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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 27, 01-02-08

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 5, No. 27, 8 February 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] COMMISSION UNVEILS PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO ARMENIAN CONSTITUTION
  • [02] ARMENIA, RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT ON ENERGY DEBTS
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS TURKISH INTERVIEW WITH ARMENIAN PRESIDENT
  • [04] IRAN AGAIN DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN MURDER OF AZERBAIJANI HISTORIAN
  • [05] SOME AZERBAIJANI WAR INVALIDS END HUNGER-STRIKE
  • [06] NEW PROTEST AGAINST POWER OUTAGES IN GEORGIA
  • [07] EMBATTLED GEORGIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL RESIGNS
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN TO DRAFT OIL, GAS EXPORT STRATEGY
  • [09] KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADERS CRITICIZE OSCE
  • [10] NEW CRIMINAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN
  • [11] KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST APPLIES FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM IN AUSTRIA
  • [12] TURKMEN PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE TREATED WITH PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS
  • [13] UZBEK-SOUTH KOREAN AUTO JOINT VENTURE TO INCREASE PRODUCTION

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT BLOCKS NATIONALIST PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE
  • [15] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER DENIES PLAN TO EXPEL U.S. ENVOY
  • [16] CROATIAN COURT WANTS GENERAL INVESTIGATED FOR WAR CRIMES
  • [17] BELGRADE RULES OUT AUTONOMY FOR PRESEVO
  • [18] PRESEVO ALBANIANS SET CONDITIONS FOR TALKS
  • [19] NATO WANTS MEDIATOR FOR PRESEVO
  • [20] WARM SERBIAN RECEPTION FOR RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER...
  • [21] ...WHO EXPRESSES HIS VIEWS
  • [22] HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CALLS FOR EU TO LINK SERBIAN AID TO HAGUE COOPERATION
  • [23] YUGOSLAV MINISTER WANTS KOSOVA CONFERENCE
  • [24] FOR WHOM DOES VEDRINE SPEAK ON MONTENEGRO?
  • [25] SERBIA TO SET UP CUSTOMS BORDER WITH MONTENEGRO?
  • [26] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO PROMULGATE CONTROVERSIAL LAW
  • [27] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY OPPOSES HUNGARIAN DEMAND
  • [28] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES ON RESTITUTION LAW
  • [29] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT CONFIRMS NEW INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF
  • [30] COMPLAINTS REJECTED AGAINST PREMIER'S ALLIANCE IN MOLDOVA
  • [31] MOLDOVAN PARTY'S ELECTORAL SPENDING TO BE CHECKED
  • [32] SNEGUR SAYS RUSSIA MUST BE FORCED OUT THE TRANSDNIESTER BY THE OSCE
  • [33] BULGARIAN RADIO JOURNALISTS THREATEN TO LAUNCH STRIKE
  • [34] MILITARY INDUSTRY WORKERS DEMONSTRATE IN SOFIA
  • [35] AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED OVER BULGARIANS' LIBYAN TRIAL

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [36] There is no end note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] COMMISSION UNVEILS PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO ARMENIAN CONSTITUTION

    The presidential commission for constitutional reform established in July 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August 1999) unveiled its proposals in Yerevan on 6 February, AFP and Noyan Tapan reported. Commission and Constitutional Court member Feliks Tokhian said that if adopted, the proposals would change almost half the articles of the present constitution to bring them into line with international standards. Specifically, the proposed changes give greater independence to the government and the judiciary and guarantee the neutrality of the armed forces. Tokhian said that as some political forces are likely to object to some of the proposed changes, it is unlikely that the amendments will be put to a nation-wide referendum before the end of the year. LF

    [02] ARMENIA, RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT ON ENERGY DEBTS

    Armenian Energy Minister Karen Galustian said in Yerevan on 7 February that during recent talks in Moscow he reached agreement with the Russian side on a new schedule for the repayment of Armenia's total $23 million debt for natural gas and nuclear fuel for the Medzamor atomic power station, AFP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 2001). Under that agreement, the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry will resume shipments of nuclear fuel for Medzamor in 5-6 months. Medzamor is to shut down for two months for scheduled maintenance in late May or early June 2001. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS TURKISH INTERVIEW WITH ARMENIAN PRESIDENT

    In a statement published in the "Turkish Daily News" on 8 February, the Azerbaijani embassy in Ankara criticized as "pro-Armenian propaganda" an interview with Armenian President Robert Kocharian published in that newspaper on 1 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 2001). The Azerbaijani embassy castigated the Turkish journalist who conducted the interview for failing to ask Kocharian "why he was pursuing a policy of occupation, why he has not withdrawn from Azerbaijani soil and why he has turned Armenia into a giant arsenal." The statement further noted that while "Turkey has always been well-intentioned" towards Armenia, Armenians "are constantly hostile towards Turkey." It also claimed that Armenia has bought from Russia S-300 missiles that are targeted on Turkish cities. LF

    [04] IRAN AGAIN DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN MURDER OF AZERBAIJANI HISTORIAN

    Speaking at a press conference in Baku on 6 February, Iranian Ambassador Ahad Gazai denied any Iranian involvement in the murder four years ago of historian Zia Buniatov, Turan reported. The Iranian Embassy in Baku had issued a similar denial last fall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 2000). Seven men identified as members of an Iranian organization named Vilayet al- Fagikh Hizbollah went on trial in Baku late last month for that killing. LF

    [05] SOME AZERBAIJANI WAR INVALIDS END HUNGER-STRIKE

    Most of the 2,000 veterans of the Karabakh war who joined a mass hunger- strike in towns across Azerbaijan to demand an increase in their pensions have ended that protest, Turan reported on 8 February. The chairman of the society representing the invalids, Etimad Asadov, said that they interpret the 7 February statement by Finance Minister Avaz Alekperov that those allowances may be raised subject to an increase in budget revenues as a concession, and have ended the strike to avoid charges that they are pressuring the authorities. Some 60 invalids are, however, continuing their strike in the society's Baku headquarters to demand the creation of a commission to assess their demands. LF

    [06] NEW PROTEST AGAINST POWER OUTAGES IN GEORGIA

    Hundreds of people staged a street protest in Tbilisi on 7 February against ongoing electricity shortages, calling on President Eduard Shevardnadze to resign if he is unable to guarantee uninterrupted power supplies, AP reported. Also on 7 February, the Russian-Georgian "Kavkasioni" power line that connects the two countries' power grids was blown up in Abkhazia's Kodori gorge, Caucasus Press reported. A spokesman for the Georgian Ministry of Fuel and Energy said the saboteurs are demanding a large sum of money from local officials in return for allowing engineers to repair the damage. LF

    [07] EMBATTLED GEORGIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL RESIGNS

    Djamlet Babilashvili formally asked on 8 February to be released of his duties as prosecutor-general, one month before the expiry of his term in office on 5 March, Caucasus Press reported. Parliament deputies launched a campaign late last year to impeach Babilashvili for overstepping his official powers (see upcoming "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 6, 9 February 2001). LF

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN TO DRAFT OIL, GAS EXPORT STRATEGY

    Kazakhstan's First Deputy Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov told journalists in Almaty on 7 February that the country will draft by the end of June a strategy determining how much natural gas and oil is to be exported between now and 2010 and to which countries, and how much is needed for domestic consumption, Interfax reported. Addressing representatives of domestic and foreign oil companies the same day, Akhmetov said the Kazakh government hopes to persuade foreign companies to use domestic rather than imported goods and services. He further criticized the Chinese National Oil Corporation for violating the terms of its agreement with the Kazakh government by hiring Chinese rather than Kazakh specialists to work at the AqtobeMunaiGaz oil complex. (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April and 16 August 2000). LF

    [09] KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADERS CRITICIZE OSCE

    Azamat Party chairman Petr Svoik and National Congress Party deputy chairwoman Gulzhan Ergalieva held a joint press conference on 7 February in Almaty at which they criticized the OSCE mission for the conduct of two roundtable discussions of the political situation in Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. They said the most recent of those discussions, which focused on the election laws, was inconclusive (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 2 February 2001). They also called for the resignation of Central Electoral Commission chairwoman Zaghipa Balieva. LF

    [10] NEW CRIMINAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN

    Kyrgyzstan's National Security Service has brought further criminal charges against former Vice President and opposition Ar-Namys party leader Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 7 February. Kulov is accused of abuse of his official position and financial mismanagement while serving as governor of Chu Oblast in 1995. Those charges were previously brought against Kulov in 1997, but the Chu Oblast administration appealed to the Constitutional Court to drop them. Kulov was sentenced last month to seven years imprisonment on charges of abuse of his official position while serving as National Security Minister in 1997-1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). LF

    [11] KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST APPLIES FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM IN AUSTRIA

    Albert Korgoldoev told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service on 7 February that he applied for political asylum on his arrival in Austria the previous day. Korgoldoev said criminal charges of hooliganism have been filed against him in Kyrgyzstan in connection with his monitoring of demonstrations in Djalalabad Oblast in October-November 2000 to protest the falsification of the outcome of the 29 October presidential poll. LF

    [12] TURKMEN PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE TREATED WITH PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS

    Shageldy Atakov, a Baptist who is serving a four-year sentence on what are believed to be fabricated charges of swindling, is being subjected to treatment with psychotropic drugs at a labor camp in northern Turkmenistan, Keston News Service reported on 8 February. LF

    [13] UZBEK-SOUTH KOREAN AUTO JOINT VENTURE TO INCREASE PRODUCTION

    The joint venture UzDaewooAvto will increase production of light automobiles by 70 percent, from 30,700 in 2000 to 51,400 in 2001, company board deputy chairman Akhmadzhon Khakkulov told journalists in Tashkent on 7 February. The joint venture had slashed production last year from 58,300 cars in 1999 as a result of Daewoo's financial problems. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT BLOCKS NATIONALIST PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE

    The lower house of the joint parliament did not approve the candidacy of Martin Raguz for the post of prime minister on 7 February. He is from the nationalist Croatian Democratic Community and has the backing of the joint presidency. The non-nationalist Alliance for Changes has the largest bloc of votes in the legislature and has nominated Professor Bozidar Matic to become prime minister. Ante Jelavic, who is the Croatian member of the joint presidency, has said he will not agree to any Alliance-backed candidate becoming prime minister, Reuters reported. PM

    [15] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER DENIES PLAN TO EXPEL U.S. ENVOY

    Zivko Radisic, who is the Serbian representative on the joint presidency, denied on 7 February having called for the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller for allegedly interfering in internal politics, Reuters reported from Sarajevo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2001). Radisic claimed that he was only speaking in general terms about "these pressures, these attempts to interfere in cadre politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and mentioned the American ambassador. We mentioned no names then...but we said that the presidency can raise the issue of credentials [of individual diplomats], depending on [the individual's] behavior." Muslim presidency member Halid Genjac told Reuters that he sees no reason to discuss such an issue as expelling diplomats. Jelavic, who is the ethnic Croat representative, said that it would be untimely to withdraw the accreditation from any Western diplomat. Jelavic added, however, that he has sometimes been unhappy with the ambassador's "behavior and political actions." PM

    [16] CROATIAN COURT WANTS GENERAL INVESTIGATED FOR WAR CRIMES

    State Prosecutor Boris Hrast has called for the arrest of retired General Mirko Norac and his deputy Milan Canic in conjunction with a massacre of Serbian civilians in Gospic in 1991, "Novi List" reported from Rijeka on 7 February. Norac was commander in Gospic at the time of the alleged atrocity. AP reported that this is the first time that a Croatian prosecutor has called for the arrest of such a high-ranking official. Police have meanwhile arrested Canic, but Norac is believed to be abroad. PM

    [17] BELGRADE RULES OUT AUTONOMY FOR PRESEVO

    The much-discussed Serbian government plan for a peaceful reduction of tensions in the Presevo region explicitly rules out any autonomy, AP reported on 7 February (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 February 2001). "Any solutions that include any kind of autonomy [and a] special status of change of borders of Serbia and Yugoslavia [with Kosova] are unacceptable," the government said in a statement. Among the many grievances of the local Albanians is the parliamentary voting system that effectively prevents their parties from sending deputies to the national legislature. PM

    [18] PRESEVO ALBANIANS SET CONDITIONS FOR TALKS

    Presevo Albanian leaders met in Veliki Trnovac in the demilitarized border zone, saying that they are willing to talk to the Belgrade authorities under certain conditions, AP reported from Belgrade on 7 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2001). One is that international representatives must be present at any negotiations. Another is that Serbian forces withdraw from the area and be replaced by an international force, preferably one of U.S. troops, AFP reported. The ethnic Albanian leaders also agreed on a nine-member delegation, including three members of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB). One of the Albanians' goals is for the region to be "reunited" with Kosova, which, the Serbs have said repeatedly, is unacceptable to Belgrade. PM

    [19] NATO WANTS MEDIATOR FOR PRESEVO

    NATO's Admiral James Ellis said in Prishtina on 7 February that the international community or UN should try to find a "facilitator" to help resolve differences between the two sides in Presevo, Reuters reported.. "I think these types of challenges are best dealt with by international agencies that are appropriately configured for the task," Ellis told reporters. "I would hope that...one would come forward to assume that responsibility." He did not elaborate. Ellis commands NATO's Allied Forces South wing, which recently took over lead responsibility for the more than 40,000 NATO-led troops in Kosova. In related news, Serbian police said on 8 February that UCPMB gunners fired during the night on a Serbian position near Vranje, AP reported. There is no independent confirmation of the police account. PM

    [20] WARM SERBIAN RECEPTION FOR RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER...

    Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica met with visiting Russian Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeev in Belgrade on 7 February, "Vesti" reported. (See Kostunica's views on protocol regarding Hague chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January 2001). Kostunica's office issued a statement saying that the marshal backs Belgrade's efforts to "defend the integrity of the country with all democratic means...and thus help preserve peace and stability in the Balkans," AP reported. The statement added that "Russia is fully in accordance with the Yugoslav initiative to change provisions regarding the [Presevo] Ground Security Zone" by reducing the size of or eliminating the zone, Reuters reported. Yugoslav Defense Minister Slobodan Krapovic said that he and Sergeyev "had a meeting as traditionally good friends and as partners with much [of] common interest." They signed an agreement on "military-technical" cooperation between the Russian and Yugoslav armies but provided no details (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 January 2001). PM

    [21] ...WHO EXPRESSES HIS VIEWS

    In Belgrade on 7 February, Sergeev charged that the U.S. and its NATO allies have "avoided their responsibility" by not providing more economic aid to Belgrade. He gave his full support for Yugoslavia on the Kosova question. The marshal nonetheless expressed his concern to Yugoslav General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who heads the General Staff, that the Yugoslav military is being "hasty" about moving towards membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, "Vesti" reported, citing its own unspecified sources (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). PM

    [22] HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CALLS FOR EU TO LINK SERBIAN AID TO HAGUE COOPERATION

    Holly Cartner, an executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on 7 February that "there can be little hope of a clean break with the past unless the indicted architects of ethnic cleansing are brought to justice," Reuters reported from Belgrade. Human Rights Watch called on members of the EU delegation that was slated to arrive in Belgrade on 8 February to link any assistance to Serbia to its cooperation with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 February 2001). Upon its arrival, the delegation, which was led by EU foreign affairs coordinator and former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, was met with anti-Solana protests by nationalist supporters of the former regime. PM

    [23] YUGOSLAV MINISTER WANTS KOSOVA CONFERENCE

    On a visit to Berlin to seek German economic help, Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said on 7 February that Germany holds the "key to the future of the Balkans," "Vesti" reported. Svilanovic added that he wants an international conference on the model of the 1995 Dayton gathering to decide on and guarantee the political future of Kosova, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. When he first launched the idea in December, Svilanovic admitted that such a conference "would amount to stacking the deck against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority," which wants only independence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 2000). PM

    [24] FOR WHOM DOES VEDRINE SPEAK ON MONTENEGRO?

    French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in Paris on 7 February that "as far as I know, no European or American official is in favor of the eventual independence of Montenegro, and I don't think neighboring countries favor it, either." It is not clear on what authority he made this statement. Slovenian President Milan Kucan, for one, is a strong supporter of the Montenegrin leadership (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 12 December 2000). Vedrine made his remarks after speaking with Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, dpa reported. For his part, Rupel said that "Slovenia believes it will be ready to join NATO in 2002 and the European Union in 2003," AFP reported. PM

    [25] SERBIA TO SET UP CUSTOMS BORDER WITH MONTENEGRO?

    Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said in Podgorica on 7 February that his government rejects a recent demand by Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic that Montenegro raise its customs duties to the same level as those of Serbia. Vujanovic added that the Belgrade leaders suggested that Serbia will levy duty on goods coming in from Montenegro if Podgorica does not agree to the demand. Montenegrin Trade Minister Ramo Bralic instead called on Belgrade to bring Serbian import duties in line with the recommendations of the WTO, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Montenegrin leaders have repeatedly said that they want an open border with Serbia even if the two republics become completely independent. PM

    [26] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO PROMULGATE CONTROVERSIAL LAW

    President Ion Iliescu said on 7 February that he will promulgate the law on Local Public Administration once the parliament ends the approval process. He said the article in the law allowing national minorities to use their languages in localities where they make up 20 percent of the population "is correct from all points of view" and "in line with the spirit of the constitution." Members of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) parliamentary group in the Senate have voiced misgivings about the article, and the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM) is opposed to approval of the law because it contains that provision. MS

    [27] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY OPPOSES HUNGARIAN DEMAND

    National Liberal Party (PNL) First deputy Chairman Valeriu Stoica, in an interview on Romanian Radio on 7 February, said the PNL will oppose the demand of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania to amend the constitutional provision that defines Romania as a "national state." Stoica said the "myth of the national state" is the "corner-stone of the modern world" and "its dismemberment would also mean the dismemberment of that world." He said that "any myth has a beneficial and a harmful side" and "one must not emphasize the harmful aspect alone" because of its influence on "some excesses in the last century." A PNL-PDSR team began negotiations on amending the constitution on 7 February. MS

    [28] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES ON RESTITUTION LAW

    The Constitutional Court on 7 February rejected the appeal of 78 PRM parliamentarians against the approval in January by the Chamber of Deputies of the law on restitution of real estate property, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The Senate has already approved the law and the court said President Iliescu can now promulgate it. MS

    [29] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT CONFIRMS NEW INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF

    A joint session of the two houses of the parliament on 7 February voted 374 to 28 in favor of the appointment of Radu Timofte as the new Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) director, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The PNL opposed the appointment, on grounds of insufficient time to debate controversial statements made by Timofte in the past and allegations that Timofte was a KGB agent. Former SRI chief Virgil Magureanu said the same day there are no grounds to believe Timofte ever worked for the KGB, but added he doubts Timofte has the necessary skills to run the SRI. MS

    [30] COMPLAINTS REJECTED AGAINST PREMIER'S ALLIANCE IN MOLDOVA

    The Central Electoral Bureau (CEC) on 7 February rejected as "unfounded" complaints launched against the Braghis Alliance by communist leader Vladimir Voronin, Party of Revival and Conciliation (PRAM) chairman Mircea Snegur and Democratic Party leader Dumitru Diacov, Infotag reported. The three leaders had asked the CEC to disqualify the Braghis Alliance from running in the elections. The commission ruled that the three leaders failed to produce "convincing evidence" that the alliance headed by the premier is using governmental resources in its electoral campaign. It ruled that the alliance has produced "convincing proof" that members of the cabinet engaged in the electoral campaign have been "temporarily suspended from official duties". It also said that existing legislation does not require the premier to resign during the election campaign period. MS

    [31] MOLDOVAN PARTY'S ELECTORAL SPENDING TO BE CHECKED

    The CEC on 7 February also decided to ask the Chief Tax Inspectorate to investigate how the National Liberal Party (PNL) is using funds allocated from the budget for its electoral campaign. Mihai Busuleac, a commission member, was quoted by Infotag as saying the private Catalan TV company, which is backing the PNL, is providing "fairly expensive gifts" on that party's behalf. The Inspectorate is to verify whether the funds come from the money allocated to parties for the election campaign. The law stipulates that no formation can spend more than 1 million lei (about $79, 000) for this purpose and no funding is permitted from other sources. MS

    [32] SNEGUR SAYS RUSSIA MUST BE FORCED OUT THE TRANSDNIESTER BY THE OSCE

    PRAM leader Snegur told journalists in Chisinau on 7 February that Russia will not withdraw its troops from the Transdniester of its own free will and only international organizations of which the Russia is a members can force it to do so, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Chief among these, the former Moldovan president said, is the OSCE, which must increase its involvement in the conflict. He said back in 1994, former premiers Andrei Sangheli and Viktor Chernomyrdin signed an accord for the withdrawal of the troops that was never ratified by the Duma, and later Russia did not respect the pledge made to the Council of Europe to evacuate its troops. "At present Moscow knows too well it has no intention of respecting the decisions of the [December 1999 OSCE] Istanbul summit," Snegur said. MS

    [33] BULGARIAN RADIO JOURNALISTS THREATEN TO LAUNCH STRIKE

    The staff of Bulgarian national radio said on 7 February they will start legal procedure required by the law to begin labor action if Ivan Borislavov, who was recently appointed general director of the radio, does not resign, Reuters and AP reported. In a declaration released to the media, the staff said their motivations are not political but stem from Borislavov's lack of professional credentials. A radio presenter cited by Reuters said the journalists are prepared to "go to the very end, like colleagues in the Czech Republic." The protesting journalists also demanded that the National Radio and Television Council, which appointed Borislavov, resign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2001). MS

    [34] MILITARY INDUSTRY WORKERS DEMONSTRATE IN SOFIA

    Some 4,000 workers in the military industry on 7 February demonstrated in Sofia against the government's neglect of the problems of that sector. They said the cabinet lacks a clear-cut plan to deal with the debt-ridden industry. The protesters also said wages have not been paid for several months. Most of the demonstrators work in the VMZ plant in Spot, some 150 kilometers east of Sofia. A local union leader cited by AP said the future of the whole area depends on the fate of the company. The government has slated the VMZ for sale in March 2000, but investors have shown little interest. The company has run up a 68 million leva ($32.7 million) debt to the state budget. MS

    [35] AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED OVER BULGARIANS' LIBYAN TRIAL

    Amnesty International on 7 February said it is "concerned" over Libya's handing of the six Bulgarian health workers charged with deliberately infecting children with the HIV virus in a Benghazi hospital. Jurgens Carsten, who is in charge of the Middle East in the organization, told Reuters that the Bulgarian medics "were detained two years ago, and had spent one year without legal or medical help." He said that Amnesty's "major concern is that Libya has not investigated allegations of use of torture against the medics" during the year-long pre-trial period. Libyan lawyer Osman Byzanti said two of his clients told him they had confessed under duress. In June 2000, Bulgarian Justice Minister Teodossyi Simeonov said the medics had been tortured during the investigation and the nurses among them were pressured to convert to Islam. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [36] There is no end note today.

    08-02-01

    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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