YELTSIN CONSOLIDATES ADMINISTRATION INTO SIX DEPARTMENTS.
Boris Yeltsin has reorganized his administration into six departments,
ITAR-TASS quoted Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov as saying on 30 January. The
departments are: constitutional guarantees of citizens' rights, domestic and
foreign policy, state-legal matters, personnel, analysis, and oversight.
Yegorov will have one first deputy and six deputies who will head each of the
departments. The administration will cut its current 43 subdivisions to 19 and
its staff from 2,100 to 1,500 employees. Yegorov stressed that Aleksandr
Korzhakov's Presidential Security Service and the president's advisers will
remain directly subordinate to Yeltsin, Radio Mayak reported. He described his
relationship with the government and its staff as one of "partnership." --
DUMA EYES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS.
Emboldened by their increased
numbers, opposition deputies in the Duma intend to pass about 10 constitutional
amendments this year to increase parliamentary oversight of the executive
branch, Kommersant-Daily reported on 30 January. One proposal would give
the Duma the power to confirm not only the prime minister, but also all deputy
prime ministers and the "power ministers" (defense, interior, and head of the
security services). Another would allow the Duma to force the removal of
individual ministers; currently parliament can only pass no-confidence votes in
the government as a whole. These proposals are unlikely to succeed: changes to
the constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the Duma, three-fourths of
the Federation Council, and two-thirds of the legislatures of Russia's 89
regions. -- Laura Belin
HOW A CONVICTED CRIMINAL WAS ELECTED TO THE DUMA.
convicted of four crimes and sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison, has
become a Duma deputy on the party list of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Izvestiya reported on 31 January.
Zhirinovsky dropped Monastyrskii and 10 other candidates with a criminal past
from the LDPR list in October. However, four days after the December elections,
the party asked the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to reinstate
Monastyrskii on its list. The TsIK decided that Monastyrskii could be
registered as a Duma deputy since its 29 November resolution removing him from
the party list had not yet been officially published. Izvestiya reported
that Monastyrskii is a major financial backer of the LDPR, citing an anonymous
source. -- Laura Belin
LUZHKOV: TOO MANY FOREIGN-LANGUAGE SIGNS IN MOSCOW.
Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov has criticized draft rules on advertising in the capital, chiefly
because they do not include precise regulations on foreign-language signs,
ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. According to Izvestiya on 31 January,
the mayor suggested that foreign-language signs should be placed in
shop-windows rather than on the facades of buildings, with letters no taller
than 10 cm. He also called for creating a special service within the city's
Press and Information Department to assign and sell advertising space as well
as oversee financial and linguistic issues. Izvestiya quoted one
official who estimated that the Moscow city government has lost up to $200,000
due to the practice of selling advertising space on huge billboards for as
little as $25. -- Laura Belin
MOSCOW MOST EXPENSIVE CITY.
According to the latest Eurostat survey,
Moscow is the world's most expensive city for business visitors, Russian and
Western media reported on 31 January. The basic daily expenses of a business
visitor (including a night in a four- or five-star hotel) costs $543 in Moscow,
followed by $516 in Tokyo and $468 in Buenos Aires. Minsk and Erevan were among
the cheapest cities, at $125 and $132 respectively. -- Peter Rutland
PRESIDENT ORDERS AID TO KEMEROVO.
President Yeltsin ordered the
government to pay its more than 200 billion ruble ($42 million) debts to the
Kemerovo coal miners and government employees, Western agencies reported on 30
January. Miners across the country have set a national strike for 1 February.
In the 1995 Duma elections, 48% of Kemerovo's voters supported the Communist
Party, largely due to the popularity of Kemerovo Oblast legislative leader Aman
Tuleev. -- Robert Orttung
ST. PETERSBURG MAYORAL ELECTION AGAIN IN JEOPARDY.
mayoral election, scheduled to coincide with Russia's presidential election on
16 June, is in jeopardy, St. Petersburg's presidential representative, Sergei
Tsiplaev, told Nevskoe vremya on 30 January. Tsiplaev was quoted as
saying that mayoral election will not happen until the city's legislative
assembly passes a law on local elections. According to Tsiplaev, President
Boris Yeltsin does not want voters in the presidential election to be
distracted by regional concerns. Yeltsin has stated that all elections for
regional executive positions should take place in December 1996, with the
exception of Moscow. -- Brian Whitmore, OMRI Inc. in St. Petersburg
U.S. AND RUSSIA SIGN ECONOMIC ACCORDS.
Closing the sixth session of the
Russo-U.S. economic and technical cooperation committee which they co-chair,
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and U.S. Vice President Al Gore
announced the signing of several bilateral accords, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 30 January. They include an agreement on the use of
satellites to monitor ecological disasters, an accord outlining joint work on
the international orbital space station scheduled to go into operation in 1998,
a tax agreement, and accords on drug and food safety. An expected deal for
joint exploitation of the Timano-Pechorskii oil fields was postponed.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary said the two countries are
"very close" to signing an agreement allowing for verification that the uranium
which the U.S. is purchasing from Russia actually comes from dismantled nuclear
warheads (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 January 1996). -- Scott Parrish
$1 BILLION AIRCRAFT DEAL FOR RUSSIA.
On 30 January, the U.S.
Export-Import Bank announced that it will provide a $1 billion loan to enable
Pratt and Whitney engines and other U.S. made equipment to be used in the
construction of 20 Ilyushin-96 aircraft, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 January. The
aircraft will then be leased to Aeroflot Russian International Airlines. In
return, the Russian government is expected to lift a 30% import tariff on the
sale of Boeing planes to Russia. -- Natalia Gurushina
MILITARY CALLS LATEST DRAFT A SUCCESS.
As many as 224,000 young men were
called up in the autumn draft, according to Col. Gen. Vyacheslav Zherebtsov,
chief of the General Staff's Main Organizational and Mobilization Directorate.
Russian media quoted him as saying that the successful call-up means that the
Ground Forces and the navy are manned up to 75% of their authorized strength
and the other services up to 80%. Zherebtsov said that no conscript would be
sent to Chechnya during the first six months of service. He said that draft
evasion remained a problem, with about 31,000 potential conscripts on the run.
-- Doug Clarke
MIXED RESPONSE TO EDUCATION STRIKE CALL.
Teachers in many areas of
Russia stopped work on 30 January to protest wage arrears. Galina Merkulova, a
teachers' union official, said about 225,000 teachers from 51 regions had
resolved to participate, but she claimed that pressure from local authorities
might keep some teachers at work. Most reports said support for the strike call
was patchy, with teachers remaining at work in Moscow and many other regions.
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kinelev said that local authorities owe teachers
1.2 trillion rubles ($255 million). He said that last December the government
had allocated an additional 1.7 trillion rubles to the regions to pay teachers'
wages but that in many cases the money had not reached schools. -- Penny
GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW ALCOHOL CAMPAIGN.
The Russian government adopted
a package of measures to re-establish state control over the alcohol industry
on 27 January, prompting an intense debate in the Russian media.
Kommersant-Daily on 30 January compared the measures to Gorbachev's
ill-fated 1985 anti-alcohol campaign. Regulations had been almost entirely
lifted in 1992, causing state revenues from alcohol sales to fall from 4% to 1%
of GDP, according to First Deputy Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, speaking on
Russian TV on 30 January. Quotas will be introduced to limit imports, which now
account for more than 50% of alcohol sales. New procedures will be instituted
to ensure that all domestic producers pay taxes and duties, which could
generate another 40 trillion rubles ($8.5 billion) for the budget. These steps
may cause a rise in the retail price of alcohol. -- Peter Rutland
OIL TRANSPORT RATES GO UP.
The Fuel and Energy Ministry announced a 10%
increase in oil transport rates, Russian agencies reported on 30 January. Rates
on domestic routes will range from 3100 to 3700 rubles (65-78 cents) per ton
per 100 km. In transporting oil across CIS countries, the Russians propose to
use these domestic rates plus a supplement of $3.2 per 100 km. -- Natalia
TROUBLE IN ANOTHER TAJIK CITY.
Local law enforcement officers in the
northern city of Khojent have been able to apprehend a group, led by General
Muminjon Mamadjonov who stole 100 sub-machine guns from a local recruiting
center and attempted to flee to the nearby city of Kanibadam, according to a 30
January Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report cited by the BBC. Meanwhile,
authorities are still negotiating with former Popular Front commanders Ibodullo
Baimatov and Mahmud Khudaberdiyev who have occupied buildings in the cities of
Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube, respectively. According to unconfirmed reports,
emergency measures have been taken in almost every major city in Tajikistan
including the capital, Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier
MORE ON PRIMAKOV VISIT TO TASHKENT.
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov, his first deputy, Boris Pastukhov, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev,
and Uzbek President Islam Karimov held "strictly classified" discussions in
Tashkent on 28 January. On 30 January, Segodnya speculated that Moscow
is attempting to persuade Tashkent to promote an easing of tensions in
Tajikistan in exchange for combat equipment and humanitarian aid, some of which
would be transferred to Tajikistan. The paper suggested that Moscow wants
Karimov to use his influence among restive ethnic Uzbeks dwelling in
Khojent--who have been increasingly at odds with the Kulyabi dominated
government in Dushanbe as evidenced by two uprisings led by Uzbek
commanders--and ease the confrontation between the Tajik government and
opposition. The article also noted that Karimov dodged Russia's renewed efforts
to raise the question of broadening the mandate of CIS peacekeepers along the
Tajik-Afghan border. -- Lowell Bezanis
CAMECO WILL INVEST $160 MILLION IN KYRGYZSTAN THIS YEAR.
plans to invest $160 million in the Kumtor gold field in 1996, Kumtor Operating
Company President Len Khomenyuk told the Russian media on 30 January. In 1995
Cameco invested $215 million in the project, which is Kyrgyzstan's largest. The
project is expected to yield 15 metric tons of gold annually, worth about $200
million. Production is scheduled to begin in 1997. -- Bruce Pannier
NEW KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT CONVENES.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev
inaugurated the new bicameral parliament that was elected last December, thus
formally ending the presidential rule in effect since the dissolution of the
former parliament in March last year. Criticizing the old parliament for its
inaction on economic reforms, Nazarbayev hailed the economic progress made
under presidential rule, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. On its first day,
Omirbek Baigeldiyev, the 57-year-old former head of Zhambul Oblast and adviser
to the president, was elected Senate speaker. Murat Ospanov, the 47-year-old
former deputy speaker of the ex-Supreme Soviet, was elected chairman of the
Majilis. The same day several dozen people gathered outside the parliament to
protest wage arrears, low salaries, and the lack of heating and electricity in
the capital and other regions, Russian media and NTV reported on 30 January. --
BREAD PRICES RISE IN GEORGIA.
Bread prices in Georgia are to rise by 40%
beginning on 15 February bringing the cost of 1 kg of bread to 42 tetri (about
35 cents), Georgian Finance Minister David Yakobidze told the Russian media on
30 January. Since the minimum monthly wage and pension amount to 6 lari in
Georgia, the population will receive monthly compensation payments of 1-1.50
lari (80 cents to $1.25). Only 138,000 metric tons is expected to arrive this
year, compared with Last year, Georgia received 504,000 metric tons of
"humanitarian" grain, but only 138,000 tons is expected this year. -- Irakli
UKRAINE EXPELS CHINESE SPYING ON MISSILE PLANT.
Three Chinese citizens
accused of trying to obtain missile technology from the giant Yushmash missile
plant in Dnipropetrovsk are to be expelled, Reuters reported on 30 January. The
agency quoted the Ukrainian Security Service as charging that they had
"obtained documents for the production of rocket engines for intercontinental
ballistic missiles." Yushmash produced a number of strategic missiles for the
Soviet Union, including the SS-18. The security service spokesman said the
Chinese would be barred from entering Ukraine for five years. He added that the
Ukrainians who had helped the men obtain information would be prosecuted. --
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RESTRICTS CHILD ADOPTIONS BY FOREIGNERS.
lawmakers on 30 January voted to limit the adoption of Ukrainian children by
foreigners in response to alleged incidents of baby-selling over the last
several years, Ukrainian and international agencies reported 30 January. Their
decision provides for the establishment of a centralized adoption monitoring
agency and gives Ukrainian citizens priority in adoptions. Lawmakers also
banned intermediaries, including non-profit organizations. -- Chrystyna
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MINSK.
Yevgenii Primakov arrived in Minsk on
30 January to meet with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, his
Belarusian counterpart Uladzimir Syanko, and Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir,
Russian and Belarusian media reported. The leaders focused on
Russian-Belarusian integration. Syanko noted that the pace of economic
integration has fallen behind that of military and political integration.
Lukashenka said 90% of the Belarusian population supports unification and that
Belarus has made a number of moves to unify with Russia. It is Russia's turn to
take the next step, he commented. Primakov said that integration among former
Soviet republics did not threaten any country's sovereignty and that the
process was irreversible. -- Ustina Markus
$178 MILLION INVESTMENT FOR VIA BALTICA PROJECT.
The Via Baltica project
work group, meeting in Stockholm on 30 January, discussed a $178 million
investment over the next five years to improve links between Helsinki and
Warsaw, BNS reported. Some $49 million are to be spent in Estonia, $27 million
in Latvia, $38 million in Lithuania, and $65 million in Poland. The projects in
Estonia include upgrading city street networks in Tallinn and Tartu,
constructing new highways, and repairing roads and border checkpoints, ETA
reported. The respective governments will supply most of the funds, although
aid will also be obtained from the EU and international development banks. --
FORMER LATVIAN KGB MINISTER APPEALS LIFE SENTENCE.
87-year old Alfons
Noviks has appealed the life sentence for genocide handed down to him by a Riga
court on 13 December, BNS reported on 30 January. Noviks was found guilty of
being one of the chief organizers of mass deportations, persecutions, and
murders of thousands of Latvians from 1941 to 1949. His defense lawyer insists
he did not commit any criminal offense but was simply fulfilling his duties. --
POLISH PRESIDENT, DEFENSE MINISTER MET WITH MILITARY LEADERS.
Kwasniewski and Stanislaw Dobrzanski on 30 January met with Polish military
leaders, including Chief of General Staff Tadeusz Wilecki. Last week, the
defense minister had transferred jurisdiction over the General Staff's finances
to the ministry. Kwasniewski reportedly supported both this and other changes
aimed at limiting Wilecki's powers. Wilecki was a close associate of former
President Lech Walesa. He is to go on leave next week but Dobrzanski denied
rumors of his dismissal, Polish dailies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski
CZECH PRIVATIZATION CHIEF'S SENTENCE REDUCED.
A Prague appeals court on
30 January reduced Jaroslav Lizner's jail sentence for corruption from seven to
six years. Lizner, former head of the Center for Coupon Privatization, was
arrested on 31 October 1994 after meeting with businessmen interested in buying
shares in a dairy firm. He was carrying more than 8 million koruny ($300,000)
in a briefcase. Like the original court verdict handed down last October, the
appeals court rejected Lizner's claims that the money was a deposit on the sale
of the shares, ruling that it was a bribe he had solicited for mediating the
deal. The court also confirmed a 1 million koruny ($37,500) fine imposed on
Lizner, the highest state official to be convicted of corruption in the Czech
Republic. There is no further appeal. -- Steve Kettle
GERMAN CONDUCTOR QUITS IN PRAGUE AMID ALLEGATIONS OF CZECH NATIONALISM.
Gerd Albrecht on 30 January announced his resignation "with immediate
effect" as chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Czech and international
media reported. He told Culture Minister Pavel Tigrid that he was leaving for
political reasons, not artistic ones. Earlier this month, Tigrid stripped
Albrecht of his duties as artistic director of the Czech Philharmonic,
following articles in the German press portraying the German-born conductor as
a victim of Czech nationalism. The controversy over Albrecht has inflamed
Czech-German relations, currently bogged down over such unresolved issues as
the expulsion of Sudeten Germans and compensation for victims of Nazism. -- Jan
SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
Juraj Schenk on 30 January
told reporters that the CE should not apply double standards when judging the
situation of ethnic minorities in a new or established member country.
Discussing parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic's recent proposal that the CE
Parliamentary Assembly compile a "White Book" on standard ethnic rights, Schenk
noted that all CE members could then be monitored by the same objective
criteria. Schenk expressed support for Russia's recent admission to the CE,
noting that non-acceptance of the country would have meant support for
anti-democratic forces. Meanwhile, Arpad Duka-Zolyomi of the ethnic Hungarian
Coexistence movement said the CE was "naive" to think it will force Russia to
implement democratic changes by this move, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY TO BE RATIFIED IN MARCH?
chairman Gasparovic on 30 January announced that ratification of the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be postponed until March, after the parliamentary
Foreign Affairs Committee has drawn up an interpretation clause on CE
Recommendation No. 1201, which deals with autonomy for minorities. Although
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has promised that the treaty will be ratified in
March, some Slovak officials would prefer to wait until CE experts provide an
official interpretation of the recommendation, Slovak media reported. -- Sharon
UPDATE ON "OILGATE" SCANDAL.
The Hungarian parliamentary commission
probing the "oilgate" affair has turned to Premier Gyula Horn and the secret
services for further information, Hungarian dailies reported on 31 January.
Commission chairman Ervin Demeter said the cabinet's earlier investigation did
not provide sufficient information. The government last fall investigated
whether some high-ranking Socialists had been involved in suspicious deals
related to Russian-Hungarian oil shipments and repayment of the Russian state
debt. The cabinet concluded that no violation of law had been committed but
suggested that Andras Dunai, son of the current industry minister, and Otto
Hujber, chairman of the Socialist Party's entrepreneurial section, might have
been involved. The parliamentary commission investigating "Oilgate," composed
of four opposition and four coalition party members, was set up at the
initiative of the opposition. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BOSNIA GETS ITS FIRST POSTWAR GOVERNMENT.
Oslobodjenje on 31
January reported that the republican parliament elected a new government the
previous day. Hasan Muratovic is prime minister and heads a cabinet of six
ministries, down from the previous 12. Portfolios and deputy ministerial posts
were carefully assigned to achieve a balance between Muslims and Croats in a
manner reminiscent of the old Tito-era system of dividing power on the basis of
nationality. Croat Jadranko Prlic is foreign minister, replacing the outspoken
Muslim Muhamed Sacirbey. The sole Serb in the cabinet is a minister without
portfolio, Dragoljub Stojanov. AFP called the cabinet an "almost powerless
transition republic." Notably missing is outgoing Prime Minister Haris
Silajdzic, who has also left the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action and
is expected to found a new party. The opposition Union of Bosnian Social
Democrats said the new government reflected a power deal between the leading
Muslim and Croat parties. -- Patrick Moore
NEW BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER FACES DAUNTING TASKS.
After being named prime
minister on 30 January, Hasan Muratovic outlined the social and other issues
facing his administration, saying they would "frighten any government in the
world." Oslobodjenje on 31 January said he mentioned huge social
obligations to war refugees, the injured, and the families of dead soldiers and
missing persons. Pensioners, demobilized soldiers, the police, the army, and
the education system pose additional problems. Muratovic noted that Bosnia
wants to join both the EU and NATO, adding that "as for . . . Croatia, we'll do
our best to make that relationship an example for good cooperation between
countries in this region." Regarding Serbia-Montenegro, the new prime minister
said "we must develop and normalize that relationship step by step." Earlier,
Fifth Corps commander General Atif Dudakovic said that the Bosnian army will be
reorganized along NATO lines. -- Patrick Moore
SREBRENICA WOMEN TEMPORARILY STOP DEMONSTRATIONS.
Women refugees from
Srebrenica, who have staged demonstrations in Tuzla on 29-30 January, have
agreed to stop their protest until a 1 February meeting between the Bosnian and
Tuzla-Podrinje governments and the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC), Oslobodjenje reported on 31 January. Some 1,000 women and
children have been demonstrating against the ICRC's "passivity" over 8,000
missing men from Srebrenica. They have promised to step up their action if more
information on their relatives is not provided by 1 February. -- Daria Sito
ELECTION COMMISSION SET UP IN BOSNIA.
A commission responsible for
overseeing Bosnian elections under OSCE auspices was named on 30 January in
Sarajevo, international and local media reported. The seven-member panel is
composed of representatives from the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany,
and the three Bosnian factions. Under the Dayton peace accords, elections must
take place before September. Meanwhile, the current, past, and future OSCE
Chairmen-in-Office--Foreign Ministers Flavio Cotti (Switzerland), Lazlo Kovacs
(Hungary), and Niels Helveg Petersen (Denmark)--met in Sarajevo on 30 January
with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, vice president of the Moslem-Croatian
Federation Ejup Ganic, and vice president of the self-declared Republika Srpska
Nikola Koljevic. Cotti said the meeting was "extremely positive," but Koljevic
stressed that the issues of refugees, control over the media, and Serbian
control over Sarajevo may prove obstacles to holding elections by September. --
RUMP YUGOSLAVIA ASKS FOR ASSETS TO BE UNFROZEN.
Nasa Borba on 31
January reports that rump Yugoslav Premier Radoje Kontic has sent a letter to
his French, British, Swiss, and Danish counterparts, as well as to U.S.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher, asking that overseas assets of
Belgrade's national bank be unfrozen. Those assets were frozen in 1992,
following the introduction of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia for its
role in supporting and fomenting the Bosnian Serb war effort. Kontic reportedly
wrote that "since sanctions have been suspended there is no further need to
block [rump Yugoslav] assets. . . . Continuation of the embargo would call into
question the principle of equal treatment of all parties . . . of the former
Yugoslavia." -- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIAN MINISTERS TENDER RESIGNATIONS.
Four Slovenian ministers, all
members of the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), handed in their
resignations on 30 January. This move follows in the wake of the ZLSD's split
with the governing coalition. The outgoing ministers held the economics, labor,
science, and culture portfolios, Reuters reported. ZLSD secretary Dusan Kumer
said both the resignations and the party's split with the governing coalition
were prompted by the ZLSD's disapproval of government policy, which, he said,
does not offer enough help to underprivileged people and troubled companies. --
ROMANIAN TELECOMMUNICATION MINISTER SUSPENDED.
Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu
on 30 January suspended Adrian Turicu as telecommunications minister, Romanian
media reported. Turicu is one four ministers appointed in August 1994 by the
chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) to the cabinet, which is
dominated by the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). He was accused of
having illegally replaced the director of the Romtelecom company, a member of
the PDSR, last autumn. A PDSR official said the PUNR will continue to have the
portfolio. But PUNR Deputy Chairman Ioan Gavra was quoted by Jurnalul
national as saying that Turicu's dismissal may mean the end of the current
cabinet. Friction between the PDSR and PUNR has increased since PUNR Chairman
Gheorghe Funar attacked the ruling party in two letters to President Ion
Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu
FRENCH MILITARY DELEGATION VISITS ROMANIA.
A military delegation from
the French Defense Ministry's Strategic Affairs Department, led by General
Alain Faupin, has met in Bucharest with members of the bicameral parliament's
defense commissions, Romanian media reported on 30 January. Faupin said
Romania's integration into NATO will probably not take place in the near
future, since this move needed to be carefully prepared. -- Matyas Szabo
MOLDOVAN-DNIESTER SUMMIT POSTPONED.
A meeting scheduled for 31 January
between Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and president of the self-proclaimed
Dniester republic Igor Smirnov has been postponed, BASA-press and Infotag
reported. According to Moldovan officials, the chief reason for the
postponement was Tiraspol's insistence that Chisinau allow the delivery of
Dniester bank notes printed in Germany through Moldovan territory. At a 30
January meeting with the head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, Snegur deplored
the fact that the Dniester leadership was setting pre-conditions for the
dialogue with Chisinau. He also described the idea of the Dniester's own
currency as "inadmissible" and contrary to the Moldovan constitution. -- Dan
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WANTS PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN TO RESIGN.
of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 30 January demanded that Blagovest Sendov resign
as chairman of the parliament, Pari reported. Sendov, meeting with
Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow the previous day, had said "there is
no necessity for NATO expansion." The SDS issued a declaration saying Sendov
had violated the constitution by expressing a position not approved by the
parliament. On returning to Sofia, Sendov did not deny having made the
statement, but parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Nikolay Kamov
said Sendov had told him in a telephone conversation that he had not made it.
-- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
The SDS National
Coordinating Council (NKS) on 30 January proposed that preliminary elections be
held in order to find a joint opposition candidate for the presidential
elections scheduled for late 1996. The SDS candidate is to be nominated by
secret ballot at a national conference in March. Standart reported that
the NKS adopted another proposal stating that anyone who has opposed SDS
interests or has left the union cannot be nominated as SDS candidate. This
provision is directed against incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev. SDS Chairman
Ivan Kostov will not be a candidate, Standart added. Vasil Mihaylov,
chairman of the New Social Democratic Party and a member of the SDS leadership,
told Trud it would be "high treason" if the opposition did not nominate
a joint candidate. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN ELECTION LAW OPPOSED BY TWELVE PARTIES.
parties in Albania have opposed a new election law scheduled to reach the
parliament on 1 February, Reuters reported on 30 January. The opposition argues
that the law would favor the ruling Democratic Party by increasing the number
of direct candidates to the parliament from 100 to 115 and decreasing the
number elected by proportional representation to 25. Under this provision,
smaller parties would have only a limited chance to gain parliamentary
representation, the opposition claims. Elections are expected to take place in
June. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIA, ISRAEL SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS.
Albanian President Sali
Berisha has signed two economic cooperation agreements with Israeli Premier
Shimon Peres, international agencies reported on 30 January. The agreements
establish "favored-nation-status" between the two countries and provide for
Albanians to be trained in Israel. Berisha urged Israeli businessmen to invest
in Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt
GREECE, TURKEY WITHDRAW FORCES IN ISLET DISPUTE.
The crisis over the
uninhabited islet of Imia eased on 31 January, as Greece and Turkey started
pulling back their naval forces following mediation by U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State Richard Holbrooke, Reuters reported the same day. U.S. President Bill
Clinton and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali urged the two sides to
seek a peaceful solution. Greece agreed to take down its flag from the disputed
islet and withdraw its soldiers, while Turkish troops will leave a nearby islet
they landed on last night. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said a
bilateral agreement was reached and "the biggest units have already been
disengaged." But his Turkish counterpart, Deniz Baykal, denied the existence of
such an agreement, saying the withdrawal simply means a return to the status
quo ante. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave