FEDERAL TROOPS TAKE PERVOMAISKOE.
Russian federal forces succeeded in
regaining control of Pervomaiskoe by the early evening of 18 January, but
Chechen commander Salman Raduev escaped with a group of his men, Russian media
reported. The figures cited for the number of hostages released or found dead
are considerably lower than the total number taken by Raduev's men from Kizlyar
and subsequently seized in Pervomaiskoe. An Interior Ministry spokesman told
NTV that 28 Chechen militants were taken prisoner and 153 killed, while 26
Russian soldiers died and 93 were wounded. Federal Security Service head
General Mikhail Barsukov told NTV that two "foreign mercenaries" from Syria and
Egypt had entered the Russian Federation via Azerbaijan to fight on the Chechen
side. AFP quoted Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's spokesman, Movladi Udugov,
as saying that Raduev still has several dozen hostages and will release them if
the remaining wounded Chechen gunmen still in Pervomaiskoe are allowed to
leave. -- Liz Fuller
HIJACKED FERRY BARRED FROM ISTANBUL.
After three days of steaming
through stormy seas, the hijacked ferry Eurasia has arrived near the
entrance to the Bosporus Straits where Turkish authorities expect it to anchor,
Western agencies reported on 19 January. Turkey had earlier barred the ferry
from sailing to Istanbul through the crowded straits, and the commander of the
pro-Chechen hijackers, Mohammed Tokcan, told Turkish TV that he had agreed not
to enter the straits for "safety reasons." The ferry, with about 200 hostages
on board, has been sailing in circles about 72 km from Istanbul since 1 a.m.
local time, according to AFP. Turkish Interior Minister Teoman Unusan said he
expects Tokcan to surrender and release the hostages soon. Reports on 18
January suggested that Tokcan had agreed to release the hostages in Istanbul if
he were permitted to give a live television news conference. -- Scott
PRESS SLAMS GOVERNMENT OVER PERVOMAISKOE.
An 18 January political
commentary on Ekho Moskvy derided official accounts of the Pervomaiskoe
operation as "fairy tales," pointing out numerous factual inconsistencies in
them. Izvestiya on 19 January characterized the government's handling of
the crisis as "incompetent," adding that the "smokescreen of feckless lies"
purveyed by official spokesmen could not hide the "bungling of the Russian
military-police machine." NTV on 18 January also expressed disbelief that after
four days of heavy fighting, the government claimed that 153 dead Chechen
fighters were found in the village but no dead hostages. The station noted that
losses were inevitable in such an operation and wondered what had become of the
hostages who remain unaccounted for by official government figures. -- Scott
DUMA ELECTS FIVE DEPUTY SPEAKERS.
The Duma elected five deputy speakers
at once on 18 January by a vote of 359 to 56, with one abstention, ITAR-TASS
reported. Aleksandr Shokhin (Our Home Is Russia) became first deputy speaker.
The deputy speakers are: Svetlana Goryacheva (Communist Party), Mikhail
Gutseriev (Liberal Democratic Party), Artur Chilingarov (Russian Regions), and
Sergei Baburin (People's Power). The Yabloko faction refused to nominate a
candidate for deputy speaker because it objected to having two Communists in
the leadership--as speaker and deputy speaker. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev
said that a deputy speaker slot would be held open for Yabloko since "they are
likely to go back on their decision within a month or so." Yabloko has been
criticized lately for working closely with the Communists. The Duma is expected
to vote for another deputy speaker who will be responsible for ethnic issues.
-- Robert Orttung
IZVESTIYA: SELEZNEV WILL BE PARTY MOUTHPIECE.
Those democrats who
think of the newly elected Duma speaker as a potential liberal or someone
capable of carrying out an independent policy are "either naive or deliberately
deceiving themselves," Izvestiya charged on 19 January. Seleznev's
career shows that his life has been devoted to voicing the decision of his
superiors in the party, the paper asserts. The "loyal and personally
disciplined" Seleznev was able to rise through the Communist Party media with
the help of Leningrad Party boss Grigorii Romanov, a strong opponent of reform.
When Mikhail Gorbachev started perestroika, Seleznev, then editor of
Komsomolskaya pravda, began toeing the new line, giving him the aura of
a "liberal." Seleznev announced on 18 January that he would not leave the
Communist Party during his term as speaker, violating an informal tradition of
nonpartisanship. -- Robert Orttung
INDUSTRIALIST TIPPED TO SUCCEED CHUBAIS.
Vladimir Kadannikov, general
director of the Avtovaz car manufacturer, will probably replace the reformist
Anatolii Chubais as first deputy prime minister in charge of economic issues,
ITAR-TASS reported on 18 January citing an "informed source" in the government
apparatus. The 54-year-old Kadannikov, a close ally of President Yeltsin, is
regarded as a competent, fairly forward-thinking industrial manager. He trained
as an auto mechanic in the 1950s and played a key role in building up the Lada
plant in Tolyatti. Presidential economics aide Aleksandr Livshits has been
tipped as another possible successor to Chubais, according to Segodnya
on 18 January. As the 1996 budget is already fixed and Russia is currently
negotiating with internal organizations for another large loan, it is unlikely
that Russian economic policy will shift dramatically in the short term. --
CHAMBER SENDS ANTI-SEMITIC PAPER TO PROCURATOR GENERAL.
Chamber on Information Disputes sent a case involving an Al-Kods article
to the procurator general for further action, ITAR-TASS reported. The chamber
said that an article entitled "Plan to Free Palestine from Zionism" violated
laws against advocating war and inflaming national and social tension. The
newspaper is owned by a former citizen of Jordan, Shaaban Khafez Shaaban, who
became a Russian citizen after marrying a Russian woman. Russian law prohibits
foreigners from establishing media outlets. The chamber does not have the power
to enforce its own decisions. -- Robert Orttung
IZVESTIYA COMMENTATOR QUITS PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL OVER PERVOMAISKOE.
Izvestiya's political commentator, Otto Latsis, has asked President
Boris Yeltsin to relieve him of his duties on the Presidential Council. In a
letter to the president published in Izvestiya on 19 January, Latsis
denounced the storming of Pervomaiskoe and the war in Chechnya. Latsis said
that he does not want to hold any position that might be perceived as even
indirectly supporting Yeltsin's decisions on the war in Chechnya. The
Presidential Council, created in February 1993, has no real power beyond
advising the president. -- Anna Paretskaya
SAMARA PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY REFUSES TO RESIGN.
On 18 January,
Kommersant-Daily reported that the presidential envoy in Samara Oblast,
Yurii Borodulin, has refused to resign despite being asked to do so by members
of the president's staff. Borodulin said he had been appointed by President
Yeltsin and could be fired only by him. The president's representatives are
touring the regions fingered by former Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov as having
"held elections in an unsatisfactory way" due to the local administration's
weak organizational efforts. However, Borodulin claims that the situation in
his oblast is the same as elsewhere in Russia. In the 17 December election, the
Communist Party finished first in the oblast, with about 20% of the vote. The
president had expected Our Home Is Russia to prevail since the oblast's
governor, Konstantin Titov, was Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's deputy in
the pro-government bloc. -- Anna Paretskaya
SPY SATELLITE SYSTEM ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE.
Russia's military satellites
are wearing out and its early warning system could collapse by the end of the
century, according to a report in the Defense Ministry newspaper Krasnaya
zvezda on 17 January cited by Reuters. Under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev,
up to four spy satellites were launched each year to monitor U.S. nuclear
missile silos and airbases. But following the break-up of the USSR, a lack of
money and the loss of production facilities in Ukraine and Armenia meant that
the launch program ground to a halt. The paper reported that some of the
satellites have been in operation for three times as long as their design
lifespan and warned that if new equipment is not forthcoming, Russia "will have
to get used to the idea of losing strategic equality with the United States."
-- Penny Morvant
ABOUT 40% OF COMPANIES SAID NOT TO PAY TAXES.
An estimated 40% of
Russian companies and organizations do not pay any taxes, Central Bank First
Deputy Chairman Sergei Aleksashenko said on 18 January. Aleksashenko was quoted
by ITAR-TASS as saying he believes this situation could soon lead to a serious
budgetary crisis. The 1996 federal budget calls on the State Tax Service to
provide 246.9 trillion rubles (about $52 billion) in revenue from taxation and
other compulsory payments, according to ITAR-TASS on 11 January. According to
preliminary results, the tax service raised 146 trillion rubles for the federal
budget in 1995. As of 1 December 1995, the total tax debt to the state budget
was 33.8 trillion rubles. -- Penny Morvant
RUSSIAN CRUDE OIL EXPORTS FELL BY 4.6% IN 1995.
Russia exported 122.3
million metric tons of crude oil in 1995, a 4.6% drop compared with 1994, the
State Statistical Committee informed Interfax on 17 January. Exports to the
former Soviet Union dropped by 22.2%, while exports to the rest of the world
increased by 1.5%. A possible explanation could be that each ton of crude oil
exported within the former Soviet Union brings only $73.9, compared with $107.5
elsewhere. Russian exports of oil products fell from 47.3 million metric tons
in 1994 to 45.3 million tons in 1995 (a 4.2% decline). Meanwhile, Russia
exported 192.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 1995, a 4.3% increase
over 1994. -- Natalia Gurushina
INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT DECLINE SLOWS DOWN IN 1995.
According to the State
Statistical Committee, Russia's industrial output in 1995 fell by 3% compared
with 1994, totaling 989 trillion rubles ($211.19 billion) in current prices,
Interfax reported on 16 January. In 1994, industrial production declined 23%
over the previous year. The committee reported sustained production growth in
steel and iron (a 9% increase), the chemical and petrochemical industry (a 8%
increase), non-ferrous metals (a 2% increase), and pulp and wood industries.
Production in machine-building, food, and construction materials dropped by
10%, 9%, and 8% respectively compared with1994. Russia's production of
electricity fell by 2%, crude oil by 3%, natural gas by 2%, and coal by 3%. --
RUSSIA-DE BEERS DIAMOND CONTRACT EXTENDED TILL MARCH.
After two days of
talks in Moscow, the Russian government and the South African multinational
diamond company De Beers failed to reach an agreement on a new contract to sell
Russia's uncut diamonds despite a statement from De Beers' saying the two sides
had made "useful progress," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 January. The current
arrangement, under which De Beers buys 95% of Russia's exports of rough
diamonds, has been extended for another month, until 1 March 1996 (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). Russian producers are getting increasingly
dissatisfied with low prices for their rough gems. Last year, they started to
sell some uncut diamonds for higher prices directly on markets in Antwerp and
Tel Aviv, causing a 7% drop in De Beers' earnings in 1994. The next round of
talks will take place in February. -- Natalia Gurushina
RUSSIA, AZERBAIJAN SIGN PIPELINE DEAL.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev signed a package of
bilateral agreements, including one on the export of so-called early oil from
the Russian port of Novorossiisk, Russian and Western media reported on 18
January. The agreement, under which up to 5 million tons of "early" Caspian oil
will be transported to market annually via Russian pipelines, confirmed an
October decision of the international consortium managing the so-called "deal
of the century." According to Vagit Alekperov, president of the Russian company
"LUKoil," which holds a 10% stake in the consortium, the agreement calls for a
$60 million renovation of the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline, to be
completed later this year. Other agreements included one on economic
cooperation through the year 2000 and a protocol on supplying major industrial
production in 1996. -- Lowell Bezanis and Scott Parrish
UKRAINIAN NATIONALIST PARTY MEDIATES IN BLACK SEA KIDNAPPING CRISIS.
Ukrainian extreme nationalist party UNA-UNSO is negotiating with the Chechen
military to help secure the release of Ukrainian hostages aboard the
Eurasia. UNIAN reported on 18 January. Foreign Minister Hennadii
Udovenko confirmed that the terrorists were willing to allow UNA-UNSO to
mediate in negotiations on Ukrainian hostages. UNA-UNSO has been highly
supportive of Dzhoker Dudayev in his campaign against Russia. -- Ustina
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA.
Following meetings with
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kuchma said problems over the division
of the Black Sea Fleet have been more or less solved and the fleet will be
given the status of Russia's fleet stationed on Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian
Radio reported on 17 January. ITAR-TASS the next day reported that Kuchma said
he opposes any "revolutionary enlargement of NATO." He also stressed that the
recent increase in tariffs on Russian oil transports through Ukrainian
pipelines was not a political matter but strictly an economic one. Finally, the
president announced that Yeltsin will come to Ukraine in the second half of
March to sign the Russian-Ukrainian treaty on friendship and cooperation. --
DRAFT UKRAINIAN BUDGET SLASHES SPENDING ON EDUCATION, RESEARCH.
Ukrainian lawmakers are debating provisions in the 1996 draft budget for deep
cuts in spending on education, scientific research, health, and social welfare
programs, Ukrainian Radio reported 17 January. The current draft slashes
expenditures on research from 1.7% to 0.076% of GDP and from 10% to 6.5% of GDP
on education. The allocation for the country's school system would not be
sufficient to cover teachers' wages and student stipends. The Ukrainian
government still owes trillions of karbovantsi in back wages and stipends since
autumn. The draft budget also foresees a 4% cut in social spending and would
finance only 31% of the basic needs of Ukraine's state-run health care system.
The government has said the cuts are necessary in order to lower the budget
deficit to 6% of GDP this year. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
IMF WITHHOLDS FOURTH TRANCHE OF STAND-BY LOAN FROM UKRAINE.
of the fourth tranche of the IMF's stand-by credit to Ukraine has been delayed
until February or March, Ukrainian radio reported on 17 January. The credit
should have been released in January, but the IMF and World Bank have said that
Ukraine is not making enough progress in its structural economic reforms or in
privatization. -- Ustina Markus
CAUCUSES IN NEW BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT.
The largest caucus in the
Belarusian parliament is the Accord caucus (59 deputies), Belarusian Radio
reported on 17 January. It is followed by the Agrarian caucus (47) and the
Communist caucus (44). Two smallest caucuses are the Social-Democrats (15) and
the Civic Action caucus (18). Five deputies have not aligned themselves with
any group. -- Ustina Markus
BALTIC PRESIDENTS IN GERMANY.
Presidents Lennart Meri of Estonia, Guntis
Ulmanis of Latvia, and Algirdas Brazauskas of Lithuania on 18 January in Kiel
addressed a symposium on the integration of the Baltic Sea region with the rest
of Europe, Baltic media reported. They also met with their German counterpart,
Roman Herzog, and Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein Heide Simonis. --
VISA FREE TRAVEL TO FINLAND FOR ESTONIANS.
Finnish Prime Minister Paavo
Lipponen told Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 18 January in Tallinn that
visa-free travel between the two countries would begin next year if Estonia
fulfilled some technical conditions, ETA reported. Vahi confirmed that Estonia
would introduce passports with security codes in March and improve technology
for border controls. Lipponen reaffirmed his country's support for the Baltic
States' EU membership as a way to increase their security. Vahi noted that
there are Finnish investments in 6,000 companies in Estonia and that Estonia
did not intend to place any limitations on the free movement of goods this
year. -- Saulius Girnius
PRESSURE ON LITHUANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES.
Adolfas Slezevicius told a
press conference on 18 January that his adviser Juozas Palionis withdrew money
from his account in the Joint-Stock Innovation Bank on 18 December without his
written authorization, Radio Lithuania reported. He said he thought that this
information was sufficient to stop the filing of criminal charges against him.
Slezevicius also refused to comment on efforts to fire Interior Minister
Romasis Vaitekunas. President Algirdas Brazauskas asked Vaitekunas to resign,
but the ruling Democratic Labor Party faction wanted him to remain in office.
Sixty-five members of the opposition sent an open letter to Brazauskas that day
supporting his position on the minister. His future is unclear, since 71 votes
in the parliament are needed to oust him, -- Saulius Girnius
UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO BRUSSELS.
following his visit to NATO headquarters, spoke to the EU commission on 18
January. He said that Poland hopes to open negotiations next year for
membership in the EU and to join by the end of the century. "Poland has already
met a great majority of the criteria for membership in the union," Kwasniewski
said. He also met with Belgian King Albert and Premier Jean-Luc Dehaene, Polish
and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski
DECISION ON INVESTIGATION INTO OLEKSY AFFAIR TO BE TAKEN NEXT WEEK.
Andrzej Komarnicki, head of Warsaw's military prosecutor's office, on 18
January said the prosecutors will decide next week whether to launch a formal
investigation into espionage allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy,
Polish dailies reported the next day. Oleksy has hinted he may stand down if
the prosecutors decided evidence offered by the security service was sound
enough to warrant an investigation. President Kwasniewski, following his
returning from Brussels on 18 January, said parliamentary elections may be
needed to resolve the political crisis over the allegations. He said that only
the parliament can decide if elections should be held before 1997. -- Jakub
KINKEL ADMITS CZECH-GERMAN TALKS BOGGED DOWN.
German Foreign Minister
Klaus Kinkel told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on
18 January that talks aimed at Czech-German reconciliation are "disastrously
bogged down," Reuters reported. Following the failure of Kinkel and his Czech
counterpart, Josef Zieleniec, to draft a joint declaration on bilateral
relations, the Czech foreign minister said Germany was raising new demands (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 15 and 17 January 1996). Kinkel said in another
interview he has to represent Sudeten German interests in the negotiations, and
he again called on Prague to distance itself "morally" from the so-called Benes
decrees, under which ethnic Germans were expelled from postwar Czechoslovakia.
Zieleniec declined to comment on Kinkel's latest statements, Czech dailies
reported on 19 January. -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAKIA WILL NOT ASK AUSTRIA TO EXTRADITE PRESIDENT'S SON.
Prosecutor General Michal Valo told CTK on 18 January that he will not ask for
the extradition of Michal Kovac Jr, who was kidnapped in August, dumped in
Vienna, and jailed there on fraud charges. Explaining that extradition can be
requested only if a Slovak court issues a warrant, Valo said that "neither the
investigator nor the prosecutor sees a reason to imprison Kovac Jr." Valo
denied speculation that two investigators were taken off the case because they
suspected the Slovak Information Service was involved. In other news, SIS
director Ivan Lexa on 18 January filed charges against Sme editor Peter
Toth over an interview with former Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner published
the previous day. Pittner had answered questions concerning SIS operations and
leadership. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PRESIDENT ON LANGUAGE LAW.
Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko
on 18 January said that if the implementation of the state language law leads
to any infringements of minority rights, Michal Kovac will ask the
Constitutional Court to decide whether the law is constitutional. The statement
was made after a meeting between Kovac and representatives of ethnic Hungarian
parties. Discussions focused on the language law, prospects for ratification of
the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, and a territorial arrangement bill, TASR reported.
-- Sharon Fisher
ROMANI SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN MINORITIES LAW.
chairman of the nationwide Romani self-government in Hungary, has sharply
criticized the Law on Minorities, CTK and MTI reported on 17 January. Florian
said the law does not allow the direct election of minority representatives to
the parliament, and he expressed surprise that the Council of Europe has
praised the law as a model for all Europe. According to Farkas, CE Deputy
Secretary-General Peter Leuprecht has said Roma could be represented in the
Council as an ethnic nationality if they formed a legitimate all-European
organization. -- Alaina Lemon
HOLBROOKE WARNS "NO MODIFICATIONS" TO DAYTON AGREEMENT.
U. S. envoy
Richard Holbrooke returned to the former Yugoslavia on 18 January for separate
meetings with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Serbian counterpart,
Slobodan Milosevic. The BBC said the next day that Holbrooke's main aim was to
urge Izetbegovic to make sure that the prisoner exchange is carried out as
scheduled. Oslobodjenje the next day quoted Holbrooke as saying there
will be "no modifications" to the Dayton treaty. The Bosnian government has
been linking the prisoner exchanges to accounting for the fate of missing
persons, which representatives of the international community say is not
compatible with the Dayton text. Meanwhile, Carl Bildt told TV Pale on 18
January that Sarajevo's Serbs should stay on. He pointed out that a multiethnic
society was possible before the war and that "what was possible in the past
should be possible in the future." -- Patrick Moore
MORE MASS GRAVES IN BOSNIA.
Bosnian TV on 18 January reported that new
mass graves have been found near Sanski Most and Vozuca. The victims appear to
have been Muslims killed by the Serbs since 1992, but the exact number is
unclear and there has been no independent confirmation of the reports, AFP
noted. Also in Vozuca in central Bosnia, refugees from Srebrenica have staged a
protest about their food and living conditions, Oslobodjenje wrote on 19
January. The Sarajevo daily also said that the governing Party of Democratic
Action (SDA) has launched preparations for Muslims to vote in this year's
elections in areas from which they were "ethnically cleansed." SDA spokesmen
said that some 380 Muslim families were ready to return to Srebrenica. --
BRITISH TROOPS SEAL OFF MUJAHIDIN.
Following an armed incident with
Canadian soldiers on 18 January, 100 British IFOR troops with armored personnel
carriers set up an "overwatch" on 100 foreign mujahidin fighters in a school
near Bihac. The men should have left Bosnia earlier in the week in keeping with
the terms of the Dayton agreement on the evacuation of foreign soldiers. Their
departure has been held up because of problems with the Croatian authorities in
determining transit arrangements. The muhajidin, one of the more controversial
elements in the conflict, have included native Bosnian Muslims in addition to
foreigners. Such Bosnians, as well as foreigners who have acquired Bosnian
citizenship, have the right to stay but the Bosnian government is responsible
for controlling them. IFOR has tried to play down the idea that muhajidin could
be a potential problem. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIA LIFTS LIMITS ON RETURN OF SERBIAN REFUGEES.
The Sabor voted on
17 January to change an earlier decision that required Serbs who fled Croatia
last year to reclaim their property within a three-month limit. The new measure
says that the issue will be regulated by a future agreement between Zagreb and
Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported on 19 January. The paper also noted that
representatives of the Croats in Vojvodina point out that rump Yugoslavia has
yet to clarify the status of its Croatian population. -- Patrick Moore
PROGRESS IN OSCE TALKS ON CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES.
the OSCE official chairing talks on confidence-building measures, on 18 January
said the Muslim-Croatian federation and the Bosnian Serbs have exchanged lists
of weapons and arms sites, Reuters reported. The Bosnian Serbs had failed to
provide the list earlier in the week, citing "technical reasons." Meanwhile,
Robert Frowick, head of the OSCE mission to Bosnia, said in Vienna on 18
January that registering Bosnian voters is a "staggering problem,"
international media reported. The task is complicated by the numbers of
refugees, estimated at 2 million, and the "hundreds and thousands of displaced
people." -- Michael Mihalka
SERBIAN RADICALS ON PROPOSED AMNESTY.
Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader
Vojislav Seselj on 18 January said his party will "not run away from
discussions" about the issue of granting an amnesty to individuals who evaded
serving in the wars throughout former Yugoslavia. But he noted that the SRS
will oppose legislation that offers only a "partial" amnesty, noting that any
serious proposal should include a pardon for "even those who stole something
just to be able to feed their children." Seselj also claimed that Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic had been pressured by the international community
to support an amnesty for draft evaders. -- Stan Markotich
MORE MONTENGRIN AID TO HERZEGOVINIAN SERBS.
Montena-fax on 17 January
reported that Montenegro's aid efforts to Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina continued
that day with the arrival in Trebinje of some 250 tons of food products. The
Montenegrin government launched the aid program earlier this month. Montenegrin
President Momir Bulatovic was in Nevesinje on 13 January to witness the arrival
of a humanitarian aid shipment to the Herzegovinian town. Of the 20,000 people
living there, half are Serbian refugees. -- Stan Markotich
NEW DETAILS ABOUT ATTEMPT ON MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT'S LIFE.
Interior Ministry on 18 January revealed new details about the attempt on the
life of Kiro Gligorov in October 1995, Nova Makedonija reported. The
force of the explosives used in the attack was much greater than initially
estimated, and some 4.5-7 kg were used laced with small metal parts. A ministry
spokesman said the Citroen Ami used as a car bomb was driven by a woman and was
coincidentally photographed by a German tourist the previous day. -- Stefan
ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER BLASTS OSCE OFFICIAL.
Gheorghe Funar, leader
of the Party of Romanian National Unity, on 18 January sharply criticized OSCE
High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel, who is currently in
Romania to discuss concerns about ethnic minorities, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Bucharest reported. Funar described Van der Stoel as "a ghost walking freely in
Bucharest, scaring the citizens." He called on the Romanian government to
declare him persona non grata. The OSCE official has met with President
Ion Iliescu, other Romanian officials, and leaders of the country's large
Hungarian minority. -- Dan Ionescu
DNIESTER CONSTITUTION PROMULGATED.
Igor Smirnov, president of the
self-proclaimed Dniester republic, on 17 January signed the region's new
constitution, Infotag reported. The constitution, adopted by referendum on 24
December, proclaims the Dniester region a sovereign and independent state. Also
on 17 January, the newly elected Supreme Soviet held its inaugural session in
Tiraspol. The deputies re-elected Grigorii Marakutsa as parliamentary chairman
by a vote of 49 to 14. Marakutsa is regarded as a relatively moderate leader
who is prepared to continue the dialogue with the Moldovan authorities. Vasilii
Yakovlev--leader of the Bloc of Patriotic Left-Wing Forces, which that opposes
any rapprochement with Chisinau--received only six votes. According to
BASA-press, Smirnov the same day dismissed Yakovlev as rector of Tiraspol
University. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT?
24 chasa on 19
January reports that Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov will
most likely be nominated presidential candidate at the SDS National Conference
in March. He is likely to run against incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev and an
as-yet unnamed candidate from the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The
most likely candidates are Parliamentary Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Foreign
Minister Georgi Pirinski. Zhelev is trying to secure support from all
opposition forces including the SDS, but many high-ranking SDS members have
made it clear that the union will not support him. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN JUDGES TO RECEIVE POLICE PROTECTION.
All Albanian chief
justices are to receive police protection following attacks on judges
throughout the country, international agencies and the daily Albania
reported on 18 January. Some 45 judges will receive bodyguards following a bomb
attack on the home of the Kukes district court chief judge on 17 January and an
attack earlier this month on the chief of the Tirana district court (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 5 January 1995). No one was injured in either attack.
-- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN COMMISSION DISCUSSES BORDER REGULATIONS.
and Macedonian officials held talks in Pogradec on easing border traffic, Koha
Jone reports on 19 January. Both sides presented and discussed draft agreements
on visa requirements; in particular, they focused on visa fees and the
abolition of visas for diplomats. Albanian Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi is
expected to visit Macedonia soon. -- Fabian Schmidt
NEW GREEK PREMIER ELECTED.
The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement
(PASOK) on 18 January chose former Industry Minister Kostas Simis to head the
next Greek government, Greek Radio reported. In the second round of voting,
Simitis received 86 out of 167 votes and Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos
75. Six deputies cast blank ballots. Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, who
had been expected to advance to the second round, came third in the first
round. Following his election, Simitis promised continuity but also stressed
"the need for new ideas and a change in the way of governing." President Kostis
Stephanopoulos has mandated Simitis to form a new government, which is expected
to be sworn in on 22 January. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave