OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 128, 3 July 1995
YELTSIN DISMISSES FOUR OVER BUDENNOVSK . . .
In a clear concession to
parliament, President Boris Yeltsin dismissed Federal Security Service Director
Sergei Stepashin, Internal Affairs Minister Viktor Yerin, Deputy Prime Minister
Nikolai Yegorov, and Stavropol Krai Governor Yevgenii Kuznetsov, Western and
Russian agencies reported. The three federal officials were hawks in Yeltsin's
cabinet who strongly favored the use of force in Chechnya. Their removal and
the ascendancy of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin may increase the chance
for a negotiated settlement of the war. Stepashin was blamed for mishandling
the initial stages of the campaign against Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudaev and
for his agency's inability to infiltrate rebel ranks. Liberal critics feared
him because his agency had regained many of the former KGB's powers. Yerin's
troops carried out the unsuccessful storming of the Budennovsk hospital and
they are responsible for policing captured areas of Chechnya where they have
been accused of looting and atrocities against the civil population. Also,
Yerin is often blamed for the government's inability to combat the rising crime
rate. Yegorov was charged with mishandling nationalities issues and bungling
Moscow's relationship with Chechnya long before the fighting began. Their
replacements have not been announced. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
. . . GRACHEV SURVIVES PURGE.
Although he supported the
widely-criticized 17 June decision to storm the Budennovsk hospital, Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev was the only "power minister" to survive the cabinet
shake-up, Russian and Western agencies reported on 30 June. Duma deputy
Vyacheslav Nikonov predicted that Yeltsin is saving Grachev for a "big
sacrifice" later, possibly during the run-up to presidential elections
scheduled for June 1996, Reuters reported. Other observers speculated that
Grachev's personal loyalty to the president made him too valuable to dismiss.
Troops commanded by Grachev supported Yeltsin during the August 1991 coup and
the October 1993 conflict with hard-liners in parliament. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
COSSACKS PROTEST REMOVAL OF STAVROPOL GOVERNOR.
demonstrated in Budennovsk on 1 July and in Stavropol the next day in protest
of Yeltsin's decision to sack Stavropol Governor Yevgenii Kuznetsov, NTV and
Ekho Moskvy reported on 2 July. The Cossacks demanded that Yeltsin revoke
Kuznetsov's dismissal or agree to hold gubernatorial elections in the region.
Meanwhile, Yevgenii Nagai, Ataman of the Kuban Cossacks, told Moscow Television
on 29 June that Russia should establish a "national guard" comprised of
Cossacks to protect Russians wherever their security is threatened. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA BACKS DOWN IN NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Only 193 members of the State
Duma supported a vote of no confidence in Chernomyrdin's government, short of
the 226 necessary for the motion to succeed; 116 voted against the measure and
48 abstained, Western and Russian agencies reported on 1 July. Some deputies
from Yabloko and the Agrarian Party switched their vote from the successful 21
June no-confidence vote to make the government's victory possible, NTV
reported. Yeltsin's unexpectedly quick decision to sack several key cabinet
members played a major role in the vote. After the no-confidence measure
failed, Chernomyrdin withdrew his demand that the Duma give his government a
positive vote of confidence. Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin moved quickly to appease
the Duma because they did not want to disband it and hold early elections. If
the elections were called before December, Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia
bloc could not have competed since the new electoral law states that all
parties competing in the elections must be registered six months before
election day. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CHERNOMYRDIN-GORE TALKS CONCLUDE.
During two days of talks which ended
on 1 July, U.S. Vice President Albert Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin reached agreement on a number of issues, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Chernomyrdin reiterated an earlier promise by President
Yeltsin not to conclude any additional weapons contracts with Iran and
addressed American concerns by handing over details of current contracts. Gore
said the U.S. would now support Russian membership in a new international
organization to control the spread of conventional weapons. However, they made
no progress on the controversial issue of selling Russian nuclear reactors to
Iran. Gore also said an agreement had been reached that would allow Russia to
join the international Missile Technology Control Regime, although it was
unclear how the agreement might affect the sale of Russian missile technology
to Brazil, which American officials have previously criticized. -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
NATO WANTS JULY TALKS WITH RUSSIA.
Talks between NATO and Russia on
upgrading relations in both the military and political spheres are
provisionally scheduled for 17 July, NATO sources told Reuters on 30 June. The
Russian side had not yet confirmed that it would attend. The talks could lead
to a new treaty and/or the creation of a standing commission to monitor ties
between Russia and the alliance. NATO diplomats said the alliance wants to get
this process moving before the long summer break. On 31 May, Russian Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev had initialed Russia's Partnership for Peace (PfP)
individual partnership program but remarked at the time that it should only
serve as the forerunner of a wider relationship. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT SET UP PERMANENT CONCILIATION GROUP.
permanent commission to mediate disputes between the parliament and government
will be set up next week, State Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin announced on 1 July,
AFP reported. The commission will include five members of the Federation
Council and 12 from the Duma, Rybkin, and the leaders of the 11 current
parliamentary factions. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
TOP EDITOR OF ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA TO BE SACKED.
Polezhaeva, editor-in-chief of the official newspaper Rossiiskaya
gazeta, announced that she was about to be fired, NTV reported on 2 July.
On 30 June, Rossiiskaya gazeta ignored a court order to print a
retraction of damaging allegations the newspaper had made about Vladimir
Gusinskii's Most group. Instead, it erroneously reported that the court had
ruled in its favor against Gusinskii's lawsuit. Polezhaeva's dismissal may also
be connected to alleged financial irregularities at the newspaper; a recent
audit revealed that the newspaper had created several closed joint stock
companies. In 1994, Rossiiskaya gazeta received nearly 25 billion rubles
($5.7 million) in press subsidies; all other Russian newspapers combined
received about 31 billion rubles ($7 million). Polezhaeva is expected to fight
the dismissal. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS STALL.
Russian and Chechen delegates failed to make
substantive progress during talks on 1-2 July, Russian and international
agencies reported. The two delegations issued a joint statement on 1 July in
which they pledged not to seek revenge and to avoid using force. However,
further progress has been stymied because Chechen separatist President Dzhokhar
Dudaev has not made a formal response to the so-called "zero option" proposed
by the Russian delegation, Russian television reported. Negotiators also remain
deadlocked over the issue of Chechnya's future political status. Chechen
delegation head Usman Imaev said, "At the moment, no agreement looks likely,"
but added that the question could not be resolved "in a day." Izvestiya
expressed pessimism on 1 July that negotiators could reach agreement on a
compromise. Talks are scheduled to resume on 3 July. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
LOW QUALITY FOOD PRODUCTS POSE HEALTH THREAT.
Many food products on sale
in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and a number of other large cities are of poor
quality and could lead to mass outbreaks of food poisoning, Radio Rossii
reported on 2 July, citing health officials. About 14% of domestic meat and
dairy products are said to have failed tests for chemical content while 18% did
not conform to bacteriological standards. Last year, there were 35 cases of
mass food poisonings. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
INDEBTED MENTAL HOSPITAL TO RELEASE PATIENTS.
A mental hospital in
Kaliningrad has gone broke and is planning to discharge about half of its
patients, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 June. According to the report, the hospital
cannot even afford to pay for bread deliveries. Elderly patients will be sent
home first and the rest will be released if a solution to the crisis is not
found. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
AIRLINE HIJACKING FOILED.
Police overpowered two hijackers who had taken
over an airplane flying from Yakutsk to Moscow with 184 people on board on 1
July, international agencies reported. The pair had threatened to blow up the
plane if they did not receive 1.5 million rubles ($330) when it landed for
refueling in Norilsk. After receiving the money, the hijackers demanded a
larger sum. They were arrested after security forces persuaded them to leave
the plane to collect it. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
SAKHALIN OIL DEAL SIGNED.
A Russian-American-Japanese agreement for
joint exploration of oil and gas fields around Sakhalin island was signed in
Moscow on 30 June, Western and Russian agencies reported. The long-anticipated
deal, worth a reported $15 billion, will open fields containing an estimated
2.5 billion barrels of oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of gas. The U.S. and
Japanese partners in the deal will each hold a 30% interest, while the Russian
participants will hold a 40% share. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA TO PAY 1 BILLION TO LONDON CLUB IN 1995.
Economics Minister Oleg Davydov told Interfax on 1 July that Russia intends to
repay $1 billion to the London Club of creditor banks in 1995. Davydov said the
payment would erase Russia's debt to the banks incurred in 1992-94. Davydov
begins negotiations with the London Club in Frankfurt on 3 July. The talks will
address the long-term restructuring of Russia's $25 billion debt to the club.
Estimates place Russia's total foreign debt at about $120 billion. -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA, U.S. AGREE ON URANIUM.
Russia and the U.S. have put a troubled
uranium deal back on track. On 30 June, following talks with Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin in Moscow, Gore said the U.S. corporation that is to buy 500 tons
of Russian weapons grade uranium had signed a protocol to provide prompt
payment to Russia. He added that the two sides had also agreed on transparency
procedures for the uranium's conversion into low-enriched power station fuel,
Reuters reported. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
INFLATION 6.7% IN JUNE.
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin said on 2 July that
inflation was running at 6.7% in June, compared with 7.9% in May, Russian and
Western agencies reported. The government hopes to reduce the monthly inflation
rate to 2% by the end of the year. Chernomyrdin was speaking in Moscow at a
meeting of the Foreign Investment Council, which comprises senior ministers and
the heads of multinational corporations. He exhorted foreign investors to
abandon their doubts about Russia's political stability and take advantage of
Russia's "huge" investment opportunities. Direct foreign investment in Russia
fell by 25% in the first quarter of 1995 compared with the last quarter of
1994. Interfax quoted Chernomyrdin as saying that the government would look
into creating a single investment regime for domestic and foreign investors
seeking to purchase shares in Russian enterprises but gave no details. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 128, 3 July 1995
KAZAKHSTAN'S DRAFT CONSTITUTION READY.
The Assembly of Peoples of
Kazakhstan opened a special one-month session to review the country's new draft
constitution on 30 June, Reuters reported. Work began on the new constitution
six months ago with the help of experts from the Constitutional Council of
France. Among the items included in it are the creation of a two-chamber
parliament, consisting of a 47-seat senate and a 55-seat lower house, an
impeachment process and rules for dissolving parliament, and the government's
right to overrule a no-confidence vote in it. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
TALKS IN TEHRAN ON CASPIAN.
No progress was achieved in determining the
legal status of the Caspian Sea during talks among the littoral states in
Tehran, Reuters reported on 30 June, citing Iranian radio. At the conclusion of
the meeting a statement was released pointing to differences on political,
economic, and environmental issues. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan continue to argue
that the Caspian should be classified under maritime law as an enclosed sea,
which permits them to exploit resources in sectors drawn according to
international treaties. Russia, Iran, and Turkmenistan argue the Caspian is a
lake and its resources must be shared on the basis of common ownership. Despite
the disagreement, all sides said the Tehran talks were positive and
constructive and agreed to meet again in Almaty on 23 August. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 128, 3 July 1995
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
BALTICS SIGN AGREEMENT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
The prime ministers of
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia signed a treaty in Vilnius on 30 June on the
readmission of illegal immigrants, BNS reported on 1 July. Under the agreement,
each of the three countries will take back immigrants who illegally crossed
from its territory to another Baltic state. Illegal immigrants from Russia
entering Nordic countries such as Norway and Sweden have become an increasing
problem. The prime ministers of Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Norway on 1 July
joined the other Baltic premiers in Vilnius at a meeting of Nordic leaders.
Sweden and Finland promised to help the three former Soviet states in their
attempts to join the EU. The issue of illegal immigration from Russia was also
raised, and it was agreed that controls at borders with Russia will have to be
improved. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
CENSORSHIP ON UKRAINIAN TV.
Nezavisimost on 30 June reported that
the management of state-run Ukrainian TV has censored an interview with Crimean
Tatar leader Refat Chubarov recorded for a popular program on 28 June. The
authorities reportedly cut the entire broadcast after Chubarov said the recent
violent clashes between Crimean Tatar merchants and alleged criminal gangs on
the peninsula were welcomed by high-level officials, including the Ukrainian
Security Service, and "forces abroad, mainly in Russia . . . , who do not want
a civilized settlement to many problems in Crimea connected with property
division." Ukrainian TV management said its decision was aimed at preventing
tensions in the region from developing into an interethnic conflict. In the
interview, published in full by Nezavisimost, Chubarov said the fate of
his people now repatriated from other CIS countries was closely tied to
Ukraine's remaining independent. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
PENSION PROBLEMS IN BELARUS.
Belarusian Minister for Social Protection
Volha Dalher, in an interview on 29 July, said pensioners have sometimes had to
wait weeks to receive their pensions. She said there have been a number of
protests by retirees and that many continue to work. Dlaher said pensions have
actually increased more than wages. Since December 1994, the average pension
has risen 4.9 times, while the average wage has increased 2.6 times and prices
2.7 times. Commenting on a new law, soon to go into force, that will ban
pensioners from collecting both wages and pensions if they continue working,
Dalher said it will not apply to those working for agricultural enterprises. --
Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH SENATE APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO PENAL CODE.
The Polish Senate on 30
June voted by 47 to two with 29 abstentions (mostly from the ruling Democratic
Left Alliance) to approve amendments to the penal code. The new legislation
provides for state functionaries who committed crimes during 1944-1989 to be
prosecuted. The Senate also voted against imposing a five-year moratorium on
the death penalty, Polish media reported on 1 July. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI,
SEJM PASSES PRIVATIZATION LAW.
The Sejm on 30 June approved by a vote of
246 to 116 with seven abstentions a law on the commercialization and
privatization of state enterprises. Commercialization entails turning
state-owned firms into joint-stock companies that will be governed by
commercial law but still retained by the State Treasury. Privatization of the
most important branches of industry (defense, banks, coal mines, oil and gas,
telecommunications, and energy) will be subject to parliamentary control. The
law, according to former Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, will delay
changes crucial for the country's economic development, Polish and
international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ON POLAND'S ENTRY INTO EU, NATO.
Helmut Kohl told
Polish television on 2 July that he considers Poland has a good chance of
realizing its goals of admission into NATO and the European Union "in coming
years." He added that "we should find an agreement whereby Poland's particular
security concerns, those that prompted its desire to join NATO, are linked to
the justified security interests of Russia." Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw
Bartoszewski said on 2 July on German radio that "what is significant is that
we see in Germany a strategic partner in all areas." Kohl is scheduled to
arrive in Poland on 6 July for a three-day official visit, Polish and
international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH PENSION AGE RAISED.
The Czech parliament on 30 June, following a
late-night, heated debate, passed a law that will raise the pension age
gradually over the next 12 years. Deputies of one of the government parties,
the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party, and most of the opposition voted
against the bill. But a centrist opposition party joined the three other
government coalition members to ensure a majority. The pension age for men will
be raised from 60 to 62 by the year 2007 while women--who can retire at between
53 and 57, depending on how many children they have--will be pensioned off at
between 57 and 61. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
ANOTHER RAIL ACCIDENT IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
A Prague-Budapest express was
derailed and then hit by another train in Moravia on 30 June, Czech media
reported. Some 30 passengers were injured, eight seriously; and the line--one
of the busiest in the Czech Republic--was closed for more than 30 hours. The
express apparently came off the rails, because hot weather had buckled them,
rail officials said. The rear coach was struck by a local train that failed to
stop in time. It was the second serious accident involving passenger trains in
less than a week. On 24 June, 18 passengers were killed when runaway goods
wagons ran head-on into a local train. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
POPE IN SLOVAKIA.
John Paul II arrived in Slovakia on 30 June for a
four-day visit, international and Slovak media reported. Addressing a crowd in
Bratislava, he urged reconciliation within Slovakia, asking all Slovaks to help
build democracy and protect the rights of citizens. He also praised the
recently signed Slovak-Hungarian treaty, which guarantees minority rights.
President Michal Kovac expressed the hope that the Pope's visit will calm down
the political atmosphere in Slovakia. In Kosice, the pope canonized three
martyrs--Marek Krizan, Melichar Grozdiecki, and Stefan Pongrac. Some 300,000
people attended the canonization ceremony, despite high temperatures. -- Jiri
Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK FINANCE MINISTER ON CUSTOMS UNION WITH CZECHS.
speaking at an economic forum in Crans Montana on 30 June, said Slovakia will
demand compensation from the Czech Republic for preserving the Czech-Slovak
customs union, international media reported. Kozlik said he had in mind
compensation similar to that given by the stronger members of the European
Union to the weaker ones. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, reacting to
the Czech Republic's unilateral abolition of the payments clearing system in
trade with Slovakia, recently suggested that Slovakia might retaliate by
abolishing the customs union. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, also speaking
in Crans Montana, said he had "never heard of the notion of compensation for a
customs union." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN COMMUNISTS COMMEMORATE KADAR.
Some 3,000 people on 1 July
gathered at Budapest's Kerepesi Cemetery to commemorate the sixth anniversary
of the death of Janos Kadar, a former communist leader, international media
reported. The gathering, organized by the far-left Labor Party, was called to
protest the current cabinet and urge the election of what the Labor Party
described as a genuinely left-wing government. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 128, 3 July 1995
"A VIOLENT, BLOODY WEEKEND" IN BOSNIA.
This is how the VOA on 2 July
summed up developments in Sarajevo since 30 June. The Serbs hit the UN
headquarters and U.S. embassy, which the broadcast said further made a mockery
of the UN heavy-weapons exclusion zone around the Bosnian capital. In a rare
display of firmness, French peacekeepers in the Mt. Igman area fired back on a
Serbian attack, which promptly came to a halt. The Serbs meanwhile stepped up
their pressure on the mainly Muslim enclaves in eastern Bosnia as well as on
the Bihac pocket, where the food situation is becoming critical, the
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on 1 July. Croatian Radio on 3 July
noted increased Serb shelling in the Posavina area. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT TURNS OUT AKASHI.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung on 1 July said the Bosnian government wants nothing more to do with
UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi, since the UN is doing nothing to protect the
exclusion zone or Sarajevo's status as a "safe area." Bosnian authorities also
regard Akashi's recent written assurances to the Serbs and the UN's secret deal
to free the hostages as groveling before Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
and his military commander, General Ratko Mladic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
MLADIC WARNS AGAINST DARK FORCES.
The Bosnian Serb leaders on 2 July
attended special Church services in Pale with Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle
to mark the Serbian holy day of Vidovdan on 28 June. News agencies quote
Mladic's response to the German Bundestag's decision on 30 June to authorize
air support for the UN in Bosnia: "I can hardly wait to meet them." SRNA adds
that Mladic accused NATO of ganging up on the Serbs. The Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung on 1 July quoted the general as saying that plots are
afoot to "Americanize" and "Germanize" the Balkans, but he gave no details. The
paper also cited unnamed French secret service officials as warning that the
U.S. is taking sides in the conflict but that "the Europeans want to remain
neutral. Our American friends must realize that the important thing now is not
to disturb the peace process." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA SETS CONDITIONS FOR PEACE TALKS.
Croatian Radio on 3 July quotes
President Franjo Tudjman as telling UN and EU envoys that firmness is necessary
in dealing with the Serbs and that sanctions must remain in place until
Belgrade clearly renounces plans for a greater Serbia. He added that he will
negotiate with Knin and Belgrade only if UNCRO's mandate is fully carried out
and if the Serbs honor the agreement to reopen the main oil pipeline. The EU
must also help Croatia restore the Zagreb-Knin-Split railway line. The
president warned that international community must forget any ideas about
setting up some new Yugoslavia or regional federal state. Tudjman called
Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic a "war criminal" for ordering the shelling of
Zagreb in May, adding that Croatia will not talk with him. -- Patrick Moore,
RUMP YUGOSLAVIA'S FIRST MAJOR SPORTS VICTORY SINCE SANCTIONS EASED.
rump Yugoslavia won the European basketball championship on 2 July, beating
Lithuania by six points, Nasa Borba reported the next day. The event
marks a milestone win for the first rump Yugoslav team to be admitted to
international sports competition since sanctions against Belgrade were eased in
the autumn of 1994. Finishing in third place, Croatian team players walked off
the award podium after receiving their medals to avoid listening to the rump
Yugoslav national anthem. Downtown Belgrade streets were reportedly packed with
jubilant fans, with some waving the flag of the former socialist federal
Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
BLACK SEA SUMMIT IN BUCHAREST.
The Black Sea Economic Cooperation
organization, meeting in Bucharest on 30 June, adopted a declaration on
boosting multilateral economic cooperation aimed at "prosperity, stability, and
peace" in the region, Romanian and Western media reported. The one-day
conference was attended by the presidents of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia,
Greece, Moldova, Romania, and Turkey; the premiers of Armenia and Ukraine; and
deputy prime ministers from Russia and Albania. The so-called Bucharest
Declaration stresses the need for join efforts in developing the region's
infrastructure and in the energy, communications, transportation, and other
sectors. It also urges member states to cooperate to combat organized crime,
drug trafficking, and illegal trade in weapons and radioactive materials.
Following the summit, Azerbaijani President Gaidar Aliyev met with Romanian
President Ion Iliescu, with whom he signed a joint declaration as well as
agreements on trade and culture. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS WANT FOREIGN PORTFOLIO.
controversial leader of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), told Radio
Bucharest on 1 July that his party will seek to obtain the foreign affairs
portfolio. Funar was speaking after a meeting of the PUNR National Council on
30 June-1 July. He sharply criticized Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu for
allegedly making concessions to Hungary over a new bilateral treaty, whose
draft he described as "an act of treason." The PUNR has four ministers in the
current cabinet. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu attended the PUNR meeting. --
Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS OPPOSE EDUCATION BILL.
Leaders of the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) met in Targu Mures on 30 June-1 July to
elect a Permanent Delegation and to confirm the 132 members of the party's new
Council of Representatives (which has been described as the mini-parliament of
Romania's Magyar population). The Targu Mures meeting adopted a declaration
denouncing an education bill passed by Romania's parliament last week as
anti-Hungarian and anti-minorities. The UDMR called on President Iliescu to
reject the law. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA TO GIVE BULGARIA TANKS, OTHER ARMS.
Russia will give Bulgaria 100
T-72 tanks, 100 BMP-1P armored combat vehicles, and 12 Mi-24 combat
helicopters, Deputy Defense Minister Dimiter Mitkov announced on 28 June. BTA
quoted Mitkov as saying that Bulgarian experts will visit Russia to study the
possibility of obtaining equipment that Russia will otherwise have to destroy
to meet the terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. In a
procedure called "cascading," the Russians will instead give those weapons to
the Bulgarians, who will then destroy older equipment so that they abide by CFE
limits. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIA TO HAVE MORE MILITARY DRAFTS . . .
Draftees will be inducted
into the military four times a year, instead of the present two drafts, Maj.
Gen. Lyuben Pandev announced on 29 June. BTA said the new measure is intended
to "ease tensions" between successive drafts and thus eliminate the hazing that
has plagued the Bulgarian military. Recruits will receive their three-month
basic training in 30 centers. Starting in 1997, training will be centralized in
eight locations. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND TO REPAIR RUSSIAN WARSHIPS.
Seven Russian warships and a naval
supply ship will be repaired at the Varna shipyard over the next 11 months, BTA
reported on 29 June. The repairs are said to be part of a long-term agreement
between the two countries. The ships will be stripped of all armaments and
reconnaissance equipment before they enter the yard. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
CHIEF EDITOR OF ALBANIAN SATIRICAL MAGAZINE ARRESTED.
chief editor of the Albanian satirical magazine Hosteni 2000, was
detained and questioned by the country's secret police (SHIK) for one night,
Reuters reported on 30 June. He was released only after agreeing to change the
cover of the paper's upcoming issue, which showed Albanian President Sali
Berisha between two nude women. The Albanian Helsinki Committee criticized
SHIK, stressing that "the law does not authorize SHIK to take measures directly
impairing the freedom of a citizen . . . but only to act through appropriate
bodies, the General Attorney's office and the judiciary." SHIK reportedly also
seized printing materials without warrants. Hosteni 2000 previously
published photo montages showing Albanian politicians in women's dresses but
then withdrew the disputed cover. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GREEK SEAMEN END STRIKE.
Greek sailors ended a three-day strike on 2
July, AFP reported the same day. The strike seriously disrupted the tourist
season and shipments to the Greek islands. The seamen's union, which is
demanding higher wages, tax breaks, and a more vigorous campaign to reduce
unemployment, warned that the strike may resume later this month. Meanwhile,
the Greek railway company OSE announced that six one-hour strikes scheduled
between 3-7 July have been canceled after a court ruled they were illegal.
Another court earlier ruled that an aviation strike scheduled for 2 July was
illegal. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave