OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
ELECTION WATCHDOG ORGANIZATION CREATED.
Politicians from several
democratic parties and movements founded the watchdog organization "For Honest
Elections," Russian TV reported on 5 June. Yabloko member Viktor Sheinis said
the group will set up its own network of election observers to supervise vote
counting, so that the official results of the December parliamentary elections
reflect the actual voting. Yegor Gaidar of Russia's Democratic Choice, Telman
Gdlyan of the People's Party of Russia, Vasily Lipitsky of the Civic Union,
Irina Khakamada of Common Cause, and Gleb Yakunin of Democratic Russia also
helped found the watchdog group. * Laura Belin
NEW CRACKDOWN ON INFORMATION FROM CHECHNYA?
One American and two French
journalists who spent three weeks reporting from separatist-held areas in
southern Chechnya were arrested while crossing the border into Dagestan, AFP
reported on 5 June. Dagestani Interior Ministry officials reportedly told the
journalists they would be turned over to Russian military authorities.
Meanwhile, on 3 June security officers at Moscow's Sheremetevo airport searched
Democratic Union leader Valeriya Novodvorskaya and Party of Economic Freedom
chairman Konstantin Borovoi. Novodvorskaya and Borovoi were on their way to
address the European Parliament in Luxembourg, and the airport officers seized
a videocassette allegedly containing evidence of human rights violations in
Chechnya. On 5 June, the Glasnost Protection Fund denounced the government's
"illegal" attempts to control information about the Chechen events, Interfax
reported. * Laura Belin
NO LETTER FROM LEBED AT PRESIDENT'S OFFICE.
Sergei Medvedev and national security adviser Yury Bakhtin said no letter of
resignation or personal message from 14th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander
Lebed had reached the president's headquarters, Interfax reported on 5 June.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev signed Lebed's resignation letter on 1 June, and
Defense Ministry officials said they had forwarded the letter to the
president's office. Unnamed Kremlin sources told Interfax that President
Yeltsin needs more time to decide whether to accept Lebed's resignation. *
CONCILIATORY COMMISSION FAILS TO COMPROMISE ON DUMA ELECTORAL LAW.
conciliatory commission failed to agree to provisions of the Duma electoral law
in its meeting on 5 June, Interfax reported. The Federation Council
representatives agreed with the Duma proposal to maintain the current
proportion of 225 deputies elected by party list and 225 elected from
single-mandate districts, but called for a number of amendments restricting the
party lists. The upper house suggested that no region be allowed more than 30%
of the slots on the party list (to limit the number of candidates from Moscow)
and that deputies running simultaneously on the party list and in
single-mandate districts be required to gather signatures in support of their
candidacy. Candidates in the single-member districts must collect signatures
from 1% of the voters in their district. The Duma representatives agreed to the
latter proposal but refused to introduce a regional limit on party list
candidates. The commission will resume its deliberations on 8 June. * Robert
RUSSIA WANTS UN SANCTIONS ON IRAQ LIFTED.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister
Tariq Aziz met with Russian officials in Moscow on 5 June, Interfax and Western
agencies reported. Following a meeting between Aziz and Russian Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev, a high-ranking Russian diplomat said the session
produced "very positive and encouraging results." He added that Russia is
waiting "impatiently" for UN sanctions to be lifted. In the same vein, Deputy
Prime Minister Oleg Davydov noted that Russia is ready to launch $10 billion in
energy projects in Iraq as soon as sanctions are removed. The Kozyrev-Aziz
meeting focused on the forthcoming report of the UN commission for the
disarmament of Iraq, scheduled to be issued on 19 June. If the report indicates
that Iraq is making progress in compliance with UN resolutions, Russia will
urge the softening and eventual removal of sanctions, according to Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk. * Scott Parrish
RUSSIA UNEASY ABOUT POSSIBLE NATO ACTION IN BOSNIA.
Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin declared on 5 June that Russia opposes NATO
playing an "independent role" in the Bosnian conflict, Interfax reported. He
added that the UN should retain responsibility for operations in Bosnia.
Karasin's statement was the latest Russian reaction to NATO's recent decision
to create a "rapid reaction force" to protect UN peacekeepers in Bosnia. On the
same day, a Russian diplomat at the UN told Interfax that any decision to send
NATO troops to Bosnia to help the peacekeepers would have to be approved by the
UN Security Council. He also warned that Russia might use its veto power to
block such a move * Scott Parrish
DOLLAR DROPS TO TWO MONTH LOW AGAINST RUBLE.
The U.S. dollar fell to
4,900 rubles to $1 in MICEX trading on 5 June, its lowest level against the
ruble since March, Russian and Western agencies reported. Russia's Central Bank
bought $60 million to help close a gap between supply and demand. Traders
indicated that the dollar drop probably left the ruble overvalued, given high
Russian inflation rates, but the government appeared determined to talk
positively about the currency. Earlier this year the dollar rose consistently
against the ruble, breaking the 5,000 mark in April and reaching 5,130 rubles
on 29 April. After holding steady for about a week, the dollar began slipping
and fell back below the 5,000 level on 30 May. * Thomas Sigel
CHUBAIS ANNOUNCES SIGNS OF ECONOMIC STABILIZATION.
Russian First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais told regional officials from Siberia and the Far
East that Russia's economy is on the verge of stabilizing, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 5 June. The minister attributed the improvement to
decreasing inflation, rising currency reserves in the Central Bank of Russia,
and decreasing interest rates. He also noted growth in industrial output.
Meanwhile, appearing on NTV on 5 June, Central Bank Chairwoman Tatyana
Paramonova said the significant rise in the value of the ruble is due to the
government's economic policies. She denied claims that the bank was intervening
to support the ruble. * Thomas Sigel
SOCIAL PROBLEMS REMAIN.
While the government has been upbeat about
progress in financial stabilization during the first five months of the year,
it acknowledges that serious problems remain in the social sphere. According to
Rossiiskaya gazeta on 6 June, real incomes fell by almost 5% this year
in comparison with the first five months of 1994. Only 38.4% of total personal
income came from wages, compared with 52.3% from January to May 1994. The
average monthly wage ($78 in April 1995) was 11.3 times the minimum wage. The
situation was worst for workers paid from the state budget, whose wages were
often late as well as low. The richest 10% of the population receive one third
of total income, and earn 13.3 times what the poorest 10% earned (compared with
12.4 times during the same period last year.) About 45 million people live in
families whose average per capita income is below the poverty line. The number
of officially registered unemployed in May was 2.2 million, or 2.4% of the
working population. * Penny Morvant
CHUBAIS ON STOCK MARKET FRAUD.
First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais said
on 5 June that the government intends to submit to the Duma amendments to the
Criminal Code introducing criminal responsibility for stock market fraud.
Offenders will be liable to between three and eight years in prison, Interfax
reported. Chubais also said the government wants to increase the powers of the
Commission on Securities and the Stock Market. * Penny Morvant
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
REGIONAL CONFERENCE TO OPEN IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The Central Asiatic
Conference on Regional Cooperation is scheduled to begin on 12 June at the
Issyk-Kul resort area in eastern Kyrgyzstan, according to Interfax. The agenda
is scheduled to include discussions on increasing economic cooperation and
preventing political and military conflicts. Participants will include
representatives of the Russian Federation, Iran, Turkey, and UNESCO, as well as
the Central Asian republics Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and
Uzbekistan, Slovo Kyrgyzstana reported. * Bruce Pannier
TAJIK GOVERNMENT SATISFIED WITH ALMATY TALKS.
First Deputy Prime
Minister Makhmadsaid Ubaidullaiyev, the leader of the Tajik government's
delegation at the Almaty talks, said he is pleased with the results of the
latest round of negotiations between his government and the opposition,
especially on the issue of the repatriation of refugees from Afghanistan.
However, he added that "serious disagreements" persist in other areas.
Ubaidullaiyev reiterated the government's unwillingness to share power with the
opposition and called the opposition's demand for the removal of troops from
the Gorno-Badakhshan region "unacceptable." He added, "We have been increasing
and will be increasing our presence in Gorno-Badakhshan," according to
Interfax. On 20 July the two sides will begin exchanging prisoners of war, on a
one-for-one basis. For "humanitarian" reasons, the government has suspended the
death sentences of some opposition members until the peace talks are concluded.
* Bruce Pannier
SECURITY COOPERATION BETWEEN AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA.
Security Minister Namig Abbasov and Russian Federal Security Service director
Sergei Stepashin signed a cooperation agreement on 1 June, Interfax reported.
The document provides for both countries to cooperate in personnel training,
fighting organized crime and drug trafficking, and the establishment of a joint
data bank. Abbasov praised Russia's arrest of Nusret Bugdanov, allegedly a
close associate of Suret Huseinov, for complicity in an attempted overthrow of
the present government of Azerbaijan; he also hoped the new agreement will be
instrumental in extraditing former top Azerbaijani officials residing in
Moscow. However, Stepashin said Russia's prosecutor general must issue warrants
before any further arrests can be made. * Lowell Bezanis
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev is reported to
have told Stepashin that he hoped the security agreement signed in Baku would
contribute to bilateral cooperation with Russia in every field, Interfax
reported on 5 June. Praising the CIS security cooperation agreement recently
signed in Georgia, Aliyev called for enhanced intra-CIS security cooperation and
indicated that those who viewed the CIS as a non-starter were mistaken. He also
said the CIS should evolve into a "kind of state," according to Interfax. The
agreement itself and Aliev's comments represent a shift in Baku's earlier
reluctant stance on CIS integration efforts and Russian regional and security
interests. * Lowell Bezanis
RAKHMONOV, KARIMOV TANGLE?
Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his Tajik
counterpart, Imomali Rakhmonov, were involved in "intense polemics" at the 26
May Minsk CIS summit, Segodnya reported on 30 May. Karimov called on
Rakhmonov to show greater flexibility to reach a compromise with the opposition
and said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was of the same opinion.
According to Segodnya, Karimov told Rakhmonov "you should share your
authority." Rakhmonov defended the constitutional nature of his rule and
rejected outside interference. He said he had a "tough talk" with Tajik
opposition leader Abdullah Nuri in Kabul last month and insinuated that
mercenaries from Uzbekistan were fighting on the side of the rebels, according
to Segodnya. * Lowell Bezanis
CENTRAL ASIA, JAPAN AND GAS.
Uzbek officials and the director of Japan's
Mitsubishi Corporation, Sinroku Morohase, held talks on the construction of a
natural gas pipeline that will run through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, the
Korean Peninsula, and Japan, Interfax reported on 5 June. Construction is
expected to begin in the year 2000; the total estimated cost of the
project--which will move 18 billion cubic meters of gas per year initially--is
$9.5 billion. Morohase held talks with Uzbekistan's deputy prime ministers
Kayum Khakkulov and Utkur Sultanov and President Karimov on the pipeline
project and joint Uzbek-Japanese projects to modernize the Almalyk mining
combine in the Tashkent province. He told Karimov Japan holds a positive view
of Uzbekistan's "special" reform path. * Lowell Bezanis
BLACK SEA FLEET APPARENTLY SHRINKNG.
The headquarters of the Black Sea
Fleet on 5 June gave Interfax a breakdown of the fleet's strength, indicating
that the fleet had lost nearly one-third of its most powerful assets during the
past year. The inventory of all combat ships and support vessels totaled 840
compared with 894 counted in April 1994. In both years, the vast majority of
the fleet was made up of support vessels and small, auxiliary ships. * Doug
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES ANOTHER DECREE ON REFERENDUM.
has issued a decree reconfirming his intent to hold a legally non-binding
plebiscite on confidence in himself and the parliament on 28 June, Radio
Ukraine reported on 5 June. The referendum is aimed at ending a protracted
dispute between the president and the legislature over the law on the
separation of powers, which would enable Kuchma to implement economic reforms.
Kuchma said the parliament's 31 May veto of his recent decree on the poll was
direct and unconstitutional interference in his authority. He added that the
poll did not contravene the constitution, as claimed by the divided
legislature. Kuchma also said the poll would be financed from the government's
reserve fund, not from the state budget. But in a conciliatory gesture, the
Ukrainian leader also sent an appeal to the parliament to support a proposal
that lawmakers review a draft of the so-called "constitutional agreement"
allowing the political reform law to take effect. * Chrystyna Lapychak
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS IN UKRAINE.
Kuchma told farmers in Cherkasy over
the weekend that Ukraine's new currency, the hryvna, will be introduced this
fall, perhaps as early as September, Reuters and Ukrainian Television reported
on 5 June. He noted that the precise date will be determined once Ukraine
establishes a $1.5 billion stabilization fund to back the currency. He also
said the fact that the karbovanets has stabilized at around 150,000 karbovantsi
to $1 may allow Ukraine to proceed with monetary reform. Interfax-Ukraine
reported on 5 June that the monthly inflation rate dropped to 4.6% in May.
Inflation has fallen steadily this year since reaching a high of 21.2% in
January. * Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR ABOLITION OF LOCAL COUNCILS.
Lukashenka has said both local government and the economy need to be reformed,
Interfax reported 5 June. He said that when a new parliament is elected, he
will ask it to amend legislation on local government to abolish village, town,
and district councils. Lukashenka added that if the newly elected deputies are
opposed to such a move, he will alter the territorial division of the country
by decree. He also said that not one factory in Belarus has been privatized
without his consent since he was elected. * Chrystyna Lapychak
ESTONIA, IRELAND DISCUSS VISA-FREE TRAVEL.
Estonian Prime Minister Tiit
Vahi on 5 June discussed with Irish Ambassador to Estonia Daithi O'Ceallaigh
establishing visa-free travel between Estonia and Ireland, BNS reported.
O'Ceallaigh, who lives in Helsinki, is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Riiva
Sinijarv and Minister for European Affairs Endel Lippmaa during his five-day
visit to Estonia. O'Ceallaigh displayed interest in Estonia's relations with
Russia, particularly the border issue, and in the implementation of market
economy reforms. * Saulius Girnius
SWEDEN LIKELY TO RETURN TAMIL REFUGEES TO LITHUANIA.
Bjorn Weibo, head
of the Swedish immigration board, said on 4 June that 29 Tamil refugees picked
up the previous day on a 10-meter yacht adrift off the Swedish coast were
likely to be returned to Lithuania, Western agencies reported. Swedish police
arrested two Lithuanians on the yacht and charged them with smuggling illegal
immigrants. Sweden is reluctant to return other refugees to Lithuania, fearing
that they will be sent back to their native countries, where they risk
persecution. Sweden, however, does not consider Tamils to be at risk in Sri
Lanka and may try to discourage other refugees by sending them back to
Lithuania. * Saulius Girnius
POSTCOMMUNISTS GAIN SUPPORT IN POLAND.
The postcommunist Democratic Left
Alliance (SLD) is gaining popularity. In an opinion poll conducted in mid-May
and published by Gazeta Wyborcza on 6 June, the SLD received 25% of the
vote. Other political parties have seen their popularity dwindle. The Freedom
Union won 9%, the Polish Peasant Party 8%, the Labor Union 7%, and Solidarity
6%. If elections had been held in mid-May and the electoral law had remained
unchanged, the SLD would have won a majority of 240 seats in the 460-seat Sejm.
* Jakub Karpinski
UPDATE ON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IN POLAND.
Aleksander Hall, leader of
the Conservative Party, which is supporting Supreme Court President Adam
Strzembosz's candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections, has called on
other right-of-center candidates to withdraw from the race because, he says,
they are only dividing the post-Solidarity electorate, Gazeta Wyborcza
reported on 6 June. Strzembosz, like incumbent President Lech Walesa, has
received about 8% of the vote in recent opinion polls. Some right-of-center
parties regard Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz as a
possible candidate, but only if Walesa withdraws from the race. * Jakub
INFLATION IN POLAND.
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, president of the Polish
National Bank, said on 5 June that the government's wage- and price-curbing
measures should keep the annual inflation rate this year to about 20%, Western
agencies reported. Gazeta Wyborcza commented, however, that this
prospect is becoming "more and more unreal." * Jakub Karpinski
CZECH POLICE RAID "ECSTASY" FACTORY.
Police last week raided a secret
drugs laboratory on the outskirts of Prague and confiscated materials that
could have been used to produce "ecstasy" tablets worth 300 million koruny,
Czech media reported on 6 June. Five Czechs and three Dutch citizens were
arrested and some 700 kilos of raw materials, sufficient to manufacture 35
million "ecstasy" tablets, were seized, The raid, which followed 18 months of
surveillance, was the largest drugs bust since the Czech Republic gained
independence, according to police spokesmen. * Steve Kettle
SLOVAK PRESIDENT ON COLLECTIVE MINORITY RIGHTS.
Michal Kovac on 5 June
told OSCE High Commissioner for Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel that
Slovakia will not grant collective rights to ethnic minorities, Narodna
Obroda reported the next day. The president noted that Slovakia wants
instead to "stabilize and strengthen individual rights." Van der Stoel is on a
three-day visit to Slovakia to discuss the Slovak-Hungarian treaty and minority
issues. Kovac assured the high commissioner that he would oppose any efforts to
forcibly assimilate not only ethnic Hungarians but also Slovaks who live in
regions where ethnic Hungarians constitute a majority. Both politicians agreed
that the fears of Hungarian minority representatives in Slovakia are
occasionally "exaggerated." Van der Stoel also met with Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar, to whom he expressed his satisfaction over the signing of the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty. * Jiri Pehe
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 109, 6 June 1995
KARADZIC HAS "NO IMMEDIATE PLANS" TO FREE HOSTAGES.
The foreign and
defense ministers of Greece met in Pale with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karadzic on 5 June to persuade him to release the more than 250 remaining
hostages. Greece is one of the Serbs' few friends, and it regards Serbia as an
important market and an ally in the regional balance of power. Also present was
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's security chief, Jovica Stanisic, who
said later that Karadzic "responded positively" to the appeals, news agencies
reported. The VOA on 6 June, however, quoted the Bosnian Serb leader as saying
he has "no immediate plans" to free his captives. * Patrick Moore
BALKAN POKER GAME CONTINUES.
The Greek ministers are holding talks with
Milosevic in Belgrade on 6 June, international media reported. The BBC said the
previous day that Western diplomats in the Serbian capital now feel that
Milosevic has no real interest in the hostage question, except as a means of
obtaining more concessions from the international community over the lifting of
sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro. The VOA quoted Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic as warning against cutting deals with the Serbian strongman, saying
the only way to deal with the Serbs is with firmness. * Patrick Moore
RAPID REACTION FORCE FACES HURDLES.
The RRF proposed by Western defense
chiefs still needs to have its role and command structure clarified. It must
also overcome Russian objections to an "independent" NATO presence in Bosnia,
because Moscow can veto the project in the Security Council and is determined
to maintain a check on the Western presence in the former Yugoslavia.
Vjesnik on 6 June quoted Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic as telling
Sarajevans not to expect much from the new force because "these troops are not
coming to defend us." Meanwhile in Washington, officials have no firm evidence
that the pilot shot down by the Serbs on 2 June is still alive. President
Clinton defended his Bosnian policy on CNN, saying that it is not as successful
as he would have liked but that it is responsible for the decrease in
fatalities in the embattled republic. The VOA quoted Vice President Al Gore as
stating that the sending of U.S. ground troops to Bosnia "is not going to
happen." International media added that 3,500 troops and 100 helicopters are
moving from U.S. bases in Germany to Italy for a possible rescue operation for
UN peacekeepers. * Patrick Moore
CROATS CAN SHELL VITAL SERBIAN ROAD.
Nasa Borba on 6 June
reported that Croatian artillery in the Dinara range can now hit the key supply
road linking Knin with Bosnian Serb territory via Grahovo. Krajina leaders have
threatened to shell Dalmatian cities in response. Vjesnik noted that
Bosnian Serbs hit Mostar the previous day with heavy artillery. Reuters quoted
a UN spokesman as saying the Croatian advance in recent days has put the Serbs
into "a panic mobilization." Zagreb has promised the UN that it will not invade
the area outright, but it appears clear that Croatia is following up on last
month's victory in western Slavonia and taking advantage of the current Bosnian
crisis. Nasa Borba reported that Milosevic has expressed concern over
the latest developments to UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi. * Patrick Moore
U.S. REPORT ON GREEK SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS.
A State Department report
published on 5 June suggests that companies in Greece have promoted the
breaking of international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, AFP and
Reuters reported. But it also states that officials in Athens have not been
linked to sanctions-breaking activities. "Although we cannot confirm
allegations of complicity by the Greek government in the evasion of UN
sanctions, there are areas of concern regarding Greek enforcement of
sanctions," a State Department official said. A report on Greece's enforcement
of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia was requested by the U.S. Congress
prior to the release of U.S. military aid to Athens. * Stan Markotich
ROMANIAN STRIKE UPDATE.
All electricity power plants in Romania
continued to operate on 5 June, despite the strike by some 37,000 utility
workers, Radio Bucharest reported. Their functioning was secured by the last
pre-strike shift, which at some plants worked for more than 30 hours. Romanian
law forbids a shift in a power plant to leave before the next one takes over.
Victor Romert, director of the state electricity company Renel, told Radio
Bucharest that the company was seeking a solution whereby workers would receive
a "reasonable" wage increase, presumably meaning less than the 20% demanded by
the strikers. Pavel Todoran, leader of the National Confederation of Romania's
Free Trade Unions-The Brotherhood, said the unions plan protest marches and a
big rally in Bucharest on 14 June. * Dan Ionescu
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN IN BUCHAREST.
A Slovak parliamentary
delegation headed by Ivan Gasparovic was received by Adrian Nastase, chairman
of Romania's Chamber of Deputies, on 5 June. Radio Bucharest reported that the
talks focused on the bilateral treaty recently signed by Slovakia and Hungary.
That document includes an explicit reference to Council of Europe
Recommendation No. 1201 on ethnic minorities. Gasparovic told his hosts that
Slovakia clarified its stand on Hungary's interpretation of the recommendation
in an annex to the treaty. Nastase said Romania might accept a similar
statement in its bilateral treaty with Hungary if the articles providing for
territorial autonomy and collective rights for minorities were approved. In a
related development, Senator Adrian Paunescu of the Socialist Labor Party
threatened to quit parliamentary life if the government accepted Recommendation
No. 1201. * Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES YELTSIN'S SPECIAL ENVOY.
Mircea Snegur on 5
June received Vladlen Vasev, a special envoy of Russian President Boris
Yeltsin, Interfax reported. The two men discussed the situation in Moldova's
breakaway Dniester region. Snegur is scheduled to meet with the Dniester
leadership on 7 June to discuss a draft law defining the region's special
status within the Republic of Moldova. Vasev will participate in those
negotiations. Meanwhile, Interfax announced that Snegur will meet with Yeltsin
in Moscow in late June. The summit is expected to focus on ways to implement a
Moldovan-Russian agreement on the 14th Russian Army's withdrawal from eastern
Moldova, initialed in October 1994. * Dan Ionescu
BULGARIA FAVORS NEW BALKAN OIL PIPELINE.
The Bulgarian Construction
Ministry is in favor of a new pipeline to help transport oil from former Soviet
republics to Italy via the Balkans. A feasibility study for the pipeline is
being prepared, Reuters reported on 5 June. The crude would be carried from
Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan by tanker to Bulgaria's Black Sea port of
Burgas and then transported to Italy's Adriatic port of Brindisi via Bulgaria,
Macedonia, and Albania. Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece are also considering
carrying oil by tanker from Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk to Burgas
and then pumping it overland to Greece. * Fabian Schmidt
SOUTH AFRICA AND BULGARIA SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.
South Africa and
Bulgaria on 5 June signed three cooperation pacts, including an agreement to
expand relations in art, sport, and science. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski is on a three-day visit to South Africa at the invitation of South
African Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo, Reuters reported on 5 June. * Fabian
PROSECUTOR WANTS THREE-YEAR PRISON TERM FOR ALBANIAN DICTATOR'S SON.
Albanian prosecutor on 5 June requested that Ilir Hoxha be sentenced to three
years in jail for calling the Albanian government "a pack of vandals," AFP
reported the same day. The youngest son of former communist dictator Enver
Hoxha is charged with inciting hatred against various groups of people and
calling for the use of violence against them. The charges follow remarks Hoxha
made in an interview with the newspaper Modeste in April. AFP quotes the
prosecutor as saying that "Hoxha has rekindled old passions in a bid to cause
political chaos and call for vengeance." Hoxha reportedly has sought to justify
his comments by saying "It is my duty to defend my father." * Fabian Schmidt
GREEK, TURKISH NAVY MANEUVERS.
The Greek navy began annual maneuvers on
5 June, AFP reported the same day. The five-day exercise in the Aegean Sea
involves ships and submarines backed up by air and ground units. The Turkish
navy will also hold maneuvers from 7-22 June in other parts of the Aegean Sea.
Relations between Greece and Turkey deteriorated following the Greek
parliament's recent decision to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,
which allows Greece to extend its territorial waters. Meanwhile, for the first
time since 1974, both countries will be taking part together in a NATO
exercise. Other countries participating in the maneuvers, which will take place
from 7-13 June in the Black Sea, are Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, and
Romania. * Fabian Schmidt
ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE IN GREECE.
Greece recorded a "strong" off-shore
earthquake early on 5 June in the Ionian Sea, AFP reported the same day. The
quake reached 4.8 on the Richter scale and is the latest in a series of tremors
over the past few weeks. It took place near the island of Lefkas and was also
felt on the islands of Corfu, Zante, and Cephalonia. There were no reports of
casualties or damage. A big quake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale caused
widespread damage in northwestern Greece on 13 May. * Fabian Schmidt
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave