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Newsline - May 29, 1996

In the course of a brief four-hour visit to Chechnya on 28 May, President Boris Yeltsin visited a village behind the Russian lines and a Russian military base in Grozny where he told troops that although "the war is over," it is unlikely that the Chechen fighters will surrender their arms, and that "any attempts to resume terrorist or criminal activities will meet with the toughest measures in response," Russian media reported. Yeltsin also told the 205th motorized-rifle brigade that conscripts with 18 months of service in the military who have served in "danger areas" for six months are to be sent home. Acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev flew back to Ingushetiya on 28 May after continuing talks with Russian officials on the implementation of the 27 May ceasefire agreement. Yandarbiev said that the Chechen side had made "great compromises," and would not abide by the ceasefire agreement if the Russian military failed to observe it and "dirty politics" continued, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller

Predictably, government figures and supporters of President Yeltsin lauded his trip to Grozny and the ceasefire agreement as vital steps toward solving one of Russia's most important problems. However, rival presidential candidates Gennadii Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky dismissed the visit and the deal as a campaign trick, NTV reported on 28 May. While NTV supports Yeltsin, the network's coverage was skeptical about the long-term prospects for peace, noting that no one in Chechnya entertains the illusion that the war will end quickly. At the same time, one NTV reporter criticized Yeltsin's political opponents for seeming to have an interest in prolonging the war for their own electoral benefit. The strongly pro-Yeltsin but anti-war Izvestiya on 29 May praised the president for opening the road to peace but regretted that such steps were not taken earlier. -- Laura Belin

An article published in Izvestiya on 29 May contends that the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry is not enthusiastic about the Chechen ceasefire agreement. Officially, ministry officials are reluctant to comment on the agreement, saying they are charged with implementing the orders of the president, not discussing them. But unofficially, the paper claimed that top brass believe the new agreement will merely repeat the experience of last July's Russian-Chechen military agreement. Many Russian officers feel that the agreement prevented them from crushing the Chechen separatist forces and winning a military victory. The paper also suggested that Yeltsin had intentionally refrained from personally signing the 27 May agreement in order to keep his future options open. -- Scott Parrish

Two of the 19 Constitutional Court judges, Ernst Ametistov and Tamara Morshchakova, charged that a May 1992 ruling prohibiting the recreation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (KPSS) has not been enforced, ITAR-TASS and Ekspress-khronika reported on 28 May. In 1992, the court upheld in large part President Yeltsin's August 1991 decrees banning most KPSS activities. Gennadii Zyuganov was among those who appealed to the court on behalf of the KPSS. Ametistov noted that since its creation in February 1993, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF)--which Zyuganov now leads--has built national structures and become very much like the KPSS. The press conference at which Ametistov and Morshchakova appeared was organized by the movement supporting President Yeltsin's re-election, even though the federal law on the Constitutional Court prohibits judges from taking part in political activities or election campaigns. -- Laura Belin

A Rostov Oblast regional conference of the Russian Coal Industry Workers' Union, representing divisions of 150,000 members, passed a resolution expressing the miners' disagreement with the government's current economic policies and demanding the resignation of Russian Coal corporation (Rosugol) President Yurii Malyshev, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 28 May. A recent conference in the Kuzbass basin (Kemerovo Oblast), attended by Malyshev, passed a resolution supporting the economic reforms in general while appealing to President Yeltsin to change the tax system and resolve the nonpayment crisis in the industry, Rabochaya tribuna reported on 25 May. Nezavisimaya gazeta speculated that despite the president's recent promises to coal miners in Vorkuta (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 May 1996) the Rostov Oblast coal miners will not support Yeltsin. -- Laura Belin

Viktor Cherepkov, the first democratically-elected mayor of Vladivostok who was ousted on corruption charges in March 1994, announced plans to begin a hunger strike in front of a Moscow court, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 28 May. The charges against Cherepkov were later dropped and the tax police chief of Primorsk Krai was arrested for fabricating them, but Cherepkov was never reinstated as mayor (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 May and 25 July 1995). The Helsinki International Human Rights Organization will request that Cherepkov's case be considered by the European Court, according to Moskovskii komsomolets. -- Laura Belin

Meeting with visiting Russian Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Yong-nam said his country wants to conclude a new bilateral treaty with Russia to replace the 1961 Soviet-North Korean Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. In 1993, Moscow unilaterally annulled the military assistance clauses of the old treaty, and has since pressed Pyongyang to negotiate a new agreement. Kim said North Korea is carefully studying a new draft treaty, which Russia sent it last August. However, he complained that "tactless" reporting on North Korea by Russian media is hampering the development of bilateral ties. Seleznev and Kim also discussed North Korea's Soviet-era debt to Russia, valued at 3 billion foreign-exchange rubles. -- Scott Parrish

Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov began a two-day official visit to Italy and the Vatican on 28 May, meeting with his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, and Pope John Paul II, Russian and Western agencies reported on 28 May. According to a Vatican spokesman, Primakov and John Paul II discussed "the situation in Russia," including religious freedom and ecumenical dialogue. At his meeting with Dini, Primakov held talks on bilateral ties, the Yugoslav peace process, and Russia's integration into Western international institutions. Dini said he expected the 27-29 June G-7 summit in Lyon, France, to boost links between Russia and the leading Western powers. Before leaving Italy on 29 May, Primakov will meet with the EU "troika" of foreign ministers, composed of representatives from the previous, current, and next countries to hold the rotating EU presidency--Italy, Spain, and Ireland. -- Scott Parrish

The CIS Inter-parliamentary assembly met for its seventh session in Bishkek on 28 May, Russian media reported. Delegates from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan discussed a draft agreement on social guarantees for former Soviet veterans living in the CIS, other draft integration legislation, and their own budget for the coming year. On the same day, also in Bishkek, parliamentarians from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan signed an agreement forming a quadripartite inter-parliamentary committee, as called for by their 29 March integration agreement. The committee, which will draft proposed integration legislation, will consist of 40 deputies--10 from each member-state. -- Scott Parrish

Russia is losing millions of dollars in intellectual property to foreign countries, Science Minister Boris Saltykov told a meeting of the State Commission on Science and Technical Policy on 28 May. The loss to the U.S. alone is estimated at $600 million to $700 million, ITAR-TASS reported. About 8,000 Russian scientists are said to be participating in U.S. government programs. Saltykov attributed Russia's poor record in protecting its intellectual property rights to a lack of experience and legislative shortcomings. He added that presidential decrees have been drafted on licensing consulting services and introducing a system of state registration for agreements envisaging international cooperation. The government has also drafted a resolution on state ownership rights over the results of all work carried out with federal budget money. -- Penny Morvant

An 11-meter high monument to Tsar Nicholas II was unveiled in Moscow Oblast on 27 May to mark the 100th anniversary of the last tsar's coronation, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 28 May. First lady Naina Yeltsin and presidential Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov attended the ceremony in the village of Taininskoe, north of Moscow. Yegorov said that the statue of the tsar, who was killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 in Yekaterinburg, was a monument to all the victims of "malice and mistrust." Sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov, who designed the monument, had sought permission to place it in Moscow, near the Kremlin, but was turned down by the government. -- Penny Morvant

Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin on 20 May unveiled a new plan to head off a looming banking crisis at a closed meeting of 22 commercial banks, Kommersant-Daily reported on 28 May. Dubinin called for still tighter restrictions on the licensing of new banks, including "daughter banks," to prevent the appearance of new problem banks. The new stricter accounting rules introduced for all banks on 1 March are to be modified. By way of risk allowance, loans with government or securities guarantees will be written down by 10% instead of the previous 50% requirement, and the coefficient on long-term loans to local authorities will be cut from 50% to 20%. On the other hand, the risk assessment of loans to other banks will increase from 50% to 70%, and that of bank premises from 20% to 70%. The net impact of these changes will probably be to increase the liquidity of average banks. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland

A rally protesting the arrest of nine Islamists in Azerbaijan took place in Ardabil, in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, AFP reported on 28 May. The report did not say how many Iranian Azeri protesters took part in the rally, which was held during the Ashura ritual of mourning for Imam Hussein, the seventh century Shiite Muslim martyr. The agency noted that authorities in Baku arrested three Islamists on 21 May, and charged them with illegally transporting Azerbaijani citizens to Iran. -- Lowell Bezanis

Uzbek President Islam Karimov arrived in Tbilisi on 28 May to sign 16 bilateral agreements with his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Speaking at a press conference after their talks, Karimov and Shevardnadze emphasized the importance of the agreements in principle on forming financial and industrial groups and cooperation in air and rail transport. Shevardnadze noted that an ad hoc group will work on opening a ferry link between Georgian and Bulgarian ports. Uzbekistan is interested in reaching European markets through Georgia. Both leaders stressed that there is no alternative to the CIS, RFE/RL reported. -- Lowell Bezanis

Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev concluded his four-day visit to Malaysia by signing several bilateral agreements to promote investment, trade, and scientific and technical cooperation, AFP reported on 29 May. Nazarbayev invited Malaysian companies to take part in development projects in Kazakhstan, including the construction of the new capital, Akmola. From there, Nazarbayev, accompanied by a delegation consisting of government and private sector representatives, arrived in Singapore. Nazarbayev is expected to sign an agreement on establishing air links between the two countries and on expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation. -- Bhavna Dave

Heavy rains that began on 27 May have caused flooding in many areas of Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported. ITAR-TASS reported that the Kofirnikhon, Varsovskii, and Leninskii regions are among the hardest hit. The Tajik commission for emergencies said that hundreds of homes have been destroyed, bridges and roads have been washed out, and power lines are down in several places. Thousands of hectares of winter crops and cotton have been lost. The flooding is expected to compound a recent outbreak of typhoid. -- Bruce Pannier

In an official statement, the country's newly appointed Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko pledged his support for President Leonid Kuchma's economic policies, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 28 May. Lazarenko said his economic priorities include speeding up privatization and structural changes in the economy, attracting more foreign investment, overcoming the payments and wage debt crises, reorganizing the government, and pushing a recently submitted package of reform-related bills through parliament. Meanwhile, Yevhen Marchuk, fired as prime minister on 27 May, rejected the Kuchma administration's reasons for his dismissal, Ukrainian TV reported. He said it was easy to blame a single prime minister for all of the country's economic woes, but the "roots are much deeper" and that although it was the president's right to oust him, "history and time will put everything in its place." -- Chrystyna Lapychak

After six weeks of resolving differences between various factions, the chairman of a special parliamentary commission, Mykhailo Syrota, presented a finalized draft of a new post-Soviet Ukrainian Constitution for debate in parliament on 28 May, Ukrainian TV reported. Syrota said the draft included changes and additional articles on human and civil rights, the justice system, Crimea, local self-government, and the structure of the legislature. Serhii Hmyria of the Communist caucus presented an alternative draft authored by the Communists. During the evening session, leftist deputies refused to register, demanding the debate over the drafts be postponed until June so they could "consult with their constituencies." Reformers accused the deputies of delay tactics as the leftists pin their own political hopes on a Communist victory in the Russian presidential race next month. In the end, however, a quorum was reached and the debate continued. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Ukrainian first deputy Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko met with his Belarusian counterpart Valeryi Tsapkala and later with Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko in Minsk on 27 May to discuss problems in Ukrainian-Belarusian relations, border demarcation, trade and economic cooperation, Belarusian TV reported the next day. Hryshchenko demanded that the seven Ukrainians being held in Belarus for their part in the 26 April demonstrations be released, Reuters reported on 28 May. He warned that their continued detention would have a negative effect on Ukrainian-Belarusian relations. Most of the seven are members of the radical nationalist Ukrainian Self Defense Organization, which supports the former Soviet republics' independence from Moscow as well as Chechnya's independence movement. -- Ustina Markus

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree making several new ministerial appointments, Belarusian TV reported on 27 May. Appointments included Anatol Kharlap as Minister of Industry, Viktar Hroshau as first deputy Minister of Sports and Tourism, Col. Valeryi Basavets as deputy Defense Minister and head of Rear Forces, and Ivan Dyrman as Chief of Armaments. -- Ustina Markus

Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) issued a joint communique on 28 May in Vilnius asserting that their countries will apply together for NATO and EU membership, Western agencies reported. They noted that they share the same viewpoint toward all major current international issues, including the upcoming Russian presidential elections. Estonian Social Affairs Minister Toomas Vilosius signed treaties on cooperation in social security guarantees with his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts. These countries signed a similar agreement in 1993 that went into effect in January 1995. -- Saulius Girnius

At a meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers in Vilnius on 27 May, trade committee experts initialed a free trade agreement on farm goods, BNS reported the next day. The agreement will probably be signed during a meeting of Baltic prime ministers on 14 June and come into effect after ratification by the respective parliaments. It was drafted taking into account the three states' common goals to join the EU and implement trade policies that would meet requirements of the World Trade Organization. The Latvian government formally approved the agreement on 28 May. -- Saulius Girnius

German, French, and Polish members of the three parliaments' foreign commissions met on 28 May in Warsaw. President of the French commission, former French President Valery Giscard d'Estagne, and Bundestag's President Rita Suessmuth attended. Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said the three countries' collaboration "is the most effective form of confirming Poland's ties with Europe." Polish politicians supported German and French ideas of closer European integration. The Weimar triangle was named after a 1991 meeting of German, French, and Polish foreign ministers. Since then, the three countries' foreign ministers have met annually. Giscard d'Estagne invited Polish and German parliamentarians to a similar meeting next year in Paris. -- Jakub Karpinski

The Czech Constitutional Court ruled on 28 May that the Free Democrats-Liberal Social National Party (SD-LSNS) can compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections as a party, rather than as a coalition, Czech media reported. The group, led by former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, came into existence last year when its two constituent members--the SD and the LSNS--merged. SD-LSNS registered for the elections as a party. While parties have to gain 5% of the popular vote to win seats in the parliament, coalitions must gain 7%. The Czech Electoral Commission ruled in April that the SD-LSNS was a coalition, prompting protests not only from the party's leaders but also from President Vaclav Havel. Despite the court's decision, the chances of the SD-LSNS winning seats in the next parliament appear to be minimal; the party currently commands about 2% of the popular support in various opinion polls. -- Jiri Pehe

Slovakia's Ministry of Transport, Post, and Telecommunications will grant two licenses for the mobile telephone network in August, Praca reported on 29 May. Eurotel, which has operated in Slovakia for several years since winning an exclusive license in the former Czechoslovakia, will be given one of the licenses if it meets the requirements. Two international consortia are competing for the second license: SlovTel, which includes France Telecom and top Slovak energy firms, and Telenor comprised of Norwegian telecommunications, the Slovak iron and steel giant VSZ Kosice, and Slovak Railroad. Stanislav Vanek, a ministry official, said the main criteria include quality, variety of services, tariff policy, and prices. Vanek said Slovak Telecommunications will be transformed into a joint stock company with 100% state ownership. -- Sharon Fisher

Following a two-day investigation, Gyula Horn exempted Gyorgy Keleti from responsibility in the MiG fighter affair, Hungarian media reported. Horn blamed the constitutional violation on the air defense division of the Hungarian Armed Forces and a deputy state secretary at the Defense Ministry (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 May 1996). Horn also proposed that the Constitutional Court reinterpret the constitution regarding which military transports require the preliminary assent of parliament. He urged an investigation into similar affairs that occurred under the previous government and were not regarded as constitutional violations. Opposition parties that demanded Keleti's dismissal said the Socialists should not draw a distinction between minor and major violations of the constitution. According to Nepszabadsag, the junior coalition partner Alliance of Free Democrats believes that Keleti is not personally responsible for the constitutional violation but should be held politically responsible. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Hungary's Secret Services Minister Istvan Nikolits on 28 May gave an account of the national security surveillance of ethnic minorities in southern Hungary, noting that the local office of the National Security Office ordered measures to be taken for the protection of minorities in the summer of 1992, Hungarian media reported. He added that the office proceeded in accordance with legal regulations because it used no secret service methods and gathered no information on minority leaders. Meanwhile, the Hungarian parliament on 28 May rejected the opposition's proposal to call on the Slovak legislature to repeal the Benes decrees, which declared the collective guilt of ethnic Hungarians in World War II. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

A preliminary statement issued by the OSCE in Vienna on 29 May criticized legal shortcomings and insufficient government cooperation in the 26 May Albanian parliamentary elections, Reuters reported. The OSCE noted a number of serious violations of the Albanian election law but stopped short of calling the elections unfree or unfair. "In many instances the implementation of the law failed to meet its own criteria," the statement said, adding that "the level of official cooperation offered to [OSCE monitors] was of a limited nature." The OSCE observed manipulations of ballot sheets, counting irregularities, and intimidation of voters. "In direct violation to the law, observers noted that decisions of the polling station commissions were not made by majority vote but by the arbitrary decisions of the government-appointed chairman and secretary," according to the OSCE. On 28 May, a group of British and Norwegian OSCE monitors had issued an unofficial statement that "the elections did not meet international standards for free and fair elections, and they did not conform with the requirements of the election law." -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana and Stefan Krause

On 28 May at noon the police broke up an opposition rally on Tirana's Skanderbeg Square, arresting an unspecified number of people. The police beat and severely injured several individuals, including party leaders, parliamentarians, parliamentary candidates, and journalists. After the incident, the police surrounded the Socialist Party headquarters, where injured people were being treated and to which some 100 Socialist supporters fled. During the siege, the electricity was shut off and telephone lines cut. The headquarters remained blocked until 20:00 local time when, after a press conference of the Socialists and visits by international diplomats, the police agreed to let the Socialist supporters leave the building. At the press conference, the Socialists demanded new elections and the resignation of the prime minister, interior minister, and a TV director whom they accused of spreading false information. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

ATSH issued reports, claiming that the Socialists are building up terrorist groups and preparing to take up arms. Unspecified Socialist supporters were quoted as saying they will "fight until the last drop of blood." Socialist leader Kastriot Islami, however, said these reports were designed to justify further violence. He added that he expects police raids of the Socialist headquarters under the pretext of arms searches and stressed that his party is committed to a policy following the
principles of democracy and non-violence. The Socialists, however, told OMRI they will begin to hold rallies all over the country protesting alleged election manipulations by the government. Albanian TV, meanwhile, warned the public not to participate in any "illegal" demonstrations, implying that opposition rallies will not be tolerated. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, Gen. Ratko Mladic, were in Serbia on 28 May for secret talks with Slobodan Milosevic. The BBC reported that while no details of the discussions are known, topping the agenda was the issue of the two Bosnian Serb leaders' continuing political influence in Republika Srpska (RS) despite intensifying demands from the international community for them to stand trial for war crimes. Meanwhile, RS acting President Biljana Plavsic and RS parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik were also in Belgrade for talks with Milosevic but declined to comment on the substance of their meetings, Nasa Borba reported on 29 May. -- Stan Markotich

In a related development, Reuters on 28 May reported that the UN Security Council that same day "deplored" Belgrade's "continued failure" to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Most recently, Belgrade authorities did not execute arrest warrants against Mladic, who attended the 21 May Belgrade funeral of his colleague and fellow accused war criminal, Gen. Djordje Djukic. Some reports now say Karadzic himself may also have been present at Djukic's funeral. -- Stan Markotich

On 28 May the Serbian government, headed by Premier Mirko Marjanovic, publicly announced a cabinet shuffle, selecting a total of six new ministers, Nasa Borba reported on 29 May. Representatives of the small New Democracy (ND) party reacted to the news even before it was officially announced, saying their party will probably continue to back the government. Following the "reconstruction" of the government, Deputy Speaker and ND member Vojislav Andric said, "I am hoping the status quo will remain, but we'll see," Beta reported. The ND has functioned as a wing of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, giving Milosevic's Socialists a de facto majority in the republic's legislature. -- Stan Markotich

Franjo Tudjman on the Croatian Armed Forces Day said the country has been continuously pushed to accept unacceptable conditions and thus must have a ready armed force to guarantee Croatian independence, Hina reported on 28 May. He added that despite pressure to expand amnesty for Croatian Serbs in eastern Slavonia to all regions previously inhabited by Serbs, he has refused and will accept no more dictates, Nasa Borba on 29 May reported. Meanwhile, the Permanent Committee of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly on 29 May will consider the status of Croatia's application for full membership. The Permanent Committee noted in a resolution draft of Croatia's application that Croatia acted discordantly to its liabilities. The committee speakers repeated their reserves and criticism regarding Croatia, Vjesnik reported on 29 May. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Bosnian Croat police on 28 May prevented some 200 Muslim refugees from visiting their homes in Stolac in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, AFP and Onasa reported. Radoslav Lavric, an official of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Croat republic of Herceg-Bosna, said the Croatian authorities have already allowed some 600 Muslim refugees to visit the town, which was more than agreed. Later, the Croatian authorities in Stolac said the visits were "officially completed," and denied more visits because "it is not clear how long they will take," Onasa reported on 28 May. Lavric said the Bosnian side had not requested additional visits, but if it had, more would have been approved. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Florin Radulescu Botica, head of Romania's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said his country will not respond to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's criticism of Romania's democracy, Romanian media reported on 29 May. On 25 May, Tudjman commented on the council's decision to delay Croatia's admission, ironically adding that such "democratic countries" as Albania, Romania, Moldova, and Russia have already been admitted to the council. Botica suggested that Romania's support of the council's decision caused Tudjman's criticism. He added that the Parliamentary Assembly considered the decision justified, recalling freedom of press and human rights violations in Croatia. -- Matyas Szabo

Teodor Melescanu on 28 May ended a three-day official visit in Japan, Radio Bucharest reported. He discussed on 27 May bilateral relations with his Japanese counterpart Yukihiko Ikeda and other senior Japanese officials and was received by Emperor Akihito the next day. Mutual trade and economic cooperation figured high on the talks' agenda. The Japanese side pledged to support the process of privatization and industrial restructuring in Romania through loans that will be used for re-equipping the iron and steel combine in Galati and modernizing the Constanta harbor and several Romanian plants. Melescanu stressed Romania's interest in an agreement similar to the one with the EU that would remove obstacles to Romanian exports to Japan. Japanese officials, on their part, insisted that Romania must offer better treatment to foreign investors if it is to attract more Japanese investment. -- Dan Ionescu

The Union of Democratic Forces on 28 May decided to file a no-confidence vote against the Socialist government for its failure to deal with the aggravating economic crisis, Demokratsiya reported. At the same time, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is increasing pressure on Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to reshuffle his cabinet, Standart and Trud reported. At a meeting of the BSP parliamentary faction, deputies asked for the dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov, Industry Minister Kliment Vuchev, and Culture Minister Georgi Kostov. According to Demokratsiya, the deputies also asked for the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev. Meanwhile, the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa"--one of two big Bulgarian trade unions--announced it will organize protests against the government and launch a campaign of civil disobedience. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels