Increase The Peace. - John Singleton
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 11, 16 January 1995

We welcome you to the Open Media Research
Institute's Daily Digest--a compilation of news
concerning the former Soviet Union and East-
Central and Southeastern Europe. The Daily
Digest picks up where the RFE/RL Daily Report,
which recently ceased publication, left off.
Contributors include OMRI's 30-member staff of
analysts, plus selected freelance specialists.
OMRI is a unique public-private venture between
the Open Society Institute and the U.S. Board
for International Broadcasting.

RUSSIA

NEW RUSSIAN ATTACK ON GROZNY. Systematic house-to-
house fighting and intensified artillery bombardment of
the presidential palace in Grozny continued from 13 to 15
January, Western journalists reported. On 13 January,
Russian forces took the Council of Ministers building
opposite the presidential palace, and on 14 January
succeeded in surrounding the blazing palace and
preventing the advent of Chechen reinforcements or a
Chechen retreat to the south. Russian troops who
succeeded in forcing their way into the presidential
palace on 14 January were driven out on 15 January. In a
satellite-telephone interview from Grozny published in
Die Welt am Sonntag on 15 January, Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev predicted that the war in Chechnya would
last longer than that in Afghanistan, and claimed that 47
Russian generals had defected to the Chechen side. On 15
January, Russian Presidential Advisor Emil Pain met at
The Hague with OSCE High Commissioner for National
Minorities Max van der Stoel to discuss the possibility
of international mediation in Chechnya, AFP reported. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

OSTANKINO HEAD DENOUNCES CENSORSHIP ON CHECHNYA.
Alekdandr N. Yakovlev, head of Ostankino television and
radio, asked the Russian government on 14 January to stop
trying to control the coverage of the war in Chechnya
through censorship or by putting pressure on the media,
Interfax and Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on 13 and 16
January, respectively. Yakovlev said the censorship
applies to all Russian journalists reporting on the
conflict and has reduced the coverage of Russian forces.
Yakovlev declared that the censorship measures give
Chechen President Dudaev the upper hand because
independent journalists can only cover the fighting from
the Chechen side. In particular, Yakovlev has asked Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to stop putting pressure on
Russian television's second program and independent NTV,
both of which have been less compliant than Ostankino.
Russian authorities have been particularly critical of
NTV. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

NEWSPAPER QUESTIONS CASUALTY FIGURES. A reporter
in the 14 January issue of Izvestiya cautioned his
readers that it would be a "big mistake" to take the
official Russian casualty figures released on 11 January,
of 394 killed and 1,000 wounded, as accurate. Valerii
Yakov said that some losses continued to be "concealed or
blatantly lied about." Many of the Russian dead were
still lying in parts of Grozny controlled by Dudaev's
supporters, and their names would be on lists of men
missing in action that have not been made public. Yakov
also charged that the military was hiding the fact that
it was placing urgent orders for zinc coffins for the war
dead. Interfax on 15 January quoted "well-informed
military sources" as saying some 500 Russian soldiers had
been killed, 200 more had "disappeared" and another 120
to 150 had been captured. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

REGIONS INCREASINGLY RESTLESS. Chuvash President
Nikolai Fyodorov believes that society has paid "too high
a price for the criminal experiments and mistakes by the
federal authorities in Chechnya," Interfax reported 13
January. Fyodorov said that a 5 January meeting of Volga
Republic leaders in Cheboksary, the Chuvash capital,
caused dissatisfaction among federal authorities because
the leaders "protested against policies which provoke
armed clashes between citizens of the same state."
Fyodorov said that the republican leaders will "continue
to resist the erroneous decisions and neutralize their
negative effect in the provinces as much as the Russian
Constitution permits." In a related development, Duma
Deputy Mikhail Molostvov, on his return to Moscow from
Chechnya, declared that the federal authorities "are
doing what they do in Chechnya to scare the constituent
republics into submission." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ANTI-WAR RALLIES HELD IN VARIOUS RUSSIAN CITIES.
Despite the unpopularity of the Chechen war, the protest
movement against it has not turned into a mass movement,
Russian Television "Vesti's" commentator opined, while
reporting on two rallies held in Moscow by different
democratic organizations on 14 and 15 January. According
to "Vesti," neither of these meetings attracted more than
a few thousand participants. "Vesti" also broadcast
footage of anti-war rallies held on 15 January in other
cities across Russia, including St. Petersburg,
Chelyabinsk on the Urals, Omsk in Siberia and Volgograd.
In Moscow, both protests were organized by former Yeltsin
supporters who said they became opponents of the Russian
president and his regime after the bombing of civilians
in Grozny. In other places, participants condemned both
the president and the democrats who had brought Yeltsin
to power and approved of the use of force against the
former Russian parliament in October 1993. In a separate
development, "Vesti" said that a meeting of the leaders
of Russia's Cossack organizations, held 14 and 15
January, disapproved of those Cossacks who voted for the
military intervention in Chechnya. -- Julia Wishnevsky,
OMRI, Inc.

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF WAR SERIOUS DESPITE RUSSIAN
OFFICIALS' DENIAL. Speaking on the live television
program "Itogi," Finance Minster Vladimir Panskov stated
on 14 January that Russia's current budget for 1995 will
be sufficient to pay for the Chechnya war if it ends
soon. Similarly, Deputy Premier Anatolii Chubais, in a 14
January Interfax report, stated there is no reason to
worry about an economic disaster because of the conflict.
Statistics, however, indicate otherwise. Panskov said the
military cost of Russia's intervention in Chechnya during
December was about 450 billion rubles ($121 million). He
estimated the cost of reconstruction between 4 and 5
trillion rubles ($1.1 to 1.35 billion), a conservative
figure. According to a Western report, free-market reform
economist Egor Gaidar said that if spending continues
over the next few weeks the 1995 budget can be forgotten.
Not only is the budget at stake, but also confidence in
the ruble, which can help boost the economy and faith in
Yeltsin, the force that influences Western lenders and
investors. Already, the government's original $60 billion
spending plan for 1995 is short by $19 billion, or 7.7%
of the projected gross national product (GNP). The
majority of this deficit was to be covered by credits
from international lending agencies as well as the sale
of treasury bonds. But as some reports estimate, an
additional $4.5 billion expended on the war would raise
the deficit to about 10% of the GNP, a level unacceptable
to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). --Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

IMF TO REOPEN NEGOTIATIONS WITH RUSSIAN
GOVERNMENT. A team from the IMF will arrive in Moscow
on 17 January to reopen negotiations with Russia
concerning a $6 billion loan, AFP reported on 16 January.
The loan is crucial for Russia to help quell its
turbulent economy. Reports indicated that Russia is
hoping for about $15 million, or 10% of its federal
expenditure in foreign loans this year. However, due to
the political and economic implications and results of
the Chechnya conflict, one Western advisor to the Russian
government said "the costs of the war and the
accompanying international criticism could unravel the
tight 1995 budget." This could mean withholding of or
reduction in financial support by the IMF and other
western sources, thus putting an even greater strain on
Russia's already weakened economy. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

TSIVILEV RENOMINATED FOR CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has resubmitted Robert
Tsivilev for the Federation Council's approval as the
last judge on the Constitutional Court, Interfax reported
13 January. An aide to the head of the presidential
administration, Tsivilev had been nominated in December
1994, but received only 86 votes, four short of the 90
necessary. At the same time, more than 80 deputies of the
Federation Council signed an appeal asking the president
to nominate Isa Kostoev, the chairman of the Federation
Council Committee for Constitutional Law and Legal
Issues, for the vacancy. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UNSANCTIONED ATTACK ON ABKHAZIA AVERTED. Georgian
security and interior ministry forces thwarted what was
initially termed an attempt on 13 January by the
recently-created National Liberation Front of Abkhazia to
expedite, by force if necessary, the repatriation of
Georgian refugees to Abkhazia, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Two separate convoys of six buses were
intercepted in western Georgia and some 370 people,
including the Front's organizers, ex-prime minister
Tengiz Sigua and former defense minister Tengiz Kitovani,
were disarmed and detained; five Front activists were
injured in an exchange of fire. On 14 January, Georgian
Prosecutor-General Dzhamlet Babilashvili told journalists
that Kitovani would be formally charged with heading an
illegal military formation; Georgian Intelligence chief
Igor Georgadze claimed that the object of the crusade had
been not to expedite the return of the Georgian refugees
but to set up "a stronghold of resistance" in Senaki to
the Georgian leadership and unleash civil war, according
to Interfax. Georgian Parliament Chairman Eduard
Shevardnadze refuted Kitovani's claim that the Russian
military leadership had given the go ahead for the
operation. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii
Karasin likewise denied any Russian involvement. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

DASHNAK PARTY BANNED FOR SIX MONTHS. After a six-
hour hearing, the Armenian Supreme Court on 13 January
upheld an appeal by the Ministry of Justice and banned
the opposition Dashnak party for a period of six months,
Interfax reported. The ban was announced on 28 December
by President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, who accused the party
of involvement in terrorist activities and drug-
smuggling. A Ministry of Justice spokesman subsequently
argued that the party had violated legislation on the
activities of political parties and on the status of
foreign nationals in Armenia (nine of the party's 13
leaders are foreign nationals). In an interview with
Interfax on 14 January, Dashnak leader Hrair Karapetyan
termed the ban "one-sided" and affirmed that party
members will take all legal means to restore their
rights. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKH MINERS STRIKE. More than 100,000 coal miners
in northern Kazakhstan launched an indefinite strike on
13 January to coerce the government to pay several
months' back wages totaling $50 million, according to
Reuters of 13 January and the Financial Times of 14
January. The chairman of the regional miners' union,
Vyacheslav Sidorov, told Reuters that 98 percent of his
colleagues supported the protest and that 21 of the 23
pits at Karaganda and Ekisbastuz were idle. Minister of
Coal Vladimir Karmakov warned, however, that the
government would not yield to "economic blackmail." --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

UKRAINIAN NAVY CRITICIZES BLACK SEA FLEET
EXERCISES. The head of the Sevastopol garrison and
deputy commander of the Ukrainian navy, Mykola Kostrov,
criticized the Black Sea Fleet command for not having
notified the Ukrainian navy or the authorities in
Sevastopol prior to holding military exercises in the
area, Ukrainian television reported on 14 January.
According to the press service of the Ukrainian navy, the
Black Sea Fleet held exercises on 12 January which
involved the use of artillery fire along the coast of
Sevastopol and neglected to tell the city's authorities,
which led to panic in some sectors of Sevastopol. Kostrov
said that in areas where both Ukrainian navy and Black
Sea Fleet units are located, proper exchange of
information is vital. He added that this was not the
first time that the Black Sea Fleet Command had behaved
in such a way. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE'S FOREIGN MINISTRY PROTESTS STATEMENT BY
MOSCOW MAYOR. Russian radio reported on 15 January
that the Ukrainian foreign ministry has condemned a
statement by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov regarding
Sevastopol. Moscow and Sevastopol had signed an agreement
on cooperation on 12 January. After the signing, Luzhkov
said Sevastopol is being given the status of Moscow's
11th prefect district. The press center of the Ukrainian
foreign ministry demanded an explanation of such
statements by Russian officials. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
Inc.

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

POLAND'S OLECHOWSKI ABANDONS GOVERNMENT. Foreign
Minister Andrzej Olechowski announced his final
resignation on 13 January, citing "fundamental policy
differences" with Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak, Gazeta
Wyborcza reports. Olechowski charged the ruling coalition
with pursuing foreign policy goals "contrary to Poland's
national interests." He denied that the Constitutional
Tribunal's "anticorruption" ruling the previous day had
influenced his decision, quoting the court's conclusion
that officials serving on the boards of state firms had
taken second salaries "in good faith." At a press
conference in Gdansk on 14 January, Pawlak denied any
intention to modify foreign policy or abandon the goals
of NATO and EU membership. Coalition officials argued
that the foreign minister's real motive was to clear the
way for a presidential campaign--opinion polls put him
ahead of all other potential candidates--but Olechowski
said that "for today" he had no political plans. --
Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH GOVERNMENT DISINTEGRATING? Olechowski's
departure will undermine the coalition government's
already shaky standing, both at home and abroad, as the
foreign minister was perceived as the last guarantor of
Solidarity-era continuity in a political arrangement
dominated by postcommunist forces. President Lech Walesa
announced on 13 January that he is considering
withdrawing Internal Affairs Andrzej Milczanowski from
the cabinet as well. This would leave all three of the
"presidential" ministries vacant, as the defense ministry
has been without a chief since November. The result would
be a final division of the executive branch into two
warring camps. The leaders of Poland's largest opposition
party, the Freedom Union, set up an "anti-crisis staff"
on 15 January to respond to potential threats to the
democratic order, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. -- Louisa
Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

LATVIA AND WORLD BANK SIGN $4 MILLION LOAN
AGREEMENT. Latvian Ambassador to the US Ojars Kalnins
and the World Bank's European and Central Asian Region
Acting Vice-President Basil Kavalsky signed a $4 million
loan agreement on 9 January in Washington, BNS reported
on13 January. The loan, along with a Nordic Environmental
Finance Corporation loan and Swedish and Finnish
government grants, will finance the largest environmental
protection project in Latvia, the development of the
Kurzeme coastal area. The project also aims to decrease
untreated or partially treated sewage inflow into the
Baltic Sea. The technical part of the project, whose
implementation will be completed by September 1999, will
be coordinated from Latvia's side by the Liepaja Water
Supply and Sewage enterprise. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
Inc.

LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. Valdis
Birkavs on 12 January held talks with US Secretary of
State Warren Christopher on topics including the
expansion of NATO and the situation in Chechnya, BNS
reported on13 January. On that day, Birkavs and US trade
representative Mickey Kantor signed an agreement on
mutual investment protection. In meetings with two deputy
secretaries of state and representatives of the National
Security Council, Latvian officials discussed the
dismantling of the Russian radar station at Skrunda, US
assistance in forming Latvia's export control system,
bilateral cooperation and US technical assistance
projects. Birkavs also met with several Republican
Senators. He will return to Riga on 17 January, making a
one-day visit to Helsinki en route. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

NEW RUSSIAN CHECKPOINTS WITH LATVIA AND ESTONIA.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign
Economic Relations Oleg Davydov on 12 January arrived in
Pskov to visit three new border checkpoints with Latvia
(at Ubylinka and Burachki) and Estonia (at Kunichina
Gora), Interfax reports. The three points should have
started functioning at the end of 1994, but their
construction was delayed because promised state funds
were not received. Davydov attended the opening
ceremonies of the Ubylinka post on 12 January and of the
Kunichina Gora post the following day. The new posts
increase the number of highway checkpoints between Russia
and Latvia and Estonia from four to seven and are
expected to help strengthen the fight against smuggling.
-- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

TENSIONS WITHIN CZECH GOVERNMENT AT CRISIS
POINT? The leaders of the four parties in the Czech
governing coalition are due to meet on 16 January to sort
out issues that have brought relations among them to an
apparent crisis point. The meeting was called by Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus after Civic Democratic Alliance
leader Jan Kalvoda told a news conference on 13 January
he had evidence that the state counter-intelligence
agency BIS was illegally collecting information on
political parties, including his own. Kalvoda's
accusation was supported by Christian Democratic Union
leader Josef Lux. Both men are deputy prime ministers but
Kalvoda said relations with Klaus' Civic Democratic Party
have deteriorated to the point of a "coalition war." The
head of BIS, a nominee of the CDP, denied collecting
information on political parties and Foreign Minister
Josef Zieleniec in a weekend television program accused
Kalvoda of destabilizing the country's political system.
-- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

MECIAR PROMISES TO FOLLOW EUROPEAN STANDARDS ON
MINORITIES. Meeting in Bratislava on 13 January with
delegations from three of Hungary's opposition parties,
Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar stressed that relations
with Hungary are of high priority and promised that
Slovakia "will guarantee ethnic minority rights" based on
European norms, Reuters and TASR reported. Meciar has
accepted an invitation from his Hungarian counterpart
Gyula Horn to visit Budapest, but an exact date has not
yet been set. Speaking at a press conference on 13
January, Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota accused
Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian minority of wanting
separation and noted that if he were prime minister, the
meeting with the Hungarian opposition parties would not
have taken place. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION'S CRITICISM OF CABINET
CONTINUES. Party of the Democratic Left Chairman Peter
Weiss said on 14 January his party does not support the
program manifesto of the Meciar cabinet. Calling the
program too general, Weiss also said his party finds it
difficult to believe that the government's offer to
cooperate with other parliamentary parties is sincere
since the cabinet "is beginning to spread an atmosphere
of fear in society and to carry out far-reaching purges
at every level," Sme reports. Meanwhile, a joint
statement issued on 14 January by the Association of
Slovak Workers and the Party of French Workers has also
attracted criticism. The resolution declares
privatization to be "the foundation of a speculative
economy" which destroys industry, agriculture and the
whole economic base of their countries and says that "we
are obliged to tell governments, the IMF, the World Bank
and the European Union: it is not possible to continue
further with this policy which is leading the whole world
to barbarism!," Sme reports. In a political debate
broadcast on Slovak TV on 15 January, Christian
Democratic Movement deputy Mikulas Dzurinda noted that
the ASW's statement contradicts the cabinet's program,
which promises to speed up privatization and cooperate
with the IMF, Hospodarske noviny reports. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARY SETS SCHEDULE FOR LEGAL HARMONY WITH EU.
Hungarian government spokeswoman Evelyn Forro told MTI on
13 January that the government has set a schedule for
harmonizing the country's legislation with that of the
European Union. She said that the country's association
agreement with the EU divides this process into two five-
year periods starting in 1994, and during the first
period basic economic legislation would have to come into
line with EU standards. Forro announced that in the first
half of 1995 the government will discuss draft
legislation on customs duties, patent rights, insurance
companies, foreign exchange, public purchases, technical
standards, and environmental protection. The government's
schedule this year includes a long-awaited bill on
customs clearance procedures and customs administration,
which will include regulations on immediate duty payments
and duty-free zones. A draft law on insurance, which has
been discussed since last February, would allow foreign-
based insurance companies to open permanent
representative offices in Hungary without, however,
permitting them to be involved in insurance, insurance
brokerage or professional advisory activities. -- Edith
Oltay, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERBS PLAY CAT-AND-MOUSE WITH UNPROFOR.
The Los Angeles Times reports on 16 January that "gunmen
loyal to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic tricked
French peacekeepers for the second straight day into
opening a front-line crossing for their traffic, then
forced UN soldiers to close it once it was time for
Bosnian government loyalists to pass." AFP said on 15
January that the ostensible issue centers on conflicting
interpretations by government and Serbian officials as to
what kinds of traffic are permitted to pass on the
Sarajevo airport road. UN commander General Sir Michael
Rose held talks over the weekend both with Bosnian Serb
General Ratko Mladic and with Karadzic, but to no avail.
Mladic instead told Rose that the UN should not try to
move men or supplies across Serb-held territory into UN-
designated "safe areas" because the roads are not safe in
winter weather, despite the fact that the UN provided the
Serbs with fuel for snowplows. Meanwhile, the BBC on 16
January quotes a London daily as saying that Rose earlier
planned to give Bosnian Serbs copies of NATO flight plans
for Bosnia as a "confidence-building measure," but that
NATO did not agree and now no longer provides such
information to the UN. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

MORE DEAD AND WOUNDED IN BIHAC. International media
report on 16 January that at least seven civilians were
killed and more wounded in the UN-declared "safe area"
over the weekend. A UN spokesman called the attacks from
Bosnian Serb or Krajina Serb artillery "outrageous" and
"murder," but the BBC added that Bosnian government
forces were nonetheless able to make some gains on the
ground. Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, Reuters on 14
January said that the Contact Group's diplomats are
continuing their "exploratory exercise" regarding a
revised peace plan and met with the Bosnian government
leadership on that day. In other developments, AFP said
that Belgium has withdrawn 130 peacekeepers as planned
despite pleas from the UN for them to stay, and that
Jordan is also preparing for a pull-out. In Zagreb, the
government-controlled daily Vjesnik on 16 January is
continuing a series of attacks on Bosnian Prime Minister
Haris Silajdzic. Finally, international media reported
from Manila on 15 January that Pope John Paul II again
issued a plea for peace in Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore,
OMRI, Inc.

WHISTLING IN THE DARK IN CROATIA? The Croatian
government and media launched a campaign over the weekend
to promote popular support for President Franjo Tudjman's
decision not to extend UNPROFOR's mandate when it runs
out at the end of March. Statements by Tudjman and others
stress three key themes: that Croatia had no choice but
to ask the 12,000 peacekeepers to leave, that the move
will not mean the start of a new war, and that it will
instead help promote an early peaceful settlement.
Reuters on 15 January reported that any military activity
would most likely be limited to raids, and that Tudjman
made his decision for domestic political reasons despite
strong international pressure to let the UN remain. One
diplomat said that "Tudjman had to do this in order to
stay in power, it's as simple as that." There is
widespread feeling in Croatia that UNPROFOR's presence
has simply served to protect rebel Serbs' control of one-
third of the country and prevent 300,000 refugees from
returning home. Nonetheless, Borba on 16 January runs the
headline: "Fear of a New War." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
Inc.

WHY IS BORBA UNDER SIEGE? Independent Borba's
weekend issue of 14-15 January features a series of
articles on the media in post-communist countries
throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
One item explores the plight of the independent Borba,
and the ongoing government crackdown and efforts to
silence the Belgrade daily. While the author states it is
difficult to say precisely what motivates Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic and his cronies to undertake
any course of action, there is speculation that, like all
authoritarian and dictatorial rulers, he is ultimately
incapable of tolerating independent and critical media.
It is also speculated that Borba's propensity to report
on developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, information
about which Milosevic has shown he wants to control and
vet carefully, prompted the timing of the current attack.
-- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

CONSTANTINESCU TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Emil
Constantinescu, chairman of the Democratic Convention of
Romania, the country's main opposition umbrella
organization, announced at a press conference on 13
January his intention to run for president in 1996.
Constantinescu, who lost to President Ion Iliescu in
1992, said he is running again because he feels a
responsibility to the five million Romanians who voted
for him in the previous elections. He further said that
he wants the DCR to choose its candidate by 28 February
to allow the election campaign to start early. Other
leading figures in the CDR, however, criticized
Constantinescu's decision and said they opposed his
renewed candidacy. Sergiu Cunescu, leader of the Romanian
Social-Democratic Party, accused Constantinescu of having
failed to consult other CDR leaders on the issue of a
joint presidential candidate for the alliance. Ludovic
Orban, a spokesman for the Liberal Party 1993, described
Constantinescu's announcement as a "mere proposal" whose
chances of being accepted by other parties in the CDR
were rather slim. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

DEPORTATION OF ROMANIA'S GERMANS COMMEMORATED.
Ethnic Germans in Romania on 13 and 14 January
commemorated the 50th anniversary of their mass
deportation to the former Soviet Union ordered by the
Soviet occupation authorities in early 1945. At a meeting
with representatives of the German Democratic Forum of
Romania in Brasov, Romanian President Ion Iliescu said on
12 January that the deportation had been a
"discriminatory and condemnable" act imposed by the
Soviet Union. Radio Bucharest quoted him as further
saying that the action had been supported by the Soviet
Union's Western allies in World War II. Some 70,000
Germans from Romania were sent to forced labor camps in
the Ukraine and the Ural mountains area after the war;
some 15% died there because of particularly hard living
conditions. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS NOMINATE VIDENOV AS PRIME
MINISTER. The Bulgarian Socialist Party on 14 January
nominated Chairman Zhan Videnov to head the new
government, international news agencies reported the same
day. Videnov was the only candidate at a meeting of the
party's leadership and deputies. Under the constitution,
the president asks the candidate of the strongest party
to form a government, which then must be presented within
seven days. Videnov is a 35-year-old economist trained in
Moscow who took over leadership of the BSP three years
ago, and will meet with President Zhelyu Zhelev on 16
January. The new government will be formed by the BSP and
its coalition partners, the Bulgarian Agrarian People's
Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" and the political club
Ekoglasnost, Duma reported on 16 January.-- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.

GREEK PRIME MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH
NEIGHBORS. Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou will
stick to his tough line in relations with Turkey,
Macedonia and Albania, Reuters reported on 15 January,
citing an interview published in the Greek newspaper
Kathimerini the same day. Papandreou charged Turkey with
violating Greek airspace and threatening war if Greece
should extend its territorial waters to 12 miles. He also
warned Macedonia that the Greek embargo against that
country would stay in force whatever the European Court
decides. The court is expected to rule in February on the
legality of the Greek trade embargo imposed in February
1994. Greece wants Macedonia to change its name and
symbols, saying they are historically Greek and hence
Athens regards them as an expression of territorial
ambitions against Greece. On Albania, Papandreou said
that relations will not improve until four ethnic Greeks
jailed for espionage last year are freed. As a goodwill
gesture Greece meanwhile stopped blocking a EU aid
package for Albania. The prime minister noted, however,
that this aid was far less than the $300 million in
remittances that Albania gets every year from its
citizens working in Greece. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

NANO HEARD IN ALBANIAN BANK SCANDAL TRIAL. The
leader of the Socialist Party, Fatos Nano, used his
testimony in the trial of four former high-ranking bank
officials and former socialist Prime Minister Vilson
Ahmeti to attack the current Albanian government, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 15 January. The five officials are
charged with misappropriating $1.2 million, which was
paid in 1991 to Nicola Arsidi, a French citizen, who was
employed by the Albanian Ministry for Foreign Trade to
negotiate forgiveness of Albania's foreign debts.
According to Gazeta Shqiptare, Nano's testimony did not
present any new evidence. Nano, who was Ahmeti's
predecessor and heard as a defense witness, said that he
never met Arsidi and was not involved in negotiations
with him. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Steve Kettle

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news
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1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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Updated: 1998-11-

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