FIGHTING CONTINUES IN GROZNY.
Fighting between Chechen militants and
Russian federal troops continued at various locations throughout Grozny on 7
March. Russian media offered contradictory assessments of the situation,
quoting Russian Interior Ministry sources as claiming that by evening the
situation had "somewhat stabilized" and a representative of the Russian
military as estimating that the militants controlled one third of the city.
Estimates of both military and civilian casualties are similarly inconsistent,
but number in the hundreds. Meeting in Moscow on 7 March, the Russian Security
Council agreed on the broad outline of a plan for regulating the Chechen
conflict. Questioned by NTV, President Boris Yeltsin declined to disclose
details but promised to do so in a special TV appearance in late March. -- Liz
YABLOKO PUSHING NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko
faction is once again calling for the State Duma to hold a vote of no
confidence in the government following the latest outbreak of fighting in
Grozny, Radio Rossii reported on 7 March. A statement issued by Yabloko
deputies noted that while the president and prime minister claim publicly to be
searching for a peaceful end to the Chechen conflict, Russian forces are
carrying out large-scale military operations in the republic. -- Laura Belin
YELTSIN CONGRATULATES WOMEN. . .
President Boris Yeltsin told a Kremlin
reception on 6 March that the future of Russia is in women's hands, Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported. In his speech--in honor of International Women's Day
(8 March)--Yeltsin stressed the role of women in bringing up children and said
that policies to improve the lot of children are a top priority. The position
of many children in Russia has deteriorated since the collapse of communism,
because of falling living standards and an increase in the number of broken
homes and domestic violence. -- Penny Morvant
. . .WOMEN EARN LESS.
Women make up 87% of employed Russian urban
residents with a personal income of less than 100,000 rubles ($21) a month,
according to the findings of a poll by the Public Opinion Fund released on the
eve of International Women's Day. The higher the income bracket, the lower the
proportion of women. ITAR-TASS said that women constitute 71% of those with
earnings between 200,000 and 400,000 rubles; 57% of those earning 400,000 to
600,000 rubles; 45% of those with incomes between 600,000 and 1 million; 38% of
those earning from 1 to 1.5 million; and only 32% of those earning more than
1.5 million. The 8,869 people surveyed by the poll all have a higher or
secondary specialized education. -- Penny Morvant
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT PROTECTS JUDGES.
The Constitutional Court has ruled
that judges' immunity from criminal prosecution is an exception to the general
principle that all citizens are equal before the law, ITAR-TASS and NTV
reported on 7 March. Immunity for judges is "not a personal privilege," but "a
guarantee of judicial independence," the ruling said. However, complaints
against judges can be heard by boards of judicial experts; according to NTV,
last year 54 judges accused of misconduct were stripped of their posts by
councils of their peers. -- Laura Belin
NEMTSOV REJECTS GAIDAR'S PROPOSAL TO RUN FOR PRESIDENCY.
Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov has said he will not run for president, NTV and
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 7 March. Russia's Democratic Choice leader
Yegor Gaidar said that Nemtsov was the only democratic candidate who could
offer a viable challenge to the Communists. Meanwhile, Nemtsov has proposed
that limits be placed on presidential authority to mitigate the effect of a
Communist victory in the election, NTV reported on 7 March. Nemtsov said the
Communist deputies in the Duma should support his proposal since the Communist
Party itself says that it wants to eliminate the presidency. -- Anna
YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW GOVERNORS.
On 7 March, President Yeltsin appointed
Oleg Savchenko, his representative in Kaluga Oblast, to the post of the oblast
head of administration, ITAR-TASS reported. Earlier this week, Yeltsin
appointed Anatolii Yefremov, deputy head of the Arkhangelsk Oblast
administration, to the post of oblast governor. The previous Kaluga governor
resigned in January due to a government reshuffle following the Communist
victory in the Duma elections; the former Arkhangelsk administration head was
fired in February, along with some other regional leaders, for their alleged
misuse of budget funds. -- Anna Paretskaya
IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS MOSCOW.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali
Akbar Velayati met in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov,
and President Yeltsin on 7 March, international media reported. After
discussing the Tajik and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts, Primakov declared that
Russia and Iran share a mutual interest in the "stability of frontier regions."
Primakov defended Velayati's denial that Iran had any links with the recent
suicide bombings in Israel, while Velayati added that Iran opposes any
expansion of NATO. Yeltsin later urged Velayati to use Iran's influence to
combat international terrorism, but backtracking from earlier comments that
Chechen fighters are trained in Iran, he "positively assessed" Iran's position
on the Chechen conflict. -- Scott Parrish
DID RUSSIA CONDUCT A NUCLEAR TEST?
U.S. officials on 7 March offered
varying assessments of allegations published in the The Washington Times
that Russia conducted a nuclear test in mid-January. The paper, citing
anonymous sources at the U.S. Defense Department, said Russia detonated a small
nuclear device at its Novaya Zemlya test site, breaking a moratorium on nuclear
tests observed since 1992. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns denied
that Russia had conducted a nuclear test, saying "we believe the moratorium
continues." Defense Secretary William Perry, however, told a Congressional
hearing that "some evidence" suggests that a test may have taken place. --
RUSSIA BLASTS NATO EXPANSION PLANS AT DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE.
Grigorii Berdennikov, head of the Russian delegation to the 38-nation UN
Conference on Disarmament, declared that plans for the eastward expansion of
NATO "poison the entire international climate," Russian and Western agencies
reported on 7 March. Speaking at a Geneva meeting of the conference, which is
negotiating a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), he also condemned
proposals by Republican members of the U.S. Congress that the U.S. withdraw
from the 1972 ABM Treaty. While Berdennikov said Russia hopes to conclude a
CTBT agreement in 1996, his comments suggest that Russia intends to link NATO
expansion with arms control issues. -- Scott Parrish
NUCLEAR PLANTS POSE "UNACCEPTABLE" RISK.
Senior Russian ecologist
Aleksei Yablokov said on 6 March that Russia's nuclear plants pose an
"unacceptable risk" and that massive investment is required to bring safety
standards up to those in the West, Reuters reported. Yablokov, who heads the
Security Council's ecological safety commission, said several NGOs had joined
forces to lobby for glasnost in the nuclear industry. An international nuclear
safety summit, to be attended by President Yeltsin and G-7 leaders, will take
place in Moscow on 19 April, a week before the 10th anniversary of the
Chornobyl nuclear catastrophe. Environmental groups such as Yablokov's Center
for Russian Environment Policy and Norway's Bellona Foundation will hold their
own meeting on the eve of the summit. They will focus on secrecy in the nuclear
sphere and the aftermath of Chornobyl. -- Penny Morvant
YELTSIN SIGNS ANTI-TERRORIST DECREE.
President Yeltsin signed a decree
on strengthening anti-terrorist measures on 7 March, Russian media reported.
The decree orders government agencies to formulate a federal law on
anti-terrorism in two months, and instructs the Foreign Intelligence Service to
uncover the international connections of Russian terrorist groups. The decree
also urges the mass media to show restraint when covering terrorist acts and
anti-terrorist operations. -- Constantine Dmitriev
ANTI-TERRORIST EXERCISES DISRUPT LIFE IN PERM.
An anti-terrorist drill
in the Urals city of Perm confused the local authorities, police, and media,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 7 March. Five Federal Security Service
(FSB) officers, impersonating terrorists, seized a local oil-refinery and took
the staff hostage. They said the building was mined, demanded a $2 million
ransom, and threatened to begin killing hostages. The local police forces, who
were not informed that the building was "mined," stormed the building.
Meanwhile, four other FSB officers in civilian clothes armed with Kalashnikov
rifles crossed the city by tram and seized the oblast administration building.
Perm Deputy Governor Valerii Shchukin, a former FSB colonel, said that he plans
to hold similar drills every three months. -- Constantine Dmitriev
NEW PRESIDENTIAL DECREE ON LAND OWNERSHIP.
President Yeltsin signed a
new decree "On the constitutional rights of the citizen to land" on 7 March,
Radio Rossii reported. The decree aims to clarify the property rights of the
more than 40 million citizens who have land plots and 12 million rural workers
who have been given land shares. Progress in land reform is a condition of IMF
lending, but the new Land Code has been held up in parliament for more than a
year by Communist and Agrarian deputies who oppose private land ownership. The
decree, which only applies to land allocated before 1991, forbids local
authorities from levying lease payments or forcing land holders to buy out
their plot. It is not clear to what extent plot owners are free to sell their
land to new owners. -- Peter Rutland
ALEKSASHENKO DENOUNCES "ZERO" AGREEMENT WITH BELARUS.
Central Bank First
Deputy Chairman Sergei Aleksashenko denounced the writing off of mutual debts
between Russia and Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 March. The "zero"
agreement, under which Russia waived the $910 million it was owed for gas
supplies, was signed by the presidents of the two countries on 27 February.
Aleksashenko said Gazprom has not been compensated for its lost revenues, which
may limit its ability to pay taxes. Aleksashenko also stated that national
import tariffs may not in fact be raised, despite last week's announcement of a
20% increase. Also on 7 March, Gazprom signed an agreement with the Moldovan
government on the repayment of the latter's $380 million debt, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Natalia Gurushina
AFGHAN PRESIDENT VISITS TAJIKISTAN.
Afghan President Burhanaddin Rabbani
arrived in Dushanbe on 7 March to discuss with Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov the situation on their common border, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported the same day. The Tajik-Afghan border region has been the scene of
clashes between CIS border guards and forces of the Tajik opposition who are
based in Afghanistan since the 1992 civil war in Tajikistan. The border is also
one of the first transit points for narcotics being smuggled from the area to
markets in Europe and the U.S. The presidents also discussed the repatriation
of some 8,000-10,000 Tajik refugees still in Afghanistan. -- Bruce
OSCE AND U.S. DELEGATIONS IN UZBEKISTAN.
An OSCE mission under Audrey
Glover and a U.S. delegation headed by James Collins are visiting Tashkent,
Russian, and Western media reported on 6 and 7 March. The OSCE delegation met
with Uzbek Human Rights Commissioner Shavkat Urazayev, Justice Minister
Sirajuddin Mirsafayev, and representatives of the court system and Foreign
Ministry to discuss human rights violations and drug control policies. The
Collins mission met with Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov to discuss the
implementation of military conversion strategies in Uzbekistan. Uzbek TV
reported that the U.S. visit is proof that Uzbek-U.S relations "have great
potential for long-term development." -- Roger Kangas
PROTESTS IN EAST KAZAKHSTAN OVER NUCLEAR TESTS COMPENSATION.
in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk in East Kazakhstan Oblast staged a mass protest
demanding the immediate payment of pensions and compensation for those who
suffered from the effects of Soviet nuclear tests conducted in the neighboring
test-site of Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstani TV reported on 5 March. Similar
protests over the non-payment of pensions last November resulted in the
replacement of the oblast head (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 December 1995).
-- Bhavna Dave
WAGE ARREARS IN KAZAKHSTAN AMOUNT TO HALF A BILLION DOLLARS.
enterprises in Kazakhstan owe about $485 million to their employees as wage
arrears and the figure is steadily rising, Kaztag reported on 7 March.
Kazakhstani First Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin said that about
70% of the debt-ridden enterprises have not paid their employees for at least
three months. . Wage arrears have led to numerous strikes by miners and other
workers in recent months. A two-week-old hunger strike by 28 miners who had not
been paid for 15 months by a mining enterprises in Southern Kazakhstan ended
last month when a Swiss company, the mining enterprise's foreign partner,
offered to pay. -- Bhavna Dave
CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS ACCUSE UKRAINE OF SMOTHERING AUTONOMY.
members of the Crimean legislature have charged the Ukrainian government with
attempting to strip the region of its autonomy in the new draft Ukrainian
constitution, international agencies reported on 7 March. The latest draft of
the country's new post-Soviet constitution was published in national newspapers
on 7 March, which prompted the response from Crimean deputies. They complained
that the document removes all references to Crimea as a republic and replaces
the regional constitution with a charter. Legislators have called an emergency
session of the Crimean assembly on 10 March and threatened to consider holding
a region-wide referendum on Crimea's status. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
NO PROGRESS IN RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN OIL TALKS.
Russian deputy Fuel and
Energy Minister Piotr Nidzelsky has called for continued talks with Ukraine's
State Oil and Gas Committee over Kiev's tariff hike for exporting oil through
its Druzhba pipeline, Segodnya reported on 6 March. Russia claims the
tariff increase from $4.60 to $5.20 was a unilateral move on Kiev's part and
refuses to pay more than $5 for every ton of oil piped through 100 kilometers
of Ukraine. Kiev insists that Moscow was given fair notice of the increase, and
says the new rate is still well below the world price of $8. Nidzelsky said if
Ukraine refused to yield, Russia would be forced to look into alternative means
of transporting its oil to the West, including building a new pipeline
bypassing Ukraine. Such a pipeline would reportedly cost $100 million, making
it a conceivable option. -- Ustina Markus
OFFICIALS ON RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN "ZERO OPTION."
First deputy chairman of
Russia's Central Bank, Sergei Aleksashenko, criticized last month's "zero
option" agreement between Russia and Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 March.
Under the agreement, Russia canceled Belarus's energy debt and other credits
owed to Moscow, while Belarus canceled its demands for compensation for nuclear
materials in the nuclear weapons removed from its soil. According to
Aleksashenko, the agreement deprives Gazprom of revenues which would have been
taxed and contributed to the country's budget. Belarusian deputy Foreign
Minister Ivan Antonovych defended the "zero option" as an investment by Russia
into Belarus's economy. -- Ustina Markus
POLISH PRESIDENT AMENDED THE LAW ON PARTY PROPERTY.
Kwasniewski overrode Lech Walesa's July 1994 veto and signed amendments to the
law on the confiscation of property belonging to the former Polish United
Workers' Party (PZPR) by the Social Democracy of Poland (SdRP), Polish dailies
reported on 8 March. Although the Constitutional Tribunal in 1992 stated that
there was no succession between the parties, the amendments make the SdRP the
formal heir to the PZPR. The law requires former PZPR property to be taken
stock of so it can be decided how to divide it between the Treasury and the
SdRP. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS POLAND.
Danish Foreign Minister Niels
Helveg Petersen on 7 March assured Poland of Denmark's backing for its
integration in the EU and NATO, Polish and international media reported the
next day. According to Petersen, negotiations on the admission of new members
to NATO should begin as scheduled in 1997. Petersen also spoke with his Polish
counterpart Dariusz Rosati about developing economic ties between both
countries. The bilateral trade volume in 1995 exceeded $1.3 billion, and Danish
investment in Poland has reached $150 million. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
A STEM/MARK poll showed Czech National Bank Governor
Josef Tosovsky as the country's most popular personality, pushing Trade and
Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy into second place, Czech media reported on 8
March. Also in the top 15 were former Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, Foreign
Minister Josef Zieleniec, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Nova TV director
Vladimir Zelezny, and former Czechoslovak Prime Minister, Marian Calfa, an
ethnic Slovak now living in Prague. A January opinion poll, showed that the
most popular Czech daily is Mlada fronta Dnes, with 20.8% of respondents
saying it is their favorite. Second is Pravo with 15%, followed by
Blesk with 7.4%. In other news, according to a report by the Czech
Statistical Office released on 7 March, the number of children born in 1995 in
the Czech lands was fewer than 100,000 for the first time in 200 years,
contributing to a drop of nearly 12,000 in the country's population. -- Sharon
NURSES TO JOIN CZECH HEALTH CARE WORKERS' STRIKE.
The nurses' trade
union on 7 March announced that it will join doctors in a strike scheduled for
25-26 March, meaning that all health sector trade union organizations have
joined the strike, Pravo reported. The nurses union is demanding that
nurses' pay reaches 120% of the average salary, which would mean a 40% increase
over the current level. Private ambulance operators, who are demanding higher
rates per kilometer, have also decided to strike. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PRESIDENT REJECTS NOMINEE FOR U.N. AMBASSADOR.
Michael Kovac on 7
March refused to appoint Labor and Social Affairs Minister Olga Keltosova as
Ambassador to the U.N., a post which has been empty for two years, Slovak media
reported. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar nominated her, emphasizing that a
strong candidate is needed because Slovakia could chair the organization in
1997. Meeting with Keltosova, Kovac said he was prepared to appoint her on the
condition that she publicly distance herself from the government's call last
September for his resignation. As ambassador, Keltosova would represent not
only the state, but also the president, Kovac stressed. Keltosova
"categorically rejected" Kovac's demand, leading the president to reject her
appointment. Meciar called Kovac's refusal "regrettable" and promised to react.
Keltosova was the first to call for Kovac's dismissal after his March 1994
speech which led to a no-confidence vote in Meciar's previous cabinet. --
ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT IN HUNGARY.
Peter Medgyessy, Hungary's new finance
minister, on 7 March expressed satisfaction with budgetary developments this
year, Hungarian and international media reported. Hungary ended the first two
months of 1996 with a budget surplus of 23 billion forints ($157.5 million).
The country's monthly inflation rate dropped from 4.4% in January to 2-2.2% in
February, and the cabinet aims to limit annual inflation to 20% in 1996, down
from 22.5% last year. Although GDP growth dropped slightly in February, dynamic
export growth and satisfactory imports create a good basis for the 2% GDP
growth projected for this year, Medgyessy said. He warned that overspending by
local authorities could generate inflation, and he instructed the cabinet to
work out anti-inflation measures. -- Sharon Fisher
ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT SENDS CONDOLENCES ON CHECHEN DEATH.
Support Group on 7 March sent a letter of condolences, signed by 64 of the 101
deputies, to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev on the death of his son-in-law
Salman Raduev, ETA and BNS reported The letter called Raduev, who headed the
hostage taking operation at the Kizlyar hospital in January, "an outstanding
freedom fighter." The Russian foreign and interior ministries reacted angrily
calling the letter "blasphemy" because Raduev was a terrorist. The Estonian
Foreign Ministry noted that the letter was not an official statement by the
parliament since it was not adopted following the necessary procedures. The
ministry also stressed that it "continues to condemn strongly terrorism
anywhere in any form and for whatever purpose." -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIA'S ENERGY PROBLEMS.
Energy Minister Saulius Kutas on 7 March
said that the Ignalina atomic power plant reduced its daily output from 2,400
megawatts to 1,700 megawatts due to a shortage of fuel, Radio Lithuania
reported. The fuel cassettes are paid by exporting electricity to Kaliningrad.
Gazprom, to which Lithuania owes $36 million for natural gas, threatened to
reduce daily shipments from 11 March to 2.8 million cubic meters if it was not
paid at least $16 million. Daily gas shipments were reduced from 12 million
cubic meters in January to the current 5.5 million cubic meters. Kutas doubted
that Lithuania would be able to find the money in time and gas supplies would
be limited to home consumers. -- Saulius Girnius
US WANTS SERBIA TO TURN WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS OVER TO THE HAGUE.
International news agencies reported on 7 March that US State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns asked Belgrade to turn accused Bosnian Serb war
criminals Drazen Erdemovic and Radoslav Kremenovic over to the International
War Crimes Tribunal. According to Burns, the U.S. "urges [Serbian] President
Slobodan Milosevic to transfer the men as requested and to cooperate fully with
the tribunal." Meanwhile, Tanjug reported that Erdemovic had been arrested on 2
March by Serbian police for participation in "mass killings" of civilians
following the fall of the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. The Serbian
prosecutor's office said Kremenovic is in custody in rump Yugoslavia for
sheltering Erdemovic. It is believed that Erdemovic's testimony may be key in
linking Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic to
atrocities. On 8 March AFP reported that the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia issued an arrest warrant for Milan Martic for
ordering the bombing of Zagreb in 1995, in which civilians were reportedly
targeted. -- Stan Markotich
SERBIAN OPPOSITION PREPARES FOR DEMONSTRATIONS.
Nasa Borba on 8
March reported that several opposition parties are urging public demonstrations
on 9 March to protest the government of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
The Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, and the Civic Alliance have
organized the rally largely to commemorate the 9 March 1991 Belgrade rally,
during which some 100,000 people protested Milosevic's authoritarian rule. At
that time, Milosevic responded to the protestors by summoning police, and at
least two people were killed. Opposition party leaders are urging supporters to
not be intimidated by the authorities. Some opposition party leaders, notably
Democratic Party of Serbia head Vojislav Kostunica, have said they will not
participate in organized events. -- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIA PREPARED TO APPLY FOR EU MEMBERSHIP.
Reuters on 7 March
reported that the Slovenian government has now gone on record as saying that it
will apply directly for membership in the European Union if it does not succeed
in signing an agreement on associate membership. Differences with Italy over
the status and rights of ethnic Italians who left Slovenia after the Second
World War have caused delays in Slovenia's gaining associate member status. --
FOURTH ZAGREB MAYOR ELECTED.
At a 7 March session of the Zagreb City
Assembly, its members voted no confidence in Marina Matulovic-Dropulic, Zagreb
Mayor and Zagreb County Prefect appointed by President Franjo Tudjman on 2
March (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 March 1996), Croatian media reported.
Twenty-eight councilors voted against the motion, while the ruling party of the
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) councilors did not vote. The same day, the
alliance of seven opposition parties elected Ivo Skrabalo, a vice president of
the Croatian Social-Liberal party (HSLS), as the new Zagreb Mayor and Zagreb
County Prefect with 27 votes for and 13 votes against. The Zagreb City Assembly
also elected two mayor's deputies from opposition parties, Slobodna
Dalmacija reported on 8 March. Tudjman is unlikely to confirm Skrabalo as a
mayor, but will appoint a commissioner for Zagreb, thus enforcing new city
elections. -- Daria Sito Sucic
TENSION MOUNTS IN SARAJEVO SUBURBS.
UN officials reported a rise in
tensions in Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs ahead of their transfer to government
control, with gangs setting fire to homes and threatening those who want to
stay, Nasa Borba reported on 8 March. Damage made in looting and
dismantling industrial plants in Hadzici is estimated near DM 270 million, and
the fate of 186 Bosnian Muslims and Croats detained there at the beginning of
the war is still uncertain. -- Daria Sito Sucic
LABOR UNREST IN ROMANIA.
Bucharest metro workers on 7 March remained on
strike for the fourth consecutive day, in defiance of a Supreme Court order to
return to work, Romanian and Western media reported. A union leader told
journalists that the workers were determined to go on with protests until their
demands for a 28% pay rise were met. The strikers also demand better working
conditions and the same benefits as railway workers. President Ion Iliescu
described the wildcat strike as "illegal and cynical," saying it would only
create chaos and tension. Meanwhile, some 5,000 metallurgy workers from various
cities marched in downtown Bucharest demanding protection for jobs in heavy
industry. The Alfa Trade Union Cartel, which staged the protest, is asking the
government to pay compensation for a period this winter when workers were sent
home after power cuts stopped work. -- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MACEDONIA.
Teodor Melescanu on 7 March
arrived on a two-day official visit to Macedonia, Romanian, Macedonian and
international media reported. He met with President Kiro Gligorov, Prime
Minister Branko Crvenkovski, and Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski. Melescanu
and Frckovski discussed ways to boost bilateral relations and intensify
political and economic cooperation. The two sides are expected to discuss the
peace process in former Yugoslavia, as well as the situation of a
Romanian-speaking minority in Macedonia. Melescanu and Frckovski will sign a
cooperation protocol between the two foreign ministries. Melescanu said that
his Macedonian visit rounds out the process of "settlement" of new relations
between Bucharest and the former Yugoslav republics. Before the suspension of
the UN embargo against the rump Yugoslav Federation, Macedonia ranked first in
Romania's trade ties with the former Yugoslav republics. -- Matyas Szabo and
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES STATE RADIO AND TV COMPANY.
Snegur's spokesman on 6 March accused the Teleradio-Moldova state company
leadership of violating the audiovisual law that stipulates priority
broadcasting for incoming information from the presidency, parliament and
government, Moldovan agencies reported. Referring to the frequent electric
power cuts in villages, and the 10-fold reduction in the number of wired-radio
outlets during the past five years, the spokesman said "some people are
interested in hiding information from the public at large." He added that a
governmental decree on the replacement of the outlets with wireless receivers
is being implemented "with tremendous pain and surprisingly slowly." -- Matyas
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT CRITICAL OF BULGARIA.
U.S. State Department human
rights report on Bulgaria says that human rights are generally respected, but
it also points to a number of problems, Demokratsiya reported on 8
March. Most notably, the report mentions the constitutional provision that
political parties may not be formed on an ethnic, racial, or religious basis,
lack of parliamentary control of the security services, human rights violations
by police, especially against Roma, and the conditions in Bulgarian prisons.
The report states that many old cadres returned to high positions in the
security services in 1995. It also mentions attempts of political domination of
and a "lack of balance in the state media." In other news, Duma reported
that 520 persons from a list of alleged criminals published by the Interior
Ministry on 22 February have been arrested as of 7 March. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIA, UKRAINE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. T
ministers of Bulgaria and Ukraine, Dimitar Pavlov and Valerii Shmarov, on 7
March signed a bilateral military cooperation agreement, international media
reported. The agreement provides for cooperation in security measures, military
engineering, and personnel training. Shmarov stressed Ukraine's willingness to
boost cooperation in areas of common interest. During his two-day visit,
Shmarov met with President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and
Parliamentary President Blagovest Sendov. -- Stefan Krause
FORMER ALBANIAN COMMUNIST OFFICIALS ARRESTED.
chief Irakli Kocollari and Interior Minister Vladimir Hysi were arrested on 5
March, international agencies reported. In 1991, under the last Socialist
President Ramiz Alia, they ordered the destruction of some 30,000 to 60,000
Interior Ministry documents in order to remove evidence of human rights
violations. If convicted, they face up to seven years in prison. Kocollari was
appointed to head the new intelligence service SHIK after the first multiparty
elections in March 1991 when parliament decided to disband the communist-era
Sigurimi. Unlike Sigurimi, SHIK is not subordinated to the Interior Ministry.
Hysi served as Interior Minister in the government of experts between December
1991 and April 1992. Another 35 communist officials, including Alia, are
currently in prison under charges of human rights abuses. Meanwhile, present
SHIK head Bashkim Gazidede on 7 March told the parliament that his organization
has been fully placed under civilian control. -- Fabian Schmidt and Stefan
--Compiled by Victor Gomez and Ustina Markus