ZYUGANOV DENOUNCES MEDIA "BLOCKADE."
Communist leader Zyuganov charged
that the national media, particularly television, is conducting an "information
blockade" of his campaign, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. He said that he felt
greater support from the local media, which are "more independent in their
conduct." Ekho Moskvy commentator Andrei Cherkizov rejected the accusations,
saying "space costs money, there is more interesting material to publish, and
there is a Communist press to build up Zyuganov's image." -- Robert Orttung
RUTSKOI ABANDONS PRESIDENTIAL BID.
Bowing to the inevitable, former Vice
President Aleksandr Rutskoi announced that he would not run for president and
threw his support behind Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Radio Rossii
reported on 9 April. Rutskoi's Derzhava won 1.8 million votes (2.6%) in the
December parliamentary elections. During that campaign, Rutskoi was critical of
Zyuganov and the Communists for not carrying out any of their promises. --
MILITARY DENOUNCES REPORTS OF DIVISION IN THE RANKS.
The Collegium of
the Defense Ministry denounced recent reports in the media claiming there are
political divisions among Russia's highest military commanders, in a statement
published in Rossiiskaya gazeta 10 April (see OMRI Daily Digest,
4 April 1996). The collegium announced that the data used in such studies are
"falsified" and their purpose is to "disorient society and servicemen on the
eve of the presidential elections and create the appearance that there is a
hidden opposition among the military leadership." The statement claimed that
the Defense Ministry unanimously supports the "current course of reform and the
preservation of stability," themes that are emphasized in President Boris
Yeltsin's campaign. -- Robert Orttung
MILITARY PARADE TO BE HELD ON RED SQUARE ON VICTORY DAY.
On 9 May, a
parade by troops from the Moscow garrison will be held on Red Square to mark
the 51st anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II,
Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 9 April. Officially there have been no
military parades on Red Square since 1990, although last year a parade of war
veterans was held that included battalions of parachutists, commandos, and
marines. Yeltsin's decision to order a military parade this year is intended to
boost his standing among veterans and the military ahead of the June
presidential election. -- Penny Morvant
ST. PETERSBURG GUBERNATORIAL RACE TURNS UGLY.
St. Petersburg Deputy
Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev has accused Mayor Anatolii Sobchak of trying to tell
journalists how to cover the mayoral election campaign, NTV reported on 9
April. In turn, Sobchak has denounced the decision of his subordinate to run
and called on him to resign. The two now communicate mainly between their
assistants. Sobchak is running at 22% in the polls, 12% support other
candidates, and 66% remain undecided ahead of the 19 May poll. -- Robert
RUSSIA TO ACCUSE U.S. OF NUCLEAR SAFETY VIOLATIONS.
government is preparing a position paper on alleged violations of nuclear
safety standards in the U.S., which will be presented at the 19-21 April G-7
summit meeting in Moscow, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 9 April. The
government report, citing U.S. Department of Energy statistics, claims that
2,108 safety violations took place at U.S. nuclear facilities during 1989-90
alone. The report was prepared as a "retaliatory blow" against anticipated
Western criticism of Russian handling of fissionable materials at the summit.
While admitting that "some grounds" exist for criticizing Russia's handling of
its nuclear materials, the paper cited Russian experts who argue that the West
has deliberately exaggerated the threat of nuclear smuggling from Russia in
order to exclude it from the world nuclear fuel market. -- Scott Parrish
POLAND AND RUSSIA DISAGREE ABOUT NATO.
Emerging from a 9 April meeting
with his visiting Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski, President Yeltsin
announced that the two had "agreed on all issues, except one," referring to the
possible expansion of NATO, ITAR-TASS reported. While Yeltsin said there is
still time "to find some alternative means" of resolving the NATO expansion
controversy, he added that he had "little hope" such an alternative would be
found. Kwasniewski, trying to downplay the divide, said that while Poland wants
to join the alliance, it "does not want to become a front-line state in the new
Europe." Comparing Kwasniewski's visit to the frosty tenor of bilateral
relations over the past few years under President Lech Walesa, however, NTV
termed it a "breakthrough." -- Scott Parrish
SWISS EXPEL RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT.
Officials at the Swiss Justice and Police
Department announced that an unnamed first secretary at the Russian embassy in
Bern will be expelled from Switzerland for espionage, AFP reported on 9 April.
The officials said the Russian diplomat was caught red-handed while trying to
obtain unspecified information. In December, Switzerland expelled another
Russian diplomat on similar charges (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 January
1996). -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA "CONCERNED" OVER NORTH KOREAN ACTIONS.
Foreign Ministry spokesman
Mikhail Demurin expressed "concern" about recent tensions in the Demilitarized
Zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea, ITAR-TASS reported on 9
April. Tension has increased in the zone since Pyongyang announced last week
that it will no longer observe the terms of the 1953 armistice agreement ending
the Korean War, which it termed "obsolete." North Korean troops have
subsequently violated the DMZ on numerous occasions. Demurin criticized North
Korea for undermining the security regime on the peninsula, called on Pyongyang
to continue observing the armistice, and repeated a Russian proposal for an
international conference on the issue. Meanwhile, two Russian delegations
departed on previously scheduled visits to Pyongyang. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSO-ITALIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.
Russian First Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov and Italian Foreign Minister Suzanna Angelli
signed a bilateral investment protection agreement and a tax accord at the
initial meeting of the Russo-Italian economic cooperation committee in Rome,
ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. The commission was formed under the terms of the
October 1994 Russo-Italian Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. RFE/RL
reported that the investment accord would simplify regulations for Italian
companies investing in Russia, while the tax agreement will lower taxes on
Italian firms operating there. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSO-POLISH COOPERATION IN ENERGY PROJECTS.
Deputy Minister of Fuel and
Energy Yurii Korsun told ITAR TASS on 9 April that Russia is keen to move
forward with the plan to build a pipeline across Poland to carry natural gas
from the Yamal peninsula in northern Siberia to Germany. Russia also wants to
build a gas pipeline to Kaliningrad to fuel a new power plant there, easing the
province's acute energy problems. There is already agreement to build a high
current electricity transmission line from Russia to Germany across Poland. --
NAVY TELLS SHIPYARD TO SELL SUBMARINES ABROAD.
The Russian Navy has told
the Krasnoe Sormovo shipyard in Nizhnii Novgorod to sell abroad three
diesel-powered, Kilo-class submarines originally ordered for the navy,
ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. Two of the boats have already been sold to
China. The director of the shipyard, Nikolai Zharkov, said the company is
negotiating with another unnamed country (identified only as in Africa or
Southeast Asia) for the sale of the third boat. Zharkov said that the Chinese
had been pleased with the two submarines they bought but lacked the money to
buy the third. The company is in serious financial difficulty and recently cut
its workforce from 29,000 to 11,000. -- Doug Clarke
BELLONA ACTIVIST REFUSED BAIL.
A St. Petersburg court has rejected a
bail application by Aleksandr Nikitin, a retired navy captain and employee of
the Norwegian-based environmental group Bellona, AFP reported on 9 April.
Nikitin, who worked on a report on radioactive contamination of Murmansk
Oblast, was accused of espionage and arrested by the Federal Security Service
(FSB) in February. Nikitin's supporters, who include Russian Environmental
Policy Center head Aleksei Yablokov, argue that the report does not contain
secret information and that the 1993 Law on State Secrets stipulates that
information "on the condition of the environment" is not subject to
classification, Trud reported on 23 March. -- Penny Morvant
ARMY LOW ON FOOD.
Lack of funding has forced the Russian army to use
emergency food reserves to feed its troops, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April.
According to Defense Ministry official Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Savinov, spending on
food for the military was cut from 3.5 trillion to 1.7 trillion rubles last
year ($350 million at current prices) and funds were disbursed only
sporadically, leaving the army in debt to suppliers. This year, Savinov
continued, the budget allocation will cover only about 75% of the military's
food requirements. He stressed, however, that the army does have sufficient
reserves to prevent its troops from starving. Recent media reports have listed
several cases of malnutrition among soldiers, including one death. -- Penny
POOR FIRE SAFETY RECORD.
Fires caused 15,000 deaths and injured another
13,500 people in Russia last year, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. The Interior
Ministry's fire service recorded 290,000 fires, which caused about 30 trillion
rubles ($6.2 billion) of damage. The number of fatalities caused by fires rose
from 6,888 in 1990 to 15,700 in 1994. A large number of the blazes are the
result of accidents by drunks. -- Penny Morvant
DOCKERS HOLD WARNING STRIKE.
Dock workers at a number of Russian ports
held a one-hour warning strike on 9 April to draw attention to the plight of
Russia's northern ports, Radio Rossii and Ekho Moskvy reported. Union
representative Anatolii Shalamanov said loads have declined sharply recently,
with cargo increasingly being handled by ports in Ukraine and the Baltic
states. High taxes and rail tariffs and outdated equipment have made Russian
ports uncompetitive, and a number are on the verge of bankruptcy. The Russian
Union of Dockers estimates that Russia's ports are being used to only 60% of
capacity. -- Penny Morvant
STATE WILL BUY BACK OIL FIRM SHARES. . .
At a meeting of the
government's Commission for Operational Problems on 9 April, Deputy Prime
Minister and head of the State Privatization Committee Aleksandr Kazakov said
that the government will buy back the oil firm shares that were sold in loan
auctions in November and December, ITAR TASS reported. He said "the state must
retain its influence over oil firms," and complained that the auctions had not
led to any significant improvement in the financial situation of the firms. The
problem, Kazakov noted, will be where to find the money to buy back the shares.
-- Peter Rutland
. . .AND BOOST INVESTMENT.
Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik told
the same government meeting that there will be a major overhaul of the taxes
and tariffs levied on oil firms in the next two months. This is presumably to
compensate for the lifting of oil export duties scheduled for 1 July. Shafranik
wants to cut the taxes they pay as a share of sales from the current 70% to
45%. He said that to maintain the current level of production of about 300
million metric tons a year 212 trillion rubles ($44 billion) of investment will
be needed by 2000, and only half that sum appears to be available. -- Peter
LATENT RENATIONALIZATION ON ITS WAY.
A process of latent
renationalization has started in Russia, according to Boris Kagarlitsky,
writing in the 5-11 April issue of Vek. Since the roots of the process
are in the financial relations between companies and local governments, it is
unlikely to be affected by the results of the presidential election in June.
Kagarlitsky argues that enterprises are now borrowing money from local
authorities, using company assets as collateral. If these debts cannot be
repaid, as is likely, then gradually many of these firms may return to state
ownership. -- Natalia Gurushina
PROMSTROIBANK OPENS U.S. OFFICE.
Promstroibank became the first Russian
bank to open a U.S. office since the breakup of the Soviet Union, AFP reported
on 9 April. Permission to open the unit came from the Federal Reserve System,
which supervises foreign banks. The office will provide the bank's clients in
Russia with information about international financial markets but will not be
allowed to give credits or receive deposits. The unit will be opened in July
1996 in New York, becoming the bank's fourth office abroad (the bank also has
offices in London, Frankfurt, and Geneva). -- Natalia Gurushina
TAX RECEIPTS STILL SLUGGISH.
Tax receipts in the first quarter were just
81% of the planned level, with arrears cumulating to 41 trillion rubles by 1
March, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 9 April. The new head of the
State Tax Service, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Artyukhov, noted with concern
that there appears to be no relationship between the economic performance of a
given region and its level of tax payments. He complained that firms are
evading taxes by resorting to barter. -- Peter Rutland
AKAYEV DISMISSES NEWSPAPER EDITORS.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has
dismissed the editors of two leading newspapers and the head of the State
Television and Radio Committee, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April, citing a source
from the Glasnost Foundation. Akayev's press secretary was quoted by the
Glasnost Foundation as saying that the decision to remove the editors of
Slovo Kyrgyzstana andSvobodnye gory is consistent with the
state's policy of rotating "cadres of the state-owned mass media." The new head
of the State Television and Radio Committee is Amanbek Karypkulov, formerly the
ideology secretary of the Kyrgyz Communist Party prior to 1991. The editorial
staff of both papers have sent a letter of protest to Akayev, and are
threatening to go on strike. They claim that the current ownership structure of
the paper--jointly owned by its own employees and the government--is not
permitted under Kyrgyz law. The Kyrgyz-American Bureau on human rights has
termed the move a violation of journalists' rights -- Bhavna Dave
MAJOR DRUG STORAGE BASE DISCOVERED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
officials and members of the State Investigation Committee raided a major
narcotics shipment base in Almaty, arresting several members of a Kazakh-Tajik
drug smuggling ring and seizing large quantities of raw opium and marijuana,
ITAR-TASS reported on 8 April. The base was part of a route that runs from
Pakistan and Afghanistan, through Central Asia, and on to Russia and other CIS
states. A State Investigation Committee official told ITAR-TASS that last
month's arrest at Almaty Airport of a number of Tajik citizens, who had more
than 12 kg of raw opium and 5 kg of hashish valued at more than $1 million, led
to the arrests at the Almaty base. Drug smuggling rings are increasingly using
Kazakhstan as a transit country due to its good air links with other CIS
countries and Eastern Europe. -- Bhavna Dave
CAUCASIAN LOBBY IN ANKARA.
A "7 million-strong" Caucasian diaspora in
Turkey is "heavily influencing" Turkey's foreign policy, Cumhuriyet
reported on 9 April. The paper identified the highjacking of the Avrasya
Ferryboat in January as the event which brought attention to the alleged
strength of this lobby. The article reported that Turkey is making use of the
Caucasian lobby to achieve objectives--such as spreading Turkish culture--that
it cannot officially realize. The article exaggerates the strength of the lobby
and the size of the Caucasian diaspora but rightly points to a little noted
revival of "emigre" Caucasian (especially North Caucasian) activism and its
exploitation for foreign policy purposes. -- Lowell Bezanis
IMF, UKRAINE NEGOTIATE NEW CREDIT.
The IMF and Ukraine are negotiating a
new stand-by credit worth $900 million, AFP reported on 9 April. The loan is
intended to replace a $1.6 billion credit that expired on 6 April. Ukraine made
use of only $700 million of that loan. Since it is now too late to extend and
increase that credit, agreement is to be reached on a new loan. -- Ustina
BELARUSIAN, UKRAINIAN LEADERS ATTEND CHORNOBYL CONFERENCE.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk
arrived in Vienna on 9 April to participate in a four-day conference on
Chornobyl, international agencies reported. Marchuk told delegates that Ukraine
intends to close down Chornobyl by 2000 but can do so only if it receives
financial support. He said that support has not materialized to date.
Lukashenka stressed that Belarus must use 20-25% of its annual budget to deal
with the consequences of the Chornobyl accident. He appealed to foreign
countries to contribute $125 billion to help in that effort. More than 700
participants are attending the conference. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIAN PREMIER DENIES OWING RUSSIA RUBLES.
Tiit Vahi has denied there
is any need for Estonia to repay Russian rubles it withdrew from circulation
when the country switched to its own currency, BNS reported on 9 April. Vahi
was responding to Russian demands for compensation for the missing rubles. He
proposed instead that Russia compensate Estonia for money frozen in accounts in
the Russian Vnesheconombank and for damage caused by Russian troops in Estonia.
The Estonian Foreign Ministry has not yet given an official reply to the
demands. -- Ustina Markus
LITHUANIAN POLITICAL UPDATE.
Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas
has appointed Antanas Zenonas as Economy Minister, BNS reported on 6 April. He
has also scheduled parliamentary elections for 20 October. The last such
elections were held in October 1992. -- Ustina Markus
FORMER FIRST SECRETARY ON MARTIAL LAW IN POLAND.
Stanislaw Kania, first
secretary of the Polish United Workers Party from 1980-1981, on 9 April gave
testimony at the trial of former Internal Affairs Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak,
Polish dailies reported. Kiszczak, who held office from 1981-1990, is accused
of authorizing police units to shoot at miners from Wujek and Manifest Lipcowy
collieries in December 1991, when martial law was declared in Poland. Kania
said he had been against martial law, although preparations for its
proclamation began during his term in office under heavy Soviet pressure. Kania
was replaced as first secretary in October 1981 by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. --
SLOVAK CABINET TO TAKE PRESIDENT TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
government on 9 April decided to turn to the Constitutional Court over
President Michal Kovac's refusal to appoint Labor and Social Affairs Minister
Olga Keltosova as ambassador to the UN, Narodna obroda reported. The
cabinet argued that although the president has the constitutional right to
approve or reject ambassadorial candidates, the constitution does not allow him
to make an appointment conditional on certain demands being met. Kovac said he
would approve Keltosova's appointment if she distanced herself from a cabinet
statement issued in September calling for his resignation. She has refused to
comply. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC.
on 4 April rejected the law on the protection of the republic, asking the
parliament to eliminate those provisions that "violate freedom of expression,
information, and assembly," Slovak media reported on 10 April. The parliament
can override Kovac by voting again for the law, but opposition parties have
promised to take it to the Constitutional Court. Cardinal Jan Chryzostom Korec
published a statement in Praca on 9 April stressing that, "To damage the
nation, the state, and Slovakia is immoral; however, to restrict citizens'
freedom of expression can be even more immoral." -- Sharon Fisher
IFOR WARNS BOSNIAN FACTIONS ABOUT WEAPONS VIOLATIONS.
Cumming on 9 April said that IFOR has sent a letter to all three sides in
Bosnia warning them that they are not complying with rules on heavy weapons,
Onasa news agency reported. At issue is the storage of air defense weapons.
Cumming said that "nobody is going to start flying back into Bosnia if there
are a number of air defense systems loose in the country." Meanwhile in Pale,
the Bosnian Serbs freed three out of the 19 or 20 prisoners they are keeping.
The government side also continues to hold a number of Serbs, some of whom they
have officially declared and some not. Meanwhile, war crimes tribunal
authorities in The Hague took custody of Zdravko Mucic, who was delivered to
Schiphol airport by Austrian police. Mucic, a Croat, is charged with war crimes
against Bosnian Serbs while he was the commander of the Celebici prison camp in
central Bosnia, Nasa Borba reported on 10 April. -- Patrick Moore
ISLAMIC FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN SARAJEVO.
The foreign ministers of
Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Malaysia, Pakistan, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey
held a closed session in the Bosnian capital on 9 April to discuss offering
mainly economic rather than military assistance. The eight countries constitute
the Islamic Contact Group for Bosnia. The Malaysian defense minister was also
in Sarajevo, where he met with his Bosnian counterpart to review the security
situation. Meanwhile in Manama, UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey told
businessmen, officials, and bankers from six Gulf Arab states that Bosnia needs
private investment to repair war damage totaling $80-$100 billion, Onasa
reported. Sacirbey stressed that investment, not aid, is the key to Bosnia's
future. -- Patrick Moore
BRITAIN TO RECOGNIZE RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
A representative of the Foreign
Office on 9 April said Britain will recognize the rump Yugoslavia as the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He added that bilateral relations are to be
upgraded to the ambassadorial level. Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying
that "this is a welcome development which reflects the changed circumstances in
the region following signature of the Bosnia Peace Agreement." -- Stan
President Franjo Tudjman told visiting Canadian Foreign
Minister Lloyd Axworthy that Croatia favors normalization of relations in the
region but is opposed to any kind of integration or new Yugoslavia, Nasa
Borba reported on 10 April. The Croatian PEN club has protested the new
press law as a curb on freedom of expression, Politika noted. The PEN
club, which is regarded as a highly prestigious institution among residents of
the former Yugoslavia, also "disassociated itself" from its member Vladimir
Seks, who is vice president of parliament, for his role in promoting the
legislation. The parliament's president, Vlatko Pavletic, warned that the
proposed law on cooperation with the tribunal in The Hague must be passed if
Croatia wants to ensure its admission to the Council of Europe, Slobodna
Dalmacija wrote. Finally, Czech President Vaclav Havel told Globus
that democracy and the civil society need to be strengthened in Croatia. --
MONTENEGRIN OPPOSITION PARTY ON RECOGNITION OF MACEDONIA.
Liberal Party of Montenegro has said that Belgrade's recognition of Macedonia
is likely to pave the way for improved relations between Belgrade and other
states of the former Yugoslavia. But it added that the recognition of Macedonia
was "overdue" and prompted by the "urging of the international community." Nada
Bukilich, a Liberal Party representative, was quoted by Montena-fax on 9 April
as saying that recognition is likely to smooth over outstanding differences
over the question of succession. -- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER FALLS OUT OF FAVOR?
Lojze Peterle, head of
the Slovenian Christian Democratic Party, which supports the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party, has said his party has no choice but to urge that Zoran
Thaler be removed from the post of foreign minister. Peterle maintains that
Thaler, a Liberal Democrat, has failed to mend fences with neighboring Italy,
which, he said, is a necessary step for Slovenia's entry into the EU. According
to the Serbian news agency Beta, Peterle has argued that Thaler's failure to
improve relations with Rome has contributed to Slovenia's tarnished image
within the international community. -- Stan Markotich
U.S. CONGRESSMAN TIES SUPPORT FOR ROMANIA TO EXCLUSION OF EXTREMISTS FROM
Tom Lantos, in Bucharest on 9 April, said he is ready to help
Romania obtain most-favored-nation status and join NATO--on condition that "no
extremist party" is included in Romania's government after the fall elections,
Reuters and Romanian media reported. Lantos was speaking after meetings with
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, President Ion Iliescu, and Defense Minister
Gheorghe Tinca. Radio Bucharest cited Lantos as saying he is ready to offer
help to Budapest and Bucharest to reach an agreement on the basic treaty, but
he added that he is sure this will not be necessary since the two sides will
reach an agreement by themselves. He also said Romania has to improve its
record of treating national minorities and singled out the issue of the
Hungarian-language university in Cluj. -- Michael Shafir
...WHILE FUNAR CALLS HIM "ENVOY OF HUNGARIAN IRREDENTISM."
Funar, chairman of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), said in a
declaration broadcast by Radio Bucharest that Lantos's visit was aimed at
pressuring Romania into signing the basic agreement with Hungary under
conditions advantageous to Budapest. He called Lantos, who is of Hungarian
origin, "an envoy of Hungarian irredentism." The PUNR is still a member of the
ruling coalition, although the main coalition partner, the Party of Social
Democracy in Romania, has said it intends to end its alliance with Funar's
group. -- Michael Shafir
ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER FORESEES "ARMS RACE IN REGION."
were granted NATO membership before Romania, there could be an arms race in the
region, Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca said in an interview with the
Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap on 9 April. Tinca also suggested that
instead of competing for NATO membership, the two countries should accelerate
talks on the pending basic treaty, improve bilateral relations, and promote the
so-called historic reconciliation. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs
responded that Hungary is neither in a race to improve its military arsenal nor
competing for NATO membership with any country. He added that Hungary would
like to see its neighbors join NATO as soon as possible because that would
improve bilateral relations and the situation of ethnic Hungarian minorities.
-- Zsofia Szilagyi
ROMANIAN PREMIER OPPOSES DEBATE ON RESTITUTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY.
Nicolae Vacaroiu is opposed to a parliamentary debate on a draft law
allowing the restitution of Jewish property confiscated between 1938 and 1989,
Evenimentul zilei and Cotidianul reported on 10 April. The bill
was proposed by Adrian Severin of the Democratic Party-National Salvation
Front. Vacaroiu says anti-Semitic legislation of the 1930s and early 1940s has
been corrected by laws passed in the late 1940s by the communists. Any new
laws, he argued, should deal with all confiscated property, not just that
belonging to Jews. He also noted that the bill would place impossible burdens
on the state budget. -- Michael Shafir
GUARDS BAR MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER FROM ENTERING OFFICE.
Gen. Pavel Creanga from entering his office on 9 April, Reuters reported.
Creanga told the agency that the army's actions were in defiance of a recent
Constitutional Court ruling, adding that the army is still under the direct
command of President Mircea Snegur. Infotag reported that Snegur has asked the
parliament to appoint Chief of Staff Col. Pavel Chirau as Creanga's
replacement. Parliamentary sources told the agency that the legislature is
unlikely to consider the request without first hearing the opinion of Premier
Andrei Sangheli, who has refused to approve Creanga's dismissal. -- Michael
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION SIGNS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AGREEMENT.
major opposition forces on 9 April agreed to support a joint candidate in the
upcoming presidential elections, Standart reported. The agreement
provides for primary elections on 1 June in which members of the opposition
will choose between incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev and Union of Democratic
Forces (SDS) Deputy Chairman Petar Stoyanov. Zhelev is supported by the
People's Union and several smaller parties. The mainly ethnic Turkish Movement
for Rights and Freedom is part of the united opposition but is to take a
neutral stand in the primaries. Zhelev and Stoyanov signed the agreement in the
presence of all opposition leaders. Zhelev had announced earlier that he will
withdraw his candidacy for a second term if he loses to Stoyanov in the
primaries. -- Stefan Krause
FORMER BULGARIAN TSAR TO VISIT SOFIA IN MAY.
Simeon II has announced he
will visit Bulgaria for two weeks beginning 25 May, Bulgarian dailies reported
on 10 April, citing an interview with Le Figaro. Simeon said he will
travel "on a one-way ticket" but will return to Madrid if he "cannot do
anything useful." He said he wants to hold talks in Sofia to find out "what the
reality is there." Simeon left Bulgaria after a communist referendum abolished
the monarchy in 1946, but he has retained his Bulgarian citizenship. Prime
Minister Zhan Videnov on 6 April said that the government sees Simeon as an
unwelcome guest but added that he can nonetheless visit the country, RFE/RL
reported. The government has repeatedly called on Simeon to renounce any idea
of reclaiming the throne or restoring the monarchy. -- Stefan Krause
COUNCIL OF EUROPE CHAIRWOMAN IN ALBANIA.
Lenny Fischer, chairwoman of
the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, visited Albania on 9
April, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. Albanian President Sali Berisha told
Fischer that Albania is committed to respecting all its obligations as a
council member. Recently, the rapporteur of the council's Legal Affairs
Committee criticized the Albanian government for not keeping promises it had
given when admitted to the council last summer, including guaranteeing the
independence of the judiciary, Koha Jone reported. Albania has also not
yet abolished capital punishment; and in several cases, judges have handed down
the death sentence. Another disputed issue is the continued imprisonment of
Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, whose conviction for misappropriation of
funds has not yet been reviewed. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave