MINERS SUSPEND STRIKE AFTER CASH PROMISE.
Russian miners suspended their
nationwide strike after two days on 3 February, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Miners' leaders voted to halt the strike after Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin signed a new pledge calling for payment of 10.4 trillion rubles
($2.2 billion) to the coal industry in 1996--3 trillion more than envisioned in
the 1996 budget. According to Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik, the
government owes miners 400 billion rubles in overdue wages from 1995 and 600
billion for January, Russian TV reported. Coal-Industry Workers' Union Chairman
Vitalii Budko said 95% of the striking miners had returned to work but that the
strike would resume on 1 March if the government reneges on its commitments. --
ZYUGANOV, YAVLINSKII IN DAVOS.
More than 150 Russian participants
descended on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Communist Party
leader Gennadii Zyuganov sought to assure Western politicians and businessmen
that they should not be disturbed by developments in Russia. He said that "a
return to a state monopoly is impossible" and that he supports a stable cimate
for foreign investors, Western and Russian media reported. Yabloko leader
Grigorii Yavlinskii warned that "confiscation and nationalization" are key to
the Communists' platform and that Zyuganov's message in Davos was different
than it is at home. He also said that it would now be possible for Yabloko to
form a coalition with Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar, since the
latter had renounced his ties with Yeltsin, NTV reported 4 February. -- Robert
MASS DEMONSTRATION IN GROZNY.
Some 10,000 supporters of Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev staged a peaceful demonstration in Grozny on 4
February to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region, Russian
media reported. Earlier, Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev said the
withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya could begin in 2-3 weeks, ITAR-TASS
reported. His comments came after a 2 February meeting with the Russian
presidential adviser for legal affairs, Mikhail Krasnov, and the commander of
the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, Russian
Public TV (ORT) reported. Also on 2 February, Russian Economy Minister Yevgenii
Yasin told ITAR-TASS he was concerned that part of the 4 trillion rubles ($840
million) allocated for Chechen reconstruction has vanished without a trace. --
OUR HOME IS RUSSIA CALLS FOR END TO CHECHNYA WAR.
Duma Defense Committee
Chairman Lev Rokhlin and Sergei Belyaev, leader of the pro-government Our Home
Is Russia (NDR) Duma faction, called on the president and government to pursue
negotiations to end the military campaign in Chechnya, Russian media reported
on 2 February. Belyaev said that any presidential candidate representing the
current authorities could only be elected in June if he managed to solve the
Chechnya situation, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin
YELTSIN MEETS WITH DUMA SPEAKER.
President Boris Yeltsin met with Duma
Speaker Gennadii Seleznev for more than an hour on 2 February, Russian and
Western agencies reported. According to the presidential press service, the two
discussed the need for the administration and parliament to cooperate more on
drafting legislation in order to improve the quality of laws passed by the
Duma. Seleznev told reporters that Yeltsin promised to unveil a peace plan for
Chechnya soon. An NTV commentator observed that the meeting will primarily help
the Communist Party become a "respectable force," an image it is trying to
cultivate before the June presidential elections. -- Laura Belin
FILATOV TO LEAD NEW PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS.
Sergei Filatov was sacked after three years as President Yeltsin's chief of
staff and appointed to become First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets'
deputy at an "official presidential campaign headquarters." New reports suggest
Filatov will lead a separate campaign headquarters for Yeltsin, Russian media
reported on 2 February. Meanwhile, the Duma passed by a vote of 255-6 a motion
inviting Soskovets to answer questions about the status of the campaign office
he is heading, which he has insisted will not work for any one candidate. --
NOVGOROD REGIONAL COURT CHALLENGES PRESIDENTIAL DECREE ON ELECTIONS.
Novgorod regional court ruled on 2 February that Article 1 of President
Yeltsin's 17 September 1995 decree on regional elections contradicts the
constitution and requested the Constitutional Court to examine the decree,
ITAR-TASS reported. A group of local deputies had challenged the Oblast Duma's
decision to extend its electoral term until December 1997 in accordance with
the presidential decree. -- Anna Paretskaya
TAMBOV AND SMOLENSK REGIONAL LEGISLATURES EXTEND THEIR TERMS.
and Smolensk oblast Dumas have ruled to extend their term in office until
December 1997, Radio Rossii reported on 3 February. The step drew protests in
both cities. In Tambov both pro-reform political organizations and the
Communist Party's regional branch denounced the decision as anti-democratic.
The regional legislatures were elected in late 1993 and early 1994 for a period
of two years. -- Anna Paretskaya
CHINA LICENSED TO BUILD RUSSIAN JETS.
China has been sold a license to
produce Su-27 jet fighters, Reuters reported on 2 February. Col. Gen. Petr
Deynekin, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, said the sale "will
bring Russia at least $2 billion." The deal was signed in late 1995 and
production is not scheduled to start for several years. Russia will supply the
plant to build the planes and will train the Chinese in its operation. -- Doug
KOKOSHIN WARNS AGAINST NATO EXPANSION.
Speaking at the annual Munich
Wehrkunde meeting of defense experts on 3 February, Russian First Deputy
Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin warned that NATO could set off a backlash
against reforms in Russia if it expands eastward, Reuters reported. In written
comments he charged that such an expansion would also be "in violation of the
obvious obligations of the West not to expand [NATO] after the dissolution of
the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union's consent to German unification." "This is
a historical injustice," he added. "We have retreated to the East and NATO is
advancing in the same direction, pushing us further and further East." German
Defense Minister Volker Ruehe sharply rejected Kokoshin's assertion. -- Doug
GENERAL WARNS THAT ARMY AVIATION FACING EXTINCTION.
Army aviation could
cease to exist as a branch of the Russian armed forces within the next few
years, according to its chief, Col. Gen. Vitalii Pavlov. Russian media quoted
him as telling a "crisis conference" of military and defense industry leaders
on 3 February that his forces had not received a single new-generation
helicopter in 1995 and could not afford to buy any now. While his forces have
2,000 combat aircraft most of them are "long out of date." Mi-24 attack
helicopters have been in service for over 20 years, Mi-8 for 30 years, and Mi-6
for 40 years. -- Doug Clarke
PENSION FUND STILL IN DIFFICULTIES.
The Russian Pension Fund will
experience constant financial difficulties in 1996, the fund's vice president,
Yurii Lyublin, told ITAR-TASS on 2 February. He said the problems are linked to
the declining share of wages in the total income of the population. He added
that in January pensions were paid on time in only 50 of Russia's 89 regions.
According to Moskovskii komsomolets on 3 February, the government still
owes the Pension Fund 1.6 trillion rubles for 1992-94 ($338 million at the
current exchange rate) and 3 trillion for 1995. Delays in the payment of
pensions last year led to demonstrations in some towns and provided plenty of
ammunition for the Communists in run-up to the December Duma elections. --
GAZPROM THREATENS ACTION AGAINST BALTIC STATES.
largest gas company and the sole supplier of gas to the Baltic states, is
threatening to reduce deliveries to Latvia and Lithuania unless they pay off
their debts, BNS and Russian agencies reported on 1-3 February. As of 1
February, the debts of state-owned companies Latvijas Gaze and Lietuvos Dujos
to Gazprom stood at $20 million and $28 million respectively. The Latvian and
Lithuanian companies claim that the current payments crisis is caused by their
consumers' debts ($38 million in the case of Lietuvos Dujos). Estonia, where
the gas company Eesti Gaas has been privatized, is the only Baltic state with
no outstanding debt to Gazprom. -- Natalia Gurushina
RESIGNATIONS IN TAJIK GOVERNMENT.
The Tajik government announced on 4
February that First Deputy Prime Minister Makhmadsaid Ubadollayev had submitted
his resignation, according to Russian and Western sources. In addition,
presidential Chief of Staff Izatullo Khayeyev and the head of the Khatlon
region, Abdujalol Salimov, were dismissed. The moves were meant to placate
rebel military commanders who have occupied the cities of Tursun Zade and
Kurgan-Tyube. The Tajik government has promised amnesty to those in Tursun Zade
and Kurgan-Tyube who voluntarily surrender their weapons. -- Bruce Pannier
MAJOR MILITARY ACTIVITY IN TAJIKISTAN.
The Tajik government brought
extra troops to the capital, Dushanbe, amid fears that two military commanders
occupying cities in the south and west were preparing to attack the capital,
international sources reported. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev's troops, currently
occupying Kurgan-Tyube, have reportedly pulled back from their positions some
15 km away from Dushanbe. Meanwhile, fighters loyal to Ibodullo Baimatov, in
control of Tursun Zade, have remained in the vicinity of the western city. In
the eastern city of Tavil-Dara, 100 government soldiers are reported missing
after fighting last week. Heavy snowfall has brought hostilities to a temporary
halt. -- Bruce Pannier
TURKISH CREDITS TO CENTRAL ASIA, AZERBAIJAN, AND GEORGIA.
Turkey has extended $986 million in Eximbank credits to the republics of
Central Asia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, Zaman reported on 2 February. The lion's
share of these credits has been extended to Azerbaijan ($270 million) and
Uzbekistan ($250 million). Only about half of the credits, or $556 million, has
been used so far. -- Lowell Bezanis
KAZAKHSTANI SUPREME COURT HEAD ACCUSED OF TAKING BRIBES.
prevails about the bribery charges levied against Supreme Court Chairman
Mikhail Malakhov by another member of the court, Utegen Iskhanov, ITAR-TASS
reported on 2 February. Iskhanov accused the chairman of receiving imported
cars and hard currency worth "up to hundreds of thousands of dollars." The
General Procurator's Office has refused to examine the charges on the grounds
that the alleged briber, Almas Nasenov, remains at large. Meanwhile, Majilis
Speaker Marat Ospanov rejected demands to set up a parliamentary commission to
inquire into allegations of corruption and misuse of foreign credits by
government members, Russian TV reported on 4 February. -- Bhavna Dave
RUSSIA TO RETAIN CUSTOMS CONTROLS ON KAZAKHSTANI BORDER.
Russia plans to
keep its customs controls on the border with Kazakhstan despite a 3 February
decree lifting them, Russian media reported on 2 February, quoting a
"high-ranking staff member" on the Russian State Customs Committee. The
official stated that the decree only applies to goods made in the two
countries, but goods produced in third states are still liable to border
controls. He added that eliminating Russian customs posts "would open the way
to drugs from the Central Asian republics and free exports of Russian strategic
materials," as Kazakhstan has unilaterally closed down its customs posts on the
border. -- Bhavna Dave
GEORGIAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS.
an emergency meeting in Tbilisi on 2 February, Georgian opposition leaders
demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Russian troops from the country,
Russian media reported the same day. Georgian United Republican Party leader
Nodar Natadze said that "no matter who is in power in Russia--democrats,
communists, liberals or nationalists--they all stand for the same imperialist
ideas." They accused the government and President Eduard Shevardnadze of
betraying the country's national interests in order to remain in power.
According to the Georgian news agency BGI, the opposition also described the
ratification of the Russo-Georgian friendship treaty as illegal and called for
Georgia to quit the CIS and the annulment of the Russian peacekeeping mandate
in Abkhazia. -- Irakli Tsereteli
RUNOFF ELECTIONS IN AZERBAIJAN.
Runoff elections were held in Azerbaijan
on 4 February in 15 electoral districts where no candidate was elected during
the 12 November parliamentary elections, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported.
Among the 47 prospective candidates were Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov running
in the Genje constituency where ballot boxes were reportedly stolen during the
first round of voting, and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar who was prevented
from standing in the first round as his party was barred from running for seats
to be allocated on the proportional system. On 1 February, police raided
Musavat's headquarters in Sumgait, where Gambar was a candidate, according to
Turan. -- Liz Fuller
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MAKES PERSONNEL CHANGES.
Leonid Kuchma formally
dismissed Anatolii Halchynsky, his advisor on macroeconomic issues, UNIAN
reported 2 February. Halchynsky announced his intention to resign in December
along with another Kuchma aide, Oleksandr Razumkov, to protest what they viewed
as the growing and politically destructive influence of the president's chief
of staff, Dmytro Tabachnyk. Kuchma named Petro Petrashko as his chief economic
advisor in December. Halchynsky has agreed to head the Ukrainian Stock Market
Association, made up of 20 companies so far, and cooperate with the Ukrainian
Center for Economic and Political Research, headed by Razumkov. In other news,
Kuchma dismissed Justice Minister Serhii Holovaty, Deputy Prosecutor Olha
Kolinko and Hryhorii Omelchenko, chairman of parliament's anti-crime committee,
from his presidential committee against crime and corruption. Deputy Prime
Minister Vasyl Durdynets will keep his post as the committee's chairman, while
the president appointed two new deputy chairmen, Prosecutor-General Hryhorii
Vorsinov and his predecessor, Vladyslav Datsiuk. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES ANTI-COMMUNIST LAW.
The parliament on 2
February adopted a law on the immorality and illegality of the former Communist
regime by a vote of 63 to 22, with 24 abstentions, Slovak media reported. Some
aspects of the original bill were modified; the Communist Party was labeled "a
party which did not prevent its members from committing crimes," rather than "a
criminal organization responsible for violating human rights and spreading
terror," as in the original version. Peter Brnak of the ruling Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) expressed appreciation that "the parliament, in
which there are 92 former communists, found the strength to approve [the
bill]." The Party of the Democratic Left, the successor to the Communist Party,
said it may bring the law before the Constitutional Court. The law was
supported mainly by the HZDS and the opposition Christian Democratic Movement
(KDH). -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PREMIER IN CROATIA.
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and
visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn agreed at a meeting in Zagreb on 3
February to further intensify cooperation between the two countries, Hungarian
dailies reported. Horn and Tudjman told a news conference that cooperation
would focus especially on trade and transport, including the improvement of
road and rail links between the two countries. Horn also stressed that the
Balkan peace settlement would not be complete if the Eastern Slavonia problem
is not solved. In other news, Horn and Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti
attended a ceremony at Okucani, Croatia the same day, during which Hungary's
IFOR technical contingent was transferred to NATO command. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
RATIFICATION LETTERS OF ESTONIA-RUSSIA AGREEMENTS EXCHANGED.
Foreign Minister Siim Kallas and Russian ambassador Aleksandr Trofimov on 2
February exchanged the letters of ratification for the agreements signed by
presidents Lennart Meri and Boris Yeltsin in July 1994, BNS reported. The
agreements dealing with the withdrawal of Russian troops and social guarantees
for Russian military retirees were ratified by the Russian Duma in the summer
and by the Estonian parliament in December. Meri regretted that border talks
between the two countries had been unsuccessful for so long even though a
border agreement is "essential, necessary, and unavoidable." -- Saulius
TWO LATVIAN TV COMPANIES ANNOUNCE MERGER.
Andrejs Ekis, the director of
Picca TV, told reporters on 2 February that the company would merge with NTV-5
to form Latvian Independent Television, BNS reported the following day. The
decision to merge was due to financial reasons and the new station would begin
broadcasts at the beginning of April. Ekis forecast that the number of
television companies in Latvia would drop from the current 46 to five in two or
three years. -- Saulius Girnius
SERBS ADMIT THAT SREBRENICA MALES ARE DEAD.
Nasa Borba on 5
February reports that Bosnian Serb officials in Srebrenica told UN human rights
envoy Elisabeth Rehn that the missing men from Srebrenica were killed in
battle. The BBC the previous day noted that few people are willing to believe
that the deaths involved mainly combat casualties and will conclude that up to
8,000 people were indeed massacred. AFP reports on 5 February that still more
mass graves are believed to exist in the Srebrenica area. The BBC said that the
chief UN officer dealing with missing persons, Manfred Nowak, stated that there
will be no lasting peace until the question of missing persons is cleared up.
He added that the three sides have agreed to form a joint commission to deal
with the matter. The broadcast noted that relatives of the missing, like the
women who protested in Tuzla last week, are "at the end of their tether." --
SERBIAN POLICE TO STAY ON IN SARAJEVO UNTIL 19 MARCH.
CNN reported on 3
February that the international community's chief representative in Sarajevo,
Carl Bildt, said that the Bosnian Serb police could remain 45 days more in the
Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs slated for return to government control. He said
this was necessary to avoid a vacuum in authority and to reassure the Serbian
population. BBC reported the next day that the Bosnian civilian authorities had
tried to thwart Bildt's moves, but that the Bosnian military had complied. The
Serbian police have, however, announced a 9 pm to 5 am curfew in those suburbs,
and it is not clear how the Bosnian authorities will respond.
Oslobodjenje noted on 5 February that those suburbs will be under
government control alone after 19 March. The paper added that the government
meanwhile says that only IFOR and the international police should be armed
there. Bildt's arrangement calls for the Serbian police to wear sidearms. --
Some 100 Croatian police will help the force in Mostar
starting 10 February, Oslobodjenje reported on the 5th. The Czech paper
Mlada fronta Dnes said that Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo
Krajisnik stated that Pale does not recognize the new Bosnian republican
government announced last week, since Pale was not party to the arrangement.
Nasa Borba noted that Serbian refugees have begun returning to the
Mrkonjic Grad area, which is passing from Bosnian Croat to Bosnian Serb control
in keeping with the Dayton agreements. Most of the homes there were so badly
damaged that the refugees will not be able to return permanently for some time.
Vecernji list reported that a Serbian radio station in Eastern Slavonia
continues to urge Serbian refugees uprooted in last year's allied offensive to
move into Croatian homes there. Western press reports last week said there are
several signs that the East Slavonian Serbs have no intention of letting the
region return to Croatian control as it is supposed to do. -- Patrick Moore
WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE MET.
The Bosnian factions have withdrawn from
territory adjacent to the zones of separation or set to change hands under the
Dayton peace accords by the 3 February midnight deadline, international and
local media reported. Five Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo were being handed over
are to the Muslim-Croat federation, as were areas around the city of Mostar and
an access corridor from federation territory to the eastern enclave of Gorazde.
The Serb republic assumed control of the area around Mrkonjic Grad in northwest
Bosnia. Bosnian Federation Defense Minister Vlado Soljic said on Croatian TV on
3 February that the Bosnian government and Croat forces had fully complied with
the deadline and that he didn't "think that any side will run the risk of
forcing IFOR to implement this part of the agreement by force." Meanwhile,
Major-General Mike Willcocks, chief of staff of NATO ground forces in Bosnia,
reported in Sarajevo on 3 February that the netural zones around the country
had been violated some 40 times but that all of these had been the result of
"misunderstandings, bad map reading or no map reading." -- Michael Mihalka
ICRC FINDS 88 SERB PRISONERS IN TUZLA.
The International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) found 88 unregistered Serb prisoners on 2 February when it
was finally allowed access to the Bosnian government run prison in Tuzla,
international media reported. The ICRC gave no details on when the prisoners
might be released. The government had denied the ICRC access to the prison
since September 1995. The ICRC said on 1 February that the Bosnian Serbs still
hold some 20 prisoners in defiance of the Dayton peace accords which mandated
all prisoners be released by 19 January. -- Michael Mihalka
IZETBEGOVIC MEETS CHRISTOPHER.
On 3 January U.S. Secretary of State
Warren Christopher met Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and other government
officials in Sarajevo to discuss civilian problems in implementing the Bosnia
peace accords, Onasa reported the same day. Izetbegovic said while the military
part of the Dayton peace agreement was being successfully implemented, the
civilian part that includes the reunification of Sarajevo and Mostar and
establishment of the federation was going slower. He expressed his
dissatisfaction to Christopher over High Representative Carl Bildt's consent to
Serb police staying in Sarajevo for another 45 days, and over Serb destruction
of factories and buildings that are to revert to government control.
Izetbegovic informed Christopher there was little political freedom in the
Republika Srpska in regards to media and political activity, which are
conditions affecting elections, and discussed the release of prisoners. On
prospects for the country's reconstruction, Christopher said: "Bosnia has a
chance, it has a future with the U.S. and strong partners from Europe." --
Daria Sito Sucic
MILOSEVIC, CHRISTOPHER DISCUSS WAR CRIMES, TRIBUNAL.
on 5 February reports that during his visit to Belgrade the previous day, US
Secretary of State Warren Christopher held extensive talks with Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic on the question of Belgrade's cooperation with the
UN War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Milosevic said he would allow
an international war crimes investigator to establish an office in Belgrade,
but resisted pressure to say that his authorities would extradite suspected war
criminals, notably Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic,
to face trial in the Hague. Milosevic described the talks as "frank and open."
For his part, Christopher noted that US relations with rump Yugoslavia were
improving "step by step," but also observed that Washington was not yet
prepared to post an ambassador to Belgrade or to approve financial aid to the
rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich
MILOSEVIC AGREES TO USIA OFFICE IN KOSOVO.
Following the talks, U.S.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher said that Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic agreed to the opening of an United States Information Agency office
in Kosovo, international agencies reported on 4 February. During the talks,
Christopher raised the issue of human rights violations in Kosovo urging
Milosevic to "ensure the status for Kosovo that would ensure respect of
political and human rights" for the Kosovar Albanians. The International
Herald Tribune on 5 February quoted Christopher as saying that rump
Yugoslavia "will never achieve full acceptance into the international
community, will never achieve full approbation by the United States until it
reconciles the status of Kosovo." Albanian President Sali Berisha praised the
planed USIA office and the preconditions Christopher set for the admission of
rump-Yugoslavia into international institutions, Reuters reports on 5 February.
-- Fabian Schmidt
GOLDSTONE SAYS PROMINENT SERB SUSPECTS MAY FACE JUSTICE.
Borba on 5 February reports that in an interview on a BBC program the
previous day, Chief Prosecutor on the UN War Crimes Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, Richard Goldstone, said that the chances of Bosnian Serb leaders
Karadzic and Mladic facing trial in the Hague are increasing. According to the
Nasa Borba, Goldstone appears to be of the opinion that "Karadzic and
Mladic are moving ever closer to the Hague," and said that chances for their
extradition seem greater now than ever before. He did temper his comments by
observing that he did not have a crystal ball, and could not predict exactly
how developments would unfold. -- Stan Markotich
FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
The Democratic Party on 3
February nominated its leader, Petre Roman, as a candidate for presidential
elections to be held in the fall of 1996, Romanian and Western media reported.
Speaking to a crowd of some 1,000 supporters, Roman pledged to put an end to
the "misery, indifference and influence peddling which have become
characteristic of the present authorities." Roman also vowed to be a president
"for the future not for the past," as well as Romania's first social-democratic
president. The 49-year-old Roman, who was the country's first post-communist
premier, was forced out of government by street protests against his economic
reforms in September 1991. -- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY STICKS TO RULING COALITION.
Council of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on 3
February decided to remain in the governmental coalition, Romanian media
reported. Despite the recent conflict that emerged around the dismissal of
Telecommunications Minister Adrian Turicu, a PUNR member (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 31 January), party Chairman Gheorghe Funar said "we did not join
the governmental coalition in order to quit it." Another PUNR minister, Valeriu
Tabara, said however, that practically all of the ministers who are members of
the PUNR have been suspended, due to systematic obstruction by the ruling Party
of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). Turicu was dismissed on the ground of
having appointed one of his proteges as director of the Romtelecom company. --
CIS REJECTS DNIESTER MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION.
The Executive Secretariat
of the Commonwealth of Independent State in Minsk rejected an application for
membership from the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, BASA-press and Moldpres
reported on 2 and 3 February. In reply to an application submitted by Dniester
President Igor Smirnov on 5 January, the secretariat stressed that "Moldova,
which includes the Dniester region, is a CIS member since 27 June 1994, when
the Moldovan parliament ratified the CIS statutes." Cooperation within the CIS,
the letter added, is based on respect for the territorial integrity of its
member states and on refraining from any action which may encourage territorial
dismemberment. Over 80% of the participants in a Dniester referendum held on 24
December voted in favor of the region's adherence to CIS as a separate entity.
-- Dan Ionescu
GREECE, MACEDONIA CUT VISA FEES.
Delegations from Macedonia and Greece
on 2 February in Skopje ended two-day talks on normalizing relations, AFP
reported the same day. They signed an agreement aimed at making traveling
between the two countries easier. Visa fees will be cut by about 80% and will
cost no more that around $5. Both sides said this agreement will "stimulate the
exchange of people and goods [and] speed up economic cooperation." The
Macedonian and Greek governments have agreed that delegations meet at least
twice a year to discuss bilateral relations. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIA TO INTENSIFY TALKS WITH NATO.
The Bulgarian government on 2
February decided to intensify its talks with NATO, including on possible
membership in the alliance, Standart reported the following day. An
expert group from the foreign and defense ministries is scheduled to prepare a
document on Bulgaria's position on NATO enlargement by the end of March. The
decision comes after NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs
Gebhardt von Moltke on 29 January called for an "intensified dialogue" and
asked Sofia to respond to that offer by the end of March. So far, the Socialist
government has said Bulgaria will join NATO only if it becomes a system of
collective security and takes Russian objections into account. -- Stefan
FORMER ALBANIAN PRESIDENT BACK IN JAIL.
The last communist president of
Albania, Ramiz Alia, was arrested on 2 February, AFP and Reuters reported. Alia
is charged with political persecution, deportations and ordering the use of
firearms against civilians, including border killings and ordering police to
fire on protesters in 1990-1991. A Tirana court rejected an appeal by his
lawyer Kleanthi Koci to put him under house arrest. Koci submitted a medical
report saying that Alia suffered from a serious heart problems. However, the
court ruled that Alia was "a danger to society". Alia was first arrested in
1992 and sentenced to nine years in prison for abuse of power and human rights
violations. He was released in July 1995 following a series of amnesties and
the introduction of a new penal code. Investigations are continuing into
another 31 communist officials arrested and charged with crimes against
humanity. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN JOURNALIST FREED.
Altin Hazizaj, a journalist of Koha Jone who
was arrested on 31 January while reporting on the eviction of a squat in
Tirana, was released on 2 February. The release followed several protests by
international human rights groups who claimed that Hazizaj was obstructed in
fulfilling his journalistic duty to report on the eviction of former political
prisoners from an unfinished building they had occupied. An investigation
against Hazizaj for allegedly assaulting two policemen will continue and he has
to report to authorities twice a week, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 3
February. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Ustina Markus