Following the withdrawal of Chechen
fighters from the ruined presidential palace in Grozny on 19 January, the focus
of hostilities shifted on the next day to the new Chechen center of resistance
on the east bank of the Sunzha river, Western agencies reported. On 21 January,
Grozny was reported comparatively quiet, although Russian artillery bombardment
continued; fierce fighting was reported to the west and southwest of the city
as Russian troops tried to establish control of major roads and cut off the
Chechens' retreat. Fighting in Grozny intensified again on 22 January. A
proposal by the two senior Chechen government officials who held informal peace
talks with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in Moscow last week to
meet in Nazran with Russian military representatives to discuss a possible
cease-fire was rejected by the Russian government, Interfax and ITAR-TASS
reported on 22 January. Speaking on Russian TV on 20 and 21 January
respectively, Chernomyrdin and Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK)
Director Sergei Stepashin both admitted that serious mistakes had been made
during the military operation in Chechnya. Stepashin further claimed that there
had been "practically no civilian casualties" in the fighting. Meeting in Cairo
on 22 January with Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Maguid, Russian
Federation Council Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov sought to counter
perceptions that Russia's war in Chechnya was directed against Islam, arguing
that the fighting is being directed "against common criminals," Reuters
reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
RALLIES PROTESTING CHECHEN WAR HELD IN RUSSIA.
Several rallies and
meetings were held across Russia to protest the military's involvement in
Chechnya. People chanted Orthodox and Muslim prayers in front of the former KGB
headquarters in a 22 January gathering held to mourn victims of the war. The
rally, organized by the human rights "Memorial" society and broadcast on
Russian TV, was attended by many Russian celebrities, including former acting
Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, songwriter Bulat Okudzhava and Human Rights
Commissioner Kovalev. Similar rallies attended by politicians and relatives of
Russian conscripts took place 21 and 22 January in many other cities, including
St. Petersburg; Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi republic in Northern Russia;
and Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula. At another demonstration in
Chuvashia, thousands of people came out to back Chuvash President Nikolai
Fedorov, who is refusing to send people to the war. Yeltsin had earlier
annulled Federov's decree. While distraught mothers suggested in speeches at
the rally that Yeltsin should be shot for sending their sons to die, Fedorov
told "Vesti" that he was unlikely to implement Yeltsin's decree. According to
the Los Angeles Times, the president of Bashkortostan and other Volga
region leaders were thinking of following Fedorov's lead -- Julia Wishnevsky,
GRACHEV ATTACKS YUSHENKOV; KOVALEV LAMBASTES YELTSIN.
Pavel Grachev lashed out at the chairman of the Duma Defense Committee Sergei
Yushenkov in a 20 January speech broadcast on Ostankino's "Vremya," calling him
"a vile toad" who defies the army that made him a lieutenant colonel. Grachev
also said "18-year-old Russian soldiers die with a smile" and turned on another
critic of the war in Chechnya, Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev,
saying, "This--what's his name--Kovalev, there's nothing about him that's
decent, he is the enemy of Russia, a traitor to Russia." According to the
Russian TV "Vesti" of 22 January, Grachev's remark on Kovalev may have cost him
a trip to a prestigious international security conference in Munich, the hosts
of which have suggested that Grachev "had better reconsider" his earlier
decision to attend the event. For his part, Kovalev, in an address to the
Anti-Fascist congress, in Moscow on 20 January, indirectly accused President
Boris Yeltsin of falsehood and contempt for his own people. According to
Kovalev, the authorities have constantly lied to the Russian public. In a clear
reference to Yeltsin's interview on the occasion of the seizure of the
presidential palace in Grozny, broadcast on Russian TV a day earlier, Kovalev
noted that the authorities responsible for the deaths of untrained Russian
conscripts and for bombings of civilian targets, "have accused [Chechen
President Dzhokhar] Dudaev of committing genocide against his own people," and
thus demonstrated that they regard the Russian public as ignorant. But Kovalev
also added, "we deserve this, since we allow them to treat us that way." --
Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
THIRD CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY.
Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov criticized Yeltsin in a speech on 21 January at the party's
third congress, calling him the figure primarily responsible for all of
Russia's ills over the past three years. Zyuganov stressed his party's role as
the initiator of a campaign aimed at pushing the Russian president to resign,
hold early presidential elections, and prevent the postponement of
parliamentary elections scheduled for 1996. He also reiterated his party's
opposition to the use of force in Chechnya. Zyuganov was reelected as the party
leader, along with his deputy, Valentin Kuptsov. The congress, which opened on
the 51st anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's death, took place on 21-22 January.
The fact that the congress was held in the prestigious Column Hall of the House
of Unions, revealed a new tendency among the party's opponents to treat it like
a normal opposition grouping. In a sharp departure from past practices, the
tone of Russian TV's "Vesti's" reports on the congress was neutral. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
RELATIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA'S CHOICE, PRESIDENT
The Duma rejected General Prosecutor Aleksei Ilyushenko's
request to prosecute parliamentarians Gaidar and Sergei Yushenkov of Russia's
Choice for organizing unauthorized rallies in Moscow against sending troops to
Chechnya, Interfax reported 20 January. The request won only 132 of the
necessary 226 votes. Ilyushenko objected to the character of the slogans and
placards at the rallies and their descriptions of the president. At a news
rally the same day, former KGB General Oleg Kalugin, now the leader of the
Defense Policy Commission of Russia's Choice, said "the Russian president is
personally responsible for the military operation in Chechnya." The Commission
demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Egorov, Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev, FSK Director Sergei Stepashin, and Secretary of the Security Council
Oleg Lobov be dismissed immediately. Russia's Choice was once Yeltsin's closest
political ally. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
NEW LIST OF DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTERS.
President Boris Yeltsin issued a
decree appointing new deputy defense ministers, Interfax reported on 19
January. As expected, Generals Boris Gromov, Georgii Kondratyev, and Valerii
Mironov were not on the list, nor was the previously fired General Matvei
Burlakov. Speaking on Ostankino TV on 20 January, Kondratyev said, however,
that he, Gromov, and Mironov were still carrying out their duties despite the
fact that others had already been appointed to their posts, and were working
alongside them--a situation he described as "quite incomprehensible." Civilian
Andrei Kokoshin retained his post of first deputy minister as did Chief of
Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov. Col.-Gen. Anatolii Solomatin took over as deputy
minister for construction and billeting of troops -- a position he had been
filling in an acting capacity. Col. Gen. Vladimir Churanov was identified as
the new deputy of logistical support. This list was said to authorize six
deputies, rather than five as had been previously announced. Another holdover
was Col.-Gen. Konstantin Kobets, the inspector general of the armed forces. The
sixth name was that of Col.-Gen. Vladimir Toporov, who had been in charge of
logistics. Toporov is now said to be a deputy minister "without portfolio",
although the 20 January issue of Kommersant-Daily added that such things
as physical fitness training and cultural and recreational activities would
fall under his purview. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIANS ACCUSE U.S. OF DENIGRATING ARMS FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS.
Sulakshin, chairman of the State Duma's subcommittee on the problems of the
military-industrial complex, told RIA on 20 January that American military
experts are spreading "groundless" rumors about the poor quality of Russian
tanks in an effort to undermine Russia's position "as one of the world's
largest arms exporters." He blamed the relatively high loss of armored vehicles
in Grozny on shortcomings in military planning and tactical mistakes. He also
said that the troops did not utilize their full fire power in order to spare
the civilian population. Sulakshin did not mention that Russian military
leaders were also concerned about their armor. On 18 January Interfax reported
that representatives of military research institutes and weapons design bureaus
had been sent to Chechnya to find out why their products had performed so
poorly. One designer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said some of the
design bureaus had received an urgent order to develop better protection for
tanks that are operating in an urban combat zone. He said the means to protect
T-72 and T-80 tanks had not been upgraded in over a decade. -- Doug Clarke,
KINKEL MEETS KOZYREV IN BERN.
German officials are putting increasing
pressure on Russia to cease military action in Chechnya, Reuters reported on 22
January. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, in a 22 January meeting in Bern
with his Russian counterpart, Andrei Kozyrev, said, "The bloodshed in Chechnya
must stop immediately." In contrast to U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher's statement last week that economic assistance may be cut off if
the military action does not stop, Kinkel said that economic sanctions are not
the answer. Kozyrev welcomed Kinkel's support for a political solution within
the framework of the Russian Constitution, meaning that Chechnya would remain
part of the federation. Kinkel also welcomed Russia's acceptance of a mission
from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to assess
human rights. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA REJECTS SECOND READING OF 1995 DRAFT BUDGET.
Russia's Duma failed
for the second time to adopt the 1995 federal budget, with 195 votes in favor,
142 against, and 1 abstention, Interfax reported on 20 January. The draft would
have confirmed budget expenditures of 243,196.5 billion rubles (3,947
rubles/$1) and revenues of 168,922.3 billion rubles. The maximum budget deficit
was planned at 74,272.2 billion rubles, or 30.5% of expenditures. The main
obstacle in passing the budget was opposing views in the State Duma and
Federation Council budget committees on the necessity for a special tax in
support of certain "branches of the economy," Interfax said. Sergei Shulgin,
head of the Duma Sub-Committee on Tax Legislation, argued that a special tax
could "kill industry." The Federation Council Budget Committee argued that the
tax is necessary to support the agri-industrial sector. The Duma Committee on
Budget, Taxes, Banks, and Finances will meet on 25 January for further
discussions. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN, NAZARBAEV MEET.
In a joint declaration issued after their talks
in Moscow on 20 January, Russian President Yeltsin and his Kazakh counterpart
Nursultan Nazarbaev announced measures to coordinate security policy, ITAR-TASS
and Interfax reported. They vowed to create a combined military force later
this year and to cooperate closely in the sphere of foreign policy. The two
presidents also signed an agreement on the legal status of Russian citizens
living in Kazakhstan and Kazakhs in the Russian Federation and announced that a
treaty would be signed on 10 February for the joint defense of their external
frontiers. The Russian and Kazakh prime ministers, Chernomyrdin and Akezhan
Kazhegeldin, signed several economic and military agreements on the creation of
a customs union, the introduction of uniform regulations on foreign economic
activity and stipulating the terms for Russia's use of military facilities in
Kazakhstan, and on the status of Russian troops stationed there. -- Liz Fuller,
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES DECREE ON AGRICULTURAL REFORMS.
on 20 January signed a decree reforming the country's agricultural market,
Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Farmers will be free to sell their
produce to the state, on commodities exchanges, in trading houses, and through
purchasing or brokerage agencies. The measure allows foreign investment in the
production, processing, and storage of farm products, excluding grain. It also
exempts foreign investors from export quotas and licensing. Kuchma has
instructed the National Bank of Ukraine to arrange the sale of futures and
forward contracts for agricultural products by the Ukrainian Interbank Currency
Exchange until commodities exchanges are set up. The central bank will also
explore the possibility of allowing commercial lending to farmers using future
harvests as collateral. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
RUKH, PARLIAMENT SPEAKER OPPOSE RESTORATION OF SOVIET UNION.
Oleksander Moroz, socialist chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, has
criticized organizers of a campaign supporting the restoration of the Soviet
Union, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 21 January. Addressing leftist political
forces in Dnipropetrovsk, he said internal developments in Ukraine, Belarus,
and Russia make renewal of the Soviet Union impossible and could lead to war.
But he added that the three republics should seek closer political and economic
ties and advance toward a new commonwealth of nations. Interfax-Ukraine
reported on 22 January that the nationalist organization Rukh has
circulated leaflets in Kiev demanding that the Ukrainian prosecutor-general's
office investigate the "illegal" activities of procommunist groups collecting
signatures for a referendum on the reunification of the former Soviet
republics. The leaflets called the campaign "destabilizing" and said it could
lead to civil strife. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIANS SAID TO BE TAKING ALL BLACK SEA FLEET PLANES.
The commander of
Ukraine's naval air force has charged the Black Sea Fleet's leaders with
unilaterally disbanding the fleet's air force. Interfax on 20 January quotes
Nikolai Volovin as saying he fears that when the two countries eventually
divide the naval air force, there will be nothing left to divide. He reported
that the unit stationed at Veseloye, on the Crimean peninsula, was disbanded in
1994 and its equipment moved to Russia. Veseloye was the home of a naval heavy
bomber regiment, equipped with Tu-22M "Backfire" jet missile-carrying bombers.
Volovin said he feared the same fate awaited other naval air force units at
Donuzlava, Gvardeisky, and Oktyabrskoye. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
The Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus has called
for mass demonstrations on 26 January to protest the violation of their rights,
Belarusian Radio reported on 20 January. According to deputy federation head
Frants Vitko, the workers have decided on such action because the problem of
social security has not been solved and the liberalization of prices has led to
price anarchy. Meanwhile, the Belarusian Cabinet of Ministers has approved an
agreement with Italy on military cooperation and investment in the defense
sector. The agreement was concluded by First Deputy Minister for External
Economic Relations Syarhei Veksham. It was also reported that Former Deputy
Prime Minister Viktar Hanchar was appointed secretary-general of the CIS
Economic Court. Hanchar resigned from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
government in December because he said Lukashenka had fallen under the
influence of "adventurers" and could no longer influence policy. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIA NOT TO GRANT ASYLUM TO HIGHJACKER.
The Estonian government on 19
January decided it will not grant political asylum to Vladimir Bozhko, BNS
reported on 20 January. The 36-year-old locksmith from Vorkuta hijacked a
Russian plane from Syktyvkar to St. Petersburg in mid-November, demanding to be
flown to Denmark. After the plane landed in Tallinn, he surrendered peacefully
and released all the passengers and crew, When Russia asked for Bozhko's
extradition on 25 November, he requested asylum and threatened to kill himself
if turned over to Russia. Estonia is deciding when and how to transfer Bozhko
to Russia. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
FURTHER TALKS ON BALTIC EU ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP.
Deputy Foreign Minister
Albinas Januskas, heading the Lithuanian delegation to the first round of talks
on associate membership in the European Union, described the 19 January meeting
as "successful," BNS reported on 20 January. The two sides exchanged opinions
on the draft association agreement proposed by the European Commission. An
Estonian delegation, headed by Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Priit Kolbre,
held similar talks on 20 January. Estonian Ambassador to Brussels Clyde Kull
noted that the draft agreement's provisions on the movement of the work force,
the transfer of social insurance, and the setting up of businesses needed
additional work, BNS reported on 21 January. Estonia's major concern--the date
of possible full membership in the EU--was not discussed. -- Saulius Girnius,
SIEGE MENTALITY IN POLISH PARLIAMENT.
The Sejm on 20 January
unexpectedly rushed through the first reading of a constitutional amendment
that, in the event of a presidential dissolution order, would keep the
parliament in session until after new elections. Current regulations would
leave the country without a sitting parliament for several months, until the
newly elected Sejm and Senate convened--such as occurred in 1993, following the
no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka's government. Virtually all
parties supported the amendment, and a final vote could take place as soon as
early February (a presidential veto is likely, however). Sejm deputies
continued to insist that President Lech Walesa has no legal grounds to dissolve
the parliament, but an atmosphere of near-panic has clearly taken hold in
anticipation of the president's next move on the 1995 budget.
Rzeczpospolita notes on 21-22 January that some deputies are even
considering stockpiling food and supplies for a possible sit-in if a
dissolution order is made. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
FORMER CZECH COMMUNIST LEADERS AVOID PROSECUTION.
Two former leading
members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party will not be prosecuted on charges
of illegally arming the party's paramilitary force, Czech media reported on 21
January. Former General-Secretary Milos Jakes and Karel Hoffmann could not be
found when indictments against them and five others were issued just hours
before a statute of limitations covering their alleged crime came into effect.
They were charged in absentia, but legal officials last week decided this
procedure was illegal and unjustified after the two proved they did not
deliberately hide from the law. Jakes and Hoffmann were key hard-line members
of the "normalization" regime that purged the party and cracked down on
dissidents following the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Because
the statute of limitations came into effect at the end of December, they can no
longer be charged over the issue of diverting arms from the Defense Ministry to
the People's Militia in 1985. The five others charged, including former Prime
Minister Lubomir Strougal, still face prosecution. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI,
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES CABINET PROGRAM.
The Slovak parliament on 20
January approved the cabinet's program and passed a vote of confidence in the
government of Vladimir Meciar. Of the 139 deputies present, 83 supported the
program, 44 voted against it, and 11 abstained. According to Pravda on
23 January, two deputies from the opposition voted in favor of the program:
Lubomir Roman of the Christian Democratic Movement and Peasant Movement
Chairman Jozef Klein. Marian Andel of the Slovak National Party reportedly
voted against the program. Roman and Andel both later claimed, however, that
their votes were recorded incorrectly, Sme reports. -- Sharon Fisher,
MDS MEMBERS PLEDGE TO PAY IF THEY LEAVE PARTY.
Sme on 23 January
reports that deputies from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia have pledged
to pay 5 million koruny to the MDS if they switch to another party during the
current parliament term. This was confirmed in a recent interview with RFE/RL
by MDS deputy and legal expert Jan Cuper, who said his party justified the
payment because of the money spent on the election campaign. When asked whether
this contravenes the constitution (which says deputies are the representatives
of citizens and are responsible to vote in accordance with their conscience,)
Cuper claimed that other parties have similar agreements but refused to name
them. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
KOSCHNIK TO LEAVE MOSTAR?
Hans Koschnik, former mayor of Bremen and
current EU-appointed mayor of Mostar, told Deutsche Welle on 22 January that he
regards obstruction by local Croats as the main problem in implementing the
terms of the Croat-Muslim federation in Mostar. He also warned that he would
give up his mandate if things do not improve. Koschnik recently held meetings
with top officials of the Republic of Croatia, including the prime, defense,
and foreign ministers, in apparent preparation for meetings with Croatian and
Muslim representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He appears to have met with
the Zagreb Croats first to shore up their support in his dealings with the
Herzegovinian Croats. Hina added that the Croatian government delegation also
held talks with the Mostar Croats, all of whom "firmly supported the Bosnian
federation," according to Foreign Minister Mate Granic. Prime Minister Nikica
Valentic added that the Zagreb delegation helped bring things "one step closer
to a solution," Vecernji list reports on 23 January. But he could not
accept Koschnik's assertion that the local Croats were the main problem. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
YET ANOTHER SHIFT IN US BOSNIAN POLICY.
The New York Times and
the Los Angeles Times on 23 January report on the latest in a series of
flip-flops in Washington's policy toward Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely, the
decision to end the policy of no direct talks with the Bosnian Serbs and to
send a US envoy to Pale. Ambassador Victor Jackovich, who favors a policy of
pressure and sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his
followers, was recalled to Washington on 18 January, while his deputy went to
Pale for talks the next day. US Contact Group negotiator Charles Thomas beat
the same path to Karadzic's headquarters on 22 January, where he held talks
that he called "very constructive." US Secretary of State Warren Christopher
had earlier announced the change in policy to the Bosnian government in a
letter saying the decision was contingent on the Serbs' opening roads into
Sarajevo. They have promised several times to open the routes, but these still
remain closed. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
OTHER BOSNIAN NEWS.
International media reported on 20 January that the
first Serbian-Muslim prisoner exchange took place under the terms of the
current cease-fire. The Los Angeles Times on 22 January noted that the
exchange of 100 people is the first time one of the provisions of the current
cease-fire has been honored. Meanwhile, in the Bihac pocket, fighting again
intensified over the weekend after a brief lull, while AFP reported from Tuzla
that a controversial Serbian liaison officer has left the airfield there. The
BBC on 23 January ran an interview with the UN commander in Bosnia, General Sir
Michael Rose, whose tour of duty is about to end. Rose defended his and the
UN's records, noting that they are required to be impartial while "not being
indifferent" to the situation of the Bosnian government, which is a member of
the UN. He nonetheless repeatedly warned against the "siren voices calling us
to war." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
POLITICAL TRIALS IN SANDZAK.
The independent Monitor reported on
20 January that since December, "almost the entire leadership of the Party of
Democratic Action for Montenegro (SDA)--20 youngsters from Cetinje and the
legislator Acim Visnjic"--have been sentenced to long prison terms. The
newspaper claims that these are political trials of "foes of the current
system" and quotes the lawyer of the ethnic Muslim SDA as saying the prisoners
have been physically and psychologically tortured. The sentenced SDA members
have been accused of separatist activity, while the 20 ethnic Montenegrin
youngsters from Cetinje were sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison for
slandering Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic. Of the 20, six have also been
charged with obstructing a parliament session. Visnjic, a member of the extreme
nationalist Serbian Radical Party, was sentenced to five months for publicly
"slandering the state and the president of the Republic of Montenegro." --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA'S RULING COALITION EMBRACES EXTREMISTS.
The ruling Party of
Social Democracy in Romania and Party of Romanian National Unity have signed a
protocol of "collaboration" with the Greater Romania Party and the Socialist
Labor Party, thereby formalizing their alliance, Radio Bucharest and Romanian
TV reported on 20 January. It is expected that the cabinet will soon be
enlarged to include members of the chauvinist GRP and the SLP, the heir to the
Romanian Communist Party. The four parties will consult on the "activity and
the structure of the executive" and on the "co-opting of specialists" from
among the signatory parties into "central administration" structures. GRP
leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, who had threatened to withdraw parliamentary
support unless his party was allowed to join the coalition, expressed
satisfaction with the agreement. But PRNU leader Gheorghe Funar said he
regretted the accord did not include a clause on outlawing the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania, as his formation had proposed. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DENOUNCES NEW HUNGARIAN MINORITY COUNCIL.
Bucharest on 20 January reported that the Romanian government has denounced a
recent decision by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania to set up a
council coordinating local administration policies. It said that if the HDFR
did not abolish the council, it intended to appeal to "the judiciary and to
[make use of] all other constitutional and legal instruments" available in a
"state based on the rule of the law." The government said the HDFR council is
an infringement of the principles of local administration democracy and was
bound to discriminate between those who do and do not belong to the Hungarian
minority. The PRNU announced the same day that it will ask to the
Constitutional Court to ban the HDFR. Justice Minister Iosif Gavril Chiuzbaian,
a PRNU member, told the Mediafax news agency that in his opinion there are
sufficient grounds to start procedures for outlawing the HDFR. At a press
conference in Bucharest on 20 January, Train Bandila, executive secretary of
the GRP, also reiterated his party's long-standing demand that the HDFR be
outlawed. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
LINE-UP OF NEW BULGARIAN CABINET.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party and its
partners on 22 January approved the cabinet proposed by BSP chairman Zhan
Videnov, Reuters reported the same day. The government will be headed by
Videnov, who will have four deputy premiers: Rumen Gechev, Doncho Konakchiev,
Kiril Tsochev, and Svetoslav Shivarov. The first three will also have economic
portfolios, with Gechev exercising overall control over the economy as minister
for economic development. Georgi Pirinski, who was deputy foreign trade
minister under the Zhivkov regime, has been named foreign minister. Historian
Ilcho Dimitrov will be education minister--a post he held in the 1980s. Reserve
Admiral Dimitar Pavlov will be the new defense minister; and Lyubomir Nachev, a
former police officer, will take over at the Interior Ministry. The Finance
Ministry will be headed by Dimitar Kostov. The BSP's coalition partners will
hold three of the 17 posts. Vasil Chichibaba of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's
Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" will be in charge of agriculture, and Georgi
Georgiev of the Political Club Ekoglasnost will be environment minister.
Of the 14 ministers nominated by the BSP, only six are party members, 24
chasa reported on 23 January. The new cabinet will be presented to
President Zhelev on 23 January and to the parliament on 25 January. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
FINANCIAL CRIME IN BULGARIA ON THE RISE.
Financial crime in Bulgaria
increased last year, causing huge losses to the economy, Pari reported
on 19 January. National Police Director Hristo Gatsov said the number of
financial crimes reported in 1994 was 20.6% up on 1994 levels, while losses to
the country's economy increased by two-thirds, totaling 12 billion leva (about
$180 million). The real number of crimes, however, is eight to ten times
higher, Gotsov added. He said money-laundering, embezzlement, tax evasion, and
privatization-related crime have increased. He blamed this increase on delays
in structural reforms of Bulgaria's economy, which has allowed corruption and
racketeering to flourish. He added that the police are too poorly paid and
ill-equipped to cope with the problem. Interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova
said in December that crime is evident at all levels of state authority and
that the judicial system is unable to break the influence of criminal groups.
-- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA TO HOLD MILITARY EXERCISES WITH U.S.
As part of its attempts to
prepare for NATO membership, Albania will hold joint military exercises with
the United States from 26-29 January. The naval search-and-rescue exercise,
code named "Sarex '95," will involve the US Sixth fleet warship Ponce
and six Albanian naval vessels, 600 infantry, and aircraft. "This is Albania's
first step in the integration towards NATO," Reuters reports Albanian Defense
Minister Safet Zhugali as saying on 20 January. Albanian already provides port
and airfield facilities to NATO and the WEU. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave