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Newsline - February 6, 1996


CHUBAIS: ZYUGANOV'S ECONOMIC POLICY WOULD LEAD TO "BLOODBATH."
Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov made headlines over the weekend with his assurances to investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, but former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais warned the same Western businessmen on 5 February not to fall for a "classic Communist lie," Russian and Western agencies reported. Chubais claimed that there are "two Zyuganovs," one for domestic and one for foreign consumption, and that the Communist leader's economic policy, which calls for a revision of the privatization program, would lead to a "bloodbath." He also warned that Russia could be in for financial disaster this spring if President Boris Yeltsin goes on a pre-election spending spree. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii had hoped to present himself as the main alternative to Yeltsin at Davos, but he has been eclipsed, first by Zyuganov's speeches and now by Chubais' accusations. -- Laura Belin

ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMO IN GROZNY CONTINUES.
Supporters of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev continued their demonstration in central Grozny on 6 February for the third straight day to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, the resignation of Doku Zavgaev's government and direct talks between Dudaev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Russian media reported. On 5 February, Russian Television reported that Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov had ordered the release of 29 Russian energy sector workers abducted by Chechen forces last month. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Russian Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov said that 12 criminal cases had been instigated in connection with the embezzlement of funds intended for Chechen reconstruction, but that the present Chechen government was not involved. He further argued that the Russian internal troops' presence in Chechnya should be increased as federal troops are gradually withdrawn, according to NTV. -- Liz Fuller

GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIOS DEFINED.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin left for a two-week vacation in Sochi on 3 February, and in his absence the government will be led by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets. A full listing of the division of duties between Soskovets and newly-appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov has been made public, Radio Rossii reported on 5 February. Soskovets will supervise industrial policy, including energy, engineering, transport, and military industry. Kadannikov will monitor financial and monetary affairs, including foreign loans. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kazakov, the new head of the State Privatization Committee, will also answer for the committees dealing with anti-monopoly policy and the securities market. -- Peter Rutland

YELTSIN MEETS PRIMAKOV, LOBOV.
President Boris Yeltsin met Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 5 February and discussed the results of the foreign minister's recent visits to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Ukraine, Russian agencies reported. The visits were Primakov's first as foreign minister, and underline Yeltsin's declared intention to make the CIS a priority in Russian foreign policy. Primakov is scheduled to meet U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 9-10 February in Helsinki. Also on 5 February, Yeltsin met Security Council Secretary and Presidential Representative in Chechnya Oleg Lobov, and discussed "means of normalizing" the situation in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish

NEW DEPUTIES FOR PRIMAKOV.
A presidential decree from 3 February has appointed two new deputies to Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, Russian agencies reported on 5 February. Boris Pastukhov, formerly Deputy Minister, has been promoted to First Deputy Minister. Pastukhov, 62, a former first secretary of the Komsomol, has been a diplomat since 1986 and served as ambassador to Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992. He has recently been involved in talks on the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. He told journalists he will concentrate on resolving conflicts in the CIS. Rear-Admiral Yurii Zubakov, 53, who served as deputy director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), will serve as Deputy Foreign Minister for personnel matters. He had similar duties at the SVR, where he reportedly developed a close relationship with Primakov. -- Scott Parrish

EYE SURGEON RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.
Renowned eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov announced that he will run for president in June, since he believes "the policies of the current president and government are leading us nowhere, into a dead end, to primitive capitalism and gradual transformation into a colonial state," Russian media reported on 5 February. He pledged to double Russia's gross national product within five years if elected. Fedorov's Party of Workers' Self-Government gained a surprising 4% in the December elections, and he was elected to the Duma in a single-member district. Also on 5 February, a group was formed to nominate pro-reform Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov for president, Radio Mayak reported. -- Laura Belin

FOUR MORE QUIT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION.
Four members of the presidential Commission for Human Rights, including Deputy Chairman Sergei Sirotkin, have followed Sergei Kovalev's example and resigned their posts, Russian media reported on 5 February. Kovalev resigned as commission chairman on 23 January. According to Sirotkin, another member also plans to quit. If he does, the commission will have three members: Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Kopylov, former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, and writer Fazil Iskander. The resignations followed the release of the commission's report on human rights in Russia in 1994-1995, which noted "a visible retreat from democratic achievements" in many areas. Among human rights violations, the commission highlighted the increasing militarization of society; the increasing tendency to resolve internal conflicts by force, most notably in Chechnya; and a rise in racial discrimination and intolerance. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN'S REPRESENTATIVES TO PARLIAMENT AND HIGH COURT RESIGN.
President Boris Yeltsin accepted the resignations of his representatives to the parliament and Constitutional Court, Aleksandr Yakovlev and Valerii Savitskii respectively, Russian media reported. Yakovlev reportedly left because he reached retirement age. Though agencies reported that Savitskii was released from the post at his own request, Savitskii said he did not know why he was dismissed, NTV reported. A presidential decree appointed Mikhail Mityukov, a deputy chairman of the previous State Duma and a member of the Russia's Choice faction, to represent the president in the Constitutional Court. -- Anna Paretskaya

OFFICIALS SAY NEW LAW MEANS REAL MONEY FOR MEDIA.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Ignatenko, who is also the director general of the ITAR-TASS news agency, and State Press Committee Chairman Ivan Laptev said that the law on financial support for the mass media will mean several trillion rubles a year for the media, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 2 February. Unlike media subsidies, which in the past benefited a small number of publications, more than 14,000 newspapers, hundreds of television and radio companies, and several thousand printing presses will be eligible for the new tax breaks and financial privileges. Some local tax services have reportedly refused to grant the financial privileges to newspapers, but Ignatenko promised to take steps to educate tax inspectors about the terms of the law. Only erotic publications and those devoted exclusively to advertising are not covered by the law. -- Laura Belin

AVTOVAZ OWES 400 BILLION RUBLES IN WAGE ARREARS.
The troubled AvtoVAZ car manufacturer owes 400 billion rubles ($85 million) in wage arrears and nearly 1 trillion rubles to suppliers, Aleksei Nikolaev, the company's new general director, told reporters in Togliatti on 5 February. Nikolaev replaced Vladimir Kadannikov, who became Russian first deputy prime minister on 25 January. The company's press service said tough cost-cutting measures planned in December would be implemented. AvtoVAZ, which produces Ladas and is one of the ten largest industrial enterprises in Russia, plans to make 650,000 cars in 1996, 170,000-180,000 for export. In 1990, it produced 740,000 cars, 40% of which were exported. -- Penny Morvant

PRIVATIZATION REVENUES MODEST IN 1995.
Receipts from privatization totalled 2.8 trillion rubles ($590 million) in 1995, according to a State Statistics Committee report cited in Russian media on 5 February. Only one-third of the total came from sales of federal property, the remainder was generated by city and regional sales. Moscow alone raised 716 billion rubles ($150 million). The federal budget received 720 billion rubles from privatization, plus another 5.1 trillion ($1.1 billion) in credits and debt repayments as a result of the controversial share-loan auctions in the last two months of 1995. Thus, the auctions brought the government near the 8.7 trillion ruble target for privatization receipts it had set in October. -- Peter Rutland

MOSCOW REGION ATTRACTS MOST FOREIGN INVESTMENT.
Foreign investment into Moscow city and region rose from $189 million in 1994 to $889 million in the first nine months of 1995, Russian news agencies reported on 4 February, citing the State Statistical Committee. The 1995 figure represents 57% of all the foreign capital flowing into Russia. After Moscow, favored destinations were the oil regions of Tyumen ($71 million) and Tatarstan ($63 million), and the industrial cities of Nizhnii Novgorod ($46 million) and Samara ($41 million). -- Natalia Gurushina

GERMAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES CREDITS TO CIS STATES.
The German government has approved export credits worth 2.3 billion marks ($1.5 billion) for Russia and other CIS countries, Western agencies reported on 5 February. Russia will receive 1.5 billion marks of credits, followed by 300 million marks to Ukraine and 200 million marks to Uzbekistan. Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan will receive 100 million marks of credit each. The credits are administered by the state-owned insurance company Hermes. For the first time the credits to Russia will be backed by guarantees from Russian commercial banks rather than from the government. -- Natalia Gurushina and Roger Kangas



CRISES ABATE IN TURSUN ZADE, KURGAN-TYUBE . . .
The commanders of the "mutineers" in Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube began ordering their supporters to withdraw to those cities on 5 January and are collecting weapons distributed to the population, Russian and Western media reported. The Tajik government met some of the rebels' demands by sacking Tajik First Deputy Prime Minister Makhmadsaid Ubadollayev and two others. The Tajik government also agreed to grant amnesty to those involved in the uprisings, another part of the demands. Both groups have withdrawn to the cities they captured at the end of January, although they had advanced to within 20 miles of the capital, Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier

. . . BUT MORE FIGHTING IN TAVIL-DARA.
After a pause due to snowfall in the Garm region, fighting resumed on 5 February between Tajik government forces and opposition fighters near Tavil-Dara, international agencies reported. Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairulloyev said reinforcements were preparing to leave for the area, about 280 kilometers east of Dushanbe. There are conflicting reports on the casualty figures from the battles with between four and six government troops dead and at least 19 wounded. On 2 February it was reported that as many as 100 government soldiers were unaccounted for in the Tavil-Dara region. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT TO "FUNCTION DIFFERENTLY."
Marat Ospanov, who was appointed speaker of the lower house of parliament (Majilis), assured the deputies that the new Kazakhstani parliament will follow "Asian traditions" and function very differently than the two previous ones, Russian TV reported on 4 February. He defended President Nursultan Nazarbayev's dissolving of the parliament in March 1995 after "the entire parliament turned itself into an opposition bloc." Earlier, speaking at the inaugural session of the parliament on 30 January, Nazarbayev warned that he would dissolve the new parliament and dismiss the government if they repeated the mistakes of the old parliament. -- Bhavna Dave

SEMIRECHIE COSSACKS REELECT GUNKIN, SEEK REGISTRATION.
The Semirechie Cossacks re-elected Nikolai Gunkin as their ataman for two years at their congress in Almaty on 5 February, Russian TV reported. Gunkin was released from an Almaty prison last week after serving a two-month sentence for allegedly organizing unsanctioned political rallies. Gunkin said the Semirechie Cossacks are seeking to register as a public organization with the justice ministry and will refrain from holding unsanctioned rallies. The meeting was attended by 135 Cossack leaders from southern oblasts, as well as from the Ust-Kamenogorsk and Pavlodar regions. -- Bhavna Dave

TURKMENISTAN CUTS OFF GAS TO ARMENIA.
Turkmenistan cut off its gas supply to Armenia on 4 February because of Erevan's failure to pay a $50 million debt for natural gas, Russian media reported. In other news, a storm ruptured an underwater gas pipeline in the Caspian Sea, disrupting the flow of gas to many parts of Azerbaijan, Western and Russian media reported on 2 February. -- Lowell Bezanis



UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS CONTINUE STRIKE OVER UNPAID WAGES.
Union leaders have said striking coal miners in Ukraine intend to continue their protest until all their demands are met, UNIAN and Ukrainian TV reported on 5 February. Seventy-two of the country's 227 coal pits remain shut, while workers at another 105 mines have suspended coal deliveries. Union leaders said they will call a general strike if the government does not address their demand for payment of back wages over the next several days. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk, speaking to Ukrainian Radio, said he supported at least one of the strikers' demands--imposing import duties on Russian coal and increasing import tariffs on Polish coal. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE.
Siim Kallas arrived in Kiev on an official visit on 5 February, Ukrainian radio reported. He met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, to discuss bilateral cooperation within the framework of international organizations. ITAR-TASS quoted Kallas saying that although Estonian foreign policy is oriented toward the West, businessmen in Estonia are interested in "activating ties with former Soviet states." He added that Estonia wants to ratify an agreement on free trade with Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus

GERMAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER IN BELARUS.
Angela Merkel, visiting health care centers in Homel on 5 February, said Belarus and Ukraine should decrease their dependence on German humanitarian aid for dealing with health problems resulting from the Chornobyl disaster, ITAR-TASS reported. Merkel added that people living in contaminated areas must undergo medical tests, otherwise the effects of the disaster will continue to plague the population for more than a decade. -- Ustina Markus

DIFFERENCES WITHIN ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION OVER TAXATION PROPOSAL.
Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 5 February admitted there are sharp disagreements between his Coalition Party and the Reform Party over tax questions, BSN reported. Vahi said the RP's proposed bill not to tax income that companies use for investments or for creating new jobs is acceptable only if the RP presents a plan on how to cover the budget shortfall. RP caucus deputy chairman Heiki Kranich said the bill would not cause a budget deficit since it would go into effect only next year. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PREMIER LIKELY TO BE REMOVED.
Seimas chancellor Neris Germanas told Radiocentras on 5 February that he is sure the parliament will support President Algirdas Brazauskas's decree on dismissing Prime Minister Adofas Slezevicius, Radio Lithuania reported. Germanas noted that about half of the members of the ruling Democratic Labor Party caucus will join the opposition in supporting the president's decree. Brazauskas said that if Slezevicius is removed, he will nominate a current minister to take his place in order to speed up the formation of a new government. But he did not say who that minister would be. -- Saulius Girnius

COAL MINERS STRIKE IN POLAND.
Eight coal mines in southern Poland were idle on 5 February following strike calls by the Solidarity trade union, Polish and international media reported. Some 220,000 workers at other mines in the southern coal mining district of Silesia rallied in support of the strike. The miners are demanding bonus payments for 1995 and government guarantees that planned changes in social security policy will not affect their right to retire after 25 years' service. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH-RUSSIAN ROUNDTABLE IN WARSAW.
Several dozen Polish and Russian foreign policy experts met in Warsaw last weekend to discuss bilateral relations, Polish media reported. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati said Poland has already decided for NATO membership, and all the Polish delegates--including the post-communists-- argued that entering NATO is in Poland's interests. The Russian participants, however, argued that NATO extension opposes Russian interests. -- Jakub Karpinski

FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT'S INSTITUTE REGISTERED.
The Lech Walesa Institute was registered by a Warsaw court on 2 February, Polish media reported. The foundation's aims are to preserve the national inheritance, support the decentralization of the state, and disseminate the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Aides and supporters of former President Lech Walesa, including former Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski and former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski, are members of the foundation's board. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH OFFICIALS FINALLY MEET WITH ROMANI REPRESENTATIVES.
Minister without portfolio Igor Nemec and Labor Minister of Labor and head of the Council on Minorities Jindrich Vodicka met with Romani representatives in Prague on 2 February, CTK reported. Discussions focused on unemployment and job opportunities among Romani. Executive Chairman of the Romani Democratic Congress Ivan Vesely said this was the first serious meeting between Romani and government representatives since 1993. Nemec called the meeting "informative" but added that Romani issues would be better resolved at the municipal level. Anti-racist measures taken by local authorities have frequently been considered inadequate. -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK PARTY TO TAKE ANTI-COMMUNIST LAW TO COURT.
Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) spokesman Milan Istvan on 5 February said his party will lodge a complaint with the Constitutional Court against the law on the immorality and illegality of the communist regime. Istvan said the SDL "condemns all the crimes and groundless repression committed under the previous regime." But he added that the law is questionable from legal and political standpoints since it allows for retroactive prosecution, which he said is "anti-constitutional," and bans the ideology of the previous political system, Narodna obroda reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON BANKING.
Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 5 February that the state does not guarantee deposits in any of the country's banks. Meciar noted that by introducing the protection of bank deposits, the government and parliament "will correct a situation that has been bad for a long time," although "no one would have said so out loud." According to Pravda, the National Bank of Slovakia approved a bill guaranteeing deposits a year ago, but the government has not yet addressed the issue. -- Sharon Fisher

PROMINENT HUNGARIANS CRITICIZE DRAFT SCREENING LAW.
More than 100 prominent Hungarians from Hungary and abroad on 2 February addressed an open letter to Hungarian authorities warning that the cabinet's draft screening law is lacking in various respects, Hungarian media reported. The signatories pointed out that the draft law allows citizens only to look at files kept by the internal security service, while those maintained by other intelligence services will remain inaccessible. The bill is soon to be discussed in the parliament. Among the signatories to the letter were chairman of the Slovak Coexistence movement Miklos Duray, poet Gyorgy Faludy, historian Ferenc Fejto, philosopher Agnes Heller, and Bishop Laszlo Tokes from Romania. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT ARRESTS SERBIAN GENERAL FOR WAR CRIMES.
International media report on 6 February that a Bosnian Serb general, a colonel, and six other high-ranking officers have been arrested in recent days by government forces. When and under what circumstances the developments took place is unclear, but the BBC said that the general took a wrong turn in a Sarajevo suburb. News agencies, however, suggested that the mainly Muslim forces grabbed the Serbs en route to a meeting with IFOR. The Bosnian Serb general staff has protested the arrests, saying they violate the Dayton treaty's provisions on freedom of movement. General Djordje Djukic was one of General Ratko Mladic's commanders who kept Sarajevo under siege. The International Herald Tribune quotes former Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying that the arrest and prosecution of war criminals must be a top priority issue. -- Patrick Moore

BIG MONEY NEEDED FOR BOSNIAN RECONSTRUCTION.
Nasa Borba quotes Bosnian Prime Minster Hasan Muratovic as stressing that Bosnia needs a lot of money and soon. Muratovic estimates the bill at $3 billion per year for the next five years, and he quoted a World Bank projection of $5.1 billion in emergency aid for the infrastructure alone. Onasa on 30 January had cited the transportation minister as saying that if he gets the money, his first priority will be to rebuild the Ploce-Mostar-Zenica-Doboj-Tuzla road connection and then the railroad that links Ploce via Doboj to Hungary, Banja Luka, and Tuzla. He dismissed ideas about building a new railroad system independent of the Republika Srpska and called for the reconstruction of the prewar route. -- Patrick Moore

IFOR DEPLOYS MORE TROOPS IN SARAJEVO.
IFOR has deployed additional troops in the former Serb-held areas of Sarajevo to reassure the local population, international and local media reported. Those areas are due to be handed over to the Bosnian government by March 20. The decision, taken by the international community's Carl Bildt, has angered the Bosnian government. But US Dayton peace accord negotiator Richard Holbrooke dismissed Bosnian government concerns. Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, on 5 February, Holbrooke said the issue was not "critical." Meanwhile, only 215 UN policemen out of the expected 2,000 have been deployed. -- Michael Mihalka

U.S.-EU DIFFERENCES CONTINUE OVER BOSNIAN RECONSTRUCTION.
The EU and the U.S. still have considerable differences over the allocation of funds for Bosnian reconstruction, international media reported. Holbrooke denied on 5 February that there was a "crisis" in EU-U.S. relations but admitted that a "funding problem" exists. The World Bank wants donor countries to confirm pledges for the estimated $5.1 billion needed for Bosnian reconstruction before a scheduled conference in April. Pledges for only $520 million were made at a December meeting. Holbrooke also stressed Bosnia was the "testing ground for what we used to call the West's post-Cold War foreign policy." -- Michael Mihalka

RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER ON SANCTIONS, WAR CRIMES.
Premier Radoje Kontic has said that Belgrade will cooperate with the International UN War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 6 February. But he has also stressed that Belgrade cannot be held responsible for the actions of Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, since the rump Yugoslavia has "no jurisdiction" over them. Kontic added that the issue of lifting sanctions against rump Yugoslavia must not be linked to the issues of war crimes and extradition. -- Stan Markotich

KOSCHNIK ON SOLUTION TO MOSTAR REORGANIZATION.
Hans Koschnik, the EU administrator of Mostar, on 4 February met with the president and vice president of the Bosnian Federation as well as an aide to the international community's Carl Bildt to inform them of his proposal to reorganize Mostar into "six municipalities and one central district,"
Hina reported.
Koschnik has also met with the mayors of the western and eastern parts of Mostar--Mijo Brajkovic and Safet Orucevic--to discuss the issue. The full details of Koschnik's proposal are to be announced on 6 February. Brajkovic said that the Croatian side cannot accept the term "district" but would agree to the idea of joint authorities in the same building. Orucevic told Oslobodjenje that the Muslim side agrees in principal with the proposal. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SUIT TO BE FILED AGAINST TUDJMAN?
Editor of the magazine Erasmus Slavko Goldstajn has warned Croatian President Franjo Tudjman that he will file a suit against him if he goes ahead with his plan to turn the Jasenovac Memorial Center into a memorial center for Croatian war victims, Nasa Borba and Politika reported, citing the Croatian weekly. In an open letter to Tudjman, Goldstajn said that Tudjman's plans are strongly opposed by the Jewish community in Croatia. He noted that some 17,000 Jews were killed in Jasenovac and that the total number of victims of fascist terror there amounted to 80,000. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MACEDONIAN TV DIRECTOR FIRED, MINISTER RESIGNS IN PROTEST.
Macedonian Radio and TV Director-General Melpomeni Korneti on 4 February dismissed the director of the Macedonian TV station Saso Ordanoski, MIC reported the next day. Korneti argued that Ordanoski was fired for disrupting scheduled programming and for his editorial policy. He also charged Ordanoski with failing to uphold the "principle of truthful and objective information." But the editorial board of Macedonian TV said Ordanoski's dismissal was "contrary to the principles of freedom of the press and to international standards...oriented toward a democratic and free press." Meanwhile, Minister without portfolio and government spokesman Ismail Gjuner on 5 February resigned in protest at Ordanoski's dismissal, Nova Makedonija reported. Gjuner said that Ordanoski had been good not only for Macedonian journalism but also for the country's "young democracy." -- Fabian Schmidt

MONTENEGRIN ALBANIANS PROTEST DISCRIMINATION OVER INFRASTRUCTURE EXPENDITURES.
Secretary of the Democratic Alliance of Albanians in Montenegro Muhamet Nikaj has said the current Montenegrin government is severely discriminating against its Albanian community, the BBC reported, citing Albanian TV on 3 February. Nikaj argued that Albanian-inhabited areas near Ulcinj, Plav, and Gusinje have been largely left out of any plans for infrastructure development. He added that the Montenegrin authorities are continuing to "ghettoize" Albanians in various ways. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION SUBMITS REPORT ON 1989 REVOLT.
The parliamentary commission investigating the bloody 1989 anti-communist revolt has submitted its report to the Senate, according to Romanian media on 5 February. Senator Valentin Gabrielescu of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, who heads the commission, said the report was incomplete since investigators failed to locate the secret bank accounts of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Gabrielescu repeated accusations that Romania's current leaders and other ex-Communists had "hijacked" the December 1989 popular uprising. The government mouthpiece Vocea Romaniei on 6 February responded by decrying "fabrications by some people and publications about the Romanian revolution." -- Dan Ionescu

STRIKES IN ROMANIA.
Some 40,000 coal miners on 6 February staged a one-day strike to demand better social conditions and higher wages, Romanian media reported. The strike took place after representatives of miners' trade unions failed to reach an agreement with government officials. The miners have threatened an all-out strike on 12 February if their demands are not satisfied. In a separate development, some 4,500 employees at the Rodae car plant in Craiova on 5 February went on a warning strike and announced plans for an unlimited strike later this week in support of demands for higher pay. The technical staff of Romania's national air company have also threatened a warning strike if negotiations with the Labor Ministry over a collective work contract fail. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO DISMISS CABINET.
Mircea Snegur on 5 February said cabinet ministers will be dismissed if no solution is found by 1 April to pay pension and pay arrears to the population, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Snegur did not rule out the possibility that the entire cabinet would be dismissed. He noted that the huge arrears may provoke mass protests and thus destabilize the country. Snegur's comments were made during a meeting with cabinet ministers in charge of economic and social issues. According to the president's office, pension arrears total 100 million lei ($22 million) while wage arrears amount to 200 million lei. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN COURT INVALIDATES KARDZHALI ELECTIONS.
The Kardzhali Regional Court on 5 February invalidated the election of Mayor Rasim Musa and the city council, Bulgarian media reported. Musa, a member of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS), was elected last November by a margin of 658 votes over the Bulgarian Socialist Party candidate. The BSP, alleging irregularities such as the casting of double votes and voting by non-residents, had demanded that the elections be declared void. The court ruled that there were 1,217 cases of illegal voting in the mayoral run-off and 827 in the city council elections. DPS Chairman Ahmet Dogan said his party will recall its mayors and councillors nationwide and stage protests in Kardzhali. -- Stefan Krause

HOLBROOKE CANCELS VISIT TO GREECE, TURKEY, CYPRUS.
The U.S. State Department on 5 February announced that Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke has canceled visits to Athens, Ankara, and Nicosia, AFP reported the same day. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, who was blamed by the opposition for backing down in the recent crisis with Turkey over an Aegean islet, had made it clear that Holbrooke would not be welcome in Athens. At the same time, Simitis announced that Athens will undertake a major diplomatic initiative to win support from European and NATO partners in its dispute with Turkey. Holbrooke's visits were aimed at reducing tension between Greece and Turkey and to lay the groundwork for a possible new peace initiative on Cyprus. In related news, Greece has protested to Turkey over an incident in which Turkish coast guard boats allegedly fired on two Greek fishing vessels. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Jan Cleave






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