Accessibility links

Newsline - June 6, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
ELECTION WATCHDOG ORGANIZATION CREATED.
Politicians from several democratic parties and movements founded the watchdog organization "For Honest Elections," Russian TV reported on 5 June. Yabloko member Viktor Sheinis said the group will set up its own network of election observers to supervise vote counting, so that the official results of the December parliamentary elections reflect the actual voting. Yegor Gaidar of Russia's Democratic Choice, Telman Gdlyan of the People's Party of Russia, Vasily Lipitsky of the Civic Union, Irina Khakamada of Common Cause, and Gleb Yakunin of Democratic Russia also helped found the watchdog group. * Laura Belin

NEW CRACKDOWN ON INFORMATION FROM CHECHNYA?
One American and two French journalists who spent three weeks reporting from separatist-held areas in southern Chechnya were arrested while crossing the border into Dagestan, AFP reported on 5 June. Dagestani Interior Ministry officials reportedly told the journalists they would be turned over to Russian military authorities. Meanwhile, on 3 June security officers at Moscow's Sheremetevo airport searched Democratic Union leader Valeriya Novodvorskaya and Party of Economic Freedom chairman Konstantin Borovoi. Novodvorskaya and Borovoi were on their way to address the European Parliament in Luxembourg, and the airport officers seized a videocassette allegedly containing evidence of human rights violations in Chechnya. On 5 June, the Glasnost Protection Fund denounced the government's "illegal" attempts to control information about the Chechen events, Interfax reported. * Laura Belin

NO LETTER FROM LEBED AT PRESIDENT'S OFFICE.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev and national security adviser Yury Bakhtin said no letter of resignation or personal message from 14th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed had reached the president's headquarters, Interfax reported on 5 June. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev signed Lebed's resignation letter on 1 June, and Defense Ministry officials said they had forwarded the letter to the president's office. Unnamed Kremlin sources told Interfax that President Yeltsin needs more time to decide whether to accept Lebed's resignation. * Laura Belin

CONCILIATORY COMMISSION FAILS TO COMPROMISE ON DUMA ELECTORAL LAW.
The conciliatory commission failed to agree to provisions of the Duma electoral law in its meeting on 5 June, Interfax reported. The Federation Council representatives agreed with the Duma proposal to maintain the current proportion of 225 deputies elected by party list and 225 elected from single-mandate districts, but called for a number of amendments restricting the party lists. The upper house suggested that no region be allowed more than 30% of the slots on the party list (to limit the number of candidates from Moscow) and that deputies running simultaneously on the party list and in single-mandate districts be required to gather signatures in support of their candidacy. Candidates in the single-member districts must collect signatures from 1% of the voters in their district. The Duma representatives agreed to the latter proposal but refused to introduce a regional limit on party list candidates. The commission will resume its deliberations on 8 June. * Robert Orttung

RUSSIA WANTS UN SANCTIONS ON IRAQ LIFTED.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz met with Russian officials in Moscow on 5 June, Interfax and Western agencies reported. Following a meeting between Aziz and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, a high-ranking Russian diplomat said the session produced "very positive and encouraging results." He added that Russia is waiting "impatiently" for UN sanctions to be lifted. In the same vein, Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov noted that Russia is ready to launch $10 billion in energy projects in Iraq as soon as sanctions are removed. The Kozyrev-Aziz meeting focused on the forthcoming report of the UN commission for the disarmament of Iraq, scheduled to be issued on 19 June. If the report indicates that Iraq is making progress in compliance with UN resolutions, Russia will urge the softening and eventual removal of sanctions, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk. * Scott Parrish

RUSSIA UNEASY ABOUT POSSIBLE NATO ACTION IN BOSNIA.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin declared on 5 June that Russia opposes NATO playing an "independent role" in the Bosnian conflict, Interfax reported. He added that the UN should retain responsibility for operations in Bosnia. Karasin's statement was the latest Russian reaction to NATO's recent decision to create a "rapid reaction force" to protect UN peacekeepers in Bosnia. On the same day, a Russian diplomat at the UN told Interfax that any decision to send NATO troops to Bosnia to help the peacekeepers would have to be approved by the UN Security Council. He also warned that Russia might use its veto power to block such a move * Scott Parrish

DOLLAR DROPS TO TWO MONTH LOW AGAINST RUBLE.
The U.S. dollar fell to 4,900 rubles to $1 in MICEX trading on 5 June, its lowest level against the ruble since March, Russian and Western agencies reported. Russia's Central Bank bought $60 million to help close a gap between supply and demand. Traders indicated that the dollar drop probably left the ruble overvalued, given high Russian inflation rates, but the government appeared determined to talk positively about the currency. Earlier this year the dollar rose consistently against the ruble, breaking the 5,000 mark in April and reaching 5,130 rubles on 29 April. After holding steady for about a week, the dollar began slipping and fell back below the 5,000 level on 30 May. * Thomas Sigel

CHUBAIS ANNOUNCES SIGNS OF ECONOMIC STABILIZATION.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais told regional officials from Siberia and the Far East that Russia's economy is on the verge of stabilizing, Russian and Western agencies reported on 5 June. The minister attributed the improvement to decreasing inflation, rising currency reserves in the Central Bank of Russia, and decreasing interest rates. He also noted growth in industrial output. Meanwhile, appearing on NTV on 5 June, Central Bank Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova said the significant rise in the value of the ruble is due to the government's economic policies. She denied claims that the bank was intervening to support the ruble. * Thomas Sigel

SOCIAL PROBLEMS REMAIN.
While the government has been upbeat about progress in financial stabilization during the first five months of the year, it acknowledges that serious problems remain in the social sphere. According to Rossiiskaya gazeta on 6 June, real incomes fell by almost 5% this year in comparison with the first five months of 1994. Only 38.4% of total personal income came from wages, compared with 52.3% from January to May 1994. The average monthly wage ($78 in April 1995) was 11.3 times the minimum wage. The situation was worst for workers paid from the state budget, whose wages were often late as well as low. The richest 10% of the population receive one third of total income, and earn 13.3 times what the poorest 10% earned (compared with 12.4 times during the same period last year.) About 45 million people live in families whose average per capita income is below the poverty line. The number of officially registered unemployed in May was 2.2 million, or 2.4% of the working population. * Penny Morvant

CHUBAIS ON STOCK MARKET FRAUD.
First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais said on 5 June that the government intends to submit to the Duma amendments to the Criminal Code introducing criminal responsibility for stock market fraud. Offenders will be liable to between three and eight years in prison, Interfax reported. Chubais also said the government wants to increase the powers of the Commission on Securities and the Stock Market. * Penny Morvant



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
REGIONAL CONFERENCE TO OPEN IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The Central Asiatic Conference on Regional Cooperation is scheduled to begin on 12 June at the Issyk-Kul resort area in eastern Kyrgyzstan, according to Interfax. The agenda is scheduled to include discussions on increasing economic cooperation and preventing political and military conflicts. Participants will include representatives of the Russian Federation, Iran, Turkey, and UNESCO, as well as the Central Asian republics Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, Slovo Kyrgyzstana reported. * Bruce Pannier

TAJIK GOVERNMENT SATISFIED WITH ALMATY TALKS.
First Deputy Prime Minister Makhmadsaid Ubaidullaiyev, the leader of the Tajik government's delegation at the Almaty talks, said he is pleased with the results of the latest round of negotiations between his government and the opposition, especially on the issue of the repatriation of refugees from Afghanistan. However, he added that "serious disagreements" persist in other areas. Ubaidullaiyev reiterated the government's unwillingness to share power with the opposition and called the opposition's demand for the removal of troops from the Gorno-Badakhshan region "unacceptable." He added, "We have been increasing and will be increasing our presence in Gorno-Badakhshan," according to Interfax. On 20 July the two sides will begin exchanging prisoners of war, on a one-for-one basis. For "humanitarian" reasons, the government has suspended the death sentences of some opposition members until the peace talks are concluded. * Bruce Pannier

SECURITY COOPERATION BETWEEN AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA.
Azerbaijani National Security Minister Namig Abbasov and Russian Federal Security Service director Sergei Stepashin signed a cooperation agreement on 1 June, Interfax reported. The document provides for both countries to cooperate in personnel training, fighting organized crime and drug trafficking, and the establishment of a joint data bank. Abbasov praised Russia's arrest of Nusret Bugdanov, allegedly a close associate of Suret Huseinov, for complicity in an attempted overthrow of the present government of Azerbaijan; he also hoped the new agreement will be instrumental in extraditing former top Azerbaijani officials residing in Moscow. However, Stepashin said Russia's prosecutor general must issue warrants before any further arrests can be made. * Lowell Bezanis

Aliyev TRANSFORMED?
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev is reported to have told Stepashin that he hoped the security agreement signed in Baku would contribute to bilateral cooperation with Russia in every field, Interfax reported on 5 June. Praising the CIS security cooperation agreement recently signed in Georgia, Aliyev called for enhanced intra-CIS security cooperation and indicated that those who viewed the CIS as a non-starter were mistaken. He also said the CIS should evolve into a "kind of state," according to Interfax. The agreement itself and Aliev's comments represent a shift in Baku's earlier reluctant stance on CIS integration efforts and Russian regional and security interests. * Lowell Bezanis

RAKHMONOV, KARIMOV TANGLE?
Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his Tajik counterpart, Imomali Rakhmonov, were involved in "intense polemics" at the 26 May Minsk CIS summit, Segodnya reported on 30 May. Karimov called on Rakhmonov to show greater flexibility to reach a compromise with the opposition and said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was of the same opinion. According to Segodnya, Karimov told Rakhmonov "you should share your authority." Rakhmonov defended the constitutional nature of his rule and rejected outside interference. He said he had a "tough talk" with Tajik opposition leader Abdullah Nuri in Kabul last month and insinuated that mercenaries from Uzbekistan were fighting on the side of the rebels, according to Segodnya. * Lowell Bezanis

CENTRAL ASIA, JAPAN AND GAS.
Uzbek officials and the director of Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation, Sinroku Morohase, held talks on the construction of a natural gas pipeline that will run through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, Interfax reported on 5 June. Construction is expected to begin in the year 2000; the total estimated cost of the project--which will move 18 billion cubic meters of gas per year initially--is $9.5 billion. Morohase held talks with Uzbekistan's deputy prime ministers Kayum Khakkulov and Utkur Sultanov and President Karimov on the pipeline project and joint Uzbek-Japanese projects to modernize the Almalyk mining combine in the Tashkent province. He told Karimov Japan holds a positive view of Uzbekistan's "special" reform path. * Lowell Bezanis

CIS


BLACK SEA FLEET APPARENTLY SHRINKNG.
The headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet on 5 June gave Interfax a breakdown of the fleet's strength, indicating that the fleet had lost nearly one-third of its most powerful assets during the past year. The inventory of all combat ships and support vessels totaled 840 compared with 894 counted in April 1994. In both years, the vast majority of the fleet was made up of support vessels and small, auxiliary ships. * Doug Clarke



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES ANOTHER DECREE ON REFERENDUM.
Leonid Kuchma has issued a decree reconfirming his intent to hold a legally non-binding plebiscite on confidence in himself and the parliament on 28 June, Radio Ukraine reported on 5 June. The referendum is aimed at ending a protracted dispute between the president and the legislature over the law on the separation of powers, which would enable Kuchma to implement economic reforms. Kuchma said the parliament's 31 May veto of his recent decree on the poll was direct and unconstitutional interference in his authority. He added that the poll did not contravene the constitution, as claimed by the divided legislature. Kuchma also said the poll would be financed from the government's reserve fund, not from the state budget. But in a conciliatory gesture, the Ukrainian leader also sent an appeal to the parliament to support a proposal that lawmakers review a draft of the so-called "constitutional agreement" allowing the political reform law to take effect. * Chrystyna Lapychak

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS IN UKRAINE.
Kuchma told farmers in Cherkasy over the weekend that Ukraine's new currency, the hryvna, will be introduced this fall, perhaps as early as September, Reuters and Ukrainian Television reported on 5 June. He noted that the precise date will be determined once Ukraine establishes a $1.5 billion stabilization fund to back the currency. He also said the fact that the karbovanets has stabilized at around 150,000 karbovantsi to $1 may allow Ukraine to proceed with monetary reform. Interfax-Ukraine reported on 5 June that the monthly inflation rate dropped to 4.6% in May. Inflation has fallen steadily this year since reaching a high of 21.2% in January. * Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR ABOLITION OF LOCAL COUNCILS.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said both local government and the economy need to be reformed, Interfax reported 5 June. He said that when a new parliament is elected, he will ask it to amend legislation on local government to abolish village, town, and district councils. Lukashenka added that if the newly elected deputies are opposed to such a move, he will alter the territorial division of the country by decree. He also said that not one factory in Belarus has been privatized without his consent since he was elected. * Chrystyna Lapychak

ESTONIA, IRELAND DISCUSS VISA-FREE TRAVEL.
Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 5 June discussed with Irish Ambassador to Estonia Daithi O'Ceallaigh establishing visa-free travel between Estonia and Ireland, BNS reported. O'Ceallaigh, who lives in Helsinki, is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Riiva Sinijarv and Minister for European Affairs Endel Lippmaa during his five-day visit to Estonia. O'Ceallaigh displayed interest in Estonia's relations with Russia, particularly the border issue, and in the implementation of market economy reforms. * Saulius Girnius

SWEDEN LIKELY TO RETURN TAMIL REFUGEES TO LITHUANIA.
Bjorn Weibo, head of the Swedish immigration board, said on 4 June that 29 Tamil refugees picked up the previous day on a 10-meter yacht adrift off the Swedish coast were likely to be returned to Lithuania, Western agencies reported. Swedish police arrested two Lithuanians on the yacht and charged them with smuggling illegal immigrants. Sweden is reluctant to return other refugees to Lithuania, fearing that they will be sent back to their native countries, where they risk persecution. Sweden, however, does not consider Tamils to be at risk in Sri Lanka and may try to discourage other refugees by sending them back to Lithuania. * Saulius Girnius

POSTCOMMUNISTS GAIN SUPPORT IN POLAND.
The postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) is gaining popularity. In an opinion poll conducted in mid-May and published by Gazeta Wyborcza on 6 June, the SLD received 25% of the vote. Other political parties have seen their popularity dwindle. The Freedom Union won 9%, the Polish Peasant Party 8%, the Labor Union 7%, and Solidarity 6%. If elections had been held in mid-May and the electoral law had remained unchanged, the SLD would have won a majority of 240 seats in the 460-seat Sejm. * Jakub Karpinski

UPDATE ON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IN POLAND.
Aleksander Hall, leader of the Conservative Party, which is supporting Supreme Court President Adam Strzembosz's candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections, has called on other right-of-center candidates to withdraw from the race because, he says, they are only dividing the post-Solidarity electorate, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 6 June. Strzembosz, like incumbent President Lech Walesa, has received about 8% of the vote in recent opinion polls. Some right-of-center parties regard Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz as a possible candidate, but only if Walesa withdraws from the race. * Jakub Karpinski

INFLATION IN POLAND.
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, president of the Polish National Bank, said on 5 June that the government's wage- and price-curbing measures should keep the annual inflation rate this year to about 20%, Western agencies reported. Gazeta Wyborcza commented, however, that this prospect is becoming "more and more unreal." * Jakub Karpinski

CZECH POLICE RAID "ECSTASY" FACTORY.
Police last week raided a secret drugs laboratory on the outskirts of Prague and confiscated materials that could have been used to produce "ecstasy" tablets worth 300 million koruny, Czech media reported on 6 June. Five Czechs and three Dutch citizens were arrested and some 700 kilos of raw materials, sufficient to manufacture 35 million "ecstasy" tablets, were seized, The raid, which followed 18 months of surveillance, was the largest drugs bust since the Czech Republic gained independence, according to police spokesmen. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT ON COLLECTIVE MINORITY RIGHTS.
Michal Kovac on 5 June told OSCE High Commissioner for Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel that Slovakia will not grant collective rights to ethnic minorities, Narodna Obroda reported the next day. The president noted that Slovakia wants instead to "stabilize and strengthen individual rights." Van der Stoel is on a three-day visit to Slovakia to discuss the Slovak-Hungarian treaty and minority issues. Kovac assured the high commissioner that he would oppose any efforts to forcibly assimilate not only ethnic Hungarians but also Slovaks who live in regions where ethnic Hungarians constitute a majority. Both politicians agreed that the fears of Hungarian minority representatives in Slovakia are occasionally "exaggerated." Van der Stoel also met with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, to whom he expressed his satisfaction over the signing of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. * Jiri Pehe



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
KARADZIC HAS "NO IMMEDIATE PLANS" TO FREE HOSTAGES.
The foreign and defense ministers of Greece met in Pale with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on 5 June to persuade him to release the more than 250 remaining hostages. Greece is one of the Serbs' few friends, and it regards Serbia as an important market and an ally in the regional balance of power. Also present was Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's security chief, Jovica Stanisic, who said later that Karadzic "responded positively" to the appeals, news agencies reported. The VOA on 6 June, however, quoted the Bosnian Serb leader as saying he has "no immediate plans" to free his captives. * Patrick Moore

BALKAN POKER GAME CONTINUES.
The Greek ministers are holding talks with Milosevic in Belgrade on 6 June, international media reported. The BBC said the previous day that Western diplomats in the Serbian capital now feel that Milosevic has no real interest in the hostage question, except as a means of obtaining more concessions from the international community over the lifting of sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro. The VOA quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as warning against cutting deals with the Serbian strongman, saying the only way to deal with the Serbs is with firmness. * Patrick Moore

RAPID REACTION FORCE FACES HURDLES.
The RRF proposed by Western defense chiefs still needs to have its role and command structure clarified. It must also overcome Russian objections to an "independent" NATO presence in Bosnia, because Moscow can veto the project in the Security Council and is determined to maintain a check on the Western presence in the former Yugoslavia. Vjesnik on 6 June quoted Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic as telling Sarajevans not to expect much from the new force because "these troops are not coming to defend us." Meanwhile in Washington, officials have no firm evidence that the pilot shot down by the Serbs on 2 June is still alive. President Clinton defended his Bosnian policy on CNN, saying that it is not as successful as he would have liked but that it is responsible for the decrease in fatalities in the embattled republic. The VOA quoted Vice President Al Gore as stating that the sending of U.S. ground troops to Bosnia "is not going to happen." International media added that 3,500 troops and 100 helicopters are moving from U.S. bases in Germany to Italy for a possible rescue operation for UN peacekeepers. * Patrick Moore

CROATS CAN SHELL VITAL SERBIAN ROAD.
Nasa Borba on 6 June reported that Croatian artillery in the Dinara range can now hit the key supply road linking Knin with Bosnian Serb territory via Grahovo. Krajina leaders have threatened to shell Dalmatian cities in response. Vjesnik noted that Bosnian Serbs hit Mostar the previous day with heavy artillery. Reuters quoted a UN spokesman as saying the Croatian advance in recent days has put the Serbs into "a panic mobilization." Zagreb has promised the UN that it will not invade the area outright, but it appears clear that Croatia is following up on last month's victory in western Slavonia and taking advantage of the current Bosnian crisis. Nasa Borba reported that Milosevic has expressed concern over the latest developments to UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi. * Patrick Moore

U.S. REPORT ON GREEK SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS.
A State Department report published on 5 June suggests that companies in Greece have promoted the breaking of international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, AFP and Reuters reported. But it also states that officials in Athens have not been linked to sanctions-breaking activities. "Although we cannot confirm allegations of complicity by the Greek government in the evasion of UN sanctions, there are areas of concern regarding Greek enforcement of sanctions," a State Department official said. A report on Greece's enforcement of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia was requested by the U.S. Congress prior to the release of U.S. military aid to Athens. * Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN STRIKE UPDATE.
All electricity power plants in Romania continued to operate on 5 June, despite the strike by some 37,000 utility workers, Radio Bucharest reported. Their functioning was secured by the last pre-strike shift, which at some plants worked for more than 30 hours. Romanian law forbids a shift in a power plant to leave before the next one takes over. Victor Romert, director of the state electricity company Renel, told Radio Bucharest that the company was seeking a solution whereby workers would receive a "reasonable" wage increase, presumably meaning less than the 20% demanded by the strikers. Pavel Todoran, leader of the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions-The Brotherhood, said the unions plan protest marches and a big rally in Bucharest on 14 June. * Dan Ionescu

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN IN BUCHAREST.
A Slovak parliamentary delegation headed by Ivan Gasparovic was received by Adrian Nastase, chairman of Romania's Chamber of Deputies, on 5 June. Radio Bucharest reported that the talks focused on the bilateral treaty recently signed by Slovakia and Hungary. That document includes an explicit reference to Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201 on ethnic minorities. Gasparovic told his hosts that Slovakia clarified its stand on Hungary's interpretation of the recommendation in an annex to the treaty. Nastase said Romania might accept a similar statement in its bilateral treaty with Hungary if the articles providing for territorial autonomy and collective rights for minorities were approved. In a related development, Senator Adrian Paunescu of the Socialist Labor Party threatened to quit parliamentary life if the government accepted Recommendation No. 1201. * Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES YELTSIN'S SPECIAL ENVOY.
Mircea Snegur on 5 June received Vladlen Vasev, a special envoy of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Interfax reported. The two men discussed the situation in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region. Snegur is scheduled to meet with the Dniester leadership on 7 June to discuss a draft law defining the region's special status within the Republic of Moldova. Vasev will participate in those negotiations. Meanwhile, Interfax announced that Snegur will meet with Yeltsin in Moscow in late June. The summit is expected to focus on ways to implement a Moldovan-Russian agreement on the 14th Russian Army's withdrawal from eastern Moldova, initialed in October 1994. * Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA FAVORS NEW BALKAN OIL PIPELINE.
The Bulgarian Construction Ministry is in favor of a new pipeline to help transport oil from former Soviet republics to Italy via the Balkans. A feasibility study for the pipeline is being prepared, Reuters reported on 5 June. The crude would be carried from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan by tanker to Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas and then transported to Italy's Adriatic port of Brindisi via Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania. Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece are also considering carrying oil by tanker from Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk to Burgas and then pumping it overland to Greece. * Fabian Schmidt

SOUTH AFRICA AND BULGARIA SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.
South Africa and Bulgaria on 5 June signed three cooperation pacts, including an agreement to expand relations in art, sport, and science. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski is on a three-day visit to South Africa at the invitation of South African Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo, Reuters reported on 5 June. * Fabian Schmidt

PROSECUTOR WANTS THREE-YEAR PRISON TERM FOR ALBANIAN DICTATOR'S SON.
An Albanian prosecutor on 5 June requested that Ilir Hoxha be sentenced to three years in jail for calling the Albanian government "a pack of vandals," AFP reported the same day. The youngest son of former communist dictator Enver Hoxha is charged with inciting hatred against various groups of people and calling for the use of violence against them. The charges follow remarks Hoxha made in an interview with the newspaper Modeste in April. AFP quotes the prosecutor as saying that "Hoxha has rekindled old passions in a bid to cause political chaos and call for vengeance." Hoxha reportedly has sought to justify his comments by saying "It is my duty to defend my father." * Fabian Schmidt

GREEK, TURKISH NAVY MANEUVERS.
The Greek navy began annual maneuvers on 5 June, AFP reported the same day. The five-day exercise in the Aegean Sea involves ships and submarines backed up by air and ground units. The Turkish navy will also hold maneuvers from 7-22 June in other parts of the Aegean Sea. Relations between Greece and Turkey deteriorated following the Greek parliament's recent decision to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which allows Greece to extend its territorial waters. Meanwhile, for the first time since 1974, both countries will be taking part together in a NATO exercise. Other countries participating in the maneuvers, which will take place from 7-13 June in the Black Sea, are Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, and Romania. * Fabian Schmidt

ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE IN GREECE.
Greece recorded a "strong" off-shore earthquake early on 5 June in the Ionian Sea, AFP reported the same day. The quake reached 4.8 on the Richter scale and is the latest in a series of tremors over the past few weeks. It took place near the island of Lefkas and was also felt on the islands of Corfu, Zante, and Cephalonia. There were no reports of casualties or damage. A big quake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale caused widespread damage in northwestern Greece on 13 May. * Fabian Schmidt

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



XS
SM
MD
LG