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Newsline - July 6, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 130, 6 July 1995




DUMA PASSES LAW ON ELECTIONS FOR FEDERATION COUNCIL.
The Duma passed on its third reading a law that would require all Federation Council deputies to be elected, Russian media reported on 5 July. The upper house of parliament is comprised of representatives of the legislative and executive branches of Russia's 89 regions. Up to now, only 22 regions have elected their executive leaders, while most of the rest have been appointed by the president. Issa Kostoev, the chairman of the Council's Committee on Legislation, welcomed the draft law, saying elections for the Council would guarantee a real separation of powers, Ekho Moskvy reported. But President Boris Yeltsin argued that requiring elections would violate the constitution, which did not specify that elections must be held, Russian TV reported. Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko also denounced the draft law and told Radio Rossii that the Council would refer the matter to the Constitutional Court. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNISTS PRESS AHEAD ON IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS.
Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin said a motion to initiate impeachment proceedings will be included in the Duma's agenda on 7 July, Radio Rossii reported on 5 July. The Communist Party faction has collected 165 signatures to indict the president and submitted relevant documents to the Duma, Segodnya reported the same day. Rybkin noted that the Duma's legal department must now evaluate the documents. Under the constitution, the president can only be impeached on charges of high crimes or treason. Even if a majority of deputies vote to consider the impeachment motion, a two-thirds majority vote (300 deputies) would be required in order to refer the indictment to the courts. -- Laura Belin

CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION DRAWS DISTRICT LINES.
The Central Electoral Commission has drawn proposed boundaries for the 225 single-member constituencies provided by the law on parliamentary elections, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 6 July. The plan assigns approximately 466,000 voters to each district. In addition, 21 federation subjects with populations smaller than this level have each been allotted one district. The commission has referred the proposed electoral map to the Duma, which must determine some of the plan's provisions, including how and in which districts Russians living abroad may vote. Under the electoral law, the list of single-member constituencies must be published by 29 August, at least 110 days before the scheduled parliamentary elections. -- Laura Belin

DUMA POSTPONES VOTE TO OVERRIDE VETO OF TV LAW.
On 5 July the Duma postponed a vote to override the president's veto of a law that would have prohibited the privatization of state-owned television and radio until further guidelines could be adopted, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 6 July. The law specifically targets the controversial reorganization of Ostankino TV and creation of the partly-private Russian Public Television company (ORT), ordered by Yeltsin in November 1994. The law would halt all state funding for ORT and prohibit the company from broadcasting on Channel 1. Also on 5 July, the Duma voted down a motion to ban all changes in leadership of the mass media for the duration of the campaign for parliamentary and presidential elections, Russian TV reported. -- Laura Belin

NEW POSITION FOR YERIN.
President Boris Yeltsin has appointed Viktor Yerin, who was sacked as interior minister last week, as deputy director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service responsible for combating organized crime, Russian and Western agencies reported. The 5 July appointment indicates that Yerin, a career police officer who has shown his personal loyalty to Yeltsin, retains the president's favor. The Duma, which had demanded his resignation following the bungled attempts to resolve the Budennovsk hostage crisis, greeted the move with derision. Also on 5 July, Yeltsin named a replacement for one of the other senior government officials axed in the aftermath of the Budennovsk crisis. Vyacheslav Mikhailov, the top Russian negotiator in Chechnya and first deputy nationalities minister, will replace Nikolai Yegorov as head of the Nationalities Ministry. -- Penny Morvant

FURTHER CRITICISM OF SECURITY SERVICES.
In an interview with Komsomolskaya pravda on 4 July, an anonymous high-ranking intelligence officer argued that the Budennovsk tragedy revealed the complete incompetence of the Russian special services. He contended that adequate replacements have yet to be created for the dismantled KGB organs and that the government must elaborate a new policy for the security services. According to the officer, the activities of the individual services that replaced the KGB are poorly coordinated, while expenditure has increased owing to a growth in administrative personnel. He added that the number of senior personnel has also risen, commenting that the replacement agencies have seven times as many generals as the KGB had, although the number of experienced officers has fallen sharply. In Vek (30 June-6 July), another security service officer, Colonel Aleksandr Zdanovich, also blamed the reorganization of the KGB for the shortcomings in Russia's response to terrorism. He added that the Federal Security Services' work is hindered by a lack of funding. -- Penny Morvant

PRESS IN DECLINE, INDEPENDENT ELECTRONIC MEDIA ON THE RISE.
According to a seminar on democracy and the Russian mass media held in Moscow, circulation figures for newspapers and periodicals in Russia are only 7% of what they were in 1990, Russian TV reported on 5 July. However, more than 150 independent radio and television companies are now operating in the country. Speakers at the seminar noted that despite financial problems faced by the press and mass media, the "fourth branch" is becoming a powerful democratic institution in Russia. -- Laura Belin

GROZNY NEGOTIATORS CONSULT WITH PRIME MINISTER.
Russian negotiators, led by Vyacheslav Mikhailov, the recently appointed nationalities minister, and deputy delegation head Arkadii Volskii met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 5 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. A scheduled meeting between delegation members and President Yeltsin was canceled, although Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin did meet later to discuss the currently deadlocked Grozny talks. After the meeting, Volskii said Yeltsin had promised to modify his 4 July decree calling for federal troops to be permanently based in Chechnya. Volskii said the original version of the decree, which came as a surprise to Russian negotiators, had threatened to scuttle the talks, because it contradicted earlier agreements reached with the Chechen negotiators. Volskii added that without Yeltsin's pledge, there would have been no point in returning to Grozny for the next round of talks, scheduled to open today. -- Scott Parrish

CHINESE BORDER TREATY RATIFIED.
The Federation Council on 5 July ratified the September 1994 treaty between Russia and China dealing with a 55-kilometer section of their western border. The section is in the Altai Mountains at the junction of the borders of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. The Council's Committee on International Relations reported that the border line "fully corresponds to the historical line of the border between the two states and the frontier which is actually being guarded." The two sides have also signed a treaty dealing with a section of their eastern border in the Maritime Kray region--one that has upset the local Russian administration. They have not resolved their differences regarding the border near Khabarovsk. -- Doug Clarke

RUSSIA WILL NOT RECYCLE PLUTONIUM IN GERMANY.
Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov declared on 4 July that his government would not agree to the recycling of Russian plutonium in Germany, the weekly Die Woche reported. American officials, looking for a way to accelerate the dismantling of Russian nuclear warheads scheduled under various arms control agreements, have been discussing a possible recycling plan with their German counterparts. Western experts have speculated that Russia does not want to export plutonium for recycling because that might reveal information about its nuclear weapons technology. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA AND LONDON CLUB FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT.
Two days of talks between Russia and its commercial bank creditors adjourned without producing an agreement for the long-term rescheduling of Russian debt, international and Russian agencies reported on 5 July. The two sides will continue to discuss the issue, but set no date for their next meeting. Russia, which assumed the former Soviet Union's foreign debt after the country's collapse in 1991, owes the 600 member-banks of the London Club about $25 billion in principal and $3-4 billion in overdue interest payments. The head of the Russian delegation, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov, said Russia had proposed that its 1992-94 debt be rescheduled over a 25-year period. He added that Moscow would not "sign any other document" if its terms were not accepted. Talks on rescheduling the Russian debt have been dragging on for several years. -- Scott Parrish

U.S. SAID TO LIFT SATELLITE RESTRICTION.
The director general of the Khrunichev State Space Research and Scientific-Production Center, Anatoly Kiselov, has said that the U.S. has agreed to scrap the space launch agreement with Russia that limits the number of U.S.-built satellites Russia can launch, Communications Daily reported on 3 July. Under that agreement, Russia could launch no more than nine U.S. satellites over the next eight years. Kiselov said that U.S. Vice President Al Gore discussed lifting the quotas during his recent visit to Moscow. Khrunichev builds the Proton heavy-lift launch vehicle, and is actively seeking a greater share of the world's satellite launch business. -- Doug Clarke

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE CORRIDOR.
In a move to curb inflation and stabilize the ruble, the Russian government and Central Bank restricted the float of the ruble against the U.S. dollar on 5 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. The measure, effective from 6 July to 1 October, set a ceiling of 4,300 rubles and a floor of 4,900 against the dollar. The exchange rate corridor, the first in Russia's history and backed by $10 billion in Central Bank reserves, should help the country move toward financial stability. In the past several weeks, the ruble has gained 12.5% from its 29 April record low of 5,130 rubles to $1. On 5 July, it was trading at 4,559 to $1. By declaring the ruble corridor, the Central Bank is committing itself to the unlimited purchase and sale of dollars on the foreign exchange market to support the ruble within set limits. -- Thomas Sigel

OIL FIRMS SIGN ANTI-MONOPOLY ACCORD.
Russia's major oil companies signed an anti-monopoly agreement aimed at preventing unfair competition, LUKoil spokesman Aleksandr Vasilenko told AFP on 5 July. On the same day, The Moscow Times reported that the agreement was signed by LUKoil, Surgutneftegaz, Yukos, Sidanko, Transneft, Slavneft, Transnefteprodukt, and Nefteotdacha, which account for 72% of Russia's oil output. The signatories ruled out agreements with competitors who had a dominant position in the market. They also pledged to take account of regional interests. Meanwhile, Segodnya said the companies also agreed to preserve Russia's integrated pipeline network, with equal access to it for any commercial organization in line with the anti-monopoly conditions. -- Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 130, 6 July 1995


TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN ELECTIONS.
Preliminary returns indicate that the ruling Armenian National Party and five smaller parties allied in the Republic bloc have won the 4 July parliamentary elections, Western agencies reported. Voter turnout was estimated at more than 60%. Final results are not expected for ten days, but the results of the 4 July referendum on adoption of a new constitution should have been available on 5 July, according to Noyan Tapan. International monitors, including an OSCE delegation, expressed grave concern at restrictions on the participation of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsyutyun) and other opposition parties, and said the elections were "free but not fair," according to Reuters. -- Liz Fuller

TAJIK BORDER GUARDS DESERTING.
More than 1,000 soldiers from the Russian forces guarding the Tajik-Afghan border have deserted so far this year, according to Lt. Gen. Pavel Tarasenko, the Russian commander of the border forces stationed in Tajikistan. The general also said there are problems drafting new soldiers. Although a target figure of 3,500 was set for conscription, only 2,100 soldiers have actually shown up for duty, Reuters reported. Tarasenko said Russian and Tajik military units were competing for the conscripts and complained that the Tajik Defense and Interior ministries have resorted to press-gang tactics to get new recruits. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK OPPOSITION CONFERS . . .
Birlik, the banned Uzbek opposition movement, held a conference in Moscow on 1 July to determine the date and location of a future congress and strategies for operating inside Uzbekistan itself, Moscow Television reported the same day. According to reports received by Radio Liberty's Uzbek Service, many of the estimated 15 participants in the one-day conference, including those who chaired it, Birlik co-chairman Akhundjon Pulatov and Samarkand province chairman Alibay Uliyakhshiou, live in exile. Other activists from Tashkent, Bukhara, Namangan, Ferghana, and Termez also attended. The size of the gathering and its failure to reach any concrete decisions are suggestive of the movement's growing weakness due to personal conflicts and harsh measures taken against it by the Uzbek authorities. -- Lowell Bezanis

. . . MIRSAIDOV'S VIEWS OF CONFERENCE.
Former Uzbek Vice President Shakhrulla Mirsaidov criticized the Birlik conference in Moscow during a 2 July telephone interview with Radio Liberty's Uzbek service. Mirsaidov is the only high-profile politician still living in the country who is known for his opposition to the rule of President Islam Karimov. He said that before deciding to hold the congress in a foreign country, the group should apply to hold it in Uzbekistan, thereby forcing the government to make a public refusal. He argued that Birlik and Erk, Uzbekistan's other banned opposition group, should collaborate and inject new ideas into Uzbekistan from their vantage point abroad. In the recent past Mirsaidov and Akhundjon Pulatov have been identified by some Birlik activists as potential new replacements for the current Birlik leader, Abdurrahim Pulatov. Mirsaidov denied that he is affiliated with Birlik or that he has any desire to play such a role. -- Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 130, 6 July 1995


CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SACKS SPEAKER.
Crimean parliament speaker Serhiy Tsekov on 5 July lost a vote of confidence in the 98-member assembly, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported the same day. Deputies voted 54 to 35 against Tsekov, with the majority Russia Bloc accusing him of grabbing too much power and being too soft on Crimean autonomy. Reformers and Crimean Tatar deputies blamed Tsekov for the recent violent clashes between Tatars and alleged racketeers. They also criticized him for failing to introduce economic reforms and head off growing crime in the region. Later the same day, deputies failed to elect a new chairman and postponed a second vote to 6 July. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CHORNOBYL PLANT OFFICIALS WARN SARCOPHAGUS IS CRACKING.
Officials at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant warned that the concrete-and-metal tomb enclosing the ruined No. 4 reactor was in danger of collapsing, Reuters reported on 5 July. An official in charge of the sarcophagus said plant workers were patching up 1,000 square meters of cracks on the tomb's roof and walls. He added that the steel pillars supporting the structure were in danger of collapsing and that plans were being made to strengthen them. A French-led consortium is expected to present plans for a permanent Sarcophagus-2, but there are no pledges of financial aid. Ukraine has promised to shutdown the stricken power station by 2000 but has repeatedly stressed it needs financial assistance to pay for a new tomb and to build a new gas-fired electricity plant to replace the 5-7% of energy Chornobyl produces. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO PRICE HIKES.
Belarusian Radio on 5 July reported that Alyaksandr Lukashenka has agreed to increase the cost of services effective from the beginning of this month. The price hikes are one of the conditions the IMF has insisted upon before it releases the second tranche of a stand-by loan to Minsk. Sixty percent of the costs of services will now be covered by consumers, and only 40% subsidized by the state. The prices of a number of consumer goods were freed in November, leading to popular unrest. Lukashenka then backtracked and ordered that prices be brought down to earlier levels, a move that threatened credits from the IMF. He eventually relented and freed prices again under pressure from the IMF and some of his advisers. -- Ustina Markus

LITHUANIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER RESIGNS.
International agencies on 5 July reported that Alexandras Vasiliauskas has resigned, following Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius request to do so because of shortcomings during his year in office. These included not passing laws on the second wave of privatization and failing to promote small businesses. Some 1,000 demonstrators had gathered the previous day near the parliament building to demand the government's resignation. Many demonstrators had lost their savings when a number of small banks and credit companies in the country closed down. -- Ustina Markus

POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION TO CONTINUE ITS WORK.
The Polish parliament's Constitutional Commission on 5 July rejected a motion by the Freedom Union that it interrupt its work because of the presidential campaign (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 July 1995). Only seven commission members supported the motion, while 35 voted against. The ruling Democratic Left Alliance would like the commission to complete its work in September. Commission head Aleksander Kwasniewski predicts that a nationwide referendum on the new constitution could be held in the spring of 1996, Polish media reported on 6 July. -- Jakub Karpinski

RESTITUTION IN WARSAW.
Warsaw Mayor Marcin Swiecicki on 5 July handed over 28 property certificates to the owners of 14 properties in Warsaw that were confiscated under the October 1945 decree "communalizing" all real estate in Warsaw. Some 17,000 buildings and 14,148 hectares of land were seized at that time. Several thousand applications for the restitution of property in downtown Warsaw are still waiting for an administrative decision to be made, Polish media reported on 6 July. -- Jakub Karpinski

ANOTHER DISMISSAL AT SLOVAK RADIO.
Slovak Radio Director Jan Tuzinsky on 4 July dismissed Martin Bartisek, editor in chief of Slovak Radio's Channel 1. Michal Michalcik, previously head of the international editorial office, was appointed to Bartisek's post, TASR reported. Tuzinsky said Bartisek was dismissed because he did not identify with the program's goals and the "principles of Slovak Radio." Earlier this year, a number of Slovak journalists protested the dismissal of a Slovak Radio U.S. correspondent who, in their opinion, was fired for political reasons. -- Jiri Pehe

ECONOMIC NEWS FROM SLOVAKIA.
The National Bank of Slovakia on 4 July reported that inflation reached 2.2% over the first three months of 1995. The annual rate of inflation stands at 11.3%. Although food prices decreased in the first quarter, the price of industrial goods grew by 4%, construction costs by 6%, and the price of building materials by 9%. The National Bank's hard currency reserves at the end of March stood at $1.96 billion, up $224 million since the end of 1994. -- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARIAN PREMIER CRITICAL OF IMF.
Gyula Horn on 5 July told Reuters that the International Monetary Fund has set "unrealistic monetary targets" for Hungary. Horn called on European Union governments to provide more assistance for the economic transformation not just of Hungary but of the whole Central European region. He said Hungary cannot agree to the IMF condition that this year's Hungarian budget deficit be half of last year's. According to Horn, his government is unable to implement a reduction of that size in just one year. "The IMF does not appreciate political risks of economic transition. Those solutions that exist in the West can only be applied partially in Central Europe and in Hungary in particular," argued the premier. -- Jiri Pehe

DISSATISFIED HUNGARIANS.
A Gallup poll of 18 countries published on 4 July shows that Hungarians are one of the world's most dissatisfied nations, international and Hungarian media reported. When asked how they viewed their lives, 51% said they were discontent. Mexicans were the second most dissatisfied nation in the poll, with a 50% rating. Icelanders were the most content, with a disenchantment rate of only 5%, followed by Canadians and Germans. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn was the second least liked national leader in the survey. Fifty-six percent of respondents disapproved of Horn's activities; only 25% were happy with his performance. -- Jiri Pehe



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 130, 6 July 1995
"ZUBAK DEMANDS PRECISE ANSWERS."
This is how Vjesnik on 6 July headlines its story on talks between Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak and French General Andre Soubirou. The Croats refuse to let the newly arrived troops of the Rapid Reaction Force into Tomislavgrad until key questions are cleared up regarding the RRF's mission. The Muslims and Croats want to know, among other things, why the troops are being deployed only in peaceful territory under their control and not in Serbian-held or battlefront areas. Suspicion is rife that the RRF does not want to antagonize the Serbs and will simply protect a UNPROFOR withdrawal from Bosnia. EU mediator Carl Bildt also talked to Zubak and promised answers within a few days, AFP reported. The VOA and Nasa Borba added that a UN commander said the RRF will force open a relief route to Sarajevo but that UN headquarters in Zagreb promptly overruled him. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN PLANE FIRES AT BIHAC POWER PLANT.
A Serbian Super Galeb jet, apparently based at the Udbina airfield in Krajina, flew into Bosnian airspace on 5 July and fired rockets at the Ostrozac power plant. It is unclear what damage, if any, was done to the facility, which is the only source of electricity for the embattled Bihac pocket. Bosnian government forces have been gaining territory there at Serbian expense. The VOA said that NATO did not retaliate against the violation of the no-fly zone because it could not determine that the plan had actually come from Udbina. Nasa Borba wrote on 6 July that NATO has no record of the flight at all. Reuters the previous day quoted Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying he wants an explanation from NATO leaders in Brussels. On a related subject, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the war in Bosnia has become a threat to global security because it has thrown into question the ability of international organizations to deal with a crisis. -- Patrick Moore

FERAL TRIBUNE EDITORS LAMBAST GOVERNMENT'S SILENCE.
Novi list on 6 July carries a statement by the editors of the independent satirical weekly criticizing national, regional, and local authorities for their silence following attacks against the paper on 26 -27 June. Thugs grabbed and publicly burned copies of Feral Tribune with journalists and television cameras present but no police. The editors suspect the governing party of at least complicity in the attacks, which were applauded by neo-fascist leader Mladen Schwarz. At least some of the thugs were from Australia, where right-wing sentiment is strong among Croatian emigrants. -- Patrick Moore

UPDATE ON RUMP YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS.
Nasa Borba on 6 July reports that the UN Security Council the previous day voted 14 to 0 to continue easing some sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Russia abstained from the vote. Sanctions related to travel and sports and cultural events will continue to be eased for an additional 75 days, until 18 September. They were first relaxed on 5 October 1994 following an announcement by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that Belgrade's contacts with the Bosnian Serbs side would be severed, except for humanitarian aid. Recent media reports, however, suggest that Milosevic was insincere about breaking relations with the Bosnian Serbs (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 July 1995). -- Stan Markotich

SANDZAK'S MUSLIM NATIONAL COUNCIL WRITES TO BILDT.
Sulejman Ugljanin, president of the Muslim National Council of the Sandzak, has sent a letter to EU mediator to the former Yugoslavia Carl Bildt reporting on the political situation in the region. The council claims that "terror and ethnic cleansing" are continuing. It also calls on the special group on the Sandzak at the Geneva conference to invite the parties involved to discuss a solution to the status of the Sandzak, Montena-fax reported on 5 July. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN EXTREMISTS WITHDRAW DEMAND FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO.
Valer Suian, executive secretary of the extremist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), has said that the PUNR's demand that it receive the foreign affairs portfolio was "just a joke," Cronica romana reported on 6 July. Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, had rejected the demand by its junior coalition partner as "blackmail" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 July 1995). -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIA ON PENDING BILATERAL TREATIES WITH NEIGHBORS.
Vasile Sofineti, deputy spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry, told a press conference on 5 July that "preliminary consultations" between Moldova and Romania began in Bucharest the same day, Radio Bucharest reported. The treaty will be "examined by experts from the two ministries" at a later date. Sofineti said the treaty will "embody the special, privileged, and preferential relationship" between the two states. In response to a question about the possible inclusion of Recommendation 1,201 in the treaty with Hungary, Sofineti said experts negotiating the document wish to have no outside interference and are "leaving all doors open" in order to successfully conclude the discussions. He said preparations were under way for a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers, who would seek to agree on a document that can be approved by their respective parliaments. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN PREMIER IN CHINA.
Nicolae Vacaroiu on 3 July began a five-day visit to China, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. He met with his counterpart, Li Peng, Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, and President Jiang Zeming. The talks focused on economic and technological cooperation. Radio Bucharest on 5 July reported that the two sides signed accords on long-term economic cooperation, public health, and mutual recognition of academic degrees. Vacaroiu is also meeting with businessmen in the different parts of China that he is visiting. His Asian tour includes visits to Vietnam and Pakistan. -- Michael Shafir

SNEGUR, SMIRNOV AGREE ON NON-VIOLENCE.
Radio Bucharest and Reuters on 5 July reported that Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and Igor Smirnov, leader of the separatist Dniester region, agreed in Chisinau the same day not to use military force or political pressure to settle the conflict in the region. They also agreed to ask Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to mediate. (Ukrainain parliament chairman Olexandr Moroz said during a visit to Chisinau last month that Ukraine was ready to do so.) Radio Bucharest reported that the two sides agreed on the Moldovan leu being used as a "parallel currency" in the breakaway region, alongside the coupon-ruble. It also reported that the agreement was signed by representatives from Russia and the OSCE, both of which are mediators in the conflict. Snegur and Smirnov, however, could not agree on the future legal status of the area. Smirnov insisted on a separate Dniester state within a confederation with Moldova, while Snegur was unwilling to offer more than autonomy to the region. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SLAMMED OVER DRUG DECISION.
Bulgarian officials on 5 July attacked a decision by the country's prosecutor-general, Ivan Tatarchev, not to confiscate illegally planted opium poppies, Reuters reported the same day. At least 22 hectares planted with opium poppies are known to exist, in violation of Bulgarian law as well as the UN convention on drugs. Tatarchev, who was asked by the Ministry of Health to investigate the issue, said growing the plants does not in itself constitute drug production. Health Minister Mimi Vitkova he was "astonished" by Tatarchev's stand, adding that Bulgaria will be censured by the UN. Bulgaria no longer grows poppies that are used in the production of pharmaceuticals. -- Stan Markotich

TURKISH PRESIDENT ON TIES WITH BULGARIA.
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, during his official three-day state visit to Bulgaria, announced on 5 July that Turkey and Bulgaria are planning to set up a free trade zone, but he provided no details, international media reported. Demirel also spoke to the Bulgarian parliament, expressing satisfaction over Bulgaria's treatment of its ethnic Turkish minority since the collapse of communism. -- Stan Markotich

GREEK-TURKISH WAR OF WORDS OVER PKK.
Following the recent meeting between Greek deputies and the leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Lebanon, Turkey has repeated allegations that the Greek government is backing the PKK, AFP reported on 5 July. Four Greek legislators from the ruling socialist party and two from the opposition participated in the visit. Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Omer Akbel said that Ankara "will not drop this matter," adding that documents and photos of the Greek deputies shaking hands with the PKK leader have been turned over to the Greek ambassador in Ankara. The charges prompted a swift denial on 4 July. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos called the claims "unfounded and defamatory." He said "Turkey must learn that this strategy of . . . exporting its domestic problems . . . constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and further alienates Europe and the West in general." -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIA REQUESTS DEFENSE TREATY WITH NORWAY.
Norway has received a request from Albania for a bilateral defense treaty, AFP reported on 5 July. According to a spokesman for the Norwegian Defense Ministry Albanian authorities have approached the Norwegian embassy in Tirana about such an accord. The Norwegian ministry is considering the request. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave







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