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Newsline - January 29, 1996


YAVLINSKII PROPOSES ALLIANCE WITH LEBED.
In accepting Yabloko's nomination as its presidential candidate on 27 January, Grigorii Yavlinskii said that coalition negotiations were currently under way with Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice and the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. KRO leader Aleksandr Lebed, who is already running for president, told Ekho Moskvy on 27 January, "I am a friend of all professionals. Yavlinskii is a professional." Human rights activist Sergei Kovalev called Yavlinskii's proposal to work with the nationalist KRO "a very risky step" and predicted that a coalition would not materialize. Nezavisimaya gazeta warned on 26 January that if Yabloko and Our Home Is Russia do not form a coalition, the Communists could win the presidency. Meanwhile, on 27 January, former Federation Council Deputy Aleksei Manannikov set up a committee to nominate former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for president. -- Robert Orttung

POLL SHOWS ZYUGANOV LEADS PRESIDENTIAL RACE.
The latest poll conducted by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM) shows Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov topping a list of possible presidential candidates, with 11.3%, NTV reported on 28 January. NTV did not reveal the poll's margin of error, but several candidates appear to be in a statistical dead heat for second place: Grigorii Yavlinskii was supported by 7.7% of respondents, Vladimir Zhirinovsky 7.1%, Aleksandr Lebed 5.5%, and Boris Yeltsin 5.4%. Public opinion can shift rapidly in Russia and most polls failed to predict accurately the results of the December parliamentary elections. -- Laura Belin

EXTREME COMMUNISTS TO SUPPORT KPRF.
The fifth congress of Viktor Anpilov's extreme communist Workers' Russia decided to support the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) in the presidential elections, NTV reported 28 January. Anpilov's bloc won more than 3 million votes in the December Duma elections, but fell just short of the 5% barrier. The decision to support Gennadii Zyuganov's more moderate party is a major change of course for the Anpilovites and demonstrates increasing unity among the leftist bloc while the pro-reform parties remain divided. -- Robert Orttung

KOKOSHIN GETS NEW TITLE. . .
First Deputy Minister of Defense Andrei Kokoshin--the only civilian in the ministry's top echelons--has been appointed to the post of state secretary as well, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 January. The ministry explained that the new position will give him "broader leeway" in doing business with the State Duma and the Federation Council. Defense officials said they hope Kokoshin's higher profile will give him more influence over the military budget process, the development of military technology, and international military cooperation. -- Doug Clarke

. . . AND PRESENTS ARMS PROGRAM.
Kokoshin presented the 1996 arms program to Yeltsin on 27 January, although the financing has yet to be worked out, ITAR-TASS reported. The program specifies what each defense plant should produce, but Yeltsin said the government must now figure out how to pay for the orders within the existing budget. The president had described the absence of such a program as "outrageous," but it is not clear whether the current draft is workable. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN: NO MORE BIG CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT.
President Yeltsin announced on 26 January that "major changes" in the cabinet are finished, Russian and Western agencies reported. During the last month, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk, State Property Committee Chairman Sergei Belyaev, and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais have either left the government or been fired. According to the 27 January issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta, the recent appointment of Vladimir Kadannikov to replace Chubais marks a change from a policy of "liberal, speculative capitalism" to a "state-paternalistic" market model. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN PLEDGES TO PUSH FOR START II RATIFICATION.
On 26 January, the U.S. Senate ratified the START II nuclear-weapons reduction treaty by an 84-7 vote, Russian and Western agencies reported. In a subsequent hour-long telephone conversation with U.S. President Bill Clinton, President Yeltsin pledged to push the Russian parliament to ratify the treaty before the April G-7 Moscow summit on nuclear security. Under the Russian constitution, treaties must be ratified by a majority of both houses in the Federal Assembly. Many analysts doubt that the Duma will ratify START II, which its critics view as requiring Russia to make lopsided cuts in its nuclear forces. The treaty would require both Russia and the U.S. to reduce their strategic arsenals to 3,500 warheads within seven years. -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish

YELTSIN MEETS KINKEL.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met with President Yeltsin in Moscow on 27 January to discuss bilateral relations and European security, Russian and Western agencies reported. Earlier, Yeltsin told journalists that Russia and Germany had no disagreements, except on NATO expansion. He urged Kinkel to change his mind about NATO expansion, saying "It would be a good thing if Russia found an ally in Germany" against NATO expansion. Kinkel, however, reiterated the German view that NATO expansion would not harm Russian interests. Kinkel later met with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, and both complimented each other afterwards. Commenting on the warm atmosphere of the visit, NTV noted that Kinkel had refrained from publicly criticizing Russian policy in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish

BALTIN STILL HEADS BLACK SEA FLEET.
Despite several high-level statements that he had been fired, Admiral Eduard Baltin continues to command the Black Sea Fleet, UNIAN reported on 27 January. Two days before Baltin had chaired a meeting of the fleet's military council. A fleet spokesman told the agency that neither the Russian Defense Ministry nor main navy headquarters had received any documents calling for Baltin's dismissal. -- Doug Clarke

RUSSIA UNABLE TO MEET SOME COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONDITIONS.
Russia said on 26 January that it is unwilling or unable to meet some of the conditions attached to its admission to the Council of Europe, AFP reported. A senior Interior Ministry official said that it would be "premature" to ban the death penalty--one of the council's stipulations--and that "two thirds of society agree with this view." In an interview with Ekho Moskvy, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said Russia would be unable to end the death penalty in the near future as its prisons do not have the capacity to keep large numbers of prisoners serving life sentences. (In 1994, 154 people received the death penalty, but only two sentences were carried out.) AFP also quoted presidential representatives as saying there are no plans to abolish Yeltsin's 1994 anti-organized crime decree, which permits the detention of suspects for up to 30 days before charges are brought. Human rights activists have derided the council's decision to admit Russia as a mockery of its own ideals. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN SIGNS SECOND PART OF CIVIL CODE.
Part II of the Russian Federation Civil Code will come into force on 1 March, Russian agencies reported. The code was passed by the Duma on 22 December and signed by President Yeltsin on 26 January. It has been called the country's "economic constitution" and covers obligations in transactions such as buying and selling, donating, leasing, and concluding contracts, loans, and credit deals. It does not, however, deal with land transactions. Much of the code is devoted to bank operations and settlements. The first part of the Civil Code came into effect on 1 January 1995, while the third part, which will regulate industrial ownership and the application of international law in civil cases, is being drafted. -- Penny Morvant

MINERS, TEACHERS TO STRIKE.
Following three days of picketing the Russian government building in Moscow, the Coal Industry Workers' Union said it would go ahead with a national strike on 1 February, international agencies reported. The union said that attempts at solving the industry's problems in talks with the government had failed and that dialogue had to be conducted "from a position of strength." Russian teachers are also planning to go on strike on 30 January to demand the payment of overdue wages, despite a government promise on 28 January to pay all wage arrears "soon." In a bid to win the support of workers ahead of the presidential elections, Yeltsin promised on 26 January to create a special presidential social fund with enough money to pay a month's wages for everyone in Russia. Yeltsin did not say how the fund would work or where the money would come from. -- Penny Morvant

BANK CRISIS LOOMING?
In a speech to a reform club, Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin said that he expects a serious bank crisis to occur in 1996, Vek reported in issue no. 8. He pointed out that government budget accounts make up a large proportion of bank assets and the near-bankruptcy of many industrial firms means that many loans are non-performing. His fears are shared by the bankers themselves. In a recent survey of 1,300 bankers, 45% said a crisis is "very likely," 44% said "likely," and only 11% said "not likely," Finansovye izvestiya reported on 26 January. The last major bank scare was in August 1995. -- Peter Rutland

EXPENSIVE TAX WAIVERS.
Mikhail Delyagin, the head of the economics section of the presidential analytic center, complained that the granting of tax waivers to selected firms cost the budget 50 trillion rubles ($10.6 billion) in lost revenue in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 January. Delyagin said total tax revenues in the consolidated budget (federal and local combined) were 350 trillion rubles ($74 billion) in 1995, or about 29% of GDP. -- Peter Rutland



RUSSIA AND KAZAKHSTAN SIGN 16 DEFENSE AGREEMENTS.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his Kazakhstani counterpart, Alibek Kasymov, signed 16 agreements on military cooperation after two days of talks in Almaty, Western and Russian agencies reported on 26 January. One of the agreements committed Russia to transfer five coast guard cutters to Kazakhstan for use in the Caspian Sea. Others involved continued Russian use of the Baikonur cosmodrome, joint air defense operations, and assistance in training the Kazakhstani armed forces. Russia will also provide Kazakhstan with "several dozen" Su-25s, Su-27s, and MiG-29s. Reuters quoted Grachev as ruling out the creation of a joint CIS armed forces. He said that Russia would instead concentrate on building bilateral military ties with its neighbors. -- Doug Clarke

FORMER ALLIES ATTACK TAJIK CITIES.
Warlords who were formerly loyal to the Tajik government have attacked the Tajik cities of Tursun Zade, west of Dushanbe, and Kurgan-Tyube, in the south, Russian and Western media reported. Former Tursun Zade Mayor Ibod Boimatov, supported by 300 cadres, two tanks, and two armored personnel carriers, entered Tajikistan from neighboring Uzbekistan and captured the aluminum factory in the city on 26 January. There are unconfirmed reports that he also took some Tajik soldiers hostage. In the south, the commander of the first brigade, Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, took control of the police station and government buildings in Kurgan-Tyube on 27 January. In September, the first brigade and a rival unit of the Tajik army, the eleventh brigade, fought several battles. Negotiations are under way, but both men are demanding that the government step down. -- Bruce Pannier

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN.
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov arrived in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on 28 January, to reassure Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov of Moscow's commitment to the Central Asian republic, Russian and Western sources reported. Primakov's visit comes less than a week after the murder of the country's leading Muslim cleric. Primakov and Rakhmonov discussed the inter-Tajik peace talks scheduled to resume this week in Ashgabat, and Primakov reportedly urged the president to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, already in its fourth year. The Russian delegation departed the same night for Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where Primakov met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov to discuss regional security and Russo-Uzbek relations. -- Bruce Pannier

ARRESTED COSSACK LEADER RELEASED.
Nikolai Gunkin, the head of the Semirechie Cossack organization, was released from prison on 27 January after completing a three-month sentence in Almaty, Russian media reported on 28 January. Gunkin was arrested in October last year while seeking to register as a candidate in the December parliamentary election and was convicted by an Almaty district court of organizing unauthorized political rallies. The Semirechie Cossack organization is seeking registration with the Kazakhstani Justice Ministry. -- Bhavna Dave



NEW ACTING CRIMEAN PREMIER APPOINTED.
Arkadii Demydenko, Crimean deputy prime minister for industry, has been appointed acting premier by the speaker of the regional parliament, Yevhen Supruniuk, UNIAN reported on 27 January. Demydenko will serve until a new prime minister is approved by both the Ukrainian government and Crimean legislature. Crimean deputies dismissed former Premier Anatolii Franchuk in December. Supruniuk was instructed by lawmakers to make a temporary appointment and propose candidates for the post. Demydenko is among the four candidates so far named. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN COAL MINISTER DISMISSED.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has fired Uladzimir Kudenkau because of the continued decline in the country's coal sector, Radio Rossii reported on 28 January. Enterprise output fell an average of 11% in 1995, but that of the coal industry declined by 21%. Lukashenka said Kudenkau's poor performance practically bankrupted Minsk's autoworks and tractor and television plants. Lukashenka sought to encourage visiting German businessmen to invest in Belarus, but the Germans expressed concern over the lack of legislation guaranteeing investments and private property in the country. After the U.S., Germany is Belarus's second largest foreign investor, with $120 million invested in 1995. -- Ustina Markus

NO PROGRESS IN ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS.
Talks on the Estonian-Russian border ended in Tallinn on 26 January without any concrete results, ETA and Interfax reported. The two sides were unable to resolve the issue of the validity of the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty, which has hindered the signing of a border treaty. Meanwhile, progress was made on resolving the sea border issue, although Finland has still to be consulted about the exact location where the three countries' territorial waters converge. The next round of meetings will take place in Moscow on 28-29 February. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PREMIER RECEIVES PARTY BACKING.
The council of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) on 28 January voted by 89 to three with 11 abstentions in favor of LDDP Chairman Adolfas Slezevicius not accepting President Algirdas Brazauskas's recommendation to resign as prime minister, Radio Lithuania reported. It argued that a change in government would not serve the interests of the state. LDDP deputy chairman Justinas Karosas said the party did not want to fight with Brazauskas, its former chairman, and hoped to reach a compromise. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA, WORLD BANK SIGN AGREEMENT ON MERGING PROBLEM BANKS.
Head of the World Bank mission to Lithuania Marcelo Giugale and Lithuanian officials on 26 January signed an agreement on merging the Joint-Stock Innovative (LAIB), Litimpeks, and Vakaru banks into a United Bank by 1 July, Radio Lithuania reported. The new bank will initially be state-owned but is to be privatized by the end of 1997. Aurabankas, the fourth bank whose activities have been suspended, is to be declared bankrupt. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 28 January said that the LAIB and Litimpeks would begin in February to pay all their depositors up to 1,000 litai ($250) in compensation. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT ACCEPTS PRIME MINISTER'S RESIGNATION.
Jozef Oleksy informed the government on 26 January that his resignation has been accepted by President Aleksander Kwasniewski. The president asked Oleksy to stay on as interim prime minister until a new government is formed. The president has 14 days to appoint a new prime minister, who must be approved by the Sejm. Meanwhile, the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (SdRP) has elected Oleksy as its leader. Oleksy replaces Kwasniewski, who resigned in November following his election as president. The SdRP issued a statement saying Oleksy "ceased to be prime minister not because his party lost the electorate's support. He resigned as a result of unprecedented accusations by the internal affairs minister and because of the campaign launched against him." -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PRESIDENT'S WIFE DIES.
Olga Havlova died of cancer on 27 January, aged 62. She met Vaclav Havel while working as an usherette at the Prague theater where he began his career as a dramatist, and the couple married in 1964. Havlova shunned the limelight but became publicly known through Havel's "Letters to Olga," musings on philosophy and other subjects written while he was in jail for dissident activities. When her husband became Czechoslovak president at the end of 1989, Havlova founded the Goodwill Committee, a charity she worked actively for until her illness and which has distributed around 450 million koruny ($16.5 million), much of it to benefit handicapped children. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK ROUNDUP.
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 26 January that the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be ratified by the parliament in March, but he warned that ratification "does not mean that Hungarian nationalism will disappear from the scene." With regard to the decision to move the central post office and bank to Banska Bystrica, Meciar told Slovenska Republika on 27 January that "we all like [having] Bratislava as our capital" but that cooperation with the opposition city authorities has been unsuccessful. In other news, parliamentary Foreign Committee chairman Dusan Slobodnik praised Russia's admission to the Council of Europe, saying "only Russia respects freedom of the press as much as Slovakia does," TASR reported on 26 January. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY WELCOMES RUSSIA TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs told Magyar Hirlap on 27 January that Hungary welcomes the admission of Russia to the Council of Europe, since the key precondition to European security and stability are the strongest possible ties between Moscow and European institutions. He added that Council of Europe deputies believe that in order to neutralize Russia's fear of isolation, it is better to have the country admitted than excluded. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY GRANTS FREQUENCIES TO U.S. FORCES.
The Hungarian cabinet has issued a decree granting two radio and one television frequencies to U.S. forces temporarily stationed in Hungary, Magyar Nemzet reported on 27 January. The American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service submitted an application to the Ministry of Culture last December. The frequencies are to be granted by the end of the year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



PRISONER EXCHANGE CONTINUES IN BOSNIA.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman Pierre Gauthier said on 28 January that a total of 460 prisoners have been released since the exchange began the previous day. Under the Dayton peace accords, all prisoners held by the warring factions in Bosnia were to have been released by 19 January. The EU and the United States have threatened to withhold aid if the prisoner exchange is not completed. Gauthier said the Bosnian government has handed over 241 prisoners and the Croats 127. The Bosnian Serbs set 82 prisoners free, but the release of another 70 in northern Bosnia was unconfirmed. The ICRC expects the release of all registered prisoners to be completed on 29 January but acknowledges that many unregistered prisoners remain in the hands of the Bosnian factions. -- Michael Mihalka

BOSNIAN FACTIONS AGREE TO CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES.
The Bosnian factions on 26 January agreed on confidence-building measures by the deadline stipulated in the Dayton peace accords, international media reported. Measures include prior notice of large troop movements and verification of troop and heavy weapons strength. AFP reported that the Serbs objected to the fact that the OSCE has named half the inspectors on teams that are to consist of four members from the Bosnian factions and four from the international community. Meanwhile, separate talks on arms control continue under OSCE auspices in Vienna. -- Michael Mihalka

IFOR CASUALTIES INCREASE, AMERICAN WOUNDED.
Three British soldiers belonging to IFOR forces were killed on 28 January when their armored vehicle hit a mine in central Bosnia, and a Swedish soldier died when the vehicle in which he was riding ran off the road, international media reported. The same day, an American soldier was wounded by suspected sniper fire in Sarajevo. He received first aid treatment. -- Michael Mihalka

U.S. ARMY RELUCTANT TO HELP INVESTIGATE MASS GRAVE SITES?
IFOR continues in its reluctant agreement to protect war crimes investigators if asked but still does not seem eager to look for evidence of atrocities. This was what Reuters suggested on 28 January in reference to U.S. troops in the area of Vlasenica in eastern Bosnia. Reporters followed up on the testimony of survivors of a massacre of Muslim civilians by Serbs in 1992. Up to 8,000 Muslims had been held earlier at a nearby Serbian camp, where they were grossly mistreated. The Serbian commander is wanted for war crimes as a result. Reuters described witness accounts of the now familiar sequence of butchery, the stacking of corpses, and the digging of mass graves. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB OFFICER TO GIVE EVIDENCE ON MASS GRAVES?
A Bosnian Serb colonel, reported to have been a close associate of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, is ready to confirm the existence of mass graves in Bosnia and to indicate where Serbs carried out massacres, AFP reported on 27 January, citing Der Spiegel. The German weekly quoted an anonymous source as saying that the officer was from the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka and that thousands of Croat and Muslim victims had been buried in mass graves near the city. The officer is reportedly in The Hague, where he will testify before the international war crimes tribunal. -- Daria Sito Sucic

FEDERATION OFFICIALS VISIT PALE.
Kresimir Zubak and Izudin Kapetanovic, leaders of Bosnian Muslim-Croatian Federation, on 26 January visited the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale for the first time since the outbreak of the war, AFP reported the same day. Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik said that the two sides agreed that all prisoners must be released, while Zubak called on the governments of Croatia and rump Yugoslavia to immediately release all prisoners from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The two sides also discussed Serbian-held Sarajevo. Meanwhile, representatives of associations of independent intellectuals from Sarajevo and Tuzla are expected to visit rump Yugoslavia early next month to meet with Serbian and Montenegrin counterparts as well as non-governmental organizations, Nasa Borba reported on 29 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SLOVENIAN LEFT LEAVES GOVERNMENT COALITION.
The United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) on 26 January quit Slovenia's governing coalition, following a dispute with Premier Janez Drnovsek, international media reported. The ZLSD objected to the fact that Drnovsek had called for the resignation of Economic Minister Maks Tajnikar of the ZLSD without consulting the party. According to the premier, Tajnikar violated his authority by pledging the TAM bus company that the government would guarantee its debts. The social democrats also vowed to leave the coalition. Drnovsek responded by saying there was no need for early elections as the Christian Democrats and Liberal Democrats could continue to govern until the end of the year. -- Stan Markotich

WORLD BANK CONFERENCE OUTLINES MACEDONIA'S PRIORITIES.
At a conference in Ohrid from 26-28 January sponsored by the World Bank and Switzerland, Macedonia's economic priorities for 2010 were established, Nova Makedonija reported. Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski was present at the meeting. Goals include a per capita GDP of $3,000 (as opposed to the current $690), export-oriented industry, a fully privatized and efficient economy, high-quality public services, a lower technological gap relative to developed countries, agriculture dominated by private farmers, a strong banking system capable of financing investment, an inflow of direct or portfolio investment of $80-100 million annually, and at least 5.5% annual growth of social product. A World Bank official noted that a good start has been made in achieving macroeconomic stability and cited the importance of deregulation, especially in labor relations. -- Michael Wyzan

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER ATTACKS PRESIDENT AGAIN.
Gheorghe Funar, leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), has renewed his attacks against Ion Iliescu. Cronica romana on 29 January published a letter in which Funar complains that Iliescu has not given a satisfactory answer to an earlier message dealing with the prospects for a "historic reconciliation" with neighboring Hungary. Funar accused Iliescu of trying to "hide" from political parties and public opinion in Romania following Budapest's official reaction to his August reconciliation proposal. He urged the president to enter a dialogue only with his Hungarian counterpart and not with the Hungarian premier. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVA URGES CE TO HAVE RUSSIA RATIFY TROOP WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT.
Moldova has asked the Council of Europe to include Moscow's ratification of the troop withdrawal agreement with Chisinau as one of the conditions for Russia's admission to the council, Infotag reported on 26 January. Dumitru Diacov, head of the Moldovan delegation at the current session of the council's Parliamentary Assembly, said the proposal found broad support among delegates. The amendment urges Russia to ratify the October 1994 agreement within six months. Diacov also revealed that two members of the Moldovan delegation voted against Russia's admission to the CE. -- Dan Ionescu

RUSSIAN MILITARY TRANSPORT LEAVES MOLDOVA.
BASA-press on 26 January reported that a train carrying military equipment belonging to Russian troops based in eastern Moldova left Tiraspol for Russia. The transport is the first of 20 to be carried out by 1 June. Mainly antiquated engineering equipment, including pontoon bridges, was included in the transport. Gen. Stefan Kitsak, head of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, said no combat weapons were withdrawn. Kitsak stressed that the Dniester authorities resolutely oppose the evacuation of any combat technique from the region. He noted that part of the equipment to be withdrawn will be handed over to the Dniester army. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN INDUSTRY CONTINUED TO STRENGTHEN IN 1995.
Bulgarian real industrial production grew by a robust 7% in 1995, up from 4.5% in 1994, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 26 January, citing the National Statistical Institute. Private sector industrial production experienced 25% growth, with private producers now accounting for 12% of industrial production (up from 8% in 1994). Dynamic branches included chemicals and petrochemicals, which grew by 16.1%, and paper (14.7%). The only three branches suffering production declines were printing, non-ferrous metals, and light industry. -- Michael Wyzan

ALBANIAN POLICE BLOCKS DELIVERY OF INDEPENDENT DAILY.
Armed police on 26 January blocked and searched six vans carrying 37,000 copies of Koha Jone, international agencies reported. The vans also contained 33,000 copies of another 11 newspapers, which were being delivered by Koha Jone's transport agency. Police said they would impound the vans for at least five days, thus preventing the distribution of opposition media outside Tirana. Koha Jone Chief Editor Nikolla Lesi called the incident "yet another attack against the free press in Albania." He added that the police action followed his refusal to back the Democratic Party during the election campaign. The Interior Ministry denied political motivation, saying that four of the six vans either lacked papers or had technical defects. Meanwhile, the Association of Independent Journalists has protested the police actions as a deliberate attack before the elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT IS POOR.
Sali Berisha has declared assets of 360,000 lek (less than $ 4,000) and a small three-room apartment in central Tirana as his only property, international agencies reported on 27 January. The declaration followed the passage earlier this month of an anti-corruption law ordering all state officials to declare property exceeding 1 million lek ($ 10,000) and its origin. After becoming president, Berisha remained in his 72 square meter apartment in Tirana. He is the first person to declare his assets under the new law, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 27 January. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREEK, RUMP YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET.
Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, met in Athens on 28 January to discuss Belgrade's imminent recognition of Macedonia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 January 1996), AFP reported the following day. Greek newspapers say that Belgrade is prepared to recognize the former Yugoslav republic under the name Macedonia, which Greece continues to oppose. Meanwhile, Greek Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos has urged the international recognition of rump Yugoslavia, Beta reported on 28 January. He said "the peace process in Bosnia-Herzegovina could be seriously crippled if all sides do not recognize [rump Yugoslavia] as a state." -- Stefan Krause

GREECE, TURKEY DISPUTE DESERTED ISLAND.
Tension has risen between Greece and Turkey over sovereignty of the uninhabited island of Imia, Western agencies reported on 28 January. Athens claims it was given the island when Italy ceded the Dodecannese to Greece in 1947, while Ankara claims it is Turkish. The mayor of the Greek island of Kalymnos raised the Greek flag on Imia last week when a Turkish captain refused Greek assistance after his vessel ran aground, saying the island is Turkish. A group of Turkish journalists responded by traveling to Imia, taking down the Greek flag, and raising the Turkish one. The next day, a Greek navy vessel rehoisted the Greek flag. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has protested the incident to the Turkish ambassador. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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