DUDAEV'S SUCCESSOR ASSASSINATED.
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, the radical
Chechen writer appointed to succeed Dzhokhar Dudaev as president on 24 April,
was shot dead in a clash between rival Chechen factions during the night of
28-29 April, Russian and Western agencies reported, citing members of the
pro-Russian Chechen government in Grozny. In other news, the pro-Dudaev
coalition council of Chechen political parties on 27 April unanimously called
for a ceasefire and peace talks, but Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev said
none of the Chechen field commanders have enough authority to conduct
negotiations. Zavgaev said he had met personally with Dudaev's chief of staff,
Aslan Maskhadov, but that the latter was "out of his depth." On 28 April,
leaflets were posted in Grozny threatening reprisals against the pro-Moscow
Chechen government in revenge for Dudaev's death, ITAR-TASS reported.
Meanwhile, thousands of people, including Chechen emigres, demonstrated in
Turkey and Jordan to protest the killing of Dudaev, Turkish and Western media
reported on 26 and 27 April. -- Liz Fuller and Lowell Bezanis
BUSINESS LEADERS CALL FOR POLITICAL COMPROMISE.
Thirteen leading bankers
and entrepreneurs on 26 April issued a warning that because Russian society is
deeply divided, the presidential election could lead to civil war no matter who
wins. The statement, published in Izvestiya on 27 April, asked
journalists and legislators, along with President Yeltsin and Gennadii
Zyuganov, to seek a "political compromise" before June. Among the signatories
were Logovaz President Boris Berezovskii, co-chairman of the Russian Public TV
(ORT) board, and Most group Chairman Vladimir Gusinskii, whose empire finances
NTV. Any meaningful compromise between Zyuganov and Yeltsin seems unlikely: on
26 April, Yeltsin called Russian Communists "fanatics," ITAR-TASS reported.
However, speaking to ITAR-TASS on 29 April presidential economics adviser
Aleksandr Livshits said that he would not rule out the possibility that some
Communists could be offered ministerial positions in the post-election
administration, if they accepted the government's general economic course. --
GAIDAR BACKS YELTSIN.
Only a few months after urging President Boris
Yeltsin not to run for re-election, Yegor Gaidar and the Moscow branch of his
Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) party endorsed the incumbent on 27 April after
heated debate, Russian media reported. Human rights defender Sergei Kovalev, a
co-founder of the DVR, urged his colleagues to back Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii. However, most of those present were swayed by DVR deputy chairman
Anatolii Chubais, who asserted that Yavlinskii has little chance of winning and
that all votes not cast for Yeltsin in the first round would work to the
advantage of Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. -- Laura Belin
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE REGISTRATION UPDATE.
The Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) on 26 April completed its review of presidential candidates,
registering Kemerovo Oblast legislature chairman Aman Tuleev and former
champion weight lifter turned nationalist Yurii Vlasov, Russian media reported.
Tuleev was third on the Communist Party list for the parliamentary election and
is considered a "back-up" candidate to Gennadii Zyuganov. Also on 26 April, the
TsIK finally complied with a Supreme Court instruction to register millionaire
Duma deputy Vladimir Bryntsalov for the ballot. However, citing irregularities
on their signature lists, the commission denied registration to Democratic
Russia co-leader Galina Starovoitova, Lev Ubozhko, head of the tiny
Conservative Party, and Vyacheslav Ushakov, president of a Moscow-based
investment fund. Eleven candidates will now appear on the ballot, but that
number could increase if the Supreme Court finds in favor of Starovoitova,
Ubozhko, or Ushakov this week. -- Laura Belin
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES SUBMIT INCOME DECLARATIONS.
candidates are obliged to submit income declarations to the Central Electoral
Commission for 1994 and 1995, and these may be published if the candidate
agrees. According to Vek (no. 17), Yeltsin had a gross annual income of
552 million rubles ($140,000) in 1994 and 27 million ($5,600) in 1995, while
his main rival Gennadii Zyuganov earned 27 million in 1994 and 30 million in
1995. The top earner was former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, with an
income of 2.3 billion rubles in 1994 and 1.1 billion in 1995. Candidates
registered for the presidential election will receive a total of 4 billion
rubles ($810,000) in government campaign funds, to be divided among them. They
must submit reports showing where the money went within 30 days of the
elections. Vek noted that some Duma deputies who received government
funds in 1993 have yet to submit reports. -- Penny Morvant
ZYUGANOV WARNS OF ELECTION RESULTS FRAUD.
Communist Party (KPRF) leader
Gennadii Zyuganov told OMRI on 28 April that he is sure there will be an
attempt to falsify the results of the 16 June presidential election. Although
he declined to say who he thinks will make the attempt and why, he indirectly
pointed the finger at President Yeltsin. Citing information allegedly obtained
from U.S. intelligence services, Zyuganov claimed that the results of the
December 1993 referendum on the Russian Constitution were falsified to insure
that the document endorsed by Yeltsin would pass. He said that the vote
counting should be watched carefully. Zyuganov was on a three-day campaign
swing through Novgorod, St. Petersburg, and Leningrad Oblast. -- Anna
Paretskaya in St. Petersburg
18 CANDIDATES REGISTERED FOR ST. PETERSBURG ELECTION.
candidates have been registered to contest the 19 May gubernatorial election in
the city of St. Petersburg, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 April. Forged signatures
were found on the petitions of the other four candidates who tried to register,
according to Ekspress-khronika. The most prominent challengers to
incumbent Mayor Anatolii Sobchak are former Federation Council deputy Yurii
Boldyrev, who was a founding member of Yabloko in 1993 but left Yavlinskii's
party in September 1995, and Leningrad Oblast Governor Aleksandr Belyakov. --
RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY FORMED.
At a ceremony in St.
Petersburg on 29 April, the chairmen of both houses of the Russian Federal
Assembly and the head of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet signed an agreement
forming a Russian-Belarusian Parliamentary Assembly, ITAR-TASS reported. The
new assembly was created under the terms of the 2 April agreement forming the
Russian-Belarusian community. Although the final text of the 2 April agreement
has not yet been published in the Russian press, a draft version in OMRI's
possession provides for the parliamentary assembly to consist of 15
parliamentarians from each member-state. Apparently, the body will not have
legislative authority but will instead prepare draft legislation for
consideration by the Russian and Belarusian legislatures. -- Scott Parrish
SELEZNEV LINKS START II WITH NATO EXPANSION.
The recent intensification
of preparations for the eastward expansion of NATO may threaten the
ratification of the START II treaty, Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev told a
press conference on 26 April. ITAR-TASS quoted Seleznev as saying that in
January 1993, when the arms control agreement had been signed, NATO expansion
"was not under discussion." He said that with the prospect of NATO expansion
seeming increasingly likely, deputies now have "many questions" about START II,
which have not yet been adequately addressed in committee hearings. Most
commentators now give START II only a slim chance for ratification. -- Scott
LEBANON CEASEFIRE A SETBACK FOR PRIMAKOV.
Russian analysts have assessed
the U.S.-brokered ceasefire in Lebanon as a setback for Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov, contending that despite his efforts, Russia remains
marginalized in the region. Izvestiya commentator Maksim Yusin told AFP
that as a result of his unproductive Middle East visit last week, "Primakov has
been humiliated in the region which he considers he knows best." On 26 April,
Izvestiya argued that Primakov's failed attempt to mediate a settlement
in Lebanon had damaged Russian-Israeli relations, blaming Primakov for overly
blunt criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The paper argued that
despite Primakov's personal contacts in the region, Russia is too economically
weak to compete with the U.S. for influence there. -- Scott Parrish
MIR SPACE STATION COMPLETE.
A research module containing 900 kg of
equipment, including devices for studying the earth's natural resources, docked
successfully with the Russian space station Mir on 26 April, Russian and
Western agencies reported. The Priroda module, which was launched from the
Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 23 April, is the fifth and final module to
dock with Mir and marks the structural completion of the space station.
Much of the equipment will be used by U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid, who will be
aboard Mir for a five-month period. -- Penny Morvant
CHERNOMYRDIN'S DOCTOR MURDERED.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's
personal physician, Dmitrii Nechaev, was shot dead in a Moscow suburb on 26
April, Russian TV (RTR) reported. The motive for the killing is unclear. There
were 216 contract killings in Moscow in 1995, up from 181 in 1994. Only about
10% of such murders are solved. -- Penny Morvant
RUSSIA CONCLUDES DEAL WITH PARIS CLUB.
Russia has reached agreement with
the Paris Club to reschedule its debts to official creditors, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 29 April. Russia's debts to the 20-nation club are
estimated to exceed $40 billion, half of them held by Germany. For the past
three years, Paris Club debts have been rolled over on an annual basis. Talks
on an "exit rescheduling" began last November, in the wake of an agreement to
postpone $32 billion worth of debts with the London Club of commercial lenders.
The terms of the latest rescheduling are not yet known: Russia was thought to
be holding out for repayment over 25 years and a seven-year grace period before
payments begin. -- Peter Rutland
MEDIA CRACKDOWN IN ARMENIA.
Representatives of Armenian opposition
parties and newspapers have protested recent moves by the Armenian authorities
against the opposition press, Noyan Tapan reported on 23 and 25 April.
Following a split in the ranks of the opposition Ramgavar-Azatakan Party (RAP),
which resulted in the creation of a pro-government splinter party named Mission
of the Ramgavar-Azatakan Party (MRAP), the Armenian Justice Ministry revoked
the registration of the existing editorial board of the RAP's daily newspaper
Azg ("Nation"), and ruled that the MRAP has the right to publish a paper
with the same title. On 26 April, a Yerevan Court is to hear a formal complaint
by the Central Electoral Commission against the weekly newspaper Ayzhm
("Now")--the organ of the radical National Democratic Union--which in its 6
April issue published data on the results of the 5 July 1995 referendum on the
new Armenian constitution that contradict the official results. -- Liz Fuller
YELTSIN-NAZARBAYEV MEETING IN ALMATY.
Following up on the series of
meetings in China, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Kazakhstani
counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, met for four hours in Almaty on 27 April and
signed five bilateral accords, Russian and Western media reported. Among the
agreements was a protocol reorganizing the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which
is expected to break a three-year deadlock among the participant states.
According to the agreement, Russia will now own 24% of the consortium shares,
with the remainder divided among Kazakhstan, Oman, and the oil companies
participating in the venture. In addition, agreements were signed on setting up
Russian-Kazakh joint ventures, pension guarantees for residents of Baikonur,
and a Kazakh commission for the Baikonur complex. In addition, Yeltsin "ruled
out" any Russian territorial claims on Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Roger
UZBEK PARLIAMENT DENOUNCES EFFORTS TO "REVIVE USSR."
The Uzbek Oliy
Majlis (parliament) passed a resolution condemning the Russian State Duma's
vote to annul the Belavezha accord, Russian and Uzbek media reported. The
resolution called efforts to create supra-state institutions "unacceptable" but
stressed the need to "integrate" within the CIS as a sovereign state, according
to a 25 April Uzbek TV report monitored by the BBC. The Oliy Majlis began its
5th session on 25 April with 20 issues on its agenda, including bills on
citizenship, banks, joint-stock companies, free economic zones, and national
security. The deputies will also discuss the creation of a new governmental
award, the Order of
Amir Timur, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported. --
IMMIGRATION LIMITS IN KAZAKHSTAN.
A presidential decree issued on 26
April has set a ceiling on the number of ethnic Kazakhs moving to Kazakhstan
from neighboring states that will be eligible to receive financial support,
RFE/RL reported. Some 4,000 families moving from neighboring states will
receive state aid and housing this year. Already, more than 3,400 families have
moved to Kazakhstan in the first four months of 1996. The policy of state aid
for ethnic Kazakhs "returning" to Kazakhstan was implemented shortly after the
country became independent, but the government now seems concerned at the
possibility of an influx of migrants. -- Roger Kangas
DEMONSTRATIONS, ARRESTS IN BELARUS.
On the tenth anniversary of the
Chornobyl disaster, 50,000 people demonstrated in an unsanctioned rally in
Minsk, international agencies reported on 26-27 April. Protestors demanded that
Ukrainian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka resign after "betraying the country
by belittling the Chornobyl accident." The demonstrators clashed with police
and several were later admitted to the local hospital with injuries. About 200
people were arrested including several leaders of the nationalist Belarusian
Popular Front and 17 Ukrainians belonging to the Rukh and UNA-UNSO parties.
Lukashenka called the rally a "riot," and said he plans to ban all
demonstrations in the future. The Belarusian opposition leaders Vyatsuk
Vyachorka and Yurii Chodyka began a hunger strike to protest their arrest. They
have been charged with organizing group activities to disturb the peace. --
BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER RETURNS.
The leader of the Belarusian
Popular Front, Zyanon Paznyak, returned to Minsk on the tenth anniversary of
the Chornobyl disaster, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 26 April. Paznyak
had been in the Czech Republic and Poland after Belarusian authorities issued a
warrant for his arrest due to his role in helping organize protest
demonstrations against the 2 April agreement on Russian-Belarusian integration.
Just before Paznyak's return, Belapan reported that the Belarusian Foreign
Ministry issued a statement on 24 April saying that countries that officially
support Paznyak risk damaging their relations with Belarus. -- Ustina Markus
CANADA, U.S. PROMISE AID TO UKRAINE.
On the tenth anniversary of the
Chornobyl disaster, Canada promised $3.5 million in aid to help upgrade the
Kryvii Rih thermonuclear plant in Ukraine, AFP reported on 26 April. The
upgrade is meant to help Kryvii Rih substitute for lost energy production when
the Chornobyl closes. The same day, the U.S. signed an agreement pledging $3
million to open a research center in Kyiv to study problems related to the
Chornobyl accident. France and Germany have also signed preliminary agreements
to provide financing. -- Ustina Markus
NEW ESTONIAN PARTY FORMED.
The Estonian Rural Center Party and the
Social Democratic Party held a joint congress in Tallinn on 28 April that voted
to approve the by-laws of their new joint party, the Moderates Party, ETA
reported. Former Prime Minister Andres Tarand, who suggested the merger in
December, was elected Chairman. The former Chairmen of the two respective
parties Vambo Kaal and Eiki Nestor will act as his deputies. The two parties
cooperated in March 1995 parliamentary elections, winning six seats. -- Saulius
DOUBTS ON LATVIAN, ESTONIAN FISHING AGREEMENT.
Latvian Prime Minister
Andris Skele said on 26 April that Estonia does not yet seem ready to observe
the verbal agreements on fishing and sea borders that he made with his Estonian
counterpart, Tiit Vahi, on 14 April, BNS reported. Skele said that they had
agreed to sign during the upcoming meeting of Council of Baltic Sea Countries
in Visby an agreement that would allow Latvian trawlers to fish in Estonian
waters around the island of Ruhnu until 1 August. Raul Malk, Estonian Foreign
Ministry Deputy Chancellor, denies that such an agreement was made. -- Saulius
UPDATE ON OLEKSY AFFAIR.
Former Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski
said on 28 April that former President Lech Walesa ordered former Internal
Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski last year to submit to prosecutors
intelligence information that suggested that former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy
had spied for the Soviet and Russian secret services. Walesa said on Radio Zet
that he acted in accordance with the law. Oleksy maintained that charges
against him were instigated by Walesa for political reasons. On 22 April, the
military prosecutor closed a three-month investigation into the affair saying
he found no direct proof of any crime. The Chief Military Prosecutor Gen.
Ryszard Michalowski said, however, that he will review the decision and Justice
Minister Leszek Kubicki has decided to publish the investigation files, Polish
and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski
NUMBER OF PARTIES IN CZECH ELECTIONS DROPS.
The Central Electoral
Commission on 27 April decided that the four parties that have not paid the
required election deposits will not have their candidates listed on official
ballot papers for the 31 May-1 June parliamentary elections, Czech media
reported. The Nationwide Citizens' Activity and Party of Czechoslovak
Communists failed to deposit 200,000 crowns ($7,400) in any of the electoral
districts where they intended to stand, while the Right Bloc paid only part of
the sum. The Greens refused to pay deposits in protest against the decision of
the district electoral commission in northern Bohemia not to register the
party's candidates because the list was improperly submitted. There are now 16
parties standing in the elections, although those excluded still have the
rights to campaign and to free state TV and radio airtime. The commission also
ruled that the presence of members of the Entrepreneurs Party on the lists of
the Free Democrats-Liberal Social National Party makes it a coalition, which
requires 7% of the vote to win parliamentary seats rather than the 5% needed
for individual parties. -- Steve Kettle
CZECH ROMA FILE RACIAL SUIT AGAINST EXTREMIST PARTY.
Secretary of the Romani Democratic Congress (RDK) in the Czech Republic, filed
a case against the extremist Assembly of the Republic-Czechoslovak Republican
Party (SPR-RSC) on 24 April for alleged racial crimes, CTK reported the same
day. Vesely said that SPR-RSC owns, prints, and circulates the newspaper
Republika that has been publishing anti-Romani items for the past three
years. The RDK, which unites several Romani parties and societies in the
country, is pursuing a legal ban on SPR-RSC. -- Alaina Lemon
SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN.
Jozef Migas was elected
Chairman of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) during the party's congress
on 27-28 April, Slovak media reported. A virtual political unknown, Migas has
served as ambassador to Ukraine since 1994. Migas was a compromise candidate
between the two factions of the party, which differ over the need to join the
current government. Migas said the SDL will will not enter the government
before 1998 elections. In other news, speaking at the SDL congress on 27 April,
the Party of European Socialists' Secretary-General Jean-Francois Vallin called
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar "an obstacle to Slovakia's future
membership in the EU." Meciar admitted in a Slovak Radio interview on 26 April
that domestic political conditions could delay Slovakia's admission into NATO.
-- Sharon Fisher
FIVE SLOVAK SOLDIERS DIE FROM BURNS.
Five soldiers had died by 28 April
as a result of burns suffered when their truck caught fire five days earlier in
the army training grounds at Zalubica in eastern Slovakia, Slovak media
reported. A cigarette caused the truck, loaded with paints and paint-thinners,
to explode. A total of 18 soldiers were affected by burns. Christian Democratic
Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky on 25 April blamed the accident on the
government and the Defense Ministry. -- Sharon Fisher
CENTRAL EUROPEAN FORUM HOLDS INAUGURAL CONFERENCE IN HUNGARY.
hundred diplomats, government officials, and academics attended in Budapest on
27-28 April the first conference of the Central European Forum (CEF). Poland
proposed the forum in December 1995 to provide a framework for dialogue about
EU enlargement. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and Foreign Minister Laszlo
Kovacs argued that the EU must expand to maintain its competitive edge in the
global economy. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former French Prime
Minister Raymond Barre reassured the Central Europeans that in the long term
their EU membership is certain. The CEF took place just one day after the
European Commission sent a 200-page questionnaire to the nine East-Central
European countries applying for EU membership, which they must complete in the
next three months.-- Peter Rutland in Budapest
BOSNIAN UN AMBASSADOR BLASTS IRANIAN "REVELATIONS."
sharply denied an election-year spate of "leaks" in the U.S. press over alleged
past and present links between Sarajevo and Tehran. He suggested European
powers that resent America's role in the Balkans are trying to sabotage U.S.
plans to "train and equip" the Bosnian army. "I think the issue in Bosnia is
not so much age-old ethnic rivalries as it is European imperial rivalries that
have now lasted for over a century...Why are these stories being spread? The
primary U.S. relationship in the Balkans is with Bosnia, [which] upsets some
other political relationships that have existed since before World War I,"
Onasa quoted him as saying on 28 April. -- Patrick Moore
SERBS, IFOR BLOCK REFUGEES' RETURN.
Mass visits by Muslim refugees to
pray at family gravesites now under Serbian control were expected on 28 April,
the Muslim holiday of Kurban Bairam, the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes
reported the next day. Oslobodjenje noted that some 200 Serbs near Doboj
pelted refugees with stones and prevented them from crossing the border,
despite provisions in the Dayton agreement assuring both the freedom of
movement and the right of refugees to go home. IFOR troops kept the Muslims out
of Serb territory elsewhere, such as by blocking three busloads of refugees who
wanted to go to Teslic. U.S. soldiers turned back cars carrying Muslims, who
sought to go to Mahala, near Tuzla. Serbs stoned and wounded a dozen Croat
refugees wanting to visit their home village near Gradacac, Onasa said. IFOR's
Gen. Michael Walker added that IFOR cannot guarantee freedom of movement for
"larger civilian groups." -- Patrick Moore
THREE SERBS CONVICTED IN MURDER TRIALS OF ETHNIC CROATS.
individuals have been convicted on charges relating to the killings of four
ethnic Croats in Serbia's Vojvodina province, Vecernje novosti
reported on 28 April. A regional court in Sremska Mitrovica sentenced Goran
Vukovic to 15 years imprisonment for shooting three Croats in June 1993, while
Pavle Draskovic was sentenced to ten years in prison for murdering one Croat in
April 1993. Meanwhile, Milan Nikolic received a prison sentence of three and
one-half years for instigating "national and religious animosity" in the
province. All three men are believed to have been volunteer-paramilitaries
during Belgrade's war with Croatia. -- Stan Markotich
CHILD DIES IN BOMB EXPLOSION IN KOSOVO . . .
One child was killed and
three others injured in a bomb explosion in Velika Reka on 28 April, Reuters
reported. The Democratic League of Kosovo said unidentified culprits threw the
explosive from a driving car and the bomb exploded as the youngsters, aged
nine-12, examined the device. Serbian police, however, said the explosion was
an accident, AFP reported. They claimed the boys found the bomb in a field near
a local agricultural co-operative. Another bomb reportedly exploded outside a
house in Dusanovo the previous day, causing damage but no casualties. Serbian
Deputy administrator Milan Nesovic claimed that "the incidents are a desperate
move by extremist elements to destroy the increasingly favorable climate
created for talks on resolving the Kosovo issue," but did not say how the
long-standing deadlock on negotiations could be broken in a foreseeable future.
-- Fabian Schmidt
. . . AND MORE ARRESTS REPORTED FOLLOWING RECENT SHOOT-OUTS.
Albanians were arrested following a wave of shoot-outs in Kosovo early last
week on 26 April, AFP reported. Altogether more than 100 Albanians have been
arrested all over Kosovo since the recent shoot-outs. The Democratic League of
Kosovo has again claimed that Albanians in custody are being tortured by
police. It also reported an increase in arbitrary police raids into private
houses. -- Fabian Schmidt
SLOVENIA'S REFUGEES TO BE RETURNED.
The Slovenian government has decided
to repatriate approximately 18,500 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, some
90% of whom are Muslims, by the end of 1997, Nasa Borba reported on 29
April. Representatives of the Slovenian refugee community reported that some
60% of the refugees have already indicated that they would opt to stay in
Slovenia if given the chance. Nasa Borba reported that the refugees fear
their homes "have been destroyed and that [their] territory, in accordance with
the Dayton agreement, is now under the jurisdiction of the Republika Srpska or
the the Croats." The resettlement process is scheduled to begin on 1 July 1995.
-- Stan Markotich
SLOVENIAN MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH ITALY.
Slovenian Foreign Minister
Zoran Thaler said on 26 April during a visit to Portugal that the center-left's
21 April victory in Italian elections has positive implications for bilateral
Slovenian-Italian relations. Thaler remarked that the political mood in Rome
has changed since the Olive Tree coalition emerged with a victory. Thaler also
said that Slovenia's chances of obtaining an association agreement with the EU,
as a step towards full EU integration, have improved markedly. Reuters quoted
Thaler as saying,"We believe that there is a realistic chance to have our
association agreement signed in the near future." -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIA, RUSSIA POSTPONE INITIALING BASIC TREATY.
Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, on
27 April failed to initial a much-delayed basic treaty, Western media reported.
Primakov was quoted as saying that he saw no "visible dissension with the
Romanian side," but he questioned Romania's wish to have Moscow publicly
condemn the 1939 secret Ribbentrop-Molotov pact that stripped Romania of the
Bessarabia and North Bukovina Provinces. Melescanu, on the other hand,
suggested that Romania was ready to drop its demand that the treaty include the
pact's condemnation, but wanted the issue settled in a supplementary
declaration with no legal ramifications. Primakov, who came to Bucharest to
attend the meeting of the Business Forum of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation,
also met Romanian President Ion Iliescu on the same day. -- Dan Ionescu
SENIOR NATO OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA.
General John Sheehan, Supreme Allied
Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), on 26 April met with President Ion Iliescu,
Romanian media reported. The two discussed Romania's participation in NATO's
Partnership for Peace program and in exercises staged by SACLANT last year.
Meanwhile, Romania on 26 April started individual discussions on possible
membership in the alliance at NATO headquarters in Brussels. -- Dan Ionescu
MOLDOVAN, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS MEET.
Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on
26 April in Bucharest met with his Romanian counterpart, Ion Iliescu, Radio
Bucharest reported. They discussed bilateral cooperation and mutual support.
Snegur, who was attending the Business Forum of the Black Sea Economic
Cooperation group, had addressed the conference with a plea for more political
and economic stability, as well as military security in the region. The
four-day conference, which was attended by more than 2,000 politicians and
business people, closed on 28 April. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN PREMIER PLAYS DOWN BUDGETARY PROBLEMS . . .
Zhan Videnov on 28 April said that the government will not amend or adjust the
1996 state budget in order to compensate for rising interest rates, Pari
reported. He said the government will pressure the Bulgarian National Bank to
lower the prime interest rate instead, which had been raised from 49% to 67% on
25 April. Videnov said raising the interest rate is no way of solving the
state's fundamental financial problems and is detrimental to investments. He
also blamed the trade unions for the situation. Trud cited Videnov as saying
there is no need for ministers to resign because of the economic and financial
situation. He said that "In the U.S., there is also a budget deficit, but no
one resigns because of that." -- Stefan Krause
. . . WHILE SOCIALIST PARTY DEPUTY LEADER CALLS FOR CABINET RESHUFFLE.
Meanwhile, Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Deputy Chairman Yanaki Stoilov on 28
April demanded that several key ministers be replaced, Standart
reported. He singled out Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic
Development Rumen Gechev and Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov, who are blamed
for failing to deal with the financial and economic crisis, and Interior
Minister Lyubomir Nachev, who failed to cope with rising crime. Stoilov said
"the changes have to be made now" because "trust in the government is waning."
He predicted that without personnel changes, the BSP will be unable to fulfill
its election platform. In other news, Reuters on 26 April cited a top police
official as saying that financial losses from white-collar crime rose by 300%
in the first three months of 1996 compared to the same period last year. --
ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS HOST ELECTION SPECTACLE.
The Democratic Party held a
huge music spectacle, for 30,000 people in Tirana on 27 April, Reuters
reported. President Sali Berisha said his agenda include "rapidly improving
living standards and ensuring fast economic growth." He also promised to speed
up the privatization of state industries, banks, telecommunications and mines
and to invest in infrastructure projects and hospitals. Meanwhile, the number
of candidates banned from elections for their past Communist-ties has reached
139. The Socialists thus lost 45 candidates, the Social Democrats 22, the
Democratic Alliance 11, the Republican Party 13, while other smaller parties
lost 45 candidates. Only three Democratic Party candidates were effected by the
ban. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels