CHECHNYA: WHO'S IN CHARGE?
Although the Chechen constitution stipulates
that parliament chairman Yakhyat Idigov should take over as acting president
following the still unconfirmed killing of Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, the various
Chechen field commanders object to this, according to Russian TV (RTR). Chechen
military intelligence chief Abu Movsayev told Turan on 29 April that Moscow
plans to eliminate the entire pro-Dudaev Chechen political leadership. The
secretary of the Russian government commission to implement President Yeltsin's
peace plan, former Federal Security Service head Sergei Stepashin, told
ITAR-TASS that military commander Shamil Basaev is a "highly undesirable"
negotiating partner. The widow of slain President Dzhokhar Dudaev appealed to
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on 29 April for support in launching a new
Chechen peace initiative, AFP and Zaman reported on 30 April. Also on 29 April,
the Russian military extended for 48 hours its ultimatum to rebel Chechen
forces to leave the besieged town of Shali, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 April. --
YELTSIN TO HOLD CONSULTATIONS WITH RIVALS.
Presidential aide Georgii
Satarov told ITAR-TASS on 29 April that President Yeltsin will hold a series of
consultations in response to the appeal by 13 leading bankers and entrepreneurs
for a "political compromise" before the June presidential election. Satarov
said representatives of Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian
Federation will be invited to take part in the consultations. Meanwhile, in an
interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, reprinted in
Rossiiskie vesti on 30 April, Yeltsin warned that ideas advocated by
Zyuganov's party present a threat to "Russia, Russians, and the international
community," and that a Communist electoral victory would bring back the "iron
curtain." -- Laura Belin
ZYUGANOV CHALLENGES YELTSIN TO LIVE DEBATE.
In response to the 13
entrepreneurs who published a recent appeal for a political compromise,
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov released an open letter challenging
President Yeltsin to a live television debate on the most important issues
facing Russia. In the letter, published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 30
April, Zyuganov also called for three measures to strengthen political
stability: amending the constitution to reduce the president's "extraordinary"
powers; increasing the authority of the parliament to oversee the government's
actions; and holding direct elections of all heads of local administrations
after the presidential election. -- Laura Belin
BEREZOVSKII CALLS FOR DELAY OF ELECTIONS.
Logovaz Director Boris
Berezovskii, who is also deputy chairman of the board of Russian Public TV
(ORT), told RFE/RL on 29 April that the June presidential election should be
delayed or canceled, and President Yeltsin should invite Gennadii Zyuganov to
join the government instead. Berezovskii signed the recent appeal of 13
entrepreneurs warning that Russian society is deeply split and the presidential
election could lead to civil war. In March 1995, he was among those who called
for postponing State Duma election, scheduled for December 1995, until 1997,
but that vote was held on time. -- Laura Belin
CAMPAIGN IN PRESS BEGINS.
The officially registered presidential
candidates were allowed to start publishing campaign materials in the press on
29 April, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Candidates will not be given free
space for advertisements, but they may buy up to 10% of the volume of any
publication, as long as the advertisement clearly indicates in whose interest
the space was purchased. All registered parties and candidates were given free
column space in state-owned or municipal newspapers before the December
parliamentary elections, but most papers were never reimbursed by the Central
Electoral Commission for printing costs. Campaigning on radio and television
will begin on 14 May, and the last day for campaigning in the press or
electronic media will be 14 June. -- Laura Belin
FILATOV, SOBCHAK TRADE ENDORSEMENTS.
Appearing at a St. Petersburg
congress of President Boris Yeltsin's supporters, top campaign aide Sergei
Filatov said Yeltsin supports current Mayor Anatolii Sobchak in the upcoming
St. Petersburg gubernatorial election, while Sobchak said he will vote for
Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. The St. Petersburg vote was initially
scheduled for 16 June, the same day as the first round of the presidential
election, but a March presidential decree moved the date to 19 May (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 21 March 1996). The president's camp may have feared that a
higher turnout in St. Petersburg, a stronghold for Yabloko, would benefit
Grigorii Yavlinskii in the presidential race. The mayoral election in Moscow,
where Yeltsin is more popular than in St. Petersburg, is scheduled for 16 June.
-- Laura Belin
TATARSTAN TV WORKERS PROTEST CENSORSHIP.
Fifteen employees of the
state-owned Tatarstan TV station began a two-day hunger strike on 26 April in
protest against the company's "conservative" methods, saying they are
reminiscent of the "period of stagnation," ITAR-TASS reported. In an interview
with Ekho Moskvy, one of the protesters claimed that the company's management
is practicing censorship by canceling all programs that feature people or views
not to the liking of the authorities. On 12 March, a group of editors and
producers published a statement in the local press and sent a letter to Tatar
President Mintimer Shaimiev expressing their dissatisfaction with the
management style. Subsequently, the authors were threatened with dismissal and
"a repressive regime" was instituted against them. Tatarstan TV is widely
regarded as one of the most tightly controlled regional TV networks,
consistently following a pro-Shaimiev and pro-Yeltsin line. -- Penny Morvant
U.S. HIKES VISA FEES FOR RUSSIANS.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced
an increase in visa fees for Russian applicants in retaliation for recent
Russian hikes in visa charges for Americans, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April.
Starting on 1 May, a multiple-entry U.S. visa valid for one year will cost
$150, while a three-year multiple-entry visa will cost $450. Similar visas had
previously cost $60 and $120 respectively. Single-entry one-year visas, which
had cost $20, will no longer be available. Embassy spokesmen acknowledged that
the increased fees would be very expensive for average Russians, but said that
U.S. law required visa fees match those of other countries. The U.S. fees could
be lowered if Russia reduces its charges, they added. -- Scott Parrish
JAPAN, RUSSIA SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT.
Japanese Defense Agency
Director-General Hideo Usui and his Russian counterpart, Pavel Grachev, signed
a military cooperation protocol in Moscow on 29 April, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The agreement calls for advance notice of military
exercises, and also provides for exchanges of information, training missions,
and naval port visits. Usui, the first Japanese defense chief to visit Russia
since World War II, also met with Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov to discuss
bilateral relations and Asia-Pacific security. Usui told ITAR-TASS he viewed
his visit as "productive," and hoped that the establishment of personal
contacts with his Russian colleagues would boost bilateral ties. A member of
Usui's delegation suggested that Japan is considering purchasing advanced
fighter technology from Russia, and is "particularly interested" in the SU-27.
-- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA PROTESTS EXCLUSION FROM LEBANON MONITORING FORCE.
Foreign Ministry criticized the omission of Russia from the multilateral force
that will monitor the recently-concluded ceasefire in southern Lebanon,
ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. The ministry argued that Russia's exclusion
demonstrates a "clear underestimation" of Russian efforts in the region and its
role as a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process. It added that Russia had
made a "weighty contribution" to hammering out the ceasefire, and would fully
support its implementation. However, it noted that Russia views the agreement
as merely temporary, and hopes that full-fledged talks will resume soon, with
the goal of restoring Lebanon's territorial integrity and securing a stable
regional peace. Moscow's attempts to use the recent crisis to regain a
significant role in the region have so far proven fruitless. -- Scott Parrish
ENERGY WORKERS PROTEST IN KOMI AND PRIMORE.
Energy workers in Komi, who
last received their wages in December, are cutting back power supplies to
consumers who have failed to pay their bills, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April.
Komienergo is owed more than 1 trillion rubles ($203 million) by consumers and
cannot afford to pay its workers or purchase fuel. Meanwhile, about 1,000
employees of the Vladivostok power plant demonstrated outside the Primorskii
Krai government building to protest wage arrears, Russian TV (RTR) reported.
The power company Dalenergo is also owed 1 trillion rubles, much it from the
military and the defense industry. The perpetual payments crisis in the energy
sector has resulted in frequent power cuts in the krai. -- Penny Morvant
"GENERAL DIMA" GOES ON TRIAL.
The trial of controversial lawyer Dmitrii
Yakubovskii, charged with involvement in the theft of valuable ancient
manuscripts from the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg, opened in the
city on 29 April, ITAR-TASS reported. Yakubovskii, or "General Dima" as he is
often called, was arrested on 20 December 1994 and has been held in the Kresty
pre-trial detention center. In 1993, Yakubovskii helped gather evidence against
Yeltsin's political rivals, including then Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. He
was also involved in investigating corruption in the Western Group of Forces
stationed in eastern Germany. The trial was adjourned until 13 May to give
Yakubovskii time to read the 33 volumes of case files. -- Penny Morvant
ADVISER TO ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR INJURED IN ACID ATTACK.
head of the political psychology faculty of St. Petersburg University, was
hospitalized on 29 April after a masked man threw acid in his face, NTV
reported. The attack occurred at Yurev's home, when the professor, expecting
students, opened his front door. Yurev, an adviser to St. Petersburg Mayor
Anatolii Sobchak, had been working on the latter's campaign for the
gubernatorial election scheduled for 19 May. He also served occasionally as an
adviser to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. A member of the government
apparatus quoted by ITAR-TASS ruled out any link between the attack on Yurev
and the murder of Chernomyrdin's personal physician on 26 April. -- Penny
ARMY HOUSING SHORTAGE CONTINUES.
Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen.
Anatolii Solomatin said on 26 April that 117,400 army personnel are without
housing because of a lack of funds, ITAR-TASS reported. Another 58,000 army
families are in need of better housing, while 152,000 soldiers in the reserve
are on the waiting list. Solomatin said that the state military housing program
for 1996-1997, which envisages the construction of 50,000 apartments, will not
fully resolve the problem and that in the first quarter of this year the
program received only half the funds originally planned. Feeding the army also
continues to be a problem. Rear Forces Col. Gen. Vladimir Churanov told the
Duma on 27 April that the army had used up 40% of its emergency food rations,
Russian TV (RTR) reported. -- Penny Morvant
PROBLEMS FUNDING NEW TEXTBOOKS.
Education Minister Yevgenii Tkachenko
told ITAR-TASS on 29 April that his ministry will spend 500 billion rubles
($100 million) on 100 million new textbooks by the start of the next school
year. However, so far the Finance Ministry has only released 100 billion
rubles, so Tkachenko's ministry has taken a three month, 170 million ruble loan
from three commercial banks in order to keep to the printing schedule. -- Peter
CHINA, CENTRAL ASIANS JOIN FORCES.
China has reached an understanding
with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and unspecified "others" to combat separatist,
terrorist, and fundamentalist activities, Reuters reported on 29 April. Further
details of the agreement mentioned by Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen
during an interview the same day were not revealed. Any such arrangement is
likely aimed at keeping a tight rein on the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.
Estimates on the size of the Uighur minority range from 7 million to 22 milion.
In April, an Uighur group in Kyrgyzstan, Ittipak, was banned for three months;
Kazakhstan announced it was "totally opposed" to any efforts to stoke
nationalism in China's "northwest"; and China outlawed the independent
publication of books or cassettes on Islam. -- Lowell Bezanis
NAZARBAYEV RAISES CONCERN OVER INTERNAL STABILITY.
In an address to the
Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced
that his government is drafting a new security law designed to thwart "forces
and personalities within the republic" that threaten Kazakhstan's statehood,
ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. Nazarbayev emphasized the need to "display more
care" for the country's stability and inter-ethnic relations, and criticized
those who would like to see a return of the Soviet Union. Nazarbayev did not
specify which individuals or groups the new law would target. The assembly,
which opened its third session on 29 April, operates on a voluntary basis and
its 327 members represent the more than 40 different national cultural centers
in Kazakhstan, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. This session is also scheduled
to address the 29 March integration treaty with Russia, Belarus, and
Kyrgyzstan. -- Roger Kangas
THE STATE OF KYRGYZSTAN'S NATIONAL GUARD.
The commander of Kyrgyzstan's
National Guard, cited only as A. Chotbayev, gave an alarming assessment of his
troops in an article published in Vechernyaya Moskva on 26 April.
According to Chotbayev, a study of 112 conscripts in the guard conducted by
doctors and psychiatrists in December 1995 showed that only 14 of them do not
suffer from "deep psychological problems"; nine out of 10 were not in
sufficient physical shape to serve; 45 exhibited learning deficiencies; and 19
were considered "debilitated." Chotbayev said most of Kyrgyzstan's more
competent youths tend to avoid service by entering college or business. He
noted that between 1994 and the first quarter of 1996, 709 officers, warrant
officers, and sergeants had been convicted of military crimes. He described the
national guard as "an army of workers, peasants, and criminals." The National
Guard was created after 1991; Kyrgystan has stated that it will not establish a
fully-fledged army. -- Bruce Pannier
UPDATE ON UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE.
Oleksandr Moroz said a national referendum was unnecessary to adopt the
constitution and it would cost 10 trillion karbovantsy ($52 million), Ukrainian
radio reported on 29 April. Meanwhile, Halyna Freeland, the director of a
Ukrainian legal foundation, dismissed criticism that the draft constitution was
solely the president's creation, pointing out that a constitutional commission
made up of 10 people--four appointed by the president, four by parliament, and
two by the judiciary--were responsible for the draft. She added that the draft
guarantees both legal and political rights, such as the right to vote and
freedom of speech. -- Ustina Markus
DEMONSTRATORS' TRIALS BEGIN IN BELARUS.
Two leaders of the Belarusian
Popular Front (BPF), Yuriy Khodyka and Vintsuk Vyechorka, were charged on 29
April with "instigating mass disorder" by starting a hunger strike to protest
their arrest, RFE/RL reported. BPF spokesman Anatoliy Shahun said the arrests
were the beginning of a crackdown against the party, which authorities have
blamed for organizing the mass march on the 10th anniversary of Chornobyl. The
march was also a protest against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. A number of
other democratic parties and organizations were, in fact, also active in
organizing the demonstration. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUS MISSES SECOND CFE DEADLINE.
Belarus failed to destroy all its
excess conventional weapons by the extended deadline of 26 April, Belapan
reported the same day. The original deadline to meet the requirements of the
Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty had been 16 November 1995. Belarus
was granted an extension, but when this second deadline passed, Belarus still
had 104 armored combat vehicles to destroy. An official of the Defense
Ministry, Maj.-Gen. Yuryy Partnow, said that Belarus will be in full compliance
with the treaty by the mid-May review conference in Vienna. He also said that
Belarus was considering transferring this excess equipment to other countries,
as it had done when it supplied 100 T-72 tanks to Hungary. -- Doug Clarke
DIPHTHERIA CASES ON THE RISE IN BELARUS.
Over the past five years, the
number of diphtheria cases in Belarus has risen twelve fold, ITAR-TASS reported
on 29 April. In 1994, 230 diphtheria cases were reported. This jumped to 322
cases in 1995. A mass vaccination campaign is scheduled from 13-23 May. --
ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT STRIPS MEMBER OF IMMUNITY.
The parliament on 29
April voted unanimously to strip deputy Heiki Kranich of his parliamentary
immunity, ETA reported, He is accused of misuse of power in 1992 when, as head
of the now defunct West Estonian Bank's Haapsalu branch, he allegedly
interfered in several bank customers' financial deals. Kranich, the deputy
chairman of the Reform Party caucus, called the charges "groundless," however
he said the loss of immunity was necessary so that the case can be taken to
court. -- Saulius Girnius
RUSSIAN DUMA DEPUTIES VISIT LATVIA.
Vladimir Lukin, the Chairman of the
Russian Duma's International Affairs Committee, headed the first official Duma
delegation to Latvia since Latvian independence. During the two-day visit that
ended on 29 April, the delegation met with representatives of the Saeima, as
well as Foreign Affairs and Environmental Protection Ministers Valdis Birkavs
and Maris Gailis. Lukin charged that the human rights of Russian-speaking
residents in Latvia were not properly observed and criticized the imprisonment
of Alfred Rubiks, the Latvian Communist Party's former First Secretary. Lukin
said it was clear that Latvia would not become a NATO member soon and its
efforts to join the organization only deteriorate relations with Russia. He
added that the Russian presidential elections would not seriously influence
relations between the two countries. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN PRAISES VISIT TO BELARUS.
Jursenas said on 29 April that he hoped his visit to Belarus on 26-27 April
will serve to expand the countries' bilateral relations, BNS reported. He
exchanged copies of the ratified border agreements with his Belarusian
counterpart, Syamyon Sharetsky, which should spur the signing of an agreement
on the return of illegal immigrants. He assured Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka and Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko that Lithuania would support
Belarus's efforts to join the Council of Europe. Jursenas said that the police
violence against demonstrators and the arrests of opposition leaders in Minsk
that occurred after their meeting will not change his pledge. -- Saulius
JOURNALISTS LEAVE WARSAW PAPER.
The Warsaw daily Zycie Warszawy
that has been in opposition to the post-communist coalition in power in Poland
since 1993 was sold to a businessman, Zbigniew Jakubas. Jakubas declared that
the political line of the paper needs to be changed. On 29 April, 29
journalists left the paper claiming that changes in Zycie Warszawy are
part of the ruling coalition's offensive against the independence of the Polish
media. All the members of the paper's editorial board and all journalists from
the domestic political department quit. In other media news,
Rzeczpospolita on 30 April announced that Polish TV's new board intends
to change directors in the TV Information Agency. -- Jakub Karpinski
EX-COMMUNIST SPY ON EX-PREMIER OLEKSY . . .
Gen. Marian Zacharski, who
accused former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy of espionage, said on 29 April that
he stood by his accusation even though military prosecutors decided to drop the
case. Himself a communist-era super-spy, Zacharski was sentenced in the U.S. to
life imprisonment and then released in 1985. He said in a TV interview that he
was "hurt" by the prosecutor's allegations that he had been guided by personal
animosity because Oleksy had refused him a government post. He added that the
State Protection Office (UOP) had carefully scrutinized and had not questioned
the evidence that he and his fellow officers gathered. -- Jakub Karpinski
. . . AND OTHER COMMENTS ON THE CASE.
Gen. Gromoslaw Czempinski, former
UOP chief, said that the decision to turn Oleksy's case over to the
Prosecutor's Office was premature.
The chief of the Presidential
Chancellery, Danuta Waniek, said she found the document in which former
President Lech Walesa ordered former Minister of Internal Affairs Andrzej
Milczanowski to turn the case over to the Prosecutor's Office,
Rzeczpospolita reported on 30 April. -- Jakub Karpinski
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN PRAGUE SAYS NO NEW MEMBERS THIS YEAR.
Solana arrived in Prague on 29 April and told Czech leaders that NATO will not
admit new members at its December 1996 Council of Ministers meeting, Mlada
Fronta Dnes reported. He said, however that NATO will devote 1996 to
"individualized dialogues with potential members" and these dialogues will lead
to a decision in December on whom to later admit. The Czech Republic is to
start such "an individualized dialogue" with NATO in May. -- Jiri Pehe
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL BEGINS VISIT TO SLOVAKIA.
Javier Solana on 29
April arrived in Bratislava for a 24-hour visit to discuss NATO expansion,
Slovak media reported. A bill on NATO enlargement drafted by the U.S. Congress
mentions only the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary as member candidates,
however, Solana told Slovak TV that "a consensus of all 16 members" will
ultimately determine new NATO membership. He stressed that no country has been
deleted from the list of candidates, but he called on Slovakia to prove that it
is "a democratic country" that respects the same values as NATO member states.
-- Sharon Fisher
FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE IN HUNGARY.
during a private visit to Hungary, met on 29 April with Hungarian Prime
Minister Gyula Horn, international media reported. Discussions focused on
regional security issues and Hungary's role in Bosnian peace efforts.
Holbrooke, who continues to serve as an advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton,
gave Horn a report on discussions between the U.S. and Russia on NATO expansion
in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, RFE/RL reported. They discussed the option to
restrict new NATO members to an undefined "political" wing of the organization
with no military connections. The talks were part of on-going consultations
with all countries that have applied for membership. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN NATIONAL BANK TO CUT PRIME RATE.
The Hungarian National Bank
on 29 April announced a 1% cut in the prime interest rate effective on 1 May,
Hungarian media reported. The bank said economic and financial developments
have allowed the reduction, from 27% to 26%. In other news, a Central
Statistical Office report showed that consumer prices rose at an annual rate of
27.6% in the first quarter of this year. -- Sharon Fisher
TWO DEAD AND FIVE WOUNDED AS SERBS AMBUSH MUSLIMS.
At Lukavica near
Doboj, a group of mainly young Muslim adults on 29 April sought to avoid an
IFOR roadblock designed to keep the Serbs and Muslims apart and ran through a
mine field. Serbs ambushed the Muslims at the other end, and the combination of
weapons and mines left two Muslims dead and five wounded, CNN and the
International Herald Tribune reported on 30 April. Elsewhere, angry
elderly Serbs smashed the windows on buses taking Muslims to visit graves near
their former homes in Trnovo, south of Sarajevo in Bosnian Serb territory, the
BBC reported on 29 April. Similar incidents took place the previous day when
Muslims tried to travel to gravesites around Bosnia for the Bairam holiday. In
these cases, the Serbs successfully blocked the Muslims' entry while IFOR
troops looked on. The Dayton agreement specifies that there is to be freedom of
movement and that refugees have the right to go home. -- Patrick Moore
IFOR TOLD NOT TO ARREST WAR CRIMINALS.
Dutch IFOR troops have been
specifically ordered by their British commanders not to arrest war criminals,
the Rotterdam paper NRC Handelsblad stated on 29 April. The story
emerged during a visit to Bosnia by Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo, who
reportedly said that justice will never be done in Bosnia and that he agreed
with the order. A debate has been going on since last summer in the Netherlands
over the allegedly cowardly behavior of Dutch UNPROFOR troops at Srebrenica.
Last August, the largest single atrocity in Europe since World War II took
place there when Serbs massacred at least 5,000 Muslims. IFOR commander, U.S.
Adm. Leighton Smith, said that it is not his men's business to catch war
criminals: "Hold those who signed [the] Dayton [agreement] responsible [for
arresting Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic, Gen. Ratko Mladic and others]
and get off IFOR's back," the International Herald Tribune reported on
30 April. The peacekeepers' mandate is not to hunt down war criminals but to
detain them if they come into contact with them. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS SOME IFOR MUST GO AFTER DUMPING WASTES.
Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic visited an IFOR waste dump near Olovo in
the U.S. zone in central Bosnia and said that the commanders of the unit
responsible must leave the country at once. He charged the units with vandalism
by contaminating two hectares of fertile soil and polluting the Stupcanica
river, Onasa reported on 29 April. Muratovic added that the damage must be
corrected and implied that the U.S. firm involved in waste control in the area
was dumping dangerous wastes brought in from elsewhere. There have been
periodic reports in the local media suggesting that the peacekeepers have
seriously damaged the environment. -- Patrick Moore
RUMP YUGOSLAVIA URGES THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE TO DROP SUIT.
At the latest round of hearings against rump Yugoslavia for its alleged
involvement in genocide, Belgrade's representative, Rodoljub Etinski, urged the
International Court of Justice to drop the case, saying his country had nothing
to do with the war in neighboring Bosnia. He described the conflict as a civil
war fought between rival Muslim, Croat, and Serbian factions. He also said
Bosnia seceded illegally from the Yugoslav federation, violating the rights of
ethnic Serbs there, which should disqualify the case from the Court's hearings.
Bosnian Ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey countered Etinski, saying that
Belgrade played a significant role in the war and violated the 1948 Genocide
Convention by arming and supporting rebel Serbs, Reuters reported. He added
that Belgrade's support for the Dayton peace accord does not exempt rump
Yugoslav officials from justice. -- Stan Markotich
RUMP YUGOSLAVIA CANCELS DEBT TALKS.
Rump Yugoslavia's debt negotiating
team, led by federal Finance Minister Jovan Zebic, abruptly canceled a 29 April
New York meeting with representatives of the London Club of Bankers, Nasa
Borba reported the following day. The meeting was to have focused on the
distribution of assets among the successor states of socialist Yugoslavia.
Representatives of international banks were reportedly stunned by Belgrade's
cancellation. Zebic forwarded a letter to his team stating that "conditions are
not yet opportune [for talks]." -- Stan Markotich
SERBIA REFUSES ALBANIAN CITIZENS RIGHT TO RETURN.
The Serbian Helsinki
Committee accused Serbian authorities of refusing rump-Yugoslav citizens of
Albanian origin entry into the country, Reuters reported on 29 April. The
committee pointed out that the Albanians had valid passports. The protest was
issued after a group of 11 Kosovar Albanians were refused entry at the Pristina
airport. They were re-directed to Belgrade's airport and also refused entry
there. Similar cases have been reported since December 1995. In other news,
Kosovar Shadow State Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi sent a letter to EU President
Susanna Agnelli warning that the increasing violence in the region may force
ethnic Albanians to "take additional measures" to defend themselves. He urged
the EU to apply pressure on Belgrade to "stop its provocations." -- Fabian
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER RULES OUT RUSSIAN VETO ON NATO EXPANSION.
Videnov on 29 April said Russia cannot be allowed to veto former Socialist
countries' aspirations to join NATO, AFP reported. On the first day of a
two-day visit to Vienna, Videnov said that Bulgaria does not see Russia as a
potential threat to its national security, but that NATO enlargement and the
building of a new European security system are "processes in which no country
should veto anything." Videnov warned that NATO enlargement should be "very
well thought-out beforehand" so as not to create a "deficit in security or new
tensions." Videnov added that there is no prospect of Bulgaria joining Belarus,
Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan in a process of closer association with Russia. --
MEDIA LICENSES TO BE REVIEWED IN BULGARIA.
The Committee for Posts and
Telecommunications (KPD) on 29 April announced that all private and foreign TV
and radio stations, cable networks, and providers of other related services
will have to apply for new licenses by 5 July, Demokratsiya reported.
The KPD will reconfirm or revoke existing licenses within six months after the
deadline. A government decree empowers KPD to restrict licenses "for reasons
connected to public interest" and revoke them "in the case of actions violating
public interest." The decree also lets KPD Chairman Lyubomir Kolarov personally
decide which licenses are renewed. Informed sources say that some cable TV
network operators will lose their licenses. RFE/RL and Darik Radio may also not
receive renewals because of the stations' critical positions on the Socialist
government. -- Stefan Krause
NEW PRICE HIKES IMMINENT IN BULGARIA.
The government on 29 April decided
to raise the prices of petroleum, oil, and natural gas by 1-13%,
Demokratsiya and Pari reported. The new prices become effective
on 1 May. The same day, electricity prices will go up by 41%. Standart
reported that a 15-20% price increase for drinking water is also expected to be
announced this week. Chairman of the National Commission for Prices Dimitar
Grivekov told 24 chasa that the new fuel prices are due to high crude
oil prices on the international market and the strong U.S. dollar. Meanwhile,
Krastyo Petkov, chairman of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in
Bulgaria, in a letter to Prime Minister Videnov published in Trud,
blamed the cabinet, writing it has "led Bulgaria into new financial
bankruptcy." -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN FLEET ON STRIKE IN DURRES.
Albanian trade fleet workers in
Durres have gone on strike, demanding 20% of the profit from a recent sale of
25 ships. The sale was a step toward privatizing the fleet, but the workers are
claiming profit-sharing rights as shareholders in the fleet. Head of the
government privatization agency, Niko Glozheni said the law is unclear on the
workers' share-holding rights. The workers are now demanding that the State
Control Commission investigate the case, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 30
April. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels