Accessibility links

Newsline - January 4, 1996


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 2, No. 3, 4 January 1996
ELECTED DEPUTIES MUST ANNOUNCE INTENTIONS BY 5 JANUARY.
Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov announced that newly elected deputies to the State Duma must confirm by 5 January that they have given up any other jobs "incompatible with their new status," Interfax reported on 3 January. In December, the TsIK reminded all deputies that if they serve in the next parliament, they cannot simultaneously "be employed by the government or hold paid jobs in any fields except teaching, scientific research, and creative expression in general." Lawmakers in the previous Duma were allowed to hold jobs outside the legislature, and several cabinet ministers were also deputies. Perm Oblast Governor Boris Kuznetsov has submitted his resignation to President Yeltsin in order to take up his Duma seat, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 January. The Sixth Duma is scheduled to hold its first session on 16 January. It is still unclear whether Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev will hold on to his government post or give it up to take the Duma seat that he won in a Murmansk constituency in the 17 December election, Russian agencies reported on 3 January. -- Laura Belin, Anna Paretskaya, and Scott Parrish

MIKHALKOV GIVES UP DUMA SEAT.
Oscar-winning film director Nikita Mikhalkov, who was second on the Our Home Is Russia party list, will give up his Duma seat in order to concentrate on his next film project, an epic about Russian army officers, Russian and Western media reported on 3 January. He told ITAR-TASS that he joined the prime minister's bloc to help prevent a victory for "the radical opposition," not because he planned to become a deputy himself. Mikhalkov added that only political stability can create the conditions for solving Russia's other problems, including poverty, crime, and the destruction of "national culture." Unlike government officials, Mikhalkov was not forced to choose between his creative work and serving in parliament. -- Laura Belin

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA FACTION TO DIFFER FROM PARTY LIST.
Our Home Is Russia (NDR) will have at least 55 deputies in the next Duma, but the composition of the faction may be very different from the slate of candidates that 10% of Russians voted for on 17 December. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has already announced that he will continue to lead the cabinet rather than serve in the Duma. Early reports after the election indicated that General Lev Rokhlin, NDR's #3 candidate, would also give up his Duma seat to stay in the armed forces, but according to NTV on 3 January, Rokhlin has still not made a final decision. The future of Nikolai Travkin, currently minister without portfolio in the government and the administrative head of the Shakhov region of the Moscow Oblast, is unclear. Two city government officials in Moscow, Vladimir Resin and Vladimir Sister, have requested that their Duma seats be passed to candidates lower on the NDR list so that they can remain in their current jobs, Interfax reported. NTV noted that some of the 10 Our Home Is Russia deputies elected in single-member districts also are heads of local governments or large enterprises and have not yet announced their intentions. -- Laura Belin

NEW FEDERAL OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA?
Despite a recent lull in the fighting in Chechnya, which has slackened since federal forces retook Gudermes from separatist fighters, the appointment of Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov as the new commander of federal forces in the republic has triggered speculation that a renewed government offensive may be in the offing. Some commentators have noted that Tikhomirov is a regular army officer, while his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, was from the Interior Troops. Military sources told Interfax on 3 January that Tikhomirov is a "decisive" commander, predicting that "federal troops will begin to actively disarm illegal armed formations." Meanwhile, NTV reported that the 8th Guards Corps, which participated in the storming of Grozny last year, may be redeployed to Chechnya, although a spokesman for the unit, currently on tactical exercises near its Volgograd base, refused to confirm the reports. -- Scott Parrish

NEMTSOV PROPOSES NEW ECONOMIC POLICY.
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Boris Nemtsov, who was re-elected on 17 December, has proposed a new economic policy for the oblast, Radio Rossii reported on 3 January. According to Nemtsov, the policy's main aim is to establish the best possible conditions for producers and entrepreneurs and set aside "fruitless political debates." The policy includes proposals for lower taxes and the creation of offshore and free economic zones. -- Anna Paretskaya

RYURIKOV ON FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL.
The new Presidential Council on Foreign Policy, created by a Yeltsin decree on 26 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 December 1995), is not directed at any particular ministry or minister, presidential foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov told Interfax on 3 January. He said the new council would help the Foreign Ministry by fostering "the coordination of Russian foreign policy and unification of all its spheres." Ryurikov stressed that the primary task of the new council would be to monitor the implementation of foreign policy decisions made by the president, a job which would be handled by the new council's secretariat, he added. Indirectly admitting that Russian foreign policy-making is uncoordinated, Ryurikov described the formation of the council as "the only way to make every department carry out state policy." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-UKRAINIAN DISPUTE OVER OIL PIPELINE.
Anonymous Russian officials blamed Ukraine for the suspension of oil shipments to Eastern Europe via the "Druzhba" pipeline, which crosses Ukrainian territory, Interfax reported on 3 January. The pipeline shut down on 1 January because of a dispute between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees. The officials accused Ukraine of violating an intergovernmental agreement by trying to unilaterally impose a 10% increase on transit fees. Oleksandr Sverdelov, a Ukrainian spokesman, attributed the shutoff to Russian insistence that oil be shipped at the old tariff until new transit fees are negotiated. Sverdlov said Ukraine wanted to raise the transit fee for shipping one metric ton of oil to $5.20, from the current $4.53, although he said a "realistic" price would be $7.20. -- Scott Parrish

MORE THAN 45 BILLION RUBLES SPENT ON CENTERS FOR REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRANTS.
The Federal Migration Service spent more than 45 billion rubles in 1995 on centers to temporarily house refugees and forced migrants, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 January. There are 160 such centers in Russia, 68 of which were set up in the North Caucasus to cope with the influx of refugees from the Ossetiyan-Ingush conflict and Chechnya. Refugees are supposed to stay in the centers for no more than three months, but according to the Migration Service that is not enough time to resettle them due to a lack of funds. In 1995, only 106 apartments were found for refugees from the centers, which currently house about 25,000 people. Better-off immigrants receive interest-free loans to help them relocate; most move to rural areas. -- Penny Morvant

INVESTIGATION OF MEN CASE CONCLUDED.
The Moscow Oblast Procurator's Office has closed the investigation into the murder of reformist priest Aleksandr Men, who was slain with an axe in 1990, Russian TV reported on 3 January. Igor Bushnev, who has been charged with the murder, will be tried by a court in the town of Sergiev-Posad. Men's relatives believe that the case against Bushnev has been fabricated and that the true killer is still at large, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Penny Morvant

NEW ST. PETERSBURG METROPOLITAN APPOINTED.
Following a meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church Synod, Metropolitan Vladimir of Rostov and Novocherkassk has been appointed to replace St. Petersburg Metropolitan Ioann, who died on 2 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 November 1995). The 66-year-old Metropolitan Vladimir is a graduate of the Moscow Seminary and Leningrad Theological Academy, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 30 December. He was ordained in 1953 and received a bishopric in 1993. Among the other candidates considered for the post were Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and Metropolitan Iuvenalii of Krutitsii and Kolomna. -- Penny Morvant

1996 BUDGET SIGNED INTO LAW.
President Yeltsin signed the 1996 budget into law on 31 December, Russian TV reported on 3 January. The budget envisions a deficit of 88.6 trillion rubles ($19 billion), or about 3.8% of GDP. This is above the 1995 deficit, which was 3.5% or GDP, but below 1994's 10% figure. The budget plans to bring inflation down to 1.9% a month, compared to 7% per month in 1995, which should clear the way for the $9 billion credit currently being negotiated with the IMF. Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov admitted on Russian TV on 3 January that many budget organizations have not been able to pay wages since October, and that these funds will have to come out of the new budget. He noted that this has happened at the end of every year since 1991. -- Peter Rutland

LEGAL CHALLENGE TO CURRENCY CONTROLS.
Despite the government's success in macroeconomic stabilization, the rules of the economic game in Russia are still unclear. The Moscow Arbitration Court recently overturned a $3.5 million fine which the Federal Foreign Currency and Export Control Service had imposed on Pervyi Professionalnyi Bank for violations of currency regulations, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 28 December. The court ruled that the agency lacked the legal basis for levying the fine because it was operating under governmental decree rather than a Duma-approved law. Further evidence of the lack of clear rules of the game in economic policy came from the deputy chair of the Central Bank S. Aleksashenko, who was quoted in Kommersant on 28 December as saying that "the Finance Ministry and Central Bank often learn of each other's decisions from the newspapers, which can hardly be considered normal." -- Peter Rutland

MAGNITOGORSK STEEL WORKS FACING GRIM FUTURE.
The giant Magnitogorsk steel works faces a profound crisis, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 3 January. In the past, the Magnitka works relied on importing ore from deposits 450 km away in Kazakhstan. However, the new private managers of the Sarbaevsk mine prefer to sell their ore to buyers in China because they pay on time. The nearest Russian ore deposits are located 2,500 km away in Lebed, and transporting the ore that distance is not economically viable. -- Peter Rutland



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 2, No. 3, 4 January 1996
REFERENDUM CALLED FOR AMENDMENTS TO CONSTITUTION IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev announced on 3 January that a national referendum would be held on 10 February on changes to the constitution, according to Interfax. Akayev has already made his intention to hold such a referendum after his victory in the 24 December presidential election. The Kyrgyz president complained that there is "a vacuum of power and responsibility" and is seeking a constitutional basis for the separation of powers. The amendments have not been announced yet, but observers speculate Akayev will use them to gain more power over the formation of government and a greater say in foreign and domestic affairs. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTANI DEFENSE MINISTER ON MILITARY REFORM.
In an interview with Voin Kazakhstana (#86), Kazakhstani Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Alibek Kasymov outlined the present plan to reorganize Kazakhstan's armed forces. After several years of chaos and insufficient organization, the country's military has been able to solve its problems, partially as a result of recent agreements within the CIS and the NATO Partnership for Peace program. In addition, the Defense Minister added, the establishment of a viable infrastructure that includes social services for the military personnel, has been a critical factor in this evolution. "The ultimate aim of the military reform is to create compact and mobile armed forces, capable of carrying out the tasks of defending Kazakhstan's national interest," Kasymov said. -- Roger Kangas

TURKMENISTAN TO ENCOURAGE MORE FOREIGN INVESTMENT.
The government of Turkmenistan hopes that 1996 will be a lucrative year for foreign investors in the country, Interfax reported on 3 January. The Khalq Maslakhty (People's Council) recently passed an investment program which estimates foreign investment at $335.1 million, including $308.3 million in credits. Most of the support will be directed toward agriculture ($149.4 million), as well as transport and communication ($80 million). Specific projects to be completed with the funds include the Bezmeinskaya hydroelectric power-station. -- Roger Kangas



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 2, No. 3, 4 January 1996

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF CENSORSHIP.
Ukrainian journalists have accused the government of censorship following its decision to take the current affairs program "Pislyamova" off the air on 31 January, Reuters reported on 3 January. "Pislyamova" last week ran a feature on dissension among the president's advisers. Oleksandr Tkachenko, president of the company that produces the program, said an hour before the New Year's Eve broadcast was to be shown, he was "advised" not to run the program in accordance with "orders from above." The Ukrainian Media Club has demanded an investigation into the alleged censorship. Spokesmen for the president and prime minister denied that they had anything to do with taking the program off the air. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH TRADE UNIONS.
Belarusian Radio on 3 January reported that the Cabinet of Ministers and the Federation of Trade Unions have reached an agreement on social protection in 1996. The document was signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, head of the Scientific-Industrial Association Mikhail Laurynovich, head of the Union of Employers Uladzimir Karahin, leader of the Union of Employers and Landlords Maks Kunyausky, and head of the Federation of Trade Unions Uladzimir Hancharyk. The agreement raises the minimum wage and also the lowest tax bracket. At the end of 1995, unions were threatening mass protest actions over unpaid wages and delays in pay hikes. However, the agreement was not signed by the Independent Trade Unions of Belarus, which organized transport workers strikes last August, bringing traffic in Minsk to a halt. -- Ustina Markus

NEW ESTONIAN COMMANDER OF DEFENSE FORCES.
Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told a news conference on 2 January that the cabinet unanimously supports President Lennart Meri's choice of Lt. Col. Johannes Kert, commander of the Defense League, as commander-in-chief of the defense forces, ETA reported. The candidacy of acting commander Col. Vello Loemaa was not discussed. The parliament still has to approve his nomination. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIA'S BUDGET FOR 1996.
Finance Minister Aivars Kreituss said that the 1996 draft budget will be presented to the Saeima in early February, BNS reported on 3 January. The minister predicted that the budget will probably total some 975 million lati ($1.8 billion), an increase of some 200 million lati over the 1994 budget. He said there are no provisions in the budget to compensate depositors in bankrupt banks, noting that a suggested payment of 200 lati to each depositor would cost 26 million lati. The budget cannot be balanced, and the deficit is likely to be 61-87 million lati. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PREMIER SAYS HE HAS NOT RESIGNED.
Contrary to reports by both Lithuanian TV and Diena, Adolfas Slezevicius has not announced his resignation as premier and chairman of the Democratic Labor Party (LDDP), Radio Lithuania reported on 3 January. The reports came in the wake of Slezevicius's withdrawal of personal deposits from the Joint-Stock Innovative Bank two days before the government halted the bank's activities. He said rumors that the litas would be devalued due to the banking crisis are unfounded, since the republic's hard-currency reserves exceed currency in circulation. The LDDP Presidium has issued a statement calling the withdrawal a "moral and political mistake" and supporting Slezevicius's decision to redeposit his money in the bank as soon as possible. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PREMIER ADMITS RUSSIAN CONTACTS BUT CONTINUES TO REJECT SPY ALLEGATIONS.
Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy has confirmed that Vladimir Alganov, a former KGB representative in Poland, was his neighbor and "good acquaintance." But Oleksy denied once again that he had been a spy, Polish dailies reported on 4 January. The previous day, Polish Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Konieczny and his predecessor, Andrzej Milczanowski, admitted that documents sent by Milczanowski to the Prosecutor's Office to offer evidence against Oleksy were incomplete. Konieczny added that it had been premature to send the documents to the prosecutor. Oleksy and Milczanowski testified on 3 January before a special Sejm commission investigating the case. -- Jakub Karpinski

APPOINTMENTS TO POLISH PRESIDENT'S OFFICE.
Gazeta Wyborcza on 4 January reported that President Aleksander Kwasniewski has appointed Marek Siwiec and Jerzy Milewski as state secretaries. The former will be a political adviser to the president, while the latter will also head the National Security Office. He also appointed seven undersecretaries of state, including Zbigniew Siemiatkowski (internal affairs) and Krzysztof Janik (local government affairs). Two officials who worked for former President Lech Walesa's office--Szymon Kociszewski (administration) and Andrzej Gliniecki (legal affairs)--will be retained by Kwasniewski. Barbara Labuda, former Freedom Union deputy, will be responsible for social issues. Andrzej Majkowski has been chosen to head the Foreign Affairs Office, and Wojciech Lamentowicz (formerly of the Labor Union) will be Kwasniewski's adviser on foreign affairs. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER'S PLAN REJECTED AGAIN.
Czech economic ministers on 2 January rejected a new concept for the Czech military presented by Defense Minister Vilem Holan, Radio Prague reported the following day. It was the second concept the minister has proposed. His previous plan was turned down last November because Holan did not provide cost figures. He wants to cut 15,000 men, leaving 50,000 in the armed forces. The report said that Holan this time had said how much the plan would cost, but it was apparently rejected because "some parts of the new document were descriptive rather than analytical." -- Doug Clarke

OPINION POLL INDICATES REFERENDUM TO DISMISS SLOVAK PRESIDENT WOULD FAIL.
An opinion poll conducted by the FOCUS agency in December showed that President Michal Kovac would survive a referendum to remove him from office, Narodna obroda reported on 4 January. A total of 26.1% of respondents said they would vote for Kovac's dismissal, while 46.3% said they would oppose it; 21.8% said they would not participate and 5.8% were undecided. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has several times called for a referendum to dismiss the president. Kovac's dismissal was supported mostly by followers of Meciar's party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia; 71% of that party's supporters said they would be in favor of dismissing him. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON ASKS CABINET TO HAVE HIM EXTRADITED.
Michal Kovac Jr. on 3 January appealed to the Slovak government to have him returned to Slovakia, Praca reported. Kovac Jr. has been in Austria since August, when he was abducted and subsequently arrested on fraud charges involving the Slovak firm Technopol. Austrian authorities are still deciding whether to return him to Slovakia or to turn him over to Germany, where an international warrant for his arrest was issued in November 1994. Shortly after his son's abduction, President Michal Kovac asked the government to have Kovac Jr. returned to Slovakia, but the cabinet refused, saying it could do so only if charges were brought against him in Slovakia. Kovac Jr. argued that because such charges were filed on 27 December, there is no longer any reason to keep him in Austria. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY'S IMMIGRATION OFFICE OPPOSES ASYLUM FOR MORE REFUGEES.
The Office of Refugees and Migration Affairs on 3 January advised the government not to accept any more asylum seekers from the Balkans, Hungarian media reported. Bela Jungbert, head of the office, said that "since there is no war, the status does not make sense any longer." But he added that those seeking political refugee status would not be affected. Jungbert noted that as of 1 January 1996, Austria and Germany stopped accepting asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia. Between 1991 and 1995, some 75,000 refugees sought temporary asylum in Hungary; 8,500 are currently still in Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 2, No. 3, 4 January 1996
U.S. CALLS ON MILOSEVIC TO RELEASE MUSLIMS.
"We're calling for the release of the 16 people who are now being held by the Bosnian Serbs. We're making this known privately to the Bosnian Serb military commanders and we're now making it known privately to [Serbian] President [Slobodan] Milosevic in Belgrade," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Burns said on 3 January. News agencies added that the U.S. embassy in Belgrade would deliver the message to the Serbian leader. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns noted that freedom of movement is crucial to the civilian population and that Washington is "calling upon the Serb leadership in Pale to release these people [and] conform to the Dayton accords." -- Patrick Moore

END TO MUSLIM CRISIS IN SIGHT?
The crisis over the Muslims held by Bosnian Serbs has developed into a Serbian test of NATO's will. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the matter was "a harsh blow . . . [but] we are prepared to tackle highs and lows." Bosnian government minister Hasan Muratovic told Reuters on 4 January that he is satisfied that NATO is taking things seriously after he received a letter from IFOR's commander, Admiral Leighton Smith. Nasa Borba noted that Bosnian officials were using terms like "pure terrorism" to refer to the incident. On 4 January, three of the detainees were released and Belgrade's Radio Politika reported from Pale that all 16 would be freed. The BBC said, however, that the Bosnian Serbs wanted to treat the Muslims as prisoners of war and exchange them for Serbs later. -- Patrick Moore

PERRY ON NATO IN BOSNIA.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, speaking in Sarajevo on 4 January, said the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia will not act as a "police force." He was responding to Bosnian government complaints that NATO is not doing enough to protect Muslim civilians. Perry said that while NATO has the responsibility to ensure freedom of movement, he felt that the issue of the Muslims held by Bosnian Serbs would be better handled by the international UN civilian police force, which is expected to arrive in Bosnia later this month. He added that in the meantime, NATO "will do what it can to assist." -- Michael Mihalka

ITALIAN SOLDIER WOUNDED IN SERBIAN SUBURB.
News agencies reported on 4 January that an Italian man was involved in what might be the first deliberate attack on NATO troops. The incident took place before 5:00 a.m. in Vogosca. Meanwhile in Mostar, the UNHCR suspended its convoys after local Croatian officials tried to impose a tax of 50 kuna ($10) per truck. The Herzegovinian Croats have been notorious for such activities in the past, and the incident serves to recall that de facto check-points continue to exist, including in Sarajevo. During the night of 3-4 January, Muslims in Mostar attacked Croatian vehicles, but Hina said nobody was injured. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman arrived in Sarajevo on 4 January for brief talks with Bosnian leaders. Finally, Nasa Borba reported that telephone links have been restored between Sarajevo and Belgrade after a break of over three years. -- Patrick Moore

MONTENEGRIN POLITICIAN ON "REAL WAR HEROES."
Nasa Borba on 4 January reported that Srdjan Darmanovic, vice president of the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, has come out strongly in favor of legislation granting an amnesty to all those who fled the former Yugoslavia to avoid serving in the Balkan conflicts. "We believe that the youth who fled in the wake of mobilization [campaigns] are the real war heroes . . . and not those who actually participated in this filthy war. . . . These were the people who were right not to want to fight in a senseless conflict," Darmanovic said. He added that any objectors wishing to return should be encouraged to do so. -- Stan Markotich

OSCE TALKS ON ARMS CONTROL BEGIN.
OSCE talks on arms control and confidence-building measures got under way in Vienna on 4 January, international agencies reported. The negotiations fulfill requirements laid down in the Dayton peace accords. Hungary's Istvan Gyarmati is chairing the talks on confidence-building measures, which are scheduled to finish on 26 January. Vigleik Eide from Norway is presiding over the talks on arms control, to be completed no later than 6 June. At a news conference in Vienna on 3 January, Gyarmati said the first aim of the confidence-building talks is to exchange military data and set up military liaisons between the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-Croatian federation. He added that this task would prove "politically and psychologically difficult." -- Michael Mihalka

ROMANIA REJECTS DNIESTER REFERENDUM.
Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sorin Ducaru on 3 January rejected a referendum supporting the creation of an independent state in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported. According to Ducaru, the "pseudo-elections" and the 24 December referendum were staged by "illegitimate authorities" and contravened the Moldovan constitution. The spokesman added that Romania backed Moldova's territorial integrity and would continue to participate in the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu

SECURITATE FILE ON ROMANIAN SECRET SERVICE HEAD PUBLISHED IN NEWSPAPER.
Evenimentul zilei on 4 January continued to publish excerpts from the Securitate file on Virgil Magureanu, head of the Romanian Intelligence Service. The file, which was put at the daily's disposal by Magureanu, shows that he was recruited as a Securitate "resident" in the Banat region in 1963 and put in charge of supervising local informers. One year later, he was dismissed for "inefficient work." Adevarul warned that Magureanu was about to "open a Pandora's box" in a country where ordinary citizens are still denied access to their Securitate files. Meanwhile, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party, announced he would publish Magureanu's complete file, which, he said, showed that Magureanu continued to work for the Securitate after 1964. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PRESIDENTIAL ACCUSATIONS.
The Moldovan parliament has rejected recent accusations by President Mircea Snegur that the parliament and its chairman, Petru Lucinschi, have attempted to block talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol aimed at restoring Moldova's territorial integrity, BASA-press reported on 2 January. The parliament noted in a statement that it is not true that Lucinschi failed "to react adequately to the unconstitutional [24 December] elections in Transdniestria." In late December, Snegur described as "irresponsible" Lucinschi's appeal to the Dniester population to support "conciliatory forces" in the region. Local media argue that both Snegur and Lucinschi are trying to make political capital out of the Dniester crisis in anticipation of the December 1996 presidential elections. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN SOCIALIST QUARRELS CONTINUE . . .
Political differences within the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) have become increasingly apparent, with Bulgarian newspapers on 4 January publishing statements by BSP leaders criticizing Zhan Videnov's government. BSP Deputy Chairman Georgi Parvanov, in an interview with 24 chasa, called on Videnov to reshuffle his cabinet and replace some of his advisers, but he declined to name anyone. Standart reported that the reformist Alliance for Social Democracy (OSD) within the BSP has demanded the resignation of Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba because of the ongoing grain shortage. The daily quotes OSD member Chavdar Kyuranov as saying "there are objective preconditions for corruption because of the concentration of economic power around the prime minister." -- Stefan Krause

.
. . WHILE OPPOSITION WANTS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) caucus leader Yordan Sokolov has said his faction will introduce a no confidence motion on 5 January because of the government's failure to deal with the grain crisis. Demokratsiya quoted Sokolov as saying the SDS motion will ask for a no confidence vote in the cabinet as a whole, not just in Prime Minister Zhan Videnov or in individual ministers. The motion will be discussed in the parliament on 12 January, and the vote will most likely take place on 17 January, 24 chasa reported. The daily also said that the no confidence vote will be supported by all opposition parties. Meanwhile, Zemya, citing unnamed sources, reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Kiril Tsochev will hand in his resignation on 17 January. Tsochev opposes the government's decision to extend the export ban for grain until the end of 1996. -- Stefan Krause

COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION IN ALBANIA.
A delegation of members of the Council of Europe's Legal Affairs and Human Rights Commission and Political Commission arrived in Albania on 3 January. Gazeta Shqiptare reported. They met with representatives of political parties and the speaker of the parliament. They are expected to hold talks with the mass media, the prosecutor-general, and members of the Lawyers' Association. A meeting with President Sali Berisha is also scheduled. Meanwhile, Reuters reported on 4 January that Berisha will visit China from 16-19 January following an invitation by Chinese President Jiang Zemin. -- Fabian Schmidt

REPLACEMENT OF GREEK PREMIER IMMINENT.
Leaders of the governing Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) have publicly called for Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's replacement, Reuters and AFP reported. PASOK Secretary-General Kostas Skandalidis on 3 January said the party will start the procedure to replace Papandreou, who has been in hospital for seven weeks. Skandalidis said a PASOK Central Committee meeting scheduled for 20 January will find a solution to the "political problem caused by [Papandreou's] illness." The decision was taken at an eight-hour meeting of PASOK's Executive Bureau, the party's highest political body. Following the meeting, leading PASOK members declared an "acute political crisis." Meanwhile, the latest medical bulletin on 3 January said a "kidney biopsy showed extensive damage." -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




XS
SM
MD
LG