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Newsline - May 12, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 92, 12 May 1995
THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE CENTRIFUGE CONCESSION.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin's "concession" to his U.S. counterpart Bill Clinton on sending gas centrifuges to Iran seems to have been no concession at all, Interfax reported on 11 May. Georgy Kaurov, the spokesman for Russia's Nuclear Energy Ministry, said Russia never intended to supply Iran with the centrifuges. He stressed that no provisions for such equipment had been included in the contracts to complete the Bushehr reactors or in bilateral agreements for cooperation in nuclear power engineering. Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov ruled out revising the nuclear power reactor contract with Iran, but added that the contract for nuclear cooperation would be reviewed by the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission. Moreover, no decision has yet been made on whether nuclear waste from the reactor will be returned to Russia or remain under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Association in Iran. Meanwhile, Mikhail Kokeev, a deputy department head in the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Russia did not, does not, and will not support programs that will bring Iran "to another military level." However, Kokeev did admit that several departments in various Russian ministries had discussed the possibility of supplying "dual-use" technologies to Iran. He said their search for funds is "quite understandable." * Michael Mihalka

CLINTON AND YELTSIN AGREEMENT ON FISSILE MATERIALS.
At their Moscow summit, President Yeltsin and President Clinton took steps to strictly limit, if not eliminate, the production of new nuclear weapons. In a joint statement published by the White House, they pledged not to make new warheads out of the nuclear material to be removed from dismantled warheads, not to use newly produced fissile materials in nuclear weapons, and not to use fissile materials produced within civilian nuclear programs in nuclear weapons. Plutonium and highly enriched uranium are fissile materials used in weapons manufacture. The two presidents also agreed to quickly conclude broad agreements on exchanging detailed information about each other's nuclear weapons stockpile. * Doug Clarke

THE SUMMIT BETWEEN LIMITED SUCCESS AND QUALIFIED FAILURE.
The 10 May Clinton-Yeltsin summit was anything from a limited success to a qualified failure, according to international media. Little progress was noted on European security, Chechnya, and the Russian nuclear deal with Iran. On 11 May, Krasnaya Zvezda observed rather blandly that the summit laid out a practical work-plan for the two presidents. The state-owned newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta was decidedly more upbeat, writing that Clinton and Yeltsin had made the best of a bad situation, and "the Russian and U.S. presidents, contrary to predictions, managed to find ways out of a situation that many people had believed to be an impasse." Georgy Arbatov, honorary director of the Institute of U.S.A. and Canada, noted, however, that no serious progress had been made on the major issues separating Russia and the West, Interfax reported on 11 May. Instead, he said "the public part of the summit shows that both presidents have started their election campaigns," a reference to the fact that presidential elections are scheduled in both countries for next year. * Michael Mihalka

CLINTON MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADERS.
President Clinton held formal talks with figures from across the Russian political spectrum at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 May. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov warned that Russia faced "Bal-kanization" or "criminalization" if fair and democratic elections were not held, Interfax reported. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky criticized Yeltsin's economic policy and Russia's "inadequate" democracy. Russia's Choice leader Yegor Gaidar said a growing "tendency of confrontation" in Russia threatened to bring back the Cold War. Other politicians invited to meet with Clinton included Agrarian Party chairman Mikhail Lapshin, Democratic Party of Russia co-chairman Sergei Glazev, "Forward, Russia!" leader Boris Fedorov, and Women of Russia leader Yekaterina Lakhova. Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky was the most prominent opponent of Yeltsin to be excluded from the meeting. * Laura Belin

DUMA OVERRULES FEDERATION COUNCIL ON ELECTORAL LAW.
Overruling the objections of the Federation Council, the State Duma passed the law on parliamentary elections by a vote of 302 to 72 with six abstentions, barely reaching the required two-thirds majority, Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 May. The Council and President Yeltsin had advocated electing 300 Duma deputies from single-member constituencies and 150 from party lists, but the Duma upheld its version maintaining the current ratio of 225 deputies chosen by each method. Presidential aide Georgy Satarov told NTV that although Yeltsin disagrees with the final version of the electoral law, he will not veto it, because delaying parliamentary elections would provoke "confrontation" and "instability" that would harm "the reforms, Russians and the whole country's future." * Laura Belin

VEDENKIN TRIAL POSTPONED UNTIL AFTER BY-ELECTION.
The trial of Alexei Vedenkin, who is charged with threatening to commit murder, has been postponed for at least one week due to a backlog of cases facing the court, Radio Rossii reported on 11 May. The delay means that Vedenkin will be allowed to compete in the 14 May by-election for a vacant Duma seat in Kolomna. Even if Vedenkin wins the seat, he may not be protected from prosecution; some have suggested that parliamentary immunity does not apply to crimes committed before being elected. On 22 February during a Russian TV broadcast, Vedenkin threatened to shoot Sergei Kovalev and Sergei Yushenkov, vocal critics of the military campaign in Chechnya. For his part, Vedenkin asked the Kolomna election committee not to permit any "provocation" against his campaign, Ekho Moskvy reported on 11 May. Vedenkin accused the authorities of plotting to plant firearms, narcotics, and forged documents on him in order to arrest him on the day of the by-election. * Laura Belin

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TURNS DOWN CASE ON CHECHNYA DECREES.
The Constitutional Court will not examine the constitutionality of Yeltsin's secret decrees on restoring order in Chechnya for some time due to flaws in the Federation Council's request, according to the 7-14 May edition of Moskovskie novosti. The Council submitted its request to the court as a secret document and failed to include the full text of the decree to be considered. The court refused to hold hearings on secret requests and asked the Council to re-submit its appeal at a later date. Issa Kostoev, chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Legislation, who was in charge of drawing up the request, said his committee attached the presidential edict to the relevant documents and never suggested making the Council's appeal to the court secret. Moskovskie novosti suggested that the appeal was altered and marked classified by the staff of Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko in order to delay the case. Shumeiko is also a member of Yeltsin's Security Council and has defended the legality of the military campaign in Chechnya. * Laura Belin

DETERIORATION IN SOCIAL SITUATION.
Although Russia's economy has improved in recent months, the social sphere has not recovered from the price hikes caused by "Black Tuesday" last October, according to Izvestiya on 11 May. The paper says the situation has not been this bad since 1992 but then people believed the hardships were only temporary. According to Goskomstat, in March 1995, the average salary was 33% lower in real terms than a year earlier; and in the first quarter of 1995, 30.4% of the population had incomes below the subsistence minimum as opposed to 25.3% in the same period in 1994. Not surprisingly, confidence in the ruble has also declined: the report notes that while the public spent 12.4% of its earnings on foreign currency in March 1994, the figure a year later was 15.2%. Employees in the health care, education, and scientific research sectors are the worst off. While acknowledging that this is not new, the paper says their situation has deteriorated significantly in recent months and that the average salaries in those sectors has dropped below the subsistence minimum. * Penny Morvant

CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS TREA-TY STILL A PROBLEM.
While President Clinton expressed sympathy for Russia's complaints regarding the so-called "flanks" limits of the CFE treaty, he also stressed that the U.S. expects Russia to comply with the treaty until it can be revised, possibly at a conference in May 1996. A "high-ranking Russian diplomat" told Interfax on 11 May that Russia would not be able to implement the flank limits when they became effective in November of this year. He argued that the situation in the Northern Caucasus--and particularly Chechnya--required Russia to station larger amounts of conventional weapons in the region than the treaty allowed. "The Chechen problem will hardly be settled by the time the CFE treaty comes into effect," he said. Meanwhile, the military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda questioned why Yeltsin had not linked NATO concessions on CFE to the discussions over the eastward expansion of the alliance. * Doug Clarke

SIX BANKS TO PARTICIPATE IN FINANCIAL INSTITUTION DEVELOPMENT.
Six leading commercial banks in Russia, Tokobank, Mos-biznesbank, Promstroibank (St. Petersburg), the St. Petersburg Bank, the Stolichny Savings Bank, and Uralpromstroibank, will participate in a program to develop the country's financial institutions under the auspices of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Interfax reported on 10 May. The banks were selected on the basis of economic criteria, which included substantial capital holdings, profitable returns, normal liquidity, active credit policies, and private sector servicing. A Russian Finance Ministry spokesman told Interfax that the banks, which will be agents of the World Bank and EBRD, will eventually be eligible for credit lines of up to $300 million. The credit lines will be granted by international financial institutions to support medium-term and long-term programs being carried out by private enterprises in Russia. * Thomas Sigel

YELTSIN PLACES NATIONALLY OWNED SHARES ON STOCK MARKET.
President Yeltsin signed a decree on 11 May authorizing the sale of state shares in Russian companies on financial markets, AFP reported. Presidential economic adviser Alexander Livshits said the decree launches the "capitalist" stage of the privatization of semi-public companies and stipulates measures to ensure that the required revenue from privatization is realized. The decree, however, does not address companies of "strategic importance to national security". The government has one month to establish a list of such strategically important companies. The initial sale price of shares, which will be sold in stages, must not be less than a figure due to be set by a government commission. The decree also requires that a state committee for state assets establish arrangements for the sale of some of the shares on international stock markets. Under the new law, the worth of the land on which a company is located has been reduced to 5% of previously calculated values to encourage investment in the stock. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 92, 12 May 1995
UZBEK MINISTERS, OPPOSITION TO TALK?
Moscow is to be the venue for talks between Uzbek ministers and opposition leaders later this month, Segodnya reported on 11 May. The initiative for the talks came from the Uzbek government, which will be represented by a delegation consisting of Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and Justice Minister Alisher Mardiyev. It is unclear if Abdurrahim Pulatov, chairman of the opposition movement Birlik, and Erk leader Mohammed Saleh have agreed to participate in the talks, since both men are currently living in exile and their participation could result in their being forcibly returned to Uzbekistan as state criminals. Earlier talks held in Washington in late January failed to achieve any breakthroughs. * Lowell Bezanis

TAJIKS TO TALK IN KABUL.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri will hold talks on 15 May in Kabul, Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 May. The bilateral talks will focus on setting the agenda for the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks, which will be held in Almaty later in the month, and on the continuing violation of a recently extended ceasefire on the Tajik-Afghan border. Meanwhile, a former border guards commander in the Caucasus, Lt.-Gen. Pavel Tarasenko, has been appointed to head the Russian-led contingent of border guards in Tajikistan, Reuters reported on 11 May. * Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 92, 12 May 1995

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

EASTERN EUROPE WELCOMES RUSSIA'S SIGNING OF PFP.
East European foreign ministers, attending a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, welcomed Russia's decision to sign an individual work program under NATO's Partnership for Peace, Western agencies reported on 11 May. Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, and Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk each applauded the Russian move but stressed that Russia has no right to veto their entry into NATO. Meanwhile, the 34-member council agreed on 11 May to continue suspending Russia's application to join that body. Council Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys noted that "there is still a general agreement that is it desirable to have Russia as a member as soon as possible." * Michael Mihalka

CLINTON IN UKRAINE.
U.S. President Bill Clinton began a two-day state visit to Ukraine on 11 May, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported the same day. After his meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Clinton praised Ukraine's drive to speed up the process of nuclear disarmament, implement long-delayed radical economic reforms, and improve relations with Russia. He also pledged further aid for Ukrainian disarmament and offered $10 million under the so-called "Warsaw Initiative," which, pending its approval by the U.S. Congress, is to help countries participating in the Partnership for Peace. President Kuchma stressed Kiev's support for the gradual expansion of NATO but expressed concern that a hasty expansion could turn Ukraine into a buffer zone between Europe and Russia. The two leaders also discussed increased U.S. technical aid and private investment. Clinton was also scheduled to deliver a speech at Kiev State University and lay a wreath at the Babyn Yar memorial to the 180,000 mostly Jewish victims killed there by the Nazis during World War II. * Chrystyna Lapychak

WORLD BANK RELEASES SECOND TRANCHE OF LOAN TO UKRAINE.
The World Bank has released the second tranche, worth $250 million, of a $500-million rehabilitation loan to Ukraine, UNIAR reported on 11 May. The credit was approved last December to finance critical imports and support the country's balance of payments. World Bank official Oleksander Kaliberda said the bank was ready to expand its aid program to Ukraine. He noted that among the 19 projects currently under review for financing are a proposal for institutional development worth $44 million, for which the bank could appropriate $27 million, and a project to rehabilitate hydroelectric power plants in Ukraine, with the bank possibly providing a $115 million loan. He said that if Kiev continues to pursue economic reforms, there will be no reason for it not to qualify for $1 billion annually in World Bank assistance. * Chrystyna Lapychak

ISRAELI-ESTONIAN COOPERATION.
Israeli Brig. Gen. David Shoval, accompanied by Israel's military attaché to Latvia, held talks in Tallinn on 11 May with Estonian Interior Minister Edgar Savisaar, BNS reported. They discussed cooperation opportunities between the two countries in the areas of combating crime and border defense. * Saulius Girnius

DEATH SENTENCE UPHELD IN LITHUANIA.
The Lithuanian Pre-sident's Pardon Commission on 10 May turned down the clemency plea of Boris Dekanidze, leader of the criminal group known as the Vilnius Brigade, Interfax reported the next day. Dekanidze was sentenced to death in November 1994 for organizing the murder of Vitas Lingys, deputy editor of the Respublika newspaper, on 12 October 1993. President Algirdas Brazauskas signed the official rejection of the clemency plea on 11 May. It is likely that Dekanidze will be executed by firing squad within several weeks. Lithuania has executed five convicted murderers since regaining independence in 1991. * Saulius Girnius

LATVIA JOINS CONVENTION ON PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES.
Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs on 11 May in Strasbourg signed the General Convention on Protection of National Minorities, BNS reported. The convention, drafted after the 1993 summit meeting of the Council of Europe, determines the basic principles to be observed by the signatory countries to ensure the protection of national minorities. Birkavs also attended an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the Baltic and Nordic states. He discussed with the Danish and Swiss foreign ministers the possibility of introducing a visa-free regime. * Saulius Girnius

POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL QUARRELS CONTINUE.
Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy has written to Lech Walesa saying the president's nomination of Marek Jurek as head of the National Radio and TV Council is unconstitutional, the Polish press reported. According to the Polish constitution, the president's action must be endorsed by the premier or the relevant minister. This had not happened in the case of Jurek's nomination. Oleksy wrote to the president that "the highest level of government cannot be treated like a playground with the rules of one's own choosing." Walesa recently accused Oleksy of disrespect for the president's foreign policy prerogatives (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 May 1995). * Jakub Karpinski

"FREE CAUCASUS" RADIO TO BROADCAST FROM POLAND.
Independent Russian Television (NTV) on 11 May reported on the preparations to open the Free Caucasus radio station, which will broadcast in several languages and be managed by the Chechen Information Center in Cracow. The exact location of the station is being kept secret, and its equipment has been supplied by Solidarity, which still has radio equipment from its underground period. NTW noted that the Russian authorities have already protested the Chechen Information Center's activities in Cracow but that the city authorities have called the protest an intervention in "internal city affairs." * Jakub Karpinski

MINISTER SAYS CZECH TRADE DEFICIT COULD REACH 80 BILLION KORUNY.
Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy on 11 May said that the Czech Republic's foreign trade deficit may increase more than sixfold this year to 60-80 billion koruny ($2.35-3.15 billion), Czech Television and Mlada fronta dnes reported. Dlouhy told a conference of business leaders that Czech goods have become less competitive internationally. The 1994 deficit was 12.5 billion koruny, but the shortfall for the first quarter of 1995 was 18.3 billion koruny. Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik told the parliament's budget committee that the government expects a 3.4% rise in GDP this year. He said industrial production rose 5.8% in the first three months of 1995, while construction was up 11.7% * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT.
Michal Kovac, addressing the parliament on 11 May, said the recent no-confidence vote in him was unlawful since "state organs can act only on the basis of the constitution," Sme reported. According to the basic law, the parliament can remove the president only for activities endangering "the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Slovakia" or the country's "democratic constitutional system." Moreover, the vote was supported by only 80 deputies, whereas the constitution states that a three-fifths majority or 90 votes in the 150-member parliament are required. Kovac also stressed that his conflict with Premier Vladimir Meciar is based not on "personal relations" but on differences of opinion over how politics "should be applied in a parliamentary democracy and a free, open society." The majority of the deputies representing the government coalition walked out of the parliament prior to the speech. Representatives of the opposition have confirmed their support for the president, as has the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES CONFLICT OF INTERESTS LAW.
The Slovak parliament on 11 May approved a law on conflict of interests, proposed by the governing Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and the opposition Party of the Democratic Left, Pravda reported. The law applies to constitutional officials and top representatives of the state administration. Of the 130 deputies who voted, 92 were in favor, three against, and 33 abstained. The law will take effect on 1 November. Also on 11 May, the parliament appointed Jozef Mudrik to the post of National Bank of Slovakia vice governor, TASR reported. Mudrik formerly headed Slovakia's largest bank, Vseobecna uverova banka. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PREMIER ON CZECH-SLOVAK CLEARING AGREEMENT.
Vladimir Meciar on 11 May told journalists that the Czech cabinet's "unilateral" decision to cancel the clearing system governing Slovak-Czech trade is "an ultimatum, which is unusual in international relations." The system has been in place since the split of Czechoslovakia in January 1993. He also stressed that Slovakia is ready to negotiate changes in payment conditions in accordance with international norms and the Czech aims of OECD membership and securing full convertibility for the Czech koruna. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY TO RATIFY TREATY WITH SLOVAKIA SOON.
A Hungarian government official on 11 May said that the parliament will soon ratify the basic treaty with Slovakia, Hungarian and international media reported. The treaty was signed in April by the countries' prime ministers. According to the official, the vote is likely to take place on 22 or 23 May. Also on 11 May, the Hungarian government made public a letter from Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn to Slovak President Michal Kovac saying "the Hungarian side aims to execute the treaty as soon as possible." Although some political groups in the Hungarian parliament are opposed to the treaty, unofficial reports indicate it is likely to be ratified. There is also opposition to the treaty in the Slovak parliament, and disputes over it have caused strains within Slovakia's ruling coalition. Both governments have been informed that ratification of the treaty is crucial for their joining the European Union and NATO. * Jiri Pehe



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 92, 12 May 1995
SARAJEVO'S "SNIPER ALLEY" CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM.
A French UN peacekeeper was critically wounded on 11 May after being shot in the head along Sarajevo's main strip, known as "Sniper's Alley," Nasa Borba reported the following day. The total of French peacekeepers critically wounded or killed in Bosnia-Herzegovina now stands at 37. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on 11 May said the new French government will debate the possibility of withdrawing its troops from the former Yugoslavia if safety conditions do not improve, international media reported. Emerging from meetings with UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali the same day, Juppe also indicated that empowering UN peacekeepers to employ greater force against violence may be an alternative to a pullout. France has some 4,500 troops in Bosnia--the largest contingent in the region. Meanwhile, representatives of the Contact Group are slated to meet on 12 May to probe ways of improving prospects for peace in war-torn Bosnia, Vecernji list reported. * Stan Markotich

FIERCE BATTLES IN NORTHEASTERN BOSNIA.
Serbian forces continue to pound the Croatian enclave of Orasje, in northeastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, international media reported on 12 May. According to Reuters, recent Serbian attacks on the enclave appear to be the fiercest in several years, with an estimated 500 shells landing in the hamlet of Matici on 11 May. The Serbian offensive appears to be aimed at forcing the Orasje Croats back across the border into Croatia in order to remove the pocket as an obstacle to a Serbian supply corridor. * Stan Markotich

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT REBUKES CROATIA.
The Serbian legislature on 11 May adopted a resolution condemning Croatia's 1 May offensive against a rebel Serb-held enclave in Western Slavonia, Nasa Borba reported the following day. The offensive resulted in the retaking of territory. Tanjug reports that according to the text of the resolution, the Serbian parliament especially condemns "crimes against the civilian population" and Croatia's "lack of respect for the ceasefire." Ultranantionalists, notably accused war criminal and Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj and leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia Vojislav Kostunica, have registered their opposition to the resolution. They claim it is too mild and a de facto testament to Serbian President Slobodan Milo-sevic's unwillingness to defend either Croatia's rebel Serbs or the ideal of a greater Serbia. Meanwhile, Reuters on 11 May reported that UN authorities have somewhat "backed away from earlier allegations that the [Croatian] army shot fleeing Serbs" as it advanced in Western Slavonia. * Stan Markotich

ROMANIA SIGNS CONVENTION ON PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES.
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on 11 May presented in Strasbourg the instruments of ratification for the Council of Europe's Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities. The Romanian parliament ratified the convention in April. According to Radio Bucharest, Romania was the first country to officially complete the ratification procedure. Melescanu was quoted by Radio Bucharest as saying that the event was a clear indication that Romania was attaching particular importance to basic human rights and freedoms, including those of ethnic minorities. Romania has repeatedly stressed that it prefers the framework convention to other Council of Europe documents, which appear to favor territorial autonomy based on ethnic criteria. It recently expressed serious reservations about a decision by the council's Parliamentary Assembly making Recommendation 1201 mandatory for all members. * Dan Ionescu

TRANSDNIESTER WOMEN DEMONSTRATE IN MOSCOW.
Thirty women from Moldova's breakaway Dniester region arrived in Moscow on 10 May to picket the Russian Defense Ministry in protest over plans to reorganize the 14th Army, headquartered in Tiraspol, BASA-press reported. The group is headed by Svetlana Migulya, a 14th Army female soldier, and is composed of members of the Women's Union for the Defense of Transdniester. The protesters intend to hand over to State Duma deputies letters from Transdniester citizens criticizing the plans to downgrade the 14th Army, which were recently announced by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. * Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT RECOGNIZES PARTISANS AS WW II COMBATANTS.
The Socialist majority on 11 May adopted a law giving former partisans the status of combatants against Nazi Germany in World War II, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Opposition deputies voted against the bill. The Union of Democratic Forces argued that the communist-dominated partisan movement was controlled by Moscow and did not emerge until Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. They also pointed out that most sabotage acts were directed against Bulgarian installations and not against German military facilities. Socialist Deputy Angel Wagen-shtayn, a well-known film director, said that "whoever thinks the anti-fascist resistance was illegitimate is a fascist." The UDF faction issued a declaration saying that the law in effect restores the privileges of former communist party members and proves that the Socialists have not broken with their communist past. * Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN CABINET EXPECTS ECONOMIC GROWTH, SWIFT PRIVATIZATION.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 10 May said that the government's major economic goals in 1995 are strict financial discipline and 2.5% economic growth, BTA reported the same day. The cabinet projects an increase in GDP averaging 4.5% a year during its term in office. Gechev said that privatization, to be carried out in two stages, will start in January 1996 and end in late 1997. Some 150 enterprises will be selected for privatization. The Kozloduy nuclear reactor, the military-industrial complex, the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, the Bulgarian Post, and one or two major banks are among those enterprises that will not be privatized, Gechev said. The private sector's share in GDP, which accounted for 30% in 1994, is projected to reach 55-60% by the end of 1996 and 70-75% in late 1997. * Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER TOPS OPINION POLLS IN SOFIA.
In an opinion poll published by Trud on 12 May, Zhan Videnov headed the list of Bulgarian top politicians. Some 36% of respondents said they have a favorable impression of him, while 23% said their impression is unfavorable. Ivan Kostov, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, came second, with 26% and 11%, respectively. President Zhelyu Zhelev ranked third (23% and 28%). Videnov's strong showing and the high percentage of negative votes for Zhelev are attributed to the ongoing fight between the president and government, particularly over Bul-garia's possible application for NATO membership and the land restitution law. The opinion poll was conducted in Sofia, which is one of the UDF's strongholds. * Stefan Krause

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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