OMRI Daily Digest 23 March 1995
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 59
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. 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.
23 March 1995
Table of Contents
NEW MOSCOW PROSECUTOR APPOINTED. Moscow First Deputy Prosecutor Sergei
Gerasimov has been picked to succeed his former boss, Gennady Ponomarev, as
city prosecutor, Russian Radio reported on 22 March. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov
and acting Prosecutor General Alexei Ilyushenko approved Gerasimov's
appointment, which was suggested by Ponomarev. Ponomarev was sacked on 7 March
in the aftermath of the 1 March murder of Vladislav Listev. Gerasimov resigned
to protest Ponomarev's dismissal, but his resignation was not accepted. Yeltsin
first proposed Deputy Prosecutor General Oleg Gaidanov to replace Ponomarev,
but Mayor Yury Luzhkov refused to approve the appointment. -- Laura Belin,
DUMA DEBATES STATE OF NATIONALITIES IN RUSSIA. During a debate on 21 March,
the State Duma described the condition of non-Russian ethnic groups living in
Russia, as a "crisis," Russian television reported. At the hearings, the
Committee for Inter-Ethnic Relations presented a set of recommendations asking
the president and government to distance themselves from proposals to abolish
ethnically-defined administrative entities in the Russian Federation since such
a move would destabilize relations between different ethnic groups, Interfax
reported. There are currently 21 ethnically-defined republics. The committee
also recommended suspending privatization of land in areas with a mixed
population and traditions of communal land use as well as a greater government
role in preventing specific ethnic groups from gaining a monopoly on the
privatization of land. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
SHAKHRAI CALLS FOR REFORM OF FEDERAL SYSTEM. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Shakhrai has proposed that federal and local administrative bodies be
reorganized and that the number of regional subdivisions of the federal
ministries be reduced, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 23 March. He
argued that there is a management vacuum because the federal ministries
continue to send out orders to local enterprises, but those enterprises have
become independent and no longer listen. When producers have problems, they
often turn to local authorities for help, but those officials have no resources
to provide. The result is a drop in output and a collapse of social
infrastructure. The deputy prime minister suggested that a consolidation of
federal bodies in the regions and republics would make them more responsive to
local conditions. He asserts that a streamlined federal government might even
have prevented the rise of Dzhokhar Dudaev in Chechnya by using federal
resources more efficiently. Shakhrai also advocated stronger ties between the
regions "on a horizontal level" without federal participation. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
NEW GRACHEV ULTIMATUM TO DUDAEV'S FORCES IN ARGUN. Speaking in Tbilisi on 2
March before traveling to Armenia for talks with President Levon
Ter-Petrossyan, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev called on Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev's forces now surrounded in the town of Argun to
surrender unconditionally, Interfax reported. Grachev again accused unnamed
organizations in Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan of channeling
financial and military support to Dudaev. Also on 22 March, Interfax quoted
Russian State Duma deputy Lev Ponomarev, who met with Dudaev in Chechnya on 20
March, as affirming that the Chechen president is aware that he is losing
control over the situation in Chechnya and is prepared to accept an offer by
Russian Federation Council Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov for
unconditional talks on a settlement of the Chechen conflict. -- Liz Fuller,
DUMA OUTRAGED BY ZHIRI-NOVSKY CITIZENSHIP PROPOSAL. The Duma has rejected
an amendment to Russia's citizenship law that would have allowed discrimination
on the basis of nationality, AFP and Interfax reported on 22 March. Liberal
Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky proposed the amendment to allow
ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics to claim Russian citizenship
without waiting six months, as is required of other ethnic groups. Duma speaker
Ivan Rybkin initially refused to call a vote on the amendment, which he said
contradicted "the fundamental articles of the Russian constitution." Only 50
deputies, including 39 from the LDP, voted in favor of the amendment. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES 1995 BUDGET. The Federation Council approved
the anti-inflation, pro-market reform budget for 1995 on 23 March, Russian and
Western agencies reported. It passed with 99 votes for, 24 against, and six
abstentions. The budget must now be submitted to President Boris Yeltsin within
five days. He has 14 days to sign it, but is expected to do so without delay.
The document projects spending of 248.34 trillion rubles ($52 billion at
current exchange rates) and revenues of 175.16 trillion rubles ($37 billion)
for a deficit of 73.18 trillion rubles ($15.4 billion), equivalent to 7.7% of
GDP. Passing and adhering to a tight 1995 budget have been key conditions the
government had to meet in order to receive a $6.4 billion standby loan from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), which will be used to offset the deficit.
Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov said, "Today is a good day for everyone."
Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin said Russia's economy is emerging from years
of crisis and projects growth by 1997 if current policies continue. On 20
March, he said the annual inflation rate is expected to fall to 15-20% in 1996
or 1997, from about 300% last year. Meanwhile, the key goal for 1995 remains
financial stabilization. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
WESTERN UNION STARTS RUBLE TRANSFERS. The U.S. company Western Union has
launched a ruble transfer service inside Russia, Interfax reported on 22 March.
A spokesman for the company, which specializes in international cash transfers,
said it plans to open branches in all Russian cities with a population of more
than 500,000 in 1995-96. More than 100 branches, which are usually in
commercial banks, have already been opened in Russia and other CIS member
states. Western Union entered the Russian market in 1992. The commission for
ruble and hard currency transfers, which will be carried out by branches in
Rossiysky Kredit and Mezhekonomsberbank offices in 10 Russian cities, will be
9% of the sum transferred. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
MAIN ECONOMIC INDICATORS PUBLISHED. Goskomstat, Russia's State Statistics
Committee, has released key economic indicators for January and February 1995,
Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported on 22 March. GNP was down 4%; industrial
production fell 2.7%; foreign trade was up 4%; real incomes were down 4%. While
January inflation was close to 18%, in February it dropped to 11%. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
EMIGRATION FROM RUSSIA SLOWS. Only 680 Russians went abroad for good in the
first two months of 1995 as compared with 1,200 during the same period of 1994,
Interfax reported on 22 March. According to Igor Kochetkov, an official of the
visa and registration department (UVIR), the United States and Germany were the
most popular destinations. Kochetkov added that emigration would probably be
higher if the West had not toughened its immigration policy. On the same day,
UVIR head Sergei Alpatov said the department had granted more than a million
passports for travel abroad by 1 January 1995. He expressed concern at the
growing number of commercial enterprises offering foreign passports, pointing
out that it is illegal and a form of fraud. In order to save time, he said
people pay "dubious firms up to $200 for fraudulent passports, which are quite
often seized at the border." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
CHRISTOPHER REJECTS EXPANDED ROLE FOR RUSSIA IN G-7. In talks with Russian
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 22 March, U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher rejected a request for President Yeltsin to have an expanded role
at the G-7 summit in June, international agencies reported. Speaking before the
meeting, Christopher ruled out any aid cut-off to Russia, noting such an action
would hurt Americans "at least as much or more than we hurt the Russians."
Christopher and Kozyrev discussed NATO expansion but the Russians provided no
formal response to the letter on NATO-Russian relations which U.S. President
Bill Clinton has sent to Yeltsin. Kozyrev assured Christopher that the Russian
parliament would ratify START-2. Some progress was made on the issue of Russian
conventional arms sales to Iran but Christopher and Kozyrev were scheduled take
up the more contentious issue of Russian aid to the Iranian nuclear program on
23 March. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA
KAZAKH PRESIDENT DRIFTS TOWARD AUTHORITARIANISM. Following the disbanding
of the Kazakh parliament, President Nursultan Nazarbaev has wasted little time
in issuing new decrees. Nazarbaev has often said he would make the fight
against crime one of his priorities and on 18 March, at a conference of law
enforcement agencies, he said, "The Interior Ministry's daily reports look like
front-line dispatches," according to Interfax. However, going beyond talk of a
war on organized crime and drug trafficking, some of his more recent decrees
have included restrictions on advertising, compulsory psychiatric treatment for
alcoholics and the insane, and the need for advance permission to go on hunger
strikes. Newspaper editors claim the restrictions on advertising could bankrupt
Kazakhstan's independent press and at least one diplomat is quoted as saying,
"What really makes me jump is the introduction of psychiatric treatment for
people who are deranged, but who defines it?" Reuters reported. -- Bruce
Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
MOUNTING CONCERN OVER TURKISH INCURSION INTO IRAQ. Growing concern is being
expressed by the international community over Turkey's military incursion into
Iraq, international news agencies reported on 22 and 23 March. Although the
European Union has not taken a position, several key members including France,
Germany, and Britain have expressed their concerns publicly. Sweden and Denmark
have also been critical and Norway has banned arms exports to Turkey. U.S.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in an attempt to close a growing rift
among NATO members, said Washington has received assurances that the scope and
duration of the operation will be limited. Iraq, which had remained silent
until now, protested Turkey's violation of Iraqi sovereignty and demanded a
withdrawal of Turkish troops on 22 March. Meanwhile, the same day unnamed
military analysts cited by Reuters claimed the big show of force involved is
likely to yield little against the hardened, highly mobile Kurdish guerrillas.
A retired Turkish military officer was quoted as saying the incursion was a
"disaster." -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
PROGRESS ON ARMENIAN CONSTITUTION? After more than four years of heated
discussion and amendments, the new draft Armenian Constitution is now ready for
submission to the legislature, parliamentary press secretary Vahan Mkrtchyan
told Interfax on 22 March. Contrary to the parliamentary opposition's
insistence, rather than having parliament endorse it, a national referendum on
adopting the constitution has been planned. The draft "strengthens the role of
the centralized state" but at the same time gives parliament the right to pass
a vote of no-confidence in the president and to impeach him should he violate
the country's national security interests. The president may disband parliament
one year after its election. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT IN BAKU COUP? Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's
charges that the intelligence services of unspecified foreign powers were
involved in last week's failed coup attempt in Baku have been echoed by an
unconfirmed Turan News Agency report on 22 March. Turan quoted National
Security Minister Namik Abbasov as stating on 19 March that a group of
individuals carrying documentation identifying them as Russian special services
operatives had been killed during fighting at the OPON base in Baku two days
earlier. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
CRIMEAN LEGISLATORS OUST PRIME MINISTER. The Crimean parliament on 22 March
voted to dismiss Prime Minister Anatolii Franchuk and Deputy Prime Minister
Andrii Senchenko, Western and Ukrainian news agencies reported the same day.
Both were appointed last year by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. Deputies
charged Franchuk with being too sympathetic to Kiev's demands and voted to
replace him with Agriculture Minister Anatolii Drobotov, who in his acceptance
speech appealed to Crimean legislators to end their internal political
squabbling and get down to drafting a new Crimean Constitution by mid-May, as
ordered by Ukraine. Deputy Premier Arkadii Demydenko announced after the vote
that the rest of the government was resigning. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Justice
Ministry issued a statement calling the Crimean move illegal and stressing the
power to dismiss the Crimean premier lies with the Ukrainian parliament. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN DUMA ISSUES STATEMENT ON CRIMEA. Interfax on 22 March reported that
the State Duma voted by 260 to five to issue a statement saying it was
seriously concerned about the future of Russian-Ukrainian relations following
Kiev's 17 March decision to abolish the Crimean Constitution and presidency.
ITAR-TASS the previous day reported that Crimean President Yurii Meshkov wrote
to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the Russian parliament, and the people of
Russia asking that pressure be put on Kiev to conclude a treaty with the
Republic of Crimea in accordance with the Crimean Constitution. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO 1995 BUDGET. The Ukrainian
legislature on 22 March voted by 232 to 81 to give preliminary approval to the
1995 budget, Reuters and AFP reported the same day. The move brings Ukraine one
step closer to clinching a $1.8 billion stand-by loan from the IMF for economic
reform. The budget foresees a budget deficit of 7.3% of GDP, or 3.5% by Western
calculations. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Ihor Mityukov told
UNIAN on 22 March that an agreement has been reached in principle by Ukraine's
donor countries to provide Kiev with a $5.5 billion assistance package in 1995.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak and Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUS ELECTION UPDATE. Interfax on 22 March quoted Alyaksandr Abramovich,
the head of the Central Electoral Commission, as saying the elections are in
danger of being canceled because the government has not released the necessary
funds for the vote to take place. Unpaid electoral staff have responded by
refusing to check signatures on candidates' support lists. Belarusian Radio
reports that among those running for deputies seats are former Prime Minister
Vyacheslau Kebich, former Defense Minister Pavel Kazlouski, Chairman of the
National Bank of Belarus Stanislau Bahdankevich, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet
Mechyslau Hryb, and KGB head Uladzimir Yahorau. The nationalist opposition
plans to run candidates in every district, while the Green and environmental
parties are collecting signatures for some 35 candidates. -- Ustina Markus,
BELARUS, LATVIA AGREEMENT ON AGRICULTURAL COOPERATION. Latvian and Belarus
Agriculture Ministers Arijs Udris and Vasili Leonau signed a interministerial
cooperation agreement on 23 March, BNS reported. The agreement provides a legal
basis for cooperation in the veterinary, breeding, and agricultural
mechanization spheres. The ministers also discussed exporting Belarusian
mineral fertilizers from Latvian ports, especially potassium through
Ventspilis. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
COALITION TALKS IN ESTONIA. Tiit Vahi, chairman of the Coalition Party and
Rural Union alliance (KMU), which won 41 of the 101 seats in the Estonian
parliament, on 22 March said that his party was abandoning its hopes for a
government alliance with the Reform Party (19 deputies) and turning to the
Center Party (16 deputies) instead, BNS reported. Vahi noted that the KMU is
allied with the Rightists (5 deputies). But the strength of this alliance is
unclear: in the vote for deputy parliament chairmen on 21 March, the Rightists
did not back Rural Union Chairman Arnold Ruutel. As a result, Center Party
Chairman Edgar Savisaar was elected first deputy chairman and Ruutel second
deputy chairman. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT DEP-UTY CHAIRMAN. A
statement, signed by 36 Seimas deputies, calling for a no-confidence vote in
parliament deputy chairman Juozas Bernatonis was submitted to chairman Ceslovas
Jursenas on 21 March. The deputies charge that Bernatonis violated the
constitution by unilaterally adjourning the Seimas session on 12 March before a
vote on a resolution on Chechnya could be taken. Bernatonis on 22 March said he
had acted properly and would explain his action when the Seimas discusses his
fate in April. Jursenas is to visit Spain and Portugal from 26-31 March, BNS
reported. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
CHURCH-STATE CONFUSION IN POLAND. The Constitutional Commission has again
postponed (until 4 April) a decision on the shape of Church-state relations in
the draft constitution. Commission Chairman Aleksander Kwasniewski told that
body on 21 March that he had reached agreement with Church officials. The
compromise, as reported by Gazeta Wyborcza the next day, said that: "The
state, Churches, and religious denominations are autonomous and independent in
their spheres" (a concession to the Church) and "Churches and religious
denominations do not participate in the exercise of state authority" (a
concession to the Democratic Left Alliance [SLD] and other left-wing parties).
The controversial phrases "separation" and "neutral worldview" were to be
omitted, and the constitution would state that "public authorities maintain
neutrality in questions of religion or worldview." But Bishop Episcopate
Secretary Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek denied on 22 March that agreement had been
reached, saying "neutrality" could lead to the propagation of atheism. --
Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
FORMER POLISH LABOR MINISTER LEADS FREEDOM UNION RANKING. Jacek Kuron has
won first-place votes from 2,385 members of the Freedom Union (UW) in the straw
poll that is to guide the party in its choice of presidential candidate,
Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Former Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka came
second with 1,024 first-place votes, followed by former Defense Minister Janusz
Onyszkiewicz with 799, Civil Rights Spokesman Tadeusz Zielinski (who has
withdrawn his name from consideration) with 582, and Supreme Court Chairman
Adam Strzembosz with 249. The vote is non-binding, and UW leaders are believed
to favor Suchocka's candidacy, as she is more acceptable to right-of-center and
Catholic voters. But Kuron's stronger popularity among the rank-and-file UW
members will give him a persuasive argument at the party's congress on 1-2
April, when the final choice will be made. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH GOVERNMENT TO TIGHT-EN CONTROLS ON SECURITY FIRMS. The Czech
government on 22 March approved plans to tighten controls on private security
firms. Interior Minister Jan Ruml told reporters after a cabinet meeting that
the country has some 3,000 such firms, employing between 40,000 and 60,000
people. At present, there are few restrictions on founding a security firm or
private detective agency, many of which are believed to be run by former
members of the communist police and security forces. Several instances of
security firm employees using violence against innocent citizens have been
reported. Under a draft law approved by the government, every firm will need a
special license from the Interior Ministry, and owners of security agencies
will have to prove they are reliable, Czech media report. There will also be
controls on employees of security firms carrying weapons. -- Steve Kettle,
SLOVAKIA PLANS TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS. Transportation and
Communications Minister Alexander Rezes on 22 March announced that projects
will be accelerated in the sectors overseen by his ministry, Narodna
obroda and TASR report. He noted that the country's highway network will be
completed by 2005, 15 years earlier than planned. Other projects include the
transformation of the railway system by 2000 (to include an express railway
line between Kosice and Bratislava); meeting current European standards in
telecommunications by 2000; building an international reputation for
Bratislava's Stefanik airport; and the development of stronger ties between the
Vienna and Bratislava airports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
NEW PRIVATE TV STATION IN SLOVAKIA? The Board for Television and Radio
Broadcasting on 21 March recommended that Markiza Blatne, Inc. receive a
license for Slovakia's third terrestrial channel (TA 3), Pravda reports.
The nine-member board includes only two representatives of the parliament
opposition. Three other companies competed for the license: TV Sever (which
already has a regional license in Zilina), MAC TV, and TV 3 Slovakia (a Swedish
joint venture). The holder of the license will have 360 days to start
broadcasting, and the channel is expected to eventually reach 65% of the
population. The board also recommended the firm VTV Cable, Zarnovica for a
satellite broadcasting license. The parliament is expected to make a final
decision on the licenses in May. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN HUNGARY. Thousands of students demonstrated in
Budapest and throughout the country on 22 March to protest government plans to
introduce tuition fees for higher education from September, one year earlier
than planned, MTI reports. Student representatives handed Finance Minister
Lajos Bokros a statement criticizing the decision as unjust and inadequately
thought out. Bokros told the students that the introduction of the tuition fees
was necessary to save the country from bankruptcy. Several opposition parties,
together with the youth group of the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party,
expressed their support for the students. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
FIGHTING CONTINUES NEAR TUZLA. International media reported on 23 March
that Bosnian government forces are continuing their offensive around Tuzla. The
Majevica hills to the northeast of the town and Kalesija to the southeast are
at the center of a drive to cut Serbian land and electronic communications.
Elsewhere, Serbs hijacked three UN armored vehicles near Sarajevo and to the
east of the capital. UN spokesmen said their captured hardware often resurfaces
at Bosnian Serb headquarters in Pale with fresh camouflage paint. In Pale,
Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic warned that "until now . . . we've only been
defending ourselves and we still haven't ordered a counteroffensive." Finally,
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters after a meeting with U.S.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher: "War is on the point of erupting again
in Bosnia." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
FATE OF BOSNIAN CROAT GENERAL STILL UNCLEAR. Slobodna Dalmacija on
23 March reports that the Muslims have arrested three of their own military
police for the supposed abduction and murder near Bihac on 8 March of Bosnian
Croat General Vlado Santic. Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic has sent his
condolences to the Croats. The Split daily claims, however, that he is still
alive and argues that the only thing that is clear is that nothing is really
known for sure. The incident threatens to trouble the Muslim-Croatian alliance,
even though there may have been personal or commercial, rather than political
or military, reasons behind the general's drunken argument with Muslims in a
bar two weeks ago. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIA'S FERAL TRIBUNE WINS TAX FIGHT. Hina on 22 March reported
that the Croatian Constitutional Court threw out a government-imposed sales tax
on the independent satirical weekly Feral Tribune. The former culture
minister slapped a stiff pornography tax on the Split newspaper last July, a
decision that a lower court upheld. Feral Tribune often tests the
boundaries of good taste but is no more pornographic than some mass-circulation
periodicals run by the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). Its real
offense in government eyes was to be a merciless critic of the HDZ and
President Franjo Tudjman in particular. The pornography tax was considered by
many as evidence of the HDZ's desire to quash what little remains of a free
press. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
ANOTHER ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR ARKAN. International media reported on 22
March that following a formal request from Croatian authorities, Interpol has
issued an warrant for the arrest of accused war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic,
alias Arkan. Based in Serbia's Kosovo province, Arkan is the leader of the
notorious paramilitary "Tigers," alleged to be responsible for some of the
fiercest ethnic cleansing campaigns throughout the former Yugoslavia. This
latest warrant charges Arkan with genocide. Croatian Interpol officials said
earlier warrants issued at Holland, Sweden, and Germany's request have expired.
-- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
KOSOVO UPDATE. Public prosecutors in Pristina announced that the trials of
nine of the 200 ethnic Albanian former policemen arrested in November 1994 will
begin on 5 April, Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service reported on 22
March. The Albanians are charged with creating a Kosovar shadow state Defense
Ministry and with "endangering the integrity of Yugoslavia." The trial of
ethnic Albanians accused of forming a shadow state police force in Pec will
also begin in April. Meanwhile, Albanian President Sali Berisha called for a
dialogue between Albania and Serbia, adding that the Albanian government
supports the autonomy of Kosovo. That statement implies that Albania has
dropped its demand of an independent Republic of Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt,
PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION OF ROMANIA RE-ELECTED. Emil
Constantinescu on 22 March was re-elected president of the Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR), Romanian Television reported. He received 13 of
the 17 votes of the convention's electoral body, composed of its Executive
Committee and Steering Council. The other two contenders were Deputy Chairman
of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) Ion Ratiu and
President of the Democratic Unity Party Nicu Stancescu. The PNTCD backed
Constantinescu, rather than Ratiu, who ran as the candidate of the World Union
of Free Romanians. The CDR is in a crisis following the decision of several
member parties not to sign the convention's revised protocols. Those parties
have since been expelled from the alliance. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN LEADERS ON STUDENTS' PROTEST. Moldovan parliament chairman Petru
Lucinschi said students protesting in Chisinau against the directive to replace
courses on the history of Romanians with one on Moldovan history were
"extremists" who had also burned Moldovan history books. Citing ITAR-TASS,
Romanian Television on 22 March reported that Lucinschi called on the
demonstrators to respect the country's constitution, stop their protests, and
begin negotiations with the authorities. Parliament deputy chairman Nicolae
Andronic said that there were forces behind the student demonstrations who
aimed at Moldova's destabilization. He commented that the demonstrations offer
separatists the opportunity to accuse Chisinau of "pro-Romanian leanings" on
the eve of a referendum in the Dniester Republic on the withdrawal of the
Russian 14th Army. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIA'S LARGE-SCALE PRI-VATIZATION TO BEGIN IN 1995. Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 22 March
announced that the large-scale privatization of state-owned enterprises will
start by the end of 1995, dpa reported the same day. Some 150 large enterprises
will be privatized, partly by direct sales and partly through a voucher system.
The vouchers will have a nominal value of 500 leva ($7.50) each, and their
total value will be 100 billion leva ($1.5 billion). Voucher owners will be
able to exchange the vouchers for shares, which can then be traded on the stock
exchange. Gechev expects 4 million Bulgarian citizens to participate in the
coupon privatization. He said Bulgarian and foreign investors will be treated
equally. Privatization by direct sales, which started in 1992, will continue,
although it has not been successful to date. Enterprises in the
military-industrial complex and public utilities are excluded from
privatization. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR BROAD PRIVATIZATION. Sali Berisha, at a press
conference marking the third anniversary of the Democratic Party's election
victory over the Socialists, said his government plans to create the most
liberal standards for investments in the Balkans to attract foreign capital,
international agencies reported on 22 March. He said he was "in favor of total
privatization in industry and agriculture," noting that the private sector
currently accounts for 55% of GNP. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
EU RELEASES FINANCIAL AID TO ALBANIA. The European Commission has decided
to release the first installment, worth $19.3 million, of a $45 million aid
package to Albania, following its assessment that Albania has begun the
economic and political reforms demanded by the IMF. The Albanian Finance
Ministry presented the 1995 budget after consultations with the fund in
mid-March. The release of the remaining $25.7 million will depend on Albania's
human rights and economic record, Reuters reported on 22 March. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave
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