OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 96, 18 May 1995
YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
President Boris Yeltsin
signed the law on presidential elections, Russian agencies reported on 17 May.
The law was rejected at first by the Federation Council, but on 21 April, the
State Duma passed an amended version, which was approved by the Council on 4
May. The law sets presidential elections for the first Sunday after the
president's term expires in June 1996. In order to register, presidential
candidates must collect one million signatures, no more than 7% of them from
any one region of the Russian Federation. Campaigns will not be publicly
funded, but candidates may create and manage their own election funds. Total
campaign expenditures may not exceed 250,000 times the minimum wage; individual
donations are limited to 50 times the minimum wage, and contributions from
legal entities are limited to 5,000 times the minimum wage. -- Laura Belin,
WOMEN OF RUSSIA TO CAMPAIGN INDEPENDENTLY.
Yekaterina Lakhova, leader of
the Duma faction Women of Russia, announced that her group will campaign for
the next parliamentary elections independently, Rossiiskie vesti
reported on 18 May. Lakhova described Women of Russia as a "centrist" movement
with its own "political niche" and a stable group of supporters. She accused
other political parties of thinking about women only "on the eve of elections."
Lakhova cited the experience of the Women's Forum, which joined Grigory
Yavlinsky's Yabloko bloc before the 1993 parliamentary elections. That group's
leaders were placed too low on the Yabloko party list and were left with no
representatives in the Duma. Lakhova said financing the campaign would be her
movement's biggest problem, since wealthy donors would be drawn to more
powerful blocs. However, she said she was confident of once again clearing the
5% barrier to enter parliament. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
ZAVERYUKHA TO REMAIN OUTSIDE CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC.
Deputy Prime Minister
Alexander Zaveryukha will stay away from the new electoral bloc set up by Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Interfax reported 17 May. He will instead work
within the Agrarian Party. Earlier, Chernomyrdin had said that all members of
the government would participate in his bloc. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
has also kept his distance from the new organization. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
RYBKIN'S CONCORD MOVEMENT SEEKS REGISTRATION.
The new Concord movement,
which is led by Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and includes the Free Russia People's
Party, the Socialist Workers' Party, and the Federation of Independent Trade
Unions, is seeking formal registration with the Justice Ministry, according to
Vasily Lipitsky, leader of the Free Russia People's Party, Interfax reported on
17 May. He also said the Russian Youth Union had affirmed its plans to join
Rybkin's alliance in a meeting with him on 17 May. According to parliamentary
sources quoted by Interfax, Rybkin participated in the founding conference of
the Concord movement on 15 May and his aide Nikolai Sakharov was elected head
of the new movement's executive council. Rybkin himself said it is still too
early to talk about the new coalition and his role in it. Mikhail Lapshin,
leader of the Agrarian Party of which Rybkin is a member, said the Duma speaker
remains on the Agrarian Party list and rumors that he would lead a left-center
bloc are an attempt to discredit him and damage the Agrarian Party, Russian
Public Television reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
GREENPEACE PROTESTS ALLEGED IMPORT OF TOXIC WASTE.
accused Russian customs authorities of letting about 1,000 tons of French toxic
waste into the country and then selling it, Interfax reported on 17 May. About
20 Greenpeace activists carrying posters saying "Foreign Waste Collection
Point" demonstrated outside the Main Customs Committee building in Moscow to
protest the alleged deal; about 10 protesters were arrested. The environmental
organization claims that waste containing a cocktail of dangerous substances
was illegally brought into the country in January 1994 and sold by customs
officials to a private firm that lacks safe storage facilities. It says the
materials must be sent back to France, which is ready to accept them, and that
the customs officials should be punished. The Customs Committee, however,
refuted the charges, saying Greenpeace has distorted the facts. It says it
uncovered poisonous waste in a cargo bound for a Urals firm in January 1994 and
confiscated it. The customs then hired a company to track down the owner and
return the waste, according to a company spokesperson cited by Western
agencies. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
CRIMES BY AND AGAINST FOREIGNERS IN MOSCOW ON THE RISE.
The number of
crimes committed by foreigners in Moscow is increasing, mostly involving drug
trafficking and extortion, police official Viktor Seroshtan told reporters on
17 May. He said 516 crimes by residents of countries outside the former Soviet
Union were reported in the first four months of the year compared with 460
during the same period in 1994, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Seroshtan blamed the increase on transparent borders with the other former
Soviet republics which allow criminals to enter Russia more easily. Foreigners
are also increasingly falling victim to crimes. So far this year, 300 crimes
against foreigners have been reported in the Russian capital, including six
murders. The number of violent crimes jumped to 259 from 141 in 1994. Seroshtan
said those doing illegal business are most at risk. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
RUSSIAN GENERALS OPPOSE PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE, AGREEMENT ON ABMs.
Russian senior military commanders oppose the agreements on anti-ballistic
missile systems (ABMs) concluded at the recent Moscow summit between Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and his U.S. counterpart Bill Clinton on anti-ballistic
missile systems (ABMs) and NATO's Partnership for Peace, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 17 May. They felt the decision to begin consultations on
ABMs could allow the U.S. to deploy "theater" systems as early as next year,
possibly providing a strategic cover for the continental U.S. The commanders
view recent military exercises between NATO and the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Poland, and Slovakia as preparations for future NATO military operations at the
beginning of a war. Sources at Russian Army headquarters also cite NATO plans
to move five divisions into the Baltic states. Russia should only cooperate
with NATO if it is allowed to base "powerful" forces along its borders, which
would require a revision of international treaties. Moreover, they believe
Russia should join NATO as an equal and be allowed to veto any decision that
conflicts with Russian interests. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
ILYUKHIN CONDEMNS SOROS FUND ACTIVITIES.
A report prepared by Duma
Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin condemning the activities of the
Soros Fund was published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 18 May. Ilyukhin cast
doubt on the "philanthropic activities" of the fund, which has spent hundreds
of millions of dollars in Russia in recent years. He charged that a number of
Soros employees are CIA agents. Ilyukhin said the fund's main function is to
train "Soros teachers" and "Soros professors" to "change the mentality of
Russian society," which he said would lead to a "terrible degradation of
societal, patriotic, and national consciousness." Ilyukhin also blamed alleged
speculation by Soros in the Russian stock market for "Black Tuesday" in October
1994, when the ruble lost approximately a quarter of its value. Ilyukhin
proposed that the Duma more strictly regulate foreign philanthropic and
commercial activities, especially in scientific fields. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
RETAIL PRICES CONTINUE TO CLIMB.
Russian retail prices increased an
average of 1.5% from 4-10 May, according to Goskomstat, Izvestiya
reported on 17 May. Food items were up 1.7%, consumer goods 1.2%, and consumer
services 1.9%. Since the beginning of the month, retail prices have increased
2.1% (food items 2.5%, consumer goods 1.2%, and consumer services 3.2%). The
average cost of a set of 19 staple items is now at 171,000 rubles ($33.52) per
person, a 1.6% increase compared to late April. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
RUBLE WEAKENS AGAINST DOLLAR AFTER 10-DAY STRENGTHENING.
ruble, which has been strengthening against the U.S. dollar since 6 May,
slipped 12 points to 5,038 rubles to $1 in MICEX trading on 17 May, the
Financial Information Agency reported the same day. Initial supply was $82.17
million and demand $102.51 million. Dealers reported that the Central Bank sold
$20.24 million and commercial banks withdrew bids for $100,000 during the
session. Analysts said the resumption of the ruble's decline was no surprise
and attributed the market environment to commercial banks selling large
quantities of currency, thus stimulating a return of ruble supplies to the
inter-bank currency market. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 96, 18 May 1995
NEW ARMENIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF APPOINTED.
Armenian President Levon
Ter-Petrossyan has appointed former Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisyan to head
the Department of State Security in place of David Shakhnazaryan, who has
resigned, Reuters reported on 17 May quoting the presidential press service.
The Armenian intelligence service had incurred considerable negative publicity
in 1994 after its agents arrested the deputy to the president's former national
security adviser. Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Arutyunyan has been appointed
acting defense minister. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
NIYAZOV IN MOSCOW.
Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov's 17-19 May
visit to Moscow is expected to result in the signing of 22 economic and
political agreements between Turkmenistan and Russia, Western and Russian media
reported on 17 May. The key document to be signed is an agreement on strategic
partnership, according to Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. In addition,
accords on the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, fuel and energy
cooperation, and various military documents are to be signed. The foreign
minister of Turkmenistan was quoted by Interfax as saying Turkmenistan
considers Russia to be "a long-term and strategic partner." The agreements
constitute a substantive shift in Turkmenistan's orientation back toward
Russia. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
ETHNIC GERMANS DEPARTING CENTRAL ASIA.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister
Nikolai Yegorov informed Interfax that the amount of ethnic Germans leaving
Kazakhstan is two times greater than the number leaving Russia, the agency
reported on 16 May. Yegorov said 112,000 Germans have moved to Russia from
other CIS countries, while 200,000 have left Russia for Germany in the first
four months of this year. Germany and Russia have pledged to allocate 53
billion rubles ($10.5 million) and DM 160 million in 1995 to improve the living
standards of ethnic Germans. In early April, German President Roman Herzog
visited Kazakhstan but failed to reach an agreement on the protection of an
estimated 550,000 ethnic Germans living there. It is unclear how many ethnic
Germans remain in Central Asia. On 3 May, Aalam reported that Kyrgyzstan's
total population is 4,499,000; how many of the 71,197 people who left the
republic in 1994 were ethnic Germans, is unclear. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
COOPERATION BETWEEN RUSSIA AND BELARUS TO FORM NEW BASIS FOR CIS.
Korotchenya, the executive secretary of the CIS, said the recent memorandum on
economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia "constitutes a qualitatively
new basis for the commonwealth," Interfax reported on 17 May. The agreement
will be signed at the summit of CIS leaders and governments scheduled to be
held in Minsk on 26 May. Korotchenya said the most important items to be
discussed at the summit include the CIS convention on human rights, which
"directly concerns Russian speakers living outside Russia," a treaty on
protecting borders with non-CIS states, and the renewal of mandates for
peacekeepers in Tajikistan and Abkhazia. Korotchenya refuted as "groundless and
false" claims by some politicians that CIS agreements "don't work" although he
did acknowledge that some of them do not work as hoped because of a lack of
"political will" among certain CIS member states. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 96, 18 May 1995
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SUPPORTS POLITICAL TRUCE OVER SEPARATION OF POWERS.
Leonid Kuchma has said he will support a political truce proposed by deputies
from six of the parliament's nine caucuses if his bill on the separation of
powers is not approved by the legislature, Interfax-Ukraine and Radio Ukraine
reported on 17 May. The three leftist caucuses are refusing to participate.
Under the pact, Kuchma and the lawmakers would agree to support the 56 articles
in the draft law already approved by a special conciliation commission composed
of legislators and administration members. Both sides would pledge to
coordinate political reform efforts, immediately approve a new government, and
speed up work on a new post-Soviet constitution. They would also declare a
moratorium on national referendums on issues related to Ukraine's territorial
integrity and on public confidence in either branch of government. Legal
specialists however, disagree whether such a pact would have legal weight.
Kuchma has repeatedly threatened to hold a non-binding plebiscite on confidence
in the parliament and president if his political reform bill fails to be
approved by legislators. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
DEVELOPMENTS IN CRIMEA.
The Crimean legislature on 17 May said it will
endorse a new Crimean constitution and submit it for Kiev's approval if more
than half of those who vote in the 25 June referendum reject the autonomous
region's 1992 constitution, Interfax-Ukraine and Ukrainian TV reported the same
day. The Ukrainian parliament demanded in April that Crimean deputies draft a
new constitution by 15 May. The Crimean legislators also voted to appeal to
local councils and send a formal proposal to Kiev to hold a national referendum
on economic and political union with Russia and Belarus. But 40 members of the
98-seat Crimean parliament recently appealed to their separatist colleagues and
to the Crimean population to respect Ukrainian law and draw up a new
constitution in order to refocus attention on the peninsula's economic crisis.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
GOVERNMENT TO PURCHASE 50% OF LATVIA'S LARGEST BANK.
Andris Piebalgs has announced that the government will take control over the
country's largest commercial bank, Banka Baltija, BNS reported on 17 May. About
a fifth of Latvia's 2.5 million residents have deposits in the bank. Three
other banks--Latintrade Bank, Latvian Deposit Bank, and Central Bank--have also
suspended operations over the last month. Saeima Budget and Finance Committee
Chairman Ojars Kehris has blamed the country's major banks for budgetary
problems. In the first quarter of 1995, only 18.2% of planned annual revenues
were collected but 23% of planned expenditures were spent. He said banks were
too interested in investing resources in currency operations rather than
securities. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISCUSS MILITARY AFFAIRS.
Lech Walesa and
Jozef Oleksy met on 17 May to discuss military and security matters, Polish and
international media reported the following day. Defense Minister Zbigniew
Okonski said after the meeting that his ministry's staff is to be cut by up to
25%. The two leaders also agreed to a truce after mutual accusations of
violating the constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11-12 May 1995).
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on 16 May that Poland is going
ahead with the sale of 100 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks to Iran, despite U.S.
pressure. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department confirmed the story but
added that Poland has agreed to halt subsequent arms sales to Tehran. He said
that the U.S. was satisfied with the outcome of discussions with Poland and
that the tank shipment "is partial fulfillment of the last remaining contract
for conventional arms sales between Poland and Iran." -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI,
EMBASSY COMPLAINS OF CZECH ANTI-RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN.
The Russian embassy in
Prague on 17 May protested that Czech media and politicians are conducting an
anti-Russian campaign that could damage relations between the two countries,
Lidove noviny reports. A statement issued by the embassy complained of a
"vociferous campaign in the worst traditions of the Cold War." The statement
was issued three days after President Vaclav Havel officially protested to
President Boris Yeltsin that troops involved in the Chechnya conflict took part
in celebrations in Moscow marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War
II in Europe, despite promises that they would not do so. The embassy statement
complained that Czech media and politicians did not wait for Yeltsin to reply
but instead "rushed to issue wide-ranging statements about relations between
the two countries." -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAKIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENT?
Slovak Premier Vladimir
Meciar, speaking on Slovak TV on 16 May, said that if he is unable to find
sufficient parliamentary support to remove President Michal Kovac or if Kovac
does not resign, he will ask the Slovak people to decide on the question in a
referendum. Christian Democratic Movement Deputy Chairman Ivan Simko told
Sme that his party is not afraid of such a referendum since Meciar would
definitely lose. Kovac responded to Meciar's statements in an address carried
by Slovak TV and Radio on 17 May in which he noted that "almost every citizen
knows how to judge" who is really "causing tensions and looking for enemies" in
society. Also on 17 May, the Association of Workers (ZRS), one of Meciar's
coalition partners, sent a statement to TASR saying that the party will not
support any further unconstitutional steps against the president. But it argued
that Kovac has violated the constitution several times and should therefore
resign. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
LEFTIST FORUM FOUNDED IN SLOVAKIA.
A new leftist political grouping was
founded in Slovakia on 17 May, Narodna obroda reports. Called the
Leftist Forum, the group includes the Social Democratic Party, the Party of the
Democratic Left, the Movement of Peasants, the Party of Labor of Slovakia
(which was formed by breakaway ZRS deputy Miroslav Kocnar), and two youth
organizations. Trade union representatives expressed interest in observer
status. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PLEBISCITE ON ELECTION OF PRESIDENT.
Hungarian parliament on 16 May rejected by 251 to 45 with 11 abstentions a
proposal to hold a referendum on electing the president by popular vote,
Nepszabadsag reported the next day. The motion was defeated on the
ground that the plebiscite would be tantamount to amending the constitution,
which stipulates that parliament elect the president. The Independent
Smallholders Party, headed by Jozsef Torgyan, had collected some 157, 000 valid
signatures demanding a referendum on the issue. According to the constitution,
a referendum must be held if it is requested by more than 100,000 people.
Torgyan charged that the parliament's decision violated existing legislation.
He said he would appeal to the Hungarian Constitutional Court. -- Edith Oltay,
HUNGARY, U.S. SIGN MILITARY RESEARCH AGREEMENT.
Minister Gyorgy Keleti and U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry on 16 May
signed a military research and development agreement, Western news agencies
reported. The agreement will allow the U.S. to use Hungary's expertise in areas
such as the detection and decontamination of nuclear, chemical, and biological
hazards. It also allows the two countries to share and protect certain secret
defense information. Keleti told reporters he hoped that the agreement will
help Hungary's bid to join NATO. Perry praised Hungary's defense technology and
said its continuing cooperation in the alliance's Partnership for Peace program
is the "best route" to full membership. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 96, 18 May 1995
CONTINUED HEAVY FIGHTING IN SARAJEVO.
International media report that
Sarajevo underwent heavy shelling on 17 May for the second consecutive day. At
least 17 people were wounded. The previous day, at least 5 were killed and 26
wounded. According to Hina, heavy weapons, including tanks and howitzers, have
been observed by UN sources, which have also "counted hundreds of detonations."
Meanwhile, serious fighting is reported to be continuing in other parts of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly in the northeastern, western, and northwestern
parts of the country. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
SECURITY COUNCIL ON CROATIAN, REBEL SERB TROOPS.
The UN Security Council
on 17 May unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Zagreb and Croatia's
rebel Krajina Serbs to withdraw their forces from UN buffer zones, Reuters
reported the following day. The resolution reportedly "notes with satisfaction"
the progress to date on troop withdrawals but demands that all troops be
removed. Croatian ambassador to the UN Mario Nobilo said that the Croatian
withdrawal is 76% complete. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 18 May reports that
UN envoy to the former Yugoslavia Yasushi Akashi met with Krajina Serb
president Milan Martic the previous day. The situation in western Slavonia was
a key item on the agenda. Martic insisted that the Krajina Serbs will not be
prepared to start a dialogue with Zagreb until Croatian troops in western
Slavonia "withdraw to the line where they were on 1 May." -- Stan Markotich,
The trial of three ethnic Albanians who participated in
a 1990 gathering to welcome U.S. Senator Bob Dole began in Pristina on 17 May,
Kosova Daily Report said the same day. The three men are accused of
"hostile activity, disturbing public order, and assaulting police officers" in
front of the Grand Hotel in Pristina on 29 August 1990. The Serbian authorities
labeled the gathering a "demonstration by Albanian separatists." One of the
accused failed to appear in court. If convicted, the three men face prison
sentences of between one and ten years. Elsewhere, Serbian police raided the
Philology Faculty of the Kosovo shadow-state university housed in a private
home in Pristina on 15 May. They beat and detained the owner of the house for
several hours. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
WORLD BANK CREDITS FOR MACEDONIA.
The World Bank on 16 May approved two
credits totaling $99 million to Macedonia "to help foster recovery" in the
republic. An $85 million loan is to be used to "bolster the government's reform
program" and "support the implementation of major reforms in the enterprise and
banking sectors, accompanied by a social safety net program." A smaller loan
worth $14 million is to be used for labor redeployment, social benefit
programs, and technical assistance for enterprise restructuring. The World Bank
Group also announced the establishment of a resident mission in Skopje. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
TENSE ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS.
Senior Ukrainian diplomats met with
Romanian officials in Bucharest on 17 May to discuss disputed borders and
ethnic minorities, international agencies reported. Ukraine rejects any
suggestion that northern Bukovina, southern Bessarabia, and the Serpent Island
off the Black Sea coast are not part of its territory. These three regions, as
well as present-day Moldova, were annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 in the
wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Ukrainain First Deputy Foreign Minister
Borys Tarasyuk told reporters in Kiev on 16 May that "any attempt to re-examine
borders . . . can only lead to tragedy." Foreign Ministry spokesman Vasile
Sofineti, at a press conference in Bucharest the same day, said recent
statements by an adviser to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma that Romania
should not be accepted as a member of NATO as long as it maintains territorial
demands on Ukraine "do not reflect reality," Radio Bucharest reported. He added
that Romania insists that Ukraine condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and that
this condemnation be included in the basic treaty with Kiev. Sofineti stressed,
however, that Romania has no territorial demands on Ukraine. -- Michael Shafir,
ILIESCU DENIES KGB LINKS.
Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 17
May denied recent allegations that President Ion Iliescu was recruited as a KGB
agent while a student in Moscow in the 1950s. The allegations were first
published by the weekly Academia Catavencu and the daily Ziua and
reiterated by Serban Sandulescu, a senator from the opposition National Peasant
Party-Christian Democratic. Sandulescu, who is also a member of a special
parliamentary commission investigating the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu's
regime in December 1989, said his information was based on data made available
to the commission. Chebeleu called the accusations "primitive fabrications" by
people known to have been "in the pay of different [secret] services." He said
that Iliescu will demand--"in line with his constitutional prerogatives"--that
the letter of the law be applied. The Penal Code provides for prison terms
between three months and three years for the defamation of state and public
officials. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT HESITANT ON TALKS WITH DUMA.
The Moldovan parliament
has not yet decided whether to accept an invitation from the Russian State Duma
to send a delegation to Moscow for discussions later this month on the future
of the 14th Army. Dumitru Diacov, chairman of the parliament's Foreign Policy
Commission, told Infotag on 16 May that the invitation was received the
previous day. Diacov said the commission has been carefully following events
related to the withdrawal of the army and was ready "for a constructive
dialogue." But he added that "we see no desire to negotiate" on the part of the
Duma. Infotag commented that the Tiraspol breakaway authorities will
"undoubtedly" accept the Duma's invitation and that their delegation will speak
against removing the 14th Army from the region and against the dismissal of Lt.
Gen. Alexander Lebed. Also on 16 May, BASA-press reported that Lebed will leave
for Moscow at the end of the week to attend parliamentary debates on the
withdrawal of the 14th Army. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. READY TO HELP PULLOUT OF 14TH ARMY.
State Department Coordinator
Joseph Presel and his deputy in charge of the new independent states, Ariel
Johnson, told Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli on 16 May that the U.S.
is favorably inclined to continue supporting democratic reforms and the
transition to a market economy in Moldova, Infotag reported on 16 May. The U.S,
delegation is also scheduled to visit Tiraspol. Interfax reported Pressel as
pledging Western aid for the withdrawal of the 14th Army. He noted that
Chisinau appeared to be more anxious to solve the problem than the Tiraspol
leaders, who nonetheless "are slowly realizing the dead-end nature of their
policy." Moldovan President Mircea Snegur told Pressel his country wanted the
withdrawal of the 14th Army to take place "as soon as possible." He also said
he would meet with Igor Smirnov, leader of the Transdniestrian breakaway
region, on 7 June to discuss a special legal status for the region. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIA PASSES TOUGHER LAW ON CRIME.
The Bulgarian parliament on 17 May
approved tougher measures against racketeering and copyright piracy, Reuters
reported the same day. Extortion is now punishable by up to 15 years in prison,
while the maximum sentence for theft of intellectual property has been raised
to five years. Courts may confiscate up to half the property of convicted
extortionists. Use of fake documents to transfer money abroad, failure to pay
taxes, and drunk driving may also carry a prison sentence under the new law.
According to police data, losses incurred by white-collar crime totaled 12
billion leva ($182 million) in 1994, up 80% on the 1993 level. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT TAKES LAND LAW TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Zhelev on 17 May asked the Constitutional Court to invalidate a recent
amendment to the land restitution law, international agencies reported the same
day. The law was passed on 14 April, but Zhelev vetoed it two weeks later,
saying it violates the constitution. Parliament overruled his veto on 10 May.
According to the amendment, land owners wishing to sell their plots must offer
them first to their neighbors and then to the state, which has to decide within
two months whether to buy it. Zhelev repeatedly threatened to take the matter
to the Constitutional Court if parliament did not take his objections into
consideration. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN GREECE.
Willy Claes, during his visit to
Athens on 16-17 May, said feuds between Greece and Turkey are undermining
NATO's efforts to strengthen its southern flank, Reuters reported on 17 May.
NATO wants to set up the headquarters of a flexible force of Greek, Turkish,
and Italian troops in the Greek town of Thessaloniki, but Ankara wants them to
be in Turkey. The dispute has prompted Turkey to block NATO's entire military
budget. Claes met with Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, President
Kostis Stephanopoulos, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, and Defense Minister
Gerasimos Arsenis. Arsenis said the present row is the result of NATO's
weakness to enforce its decisions, despite Ankara's objections. Claes left for
Turkey on 17 May to discuss the issue with Turkish officials. -- Stefan Krause,
CHIEF EDITOR OF ALBANIAN NEWSPAPER UNDER INVESTIGATION.
chief editor of the Socialist Party newspaper Zeri i Popullit, is under
investigation in connection with the disappearance in 1991 of $400,000, Koha
Jone reported on 18 May. The money was taken from a solidarity fund to buy
a printing machine for the newspaper, but the machine never materialized.
Gellci has been ordered not to leave Tirana until the end of the legal
proceedings. Gellci's predecessor, Perparim Xhixha, was recently put under
house arrest. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave