YELTSIN OFFICIALLY REGISTERS AS CANDIDATE.
The Central Electoral
Commission on 3 April officially registered President Boris Yeltsin as a
candidate for the June election. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov is so far
the only other candidate to have turned in the 1 million signatures necessary
for registration. Yeltsin filed papers showing that his income for 1995 was 27
million rubles ($5,600), down from 552 million rubles in 1994. Most of the 1994
income came from an honorarium for the publication of his book in Great
Britain. Yeltsin kicked off his campaign by leaving for Belgorod where he said
he will visit as "both the president and a presidential candidate," ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Robert Orttung
DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA LEADERS BACK YELTSIN.
Democratic Russia co-chairmen
Lev Ponomarev and Gleb Yakunin announced their support for Yeltsin's candidacy
on 3 April as individuals and called on their party to do the same, Russian TV
reported. Ponomarev favors Yeltsin over Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii
because he believes that a "democrat" cannot win in today's Russia and
Yeltsin's experience guarantees stability. While the pro-reform camp remains
divided, Duma member Petr Romanov withdrew his presidential bid in favor of
Zyuganov, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung
MILITARY LEADERSHIP MANEUVERS IN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
preferences of the Russian top brass can be divided into five factions:
pro-Yeltsin; neutral; anti-Grachev; openly oppositional; and pro-Grachev;
according to a 40-page document reportedly prepared by military experts for
Communist presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov and cited in the 31 March-7
April issue of Moskovskie novosti. The pro-Yeltsin faction, led by First
Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin, is allegedly seeking the electoral
support of lower-ranking officers by promising promotions and advancement if
the president is re-elected. Many top brass--led by General Mikhail Kolesnikov,
chief of the general staff--remain neutral in the hope of retaining their posts
no matter who wins the election. A January poll of military personnel cited in
the article gave Zyuganov 22% support, followed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky with
18%. Yeltsin lagged with only 4%. -- Scott Parrish
DUMA TO CONSIDER LOWERING THE VOTING AGE.
Liberal Democratic Party
(LDPR) member Aleksei Mitrofanov will soon propose that the Duma lower the
voting age from 18 to 16, Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 April. The move is a clear
attempt to boost Yeltsin's electoral prospects since he has much broader
support among the young, while Communist voters tend to be older. Younger
voters, however, have much lower turnout figures. -- Robert Orttung
DUMA FAILS TO ADOPT LAW ON HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER.
The Duma failed in
its seventh attempt to pass a law on the human rights commissioner on 3 April.
The law needs 300 votes for adoption, but the body was more than 40 short
because the Regions of Russia faction supports naming the commissioner at the
same time as the law is adopted, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. LDPR leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky pointed out that the commissioner can be named with a 226
majority, which would give the Communists the strong possibility of naming
their candidate without the consent of other parties. All members of the
Council of Europe are required to have such a law. -- Robert Orttung
BOMBING CONTINUES IN CHECHNYA.
The village of Shalazhi in southwest
Chechnya was subject to aerial bombardment during the night of 2-3 April
although village elders had signed a peace pact with Russian commanders on 2
April, Reuters reported on 3 April. A spokesman for the Russian military denied
that Russian planes were responsible. The village of Bamut in southern Chechnya
was similarly subjected to artillery fire, and other villages in Vedeno Raion
were surrounded by Russian troops in direct contravention of President
Yeltsin's assurance that hostilities would cease at midnight on 31 March. --
LEBED ON CHECHNYA.
Aleksandr Lebed accused President Yeltsin of
"betraying" the soldiers in Chechnya, in an article he published in
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 3 April. He said Yeltsin erred in launching the
recent wave of attacks, in which "hundreds" of Russian troops were killed, only
to sue for peace days later. He said that this stop-and-go policy was
reminiscent of the fighting last spring. He urged Yeltsin to push on for the
military victory that he considers to be "very close." Lebed said that "doubts
can exist only before the beginning of a war...We are fighting not so much for
a specific territory but for Russia's national dignity. Russia must announce to
the world that it will never again retreat." -- Peter Rutland
550 FEDERAL TROOPS MISSING OR HOSTAGE IN CHECHNYA.
An official of the
presidential commission for prisoners-or-war, internees, and missing-in-action
has reported that 550 federal servicemen are missing or held hostage in
Chechnya, Russian media reported on 3 April. The head of the temporary working
group searching for these men was said to have told the State Duma the previous
day that this number includes 468 soldiers, 70 officers, and 12 warrant
officers of the Russian army, the Internal Troops, and the Federal Border
Service. Another official revealed that 41 Russian servicemen had been
exchanged for Chechen separatists in the past two months. -- Doug Clarke
DUMA ENDORSES RUSSO-BELARUSIAN COMMUNITY.
The State Duma adopted a
resolution "welcoming" the agreement forming the Russo-Belarusian Community,
Russian media reported. The resolution, sponsored by the Popular Power and
Agrarian factions, called on the other members of the CIS to support
Russo-Belarusian integration, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement is scheduled
for a ratification vote in the Duma on 5 April. The Yabloko faction, however,
released a statement criticizing the agreement, which it said "created a
national structure with an undefined status." Finansovye izvestiya on 4
April questioned the feasibility and economic rationale of integration with
Belarus, echoing several other major Russian dailies that describe the
agreement as a purely political maneuver. -- Scott Parrish
EU, U.S. TO HELP RUSSIA PREVENT SMUGGLING OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL.
and the U.S. are planning to help train Russian experts in Western methods of
accounting for the nuclear material used to build atomic weapons, Reuters
reported on 3 April. The Russian Methodological and Training Center will be
established later this year in Obninsk, near Moscow. The European Commission
said the center will train hundreds of Russian experts in an effort "to help
develop a true safety culture that will be a key element in the program to
tighten monitoring and control of nuclear materials in the former Soviet
Union." The program is the result of a meeting of nuclear experts from the EU,
U.S., and Russia to prepare for the Moscow G-7 summit on nuclear safety later
this month. -- Doug Clarke
RUSSIAN, POLISH DEFENSE MINISTERS DISCUSS COOPERATION.
Minister Pavel Grachev and his Polish counterpart, Stanislaw Dobrzanski, met in
Moscow on 3 April, Russian and Western media reported. Grachev hailed the
prospect of improved defense cooperation between the two countries and
announced that several joint military exercises would be held this year. He
also said that the Polish minister had expressed interest in buying Russian
military equipment and spare parts while offering to repair Russian warships in
Polish shipyards. The two agreed to form a joint group of experts to draft a
formal treaty on military cooperation but remained divided over NATO's eastward
expansion. -- Doug Clarke
MAFIA BOSSES ARRESTED.
Police arrested 25 suspected criminal bosses of
Caucasian nationality in a 3 April raid of a Moscow apartment where the group
was meeting to allocate business, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 April. They included
Georgian Otari Kvaratskhelia, a leading "thief in law" (members of the informal
criminal elite). According to an official at the Butyrka prison, due to threats
or bribes only one of 14 "thieves in law" arrested over the past two years has
actually been taken to court. -- Peter Rutland
AID FOR PRISONERS.
Leonid Brezhnev's son in law, Yurii Churbanov, has
donated 500 mattresses and pillows to Moscow `s Butyrka prison, ITAR-TASS
reported on 3 April. Churbanov, a former deputy interior minister, was
incarcerated for several years in the 1980s after being convicted of
corruption. The governor of Butyrka, Aleksandr Volkov, told a press conference
that Moscow prisons owe suppliers 19 billion rubles ($4 million) and are
finding it difficult to provide adequate food and medicine. "Unfortunately,"
commented Volkov, "the so-called 'new Russians'" think about these things only
when they find themselves behind bars." Moscow intends to build a seventh
holding prison for suspects awaiting trial, since the existing jails are
overcrowded, with an average floor space of one meter per inmate. -- Peter
LET THEM EAT CAKE.
Dismissing rumors of a flour shortage, the director
of Mosgorkhlebprodukt, Yevgenii Strelkov, assured Moscow residents that the
city's bakeries will make available 700 tons of traditional Easter pastries,
ITAR-TASS reported on 3 April. The same day, the Moscow City Duma approved its
1996 budget. The new budget, like that for 1995, will not run a deficit.
Revenue and spending are each set at 47 trillion rubles ($9.7 billion),
including 7 trillion rubles for housing construction. Mayor Yurii Luzhkov is up
for re-election in June, and is expected to secure an easy victory. Most
Muscovites seem to regard Luzhkov as an effective city manager. -- Peter
NEW REGULATIONS ON BANKS' RESERVE FUNDS.
The Central Bank has reduced
the size of commercial banks' compulsory reserves from 20% to 18% of their
total deposits starting on 1 May, Segodnya and Kommersant-Daily
reported on 3 April. The bank also decided to cut the size of the banks'
foreign currency reserves. At present, commercial bank reserves deposited at
the Central Bank total 21 trillion rubles ($4.3 billion). The step is designed
to alleviate the liquidity squeeze that many banks are currently experiencing.
-- Natalia Gurushina
FOREIGN TRADE TURNOVER GREW IN JANUARY.
Russia's foreign trade turnover
totaled $9.2 billion in January, a 10% increase over the same period in 1995,
Segodnya reported on 3 April. Exports grew by 7% to $5.9 billion, with a
17% increase in exports to CIS countries ($1.2 billion). Exports to the rest of
the world ($4.7 billion) went up by 5%. There were no major changes in the
structure of exports, consisting mostly of oil, gas, and metals. The existence
of the ruble corridor zone continues to boost Russia's imports, which surged by
14% to $3.3 billion. However, there was a 13% drop in imports from non-CIS
countries ($1.9 billion), while imports from the CIS region rose by more than
200% to $1.4 billion. -- Natalia Gurushina
JAPAN INCREASES ITS SHARE IN CASPIAN OIL CONSORTIUM.
Japan's Itochu Oil
Exploration Company on 3 April acquired Pennzoil's 9.8% stake in the consortium
formed to exploit three Azerbaijani Caspian oil fields, ITAR-TASS reported. The
acquisition follows Itochu's March 1996 purchase of the U.S. oil company
McDermott's 2.5% share in the oil consortium. Itochu is the largest Japanese
investor in Azerbaijan, and now has the third largest share in the consortium
after BP and Amoco, who each have 17% stakes. -- Liz Fuller
KAZAKHS FREE TO DROP RUSSIAN ENDINGS IN THEIR LAST NAMES.
Nursultan Nazarbayev has decreed that Kazakhs will be permitted to drop the
customary Russian suffixes in their last names and write them in accordance
with Kazakh cultural and linguistic traditions, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 April.
In place of Russian suffixes such as "yev/ov" or "yeva/ova," Kazakhs are now
free to use the Kazakh language equivalents "uli/kizi" for their last names.
(For example, Suleymenov or Suleymenova can now be written as Suleymenuli or
Suleymenkizi). The changes can be requested upon the issue of new Kazakhstani
passports or other personal identification documents. -- Bhavna Dave
KAZAKHSTANI FOREIGN MINISTER IN IRAN.
Kazakhstani Foreign Minister
Kasymzhomart Tokayev, on a three-day visit to Iran, discussed bilateral
cooperation in oil and transportation with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar
Velayati, Russian and Western media reported on 4 April. Tokayev is in Tehran
to prepare for President Nazarbayev's scheduled visit to Iran in May, when he
will participate in the inauguration of the new 296 km long
Tajan-Sarakhs-Mashad railroad, connecting northern Iran with Turkmenistan.
Tokayev said the new "connection-line" between Central Asia and the Middle East
will boost regional trade. They also discussed constructing ports on the
Caspian Sea to facilitate the transport of Kazakhstan's oil to Iran. -- Bhavna
NATO APPROVES PROGRAM FOR KYRGYZSTAN.
During his one-day visit to
Kyrgyzstan, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert Hunter gave President Askar Akayev
formal NATO approval of an individual "Partnership for Peace" program for
Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL reported on 3 April. All former Soviet republics, with the
exception of Tajikistan, have enrolled in this program, which envisages
cooperation on non-military issues such as natural disasters and environmental
protection. Akayev and Hunter also discussed a scheduled June seminar in
Bishkek that will focus on dealing with emergency situations. -- Bhavna Dave
FUROR OVER JOURNALIST'S SLAYING IN DUSHANBE.
Reactions to the 28 March
murder of Russian Public TV (ORT) journalist Viktor Nikulin continue to
register in Tajikistan, Russian sources reported on 2 April. Both Tajik
government and opposition officials condemned the killing and deny any
involvement. The government has pledged to solve the crime. Fellow journalists,
however, are skeptical, as no case of a journalist being killed in Tajikistan
has been solved, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April. As a sign of protest and
memorial, all independent newspapers will cease publishing for a week beginning
on 5 April. Nikulin's father, Mikhail Nikulin, has reportedly received death
threats from the anti-government opposition, a charge the opposition flatly
denies. -- Roger Kangas
EU, U.S. CRITICIZE SLOVAK LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC.
The EU and the
U.S. State Department on 3 April expressed concern that Slovakia's law on the
protection of the republic could restrict freedom of speech, assembly, and
expression, Reuters and RFE/RL reported. The new legislation was passed by the
parliament on 26 March. Meanwhile, a State Department official said the law
"contradicts the democratic values shared among NATO countries." Also on 3
April, Slovak opposition representatives agreed to adopt a common strategy on
the new legislation. They further decided to form expert groups to coordinate
policy in economy, media, privatization, and ethnic problems, Pravda
reported. -- Sharon Fisher
REFERENDUM PROPOSED IN CRIMEA.
The Crimean parliament included on its 3
April agenda the possibility of staging a regional referendum to determine
Crimea's future, international media reported. The move came in response to
Kyiv's repeated delays in approving the peninsula's new constitution, which it
has been debating since November. The Ukrainian parliament failed to vote on
the constitution on 3 April but is likely to approve it today, when the debate
is scheduled to resume. However, deputies are unlikely to approve a long list
of clauses they consider to be "separatist," including provisions for Crimean
citizenship, recognition of the Crimean "people," and the establishment of
Russian as the sole official language. Ethnic Russians make up about two-thirds
of the peninsula's population. -- Jiri Pehe
HUNT UNDER WAY IN UKRAINE FOR SERIAL KILLER.
Ukraine's national guard
and police units are patrolling villages in the Zhitomir region, 100 km west of
Kyiv, where the most recent of some 40 murders attributed to a serial killer
have been committed, international media report. The killer is believed to be
the most murderous in Ukraine's history, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said
on 3 April. The man generally ingratiates himself with a family before killing
all its members with a hunting rifle. A total of nine families have been killed
in Lviv, Zaporozhye, and Kyiv. A suspect was arrested on 30 March, but police
remain unsure whether he was involved in the crimes. -- Jiri Pehe
RUSSIA, UKRAINE REACH AGREEMENT ON OIL TRANSIT FEE.
According to the
Ukrainian State Oil and Gas Industry Committee, the Russian Fuel and Energy
Ministry has finally accepted the new terms for shipping oil through the
Druzhba pipeline, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported on 3 April. Ukraine on 1
January unilaterally increased the fee by 60 cents to $5.2 for each metric ton
of oil transiting Ukraine en route to Central Europe. The Russian government is
now willing to pay the new tariff, which is subject to change if the volume
falls below or rises above 16-19 million tons this year. Only last week it was
reported that supplies of oil to Slovakia and Hungary had been interrupted
because of the fee dispute. -- Peter Rutland
ESTONIA SEEKS SECURITY GUARANTEES.
Estonian Premier Tiit Vahi has urged
the West to provide security guarantees to states left out of NATO expansion,
Reuters reported on 3 April. The agency quoted Vahi as saying in an interview
that the best guarantee for his country is full NATO membership. But he added
that if some states are accepted in a first wave of NATO expansion, it is
important to know what security guarantees the others will receive. Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania are participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace
program, which offers increased military cooperation but no security
guarantees. Meanwhile, the presidents of Estonia and Moldova, Lennart Meri and
Mircea Snegur, have expressed concern about recent moves aimed at forging
closer ties between Russia and Belarus. Snegur is currently on an official
visit to Estonia. -- Dan Ionescu
THIRD WORLD MIGRANTS ON HUNGER STRIKE IN LITHUANIA.
A group of 44 people
from China, Iraq, and Afghanistan are on a hunger strike in the northeastern
town of Visaginas to press claims for refugee status in Lithuania, Reuters
reported on 2 April. The asylum-seekers, who have been detained for three
months at a makeshift camp, threatened suicide if their situation is not
resolved. All of them reportedly came from neighboring Belarus. At least 500
refugees are currently being detained in Lithuania, which has become a transit
route for migrants trying to reach the affluent Scandinavian states. -- Dan
POLISH-RUSSIAN MILITARY EXERCISES PROPOSED.
Polish Defense Minister
Stanislaw Dobrzanski, meeting in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Pavel
Grachev, has proposed holding Polish-Russian military exercises later this year
in Poland. He also suggested that a Polish-Russian peacekeeping battalion be
formed and that military-technical cooperation be expanded. Poland is to set up
peacekeeping battalions with Lithuania and Ukraine. Dobrzanski said his Moscow
visit is intended to improve Polish-Russian relations, ahead of President
Aleksander Kwasniewski's scheduled visit to Moscow next week. He said an
improvement is expected by Poland's future NATO partners, who have approved his
proposals, Polish dailies reported on 4 April. -- Jakub Karpinski
PERSONNEL CHANGES IN POLISH TV.
Following the recent dismissal of TVP1
head Maciej Pawlicki and the resignation of TVP director Wieslaw Walendziak,
two of Pawlicki's deputies and two chief editors have been fired. The director
of cultural and entertainment programs, Waldemar Gasper, has been "suspended."
Christian-National Alliance leader Marian Pilka said that during Walendziak's
term, the TVP was pluralist and that it will be now be predominantly leftist,
Polish dailies reported on 4 April. -- Jakub Karpinski
SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS TWO LAWS.
The Slovak Constitutional
Court on 3 April ruled against two 1995 laws-- one giving the state a "golden
share" in the privatization of certain "strategic" companies and the other
allowing it to take possession of land if ownership cannot be determined within
three months, Slovak media reported. The court ruled that the former violates
ownership rights guaranteed to all citizens by the constitution and that the
latter is also unconstitutional. Both laws were appealed by opposition
deputies. The opposition on 3 April decided to also appeal the income tax law,
which was vetoed by the president and recently re-approved by the parliament.
-- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY TO SELL FURTHER STAKE IN FOREIGN TRADE BANK.
The Hungarian State
Privatization and Holding Co. (APV Rt.) on 3 April announced it is ready to
sell its 26.8% share in the Hungarian Foreign Trade Bank (MKB) to the
Bayerische Landesbank, Magyar Hirlap reported. If the deal goes ahead,
the German bank will own 51% of MKB. The APV Rt. invited the German Investment
and Development Co., the EBRD, and the Bayerische Landesbank--the three foreign
joint owners of MKB--to make an offer, but only the last-named expressed
interest. In 1994, the MKB was the first Hungarian commercial bank to be
privatized. The bank's after-tax profits soared from 487 million forints in
1994 to 2.6 billion forints in the first six months of the following year. --
HAGUE TRIBUNAL TO REPORT RUMP YUGOSLAVIA TO SECURITY COUNCIL.
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has reaffirmed that
it regards rump Yugoslavia as "criminal" and will formally ask the highest UN
body to take action against it. The issue is that Belgrade continues to harbor
three Serbian army officers against whom the court has issued arrest warrants.
The three are wanted in connection with the murder of 261 non-Serbs in the
Croatian town of Vukovar after it fell in November 1991, Nasa Borba and
the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on 4 April. Also in The
Hague, Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic pleaded "not guilty" in connection with
the massacre of Muslim civilians in the Lasva valley in 1993. The court,
meanwhile, returned Bosnian Serb Col. Aleksa Krsmanovic to Sarajevo, where he
faces a possible trial for crimes against humanity. The Hague tribunal had
concluded it did not have enough evidence to charge him. -- Patrick Moore
ROW OVER DECLARATION ON BOSNIAN UNITY.
Some 21 political parties and
organizations have signed a statement backing the indivisibility of the
republic, Oslobodjenje wrote on 4 April. Most of the groups are
Muslim--including President Alija Izetbegovic's Party of Democratic Action--but
the Serbian Civic Council and representatives of the Jewish community have also
signed. The five main opposition parties in parliament nonetheless balked,
charging that they were not consulted by Izetbegovic and former Prime Minister
Haris Silajdzic. The largest Bosnian Croat party also did not sign the
resolution sponsored by the two men. The apparent rapprochement between the
president and his estranged former prime minister is the subject of much
speculation in Bosnia, Vjesnik reported on 3 April. -- Patrick
ANTI-NATIONALIST SERBS SAY SARAJEVO CAN STILL BE MULTIETHNIC.
Presidency member Mirko Pejanovic has said that the capital can still be
multiethnic because many Serbs are interested in coming back. He argued that
the main obstacles are the Serbian nationalist "war criminals" in Pale and "the
state apparatus of local authorities" in Sarajevo, Onasa reported on 2 April.
Pejanovic heads the Serbian Civic Council (SGV), which remained loyal to the
Bosnian government throughout the war. The SGV has been active in persuading
Serbs to stay in Sarajevo or to return there. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIAN PARLIAMENT CURBING FREEDOM OF SPEECH?
The Sabor on 29 March
passed two controversial laws, which critics say are directed against the
country's few independent media. Under the first measure, the public prosecutor
must start legal proceedings against anyone offending or slandering the
president, parliamentary speaker, prime minister, or and presidents of the
supreme and constitutional courts, Reuters reported. The second is aimed at
persons "revealing state secrets." Investigative journalism in Croatia is
largely limited to one daily and two weeklies, and the latter especially are
active in exposing corruption and abuse of office by some members of the
governing party and their families. Government officials stated that the laws
are in keeping with "European norms" and were passed to protect institutions,
not personalities. Independent analyst Slaven Letica said that the law will be
challenged in the courts because it violates the principle of equality of all
citizens by singling out five top officials for special treatment. -- Patrick
MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS CALL FOR DISSOLUTION.
parliament on 3 April rejected a motion by the Liberal Party demanding that the
parliament be dissolved and early elections held, Nova Makedonija
reported. The Liberals' claim that the parliament is no longer representative
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 April 1996) was dismissed by the Social
Democrats and Socialists. Ethnic Albanian parties and independent legislators
were split over the issue. The Social Democrats called the Liberals' proposal a
"political bluff," saying the initiators of the motion should resign their
seats in the parliament if they doubt its legitimacy. -- Stefan Krause
SERBIAN POLICEMAN CONVICTED IN CONNECTION WITH KILLING OF ETHNIC ALBANIAN
Boban Krstic, deputy police chief in the Kosovar town of Kacanik,
has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in connection with the
1994 killing of a six-year-old ethnic Albanian boy, Bota Sot reported on
4 April. Krstic was convicted for "endangering public order" rather than for
manslaughter. He had fired 30 bullets into a car in July 1994, killing the boy
and seriously injuring his parents. He later claimed that he believed that a
criminal suspect was in the car. Bota Sot said that Krstic was also
involved in the death of an Albanian in the Kacanik jail in 1994. It added that
he fought in Bosnia on the side of the Bosnian Serbs and was highly decorated
there. -- Stefan Krause
EXIT VISAS FOR KOSOVAR ALBANIANS ABOLISHED.
The abolition of exit visas
for ethnic Albanians in Kosovo took effect on 1 April, international agencies
reported. Until now, Kosovars traveling to Albania via Macedonia without an
exit visa risked imprisonment by the Serbian authorities if they had Albanian
stamps in their passport. Albania praised the move as a step toward normalizing
relations. -- Fabian Schmidt
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON BASIC TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Ion Iliescu on 3 April
accused Hungary of delaying the signing of a bilateral basic treaty, Romanian
and Hungarian media reported. He stressed that Romania was not prepared to make
any concessions on including in the treaty Council of Europe Recommendation
1201, which is on ethnic minorities. Hungary is demanding that the
recommendation be included. Iliescu said that if Hungary drops that demand, "we
will immediately sign the basic treaty." He said ethnic groups that once formed
a majority but are now a minority find it hard to give up their former
privileges. -- Matyas Szabo
BULGARIA COMPLAINS ABOUT NOT BEING INVITED TO ARMS CONTROL TALKS.
Bulgarian government on 3 April complained that it has not been invited to
talks in Vienna on arms control in the post-cold war era, Reuters and
Demokratsiya reported. Delegates are to discuss the so-called Wassenaar
Agreement, which is intended to succeed COCOM. A Foreign Ministry spokesman
spoke of "the apparent injustice" of leaving Bulgaria out of the meeting, which
is to be attended by representatives of 31 states. He added that Bulgaria
fulfilled all preconditions and that he hoped an invitation would be
forthcoming. Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Foreign Ministry's International
Organizations Department, said that of the 28 initial signatories to the
Wassenaar Agreement, only the U.S. opposed Bulgaria's participation. -- Stefan
BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT SUBMITS MEMORANDUM ON NATO.
government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 3 April submitted a memorandum
outlining its position on NATO to the parliament's foreign policy and national
security commissions, Standart reported. The memorandum was in response
to a request from NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs
Gebhardt von Moltke that the Bulgarian cabinet clarify its position on
participation in NATO enlargement talks. Vasil Mihaylov of the Union of
Democratic Forces said the document says nothing about whether Bulgaria wants
to join NATO. Stoyan Denchev, deputy chairman of the foreign policy commission,
said it is not the parliament's job to deal with such documents and that the
memorandum should have been sent straight to NATO. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR SAYS HE MAY ARREST PATRIARCH.
Ivan Tatarchev on 3 April said he will start legal proceedings against
Patriarch Maksim and will arrest him "if necessary," Standart reported.
Maksim is accused of involvement in the occupation of a candle-making factory
that is run by the "alternative" Synod of Metropolit Pimen. In the latest of a
series of incidents involving Maksim's and Pimen's supporters, the factory was
occupied by priests loyal to the Patriarch on 18 March and was cleared by the
police on 1 April. Maksim's followers, however, occupied the building again on
2 April. Maksim's and Pimen's supporters parted ways after the government
invalidated Maksim's election in 1971 and appointed a new synod under Pimen.
Pimen's followers have announced they may soon form a second Orthodox Church in
Bulgaria. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave