YELTSIN ON PLANS TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION.
President Boris Yeltsin
announced at a Kremlin meeting with the Foreign Investment Advisory Council
that he will probably run for re-election this June, although he will not make
a formal announcement until mid-February, Russian and Western agencies reported
on 22 January. Yeltsin said he expected to face a "tough battle" for
re-election, but he told the foreign investors, "We will organize the election
campaign taking into account the experience of your countries." -- Laura
GAIDAR AGAINST YELTSIN RE-ELECTION BID.
Yegor Gaidar asserted that a
Yeltsin candidacy would be "absolutely suicidal" and "the best present that
could possibly be given to the Communists," Russian media reported on 22
January. He said his Russia's Democratic Choice party will ask the president
not to run for re-election and will not support Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii but would be prepared to discuss the candidacy of Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin. On the same day, Gaidar resigned from the consultative
presidential council, citing "the events of last week." He did not specify
whether he meant the botched Pervomaiskoe hostage crisis or the departure from
the government of Anatolii Chubais, the architect of Russia's privatization
program. -- Laura Belin
RYABOV: PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN HQ SHOULD NOT SERVE ONE CANDIDATE.
Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said any "transformation"
of the official presidential campaign headquarters into a campaign office for
one candidate would be "inadmissible," ITAR-TASS reported on 22 January. Last
week, Yeltsin put First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets in charge of a new
presidential campaign headquarters (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 January
1996). The remarks are surprising in that Ryabov has long been loyal to
Yeltsin; the president appointed him to head the TsIK shortly after dissolving
the Supreme Soviet in September 1993. The TsIK has already registered 23
initiative groups supporting various presidential hopefuls, but Ryabov
estimated that no more than 10 candidates will manage to collect the 1 million
signatures needed to register for the June election by the 16 April deadline,
Russian TV reported. -- Laura Belin
AGREEMENT ON RELEASE OF PERVOMAISKOE HOSTAGES.
After two days of
negotiations, the Chechen militants headed by Salman Raduev and the Dagestani
authorities agreed on 22 January that the hostages taken by the Chechens from
Pervomaiskoe would be released on 23 January near the Chechen village of
Novogroznensky in return for the bodies of Raduev's men who were killed there,
Russian media reported. Negotiations are still continuing on the release of the
29 workers abducted by Chechen guerrillas from the Grozny power and heat plant
on 16 January. At a press conference in Grozny on 22 January, representatives
of various Chechen political parties expressed their readiness to act as
mediators between the government of Doku Zavgaev and Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev. They also announced that a coalition council would be formed to
expedite the resumption of negotiations and stabilize the political situation
as a precondition for holding new elections, Radio Rossii reported. -- Liz
DEPUTIES APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVER COMMITTEE CHAIRMANSHIPS.
group of independent Duma members is preparing an appeal to the Constitutional
Court because they believe that the four parties that crossed the 5% barrier
violated their rights by deciding among themselves who would chair the Duma's
28 committees, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 January. The group is led by Women of
Russia leader Yekaterina Lakhova and former Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Shakhrai. The appeal is unlikely to win a sympathetic hearing since a large
majority of Duma members supported the division of committee assignments.
Russian Regions, a deputy group made of independent Duma members, has already
refused to accept the two committee chairmanships designated for them, Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported on 19 January. As a result, the committees on northern
regions and health care are currently without leaders. -- Robert Orttung
FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS YELTSIN.
In Moscow for a two-day visit,
French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette held discussions with President
Yeltsin on bilateral issues, European security, and preparations for the
planned April G-7 Moscow meeting on nuclear security, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 22 January. Later, de Charette became the first Western
foreign minister to meet with his recently appointed Russian counterpart,
Yevgenii Primakov. The French diplomat said he found Primakov, labeled
conservative by many Western commentators, to be "warm" rather than "tough." He
also expressed understanding for Russian concerns about NATO expansion, saying
that the interests of both the Central European countries and Russia deserve
careful consideration. -- Scott Parrish
U.S. DENIES RUSSIA HINDERING NUCLEAR AGREEMENTS.
White House spokesman
Michael McCurry refuted reports that Russia is reneging on a nuclear inspection
agreement reached at the May 1995 Yeltsin-Clinton summit (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 22 January 1995), Western agencies reported on 22 January. McCurry
admitted that Russian leaders are "grappling with their role in world affairs,"
but he argued that the Russo-U.S. relationship continues to be characterized by
a "spirit of cooperation" and pointed to the upcoming Washington visit of
Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin as evidence. Meanwhile, on 23 January,
Izvestiya described Russo-U.S. relations as having reached their lowest
ebb in 10 years, which the paper attributed to recent personnel changes in the
Russian government and Yeltsin's desire to be re-elected, even at the cost of
good relations with the U.S. -- Scott Parrish
PRISON REFORM CONCEPT APPROVED.
President Yeltsin has approved in
general an Interior Ministry concept for reorganizing Russia's criminal
procedure and penal system, Radio Rossii reported on 22 January. The plan
provides for prisoners to serve their sentences in their own region, for
convicts serving their first sentence to be separated from recidivists, and for
the degree of restriction of freedom to be dependent on a prisoner's behavior.
The concept aims to bring Russia's penal system into line with international
standards. Following the publication in late 1994 of a UN special report
likening Russia's pre-trial detention centers to Dante's inferno, the
government has taken a number of steps aimed at improving prison conditions. --
GOSKOMSTAT RELEASES 1995 INCOME DATA.
Real incomes in Russia fell by 13%
in 1995 compared with 1994, largely as a result of high inflation in the winter
of 1994-95, Izvestiya reported on 23 January, citing the State
Statistics Committee. The per capita income of 24% of the Russian population,
or 35.6 million people, exceeded 1 million rubles in December 1995, Interfax
reported. For the year as a whole, an average of 24.7% of the population had
incomes below the minimum subsistence level, but the number of people living
below the poverty line decreased steadily from 49.4 million (33%) in January to
28.9 million (20%) in December and the process of income stratification slowed.
In December, the richest 10% of the population had about 27% of the country's
total income and the poorest 10% had only 2.5%, while 63% of the population had
below-average incomes. -- Penny Morvant
BANKS TO EARN $40 MILLION EACH FROM $100 BILL EXCHANGE.
Russian commercial banks that are carrying out the exchange of old $100 bills
for new ones, will earn about $40 million each by charging a 2% commission,
ITAR-TASS reported on 22 January, citing Aleksandr Auzan, the president of the
International Confederation of Consumers' Unions. Auzan said the commission
amounts to a "confiscation" of $320 million out of the total $16 billion that
Russians currently hold in such bills. Banks, however, insist that the
commission is necessary to cover the cost of shipping the new $100 bills from
the U.S. to Russia. -- Natalia Gurushina
GAZPROM AND BASF TO SIGN DM 1 BILLION CREDIT AGREEMENT.
The Russian gas
company Gazprom and BASF will sign a DM 1 billion loan deal to increase the
supply of gas from the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to Western Europe,
ITAR-TASS reported on 22 January, citing BASF Chairman Juergen Strube. The
Russian government will not participate in the project and the credit is
guaranteed by Gazprom. The joint-venture "Gazprom-BASF" began constructing a
pipeline to transport Russian gas to Western Europe in the late 1980s. --
CHERNOMYRDIN REASSURES FOREIGN INVESTORS.
At a 22 January meeting of the
government's Foreign Investment Advisory Council, attended by Russia's senior
ministers and top foreign businessmen, President Yeltsin and Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin assured foreign investors that "the government will not
abandon the policy of democratic reforms [and] the market," ITAR-TASS reported
on 22 January. Chernomyrdin stressed that, despite the recent cabinet
reshuffle, the government is committed to a policy of financial stabilization
and low inflation. He also said that privatization will continue in 1996 but
with some modifications. In particular, the mass sell-offs of Russian companies
will be replaced with specially chosen case-by-case deals that should make the
process more effective. As regards loans-for-shares auctions, they will be held
in 1996, but the state will retain 51% of companies' equity capital, according
to Yeltsin. -- Natalia Gurushina
SHARP DROP IN NEWSPAPER SUBSCRIPTIONS IN UZBEKISTAN.
to all Uzbekistan's newspapers and magazines represent only 6% of the 1992
figure, according to the 18-24 January issue of Obshchaya gazeta. The
chairman of the Uzbek Journalist Union, Lutfulla Kabirov, blamed the situation
on the fact that the news reports vary very little from one Uzbek newspaper to
the next. Another major reason for the drop could be the government's tight
censorship of newspapers and persecution of independent-minded journalists.
Total newspaper circulation in the country is expected to drop by another 50%
this year. -- Bhavna Dave
ARMENIA, IRAN, AND TURKMENISTAN DISCUSS TRADE.
The foreign ministers of
Armenia, Iran, and Turkmenistan met in Tehran for two days of talks aimed at
boosting trilateral economic relations beginning on 20 January, Western and
Iranian media reported the same day. The three ministers signed a memorandum of
understanding that foresees $30 million worth of three-way trade and outlines
cooperation in banking, transport, and trade, IRNA reported on 22 January.
Trade relations between the three countries currently involve the supply of
Turkmen natural gas to Armenia via Russia and Georgia in exchange for Armenian
light and heavy industrial equipment transported across Iranian territory. --
RESPONSE TO MUFTI'S MURDER.
Tajik presidential press secretary Safar
Saidov denounced the murder of the country's Muslim spiritual leader, Mufti
Fatkhullo Sharifzoda, as "a terrible sin," according to Russian and Western
agencies. The mufti, three members of his family, and a religious student were
shot to death in their sleep on the night of 21 January by gunmen who broke
into their home some 25 km west of Dushanbe. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov
visited the scene on 22 January and described the murders as a terrorist act
aimed at destabilizing the peace process. The crime took place on the first day
of the Muslim fasting month, Ramadan. A spokesman for the Tajik opposition, Ali
Akbar Turajonzoda, also condemned the murders. Turajonzoda was the state mufti
before Sharifzoda. No arrests have been made in the case. -- Bruce Pannier
SPLIT IN TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY.
Rastakhiz, one of the parties in the
United Tajik Opposition (UTO), has split into two factions. ITAR-TASS reported
in January that Rastakhiz had released a statement declaring its recognition of
the Tajik government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 January 1996), but party
Chairman Tohir Abdujabbor denied this. However, RFE/RL sources in Dushanbe
reported that on 19 January, Rastakhiz Deputy Chairman Sharafaddin Imomov
declared that the party had recognized President Imomali Rakhmonov's government
but would act as a "constructive opposition party." The Rastakhiz Party
leadership in Tehran countered that it "hasn't and will not recognize the
government." -- Bruce Pannier
EU TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN AID TO EASTERN EUROPE.
Commission on 22 January announced it will provide $3.75 million in
humanitarian aid to Eastern Europe, Reuters reported. Some $2.5 million will go
to aid victims of the 1985 Chornobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, Belarus and
the Russian federation. Orphans, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly in
Romania will receive $625,000 in food and medical supplies. Another $187,500
will go toward vaccinating children in Albania against polio. -- Michael
UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN OIL TALKS.
Discussions between Russia's Mintopenergo
and Ukraine's Ukrneftehazprom began on 22 January over the increase in the
tariff for transporting oil through Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia has
opposed the increase, introduced on 1 January, claiming price changes have to
be agreed at government level. ITAR-TASS reports that Ukraine has no intention
of backing down over the increase and began the session suggesting that the
price could be raised further to $6.20 per ton of oil pumped through 100 km of
Ukrainian territory. The price currently stands at $5.23. After oil exporters
had their supplies to Central Europe suspended for ten days earlier this month,
many signed short-term agreements with Ukraine allowing their oil to be pumped
through the Druzhba pipeline across Ukraine to Central Europe. -- Ustina
CRIMEAN DEPUTY CALLS ON KIEV TO SUBSIDIZE MILITARY INSTALLATIONS.
Shpilkin, who heads the Crimean parliamentary Commission for Economy, Budget,
and Financing, has called on Kiev to allocate 27 trillion karbovantsy ($150
million) for the social protection of military personnel on the peninsula,
ITAR-TASS reported on 23 January. Shpilkin warned that military personnel and
their dependents are in danger of becoming unemployed as Black Sea Fleet bases
are handed over to Ukraine. So far, 61 of the 130 military facilities in Crimea
have been transferred to Ukraine. Another 25 are awaiting signature of the
appropriate documents. No decision has been made about the fate of the
remaining 44 facilities. -- Ustina Markus
OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER IN LATVIA.
OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Max van der Stoel arrived in Latvia on 21 January for a three-day
visit, BNS reported the following day. Acting director of the Latvian Human
Rights Bureau Kaija Gertnere said that the purpose of the visit was not
connected with violations of human rights or rights of ethnic minorities but
was to get acquainted with the new government and parliament. Meetings are
scheduled with Prime Minister Andris Skele, Interior Minister Dainis Turlais,
parliamentary speaker Ilsa Kreiture, and parliamentary deputies. -- Saulius
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES DISMISSAL OF CENTRAL BANK HEAD.
Brazauskas signed a decree on 22 January proposing that the Seimas relieve
Kazys Ratkevicius of his duties as chairman of the Bank of Lithuania, Radio
Lithuania reported. Ratkevicius offered his resignation on 8 January after the
ruling Democratic Labor Party expressed dissatisfaction with his work.
Brazauskas, however, delayed proposing his removal to the Seimas because he
thought Ratkevicius could help IMF and World Bank experts prepare a program to
restructure four Lithuanian banks with serious problems. The proposal
simplifies Ratkevicius's removal by requiring a simple majority vote in the
Seimas; previously, 71 deputies would have had to vote against him. Brazauskas
has suggested the bank's deputy chairman, Jonas Niaura, replace Ratkevicius. --
POLISH PRIME MINISTER ON SPY ALLEGATIONS.
Jozef Oleksy, in a recent
interview with Polityka, has stressed that he never worked for the KGB,
Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 23 January. Asked about his contacts with
Vladimir Alganov, Oleksy said that with the benefit of hindsight, he could see
that it had been wrong to meet with the KGB officer. Former Interior Minister
Andrzej Milczanowski maintains that the Office for State Protection warned
Oleksy that Alganov was a KGB agent but Oleksy did not break off his contacts
with him. Meanwhile, the Public Opinion Research Center reported that public
confidence in Oleksy has dropped from 61% in December to 46% this month. --
CZECH ARMY OFFICERS CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION.
Two senior army officers on
22 January were charged with corruption in awarding defense contracts, Czech
media reported. A lieutenant-colonel who chaired a Defense Ministry tendering
committee and a colonel who also sat on the committee, are accused of misusing
their positions to influence how a major contract for heating equipment was
decided. Neither soldier was named. Czech Television reported that the two
allegedly demanded a bribe, a share of the contract's profits, and shares in
the company awarded the contract, which could have totaled 30 million koruny
($1.12 million). The two were suspended and the order was canceled in
December--the third lucrative defense contract in recent months to be annulled
amid suspicions of bribery. -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAKIA, UKRAINE TO IMPROVE COOPERATION.
Slovak and Ukrainian
government officials are meeting from 22-23 January in Slovakia's High Tatra
mountains in an effort to develop a long-term program of bilateral cooperation.
Stressing that trade turnover with Ukraine could be 10 times higher, Slovak
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar called for the creation of a free trade zone.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk said Slovakia could help Ukraine in its
efforts to join the Central European Free Trade Agreement and the Central
European Initiative. Marchuk also noted that there is opportunity for Slovak
firms to take part in Ukraine's privatization program, RFE/RL's Slovak Service
reported. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PROSECUTOR-GENERAL ON INVESTIGATION INTO SECRET SERVICE AGENTS.
Michal Valo told CTK on 22 January that his office is continuing an
investigation into former top agents of the Slovak Information Service who are
accused of abuse of power, endangering state secrets, and other crimes. The
accusations were made in a May 1995 report by the parliamentary Separate
Control Organ (OKO), which oversees the SIS and consists only of coalition
deputies. The OKO accused the previous SIS leadership of cooperating with
President Michal Kovac and the transitional government ijn power until the fall
1994 elections. Valo noted that he cannot question OKO members or former SIS
agents until they are freed from their secrecy oath. According to Valo, the
accusations could be used against a number of Slovak editors and journalists
who were mentioned in the OKO report. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PREMIER TO BOOST COUNTRY'S IMAGE ABROAD.
Gyula Horn has
invited 60 prominent Hungarians living abroad to take part in a conference on
promoting Hungary's interests abroad, Hungarian media reported on 22 January.
Among the most prominent invited guests are U.S. philanthropist and financier
George Soros, Canadian real estate investor Andrew Sarlos, and U.S. congressman
Tom Lantos. The conference will take place on 9-10 February. Horn, Finance
Minister Lajos Bokros, Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, and other government
officials will address the delegates. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
RUSSIAN TROOPS TRANSIT HUNGARY.
Trains carrying Russian units expected
to serve with IFOR forces in Bosnia passed through Hungary from Ukraine on 22
January, Hungarian dailies reported. This was the first time Russian troops had
entered Hungarian territory since leaving the country in 1991. Polish and Czech
troops transited Hungary last week. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
JUSTICE GOLDSTONE IN SARAJEVO.
The head of the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Richard Goldstone, visited Sarajevo on 22
January. He told international media that his team might begin work in the
field in as soon as two weeks. The investigators are concerned that the Serbs
might try to destroy evidence of atrocities in the meantime, and Reuters said
that the Serbs are keeping foreigners out of the Srebrenica area. Elsewhere,
the International Herald Tribune reported on 23 January that the U.S.
intelligence community has been told to help the tribunal, even if it means
investigating charges that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is responsible
for war crimes. Goldstone had earlier criticized the Americans for being slow
to provide evidence, but Washington now seems willing to help. This apparently
also means tracing atrocities to the doorstep of the man who was so central to
Richard Holbrooke's diplomatic efforts last year. -- Patrick Moore
NATO TO AID WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION.
IFOR commander U.S. Admiral
Leighton Smith and Richard Goldstone, meeting on 22 January in Sarajevo,
reached an agreement whereby NATO will help investigations into war crimes in
the former Yugoslavia, international agencies reported. NATO has so far refused
to guard suspected mass grave sites in the fear that it will be taking on
missions other than those assigned to it in the Dayton peace accords. The
Washington Post on 23 January reported Smith as telling Goldstone that "If
you don't push me and make me say what I'm going to do, I'll do a lot." --
MURATOVIC RELUCTANTLY ACCEPTS NOMINATION FOR BOSNIAN PREMIERSHIP.
Bosnian Minister for Relations with IFOR Hasan Muratovic has said he is
accepting the post of Bosnian prime minister, albeit reluctantly. "Mr.
Silajdzic is the man we need, but unfortunately he has refused to be prime
minister," AFP quoted him as saying. Muratovic was nominated for the
premiership at an emergency session of the executive board of the ruling Muslim
Party of Democratic Action (SDA) on 21 January. The next day, the Bosnian
collective Presidency proposed him as new premier. Muratovic, who is not a
member of the SDA , was considered a close Silajdzic ally. AFP quoted Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic as telling state television on 21 January that
Silajdzic's resignation from the post of prime minister was based on "caprice."
-- Daria Sito Sucic
CHRISTOPHER ISSUES WARNING ABOUT PRISONER EXCHANGE.
U.S. Secretary of
State Warren Christopher on 22 January warned that if the Bosnian government
did not comply with the requirement to release remaining prisoners of war, it
would risk losing training, equipment and reconstruction aid, international
agencies reported. He stressed that the prisoner release was an "unconditional
obligation" for all parties to the Dayton peace accord and noted that the
Bosnian government's request for further information on other prisoners was
"not a legitimate demand" entitling them "to keep back their prisoners." --
SERBIA TO CRACK DOWN ON ECONOMIC CRIME?
Dragan Petkovic told TV Serbia on 21 January that the "fight against
criminality"--announced by President Milosevic in his 1996 New Year's
address--will focus on economic crimes. Petkovic said that while international
sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia were in force, economic crimes were not
only tolerated but also promoted by the regime. He added that if there had been
no sanctions violators or smugglers, Serbia's banking and commercial
infrastructure would have found it difficult, if not impossible, to survive.
Meanwhile, Politika on 23 January reported Ivica Dacic, spokesman for
the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, as saying federal and municipal elections
will be held in 1996, while elections to the Serbian legislature will not take
place before the end of 1997, when the legislators' current mandates expire. --
NEW ZAGREB MAJOR TO BE ELECTED.
Since Croatian President Franjo Tudjman
rejected to approve election of opposition candidate Goran Granic for a post of
Zagreb major and a head of Zagreb county, nomination of a new candidate is
expected at a session of the City Assembly scheduled for 24 January, Vecernji
list reported a day before. President of Social- Democratic Party (SDP) Ivica
Racan announced that united opposition parties will nominate a new candidate
for a post of Zagreb major, because "it would make no sense to insist on Granic
as the only candidate, and let the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ)
to continue to rule in the Croatian capital under an excuse of existing
anarchy," BETA on 23 January quoted him as saying. If opposition would not
nominate a new candidate, the Croatian President alone would have right to
appoint one. -- Daria Sito Sucic
CHIRAC FAVORS "PRIVILEGED RELATIONS" WITH ROMANIA.
France wants to
develop "privileged relations" with Romania, French President Jacques Chirac
was quoted as saying on 22 January by the Bucharest daily Adevarul.
Noting that Romania is the "only Latin country in Eastern Europe," he pledged
to "help it develop along its chosen path." Asked whether France was "Romania's
main advocate" in its bid for EU membership, Chirac said Romania could rely
both on France and on "other friends who supported it." Chirac's statement came
on the eve of a French-Romanian economic forum in Bucharest. -- Matyas Szabo
ROMANIAN EMBASSY GUARDS ROBBED OF GUNS IN MOLDOVA.
Several armed men
robbed guards of their guns at the Romanian Embassy in Chisinau, Infotag
reported on 22 January. Armed with knives and handguns, the assailants wounded
one of the guards in their night raid on the embassy building. Police mounted a
manhunt but could not find the assailants. Such incidents have occurred
repeatedly in Chisinau, including last year at the Turkish Embassy,
international media reported. -- Matyas Szabo
MOLDOVA, RUSSIA, UKRAINE SIGN STATEMENT ON DNIESTER.
Snegur, Boris Yeltsin, and Leonid Kuchma on 19 January signed a statement
recognizing the Dniester region as a constituent part of Moldova, BASA-press
and Infotag reported on 22 January. The three leaders stressed the need for a
speedy political settlement to the Dniester conflict in accordance with the
principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and OSCE, Council of
Europe, and CIS documents. The three states support the signing of a document
that would provide for a special status for the Dniester region within the
Republic of Moldova, whose territorial integrity would be guaranteed. Snegur,
Yeltsin, and Kuchma were attending a CIS summit conference in Moscow. -- Dan
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADER.
In a move generally
regarded as improving relations between the Presidency and the opposition,
Zhelyu Zhelev and Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov met on
22 January, Demokratsiya reported. The two leaders discussed the
political situation after one year of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) rule;
both insisted that they did not talk about the next presidential elections.
After their meeting, Zhelev said that "if the crisis deepens, the opposition
and I will act together." He added that he and the SDS have the same views on
domestic and foreign policy issues. Kostov told Standart that the
government is "harmful and dangerous for Bulgaria and it must go." The BSP
leadership responded by issuing a statement accusing Zhelev of "destabilizing
the country." -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW MINISTERS.
The National Assembly on 23
January approved Atanas Paparizov of the Bulgarian Socialist Party as trade
minister and Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov of the Bulgarian Agrarian
People's Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" as agriculture minister, Bulgarian
media reported. Their candidacies were approved by 122 votes to two. Most
opposition deputies abstained. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN PRISONERS TO LEAVE GREECE.
Some 790 Albanians serving prison
sentences in Greece are to be transferred to Albanian prisons, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 23 January. The prisoners, including 14 women and 140
youths aged 14-20, will serve the remainder of their sentences in Albania. The
transfer of the Albanian prisoners was prompted by recent violent protests by
inmates, including many Albanians, over poor conditions in Greek prisons. The
Greek and Albanian Justice Ministries signed a prisoner exchange agreement on
16 August 1995. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIA TO INVEST $200 MILLION IN ROADS THIS YEAR.
Albania plans to
invest some $200 million into the reconstruction of roads in 1996,
international agencies reported on 22 January. A large amount of the money will
be used for a highway between Durres and Tirana and an East-West corridor
linking Durres with Macedonia at the border checkpoint Qafe e Thanes. Albania
has 18,000 kilometers of roads, most of which are in very bad condition. --
TURKEY TO SEND COMBAT TROOPS TO BOSNIA.
The Turkish General Staff has
issued a statement saying Turkey will reinforce its military unit in Zenica
with combat forces this week, AFP reported on 22 January. Deployment of a
mechanized infantry company, a tank company, an artillery battery, and a team
specialized in eliminating mines will begin on 23-25 January. The 1,500-strong
Turkish unit already deployed with IFOR will be deployed in Zenica and Tuzla in
the U.S. area of responsibility in central Bosnia. A squadron of 18 Turkish
F-16 fighters deployed in Italy and a frigate in the Adriatic Sea are also
allocated for use by IFOR, the statement said. -- Lowell Bezanis
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave