YELTSIN PLEDGES TO STAY THE COURSE.
During public appearances
in the last three days of 1995, President Boris Yeltsin insisted that he would
press forward with economic and political reform in 1996, despite a strong
showing by the Communists in the 17 December State Duma elections, Russian and
Western agencies reported. On 29 December, Yeltsin asserted that market reform
would not under any circumstances be reversed. Addressing a New Year's
reception the following day, he said that Russians do not notice the main
achievement of political reform which is "freedom," and called on Russians to
be more optimistic. Any attempt to reverse reform, he concluded, would "lead
the country into a dead end." -- Scott Parrish
YELTSIN PLEDGES TO FIGHT POVERTY.
In a New Year's address broadcast by
Russian Public TV (ORT) on 31 December, President Yeltsin said that raising the
living standards of the poor is the main task facing Russia in 1996. Living
standards were down 12% over the first nine months of 1995 in comparison with
the same period in 1994. He again stressed that the government must begin to
pay wage and pension arrears--a major theme of his speeches prior to the Duma
elections--and said those unable to sort out the matter should resign. He also
promised to crack down on those in financial bodies who misused funds earmarked
for social needs, calling it "pure theft," and said compensation would begin to
be paid to people who lost their savings as a result of economic reform,
particularly the elderly. Three days earlier, Yeltsin had called for
improvements in the Economics and Finance ministries, saying "saboteurs" should
be rooted out of those bodies. -- Penny Morvant
FINAL DUMA ELECTION RESULTS RELEASED.
On 29 December, the Central
Electoral Commission released corrected final tallies for the Duma election,
Russian and Western media reported. A total of 69.2 million of the 107.5
million eligible voters took part in the election. A total of 1.3 million
ballots were declared invalid, although the 5% party-list threshold was
determined using the total number of ballots cast, not only valid ballots. Four
parties, with a combined 50.49% of all ballots cast, cleared the 5% threshold.
There were some minor changes from the preliminary results issued four days
earlier. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) won 22.30% of the
party-list vote and 157 Duma seats in all. Our Home Is Russia (NDR) won 10.13%
of the vote and a total of 55 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
(LDPR) won 11.18% of the vote but only one single-member district, and will
have 51 seats. Yabloko won 6.89% and a total of 45 seats. Twenty-four parties
that did not clear the 5% hurdle nevertheless won one or more single-member
districts. -- Laura Belin
CONTROVERSY SHROUDS SECOND ROUND OF MOSCOW OBLAST GOVERNOR'S RACE.
controversy and a turnout of less than 28% (barely exceeding the 25% required
for valid elections), Anatolii Tyazhlov was re-elected governor of Moscow
Oblast with 70.7% of the vote in the second round of elections held on 30
December, Russian media reported the next day. His competitor, Valerii
Galchenko, had tried to withdraw his candidacy on 29 December, claiming an
"intolerable" number of laws concerning the election had been broken, Russian
TV reported. However, the regional electoral commission denied Galchenko's
request, arguing that the deadline for removing his name from the ballot had
expired on 16 December. Under Russian law, a candidate cannot run unopposed, so
removing Galchenko's name would have rendered the runoff invalid. Galchenko has
appealed to Russia's Supreme Court to declare the elections invalid. -- Laura
ANPILOV RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.
Viktor Anpilov, leader of the hard-line
Russian Communist Workers' Party (RKRP), told a St. Petersburg rally marking
the 73rd anniversary of the creation of the USSR that he will run for president
in 1996, Interfax reported on 30 December. Anpilov was a leader of the bloc
Communists-Workers' Russia-For the Soviet Union, which won only one seat in the
Duma despite gaining a surprising 4.53% of the vote on party lists. Anpilov
himself lost his bid for a single-member district Duma seat in Saratov.
Anpilov's bloc espouses more orthodox communist views than Gennadii Zyuganov's
much larger Communist Party of the Russian Federation. -- Laura Belin
ZHIRINOVSKY DEMANDS SPEAKERSHIP, MINISTRIES.
Speaking at a 29 December
press conference, Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky
said members of his faction should be appointed to three ministerial posts and
the speakership of the Duma. Zhirinovsky proposed Vladimir Gusev, who was
elected to the Duma on the LDPR party list, as a candidate for Duma speaker.
Gusev, who served as deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers from 1986
to 1991, "should not raise any objections from the Communists (KPRF),"
Zhirinovsky added. He also said his party should receive the Education and
Social Protection ministries, as well as the chairmanship of the State Property
Committee. The LDPR hopes to gain the chairmanships of eight Duma committees
including those on the budget, defense, Duma business, and privatization. --
TALIBAN REFUSES TO RELEASE RUSSIAN PILOTS.
The release of the seven
Russian aircrew held hostage by the rebel Afghan movement Taliban since 3
August has been postponed indefinitely, Russian and Western agencies reported
on 31 December. Earlier, Taliban agreed to free the crew on 30 December and
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was expected to be present at their
release (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). However, Taliban
subsequently refused to release the crew, demanding information about one
Afghan citizen whom they claim is detained in Russia. On 31 December, Taliban
even refused to receive a Russian delegation for further talks, citing
"security" reasons, but promised to continue negotiations in a few days. --
DISARMAMENT COMMITMENT NOT MET.
Russia has destroyed less than a third
of the 6,331 tanks and about half of the 1,988 armored vehicles east of the
Urals that it had promised to eliminate in a unilateral commitment given in
June 1991 in connection with the conclusion of the CFE treaty, ITAR-TASS
reported on 30 December. Russian General Dmitrii Kharchenko said Uzbekistan,
Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan also missed the year-end deadline to destroy
former Soviet equipment on their territory, Reuters reported on 1 January. He
said that the Russian problem is purely an economic one, adding that his
country wants the deadline extended until the end of 1998. However, ITAR-TASS
reported that the Russian Defense Ministry now believes it is not in Russia's
interests to scrap the rest of the equipment and no longer regards the 1991
commitment as binding. -- Doug Clarke
RECORDED CRIME INCREASES.
During the first 11 months of 1995, 2.5
million crimes were reported in Russia, a 5.6% increase over the same period of
1994, Russian TV reported on 29 December. Among the most crime-ridden areas
were Moscow and Moscow Oblast, St. Petersburg, and Krasnoyarsk Krai. Economic
crime cost the government $4 billion. -- Penny Morvant
BUDGET GETS $1.3 BILLION FROM PRIVATIZATION IN 1995 . . .
Russia's consolidated budget received about 6 trillion rubles ($1.3 billion) in
revenue from privatization, 3.3 trillion rubles less than planned, ITAR-TASS
reported on 28 December. Of this amount, some 4.7 trillion rubles ($1.01
billion) were generated by 12 government-organized loans-for-shares auctions.
The program was hindered by a general lack of demand, as reflected in low share
prices. In addition, eight defense companies were withdrawn from the list
because of strategic considerations. In December, privatization suffered a
serious setback with the collapse of the STET-Svyazinvest deal. -- Natalia
. . . PROSPECTS UNCERTAIN IN 1996.
Speaking on Russian TV on 28
December, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais warned that the
government's opponents in the newly-elected Duma are planning "a battle to the
death against privatization in 1996." However, he said that the millions of new
owners will resist giving up their property, and that "to implement [laws
reversing privatization] without spilling blood will be impossible." He argued
that the Duma would face a bureaucratic nightmare if they tried to roll back
the numerous laws, regulations, and institutions within which the
newly-privatized firms are embedded. On the same day, President Yeltsin signed
into force a new 100-page law on joint stock companies. -- Peter Rutland
NEW RUBLE CORRIDOR IN EFFECT.
The new ruble corridor went into effect on
1 January. Between now and the end of June the government will intervene to
ensure that the ruble stays within the range of 4,550-5,150 rubles to $1. The
ruble currently trades at around 4,650 to $1. The previous band, introduced on
5 June 1995, was 4,300-4,900 rubles to $1. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets welcomed Russia's continuing boom in foreign trade, which he said
rose 24% in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 January. However, he warned that
import restrictions may be introduced on industrial machinery, particularly for
the oil and gas industry, in order to protect Russian manufacturers. -- Peter
RUSSIA TO IMPORT GRAIN.
Deputy Economics Minister Ivan Starikov
confirmed that Russia will have to buy grain abroad after 1995's disappointing
65 million ton harvest, the worst since 1963. Speaking on Radio Rossii on 1
January, he said most import orders will be placed by regional purchasing
funds. AFP reported on 30 December that the federal fund itself has only 1
million of the 5 million tons of grain it needs. Russian grain imports fell
from 35 million tons in 1991 to 11 million in 1993 and 3 million in 1994. --
AKAYEV TAKES OATH IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev took the
oath of office on 30 December after winning re-election the week before,
international media reported. Akayev said that he would launch a "a real war"
on crime during his new term in office, something he alluded to in the latter
half of 1995. He also repeated that there would be personnel changes in the
national and local governments to remove individuals who have hindered reforms.
He also said taxation laws would be changed and pledged to continue market
reforms in the country. Akayev claimed that the fact that he won more than 70%
of the vote is a sign that the people support a policy of "democratization and
reforms." -- Bruce Pannier
32 JOURNALISTS KILLED IN CIS IN 1995.
Thirty-two journalists were killed
in CIS states last year, a sharp increase from the 18 who were killed last
year, Oleg Panfilov of the Glasnost Defense Foundation told Western agencies on
30 December. Fifteen of them were killed in Russia, 10 of them in Chechnya. A
dozen more were killed in Tajikistan, the most recent of which was BBC
correspondent Mehitdin Olimpur who was found shot several times near the state
university in Dushanbe on 12 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13
December 1995). In many instances, the journalists were not simply killed in
combat situations, but rather as a result of their investigative reporting, as
exemplified by last week's murder of Vadim Alferev in Krasnoyarsk. Alferev, who
had written on economic crimes, was found beaten to death outside his apartment
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). -- Roger Kangas
GDP CONTINUES TO DECLINE FOR CIS STATES IN 1995.
The CIS Statistics
Committee's released its economic figures for the January-November 1995 period
on 29 December, AFP reported. According to the committee's figures, Russia's
GDP fell by 4%, while Armenia registered GDP growth of 5%. Azerbaijan and
Ukraine had the worst performances with GDP falling in those countries by 17.4%
and 12% respectively. The report also noted that industrial output for the CIS
fell by 6.1%. Inflation continues to be a problem, with November levels ranging
from 2.5% in Azerbaijan (lowest) to 56.9% (Tajikistan). Finally, the official
figures on CIS unemployment remain very low, with only 2.9 million people
registered as unemployed. The lowest rate is in Uzbekistan (0.3%) and the
highest in Armenia (8.0%). According to a U.S. General Accounting Office report
cited by Western agencies on 30 December, the U.S. has delivered $3.5 billion
in aid to the former Soviet Union since 1991. The aid ranges from $97 per
capita in Armenia to $11.60 in Russia and $7 in Azerbaijan. -- Roger Kangas
UKRAINE TO PARTICIPATE IN BOSNIA OPERATIONS.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry
has announced that a Ukrainian contingent will participate in peacekeeping
operations in Bosnia-Herzegovnia, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 December. Since
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it was unclear whether the unit would be
subordinated to NATO commanders or would have its own command. Ukraine will
also offer use of military transport aircraft to countries participating in the
operation. Kiev took part in UN peacekeeping missions in Bosnia over the past
three-and-a-half years, but when NATO announced that operations would have to
be funded by each participant, Ukraine considered pulling its troops out. The
Foreign Ministry acknowledged that it will have to provide funding for the
Ukrainian contingent and said it is seeking financial aid from other
participants. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT REMAINS MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN IN BELARUS.
According to an opinion poll conducted by the Minsk-based sociological
research service Novak, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka remains the
most popular politician in the country, NTV reported on 29 December. The poll
indicated that 38% of the electorate would vote for Lukashenka if he were to
run for president today. Former Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich gained only 3%
support; former parliamentary speaker Stanislau Shushkevich 7%, and leader of
the nationalist opposition Zyanon Paznyak 6.8%. All three had competed with
Lukashenka for the Presidency in 1994. In other news, Belarusian TV on 28
December quoted leader of the Civic Party caucus Stanislau Bahdankevich as
saying the caucus is ready to support the president and government if they draw
up and implement a reform program. -- Ustina Markus
LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS.
The Central Electoral Commission has
published the official results of local by-elections held on 29 November and 10
December. A total of 913 local deputies were elected, fulfilling the two-thirds
quorum for local sessions to be able to convene, Belarusian Radio reported on
28 December. -- Ustina Markus
16,674 PEOPLE RECEIVE ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP IN 1995.
The Citizenship and
Migration Department announced that Estonian citizenship was given to 16,674
people in 1995, BNS reported on 29 December. Two of them became citizens under
the new citizenship law that went into effect on 1 April and the remainder
under the 1938 law that it replaced. The number of people given citizenship on
the grounds of a language test was greater than in 1994 indicating increased
acceptance by aliens of the need to learn Estonian. Some non-citizens who had
voted in the 1990 elections to the Congress of Estonia were also granted
citizenship. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIA OPENS INTERNMENT CAMP FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
Dainis Turlais and Swedish Ambassador Andreas Adahl on 28 December opened an
internment camp for illegal immigrants, LETA reported the next day. The new
facilities in the town of Olaine, 30 kilometers from Riga, are meant for 70 to
80 people but could house up to 200 people in an emergency. Some 132 Asian
migrants were moved to the camp from a former prison in Olaine. The Latvian
government has spent some 360,000 lati ($670,000) on construction costs while
Sweden has supplied bedding and other needed furniture. Latvia has been unable
to find any country willing to accept illegal immigrants on its territory. --
LITHUANIAN PROGRAMS TO NORTH AMERICA TO BE TRANSMITTED FROM GERMANY.
Lithuanian Radio and TV officials have signed a two-year contract with Deutsche
Welle for the use of transmitters located near Frankfurt to broadcast its
shortwave programs to North America from 1 January 1996, Radio Lithuania
reported on 29 December. The previous transmission of the daily 30-minute
programs by Russian transmitters near Krasnodar cost 300,000 litai ($75,000) a
year. The new contract provides for the transmission of a 60-minute daily
program for some 296,000 litai. -- Saulius Girnius
NEW MINISTERS IN POLAND.
Professor of law Jerzy Konieczny, who headed
the State Protection Office in 1992-1993, replaced Andrzej Milczanowski as
internal affairs minister on 29 December. The same day, Dariusz Rosati, a
professor of law and communist party member from 1966-1990 who since 1991
worked in the analysis department of the UN's economic commission in Geneva,
replaced Wladyslaw Bartoszewski as foreign affairs minister. Stanislaw
Dobrzanski's appointment as defense minister to replace Zbigniew Okonski is
still pending, Polish and international media reported on 2 January.
Milczanowski, Bartoszewski, and Okonski were former President Lech Walesa's
supporters who stepped down with him on 22 December. -- Jakub Karpinski
RUSSIAN TV ON OLEKSY AFFAIR.
Gazeta Wyborcza on 2 January
reported that the Russian TV program "De facto" the previous day was devoted to
the spy accusations against Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy. General Vitalii
Pavlov, a KGB representative in Poland from 1973-1984, said his instructions
from Yurii Andropov, at the time head of the KGB, were not to recruit informers
among Poles. But Leonid Lusin, who made the program, commented that in the
socialist era, high-ranking communist party officials--including
Oleksy--aspired to have the best possible contacts with local KGB
representatives. There is thus nothing strange in the fact that Oleksy was
meeting Soviet, and later perhaps even Russian, intelligence representatives,"
Lusin said. -- Jakub Karpinski
HAVEL SAYS CZECH "MORAL CLIMATE" MUST CHANGE.
President Vaclav Havel, in
his televised New Year's Day address, bemoaned property and financial
speculation, the growth in crime and racism, and "many other matters that force
us to consider whether our society is healthy." He said the "moral climate" in
the country must change, adding that the Czech Republic's successful political
economic changes in the past years "will not be worth much if a moral jungle
predominates among people." He said the state should take better care of
"socially sensitive" questions such as housing and the environment. However,
Havel added that he hoped Czechs would vote in this year's parliamentary and
Senate elections for candidates and parties that will continue the reforms of
the past years and not for those who "parrot the ideas of others and long for
the benefits of power." -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS.
Michal Kovac, speaking on Slovak
Television on 1 January, called on the coalition to be tolerant of its critics.
"Suppressing critics, calling them traitors or enemies, is considered the first
step toward a totalitarian regime," Kovac warned. Kovac called 1995 a "year of
political retaliation." He said "the existence of fear is the most convincing
argument that politics has overstepped the limits defined by democratic
practice and no longer serves citizens." Kovac rejected attempts by "some
political circles" to equate national interests with one political party. "Our
real national interest is to integrate into the uniting Europe . . . together
with our neighbors, in the first stage," he stressed. Kovac expressed optimism
at continuing economic growth but noted that it should not be overestimated.
"Until the economic results are reflected in the population's living standards,
it is only a potential victory," he said. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN TROOPS PREPARE FOR MISSION TO BOSNIA, CROATIA.
400-member peacekeeping contingent of army engineers is preparing to join NATO
forces in mid-January, Reuters reported on 29 December. According to unit
spokesman Major Emil Varadi, the Hungarian contingent will build bridges over
the Sava River and roads in northern Bosnia. The Hungarian unit, which will be
equipped with light weapons, will work with British troops and help defend them
if they come under attack. -- Sharon Fisher
U.S. BRIDGES SAVA RIVER.
Engineers on 30 December finished
installing a pontoon bridge over the raging river that forms a border between
Croatia and Bosnia. The BBC said the bridge is 500 meters long and the largest
one to be built by the U.S. army since World War II. AFP on 2 January reported
that some 200 vehicles had crossed into Bosnia already and that the flow was
deliberately slowed in order not to overtax the roads on the Bosnian side. As
this new route into Bosnia was opened, another began closing: four years and
thousands of tons of food after it was first launched, the Sarajevo airlift is
about to come to an end. Finally, news agencies on 31 December reported that
one U.S. soldier was wounded by a land mine, making him the first American
casualty in the peace mission. -- Patrick Moore
NO DELAY IN HANDOVER OF SERBIAN SUBURBS.
IFOR commander Admiral Leighton
Smith said on 30 December that he has no authority to grant the 80-day
extension to the deadline for the transfer of the Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs as
requested by the Bosnian Serb leadership. The BBC said he wrote parliament
speaker Momcilo Krajisnik that IFOR would nonetheless provide security for the
Serbs. The broadcast called Smith's decision "a major setback for the Bosnian
Serb leadership." -- Patrick Moore
GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER LINKS AID TO COOPERATION WITH TRIBUNAL.
Kinkel issued a statement on New Year's Day saying that reconstruction aid to
the various sides in the Bosnian conflict should be tied to their willingness
to assist the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia based
in the Hague, international media reported. To date, seven Croats and 45 Serbs
have been indicted, the most important of whom are Bosnian Serb civilian leader
Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic. Kinkel
added that "reconstruction aid must if necessary be linked to legal action
taken against war criminals who, if they fall into the hands of the troops of
the NATO peace Implementation Force, must be arrested and handed over to the
relevant authorities. For the establishment of a stable and lasting peace it is
important that justice be done [on behalf of] the victims of war crimes and
that the latter appear before a tribunal as defendants. Maintaining the accused
in their present jobs would jeopardize the peace process." -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIAN SERBS RESCUE U.S. HELICOPTER CREW.
IFOR has not written off a
possible threat from foreign Islamic fighters still in Bosnia, but the Serbs,
Croats, and Muslims have been going out of their way to be helpful. Reuters
reported on 28 December that Bosnian Serb villagers from Sibovska in northern
Bosnia provided a U.S. helicopter crew and guards with heat and shelter that
saved them from a brutal blizzard after the helicopter landed because of
transmission problems. The Americans declined offers of local plum brandy but
praised the Serbs as "heroes." One Serb said he hoped the encounter on
Christmas Day would show foreigners that the Serbs are not "the barbarians we
are made out to be," while another added that "we are civilized people and we
act like normal people." -- Patrick Moore
DID SARAJEVO SERBS SEIZE 11 CIVILIANS?
Bosnian government minister Hasan
Muratovic on 1 January said that Serbs from Ilidza, a Serb-held Sarajevo
suburb, have in the past week seized 11 civilians who were traveling on roads
around Sarajevo opened recently by NATO, Reuters reported. Their fate is not
known. NATO said it knew nothing about the incidents and noted that civilian
police authorities were responsible for launching investigations. Muratovic
called for a change in the IFOR mandate that would allow the force to deal with
terrorism. He added that the Bosnian government may ban its citizens from
passing through Ilidza until those captured are released and IFOR gives
guarantees of safety, the BH news agency reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SERBIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES RECONSTRUCTION IN 1996...
in his New Year's address, has promised the public that 1996 will usher in a
period of economic stability and renewal, AFP reported on 30 December, citing
official Tanjug reports. "Peace has been achieved. . . . I expect the next year
to be a year of economic revival, increased employment, and an increase in the
standard of living," he said. Milosevic added that 1996 will witness a crusade
against "criminality" and a crackdown on those elements that have profited from
violating sanctions. Hinting at how Belgrade will deal with the question of
refugees who flooded into the rump Yugoslavia, he said "I expect . . . [the
refugees'] return will become especially intense following the first free and
democratic elections in the Serbian Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation."
-- Stan Markotich
. . . WHILE MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT PLEDGES UNITY.
Bulatovic has stressed that relations between Montenegro and Serbia were sound
at the close of 1995, Montena-fax reported on 31 December. Serbia and
Montenegro "have to build on their unity . . . ; some 90% of our citizens want
Montenegro to be in the [rump] Yugoslavia," he said. Bulatovic, who previously
outlined the benefits of autonomy for Montenegro, seems intent on further
backtracking from policies that might lead to conflicts between Podgorica and
Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich
RUGOVA AIMS FOR DIALOGUE.
Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova
said he is working intensively on establishing a dialogue with Belgrade, BETA
reported on 29 December. He commented that the U.S. will have to play a key
role in solving the Kosovo conflict and that Tirana also supports negotiations
taking place under an independent mediator. At the same time, he admitted that
there are differences between the Albanian government and the Kosovar
shadow-state but added that these are "insignificant." Albanian President Sali
Berisha has called for a solution that recognizes international borders, while
the Kosovars have unilaterally declared independence from Belgrade. -- Fabian
CROATIAN PRESIDENT GRANTS AMNESTY TO 455 PEOPLE.
Franjo Tudjman marked
the holidays by granting an amnesty to 455 persons who were arrested during and
after Operation Storm in Krajina, Novi list reported on 2 January. They
were released from prisons on 31 December. Those amnestied had not been charged
with war crimes, while another 244 arrested at the same time were not included
in the amnesty. The same day, 88 Croatian citizens were released from a prison
under a separate amnesty. -- Daria Sito Sucic
MELESCANU ON ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN PARLEYS . . .
Romanian Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu, speaking at a press conference in Bucharest on 29 December,
said Hungary's response to President Ion Iliescu's proposals for a "historic
reconciliation" includes some aspects that were not part of Bucharest's
original proposal. He added that as a result, implementation may be delayed.
With regard to the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty, Hungary insists on
including Recommendation 1201 and a more detailed definition of autonomy based
on ethnic criteria and collective rights, Radio Bucharest reported the same
day. -- Michael Shafir
. . . AND ON FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVES FOR 1996.
Melescanu also said
that Romania's main foreign-policy objectives for this year are the country's
integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, consolidating relations with the EU
and neighboring countries, and concluding basic treaties with Hungary, Russia,
Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav republics. He noted that parleys with Russia
will not be influenced by that country's December elections, adding that
Romania continues to insist that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact be condemned in
the treaty with Russia. With regard to Ukraine, he said the dispute over
Serpent Island was about the delimitation of territorial waters and should not
be seen as constituting a territorial claim on Ukraine. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION TO START NEXT WEEK.
Bulgarian newspapers on 29
December reported that the mass voucher privatization program is scheduled to
start on 9 January. One million vouchers have already been printed and will be
sold in post offices throughout the country. For a registration fee of 500 leva
($7), adults can obtain vouchers with a nominal value of up to 25,000 leva
($354) that can then be exchanged for shares in 1,300 state enterprises
totaling about 200 billion leva ($2.8 billion). About half the enterprises are
in industry, while most of the remainder are in tourism, agriculture, and
construction. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT'S NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS.
Zhelyu Zhelev, speaking to
Bulgarian citizens on 31 December, called for, among other things, a crackdown
on crime and a program of land restitution whereby farmers would become "truly
free and economically independent." Zhelev called on the parliament to pass
legislation on health insurance and the state-run media. He also told the
governing Bulgarian Socialist Party "to stop being afraid of and threatening
others with the word NATO; after all, we are going into 1996 and not 1956."
Trud published the address on 2 January. -- Stefan Krause
AMNESTY IN ALBANIA.
Albanian President Sali Berisha has decreed a New
Year amnesty for 90 prisoners, including Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano and
the widow of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha, international agencies
reported on 30 December. Nano's sentence was reduced by eight months, which
leaves him with more than two years to serve. His 12-year sentence for the
misappropriation of Italian aid funds has been repeatedly reduced in amnesties
and appeals. Nexhmije Hoxha's nine-year prison term has been shortened by six
months. She was convicted in January 1993 for misappropriating state funds and
for abuse of power. As a result of previous amnesties, she now has only two
years left to serve. Former Politburo member Lenka Cuko, sentenced for abuse of
power, was freed. The remaining 87 prisoners had committed crimes such as
robbery and theft. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave