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Newsline - May 31, 1995


RUSSIA FINALLY ACCEPTS PARTNERSHIP.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev formally agreed that Russia will participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace at the North Atlantic Council meeting in the Netherlands on 31 May, AFP reported the same day. Doubts about Russian participation remained until the last minute in light of Russia's surprising refusal to do so last December and confusing statements by the Russian presidential aide on international affairs, Dmitry Ryurikov. On 30 May, Ryurikov said Russia's position would depend on the wording of the NATO Council communique. He added that Russia would continue to resist NATO enlargement because it "conforms neither to Russia's interest nor to those of Europe." The final communique of the NATO Council issued on 30 May reads, "Enlargement will be part of a broad European security architecture based on genuine partnership and cooperation in the whole of Europe." NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes added that European security should be founded on cooperation with Russia. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

LEBED REPORTED TO RESIGN.
Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, commander of the 14th Army in the breakaway Transdniester region of Moldova, has submitted his resignation, sources in the Defense Ministry told a Radio Liberty correspondent and Interfax on 30 May. Lebed did not announce his resignation publicly. For several weeks, he has made contradictory statements concerning his intention to quit as a protest against the planned reorganization of the 14th Army. Lebed is a prominent figure in the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), and he has not ruled out running for public office if he leaves the military. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN DECLARES DAY OF MOURNING FOR QUAKE VICTIMS.
President Boris Yeltsin has declared 31 May a day of national mourning for the victims of the earthquake that hit Sakhalin on 27 May, Russian and Western agencies reported. Flags are to be lowered and media encouraged to drop light entertainment shows from their programming. Yeltsin also pledged aid of up to 50 million rubles (about $10,000) for the families of victims of the disaster. As of the evening of 30 May, emergency services had freed 372 people and removed 377 bodies from the rubble of the oil town of Neftegorsk. At least 2,000 are feared to have died in the quake. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

GROMOV FORMS NEW VETERANS' GROUP.
Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, former commander of the 40th Army in Afghanistan, created the Union of Russia's Veteran-Internationalists' Organizations, Interfax reported on 30 May. Nine major veterans' groups, with a total of 60,000 members, joined the union. Gromov called for military reform and the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Chechnya. He said his union would not participate in the upcoming parliamentary campaign, since "none of the political parties is worth joining," but he did not rule out running independently for parliament or president in the future. Gromov ran for Russian vice-president in June 1991 on a ticket with Nikolai Ryzhkov and finished second to Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Rutskoi. In February 1995, following his criticism of the military campaign in Chechnya, Gromov was transferred to the post of chief military expert in the Foreign Ministry. In March, he and his staff were evicted from their Defense Ministry offices. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RYBKIN'S PLANE FROM U.S. WAS CARRYING INTELLIGENCE EQUIPMENT.
Dmitry Biryukov, Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin's press secretary, told a Segodnya reporter the plane Rybkin used on his return from the U.S. was carrying intelligence equipment for the Foreign Intelligence Service, the paper reported on 30 May. Earlier reports said Rybkin had rejected a load of humanitarian aid for orphans because he was carrying furniture for his dacha. Yury Kobaladze, chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service press bureau, did not deny the information and said the equipment was for the Federal Government Communications and Information Agency (FAPSI). Another source said planes carrying official Russian delegations are frequently used to transport intelligence and other secret equipment. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

LANDOWNERS' UNION WILL NOT JOIN AGRARIAN PARTY'S ELECTORAL ASSOCIATION.
The Landowners' Union will not join the Agrarian Party's electoral bloc because the agrarians do not support the development of small business and the private ownership of land, Vladimir Bashmachnikov, chairman of the union's coordinating council, said on 30 May, Interfax reported. The union is currently considering alliances with Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice, Konstantin Borovoi's Party of Economic Freedom, Democratic Russia, and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's electoral bloc. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

KULIKOV AGAIN IN COMMAND IN CHECHNYA.
General Anatoly Kulikov, commander of the Russian Interior Troops, has resumed command of the federal forces in Chechnya, Interfax reported on 30 May. Kulikov had been placed in charge on 1 February but was replaced by Col. Gen. Mikhail Yegorov in mid-April. Kulikov told Interfax that Yegorov had only been "substituting" for him. He said the current operation to oust the militants from the foothills in the southern part of the republic would continue. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

SUSPECTED MURDERER OF DUMA DEPUTY SKOROCHKIN ARRESTED.
A Moscow police official announced on 30 May that a suspect had been arrested in the case of murdered Duma deputy Sergei Skorochkin, NTV reported. He added that money not politics was behind the crime. Skorochkin, a member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, was found shot dead in a wooded area near Moscow on 2 February. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW CREDITS ITSELF FOR SHAPING CONTACT GROUP STANCE ON BOSNIA SITUATION.
Moscow claimed to have succeeded in pressuring its Contact Group partners into pursuing a political settlement of the Bosnian crisis, Interfax reported on 30 May. According to one unnamed official with allegedly close ties to the Russian Foreign Ministry, it was at the Contact Group meeting in The Hague that Russia "beat off" demands for NATO reinforcement of peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and succeeded in having the operation carried out solely by UN forces. Moscow has suggested that a "political settlement" of the Bosnian crisis be arrived at through a "suspension of sanctions against Belgrade in exchange for its recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA REGRETS EU DECISION NOT TO GO AHEAD WITH TRADE ACCORD.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasiefsky expressed regret that the EU foreign ministers decided on 29 May not to proceed with an interim trade accord between the EU and Russia, Interfax reported on 30 May. Afanasiefsky said the failure to go ahead with the trade accord is economically damaging for both sides. The EU foreign ministers want to keep pressure on Moscow to bring the fighting in Chechnya to an end, Reuters reported on 30 May. In a joint statement, the ministers indicated the accord could be implemented in the near future if positive developments, such as a ceasefire, were to occur. The statement added that they will revisit the issue at their 12 June meeting. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA, CHINA DISCUSS CROSS-BORDER CRIME.
Russian and Chinese officials met in Beijing on 30 May to discuss cross-border crime, international agencies reported. The crime rate has risen on both sides of the border since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the introduction of economic reforms in China. Officials say they are particularly worried by gangs who prey on Chinese and Russian traders using the Trans-Siberian railway, Reuters reported. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE REACHES SEVEN-WEEK HIGH.
The Russian ruble rose to a seven-week high on 30 May, breaking through the 5,000 ruble to $1 mark as demand for the Russian currency soared to close at 4,995 rubles to $1 in MICEX trading, Russian and Western agencies reported. Dealers said that signs of industrial output growth in some sectors of the economy along with falling inflation are creating conditions for ruble stability. The ruble has risen steadily from its all-time low of 5,130 rubles to $1 at the end of April as banks continue to dump their dollars. The main reason for the ruble's current strength is that yields on ruble sectors of the money market are higher than those on dollar operations. Bankers expect the ruble to hold its ground for at least several weeks. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



AZERBAIJAN WINS STAMP OF APPROVAL.
Azerbaijan's economic reform program, which involved price and trade liberalization measures in recent months, received approval from Western donor institutions, including the IMF and World Bank, Reuters reported on 29 May. At a meeting of donors and Azerb aijani government officials in Paris, donors pledged to provide an aid package of $430 million for this year. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN TO RECEIVE FOREIGN AID.
International donors have promised to give Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan substantial amounts of aid, Reuters reported. On 30 May, the World Bank announced Kyrgyzstan would receive $680 million in aid this year and next year. This comes on the heels of the 26 May announcement that Kazakhstan would receive more than one billion dollars in aid from various sources. The decision to deliver those sums of money is a reflection of satisfaction with the economic reforms underway in both countries. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIK TALKS YIELD RESULTS.
As the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan came to a close there appeared to be some agreement between the two sides. Tajik government and opposition representatives are focusing on an exchange of prisoners of war, the repatriation of T ajik refugees in Afghanistan, and an extension of the ceasefire. On 30 May, the two sides agreed to exchange lists of PoWs and political prisoners by 25 June. A spokesman for opposition representative Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda told Interfax that efforts had been stepped up to bring the refugees in Afghanistan back to Tajikistan. The opposition also declared its readiness to extend the ceasefire until the end of November, provided the government withdraws its troops from the Gorno-Badakhshan region. Meanwhile, Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani has proposed Kabul as the venue for the next round of talks, according to Interfax. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

SHEVARDNADZE ON CONSTITUTION.
Speaking at an enlarged session of the constitutional commission he heads, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze elaborated on the principles embodied in the draft constitution, Interfax reported on 30 May. He said it is necessary to adopt a constitution as soon as possible. The key elements of the draft include a bicameral parliament and what he called an "asymmetric federation." A 100-member lower house would be elected for a four-year term on a mixed proportional and majority system; the upper house would be composed of representatives of federation members. Shevardnadze said he hoped any future constitution would rely on the "strong parliament-strong president" principle. He said the powers of the center and regions have yet to be formulated. Shevardnadze noted that "Abkhaz will be declared an official language alongside Georgian" and that "Abkhazia, and Adzharia would have their own constitutions, state symbols, legislatures, and systems of executive, judicial, and other power." Referring to South Ossetia, he said the Tskhinvali region would have its own charter. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.




DEPUTY SPEAKER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FACES CHARGES.
Oleksander Tkachenko, first deputy chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, has been charged with interfering in a criminal investigation into his alleged misuse of state hard-currency funds, UNIAR and Interfax-Ukraine reported on 30 May. He is accused of pressuring Deputy Prosecutor-General Olha Kolinko to drop the inquiry and threatening her dismissal on several occasions. Tkachenko allegedly prohibited employees of the Zemlya i Lyudy agricultural association, which he previously headed and which is now under investigation, from answering subpoenas. The conservative member of the Agrarian caucus has spearheaded a leftist campaign in the parliament to remove Prosecutor-General Vladislav Datsiuk and his deputies for what they have described as "politically-motivated" activities. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS AT IMPASSE OVER ENACTMENT OF POLITICAL REFORM LAW.
The Ukrainian parliament on 30 May was unable to reach a settlement to a resolution that would suspend 68 articles of the Ukrainian Constitution and enable the recently approved law on the separation of powers to take effect, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAR reported the same day. Despite a proposal by the Socialist caucus to shelve the articles contradicting the new political reform law until 1 January 1996, the Communists blocked the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution. Eight out of the ten caucuses in the legislature support the enactment of the legislation, which gives Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma greater executive powers to preside over political and economic reforms. The lawmakers announced their readiness to sign a controversial accord with the president allowing him to implement the law without constitutional changes. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ACCUSES WEST OVER SLAVIC INTEGRATION.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Interfax on 30 may that the West was blocking integration among the Slavic republics. The president was referring to Ukraine's failure to move closer to Slavic union during the CIS summit in Minsk on 26 May. He argued that if Ukraine made such a move, it would risk losing IMF credits, just as Belarus had lost credits from the fund. He also said he feared that the newly elected communist and agrarian deputies, who "have close ties with commercial structures and drink heavily," would reorient trends in the parliament. With regard to integration with Russia, Lukashenka defended the leasing of two Belarusian military bases to that country for 25 years, saying this created conditions for Russia to set uniform prices for energy for the two states. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

ISRAELI MILITARY DELEGATION IN ESTONIA.
Israeli State Secretary for Defense Maj. Gen. David Ivry, accompanied by two other brigadier generals and Israeli ambassador Tova Herzl, arrived in Tallinn on 29 May for talks with Estonian officials. The Israeli delegation met with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, Interior Minister Edgar Savisaar, commander-in-chief of Estonian armed forces Aleksander Einseln, Defense Minister Andrus Oovel, and other officials from his ministry, BNS reported. The delegation offered to sell radars to Estonia and train Estonians in using and taking care of previously purchased Israeli weapons. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ON SEA BORDER WITH LATVIA.
Algirdas Brazauskas on 30 May told the Seimas that the memorandum on the sea border, signed by Latvia and Lithuania on 20 May, was not a legal document but only a recommendation, RFE/RL reported. He said Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys and his deputy, Rimantas Sidlauskas, held talks in Riga on 29 May to ensure that Latvia interprets the memorandum the same way. Brazauskas refused to reveal the memorandum's text but noted that it was short. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

NEW CONTROVERSY OVER POLISH TV.
Witold Grabos, a senator from the ruling Democratic Left Alliance and a member of the National Radio and TV Council, has asked Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko to recall Polish TV's Board of Directors. Kolodko represents the Treasury, which, as the legal owner of state TV, has been reviewing the council's yearly reports on Polish TV's finances and programming for 1994. Council President Marek Jurek called Grabos's motion part of "the political campaign against Polish TV" and pointed out that Grabos does not represent the council's view. Zycie Warszawy on 30 May interpreted Grabos's motion as the latest in the series of the Left's attacks on the independence of Polish TV. According to Rzeczpospolita on 31 May, Kolodko accepted the council's financial report for 1994 but rejected two others on Polish TV's programming and management. -- Jakub Karpinski and Ben Slay, OMRI, Inc.

KOHL WANTS COMPROMISE TO IMPROVE CZECH-GERMAN RELATIONS.
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 30 May said he wants to resolve problems in Czech-German relations but expects Prague to match any gesture or concrete step that Bonn takes, Czech media reported. Kohl, who is due to address the Bundestag on 1 June about Germany's relations with countries it occupied during World War II, told a news conference in Bonn that he and his government are committed to drawing a line under the past. But he declined to answer directly whether Germany is planning to compensate Czech victims of Nazism if Prague reciprocates by meeting some of the demands of the Sudeten Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war. "The experiences with France and Poland show that reconciliation is possible only when we mutually make things clear to each other, and we are making it clear that a compromise always means that both sides must modify their position," Kohl said. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

TWO CZECH LEFTIST PARTIES FORM ELECTORAL ALLIANCE.
The Left Bloc and the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) on 30 May formed an alliance for next year's parliamentary elections, Mlada fronta dnes reported the following day. The parties will have equal weight and put up an equal number of candidates, SDL chairman Josef Mecl said. The two parties ran jointly with the Communist Party in the 1992 elections under the banner of the Left Bloc, gaining 35 parliamentary seats. The Communists later pulled out of the coalition, and the Left Bloc now has 24 deputies. Opinion polls show that neither the Left Bloc nor the SDL, individually or in alliance, is likely to win representation in the next parliament, due to be elected in June 1996. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES ECONOMIC POLICY MEMORANDUM.
The Slovak cabinet on 30 May approved a new version of its memorandum on economic policy for the IMF, Sme reported. The document confirms that property valued at 40 billion koruny will be privatized through the coupon program and that at least 60 billion koruny worth of property will be privatized through standard methods by September and another 20 billion by the end of the year. Because of positive developments in foreign currency reserves and the stabilization of the balance of payments, the cabinet decided that Slovakia will not draw another installment of its IMF stand-by loan. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAKIA'S MINORITIES ON FUNDING FOR CULTURE.
Coexistence Deputy Chairman Arpad Duka-Zolyomi, at a press conference on 30 May, said Slovakia lacks a concept for minority policy and that decisions are made on an "ad hoc" basis. He stressed that a constitutional law on the position of minorities should be approved. Duka-Zolyomi criticized in particular a minority issues publication that first appeared on 30 May as a bi-weekly supplement to the pro-government daily Slovenska Republika. He called it "absurd" that of the 58 million koruny in state subsidies to support periodical and non-periodical press for minorities, the Ministry of Culture has committed 27.7 million koruny to finance the supplement. The Hungarian Civic Party (MOS) also expressed concern about the move, calling it "a violation of the state budget law." According to the MOS, the decision was made without consulting minorities. -- Sharon Fisher , OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARIAN TV EMPLOYEES TO STRIKE.
Employees of Hungarian Television on 30 May announced plans for a one-day strike to protest the government's intention to privatize one of the two national channels, Hungarian media reported. A date for the strike has not yet been set. TV employees argue that selling the second channel would trigger extensive layoffs and compromise the public service character of state TV. Hungarian Radio and TV are still controlled by the government in accordance with a 1974 decree. The country's six parliamentary parties have been unable to agree on a post-communist media law paving the way for new nationwide channels. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.




SITUATION AROUND SARAJEVO "OMINOUSLY QUIET."
This is how a UN spokesman described the area surrounding the Bosnian capital on 30 May, the BBC reported the following day. Bosnian Serb forces have taken armored personnel carriers and other vehicles from their UNPROFOR hostages and have removed heavy weapons from UN-monitored storage depots. Serbian troops are also infiltrating into the demilitarized zones around Sarajevo. The Bosnian Serbs let some French hostages return to their bases but captured additional Ukrainians, bringing the total number of hostages of that nationality to 55, Ukrainian Television said. Nasa Borba added that the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague will take up the case of the Serbian artillery attack on Tuzla on 27 May, in which at least 71 died. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

BOSNIAN SERBS SAY STRENGTHENED UNPROFOR MANDATE MEANS WAR.
France continues to press for a new mandate for UN peacekeepers that would allow them to react quickly and on their own initiative, but Bosnian Serb Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha is quoted by Nasa Borba on 31 May as saying that a changed mandate would mean war. He added that the hostages would be released when NATO promises publicly not to launch any new air strikes. The BBC quoted a UN spokesman as saying that such a declaration is unlikely to appear. President of the Bosnian Serb legislature Momcilo Krajisnik told Nasa Borba that he was pleased that the Contact Group on 29 May opted for a peaceful solution to the crisis. The VOA on 31 May noted that the U.S. will provide additional support for UNPROFOR, such as airlifts, but that Washington sees no need at present for its own ground troops to be sent in. A NATO communique issued on 30 May said that the Bosnian Serb leaders are personally responsible for the safety of the hostages. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

WHAT ARE THE NEW BRITISH FORCES DOING IN BOSNIA?
The first of the new British force of 6,000 highly-trained personnel arrived in Split on 30 May, international media reported. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said, however, that they could advance only as far as Gornji Vakuf, in central Bosnia, and not proceed to the British base at Vares north of Sarajevo. Izetbegovic added he feared that the men had not come to deal with the Serbs but rather to cover an evacuation of UNPROFOR, which the Bosnian government opposes. The men arrived wearing UN blue berets. British Premier John Major said that Britain has no intention of leaving Bosnia, but the BBC's Serbian and Croatian Services on 31 May report that doubts are being raised in Britain regarding the veracity of that statement. Vjesnik quotes NATO sources as saying that 40,000 soldiers would be needed to protect a total evacuation of peacekeepers. -- Patrick Moore , OMRI, Inc.

JOVANOVIC SAYS RECOGNITION OF BOSNIA POSSIBLE.
Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic told BBC Television on 31 May that a deal between Belgrade and members of the Contact Group may be in the offing. Such a deal, he said, might foresee Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia in exchange for an easing of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Jovanovic described negotiations between Belgrade and Contact Group officials as "serious and productive." Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 31 May reported that U.S. envoy Robert Frasure is in Belgrade for meetings with ranking rump Yugoslav officials to discuss possible deals, including the possible easing of the fuel embargo against the rump Yugoslavia. Reuters reports that Frasure is slated to "try to enlist [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic's help to win the release of almost 400 UN peacekeepers" held hostage by Bosnian Serb forces. Nasa Borba also reported that Milosevic allegedly referred to Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic as a possible bulwark for the peace process in Bosnia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

OTHER BOSNIAN DEVELOPMENTS.
The Serbs of Bosnia and Krajina have received the blessings of the Serbian Orthodox Church in their moves to set up a still ill-defined common state. Belgrade dailies add on 31 May that the Krajina legislature has approved the introduction of the traditional Nemanjic coat of arms for the new polity as well the old nationalist song "Boze pravde" as its anthem. The Zagreb papers note that the Bosnian Serbs have once again barred UN human rights monitor Tadeusz Mazowiecki from entering their territory. He told a press conference that the differences between Croats and Muslims in Mostar was not that great but that the political will to bridge them was lacking. He added that the most pressing issue there was to set up a joint police force. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

FADIL SULEJMANI RELEASED ON BAIL IN MACEDONIA.
Fadil Sulejmani, dean of the self-proclaimed Albanian-language university in Tetovo, has been released on DM100,000 bail, Flaka reported on 31 May. Sulejmani was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for "inciting resistance"; his case is to be reviewed by an appeals court. He was arrested in connection with a riot that broke out after the police crackdown on his university on 17 February. Flaka also reported that a proposal for new parliamentary procedures omits a sentence contained in the old ones stating that deputies have "the right...to speak in the language of his nationality." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

CONTINUED ATTACKS ON HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY IN ROMANIA.
The Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), in a press release carried by Radio Bucharest on 30 May, called for outlawing the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR). PUNR leader Gheorghe Funar also said the parliament should discuss UDMR activities since December 1989 and lift the immunity of the party's parliamentarians. The PUNR has repeatedly urged that the UDMR be banned, but the latest attack comes in the wake of the party's recent congress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 and 30 May 1995). The PUNR also says Romania's position on the bilateral treaty with Hungary should be reviewed in light of the UDMR's congress and Hungary's possible affiliation with NATO "ahead of Romania." Deputies from both the ruling and opposition parties on 30 May criticized the UDMR in the Chamber of Deputies, with several speakers demanding that the party be outlawed. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES DUMA.
Interfax on 30 May reported that Moldovan parliament chairman Petru Lucinschi said at a news conference in Chisinau that the position taken by the Russian State Duma at the 23 May hearings on the withdrawal of the 14th Army was "crazy." But he added that another debate is likely to be held in which Russian President Boris Yeltsin may support Moldova's position on the pullout. Asked by journalists if the possible (in the meantime, confirmed) resignation of Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed from the command of the 14th Army will "result in chaos in the region." Lucinschi replied that the consequences will be "negative, but not fatal." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

HEAD OF BULGARIAN ENERGY COMMITTEE SACKED.
Nikita Shervashidze on 30 May was dismissed as chairman of the government's Energy Committee, according to Bulgarian newspapers the following day. The official reason was reported to be incompetence, but some papers claim the real reason was that Shervashidze let the private Multigrup conglomerate buy up debts owed to Bulgargaz, the state-run gas company. While such a move is legal under Bulgarian law, Shervashidze apparently failed to organize a debt-buying auction, as is legally required. If the government does not intervene, Multigrup will obtain a stake in Himko and Kremikovtsi, two of Bulgaria's largest industrial exporters. According to Demokratsiya, another reason for Shervashidze's dismissal is that he allowed water to be re-routed to a power plant when it was needed in Sofia, which faces a severe water crisis. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIA CLAMPS DOWN ON SMUGGLING INTO FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
The Albanian Interior Ministry on 30 May said that stricter police controls in border areas have stopped fuel smuggling into the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported the same day. The authorities said that police have made several arrests and confiscated hundreds of tons of fuel. Shipping traffic on the River Buna has reportedly been prohibited, and only fishing and tourist ships are now allowed on Lake Shkoder. Police have also closed ten filling stations. According to Reuters, since mid-May police have seized four tanker trucks, 18 barrels of fuel, 15 floating tankers (four containing 100 tons of fuel each) and some motor-boats. They have also arrested five Montenegrins. Gazeta Shqiptare reported that seven trucks were seized on 26 May, including 35,000 liters of fuel, and ten people arrested. -- Fabian Schmidt , OMRI, Inc. TURKISH SPY NABBED IN DAGESTAN? Dagestani counterintelligence detained Isak Kasap, a Turkish national, on charges of spying, Interfax reported on 29 May. Kasap was detained while attempting to leave Chechnya where he was allegedly collecting intelligence. The suspect was carrying photo and video materials, filled notebooks, a large sum of money, and papers issued under the name Isak Kondir. Posing as a journalist, Kasap and his compatriot, identified as Kamil Ozturk, confessed to spying for Turkey's national intelligence service, Interfax reported. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.



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