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Newsline - April 23, 1996


COURT RULES YELTSIN MAY RETURN LAWS TO PARLIAMENT.
The Constitutional Court handed President Boris Yeltsin another method of blocking legislation, ruling that the president may return a law to parliament if he finds legal flaws in the document or procedural violations in how it was passed, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 22 April. Parliamentary representatives who brought the case had argued that the constitution grants the president only two options once a law has been passed by the State Duma and Federation Council: to sign or to veto. Duma deputy and Communist Party member Oleg Mironov complained to Russian TV (RTR) that the ruling expands the president's already extensive powers, making him in effect a "censor over legislative activities." The court also ruled that the president must act on laws within 14 days, or else he will have no option but to approve them. -- Laura Belin

ZYUGANOV DEFENDS ECONOMIC PROGRAM.
Gennadii Zyuganov defended his party's economic program in a 21 April interview on NTV. He said that all forms of property would be respected but declined to give explicit guarantees for private property. He equivocated when pressed to specify how he would control inflation or meet IMF loans conditions, merely repeating familiar themes such as the need to revive domestic industrial production and improve tax collection. He denied that he feels under pressure from leftist parties. He said he is willing to talk "with all sides" in the Chechen conflict--implying that this would include Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev--but insisted that the territorial integrity of Russia is not negotiable. -- Peter Rutland

ADMINISTRATION SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON GRACHEV SPEECH.
Yeltsin administration figures on 23 April provided conflicting accounts of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's 19 April speech to the Duma. The Defense Ministry information department criticized NTV for claiming that Grachev "betrayed the president" and disagreed with the president's peace plan in his speech, Krasnaya zvezda reported. However, presidential national security adviser Yurii Baturin argued that Grachev's criticism of the president's peace plan was "his own opinion," Izvestiya reported on 23 April. Baturin admitted, however, that he had not read the full text of the speech. Citing the failure of the military to implement the peace plan and the high casualty figures on both sides of the conflict, Nezavisimaya gazeta concluded on 23 April that "serious personnel changes are in the works." Numerous rumors of Grachev's impending dismissal in the past have proven unfounded. -- Robert Orttung

YAROSLAVL YABLOKO BACKS YELTSIN.
The Yaroslavl branch of Yabloko joined a host of other democratic parties at the Interregional Congress of Russian Reform Forces in issuing an appeal to support President Boris Yeltsin as a single candidate from the democratic camp, NTV reported on 22 April. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii is running his own campaign and has vowed not to support Yeltsin under any circumstances. Vladimir Shumeiko's Reforms-New Course, one of several groups backing Yeltsin's candidacy, organized the affair. Representatives from Russia's Democratic Choice were also at the congress, although that party has yet to decide whom it will support. The pro-Yeltsin mood at the congress was not unanimous. Duma member Konstantin Borovoi argued that the reformers need to support a single candidate only in the second round, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Robert Orttung

"NONE OF THE ABOVE" SUPPORTERS ORGANIZE MOVEMENT.
A group of citizens has announced the formation of "Nyet," a group that will ask voters to vote against all candidates in the second round of the presidential elections, ITAR-TASS reported. If "none of the above" gets more votes than either of the candidates, new elections have to be called within three months. Recent polls show that 18% of the voters would reject both Yeltsin and Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov if they are the two to reach the second round. Meanwhile, the Central Electoral Committee denied registration to MMM pyramid scheme director Sergei Mavrodi but bowed to a Supreme Court order to register the vice president of the International Foundation for Economic and Social Reform, Martin Shakkum, as the eighth candidate, Russian TV (RTR) reported. -- Robert Orttung

FUTURES TRADING ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BEGINS.
As is the practice in some Western countries, a "futures market" on the presidential election opened on the Russian stock exchange on 22 April, NTV and Russian TV reported. Speculators can purchase "futures contracts" indicating the percentage of the vote they expect candidates to receive. On the first day of trading, Gennadii Zyuganov finished with 26.4%, Boris Yeltsin 25.3%, Svyatoslav Fedorov 13%, Grigorii Yavlinskii 11%, Vladimir Zhirinovsky 6.1%, Aleksandr Lebed 4.8%, and Mikhail Gorbachev 1.2%. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNISTS PAY TRIBUTE TO LENIN.
Russian communists, led by presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov, laid wreaths on Lenin's tomb on 22 April to mark the 126th anniversary of the Soviet leader's birth, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. A few hundred people, mostly elderly, took part in the procession. The popular daily Moskovskii komsomolets made fun of the anniversary with a front-page layout parodying the Pravda of yesteryear. It included a long eulogy to Lenin and a dull harvest report. -- Penny Morvant

CHECHEN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER WOUNDED.
Badruddin Djamalkhanov, a deputy prime minister of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, was seriously wounded and two of his entourage killed in an assassination attempt in Grozny on 23 April, ITAR-TASS reported, quoting the commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov. Last week, Anatolii Yagodin became the 17th journalist to be killed in Chechnya since the beginning of hostilities in December 1994. In southern Chechnya, the town of Shali with a population of 50,000 (including 20,000 refugees) has been surrounded for four days by Russian troops because of the alleged presence there of 350 Chechen militants under the command of President Dzhokhar Dudaev's chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, Russian media reported. -- Liz Fuller

YELTSIN COURTS REGIONAL PRESS.
Admitting that the presidential administration has been guilty of "insufficient openness" in the past, Yeltsin's chief of staff, Nikolai Yegorov, announced the creation of a "regional press agency," ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 22 April. He said regional journalists would be given more opportunities to interview top leaders and accompany the president on his travels. The agency is intended to facilitate favorable coverage of the president during the upcoming campaign, as Russians increasingly get their news from media based in their own regions. -- Laura Belin

YELTSIN IN CHINA.
On 22 April, President Yeltsin departed for a three-day visit to Beijing, Russian and Western agencies reported. The same day his foreign policy adviser, Dmitrii Ryurikov, announced that the demarcation process taking place under the 1991 Soviet-Chinese border agreement had been temporarily frozen pending discussions to be held during the visit. As recently as12 April, Yeltsin had announced that the demarcation would be accelerated. The confusion suggests that the border agreement has opponents within the Yeltsin administration. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN FISHERIES OFFICIAL BLAMES JAPAN FOR STALLING TALKS.
The deputy chairman of the Russian Fisheries Committee, Aleksandr Rodin, blamed Japan for continued failure to conclude a bilateral agreement regulating fishing rights in the waters around the disputed southern Kuril islands, AFP reported on 22 April. Rodin claimed that Japanese refusal to accept inspections by Russian fisheries authorities is the "only obstacle" blocking an agreement in the long-running talks. The lack of an agreement has led to several incidents in which Russian border guards have fired on Japanese trawlers. Rodin's remarks contrast sharply with the warm tone of President Yeltsin's recent meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Ryuarto Hashimoto, and illustrate the continuing poor coordination of Russian foreign policy. -- Scott Parrish

REACTION TO MOSCOW SUMMIT MEETINGS.
The recent G-7 nuclear safety summit in Moscow was perfectly staged to bolster President Yeltsin's election campaign, Izvestiya reported on 23 April. The paper noted that during the summit and his subsequent talks with Yeltsin, U.S. President Bill Clinton had "deliberately" attempted to avoid a transparent display of support for Yeltsin. However, the paper noted that the G-7 leaders had "avoided at all cost" any criticism of Yeltsin's Chechnya policy, pointing out that Clinton even compared the Chechen conflict with the U.S. Civil War. These remarks earned Clinton censure from the independent monitoring group Human Rights Watch, which said he had "abdicated all responsibility" for advocating improved human rights in Russia, AFP reported. -- Scott Parrish

BUDGET DEFICIT WIDENS.
In the first quarter of 1996, federal budget spending was 75% of the planned level, while income only reached 68%, Segodnya reported on 19 April. The gap was financed through the sale of 18.4 trillion rubles ($3.8 billion) of treasury bills (GKOs) and 14.3 trillion rubles of foreign loans, and by more dubious "non-traditional" means, such as tax waivers (2.8 trillion rubles) and bank credits (3.7 trillion rubles). Olga Dmitrieva, the head of a subcommittee of the Duma's Budget Committee, criticized both the government and Duma deputies for pursuing policies that exacerbate the situation, increasing spending while further eroding revenues, Segodnya reported on 20 April. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSO-CHINESE TRADE ON THE INCREASE.
The volume of Russo-Chinese trade reached $5.5 billion in 1995, up 7.6% over 1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 April, citing Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov. Russia's exports to China stood at $3.8 billion, mainly metals and fertilizer, while imports reached $1.7 billion. In 1994, 49% of the trade was conducted through barter, but this proportion fell to 29% in 1995. In the first two months of 1996, Russo-Chinese trade rose 20% compared with the same period last year. -- Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA CANCELS NICARAGUAN DEBT.
Russia has agreed to write off 98% of Nicaragua's $3.4 billion debt to the former USSR, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 19 April. The bulk of the debt were payments for weapons, oil, and raw materials supplied to the Sandinista government in the 1980s. Nicaragua will repay the remaining $70 million debt over 18 years beginning in 2001. -- Natalia Gurushina



TRANSCAUCASUS PRESIDENTS SIGN ACCORDS WITH EU.
The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia signed partnership and cooperation accords with the EU in Luxemburg on 22 April, Turan and Western agencies reported. The accords provide for increased political dialog at the ministerial level, cultural and social exchanges, and a gradual relaxation of trade barriers. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev further pledged to continue to observe the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement signed in May 1994, pending a political settlement of the conflict--a move praised as "encouraging" by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel. -- Liz Fuller

MUSAVAT PARTY SECRETARY RELEASED.
Arif Hadjiev, the secretary of the opposition Musavat Party detained by police in Baku last week, has been released after being charged with concealing state crimes and resisting arrest, Turan reported. Former President Abulfaz Elchibey, who disappeared after police occupied his headquarters in the Nakhichevan village of Keleki on 19 April, has taken refuge with relatives and is unharmed. Turan and Russian TV (RTR) quoted President Heidar Aliyev as saying in Baku before departing for Europe that former President Ayaz Mutalibov, whose extradition from Moscow to Baku is currently being negotiated, could receive a 12-year sentence rather than the death penalty if he pleads guilty. -- Liz Fuller

KAZAKHSTAN TO BUILD MEDICAL CENTER AT NUCLEAR TESTING SITE.
An international medical center is to be built at the former Soviet nuclear testing grounds at Semipalatinsk, the republic's minister of science and new technologies told ITAR-TASS on 22 April. The center will receive both government funding and humanitarian aid from abroad. It will specialize in the medical effects of nearly 40 years of nuclear tests conducted in the region. The incidence of cardiovascular diseases in the areas affected by the tests is more than two times higher than the average for the republic as a whole, while that for diseases of the blood is nearly five times higher. -- Doug Clarke

BOMB EXPLOSIONS NEAR GOVERNMENT BUILDING IN BISHKEK.
Two bombs exploded near government buildings in Bishkek during the early hours of 20 April, according to a Kyrgyz TV report monitored by the BBC. No damage or casualties have been reported and an investigation has been launched. -- Bhavna Dave

KARIMOV IN FRANCE.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov is wrapping up a four-day visit to France on 23 April during which he met with his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, to discuss measures to assist French investors in Uzbekistan, Russian media reported. The Uzbek delegation noted that there are only five Uzbek-French joint ventures, while there are more than 200 U.S. and 170 German joint ventures. Last week, Andre Helfi, the director of the company Technip Kramer, was in Tashkent to finalize a $250 million deal to help construct what will be the largest oil refinery in Uzbekistan. -- Roger Kangas



CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE CONTINUES IN UKRAINE.
Ukraine's parliament on 23 April continued to debate the draft constitution, ITAR-TASS reported. Last week, parliament rejected the first reading of the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission's draft and has now received five alternative drafts for review. The Communists' draft preserves the system of local councils and rejects the institution of the presidency. The Christian Democrats' draft is almost identical to the one prepared by the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission, except that it balances power among the elected assemblies, the president, and the country's courts, where the commission's draft allocates more power to the president.
The 1993 draft constitution is also up for consideration. -- Ustina Markus

SOCIALISTS ON UKRAINE'S CONSTITUTION.
The socialist caucus in Ukraine's parliament held a press conference on 20 April giving their view on the constitutional debate, Ukrainian TV reported. According to the head of the caucus, Ivan Chuzh, the draft presented by the special Parliamentary Constitutional Commission, only protects the upper classes. The socialists oppose the draft's article on the protection of private property, although they do not oppose private property itself. Chuzh said it was necessary to adopt a constitution, but that the socialists are opposed to a national referendum on the constitution since it could lead to separatism. -- Ustina Markus

ECOLOGICAL, HEALTH WOES IN UKRAINE.
The river Horyn in northwestern Ukraine, which supplies drinking water to that region and to southern Belarus, is threatened by phosphorous pollutants from the enterprise Rovnaozot, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 April. The enterprise, situated on some 60 hectares of land, has already contaminated underground water sources. Around 5% of lakes in the area have become "dead" as a result of industrial pollution. Some water sources in each of Ukraine's 25 oblasts have tested undrinkable. In the Lviv oblast, which has the most contaminated drinking water in the country, 640 children and some 200 adults have contracted a gum disease caused by too much fluoride in the water. -- Ustina Markus

DEADLINE APPROACHES FOR ESTONIAN RESIDENCE PERMIT APPLICATIONS.
Piia Oobik, head of the Citizenship and Migration Department Immigration Sector, noted that aliens in Estonia have until the end of April to hand in residence permit applications, BNS reported on 22 April. Only aliens with residence permits can continue to reside legally in Estonia after 12 July. Illegal aliens will be deprived of the right to social maintenance benefits and pensions; by law, every alien without a residence permit should be issued an order to leave the country on 12 July, but this will be impossible to implement. Over 330,000 aliens have handed in residence applications, but less than 20,000 have received residence permits so far. -- Saulius Girnius

NORWEGIAN PREMIER VISITS LATVIA.
Gro Harlen Brundtland began a two-day visit to Latvia on 22 April that is aimed at strengthening economic ties, BNS reported. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs and Norwegian Ambassador Knut Toraasen signed agreements on customs and oil research cooperation, the exchange of embassy buildings in Oslo and Riga, and the introduction of a Norwegian sea monitoring system in Latvia. In addition to meetings with President Guntis Ulmanis, Prime Minister Andris Skele, and Parliament Chairman Ilga Kreituse, Brundtland participated in the openings of a Norwegian art exhibition and the Norwegian Business Days Fair. -- Saulius Girnius

RESIGNATION OF LITHUANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER REQUESTED.
The ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) faction on 22 April called for the resignation of Linas Linkevicius, Radio Lithuania reported. Linkevicius formally resigned from the LDDP a week earlier, claiming that it was unable to solve big problems and had little political future. He later offered to remain in the LDDP faction when his resignation threatened his ministerial post, but the LDDP rejected his proposal. Faction leader Gediminas Kirkilas called Linkevicius's exit from the LDDP "treason" and said the faction would request that party member Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius ask President Algirdas Brazauskas to fire Linkevicius as Defense Minister. -- Saulius Girnius

FORMER POLISH PRIME MINISTER CLEARED OF SPY ALLEGATIONS.
Col. Slawomir Gorzkiewicz, the Deputy Military Prosecutor in Warsaw, said at a news conference on 22 April that he decided to close the case against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. Gorzkiewicz said the investigation established no direct evidence against Oleksy who was suspected of transmitting secret information to Soviet and Russian agents in Poland. Former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski made public the espionage allegations against Oleksy in December, after former President Lech Walesa lost the presidential election to Aleksander Kwasniewski, then the leader of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SDL). Oleksy became leader of SDL after President Kwasniewski was elected. Gorzkiewicz said that a four-page hand-written report by an unidentified Russian agent was the main piece of evidence in the Oleksy case, but intelligence agents failed to verify the document's authenticity. -- Jakub Karpinski

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER IN PRAGUE.
Qian Qichen ended a three-day visit to the Czech Republic on 22 April after talks with President Vaclav Havel, Czech media reported. Havel, a former anti-communist dissident, expressed concerns about political persecution in China, and also called for a degree of autonomy for Tibet. Havel angered the Beijing authorities last year when he met Taiwanese Premier Lien Chan and expressed regret that Taiwan is not a member of the UN. During his visit, Qian also met Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and leading Czech industrialists to discuss economic cooperation. Bilateral trade between the Czech Republic and China last year amounted to more than 7.5 billion crowns ($275 million dollars). -- Steve Kettle

BOMB EXPLODES IN PRAGUE.
A bomb exploded in downtown Prague shortly after midnight on 22 April causing around one million crowns ($35,000) worth of damage to shops but no injuries, Czech media reported. The device was placed outside a leather goods shop owned by a Turkish businessman in a popular tourist street close to the Charles Bridge. The street was deserted at the time of the explosion. Police said they received no warning of the bomb's presence and said the attack was the first of its kind in central Prague. They added that it could be connected to a blackmail attempt, a settling of accounts, or organized crime. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN.
Juraj Schenk on 22 April confirmed that three days earlier he recalled Slovak Ambassador to the Vatican Anton Neuwirth for consultations, but said relations with the Vatican remain unchanged, Praca reported. Schenk denied allegations that the move is connected with the Vatican's recent appointment of Slovak Archbishop Dominik Hrusovsky as Papal Nuncio in Belarus, a step which the opposition press called "political exile," claiming it weakens the pro-government wing of the Catholic Church in Slovakia. Schenk said the nature of the consultations with Neuwirth is an internal affair of his ministry, and he added that the ambassadors to Britain and Cyprus were recalled simultaneously. He did not say whether their recall is connected with preparations for their dismissal, which would require presidential approval. Before taking his current post, Neuwirth was a top representative of the opposition Christian Democratic Movement. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY WITHDRAWS CANDIDACY FOR TOP OSCE POST.
The Hungarian Foreign Ministry on 22 April officially withdrew its nomination of Istvan Gyarmati--Hungary's ambassador to the OSCE--for the post of OSCE Secretary-General after Slovakia foiled the nomination, Nepszabadsag reported the next day. Despite the fact that Gyarmati enjoyed support from the majority of the OSCE countries, Slovakia maintained a firm and consistent opposition to Gyarmati's nomination. Hungarian foreign ministry officials say that after fierce competition between Visegrad country nominees, it is unlikely that the future OSCE head will be a Visegrad native. (Current Secretary-General Wilhelm Hoynck's term will expire in 45 days.) At the same time, Bratislava's move may further aggravate already tense relations between Hungary and Slovakia. Meanwhile, Slovak Foreign Minister Jurej Schenk told Slovak Radio on 22 April that Jan Kubis, Director of the OSCE Center for Conflict Prevention, has been nominated for the post. -- Zsofia Szilagyi and Sharon Fisher

KOVAC: APPENDIX NOT PART OF BASIC SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY.
In an interview with the Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag on 23 April, Slovak President Michal Kovac said the Slovak National Council's one-sided interpretative addendum of the Slovak-Hungarian basic treaty does not constitute part of the treaty and therefore, will not affect contractual relations between the two countries. Kovac said that the aim of the addendum is to reassure those in Slovakia concerned by the Council of Europe's Recommendation 1201, and added that the interpretation will in no way affect the Hungarian side. He also asserted that he reserves the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court if the constitutional rights of ethnic minorities are curtailed as a result of the state language law, Magyar Hirlap reported. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



KARADZIC DEMANDS INQUIRY OVER BRITISH MOVE TO BANJA LUKA.
Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic continues to be upset over the move of the British headquarters to Banja Luka (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 April 1996). AFP quoted Karadzic's news agency, SRNA, as saying that Karadzic "ordered an inquiry to find out who promised to set up the British divisional headquarters in Banja Luka despite the opposition of parliament and the leadership of the Republika Srpska...Stationing of foreign troops in Banja Luka will be detrimental to this city, which is the most important cultural, university, and business center in the Republika Srpska." At issue is a test of wills not only between Karadzic and the British, but also between the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale and the one in Banja Luka, which wants its city to become the capital. Meanwhile in Stockholm, the Chief Justice of the international war-crimes tribunal, Richard Goldstone, said that Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, also an indicted war criminal, are becoming increasingly marginalized and that the chances of arresting them are improving. -- Patrick Moore

RULES SET FOR BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
The OSCE on 22 April issued a 12-page booklet setting down the rules for the elections slated to take place by mid-September. Called "the most complex elections in history," balloting will involve seven levels of government, from the presidency of the republic to local officials. Election supervisor Robert Frowick said that the vote will require freedom of association, expression, and movement, as well as a politically neutral atmosphere. This is quite a tall order for Bosnia and it is not clear whether the elections will actually take place. The Bosnian government representative, Kasim Begic, was unhappy with the provisions in the booklet which allow for refugees to vote in their new places of residence rather than in their prewar homes, as specified in the Dayton agreement. Begic also wanted tighter controls on participation by parties from Croatia and Serbia, Oslobodjenje reported on 23 April. -- Patrick Moore

FINLAND RECOGNIZES RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Finland became on 22 April the tenth country to recognize rump Yugoslavia as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, following similar moves by France, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, and Germany, Beta reported that same day. Finnish officials have remarked that their decision was in accordance with EU policy that enabled recognition once rump Yugoslavia and Macedonia moved towards bilateral recognition on 8 April. AFP added that on 18 April the European Parliament criticized those countries which have recognized the rump Yugoslavia, suggesting that the decision failed to incorporate consideration of continuing human rights abuses in Serbia's predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo province. -- Stan Markotich

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER IN MACEDONIA.
Josef Zieleniec on 22 April was in Skopje on a one-day official visit, Nova Makedonija reported. Zieleniec met with his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubomir Frckovski, President Kiro Gligorov and other officials. Zieleniec and Frckovski gave a positive assessment of the perspectives for bilateral cooperation. They said a number of mostly economic agreements will be drawn up and should be ready to be initialed soon. Meanwhile, the same daily reported that Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski canceled an official visit to Macedonia scheduled for 24-25 April. Strahil Chervenkov, head of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry's Southeastern European Department, was cited as saying the visit was postponed because of "frequent anti-Bulgarian reports in the Macedonian media which do not create the atmosphere for a ministerial visit." -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN SENATE STRIPS EXTREMIST POLITICIAN OF IMMUNITY.
The Romanian Senate on 22 April voted to strip Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party, of his parliamentary immunity. The Prosecutor General's Office has accused Tudor of "offending public authorities" by insulting President Ion Iliescu and Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service Virgil Magureanu. There are also 16 other pending cases against Tudor brought on by private plaintiffs. An RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported that the Senate's decision might prevent Tudor from running for president in the fall elections. Romanian law forbids persons with a criminal record from running for the presidential office. Even if the sentence were not passed till then, Tudor's candidacy could be contested in court by private persons, Evenimentul zilei wrote on 23 April citing Senate Judicial Commission chairman Ion Predescu. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIA, YUGOSLAVIA, INITIAL BILATERAL TREATY.
The Foreign Ministers of Romania and rump Yugoslavia, Teodor Melescanu and Milan Milutinovic, on 22 April initialed in Bucharest a 20-year friendship treaty, Romanian and international media reported. The treaty will be officially signed by the two countries' presidents later this year. Milutinovic was also received by President Ion Iliescu and by the chairmen of the bicameral parliament, Adrian Nastase and Oliviu Gherman. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MAINTAINS HE HAS ONLY BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP.
Georgi Pirinski on 22 April said that he renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1974, 24 chasa reported. Reacting to allegations that constitutional provisions might prevent him from running for president, he said he was "surprised that the matter is being discussed without anyone asking me." Pirinski, who is considered one of the most likely presidential candidates of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), was born in New York in 1948. Under the Bulgarian constitution, the president and parliamentary deputies are not allowed to have dual citizenship. Pirinski's statement is the first indication from him directly that he may run for president. Meanwhile, Parliamentary President Blagovest Sendov said he will run for president if the BSP nominates him, but that he will be "very pleased" if this does not happen because he expects the election campaign to be "extremely brutal." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP.
Ahmed Dogan, leader of the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, will visit Turkey again within the next three weeks and meet with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and the Organization of Turkish Immigrants from Bulgaria in Bursa, Bulgarian media reported. Dogan returned from his first "official" visit to Turkey on 20 April, during which he met with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and other political leaders. In other news, one worker was killed and six injured in an explosion in a wood-processing plant in Veliko Tarnovo, Kontinent reported. The accident happened when a turbine caught fire. Similar incidents occurred in that plant in 1981, 1991, and 1993. Zhelyazko Hristov, Deputy Chairman of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, said that 1,215 workers have been killed in industrial accidents since 1990 and 131,249 injured. -- Stefan Krause

ETHNIC TENSIONS RISE AFTER KILLING OF STUDENT IN KOSOVO.
The killing of a 20-year-old Albanian student by a Serb civilian in Pristina on 21 April has instigated several shootings throughout Kosovo, resulting in four additional deaths and four injuries, international media reported. Reportedly, the student was shot dead from the fifth floor of a nearby apartment house while leaving a birthday party. Police arrested the culprit, who claimed he thought the Albanian was stealing his car. Elsewhere, more than 1,000 demonstrators from Kosovo noisily protested the recognition of rump-Yugoslavia by several EU countries outside a EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, Reuters reported on 22 April. -- Fabian Schmidt

MAJOR CHANGES IN ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADERSHIP.
Eight members of the Democratic Party's leadership have been purged in an unexpected meeting of the party's National Council on 21 April, Koha Jone reported on 23 April. The meeting took place only two weeks after a party congress in which the new leadership was elected. Among those purged are the former party leader Eduard Selami and former Secretary-General Tomorr Dosti. Others include former Finance Minister Genc Ruli, former Vice Premier and Agricultural Minister Rexhep Uka, and the head of the state control commission, Blerim Cela. Koha Jone noted that party leader Tritan Shehu did not participate in the meeting and claims that he was not invited by President Berisha, who was chairing the conference. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels









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