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Newsline - April 28, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 84, 28 April 1995

RUSSIA

KOZYREV, SHUMEIKO WILL NOT JOIN CHERNOMYRDIN, RYBKIN BLOCS.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev announced in Washington on 26 April that he will not participate in either of the new electoral blocs set up by State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Ekho Moskvy reported. He said that if he participates in the campaign, it will be as an independent candidate "in the presidential bloc." Chernomyrdin had announced on 26 April that all the members of the government would support his grouping. Minister for Social Protection Lyudmila Bezlepkina said that the cabinet's support for the prime minister does not mean that all the ministers will automatically participate in the elections. Mikhail Poltoranin, chairman of the Duma Committee on the Press, commented that Chernomyrdin's announcement would lead to a split in the cabinet, Russian Public Television reported. Speaker of the Federation Council Vladimir Shumeiko also announced that he will not participate in the new blocs, according to Russian Television. * Robert Orttung

PRESIDENT WILL ACCEPT PARLIAMENTARY VERSIONS OF ELECTION LAWS.
Presidential aide Georgy Satarov said that Boris Yeltsin is willing to accept practically any legislation on elections to the parliament and the presidency adopted by the Federal Assembly, NTV reported. The president is concerned, Satarov said, that the two houses of the parliament will be unable to reach agreement on the electoral laws. The president is willing to act as an intermediary to help resolve their disputes but will not issue decrees that supersede the laws adopted by the parliament, his aide said. * Robert Orttung

ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA ACCUSES GRYZUNOV OF TRYING TO FORM "CENSORSHIP COMMITTEE."
The official government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta charged on 26 April that a draft presidential decree would create a "censorship committee" headed by State Press Committee Chairman Sergei Gryzunov. The draft decree would form a Joint Federal Agency on State Information Policy (Gosinform), consisting of the State Press Committee and the Federal TV and Radio Broadcasting Service. Rossiiskaya gazeta alleged that the plan, supported by Yeltsin's chief of staff Sergei Filatov, was an "attempt to form a large propaganda machine to provide tight control over the mass media." Such sharp criticism of a draft presidential decree in an official newspaper points toward a split within the administration; Gryzunov and Filatov are considered among the "liberals" in the president's circle. On 14 March, two weeks after Yeltsin intervened to halt the announced dismissal of Gryzunov, Rossiiskaya gazeta accused the press committee chairman of mismanaging funds and showing favoritism. Gryzunov took the case to the president's Chamber on Information Disputes, which reprimanded the newspaper. * Laura Belin

JOURNALISTS' UNION BEMOANS LACK OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT. . .
Many of the 350 delegates to the fourth congress of the Union of Russian Journalists criticized the government for failing to provide financial support and social protection for journalists, Russian agencies reported on 27 February. Union Chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov complained that many publications were in debt, while the average salary for journalists was only 150,000 rubles a month, NTV reported. Director General of Russian Television (Channel 2) Anatoly Lysenko also noted the inadequate funding for state-run television. He said that television networks no longer have new ideas or new programs--only new sponsors, Russian Television reported. State Duma Press and Information Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin regretted that Yeltsin had not signed a law on state support for the mass media in time for the journalists' congress. The need to "rejuvenate" the union and special problems faced by the provincial press were also discussed at the congress. * Laura Belin

. . . WHILE OTHER JOURNALISTS COMPLAIN OF GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE.
American journalist Steve Levine remains in Tbilisi, having been refused entry into Russia en route to Almaty, Russian and Western agencies reported on 27 April. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Levine was sent back to Tbilisi in accordance with a 1992 CIS agreement to deny entry to foreigners who were unwelcome in any CIS republic. The authorities in Uzbekistan revoked Levine's visa in 1994. However, Levine's accreditation was renewed recently in Russia, and he told Reuters that he has traveled to Russia several times since being deported from Uzbekistan. Levine connected the expulsion with his more recent articles on Chechnya and Russian policy towards Central Asia. Meanwhile, the editor of the weekly Sobesednik complained about the "unprecedented" arrest of two of his correspondents, Ekho Moskvy reported. The journalists are being held for "suspicion of hooliganism" but have not been charged with a crime. * Laura Belin

GOVORUKHIN MAY RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
Stanislav Govorukhin, the well-known film director who heads the Duma's committee investigating the causes of the Chechnya conflict, may run for president as the candidate of the Democratic Party of Russia, Duma member Yury Yakovlev told his constituents in Vladivostok. According to the Radio Mayak report, Govorukhin will enter the campaign if he is assured support beyond his own party. * Robert Orttung

KOZYREV MEETS WITH CLINTON ON SUMMIT.
The
Russian foreign minister met on 27 April with U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss preparations for the summit between the Russian and U.S. presidents to be held during the VE celebrations in Moscow on 9-10 May, Western agencies reported. Although Kozyrev and U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher indicated at a news conference on 26 April that progress had been made on a number of contentious issues, there has been little headway on specific questions. When asked whether Christopher had persuaded him to cancel the Russian nuclear deal with Iran, Kozyrev replied, "I don't think so." Christopher, for his part, said "the United States has a very strong national interest in engagement with Russia" and expressed the hope that the forthcoming summit would help "to manage our differences constructively." Christopher added that European security and Chechnya were the major focus of his talks with Kozyrev, although arms control was also discussed. * Michael Mihalka

IZVESTIYA: KOZYREV IS "SCAREMONGERING" ABOUT NATO.
On 28 April Izvestiya criticized Kozyrev's address in Minneapolis, in which the minister departed from his prepared text and warned that any eastward expansion of NATO would add grist to the mill of Russian nationalism. He is reported to have said that the nationalists could devour even him and that he would have to write his memoirs "from the Gulag." The paper concluded that "diplomacy is too serious a business to be left to diplomats" and complained that Kozyrev was "demonizing" Russian nationalism. It also contended that "people in the West are not afraid" of the foreign minister's "scaremongering." * Doug Clarke

RUSSIA "ALARMED" BY U.S. ANTI-MISSILE TESTS.
Russia is "alarmed" by recent U.S. anti-missile tests, Interfax reported on 27 April. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nikita Matkovsky, pointed out during talks on differentiating strategic from non-strategic systems that the U.S. is conducting these tests before an agreement has been initialed on the issue. He noted that until this agreement is signed, Russia cannot accept that these tests are non-strategic, as the Americans claim, and thus conform to the ABM treaty. Matkovsky added, however, that despite their technical complexity, he thought that the talks had been productive and that the basis existed for agreement. * Michael Mihalka

PART OF IMF LOAN ALLOCATED TO PAY FOREIGN DEBT.
Russia will use the first installment of the $6.8 billion standby loan from the International Monetary Fund to service its foreign debt of about $120 billion (including debts inherited from the former Soviet Union), Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov told Russian and Western news agencies on 27 April. The first $1.1 billion installment of the IMF loan will be paid to Moscow in May. Davydov said that discussions with the Paris Club, the sovereign creditors on Russia's foreign debt, initially scheduled for the end of April have been postponed to 28 May at the request of creditor countries. The deputy prime minister commented that Moscow wants to obtain foreign debt restructuring over at least 25 years, but he added that certain Paris Club members, especially France and Italy, are opposed to long-term restructuring. In any event, Moscow will repay $1.2 billion to the Paris Club this year on a $36 billion debt. Russia will also negotiate with the London Club, which represents foreign creditor banks. * Thomas Sigel

RESTRICTIONS LIFTED ON U.S. BANKS.
President Yeltsin signed a decree on 27 April lifting restrictions applied to U.S. banks that received permission to operate in Russia before 15 November 1993, the Financial Information Agency reported. The new edict supplements a decree on banking issued on 10 June 1994 that authorized foreign and jointly-owned banks with licenses from the Central Bank to work with Russian citizens. That decree did not, however, apply to banks such as Chase Manhattan Bank, which has been operating in Russia for more than 20 years. A total of 12 foreign and jointly-owned banks have been licensed by the Central Bank to carry out operations in Russia. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 84, 28 April 1995 ON INTER-TAJIK CONSULTATIONS. . .
Russia has assessed positively the 26 April agreement between the Tajik opposition and government to extend a seven-month-old cease-fire and hold the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks in Almaty beginning on 20 or 22 May, Interfax reported on 27 April. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev said both sides displayed good will and wisdom and reached "good agreements." He asserted that Russia itself is not a party to the conflict and that Russian border guards and CIS peacekeeping troops will respect the accords. He added, though, that the troops may use force if the agreements are violated on the Tajik-Afghan border. The head of the Tajik opposition delegation, Qazi Ali Akbar Turadzhonzda, praised Russia's recognition of the cease-fire and its promise not to violate it. But he noted that the delegations were unable to clear one obstacle--namely, the withdrawal of 950 government troops sent to Gorno-Badakhshan in contravention of earlier agreements, as he termed it. Turadzhonzoda said that the presence of those troops made the situation "explosive" there and that the overall size of Russia's military presence in Tajikistan should be strictly limited, as it serves to prop up the Tajik regime and could threaten the security of neighboring countries. Both sides have apparently agreed on the need to control the movement of government and opposition troops:
UN military representatives may be called upon to monitor the movement of opposition forces in Afghanistan with the permission of the Afghan government. * Lowell Bezanis

. . . AND GOALS OF TAJIK ISLAMIC OPPOSITION.
Speaking to journalists in Moscow on 27 April, Turadzhonzoda pledged to "refrain from seizing power even if we record sufficient gains in the next elections," AFP reported that day. He went on to say that the sole goal of the Tajik Islamists was to teach people the meaning of Islam as they had been distanced from it during 70 years of Soviet rule. He also proposed the inclusion of an article in the Tajik Constitution that would "exclude for the next 30 to 40 years the establishment of both a theocratic Islamist society and a communist society." Since January, the opposition has insisted that the agenda of the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks include a new political order. * Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 84, 28 April 1995

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

RUSSIA SENDS BACK SOME ASIAN REFUGEES TO LATVIA.
Latvian Immigration Police head Aivars Kurpnieks on 27 April said he cannot understand why Russian border guards sent back to Latvia on that morning's Moscow-Riga train five of the 15 Asian refugees that Latvia deported the previous day, BNS reported. He claimed that the Latvian and Russian foreign ministries had an agreement whereby Russia will accept refugees if it can be proven that they came from Russia. But Aleksandr Udaltsov, deputy director of the Second European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Interfax that his department, which is responsible for the Baltic States, "knows nothing" about any such agreement. He added that Moscow notified Latvia of its willingness to "discuss the problem of illegal emigrants in principle." * Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA RATIFIES CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS.
The Seimas on 27 April unanimously ratified the 1950 European Human Rights and Basic Freedoms Convention, BNS reported. Lithuania accepted the convention by joining the Council of Europe in May 1993 and completed the formal ratification within the required two-year period. The Seimas did not consider ratifying Protocol 6 on the abolition of the death penalty, deeming it inappropriate because of the high crime rate in the country. * Saulius Girnius

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ADDRESSES DEMONOPOLIZATION EFFORTS.
Oleksander Zavada, head of Ukraine's State Antimonopoly Committee, told a government session devoted to the demonopolization program that some 250 associations, composed of nearly 5,000 enterprises, continue to function as monopolies, UNIAR reported on 27 April. He said many new joint-stock companies have maintained the monopoly they had under communism and continue to stifle competition in many sectors, particularly agriculture. Zavada added that the government is moving to speed up its demonopolization program, adopted in 1993, by completing work on 10 presidential draft decrees and government orders as well as five draft laws related to the issue. * Chrystyna Lapychak

POLISH COLONEL'S SENTENCE TO BE EXAMINED BY SUPREME COURT.
The Polish press on 27 April reported that the sentence handed down to Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski for high treason will be examined by the Military Chamber of the Supreme Court on 25 May. Kuklinski was involved in the planning of martial law, proclaimed in Poland in December 1981. He leaked those plans to the U.S. and escaped from Poland in November 1981. Three years later, he was sentenced in absentia to death. Some 19,000 people recently signed a petition, organized by Tygodnik Solidarnosc, urging that Kuklinski be acquitted. Many Polish commentators consider his case to be a litmus test for how the current Polish authorities deal with the country's communist past. * Jakub Karpinski

SEJM TO CREATE PARLIAMENT COMMISSION OVERSEEING INTELLIGENCE SERVICES.
The Sejm on 27 April changed its procedural rules to enable it to create a commission to oversee the intelligence services. The commission would consist of no more than seven deputies. Candidates would be selected by parliament factions or other groups of deputies with at least 35 members. Two opposition parties, the Freedom Union and the Labor Union, wanted guarantees that they would be represented on the commission. When they did not receive those guarantees, the two parties said they would have no part in the commission, PAP reported. * Jakub Karpinski

HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WARSAW.
Gyorgy Keleti, on the first day of an official visit to Poland, met with his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Okonski, on 27 April, Polish and international media report. Keleti said that Hungary and Poland would cooperate to "examine the problems and conditions for joining NATO" with the goal of gaining entry within several years. * Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS NATO SHOULD RE-DEFINE ITSELF BEFORE EXPANDING.
Vaclav Havel on 27 April said NATO should re-define its aims and purpose before admitting new members, Mlada fronta dnes reported. "The expansion of NATO should be preceded by something even more important, that is, a new formulation of its own meaning, mission, and identity," the newspaper quoted Havel as telling a conference of NATO armed forces leaders in Mons, Belgium. Havel said the Czech Republic wants to join NATO not simply to be protected but also to take part in joint defense units. He said that membership in NATO should be open to all countries that have democratic values. Havel added that he cannot imagine Russia becoming a member but that the alliance should develop a strategic partnership with it. * Steve Kettle

U.S. CONCERNED ABOUT REHABILITATION OF WWII SLOVAK PRESIDENT.
U.S. congressman Tom Lantos, visiting Slovakia on 27 April, said the U.S. was concerned about steps to rehabilitate World War II Slovak President Jozef Tiso, particularly because representatives of the government coalition are participating in such actions, Narodna obroda reported. Lantos said that during discussions with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, he made his position on the matter very clear. Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota later told TASR that Lantos "does not know the history of Slovakia" if he considers Tiso to be on the same level as Hitler and Mussolini. * Sharon Fisher

CONTINUED CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY.
Democratic Union Deputy Chairman Ludovit Cernak, at a press conference on 27 April, said his party will probably not support the ratification of the Hungarian-Slovak treaty because it is "disadvantageous" for Slovakia and because it grants minorities collective rights. Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar said ratification of the treaty might be postponed owing to the negative stand of his coalition partner, the Slovak National Party, Narodna obroda reported. He commented that his party will try to get the SNP to change its mind. Meanwhile, the Slovak Ministry of Education called meeting of ethnic Hungarian educators in Komarno on 22 April a "destabilizing" step. It said the protesters' criticism of plans to implement bilingual education in Hungarian schools is "demagogic," Slovak media reported on 27 and 28 April. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION OFFICIAL RESIGNS.
The Hungarian government on 27 April announced it had accepted the resignation of Istvan Farkas, commissioner in charge of state bank sales, Hungarian media and Reuters reported. A government spokesman told journalists that the cabinet relieved Farkas at his own request. His resignation came, however, just as Hungary unveiled plans to speed up the floundering sales of state property. The government is to abolish the post of commissioner. Selling off the state-owned banks will become the task of a new privatization authority that Hungary plans to set up in May. The new body will combine the various agencies now involved in the sale of public property. * Jiri Pehe



OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 84, 28 April 1995

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN ARMY TO "LIBERATE SARAJEVO"?
Hasan Muratovic, the Bosnian government's representative for relations with the UN, told the city council on 27 April that the army may have to free the capital from the Serbian siege if international negotiators fail to broker an agreement to demilitarize Sarajevo. AFP quoted the independent ONASA news agency as saying that preparations for talks are under way, but it is not clear which international body will sponsor them. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright wants the Contact Group to discuss at its 28 April meeting the Serbs' continued closure of the Sarajevo airport and their demand for a veto right over the civilian passenger lists. Meanwhile, Serbian shells continued to hit Sarajevo over night, and fighting goes on in the Brcko corridor connecting Serbia with its conquests in Bosnia and Croatia, Western agencies reported. * Patrick Moore

CONTACT GROUP TO MEET AS BOSNIAN CEASE-FIRE RUNS OUT.
The international negotiating body consisting of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Russia is to meet in Paris on 28 April to discuss what to do when the four-month old Bosnian cease-fire expires on 30 April. Repeated attempts to bring the Bosnian Serbs around to accepting the current peace plan have failed, and neither side shows much interest in a formal prolongation of the cease-fire. The truce was never in effect in the Bihac pocket, where Krajina Serbs and Muslim rebels were not party to it, and the agreement has largely broken down in several other areas since mid-March. * Patrick Moore

MILITARY BALANCE IN BOSNIA.
The BBC on 28 April quotes British dailies as concluding that neither the government nor the Serbs have the strength to win an outright military victory. The mainly Muslim army has manpower, motivation, and mobility on its side, while Radovan Karadzic's forces have more heavy guns and tanks. The government has been trying to launch offensives in areas where the Serbian guns are of little value. Its weakness could be offset somewhat by Croatian artillery and armor, and attention is now on a battle line stretching roughly from the Bihac pocket down to the Croatian stronghold of western Herzegovina. A victory for the government's Fifth Corps and its Croatian allies could cripple links in this sector between Krajina and the Bosnian Serbs and open the way for the allies into Serb-held western Bosnia. In such a case, most observers feel that Belgrade would intervene militarily much more directly that it is now. * Patrick Moore

UN FINALIZES TERMS FOR NEW MANDATE IN CROATIA.
The Security Council is set to adopt a resolution clarifying the terms of a new mandate for peacekeepers to be known as UNCRO. AFP on 27 April said the text is based on a 18 April report by the secretary-general and will involve a cut in forces from about 12,000 to 8,750. This is a bigger reduction than the Serbs want but less than the Croats demand. Russia is likely to keep its troops in the area, which Knin insists on. But it is not clear whether Zagreb will get its wish to eliminate Third World units from UNCRO and have them replaced chiefly by NATO troops. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 28 April provides a list of 95 detention camps for Serbs in Croatia since 1991. * Patrick Moore

SERBIAN RADICAL LEADER ON WAR CRIMES CHARGES.
Leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj said at a 27 April press conference that if Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadic and his military counterpart, Ratko Mladic, have been named war criminals by the International War Crimes Tribunal, then why not the SRS leader himself? Seselj has sided with Karadzic in his apparent feud with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and his latest remarks likely signal continuing solidarity and support amid allegations that the Bosnian leadership is corrupt and accountable for crimes. Seselj continues to deny involvement in war crimes. He has said he does not fear prosecution and will willingly go to The Hague if summoned, Nasa Borba reported on 28 April. * Stan Markotich

BELGRADE BRACES FOR WAR?
Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic on 27 April told Tanjug that a resumption of wide-scale fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina may be in the offing. He warned that the Bosnian Muslim authorities "lacked sincerity and [have been] massively violating the truce." As a result, he commented, any possibility that civil war will not resume in Bosnia has been destroyed. * Stan Markotich

DIRECT TALKS TO START OVER SANDZAK?
Nebojsa Leskovic, deputy leader of the tiny New Democracy Party in Serbia, announced that talks between the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in the Sandzak and the Serbian government are likely to begin within the next two weeks. The SDA represents the Serbian Muslim minority, which mainly lives in the former Ottoman Sandzak of Novi Pazar, an area divided between Serbia and Montenegro. Since the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars, frequent human rights violations have been reported in the Sandzak, and this question is expected be discussed at the talks. The SDA is reported to have declared its respect for the territorial integrity of rump Yugoslavia, but party leader Rasim Ljajic has nonetheless demanded that talks take place under international mediation. * Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIAN PROTESTERS DEMAND GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION.
Speakers at a rally in Skopje on 27 April demanded the government's resignation, international agencies reported the same day. The so-called Meeting of the Hungry was staged by the League of Independent and Autonomous Trade Unions to protest economic hardship. Union Secretary Atanas Lefterov told protesters that the government has to resign "because there is no room for it in this country." He also demanded early elections within the next three months. Previous talks between the union and the government failed to produce any results. Government spokesman Guner Ismail on 26 April announced that the government intends to adhere to its reform course. Nova Makedonija on 28 April cited Ismail as saying that the nationalist opposition was behind the protests, which he called "not a trade-union but a political action." * Stefan Krause

UPDATE ON ROMANIAN RESPONSE TO STRASBOURG DECISION.
A government spokesman on 27 April said that Romania was closely watching the debates in Strasbourg in order to formulate its own official stance after the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly voted to make Recommendation 1201 mandatory for all council members, Radio Bucharest reported. Chamber of Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase admitted that the issue has been "somewhat dramatized." But he added that Article 11 of the recommendation, dealing with autonomy based on ethnic criteria, was "unacceptable" to Romania. Bela Marko, Chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, expressed satisfaction with the assembly's decision. He also said statements made the previous day by Romanian President Ion Iliescu and his spokesman, Traian Chebeleu (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 April 1995) were "shocking." Iliescu, in a statement released on 27 April, said documents adopted by the assembly were neither mandatory nor expected to be ratified by individual member states. * Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT WANTS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE RENAMED.
Mircea Snegur, addressing the parliament on 27 April, suggested that the name of the country's official language be changed from Moldovan to Romanian, Interfax and Infotag reported the same day. Snegur admitted that the decision to use the term "Moldovan" in the 1994 constitution was politically motivated. He announced that a draft law on amending Articles 13 and 118 of the constitution, which deal with the language issue, will be forwarded to the parliament soon. The Constitutional Court, he added, had already endorsed the changes. * Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS DUMA RESOLUTION.
The Moldovan parliament on 27 April adopted a declaration saying the recent Russian State Duma resolution on the 14th army was "an unfriendly act toward Moldova and a violation of UN and OSCE documents." Parliament chairman Petre Lucinschi, in an interview with Interfax, said the Duma document speaks of the "Dniester Moldovan Republic," despite Russian leaders' having repeatedly acknowledged that the Dniester region was part of the Republic of Moldova. He noted that the planned reorganization of the 14th army was Russia's internal affair. But he praised the army's commander, Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, as the "most suitable candidate" for this position under the present circumstances. * Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS LEGALITY OF LAND LAW.
Zhelyu Zhelev on 17 April issued a decree returning the law on the restitution of farm land to the parliament for further discussion, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Presidential spokesman Valentin Stoyanov said the president opposes the land law in principle because it would effectively halt agrarian reform and because it contradicts the constitution. The law, passed on 14 April, restricts the right of land owners to sell their plots. If the Socialist majority reapproves the law, Zhelev will appeal to the Constitutional Court to overrule the amendments. Zhelev has so far contested three laws passed by the Socialist majority, but it is the first time he has said he will take the matter to the Constitutional Court. * Stefan Krause

POLITICAL COMMISSION FAVORS ALBANIAN MEMBERSHIP IN COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
The rapporteur of the Council of Europe's political commission dealing with Albania's membership has concluded that Albania should become a member of the Council of Europe, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 28 April. In a report presented to the council, he said that the Albanian government may resolve the issue of Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, who is serving a 12-year prison term for embezzlement and falsification of documents, by announcing an amnesty. But it is more likely that his case will be reviewed later this year by a court of appeal. If Albania becomes a member of the council, it will have to sign a number of protocols dealing with human rights, including one stating that every citizen can appeal to the European Court of Justice. Such a move may offer another solution to the issue of Nano's prison term. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave



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