COMMUNISTS MAINTAIN LEAD AS VOTE COUNT ADVANCES.
With 65% of
the vote counted, Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation
(KPRF) has won 22.3% of the vote on the party list, twice as much as its
nearest competitor, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which received
10.9%, Russian and Western media reported on 19 December. The only other
parties to break the 5% barrier were Our Home is Russia (9.6%) and Yabloko
(7.6%). Zyuganov said the KPRF would form a shadow government in parliament and
propose a "realistic" economic program. He said his party will decide next
month whether to nominate him for the presidency. -- Laura Belin
DISAPPOINTMENT FOR GAIDAR.
According to results released by the Central
Electoral Commission at 12:30 Moscow time on 19 December, with 45 million votes
counted Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats had only
4.4% of the party-list vote, trailing Women of Russia (4.7%), and Viktor
Anpilov's Communists-Working Russia (4.5%). Gaidar chose not to run for a
single-member seat, so he will not be a member of the new Duma if his party
fails to clear the 5% barrier. Earlier reports had put Gaidar's party over 5%,
but they were never confirmed. The Central Electoral Commission issued some
contradictory statements about the proportion of votes counted on Monday, and
has come under criticism for the unexplained delay in completion of the count.
-- Penny Morvant
COMMUNISTS CRUSH OUR HOME IS RUSSIA IN SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS.
having recruited prominent local figures to contest many of the 225
single-member districts, Our Home Is Russia has also lost to the KPRF in the
single-seat competitions. Returns from 179 districts indicate that the KPRF had
won 45 seats to just nine for the prime minister's bloc, ITAR-TASS reported on
18 December. The Agrarian Party, which is ideologically close to the KPRF, won
at least 15 seats. Yabloko won 12 seats, Russia's Democratic Choice-United
Democrats won eight, Women of Russia won two, and the Congress of Russian
Communities won a disappointing three seats. Independent candidates are likely
to win more seats than any single party. -- Laura Belin
WELL-KNOWN POLITICIANS ENTER DUMA IN SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS.
famous politicians will join the next Duma from single member districts,
according to NTV on 18 December. They include current Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin,
Power to the People's number two candidate Sergei Baburin, Party of Workers'
Self-Management leader Svyatoslav Fedorov, My Fatherland leader Boris Gromov,
former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, Duma Defense Committee Chairman
Viktor Ilyukhin, presidential aide Gennadii Burbulis, film director Stanislav
Govorukhin, and Congress of Russian Communities leader Aleksandr Lebed. Among
the losers were hard-line Communist Viktor Anpilov and the MMM fund chairman
Sergei Mavrodi. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS APPROVE DUMA ELECTIONS.
At an 18 December Moscow
press conference, international observers from the EU, Council of Europe, and
OSCE characterized the 17 December Duma elections as free, fair, and
democratic, NTV reported. The 434 observers from 32 countries concluded that
the elections were carried out in accordance with democratic standards, despite
isolated violations at some polling stations. The observers did however,
criticize Russian Public TV (ORT) for biased campaign reporting, which gave a
disproportionate amount of favorable coverage to Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home
Is Russia and Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice, while running negative
stories about various opposition parties. The observers praised Russian TV and
NTV, on the other hand, for their unbiased election coverage. One issue that
remains unresolved is that several parties have not yet provided a full account
of their campaign spending. -- Scott Parrish in Moscow
PRESIDENTIAL AIDES TRY TO STRIKE POSITIVE NOTE.
Commenting on the
preliminary election results on 18 December, presidential aide Georgii Starov
told Interfax that he did not find them alarming. He denied that the "political
pendulum" had swung to the left, arguing that Our Home Is Russia, Yabloko, and
Democratic Russia, will together have enough seats to balance the Communists,
Radio Rossii reported. Yeltsin's economic adviser Aleksandr Livshits said he
did not think that the composition of the new Duma would be radically worse
than the old one from the point of view of economic reform. However, the
president's chief of staff Sergei Filatov said the number of votes won by the
Communists and the LDPR reflect the dissatisfaction of poorer sections of
society and the need to alter government policy, NTV reported. Yeltsin himself
refrained from public comment on the election results. -- Penny Morvant
CHERNOMYRDIN PUTS BRAVE FACE ON OUR HOME IS RUSSIA'S SHOWING.
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said he is "satisfied" with the election results,
characterizing his bloc's worse than expected showing as neither a success nor
a failure. "The Communist Party has existed for 97 years and won only 20%. Our
Home Is Russia has worked only four months and we were able to win 10%," he
told Russian TV on 18 December. He did not say whether he planned any cabinet
changes but described the government as a "living organism," which suggests
that changes cannot be ruled out. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow and Penny
LUKIN: "NOTHING SUPER-DRAMATIC" IN EARLY RESULTS.
Lukin declared that there was "nothing super-dramatic" in the early returns of
the elections before noon on 18 December, Russian media reported. He said that
the Duma will be balanced between the democratic parties and the communist and
nationalist parties. Lukin also said that Yabloko is willing to work with other
pro-reform parties, including Our Home Is Russia, and urged the "non-left"
forces to unite behind a single candidate for the presidency. Speaking on NTV
on19 December, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii welcomed the victory of only
four parties in the party-list contest as a sign that Russia had outgrown the
"infantile stage of multi-partyism." -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
KOZYREV TO LEAVE FOREIGN MINISTRY FOR DUMA?
According to preliminary
data released by the Central Electoral Commission, Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev is almost certain to win the Duma seat from the Murmansk single-member
constituency, NTV reported on 18 December. Kozyrev, running as an independent,
faced 12 opponents in the district, including Vladimir Zhirinovsky's sister.
Should Kozyrev take the seat, he will likely resign as foreign minister. Under
the 1993 constitution, members of the just-elected Duma will not be permitted
to hold ministerial posts. Resigning to take a seat in the Duma would be a
face-saving way for the heavily-criticized Kozyrev to leave the government. --
Scott Parrish in Moscow
EARLY RETURNS IN GOVERNORS' RACES.
Incumbents appear to have triumphed
in most of the 13 regions that also held gubernatorial elections on 17
December, Russian TV reported on 18 December. Boris Nemtsov was re-elected in
Nizhnii Novgorod with more than 60% of the vote, and Primorsk Krai Governor
Yevgenii Nazdratenko also won about 60% compared with just 15% for his main
rival, the ousted mayor of Vladivostok, Viktor Cherepkov. Yaroslavl Oblast
Governor Anatolii Lisitsyn, Orenburg Oblast Governor Vladimir Yelagin, and
Novgorod Oblast Governor Mikhail Prusak were also re-elected. Observers
reported that the gubernatorial races generated more media coverage than the
Duma elections in those regions. -- Laura Belin
BASHKORTOSTAN REFERENDUM RESULTS.
Voters in Bashkortostan were also
asked to give their opinion on land reform and the republic's economic policies
when they went to the polls on 17 December. According to preliminary results
cited by Ekspress-khronikha, about 83% of voters voted against the
unrestricted sale of land, while about 80% voted in favor of strengthening the
republic's economic independence. According to Interfax, the Communists won
about 30% of the vote in Bashkortostan, the Agrarians 20%, and Our Home Is
Russia 16.5%. -- Penny Morvant
MIXED VERDICT IN LIBEL CASE AGAINST YELTSIN.
Former Supreme Soviet
Deputy Iona Andronov plans to appeal to the Supreme Court following a mixed
verdict in his libel case against President Yeltsin, Pravda reported on
19 December. Andronov was called a fascist in the English-language version of
Yeltsin's memoirs Presidential Notes. The judge found that the book
incorrectly labeled Andronov a fascist but rejected the plaintiff's demand that
Yeltsin apologize publicly and pay damages. Andronov spent several years in the
U.S. during the 1980s as a correspondent for Literaturnaya gazeta. He
was a close supporter of Yeltsin during the 1991 presidential campaign. In late
1991, he became the main foreign policy adviser to then-Vice President
Aleksandr Rutskoi. -- Laura Belin
RUSSIAN ADVANCE PARTY TO BOSNIA.
An advance team of 12 paratroop
officers flew to Belgrade on 18 December, then on to Croatia where they joined
other Russian peacekeepers, Interfax reported. The team, led by Maj. Gen.
Nikolai Staskov, second in command of the Airborne Troops, will travel to Tuzla
where, among other things, they will establish an air traffic control center to
receive the Russian brigade that will be part of the international peace
implementation force. Interfax also quoted the Ministry of Defense as saying
that the brigade, from the 106th Airborne Division, was also leaving for Bosnia
that day. -- Doug Clarke
RUSSIA SIGNS DEBT-RESTRUCTURING AGREEMENT WITH TURKEY.
The Russian and
Turkish governments signed an agreement on rescheduling Russia's $370 million
debt and on the clearing of mutual debts amassed by companies in the two
countries, Segodnya reported on 16 December. Under the agreement,
Russia's debt to Turkey will be reduced by $112 million (via $100 million in
arms deliveries from Russia and the writing off of Turkey's $12 million debt to
Russia). The deal is expected to stimulate Turkish investment in Russia. Turkey
will also open a $350 million credit line to the Russian government. -- Natalia
PLANE WRECK FOUND.
The wreckage of the TU-154 airliner that went missing
on 7 December en route from Sakhalin to Khabarovsk Krai with 97 people on board
has been found in Khabarovsk Krai, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 18
December. The chairman of a government commission investigating the accident
said he does not believe that anyone could have survived the crash. -- Penny
WAGE ARREARS EQUAL 13.6 TRILLION RUBLES.
The total amount of overdue
wages in Russia increased by 11.7% in November, reaching 13.6 trillion rubles
($2.9 billion) on 1 December, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December, citing
officials from the Economics Ministry. Delays in the payment of wages are the
main cause of industrial disputes in the country. -- Penny Morvant
IMF EXTENDS NEW CREDIT TO UZBEKISTAN.
The IMF approved a $259 million
credit to Uzbekistan on 18 December, which will be used to continue market
reforms in that country, Western sources reported. As part of a larger two-year
aid package, the new credit will include $185 million in stand-by credit and
$74 million from the IMF's systemic transformation facility, and will be used
to help turn around the decline in GNP as well as hold the annual inflation
rate to an anticipated target of 21-25%. IMF officials expressed their approval
of the Uzbek government's tight monetary and fiscal policies, paralleling an
October World Bank report (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 October 1995). --
TAJIK OPPOSITION RELEASES 17 PRISONERS.
After a month of promises, the
Tajik opposition has released 17 government soldiers, part of a larger group
taken hostage in the Tavil Dara region in the middle of October, Radio Rossii
reported on 16 December. Despite the release and the ongoing peace talks in
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, the fighting in Tavil Dara continues. -- Bruce
THREE CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS LOOK TO FORM UN PEACEKEEPING FORCE.
presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, meeting in Zhambyl,
Kazakhstan on 15 December, agreed to ask for UN approval to form a joint
peacekeeping battalion, according to Reuters. Kazakhstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev said the force could serve "anywhere in the world, including
Bosnia." All three countries currently have peacekeeping troops in Tajikistan,
but they operate under CIS auspices. It is unclear whether the units now in
Tajikistan would be part of the proposed UN force. The three leaders also
sanctioned investments by the new Central Asian Bank for Reconstruction and
Development. -- Bruce Pannier
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S ADVISERS RESIGN.
UNIAN on 18 December reported
that three of Leonid Kuchma's top advisers have resigned as a result of
infighting within the president's administration. Presidential chief adviser
Oleksandr Razumkov, macro-economic adviser Anatolii Halchinsky, and domestic
policy adviser Dmytro Vydrin said their resignations were in protest against
the influence of certain staff members. Two days earlier, Ukrainian Radio
broadcast a statement by the parliament's press service criticizing the head of
Kuchma's administration, Dmytro Tabachnyk, who has recently given interviews
expounding his views on the constitutional process and relations between the
legislature and executive. The statement said Tabachnyk did not have the
experience, expertise, or authority to make "tactless definitions on the course
of debates in the parliament." Tabachnyk is considered one of Kuchma's closest
advisors and has often been criticized for wielding undue influence over the
president. -- Ustina Markus
IMF CRITICAL OF BELARUSIAN REFORMS.
Belapan on 15 December reported that
IMF head Michel Camdessus has sent a letter to Belarusian Prime Minister
Mikhail Chyhir expressing dissatisfaction with the country's economic reforms.
The letter referred to exchange rate problems, government intervention in
propping up the Belarusian ruble, the National Bank of Belarus's lack of
authority over exchange rate and credit policy, the discrepancy between budget
revenues predicted for 1996 and reality in the republic, the lack of progress
in privatization and reforming enterprises; and the failure of the government
to make foreign payments. The letter said the government was not following the
IMF-approved program on economic policy and that this could threaten the
release of a second tranche of a standby loan. Deputy Prime Minister Leanid
Sinitsyn said the letter was merely a statement of temporary problems between
Belarus and the IMF and that Belarus intends to continue the reforms it had
agreed on with the IMF. -- Ustina Markus
SWEDISH TOBACCO FIRM TO STOP INVESTING IN ESTONIA.
Svenska Tobaks, the
owner of two-thirds of the Estonian tobacco manufacturer Eesti Tubakas, has
decided to stop further investment in Estonia and is considering continuing
production in some other country, BNS reported on 18 December. Eesti Tubakas
currently has about 70% of the Estonian tobacco market. As of 1996, the excise
tax on locally produced cigarettes will be the same as on imported cigarettes,
forcing a steep rise in prices. The price hike is expected to result in lower
consumption and increased smuggling of cigarettes. Svenska Tobaks may then
decide to end cigarette manufacturing in Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN UNITY PARTY TO JOIN NEW GOVERNMENT.
Andris Skele announced on 18 December that the Latvian Unity Party has decided
to join the government he is forming, BNS reported. Skele said its leader,
Alberts Kauls, would be given the post of agriculture minister. The Saeima is
scheduled to vote on the new government on 21 December. Chairman of the Popular
Movement for Latvia Joachim Siegerist announced he will be "in an unmasking and
fierce opposition" to the Skele government, which, however, is expected to be
approved because it has the support of the right-of-center National Bloc and
the left-of-center Democratic Party Saimnieks. -- Saulius Girnius
UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND.
Yevhen Marchuk, heading a senior
economic delegation, visited Poland on 17 December and met, among others, with
his Polish counterpart, Jozef Oleksy. Polish and Ukrainian ministers of
industry, transport, communications, farming, and finance signed agreements
determining timetables for various projects. The communications ministers
agreed to extend the existing telecommunication highway between Lviv and
Rzeszow to Kiev and Krakow. The Polish side expressed interest in buying shares
in privatized Ukrainian iron mines and steelworks, Polish dailies reported on
19 December. -- Jakub Karpinski
TWO PROSECUTORS FIRED IN POLAND.
A spokesman for the Polish Justice
Ministry on 18 December confirmed that Justice Minister and Prosecutor-General
Jerzy Jaskiernia has fired two prosecutors involved in investigations into the
finances and education history of President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski. The
spokesman denied the dismissals had political motives. Warsaw chief prosecutor
Jerzy Labuda resigned in protest, Polish dailies reported on 19 December. --
KLAUS LOSES DISPUTE OVER ELECTION DATES.
President Vaclav Havel, trying
to cut short a lingering dispute within the governing coalition, on 18 December
formally proposed that the Czech Republic's parliamentary elections be held on
31 May and 1 June next year, while the first elections to the Senate should
take place on 15 and 16 November 1996. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic
Democratic Party (ODS) last week confirmed that it wanted the elections to be
held simultaneously, while two of its coalition partners --the Civic Democratic
Alliance and Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party--insisted
on them being separated. After meeting with Havel, Klaus reluctantly accepted
the president's proposal and said the ODS would support it to prevent a
constitutional crisis, Czech media reported. Under the constitution, the
president calls elections but the dates must be confirmed by the prime
minister. -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAK CEREMONIES MARK RETURN OF BOJNICE ALTARPIECE.
Vladimir Meciar and other Slovak officials on 18 December attended lavish
ceremonies at Bojnice Castle marking the return of its altarpiece from the
Czech Republic. Bishop Dominik Hrusovsky consecrated the altarpiece and held a
mass in the castle's chapel, which was broadcast on Slovak TV. After 62 years,
the 14th century Florentine altarpiece was returned to Slovakia on 15 December,
following an agreement between Czech Culture Minister Pavel Tigrid and Slovak
Ambassador to the Czech Republic Ivan Mjartan whereby the altar was exchanged
for 10 Gothic wood paintings of Slovak origin. The altar had been a subject of
Czech-Slovak dispute since the split of Czechoslovakia. Meciar called its
return a Christmas present to the Slovak nation. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK TRADE UNIONS REFUSE TO SIGN GENERAL AGREEMENT.
The assembly of
the Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ) on 18 December discussed the 1996
General Agreement between the government, unions, and employers, Slovak media
reported. KOZ officials said they will not sign the agreement until promises
included in the 1995 agreement are fulfilled and demands made by the unions in
the 23 September protest rally are met. KOZ President Alojz Englis announced
his union was recently accepted into the European Trade Union Confederation. --
HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS NATO REFERENDUM INITIATIVE.
parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has rejected a Workers' Party initiative
to call a referendum on Hungary's accession to NATO, Hungarian media reported
on 19 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 December 1995). Committee
Chairman Matyas Eorsi explained that deputies believe it makes no sense to
stage a referendum until Hungary's terms of admission have been clarified.
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party caucus said it does not back a referendum on
accession since the country is not in a position to make a decision on the
matter. However, it said that if Hungary receives a request for admission, and
negotiations on accession conclude successfully, then the country should decide
on NATO membership by means of a referendum. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
NO FOUL PLAY IN HUNGARY'S OILGATE AFFAIR.
A governmental commission has
concluded that no illegal acts were committed in the recent "oilgate" affair
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 December 1995), Hungarian media reported on 19
December. But the commission called for clearing up issues related to the
settlement of the Hungarian-Russian debt, which the cabinet is to debate this
week. All parliamentary caucuses have endorsed setting up a parliamentary
commission to investigate the affair, in which it is alleged that there were
links between oil dealers and Socialist Party figures in Russian oil shipments
in partial payment of Russia's debt to Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BALKANS ARMS CONTROL PROCESS BEGINS.
A one-day international
conference on arms control in the former Yugoslavia took place in Bonn on 18
December, with both Croatia and Serbia threatening to pull out of the process,
Western agencies reported. The Bonn talks met the Dayton peace accord
requirement that signatories begin negotiations on arms control within seven
days of signing the treaty. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic warned that
Croatia will withdraw from the process unless Serbia recognizes Croatian
sovereignty over eastern Slavonia. Serbian Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic
made a similar threat unless the former Yugoslavia was readmitted to the OSCE,
which is to oversee the arms control negotiations, Tanjug reported. Many
delegates at the conference expressed skepticism that the parties will take the
arms control process seriously. -- Michael Mihalka
A FEDERAL MODEL FOR SARAJEVO?
Boza Kljajic of the Serbian Civic Council
has suggested that Sarajevo be set up as s special federal district on the
model of Brussels, Mexico City, or Washington. The Council represents the
anti-nationalist Serbs who have spent the entire war in the part of Sarajevo
controlled by the Bosnian government. Nasa Borba on 19 December quoted
him as saying that the city should remain a united and undivided one in which
all citizens and peoples would enjoy total equality. Reuters said the previous
day, however, that the Serbian nationalist leadership in Pale has other ideas.
It met with Belgrade architects to plan a new city consisting of Serbian
refugees from Sarajevo who refuse to live under government rule. Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic said that rump Yugoslavia will foot the bill. --
SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL ARRESTED.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung on 19 December reported that an unnamed man was arrested in
Dusseldorf on the suspicion of having assisted in genocide. The 48-year-old
Serb was supposedly the leader of a chetnik gang that committed atrocities in
Bosnia in the spring and summer of 1992. The paper added that a sniper in
Sarajevo fired on a tram and wounded a woman. -- Patrick Moore
WORLD BANK REQUESTS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR BOSNIA.
The World Bank is
asking Western countries to finance a $100 million assistance initiative for
Bosnia, Hina reported on 16 December. The money would go for establishing state
institutions, financing small and medium-sized enterprises, and funding social
welfare. The bank estimates that reconstructing Bosnia will cost $5.1 billion.
-- Michael Wyzan
BELGRADE BLAMES BOSNIAN MUSLIMS FOR SREBRENICA MASSACRE.
Reuters on 18
December reported that official Belgrade has defended the Bosnian Serbs against
charges of massacring Bosnian Muslims and forcing some 5,500 people to go
"missing" when Bosnian Serbs overran the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in July.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, Belgrade's representative to the UN and
former Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic charges that the Bosnian Muslims
were themselves responsible for the atrocities. He asserted that as the Bosnian
Serbs approached Srebrenica, "those [Bosnian Muslim] units which wanted to
continue fighting were mercilessly killing those who wanted to surrender and
were in favour of a ceasefire." Reuters suggests Jovanovic's remarks may be an
effort to "head off" an expected UN resolution condemning the Bosnian Serbs for
the atrocities. -- Stan Markotich
TETOVO UNIVERSITY CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY.
Albanian-language university in Tetovo celebrated its first anniversary on 16
December, MIC reported two days later. At a ceremony attended by Culture
Minister Eshtref Aliu and ethnic Albanian legislators, university dean Fadil
Sulejmani called 17 December, the day the university was founded, a "day of
Albanian liberation in Macedonia." Police earlier this year destroyed parts of
the self-proclaimed university's premises and prevented students from entering
the building. Nonetheless, according to Sulejmani, the university has
underground faculties of math, natural sciences, law, economy, philology,
philosophy, and the arts. The university claims to have 1,300 students and 150
professors. -- Fabian Schmidt
ROMANIAN REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY SPARKS CONTROVERSY.
Gabrielescu, head of the Romanian Senate's Commission of Inquiry into the
Events of December 1989, has accused President Ion Iliescu of being responsible
for the bloodshed that followed the fall and execution of communist dictator
Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian and international media reported on 18 December.
Iliescu was also accused of having used the revolt to stage a coup and of
ordering Ceausescu's killing to prevent him from revealing what he knew about
the country's new leaders. Some participants in the December 1989 events have
decided to stage a posthumous retrial of Ceausescu because, they maintain, none
of the charges against him holds water. President Iliescu told Mediafax that he
may sue Gabrielescu. -- Matyas Szabo
ROMANIA TO TIGHTEN CONTROL ON CIVIL AVIATION.
Minister Aurel Novac, speaking on Radio Bucharest on 18 December, announced
plans to tighten control on the country's civil aviation following two fatal
crashes involving Romanian airliners this year. Novac said that aviation
officials would conduct stricter controls to determine pilot errors or
technical deficiencies. He expressed the hope that the new measures "will
prevent accidents in the future." An Antonov-24 charter plane belonging to the
Banat Air company crashed near Verona, in Italy, last week, killing all 49
people aboard. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN REACTIONS TO RUSSIAN ELECTIONS.
The outcome of the Russian
parliamentary elections will not influence Moldovan foreign policy, an adviser
to President Mircea Snegur told Infotag on 18 December. He described Russian
Communist Party Chairman Gennadii Zyuganov's statement that the restoration of
the USSR was inevitable as "irresponsible" and out of touch with reality.
Another presidential adviser was quoted as saying that Moldova hoped that the
new Russian State Duma would adopt a more realistic stance on both the
ratification of the Russian-Moldovan Army Withdrawal Agreement and the
settlement of the Dniester conflict. In a related development, leader of the
Moldovan Communist Party Vladimir Voronin hailed the Communists' strong showing
in the Russian elections. According to BASA-press, Voronin plans to discuss the
Dniester conflict with the communist Duma deputies soon. -- Dan Ionescu
SEVEN BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS FIRED.
Seven of the Bulgarian National Radio
journalists who signed a declaration on 21 November accusing BNR's management
of censorship were dismissed on 18 December, Bulgarian newspapers reported the
following day. The dismissals occurred despite assurances from BNR
Director-General Vecheslav Tunev that none of the protesters would be fired.
Tunev said their actions would lead to a split within the radio. According to
Trud, he accused them of "complete disloyalty." Among those dismissed
are two deputy directors of BNR's Radio Horizont. Duma reports that the
director and the editor-in-chief of BNR's [international] Radio Bulgaria were
also replaced. -- Stefan Krause
KOZLODUY COULD AFFECT BULGARIAN TIES WITH EU.
French European Affairs
Minister Michel Barnier on 18 December said Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant
could be a major obstacle in Sofia's efforts to join the EU, Reuters reported
the same day. Speaking to a news conference in Sofia after talks with Bulgarian
officials, Barnier said that "without wishing to point the finger at anyone . .
. , [the nuclear issue] is an important one . . . and could be a determining
factor in the process of EU enlargement." The decision to restart Kozloduy's
Reactor No. 1 in October 1995 led to sharp reactions from Western countries
that question the reactor's safety. Barnier said that Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev told him the reactor will be shut down in April
for further checks. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN PRESIDENT IN GERMANY.
Sali Berisha, on an official visit to
Bonn, met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel
on 18 December, the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle reported.
Berisha discussed economic cooperation between the two countries and urged
Albania's integration into the European Union and NATO. Berisha will also meet
with German President Roman Herzog, Finance Minister Theo Waigel, and Economic
Cooperation and Development Minister Carl-Dieter Spranger as well as
representatives of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Berisha urged
international support for a resolution of the Kosovo crisis that respects
internationally recognized borders. -- Fabian Schmidt
FIRST GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS ON NAME ISSUE.
Greek Ambassador to the UN
Christos Zacharakis and his Macedonian counterpart, Ivan Toshevski, met in New
York on 16 December for first talks about the disputed name issue, Nova
Makedonija reported on 18 December, citing Greek media reports. According
to those reports, the talks took place in a positive and "very encouraging"
atmosphere and lasted more than four hours. Both sides said the problem should
be solved as soon as possible and both made suggestions for a possible
solution. Further progress is expected after both sides report to their
governments. UN mediator Cyrus Vance called the meeting "extremely interesting"
and said similar meetings are expected to take place after the Christmas
holidays. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave