STATE-CONTROLLED MEDIA LACK FUNDS TO PAY TRANSMITTERS.
television and radio stations owe transmitters 521 billion rubles ($109
million) for 1995 and an additional 93 billion rubles ($19 million) for January
1996, Anatolii Nazeikin, the chairman of the Communication Workers' Trade Union
central committee announced on 27 February, ITAR-TASS reported. For 1995,
Russian Public TV (ORT) owes 77 billion rubles ($16 million) and Russian TV
owes 27 billion rubles ($6 million). Many of the transmitting stations are in
danger of shutting down because their employees have not been paid and they
lack the necessary spare parts. ORT General Director Sergei Blagovolin
complained that the president has issued decrees authorizing payment, but they
have not been carried out, Russian TV reported. In addition, there is no money
for ORT in the 1996 budget, even though it is 51% state owned. -- Robert
STATE MEDIA LEADERS UNHAPPY WITH RULES FOR CAMPAIGN COVERAGE.
State-controlled media leaders want the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to
specify who will compensate them for giving free air time to presidential
candidates since the stations have yet to receive payment from the government
for air time given to Duma candidates in last December's election. The issue
was not covered in the new draft instructions on the role of the media in the
presidential campaign recently prepared by the TsIK, NTV reported on 28
February. The media leaders complain that the law does not require candidates
to participate in debates rather than presenting pre-packaged clips or
monologues in their free air time. ORT General Director Blagovolin questioned
how the candidates, including Yeltsin, would meet the requirement not to use
their current position to gain advantage over other candidates. -- Robert
INGUSHETIYA TO SUE OVER TROOP INCURSION.
Ingush President Ruslan Aushev
told ITAR-TASS on 27 February that he plans to sue the Defense Ministry for the
damage and loss of life caused by the 58th Army in his republic (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 27 February 1996). He said that the operation "did not raise
the authority of the Russian president as the commander-in-chief, especially on
the eve of the presidential elections." The troops were pulled out on 26
February. -- Robert Orttung
PUBLISHER ISSUES BOOK ON NORTH KOREAN LEADER.
At a 27 February Moscow
ceremony, the Paleya publishing house unveiled a book on North Korean leader
Kim Jong Il, the first in a planned 80-volume series on 20th century world
leaders, ITAR-TASS reported. The series will include volumes on Kim's father,
Kim Il Sung, Chinese leader Deng Xiao-ping, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and
Indonesian President Suharto. Not intended for a broad readership, the series
will be distributed directly to world political leaders in order to
"demonstrate the diversity of contemporary society." Among those present at the
ceremony was former Soviet Defense Minister and 1991 coup plotter Dmitrii
Yazov, who said Kim had suggested the series to him during a visit to North
Korea last year. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov chairs the series'
editorial board. -- Scott Parrish
DEPUTY PRAISES INTEGRATION WITH BELARUS.
Duma Deputy Nikolai Gonchar
told ITAR-TASS on 28 January that he regarded the debt renunciation deal signed
with Belarus as "extremely favorable for Russia." Gonchar emphasized the
"economic and geopolitical" importance of Belarus as a market for Russian
industrial products. He also praised Yeltsin and Lukashenka's intention to
construct a new highway linking Russia with its Kaliningrad enclave via Belarus
and Poland. Gonchar added that the new agreements could foster the creation of
a new union of the two states "without the words Soviet or Socialist," which
might encourage Russia's southern and southeastern neighbors to accelerate
their economic integration with Russia. -- Scott Parrish
FRANCE PAYS $16 MILLION FOR SPACE FLIGHT.
The French National Space
Agency agreed to pay $16.4 million to send one of its astronauts for a two-week
flight on the "Mir" orbital space station in July 1996, ITAR-TASS reported on
26 February. The cost will be split between the Russian Space Corporation
Energiya and the Cosmonauts' Training Center in Zvezdnyi gorodok near Moscow.
Russia also has signed an agreement with Australia to use "Start" booster
rockets for launching Australian communications and ecological monitoring
satellites beginning in fall 1998. Satellites will be launched from the Woomera
space center in Australia. -- Natalia Gurushina
SEMENOV CRITICIZES NATO EXERCISES IN NORWAY.
Current NATO naval and
ground exercises in northern Norway "jeopardize Russia's security," according
to Col. Gen. Vladimir Semenov, the commander-in-chief of Russia's Ground
Forces. ITAR-TASS on 26 February quoted Semenov has saying that Russian troops
in the region had been put on alert and instructed to keep a close watch on the
situation. He expressed puzzlement at the type and location of the exercises
and claimed that they reflected "continued Cold War thinking" on the part of
Western military leaders. -- Doug Clarke
NEW JOB FOR PACIFIC FLEET COMMANDER.
Admiral Igor Khmel-nyov, the
commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, has been appointed chief of the Main
Staff of the navy, Reuters reported on 27 February, quoting a statement from
the fleet's press office. His successor was reported to be Vice-Admiral
Vladimir Kuroedov, who had been chief of staff in the Baltic Fleet. Khmelnev
will replace Admiral Valentin Selivanov on the navy staff. -- Doug Clarke
FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE AND INTERIOR MINISTRY HOLD CLOSED MEETING.
leadership of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Interior Ministry held a
joint closed meeting on 27 February, Russian media reported. FSB Director
Mikhail Barsukov, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, Procurator-General Yurii
Skuratov, and Presidential National Security Adviser Yurii Baturin attended the
meeting. Both Barsukov and Kulikov admitted that terrorism and organized crime
are destabilizing reforms in Russia and may threaten the forthcoming
presidential election. They pledged to strengthen interdepartmental cooperation
in combating terrorism and organized crime. A similar joint meeting took place
in 1992. -- Constantine Dmitriev
WARRANT ISSUED FOR ARREST OF SERGEI STANKEVICH.
Sergei Stankevich, a
former Duma deputy, presidential adviser, and deputy chairman of the Moscow
City Duma, is the latest prominent public figure to face corruption charges in
a campaign that has already seen the institution of criminal proceedings
against former acting Procurator-General Aleksei Ilyushenko and former
Roskom-dragmet Chairman Yevgenii Bychkov. According to Ekho Moskvy, on 26
February the Moscow Procurator's Office issued a warrant for the arrest of
Stankevich, who is suspected of accepting a $10,000 bribe during preparations
for a gala concert on Red Square in the summer of 1991. Ilyu-shenko asked the
Duma to lift Stankevich's immunity in April 1995, but that request was turned
down. Stankevich did not run in the December parliamentary elections, and his
current whereabouts are unknown. Stankevich was a leading figure in the
democratic movement in the late Gorbachev era, and with his fluent English was
often seen on Western TV screens. -- Penny Morvant
JOURNALIST, BUSINESSMEN MURDERED.
A Russian photographer, Feliks
Solovev, who occasionally freelanced for the German newspaper Bild, was
shot dead in Moscow on 26 February, Russian and Western agencies reported the
following day. The motive for the killing is unclear. Also on 26 February,
three people, including a British businessman, were killed when gunmen burst
into the prestigious Nevskii Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, Reuters reported.
The gunmen opened fire on a group sitting at a table in the hotel's Vienna
Cafe, killing two off-duty policemen who were working as bodyguards for a
Russian businessman. The Briton, John Hyden, was apparently hit by a stray
bullet. -- Penny Morvant
DEBATE CONTINUES OVER OIL EXPORT DUTY.
First Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Kadannikov now says that the oil export duty will be reduced from 20
to 14 ECU per metric ton on 1 April, not to 10 ECU, as earlier reported. Also,
he told ITAR-TASS on 27 February that from 1 July the oil export duty will be
replaced by only a 3 ECU rise in excise tax, so as to protect domestic oil
consumers. Instead, revenue will be raised from a new 17 ECU tax on pipelines,
presumably on export pipelines. It appears that the government is looking for a
way to formally comply with the IMF condition that export duties be lifted.
However, Kadannikov did confirm that the 5 ECU export duty on natural gas will
be removed beginning on 15 March. -- Peter Rutland
U.S. COMPUTER MAKER HALTS RUSSIAN PRODUCTION.
IBM has decided to stop
assembling its own PCs at the Kvant enterprise in Zelenograd, near Moscow, AFP
reported on 27 February. The joint venture at the former defense plant began in
1993, and was producing 40,000 units a month. The Moscow authorities granted
the plant an exemption from taxes on imported components, but in 1994 in
response to a Duma law barring such waivers they reimposed the taxes, adding
8.5% to the final cost. IBM was unable to compete with imports of finished PCs
by Russian trading companies which continued to enjoy tax exemptions. In 1995,
Russians bought roughly 1 million PCs. -- Peter Rutland
OPPOSITION INVITED TO ADDRESS TAJIK PARLIAMENT.
The Tajik government has
offered the opposition an opportunity to speak at a session of the Tajik
parliament on 11 March, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 27 February. However,
a spokesman for the opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, said the oppo-sition's
participation hinged on the release of Zafar Rakhmonov, the opposition's
representative to a joint commission monitoring the ceasefire and supported by
the UN. Rakhmonov was taken by four men in the capital Dushanbe on 24 February
and his whereabouts since remain unknown. Speaking from Tehran, Turajonzoda
said "nobody would dare go to Dushanbe, even if they were told to do so. There
is no guarantee of personal safety," Reuters reported. -- Bruce Pannier
COSSACK LEADER ACCUSES KAZAKHSTAN OF BEING A "FASCIST" STATE.
At a press
conference in at the headquarters of the extreme nationalist movement
Pamyat in Moscow on 27 February, the Semi-rechie Cossack leader, Nikolai
Gunkin, accused Kazakhstan of being a "fascist" state which endorses a
"genocide of Russians," Russian TV reported. Gunkin was released on 27 January
after serving a 3-month sentence in an Almaty prison for allegedly holding
unauthorized public rallies. Gunkin told an Express-Khronika
correspondent that he expects the new Russian State Duma to put more pressure
on Kazakhstan over human rights issues. He claimed that if Russians continue to
migrate and if Russia abandons Kazakhstan, the country will be "annexed" by
China. -- Bhavna Dave
IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TASHKENT.
Kicking off a tour of Central Asia
and the Transcaucasus, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati traveled to
Uzbekistan on 28 February, Russian and Western agencies reported. Velayati is
to leave for Dushanbe this evening to meet with Tajik President Imomali
Rakh-monov and discuss possible resolutions to the ongoing conflict in that
country. Velayati will also visit Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turk-menistan,
Armenia, and Azerbaijan in an effort to assert Iran's role in the region. --
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/HEL-SINKI CRITICAL OF KARIMOV.
In a letter to Uzbek
Prime Minister Islam Karimov dated 22 February, the Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
organization expressed its "extreme disappointment and distress" at his
assessment of a series of meetings held in December 1995. The letter, obtained
by OMRI, complains that in an interview given to Pravda vostoka on 30
December 1995, Karimov misinterpreted the organization's findings on human
rights abuses in Uzbekistan. The report also noted that Karimov's office
inexplicably declined to meet with them during the trip, showing a "disturbing
disdain for human rights concerns." Human Rights Watch/Helsinki said an
accurate depiction of their findings will be made available shortly. -- Roger
ZYUGANOV ENDS UKRAINIAN VISIT.
Russian Communist Party leader and
presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov on 27 February ended a two-day visit
to Kiev, international agencies reported. Small groups of Ukrainian
nationalists staged protests during his visit. Zyuganov said regardless of who
won Russia's presidential election, Moscow would continue to base its foreign
policy on the principle of non-interference. He added that Ukraine remained a
top priority. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma did not meet with Zyuganov
because he had only heard of the visit last week and was out of the country at
the time. -- Ustina Markus
UKRAINE MAY SHUT DOWN UP TO 70 LOSS-MAKING COAL MINES.
Yevhen Marchuk says his government may close down up to 70 unprofitable coal
mines in the next few years, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 February. Kiev had
announced earlier it would shut down 28 pits in an effort to restructure the
ailing coal industry. Marchuk said he believes the coal sector still has a
bright future because the country has enough coal deposits to allow mining for
another 600 years. However, his government intends to support only profitable
and efficient mines, he added. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUS AND RUSSIA SIGN ECONOMIC ACCORDS.
Visiting Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, signed an
agreement renouncing all mutual debts, including Belarus's unpaid energy bills
and its claims to compensation for nuclear weapons transferred to Russia,
international media reported on 27 February. Yeltsin strongly endorsed closer
integration with Belarus but denied that it would recreate the Soviet Union,
which he accused the communists of "dreaming about." -- Scott Parrish
CENTER-RIGHT POLITICAL PARTIES UNITE IN BELARUS.
Christian-Democratic Party on 26 February joined the union of center-right
parties called Civic Action, Belarusian TV reported. The union, which was
formed in September 1995, describes itself as "liberal-conservative" and
upholds market reforms and private ownership of land. The Christian Democrats
have been cooperating with the union since last year's election campaign. Civic
Action is led by deputy Stanislau Bahdankevich, the former head of the National
Bank of Belarus. -- Ustina Markus
PROTESTS BY HEAD OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN ESTONIA.
Kornilii on 26 February sent a letter to Constantinople Patriarch Bartholemew I
protesting his decision to reclaim jurisdiction over the Estonian Apostolic
Orthodox Church, BNS reported the next day. Kornilii expressed his total
support for the Moscow patriarch's decision to suspend relations with
Constantinople and accused Bar-tholemew of forming a political alliance with
the Estonian authorities against the non-native population. Kornilii also sent
a letter to Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari accusing Archbishop Johannes of
Finland of interfering in the affairs of the Estonian Orthodox Church. --
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT MAKES SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW GOVERN-MENT'S FINANCIAL
Algir-das Brazauskas, in his weekly interview with Radio Lithuania
on 26 February, said Mindaugas Stanke-vicius's new government should present a
program for dealing with the republic's financial problems. He said the law on
free economic zones was problematic since it did not grant privileges offered
in other countries to attract foreign capital. Brazauskas suggested the law on
foreign investments should be amended to reduce the investment needed to gain a
two-year tax exemption from $2 million to $500,000 or even less. He also said
that to end the fears of the possible devaluation of the litas, the law on
litas stability should be amended to state that the government guarantees its
stability at least until 1 January 1999. -- Saulius Girnius
UPDATE ON PROPOSED KALININ-GRAD HIGHWAY.
Russian President Boris
Yeltsin, speaking during Bela-rusian President Alyaksandr Luka-shenka's visit
to Moscow, said on 27 February that Russia will seek Poland's consent to build
a road link between Belarus and Kaliningrad. "We are planning to reach an
accord with the Poles to build a stretch of road across their territory,"
Yeltsin said. Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobro-wolski said that
Poland has not been officially notified about the plan but added that the
subject may come up during Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's visit
to Warsaw on 14 March. Polish Transportation Minister Boguslaw Li-beradzki said
Poland can neither agree to building an "extraterritorial" highway nor sign
special transit agreements because such matters are regulated by all-European
agreements, Polish dailies reported on 28 February. -- Jakub Karpinski
ROMA SENTENCED IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
The 24 Vlax Roma, mostly women,
accused of organized pick-pocketing in downtown Prague (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 21 February 1996) have been convicted to up to four years in prison
by a Czech court, CTK reported on 27 February. In addition, three of the women
were barred from Prague for four years and one is to be deported. Vlax Roma are
a minority among Roma in the Czech Republic and are newer to the region and
less well assimilated. Some Roma blame them for the minority's criminal image.
Around 50 Romani protesters gathered outside the courthouse. The verdict raises
questions about collective trials, especially assumptions related to minority
"gangs" or "clans" in court proceedings. -- Alaina Lemon
TROUBLED SLOVAK-EU RELATIONS.
EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van
den Broek, attending the Slovak-EU Association Council session in Brussels on
27 February, called on Slovakia "to further develop and strengthen democratic
institutions and to respect ethnic minority rights and freedom of speech." Van
den Broek expressed the hope that Slovakia will soon ratify the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty and pass a law on minority languages. He also asked
that Slovakia cancel its 10% import surcharge by 30 June, show more openness
toward foreign investment, close unsafe nuclear reactors, and harmonize its
legislation with that of the EU. Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, who led the
Slovak delegation, called the meeting "a breakthrough" in bilateral relations,
stressing that no one questioned Slovakia's domestic political path or
discussed its internal instability, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK SECRET SERVICE CHIEF SUES PRESIDENT.
Slovak Information Service
director Ivan Lexa on 27 February filed a libel suit with a Bratislava court
against Michal Kovac over assertions at a Vienna court hearing about the
involvement of the SIS and Lexa in his son's kidnapping, Narodna obroda
reported. According to Slovak law, the president is required within 30 days
to submit evidence backing his statements. Slovak opposition media pointed out
that this will not be difficult, since Kovac can present the police
investigation reports and testimony by former SIS agent Oskar Fegyveres. --
FORMER HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER WILL NOT RECEIVE SEVERANCE PAY.
Supreme Court has ruled that outgoing Finance Minister Lajos Bokros is entitled
to six months' salary--over 1 million forints ($7,000)--but no severance pay,
Hungarian dailies reported on 28 February. The Prime Minister's Office had
asked the Supreme Court to clarify which rules should apply to the legal status
of ministers, since the relevant law dates back to 1973. None of the six
ministers who quit in 1995 received severance pay, because they all stayed on
as deputies. Reports that Bokros was about to get 2 million forints in
severance drew heated debates in the parliament earlier this week. -- Zsofia
HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS MEDIA ORGANS.
The Hungarian parliament on 27
February elected Socialist Party member Mihaly Tamas Revesz as chairman of the
National Radio and Television Board (NRTB), Hungarian media reported. Deputies
also elected chairmen of the Board of Trustees of the Hungarian Radio
Foundation, Hungarian Television (MTV), and Hungaria Television. The most
controversial member elected to the NRTB was Gabor Nahlik, the candidate of the
opposition Smallholders, who was appointed acting chairman of MTV in 1993 by
Jozsef Antall's government and who played a prominent role in the so-called
media war. In other news, the parliament amended the banking law to allow tax
customs and social insurance authorities to gain access to bank data under
certain circumstances. This was a prerequisite for OECD membership. -- Zsofia
BELGRADE LIFTS BLOCKADE AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS...
The federal government
of rump Yugoslavia on 27 February voted to lift its blockade against the
Republika Srpska, Nasa Borba reported. The blockade, which was
implemented on 4 August 1994 and sealed the Drina River border between
Repu-blika Srpska and rump Yugoslavia, was lifted officially at midnight, local
time, on 28 February. -- Stan Markotich
...BUT U.S. WARNS THAT SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA MAY NOT BE LIFTED.
U.S. government has warned Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that
international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia will stay in place if the
Belgrade regime continues its crackdown on independent media and humanitarian
organizations, international media reported on 27 February. U.S. government
spokesman Glyn Davies said that "Milosevic has to understand that he's not
operating in a vacuum.... The Dayton Accord calls for certain standards in
human rights and we're going to hold [Belgrade] to it." -- Stan Markotich
MOST EE FOREIGN MINISTERS BACK EU ARMS EMBARGO.
East European foreign
ministers, meeting with their EU counterparts in Brussels on 27 February,
discussed the EU arms embargo on Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia, international
media reported. Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia
immediately endorsed the embargo. Poland, the Czech Republic, Albania, and
Bulgaria weclomed the idea but said they needed to consult with their
governments before adopting the measure. They cited a "lack of precision" in
the requirement that countries "show restraint" in selling arms to Slovenia and
Macedonia, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Michael Mihalka
THREE BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET.
Republican Prime Minister Hasan
Muratovic, his federal counterpart Izudin Kapetanovic, and the Republika
Srpska's Rajko Kasagic met with the international com-munity's Carl Bildt in
Banja Luka on 27 February. Their agenda centered on restoring infrastructure
across the boundaries between the Serbian and Muslim-Croat entities.
International and regional media said that water will be piped to Gorazde and
power lines rebuilt from Visegrad and Sarajevo via Gorazde to Foca. Rail
transport will be resumed from Serb-held Zvornik to Banja Luka via federal
Tuzla. Kasagic told reporters that there will be a common customs policy based
on the German mark as a reference currency. -- Patrick Moore
WAR CRIMES UPDATE.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia based in The Hague on 27 February concluded its hearings against
Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic in just one day. Martic is in Banja Luka, and
the VOA on 28 February quoted him as saying that any attempt to arrest and
extradite him would be "a terrorist act." He is wanted for an indiscriminate
rocket attack on civilians in Zagreb in 1995. The hearings were wound up
because of the need to address a request by the lawyer of Bosnian Serb General
Djordje Djukic that his client be freed immediately, Nasa Borba noted.
Oslobodjenje reported that the Bosnian Serb authorities have drawn up a
list of 2,388 people suspected of committing attrocities against Serbs,
including 11 Serbs "who betrayed their own people." * Patrick Moore
SARAJEVO SERB EXODUS NEARLY OVER.
The evacuation of the Serb-held suburb
of Ilijas is almost complete on the eve of the arrival of government police.
Bosnian Serb refugees blamed their leaders for ordering them out on short
notice and withdrawing essential services at the same time. AFP on 28 February
quoted one man as saying that the Serbian "leaders could have let us known of
their intentions earlier, instead of shunting us out like cattle at the last
minute." The Guardian reported the previous day that the Serb-held
suburbs are in the hands of drunken armed bands that terrorize the remaining
inhabitants, most of whom are sick and old, and loot what property is left. --
INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE GRANTS $14 MILLION TO SARAJEVO.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will allocate $14 million for
the reconstruction of the destroyed Olympic arenas in Sarajevo, Nasa
Borba reported on 28 February, citing Deutsche Welle. Meanwhile, AFP on 27
February reported that international aid agencies are shunning the Bosnian
Serbs and concentrating their efforts on the Muslim-Croat Federation. Aid
workers said donor governments are reluctant to support the Serbian side
because they see no guarantee of long-term stability. An unidentified source
told AFP that development aid would target exclusively government-controlled
territory, while humanitarian aid projects would remain universal. -- Daria
CROATIA SAYS COOPERATION WITH THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL IS CONDITIONAL.
Croatian parliamentary legislative committee has supported in principle the
proposal on Croatia's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for
the Former Yugoslavia. But it said Croatia's support is conditional on changes
being made to the tribunal statutes in accordance with the legislative systems
of Croatia and other successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Novi List
reported on 28 February. Croatian law prohibits the extradition of a
citizen who has already been tried in Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic
CROATIAN LABOR UNREST ENTERS DRAMATIC PHASE.
The railroad strike that
began on 22 February has succeeded in shutting down 90% of the trains, AFP
reported on 28 February. The main union grouping, the SSSH, planned to launch a
general strike last week but postponed it without giving a reason. President
Franjo Tudjman has said that the labor unrest is "not democratic," but the
unions have asked to negotiate with him personally over pay and the high cost
of living. -- Patrick Moore
ROMANIA-EU ASSOCIATION COUNCIL CONVENES.
Romanian Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu, presiding over a meeting of the Romanian-EU Association
Council in Brussels on 27 February, presented his country's strategy for
joining the EU, which includes bringing its legislation in line with EU
standards and speeding up economic reforms. Radio Bucharest reported that he
also renewed Romania's request that EU member states abolish visa requirements
for Romanian citizens. The meeting was attended by EU Council President Susanna
Agnelli and by Hans van den Broek, EU commissioner for relations with Eastern
Europe and the CIS. Van den Broek said he was satisfied with Romania's
"considerable efforts to pave the way for full EU membership." -- Dan Ionescu
U.S. DEFENSE OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA.
U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Paul
Kaminski paid a four-day visit to Romania to discuss bilateral military
cooperation, Romanian and international media reported on 26-28 February.
Kaminski and his Romanian counterpart, Gen. Florentin Popa, signed an agreement
on the exchange of information in military research and development. Premier
Nicolae Vacaroiu told Kaminski that Romania continues to aim for NATO
integration. The two sides discussed the possibility of U.S. support in
modernizing the Romanian army and defense industry. Kaminski also met with
President Ion Iliescu, Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, and other senior
officials. -- Matyas Szabo
RUSSIAN TANKS TO BULGARIA.
Russia is to provide Bulgaria with 100 T-72
tanks and other armored "fighting vehicles," Kontinent reported on 27
February. The daily noted that relations between Russia and Bulgaria have
always been close, observing "Bulgaria is one of those few countries in Eastern
Europe that is not pressing for NATO membership." Meanwhile,
Demo-kratsiya reported that Gen. Mikho Mikhov last week refused Moscow's
"gift" of 12 Mi-24 helicopters because of their low technical grade and the
high cost need to repair and maintain them. The arms transfer was agreed to in
1995. -- Stan Markotich
ALBANIAN POLICE ARRESTS MEDIA EMPLOYEES IN CONNECTION WITH BOMB ATTACK.
Albanian police on 27 February arrested the two bodyguards of Koha Jone
editor in chief Nikolla Lesi in connection with the bomb explosion in
Tirana the previous day, Albanian media reported. This move came after police
had interrogated 33 Koha Jone staff members on the day of the blast.
State radio said the bodyguards resembled police sketches of the alleged
perpetrators. Police also raided Lesi's apartment and confiscated a hunting
rifle and a safe box containing tapes of a 1994 trial in which two journalists
were convicted of slander and revealing state secrets. Meanwhile, the
Association of Professional Journalists has protested the police raid on
Koha Jone. President Sali Berisha said "the government is
com-mitted...to iden-tifing the perpetrators, and I believe Albanian justice
will give them the punishment they deserve --capital punishment." The Socialist
Party has rejected claims it was involved in the attack and has called on all
political parties to "unite in the fight against terrorism." -- Fabian
GREECE, MACEDONIA FAIL AGAIN TO REACH AGREEMENT ON NAME ISSUE.
and Macedonia, meeting at UN headquarters in New York on 27 February, failed
again to reach agreement on the issue of a permanent official name for
Macedonia. Both parties agreed, however, to continue the dialogue in April.
Macedonia was admitted to the UN in April 1993 under the name Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia. Greece continues to object to the use of "Macedonia" in
its name, arguing it implies territorial claims against the northern Greek
province bearing the same name. -- Lowell Bezanis and Stan Markotich
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave