OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 215, 3 November 1995
ST. PETERSBURG METROPOLITAN IOANN DIES.
St. Petersburg Metropolitan
Ioann died of a heart attack in his apartment on 2 November,
Ekspress-khronika reported. He was 68. Ioann became metropolitan on 20
July 1990. Since September 1992, he has published a series of articles in
extreme Communist and nationalist newspapers such as Sovetskaya Rossiya
and Den. He denounced "the imperialist West" and "money-grubbers" who
"ravage and sell out Russia." He supported building a strongly centralized
state and rejected nations' right to self-determination. He wanted to
reintegrate Ukraine and Belarus into Russia, supported friendly ties with all
Slavic countries, and sought to limit Russian participation in international
organizations. One of his aides is the third candidate on Aleksandr Rutskoi's
Derzhava party list. -- Robert Orttung
CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES BACKS AWAY FROM ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS.
The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) will not cooperate with the
Communists in the single-member districts, according to KRO spokesman Vladimir
Klimov. Klimov said that taking such a step now that the campaign has already
started would be a "tactical mistake," Interfax reported on 2 November.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov clarified his statements from the day
before, saying that an alliance could only take place after the elections. He
also expressed concern about disagreements within the KRO leadership, Russian
TV reported. -- Robert Orttung
CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS WITH ZYUGANOV.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin met
with Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov
as part of a series of
meetings with Duma faction leaders, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 2
November. Zyuganov said that they discussed their mutual interest in opposing
groups who want to discredit the electoral law or foil the elections. They also
discussed the state of affairs in Russia's provinces and possible disturbances
as the Communists mark the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution on 7
November. -- Robert Orttung
DUMA DEPUTIES TRY TO AMEND ELECTORAL LAW. . .
Duma deputies Irina
Khakamada and Vyacheslav Nikonov are leading a charge to revise the electoral
law before December's parliamentary elections, Russian media reported on 2
November. They want to lower the 5% minimum of votes required to gain Duma
representation from party lists and introduce a second round in the 225
single-member districts to prevent candidates from winning with a plurality of
just 10-15% of the vote. Nikonov said so many parties have been registered for
elections (at least 35 so far) that the majority of votes may be
wasted. Earlier this year, Khakamada split from Forward, Russia! leader Boris
Fedorov, and her Common Cause movement is running for the Duma independently.
However, she said the law itself, not political parties, is the root of the
problem, adding that "if you let a goat into your garden and it eats all your
cabbage, the goat cannot be blamed." -- Laura Belin
. . . AND CHALLENGE LAW'S LEGALITY IN COURT.
An appeal on the legality
of the electoral law, signed by more than 90 Duma deputies, will be submitted
to the Constitutional Court within two days, centrist Duma deputy Vyacheslav
Nikonov told Interfax on 2 November. In particular, the deputies are
questioning whether the law's provision granting the Central Electoral
Commission "legislative and judicial powers" is consistent with the
constitutional principle of separation of powers. -- Laura Belin
ZHIRINOVSKY ACCUSES GAIDAR'S BLOC OF BREAKING CAMPAIGN RULES.
Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky filed a complaint with
the Central Electoral Commission against Yegor Gaidar's electoral bloc,
Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats, Russian TV reported on 2 November.
He charged that a grocery store in Moscow has been using posters for Gaidar's
bloc to wrap customers' purchases, even though the electoral law requires
parties to refrain from campaigning until they are officially registered
(Gaidar's bloc was registered on 30 October). The commission forwarded
Zhirinovsky's complaint to the Moscow Electoral Commission to verify the facts,
Interfax reported. -- Laura Belin
TENSION HIGH IN CHECHNYA.
Despite sniper fire,
defused a 36 kg bomb in the Presidential Palace in Grozny on 2 November,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Russian Public TV (ORT) quoted Federal
Security Service (FSB) officials as saying the bomb was intended to inflict
casualties on the large crowd of pro-independence demonstrators that gathers
daily outside the palace. Meanwhile, the commander of federal forces in
Chechnya, General Anatolii Shkirko, accused Chechen military negotiator Aslan
Maskhadov of complicity in the recent attack on a Russian military convoy near
Vedeno, which killed 18. Shkirko suspended further talks on implementing the 30
July military accord. One Russian soldier was killed and two wounded in 28
attacks on federal positions on 2 November, ORT reported. -- Scott Parrish
CIS DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW.
Defense ministers from all CIS
members except Georgia and Moldova attended the 2 November session in Moscow to
discuss military-technical cooperation, peacekeeper training, and the situation
in Tajikistan, Russian agencies reported. Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev subsequently announced an agreement on assisting Georgia, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan to upgrade their air defense
systems. This agreement implements a 10 February 1995 decision made in Almaty
to create a unified CIS air defense system. Moldova, Azerbaijan, and
Turkmenistan are still refusing to participate in the system. Grachev also
pointedly said that if NATO expands eastward, Russia will be forced to look
elsewhere for military allies: in the CIS, the Far East, and the Middle East.
-- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA AGAIN THREATENS UNILATERAL ACTION IN CASPIAN.
diplomat at the Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Russian threats to take
unilateral action to prevent "unlawful" use of the Caspian Sea, Interfax
reported on 2 November. The diplomat accused Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan of
taking unilateral actions to illegally seize natural resources in the Caspian
basin and said Russia would take action to block those moves if the two
countries did not show willingness to discuss the joint use of Caspian basin
resources by all five littoral states, a position which he said is supported by
Russia, Iran, and Turkmenistan. -- Scott Parrish
CHERNOMYRDIN APPROVES DRAFT DECREE ON COMPENSATION FOR DECEIVED
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin approved a draft
document on compensation for depositors deceived by financial companies,
Russian agencies reported on 2 November. The matter concerns about 883
financial pyramid schemes which attracted the public's money without license
from Russia's Central Bank. About 30 million citizens participated in these
operations, losing 2 trillion rubles ($444 million). The decree calls for the
creation of a state compensation fund to offset the damage to the deceived
depositors. -- Thomas Sigel
YELTSIN DELAYS SALE OF PLEDGED SHAREHOLDINGS.
President Boris Yeltsin
signed a decree on 2 November that only allows those holding shares pledged as
collateral to sell them after 1 September 1996, Russian agencies reported the
same day. The decree is aimed at preventing the stock market from being flooded
with shares. Meanwhile, Russia's State Property Committee and the Federal
Property Fund issued a press release refuting press reports that it intends to
accept bids for an investment tender and an auction on the transfer of 78% of
the federally owned shares as collateral under the shares-for-equity-scheme,
Radio Rossii and Interfax reported on 2 November (see OMRI Daily Digest,
1 November 1995). -- Thomas Sigel
FEDERAL FIRE SERVICE ANNOUNCES STATISTICS.
There were over 320,000 fires
in 1994, the Federal Fire Service said on 2 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The
blazes killed 16,000 people, destroyed 70,000 buildings, and caused about 22
trillion rubles ($4.9 billion) in damage. The service said that petrochemical
and natural gas facilities have grown increasingly vulnerable to fires. For
example, on 2 November, a natural gas pipeline exploded in the Ural city of
Yekaterinburg. Officials blamed the accident on aging equipment and said the
pipeline received no repairs since it was built 16 years ago. -- Thomas Sigel
IMPORTED DUTY RISE FOR TOBACCO, CUT ON CARS.
Russia will increase excise
taxes for imported tobacco goods from 1.2 to 2 ecu (1.296 ecu/$1) per 1,000
units from 1 December 1995, Interfax reported on 2 November. Meanwhile, the
excise rate for imported cars was lowered from 35-70% to 10-25% of their
customs value, depending upon the engine size. -- Thomas Sigel
BUDGET COMMISSION PROPOSES RAISE IN NATURAL GAS EXPORT TAX.
Duma/Federation Council budget commission voted to increase the natural gas
export duty from 2 ecu to 5 ecu per 1,000 cubic meters starting next year,
Interfax reported on 2 November. The commission also rejected the government's
proposals to drop the export tariff on crude oil from 20 ecu to 10 ecu and
raise the oil excise duty. The increase in gas tariffs could trigger
retaliatory action by Gazprom, such as a cut in gas deliveries to Western
Europe. The director of the Finance Ministry's Hard Currency Department, Vadim
Volkov, claimed the decision to leave oil export tariffs unchanged may further
weaken the position of Russian oil exporters, who currently lose $6-7 on each
metric ton of oil. -- Natalia Gurushina
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 215, 3 November 1995
LUKOIL JOINS THE CHEVRON-TENGIZ DEAL.
Russia's largest oil company,
LUKoil, has joined the Tengizchevroil joint venture between Kazakhstan and
according to a PIA-Interfax report. LUKoil is seeking a 20%
share in the Tengizchevroil deal--10% each from Kazakhstan and Chevron. LUKoil
is expected to give Tengizchevroil a part of its oil export quota in return or
else make concessions to Chevron in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC).
Chevron is seeking to join the CPC founded by Russia, Kazakhstan, and Oman to
deliver Tengiz oil to a Russian port on the Black Sea. Kazakhstan recently
suspended Oman's participation in the CPC due to that country's failure to meet
its financial obligations. -- Bhavna Dave
TAJIK DEPUTY ARRESTED.
Interfax reported that Khuja Karimov, former
field commander in the Popular Front and member of parliament, was arrested on
2 November. Karimov is accused of several murders in 1993. Police found a
number of weapons in Karimov's house including two grenade launchers, ITAR-TASS
reported. Karimov was stripped of his parliamentary immunity allowing police to
pick him up in the parliament building. Also arrested were his body guard and
driver. -- Bruce Pannier
NEW COMMANDER FOR TAJIK PEACEKEEPERS.
The Council of CIS Defense
Ministers have replaced Lt. Gen. Valentin Bobryshev as Commander of the
peacekeeping force in Tajikistan, according to a 2 November Interfax report.
Taking Bobryshev's place will be Lt. Gen. Viktor Zavarzin. The new commander
faces a difficult task. Shelling of border guard positions from Afghanistan
increased dramatically during October as did the incidence of attacks by small
armed bands of the opposition. At the start of October, eight border guards
were killed and six wounded on the outskirts of Khorog, near the Afghan border.
Zavarzin's new position is expected to be approved at a meeting of CIS heads of
state in late November. -- Bruce Pannier
SALARIES AND ELECTIONS IN GEORGIA.
The Georgian government has raised
salaries on the eve of elections. Salaries are to range from 6 to 25 lari
(approximately $5-$20) a month; defense, law enforcement, and other officials
have received a 10% pay hike, those working in state run organizations and
veterans rose by 50%, Georgian TV reported on 1 November. In other news,
opinion polls conducted by the Georgian Academy of Sciences institute of
demography at the end of October found that 70% of respondents planned to vote
for Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze and his party, the Citizens' Union of
Georgia. Dzhumber Patiashvili, former Georgian Communist Party boss, ran second
to Shevardnadze with 9% support. -- Lowell Bezanis
RAILWAYS FOR GEORGIA?
Russia has pledged to reconstruct the Abkhaz
section of a railway linking Russia and Georgia at a cost of more than 10
billion rubles, Interfax reported on 2 November. Two days before, Georgian
parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze confirmed that Turkey had offered to
build a 100 km railway line that would run through the town of Akhalkalaki. --
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 215, 3 November 1995
UKRAINIAN-G7 TALKS FAIL TO RESOLVE CHORNOBYL CLOSURE.
agencies on 2 November reported that talks in Kiev between Ukraine and the G7
on a timetable and financing for Chornobyl's closure broke down without any
agreements being signed. Ukraine demanded a precise financing schedule listing
the exact sum each country is to contribute, the dates the money is to be
released, and through which banks. The G7 countries, for their part, wanted a
precise timetable for Chornobyl's closure. The G7 package promises $1.8 billion
in loans to Ukraine and a further $450 million in grants. Ukraine is to
contribute $900 million. The money is to be spent on launching two new reactors
and modernizing Ukraine's energy sector. -- Ustina Markus
CRIMEAN TATARS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE.
Ten members of the Crimean Tatar
caucus in the Crimean legislature have begun a hunger strike demanding that
lawmakers restore quotas of seats reserved for ethnic minorities and left out
of the new regional constitution, UNIAN and ITAR-TASS reported on 2 November.
The deputies--all of whom are members of the Kurultai faction--insist that the
Crimean parliament reconsider its decision to omit a clause in Article 14 of
the new constitution that would have retained a quota of 14 seats to represent
some 200,000 Crimean Tatars living on the peninsula. The clause was included in
the old constitution, annulled by Ukrainian authorities in March as separatist.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak
CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS APPROVE DRAFT CONSTITUTION.
After approving Article 1
on 1 November, lawmakers have approved the remaining articles of the draft
constitution. The document provides for three state languages: Russian,
Ukrainian, and Tatar but designates Russian as the official language of
government. It also asserts that the Crimean government is the leading
authority in the region and that is led by a prime minister appointed by the
Crimean parliament. The head of the Crimean Security Service is to be appointed
by the chief of the Ukrainian Security Service with the approval of the leaders
of the Crimean Assembly. Ukraine's interior minister names his representative
to head the Crimean branch of the Interior Ministry with the approval of the
Crimean legislature. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
EU OFFICIAL ON BELARUS.
Interfax on 2 November reported that European
Commission member Hans van den Broek said Belarus was "on the farthest
approaches from being admitted into the European Union." Van den Broek was on a
one-day working visit to Minsk. He said he assumed Belarus would put forward
its candidacy to be admitted to the EU but warned that first it must ensure not
only economic stability but also democratic reform. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN ARMS DEALS ANGER RUSSIA.
ITAR-TASS on 3 November reported
that Belarus has been negotiating another arms deal that is harmful Russian
interests. Last year Minsk reportedly sold an anti-aircraft missile system to
the U.S. Now it is said to be attempting to sell two top-of-the-line SU-27
fighter aircraft from its base at Baranovichy. Documents on the sale have been
handed over to the aircraft manufacturing plant at Komsomolska-na-Amure. The
deals are perceived in Moscow as detrimental to both Russia's defense capacity
and its arms exports. The documents will be handed over to the Russian State
Duma for appropriate action, according to the news agency. -- Ustina Markus
LATVIA ADOPTS PENSION LAW.
The Latvian parliament on 2 November adopted
a law on pensions, BNS reported. Earlier recommendations that the pension age
be raised to 65 were defeated. Men will be able to draw pensions at 60 and
women at 55. Those who are of pension age, however, can continue working, and
their contributions to the social fund will increase the size of their
pensions. Latvian citizens will receive pensions for all years worked,
regardless of where, while non-citizens will be paid only for the years worked
in Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS BORDER DISPUTE.
Maris Gailis and
Adolfas Slezevicius agreed in telephone talks on 2 November on the need to
determine their sea borders peacefully, BNS reported. Slezevicius accepted
Gailis's suggestion that a third party be invited to help settle the border
dispute. The premiers also agreed that representatives from the Lithuanian
Foreign Ministry and parliament travel to Riga next week to acquaint themselves
with the agreement on oil exploration that Latvia signed on 31 October with the
American Amoco and Swedish OPAB oil companies. Gailis confirmed that no
exploratory work for oil in the disputed area would be started before an
agreement with Lithuania is signed. He also noted that any contract with the
oil companies would have to be ratified by the new parliament that holds its
first session on 7 November. * Saulius Girnius
POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN UPDATE.
Campaign staff of Aleksander
Kwasniewski, leading candidate in the 5 November Polish presidential elections,
have accused the secret services of intervening in the campaign, Gazeta
Wyborcza reported on 3 November. Kwasniewski's staff suspects the secret
services of revealing to the press the financial assets of Kwasniewski's wife
(a topic that has received much press attention) and of organizing violent
protests at Kwasniewski's campaign meetings. Spokesmen for President Lech
Walesa, who has control over the secret service, and the Internal Affairs
Ministry denied the accusations. Presidential candidates Leszek Moczulski and
Bogdan Pawlowski withdrew from the race on 2 November, asking their supporters
to vote for Walesa. The presidential campaign ends at noon, on 3 November. --
Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw
POLISH SENATE REJECTS PROPOSED REFERENDUM ON DISTRIBUTING STATE PROPERTY.
The Polish Senate on 2 November rejected a presidential proposal for a
referendum on dividing up state and communal property. The president was asked
by Solidarity to make the proposal. Senators criticized the proposed questions
as unclear and violating the constitution. The president the same day signed a
cooperation agreement with Solidarity stating that the president will put his
right to initiate legislation at Solidarity's disposal, Warsaw dailies reported
on 3 November. -- Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw
CZECH PARLIAMENT TIGHTENS CONFLICT OF INTERESTS LAW.
By a near-unanimous
vote, the Czech parliament on 2 November passed wide-ranging revisions to the
law on conflict of interests. As of 1 January, government ministers, other high
state officials, parliamentary deputies, and members of the still-to-be-created
Senate will have to declare any potential conflict of interests involving not
just themselves but also their spouses and close relations. Members of the
government will be barred from engaging in any business activities. All those
covered by the law will have to declare additional income and gifts of higher
value than their monthly salary and, after next June's elections, declare all
property they own or sell. The need for a new law was discussed for almost
three years, following a series of scandals involving leading politicians. --
SLOVAK PRESIDENT LAUNCHES COUNTERATTACK.
Michal Kovac, in a speech on 2
November broadcast on Radio Twist and Slovak Radio, reacted to a series of
attacks by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and his allies aimed at forcing the
president's resignation. Kovac called on Meciar to "give up plans to usurp and
concentrate power" and to move toward cooperation. Sharply criticizing the
activities of Meciar's coalition, Kovac demanded that Meciar change his
domestic policy, which is "challenging the principle of a law-abiding state and
leading Slovakia into international isolation." Meciar's party--the Movement
for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)--said Kovac's speech demonstrated his
collaboration with opposition parties and said the address was "undignified"
for a head of state, Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher
UPDATE ON SLOVAK-RUSSIAN RELATIONS.
Meciar, returning on 3 November from
a four-day trip to Russia and Turkmenistan, denied that Slovakia wants to form
a customs union with Russia. Meanwhile, the opposition reacted negatively to
Meciar's visit, saying he is putting too much emphasis on the East. The Party
of the Democratic Left on 2 November expressed concern about Slovakia's
increasing economic contacts with Russia and stressed that Meciar has not
convinced anyone that Czech-Russian financing of the Mochovce nuclear plant
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November) is the best option regarding safety
issues. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZI TRIAL OPENS.
Two neo-Nazi leaders have appealed to
the right to free speech at their trial in Budapest, which began on 1 November.
The two men, along with several others, are charged with inciting racial hatred
at numerous meetings where they denied that the Holocaust took place. They have
also been accused of using prohibited symbols and circulating neo-Nazi
propaganda material. Both denied the charges, saying that Hungarian neo-Nazi
circles were formed "to serve the Hungarian nation . . . and to protect
Hungarian culture and language." Meanwhile, liberal deputies suggested that
President Arpad Goncz's earlier proposal to redefine what is meant in the
criminal code by combatting extremism and incitement against minority groups.
-- Zsofia Szilagyi
HEROIN SEIZURE IN HUNGARY.
Hungarian customs officials on 2 November
found almost 14 kg of heroin in a Bulgarian car at the Romanian border ,
Hungarian newspapers reported. The smugglers said they wanted to travel to
Western Europe with their haul. The amount of drugs seized in Hungary so far
this year totals 493 kilograms. Meanwhile, Hungary and Ukraine the same day
reached an agreement to improve coordination to curb cross-border crime. The
accord comes in the wake of a series of attacks by Ukrainians on tourist buses
in eastern Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 215, 3 November 1995
BOSNIAN REFUGEE DEAL REACHED IN DAYTON.
Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman have reached agreement on a
deal that would see the return of hundreds of Muslim and Croatian refugees,
international media reported on 2 November. A joint statement by the two
leaders stressed that the deal addresses only "the first phase" of the refugee
issue. In another development, AFP reported that the Bosnian, Croatian, and
Serbian delegations at the talks have so far received four draft proposals from
international mediators focusing on the broad question of peace, a
constitutional structure for the Bosnian state, electoral issues, and "the
separation of military and paramilitary forces." -- Stan Markotich
MILOSEVIC, TUDJMAN AGREE TO FIND PEACEFUL SOLUTION IN SLAVONIA.
President Franjo Tudjman and his Serbian counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic,
agreed in Dayton to continue talks on eastern Slavonia, AFP reported on 2
November. Both sides pledged to work toward "full normalization of their
relation" on the basis of " full respect" for human rights and the right of all
refugees to return home or receive a just compensation. The aim is to find "a
peaceful resolution . . . as rapidly as possible," a U.S. State Department
spokesman said. As yet, the two sides appear to have agreed only that Croatia
and Serbia will not intervene militarily. U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter
Galbraith and UN negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg began a visit to the region on
2 November. -- Fabian Schmidt
HAS MILOSEVIC ABANDONED BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS?
BETA on 2 November
reported that Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his military
counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, are likely to resign from their posts in the
very near future, apparently because of pressure to do so from the U.S.
According to the report, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, eager to accept
some key US demands, has agreed to the idea of the two leaving their posts. AFP
the same day reported that "a few days ago" at a meeting in Pale, the Bosnian
Serb leadership agreed in principle that Karadzic and Mladic would step down.
U.S. State Department official Nicholas Burns has said "We don't believe these
two individuals should be among the leaders of the new state that emerges from
a peace agreement." -- Stan Markotich
BOSNIAN MUSLIMS RECOUNT MASSACRES.
AFP on 2 November reported accounts
of massacres by Bosnian Serbs in Sanski Most who earlier this week were among a
group of 303 Muslim civilians and 21 soldiers exchanged for 135 Serbian troops
and two civilians. They told The Guardian that Serbian paramilitaries
executed at least 11 men before fleeing from the approaching Bosnian Army; 30
prisoners who were taken from a factory outside Sanski Most are still missing.
Eleven bodies have been found, Bosnian government officials and foreign
observers reported that another 110 remain scattered around the town and
surrounding villages. -- Daria Sito Sucic
ROMANIA CRITICIZES UKRAINIAN ENVOY.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea
Geoana, at a press conference on 1 November, said Romania was "surprised" by
Ukrainian special ambassador Vladimir Vasilenko's recent statements on the
Romanian-Ukrainian basic treaty. Vasilenko heads the Kiev side in parleys on
the treaty. Romanian media reported that Geoana rejected Vasilenko's
accusations that Romanian insistence on mentioning the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact
in the treaty constitutes an attempt to question the borders between the two
states. He also criticized his comment that Bucharest's position was influenced
by internal political considerations. Vasilenko was violating the two side's
agreement not to involve the press in the parleys, he said. The last round of
treaty negotiations ended in Bucharest on 26 October, apparently without any
results. -- Michael Shafir
ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON 1996 BUDGET.
Finance Minister Florin
Georgescu told a press conference in Bucharest on 1 November that the 1996
budget was one of "austerity" aimed at "reducing to a minimum non-productive
costs" and encouraging the growth of public services. The budget foresees a
4.5% growth in GDP, a 4.7% growth in industrial production, a 3.5% increase in
agricultural production, and an 8.8% rise in investments. Inflation is forecast
at 20%. The budget was submitted to the parliament after discussions with
representatives of the opposition parties, Romanian media reported. -- Michael
EU OFFICIAL PRAISES MOLDOVAN PROGRESS.
EU External Affairs Commissioner
Hans van den Broek said in Chisinau on 2 November that "Moldova's success in
establishing a genuine democracy is convincing" and that "economic
stabilization has been achieved and true progress made in privatization and
restructuring," Reuters and Moldovan agencies reported the same day. Van den
Broek paid a one-day visit to Moldova, meeting President Mircea Snegur,
parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi, and Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli. He
said the parliaments of EU member states and the European Parliament are likely
to ratify next year a cooperation partnership agreement signed in 1994. --
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT INITIATES JUDICIAL REFORM.
Moldovan President Mircea
Snegur has sent to the parliament a legislative proposal calling for the
abolition of the death penalty. He has also petitioned the Constitutional Court
to comment on whether the basic document should be changed to provide for
judges to be appointed for life after an initial five-year term, Infotag and
BASA-press reported on 30 October and 1 November. Meanwhile, the Moldovan
parliament on 1 November adopted laws on state security and state security
organs, BASA-press reported on the same day. Threats to state security are
defined as "actions whose purpose is the violent change of the constitutional
regime, suppression of independence and territorial integrity, provoking civil
war or military actions against the state, [and] treason through helping
foreign states in organizing hostile acts" against Moldova. -- Michael Shafir
EXPLOSION AT BULGARIAN ARMS PLANT.
Bulgarian Radio on 2 November
reported a major explosion the same day at the Arsenal plant killing one person
and wounding three. Minister of Industry Kliment Vuchev said a fire caused the
blast and added that damage was serious. Arsenal is located in the town of
Kazanlak and is one of the nation's largest arms production centers. -- Stan
ALBANIAN POLICE LOSES BATTLE WITH FUEL SMUGGLERS.
Albanian police lost a
fierce five-hour battle with fuel smugglers armed with automatic weapons and
grenades near the Montenegrin border, Reuters reported on 2 November. During a
routine check, police managed to block the path of 20 smugglers and 10 fuel
trucks but suddenly found itself surrounded by armed men. After five hours of
fierce fighting, local police and special Interior Ministry forces from Tirana
ran out of ammunition and were forced to leave, abandoning three destroyed
police vehicles. The smugglers continued their journey. The Interior Ministry
was not immediately able to confirm the battle. -- Fabian Schmidt
BOMB ATTACK ON HOUSE OF ALBANIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER CHIEF.
assailants on 1 October carried out a bomb attack on the house of Nikolle Lesi,
chief editor of Koha Jone, according to Gazeta Shqiptare on 3
November. Nobody was injured in the attack, which caused considerable damage to
Lesi's apartment. Lesi said the assault must be seen against the background of
the upcoming parliamentary elections. He said that in his capacity as chief
editor, he was recently offered thousands of dollars to support "a big party in
the elections"; he rejected that offer. He did not specify who had offered him
the money. Gazeta Shqiptare reported that five suspects have been
detained but gave no details. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave