MOSCOW VICTORY CELEBRATIONS CONTINUE.
Veterans from the Chechen campaign
were sighted in the parade that marched through Red Square on 9 May, news
agencies reported. Several Western leaders had earlier said they would only
attend the ceremonies if there was no Chechnya connection. However, U.S.
National Security Adviser Anthony Lake said he was satisfied that the Russians
had kept their pledge. After the parade of veterans and soldiers on Red Square,
Russia put on a display of its most advanced military hardware, sending tanks,
rocket launchers, and columns of troops past a new war monument on Poklonnaya
Gora in western Moscow, while aircraft flew overhead. The military parade was
not held in Red Square for the first time as a concession to Western leaders
who refused to attend a parade displaying military equipment. During a
45-minute meeting with Yeltsin, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl told him that the
ongoing Chechen conflict is harming Russia's relationship with the West.
According to AFP, Clinton made no mention of Chechnya in his public statements
during the day, but an administration official said it is sure to come up
during their talks on 10 May. In St. Petersburg, thousands of people filled the
city's cemeteries to mourn their relatives who died in the Nazi siege of
Leningrad. * Robert Orttung
ALTERNATIVE RALLY IN MOSCOW.
Thousands of demonstrators waving red flags
and carrying portraits of Josef Stalin marched through the capital in an
alternative Victory Day rally, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 May.
The march was organized by various opposition groups, including the Communist
Party, Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, and the Officers' Union, and attracted
an unusually large turnout. Police said about 30,000 people took part,
including many veterans. Participants argued that Yeltsin has no right to lead
celebrations marking the victory over Nazi Germany. One veteran quoted by AFP
said 1945 marked "the victory of the Soviet people and not that of these
traitors to the Soviet Union who are running Russia." In his address, Anpilov
said Yeltsin had put too much emphasis on Russia's rather than the Soviet
Union's contribution to the war, while General Valentin Varennikov argued that
"what Hitler failed to do, the current regime has done through betrayal and
lies." Speakers called for the restoration of a unified state on the territory
of the CIS and for bringing "patriotic forces" to power in Russia. The Moscow
authorities had initially tried to prevent the opposition from rallying in
central Moscow. * Penny Morvant
RUSSIA TO COMPLETE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN IRAN.
In his talks with German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 9 May, President Yeltsin stressed that Russia would
honor its contract to complete the nuclear power reactors in Iran, Interfax
reported the same day. Yeltsin's foreign policy aide, Dmitry Ryurikov, said the
president once again asserted the peaceful nature of the deal. Yeltsin said
Germany's positions on nuclear aid to Iran and the "Chechen problem" are not as
"tough" as those of the U.S., ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov said a
decision on supplying equipment for the nuclear power reactors to Iran would be
put off until after the 10 May summit between Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill
Clinton. While Davydov said a compromise is possible, "one should not forget
that Iran is Russia's neighbor and it is not in our interests to create
opposition on our southern borders." Davydov also confirmed that the U.S. has
"familiarized the Russian leadership with studies according to which one can
draw the conclusion that Iran intends to come closer to creating nuclear
weapons." * Michael Mihalka
YELTSIN: NO HASTY NATO EXPANSION.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin
reiterated his opposition to the hasty expansion of NATO in his talks with
British Prime Minister John Major on 9 May, Interfax reported the same day.
According to Yeltsin's foreign policy aide, Dmitri Ryurikov, the Russian
president stressed that "a solution [must] be found in the interests of Europe,
Russia, and the world as a whole." Meanwhile, Russian State Duma Chairman Ivan
Rybkin held talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 9 May about
methods for developing a collective security system in Europe based on the
OSCE. Rybkin spoke against haste in expanding NATO and added that Russian
membership in NATO would create a "lasting belt of peace from Vancouver to
Vladivostok." * Michael Mihalka
U.S.-RUSSIA ECONOMIC PACKAGE DRAFTED.
Russia has drafted an economic
package which endorses continued bilateral economic cooperation with the U.S.,
Russian Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov told Interfax on 9
May. Davydov said U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to Russia for the
upcoming summit will be significant if the U.S. continues to support Russian
economic reforms, including foreign debt restructuring and Russia's membership
in the World Trade Organization. * Thomas Sigel
GRACHEV ASSESSES THE ARMED FORCES.
In a speech at the 9 May ceremonies
on Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said the Russian
armed forces are "battleworthy, under control, and ready to defend the state
from any encroachment and guarantee the country's national security," First
Channel TV network reported. In it, he said the military should "only serve the
people and their state." While acknowledging that the confrontation of the Cold
War was a thing of the past, he cautioned that regional armed conflict is
capable of sparking another major war. As long as there is "a complex
combination of historical, territorial, political, economic, and inter-ethnic
contradictions, we must strengthen and qualitatively renew our armed forces,"
he said. * Doug Clarke
ACCUSATIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN "SLUSH FUND."
commentator Sergei Parkhomenko charged in the 30 April-7 May edition of
Moskovskie novosti that presidential security operatives are maintaining
a "slush fund" for Yeltsin's re-election campaign. Quoting anonymous sources
within the government, parliament, and counterintelligence service, Parkhomenko
said the president's "inner circle" has given up plans to cancel the elections
and is now concentrating on acquiring campaign funds. He asserted that money is
being obtained from Russia's most profitable sectors: the oil industry, the
arms trade, and the precious metals and stones industry. Parkhomenko named
Maj.-Gen. Georgy Rogozin, a close associate of presidential security service
chief Alexander Korzhakov, as the most likely head of the "slush fund." * Laura
PROSECUTOR GENERAL ISSUES ORDER ON FIGHTING EXTREMISM.
General Alexei Ilyushenko issued an order demanding "uncompromising efforts
against manifestations of fascism and other forms of political extremism,"
Interfax reported on 6 May. He urged all prosecutors to better enforce both
laws on the equality of citizens and bans on associations that call for
changing the constitutional order by force. The order also instructs
prosecutors to apply tougher measures against people who circulate fascist and
extremist materials. At the same time, Ilyushenko ordered judicial bodies and
agencies in charge of media registration to ensure stricter observance of laws
protecting freedom of the press and media, Ekho Moskvy reported. On 23 March,
Yeltsin issued a decree instructing government officials at all levels to step
up the battle against fascism in Russia. * Laura Belin
RUSSIA'S PATRIOTIC FRONT FORMED.
The fourth congress of the National
Salvation Front and the Union of Deceived Investors of the "Tibet" Concern
agreed to form a new electoral bloc called Russia's Patriotic Front, Radio
Mayak reported on 6 May. Vladimir Voronin, leader of the Tibet investors, said
the bloc will win widespread support among Russia's approximately 80 million
deceived investors, who have no chance of getting their money back under the
current regime. He said the main competition for Russia's Patriotic Front would
be Alexander Rutskoi's Derzhava movement and Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal
Democratic Party. National Salvation Front chairman Ilya Konstantinov told
Russian TV that the new bloc is preparing "scandalous actions" for the near
future, but he refused to be more specific about the group's campaign plans. *
WASHINGTON HINTS AT CFE TREATY CHANGES.
The top American arms control
official said on 8 May that the CFE treaty could be amended to meet Russian
objections if Moscow continues to comply with the pact. Reuters reported that
John Holum, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, said
Washington is "dead set" against any changes before the May 1996 review
conference, but would be receptive to "revisiting" some portions of the treaty
at that time "because of changes in the security situation." Russia has
objected to the terms which limit the amount of weapons they can deploy in the
North Caucasus Military District. Those limits go into effect in November, at
which time the Russians will almost certainly have more arms in the region than
the treaty permits. Holum speculated that discussions might be held before
November about the changes to be considered the following May, and implied that
the Americans might overlook those Russian excesses "so long as the Russians
are committed to live up to their obligations." * Doug Clarke
CONCERN ABOUT BRAIN DRAIN.
The youngest and most talented scientists are
abandoning the research sector, creating a brain drain that will have a
damaging impact on Russia, according to a 5 May report in Kuranty.
Between 1990 and 1993, the number of scientists fell by 1.2 million, or by
almost a third. Most go into business, where wages are considerably higher. In
1993, for example, the average wage for scientists was 38% lower than that in
industry. The brain drain abroad is on a smaller scale, but also significant.
The report said 34,000 scientists had emigrated over the last six years, mostly
to Israel, Germany, or the U.S. No data are available for the number working
abroad on temporary contracts, but it is likely to be higher. Spending on
scientific research and development as a percentage of national income is now a
quarter of what it was in 1985, while GNP itself has fallen by nearly half.
Fundamental research has suffered the most, with 60% of the money allocated for
it being spent on wages, leaving virtually no money to purchase equipment. *
Penny Morvant and Thomas Sigel
MORE RUSSIAN GAS TO TURKEY.
An agreement to double Russian natural gas
supplies to Turkey has been reached, Russian media reported on 9 May. Turkish
Prime Minister Tansu Ciller held talks with her Russian counterpart Viktor
Chernomyrdin in conjunction with her visit to Moscow for V-E day celebrations.
The talks focused on economic relations between the two countries with Russia
registering its willingness to increase its natural gas exports to Turkey from
nearly 5 billion cubic meters to 9.2 billion cubic meters. In addition to
announcing their mutual aim to boost bilateral trade, currently estimated at
$2.2 billion a year, Chernomyrdin assured his Turkish counterpart that Russia
had not and will not help Kurdish separatists in any way. * Lowell Bezanis
INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISES LESS PROFITABLE IN SIBERIA, FAR EAST.
majority of unprofitable industrial enterprises are located in Western Siberia,
Eastern Siberia, and the Far East, Russian Radio announced on 4 May. According
to a Russian Economics Ministry report, the unprofitable enterprises represent
30% of the entire industrial potential in those areas. In contrast, the number
of unprofitable enterprises in Northwestern Russia and Central Russia amounts
to only 18%. As for Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Moscow and Yaroslavl
regions, only 10% of industrial enterprises are unprofitable. * Thomas Sigel
FORMER PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN ARRESTED IN MOSCOW.
President Ayaz Mutalibov, who has been living in Moscow since his abortive
attempt to regain power in May 1992, was detained by Russian security services
on 7 May, Interfax reported on 9 May. Successive Azerbaijani leaderships have
demanded Mutalibov's extradition. He faces charges of complicity in the January
1990 Soviet military crackdown in Baku and the February 1992 killings of
Azerbaijanis in the Karabakh villages of Khodzhaly, and of involvement in the
alleged coup attempts of October 1994 and March 1995. * Liz Fuller
ARMENIA, IRAN SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.
Armenian Prime Minister Hrant
Bagratyan signed ten agreements on economic, technical, and political
cooperation with Iran during a four-day official visit to the country ending on
6 May, Russian and Western agencies reported. The economic agreements include
one under which Iran will supply Armenia with natural gas for a period of 20
years through a pipeline specially constructed for that purpose; Iran will also
supply electricity, according to Interfax. Armenia's energy sector has been
crippled for the past three years by repeated sabotage of the pipeline that
supplies Turkmen gas to it via Georgia. * Liz Fuller
KOZYREV: UN SUPPORTS RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPING.
Russian Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev said on 9 May that Russia's peacekeeping activities in the CIS
are getting "full support" from UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali,
Interfax reported the same day. Kozyrev said President Yeltsin pressed
Boutros-Ghali on the need for the UN to eliminate the double standard of
financing peacekeeping in Bosnia and Croatia but not in the CIS. Boutros-Ghali
said his talks with Kozyrev centered on economic issues, not peacekeeping. *
UKRAINE DEFENSE MINISTER STRESSES NEED FOR GREATER COMBAT READINESS.
During a military march marking VE-Day, Valerii Shmarov stressed the need
to increase the combat readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces as a sign of
what he called the strictly defensive nature of the former Soviet republic's
military doctrine, Interfax-Ukraine and Reuters reported on 9 May. But he added
that political measures and friendly relations with Ukraine's neighbors and
other CIS countries "united by a common history" were the key to preventing
future conflicts. "The creation of a strong, law-abiding Ukraine will be the
best memorial for those who gave their lives," Shmarov said. Unlike Moscow, the
Kiev celebrations featured no display of military hardware, only a parade of
soldiers and veterans. In western Ukraine, local radical nationalists tried to
tear up a red Soviet-era flag carried by Red Army veterans during a parade.
Veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, who fought both the Nazis and Soviet
forces, held a separate commemoration in Lviv. Crimean festivities were
disrupted as officers of the disputed Black Sea Fleet left their seats when
Ukrainian servicemen marched past. * Chrystyna Lapychak
PARADE IN BELARUS DOMINATED BY PRO-RUSSIAN SENTIMENT.
sentiment prevailed during a military parade in Minsk which marked the 50th
anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe and which took place less than a
week before elections and a referendum on greater integration with the young
country's giant neighbor, international news agencies reported on 9 May.
Thousands lined the streets carrying mainly the red flags of the ex-USSR,
overwhelming the few flags of post-Soviet Belarus. President Aleksandr
Lukashenka delivered a nostalgic address of "a unified homeland from Brest to
the Kuriles and from the Black Sea to the Barents Sea." Belarus suffered higher
proportional losses as a World War II battleground than any other European
country, with nearly 2.25 million dead out of a population of eight million. *
LATVIAN EDUCATION MINISTER RESIGNS.
Education and Science Minister Janis
Vaivads submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Maris Gailis on 8 May, BNS
reported the next day. Vaivads said he resigned because he could not fulfill
financial promises made to teachers. Chairman of the For the Homeland and
Freedom faction Maris Grinblats, who had asked for Vaivads's resignation
several weeks earlier, said that a new minister would be unlikely to resolve
the teachers' problems. Vaivads will return to the Saeima as a deputy. *
APRIL INFLATION IN THE BALTIC STATES.
The consumer price index for April
in Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia rose 1.0%, 1.4%, and 1.9%, respectively, BNS
reported on 9 May. In Estonia, the cost of services increased by 1.2% while
goods rose by 0.9% (0.6% for food and 1.5% for manufactured goods). In Latvia,
food prices rose by 0.7%, the greatest increases being for potatoes (12.1%) and
cabbage (23%). Household expenses grew by 1.3%, transport costs by 3.7%,
entertainment by 4.8%. Cumulative inflation for the first four months of 1995
was 7.9% in Estonia, 11.7% in Latvia, and 12.9% in Lithuania. * Saulius
NATO REPRESENTATIVES COMPLIMENT LITHUANIAN ARMED FORCES.
Maj. Gen. Guy
Bastien and George Katsirdaki of NATO's International Military Staff told
reporters in Vilnius that Lithuania's armed forces make a very good impression
and should be able to reach NATO standards in two or three years time, BNS
reported on 9 May. They, however, declined to speculate on the possible date
for such admission. The two were in Vilnius for an international seminar,
attended by more than 70 delegates from 22 countries, on the planning of
military exercises and the training of forces for peacekeeping, search and
rescue, and humanitarian operations. Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius said
Lithuania intends to participate in six of the 14 planned Partnership for Peace
programs. * Saulius Girnius
POLISH ARMS AND TRACTOR WORKERS ON STRIKE.
Solidarity workers at one of
Poland's most important defense plants began a strike on 9 May, Reuters
reported. Some 1,000 workers at the Pronit explosives factory in Pionki, south
of Warsaw, walked off their jobs and Solidarity warned that the strike might be
extended to other defense factories unless the government provides more aid to
the embattled arms industry. Pronit is one of four arms plants the Polish
government considers crucial to state defense. Reuters quoted Deputy Industry
Minister Roman Czerwinski as saying the strike was "illegal and
self-destructive." He said the government could not buy more arms from Polish
producers without altering the budget "and that's not going to happen." The
Polish arms industry has been hit by bans on exports to Iraq and the former
Yugoslavia and unpaid money owed by the former Soviet Union. Meanwhile, workers
at the state-owned tractor company Ursus began an indefinite strike on 8 May,
calling for the government measures to improve the firm's finances. * Doug
Clarke and Jakub Karpinski
POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ISRAEL.
Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw
Bartoszewski on 9 May began a four-day visit to Israel, during which he is
taking part in ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Allied victory in
Europe. On 9 May, he was a honorary guest at the "victory celebration" in the
Knesset courtyard, Polish media report. Bartoszewski has held honorary Israeli
citizenship since 1992; in 1963 he was awarded the title of "Righteous
Gentile." * Jakub Karpinski
CZECH PRIVATIZATION FUND OWED 4 BILLION KORUNY IN BAD DEBTS.
National Property Fund, the state holding organization for property in the
process of privatization, is owed more than four billion koruny by companies
that have passed the deadline for paying for their acquisition of businesses,
Hospodarske noviny reported on 10 May. The first list published by the
Fund shows that full or partial payment is still outstanding for 148 firms
privatized in 1992 and 1993. At least six purchasing companies or investment
funds owe more than 150 million koruny each. The total amount owing to the Fund
was estimated to stand at the end of March at 7.5 billion koruny, a reduction
of 500 million koruny from five months earlier, Hospodarske noviny
wrote. It quoted Fund official Pavel Suchy as saying publishing the list could
pressure some defaulters into paying; in some cases, the Fund has sued debtors,
filed for their liquidation or proposed canceling sale contracts. * Steve
REACTIONS TO NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN SLOVAK PRESIDENT . . .
Representatives of the Slovak opposition have expressed concern following the
parliament's no-confidence vote in Michal Kovac of 5 May, while government
parties have defended the move. On 8 May, the Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia (HZDS) presented a declaration stating that Kovac's two years in
office confirm that "he is not capable of further carrying out his duties"
because he is causing a polarization of society, his actions do not reflect
impartiality, and he has failed to respect the seriousness of the "democratic
decisions" approved by the parliament, and thus also the will of the majority
of Slovak citizens. For these reasons, the HZDS stressed that Kovac should
resign from his post, Pravda reported on 9 May. In an interview with
Pravda on 10 May, Milan Ftacnik, deputy chairman of the opposition Party
of the Democratic Left, stressed that "the first place in the polarization of
society" has long belonged to Premier and HZDS Chairman Vladimir Meciar. At a
press conference on 9 May, Ftacnik expressed concern that in the half year
since the elections, the HZDS has worked only to strengthen its own power. *
. . . WHILE CITIZENS TRUST PRESIDENT MORE THAN PARLIAMENT.
an opinion poll carried out by the Slovak Statistical Office from 20-31 March,
48% of respondents said they trusted the institution of the presidency,
compared with only 39% for the government and 35% for the parliament,
Pravda reports on 10 May. Meanwhile, 41% distrusted the president, 51%
the government and 53% the parliament. Trust in the president was higher among
residents of Slovakia's largest towns and those with more education while trust
in the parliament was higher among older people and lower among ethnic
Hungarians. * Sharon Fisher
AKASHI MEETS SERB LEADERS.
UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi on 9 May met
in Belgrade with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and heads of the
self-styled Republic of Serbian Krajina, including RSK President Milan Martic
and Premier Borislav Mikelic, Nasa Borba reports the following day.
Akashi urged Martic and the other Krajina leaders to refrain from any drastic
measures or retaliatory actions in response to Croatia's recent retaking of
territory in western Slavonia formerly under rebel Serb control (see OMRI Daily
Digest 2 May 1995). For his part, however, Martic said that conditions and
tensions were such that they "can escalate into bigger conflicts," Reuters
reported. Discussions with Milosevic were reportedly aimed at winning over the
Serbian president for the purpose of averting a wider regional conflict. * Stan
SERBS LEAVE FOR BOSNIA.
Reuters reported on 9 May that the UN moved into
the once Serb-held enclave in Croatia's western Slavonia to evacuate local
Serbs to Bosnia after "Serb leaders threatened reprisals if they were not
allowed to go." Two buses were slated to transport up to 100 people to Bosnia,
and UN officials have said they expect that many more individuals will leave,
likely causing the "evacuation program" to continue for at least several days.
Meanwhile, on 9 May Hina, citing Croatian army sources, reported that Serb
paramilitary forces some 80 kilometers southeast of Zagreb are amassing heavy
weapons and "building up troops." The news agency also reported that Bosnian
Serb forces fired three shells at targets near the Croatian city of Dubrovnik.
* Stan Markotich
According to HABENA reports of 9 May, Bosnian Serbs
shelled the northeastern Bosnian city of Tuzla that day, allegedly causing
"significant damage" but evidently no casualties. Meanwhile, international
media continue to report on fighting throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 9
May, AFP reported that representatives of the international Contact Group will
meet on 12 May, and the topic of using NATO airpower against the Bosnian Serb
side is likely to be broached. On 8 May, UN officials decided against using the
threat of airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs in response to the 7 May Serb
mortar attack on a Sarajevo suburb which resulted in 11 deaths. * Stan
RULING PARTY BACKS ILIESCU FOR NEW PRESIDENTIAL TERM.
executive chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), told
journalists on 9 May that there is a "broad opinion stream" within his party in
favor of supporting Ion Iliescu's candidature in the 1996 presidential
election. Nastase added that Iliescu's official nomination would be announced
at a future party gathering (probably the national conference). He said that
Iliescu's participation in the VE-Day Celebrations in London, Paris and Moscow
both recognized Romania's war efforts on the allies' side and acknowledged
Iliescu's "role as a national referee [in preserving] stability and social
peace in the country." Iliescu told Radio Bucharest that the celebrations in
Moscow had "the strongest political charge," including a clear message that
Russia "cannot and should not be isolated" internationally. * Dan Ionescu
FORMER KING ADDRESSES ROMANIANS.
In a message marking the 10th of May,
Romania's national day in the pre-communist era, former King Michael remembered
Romania's decision to take up arms against Nazi Germany in August 1944. The
message, which was published in several independent dailies, said that
Romanians "deserved more than they could achieve in the last five years" and
that they had the duty to carry through the democratic revival of 1944 and
1945. Michael's message was sent from London, where he took part in the VE-Day
celebrations. On 7 May, President Ion Iliescu told the Romanian Service of the
BBC he had not been upset by the British government's invitation to Michael to
take part in the ceremonies. * Dan Ionescu
VE-DAY IN BULGARIA MARKED BY POLITICAL DIFFERENCES.
in Sofia on 9 May highlighted conflicting views of Bulgaria's communist past.
dpa reported the same day that representatives of the ruling Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP) laid wreaths at the monument of the Soviet Army, while
opposition parties boycotted the ceremonies. The ambassadors of Russia,
Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, and Armenia took part in the ceremonies, which were
accompanied by Soviet military songs and chants of "eternal friendship." A BSP
statement honored the contribution of Bulgarian soldiers and partisans to the
victory over Germany, but contained no criticism of communist rule after the
war. Bulgaria was allied with Germany until September 1944, and changed sides
after being occupied by the Red Army. * Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW.
Zhelyu Zhelev and Zhan
Videnov on 9 May attended the VE-Day celebrations in Moscow, arriving
separately and following different programs, Bulgarian newspapers reported the
following day. Videnov attended the celebrations on Red Square and the military
parade at Poklonnaya Gora, and also met with Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and Ivan Rybkin, chairman of the State Duma. Zhelev, who attended
the celebrations on Red Square, met with Bulgarians living in Russia, Trud
reported. Most papers noted that the two politicians did not even greet
each other on Red Square and tried to avoid contact. * Stefan Krause
ROW BETWEEN BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT AND SOROS FUND.
A meeting on 8 May
between US businessman George Soros and Blagovest Sendov, chairman of the
National Assembly, failed to resolve a conflict over the role of the
Soros-sponsored Open Society Fund, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following
day. The parliament canceled a 42 million leva ($ 646,000) contribution to the
fund last week. The Fund's budget is $6.2 million without the government
contribution, $6 million of which is provided by Soros himself. It finances the
American University in Blagoevgrad, scholarships, scientific projects and
exchanges. Sendov was cited by 24 chasa as saying that Soros is trying
to "interfere in domestic affairs," while Education Minister Ilcho Dimitrov
told Duma that Bulgaria is thankful for any help, provided "it does not
offend our national sovereignty and honor." According to the Fund's Managing
Director Georgi Prohaski, Soros during the meeting with Sendov "expressed his
concern over some recent publications . . . which showed signs of xenophobia
and reluctance of the government to develop ties with the Western world,"
international agencies reported. Soros himself told Demokratsiya that he
will continue to finance the Fund. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov declined to meet
Soros. * Stefan Krause
GREECE DENIES TRAINING KURDISH REBELS.
Greek government spokesman
Evangelos Venizelos on 9 May denounced Turkish allegations that his country is
training Kurdish rebels, international news agencies reported on the same day.
He was replying to statements made by an alleged Kurdish rebel in Izmir on 8
May. Mehmet Kavak, who was captured along with two other suspected Kurdish
rebels, said he received two months of military training at a camp 200
kilometers from Athens. Venizelos said this is "not the first time that a Kurd
who has been arrested is forced to confess . . . that he allegedly was trained
. . . in Greece." He added that Greece "is accessible to all and is
transparent," so that "anyone can conduct a journalistic investigation here to
see what is going on." Greece has repeatedly denied Turkish claims that Kurds
are trained on its territory. * Stefan Krause
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle