YELTSIN CONFIRMS THAT ELECTIONS WILL BE HELD ON SCHEDULE.
"In my speech
to the Federation Assembly, I stressed that the elections will take place in
the period dictated by the constitution. I have no intention of changing this
position," President Boris Yeltsin told ITAR-TASS on 15 April as he wrapped up
his vacation in Sochi. Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov told Interfax
on 17 April that the "irreconcilable opposition" had started rumors that the
elections would be postponed because it was to their advantage "to keep society
in a state of lack of confidence and even fear for the future." Yeltsin's legal
aide Mikhail Krasnov also ruled out the possibility of holding a referendum on
prolonging the terms in office of the president and the parliament, describing
the idea as "absolutely unreal." Filatov said it is still to early to say
whether or not Yeltsin will run because the electoral law has not been adopted
yet, Vremya reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
MOSCOW DUMA INITIATES LEGISLATION ON EXTREMISM.
The Moscow City Duma has
sent a bill outlawing extremist groups to the State Duma for adoption as a
federal law, Russian Radio and Interfax reported. The bill proposes shutting
down parties that "publicly call for establishing dictatorship, overthrowing
the constitutional system by force, warmongering, setting up armed units, and
fanning social, racial, ethnic, and religious strife." Moscow Duma deputy
Yevgeny Proshechkin said there are more than 100 extremist organizations and
200 extremist publications in the country. He said Yeltsin's decree on fighting
fascism is not sufficient because it is not a law. He believes the current
State Duma will not pass the bill on extremism, but that by rejecting it, the
chamber will show "who is who." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA AMENDS ITS PROCEDURES FOR VOTING NO CONFIDENCE IN THE GOVERNMENT.
The State Duma has amended its regulations to prevent political factions from
calling for a no-confidence vote in the government, Interfax reported on 14
April. The initiation of such a vote will now require the support of at least
90 deputies. The Democratic Party of Russia had earlier declared its intention
to place a no-confidence vote on the agenda, but Communist deputy Vladimir
Bokov, a member of the Procedural Committee, pointed out that the faction only
has eight members, a number he considers too small for deciding such an
important issue. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
SPIRITUAL HERITAGE ASSOCIATION FORMS BLOC WITH COMMUNISTS.
Heritage Association, a patriotic movement committed to "leading Russia out of
the crisis" and "defending the interests and rights of Russians," joined an
electoral bloc with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Russian
Public Television reported on 14 April. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov
said recent regional elections demonstrated the need for cooperation among all
patriotic forces, Segodnya reported on 15 April. Alexei Podberezkin, a
leader of Spiritual Heritage, praised the Communists for their commitment to
patriotic values. Podberezkin added that his association's decision to form the
electoral bloc was influenced by the idea that "if you have to join someone, it
should be the strongest." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORM PLANS ELECTION STRATEGY.
from 40 Russian regions met in Moscow to plan election strategy for the
Movement for Democratic Reform, Russian Radio reported on 16 April. Former
Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov, the leader of the movement, sharply criticized
Russia's current "anti-democratic" and "bureaucratic" regime and said his
movement's most important task would be to convince voters not to ignore the
elections, Interfax reported the same day. Board members invited all political
groups to help form public election committees to ensure that parliamentary and
presidential elections are held on schedule in December 1995 and June 1996. At
the same time, although he did not rule out cooperation with like-minded
political forces, Popov said the Movement for Democratic Reform intended to run
for parliament independently, Russian Radio reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
ARMS FIRM ACCUSED OF FRAUD.
The Prosecutor's Office has initiated legal
proceedings against Rosvooruzhenie for tax evasion and illegal foreign currency
dealings, Radio Rossii reported on 15 April. The weapons company, which has a
monopoly on the import and export of arms in Russia, has been accused of
concealing profits of 137 billion rubles ($27.4 million), thus depriving the
state of 44 billion rubles in taxes, and carrying out foreign currency
transactions worth $90 million without a license from the Central Bank.
According to Reuters on 17 April, Russia exported $1.7 billion worth of arms
and military equipment in 1994. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
LABOR MINISTRY SAYS NUMBER OF POOR INCREASING.
About 30% to 40% of
Russians earn less than the 249,000 rubles a month viewed as the average
minimum subsistence level, Reuters reported on 17 April, citing Vyacheslav
Bobkov, head of the All-Russian Center for Living Standards attached to the
Labor Ministry. According to Ekho Moskvy, the number of Russians living below
the poverty line increased in the first quarter of this year. On 12 April, the
Duma approved at the second reading a draft law on the subsistence minimum that
would entitle those on low incomes to receive state benefits, Interfax
reported. The benefit would be equal to the difference between a family's
average per capita income and the official subsistence minimum, which the draft
legislation sets at 40% of the average wage. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
MOSCOW PROMOTES INDEFINITE EXTENSION OF THE NPT.
Russia will promote the
indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the
international review conference which opened on 17 April, Interfax reported.
Mikhail Kokeyev, a Russian Foreign Ministry official, said the treaty, while
not perfect, is the best one available. He said Russia, the U.S., and the U.K.
have a common position supporting the treaty. He added that he thought a
majority of the treaty's adherents will support an indefinite extension but
conference organizers are especially concerned about the reservations of
Israel, Mexico, and the Arab countries toward the treaty. -- Michael Mihalka,
GRACHEV: RUSSIA CANNOT IMPLEMENT CFE.
Russia requires a "stable setting"
to implement the CFE treaty, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev told Interfax on 16
April. He said the situation has changed significantly in the Northern Caucasus
since the treaty was signed and the "leaders of the former Soviet Union did a
wrong thing agreeing to sign this document." Grachev said there are ways to
circumvent the treaty but said he preferred to revise it. He said Russia cannot
observe all of the flank restrictions agreed to by the former Soviet Union. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
SCIENTISTS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER IRANIAN NUCLEAR DEAL.
aid to Iran "will undoubtedly lead to the creation of nuclear weapons in Iran,"
argued two Russian scientists in a letter to Izvestiya published on 18
April. Since the safety aspects of the nuclear reactor are underfunded, the
"chief aim is plutonium production and not a safe" power station, the
scientists said. They expressed concern at the prospects of an Iranian nuclear
weapon, especially after the "colossal harm" done the Islamic people of
Chechnya. Nevertheless, they argued that the deal should go ahead because if
Russia refrained, another country would provide Iran with the reactors, and
"the possibility of big earnings...is opening," something the "impoverished
families of scientists" have been awaiting for several years now. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN FORCES FAIL TO TAKE BAMUT.
Up to 30 Russian troops were killed
on 14 April in two unsuccessful attempts to dislodge supporters of Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev from the village of Bamut in southwestern Chechnya,
Russian and Western agencies reported. A Russian military spokesman denied
Chechen claims that one Russian fighter aircraft and two combat helicopters
were shot down during the assault. Following the Chechen resistance fighters'
rejection on 16 April of a Russian ultimatum to surrender their weapons and
retreat from the village, Russian artillery bombardment of Bamut resumed on 17
April according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 17 April, Interfax quoted the head of the
Chechen Government of National Rebirth, Salambek Khadzhiev, as claiming that
both former Russian parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov and former
Chechen-Ingush Obkom First Secretary Doku Zavgaev had rejected an offer to be
named Chechen prime minister. Meanwhile, former Chechen parliament Chairman
Yusup Soslambekov has drawn up yet another draft proposal, summarized by
Interfax, for resolving the Chechen conflict and regulating future relations
between Chechnya and the Russian Federation. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
AZERBAIJAN TO HOLD ELECTIONS IN OCTOBER.
A new election law is to be
submitted to the Azerbaijan People's Assembly shortly and then subjected to a
nationwide referendum in preparation for parliamentary elections scheduled for
October 1995, according to President Heidar Aliyev as quoted by Interfax on 16
April. A new constitution will also be adopted this year after nationwide
discussion. On 17 April, the head of the opposition Democratic Party of
Azerbaijan, Leila Yunusova, told a press conference in Baku that the current
Azerbaijani leadership is seeking to impose a dictatorship, and therefore
seized upon the police rebellion last month as a pretext for large-scale
repression even though none of the existing political parties in Azerbaijan had
supported the revolt, Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
MANY CASUALTIES IN BOMBING IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN.
officials continue to deny that CIS planes are making strikes in Afghanistan,
Kabul Radio reported a series of attacks in the Takhar province recently.
Provincial officials said the Chai Ab and Farkhar districts were pounded by
Russian jets on 11 and 12 April but the worst bombing occurred in Taloqan on 13
April. Estimates cite some 100 dead and 120 wounded in the attack which came on
the weekly bazaar day, a time when the city is filled with people from
adjoining villages, AFP reported. A European-based emergency relief
organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres, received a convoy of medicines in order
to treat the victims, according to AFP. Taloqan is considered to be a base for
Tajik opposition forces, a Western source said. In response to Moscow's
accusations that Afghanistan is aiding the Tajik opposition, Kabul claimed that
it has given only "humanitarian aid" to Tajik refugees. The Afghan embassy in
Moscow protested the "attack on a foreign country which violated all
international rules," AFP reported. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
MOBIL OIL STRIKES DEAL WITH KAZAKHSTAN.
The U.S. oil company Mobil
announced that it had concluded a deal with Kazakhstan on 17 April to explore
for oil and gas in Kazakhstan's northwestern area. Mobil Oil Tulpar, a
subsidiary of Mobil Oil, announced the signing of a joint venture to be called
Tulpar Munai which will explore and develop 1.6 million hectares of territory,
Interfax reported. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk
is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on 17 April for further talks with Russian
First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets on the Russian-Ukrainian friendship
treaty, international agencies reported. The latest round of talks is to focus
on the issue of where to base the countries' respective shares of the Black Sea
Fleet. On 15 April, Reuters reported that President Yeltsin said he would not
sign the treaty unless the Crimean issue is resolved, which represents a
departure from Moscow's earlier stance that treated it as an internal Ukrainian
affair. It was Yeltsin's first official reaction to Kiev's recent annulment of
the Crimean Constitution and the abolition of the Crimean Presidency in March.
The moves had led to heated debates in the Russian State Duma and several
deputies as well as Crimean officials have been appealing to the Russian
government to take decisive steps to protect the Russian majority in Crimea. On
17 April, Yeltsin spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma on the
phone and said he would meet with Marchuk during the latest round of talks,
Interfax reported. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO ORGANIZE POLL?
UNIAR on 14 April quoted President
Leonid Kuchma as saying he will not dissolve parliament over the dispute on
presidential and local powers. But he added that he may organize a poll in May
on whether citizens have confidence in the president and in the parliament.
Under Ukrainian law, a poll is not legally binding but will strengthen the
president's hand in dealing with the legislature. Kuchma has reportedly been
considering such a poll since the debate began over his decree on state
government and local authority. Also on 14 April, Kuchma issued a decree
rescinding five resolutions passed by the Crimean parliament that contravened
Ukraine's legislation, UNIAN reported. The resolutions dealt with excise
duties, exports, and land rentals in Crimea. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
40% OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN UKRAINE TRANSFERRED TO RUSSIA.
Serdyuk, head of Ukraine's nuclear forces control center, said on 17 April that
Ukraine has transferred to Russia some 40% of the nuclear arms once on its
territory, UNIAN and Interfax reported. Serdyuk was apparently including
tactical nuclear weapons in this total, since he confirmed that only 40 of the
176 strategic missiles in Ukraine have been dismantled. He also announced that
two more strategic nuclear regiments would be taken off duty at the end of
April and the warheads on their 20 SS-19 missiles returned to Russia. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULINGS.
The Constitutional Court has
ruled that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decree authorizing state
television to issue broadcasting licenses to other companies violates
anti-monopoly laws, Reuters reported on 14 April. State television was ordered
to reorganize by 1 July. But the court upheld Lukashenka's decree subordinating
the state publishing house to the president's office. It also supported
Lukashenka's decree on state television and radio. Opposition deputies accused
Lukashenka of trying to monopolize the country's electronic media and printing
facilities. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS OFF TO BAD START.
Alyaksandr Abramovich, head of
the Central Election Commission, has said the government has allocated only
half of the 68 million Belarusian rubles ($6.5 million) promised to finance the
elections, Interfax reported on 17 April. Abramovich warned earlier that the
elections may not take place at all because of a lack of funds. He also said
that 10% of the registered candidates were disqualified because of violations
of the election law. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT SWORN IN.
President Lennart Meri on 17 April swore
in the new government of Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, BNS reported. Meri pledged
his full support for the new government "which has committed itself clearly and
unambiguously to the priorities of Estonia's national security--namely, the
continuation of reforms and speedy integration into the European Union and
European defense structures." The parliament must elect a new deputy chairman,
since Edgar Savisaar vacates that post on becoming interior minister and deputy
prime minister. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIAN-ESTONIAN MARITIME BORDER DISPUTE.
Estonian coast guard boats on
14-15 April stopped two Latvian fishing boats near the Estonian island of Ruhnu
some 2-3 nautical miles inside its 12-mile economic zone and ordered them to
leave, BNS reported on 17 April. Latvia has never agreed to Estonia's
unilateral demarcation in March 1993 of its maritime borders in the Bay of
Riga. It argues that the borders should be set by an interstate agreement.
Latvia's Fish-Farming Board senior specialist Uldis Rinkis said there have been
no conflicts between Latvian and Estonian fishermen. He also noted that the
number of fish caught by both countries is regulated by the International
Baltic Sea Fishing Committee. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
WORLD BANK LOAN FOR LITHUANIA.
The World Bank has approved an unusually
flexible loan to Lithuania to help strengthen its banking system and support
the development of private and newly privatized enterprises, RFE/RL reported on
14 April. The loan consists of $22 million and 4.5 million German marks ($6.3
million). Half is to be repaid in a single payment at the end of 10 years; the
other half over 20 years. Sweden has agreed to provide another $10 million to
increase the capital funds of commercial banks. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
Direct foreign investment in the
Czech Republic increased by almost 52% in 1994 to $862,400,000, Rude
pravo reported on 18 April. Citing data released by the Czech National
Bank, the paper said Germany accounted for by far the largest share of last
year's investment, with 48.4%. It was followed by Austria (9.2%), France
(8.9%), and the U.S. (4.6%). Since the demise of communism, almost $3.1 billion
have been invested in the Czech Republic. Volkswagen's stake in the Skoda auto
company, which became a majority holding in 1994, is the biggest element in
Germany's 36.2% share of the total foreign investment since 1989. The U.S.
comes next with 21.2%, followed by France (11.6%), Austria (7%), and Belgium
(6%). -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES CABINET.
Representatives of the opposition
Democratic Union and Party of the Democratic Left, meeting on 13 April to
discuss ways to cooperate in the parliament, agreed that "an authoritarian
regime with a concentration of economic power" is being built in Slovakia,
Narodna obroda and Pravda reported on 15 April. PDL Chairman
Peter Weiss warned that the policies of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
are becoming "right-wing to extreme right-wing." DU Chairman Jozef Moravcik
added that privatization is benefiting a narrow group of individuals rather
than citizens in general. He added that the parliament can ratify the
Hungarian-Slovak treaty only after the conflict over the inclusion of Council
of Europe Recommendation 1201 is cleared up. Both parties warned that recent
declarations by Slovak National Party members glorifying Jozef Tiso, who was
Slovak president during World War II, are damaging the country's image abroad.
-- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT MOVES TO FIGHT BLACK ECONOMY.
government, in a bid to channel illegal revenues from the black economy to the
state budget, has decided to set up a group charged with investigating black
market activities, Magyar Hirlap reported on 14 April. Elemer Kiss,
state secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, announced that the group will
be composed of officials from the National Police Headquarters, the Tax Office,
the National Customs and Excise Office, the Border Guards, and the National
Security Office. He said the group, to be headed by an official from the Prime
Minister's Office, will "strictly apply current legislation and exclude
publicity." An additional 250 police officers are to investigate economic
crimes. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
KARADZIC THREATENS WAR "UNTIL FINAL VICTORY."
At a two-day session of
the Bosnian Serb parliament in Sanski Most, General Ratko Mladic spoke for
nearly three hours and lambasted the politicians for not doing enough to win
the war against the Bosnian government, Nasa Borba reported on 17 April.
The BBC said that the Bosnian Serb army is well integrated with the armed
forces of Serbia-Montenegro and Krajina and that its only real problem is a
shortage of manpower. But Mladic and his fellow officers feel, the broadcast
continued, that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and other civilians are
interested in prolonging the conflict so that they can profit from the black
market in fuel and other goods. Karadzic nonetheless told the parliament that
he will press for a military victory if a political solution proves impossible,
Vecernji list reported on 18 April. He also stressed the need to unite
the Bosnian Serb territories with Krajina. Nasa Borba, however, stresses
that Karadzic's aggressive words ring hollow in view of the deep divisions
between the military and civilians. Politika adds that the parliament
was characterized by a militant "Patton syndrome." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE YUGOSLAV CRISIS.
Montenegrin President Momir
Bulatovic has said that relations between the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia
are getting better, according to Nasa Borba on 14 April. Meanwhile in
Sarajevo, two French peacekeepers were killed in separate incidents over the
Easter weekend. French television showed the second killing, and Minister of
Defense Francois Leotard flew to the Bosnian capital to investigate the
soldier's death at Serbian hands. The minister threatened to withdraw French
peacekeepers unless safety improves, but Politika senses that Leotard's
dramatic words may have been prompted chiefly by considerations stemming from
the upcoming French presidential election. Vjesnik on 18 April quoted
Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying that the solution to the
conflict in his republic lies in the hands of the international community. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
Nasa Borba on 18 April suggested that relations
between Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party (DS), and former rump
Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic are improving and may be aimed at a political
alliance. The daily quotes Djindjic as saying that Cosic is "one of the people
that we [the DS] are counting on" to exercise a decisive influence over Serbian
politics. Cosic responded by saying that "I believe in the DS." Also on 18
April, the independent Belgrade daily ran an article suggesting that sources in
Russia are aiding Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on Serbia's
independent media. It reported that shipments of much-needed production
materials are being prevented from reaching their destinations in Serbia. --
Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
MACEDONIAN BORDER PATROL KILLS ALBANIAN.
A Macedonian border patrol
killed a 19-year-old Albanian who illegally crossed the border to Macedonia in
the night of 14-15 April, international agencies reported. The Macedonian
Interior Ministry said police were tipped off that a criminal group would try
to sneak across the border near Debar. There were reports that the man was
killed in a shoot-out, but the Albanian Interior Ministry said he died
immediately and made no mention of a shoot-out. Reuters quoted the ministry as
saying that a "commission of Albanian experts concluded that it was a
premeditated killing by Macedonian authorities." Albania has protested the
killing. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
FORMER MINISTERS IN SLOVENIA CHARGED.
International media on 17 April
reported that former Defense Minister Janez Jansa and former Interior Minister
Igor Bavcar have been formally charged in connection with a 1992 arms smuggling
plot. Police sources confirm that an additional four suspects have also been
charged, but so far no names have been released. This is the biggest political
scandal to have erupted in independent Slovenia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
DISPUTE OVER ROMANIAN TV AND RADIO ELECTIONS CONTINUES.
on 17 April reported that the Free Trade Union of Radio and TV Employees has
declared the conflict over elections to the Radio and TV Administrative Council
reopened. The parliament voted on 4 April to hold new elections for unoccupied
seats on the council, and the legislature's committees on the mass media
defined the criteria according to which employees can participate in the
elections. The Free Trade Union announced it has forwarded to the management
proposals on organizing the elections along the lines established by the
parliament. It said management's role should be limited to supervising the
elections. But management responded that the trade union representatives were
elected to negotiate salaries, not organize elections. It also noted that the
Free Trade Union is one of five unions representing TV and radio employees and
that each should have two representatives participating in the organization and
supervision of the elections. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN STRIKE SUSPENDED.
The committee representing striking teachers
and students in Chisinau decided on 15 April to suspend the protest until 4
May, Radio Bucharest and international agencies reported. The strike will
resume if the protesters' demands have not been met by that date. Anatoli
Petrenco, leader of the strikers' committee, told Interfax that the decision
was taken in the wake of President Mircea Snegur's moratorium on implementing
the decree that is to replace Romanian history courses with Moldovan history
instruction and his forwarding to the Constitutional Court a draft law on
changing Article 13 of the country's constitution. Snegur told the press on 16
April that the bill tends toward defining the state language as Romanian rather
than "Moldovan," which is one of the strikers' main demands. Meanwhile,
students in the northeastern Romanian town of Iasi held a meeting of solidarity
with the Moldovan students on 15 April. They decided to send a delegation to
Chisinau that is to "become involved directly" in the events in the Moldovan
capital. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
Local elections were held in Moldova on 16
April, international agencies reported. Radio Bucharest, citing the Moldovan
Central Electoral Commission, reported on 17 April that preliminary results
indicate that the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party won most of the votes.
Turnout was very low in urban areas, including the capital city of Chisinau,
where less than 50% of the voters went to the polls. The final results are
expected within a few days. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN BUSINESS BLOC LEADER LOSES PARLIAMENT SEAT.
Court has ruled that the election of Georges Ganchev to the parliament was
illegal, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 14 April. He was stripped of his
parliament seat because he had dual citizenship at the time of the December
1994 elections. Under the Bulgarian Constitution, a Bulgarian citizen who holds
another citizenship cannot run for the parliament. Ganchev claimed that
President Zhelyu Zhelev and the opposition Union of Democratic Forces were
responsible for his ousting. He said he would appeal the ruling to the European
Court of Justice. Constitutional Judge Mladen Danailov said that Ganchev's dual
citizenship was proved in a letter from U.S. Ambassador William Montgomery,
Demokratsiya reported. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS LAND RESTITUTION LAW.
parliament majority has passed a controversial amendment to the land
restitution law, Reuters reported on 14 April. The amendment states that owners
wishing to sell their land have to offer it first to the state, which has two
months to decide whether to buy it. It also restricts the right to sell small
plots that are part of larger land blocks and to plant crops different from the
ones in the rest of the block. The opposition boycotted the vote on the
amendment. Vladislav Kostov of the Union of Democratic Forces said his party
will take the matter to the Constitutional Court, Demokratsiya reported
on 15 April. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIA, GREECE, RUSSIA AGREE ON OIL PIPELINE PLAN.
Greek, and Russian foreign ministers have agreed to speed up the construction
of a pipeline that will bring Russian crude oil from the Urals via the
Bulgarian port of Burgas to the Greek harbor of Alexandroupolis, Reuters
reported on 14 April. The $700 million pipeline is to be completed in 1997 and
will have a daily capacity of 600,000 barrels of oil. Greek Foreign Minister
Karolos Papoulias was quoted as saying that experts from the three countries
will meet in Moscow soon to discuss details and sign a protocol agreement. --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
GREECE, RUSSIA SIGN ACCORD ON CLOSER RELATIONS.
Greek Foreign Minister
Karolos Papoulias and his Russian counterpart, Andrei Kozyrev, on 15 April
signed an accord on bilateral relations, AFP reported the same day. Greece will
open consulates in Saint Petersburg and Novorossiisk, while Russia will open a
consulate in Thessaloniki. Kozyrev said he and Papoulias also discussed
cooperation in resolving problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere in the
former Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BLACK SEA CONFERENCE ENDS IN ATHENS.
The Black Sea Economic Cooperation
organization ended its conference in Athens on 15 April with an agreement to
develop an international center to study the economics, industry, and
technology of the region, Western agencies reported. Member countries are
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Moldova, Romania,
Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The group failed to agree to a Greek proposal to
demand that sanctions against rump Yugoslavia be lifted. But Bulgaria, Moldova,
Romania, and Ukraine joined Greece in sending a statement to the UN requesting
that the sanctions be lifted because of the long-term damage to the region's
economy. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Russia did not add its
signature to the statement because it felt it was too far away geographically
to be hurt by the embargo. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave