|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 61, Part II, 27 March 1995
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LEFT LOSES IN LITHUANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Although the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) doubled its share of deputies in the 56 city and raion councils in the 25 March elections, it was a clear loser, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported on 26 March. The Homeland Union won 29.1% of the vote and obtained 426 seats; the LDLP, 19.9% and 291 seats; the Christian Democratic Party, 16.9% and 247 seats; and the Peasants' Party, 6.9% and 101 seats. The Polish Electoral Alliance won 55 seats, including 19 of the 27 seats in the Vilnius raion. The Center Union, the Social Democratic Party, the Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees, and the National Union won 74, 72, 56, and 49 seats, respectively. Turnout was only 42.5%, but the vote demonstrates considerable dissatisfaction with the current government. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA PROTESTS EXPULSION FROM ESTONIA. The expulsion on 24 March of Petr Rozhok, representative of the ultra-nationalist Russian Liberal Democratic Party, prompted the Russian State Duma to pass a non-binding resolution to impose economic sanctions against Estonia, BNS reported. Estonia's Citizenship and Migration Department on 22 March ordered Rozhok to leave the country within 24 hours, charging him with "inciting ethnic, racial, and religious enmity." He was arrested and escorted to a train to Moscow. Although the Russian embassy in Tallinn and the Russian Foreign Ministry protested the expulsion of Rozhok as an abuse of human rights, he was not welcomed in Moscow's train station by representatives of his party, nor did the media cover his arrival. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RESCHEDULES CRIMEAN ELECTIONS. Ukrainian legislators on 24 March voted by 249 to 15 to reschedule municipal elections in Crimea from 29 April to 25 June and to bar foreign citizens from voting or running for office, Interfax-Ukraine and Reuters reported the same day. The Ukrainian parliament also repealed a Crimean law allowing local conscripts to serve military duty in Crimea. But it stopped short of taking direct control of the region's government, despite its decision the previous week to abolish Crimea's Presidency and constitution. Meanwhile, Anatolii Franchuk is refusing to accept his dismissal as prime minister by the Crimean parliament and says he plans to contest the decision in court, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 March. His replacement, Anatolii Drobotov, former Crimean agriculture minister, was barred on 24 March by Ukrainian police from entering the prime minister's office in Simferopol. In related news, more than 1,000 residents gathered in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol on 26 March demanding that the peninsula be returned to Russia and protesting what they called Kiev's hostile acts toward the region. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BORDER CONTROLS TIGHTEN AS EU SCHENGEN AGREEMENT TAKES EFFECT. The EU Schengen agreement, which took effect on 26 March, eases border controls among its seven members but has slowed traffic to the east, international agencies report. Border controls ended for Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Increased delays were reported on Germany's eastern borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. Eberhard Roese, deputy head of the Bavarian border police, said, "There were problems on the eastern borders above all because we could not separate the traffic at our small crossing points and so all entering travelers had to wait." Czech TV reported long lines at the frontier. Poland, meanwhile, says it will not separate EU from non-EU traffic at its borders. "We will not agree to Poles being treated as second category citizens," Tomasz Lis, head of the Foreign Ministry's Consular Department, said, according to Reuters. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. CZECH TRADE UNIONS STAGE ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION. Trade unionists throughout the Czech Republic on 25 March staged the biggest anti- government demonstration since the fall of communism. Organizers said 90,000 people took part in a rally in downtown Prague protesting government social policies, while the police put the figure at 60,000, Mlada fronta dnes reported. Richard Falbr, chairman of the Czech and Moravian Chamber of Trade Unions, and other speakers protested government plans to raise the pension age, cut child support benefits, and introduce tuition fees for higher education. Opposition politicians joined the demonstration, but Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus called it "absurd," Rude pravo reported. Falbr said he did not think the protest would affect the government's plans, adding that further mass demonstrations may be called. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. TWO SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES UNITE. The National Democratic Party, which broke away from the Slovak National Party in early 1994, merged with former Prime Minister Jozef Moravcik's Democratic Union on 24-25 March, Slovak media reported. Moravcik was re-elected DU chairman by 102 out of 108 votes, while DU members Milan Knazko, Jan Budaj, and Roman Kovac, together with former NDP Chairman Ludovit Cernak, were elected deputy chairmen. Former DU Deputy Chairman Viliam Vaskovic, in an interview published in Pravda on 24 March, said there was internal disagreement over the future ideological direction of the party. Knazko told Sme on 24 March that the party would be oriented to the right of center, but Moravcik stressed at the congress that the DU would be a liberal party of the center. The DU and NDP ran on the same ticket in last fall's elections, but the NDP was considered a national liberal party and DU more socially oriented. The DU was created in April 1994 by two parties that broke away from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, at an MDS congress on 25-26 March, was re-elected party chairman, receiving 224 out of 225 votes. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES ANOTHER TWO LAWS. Michal Kovac has returned two laws passed by the parliament earlier this month. One of those laws deals with foreigners residing in Slovakia; the other empowers state secretaries to vote in the absence of ministers at cabinet sessions. Kovac had previously vetoed a law transferring the power to appoint and remove the Slovak Information Service director from the president to the government. Parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic announced that the three returned laws--together with bills on parliament elections, on the role of the state in education, on social security, and on Slovak Television and Slovak Radio--will be discussed at the next parliament session, scheduled for 5 April, Sme reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT FORCES ON THE MOVE. International media reported that Bosnian government forces on 24 March took one key Serbian communications tower at Stolice in the Majevica hills near Travnik and another the next day on Mt. Vlasic near Tuzla. By 27 March, however, it was unclear what the government units had captured, although they seemed to have taken some territory from Serbian forces. In a diplomatic development, Nasa Borba on 27 March reports that Bosnia's ambassador to Switzerland, Muhamed Filipovic, met the previous week in Belgrade with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at the Serb's initiative. Filipovic said that Bosnia has now opened up a diplomatic channel to Serbia as it is concerned about the status of the Muslims living there. The International Herald Tribune on 25 March suggested that both the offensive and the Filipovic initiative indicate that Sarajevo wants to show its ineffective foreign partners that it can take charge of its own affairs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC SAYS IT'S "LAST CALL" FOR BOSNIAN PEACE." International media on 24 March quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as responding to his military losses by calling for immediate and direct negotiations. Two days later, he wrote to world leaders asking them to "bring a halt to the Muslim offensives." The Bosnian government says, however, that Karadzic must accept the Contact Group's peace proposal before talks can begin. Elsewhere, Karadzic made what the BBC on 27 March called "a rare public appearance in combat fatigues," and one German television report on 25 March said he had threatened to take Tuzla. On 26 March, he called for a general mobilization of all Bosnian Serbs and threatened to confiscate the property of all reservists who do not return home from abroad. Karadzic made the same threats last year. Nasa Borba on 27 March reported on a meeting in Belgrade of the Serbian Civic Council, which represents Bosnian Serbs who reject Karadzic and his nationalism. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KRAJINA SERBS STAGE EXERCISES WITH 100 TANKS. AFP reported on 26 March that Croatia's Serbian rebels are conducting big maneuvers in Slavonia. Some of their heavy weapons were taken from UN collection points, but at least 13 modern T-72 and M-84 tanks were secretly "moved into Croatia from Serbia on pontoons thrown across the Danube." Krajina's leader Milan Martic attended the exercises. Croatia said it did not protest the maneuvers in order "to avoid poisoning the peace process." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. PRISON RIOT IN MACEDONIA. Some 400 prisoners climbed onto the roof of Idrizovo prison near Skopje on 23 and 24 March to demand an amnesty from the Macedonian government, Reuters reported the same day. The prisoners were protesting the authorities' break with the tradition of offering amnesties after presidential and parliamentary elections. The last elections took place in October 1994. Justice Minister Vlado Popovski on 26 March issued an ultimatum to the prisoners that was to expire at noon, on 27 March. AFP cited Popovski as saying that if the prisoners do not give up their protest, the government will "use all means to restore order." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. MASS RALLIES OF KOSOVARS IN WESTERN EUROPE. Tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians from the Serbian province of Kosovo gathered in Bonn and Zurich on 25 March to demand international recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, Reuters and AFP reported the same day. According to the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), 65,000 people demonstrated in Bonn and 25,000 in Zurich. Officials estimated 40,000 demonstrators in Bonn and 12,000 in Zurich. The LDK also said that demonstrations took place in the U.S. and Australia. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN FARMERS STAGE PROTEST IN IASI. Between 3,000 and 6,000 farmers demonstrated in Iasi on 25 March to protest delays in returning land seized by the communists, Radio Bucharest and Reuters report. They called for the 1991 Land Law to be revised and for more government support for agriculture. The demonstration was organized by the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, the largest party within the Democratic Convention of Romania, the main opposition alliance. PNT-CD Chairman Corneliu Coposu and CDR Chairman Emil Constantinescu, who addressed the rally, blamed the left-wing government for the difficult situation in the agricultural sector. Iasi has traditionally been a stronghold of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, which won the 1992 elections with strong rural support. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN SECRET SERVICE CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY. The Romanian Intelligence Service marked its fifth anniversary on 25 March with the opening of a new building for the Romanian Higher Institute of Information, the service's training school. The festivities were attended by President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, Chief-of-Staff Gen. Col. Dumitru Cioflina, Interior Minister Doru Ioan Taracila, and other high-ranking officials. Leading representatives of the opposition, including PNT-CD Chairman Corneliu Coposu, were also present. Radio Bucharest quoted SRI head Virgil Magureanu as saying that his organization's image was improving and that its activities are now similar to those in countries with democratic traditions. The SRI has often been criticized for allegedly perpetuating some of the practices of the former communist political police. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. SELF-STYLED DNIESTER REPUBLIC HOLDS ELECTIONS, REFERENDUM. Elections took place in the self-styled Dniester Republic on 26 March, Western agencies reported. A referendum was also held on whether the 14th Russian Army should remain in the region "as a guarantor of peace and stability." The region's pro-Russian leaders organized the plebiscite in an attempt to reinforce their separatist claims. Participation was reportedly high. According to preliminary results, 94% of the voters cast their ballot in favor of the continued presence of the 14th army there. But Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popov said his government would reject the results of both the local elections and the referendum, and he called the Dniester region a "ghost republic created with the support of Moscow." Moldova has scheduled local elections for 16 April. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT ON STUDENTS' PROTESTS. The Moldovan government said protests staged by students are "illegal and directed against the state." The statement was released after a cabinet meeting on 26 March. Meanwhile, protests continued for the seventh consecutive day in Chisinau and elsewhere, with demonstrators demanding that courses in the Romanian language and Romanian history be restored in schools. Romanian newspapers reported that Chisinau on 26 March ordered that the frontier between Moldova and Romania be closed. More demonstrations are expected on 27 March, the anniversary of Bessarabia's union with Romania in 1918. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. TENSIONS GROW BETWEEN BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AND GOVERNMENT OVER "MULTIGRUP AFFAIR." Zhelyu Zhelev and the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party have both been accused of close ties with the private financial organization Multigrup, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 27 March. Filip Dimitrov, former leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, asked the present government about its alleged ties with Multigrup. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov responded by saying there are connections between the organization and UDF. He said Zhelev's presidential campaign in 1991 was financed by Multigrup. Multigrup Vice President Dimitar Ivanov confirmed that Zhelev received support from members of Multigrup because his program was "close" to their views on how to move toward a market economy, Duma reported. Valentin Stoyanov, Zhelev's spokesman, told Darik Radio that Zhelev immediately returned the money to Multigrup. The financial organization unites some of Bulgaria's largest private enterprises. It is also said to control large parts of the Bulgarian economy and to have strong political influence. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AMENDMENT TO LAND LAW. The Bulgarian parliament has approved the first paragraph of an amendment to the land law, Demokratsiya reported on 25 March. The amendment was passed by the Socialist majority the previous day. Under the amended law, companies with foreign capital would not be allowed to own land. The parliament agricultural commission proposed dropping this paragraph, arguing that it will obstruct investment in the agricultural sector. The change was voted on 24 March in order to meet the two-week deadline between the first and second readings of the amendment. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES TO COOPERATE. The People's Union is to cooperate with the Union of Democratic Forces, Demokratsiya reported on 27 March. A document issued after a two-day meeting of the PU's leadership calls for cooperation of all "non-communist forces" in Bulgaria based on equality and "mutual respect of ideological and organizational principles." The PU leadership suggested that the opposition nominate joint mayoral candidates in the next local elections but that municipal councilors be elected on party tickets. Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer, joint leader of the PU, said that a meeting with the UDF leadership will probably take place later this week. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN SHOT IN STORMING OF U.S. EMBASSY. A 19-year-old man was shot in the leg by police when some 200 young Albanians tried to enter the U.S. embassy, international agencies reported. According to hospital officials, the condition of the wounded man was satisfactory following an operation. Young people have been gathering outside the embassy since 23 March, in the mistaken belief that jobs were on offer in the U.S. Newspapers recently ran advertisements for the American immigration lottery. According to Reuters, eyewitnesses alleged that another two people were injured by shots, but police denied the reports. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK POLICE ARRESTS MORE ANTI-ALBANIAN TERRORISTS. Greek police on 25 March arrested another two men suspected of being members of the Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI), international agencies reported the same day. Police found seven assault rifles in the garden of the two men's home in the suburb of Pallini, east of Athens; the weapons are believed to have been stolen in a cross-border raid on an Albanian military camp in April 1994. After the arrests, police launched a nationwide search for MAVI terrorists, conducting house searches in northern Greece and road checks near the Albanian border. Reuters on 26 March quoted a police official as saying that "we have good leads and believe that more arrests will follow soon." -- 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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