|We were born to unite with our fellowmen, and to join in community with the human race. - Cicero|
No. 25, Part II, 3 February 1995
This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning East-Central and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and the CIS, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. 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. EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE WALESA MOVES AGAINST PARLIAMENT . . . Polish President Lech Walesa on 2 February sought the opinion of the Sejm and Senate speakers on the dissolution of the parliament, fulfilling the single constitutional prerequisite to a formal dissolution order. (The opinion of the two leaders is not binding on the president.) He cited the three-month deadline for adopting the budget as grounds for the potential dissolution. Walesa also sent the 1995 budget to the Constitutional Tribunal for review. He argued that it is unlawful because revenues are based on unconstitutional tax legislation imposed after the start of the tax year. In an interview with Radio Warsaw, Walesa warned he will dissolve parliament unless the ruling coalition removes "crooks and incompetents" from the government and reaches agreement with him on vacant ministerial, ambassadorial, and police posts. The president vowed not to use force but did not rule out a situation of dual power in which the president and parliament each attempted to impose their will while insisting that the other was illegal. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE POLISH PARTIES SAY DISSOLUTION UNLAWFUL. Poland's parliament and extraparliament parties unanimously condemned the potential dissolution of the parliament as "illegal and unconstitutional." The Senate passed a resolution on 2 February urging the parliament leadership to convene a session of the National Assembly (which would be required to impeach Walesa). But Sejm speaker Jozef Oleksy opted for a less confrontational course, arguing that impeachment proceedings could not begin on the basis of a presidential "intention." Walesa refused Oleksy's request for a meeting on 2 February. Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek said the Church hierarchy was prepared to mediate. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PRIME MINISTER AT RISK? Waldemar Pawlak commented from Washington that he will begin consultations with the president, parliament, and ruling coalition as soon as he returns to Warsaw on 3 February, Radio Warsaw reports. The prime minister attributed Walesa's moves to the upcoming presidential elections, arguing that the courts should decide on the guilt or innocence of officials suspected of crimes. Pawlak's ouster is one conceivable outcome of the conflict. Gazeta Wyborcza reports that Pawlak's coalition partners in the Democratic Left Alliance have concluded that "the Pawlak era is over" and begun urging their colleagues in the Polish Peasant Party to remove their leader. Most parliament parties seemed to think that rebuilding the government would placate Walesa and forestall the debilitating conflict following a presidential attempt to dissolve the parliament. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT REVIEWS 1995 DRAFT BUDGET . . . Ukrainian parliament commissions have begun reviewing the 1995 draft budget submitted by the government, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 2 February. Deputy Finance Minister Stanislav Bukovinsky told Interfax that the draft foresees such "unpopular but necessary" measures as a 465% increase in wholesale prices and an average wage increase of only 340% in an effort to cut the budget deficit to 5% of GDP. Projected revenues would reach 4.32 quadrillion Ukrainian karbovantsi. The government plans to introduce a levy on oil and gas, lift many tax breaks and privileges, increase property taxes by 2,000%, introduce a liquor tax, and issue state bonds on the domestic market, Bukovinsky said. The Ukrainian government is also prepared to cut social programs, including tax breaks and financial support of victims of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster and free breakfasts at schools. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND PROPOSES DEBATE ON NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN GOVERNMENT. After reviewing the draft budget, the Presidium of the Ukrainian Parliament decided on 2 February to debate a possible vote of no confidence in the government, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Parliament speaker Oleksander Moroz said Presidium members were critical of the government's proposed cuts in social programs and its plans to introduce larger hikes for prices than wages. He also said some leaders accused the government of failing to implement parliament directives and of being slow to introduce bills on implementing economic reforms proposed by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING. Ukrainian Radio reported on 2 February that the Ukrainian National Security Council met under the chairmanship of President Leonid Kuchma to discuss problems within Ukraine's armed forces and participation in international military structures. Volodymyr Horbulyn, the president's adviser on national security, said the council discussed a document on safeguarding the country's security. It also debated the development and deployment of the Ukrainian armed forces, including border guards and Interior Ministry forces. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIANS SAY RUSSIANS "SQUANDERING" BLACK SEA FLEET. Dmytro Stepanyuk, a member of the Ukrainian parliament's temporary commission on the situation in Crimea, told a Simferopol press conference on 2 February that a "mass squandering" of Black Sea Fleet property has taken place. Interfax quotes him as saying that the fleet's leadership has rented out 29 sites belonging to the fleet and intends to sell another 14. He said several fleet sites in Ismail have been sold to a commercial firm and claimed that the money from the deal has been transferred into the accounts of "several people from the Black Sea Fleet leadership." Stepanyuk charged that these actions take no account of the upcoming division of the fleet between Russia and Ukraine, and he recommended that "the reaction of the Ukrainian leadership should be rather tough." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. IMF RELEASES CREDIT TO BELARUS. Belarusian Radio reported on 2 February that the IMF released a $100 million credit to Belarus on 30 January. The first part of the IMF credit package, worth approximately the same amount, was released in June 1993. Most of that credit was used to pay for Russian energy supplies. The new credit will go toward building up the Belarusian National Banks' hard-currency reserves and implementing the country's economic reforms in accordance with IMF conditions. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. SHUSHKEVICH TO STAND IN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS. Stanislau Shushkevich, former chairman of the Supreme Soviet, will run in the Belarusian parliament elections in May, Belarusian Radio reported on 2 February. Shushkevich's supporters will be the same democratic groups that upheld his candidacy in the June 1994 presidential elections. Shushkevich has no party affiliation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF TARTU TREATY. About a dozen members of the Petserimaa League picketed the Russian Embassy in Tallinn on 2 February, the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty, BNS reports. Under that treaty, Russia recognized Estonia's independence and pledged to make no claims on Estonian territory. The league wants the return to Estonia of the some 2,000 sq. km Petseri/Pechory region, which Russia seized after World War II. Even though the Estonian Constitution defines the country's borders in accordance with the Tartu treaty, Prime Minister Andres Tarand expressed willingness to give up territorial claims if Moscow recognized the document as valid. Russia insists that the treaty lost its validity when Estonia joined the USSR in 1940. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA PASSES LAW ON TAXES AND DUTIES. The Saeima on 2 February passed a law on taxes and duties to go into effect on 1 April, BNS reports. Taxpayers will be required to declare their income themselves and pay taxes owed. Any cash transaction exceeding 1,000 lati ($1,830) must be reflected in income declarations. Businesses, moreover, are allowed to make cash transactions of up to 3,000 lati only. Anything over this sum must be transferred by wire. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA TO END PRIVATIZATION FOR INVESTMENT VOUCHERS. The Lithuanian parliament on 31 January adopted a resolution invalidating as of 1 July the law on initial privatization of state property passed in 1991, BNS reported on 2 February. The law gave residents investment vouchers to purchase apartments and shares in state enterprises. As of early January, 70% of state enterprises and 78% of state capital offered for privatization had been sold. The value of the unsold property is approximately that of the unused investment vouchers, but it is expected that some vouchers will not be redeemed. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PRIVATIZATION CHIEF RELEASED FROM JAIL. Jaroslav Lizner, former chief administrator of the Czech voucher privatization scheme, was released from jail on 2 February. Lizner was arrested on 31 October 1994 in possession of 8 million koruny and charged with taking the money as a bribe to mediate in a share deal. The case is the biggest corruption scandal to date in the Czech Republic. Mlada fronta dnes quoted Lizner's defense lawyer as saying his client intended to return to work soon. Although he has been replaced as head of the Center for Coupon Privatization, Lizner's work contract is still valid. Previous requests for Lizner to be released from prison were denied on the grounds that he could attempt to influence witnesses in his case. His eventual release means the investigation against him is effectively complete. A decision on putting Lizner on trial will be made shortly, Czech media report. If convicted of corruption, he could face up to three years in jail. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY MAY BE SIGNED BEFORE MARCH. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, after recently meeting with his Slovak counterpart, Juraj Schenk, said the chances are good that the two countries will sign a bilateral treaty before March, an RFE/RL correspondent in Strasbourg reports. The two met on 1 February to sign the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and to discuss the treatment of the large Hungarian minority in Slovakia. Hungary stipulated that Slovakia sign the convention as a condition for the bilateral treaty, which will enshrine the inviolability of the current Slovak-Hungarian border. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK FIRMS MAKE SIZABLE PROFITS. TASR reported on 1 February that ship maker Slovenske Lodenice Komarno netted 40 million koruny in 1994 (approximately $1.3 million) and hired 230 new employees. The firm exported 14 cargo ships to Russia, Germany, and Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, Slovak steel giant VSZ Kosice registered after-tax profits of 650 million koruny in 1994--an increase of 230% over the previous year. The firm, which exports to Germany, the U.S., Poland, Hungary, and Italy, produced almost 10% of Slovakia's 1994 GDP. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WHAT'S GOING ON AMONG THE BOSNIAN SERBS? Several publications from rump Yugoslavia on 3 February take up the question of divisions among the Bosnian Serb leadership. According to the independent Nasa Borba and Montenegro's Monitor, tensions between the civilian and military leaderships came to a head last weekend with the resignation of the second man in the army's command structure, General Manojlo Milovanovic. The general reportedly suffered a heart attack soon after resigning. There are also accounts of long-standing frictions between Milovanovic's boss--General Ratko Mladic--and civilian chief Radovan Karadzic. The military blames the civilians for the poor physical state of the army and its equipment and for setting too ambitious goals for such an army. One example is the current offensive around Bihac, which has failed to capture the town and left the Bosnian government forces still holding key strategic positions. Nasa Borba and NIN also discuss tensions between Karadzic and the Banja Luka Serb leadership, which recently sent a delegation to Belgrade to ask Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to end his formal blockade of the Bosnian Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERB-CROAT RELATIONS DEADLOCKED OR JUST BEFORE A "PLEASANT SURPRISE"? Nasa Borba on 3 February writes that at the beginning of 1995, there was much speculation that Belgrade and Zagreb may set up full diplomatic relations soon. But Croatia's subsequent refusal to extend UNPROFOR's mandate and the resulting growth of tensions between Zagreb, on the one hand, and Belgrade and Knin, on the other, have left matters up in the air. Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic says his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, may still visit Belgrade this month, although Granic notes that any such trip will have to be connected with Serbia's full recognition of Croatia in its official frontiers. Both Serbia and Croatia continue to avoid taking a clear stand on the latest international plan to solve the Krajina question, but NIN says the Croatian opposition mistrusts President Franjo Tudjman's handling of the issue and is apprehensive about any "pleasant surprise" that the government may unveil to improve relations with Belgrade. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. LORD OWEN SAYS MILOSEVIC WILL NOT ALLOW WAR TO BE EXPORTED TO SERBIA. Serbian and Croatian dailies on 3 February report on the visit the previous day by EU mediator David Owen and his UN counterpart, Thorvald Stoltenberg, to Belgrade and Zagreb. Nasa Borba says Owen sees nothing wrong with a new international conference on Bosnia, as the French have proposed, but he argues that it must be well prepared. He also says that the time is not right for such a gathering until "some details" are solved through lower-level talks, including the question of Bosnia's future constitutional order and the borders on the map partitioning that embattled republic. He stresses the importance of UNPROFOR's presence for peace in Croatia and adds that Milosevic will not allow its departure to lead to an expansion of the war to Serbia and Montenegro. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung adds, however, that Owen feels Tudjman will reconsider his decision and renew UNPROFOR's mandate. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN INFORMATION MINISTER ON JOURNALIST ETHICS. Ratomir Vico, in an interview with the state-controlled daily Borba on 3 February, said the Serbian government is "not looking for anything but objective reporting" from foreign and domestic journalists. His remark comes amid the authorities' ongoing crackdown on the independent media, notably the once-independent Borba, now known as Nasa Borba. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN-U.S. DEFENSE GROUP MEETS. Radio Bucharest reports that at a meeting on 2 February of the Romanian-U.S. working group on defense, discussion focused on European security, the evolution of Euro-Atlantic security structures, military cooperation between Romania and the U.S., and NATO's Partnership for Peace program. The two delegations are led by Secretary of State Ioan Mircea Pascu and assistant to the U.S. Defense Secretary John Nye Jr. Nye was quoted by Radio Bucharest as saying that U.S. military will participate in joint exercises within the framework of the PFP program. The U.S. delegation was received the same day by Romania's President Ion Iliescu and by Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca. It also held talks with Alexandru Timofte and Petre Roman, chairmen of the Defense Commissions of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, respectively. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA, MOLDOVA SIGN MORE PROTOCOLS ON 14TH ARMY. Three additional protocols on the planned withdrawal of the 14th Russian Army from eastern Moldova were signed in Chisinau on 2 February, Interfax and Radio Bucharest report. The documents, which complete the framework bilateral agreement concluded on 21 October 1994, deal with the transportation of troops and equipment, inspections of the 14th army in accordance with international conventions, and a social safety net for departing troops and their families. The negotiations were conducted by a Russian delegation led by Vladimir Kitayev, special envoy of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and a Moldovan team headed by First Deputy Foreign Minister Nicolae Osmochescu. A group of military experts from the Russian delegation met on 1 February in Tiraspol with Gen. Alexandr Lebed, commander of the 14th army; Igor Smirnov, president of the self-styled Dniestr Republic; and other local leaders. The withdrawal is expected to take place within the next three years, but no schedule has been worked out so far. Further documents are expected to be signed this year. Interfax quoted a source at the headquarters of the 14th army as saying that the total ammunition stored in Transdniestria amounts to 410,000 tons, of which some 50,000 cannot be moved for technical reasons and will have to be destroyed on the spot. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN MINERS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE IN WAKE OF CORRUPTION SCANDAL. Miners at Albania's largest chrome mine at Bulqize staged a hunger strike to demand the dismissal of mine director Gezim Dauti and a 10% wage increase promised in October 1994. Reports of the number of miners who went on strike vary, with the Tirana daily ASD saying 15 to 20 took part and Zeri i Popullit claiming 200 were involved. Reuters reported on 2 February that about 20 miners ended the strike but without winning any concessions. ASD on 3 February quoted Albanian trade union leader Mustafa Shengjergji as saying the strike came in the wake of a corruption scandal. He noted that the state control commission investigating the mines in November discovered evidence of "large-scale corruption." The commission demanded the dismissal of Dauti and the head of the local branch of the Finance Ministry, but no action has yet been taken. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. The publication can also be obtained for a fee in printed form by fax and postal mail. Please direct inquiries to: Editor, Daily Digest, OMRI, Na Strzi 63, 14062 Prague 4, Czech Republic or send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396
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