YELTSIN CALLS FOR REFORM AT LOWER SOCIAL COST IN STATE OF THE NATION
President Boris Yeltsin stressed the importance of "developing the
market and bringing down the social cost of this process" in his annual state
of the nation address to the parliament on 23 February, ITAR-TASS reported.
Yeltsin said that economic reforms have passed through the stages of
liberalization and financial stabilization, and are now entering the third step
of stimulating production and investment, increasing productivity, and a
complete structural overhaul of the Russian economy. He described the economic
situation as "complicated" and said bringing inflation down to less than 25% a
year is necessary to end the crisis. He warned that "we are near a dangerous
limit beyond which exhaustion and discontent may outweigh patience and hope."
In the political sphere, Yeltsin said that his reforms were "the first in
Russia to be realized without repression and the destruction of political
enemies." -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT. . .
Yeltsin declared that the government
had failed to carry out the social tasks spelled out in his last two addresses.
Yeltsin threatened that if the government did not carry out these tasks, he
would replace it. He ordered Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin immediately to
prepare a presidential decree to compensate people who lost their savings due
to inflation caused by the introduction of his reforms. He also called for the
establishment of a public-private foundation to help deceived investors.
Yeltsin stressed increased housing construction, support for small businesses,
and the establishment of an insurance system for deposits in commercial banks.
To combat economic crime, Yeltsin proposed tightening up the procedure for
registering commerical entities and reforming the "unwieldy and contradictory
tax system." He said that the government had failed to implement reform in the
agricultural sector in 1995, leading to the dismissal of Agriculture Minister
Aleksandr Nazarchuk. He blamed interest groups and a lack of executive
discipline for these failures and called on the parliament to pass a land code
to allow the buying and selling of land. -- Robert Orttung
. . . REJECTS PULLOUT IN CHECHNYA.
On Chechnya, Yeltsin said that the
two commissions on resolving the conflict had sent him recommendations and that
a "peaceful resolution would be based on them." In spite of the ongoing
fighting, he described his policy as a set of measures based on negotiations
and strengthening the legitimacy of Chechnya's government. He rejected
negotiations with "bandits" and a withdrawal of troops, saying that this would
lead to war throughout the Caucasus, AFP reported. He said that Chechnya should
have a special status inside the Russian Federation but did not make clear what
this would mean. -- Robert Orttung
CHERNOMYRDIN COMMISSION APPROVES CHECHEN SETTLEMENT BLUEPRINT.
Russian government commission chaired by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
that is charged with finding a solution to the ongoing Chechen conflict
approved a draft proposal at a 22 February session that comprises unspecified
political, economic, social, diplomatic, and military measures to deal with the
conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Details of the draft are to be ironed out within
the next few days. Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev, who attended the
meeting, said the plan marks the beginning of "a new stage" in the process of
resolving the crisis; he added that it would be "madness" to attempt to
negotiate a peace settlement with President Dzhokhar Dudaev. Also on 22
February, Chechen militants blew up the gas pipeline from Chechnya to Dagestan,
according to Ekho Moskvy. Meanwhile, sporadic fighting between Russian federal
troops and Chechen militants continued near the village of Tsintaroi, Russian
TV reported. -- Liz Fuller
YELTSIN TO SUSPEND REGIONAL DISMISSALS.
The upper house of the Russian
parliament has asked President Boris Yeltsin to suspend his 21 February decree
that ordered the dismissal of the governors of Arkhangelsk and Saratov oblasts,
Pavel Balakshin and Yurii Belykh, Russian media reported on 22 February. The
governors were sacked for allegedly misusing federal budget allocations (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 22 February 1996), but their deputies say the
presidential decree misrepresents the situation in their regions. The
Federation Council also ordered its legislative committee to consider the
constitutionality of the dismissals. According to the Law on the Status of
Deputies, a Council deputy can only be dismissed with the Council's permission.
The two governors, like most regional executive heads, were appointed directly
by the president. Such regional heads make up one-third of the Council. The
same day, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the president's tough
personnel policy will be continued and that "heads will roll," Russian and
Western agencies reported. -- Anna Paretskaya
GRACHEV SAYS ARMY WILL NOT ALLOW RUSSIA TO DISINTEGRATE.
Speaking at a
22 February ceremony on the eve of Defenders of the Fatherland Day, Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev said the military will not allow Russia to be weakened
or divided into a "patchwork of small provinces," ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev
told the assembled officers that despite its difficulties, the military remains
the embodiment of Russian national dignity and power. Lauding the efforts of
the Russian military to prevent conflict from spreading from various "hot
spots" in Russia and the CIS, the minister expressed hope that the current
approach to financing the military would be altered. Speaking after Grachev,
First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets called the military a "special
concern" of the government, since it is "the only guarantee of Russian national
security." -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA CONCERNED ABOUT JAPANESE MARITIME ZONE.
Spokesman Grigorii Karasin expressed concern on 22 February over the
publication of maps by Japanese newspapers that include the disputed southern
Kuril islands in a proposed Japanese maritime economic zone. The Japanese
government recently submitted bills to parliament calling for Japan to ratify
the UN Convention on Maritime Law, under which countries can declare a
200-nautical mile economic exclusion zone around their coasts. Although
Japanese diplomats have said the published maps are unofficial, Karasin
expressed the hope that Japan would "not take any actions which complicate
Russo-Japanese relations" in the process of ratifying the UN convention. The
two countries have a long-running dispute over the four southernmost Kuril
islands, and a fifth round of talks on fishing rights in the surrounding waters
ended on 21 February without agreement. -- Scott Parrish
ZHIRINOVSKY ENDORSES BUCHANAN.
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir
Zhirinovsky hailed Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan's victory in
the New Hampshire primary, Russian and Western agencies reported on 22
February. In a letter released by his office, the Russian ultranationalist
called Buchanan a "comrade-in-arms" and wished him a "convincing victory" in
the U.S. presidential elections. -- Scott Parrish
FEDERATION COUNCIL ENDORSES COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERSHIP.
anticipated, the Federation Council unanimously approved two bills certifying
Russia's adherence to the Council of Europe on 22 February, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The bills must now be signed by President Yeltsin. The vote
clears the way for Russia's formal induction as the council's 39th member.
Council of Europe officials told journalists the same day that the induction
ceremony is currently scheduled for 28 February in Strasbourg. -- Scott
MORE ON ALCOHOL PRICE CHANGES.
As of 12 March, vodka and other beverages
with a higher than 28% alcohol content cannot be sold to the public for less
than 18,400 rubles ($3.85) a liter, Kommersant-Daily reported on 21
February. The minimum retail and wholesale price for spirits imported from
outside the CIS is 40,000 rubles ($8.37) a liter. The price increases were
mandated by the Economics Ministry on 20 February in an attempt to protect the
Russian market from low-quality alcohol products (see OMRI Daily Digest,
21 February 1996). Deputy Economics Minister Sergei Ignatev said the measure
should not affect major domestic vodka makers such as Kristall, which produce
good-quality spirits. A representative of Kristall's Moscow distillery told
Komsomolskaya pravda, however, that the prices of their products would
increase by about 20%. -- Penny Morvant
FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS RISE IN MINIMUM WAGE, PENSION.
the parliament's upper house voted on 22 February to reject draft laws raising
the minimum pension and minimum wage by 20% as of 1 February, Russian agencies
reported. The Federation Council said the country did not have the resources to
implement the bills, which were passed by the Duma on 7 February (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 25 January and 8 February 1996). In the opinion of the
council's committees for budget and social policy, increasing wages "on paper"
would serve only to irritate the public. A conciliation commission is now being
set up to revise the bills. -- Penny Morvant
MIGRATION SERVICE RELEASES 1995 DATA.
According to Federal Migration
Service data, 963,000 people migrated to Russia from other CIS republics in
1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 February. The service said overall migration was
slightly lower than in preceding years, but it noted a rise in in-migration
from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. The number of forced migrants also
increased by 300,000 during the year, up almost 20% on the number registered in
1994. In addition, the service estimated that about 610,000 people have
abandoned their homes in Chechnya, 487,000 of whom were officially registered
with the service last year. More than 200,000 refugees from Chechnya are
already said to have returned to their homes. The Federal Migration Service has
24 permanent centers for resettling forced migrants and has set up an
additional 68 centers in the North Caucasus. -- Penny Morvant
IMF GRANTS RUSSIA $10.2 BILLION LOAN.
The managing director of the IMF,
Michel Camdessus, signed a $10.2 billion loan with the Russian government on 22
February in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The step, a major boost
for President Yeltsin, will pump $4 billion into the Russian economy this year.
The three-year extended fund facility is conditional upon the government
increasing tax receipts and removing export duties on oil and gas. Lifting
export duties will cause a loss of up to $2.5 billion in government revenue,
which will boost the profits of energy companies and cause domestic oil prices
to rise. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told ITAR-TASS there will be "compensation
measures" to lessen the impact of the change, "which will not be easy" to
devise. Back in November the government announced it would lift energy export
duties from 1 January 1996, but this was not done. -- Peter Rutland
CONSTRUCTION MINISTER UPBEAT.
Construction Minister Yefim Basin told an
international conference in Moscow that 45 million square meters of housing
should be built in 1996, 10% up on 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 February.
Only 12% of the expected 10 trillion rubles ($2 billion) investment will come
from the state. He said unfinished projects are still a problem, amounting to
97 million square meters. The industry has received $160 million from the U.S.
government to build flats for army officers and is negotiating with the World
Bank for loans worth $530 million. -- Peter Rutland
TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER GIVES SPEECH.
Forces loyal to the Tajik
opposition are in control of 70% of Tajikistan, United Tajik Opposition (UTO)
leader Said Abdullo Nuri stated in a speech broadcast by the Radio Voice of
Free Tajikistan on 22 February and monitored by the BBC. Nuri went on to list
the areas and the commanders who are in control. Nuri's claims, if true, would
mean that the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, is ringed by the opposition except for
routes leading westward, toward Uzbekistan. The UTO leader said there are
cadres in the southern Kurgan-Tyube area but declined to provide any details as
he claimed "they occupy smaller territory" and would be easier to locate. --
PRIMAKOV CONCLUDES CENTRAL ASIAN VISIT.
Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov met with his Uzbek counterpart, Abdulaziz Komilov, and Uzbek
President Islam Karimov in Tashkent on 22 February to discuss regional security
and sign agreements on migration and the clarification of Foreign Ministry
exchanges, Russian and Western sources reported. Karimov said good relations
with Russia are a "priority for the Uzbek people," ITAR-TASS reported. He added
that the Tajik conflict underscores the need for further integration and
development of the CIS, a view he shares with Primakov. It is the second time
in as many months that Primakov has visited Central Asia. -- Roger Kangas
KUCHMA ENDS U.S. VISIT.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma wrapped up his
three-day visit to the U.S. on 22 February, international agencies reported. He
was promised over $1 billion in financial assistance, making Ukraine the
third-largest recipient of American aid after Israel and Egypt. Russia had
occupied that position since 1991. The IMF said it will offer Ukraine $900
million in credits this year, $200 million more than it previously promised.
Following talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton on Russian- Ukrainian
relations, Kuchma said he wished Russian President Boris Yeltsin success in
this year's presidential elections, noting the result of the ballot will
greatly influence bilateral relations, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 February. --
NEW SOCIALIST PARTY TO BE FORMED IN UKRAINE.
Two Ukrainian lawmakers and
their supporters have announced they will hold a congress in April to found a
new political party, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, UNIAN reported
on 21 February. Natalia Vitrenko and Volodymyr Marchenko were recently expelled
from the Socialist Party of Ukraine after criticizing the party and its leader,
parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz, for deviating from socialist ideas. A
number of party members from regional organizations in Sumy, Odessa, and
Zaporizhia Oblasts quit in protest and are expected to take part in the
founding congress. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS COLLECT SIGNATURES FOR PLEBISCITE.
Party of Ukraine is claiming it has collected 2.5 million signatures in support
of holding a non-binding referendum on the main provisions of a new
constitution, UNIAN reported on 21 February. Organizers are aiming to get the
necessary 3 million signatures by 15 March. The Central Election Commission
says the initiative violates a year-long moratorium on referendums imposed by
the so-called constitutional agreement between the president and a majority of
lawmakers. The Communists, however, did not sign that agreement and argue there
are no laws against holding non-binding opinion polls. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUS TO IMPOSE NEW TARIFFS ON IMPORTS.
The Belarusian Cabinet of
Ministers is preparing a new list of tariffs for imports, Belarusian Radio
reported on 22 February. Last year, it approved a list of tariffs on various
imported goods in line with those imposed by Russia. Now the Russian government
has drawn up a new list; and under the Russian-Belarusian customs union,
Belarus must comply with that list. Juices, beer, shoes, jewelry, watches, TVs
and radio will be exempt from tariffs. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko
earlier this week said the customs union between Russian and Belarus is not
being implemented. Each side has complained that the other is benefiting at its
expense. -- Ustina Markus
PRESSURE ON BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT MEDIA.
The Belarusian independent
news agency Belapan and the independent newspaper Svaboda received
letters on 14 February from the president's administration breaking off their
lease agreements as of 15 February, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 23
February. Their offices are in buildings belonging to the presidential
administration. Although the reason given for breaking the leases was "state
needs," no other company occupying the building has had its leased
discontinued. This is the latest in a series of moves by the presidential
administration impeding the work of independent media. -- Ustina
AMNESTY FOR FORMER LATVIAN COMMUNIST LEADER.
Nine deputies of the
Latvian parliament have sent a letter to President Guntis Ulmanis urging him to
amnesty former Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks, BNS
reported on 22 February. Rubiks was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for
plotting the overthrow of the government in 1991. Of the nine deputies, five
belong to the National Harmony Party, three to the Socialist Party, and one to
the Unity Party. Fourteen deputies of the Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly from Ukraine, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Finland, and future member Russia
signed a similar appeal to Ulmanis in January. Among them were Russian
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and ultra-nationalist Vladimir
Zhirinovsky. -- Saulius Girnius
FORMER PRESIDENT WALESA TRIES TO UNITE POLISH RIGHT.
President Lech Walesa is seeking again to unite leaders of right-of-center
political groupings. The first planned
meeting of 15 right-wing
opposition leaders did not take place on 1 February because the invited guests
did not show up. On 22 February, former Prime Minister and Freedom Union leader
Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former Sejm speaker and Christian National Alliance leader
Wieslaw Chrzanowski and former Senate speaker Andrzej Stelmachowski met with
Walesa. Mazowiecki and Chrzanowski stressed that they did not represent their
parties. All four declared that they would seek a rapprochement among Polish
politicians who were involved in the movement that followed August 1980
political protests, the Polish press reported on 23 February. -- Jakub
CZECH PREMIER IN IRELAND.
Vaclav Klaus on 22 February began a two-day
visit to Ireland, CTK reported. He held talks with Irish Prime Minister John
Bruton and Foreign Minister Dick Spring. Bruton said Ireland welcomes and
supports the Czech Republic's application to join the European Union, Klaus
noted that Ireland's chairmanship of the EU in the second half of this year
should bring "further signals and steps that will bring us closer to membership
of the European Union." Klaus was also due to meet with Irish President Mary
Robinson before leaving for a private visit to Britain. -- Steve Kettle
VIENNA RESPONDS TO SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTRY'S NOTE OVER KOVAC JR.
Austrian Foreign Ministry on 22 February sharply criticized Slovakia for
protesting a Vienna court decision to release Slovak President Michal Kovac's
son, Slovak and international media reported. The ministry stressed that
Austrian courts are independent and that neither the government nor other
organs can interfere in their work. It also expressed disappointment that
Slovakia made its note public before giving it to Austria, which, it said, was
"not in accordance with good neighborly relations." Slovak Foreign Minister
Juraj Schenk emphasized that his ministry's note protested not the verdict
itself but the court's reasons for handing down such a judgment. He insisted
that the exchange of diplomatic notes will not damage bilateral relations.
Prosecutor-General Michal Valo said Kovac Jr. will not face arrest upon return
to Slovakia. But the Munich prosecutor's office said the international warrant
remains valid. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY'S EU INTEGRATION COMMITTEE HOLDS FIRST MEETING.
set up to coordinate preparations for Hungary's admission into the EU met for
the first time on 22 February, Hungarian dailies reported. The committee is
composed of Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, Interior
Minister Gabor Kuncze, Industry and Trade Minister Imre Dunai, Justice Minister
Pal Vastagh, head of the cabinet's integration working committee Andras Inotai,
and state secretary Elemer Kiss. The committee--the highest-level body
coordinating EU integration--accepted a schedule and a timetable for accession
and discussed key tasks to meet that goal. Of the nine countries in the region
with associate membership, only Poland has set up a Ministry for EU Affairs. --
BOSNIAN FEDERAL POLICE ENTER VOGOSCA.
The first of 85 federal
police--including ethnic Serbs--deployed to the northern suburb of Sarajevo
have found a filthy police station and a population shrunk from 17,000 to about
2,500, Reuters reported on 23 February. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said of
those who left: "They didn't have to go. They were incited to go by their own
authorities. They were incited by a regime previously responsible for expelling
tens of thousands of people and killing many others." Onasa on 19 February aid
there will eventually be 645 federal police under international supervision in
the Serb-held suburbs. The federal officers will carry only short-barrel side
arms and be deployed to the remaining four suburbs at six-day intervals. --
"PALE SPREADS PANIC."
This is the headline in Oslobodjenje on 23
February describing the continuing exodus of Serbs from the Sarajevo suburbs
amid brutal winter conditions. The anti-nationalist Serbian Civic Council (SGV)
the previous day appealed to the German ambassador to ask the Contact Group
countries to send its five ambassadors to the suburbs to try to stop the
flight. Onasa also quoted SGV President Mirko Pejanovic as saying that the
council has sent representatives to talk to people and dissuade them from
leaving. Nasa Borba on 23 February reported a declaration by the Bosnian
state presidency urging the Serbs to stay, but Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic
told Vecernje novine that the Bosnian government should have passed an
amnesty law earlier to reassure the Serbs. Nasa Borba also quoted Pale's
Radovan Karadzic as blaming the international community for not giving the
Serbs sufficient guarantees, including their own government and police. --
IZETBEGOVIC'S LIFE NOT IN DANGER.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic
continues to be hospitalized for an unspecified heart problem, but a spokesman
for his political party said that the 70 year-old leader's life is not
threatened, Onasa reported on 22 February. The authorities appealed for calm
and urged people not to go to the hospital where the president is staying.
There has been speculation about Izetbegovic's health since he disappeared from
view for about a week last year at the height of the allied military offensive
against the Serbs. AFP added that Izetbegovic will now take a medically
supervised rest and not do any hard work. -- Patrick Moore
IFOR ASKS DELAY IN LIFTING SANCTIONS.
IFOR commander U.S. Admiral
Leighton Smith on 22 February asked the UN not to lift sanctions against the
Bosnian Serbs until they resume contacts with the international community,
international media reported. Under the Dayton peace accord, sanctions should
have been lifted one day after the IFOR commander certified that the Bosnian
factions have complied with the military aspects of the accord. Smith certified
this was the case on 21 February. Meanwhile, the Russians have protested to the
UN that sanctions should have been lifted "days ago." -- Michael Mihalka
BELGRADE, PARIS RENEW DIPLOMATIC TIES.
France has said it will appoint a
new ambassador to the rump Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 23
February. The French Foreign Affairs Ministry announced the previous day that
Gabriel Keller, currently charge d'affaires in Belgrade, will be upgraded to
ambassador. Bogdan Trisunovic has already been approved as Belgrade's
ambassador to Paris. France is expected to become the first Western country to
appoint an ambassador to the rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich
SERBIAN RADICAL DENIED VISA TO VISIT THE HAGUE.
Vojislav Seselj, leader
of the Serbian Radical Party and accused war criminal, has been denied a visa
to visit Holland to testify at The Hague, Nasa Borba reported on 21
February. Seselj has said several times in recent weeks that he wishes to go
The Hague to give testimony against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He
told the press that he had to be officially invited by The Hague to receive a
visitor's visa for Holland. The Hague war crimes tribunal has said that it will
listen to anyone who wants to testify but that it does not issue invitations.
-- Stan Markotich
EASTERN MOSTAR OFFICIALS RESIGN.
Two Muslim municipal officials have
resigned in protest over the Rome agreement and changes in EU administrator
Hans Koschnick's proposal for the administrative reorganization of the city,
Tanjug reported on 22 February, citing the eastern Mostar radio station. Their
decision follows the recent resignation of the eastern Mostar mayor Safet
Orucevic. Koschnick initially proposed that Mostar consist of three Muslim,
three Croatian, and one jointly administered central zone. Croats, however,
protested this proposal. The new plan foresees a small central zone. Meanwhile,
Mostar radio reported that full freedom of movement has not been implemented
because the Croats have not removed barricades and check-points from the
streets. -- Daria Sito Sucic
STRIKES IN CROATIA.
Railway workers in Croatia on 22 February went on
strike to press for a 100% wage increase, Novi list reported. The
government has offered a 7.3% hike. The protest came one day after unsuccessful
attempts by the Association of Independent Workers' Union to negotiate a new
labor contract with government officials. The head of the union has announced a
general strike at the beginning of March, Hina reported. Croatian post and
telecommunications workers on 20 February staged a one-day warning strike. --
Daria Sito Sucic
MACEDONIAN PREMIER DEFENDS GOVERNMENT'S RECORD.
addressing the parliament on 22 February, defended the recently formed
coalition government, which excludes the Liberal Party, (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 12 February 1996), MILS reported the same day. The Liberals
belonged to the government formed after the October 1994 elections He
criticized the Liberals for not exhibiting "a spirit of team work and mutual
confidence" and responded to President Kiro Gligorov's criticism of the
Liberals' absence by saying that Gligorov was entitled to his own views.
Crvenskovski also revealed that foreign-currency reserves totaled $274 million
at the end of 1995. He praised Macedonia's relations with the IMF and Paris
Club, the low inflation rate, and progress on privatization, stressing the need
to arrest the decline in production. -- Michael Wyzan
EIGHT DEAD IN ROMANIAN PLANE CRASH.
A Romanian Antonov-24 aircraft on 22
February crashed near the northwestern town of Baia-Mare, killing all six crew
members on board and two workers on the ground, Romanian and international
media reported. The aircraft, owned by the Romanian Civil Aviation Authority,
was on a test flight. It took off from Bucharest's Baneasa domestic airport and
crashed two hours later into a stone quarry 15 km from the Baia-Mare airport
control tower. The Romanian Transport Ministry last December ordered checks on
the country's aging AN-24s after one crashed in Italy, killing all 49 on board.
-- Matyas Szabo
RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER LOSES COURT CASE IN TIRASPOL.
Pavel Grachev has
lost a court case to Col. Mikhail Bergman, former commander of the Tiraspol
military garrison, Moldovan and Russian agencies reported on 21 February. The
military tribunal of the Russian units stationed in Tiraspol ruled that
Grachev's October 1995 order to dismiss Bergman was illegal. It decided that
Bergman should be reinstated in his post and that Grachev should pay some 19
million rubles ($4,100) to cover Bergman's expenses and in compensation for
"moral prejudice." Grachev's lawyer said he would appeal the decision at the
Moscow military tribunal. Bergman, who was one of the closest associates of
former 14th Russian Army commander Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, claimed his dismissal
was an act of "political revenge." -- Matyas Szabo
BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY RELEASES LIST OF ALLEGED CRIMINALS.
Bulgarian Interior Ministry on 22 February released a list of 2,797 people
against whom legal proceedings are pending, Kontinent reported the
following day. Of these, 482 have already been arrested. Interior Minister
Lyubomir Nachev said the list signals his ministry's will to cooperate with the
judiciary in the fight against crime. The ministry was asked for such a list by
Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev, the National Investigation Service, and the
police. Standart reported that police last week started arresting people
whose names appear on the list. Meanwhile, former Tsar Simeon II on 22 February
told Deutsche Welle that he intends to visit Bulgaria in spring and that he
does not rule out running in the presidential elections later this year. --
ALBANIA GETS ITS GOLD BACK.
French and Albanian officials on 22 February
signed an accord allowing the return of gold worth $30 million to Albania,
Reuters reported. The gold was first looted by the Nazis and later seized by
the allies to stop it falling into communist hands at the end of World War II.
It has since been held at the Bank of England in London under the trusteeship
of an Anglo-American-French commission. Albanian Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni
said he expected the 1.5 tons of gold ingots and coins to be back in Albania in
March. Albania had signed accords with Britain and the U.S last year and had
needed only Paris's signature. -- Fabian Schmidt
FRANCE DONATES WHEAT TO ALBANIA.
The French government will donate 3,000
tons of wheat to Albania to prevent a food crisis, Reuters reported on 22
February. Albania's wheat crop in 1995 fell by 35,000 tons to 420,000 tons,
half its annual demand. In addition price increases on the world marked have
resulted in a shortage of cheap wheat on the Albanian domestic market. The
wheat will be shipped to Durres in March. Romania has already donated 10,000
tons of wheat and is expected to send another 24,000 tons by early March. --
GREECE SEEKS TO BLOCK EU AID TO ANKARA.
Greece on 22 February
effectively stalled a 375 million ECU ($485 million) aid package to Turkey,
Western media reported. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said voting
on the package has been taken off the agenda of the EU foreign ministers'
council meeting scheduled for 26 February. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis,
meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn on 22 February, sought
German support in Greece's dispute with Turkey over an uninhabited islet.
Meanwhile, Ankara responded by recalling its ambassador to Greece, Western
agencies reported. Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller called on
countries friendly with Athens and Ankara to dissuade Greece from pursuing the
"dangerous path" it has embarked upon. -- Stefan Krause and Lowell
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave