IS DUDAEV DEAD?
Conflicting reports appeared on 23 April over whether or
not Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev had been killed in a rocket attack on the
village of Gekhi-Chu southwest of Grozny during the night of 21-22 April.
Khodzh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, who initially represented the Dudaev camp at last
summer's Chechen-Russian peace talks, told ITAR-TASS that Dudaev had been
killed, but later on 23 April a Chechen government official said in Istanbul
that he had spoken to Dudaev by telephone that day. Russian Nationalities
Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov questioned Yarikhanov's reliability, saying he
has had no contact with Dudaev for three months, according to Ekho Moskvy. On
24 April, however, AFP reported that Chechen military commander Shamil Basaev
had confirmed the reports of Dudaev's death and had told Interfax that Vice
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev had assumed the presidency. Yandarbiev, 44, is a
former writer who founded the Vainakh Democratic Party in May 1990. ITAR-TASS
on 24 April quoted President Boris Yeltsin as saying that a peace agreement
would be signed with or without Dudaev. -- Liz Fuller
CHAIRMAN OF ST. PETERSBURG LEGISLATURE CHARGED WITH ABUSE OF OFFICE.
Procurator General's Office has charged St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly
Chairman Yurii Kravtsov with abuse of public office, forgery, and incitement to
steal property from the mayor's housing department, ITAR-TASS reported on 23
April. Kravtsov was ordered to remain in the city, but this restriction will
probably be lifted so that he can travel to Moscow to participate in meetings
of the Federation Council as a member. In March, Kravtsov was charged with
illegally using state money to remodel his apartment at a cost of 350 million
rubles ($73,000). Kravtsov and many of the deputies in the assembly believe the
charges are an attempt to discredit the city legislature on the eve of the 19
May gubernatorial elections. Kravtsov has no intention of resigning and the
deputies will work to prevent any attempt to remove him. -- Robert Orttung
ITAR-TASS: YELTSIN MUST BRING MILITARY LEADERSHIP TO HEEL.
must take action so that he does not appear before the voters as a commander
whose orders are not obeyed, ITAR-TASS commentator Tamara Zayatina argued on 23
April. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's admission that he did not implement the
president's 31 March order to halt combat activities in Chechnya until 6 April
show that the "military leadership is practically blocking presidential policy"
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 April 1996). She added that Grachev's
statements are causing "disorder and unsteadiness" in the military. -- Robert
FEDOROV ANNOUNCES "THIRD FORCE" AGREEMENT.
Svyatoslav Fedorov announced that he and fellow candidates Grigorii Yavlinskii
and Aleksandr Lebed would soon sign a charter on economic priorities for the
next two years and allow opinion polls to decide which one of them should stand
for the presidency a month before the election, NTV reported on 23 April.
Fedorov announced his willingness to step aside and then either "disappear into
the shadows" or take a position in the executive branch. He said that different
economic approaches would not divide the candidates and that he would invite
Yavlinskii to his ophthalmological institute to convince him that "facts are
much more important than the theories of Milton Friedman and Adam Smith." --
DEMOCRATS CALL FOR PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY.
Seven pro-reform Duma deputies,
including Sergei Yushenkov of Russia's Democratic Choice, Vladimir Ryzhkov of
Our Home Is Russia, Democratic Russia co-leader Galina Starovoitova, Common
Cause leader Irina Khakamada, and Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov, signed
an appeal for holding "preliminary" presidential elections on 15-16 May in the
city of Moscow and in Moscow Oblast, Russian media reported on 23 April.
Republican Party leader Vladimir Lysenko, who also signed the document, said a
primary election would reveal the most promising candidate from the democratic
camp and would allow other presidential contenders to drop out of the race
"without losing face." Many pro-reform politicians, in particular members of
Russia's Democratic Choice, are torn between supporting President Yeltsin
despite misgivings or supporting Grigorii Yavlinskii despite his relatively
small chance of winning. Our Home Is Russia, Khakamada, and Fedorov have
already endorsed Yeltsin's candidacy. -- Laura Belin
ANTI-COMMUNIST NEWSPAPER FOUNDED IN ZYUGANOV'S HOME REGION.
called Ne dai bog (God forbid), which is entirely devoted to agitating
against Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, has appeared in Zyuganov's
home region, Orel Oblast, Ekspress-khronika reported on 24 April. The
first issue was left free of charge in the mailboxes of practically all
subscribers to other newspapers. It is not clear who is financing the new
paper, which did not call on readers to vote for any other specific
presidential candidate. President Yeltsin's supporters are counting on the
anti-communist press to help dissuade swing voters from backing Zyuganov. --
WORKERS AT SARATOV TRANSMITTER STATION GO ON STRIKE OVER WAGE ARREARS.
Workers at the Saratov Radio and TV Center have stopped transmitting Russian
Public TV (ORT) and Russian TV (RTR) programs because of delays in wage
payments, ORT reported on 23 April. The chairman of the Communications Workers'
Union, Anatolii Lazeikin, said that transmitter stations are owed more than 700
billion rubles ($140 million) by television companies. ORT and RTR are two of
the biggest debtors. If the issue is not resolved quickly, media coverage of
the presidential election campaign could be disrupted. Russian television
stations will begin broadcasting election campaign advertisements in mid-May.
-- Penny Morvant
SVERDLOVSK GOVERNOR FIRES HEAD OF REGIONAL GOVERNMENT.
Governor Eduard Rossel sacked Valerii Trushnikov, the head of the region's
government, ostensibly for failing to implement the regional budget and pay
wages and children's allowances, Kommersant-Daily reported on 23 April.
The move is widely seen as politically motivated, since Trushnikov supported a
competitor to Rossel's bloc, Transformation of the Urals, in the 14 April
election to the Sverdlovsk legislature (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 April
1996). Rossel admitted to Russian TV (RTR) that those elections had exhausted
his patience with Trushnikov. Trushnikov ran against Rossel in the first round
of the August 1995 gubernatorial election but supported him in the second round
in exchange for keeping his job as head of the oblast government. -- Laura
OPEN COMPETITION FOR AIR TIME ON RUSSIAN PUBLIC TV.
Three hours of air
time on Sunday mornings on Russian Public TV (ORT) will be distributed after a
competition in which any television program or production company can
participate, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April. The network's deputy general
director said the open competition will be the first in the history of Channel
1. -- Laura Belin
FOREIGN MINISTRY DENOUNCES ESTONIAN "PROVOCATION."
spokesman Grigorii Karasin accused the Estonian government of deliberately
pursing an anti-Russian policy and preventing the development of friendly
relations, ITAR-TASS and BNS reported on 23 April. Demurin denounced Estonian
Foreign Minister Siim Kallas's recent assertion that Russia is developing "a
mentality of revanchism," saying the remark was intended to frighten Europe
with what he termed "a mythical Russian threat." He accused Tallinn of
fostering anti-Russian alarmism in order to facilitate Estonian integration
into Western institutions and divert attention from discriminatory policies
against the Russian minority in Estonia. Recent Russian moves to deepen CIS
integration have increased tensions in already rocky Russo-Estonian relations.
-- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WRAPS UP MIDDLE EAST SHUTTLE TOUR.
Minister Yevgenii Primakov returned to Moscow on 23 April after shuttling
between Damascus, Beirut, and Jerusalem in an attempt to broker a ceasefire in
Lebanon, Russian media reported. Primakov told Russian Public TV (ORT), that
Russia is "doing everything" to resolve the crisis in Lebanon. He emphasized,
however, that Israeli troops must withdraw from southern Lebanon before a
settlement can be achieved, a position not shared by the U.S. Later the same
day, First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused the U.S. of attempting
to "monopolize" efforts to broker a settlement. Komsomolskaya pravda on
24 April reported that Primakov had intended his visit to bolster Russia's role
in the region, where it has been marginalized by the U.S. in recent years. --
LOCAL LEGISLATURES SEEK TO RESTRICT FOREIGN VISITORS.
The Chita Oblast
Duma has voted to restrict visits by foreigners to the region to a maximum of
15 days and to require all foreign visitors staying for more than three days to
register with the police, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April. The law also
stipulates that local residents may only rent apartments to foreigners if there
is at least 12 square meters of living space for each guest. The law is
probably aimed against visitors from China, which borders the oblast.
Legislators in Omsk Oblast, which borders on Kazakhstan, have also passed a law
imposing restrictions on foreign visitors, Kommersant-Daily reported on
19 April. The regional procurator opposes the law, arguing that federal laws
already require foreigners to register and that the passage of such a law at
the regional level is unconstitutional. -- Penny Morvant
ENVIRONMENTAL POLICE FORCE BEING SET UP.
Yet another law enforcement
body, this time to protect the environment, is being created in Russia.
Moskovskii komsomolets on 23 April quoted Environment Minister Viktor
Danilov-Danilyan as saying the president's administration has already approved
a plan to set up an ecological police force and that discussion is currently
centering on whether it should be a department within the Environment Ministry
or a separate federal agency. The force's task will be to prevent the violation
of legislation on the environment. Danilov-Danilyan said that the first units
should be set up in Moscow within a few months. -- Penny Morvant
SHEVARDNADZE FLIES HOME AFTER THREE KILLED IN TBILISI EXPLOSION.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze interrupted his visit to Brussels to
return to Tbilisi on 23 April after three people were killed in an explosion at
a local store, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Preliminary reports suggest the
blast was an accident rather than sabotage. -- Liz Fuller
RUSSIAN SECURITY CHIEF VISITS TAJIKISTAN.
The Russian presidential
security adviser, Yurii Baturin, met with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in
Dushanbe on 23 April to discuss bilateral military cooperation, ITAR-TASS
reported on 24 April. He also attended military exercises of the Russian 201st
Motorized Infantry Division, which is based in the country. Baturin will also
make an appearance at an OSCE seminar on confidence-building measures that
begins on 24 April. -- Roger Kangas
PRISON CRISIS IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstan urgently needs more prisons,
according to Deputy Interior Minister Nikolai Vlasov. He said the prison system
has only been allocated 1.9 billion tenge of the estimated 4.5 billion tenge
($70 million) that it requires, Reuters reported on 23 April. As a result,
corruption and theft among guards is common and the conditions in the prisons
are "appalling." Health standards are virtually non-existent, and of the 76,000
prisoner population, an estimated 1,300 died from tuberculosis last year and an
additional 10,000 were afflicted with the disease. Vlasov endorsed a proposed
10-year program that is supposed to bring the country's prisons up to
international standards. The need for more prisons is expected to increase if
President Nursultan Nazarbayev continues to implement his policy of handing
down harsher prison sentences for convicted criminals. -- Roger Kangas
OSCE SYMPOSIUM IN TASHKENT.
Representatives from 30 countries, including
the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, and Korea, met in Tashkent on 23 April to
participate in an OSCE-sponsored conference on regional security, Russian media
reported. Topics ranged from the OSCE security model to discussions of
Tajikistan as the "southern gate" of the OSCE, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April.
Russian Public TV (ORT) highlighted the pressing need to resolve local
conflicts in the region and the growing problem of drug trafficking in Central
Asia. This is the latest in a series of conferences sponsored by the
international organization in an effort to bring the Central Asian states
closer together on regional issues. -- Roger Kangas
MAJOR FIRE NEAR CHORNOBYL.
Five deserted villages near Chornobyl caught
fire on 23 April, releasing radioactive particles into the air, international
agencies reported. The villages are located in some of the most contaminated
areas around the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The fire blazed for more than
seven hours. Officials at the power plant said the fire had no effect on
radiation levels or operations at the plant itself. No casualties were
reported, and it is unknown how much radiation was released into the air. The
fire, believed to have been caused by an unextinguished cigarette, spread
quickly because of winds. Some 150 hectares were engulfed by the flames. The
blaze occurred three days before the 10th anniversary of the Chornobyl
accident. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
addressing the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on 23
April, said Ukraine aims to become a full-fledged member of the EU, ITAR-TASS
and Reuters reported. He also reiterated his position that NATO should not be
enlarged without taking Russia's interests into account, but he added he was
not opposed to the alliance's expansion. Kuchma noted that creating a
nuclear-free zone in Eastern Europe would have a stabilizing effect on European
developments. He called upon the international community to help finance the
resettlement of minority groups who were deported by Stalin and now want to
returning to their former homelands in Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus
JAPAN PLEDGES $25 MILLION TO UKRAINE.
According to Ukrainian Deputy
Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro
Hashimoto has promised President Kuchma $25 million to help ensure safety
standards at Ukraine's nuclear reactors, Reuters reported on 23 April.
Hashimoto made the pledge at the G-7 summit meeting in Moscow. Ukraine has 15
nuclear reactors at five power stations, which provide 40% of the country's
electricity. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN GERMANY.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived in
Germany on 24 April for a three-day visit, ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka will
visit Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Berlin. He is also scheduled to meet with German
President Roman Herzog to sign an agreement on cooperation over liquidating
Belarus's nuclear weapons. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA'S RUSSIANS OPPOSE LOCAL ELECTIONS LAW.
The Estonian United
People's Party on 23 April appealed to President Lennart Meri not to sign the
local elections law passed by the parliament last week, BNS reported. A
majority of the Narva city councilors made a similar appeal to Meri the
previous day. Both the United People's Party and the councilors oppose the
provisions requiring candidates to be highly proficient in the Estonian
language and stipulating that voters have a permanent residence permit.
Chairman of the Narva Russian Citizens' League Yuri Mishin warned that
alternative bodies of power would be formed in Narva if non-citizens were not
allowed to vote in the municipal elections on 20 October. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIA, SLOVENIA SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT.
Latvian and Slovenian
Foreign Ministers Valdis Birkavs and Zoran Thaler, meeting in Riga on 22
Monday, signed a free trade agreement and a cooperation protocol between the
two countries' Foreign Ministries. Thaler also met with President Guntis
Ulmanis, Prime Minister Andris Skele, and parliamentary chairwoman Ilga
Kreituse. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS EARLY ELECTIONS.
The Seimas on 23 April
voted to reject a proposal to bring parliamentary elections forward from 20
October to 30 June or 6 July, Radio Lithuania reported. It also ratified three
agreements with Belarus signed by the countries' presidents on 6 February 1995.
Meanwhile, President Algirdas Brazauskas signed a decree appointing Albertas
Valys, the 43-year old director of the Seimas's Secretariat, as minister of
justice. His appointment means that all posts in Mindaugas Stankevicius's
cabinet have been filled. -- Saulius Girnius
FORMER POLISH PREMIER SAYS "JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE."
Jozef Oleksy on 23
April said the spy allegations were brought against him during the final days
of Lech Walesa's presidency by people who had wanted to destroy the former
communist Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. The party forms the core
of the Democratic Left Alliance, which has been a member of the ruling
coalition in Poland since 1993. "Justice has been done," Oleksy said in a
statement read to journalists after the Military Prosecutor-General's Office
closed the case, having found no incriminating evidence. Meanwhile, opposition
leaders, including former Internal Affairs Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski, said
they were not convinced by the prosecutor-general's arguments, Polish dailies
reported on 24 April. -- Jakub Karpinski
POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN NEW YORK.
Dariusz Rosati on 23 April met with
US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, who told him that the U.S.'s
position on Poland's admission to NATO has not changed, Rzeczpospolita
reported. Rosati had asked her to comment on reports from Moscow saying that
U.S. President Bill Clinton promised his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin,
that the process of NATO enlargement will be temporarily halted. Rosati said
Albright reinforced the "hard-line standpoint" on NATO enlargement adopted by
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher during his recent visit to Poland.
-- Jakub Karpinski
CZECH PARLIAMENT SESSION FINALLY GETS UNDER WAY.
Czech deputies on 23
April voted by 94 to 47 with 36 abstentions to approve a truncated agenda and
begin a rearranged session, Czech media reported. The last scheduled session
before general elections was aborted last week when deputies of the governing
coalition failed to agree on the order of business (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 17 and 18 April 1996). Members of one coalition party, the Civic
Democratic Alliance, voted against the revised agenda. The parliament's first
act was to approve a treaty amending the Czech-Slovak border. A second vote,
needing at least 120 deputies in favor, is required for ratification of the
treaty as a constitutional law. In the first round of voting, only 106 deputies
were in favor. The opposition objects to the treaty provision transferring a
village to Slovakia, making ratification unlikely. Slovakia has already
ratified the treaty. -- Steve Kettle
CZECH FUNDS EARMARKED FOR ROMANI MUSEUM.
The lion's share of the 1.8
million crowns earmarked by the Czech Culture Ministry for Roma will go to the
Society of Experts and Friends of the Museum of Romani Culture, CTK reported on
23 April. Other Romani organizations will split the about 300,000 crowns
leftover. The society, founded in 1991, has been raising funds to renovate a
Brno building for a permanent exhibit of Romani art and cultural artifacts.
Some 27 million crowns are required for the renovations. -- Alaina Lemon
SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL BILL ON FOUNDATIONS.
cabinet on 23 April approved a bill on foundations proposed by Justice Minister
Jozef Liscak, Slovak media reported. The bill requires that foundations have a
start-up capital of 100,000 crowns ($3,333) and register with the Interior
Ministry. They are prohibited from taking part in political activities. The
Third Sector Association, which began its campaign against the bill in
mid-January, called the new legislation an attempt to liquidate foundations and
associations dependent on them. Liscak argued that the foundations bill is
similar to those in Germany, the Czech Republic, France, and Denmark.
Meanwhile, the cabinet also approved a draft law regulating the operations of
lotteries and similar institutions and requiring the state to have a 51% stake
in companies owning casinos. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN RADIO PREPARES FOR BELT-TIGHTENING.
Hungarian Radio, currently
facing severe financial difficulties, has drawn up a plan introducing austerity
measures at the station, Hungarian dailies reported on 24 April. Broadcasting
is to be reduced on one of the three channels, and several programs will be cut
on the other two. Honorariums will also be cut by 55%. Management says
Hungarian Radio's financial predicament results from the state budget's failure
to guarantee subscription revenues since 1995. It added that advertising has
not brought in the expected revenues because of competition from commercial
stations. The cabinet is expected later this week to discuss a proposal
granting an additional 4.5 billion forints subsidy to Hungarian Radio and TV.
-- Zsofia Szilagyi
FBI ACADEMY OPENS IN HUNGARY.
One year after it began operations, an FBI
Academy has officially opened in Budapest, Hungarian media reported on 23
April. The inauguration of the first police academy of its kind outside the
U.S. was postponed due to the Oklahoma bombing last April, which prevented FBI
Director Louis Freeh and U.S. Attorney-General Janet Reno from attending. The
academy's curriculum includes training to combat international terrorism, drug
smuggling, counterfeiting, and money laundering. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BELGRADE AUTHORITIES ARREST BOMB SUSPECTS.
Belgrade police on 23 April
arrested Alexander Gajic and Milan Dobrilovic on charges related to the 1992
bombing of Belgrade's central mosque, Reuters reported. The two are also
suspects in the May 1993 bombing of St. Ann's Catholic Church in the capital
city. Some media have speculated that they may have also been involved in the
30 March 1996 attack against the Bajrakli Mosque in Belgrade, which caused
serious damage to the building but no casualties. The suspects were apprehended
carrying 1.9 kilograms of explosives, three hand guns, and three grenades. --
MONTENEGRIN OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON.
Premier Milo Djukanovic and Finance
Minister Predrag Goranovic have decided to extend their visit to the U.S. "by a
few days," Nasa Borba reported on 24 April. The two men left Montenegro
on 21 April for a working visit aimed at restoring political relations with
Washington as well as with international financial and political institutions.
Nasa Borba also reports that the rump Yugoslav embassy in Washington
claims to have no knowledge of the Montenegrins' visit. Embassy officials told
a VOA correspondent they have nothing to do with the visit and that Djukanovic
has not contacted the embassy. -- Stan Markotich
VIOLENCE ESCALATES IN KOSOVO.
At least five Serbs have been killed and
four injured since a Serbian civilian killed an Albanian student on the
weekend, AFP reported on 24 April. The Serbs who died are three men who were in
a cafe in Decani when a gunman entered and sprayed the bar with automatic
gunfire; a policeman who was shot outside a police station in Stimlje, near
Urosevac; and a woman who was gunned down while sitting inside a police car in
Sipolj. Some 10,000 women on 23 April gathered at the site where the Albanian
student was killed, QIK reported the same day. The Democratic League of Kosovo
strongly condemned the killings, adding they had added a "dangerous dimension"
to the Kosovo conflict. It also stressed its policy of non-violence. -- Fabian
SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR DIALOGUE WITH KOSOVO ALBANIANS.
spokesman for the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement has said that "if
negotiations do not take place soon with representatives of the Kosovar
Albanians, there will be no solution for Kosovo," Nasa Borba reported on
24 April. The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, however, accused the
"separatist Albanian movement of choosing terrorism as the means for its
struggle." It warned that this could "exclude a peaceful settlement" in Kosovo,
AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt
TUDJMAN CALLS FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION . . .
Franjo Tudjman, in an important interview with leading pro-government media,
said his principal aim is to urge a balanced historical view of all major
personalities and movements in modern Croatian history, Vecernji list
reported on 23 April. He accordingly condemned the World War II ustasha
leader Ante Pavelic but noted that Pavelic did meet a popular demand for an
independent Croatia. Tudjman at the same time praised former Yugoslav communist
leader Josip Broz Tito as the most successful modern Croatian politician and
traced the roots of the current Republic of Croatia back to Tito rather than to
Pavelic. Tudjman stressed that it is wrong to continue demonizing one or
another of the major political movements, saying it is time to bring back to
Croatia from abroad the remains of Tito, Pavelic, and Dr. Vladko Macek, who led
the powerful Croatian Peasant Party in the 1930s. -- Patrick Moore
. . . AND SPARKS CONTROVERSY.
The Croatian president went on to deny
that he--a former member of the communist party and a general under Tito--was
still "an old communist" at heart and that he had made the current state
apparatus a safe haven for officials of the old regime. He noted that only 2%
of the Foreign Ministry's staff are holdovers from the former Yugoslavia, while
some 22% are former emigres. But the most controversy was generated by his
attempt to present a balanced view of Croatian history and his call for
reconciliation, Croatian dailies and Nasa Borba the next day. As was the
case with calls for reconciliation in post-dictatorship Spain and Greece, many
people across the political spectrum see his remarks as an attempt to whitewash
evil deeds. His earlier call for turning the Jasenovac concentration camp in to
a memorial for all war dead has been slammed as a move to equate murderers with
victims. -- Patrick Moore
ROMANIAN DAILY SUES SWISS FOREIGN MINISTRY OVER SPY CHARGE.
Evenimentul zilei, Romania's top-selling tabloid, has said it is
suing the Swiss Foreign Ministry for alleging one of its reporters is a spy,
Reuters reported on 23 April. The move came after Switzerland recalled its
ambassador to Bucharest because of his relationship with a 21-year-old
political reporter accused of working for the Romanian Intelligence Service
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 April 1996). Ion Cristoiu, chief editor of
the daily, said "the Swiss statement has damaged the newspaper by creating the
impression that we have journalists who are undercover agents for various
secret services." He has asked for the Swiss Ministry to provide "hard
evidence." The newspaper is seeking token damages of 1 leu (less than 1 cent).
-- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOLDOVA.
Teodor Melescanu, at the start of
an official visit to the Republic of Moldova, discussed bilateral relations
with Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli,
Parliamentary Chairman Petru Lucinschi, and Foreign Minister Mihai Popov, Radio
Bucharest reported on 23 April. Melescanu told Radio Bucharest that the
long-delayed bilateral basic treaty was included on their agenda. He is
scheduled today to attend a meeting of a Romanian-Moldovan interdepartmental
commission that is expected to focus on boosting bilateral economic and
cultural cooperation. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BONN.
Georgi Pirinski and his German
counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, on 23 April launched a German-Bulgarian Forum aimed
at boosting bilateral economic and political ties, international agencies
reported. Pirinski noted that Germany is Bulgaria's most important partner in
achieving the "national goal" of EU membership. -- Stefan Krause
UPDATE ON BULGARIAN-MACEDONIAN "DIPLOMATIC SCANDAL."
Minister Pirinski's decision to cancel a visit to Skopje has received wide
media coverage in both countries. Macedonian Ambassador to Bulgaria Gorgi
Spasov said the decision was related to Sofia's ongoing refusal to meet
Skopje's condition that bilateral agreements be drawn up in both the Bulgarian
and Macedonian languages, Kontinent reported. Macedonian Foreign
Minister Ljubomir Frckovski stressed his country's good will to solve "this
comical dispute," Nova Makedonija reported. Georgi Parvanov, deputy
chairman of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, said his party did not know
why the visit has been canceled. He added that the language issue has been
raised by people who do not want relations between Sofia and Skopje to improve,
according to Demokratsiya. -- Stefan Krause
GREENPEACE WANTS BULGARIA TO CLOSE DOWN KOZLODUY.
Greenpeace on 23 April
called on the Bulgarian government to close down the Kozloduy nuclear power
plant, Reuters reported. The spokesman for the organization's Greek branch said
Kozloduy is one of the world's three most dangerous nuclear plants and that
"the question is not if an accident at Kozloduy will happen; the question is
when." He added that a study commissioned by Greenpeace showed Bulgaria could
close down the plant if it learned to conserve and economize on energy. The
Bulgarian government claims it wants to phase out the reactors but that they
are still necessary because they supply 40% of the country's electricity.
Greenpeace says 15 accidents at Kozloduy were made public between 1990 and
1993, including three radiation leaks. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT REJECTS APPEAL BY DEPUTIES BANNED FROM ELECTIONS.
The Albanian Supreme Court on 23 April rejected an appeal by 13 deputies
who have been banned from running in the upcoming general elections, Albanian
media reported. A commission screening candidates for the elections ruled that
they have a communist past. The Supreme Court rejected the deputies' request
that they be given access to the documents on which the commission based its
decision. It argued that there was enough evidence against them, since their
names were included in a file listing those who collaborated with the
Sigurimi, the communist-era secret service. Another 26 deputies have
also appealed to the court. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave