NEW ASSAULT ON GROZNY IMMINENT?
Russian troops intensified their
artillery bombardment of Grozny on 12 January amid predictions of a "final
assault" on the city in the next few days, according to AFP. ITAR-TASS reported
the dispatch to Chechnya of several hundred naval reinforcements, including
marines, while Interfax said a large convoy of armored vehicles set out on 11
January from Vladikavkaz toward the Chechen frontier. Both Chechen and Russian
military spokesmen suggested that Chechen forces might pull out of Grozny and
regroup in the south of the republic to continue resistance against the
Russians. In an interview with Krasnaya zvezda on 12 January, Russian
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev warned that the war in Chechnya "will last for
years." Meanwhile, the higher echelons of the Defense Ministry "swamped the
Kremlin switchboard" with calls protesting the 11 January proposal that
President Boris Yeltsin assume direct control of the military, according to AFP
quoting Yeltsin's adviser for national security issues, Yurii Baturin. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA REJECTS WESTERN CRITICISM OF CHECHEN POLICY.
Speaking at a press
conference in Moscow on 12 January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii
Karasin rejected as "inadequate and hasty" calls by Western political leaders
for freezing economic and political cooperation with Russia in response to its
handling of the Chechen crisis, Interfax and AFP report. While conceding the
importance of the human rights aspect of the conflict, Karasin argued that "the
scale of the challenge that Russia faced in Chechnya made human tragedies and
losses practically inevitable." He hinted that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev would brief US Secretary of State Warren Christopher on the Chechen
situation at their meeting in Geneva on 17-18 January. In Vienna, a meeting of
the OSCE Standing Committee on 12 January announced Russia has agreed to
cooperate with an OSCE mission that will travel to Chechnya to assess human
rights situation there, according to AFP. Also on 12 January, French Foreign
Minister Alain Juppe, the current EU president, announced in Brussels that the
union will lodge a new diplomatic protest with the Russian leadership. He noted
that "Russia's promises to seek a negotiated solution have so far been without
result." In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati reiterated
Iran's readiness to mediate in Chechnya. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERATION COUNCIL COMPLETES FIRST STAGE OF HEARINGS ON CHECHNYA
Chairman of the Federation Council Pavel Shtein said deputies regard Dzhokhar
Dudaev and his regime as "criminal," Interfax reported 12 January. But he added
that "Federation Council members were split on assessing actions of the federal
authorities in eliminating Dudaev's regime." Shtein said the council will
continue its hearings at a later date. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CHECHEN CRISIS FANS CONFEDERATIVE AMBITIONS.
The Chechen crisis
threatens to increase the desire of Russia's regional leaders to loosen ties
with the center, Leonid Smirnyagin, a member of Yeltsin's Council of Advisers
told Interfax on 11 January. He expected the regions to increase their demands
for greater control over ethnic issues, pointing to their growing criticism of
the federal authorities' failure to consult them about the handling of the
Chechen crisis. Smirnyagin said such demands were groundless since the upper
house of the parliament represents the interests of the regions. Meanwhile,
Interfax reports that Yeltsin met with the heads of the Moscow, Kostroma,
Rostov, Chita, and Stavropol regions on 12 January. According to the
president's press service, the regional leaders were worried about legislation
on the regions' status currently being debated by the Duma. They said the
proposed law failed to guarantee the constitutional principle of power-sharing
and ensure political stability. The regional leaders pushed for new legislation
that would give Moscow and the regions equal standing. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
SOARING COSTS OF CHECHEN WAR.
Russian TV newscasts on 12 January quoted
Yelstin adviser Aleksandr Livshits as saying the month-long Chechen war has
cost Russia 800 billion rubles ($220 million). He estimated that rebuilding the
Chechen economy would cost 4-5 trillion rubles, "perhaps more but not much
more," Ostankino's "Vremya" newscast reported him as saying. Col. Gen. Vasilii
Vorobev, who heads the General Staff's budget and finance department, told
Interfax on 12 January that the military operations in Chechnya have cost the
Defense Ministry 550 billion rubles to date. He said that each day's operations
added another 12-14 billion rubles to the bill and that one shot from the
125-mm gun of a T-72 tanks cost 1.7 million rubles. Vorobev also said the
Defense Ministry has made no large purchases of equipment or ammunition because
of the recent events. -- Julia Wishnevsky and Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
CONFLICTING CASUALTY FIGURES.
According to ITAR-TASS on 12 January, the
Federation Council was told that 394 Defense and Interior Ministry personnel
have been killed and 1,000 wounded in Chechnya since fighting broke out. Taken
in conjunction with official figures released on 6 January, these data mean
that 35% of the losses took place in the five-day period from 7-11 January. But
the government tallies have been disputed. Interfax on 12 January quoted the
Chechen General Headquarters as saying 3,000-4,000 Russian servicemen have been
killed in 1995 alone. State Duma Deputy Aivars Lezdysh--a Liberal
Democrat--told a Moscow press conference on 11 January that at least 1,500
Russian military were killed in the last few days. He claimed to have counted
160 dead servicemen in three Grozny districts he had visited. -- Doug Clarke,
YELTSIN'S APPROVAL RATING.
Russian TV's "Vesti" on 12 January cited
Livshits as saying the president's approval rating, which nose-dived after the
Chechen war broke out in December, has started to improve. A survey conducted
by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion at the beginning of
January revealed that only 17% of the respondents were satisfied with Yeltsin's
performance as president (compared with 28% in September 1994). While 70% of
those polled in September were dissatisfied with Yeltsin's work, this figure
had climbed to 81% in January. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
SOLZHENITSYN SAYS CHECHNYA SHOULD BE GRANTED INDEPENDENCE.
interview with Argumenty i fakty, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn reiterated his
proposal that Russia grant Chechnya independence. He criticized the Russian
authorities for not doing so when the republic declared independence in 1991.
Solzhenitsyn said that immediately after the republic's declaration, Russia
should have cut its subsidies to Chechnya, sealed its borders, and deported all
Chechens residing in Moscow and other Russian cities or treated them as
foreigners. Solzhenitsyn believed that continuing the war against Chechnya
might result in a Russian confrontation with the entire Muslim world, which, he
said, should be avoided at all costs. He opposed signing a confederation treaty
with the breakaway Caucasian republic because of a possible domino effect, even
in those republics with a Russian majority population. Only those republics
where the eponymous nationality constitutes two-thirds of the
population--namely, Chechnya, Chuvashia, and Tuva--could be granted
independence if they requested it, Solzhenitsyn said. Meanwhile,
Nezavisimaya gazeta published on 11 January an appeal to Solzhenitsyn,
signed by 11 young Russian politicians, asking him to run for the presidency in
the next elections. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
GAIDAR SAYS YELTSIN RISKS LOSING CONTROL OF MILITARY.
In London for a
meeting of the International Democrat Union grouping of center-right parties,
Egor Gaidar, the leader of Russia's Choice, told reporters that if Yeltsin
"continues in the way he is doing, in a very short time he will not be in
control of the military." Gaidar said Yeltsin was already "much more dependent
on the army and military forces than he was," Reuters reported on 12 January.
Gaidar was not optimistic that the legislation his faction introduced in the
Duma this week, banning the use of military force in Russia except in a state
of emergency, would be adopted. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
DEFENSE WORKERS WANT YELTSIN OUT.
At an emergency conference of the
Russian Defense Industry Workers' Union on 12 January, workers decided to
prepare for joint action to bring down the government and replace Yeltsin.
According to Interfax, the union reported that more than 200,000 workers left
Russian defense enterprises in 1994. Workers were owed more than 160 billion
rubles, while their average wage was only 62.5% of the average industrial wage.
The union charged that less than 30% of the necessary funds were provided in
1994 for programs to convert defense plants to civilian production. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
AIR FORCE GENERAL GUILTY OF MISAPPROPRIATION.
The military collegium of
the Russian Supreme Court on 12 January sentenced Air Force Maj. Gen. Nikolai
Seliverstov to five years in prison for misappropriating government property.
According to Interfax, the court also required him to return 64 million rubles
to the treasury. Seliverstov was the deputy commander of the air forces of the
Western Group of Forces in Germany. He went to trial on 22 November for the
theft of state funds, bribery, and forgery. The last two charges were dropped
by the court. Interfax said the verdict was final and could not be appealed. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN AIDE DENIES "DEPRIVATIZATION" PLANS.
Livshits, speaking at a 12
January news conference, predicted that inflation would fall in the near
future. He dismissed as "absolutely groundless" rumors about the collapse of
the ruble and government plans to replace 50,000 ruble bank notes and to
suspend hard-currency bank accounts. Equally "groundless," he said, was the
rumor that newly appointed State Property Committee Chairman Vladimir Polevanov
plans to reverse the privatization of Russia's economy. He ruled out both a
"curtailment" of privatization and the renationalization of industries already
privatized. In an interview with Russian TV's "Pod-robnosti" on 29 December
1994, Polevanov revealed plans to nationalize factories producing aluminum for
military purposes. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN URGES STATE DUMA TO APPOINT PARAMONOVA AS RUSSIAN BANK HEAD.
a meeting with Duma deputies on 12 January, Yeltsin called for the confirmation
of Tatyana Paramonova as head of the Central Bank, according to Interfax.
Paramonova has been acting head since the Duma ousted former Chairman Viktor
Gerashchenko on 23 November 1994. In order for the Central Bank to make
substantive progress in banking procedures, Yeltsin stressed the importance of
making a permanent appointment. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
AUCTIONING BONDS AND FUTURES TRADING IN STORE FOR MICEX.
Interbank Currency Exchange announced on 12 January that it will begin
auctioning bonds and trading future contracts for US dollars in February.
Sergei Kharitonov, MICEX term operations head, said in a 12 January news
conference that 110 commercial banks and financial companies have applied to
take part in the auction. Although the mechanism for trading term contracts has
been established, the auction format has still not been finalized. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES DEFICIT-FREE BUDGET.
Meeting in emergency
session on 12 January, the Georgian parliament approved by 122 votes to 62 a
deficit-free budget for 1995, with revenue and spending amounting to 243
trillion coupons, Interfax reported. (As of 1 January, the National Bank
exchange rate was 1.28 million coupons to $1.) The lion's share of
expenditures--15.7%--will be on defense, followed by 13.7% on law enforcement.
In lines with IMF recommendations, spending on the government apparatus will
not exceed 4.8%. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
KUCHMA SEES 1995 AS TURNING POINT FOR UKRAINIAN ECONOMY.
President Leonid Kuchma told newspaper editors in the central Ukrainian city of
Zhytomyr that 1995 will be a turning point for the Ukrainian economy,
Interfax-Ukraine reported on 12 January. He said "either the situation will be
changed for the better or we will face a total collapse." He also noted that
the draft state budget for 1995 will include the toughest austerity measures
ever. Kuchma accused the Cabinet of Ministers of lacking real commitment to
economic reforms and suggested a cabinet reshuffle was possible. He said a new
constitutional law giving the president sweeping executive authority to preside
over reform must be passed by parliament this month so that he can immediately
adopt effective decisions. Otherwise, he will be forced to call a national
referendum on the issue, he commented. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
CRIMEAN LEGISLATURE LAYS CLAIM TO PROPERTY ON PENINSULA.
parliament has voted to place all property on its territory subject to
privatization--including ports, railways, and dozens of Black Sea
resorts--under the region's jurisdiction, Reuters reported on 12 January.
Legislators said they voted for the resolution because they feared Ukrainians
from outside Crimea would buy up local property. Officials in Kiev said the
decision violates Ukrainian law. Crimean government ministers had appealed to
the legislators to refrain from making rash decisions, while legal experts had
warned the parliament that the move violated Ukrainian and international laws.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UNEMPLOYMENT IN UKRAINE MAY CAP 2.5 MILLION IN 1995.
director of the State Employment Center, told journalists in Kiev that more
than 2.5 million Ukraine residents are expected to be unemployed in 1995,
Interfax-Ukraine reported on 12 January. Mass layoffs may begin in the first
half of the year, he said. While only 113,200 people were officially registered
as unemployed in 1994, hidden unemployment at industrial enterprises and
government agencies was believed to approach 3.4 million, including many
workers who went on forced vacation for more than a month or worked shorter
weeks or days. Due to expected budgetary restrictions and austerity measures in
the draft state budget for 1995, unemployment benefits will be cut from the
equivalent of three months' wages to one months' salary, Yerasov said. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES IN BELARUS.
The Belarusian parliament has demanded
to see the text of the recently signed Russian-Belarusian agreements,
Belarusian Radio reported on 12 January. The agreements are considered vital to
an assessment of the budget since they will affect Belarus's annual revenues.
Deputy Prime Minister Syarhei Ling said that the customs agreement with Russia
will generate $250 million for Belarus, but the country will have to pay $500
million for Russian energy supplies. Deputies complained that they were
excluded from the drafting of the accords with Russia and learned of their
signing only from the media. Uladzimir Novikau, the head of the parliament
Industry Committee, criticized the government's trade policy, which calls for
the export of 80% of the country's output to Russia. Novikau said Belarus must
find new markets for its products, otherwise its industries will be doomed.
Debate on the budget is proceeding smoothly, with deputies agreeing that the
budget deficit must be kept down to 4% of GDP. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER ESTONIYA DECLARED BANKRUPT.
Estoniya, one of the major Russian-language newspapers in
Estonia, has been declared bankrupt by a Tallinn court, Interfax reports on 12
January. The newspaper, formerly called Sovetskaya Estoniya, was the
official organ of the Estonian Communist Party. Its acting editor-in-chief,
Vyacheslav Ivanov, said that even though Estoniya was one of the few
official newspapers in the country, the state decided not to invest in its
development. He added that despite the formal bankruptcy of the state-run
joint-stock company, Newspaper Estonia, the daily will still be issued. Its
journalists have set up a joint-stock company called Kronist and will continue
to sell the newspaper at the same price. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
WALESA LOSES BATTLE IN TAX WAR.
Poland's Constitutional Tribunal on 12
January ruled that tax legislation challenged by President Lech Walesa does not
violate constitutional guidelines. The tribunal ruled only on Walesa's
objection that the tax law fails to raise a deduction for housing renovations
to keep pace with inflation. It did not consider the president's more sweeping
challenge to the tax rates themselves (21%, 33%, and 45%), noting that such a
challenge is possible only after the bill has been signed into law.
Rezeczpospolita notes that most company accountants have been deducting
taxes in accordance with the government's instructions, disregarding calls from
some politicians (including Walesa) to adhere to the pre-1994 20%, 30%, and 40%
rates. The lower rates would reduce budget revenues by $500 million. The key
question now is whether the president will push ahead with his challenge to the
ruling coalition by vetoing the 1995 budget, which the parliament passed at
record speed early in January. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH TRIBUNAL RULES ON "CLEAN HANDS."
In a second ruling expected to
decide the fate of Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski, the Constitutional
Tribunal ruled on 12 January that the "anticorruption" law of 1992 bans high
public officials from holding posts in private firms and permits them to sit on
the boards of commercial firms in which the state has a stake only when
expressly assigned to do. They may accept no payment. But the tribunal also
stressed that officials who accepted extra salaries in the past had done so "in
good faith," as government lawyers had instructed that this practice was legal.
Justice Minister Wlodzimierz Cimosewicz, who in October published lists of
dozens of officials who, he said, were violating the 1992 law, claimed the
ruling justified his "clean hands" campaign. Olechowski, who was included on
the justice minister's list because of his post as chairman of the board of
Bank Handlowy, had said he would resign if the tribunal ruled in Cimoszewicz's
favor. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN OIL DELIVERIES TO CZECH REPUBLIC RESUMED.
Russian oil supplies
to the Czech Republic have resumed after a four-day interruption, Czech media
report on 13 January. Deliveries were cut off because of a dispute over
pipeline transit fees between Russia and Ukraine. The Czech Republic's biggest
refinery had to draw on state reserves to keep operating. Other refineries had
sufficient oil reserves and were not seriously affected by the interruption.
Officials said 30,000 tons of crude oil were expected to reach the Czech
Republic daily, almost twice the country's minimum needs. -- Steve Kettle,
SLOVAK OPPOSITION APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
from the Christian Democratic Movement, the Democratic Union, the Party of the
Democratic Left, the Social Democratic Party, and the three ethnic Hungarian
parties submitted a proposal on 12 January to the Constitutional Court asking
it to review two laws recently passed by the parliament. One law is an
amendment to the large-scale privatization legislation transferring control
over privatization from the government to the National Property Fund; the other
cancels all direct-sale privatization projects carried out by the Moravcik
government after 6 September. The two laws were passed by the parliament on 4
November, vetoed by the president, and then reapproved by the legislature on 21
December. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES VISIT SLOVAKIA.
Delegations from three
Hungarian opposition parties--the Hungarian Democratic Forum, the Christian
Democratic Peoples' Party, and the Alliance of Young Democrats--arrived in
Slovakia on 12 January for a two-day visit. Invited by the chairmen of the
three ethnic Hungarian parties in Slovakia, the Hungarian politicians are
seeking to strengthen ties with ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia and contribute to
the development of "good-neighborly relations," HDF Chairman Lajos Fur said.
The delegation is expected to meet with Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar and the
chairmen of the Christian Democratic Movement and Democratic Union, Sme
reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT CANCELS PRIVATIZATION DEAL.
government on 12 January canceled a major hotel privatization deal and fired
privatization chief Ferenc Bartha, MTI reports. The government accused the
State Property Agency, headed by Bartha, of "professional lapses" and ignoring
"the interests of the national economy." The State Property Agency agreed to
sell 51% of the shares of 14 Hungarian hotels to the American General
Hospitality for $57.5 million. But Prime Minister Gyula Horn stopped the
transaction because he considered the price too low. The cancellation of the
deal and the dismissal of Bartha is likely to exacerbate growing tensions
between Horn's Hungarian Socialist Party and its coalition partner, the
Alliance of Free Democrats, which was opposed to both moves. The Financial
Times on 13 January reports that the index of the Budpaest stock exchange
fell 66 points, the biggest daily drop for nearly a year, in anticipation that
the government would cancel the sale. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLVES TO CONTINUE WITH EASING OF SERBIAN SANCTIONS.
The UN Security Council voted 14-0 on 12 January to continue easing
sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia for another 100 days. Russia, objecting
primarily to additional restrictions on oil convoys from Serbia Serb-controlled
territories of Croatia, was the only nation to abstain. Reuters on 13 January
reports the council's decision received mixed reviews, with leaders from
Islamic states arguing that sanctions should not be eased until the Bosnian
Serbs show their full support for peace. Reuters also quotes Muhamed Sacirbey,
Bosnia's UN ambassador, as saying the sanctions monitors' means for tracking
activity along Serbia's border with Bosnia and Herzegovina were "flawed and
inadequate from their inception." A partial easing of sanctions was introduced
by a resolution dating from September 1994 in recognition of what appears to be
Belgrade's severing of some ties with the Bosnian Serbs. Sanctions on
transportation links and cultural and sports events were first eased for a
period of 100 days. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA ENDS UNPROFOR MANDATE.
Hina on 12 January carried the texts of
messages by President Franjo Tudjman to the Croatian nation and to UN Secretary
General Boutros Boutros-Ghali saying Croatia will not renew UNPROFOR's mandate
when it expires on 31 March. The UN forces will have three months to leave the
country, although they may continue to use Zagreb as UN regional headquarters.
He thanked the UN forces for their initial successes in keeping peace and noted
that many were killed or wounded in the process. But he argued that UNPROFOR
has not promoted the reintegration of the Serb-held one-third of Croatian
territory despite repeated warnings from the Croatian government to do so or
face the loss of its mandate. The president concluded that UNPROFOR is not only
"inefficient" but also "significantly counterproductive to the peace process."
He added that UNPROFOR's departure could provide a fresh impetus for a peaceful
solution to the problems of Croatia, Bosnia, and the region as a whole. Tudjman
stressed that his government seeks a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis,
and he also reassured the Serbian minority that its rights will be protected in
keeping with Croatian law. Croatian diplomats had informed Contact Group
representatives as well as Italy, China, and the Vatican of Tudjman's decision
in advance, although speculation continues as to whether his word is final. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM OF TUDJMAN'S STATEMENT.
Reuters on 13 January
quoted some UN officials as suggesting that the president's speech leaves
little room for maneuver, while also mentioning that the world organization
should not overreact but rather make a "considered reply." Boutros-Ghali
nonetheless said he is "gravely concerned about the risk of renewed
hostilities," and Croatia's two closest major allies, Germany and the United
States, were also critical of Tudjman's moves, the BBC reports. But public
opinion polls in Croatia have indicated widespread disgust with the UN's role.
The peacekeepers are often derided with the nickname SERBPROFOR, reflecting the
widespread view that UNPROFOR has become a buffer between Croatian and Serbian
forces and hence protects Serbian conquests. The Croatian media have long
expressed the fear that the country will become "another Cyprus," with UN
forces originally sent to promote a ceasefire eventually ensuring the partition
of the area. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
The Washington Post on 13 January writes that
Contact Group negotiators held talks with Bosnian government leaders in
Sarajevo the previous day and are now off to visit the rebel Serbs in Pale.
Bosnian government officials told the diplomats that they will allow no changes
in the peace plan that Sarajevo accepted in July. Prime Minister Haris
Silajdzic nonetheless seemed to take at face value a British statement that the
delegation "sticks to the Contact Group plan" and added that "it is now clear
that the Contact Group never shifted its position." But this may be an exercise
by Sarajevo to forestall expected diplomatic concessions to Pale by the
international negotiators. The German agency dpa on 12 January reported an
increase in the fighting around Bihac, while AFP said that the Serbs in the
Livno area are using Croats and Muslims as human shields. The French agency
also reported on threats by the Bosnian army against UNPROFOR at Tuzla airport,
apparently over the presence of a Serbian liaison officer there. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA DENIES INTENTION TO COMPENSATE HUNGARY.
The Romanian Environment
Ministry on 12 January denied that Romania plans to compensate Hungary for
damage caused when oil spilled into the Hungarian part of the Barcau River at
the end of December, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. The ministry issued
a statement denying a report by Radio Budapest maintaining that Romania had
agreed to pay compensation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 January). The
statement says Romania's environmental protection agreement with Hungary does
not require compensation for such damage. It notes that Romania has fulfilled
all its obligations under the agreement and eliminated the effects of the
spill. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA READY TO SEND PEACEKEEPING TROOPS TO ANGOLA.
Defense Ministry, in a press release carried by Radio Bucharest on 12 January,
confirmed that the UN has asked Romania if it is ready to send peacekeeping
troops to Angola and that Romania has responded it is ready "in principle." The
ministry said the decision to send troops will be taken once the UN officially
asks for Romania to participate in the operation. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI,
ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF TRYING TO CONTROL MEDIA.
The Movement of
Civic Alliance has accused the Romanian government of trying to control the
broadcast media by blocking reforms of public radio and television, Reuters
reported on 11 January. The MCA pointed to a five-month delay in appointing a
new management board for Romanian Television and Radio. The state-owned
broadcast media became public institutions subordinated to the parliament under
legislation that took effect in June 1994, but no administrators have been
appointed to date. The Media Commission of the Chamber of Deputies in late 1994
rejected the candidacy of prominent intellectuals put forward by the broadcast
unions. The MCA accused the Party of Social Democracy in Romania of promoting
its own nominees, who, it claimed, are "politically subservient." -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
NEW BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT OPENS, ELECTS CHAIRMAN.
At the first session of
the new Bulgarian parliament on 12 January, Blagovest Sendov, a mathematician
affiliated with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, was elected parliament chairman,
international news agencies reported. Sendov received 138 votes and Aleksandar
Dzherov of the People's Union 55; no fewer than 42 deputies abstained. Sendov
was a deputy during the communist era but not a member of the communist party.
The parliament's session was opened by the oldest deputy, Vladimir Abadzhiev of
the Union of Democratic Forces. Abadzhiev said the new assembly has to "bring
about the economic recovery of the country and deal with unemployment, poverty,
and crime." President Zhelyu Zhelev's scheduled address to the legislators was
canceled because the election of the speaker took up most of the day. The 18
December elections gave the Socialists a majority of 125 seats in the 240-seat
parliament. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONS.
Server Pellumbi, deputy
leader of the Socialist Party, has called for new elections and said his party
will start the election campaign--not in a coalition, but on its own. But he
did not rule out the possibility of forming a coalition later with another
party. It is still unclear when the next elections will be, but Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 13 January that all opposition parties have called
for an early ballot. President Sali Berisha, whose term ends in April 1997, has
nonetheless ruled out early elections. Meanwhile, Albanian Ambassador to
Washington Lublim Dilja signed a treaty with the US government regulating
bilateral investments, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 13 January. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Jan Cleave