COMMUNISTS DENOUNCE MEDIA "FALSIFICATIONS" . . .
manager and Duma deputy Valentin Kuptsov on 21 May denounced what he described
as "false" documents that have appeared in the press recently. He particularly
criticized Komsomolskaya pravda for publishing on 15 May what it claimed
were excerpts from the Communists' economic program and Moskovskie
novosti, which in its 19-26 May issue published an allegedly Communist
document concerning plans to overturn President Boris Yeltsin's 1991 decree
banning political activity in the workplace. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
. . . WHILE THE RUMOR MILL CHURNS ON.
Kuptsov and Communist leader
Gennadii Zyuganov also denied widespread reports of discord during an 18 May
Communist Central Committee meeting, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. For
instance, Izvestiya ran the implausible scenario that Zyuganov was about
to make a deal with Yeltsin, and deliberately lose the election in exchange for
being appointed to the post of prime minister. Rumors about conflict within the
Communist Party (KPRF) are published almost daily in the anti-Communist press,
which includes independent publications such as Izvestiya and
Moskovskii komsomolets as well as official newspapers like
Rossiiskaya gazeta and Rossiiskie vesti. The rumors generally
highlight more extreme elements within the KPRF, presumably in order to
frighten swing voters. At the same time, reports depicting Zyuganov as ready to
sell out or compromise are aimed at driving a wedge between him and his
Communist supporters. -- Laura Belin
CANDIDATES HAVE TROUBLE FINALIZING PROGRAMS.
Both President Yeltsin and
Zyuganov have had considerable difficulty issuing detailed versions of their
electoral programs. Yeltsin's most recent plan was to issue his campaign
platform by 20 May, but he did not meet his self-imposed deadline. One of his
campaign managers, Sergei Filatov, said that he thought it would appear soon
but that the staff needed at least two more days to finish it. Duma member
Tatyana Koryagina, who is working on the Communists' economic platform, also
said that it would take her team a few more days to iron out the main points of
the opposition's proposals. She reassured reporters that private property would
be respected and that price and foreign exchange controls would not be
reimposed. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
DEMOCRATS COMMEMORATE SAKHAROV'S BIRTH.
About 50 activists in a variety
of Moscow democratic political parties and 150 journalists turned out on 21 May
to mark the 75th anniversary of dissident Andrei Sakharov's birth on Lyubyanka
Square, under the shadow of the former KGB headquarters. The speakers recalled
the large crowds that turned out to mark the physicist's death and lamented the
lack of unity among today's reformers. Those present denounced Zyuganov and the
possible return to power of the Communists but were divided between President
Yeltsin and Yavlinskii. Also on 21 May, a square was named after Sakharov in
St. Petersburg, and the apartment in Nizhnii Novgorod (formerly Gorkii) where
Sakharov spent nearly seven years in internal exile was opened as a museum,
ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow
SPECULATION ON GRACHEV'S FUTURE.
The newspaper Nezavisimaya
gazeta claimed on 21 May that a presidential decree firing Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev and replacing him with retired General Boris Gromov has already
been drawn up and will be signed by 3 or 4 June. The military commentator for
Segodnya, Pavel Felgengauer, said "Grachev's position looks more shaky
than ever." Gromov's differences with Grachev over Chechnya and other issues
led to his removal as deputy defense minister in February 1995. Gromov was
elected to the Duma in December 1995, and is currently actively campaigning for
Yeltsin's re-election, appearing frequently as a TV spokesman for the president
to defend his decree abolishing the draft, for example. Aleksandr Zhilin,
military expert for Moskovskie novosti, said Grachev's April speech
contradicting President Yeltsin on halting military actions in Chechnya had
"put Yeltsin in a very difficult position. Logically Grachev must go," he was
quoted as saying, "although you can never be sure with Yeltsin." -- Doug Clarke
and Scott Parrish
DUMA URGES ACTION ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS.
At hearings on 21 May, deputies
called for the speedy adoption of laws on the destruction of Russia's stockpile
of chemical weapons and compensating residents exposed to environmental damage
from their production and destruction, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia has 40,000
metric tons of chemical weapons, which are to be processed at plants near the
seven arsenals where they are stored, in the regions of Udmurtiya, Bryansk,
Kirov, Penza, Kurgan, and Saratov. Duma Environment Committee Chairwoman Tamara
Zlotnikova complained that in 1995 the government disbursed only one third of
the funds budgeted for chemical weapons destruction, and has released no funds
at all for this purpose in 1996. The deputies noted upon the government to
submit for ratification the treaty banning chemical weapons which Russia signed
in January 1993. -- Scott Parrish
ST. PETERSBURG RUNOFF POSTPONED.
The St. Petersburg Electoral Commission
has postponed the second round of the city's gubernatorial election until 2
June, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 21 May. Originally, the runoff was
scheduled for 26 May, but the commission's spokesman said that it needs more
time for preparations. Incumbent Anatolii Sobchak and his former first deputy,
Vladimir Yakovlev, finished first and second in the 19 May first round (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 20 May 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya
ANOTHER MAYORAL CANDIDATE REGISTERED IN MOSCOW.
The Moscow Electoral
Commission has registered Moscow Duma deputy Olga Sergeeva as a candidate in
the city's 16 June mayoral election, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. The chairman
of the nationalist Officers' Union, Stanislav Terekhov, is the deputy mayoral
candidate on the Sergeeva ticket. This was Sergeeva and Terekhov's second
attempt to register, after more than 4,000 of their 89,509 nomination
signatures were found to have been forged the first time they tried to
register. The ballot will include three other pairs of candidates for mayor and
deputy mayor: incumbent Yurii Luzhkov and Moscow's Southern District
administration head, Valerii Shantsev; the former head of a local Communist
Party organization, Aleksandr Krasnov, and the director of a joint-stock
company, Nikolai Moskvichev; the heads of another joint-stock company, Vladimir
Filonenko and Nikolai Chumakov. -- Anna Paretskaya
PERRY WARNS RUSSIA, UKRAINE NOT TO SEND SS-18 TECHNOLOGY TO CHINA.
would be a "significant mistake" if either Russia or Ukraine were to provide
SS-18 strategic missile technology to China, U.S. Secretary of Defense William
Perry told reporters at the Pentagon on 21 May. Perry had revealed Chinese
interest in the SS-18 in a Washington Times interview. The SS-18 is the
largest intercontinental ballistic missile in the world. Built at the giant
Pivdenmash plant in Ukraine, the SS-18 formed the backbone of the Soviet
strategic rocket force. While Russia still deploys 186 of them, they would be
eventually banned under the START II treaty. Perry said that other than making
the missile's booster available for space launches, any transfer of SS-18
technology would violate the START I treaty and the Missile Technology Control
Regime. -- Doug Clarke
PRESIDENTIAL AIDE: RUSSIA WILL "WRECK" NATO EXPANSION.
In an interview
with Ekho Moskvy on 21 May, President Yeltsin's foreign policy aide, Dmitrii
Ryurikov, condemned plans to expand NATO as "unwise, shortsighted, and
irresponsible," saying Russia "is doing everything to wreck it." Ryurikov,
apparently frustrated that repeated Russian offers of some sort of compromise
have been snubbed, said he hoped "common sense would prevail," but that "for
now there is little sign of this happening." He blamed NATO's inflexibility for
the deadlock on the issue, claiming the alliance has no "serious thoughts"
about cooperation with Russia. Meanwhile, at a conference in Dublin, Deputy
Foreign Minister Sergei Kyrlov repeated earlier compromise offers, saying
Russia could accept East European countries joining NATO political but not
military structures. He also urged these countries to consider Ireland, which
belongs to the EU, but not NATO, as a possible model. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA HAILS IRAQI-UN OIL DEAL.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii
Karasin described the recently-signed agreement between the UN and Iraq as "a
breakthrough," ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. Under the deal, Iraq, which is
still under a UN economic embargo imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait,
will be allowed to sell $2 billion worth of oil to purchase food and medicine
under UN supervision. Karasin added, however, that Russia views the deal as a
"temporary measure" which "does not replace the main task of fully unblocking"
the embargo. While all members of the UN Security Council supported the deal,
Russia and France hope it will foster progress toward fully lifting the
embargo, while the U.S. and Britain have a more guarded stance. Iraq owes
Russia about $7 billion, which it cannot repay until after the embargo is
lifted. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN CRIMINALS AN INTERNATIONAL THREAT.
Police officials from Europe
and North America attended the third international seminar on organized crime
in the former Soviet Union in London on 20-21 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The
seminar was organized by Britain's National Criminal Intelligence Service.
Valerii Serebryakov, from the Chief Directorate for Organized Crime, reported
that there are 5,000 criminal gangs in Russia with 32,000 members, 100 of them
with international operations. Extortion and money-laundering feature
prominently in their activities. Maj. Gen. Giovanni Verdicchio of the Italian
Financial Guards said the Italian Mafia is investing in privatized businesses
in Russia. Meanwhile, in Moscow NTV reported on 20 May that Boris Fedorov, the
president of the National Sports Foundation and the Natsionalnyi Kredit Bank,
was arrested after drugs were found at his home. Fedorov is an associate of
Shamil Tarpishchev, President Yeltsin's tennis coach and a co-founder of the
National Sports Foundation. -- Peter Rutland
The number of murders in Russia rose from 15,500 in 1990 to
32,000 in 1995, Trud reported on 18 May. Many of them involve the
division of the market economy spoils: last year, there were 500 contract
killings, of which only 61 were solved. "We live in conditions of criminal
terror," the report concluded. While 73% of murders in the country are
solved--slightly more than in the U.S.--only 40% are solved in Moscow. The
paper also noted that 2,447 murders were committed in Kazakhstan in 1995, which
in proportion to the population is about half the Russian rate. In the latest
round of a mafia turf war in Moscow, three members of the "Kazan gang" were
shot dead on 20 May while standing outside a restaurant near the luxury Olympic
Penta hotel, AFP reported. -- Peter Rutland
YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON TAXATION.
President Yeltsin issued a decree on
21 May promising to freeze the number and level of taxes from January 1997,
ITAR-TASS reported. The decree also exempts firms from the 10 trillion rubles
($2 billion) in penalty payments which they currently owe as a result of late
payment of taxes, and cuts the penalty for future tax arrears from 1% to 0.3%
per day. The decree was issued in the absence of a revised Tax Code, the
passage of which is bogged down in the Duma. -- Natalia Gurushina
RUSSIA APPLIES FOR OECD MEMBERSHIP.
Russia became the first former
Soviet republic to apply for membership in the 27-country OECD, Western
agencies reported on 21 May. Russia also requested entry into OECD's
affiliates, the Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Energy Agency. In
December 1995, the Czech Republic became the first former socialist country to
join the OECD. OECD officials privately suggest that Russia is a long way from
meeting the club's membership criteria. Russia has also applied to join seven
working groups of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization (APEC),
ITAR-TASS reported on 22 May. World Bank President James Wolfensohn arrived in
Moscow on 22 May to discuss loans of $350 million and $500 million for highway
renovation and coal industry reconstruction. -- Natalia Gurushina
UN SECURITY COUNCIL DENOUNCES OPPOSITION OFFENSIVE.
Responding to an
appeal from Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, the UN Security Council held a
session on 21 May to discuss the situation in Tajikistan, particularly in the
Tavil-Dara region, Reuters and AFP reported the same day. Security Council
President Qin Huasun of China read a statement condemning "the planned and
organized offensive by armed Tajik opposition in the Tavil-Dara region," and
saying "that all such actions further aggravate the already serious
humanitarian situation in Tajikistan." The statement called the offensive
"totally unacceptable" and demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities in
accordance with the Tehran ceasefire agreement signed in 1994, which was
extended by another three months on 19 May. -- Bruce Pannier
DEFENSE INDUSTRY CONVERSION IN UZBEKISTAN.
U.S. Department of Commerce
Undersecretary Barry Carter and Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov on 16 May
signed an agreement establishing the basic principles of Uzbek defense industry
conversion, the BBC reported on 18 May. Uzbek President Islam Karimov is
scheduled to visit Washington, D.C. in June 1996. -- Roger Kangas
UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH EU OFFICIALS.
met with the European Commissioner for External Relations Hans van den Broek
and the foreign ministers of Italy, Ireland, and Spain on 21 May in Rome, AFP
reported. The meeting focused on Ukraine's relations with the EU and on how the
organization can financially assist Ukraine in its economic reform program and
the eventual shutdown of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2000.
The foreign ministers also released a statement noting that the EU considers
Ukrainian independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty vital to
European security. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 22 May, Udovenko
reiterated that Ukraine should not become a buffer zone between NATO and Russia
and questioned NATO expansion unless some agreement can be worked out with
Russia. -- Roger Kangas
SECOND BELARUSIAN HUNGER STRIKER RELEASED.
The Belarusian authorities on
21 May released Belarusian Popular Front leader Yuriy Khadyka who had staged a
hunger strike for the previous 23 days, Reuters reported. Khadyka had been
protesting his detention on charges of organizing a rally in Minsk on 26 April
that opposed the pro-Russian policies of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. He
went from prison to the Minsk hospital, where his co-hunger striker Vyachaslau
Siuchyk has been receiving treatment since 17 May. The detention of the two BPF
leaders prompted numerous appeals and a demonstration in Minsk for their
release. The charges against the two have not been dropped, and they could face
up to three years' imprisonment if convicted. -- Saulius Girnius
ESTONIA ALLOWS RUSSIA TO OPEN CONSULATE IN TARTU.
The Estonian Foreign
Ministry has agreed to the opening of a Russian consular department in Tartu,
ETA reported on 21 May. The ministry had rejected previous requests by Russia
for such an office, arguing that Estonia was so small that the embassy in
Tallinn and consular office in Narva were sufficient. The decision, announced
prior to the next round of border talks between the two countries in Pskov on
22-23 May, is expected to make it easier for some Russian citizens living in
Estonia to vote in the June presidential elections in Russia. -- Saulius
DATE SET FOR LATVIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
The Saeima Caucas Council
has announced it will convene a special session of the parliament on 18 June to
elect a new state president, BNS reported on 21 May. It also proposed that the
parliament's spring session end on 17 June and the fall session begin on 8
August. The term of President Guntis Ulmanis expires on 7 July so there will be
ample opportunity to hold a second round of voting if none of the nominees wins
in the first round. The four candidates so far are Ulmanis, supported by the
Farmers' Union, Christian Democratic Union, and Latvia's Way; Ilga Kreituse of
the Democratic Party Saimnieks; Imants Liepa of the Popular Movement of
Latvia; and imprisoned former Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks.
-- Saulius Girnius
POLES ON RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION . . .
A recent public opinion
poll conducted by the Warsaw-based Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP) shows
that 42% of Poles over the age of 15 are anxious about the outcome of the
presidential elections in Russia next month. Only 7% of respondents were
"hopeful" about the outcome, with 24% saying they were not interested and 20%
declaring indifference. Of the respondents, 59% believed that Russia would like
to subordinate Poland to Russian rule; only 23% did not believe this was the
case, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 22 May. -- Jakub Karpinski
. . . AND CZECHS ON CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION.
More than 55% of the
respondents in a recent opinion poll say they would accept a Czech-German
declaration in which the Czechs admitted the "moral incorrectness" of the
expulsion of some 3 million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War
II if the Germans gave up property claims and compensated Czech victims of the
Nazi regime. Conducted by the Factum agency and published in Mlada Fronta
Dnes on 22 May, the poll revealed that such a declaration would be
unacceptable to only 30% of the respondents. Previous polls have indicated that
an overwhelming majority of Czechs are opposed to an official apology for the
expulsion; the Factum poll used the term "admitting moral incorrectness."
According to the poll, those who experienced World War II and those with
leftist views are more likely to oppose any settlement of the Sudeten German
issue, while young people tend to be more pragmatic. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON REACTS TO POLICE DECISION.
Michal Kovac Jr. on 21
May issued a statement to TASR responding to the police's decision the previous
day to adjourn the investigation into his kidnapping. He wrote that, "I do not
wish for anyone, even those who would rather believe in lies, to experience
such an approach of the state to its citizen [as I have]." Alluding to his
father, he noted that "this state has tried to discredit its citizen in every
way possible in order to remove from office another citizen, coincidentally the
first citizen of this state." In an attempt to reach its aim, the state "tried
to use the police in order to discredit [Kovac Jr.] and put him in prison,"
even utilizing "the services of individuals with a criminal past," he argued.
-- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK CABINET SUES SLOVAK JOURNALIST.
The government on 21 May
announced that a law suit has been filed against Sme editor Peter Toth
and its publisher for "intolerance and gross and ungrounded attacks against the
cabinet," TASR reported. The government is demanding a public apology and
compensation "for the damage to civic honor and human dignity." Toth, who has
closely covered the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, has been a
frequent victim of criticism from coalition representatives. He was physically
attacked last October. The current charges stem from Toth's statements at
former policeman Robert Remias's funeral, when he accused the Slovak
Information Service and government circles of involvement in Remias's death.
Sme chief editor Karol Jezik told CTK that the suit is "an attempt at
intimidation," adding that the cabinet has already filed more than ten lawsuits
against Sme and its editors. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN FIGHTER PLANES LEAVE FOR POLAND WITHOUT PARLIAMENT'S APPROVAL.
Hungary's armed forces have sent MiG-29 aircraft to Poland for military
exercises without the approval of the parliament, Hungarian media reported on
22 May. The Hungarian Army's official 1996 schedule provided for the deployment
of eight MiG fighters to Poland on 16 May, but the parliament did not give its
approval by that date. The planes were reportedly sent to Poland without even
the approval of Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti. Magyar Hirlap quotes the
constitution as stating that the armed forces cannot cross the country's
borders without the prior consent of parliament, except in the case of military
exercises within the framework of international treaties or peacekeeping
activities carried out at the request of the United Nations. The five
opposition parties on 21 May unanimously demanded the dismissal of Keleti. --
HUNGARY TO GRANT COMMON LAW RIGHTS TO HOMOSEXUAL COUPLES.
on 21 May amended the Civil Code to grant common law rights to homosexual
couples, Hungarian media reported. Homosexuals are now entitled to inherit
property from their partners and receive a deceased partner's pension. But they
will not be allowed to adopt children. The amendment was required after a
Constitutional Court ruling in March 1995 extending recognition of common-law
relationships to homosexual couples. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BILDT FAILED TO OUST KARADZIC?
High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt
and commander of IFOR ground troops Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Walker, meeting with
the Bosnian Serb leadership at Pale on 21 May, failed to receive a commitment
that the Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic would
resign, international agencies reported. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic
noted that the effort to unseat Karadzic has failed, AFP reported. Meanwhile,
in an interview with the B 92 radio station, Bildt said he will ask Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic to help arrest Karadzic and another indicted war
criminal, Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic. Nasa Borba on 22 May commented
that if Bildt reports to the UN Contact Group that Milosevic has failed to help
implement the Dayton peace agreement, sanctions to the rump Yugoslavia could be
resumed. -- Daria Sito Sucic
BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS.
Vice President Ejup
Ganic has said his government will not take part in the vote slated for
mid-September unless indicted war criminals Karadzic and Mladic are removed
from power. He also demanded a change in the election rules to ensure that
people can vote in home areas from which they have been expelled. "The danger
of these elections, if they are not done correctly, is that they will verify
ethnic cleansing. They will become a blueprint for how to ethnically expel
people," the New York Times on 22 May quoted him as saying. Ganic's
views are in keeping with the Dayton agreement, but its key architect, Richard
Holbrooke, now seems to have doubts about the principles Ganic recalled.
Holbrooke told the BBC on 21 May that massive and involuntary demographic
changes have become "a fact of life" in Bosnia. He added, however, that
elections must take place this year even if they are "flawed" lest they never
be held. -- Patrick Moore
NATO NOT TO HUNT DOWN KARADZIC?
Atlantic Alliance sources on 21 May said
that IFOR troops will not go after Karadzic for fear the move could lead to
casualties among the peacekeepers, Onasa reported. The head of the Hague-based
war crimes tribunal, Justice Richard Goldstone, said however that he cannot
"believe that 60,000 [IFOR] troops would have difficulty" in arresting the war
criminals, The New York Times noted on 22 May. Meanwhile in
Washington, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the U.S. has spoken
to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic about his obligation to make sure the
Bosnian Serbs observe all aspects of the Dayton accord, including bringing war
criminals to justice. Milosevic reportedly told the Americans that he wants the
Bosnian Serbs to comply, but he did not say what he will do about it, Onasa
added. Burns also called Karadzic's plans for a referendum "a lot of hot air,"
adding that "it won't happen because we won't let it happen," Reuters stated.
-- Patrick Moore
SERBIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NEW ACTING BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENT.
Meanwhile, Milosevic met with Biljana Plavsic on 21 May, Nasa Borba
reported the following day. Recently appointed by Karadzic, she was accompanied
by vice president Nikola Koljevic. Their meeting focused on major political
issues in Bosnia, with Milosevic encouraging the Bosnian Serbs to set up and
respect "democratic institutions" before the elections. Milosevic recently has
come under pressure from the international community to secure a change in the
leadership of the Bosnian Serbs, in particular Karadzic's removal from power.
-- Stan Markotich
SERBS TORTURED SEVEN MUSLIM PRISONERS.
Bosnian Serb policemen beat and
abused seven uniformed Muslims arrested by U.S. IFOR troops in eastern Bosnia
earlier this month and then handed them over to the local police force. A UN
spokesman said the torture to obtain confessions took place in a prison in
Zvornik, Oslobodjenje reported on 22 May. The men, whose origin and
identity are unknown, are now being held in Bijeljina, where they have received
some medical attention. The Muslims were armed, and explosions were heard
before they surrendered to the Americans. Bosnian officials maintain they may
be refugees from Srebrenica who have been hiding out in the woods and
mountains, but NATO said they looked too well fed and groomed to have been
living rough since last summer. -- Patrick Moore
SERBS BEGIN DEMILITARIZATION IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
Jacques Klein, UN
administrator for the Croatian Serb-held eastern Slavonia, has announced that
Serbian demilitarization in the region began on 21 May following the full
deployment of the 5,000-strong multinational UN peacekeeping force (UNTAES),
international and local media reported. Demilitarization is to be completed
within one month. UN sources said the Serbs have already withdrawn most of
their heavy weapons to Serbia and Montenegro. Croatian Radio on 21 May reported
that telephone lines between eastern Slavonia and other parts of Croatia have
been partly restored as a step toward full reintegration with the rest of
Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic
NATO TROOPS TO PARTICIPATE IN JOINT MILITARY MANEUVERS IN ROMANIA.
the request of President Ion Iliescu, the Chamber of Deputies on 21 May
approved the participation of NATO troops in six joint military exercises to be
held on Romanian territory this year within the framework of the Partnership
for Peace program, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. Socialist Labor
Party deputy Silviu Somacu vehemently opposed the proposal, raising arguments
described by Adevarul as "typical of communist propaganda." Some
deputies called him a "dirty Communist," and fist-fight was narrowly averted,
Evenimentul zilei reported. -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN CAPITAL WARNS OF SPREAD OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES.
Mayor's Office has declared a state of emergency "in connection with the danger
of spread of acute diarrhea, cholera, and other infectious diseases,"
BASA-press reported on 20 May. Deputy Major Dumitru Gatcan said the office has
banned selling perishable products on the streets. An official of the National
Hygiene and Epidemology Center told BASA that the cholera danger persists this
year, especially in the Transdniester region, where most cases were reported in
1995. -- Michael Shafir
OSCE MISSION HEAD'S MANDATE ENDS IN MOLDOVA.
Michael Wygant, whose
mandate as head of the OSCE mission in Moldova has ended, on 20 May met with
President Mircea Snegur, BASA-press reported . Snegur said the mission has
helped Moldova maintain peace and take steps toward reaching a settlement to
the Transdniestrian dispute. At the same time, he insisted that such a
settlement "must proceed from the premise of Moldova's independence,
sovereignty, and territorial integrity, [which are] recognized by the
mediators." Wygant said the time when "theoretical discussions will be replaced
by practical action in a united, integral, and independent Moldova" was not far
off. -- Michael Shafir
COUNTERFEIT WESTERN BILLS FLOOD BULGARIA.
With the lev continuing to
fall against the U.S. dollar and with many Bulgarians trying to trade their lev
savings for hard currency, large amounts of counterfeit U.S. and German bills
are circulating in Bulgaria, Bulgarian National Bank Deputy Governor Dimitar
Dimitrov told Bulgarian TV on 21 May. A senior police official estimated that
"dozens of millions" of counterfeit U.S. dollars are on the Bulgarian market.
According to 24 chasa, the bogus bills come from the Middle East via
Turkey. In other news, Bulgaria and the EU on 21 May agreed to boost nuclear
safety at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, RFE/RL reported. Kozloduy's Reactor
No. 1 was shut down for EU-sponsored safety tests last week. Bulgarian and EU
experts will jointly decide when it will go back on line. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BANKING LAWS.
The Bulgarian parliament on 21
May passed on first reading a law on compensating citizens and enterprises that
have lost their savings in banks facing bankruptcy proceedings, Bulgarian media
reported The law envisions full compensation for citizens and 50% compensation
for companies. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov estimates these measures will
cost 20 billion leva ($159 million). -- Michael Wyzan
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN CHINA.
Zhan Videnov on 21 May reaffirmed
that Sofia remains committed to its "one China" policy, Trud reported.
Speaking in Beijing,
he commented that Bulgaria will not establish
official contacts with Taiwan. Videnov also said that Tibet is an "autonomous
region" in China and that the Tibetan issue is China's internal affair. Videnov
told his Chinese counterpart, Li Peng, that his government considers good
relations and cooperation with Beijing one of its foreign-policy priorities.
Several bilateral agreements have been signed so far, including ones on
cooperation in public security, education, science, and patents. Videnov is the
first Bulgarian prime minister to visit China in some 40 years. -- Stefan
RECORD ECONOMIC GROWTH IN ALBANIA.
According to an IMF report, Albania
continues to be the poorest European country, but its economy is the
fastest-growing in Europe, AFP reported on 21 May. The report states that the
economy grew by 11% last year, while the budget deficit was 7% of GDP and
annual inflation only 6%. Foreign investment amounted to $2.5 billion, and
remittances from Albanians working abroad reached $400-600 million. However,
wages remain low--at an average of $70 a month--and unemployment is still
widespread. The Frankfurter Rundschau on 22 May reported that official
unemployment is 15% but soars to almost 50% in the former industrial regions in
the north. -- Stefan Krause
PROSECUTOR DEMANDS LIFE IMPRISONMENT FOR FORMER ALBANIAN COMMUNISTS.
Prosecutor Arjan Sulstafa on 21 May demanded that former President Haxhi
Lleshi, Deputy Prime Minister Manush Myftiu, Supreme Court Chairman Aranit
Cela, and Deputy Interior Minister and head of the secret police Zylyftar
Ramizi be sentenced to life imprisonment, Reuters reported. He also urged that
the fifth defendant, former Prosecutor-General Rrapi Mino, receive a 25-year
sentence. The five former officials are charged with crimes against humanity
while in power. They are also accused of ordering the internal exile of
political opponents. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave