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Newsline - April 15, 1996


EASTER CELEBRATED AT CATHEDRAL OF CHRIST THE SAVIOR.
President Boris Yeltsin on 14 April headed a 1,500-strong congregation at an Easter mass at the newly rebuilt Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. The mass was celebrated by Patriarch Aleksii II, who called the restoration of the cathedral "a symbol of the resurrection of Russia." Both Yeltsin and his main rival for the presidency, Communist contender Gennadii Zyuganov, have taken pains to express support for the Orthodox Church, and the Easter mass, which was televised nationwide, provided Yeltsin with useful pre-election media coverage. -- Penny Morvant

SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS ORDER TO TsIK.
The Supreme Court on 13 April suspended for further study its order to the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to register Duma member Vladimir Bryntsalov as a presidential candidate, NTV reported. The TsIK had protested a 10 April court order to register Bryntsalov to Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov, who told the Duma on 12 April that the court could overrule the TsIK's decision not to register Bryntsalov but could not force the TsIK to register him, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Meanwhile, the TsIK registered former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev as the fourth candidate and denied registration to Martin Shakum, president of the International Foundation for Economic and Social Reform, on the grounds that he did not submit enough valid nomination signatures. -- Robert Orttung

GRACHEV PREVENTS COMMUNISTS FROM CAMPAIGNING AMONG TROOPS.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has turned down a request from Communist Party campaign organizer Valentin Kuptsov to allow Zyuganov to meet with servicemen during the presidential campaign, ITAR-TASS reported 12 April. Zyuganov had planned a series of meetings with military units in the coming months. The Defense Ministry's top leadership has strenuously denied that there are political divisions among the ranks, and has signaled its support for Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung

POLL SHOWS WEAK SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRACY, MARKET ECONOMY.
A recent VTsIOM poll found that 41% of respondents believed that the Soviet political system existing before the 1990s was the best option for Russia, 27% supported Western-style democracy, and 9% favored the current system, Radio Rossii reported 14 April. Also, 42% said that they favored an economic system based on state planning, while approximately one-third favored a market economy and 25% chose "difficult to say" as a response. -- Robert Orttung

NOVODVORSKAYA CHARGED FOR BELITTLING RUSSIAN NATION.
Valeriya Novodvorskaya, the head of Russia's Democratic Union, is facing criminal charges for "repeatedly expressing opinions and spreading ideas suggesting the inferiority of the Russian nation," ITAR-TASS reported on 11 April. She is being charged under Article 74 of the Russian Criminal Code for "deliberate instigation of interethnic enmity." The writ cites articles by Novodvorskaya in Novyi vzglyad on 29 August 1993 and 15 January 1994 and an interview with Estonian television. It said she used "tendentiously selected facts and false statements about the Russian way of life" to generate "negative attitudes toward people of Russian nationality." Novodvorskaya was a prominent dissident in Soviet times and was imprisoned during perestroika for publicly calling President Mikhail Gorbachev a fascist. -- Penny Morvant

BARSUKOV EMPLOYS EX-KGB OFFICERS AS ADVISERS . . .
Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov has decided to restore the institution of veteran-advisers, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 13 April. Barsukov has reportedly appointed Col. Gen. Nikolai Golushko (Rt.), former security minister (1993-94), as a special adviser to the FSB director. Golushko served in the KGB for 34 years and was the last head of the Ukrainian KGB. -- Constantine Dmitriev in Moscow

. . . WHILE COMMUNISTS FEAR SECURITY SERVICE PROVOCATIONS.
Communist deputy Viktor Ilyukhin, the head of the Duma Committee on Security, told Ekho Moskvy on 12 April that the Russian security services are preparing three scenarios to discredit the Communist Party presidential candidate and his campaign. Ilyukhin said that the security services may accuse the Communist Party of creating paramilitary units to take power by force; of financial machinations during the 1995 parliamentary campaign; and of conducting separate negotiations with the Chechen separatist leaders. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

ST. PETERSBURG DVR BACKS YELTSIN, NATIONAL LEADERSHIP DIVIDED.
The St. Petersburg branch of Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) voted 49-25 to back President Yeltsin in the presidential campaign on 13 April, Express Khronika reported. The day before, the party's national Political Council failed to come to a decision. Party leader Yegor Gaidar told Segodnya that "Sergei Kovalev supports Yavlinskii, Anatolii Chubais is for Yeltsin." The 18 May party congress will resolve the issue. -- Robert Orttung

SPLIT IN DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
Twelve Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) regional branches have declared that they disagree with the party's decision at the 9th DPR Congress to support Duma deputy Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed for the presidential bid, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 13 April. Twelve DPR regional branches, which include the Moscow, Sverdlovsk, Kaluga, and Primorie organizations, have created an association supporting President Yeltsin for re-election. -- Anna Paretskaya

NEW CHECHEN PRIME MINISTER NAMED.
The Supreme Soviet on 13 April voted to appoint the former deputy head of the Russian railway troops, General Nikolai Koshman, as Chechen prime minister, NTV reported. Sporadic fighting in the west Chechen villages of Bamut, Goiskoe, and Stary Achkhoi between Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's forces and Russian federal troops continued on 13-14 April, but the commander of the Russian federal troops, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, announced on 13 April that the first contingent of Russian troops would begin withdrawing from Chechnya on 15 April. In an interview with NTV cited by AFP on 14 April, Dudaev's chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, said he is ready for peace talks, and blamed Russian forces for not observing the ceasefire proclaimed by President Yeltsin on 31 March. Meanwhile, Nadezhda Chaikova, 33, a reporter for the Moscow weekly Obschaya Gazeta became the 16th journalist killed in Chechnya since the conflict began in December 1994, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

CIS PRIME MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW.
The prime ministers of the 12 CIS member-states signed an integration plan for 1996-97, a crime-fighting agreement, and several other economic accords at a 12 April meeting in Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. The anti-crime agreement calls for the coordination of criminal codes and the creation of a united CIS criminal data base. NTV reported that the session, which dealt with 30 agenda items in less than three hours, had been much more productive than anticipated. Also concluded at the session were agreements bolstering the CIS unified air defense system and coordinating oil transit policy. -- Scott Parrish

PRIMORSK GOVERNOR CLAIMS MISUNDERSTANDING.
Primorsk Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko announced on 12 April that he has "no disagreement with the president over the Russo-Chinese border," Russian and Western agencies reported. Nazdratenko said journalists had misinterpreted him, and denied that he had announced that Yeltsin was suspending the ongoing demarcation of disputed segments of the Russo-Chinese border along the Tuman River. Yeltsin later angrily refuted Nazdratenko's remarks. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 and 12 April 1996). On the same day, Ussuri Cossack Ataman Vitalii Poluyanov announced that his troops would picket the disputed segments, which they claim are traditional Cossack territory, in order to prevent the demarcation. -- Scott Parrish

NORILSK NICKEL DIRECTOR FIRED.
Anatolii Filatov, the head of the Norilsk Nickel plant, has been fired by a decision of the Russian government, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 13 April. The giant combine has been mired in controversy since ONEKSIMbank acquired 38% of its shares in return for a $170 million loan last November. Filatov was preventing the bank from calling a shareholders meeting in order to appoint new members to its board. On 27 February, ONEKSIMbank won a court case the firm had brought to try to have the bank's purchase of shares declared illegal. The first deputy chairman of the State Metallurgy Committee, Vsevolod Generalov, will now take over as Norilsk director. -- Peter Rutland

TAX REVENUE PROBLEMS.
The Federation Council was told that budget revenues reached only 56% of the planned level in the first two months of this year, Russian TV reported on 13 April. The volume of uncollected taxes had risen to 40 trillion rubles ($8 billion) by the end of that period. Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov complained that his province had received only 16 billion rubles in transfers from the federal government, instead of the allotted 100 billion. Leningrad Governor Aleksandr Belyakov said that inflation had been needed to keep revenues rising: now that it has slowed, the government is in a quandary. -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT TO WRITE OFF FARM DEBTS.
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha said that the government will write off 18 trillion rubles ($11 billion in 1993-94 prices) borrowed by the agro-industrial complex from banks in 1993-1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 April. He also said the government will write down the 5 trillion rubles "commodity credits" given to farms in the form of tractors, machines and equipment during the same period. Zaveryukha said that unfavorable shifts in prices were largely responsible for the fact that farms lost a total of 46 trillion rubles ($10.1 billion) in 1995. -- Natalia Gurushina



AZERBAIJAN'S EX-PRESIDENT ARRESTED IN MOSCOW.
Former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov and former Defense Minister Rahim Gaziev were arrested in Moscow on 11 and 14 April respectively, Turan and Western agencies reported. Mutalibov, who was ousted by the Azerbaijani Popular Front in May 1992, and has been living in Moscow ever since, was briefly detained by Russian police in May last year. The Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly demanded his extradition, claiming that he was implicated in the alleged coup attempts against current President Heidar Aliyev in October 1994 and March 1995. Gaziev, a former leading member of the Azerbaijani Popular Front, was arrested for allegedly surrendering the towns of Shusha and Lachin to Armenian forces in the spring of 1993. He escaped from prison in September 1994 and fled to Moscow but was tried and sentenced to death in absentia in February 1996. -- Liz Fuller

ARMENIAN ENVOY IN ANKARA.
Gerard Libaridian, chief adviser to Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, arrived in Ankara on 12 April in a visit aimed at urging Turkey to balance its Caucasus policy by undertaking an unconditional dialogue with Armenia, Turkish and Western media reported the same day. Libaridian will meet with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel for talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. His arrival immediately preceded the departure of Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz for Baku. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEKISTAN STOPS TAJIKS GOING TO MECCA.
Some 2,000 Tajik pilgrims en route to Mecca were detained on Tajikistan's southern border with Uzbekistan because their travel documents were allegedly incomplete, according to an opposition Voice of Free Tajikistan report monitored by the BBC on 11 April. -- Lowell Bezanis

CADRE CHANGES IN KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN.
Kazakhstani Supreme Court Chairman Mikhail Malakov was suspended on 11 April pending investigation into charges that he accepted bribes from a convicted criminal, ITAR-TASS reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 February 1996). The day before, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev sacked the head of East Kazakhstan, Leonid Desyantik, for "serious mistakes and neglecting his duties." He was replaced by Kazkhymurat Nigmanov, formerly head of Zhezkazgan, which will now be headed by Yerlan Smailov, according to a Kazakh Radio report monitored by the BBC. In Kyrgyzstan, police Colonel Omurbek Kutuyev was appointed to the post of interior minister on 11 April, according to a Kyrgyz TV report monitored by the BBC. Former Interior Minister Modalbek Moldashev was obliged to resign on 2 April (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 April 1996). -- Lowell Bezanis

PRESS FREEDOM IN THE CIS.
Press freedom is in a sorry state in the countries of the CIS, according to the latest report from the Glasnost Defense Fund, Russian TV reported on 12 April. Aleksei Simonov said that journalists throughout the region find it difficult to get hold of information. The report divided the CIS into five groups. In Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, freedom of speech is completely absent. Things are a little better in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, where on occasion journalists are jailed. In Kyrgyzstan and Belarus, independent journalists are harassed, and Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova are not far behind. There are also "black holes" in press freedom in Russia--most notably, Chechnya. -- Peter Rutland



UKRAINE PLEAS FOR MORE CASH FOR CHORNOBYL.
Ukrainian Finance Minister Petro Hermanchuk on 14 April appealed to the EBRD board meeting in Sofia to lend more money to Ukraine for the expansion of its energy sector, RFE/RL reported. Ukraine's 15 nuclear reactors produce 40% of the nation's electricity, and the country is currently completing an additional five reactors. The EBRD is considering granting $1 billion to Ukraine to enable the completion of the Khmelnitski and Rivne reactors. -- Peter Rutland

BLACK SEA FLEET MANEUVERS.
For the first time in two years, ships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet put to sea to conduct a large-scale exercise, NTV reported on 13 April. Fleet commander Admiral Viktor Kravchenko told a press conference that the exercise will involve 46 ships in mine clearing and live firing drills. It is to culminate on 19 April with a marine landing. Ukrainian observers were present, but vessels from the Ukrainian fleet were not involved. The maneuvers coincide with the arrival in Kyiv on 15 April of NATO Secretary-General Javier de Solana at the beginning of his 12-nation tour of Eastern Europe. -- Peter Rutland

BELARUS DEFENDS FINANCIAL POLICY.
Valyantsin Vasilevich, deputy head of the Belarus National Bank, said on 13 April that Belarus may introduce a fixed exchange rate within several months, RFE/RL reported. Valentin was speaking at a meeting of the EBRD board in Sofia. The IMF has suspended lending to Belarus, partly because it accuses the National Bank of preventing the Belarusian ruble from depreciating. Meanwhile, the head of the Belarus parliament, Syamyon Sharetsky, told a press conference that preparations are under way for the creation of an interparliamentary assembly between Belarus and Russia, Russian Television reported on 14 April. A document should be ready for ratification by the two parliaments by the end of the month. -- Peter Rutland

LITHUANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER WANTS TO QUIT RULING PARTY.
Linas Linkevicius is planning to quit the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDPP), Lithuanian Radio and Reuters reported. No reason has been given for his decision, which comes only two days before NATO Secretary-General Javier de Solana's visit to Lithuania. If he leaves the party, Linkevicius will also have to vacate his ministerial post, a government source told Reuters. The LDPP, the successor to the Lithuanian Communist Party, recently survived a government crisis that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius. It is expected to suffer a defeat in the October general elections. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH PRESIDENT VISITS BALTIC STATES.
Vaclav Havel departed for a visit to Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia on the weekend. The heads of those three states all visited Prague in late 1994 to meet with Havel. Before his departure, Havel told journalists that "all states should have the right to decide where their place is [internationally]. This should no longer be decided by the army headquarters of big powers." In an interview with the Latvian daily Diena on 13 April, Havel said the aim of his visit is "to express our solidarity with the three Baltic States and to contribute to a further deepening of bilateral relations." Havel arrived in Riga on 14 April where he was met by Prime Minister Andris Skele. -- Jiri Pehe

PRESIDENT OF POLISH PUBLIC TV APPOINTED.
The Supervisory Council of Polish Public TV on 12 April appointed Ryszard Miazek as TVP president, Polish dailies reported. Miazek is supported by the coalition Polish Peasant Party. Since two other board members are supported by the ruling Democratic Left Alliance, the coalition now has a majority on the 5-member board. TVP management recently experienced a crisis when TVP1 director Maciej Pawlicki was dismissed and former TVP President Wieslaw Walendziak resigned. Both men were accused by the ruling coalition of opposition sympathies. The opposition saw them as guaranteeing the independence of TVP. -- Jakub Karpinski

SOLIDARITY GAINS SUPPORT.
In an opinion poll conducted in March by the Sopot Social Research Bureau, the trade union Solidarity received 17% of the vote, up one percentage point on the previous month. The Movement for Poland's Reconstruction, the Christian-National Alliance, the Non-Party Bloc of Support for Reforms (created to back former President Lech Walesa), the Freedom Union, and even the Labor Union -- which is opposed to Solidarity's anti-communist stance -- have declared their wish to establish an alliance with Solidarity for the 1997 parliamentary elections. But the leaders of those parties have stressed they would have difficulties forging an alliance with the other right-wing parties, Rzeczpospolita reported on 15 April. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH REPUBLIC, POLAND TO JOINTLY MODERNIZE AIR FORCES.
The Czech and Polish defense and foreign ministers, meeting in the Czech town of Vyskov on 13 April, agreed to create a Czech-Polish commission tasked with recommending how to jointly modernize the two countries' air forces, Czech media reported. Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec said after the meeting that the commission will focus on the possible joint purchases of airplanes and weapons as well as cooperation in the aircraft industry and air traffic control. International media last week reported that the Czech Republic and Poland are considering buying jointly Western-made fighter jets. -- Jiri Pehe

DELEGATION FROM EUROPEAN JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION IN SLOVAKIA.
A delegation from the European Journalists Association (EJA), led by Chairman Athanase Papandropoulos and Secretary-General Miguel Angel Aguilar, concluded a three-day visit to Slovakia on 14 April, TASR reported. The press office of the Slovak cabinet invited the EJA to come on a fact-finding mission after the association passed a resolution critical of Slovakia at its congress in Malta last fall. The delegation was received by Deputy Prime Minister Katharina Tothova, other government officials, and the heads of various media organizations. Slovak journalist and EJA representative in Slovakia Juraj Alner, however, was excluded from meetings with Slovak officials. The EJA delegation refused to attend a gathering, headed by Culture Minister Ivan Hudec, to which Alner had not been invited. It later issued an open letter saying, "We came to learn about relations between authorities and the media. The first impression was not very good." -- Jiri Pehe

ROMANI-SLOVAK DICTIONARY LAUNCHED.
Slovak Culture Minister Ivan Hudec and Archbishop of Bratislava Jan Sokol attended a reception introducing what has been called a "unique" Romani-Slovak dictionary, TASR reported on 11 April. Also present were other state and Church officials as well as Romani representatives. The dictionary contains the 15,000 words most frequently used by Roma in Slovakia, detailing from which of the several Slovensko-Romani and Vlax-Romani dialects they originate. -- Alaina Lemon

HUNGARY, POLAND SAY RUSSIA CANNOT VETO THEIR NATO PLANS.
Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and his visiting Polish counterpart, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, have said they will not let Russia interfere with their plans to join NATO, Hungarian and international media reported. "We have to take into account Russia's position, but we agreed that Russia cannot veto our NATO membership," Horn said. He added that expansion of the military alliance will strengthen rather than weaken security in Eastern Europe. Cimoszewicz, who was on his first official visit to Budapest, noted that Moscow's problem is "not NATO's expansion but NATO itself." The two premiers nonetheless stressed the importance of further dialogue with Russia. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

BUDAPEST STOCK EXCHANGE ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT.
Zsigmond Jarai, head of the Hungarian Credit Bank, was elected president of the Exchange Council of the Budapest Stock Exchange (BSE) on 12 April, Hungarian media reported. Jarai plans to reorganize the BSE, have Hungarian shares listed on international exchanges, and introduce foreign securities on the Budapest market. Jarai defeated former Finance Minister Lajos Bokros by a small margin. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



BOSNIAN AID CONFERENCE CLOSES.
Representatives of 55 countries and 26 international organizations ended a two-day session in Brussels on 13 April, having secured the necessary $1.2 billion in additional reconstruction aid pledges, Onasa reported. Bosnian Serb representatives were not present because they refused to join a Bosnian delegation that included federal officials. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt said the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic should be arrested because it is "not acceptable" that indicted war criminals continue to move about freely, Western news agencies noted. The Bosnian Serbs will receive a share of the aid, but it will be linked to their support for the Dayton agreement, Nasa Borba reported on 15 April. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN MUSLIM ELECTION CAMPAIGN BEGINS.
President Alija Izetbegovic on 13 April kicked off his election campaign and made his first major public appearance since his hospitalization earlier this year, Oslobodjenje reported on 15 April. Speaking at a stadium at Zenica, he lashed out at former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, who on 13 April formally launched his non-nationalist Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina. A recent poll suggested that Silajdzic would defeat the president in an election among urban Muslims, and Izetbegovic has warned that the new party could split the Muslim vote in the elections due by this fall. At Zenica, Izetbegovic said his critics refuse to give him and his party credit for what are really massive achievements. Bosnian Croat leader and federal President Kresimir Zubak said the same day that Izetbegovic must be brought into talks aimed at shoring up the shaky Croat-Muslim federation, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 15 April. -- Patrick Moore

BRCKO REFUGEES WANT TO GO HOME.
Up to 15,000 mainly Muslim refugees from the strategic northern Bosnian town of Brcko held a protest on federal territory to the south on 15 April, Western news agencies reported. Brcko controls the narrow corridor linking Serbia with Bosnian Serb territories around Banja Luka. Its fate will be decided later by international arbitration. Pale has settled many Serbs from Sarajevo there this year in the hope of influencing the mediators' decision. Mayor Munib Jusufovic said arbitration will be feasible only when the people of Brcko have been allowed to go home, a message echoed by Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic. Meanwhile in Tuzla, the first phase of on-site inquiries into atrocities was concluded on 14 April, Onasa reported. The UN experts returned to The Hague but declined to comment on their findings. -- Patrick Moore

INTERNATIONAL HELSINKI FEDERATION ACCUSES SERBIA OF VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO.
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) on 12 April urged the EU and the OSCE to "consider the current state of human rights for Kosovo Albanians who continue to live under repression that is utterly at variance with European and OSCE standards." The EU has stated that its requirements for recognition of rump Yugoslavia include "full respect for human [and] minority rights [and] the granting of a large degree of autonomy for ...Kosovo." The IHF pointed out that these requirements have not been met, saying there were 2,666 reported cases of "severe mistreatment and torture in Serbian police custody" in 1995. Meanwhile, Kosovar shadow state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi urged the U.S. to "continue not to recognize rump Yugoslavia." Bukoshi arrived in the U.S. on 15 April, AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT IN CROATIA.
Kiro Gligorov met with his Croatian counterpart, Franjo Tudjman, in Zagreb on 12 April, Reuters reported. Both presidents ruled out a new union of former Yugoslav republics but stressed the need for political and economic ties. "We oppose pre-set formulas of a union, federation or confederation of former Yugoslav republics," Gligorov said. He pointed out that the Balkans have had "bitter experience with such political formations." Gligorov said all partners should be equal and should build political, economic, and cultural relations among themselves on a voluntary basis. Gligorov was making his first trip abroad since he was injured in a car bomb attack last fall. Unlike Macedonia, Croatia has not recognized rump Yugoslavia owing to the continued dispute over the division of Yugoslav-era assets and debts among the successor states as well as other issues. -- Fabian Schmidt

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER IN MACEDONIA.
Qian Qichen and Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov on 14 April agreed to promote economic exchanges between their two countries, AFP reported. Qian also met with Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski. The two sides agreed to establish a joint committee to develop exchanges. They also plan to sign soon accords on protecting investments and avoiding double taxation. In October 1993, China was one of the first countries to recognize Macedonia under the name of Republic of Macedonia, despite Greek objections. -- Fabian Schmidt

GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER CONCLUDES VISIT TO ROMANIA.
Volker Ruehe on 12 April said it is only "natural" that the 12 states that have applied for NATO membership cannot be accepted at the same time, Romanian media reported. Asked what Romania should do to advance its chances, Ruehe replied "more of the same." During his visit, he met with President Ion Iliescu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, and his Romanian counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca. In Sibiu, he expressed satisfaction at the situation of Romania's German minority. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIA, HUNGARY MAKE PROGRESS ON BASIC TREATY?
Hungarian Ambassador to Bucharest Ferenc Szocs on 12 April said he is optimistic that the basic treaty between Romania and Hungary will soon be concluded, Adevarul reported. Szocs said Romania has now agreed to the inclusion of Recommendation 1201 in the treaty but that agreement still has to be reached on how to include it. Szocs also said that other unresolved issues are the Magyar minority's right to use its own language in official contexts and setting up a joint commission to supervise the implementation of the treaty. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN DELEGATION AT CIS SUMMIT.
The Moldovan delegation to the CIS summit meeting in Moscow on 12 April took part in discussions on cooperation in 1996, particularly on setting up a customs and payments union, Infotag reported. The group, however, was not present at talks on military and border defense issues. Premier Andrei Sangheli headed the delegation. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN SUPREME COURT REVOKES SENTENCES OF PRE-COMMUNIST LEGISLATORS.
The Bulgarian Supreme Court has rehabilitated legislators who were sentenced by the communist-era People's Court for high treason and cooperation with foreign powers during the war. Of the 124 legislators sentenced, 67 were given the death penalty, Demokratsija reported on 13 April. Bulgaria was an ally of Nazi Germany from 1941-1944 before the Communists took power. In 1994, the Supreme Court rehabilitated nine journalists, publishers, and lawyers sentenced by the People's Court. -- Fabian Schmidt

EBRD MEETING IN SOFIA.
At a meeting of the board of governors of the EBRD beginning in Sofia on 15 April, the 57 shareholding governments are expected to double the ERBD's annual capital from $12.7 million to $25.4 million. Hans-Peter Lankes, a EBRD chief economist, said prior to the meeting that Bulgaria "is one of the riskiest foreign investment sites" in Eastern Europe, RFE/RL reported. EBRD Bulgarian director Oliver Descamps said the country has the legal framework to attract foreign investment, but he pointed out that the government has "obviously not been able to reach any form of mutual agreement" with major potential foreign investors. Nonetheless, he praised Sofia's policy of learning from the experience of the Czech Republic in drawing up regulations for its mass privatization program based on coupons. -- Fabian Schmidt

POLISH PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA.
Aleksander Kwasniewski and his Bulgarian counterpart, Zhelyu Zhelev, meeting in Sofia on 13 April, said they both oppose a "new edition of the Soviet Union, whatever its form," AFP reported. They called for NATO enlargement, despite Russian objections. Bulgaria has been highly critical of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's invitation to join a union of former Soviet states that includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Kwasniewski pointed out that "no other state, great or small, can impose conditions for joining NATO." While Zhelev supports Bulgaria's speedy membership in NATO, the socialist government has not yet applied. Bulgaria is a member of the Partnership for Peace program. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN ELECTION COMMISSION BANS ANOTHER 35 CANDIDATES.
The government commission vetting candidates for the parliamentary elections has banned 35 Socialists--including deputy leader Servet Pellumbi and Secretary-General Gramoz Ruci--from taking part. The commission last week prohibited the participation of six members of the Democratic Alliance. The ruling Democratic Party daily Rilindja Demokratike on 13 April published the names of the banned candidates under the title "The Red Front, the Front of Spies." Seven of the Socialist candidates have been banned because they were ministers in communist-era governments, while 27 are allegedly former secret police members or informers. The writer Dritero Agolli has been banned from participating because he is a former member of the Central Committee of the Albanian Labor Party. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka charged that President Sali Berisha is using the commission to weaken his opponents in the elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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