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Newsline - January 19, 1996


FEDERAL TROOPS TAKE PERVOMAISKOE.
Russian federal forces succeeded in regaining control of Pervomaiskoe by the early evening of 18 January, but Chechen commander Salman Raduev escaped with a group of his men, Russian media reported. The figures cited for the number of hostages released or found dead are considerably lower than the total number taken by Raduev's men from Kizlyar and subsequently seized in Pervomaiskoe. An Interior Ministry spokesman told NTV that 28 Chechen militants were taken prisoner and 153 killed, while 26 Russian soldiers died and 93 were wounded. Federal Security Service head General Mikhail Barsukov told NTV that two "foreign mercenaries" from Syria and Egypt had entered the Russian Federation via Azerbaijan to fight on the Chechen side. AFP quoted Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's spokesman, Movladi Udugov, as saying that Raduev still has several dozen hostages and will release them if the remaining wounded Chechen gunmen still in Pervomaiskoe are allowed to leave. -- Liz Fuller

HIJACKED FERRY BARRED FROM ISTANBUL.
After three days of steaming through stormy seas, the hijacked ferry Eurasia has arrived near the entrance to the Bosporus Straits where Turkish authorities expect it to anchor, Western agencies reported on 19 January. Turkey had earlier barred the ferry from sailing to Istanbul through the crowded straits, and the commander of the pro-Chechen hijackers, Mohammed Tokcan, told Turkish TV that he had agreed not to enter the straits for "safety reasons." The ferry, with about 200 hostages on board, has been sailing in circles about 72 km from Istanbul since 1 a.m. local time, according to AFP. Turkish Interior Minister Teoman Unusan said he expects Tokcan to surrender and release the hostages soon. Reports on 18 January suggested that Tokcan had agreed to release the hostages in Istanbul if he were permitted to give a live television news conference. -- Scott Parrish

PRESS SLAMS GOVERNMENT OVER PERVOMAISKOE.
An 18 January political commentary on Ekho Moskvy derided official accounts of the Pervomaiskoe operation as "fairy tales," pointing out numerous factual inconsistencies in them. Izvestiya on 19 January characterized the government's handling of the crisis as "incompetent," adding that the "smokescreen of feckless lies" purveyed by official spokesmen could not hide the "bungling of the Russian military-police machine." NTV on 18 January also expressed disbelief that after four days of heavy fighting, the government claimed that 153 dead Chechen fighters were found in the village but no dead hostages. The station noted that losses were inevitable in such an operation and wondered what had become of the hostages who remain unaccounted for by official government figures. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA ELECTS FIVE DEPUTY SPEAKERS.
The Duma elected five deputy speakers at once on 18 January by a vote of 359 to 56, with one abstention, ITAR-TASS reported. Aleksandr Shokhin (Our Home Is Russia) became first deputy speaker. The deputy speakers are: Svetlana Goryacheva (Communist Party), Mikhail Gutseriev (Liberal Democratic Party), Artur Chilingarov (Russian Regions), and Sergei Baburin (People's Power). The Yabloko faction refused to nominate a candidate for deputy speaker because it objected to having two Communists in the leadership--as speaker and deputy speaker. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said that a deputy speaker slot would be held open for Yabloko since "they are likely to go back on their decision within a month or so." Yabloko has been criticized lately for working closely with the Communists. The Duma is expected to vote for another deputy speaker who will be responsible for ethnic issues. -- Robert Orttung

IZVESTIYA: SELEZNEV WILL BE PARTY MOUTHPIECE.
Those democrats who think of the newly elected Duma speaker as a potential liberal or someone capable of carrying out an independent policy are "either naive or deliberately deceiving themselves," Izvestiya charged on 19 January. Seleznev's career shows that his life has been devoted to voicing the decision of his superiors in the party, the paper asserts. The "loyal and personally disciplined" Seleznev was able to rise through the Communist Party media with the help of Leningrad Party boss Grigorii Romanov, a strong opponent of reform. When Mikhail Gorbachev started perestroika, Seleznev, then editor of Komsomolskaya pravda, began toeing the new line, giving him the aura of a "liberal." Seleznev announced on 18 January that he would not leave the Communist Party during his term as speaker, violating an informal tradition of nonpartisanship. -- Robert Orttung

INDUSTRIALIST TIPPED TO SUCCEED CHUBAIS.
Vladimir Kadannikov, general director of the Avtovaz car manufacturer, will probably replace the reformist Anatolii Chubais as first deputy prime minister in charge of economic issues, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 January citing an "informed source" in the government apparatus. The 54-year-old Kadannikov, a close ally of President Yeltsin, is regarded as a competent, fairly forward-thinking industrial manager. He trained as an auto mechanic in the 1950s and played a key role in building up the Lada plant in Tolyatti. Presidential economics aide Aleksandr Livshits has been tipped as another possible successor to Chubais, according to Segodnya on 18 January. As the 1996 budget is already fixed and Russia is currently negotiating with internal organizations for another large loan, it is unlikely that Russian economic policy will shift dramatically in the short term. -- Penny Morvant

CHAMBER SENDS ANTI-SEMITIC PAPER TO PROCURATOR GENERAL.
The Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes sent a case involving an Al-Kods article to the procurator general for further action, ITAR-TASS reported. The chamber said that an article entitled "Plan to Free Palestine from Zionism" violated laws against advocating war and inflaming national and social tension. The newspaper is owned by a former citizen of Jordan, Shaaban Khafez Shaaban, who became a Russian citizen after marrying a Russian woman. Russian law prohibits foreigners from establishing media outlets. The chamber does not have the power to enforce its own decisions. -- Robert Orttung

IZVESTIYA COMMENTATOR QUITS PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL OVER PERVOMAISKOE.
Izvestiya's political commentator, Otto Latsis, has asked President Boris Yeltsin to relieve him of his duties on the Presidential Council. In a letter to the president published in Izvestiya on 19 January, Latsis denounced the storming of Pervomaiskoe and the war in Chechnya. Latsis said that he does not want to hold any position that might be perceived as even indirectly supporting Yeltsin's decisions on the war in Chechnya. The Presidential Council, created in February 1993, has no real power beyond advising the president. -- Anna Paretskaya

SAMARA PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY REFUSES TO RESIGN.
On 18 January, Kommersant-Daily reported that the presidential envoy in Samara Oblast, Yurii Borodulin, has refused to resign despite being asked to do so by members of the president's staff. Borodulin said he had been appointed by President Yeltsin and could be fired only by him. The president's representatives are touring the regions fingered by former Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov as having "held elections in an unsatisfactory way" due to the local administration's weak organizational efforts. However, Borodulin claims that the situation in his oblast is the same as elsewhere in Russia. In the 17 December election, the Communist Party finished first in the oblast, with about 20% of the vote. The president had expected Our Home Is Russia to prevail since the oblast's governor, Konstantin Titov, was Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's deputy in the pro-government bloc. -- Anna Paretskaya

SPY SATELLITE SYSTEM ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE.
Russia's military satellites are wearing out and its early warning system could collapse by the end of the century, according to a report in the Defense Ministry newspaper Krasnaya zvezda on 17 January cited by Reuters. Under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, up to four spy satellites were launched each year to monitor U.S. nuclear missile silos and airbases. But following the break-up of the USSR, a lack of money and the loss of production facilities in Ukraine and Armenia meant that the launch program ground to a halt. The paper reported that some of the satellites have been in operation for three times as long as their design lifespan and warned that if new equipment is not forthcoming, Russia "will have to get used to the idea of losing strategic equality with the United States." -- Penny Morvant

ABOUT 40% OF COMPANIES SAID NOT TO PAY TAXES.
An estimated 40% of Russian companies and organizations do not pay any taxes, Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Sergei Aleksashenko said on 18 January. Aleksashenko was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying he believes this situation could soon lead to a serious budgetary crisis. The 1996 federal budget calls on the State Tax Service to provide 246.9 trillion rubles (about $52 billion) in revenue from taxation and other compulsory payments, according to ITAR-TASS on 11 January. According to preliminary results, the tax service raised 146 trillion rubles for the federal budget in 1995. As of 1 December 1995, the total tax debt to the state budget was 33.8 trillion rubles. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIAN CRUDE OIL EXPORTS FELL BY 4.6% IN 1995.
Russia exported 122.3 million metric tons of crude oil in 1995, a 4.6% drop compared with 1994, the State Statistical Committee informed Interfax on 17 January. Exports to the former Soviet Union dropped by 22.2%, while exports to the rest of the world increased by 1.5%. A possible explanation could be that each ton of crude oil exported within the former Soviet Union brings only $73.9, compared with $107.5 elsewhere. Russian exports of oil products fell from 47.3 million metric tons in 1994 to 45.3 million tons in 1995 (a 4.2% decline). Meanwhile, Russia exported 192.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 1995, a 4.3% increase over 1994. -- Natalia Gurushina

INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT DECLINE SLOWS DOWN IN 1995.
According to the State Statistical Committee, Russia's industrial output in 1995 fell by 3% compared with 1994, totaling 989 trillion rubles ($211.19 billion) in current prices, Interfax reported on 16 January. In 1994, industrial production declined 23% over the previous year. The committee reported sustained production growth in steel and iron (a 9% increase), the chemical and petrochemical industry (a 8% increase), non-ferrous metals (a 2% increase), and pulp and wood industries. Production in machine-building, food, and construction materials dropped by 10%, 9%, and 8% respectively compared with1994. Russia's production of electricity fell by 2%, crude oil by 3%, natural gas by 2%, and coal by 3%. -- Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA-DE BEERS DIAMOND CONTRACT EXTENDED TILL MARCH.
After two days of talks in Moscow, the Russian government and the South African multinational diamond company De Beers failed to reach an agreement on a new contract to sell Russia's uncut diamonds despite a statement from De Beers' saying the two sides had made "useful progress," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 January. The current arrangement, under which De Beers buys 95% of Russia's exports of rough diamonds, has been extended for another month, until 1 March 1996 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). Russian producers are getting increasingly dissatisfied with low prices for their rough gems. Last year, they started to sell some uncut diamonds for higher prices directly on markets in Antwerp and Tel Aviv, causing a 7% drop in De Beers' earnings in 1994. The next round of talks will take place in February. -- Natalia Gurushina



RUSSIA, AZERBAIJAN SIGN PIPELINE DEAL.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev signed a package of bilateral agreements, including one on the export of so-called early oil from the Russian port of Novorossiisk, Russian and Western media reported on 18 January. The agreement, under which up to 5 million tons of "early" Caspian oil will be transported to market annually via Russian pipelines, confirmed an October decision of the international consortium managing the so-called "deal of the century." According to Vagit Alekperov, president of the Russian company "LUKoil," which holds a 10% stake in the consortium, the agreement calls for a $60 million renovation of the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline, to be completed later this year. Other agreements included one on economic cooperation through the year 2000 and a protocol on supplying major industrial production in 1996. -- Lowell Bezanis and Scott Parrish



UKRAINIAN NATIONALIST PARTY MEDIATES IN BLACK SEA KIDNAPPING CRISIS.
The Ukrainian extreme nationalist party UNA-UNSO is negotiating with the Chechen military to help secure the release of Ukrainian hostages aboard the Eurasia. UNIAN reported on 18 January. Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko confirmed that the terrorists were willing to allow UNA-UNSO to mediate in negotiations on Ukrainian hostages. UNA-UNSO has been highly supportive of Dzhoker Dudayev in his campaign against Russia. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA.
Following meetings with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kuchma said problems over the division of the Black Sea Fleet have been more or less solved and the fleet will be given the status of Russia's fleet stationed on Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian Radio reported on 17 January. ITAR-TASS the next day reported that Kuchma said he opposes any "revolutionary enlargement of NATO." He also stressed that the recent increase in tariffs on Russian oil transports through Ukrainian pipelines was not a political matter but strictly an economic one. Finally, the president announced that Yeltsin will come to Ukraine in the second half of March to sign the Russian-Ukrainian treaty on friendship and cooperation. -- Ustina Markus

DRAFT UKRAINIAN BUDGET SLASHES SPENDING ON EDUCATION, RESEARCH.
Ukrainian lawmakers are debating provisions in the 1996 draft budget for deep cuts in spending on education, scientific research, health, and social welfare programs, Ukrainian Radio reported 17 January. The current draft slashes expenditures on research from 1.7% to 0.076% of GDP and from 10% to 6.5% of GDP on education. The allocation for the country's school system would not be sufficient to cover teachers' wages and student stipends. The Ukrainian government still owes trillions of karbovantsi in back wages and stipends since autumn. The draft budget also foresees a 4% cut in social spending and would finance only 31% of the basic needs of Ukraine's state-run health care system. The government has said the cuts are necessary in order to lower the budget deficit to 6% of GDP this year. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

IMF WITHHOLDS FOURTH TRANCHE OF STAND-BY LOAN FROM UKRAINE.
The release of the fourth tranche of the IMF's stand-by credit to Ukraine has been delayed until February or March, Ukrainian radio reported on 17 January. The credit should have been released in January, but the IMF and World Bank have said that Ukraine is not making enough progress in its structural economic reforms or in privatization. -- Ustina Markus

CAUCUSES IN NEW BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT.
The largest caucus in the Belarusian parliament is the Accord caucus (59 deputies), Belarusian Radio reported on 17 January. It is followed by the Agrarian caucus (47) and the Communist caucus (44). Two smallest caucuses are the Social-Democrats (15) and the Civic Action caucus (18). Five deputies have not aligned themselves with any group. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC PRESIDENTS IN GERMANY.
Presidents Lennart Meri of Estonia, Guntis Ulmanis of Latvia, and Algirdas Brazauskas of Lithuania on 18 January in Kiel addressed a symposium on the integration of the Baltic Sea region with the rest of Europe, Baltic media reported. They also met with their German counterpart, Roman Herzog, and Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein Heide Simonis. -- Saulius Girnius

VISA FREE TRAVEL TO FINLAND FOR ESTONIANS.
Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen told Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 18 January in Tallinn that visa-free travel between the two countries would begin next year if Estonia fulfilled some technical conditions, ETA reported. Vahi confirmed that Estonia would introduce passports with security codes in March and improve technology for border controls. Lipponen reaffirmed his country's support for the Baltic States' EU membership as a way to increase their security. Vahi noted that there are Finnish investments in 6,000 companies in Estonia and that Estonia did not intend to place any limitations on the free movement of goods this year. -- Saulius Girnius

PRESSURE ON LITHUANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES.
Adolfas Slezevicius told a press conference on 18 January that his adviser Juozas Palionis withdrew money from his account in the Joint-Stock Innovation Bank on 18 December without his written authorization, Radio Lithuania reported. He said he thought that this information was sufficient to stop the filing of criminal charges against him. Slezevicius also refused to comment on efforts to fire Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas. President Algirdas Brazauskas asked Vaitekunas to resign, but the ruling Democratic Labor Party faction wanted him to remain in office. Sixty-five members of the opposition sent an open letter to Brazauskas that day supporting his position on the minister. His future is unclear, since 71 votes in the parliament are needed to oust him, -- Saulius Girnius

UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO BRUSSELS.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, following his visit to NATO headquarters, spoke to the EU commission on 18 January. He said that Poland hopes to open negotiations next year for membership in the EU and to join by the end of the century. "Poland has already met a great majority of the criteria for membership in the union," Kwasniewski said. He also met with Belgian King Albert and Premier Jean-Luc Dehaene, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski

DECISION ON INVESTIGATION INTO OLEKSY AFFAIR TO BE TAKEN NEXT WEEK.
Col. Andrzej Komarnicki, head of Warsaw's military prosecutor's office, on 18 January said the prosecutors will decide next week whether to launch a formal investigation into espionage allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, Polish dailies reported the next day. Oleksy has hinted he may stand down if the prosecutors decided evidence offered by the security service was sound enough to warrant an investigation. President Kwasniewski, following his returning from Brussels on 18 January, said parliamentary elections may be needed to resolve the political crisis over the allegations. He said that only the parliament can decide if elections should be held before 1997. -- Jakub Karpinski

KINKEL ADMITS CZECH-GERMAN TALKS BOGGED DOWN.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on 18 January that talks aimed at Czech-German reconciliation are "disastrously bogged down," Reuters reported. Following the failure of Kinkel and his Czech counterpart, Josef Zieleniec, to draft a joint declaration on bilateral relations, the Czech foreign minister said Germany was raising new demands (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 and 17 January 1996). Kinkel said in another interview he has to represent Sudeten German interests in the negotiations, and he again called on Prague to distance itself "morally" from the so-called Benes decrees, under which ethnic Germans were expelled from postwar Czechoslovakia. Zieleniec declined to comment on Kinkel's latest statements, Czech dailies reported on 19 January. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAKIA WILL NOT ASK AUSTRIA TO EXTRADITE PRESIDENT'S SON.
Slovak Prosecutor General Michal Valo told CTK on 18 January that he will not ask for the extradition of Michal Kovac Jr, who was kidnapped in August, dumped in Vienna, and jailed there on fraud charges. Explaining that extradition can be requested only if a Slovak court issues a warrant, Valo said that "neither the investigator nor the prosecutor sees a reason to imprison Kovac Jr." Valo denied speculation that two investigators were taken off the case because they suspected the Slovak Information Service was involved. In other news, SIS director Ivan Lexa on 18 January filed charges against Sme editor Peter Toth over an interview with former Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner published the previous day. Pittner had answered questions concerning SIS operations and leadership. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRESIDENT ON LANGUAGE LAW.
Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko on 18 January said that if the implementation of the state language law leads to any infringements of minority rights, Michal Kovac will ask the Constitutional Court to decide whether the law is constitutional. The statement was made after a meeting between Kovac and representatives of ethnic Hungarian parties. Discussions focused on the language law, prospects for ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, and a territorial arrangement bill, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher

ROMANI SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN MINORITIES LAW.
Farkas Florian, chairman of the nationwide Romani self-government in Hungary, has sharply criticized the Law on Minorities, CTK and MTI reported on 17 January. Florian said the law does not allow the direct election of minority representatives to the parliament, and he expressed surprise that the Council of Europe has praised the law as a model for all Europe. According to Farkas, CE Deputy Secretary-General Peter Leuprecht has said Roma could be represented in the Council as an ethnic nationality if they formed a legitimate all-European organization. -- Alaina Lemon



HOLBROOKE WARNS "NO MODIFICATIONS" TO DAYTON AGREEMENT.
U. S. envoy Richard Holbrooke returned to the former Yugoslavia on 18 January for separate meetings with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Serbian counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic. The BBC said the next day that Holbrooke's main aim was to urge Izetbegovic to make sure that the prisoner exchange is carried out as scheduled. Oslobodjenje the next day quoted Holbrooke as saying there will be "no modifications" to the Dayton treaty. The Bosnian government has been linking the prisoner exchanges to accounting for the fate of missing persons, which representatives of the international community say is not compatible with the Dayton text. Meanwhile, Carl Bildt told TV Pale on 18 January that Sarajevo's Serbs should stay on. He pointed out that a multiethnic society was possible before the war and that "what was possible in the past should be possible in the future." -- Patrick Moore

MORE MASS GRAVES IN BOSNIA.
Bosnian TV on 18 January reported that new mass graves have been found near Sanski Most and Vozuca. The victims appear to have been Muslims killed by the Serbs since 1992, but the exact number is unclear and there has been no independent confirmation of the reports, AFP noted. Also in Vozuca in central Bosnia, refugees from Srebrenica have staged a protest about their food and living conditions, Oslobodjenje wrote on 19 January. The Sarajevo daily also said that the governing Party of Democratic Action (SDA) has launched preparations for Muslims to vote in this year's elections in areas from which they were "ethnically cleansed." SDA spokesmen said that some 380 Muslim families were ready to return to Srebrenica. -- Patrick Moore

BRITISH TROOPS SEAL OFF MUJAHIDIN.
Following an armed incident with Canadian soldiers on 18 January, 100 British IFOR troops with armored personnel carriers set up an "overwatch" on 100 foreign mujahidin fighters in a school near Bihac. The men should have left Bosnia earlier in the week in keeping with the terms of the Dayton agreement on the evacuation of foreign soldiers. Their departure has been held up because of problems with the Croatian authorities in determining transit arrangements. The muhajidin, one of the more controversial elements in the conflict, have included native Bosnian Muslims in addition to foreigners. Such Bosnians, as well as foreigners who have acquired Bosnian citizenship, have the right to stay but the Bosnian government is responsible for controlling them. IFOR has tried to play down the idea that muhajidin could be a potential problem. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIA LIFTS LIMITS ON RETURN OF SERBIAN REFUGEES.
The Sabor voted on 17 January to change an earlier decision that required Serbs who fled Croatia last year to reclaim their property within a three-month limit. The new measure says that the issue will be regulated by a future agreement between Zagreb and Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported on 19 January. The paper also noted that representatives of the Croats in Vojvodina point out that rump Yugoslavia has yet to clarify the status of its Croatian population. -- Patrick Moore

PROGRESS IN OSCE TALKS ON CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES.
Istvan Gyarmati, the OSCE official chairing talks on confidence-building measures, on 18 January said the Muslim-Croatian federation and the Bosnian Serbs have exchanged lists of weapons and arms sites, Reuters reported. The Bosnian Serbs had failed to provide the list earlier in the week, citing "technical reasons." Meanwhile, Robert Frowick, head of the OSCE mission to Bosnia, said in Vienna on 18 January that registering Bosnian voters is a "staggering problem," international media reported. The task is complicated by the numbers of refugees, estimated at 2 million, and the "hundreds and thousands of displaced people." -- Michael Mihalka

SERBIAN RADICALS ON PROPOSED AMNESTY.
Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Seselj on 18 January said his party will "not run away from discussions" about the issue of granting an amnesty to individuals who evaded serving in the wars throughout former Yugoslavia. But he noted that the SRS will oppose legislation that offers only a "partial" amnesty, noting that any serious proposal should include a pardon for "even those who stole something just to be able to feed their children." Seselj also claimed that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had been pressured by the international community to support an amnesty for draft evaders. -- Stan Markotich

MORE MONTENGRIN AID TO HERZEGOVINIAN SERBS.
Montena-fax on 17 January reported that Montenegro's aid efforts to Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina continued that day with the arrival in Trebinje of some 250 tons of food products. The Montenegrin government launched the aid program earlier this month. Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic was in Nevesinje on 13 January to witness the arrival of a humanitarian aid shipment to the Herzegovinian town. Of the 20,000 people living there, half are Serbian refugees. -- Stan Markotich

NEW DETAILS ABOUT ATTEMPT ON MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT'S LIFE.
The Macedonian Interior Ministry on 18 January revealed new details about the attempt on the life of Kiro Gligorov in October 1995, Nova Makedonija reported. The force of the explosives used in the attack was much greater than initially estimated, and some 4.5-7 kg were used laced with small metal parts. A ministry spokesman said the Citroen Ami used as a car bomb was driven by a woman and was coincidentally photographed by a German tourist the previous day. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER BLASTS OSCE OFFICIAL.
Gheorghe Funar, leader of the Party of Romanian National Unity, on 18 January sharply criticized OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel, who is currently in Romania to discuss concerns about ethnic minorities, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. Funar described Van der Stoel as "a ghost walking freely in Bucharest, scaring the citizens." He called on the Romanian government to declare him persona non grata. The OSCE official has met with President Ion Iliescu, other Romanian officials, and leaders of the country's large Hungarian minority. -- Dan Ionescu

DNIESTER CONSTITUTION PROMULGATED.
Igor Smirnov, president of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, on 17 January signed the region's new constitution, Infotag reported. The constitution, adopted by referendum on 24 December, proclaims the Dniester region a sovereign and independent state. Also on 17 January, the newly elected Supreme Soviet held its inaugural session in Tiraspol. The deputies re-elected Grigorii Marakutsa as parliamentary chairman by a vote of 49 to 14. Marakutsa is regarded as a relatively moderate leader who is prepared to continue the dialogue with the Moldovan authorities. Vasilii Yakovlev--leader of the Bloc of Patriotic Left-Wing Forces, which that opposes any rapprochement with Chisinau--received only six votes. According to BASA-press, Smirnov the same day dismissed Yakovlev as rector of Tiraspol University. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT?
24 chasa on 19 January reports that Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov will most likely be nominated presidential candidate at the SDS National Conference in March. He is likely to run against incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev and an as-yet unnamed candidate from the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The most likely candidates are Parliamentary Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Zhelev is trying to secure support from all opposition forces including the SDS, but many high-ranking SDS members have made it clear that the union will not support him. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN JUDGES TO RECEIVE POLICE PROTECTION.
All Albanian chief justices are to receive police protection following attacks on judges throughout the country, international agencies and the daily Albania reported on 18 January. Some 45 judges will receive bodyguards following a bomb attack on the home of the Kukes district court chief judge on 17 January and an attack earlier this month on the chief of the Tirana district court (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 January 1995). No one was injured in either attack. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN COMMISSION DISCUSSES BORDER REGULATIONS.
Albanian and Macedonian officials held talks in Pogradec on easing border traffic, Koha Jone reports on 19 January. Both sides presented and discussed draft agreements on visa requirements; in particular, they focused on visa fees and the abolition of visas for diplomats. Albanian Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi is expected to visit Macedonia soon. -- Fabian Schmidt

NEW GREEK PREMIER ELECTED.
The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on 18 January chose former Industry Minister Kostas Simis to head the next Greek government, Greek Radio reported. In the second round of voting, Simitis received 86 out of 167 votes and Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos 75. Six deputies cast blank ballots. Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, who had been expected to advance to the second round, came third in the first round. Following his election, Simitis promised continuity but also stressed "the need for new ideas and a change in the way of governing." President Kostis Stephanopoulos has mandated Simitis to form a new government, which is expected to be sworn in on 22 January. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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