Accessibility links

Newsline - June 22, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 121, 22 June 1995
DUMA VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT.
By a vote of 241-70, with 20 members abstaining, the State Duma passed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's government, Russian agencies reported. Although the vote was scheduled earlier over the government's economic policies, the events in southern Russia influenced the outcome. Only 226 votes were necessary for the motion to succeed. Additional measures recommending the dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, and Federal Security Service director Sergei Stepashin failed, primarily because Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party did not support them. The vote does not require the president to take action. He will ignore the Duma vote since "he has no grounds for not having confidence in the government," presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev told Russian Public Television on 21 June. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, who abstained, called the vote "a very dangerous move." A second successful vote would require the president to sack his government or disband the Duma. However, few believe the Duma will take another confidence vote in the government. * Robert Orttung

PARTY BREAKDOWN OF NO CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Sergei Glazev's Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) called for the no-confidence vote, saying it was "the only constitutional measure available to the State Duma to overcome the paralysis and lack of will in the executive branch," Russian TV reported. The Communist Party, the Agrarian Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Yabloko group, and New Regional Policy formed an alliance with the DPR to denounce the government, Interfax reported. Russia's Choice, Women of Russia, the Party of Russian Unity and Concord, and Stability supported the government or abstained. Russia's Choice's leader Yegor Gaidar said the government "had done its best" to safeguard the lives of the hostages in Budennovsk, NTV reported. However, he called for the ministers responsible for the use of military force in Chechnya to be punished. * Robert Orttung

RUSSIAN ULTIMATUM AT CHECHEN TALKS.
At the Russian-Chechen negotiations in Grozny, Col. Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, demanded that the Chechen delegates denounce terrorism and hand over Shamil Basaev to federal authorities, Russian and international agencies reported. Otherwise, Kulikov said, Russian forces would reopen hostilities. A spokesman for Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin contradicted Kulikov later on 21 June, stating that although the Russian government did demand the extradition of Basaev, it would not use the issue as "a pretext for resuming armed activities." Nevertheless, the Chechen delegation later issued a statement which "denounced all acts of terrorism" and promised to assist federal authorities in the "search and arrest" of wanted terrorists. The statement stopped short of promising to hand over Basaev, who is reportedly in hiding in the Vedeno region of Chechnya. * Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TALKS YIELD PRELIMINARY ACCORD.
Following the Chechen concessions, the third day of negotiations in Grozny ended with the signing of a protocol on military issues, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 June. Under the agreement, both sides will simultaneously issue decrees for a ceasefire, which will be monitored by a commission consisting of Russians, Chechens, local clergy, and members of the OSCE mission in Chechnya. The accord also calls for an exchange of all prisoners held by both sides. The protocol calls for the disengagement of Russian and Chechen forces, and outlines procedures for disarming Chechen military formations and withdrawing most federal troops from the republic. If successfully implemented, the accord could serve as the basis of an overall peace settlement. * Scott Parrish

MOSCOW MILITIA BOLSTERED BY 16,600 TROOPS.
On 21 June, Interfax reported that 16,600 army and interior troops had been assigned to help the Moscow militia protect the capital. Some 4,000 elite paratroopers from the 98th Guards Airborne Division from Ivanovo Oblast and the 106th Guards Airborne Division from Tula were included, as well as students and cadets from military training establishments. Col. Gen. Yevgeny Podkolzin was quoted by Komsomolskaya pravda as saying the troops will be patrolling the streets along with the militia and guarding establishments of state importance. * Doug Clarke

YELTSIN SUBMITS START-II FOR RATIFICATION.
President Yeltsin has submitted the START-II Treaty to the Duma for ratification, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 June. The agreement, signed by Yeltsin and President George Bush in January 1993, calls for deep reductions in the nuclear arsenals of both the U.S. and Russia. The treaty faces uncertain prospects in the Duma, where many deputies have criticized it. * Scott Parrish

DUMA ATTEMPTS TO AMEND CONSTITUTION . . .
The Duma passed three proposed constitutional amendments that would expand its power over cabinet appointments, Interfax reported on 21 June. Under the draft laws, crucial appointments, including deputy prime ministers, foreign, defense, and interior ministers, and heads of the Foreign Intelligence Service and the Federal Security Service, would be subject to approval by the Duma. Currently the president only needs the Duma's consent to appoint the prime minister. The Duma would also gain the power to pass binding votes of no confidence in individual cabinet ministers. Duma deputy Oleg Rumyantsev, who helped draft the bills, said the amendments would bring Russia from "absolutist rule" to a "normal" form of government. The Duma proposals are unlikely to complete the arduous amendment process. Constitutional amendments must also be approved by three-fourths of the Federation Council and passed by two-thirds of the legislatures of Russia's 89 regions. * Laura Belin

. . . AND ADOPT REFERENDUM RULES.
A draft constitutional law passed by the Duma in its second reading would limit the president's authority to call a referendum, Interfax reported on 21 June. Under the draft law, a presidential decree calling a referendum would have to be approved by the Constitutional Court and a referendum could not be held simultaneously with parliamentary, presidential, or local elections, during a nationwide state of emergency, or within three months after a state of emergency is lifted. Russia's constitution was passed by a controversial referendum on 12 December 1993, the same day as parliamentary elections and less than three months after Yeltsin dissolved the parliament. The law must be approved by a three-fourths majority in the Federation Council to become effective. * Laura Belin

COMMUNISTS CALL FOR YELTSIN'S IMPEACHMENT.
The presidium of the Communist Party's Central Committee has called on its Duma faction to start collecting the 150 signatures necessary to begin the impeachment process against President Yeltsin, Interfax reported on 21 June. Impeachment ultimately requires a two-thirds vote in each house and is extremely unlikely. * Robert Orttung

YELTSIN SIGNS DUMA ELECTION LAW.
President Yeltsin signed the law on elections to the Duma on 21 June, Radio Rossii reported. Yeltsin had vetoed an earlier version of the law on 23 May. The current version contains many of the provisions Yeltsin opposed, particularly a provision requiring that half of the Duma members be elected on party lists. * Robert Orttung

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA SEEKS INVESTORS.
In a special edition of Nezavisimaya gazeta published on 21 June, the newspaper's board appealed to private investors to save the newspaper, which suspended publication on 24 May. Nezavisimaya gazeta editor-in-chief Vitaly Tretyakov will lead the joint stock company, which needs investments of at least $4 million in order to be registered. Other members of the organizing committee include former Central Bank chief Viktor Gerashchenko, NTV Director General Igor Malashenko, and head of the "Vox populi" opinion polling service Boris Grushin. * Laura Belin

DAVYDOV ON FOREIGN DEBTS, INVESTMENTS.
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov detailed the structure of Russian foreign debt in an interview with Rossiiskaya gazeta published on 21 June. He said Russia has a $130 billion debt, of which it owes $36 billion to the Western countries of the Paris Club and $26 billion to the London Club group of private banks. Additional debts are owed to other countries and private suppliers. He said Third World countries owe Russia 90 billion rubles which at the old USSR bank rate of 0.67 rubles to $1 would have amounted to $148 billion, but the debtors reject that figure. Davydov added that Russia has received $2.5 billion in foreign direct investment, 40% of which is from the U.S. He expects more investment when Russia's debt is restructured, which he hopes will happen by the end of 1995. * Michael Mihalka

GRACHEV WANTS CONTROL OVER ALL MILITARY FORCES.
Criticizing the clumsy efforts to free the hostages in Budennovsk, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on 21 June indicated that he would renew his call for centralizing all military forces under his ministry. Interfax reported that he would propose at the next Security Council meeting that all departments with armed forces--such as the border troops and troops from the Interior and Emergencies ministries, as well as special sub-units of the security service--be placed under his ministry. He proposed that the people leading those other ministries be made deputy defense ministers. Grachev made similar appeals in July and September 1994. * Doug Clarke

YELTSIN MEETS WITH FINANCIAL-INDUSTRIAL GROUPS.
President Yeltsin met with the heads of domestic financial-industrial groups to discuss the legal basis for this new form of holding company, on 21 June, Russian TV reported. Meanwhile, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said the government should more actively promote the creation of financial-industrial groups in the country, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported. He said those groups deserve a place in the Russian economy and noted that 15 such groups exist in Russia today and another 20 will probably be established by the end of 1995. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 121, 22 June 1995
TAJIK PRESIDENT TAKES MEASURES TO SUPPORT NATIONAL CURRENCY.
Describing the progress of the newly introduced Tajik ruble as unsatisfactory, President Imomali Rakhmonov, instructed his government to do whatever it takes to guarantee supply of food stuffs, light industries, and other branches of the economy within a week, Interfax reported. Industrial enterprises are expected to fill the commodity market with foodstuffs and essentials according to tight deadlines. He said the country can begin exporting only after the domestic market has been satisfied. The Tajik ruble became the national currency on 15 May, but the Russian ruble is still circulating in the country. * Bruce Pannier

CIS

CFE LIMITATIONS AND CRIMEA.
Ukraine and Russia are to complete the division of the Black Sea Fleet ground forces by 17 November, Interfax reported on 21 June. As the flank restrictions in the CFE treaty apply to Crimea, Russian Foreign Ministry officials expect Russia will be forced to remove its share of the ground units and their equipment from the peninsula. Since the marines must be deployed by water, the Russians side can only re-deploy its Black Sea Fleet troops in Kaliningrad if Moscow does not wish to re-juggle equipment and personnel in the Leningrad and North Caucasus military districts which are also covered by flank restrictions. The possibility that the Russian share of ground units may be totally disbanded has not been ruled out. To date, the armament of the ground forces of the fleet have not been divided between Russia and Ukraine. * Ustina Markus



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 121, 22 June 1995

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DISMISSES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL.
Ukrainian lawmakers voted in a closed session on 21 June to sack Prosecutor-General Vladislav Datsyuk after accusing him of failing to deal with serious crime, Reuters and Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Leonid Borodych, chairman of the legislature's Law and Order Commission, said nearly half of the more than 250,000 serious crimes reported last year remain unsolved. Datsuk denied the allegations, saying the move was part of a campaign by parliamentary leaders to halt ongoing investigations into high-level corruption. He warned deputies against stopping inquiries into corruption among officials. In other news, President Leonid Kuchma issued a decree on setting up a presidential committee for legislative initiatives, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 21 June. Presidential legal adviser Fedir Burchak was appointed to head the committee, which will advise Kuchma about decrees on economic reforms if legislation is lacking. * Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUS MOVES TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH TURKEY . . .
Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko has told the Turkish envoy in Minsk that improving relations with Turkey is of great importance to Belarus, Reuters reported on 21 June. Belarus in December 1994 expelled two Turkish diplomats for alleged spying. Ankara, denying that the two were spies, retaliated by freezing a $100 million loan and pulling out of talks on transport, security, and aviation projects. Syanko said Minsk regretted the incident. Akbel welcomed the statement and agreed that relations should develop between the two countries. * Ustina Markus

. . . AND WILL SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT WITH CHINA.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng arrived in Belarus on 21 June to sign a pact on technical cooperation in the military sphere and visit a defense factory and an air force base, Reuters reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Li that the two countries have similar ideologies so it is easy to conduct talks with China. * Doug Clarke

U.S., ESTONIA DEVELOP DEFENSE COOPERATION.
U.S. Defense Department Undersecretary Walter Slacombe, on a visit to Estonia from 20-21 June, held talks with President Lennart Meri, Defense Minister Andrus Oovel, and armed forces commander Maj. Gen. Aleksander Einseln, BNS reported. Slacombe and Oovel signed a memorandum on defense and military cooperation. The memorandum provides for meetings of a bilateral defense cooperation working group and of middle-level defense officials. The U.S. reaffirmed its pledge to help Estonia as a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Slacombe flew to Riga on 21 June and will visit Vilnius on 23 June. * Saulius Girnius

LATVIA'S BANKA BALTIJA DECLARED INSOLVENT.
The Bank of Latvia on 21 June began an insolvency action against Banka Baltija, BNS reported. Uldis Osis, an adviser to Prime Minister Maris Gailis, who was appointed head of a working group assessing the banking crisis, said the bank's shareholders failed to propose a suitable program to rehabilitate the bank. Osis noted that court could review its decision and declare the bank solvent again if it managed to resume operations. The Latvian Finance Ministry sent a letter to the European Union on 19 June asking if it could apply 45 million ECU ($60 million) of unused G-24 credit money to pay out deposits in Banka Baltija. * Saulius Girnius

DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN LITHUANIA'S PRESIDENT AND MAYORS.
Algirdas Brazauskas, in his weekly radio interview on 19 June, accused the right-of-center opposition that won the local elections on 25 March, of illegitimately replacing most of the lower echelon of local governments, RFE/RL reported on 21 June. The leaders of the local councils several days earlier asked Brazauskas not to sign amendments to the law on land that was passed by the Seimas and would transfer the right of land ownership from the city and raion councils to regional administrators. Local authorities from Lithuania are meeting on 22 June to establish an Association of Municipalities that will help represent their interests. * Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION PARTIES.
Lech Walesa on 21 June met with the caucuses of the Confederation for an Independent Poland, Solidarity, and the Non-Party Bloc for Supporting Reforms. He said he will declare his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections only if a broad post-Solidarity coalition is created. Walesa, who recently vetoed the bill on Polish Radio and TV, encouraged the opposition parties to uphold his veto in the parliament. He announced the parliament's dissolution if the ruling left-wing coalition breaks the law, Polish media reported on 22 June. * Jakub Karpinski

JARUZELSKI ATTACKER RECEIVES SUSPENDED PRISON SENTENCE.
Stanislaw Helski, a farmer who in October 1994 injured General Wojciech Jaruzelski with a stone, has received a two-year suspended prison sentence and been ordered to pay about $80 to a children's hospital. Helski attacked General Jaruzelski in a book shop where he was signing copies of a book explaining why he introduced martial law in 1981, Polish and international media reported. * Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PARLIAMENT ABOLISHES CLEARING SYSTEM WITH SLOVAKIA.
The Czech parliament on 21 June voted to abolish the clearing system that has regulated trade payments with Slovakia since February 1993. The government hopes that the abolition will go into effect on 1 October. The Czechs have run up a large deficit under the system, which provides for bilateral trade to be conducted in local currencies. In the future, all payments will be made in hard currency. Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik told the parliament that abolishing the system should not adversely affect Czech-Slovak trade in the future, Hospodarske noviny reported. But Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar told journalists that the Czech's unilateral step was a mistake. He said that although the Slovak cabinet invited the Czechs to discuss the issue, there was no will on their part to hold serious talks. The Slovak cabinet is expected to prepare a response to the Czech move in the coming week, and Meciar said Slovakia might decide to abolish the customs union. * Steve Kettle and Sharon Fisher

HAVEL RECEIVES TAIWAN'S PREMIER.
Czech President Vaclav Havel on 21 June met with Taiwanese Prime Minister Lien Chan, despite an official Chinese protest against Lien's private visit to Prague (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 June 1995). Havel's spokesmen said the talks in Prague Castle centered on economic relations between the Czech Republic and Taiwan, Czech media reported. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT.
The Slovak parliament on 21 June overwhelmingly approved the Council of Europe's Framework Agreement on the protection of ethnic minorities. Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk noted that 27 countries have already signed the accord and that Slovakia is the third to ratify it. Deputies representing the Hungarian minority abstained from the vote. Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Bela Bugar told Pravda that the abstentions were "not directed against the Framework agreement but against government policies." According to Bugar, some members of the government coalition have tried to interpret certain points differently from how they appear in the agreement. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIANS SUPPORT EU AND NATO INTEGRATION.
Hungarians overwhelmingly support integration into the EU and NATO, Reuters reported on 20 June. An opinion poll conducted by Telemedia revealed that 77% "support" or "very much support" EU membership, while 57% favor Hungary's entry into NATO. Opposition to integration was 16% for both organizations, while the remaining respondents declined to express an opinion. * Sharon Fisher



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 121, 22 June 1995
AKASHI REASSURES KARADZIC OF UN'S GOOD INTENTIONS.
The UN's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Yasushi Akashi, has written Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the International Herald Tribune reported on 22 June. Akashi reassured Karadzic that he feels that "all sides" have caused problems for UNPROFOR. He did not mention the recent hostage crisis. Above all, the envoy said that the projected Rapid Reaction Force will not take sides, will not act differently from UNPROFOR, and will not engage in peacemaking such as blasting open corridors to enable relief convoys to get through. A UN spokesman said that "the Serbs were worried and Mr. Akashi felt it appropriate to calm their fears." * Patrick Moore

UN REFUSES TO AUTHORIZE AIR STRIKES AGAINST SERBS.
General Bernard Janvier, commander of UN forces in the Balkans, refused a request by U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith to authorize NATO air strikes on the Banja Luka airport. AFP said on 21 June that the plea was in response to the violation of the UN's own "no fly zone" over Bosnia by two Serbian aircraft the previous day. A BBC report on 22 June said, however, that UNPROFOR is under growing pressure to respond in a "more robust" fashion to Serbian provocations. The International Herald Tribune suggested that Janvier may not have wanted to use sufficient force to deal with the anti-aircraft missile batteries surrounding the airport, like those that downed a US F-16 on 3 June. * Patrick Moore

SERBS ALLOWED TO ESCORT SARAJEVO CONVOY.
In another example of UN deference to Bosnian Serb sensitivities, UNPROFOR troops were replaced by Serbian police as a UN convoy passed through Serb-held territory on the way to Sarajevo. The trucks with 600 tons of food arrived in the capital on 21 June, the first such shipment the Serbs have let through in some time. Serbs, meanwhile, killed six with a shell on a Sarajevo suburb. The 22 June Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted Bosnian Croat military sources as saying that the Bosnian government's current offensive has been briefly halted after taking heavy casualties. The Muslim-Croatian alliance seeks to reopen roads to Visoko, Mostar, and Kiseljak. * Patrick Moore

CROATIA HOLDS FIRM WITH SERBS.
The Zagreb government has rejected Krajina Serb preconditions for resuming talks. Reuters said on 21 June that the Serbs insisted that Croatian forces withdraw from western Slavonia, which they retook at the start of May, or at least from the Dinara heights overlooking Knin and its road communications with Banja Luka. In Australia, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said that the army will return Krajina to Zagreb's control if talks fail to do so within a year. * Patrick Moore

BELGRADE CONTINUES ROUNDUP FOR MILITARY SERVICE.
Nasa Borba on 22 June reported that Serbia's police force is continuing its roundup of ethnic Serbs for military service in Serb-conquered territories outside the rump Yugoslavia. The roundup began on 11 June among ethnic Serbian refugees from Krajina residing in the northern Vojvodina region and is now reportedly widening, with police officials press-ganging ethnic Serbs born in Belgrade and Sumadija who have "at one time worked in Bosnia or Croatia." The daily also reported that Bosnian Serb authorities have issued a statement calling on all Bosnian Serb refugees in the rump Yugoslavia to return and report to their units by 5 July. Meanwhile, General Vlado Trifunovic, who, together with four colleagues, faces charges of undermining the Yugoslav military and compromising national defense, has appeared for a fourth time before a military tribunal. * Stan Markotich

RED CROSS VISITS IMPRISONED POLICEMEN IN KOSOVO.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has visited former Kosovo policemen jailed on charges of separatism, AFP reported on 21 June. A total of 32 former policemen have already been sentenced to prison terms of between one and six years, and 116 have been on trial since the beginning of June. The policemen were dismissed after the abolition of the province's autonomy by Belgrade in 1989. Authorities in Belgrade allowed the ICRC to visit the policemen in the presence of prison officials to examine under what conditions they are being detained. Elsewhere, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 21 June assured Kosovar shadow-state president Ibrahim Rugova, who was in Washington, that "Kosovo is not being ignored or forgotten." * Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SETTLEMENT WITH GREECE.
Kiro Gligorov, during an official visit to Paris, called for a quick settlement of the Greek-Macedonian dispute, Reuters reported on 21 June. After meeting with French President Jacques Chirac that day, Gligorov said it is in both Greece's and Macedonia's interest to settle their differences "so that we can act together on the European scene." He said it is paradoxical that while Macedonia prevented the war in the former Yugoslavia from spreading southward, it is the only European country that is not a member of the OSCE and has yet to sign an accord with the European Union. * Stefan Krause

ROMANIA COMPLETES STRATEGY FOR JOINING EU.
A special commission in charge of drafting Romania's long-term strategy for joining the European Union completed its work on 21 June, Radio Bucharest reported. The final meeting of the commission was attended by President Ion Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, the chairmen of the parliament's two chambers, and the leaders of all parties represented in the parliament. Iliescu read out a declaration saying Romania's efforts to join the EU were a top priority and a "crucial point of solidarity" for all political and social forces in the country. Romania is an associate member of the EU and plans to apply soon for full membership. * Dan Ionescu

ROMANIA, U.S. SIGN CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT.
Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca and U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry on 21 June signed a confidentiality agreement facilitating the transfer of sensitive military technology from the U.S. to the former communist country. Radio Bucharest reported that the two ministers also discussed the situation in the former Yugoslavia and Hungarian-Romanian relations. Tinca handed over a letter signed by him and his Hungarian counterpart, Gyorgy Keleti, outlining Romanian-Hungarian military cooperation and asking the U.S. to help establish a hot-line between Budapest and Bucharest. Tinca is on a four-day visit to the U.S. * Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES KOBETS.
Mircea Snegur on 21 June received Russian Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Konstantin Kobets, who is heading a team sent to inspect the 14th Army headquartered in Tiraspol, ITAR-TASS reported. Kobets introduced Snegur to the new commander of the 14th Army, Maj. Gen. Valery Yevnevich. He also discussed with Yevnevich the situation in the Dniester region, which figures high on the agenda of the Russian-Moldovan summit scheduled to take place in Moscow on 28 June. Meanwhile, former 14th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed has appealed to the Russian State Duma to protect Russian citizens in the Dniester enclave. In Tiraspol, a Lebed supporter, Maj. Gen. Yury Popov, called off a hunger strike to protest the commander's sacking. * Dan Ionescu

ILO CRITICIZES BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT.
The International Labor Organization has strongly criticized the Bulgarian government for its decision on who to send to the ILO's 82nd session, Standart reported on 22 June. Social Minister Mincho Koralski included representatives of the Association of Free Trade Union Organizations (OSSOB) in the official delegation but failed to invite the two biggest unions, Podkrepa and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB). The ILO's Accreditation Committee issued a declaration stating that the OSSOB is not representative of Bulgarian trade unions and is unable to give reliable figures on its membership. The official Bulgarian delegation will attend the meeting, but the ILO statement said there are "serious reasons" to exclude Bulgaria, since it has violated the organization's statutes. Meanwhile, Podkrepa and the KNSB will attend the session as delegates of the international trade union organizations. * Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PREMIER ENDS VISIT TO ATHENS.
Zhan Videnov ended his first official visit to Greece on 20 June, international agencies reported the same day. Videnov and his Greek counterpart, Andreas Papandreou, signed a joint statement stressing that relations between the two countries are good. The statement said Athens and Sofia "will work together to consolidate peace, stability, and security in the Balkans [and] to secure the social and economic development of the region." It also calls for international sanctions against rump Yugoslavia to be lifted. Greece and Bulgaria agreed to increase defense cooperation, improve trade routes through their countries, and improve business and other contacts. Greece has been one of the largest investors in Bulgaria since the demise of communism. * Stefan Krause

POLICE ARREST ALBANIAN VILLAGERS WHO TOOK HOSTAGES.
Albanian police have arrested 13 villagers who took the mayor of their village and an Agriculture Ministry official hostage over a land feud, international agencies reported on 20 June. About 30 peasants began a hunger strike in Laknas, 13 kilometers northwest of Tirana, three weeks ago to protest the privatization of a former state farm where they have worked for years. The hostages were set free after police surrounded the house on 19 June, but police returned later to detain the group's leaders and to disperse the other hunger strikers. The Interior Ministry described them as "terrorists." The peasants claim that they have been cheated out of their property. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




XS
SM
MD
LG