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.
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
CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION DRAWS DISTRICT LINES.
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
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.
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. --
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. --
RUSSIA WILL NOT RECYCLE PLUTONIUM IN GERMANY.
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
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
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
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. --
. . . 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. --
CHORNOBYL PLANT OFFICIALS WARN SARCOPHAGUS IS CRACKING.
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. --
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. --
POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION TO CONTINUE ITS WORK.
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
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
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.
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. --
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.
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
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.
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. --
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.
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
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
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave