CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS.
Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin was unanimously chosen to lead the center-right electoral bloc,
Our Home Is Russia, at the movement's founding congress, Russian agencies
reported on 12 May. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and Samar Oblast
Governor Konstantin Titov will be Chernomyrdin's deputies, and Deputy Prime
Minister Sergei Shakhrai and Tatarstan Prime Minister Farid Mukhamedshin will
be among the bloc's 125 board members, Ekho Moskvy reported. Chernomyrdin
stressed that "stability" would be the movement's "key word," Russian TV
reported. Responding to charges that his new electoral ambitions do not befit a
prime minister, Chernomyrdin challenged his critics to "name one democratic
country where the executive branch is apolitical and non-party, and its
representatives show no interest in parliamentary elections," Russian Public
Television reported. Shakhrai promised that budgetary funds would not be used
to finance Our Home Is Russia, which will rely on contributions from "large
enterprises and firms," according to Russian Television. Business leaders,
including the director of the Avtovaz corporation and the president of the
Association of Russian Banks, also attended the congress, NTV reported. * Laura
MORE REACTION TO CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC.
Many politicians have continued to
denounce Chernomyrdin's bloc as the "party of power." Duma Press and
Information Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin predicted that the bloc would
not have a "happy fate," saying it is doomed to become the president's
"whipping boy," Russian Public Television reported on 13 May. Commenting on
Chernomyrdin's nomenklatura connections dating back to his days running the
Soviet gas industry, "Forward, Russia!" leader Boris Fedorov suggested that a
more fitting name for the new bloc would be "Our Home Is Gazprom." However, St.
Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, a consistent supporter of Yeltsin, called on
"all reformist, democratic, healthy forces in society" to support
Chernomyrdin's bloc, Radio Rossii reported. Sobchak said Russia needs strong
parties that can draw up intelligent programs and take responsibility for
implementing them. * Laura Belin
KOLOMNA HOLDS DUMA BY-ELECTION.
The cosmonaut German Titov, representing
the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, was the front-runner in voting
to fill the Duma seat in Kolomna left empty after the assassination of Liberal
Democratic Party deputy Sergei Skorochkin, Ekho Moskvy reported on 15 May.
Approximately 36% of the eligible voters participated, well above the 25%
barrier for the elections to be valid. A survey of polling stations along
Kolomna's main street found that precincts with heavy concentrations of
military families were the most active. According to statistics gathered by the
city's administration, the rural areas were more active than Kolomna itself.
Alexei Vedenkin was in the city for the elections and lodged a protest with the
police against Yelena Mavrodi for distributing anonymous flyers that criticized
him. Vedenkin's flyers were available at the central train station. They
praised Josef Stalin, denounced international Zionism and the U.S. as Russia's
greatest external enemies, and stressed the need for Orthodox Christians and
Muslims to unite against Jews to protect Russia's interests. According to local
officials, the State Duma was carefully monitoring the elections because they
could foreshadow how medium-sized Russian cities with ethnically mixed
populations will vote in December's nationwide parliamentary elections. *
LEBED SAYS HE WILL NOT RESIGN.
Contradicting previous statements
indicating his departure from the armed forces was imminent, 14th Army
Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed announced that he has no plans to resign,
Russian agencies reported on 12 May. According to NTV, Lebed opened his press
conference by saying, "It's difficult to swim in hydrochloric acid with your
legs cut off. It's no less difficult to serve in the army." However, Lebed said
he felt responsible for keeping the peace in the breakaway Transdniester region
of Moldova and would not leave before a political resolution of the conflict
was achieved, Russian Public Television reported. In the past, Lebed has said
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's order to restructure the 14th Army left him
"no choice" but to resign, and Lebed's participation in the April conference of
the Congress of Russian Communities led to widespread speculation that he would
soon devote his full attention to politics. * Laura Belin
URALS LEADER ROSSEL BESTS MOSCOW.
President Yeltsin signed a decree on
11 May allowing, "by way of exception," the residents of Sverdlovsk Oblast to
elect their governor, Segodnya reported the following day. The campaign
to hold elections was spearheaded by Eduard Rossel, chairman of the Oblast
Duma, and a favorite to win the governorship. The oblast is the first to win
the right to hold gubernatorial elections since a presidential decree last fall
banned them without Moscow's explicit approval. According to
Kommersant-daily of 13 May, Rossel's backers included Constitutional
Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov, Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko,
and Yeltsin's aide for legal issues, Mikhail Krasnov. Rossel said that if
elected, he would strive to coordinate the economic policies of Urals republics
and regions but would not resume efforts to establish a Urals republic. Rossel
was removed from the post of Sverdlovsk Oblast governor in November 1993 for
attempting to set up such a republic. * Penny Morvant
CHARGES DROPPED IN MOST GROUP CASE.
The Main Military Prosecutor's
Office has dropped its case against members of the Presidential Security
Service who were charged with exceeding their powers in a raid on the
headquarters of the Most financial group on 2 December 1994, Moskovsky
komsomolets reported on 13 May. The charges were brought by the Krasnaya
Presnya prosecutor immediately after the raid, in which masked members of the
presidential guard clashed with Mostsecurity guards and Federal
Counterintelligence Service officers. The Most Group, which is headed by
Vladimir Gusinsky, has interests in various companies, including NTV. * Penny
FOREIGN MINISTRY VIEWS ON CLINTON'S CFE STANCE.
A senior Russian Foreign
Ministry official asserted on 12 May that U.S. President Bill Clinton shares
NATO's "tough view" against the CFE treaty's revision and will not meet
Russia's request to revise its flank restrictions, Interfax reported the same
day. Nevertheless, the official said Clinton agreed that the treaty had been
overtaken by events and should be addressed at the Vienna review conference in
May 1996. Although Russia is dissatisfied with the CFE flank restrictions, the
official stressed that "Russia can hardly be expected to withdraw from the CFE
treaty." He said such views expressed by the Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev reflect only those of his ministry and not those of the government as a
whole. Instead, the official said the treaty "meets Russian interests because
it imposes similar restrictions on NATO." He expressed the hope that further
consultations between Russia and the U.S. on the matter would take place after
Clinton returns from his European trip. * Michael Mihalka
IRAN DEAL NOW ONLY WORTH $500 MILLION.
Stripped of its military
elements, the Russia nuclear cooperation deal with Iran is now worth half its
original $1 billion price tag, Segodnya and Nezavisimaya gazeta
reported on 12 May. Segodnya cited Yury Vorontsev, the Russian
ambassador to Washington, as the source of the assessment. According to
Nezavisimaya gazeta, the Russian leadership's statements that the Iran
nuclear deal has no military component are a reflection of their basic
ignorance in the matter. The paper advocates an investigation into why the
public learned about the military aspect of the deal from American and not
domestic sources. * Michael Mihalka
FOREIGN CURRENCY CASH INFLOW DECREASING.
The volume of cash foreign
currency brought into Russia by banks and individuals is steadily decreasing, a
Central Bank of Russia official was quoted as saying in Finansovye
Izvestiya on 11 May. In February, foreign cash worth about $860 million was
brought into Russia, compared to the January figure of $2.6 billion. During the
past year, more than $21.7 billion in cash was brought into the country. The
bank official attributed the downward trend in the currency influx to the
strengthening ruble. * Thomas Sigel
DUMA ADOPTS DEBT RESTRUCTURING LAW.
The Duma adopted a law requiring
that both houses of parliament ratify all international agreements concerning
foreign debt restructuring on state credits, Interfax reported on 11 May.
Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, said
foreign countries and former Soviet republics owe Russia about $80 billion. *
ONE BILLION DOLLAR LOAN BACKED BY OIL.
The Russian government approved a
plan to take out a $1 billion loan which will be backed by export guarantees of
25 million tons of crude oil after five years, Russian and Western agencies
reported on 12 May. Balkar Trading, a Russian-British trading company, will
arrange the loan in return for government guarantees of access to export
pipelines. It will purchase the oil on the Russian market and sell it on the
world markets through Mobil Corporation. Mobil is expected to raise funds for
the loan by selling debt securities on world markets. * Thomas Sigel
RUBLE RISES AGAINST DOLLAR.
The Russian ruble rose by 18 points to 5,088
to $1 on 12 May MICEX trading, the Financial Information Agency reported.
Initial supply exceeded initial demand by $63.47 million totaling $214.98
million. Brokers attributed the dollar's slide to the decline of quotations on
the off exchange market, making it more profitable for banks to sell currency
at MICEX. * Thomas Sigel
GOVERNMENT TO FINANCE DEFICIT FROM `NON-INFLATION" SOURCES.
government will finance the 1995 budget deficit (73.1 trillion rubles) from
"non-inflation" sources, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov told the Financial
Information Agency on 12 May. Panskov said government securities will remain
the primary source of financing the budget deficit; however, the Finance
Ministry still has to artificially restrict the placement of short-term
government bonds in the financial market because it is not profitable to
attract money from commercial structures for three to six months. Panskov said
that when inflation falls to 2-3% in the third and fourth quarter, long-term
bonds will be issued on a mass scale. * Thomas Sigel
PROTECTION FOR CIS CITIZENS AND POWS IN DOMESTIC CONFLICTS.
Inter-Parliamentary Assembly recommended on 13 May that member countries adopt
legislation protecting the rights of citizens and prisoners of war in armed
conflicts, Interfax reported the next day. Azerbaijan made the proposal that
would apply "if a country becomes a party to an inter-state conflict (war) or
if a domestic conflict emerges on the country's territory between two or more
parties, even if one of these parties does not recognize the existence of such
a conflict." The proposal includes prohibitions against the deportation,
hostage-taking, and violence against the lives and well-being of citizens. The
rights of prisoners of war will be protected in accordance with international
law. Countries involved in conflicts will be required to appoint a
"state-protector" to insure the impartial application of the proposal. If such
an official is not appointed within two weeks, the Red Cross International
Committee will assume the function. Russian Federation Council Vladimir
Shumeiko, who also chairs the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly Council, said
the proposal would apply to all current conflicts in the CIS, including the one
in Chechnya. * Michael Mihalka
BELARUSIANS VOTE IN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM.
Central Election Commission on 14 May reported that 41.1% of eligible voters
cast ballots in the republic's first parliament elections since independence,
Interfax and Reuters reported the same day. Voters were also asked to take part
in a referendum on four issues: economic integration with Russia, Russian as a
second state language, the return of the Soviet-era state emblem and flag, and
presidential authority to dissolve the parliament. A turnout of 50% plus one
vote is required for the poll to be valid, and results are expected over the
next several days. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, after casting his vote in
Minsk, said he was confident the population would back his initiative to have
two state languages, Russian and Belarusian, and move toward new "Slavic unity"
with Russia and even neighboring Ukraine. He said that while presidential power
to dissolve the legislature would be non-binding, public support would allow
him to make political decisions of that nature. * Chrystyna Lapychak
CLINTON ENDS VISIT TO UKRAINE.
U.S. President Bill Clinton ended his
two-day state visit to Ukraine on 12 May with a rousing speech to some 15,000
Ukrainians in front of Shevchenko State University in Kiev, international
agencies reported on 13 May. Clinton pledged American solidarity with
Ukrainians during the painful transition to democracy and a free market. He
confirmed his promise to extend $250 million to Ukraine to finance critical
imports in 1995 and pledged an additional $27 million, under the Nunn-Lugar
amendment, for Ukrainian nuclear disarmament and defense conversion. Clinton
also said he would provide more than $1 million to support Ukraine's
participation in military exercises within the Partnership for Peace program in
1995. Agreement was reached that a Ukrainian cosmonaut will take part in a
space mission aboard the U.S. space shuttle in October 1997. In addition, the
U.S. agreed to help upgrade fire and safety conditions at the Chornobyl nuclear
power plant until its planned closure by 2000. * Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT AGAIN THREATENS PLEBISCITE OVER BILL ON SEPARATION OF
Leonid Kuchma on 13 May again threatened to call a non-binding
nationwide referendum on confidence in the parliament and president if the
country's legislature rejects his proposed constitutional bill on separation of
powers, Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The draft law, which is to be
voted on later this week, would enable him to implement much-needed economic
reforms. Kuchma added that the formation of a new government, following the
parliament's no confidence vote in the cabinet last month, depends on the
resolution of the power bill issue. He said he feared a long debate over his
proposed candidates would hinder the implementation of economic reforms. *
LATVIAN BANK DIRECTOR SHOT DEAD.
Moisejs Gurevics, a co-founder and
board member of Latvia's largest commercial bank, Baltija Bank, was shot five
times in his car on 11 May, Reuters reported the next day. Gurevics was also
the president of Interpegro, a company operating a chain of food stores in
Riga. Baltija Bank president Talis Freimanis said that "unknown structures" had
been trying for two years to disrupt the stability of the bank and that the
murder was but another attempt to achieve this goal, BNS reported on 13 May. *
Polish and Lithuanian Defense Ministers
Zbigniew Okonski and Linas Linkevicius signed in Warsaw on 12 May protocols on
military cooperation under NATO's Partnership for Peace program and on the
creation of a joint airspace control system, BNS reported. The first protocol
provides for exchanging experiences in training UN peacekeepers and
establishing a peacekeeping training center in the Lithuanian town of Rukla.
The second protocol calls for consultations on technical matters and how to
bring the future system in line with NATO standards. * Saulius Girnius
POLISH POSTCOMMUNISTS CHOOSE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
Social-Democratic Party (SDRP) on 13 May chose Aleksander Kwasniewski,
president of the SDRP Supreme Council, as its candidate in the upcoming
presidential elections. Kwasniewski, who is currently leading opinion polls
with nearly 20% of the vote, was also chosen as the candidate of the Democratic
Left Alliance (SLD). His nomination ends speculation about a possible
left-of-center joint candidate in the first round of the elections. Support for
such a candidate was recently voiced by SLD leader and Sejm deputy speaker
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. He argued in Gazeta Wyborcza on 12 April that
Jacek Kuron, nominated by the Freedom Union, and Tadeusz Zielinski, candidate
for the Labor Union, would win the support of a broad electorate as
left-of-center candidates. * Jakub Karpinski
CZECH PREMIER REFUSES AUSTRIAN MONEY TO STOP NUCLEAR PLANT.
on 12 May turned down an Austrian offer of 500 million schillings ($50 million)
for the Czech Republic to stop construction of the controversial nuclear power
plant at Temelin, in southern Bohemia, Czech media reported. The offer was made
by Chancellor Franz Vranitzky during an official visit to Prague. "The full
completion of the construction is a matter of overriding importance for us,"
Klaus told a news conference. He said the plant will have a top-grade safety
system, and he agreed to improve the accident warning system at Temelin.
Despite the long-running dispute over the nuclear facility, Vranitzky said
bilateral relations are good. Austria supports the early entry of the Czech
Republic into the European Union. * Steve Kettle
CZECH GOVERNMENT PARTY CALLS ON RENEGADE MEMBER TO RESIGN PARLIAMENT
Leaders of the Christian Democratic Party (KDS) on 13 May called on
party member Pavel Tollner to resign his post as a deputy chairman of the
parliament, Czech media reported. The KDS leadership was responding to the 4
May decision by Tollner and four other KDS deputies to leave the party's caucus
and form their own group in protest over plans for the KDS to merge with Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party. The KDS leaders said that if
Tollner does not resign voluntarily, they will discuss his removal with other
parties in the governing coalition. * Steve Kettle
NEW HEAD OF SLOVAK COUNTERINTELLIGENCE?
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar told Slovak Radio on 14 May that he could "neither confirm nor refute"
reports that former Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs Jaroslav Svechota has
been appointed head of the Slovak Counterintelligence Service. Meciar was
speaking after a meeting with Ivan Lexa, head of the Slovak Intelligence
Service (SIS), which includes counterintelligence. He noted that he had
discussed with Lexa developments within the SIS, in particular the need to
"part with those who gathered information about members of my government,
deputies of the parliament representing the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia,
and institutions and organizations that cooperated with me." * Jiri Pehe
HUNGARIANS PROTEST CUTS IN FAMILY ALLOWANCES.
Some 10,000 Hungarians on
14 May demonstrated in front of the parliament building against planned cuts in
child care benefits, Magyar Nemzet reported on 15 May. They also
demanded the resignation of Finance Minister Lajos Bokros. Under an austerity
package drawn up by Bokros, from July 1 the government is to pay allowances
only to the poorest families. At present, all families are eligible for the
benefits. The demonstration was organized by the National Association of Large
Families. Several leading officials who served at the Welfare Ministry under
the previous, conservative government, including former Welfare Minister Laszlo
Surjan, participated in the demonstration. * Edith Oltay
FIGHTING CONTINUES IN THE POSAVINA REGION.
The narrow corridor linking
Serbia with its conquests in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia continued to be the
main theater of fighting in Bosnia over the past few days. The Serbs stepped up
pressure on the Croatian-held enclave of Orasje on the Bosnian side of the Sava
River. Hina on 15 May reported that tanks and artillery were involved in the
attack and that fighting in one village in particular was hand-to-hand. Nasa
Borba noted the same day that the Croats responded by shelling
Serbian-occupied Brcko. The UN said the Bosnian fronts were otherwise
relatively quiet. * Patrick Moore
KRAJINA SERB LEADER PRAISES RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Rajko Lezajic, president of
the Krajina Serb legislature, said that Belgrade's policies are aimed at
promoting peace in the region, Nasa Borba reported on 15 May. The 13 May
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung discussed at length the "division of
roles" among the various Serbian factions and spokesmen: Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic and his supporters in Krajina were said to be currently
taking the part of peacemakers, while Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and
other Krajina officials follow a more bellicose line. Meanwhile, the BBC on 15
May said Croatian forces that had infiltrated into UN-controlled buffer zones
in the Krajina's Sector South have generally withdrawn but that some units in
the Gospic area are staying put. * Patrick Moore
WHAT ROLE FOR THE U.S. IN WESTERN SLAVONIA?
Novi list on 13 May
and Nasa Borba two days later reported on remarks by Washington's
influential Ambassador to Zagreb, Peter Galbraith. He warned against violations
of the current mandate for UN peacekeepers and called Croatia's reoccupation of
western Slavonia earlier this month a dangerous precedent. Galbraith pointed
out that neither the Krajina Serb leadership nor the Bosnian Serbs "lifted a
finger" to help the Serbs of western Slavonia. He also commented that Croatia
received "not a green light but a red light" from the U.S. regarding the move.
The Voice of Russia in Serbian, however, hinted on 14 May that Washington may
have been behind the armed action, quoting British newspapers to the effect
that the only man in Croatia more powerful than Galbraith is President Franjo
Tudjman. The broadcast also carried stories that may reinforce Serbian fears
that the Croatian government is fascistoid and bent on destroying Serbian
national identity. * Patrick Moore
ORDERLY EVACUATION OF SERBIAN REFUGEES CONTINUES.
continue to leave western Slavonia for Bosnian Serb-held territory under UN
supervision. The monitors said it was probably the most orderly transfer of
refugees in the Yugoslav conflict to date. International media also reported
that Croatian officials have tried to convince Serbs that it is safe to remain.
Many elderly people have no intention of leaving. Nasa Borba on 13 May
said that a UN commission has begun work on investigating reports of massacres
of Serbian civilians and that some Croatian military authorities were
cooperating. Previous reports by Serbs of wholesale atrocities in western
Slavonia have largely proven unsubstantiated. But this has not been the case
with accounts of Bosnian Serb attacks on Croats and Roman Catholic centers in
the Banja Luka area. In one such incident, a church was destroyed with monks
still inside. Novi list on 13 May carried the text of the local bishop's
formal protest letter to Karadzic. * Patrick Moore
Nasa Borba on 15 May reported that its chief
editor, Gordana Logar, has been elected president of the Independent
Association of Journalists of Serbia. Logar defeated Radio B 92 candidate Dusan
Masic at a convention of association members, netting 71 votes to Masic's 44.
In other news, the UN Security Council on 11 May approved a resolution allowing
rump Yugoslav ships to pass through Romainian locks along the River Danube
while the locks on the rump Yugoslav side undergo repairs. The vessels had
previously been barred from doing so by the international sanctions imposed
against Belgrade. The resolution is slated to remain in effect for 60 days, but
that period may be extended upon recommendation of sanctions inspectors. * Stan
ROMANIAN GYPSY "EMPEROR" ON HUNGER STRIKE.
Romanian self-styled Gypsy
"Emperor" Iulian Radulescu told Reuters on 12 May that he is on a hunger strike
to protest the government's decision to change the official designation for
Gypsies from "Romani" to "Tigan" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 May 1995).
Radulescu said the decision was an "outrageous racial discrimination," since
"Tigan" is commonly used pejoratively. Gypsy politician Petre Burtea said
"Tigan" was a "derogatory word from old Sanskrit for beggar and thief."
Radulescu warned of unrest if the government did not reconsider its decision.
"There are enough of us to turn into a problem if the government won't change
its decision and denigrates us," he said. * Michael Shafir
ROMANIAN LIBERAL PARTIES UNITE.
The National Liberal Party (PNL) and the
groups that split away in March from the Liberal Party '93 and the Party of
Civic Alliance (PAC) merged on 13 May, Radio Bucharest reported. The PNL, which
failed to gain parliament representation in the 1992 elections, will now have
12 parliamentarians elected as representatives of the PAC and the Liberal Party
'93. But according to house regulations, parliamentarians who leave the
factions on whose lists they were elected are to be regarded as independents.
They can neither represent other formations nor be recognized as constituting
political groups. * Michael Shafir
COMMANDER OF 14TH ARMY CONFIRMS HE WILL NOT RESIGN.
Lt. Gen. Alexander
Lebed on 12 May confirmed a statement carried by ITAR-TASS the previous day
saying he will not resign as commander of the 14th Army. At a news conference
in Tiraspol, Lebed said he will remain in his post and will not engage in
politics, international agencies reported. He reiterated his criticism of the
Defense Ministry's program to reform the 14th Army command, saying this would
"decapitate a well-tuned mechanism" and pose the danger of a renewed outbreak
of conflict in the region. Lebed also said it would be "foolish" to remove the
14th Army from the breakaway region before a solution is found that is
acceptable to all sides. In a related development, Moldovan parliament chairman
Petru Lucinschi on 11 May said that Lebed was currently "the most suitable
person" to command the 14th Army, Infotag reported. A source "close to
Moldova's president" told the same news agency that Snegur has sent a letter to
the Russian leadership requesting that Lebed be kept in his post "until
armaments are withdrawn from the region." * Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT LEADS IN POPULARITY POLL.
Mircea Snegur is the most
trusted politician in the country, according to an opinion poll conducted by
the independent Opinia institute and the International Foundation for Electoral
Systems. Snegur was supported by 42.3% of the respondents. Parliament chairman
Petru Lucinschi gained 31.1% and Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli 8%. However,
only 40.3% of the 1,700 respondents answered the question on which politician
they trusted most. A majority of interviewees (59.7%) did not trust any
politician. The most popular institutions were religious organizations (63.1%),
the media (57.8%), and the presidency (40.7%). The results of the poll were
carried on 11 May by Infotag and BASA-press. * Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT WARNS OF RECOMMUNIZATION.
Zhelyu Zhelev, at a press
conference on 12 May, said the "real threat [for Bulgaria] is . . . the
restoration of communism," Pari reported the following day. But he
refused to blame the Socialist-led government directly, saying it is
responsible to the parliament and that he will address the National Assembly if
it wishes him to do so. Zhelev stressed that he is determined to exercise his
constitutional rights, which include appointing ambassadors and vetoing laws.
In response to government accusations that he ignores the people's will by
vetoing laws, Zhelev noted that the total votes for him in the presidential
elections exceeded the number who voted for the Socialist parliament majority
and government by 600,000. * Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION TO COOPERATE.
Ivan Kostov, leader of the Union of
Democratic Forces, and the co-chairmen of the People's Union, Stefan Savov and
Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer, announced on 12 May that they will cooperate in the
forthcoming local elections, Demokratsiya reported the following day.
They agreed to nominate joint candidates, grant local organizations a large
degree of autonomy, and require candidates to adhere to the local election
platform. Extra-parliament opposition groups will also be invited to cooperate,
but according to Dimitrova-Mozer, it is unclear which these will be. Talks are
scheduled with the Movement for Rights and Freedom, which is supported mainly
by ethnic Turks. * Stefan Krause
ETHNIC GREEKS UNDER PRESSURE TO LEAVE ALBANIAN PUBLIC LIFE.
Greek Albanians who are members of the minority organization Omonia and have
been sentenced to suspended prison terms for separatism and espionage are under
pressure from the ethnic Greek Albanian Party for the Defense of Human Rights
(PBDNJ) to leave public life. The PBDNJ was founded after a court ruled that
Omonia could not run as an ethnically defined party in the 1992 elections.
PBDNJ leader Vasil Melo was quoted by Gazeta Shqiptare on 14 May as
saying that "it would be better for [Omonia], if the five disappear from
political life." * Fabian Schmidt
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave