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Newsline - May 24, 1995


YELTSIN VETOES DUMA ELECTORAL LAW.
President Boris Yeltsin vetoed the Duma electoral law and plans to send amendments back to the legislature, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 May quoting reliable sources in the Kremlin. Yeltsin objects to three features of the version approved by the Duma, according to presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov. First, he believes that electing 50% of the Duma members by party ticket is too many. Second, he wants to peg the necessary turnout for the elections to be considered valid at 50%, rather than the current bill's proposal of 25%. Third, Yeltsin objects to the provision that requires public servants and government officials who run for the Duma to suspend their professional activities two months before the elections. Since Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and most of his government are running for the Duma, Filatov argued that such a requirement would leave Russia without leadership. Yeltsin's veto was unexpected because his aides had been saying he would sign the law and immediately propose amendments to correct the features he found unacceptable. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RYBKIN CALM ABOUT VETO.
Even before Yeltsin had vetoed the law, Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said he did not see "anything special" in the president's move. He told Interfax on 22 May that electing only 150 members on party lists is "quite acceptable." Nor did he object to making changes to address Yeltsin's other concerns. However, Galina Starovoitova, Co-Chair of the Democratic Russia Party, said Yeltsin's proposals could wreck the elections and increase the chances of another coup attempt. She called on all parties to demand that the president "not create obstacles to free elections." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ALL-RUSSIAN PEOPLE'S CONGRESS FOUNDED.
Promising to promote the interests of the middle class and revive Russian science and culture, the All-Russian People's Congress (VNK) held its founding conference in Moscow, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 23 May. Duma deputy Nikolai Stolyarov, formerly of the New Regional Policy faction, will lead the new movement. Unlike many political parties, which are hoping to receive the necessary 5% of the vote nationwide to enter the Duma from party lists, the VNK will concentrate its resources on electing Duma deputies in single-member constituencies. Stolyarov said his group will cooperate with "a broad spectrum of organizations" interested in "stabilizing the situation" in Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

BABURIN: "UNITE NATIONAL AND SOVIET VALUES."
Russian Public Union (ROS) leader Sergei Baburin told an interviewer in the 20 May edition of Pravda that his party wishes to form an electoral bloc with "patriotic" and "left-wing" organizations. Baburin said he regretted that the Communist and Agrarian parties plan to campaign for parliament independently. He named Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union as a possible partner but rejected cooperation with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party or Alexander Rutskoi's Derzhava movement. Baburin said Russia's revival depends on uniting "our national traditions with the values of the Soviet period and the practical achievements of the Soviet Union." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CHANCES OF POLITICAL PARTIES DURING ELECTIONS ASSESSED.
The democratic parties have a strong chance of doing well in the upcoming parliamentary elections, according to an analysis of the results of previous elections, Izvestiya reported on 23 May. Izvestiya identified the fragmentation of the democratic parties themselves and the possibility of electoral fraud on the part of the federal and local executive branch authorities as posing a threat to the democratic parties' chances. Assuming that the elections are ultimately conducted honestly, the paper recommends that the democrats overcome their disunity by conducting primaries to ascertain which of their candidates is the most popular and then rally behind him or her in the December elections. In an analysis of Russia's political spectrum, Moskovsky komsomolets gives good chances to Gennady Zyuganov's Communist Party, especially outside the major cities. The paper predicts that Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party will have greatly reduced representation in the new Duma. Chernomyrdin's bloc is also unlikely to attract mass support among the voters. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO CONTINUE NUCLEAR COOPERATION WITH IRAN.
Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov announced on 22 May that Russia intends to sign a contract later this year to build a 40 megawatt research light-water nuclear reactor in Iran, Interfax and AFP reported the same day. Mikhailov accused the West of inconsistency in acting to thwart Russian plans to train some 20 to 40 Iranian experts, while "thousands" are studying in the West. Responding to criticisms that Iran lacks the funds to pay for the Bushehr power reactors, Mikhailov said the Iranians will pay "because it is a matter of prestige for them." Contradicting earlier statements from the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mikhailhov said no decision has been made on whether to supply Iran with gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. He argued that the centrifuges are unrelated to nuclear weapons and even Germany and Japan have them. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA BUDGET COMMITTEE CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT.
The Duma Budget Committee has accused the government of exaggerating progress in cutting the budget deficit and stabilizing the economy, international media reported on 22 May. In a draft resolution responding to a cabinet report on the implementation of the budget in the first quarter, the committee said that although revenues exceeded planned levels by 3%, that reflected the sale of gold and profits from currency speculation rather than improved economic performance, Interfax reported. The committee noted that revenues from privatization and import and export tariffs were lower than planned and that government spending was underfinanced by 18%. It also challenged the government's assertion that it will finance the budget deficit from noninflationary sources, noting that deficit financing is 36% below target. Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry said it intends to make 50.4 trillion rubles ($10 billion) available for government spending in the second quarter, that is 91% of planned expenditure. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TAX ARREARS CONTINUE TO GROW.
According to the Federal Tax Service, the amount of taxes owed to the federal budget grew from 7 trillion rubles ($1.4 billion) at the beginning of the year to 16.3 trillion rubles ($3.2 billion) by 1 May, Interfax reported on 22 May. Tax arrears to budgets at all levels totaled 28.5 trillion rubles ($5.7 billion). VAT arrears amounted to 8.5 trillion rubles ($1.7 billion) and profits tax arrears to 3.4 trillion rubles ($670 million). The government is currently debating changes in the tax system to make collection more efficient. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRADE UNION ELECTION PLANS.
Mikhail Shmakov, the chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR), called on 22 May for regional unions to support the association Russian Trade Unions in the election campaign, Interfax reported. He said the federation had signed a declaration of intent to form an electoral bloc with Vladimir Shcherbakov's Russian United Industrialists' Party and Yury Petrov's Union of Realists and that it is still considering the possibility of cooperating with other blocs. The FNPR will finalize its election platform at a meeting of its general council on 1 June. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN RENOMINATES PARAMONOVA AS CENTRAL BANK HEAD.
Presidential aide Alexander Livshits said that President Yeltsin intends to renominate Tatyana Paramonova for the post of Central Bank head, Segodnya reported on 20 May. Paramonova has been acting head since Viktor Gerashchenko was dismissed in the wake of "Black Tuesday" last October. The Duma rejected her candidacy the first time round in protest at the dismissal of her predecessor. Paramonova's performance as bank head has generally been positively assessed, and Yeltsin's renomination of her is viewed as evidence of his commitment to curbing inflation. Segodnya argued that if Paramonova's appointment is approved, tension is likely to increase between the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank, as the bank attempts to restrain the inflationary aspirations of the executive. In earlier confrontations between the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank, the former was the stronger defender of financial stabilization policies. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL BANK HEAD ON RESERVE REQUIREMENTS.
Paramonova said on 22 May that a sharp reduction in the compulsory reserves of commercial banks at the Central Bank was out of the question at present, Interfax reported. She said such a move would "intentionally promote higher inflation . . . We cannot endanger the country's economic interests to meet those of major commercial banks." The Association of Russian Banks has been calling for the mandatory reserve requirements to be reduced from 20% to 10% on ruble accounts and from 1.5% to 0.5% on hard currency accounts, arguing that high rates hinder investment in industry. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.



ARMENIA SETS CONDITIONS FOR FUTURE PARTICIPATION IN KARABAKH TALKS.
The pipeline supplying Armenia with natural gas from Turkmenistan was damaged by an explosion near the Georgian frontier during the night of 21-22 May, according to Reuters and Interfax. Gas supplies to Armenia were suspended, according to Reuters, but it is unclear for how long. This is the ninth attempt to sabotage the pipeline in two years. The Armenian Foreign Ministry accused Azerbaijani agents of causing the explosion and announced that Armenia would not participate in the next round of OSCE-mediated talks on a settlement of the Karabakh conflict in Helsinki next month until the Armenian government received unspecified guarantees that its energy supplies would not be further disrupted. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. CHIEF OF STAFF OFFERS MILITARY AID TO GEORGIA.
General John Shalikashvili, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Tbilisi on 22 May that the U.S. is prepared to assist Georgia in building and strengthening its armed forces, ITAR-TASS reported. Shalikashvili--whose father was born in Georgia--had just met with Georgian Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze and Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze. He added that American assistance should be accompanied "not by rivalry but rather by cooperation with Russia." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

KARIMOV AND BHUTTO ON KASHMIR, AFGHANISTAN.
During Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's visit to Uzbekistan on 21 and 22 May, several agreements on increasing economic cooperation, tourism, and science were signed, Western news agencies reported. Talks between Bhutto and her Uzbek counterpart Abdul Hassan Mulatov and President Islam Karimov focused on bilateral trade issues as well as Kashmir, which Pakistan and India are at loggerheads over, and the situation in Afghanistan. Although Uzbekistan has traditionally maintained close ties with India, Karimov called for UN-sponsored talks between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir conflict. Bhutto for her part said she was "encouraged" by Uzbek support on Kashmir and voiced "satisfaction that our views coincide." Karimov said Bhutto's visit would strengthen joint efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and Tajikistan; Islamabad pledged to support a UN Security Council initiative to impose an arms embargo on Afghanistan. Some 15 agreements between Pakistan and Uzbekistan have been signed since 1991. Both sides are seeking to increase rail and road links and are committed to establishing a road that will connect Pakistan with Central Asia and Xinjiang, China. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS, OMRI, Inc.

FORECASTS ON EMIGRATION FROM CENTRAL ASIA.
During hearings at the Russian Federation Council, the Federal Migration Service (FMS) revealed official statistics on the number of registered refugees and the amount of expected emigres in the coming year, Interfax reported on 22 May. Since July 1992, a total of 702,500 refugees have been registered from the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union and unstable regions of the Russian Federation. The actual number of refugees is likely to be considerably higher than the figures for registered refugees would indicate. In the coming year, the FMS expects 180,000-195,000 people to emigrate from Kazakhstan; 85,000-95,000 from Uzbekistan; 66,000-75,000 from Kyrgyzstan; 35,000-40,000 from Tajikistan; and 14,000-16,000 from Turkmenistan. Ukraine is also expected to generate about 180,000-200,000 emigrants. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.



EU FINANCE MINISTERS MEET WITH EAST EUROPEAN COUNTERPARTS . . .
European Union finance ministers held the first formal talks with their Central and East European counterparts on 22 May, international agencies reported. Discussions focused on the EU Commission white paper outlining how EU applicants can bring their legislation and institutions into line with EU standards. French Finance Minister Alain Madelin, who holds the EU's rotating Presidency, said Eastern Europe has made considerable progress but some countries have a longer way to go than others. British Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke commented there is still much to be done by both the EU and the applicants. Ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia attended the session. The white paper is expected to be approved at the EU summit in June. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.


...AND AGREE ON AID TO UKRAINE.
The EU finance ministers agreed to extend aid to Ukraine to balance its payments on the condition that Kiev closes the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by 2000, Ukrainian Radio reported on 22 May. The new credit would be worth 200 million ECU ($254 million), to be released in two 100 million ECU installments, in addition to an 85 million ECU credit promised earlier. In other news, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk told Interfax that the second tranche of World Bank credits (worth a total of $250 million) cannot be used to pay off Ukraine's gas debt to Russia. Pynzenyk said that Kiev was obliged to show the World Bank customs declarations of imports for which the credits are used; since imports of Russian gas are not declared, no such documents exist. Ukraine has to pay Russia $100 million for gas deliveries in June. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMEAN DEPUTIES PROPOSE COMPROMISE WITH KIEV.
Crimean lawmakers have offered to cancel a referendum on the recently banned Crimean Constitution if the Ukrainian parliament rescinds its decision to annul the document and allows it to be restored without those articles that contravene the Ukrainian Constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 May. The deputies said they would also seek to bring Crimean legislation into line with Ukrainian law if Kiev overturns its decision to abolish the region's Presidency. The legislators said their compromise offer was based on recommendations by the OCSE, which recently hosted a special round-table discussion on Crimea in Locarno, Switzerland, attended by representatives of the peninsula's separatist movement and the Ukrainian authorities. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 22 May issued a decree replacing Prosecutor-General Vasil Shaladonau with Vasil Kapitan, a department chief from the Prosecutor-General's Office, Interfax reported. Shaladonau reportedly tendered his resignation earlier this month. The president's investigative services have gathered information alleging that Shaladonau illegally privatized an apartment for himself and one for his son. He is also blamed for not imposing controls on the adoption of Belarusian children by foreigners. Shaladonau is running for the parliament and has made it to the second round of elections, which are to be held on 28 May. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

THREE ESTONIAN DAILIES ANNOUNCE MERGER.
The Tallinn dailies Paevaleht, Hommikuleht, and Rahva Haal on 22 May announced that they will merge to put out a new newspaper called Eesti Paevaleht beginning 5 June, BNS reported. The main reason for the merger appears economic, since Hommikuleht and Rahva Haal have both been operating at considerable losses. The three newspapers have a combined print run of about 50,000 and a total of 400,000-500,000 readers. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIAN, LATVIAN SEA BORDER.
Lithuanian and Latvian Presidents Algirdas Brazauskas and Guntis Ulmanis met on 20 May in the town of Maisiagala, 15 kilometers north of Vilnius, where they signed a memorandum on the delimitation of their sea border, RFE/RL reported on 22 May. Prime Ministers Adolfas Slezevicius (Lithuania) and Maris Gailis (Latvia) also attended the meeting. It was decided that Lithuania and Latvia would sign associate membership treaties with the European Union on 12 June. Brazauskas, in his weekly Monday radio broadcast, said Ulmanis accepted his invitation to pay an official visit to Lithuania on 5-6 June. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH POLICEMEN ON TRIAL FOR FATAL BEATING UNDER MARTIAL LAW.
Two former policemen went on trial in Warsaw on 22 May accused of beating to death the 19-year-old Grzegorz Przemyk, who was arrested in May 1983 in Warsaw. A former chief of the Police Investigation Office also appeared in court on charges of destroying documents in 1990 to cover up police responsibility for the boy's death, Polish and international media reported. Przemyk's death became a symbol for martial law illegalities and his grave a site of pilgrimage. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.


CZECH OPPOSITION PARTY CONTINUES TO GAIN SUPPORT.
The gap in popularity between the leading Czech government party, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), and the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) narrowed sharply from 10 to 5.5 percentage points over the last month, according to an opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research. Support for the ODS dropped from 27% to 25%, while the CSSD's rating rose from 17% to 19.5%. Over the past six months, the CSSD has almost doubled its popularity rating, while those of government parties have declined. The Civic Democratic Alliance's popularity dropped from 8% to 6.5%, its lowest rating since the June 1992 elections. Support for the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party fell from 7% to 5%, the threshold for gaining parliamentary representation. But if the poll results were translated into parliamentary seats, the governing coalition would have 117 deputies (compared with the present 111) while the opposition would have 83 (instead of 82). -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK POLICE TO REVIEW OPPOSITION PARTY'S ELECTION LISTS.
Narodna obroda on 22 May reported that police have begun to check the signatures on the Democratic Union's election lists. The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has questioned the validity of the 10,000 signatures collected by the DU in order to run in last fall's parliamentary elections. Interior Ministry spokesman Peter Ondera told Pravda on 23 May that the police are checking the lists on the basis of a request by a Bratislava resident to the prosecutor-general in January. Both the Election Commission and the Constitutional Court have dismissed HZDS complaints, which are viewed as an attempt to gain more parliamentary seats for the ruling parties. DU Deputy Chairman Jan Budaj said that the HZDS wants to "discredit the DU and renew fear in Slovak society" by investigating citizens who signed the petition list. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE DIRECTOR?
Sme on 23 May reported that former SIS director Vladimir Mitro has filed criminal charges against current director Ivan Lexa for breaking his secrecy oath. Until recently, Lexa headed the Separate Control Organ (OKO), which was set up by the parliament in November to oversee the SIS. Following the presentation of an OKO report to the parliament on 5 May, coalition deputies approved a no-confidence motion in President Michal Kovac. The report has triggered a series of accusations: Lexa filed charges against Mitro and former SIS intelligence director Igor Cibula earlier this month, and chairman of the opposition Christian Democratic Movement Jan Carnogursky filed suit against members of the OKO. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.



BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER EXPECTS SERBIAN RECOGNITION.
Haris Silajdzic told Radio Bosnia and Herzegovina on 23 May that he expects Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize his embattled republic soon because that "is the only way to peace." A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told a Western agency the previous day that Belgrade will make a decision later this week. The Bosnian Serb parliament began an emergency session at which it is expected to condemn any recognition of the Sarajevo government by Serbia. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic again said that any Serbian recognition of the Bosnian government is a matter for his people alone and that "we will never do it." Meanwhile in New York, the UN Security Council extended sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs for another four months because Pale refuses to accept the current peace plan, international media reported. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

RIFTS AMONG SERBS.
"Only solidarity saves the Serbs" is the historic Serbian motto, but Serbian and international media on 23 May suggested that unity is in short supply as Serbian forces prove increasingly vulnerable on the battlefield. The Krajina Serbs are divided over whether to draw closer to Pale or to trust Belgrade. The Bosnian Serbs are similarly split between hard-liners Karadzic and Chief-of-Staff General Manojlo Milovanovic, on the one hand, and pro-Milosevic army commander General Ratko Mladic and his backers Generals Zdravko Tolimir and Milan Gvero, on the other, AFP reports. Karadzic is quoted by a Western agency as saying that "only the [Serbian Orthodox] Church can now preserve the unity of the Serbs." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBS TAKE GUNS, KILL THREE IN SARAJEVO.
Bosnian Serb forces staged a pre-dawn raid on a UN heavy weapons collection point near the Bosnian capital on 22 May, taking two artillery pieces with them. They subsequently resumed shelling the town and renewed sniper fire, killing three and wounding six, international media reported. It is not clear whether the two cannons seized were used in the latest attacks, but artillery and rockets seem to be the Serbian response to their recent defeats by Muslims and Croats on various fronts. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, Croatian Bishop Franjo Komarica on 23 May entered the sixth day of his hunger strike. He is protesting Serbian attacks on Croats, the clergy, and churches, Vecernji list repored. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SLAVONIAN SERB REFUGEES MOVE INTO EASTERN SLAVONIA.
Nearly 4,000 Serbs displaced by the Croatian Operation Blitz on 1-2 May have left their temporary shelters in Bosnian Serb-held territory for eastern Slavonia, or Sector East, as the UN calls it. It is widely believed that Milosevic intends to hold onto that area--even if he turns his back on the rest of Krajina--since eastern Slavonia is rich in gas, oil, and first-class agricultural land. Not all of the refugees were enthusiastic about moving into Sector East, AFP said on 21 May. It appears that Belgrade wants to use the refugees to consolidate its hold on eastern Slavonia and Kosovo as well. Elsewhere, the Croatian authorities have admitted that at least 20 Serb civilians were killed in crossfire during Operation Blitz. UN investigators are on the scene, news agencies reported on 22 May. But previous UN reports said that the Croats behaved properly toward Serbian civilians, whose confidence they are anxious to gain. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.


MILOSEVIC REJECTS U.S.-BACKED PEACE PLAN.
The New York Times on 23 May reported that Milosevic has rejected a US-backed plan providing for the suspension of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia in exchange for Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Milosevic reportedly insists that "the United Nations permanently lift all sanctions . . . rather than conditionally suspend them." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

KOSOVO UPDATE.
A Pristina court has sentenced Pal Krasniqi, secretary of the Independent Teachers Trade Unions of Kosovo, to two months in prison for calling a meeting of his trade union branch at the premises of a Pristina secondary school on 17 November 1994. Meanwhile, the Serbian authorities in Rahovec have said they will accommodate Serbian refugees from western Slavonia in a local secondary school. According to the Democratic League of Kosovo, the school building has already been converted into a hotel and the first batch of refugees are expected to move in soon. The school has not been used since 1990 owing to the lack of Serbian students in the town. Local Albanian students have been attending classes in private homes, Kosova Daily Report said on 22 May. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

MACEDONIA, U.S. AGREE ON MILITARY COOPERATION.
Macedonian Defense Minister Blagoj Handziski, on returning from an eight-day official visit to the U.S. on 20 May, said Macedonia and the U.S. have agreed on new forms of military cooperation, MIC reported. Macedonian military personnel will receive training in the U.S. in September, and the 1996 U.S. draft budget will allocate $1 million for Macedonia from the funds intended for member states of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Handziski said that "a new page" in U.S.-Macedonian relations has been turned as a result of Macedonia's constructive internal and foreign policy and its efforts to preserve peace in the region. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.


ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH TRADE UNION LEADERS.
Ion Iliescu on 22 May received the leaders of Romania's five main labor organizations: the Alfa Cartel, the Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions in Romania, the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions-The Brotherhood, the National Labor Bloc, and the Convention of Non-Affiliated Trade Union Confederations. The meeting was also attended by a government team led by Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu. The union leaders handed over a memorandum to Iliescu asking for the dismissal of the current cabinet for mismanaging the economy. Iliescu said he did not have the power to dismiss the cabinet but pledged to continue mediating in the conflict between the government and unions, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CRITICIZES ROMANIA.
Amnesty International, in a report released on 22 May, said there were "grave violations of human rights" in Romania. The report criticized Romania for ill-
treating detainees, imprisoning homosexuals, and failing to protect its Gypsy minority. Anne Burley, Amnesty's regional director, told a press conference in Bucharest that the organization was "concerned by Romanian laws allowing people to be imprisoned for their opinions, and by the country's delay in implementing international treaties which it signed on the defense of human rights." Romanian police and a spokesman for the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania denied any systematic violation of human rights and suggested that the report referred to isolated cases only. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

LEBED TO ATTEND DUMA HEARINGS.
Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, commander of the 14th Russian Army headquartered in Tiraspol, has been given permission to participate in a Russian State Duma hearing on 23 May on the situation in the Dniester region and the role of the 14th Army. ITAR-TASS reported the previous day that the Russian Defense Ministry gave Lebed permission to attend at the request of Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin. In a draft resolution published in advance of the debate, Russian parliamentarians expressed concern about planned changes in the 14th Army command and appealed to the government to reject them. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIA, RUSSIA TO LAUNCH JOINT ARMS PRODUCTION.
A bilateral defense commission on 22 May signed an accord on military-industrial cooperation, Reuters reported the same day. The agreement was signed by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev and Genady Voronin, deputy chairman of Russia's Defense Industry Committee. In 1994,a bilateral commission was established on restoring links between the Bulgarian and Russian defense industries. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES IN GREECE.
Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and the U.S. began military maneuvers in southern Greece on 22 May, AFP reported the same day. The "New Spirit 1995" exercise, which is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, is to held over five days in the town of Kalamata, where more than 300 soldiers will practice an urgent, coordinated response to major earthquakes. It is the first time that Albanian soldiers are taking part in maneuvers outside their own country. AFP cited a military expert in Athens as saying that the exercise is symbolic because it shows the deep interest of the U.S. in the Balkans and "the links between certain countries in this sensitive region." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

CONFERENCE OF ALBANIAN, TURKISH POLICE.
Representatives of the Turkish and Albanian police are meeting in Ankara from 22-25 May, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 23 May. The conference is focusing on organized crime, drug trafficking, and possible cooperation on educational projects. The Turkish and Albanian interior ministers are expected to meet later this year. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.


[As of 12:00 CET], OMRI, Inc.

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave
, OMRI, Inc.

, OMRI, Inc.

, OMRI, Inc.



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