GRACHEV READY TO MEET WITH DUDAEV.
While touring military installations
in Rostov Oblast, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on 2 March declared himself
willing to meet with Chechen separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev, NTV
reported. Grachev, scheduled to arrive in Grozny on 4 March, said that "if
Dudaev wants to meet with me, I will do so." He reiterated that any peace
settlement must be predicated on Chechnya remaining within the Russian
Federation--a condition Dudaev has consistently rejected. NTV described
Grachev's remarks as "sensational," since Russian officials, including Grachev
himself, have repeatedly refused to meet with Dudaev. Russian analysts
speculated that Grachev's remarks reflect President Yeltsin's desire to find a
resolution to the Chechen conflict before the June presidential election. --
FIGHTING INTENSIFIES IN CHECHNYA.
Federal forces and separatist fighters
clashed repeatedly in Chechnya on 13 March, as federal forces continued to
shell Bamut, near the border with Ingushetiya, Russian media reported. Military
spokesmen say 500 fighters are holed up there in the underground bunkers of a
former Soviet missile base. On 1 March, fighters attacked federal positions in
central Grozny, while on 2 March they staged a raid against federal forces
headquarters in Khankala, outside Grozny. Also on 2 March, the Baku-Stavropol
natural gas pipeline was blown up near the village of Sholkovskaya. A similar
explosion, blamed on separatist fighters, cut the pipeline on 22 February. On 3
March, intense fighting broke out in Sernovodsk, 45 km west of Grozny, when
Chechen fighters ambushed federal troops who had entered the town to search for
arms caches. RFE/RL reported continued fighting there on 4 March. -- Scott
YELTSIN SUPPORTERS HOLD CONFERENCE.
President Boris Yeltsin's campaign
machine moved into high gear on 2 March when 900 delegates from 37 political
parties and movements attended a conference in Moscow to support the president,
Russian media reported. Conference speakers including former presidential chief
of staff Sergei Filatov portrayed Yeltsin as the only alternative to the bad
old days under the Communists. Sergei Belyaev, head of the Our Home Is Russia
Duma faction, said attempts to create a "third force" that is neither
pro-government nor pro-communist (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 February
1996) were misguided and based on "illusions." He said society is divided into
two camps--that is, for and against a return to communism, Russian TV reported.
-- Laura Belin
GORBACHEV TO RUN FOR PRESIDENCY.
Former Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev announced that he will run for president this year because Russians
deserve a "real alternative" to both Yeltsin and Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, Russian and Western media reported on 1 March. He called on
all "democratically-minded leaders" to choose a common presidential candidate,
adding that if such a coalition nominated somebody else, he would bow out of
the race, according to ITAR-TASS. In recent opinion polls only 1-2% of
respondents said they would consider voting for Gorbachev. Nevertheless,
Gorbachev's campaign has already collected 700,000 signatures supporting his
candidacy, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin
DEADLINE EXPIRES FOR REGISTERING INITIATIVE GROUPS.
initiative groups nominating presidential candidates submitted their documents
to the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) on 2 March, the last day before the
deadline expired, Russian Public Television (ORT) reported, citing TsIK
secretary Aleksandr Veshnyakov. The commission has already registered 59 groups
nominating a total of 49 candidates (10 of the groups support Yeltsin, two
support Aleksandr Lebed). However, no more than a dozen presidential hopefuls
are likely to win a spot on the ballot, since most candidates will fail to
collect the necessary 1 million signatures by 16 April. -- Laura Belin
YELTSIN CHANGES RULES ON REGIONAL ELECTIONS. . .
President Yeltsin on 2
March issued a decree allowing regional legislative bodies to set the date for
regional elections on their own, ITAR-TASS reported. The electoral terms for
all of Russia's regional legislatures expire in 1996. In a September decree,
Yeltsin fixed December 1996 as the date for all regional elections. -- Anna
. . .DISCUSSES LISTEV INVESTIGATION WITH SKURATOV.
A year after the
murder of TV journalist Vladislav Listev, President Yeltsin met with
Procurator-General Yurii Skura-tov to discuss the case, Segodnya and
Rossiiskie vesti reported on 2 March. Although Listev's killing remains
unsolved, Skuratov denied that the investigation, which has been widely
criticized, has reached a dead-end. -- Penny Morvant
ANTI-FASCIST YOUTH MOVEMENT HOLDS CONFERENCE.
Russia's Democratic Choice
leader Yegor Gaidar told an anti-fascist youth conference that the country's
Communist Party has evolved into a national-socialist rather than a
social-democratic party, and that if it wins the elections it could pose a
danger to world peace, NTV and Russian TV reported. The conference, held in
Moscow on 3 March, was attended by about 60 representatives of the movement
Youth Action against Fascism (AMD) from 17 regions. AMD Chairman Petr
Kaznacheev said Russia's democratic youth are seeking to establish a "white"
anti-communist and anti-fascist belt throughout Russia to counterbalance
Russia's "red belt." -- Penny Morvant
NUMBER OF CIVIL SERVANTS INCREASING.
The number of civil servants in
federal and regional bodies rose by 6% in 1995 in comparison with the previous
year, Radio Rossii reported on 3 March citing the State Statistics Committee.
There are now more than 1 million civil servants, excluding administrative
personnel in the Defense Ministry, law enforcement organs, and Customs Service.
The sharpest increase last year was in the number of apparatchiks in
legislative bodies--up 23%. Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan said last
September that the government intended to reduce the number of civil servants.
-- Penny Morvant
NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS MOSCOW.
Norwegian Foreign Minister
Bjoern Tor Godal held talks in Moscow on 2 March with his Russian counterpart,
Yevgenii Prima-kov, Russian and Western agencies reported. During their
discussion, Primakov reiterated Russian objections to any eastward expansion of
NATO. Primakov also described the recent NATO exercises in northern Norway as
"nothing unusual," despite earlier Russian protests (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 28 February 1995). Primakov announced that President Yeltsin will
visit Norway later this month. A visit to Norway scheduled for July 1995 was
postponed when Yeltsin was hospitalized with heart problems. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN MILITARY LACKS FOOD AND MONEY.
The armed forces were allocated
500 billion rubles ($104 million) for food for January but so far have received
only 100 billion rubles, Novaya gazeta reported on 28 February. The
current budget allocates only 8,735 Rubles ($1.80) per day to feed each
soldier. According to a military spokesman, the army has not received 9 million
uniforms it ordered and soldiers stationed in Chechnya have been forced to wear
sneakers and winter hats donated by Menatep bank. -- Constantine Dmitriev
RUSSIA TO BUILD NEW SPACE LAUNCH SITE.
President Yeltsin has approved
the creation of Russia's third space launch site near Svobodnyi in the Far
East, Western agencies reported on 1 March. Russia has been leasing the
Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for $115 million a year for manned flights,
but cannot reach agreement with the Kazakhstani government over the upkeep of
the facility. Russia's two other cosmodromes--at Plesetsk in northwestern
Russia and Kapustin Yar near Volgograd--are used only for launching satellites.
The first lift-off from Svobodnyi is expected by the end of 1996. However,
experts warn that by stretching its financial resources, Russia may be unable
to fulfill some of its international obligations under the "Mir" program. --
DRUG ADDICTION INCREASING.
Vladimir Yegorov, director of the Russian
Center for the Study of Drug Addiction, said on 1 March that at least half a
million Russians are dependent on illegal drugs and that the number of drug
users could be as high as 1.5 million, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 March. Owing in
part to Russia's porous borders, a wide range of drugs are now available, but
Yegorov said that only the well-off can afford to buy imported drugs such as
heroin and cocaine. He said he hoped treatment for drug addiction will improve
after the construction of five rehabilitation centers envisaged in a federal
program passed last year. -- Penny Morvant
IMPORT TARIFF HIKE. . .
Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov said on 29
February that import tariffs will be raised by 20%, increasing the average
tariff to 17-18%, Segodnya reported. The step, mainly intended to raise
revenue, drew criticism from an EU spokesman, who pointed out that Russia did
not consult the EU before announcing the move, Reuters reported on 2 March.
Such consultation is required under the terms of the EU interim trade agreement
with Russia, which came into effect on 1 February. The EU claims that the
average tariff they charge on Russian imports is 1%. On 27 February, an EU
delegation arrived in Moscow to discuss Russia's threat to introduce quotas to
correct the two-to-one imbalance in the textile trade with the EU, ITAR-TASS
reported. The Russian customs service announced on 1 March that limits for
duty-free import of personal purchases will be lowered from $2,000 to $1,000,
above which they will be taxed at 5 ECU per kg. -- Peter Rutland
. . .ZAVERYUKHA REACTION.
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha
said that tariffs will not be enough to protect Russian farmers from foreign
imports, and that quotas are needed, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 March. Zaveryukha
claimed that farm subsidies in the U.S. amount to $341 per hectare, in Germany
$800, and in Russia only $35, so Russia cannot hope to compete in terms of
price. He stated that Russian farms have only 40% of the fuel and 70% of the
machinery they need for the spring sowing, according to Delovoi mir on 2
March, and made the customary call for state-subsidized credits for farm
suppliers. -- Peter Rutland
INFLATION AT ALL-TIME LOW.
Consumer price inflation in February was a
mere 2.8%, the lowest level since 1991, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told
Russian Public TV (ORT) on 1 March. Inflation was 4.1% in January and 3.2% in
December. However, the same day, Russia's two largest oil companies, LUKoil and
Yukos, said they would increase their domestic prices by up to 25%. Even
assuming the February inflation figure is reliable, it is unlikely that monthly
inflation will fall below 2% later this year, as government spokesmen insist.
-- Peter Rutland
OSCE CHAIRMAN MEETS AZER-BAIJANI LEADER, DISCUSSES NAGORNO-KARABAKH.
Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti, in his capacity as OSCE chairman, arrived
in Baku on 2 March to discuss the prospects for a resolution to the
Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Russian and Western sources reported. After the
meeting, Cotti stressed that the "principle of the territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan" is critical to any negotiation, adding that "autonomy for
Nagorno-Karabakh" can be established within such a design, Turan reported on 3
March. During his stay in the region, Cotti also hopes to persuade Karabakh
officials to release 64 Azer-baijani prisoners of war, who should have been
released under the two-year-old ceasefire, RFE/RL reported. -- Roger Kangas
IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA.
Minister Ali Akbar Velayati arrived in Baku on 2 March to attend the opening of
an Iranian trade fair and to meet with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev,
Turan and international media reported. Velayati said Iran's economic relations
with Azerbaijan are improving. He attended the inauguration of the
Mashhad-Serakhs-Tedzhen railway, and called for the construction of another
railway via the border town of Astara. On 3 March, Velayati arrived in Tbilisi
to meet his Georgian counterpart, Irakli Menagharishvili, and President Eduard
Shevardnadze, to the discuss the latter's peace initiative for the Caucasus,
Russian media reported. -- Irakli Tsereteli
AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY OFFICIAL MURDERED.
The body of Ruhangiz
Muhtarova, a senior adviser on the parliamentary Ecology and Natural Resources
Commission, was found in her flat on 28 February with several stab wounds,
Turan reported on 1 March. Sources in the Interior Ministry said the murderers
have been found but gave no further details. -- Irakli Tsereteli
The government accused opposition forces of breaking
the ceasefire in Tavil Dara on 2 March and presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov
said the government would take "preventive measures," Russian and Western media
reported. In an interview with RFE/RL, opposition leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda
denied the reports, saying the government is trying to find an excuse to launch
an attack. On 4 March, the Russian Federal Border Service director, General
Andrei Nikolaev, arrived in Dushanbe to discuss strengthening border control
cooperation, a topic of last week's border services meeting in Brest, Belarus,
ITAR-TASS reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 March 1996). -- Roger
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT INCREASES BENEFITS FOR CHOR-NOBYL WORKERS.
Ukrainian government has increased wages and benefits for Chornobyl employees
and all individuals who work in the 30-km zone around the nuclear power plant,
Ukrainian TV reported on 1 March. Meanwhile, on a visit to the station, Prime
Minister Yevhen Marchuk said the cleanup from the April 1986 accident at
Chornobyl has cost the government $3 billion over the past four years. He
invited all the leaders of the G-7 powers to visit the plant, following the G-7
summit in Moscow in April, for the 10th anniversary of the deadly explosion. --
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER IN BELGRADE.
A Ukrainian delegation
headed by parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz ended an official visit to
Belgrade on 2 March, Ukrainian television reported. Moroz said he was pleased
with the outcome of the visit and hoped it would be mutually beneficial to
Ukraine and rump Yugoslavia. Moroz met with Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic and Prime Minister Ratoje Kontic. Moroz urged that economic
agreements between Ukraine and rump Yugoslavia be signed and ratified. He also
said he would support rump Yugoslavia's reentry into European organizations and
the lifting of UN sanctions against it. -- Ustina Markus
US EXPORT-IMPORT BANK APPROVES CREDIT TO UKRAINE.
The U.S. Export-Import
Bank has approved $171.3 million in credit guarantees to Ukraine, ITAR-TASS
reported on 2 March. The guarantees are to be used to buy agricultural
equipment. Under U.S. law, Congress has 30 days in which it can vote against
the credit. If it should do so, then the directors of the bank would have to
amend the credit proposals to suit Congress. -- Ustina Markus
MEETING OF ESTONIAN, LATVIAN PREMIERS.
Tiit Vahi and Andres Skele in
Parnu on 1 March discussed the maritime border question and fishing issues, BNS
reported. Latvia refuses to accept Estonia's unilateral decision to declare the
fish-rich areas around the island of Ruhnu as part of its economic zone and its
trawlers have fished in the area before being expelled by Estonian warships.
The premiers and border talks delegations summed up the results of previous
talks and defined the points where progress could be achieved. The two sides
agreed that relations between their countries were good, but made little
progress in settling the dispute. The Estonian parliament's foreign affairs
committee is scheduled to travel to Latvia in April to discuss the border
problem with its Latvian counterpart. -- Saulius Girnius
ACTING CHAIRMAN OF LITHUANIA'S RULING PARTY ELECTED.
The council of the
Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) on 2 March elected Seimas chairman
Ceslovas Jursenas as the party's acting chairman, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service
reported the next day. The council also elected Justinas Karosas as first
deputy chairman, replacing Gediminas Kirkilas, who was criticized for
vacationing in Germany while the Seimas voted on the dismissal of LDDP chairman
Adolfas Slezevicius as prime minister. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH DEPUTIES FOR CHANGES IN ABORTION LAW.
Labor Union (UP) deputy
Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka on 1 March presented a draft abortion law to the Sejm,
supported by the UP and the ruling Democratic Left Alliance deputies. The bill
would allow women to have an abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy if they
cannot afford to have a baby or have other personal problems. If parliament
passes the bill, it is likely to be signed into law by President Aleksander
Kwasniewski. An earlier bill easing the abortion law was vetoed by former
president Lech Walesa. The current law allows for abortions only if the
pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's life or health, if it results from rape
or incest or if the fetus is irreparably damaged. Doctors who perform abortions
in other cases face a prison term of up to two years. Public opinion polls show
that a majority of Poles want the abortion law relaxed. -- Jakub
POLISH, CZECH PRIME MINISTERS MEET.
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Vaclav
Klaus met on 3 March in Karpacz in southern Poland, Polish and international
media reported. They agreed that Poland is to supply goods and investment
services related to ecology on the borderland to settle its trade deficit with
the Czech Republic. Fostering of cooperation will go in line with agreements
within the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). The Polish prime
minister said CEFTA should expand to include Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania.
As for the return of property of Polish minority organizations, nationalized
after World War II, Klaus said that governmental decisions in favor of the
Poles are being prepared, but restitution concerns individuals only. -- Dagmar
POLISH PRESIDENT VISITS SLO-VAKIA.
Aleksander Kwasniewski on 1 March
held talks with his Slovak counterpart, Michal Kovac, in the High Tatra
mountains, Slovak and international media reported. In contrast to his
statements last month, alleging that Slovakia will gain EU membership after the
other Visegrad countries because of its domestic political situation,
Kwasniewski emphasized that the two countries' strategic goals are "identical"
and said Poland would be glad if all four Visegrad countries could enter the EU
and NATO together. Responding to statements by Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov during his visit to Slovakia the previous day, Kwasniewski
stressed that efforts to join NATO should not be understood as "an unfriendly
act towards Russia;" NATO is "the main pillar of the new security system in
Europe" and not "a bloc against Russia." Kwasniewski rejected Slovakia's
proposal that a permanent CEFTA secretariat be created in Bratislava. -- Sharon
HUNGARY'S LARGEST OPPOSITION PARTY ELECTS NEW PRESIDIUM.
was elected president of the Democratic Forum (MDF) during a heated national
convention on 2 March, Hungarian media reported. He defeated executive
president Ivan Szabo, who won about one-third of the votes. Szabo resigned as
parliamentary caucus leader and nearly 200 of the 600 delegates to the
convention signed a declaration dissociating themselves from the new
leadership. The MDF, the senior coalition party in the former government, has
been divided since the general elections in 1994 and it is unlikely that the
new presidium--or any other--will be able to restore the party's popularity,
which currently stands at 5%. MDF's former president Lajos Fur announced on 14
February that he would not run for reelection. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
HUNGARIAN PREMIER SAYS "NO MORE AUSTERITY MEASURES IN 1996."
said on 2 March that the recent energy price increase was the last government
measure this year which will hit living standards, Hungarian dailies reported
on 4 March. He also said that both the population and the government have lived
through a tough 12 months and that most Hungarians are expected to feel the
benefits of the present austerity measures from 1997 on. This statement is in
contrast with new Finance Minister Peter Medgyessy's pledge to continue with
his predecessor Lajos Bokros's rigorous stabilization program. -- Zsofia
MILOSEVIC REELECTED PARTY LEADER.
Nasa Borba on 4 March reports
on developments during the 2 March third congress of the Socialist Party of
Serbia. Predictably, events demonstrated that Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic remains firmly in control of his party. He was reelected party
president with only 4 of 1,799 delegates failing to confer support.
Furthermore, the party signaled that ultranationalists within its ranks were,
for now, being forsaken. A 185-member central committee, purged of
ultranationalists, was elected. Following his reelection, Milosevic spoke on
the issue of regional peace, saying that the Bosnian and Croatian Serbs owed
Serbia a debt of gratitude for supporting them throughout the period of
conflict. AFP quoted Milosevic as saying: "Everyone who has benefited from this
solidarity should remember it as an example of generosity and as a debt that
future generations may perhaps be called upon to repay." -- Stan Markotich
SERBS BLOCKING FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT NEAR DOBOJ.
Bosnian Serb police and
civilians have been preventing Muslim and even Serbian refugees from visiting
relatives or reclaiming their homes and property in this strategically
important region of northern Bosnia, AFP reported on 4 March. Doboj is the key
to controlling the supply corridor linking Serbia with Banja Luka, but the
Dayton accord strictly specifies that there is to be freedom of movement and
that refugees have the right to go home. Late last month the Serbs increased
the number of checkpoints and began blocking visitors in what seems to be a
series of moves designed to test the limits of IFOR's patience. So far the
peacekeepers have been reluctant to challenge any local forces beyond purely
military matters. They say freedom of movement is the business of the UN's
police force, which has hardly begun to appear on the scene. -- Patrick Moore
BILDT CONCERNED ABOUT KARA-DZIC.
One example of how IFOR has been
reluctant to challenge the Serbs involves Pale's president and indicted war
criminal Radovan Karadzic. He has reportedly gone through IFOR checkpoints or
come close to IFOR troops on numerous occasions, but no one seems to have been
able to identify him or felt they were in a position to arrest him. The
international community's High Representative in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, said on 3
March that he is concerned about Karadzic's increased public profile, but added
that Karadzic may not be in charge in Pale. He did not elaborate, Reuters
reported. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Serb leader appealed to Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic to provide help for Serbian refugees who have fled Sarajevo
at Pale's orders in recent weeks. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIA GOVERNMENT SAYS BELGRADE HOLDING BACK DATA ON 1,700 KILLED.
Croatian government commission on the missing says that Serbia is hiding
information on about 1,700 persons believed killed during the Serbian war
against Croatia in 1991 and in its aftermath the following year. The commission
is dealing with some 2,800 cases of missing civilians and soldiers. A joint
Croatian-Serbian group will soon begin trying to clear up these and other cases
in keeping with an agreement signed during the Dayton conference last year.
Vecernji list carried the report on 4 March. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIANS SEND TROOPS TO IRAN FOR TRAINING.
The Bosnian government has
sent troops to Iran for training in a bid to upgrade its military, AFP quoted
The New York Times as reporting on 4 March. NATO officials think the
Bosnian troops will gain marginal military experience there, while the emphasis
will be on their ideological indoctrination, Nasa Borba quoted the
article as saying. While the presence of Bosnian soldiers in Iran does not
violate the Balkan peace accord, it could provoke tensions between the Bosnian
government and the U.S., and between Muslims and Croats within the Bosnian
Federation. Meanwhile, Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Mura-tovic, during his
visit to Teheran, underlined the importance of Iran's contribution to the
reconstruction of Bosnia, international agencies reported. Iran has suggested
the establishment of a joint Bosnian-Iranian bank to help create more
confidence in joint investments and private sector activities in the two
countries, Reuters reported on 4 March. -- Daria Sito Sucic
U.S. AMBASSADOR IN CROATIA DISPLEASED WITH REPATRIATION PACE.
Galbraith told Vjesnik on 3 March that he is worried about the slow
steps the Croatian administration has been taking in approving requests by
Krajina Serbs to return to Croatia. "It should have been solved in a couple of
minutes, not in seven months," he said. The government's refugees office said
that more than 5,600 of 14,000 applications by Croatian Serbs to return had
been processed, but UNHCR officials noted that only 2,500 had been approved,
AFP reported on 3 March. Meanwhile, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman told
visiting American congressmen that Croatian Serbs who did not commit war
crimes, and are ready to accept Croatia as their homeland, will be allowed to
return, Nasa Borba reported on 4 March. -- Daria Sito Sucic
THOUSANDS PROTEST MILOSEVIC REGIME.
Beta on 2 March reported that while
the SPS congress was in session (see Top Story), some 20,000 individuals
gathered in the Serbian industrial city of Kragujevac to register their protest
of what was dubbed the authoritarianism of Milosevic's government. The rally
was organized by Serbian opposition parties, which reportedly regarded the
Kragujevac rally as "a dress rehearsal" for the planned upcoming fifth
anniversary of the 9 March Belgrade demonstrations. Five years ago, an
estimated 100, 000 people rallied in the capital, demanding Milosevic's
resignation. Their action triggered the largest police deployment ever in the
city, and two persons were killed. -- Stan Markotich
ANOTHER ROMANIAN EXTREME NATIONALIST RUNS FOR PRESIDENT.
Coja was elected on 3 March as the candidate of the Romanian Democratic
Agrarian Party (PDAR) in the presidential elections scheduled for fall 1996.
Coja, who is a PDAR vice-chairman, is also vice-chairman of Vatra Romaneasca
(Romanian Cradle), an anti-Hungarian cultural mass-movement. He is also known
for denying that the Iron Guard, Romania's interwar fascist movement, was
guilty of committing any atrocities against the Jews. Coja joins two other
extreme nationalists in the run for the presidency, Greater Romania Party
chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor and Socialist Labor Party first vice-chairman,
Adrian Paunescu, both of whom are former Ceausescu "court poets." The PDAR
conference held in Bucharest on 2-3 March also reelected Victor Surdu chairman
of the party, Romanian media report. -- Michael Shafir
TIRASPOL MILITARY TRIBUNAL STARTS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST GRACHEV.
military tribunal of the Russian-based forces in the Trans-dniester on 1 March
started proceedings against Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, BASA-press
reported on the same day. The tribunal decided to start the proceedings under
the Russian Penal Code, for "failure to carry out a judicial ruling." Grachev
is accused of failing to implement the court's earlier ruling to reinstate
Colonel Mikhail Bergman as Tiraspol garrison commander. Berg-man, one of the
staunchest supporters of former 14th Army commander General Alexander Lebed,
was dismissed as Tiraspol garrison commander in October 1995. -- Michael
Health Minister Mimi Vitkova confirmed that seven
persons infected with HIV-contaminated blood protein have died, 24 chasa
reported on 4 March. The chief prosecutor on 27 February ordered an
investigation into the case which involves at least 41 persons who were
infected in state-run hospitals. Meanwhile, Bulgarian doctors on 1 March
demonstrated against insufficient funds for the country's health system,
restrictions on private medical practice, and low pay, Reuters reported. They
demanded Vitkova's resignation. The protest in Sofia was organized by medical
trade unions and supported by the opposition. -- Stefan Krause
GREEK DIPLOMATIC UPDATE.
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana on 2 March
concluded a two-day visit to Athens, AFP reported. He said he will "continue to
work constructively" to resolve the differences between Greece and Turkey, but
gave no details of his talks with Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis and other
leading politicians. The same day, Greece vetoed a 750 million ECU ($940
million) loan to Turkey by the European Investment Bank. On 1 March, a Greek
and a Turkish military vessel collided near the disputed islet of Imia/Kardak.
Both sides claimed that the incident took place in their territorial waters.
Also on 1 March, the Greek government asked that the Italian and Dutch military
attaches be recalled after they were arrested in January on the island of
Lesbos with notes possibly relating to military installations there. Italy and
the Netherlands recalled the diplomats but denied the charges. -- Stefan
TURKISH CONSERVATIVES FORM COALITION.
The True Path Party (DYP) and the
Motherland Party (ANAP) on 3 March agreed to form a minority government,
Western agencies reported. The cabinet will be headed by ANAP Chairman Mesut
Yilmaz until the end of 1996, and by DYP leader and outgoing Prime Minister
Tansu Ciller for the following two years. Then Yilmaz takes over for one more
year, followed by an as-yet unnamed DYP politician. DYP and ANAP together hold
261 of the 550 seats in parliament, but the Democratic Left Party of former
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said it will support the government in a vote of
confidence. The coalition agreement names as main targets the reduction of
inflation and unemployment. President Suleyman Demirel denied that the military
interfered to keep the Islamist Welfare Party out of the government. -- Stefan
MORE ARRESTS AFTER TIRANA BOMBING...
Police on 1 March arrested two
young men who allegedly resemble the man who parked the car carrying the bomb
which went off in central Tirana on 26 February, international agencies
reported. Meanwhile, Albanian Police General Director Agim Shehu denied reports
that the bomb attack might be linked to the Italian Mafia. Shehu claimed the
attack "has been carried out by left-wing extremists and the former (communist)
Albanian secret police," Reuters reported. He declined, however, to disclose
what evidence investigators had found. -- Fabian Schmidt
...WHILE MEDIA REMAINS UNDER PRESSURE.
An Albanian court on 2 March
ordered for the second time the continued detention of Populli Po
journalist Ylli Polovina, who was arrested and accused of inciting political
violence in an article that predicted political terrorism in Albania.
Polovina's relatives and journalists were not allowed to attend the court
hearing. Meanwhile, Reuters and Voice of America journalists have been
interrogated by police following their reporting. Vefa Holding, whose
supermarket burned down in the blast, has denied Reuters reports saying the
firm was involved in arms sales. -- Fabian Schmid
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle