Russian Foreign Ministry Says Honecker Will Leave
MOSCOW (AP) _ Former East German Communist leader Erich Honecker will leave his diplomatic sanctuary in Russia soon, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.
″Honecker will leave Russia for sure,″ spokesman Sergei Yazstrzhembsky told a news briefing. He refused to give any more details.
Honecker, 79, is wanted in Germany on manslaughter charges that he issued shoot-to-kill orders to East German border guards. About 200 people died trying to flee the Communist state.
Honecker and his wife, Margot, sought refuge in the Chilean Embassy because Ambassador Clodomiro Almeyda was an old friend to whom Honecker had given asylum after the 1973 right-wing coup in Chile.
Russian authorities have been unable to force Honecker to leave the embassy because it is diplomatic property protected under international treaty.
In Madrid, Spain, Chilean Foreign Minister Enrique Silva said today that ″a solution (to the Honecker case) is near″ and indicated Honecker would be handed over to German authorities for trial.
Honecker sought refuge in the Chilean Embassy in Moscow in December 1991 to avoid expulsion from the Soviet Union. He was flown to Moscow in March 1991 for unspecified medical care.
James Holger, a special envoy of the Chilean president, has been holding talks with Russian officials in Moscow about Honecker’s fate.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement follows German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s statement Thursday that efforts to return Honecker to Germany for trial may be nearing a successful conclusion.
It remained unclear how or when Honecker would leave Moscow.
″It is up to the Chilean side to take the first step,″ said Enno Barker, press spokesman for the German Embassy in Moscow. ″There are physical realities. Mr. Honecker has to leave the embassy.″
Yazstrzhembsky said, ″Sufficiently active consultations are continuing to find the final formula for the settlement of this issue.
″I cannot add anything else. ... What I can say, is that this is an issue of the nearest future,″ he said.
Honecker had sought permission to go to Chile, where his daughter lives. But the Chilean government, under pressure from Germany, refused.