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Newsline - January 31, 1996


YELTSIN CONSOLIDATES ADMINISTRATION INTO SIX DEPARTMENTS.
President 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." -- Robert Orttung

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.
Mikhail Monastyrskii, 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.
St. Petersburg's 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 Morvant

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 Gurushina



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.
Canada's Cameco 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. -- Bhavna Dave

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 Tsereteli



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. -- Doug Clarke

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RESTRICTS CHILD ADOPTIONS BY FOREIGNERS.
Ukrainian 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 Lapychak

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. -- Saulius Girnius

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. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT, DEFENSE MINISTER MET WITH MILITARY LEADERS.
Aleksander 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 Cleave

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?
Slovak parliamentary 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 Fisher

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 Sucic

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. -- Michael Mihalka

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. -- Stan Markotich

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 Ionescu

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WANTS PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN TO RESIGN.
The Union 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.
Twelve opposition 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




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