NATIONALIST LEADER ATTACKED IN MOSCOW.
The deputy leader of Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party's parliamentary faction, Aleksandr
Vengerovskii, was shot by two unidentified assailants while walking near his
home on 12 February. He received a superficial knee wound and was hospitalized,
ITAR-TASS reported. The police are currently investigating Vengerovskii's
business dealings, which have provoked threats in the past. Vengerovskii heads
the Duma's subcommittee on foreign intelligence, which is planing to hold
hearings on the secret service's ability to prevent foreign mercenaries from
entering Chechnya. Four deputies have been murdered since the 1993 Duma
elections. -- Robert Orttung
TULEEV READY TO DROP PRESIDENTIAL BID.
Kemerovo Oblast legislature
chairman Aman Tuleev is prepared to end his presidential campaign,
Rossiiskie vesti reported on 13 February. The pro-government paper
described his decision as the "best gift [Communist Party leader] Gennadii
Zyuganov could imagine," since Tuleev was Zyuganov's "only real competitor from
within the Communist Party." Rossiiskie vesti also contended that
Zyuganov is planning to introduce constitutional changes that would shift power
from the presidency to the Duma to reward colleagues who have nominated him as
the single presidential candidate from the left bloc. There have also been
rumors that Zyuganov was prepared to offer Tuleev the post of prime minister.
-- Robert Orttung
KREMLIN LOCKS OUT NTV.
President Boris Yeltsin's press service has
banned NTV from the Kremlin, the station reported on 12 February. NTV said no
reason was given for the ban but speculated that it was because the station had
interviewed Vyacheslav Kostikov, a former presidential press secretary and
current ambassador to the Vatican, who has been very critical of Yeltsin. NTV
accused the Kremlin of violating the law on the media by preventing the station
from reporting the news. NTV came under state pressure in December 1994 when
its reporting from Chechnya contradicted the official version of events and in
July 1995 when the procurator-general opened a case against the satirical
puppet show "Kukly." -- Robert Orttung
ST. PETERSBURG LOBBY GROUP CREATED IN DUMA.
Duma deputies elected from
St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast have set up a non-partisan group Neva
Initiative (Nevskaya initsiativa) to lobby for the interests of their
region, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 February. So far, only eight of the 23
deputies from the region have agreed to join the group, which thus falls short
of the 35 required to register as an official parliamentary faction. -- Anna
NATIONALITIES MINISTRY IDENTIFIES DEPRESSED REGIONS.
Ministry has classified
Dagestan, Kalmykiya, Chuvashiya, and Kostroma
and Ivanovo Oblasts as "depressed" regions, Rabochaya tribuna reported
on 13 February. The ministry now plans to submit a draft program of financial
support for those areas to the Federation Council. According to Rabochaya
tribuna, even regions that are doing relatively well are ready to declare
themselves depressed in the hopes of obtaining extra money from the federal
budget. -- Anna Paretskaya
RUSSIA AND U.S. SPAR OVER SANCTIONS AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS.
between the United States and Russia in the UN Security Council has delayed the
suspension of economic sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs as provided for by
the Dayton agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 February. The
two countries disagree over whether a letter from NATO Secretary General Javier
Solana, stating that Bosnian Serb forces have withdrawn from areas slated to be
handed over to the Bosnian government, is sufficient to trigger suspension of
the sanctions. Russian UN delegate Sergei Lavrov told ITAR-TASS that the letter
is sufficient and sanctions should now be suspended, but an American official
told AFP that sanctions will be suspended only after the "zones of separation"
provided for by the Dayton agreement have been created. -- Scott Parrish
FSB: SMUGGLED PLUTONIUM WAS FROM RUSSIA.
German government spokesman
Petr Haussman said on 12 February that Bonn has received a letter from the
Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) that clears Germany's BND intelligence
service of staging a 1994 operation to smuggle plutonium into Germany. Haussman
said the letter, a request for legal aid, shows that the plutonium seized at
Munich airport in August 1994 was stolen from a research reactor at Obninsk,
southwest of Moscow, Reuters reported. At the time, the FSB denied that the
radioactive contraband was Russian in origin and suggested that the BND had
staged the operation to justify its existence. According to Haussman, the
letter says Justinian Torres, one of three men seized by police in the Munich
incident, acquired a sample of plutonium in June, whereas the BND undercover
agent reported the offer only at the beginning of July--a sequence of events
that indicated that the BND had not initiated the deal. According to the German
daily Bild, the Russian authorities are investigating three Russians
believed to have helped the Colombian Torres obtain the plutonium. -- Doug
Clarke and Penny Morvant
JUPPE ENDORSES YELTSIN.
On the eve of a visit to Russia, French Prime
Minister Alain Juppe expressed support for Russian President Yeltsin's
reelection in a 13 February interview with Izvestiya. Juppe said he
hoped that the upcoming presidential campaign would "give credit to the reforms
accomplished by President Yeltsin." Juppe termed the eastward expansion of NATO
a "natural process," but added that Russia and NATO could conclude a special
accord to regulate their relationship. On 12 February, Juppe met with German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn, where the two leaders announced their continued
support for Russian political and economic reforms. While the United States has
cooled toward Yeltsin in recent months, both Germany and France have continued
to offer open support, a stance criticized by media in both countries. -- Scott
AIR FORCE CHIEF SAYS MILITARY AVIATION IN CRITICAL STATE.
Deinekin, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, told the service's
military council that military aviation is in a critical state, NTV reported on
11 February. Deinekin pointed out that modern, fourth-generation aircraft made
up just 15% of the air force fleet. He said that the service needed to acquire
250-300 new planes each year to maintain its combat effectiveness but added
that not a single new aircraft was purchased last year. Financial problems have
prevented the service from buying the aviation fuel it needs with the result
that "only one-third of the pilots are capable of doing their job properly," he
said, adding: "The rest simply don't fly." -- Doug Clarke
UNITY OF PROCURACY AT RISK.
Addressing the collegium of the Buryat
procuracy in Ulan-Ude on 12 February, Russian Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov
called for the retention of the centralized system of public prosecutors,
saying it guaranteed the effectiveness and cohesion of the country's legal
system, ITAR-TASS reported. He said he was alarmed by current difficulties in
appointing procurators in Russia's regions, noting that 40 such appointments
are due to be made this year. Current practice is to give oblsat authorities
the right to confirm the appointment of regional procurators. Skuratov said
this results in long-drawn-out conflicts in regions where heads of the
executive and legislative branches are at odds with one another. He criticized
proposals to extend the confirmation right down to raion level. -- Penny
CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN IN STAVROPOL.
On 11 February, ITAR-TASS quoted
Kremlin chief of staff Nikolai Yegorov as saying, "We are going to take steps
against enterprise leaders, including those in joint-stock companies with state
ownership, who have used money released to them to buy Mercedes and build
houses." Later in the day the agency reported that Valentin Poltorak, former
director of the Signal firm in Stavropol, had been arrested for
corruption--including buying cars and having a house built for himself. He was
also accused of leasing and selling off Signal's assets to firms run by his
associates (including his son) at low cost. The previous day, ITAR-TASS
reported that Col. Valerii Zimarev, head of the Stavropol MVD's financial
department, had been arrested for misplacing 2 billion rubles ($420,000)
intended for wages owed to police. Meanwhile, NTV reported on 9 February that
Yevgenii Bychkov, the head of the Russian Federation Committee on Precious
Metals (Roskomdragmet), is also under investigation for corruption. -- Peter
COAL INDUSTRY PRIVATIZATION ON HOLD.
On 10 February, President Yeltsin
signed a decree turning the state enterprise Rosugol into an open joint-stock
company, but with 100% state ownership for three years. Both the management and
unions of the monopoly coal producer are keen to stay in state ownership in
order to ensure a steady flow of subsidies, Izvestiya reported on 13
February. The paper suggested that the Economics Ministry is the only agency
arguing against the continuation of state control over the coalmining industry.
Real privatization would trigger a wave of closures of unprofitable pits. There
are growing complaints that profits are being siphoned off from parts of the
industry even as miners go unpaid and subsidies continue to flow in. -- Peter
MONETARY POLICY MAY BE WEAKENING.
On 9 February, the Central Bank cut
the refinancing rate (the rate at which it lends to banks) from 160% to 120%,
Ekho Moskvy reported the same day. Finansovye izvestiya noted on 13
January that a similar cut in August 1994 had preceded the "Black Tuesday"
ruble crash in October of that year. The bank's move is a response to the cash
crisis facing Russian industry. Firms have been squeezed by the tight monetary
policy of the past few months. Yet investors expect inflation to accelerate
between now and the June elections. This leaves Russian firms in the worst of
both worlds. Credits are expensive (60-80% annual interest at minimum) with a
maximum duration of three months. -- Peter Rutland
HEAD OF VNESHEKONOMBANK DISMISSED.
President Yeltsin dismissed Anatolii
Nosko on 8 February from his position as head of Vneshekonombank, the
state-owned bank responsible for foreign currency transactions,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 10 February. Similar to January's cadre
reshuffling at Sberbank (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 January), the move
signals the government's intention to exert stronger control over the bank's
activities. Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov criticized the bank for
speculating in Russian treasury bills with funds earmarked for repaying foreign
debts. -- Natalia Gurushina
THREE MILITARY OFFICERS SENTENCED TO DEATH IN AZERBAIJAN.
February, a military court in Baku sentenced three former ranking military
officers to death for "high treason," Turan and Western agencies reported. The
three are Alikram Gummatov, who proclaimed the secession of the so-called
Talysh-Murgan Republic from Azerbaijan in the summer of 1993; former Defense
Minister Rahim Gaziev, charged with responsibility for military defeats in the
war in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1993; and former Minister of National Security
Nariman Imranov, who engineered their escape from pre-trial detention in
September 1994 shortly before an alleged coup attempt. Gummatov was recaptured,
but Gaziev is reportedly in Moscow and was sentenced in absentia. Arif
Pashayev, a former army commander who escaped with Gummatov and Gaziev in
September 1994, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. -- Liz Fuller
ARMENIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RECOGNITION OF NKR.
opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Armenia (the successor to
the Armenian CP) and the Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union, have issued an
appeal to the Armenian government to grant international recognition to the
self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Noyan Tapan reported on 12
February. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan has stated that Armenia will
recognize the NKR only after another country has formally done so. -- Liz
NIYAZOV IN ANKARA.
Following a five-day stay in Istanbul, Turkmenistan's
President Sapamurad Niyazov traveled to Ankara, where he signed a memorandum of
understanding for the sale of 10-15 billion cubic meters of natural gas between
1998 and 2020 with his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, the Turkish press
reported on 13 February. The agreement appears to dodge the all-important
question of the route by which Turkmen gas will reach Turkey. One quarter of
the estimated 200 foreign companies operating in Turkmenistan are Turkish; they
have invested approximately $1.5 billion over the past four years. Demirel
lavished praise on Niyazov, noting "the giant steps Turkmenistan is taking
toward democracy, secularism, and market economics." -- Lowell Bezanis
SCABIES AND LICE EPIDEMIC IN KAZAKHSTAN.
More than 60,000 people in
Kazakhstan, mostly children, are afflicted with lice and scabies: 42,234 cases
of scabies and 18,000 of lice were noted in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 12
February. These figures came to light after a seven-year-old girl in a Zhambul
collective farm died of scabies after being treated with medicine used on
cattle. The Kazakhstani Health Ministry said no medicines were available to rid
humans of these parasites. Owing to a lack of running water and indoor plumbing
in many remote regions, people have traditionally used the public baths. Few
can now afford the high prices of the baths, which are being privatized. --
UKRAINIAN DEPUTIES ASK PRESIDENT TO RECONSIDER CHORNOBYL SHUTDOWN.
Fifty-eight Ukrainian lawmakers have appealed in an open letter to
President Leonid Kuchma to reconsider his decision to shutdown the Chornobyl
nuclear power plant by 2,000, Ukrainian TV and UNIAN reported on 9 February.
Calling the decision groundless, the deputies cited government reports claiming
Chornobyl has been the safest and most efficient of all five Ukrainian atomic
energy stations for the past two years. They cited various experts' conclusions
that the plant could safely operate until 2007 and bring in revenues of more
than $5 billion in electricity exports. The legislators also demanded that
Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko be removed as head of the government
delegation in ongoing talks with the G-7 powers over the planned closure. --
UPDATE ON UKRAINIAN CHIEF OF STAFF'S DISMISSAL.
Further details about
Col.-Gen. Anatolii Lopata's dismissal as chief-of-staff of the armed forces by
President Leonid Kuchma have been released, according to ITAR-TASS and Reuters.
Lopata's dismissal reportedly stems from differences with Defense Minister
Valerii Shmarov over downsizing Ukraine's 470,000-strong military. Shmarov was
in favor of reducing troops to 350,000 by the end of the decade, while Lopata
prefers maintaining a larger force and has objected to plans on reorganizing
military districts. Rumors were circulating for over a year that Lopata would
be replaced, and presidential adviser Volodymyr Horbulin said Lopata was making
public what amounted to state secrets over the dispute. Deputy Defense Minister
Ivan Bizhan was named acting chief-of-staff. In other news, the Black Sea Fleet
and Ukraine's navy have begun to exchange naval information. The agreement on
the exchange was initiated by the fleet after handing over most observation
stations to Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus
RUSSIA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN BELARUSIAN MILITARY THEFTS.
Strategic Rocket Forces have categorically denied any involvement in the theft
of military hardware and precious metals from the 25th rocket arsenal in
Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 February. Belarusian Radio reported last
month that 7.8 kilograms of platinum worth $1.3 million had gone missing from
the base. According to Reuters on 8 February, the commander of the 25th
arsenal, Maj. Gen. Aleh Kruhlyakau, has been arrested for negligence and for
abusing his position, although concrete charges have not been filed against
him. The press center of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces said they had
nothing to do with the irregularities on the base since they had handed it over
to Belarusian authorities in October 1992. All work there since then has been
carried out by employees of the Belarusian Defense Ministry. -- Ustina
LESS THAN 15% FAIL ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP TESTS.
Estonian Prime Minister
Tiit Vahi on 12 February told the parliament that only 13-15% of applicants for
citizenship have failed tests on knowledge of the Estonian language and the
republic's laws, BNS reported. He noted that since the implementation of
separate tests on 21 November 1995, 313 persons have passed the language test
and 562 the law test. -- Saulius Girnius
100 KILOS OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL SEIZED IN LITHUANIA.
police officials on 10 February detained six Lithuanians and a Georgian who
were attempting to sell 100 kilograms of radioactive material for $50,000 in
Visaginas, where the Ignalina nuclear power plant is located, Radio Lithuania
and Western agencies reported on 12 February. The material was stored in wooden
boxes and was 10 times above normal radioactive levels. Plant director Viktor
Shevaldin said the plant had nothing to with the incident. The material is
suspected to be uranium smuggled from another former Soviet republic. --
STRIKES IN SILESIA.
Miners from 19 coal mines on 12 February blocked
coal supplies from Silesia to the rest of the country after union negotiations
with employers broke down before the weekend, Polish dailies reported. Coal
miners have been striking since 5 February. Solidarity, which represents
Silesia's 270,000 miners, is demanding additional bonus payments for 1995,
wages increases to keep pace with inflation, and government guarantees that the
planned restructuring of the mining industry will not lead to layoffs and curb
social benefits for the workers. Meanwhile, government spokesperson Aleksandra
Jakubowska claimed that "representatives of Ukrainian coal companies have
already become very active in Silesia." -- Jakub Karpinski
SECURITY OFFICER ARRESTED IN POLAND.
An officer at the State Protection
Office, whose name has not been disclosed, was arrested on 9 February on
charges of revealing classified information to the press. The released
information reportedly sheds light on a loan that Polish Communists were
offered by the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Polish press
reported on 13 February. -- Jakub Karpinski
ZHIRINOVSKY WARNS POLAND NOT TO BEHAVE "LIKE A WHORE."
radical nationalist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen's visit to Russia, Vladimir
Zhirinovsky told journalists that "if Poland would like to be free, let it be
free both from the Soviet Union and NATO. . . . [But] if Poland behaves like a
whore, running from one client to another, that will end very badly. The next
client will strangle the whore." Zhirinovsky said that if Poland lets NATO
soldiers be stationed near Russian borders, "there will be no Poland and no
NATO," Polish media reported on 12-13 February. -- Jakub Karpinski
SLOVAK OPPOSITION ASKS PRESIDENT TO VETO LAW.
A group of opposition
deputies on 12 February sent an open letter to President Michal Kovac asking
him not to sign an amendment to the income tax law approved four days earlier,
Pravda reported. The opposition walked out before the vote, and the
legislation was passed with fewer deputies present than the parliamentary
quorum stipulated in the constitution. The amendment frees new owners of
privatized companies from paying taxes on income if the National Property Fund
lowers the purchase price of their property. "The government not only enabled a
small group of people to grow rich quickly from privatization by allowing the
cheap sale of state companies but it also lowered their tax obligations to the
detriment of other taxpayers who were excluded from privatization," the
opposition said. -- Sharon Fisher
GABCIKOVO DAM TRIAL SET FOR EARLY NEXT YEAR.
The International Court of
Justice in the Hague has said the trial to resolve the legal dispute between
Hungary and Slovakia on the controversial Gabcikovo dam project will take place
in February 1997, Magyar Hirlap reported on 13 February. Head of the
international law division at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry Gyorgy Szenasi
will represent the Hungarian government in its bid to prevent completion of the
project. The two countries are expected to seek an out-of-court settlement
before the trial, although no headway has been made in the three rounds of
negotiations to date. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
PROMINENT HUNGARIAN EMIGRES GATHER IN BUDAPEST.
At the invitation of the
Prime Minister's Office, more than 90 prominent emigres met with leading
Hungarian politicians at a two-day conference titled "Hungary 2000," Hungarian
media reported on 12 February. Prime Minister Gyula Horn requested the emigres'
help to solve domestic problems and improve the country's international image.
The emigres criticized certain bureaucratic procedures slowing down the process
of opening new businesses and some financial aspects of the stabilization
program. The conference issued an appeal asking the 2 million-strong Hungarian
emigre community to do their best for Hungary. The participants--including
financier and philanthropist George Soros--will be invited to attend similar
meetings in the future. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
TWO SERBIAN OFFICERS SENT TO THE HAGUE.
Bosnian Serb General Djordje
Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic were extradited to the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 12 February "for questioning,"
the BBC reported. The move followed a compromise by U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State Richard Holbrooke, according to which the two would be sent to the court
but the Bosnian government in the future would arrest for war crimes only
persons against whom the tribunal had already issued a warrant. Holbrooke said
that his visit to Sarajevo and Belgrade in recent days set down "new rules of
the road." Two key Dayton principles are at stake: the Bosnian government is
anxious to prosecute war criminals, while the Serbs argue that seemingly random
arrests of Serbs threaten freedom of movement. -- Patrick Moore
"THE HAGUE'S SEAL OF APPROVAL AS A COMPROMISE."
This is how Nasa
Borba on 13 February summed up the result of Richard Holbrooke's diplomacy.
Bosnian government envoy Muhamed Sacirbey said he is convinced that the
questioning of the two officers "will show that the source of the war is in
Belgrade," the BBC reported. Onasa quoted him as saying that the
government is preparing new rules for arresting war criminals in keeping with
the compromise. U.S. human rights envoy Richard Shattuck said he is sure that
most Bosnian Serbs will be pleased with the result since they are anxious to
separate themselves from war criminals and get on with their lives. AFP on 12
February reported that the Bosnian Serb interior minister charged arrested
Bosnian photo journalist Hidajet Delic with war crimes. -- Patrick
U.S. REBUKES IFOR OVER KARADZIC.
U.S. State Department spokesman
Nicholas Burns said reports that indicted war criminal and Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic passed unhindered through IFOR checkpoints are "disturbing,"
international media reported on 13 February. Burns stressed that if IFOR troops
"come across suspected indicted war criminals in the conduct of their normal
operations, then they are bound . . . to detain them" and turn them over to the
International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, even though this is not their
principal mission. IFOR said it had limited information on the 52 indicted war
criminals and photographs of only 15, many of which are of poor quality or
outdated. It added that there are no checkpoints--only patrols to ensure
freedom of movement--along the route Karadzic was likely to have taken from
Pale to Banja Luka over the weekend. -- Michael Mihalka
NATO TO PROTECT EU ADMINISTRATION IN MOSTAR.
Javier Solana and Gen. George Joulwan, allied supreme commander in Europe,
visited Mostar on 12 February to meet with Mostar's EU administrator Hans
Koschnick, international and local media reported. Solana also met with the
president and vice president of the Bosnian Federation, Kresimir Zubak and Ejup
Ganic, as well as the mayors of the eastern and western halves of Mostar. He
said NATO will not tolerate Koschnick being threatened, underscoring the need
for cooperation between IFOR and police forces in Mostar, Hina reported. He
also called for reconciliation between Muslims and Croats in Mostar. According
to Ganic, Koschnik's decision on the administrative reorganization of Mostar
was not discussed at all. Zubak told Slobodna Dalmacija on 13 February
that Western Mostar Mayor Mijo Brajkovic has agreed to reestablish contacts
with Koschnick. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER IN CROATIA.
Vladimir Meciar on 12 February
concluded a two-day visit to Croatia aimed at broadening bilateral trade
contacts, Slovak media reported. Meciar and his Croatian counterpart, Zlatko
Matesa, signed agreements on boosting and protecting investments, preventing
double taxation, and cooperating in tourism and air traffic. "There have never
been any problems between Slovakia and Croatia," Meciar stressed. He also
discussed the several thousand Slovaks living in Croatia and the Slovak army
unit that forms part of the UN forces in eastern Slavonia. "Slovaks in Croatia
are first of all loyal to their state--Croatia. Their rights are understood
only as individual rights," Meciar said. -- Sharon Fisher
BULGARIAN PREMIER IN BELGRADE.
Zhan Videnov arrived in the rump Yugoslav
capital on 12 February for a two-day official visit, BETA reported. He met with
high-ranking officials, including federal rump Yugoslav Premier Radoje Kontic,
who agreed that bilateral economic relations need to be "intensified." Videnov
also met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to discuss the status of
rump Yugoslavia's Bulgarian minority community. According to the Bulgarian
daily Duma, "both parties agreed that the problems of the Bulgarian
minority in Serbia are mainly of an economic nature and can be solved . . .
through existing legislation." Stan Markotich
REFUGEE CAMPS IN KOSOVO ATTACKED WITH EXPLOSIVES.
reported at refugee camps in Vucitrn, Kosovska Mitrovica, Pec, Pristina, and
Suva Reka on 11 February, AFP and Reuters quoted Tanjug as saying the next day.
Reports speak about the use of "homemade explosives," while the police say the
blasts were caused by hand grenades thrown within one hour at the different
locations. The explosions caused serious damage but no casualties or injuries.
Between 10,000 and 12,000 Serbian refugees from Croatia are currently living in
the camps. Tanjug reported that the refugees were "seriously upset" by the
explosions. -- Fabian Schmidt
HOLBROOKE IN BUCHAREST.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard
Holbrooke on 12-13 February paid a visit to Romania, local and international
media reported. Radio Bucharest said Holbrooke thanked President Ion Iliescu
for Romania's contribution to the peacekeeping process in Bosnia. The meeting
was attended by Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Defense Minister Gheorghe
Tinca, Chamber of Deputies chairman Adrian Nastase, and other officials. The
Euro-Atlantic Center in Bucharest awarded the U.S. diplomat a diploma as "a
sign of gratitude and appreciation for his special contribution to restoring
peace in former Yugoslavia" and his "personal role in the development of
Romanian-U.S. relations." RFE/RL's correspondent in Washington quoted U.S.
State department spokesman Aric Schwann as saying Holbrooke was to discuss with
his hosts democratic reforms in Romania and the situation of the Hungarian
ethnic minority. -- Michael Shafir
ZHIRINOVSKY PROPOSES ROMANIA AS BATTLEFIELD FOR CHECHENS, FRENCH BLACKS.
Speaking to journalists after marrying his lawful wife in a religious
ceremony in Moscow, the ultranationalist Russian politician Vladimir
Zhirinovsky said that if the countries of Eastern Europe join NATO and thus
"provoke a third world war," he will not "cross swords" with Jean Marie Le Pen,
the leader of the French National Front, who attended the wedding. Rather,
Zhirinovsky said, he and Le Pen will send the Chechens and France's black
population to "confront each other on Romania's territory," Radio Bucharest and
international agencies reported on 10 February. -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S PARTY REACTS TO PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION.
to the Moldovan parliament's decision to reject President Mircea Snegur's
initiative to change the official name of the country's language (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 12 February 1995), the Party of Revival and Conciliation of
Moldova (PRCM) said increased tension may split the population over the issue.
BASA-press on 12 February reported the PRCM statement as saying the
"parliamentary majority has proven once more" that it is ignoring "scientific
truth" and is guided only by "political reasons." The statement also denounced
"trends endangering the democratization of society and economic reforms." --
BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE.
The ruling Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) will try to unite the pro-republican forces if former Tsar Simeon
runs for president, Trud reported on 13 February. BSP Deputy Chairman Georgi
Parvanov said his party is counting on talks with the Bulgarian Agrarian
People's Union, which is anti-communist but also anti-monarchist.
Standart cited top judges as saying Simeon cannot run in the next
elections because he does not meet the constitutional provision that the
president must have lived in Bulgaria for the past five years. Simeon says it
does not apply in his case because he was forced to live in exile. However, he
has so far failed to prove that he tried to return but was not allowed to.
Standart also reported that Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan
Kostov will brief other opposition leaders on his recent talks with Simeon. --
VICE PRESIDENT OF BULGARIA'S MULTIGROUP SACKED.
Dimitar Ivanov, vice
president of Multigroup, the controversial Bulgarian cartel, was fired by its
board of directors on 12 February, Standart reported the next day.
Ivanov made headlines in November 1995 following unsubstantiated allegations of
his involvement in the October assassination attempt against Macedonian
President Kiro Gligorov. Ivanov is a former section head at the infamous Sixth
Administration of the State Security (DS) agency, which was charged with
investigating political offenses. He may have been sacked for alleging that
group president Iliya Pavlov was investigated by DS from 1983-1989 for
corruption. Another possibility is that Multigroup is making room for
technocrats in its management. -- Michael Wyzan
TURKEY'S LATEST MOVE ON KARDAK-IMIA.
Following the European Commission's
declaration of "full solidarity" with Greece in its dispute with Ankara over
the Kardak-Imia islet, Turkey has announced it is sending Foreign Minister
Deniz Baykal to various European capitals, Turkish media reported on 13
February. Baykal will attempt to persuade Turkey's European allies to support
the Turkish call for diplomatic negotiations on the status of various islets in
the Aegean. Greece has already rejected this call, saying it is impossible to
negotiate its sovereign rights. -- Lowell Bezanis
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave