YELTSIN SACKS BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER.
Ending nearly two weeks of
confusion, Russian President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree dismissing
Admiral Eduard Baltin as commander of the Black Sea Fleet, effective from 27
January. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 22 and 29 January 1996). The Black Sea
Fleet press center told ITAR-TASS on 1 February that Russian Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev had notified Baltin of his removal and given him 10 days to hand
over command to his first deputy, Vice Admiral Gennadii Suchkov, who will serve
as acting commander. Baltin, appointed by Yeltsin and former Ukrainian
President Leonid Kravchuk in December 1992, has long been viewed by many as
hampering the settlement of the dispute over the fleet. His dismissal may
hasten its resolution, perhaps triggering an improvement in Russian-Ukrainian
relations. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA REJECTS FURTHER TALKS WITH DUDAEV.
commander of federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, argued
on 31 January that attempts in 1995 to negotiate a settlement of the Chechen
conflict with President Dzhokhar Dudaev had led nowhere and that the Russian
leadership should concentrate on supporting the government of Prime Minister
Doku Zavgaev, NTV reported. Tikhomirov said he did not plan military operations
against the civilian population and proposed concluding agreements with
villages under the control of Zavgaev's government as a precondition for the
withdrawal of federal troops from those areas. Also on 31 January, Russian
State Duma deputies voted to create a commission uniting all branches of
federal power to work for a settlement of the Chechen conflict. Meanwhile,
talks are still proceeding on conditions for the release of some 70 hostages
still held by Dudaev's field commanders. -- Liz Fuller
YAVLINSKII ISSUES APPEAL TO END WAR IN CHECHNYA.
Besides "a small group
of operatives" in the Kremlin, all of Russia is against the war in Chechnya,
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii wrote in Izvestiya of 1 February. He
proposed a "clear and simple" plan to end the conflict: first withdrawing all
Russian troops from the breakaway republic; then letting Dudaev and Zavgaev
work out a "non-agression pact" among themselves toward gradual
demilitarization; and ultimately holding a referendum in Chechnya to decide the
republic's future status. Yavlinskii also invited political parties, trade
unions, human rights groups, and other anti-war organizations to convene a
Moscow conference on peaceful solutions to the Chechen conflict, which "could
not be ignored" by the authorities. -- Laura Belin
LEBED JOINS RYZHKOV'S PARLIAMENTARY FACTION.
Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr
Lebed has joined the leftist Popular Power, the Duma faction led by former USSR
Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, NTV reported on 31 January. Ryzhkov said that
Lebed would primarily work on military issues. Lebed's decision may spark a
split in the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), for in the past party
leader Yurii Skokov has expressed less support for the communists than has
Lebed. The chairmen of the party's Krasnodar and Rostov branches, Konstantin
Zatulin and Viktor Petrov, have requested that Lebed and Skokov call a meeting
of the KRO's national council shortly to clarify their relationship. -- Robert
ZYUGANOV RANKS NUMBER 2 ON LIST OF 100 LEADING POLITICIANS.
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov ranked directly behind President Yeltsin on a
list of 100 leading politicians published by Nezavisimaya gazeta on 1
February. The paper's panel of experts also see Zyuganov as likely to win the
presidential elections in June. Zyuganov moved past Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin following communist gains in the Duma and the violence in
Dagestan. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was listed as the politician making the
most useful contribution to Russian foreign and domestic policy. -- Robert
ELECTORAL COMMISSION WANTS MORE INFORMATION ON SOSKOVETS' OFFICE.
Aleksandr Ivanchenko, deputy chairman of the Central Electoral Commission
(TsIK), told the Duma on 31 January that the TsIK still has no information on
the office set up to prepare for the presidential elections under First Deputy
Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and has requested more from the presidential
administration, NTV reported. The government has already disclaimed any
knowledge of Soskovets' office, while Soskovets himself failed to make a
scheduled address in the Duma on 31 January. Yeltsin set up the office on 15
January, claiming that it was non-partisan, but deputies have accused him of
using state money to support his campaign, while the TsIK believes that
Soskovets' offices duplicates its functions. Ivanchenko also said he had
received information about Transport Ministry workers who had allegedly been
told that their pay would be withheld if they did not sign petitions supporting
Yeltsin's candidacy. -- Robert Orttung
CHERNOMYRDIN REJECTS NOMINATIONS.
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin called
"unacceptable" the formation of groups to support his candidacy for the
presidency, saying he knew nothing about them, ITAR-TASS reported on 31
January. Groups have appeared in St. Petersburg and Orenburg. The Petersburg
group, which includes members of Russia's Democratic Choice, described
Chernomyrdin as a "goal-oriented, strong-willed, centrist leader" who could
form a cabinet of professionals and stop the war in Chechnya, Segodnya
reported on 31 January. -- Robert Orttung
DUMA IN NO HURRY TO RATIFY START II.
Despite President Yeltsin's request
that the START II treaty be ratified by April, on 31 January the Duma failed to
set a date for a vote on the agreement, instead referring it to three
committees for study, Russian agencies reported. Vladimir Lukin, chairman of
the Duma International Affairs Committee, described the treaty as "extremely
advantageous" for Russia and warned that if it is not ratified, Russia may
become a "secondary nuclear power." He added, however, that ratification should
be postponed to prevent the treaty from becoming a "political football" in the
upcoming presidential elections and said newly elected deputies need more time
to study it. In a subsequent interview with Russian TV, Lukin suggested that
even if the Duma does not ratify the treaty, the Russian government may observe
its terms anyway, as the U.S. did with SALT II in the 1980s. -- Scott Parrish
and Doug Clarke
MIKHAILOV DENIES RUSSIA CHEATING ON URANIUM AGREEMENT.
Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov has refuted recent allegations that inadequate
inspection provisions could have allowed Russia to violate the terms of a
bilateral agreement under which it sells diluted uranium extracted from
dismantled nuclear warheads to the U.S. "We obtain high-grade uranium when
dismantling nuclear weapons," he told ITAR-TASS on 31 January, "then process it
into a low-grade uranium for subsequent deliveries abroad." He explained that
U.S. experts had watched the process at the two plants involved--Tomsk-7 and
Sverdlovsk-44--but said they "would like to make a more thorough analysis."
Mikhailov said that in turn Russia wants assurances that uranium shipped to the
U.S. is not re-enriched, complaining that the U.S. companies involved "seem
reluctant to see Russian experts at their enterprises." -- Doug Clarke and
RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS COMPLETE BOSNIA DEPLOYMENT.
The deployment of the
1,600-man Russian airborne brigade that is participating in the international
Bosnian peace implementation force (IFOR), has been completed, ITAR-TASS
reported on 1 February. Col.-Gen. Yevgenii Podkolzin, a spokesman for the
Russian airborne forces, said it had taken 76 transport flights and 11 trains
to transport the brigade to Bosnia from its central Russian base. The Russian
troops will now begin patrolling their assigned 70-km segment of the line
separating Bosnian government and Bosnian Serb forces in the eastern part of
the Posavina corridor, just south of the Serb-held town of Brcko. -- Scott
NUMBER OF CRIMES COMMITTED BY WOMEN INCREASING.
The crime rate among
women in Russia is rapidly increasing, Interior Ministry official Yurii Kalinin
said on 31 January. ITAR-TASS said women committed about 238,000 crimes in
1995, up from 142,000 in 1993. Over 5,600 women were convicted of premeditated
murder and about 3,350 of grievious bodily harm. The total number of recorded
crimes in 1995 was about 2.75 million. Kalinin attributed the rise in crime
among women to growing unemployment, forced migration, increased juvenile
crime, and general moral decay. -- Penny Morvant
MINERS STRIKE ACROSS RUSSIA.
About half a million miners from over 120
pits and open cast mines went on strike on 1 February, a representative of the
Coal Workers' Union told ITAR-TASS. The coal association Rosugol put the number
of strikers at about 300,000. The miners are demanding payment of over a
trillion rubles in delayed wages and a schedule for state funding of the sector
in 1996. Rosugol Chairman Yurii Malyshev appealed to miners to call off the
strike on 31 January, promising that agreement would soon be reached with the
government on the provision of more than 10 trillion rubles in support for the
coal industry in 1996, Radio Mayak reported. Meanwhile, strikes continued on 31
January at over 1,170 educational institutions in 23 regions of Russia,
Interfax reported. -- Penny Morvant
NUCLEAR ENERGY PRODUCTION UP IN 1995.
Russia's nine nuclear power plants
generated 99.3 billion kilowatt-hours of energy in 1995, a 1.5% increase
compared with 1994, Russian agencies reported on 31 January. This is the first
sign of stabilization in the industry after two years of decline: nuclear
energy production plunged from 120 billion kilowatt-hours in 1992 to 98 billion
in 1994. A spokesman for the Russian atomic energy agency noted that the number
of accidents in the industry declined from 95 in 1994 to 62 in 1995 (of which
only three were classified as serious, compared to eight in 1994). Russia's
total energy production in 1995 was 862 billion kilowatt-hours, a 2% decline
over 1994. -- Natalia Gurushina
AZERBAIJAN JUSTICE MINISTRY TO BAN THREE POLITICAL PARTIES.
Azerbaijan Ministry of Justice decided on 30 January to request that the
country's Supreme Court ban the Democratic Youth Organization, the Labor Party,
and the Gardashlyg Society on the grounds that all three have sought since
their inception to undermine Azerbaijani statehood, Turan reported. The
Democratic Youth Organization was founded by OPON police chief Rovshan
Dzhavadov, who was killed in a confrontation with the Azerbaijani authorities
in March 1995. The activities of the Labor Party and Gardashlyg are said to be
directed by ex-President Ayaz Mutalibov, who is currently living in Moscow. --
INTENSIVE FIGHTING REPORTED IN TAJIKISTAN.
Fighting has broken out in
the Tavil-Dara region, east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, Russian and Western
media reported. Tavil-Dara has been the scene of a stand-off between Tajik
government troops and opposition forces, who captured several villages in
October 1995. According to an opposition spokesman, the latest fighting has
claimed at least 10 lives. Both sides have accused each other of starting the
violence. Meanwhile, Western media reported that in Kurgan-Tyube, the commander
of the Tajik army's first brigade, Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, is distributing
weapons to the population, while about 1,000 citizens of Kabodien, a city
nearby, have surrounded the local police station, trapping police and security
officers. -- Bruce Pannier
TAJIK PEACE TALKS NEAR COLLAPSE IN ASHGABAT.
The renewed hostilities in
Tavil-Dara have prompted the Tajik government representatives currently in
Ashgabat for peace talks to threaten to withdraw from the negotiations,
international media reported. Chief negotiator Talbak Nazarov said the attack
on 30 January was a flagrant violation of the ceasefire agreement signed by the
protagonists in 1994. The ceasefire has been violated on numerous previous
occasions. A spokesman for the opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, claimed the
problems were initiated by the government. The recurrent problem of
redistributing power in the government to include members of the opposition
parties has also hindered progress in Ashgabat. ITAR-TASS reported on 30
January that Tajik Prime Minister Jamshed Karimov said the government was
willing to step down if it would help stabilize the country. -- Bruce Pannier
YELTSIN DENIES RUSSIAN TROOPS INVOLVED IN TAJIK FIGHTING.
Medvedev, press spokesman for Russian President Yeltsin, said on 31 January
that Russian troops in Tajikistan are only involved in guarding military and
other sites for which they are responsible, Russian agencies reported. This
statement came in response to rumors that Russian forces in Tajikistan were
participating in operations in Kurgan-Tyube, Tursun Zade, and Tavil-Dara.
Yeltsin himself said such activity did not conform to the CIS peacekeepers'
mandate. The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed deep concern at the renewed
unrest in Tajikistan and stressed the need for a negotiated settlement. --
NEW POLISH PRIME MINISTER APPOINTED.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski on
1 February appointed Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, deputy Sejm speaker and deputy
leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), as prime minister. Leaders of the
ruling SLD and Polish Peasant Party (PSL) the previous day nominated
Cimoszewicz as their joint candidate. Cimoszewicz, a 45-year-old lawyer, was a
member of the Polish communist party from 1971 until its dissolution in 1990.
He was the SLD's presidential candidate in 1990 and justice minister from
1993-1995. Cimoszewicz replaces Jozef Oleksy, who resigned last month over
allegations that he spied for Moscow. Cimoszewicz is expected to receive the
Sejm's approval with ease, since the SLD-PSL coalition has 303 mandates in the
460-strong legislature. -- Jakub Karpinski
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE.
Yevgenii Primakov arrived in
Ukraine for an official visit on 31 January, Russian and Ukrainian agencies
reported. Talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, were
intended to make progress toward resolving some long-standing bones of
contention. But the issue of Sevastopol's status was kept off of the agenda,
and Primakov again stressed that the division of the Black Sea Fleet was a
precondition to signing the long-delayed treaty on friendship and cooperation.
With regard to NATO expansion, Udovenko said Russian and Ukrainian interests
must be taken into account. He reiterated Ukraine's fears of becoming a buffer
zone between NATO and countries in the CIS Collective Security Pact. Primakov
stressed that Russia categorically opposed any NATO expansion, although it
could not veto such a move. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN MINERS THREATEN NATIONWIDE STRIKE.
Miners at 162 of Ukraine's
254 state-owned coal pits are set to begin a nationwide strike to protest their
employers' failure to pay up to six months of wages, Ukrainian TV reported on
31 January. Workers at another 75 mines have pledged to halt coal deliveries.
In a last-minute effort to prevent the strike, Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk
said on Ukrainian TV that the government has managed come up with 2 trillion
karbovantsi ($10 million) to pay one monthly wage to the miners without
spurring higher inflation. Marchuk blamed the crisis on the lack of
restructuring in the coal sector and the failure of other industries to pay the
mines for coal supplies. He said the state was responsible only for 1 trillion
of 30 trillion karbovantsi wage arrears, adding that President Leonid Kuchma is
ready to issue several decrees aimed at speeding up reforms in the coal
industry. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW REPRESENTATIVE IN CRIMEA.
has appointed Ukrainian lawmaker Dmytro Stepaniuk as his representative in
Crimea, Ukrainian TV reported on 31 January. Stepaniuk, who replaces Valerii
Horbatyi, worked with the Ukrainian and Crimean parliamentary committees on the
new Crimean constitution. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TO ISSUE NEW DECREE ON BUSINESSES.
Lukashenka is preparing to sign a decree on businesses in the private and legal
sectors, Belarusian Radio reported on 31 January. The decree would require all
non-state enterprises to re-register. The president is also drawing up a decree
imposing stricter state control over the manufacture and sale of alcohol and
tobacco products in Belarus. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA SIGNS RADAR PURCHASE LOANS.
Estonian Finance Minister Mart
Opmann on 31 January signed loan agreements with the French Banque Paribas and
the Japanese Marubeni corporation on the purchase of a border radar system from
the French Thomson CSF company, BNS reported. The loans--DM 10.04 million ($6.8
million) and DM 3.94 million, respectively--are to be paid back by 2002. Opmann
said that, unlike the arms deal with Israel several years ago, there had been
an open international tender, which he said set a good precedent for the
future. -- Saulius Girnius
OPPOSITION TO VOTE FOR LITHUANIAN PREMIER'S DISMISSAL.
Leaders of the
opposition parties on 30 January stressed again they will vote for the
dismissal of Adolfas Slezevicius on 8 February, Radio Lithuania reported. But
they also supported calling early parliamentary elections in June, rather than
in October as scheduled. Opposition leader Vytautas Landsbergis will not
participate in the vote, since he does not return from the U.S. until 10
February. Algirdas Kuncinas, a deputy head of the ruling Democratic Labor Party
(LDDP) caucus, said the next day that the caucus make a final decision on 7
February. -- Saulius Girnius
MASS GRAVE IN AUSTRIA MAY CONTAIN BODIES OF HUNGARIAN JEWS.
A mass grave
from World War II, possibly containing Hungarian victims of the Holocaust, has
been found in Lambach, eastern Austria, Hungarian dailies reported on 1
February. Experts--including Simon Wiesenthal, head of the Jewish Documentation
Center in Vienna--say many Hungarian Jews were very likely buried there. The
grave, which is near to a death camp that held Hungarian Jews, was discovered
during the construction of a new hydroelectric plant. Work on the plant has
been suspended since the mass grave was discovered. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
HUNGARIAN TECHNICAL BATTALION LEAVES FOR CROATIA.
The last contingent of
the 400-strong Hungarian technical unit left for Croatia on 31 January to serve
as part of NATO's multinational peace-implementation force, Hungarian dailies
reported. The unit will build a bridge over the Sava River, linking their base
with an area of Bosnia populated mainly by Serbs. Reuters the same day quoted a
NATO commander as saying that the integration of Hungarian troops into the IFOR
force is going well. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BOSNIAN OPPOSITION DEPUTIES MEET ACROSS DIVIDE.
agency and AFP on 31 January reported that Bosnian Serb opposition deputies
from Banja Luka arrived in Sarajevo for a meeting with their counterparts
there. The visitors were led by Liberal Party leader Miodrag Zivanovic and the
hosts by Social Democratic chief Sejfudin Tokic. They issued a declaration that
called for the participation of opposition parties in organizing upcoming
elections, the renewal of economic contacts, the punishment of war criminals,
and the right of refugees to go home. A joint opposition council will be set up
to encourage mutual trust, and an economic delegation from Banja Luka will go
to Tuzla. Zivanovic added: "Democratic forces in Banja Luka believe that our
lives cannot be built on ideas which understand an absolute reduction of life
to ethnic background, which are advocated by the ideology of blood and evil,
and which represent the past and a myth." -- Patrick Moore
CROAT-MUSLIM FEDERATION GETS NEW GOVERNMENT.
Just one day after the
Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina received its first postwar cabinet, one of its
components, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina followed suit. Prime
Minister Izudin Kapetanovic presented the parliament with a list of 12
ministers and deputies reflecting an ethnic balance between Muslims and Croats.
There are also two ministers without portfolio. Most of the posts deal with
purely internal matters, but there is a defense minister, namely Vladimir
Soljic. A Muslim deputy questioned how Soljic could be appointed when he is
also a deputy in the Croatian Sabor, but Federation President Kresimir Zubak
answered that Soljic gave up his job in Zagreb on being appointed to the
cabinet. Oslobodjenje reported on 1 February that the new government is
young by traditional Yugoslav standards, with the average age of the ministers
being 46. * Patrick Moore
MORE "TERRIBLE DISCOVERIES" IN BOSNIA?
Elisabeth Rehn, UN special
reporter for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, told the Stern weekly
magazine about possibility of more "terrible discoveries" of mass graves in
Bosnia, AFP and Nasa Borba reported. She said of the estimated 200-300 mass
graves in Bosnia, some may be attributed to the Croats or Muslims. Besides the
Srebrenica mass graves, she mentioned three graves near the east Croatian town
of Vukovar and others near Banja Luka and Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, some of
which were bigger than 20 square meters. Rehn criticized IFOR for not
patrolling grave sites to protect evidence being destroyed. -- Daria Sito
SNIPER ATTACKS ON THE RISE; MUJAHIDEEN LEAVE.
Two sniper attacks on IFOR
vehicles were reported on 31 January. One British soldier was wounded. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana, speaking in Copenhagen the same day, refused
to blame any of Bosnian factions for the attacks., saying "It's not for us to
point a finger at anybody." He added that 45,000 men of the 60,000-strong IFOR
have already arrived in Bosnia. Meanwhile, a NATO spokesman in Sarajevo said
that the last group of Islamic "mujahideen" have left the country. But NATO
officers say that a number of Islamic volunteers remain in the country after
marrying local women or otherwise integrating with the local population. --
Edmina Babahmetovic, a 53-year-old Muslim woman from
Banja Luka, has returned to her flat, restored to her by a Serbian court.
Reuters said on 1 February that she still receives threats from armed Serbs.
AFP the previous day quoted Pale parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik as
saying the search for the missing may go on for years. The news agency added
that outgoing republican Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic blasted the Bosnian
parliament for not doing anything to stop the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa last
July. Onasa quoted the Croatian deputy prime minister as saying that indicted
war criminal General Tihomir Blaskic will soon be extradited to The Hague. He
is wanted for atrocities against Muslim villagers in Ahmici in April 1993. --
SERBS STONEWALLING IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
AFP on 1 February quoted The
New York Times as saying that Serbian leaders in eastern Slavonia have yet
to admit openly that the region will return to Croatian sovereignty in a
maximum of two years. Serbian authorities continue to use vitriolic language
against Croatia and are conducting a propaganda campaign among Serbian refugees
to encourage them to settle in Eastern Slavonia. The article said it is
suspected that the Serbs have no intention of honoring the agreement on
returning the region to Croatia signed by the Serbian and Croatian presidents
in November. Meanwhile in Zagreb, refugees from Posavina issued a declaration
on 30 January to demand that they be allowed to go home, Onasa reported. The
group, based in Slavonski Brod, said that they want to return to the area,
which has been assigned to the Serbs by the Dayton accords, in the hope of
restoring it to Croatian control. -- Patrick Moore
UN MILITARY OBSERVERS TO BE DEPLOYED IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
Security Council on 31 January authorized the deployment of 100 UN military
observers to eastern Slavonia for six months, beginning end of April, AFP and
Hina reported the same day. The observers will join 5,000 peacekeepers in the
region and oversee the demilitarization of the area. Meanwhile, the UN Peace
Force closed its main headquarters in Zagreb. During its four-year mission in
the former Yugoslavia, 213 Unied Nations soldiers were killed and 1,485
soldiers wounded, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ON THE HAGUE.
Nasa Borba on 1 February
reports Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, as saying
the previous day that the Hague-based International War Crime Tribunal was an
organization that "had to be worked with." The tribunal, he said "is a force in
international relations that must be respected. In the past, Kostunica has had
ties with Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, both
accused war criminals. -- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIA BUYS ARMS FROM ISRAEL.
Delo on 31 January reported that
Ljubljana has agreed to purchase defense communications equipment worth some
$100 million from the Israeli firm Tadiran. Defense Minister Jelko Kacin
reportedly closed the deal on 12 January. Ljubljana is obligated to buy the
system by 1999. Equipment deliveries have already begun. -- Stan Markotich
UN FORCE IN MACEDONIA TO BECOME INDEPENDENT.
Boutros Boutros Ghali on 31 January recommended that UNPREDEP be transformed
into an independent mission reporting directly to the UN headquarters, AFP
reported the same day. So far, UNPREDEP has been reporting to UNPROFOR in
Zagreb. The change, which has to be approved by the Security Council could
become effective on 1 February. UNPREDEP currently has about 1,000 soldiers
stationed in Macedonia. -- Stefan Krause
ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN GERMANY.
Teodor Melescanu on 31 January
paid a one-day official visit to Germany, Romanian and international media
reported. he met with Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, Development Aid Minister
Carl-Dieter Spranger, and Defense Minister Volker Ruehe to discuss Romania's
European and NATO integration as well as the development of bilateral economic
relations. Kinkel stressed that Romania needs to push ahead with domestic
reforms, while Melescanu pointed out that Germany is Romania's most important
trade partner, accounting for 17% of Romanian imports and 18% of its exports.
Talks with Ruehe concentrated on military cooperation, especially on officer
training programs. The German Defense Ministry has agreed to send a senior
logistics officer as an adviser in Bucharest. -- Matyas Szabo
CONTRADICTORY REPORTS ON ROMANIAN MINISTER'S DISMISSAL.
on 31 January quoted President Ion Iliescu's spokesman as saying that the
president has endorsed Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu's decision to sack
Telecommunications Minister Adrian Turicu. He later issued another statement
saying that the president was still considering the case but that no final
decision has been taken. Turicu is a member of the chauvinistic Party of
Romanian National Unity (PUNR), an ally of the ruling Party of Social Democracy
in Romania. Vacaroiu's decision to suspend him is considered an indication of
an imminent split of the parties' coalition. -- Dan Ionescu
DNIESTER PARLIAMENT AGAINST STATE OF EMERGENCY IN ECONOMY.
Soviet of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic on 30 January voted to suspend
a state of emergency in economy beginning the next day, BASA-press reported.
Deputies argued that President Igor Smirnov has so far failed to present an
anti-crisis program, and they urged him to do so by 10 February. The state of
emergency, which had been imposed by presidential decree on 12 January, is
mainly administrative and includes severe restrictions on civic freedoms and
political activities. It is unclear whether the parliament's vote means a de
facto end to the state of emergency. On 31 January, the Dniester government
continued to abide by Smirnov's decree when it banned the use of the Moldovan
leu in cash transactions in the region. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CALLS GOVERNMENT "DANGEROUS."
Zhelyu Zhelev on 31
January launched a renewed attack against the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)
and the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Standart quoted him
as saying that "Bulgaria needs a new, democratic government," since the BSP
government has become "simply dangerous for Bulgaria [and] its national
security and interests." He accused the cabinet of returning to totalitarian
methods of government and tolerating crime and corruption. "You can't fight
corruption when you yourself are corrupt or are in some way associated with
it." Zhelev also criticized the government for alienating some of Bulgaria's
neighbors and not wanting to joint NATO. -- Stefan Krause
JOURNALIST ARRESTED IN ALBANIA.
Altin Hazizaj, a journalist for the
independent daily Koha Jone, on 31 January was arrested after entering a
building in Tirana from which police were evicting former political prisoners.
The prisoners were squatting in the building because of a lack of housing in
the capital. Hazizaj entered the building to report on the case. He has been
charged with beating two policemen, but an OMRI correspondent reports that
Hazizaj does not appear physically capable of beating policemen. The arrest
appears to be the latest in a number of attacks against Koha Jone. Since
26 January, police have been impounding delivery vans belonging to the daily.
-- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECLARES GENOCIDE LAW LEGAL.
Constitutional Court has dismissed an appeal by the Socialist and Social
Democratic Parties against the disputed genocide law (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 18 January 1996), Lajmi i Dites reported on 1 February. The
two parties said the law violated their basic freedoms because it bans
communist-era high-ranking officials from running for public office until 2002.
Under the law, Socialist Party leader and former Premier Fatos Nano and Social
Democratic leader Skender Gjinushi, who was also education minister under
President Ramiz Alia, will be banned. Constitutional Court Chief Judge Rustem
Gjata ruled that the Albanian constitution allowed "reasonable limitations on
the freedom" of people who led repressive regimes. -- Fabian Schmidt
GREEK PRIME MINISTER RECEIVES VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.
Kostas Simitis on 31
January received a vote of confidence from the parliament, Reuters reported the
same day. Some 166 deputies voted for his government, 123 against, and three
abstained. The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement has 168 mandates. In the
parliamentary debate before the vote, Simitis defended both the agreement to
withdraw Greek and Turkish naval forces from the area around the disputed islet
of Imia and the decision to lower the Greek flag there in order to ease
tension. Miltiadis Evert, leader of the conservative New Democracy party,
argued that "the removal of Greek troops and the lowering of the Greek flag
constitute an act of treason." He called on Simitis to resign. -- Stefan
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled byPenny Morvnt and Jan Cleave