NUCLEAR SAFETY SUMMIT ROUNDUP.
President Boris Yeltsin co-chaired a
meeting of the G-7 plus Russia on the topic of nuclear security on 20 April,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The meeting issued joint communiques
calling for the signing of a comprehensive nuclear test ban by September and
pledging to implement more stringent nuclear safety standards. Russia's support
for a total ban on all nuclear tests was its first official endorsement of this
position, already supported by Britain, France, and the U.S. but still regarded
skeptically by China. Although Russian media emphasized that the meeting showed
that the West is increasingly taking Russian interests into account, some
disagreements emerged. Yeltsin's proposal that nuclear powers base their
weapons only on their own soil did not meet with approval, nor did another
Russian proposal for a nuclear-free zone in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE. --
CLINTON, YELTSIN: ATMOSPHERICS OVER SUBSTANCE.
Following the G-7
meeting, Yeltsin held five hours of talks with his U.S. counterpart, Bill
Clinton, on 21 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. With their eyes on
their respective re-election campaigns, both presidents tried hard to portray
their 10th meeting as a success, despite its meager substantive results. They
announced "progress" toward resolving long-running disputes involving the 1990
CFE treaty and the 1972 ABM treaty but refused to give details. Similar vague
statements about resolving the CFE flank limits dispute at the presidents'
previous meeting in Hyde Park last October failed to deliver concrete results,
however. Despite the friendly atmosphere of the meeting, other disagreements
involving NATO expansion, Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran, the Middle
East peace process, and the Chechen conflict remained unresolved. -- Scott
YELTSIN WINS FRENCH SUPPORT ON OSCE.
The presidents of Russia and France
on 19 April issued a joint declaration saying that the OSCE should serve as the
basis for the new European security architecture, UPI reported. Russia has long
pushed the OSCE as an alternative to NATO in this role, believing that it would
have a stronger voice in the former organization. France has often puzzled its
NATO partners, and this statement by President Jacques Chirac comes at a time
when French military cooperation with NATO is closer than it has been since the
French withdrew from the alliance's integrated military structure 30 years ago.
French presidential spokeswoman Katerin Kolonna was quoted as saying that
France continues to support NATO expansion into Eastern Europe "gradually and
within the interest of our partners." -- Doug Clarke
YELTSIN MEETS JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER.
Before the G-7 meeting, Yeltsin
met with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 19 April. Yeltsin pledged that Russia will no longer dump
liquid radioactive waste in waters near Japan, and promised that Russia will
soon sign a protocol to the 1993 London Convention banning nuclear waste
dumping at sea. The two leaders agreed that Japanese Defense Agency
Director-General Hideo Usui will visit Moscow on 27-29 April. Usui will be the
first Japanese defense chief to visit Russia since the end of World War II.
Hashimoto also announced that he and Yeltsin had decided to revive talks on the
disputed southern Kuril islands--which would not begin until after the June
presidential election in Russia. -- Scott Parrish
CLINTON HEARS DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW.
President Clinton met with a
diverse group of politicians on 21 April and emphasized that the U.S. will
respect whatever choice Russians make in the upcoming presidential elections,
Russian and Western media reported. Yeltsin's election rivals Gennadii
Zyuganov, Grigorii Yavlinskii, and Aleksandr Lebed were present, but Vladimir
Zhirinovsky and Mikhail Gorbachev were not invited to the meeting. Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov, Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov, and Sverdlovsk Oblast
Governor Eduard Rossel, all influential regional leaders who are backing
Yeltsin's re-election, were also present. Zyuganov, accompanied by Duma Speaker
Gennadii Seleznev and Deputy Speaker Svetlana Goryacheva, both members of his
Communist Party, assured Clinton that he supported political pluralism and a
mixed economy. However, Yavlinskii, former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais, and others warned Clinton not to trust Zyuganov's promises. -- Laura
TsIK REGISTERS MORE CANDIDATES.
The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK)
registered Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, eye surgeon and Duma member
Svyatoslav Fedorov, and Duma member Aleksandr Lebed as presidential candidates
on 19 March. Yavlinskii announced that negotiations on forming a coalition were
going well with Fedorov and Lebed, Radio Rossii reported, while Fedorov said
that they would choose a single candidate based on the ratings of the three,
according to Russian Public TV (ORT). Lebed said "a tentative result may appear
only in May," Segodnya reported on 19 April. The TsIK rejected the
signatures of entrepreneur Artem Tarasov, NTV reported. However, the Supreme
Court ordered the TsIK to register Martin Shakkum, whom it had earlier refused
to register, by 23 April. The procurator general froze a court decision to
register Vladimir Bryntsalov after the TsIK rejected his petition. -- Robert
GRACHEV ANNOUNCES READINESS TO RESIGN.
Answering questions put to him by
Duma members, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said on 19 April that he is ready
to resign if the deputies believed that he was personally responsible for the
disorder in the military and the heavy losses the federal troops suffered in
Chechnya on 16 April, Radio Mayak reported. Grachev reported that 53 people
were killed, while NTV said it was 93; the Grozny garrison said that 76 were
killed, ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev also said that he did not implement
Yeltsin's 31 March ceasefire order until 6 April because it would have
endangered his troops. -- Robert Orttung
RUSSIA SUSPENDS TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA.
The withdrawal of
Russian forces to the Chechen border has been suspended in reaction to the
deaths of an estimated 76 Russian troops in an ambush near the Chechen village
of Yarysh-Mardy on 16 April, Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev told Russian
Public TV (ORT) on 19 April. Also on 19 April, President Yeltsin accepted
Moroccan King Hassan II's offer to mediate in the Chechen conflict, NTV
reported. Speaking at a 20 April meeting of representatives from all Chechen
political parties in Grozny, Zavgaev called for a consolidation of Chechen
society to achieve peace, ORT reported. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's
chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, was invited to the meeting but failed to
attend. On 21 April, NTV quoted Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev as saying
that he would begin mediating between the Russian leadership and Dudaev only
after large-scale military operations in Chechnya have ceased. -- Liz Fuller
RUSSIA HALTS DIVISION OF BLACK SEA FLEET.
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
has suspended the process of dividing up the Black Sea Fleet and related
infrastructure with Ukraine, AFP reported on 19 April. Grachev said it is
"useless" to continue dividing the fleet while "the main political questions,"
such as the status and basing of the Russian part of the fleet, remain
unsettled. Ongoing talks have failed to resolve differences between the two
countries over the terms under which the Russian fleet will use the Ukrainian
port of Sevastopol, and Grachev is probably trying to pressure Kyiv into
accepting Moscow's terms. -- Scott Parrish
PRIMAKOV GETS COLD SHOULDER IN ISRAEL.
As part of a multilateral
diplomatic effort to broker a ceasefire in southern Lebanon, Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov made a whirlwind trip to Syria, Lebanon, and Israel
on 20-21 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. In Damascus on 20 April,
Primakov met with Syrian President Hafez Assad, and also held talks with
visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. He also participated in a
meeting of the Russian, French, and Italian foreign ministers and the U.S.
secretary of state later that day. In Beirut on 21 April, Primakov reiterated
that Russia views the recent Israeli military actions against Hezbollah
geurillas in Lebanon as "unacceptable"--a stand that earned him a cold
reception in Tel Aviv, where Prime Minister Shimon Peres said he prefers U.S.
mediation in the conflict. -- Scott Parrish
PRIVATIZATION IN JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1996.
The press service of the State
Property Committee announced that 864 companies were privatized in Russia in
January-February 1996, a sharp decrease from the 2,000 firms privatized in the
first two months of 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 April. The budgetary revenue
from privatization was 270 billion rubles ($56.5 million). Such a slow start
casts doubts on the 1996 privatization revenue target of 12.4 trillion rubles
($2.5 billion). State Property Committee Deputy Chairman Alfred Kokh said a
lack of investor interest in companies' shares on the eve of the presidential
election and political considerations against the privatization of some large
companies make the figure look unrealistic. He suggested that the privatization
target be lowered to 8.6 trillion rubles. -- Natalia Gurushina
IMF PRESSES RUSSIA ON ECONOMIC POLICY.
The IMF mission, visiting Moscow
as part of the fund's program to monitor the Russian economy, has succeeded in
convincing the Russian government to stick to the conditions of its three-year
$10.2 billion loan agreement, Reuters reported on 21 April. The fund warned
last week that if the Russian government steps up trade protectionism, a $340
million tranche scheduled for disbursement at the end of April may be put at
risk. The IMF was also concerned with Russia's failure to halve taxes on oil
exports from 1 April, and with President Yeltsin's pre-election promise to
increase government social spending and strengthen support for the defense and
agricultural sectors. Russia's faithfulness to the IMF loan conditions may also
affect negotiations with the Paris Club over the rescheduling of Russia's $38
billion public debt. -- Natalia Gurushina
MORE ARRESTS IN AZERBAIJAN.
Police in Baku on 18 April arrested Giyas
Sadykhov, the head of former President Abulfaz Elchibey's administration, and
Arif Hadjiev, the secretary of the Musavat Party, Turan reported. During the
late evening of 19 April, 20 police officers occupied Elchibey's present
headquarters in the Nakhichevan village of Keleki; Elchibey whereabouts are not
clear. Addressing a 19 April press conference of representatives of human
rights organizations in Moscow, the chairman of the Social-Democratic Party of
Azerbaijan, Araz Ali-Zade, claimed that 2,500 people are currently serving
prison terms in Azerbaijan for their political convictions, Kuranty
reported on 20 April. Also on 20 April, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
signed a decree commuting five death sentences, including one passed on a
Russian mercenary who fought in Nagorno-Karabakh. -- Liz Fuller
KAZAKHSTANI PROCURATOR GENERAL SEEKS BAN ON COMMUNIST PARTY.
Procurator-General Maksut Narikbayev has appealed to the Justice Ministry to
ban the Communist Party, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April. Narikbayev claimed
that the party's charter seeks to create "a unitary state with a socialist
orientation and pro-communist ideology," goals which violate the principles of
territorial integrity and sovereignty enshrined in Kazakhstan's constitution. A
number of Communist Party activists were fined for holding "unsanctioned
meetings" on 16-17 March in several cities in support of the Duma's
denunciation of the Belavezha accords (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 April
1996). The party recently elected Serikbolsin Abdildin, the former speaker of
Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet and until recently a member of the less radical
Socialist Party, as chairman. -- Bhavna Dave
A NEW OPPOSITION MOVEMENT EMERGES IN KAZAKHSTAN.
A new nationwide
opposition movement called Azamat (Citizen) held its first congress in
Almaty on 20 April, ITAR-TASS reported. The 400 delegates elected a
coordinating council of 49 members and three co-chairmen: Murat Auezov,
Kazakhstan's former ambassador to China; Petr Svoik, the Socialist Party leader
and the former chairman of the State Committee on Pricing and Anti-Monopoly
Measures; and Turegeldy Sharmanov, a member of the Kazakhstani and Russian
academies of medical sciences. The movement adopted a charter that pledges to
form a government "of honest and competent people, enjoying people's trust,"
and expressed willingness to cooperate with the government in promoting these
goals. Azamat is the first large-scale opposition movement led by
eminent public figures who are not part of the government. The movement is
seeking to register with the Justice Ministry. -- Bhavna Dave
RURAL SETTLERS IN BISHKEK THREATEN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.
The leaders of
the Kyrgyz movement of rural migrants, Ashar, have threatened to
start a civil disobedience campaign outside the presidential palace on 26 April
if the Bishkek authorities fail to deal with the problems of about 100,000
former peasants who have been seeking permanent residency in Bishkek, ITAR-TASS
reported on 19 April. In a letter addressed to President Askar Akayev, the
leaders of Ashar complained that despite promises, the government has
failed to provide the settlers' quarters on the outskirts of the capital with
electricity, water, medical facilities, or a transportation network. They have
asked the government to allocate 840 million som ($76 million) to create these
basic amenities and another 100 million som ($9 million) to build a service
infrastructure. -- Bhavna Dave
UKRAINE TO BEGIN CLOSING CHORNOBYL.
During the G-7 summit meeting on
nuclear safety in Moscow, President Leonid Kuchma told French President Jacques
Chirac that Ukraine will shut down one of Chornobyl's two working reactors by
the end of the year, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April. Kuchma also discussed the
nuclear power station's closure with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. G-7
leaders reaffirmed their support for a financial package worth $3.1 billion in
grants and loans to help Ukraine close Chornobyl by 2000. -- Ustina Markus
ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vagan
Papazyan ended a three-day official visit to Ukraine on 20 April, ITAR-TASS
reported. Papazyan met with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhen
Marchuk, and his Ukrainian counterpart Hennadii Udovenko. Talks covered a wide
range of issues dealing with developing Ukrainian-Armenian ties. -- Ustina
INTEGRATION COMMITTEE MEETING IN MINSK.
The head of the Russian, Kazakh,
Kyrgyz, and Belarusian integration committee Kazakh First Deputy Prime Minister
Nigmatzhan Isingarin was in Minsk to discuss the first series of documents
prepared for the integration process, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April.
Nigmatzhan met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka who heads the
international council for those countries. The documents included a program for
economic and humanitarian integration for 1996, and the structure and mandate
of the integration committee and its costs for 1996. -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA, CZECH REPUBLIC SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT.
Minister Andres Lipstok and Czech Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy
signed a free trade agreement on 19 April in Tallinn, BNS reported. President
Vaclav Havel who headed a Czech delegation that completed a week-long trip to
the Baltic states the next day noted that his visit was intended not only to
strengthen economic ties between their countries, but also to stress solidarity
with countries having common goals and aspirations to join NATO and the
European Union. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIA, SLOVAKIA SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT.
Latvian and Slovak Foreign
Ministers Valdis Birkavs and Juraj Schenk signed a free trade agreement in Riga
on 19 April, BNS reported. The agreement that has to be ratified by the
parliaments of both countries will go into effect from 1 July. In 1995 trade
between the two countries was worth some $7.3 million, with more than
two-thirds being Slovak exports to Latvia. Earlier in the week, Latvia signed a
similar free-trade agreement with the Czech Republic. Birkavs noted that the
agreements would promote Latvia's admission to the Central European Free Trade
Agreement which he hoped would occur next year after Latvia is also admitted to
the World Trade Organization. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH, LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET.
Polish Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz met his Lithuanian counterpart Mindaugas Stankevicius
on 19 April in Augustow and Punsk in north-eastern Poland, near the Lithuanian
border. They agreed that the two countries will sign a free trade agreement in
June and accepted the setting up of a working group of experts on cross-border
affairs. They will also soon sign an agreement on the spelling of names,
guaranteeing that the minorities in each country will be able to write their
names according to their own languages. A Polish-Lithuanian Euroregion of
economic cooperation "Niemen" is to be created, "even if Russian and Belarusian
partners would not be ready," Cimoszewicz said. The Polish side affirmed that
Poland will support Lithuania in its endeavors to join CEFTA and the European
structures. -- Jakub Karpinski
CHANGES IN THE POLISH TV 1 MAY PROGRAM.
The new board of public Polish
TV (TVP) begins its operations on 22 April. The program of the country's most
popular channel, TVP1, planned for 1 May, a socialist and communist holiday,
has been changed by its new director Tomasz Siemoniak. His nomination two month
earlier caused a crisis in the TVP management that led to the dismissal of the
TVP board on 28-29 March and the nomination of a new board on 12 April.
Programs on 1 May that were scheduled by the former TVP management but are now
dropped are films on workers' anti-communist manifestations in 1956 and 1980,
Ryszard Bugajski's film Interrogation about a woman imprisoned in
Stalinist times, and a series on anti-communist emigre writer Jozef Mackiewicz.
Siemoniak said that the program for the 1 May holiday should be lighter,
Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Last year the ruling postcommunist coalition
strongly criticized the anti-communist program aired on 1 May. -- Jakub
RESULTS OF SOLANA VISIT TO POLAND.
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana
told his Polish hosts on 17-18 April that Poland will be admitted to NATO and
will share all member rights and duties. Solana asserted that there is no
possibility of a limited or "only political" membership for Poland and, when
admitted, the country will be covered by the full security guarantees of
Article 5 of the Washington treaty. "NATO is not interested in semi-detached
members, and we are certainly not interested in the idea of a political but not
military membership in NATO," he said. According to Solana, NATO will, however,
do everything possible to establish partnership relations with Russia. Solana
met President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz,
and other officials. He addressed the Polish Atlantic Club and Euroatlantic
Association that are dedicated to Poland's aim of joining NATO, Polish dailies
reported. -- Jakub Karpinski
SLOVAK OFFICIAL ON NATO ENLARGEMENT.
Foreign Ministry State Secretary
Jozef Sestak on 21 April said countries not accepted in the first wave of NATO
enlargement must be assured that they will nonetheless become members of the
alliance, Narodna obroda reported the following day. In a television
debate, Sestak agreed that NATO might take in "one or two" new members first.
But other candidates must be given reassurances that they will also gain
membership eventually, he said -- "otherwise, destabilization will arise."
Sestak added that Slovakia is among the "most fervid" candidates for NATO
membership and is on course to join the alliance. -- Steve Kettle
WORLD BANK OFFICIAL URGES WELFARE REFORM IN HUNGARY.
Visiting World Bank
Vice President Johannes F. Linn called for reform of the Hungarian state health
care system and pension funds, Hungarian dailies reported on 22 April. Linn,
who is on a three-day visit to discuss a $500 million credit agreement for
Hungary, also called for curbing inflation and further modernization of the
banking sector. According to Linn, reform of the banking sector should include
refining a five-year-old bankruptcy law to give more power to state banking
supervision and winding up insolvent banks. Part of the World Bank loan would
assist with the restructuring of banks and big state enterprises, while the
rest of the amount, yet undefined, is intended to co-finance welfare reform. --
HUNGARY, BOSNIA SIGN PACT ON EXTRADITION, CRIME AND TERRORISM.
Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze and his visiting Bosnian counterpart Avdo Hebib
signed an agreement on extradition, fighting organized crime, drug trafficking,
and terrorism, Hungarian media reported on 22 April. Kuncze said the next item
on the agenda will be the future of Bosnian refugees in Hungary. "Hungary is
interested in the return of these refugees, but only on a voluntary basis and
when appropriate conditions can be created," he added. During the visit, Hebib
thanked the Hungarian government for receiving refugees from Bosnia during the
war. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
BRITISH IFOR REBUFFS KARADZIC.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
through an aide blasted the decision by British peace keepers to move their
headquarters from Gornji Vakuf to Banja Luka, the major Serb stronghold in
western Bosnia. The aide, Jovan Zametica, telephoned the British on 20 April to
say that Karadzic had not given "his permission" for the move, Onasa news
agency reported the next day. The British replied: "So what? We're entitled to
go where we want... We don't need his permission." Elsewhere, Bosnian
authorities released a group of Serbian prisoners, including Col. Aleksa
Krsmanovic, for lack of war crimes evidence against them. The government
similarly released a group of Serbian detainees. International media also said
that about 800 Muslim and Croat refugees scuffled with some 1,500 Serbs trying
to prevent their return to their homes near Doboj. The area is part of the
Bosnian Serb entity, but the Dayton agreement allows all refugees to go home.
-- Patrick Moore
SLAVONIAN SERB LEADER CONFIRMS LOOTINGS.
Goran Hadzic is the new
"interim president" of the Serbs in eastern Slavonia, the last part of Croatia
in rebel Serb hands. He indirectly confirmed reports that one-third of the
Serbs have been carting off property to Serbia, including goods looted from
Croatian homes, Reuters stated on 21 April. Hadzic said that his main
priorities are to "fight crime which has taken on disturbing proportions" and
to stop the ongoing exodus of Serbs. -- Patrick Moore
CROATIAN SERB UPDATE.
In Zagreb the small remaining Serb minority on
Croatian-held territory has been forming a number of new organizations in
recent weeks. The latest is an umbrella group, the National Council of Serbian
Organizations (NSSO), Nasa Borba reported on 22 April. That same day
Vecernji list denied that the government is discriminating against Serbs
by cutting off funds to the paper Nas glas. The article claimed that the
paper had taken an anti-Croatian stance, as shown by reporting stories on
alleged atrocities in Krajina last summer. It noted that other Serbian
organizations continue to receive subsidies. Meanwhile, the Sabor passed a law
on cooperation with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Vecernji list
said on 20 April. The measure is expected to facilitate the extradition of
suspected war criminals.-- Patrick Moore
SERBIAN OPPOSITION RALLY BECOMES SCENE OF VIOLENCE.
parties--the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, and the Serbian
Civic League--organized a rally on 20 April in the town of Novi Sad which was
marred by violence when supporters of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's
Socialist Party of Serbia forced their way into the crowd. Nasa Borba on
22 April reported that much of the violence was not of a serious nature, and
that, apart from minor scuffles, quelled when police intervened to move
Milosevic supporters from the scene, "thankfully nothing more serious erupted."
On April 20, however, AFP reported that witnesses on the scene observed police
officers bludgeoning Miroslav Negrojevic, a legislator and member of the
Serbian Renewal Movement. Estimates suggest that about 10,000 opposition
supporters attended the rally which called for Milosevic's removal from office.
-- Stan Markotich
MONTENEGRIN PREMIER IN U.S.
Milo Djukanovic, accompanied by the rump
Yugoslav republic's finance minister, Predrag Goranovic, left for the United
States on 21 April on what local media described as "a working visit." The two
Montenegrin officials are reportedly seeking to reopen working relations with
U.S. based financial institutions. Nasa Borba on 22 April reports that
Djukanovic and Goranovic also regard the visit as a means of reopening and
sustaining bilateral talks aimed at "a normalization" in relations. -- Stan
SWISS ENVOY TO ROMANIA SUSPECTED OF BEING CAUGHT IN ESPIONAGE WEB.
Romanian and international media reported on 19-20 April that the Swiss
ambassador to Romania, Jean-Pierre Vettovaglia, was summoned home after
investigations revealed a sentimental involvement with a Romanian journalist
who is suspected of being an agent of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).
The journalist, Floriana Jucan, who works for Evenimentul zilei, denied
she was on the SRI payroll, but confirmed the affair with the Swiss diplomat,
who is married. The SRI also denied that Jucan is on its payroll. Romanian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Sorin Ducaru said the ministry regrets the
"unpleasant situation" that has been "intensely exploited in the media" and
praised Vettovaglia's "competence and professionalism" and his contribution to
boosting ties between the two countries. -- Michael Shafir
ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS PROMISE TO BE SPORTY.
Ilie Nastase, the former
Romanian international tennis star, on 19 April officially began his campaign
for mayor of Bucharest as the candidate of the Party of Social Democracy in
Romania (PDSR), local and international media report. At his side was Nadia
Comaneci, the former Olympic gold medal gymnast. Comaneci arrived in Bucharest
for her marriage on 27 April to U.S. gymnast Bart Conner. Adrian Nastase, the
executive chairman of the PDSR (no kin
of Ilie) will act as best man in
what many political observers believe to be an attempt to boost his party's
electoral chances in the autumn general elections. Other sport stars have also
been recruited by political parties as candidates in the local elections.
Emerich Jenei, a former coach of Romania's and Hungary's national soccer teams,
is running for mayor of Oradea on the list of the Democratic Party and Gheorghe
Raducanu, once the star goal-keeper of Bucharest Rapid, is the candidate of the
Democratic Agrarian Party in one of the capital's districts. -- Michael
NATO OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA.
Gebhardt von Moltke, NATO Assistant General
Secretary for Political Affairs, on 21 April was received by Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu, Romanian television announced on the same day. They discussed
NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, Romania's relations with NATO and its
participation in the Partnership for Peace program. Melescanu reiterated
Romania's aspiration to be received in the organization in the "first wave" of
new members. Von Moltke will chair a meeting of the NATO Cooperation Council
opening in Sinaia on 22 April. -- Michael Shafir
RUSSIAN TROOPS IN THE TRANSDNIESTER TO BE REDUCED?
Citing sources close
to the Russian troops command in the Transdniester, BASA-press reported on 20
April that the troops will be reduced by 60% this summer. The cuts are to be
carried out at the orders of the Russian chief of staff, Gen. Mikhail
Kolesnikov. The agency said that as a result of these directives, General
Valerii Yevnevich could be replaced with a lower-ranking officer as commander
of the Russian troops in the Transdniester and be promoted to a higher post in
Moscow. -- Michael Shafir
BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY DISCUSSES AGRICULTURE POLITICS.
The BSP and
its coalition partners -- the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar
Stamboliyski" and the Political Club Ekoglasnost -- on 21 April discussed the
government's agriculture politics, Duma reported. Deputy Prime Minister
and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov said that securing sufficient grain
production is one of the main problems this year. Many participants of the
meeting criticized the government, saying the farmers had lost faith in it for
failing to resolve the problems of agriculture which impoverished them. Boncho
Rashkov, chairman of the parliamentary agriculture commission, said the
government will fall if the agriculture ministry does not change its policy. --
WHO WILL BE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THE BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS?
Prime Minister and Chairman of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Zhan Videnov
said the BSP candidate in the upcoming presidential elections must be "strong,
and not a figure expressing an inner-party compromise," Duma reported on
22 April. Videnov told a party meeting in Sofia on 20 April that the candidate
must remain "faithful to himself" after winning the elections. According to
Standart, one third of the BSP organizations favor the candidacy of
Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Problems could arise from the fact that
Pirinski was born in the U.S., and the Constitutional Court might be asked to
clarify whether this constitutes an obstacle to his candidacy. Under the
Bulgarian constitution, people holding dual citizenship can not run for
parliament or for president. -- Stefan Krause
BANK ROBBERS STEAL $300,000 IN ALBANIA.
Unidentified culprits robbed the
National Trade Bank in Vlora of $300,000 on 18 April, Albania reported.
They injured a guard and teller during the robbery. It was the third
professional robbery in Vlora this year. Earlier victims of hold-ups involved
the local branches of the Savings Bank and the company VEFA. In unrelated news
two Albanians were killed by starving wolves when attempting to illegally cross
the border to Greece. Five others escaped the wolves by hiding in trees for two
days. They were eventually rescued by Albanian border guards, international
agencies reported. -- Fabian Schmidt
ITALIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ALBANIA.
Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro
visited Albania on 19 April, Reuters reported. He pledged support for Albania's
integration into Europe and Italian help for an association treaty with the EU.
Concerning economic cooperation Scalfaro pointed out that more than 500 Italian
companies are active in Albania. Albanian President Sali Berisha thanked
Scalfaro for Italy's contributions to Albania's transition and said the meeting
had produced good results. Scalfaro attended the opening ceremonies of a
stretch of highway and a drinking water system, the latter funded by the
Italian government with some $23 million. Italy has made available about 300
billion lira ($185 million) in aid and investments to Albania since 1992 and is
considered Albania's main trading partner. Outside the president's palace,
police arrested a man from Fushe Kruje who threatened to commit suicide with a
hand grenade unless he was allowed to speak to Berisha. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Saulius Girnius