STEPASHIN COMMENTS ON CHECHNYA.
Before leaving Moscow for Chechnya on 2
May, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Sergei Stepashin said Russian
security officers had obtained personal documents belonging to Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev which reveal his links to political, financial, and
military circles in Russia, Russian Public Television reported. Stepashin said
Dudaev is merely a figurehead in the Chechen regime, but he declined to say who
holds real power. Stepashin added that the FSB has created a special department
for Chechnya, which will be one of its largest regional branches. On the same
day, Stepashin told Interfax that "negotiations with the elders and with
civilians in general" indicate that a full-scale guerrilla war is unlikely to
develop in the Caucasus, although the special FSB branch in Chechnya will have
to deal with "bandits" and organized crime. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
ONE-THIRD OF CHECHEN POPULATION SAID TO BE REFUGEES.
The total number of
refugees from Chechnya now exceeds 450,000, of whom 360,000 have been
registered elsewhere in Russia, Federal Migration Service deputy director Yury
Roshchin was quoted as saying in Segodnya on 29 April. The influx of
refugees is causing problems in neighboring regions. In parts of Dagestan, for
example, it is feared that overpopulation could trigger a new outbreak of
cholera. The worst situation is said to be in Ingushetia, which has already
accepted tens of thousands of refugees from Prigorodnyi Raion in North Ossetia.
Roshchin said five temporary accommodation centers have been set up in Grozny
to house people who return. He said the state will provide free building
materials and payment to people who rebuild their own homes. Refugees who do
not wish to return to Chechnya (about 100,000) will receive a small, one-time
cash payment and a free railway ticket to the destination of their choice,
Roshchin said. The government has so far allocated 913 billion rubles of the
1.9 trillion requested by the Migration Service for its Chechen program. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF TWO JOURNALISTS.
The Tverskoi district court in
Moscow ordered the release of Dmitry Bykov and Alexander Nikonov,
correspondents for the weekly Sobesednik, Ekho Moskvy reported on 28
April. The two had been held in custody since 20 April for "suspicion of
hooliganism" but were never charged with a crime. The Prosecutor-General's
Office opened the criminal case in connection with a 1 April article published
in Sobesednik discussing the history of Russian obscenities, Interfax
reported. Bykov told Ekho Moskvy that he saw a "special cynicism" in the case,
since his newspaper was investigated for "referring to a few well-known words
and expressions," while the hard-line newspaper Zavtra, which he called
a "fascist rag," and the book Russky Mat (Russian Curses) remain widely
available at local kiosks. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
THREE DETAINED AMERICANS IN FAR EAST FREED.
Three U.S. citizens detained
near the Chinese border on suspicion of espionage have been released, Russian
and Western agencies reported on 2 May. Russian border guards said the three,
who work for foreign companies in Vladivostok, were arrested on 30 April with
videos of "Russian navy vessels, the border post of Khasan, and the electric
signaling system," AFP reported. The U.S. State Department said the Americans
were questioned for several hours by Russian authorities but were not
mistreated. Spokesman Nicholas Burns told an RFE/RL correspondent that the U.S.
consul in Vladivostok is looking into the case and negotiating procedures with
the Russian government to prevent similar incidents. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
LEBED TO RUN FOR SEAT IN DUMA.
In an interview published in the 28 April
edition of Express-Khronika, 14th Army Commander Lt.-Gen. Alexander
Lebed confirmed that he will leave the military and run for a seat in the State
Duma. He said the Defense Ministry "decided this question for me" when it
handed down the "criminal decision" to disband the 14th Army in the breakaway
Transdniester region of Moldova. Lebed vowed to fight the restructuring of the
14th Army and argued that such a move would not even benefit the Moldovan
government, which he said acquires "political capital" from the army's
presence. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
ZHIRINOVSKY ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING IN THE REGIONS.
Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky is currently in Orenburg where he delivered a
speech to a crowd of citizens and public officials, his press service reported.
On 30 April, he completed another trip that took him from Kaliningrad to the
Tajik-Afghan border. On the border, Zhirinovsky, with the assistance of a
soldier, opened fire with a machine gun on "Afghan and Tajik militants trying
to penetrate into Tajikistan." During his current trip, he is planning to meet
in Magnitogorsk with the parents of the soldier who helped him "defend the
border." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
ROLE OF POLITICAL IMAGE-MAKERS GROWING IN RUSSIA.
consultants charged with image-building are playing a larger role in Russian
elections, according to an article in the 27 April-5 May edition of
Obshchaya gazeta. The article singled out the firm "Alter-Ego," which
managed MMM investment fund chief Sergei Mavrodi's successful campaign for a
Duma seat in November 1994 without ever showing the candidate directly to
voters. The same firm is handling the 14 May Duma by-election campaign of
Mavrodi's wife Elena. The author described the guiding principle for crafting a
candidate's image: "people ought to want to drink vodka with him in their
kitchen." In addition, the image-making industry employs "psychological
symbols" to increase a candidate's appeal. Common techniques include showing
the candidate playing tennis against a strong partner, visiting a church or a
children's home, and taking a trip down a mining pit. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
WIDE GAP BETWEEN BASIC PRICES AND WAGES IN MOSCOW.
Prices of basic goods
in Moscow have increased 1,257 times compared to 1991, while average earnings
increased 430 times, the Moscow Trade Union Federation's Analytic Center told
Interfax on 1 May. Analysts also indicated that the subsistence level in Moscow
was 457,000 rubles ($90) in March. Salaries and wages in education, health
protection, science, culture, engineering, metal-working, printing, and
textiles are even lower. The trade union center said the labor market situation
has worsened; the number of persons employed in Moscow dropped by 365,000 in
1994. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA'S NATURAL RESOURCES THREATENED WITH IRREPARABLE DAMAGE.
and Western studies say Russia is the world's most environmentally devastated
country and that the situation is likely to deteriorate further due to a lack
of funds, AFP reported on 1 May. According to the Russian Environment Ministry,
only half the country's arable land is fit for cultivation and half the
population drinks water that poses a health risk. A 25 April report in
Vechernyaya Moskva listed Moscow, Orel, Smolensk, Orenburg, Nizhny
Novgorod, and Tula Oblasts as the regions with the most heavily polluted
drinking water. World Health Organization norms for air pollution are often
exceeded by ten times in major industrial centers, and Russia has the highest
level of contamination from sulfur emissions in Europe. As the spring thaw
approaches, vast areas in the Arctic are threatened by oil spilled during
recent pipeline leaks. An Ecological Information Center was recently set up in
St. Petersburg to monitor the environment in the northwest, Russian Television
reported on 2 May. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
ARMS SALES UP.
Alexander Kotelkin, the general director of the
state-owned Rosvooruzheniye arms export company, told Interfax on 28 April that
contracts from foreign buyers for $1.675 billion worth of military equipment
had been signed in the first four months of this year. He compared that with
sales of $480 million during the same period last year. Kotelkin estimated that
total sales for the year would amount to $2.5 billion or $2.6 billion. Russia
sold $1.7 billion worth of military equipment in 1994. The official said about
60% of Russian arms exports went to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
DECREE ON INVESTORS' INTEREST HARD TO ENFORCE.
There is no clear-cut way
to implement President Boris Yeltsin's decree on the protection of private
investments, a senior member of the Central Bank told the Financial Information
Agency on 27 April. The source said the bank "cannot be held responsible for
various pyramid schemes that raised money at the cost of public ignorance and
loopholes in the country's legislation." He said any fulfillment of the
obligations of bankrupt companies, which swindled the public out of 5 trillion
rubles with promises of an annual interest rate of 800-1000% in the past two
years, is "out of the question." That can be recorded as internal debt, but
there is no money to service it at present. Even selling all the assets of
those companies would not solve the problem, the report continued, because much
of the money was converted into hard currency and put in foreign banks. The
source also doubted that many financial organizations would be able to obtain
licenses within three months to prevent them from being put out of business. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
ROSTELEKOM INTENDS TO SELL SHARES IN WORLD MARKET.
largest telecommunications company, intends to sell some of its stock abroad, a
company official told Interfax on 2 May. Rostelekom securities department chief
Igor Kocheshkov said activities are underway to facilitate share sales on the
international securities market. Rostelekom's assets are valued at $1 billion.
The company's shares are considered by some experts to be among the most
profitable and reliable in Russia. Foreign holdings in Rostelekom amount to
17.3% of its stock. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
GORKY AUTO FACTORY TO SELL BONDS IN RUSSIAN MARKET.
The Gorky Automobile
Plant (GAZ), one of Russia's biggest producers of trucks, has started to sell
its bonds in Russia through a system of authorized investment institutions, the
Financial Information Agency reported on 2 May. Located in Nizhny Novgorod, the
plant had been selling its bonds locally until now. GAZ has arranged for
Tveruniversalbank, Status-Bank, Tserikh Investment Bank, and the Russian
Brokerage House to market two-year bonds with 10% yields totaling 200 billion
rubles. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
IRANIAN, TURKMEN GAS TO TURKEY?
Talks between Turkish and Iranian
officials on a long-standing plan to supply Iranian natural gas to Turkey
opened in Ankara on 2 May, Reuters reported the next day. The plan envisages a
Turkmenistan-Iran gas link which would connect to Turkey and Europe. Turkish
Energy Minister Veysel Atasoy said his country intends to purchase 10 billion
cubic meters of gas from Iran; the first 2 billion in 1998. At the opening of
the three-day talks with his counterpart, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Atasoy noted
that Turkey wants to improve economic relations with Iran; international media
interpreted that to mean Ankara intends to ignore U.S. calls for a trade
embargo against Iran to protest Tehran's alleged support of terrorism and
efforts to build a nuclear weapon. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA UNDECIDED ON BUYING BOMBERS FROM UKRAINE.
Minister Pavel Grachev indicated on 29 April that his ministry has not decided
whether to buy the 44 ex-Soviet strategic bombers held by Ukraine. Interfax
quoted him as saying it is a very serious question and "experts have been asked
to study it again." The two countries have reached a preliminary agreement
under which Russia would write off $190 million of Ukraine's fuel debts in
return for the 19 Tu-160 "Blackjack" and 25 Tu-95 MC "Bear" bombers and 600
cruise missiles. A spokesman for the Russian Air Force told Interfax that the
return of those aircraft would solve Russia's strategic aviation problems for
the next 15-20 years. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT RECEIVED BY POPE.
Leonid Kuchma, on the first day of
an official three-day visit to Italy, was received in the Vatican by Pope John
Paul II, Radio Ukraine reported on 2 May. They discussed relations between
Ukraine and the Vatican as well as issues related to the Eastern Rite Ukrainian
Catholic Church, previously banned by the Soviet regime. The Ukrainian leader
is in Italy to sign a friendship treaty and accords on investments and aviation
and cultural cooperation. Ukraine is seeking Rome's active support for its
effort to join the Council of Europe, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Henadii
Udovenko told Radio Ukraine. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
LATEST FIGURES ON TRADE AND UNEMPLOYMENT IN UKRAINE.
official statistics, Russia remains Ukraine's chief trading partner, accounting
for 38% of its exports and nearly half its imports, Radio Ukraine reported on 2
May. The second and third largest importers of Ukrainian goods are the U.S.
(6%) and China (5%). Ireland accounted for 16% of Ukrainian imports and
Turkmenistan 9%. The first quarter of 1995 saw a 10% rise in official
unemployment over the previous three months. During this period, the Ukrainian
government spent 150 billion karbovantsi on unemployment benefits. Unemployment
is highest in the west Ukrainian region of Ivano-Frankivske and lowest in Kiev
and Sevastopol. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN MILITARY REFORMS.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry has said
more attention will be paid to quality in the armed forces, rather than
quantity, Belarusian Television reported on 28 April. There are currently 9,000
contract servicemen in the country's armed forces, or 18.5% of its soldiers and
sergeants. The ministry hopes that the number of contract personnel will
increase in the future. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIA TO BUY NEW FUEL FROM VENEZUELA.
Prime Minister Adolfas
Slezevicius, speaking on 2 May about his recent trip to Venezuela and Columbia,
said Lithuania will import a new type of fuel--orimulsion--from Venezuela, BNS
reported. A 15-year contract with the company BITOR Europe Ltd. is to be signed
within two weeks, and the first shipment should arrive in two to three months.
The cost of the fuel, including transportation, will be around $50 per ton for
the first two years or about half the cost of the Russian heating oil currently
being used. The main user of orimulsion will be the country's thermal power
plants, which will undergo minor, relatively inexpensive reconstruction to be
able to use the new fuel. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
ELIMINATING CRIME IN LATVIAN ARMY.
Andris Ligotnis, chairman of the
Saeima Defense and Internal Affairs Committee, said on 2 May that special
bodies have to be set up to eliminate crime in the Latvian armed forces, BNS
reported. The committee discussed problems related to recruit hazing with the
chief military prosecutor and representatives of the interior and defense
ministries. Ligotnis noted that violence in the army can be reported to
military prosecutors in Ventspils, Liepaja, Riga, Balvi, and Daugavpils. The
committee on 3 March will consider amendments to the criminal code proposed by
President Guntis Ulmanis on determining responsibility for violence against
soldiers in the army. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH SUPREME COURT HEAD BEGINS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
meeting in Warsaw on 2 May with Solidarity leaders and heads of political
parties, said the parliament should dissolve itself and the government resign
after presidential elections, Polish media reported. He cited as a precedent
Presi- dent Lech Walesa's election in 1990 and the subsequent resignation of
Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who ran against Walesa in the presidential
race. Strzembosz argued that the government's resignation following
presidential elections should be a constitutional provision. But he said that
if he is elected and the current, postcommunist government does not resign, he
will cooperate with it. Born in 1930, Strzembosz became a Solidarity activist
in 1980. He has never been affiliated with any party. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI,
HERZOG SAYS GERMANY SHOULD COMPENSATE CZECH VICTIMS OF NAZISM.
President Roman Herzog, on the final day of a two-day private visit to the
Czech Republic, said on 2 May that Germany should finally compensate Czech
victims of Nazism, Czech media reported. He said that agreement was quickly
reached on the principle of compensation during talks with Czech President
Vaclav Havel but that concrete steps would have to be taken by the German
government and parliament. Havel told Czech Television that it is Germany's
turn to take some initiative to improve Czech-German relations. But he also
hoped that the two countries' parliaments would issue a joint declaration
sometime this year rejecting political, legal, and economic claims that still
dog bilateral relations. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK CABINET WANTS TO STRIP PRESIDENT OF ANOTHER POWER.
cabinet on 2 May approved a draft law transferring to the government the power
to name the chief of the General Staff. The holder of that post is currently
nominated by the defense minister and approved by the president. In other news,
Party of the Democratic Left Chairman Peter Weiss said on 2 May that his party
is prepared to support a no-confidence vote in Education Minister Eva
Slavkovska. But Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky said the
parliament will not discuss the issue at its session beginning on 3 May since
the opposition does not have the support of the 76 deputies needed to pass the
proposal, Sme reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK TRADE UNIONS CONTINUE TO CRITICIZE PRIVATIZATION PLANS.
Englis, president of the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions, has complained
about the current government's plans to reduce the amount of property approved
for coupon privatization, Sme reported on 3 May. The previous
government, which drafted the program, promised to sell off property worth some
80 billion koruny, but the current cabinet is offering property worth a maximum
of 40 billion koruny. Englis noted that under the current government's plan,
which is intended to focus on sales to management and employees, the latter
would receive only a small share of privatized companies, while the majority
would go to management. The board of the KOVO trade union has also criticized
the current government's privatization program. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
POPULARITY OF HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY GROWS.
An opinion survey
conducted in April shows that while the ruling parties have lost substantial
public support since the government announced its austerity package in March,
the opposition Independent Smallholders Party (FKGP) has improved its ratings
to become the third most popular party, Nepszabadsag reported on 29
April. Asked which party they would vote for if elections were held now, 11% of
the respondents named the FKGP. The two ruling parties--the Hungarian Socialist
Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats--received 16% and 12%, respectively.
Another opinion survey, published by Nepszabadsag on 2 May, reveals an
increase in the popularity of FKGP chairman Jozsef Torgyan, who now places 12th
on a popularity list of 23 politicians. Prime Minister Gyula Horn, who for many
months was among the five most popular politicians, slipped to 21st place.
Torgyan, whose party has 26 mandates in the 386-seat parliament, has been the
most outspoken opposition politician in criticizing the government's austerity
measures. The FKGP organized a demonstration in March to protest those
measures, which drew nearly 10,000 people. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
EXPLOSIONS ROCK ZAGREB.
A series of blasts in the Croatian capital on 2
May left at least five dead and well over 100 wounded. Hina said the following
day that the injured were taken to local hospitals and visited by President
Franjo Tudjman. Several explosions occurred in the heart of downtown Zagreb,
but UN sources counted as many as nine in different parts of the city,
according to local peace groups. Croatian military sources blamed the blasts on
Serbian rockets, but peace groups and Vjesnik on 3 May quoted witnesses
as having seen small bombs lying on the ground. U.S. ambassador Peter Galbraith
condemned the attack in an interview with CNN. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
MILITARY SITUATION IN CROATIA REMAINS TENSE.
Talks between Serbian and
Croatian representatives near Zagreb airport were suspended because the safety
of the Serbs could not be guaranteed. Hina on 3 May added that Tudjman met the
previous night with his top security advisers and declared the military action
in western Slavonia over. Croatian forces took Okucani, and peace groups said
the military are negotiating near Pakrac with the last significant group of
armed Serbs in UN Sector West. The news agency noted that the region accounts
for 11% of Croatia's total territory. Refugees are fleeing in droves from
Bosnian Serb areas, despite Tudjman's assurances that only war criminals have
anything to fear from Croatian authorities. The BBC added that UN officials are
bracing for a major influx of displaced people in the Banja Luka area. Serbian
authorities throughout Krajina have put out air raid warnings, Nasa
Borba reported on 3 May. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
VOLUNTEERS COME FROM SERBIA, KARADZIC PLEDGES HELP.
Nasa Borba on
3 May said that some 1,500 "volunteers" from Serbia are present in western
Slavonia and that the rump Yugoslav Red Cross is assisting in the area. Bosnian
Serb leader Radovan Karadzic promised to help Krajina, saying that "we will
fight together because we are one people and we regard Krajina as our land." It
is not clear what Karadzic can do in view of the pressure on his own troops
from government and Croatian forces, but his men shelled Sarajevo on 2 May.
Meanwhile, Serbian forces in Krajina are holding at least 117 UN personnel,
according to the Belgrade daily. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CAUGHT OFF BALANCE.
The major powers appear to
have been taken unawares by the Croatian thrust into Sector West on 1 May,
despite the fact that the Croatian military has been infiltrating units into
the area for almost a month. Attention has been focused on Bosnia, where the
four-month-old cease-fire ran out the same day. The U.S. State Department and
the UN Security Council condemned the Croatian attack, and Interfax reported
that the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 2 May demanding that
hostilities cease at once and that negotiations resume. International media
note a widespread fear in the Balkans and beyond that the current fighting in
Croatia and Bosnia could lead to an expanded regional war. -- Patrick Moore,
RUMP YUGOSLAV PRESIDENTS MEET.
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and
his Montenegrin counterpart, Momir Bulatovic, met with federal President Zoran
Lilic on 2 May to discuss Croatia's military actions against the rebel Krajina
Serbs, Nasa Borba reported the following day. The three leaders roundly
condemned Zagreb, saying its moves were criminal and inexcusable attacks on
civilians. Also present at the meeting were other key Belgrade officials,
including Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic and chief of the army General
Staff, Momcilo Perisic. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
KOSOVAR TRIAL UPDATE.
Seven ethnic Albanian former policemen were
sentenced to between two and six years in prison on 28 April for allegedly
forming a Kosovar shadow-state police force with the aim of seceding from
Serbia. Of the 159 former policemen who have been arrested since November 1994,
16 have so far been sentenced. Lawyers claim that the charges are contrived and
deny there is evidence that the ethnic Albanians planned to secede from Serbia.
Hydajet Hyseni, vice president of the Democratic League of Kosovo, said
Serbia's attempts to prevent any international presence in Kosovo showed its
real intention. He also noted that the overall situation in the region was
becoming untenable, with numerous dangers of further escalation, Kosova
Communication reported on 1 May. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA CHANGES OFFICIAL NAME FOR GYPSIES.
The Romanian government has
changed the official name for members of the Gypsy minority from "Roma" to
"Tigani," Reuters reported on 2 May. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea Geoana
said the change was aimed at preventing confusion between "Romanian" and
"Gypsy." He added that the change put Romania in line with terminology used by
such international organizations as the United Nations. But several recent
reports, including a Council of Europe study in 1994, refer to the Romanian
gypsies as "Roma." "Tigan" (singular) is the direct Romanian translation of
Gypsy and is often used pejoratively. Nicolae Gheorghe, secretary of the
Federation of Romany in Romania, said the decision was an insult. He said the
Romany organizations demand that the government reverse its decision, which was
taken without consulting Gypsy representatives. Deputy Gheorghe Raducanu, who
represents the Gypsies in the parliament, said he will boycott the meetings of
the legislature until the decision is changed. He also said that the Gypsies
will boycott meetings of the Council on National Minorities. -- Michael Shafir,
HUNGARIAN EDUCATION MINISTER IN ROMANIA.
Gabor Fodor and his Romanian
counterpart, Liviu Maior, signed a cooperation agreement on education, Radio
Bucharest reported on 2 May. The accord provides for exchanges of students and
teaching staff as well as periodic consultations. Fodor was received the same
day by Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu. Referring to the negotiations on a
basic bilateral treaty, Vacaroiu said it was necessary to clarify "confused
language" to avoid " later disagreements." He said forms of local autonomy that
contravened the Romanian Constitution would create a "dangerous precedent" and
would be "anachronistic" in an age of "regional and European integration." --
Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE EXAMINES CASE OF DISMISSED ROMANIAN MAYORS.
of Europe delegation on 2 May began examining the case of the 133 mayors
dismissed or suspended from office by the government over the past few months,
Radio Bucharest and international agencies reported. During its two-day visit,
the delegation is meeting officials in charge of local government structures
and mayors dismissed or suspended. Rompres said the media have no access to the
meetings but the delegation will release a report and a recommendation after
its visit. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
DNIESTER LEADER CONDEMNS PLAN TO MAKE ROMANIAN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE.
Grigory Marakutsa, chairman of the self- sproclaimed Dniester republic's
parliament, said Moldovan President Mircea Snegur's initiative to make Romanian
the official language of Moldova "may complicate relations between Tiraspol and
Chisinau," Infotag reported on 28 April. He accused Snegur of being "under the
thumb" of those pursuing unification with Romania and said renaming the
official language may be followed by renaming the people and then unification.
Marakutsa added that only a policy of "independence [from Moldova] may serve as
a guarantee for Transdniestrians that they will not become Romanian citizens
one day." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
LOW TURNOUT IN MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
The results of the second round
of the local elections in Moldova have been declared invalid in numerous
Moldovan municipal and rural districts because of low turnout, Interfax and
international agencies reported on 1 May. Voters went to the polls for a second
time in two weeks on 30 April. These districts will be administered over the
next four years by officials appointed by the president. Of the municipal
districts, Chisinau had the lowest turnout: only 20% of voters cast their
ballot, compared with 35% in the first round. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT DISCUSSES PROGRAM.
The Socialist-led government on
2 May began discussing its four-year program. Standart reported the next
day that the 200-page document concentrates on macroeconomic policies and
legislative initiatives. It forecasts an increase in the standard of living,
foreign investment, and economic growth in 1996-97. Deputy Prime Minister
Doncho Konakchiev said the main targets are economic stabilization, the fight
against crime, and integration into European structures. According to
Demokratsiya, some ministers wanted the program to include figures only
on estimated GDP, inflation, and the exchange rate. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
CAR BOMB KILLS BULGARIAN LOCAL POLITICIAN.
Lyudmil Vodenicharov, a
member of the Parvenec local council, was killed by a car bomb on 2 May,
Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. Vodenicharov was also chairman
of the local liquidation council, which oversees the privatization of
agricultural cooperatives. He was elected to the local council on the ticket of
the Union of Democratic Forces. According to Kontinent, Vodenicharov had
succeeded in repaying 2 million leva ($30,800) of a local cooperative's debts
without selling off any of its property. Residents of Parvenec said
Vodenicharov wanted to buy the cooperative's cold-storage depot, which is one
of the largest in Bulgaria. This plan interfered with the business interests of
wholesale fruit traders and may have been the reason for his killing. Duma
reported that this was the first death by car bomb in Bulgaria. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT IN ALBANIA.
Austrian President Thomas Klestil,
Foreign Minister Alois Mock, and Justice Minister Mickolaus Micklalek visited
Albania on 2 May. It was the first visit to Albania by an Austrian president.
Klestil was received by his Albanian counterpart, Sali Berisha, and Prime
Minister Aleksander Meksi. The leaders discussed Albania's democratization
process and integration into Europe as well as the Yugoslav crisis. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave