Accessibility links

Newsline - September 27, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT DEBATES ECONOMIC POLICY TOWARDS CIS.
Sharp divisions emerged at a government meeting called to discuss President Boris Yeltsin's 14 September decree on the need for closer economic ties with the CIS, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 26 September. Some ministers argued in favor of extending credits to CIS firms to enable them to buy Russian machinery. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais objected, arguing that this would undermine Russian budgetary stability, but he was overruled by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The head of the State Committee for Metallurgy, Serafim Afonin, revealed that Russian had threatened to cut off electricity supplies to Kazakhstan if it went ahead with a deal to lease chromium deposits to a Japanese mining company. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.

WOMEN OF RUSSIA PUSH FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
TO STRENGTHEN DUMA.
The Women of Russia bloc set its main legislative goal for 1996 as amending the constitution to give the Duma the power to name and remove ministers. Duma faction leader Yekaterina Lakhova said the purpose of the amendment is to "free Russia of ministers like [Defense Minister] Pavel Grachev," ITAR-TASS reported. The movement's list includes approximately 100 names for the 225 spots to be determined by party list and 50 candidates running in single-member districts. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

YAKOVLEV TO FIGHT FOR SOLZHENITSYN'S TV SHOW.
Aleksandr Yakovlev, chairman of the Russian Public TV (ORT) board of directors, said he will fight to keep
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's talk show on Channel 1, Russian and Western agencies reported on 26 September. The show was dropped in a controversial reshuffling of ORT programming, to take effect on 1 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1995). Sergei Blagovolin, the ORT director general, has reportedly invited Solzhenitsyn to appear on different Channel 1 programs or host his own less frequent show, according to Reuters. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

NIZHNII NOVGOROD TO ELECT GOVERNOR, MAYOR IN DECEMBER.
The Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Legislative Assembly decided on 26 September that the oblast will elect its governor and Nizhnii Novgorod will elect its mayor on 17 December, the same day as the Duma elections, ITAR-TASS reported. President Boris Yeltsin authorized the elections as an exception to his decree that ordered all local elections to be held after the presidential elections in June 1996. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS THREATEN TO DISRUPT ELECTIONS.
Transmitter stations in some parts of Russia are threatening to stop broadcasting television programs on 1 October and even to disrupt technical services during the December elections, if wage arrears to communications workers are not paid. According to Russian media reports on 26 September, communication workers are owed 70 billion rubles ($15.6 million) in back pay. Communications enterprises are owed about 700 billion rubles by Russian TV and Russian Public TV (ORT), and transmitter stations have already stopped broadcasting some programs in the Far East and parts of Tver Oblast. The communications enterprises, in turn, owe power stations about 130 billion rubles ($28.9 million). ITAR-TASS on 27 September said total debts to the energy industry exceed 25 trillion rubles ($5.5 billion). -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA ASKS BELGIUM TO LET IN ZHIRINOVSKY.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Russian authorities are taking "all possible steps" to convince Brussels to reverse its decision to deny an entry visa to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), ITAR-TASS reported on 26 September. Belgium cited a possible "threat to public order" in denying Zhirinovsky permission to enter the country. While recognizing Belgium's right to refuse entry to private citizens, the ministry argues that the LDPR leader was requesting a visa as a member of an official State Duma delegation to the European Parliament. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV ADDRESSES UNITED NATIONS.
Speaking at the UN on 26 September, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, in a clear reference to the U.S. and NATO, accused "one state or a group of states" of unilaterally dividing the world into "friends and foes." Kozyrev lashed out at an August agreement between the UN Secretariat and NATO on the use of force in Bosnia, which was not explicitly cleared by the Security Council.
In a speech to the 50th UN General Assembly, Kozyrev called upon the UN to "radically change its attitude" by offering more support for Russian peacekeeping operations in the CIS.
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.


COUNCIL OF EUROPE REACTIVATES RUSSIAN APPLICATION.
The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe voted on 26 September to reactivate Russia's application for membership in the 36-member body, which had been suspended in January because of Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported. Council officials said Russia could become a full member by next January. Russian commentators, including Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee, have complained that Russia has been held to different standards than other former Soviet republics, and even suggested that Russia should forego membership in a body that treats it unfairly. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTH KOREA TO GET RUSSIAN TANKS THIS YEAR.
Russia will deliver T-80U tanks, BMP-3 armored fighting vehicles, and "Igla" anti-tank missiles to South Korea this year, the head of the state-owned Rosvooruzhenie arms export company told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. The deliveries, which will run for three years, are part of a deal signed earlier this year in which South Korea agreed to accept weapons in partial payment for Russia's debt to that country. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

SIX ARRESTED IN CITIBANK COMPUTER THEFT.
Police in St. Petersburg have made six more arrests in connection with the theft by computer of $10 million from Citibank, ITAR-TASS reported. Bank and law enforcement officials say a gang based in St. Petersburg broke into the bank's computerized cash-management system on numerous occasions and transferred money into their own accounts. Several people have already been arrested outside Russia and are facing charges in the U.S. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

SWEDISH POLICE OFFICER SUSPECTED OF GIVING RUSSIA SECRET INFORMATION.
A Swedish police officer has been accused of giving out secret information on Russians seeking political asylum in Sweden, Western agencies reported on 26 September. The man is suspected of accepting bribes to pass information on asylum-seekers' passports to Russian security officers.
A Swedish state prosecutor said the officer has been accused of misconduct and breaking police regulations but no formal charges have yet been filed. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

REBURIAL OF THE IMPERIAL FAMILY.
The remains of Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family will be reburied in the imperial family vault of the St. Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on 25 February 1996, the Orthodox feast of Absolution, Reuters reported on 26 September, quoting Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. The bones of the tsar, his wife, and three of their five children who were killed by Bolsheviks in 1918 near Yekaterinburg, were recently identified by DNA tests; the remains of the other two children have not been found. -- Anna Paretskaya, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA BLASTS PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM.
Russia's State Duma denounced the government's program to sell state-owned shares in major companies, calling it "illegal," Russian agencies reported on 26 September. The Duma earlier refused to endorse the program, which is now being implemented by presidential decree. Deputy Speaker Gennadii Seleznev warned investors that their purchases could be revoked by the Duma in the future, Interfax reported. The scheme, initiated by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, aims to sell banks the right to run major state companies in exchange for loans to cover the budget deficit, which reached 73 trillion rubles ($16 billion) this year. The government hopes to generate 9 trillion rubles in loans by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT BEGINS ISSUANCE OF SAVINGS BONDS.
In an effort to tap public savings to help close the budget deficit, the Russian government will begin issuing savings bonds worth 964 billion rubles ($215 million) on 27 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. The three-month bonds will carry an annual return of 103%, which is twice that offered by Sberbank, the national savings bank, and 15% more than the rates of commercial banks, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 26 September. Russians who entrusted their savings to financial institutions have seen them eroded by high inflation, low interest payments and the collapse of risky investment funds. They now hold an estimated $20 billion savings in cash, primarily dollar bills. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
RUSSIA NOT READY TO LIFT CUSTOMS CONTROL ON KAZAKHSTANI BORDER.
Russia is not yet ready to lift customs control on its border with Kazakhstan, a high-ranking officer of the Russian State Customs Committee told Interfax on 26 September. Kazakhstan unilaterally decided to close its customs offices on the border. The official said Kazakhstan is not yet ready to harmonize its system of regulating foreign economic relations with that of Russia and Belarus, which is the major condition for effectiveness in the customs union formed by the three countries in January 1995. Also, the closure of Russian customs offices on the 7,000 km. Russia-Kazakhstan border would mean "an open road for drugs from Central Asian republics, with which Kazakhstan has transparent borders," and an inflow of Chinese goods that are already abundant on the Russian market. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

CASPIAN STATES MEET IN ALMATY WITHOUT RUSSIA.
The second meeting of foreign ministry from four of the five Caspian states--Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Iran--opened in Almaty on 26 September, Interfax reported the same day. Kazakhstani Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Gizzatov lamented Russia's conspicuous absence "for unforeseen reasons." Russia and Iran prefer to define the Caspian Sea as a lake with resources that should be shared equally by coastal states; while Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan argue it is a sea that should be carved into sectors. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

KYRGYZ LOWER HOUSE APPROVES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
The Kyrgyz People's Assembly on 26 September voted 63-2 in favor of holding the presidential election on 24 December of this year, RFE/RL reported. The legislative assembly approved the election on 21 September. The constitutionality of this move is unclear, however. The constitution sets the president's term at five years, and President Askar Akaev was elected in October 1990 by the communist-era Supreme Soviet and then again following independence in October 1991. The announcement followed the defeat of a proposed referendum to extend Akaev's term until 2001. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIKISTAN'S NEW ECONOMIC REFORM PROGRAM.
Tajikistan plans a radical privatization program in order to revive its war-ravaged economy, according to a BBC report, citing a 19 August article in Tajikistan's Narodnaya gazeta. Privatization will begin in the areas of agriculture and services, later moving on to large industry. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

RIVAL TAJIK UNITS REACH COMPROMISE.
A Tajik government commission in the Kurgan-Tyube area has met with representatives of the 1st and 11th brigades and concluded an agreement on 25 September for the two sides to withdraw their heavy guns from the district center, according to ITAR-TASS. However, the commander of the 1st brigade, Makhmud Khudoyberdyev, refused to hand over weapons captured from the 11th during the fighting. The BBC reports that the death toll from the week's fighting has risen to 350, with 500 wounded, according to the BBC. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN ROLE IN CENTRAL ASIA QUESTIONED.
Anvar Rashidov, program anchor for the state-run Uzbek TV, sharply criticized Russia's trade and fiscal policies toward the Central Asian states, Interfax reported on 26 September. He said that the introduction of such measures as a currency corridor will only weaken Russia's ability to maintain its economic presence in the region. Those measures, coupled with an increased role for outside trading partners, will probably result in Russia being cut out of the region's strategic materials and cotton markets. -- Roger Kangas, OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA EXCHANGE BAIKONUR LEASING DOCUMENTS.
Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev and Vyacheslav Dolgov, the Russian ambassador to Kazakhstan, exchanged ratification papers on the lease of Baikonur cosmodrome in Almaty on 25 September, ITAR-TASS reported. The lease agreement, signed in December 1994, was ratified by the Kazakhstan in April 1995 and by Russia in May 1995. Under the treaty, Russia will rent Baikonur for 20 years at $115 million annually. The treaty will be followed by 20 supplementary agreements, including one on the joint administration of the adjacent town of Leninsk which will be largely financed by Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 September 1995). -- Vyacheslav Kozlov, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
UKRAINE MAKES PROGRESS TOWARD COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERSHIP.
Ukraine on 26 September moved one step closer to entry into the Council of Europe after the body's parliamentary assembly voted unanimously to approve its membership application, RFE/RL and Reuters reported the same day. Final approval is expected to be given on 19 October. Ukraine formally applied for membership in July 1992, but its entry was delayed because it did not meet many of the council's conditions for membership. But since then, legal experts advising the council have said that Ukraine has made "spectacular progress" in political reform and that it now complies with the organization's principles on democracy and human rights. Ukraine is obliged to ratify a series of international conventions within one year, including the European Convention on Human Rights and a convention on protection of minorities. It must also abolish the death penalty within three years and introduce an immediate moratorium on executions. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.


UKRAINE TO MAKE FURTHER CUTS IN ARMED FORCES.
Ukraine intends to establish a 350,000-strong military, Interfax reported on 25 September. This goal was said to be in the government's plan of action submitted recently to the parliament. The report said that at present, there are slightly more than 400,000 personnel in the armed forces. The government document was also said to call for giving priority to servicemen's "social well-being" and for urgent measures to provide more housing and higher salaries. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA HANDS OVER PALDISKI BASE TO ESTONIA.
Russian Rear Admiral Aleksandr Olkhovikov on 26 September signed a document officially handing over the former Soviet submarine base at Paldiski to Estonia, BNS reported. The Russian military officially left Estonia on 31 August 1994, but the 208 personnel who remained at Paldiski to dismantle the base's two nuclear reactors are to leave the country by 30 September. Estonian President Lennart Meri said the signing of the document marked the real end of Soviet occupation and that he hoped Paldiski would become a normal Estonian port. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

POPULAR SUPPORT FOR LITHUANIAN POLITICIANS, PARTIES.
A poll of 1,014 residents taken on 12-19 September by the Lithuanian-British company Baltic Surveys showed a sharp decrease in the popularity of Adolfas Slezevicius, BNS reported on 26 September. The share of respondents viewing him favorably has declined by 10 percentage points since August, to 14%. Center Union Chairman Romualdas Ozolas, who has accused the premier of corruption, is currently the most popular political figure, having increased his favorable rating by seven points to 51%. The Homeland Union was the most popular party, overtaking both the Christian Democratic and Democratic Labor Parties. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LITHUANIAN PREMIER IN PHILIPPINES.
Adolfas Slezevicius, after meeting with high-ranking officials in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and China, arrived in Manila on 24 September for an official visit, Western agencies reported the next day. He discussed political, economic, and cultural cooperation with President Fidel Ramos. Officials from the two countries signed a treaty granting each other most-favored-nation trade status and a science and technology agreement calling for joint research and the exchange of students. Slezevicius on 26 September visited the former U.S. military base at Subic Bay, saying its conversion to a free economic zone could be a model for turning former Soviet military bases in Lithuania into special economic zones. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN POLAND.
Jacques Santer met with Polish President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy on 26 September, Polish and international media reported. He also held talks with Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the Polish primate. Santer said that European integration has a spiritual character and that entering the EU does not mean relinquishing national identity. Oleksy said that Santers confirmed all past declarations that the EU will eventually admit Poland as a member. Leaders of those countries with EU associate agreements, including Poland, will be invited to the EU December summit meeting in Madrid. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER ON PENSIONS.
President Lech Walesa on 26 September said it is highly unlikely that he will sign the bill on pensions, which foresees only one increase in pensions next year that is 2.5% above the inflation level. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy asked Walesa not to veto the bill, since this may increase the 1996 budget deficit by another 5 billion zloty ($2.1 billion). According to Oleksy, the bill is misunderstood and is being used to spread misinformation during the presidential election campaign, Polish dailies reported on 27 September. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH GOVERNMENT APRROVES INCREASE IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES.
The government has approved a 3% increase in military expenditures. Oleksy noted that "conditions in the army are very unsatisfactory from the point of view of the standards that would be obligatory for Poland if it were to join NATO." The premier also announced a five-year plan for the modernization of the army, Polish dailies reported on 27 September. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH PARLIAMENT PASSES HARD CURRENCY LAW.
The Czech parliament on 26 September passed a hard currency law that will make the Czech koruna fully convertible, Czech and international media reported. Under the law, limits on the amounts of Czech koruny individuals can exchange for other currencies will be abolished. Czechs will also be allowed to directly invest abroad and will no longer be obliged to offer their hard currency to Czech banks. Both Czech citizens and companies will be allowed to buy real estate abroad without limitations. The law also liberalizes the system under which foreign banks can lend to Czech companies. The International Monetary Fund is expected to soon confirm the full convertibility of the koruna with a statement that the Czech Republic has fullfilled the conditions of full convertibility, while Western banks are expected to gradually start accepting Czech koruny in exchange for other hard currencies. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK SECRET SERVICE ACCUSES POLICE OF PRESSURING ITS AGENTS.
Slovak Information Service (SIS) director Ivan Lexa on 26 September sent a letter to Attorney-General Michal Valo accusing police investigating the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son of "using criminal methods" in their investigation, Slovenska Republika reported. Lexa argued that Bratislava police have used "psychological pressure" against SIS agents and revealed state secrets by publicizing names of two SIS employees suspected of involvement in the kidnapping. He demanded that the Bratislava police department be taken off the case. Lexa has also filed charges against Jaroslav Simunic, the police investigator originally assigned to the case, who was removed after revealing possible SIS involvement. Lexa is a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, who has been involved in a long-running dispute with President Kovac. Also on 26 September, police released a suspect in the case at the request of the regional prosecutor for Bratislava. Police investigator Peter Vacok has asked Lexa to reveal whether the man is an SIS employee. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS.
The Slovak Constitutional Court on 26 September rejected a proposal by 30 opposition deputies that the constitutionality of a law on the organization of ministries and other central organs of the state administration be examined. According to Constitutional Court Chairman Milan Cic, "the law is in harmony with the constitution because it is not in conflict with it." Meanwhile, Sme reported on 27 September that 47 opposition deputies have asked the court to review the amendment to the large-scale privatization law passed on 6 September, which cancels coupon privatization. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.




OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
BOSNIAN POLITICAL AGREEMENT REACHED . . .
The foreign ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and rump Yugoslavia approved a plan in New York on 26 September to provide a postwar constitutional framework for Bosnia. The republic will have free and democratic elections under OSCE supervision 30 days after monitors in major towns confirm that freedom of movement, speech, and the media have been restored, as well as basic human rights and the right of the refugees to return home or receive compensation for their property. Voting will take place in both the Croat-Muslim federation and the Bosnian Serb republic, Hina reported. A parliament, presidency, and Constitutional Court will be set up, with two-thirds of the legislature and presidency elected from the federation and the remaining third from among the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BUT PROBLEMS GALORE REMAIN.
The agreement leaves open a host of questions, including the composition of the government and the control of foreign policy, defense, and the police. It also sounds very similar to the arrangement that was in place when the Serbs launched the war in 1992 and that was a recipe for gridlock. The question of territorial divisions remains unsolved, and the Bosnian government has been charged by some of its own citizens with having agreed to partition the country with war criminals. It is also unclear who will represent the 150,000 or so "forgotten Serbs," who refuse to recognize Radovan Karadzic's authority and remain loyal to a multiethnic Bosnia. U.S. President Bill Clinton nonetheless said "we are making progress and we are determined to succeed," the International Herald Tribune reported on 27 September. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

GENERAL MLADIC REAPPEARS.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 27 September said that Croatian and Bosnian Serb forces exchanged artillery fire across the border region between Slavonski Brod and Novska. The International Herald Tribune and Nasa Borba reported that the Bosnian Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic, resurfaced at a press conference in Banja Luka after having been out of public view for some time. He said that he feels "better than most people my age" and endorsed solving "disputed questions by diplomatic means." But he warned that "if war continues, even greater suffering will be produced, not only in this area but wider as well." The indicted war criminal also blasted an "armed media and diplomatic war going on against the Serb people, the purpose of which is to demonize and deprive them of their legitimate rights." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.


TUDJMAN INSISTS ON REFUGEE REPATRIATION.
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has announced that Croatia will continue repatriating refugees on territories recaptured from Bosnian Serbs during the recent Croatian-Bosnian government offensive in western Bosnia, despite UN warnings not to do so, Reuters reported on 25 September. Under Tudjman's plan, out of a total of 200,000 Bosnian Croat and Muslim refugees in Croatia, 100,000 will be returned to "liberated" areas of Bosnia. Croatian officials claim that the Bosnian government has agreed to this decision, but Bosnian Minister for Refugees Muhamed Ceric told the Onasa news agency that his government was not consulted on the issue. UNHCR officials in Zagreb say that if refugees are repatriated close to the current front lines, their safety cannot be guaranteed. -- Daria Sito Sucic, OMRI, Inc.

BOSNIAN PREMIER ON NEED FOR BETTER RELATIONS BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND CROATS.
Haris Silajdzic has stressed the importance of improving relations between Bosnia's Muslims and Croats to facilitate the distribution of territories taken by the allies. He said that differences are being overcome through dialogue, Nasa Borba reported on 25 September. International media say the relationship between the allies is tense due to the lack of agreement over who will control which territories. Meanwhile, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has written a letter to Tudjman protesting that the Bosnian Muslim minority in Croatia--which was the second largest national minority there after the Serbs, according to the 1991 census--does not have guaranteed representatives in the parliament, unlike some other minority groups. -- Daria Sito Sucic, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVENIAN PREMIER ON EUROPEAN UNION ISSUES.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, in an interview with Vienna's Der Standard on 23-24 September, reaffirmed Slovenia's commitment to joining and backing the EU, observing that membership is a priority for Slovenia. But he added that "we are trying to broaden our trade relations with other groups of countries." He also discussed Italian-Slovenian bilateral ties, suggesting that what appear to be Rome's efforts to impede, if not altogether block, Slovenian moves to join the EU may be placing renewed strain on relations that have seemed to be improving since early 1995. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.


ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH CLINTON.
Ion Iliescu met with U.S. President Bill Clinton in the White House on 26 September, international agencies reported. They discussed, among other things, bilateral economic relations, the granting of permanent most-favored-nation status to Romania, and the prospects for its admission to NATO. Iliescu said after the talks that Clinton praised Romania's economic reforms so far, its democratization process, and its initiative for a "historic reconciliation" with Hungary. But a senior U.S. official was quoted by Reuters as saying that while the White House's attitude on MFN was "positive," the granting of permanent status was still conditional on continued progress on several issues, including fair treatment of the country's Hungarian minority. Defense Secretary William Perry stressed after meeting with Iliescu that one of the five conditions for the former communist countries' admission to NATO was the settlement of conflicts with neighbors. -- Michael Shafir and Matyas Szabo, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIA LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR RUSSIA'S ADMISSION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
The Romanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has laid down three conditions for Russia's admission to the council, Radio Bucharest reported on 25 September. It said that Russia should return Romanian state treasures that Russia failed to return after WW I; the former 14th army contingents should be withdrawn from Moldova; and the European Parliament should declare the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of 1939 "null and void." That agreement led to the annexation of large chunks of Romanian territories that are now part of Ukraine and the Moldovan Republic. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT TO AMEND PROPERTY RESTITUTION LAW.
The Chamber of Deputies on 26 September voted to accept a Constitutional Court ruling that two articles of the property restitution law passed by the parliament earlier this year violate the country's basic law. Radio Bucharest reported that the Liberal Party `93 and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania did not vote in protest at what they called the Constitutional Court's muted criticism of the law. The court ruled that the article limiting restitution to Romanian citizens resident in the country restricted the freedom of movement. It also objected to an article that made no distinction between property legally or illegally confiscated. In the case of the latter, the property would have to be returned to the owner after the parliament reformulated the law. While the legislation now extends the right of compensation to all Romanian citizens, regardless of where they reside, it limits restitution to one apartment and provides only minimal compensation for other confiscated property. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

MOLDOVA PROTESTS RUSSIAN-BACKED ARRESTS IN TIRASPOL.
The Moldovan delegation to the Joint Control Commission for Transdniestrian Conflict Settlement protested on 26 September that Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian forces, had supported the arrest of two Moldovan policemen, Infotag reported the same day. The delegation termed the arrest an "undisguised provocation by the Tiraspol secret services" aimed at "undermining the negotiation process and destabilizing the situation in the region." Yevnevich declared that the two were arrested "as Transdniestrian citizens for crimes committed while serving in the region's militia." The Moldovan delegation responded that the statement indicated the Russian commander's support for the "illegal, groundless and provocative action." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

AMMUNITION DESTRUCTION TO RESUME IN MOLDOVA.
The Russian Group of Forces in Moldova (formerly the 14th army) will resume destroying obsolete ammunition next week, Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. The destruction was suspended on 17 August after local authorities complained about the danger the operation posed to the local environment. Yevnevich indicated that money was now the local authorities' most pressing concern and said if the situation continued to develop along these lines "the only thing left for me to do will be to send a bill to the local authorities for the blasting operations." He indicated that 5,600 pre-WWII mines and shells have been destroyed and that another 4,000 await destruction. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.


GERMANY SAYS BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTOR MUST NOT REOPEN.
German Environment Minister Angela Merkel on 26 September urged Bulgaria not to put back into service Unit 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear reactor, Reuters reported the same day. Merkel said everything must be done "to prevent this reactor starting up without sufficient safety precautions." Unit 1 was shut down in February for refueling, repairs, and inspections; it is scheduled to be brought back on line in the next few weeks. Bulgaria so far has rejected pleas to close down any of the four units at Kozloduy because the reactor provides around 40% of Bulgaria's electricity. Merkel said that "Bulgaria's energy worries ahead of the forthcoming winter are understandable but safety must have priority." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




XS
SM
MD
LG