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Newsline - January 10, 1996


CHECHENS RELEASE HOSTAGES, LEAVE KIZLYAR.
After all-night negotiations with prominent Dagestani officials, a group of Chechen militants occupying a hospital in the town of Kizlyar withdrew their demands and released the majority of their estimated 3,000 hostages on 10 January, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The group of several hundred militants, under the command of Salman Raduev, left for Chechnya with 160 people, including Dagestani government officials who volunteered to take the place of the hostages. Earlier, Raduev had extended his original demand, saying Russian forces should withdraw from the entire North Caucasus, not just from Chechnya and Dagestan. He also requested that Russian leaders hold a face-to-face meeting with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, who is related to him by marriage, according to ITAR-TASS. The pro-Moscow Chechen government issued a statement on 9 January condemning the hostage taking and expressing sympathy with the residents of Kizlyar, Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN POLITICIANS BLAME GOVERNMENT FOR KIZLYAR.
Several Russian politicians attributed the hostage crisis in the Kizlyar to the failed policy of the Russian government in Chechnya, NTV reported on 10 January. Duma deputy and human rights activist Sergei Kovalev said that Kizlyar is the "logical result of government policy in Chechnya," including the recent "farcical" elections for Chechen leader. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii urged President Yeltsin to end the conflict by negotiating the full withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. A political commentary on Ekho Moskvy blamed the Kizlyar events on the government's "ostrich-like tactics of neither war, nor peace" in Chechnya. -- Constantine Dmitriev

PRIMAKOV APPOINTED FOREIGN MINISTER.
President Boris Yeltsin appointed the current director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Yevgenii Primakov, as Foreign Minister on 9 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Primakov, 66, is a Middle Eastern expert. He has served as director of the Soviet and then Russian foreign intelligence services since September 1991, when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev appointed him to the position. Before 1991, Primakov served as a foreign policy adviser to Gorbachev, often serving as an advance man in the preparation of summit meetings with Western leaders. He is notorious for his role in Gorbachev's February 1991 efforts to mediate the Persian Gulf crisis, in which Primakov tried to make use of his long-standing acquaintance with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. From 1985-1989, Primakov was director of the Institute for World Economy and International Relations and one of the architects of Gorbachev's "new thinking." -- Scott Parrish

REACTION TO PRIMAKOV APPOINTMENT.
Primakov's appointment met with approval in Moscow but evoked a guarded response from Western capitals, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 January. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said he expected to have a good relationship with Primakov, noting there is no "reason for me to prejudge the situation." But anonymous officials in Washington expressed surprise and concern at the appointment, Reuters reported. Primakov is regarded as much less sympathetic to Western interests than his predecessor because of his current position as head of foreign intelligence and his close ties with Middle Eastern leaders, acquired during his years as a journalist and academic studying the region. Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee, welcomed Primakov's appointment, saying "he understands what Russia's real priorities are." Independent foreign policy analyst Andrei Kortunov described Primakov as "pragmatic" but said "he is not a liberal in the Kozyrev sense." -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER.
President Yeltsin appointed a new deputy prime minister on 9 January, bringing the number of Viktor Chernomyrdin's deputies back to eight following the resignation on 5 January of Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. The new appointee, the little known Vladimir Kinelev, is chairman of the State Committee for Higher Education. According to ITAR-TASS, Kinelev was born in 1945 and is a graduate of the prestigious Bauman Higher Technical School in Moscow. He obtained his first senior state post in 1990, becoming first deputy chairman of the RSFSR State Committee for Science and Higher Schools. From 1992 until the Science Ministry was reorganized in April 1993, he served as first deputy minister of science and technical policy. He then obtained the new post of Higher Education State Committee chairman. -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN: CABINET CHANGES NOT CONNECTED TO ELECTION RESULTS.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said recent cabinet changes are only designed "to make the government work better" and "have no relation to the elections to the State Duma," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Since the elections, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev have resigned their posts to serve in the Duma. Neither were members of the prime minister's bloc, Our Home Is Russia (NDR), which won only about 10% of the vote on party lists. No one has yet been appointed to succeed Sergei Belyaev as State Property Committee chairman; Belyaev quit the government to lead the NDR Duma faction. -- Laura Belin

GROUP PROPOSING ZYUGANOV FOR PRESIDENT FORMED.
An initiative group nominating Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov for president was formed in Moscow, Russian media reported on 9 January. Valentin Chikin and Aleksandr Prokhanov, the head editors of Sovetskaya Rossiya and Zavtra, joined the group; Chikin called Zyuganov "an absolutely irreproachable person morally, a bold strategist and a skillful tactician." Prokhanov has in the past called for all communist and nationalist forces to unite their efforts against the current regime. Russian TV reported that a plenum of the KPRF will soon nominate Zyuganov officially. -- Laura Belin

ANPILOV NOT SURE YET ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL BID.
Contrary to earlier reports that Viktor Anpilov, leader of the orthodox communist Workers' Russia, will seek the Russian presidency in June 1996, a representative of the movement told Interfax on 8 January that Anpilov is still negotiating with other left-wing parties to nominate a single candidate. She said if other communists ignore his appeals, Workers' Russia will formally nominate Anpilov for president at a congress on 18-19 January. Anpilov's group campaigned for the Duma in the bloc Communists-Workers' Russia-For the Soviet Union after Zyuganov rejected his bid for an electoral alliance with the KPRF. -- Laura Belin

MAVRODI SEEKS PRESIDENCY.
Two more initiative groups nominating candidates for the presidential election were registered on 9 January, Russian media reported. The first will collect signatures for Sergei Mavrodi, the head of the notorious MMM investment fund who was stripped of his immunity from prosecution as a Duma deputy in October 1995 and failed to win reelection to the parliament in the December elections. The second supports businessman Leonid Kazakov, who was born in 1953 and is an economics adviser to a Saratov fund. Most of the initiative groups registering with the Central Electoral Commission are unlikely to obtain the million signatures necessary for their candidates to run in the election. -- Penny Morvant

RYZHKOV TRYING TO FORM DUMA FACTION.
Former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov has recruited 27 deputies to join a Duma faction under his leadership, to be called Popular Power, Russian media reported on 9 January. Ryzhkov's Power to the People bloc won nine Duma seats in single-member districts; he needs 35 deputies in order to form a registered faction. According to Power to the People co-leader Sergei Baburin, the group has been joined by filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin, formerly of the now-defunct Democratic Party of Russia, and Svyatoslav Fedorov, leader of the Party of Workers' Self-Management. The five deputies elected from the Congress of Russian Communities will also join, Radio Rossii reported. The group's leaders said their main goal will be to change the government's economic policy. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN VETOES AMENDMENTS TO MILITARY LAW.
President Boris Yeltsin again vetoed amendments to the law on military service passed by the outgoing Duma on 22 December, Ekho Moskvy reported on 9 January (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). Yeltsin said the amendments, which would have retained the 18-month service term for draftees called up before 1 May 1995, would damage Russian national security. Sergei Yushenkov, chairman of the Defense Committee in the old Duma, said the decision may damage Yeltsin's prospects in the June 1996 presidential election and said he hopes the incoming Duma will override the veto. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA SAYS FISHING DISPUTE IS RED HERRING.
A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Fisheries denied on 9 January Russian media reports that Norway had placed strict limits on the amount of herring Russian trawlers can catch in Norwegian territorial waters, ITAR-TASS reported. The spokesman praised the current level of cooperation between Russia and Norway on fishing issues and said that no "herring war" was in sight, noting that Russo-Norwegian talks on fishing cooperation would open on 23 January in Moscow. Meanwhile, on the same day, the ministry announced that in 1995, Russian fishermen had caught 4.2 million tons of fish, a 18.6% increase over the 1994 catch. -- Scott Parrish

MOONIES REPORTEDLY RECRUITING IN URALS SCHOOLS.
The Unification Church of Reverend Sun Myung Moon is seeking new followers in the Urals area and school teachers have been introducing pupils to the sect, according to a report on NTV on 7 January. The program alleged that a textbook used in optional courses at 80 schools in the city of Yekaterinburg was based on Moon's teachings. The local authorities have now banned the courses. One local teacher interviewed by NTV said that rich foreign sects had been offering computers and free courses to the schools. A variety of religious sects have become increasingly active in Russia in recent years. -- Penny Morvant



CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL CREATED BY DECREE IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree establishing a Constitutional Council to replace the Constitutional Court, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 9 January. The council will carry on the court's function of ensuring that country's laws are in harmony with the constitution. While the council is an independent state body, the head of the state has the right to appoint or dismiss its president and up to two of its seven members. In the future, the council will include former heads of state. -- Bruce Pannier

WHAT AKAYEV WILL GAIN BY REFERENDUM.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev released a draft law on 9 January detailing the additional powers he will receive if citizens vote for the law in the 10 February referendum, Reuters reported. The proposed law would give the president the power to appoint the prime minister and the chairman of the central bank, as well as the right to nominate the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission. Also, the president will have greater power to veto legislation and will be more difficult to impeach. The opposition in the Zhogorku Kengesh, the Kyrgyz parliament, criticized the draft as an attempt to turn Kyrgyzstan into a "presidential republic." -- Bruce Pannier

ANOTHER MINISTERIAL REPLACEMENT IN UZBEKISTAN.
President Islam Karimov appointed Marks Jumaniazov to replace Rasulmat Khusanov as the new agriculture minister, Interfax reported on 9 January. This is the latest shake-up in the administration resulting from Karimov's concerns that agricultural reform is not moving quickly enough. Until now, Jumaniazov was the hokim of the Khorezm wilayat, a region that has been comparatively successful under the economic reforms. A special commission headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Jurabekov has been evaluating agricultural efficiency in the regions for the past 18 months. -- Roger Kangas

KAZAKHSTAN FAILS TO HONOR CONTRACT WITH CHELYABINSK.
The Chelyabinsk electro-metallurgical combine, which is responsible for providing much of the income for the entire city, is at a virtual standstill due to "the absence of ore," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Kazakhstan has failed to deliver the chrome used in the production of high-quality steel to the combine despite an agreement signed at the end of 1995. Last year, even in a situation of financial uncertainty, budgetary and extra-budgetary funding provided 20 billion rubles monthly to Kalinin Raion of the city. The cessation of production at the combine means that for the first quarter of this year, the monthly budget will likely amount to about 2 billion rubles, leaving doctors, teachers, and thousands of other workers without pay. -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN OIL NEGOTIATIONS.
Russian oil supplies to the Czech Republic and Slovakia are still suspended pending negotiations between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees through Ukraine, Interfax reported on 9 January. Oil supplies were halted at the beginning of the year after Ukraine announced it was increasing the price for pumping one ton of oil through 100 kilometers of its territory by 10% to $5.20. Ukraine's State Committee for Oil and Gas said that 39 Russian enterprises and joint ventures have concluded agreements with Ukraine to pump 7 million tons of oil through the Druzhba pipeline at the new rate. But under an agreement on fuel and energy signed in October 1994, transit tariffs can be changed only by agreement reached at government level. Ukraine's State Committee for Oil and Gas has sent a letter to its Russian counterpart expressing its willing to negotiate the issue. -- Ustina Markus

CRIMEAN DELEGATION IN KIEV.
A Crimean parliamentary delegation headed by its speaker, Yevhen Suprunyuk, is in Kiev for talks with Ukraine's legislature, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Suprunyuk met with Ukraine's parliamentary speaker, Oleksandr Moroz, to discuss articles in the Crimean constitution that Kiev says contravene the Ukrainian constitution. These include the issues of citizenship, state symbols, and territorial signs. A Ukrainian parliamentary commission has been examining the Crimean constitution since the end of last year. Moroz told the Crimean delegation that if the problematic articles were amended, Ukraine's parliament would confirm the constitution already approved by the Crimean legislature. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA'S POPULATION DECLINE IN 1995.
The State Statistics Department on 9 January released preliminary figures showing that the population of Estonia declined by some 17,000 in 1995 to 1.475 million, ETA reported. The number of births dropped from 14,178 in 1994 to 13,700 in 1995 and the number of deaths from 22,150 to 21,100. The percentage of ethnic Estonians in the republic was 64.2%, with Russians accounting for 28.7%. -- Saulius Girnius

UPDATE ON LITHUANIAN BANK PROBLEMS.
Bank of Lithuania Chairman Kazys Ratkevicius on 9 January told the Seimas that there was no general banking crisis in Lithuania, but only difficulties in the Joint-Stock Innovative (LAIB) and Litimpeks Banks, Radio Lithuania reported. He said recent investigations by independent experts estimated Litimpeks' bad debts at 87-142 million litai ($21.75-35.5 million) and LAIB's at 207-420 million litai. President Algirdas Brazauskas has so far declined to submit Ratkevicius's resignation to the Seimas for confirmation. This suggests he agrees with the IMF that changes in personnel should be made only after the current bank problems are resolved -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT VISITS GERMANY.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, accompanied by Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati, arrived in Germany on 9 January for his first visit abroad as president. He met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn and President Roman Herzog in Berlin. Kwasniewski, who flies to Paris on 10 January, stressed the importance of France and Germany in Poland's aspirations for membership in NATO and the EU, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski

SEJM ON DEPUTIES' DECLARATIONS OF ASSETS
The Sejm's By-Laws and Legislative Commissions have finished drafting the bill on the mandates of deputies and senators. Declarations by deputies and senators of their personal assets will remain a state secret, Rzeczpospolita reported on 10 January. Their spouses' assets are also to be mentioned in the declaration, even if they are separate from their own. Deputies are to submit declarations both at the beginning and at the end of their term in office. Penalties will be enforced for false information. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

FOREIGN MINISTERS TAKE OVER CZECH-GERMAN NEGOTIATIONS.
Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec and his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, have decided to take personal control of negotiations designed to remove blocks in their countries' bilateral relations, Czech dailies reported on 10 January. The negotiations, aimed at producing a joint declaration to be adopted by the Czech and German parliaments, have been conducted for almost one year at the level of deputy foreign minister and are progressing slowly, if at all. The major issue is the consequences of the expulsion of 3 million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II. During a visit to Helsinki on 9 January, Zieleniec said he hoped to meet Kinkel soon; he added that it was important to finalize the proposed declaration or know the reasons why it could not be concluded. Kinkel on 6 January said he hoped a "final reconciliation" with the Czech Republic can be drawn up quickly. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAKS THINK OPPOSITION SHOULD HELP CONTROL SECRET SERVICE.
An opinion poll conducted by the FOCUS agency in December shows that 68.9% of Slovaks believe the opposition should be represented in the parliamentary Separate Control Organ (OKO), which oversees the Slovak Information Service. Only 10.7% said the OKO's current composition is correct, while 22.4% were undecided, Sme reported on 10 January. Even supporters of the three ruling parties do not think the opposition should be excluded from OKO; the majority is either opposed to its exclusion or undecided. The same FOCUS poll showed that only 14.7% of Slovaks trust the SIS, while 49.9% suspect that the agency took part in the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son in August, Narodna obroda reported on 8-9 January. Repeated attempts by the opposition to expand OKO have been rejected by the parliamentary majority. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN POLICE TO SERVE IN BOSNIA.
A senior Interior Ministry official on 9 January said the government has accepted a UN Security Council request to send a 50-member unarmed police contingent to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungarian media reported. At present talks are under way to clarify details, primarily on how the project will be financed. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi told reporters that the Hungarian police team may leave for Bosnia in February or March, primarily to act as advisers and provide security for escort teams. He also confirmed that Russia has officially applied for and received permission to use Hungarian air space to fly its IFOR contingent to Bosnia. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

PLAN TO COMBAT BLACK MARKET EMPLOYMENT IN HUNGARY.
The Interest Coordination Council, which is composed of government, trade union, and employer representatives, have drawn up a plan to create a central registry on labor data to combat black market employment, Magyar Hirlap reported on 10 January. Unions and employers agreed on the need for increased controls on employees and proposed that related legislation be passed later this year. Employers will soon have to keep a so-called employment diary on their employees. Fines of up to 50,000 forints can be imposed on companies that fail to provide the required documents. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



BAZOOKA ATTACK ON SARAJEVO TRAM.
International media on 10 January reported that one person was killed and 19 civilians injured the previous day when a 64 mm antitank rocket hit a tram on the main thoroughfare, known as Snipers' Alley. Part of the projectile also hit a U.S. vehicle nearby. IFOR returned fire on Serb-held Grbavica, and French troops stormed a building there but the attackers had escaped. Tanks and five 90 mm cannons aimed at Grbavica are now in place around the Holiday Inn, near the site of the incident. Tram service has meanwhile resumed. The Serbian general staff in Banja Luka said nobody was injured when IFOR fired on the Serb-held suburb. -- Patrick Moore

ARE SERBS TESTING IFOR?
The Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes, reporting on the 9 January tram attack in Sarajevo, suggested that the Serbs are testing the limits of IFOR's patience. The Bosnian Serb command denied that their side was responsible, and Tanjug claimed that the Bosnian government forces have shelled Serbian positions elsewhere in the republic. Hina quoted Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic as warning IFOR that it stands to find itself in the same hapless role as UNPROFOR if it does not make a quick and strong response to Serbian provocations. He stressed that the indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic were personally responsible for the attack and that they are trying to rekindle the fighting in order to scuttle the Dayton peace agreement. Reuters reported that average Sarajevans were scorning NATO and saying it is no better than UNPROFOR. -- Patrick Moore

SERBS KEEP UP CAMPAIGN OVER SARAJEVO.
Bosnian Serb leaders are continuing their efforts to force a change in the Dayton agreement, which specifies an early return of Serb-held parts of Sarajevo to government control. Nasa Borba on 10 January reported that Karadzic held a meeting with Sarajevo Serbian intellectuals who said that they wanted to remain in the town but under Serbian authority. Pale's parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik wrote to the international community's Carl Bildt to ask for a postponement of the transfer until 15 September. He claimed that his government had so far prevented Serbs from starting "a mass exodus or burning [their] houses." Rumors have been rife for some time that the Serbs plan to torch their suburbs rather than hand them over intact. Reuters reported that the Serbs are preparing to transfer Odzak in northern Bosnia to the government but have stripped it bare and are leaving "a ghost town." -- Patrick Moore

FIREFIGHTS IN MOSTAR.
The situation remains tense in Mostar as well as in Sarajevo. Reuters reported on 10 January that the Croats the previous night fired two rifle-propelled grenades into a Muslim army camp, ending a three-day lull in the fighting. Mutual shelling followed that incident. The situation was quiet but tense on 10 January, and EU officials were pleased that the Croats called off a demonstration slated for that day. The U.S. is particularly worried that the situation in Mostar could thwart its efforts to shore up the Croatian-Muslim state. Slobodna Dalmacija and Vecernji list in recent days have suggested that the Muslims are making life difficult for the Croats in central Bosnia and preventing refugees from returning. Die Welt reported that the military, crime, and smuggling are heavily intertwined on both sides of the divide in Mostar. -- Patrick Moore

NATO TO AID UN IN CROATIA.
NATO will aid the UN force expected to be deployed in eastern Slavonia, The New York Times reported on 10 January. The relationship will resemble the much-criticized one between NATO and the UN in Bosnia before IFOR took over the mandate there. The U.S. had long resisted any role for NATO in Croatia. A former US diplomat, Jacques Klein, who is also a major general in the U.S. Air Force reserve, will head the UN mission in Croatia. The 5,000-strong force reflects a compromise between UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali, who wanted 9,000 troops, and the U.S., which was in favor of a much smaller contingent. -- Michael Mihalka

UPDATE ON IFOR DEPLOYMENT.
Almost 60% of IFOR has arrived in the former Yugoslavia, international agencies reported on 9 January. Of the expected total of 60,000, about 31,000 troops are in place in Bosnia and another 4,000 are in Croatia and Hungary providing logistic support. About 5,000 of the expected 20,000 U.S. troops have arrived. Abut 11,000 of the planned 13,000 British troops and 7,500 of the 10,000 French troops are in position, although many of the these were previously assigned to the UN force. IFOR is tasked to begin patrolling the line separating the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-Croatian federation by 19 January. -- Michael Mihalka

SERBIAN CHURCH LEADER WRITES TO U.S. PRESIDENT.
Nasa Borba on 10 January reported that Patriarch Pavle has written to Bill Clinton to express dissatisfaction over the "redrawing" of the map of Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to Pavle, a large number of monasteries and territories belonging to the Serbs of Herzegovina are to fall under the jurisdiction of the Muslim-Croatian Confederation. "It is entirely unacceptable that after Dayton, in a secretive manner and to the detriment of the Serbs, the Dayton map is changing so as to take away from the Serbian people a significant portion of territory in Herzegovina," he commented. -- Stan Markotich

BBC LAUNCHES MACEDONIAN SERVICE.
The BBC World Service on 9 January launched a news service in Macedonian under the direction of Southeast European specialist Stephen Ashley, Reuters reported the same day. News bulletins, features, and English lessons will be broadcast on state-run Macedonian Radio and on local radio stations. BBC World Service Managing Director Sam Younger said the service has around 2 million potential listeners in Macedonia and neighboring districts in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia. -- Stefan Krause

HEAD OF ROMANIAN SECRET SERVICE ADDRESSES PARLIAMENTARY PANEL.
The joint parliamentary commission supervising the activity of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) on 9 January began hearings on the recent publication of the Securitate file of SRI head Virgil Magureanu, Romanian media reported. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party, reiterated earlier accusations against the SRI chief and asked the parliament to dismiss, or at least temporarily suspend, Magureanu for alleged serious failings. A former SRI deputy director, Gen. Victor Marcu, told the commission that Magureanu's publication of the file infringed legislation stipulating that personal files of the former communist secret police are to remain classified for 40 years. Magureanu described his action as a defensive step aimed at preempting Tudor, who was planning to publish the same file in his weekly Romania mare. -- Dan Ionescu

YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW SPECIAL ENVOY TO MOLDOVA.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has appointed Yurii Karlov as his new special envoy to the negotiations on settling the Dniester conflict, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 9 January. The 59-year-old Karlov is a career diplomat who worked at the Soviet embassy in Bucharest and in the Soviet Foreign Ministry. In a recent interview, Karlov pleaded for "maintaining Moldova's territorial integrity while granting the Dniester region as broad authority as possible." Together with the head of the OSCE Mission in Moldova and an Ukrainian special envoy, Karlov will act as a mediator in the talks between the authorities in Chisinau and Tiraspol. Those talks are currently frozen following an unsuccessful Moldovan-Dniester summit in September. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES NO CONFIDENCE MOTION.
The Bulgarian National Assembly on 9 January discussed a no confidence motion in the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The motion was submitted by the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) because of the ongoing grain crisis, for which it holds the cabinet as a whole responsible. Opposition deputies said the government was "hostage to economic groups" and accused it of irresponsible policies. They argue that the shortage was caused by excessive grain exports. Some Socialist deputies argued that the grain crisis can be solved but concrete measures have to be taken, including possible personnel changes. Trud reported that 18 Socialist deputies have demanded the government's resignation. The parliament is to vote on the motion on 10 January. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN DEPUTY PREMIER DENIES RESIGNATION REPORTS.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev on 9 January denied reports that he had handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Bulgarian media reported. Government Parliamentary Secretary Plamen Valkanov said neither the government nor the BSP caucus is in possession of any documents confirming the rumors. -- Stefan Krause

ANOTHER FIVE ALBANIAN COMMUNIST OFFICIALS TO BE ARRESTED.
Tirana's Municipal court has ordered the arrest of another five former communist officials, bringing the number of those to be arrested for alleged crimes against humanity to 21. The Forum of Albanian Intellectuals has accused a total of 36 people of violating communist-era law. Among those whose arrests were most recently ordered are former communist party Central Committee member Sulejman Bushati and former Deputy Interior Minister Zylyftar Ramizi, ATSH reported on 9 January. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREEK PARLIAMENT DEBATES NO CONFIDENCE MOTION.
The Greek parliament on 8 and 9 January debated a no confidence motion filed by the conservative New Democracy (ND) party, Greek and Western media reported. ND Chairman Miltiadis Evert called the motion an "initiative of institutional responsibility" with the goal of giving "the nation once again...a government." Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos accused Evert of seeking "petty party benefits" instead of helping solve Greece's problems. The small nationalist Political Spring party support the ND, while the Communists say they "refuse to be an accomplice" to the motion. The parliament is expected to vote on the motion on 10 January. -- Stefan Krause

TURKISH ISLAMIST LEADER MANDATED TO FORM GOVERNMENT.
President Suleyman Demirel on 9 January mandated Islamist Welfare Party Chairman Necmettin Erbakan to form a new government, Reuters reported the same day. Following the December 1995 elections, his party's caucus is the largest in the parliament, with 158 seats out of 550. Erbakan says there is a "100% chance" that his party be included in a coalition, but the four secular parties represented in the parliament have ruled out such a possibility. Erbakan is Turkey's first Islamist prime minister-designate. -- Stefan Krause

As of 1200 CET


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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