BATTLE FOR GROZNY CONTINUES.
The Russian government press service
characterized the situation in Grozny on 16 January as "tense," with Chechen
forces continuing fierce resistance to Russian troops attempting to advance on
the presidential palace. Western agencies cited unconfirmed claims by Chechen
officials that Chechen fighters had succeeded in retaking some ground. Chechen
forces were also said to be re-entrenching and concentrating artillery and
armored vehicles along the Chelmuga-Bamut-Arshty road southwest of Grozny and
at other locations in the south. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 16
January, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official stated that at present
Moscow considers the dispatch to Chechnya of an OSCE representative to be
premature, although he did not exclude OSCE involvement in a settlement of the
conflict at some future stage, Interfax reported. He also conceded that
developments in Chechnya could delay Russia's admission to the Council of
Europe. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
CHERNOMYRDIN PROPOSES CEASE-FIRE, NEGOTIATIONS.
On 16 January Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin proposed a cease-fire and immediate negotiations
with Chechen separatists, subject to strict conditions, AFP reported.
Chernomyrdin offered to hold talks on freezing troop deployments in Chechnya,
calling off the use of tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons, and setting up
no-fighting zones where weapons could be stockpiled, but stipulated that peace
could only come after the Chechens had laid down their arms, something they
have so far refused to do. Chernomyrdin also called for talks on Chechnya's
future with a view to setting up a transitional government. However, the
negotiators face the difficult task of finding a leader acceptable to both
sides. Also on 16 January, a Chechen delegation headed by Economy Minister
Teimuraz Abubakarov with negotiating authority from President Dzhokhar Dudaev
arrived in Moscow for talks with Chernomyrdin, AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung,
KOZYREV, CHRISTOPHER TO PREPARE FOR MOSCOW SUMMIT?
At their meeting in
Geneva on 17-18 January, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and US
Secretary of State Warren Christopher will discuss preparations for the May
Russian-American summit in Moscow, as proposed by Russian President Boris
Yeltsin, Interfax reported on 16 January, quoting a senior Russian Foreign
Ministry official. The US Administration has not yet responded to Yeltsin's
invitation. The official stressed that the Geneva meeting was not "on Chechnya
or for it," but that the issue would be discussed. "We do not deny that the
human rights aspect of this problem concerns not only Russia," he underlined.
Kozyrev and Christopher will also review understandings reached by Yeltsin and
US President Clinton last September, the expansion of NATO, creating a new
system for European security, and nuclear non-proliferation. In a related
development, Yeltsin has canceled his trip to Davos at the end of January to
address the participants of an international economic forum there in light of
events in Chechnya, Vremya reported 16 January, quoting Yeltsin's aide
for international affairs, Dmitrii Ryurikov. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
TATARSTAN CONCERNED ABOUT RYBKIN STATEMENT.
Mintimer Shaimiev expressed concern over the implications of a statement by
Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin on Tatarstan's autonomy within the Russian Federation,
Interfax reported on 13 January. Rybkin had said on 9 January that "gangster
groups on Russian territory, no matter whether in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan,
Volgograd, Leningrad or Voronezh regions will be dealt with at this time."
Shaimiev interpreted this statement as signaling a crackdown on Tatarstan,
which has negotiated a bilateral treaty determining its status within Russia.
Shaimiev expressed regret that Rybkin did not understand Tatarstan's role in
building a genuinely democratic federation based on harmony and respect between
the peoples of Russia. Rybkin said he did not intend to single out Tatarstan in
saying that people who violated the law would be prosecuted and expressed the
hope for "full understanding." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
GAIDAR SAYS YELTSIN HAS NO CHANCE OF BEING RE-ELECTED.
Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, on a visit to Prague, said in an interview with
Rude Pravo on 17 January that President Boris Yeltsin has no chance of
being re-elected. The conflict in Chechnya has changed both Russia's
international standing and its domestic political situation, with the
government and president now receiving their most active support from radical
nationalist parties and being most strongly opposed by liberal groups, he said.
Gaidar added, however, that Russia remains a democratic state. "We have a free
press--for the time being. Up to now, the elected organs of power are
functioning and I believe that this state of affairs can be preserved," he
said. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN TO LEAVE MEDIA ALONE.
Sergei Filatov, the head of the
presidential staff, said that Yeltsin does not plan any new initiatives to
reorganize Russian TV, Interfax reported 16 January. Filatov said that the
December decrees establishing the independent NTV and Ostankino had not yet
been fully implemented, and that Yeltsin had emphasized that it was time to
give the media a chance to work normally. Filatov said that the Chechen crisis
was a trial of "our ability to maintain democracy." He noted that some
observers accused journalists of twisting the facts in their reporting, while
others felt that the media had declared war on the government. In this
connection, he said that although there were calls to muzzle the press and
television, it must be understood that such a policy would undermine trust in
the new Russia. Filatov called for tolerance in relation to the media. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
FINANCE MINISTER JOINS SECURITY COUNCIL.
President Yeltsin appointed
Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov to the Security Council, a presidential
spokesman told AFP on 16 January. Panskov, who has been in his current post for
less than three months, has asserted on several occasions in the past few weeks
that the war in Chechnya would not affect Russia's austerity budget. His
estimates of the costs have been lower than those of most other experts. The
Council has been the top decision-making body in the Chechen conflict. Yeltsin
recently appointed both parliamentary leaders to its ranks. -- Robert Orttung,
RUSSIAN UNHAPPY WITH PLANNED US WEAPONS TEST.
A senior Russian Foreign
Ministry official was quoted by Interfax on 16 January as saying that an
upcoming U.S. test of a tactical anti-ballistic missile was a "very untimely
step." American and Russian negotiators have been trying for some time--without
success--to agree on the differences between tactical and strategic
anti-ballistic missile weapons so that testing of the former would not conflict
with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. The official also complained
that the Americans officially notified Russia of the test only after the
information had been leaked to the American press. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
VOROBYOV QUESTIONING CONFIRMED.
General Alexei Ilyushenko, Russia's
acting prosecutor-general, told a press conference on 16 January that military
prosecutors had interviewed Colonel-General Eduard Vorobyov in connection with
the latter's refusal to take command of the operations in Chechnya. According
to Interfax, Ilyushenko indicated other officers and servicemen were also being
investigated. He said that no criminal proceedings had yet been started, adding
that his office did not distinguish "between a private, a general, and a deputy
defense minister." Military sources told Interfax that Vorobyov could not be
prosecuted because he had only been offered the Chechnya post, not ordered
there. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
RUBLE FALLS 41 POINTS IN TRADING.
The ruble continued to skid against
the dollar, falling 41 points and closing at 3,817 rubles to $1 in MICEX
trading on 16 January. Since 12 January, the ruble has fallen 60 points against
the US dollar. According to Interfax on 16 January, the difference between
demand and supply stood at $36 million. Dealers reported that the Russian Bank
sold about $55 million. Meanwhile Minister of Economics Yevgenii Yasin told
Interfax on 16 January that he does not envisage a repeat of "Black Tuesday" (
11 October, 1994), when the ruble crashed against the dollar. Yasin said that
the threat of another crash had been more real a few months ago when prices
were rising faster than the ruble. He said that recently money supply has been
growing far more slowly than prices, and if this trend continues, inflationary
fears will disappear in three to four months. Yasin said that the ministry
plans to continue with stringent monetary policy and to stabilize the ruble as
long as prices level off, rather than prop up the ruble by the Central Bank's
currency interventions. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
INSOLVENT ENTERPRISES ON RISE.
Over 1,200 Russian enterprises in which
the state holds over a 25% stake have been declared insolvent, Interfax
reported on 16 January. The Federal Insolvency Administration said that the
total debt of these enterprises, which have a work force of 2 million, has
reached nearly 11 trillion rubles ($2.89 billion). Most seriously affected are
energy producing industries and agriculture processing plants. According to the
report, the number of insolvent public enterprises is increasing: last month
Russia had 1,100 insolvent public enterprises, but today more than 4,500 are
likely to be declared insolvent. The Administration has already ordered 150
public enterprises to go into receivership. In 1994 Russia's arbitration courts
handled 102 insolvency cases. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA
SOME KAZAKH MINERS RESUME WORK.
Miners at Kazakhstan's Ekibastuz coal
field returned to work on 15 January following government promises to pay back
wages through last November, Interfax reported on 16 January. In Karaganda,
however, miners are continuing the strike begun on 13 January and holding out
for payment of wages from October, 1994. Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan
Kazhegeldin held talks with coal ministry officials and trade union leaders
from both Ekibastuz and Karaganda on 16 January. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
AKAEV CALLS FOR MEDIA SELF-CENSORSHIP.
While stressing that he has no
intention of exerting pressure on the opposition press, Kyrgyz President Askar
Akaev has called upon the country's journalists to "tone down" their writings,
to refrain from expressing either extreme right-wing or extreme left-wing
views, and to be "balanced" in their criticism of the country's leadership,
according to Interfax of 16 January quoting presidential press service chief
Kamil Bayalinov. Akaev rejected proposals for submitting a new law on the media
to parliament as an attempt to reinstate censorship, arguing that the existing
legislation "provides sufficient democratic potential for the media." -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
KAZAKH-RUSSIAN-OMAN PROTOCOL SIGNED.
Caspian Pipeline Consortium members
Kazakhstan, Russia, and Oman have signed a protocol on the start of the first
stage of a $1.2 billion project to lay a Caspian pipeline network, Interfax
reported on 16 January. Oman and Kazakhstan each control 33% of the shares in
the project, and Russia--34%. On 12 January the Journal of Commerce
reported that the Russian government had issued a decree nominating the
Tengiz-Astrakhan-Grozny oil pipeline, which is currently out of commission, as
Russia's contribution to the CPC. The pipeline has a projected capacity of 62
million metric tons per year, or 452.6 million barrels; transit costs will be
$3.25 a barrel for CPC founders and $3.5 a barrel for other users for
deliveries of more than 750 kms. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
CONFLICT AT TOP CONTINUES IN POLAND.
During a half-hour meeting on 16
January described by a spokesman as "icy," President Lech Walesa repeatedly
expressed his concern to Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak that vacancies in the
defense and foreign ministries were promoting the "growing destabilization of
the state," Radio Warsaw reports. Pawlak disagreed. He acknowledged that the
government has "personnel problems" to overcome, but denied that consensus on
foreign and security policy is threatened. The president rejected the
coalition's latest candidate for defense minister, Longin Pastusiak, a
political scientist and expert on the US who had long represented the communist
establishment. Pastusiak's appointment, the spokesman said, would be a "slap in
the face" for one of Poland's closest allies. Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign
Minister Iwo Byczewski, who was expected to serve as acting minister until a
replacement for Andrzej Olechowski could be found, announced his resignation on
16 January. Gazeta Wyborcza reports that at least a dozen diplomats and
several department heads plan to leave the ministry as well. -- Louisa Vinton,
POLISH PARTIES DEBATE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES.
Meeting on 14 January,
nine of Poland's 10 largest right-wing parties agreed to support a common
candidate in the presidential election expected in November. No candidate was
chosen, however, and debate on a shared "minimum program" revealed deep
divisions over foreign policy priorities (including EU and NATO membership) and
possible election alliances. Most delegates ruled out any cooperation with the
largest parliamentary opposition party, the Freedom Union (UW), effectively
scuttling any chance for a united "post-Solidarity" front. Solidarity leader
Marian Krzaklewski urged "all patriotic forces" to support the union's draft
constitution, and hinted that this was a precondition for Solidarity's
endorsement in the elections. The UW leadership on 15 January agreed to hold
straw polls within the party before choosing a candidate at an April congress,
Rzeczpospolita reports. The party's left wing supports former Labor
Minister Jacek Kuron, while the right wing backs former Prime Minister Hanna
Suchocka. UW chairman Tadeusz Mazowiecki ruled out his own candidacy. -- Louisa
Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIA'S PRE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
The Pro-Patria and Estonian National
Independence Party Union at a conference on 15 January announced the top dozen
names on their election list, BNS reported on 16 January. It includes eight
Pro-Patria and four ENIP members headed by chairmen Mart Laar and Tunne Kelam,
respectively. The union will campaign under the slogan "Fire Will Not Go Out,"
indicating their platform of continuing the current reforms. The People's Party
of Republicans and Conservatives, commonly known as the Rightists, held a
pre-election conference in Tallinn on 14 January at which various speakers
outlined the domestic, economic, foreign, and defense policies the party's
candidates will support if elected. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
HEAD OF LITHUANIA'S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH DIES.
Kalvanas died over the weekend at the age of 80, BNS reported on 16 January. He
will be buried on 18 January in the town of Taurage. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
LUKASHENKA IN CHINA.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived
in China on 16 January for a three-day visit, Belarusian Radio reported.
Lukashenka is to meet with President Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister Li Peng and
other officials. During the visit, it is expected that agreements on
cooperation, air links and dual taxation will be signed. The two sides will
also discuss cooperation in education, science and cultural affairs. Trade
between China and Belarus stands at some $46 million annually. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL ON DECEMBER CENSORSHIP.
Prosecutor General, Vasil Shaladonau, told reporters on 13 January that the
censorship imposed on newspapers in December violated citizens' rights to
information, Belarusian television reported. Following a sensational report in
parliament, which alleged that a number of officials in the president's
administration engaged in corrupt practices, the republic's newspapers were
banned from printing accounts of the session and several independent newspapers
were banned from publishing altogether. The censorship provoked an outcry from
the opposition and journalists and led to the resignation of the head of the
president's policy center, Alyaksandr Feduta. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE APPOINTS NEW AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA.
Ukrainian Television reported
on 16 January that Ukraine has appointed a new ambassador to Russia. Volodymyr
Fedorov, a Russian who was a deputy to the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet in 1990 and
served as a representative of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers in Russia from
1991 to 1992, was selected. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
KUCHMA DENOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR NEW POLITICAL UNION.
Leonid Kuchma has severely criticized the organizers of a campaign, currently
gathering signatures for a petition to hold a referendum on the creation of a
new political, economic, and military union with Russia, Belarus, and
Kazakhstan, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16 January. While visiting a military
unit in the Chernihiv region, Kuchma told reporters that such a union would "do
no one any good, including Ukraine," and warned organizers that as recently
elected president of an independent Ukraine he would not allow anyone to "rock
the boat we are in" and would do his utmost to strengthen its independence.
Leftist political forces, including the Communist Party of Ukraine, have led
the petition drive, mainly in the russified regions in eastern Ukraine, spurred
on by similar movements in other former Soviet republics still displeased with
the dissolution of the old union. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
REACTOR AT KHMELNYTSKY NUCLEAR PLANT SHUT DOWN AFTER MISHAP.
emergency stoppage system in the first reactor of the Khmelnytsky nuclear power
station was activated early on 16 January after three main circulating pumps
were disconnected from the mains due to a failure of the power supply of the
transducers, the Ukrainian State Committee for Atomic Energy told
Interfax-Ukraine on the same day. Serhiy Nazarenko, an agency official, said
there had been no increase in radiation levels at the plant, but the reasons
for the accident are under investigation. The reactor was scheduled shortly to
be shut down for repairs and maintenance of its control and safety systems, he
said. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
CRIMEAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES WAR ON ORGANIZED CRIME.
Yurii Meshkov told a rally in Simferopol on 15 January that the power struggle
between himself and the Crimean Parliament that stripped him of most of his
authority last autumn has left a dangerous power vacuum in the region that has
been exploited by local organized crime groups, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 16
January. Meshkov promised radical changes in the regional management system as
well as tough measures against organized crime, referring to a recent poll of
Crimeans that revealed some 58% of them believe the "mafia" is in charge in
this autonomous region of Ukraine. He blamed local law enforcement for
"inaction" against growing crime and said the Crimean Parliament has
disregarded the will of the people by curbing the powers of their
popularly-elected president. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH GOVERNING PARTIES REMAIN AT ODDS.
The leaders of the four parties
in the Czech governing coalition met on 16 January but remained divided over
whether the state counter-intelligence service BIS has been collecting
information illegally on political parties, Czech media report. Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus said he was not convinced by the evidence presented by Deputy
Premier Jan Kalvoda, leader of the Civic Democratic Alliance. As prime
minister, Klaus is responsible for BIS, which is headed by a nominee of his
Civic Democratic Party. Kalvoda and other CDA leaders have said confidential
documents and the party's database of members went missing or were stolen from
a party official's car before last November's local elections. Christian
Democratic Union leader Josef Lux, another deputy premier, also repeated
charges that BIS has spied on his party. The party leaders, increasingly at
odds in recent months, refused to comment on the tone of their meeting but
agreed that a parliament commission should investigate the accusations. Kalvoda
and Lux later informed President Vaclav Havel of their charges; Havel's
spokesman said the president took the situation seriously and found the two
deputy premiers' concerns convincing. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
VISEGRAD FOUR TO HAVE UNIFIED AIR DEFENSE.
Central Europe Today reported
on 16 January that the four Visegrad countries--the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Poland, and Slovakia--have agreed to a Pentagon proposal for the establishment
of a unified air defense and air traffic control system. The radio said that
the Regional Airspace Initiative was approved by senior defense and transport
ministry officials from the four nations at a meeting in Trencin, Slovakia. The
Pentagon is said to have pledged up to $25 million to the project. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARY AND THE EUROPEAN UNION.
During an official visit to Hungary on
16 January, EU President and French Minister for European Affairs Alain
Lamassoure said that Hungary is the most prepared of the countries seeking full
EU membership but still needs to reform its economy substantially and establish
good relations with countries with Hungarian minorities, MTI reports. He
offered France's and the EU's help in resolving differences of opinion between
Hungary and its neighbors over the exercise of minority rights, an issue which
has delayed the signing of bilateral treaties with Slovakia and Romania.
Lamassoure reiterated that the EU will not accept members who cannot solve
their problems with their neighbors. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN AGRICULTURAL OUTPUT IMPROVES.
Hungarian Agricultural Minister
Laszlo Lakos told a press conference on 16 January that after years of decline
Hungarian agriculture is on the way to recovery, MTI reports. He noted that
agricultural production increased by 5%, exports by 15%, and producer prices
rose by 30% compared to the same period last year. Lakos said that the
agricultural sector received 80 billion forint from the central budget in 1995
compared to 57 billion forint in 1994, and that the increased subsidies will be
used mainly to support food exports and to supply agricultural machinery. --
Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
MORE HEADACHES FOR THE UN IN BOSNIA.
A number of developments continue
to undermine the shaky cease-fire that came into force at the start of the
year. First is further shelling of the Bihac area, about which one news agency
wrote on 15 January: "it was not clear which sides were fighting." A second
issue is the presence of what the ceasefire agreement calls "foreign forces, "
namely those of the Krajina Serbs and of the Croatian army. AFP on 16 January
quotes UNPROFOR as calling for the Croatian military to leave Bosnia and
Herzegovina, where they are active on the Livno and Kupres fronts with Bosnian
Croat forces. A third problem is the discovery by the UN of at least 50 Bosnian
government soldiers in three different places in Mt. Igman's demilitarized
zone, from which they were supposed to be gone. A fourth concern is the
continued Serb blockade of supply routes into Sarajevo, which they were
expected to reopen last weekend. Reuters on 17 January said that the Serbs
"sabotaged an accord... by demanding the roads be used only by eight foreign
relief agencies that do not need them." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
MORE REACTIONS TO CROATIAN DECISION ON UNPROFOR.
While the Croatian
authorities continue their intensive campaign to mobilize domestic support for
President Franjo Tudjman's decision to end UNPROFOR's mandate on 31 March, UN
Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was quoted by news agencies on 16
January as saying he hopes that Zagreb will change its mind and let the
peacekeepers stay. He expressed the fear that governments might not only
withdraw their forces from Croatia but from other parts of the former
Yugoslavia as well. Boutros-Ghali also referred to the "practical and financial
aspects" of a UN pull-out. Tudjman offered to let the UN, whose presence means
big income for Croatia, keep its headquarters in Zagreb. Reuters wrote on 13
September, however, that a new location is under consideration by the world
body. "Among the choices are Sarajevo, which some object to for safety reasons,
or perhaps even the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana." Boutros-Ghali also said on
16 January that he fears the Croatian decision will lead to a renewal in the
fighting. Similar concerns were expressed by the rump Yugoslav Prime Minister
Radoje Kontic, Tanjug said, and by the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA, which
claimed that Zagreb is already planning a new war. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
MONTENEGRO IN 1994, SERBIA TODAY.
Independent Borba on 17 January
reports on economic conditions in Montenegro in 1994, suggesting that some
indicators were far from positive. It said industrial production in the rump
Yugoslav republic fell by some 27.5% over 1993. Moreover, out of some 30
"industrial branches" only 11 reported increased output over the previous year.
In other news, independent Borba also continues its coverage of the
plight of rump Yugoslavia's independent media, chafing under Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic's continuing efforts to silence them. Politika
reports on 17 January that the independent weekly Vreme will go on sale
in the rump Yugoslavia again that same day, after being temporarily kept off
the market due to a newsprint shortage. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIA OFFERS INTEREST-FREE CREDITS FOR SETTLERS IN KOSOVO.
government is offering interest-free credits for building houses or buying
flats to citizens of Serbia who left Kosovo and want to return. The credits are
valid for a period of 40 years and are also offered to specialists who want to
move to Kosovo, the independent Borba reported on 17 January. The goal
is to settle about 100,000 ethnic Serbs and Montenegrins in the mainly ethnic
Albanian region, which has an estimated population of two million. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ILIESCU ON ROMANIA'S SECURITY.
President Ion Iliescu and Defense
Minister Gheorghe Tinca on 16 January attended the opening ceremony of the new
academic year at the National Defense College. In his address broadcast live by
Radio Bucharest, Iliescu praised Romania's progress towards European
integration in 1994, a year he described as "Romania's Euro-Atlantic year." He
singled out former Yugoslavia as a "major source of insecurity" for Romania,
and expressed concern over the situation in some regions of the former Soviet
Union, including the eastern part of the neighboring Republic of Moldova. While
not specifically mentioning the conflict in Chechnya, Iliescu warned against
the reemergence of "imperial tendencies in Russia's policy" which, he said,
could hamper the restructuring of Europe's security system and have a direct
impact on Romania's security. The National Defense College is an institution
training army officers and security experts in post-graduate defense studies.
-- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN CHILD WITH AIDS SUES HEALTH MINISTRY.
The Romanian Health
Ministry has been sued for the first time by a child who contracted AIDS in
hospital, Rompres reported on 15 January. The 10-year-old girl probably
contracted the AIDS virus in 1991 when hospitalized in the town of Iasi. She
was diagnosed as having AIDS two years later. The hospital is also being sued,
the agency says. According to statistics published last September, Romania has
2,905 registered cases of AIDS. The overwhelming majority (2,695) are children
aged less than 13 years. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
A Council of Europe delegation will
recommend that Moldova be admitted to the organization in the near future,
Interfax reported on 15 January. The delegation concluded a four-day visit to
Moldova aimed at assessing the country's compliance with council standards,
especially in the field of human rights and freedoms. Asked about the possible
influence of the conflict in the Dniestr region on Moldova's application, Lord
Finsberg, a member of the team, replied euphemistically that the situation in
the separatist region would be described as "a museum of communism." Moldova is
among several Soviet republics expected to be admitted to the Strasbourg-based
Council of Europe this year. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ZHELEV MEETS WITH PARTY LEADERS.
Zhelyu Zhelev met
with the leaders of the parties represented in parliament on 16 January,
Standart reported the following day. These political consultations took
place according to the constitution in order to find a candidate for the post
of prime minister. On 17 January Zhelev will ask Socialist Party leader Zhan
Videnov to form a government, which must then be presented within seven days.
The socialist newspaper Duma reported on 17 January that the new cabinet
will be presented on 20 January. Most opposition parties' leaders said they
will not support the new government. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN INTEREST RATE GOING DOWN IN FEBRUARY?
The Bulgarian National
Bank is prepared to lower the prime interest rate in February, Trud and
Standart reported on 17 January, citing BNB officials. Trud
stated that this is the result of positive figures for January's inflation. BNB
executives fear, however, that there is a risk of declining reserves in foreign
currency if a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund is not
concluded soon. In this case the reserves might drop to $200 million by the end
of 1995. IMF officials will visit Sofia for negotiations after the formation of
a new government, Standart reported. During their last visit in November
1994 they insisted that Bulgaria should fight inflation even at the price of
fixing exchange rates, the article said. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Liz Fuller and Steve Kettle