Accessibility links

Newsline - January 15, 1996


RUSSIAN FORCES LAUNCH ATTACK ON PERVOMAISKOE.
On the morning of 15 January at 9 a.m. (Moscow time) Russian forces assaulted the village of Pervomaiskoe, where 150-200 Chechen rebels were holding 70-150 hostages. After a two-hour barrage by artillery and helicopter gunships, Russian infantry fought their way into the village. Moscow refused to grant Salman Raduev's group safe passage back to Chechnya unless they were willing to first give up their hostages and weapons. The Chechens were given a deadline of 10 a.m. on 14 January (Moscow time), but that passed without incident. On the afternoon of 14 January, talks ceased and the Russians reported some firing from the Chechen side. Unconfirmed ITAR-TASS reports on 15 January claimed that the Chechens had killed two hostages that evening. -- Peter Rutland

WHY NEGOTIATIONS FAILED.
The crisis began with the Chechen seizure of the hospital in Kizlyar on 9 January. Dagestani officials negotiated the release of most of the 3,000 hostages. In return, Raduev was given a convoy of buses and allowed to return to Chechnya with 150 hostages (including nine Dagestani ministers, who were later released). However, Russian troops blocked the convoy at Pervomaiskoe, and Dagestani officials did not have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the Russian forces. All they could do was convey Moscow's ultimatum to the Chechens. Raduev was only willing to continue to Chechnya with a human shield of reporters, aid workers, and "honest" Russian politicians. The only sign of flexibility was the release of 8 hostages on Friday evening. General Mikhail Barsukov, head of the Federal Security Service, and Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov arrived in Dagestan on the morning of 14 January, and they had the authority to launch the attack. -- Peter Rutland

DAGESTANI ATTITUDES SHIFT.
Dagestanis, who had previously been sympathetic to the Chechen cause, reacted with hostility to the initial Kizlyar attack. Meetings in various cities called for the expulsion of the more than 100,000 Chechen refugees living in the republic, and even for revenge attacks on relatives of the attackers. However, Dagestanis opposed Russia's plan to use force in Pervomaiskoe. On 13 January, a crowd of 1,500 marched to the village and offered to form a "human corridor" to the nearby Chechen border. Dagestani President Magomedali Magomedov appealed to President Yeltsin not to use force in a telephone conversation on Sunday, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. With the 15 January attack, Yeltsin seems to have lost the political advantage in the North Caucasus that Raduev's banditry had presented him. -- Peter Rutland

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICAL OF RUSSIA ON HUMAN RIGHTS.
Speaking at a 13 January Moscow press conference, members of a Council of Europe fact-finding mission admitted that Russia cannot currently be considered a "rule of law state," ITAR-TASS reported. The mission noted serious violations of human rights in Chechnya and also criticized Russia's criminal justice system, which it said often violated the civil rights of the accused. Nevertheless, Rudolf Bindig, a spokesman for the mission, said it would recommend that Russia be accepted for membership in the council, on the grounds that it had started to reform its legal system, and council membership would encourage more progress. The council's Parliamentary Assembly will consider Russia's membership application on 25 January. -- Scott Parrish

YEGOROV REPLACES FILATOV AS PRESIDENTIAL CHIEF OF STAFF.
President Boris Yeltsin named hard-line former Nationalities Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov as his chief of staff in place of the more liberal Sergei Filatov on 15 January, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin sacrificed Yegorov, Federal Security Service Director Sergei Stepashin, and Internal Affairs Minister Viktor Yerin, in the wake of the Budennovsk crisis. Yegorov was the president's representative in Chechnya from November 1994 to February 1995, during the most intense stage of the fighting. The promotion of someone so closely identified with the unpopular war is a strange choice for Yeltsin as the presidential campaign heats up, but Yegorov is supported by the influential head of the Presidential Security Service, General Aleksandr Korzhakov. Filatov's departure has long been rumored since he is seen as an opponent of Korzhakov's hard-line attitude. -- Robert Orttung

FACTIONS PREPARE FOR DUMA OPENING.
The heads of the four parties that crossed the 5% barrier met in Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's office on 14 January to discuss who will be the Duma's next speaker and committee chairmen but came to no agreements. The main stumbling bloc was Vladimir Zhirinovsky's demand to chair either the Defense or International Affairs committees or to become the first deputy speaker, NTV reported. The Communist Party plenum reportedly demanded that Communists be appointed to the positions of speaker, one deputy speaker, and nine committee chairs . -- Robert Orttung

AGRICULTURE MINISTER SACKED.
President Yeltsin dismissed Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk on 12 January and appointed Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha acting head in his place, Russian media reported. Nazarchuk was second on the party list of the Agrarian Party, which failed to win 5% in the Duma elections. He is the sixth cabinet official to leave the government during the latest reshuffle. On the same day, Yeltsin appointed Nikolai Tsakh to replace Vitalii Yefimov as transportation minister. Tsakh was formerly Yefimov's deputy. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNIST PARTY TO BACK ZYUGANOV FOR PRESIDENT.
A closed 12 January plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) officially postponed a decision on nominating a presidential candidate until a 15 February party conference. However, ITAR-TASS reported that the committee members decided to back party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Also on 12 January, Petr Romanov, who was elected to the Duma on the KPRF party list, told Russian TV that he will seek the presidency representing both "left-centrist" and "patriotic" forces. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN SACKS REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES.
President Yeltsin fired his presidential representatives in Kursk, Smolensk, and Novosibirsk oblasts and in Agino-Buryat Autonomous Okrug on 13 January, Russian media reported the same day. On 9 January, Yeltsin fired his representative in Bryansk. Earlier this month, Yeltsin ordered Sergei Filatov, former chief of staff, to prepare a list all those envoys whose work has been unsatisfactory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 January 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya

PRIMAKOV ON RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY.
Yevgenii Primakov held his first press conference as foreign minister on 12 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Primakov emphasized that Russian foreign policy should reflect the country's status as a great power, although he stressed that Russia will continue building relations of "equal, mutually beneficial partnership" with the West. He also outlined four priority tasks for Russian foreign policy: create external conditions which strengthen Russia's territorial integrity; foster integrative tendencies within the CIS; stabilize regional conflicts, especially in the former USSR and ex-Yugoslavia; and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He told journalists his first trips abroad would be to CIS capitals, and he also met with other ministers on 12 January to coordinate Russian CIS policy. -- Scott Parrish

CONTRACT SIGNED FOR NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL PLANT.
Russia's State Committee for Defense Industry on 11 January signed a contract worth several tens of millions of dollars with a number of Japanese and U.S. companies for the construction of a floating nuclear waste recycling plant in the Far East, Interfax reported. The plant will be able to process 7,000 cubic meters of waste per year and will be put into operation at the end of this year. Nuclear waste in the Northern Fleet will be treated by an existing installation. Its capacity will be increased from 1,000 to 5,000 cubic meters per year, with the U.S. and Norway financing the project. The report predicted that the facilities could enable Russia to solve the problem of liquid nuclear waste from atomic-powered submarines within the next two years. -- Doug Clarke

CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW.
The foreign ministers of the CIS states met on 12 January in Moscow to prepare for next week's summit of the CIS heads of state, Russian and Western agencies reported. Security issues, as opposed to economic relations, dominated the discussion. In particular, the foreign ministers discussed the conflicts in Abkhazia and Tajikistan and attempted to define how those conflicts can be formally addressed within the CIS framework. Overall, the agenda suggests that the CIS may become a more active vehicle through which inter-state disputes are settled. In addition, humanitarian aid laws and a mechanism for resolving border disputes were discussed. At the meeting, Vladimir Zemskii, the current Russian ambassador to Georgia, was chosen to replace Gennadii Shabannikov as secretary-general of the CIS Collective Security Council. -- Roger Kangas

1995 HARVEST WORST SINCE 1963.
The dismissal of Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk came after the release of the final figures for last year's harvest. The grain harvest was 63.5 million metric tons in 1995, 22% down from the 81 million tons gathered in 1994, Interfax reported on 11 January. Fodder crops also dropped, by 36%. The poor harvest was partly due to a severe drought. However, a lack of cash meant that farms were unable to buy adequate supplies of fuel and fertilizer, and this is presumably the reason for Nazarchuk's dismissal. A second factor is that the Federal Procurement Fund, which supplies the army and major cities, has only purchased 10% of the 8.6 million tons of grain it needs, again because of a lack of funds, according to ITAR-TASS on 10 January. Russia will probably import 3 million tons of grain this spring. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January that NATO ration packs are on sale in a Chelyabinsk market, source unknown. -- Peter Rutland

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN RUSSIA TOPS $6 BILLION.
By 1 November 1995, Russia had received more than $6 billion in foreign investment. In the first nine months of 1995 the inflow of foreign capital was $1.57 billion (a 112% increase compared to the same period in 1994), Finansovye izvestiya reported on 12 January. The largest flows in 1995 went into trade and catering ($232 million), financial services ($206 million), fuel and energy ($162 million), and chemicals ($127 million). Fuel, energy, and chemicals, which in 1994 absorbed about half of all foreign investment, attracted less than 20% in 1995. -- Natalia Gurushina



UN EXTENDS MANDATE IN ABKHAZIA.
Late on 12 January, the UN Security Council approved a six-month extension of its mission in Abkhazia, the province which broke away from Georgia in 1993, Western agencies reported. A total of 136 UN observers and 3,000 Russian peacekeepers are monitoring the Georgian-Abkhaz border. Russia initially supported the separatists but is now pressuring Abkhazia to allow some 250,000 Georgian refugees to return to their homes. Russia has been maintaining a partial blockade of the Abkhaz port, Sukhumi, since October. -- Peter Rutland

RE-REGISTRATION OF AZERBAIJANI MEDIA.
The Azerbaijani media has been obliged to re-register with the republic's Ministry of Press and Information by 30 January or face being banned, Turan reported on 11 January. On the same day, Azerbaijani Radio noted that re-registration is necessary as "the various media and publishers [in the country] are rampantly exploiting freedom of the press and information," adding that slander, among other things, has become common. Turan noted that the Azerbaijani media has been obliged to re-register twice before. The republic's media already faces strict military and political censorship. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEK-TAJIK ACCORD ON GAS SHIPMENTS.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Tajik Prime Minister Jamshed Karimov worked out a payment schedule for shipments of Uzbek gas to Tajikistan during meetings in Tashkent on 10 January, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Tajikistan will repay the $200 million debt by the year 2003 and, with IMF assistance, will start interest payments in 1997. According to Russian Public TV (ORT), Uzbekistan had cut off fuel supplies to Tajikistan on 8 January. Meanwhile, the presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan met in Kokchetav, Kazakhstan, on 12 January to discuss regional integration, the role of a Central Asian peacekeeping force, and plans to maintain a unified front at the CIS summit on 19 January, Narodnoe slovo reported on 13 January. -- Roger Kangas

LEADER OF ERKIN KYRGYZSTAN IN JAIL.
The head of Erkin Kyrgyzstan, Topchubek Turgunaliyev, is in jail and according to his wife is on hunger strike, Stolitsa reported on 11 January. Turgunaliyev was arrested several days before the 24 December presidential election in Kyrgyzstan on charges of inflaming ethnic hatred between Kyrgyz and Kazakhs. At that time Turgunaliyev was the campaign head of Medetkan Sherimkulov, one of two candidates who ran against Askar Akayev for president. -- Bruce Pannier



TROUBLE IN UKRAINE'S COAL MINES.
Management evacuated a coal mine in the Donbas after receiving a bomb threat from a caller demanding that the Ukrainian government pay wage arrears owed to thousands of miners since October, Ukrainian TV and Interfax-Ukraine reported on 11 January. Bomb disposal units found no explosives in the pit, but the threat highlights the predicament of the country's coal miners, who have held numerous strikes and rallies to pressure the government to pay 38 trillion karbovantsi ($21 million) in back wages. Currently, workers at seven mines are on strike. Meanwhile, the government raised wages for government employees, members of the armed forces, and Interior Ministry personnel by 12%, Ukrainian TV reported the same day. It also hiked pensions by 190% and monthly aid to low income disabled people to 887,000 karbovantsi. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ATTACKS PARLIAMENTARY OPPONENTS.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, in a four-hour address to a closed parliamentary session on 12 January, attacked several deputies who oppose his policies, including former Interior Minister Yurii Zakharenka, former parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb, and head of the Constitutional Court Valerii Tikhinya. Russian Television reported. Almost two-thirds of the report was devoted to criticizing former head of the National Bank of Belarus Stanislau Bahdankevich. Almost all caucuses in the parliament interpreted the report as a move to prevent Bahdankevich from being elected deputy speaker of the parliament. In other news, Interfax on 11 January quoted newly appointed parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetski as saying the parliament will use two languages: Russian for discussing economic issues, the budget, and taxes; and Belarusian for discussing cultural issues. -- Ustina Markus

FINLAND SETS UP COMMISSION FOR VISA TALKS WITH ESTONIA.
Finnish President Martti Artisaari on 12 January ordered the establishment of a commission to holding talks with Estonia on visa free travel between the two countries, ETA reported. The commission will be composed of officials from the Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Finnish Embassy in Tallinn. Estonia has complied with Finnish requests to sign treaties on returning illegal immigrants and closer cooperation between law enforcement agencies. Finland would also like to be able to electronically check passports of Estonians entering the country. The talks are expected to be concluded this year, but it is unclear when travel without visas would begin. -- Saulius Girnius

CAMPAIGN GETS UNDER WAY TO COLLECT SIGNATURES FOR ALTERNATIVE LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW.
The drive to collect 131,000 signatures--or one-tenth of the republic's eligible voters--in support of an alternative citizenship law proposed by the For the Fatherland and Freedom union will be held from 15 January to 13 February, BNS reported on 12 January. Election Committee Chairman Atis Kramins said 625 signing places will be opened. If the required number is gathered, the bill will be submitted to the president and parliament. The alternative law provides for a larger number of restrictions on naturalization and would in effect deny citizenship to people who arrived in Latvia after 1940. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER IN LITHUANIA.
Josef Zych, during his two-day official visit to Vilnius, on 12 January met with his Lithuanian counterpart, Ceslovas Jursenas, and other deputies, Radio Lithuania reported. His visit was timed so that he could address the special Seimas session commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Soviet attack on the crowd at the Vilnius television tower. At that time, Lithuania's foreign minister traveled to Poland with the authority to form a government in exile if necessary. Zych and President Algirdas Brazauskas, following their meeting the next day, decided that the two countries will jointly honor the memory of Poles murdered by Lithuanians in Glitiskes and Lithuanians murdered by Poles in Dubingiai during World War II. -- Saulius Girnius

RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN POLAND.
Sergei Krylov, visiting Warsaw on 12 January, handed Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski an invitation from his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, to visit Moscow. The visit will most likely take place in April, Polish media reported on 13 January. Yeltsin was apparently the first foreign leader to invite Kwasniewski for a state visit, but the Polish leader opted to travel first to Germany and France, stressing the importance of Poland's Western ties. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTERS FAIL TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS.
Josef Zieleniec and Klaus Kinkel met in Bonn on 12 January but failed to agree on a joint declaration designed to improve Czech-German relations, Czech and international media reported. Talks on the proposed declaration are stalled over the issue of claims by Sudeten Germans whose families were expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 January 1996). "The burdens of the past are so great that today no breakthrough could be achieved," Kinkel told reporters. Zieleniec said talks will continue, and he was optimistic that agreement will be reached. Deputy Chairwoman of the Bundestag Antje Vollmer called on Chancellor Helmut Kohl to intervene personally to break the deadlock before the Czech Republic holds parliamentary elections at the end of May, Czech dailies reported on 15 January. -- Steve Kettle

BRATISLAVA BRANCH OF SLOVAK COALITION PARTY TO BE CLOSED.
Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) Chairman Jan Luptak, following a ZRS Central Council meeting on 13 January, told Slovak Radio that the ZRS's Bratislava branch will be closed. Several members of the branch authored an article, published in December in Praca, criticizing Luptak for yielding to the influence of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. According to Luptak, "all the workers had left [the branch] and only intellectuals remained." A ZRS deputy chairman was asked to participate in forming new "clubs" in Bratislava that could come under the ZRS's control. Luptak said the party also discussed the government's proposal for a new territorial arrangement. Although he expressed reservations about the cabinet's plan, Luptak noted that, as a coalition partner, the ZRS will support the cabinet's proposal, Narodna obroda reported on 15 January. -- Sharon Fisher

U.S. PRESIDENT PAYS WHIRLWIND VISIT TO HUNGARY.
Bill Clinton expressed his thanks to the people, government, and military of Hungary during a brief visit to Hungary's Taszar air base on 13 January, Hungarian media reported the next day. Clinton also met with President Arpad Goncz, Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, and Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti. He told Hungarian leaders that NATO's enlargement is inevitable and that Russia cannot have a veto on the matter. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

CEFTA FINANCE MINISTERS MEET IN BUDAPEST.
Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) finance ministers, meeting in Budapest on 13 January, discussed the pitfalls of economic liberalization, Hungarian media reported. The meeting was called primarily to allow CEFTA finance ministers to coordinate their stands on economic integration into Western Europe. It was agreed that although economic liberalization is realizable, strict monetary policies must be upheld. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



CLINTON VISITS BOSNIA, CROATIA.
U.S. President Bill Clinton paid a whirlwind visit to Tuzla on 13 January to speak to American IFOR troops. He told them they were sent there to help the Bosnians build peace, which was in keeping with key U.S. interests. He later said to CBS that IFOR should help UN war crimes investigators reach mass grave sites, provided it does not interfere with the soldiers' primary job. Clinton used his trip to Zagreb to reiterate to President Franjo Tudjman Washington's support for the troubled federation linking the Croats and the Muslims, which is a cornerstone of the Dayton agreement. He had earlier made the same point in Tuzla when speaking to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic. News agencies added that Clinton phoned Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and that the two men expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the treaty. -- Patrick Moore

SERBS WITHDRAW ARMOR, BUT GOVERNMENT UNHAPPY.
AFP reported on 14 January that Bosnian Serb forces are pulling big guns and armor out of Sarajevo suburbs slated to pass to government control. The Bosnian government, however, argued that the materiel had been in the heavy weapons exclusion zone and should have been destroyed. An IFOR spokesman admitted that the British had even supplied the Serbs with fuel. It also seems clear that the Serbs are not removing thousands of land mines as the Dayton agreement obliges them to do and that this task will probably fall to the French. The Serbs have been trying in a variety of ways to test how far they can violate or bend provisions of the treaty. Elsewhere, IFOR troops defused tensions on 13 January between Croatian and government forces near Doboj. -- Patrick Moore

SARAJEVO SERBS REJECT MILOSEVIC'S PLEA.
Milosevic on 12 January appealed to Serbs in the Sarajevo suburbs to stay put, but one of them told AFP that Milosevic's plea "was the best reason to leave." Many Serbs from Bosnia and Croatia are bitter at the Belgrade leader, whom they feel sold them out. Some have already transferred their most valuable property to Serb-held areas. Persistent but unconfirmed reports from Sarajevo suggest that tough police units have been moved in from Bijeljina and elsewhere to intimidate those Serbs taking a wait-and-see attitude. People are reportedly being pressured into joining a mass exodus that would wind up in Brcko to consolidate the Serbian hold on the disputed supply corridor there. -- Patrick Moore

THREE MORE PRISONERS FREED.
As moves proceed toward a major exchange this week of prisoners between the Bosnian government and Serb sides, the Serbs freed three civilians on 14 January. Two civilians remain in their custody in a continuing violation of the guarantee of freedom of movement set down in the Dayton agreement. Reuters said that the two Serbs and one Muslim were freed after pressure from international representatives, including the UN civil affairs chief Antonio Pedauye. One of the two Serbs chose to remain on Bosnian Serb territory. Pedauye had been speaking to Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik about the incident on 9 January in which a Serb bazooka hit a tram. Oslobodjenje said two days later that the Bosnian Serb leadership must not be allowed to evade responsibility for the act by blaming it on rogue units. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE TO LIFT EMBARGO AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS?
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and a Bosnian Serb delegation met in Belgrade on 11 January to discuss lifting Belgrade sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs and to begin the process of re-establishing bilateral economic ties, Nasa Borba reported on 15 January. The report notes that it is unclear when the Drina border will be re-opened but suggests it may take place in the near future. In the past, the Bosnian Serbs have demanded political, economic, and cultural ties with Belgrade that mirror Croatia's relations with the Muslim-Croatian federation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Stan Markotich

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY INCREASES PRESSURE ON MOSTAR.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel on 14 January was promised by his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, that Croatia will try to restrain Croatian extremists. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey also attended the meeting in Mostar, Western and local media reported. Granic said after the meeting that "overall relations between Bosnians and Croats are good, and there are difficulties only in the field." Meanwhile, Mijo Brajkovic, mayor of the Croatian sector of Mostar said he will continue to resist efforts to unify the city, which, under the terms of the Dayton accords, must take place by 20 January. Brajkovic said Croats want to remain in "ethnically pure" neighborhoods. -- Michael Mihalka

KOSOVAR SHADOW-STATE PRESIDENT ASKS FOR HOLBROOKE'S MEDIATION.
Ibrahim Rugova said he expects and wishes U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke to mediate in solving the Kosovo problem, international agencies reported. Rugova also welcomed the planned opening of a Kosovar shadow-state office in Washington by the end of January. Holbrooke has asked Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for permission to open a U.S mission in the Kosovar capital, Pristina. -- Fabian Schmidt

UNPREDEP MISSION IN MACEDONIA TO BECOME INDEPENDENT.
As of 1 February, the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) mission in Macedonia will be independent of the UN command in the other parts of former Yugoslavia and will report directly to the UN headquarters in New York, MIC reported on 12 January. The decision was announced by UN special envoy Kofi Annan before he ended a two-day visit to Macedonia. Annan emphasized that the UNPREDEP mission was a success for the UN. He said that UNPREDEP's mandate has been extended for another six months and will most likely be extended after that. -- Fabian Schmidt

NEW EVIDENCE ON CEAUSESCU'S MISSING FORTUNE.
Valentin Gabrielescu, head of a parliamentary inquiry into the December 1989 uprising against Nicolae Ceausescu, was quoted by the Romanian media on 12 January as saying that there is new evidence supporting old allegations that the dictator frittered away more than $1 billion. According to Gabrielescu, former Premier Theodor Stolojan, who is currently working at the World Bank, has provided evidence that the money was held at the Romanian Bank for Foreign Trade in two accounts used in the past mainly by Dunarea, a company controlled by the former Securitate. During the Ceausescu era, Stolojan, who could not be reached for comment, headed a government department in charge of hard currency transactions. -- Dan Ionescu

DNIESTER REGION IMPOSES STATE OF "ECONOMIC EMERGENCY."
Igor Smirnov, president of the self-styled Dniester republic, on 12 January issued a decree declaring a state of "economic emergency" in the region for six months, Infotag reported. But the measures are primarily administrative and may be intended as an excuse for political repression. Smirnov's decree provides for stricter control over public order; a special regime for entry and exit from the region; traffic restrictions and more checks on local roads; immediate expulsion of foreigners who disturb public order; strict control over copy machines and radio transmitters; and censorship of the media. The administration is also empowered to suspend the activities of political parties and public organizations that "hinder the normalization" of public life. -- Dan Ionescu

ANOTHER MOLDOVAN JOURNALIST BEATEN UP.
A reporter for Mesagerul, the mouthpiece of the opposition Party of Democratic Forces, has been beaten up by four unidentified men in a Chisinau street, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 12 January. Ilie Lupan is the third Mesagerul journalist to fall victim to such an attack over the past two weeks (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 January 1996). The assailants took only his brief case, which contained a file. Lupan said the police were slow to react to his call and, in a protest addressed to the authorities, has accused the Ministry of Security of involvement in the attack. -- Dan Ionescu

ANOTHER BULGARIAN MINISTER RESIGNS.
Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba on 12 January handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Bulgarian and Western media reported. He is the second member of the Socialist cabinet to resign in two days. Videnov said he will accept the resignation of both Chichibaba and Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Kiril Tsochev, who resigned last week. Both ministers have been blamed for the ongoing grain crisis. Videnov admitted that they "had not received a sufficient amount of trust and assistance from within the governing party." -- Stefan Krause

GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS "FRUITFUL."
Greece and Macedonia on 12 January began a second round of UN-sponsored talks in New York under the mediation of UN negotiator Cyrus Vance, AFP reported the same day. The talks are aimed at finding a permanent solution to the disputed issue over the name of the former Yugoslav republic. A statement issued on 12 January said the talks were "fruitful" and were conducted in a "cordial atmosphere." No other details were given. In related news, Nova Makedonija on 12 January reported that the head of the Greek liaison office in Skopje handed his credentials to the Macedonian foreign minister. Under the September 1995 interim accord, both sides are to set up liaison offices in each other's capital by the end of January. -- Stefan Krause

GREECE DECLINES TO EXTRADITE SERBIAN MURDER SUSPECT TO BELGIUM.
Greek Justice Minister Jannis Pottakis decided that a Serbian man accused of killing a Kosovo Albanian leader will be extradited to rump Yugoslavia and not to Belgium, AFP reported on 13 January. Darko Asanin is accused of taking part in the murder of Enver Hadri in Brussels in 1990 and of murdering one of his suspected accomplices in Germany a year later. A Greek court ordered Asanin's extradition to Belgium, but Pottakis overruled the decision. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




XS
SM
MD
LG