|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 126, 06 July 1993
RUSSIA DEMOCRATS THINK OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Reformers in the entourage of President Boris Yeltsin are preparing themselves for future presidential elections and have started to set up individual party structures, Novaya ezhednevnaya gazeta on 2 July reported. Former State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis is creating a party for intellectuals, former Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar hopes to organize his electoral campaign with the help of an analytical center, managed by former chief of the government apparatus, Aleksei Golovkov, and the co-founder of the Democratic Russia Movement, Arkadii Murashov. Another political party is being created by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai who, according to the newspaper, is distancing himself from other democrats in Yeltsin's camp. Shakhrai is said to be planning a coalition with economist Grigorii Yavlinsky. Alexander Rahr YELTSIN, KHASBULATOV TAKE EACH OTHER TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. On 5 July ITAR-TASS cited the press center of the Constitutional Court as saying that both the president and speaker of the parliament have appealed to the Court with complaints against each other. Yeltsin objects to the law on parliamentary guards, adopted by the parliament on 28 April and published in Rossiiskaya gazeta on 30 June, bearing Yeltsin's own signature. The speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, claims that the president violated the rights of Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, when the latter was deprived of his office, bodyguards, personal physician and all his official duties. Julia Wishnevsky YAKOVLEV CLEARED AS "CIA AGENT OF INFLUENCE." The office of the Russian Prosecutor-General has found no evidence to confirm the allegations of the former KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov concerning former Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev, Russian TV newscasts reported on 5 July. Writing in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 12 February, Kryuchkov claimed that Yakovlev was recruited by the American intelligence services as an "agent of influence" as early as the late 1950s, when he was an exchange student at Columbia University. Acting on behalf of the CIA, Kryuchkov wrote, Yakovlev engineered the collapse of the Warsaw pact, as well as of the Soviet Union and the CPSU. Kryuchkov is currently on trial as a leader of the August 1991 attempted coup d'etat, and his story about Yakovlev appeared to have been prepared as part of his defense at the trial, which is expected to resume on 7 July. Julia Wishnevsky BACK TO THE GOSPLAN? WRITING IN IZVESTIYA OF 29 JUNE, MIKHAIL BERGER SEES THE DRAFT RUSSIAN FEDERATION LAW "ON THE FUNDAMENTALS OF INDICATIVE PLANNING AND THE FORECASTING OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT" AS A "CONFIDENT" MOVE BY THE MINISTRY OF ECONOMICS IN THE DIRECTION OF THE RESTORATION OF STATE PLANNING. The draft envisages a system of economic regulators consisting of a "package of physical, value, and normative factors." On the basis of the reported intentions of private firms, the Ministry intends to make forecasts covering one year, 3-5 years, and 10-15 years, and to issue "indicative plan targets." A new newspaper, Ekonomika i Upravleniye, will carry out explanatory work about the "restoration of the manageability of the economy as a unified national economic complex under market conditions." It was not immediately clear how the draft law relates to the government resolution on forecasting socio-economic development and integrated measures for the state regulation of the Russian economy in 1994 that was announced by Russia's Radio on 18 June. Keith Bush NEW PRICES FOR "ZHIGULIS." With effect from 1 July, the wholesale and retail prices of VAZ automobiles were to be raised for the tenth time since January 1991, Economic News Agency reported on 22 June. The new retail prices ranged from 2,530,000 rubles for the VAZ-1111 (roughly $2,400 at the current rate of exchange) to 8,470,000 rubles for the VAZ-21099 (about $8,000). No mention was made of whether the new vehicles are available at the list price. Keith Bush SVERDLOVSK LEADER SAYS YELTSIN NOT CONSULTED ON REGION'S STATUS. The chairman of the Sverdlovsk regional council Anatolii Grebenkin told Ekho Moskvy radio on 5 July that President Yeltsin had not been consulted before the council proclaimed the region to be the "Ural republic." Grebenkin said the decision reflected "the will of the population" and the social needs of the region. The Sverdlovsk authorities put an additional question about the upgrading of the region's status on the 25 April referendum and the majority of participants voted in favor. Grebenkin's statement came in response to charges made by Vice President Rutskoi during his trip to Novosibirsk on 5 July that the Sverdlovsk authorities had secured Yeltsin's permission prior to announcing the region's new status. Vera Tolz KALMYKIA CLAIMS PART OF ASTRAKHAN OBLAST. Kalmykia is claiming 390,000 square kilometers of the territory of neighboring Astrakhan oblast, Trud reported on 2 July. Kalmykia bases its claim on the 9 January 1957 decree recreating the Kalmyk republic, which had been abolished when the Kalmyks were deported by Stalin in 1943. The frontier stipulated in the decree was never legalized, however, as the Astrakhan oblast soviet refused to sign the relevant document, Trud added. At an extraordinary session of the Astrakhan oblast soviet on 30 June the Kalmyk claim, which had first been made in 1992, was rejected on the basis of a USSR Council of Ministers decree of 28 May 1954 under which the disputed lands were awarded to the kolkhozes of Astrakhan oblast. According to Trud, a number of local observers do not exclude a serious exacerbation of the situation since Kalmykia has said it regards the disputed territory as part of Kalmykia with effect from 1 July. Ann Sheehy TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA SHELL NARROWLY MISSES SHEVARDNADZE; HEAVY FIGHTING CONTINUES. Georgian Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze narrowly missed being hit by shrapnel from an Abkhaz shell, as he traveled by car late on 4 July to the town of Shroma to talk with Georgian soldiers there, Reuters reported. Heavy fighting continued on 5 July as Georgian forces launched a counter-offensive and captured the village of Argubedia, three miles west of Tkvarcheli, Western press agencies reported. Early on 5 July, Abkhaz forces attempted a second time to land by sea near the town of Ochamchira, eighty kilometers south of Sukhumi. The Georgian Defense Ministry reported that Georgian forces repelled the attack. ITAR-TASS reported that Abkhazian forces claim they now control a thirteen kilometer corridor of the road from Sukhumi south to Ochamchira, the Georgian-held capital's only land connection with the rest of Georgia. Georgia, however, claims to control the entire stretch. Officials from both sides stated that hundreds of casualties have occurred in the last two days of fighting. Catherine Dale REFUGEES FLEE AGDAM AS ARMENIANS ADVANCE. Western journalists reported on 5 July that Azerbaijani refugees, including many young soldiers, were fleeing the town of Agdam east of Nagorno-Karabakh to escape Armenian shelling; an RFE/RL correspondent reported that Prime Minister Surat Huseinov had arrived in the region with troops to coordinate the Azerbaijani defense. The head of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Committee (the acting government) stated on 5 July that Karabakh forces had no intention of occupying Agdam, but aimed merely to counter an Azerbaijani offensive and destroy Azerbaijani artillery posts, Snark News Agency reported. Liz Fuller CSCE MEDIATOR CANCELS VISIT. A planned visit to Azerbaijan and Armenia by Mario Raffaelli, the CSCE chief negotiator for the Karabakh conflict, that was due to begin on 5 July has been postponed indefinitely, ITAR-TASS reported. Azerbaijan Supreme Soviet chairman Geidar Aliev expressed disappointment at this decision, which he suspected had been made on the basis of erroneous media reports on 4 July that Agdam had fallen to the Armenian advance. Aliev accused the CSCE of distancing itself from the conflict and leaving Azerbaijan at the mercy of Armenia. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the tripartite US-Russian-Turkish peace initiative, according to AzerTadzh. Liz Fuller ARMENIAN COMMUNIST PARTY CALLS FOR RECOGNITION OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH REPUBLIC. The Armenian Communist Party Central Committee Buro has called on the Armenian government to extend official diplomatic recognition to the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), and for the simultaneous signing of a bilateral treaty on friendship, cooperation and mutual security between the NKR and Armenia, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 July. The NKR unilaterally declared its independence from Azerbaijan on the basis of a referendum in December 1991; the Armenian government has consistently stated that it will grant the NKR official recognition only after another state has done so. Liz Fuller DISPUTE OVER JOINT VENTURE IN KYRGYZSTAN. A commission of Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet has appealed to the country's population for backing in its demand that a major joint venture be canceled, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 July. The commission, responsible for overseeing Kyrgyzstan's gold reserves, claims that the venture, in which Kyrgyzstan's government and the Canadian firm Cameco plan to develop gold deposits at Kumtor, will involve very little investment in Kyrgyzstan's economy and will result in the plundering of Kyrgyzstan's natural wealth. According to the report, the commission found little support from the government for its complaints and therefore turned to the general population. The commission's complaints are typical of those of many Central Asians who fear that foreign investors will take advantage of their inexperience. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, the legislature tends to be more conservative in its attitude to economic reform than is the government. Bess Brown KAZAKHSTAN'S VICE-PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SHOCK THERAPY. Kazakhstan's Vice-President Erik Asanbaev rejected the applicability to Kazakhstan of the Swedish development model and called for "shock therapy" such as used in Poland, Radio Mayak reported on 4 July. Asanbaev, addressing a seminar on privatization that was being held in Kustanai, said that the country's most urgent economic task is to control inflation through strict financial and credit policies, freezing wages and freeing prices. Some basic foodstuffs, including bread, are still heavily subsidized by the state. In his remarks at the seminar Asanbaev also charged that Russia is pushing the other CIS countries out of the ruble zone, a complaint made recently by other top leaders of Kazakhstan. Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WILL CROATIA SWAP LAND WITH THE SERBS? THE BBC'S CROATIAN SERVICE REPORTED ON 5 JULY THAT PRESIDENT FRANJO TUDJMAN'S WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE WAS DOMINATED BY A DISCUSSION OF REPORTS THAT HE HAD AGREED TO AN EXCHANGE OF TERRITORY WITH RADOVAN KARADZIC'S BOSNIAN "SERBIAN REPUBLIC." Apparently the Serbs want access to the Adriatic and, in return, would give the Croats the strategic high ground above Dubrovnik. It is not clear whether this would be a one-off arrangement or, as many suspect, a prelude to a wholesale redrawing of borders. The latter concept is backed by the Herzegovinian Croats and, reportedly, by Tudjman himself, but is considerably less popular in the Republic of Croatia, within the professional military, and among Bosnian Croats. Tudjman said he had agreed to talks proposed by the Serbian side but nothing had been decided. Reporters reminded him that any such formal exchange would have to be approved by parliament, but it is easy to see that it could be carried out on the ground by Tudjman and Karadzic giving orders to local commanders to execute a fait accompli. Many believe that such quiet exchanges of territory have already taken place, as when Croatian forces evacuated Bosanski Brod to Serbian units. Patrick Moore UNION POWER IN CROATIA. A high rate of inflation, cuts in subsidies by a government sorely strapped for cash, and questions about the ethics involved in the government's privatization program have all helped fuel a wave a strikes in Croatia over recent months. Amid growing popular concerns about a falling standard of living, support seems to be rising for the unions and their leaderships. On 4 July Vecernji list ran a poll showing that over 70% of respondents were either satisfied or completely satisfied with the unions' performance, and over 60% had confidence in union leaderships. Only 3% blamed the unions for the current bad relations between the unions and the government, while 42% placed responsibility with the authorities and 45% said that both sides were guilty. Another 45% said the current wave of strikes was justified, against 40% who said it was not. Croatian unions have generally been less assertive than those in some other former communist countries, but that trend may become history. Patrick Moore DRASKOVIC UPDATE. Belgrade media report that Vuk Draskovic, leader of the main opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), was visited by former federal President Dobrica Cosic on 4 July. Sources say that during the 30 minute meeting, Cosic urged the SPO leader to end his hunger strike. In an open letter to the public on 2 July, Draskovic said he is "prepared to die." B92 reported on 4 July that Draskovic and his wife Danica were briefly reunited for the first time since their arrest on 2 June. Both were badly beaten by police and last week were officially charged for inciting a riot and assaulting a policeman. Relatives told reporters the couple hardly talked, crying for most of time. Meanwhile, Serbia's Supreme Court is expected to rule on 6 July whether police can continue to hold the Draskovices after a Belgrade district court ruled on 1 July that they should remain confined for another month. Defense attorneys filed a complaint with the high court saying there are no legal grounds for the confinement. International media reported that on 5 July Danielle Mitterand, wife of the French President, and the French Justice Minister arrived in Belgrade, planning to work for the Draskovices' release. Milan Andrejevich "RADIO BROD" READY TO RESUME BROADCAST. B92 and French media report on 4 July that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has given a green light for the EC-funded "Radio Brod" to resume broadcasting to the Yugoslav area. On 1 July, the ITU ruled in favor of Serbian complaints that the radio ship violated international laws governing radio frequencies and revoked the ship's registration. Belgrade and Podgorica complained in May that "Radio Brod" repeatedly interfered with Radio Montenegro's signal. An ITU spokesman stated that the ship can resume broadcasting only if it transmits from territorial waters of a foreign country, such as Italy. The ship is currently docked in Italy for refueling and restocking of supplies for the ten-member staff of journalists from the former Yugoslavia. Milan Andrejevich. HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT RETURNS FROM RUSSIA. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz returned on 5 July from a two-week tour of the Russian Federation, MTI reports. Goncz told Radio Budapest following a meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin that Hungarian-Russian relations were good, and that Hungary intended to further develop relations with Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and the regions where the Finno-Ugric peoples live. Goncz stressed that Russia must play a key role in the peaceful resolution of the Balkan crisis, and asked for Yeltsin's help in accelerating the return of Hungarian art treasures taken to the Soviet Union during the 1940s. Yeltsin told Goncz that Russia would like to pay off its remaining debt to Hungary through deliveries of arms and spare parts, according to the daily Magyar Nemzet of July 5. The Hungarian government has recently authorized an $800-million deal under which Russia would deliver aircraft to Hungary in return for a partial cancellation of former Soviet debts. Edith Oltay PROTEST AGAINST DRAFT LAW ON RELIGION. The Openness Club, a media organization set up in the late 1980s to defend freedom of speech, has collected over 60,000 signatures on a statement protesting against a draft law on religion that would impose stricter requirements on religious communities wishing to register as Churches, MTI reports. The draft law stipulates that would-be Churches provide the courts that register them with a summary of their religious teachings, and that those teachings may not offend "generally accepted moral values." The draft raises the number of members required to register as a Church from 100 to 10,000 but exempts from this requirement Churches which have been in Hungary for over 100 years. The draft was submitted to parliament by four coalition deputies in response to the great increase in the number of sects that have registered as Churches since a liberal law on religion took effect in 1990. Representatives of the major opposition parties condemn the draft as an attempt to restrict the freedom of religion, and to discriminate against small religious communities. Edith Oltay HUNGARIAN SLOVAKS PUSH FOR RETROACTIVE NAME REGISTRATION. Arpad Duka Zolyomi, vice chairman of the Hungarian Coexistence Political Movement in Slovakia, announced on Slovak Hungarian-language radio on 5 July that ethnic Hungarian deputies in the Slovak parliament will try to include a provision for the retroactive registration of non-Slovak names in the 6 July session. The original government proposal, which was submitted last month but delayed until 6 July after requests from Hungarian representatives, allowed only new-born children to register non-Slovak names. As a condition for membership into the Council of Europe last week, Slovak representatives vowed to implement laws protecting minority rights. Sharon Fisher ROMANIAN OPPOSITION OFFERS TALKS TO RULING PARTY. Leaders of the National Peasant Party--Christian Democratic told journalists on 5 July that their party was now open to coalition talks with all non-extremist parties, including the ruling Democratic National Salvation Front. NPPCD president Corneliu Coposu, who is also a leading figure in the centrist Democratic Convention of Romania, was quoted by Radio Bucharest as saying that the fall of the current cabinet headed by Nicolae Vacaroiu was only a question of time. Coposu and two other NPPCD leaders suggested that their organization was interested in joining a future coalition government on condition of being offered real decision-making powers. They also excluded any cooperation with the extremist parties on whose support the DNSF currently depends in parliament. In a first reaction to those statements, a DNSF spokesman welcomed the change in the opposition's attitude but added that any talks must wait at least until after the front's oncoming congress, scheduled to begin on 9 July. A recent poll showed that 62% of the respondents were dissatisfied with Vacaroiu's cabinet. Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT EVALUATES VAT MOVE. On 5 July Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu and Finance Minister Florin Georgescu met with experts in charge with coordinating the new value-added tax system. Vacaroiu called for more technical support to the trade agents, as well as for better public information about the impact of VAT on prices. Romania introduced an 18% VAT on most goods on 1 July. The tax, which replaced the turnover tax of the communist era, was described by cabinet officials as a modern taxation system which helped prevent fiscal fraud. The 1 July move had been preceded by a month-long publicity campaign, hailing VAT as "a certificate for Europe." Dan Ionescu VAT IN FORCE IN POLAND. Poland's new value-added tax (VAT) took effect on 5 July. The VAT, which supersedes the anachronistic turnover tax, is designed to reduce tax evasion and bring Poland's taxation system into conformity with EC standards. The standard VAT rate is 22%, but a lower, preferential rate of 7% is in force on foods and other basic goods. Exports are totally exempted. Finance ministry officials expressed satisfaction that a feared avalanche of price hikes had not materialized, but cautioned that a final balance could only be drawn in a few weeks' time. The government anticipates an added inflationary kick of only 1.5% from the introduction of the VAT, Rzeczpospolita reported. Last-minute shopping expeditions caused traffic jams on the German-Polish border over the weekend, but these were reported cleared up by 5 July. Excise taxes on gasoline, automobiles, tobacco, and alcohol also took effect on 5 July, Western agencies report. Louisa Vinton SOLIDARITY DEPUTIES JOIN BBWR. A group of twelve former deputies and senators from the Solidarity trade union announced on 5 July that they will run for parliament as members of President Lech Walesa's Nonparty Bloc to Support Reform (BBWR). Members of the group had voted in the old Sejm in favor of the government and against the orders of the union's national leadership on several issues, including the 1993 budget and mass privatization. They were censured for disloyalty at Solidarity's recent national congress. The group's leader, Bogdan Borusewicz, explained the decision to join the BBWR as meant to shape the president's bloc into a proreform force. He said the Solidarity group would represent labor interests, but without limiting itself simply to making demands. Borusewicz, a longtime Walesa friend, was one of Solidarity's founders in 1980. Polish TV reported that the Convention of Polish Entrepreneurs, an organization representing private business, also voted on 5 July to endorse the BBWR. Louisa Vinton CZECH-SLOVAK BORDER CONTRASTED WITH SCHENGEN AGREEMENT. Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml was asked by CTK on 2 July why the Czechs were calling for a highly policed Czech-Slovak border, in contrast to the nine countries of the West European Schengen Group which will be dismantling all border controls on 1 December. Ruml replied that the Czech Republic is a Central European state which is not economically, financially and legislatively prepared to handle illegal immigration and therefore has to implement strong controls on the entry of citizens of third countries. Ruml underscored that "the states of the Schengen Group are removing controls among each other, but the state farthest to the East in the group, Germany, is intensively strengthening its eastern borders." Milada Vachudova UKRAINIAN-SLOVAK BORDER BLOCKED. Truck drivers blocked traffic on both sides of the main Ukrainian-Slovak border crossing on 5 July, Slovak media sources report. The dispute stems from last week's imposition of an insurance fee for Slovak and Czech drivers crossing into Ukraine, which is $250 for cars and $430 to $450 for trucks. The Ukrainian tax was introduced after a similar charge was implemented in Slovakia last month. Previously the rate was approximately $50. Local authorities from the two countries are presently discussing a resolution. Sharon Fisher CZECH COMMUNIST PARTY MAY SPLINTER EVEN FURTHER. At a press conference on 3 July, the new chairman of the Czech Communist party, Miroslav Grebenicek, declared that "no division of the party is taking place" and that dialogue will be conducted with all currents within the party, especially the Left Bloc. About 20 parliamentary deputies are considering forming the Left Bloc Party, led by Jaroslav Ortman. According to their spokesman Vlastislav Kuchar, Left Bloc members do not consider the division of the Communist Party to be inevitable and are willing to hold talks on reforming the party, CTK reported. Another group split from the Communist Party at its congress on 26-27 June. Dissatisfied with the neo-Stalinist tilt of the party, about seventy delegates decided to form the Party of the Democratic Left. Milada Vachudova AUSTRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS CZECH REPUBLIC. During his visit to the Czech Republic on 2 July, Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Mock met with Czech President Vaclav Havel to discuss political developments in Central Europe, especially the issue of minorities. Mock later met with Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec; the talks focused on economic relations between the two countries and concerns about the Czech nuclear power plant Temelin near the Austrian border. Zieleniec and Mock advocated the creation of an early warning system for hazardous radioactivity levels in Central Europe, CTK reports. Mock was very receptive to a Czech proposal for Austrian cooperation with the Visegrad group. Milada Vachudova MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON US POLITICAL, SECURITY ROLE. In an address on American Independence Day (4 July), carried by Moldovapres, Mircea Snegur said the US political and economic system represents "a model for the countries that recently broke free from totalitarianism and committed themselves to democratic principles, but face stubborn resistance from revanchist forces." He also said, "an active US role in helping to settle local conflicts, redefine NATO's scope and tasks, and construct a new security system in Europe is one of the main guarantees of our country's independence." Vladimir Socor EEC VOICES CONCERN OVER MOLDOVANS ON TRIAL. In a communique issued in Brussels and reported by Moldovan media on 5 July, the European Community's Directors for European Political Cooperation expressed concern over the fate of six Moldovans facing the death penalty on charges of terrorism by an unlawful "Dniester republic" court. The communique urged that the six accused (who have been imprisoned for over a year in Tiraspol) be remanded to the lawful Moldovan judicial authorities. Failure to do so will adversely affect the negotiations on the political status of Moldova's Transdniester area, the communique said. The Council of Europe, Helsinki Watch, and Amnesty International have issued similar appeals. Vladimir Socor LATVIA PAYS GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA. On 5 July, using a foreign credit, Latvia sent $4 million to the St. Petersburg concern, Lentransgaz, to complete the payment of its debt for gas, ITAR-TASS reported. Several days earlier Latvia had transferred $500,000 to the concern. Latvian Gas director general Adrians Davis was to hold talks that day with Lentransgaz director Petr Rodionov on settling claims of $12 million penalties for late payment. Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN PRESIDENT TO DECIDE ON LAW ON ALIENS TODAY. President Lennart Meri told RFE/RL's Estonian Service on 5 July that he would announce his decision on signing the controversial law on aliens that the parliament had passed on 21 June shortly before midnight (21:00 GMT) on 6 July. Meri said this was within the 14-day constitutional limit for he had received the law only on 22 June. If Meri does not sign the law, it will automatically be sent back to parliament for reconsideration. Meri had delayed any action on the law awaiting official comments on it from the CSCE and the Council of Europe. CSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel advised Meri not to sign the law, but to send it back to parliament with suggested amendments that would make it more acceptable to the Russian-speaking residents who are not Estonian citizens. Saulius Girnius BULGARIA SEEKS COMPENSATION OVER EMBARGO. Bulgaria is renewing demands for compensation against the impact of its implementing sanctions on rump Yugoslavia, insisting that those measures are proving ruinous for the Bulgarian economy. On 29 June Bulgaria's government recommended to parliament that it postpone making interest payments on the country's debt until September, indicating that the effects of the sanctions have made it impossible for Sofia to meet payment deadlines. Demands for a transport corridor through Serbian territory have also been renewed, Reuters said. On 5 July Western banks carrying the Bulgarian debt responded to Sofia's decision to withhold interest payments by asking for an explanation of what prompted the action, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Stan Markotich [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by John Lepingwell and Anna Sabbat-SwidlickaRFE/RL Daily Report
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