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Newsline - June 20, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 119, 20 June 1995
BUDENNOVSK HOSTAGES RELEASED, GUNMEN DEPART FOR CHECHNYA.
On the afternoon of 19 June, after two days of intense negotiations, Chechen fighters led by Shamil Basaev left the Budennovsk hospital and departed for Chechnya in a convoy of buses, Western and Russian agencies reported. Over 764 hostages were simultaneously freed by the Chechen gunmen. Under the agreement reached between Basaev and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the gunmen are guaranteed safe passage back to Chechnya. As "insurance," about 150 volunteers including eight parliamentary deputies, are accompanying Basaev and his 73 fighters. Basaev has promised that the volunteers will be released upon arrival in Chechnya. While en route, the convoy was denied entry to North Ossetia, and re-routed through Dagestan, delaying its arrival, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 June. * Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-CHECHEN NEGOTIATIONS OPEN.
As Basaev's convoy headed for Chechnya, Russian-Chechen talks began in Grozny, international and Russian agencies reported on 19 June. OSCE official Szandar Mezaros, acting as a mediator in the talks, told Russian television the talks had touched on various "military issues" related to a ceasefire. Mezaros added that he was "very pleased" with the course of the talks, an opinion echoed by Usman Imaev, former Procurator-General in the Dudaev government and head of the Chechen delegation. Commenting on the talks in Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told Russian TV that it was very important to keep the negotiation process going in order to "end hostilities," and allow a "return to normalcy" in Chechnya. However, Chernomyrdin did not promise to withdraw federal troops from the breakaway republic, and emphasized that any settlement must fit "within the framework of the constitution." * Scott Parrish

DUMA CONSIDERS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
The outcome of the Duma's 21 June vote of no confidence in the government depends on the actions of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Radio Rossii reported 19 June. "The chances of passing a vote of no confidence in the government are highest since the election of this parliament," because the authorities cannot ensure citizens' security, Boris Fedorov, leader of Forward, Russia! said. Fedorov believes that such a vote would weaken Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia bloc. However, Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the Security Committee, said many factions of the Duma might not demand the removal of the entire government, but just some of the key ministers. The Duma's first no-confidence vote does not obligate the president to act. But if it repeats the vote within three months, the president must either sack his government or dissolve the parliament. * Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN'S ROLE IN HOSTAGE CRISIS PRAISED . . .
By assuming responsibility for the fate of Russian hostages in Budennovsk and apparently securing their release, Chernomyrdin has supplanted Yeltsin as the central figure during the crisis, Russian and Western media reported on 19 June. Chernomyrdin kept his composure during a series of telephone conversations with Chechen leader Shamil Basaev, some of them broadcast on national television. A commentator for Ekho Moskvy praised Chernomyrdin's "decisive, public and moral" actions, arguing that the prime minister's skill contrasted with Yeltsin's poor handling of the crisis. Meanwhile, Yeltsin's chief of staff Sergei Filatov emphasized that the president authorized Chernomyrdin's negotiations. * Laura Belin

. . . AND CRITICIZED.
Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Yerin is to blame for allowing Basaev and his troops to get out of Chechnya and into Budennovsk, according to Izvestiya on 20 June. The newspaper also accuses the government of storming and shelling the hospital despite the fact that hundreds of innocent people were inside. The storming of the hospital echoed the government's methods in Chechnya where it "shoots first and asks questions later" and pays the price in human lives, according to the newspaper. It also criticized the "crude demagoguery" of Chernomyrdin's conversations with Basaev, which were broadcast on Russian television. It concluded that "the Russian state demonstrates impotence when it thoughtlessly uses force to destroy its own citizens." Meanwhile, Boris Fedorov, the leader of Forward, Russia!, accused the prime minister of using the crisis to improve the electoral prospects of his bloc Our Home Is Russia. * Robert Orttung

CHARGES TO BE FILED IN JOURNALIST'S DEATH IN BUDENNOVSK.
Military prosecutors in Pyatigorsk will charge one soldier with violating regulations on handling firearms in the 17 June shooting death of Russian journalist Natalya Alyakina in Budennovsk, Russian and Western agencies reported on 19 June. Alyakina, a correspondent for the German magazine Focus, was shot in her car shortly after Interior Ministry soldiers checked and approved her documents. * Laura Belin

SECURITY IN MOSCOW TIGHTENED.
Security at the Russian government building in Moscow has been tightened due to the terrorist act in Budennovsk, Interfax reported on 19 June. The reinforced militia cordons surrounding the government building have been strengthened with a fully armed combat vehicle located behind the fence of the cabinet's residence. Meanwhile, all traffic police posts on the highway encircling Moscow have been reinforced by special purpose police armed with automatic rifles. Interfax reported that practically all trucks with non-Moscow license plates are being checked, especially those from the North Caucasus. * Thomas Sigel

RUSSIAN APPRAISAL OF G-7 MEETING.
Russia "fully participated" in economic discussions that concerned it at the G-7 summit in Halifax, a high-ranking Russian diplomat told Interfax on 19 June. Pavel Smirnov, director of the Economic Cooperation Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, added that the Halifax meeting made progress on several issues important to Russia. In their final communiqué, the G-7 leaders supported the idea of restructuring Russian debt, which Smirnov said will facilitate negotiations on a detailed accord this fall. On 20 June, Izvestiya criticized President Yeltsin for choosing to go to Halifax during the Budennovsk crisis, and derided claims by the presidential administration that the "Seven" had been transformed into "Seven and a Half" as humiliating. * Scott Parrish

FOREST FIRES BLAZE IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST.
Fires have been blazing over more than 15,000 hectares of Siberian taiga in 63 separate parts of the Khabarovsk oblast on 19 June,
Itar-Tass reported. More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the fires. The cause of the fires is unknown. * Thomas Sigel

RUBLE CONTINUES RISE AGAINST DOLLAR.
The Russian ruble surged another 75 points against the U.S. dollar, despite the hostage crisis in Budennovsk, closing at 4,590 rubles to $1 on 19 June MICEX trading, Russian and Western agencies reported. Dealers said they expected the ruble to keep rising as banks dump dollars to cash in profits and invest in high-yielding domestic securities. Meanwhile, in a 18 June interview with Segodnya, Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov said the ruble, which began rising in May, cannot continue its present course as long as inflation remains high. Inflation was at 7.9% a month in May and is not expected to fall significantly in June. Davydov warned that rising production costs will price Russian exports out of international markets. He also said the government and Central Bank should be more active in stopping the dollar's fall. * Thomas Sigel

INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTRY GAS STATION BLOWN UP.
A gas station belonging to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs was blown up in Moscow on 19 June, Radio Moscow reported. Sources do not rule out the possibility of a terrorist act. * Thomas Sigel

UNEMPLOYMENT EXCEEDS 2 MILLION IN MAY.
There were more than 2 million registered unemployed in Russia last month according to the Labor Ministry. This is a 70% increase compared to May 1994 and equals 2.4% of the labor force, Russian Radio reported on 19 June. Meanwhile, the June issue of Delovoi Express reported that the areas with the highest unemployment rates are in the Ivanovo, Yaroslavl, Pskov, Kostroma, and Vladimir oblasts, where the figures ranges from 6% to 9.5% of the labor force. Moscow still has the lowest at 0.5%. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 119, 20 June 1995
OPPOSITION DEMANDS POSTPONEMENT OF ARMENIAN ELECTIONS.
Some 15,000 people attended a 16 June demonstration in Erevan organized by 10 Armenian opposition parties to demand the immediate registration of political parties and candidates who have been refused permission to run in the parliamentary elections on 5 July, Noyan Tapan reported on 19 June. The demonstrators also demanded that the elections be postponed in order to enable those candidates to organize pre-election campaigns. Another demonstration was scheduled for 20 June to call for the resignation of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan if the demands are not met. * Liz Fuller

SHODMON YUSUF COMEBACK IN TAJIKISTAN?
The chairman of the coordinating center of the opposition Democratic Party of Tajikistan in CIS states, Azam Afzali, told Interfax on 19 June the party may soon be registered in Tajikistan and expects to hold a founding conference in Dushanbe in the near future. According to Afzali, Shodmon Yusuf is expected to attend, having been personally invited back to Tajikistan by President Imomali Rakhmonov. However, Yusuf was reportedly relieved of his duties as party chairman at a June members' meeting in Almaty after he welcomed Rakhmonov's election as president in November 1994. It is unclear whether this development means the party has split into two separate factions operating under the same name. * Lowell Bezanis and Liz Fuller

Aliyev FIRES ADVISER FOR DUPLICITY.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has sacked state councilor Gabil Guseinli for alleged duplicity and grave errors, Interfax reported on 19 June. Hitherto one of Aliev's staunchest supporters, Guseinli, whose Democratic Independence Party had intended to form a coalition for the November elections with Aliev's Yeni Azerbaycan party, reportedly rejected Aliev's rationale for dismissing him and accused the president of establishing "a regime of political hypocrisy." * Liz Fuller

SHEVARDNADZE IN ISRAEL.
On 19 June, the second day of his three-day state visit to Israel, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze held talks with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and signed a series of cooperation agreements on telecommunication, postal services, agriculture, and cultural affairs, AFP reported. Shevardnadze also announced that Georgia will open an embassy in Tel Aviv by the end of 1995. Relations between the two countries cooled in 1993 after Israel rejected Shevardnadze's request to purchase arms for use in the Abkhaz conflict. * Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN-TURKMEN ACCORDS RATIFIED.
The Turkmen parliament ratified 12 bilateral treaties signed in mid-May by Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, Interfax reported on 16 June. The Russian State Duma has frequently lagged behind the Turkmen parliament in ratifying such agreements. Meanwhile, parliament passed a law which bans the employment of close relatives as direct subordinates, Interfax reported the same day. Niyazov is reported to have repeatedly criticized officials for practicing nepotism. * Lowell Bezanis

CIS


LUKASHENKA IN ST. PETERSBURG.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived in St. Petersburg on 19 June at the invitation of Mayor Anatoly Sobchak to sign agreements on trade and economic cooperation, Radio Rossii and Belarusian radio reported. The agreements are of considerable importance for Belarus as the country has received some 45 vital industrial components from the Russian city but since 1992, the supply has almost dried up. * Ustina Markus



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 119, 20 June 1995
GONCZ REELECTED HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT.
The Hungarian parliament on 19 June elected 73-year-old Arpad Goncz to a second five-year term as president, international media reported. Backed by the ruling socialist-liberal coalition, Goncz won the necessary two-thirds majority, receiving 259 votes, compared with only 76 for his challenger, Ferenc Madl. Goncz is not a member of a political party. * Sharon Fisher

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON CRIMEA.
Leonid Kuchma, during a visit to the Black Sea peninsula, said the statement he with Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the recent Sochi summit, has ended any disputes between the two countries over the status of Crimea, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 19 June. He said now that Russia has reaffirmed its respect for Ukraine's territorial integrity, the Crimean legislature should turn its attention to establishing a legislative framework for economic reforms. The Ukrainian leader met with Crimean Tatar leaders to discuss ways to increase financing for their repatriation from other CIS countries. In other news, Kuchma announced that Ukraine has begun to develop its gold deposits, Reuters reported on 19 June. Geologists have claimed that the deposits, located near Kirovohrad, could yield 15 tons of gold annually. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE REDUCES DEBT TO GAZPROM.
Ukrainian Radio on 19 June reported that in the first two weeks of June, Ukraine succeeded in reducing its 1995 gas debt to Russia to $405 million. Ukrhazprom paid $65.9 million in hard currency, built housing units for Russian workers, sent goods to Russia, and provided various services, Interfax reported. Since the beginning of the year, Ukraine has paid Russia $280 million in currency for gas supplies and provided goods and services totaling $330 million. The payments were made possible in part because Ukrainians have reduced their gas consumption. * Ustina Markus

UKRAINE'S DEFENSE MINISTRY ON TROOPS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
Ukrainian Radio on 19 June reported that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, responding to a UN request for additional support in the former Yugoslavia, has said it is prepared to send an engineering battalion in March 1996 to the region. Ukraine plans to send an additional 120 troops to Zagreb from a helicopter unit and three MI-8 and two MI-26 helicopters at the end of this month. Hryhorii Telnyuk, deputy head of the training department, said the number of draft evasions was down 21% this year, compared with the same period in 1995, while accidents in the armed forces were down 37%. He added that the armed forces have been unable to resolve the problem of maintaining servicemen's living standards, which continue to decline. * Ustina Markus

NEW CITIZENS' GROUP MONITORS UKRAINIAN MEDIA.
A citizens' group has been set up in Kiev to monitor the Ukrainian media, UNIAR reported on 19 June. Leaders of the new group-- including Vitalii Karpenko, editor of Vechirnyi Kyiv, and Pavlo Movchan, head of the Prosvita cultural association--have accused Ukrainian Television and Radio of politically motivated censorship and unfair distribution of air time. They have also said there is a lack of quality Ukrainian-language programming and print media. The group has set up an analytical center to follow trends and collect information and make recommendations to the president, Ukrainian Radio and TV, and the ministries of information, culture, and education. * Chrystyna Lapychak

GENOCIDE TRIAL BEGINS IN LATVIA.
Former Latvian NKVD chief Alfons Noviks went on trial in Riga on 20 June on charges of "genocide and crimes against humanity," Reuters reported. The 87-year old Noviks is accused of organizing mass killings and the deportation of more than 100,000 Latvians to Siberia. The trial is the first genocide case in the Baltic States. If convicted, Noviks could be sentenced to life imprisonment. * Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA HOSTS JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES.
Military exercises, called Amber Hope 95 and involving soldiers from Lithuania, Poland, and Denmark, were held at the Rukla military base from 14-18 June, BNS reported on 19 June. The main purpose of the exercises was to train troops for UN peacekeeping operations. Participants were instructed in manning observation and control posts, checking the flow of refugees, passing mine fields, and shooting exercises. The exercises were part of Lithuania's individual plan for the NATO Partnership for Peace program. They will be followed up with other military exercises in the fall with US troops. * Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT DEFENDS PRIEST ACCUSED OF ANTI-SEMITISM.
Lech Walesa, in an interview with Polish Television on 19 June, said the press misinterpreted a comment made by a priest during a sermon at St. Brigida's Church in Gdansk. The priest had said that Poles "can no longer tolerate governments made up of people who have not declared whether they come from Moscow or from Israel." The The press has accused him of anti-Semitism. Walesa, who was present at the sermon, said "many things can be interpreted maliciously." The secretary of the Roman Catholic Episcopate apologized to those whom the priest's remarks had offended. Meanwhile, the Jewish Student Union in Wroclaw has filed a complaint with the Gdansk Prosecutor's Office about the priest's inciting ethnic hatred, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 20 June. * Jakub Karpinski

PEPSICO INCREASES INVESTMENT IN POLAND.
PepsiCo Executive Vice President Robert Dettmer on 19 June said his company intends to double its investment in Poland to $500 million by the year 2000. PepsiCo, which began operating in Poland in 1992, employs a work force of some 5,500. Overall U.S. investment in Poland amounts to $1.7 billion, with the U.S. first on the list of foreign investors, Western agencies reported on 19 June. * Jakub Karpinski

CZECH OPPOSITION PARTY CONTINUES RISE IN POLLS.
More than one-fifth of Czechs would vote for the Social Democrats (CSSD) if elections were held now, according to an opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research and published on 20 June. The poll put support for the CSSD at 22%, a rise of 3.5% over the past month. The gap between the CSSD and the dominant ruling party, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), closed further to 5%. The ODS received 27%, an increase of 2% since May. Another governing party, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), for the first time fell below the 5% barrier needed for parliamentary representation, dropping to 4.5% from 6.5%. The CSSD has almost doubled its support this year, benefiting from a rash of labor and social disputes. Czech railworkers are due to strike on 21 June, after rail unions and Transport Minister Jan Strasky on 19 June failed to reach agreement on pay demands. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PREMIER MEETS WITH ETHNIC HUNGARIANS.
Vladimir Meciar met with the chairmen of the three Hungarian parties represented in the Slovak parliament on 19 June, Slovak media reported. The meeting, the first between Meciar and the Hungarian parties since 1992, focused on issues involving the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, internal political developments, and preparations for the ratification of the framework agreement on the protection of minority rights and of the Slovak-Hungarian basic treaty. Hungarian Civic Party Chairman Laszlo Nagy said the Hungarian deputies supported the ratification of both documents, while Meciar said he is convinced the basic treaty will be ratified "even if no one from the opposition supports it." Areas of continued dispute include the question of "alternative" (bilingual) education, financing minority culture, and a draft law on state language. Meciar argued that the language law is about the Slovak language and therefore "interferes neither with the rights to use minority languages nor with constitutional rights." But Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Bela Bugar dismissed the need for the law. * Sharon Fisher

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN SLOVAKIA.
Dimitar Pavlov arrived in Slovakia on 19 June for a three-day official visit, TASR reported. He met with his Slovak counterpart, Jan Sitek. The two ministers signed an agreement on cooperation in the areas of military reform, research, and legislation. Pavlov is also scheduled to meet with Slovak President Michal Kovac, Premier Vladimir Meciar, and other top officials. * Sharon Fisher



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 119, 20 June 1995
SERBS REJECT SARAJEVO'S CEASE-FIRE OFFER.
The Bosnian Serbs have turned down an offer by President Alija Izetbegovic on 18 June to end the government's current offensive. The condition was that the Serbs respect the 20-km-wide heavy weapons exclusion zone around Sarajevo, the BBC and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on 20 June. The International Herald Tribune added that UN sources have confirmed Serbian claims that the strategic Pale-Lukavica road remains in Serbian hands. The Serbs have launched a counter-offensive and announced that victory would be theirs. * Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN CROATS BACK ALLIANCE WITH MUSLIMS.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 20 June quotes Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak as saying his side will back the government forces and continue the offensive to stop the blockade of Sarajevo "to the end." A top Bosnian Croat defense official told Vecernji list that the two sides will continue to stage coordinated actions to defeat the common Serbian enemy. Meanwhile in northern Bosnia, the Serbs have stepped up artillery pressure on the Croat-held territories on the Bosnian side of the Sava River. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, for his part, has begun a visit to Australia, which has large émigré communities from throughout the former Yugoslavia. Nasa Borba reported his arrival touched off noisy protests by the local Serbs, but the Zagreb dailies note that Australian Croats gave him a rousing welcome. * Patrick Moore

RUSSIAN EMISSARY MAKES LOW-KEY VISIT TO BELGRADE AND PALE.
Former Russian special envoy Vitaly Churkin has visited Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in a previously unannounced visit. Western and Serbian media on 20 June noted that the official purpose of the trip was simply to "exchange ideas" and that Churkin brought along no new proposals. France, meanwhile, has urged the new EU negotiator, former Swedish Prime Minister Karl Bildt, to make fresh efforts to relaunch the peace process. It said the release of the last hostages provides a good opportunity for such an initiative. The International Herald Tribune notes that the Bosnian government suspects the West of wanting to make a quick peace deal with the Serbs that would give the Serbs far more than offered by the existing peace plan. * Patrick Moore

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELGRADE.
Georgi Pirinski on 19 June met with his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Vladislav Jovanovic, and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Demokratsiya reported the following day. After the meetings, Pirinski confirmed the Bulgarian government's position that a peaceful solution to the Yugoslav crisis can be reached only by political means and a gradual lifting of UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. While he stressed that Bulgaria is not violating the embargo, he said he agrees with Milosevic on strengthening "bilateral political and economic relations." Pirinski is slated to meet with other ranking officials on 20 June, including rump Yugoslav Premier Radoje Kontic. * Stefan Krause and Stan Markotich

SERBIAN GUARD SHOOTS ALBANIAN CHILD IN KOSOVO.
A Serbian guard shot and killed a 10-year-old ethnic Albanian in Hani i Elezit, near the Macedonian border, while he was herding sheep, Kosova Daily Report said on 19 June. The child reportedly walked into the courtyard of the army barracks, about 70 meters from his home, to round up a stray sheep. The army has not officially admitted any involvement in the incident but informed the boy's family that his body is in Pristina's main hospital. The incident brings the number of Albanians killed in Kosovo by Serbian police and military in 1995 to 17. More than 100 Albanians have been killed in Kosovo since the abolition of Kosovar autonomy in 1989. * Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT IN PARIS.
Nasa Borba on 20 June reported that Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov is in Paris together with an official Macedonian delegation. Gligorov is slated to address a plenary session of the Western European Union, meeting from 19-22 June in the French capital. Observers believe this is a sign that Macedonia may soon be granted associate membership in the European defense body. Meanwhile, Macedonian Premier Branko Crvenkovski returned from a state visit to Turkey, where he met with Premier Tansu Ciller and President Suleyman Demirel. * Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN U.S.
Gheorghe Tinca on 19 June started a four-day visit to the United States, Radio Bucharest reports. Tinca is scheduled to meet with U.S. Defense Department Secretary William Perry and other officials. He is expected to sign a confidentiality agreement, which is seen as an important step in developing bilateral military ties, especially in the technological field. In an interview with Radio Bucharest before leaving for Washington, Tinca said his agenda included contacts with big firms in the defense industry. He mentioned Bell Helicopter, which plans to assemble some 100 Cobra attack helicopters in Romania. Bell and Romania on 15 June signed a letter of intent at the Paris air show. The deal will help Romania acquire modern military technology and thus pave the way for integration into NATO. * Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS RESUME TALKS WITH RULING COALITION.
The National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions-The Brotherhood, the National Labor Bloc, and the Alfa Cartel on 19 June resumed talks with the four parties backing the current left-wing cabinet over a future social pact. Radio Bucharest reported that no agreement was reached. A new round of talks, scheduled for 21 June, is expected to pave the way for the signing of the accord the next day. * Dan Ionescu

RUSSIAN GENERAL ON HUNGER STRIKE IN SUPPORT OF LEBED.
Maj. Gen. Yury Popov on 19 June started a hunger strike to protest the departure of Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed as commander of the 14th Russian Army based in Tiraspol, Interfax reported. Popov--who is the head of the 59th Division, a leading unit within the 14th Army--said he wanted the law to be observed in connection with Lebed's replacement. He also said he feared that the changes at the top will be followed by purges among the 14th Army officer corps. Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 16 June reiterated Moscow's intention to downgrade the 14th Army, citing financial reasons and a new defense doctrine. * Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS LAND LAW.
The Constitutional Court on 19 June rejected an amendment to the land restitution law as unconstitutional, Bulgarian Radio reported the same day. The law, which restricts the rights of land owners to freely sell their plots and favors the establishment of agricultural cooperatives, was adopted by the Socialist majority on 14 April and vetoed by President Zhelyu Zhelev two weeks later. After parliament overruled his veto on 10 May, Zhelev asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the amendment. Constitutional Court Judge Georgi Markov said the law contradicts the inviolability of property guaranteed by the constitution. * Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN ATHENS.
Zhan Videnov arrived in Athens on 19 June on a two-day official visit, international agencies reported the same day. He met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, and Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias to discuss the planned trans-Balkan oil pipeline. Also on the agenda were the opening of new border checkpoints, the easing of visa requirements for Bulgarians, and increased Greek investment in Bulgaria. Both premiers stressed that relations between the two countries were good. Papandreou said the planned pipeline is of greatest strategic economic importance for Greece. An agreement between Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece to construct a pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis, in Greece, was signed in Moscow on 15 June. The pipeline, which will have a daily capacity of 600,000 barrels, will give Russia access to Western markets without having to ship its oil through the Bosporus. * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN COURT REJECTS APPEAL BY SOCIALIST LEADER.
A court in Tepelena on 19 June rejected an appeal by Socialist Party leader and former Prime Minister Fatos Nano to review his trial. Nano was sentenced to 12 years in prison in April 1994 on charges of misappropriating state funds and forging documents. His sentence has been reduced in various amnesties and under the new penal code, which took effect on 1 June. Defense lawyers argued that Nano should receive a milder sentence under the new penal code and be freed until then. Nano has claimed that the trial is politically motivated, Populli PO reported on 20 June. * Fabian Schmidt

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave

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



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