YELSTIN RULES OUT TALKS WITH DUDAEV. Speaking at the Kremlin after the formal
presentation of credentials by new ambassadors on 18 January, Russian President
Boris Yeltsin affirmed, in a clear attempt to preclude further Western
speculation that he is no longer in control, that he is closely monitoring the
situation in Chechnya and that no decisions of substance were taken without his
knowledge, Interfax and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin further ruled out
any negotiations with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, given that he
"unleashed a campaign of genocide against his own people," but said that the
Russian government was prepared to conduct talks with Chechen military and clan
leaders. Ingush President Ruslan Aushev, however, was quoted by
Komsomolskaya pravda on 18 January as arguing that Russia will have to
negotiate with Dudaev since "he has the support of his people." The proposed
cease-fire tentatively agreed to during informal talks in Moscow on 17 January
between Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and two senior Chechen
government officials failed to take effect as planned on 18 January. AFP
reported that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai accused the two
Chechen officials of duplicity and charged that they had made no attempt to
travel to Grozny to brief Dudaev, while the Chechen officials told journalists
in the Ingush capital of Nazran that the Russian commanders with whom they had
intended to liaise had failed to make contact, according to the Los Angeles
Times of 19 January. Meanwhile, heavy Russian aerial bombardment and street
fighting in Grozny continued on 18 January. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV, CHRISTOPHER FINISH TALKS. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher and
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev signaled a warming of US-Russian
relations after two days of talks in Geneva. "There will be no cold peace and
the partnership between Russia and the United States will be preserved and
strengthened," Kozyrev told journalists on 18 January, Interfax reported.
Christopher told a news conference at the end of the two days of meetings, "I
can only repeat what President Clinton said, . . . that he intends to press for
aid to Russia," AFP reported. Some difficulties remained, however. The
diplomats did not set a date for a presidential summit, but Kozyrev said that
Clinton and Yeltsin will work out a time to meet later. Christopher warned that
the Chechen war was exacting too high a price for Russia both at home and
abroad, The New York Times reported 19 January. Christopher softened
earlier comments that Russian democracy was at risk due to a falling out
between Yeltsin and the pro-democracy politicians, saying that such disputes
are normal. Kozyrev rejected allegations that Yeltsin had fallen captive to
hard-line advisors and is creating an authoritarian government. Kozyrev said
Yeltsin "is the main reformer who was elected by the people," and said he saw
no alternative leader who could replace him. He expressed concern that some
officials in the US Congress wanted to delay ratification of the START-2
treaty, which hasn't been ratified by either Russia or the US. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
WHAT ROLE FOR OSCE IN CHECHNYA? Interfax of 17 January quoted Russian Foreign
Ministry official Mark Entin as ruling out any OSCE involvement in mediating a
settlement of the Chechen conflict, which he termed "Russia's internal affair,"
but conceded that the organization could help resolve "humanitarian and legal"
aspects of the crisis. Chairman of the State Duma committee for International
Affairs, Vladimir Lukin, told Interfax after talks with OSCE emissary Istvan
Gyarmati that the proposal to deploy OSCE observers in Chechnya is "legal and
sound." Speaking at a press conference in Bonn on 18 January, Gyarmati said
that he would head an OSCE delegation including diplomats and military experts
that will travel to Moscow on 21 January and then to Chechnya on 24 January to
gather information prior to beginning work with the Russian government on
possible peaceful solutions to the Chechen crisis, AFP reported on 18 January.
Gyarmati advocated free elections in Chechnya after which the republic's status
within the Russian Federation should be "defined in a generous manner." -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
MORE THAN 1,000 RUSSIANS KILLED? While Interfax on 16 January reported a
semi-official count of 505 Russian soldiers killed and 1,860 wounded in
Chechnya, its correspondent in Mozdok said that some 1,160 servicemen had been
killed in the conflict. He based his count on a tally of the bodies sent to
Mozdok aboard what the soldiers grimly call "black tulips"--a term that
originated during the war in Afghanistan to describe helicopters used to
transport those killed in action. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
"NO CONNECTION" BETWEEN EVENTS IN CHECHNYA AND OIL PIPELINE. Interfax on 18
January quoted an unidentified official from Transneft (the Russian agency
responsible for oil export pipelines) as denying any connection between the
Russian military intervention in Chechnya and the planned construction of a
Caspian pipeline linking the Tengiz oil and gas fields in western Kazakhstan
with the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. Numerous Western analysts have
hypothesized over the past few weeks that the Russian desire to establish firm
control in Chechnya was largely motivated by economic considerations. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
PRESS FREEDOMS VIOLATED. Oleg Panfilov, an official with the Russian Fund for
Freedom of Information, reported 97 violations of the civil and professional
rights of journalists since the beginning of the Chechen conflict, Interfax
reported 18 January. He listed cases of journalists being detained without
explanation, threatened with bodily harm, and deprived of their equipment. The
Fund is a public organization that seeks to publicize violations of
journalists' rights. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
"TEMPORARY CENSORSHIP" ON RUSSIAN TV. According to Interfax, the makers of the
popular TV program "Sovershenno Sekretno" (Top Secret), held a news conference
on 16 January in the Moscow House of Journalists on the four-day suspension of
the last edition of "Sovershenno Sekretno." Scheduled to be broadcast by
Russian Televison on 14 January, the program had been advertised in the liberal
media well in advance. The program contains footage filmed from inside the
besieged presidential palace in Grozny on 7 January--i.e, the Russian Orthodox
Christmas. According to Novaya ezhednevnaya gazeta of 11 January, the
program shows a meeting of a Russian military doctor, held in the palace as a
POW, and his mother, who is a nurse. On 14 January, the RTV program announcer
told the audience that the program "was not ready" for broadcasting and will be
aired later. The temporary ban of the film is the second such instance with
"Sovershenno Sekretno" in less than three months. On 19 November, another
edition of the same program, about corruption among the military, was taken off
the air but broadcast a week later, following a stir of protests against
censorship in the media. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN TO ADDRESS PARLIAMENT. President Yeltsin will make his annual
presidential address to the Russian parliament 9 February, almost a month later
than the planned 11 January date, Interfax reported 17 January. No official
reason was given for the delay. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
SENATORS REJECT YELTSIN'S JUDGES, APPROVE OF LEBEDEV'S.
The Russian Constitutional Court will not resume its work in the near future
due to the repeated failure of Russia's upper house of parliament, the
Federation Council, to approve the last of the 19 judges who, according to the
constitution, must be on the Constitutional Court before it may function.
According to Russian television newscasts, Yeltsin's second attempt to nominate
Robert Tsivilev, an aide to Yeltsin administration chief Sergei Filatov, was
rejected by the senators on 17 January. Tsivilev received only 60 of the 90
votes necessary for approval. Filatov's attempt to interfere into the matter
personally, in the form of an address to the Federation Council on behalf of
Tsivilev, proved counterproductive. In the first vote, taken just a few weeks
ago, Tsivilev lacked only a few votes to gain election as the 19th
Constitutional Court judge. Later that day, the senators rejected both of
Yeltsin's nominees for positions on the Russian Supreme Court. Both candidates,
their critics argued, lack the necessary experience as judges. On the another
hand, the Federation Council approved all five judges recommended by V.
Lebedev, the chairman of the Supreme Court, for membership in its presidium. --
Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
FOREIGN DEBT IN '95 COULD REACH $130 BILLION. Speaking at a special commission
on social and economic problems at the presidential office on 17 January,
Minister of Economics Evgenii Yasin said that Russia's foreign debt may grow to
$130 billion this year, Interfax reported. Yasin said that Russia had to borrow
more money to tame inflation, achieve economic stability and help the people
adjust to changing living conditions. Yasin stated that the USSR's foreign debt
grew from $25 to 30 billion in 1985 to $80 billion in 1991. According to the
Ministry of Finance, Russia's debt at the beginning of 1994, inclusive of debts
of the former USSR and credits extended to Russia since 1992, totaled $112.8
billion. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
IMF BEGINS TALKS WITH RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. Crucial talks began between IMF
delegates and Russian officials on 18 January to determine whether the IMF will
grant Russia a $6 billion loan, Western and Russian agencies reported. Russia
is counting on receiving total loans of $15 billion from Western sources, or
10% of its budget, to boost economic reform plans. In light of the political
and economic implications of the war in Chechnya, the uncertainty of Russia
sticking to its 1995 draft budget and the country's general ability to carry
out market reforms, the IMF is expected to assess various factors and attach
stringent conditions to the loan. If granted, the loan would be made in
quarterly installments based on Moscow's progress in meeting budget targets and
moving toward a market economy. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
WORK STOPS AT ZIL CAR FIRM. Zil, formerly one of Russia's largest industrial
enterprises, temporarily shut down on 17 January owing to a shortage of cash to
buy parts, agencies reported. Zil Director Valerii Saikin said the plant, which
owes $110 million to the state and suppliers, needs $260 million to get over
the crisis, but he was not optimistic that credits would be forthcoming. In
1994 Zil was forced to cut production by half and put employees on a four-day
work week. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERATION COUNCIL RENEWS RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS' MANDATE IN ABKHAZIA. The
Federation Council approved on 18 January by a vote of 129-3, with one
abstention, to renew until 15 May 1995 the mandate of the 3,000 Russian
peacekeeping troops deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of
Georgia, Interfax reported. The Russian peacekeepers were dispatched to
Abkhazia for an initial period of six months in June, 1994. In an interview in
Krasnaya Zvezda on 12 January, the commander of Russian peacekeeping
forces, Lt.-Gen. Vasilii Yakushev, positively assessed his troops'
contribution, but argued that other CIS states should also provide a
contingent. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
TURKMEN-UKRAINIAN GAS AGREEMENT INITIALED. Interfax reported on 18 January that
Ukraine and Turkmenistan have initialed an agreement on gas supplies from
Turkmenistan to Ukraine. Under the terms of the agreement, Turkmenistan will
supply Ukraine with 11 billion cubic meters of gas in 1995 for $50-60 per 1,000
cubic meters. Ukraine will pay for 40% of these supplies in hard currency and
the rest will be covered by manufactured goods and commodities including meat,
butter, wheat and sugar. A protocol on the schedule for Ukraine to repay its
debt for deliveries from 1994 is still being prepared. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
KUCHMA'S CHIEF OF STAFF BLASTS OPPONENTS OF BILL ON DIVISION OF POWERS.
President Leonid Kuchma's chief of staff, Dmytro Tabachnyk, attacked a 16
January meeting of regional and local council chairmen for what he called a
deliberate effort to turn public opinion against a draft constitutional law on
the separation of powers proposed by the president, Radio Ukraine reported on
18 January. The bill, which received preliminary approval from the parliament
in December, would centralize many powers in the president's hands and limit
those of national and local legislatures. Tabachnyk said the chairmen of the
local soviets, as well as many deputies from the national parliament who
participated in the meeting, were undermining public support for the bill. He
said the participants, who issued a resolution voicing opposition to the bill,
were driven by nostalgia and fear of the dissolution of the Soviet system of
government. The parliament is scheduled to debate and vote on the bill within
the next month. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT AVOIDS CONDEMNING RUSSIA ON CHECHNYA.
Reuters on 18
January reported that some deputies in Ukraine's legislature proposed that a
tough statement be issued condemning Russia's actions in Chechnya as a
violation of human rights. The statement asked that Russia cease all military
action immediately and begin talks with Chechen separatists. Other deputies
were concerned that such a statement would be interpreted as interference in
Russia's internal affairs and would prompt hard-liners in Russia to become
involved with separatists in Crimea. Parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz
removed the issue from the agenda, saying that it could be considered
interference in Russia's internal affairs. In the Crimean parliament in
Simferopol, deputy Oleksander Kruglov proposed issuing a statement lauding
Russia's actions in Chechnya as "the first decisive step by Russia to
strengthen its statehood and territorial integrity." The Crimean Tatars
objected to the statement, and more moderate deputies suggested toning it down.
The debate adjourned without a final decision. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE MAY SELL STRATEGIC BOMBERS TO RUSSIA.
At a meeting in Kiev on 18
January, a Russian military delegation and officials from the Ukrainian Defense
Ministry discussed the possibility of Ukraine selling to Russia some of the
TU-160 and STU-95 strategic bombers it inherited from the USSR, Ukrainian
Television reports. Russian experts, together with Ukrainian officials, are
expected to assess the condition and value of the aircraft. -- Ustina Markus,
ESTONIAN UNEMPLOYMENT ON THE RISE.
The Estonian Labor Department has
announced that on 1 January 1995, 12,670 people or 1.51% of the country's
working age population were officially registered as unemployed, BNS reported
on 18 January. This is a 4.36% increase over the previous month. The number of
people looking for work, including those not registered as unemployed, is
almost three times as high, at 34,270. The highest urban unemployment rates are
in Narva (3.98%) and Sillamae (3.61%), while the capital, Tallinn, has a very
low rate (0.26%). -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
DECLINE IN LATVIAN INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION IN 1994.
Latvia last year
produced industrial goods worth 903 million lati ($1.64 billion) in actual 1994
prices, BNS reported on 18 January citing the State Statistics Committee.
Production was down 9.3% on 1993 levels, with the volume of 78 of the 120 most
important production categories being reduced. But there were increases in
timber processing (30%), the extraction industry (12%), and the production of
transportation equipment (9%). The value of unsold goods was 66.2 million lati
or 74.6% of the total production in December. The largest stockpiles were to be
found in the food processing (10.8 million lati) and textile (7.5 million lati)
industries. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIA AND RUSSIA AGREE ON MILITARY TRANSIT.
The Lithuanian Foreign
Ministry on 18 January presented a note to its Russian counterpart extending
until the end of 1995 military transit regulations, established in an 18
November 1993 agreement, for Russian troops withdrawing from Germany, RFE/RL's
Lithuanian Service reports. The Russians responded by stating that the trade
agreement granting reciprocal most-favored-nation trade status has finally gone
into effect. Both sides made concessions to achieve the agreement, signed in
November 1993. Lithuania gave up its demand that all countries abide by its
regulations on dangerous and military cargoes due to go into effect on 1
January 1995. Russia, in turn, settled for an agreement and not a treaty on
military transit to and from Kaliningrad. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH PRESIDENT OFFERED OLIVE BRANCH OR BARBED WIRE?
Adopting a more
conciliatory stance toward President Lech Walesa, Prime Minister Waldemar
Pawlak on 18 January offered to hold negotiations without any preconditions and
officially withdrew the candidacy of Longin Pastusiak for defense minister. He
also requested that the president formally approve the dismissal of Foreign
Minister Andrzej Olechowski and announced that the coalition would present the
president with three nominees to head the Foreign Ministry. Pawlak stressed
that all three are specialists with no party affiliation. Their names will be
made public only after Walesa has been consulted, Radio Warsaw reports.
Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski described the
coalition's moves as an "olive branch" but restressed his party's rejection of
the president's candidate for defense minister, Zbigniew Wojciech Okonski.
Queried at a press conference about the coalition's moves, Walesa quipped that
Kwasniewski was more likely to approach him with "barbed wire" than an olive
branch and that even "a rose has thorns." The president nonetheless accepted
the offer of talks. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
HAVEL AND KLAUS DIFFER OVER TIMING OF CZECH EU APPLICATION.
Vaclav Havel believes the Czech Republic will apply for membership in the
European Union this year but Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus still thinks the
country will not be ready to apply until 1996, Czech media report on 19
January. Mlada Fronta Dnes quoted Havel as saying after talks with
Polish President Lech Walesa on 18 January that an official application will
probably be made this year, although the Czech Republic may be admitted first
to NATO and then to the EU because conditions for the former are not so strict.
Klaus did not exclude the possibility of applying to the EU this year but is in
favor of sticking to the government's original plan of asking for membership
before the 1996 EU summit. A government committee is due to begin work next
month on the arduous task of ensuring that Czech laws meet EU standards. --
Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK-AUSTRIAN CONFLICT OVER MOCHOVCE HEATS UP.
the construction of Slovakia's nuclear plant at Mochovce has recently soured
otherwise good relations between Slovakia and neighboring Austria, Slovak press
and Reuters report. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, in an 18 January
letter to Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, criticized the Austrian side for
"unilaterally" selecting the "place, time, and form" of discussion on the
subject. He said the management of Mochovce considers the meeting organized by
the Austrians on 23-24 January in Vienna as "inappropriate for achieving the
intended goal." Slovak and French construction firms working on the Mochovce
project have refused an invitation to attend the meeting, complaining it would
likely be turned into an antinuclear demonstration. Austrian Environment
Minister Maria Rauch-Kallat said it is "an unbelievable insult to Austria when
someone says that in our country we cannot hold a peaceful and matter-of-fact
discussion," Sme reports. She also noted the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development would have to extend the public hearing period
if the Slovak side refused to attend. One of the conditions for an EBRD loan
needed to complete the project is that studies on Mochovce be made available
for public review. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF GHETTO LIBERATION IN HUNGARY.
dignitaries braved freezing temperatures to commemorate the Red Army liberation
50 years ago of Budapest's ghetto, Western news agencies report. Hundreds
filled the Garden of Heroes behind the main synagogue, from where many Budapest
Jews were transported to death camps. The ghetto was set up in late 1944
following the German occupation of Hungary in March of that year. More than
600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in Nazi camps, while some 50,000 survived in
the ghetto. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
PROBLEMS CONTINUE FOR UN IN BOSNIA.
International media report on 19
January that a host of problems continue to dog the UN's attempts to reinforce
the shaky cease-fire in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Government forces fired on
Serbian forces near Donji Vakuf; a Serbian sniper seriously wounded a Sarajevo
teenager; and government forces were again spotted in the Mt. Igman
demilitarized zone. Supply roads remain closed and Sarajevo's gas supply is
precarious. In violation of the UN's no-fly zone over the embattled republic,
Krajina Serb helicopters on 18 January flew at least 20 supply missions to
Serbian forces around Bihac, the Los Angeles Times reported the next
day. Bosnian Serb gunners also reinforced their positions around the "safe
area" of Srebrenica. All these developments suggest that the current cease-fire
is regarded by both sides as little more than a breathing space before resuming
serious fighting in the spring. The New York Times concludes that the
international community has given up on military deterrents and that other
options have not worked. "Peace-making efforts . . . now lack direction, ideas,
or any momentum," the newspaper says. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
OTHER BOSNIAN NEWS.
The independent Borba on 19 January quotes US
ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright as outlining eight points that rump
Yugoslavia must clarify regarding its relations with the Bosnian Serbs. The
move is connected to the extension of the partial lifting of sanctions against
Belgrade for a second period of 100 days. One of the points is "ending all
logistical and other support for the Bosnian Serb army." Vjesnik,
meanwhile, describes continuing problems between the Muslim and Croatian
partners in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Zagreb press has been
reporting for some days on various tensions and frictions stemming from the
Croatian fear that the Muslims view themselves as the dominant--if not
ruling--element and refuse to treat the Croats as equals. In the latest
exchange, the Constituent Assembly was unable to meet on 18 January because the
two sides' leaderships could not reach agreement in advance on the rotation of
the current president and vice president. The Muslims say that the term of the
federation's Croatian president, Kresimir Zubak, has expired, while the Croats
maintain that the length of his mandate must be linked to the implementation of
all provisions of the Washington agreements that set up the federation. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA TO RECONSIDER EXPELLING UNPROFOR?
News agencies report on 18
January that Zagreb may let UNPROFOR stay on after its current mandate runs out
on 31 March if Belgrade recognizes Croatia in its Tito-era boundaries and if
Croatian refugees from Serb-held territories can go home. This would fulfill
two key demands that Zagreb has long made regarding UNPROFOR's mandate.
Meanwhile, Hina notes that the Croatian government will build a center near
Osijek to house 40,000 refugees with Norwegian and other West European money.
-- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA'S JOBLESS LAWYERS.
Hina reports on 18 January that Croatia had
247,55 registered unemployed in December 1994, up 1.8% over the previous year.
The list is topped by lawyers and other "skilled and highly skilled
professionals." Elsewhere, Finance Minister Bozo Prka on 17 January told
Reuters that his government has "stabilized the economy and eliminated
inflation," adding that "if we settle the political problems, Croatia will be a
model for small countries in economic transition." Hina reported the same day
that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has made a DM 70
million loan to Croatia to improve its road network, including completing a
major highway between Zagreb and the Adriatic coast. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
BORBA SAYS IT'S GAINING SUPPORT.
Borba on 19 January notes
that the list of national and international voices offering their material and
moral support to the independent newspaper has grown to include the Independent
Syndicate of Metalworkers of Serbia. Leaders of the ethnic Hungarian community
in Vojvodina have also registered their backing, recognizing Borba as "a
symbol of objective, independent, and free" reporting. Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic's regime on 26 December attempted to silence Borba by
backing the launching of a state-sanctioned version of the newspaper under the
directorship of Milosevic's ally Dragutin Brcin. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER VISITS MACEDONIA.
Flaka reports on 19
January that Max van der Stoel met with Fadil Sulejmani, the director of the
self-declared and not legally recognized Albanian-language university in
Tetovo, and with members of the ethnic Albanian Democratic People's Party. The
Albanian representatives stressed that the educational situation of Albanians
in Macedonia has deteriorated since Serbian authorities closed the University
of Pristina in Kosovo. Van der Stoel noted that in accordance with
international conventions signed by Macedonia in 1990, the Albanians have a
right to higher education in their mother tongue. But he added that this issue
must be solved in keeping with the law and that a new measure dealing with
higher education, which could bring a solution to the conflict, might be passed
by the parliament soon. Van der Stoel also met with Arben Xhaferi, the leader
of the Tetovo-based wing of the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity,
and his deputy Menduh Thaci. The splinter grouping is not legally recognized
under the party's name but is vocal in its demands that Albanians and
Macedonians be recognized as legal co-equals in the Macedonian state. This
demand has been criticized by both other minorities and Macedonians who argue
that the current constitution guarantees the equality of all citizens. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN PREMIER VISITS HUNEDOARA COUNTY.
Nicolae Vacaroiu on 18 January
visited several industrial facilities in Hunedoara county, including steel
plants at Hunedoara and Calan and a mining equipment maintenance plant at
Hunedoara. He was accompanied by a delegation that included the industry and
transports ministers, as well as Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the
ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. The high-ranking officials, who
were briefed on the precarious state of the ailing communist-era industries in
the region, stressed in separate statements the need for restructuring
Romania's metal industry. Some referred specifically to Resita, where an
agreement has been reached on more government support for that purpose. -- Dan
Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA HOLDS TUGBOAT SUSPECTED OF VIOLATING UN SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP YUGO-
Reuters reported on 17 January that Romania was holding a tugboat
suspected of violating UN sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. The tugboat,
which was towing six barges laden with cement for Austria, was detained on 15
A senior Romanian police official said 11 tons of fuel oil were
found aboard the vessel. Rump Yugoslavia has experienced an acute fuel shortage
over the past two years because of the UN embargo. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
GAS SHORTAGE IN BULGARIA.
Almost all heating plants in Bulgaria are
currently working to a special schedule because of a shortage of gas supplies
from Russia, Kontinent reports on 19 January. Lyulin Radulov, chairman
of the government Committee for Energy, told 24 chasa that Bulgaria has
received 1.5 million cubic meters less than it should. He added that Bulgaria
has no alternative to supplies from Russia. On the same subject, Trud
reported on 18 January that the metallurgical plant of Kremikovtsi near Sofia
was forced to stop production for the first time due to a lack of gas supplies.
The monthly losses caused by the gas shortage are estimated at 2.5-3 billion
leva ($37-44 million) a month, Pari reported the same day. The newspaper
notes that the honoring of contracts for exports worth $320 million is also at
stake. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
UPDATE ON BULGARIAN WATER CRISIS.
Petar Stankov, chairman of the Sofia
City Council, said that the present water regulations for Sofia may be in force
for the whole year, BTA reported on 18 January. Most districts in the capital
currently have water only one day in four. If there is not enough rain,
measures will be even stricter in the summer, Stankov added. 24 chasa
reported on 17 January that the Union of Democratic Forces is trying to blame
the former government led by Lyuben Berov for the water crisis, while Berov
says "it is not the only one responsible." The former prime minister referred
to a statement by UDF leader Ivan Kostov, who noted that the Berov government
failed to secure a $98 million credit from the World Bank for water projects.
Standart reported on 17 January that the mayor of Sofia, Aleksandar
Yanulchev, has presented a program to the city council to secure water supplies
by the year 2000. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Jan Cleave