OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 234, 4 December 1995
ROSSEL WANTS SHUMEIKO BLOC TO JOIN HIS TRANSFORMATION OF THE FATHERLAND.
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel confirmed that he will work with
Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko's new movement but only under
certain conditions, Interfax reported on 1 December. A special congress of his
Transformation of the Fatherland movement will discuss merging with Shumeiko's
Russian Reforms-A New Course. He objects to the New Course name and wants the
movement to adopt Transformation of the Fatherland as its name. Rossel said
that President Yeltsin had banned the creation of the organization until after
the Duma elections. The founding congress is scheduled to take place on 21
December. -- Robert Orttung
VOX POPULI: SEVEN PARTIES TO ENTER DUMA.
The Communists, Our Home Is
Russia, the Congress of Russian Communities, the Agrarian Party, the Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia, Women of Russia, and Yabloko are likely to win
representation in the Duma in the 17 December elections according to a recent
poll conducted by Vox Populi, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 2
December. Women of Russia and the Congress of Russian Communities have
dramatically improved their position, while Yabloko and Yegor Gaidar's Russia's
Democratic Choice-United Democrats (which is not among the parties now likely
to enter the Duma) have lost support in comparison with an earlier poll
published in the same paper on 21 November. -- Robert Orttung
CHUBAIS: ELECTIONS COULD STOP REFORM.
First Deputy Prime Minister
Anatolii Chubais warned on 1 December that the Duma elections could slam the
brakes on reform, Reuters reported. Chubais said that the worst outcome would
likely cause a slow down or a halt to the creation of a legal base for reform,
but he said he could not imagine any steps being taken to undo the reform
process. Chubais believes that the Communists' recent overtures to Russian and
foreign entrepreneurs shows that they are willing to compromise on their
economic ideas. -- Robert Orttung
FEDOROV HAS CANDIDATES SIGN CONTRACT.
At the third congress of Boris
Fedorov's Forward, Russia! movement in Moscow on 2 December, parliamentary
candidates signed a contract of 15 measures they will implement if the movement
is able to form a government after the December elections (even though the
Russian government is not formed from a parliamentary majority). The promised
measures are: a guarantee of strict adherence to the constitution and all laws,
elimination of the nomenklatura's privileges, enactment of tougher measures
against crime, and a referendum within a year on a union with Ukraine, Belarus,
and Kazakhstan. The strategy is clearly modeled on the U.S. Republican Party's
successful "Contract with America" during the 1994 campaign, and after the
signing Fedorov told OMRI that his party of conservative democrats is
philosophically close to the Republicans. Fedorov's comments on his party's
prospects, its aggressive advertising strategy, and its differences with Yegor
Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice will be published in the 5 December OMRI
Special Report on the Russian Elections. -- Laura Belin in Moscow
NEW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES APPEAR.
Aleksandr Rutskoi, the former vice
president and leader of the social-patriotic movement Derzhava, confirmed that
he would run for president in the June 1996 elections, Russian and Western
media reported on 3 December. Rutskoi has said he intends to quit politics if
he loses both the Duma and presidential elections. Another potential candidate
for the presidency, Grigorii Yavlinskii, announced on 1 December that he has
already collected 800,000 of the 1 million signatures required to register for
the presidential elections, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. The number three
candidate on the Communist Party list for the Duma elections, Aman Tuleev, said
he would run for the presidency if President Yeltsin decides to run for a
second term. In 1991, Tuleev won about 7% of the vote. Petr Romanov, another
candidate, was nominated for the presidential race by the Assembly of National
Democratic and Patriotic Forces of Russia, Interfax reported. -- Anna
LDPR GETS BIGGEST FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM VOTERS.
According to the
Central Electoral Commission's report on campaign funding, Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) has obtained more money
from voters than any other party, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 December. More than
700 people have donated a total of 1 billion rubles (about $222,222) to the
LDPR campaign. The Communist Party has received donations from about 400 people
totaling more than 140 million rubles (about $31,000). The
Pamfiliva-Gurov-Lysenko bloc received 500,000 rubles from just one supporter.
-- Anna Paretskaya
ACTING HEALTH MINISTER APPOINTED.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has
appointed Aleksandr Tsaregorodtsev as acting health minister in the wake of
Eduard Nechaev's dismissal from the post on 28 November, ITAR-TASS reported on
1 December. Tsaregorodtsev was made a deputy health minister in 1994 and first
deputy this year. Nechaev had been severely criticized following a number of
financial scandals within the ministry, and he was jeered at during a recent
congress of doctors devoted to the sorry state of Russian health care. -- Penny
COMMUNISTS AND PATRIOTS LEAD IN BY-ELECTIONS IN CHUVASHIYA.
preliminary results, candidates from the Communist and Patriotic blocs are
leading in the 3 December by-elections to the Chuvashiyan Federal Assembly,
ITAR-TASS reported on 4 December. The Federal Assembly was elected in March
1994. Fourteen parliamentary deputies were dismissed this summer after the
Russian Federation's Constitutional Court ruled that they were elected
illegally; the case was put forward by Chuvashiyan President Nikolai Fedorov.
The second round of the by-election is scheduled to be held on 17 December, the
same day as the State Duma elections. -- Anna Paretskaya
GRACHEV PROPOSES SECURITY SYSTEM FOR MIDDLE EAST.
During his visit to
Israel (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995), Russian Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev extended an offer to help set up a new regional security
system for the Middle East, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 December. Grachev said that
Moscow is attempting to pursue a balanced policy in the Middle East,
strengthening its ties with Arab countries as well as with Israel. Meanwhile,
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posyvaliuk, the presidential envoy to
the Middle East, held talks with officials in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa blasted the Russo-Israeli agreement on
military cooperation, saying it complicates the regional peace process. --
FNPR RENOUNCES STRIKE ACTION BEFORE ELECTIONS.
The Federation of
Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) said on 1 December that it would refrain from
calling strikes until after the 17 December parliamentary elections, ITAR-TASS
reported. It may, however, organize demonstrations and meetings. FNPR spokesman
Andrei Isaev attributed the decision to an agreement reached between Vorkuta
miners and the state coal association Rosugol on paying wage arrears.
Commenting on the 30 November day of action (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1
December 1995) Isaev said the largest rallies took place in Krasnodar (30,000
participants), Bryansk (13,000), and Voronezh and Belgorod (10,000 each). --
DEFENSE MINISTRY SAYS NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN CHECHNYA.
A Russian Defense
Ministry spokesman on 1 December denied a Komsomolskaya pravda report
that Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev had nuclear weapons stored near the
settlements of Shali and Bamut in Chechnya. The spokesman said there have never
been any nuclear weapons at those locations. That claim contradicts a January
statement by Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, the chief of staff of the Strategic
Missile Forces, who said that there had been an R-12 (SS-4) intermediate-range
nuclear missile base near Bamut in the 1970s. Yesin said the base's weapons and
equipment were destroyed when the location was abandoned in 1980. -- Doug
REGIONAL LEGISLATION ON THE INCREASE.
Addressing a conference of
regional officials in Volgograd, Aleksandr Morozov, head of the Volgograd
Oblast Duma Budget Committee, said that since 1993 many oblasts have started
passing their own statutes to plug the gaps in federal legislation, Radio Mayak
reported on 1 December. Morozov noted that Volgograd has passed laws regulating
non-state pension funds, the issuance of promissory notes, and credit unions.
Morozov complained that the courts and Procurator's Office are still waiting
for instructions from federal authorities and are not adapting to the emergence
of regional legislation. -- Peter Rutland
EXPORTERS WELCOME SHIFT IN RUBLE CORRIDOR.
Representatives of the
forestry industry welcomed Friday's ruble devaluation, Interfax reported on 1
December, claiming that the imposition of the ruble corridor had cost them 5
trillion rubles ($1.1 billion) in lost exports since July. However, the Russian
Metallurgy Committee was disappointed that the shift in the corridor was so
modest. The committee estimates the devaluation will only boost metal exports
by 1.2 trillion rubles, while exports of 8.5 trillion rubles were lost this
year because of the ruble corridor. On 1 September, the government helped them
out by slashing taxes on non-ferrous metals by 30% and on iron and steel by
50%. -- Peter Rutland
ITALIAN COMPANY WINS RUSSIA'S BIGGEST PRIVATIZATION DEAL.
state-controlled company, STET, won a 25% stake in Svyazinvest, the smaller of
Russia's two national telecommunications companies, Reuter reported on 1
December. STET, which beat out a consortium of France Telecom, Deutsche Telecom
and US West, is offering 2.9 trillion rubles ($640 million) for the shares.
Svyazinvest has a controlling interest in 85 regional telecommunications
companies. Under the terms of the deal, STET will also invest at least 3.5
trillion rubles ($764 million) over the next two years. The results of the
tender revived the government's hopes to raise 8.7 trillion rubles ($1.9
billion) from privatization for the federal budget by the end of 1995. To date
only 3.5 trillion rubles ($764 million) has been raised. -- Natalia Gurushina
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 234, 4 December 1995
TAJIK TALKS BREAK DOWN ON FIRST DAY.
The Tajik opposition called off
talks with Tajik government officials on the first day of the UN-sponsored
negotiations in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on 2 December, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The chief opposition representative, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda,
forwarded a complaint from United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo
Nuri, saying that Russian planes were bombing opposition outposts in the Garm
and Pamir regions of Tajikistan. Turajonzoda said his delegation would remain
in Ashgabat but would not resume negotiations until Russia ceased its "direct
interference in the internal conflict." The Tajik government delegation
countered by offering to allow opposition representatives to travel to the
areas in question to see the situation for themselves. -- Bruce Pannier
MORE DEAD BODIES FOUND ON UZBEK-KAZAKHSTANI BORDER.
discovery of 16 dead bodies in the Keles River bordering Kazakhstan and
Uzbekistan last month, a joint investigation team has found up to 14 more
bodies in a case in which a Tashkent drug mafia is suspected of killings,
Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 2 December. One of the suspected
murderers is a former convict who was sentenced to life imprisonment in
Kazakhstan several years ago but was later released. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty
CONCERNS OVER LOW ELECTION TURNOUT IN KAZAKHSTAN.
voter apathy toward next week's parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Central
Electoral Commission Chairman Yurii Kim told Panorama in an interview on
2 December that the elections will be considered invalid if less than 50% of
the registered electorate turns out to vote. He likened the candidates' passive
election campaigns to "students who prepare for exams only on the very last
day, despite being given ample time," adding that the incumbent parliamentary
deputies and candidates with prior election experience have displayed a more
"professional" approach. Kim noted that so far he has received fewer complaints
from candidates than in the previous elections. He promised legal action
against incumbent deputies and akims (oblast heads) who are using their
official positions to prevent other candidates from campaigning. -- Bhavna Dave
ALMATY ASSUMES MORE DIRECT CONTROL OVER EAST KAZAKHSTAN OBLAST.
Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin removed East Kazakhstan Oblast Akim Yurii Lavrinko
from his post on 29 November and appointed Deputy Akim Leonid Desiatnik as the
new regional head, Panorama reported on 2 December. Kazhegeldin denied
claims published in Karavan-Blitz on 30 November that protests by
pensioners, who blocked public transport during a demonstration, and the Slavic
movement Lad led to Lavrinko's removal. Lavrinko was named to take over the
Ministry of Transport and Communication. The largely Slavic oblast of East
Kazakhstan fell into a serious economic crisis after the closure of several
industrial plants, including the bankrupt Ust-Kamenogorsk metallurgical plant
which is now seeking a foreign buyer. Kazhegeldin said he plans to visit East
Kazakhstan more often in order to deal with the economic crisis and has given
the new regional head "six months to improve the region's economy,"
Karavan-Blitz reported. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 234, 4 December 1995
BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE.
Segodnya on 2 December reported that the
transfer of Black Sea Fleet installations in Crimea has officially begun and
that by the beginning of next year, the Black Sea Russian navy will be deployed
only at the Sevastopol base and the Kacha and Hvardiiske airfields in Crimea.
Outside Crimea, Russia will be able to retain a weapons testing center at
Feodosia and a shipyard. Segodnya said the sudden withdrawal of the
Russian Black Sea Fleet from so many bases in Ukraine was a natural outcome of
downsizing the Russian armed forces and navy. Since 1991, the fleet's personnel
has decreased from 67,000 to 35,000, and further cuts are envisaged. -- Ustina
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW COAL INDUSTRY MINISTER.
Leonid Kuchma has appointed Serhii Polyakov as minister of the coal industry,
Ukrainian TV and Eastern Economist Daily reported on 1 December. The
49-year-old Polyakov was chairman of the Torez City Council in Eastern Donetsk
Oblast. He replaces Viktor Poltavets, who was recently fired from his post for
failing to launch reforms in the troubled coal sector. The drastic decline in
coal production has forced Ukraine to increase imports of coal from Poland and
Russia to meet domestic needs. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL TO SEVASTOPOL LIFTED.
Restrictions on entry to
the Crimean city of Sevastopol have been lifted as of 1 December,
Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAR reported on 1-2 December. Victor Semyonov, chairman
of the Sevastopol city administration, ordered the city open to Ukrainian
citizens and foreigners alike. The Ukrainian government voted on 21 November to
overturn a May 1993 resolution extending Soviet-era travel restrictions to the
port city and base of the Black Sea Fleet. Until now, travelers needed an
invitation from a resident or military officer for entry. -- Chrystyna
BELARUSIAN ELECTION UPDATE.
Syarhei Naumchyk, spokesman for the
nationalist opposition Belarusian Popular Front, on 1 December said there is
evidence that election results were incorrect in the Smorhon constituency in
Minsk, where BPF leader Zyanon Paznyak ran for office, Belapan reported.
Naumchyk said that more than 2,000 ballots were invalid. He also claimed
observers from political parties were not allowed into polling stations in that
constituency. Paznyak received 47 percent of the vote, just failing to gain
enough votes to win outright; but because it was a two-person race, he cannot
run in a second round. In other news, Belapan reported that Presidium member
Uladzimir Novikau has appealed to voters to take part in the 10 December runoff
elections. The Presidium has proposed asking the Belarusian Television and
Broadcasting Company for more air time to publicize the runoffs. Novikau cast
doubt over whether President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has so far been hostile
to media coverage of elections, will allow increased air time. -- Ustina
BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING.
At its seventh session in Tallinn on 1-2
December, the Baltic Assembly passed documents on increasing the effectiveness
of the assembly, on socio-economic and political issues, and on refugees,
Interfax reported. It also requested that the Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly, prior to voting on Russian membership, ask Russia to "undertake to
respect the independence and sovereign rights of the Baltic states." The
session urged the Baltic governments to expand cooperation in protecting aerial
and maritime borders and to make joint efforts to standardize armaments and
communication systems. -- Saulius Girnius
ESTONIAN ARMED FORCES COMMANDER RESIGNS.
President Lennart Meri on 3
December said he has reluctantly accepted the resignation of Lt.-Gen.
Aleksander Einseln as commander-in-chief of the Estonian armed forces, Western
agencies reported. Einseln, who served 35 years in the U.S. military, was
undermined by several recent scandals in his general staff and a public dispute
with Defense Minister Andrus Oovel. To show gratitude for his work in
establishing the Estonian armed forces, Meri said he was promoting Einseln to
the rank of full general and asking him to remain in Estonia to head the
nation's military academy. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH POLITICAL PARTIES SETTLE ACCOUNTS AFTER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
The National Council of the opposition Freedom Union (UW) on 3 December
dismissed Jan Maria Rokita from the party's presidium, saying he had breached
party discipline and had not given his full support to the UW's presidential
candidate, former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron. UW President and former Finance
Minister Leszek Balcerowicz had said earlier he would resign if Rokita were not
dismissed because he did not want to be head of such an undisciplined party.
Former Prime Ministers and UW members Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Hanna Suchocka
criticized Rokita's dismissal. The previous day, the Labor Union (UP) dismissed
Wojciech Lamentowicz from its Presidium. Lamentowicz had supported
President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski after heading the campaign staff of the
UP candidate, ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski, Polish dailies reported on 4
December. -- Jakub Karpinski
SEJM OVERRIDES WALESA'S VETO OF TAX LAW.
The Sejm on 1 December overrode
President Lech Walesa's veto on the 1996 tax law (see OMRI Daily Digest,
27 November 1995) by a narrow majority. Walesa has said he will appeal to the
Constitutional Tribunal. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy said the government
is prepared to implement either the old or the new law but he stressed that a
decision must be reached quickly. Should the Constitutional Tribunal not reach
a verdict by 22 December, the new president will be able to sign the law,
Polish dailies reported on 2 December. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
POLISH WORKERS PROTEST PLAN TO BUY FOREIGN JETS.
Workers at the Polish
aircraft company PZL-Mielec staged a two-hour work stoppage on 1 December to
protest government plans to buy second-hand Alpha-Jet trainers from Germany
rather than the "Iryda" trainers built by Mielec. PAP quoted the strike
committee as saying the strikers were "defending the achievements of the Polish
aircraft industry and our jobs." The government has argued that the Alpha-Jets
are cheaper and would therefore be better for the armed forces, given the
limited defense budget. The strike committee warned it would step up the
protests if the government did not reconsider the purchase. -- Doug Clarke
CZECH CENTRIST PARTIES MERGE.
The extra-parliamentary Free Democrats
(SD) and the Liberal National Social Party (LSNS), which has five seats in
parliament, formally merged on 3 December, Czech media reported. SD leader and
former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier and LSNS head Vavrinec
Bodenlos were elected joint chairmen of the party, to be known as the SD-LSNS.
Recent opinion polls show that, even together, the SD and LSNS are unlikely to
gain parliamentary representation in next year's general election. But
Dienstbier said the Czech political scene has become polarized and that the new
party will campaign as a centrist alternative. Deputy Prime Minister Josef Lux,
leader of the Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party, addressed the
new party's founding session and said he was willing to work with the SD-LSNS.
-- Steve Kettle
EASTERN EUROPE'S FIRST GAS SUPPLIER SALE.
The Hungarian privatization
agency (APV Rt.) on 29 November sold a majority stake in Tigaz, the country's
biggest gas supplier, to an Italian consortium, Hungarian media reported. The
sale is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. Italgas bought a 50% plus one
vote stake in Tigaz for almost $172 million. Tigaz supplies 2.3 billion cubic
meters of gas a year to more than 800,000 consumers in northeastern Hungary and
has registered capital worth $116.2 million. Italgas plans to extend service to
200,000 more consumers and wants to invest $255 million over the next five
years. No sizable reduction in the number of staff is envisaged. The APV Rt. is
to decide on the sale of four other gas suppliers this week. -- Zsofia
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 234, 4 December 1995
FRENCH COMMANDER IN SARAJEVO RECALLED.
The French minister of defense
has called home General Jean-Rene Bachelet following the latter's remarks to
journalists critical of the Dayton agreement (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1
December 1995). Nasa Borba on 4 December reported that the statements
put the general in the same camp as "Serbian extremists" and provoked
incomprehension from the Bosnian authorities. The New York Times on 3
December said that Hasan Muratovic, minister for relations with the United
Nations, called for the French forces in Sarajevo to be replaced by Americans
since the government now finds it difficult to trust the French. French Foreign
Minister Herve de Charette tried to smooth things over and told AFP that his
country "will have the means to enable the Serbs of Sarajevo to stay."
Meanwhile, top U.S. officials have recently stressed that the Dayton agreement
is final and that no changes can be considered. Their concern is that to
discuss any one issue would permit the reopening of all others. -- Patrick
GENERAL MLADIC REJECTS DAYTON AGREEMENT . . .
International media on 3
December reported that the Bosnian Serb military commander the previous day
made his first public statements on the peace treaty. He said it was
unacceptable because "some territories in which Serbs have lived for centuries
have been handed over to the Croat-Muslim coalition.'' CNN showed the
internationally wanted war criminal reviewing smartly dressed and
well-disciplined troops whom he told that "we cannot allow our people to come
under the rule of butchers." The network also interviewed U.S. Chief of Staff
General John Shalikashvili, who said that NATO troops would not conduct a
house-to-house search for Mladic and other Bosnian Serb war criminals but would
hand them over "to the civilian authorities" if caught. -- Patrick Moore
. . . BUT CLINTON EXPECTS MILOSEVIC TO BRING HIM INTO LINE.
response to Mladic's implicit threats, President Bill Clinton on 3 December
said that "we fully expect that [Serbian] President [Slobodan] Milosevic will
take the appropriate steps to ensure that the treaty will be honored as it is
written, and that we will not have undue interference with implementing it,"
the International Herald Tribune reported. On 2 December, the BBC said
that Clinton again defended his call for U.S. forces to help enforce the
Bosnian settlement. He said that the presidents of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia
"asked us to help implement their peace treaty." -- Patrick Moore
NATO AGREES TO SEND FORCES TO BOSNIA.
The NATO Council, at a meeting in
Brussels on 1 December, agreed to send a 2,600-strong "enabling" force to
Bosnia to prepare for the deployment of the 60,000 troops comprising the NATO
implementation force, Western agencies reported. U.S. President Bill Clinton
the next day authorized the participation of the 700-strong U.S. contingent.
This is the first time that American troops will be deployed in Bosnia. The
"enabling" force will prepare headquarters, communications, and transport sites
in anticipation of the arrival of the main force, expected to take place after
the peace treaty is signed in Paris later this month. -- Michael Mihalka
POLITICAL SHOWDOWN IN ZAGREB.
Croatia's seven-party opposition coalition
on 2 December elected new officials to the Zagreb City Assembly after deputies
from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Croatian Party of
Rights had walked out the previous day, international media reported on 4
December. Hina quoted President Franjo Tudjman on 1 December as saying that he
"cannot allow Zagreb, whose population constitutes a quarter of the whole of
Croatia's, to get a city or county authority that would oppose state policy"
and that "all democratic means" will be used to prevent such a scenario. The
next day, HDZ members, who hold a third of the city assembly's 50 seats, walked
out in an attempt to block an opposition coalition from taking power in Zagreb.
Nonetheless, Zdravko Tomac was unanimously elected speaker of the assembly and
Goran Granic Zagreb mayor, Novi List reported. Meanwhile, 10,000
Posavina Croats gathered at a protest rally in Zagreb on 2 December to demand
an emergency session of the Croatian Assembly over the Dayton accord, the BBC
reported on 4 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY PURGES RANKS.
BETA on 2 December reported that
the Democratic Party (DS) voted to dismiss two prominent members from its
ranks. Dragoljub Micunovic, former party president and member of the federal
legislature, and Veselin Simonovic, a deputy in the Serbian legislature. DS
Vice President Miodrag Perisic explained that "the [party's] main committee
considered that through their recent activities, [the two men] had caused
political harm to the party." Micunovic responded that the dismissals meant
that from now on, the DS is a party "without either a soul or a brain." -- Stan
HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL ON ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS.
Following a one-week
visit to Romania, Laszlo Labody, director of the office in charge of Hungarians
living abroad, told a press conference in the Transylvanian city of Cluj that
the Romanian education law should be modified. Labody said it was "not normal
that street demonstrations by a few thousand students [in Bucharest] could lead
to the amendment of the law, whereas the 500,000 signatures gathered from among
members of the Hungarian community in a legislative initiative to amend that
law are being ignored." Radio Bucharest on 3 December quoted him as saying that
Romania and Hungary will certainly reach a historic reconciliation because the
Hungarian government's program and Romanian President Ion Iliescu's proposal
have the same aim. According to Duna TV Budapest, Labody said the only
remaining impediment to concluding the basic treaty between the two countries
is the disagreement over the paragraph on national minorities. -- Matyas
YELTSIN RESPONDS TO MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S LETTER.
Russian President Boris
Yeltsin, responding to a 17 November letter from Mircea Snegur on the Russian
State Duma's resolution on the Transdniester (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20
November 1995), stressed that his country's policy toward Moldova has not
changed and that Moscow continues to support a political solution to the
conflict with the breakaway region. He added that the Transdniester should be
granted a "special status" and that "Moldova's independence and territorial
integrity" should be preserved. Infotag on 1 December reported that Yeltsin
reiterated his readiness to hold a summit meeting with Snegur after an
agreement is reached between Chisinau and Tiraspol and that he added such an
agreement would also allow for the participation in the summit of the Tiraspol
leadership. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS GOVERNMENT BID FOR EU MEMBERSHIP.
Bulgarian National Assembly on 1 December voted to authorize the government to
request full EU membership, RFE/RL reported. The motion was approved by a vote
of 212 to one. The Bulgarian government the previous day had decided to
formally apply for full EU membership. In an address on state-owned TV and
radio, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said EU membership is in the strategic
interest of the country. Videnov will submit Bulgaria's application during the
EU summit in Madrid in December. Bulgaria has been an associate EU member since
February 1995. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIA PROTESTS ROMANIAN SEIZURE OF NUCLEAR FUEL.
Bulgaria on 1
December protested Romania's decision to halt a cargo of nuclear fuel bound for
Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December
1995). Reuters cited Yanko Yanev, head of the Atomic Energy Committee, as
saying that Romania's action contravenes an international convention. A
transport of nuclear waste would have needed permission to transit Romanian
waters but "such requirements do not refer to fresh fuel, which is not
radioactive," he argued. According to Yanev, such fuel transports have been
going on for 20 years. An official at the Romanian port of Cernavoda on 2
December said the two Bulgarian vessels are still being held there. -- Stefan
INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO HEAD OF BALLI KOMBETAR.
investigation has been launched into Abaz Ermenji, chairman of the Balli
Kombetar (National Front), Zeri i Popullit reported on 1 December.
According to the Prosecutor-General's Office, the National Committee of World
War II Veterans has charged Ermenji with committing crimes against humanity
between 1941-1945. The former partisans claim that Ermenji was involved in the
massacre of 114 innocent citizens in the southern region of Skrapari and the
killing of 24 family heads. Ermenji returned to Albania on 21 October 1995
after 49 years in exile and was welcomed by friends and party members of the
Balli Kombetar, which was reestablished after 1991. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave