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Newsline - May 27, 1996

President Boris Yeltsin took advantage of a campaign trip to Arkhangelsk Oblast and Vorkuta (Komi Republic) to hand out favors to northern regions. Yeltsin addressed 500 administrative heads of small towns in Arkhangelsk on 24 May and a congress of far northern cities in Vorkuta the next day, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported. Over the weekend, he signed decrees promising more state support for the social and economic development of Arkhangelsk Oblast and instructing the government to approve a development program for small and medium-size towns within the next two weeks. In a 24 May interview on Arkhangelsk regional television, Yeltsin also promised to enact a presidential or governmental program to help regional television and radio companies. -- Laura Belin

On his campaign trip to Russia's far north, Yeltsin said in Arkhangelsk on 24 May, "I've come with full pockets...Today a little money will be coming into Arkhangelsk Oblast," Russian and Western agencies reported. On his next stop, in Vorkuta, Yeltsin announced a 133 billion ruble ($26.6 million) package of support for the Pechora coal basin. According to the head of the Independent Miners' Union, 78 billion rubles in back wages arrived on the eve of Yeltsin's visit. In an attempt to win back the allegiance of miners, Yeltsin, whose itinerary included a trip down a mine, promised a variety of benefits including subsidized summer holidays for thousands of children, grants for the construction of retirement homes in warmer regions, and a 40-60% reduction in railroad tariffs on coal from Vorkuta. -- Penny Morvant

Nezavisimaya gazeta published a leaked draft of the economic program of presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov on 25 May. The document, entitled "From Destruction to the Creation of a Road to the 21st Century for Russia," was submitted to the State Duma on 27 May. The document eschews Marxian rhetoric in favor of a Keynesian tone, stressing the importance of reviving demand. It says the country is facing "national catastrophe" due to the "neutron bomb of monetarism," and calls for import controls and an end to international borrowing which "surrenders our independence." It does not threaten the imposition of large-scale price controls or a wave of renationalization, although it says some privatization projects should be reversed in the courts. -- Peter Rutland

Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii says he will not resume negotiations with President Yeltsin until after the results of the first round of the election are known, NTV reported 24 May. Yeltsin campaign organizer Sergei Filatov also said on 25 May that there would be no further negotiations with the other candidates since they were merely using their talks with the president to increase their own stature. Filatov also expressed grave concerns over Yeltsin's ability to win in the second round, since the voting is likely to take place on 7 July when many people will be at their summer homes and may not return to the city to vote. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov on 26 May urged his party's activists to support President Yeltsin in the June election, NTV reported. Fedorov predicted on 24 May that about 90% of the 1.3 million voters who supported his party in the December Duma election will support Yeltsin on 16 June. He criticized Yeltsin for making numerous mistakes but said that he is the only guarantee of reform. Fedorov praised Yeltsin's recent decree to create a professional army and called on him to replace Defense Minister Pavel Grachev with Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, adding that a civilian defense minister would be even better. Fedorov, who led a boisterous campaign in December, told OMRI that if he were in charge of Yeltsin's television campaign--which mostly consists of testimonials by ordinary people and does not show Yeltsin at all-- he would make it more energetic. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) voted at an extraordinary congress--held at the request of more than 30 of its regional branches--to remove the movement's leader, Yurii Skokov, and named Dmitrii Rogozin in his place. Rogozin holds more radical nationalist views than Skokov. Skokov was blamed for the congress' failure to overcome the 5% barrier in the December Duma election, particularly since Skokov led the ticket and put Aleksandr Lebed in the number two position. The congress is backing Lebed in the first round of the presidential election. Yeltsin sent a telegram to the congress supporting the idea of helping Russians who are currently living abroad and asking for cooperation with the movement. Lebed also sent a telegram thanking the KRO for its support and backing steps to strengthen the Russian state, unify the Russian people, and reduce the threat of civil war. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

As President Yeltsin campaigned in Arkhangelsk, the State Duma passed a law on the social and economic development of the north, which would compensate those living and working in northern regions and provide more funding for the development of the economy and culture of indigenous peoples of the north, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 May. A similar law passed by the Duma in June 1994 was vetoed by Yeltsin. Vladimir Goman, chairman of the Duma Committee on Northern Affairs, said the president's suggestions were incorporated into the new law. -- Laura Belin

The Duma on 24 May passed a revised version of the Russian Criminal Code that includes amendments suggested by President Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported. The code has been under discussion in the parliament for three years. Yeltsin vetoed the previous version on 6 December 1995 on the recommendation of law enforcement agencies. If passed by the Federal Assembly, the code will go into effect on 1 January 1997. The new Criminal Code retains capital punishment (albeit for five rather than 18 crimes), although Russia's membership in the Council of Europe obligates it to abolish the death sentence by early 1999. -- Penny Morvant

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has denied that it warned U.S. citizens in Russia to prepare for evacuation in the event of civil unrest following the upcoming presidential election, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 May. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 24 May cited a U.S. citizen named Efroim Sevel who said he witnessed evacuation preparations at the embassy. Embassy First Secretary Thomas Graham, however, said the report was "forged." He said the embassy had no record of any visit by a person named Efroim Sevel. The story is the latest sensationalist canard by anti-communist newspapers that are openly attempting to scare voters into supporting President Yeltsin. -- Scott Parrish

Pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev and First Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla Bugaev on 24 May expressed skepticism that the peace talks between President Yeltsin, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev in Moscow on 27 May would yield positive results, NTV reported. Zavgaev is scheduled to participate in the talks, as are several Chechen field commanders with the exception of Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, who told Western agencies that Yeltsin and Yandarbiev will sign an agreement on an immediate ceasefire. Maskhadov warned, however, that the Chechen side is not prepared to compromise over its insistence on Chechnya's independence. -- Liz Fuller

Russian federal forces have lost 2,483 men killed in Chechnya since the hostilities began in December 1994, Reuters reported on 24 May, citing Interfax. Lt. Gen. Andrei Ivanov was quoted as saying 16,843 Chechen separatists had been killed during the same period. Federal forces also lost four aircraft, 18 helicopters, and 80 tanks; the Chechens lost 119 tanks. -- Doug Clarke

President Yeltsin has dismissed Ambassador to Ukraine Leonid Smolyakov from his post and replaced him with one of Moscow's most experienced diplomats, Yurii Dubinin, Russian media reported on 24 May. Dubinin, 65, who will retain his current post of deputy foreign minister, has been special ambassador for negotiations with Ukraine since 1992. In the diplomatic service since 1955, Dubinin previously held ambassadorial posts in Spain (1978-86), the U.S. (1986-1990), and France (1990-91). The appointment of a deputy foreign minister as ambassador in Kyiv may signal that Moscow wants to work even harder to resolve continuing difficulties with Ukraine over the Black Sea Fleet and other issues. -- Scott Parrish

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his Venezuelan counterpart, Miguel Burelli, have signed a friendship and cooperation treaty and a cultural and scientific cooperation agreement in Caracas, Russian and Western agencies reported on 24 May. Primakov and Burelli both expressed interest in reviving a trilateral arrangement with Cuba under which Caracas would supply Havana with oil in exchange for Russia supplying oil to Venezuelan clients in Europe. A similar agreement was in effect from 1978-1990 and all three sides benefited from reduced transportation costs. Primakov, on the final stop of a week-long Latin American visit which also included Mexico and Cuba, said Russia continues to have "long-term strategic interests" in Latin America. -- Scott Parrish

The daughter and son-in-law of former Russian naval officer Alexander Nikitin--jailed for espionage in connection with his work for the Norwegian environmental group Bellona--have fled to France due to secret police pressure, The Sunday Times reported on 26 May. Igor Kudrick, Nikitin's son-in-law, had continued Nikitin's work with Belonna after his father-in-law was arrested; he decided to flee to the West after being interrogated several times by the Federal Security Service. "The methods they used against us," he said, "were a typical KGB operation where you don't just intimidate the accused but also his family." -- Doug Clarke

The UNHCR has described migration trends within the CIS states as a potential threat to regional stability, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 23 May. There are some 9 million forced migrants on the territory of the former Soviet Union, according to the report. Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) Director Tatyana Regent announced on 23 May that forced migration into Russia has increased dramatically, totaling 1,062,997 people out of the 3 million who have moved to Russia since 1993, ITAR-TASS reported. More than 70% of the migrants come from Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, she added. The UNHCR report noted that there are an estimated 164 territorial disputes "based on ethnic issues" in the former Soviet Union. Another concern is that about 2 million of the migrants are ethnic Russians who may provide a base of support for "resurgent communist-nationalist" feelings in Russia. -- Roger Kangas and Constantine Dmitriev

Economy Minister Yevgenii Yasin has written a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin warning him that Russia is on the brink of a financial crisis, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 May. Yasin reportedly wrote that trying to pay all the wage arrears before the election is "absolutely unrealistic," and the effort could cause currency reserves to slump to $3-4 billion. The paper noted that only last week the IMF released the latest tranche of its $10.1 billion loan, while World Bank President James Wolfensohn was in Moscow negotiating loans worth $1.4 billion, showing their confidence in Moscow's economic course. The paper speculated that Yasin's skepticism may reflect the fact that key decisions are being taken not by his ministry but by the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry. Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin assured Kommersant-Daily that gold and currency reserves have now reached $16 billion, which is even enough to cover 70% of the rubles in circulation. -- Peter Rutland

A Russian delegation headed by Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov has signed a memorandum on a DM 1 billion ($650 million) loan from Germany, ITAR-TASS and Segodnya reported on 24-25 May. Among the projects financed by the seven-year, 4% loan will be the modernization of the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Plant. The agreement specifies that 80% of the sum must be spent on buying equipment in Germany. -- Natalia Gurushina

Georgia celebrated its independence on 26 May, Russian media reported same day. Although the Georgian parliament declared independence on 9 April 1991, the country celebrates its independence on the date of the previous declaration in 1918. In the capital, Tbilisi, the celebrations opened with a military parade followed by a concert. Supporters of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia also held a meeting to mark the anniversary of his election; they later marched through downtown Tbilisi with the flags of Georgia and the Republic of Ichkeria (Chechnya). Police intervened in the march and detained a handful of the demonstrators. -- Irakli Tsereteli

A typhoid epidemic appears to have broken out in southern Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported on 25 May. Tajik Health Minister Alamkhan Akhmedov said 600 cases had been registered in the Kulyab region; ITAR-TASS put the figure at 800 in Kulyab and Gissar (west of Dushanbe) since 24 May. The epidemic seems to have been caused by mud slides that contaminated the water supply. Acute shortages of medical supplies are compounding the problem. -- Bruce Pannier

A Belarusian court has summoned Solidarity President Marian Krzaklewski to appear in court on 30 May for organizing an illegal demonstration in the capital earlier this month. Krzaklewski, who had been invited to Minsk by Belarusian independent trade unions, said he would not appear in court and would prefer to summon the Belarusian authorities for detaining and illegally deporting him and three other Solidarity members. The Polish Embassy in Minsk was notified about the case but will return the court summons because "it is not customary" for the embassy to deliver such documents. Krzaklewski said that if he were to go to Belarus to appear in court, it would mean that he believed that the law is "functioning there according to European norms and Belarusian constitution. And that is not true," Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 27 May. -- Jakub Karpinski

Yevhen Marchuk, during a visit to Sevastopol on 24 May, said Ukraine will agree to allow the Russian Black Sea Fleet to maintain its main base in the Crimean port temporarily and under certain conditions, Ukrainian and Russian media reported. But while he did not specify what those conditions are, he noted that Sevastopol is Ukrainian territory but should be considered "a city of Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian glory." Meanwhile, Ukrainian leaders gave permission for festivities to take place in Sevastopol marking the 300th anniversary of the Russian navy, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 May. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Crimean lawmakers have approved a budget for this year totaling 62 trillion karbovantsi ($335 million), UNIAN reported on 23 May. The new budget allocates 4.2 trillion karbovantsi ($22 million) for the resettlement of Crimean Tatars and other deported peoples on the peninsula. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Former members of the Center Party have set up the Development Party, BNS reported. At the founding congress in Tallinn on 25 May. Andra Veidemann, who headed the Center Party from November 1995 to April 1996, was elected the new party's chief by an overwhelming majority. The party has 174 members, including the seven deputies of the Liberal Centrist caucus. One of the latter, Tiit Made, said that "compared with the Center Party, the Development Party leans much more to the right." He added that the new party will primarily appeal to businessmen, the intelligentsia, and students. Made also commented that the party would like to join the government coalition, but Reform Party Chairman Siim Kallas noted that since all the ministerial posts were filled, there would be no room for the new party. -- Saulius Girnius

Guntis Ulmanis, returning to Latvia from Tashkent on 24 May, said he and Uzbek President Islam Karimov had agreed that the demise of communism is uniting their
countries in their relations with Russia, BNS reported the next day. The presidents signed a joint political declaration and a protocol ratifying a cooperation and friendship agreement. The interior ministers signed agreements on cooperation in curbing organized crime, while the foreign ministers signed accords on the protection of investments, international motor transport, cooperation in railway transport and communications, mutual assistance in customs services, and cooperation in the sphere of culture. -- Saulius Girnius

Lithuanian Foreign Ministry official Darius Jurgelevicius, heading a delegation to Stockholm, has signed a protocol paving the way for a visa-free travel treaty with Sweden, BNS reported on 24 May. Sweden's main condition for signing the treaty is that Lithuania join the 1951 UN Geneva Convention and its protocols on refugees. Jurgelevicius said Lithuania has no objections to comply with Sweden's demand. He added that joining the convention "can be in principle quick." -- Saulius Girnius

Vaclav Klaus has responded angrily to statements made by Theo Waigel, German finance minister and chairman of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, at the 47th Congress of Sudeten Germans in Nuremberg. Waigel noted that the expulsion of some 3 million Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II needs to be recognized as an "injustice." He added that those laws and presidential decrees that made the expulsion possible also have to be dealt with. Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber made similar comments at the congress. Klaus said he "was very upset" by Waigel's statements. "We don't need Mr. Waigel to teach us about [our] legal system. When it comes to World War II, Germans should only whisper.... I am all the more upset [because] Mr. Waigel's statements come one week before our parliamentary elections," Czech media reported. -- Jiri Pehe

Some 500 doctors and 1,000 supporters attended a rally organized by the Slovak Medical Board (SLK) in Bratislava on 25 May to protest low wages, Slovak media reported. SLK President Ladislav Knapec complained that a petition for a 200% wage increase signed by more than 6,500 doctors had not drawn a response from the competent authorities. Average monthly wages for doctors in 1995 reached only 6,251 crowns ($200). Responding to the newly formed Medical Trade Union Association's vow to begin strong protest action, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio that if "some radicals" do not like the Health Minister's program, "they have the right to protest. However, they cannot expect that the world will begin to revolve around them because they will shout more than the decent [ones] who work every day...." The opposition Democratic Union has expressed support for the doctors. -- Sharon Fisher

Speaking on Slovak Radio on 24 May, Meciar accused President Michal Kovac of involvement in the fraud case of the Slovak firm Technopol. "Currently, the Technopol case and the so-called kidnapping [of Michal Kovac Jr.] are being investigated simultaneously and a direct connection [between the two cases] is being proven. If he did not have presidential immunity, the man who decides on granting pardons in the Technopol case would most probably be accused of being one of the participants in this case," Meciar stated. Referring to Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) deputy Ladislav Pittner's independent commission established to investigate the Kovac Jr. kidnapping, Meciar accused the KDH of building "an informer-police structure." He added that he will investigate the group's legality. In other news, Justice Minister Jozef Liscak, attending an Association of Workers of Slovakia meeting on 25 May, warned that Slovakia is facing the danger that "in southern Slovakia anyone can announce autonomy at any time." -- Sharon Fisher

Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 25 May announced that Hungary and Romania will resume talks on the bilateral treaty in the second half of June, Reuters reported. The announcement came one day after Kovacs met with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, in Salzburg where they were taking part in the European Artistic Forum. Treaty negotiations have been stalled since mid-1995, mainly over rights for Romania's Hungarian minority. Signing the treaty is seen as a key step in both countries' efforts toward NATO and EU membership. In other news, MTI on 24 May reported that the Hungarian, Slovak, and Austrian premiers are to expected meet in Slovakia in mid-June. -- Sharon Fisher

One day before Albanians went to the polls to elect a new government, a "large number of Socialists," including former Prime Minister Ylli Bufi, were arrested, Albanian media reported on 25 May. The secret police (SHIK) reportedly beat up members of the Socialist Party. Deputy Interior Minister Agim Shehu claimed that the Socialists had created an illegal "paramilitary force" and had reprinted and distributed ballot forms among voters. Socialist leader Servet Pellumbi, however, said the arrests were a pretext to interfere in the elections. He added that in a radio address, a member of the election commission had asked voters to photocopy election forms to ensure sufficient supplies. More arrests, beatings, and intimidations were reported from all over the country late in the evening of 26 May. Members of election commissions and parliamentary candidates of opposition parties were reportedly the target of those attacks. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

Many opposition election commission members left the polling stations saying they had been intimidated with guns or beaten up by SHIK officers. The Socialists, the Social Democrats, the Democratic Alliance, the Party of the Democratic Right, the Agrarian Party, the Party of National Unity and the Party for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms all declared that they would withdraw their representatives from the electoral commissions. They also called on the Constitutional Court to declare the ballot invalid, saying they would not take part in any government formed on the basis of these elections. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka accused Europe of giving "blind support" to President Sali Berisha, adding that only the U.S. could ensure democratic elections. Meanwhile, Berisha said on Albanian TV that he expected the Democrats to win some 70% of the vote. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

Former Deputy Interior Minister Zylyftar Ramizi, former Prosecutor-General Rrapi Mino, and former head of the Supreme Court Aranit Cela were sentenced to death on 24 May, Albanian media reported. Former parliamentary president Haxhi Lleshi and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Manush Myftiu, who were both partisans during World War II, also received life sentences. The five were charged with crimes against humanity, including sending thousands of dissidents and their families into internal exile. Lleshi and Myftiu had been under house arrest due to bad health but are now in a prison hospital. Before Albania's admission to the Council of Europe in June 1995, parliamentary speaker Pjeter Arbnori had said his country was committed to abolishing capital punishment and would not carry out death sentences following its admission. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

Simeon II on 25 May arrived in Sofia on his first visit to Bulgaria since he was forced into exile in 1946, Bulgarian and international media reported. He met with Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski and the following day with President Zhelyu Zhelev. Reuters reported as many as 500,000 people turned out to welcome Simeon when he toured Sofia's Orthodox churches on 26 May. Simeon is expected to stay in Bulgaria for three weeks or so. Recent opinion polls suggest that while less than 20% of Bulgarians want the monarchy restored, some 40% want Simeon to assume an important political role. The former monarch said he will disclose his future plans after touring the country. -- Stefan Krause

While Zhelev and opposition leaders met with Simeon, members of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) sought to avoid contact with the former monarch. The government considers his visit "a private affair," while Prime Minister Zhan Videnov has said he will not meet with Simeon because he has "much more important work" to do. State media journalists have been told not to give extensive coverage to the visit or to interview Simeon. Velko Valkanov, a deputy elected on the BSP ticket, called the visit "a huge mistake" that will involve Simeon in domestic policy. Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer of the People's Union said the visit deflects attention from real issues and will further divide the country. -- Stefan Krause

In what has become a familiar ritual, 44 Muslim and Croatian refugees attempting to enter Bosnian Serb territory were blocked by 250 Serbian civilians wielding sticks and stones, AFP reported on 26 May. An IFOR bus was also severely damaged, Oslobodjenje stated. The incident took place near Prijedor, which the refugees wanted to visit in order to plant a "peace tree" at the site of a former concentration camp. Serbian police supported the civilians, while IFOR limited itself to "extracting" the refugees and the IFOR vehicle from the tangle. Meanwhile in Teslic, in north-central Bosnia, the authorities continue to expel local Muslim civilians to make room for Serbian refugees from Sarajevo, the BBC noted. The Dayton accord guarantees freedom of movement, the right of refugees to go home, and the right to live where one chooses. -- Patrick Moore

Bosnian Serb Vice President Nikola Koljevic, speaking on Serbia's Kragujevac Radio on 26 May, said Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic will keep a low profile from now on and "effectively disappear" from public view, Reuters reported. But the news agency noted that Koljevic, who is regarded as Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's ally, stopped short of suggesting that Karadzic will relinquish political authority. Koljevic's statement has not been confirmed by the state-run Bosnian Serb media, leading to speculation that he has floated a trial balloon on Milosevic's behalf. Bosnian Ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey has noted that any scenario allowing Karadzic to trade keeping out of the public view in exchange for avoiding prosecution for war crimes is out of the question. -- Stan Markotich

Milo Djukanovic on 26 May said most people living in the rump Yugoslav republic would not endorse any moves that might lead to Montenegrin independence. Tanjug reported Djukanovic as saying that no more than 15-17% of voters would vote for the "independence option" in elections likely to take place before year's end. Djukanovic, who in the past has publicly expressed his differences with the federal authorities in Belgrade, added that "our...interest lies inside the [rump] Yugoslavia, despite some objective or temporary differences." -- Stan Markotich

Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, addressing the Presidential Council on 25 May, said the Council of Europe's decision to delay Croatia's admission was punishment for its refusal to be included in the Balkan integration process, Hina reported. Tudjman criticized the "humiliating conditions" that the Council of Europe has laid down for Croatia, while admitting countries such as Russia. He stressed that Croatia will not agree to those conditions, which include more press freedom, creating conditions for the return of Serbian refugees, cooperation and help in solving the Mostar crisis, and not blocking a solution to the administrative status of Zagreb. Tudjman commented that the EU states seem to be dissatisfied with the leading role the U.S. has played in Bosnia and with the fact that the U.S. has taken Croatia' s side. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Boutros Boutros Ghali on 24 March recommended that the mandate of UNPREDEP be extended by six months, Reuters and AFP reported. In a report to the UN Security Council, he said UNPREDEP should remain in Macedonia until 30 November at its current strength of 1,050 troops, 35 military observers, and 168 civilian police. According to Boutros Ghali, there are fewer threats to Macedonia now than when UNPREDEP was deployed in 1992. But he added that "it is too soon to be confident that stability has been established in the region." -- Stefan Krause

More than 5,000 employees marched through downtown Bucharest on 24 May to protest falling living standards and low pay, Romanian and Western media reported. At the government's headquarters, the demonstrators handed over a memorandum accusing the cabinet of blocking economic reforms and of being unable to solve serious economic and social problems. The memorandum also claimed that ministers were protecting the vested interests of those in power. The protest was organized by the Alfa Cartel, one of Romania's main labor organizations. Alfa is demanding a minimum monthly wage of 140,000 lei ($34), better pay for overtime, and increases in child allowance, pensions, and stipends. Alfa leader Bogdan Hossu described the situation of many trade union members as "desperate." -- Dan Ionescu

Teachers in 32 Moldovan districts on 24 May suspended classes to protest wage arrears, BASA-press reported the same day. Petru Chiriac, chairman of the education trade unions, told journalists that since the begining of the year, teachers have been fully paid for January only. He added that the state owes them millions of lei for the following months. The state's inability to pay wages and pensions has caused widespread protests. Earlier this month, Premier Andrei Sangheli promised education union leaders that the cabinet will solve the problem, but no concrete steps have been taken so far. -- Dan Ionescu

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave