OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 103, 29 May 1995
RUSSIAN REACTION TO BOSNIAN CRISIS . . .
In the wake of the 25 and 26
May NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serbs and the subsequent hostage-taking
by Bosnian Serbs of UN peacekeepers, Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, NTV
reported on 27 May. He reiterated Moscow's hope and expectation that the
conflict could be resolved "at the negotiating table." Moscow, however,
remains adamant that NATO force is an inappropriate tool for regional
problem-solving in the Balkans. Chernomyrdin also said, "the foreign and
defense ministers...[left Moscow] to talk again to the leaders and to
convince them to stop the military actions between them today, so there
will not be such powerful [air] strikes." On 29 May, however, Nasa Borba
reported that no Russian ministers had arrived in Belgrade. The day
before, Interfax reported that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had not
left Moscow and that Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev "was working in his
Moscow office on Sunday." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND TO HOSTAGE SITUATION.
Foreign Minister Kozyrev and President
Boris Yeltsin are "taking measures to free UN servicemen taken hostage
in Bosnia," Interfax reported on 27 May without providing details.
Russian troops were among those initially detained by Bosnian Serb
forces. On 28 May, however, Russian TV's "Novosti" reported that the
Bosnian Serb command had released all Russian UN peacekeepers that day,
but that Bosnian Serb forces are continuing to restrict the "movement of
Russian peacekeepers in some parts [of Bosnia] under Bosnian Serb
control." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
CHECHEN FIGHTING CONTINUES AFTER PEACE TALKS FAIL.
Russia began bombing
Chechen positions less than 24 hours after ending fruitless peace talks
on 25 May. Chechen soldiers reported that the village of Serzhen Yurt,
which has held out against Russian attacks for two months, was
surrounded 28 May, trapping an unknown number of Chechen fighters,
according to AFP. The same day, Russian forces heavily bombed Vedeno, 16
km away. The Russian Defense Ministry described heavy fighting in
Agishty, 5 km south of Shali, according to Interfax. ITAR-TASS reported
that Russian forces have blocked off many of the roads leading to the
highland areas. The agency also carried a statement from Ruslan Gelaev,
Chechen commander of the southeastern front, that his troops would kill
five Russian PoWs if the bombing did not stop. But Aslan Maskhadov,
chief of staff of Chechnya's armed forces, told Ekho Moskvy that "we
have not sunk to such bestial methods." On 27 May, President Yeltsin's
chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, told a session of the Russian
President's Public Chamber that the Russian president and government are
open for talks with Dudaev supporters at any level, although no future
talks have been scheduled. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERAL TROOPS MISSING IN ACTION IN CHECHNYA.
A total of 243 Russian
troops have been reported as missing in action in Chechnya, an official
of the General Staff told the State Duma on 26 May. He said 90 are being
held prisoner by the militants, while another 161 Russian servicemen
have been released, some for ransom, Interfax reported. The official
said negotiations are underway on the release of the Russian prisoners,
and indicated that the militants want freedom for their members held in
Russian jails. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
BODY NOT CUNY'S.
A Russian doctor has confirmed that a body found in
Chechnya was erroneously identified as that of Fred Cuny, a former Soros
consultant who disappeared in the region in mid-April, ITAR-TASS
reported on 28 May. A Moscow traumatologist connected with the Soros
foundation, Vladimir Polotnyanko, examined the body and concluded it is
not Cuny's because it has no steel rod in the thighbone. A
representative for the Chechen separatists, Usman Imayev, said the
search for Cuny would continue. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
RYBKIN FACES DIFFICULTY BUILDING LEFT-CENTER BLOC.
Georgy Satarov said he is confident that Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin will
form an electoral bloc, Russian Public Television reported on 27 May. He
said Rybkin has been slow in forming the new bloc because he does not
have access to the same organizational resources as Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin. Obshchaya gazeta reported that although the chairmen of
Russia's regional legislatures are providing support for the bloc,
Rybkin has had to work in secrecy because the president's unveiling of
the bloc has scared away many potential allies. Lyudmila Vartazarova,
chairwoman of the Socialist Party of the Working People, confirmed that
analysis by saying, "No opposition bloc can be set up by instructions
from the top leader," Interfax reported on 26 May. Her party plans to
maintain contact with Rybkin's bloc but is not ready to join it. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
STABLE RUSSIA NOT TO JOIN CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC.
Stability leaders Alexei
Alexandrov, Alexei Leushkin, and Bembya Khulkhachiev said the Stable
Russia movement will campaign independently in the parliamentary
elections and that the Stability deputy group is still undecided about
whether to join Chernomyrdin's bloc, Interfax reported 26 May. Yeltsin
first announced the formation of the Chernomyrdin and Rybkin blocs while
meeting with Stability deputies. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA?
The Russian government
intends to provide financial support for Nezavisimaya gazeta, which
recently had to close down because it could not meet its expenses,
Russian media reported. Chernomyrdin essentially told Russian Public
Television on 27 May that he dislikes the paper but wants it to have the
right to express its point of view. Editor Vitaly Tretyakov told Russian
TV on 25 May that he is ready to let the paper die with honor. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
SPIRITUAL HERITAGE HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS.
The organization Spiritual
Heritage (Duk-hovnoe nasledie) held its founding congress in
Krasnogorsk, Radio Mayak reported on 27 May. Alexei Pod-berezkin,
chairman of the new organization, said its purpose is to bring together
all those who support a strong state. The group's ruling body includes
Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of Russia, and Valery
Vorotnikov, former deputy chairman of the Soviet KGB and now the
director of a department in the MOST group. The organization will help
the Communist Party during the elections. More than 300 delegates from
50 regions of Russia attended the congress. The group's name refers to
the state ideology that members claim died with the USSR, Russian Public
Television reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
EARTHQUAKE HITS SAKHALIN.
An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter
scale devastated northern Sakhalin on 27 May, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The quake flattened the oil town of Neftegorsk,
trapping up to 3,000 people; 300 deaths were officially confirmed by the
morning of 29 May. Japan offered to send help to the region, but First
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, in charge of the relief operation,
was quoted by Reuters as saying Russia did not need foreign aid. He
added that he had asked the Finance Ministry for 30 billion rubles to
cover the initial costs of the relief effort. Viktor Gurevich, the
deputy governor of Sakhalin Oblast, rejected claims that the quake could
cause an ecological catastrophe. A local oil official had earlier
reported more than 15 ruptures along a 90 km stretch of oil pipeline on
the island and the destruction of all oil wells in the affected region.
-- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN VETOES LAW ON UNIONS.
President Yeltsin has rejected the Law on
Trade Unions, Their Rights, and Guarantees, passed by the Duma on 14
April, according to Segodnya on 27 May. In a letter to Duma Speaker
Rybkin, Yeltsin said the law contravened the constitution, Civil Code,
and international accords signed by Russia. Alexei Surikov, first deputy
head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR),
said he did not understand the president's decision, contending that
"such generalities" can be applied to any law. The head of the Union of
Workers of the Agroindustrial Complex called the veto a serious mistake
and warned that it would set the unions against the president in the
election campaign. In early May, Russia's free trade unions picketed the
Federation Council to protest the draft law, arguing that it would give
the FNPR a monopoly. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA RAISES MINIMUM PENSION.
On 26 May, the parliament's lower house
voted to increase the minimum pension to 52,486 rubles ($10.46) a month
as of 1 June, Segodnya reported on 27 May. The government opposes the
move, arguing that pensions should not be increased more than once every
three months. Pensions were raised from 34,440 rubles ($6.86) a month to
43,739 rubles ($8.72) on 1 May. A government spokesman also said the
Pension Fund did not have the resources to cover such a hike, that the
projected increase exceeded the rate of inflation, and that it would
cause delays in the payment of pensions. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
MISSILE CHIEF UPDATES WEAPONS IN NEAR ABROAD.
Col. Gen. Viktor Yasin,
head of Russia's Strategic Missile Troops, said on 26 May that Russia
still has operational control of 93 strategic missiles in Ukraine and 18
in Belarus. Interfax quoted him as saying his command has good relations
with the Ukrainian General Staff. Yasin said the warheads on the
missiles in Ukraine would be destroyed by June 1996, while those in
Belarus would be returned to Russia this year. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 103, 29 May 1995
UN THREATENS TO WITHDRAW MISSION FROM TAJIKISTAN.
UN envoy, Ramiro Piriz
Ballon, warned that the UN might not extend the mandate of its mission
in Tajikistan, saying there is "no agreement between the two sides on
any constructive step." The peace talks have gone on for a week now with
the opposition proposing to share power with the Tajik government,
Interfax reported. The Tajik government representatives at the talks in
Almaty flatly refused to accept such a deal. Tajik First Deputy Prime
Minister Makhmadsaid Ubaidullaiyev noted that 88% of the voters in last
November's referendum voted for the present constitution. A UN proposal
to set up a consultative committee on drafting constitutional changes
also met with little success, according to Reuters. The UN envoy said,
"The Security Council is very clear: if there is no progress, we will
end our presence in Tajikistan," AFP reported. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI,
KARIMOV'S CRITIQUE OF CIS SUMMIT.
Commenting on the results of the CIS
summit in Minsk, Uzbek President Islam Karimov said "the future of the
CIS countries depends on Russia," Interfax reported on 28 May. Speaking
on Uzbek TV, he noted that although the CIS was conceived as an
equitable alliance of independent states, only those initiatives
advanced by Russia are carried out. Karimov stressed the need for Russia
to "understand" that all CIS members have equal rights and noted that
the CIS lacked a mechanism for implementing adopted documents, which he
said number more than 500. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 103, 29 May 1995
LITTLE PROGRESS AT CIS TALKS IN MINSK.
The CIS made little progress
toward integration at its 26 May summit in Minsk, international agencies
reported. There was considerable disagreement among member states on an
interstate currency committee for settling mutual accounts, a human
rights convention, and collective security. However, Yeltsin cited the
customs union with Belarus as one concrete result of the summit. Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin called the customs treaty "a breakthrough" and
indicated that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who did not attend
the summit because of health reasons, had confirmed that Kazakhstan
would also join the union. In addition, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Georgia, and Tajikistan tentatively agreed to a
collective security arrangement which could place Russian troops on
their outer borders. The summit also extended the peacekeeping mandates
in Tajikistan and Abkhazia, and a "comprehensive plan" was adopted for
settling the conflict in Tajikistan. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
continued to express skepticism about the organization's future. He said
the CIS has yet to register economic results. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
BELARUSIAN VOTERS FAIL TO ELECT PARLIAMENT.
Belarusians on 28 May went
to the polls for the second round of parliament elections but failed to
elect enough deputies to form a new legislature, international agencies
reported. According to preliminary results released by the Central
Electoral Commission, just over half of the eligible electorate voted
and some 86 of the 260 parliament seats were filled, well below the two-
thirds that must be filled for the new parliament to resume its work.
Elections were declared invalid in 26 districts with less than 50% voter
turnout. Not a single seat in the 42 electoral districts in Minsk was
filled, although well-known figures such as opposition leader Zyanon
Paznyak, former parliament speaker Stanislau Shushkevich, and head of
the National Bank Stanislau Bahdankevich were running there. Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka initially said he would not vote and
that he had spoiled his ballot in the first round of elections on 14 May
because all of the candidates "would deceive voters in the country." But
the president said he did cast his ballot in the second round because
the country could not "exist without a parliament." The old Soviet-era
legislature will continue to function while the president meets with it
to decide what to do next. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
CENTRAL EUROPEAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN HUNGARY.
The presidents of Austria,
the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and
Slovenia met on 27 May in the Hungarian town of Keszthely to discuss
regional cooperation and East European countries' prospects for
integration into the EU, international media reported. A number of
bilateral meetings also took place. Slovak President Michal Kovac and
his Hungarian counterpart, Arpad Goencz, discussed bilateral relations,
including the sensitive question of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia,
TASR reported. Both presidents voiced their belief that the Slovak-
Hungarian treaty, which addresses the question of minorities, will be
ratified, despite opposition to it in both countries. Kovac stressed
that he is in favor of dialogue with representatives of minorities but
warned that territorial autonomy for ethnic Hungarians "is not supported
by any Slovaks or the president." The escalating conflict in Bosnia was
also high on the presidents' agenda. Czech President Vaclav Havel told
journalists that in his opinion "military force should have been used in
Bosnia a long time ago. Many human lives could have been saved that
way." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
CONSORTIUM OF WESTERN FIRMS TO DESIGN PLAN FOR CHORNOBYL SHUTDOWN.
Ukrainian government and a consortium of Western firms on 27 May signed
a memorandum to design a joint project for shutting down the Chornobyl
nuclear power station by 2000 and building a thermal plant to replace
it, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported the same day. The
group, led by the German-based Asea Brown Boveri, was hired to ensure
the safe closure of the two still-functioning reactors at Chornobyl. The
cost of decommissioning those reactors was estimated at $1.7 billion and
constructing the new plant at $2 billion. A representative of the
consortium said the group would draw on the experience of nuclear plants
decommissioned in the U.S. and converted to other forms of energy
generation. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIAN, ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET.
Maris Gailis and Tiit Vahi met
in the Estonian town of Parnu on 26 May to discuss ways to settle the
dispute over their sea border, BNS reported. The two leaders expressed
willingness to compromise, but it is expected that the issue will not be
resolved for several more months. They also discussed issues relating to
a free trade treaty between the two countries and plans to introduce
special border crossing regulations for local residents in the twin
border towns of Valga and Valka. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS SCUFFLE WITH POLICE IN WARSAW.
Solidarity activists demonstrated in Warsaw on 26 May, Western and
Polish media reported. The demonstration turned into an ugly battle with
the police when demonstrators began hurling stones, bolts, and bags of
dust and paint at government buildings. Police used water canons and
dogs against the demonstrators. Up to 20 protesters and two policemen
were injured. The protesters, most of whom arrived by bus from Silesia,
shouted anti-communist slogans directed at Jozef Oleksy's post-communist
coalition government. Increased economic assistance for Silesia was one
of the demonstrators' key demands. Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej
Milczanowski said in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza on 29 May that
intervention was necessary but that he would never order the use of fire
arms against demonstrators. The demonstrations were the most unruly
Poland's capital has experienced since 1989. They also constitute the
most serious grass-roots challenge to the post-communist governing
coalition since it took power in October 1993. -- Jakub Karpinski and
Ben Slay, OMRI, Inc.
POLAND'S SUPREME AUDIT CHAMBER PRESIDENT REMOVED.
The Sejm on 26 May
voted by 204 to 85 to remove Lech Kaczynski from his post. In an
interview with Gazeta Wyborcza on 29 May, Kaczynski said he had no
illusions concerning the ruling left-wing coalition and was convinced
that it would not tolerate the head of an important institution whom it
is unable to control. The Senate has 30 days to accept the Sejm's
decision. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH RAIL WORKERS THREAT-EN ALL-OUT STRIKE.
The Czech rail workers'
union said on 27 May they are prepared to call a nationwide, all-out
strike if their wage demands are not met by the end of June, Czech media
reported on 29 May. The union claims wages should rise by up to 60% to
put rail workers on par with other comparable groups. It also says much
railroad equipment is antiquated and some in dangerous condition, and
The chairman of Czech Railways, Emanuel Sip, who attended a union
meeting in Ceska Trebova over the weekend, said wages could rise by 15%
over two years if up to 10,000 workers were let go this year. -- Steve
Kettle , OMRI, Inc.
DOMESTIC POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN SLOVAKIA.
The Democratic Union, in a
statement released on 27 May, said it is protesting "the policy of
breaking laws..., which creates the conditions for establishing a new
totalitarian system" in Slovakia. The party was particularly concerned
about the Slovak police's decision to check signatures on the petition
lists that the DU submitted to run in the October 1994 elections.
Despite the Constitutional Court's ruling in the DU's favor, Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has
continued to allege that a number of signatures on the DU lists were
forged and that the DU should therefore have not been allowed to
participate in the elections. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 103, 29 May 1995
BOSNIAN SERBS ROUND UP PEACEKEEPERS.
Following the NATO air strikes
against Bosnian Serb positions on 25-26 May, Bosnian Serb forces shelled
Tuzla on 27 May and continued to take UN peacekeepers hostage throughout
the weekend. The Serbs clashed with French troops in Sarajevo the next
day and had taken between 320 and 350 UN soldiers captive by the morning
of 29 May, among them Czechs, Egyptians, and Ghanaians as well as
Serbia's traditional allies: British, French, and Russians. At least
three men have been chained to potential military targets, and at least
six more are being used as human shields to deter further NATO air
strikes. The Serbs say the men will be freed only when Pale has complete
assurance there will be no more air attacks, international media
reported. A UN spokesman said the Serbs were behaving like a "terrorist
organization." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
MOST GOVERNMENTS WAFFLE IN THE FACE OF SERB DEFIANCE.
from major capitals over the weekend was confusion and indecision, key
European dailies noted on 29 May. Many governments seem willing to defer
any hard decisions until after a series of meetings in the course of the
week, including those of the Contact Group, the EU foreign ministers,
and the UN Security Council. Washington called for "strengthening" the
position of the UN but still refuses to send any troops. The Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung quotes German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel as saying
that UNPROFOR should stay on in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but Bonn also has no
intention of sending in any ground forces. -- Patrick Moore , OMRI, Inc.
FRANCE IS INDIGNANT AT ITS ALLIES.
The BBC on 29 May said that French
Prime Minister Alain Juppe the previous day called the air strikes ill-
prepared and demanded that the UN make UNPROFOR's mandate tougher. Paris
and London have long wanted the troops more concentrated as well, which
would probably mean abandoning at least the three Muslim enclaves in
eastern Bosnia. Juppe almost seemed more upset with his allies than with
the Serbs and once again hinted that France is considering withdrawing
its peacekeepers. It has the largest single contingent in UNPROFOR, but
President Jacques Chirac campaigned in the recent elections in favor of
more air strikes and against withdrawal. An aircraft carrier has
nonetheless been sent to the Adriatic. The BBC said the new government
is anxious to carry out its domestic agenda and is irked that the
Bosnian crisis is threatening to divert its attention. -- Patrick Moore,
BRITAIN TO SEND 5,000 MORE TROOPS TO BOSNIA.
British Prime Minister John
Major is not only against withdrawal but is dispatching 5,000 additional
forces to Bosnia. The BBC said on 29 May that the units are some of the
best and toughest in the British army and will bring along heavy
artillery. The move indicates that Bosnia has become an important matter
of British national interest following the Serbian capture of 33 British
UNPROFOR troops. The broadcast noted that the new force will be under
British--not UN --command and that "military action seems imminent." --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIAN MODERATES CALL FOR OVERTHROW OF KARADZIC.
Nasa Borba on 29 May
reports that the Sarajevo-based Serbian Citizens' Council has urged
Serbs living under Pale's control to "rise up against [Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan] Karadzic." The council represents at least 200,000
"forgotten Serbs" who want a multi-ethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina and oppose
nationalism. It still remains unclear why Karadzic and his military
chose their present defiant course and took even Russian, French, and
British hostages. Pale has friends in the Belgrade Serbian military, the
nationalist parties, and the Serbian Orthodox Church and may be trying
to exacerbate the crisis in hopes of forging closer Serbian unity. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BELGRADE REACTS TO HOSTAGE-TAKING, NATO AIR STRIKES.
on 29 May reported that rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav
Jovanovic has condemned the Bosnian Serbs' decision to take UN
peacekeepers hostage. Jovanovic said the hostage-taking would aggravate
regional tensions. He also reiterated the position that only "peaceful"
dialogue could lead to a resolution of regional tension. Earlier, on 26
May, Belgrade signaled opposition to developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina
following NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb targets near the self-
styled Bosnian Serb capital of Pale. According to a government statement
reported on 26 May by Tanjug, Belgrade is "deeply concerned over yet
another escalation of armed clashes" in Bosnia, which, it believes, is
"playing into the hands of those who advocate violent solutions." --
Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN FOREIGN MINISTER KILLED.
International media reported on 28 May
that Irfan Ljubijankic died near Bihac when Krajina Serb forces shot
down his helicopter. They said it had violated their air space. He was
the highest official on any side in the conflict in the former
Yugoslavia to be killed in combat. Meanwhile in Zagreb, Novi list
reported on 29 May that the Bosnian and Croatian Prime Ministers, Haris
Silajdzic and Nikica Valentic, met Iranian Vice President Hasan Habibi
the previous day. Teheran is a strong supporter of the Croatian-Muslim
confederation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CONGRESS OF HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY IN ROMANIA.
Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) re-elected Bela Marko as its
chairman and Reformed Bishop Laszlo Tokes as its honorary chairman at
its congress in Cluj on 26-28 May, Radio Bucharest reported. It also
adopted its new program and statutes. In line with a proposal by the
"radical" faction, headed by Tokes, the designation of Romania's
Hungarians was changed from "Magyar minority" to "Magyar National
Community of Romania." The gathering approved by an overwhelming
majority Tokes's demand for territorial autonomy. Tokes criticized
President Ion Iliescu for his attempt to "interfere" in UDMR affairs by
supporting the "moderate" faction in a message read out on the first day
of the congress. Tokes also criticized the U.S. and the Hungarian
government for pressing the UDMR to moderate its positions. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN NATIONAL BLOC ENLARGED.
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the
chauvinistic Greater Romania Party (GRP), told a press conference on 26
May that the National Bloc set up by the GRP and the Bratianu Liberal
Union in mid-March was enlarged on 24 May to six parties. Radio
Bucharest quoted Tudor as saying the Romanian Party for the New Society,
the People's Republican Party, the Republican Union Party and the Young
Democracy Party have joined the bloc. All are fringe formations with no
parliamentary representation. Political observers consider most of them
"Ceausescu-nostalgic." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
OSCE ENVOY BACKS RUSSIAN ARMY PULLOUT FROM MOLDOVA.
special envoy of the OSCE secretary-general to Moldova, said at the end
of a visit to Chisinau that Russia should withdraw its army from the
breakaway Dniester region as soon as possible, Reuters and Interfax
reported on 26 May. Gyarmati added that "strict international control"
was needed over all pullout procedures, especially in order to ensure
the safety of the 14th Army's "huge ammunition depots." He noted that
Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed's proposal for defining the role of the 14th
Army as peace-making was "utterly unacceptable" because "peace-making
functions cannot be performed by the armed forces of [just] one
country." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
Voters in the Moldovan autonomous Gagauz region went
to polls on 28 May to elect the region's leader and the 35-member
regional parliament and to decide whether the region's capital should be
Comrat or Ciadar Lunga. ITAR-TASS reported the next day that George
Tabunshik, former first secretary of the Comrat Communist Party district
branch, and Mikhail Kendigelean, chairman of the outgoing parliament,
received most votes for the region's leader and will face each other in
a second round. Thirty-one parliamentarians were elected; the remaining
four seats will be decided in run-offs. Voters opted in favor of Comrat
as the region's capital. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
THREE BULGARIAN INVESTMENT FUNDS FOLD.
International news agencies
reported that three investment funds in the town of Varna folded on 25
May. BAMS, Spireli, and Tako Import-Export have stopped paying dividends
and closed their offices, leaving thousands of shareholders in panic.
Police said that some 25,000 investors lost a total of 10 billion leva
($151.5 million). The owners of the companies are reported to have fled
abroad. The companies are suspected to be pyramid schemes. They offered
a monthly yield of 14-18%, compared with 3-4% in most banks. -- Stefan
Krause , OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO ADOPT COMMON POSITION ON NATO.
National Assembly on 26 May failed to agree to a common position on
cooperation with NATO and possible Bulgarian membership, despite a
consensus reached the previous day by the parliament commissions on
foreign policy and national security, Pari reported. The Socialist
majority reportedly changed its position after Russia confirmed its
objections to an expansion of NATO. The opposition issued a joint
declaration saying Bulgaria has to adhere to its declared foreign-policy
priorities. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA, ITALY FORM WORKING GROUP ON MIGRATION.
Ministers Susanna Agnelli and her Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi,
have agreed to form a working group on migration, Reuters reported on 27
May. Agnelli told reporters that Albania has already taken measures at
its borders with Macedonia and Greece to prevent the entry of illegal
immigrants, mainly Kurds from Turkey and former Yugoslav citizens. The
two ministers also agreed Italy will open a second consulate in the
Albanian city of Vlora, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 28 May. Meanwhile,
Albania's parliament has passed an emigration law that creates a legal
framework for Albanians wishing to work abroad and for foreigners
wishing to live in Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIANS ARRESTED FOR FOUNDING COMMUNIST PARTY.
Four men have been
arrested in Gjirokastra for trying to found a communist party,
international agencies reported. Communist parties, including Enver
Hoxha's Party of Labor of Albania, have been banned since 1992. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.