DEADLOCK IN PERVOMAYSKOE.
continued on 11 January in
Pervomayskoe between the Chechen militants under Salman Raduev and
representatives of the Dagestani leadership, Russian media reported. A request
by the Chechens to negotiate directly with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
was refused, according to Interfax and Russian Public TV (ORT). The Chechens
are now demanding that they be allowed to move on to the village of Novogrozny
in Chechnya, accompanied by foreign journalists, representatives of
international organizations, and State Duma deputies, after which they will
release their hostages. The Chechens seized an additional 100 hostages from
among the population of Pervomayskoe on 11 January and Raduev threatened to
open fire on them if Russian tanks and troops advance to within 100 meters of
the village, according to ITAR-TASS. Speaking to journalists in Paris on 11
January, President Boris Yeltsin said Russian troops will be withdrawn from
Chechnya as soon as a peace agreement is concluded, Radio Rossii reported. --
WHO IS SALMAN RADUEV?
Salman Raduev, the leader of the Chechen fighters
that attacked Kizlyar, is thought to be 27-28 years old and the husband of
either the daughter or niece of separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev.
ITAR-TASS on 9 January reported that Raduev graduated from a construction
school, after which he rose to head the Chechen-Ingush Komsomol organization.
In 1989, he became the leader of a union of volunteer construction brigades in
Gudermes, where Dudaev appointed him prefect in 1992. Russian commentators
regard Raduev, nicknamed the "Lone Wolf," as more violent and irrational than
Shamil Basaev, who led the Budennovsk raid. Last year, Raduev is reported to
have executed a wounded Russian soldier in front of witnesses and in March had
police fire on anti-Dudaev demonstrators in Gudermes. -- Peter Rutland
MEDIA INTERPRETATIONS OF KIZLYAR EVENTS.
The military newspaper
Krasnaya zvezda claimed on 10 January that the hostage-taking at Kizlyar
was the direct result of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's decision to
negotiate an end to the June Budennovsk crisis, rather than using "more
forthright methods," as the military recommended. Izvestiya on 11
January rejected that argument, saying that the massive use of force had failed
to end the Chechen conflict and asserting that it was "the appalling realities
of the massacre in Chechnya" which provoked the "terrible barbarities" of
Budennovsk and Kizlyar. The media discussion mirrors the ongoing debate in
Moscow between those who advocate a military solution to the Chechen conflict
and those who favor negotiations. -- Scott Parrish
NO CONGRESS OF CHECHEN PEOPLE IN VOLGOGRAD.
In reaction to events in
Kizlyar, Volgograd Oblast Governor Ivan Shabunin has protested against holding
a congress of Chechen representatives in Volgograd, ITAR-TASS reported on 11
January. Shabunin said that the congress could increase tensions in the region.
The leaders of Chechen communities that live in other Russian regions outside
Chechnya were scheduled to meet in Volgograd in the second half of January to
discuss "the situation in Chechnya and rights of Chechens in Russia." -- Anna
KRO NOMINATES LEBED FOR PRESIDENT.
Although the Congress of Russia
Communities (KRO) failed to win 5% of the vote in the December elections, the
party shows no signs of disappearing and on 11 January unanimously nominated
Aleksandr Lebed to run for president in June 1996, Russian media reported on 11
January. KRO co-leader Yurii Skokov, who in the past has had presidential
ambitions himself, appeared at the congress to back Lebed. However, KRO's
number three candidate, Sergei Glazev of the now-defunct Democratic Party of
Russia, was absent, ostensibly for health reasons. Declaring his candidacy on
28 December, Lebed asked for an alliance with the Communist Party, but KPRF
leaders are for now remaining loyal to Gennadii Zyuganov. Yesterday, Lebed told
reporters that the KPRF "doesn't want victory in the presidential elections,
they wouldn't know what to do with a victory." -- Laura Belin
"REGIONS OF RUSSIA" DUMA FACTION FORMED.
At least 41 Duma deputies have
agreed to form a "centrist" faction called Regions of Russia to represent the
interests of the regions in parliament, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported on 11 January. The faction was organized by Vladimir Medvedev, who
chaired the New Regional Policy faction in the last Duma, and Artur
Chilingarov, one of five deputy speakers in the last Duma. Regions of Russia
will have several co-chairmen, and its members will include former Deputy Prime
Minister Sergei Shakhrai, Col. Gen. (ret.) Boris Gromov, and former Federation
Council Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov, in addition to well-known
"democratic" politicians such as corruption investigator Telman Gdlyan, Ella
Pamfilova and Vladimir Lysenko of the bloc Pamfilova-Gurov-V. Lysenko, and
Common Cause leader Irina Khakamada. -- Laura Belin
FIRST MEETING OF OUR HOME IS RUSSIA DUMA FACTION.
The pro-government Our
Home Is Russia (NDR) Duma faction held an organizational meeting on 11 January,
Russian media reported. It has 58 deputies, indicating that only three
independents have joined. NDR Duma leader Sergei Belyaev said Yabloko was his
party's closest ally in parliament and described the new Duma as "balanced"
enough not to allow the passage of laws that would threaten reform, Russian TV
reported. Belyaev also said Ivan Rybkin would be a good choice for Duma
speaker. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Lev Rokhlin, who was third on the NDR party list,
has changed his mind about serving in the Duma. Rokhlin initially turned down
his seat, but he has reconsidered because in his view and in "the opinion of
the Defense Ministry leadership," someone should represent the army in
parliament, ORT reported. -- Laura Belin
ANATOMY OF THE RUSSIAN ELITE.
Sociologist Olga Kryshtanovska presented
the results of a survey of the new Russian elite in Izvestiya on 10
January. According to her calculations, 75% of the new political elite and 61%
of the new business elite comes from the old Soviet nomenklatura. The
businessmen mostly came from the Komsomol (38%) and from economic positions in
the old nomenklatura (38%). She stressed the crucial role played by a few
leading banks that were favored by the government in unifying the new elite in
the wake of the collapse of the Communist party-state apparatus. -- Peter
YELTSIN MAY SUSPEND LOCAL ELECTIONS.
President Boris Yeltsin may move to
ban all local elections until after the June presidential vote unless the
Constitutional Court rules on his appeal of the local election law soon,
ITAR-TASS reported on 11 January, quoting Presidential Administration head
Sergei Filatov. Filatov said that the State Duma legislators had exceeded their
authority by setting election dates for the local and regional legislatures. In
August, the Duma passed a law on local self government stipulating that
regional elections be held by March 1996. Yeltsin signed that law, but in
September, he decreed that local governors be elected in December 1996, and
local legislatures in December 1997 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 September
1995). -- Anna Paretskaya
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SIGNS POWER SEPARATION ACCORD WITH SVERDLOVSK,
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and the governors
of Sverdlovsk and Kaliningrad oblasts, Eduard Rossel and Yurii Matochkin,
signed an accord on separation of powers, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January.
Another package of agreements with Kaliningrad Oblast will be signed after
President Yeltsin approves the creation of the free economic zone on the
oblast's territory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 January 1996). Already,
nine Russian Federation ethnic republics have signed such accords; the first
accord with regional subjects was signed last month with Orenburg Oblast. --
YELTSIN MEETS CHIRAC, KOHL.
In Paris to attend memorial services for
former French President Francois Mitterrand, President Yeltsin met his French
counterpart Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 11 January. Yeltsin and Chirac agreed to form a
new joint economic commission, chaired by Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and his French counterpart Alain Juppe, which will hold its first
meeting in Moscow this February. Yeltsin described as "interesting" Chirac's
proposal that any further discussion of NATO expansion be postponed until after
Russia's June presidential elections to avoid "irritating the Russians."
Yeltsin later told Kohl that the results of the 17 December Duma elections
"were not a tragedy," saying he would use his veto powers to keep the Duma in
check. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS DEPART FOR BOSNIA.
The first detachment of the
Russian brigade slated to join the Bosnian peace implementation force (IFOR)
departed for Tuzla on 11 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Eleven
transport planes carrying 150 paratroopers and their equipment flew from an
Ivanovo air base to Tuzla, from where the Russian peacekeepers will move to
their deployment area near the Serb-held town of Brcko in the Posavina
corridor. Colonel Aleksandr Lentsov, commander of the brigade, said all of his
1,600 troops will be fully deployed by the end of January. The Russian brigade
will work together with elements of the U.S. First Armored Division in what
will be the first joint Russo-U.S. operation in a possible combat zone since WW
II. -- Scott Parrish
KINELEV TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SCIENCE, EDUCATION, AND CULTURE.
newest deputy prime minister, Vladimir Kinelev, who was appointed on 10
January, will have responsibility for education, science, and culture.
Interfax, citing an unnamed high-ranking government official, said Kinelev will
continue to chair the State Committee for Higher Education. -- Penny Morvant
VORKUTA MINERS URGE GOVERNMENT TO RETHINK NORTHERN POLICY.
Independent Miners' Union has sent a letter to the president and government
urging them to rethink their financial policy toward the far north or resettle
Vorkuta residents in more hospitable climes, Russian TV reported on 11 January.
The union, which is planning to picket government buildings in Moscow from 24
to 26 January to protest the government's economic policy, said some employees
of the Vorkutugol coal association have not been paid since October. Wage
arrears and the issue of social benefits for miners laid off from unprofitable
pits in the Pechora coal basin have provoked a number of strikes and hunger
strikes in recent months. The Pechora region produced 22 million tons of the
country's total 1995 coal output of about 250 million tons, according to
Interfax on 11 January. -- Penny Morvant
RUSSIA STILL NOT A FREE MARKET ECONOMY.
The Heritage Foundation, a
Washington think-tank, has released its 1995 economic freedom rating. The
ranking is based on 10 criteria, such as the size of the state sector and the
degree of legal protection for private property. The report considers 65 of the
142 countries surveyed to be "free market economies." Russia is ranked at 100th
on the list, on a par with Moldova, Bulgaria, and Nepal. Russia is ranked ahead
of Belarus, Armenia, and Ukraine, but behind Estonia and Latvia. -- Peter
INDUSTRIAL PRICES IN 1995.
Industrial prices rose only 2% in December,
but nearly 200% over the whole of 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 January. They
outpaced consumer prices, which rose only 130% last year. Energy prices rose
170% and electricity 180%--despite the fact that these prices were frozen by
the government for the last three months of the year. The price of washing
machines rose 196%, tractors 288%, refrigerators 164%, paper 200%, televisions
83%, and aluminum 98%. Buyers prefer imports over Russian manufactures not just
because of the poor quality and design of the latter but also because their
prices are rising closer to world levels. -- Peter Rutland
HEAD OF KAZAKHSTANI STATE SECURITY GIVES INTERVIEW.
The most serious
domestic problems facing Kazakhstan are forged banking documents, economic and
technological espionage, illegal exporting, and money laundering, according to
an interview with Kazakhstani State Security Committee Chairman Jenisbek
Jumanbekov published in the 30-31 December edition of Kazakhstanskaya
pravda. Jumanbekov said that in 1995 his service confiscated $6 billion
worth in false bank guarantees and registered 406 incidents in which people
attempted to illegally export raw materials and products from the country. He
said his committee is working to prevent spies from acquiring information on
nuclear and aerospace technology. He also claimed that some countries are
trying to launder money through Kazakhstan, noting a group from the Nigerian
government who allegedly wanted to transfer $30-40 million into Kazakhstani
bank accounts. -- Bruce Pannier
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT PLANS RENT, UTILITY HIKES.
The Ukrainian government
is planning to cut subsidies for rents and utilities so as to cover only 60% of
the costs from 1 January and 80% as of 1 July, Ukrainian agencies reported on
10 January. Leaders of the Ukrainian Federation of Trade Unions have harshly
criticized the planned hikes. Oleksander Stoyan said they would further
impoverish the population. He said average monthly utility bills for a two-room
flat would amount to 10 million karbovantsi (around $55); the average monthly
wage in Ukraine is only 8 million karbovantsi. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
CHORNOBYL HAS BEST SAFETY RECORD FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR.
Ukrainian Environment Ministry has said Chornobyl had the best safety record of
Ukraine's five nuclear power plants for the second year in a row, UNIAN
reported on 10 January. Ministry officials said the station, site of the
world's worst nuclear accident in 1986, had the fewest malfunctions (four in
1995, down from 15 in 1994). The Zaporizhzhia atomic energy station had the
worst record, with 61 accidents in 1995, up from 36 the previous year. The
total number of incidents was down in 1995, compared with 1994. Two accidents,
including one at Chornobyl, resulted in radiation leaks. -- Chrystyna
UKRAINE WANTS COMPENSATION FOR TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov told journalists that his ministry will ask
Russian and Ukrainian leaders to examine the issue of compensation for tactical
weapons removed from Ukraine in 1992, Ukrainian Radio reported on 10 January.
Shmarov said at his 5 January meeting with Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev, that agreement had been reached that the issue would be examined.
Ukraine received no compensation for the warheads, and the parliament has been
agitating since for some form of payment. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN DEPUTY ACCUSES MOSCOW OVER URANIUM.
Deputy Piotr Krauchanka
has accused Russia of trying to appropriate uranium extracted from strategic
missiles withdrawn from Belarus, Ekho Moskvy reported on 11 January.
According to Krauchanka, Moscow is concealing data on the unranium in missiles
withdrawn from Belarus and is taking the uranium extracted from them.
Krauchanka said Belarus could claim $1.5 billion for the uranium. -- Ustina
ESTONIA FERRY TO BE ENCAPSULED IN CEMENT.
The Swedish Maritime
Authority on 11 January awarded a 296 million kronor ($45 million) contract to
an international consortium led by the Swedish building firm NCC to cover the
wreck of the ferry Estonia with a cement shell, Western agencies
reported. At least 852 people died when the ferry sank off the coast of Finland
in September 1994. Requests by the relatives of the victims to recover the
bodies have been rejected. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIAN PREMIER ON COMPENSATION PAYMENTS.
Adolfas Slezevicius told
Reuters on 11 January that all depositors of the Joint-Stock Innovative and
Litimpeks Banks will be compensated but that those with deposits of 5,000 litai
or ($1,250) or less will be the first to get their money back. About 35 million
litai will be needed to satisfy these depositors, who make up about 75% of the
banks' total depositors. The government plans to draw up regulations on
returning the deposits by 1 February. Meanwhile, four of the 12 World Bank and
IMF experts who are to help prepare a plan for restructuring the banks arrived
in Vilnius that day and will remain until 26 January, BNS reported. -- Saulius
POLISH SEJM PASSES 1996 BUDGET.
The Polish Sejm on 11 January passed the
1996 budget, which foresees a 17% increasein expenditures. The government
deficit is expected to reach 2.8% of GDP and the inflation rate is forecast at
17%. The GDP is to expected to grow by 5.5% (compared with 6.5% last year). Tax
rates of up to 45% are still in force for those with high incomes. The
government in 1995 set the same inflation target but ended up with 22%, Polish
dailies reported on 12 January. -- Jakub Karpinski
ANOTHER CZECH BANK IN DIFFICULTIES.
The Banking Council of the Czech
National Bank met in special session on 11 January after news that Ekoagrobanka
(EAGB) was in serious difficulties had caused panic among its clients. Long
lines formed outside EAGB's 79 branches across the country following media
reports that the central bank might put EAGB into forced administration; but
almost all the branches remained closed on 11 January. EAGB is among the 10
largest banks in the Czech Republic, with assets of around 19 billion koruny
($700 million) and some 150,000 clients, mainly individuals and small
businesses. It has long had problems with insufficient reserves to cover bad
debts and losses from securities trading. It is the fifth Czech bank to face
serious financial problems, but CNB officials said EAGB is unlikely to follow
the example of banks that have lost their banking licenses. -- Steve Kettle
ROMANI ORGANIZATION SAYS CZECH CITIZENSHIP LAW BLOCKS ROMANI PARTIES.
The Romani Citizens Initiative (ROI) has said it will not run in the 1996
Czech parliamentary elections because there is no chance of passing the 5%
hurdle. ROI representative Desider Balog told CTK on 11 January that the 1993
citizenship law prevents many Roma from registering to vote and that rather
than wasting state election funds on a losing candidate, ROI would consider a
coalition with one of the mainstream democratic parties or a party that would
put a Romani candidate on their list. But he noted that no coalition would be
formed with the "communists or Republicans," which, he said, would be
"nonsense." -- Alaina Lemon
SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES POLICY AIMS.
Juraj Schenk, briefing
journalists on Slovak foreign policy on 11 January, stressed that the
"catastrophic scenario of Slovakia's international isolation" has not
materialized. He said that membership in the EU and NATO remains a top
priority, as well as good relations with neighboring countries, and that "we
have no doubt that the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be ratified." Schenk
refuted recent rumors that Slovak firms will assist in the construction of
Russian-made nuclear reactors in Iraq, saying such a move is not in line with
Slovakia's foreign policy goals. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK SUPPORT FOR NATO, EU MEMBERSHIP GROWS.
A FOCUS poll taken in
December shows support for entry into NATO is increasing among Slovaks. A total
of 42.5% of respondents said they favor NATO membership, up from 38.6% in June.
At the same, opposition was 21.9%, compared with 19.2% in June, Sme
reported on 12 January. The same FOCUS poll showed that 59.4% of respondents
support Slovakia's entry into the EU, up from 58.8% in June, while 12.7% are
against, up from 8% in June, TASR reported on 10 January. Despite the
anti-Western rhetoric of the two junior coalition partners--the Association of
Workers of Slovakia and the Slovak National Party--support for EU membership
among the parties' voters was 47.6% and 48.8%, respectively. -- Sharon Fisher
OSCE OFFICIAL IN BUDAPEST.
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
Max van der Stoel arrived in Budapest on 11 January and held brief meetings
with Hungarian Foreign Ministry Commissioner Andras Gyenge. The two officials
discussed the situation of ethnic minorities in Hungary, Council of Europe
measures on minority rights, the Slovak language law, and the Hungarian-Slovak
basic treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
CALLS FOR ACTION ON BOSNIAN MASS GRAVE SITE.
International media on 12
January report strong reactions to an account in The New York Times that
the Serbs have disposed of 8,000 Muslims and Croats in a huge abandoned mine in
Ljubija in northwest Bosnia. The Sarajevo branch of the International Committee
of the Red Cross says the charges are "very serious" and that it will launch an
investigation. A British army spokesman doubted published reports that British
IFOR officers have refused to deal with the matter. A U.S. NATO spokesman told
Reuters simply that "we are checking [the story] out." The VOA's Croatian
Service stated that the U.S. will demand that war crimes investigators have
access to the site, which is tightly guarded by the Bosnian Serbs. The BBC
quoted Bosnian government officials as saying that some 32,000 people were
killed in or expelled from the area by the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore
ARE SERBS PREPARING SOMETHING IN SARAJEVO?
Nasa Borba on 12
January reported that Radovan Karadzic led a Bosnian Serb delegation to
Belgrade and that parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik warned that the Serbs
might resume fighting. The BBC reported on 12 January that Serbs in the
Sarajevo suburbs slated to return to government control are moving out valuable
property and exhuming coffins of their dead. Some abandoned military posts and
buildings have been torched, but most people are staying put to see what
happens. AFP the previous day said that the Serbs are still holding five
captives, including a Serb serving in the Bosnian government army. Reuters
noted that the first advance parties of the new UN police force have begun to
arrive but that their role would not involve ensuring freedom of movement. A
spokesman said they would simply "be monitoring, reporting, training and
advising." -- Patrick Moore
CROATIA OFFERS POLICE FOR MOSTAR.
Defense Minister Gojko Susak said in
Mostar on 11 January that his country would provide police "if necessary" to
restore calm and order to the tense divided city. Susak is himself the most
prominent Herzegovinian Croat; and he and President Franjo Tudjman, who offered
the deployment, seem sensitive to demands from Croatia's allies that the
federation of the Croats and Muslims start to function effectively. Susak did
not specify how many police would be sent, but he did note they would be under
international command, Hina reported. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER'S "HISTORIC" VISIT TO BELGRADE.
Mate Granic on
10 January visited Belgrade--the first such visit by a Croatian foreign
minister since the outbreak of hostilities in 1991. He met with Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic and Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic to discuss
the normalization of relations. Politika on 11 January quoted
Milutinovic as saying the rump Yugoslavia was committed to honoring the Dayton
accords. Two days earlier, however, AFP reported that Belgrade has proposed "a
three-way land swap" whereby land near the Croatian city of Dubrovnik would be
ceded in return for Croatia's giving up control over the strategic Prevlaka
peninsula. Hina on 11 January reported that Croatia has asked for the extended
presence of UN monitors on the disputed peninsula while differences with
Belgrade are resolved. -- Stan Markotich
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
Javier Solana, speaking in
Zagreb on 11 January, said he had received a pledge from Croatian President
Franco Tudjaman to help calm the situation in Mostar, international agencies
reported. Solana called the Muslim-Croatian federation the "key element of the
peace process." After meeting with UN special envoy to former Yugoslavia Kofi
Annan, he stressed the "good cooperation" so far between NATO and and that the
NATO-led IFOR would complete its mission "on time." Before his departure from
Brussels, Solana said NATO was prepared to use force to ensure that the mission
succeeded. Meanwhile, General Sir Michael Walker, NATO ground commander in
Bosnia, said after a meeting with Mostar's EU administration that NATO was not
"a force for law and order" and should concentrate on implementing the military
provisions of the Dayton peace accords.-- Michael Mihalka
SERBIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY FALLING APART?
Radio Serbia on 9 January
reported that the opposition Democratic Party appears to be coming apart at the
seams. Membership is dwindling, and five members of major party committees as
well as four members of local party organizations have recently resigned from
the party. Some of those who resigned said they did so to protest the fact that
the party has abandoned its democratic principles and to register disapproval
of the top leadership's failure to support the peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
They also wanted to protest the 2 December expulsion of former party President
Dragoljub Micunovic. -- Stan Markotich
TUDJMAN REFUSES TO CONFIRM ZAGREB MAYOR.
The Croatian president on 11
January for a second time formally blocked Goran Granic of the opposition
coalition from taking over as mayor. The opposition-dominated city council is
in turn likely to oppose any appointee of Tudjman's, thereby forcing new
elections. Slobodna Dalmacija on 12 January carried a joint declaration
by Granic and council head Zdravko Tomac condemning Tudjman's veto.
Globus on 5 January ran a poll that suggested an opposition landslide in
any new vote. Tudjman has said he will not let "enemies of state policy" run
the capital, but the opposition feels that he is concerned not only with power
but with revelations that a new government could make about "financial
irregularities" of its predecessor. -- Patrick Moore
ROMANIAN MOCK COURT CALLS FOR CEAUSESCU RETRIAL.
A self-styled court
convened by an independent newspaper has called for a posthumous retrial of
Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, saying his 1989 conviction and execution
were illegal, Romanian and international media reported. "The current regime
took its legitimacy from this show trial," a spokesman told Reuters. Journalist
Razvan Saviliuc said the purpose of the court was to save the honor of the
justice system and of Romanians. The organizers of the mock court have accused
President Ion Iliescu of using the revolt to stage a coup. Iliescu himself
admitted that "it would have been good to have caught Ceausescu and his wife
and to have held a trial under normal conditions, but the tension in Bucharest
[at that time] rose and there was the danger of a general civil war." -- Matyas
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS HEAD OF SECRET SERVICE.
Ion Iliescu on 11
January told journalists that Virgil Magureanu, head of the Romanian
Intelligence Service, had acted "correctly" by publishing his own
Securitate file, Radio Bucharest reported the following day. Iliescu
expressed the hope that the recent press scandal over the publication would not
overshadow the achievement of Magureanu, whom he presented as a victim of
repression under the former regime. Meanwhile, Romanian media continued to
report extensively on the joint parliamentary commission's hearings devoted to
the "Magureanu case." -- Dan Ionescu
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ON DNIESTER ELECTIONS, REFERENDUM.
Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on 11 January that the 24
December elections and referendum in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region are "a
domestic problem" of the Republic of Moldova, BASA-press reported on 11
January. The statement stressed that the region was "a component part of
Moldova..., a sovereign and independent country." It further suggested that the
Dniester referendum on joining the Commonwealth of Independent States was
superfluous, since the region had "sufficient possibilities to participate in
the CIS activities" as part of Moldova, which already is a CIS member. Russia's
has often been criticized for applying double standards in its policy toward
Moldova, with the Presidency and the Foreign Ministry issuing statements
different from those of the State Duma. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Trade Kiril Tsochev on 11 January announced his resignation, Reuters reported
the same day. In an interview with state-run TV, Tsochev said that "there was
an atmosphere of constant checks, suspicions, duplication of actions"
throughout the Socialist government. He hinted that his resignation is linked
to the ongoing grain shortage but stressed he bears no direct responsibility.
Duma reported that the cabinet is likely to discuss the resignation in
an extraordinary meeting on 15 January. Meanwhile, Bulgarian papers speculate
that Tsochev is Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's first scapegoat in attempts to
silence critics within the Socialist party after the recent no confidence
motion. -- Stefan Krause
ATTACK AGAINST OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER IN ALBANIA.
reporting on the attack last weekend on the journalist Gjergj Zefi, said that
three unknown people surrounded Zefi in Shkoder and beat him up. Zefi, who is
also one of the leaders of the Aleanca Demokratike party, is
still receiving hospital treatment for head injuries. Aleanca suspects
that the culprits have close links with smuggling gangs who want to intimidate
the local government opposition. It notes that the attack is only one in a
series of incidents since March 1994, including attempted murders, aimed at
frightening off investigative journalists and the opposition. Meanwhile, the
prosecutor's office in Lezha has wound up investigations into the bombing of
Koha Jone Chief Editor Nikolle Lesi on 1 November (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 3 and 8 November 1995). No conclusions were reached, Koha Jone
reported on 12 January. -- Fabian Schmidt
GREECE WELCOMES LIFTING ALBANIAN VISA REQUIREMENTS.
The Greek Foreign
Ministry on 11 January has welcomed the Albanian decision to lift visa
requirements for Greek citizens (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 January
1995). A Foreign Ministry statement cited by Reuters said this move "ends
discriminatory treatment and [facilitates] contacts and especially economic
cooperation between the two countries." Greeks were the only EU citizens to
require a visa after Tirana imposed the requirement in September 1994 during a
crisis in Greek-Albanian relations. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave