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Newsline - November 27, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 229, 27 November 1995
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENTS.
Following a meeting in Sochi, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his Ukrainian counterpart, Valerii Shmarov, signed 26 bilateral documents, Ukrainian and Russian agencies reported on 25 November. Grachev hailed the meeting as a "change in the military and political climate between the two countries." However, as has already become traditional in Ukrainian-Russian meetings, many difficult problems were deferred rather than resolved. NTV, for example, reported that while agreement had been reached on forming a jointly-financed ballistic missile defense system using former Soviet radars located in Ukraine, the two sides remain divided on the issue of a CIS air defense system. Grachev and Shmarov did, however, sign a number of agreements and protocols covering such issues as the transit through Ukraine of Russian troops now based in Moldova, Russian purchase of Ukrainian strategic missile systems and heavy bombers, and the flank limitations of the 1990 CFE treaty. -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish

RUSSIA TO BUY UKRAINIAN MISSILES, BOMBERS.
At the Sochi meeting, Russia agreed to buy from Ukraine 32 SS-19 ICBMs--probably all that remains of the 130 ex-Soviet SS-19s once deployed in Ukraine. The head of Russia's Strategic Missile Troops, Col. Gen. Igor Sergeev, told Interfax that the acquisition would allow "Russia's nuclear potential to be maintained at the necessary level until 2009." The purchase marks a shift in Russian strategic planning, as 10 of the 170 SS-19s deployed in Russia itself have already been destroyed. Under the terms of the still unratified START II treaty, Russia would retain 105 SS 19s as single-warhead missiles in silos, but it is now proposing that it be allowed to keep all 170 SS 19s as single-warhead missiles in their silos. In addition, Russian Air Force chief Petr Deinekin told Interfax that his country had decided to eventually buy all 19 Tu-160 "Blackjack" and 25 Tu-95 "Bear" bombers and more than 300 strategic cruise missiles from Ukraine. -- Doug Clarke

COURT WILL NOT EXAMINE ELECTORAL LAW IN THE FUTURE.
Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov said that it is up to the parliament to decide how to set up the country's electoral system, not the court. The court decided not to review the electoral law on 20 November after the question came up in the heat of the campaign, saying that any action on its part could "complicate the electoral process without justification," ITAR-TASS reported on 24 November. On the same day, the Duma also rejected any attempts to change the electoral law before the vote. -- Robert Orttung

SHUMEIKO FOUNDS NEW MOVEMENT.
A group of 22 initiators, including Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko, Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel, and former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Polevanov, are planning to create a new political movement in December with the tentative name Russian Reforms-New Course, Russian Public TV reported on 21 November. Shumeiko has been unfailingly loyal to President Yeltsin and has until now not joined any political parties. Speculation in Moscow suggests that the party's goal is to support Yeltsin in the June 1996 presidential campaign, or possibly even Shumeiko if he enters the race, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 23 November. The leaders of the regions in the new movement are calling for Moscow to sign treaties guaranteeing the regions' powers, similar to those signed with the ethnic republics. Yeltsin himself met with Rossel on 24 November, and is reportedly close to signing such an agreement for Sverdlovsk. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA RULES ORT ILLEGAL.
The Duma passed a bill on reorganizing and privatizing state television and radio stations on 24 November that makes the recent transformation of Ostankino into Russian Public TV (ORT) illegal. The bill would require privatization to be conducted according to rules established in federal law and all privatizations that took place before the rules are established would be overruled, Radio Rossii reported. Yeltsin organized the creation of ORT in November 1994. It is 51% state owned. On 25 November, ORT reported that Yeltsin had already vetoed a similar bill and claimed that, if approved, the law would force the closure of NTV and a number of independent regional stations. -- Robert Orttung

STABILITY DEPUTY MURDERED.
Duma Deputy Sergei Markidonov was shot dead on 26 November while campaigning in the town of Petrovsk-Zabaikalskii in Chita Oblast in eastern Siberia. Police said Markidonov was assassinated by his bodyguard, who then tried to commit suicide, according to Russian and Western media. The 34-year-old Markidonov was elected to the Duma as a member of Russia's Choice but later moved to the centrist group Stability. He is the fourth deputy to have been murdered since the December 1993 elections, and his death is likely to provoke a renewed outcry over the government's failure to deal with the current crime wave. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN FIRES MILITARY'S TOP FINANCIAL OFFICER.
President Boris Yeltsin fired the Defense Ministry's budget director on 23 November for "gross financial violations and insufficient compliance with a government resolution," ITAR-TASS reported. Interfax quoted presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev as saying that Col. Gen. Vasilii Vorobev had been warned of the need to make sure troops were paid on time and also to meet the military's obligations to local power companies. On the same day, Yeltsin issued another decree banning power cuts to military installations and instructing the government to pay the military's debts for utilities and other supplies. -- Doug Clarke

LOCAL PAPER UNDER PRESSURE IN VOLOGDA.
Roman Romanenko, deputy editor of the Vologda newspaper Russkii Sever, was attacked and beaten by unknown assailants, shortly after publishing an article asking where Vologda Governor Nikolai Podgornov acquired the money to build a lavish new dacha on a civil servant's salary, Izvestiya reported on 25 November. The Vologda paper has faced persistent pressure from the authorities since August, when it reprinted an Izvestiya article containing allegations against Podgornov. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

KOZYREV "OUT OF THE LOOP" ON UKRAINE AND BOSNIA TALKS.
Speaking with journalists after a 24 November meeting with his Turkmen counterpart, Boris Skikhmyradov, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said his ministry was not involved in preparing the military discussions between Ukraine and Russia. Kozyrev added that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev was handling the negotiations and reporting directly to President Yeltsin. Kozyrev also admitted he knew little about the Russian position in ongoing talks with NATO about the planned Bosnian peace implementation force, in which Grachev is also representing Russia. Kozyrev's exclusion from the negotiations is a further signal that Yeltsin is not confident in him and demonstrates the uncoordinated character of Russian foreign policy decision-making. -- Scott Parrish

FUROR OVER ARTICLE BY U.S. DIPLOMAT.
An article by a U.S. diplomat that describes the Russian government as an oligarchy in which political and economic power is held by narrow cliques prompted a formal protest from the Russian Foreign Ministry on 24 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. The article, "The New Russian Regime" written by Thomas Graham, a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, appeared in the 23 November edition of Nezavisimaya gazeta. The ministry demanded "an official public explanation" of the article's content. Graham told journalists the article had been cleared for publication by the State Department, while Richard Hoagland, an embassy spokesman, said the article expressed only Graham's personal views, not those of the U.S. government. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, TURKEY AGAIN AT ODDS OVER STRAITS.
Rules recently imposed by Turkey on merchant shipping through the Black Sea straits have inflicted significant economic damage on Russia and are a violation of the 1936 Montreux Convention, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told a Moscow briefing on 23 November. Interfax quoted Karasin as saying that Russian ships had been detained 249 times since the new rules went into effect on 1 July 1994, causing a loss of $670,000. On 25 November, ITAR-TASS reported that Russia had sent a letter to the UN arguing that the new rules violate the convention. Worried about the dangers of an accident in the Bosporus and Dardenelles straits, Turkey now allows large vessels to pass through the straits only during daylight and requires them to give 24-hour advance notification before making the transit. There are separate special notification requirements for vessels with nuclear or chemical cargoes. -- Doug Clarke

RADIOACTIVE CONTAINER UNEARTHED IN MOSCOW PARK.
A container holding low-level radioactive cesium-137 was unearthed in Moscow's Izmailovskii park on 23 November by NTV after Chechen commander Shamil Basaev told them where his men had put it, Russian and Western media reported. Federal Security Service (FSB) officials said the cesium posed no threat to the population. NTV broadcast an interview with Basaev taped two weeks earlier in which the Chechen commander said his men had smuggled four such parcels into Russia and that at least two are packed with explosives and could be detonated at any time. Basaev has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear or chemical weapons in Moscow if the Chechen conflict is not resolved. The FSB thanked the station for turning over the container but chastised it for uncovering the material on its own. -- Penny Morvant

THREAT OF ISLAMIC TERRORISM IN RUSSIA.
International Islamic organizations are responsible for much of the intelligence and terrorist activity that takes place in Russia and more than 60 such organizations are accredited in the Russian Federation, NTV reported on 25 November, quoting an unnamed source in the Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB source said that many "tourists" who visit Russia from Muslim countries become Islamic preachers once they arrive, and proceed to establish terrorist organizations in the country and recruit people for training abroad. The Interior Ministry and FSB say they are hamstrung by current legislation in their fight against such organizations. -- Anna Paretskaya

CENTRAL BANK INDEPENDENCE WILL BE PUT TO THE TEST.
The head of the Duma Budget Committee, Mikhail Zadornov, emphasized the Central Bank's autonomy in an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 22 November. He claimed that the bank "practically fully determines exchange rate policy" and is independent of both the president and the Duma with regard to control over credit emissions. He suggested that it is this independence which made it possible for the Duma to almost unanimously approve the appointment of Sergei Dubinin as its new head. However, certain industrialists and their Duma supporters are putting increasing pressure on the government to allow the ruble to devalue. A decision on the future parameters of the ruble corridor (currently 4,300-4,900 to $1) is expected later this week. -- Peter Rutland



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 229, 27 November 1995
KAZAKHSTAN COAL MINE EXPLOSION KILLS 10.
A methane gas explosion at a coal mine in Shakhtinsk in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan killed 10 miners on 23 November, Reuters reported on 26 November. Although the investigation is continuing, the methane build-up in the pit has been attributed to defects in the ventilation system. -- Bhavna Dave

REFERENDUM ON RUSSIAN LANGUAGE TO BE HELD IN KYRGYZSTAN.
A referendum will be held in Kyrgyzstan on 24 December, the same day as the presidential election, to decide the status of the Russian language in the republic, Reuters reported. The move is aimed at curtailing the exodus of Russian-speaking people but appears to be only a token arrangement. Radio Rossii reported on 24 November that while Russian can become an "official" language within the republic, the Assembly of People's Deputies is against requiring the government to use it, claiming that the constitution allows for only one government language--Kyrgyz. -- Bruce Pannier

IRANIAN MILITARY TEAM IN TURKMENISTAN.
In the first visit of its kind, an Iranian Defense Ministry delegation arrived in Ashgabat two days of talks on 21 November, the Turkmen Press news agency reported. At the talks, delegates proposed that the two countries share their experience in the development of a military. They also agreed on regular exchanges of military delegations and considered joint undertakings, including military exercises, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 November. -- Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 229, 27 November 1995
UKRAINIAN LEADERS SAY G-7 AID OFFER IS INSUFFICIENT TO CLOSE CHORNOBYL.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk said late last week that the latest offer of $2.2 billion in loans and grants by the G-7 powers was insufficient to shut down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2,000, international and Ukrainian agencies reported. It was the first time Kuchma had doubted whether the station can be closed by that deadline, despite pledging in April that it would be. Kuchma said the latest G-7 offer, made during talks in Kiev last week, was inadequate to cover the construction of a new permanent encasing to replace the current crumbling sarcophagus around the ruined fourth reactor. Marchuk said if the Western powers do not come up with $4 billion, Ukraine will proceed with modernization of the two reactors. Meanwhile, the parliament on 24 November ratified an EU loan package worth 85 million ECU to supplement the country's hard currency reserves and support its balance of payments, Ukrainian Radio reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUS'S TOP COURT MAKES ELECTION OF PARLIAMENT MORE DIFFICULT.
Belarus's highest court on 23 November changed its mind on the rules governing parliamentary elections, Reuters reported. It ruled that a 50% turnout was needed to validate the by-elections for the 141 seats that were not filled in May because of low voter turnout. The court in October agreed that the parliament could lower the threshold to 25%. Asserting that the same rules should apply for electing parliament deputies, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka had demanded that the court change its ruling. Lukashenka has severely restricted media coverage for the elections, which are to take place on 29 November. He has vowed to introduce direct presidential rule if a full-fledged parliament is not elected. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA SIGNS FORMAL EU APPLICATION.
Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 24 November signed Estonia's formal application for full membership in the European Union, ETA reported. Vahi said that he was optimistic that Estonia will become an EU member since it meets the membership criteria "fairly well." At the same time, he acknowledged it will take time and require a referendum. The Danish and Swedish parliaments recently ratified the association membership agreements of the three Baltic states with the EU, which were signed in June. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS NEW GOVERNMENT.
The Saeima on 23 November rejected by a vote of 51 to 48 the right-of-center government proposed by prime minister candidate Maris Grinblats, BNS reported. Ziedonis Cevers, head of the National Conciliation Bloc, said after talks with President Guntis Ulmanis that his proposed cabinet would probably not now include Joachim Siegerist, chairman of the Popular Movement for Latvia. Ulmanis had declared that Siegerist was an extremist whom he would not allow to be a minister. -- Saulius Girnius

PRIVATIZATION BILL SCRAPPED IN POLAND.
The Polish Constitutional Tribunal on 22 November declared as void the bill on privatization and commercialization, which President Lech Walesa vetoed in July. Walesa's veto was rejected by the Sejm, and the president appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal, saying the bill "violates the government's exclusive authority and the constitutional principle of the division of power." The tribunal agreed with the president's arguments. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH PRESIDENT VETOES TAX BILL.
Lech Walesa on 25 November vetoed the bill providing for new tax classes (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 October 1995), Polish dailies reported on 27 November. Walesa explained his move by saying that the bill would restrict "initiatives for economic development." He also questioned the provision stating that the new tax thresholds will not be adjusted to keep step with inflation and criticized the bill for not allowing donations for charitable purposes to be deducted from taxes. --
Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH COALITION PARTIES FAIL TO AGREE ON SENATE ELECTIONS.
Leaders of the four parties in the Czech governing coalition on 24 November failed to agree on a date for the first elections to the upper chamber of parliament, the Senate, Czech media reported. The Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and the Christian Democratic Party want the elections to be held concurrently with the regular parliamentary elections, which the four parties agreed should take place on 31 May and 1 June 1996. The Civic Democratic Alliance and Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party would prefer the Senate ballot to be held in the fall. A meeting of the coalition parties later this week should decide the issue. President Vaclav Havel, who is responsible for calling elections after consulting with Klaus, has already said he would prefer the parliamentary and Senate votes to be held separately. -- Steve Kettle

EURO DEPUTIES REJECT SLOVAK CRITICISM.
Members of the European Parliament on 24 November denied that the EU has interfered in Slovakia's internal affairs by criticizing the state of democracy in the country, Reuters reported. The agency quoted Herbert Boesch--the Austrian head of the European delegation, which met Slovak parliament deputies to discuss strengthening dialogue--as saying that they did not accept Slovak charges that their concerns were based on one-sided information. Slovak parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic told the meeting that diplomatic notes from the U.S. and EU, together with the European Parliament's resolution last week calling on Slovakia to show greater respect for human rights and democracy, were creating dangerous tensions in Slovakia. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON DEFENDS HIMSELF IN TV BROADCAST.
Michal Kovac Jr., in a program broadcast by Slovak Television on 25 November, rejected accusations of his involvement in fraudulent business transactions, Slovak and international media reported. Kovac Jr., who was abducted to Austria on 31 August and detained there, called the charges "complete lies." The accusations were made a week earlier on STV by Peter Krylov, who was convicted in Germany of fraud and implicated the son of the Slovak president. Kovac Jr. said he had never had any business connections with Krylov and accused state-run STV of not bothering to seek proof of Krylov's charges, which discredited both him and "above all, my father." -- Steve Kettle

HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER TENDERS RESIGNATION . . .
Lajos Bokros on 23 November offered his resignation after the Constitutional Court declared another part of his austerity package unconstitutional, Hungarian media reported. Bokros claimed that the court's recent rulings--including annulling a government decision to raise mortgage interests--have drastically reduced the government's scope for action in economic policy. Prime Minister Gyula Horn refused to accept Bokros's resignation while Bokros made it clear that his future moves will depend on whether the government's powers are broadened. Meanwhile, at their annual congress this weekend, the Socialists approved a policy statement favoring economic stabilization and maintaining the present governing coalition, thus strengthening Bokros in his position. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

. . . AS DOES EDUCATION MINISTER.
Gabor Fodor also tendered his resignation on 24 November, saying he cannot accept a government decision to cut spending on public education next year. He added that he had not received the necessary support from Horn to back up his work, Hungarian newspapers reported. Fodor's resignation was accepted by Premier Horn and goes into effect on 1 January, following the conclusion of discussions on the 1996 budget. Fodor, a member of the Alliance of Free Democrats, told reporters his resignation is related neither to the recent teachers' demonstrations nor to Bokros's resignation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 229, 27 November 1995
BOSNIAN SERBS ACCEPT DAYTON AGREEMENT.
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic gathered together top Serbian, Montenegrin, rump Yugoslav, and Bosnian Serb leaders outside Belgrade on 23 November. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote two days later that Bosnian Serb chief Radovan Karadzic and his associates accepted the Dayton agreement, which parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik had earlier criticized. Karadzic said after the Belgrade meeting that the peace accord was "painful" for his people but that he would seek to obtain changes by "political means," not military ones. According to the Dayton text, Milosevic is obliged to ensure that the Bosnian Serbs comply with it. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERBS THREATEN "A NEW BEIRUT."
Bosnian Serbs, while accepting the Dayton peace plan, have recently staged protests against establishing a unified city administration for Sarajevo. Karadzic met with Bosnian Serb leaders on 26 November, and international media reported that the Serbs insisted that parts of the Dayton agreement dealing with Sarajevo and with the international peace force be renegotiated. German media quoted him as saying his troops will stay in place until this happens. Karadzic told BBC TV that without his approval the treaty is "worth nothing," and he threatened that Sarajevo could become "a new Beirut in Europe." BBC Radio commented that he was "trying to scare the U.S. Congress" into blocking plans to send 20,000 troops to Bosnia and thereby trying to upset the entire peace agreement. Mlada fronta Dnes wrote on 27 November that the Bosnian Serbs are determined not to yield on Sarajevo and will "defend every house" rather than give up some districts currently under their control. -- Patrick Moore

WHAT NOW FOR BOSNIAN SERBS?
Top U.S. officials made it clear on 26 November that the Dayton agreement will not be renegotiated and that Karadzic, as an indicted war criminal, could face arrest if he tries to attend the signing in Paris. Madeleine Albright, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told AFP: "If there is any kind of [armed] action [on the ground in Bosnia] by rogue elements, they are going to get whacked." Speculation has been rife that Milosevic might deal with the problem of war criminals by forcing Karadzic into retirement and offering General Ratko Mladic a top post in the rump Yugoslav army, where he would still be in a position to influence Bosnian affairs. Milosevic might then offer formal leadership of the Bosnian Serbs to someone from Banja Luka or to Nikola Koljevic. The latter is a professor who is often portrayed as a moderate, but whom former U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmermann described in Foreign Affairs as "directing artillery fire on the civilian population of Sarajevo." -- Patrick Moore

IS SERBIA STILL MANUFACTURING POISON GAS?
The BBC, citing ITV's program "World in Action," reported on 26 November that Serbia is continuing to produce sarin, a poison nerve gas, raising questions about its possible future use and why Belgrade apparently did not make it available to the Bosnian Serbs. In other news, ultranationalist leaders in Serbia continue to criticize Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for his role at the Dayton peace talks. Nasa Borba on 24 November quoted Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party and accused war criminal, as dubbing the peace accord "the greatest sellout and the greatest defeat ever in history of our people." He added that Serbs were "disappointed" with the deal. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIAN TROOPS TORCHING MRKONJIC GRAD.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 27 November reported that uniformed Croats are systematically looting and burning properties in Mrkonjic Grad and surrounding areas. Croatian forces took the region in the weeks before the peace conference but will return it to the Serbs rather than yield land to them along the northern supply corridor. The daily also wrote about the extensive devastation of Roman Catholic churches and other property in Croatia by the Krajina Serbs during the four years of their uprising. -- Patrick Moore

PREVLAKA PENINSULA AT CENTER OF CROATIAN CONTROVERSY.
All local opposition parties from the Dubrovnik region on 26 November protested that the possible swap of the Prevlaka peninsula, which controls access to Montenegro's Bay of Kotor, for the Serb-controlled Dubrovnik hinterland, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Meanwhile, Vecernji list and Slobodna Dalmacija recently published interviews with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mate Granic saying that Croatia emerged from Dayton with its international borders intact, referring to Prevlaka and eastern Slavonia. He said that the Serbs and Montenegrins demanded certain "territorial swaps" but that no discussions can start before both Croatia and rump Yugoslavia officially recognize each other. -- Daria Sito Sucic

PERRY IN MACEDONIA.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, during his visit to Macedonia on 23-24 November, said that 25 countries have so far offered to contribute troops to the 60,000-strong peacekeeping force for Bosnia, international agencies reported. He added that the mainly NATO force would be deployed very quickly after the signing of a peace agreement in Paris in early December and that there would be enough troops in Bosnia within weeks to carry out essential tasks. Perry also met with Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, who appeared in public for the first time since the assassination attempt on 3 October. Perry was accompanied by the defense ministers of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, which have 1,100 peacekeeping troops deployed in Macedonia. -- Fabian Schmidt

SLOVENIA TO BECOME MEMBER OF FREE TRADE ASSOCIATION.
Ljubljana on 25 November signed an agreement, to go into effect on 1 January, whereby Slovenia will become a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Slovenia joins the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in CEFTA. Reuters quoted Slovenian Minister of Economic Relations and Development Janko Dezelak as saying "we expect trade with CEFTA members will significantly increase as a result of the agreement." -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL RESTITUTION LAW.
Ion Iliescu on 24 November promulgated a controversial restitution law offering Romanians modest restitution for properties confiscated under the Communists in the late 1940s and 1950s, Romanian and Western media reported. Communist nationalization stripped hundreds of thousands of Romanians of most of their property, including homes and flats. The new law provides for compensation not exceeding 50 million lei (some $18,000). A communique released by the Presidential Office said the current administration cannot accept the blame for the actions of the former regime. It also said the authorities have to prevent "new injustice" against those currently living in nationalized flats. Romania has yet to resolve numerous arguments over the restitution of property that belonged to the Jewish community and the Greek Catholic Church. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN SENATE ASKED TO LIFT EXTREMIST SENATOR'S IMMUNITY.
Justice Minister Gavril Iosif Chiuzbaian asked the Senate to strip Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the chauvinistic Greater Romania Party, of his parliamentary immunity, Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported on 24 November. The minister's decision came one month after the prosecutor-general's request to start procedures for lifting Tudor's immunity. Tudor has been accused of offending President Ion Iliescu and defaming state institutions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 October 1995). The final decision will be taken through a secret vote in the Senate, where two thirds of the senators have to vote for lifting his immunity. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ON RUSSIAN DUMA RESOLUTION.
The Moldovan parliament on 24 November issued a declaration to the Russian State Duma demanding the recognition of the Dniester region's independence, BASA-press reported. According to the declaration, the Duma's resolution of 17 November "runs counter to the principles of interstate relations, Moldovan-Russian agreements, and CIS foundation acts." The document adds that the Moldovan legislation, its policy toward national minorities, and the commitments made to international organizations "do not give other states, including Russia," reasons to treat Moldova in a discriminatory manner. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS ACCUSE GOVERNMENT OF CENSORSHIP.
Thirty-four journalists working for state-run Bulgarian National Radio on 22 November issued a declaration accusing the socialist government of censoring state-run media, RFE/RL reported. The declaration accuses the government of suppressing "professionalism and freedom of speech," deciding which news items and studio guests will appear, rearranging newscasts, and virtually stripping journalists of the right to produce commentaries. Journalists can be fined 2,000 leva ($29), one third of their average salary, for not complying with government regulations. BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev refuted the charges, saying his policy aims at defending "national interests" and "the agenda of society." President Zhelyu Zhelev on 24 November received the 34 journalists to show solidarity with them. He called Bulgaria's postcommunist development "an imitation of freedom of speech, of democracy, of pluralism, and sometimes even of opposition." -- Stefan Krause

FURTHER CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST ALIA.
Former Albanian President Ramiz Alia has been accused of ordering police to shoot at demonstrators in Tirana on 20 February 1991, international agencies reported on 25 November. It is reported that documents are available proving Alia gave the order as demonstrators toppled the monument of his predecessor, Enver Hoxha. Hekuran Isai, Alia's interior minister at the time, said he refused to obey the order because "bloodshed [was] certain." In a speech held after the incident, Alia complained to army officers that "the police did not carry out its task" and spoke of "organized bloodshed, if necessary...to organize the army to fight the internal enemy." -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN TURKEY.
Ion Iliescu, heading a large delegation that included business leaders as well as his foreign, trade and transport ministers, paid a one-day visit to Turkey on 23 November, Western media reported. Iliescu met with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to discuss strengthening bilateral economic and political ties. Annual bilateral trade totals $700 million, and an estimated 4,000 Turkish companies are active in Romania. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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