YANDARBIEV STILL ALIVE.
Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev appeared
on the pro-Dudaev Chechen TV channel during the night of 30 April--1 May,
saying that reports of his death in a shootout two nights earlier were
premature, Russian media reported. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 1 May,
Yandarbiev said that "in order to save human lives we are ready at any time to
begin talks with Moscow at the appropriate level" but only on condition that
Russian troops are withdrawn from Chechnya. At a joint press conference with
Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 1 May, Yandarbiev dismissed reports
of a rift between himself and Maskhadov as a Russian intelligence fabrication,
NTV reported. Also on 1 May, ITAR-TASS quoted Chechen head of state Doku
Zavgaev as saying that Russian President Boris Yeltsin intends to visit
Chechnya prior to the June presidential election. -- Liz Fuller
YELTSIN ADDRESSES MAY DAY RALLY. . .
Several thousand people took part
in a May Day rally organized by Moscow trade unions and addressed by President
Boris Yeltsin and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Yeltsin appealed to voters to support him in the June presidential
election to ensure democracy, "social justice," and the continuation of reform.
He blamed wage and pension payment delays on unscrupulous managers, and noted
that 1,261 criminal cases have been opened against offenders. Federation of
Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) leader Mikhail Shmakov said that rallies under
the slogan of "Employment, Earnings, Law" were held in more than 60 regional
centers. Some in the Far East expressed support for Communist leader Gennadii
Zyuganov. The FNPR has not endorsed any presidential candidate. -- Penny
. . . BUT ZYUGANOV ATTRACTS MORE MARCHERS.
On the other side of Moscow,
Russian communists and other leftist groups took part in a larger, old-style
May Day rally attended by Zyuganov and other leading left-wingers, including
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, Agrarian leader Mikhail Lapshin, and Workers'
Russia head Viktor Anpilov. Some 8,000 attended the Moscow gathering, while a
rally in St. Petersburg attracted up to 35,000 marchers, according to Reuters.
All the major rallies took place peacefully, in contrast to the violence that
marred the 1993 May Day celebrations. -- Penny Morvant
ZYUGANOV MEETS BANKERS, CHERNOMYRDIN.
Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov held a two-hour meeting behind closed doors with the 13 bankers and
entrepreneurs who recently appealed for a political compromise before the
presidential election, Russian media reported on 30 April. Logovaz Director
Boris Berezovskii, who is also deputy chairman of the board of Russian Public
TV (ORT), said the meeting went "splendidly," NTV and ORT reported. Zyuganov
was also satisfied with the meeting; he told Russian TV (RTR) that he
understood the businessmen's worries about the fate of the economy. On the same
day, in his capacity as leader of the largest State Duma faction rather than as
a presidential candidate, Zyuganov met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
to discuss a number of issues, including the need to preserve order at the May
ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin
DEPUTY ON ZYUGANOV'S PLANS TO CREATE DEFENSE COUNCIL.
Mikhail Surkov, a member of the presidium of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation, told RFE/RL on 30 April that Gennadii Zyuganov plans to set up a
special Defense Council if he is elected president. Surkov said the council
would be chaired by the president himself and would control the "power
ministries" of defense, interior, and the Federal Security Service. He added
that the General Staff of the Armed Forces would report directly to Zyuganov
rather than to the defense minister, as is now the practice.
COURT CONFIRMS PRESIDENT'S POWER TO APPOINT REGIONAL GOVERNORS.
Constitutional Court has ruled that the president may appoint and dismiss
regional administration heads as well as set the dates for gubernatorial
elections, Russian media reported on 30 April. President Yeltsin gave himself
those powers in an October 1994 decree. The court case was initiated by the
State Duma and the Kamchatka and Kursk oblast legislatures, which argued that
the decree violated the constitution and deprives voters of their right to
participate in the formation of regional governments. The court decreed that
the president may appoint and dismiss regional leaders in all federation
subjects that have no legislation on the election of regional administration
heads. -- Anna Paretskaya
RUSSIAN MUSLIMS UNITE.
Russia's two largest Muslim organizations, the
Union of Muslims of Russia (SMR) and Nur movement, have agreed to establish a
single association of Muslim organizations, Radio Rossii reported on 1 May. The
new organization, to be called the Russian Muslim Union, is aimed at defending
and expressing the interests of Muslims more effectively than the numerous
existing small groups and all Muslim organizations in Russia are welcome to
join it, according to SMR President Mukhtar Seibulaev. According to official
statistics, there are about 2,300 Muslim organizations in Russia serving the
interests of the country's estimated 12-20 million Muslims. -- Anna
CHECHEN OIL BLAZE.
On the night of 30 April, two tanks with 10,000
metric tons of oil were set ablaze in the Zavodskoi district of Grozny,
ITAR-TASS reported. There was speculation that the act may have been intended
to conceal evidence of theft. So far this year, 156 underground mini-oil
refineries have been discovered in Chechnya, up from 72 last year. Each
operation typically drains off 7-8 tons of oil per day from the pipeline
crossing the territory. The pipeline has continued to function despite the
military hostilities. -- Peter Rutland
FOREIGN MINISTRY: AGREEMENT WITH CHINA IS NON-AGGRESSION PACT.
Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov told ITAR-TASS on 30 April that Russia
considers the five-nation border security agreement recently signed with China
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 April 1996) as "in effect a non-aggression
treaty." Panov suggested that the treaty could serve as a model for other
countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and said that the next step in building a
security regime along the Russian-Chinese border would be an agreement on
mutual troop reductions. While denying that Russia plans to form a political or
military alliance with China, Panov added that there are no outstanding
bilateral problems. Meanwhile, on 2 May, the chief of staff of the Chinese
People's Liberation Army, General Fu Quan-Yu, arrived in Russia for a six-day
official visit. -- Scott Parrish
MINISTER UPBEAT ON MILITARY SALES TO JAPAN.
Deputy Foreign Minister
Aleksandr Panov said on 1 May that the way is open for the export of advanced
Russian weapons such as the Su-27 jet fighters to Japan, ITAR-TASS reported.
During the recent visit of the head of the Japanese Self Defense Agency to
Moscow, some Japanese officials expressed an interest in this aircraft. Panov
admitted that the Japanese have not yet officially raised the matter but said
that Russia "would only welcome such an approach." -- Doug Clarke
JEWISH EMIGRATION ORGANIZATION PROTESTS BAN.
The Jewish Agency for
Immigration has protested the 30 April closure of a seminar it had organized in
Pyatigorsk (Stavropol Krai), AFP and RFE/RL reported. Russian police officials
said they closed the meeting because of a 2 April decision revoking the
agency's accreditation to operate in Russia. The agency, which assists Jewish
emigration to Israel from countries all over the world, organized the seminar
in Pyatigorsk because it said Jewish refugees fleeing violence in the Caucasus
region have concentrated there. The agency's chairman, Avraham Burg, said the
agency "has never been subjected to such treatment" anywhere else in the world.
Since 1989, the agency has helped about 630,000 former Soviet Jews to resettle
in Israel. On 1 May, the U.S. State Department also expressed concern about
possible limitations on Jewish emigration from Russia. -- Scott Parrish
FSB SEIZES COPIES OF BELLONA REPORT.
Russian Federal Security Service
officers on 30 April confiscated copies of a report by the Norwegian-based
environmental group Bellona on the environmental threat posed by the Northern
Fleet's nuclear installations on the Kola Peninsula, AFP reported. The reports
were seized from the home of Bellona activist Aleksei Klimov in Severodvinsk by
FSB officers brandishing a document issued by the security service in St.
Petersburg stating that circulation of the report in Russia is prohibited. A
Russian employee of Bellona, retired navy captain Aleksandr Nikitin, is facing
charges of espionage for his contribution to the report, released on the eve of
the Moscow nuclear safety summit in April. Bellona representative Thomas Nilsen
said the FSB's action ran counter to President Yeltsin's statement in Oslo in
March that the Russian authorities have nothing against Bellona, and speculated
that the FSB may be working independently. -- Penny Morvant
WORLD BANK LOAN FOR SOCIAL SERVICES APPROVED.
The World Bank has
approved a $200 million loan to support local social services in Russia,
including health care, education, water supplies, and sanitation, Reuters
reported on 1 May. The money, to be repaid over 17 years, will finance
improvements in key facilities in Novosibirsk and Rostov oblasts. Since 1992,
local and regional authorities have taken on new responsibilities in the
education and health sectors, while the contribution of the federal government
and enterprises has declined. Another $537 million in loans for social services
are in the pipeline: $300 million for housing, $200 million for education, and
$37 million for health. -- Penny Morvant
ABASHIDZE CHALLENGES SHEVARDNADZE.
Adzhar parliament chairman Aslan
Abashidze, whose All-Georgian Union of Revival is the third largest party in
the Georgian parliament, has threatened to thwart plans for the export of
Azerbaijan's oil via Batumi unless Adzharia's status as a sovereign republic
within Georgia is formalized in the near future, according to a 29 April Iberia
news agency report monitored by the BBC. -- Liz Fuller
RUSSIAN SOLDIERS TARGETED IN INCIDENTS ON ARMENIAN-TURKISH BORDER.
Russian soldiers guarding the Armenian-Turkish border were allegedly shot at
from Turkey for the third time this month, AFP reported on 1 May. The incidents
may be connected with Turkey's ongoing war with Kurdish rebels operating in
Kars, the province adjacent to Armenia. On 26 April, Turkey once again declared
the border area with Armenia a military zone. Later this week Russian Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev will visit Yerevan to sign a bilateral
military-technical cooperation agreement. -- Lowell Bezanis
UZBEKISTAN CUTS GAS SUPPLIES TO KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstani Deputy Minister
of Oil and Gas Industries Viktor Begin has arrived in Tashkent to resolve the
conflict over Uzbekistan's decision to cut off natural gas supplies to
Kazakhstan due to unpaid bills, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 May. Observers
speculate that Kazakhstan will agree to settle the debt with shipments of
petroleum and other fuels. Current gas supplies in Kazakhstan could be
exhausted as early as 3 May. -- Roger Kangas
A "CHINA PIPELINE" FOR KAZAKHSTAN?
Following the recent reconfiguration
of the Caspian Sea Consortium (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 April 1996),
Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Gizzatov announced that Kazakhstan is
seriously considering a pipeline route that would travel eastward through China
to the Pacific Ocean, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 April. Such a project would cost
up to $12 billion and would create the world's longest pipeline. -- Roger
CENTRAL ASIAN BATTALION TO BE DEPLOYED IN TAJIKISTAN.
A future joint
battalion of Kazakhstani, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz forces under UN command will be
based in Tajikistan, the three countries' respective foreign ministers
announced in Almaty on 30 April. The 500-person unit, which will trained under
the auspices of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, is to be formed later
this year, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Roger Kangas
AFGHANS READY TO NEUTRALIZE TAJIK OPPOSITION IN NORTH.
A commander of
the Afghan government forces, Said Najmuddin, met with the commander of the
Russian border forces, Pavel Tarasenko, in the southeastern Tajik city of
Khorog on 29 April, RFE/RL and Russian TV (RTR) reported. Najmuddin told
Tarasenko that the Afghan government is prepared to launch strikes against
Tajik opposition forces that have attacked the CIS peacekeeping force guarding
the Tajik-Afghan border from their bases in northern Afghanistan. -- Bruce
NEW UN SPECIAL ENVOY TO TAJIKISTAN.
UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros
Ghali has selected a new special envoy to Tajikistan, according to a 30 April
Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report monitored by the BBC. Dietrich Mehrer,
until now the deputy executive director of the UN Drug Control program, will
replace Ramiro Piriz Ballon. Talks between the Tajik government and opposition
have been on hold since the announcement of Ballon's departure in early April.
-- Bruce Pannier
MAY DAY DEMONSTRATIONS IN UKRAINE.
Several thousand communists and
democrats demonstrated at separate gatherings on May Day in Kyiv, Russian
Public TV reported on 1 May. Authorities gave seven political parties
permission to rally in Kyiv,
designating their rallies to different
sections of the city to avoid conflict. Both leftists and democrats criticized
the government at their respective demonstrations, but there were no outbreaks
of violence. Radio Mayak reported that 8,000 people in Simfereopol also
demonstrated. -- Ustina Markus
MINSK COURTS TRY OPPOSITIONISTS.
Judges sentenced participants in the 26
April demonstrations in Minsk to five to 10-day prison terms, Reuters and
Belapan reported on 30 April. In all, 204 people were detained. Some reports
stated that authorities mistreated the prisoners by not giving them food or
water and by keeping lights on at night so they could not sleep. Seventeen
Ukrainians were among those arrested, and Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir
Syanko sent a memorandum to Ukraine's Foreign Ministry charging the
demonstrators with participating in destabilizing actions, ITAR-TASS reported.
Opposition parties signed a statement denouncing the dictatorial regime in the
country and calling upon all democratic forces to unite against the country's
leadership. The Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to Russian President
Boris Yeltsin to exert his influence to stop "flagrant human rights violations
in Belarus." -- Ustina Markus
MAYDAY DEMONSTRATIONS IN MINSK.
Up to 50,000 people demonstrated in
Minsk on 1 May, the majority protesting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
leadership, international agencies reported. Communists and the official
Federation of Trade Unions were also present to celebrate Labor Day. Security
forces were stationed around Independence Square, and the rally did not turn
violent. The demonstration was the fourth mass action since 24 March condemning
Lukashenka's policies. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS LAND REFORM LAW.
The parliament adopted on 30
April a law aimed at speeding up land reform, BNS and ETA reported. The law,
which makes amendments to 15 laws and other acts, was debated for four months
with more than a thousand changes proposed. The law grants land users
privileged rights of purchase and limits bidding. Permanent residents of
Estonia can buy the plots where their houses and summer cottages are located at
half the established market price. Buyers can purchase land in installments
over a five-year period for purchases exceeding 25,000 kroons ($2,000), up to a
15-year period for purchases exceeding 5 million kroons. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN GOVERNMENT PROLONGS RESIDENCE PERMITS FOR 76 RUSSIAN MILITARY
The government on 30 April prolonged the residence permits of 76
Russian military retirees from 1 May until 1 September, BNS reported. In 1994,
officers who retired after 28 January 1992 and their families were originally
required to depart along with the Russian army, but because no housing was
available for the retirees in Russia, the Latvian government allowed them to
remain. As many as 22,320 Russian military retirees have the right to stay in
Latvia, but 3,200 of them have chosen to leave the country. -- Saulius
OPINION POLL IN LITHUANIA.
A poll taken in April by the
Lithuanian-British joint venture Baltic Surveys revealed that the share of
respondents expressing trust in emigre Valdas Adamkus, a potential presidential
candidate, rose to 54%, a 5% increase since March, Radio Lithuania reported on
30 April. Seimas Deputy Chairman Egidijus Bickauskas, who formerly led
popularity polls, is trusted by 51% of the respondents. Trust in President
Algirdas Brazauskas declined by 4%, to 39%. When asked which party they would
vote for if parliament elections were held that day, 19.9% of respondents said
they would not vote and 26.6% said that they did not know. The most popular
party remained the Christian Democrats with 13.6% of the support, a 2.2%
increase since March. The popularity of the Conservatives declined by 1.3%,
while the ruling Democratic Labor Party fell to fifth place with 5.3%, falling
behind the Center Union (7.5%) and the Women's Party (5.7%). -- Saulius
YOUNG RIGHTISTS DISRUPT MAY DAY EVENTS IN POLAND.
Young rightists flung
fireworks and eggs during a May Day march in Warsaw sponsored by Poland's
leftist parties (the Social Democracy of Poland (SdRP), the All-Poland Trade
Union Alliance (OPZZ) and the Polish Socialist Party), international media
reported on 1 May. Several thousand people gathered for the march. The
demonstrators broke through police ranks, shouting "Poland's shame" and
"Commies out." Police detained several of the demonstrators. Similar clashes
occurred in Poznan and Krakow. Ex-communist leader Jozef Oleksy, who heads the
SdRP, accused rightist politicians of kindling historical animosities and
hatred during the celebrations. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
POLAND TO DECIDE ON WEAPONS DEPLOYMENT IN TALKS WITH NATO.
Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati on 1 May said at a meeting with his Danish
counterpart, Niels Helveg Petersen, that Poland will not make any promises on
nuclear weapons deployment prior to talks with NATO, international media
reported the same day. Rosati said it is now unnecessary for Poland to have
nuclear weapons within its borders as he `sees no threat,' however, he
reaffirmed Poland's commitment to joining NATO. The talks were held just before
a major forum of the Council of Baltic States scheduled to begin later in the
week. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
MAN TIED TO KIDNAPPING CASE OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON KILLED IN
Interior Ministry spokesman Peter Ondera told TASR on 30 April
that Robert Remias died when his BMW exploded the previous night on the
outskirts of Bratislava. Ondera said the explosion probably resulted from a
breakdown in the car's propane-fueled engine. Jaroslav Simunic, a former police
investigator who was fired from the Kovac Jr. case last September after
announcing his suspicions of involvement by the Slovak Information Service,
claims that Remias was murdered. An editor of the daily Sme, Peter Toth,
told the RFE/RL Slovak Service that Remias, a former policeman, was a close
friend of Oskar F., a key witness in the Kovac Jr. case who is now in hiding.
Remias was Oskar F.'s intermediary with the outside world, Toth said. Toth
added that he and Remias were being followed by the same cars. -- Sharon
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL ON SLOVAKIA'S POTENTIAL MEMBERSHIP.
said during his 30 April visit to Slovakia that the country is still a
candidate for NATO membership, international media reported. He added that "the
alliance consists of countries that share the values of democracy, of respect
of human rights, [and] of the protection of minorities," and that Slovakia must
uphold these values to become a member. He told President Kovac that it is too
early to "classify" countries; however, consideration of individual candidates
will be completed at the end of the year. After meeting with Solana, Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar emphasized that there are no obstacles to Slovakia's
membership. However, visiting Slovakia on 30 April, former U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke warned Meciar that completing the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty's ratification process is an essential condition for
further discussions on Slovakia's NATO membership. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER, GOVERNMENT'S POPULARITY RISE IN POLLS.
Horn's popularity rose nine points in April while his government's rating
reached its highest point since the introduction of austerity measures more
than a year ago, Hungarian media reported on 2 May. In a poll conducted by the
Sonda-Ipsos agency, Horn rose to 55% from 46% a month earlier, gaining personal
support even from people who said they would not vote for his Socialist Party.
The government as a whole received a 53.4% rating, up from 51.1% in March.
Officials of the polling organization said the rise in the government's
popularity was likely influenced by the recent change of finance ministers and
antipathy created when the leader of the opposition Smallholders' Party made a
controversial speech in mid-March. -- Steve Kettle
BOSNIAN REFUGEE INCIDENT TO BE INVESTIGATED.
Bosnian Prime Minister
Hasan Muratovic and the speaker of the Bosnian Assembly Momcilo Krajisnik
agreed to begin a criminal investigation into the killing of two Muslim
refugees, who were killed after entering Serbian held territory on 29 April.
The meeting was mediated by the international community's High Representative
Carl Bildt, Onasa reported on 1 May. Bildt's office and the international
police deployed in Bosnia will meet with interior ministers from both sides.
Muratovic and Krajisnik also agreed to give the UNHCR full support to organize
visits of refugees to their respective hometowns. IFOR, meanwhile, said that
freedom of movement is one of the crucial segments in the Dayton peace accord
and its obstruction constitutes a violation of human rights. -- Fabian
ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED FOR MOSTAR.
The EU administrator for Mostar Ricardo
Perez Casado announced that town elections will be held 31 May, Onasa reported
on 1 May. Lists of candidates are to be finalized by 10 May. Elsewhere, the
International Federation of Journalists has pledged financial aid to the
independent media in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure accurate
information during the pre-election period later this year. The federation's
General Manger Aidan White said that the elections will be the best test of the
quality of Bosnian journalism. Aid will consist of technical equipment and
seminars. Meanwhile, the Reporters Without Borders has protested an incident in
late April when two journalists from Austria and Novi Sad were restricted in
the Republika Srpska. -- Fabian Schmidt
BELGRADE RELEASES MUSLIM PRISONERS.
Belgrade authorities finally
released five Muslim refugees on 1 May, following a series of protests from the
international community, Reuters reported the same day. The five were among
some 800 refugees who fled to Serbia from Bosnia after Bosnian Serb forces
captured the Bosnian Muslim "safe havens" of Srebrenica and Zepa in the summer
of 1995. According to rump Yugoslav authorities, the refugees were war crimes
suspects, and thus were incarcerated. With the release of the five, rump
Yugoslavia reportedly no longer detains any Bosnian Muslims who fled to Serbia
following the collapse of Srebrenica and Zepa. Reuters also noted that the UN
High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) chartered the plane that flew the five
freed refugees home. -- Stan Markotich
BOSNIAN UN AMBASSADOR SAYS BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL PROVIDES LINK TO
Muhamed Sacirbey said before the International Court of Justice
on 1 May that Bosnian Serb logistics General Djorde Djukic is a "smoking gun"
between Belgrade and its involvement in Serb genocide campaigns conducted in
Bosnia, Reuters reported the same day. According to Sacirbey, Djukic, who was
held at The Hague on war crimes charges but released because of ill-health, is
"the connection between the Belgrade regime and the so-called Bosnian Serb
army." Belgrade continues to assert that it was never involved in the Bosnian
conflict, and that the court should drop Bosnia's case against Belgrade. The
Bosnian government, however, asserts that Belgrade violated the 1948 Genocide
Convention by arming and encouraging Bosnian Serbs' efforts. -- Stan
MONTENEGRIN PREMIER ON RELATIONS WITH BELGRADE.
After his visit to the
U.S., Milo Djukanovic gave an interview to Montenegrin state radio and TV in
which he indicated a desire to mend relations between his republic and
Belgrade. Montena-fax on 30 April reported that Djukanovic approved of, what he
dubbed, a change in Belgrade's position vis-a-vis the IMF. Relations with the
IMF has been one issue of public disagreement between Djukanovic and the
federal authorities under Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's control. --
U.S. OFFERS MEDIATION IN KOSOVO ESCALATION.
A U.S. State Department
delegation visited Kosovo on 1 May offering to mediate in the Kosovo conflict,
ATSH reported. The delegation was headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for former Yugoslavia Rudolph Perina and met with Kosovar shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova. Perina expressed concern about recent shoot-outs in
which six people died and five were injured and stressed the need for a
non-violent solution. He added that since the Dayton agreement was signed,
Kosovo has priority on the U.S. diplomatic agenda in the Balkans. Negotiations
between Belgrade and the shadow-state remain in a deadlock due to the Serbs'
rejection to negotiate under international mediation. -- Fabian Schmidt
MACEDONIA, RUMP-YUGOSLAVIA SIGN AIR TRAFFIC ACCORD.
Minister of Transport Zoran Vujovic and his Macedonian counterpart, Dimitar
Buzlevski, signed and agreement resuming air traffic between both countries
beginning this month. Following both countries' mutual recognition on 8 April,
Macedonia will take full control of the air space above its territory from 7
November this year. The agreement will be finalized in Belgrade on 20 May. --
ROMANIA WARNS AGAINST IMPORTED TERRORISM.
A senior security force
official warned that Romania is being increasingly used as a channel for
"terrorists" from the Middle East and Asia, Reuters reported on 30 April. Gen.
Gheorghe Aradavoaice, deputy head of the Protection and Guard Service (SPP),
told journalists that "Romania has become a bridge between terrorist
organizations in Asia and the Arab world and their branches in some western
European countries." The statement, made on SPP's sixth anniversary, echoes
warnings from the annual report of the Romanian Intelligence Service that
Kurdish and Islamic extremists are based in Romania. However, Reuters quoted
Western diplomats as saying that the country has a plethora of security
services that suffer from inter-agency competition and are striving to justify
their existence. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIANS RALLY FOR, AGAINST GOVERNMENT ON MAY DAY.
supporters of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 1 May rallied in
support of the government, Bulgarian and Western media reported. Prime Minister
and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov at the rally accused President Zhelyu Zhelev, the
opposition, and the trade unions of destabilizing the country and leading it
into a new economic crisis. Also in central Sofia, several thousand people
attended an anti-government rally organized by the Confederation of Independent
Trade Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB) and the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa." KNSB
Chairman Krastyo Petkov called on the cabinet to "stop the anti-social policy"
and resign. Podkrepa leader Konstantin Trenchev at a rally in Kazanlak said
Bulgaria "is facing a national catastrophe." -- Stefan Krause
PREMIER ADMITS BULGARIA NEEDS IMF CREDITS TO REPAY DEBTS.
on 30 April said Bulgaria needs a new debt agreement with the IMF in order to
meet foreign debt payments due in three months, RFE/RL and AFP reported.
Following a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky in Vienna, Videnov
said Bulgaria "will be able to meet its repayments this year" but added that it
needs an agreement on stand-by credits from the IMF. Bulgaria and the IMF have
failed to reach an agreement so far this year, mainly because of Sofia's
failure to resolve the problems of unprofitable state enterprises and insolvent
state and private banks. Videnov conceded that Bulgaria will have to
"drastically reduce the number of unprofitable state enterprises." Bulgaria's
external debt totals nearly $11 billion. More than $1 billion is due this year,
but Bulgaria's foreign currency reserves only hold $720 million. -- Stefan
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS ALBANIA.
Javier Solana called Albania a
"very important" part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, after arriving
in Tirana for a two-day visit on 1 May, AFP reported. Solana discussed
deepening Albanian NATO cooperation with President Sali Berisha, who repeated
his country's determination to become a full NATO member. Berisha said Albania
was a small but determined and strategically important ally. Both men expressed
concern over developments in Kosovo, and Berisha called this "the most serious
crisis facing the Balkans." Solana stressed the need for OSCE monitors in the
region, who were expelled by Belgrade in summer 1993. Berisha, after the
meeting announced that some 40 Albanian soldiers will join German IFOR units in
Croatia. Albanians have trained in the U.S. for peacekeeping missions since
summer 1995. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN UPDATE.
A dispute has developed between the
opposition and the ruling Democrats about TV broadcasting time given to the
respective parties before the 26 May elections. The electoral commission has
allotted the the ruling Democrats with as much broadcasting time as all other
opposition parties received together. The opposition complained that state TV
covered the Democrats' election rallies in-depth for 30 minutes, while a
comparable Socialist rally only received 30 seconds of air-time. Earlier this
week, police broke into a Socialist party office in Tepelena removed the
party's flag from the balcony and tore down posters. Elsewhere, police detained
two people in Cerrik for writing Socialist slogans inside their shop, Koha
Jone reported. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS SAY THEY HAD WARNED WESTERN LEADERS.
Party published a letter its imprisoned leader Fatos Nano wrote to world
leaders in October 1995. In the letter, Nano claims that "the government's
arbitrary actions against the opposition and the independence of the courts
have increased so much that they actually threaten the process of the free,
democratic elections." In other news, German former President Richard von
Weizsaecker during a visit to Albania praised the country's success in
developing democracy and market reforms, Reuters reported on 1 May. -- Fabian
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels