OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 94, 16 May 1995
COMMUNIST WINS KOLOMNA BY-ELECTION.
Cosmonaut Col. Gen. German Titov won
the State Duma seat in the Moscow region's 107th Kolomna constituency, Russian
and Western agencies reported on 15 May. In a crowded field of eleven
candidates, Titov won the by-election with just 44,000 votes, or 8.5% of the
ballots cast. Factory director Mikhail Guberman received about 38,000 votes
(7.3%), and former model Yelena Mavrodi, wife of the MMM investment fund chief
Sergei Mavrodi, won 26,500 votes (5.1%). Lt. Col. Stanislav Terekhov, leader of
the military dissident group Officers' Union, came in fourth with some 23,000
votes (4.4%). Ultra-nationalist Alexei Vedenkin was far behind the leaders. On
16 May, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that the Kolomna results confirmed
the Communist Party's position as the favorite before nationwide parliamentary
elections in December. The Kolomna seat was previously held by Liberal
Democratic Party deputy Sergei Skorochkin, who was murdered in February. --
Laura Belin and Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
YAVLINSKY: NO ALLIANCE WITH RUSSIA'S CHOICE.
Shattering rumors that he
had agreed to cooperate with Yegor Gaidar, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky
announced, "There will be no parliamentary electoral bloc between Yabloko and
Russia's Choice under any circumstances," Ekho Moskvy reported on 15 May. On 14
May, in a joint live appearance with Gaidar on NTV, Yavlinsky had suggested
forming a partnership of democratic forces for parliamentary and presidential
elections. Gaidar welcomed Yavlinsky's proposal as "sensible and constructive"
and said his party would discuss a possible electoral alliance with Yabloko.
However, the next day Yavlinsky ruled out a united democratic front, noting
"essential differences" between his party and Russia's Choice. -- Laura Belin,
CHUBAIS SUSPENDS MEMBERSHIP IN TWO PARTIES.
Declaring his intention to
concentrate on economic issues instead of campaign activities, First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais suspended his membership in the Russia's
Democratic Choice party and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home
Is Russia until the December parliamentary elections, Interfax reported on 15
May. The move resolves a dilemma for Chubais, who was caught between the "party
of the idea" and the "party of power," Izvestiya suggested on 16 May.
Chubais has long been one of the leading figures of Russia's Democratic Choice,
along with Yegor Gaidar, but on 29 April, as a high-ranking cabinet member, he
was named to the steering committee of Chernomyrdin's bloc. On 10 May, Gaidar
announced that his party would not join Our Home Is Russia and would consider
the question of Chubais' simultaneous participation in both parties. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.
AEROFLOT PILOTS WORK TO RULE.
The Sheremetevo pilots' union called on
its members to work to rule for a week beginning 15 May, but airline officials
say flights are operating normally, Russian and Western agencies reported. An
Aeroflot official said "more than 90% of scheduled international flights from
Moscow left according to schedule on Monday. We had only five flights delayed
for several minutes because of technical problems," Reuters reported.
Kuranty (no. 87) speculated that the central aim of the action was to
demonstrate to the company's general director that the union is still a
powerful force. The latter has staged a number of protests in recent months to
demand changes in Aeroflot's privatization plan. Two strikes announced last
month were called off at the last minute, but Aeroflot is suing the union for
damages in lost ticket sales. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
"PEOPLE'S POWER" BLOC SET UP IN KUZBASS.
Aman Tuleev, a Federation
Council deputy and chairman of the Kemerovo Oblast legislative assembly, has
set up an electoral bloc uniting various communist, agrarian, and trade union
groups in the Kuzbass, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 16 May. In an
interview with the paper, Tuleev said his aim is to combat "the party of power"
and the threat of a "powerful dictatorship of the executive over the
legislative branch." He wants to change the "anti-popular" course of reform and
restore the Soviets. Tuleev claims that funds from the state budget will be
used to support the campaign of the Kemerovo Oblast administration. He says he
has been refused permission to speak on live television. -- Penny Morvant,
YUSHENKOV CALLS FOR RUSSIAN ASSOCIATE NATO MEMBERSHIP.
chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, suggested on 15 May that Russia
should be given associate membership in NATO. Interfax quoted him as saying
such a relationship "would contribute to the formation of a new security system
in the framework of OSCE on the basis of existing NATO structures." The treaty
does not provide for associate membership and NATO governments have always
rejected such proposals. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
OSCE CONVOY FIRED ON IN CHECHNYA; CUNY'S BODY BELIEVED FOUND.
Individuals from the OSCE permanent mission in Chechnya seeking the whereabouts
of Fred Cuny, a former adviser to the Open Society Institute who has been
missing since April, came under fire from Russian units on 13 May, Hungarian
Radio reported on 15 May. Earlier reports that a member of the OSCE team had
been killed in the incident that occurred in the Shali district were later
denied, according ITAR-TASS on 14 May. Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Gabor Szentivanyi stressed that the individuals involved, including the
American member of the delegation, were acting under the auspices of the U.S.,
not the OSCE. Szentivanyi said the incident is under investigation. Meanwhile,
a body believed to be Cuny's was found near Geldugin in the Chechen Shali
region, Interfax reported on 15 May. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
GRACHEV IN CHINA; MOSCOW REGRETS CHINESE NUCLEAR TEST.
Minister Pavel Grachev is heading a high level delegation to China to discuss
military cooperation, international agencies reported on 15 May. Chinese
Defense Minister Chi Haotian hailed Grachev as "an old friend of the Chinese
army." They are scheduled to discuss the possibility of allowing Beijing to
manufacture Sukhoi-27 aircraft under license and further arms sales. Meanwhile,
the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed "regret and anxiety" that the Chinese
exploded a nuclear device on 14 May, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. The
ministry statement said China's action does not promote "a favorable atmosphere
for the multilateral Geneva talks on a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests,"
which Moscow supports. Grachev said, "Russia responded calmly to the nuclear
test, conducted by China, but is following closely the developments connected
with it." The Kazakh government has also made an official protest, according to
Reuters. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
ST. PETERSBURG ARMS PLANT IN FINANCIAL TROUBLES.
The giant Leningrad
Northern Military Complex in St. Petersburg--which produces Russia's latest
S-300 air defense system among other military products--is on the verge of
financial collapse according to an article in the latest edition of the
English-language St. Petersburg Press. The paper reported that the plant
owes 2 billion rubles ($400,000) to the local water and electric power
authorities and another 1.5 billion rubles ($300,000) to the city's pensioners'
fund. Its workers have not been paid since January and the money recently
allocated by the federal government to help pay the salaries would cover only
80% of those owed for January alone. The factory's directory said only a small
portion of the complex is operating at below normal levels "thanks to the
workers' sense of responsibility and understanding." The management has high
hopes for a project to build civilian helicopters for CIS countries if they can
raise the capital to carry it out. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
RUBLE GAINS 32 POINTS AGAINST DOLLAR.
The Russian ruble strengthened 32
points against the dollar in 15 May MICEX trading closing at 5,056 rubles to
$1, Russian and Western agencies reported. After losing more than 30% of its
value against the dollar in the first quarter, the ruble has rebounded to gain
nearly 1% and economists attribute the surge partly to moves by the Central
Bank, including a sharp tightening of banks' currency reserve requirements and
high yields on government treasury bills that make them more profitable to
invest in than the dollar. But pressures are expected to increase on the
government to loosen its monetary policy, especially from export related
industries such as oil and gas producers who lose money when the ruble rises.
Igor Doronin, a MICEX analyst, said the surging ruble could prove dangerous for
the economy if it continued, fueling inflation if people sell their
hard-currency savings and spend them. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT HIKES IMPORT DUTIES ON FOODSTUFFS . . .
government issued a resolution confirming the new import customs duties which
came into effect on 10 May, Interfax reported on 15 May. The tariff provides
for a maximum duty of 30%, except on alcohol, tobacco, and some luxury goods.
Import duties on all other goods vary from nothing to 30%. The zero duty was
"imposed" on raw materials which Russia does not have. The key feature of the
new tariff is that the import duties on food products were raised in an effort
to protect national agricultural producers from competition with cheaper
Western products. Import duties on meat and meat products were raised from 8%
to 15%, on poultry from 20% to 25%, on sausage from 8% to 20%, on butter from
15% to 20%, on fish from 5% to 10%, on white sugar from 20% to 25%, and on
vegetables from 5% to 15%. Russia set 10% import duties for roasted coffee
beans and packaged tea. Import duties on milk and dairy products remain at 15%.
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
. . . DAVYDOV DOUBTS THE EFFECTIVENESS OF IMPORT DUTIES.
Minister of Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov doubts the effectiveness of the new
import duty measures that will cause imported food prices to rise an average of
17% to 20%. In a 15 May interview with Interfax, Davydov said the move to
protect Russian food producers from foreign competitors would only be effective
if it stimulated the supply of Russian produced foodstuffs on the domestic
market. However, the persistent shortages of domestic meat, vegetable oil, and
sugar will bring about the opposite results, he said. The minister explained
that the increase in import tariffs on meat and vegetable oil in 1994 caused
prices of those products to rise and destabilized the food market. As a result,
President Yeltsin issued a directive to sharply lower customs duties on meat
and vegetable oil. Davydov said the new tariff scheme may seriously complicate
talks on Russia's membership in the GATT and the World Trade Organization
(WTO), the first round of which is to begin sometime in June. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 94, 16 May 1995
TAJIK OPPOSITION ARRIVES IN KABUL.
Tajik opposition leader Sayid Abdullo
Nuri was flown by an Afghan military helicopter to Kabul on 15 May in
preparation for a meeting with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov on 17 May,
according to Reuters. Tajik government officials including Security Minister
Saidamar Zukhurov and Deputy Foreign Minister Erik Rahmatulayev arrived in the
Afghan capital on the previous day to hold preliminary talks with the
opposition. According to a Tajik Foreign Ministry statement, the talks will
focus on socio-political stability, the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border,
and the repatriation of Tajik refugees in Afghanistan would be on the agenda.
The meeting in Kabul could lay the groundwork for the fourth round of peace
talks scheduled to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 22 May, AFP reported.
Within the last week, at least six Tajik servicemen, a Tajik police officer,
and 10 rebels were killed. Also more than 20 people were arrested in connection
with a plot to assassinate the Tajik president, Interfax reported. -- Bruce
Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
FORMER AZERBAIJANI DEFENSE MINISTER SENTENCED TO DEATH.
Minister Rahim Gaziev has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Baku court
on charges of embezzling $500,000 and surrendering the towns of Shusha and
Lachin to Armenian forces in the spring of 1992, AFP reported on 14 May quoting
Turan news agency. Gaziev was arrested in November 1993 but escaped from the
Baku prison where he was being held in September 1994. He is currently in
Moscow. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
CIS PEACEKEEPING FORCE TO REMAIN IN ABKHAZIA?
Following the UN Security
Council's decision on 11 May to extend the mandate of its 136-man observer
force in Abkhazia until January 1996, Russian Foreign Ministry officials told
Interfax on 15 May that although no firm decision had been taken on renewing
the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping troops currently deployed there under
the auspices of the CIS, "there is no talk" about their withdrawal once their
mandate expires on 15 May. Georgian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Vardiko
Nadibaidze similarly told Interfax that a proposal by the Georgian and Abkhaz
leaderships that the Russian peacekeepers remain in Abkhazia through 1995 had
been approved at the CIS Defense Ministers' April meeting in Moscow, and the
final decision would be endorsed at the CIS summit on 26 May. On 10 May,
Georgian refugees forced to flee Abkhazia in 1993 had appealed to UN
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and to the Russian and Georgian
leaderships not to extend the peacekeepers' mandate before the large-scale
repatriation of refugees begins. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 94, 16 May 1995
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
BELARUSIANS OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVE ECONOMIC INTEGRATION WITH RUSSIA.
Belarusian and international news agencies reported on 15 May that 64.7% of all
registered voters in Belarus cast ballots in the elections to the country's
first post-Soviet parliament. In the referendum on closer ties with Russia, all
four questions proposed by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka were
overwhelmingly approved: 83.1% agreed that Russian have equal status with
Belarusian as a state language; 82.4% voted in favor of Lukashenka's efforts at
economic integration with Russia; 75% supported the return of Belarus's
Soviet-era state emblem and flag, and 77.6% favored giving the president the
authority to dissolve the parliament if it violated the constitution. Only the
results of the first three questions are legally binding. ITAR-TASS reported
that only 18 out of a total 260 seats in the new parliament were filled because
of the large number of registered candidates (some 2,400). The second round of
elections, scheduled for 28 May, will limit the race to the top vote-getters in
each district. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE, BELARUS INITIAL FRIENDSHIP TREATY.
The foreign ministers of
Belarus and Ukraine initialed a bilateral friendship and cooperation treaty on
15 May in Minsk, Interfax reported the same day. Ukrainian Foreign Minister
Henadii Udovenko arrived in the Belarusian capital on 15 May for two days of
talks with his Belarusian counterpart, Uladzimir Senko. -- Chrystyna Lapychak,
UKRAINIAN EXPERTS DEVISE PLAN FOR CHORNOBYL SHUTDOWN.
director of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, told journalists that a plan
devised by Ukrainian experts on the gradual decommissioning of the facility was
being presented to the Ukrainian government on 15 May, international agencies
reported the same day. He said the timetable depended on Western financing for
construction of an alternative gas-fired power station and rebuilding a cracked
concrete sarcophagus encasing Chornobyl's fourth reactor. Parashin added that
the plan called for the gradual shutdown of the two remaining reactors, as
alternative power units were introduced to replace the 7% of energy provided by
the Chornobyl plant. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN PAYMENTS FOR DECOMMISSIONING NUCLEAR BASE IN ESTONIA.
the Estonian government special representative to Paldiski, has said that
Russia will spend 17 billion rubles ($3.4 million) on dismantling the nuclear
reactors and cleaning up environmental damage at the former submarine base, BNS
reported on 15 May. Tikk said that Russia was planning to cover one of the
reactor bodies with concrete and remove from Estonia all other remaining
equipment by the end of September, when Russian crews working at the base must
leave. Sweden and the U.S. have also promised to assist Estonia financially to
reduce the environmental damage around the base. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS ALCOHOL CONTROL LAW.
Algirdas Brazauskas has
signed the controversial alcohol control law passed by the Seimas in April, BNS
reported on 15 May. The law provides for stricter rules on liquor sales and
bans the advertising of alcohol on television, radio, and newspapers. Under the
new legislation, the sale of alcohol exceeding 100% proof as well as home-made
beer and wine is banned and no alcohol may be sold before 11:00 a.m. Only one
liquor license can be issued per 1,000 residents in urban areas and per 500 in
rural districts. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
FORMER POLISH INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS GO ON TRIAL.
officers, including General Edmund Bula, former chief of military intelligence
services, went on trial on 15 May in Warsaw charged with the illegal
destruction of intelligence files, Polish media reported. A special commission
found that some 20,000 files have been secretly destroyed since July 1989. --
Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
HAVEL PROTESTS TO YELTSIN OVER RED SQUARE PARADE.
President Vaclav Havel
on 15 May formally protested to Russian President Boris Yeltsin over the
presence of troops involved in the Chechen conflict at the 9 May parade in
Moscow marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, Czech
media reported. The protest was delivered by the head of Havel's office, Lubos
Dobrovsky, to Russian Ambassador Alexander Lebedev. While attending the Moscow
celebrations, Havel said Russian authorities broke a promise that only World
War II veterans would take part in the military parade. Havel also sent Yeltsin
a personal letter expressing deep concern about the new Russian offensive in
Chechnya and urging the Russian president to halt military operations there. --
Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS.
National Bank of Slovakia Governor
Vladimir Masar, in a report released on 15 May, said monthly inflation in April
stood at 0.4% and annual inflation at 11.2%. He also noted that the bank's
foreign currency reserves exceeded $2.3 billion by 10 May. Moody's Investors
Service on 15 May granted Slovakia an investment grade rating of Baa3. Of the
countries in the region, only the Czech Republic has a higher rating (Baa2).
Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Radio on 15 May, said the abolition
of the Czech-Slovak trade clearing agreement will not mean the devaluation of
the Slovak koruna. He also stressed that, like the Czech Republic, Slovakia is
preparing for external convertibility of its currency. -- Sharon Fisher,
TURMOIL AT HUNGARIAN TV.
Hungarian Television president Adam Horvath on
15 May announced that Janos Betlen, editor-in-chief of the major newscast, is
to be replaced, Magyar Nemzet reported. Betlen was appointed to that
post last summer, and his programs have been repeatedly criticized by the
Hungarian Socialist Party, including Prime Minister Gyula Horn, for alleged
bias and insufficient coverage of the government's views. The opposition
parties protested Betlen's dismissal and accused the government of conducting
political purges. Betlen's replacement comes in the wake of government plans to
dismiss 1,000 television personnel. While the government says the cuts are a
necessary cost-saving measure, the opposition and Hungarian TV staff believe
they are politically motivated and endanger the independence of television. --
Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
EAST EUROPEAN MINISTERS ATTEND WEU MEETING.
Foreign and defense
ministers from the six East European states that have European Union
association agreements as well as the three Baltic states attended the Western
European Union semi-annual ministerial meeting in Lisbon on 15 May,
international agencies reported the same day. The meeting agreed, among other
things, to bolster the WEU's operational capabilities. All 27 European
countries attending the meeting endorsed a report defining the new security
threats facing the continent, including unresolved border disputes, terrorism,
organized crime, migration, and proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic
missiles. The East European states are not full members of the WEU, which is
the nascent defense arm of the EU. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 94, 16 May 1995
SERBIAN OFFENSIVE STALLED IN POSAVINA.
Bosnian Serb forces regrouped on
15 May after largely failing to dent Croatian lines following a week-long
offensive. Croatian troops successfully repulsed attacks on Vidovice and
Grebnice in the Orasje area, and the Serbs withdrew "to lick their wounds," as
a UN spokesman put it to AFP. The Serbs are trying to widen the narrow Posavina
corridor that links Serbia with its conquests in Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Croatia. The Croats received support from artillery on the Croatian side of the
Sava River, but UN and Bosnian spokesmen denied Serbian media reports that the
Croats had launched a counteroffensive against Serb-held Brcko. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA TO WITHDRAW FROM UN BUFFER ZONES.
International media reported
on 16 May that Croatia's ambassador to the UN, Mario Nobilo, has assured the
Security Council that the Croatian army will complete its pull-back from buffer
areas in Sector South by 5:00 p.m. local time. The leading UN body has
repeatedly demanded such a move but did not indicate what it would do if the
Croats stay put. AFP added that President Franjo Tudjman has announced an
amnesty for 47 Croatian Serbs and a brigade commander taken prisoner during the
recapture of western Slavonia on 1-2 May. Zagreb is sensitive toward the views
of the international community on its treatment of the Serbs in the former
Sector West and is hoping to show Serbs there and elsewhere that they have
nothing to fear from the return of Croatian administration. -- Patrick Moore,
CROATIAN SERB COMMANDER OFFERS RESIGNATION.
General Milan Celeketic has
sent his resignation to Krajina Serb President Milan Martic, saying that he no
longer has "the moral force necessary" to lead his forces. Serbian and
international media said it is not clear whether Martic will accept the offer.
Celeketic's move reflects growing tensions among Krajina Serb leaders between
allies of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and those who seek to exercise
their own authority. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
MACEDONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WASHINGTON.
Blagoj Handziski on 15 May
asked the U.S. to help his country gain exemption from the international
embargo against the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported the same day. During
talks with U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry Handziski argued that Macedonia
should be excluded because it has not contributed to the reasons for the
embargo. He also expressed optimism that an agreement with Greece can be
reached, saying that in his opinion the problems will be overcome "very soon."
Perry said that the U.S. sees Macedonia as critical to the stability of the
region. If necessary, the U.S. will send additional troops to Macedonia to help
boost its security. At present, 500 U.S. soldiers are stationed in Macedonia in
the framework of a UN mission. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
MONTENEGRIN JOURNALIST JAILED.
A court in Podgorica has sentenced a
journalist from the independent weekly Monitor to two months in prison
for libel, Nasa Borba reported on 16 May. Seki Radoncic wrote an article
claiming that retired Yugoslav army General Radomir Damjanovic had managed to
obtain an expensive automobile for "little money." Radoncic is the third
Monitor journalist to be sentenced since the publication was launched,
Nasa Borba commented. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
FORMER KOSOVAR PRIME MINISTER ARRESTED.
Jusuf Zejnullahu, former prime
minister of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, was arrested in
Pristina on 13 May, Kosova Communication reported on 15 May. After the
abolition of Kosovar autonomy and the declaration of Kosovar independence in
1990, Zejnullahu headed the shadow-government until the formation of the
current coalition government in 1992. Zejnullahu was later appointed director
of the Belgrade Gama Bank's branch in Pristina. He is charged with committing
"criminal offenses of association aimed at hostile activity" in connection with
the approval of the Kosovar Constitution of Kacanik in 1990. Zejnullahu was
released on 14 May and said he has no idea why he was arrested. He added that
during his detention, he was not questioned. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GERMAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA.
Roman Herzog on 15 May began a three-day
visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. He met with his Romanian
counterpart, Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, and leaders of
opposition parties. Before his arrival, he told the press he hoped his visit
will encourage the process of reform and democratization in Romania, RFE/RL and
international agencies reported on 12 May. Herzog said that Germany will back
Romania's bid for membership in NATO and the European Union but Romania must
demonstrate that it can satisfy the conditions for membership. Reuters reported
on 15 May that at a state banquet in his honor, Herzog called for a "change in
the mentality" implanted by decades of communist rule. Without such change, he
said, the establishment of a democratic government, a market economy, and
respect for the rule of law are not possible. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
LABOR UNREST IN ROMANIA.
Workers at the Transylvanian copper works at
Abrud are continuing their wildcat strike, which began some ten days ago, Radio
Bucharest reported on 15 May. They are accusing management of violating the
collective labor contract and ignoring the need to improve work conditions.
Management has said that the strikers must return to work by 17 May or face the
temporary closure of the mine. In the Moldavian town of Botosani, a protest
action that started three months ago continues to disrupt work at the Integrata
de in company, Radio Bucharest reported on 12 May. Trade union leaders have met
in Bucharest with officials from the Ministry for Industry but have reached no
agreement on a program to save the company from bankruptcy. Health workers
demonstrated in Bucharest on 12 May demanding a pay rise and additional social
benefits. Meanwhile, employees of the Renel state electricity company and
miners in the Motru valley staged a two-hour warning strike on 15 May to
protest a government decision to link wage hikes with increased productivity.
Their trade unions have threatened a general strike for 2 June. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN POLITICIAN SURVIVES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
deputy chairman of the Moldovan parliament, survived an assassination attempt
on 12 May, Radio Bucharest reported three days later, citing Radio Moldova. The
report said a hand grenade thrown through a window into Andronic's second floor
apartment in Chisinau failed to go off. Andronic threw the grenade out of the
window. The Chisinau police commissioner is quoted as saying that the device
was found later and was still ready to go off. The National Security Ministry
has launched an investigation into the case. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN GAS AGREEMENT.
The Russian joint-stock company Gazprom
and the Moldovan state company Moldova-Gaz have signed an agreement to set up a
joint-stock company on a parity basis, Interfax reported on 15 May, citing
sources close to Gazprom. The new company will guarantee the stable supply of
Russian gas to Moldova and the transit of supplies to Central and Eastern
Europe through Moldovan pipelines, which are to be modernized. Gazprom's
contribution is to consist in canceling part of Moldova's $300 million debt for
Russian gas deliveries. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER REVEALS GOVERNMENT PROGRAM.
Zhan Videnov, at a
press conference on 15 May, revealed his government's program for the next four
years, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The five major goals
are stabilizing state institutions, promoting a market economy, increasing the
competitiveness of domestic products, forming a civil society that meets
European standards, and improving the economy and raising living standards to a
level suitable for full EU membership. The premier said his government aims at
reversing the present decline in GDP, lowering inflation from 121.9% in 1994 to
15% by 1998, and curbing unemployment. But he did not explain how the
government will implement austerity measures while limiting social costs, as it
has promised. Zemedelsko Zname accused the government of presenting "a
program in communist style," while Demokratsiya said the program
contains "nothing new." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
UPDATE ON ALBANIAN EMBARGO-BUSTING.
According to a report by German
Television on 15 May, some 500,000 liters of fuel cross the
Albanian-Montenegrin border every day. The report quoted EU sanctions monitor
Richardt Vork as saying that an estimated 40% of the fuel smuggled into rump
Yugoslavia comes from Albania. The U.S. State Department estimates that
Albanian oil imports are 50% higher than the country's needs. The reports
contradicts earlier statements by the Albanian sanctions coordinator Arben
Petrela, who said Albania's fuel imports dropped from 172,000 tons in the last
three months of 1994 to 54,000 tons in the first quarter of 1995. Albanian
Interior Minister Agron Musaraj also claims that Albanian police have seized
various trucks and other vehicles used for smuggling and have exerted tight
control over the border, international agencies reported on 15 May. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave