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Newsline - January 2, 1996


YELTSIN PLEDGES TO STAY THE COURSE.
During public appearances in the last three days of 1995, President Boris Yeltsin insisted that he would press forward with economic and political reform in 1996, despite a strong showing by the Communists in the 17 December State Duma elections, Russian and Western agencies reported. On 29 December, Yeltsin asserted that market reform would not under any circumstances be reversed. Addressing a New Year's reception the following day, he said that Russians do not notice the main achievement of political reform which is "freedom," and called on Russians to be more optimistic. Any attempt to reverse reform, he concluded, would "lead the country into a dead end." -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN PLEDGES TO FIGHT POVERTY.
In a New Year's address broadcast by Russian Public TV (ORT) on 31 December, President Yeltsin said that raising the living standards of the poor is the main task facing Russia in 1996. Living standards were down 12% over the first nine months of 1995 in comparison with the same period in 1994. He again stressed that the government must begin to pay wage and pension arrears--a major theme of his speeches prior to the Duma elections--and said those unable to sort out the matter should resign. He also promised to crack down on those in financial bodies who misused funds earmarked for social needs, calling it "pure theft," and said compensation would begin to be paid to people who lost their savings as a result of economic reform, particularly the elderly. Three days earlier, Yeltsin had called for improvements in the Economics and Finance ministries, saying "saboteurs" should be rooted out of those bodies. -- Penny Morvant

FINAL DUMA ELECTION RESULTS RELEASED.
On 29 December, the Central Electoral Commission released corrected final tallies for the Duma election, Russian and Western media reported. A total of 69.2 million of the 107.5 million eligible voters took part in the election. A total of 1.3 million ballots were declared invalid, although the 5% party-list threshold was determined using the total number of ballots cast, not only valid ballots. Four parties, with a combined 50.49% of all ballots cast, cleared the 5% threshold. There were some minor changes from the preliminary results issued four days earlier. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) won 22.30% of the party-list vote and 157 Duma seats in all. Our Home Is Russia (NDR) won 10.13% of the vote and a total of 55 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) won 11.18% of the vote but only one single-member district, and will have 51 seats. Yabloko won 6.89% and a total of 45 seats. Twenty-four parties that did not clear the 5% hurdle nevertheless won one or more single-member districts. -- Laura Belin

CONTROVERSY SHROUDS SECOND ROUND OF MOSCOW OBLAST GOVERNOR'S RACE.
Amid controversy and a turnout of less than 28% (barely exceeding the 25% required for valid elections), Anatolii Tyazhlov was re-elected governor of Moscow Oblast with 70.7% of the vote in the second round of elections held on 30 December, Russian media reported the next day. His competitor, Valerii Galchenko, had tried to withdraw his candidacy on 29 December, claiming an "intolerable" number of laws concerning the election had been broken, Russian TV reported. However, the regional electoral commission denied Galchenko's request, arguing that the deadline for removing his name from the ballot had expired on 16 December. Under Russian law, a candidate cannot run unopposed, so removing Galchenko's name would have rendered the runoff invalid. Galchenko has appealed to Russia's Supreme Court to declare the elections invalid. -- Laura Belin

ANPILOV RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.
Viktor Anpilov, leader of the hard-line Russian Communist Workers' Party (RKRP), told a St. Petersburg rally marking the 73rd anniversary of the creation of the USSR that he will run for president in 1996, Interfax reported on 30 December. Anpilov was a leader of the bloc Communists-Workers' Russia-For the Soviet Union, which won only one seat in the Duma despite gaining a surprising 4.53% of the vote on party lists. Anpilov himself lost his bid for a single-member district Duma seat in Saratov. Anpilov's bloc espouses more orthodox communist views than Gennadii Zyuganov's much larger Communist Party of the Russian Federation. -- Laura Belin

ZHIRINOVSKY DEMANDS SPEAKERSHIP, MINISTRIES.
Speaking at a 29 December press conference, Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said members of his faction should be appointed to three ministerial posts and the speakership of the Duma. Zhirinovsky proposed Vladimir Gusev, who was elected to the Duma on the LDPR party list, as a candidate for Duma speaker. Gusev, who served as deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers from 1986 to 1991, "should not raise any objections from the Communists (KPRF)," Zhirinovsky added. He also said his party should receive the Education and Social Protection ministries, as well as the chairmanship of the State Property Committee. The LDPR hopes to gain the chairmanships of eight Duma committees including those on the budget, defense, Duma business, and privatization. -- Scott Parrish

TALIBAN REFUSES TO RELEASE RUSSIAN PILOTS.
The release of the seven Russian aircrew held hostage by the rebel Afghan movement Taliban since 3 August has been postponed indefinitely, Russian and Western agencies reported on 31 December. Earlier, Taliban agreed to free the crew on 30 December and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was expected to be present at their release (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). However, Taliban subsequently refused to release the crew, demanding information about one Afghan citizen whom they claim is detained in Russia. On 31 December, Taliban even refused to receive a Russian delegation for further talks, citing "security" reasons, but promised to continue negotiations in a few days. -- Constantine Dmitriev

DISARMAMENT COMMITMENT NOT MET.
Russia has destroyed less than a third of the 6,331 tanks and about half of the 1,988 armored vehicles east of the Urals that it had promised to eliminate in a unilateral commitment given in June 1991 in connection with the conclusion of the CFE treaty, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 December. Russian General Dmitrii Kharchenko said Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan also missed the year-end deadline to destroy former Soviet equipment on their territory, Reuters reported on 1 January. He said that the Russian problem is purely an economic one, adding that his country wants the deadline extended until the end of 1998. However, ITAR-TASS reported that the Russian Defense Ministry now believes it is not in Russia's interests to scrap the rest of the equipment and no longer regards the 1991 commitment as binding. -- Doug Clarke

RECORDED CRIME INCREASES.
During the first 11 months of 1995, 2.5 million crimes were reported in Russia, a 5.6% increase over the same period of 1994, Russian TV reported on 29 December. Among the most crime-ridden areas were Moscow and Moscow Oblast, St. Petersburg, and Krasnoyarsk Krai. Economic crime cost the government $4 billion. -- Penny Morvant

BUDGET GETS $1.3 BILLION FROM PRIVATIZATION IN 1995 . . .
In 1995, Russia's consolidated budget received about 6 trillion rubles ($1.3 billion) in revenue from privatization, 3.3 trillion rubles less than planned, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 December. Of this amount, some 4.7 trillion rubles ($1.01 billion) were generated by 12 government-organized loans-for-shares auctions. The program was hindered by a general lack of demand, as reflected in low share prices. In addition, eight defense companies were withdrawn from the list because of strategic considerations. In December, privatization suffered a serious setback with the collapse of the STET-Svyazinvest deal. -- Natalia Gurushina

. . . PROSPECTS UNCERTAIN IN 1996.
Speaking on Russian TV on 28 December, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais warned that the government's opponents in the newly-elected Duma are planning "a battle to the death against privatization in 1996." However, he said that the millions of new owners will resist giving up their property, and that "to implement [laws reversing privatization] without spilling blood will be impossible." He argued that the Duma would face a bureaucratic nightmare if they tried to roll back the numerous laws, regulations, and institutions within which the newly-privatized firms are embedded. On the same day, President Yeltsin signed into force a new 100-page law on joint stock companies. -- Peter Rutland

NEW RUBLE CORRIDOR IN EFFECT.
The new ruble corridor went into effect on 1 January. Between now and the end of June the government will intervene to ensure that the ruble stays within the range of 4,550-5,150 rubles to $1. The ruble currently trades at around 4,650 to $1. The previous band, introduced on 5 June 1995, was 4,300-4,900 rubles to $1. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets welcomed Russia's continuing boom in foreign trade, which he said rose 24% in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 January. However, he warned that import restrictions may be introduced on industrial machinery, particularly for the oil and gas industry, in order to protect Russian manufacturers. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIA TO IMPORT GRAIN.
Deputy Economics Minister Ivan Starikov confirmed that Russia will have to buy grain abroad after 1995's disappointing 65 million ton harvest, the worst since 1963. Speaking on Radio Rossii on 1 January, he said most import orders will be placed by regional purchasing funds. AFP reported on 30 December that the federal fund itself has only 1 million of the 5 million tons of grain it needs. Russian grain imports fell from 35 million tons in 1991 to 11 million in 1993 and 3 million in 1994. -- Peter Rutland



AKAYEV TAKES OATH IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev took the oath of office on 30 December after winning re-election the week before, international media reported. Akayev said that he would launch a "a real war" on crime during his new term in office, something he alluded to in the latter half of 1995. He also repeated that there would be personnel changes in the national and local governments to remove individuals who have hindered reforms. He also said taxation laws would be changed and pledged to continue market reforms in the country. Akayev claimed that the fact that he won more than 70% of the vote is a sign that the people support a policy of "democratization and reforms." -- Bruce Pannier

32 JOURNALISTS KILLED IN CIS IN 1995.
Thirty-two journalists were killed in CIS states last year, a sharp increase from the 18 who were killed last year, Oleg Panfilov of the Glasnost Defense Foundation told Western agencies on 30 December. Fifteen of them were killed in Russia, 10 of them in Chechnya. A dozen more were killed in Tajikistan, the most recent of which was BBC correspondent Mehitdin Olimpur who was found shot several times near the state university in Dushanbe on 12 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 December 1995). In many instances, the journalists were not simply killed in combat situations, but rather as a result of their investigative reporting, as exemplified by last week's murder of Vadim Alferev in Krasnoyarsk. Alferev, who had written on economic crimes, was found beaten to death outside his apartment (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). -- Roger Kangas

GDP CONTINUES TO DECLINE FOR CIS STATES IN 1995.
The CIS Statistics Committee's released its economic figures for the January-November 1995 period on 29 December, AFP reported. According to the committee's figures, Russia's GDP fell by 4%, while Armenia registered GDP growth of 5%. Azerbaijan and Ukraine had the worst performances with GDP falling in those countries by 17.4% and 12% respectively. The report also noted that industrial output for the CIS fell by 6.1%. Inflation continues to be a problem, with November levels ranging from 2.5% in Azerbaijan (lowest) to 56.9% (Tajikistan). Finally, the official figures on CIS unemployment remain very low, with only 2.9 million people registered as unemployed. The lowest rate is in Uzbekistan (0.3%) and the highest in Armenia (8.0%). According to a U.S. General Accounting Office report cited by Western agencies on 30 December, the U.S. has delivered $3.5 billion in aid to the former Soviet Union since 1991. The aid ranges from $97 per capita in Armenia to $11.60 in Russia and $7 in Azerbaijan. -- Roger Kangas



UKRAINE TO PARTICIPATE IN BOSNIA OPERATIONS.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has announced that a Ukrainian contingent will participate in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovnia, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 December. Since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it was unclear whether the unit would be subordinated to NATO commanders or would have its own command. Ukraine will also offer use of military transport aircraft to countries participating in the operation. Kiev took part in UN peacekeeping missions in Bosnia over the past three-and-a-half years, but when NATO announced that operations would have to be funded by each participant, Ukraine considered pulling its troops out. The Foreign Ministry acknowledged that it will have to provide funding for the Ukrainian contingent and said it is seeking financial aid from other participants. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT REMAINS MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN IN BELARUS.
According to an opinion poll conducted by the Minsk-based sociological research service Novak, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka remains the most popular politician in the country, NTV reported on 29 December. The poll indicated that 38% of the electorate would vote for Lukashenka if he were to run for president today. Former Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich gained only 3% support; former parliamentary speaker Stanislau Shushkevich 7%, and leader of the nationalist opposition Zyanon Paznyak 6.8%. All three had competed with Lukashenka for the Presidency in 1994. In other news, Belarusian TV on 28 December quoted leader of the Civic Party caucus Stanislau Bahdankevich as saying the caucus is ready to support the president and government if they draw up and implement a reform program. -- Ustina Markus

LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS.
The Central Electoral Commission has published the official results of local by-elections held on 29 November and 10 December. A total of 913 local deputies were elected, fulfilling the two-thirds quorum for local sessions to be able to convene, Belarusian Radio reported on 28 December. -- Ustina Markus

16,674 PEOPLE RECEIVE ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP IN 1995.
The Citizenship and Migration Department announced that Estonian citizenship was given to 16,674 people in 1995, BNS reported on 29 December. Two of them became citizens under the new citizenship law that went into effect on 1 April and the remainder under the 1938 law that it replaced. The number of people given citizenship on the grounds of a language test was greater than in 1994 indicating increased acceptance by aliens of the need to learn Estonian. Some non-citizens who had voted in the 1990 elections to the Congress of Estonia were also granted citizenship. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIA OPENS INTERNMENT CAMP FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
Interior Minister Dainis Turlais and Swedish Ambassador Andreas Adahl on 28 December opened an internment camp for illegal immigrants, LETA reported the next day. The new facilities in the town of Olaine, 30 kilometers from Riga, are meant for 70 to 80 people but could house up to 200 people in an emergency. Some 132 Asian migrants were moved to the camp from a former prison in Olaine. The Latvian government has spent some 360,000 lati ($670,000) on construction costs while Sweden has supplied bedding and other needed furniture. Latvia has been unable to find any country willing to accept illegal immigrants on its territory. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PROGRAMS TO NORTH AMERICA TO BE TRANSMITTED FROM GERMANY.
Lithuanian Radio and TV officials have signed a two-year contract with Deutsche Welle for the use of transmitters located near Frankfurt to broadcast its shortwave programs to North America from 1 January 1996, Radio Lithuania reported on 29 December. The previous transmission of the daily 30-minute programs by Russian transmitters near Krasnodar cost 300,000 litai ($75,000) a year. The new contract provides for the transmission of a 60-minute daily program for some 296,000 litai. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW MINISTERS IN POLAND.
Professor of law Jerzy Konieczny, who headed the State Protection Office in 1992-1993, replaced Andrzej Milczanowski as internal affairs minister on 29 December. The same day, Dariusz Rosati, a professor of law and communist party member from 1966-1990 who since 1991 worked in the analysis department of the UN's economic commission in Geneva, replaced Wladyslaw Bartoszewski as foreign affairs minister. Stanislaw Dobrzanski's appointment as defense minister to replace Zbigniew Okonski is still pending, Polish and international media reported on 2 January. Milczanowski, Bartoszewski, and Okonski were former President Lech Walesa's supporters who stepped down with him on 22 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

RUSSIAN TV ON OLEKSY AFFAIR.
Gazeta Wyborcza on 2 January reported that the Russian TV program "De facto" the previous day was devoted to the spy accusations against Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy. General Vitalii Pavlov, a KGB representative in Poland from 1973-1984, said his instructions from Yurii Andropov, at the time head of the KGB, were not to recruit informers among Poles. But Leonid Lusin, who made the program, commented that in the socialist era, high-ranking communist party officials--including Oleksy--aspired to have the best possible contacts with local KGB representatives. There is thus nothing strange in the fact that Oleksy was meeting Soviet, and later perhaps even Russian, intelligence representatives," Lusin said. -- Jakub Karpinski

HAVEL SAYS CZECH "MORAL CLIMATE" MUST CHANGE.
President Vaclav Havel, in his televised New Year's Day address, bemoaned property and financial speculation, the growth in crime and racism, and "many other matters that force us to consider whether our society is healthy." He said the "moral climate" in the country must change, adding that the Czech Republic's successful political economic changes in the past years "will not be worth much if a moral jungle predominates among people." He said the state should take better care of "socially sensitive" questions such as housing and the environment. However, Havel added that he hoped Czechs would vote in this year's parliamentary and Senate elections for candidates and parties that will continue the reforms of the past years and not for those who "parrot the ideas of others and long for the benefits of power." -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS.
Michal Kovac, speaking on Slovak Television on 1 January, called on the coalition to be tolerant of its critics. "Suppressing critics, calling them traitors or enemies, is considered the first step toward a totalitarian regime," Kovac warned. Kovac called 1995 a "year of political retaliation." He said "the existence of fear is the most convincing argument that politics has overstepped the limits defined by democratic practice and no longer serves citizens." Kovac rejected attempts by "some political circles" to equate national interests with one political party. "Our real national interest is to integrate into the uniting Europe . . . together with our neighbors, in the first stage," he stressed. Kovac expressed optimism at continuing economic growth but noted that it should not be overestimated. "Until the economic results are reflected in the population's living standards, it is only a potential victory," he said. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN TROOPS PREPARE FOR MISSION TO BOSNIA, CROATIA.
Hungary's 400-member peacekeeping contingent of army engineers is preparing to join NATO forces in mid-January, Reuters reported on 29 December. According to unit spokesman Major Emil Varadi, the Hungarian contingent will build bridges over the Sava River and roads in northern Bosnia. The Hungarian unit, which will be equipped with light weapons, will work with British troops and help defend them if they come under attack. -- Sharon Fisher



U.S. BRIDGES SAVA RIVER.
Engineers on 30 December finished installing a pontoon bridge over the raging river that forms a border between Croatia and Bosnia. The BBC said the bridge is 500 meters long and the largest one to be built by the U.S. army since World War II. AFP on 2 January reported that some 200 vehicles had crossed into Bosnia already and that the flow was deliberately slowed in order not to overtax the roads on the Bosnian side. As this new route into Bosnia was opened, another began closing: four years and thousands of tons of food after it was first launched, the Sarajevo airlift is about to come to an end. Finally, news agencies on 31 December reported that one U.S. soldier was wounded by a land mine, making him the first American casualty in the peace mission. -- Patrick Moore

NO DELAY IN HANDOVER OF SERBIAN SUBURBS.
IFOR commander Admiral Leighton Smith said on 30 December that he has no authority to grant the 80-day extension to the deadline for the transfer of the Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs as requested by the Bosnian Serb leadership. The BBC said he wrote parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik that IFOR would nonetheless provide security for the Serbs. The broadcast called Smith's decision "a major setback for the Bosnian Serb leadership." -- Patrick Moore

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER LINKS AID TO COOPERATION WITH TRIBUNAL.
Klaus Kinkel issued a statement on New Year's Day saying that reconstruction aid to the various sides in the Bosnian conflict should be tied to their willingness to assist the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia based in the Hague, international media reported. To date, seven Croats and 45 Serbs have been indicted, the most important of whom are Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic. Kinkel added that "reconstruction aid must if necessary be linked to legal action taken against war criminals who, if they fall into the hands of the troops of the NATO peace Implementation Force, must be arrested and handed over to the relevant authorities. For the establishment of a stable and lasting peace it is important that justice be done [on behalf of] the victims of war crimes and that the latter appear before a tribunal as defendants. Maintaining the accused in their present jobs would jeopardize the peace process." -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERBS RESCUE U.S. HELICOPTER CREW.
IFOR has not written off a possible threat from foreign Islamic fighters still in Bosnia, but the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims have been going out of their way to be helpful. Reuters reported on 28 December that Bosnian Serb villagers from Sibovska in northern Bosnia provided a U.S. helicopter crew and guards with heat and shelter that saved them from a brutal blizzard after the helicopter landed because of transmission problems. The Americans declined offers of local plum brandy but praised the Serbs as "heroes." One Serb said he hoped the encounter on Christmas Day would show foreigners that the Serbs are not "the barbarians we are made out to be," while another added that "we are civilized people and we act like normal people." -- Patrick Moore

DID SARAJEVO SERBS SEIZE 11 CIVILIANS?
Bosnian government minister Hasan Muratovic on 1 January said that Serbs from Ilidza, a Serb-held Sarajevo suburb, have in the past week seized 11 civilians who were traveling on roads around Sarajevo opened recently by NATO, Reuters reported. Their fate is not known. NATO said it knew nothing about the incidents and noted that civilian police authorities were responsible for launching investigations. Muratovic called for a change in the IFOR mandate that would allow the force to deal with terrorism. He added that the Bosnian government may ban its citizens from passing through Ilidza until those captured are released and IFOR gives guarantees of safety, the BH news agency reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES RECONSTRUCTION IN 1996...
Slobodan Milosevic, in his New Year's address, has promised the public that 1996 will usher in a period of economic stability and renewal, AFP reported on 30 December, citing official Tanjug reports. "Peace has been achieved. . . . I expect the next year to be a year of economic revival, increased employment, and an increase in the standard of living," he said. Milosevic added that 1996 will witness a crusade against "criminality" and a crackdown on those elements that have profited from violating sanctions. Hinting at how Belgrade will deal with the question of refugees who flooded into the rump Yugoslavia, he said "I expect . . . [the refugees'] return will become especially intense following the first free and democratic elections in the Serbian Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation." -- Stan Markotich

. . . WHILE MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT PLEDGES UNITY.
Meanwhile, Momir Bulatovic has stressed that relations between Montenegro and Serbia were sound at the close of 1995, Montena-fax reported on 31 December. Serbia and Montenegro "have to build on their unity . . . ; some 90% of our citizens want Montenegro to be in the [rump] Yugoslavia," he said. Bulatovic, who previously outlined the benefits of autonomy for Montenegro, seems intent on further backtracking from policies that might lead to conflicts between Podgorica and Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich

RUGOVA AIMS FOR DIALOGUE.
Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said he is working intensively on establishing a dialogue with Belgrade, BETA reported on 29 December. He commented that the U.S. will have to play a key role in solving the Kosovo conflict and that Tirana also supports negotiations taking place under an independent mediator. At the same time, he admitted that there are differences between the Albanian government and the Kosovar shadow-state but added that these are "insignificant." Albanian President Sali Berisha has called for a solution that recognizes international borders, while the Kosovars have unilaterally declared independence from Belgrade. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIAN PRESIDENT GRANTS AMNESTY TO 455 PEOPLE.
Franjo Tudjman marked the holidays by granting an amnesty to 455 persons who were arrested during and after Operation Storm in Krajina, Novi list reported on 2 January. They were released from prisons on 31 December. Those amnestied had not been charged with war crimes, while another 244 arrested at the same time were not included in the amnesty. The same day, 88 Croatian citizens were released from a prison under a separate amnesty. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MELESCANU ON ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN PARLEYS . . .
Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, speaking at a press conference in Bucharest on 29 December, said Hungary's response to President Ion Iliescu's proposals for a "historic reconciliation" includes some aspects that were not part of Bucharest's original proposal. He added that as a result, implementation may be delayed. With regard to the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty, Hungary insists on including Recommendation 1201 and a more detailed definition of autonomy based on ethnic criteria and collective rights, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. -- Michael Shafir

. . . AND ON FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVES FOR 1996.
Melescanu also said that Romania's main foreign-policy objectives for this year are the country's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, consolidating relations with the EU and neighboring countries, and concluding basic treaties with Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav republics. He noted that parleys with Russia will not be influenced by that country's December elections, adding that Romania continues to insist that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact be condemned in the treaty with Russia. With regard to Ukraine, he said the dispute over Serpent Island was about the delimitation of territorial waters and should not be seen as constituting a territorial claim on Ukraine. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION TO START NEXT WEEK.
Bulgarian newspapers on 29 December reported that the mass voucher privatization program is scheduled to start on 9 January. One million vouchers have already been printed and will be sold in post offices throughout the country. For a registration fee of 500 leva ($7), adults can obtain vouchers with a nominal value of up to 25,000 leva ($354) that can then be exchanged for shares in 1,300 state enterprises totaling about 200 billion leva ($2.8 billion). About half the enterprises are in industry, while most of the remainder are in tourism, agriculture, and construction. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT'S NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS.
Zhelyu Zhelev, speaking to Bulgarian citizens on 31 December, called for, among other things, a crackdown on crime and a program of land restitution whereby farmers would become "truly free and economically independent." Zhelev called on the parliament to pass legislation on health insurance and the state-run media. He also told the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party "to stop being afraid of and threatening others with the word NATO; after all, we are going into 1996 and not 1956." Trud published the address on 2 January. -- Stefan Krause

AMNESTY IN ALBANIA.
Albanian President Sali Berisha has decreed a New Year amnesty for 90 prisoners, including Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano and the widow of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha, international agencies reported on 30 December. Nano's sentence was reduced by eight months, which leaves him with more than two years to serve. His 12-year sentence for the misappropriation of Italian aid funds has been repeatedly reduced in amnesties and appeals. Nexhmije Hoxha's nine-year prison term has been shortened by six months. She was convicted in January 1993 for misappropriating state funds and for abuse of power. As a result of previous amnesties, she now has only two years left to serve. Former Politburo member Lenka Cuko, sentenced for abuse of power, was freed. The remaining 87 prisoners had committed crimes such as robbery and theft. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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