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Newsline - December 20, 1995


ESTIMATES OF SEAT TOTALS FOR PARTIES.
With about two-thirds of the party-list votes counted and 215 of the single-member seats determined, the 450 seats in the new State Duma will be allocated among the top parties roughly as follows:
party % (party list) party list seats single-member seats total seats
(225 total) (225 total) (projected)
KPRF 21.0% 97 53 150
NDR 10.1% 42 10 52
Yabloko 7.2% 37 14 51
LDPR 11.0% 49 1 50
APR 3.9% 0 20 20
DVR 4.2% 0 10 10
VN na 0 7 7
KRO 4.1% 0 5 5
ZhR 4.7% 0 3 3
PST 4.2% 0 1 1
KTR 4.6% 0 0 0

Note: Independent candidates have won 73 out of the 225 seats determined in single-member districts, and a number of small parties have won up to three seats each.
Abbreviations: Communist Party (KPRF), Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), Our Home Is Russia (NDR), Women of Russia (ZhR), Agrarian Party of Russia (APR), Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR), Power to the People (VN), Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), Communists-Working Russia (KTR), Party of Workers' Self-Management (PST). (Sources: RIA-Novosti on 19 December and ITAR-TASS on 20 December.) -- Laura Belin

CHERNOMYRDIN: ELECTIONS WON'T FORCE CABINET RESHUFFLE.
Following a 19 December meeting with President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin continued to insist that the election results will not force a cabinet reshuffle, Russian media reported. He said he and the president had discussed possible changes in the government but that these changes were not connected to the elections. The prime minister also said there "could be no doubt" that First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais will remain in the cabinet, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin

SATAROV: YELTSIN WILL WORK WITH NEW DUMA.
Presidential adviser Georgii Satarov told Russian TV's "Podrobnosti" on 19 December that the president may consider offering some government posts to the Communist Party but will not offer it any key cabinet positions. Satarov said the president "answers for the whole country, he cannot allow himself such experiments." He added that Chernomyrdin had long ago offered the Communists a place in the government when they were only the third- or fourth-largest Duma faction, but they had refused. -- Laura Belin

BATTLE BEGINS FOR DUMA SPEAKERSHIP.
Both the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party want one of their deputies to be named Duma speaker, but the position is likely to go to someone who is a not a member of either of the big parties, according to Izvestiya on 20 December. Representatives from smaller parties and independents will work to ensure that a major party candidate does not assume such a powerful position. The article claims that Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are purging the leading members of their factions in order to remove "dangerous rivals." The Liberal Democrats' diminished faction in the new Duma, compared to the one elected in 1993, may allow them to win chairmanships of second-tier committees only. The Communists will likely maintain their leadership of the committees on legislation and security and possibly gain control of the committees on agriculture and information policy. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED CHARGES THAT RESULTS WERE FALSIFIED.
Aleksandr Lebed, one of the leaders of the Congress of Russian Communities, blamed his bloc's poor showing on "trickery" and "falsification," Reuters reported. His bloc appears very unlikely to cross the 5% barrier required to win representation in the Duma in party-list voting. He said that he would investigate the vote counting himself. Meanwhile, Central Electoral Commission officials have blamed the slow pace at which results have been coming in on bad weather, roads, and telephone lines. They said it is better to get the results right rather than to add them up too quickly, and they ruled out fraud. -- Robert Orttung and Penny Morvant

ZHIRINOVSKY REJECTS ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS.
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky rejected an alliance with the Communists on 19 December, Russia TV reported. He said that the election results would have little influence on the government, except to replace three or four ministers, "which would not change anything," ITAR-TASS reported. His party will hold its 7th congress on 10 January to officially nominate him as its presidential candidate. -- Robert Orttung

ZYUGANOV CLAIMS SUCCESS FOR LOW COST STRATEGY.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov claimed that his party's low cost strategy fueled the party's campaign success in an interview published in Pravda on 20 December. However, he accused Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov of intervening in the vote counting process and temporarily suspending the reporting of the results. He said that his party would work in the Duma with representatives of the Agrarian Party, Power to the People, trade unions, and goods producers. Zyuganov added that the percentage his party won in the Duma elections is not enough to win the June presidential elections and that much work remains to be done. He said that the left should name its candidates for the office of president, prime minister, and key ministerial posts. Earlier, he claimed, the opposition had discussed doing that, but at that time there were too many candidates for the positions. Now that the support for each group is clear, however, it will be easier to solve those personnel questions. -- Robert Orttung

KOZYREV WARNS AGAINST OVERREACTION TO ELECTION RESULTS.
As returns from the 17 December Duma elections continued to indicate a strong showing by communist and nationalist parties, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev warned against "drawing hasty conclusions," Russian agencies reported on 19 December. Kozyrev argued that despite a weak showing by liberal Western-oriented parties, "neither we, nor our foreign partners should fall into despair or panic." The embattled minister added that his own victory in a single-member constituency in Murmansk, a city with a large naval base, showed that Russians did not reject either the idea of partnership with the West or domestic reform, and said he would discuss his future in the cabinet with President Yeltsin within the next few days (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 December 1995). -- Scott Parrish

INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO DUMA ELECTIONS.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering downplayed the impact of the elections, saying they would not cause "revolutionary" change in Russian policy, Izvestiya reported on 20 December. Pickering emphasized that U.S. policy toward Russia would remain unchanged despite the election results and pointed out that under the Russian constitution, the president directs foreign policy, not the Duma. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 19 December that China would adhere to its current course of "constructive partnership" with Russia, irrespective of the final election results. Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen later said the election results showed the "dissatisfaction" of the Russian people, adding that "raising the living standards of the population is more important than any slogans." -- Scott Parrish

ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA SUSPENDS PUBLICATION.
The heavily-subsidized government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta has suspended publication, proving that even the official press is not immune to financial difficulties, Russian TV and NTV reported on 19 December. The paper's editor in chief, Anatolii Yurkov, complained that the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) owes the paper 5 billion rubles ($1 million) for publishing about 100 pages of election-related materials during the campaign but refuses to pay. Rossiiskaya gazeta has a circulation of approximately 500,000. In addition to news coverage and commentary, it routinely publishes the full texts of official documents, including laws, presidential decrees, and some Constitutional Court decisions. -- Laura Belin

FEDERATION COUNCIL TURNS DOWN CHANGES TO CONSCRIPTION LAW.
The Federation Council on 19 December turned down amendments to the law on military service which had been approved by the State Duma on 8 December, ITAR-TASS reported. The changes would have granted exemptions from service to any draftees with a single parent over the age of 52. The Council Defense and Security Committee concluded that adopting the Duma's proposals would damage the armed forces by giving many university graduates a legal basis for avoiding military service. The Federation Council has consistently rejected attempts by the Duma to moderate the terms of military service. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA TO JOIN POST-COCOM.
Twenty-eight countries, including Russia and several other members of the former Warsaw Pact, have agreed to create a new multilateral body to control the export of weapons and sensitive technologies, Western agencies reported on 19 December. The new body, named the Wassenaar Accord, will replace the Cold War era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Control (COCOM) and will be based in Vienna. A spokesman said it would aim to prevent the export of arms and advanced technology to countries that "constitute a menace to peace and international security," including Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. The agreement has yet to be formally approved by the governments of the member states and no date has been set for an official signing ceremony, but the body will hold its first meeting in early April. -- Scott Parrish

NEW NATO CHIEF CALLS FOR EXPANSION OF THE ALLIANCE.
Former Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana formally took over as NATO secretary-general on 19 December and immediately pledged to expand the alliance eastward, Reuters reported. He said NATO's enlargement is "the single most important contribution the alliance can make to the aim of creating a more integrated and united Europe." He termed closer cooperation and the creation of stronger ties with Russia as one of NATO's main tasks, adding that Europe's new security architecture should be built with Russia rather than against it. -- Doug Clarke

FEDERATION COUNCIL PASSES BUDGET . . .
On 19 December, the Federation Council passed the draft 1996 budget by a vote of 90-14, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported the same day. The budget, which had been approved by the Duma on 6 December, now goes to President Yeltsin for signing. It is the first time since 1991 that parliament has approved a budget before the start of the financial year. The budget represents a continuation of the government's tight financial policy, although the Communist Party also voted for the budget in the Duma, after it was amended to include increased spending. -- Peter Rutland

. . . AND PRODUCTION SHARING LAW.
Parliament's upper house also approved a law on production sharing on 19 December, Reuters reported the same day. The absence of legislation allowing the direct allocation of proceeds from fuel and mineral extraction has been an important deterrent to foreign investors. A draft of the new law was passed by the Duma in June but was blocked by the Federation Council as deputies tried to limit the advantages for foreign investors. A joint commission was set up to work out a compromise bill acceptable to both houses, and on 5 December the Duma passed the bill with a majority sufficient to override a Federation Council veto. However, Segodnya on 15 December reported accusations that Duma Deputy Sergei Glazev switched texts at the last minute, which meant that the bill the Duma approved differed from that drawn up by the conciliation commission. Glazev's version gives the state the right to unilaterally amend production sharing agreements after they have been signed. -- Peter Rutland



OPPOSITION TO RECENT ELECTION RULING IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Three former presidential candidates have started a hunger strike with 12 supporters to protest the Supreme Court's decision to bar them from running in the 24 December election, Western agencies reported. Djumgalbek Amanbayev, Mamat Aibalayev, and Omurbek Tekebayev were all removed from the presidential ballot due to "irregularities" in collecting the necessary 50,000 signatures required to stand for election. An estimated 100 people have set up a picket line outside the building in which the hunger strikers are staging their protest as a show of support. Interfax reported on 20 December that the three are also calling on the Kyrgyz Legislative Assembly to consider postponing the election date. The three candidates were not considered to have had a chance at winning the election. According to a recent poll, President Askar Akayev would receive 76.5% of the vote. -- Roger Kangas



BLACK SEA FLEET SKIRMISH.
Contradictory reports have emerged over an incident involving the Ukrainian Navy and the Black Sea Fleet. Interfax and Segodnya on 19 December quoted Black Sea Fleet spokesman Andrei Krylov as saying fleet security officers were forced to fire warning shots into the air to disperse sailors from the Ukrainian navy who had seized a food depot in Donuzlav. According to Krylov, the sailors were armed with clubs and steel rods. When they returned after being driven away, they were apprehended by Black Sea Fleet security personnel. The Ukrainian navy denied there had been any attempt to seize the depot and said the sailors were attempting to deliver supplies to the depot. Both Ukrainian navy and Black Sea Fleet officials are now in Donuzlav investigating the incident. -- Ustina Markus

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT ON PREMIER'S DISMISSAL.
ITAR-TASS on 19 December reported that the Crimean parliament has decided to relieve Prime Minister Anatolii Franchuk of his duties instead of impeaching him. Deputies on 9 December passed a no-confidence in the prime minister. Kuchma said he would not intervene on Franchuk's part. Franchuk stepped down after being elected to Ukraine's parliament in recent elections. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT RESTORES MILITARY PRIVILEGES.
Krasnaya zvezda on 19 December reported that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree restoring privileges to the military and law enforcement agencies that were rescinded under a 1 September decree. Those privileges include housing allowances and free passes to health resorts and sanatoriums upon retirement Although Lukashenka has always spoken out against privileges for elites, he has backtracked on rescinding privileges several times. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF'S DISMISSAL.
The parliament on 19 December approved the dismissal of Aleksander Einseln as commander-in-chief of the defense forces, BNS reported. President Lennart Meri relieved Einseln of his duties on 3 December because of a public row with Defense Minister Andres Oovel. The parliament has so far refused to discuss Meri's suggestion that Lt. Col. Johannes Kert, commander of the Defense League, replace Einseln. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY EXPELS CAUCUS MEMBER.
A plenary session of the Presidium of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) on 18 December voted to expel Bronius Genzelis from the caucus, Radio Lithuania reported. Genzelis on 12 December announced that he no longer considered himself a member of the LDDP because it was betraying the ideals of social democracy and becoming authoritarian. He added, however, that he would remain a member of the caucus. The Presidium suggested that Genzelis resign from the parliament since he was elected on the LDDP list. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRIME MINISTER ACCUSED OF TREASON.
At a meeting called suddenly by outgoing Polish President Lech Walesa on 19 December, Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski presented documents suggesting that Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy had collaborated with Soviet--and later Russian--intelligence since 1983, Radio Zet reported. A commission is to launch an investigation into the case. Walesa on 12 December had promised to reveal "top secret" materials on such activities (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 December 1995). Milczanowski's resignation was to have taken effect on 20 December, but he will now remain in office until Walesa's term expires on 22 December. President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski said the accusations against Oleksy were "stupid," Polish and international media reported on 19-20 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON RADIO, TV BOARDS.
The Polish Constitutional Court on 19 December ruled that the boards of public TV and radio cannot be recalled during their term. The court's ruling was made at the request of outgoing President Walesa, who said he was concerned that the government would take advantage of its rights as owner of public TV and radio to interfere in media affairs. Two judges objected to the fact that the president's motion was not countersigned by the prime minister and one judge argued that the commercial code should also apply to public TV and radio, which are joint stock companies, Polish dailies reported on 20 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PARLIAMENT RATIFIES OECD MEMBERSHIP.
Deputies on 19 December approved the agreement for the Czech Republic to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is the organization's 26th and first post-communist member country. Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec told the parliament that being invited to join the OECD signified recognition for the Czech Republic's political and economic transformation, Hospodarske noviny reported. Meanwhile, the Czech Statistics Office said that GDP grew 6.3% in the third quarter of this year, more than expected. For the first nine months of 1995, GDP growth was 4.8%, up from 4.0% in the first half of the year. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAKIA'S RATIFICATION OF TREATY WITH HUNGARY DELAYED AGAIN?
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak TV on 19 December, noted that a sufficient number of deputies may vote for the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, which was to be discussed in the parliament the following day. Meciar said he considers it "more realistic" that the parliament will delay ratification and vote on the treaty later, together with a special interpretation clause. Meciar had recently said the treaty would be approved in December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 December 1995). The delay is a result of increasing tension within the coalition, with Meciar's two coalition partners as well as deputies within his own party criticizing the treaty. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP.
The parliament on 19 December passed the 1996 budgets for the state health and social insurance companies and the National Property Fund, approving 1 billion koruny of the latter's budget to help boost housing construction, Sme reported. The Constitutional Court the same day discussed the government's cancellation of the coupon privatization program and was expected to announce its ruling the following day. In other news, the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement plans to sue Slovak TV (STV) for its repeat broadcast of a documentary the evening before the expected ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, Pravda reported on 20 December. The documentary, entitled "Bloody Christmas," deals with Hungary's occupation of southern Slovakia during World War II. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ALLOCATES PRIVATIZATION REVENUES FOR DEBT PAYMENT.
The Hungarian parliament, ignoring a request by Prime Minister Gyula Horn, on 19 December approved an amendment to the draft budget stipulating that all surplus privatization revenues be used to partly repay the $33 billion state debt, Hungarian newspapers reported. Most Socialist deputies voted against the proposal, while the Free Democrats and opposition parties supported it. Horn had asked the Socialist Party caucus to give the government time to discuss the matter and had suggested the revenues be spent on job creation programs. The same day, the parliament approved a bill defining the structure, duties, and basic principles of the country's five secret services. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

IFOR TO ESTABLISH AIR BASE IN BUDAPEST.
Col. John Martinson of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest on 19 December said IFOR troops will set up a second air base at Budapest's Ferihegy airport owing to bad weather in Taszar, southern Hungary, Hungarian media reported. Defense Ministry official Gabor Nagy said IFOR headquarters asked the Hungarian government last weekend to allow military planes to land at Ferihegy. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



UN HANDS OVER COMMAND TO NATO IN BOSNIA.
The UN handed over command of the Bosnian peacekeeping operation to NATO in Sarajevo on 20 December, Western agencies reported. The NATO troops, backed by Europe and the U.S. and with massive firepower at their disposal, replace the lightly armed and largely discredited UN peacekeepers, who often found themselves at odds with the cumbersome UN civilian command structure. Nonetheless, many UN troops will replace their blue and white with NATO camouflage and remain in the country. General George Joulwan on 19 December said that despite the recent bad weather and logistical problems, the deployment of the 60,000-strong force remains on schedule. Thorvald Stoltenberg, the outgoing UN mediator, cautioned that a new crisis could occur if the U.S. removed its troops too soon. -- Michael Mihalka

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER PLEDGES TO HELP IFOR.
New Bosnian Serb Premier Rajko Kasagic delivered his first public statement on local television on 19 December, AFP reported. He told his audience that the Serbs "should cooperate with IFOR to ensure that they have peace and security, because our future will depend on such cooperation." Kasagic also made it clear that his men would help IFOR in keeping law and order and that stealing vehicles belonging to international organizations would stop. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has called the Dayton agreement "disastrous" but said that the Serbian cause will now have to be advanced politically and not with weapons. -- Patrick Moore

NEW SIGNALS TO SARAJEVO SERBS.
The VOA's Croatian-language service reported on 20 December that the Serbian mayor of Ilidza, which is due to pass to Bosnian government control, has urged his people to stay. It appears to be the first public statement by a Bosnian Serb official in Sarajevo that it might be possible for his people to live under the new authority. Nasa Borba quoted the speaker of Pale's parliament, Momcilo Krajisnik, as also holding open some possibilities other than resettlement for the Serbs in the Sarajevo suburbs. He told a local audience that "the people who defended this city have a right to stay in it" and that "at this moment there are a significant number of arguments that point to a favorable solution." Krajisnik indicated that the Serbs would have to have their own authorities and police. -- Patrick Moore

U.S. OFFICIAL CRITICIZES BELGRADE ALLEGATIONS ABOUT ATROCITIES AGAINST MUSLIMS.
Reuters on 19 December reported that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright has criticized allegations by Belgrade that Bosnian Muslim forces were responsible for atrocities against fellow Muslims in Srebrenica in July, when the enclave fell to advancing Bosnian Serbs. Albright said charges made by rump Yugoslav representative to the UN Vladslav Jovanovic in a letter to the Security Council were "a big lie" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 December 1995). "I just hope Mr. Jovanovic was acting without instructions as it goes beyond my understanding of what he would gain by sending such a preposterous letter that has basically insulted the intelligence of the Security Council,'' Albright said. In a separate development, Tanjug reported that same day that Belgrade will honor a pledge to allow NATO forces to transit through rump Yugoslav territory. -- Stan Markotich

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS RECOGNITION OF CROATIA ON HOLD . . .
Politika and Nova Makedonija on 20 December reported that Momir Bulatovic, speaking at a press conference the previous day, said Belgrade's recognition of Croatia will be withheld as long as Zagreb continues to control a small strip of coastal territory known as Prevlaka peninsula, flanking the Bay of Kotor, the base of the rump Yugoslav navy. He noted that Croatia agreed at Dayton to give up Prevlaka in exchange for territory near the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. "We do not wish recognize the Republic of Croatia . . . as long as it does not fulfill the obligations it agreed to. We will not give up our interests," Bulatovic commented. -- Stan Markotich

. . . BUT GRANTS AMNESTY TO DISSIDENT WRITER, MUSLIM LEADERS.
Bulatovic on 19 December granted an amnesty to well-known writer Jevrem Brkovic, who is living in exile in Croatia, as well as to 82 other people, including leaders of the mainly Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Hina reported. Bulatovic told reporters that he wanted "to stress symbolically the significance of the peace accords" by stopping legal action against individuals and groups on the basis of their political, ideological, and religious beliefs. -- Daria Sito Sucic

LJAJIC REGARDS SERBIAN RENEWAL MOVEMENT AS "POLE OF OPPOSITION."
The head of the ethnic Muslim Party of Democratic Action of Sandzak (SDA), Rasim Ljajic, has met with a German parliamentary delegation in Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported on 20 December. Ljajic demanded the return of the OSCE monitoring mission to the rump Yugoslavia, which Belgrade evicted in 1993. He stressed that the SDA is cooperating with the Serbian Renewal Movement in its fight against reorganizing election districts in favor of the Socialist Party of Serbia and added that his party is also ready to cooperate with the New Democracy and the Civic Union of Serbia. The SDA Sandzak boycotted the last Serbian elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

HEAD OF MACEDONIAN PRIVATIZATION AGENCY FIRED.
The Macedonian government on 19 December relieved Miroljub Sukarov, director of the country's privatization agency, of his duties, Nova Makedonija reported the next day. Strained communications between the cabinet and the agency and the former's disagreement with certain agency decisions were cited as reasons for the move. Sukarov, who had supervised the privatization process since 1991, will be succeeded temporarily by agency's deputy director. -- Michael Wyzan

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE DID NOT HIJACK 1989 REVOLT.
Ion Iliescu on 19 December rejected charges that he hijacked the December 1989 uprising to seize power for himself and old-guard Communists, Reuters reported. In a statement read by presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu, Iliescu "indignantly" rejected what he described as a "new attempt to denigrate the Romanian revolution, to distort facts and launch a series of allegations." Iliescu was responding to recent accusations by Valentin Gabrielescu, a senator for the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic and head of the parliamentary commission investigating the revolution. Gabrielescu holds Iliescu responsible for some of the 1,200 deaths during the revolt. He said he decided to issue his view of the events for fear that the commission's report would be ignored. -- Dan Ionescu

UZBEK FOREIGN MINISTER CONCLUDES ROMANIAN VISIT.
Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov and his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, have announced that the two countries will officially establish diplomatic relations and work on improving bilateral trade, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 December. During his visit, Komilov also met with Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu and President Ion Iliescu. -- Roger Kangas

MOLDOVAN OFFICIAL ON RUSSIAN ELECTIONS, INDEPENDENCE.
Parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi on 19 December warned that the Communists' victory in the Russian elections could jeopardize his country's independence. In a statement quoted by BASA-press and Infotag, Lucinschi spoke of "possible attempts [by some Duma deputies] to call into question decisions concerning Moldova's independence and integrity." But he expressed the hope that "Russia is not going to base its policies on emotions and hasty decisions" and that it will continue to respect the commitments it made within the framework of the CIS. On a positive note, Lucinschi commented that the State Duma's activities were likely to become more stable and predictable, which, he said, "perfectly suits Moldova's interests." -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN FORMER PREMIER THREATENS VIDENOV AIDE.
Nevena Gyurova, public relations officer in the government's press center and an adviser to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, said in a 19 December interview with RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service that former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov has been blackmailing her over the past five years. She said Lukanov has threatened to publicize her former drug addiction. According to Gyurova, Lukanov has "intimate information about [former Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Aleksandar] Lilov and [President Zhelyu] Zhelev." She said his methods are typical for the former Sixth Direction of the Communist State Security, which dealt with political opponents. Gyurova said she turned to RFE/RL because the domestic media are afraid to get into a conflict with Lukanov. Lukanov is generally seen as one of the country's most influential politicians with good connections to financial and economic groups. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT LAMBASTES NATIONAL MEDIA BOSSES.
Zhelyu Zhelev, during his visit to Lisbon, on 19 December told journalists accompanying him to Portugal that the governing majority has "brutally usurped" the national media, Pari reported the following day. He said this could have consequences for Bulgaria's international standing. "Hardly anyone will talk to us seriously about EU membership when leading journalists are dismissed in the national media in such a brutal way," Zhelev said. Also on 19 December, the Union of Democratic Forces, the People's Union, the Movement for Rights and Freedom, and members of the Bulgarian Business Bloc demanded in a joint statement that the Bulgarian National Radio director-general be dismissed immediately, otherwise they will use all possible means to defend freedom of speech, Standart reported. BNR journalists the same day issued a declaration demanding that their dismissed colleagues be reinstated. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS AGREEMENT FOR GERMAN AID.
Sali Berisha, during his visit to Germany, has signed an agreement for a DM 47 million ($33 million) aid package for infrastructure projects such as water supply and sewage treatment plants. The agreement is also designed to secure foreign investments through a legal framework. Another DM 13 million pledged to Albania remains to be allocated for future projects, international agencies and Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service reported on 19 December. At a reception of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHT), Berisha said German companies Krupp and Preussag expressed interest in investments. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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