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Newsline - January 23, 1996


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 Belin

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.
Central 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 Fuller

DEPUTIES APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVER COMMITTEE CHAIRMANSHIPS.
A 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. -- Penny Morvant

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.
The eight 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. -- Natalia Gurushina

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.
Total subscriptions 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. -- Lowell Bezanis

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.
The European 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 Mihalka

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 Markus

CRIMEAN DEPUTY CALLS ON KIEV TO SUBSIDIZE MILITARY INSTALLATIONS.
Vasyl 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 Girnius

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES DISMISSAL OF CENTRAL BANK HEAD.
Algirdas 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. -- Saulius Girnius

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. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

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." -- Michael Mihalka

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." -- Michael Mihalka

SERBIA TO CRACK DOWN ON ECONOMIC CRIME?
Serbian Prosecutor-General 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. -- Stan Markotich

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.
Presidents Mircea 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 Ionescu

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. -- Fabian Schmidt

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




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