DUDAEV THREATENS WESTERN EUROPE.
Speaking at a press conference in the
Chechen village of Roshni-Chu during the night of 56 February, President
Dzhokhar Dudaev asserted that he no longers plans to wage war against Russia,
but intends to attack Western Europe, which he accused of provoking the war,
Radio Rossii reported. Dudaev further accused the OSCE mission in Chechnya of
inciting hostilities and claimed that the U.S. government had given Moscow $6.5
billion to help finance the war--a claim that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow
swiftly denied. In Grozny, thousands of Dudaev supporters demonstrated for the
third consecutive day to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya.
NTV reported on 6 February that Dudaev's chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, has
issued orders to his field commanders not to hold any further talks with the
pro-Moscow government of Doku Zavgaev. -- Liz Fuller
COMMUNISTS PROMISE NEW CONSTITUTION IF THEY WIN PRESIDENCY.
constitution is atop the agenda if a communist candidate wins the presidential
elections, State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev told Rossiiskaya gazeta
on 6 February. Seleznev suggested that the proposed new constitution would
eliminate the presidency and restore the supremacy of parliament. -- Penny
CHERNOMYRDIN BREAKS VACATION.
A government spokesman said on 6 February
that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, on vacation in the Black Sea resort of
Sochi, would return to Moscow on 7 February for two days of meetings, Russian
media reported. Chernomyrdin will attend a meeting of the Security Council and
meet a Danish government delegation. Chernomyrdin's departure on vacation at
the weekend prompted speculation in the press that he was about to be sacked,
but he has denied the rumors. -- Penny Morvant
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT STARTS HEARINGS ON DEPUTIES' IMMUNITY.
Constitutional Court began hearings 6 February on President Boris Yeltsin's
request to test the law on Duma deputies' immunity status, Russian media
reported. The constitution says members of the parliament cannot be arrested,
or subjected to investigation except when detained at the scene of a crime;
they also cannot be subjected to body searches. Yeltsin objected to the
widening of the immunity limits, which, according to the law, covers a deputy's
housing, luggage, transport, correspondence and documents, and excuses a deputy
from testifying in court. The Duma representative to the court, Sergei Baburin,
defended the existing norms of parliamentary immunity as necessary to preserve
"the deputy's freedom of political action," and protection from possible
political manipulation of the legal system. The court is expected to announce
its verdict this month. -- Anna Paretskaya
FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS LAW ON SUBSISTENCE MINIMUM.
Council rejected the draft law on the subsistence minimum on 6 February,
Russian media reported. Under the law, which Yeltsin has rejected on two
occasions, benefits would be paid to people whose income is below the
subsistence minimum. Last year, an average of 37 million Russians lived below
the poverty line, which was set in December at 327,000 rubles ($69) a month.
The upper house acknowledged that the law is essential but was concerned that
it would require 30 to 60 trillion rubles not provided for in the 1996 budget.
St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak said that if the law was passed in its
current form it would share the fate of the law on veterans, which has never
been implemented because of financial constraints. -- Penny Morvant
LAWS STALL IN FEDERATION COUNCIL.
At its meeting on 7 February the
Federation Council also failed to overcome President Boris Yeltsin's veto on
four other laws which had previously passed both parliamentary chambers. The
laws pertained to financial support for the northern regions, the regulation of
public meetings, the governmental structure of regional subjects, and the
securities market. The law regulating the securities market, which is urgently
needed, has been en route through the legislature since 1994. -- Peter
REMAINING PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL MEMBERS ENDORSE YELTSIN.
of the advisory Presidential Council, including Andranik Migranyan, Sergei
Karaganov, and Emil Pain, expressed their continued support for President Boris
Yeltsin in an open letter published in Izvestiya on 7 February. The letter was
written in response to the recent resignations of several members of the
council, including human rights advocate Sergei Kovalev and Izvestiya
commentator Otto Latsis. The authors argued that Yeltsin remains the "main
bulwark of democracy in Russia." They contended that in the face of "a rising
threat of Bolshevik restoration," supporting Yeltsin was the "only reasonable
course of political action." The authors did, however, express strong
disagreement with Yeltsin's Chechnya policy, and urged the president to take
immediate steps to reach a peaceful settlement of the conflict there. -- Scott
FOREIGN MINISTRY SLAMS AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN.
Foreign Ministry spokesman
Grigorii Karasin harshly criticized the Ambassador to the Vatican, Vyacheslav
Kostikov, on 6 February for his comments in a 4 February interview with NTV,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Kostikov, who served as President
Yeltsin's press secretary until December 1994, gave the interview in connection
with the upcoming release of his memoirs, excerpts from which have already been
published in Argumenty i fakty. In the interview, Kostikov painted a
negative portrait of Yeltsin as power-hungry and lacking a "democratic ideology
of his own," adding that Yeltsin's inner circle of advisors conducted a
"constant, exhausting struggle" for influence over the president. Karasin said
that Kostikov's comments were "a violation of moral and professional rules and
norms" since it is "unacceptable for an ambassador to make negative comments
about the leadership of his own country." -- Scott Parrish
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST ARRESTED FOR SPYING.
Aleksandr Nikitin, a Russian
employee of the Norwegian-based environmental group Bellona, was arrested by
the Federal Security Service in St. Petersburg on charges of espionage,
ITAR-TASS reported on 7 February. In a press release from Oslo, Bellona
described the arrest of Nikitin, a nuclear expert who used to serve in the
Northern Fleet, as a "serious blow against democracy and environmental efforts
in Russia," according to Western agency reports. Bellona, which was founded in
1986, specializes in charting radioactive contamination of the Kola peninsula.
The organization has been subject of a criminal investigation since the release
of a report in October on the appalling state of a nuclear waste dump used by
the Northern Fleet that the Russian authorities claim revealed state secrets.
-- Penny Morvant
IRAN BEGINS PAYING FOR BUSHEHR REACTOR.
Grigorii Kaurov, a spokesman for
the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy, told journalists on 7 February that
Iran had begun making payments for the completion of the controversial Bushehr
nuclear power station, Russian and Western agencies reported. Kaurov said that
under the terms of the estimated $800 million Russo-Iranian contract that went
into effect on 12 January, the first VVER-1000 reactor bloc on the site will be
completed by 2000. Russian technicians continue to prepare the site for
full-scale construction, which Kaurov predicted would begin no sooner than May.
The possible construction of three other reactors at the site has been
discussed with Iran, he said, but has not yet been finalized. Kaurov also noted
that Iranian specialists for the plant will be trained at Novovoronezh power
station. -- Scott Parrish
BALTIN GLAD TO BE RELIEVED OF COMMAND.
Admiral Eduard Baltin, the former
commander of the Black Sea Fleet, told Russian media on 5 February that he was
"deeply grateful to the Russian president for relieving me of the burden that
rested on my shoulders." Baltin said that the could not hand over part of the
fleet to Ukraine, as he had been ordered to, because it represented "not only
history but also a part of Russia." He said that he therefore had been
dismissed because of "pangs of conscience." Baltin turned over command of the
fleet to his deputy, Vice Admiral Gennadii Suchkov, on 5 February. -- Doug
RUSSIA AND CHINA COMPLETE SU-27 DEAL.
Russia and China have concluded a
secret agreement which allows completion of the delayed sale of 72 SU-27
fighters to China, The New York Times reported on 7 February. One-third
of the planes had been delivered under a 1992 deal, but further deliveries
stalled because of Russian complaints about the barter goods China was using to
cover two-thirds of the estimated $1 billion purchase price. The new agreement
settled the payment terms, clearing the way not only for delivery of the
remaining planes, but also for a contract allowing China to produce the SU-27
under license, (see OMRI Daily Digest 5 February 1996). -- Scott
CONTROVERSY OVER NORILSK NICKEL INTENSIFIES.
The Duma set up a
commission on 2 February to investigate the privatization of Norilsk Nickel,
and on 5 February Procurator General Yurii Skuratov announced that he was
opening an investigation, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. In November
Oneksimbank won control of the state's 38% stake in the firm in return for a
$170 million loan, in an auction which the bank itself organized. Norilsk
Director Anatolii Filatov has refused to allow the bank to appoint any new
directors, and successfully went to court to block a bank request to call an
emergency shareholders' meeting on 2 February. Norilsk Nickel has annual sales
of $1.2 billion, and produces 90% of Russia's nickel and cobalt, 75% of its
copper, and all its platinum. Due to chronic wage arrears the firm's trade
unions are supporting Oneksimbank in its effort to take over the firm.
Krasnoyarsk Krai governor Valerii Zubov, who sits on the Norilsk board of
directors, is taking a neutral position in the dispute, according to Russian
Television on 23 January. -- Peter Rutland
POSSIBLE REVISIONS TO SHARES-FOR-LOANS SCHEME.
In the wake of criticism
of the results of the 1995 loans-for-shares auctions, the government is
considering repaying the loans and repossessing some of the shares, Russian
media reported on 3 February, although it is not clear where the money for such
an operation would come from. If the loans-for-shares auctions are restarted,
the rules will probably be altered. Likely changes include barring the State
Property Committee's agent banks from participating, and allowing bidders to
pay part of the required deposit with treasury bills. -- Natalia Gurushina
DEFENSE CONVERSION HOPES IN SVERDLOVSK . . .
Overall production at
defense plants in Russia has fallen by 44% over the past two years, radio Ekho
Moskvy reported on 6 February. Conversion programs have been hindered by a
shortage of investment for retooling. However, the special agreement signed by
Sverdlovsk Oblast with the federal government (see OMRI Daily Digest 12
January 1996) allows the oblast to divert federal tax revenues directly into
conversion projects at local defense plants. Thus the Mias rocket design center
in Sverdlovsk Oblast is building a line for the production of city trams,
formerly imported from Czechoslovakia, Russian Television reported on 6
February. -- Peter Rutland
. . . BUT ST. PETERSBURG ROCKET PLANT IN TROUBLE.
Like many defense
plants, St. Petersburg's Severnyi Zavod is on the brink of financial collapse,
NTV reported on 5 February. The plant produces Patriot-style surface to air
missiles, but has been reduced to making toboggans and other consumer goods.
The last purchase order from the Russian government was for 62 rockets, in
1994. They managed to sell 120 S300 missiles to China last year, but had to
accept payment in barter goods (such as lighters, thermoses, and china dogs)
which they gave out as wages. Two local banks that accepted Severnyi promissory
notes, Kredit Petersburg and Metal Invest, have gone bankrupt. -- Peter
NIYAZOV VISITS TURKEY.
The Turkish papers Cumhuriyet and
Zaman reported on 6 February that Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov
is in Turkey for discussion of the gas pipeline project running through Iran
and Turkey to Europe. Confusingly, some international agencies were still
reporting that Niyazov will not visit Turkey until next week. Rumors are
circulating in Ashgabat that Niyazov's health is poor and that he may be going
to Turkey for medical treatment. -- Lowell Bezanis
UN GROUP ARRIVES IN UZBEKISTAN.
A delegation to evaluate Uzbekistan's
human rights record arrived in Tashkent on 5 February, Uzbek television
reported, as noted by the BBC. Under the auspices of the UN Development
Program, the group will meet with various government officials, NGO's, and
political party leaders. They are also scheduled to meet with several
opposition figures whose parties are currently not registered with the
government. -- Roger Kangas
FBI TO TRAIN KAZAKHSTANI OFFICIALS TO FIGHT CRIME.
Following a meeting
between Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and FBI Director Louis Freeh
at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the FBI promised to help Kazakhstan train
its law enforcement agents to fight crime, Western media reported on 6
February. This meeting was a follow-up to an agreement reached between the two
countries in March to cooperate to combat nuclear weapons smuggling, drug
trafficking, and other organized and financial crimes. -- Bhavna Dave
RUSSIA BLASTS EST0NIA FOR DEPORTING ULTRANATIONALIST.
Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin on 6 February condemned the recent
expulsion from Estonia of ultranationalist Petr Rozhok, BNS reported. Rozhok, a
Russian citizen who was the Estonian representative of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
Liberal Democratic Party, was deported for "anti-constitutional activity" in
March 1995. Estonia subsequently granted him visas to attend two court appeals
but expelled him after those visas expired. Officials in Moscow told BNS they
do not regard the deportation as aimed against a specific person but as a
precedent-setting case for expelling Russian citizens. -- Saulius Girnius
DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN LATVIA.
Niels Helveg Petersen and his Latvian
counterpart Valdis Birkavs, meeting in Riga on 5 February, signed an agreement
to help finance Latvia's efforts to join the EU, BNS reported. Denmark plans to
allocate 35 million Danish kroner ($6 million) for technical and administrative
assistance to Poland and the three Baltic states. Petersen the next day held
talks with Prime Minister Andris Skele, parliamentary speaker Ilsa Kreituse,
and other parliamentary deputies. He said that Denmark supports Latvia's
membership in the EU, NATO, and the World Trade Organization and added that
visa-free travel between Latvia and Denmark was also discussed. -- Saulius
LITHUANIAN COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER TENDERS RESIGNATION.
Zintelis on 5 February submitted a letter of resignation, but Prime Minister
Adolfas Slezevicius refused to accept it, Reuters reported the next day.
Zintelis said his decision was not connected with the current campaign to oust
the premier, explaining that he wanted return to an academic career. Meanwhile,
Seimas deputy Bronislovas Genzelis, who resigned from the ruling Democratic
Labor Party in December, was formally accepted as the eighth member of the
Social Democratic Party faction. -- Saulius Girnius
NEGOTIATIONS ON NEW POLISH GOVERNMENT CONTINUE.
Leaders of the two
ruling parties in Poland--the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish
Peasant Party (PSL)-- continue to discuss the formation of a new government.
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (SLD), who was appointed prime minister last week, said
on 6 February that he wanted to have the cabinet sworn in the next day. But
former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy said the PSL was opposed to Privatization
Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek and Interior Minister Jerzy Konieczny. Jerzy Wiatr
(SLD) and Leszek Kubicki, a non-party Supreme Court Justice, are candidates for
the education and justice portfolios, respectively, Polish dailies reported on
7 February. -- Jakub Karpinski
POLISH EDITOR SENTENCED FOR REVEALING STATE SECRETS.
formerly spokesman for Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and since 1990 editor of the
satirical weekly Nie, was sentenced on 6 February to a one-year
suspended prison sentence for publishing secret documents. The court also
ordered him to pay a $4,000 fine and banned him from working as a journalist
for one year. In June 1992, Urban had published documents dating from 1959
suggesting that Zdzislaw Najder, who was head of RFE/RL's Polish service in the
1980s, was a secret police informer. Urban said he would appeal the sentence.
His weekly has a circulation of hundreds of thousands and frequently is
critical of right-wing politicians, Polish national symbols, and the Catholic
Church. -- Jakub Karpinski
RUSSIANS DENY CZECH SECRET SERVICE CHARGES.
The Russian embassy in
Prague on 6 February denied Czech secret service (BIS) charges that Russia has
launched a campaign to discredit the Czech Republic in the West, Czech media
reported. BIS's annual report for 1995 accuses Russian intelligence services of
trying to hinder the Czech Republic's possible admission to NATO and speculates
that they could also try to influence the Czech parliamentary elections in late
May. An embassy official called the reports "open provocation." According to
Mlada fronta Dnes on 6 February, BIS estimates that around 400 Russian
agents are operating in the Czech Republic, including 56 accredited diplomats.
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus refused to comment on the allegations, saying he
has not yet read the BIS report. -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAKIA REJECTS NEUTRALITY.
The Slovak Foreign Ministry on 6 February
issued a statement rejecting Russian Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin's
recent proposal that a neutral zone be created in Central Europe between NATO
countries and Russia. The ministry said the Russian plan "does not correspond
with progress in discussions on the security model for the 21st century." In
other news, a 10-day joint Slovak-U.S. military exercise began on 6 February in
Zilina. Training is focused on reconnaissance tasks for international
humanitarian missions, non-military rescue missions, aid to civilians in
military conflicts, and fighting terrorism, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK JUSTICE MINISTRY REACTS TO PROTEST AGAINST FOUNDATIONS BILL.
Slovak Justice Ministry on 6 February issued a statement responding to the
ongoing campaign by the Third Sector Association against the bill on
foundations (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 January 1996). The ministry
denied the association's claims that the bill was prepared within a couple of
days and without consulting those affected by it. It said the draft bill has
yet to be reviewed by the cabinet and that the parliament will have the final
word. Representatives of the Third Sector Association are expected to meet on
12 February with Katarina Tothova, deputy premier for legislative issues,
Praca reported. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT DIVIDED OVER SCREENING LAW.
Hungarian deputies on 6
February began to debate an amendment to the screening law, Hungarian dailies
reported. The law, which was passed under the previous administration in 1994
and subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, forbids
those who worked for the communist-era III/III department of the secret service
from holding public office. Coalition and opposition deputies are at odds over
who should be screened. The cabinet's draft law provides for screening only
those who have taken an oath in the parliament, while the opposition wants to
include judges, prosecutors, and senior officers in the armed forces and
police. Ferenc Koszeg of the Alliance of Free Democrats, the junior coalition
party, argued that the law should allow all reports, not just those maintained
by the III/III department, to be made public, including those on Hungarian
emigres and enlisted soldiers. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BOSNIAN SERBS BREAK OFF TIES WITH SARAJEVO GOVERNMENT OVER ARRESTED SERBS.
Pale has broken off contacts with the Sarajevo government and threatened to
block traffic into Serb-held suburbs if the eight recently arrested Serbs are
not freed, Nasa Borba said on 7 February. The Onasa news agency reported
the previous day that the government has identified General Djordje Djukic and
Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic as responsible for "a large number" of murders in
eastern Bosnia and around Sarajevo. A government spokesman said the two were
arrested during "a routine traffic control" on 30 January. Oslobodjenje
on 7 February added that Djukic served in the Yugoslav army in Belgrade but
later followed General Ratko Mladic to the Bosnian Serb general staff. The
government has asked the Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal for the
Former Yugoslavia to take part in investigations. The other Serbs were arrested
for possessing quantities of weapons and explosives. Elsewhere, Human Rights
Watch has appealed to the UN Security Council not to lift sanctions against the
Bosnian Serbs yet. -- Patrick Moore
ADMIRAL SMITH STILL WILL NOT SEND IFOR AFTER WAR CRIMINALS.
Shattuck, the U.S. State Department's top official for human rights, has taken
NATO commander Admiral Leighton Smith by helicopter to two of the most
notorious sites of Serbian atrocities. The men visited the Omarska camp and saw
one building from which no prisoner is known to have emerged alive. Shattuck
called it a "killing camp" but arrived to find a freshly painted Serbian army
barracks with soldiers lounging around and watching television. The Serbs said
that the reports on the camp by journalists and survivors were propaganda. The
two officials later flew to the Ljubija mine, believed to be a huge mass grave.
Smith said he still will not have his men "seek out" war criminals, because
this is not in their mandate. The BBC on 7 February commented that many doubt
that the war criminals will ever face justice unless IFOR becomes more involved
in hunting them down. -- Patrick Moore
PALE PREVENTS BANJA LUKA MAYOR FROM MEETING U.S. ENVOY.
Clinton's special envoy Robert Galucci is in Banja Luka to meet leading
personalities, Nasa Borba reported on 7 February. He spoke to the heads
of the Roman Catholic and Islamic communities as well as with some Serbian
politicians. But the Independent Social Democratic Party charged the hard-line
Pale leadership with having blocked his meeting with Mayor Predrag Radic.
Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje quoted Michael Steiner, the deputy
of the international community's Carl Bildt, as saying dialog between local
Serbs and the government on reintegrating the capital is progressing well. --
UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL MEETS WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.
Elisabeth Rehn on 6
February visited the Bosnian-Serb stronghold of Pale to hold talks with
Republika Srpska Vice President Nikola Koljevic, parliamentary speaker Momcilo
Krajisnik, and Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic, Nasa Borba reported. Rehn
said Bosnian Serb leaders have granted her freedom of movement to carry out her
work, despite disagreement over the Hague-based war crimes tribunal and mass
graves in Bosnia. Krajisnik complained that the trials in The Hague have been
politicized, with charges of ethnic cleansing and massacres unfairly slanted
against Serbs. He added that "Muslims were keeping Serbs as ethnic hostages in
government-controlled towns," according to AFP. Rehn told the reporters she
believes some missing Srebrenica citizens are still alive, "although they were
not in the Srebrenica area," Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic
U.S. ANNOUNCES INCREASED AID AMID CONTINUED EU CRITICISM.
The U.S. on 6
February announced it is increasing aid to Bosnia, international news agencies
reported. A U.S. official speaking in Tuzla said his government wants to
allocate $200 million in economic assistance to Bosnia for the remainder of the
1996 fiscal year. The U.S. previously had said it would contribute only $600
million. It has come under ongoing criticism by the EU, which expects the U.S.
to provide one-third of the estimated $5.1 billion needed for reconstruction in
Bosnia. An EU spokesman in Brussels was also critical of Japan and the Islamic
states. Meanwhile, a spokesman in Washington said the U.S. will step up efforts
to accelerate the deployment of UN police to Bosnia. -- Michael Mihalka
APPEALS FOR MORE AID.
Regional leaders attending the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland, have appealed for more aid, international agencies
reported. Bosnian Prime Minister Hsan Muratovic estimated Bosnian war damage at
$45 billion, while the Croatian delegation said their country needed $17
billion. Rump Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic estimated his country lost
more than $200 billion directly and indirectly through the war. Hungarian
President Arpad Goncz asked that some of money be earmarked for aiding
Hungarian infrastructure. Meanwhile, The World Bank reported that almost 90% of
the Bosnian population depends on international aid. -- Michael Mihalka
UNHCR SAYS NO BOSNIANS WERE COMPELLED TO GO TO AUSTRALIA.
official in Belgrade on 6 February denied that Bosnians have been sent against
their will to Australia, international media reported. He said refugees who
fled the enclaves of Zepa and Srebenica when they fell to Bosnian Serb forces
in the summer of 1995 "adamantly refused to go back." But a spokesman for a
group of some 100 refugees in Adelaide said they had been sent against their
will and wanted to return. The UNHCR official said the refugees in Australia
are welcome to return to Bosnia but will have to wait their turn, since there
are the tens of thousands of other refugees seeking help in repatriation. --
GAS CUT OFF TO ZAGREB.
Many residents of the Croatian capital on 7
February found themselves without gas amid sub-zero temperatures, German media
reported. The energy firm INA is seeking to force the state-run gas board to
pay 28 million kuna ($5 million) in back debts. INA plans to cut off more gas
gradually. -- Patrick Moore
MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT URGES UNITY IN GOVERNMENT COALITION.
on 6 February appealed to the Social Democratic Union, the Socialist Party, and
the Liberal Party to keep the present government coalition together, Reuters
reported. Gligorov' statements followed reports that Prime Minister Branko
Crvenkovski is preparing to name a new government without the Liberals.
"Excluding one member of the coalition from the future reconstructed government
is not a political platform I represent [nor is it] the will of our voters,"
Gligorov said. The Liberals complained that Crvenkovski excluded them from
talks about a new government. The dismissal of Macedonian TV editor-in-chief
Saso Ordanoski, a Social Democrat, may have been a result of the coalition
crisis. Macedonian TV Director-General Melpomeni Korneti, a Liberal, reportedly
disagreed with one of his editorials predicting there would be no Liberals in
the next government. -- Stefan Krause
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DENIES SEEKING MOSCOW'S HELP IN 1989.
Ion Iliescu has
denied accusations that he sought Moscow's help during the December 1989
revolt, which many Romanians believe was hijacked by his leftist allies,
Reuters reported on 6 February. For the first time since he gained power in
December 1989, Iliescu's office issued documents allegedly proving that he did
not ask ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to help oust Nicolae Ceausescu. The
Presidency said the move was meant to deny "fabrications by the media and
politicians about the Romanian revolution and the legitimacy of the National
Salvation Front." Under Iliescu's leadership, the NSF seized power after
Ceausescu's overthrow. -- Matyas Szabo
ROMANIAN SENATE VOTES ON COUNTERESPIONAGE BILL.
The Senate on 6 February
adopted by a vote of 82 to seven with six abstentions a draft law on the
Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), Radio Bucharest reported. Under the new
legislation, the country's counterintelligence service will be supervised by a
joint panel set up by the Commissions for Defense, Public Order, and National
Security of the parliament's two chambers. The SIE will be subordinated to the
Supreme Defense Council, headed by President Ion Iliescu. The bill has still to
be approved by the Chamber of Deputies. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN DELEGATION IN BUCHAREST.
A delegation from the Moldovan
parliament's Foreign Policy Commission have met with foreign policy experts in
the Romanian parliament's two chambers, Romanian media reported on 6 February.
The two sides agreed that the Romanian and Moldovan parliaments will draw up by
the end of their current sessions a legislative proposal on easing border
crossing restrictions. They also discussed the free exchange of newspapers and
publications as well as issues related to national minorities. -- Matyas
BULGARIAN LEGISLATOR FOUND SHOT.
Todor Todorov, chairman of the
parliamentary agriculture committee and a member of the Bulgarian Socialist
Party, was found shot in the head at his home in Malina, northeastern Bulgaria,
on 5 February, 24 chasa reported. He was rushed to the hospital in
Dobrich and operated on but is in a deep coma. Police said there was no
evidence of violence and are convinced that Todorov attempted to commit
suicide. Bulgarian media link the incident to the criticism of the agriculture
committee amid the ongoing grain shortage. Standart cited Petar Komarov,
a high-level official at the Agriculture Ministry, as saying Todorov has
frequently received telephone threats against himself and his family and was
disappointed by the attitude of fellow party members. The BSP declined to
comment on the incident. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS ACCUSED OF PLANNING COUP.
Demokratike on 7 February reported that Italian journalist Pietro Zannoni
has produced a document, dated 3 March 1990 and signed by a Yugoslav Security
Service agent, allegedly proving that the Albanian Socialist Party was involved
in espionage and other activities. The document mentions plans to finance
agents in Albania "to control the communist apparatus." It also refers to
"preparations for a communist coup d'etat in Albania with the support of
Russia" and to preserving "relations between the Serbian and Albanian
Communists to maintain Serbian domination over Kosovo." The Socialists have
repeatedly denied the charges. -- Fabian Schmidt
HOLBROOKE ON CANCELED VISITS TO ATHENS, ANKARA.
U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State Richard Holbrooke on 6 February said it was his decision not to visit
Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, CNN reported the same day. Holbrooke said "we have
decided on our own that this is not an ideal time to visit," noting that there
still is no new Turkish government. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis the
previous day had made clear Holbrooke was not welcome in Athens. Meanwhile,
U.S. President Bill Clinton set letters to Simitis, Turkish Prime Minister
Tansu Ciller, and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel thanking them for "for
their cooperation in successfully resolving the issue" of the disputed islet of
Imia/Kardak. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Jan Cleave