were in favor of political and economic union with Ukraine,
Russia, and Belarus. Ukrainian Justice Minister Vasyl Onopenko and Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma, who is on an official visit to the Czech Republic,
called the vote illegal. The Ukrainian leader said Kiev might undertake further
punitive action if Crimeanleaders went ahead with the unconstitutional poll.
Leaders of the Ukrainian parliament said their assembly would consider
overturning the Crimean deputies' decision. It would also look into dissolving
the 98-member body, which has split over Kiev's crackdown. Crimean legislators
also appealed to the parliaments of both Russia and Ukraine to monitor the
referendum to protect the rights of the large ethnic Russian majority in the
region. * Chrystyna Lapychak
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF CHORNOBYL DISASTER.
On the eve of the ninth
anniversary of the 1986 accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, a
special medical seminar revealed the results of research conducted by the
Ukrainian Health Ministry among 1 million residents in the three regions most
affected by the blast, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 25 April. The research
revealed that in Kiev, Zhytomyr, and Rivne Oblasts, the incidence of thyroid
cancer has increased by 200%, heart disease 75%, respiratory diseases 130%, and
digestive illnesses 280% The death rate among inhabitants has risen by 15.7%
since the accident. Health care officials also revealed that health
consequences are most serious among the 233,507 cleanup workers, who have been
exposed to high levels of radiation. * Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN FOREIGN TRADE.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Statistics has
released figures on non-CIS trade in January and February, Ukrainian Television
reported on 25 April. Ukraine exports totaled $140 million and imports just
under $40 million. Ukraine's largest exports were sugar, meat, fish, alcoholic,
and non-alcoholic beverages. Its biggest imports were seed, tobacco, and cocoa.
* Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT FIRES ANOTHER EDITOR.
Trud on 25 April
reported that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree
firing Mikhail Katyushenka, editor in chief of the youth newspaper Znamya
yunosti. Katyushenka is the fourth editor of a nationwide newspaper to be
fired by Lukashenka. Previous decrees had dismissed the editors of
Sovetskaya Belorussiya, Respublika, and Narodnaya hazeta.
* Ustina Markus
BANK OF ESTONIA APPOINTS NEW PRESIDENT.
The board of the Bank of Estonia
has asked President Lennart Meri to appoint Vahur Kraft as the bank's new
president, BNS reported on 25 April, Kraft, the bank's vice president since
1991, was recommended by former bank president Siim Kallas. Kallas submitted
his resignation after being elected to the Estonian parliament in early March,
but Meri approved it only last week. * Saulius Girnius
HAZING IN LATVIAN ARMED FORCES.
Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, in an
effort to eliminate hazing of recruits in the armed forces, has proposed
establishing the posts of general inspector and deputy commander for
educational issues, BNS reported on 24 April. He also suggested that
operational groups be set up to launch speedy investigations into all
disciplinary infringements. According to information gathered by armed forces
staff, 2,954 cases of military discipline infringement were registered in the
first three months of 1995--218 fewer than in the same period of 1994, BNS
reported on 25 April. Although less than 1% of these infringements were
classified as recruit hazing, a survey among soldiers revealed that 32.6% had
experienced hazing between two and four times, 21.3% more than 10 times, and
9.5% regularly. Some 2,000 soldiers sought medical help in 1994, of which
50-60% were for injuries and illnesses due to hazing. * Saulius Girnius
POLISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN LITHUANIA.
Roman Jagielinski, who is
also minister of agriculture, arrived in Vilnius on 24 April for a two-day
visit to discuss expanding free trade between the two countries and to speak
about Poland's experience in transforming agriculture in line with European
Union standards, BNS reported. He held talks the same day with President
Algirdas Brazauskas and Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture Vytautas Einoris.
Jagielinski on 25 April visited the international agricultural fair "AgroBalt
95." * Saulius Girnius
UPDATE ON POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER'S VISIT TO U.S.
said in Washington that Poland is ready for full membership in NATO but
preparations for entering the EU will take more time, international agencies
reported. After meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, Bartoszewski
announced that the first Polish-U.S. military exercises will start in three
months. Bartoszewski on 25 April quoted U.S. Vice President Al Gore as telling
him that "there will be no problem about whether Poland is going to be in NATO,
but there is a problem about when and how." He called for a definitive
statement from NATO that no outside country will be able to veto the entry of
new members and that the enlargement process will "not be prolonged ad
infinitum." Asked about Russia, Bartoszewski played down the influence of
nationalist leaders such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He commented that "the real
threat to Russian democracy stems from the generals and from defense-industrial
circles, which would like to see another Afghanistan or another Chechnya
because events like that simply justify their existence." * Jakub Karpinski
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN PRAGUE.
Leonid Kuchma arrived in Prague on 25
April for a two-day state visit, Czech and international media reported. He
told a news conference that Ukraine hopes for early integration into European
institutions and that the first step would be membership in the Council of
Europe. President Vaclav Havel said the Czech Republic, which is to take over
the Presidency of the Council of Europe this year, will support Ukraine's
application. Havel also said he hoped for expanded economic ties with Ukraine.
The two presidents are due to sign a friendship and cooperation treaty on 26
April. Kuchma told Czech Television he is concerned about the possible eastward
expansion of NATO, which could leave Ukraine as a buffer state between the
Western alliance and a collective security bloc of the CIS. * Steve Kettle
TWO CZECH GOVERNING PARTIES DISCUSS POSSIBLE MERGER.
Leaders of the
Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the Christian Democratic Party (KDS) held
preliminary talks on 25 April about a possible merger before the June 1996
parliament elections. If the two groups merge, they will run under the banner
of the ODS, the dominant force in the four-party coalition, Mlada fronta
dnes reported. The ODS and the tiny KDS joined forces in the last elections
as coalition partners. Leaders of both parties said talks will continue but the
KDS also plans to discuss a possible merger with another governing party, the
Christian Democratic Union-People's Party. A final decision cannot be taken
before the party congresses, which are due in December. * Steve Kettle
CZECH ROCK GROUP SENTENCED FOR RACIST SONGS.
A Prague court gave the six
members of the Czech rock group Branik eight-month suspended sentences on 25
April for racist texts attacking blacks, gypsies, and Asians. The group broke
up shortly after the offending album appeared in 1991. One song contained the
lines: "Your mission is sacred, you're going to beat those swine; niggers,
gypsies, and yellows, don't let them live in peace." The prosecuting state
attorney immediately appealed the sentences, believing them to be too lenient,
Czech media reported. * Steve Kettle
SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS.
The Slovak parliament's Mandate and
Immunity Committee on 25 April began disciplinary action against Democratic
Union deputy Milan Knazko for referring to Slovak National Party members as
"neo-fascists" and Association of Workers of Slovakia members as
"neo-bolsheviks" at the last parliament session. Committee votes to bring
charges against two other opposition deputies for recent statements failed to
gain sufficient support, Pravda reports. Also on 25 April, the Slovak
government approved amendments to the criminal code that "create conditions for
a more effective fight against bribery and corruption," Slovenska
Republika reports. Meanwhile, parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic announced
that at the seventh session of the parliament, scheduled to begin on 3 May, the
administration of supervisory body of the Slovak Information Service will be
discussed. Ivan Lexa, who was elected to the parliament last fall as a deputy
of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, currently heads both the SIS and the
supervisory body. * Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK COMMISSIONS CONTINUE TO INVESTIGATE "CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS,"
The Slovak parliament commission charged with
investigating the "constitutional crisis" of March 1994, when Vladimir Meciar
was removed as prime minister in a no-confidence vote, has interviewed a number
of former and current parliament deputies. Ivan Korbela, who left the MDS and
was interviewed on 25 April, said the goal of the commission is to discredit
President Michal Kovac and to remove him from office, Sme and
Pravda reported. A second commission, set up to review the petition
lists of the Democratic Union (the party needed at least 10,000 valid
signatures to compete in last fall's elections), is also continuing its work,
according to Dusan Macuska, an MDS deputy who heads both commissions. * Sharon
BRITISH WANT OUT OF GORAZDE.
Britain on 25 April announced that it is
seeking relief for its contingent of 350 peacekeepers patrolling the Bosnian
Muslim enclave of Gorazde, in eastern Bosnia. "We have asked the UN to try to
find a replacement . . . when [the British peacekeepers'] tour ends in
September," Reuters quoted a representative of the British Ministry of Defense
as saying. The latest British announcement comes in the wake of a similar Dutch
request to have soldiers relieved from duty in Srebrenica. * Stan Markotich
RUSSIA DEFENDS KARADZIC, MLADIC . . .
Moscow has reacted negatively to
the international war crimes tribunal decision to name Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, as
possible war criminals. One senior Russian diplomat has stressed that bringing
charges against them may escalate tensions throughout the country. "Such a step
would be damaging to peace efforts in the Balkans . . . . [The Bosnian Serb
leaders] are seen as freedom fighters by one side and as criminals by the
other," he told Interfax on 25 April. * Stan Markotich
. . . WHILE KARADZIC WELCOMES SERBIAN PATRIARCH.
Karadzic, together with
speaker of the Bosnian Serb legislature Momcilo Krajisnik, received Serbian
Orthodox Patriarch Pavle in the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale on 25 April,
Nasa Borba reported. Pavle used the occasion to sharply criticize
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for allegedly abandoning the Bosnian Serbs
and imposing a blockade against them. He also gave his indirect support to
Bosnian Serb military efforts, observing "It is better to die than to betray
our soul." The patriarch commented that "our forefathers fought . . . in
defense of their freedom, land, and faith." * Stan Markotich
BELGRADE STANDS FIRM ON SANCTIONS.
Federal rump Yugoslav Premier Radoje
Kontic is the latest major Belgrade political figure to attack recent moves by
the international community to tighten requirements for lifting or suspending
sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. He is quoted by Nasa Borba on 26
April as saying Belgrade "has earned a complete lifting of the sanctions."
Meanwhile, Politika reported the same day that Russia continues its
lobbying to have sanctions removed against its Balkan allies. According to the
daily, Aleksandr Zotov, representative to the international Contact Group, has
said that "until the sanctions are lifted, Belgrade is not prepared to extend
diplomatic recognition to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina." * Stan Markotich
MAZOWIECKI REPORT ON BOSNIA.
Tadeusz Mazowiecki, special rapporteur of
the UN Human Rights Commission, has submitted his 15th report since 1992 on
human rights violations in former Yugoslavia, according to international
agencies. The report focuses on the Banja Luka and Prijedor region, where
non-Serbs have reportedly been "subjected to unrelenting terrorization and
discrimination," including plundering, beating, and compulsory service on labor
brigades, which often use them as human shields on the front lines. Mazowiecki
notes that "the de facto Bosnian Serb authorities are very close to attaining
their apparent aim of achieving `ethnic purity' in territory under their
control." The former Polish premier has been denied access to territory held by
Bosnian Serbs forces, but his report was based on interviews with recent Muslim
and Croatian refugees. * Fabian Schmidt
KOSOVAR SCHOOLS PREVENTED FROM RESUMING CLASSES.
Serbian directors of
several elementary schools in Pec, Prizren, and Pristina prevented Albanian
staff and pupils from entering the buildings on 24 April, the Kosovo
Information Center reported the next day. The schools are for Albanians and
Serbs and offer instruction in both languages. But this week has been declared
a public holiday by the Serbian authorities to celebrate the anniversary of the
foundation of the rump Yugoslavia on 27 April 1992. Private schools run by
all-Albanian staff are the only ones in Kosovo to continue classes. Serbian
police reportedly also threatened Albanians who allowed secondary school pupils
to receive instruction in their house. * Fabian Schmidt
ROMANIA CRITICIZES COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL.
A statement by Miguel
Angel Martinez, president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, has
caused widespread controversy in Romania. A Radio Bucharest correspondent
quoted Martinez as saying in Strasbourg on 24 April that the council's
Recommendation 1201 on ethnic minority rights should remain valid. Radio
Bucharest described the statement as "surprising" and said it contrasted with
Martinez's earlier statements that the recommendation lost its importance
following the adoption of the framework convention on ethnic minorities.
Chamber of Deputies Chairman and former Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase, in a
lengthy press release, suggested that Martinez was pressured into revising his
views. Romania opposes the inclusion of a reference to Recommendation 1201 in
its long-delayed basic treaty with Hungary. Meanwhile, Romanian and Hungarian
experts resumed negotiations on the treaty on 25 April. * Dan Ionescu
14TH RUSSIAN ARMY TO BE DOWNGRADED.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev on 19 April issued instructions on reforming the 14th Russian army,
based in Tiraspol, according to ITAR-TASS on 25 April. The decree provides for
army headquarters to be scaled down to an office in charge of a single division
by 1 July. The same source quotes Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, commander of the
14th army, as describing the decision "to chop off [his army's] head" as
"criminal." Lebed added that he doubted he would be offered another position in
the army and that he was not prepared to accept any other office. Reuters said
the 45-year-old general planned to run in the 1996 presidential elections. Many
Russians see Lebed as a firm ruler capable of restoring order in post-communist
Russia. * Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WARNS OF RECOMMUNIZATION.
The Union of Democratic
Forces, in a memorandum to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, has
warned of attempts by the government to recommunize the country,
Demokratsiya reported on 25 April. The UDF claims the Socialist
government's activities have halted economic and political reform and are a
step back toward a totalitarian regime. It also notes that the opposition is
being denied access to the media, "which are controlled by the government." *
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ON EU MEMBERSHIP.
Zhan Videnov, during his
visit to Brussels, said on 25 April that he hopes his country will be granted
membership in the European Union within the next five years, Reuters reported
the same day. He commented that Bulgaria "must prepare very thoroughly" for
membership and that talks can begin only after the EU has reviewed the
Maastricht treaty in 1996. At a press conference after his meeting with
European Commission President Jacques Santer, Videnov said he realized that
hopes for a quick admission into the EU are "wishful thinking." Videnov also
met with NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes, who praised Bulgaria's
participation in the Partnership for Peace program as "very useful,"
Demokratsiya reported on 26 April. He added, however, that NATO
membership for Bulgaria and other East European countries "is not on the daily
agenda." * Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN-U.S. NAVAL COOPERATION.
Albanian Defense Minister Safet Zhulali
met with a high-ranking U.S. naval official on 25 April, Rilindja
reported the next day. The two men discussed developing cooperation between the
two navies, especially in the field of hydrography. The U.S. navy offered the
Albanians modern equipment and handed over coastal maps of American origin. *
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Carla Atkinson and Jan Cleave