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Newsline - June 15, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 116, 15 June 1995
GUNMEN ATTACK TOWN IN STAVROPOL.
International and Russian agencies reported on 14 June that a large group of unidentified gunmen attacked the Southern Russian town of Budennovsk, located in Stavropol Krai, about 120 km northwest of the border with Chechnya. The gunmen reportedly launched assaults on the local police headquarters, administrative buildings, and other sites, as well as shooting randomly at town residents. Russian news agencies reported at least 41 deaths and large numbers of wounded. Interfax reported that one group of gunmen had fled the town to the south in buses with hostages, while another group was reported to have barricaded itself in the local hospital with about 60 hostages. According to Russian agency reports, the gunmen had identified themselves as Chechen separatist fighters, and were demanding the cessation of Russian military operations in Chechnya in return for the hostages' release. There has been no independent confirmation of the group's identity. * Scott Parrish

MOSCOW DENOUNCES ATTACK, INTENSIFIES SECURITY MEASURES.
Officials in Moscow reacted harshly to the attack, which they attributed to fighters led by separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, international and Russian agencies reported on 14 June. A government statement denounced the attack as a "monstrous provocation" aimed at "inflaming ethnic hatred," but confidently asserted that "partisan war will not spread into Russia." However, Lt. General Alexander Kulikov, commander of the Russian forces in Chechnya, said it is possible the attackers were "one of the separate groups of bandits trying to destabilize the situation and attract attention," suggesting they were not linked to Dudaev. Dudaev spokesman Khamad Kurbanov denied responsibility for the attack, which he blamed on the Russian government. Moscow placed all federal forces in the North Caucasus on "full battle alert," in anticipation of further attacks, and dispatched reinforcements to the region. Security measures in the Moscow region were also intensified. Interior Minister Viktor Yerin and FSB head Sergei Stepashin flew from Moscow to Budennovsk to take personal command of the anti-terrorist operation, ITAR-TASS reported. * Scott Parrish

YELTSIN ACCEPTS LEBED'S RESIGNATION.
President Yeltsin accepted the resignation of Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, and dismissed him from the armed forces, Western and Russian agencies reported on 14 June. Yeltsin then appointed as his replacement, Maj. Gen. Valery Yevnevich, who until recently has been first deputy commander of the elite First Guards' Army. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had already accepted the resignation, but Yeltsin had to make the final decision as commander in chief of the armed forces. Lebed offered to resign two weeks ago as a protest against plans to downgrade the 14th Army and then withdraw it from Moldova in three years. He claimed that those plans would lead to new bloodshed in the area. Lebed is known to have political ambitions and is expected to join the race for the Russian presidency. * Robert Orttung

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS ELECTORAL LAW COMPROMISE, FOR NOW.
The Federation Council rejected the compromise State Duma electoral law on 14 June by a vote of 76-26, with 13 abstentions, Western and Russian agencies reported. Another 14 votes were needed for it to pass. Later in the day, 77 Federation Council members supported a decision to annul the results of the earlier vote and once again debate and vote on the bill on 15 June, Interfax reported. The Council rejected the bill because its members say allotting half the seats to party lists gives too much representation to Moscow-based political parties, and because it requires only a 25% voter turnout for the elections to be valid. The draft had been approved by the conciliatory commission that included representatives of the president, Duma, and Council. The Duma had already approved the compromise on 9 June. If the Council does not reverse itself, the Duma will try to override the decision with a two-thirds vote and send the bill to Yeltsin, according to Duma deputy Viktor Sheinis. Presidential adviser Georgy Satarov indicated that the president would face a difficult choice if the bill is presented to him. On 15 June, Izvestiya warned that failure to adopt the law would not only threaten the parliamentary elections in December but lead to overall political instability. * Robert Orttung

YELTSIN BEHIND FEDERATION COUNCIL VOTE?.
Federation Council member Yelena Mizulina, who played a large role in working out the compromise on the Duma electoral law, told Interfax that the defeat was organized by the presidential staff which is not interested in holding elections in December as mandated by the constitution. Other speculation in the Moscow press suggests that the delay is an attempt to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in June 1996. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin made this proposal in 1994 following consultations with Yeltsin, Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko, and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. * Robert Orttung

GOVERNMENT ADOPTS PROGRAM TO COMBAT UNEMPLOYMENT.
The Russian government has adopted a program to fight unemployment in 1995, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 14 June. It aims to help 3 million people find work, create 260,000 new jobs, and provide temporary employment for 1.3 million people; it will be financed with 5.6 million rubles ($1.2 billion) from the State Employment Fund. The report cited experts as predicting that the number of officially registered unemployed could increase to 3-4 million by the end of the year (from about 2.2 million now) owing to bankruptcies in various sectors, including light industry, machine building, construction, and the military-industrial complex. The article also warned that successful implementation of the program is threatened by the widespread practice of officials squandering public funds. On 25 May, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov sharply criticized the Federal Employment Service for wasting government money. * Penny Morvant

RUSSIA'S CHOICE SLAMS DRAFT CRIME LAW.
The Russia's Choice faction in the Duma has lashed out at a draft law on organized crime submitted by the Security Committee, saying it "is pervaded by the cynical disregard for basic human rights" and could become "a powerful instrument in creating a police state," Interfax reported on 14 June. Faction leader Yury Rybakov said the draft law, due to receive its second reading in the Duma next week, would give government bodyguard services, the Tax Police, and the Customs Committee the right to create their own services to investigate organized crime and that these would be authorized to stage undercover sting operations and plant agents in government and public bodies as well as criminal groups. Thus, Rybakov contended, "any public or political organization" could find itself "full" of such agents. * Penny Morvant

FINAL QUAKE TOLL PUT AT 1,989.
Vitaly Gomilevsky, the deputy governor of Sakhalin Oblast, announced on 14 June that the final death toll from the earthquake that destroyed Neftegorsk on 28 May was 1,989, Reuters reported. ITAR-TASS quoted First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets as saying that plans to reinforce existing buildings on the island and build stronger structures in the future will be finalized this week. * Penny Morvant

RUSSIANS FINALLY CLOSE DEALS AT PARIS AIR SHOW.
Two Russian space companies have announced that they will be engaging in joint projects with Western partners, according to press releases distributed at the 1995 Paris Air Show. NPO Energomash announced it would form a joint venture with Pratt & Whitney to produce and sell a modified Russian-made rocket engine. RSC Energia, based in Primorsky krai, announced that it would join with Rockwell Aerospace and Daimler-Benz Aerospace to investigate the commercial feasibility of its free-flying space servicing vehicle, called Inspector. It will launch an Inspector to the Mir space station in January 1997 to validate the concept. * Doug Clarke

RUBLE SURGES UP 70 MORE POINTS.
The Russian ruble surged 70 points against the U.S. dollar in 14 June MICEX trading, closing at 4,766 rubles to $1, Russian and Western agencies reported. Since early May, the ruble has risen 364 points, or nearly 7%, representing its strongest climb in two years. Intervention by the Central Bank of Russia to slow the currency's rise has flooded the market with rubles, increasing the money supply. Deputy Economics Minister Sergei Vasiliev told the media that the surging ruble "could undermine efforts to tame inflation". * Thomas Sigel

MICEX HOLDS FIRST AUCTION ON NEW FEDERAL BONDS.
The first auction of new government securities, federal loan bonds, was held at the MICEX on 14 June, Interfax reported. The Central Bank of Russia, acting as an agent of the Finance Ministry, placed 59% of the planned amount of bonds, with an average annual profit rate of 94%, on the market. While foreign investors can own federal loan bonds, some restrictions apply. All transactions must be expedited through any of the 70 official dealers of the Finance Ministry. Federal loan bonds have a circulation period of 378 days and a floating quarterly coupon rate pegged to the profitability rate in the treasury bond market. * Thomas Sigel

PRODUCTION-SHARING LAW PASSED.
The draft law "On Production-Sharing Agreements" which was rejected on 9 June by the State Duma, passed on 14 June, Interfax reported. Once finalized and adopted, the law will remove some of the vagueness concerning jurisdiction over resources, licensing, and taxation for foreign oil companies. A high-ranking official in one of Russia's largest oil companies, YUKOS, told the Petroleum Information Agency that the law will enable companies to sign a $20 billion contract with U.S. Amoco on exploration of the Priobe oil and gas field in Western Siberia. In addition, another 12 major oil and gas projects, suspended due to the gap in legislation, can now be launched. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 116, 15 June 1995
KAZAKHSTAN TO HAVE NEW CONSTITUTION.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has approved the main provisions of a new constitution, Interfax reported on 13 June. The Kazakh president said the current constitution is obsolete and an obstacle to progress, according to VEK. Nazarbaev met with the head of the French Constitutional Court, Roland Dumas, and Kazakh Justice Minister Nagashbai Shaikenov on 12 June to discuss the new constitution. Shaikenov said it met international standards, providing for a democratic state with a strong presidency and a more coherent arrangement for power sharing between government branches. The new parliament will be bicameral, but the head of state will have the power to dissolve it. There will be a provision for impeaching the president. Nazarbaev said there will be no dual citizenship and that Russian will not be made an official language, however the requirement for government officials to be proficient in the Kazakh language has been postponed for 15 years. * Bruce Pannier

KARIMOV ISSUES DECREES ON LIBERALIZING ECONOMY.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov issued a decree aimed at accelerating the transformation of state-owned enterprises into publicly held companies, Interfax reported on 13 June. However, the details of the scheme have not yet been made public. First Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Dzhurabekov told Handelsblatt in May that most small and medium-sized businesses, especially in the service sector, had already been sold to their employees on the basis of long-term interest free loans. The EBRD, however, estimates that no more than 20% of GDP is currently generated by the private sector. Also on 13 June, Karimov issued another decree lifting restrictions on the exchange of the som for foreign currency. Meanwhile, over the past 17 months, Uzbekistan has signed credit agreements worth $900 million with various donor countries and international financial institutions. * Lowell Bezanis and Elizabeth Fuller



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 116, 15 June 1995
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS DRAFT NEW ELECTORAL BILL.
The Legal Policy and Judicial Reform Commission of the Ukrainian parliament has drawn up a new draft electoral law, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 14 June. The bill would provide for half of the 450 deputies to be elected directly by constituencies and the other half by party lists. It would drop the requirement of a minimum voter turnout of 50% plus one vote for elections to be considered valid. It would also abolish the requirement that candidates gain at least 25% of the vote in their constituencies to be declared winners. The changes are aimed at preventing costly run-off elections. Deputies would be elected for four-year terms and would have to be at least 25 years old to run for office. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER REQUESTS MORE PEACEKEEPERS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
Valerii Shmarov has officially requested that the parliament approve sending additional peacekeepers to the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported on 13 June. Ukraine already has 1,200 troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Since Ukraine began participating in peacekeeping operations in 1992, a dozen Ukrainians have been killed, 39 injured, and 58 were recently taken hostage and later released by Bosnian Serbs. The UN has asked Ukraine for an additional 600 troops. Shmarov said there were political "dividends" in sending more troops since it showed the international community that Ukraine cared about peace in Europe. He also noted that it was very good training for Ukraine's armed forces. * Ustina Markus

POLITICAL CRISIS CONTINUES IN BELARUS.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka appealed to the outgoing Belarusian parliament to reduce the parliamentary quorum to two-fifths so that the new parliament can convene, Reuters and Belarusian Radio reported on 14 June. Such a move would put an end to the political crisis that followed the failure last month to elect enough deputies to form a new parliament. The old parliament, whose legal status remains in limbo, failed in two separate votes to reach a decision on transferring power to the new parliament so that it can pass legislation. It decided instead to hold new by-elections in November . * Ustina Markus

BALTIC STATES AND EFTA.
Foreign Ministers Riivo Sinijarv (Estonia), Valdis Birkavs (Latvia), and Povilas Gylys (Lithuania) attended the ministerial meeting of the European Free Trade Association in Bergen, Norway, on 13-14 June, BNS reported. With the transfer of Sweden, Finland, and Austria to the European Union, Baltic States' trade with EFTA's four remaining members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) is significantly smaller. The two blocs are still interested in negotiating free trade agreements. The Baltic ministers also held separate talks with Norwegian leaders. Birkavs noted that the possibility of obtaining natural gas from Norway might be discussed at the meeting of Baltic and Nordic prime ministers in Vilnius on 1 July. * Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA AMENDS LAW ON FOREIGNERS.
The parliament has passed on first reading amendments to the law on foreigners that provide for people who do not apply for residence and work permits by 12 July to be stripped of social welfare benefits and the right to vote in the fall regional elections, BNS reported on 14 June. Sergei Ivanov, chairman of the Russian faction in Estonia's parliament, urged Russian-speakers to hand in their applications as soon as possible. The amendments, however, allow for later registration with a penalty fee. The parliament rejected the faction's proposal to automatically issue permanent resident permits to all people who lived legally in Estonia before 1 July 1990. * Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN-RUSSIAN COOPERATION ON BORDER CROSSINGS.
Latvian border officer Aris Jansons has said that talks in Pitalov with the leadership of the Russian North West border guard region were fruitful, BNS reported on 14 June. He said that Russia seemed more willing to take back illegal refugees who entered Latvia from Russia. The guards discussed ways of shortening the long lines of cars at the border check points of Vientuli, Grebeneva, Terehova, and Paledze. Latvian guards proposed that computers due to be installed at Russian border control points be linked up with computers at Latvian check points to allow immediate reporting about stolen vehicles and persons who do not have permits for entering the other country. Russia proposed joint training exercises for border guards to promote increased exchanges of experience. * Saulius Girnius

UPDATE ON GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER'S VISIT TO POLAND.
Klaus Kinkel, after meeting with President Lech Walesa on 14 June, said he assured the president that Germany would continue to support Poland's aspirations for membership in NATO and the European Union. No agreement was reached on 13 June in Kinkel's talks with Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski on returning German manuscripts from the Prussian Library currently kept at the Jagellonian University in Cracow. Bartoszewski said both countries have to look for complex solutions to cultural goods lost, destroyed, or confiscated during the war, Polish and international agencies reported. * Jakub Karpinski

POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL POWERS.
The Polish parliamentary commission drafting the new constitution has decided to retain many presidential powers granted by the 1992 interim constitution but curb the president's legislative veto powers, Polish and international agencies reported on 14 June. The commission reduced the number of votes needed to override a presidential veto from two-thirds to 50% plus one vote. Presidential spokesman Leszek Spalinski said the ruling coalition parties "are coming to realize they may lose the elections . . . and want to safeguard themselves should this happen." * Jakub Karpinski

CZECH GOVERNMENT REJECTS DEMANDS BY TEACHERS, DOCTORS.
The Czech government on 14 June decreed 10% wage rises for public sector employees, turning down demands by teachers and doctors for larger increases. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said awarding bigger pay increases would fuel inflation, Mlada fronta dnes reported. Education Minister Ivan Pilip argued for teachers to receive more pay, but all other ministers voted for the 10% rise, which is effective from 1 August and will cost the state budget 2.2 billion koruny. Unions representing the teachers and doctors, who have threatened to strike if their demands are not met, rejected the government's decision. Meanwhile, Richard Falbr, head of the trade union association, requested an urgent meeting with Klaus to discuss the rail unions' threat to go on strike, possibly next week, if pay and other demands are not met. * Steve Kettle

CZECH CABINET APPROVES HARD CURRENCY LAW.
The Czech government on 14 June approved a draft law that could make the koruna convertible in the fall, Czech media reported. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the economy was ripe for the freeing of the currency and that the new law will bring the Czech Republic in line with IMF conditions. The parliament will discuss the draft law after the summer recess. If it is passed quickly, it could come into effect on 1 October. Among its provisions are lifting restrictions on individuals buying foreign currency and transferring money abroad. Holding bank accounts in other countries, however, will be subject to the approval of the Central Bank or the Finance Ministry. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PREMIER IN UKRAINE.
Vladimir Meciar on 14 June began a two-day official visit to neighboring Ukraine, accompanied by a delegation of ministers, other top officials, and businessmen. Meciar commented to TASR before his departure that there are no regular political contacts between Slovakia and Ukraine and that bilateral trade has declined. He said that unresolved issues included payments in bilateral trade and possible direct participation by Slovak firms in Ukraine's privatization program. Meanwhile, TASR reports that a delegation from Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia visited Serbia on 14 June to meet with officials from the Serbian Socialist Party, while Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk traveled to Slovenia. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP.
Representatives of three opposition parties--the Christian Democratic Movement, the Democratic Union, and the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL)--met on 13 June to discuss ways to cooperate, Sme reported. SDL Chairman Peter Weiss said his party will hold talks with the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia on 23 June. Meanwhile, a new faction, called the Revival of Social Democracy and led by Boris Zala, has been created within the opposition Social Democratic Party. * Sharon Fisher



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 116, 15 June 1995
SERBS HOLD BACK ON RELEASING LAST HOSTAGES.
The BBC on 15 June reported that Bosnian Serb authorities will release the 26 remaining hostages only if UNPROFOR lets go four Serbs it has detained as "guests." The four were captured on 27 May when UNPROFOR retook the Vrbanja bridge in Sarajevo. The remaining hostages in Serbian hands include 15 UN military observers and 11 Canadian soldiers. Canadian authorities said they feel the hostage crisis is far from over. * Patrick Moore

CLINTON WARNS SARAJEVO AGAINST MILITARY SOLUTION.
Leading authorities from the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, and the UN have expressed alarm at the reported massing of 20,000-30,000 Bosnian government troops north of Sarajevo. President Bill Clinton told Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic on 14 June that "in the end, the military solution is not available to the Bosnian government," the VOA reported. British State Secretary Douglas Hogg said he feared a new Bosnian offensive would set off "a cycle of increasing violence." Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey announced in Vienna, however, that his government had to take "preventive measures" because the Serbs are moving new weapons into the UN exclusion zone around Sarajevo, Reuters said. Sacirbey did not deny reports about the massing of government troops in an apparent attempt to break the siege of the capital, but he argued that the people of Sarajevo have no intention of spending another winter cut off from the world. * Patrick Moore

50 KRAJINA SERBS RETURN TO CROATIA.
The Croatian government has approved requests by 50 Krajina Serb refugees in Bosnia to go back to their homes in western Slavonia, which Croatian forces retook in Operation Blitz on 1-2 May. All will receive Croatian citizenship, as have the 1,600 Serbs who never left, news agencies reported on 14 June. Slobodna Dalmacija noted the following day that a Serbian family left Benkovac in Krajina for Zadar, complaining about "impossible living conditions" in the impoverished rebel Serb territories. The Croatian authorities realize that they must treat the Serbian minority fairly if Zagreb is to enjoy the good graces of its friends and allies abroad. * Patrick Moore

HOW BADLY ARE SANCTIONS HURTING SERBIA?
Nasa Borba on 15 June reported that rump Yugoslav National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic has said that much of the foreign exchange injected over the past twelve months into the rump Yugoslav economy came from Serbian citizens with offshore assets in Cyprus. According to Avramovic, there is still money available from Cyprus and "other parts of Europe." Such revelations raise speculation about the sincerity of rump Yugoslav officials, notably Milosevic, in alleging that international sanctions against Belgrade are causing irreparable harm to the rump Yugoslav economy. * Stan Markotich

NEW RIFT IN SERBIAN OPPOSITION RANKS?
Reuters on 15 June reported that the leaders of two of Serbia's main opposition parties--Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic Party (DS) and Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)--remain adamant that they will not support a nationalist, anti-Milosevic 17 June rally. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party and an alleged war criminal, organized the demonstration. This latest development may signal a rift between the three parties, which formed an electoral alliance in February for upcoming municipal elections. * Stan Markotich

SERBIAN RADICAL LEADER'S PRISON TERM EXTENDED.
A Pristina court has extended the prison term handed down to Seselj in an apparent move to prevent him attending the 17 June rally, Nasa Borba reported. Seselj, together with party deputy chairman Tomislav Nikolic, was arrested in Gnjilan on 2 June after clashes with police. Seselj's original 20-day sentence has been extended to 60 days. Seselj recently criticized Milosevic for supporting the Contact Group's peace plan and called him a traitor. * Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS AGREE TO COOPERATE.
Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia have agreed to meet in Tetovo to "jointly review and present the fundamental questions" on improving the situation of Albanians in Macedonia," MIC reported on 14 June. Agreement was reached at a meeting of representatives of ethnic Albanian political parties and associations. * Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION COMMEMORATES JUNE 1990 EVENTS.
Thousands of Romanians on 14 June marched through downtown Bucharest to mark the fifth anniversary of the violent crackdown on a pro-democracy rally in June 1990. Radio Bucharest reported that the march was staged by the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), the Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions, the PROPACT trade union, and several student associations. CDR Chairman Emil Constantinescu, addressing a crowd of about 10,000 on University Square, said the 1990 government-sponsored violence was intended to crush the democratic opposition. He read out a seven-point program aimed at lifting Romania out of its political and economic crisis. * Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN UNIONS, GOVERNMENT FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT.
Romanian trade union leaders, following several rounds of negotiations with political parties supporting the government, announced on 14 June that no breakthrough has been reached over better pay and work conditions, Radio Bucharest reported. The unions intend to proceed with plans to stage protests over the next two weeks. Union leaders reiterated their distrust of the left-wing cabinet but said they are willing to continue negotiations with the government. * Dan Ionescu

ROMANIA REJECTS MOLDOVAN CRITICISM OF TREATY.
Mircea Geoana, a spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry, told journalists on 14 June that negotiating a basic treaty between Romania and Moldova was "a complex process." Referring to a statement made by Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli, Geoana denied that Romania wanted a special document to be annexed to the treaty denouncing the 1939 Nazi-Soviet secret pact under which Romania lost Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. He announced that talks over the text of the future treaty will soon be resumed in Bucharest. * Dan Ionescu

WATER RESTRICTIONS IN BULGARIAN CAPITAL TO BE LIFTED.
Normal water supplies will resume in Sofia next week following eight months of rationing, Reuters reported on 14 June. The decision was taken by the Sofia municipality after experts reported that 190 million cubic meters of water flowed into the Iskar reservoir over the first five months of this year. Officials said they expect another 300 million cubic meters to flow into the reservoir by the end of 1995, thereby guaranteeing the city's minimum required supplies until March 1996. Under the rationing scheme, monthly water consumption in Sofia fell from an average of 17-18 million cubic meters to some 11 million. Meanwhile, Bulgaria still has not ratified a $98 million loan from the World Bank aimed at improving water supplies and repairing the antiquated pipelines. * Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN CONSTRUCTION TROOPS POPULAR IN AFRICA.
Bulgaria's military construction troops have just finished building a bridge across the Limpopo River between South Africa and Zimbabwe, BTA reported on 12 June. The troops' General Administration has signed contracts for more projects in both countries and is studying additional ones in Swaziland and Mozambique. The agency said the construction troops have created two-thirds of Bulgaria's infrastructure. * Doug Clarke

NAA PRESIDENT SAYS EAST EUROPEAN ENTRY INTO NATO POSSIBLE BY 1998.
Karsten Voigt, president of the North Atlantic Assembly, told a security seminar in Sofia on 13 June that NATO should be ready to accept new members by 1998, international agencies reported. He repeated his assertion made last month at the NAA meeting in Budapest that because NATO expansion was not directed at an external threat, foreign troops or nuclear weapons need not be deployed on new members' territories. Voigt said that Bulgaria's prospects in joining NATO early depended on its own actions. He praised Bulgaria for its efforts in developing positive relations with its neighbors and quickly recognizing the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. * Michael Mihalka

STRONG EARTHQUAKE IN GREECE CLAIMS AT LEAST 10 LIVES.
An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale hit Central Greece on 15 June, international agencies reported. Its epicenter was near the town of Eratini, on the Gulf of Corinth. At least 10 people were killed and some 100 injured. One apartment building and one hotel in Aigion are reported completely destroyed, while the port facilities of Eratini have sunk into the sea. The BBC said that the town of Aigion is the scene of "complete devastation." Damage is also reported in other nearby towns. According to Reuters, ancient Delphi suffered considerable damage, too. Rescue operations are severely hampered by afterquakes and the breakdown of electricity and communications lines. Northwestern Greece was hit by a strong earthquake last month. * Stefan Krause

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave

Copyright(c)1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.




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