GRACHEV IN GROZNY.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev arrived in Grozny for
an unannounced visit late on 13 March, Russian and Western media reported the
next day. Grachev made no press statements during the visit in which he met
with officials of the Moscow-backed Chechen government of Doku Zavgaev and
Russian military commanders. Some unconfirmed reports suggested that Grachev
might have met with representatives of separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev before he left on 14 March. Grachev's visit was aimed at gathering
information for the scheduled 15 March meeting of the Russian Security Council,
which is supposed to approve a plan for settling the Chechen conflict.
Meanwhile, Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov appeared on separatist
television late on 13 March, refuting claims that he had been seriously wounded
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 March 1996). -- Scott Parrish
FIGHTING CONTINUES IN BAMUT.
Federal aircraft and artillery continued to
pound the western Chechen village of Bamut on 14 March, NTV reported. The
network ridiculed earlier military claims that the bombardment consisted of
"pinpoint" strikes against Chechen positions, citing local residents who
described continuous attacks by Russian aircraft. AFP, quoting military
sources, said fog was hindering close air support operations, so the bombing
was being conducted from high altitude. Russian military spokesmen contend that
up to 400 separatist fighters are entrenched in the village. Meanwhile,
Izvestiya reported on 14 March that federal forces have repeatedly
shelled Dagestani villages along the administrative border with Chechnya over
the last 15 months. The paper reported that the shelling had killed six
villagers and destroyed several buildings. -- Scott Parrish
YELTSIN DEFENDS PRESIDENCY. . .
President Boris Yeltsin defended the
institution of the presidency on 14 March in an interview on Russian TV.
Russians are used to having one person and "some sort of vertical power
structure, a strong hand, which can not only talk, but act," he argued. Yeltsin
rejected the alternative of parliamentary government on the grounds that it
fosters division into numerous factions that "cannot solve anything because no
one is responsible." He claimed that the parliament would be subordinated to
parties and that "there would be no kind of democracy there." Yeltsin's
comments were directed against recent attempts by the Communists to eliminate
the presidency and restore the soviets which formed a facade of democracy
during Communist rule. Yeltsin was also critical of the executive branch,
saying that today "there is no oversight, no execution, no discipline, and no
order." -- Robert Orttung
. . . AND BELOVEZHSK ACCORDS.
Yeltsin also defended the 1991 Belovezhsk
accords that created the CIS and denounced Communist efforts to repudiate them
as a cynical political ploy. The president attacked a proposed Duma resolution
denouncing the agreements, which is scheduled for a vote on 15 March, just
before the fifth anniversary of the 17 March 1991 all-Union referendum on the
preservation of the USSR. Yeltsin described the Communist-sponsored resolution
as "very damaging for Russia." He said the Communists are "very displeased"
that he is leading Russia toward integration with Belarus, and said the
resolution is nothing but electoral posturing. Yeltsin also announced that in
March Russia and Belarus would sign an agreement on "deep integration leading
to confederation," adding that similar agreements with Kazakhstan and
Kyrgyzstan would be concluded soon. -- Scott Parrish
MUSLIMS TO SUPPORT YELTSIN FOR RE-ELECTION.
The Union of Muslims of
Russia has vowed to support President Yeltsin's bid for re-election provided he
makes every effort to resolve problems of the North Caucasus and especially the
Chechen crisis, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 15 March, citing the
union's co-chairman, Abdul-Vakhid Niyazov. Last month, union General Secretary
Mikhail Bibarsov resigned from the organization in disagreement with the
union's support for Yeltsin (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 February 1996).
Niyazov also announced the union's intention to unite with the Muslim movement
NUR, the only Muslim organization that participated in the December
parliamentary elections, Ekspress-Khronika reported. -- Anna
DUMA CALLS FOR EARLY REGIONAL ELECTIONS . . .
The State Duma has
formally called on the country's oblast and krai legislatures to adopt
legislation on elections by the end of their terms in office and to hold new
elections to these bodies at the same time as the June presidential poll,
ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March. The Duma claims that some regional legislatures
violated the constitution and current legislation when they extended their
terms in office by another two years. The electoral terms of most regional
legislative bodies expires in 1996. A September 1995 presidential decree,
however, recommended that regional legislative elections be postponed until
December 1997. The same decree postponed elections to the local self-government
bodies below regional level until December 1996; however, now President Yeltsin
wants to put them off for an even longer period (see OMRI Daily Digest,
12 March 1996) -- Anna Paretskaya
. . . TsIK RECOMMENDS POSTPONING THEM.
The Central Electoral Commission
(TsIK) is strongly opposed to holding regional elections at the same time as
the June presidential poll, according to TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov. Ryabov,
speaking at a 14 March meeting of regional electoral commission heads, added
that regional and local elections and referendums could be set for the fall or
winter of 1996, Russian media reported. -- Anna Paretskaya
DUMA CHAIRMAN ON CUBAN-RUSSIAN TIES.
At a 14 March meeting with Jaime
Crombet, the deputy chairman of the Cuban parliament, Duma Chairman Gennadii
Seleznev declared that "Russian relations with Cuba should reach the level of
Cuban-Soviet relations," ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the
Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy said the new U.S. legislation would not
affect plans to complete the first reactor of the controversial Juragua nuclear
power station in Cuba, which the U.S. opposes on safety grounds. Russia and
Cuba are still searching for foreign investors to help finance the $800 million
project. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA SAID TO BE SPEEDING UP EXECUTIONS.
A member of the presidential
commission that considers pardons for those facing the death penalty has spoken
out against the increasing use of capital punishment in Russia, Reuters
reported. In a letter to Izvestiya on 15 March, Lev Razgon said that the
use of the death penalty declined in 1992-94 but increased sharply in 1995,
when 86 people were sentenced to death. He added that this February alone, 30
appeals for pardon were rejected, compared with 19 in all of 1994. Razgon said
officials are worried about the country's rising murder rate, prison
overcrowding, and obligations entailed by Russian membership of the Council of
Europe. The latter require Russia to abolish the death sentence within three
years, but Yeltsin said on 12 March that the country should not give in to
outside pressure on this issue. -- Penny Morvant
PRIMORSK KRAI THREATENS TO WITHHOLD TAXES.
The Primorsk Krai Duma sent a
letter to the Russian president and parliament on 14 March threatening to
withhold tax and other payments to the federal budget if the government does
not pay its debt of 1.8 trillion rubles ($373 million) to the krai by 1 April,
ITAR-TASS reported. The letter noted that power cuts, the late payment of
wages, and failure to pay child benefits means that the local population are
living in almost stone-age conditions and that mass protests are becoming
commonplace. Rossiiskaya gazeta on 14 March quoted Vladimir Vedernikov,
the head of the Primorsk legislature, as saying that the socioeconomic
situation in the area is explosive. The paper said that traffic police and the
staff of local election commissions are threatening to strike while trade
unions committees at a number of enterprises are planning political
demonstrations. -- Penny Morvant
PARIS CLUB AGREEMENT TO BE SIGNED SOON.
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Davydov told ITAR-TASS on 14 March that the Paris Club of government lenders
has agreed to reschedule Russia's debts. Paris Club chairman Christian Noyer
met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in Moscow on 14 March, and Davydov
said the deal should be signed in April. Repayment of the $25.5 billion
principal and $7 billion interest will be spread over 25 and 20 years,
respectively, with a grace period of seven years. Davydov also said there was
"agreement in principle" for Russia to become a member of the Paris Club, on
the basis of the $130 billion in debts Russia inherited from the USSR's Third
World clients. Russia's accession will probably take place at the June G-7
meeting in Lyon. The Paris Club has rolled over the Russian debts on an annual
basis during each of the three previous years. A major rescheduling agreement
was reached with the London Club of commercial creditors last November, and a
similar deal has long been expected with the Paris Club (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 17 November 1995). -- Peter Rutland
GOVERNMENT PLAN TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OVER SHARE HOLDINGS.
Commission on Operational Questions, chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister
Oleg Soskovets, has prepared a draft decree that tightens control over
government nominees on the boards of private companies in which the state holds
shares, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March. Until now, control has been weak. For
example, the state representative on the board of the insurance giant
Ingosstrakh voted in favor of a recent new share issue which cut the state
holding from 30% to 6%, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 13 March.
Soskovets's plan gives the Ministry of Fuel and Energy primary responsibility
for appointing and monitoring representatives to energy companies, although the
State Property and Anti-Monopoly Committees will also be consulted in matters
falling under their jurisdiction. There has been a long-running battle for
influence between the energy ministry and the State Property Committee. --
RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS IN KAZAKHSTAN DEMAND PROTECTION.
A group of
Kazakhstani journalists held a press conference at the House of the Union of
Journalists on 14 March to call for inter-governmental agreements on the status
and accreditation procedure for Russian correspondents in CIS countries,
ITAR-TASS reported on 14 March. Boris Supruniuk, a correspondent for the
Russian weekly Megapolis-Kontinent who was recently released from a
Kokshetau prison in northern Kazakhstan after serving a nine-month sentence,
complained that the Russian authorities have failed to protect their
journalists against persecution. Supruniuk said he has been charged with
"inciting inter-ethnic discord" by the local authorities in north Kazakhstan on
two occasions and said he was tortured while in prison. The Kazakhstani Supreme
Court acquitted him in November 1995. -- Bhavna Dave
GOVERNMENT TROOPS RECAPTURE STRATEGIC SECTION OF ROAD.
The Tajik army
retook a section of the road between Dushanbe and Khorog, Reuters and Russian
TV reported on 14 March. Tajik opposition forces had held large sections of the
highway which is the only major link to Khorog from the west and is near a fork
connecting the capital with the northeast. Fighting around the Komsomolabad
region, 100 km northeast of Dushanbe, claimed the lives of 25 rebels and 12
government soldiers. In Dushanbe, Russian border guards defused a 30 kg bomb
found in a car;the owner of the vehicle was found dead nearby. On the
Tajik-Afghan border, opposition forces in Afghanistan fired 10 rockets at the
border guards' 12th outpost. No casualties were reported. -- Bruce Pannier
CITIZENSHIP ISSUE IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Kyrgyzstan plans to introduce a new
passport that excludes any mention of nationality, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported on 14 March. The new passport will not have the "infamous fifth
column" which denoted a person's ethnic origins. Henceforth, all groups in
Kyrgyzstan will simply be noted as citizens of Kyrgyzstan. Individuals who want
to include their ethnic origins will be permitted to do so. Previously, many
people had given false information on their ethnic background to avoid
discrimination. Under the new regulations, the number of declared ethnic Kyrgyz
and Azeris in the republic is expected to decrease while the number of ethnic
Uzbeks and Turks is expected to increase. -- Bruce Pannier
PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER IN UZBEKISTAN.
Pakistani Foreign Minister
Assef Ahmed Ali concluded his visit to Uzbekistan on 14 March during which he
met his Uzbek counterpart, Abdulaziz Komilov, to discuss the ongoing regional
crises in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported. The visit follows
closely on the heels of a recent tour of the region by Afghan President
Burhanuddin Rabbani, who accused Pakistan of supporting the rebel Taliban group
in his country. On 15 March, Ali met with Turkmen officials in Ashgabat, where
ITAR-TASS noted that in addition to security matters, the two sides discussed
economic trade routes that would, ironically, go through Afghanistan. -- Roger
The parliament chairman of the self-proclaimed Republic of
Nagorno-Karabakh, Karen Baburyan, resigned for health reasons on 12 March, not
as reported in OMRI Daily Digest, 14 March 1996.
NOTE TO OUR READERS.
Andrii Ozadovsky, Ukrainian ambassador to the Czech
Republic, has appealed to OMRI as well as Czech officials and publications to
refer to the Ukrainian capital as "Kyiv" rather than "Kiev." In an interview
with OMRI, the ambassador explained that a special government commission last
fall ordered its representatives to appeal to governments and periodicals to
switch to the Ukrainian transliteration. He said his government has formally
appealed to the UN to use Ukrainian transliterations of place names in official
documents and references. The UN has agreed to comply with this request. As of
15 March, OMRI is using "Kyiv" in its publications.
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO REVIEW CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION.
commission on legal policy and judicial reforms on 13 March voted to submit the
draft Crimean constitution to the Ukrainian legislature, Radio Ukraine and
UNIAN reported. But Crimean Parliament speaker Yevhen Supruniuk said he doubted
it would be approved by Ukrainian lawmakers by 31 March. The Crimean
legislature has threatened to hold a regional referendum on Crimea's status if
Ukrainian legislators fail to approve the Crimean basic law by the end of the
month. The speaker blamed the recent standoff on hard-liners in both the
Ukrainian and Crimean legislatures. He added, however, that at a 13 March
meeting in Kyiv, President Leonid Kuchma had shown "understanding" for Crimean
complaints about provisions in the draft Ukrainian constitution limiting
Crimean autonomy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUSIAN COMMUNISTS WANT BELAVEZHA ACCORDS DENOUNCED.
Kalyakin, deputy speaker of the parliament and leader of the communist caucus,
asked the legislature on 14 March to denounce the Belavezha agreements, which
dissolved the USSR and created the CIS, ITAR-TASS reported. He reminded
deputies that in the 17 March 1991 referendum, 76.4% of Belarusians voted in
favor of preserving the Soviet Union. Kalyakin also said the Communists
supported the president's policy to integrate more closely with Russia. --
BELARUS SIGNS AGREEMENTS WITH KALININGRAD.
A delegation from Kaliningrad
headed by Governor Yurii Matochkin met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka in Minsk on 14 March, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public Television
reported. The two sides signed agreements on trade and transport, and the use
of Kaliningrad as a port for Belarusian trade activities was also discussed.
Lukashenka said ties between Belarus and Kaliningrad would not lead to
confrontations with Lithuania or Poland. -- Ustina Markus
UPDATE ON ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS.
European Commissioner Anna
Gradin told Estonian European Affairs Minister Endel Lippmaa in Tallinn on 14
March that it was important for Estonia to settle its border with Russia since
it could become the outer limits of the EU, BNS reported. Dissatisfied with the
lack of information on the progress of the border talks, the Fatherland Party
is to hold a round table discussion on the question today; all political
parties, except the Reform Party, are expected to attend. The next round of
border talks is scheduled for 28 March. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN DEPUTIES CONDEMN RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM IN CHECHNYA.
the 100 Saeima deputies on 14 March signed a letter to the Russian government
and Duma condemning "Russian imperialism" and "scorched earth" tactics in
Chechnya, Reuters reported. The letter, initiated by the rightist For the
Fatherland and Freedom party, accuses the Russian army of genocide during the
15-month war in Chechnya and expressed condolences to the Chechen people and
the relatives of Russian soldiers killed in the war. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN ARGENTINA.
Algirdas Brazauskas, during his
two-day visit to Argentina, met with Argentine President Carlos Menem, Western
agencies reported on 14 March. The two leaders signed an agreement on
protecting and encouraging investments. Brazauskas noted that Argentina's
experience in economic reforms could be useful for Lithuania. He is scheduled
to fly to Uruguay the next day for talks with President Julio Maria Sanguinetti
and will also visit Brazil and Venezuela. -- Saulius Girnius
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN POLAND.
Yevgenii Primakov, at the beginning
of his two-day official visit to Poland, held separate talks with Prime
Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati on 14
March, Polish and international media reported. After meeting with Cimoszewicz,
Primakov said the two countries will seek to eliminate trade barriers. Rosati
said they also discussed bilateral relations, European security, and the Polish
president's visit to Russia next month. Primakov noted that Russia will abandon
its plan to build a highway from Kaliningrad to Belarus via Poland's
northwestern tip (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 March 1996). In an interview
with Polityka, Primakov said Russia will be satisfied if Poland
receives a security guarantee from NATO rather than becoming a member. Poland
argues that its membership in NATO would not endanger Moscow's security and
could work in Russia's favor. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
GERMAN-LED CONSORTIUM WINS CZECH MOBILE PHONE CONTRACT.
dominated by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, on 14 March beat out five other
international consortia for a license to set up a GSM digital mobile phone
network in the Czech Republic, Czech media reported. Economy Minister Karel
Dyba said TMobil will sign a joint venture agreement with Czech
Radiocommunications next week, paying 5.22 billion crowns ($193 million) for a
49% stake. Since 1991, Eurotel has had a monopoly in the sector, and its analog
mobile phone system has an estimated 49,000 customers. Dyba said the new
network will offer lower prices and will seek to cover 65% of the country by
September this year and have 500,000 customers within 10 years. Germany's
DeTeMobil owns 84.55% of TMobil, STET of Italy 12%, and Czech firms the
remainder. -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAKS COMMEMORATE ANNIVERSARY OF FOUNDING OF WAR-TIME STATE.
100 and 250 skinheads and pensioners on 14 March gathered in Bratislava to mark
the 57th anniversary of the founding of Slovakia's Nazi-allied war-time state
and to honor its president, Jozef Tiso, Slovak media reported. The rally was
organized by the Slovak National Union (SNJ) and the Society of Dr. Jozef Tiso.
SNJ chairman Stanislav Panis praised both Tiso and the war-time state and
complained that the majority of current parliamentary deputies are former
communists. Speakers attacked Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar for earlier
statements that the Tiso regime was "fascist," and they called for the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty to be rejected. The Slovak Anti-Fascist Union and the
Human movement condemned the attempts "to revive fascist ideas." -- Sharon
SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES PENAL CODE.
Representatives of the
Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Democratic Union on 14 March rejected
the cabinet's amendment to the penal code (also known as the law on the
protection of the republic), Slovak media reported. KDH deputy Ivan Simko
called the amendment "the most fundamental turning point in Slovakia since
1989" and stressed that his party will turn to the Constitutional Court if the
bill is passed. The Slovak National Party has said its approval of the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty is conditional on the draft law's passage. The
opposition also criticized the bill on Slovakia's territorial arrangement. --
ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN BUDAPEST.
An estimated 30,000 people on
14 March attended a rally organized by the Independent Smallholders Party
(FKgP) outside Budapest's parliament, international media reported. Populist
FKgP Chairman Jozsef Torgyan, pointing to the negative effects of the austerity
measures implemented by Gyula Horn's cabinet, demanded its resignation and
called for new parliamentary elections. The demonstration was held on the eve
of Hungary's state holiday marking the anniversary of the 1848 revolution. With
26 seats in the parliament, the FKgP became the biggest opposition party after
the recent split of the Hungarian Democratic Forum. Opinion polls suggest that
the party is more popular than Horn's Socialist Party, which holds 209 seats.
-- Sharon Fisher
BOSNIAN ARMS CONFERENCE OPENS IN ANKARA.
The Bosnia "Train and Equip"
Donors Conference began in the Turkish capital on 15 March under U.S. and
Turkish sponsorship. It aims to strengthen the Bosnian federal armed forces to
offset Serbian military preponderance and achieve the 5:2:2 ratio between
Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia as set down in the Dayton agreement, the VOA
reported. Some 25 countries were expected to attend, AFP said on 13 March. The
Turkish Daily News noted the next day that Iran has not been invited and
that Russia declined to attend. The Financial Times reported on 15 March
that a major rift has emerged between the EU, led by Paris and London, and the
U.S. Brussels' main concern is to restore ties with Serbia, while Washington is
interested in strengthening the federal armed forces, in combating Iranian
influence in Bosnia, and in pressuring Serbia to end the Kosovo imbroglio. --
ANOTHER BALKAN SUMMIT TO BEGIN.
The top leaders of Bosnia, Serbia, and
Croatia are slated to meet in Geneva with U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher on 18 March, AFP reported on 15 March, citing Christopher's
spokesman. There will also be top officials present from the other Contact
Group countries, Reuters noted the previous day. The fact that such a gathering
is being called illustrates the precarious state of the Dayton peace process,
given that the last summit was held in Rome only a few weeks ago and that a
regional foreign ministers' meeting is slated for 23 March in Moscow.
Meanwhile, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has left the hospital for a
prolonged recuperation at home from heart problems, Oslobodjenje noted
the next day. Vice President Ejup Ganic, who has been substituting for the
president, will fill in for him at the summit with Presidents Franjo Tudjman of
Croatia and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia. -- Patrick Moore
SARAJEVO SERBS SEEK TO CURB EXODUS.
The anti-nationalist Serbian Civic
Council (SGV) has appealed to the federal president and prime minister to take
measures to reassure Serbs that they have a place in the Bosnian capital. The
SGV again asked President Kresimir Zubak to make Sarajevo a federal district,
based on the model of Brussels, where all groups would be equal. It also asked
Prime Minister Izudin Kapetanovic to give Serbs a six-month grace period to
return to their homes. The Council also called for setting up a registry of
prewar Serbian property and a commission on the rights of refugees and
returnees, Oslobodjenje reported on 14 March. There are some 10,000
Serbs still in the suburbs, and Ilidza-based Mayor Maksim Stanisic is also
urging them to stay through his Democratic Initiative of Sarajevo Serbs. --
SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL SUSPECTS TO APPEAR IN THE HAGUE?
Prosecutor on the International War Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Graham Blewitt on 14 March believes that suspected Serbian war criminals
Radoslav Kremenovic and Drazen Erdemovic will be turned over to the tribunal.
"I do not anticipate any obstacles to both men being transferred [from Serbia]
to the Hague in accordance with the prosecutor's request," Reuters quoted him
as saying. Kremenovic and Erdemovic have already admitted to taking part in the
massacres of Bosnian Muslims after the Bosnian Muslim "safe-haven" of
Srebrenica fell to the Serbs in July 1995. -- Stan Markotich
SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ON CONDITIONS IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, has sent a letter to the
foreign ministries (or their equivalents) of the U.S., Russia, Germany, France,
Britain, and Italy arguing that since the Dayton peace accord, Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic has implemented "a one-party dictatorship."
Nasa Borba on 15 March quotes Draskovic as saying that there are
systematic campaigns of repression against the independent media, growing
police repression, and continuing human rights violations. Draskovic also
contends that "the great powers have given [Milosevic] a free hand" to
intensify domestic repression since the peace accord was signed. -- Stan
OSCE TIES BELGRADE'S ADMISSION TO SOLUTION IN KOSOVO.
Minister and OSCE chairman Flavio Cotti said Belgrade's readmission to the OSCE
would be tied to a resolution of the Kosovo conflict, Reuters reported on 14
March. Cotti pointed out that "effective progress" is "unfortunately still far
away." He pointed out that the OSCE expects guarantees from Belgrade that
Kosovo will be granted "large autonomy" or that "a federal solution" to the
problem will be found. -- Fabian Schmidt
SPY TRIAL IN CROATIA CRITICIZED.
Defense lawyers representing 15 people
charged with spying for rump Yugoslavia and Croatian Serb rebels have accused
the military prosecutors of being partial, Nasa Borba and AFP reported
on 14 March. They say the prosecutors have denied them access to necessary
legal documents so that they have been unable to prepare their defense on time.
Prosecutors say 10 of the accused have pleaded not guilty, three have pleaded
guilty, and two have refused to plead anything. Defense lawyers also complained
about bringing the prisoners to the court "in chains,", Vjesnik reported
on 15 March. -- Daria Sito Sucic
ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH RUSSIA.
Teodor Melescanu has
told ITAR-TASS that Romania wants to sign the bilateral treaty with Russia
before the next Russian presidential elections. Radio Bucharest cited Melescanu
as saying that the treaty should be signed during the Yeltsin-Iliescu summit
and that he would discuss these matters with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii
Primakov, next month. He added that disagreement persisted over the inclusion
in the treaty of a mention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin said Moscow was waiting for a sign of
"realism" from Bucharest that it was ready to forego its demand that the treaty
condemn the pact. -- Michael Shafir
BUCHAREST SUBWAY RUNS AGAIN.
Radio Bucharest announced on 14 March that
the Bucharest subway has started running again. Nothing was said about the some
2,000 employees who have refused to sign pledges to return to work. According
to a statement by Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu on 13 March, those workers
have been dismissed. -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DEMANDS DEFENSE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION.
is demanding Defense Minister Pavel Creanga's resignation, BASA-press and
international agencies reported on 14 March. The presidential office released a
statement saying Creanga had failed to "take sufficient measures to ensure the
integrity of the National Army's assets and efficient use of budget funds."
Creanga said the accusations were "groundless" and that the demand for his
resignation was illegal and prompted by his refusal to allow political
interference in the army. Under Moldovan law, a minister can be dismissed only
by the prime minister. Observers note that Premier Andrei Sangheli, a political
rival of Snegur, is unlikely to fire Creanga. -- Michael Shafir
The European Court of Human Rights on 14 March agreed
to hear charges made by Andrey Lukanov, who was Bulgarian premier for 10 months
after the collapse of the communist regime headed by Todor Zhivkov,
international media reported. Lukanov, now a deputy of the ruling Bulgarian
Socialist Party, alleges that his rights were violated when the authorities
illegally detained him in 1992 to determine his possible role in
misappropriating state funds while deputy premier in the 1980s. In other news,
Bulgarian media on 14 March reported that some 37 sports federations are
defending Ivan Slavkov, chairman of both the Bulgarian Olympic Committee and
Soccer Association and Zhivkov's son-in-law. In a letter to various
politicians, the federations say Slavkov's human rights are being violated. On
11 March, he went on trial for misappropriating state funds and possessing
firearms. -- Stan Markotich
ALBANIAN EDITOR FINED FOR "FALSE REPORT."
Koha Jone Chief Editor
Aleksander Frangaj was fined the equivalent of $1,000 for allowing the
publication of a "false report" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 March 1996)
international agencies reported. Frangaj was sentenced under a disputed media
law that makes chief editors and publishers accountable for articles containing
false information. The law provides for fines from between $1,000 and $8,000.
-- Fabian Schmidt
GREEK PREMIER SAYS ECONOMIC TIES WITH SKOPJE IMPROVE.
said that talks on economic ties with Skopje are progressing but that the
dispute over the name of Macedonia remains unresolved. Simitis was speaking at
a meeting with Greek opposition leaders , AFP reported on 14 March.
Neo-nationalist leader Antonis Samaras, who opposes any concessions to
Macedonia, called for a referendum, but other party leaders supported finding a
compromise. Simitis will meet with the head of the Macedonian liaison office in
Athens Ljupco Arsovski on 15 March. In another diplomatic effort, Greek Foreign
Minister Theodore Pangalos has invited his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubomir
Frckovski, to Athens to "discuss economic and commercial relations." -- Fabian
Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said Turkey
may withdraw its Aegean army in a move to improve strained relations with
Greece, Western media reported on 14 March. His remarks came in the wake of
Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos's offer to withdraw its troops from
Aegean islands near Turkey if Ankara relocates its 4th Aegean army. -- Lowell
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave