RUSSIAN-CHECHEN AGREEMENT SIGNED.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, his Chechen counterpart, Doku Zavgaev, and the Russian
presidential representative in Chechnya, Oleg Lobov, signed an agreement "On
the basic principles of relations between the Russian Federation and the
Republic of Chechnya" in Moscow on 8 December, ITAR-TASS reported. According to
Chernomyrdin, the agreement gives Chechnya rights that are equal to those of
other constituent republics of the Russian Federation; Zavgaev told Interfax on
7 December that the agreement would serve as the basis for a full-fledged
power-sharing treaty. Also on 7 December, Russian TV quoted Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev as affirming that he had met in late 1994 with Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev in an attempt to avert a war in Chechnya. Grachev said he had
steadfastly opposed starting a war but Dudaev had refused to make any
concessions on the grounds that to do so would inevitably lead to his ouster.
-- Liz Fuller
OSCE: CHECHNYA ELECTIONS PREMATURE.
A report by the OSCE mission in
Chechnya argues that the republic's planned 17 December election for a new head
of state is being held prematurely, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. The
report, circulated at the 7-8 December OSCE meeting in Budapest, concludes that
the conditions for free and fair elections do not exist and criticizes the lack
of progress in the negotiations between Russia and the Chechen separatists. --
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TURNS DOWN FEDERATION COUNCIL APPEAL.
Constitutional Court refused to consider a Federation Council appeal to clarify
passages of the constitution concerning the formation of the Council, on the
grounds that the appeal did not specifically address the law on the Council's
formation recently adopted by parliament and signed by the president, Russian
media reported on 7 December. Article 96 of the constitution states that the
Council's formation must be determined by federal law; it does not further
specify how the two deputies representing each region should be selected.
Council Deputy Yelena Mizulina told Russian TV that at its 9 December session,
the last before its term expires, the Council will draft a new appeal asking
the court to examine the constitutionality of the new law. -- Laura Belin
UNION OF MUSLIMS SUPPORT PRIME MINISTER'S BLOC.
Muslims called on its supporters to vote for Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, in the December Duma elections,
Russian TV and Interfax reported on 7 December. The union failed to submit the
necessary 200,000 signatures to the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) in time
to be registered. Chernomyrdin, in turn, supported the idea of building a
Muslim humanitarian center and university. On 4 December, three other blocs
which were refused registration, the National Salvation Front, Sazhi
Umalatova's Our Future bloc, and Zemskii Sobor, appealed to the Supreme Court
to refute the TsIK's argument that 50,000 signatures from each bloc were faked,
ITAR-TASS reported on 6 December. -- Anna Paretskaya
CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES' REFERENDUM IDEA REJECTED.
Electoral Commission voted 9-3 to reject the registration of two referendum
questions proposed by the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), Russian media
reported on 7 December. The first proposed question would have asked whether
the "main goal" of state policy and government activities should be "to
increase the well-being of the citizens of Russia." The second question
concerned amending the constitution to define the Russian Federation as a
"union of peoples of Russia." The commission ruled that the second question
contradicts the constitution. Dmitrii Rogozin, a KRO representative who
attended the commission's meeting, said that the KRO will challenge the
commission's decision in court, Interfax reported. -- Anna Paretskaya
DUMA CANDIDATE MURDERED IN CHELYABINSK.
Mikhail Lezhnev, a candidate for
the Duma and a leading local businessman, was murdered in Chelyabinsk, Russian
and Western agencies reported on 8 December. ITAR-TASS, citing unofficial
sources, said he had been shot in the head. Lezhnev, a representative of Our
Home Is Russia, was running in a single-mandate district. He is the second Duma
candidate to be murdered since the campaign began. Senior Interior Ministry
officials have announced increased security measures to prevent violence from
disrupting the 17 December vote. -- Penny Morvant
BARSUKOV PROHIBITS CONTACTS WITH MEDIA.
Russian Federal Security Service
(FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov has signed an order prohibiting FSB employees,
except members of the service's public relations department, from estalishing
contact with the mass media, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 7
December. As of 7 December, FSB employees have been ordered to report any
unauthorized contacts with the media to their superior. -- Constantine
RUSSIAN SECURITY EXPERT BLASTS MODIFICATIONS TO ABM TREATY.
Viktor Gumenkov, an expert on defense and security issues, told ITAR-TASS on 8
December that proposed modifications to the 1972 ABM Treaty could threaten
Russian national security (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 December 1995).
Gumenkov claims that the Pentagon deliberately leaked information on the
Russo-U.S. modifications agreement to prepare public opinion for major changes
in the treaty. Gumenkov claimed that Washington wants to have a free hand to
deploy missile-defense systems that would eliminate nuclear parity between the
U.S. and Russia and thus threaten global security. -- Constantine Dmitriev
MORE REFUGEES FLEE TO RUSSIA FROM CIS COUNTRIES.
More than 946,000
refugees and forced migrants are registered with the Russian Federal Migration
Service (FMS), Radio Mayak reported on 7 December. According to FMS experts,
majority of the migrants come from Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. It also reports a
large number of Russian speakers moving out of Uzbekistan, Georgia, and
Azerbaijan. -- Constantine Dmitriev
MEETING OF CIS GENERAL PROSECUTORS IN MOSCOW.
The general prosecutors of
all the CIS states signed an extradition treaty and other accords designed to
bolster the struggle against cross-border crimes, Russian TV reported on 7
December. According to the Russian Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov the
agreements are aimed at coordinating the CIS countries' efforts to reduce crime
and at eliminating the bureaucratic formalities that delay the process. At the
meeting, Skuratov was appointed chairman of the new Coordinating Council of the
CIS General Prosecutors. -- Constantine Dmitriev
GENERAL MOTORS TO SET UP JOINT VENTURE IN RUSSIA.
The Russian government
and U.S. car manufacturer General Motors have signed a joint-venture agreement
to produce 50,000 Chevrolet Blazers a year in the town of Yelabuga in
Tatarstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 December. General Motors, which has a 50%
stake in the venture (the remaining 50% is divided equally between the Russian
and Tatar governments), will invest about $250 million in the project.
Production will begin in late 1997, and the cars are expected to sell for about
$24,000. The venture will eventually create some 8,000 new jobs, including some
at defense sector plants, which will produce parts for the new cars. -- Natalia
MEZHDUNARODNAYA FINANSOVAYA KOMPANIYA WINS SIDANKO AUCTION.
Mezhdunarodnaya Finansovaya Kompaniya (MFK) won a 51% stake in the oil company
Sidanko at the loans-for-shares auction, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 December. MFK
offered $130 million (guaranteed by ONEKSIMbank). The Sidanko auction was one
of four loans-for-shares tenders held on 7 December. The other three companies
whose shares were on offer were LUKoil, Murmansk Sea Lines, and the Novolipetsk
Metallurgical Plant. The auctions will raise some 952 billion rubles ($207.7
million) for the federal budget. -- Natalia Gurushina
RUSSIA RETURNS TO THE WORLD GRAIN MARKET.
According to a spokesman for
the Russian Agriculture Ministry, Roskhleboprodukt (a private company linked
with one of the largest Russian commercial banks, ONEKSIMbank) has paid about
$300 million for 1.5 million tons of wheat and corn from Austria, Hungary, and
the U.S., Reuters reported on 7 December. The deal raised expectations that
Russian firms will make further purchases on the European and world grain
markets and boosted Chicago wheat futures prices above $5 per bushel. The
ministry's spokesman stressed that the Russian government, which has neither
cash nor credit lines to buy wheat, will not finance grain imports this year.
-- Natalia Gurushina
NAZARBAYEV ASSURES, "PARLIAMENT WILL BE ELECTED."
Nursultan Nazarbayev told observers from the OSCE and the European parliament
"not to worry," adding that the "parliament will be elected," Kazakhstani media
reported on 7 December. An OSCE observer alluded to the absence of opposition
in the Senate elected on 5 December, specifically the "friendly relations
between the deputies and the government," to which Nazarbayev responded by
stressing the need for cooperation between the government and parliament in
times of crisis. Nazarbayev noted that his administration had passed about 70
decrees, including laws on taxation and land ownership, which "for years were
being debated by the deputies." Those decrees have the force of law but "can be
reviewed by the new parliament," he added. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty
KAZAKHSTANI ELECTORATE STILL IGNORANT ABOUT ELECTION.
Only 27% of
respondents to a survey of Almaty residents said they knew the names of the
candidates in their constituencies, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 6
December. At a 7 December press conference attended by international election
observers, representatives of private television channels pointed out that each
candidate is allowed only 15 minutes of advertising time on state television,
10 minutes on state radio, and about 100 words in the state newspapers. The
Central Electoral Commission allocates $2,500 to each candidate for campaigning
purposes; unlike in Russia, Kazakhstani private enterprises have little
interest in the elections. As a result of sketchy information on election
procedures, parties, or candidates, and the fact that this is the second
parliament to be elected in less than two years, many voters have lost interest
in the procedure. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty
KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA CREATE TRANSNATIONAL OIL COMPANY.
the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry and the Kazakhstani Oil Industry Ministry
agreed to create a transnational oil company on 6 December, Radio Rossii
reported. The Russian oil company ONAKO and the Kazakhstani oil company
Aktyubinskneft were also involved in the deal. The agreement is seen as a
revival of links severed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. -- Bruce
JAPANESE GIVE MONEY FOR KYRGYZ ELECTIONS, TWO MORE CANDIDATES NAMED.
Japan pledged to give Kyrgyzstan $100,000 to pay for voting booths and ballot
boxes to be used in the country's upcoming presidential election, AFP reported
on 8 December. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has described the donation as a sign
of support for democratization. Meanwhile, two additions have been made to the
original list of four candidates: Mamat Aybalayev, former director of the
Kadamzhay Antimony plant, and Omurbek Tekebayev, leader of the Ata Meken
(Fatherland) Party. The insertion of new candidates is unlikely to have much
effect on the outcome as President Askar Akayev appears to have the support of
nearly three-quarters of the voters. -- Bruce Pannier
TAJIKS COME BACK TO THE TABLE.
The inter-Tajik talks, postponed amid
accusations from both sides of ceasefire violations, have resumed in the
Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, according to RFE/RL, although rifts have started to
appear in the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). In a 7 December interview with
Russian TV, the chairman of the Coordinating Council of the Democratic Party of
Tajikistan, Azam Afzali, questioned the competence of the representatives of
the Islamic Renaissance Party conducting the negotiations who "somehow forgot"
to include other branches of the UTO, such as the Democratic Party, at the
table. Also, a unilateral ceasefire, called for by UTO leader Said Abdullo
Nuri, has been ignored along the Tajik-Afghan border. The border posts there
have been shelled 69 times since 1 December, according to NTV on 6 December.
The opposition argues the shelling is a retaliation for government troop
attacks on rebel forces in Tajikistan's Tavil-Dara region. -- Bruce Pannier
ANOTHER MISHAP SHUTS DOWN SECOND REACTOR AT UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR PLANT.
Another mishap at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has shutdown Reactor
No. 5 only days after a leak of radioactive steam prompted management to close
the station's first reactor, Interfax-Ukraine and Reuters reported on 7
December. The automatic shutdown occurred after the water level fell in three
steam generators in the fifth reactor. Managers said no radiation was leaked.
The shutdown within one week of two of the plant's six reactors, which provide
33% of the country's nuclear energy, now threatens the power supply to
consumers as energy demand reaches peak winter levels. -- Chrystyna
SAIEMA FAILS TO APPROVE NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT AGAIN.
The Saeima on 7
December voted 50 to 45 with five abstentions to approve the government
proposed by National Conciliation Bloc prime minister candidate Ziedonis
Cevers, BNS reported. But this was one vote short of the 51 required for
approval. Cevers had expected to get 52 votes, but two members of the Unity
Party decided not to vote in his favor because they were opposed to the system
of political blocs in the Saeima. The Saeima in November rejected the right of
center National Bloc premier candidate Maris Grinblats. It is unclear whom
President Guntis Ulmanis will select as a third candidate, but Bank of Latvia
President Einars Repse has been mentioned as a possible choice. -- Saulius
BALTIC STATES, EFTA SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS.
Minister Andres Lipstok, Latvian State Minister for Foreign Trade and European
Affairs Olgerts Pavlovskis, and Lithuanian Minister of Industry and Trade
Kazimieras Klimasauskas--attending the European Free Trade Association annual
ministerial meeting in Zermatt, Switzerland, on 7 December--signed free trade
agreements with EFTA, BNS reported. Lithuania was given five years to abolish
duties on a limited number of industrial products. Trade in farming produce
will be subject to bilateral agreements between individual countries. The
accords also contain provisions relating to rules of competition, protection of
intellectual property, public procurement, state monopolies and state aid, as
well as updated rules of origin. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT URGES APPLICATION FOR EU MEMBERSHIP.
The Seimas on
7 December voted 77 to two with one abstention to adopt a declaration calling
on the president and premier to submit a formal application for membership to
the European Union, Radio Lithuania reported. The declaration stressed that EU
membership is "one of Lithuania's most important domestic and foreign policy
goals, the implementation of which will encourage economic and social progress
and enhance the country's security." Presidential adviser on foreign policy
Justas Paleckis said the application is expected to be submitted before the EU
summit meeting in Madrid next week. The major parliament factions that day also
agreed on an amendment to Article 47 of the Constitution, which prohibits the
sale of land to foreigners and thus is an obstacle to Lithuania's integration
into the EU. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH JUDGES ON PROTESTS OVER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS.
December, the five teams of judges examining the 593,000 complaints lodged
against the outcome of the presidential elections had completed their work. Two
teams concluded that while President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski lied about
his university education, this did not influence the outcome of the elections.
Two other teams said that the complaints were well founded and that Kwasniewski
broke the law. The Supreme Court will decide on 9 December whether infringement
of the law could have influenced the outcome of the presidential elections. In
the second round Kwasniewski beat Walesa by 646,243 votes (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 21 November 1995). According to the Supreme Court, the election
results could have been influenced if the margin of Kwasniewski's victory was
half this figure. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
POLISH SOLDIERS TAKE PART IN EXERCISES IN GERMANY.
maneuvers began in Bavaria on 8 December within the Partnership for Peace
framework, Rzeczpospolita reported. Some 100 Polish soldiers from the
Wroclaw Military College are taking part in the week-long exercises. Beginning
11 December, French-German-Polish officers will take part in a staff training
program in Muhlheim, Germany. This is the first time that a non-NATO member
will participate in a training program at this level, Polish dailies reported
on 8 December. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
SLOVAK OPPOSITION LEADER ON SECRET SERVICE.
Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky on 6 December held a meeting with former
Slovak Information Service (SIS) agent Oskar F., who was recently pardoned by
President Michal Kovac for his alleged participation in the abduction of
Kovac's son. Carnogursky told journalists the following day that the meeting,
which took place outside Slovakia, convinced him that the SIS was directly
involved in the kidnapping of Kovac Jr. In other news, Carnogursky's wife on 6
December filed charges against Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar for statements
made on Slovak Television on 5 September. Responding to her husband's inquiry
about whether Meciar was on the Slovak-Austrian border shortly after the
abduction of Kovac Jr., Meciar said Carnogursky should ask his wife where he
was that night. Marta Carnogurska had demanded an apology, but Meciar did not
respond, Pravda reported on 8 December. -- Sharon Fisher
OSCE CHAIRMAN-IN-OFFICE ON OSCE TASKS.
Hungarian Foreign Minister and
OSCE Chairman-in-Office Laszlo Kovacs, in a keynote speech to the two-day
conference of OSCE foreign ministers in Budapest, voiced concerns about the
situation of non-Serbs in several Serbian regions, international and Hungarian
media reported on 8 December. Kovacs stressed that the OSCE should continue to
look at the human rights situation in Kosovo, the Sandzak, northeastern
Montenegro and Vojvodina, which are all multiethnic regions. He added that the
OSCE hopes to establish a long-term presence in Croatia, where it would assist
central and local authorities in building democracy, protecting human and
minority rights, and promoting the safe return of refugees. -- Zsofia
"OILGATE" SCANDAL IN HUNGARY.
As the privatization of the Hungarian Oil
company MOL continues, a scandal has erupted in Hungary that domestic media
have dubbed "Oilgate." The opposition has accused socialist ministers and
deputies of involvement in controversial oil deals with Russia over the past
few years. Minister of Industry and Trade Imre Dunai and his predecessor Laszlo
Pal are charged with helping private companies with close ties to the Socialist
Party to benefit from oil deals related to Russia's repayment of its $900
million debt to Hungary. Following the accusations earlier this week, Dunai
removed Otto Hujber of the Socialist Party from an inter-ministry commission on
Russia's debt and oil shipments. Hujber previously had been in a position to
decide which companies could take part in oil deals and was also chairman of
one of the companies involved. Prime Minister Gyula Horn has ordered an
investigation into the case. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BOSNIAN SERBS TORCH, LOOT GORAZDE VILLAGES.
Bosnian Serbs are torching
and looting houses in an area near Gorazde slated to pass to government
control, RFE/RL and Nasa Borba reported on 7-8 December. The BBC on 8 December
reported that about 200 Bosnian Serbs from Ustikolina, outside Gorazde, are
moving to Foca rather than live under government control. Meanwhile, Bosnian
Serb forces on 7 December agreed to permit free movement of traffic, after
blocking UN-escorted civilian convoys to Gorazde earlier this week, Reuters
reported the next day. The move came after the UNPROFOR commander had said he
would consider the use of Rapid Reaction Force artillery if they continued to
block traffic. Access to Gorazde is especially important since its 60,000
residents are surrounded by Bosnian Serbs and are entirely dependent on outside
aid for survival. -- Daria Sito Sucic
PERRY SAYS U.S. IS NOT NEUTRAL OVER BOSNIA.
Secretary of Defense William
Perry said "we believe that the Bosnian government and people have suffered
atrocities and killings, and we don't approach [implementing the Dayton peace
agreement] as psychologically neutral." He added that the U.S. will nonetheless
try to be "evenhanded," the International Herald Tribune reported on 8
December. Monitor Radio the previous evening said "thousands of Bosnian Serbs
stomped on the American flag" in a demonstration that Nasa Borba on 8
December called "well organized." The BBC reported that U.S. diplomats are
urging the Bosnian government to send home the roughly 2,000 Islamic fighters
from around the Muslim world. The tough irregulars are seen likely to cause
problems for implementing the peace settlement. -- Patrick Moore
ARMING MUSLIMS IS CENTRAL TO U.S. STRATEGY IN BOSNIA.
As the deployment
of NATO troops in the former Yugoslavia gathers pace, the arming of the Bosnian
government has become a central element in the Clinton administration's
strategy to gain U.S. congressional support for the deployment of American
troops to the region, Western agencies reported. Addressing the U.S. Senate on
6 December, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke said the U.S. has
assured the Bosnian government in Dayton that the US "will lead an
international effort to ensure that the Bosnians have what they need to defend
themselves adequately when IFOR [the NATO implementation force] leaves." He
added that the U.S. will not train troops but will rely on "third parties" such
as the private company MPRI, composed of retired U.S. officers, who helped
train Croatian forces. -- Michael Mihalka
SERBIA REJECTS FRENCH WARNING OVER PILOTS.
The rump Yugoslav Foreign
Ministry rebuffed the French demand that President Slobodan Milosevic ensure
the quick return of the two downed aviators. The Serbian statement rejected
"all tendentious interpretations of the incident." The International Herald
Tribune on 8 December also reported that the UN has protested the eviction
of 60 Muslim families by the Serbs in northern Bosnia. Hina the previous day
said that a joint commission for missing persons has been set up by Belgrade
and Zagreb and has already begun work. -- Patrick Moore
SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER BACKS PEACE ACCORD.
Vuk Draskovic, leader of
the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), has become the first head of a major
Serbian opposition party to back the Dayton peace plan for Bosnia. Nasa
Borba on 8 December published an article by Draskovic in which he explained
his position by saying "I do not want to be associated with the charges that in
Dayton [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic sold out the Serbs on that side
of the Drina and shamed the ones on this side of the Drina." He went on to
write that the current peace "is neither righteous nor base. It is woven from
blood and tears, from illusions and deceit . . . , from ideological and
mafia-backed patriotism . . . and from wounds that will not be able to heal for
a long time to come. . . . But this peace is the one outlet, the only hope and
chance, that our future generations will not be born into a life [world] that
resembles ours." -- Stan Markotich
RUGOVA ASKS U.S. FOR MEDIATION IN KOSOVO CONFLICT.
President Ibrahim Rugova has asked U.S. secretary of State Warren Christopher
to mediate in the Kosovo conflict. After meeting with Christopher in Washington
on 7 December, Rugova said he had received a pledge of support. State
Department spokesman Nicholas Burns pointed out that the U.S. has pressed
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to respect the rights of the Albanian
majority and that "we have a general assurance from the Serbs that the rights
of the Albanian community will be respected," Reuters reported on 7 December.
-- Fabian Schmidt
"OIL MEN ARE FASTER THAN STATES."
This is how Slobodna Dalmacija
on 7 December described a secretive meeting two days earlier between
representatives of the Croatian oil company INA and its Serbian counterpart,
Jugopetrol. The daily said that the two oil giants are anxious to start doing
business again even before relations between Zagreb and Belgrade have been
formally normalized. In particular, the firms want to see the Adriatic oil
pipeline reopened "as soon as possible." This quick readiness to do business
suggests that the war has been not the inevitable result of "ancient hatreds"
but rather about land, money, and power. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIA TO COOPERATE WITH HAGUE-BASED TRIBUNAL.
Croatian Minister of
Foreign Affairs Mate Granic has said that Croatia wants to cooperate with the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and will act in
accordance with its requests regarding Dario Kordic, who has been charged with
war crimes. He added, however, that Croatia will also try to defend him, RFE/RL
and BETA reported on 7 December. According to Granic, Kordic has shown his
understanding of the seriousness of the charges by resigning as head of the
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Granic added that he
is negotiating with Justice Richard Goldstone on the possibility of Kordic's
remaining in Croatia while defending himself. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SLOVAK PREMIER IN SLOVENIA.
Vladimir Meciar, during a two-day visit to
Slovenia, concluded with his Slovenian counterpart, Janez Drnovsek, an air
traffic agreement, Slovak and Slovenian media reported. Meciar observed that
relations between Slovakia and Slovenia are "very close" and will certainly
improve, especially in the economic realm, once Slovenia becomes a full member
of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) on 1 January. Meciar also
met with Slovenian President Milan Kucan and opened a Slovak embassy in
Ljubljana. -- Stan Markotich and Sharon Fisher
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS . . .
spokesman Traian Chebeleu told a press conference in Bucharest that
"anti-reconciliation attitudes" are being constantly expressed both in Hungary
and among leaders of the Hungarian minority in Romania, Romanian media reported
on 7-8 December. Chebeleu said "extremist voices are emerging, as if
coordinated, to undermine" President Ion Iliescu's proposal for a historic
reconciliation with Hungary. As an example, he quoted Bela Pomogats, chairman
of the Writers' Union of Hungary, as saying "the initiative is wrong and
inopportune" and makes only empty promises. The Hungarian minority's claim to
have Church properties restituted is viewed by Iliescu as "an aberration," he
noted. -- Matyas Szabo
. . . AND ON REVIVAL OF IRON GUARD.
Chebeleu also said that President
Iliescu was "concerned" about growing signs that a revival of the fascist
legionary movement was under way. He pointed to legionary instruction camps,
marches, the dissemination of overtly pro-legionary literature and articles,
and veiled pro-legionary television programs. Chebeleu said the president was
"astonished" by the attempt to "justify legionary assassinations." The latter
reference was apparently directed at opposition senator Sabin Ivan who
criticized Iliescu's address commemorating the assassination of historian
Nicolae Iorga by members of the legionary movement in 1940. Sabin had said the
"crimes" committed against the movement by its adversaries should also be
revealed. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH POPE.
Zhelyu Zhelev was received by Pope
John Paul II in a private audience on 7 December, 24 chasa reported. The
Pope said he will travel to Bulgaria, adding that his visit should silence all
allegations about a Bulgarian involvement in the attempt on his life in May
1981, Zhelev's spokesman Valentin Stoyanov said. With regard to the so-called
"Bulgarian trail," the Pope noted that "guilt is always personal." Ali Agca,
who tried to kill the Pope in 1981, said in September that Bulgaria was not
involved in the attempt. After meeting with the Pope, Zhelev left Italy for an
official visit to Albania (see below). -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIA WILL PROVIDE AID, BUT NO TROOPS TO EX-YUGOSLAVIA.
Deputy Foreign Minister Stefan Staykov on 7 December said his country will
provide medical and technical aid to the peacekeeping forces in the former
Yugoslavia but has no plans to send military personnel, Reuters reported.
Staykov also announced that Bulgaria and rump Yugoslavia next week will sign
agreements on economic cooperation and air traffic control. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LIBERAL ABORTION LAW.
The Albanian parliament
has passed legislation allowing abortion as a "family planning method,"
international agencies reported on 8 December. Abortion was considered a crime
under communism. But with the current lack of contraceptives in the country,
lawmakers appear to have adopted a more liberal stance. Some 30,000 abortions
are estimated to take place every year. Often illegal abortions end fatally
because of poor medical equipment and knowledge. -- Fabian Schmidt
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN ALBANIA.
During his visit to Tirana on 7-8
December, Zhelyu Zhelev discussed with his Albanian counterpart, Sali Berisha,
plans to build a highway, railway, and telecommunications corridor between
Durres, Skopje, Sofia, and Istanbul. According to Zhelev, Italian President
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro has said Italy will financially back the project. Both
presidents called for regional cooperation in the Balkans following the end of
the Bosnian war and for talks between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians,
international agencies reported on 7 December. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave