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Newsline - December 1, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 233, 1 December 1995
YELTSIN CONCERNED ABOUT FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW, DUMA TO HOLD SPECIAL SESSION.
President Boris Yeltsin sent a letter to both houses of the parliament expressing his concern about their inability to agree on how to form the next Federation Council. Yeltsin is worried that the current Council will no longer be legitimate after its term runs out on 12 December, two years after the previous elections. Yeltsin proposed that the speakers of both houses find a compromise agreement in consultation with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. The Duma will hold an extraordinary session on 5 December to discuss the Council's 28 November rejection of its version of the law. -- Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS GAIN AS SUPPORT FOR AGRARIANS WEAKENS.
In a 30 November meeting with President Yeltsin, Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov informed him of polls conducted by the administration's analytical center which show that the Communists are gaining popularity because rural residents prefer them to Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin. Filatov said there is no guarantee that the Communists will preserve democratic electoral procedures in the future simply because they won power democratically, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. A VCIOM poll published in Izvestiya on 1 December predicts that the Communists will win 28-31% of the 225 seats determined by party-list voting, while the Agrarians will not cross the 5% barrier necessary to win seats in the Duma. -- Robert Orttung

SATAROV ON POSSIBLE ELECTION OUTCOMES.
Presidential adviser Georgii Satarov told RFE/RL on 1 December that only the Communist Party, Yabloko, Our Home Is Russia, and the Congress of Russian Communities have good chances of winning at least 5% of the vote nationwide, and no more than five parties in all will do well enough to gain Duma seats from party lists. Satarov did not rule out a possible cabinet reshuffle in the event of a poor showing by Our Home Is Russia, but he said "Yeltsin does not like to make decisions under pressure." He also said the authority of the current Federation Council is likely to be extended, since the upper house of parliament recently rejected a third version of the law on its formation. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

YELTSIN NOMINATED TO RUN FOR SECOND TERM.
A group of supporters have put forward President Yeltsin's name as a candidate in the June 1996 presidential elections, Russian and Western media reported on 30 November. The initiative group of more than 200 people from 25 regions was formed by the presidential representative in Moscow, Vladimir Komchatov, who said that only Yeltsin could preserve the country's stability and prevent a return to the communist past. Presidential aide Georgii Satarov said Yeltsin would not decide whether to run in the presidential poll until after the December parliamentary election, Reuters reported. Russian Public TV (ORT) reported that the Central Electoral Commission rejected the application documents it received from Vladimir Voronin, head of the TIBET Association of Investors and the first person to put his name up for the presidential elections, saying they were incorrectly prepared. -- Anna Paretskaya

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ANNULLED KALININGRAD OBLAST DUMA IMMUNITY DECREE.
The Constitutional Court has decided to annul the recent Kaliningrad Oblast Duma's decision to grant its members immunity from prosecution, saying it violated federal laws, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 30 November. The court ruled that the local legislature does not have the authority to grant immunity. Federal law extends immunity to Federal Assembly deputies, but the status of local deputies is not specified. -- Anna Paretskaya

PRESIDENT OF YAKUTIYA AGAINST REFERENDUM ON PROLONGING HIS TERM.
The president of the Sakha Republic (Yakutiya), Mikhail Nikolaev, asked the republican Federal Assembly to cancel its decision to hold a referendum on the extension of the president's term of office until the year 2001, Radio Rossii reported on 30 November. The Federal Assembly had decided to hold a referendum on 16 November after 204,000 signatures were collected in its support (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 November 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya

KHASBULATOV TO RUN FOR CHECHEN HEAD OF STATE.
On 30 November, former Russian parliament speaker and head of the People's Union for the Rebirth of the Chechen Republic Ruslan Khasbulatov officially registered as a candidate in the 17 December Chechen elections for a new head of state, NTV reported. Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev, the only other registered candidate, has invited Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev and guerrilla commander Shamil Basaev to run against him, according to Rossiiskaya gazeta on 30 November. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSO-CHINESE BORDER ADJUSTMENT COMPLETED.
The survey of the final segment of the long-disputed Russo-Chinese border in Primorsk Krai was completed on 30 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. Fulfilling the terms of the 1991 Soviet-Chinese border agreement, the survey resulted in the transfer to China of about 1,500 hectares of territory formerly claimed by Russia, adjusting the border in various locations from five to 350 meters in favor of China. According to ITAR-TASS, the population in the border regions of Primorsk Krai are unhappy with this transfer of "Russian land" to China, and have complained about the loss of valuable cedar forests and hunting areas. Primorsk Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko has opposed the implementation of the border agreement, and will likely use the issue in his campaign for re-election next year. -- Scott Parrish

GRACHEV AND CHERNOMYRDIN CLASH OVER SACKING.
An article in Rossiiskaya gazeta on 1 December reported that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin disagree over the sacking of Col. Gen. Vasilii Vorobev, who served as budget director of the Defense Ministry (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). Grachev told a recent meeting of the Defense Ministry collegium that he could not understand why Vorobev had been removed and added that he had been fully satisfied with the budget director's work. That comment drew a sharp reaction from Chernomyrdin, who reportedly "expressed great surprise" at Grachev's statement. Chernomyrdin and Grachev have frequently had public disagreements on policy issues in the past. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA REPAYS ITS FINNISH DEBTS BY ARMS.
Finnish Defense Minister Anneli Taina announced that Russia would supply Finland with advanced SA-11 air defense systems worth 1 billion Finnish markka ($238 million) to reduce part of its 5.5 billion markka debt to Finland (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 November 1995), ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. The missiles will be used by air defense forces in the Helsinki region. No date has been set for repaying the remaining debt. -- Constantine Dmitriev

GRACHEV IN ISRAEL.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev began a five-day visit in Israel by signing a bilateral military cooperation agreement with Israeli Prime Prime Minister and Defense Minister Shimon Peres on 1 December, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement provides for exchanges between Russian and Israeli military personnel and also expands the scope of Russo-Israeli military-technical cooperation under an April 1994 agreement. It also calls for Israel to purchase military transport aircraft from Russia, and Israel has reportedly expressed interest in jointly producing weapons for export to third countries. While in Israel, Grachev will also discuss the Middle East peace process, of which Russia is a co-sponsor, with Israeli officials. -- Scott Parrish

TRADE UNION DAY OF ACTION.
Thousands of workers across Russia took part in meetings and demonstrations on 30 November as part of a day of action called by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) to protest wage arrears and rising unemployment. The form of action and the number of people who participated varied considerably from region to region. There were no demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, or Novgorod, according to Russian Public TV (ORT). According to the FNPR, workers are owed 11.5 trillion rubles ($2.5 billion) in wage arrears, up from 8 trillion in September. It estimates open and "hidden" unemployment at about 15% of the working-age population. According to International Labor Organization criteria, the unemployment rate is 8.1%. -- Penny Morvant

MINERS DEMAND ADDITIONAL 500 BILLION RUBLES.
At a meeting in Moscow on 30 November, the Coal Industry Workers' Union demanded another 500 billion rubles ($110 million) from the government in order to cover unpaid wages, ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, the government had announced the allocation of an additional 500 billion to the coal industry, but union leaders say that sum is insufficient and are planning a day of protest on 6 December. However, the regional strike due to begin on 1 December in Vorkuta has been called off. -- Penny Morvant

RUBLE TO BE DEVALUED . . .
The ruble corridor has been extended for the six months beginning on 1 January, and the ruble will be allowed to float between 4,550 and 5,150 to $1, instead of the present 4,300-4,900 band, NTV reported on 30 November. That means the ruble will be allowed to devalue by up to 13%. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais and others oppose devaluation because it will tend to increase inflation. (New figures for November show inflation to be holding at 4.5% per month.) Exporters want the ruble to fall in order to restore their profitability, and had strong support from certain ministers. That probably explains why the decision was announced at a televised meeting in President Yeltsin's sanitarium, rather than at the usual Thursday government meeting. The move can be seen as a compromise in that it simply keeps the same width as the current corridor (600 rubles) and takes the current market exchange rate as the new floor. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AND EXPORT DUTIES CUT.
In another step aimed at helping exporters, President Yeltsin signed a decree abolishing from 1 December all export duties on refined oil and timber products, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. From 1 January 1996, export duties on all other products will be scrapped, except those on crude oil, gas, and some industrial goods, on which export duties will be halved. The government is responding to the fact that crude oil exports fell 5.1% in the first 10 months of this year, Interfax reported on 22 November. The tax on crude oil exports is currently 20 ecu per metric ton. The duty on gas exports was increased in early November from 2 ecu to 5 ecu per 1,000 cubic meters. -- Natalia Gurushina



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 233, 1 December 1995
MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN KAZAKHSTAN AGAINST CUTS IN RUSSIAN PROGRAMMING.
Nearly 70% of respondents to a recent poll in Kazakhstan said they are against cuts in Russian television broadcasts, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 November. The results of the poll, conducted in 88 towns and villages throughout Kazakhstan, show that not only the Russian population (about 36% of the population of Kazakhstan) is against the cuts, but 58% of Kazakhs polled also want the broadcasts restored. In the capital, Almaty, 88% of respondents opposed cuts and 17% said they want more than what they used to receive. The Kazakhstani government reduced the amount of Russian programming in October to eight and a half hours daily from Russian Public TV (ORT) and five hours daily from the Russian TV Channel. -- Bruce Pannier

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK EXTENDS $120 MILLION CREDIT TO KAZAKHSTAN.
The Asian Development Bank has agreed to give $120 million in credit to Kazakhstan to fund agricultural and educational development, Interfax reported on 28 November. The bank's representative in Kazakhstan, Roza Savadskaya, said $100 million is slated for agriculture and the remainder for education. Sadavskaya also added that if formalities are taken care of quickly, half of the money for agriculture could arrive before the end of 1995, and the rest after the new year. -- Bruce Pannier

UNESCO TO FUND RENOVATION OF HISTORIC CITIES IN UZBEKISTAN.
The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has begun a fundraising campaign to restore the historic sections of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, AFP reported on 30 November. The immediate goal of the project is to raise $20 million at a conference to be held in Tashkent for the initial work in Samarkand. Michael Lane, a UNESCO representative, noted that the renovation will include not just monuments and mosques, such as the Registan in Samarkand, but the caravanserais and shops around them that were neglected during the Soviet era. -- Roger Kangas



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 233, 1 December 1995
UKRAINE FORGES TIES WITH SOUTH KOREA.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, during his first official visit to Seoul, has promised that his country will not sell arms to North Korea if closer diplomatic and economic ties are forged with South Korea, international agencies reported on 30 November. Udovenko made his pledge in response to a personal request by South Korean Foreign Minister Kong Nomyong that Kiev refrain from exporting weapons to rival North Korea. Kong also asked for Kiev to provide favorable conditions for Koreans living in Ukraine. In return, the South Koreans agreed to step up trade and investment. The foreign minister signed several agreements on forging diplomatic and economic ties and air links between Kiev and Seoul. Ukraine plans to set up a permanent mission in the South Korean capital. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UPDATE ON CHORNOBYL SHUTDOWN.
International agencies on 30 November reported that Ukrainian and G-7 representatives have reached an agreement in Vienna on a memorandum outlining steps toward a final shutdown in the year 2000 of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. No details were offered about the key issue of financing the closure. Meanwhile, an international conference in Salvutych, where Chornobyl personnel live, revealed that radiation above the entombed reactor still measures up to 46 roentgen per hour-- the same levels recorded during construction of the sarcophagus immediately after the April 1986 nuclear explosion. A prominent British medical expert says as many as 40% of children in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia who were exposed to radiation from Chornobyl nine years ago are expected to develop thyroid cancer over the next 30 years, AFP reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUS ELECTION WRAP-UP.
Foreign observers said the parliamentary elections on 29 November were generally free and fair, but they criticized restrictions on the media, Western agencies reported the next day. Opposition leaders said the fact that turnout was below the required 50% in only two of the 141 election districts indicated that the public was protesting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's threats to impose presidential rule if a new parliament were not elected. The parliament now has 139 deputies: 33 Communists, 39 from the Agrarian Party, 5 from democratic parties, and 62 independents. It is unclear whether voters on 10 December will elect 35 new deputies to achieve the two-thirds quota necessary for the parliament to be valid. -- Saulius Girnius

CONSULTATIONS ON NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT.
Prime minister candidate Ziedonis Cevers on 30 November held talks with representatives of the Latvian National Independence Party and Latvia's Way on possible support for his government, BNS reported. In an effort to make his government more stable, Cevers seems willing to offer cabinet posts to members of parties that do not belong to his National Conciliation Bloc. Latvia's Way Chairman Valdis Birkavs, however, said his party will support Cevers only if another right of center party agrees to support him. This, however, is unlikely. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA'S DRAFT BUDGET FOR 1996 APPROVED.
The Seimas on 30 November approved the draft budget for 1996, BNS reported. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius said it will be about 30% larger than that for 1995 and will be focused more on social needs. Expenditures for social welfare, health care, education, and culture are to be increased by 79%, 42%, 37%, and 34%, respectively. The salaries of doctors will be raised by 24% and teachers by 28%. The budget deficit will be larger than this year but will remain about 2% of GDP, as agreed to with the International Monetary Fund. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH SUPREME COURT ON VALIDITY OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
The Polish Supreme Court has rejected some 200 filed complaints about minor irregularities during the Polish presidential elections. But the court is currently swamped with the 598,000 complaints lodged by Solidarity and outgoing President Lech Walesa's election committees about President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski's claim he had received a master's degree. Kwasniewski later admitted that he had not submitted his master's thesis. The court is to ask sociologists whether this misinformation could have influenced the election results, Polish dailies reported on 1 December. The court has to reach a decision by 9 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

FEWER POLISH TROOPS TO BOSNIA?
Poland may send a smaller contingent to the Bosnian peacekeeping forces owing to a lack of funds, Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski said on 30 November. Experts estimate that sending a Polish battalion will cost at least 54-72 million zloty ($2.16-$2.88 million). The U.S. has said it will cover some transportation expenses, while the Germans will provide armored transporters, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 1 December. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksander Luczak, at his meeting on 30 November with the rectors of Polish universities, said those employed in higher education will receive nominal wage hikes of 50% (36% in real terms). He added that in 1996, the government wants to increase spending on higher education by 13% over this year's levels. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

SLOVAK PRESIDENT PARDONS KIDNAPPER.
Michal Kovac has pardoned a former agent of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) who confessed to participating in the abduction of Kovac's son, Slovak media reported on 1 December. The 26 year-old former agent, known as Oskar F., has given a series of interviews to Sme detailing the abduction and alleging that SIS director Ivan Lexa ran the entire action by radio. Oskar F., who is now in hiding and fears for his life, also spoke with investigator Peter Vacok, who was later removed from the case. President Kovac said the testimony of other witnesses has also pointed to Oskar F.'s guilt, and he noted that Oskar F. could face prosecution. According to presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko, Kovac made the decision based on Oskar F.'s "spontaneous and full confession," which, he said, can be seen as an effort to clear up the matter and ensure that justice is done. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK COURT CONTRADICTS MINISTRY DECISION.
The Supreme Court on 30 November reversed the Finance Ministry's decision to revoke the license of the investment firm PSIS, Sme and Narodna obroda reported. The ministry took the decision on 31 March, transferring control of the PSIS's investment funds to Harvard Investment. In an interview with Sme, PSIS director Igor Duric said the decision shows that the Slovakia's courts are functioning. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY TO SEND MILITARY TROOPS TO BOSNIA?
The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), the junior coalition partner, is backing Hungary's decision to let NATO troops transit the country and to use Hungarian airspace and bases. It also approves of its offer to send technical or health teams to Bosnia but is against sending armed units. Two opposition parties--the Smallholders and the Democratic Forum--are also opposed to that offer. The parliament last week approved letting NATO troops be stationed on Hungarian territory and is still debating NATO's request to dispatch Hungarian troops for non-combat missions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 November 1995) Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti said Hungarian troops would carry out military tasks and would carry weapons. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

NO AGREEMENT STILL ON HUNGARIAN INCOME TAX.
Following weeks of debate, the parliamentary caucuses of the two governing coalition parties are still at odds over income tax brackets, Hungarian media reported. Finance Minister Lajos Bokros insists that a 48% tax rate be levied on annual gross earnings over 900,000 forints. He wants the government to collect revenues totaling 480 billion forints. The SZDSZ has rejected his proposal, saying such a high rate would encourage people to participate in the black economy and would adversely affect large families supported by one person with a high income. It is in favor of 44% as the highest rate. The Socialist argue that a greater burden should be shouldered by those earning higher incomes. The parliament is due to vote next week on the 1996 budget and new tax legislation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 233, 1 December 1995
U.S. REJECTS FRENCH CALL FOR REVISING BOSNIAN PEACE PLAN.
International media on 1 December reported that top American officials have again stated that the Dayton agreement cannot be changed. Their fear is clearly that tampering with any one aspect of the accord would open a Pandora's box of additional demands for revisions. The French UN commander in Sarajevo, General Jean-Rene Bachelet, told a French daily that the peace plan is flawed because it offers the Serbs of Sarajevo little choice but to flee. He suggested that the Serbs would destroy what they could not take along with them and that the Americans had rushed the treaty through for domestic political reasons. Other French officials warned that France wants its downed pilots returned before the agreement is signed. The International Herald Tribune quoted EU mediator Carl Bildt as saying that the agreement should not be revised but that the Bosnian government should give special guarantees of safety to the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore

STILL NEARLY 3,000 CROATS "MISSING."
As part of its normalization of relations with Serbia, Croatia is expecting cooperation in clarifying the fate of those Croats who have disappeared, mainly during Serbia's war against Croatia in 1991. Some 1,400 persons are unaccounted for from Vukovar and another 500 from the Banija region, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 1 December. Croatian authorities said the missing people seem to have been moved around throughout various Serb-held parts of the former Yugoslavia to hide traces of their whereabouts and to mask responsibility for their fate. The Croatian authorities continue to find mass graves in the areas they retook in their lightning offensives this year; they fear that more exist as far away as Sremska Mitrovica and Belgrade. Some Croats who have been freed said they were subjected to torture and dangerous forced labor. -- Patrick Moore

UN EXTENDS MANDATE IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
The UN Security Council on 30 November extended the mandates of its missions in the former Yugoslavia, Western agencies reported. Those mandates were due to expire the same day. The UN peacekeepers will remain in Croatia for another 45 days, in Bosnia two months, and in Macedonia six months. NATO troops are expected to be deployed in the region by mid-January. Discussions continue over the composition of the multinational force to be deployed in eastern Slavonia. According to the UN resolution on Croatia, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali has to report to the council by 14 December on a "transitional peacekeeping force" in that country. -- Michael Mihalka

SILAJDZIC DISMISSES CHIRAC'S CALLS FOR SERBIAN GUARANTEES.
Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic has dismissed the French president's calls for more guarantees for Serbs living in Sarajevo suburbs (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 November 1995), saying that they enjoy the same rights as other citizens, Reuters reported on 30 November. The BBC quoted Bosnian Radio on 1 December as reporting that President Alija Izetbegovic has told the parliament that the full safety of civilians will be guaranteed, just as there will be punishment for those who have been killing the residents of Sarajevo for 44 months. Meanwhile, AFP on 30 November reported that a rocket fired from the Serb-held Nedarici area of Sarajevo crashed into a building in a government-controlled area but caused no casualties. In another development, the pro-government Serbian Civic Council called on the international community to open offices in Serb-held districts of Sarajevo and to appoint a mediator to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement there. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIA, GREECE ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS.
Muhamed Sacirbey and Karolos Papoulias, the foreign ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece, on 30 November initialed a document establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, AFP reported. The agreement was initialed in Sarajevo in the presence of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. Greece was one of the most outspoken supporters of Serbia during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause

SLOVENIA-RUMP YUGOSLAVIA NORMALIZE RELATIONS?
Nasa Borba on 1 December reported that on the previous day Slovenia became the first republic of the former Yugoslavia to recognize the rump Yugoslavia. The announcement was made by Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler and was described as "unexpected" by the Belgrade state-controlled media. Ljubljana has also resolved to lift the trade embargo imposed on Belgrade, AFP reported. The Slovenian government's decision is to be submitted on 1 December to the parliament for discussion and ratification. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIA STOPS NUCLEAR CARGO FOR BULGARIA.
Romanian authorities have intercepted a barge and a tug carrying 106 containers with nuclear fuel for Bulgaria's controversial Kozloduy power plant, Romanian and international media reported on 30 November. The two ships were docked at Cernavoda, a port on the River Danube, and were on their way from the Ukrainian port of Reni. They were intercepted because they did not have permission from the Romanian authorities to transit the country. The authorities launched an investigation into the incident , while the Romanian Environment Ministry asked the Foreign Ministry to hand over a formal protest to the ambassadors of Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia. -- Matyas Szabo

ROMANIAN PRIVATE TV STATION LAUNCHES NEW PROGRAMS.
The Bucharest-based PRO-TV station, which started operating in May 1993, has announced that it will start broadcasting new programs beginning 1 December, Western media and Radio Bucharest reported. The programs, including foreign series and movies, are expected to reach up to 3 million households via satellite. The $20 million project is backed by ex-tennis champion Ion Tiriac and the businessman Ronald Lauder. According to Radio Bucharest, the revamped private TV station will promote competition in the sector, which is still dominated by state-run stations. The same source added that another TV station, Romanian TV-International, will start broadcasting programs to viewers throughout the world the same day. -- Dan Ionescu

SNEGUR HINTS AT SECOND PRESIDENTIAL MANDATE.
In an interview with Handelsblatt and Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur suggested that he was interested in a second presidential mandate for the sake of continuing with reforms over the next five years. Infotag quoted Snegur as saying that he was "dreaming of forming, as soon as possible, a team of like-minded allies to conduct the second stage of the reform process" in his country. Snegur stressed that Moldova is not planning to join NATO and expressed the hope that the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Russia will not signal a victory of left-wing forces, which, he said, "have nothing on their minds other than restoring the former USSR." -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1996 BUDGET DRAFT.
The Bulgarian cabinet on 30 November approved the final version of the 1996 budget draft, Pari reported the following day. The draft envisages revenues totaling 419 billion leva ($5.99 billion) and expenditures 474 billion leva ($6.78 billion). The budget deficit is estimated at 4.7% of GDP and the yearly inflation rate at 20%. The draft envisages a 3% growth in GDP for 1996. Government spokesman Nikola Baltov said the draft will be submitted to parliament at the earliest possible date. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN NATIONAL RADIO UPDATE.
The parliamentary Commission for Radio, TV, and the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency on 30 November discussed a statement by journalists from Bulgarian National Radio's Horizont station accusing the BNR of censorship (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). The Socialist-dominated commission approved a report saying there is no censorship on BNR and that the questions raised by the dissenting journalists are of a strictly professional nature, Demokratsiya reported. Meanwhile, the opposition adopted a declaration accusing the BNR's management of censorship and of violating the constitution. Representatives of the protesting journalists and BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev were present at the meeting. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT WANTS GOVERNOR PUNISHED.
Zhelyu Zhelev on 30 November said he wants Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to punish the Haskovo Province Governor Angel Naydenov, Standart reported. Zhelev is outraged by Naydenov's failure to convene the Kardzhali City Council, which was elected more than one month ago and to recognize the election of Kardzhali Mayor Rasim Musa. Both the Municipal and the Central Electoral Commission confirmed that the elections in Kardzhali were legal, but Naydenov has said he will not call a City Council meeting until a court rules on a complaint filed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party about the elections in Kardzhali. Zhelev issued his statement after meeting with leaders of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, and with Musa, who is a member of that party. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIA PASSES LAW ON SIGURIMI FILES.
The Albanian parliament has passed a law on opening the communist-era secret service (Sigurimi) files of public figures, international agencies reported on 1 December. A seven-member state committee will check the files for all persons who run for parliamentary positions, who are appointed to leading local and central government posts, or who are employed by the courts. The law will also apply to people working in the state media and at newspapers with a daily circulation of more than 3,000. Anyone convicted of collaborating with the Sigurimi will be banned from working in his field until 2002. The files for all other citizens will be closed for 30 years. Deputy Socialist Party leader Namik Dokle criticized the law saying "it smells of apartheid." -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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