|The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde|
No. 75, Part II, 14 April 1995
NOTICE TO READERS: THE DAILY DIGEST WILL NOT APPEAR ON MONDAY, 17 APRIL 1995, A CZECH NATIONAL HOLIDAY. 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. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE TO CLOSE CHORNOBYL BY 2000. International agencies on 13 April reported that Ukraine has agreed to close down the Chornobyl nuclear power station by 2000. The closure is conditional on additional Western aid totaling $4.4 billion. These funds would be used to build a gas- fired station to replace Chornobyl and a new sarcophagus around the damaged No. 3 reactor as well as to provide a social plan to the 5,000 Chornobyl employees who will be laid off. If the money is not forthcoming, the plant will remain operational until the end of its planned service period in 2011. While there are no definite agreements from the EU or G-7 on how much they will contribute to close Chornobyl, Ukraine's presidential national security adviser Volodymyr Horbulin said the country will draw up a plan for the facility's closure by 15 May, He said that after this date, another G-7 summit should be held to discuss the issue. In related news, AFP reported on 12 April that the World Bank has agreed to lend Ukraine $114 million over 17 years to upgrade its eight hydropower plants and for other energy projects. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE STARTS SERVICING DEBT TO RUSSIA. Radio Mayak on 13 April quoted Russian Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov as saying that Ukraine has given Russia $50 million toward paying off its debt. Panskov said Russia's recent agreement to restructure Ukraine's debt was a decisive factor in Kiev's decision to begin servicing its debt arrears. He also said he believes Kiev is using part of its IMF credits to pay off the debt. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN UPDATE. Crimean parliament speaker Serhii Tsekov said he is unhappy with the results of his talks with the Ukrainian parliament on 13 April, Ekho Moskvy reported. Tsekov attended meetings with the deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma, Gennady Seleznev. According to Tsekov, Kiev is not interested in reaching a compromise with Crimea and prefers to issue ultimatums. Several days earlier, Tsekov visited Moscow, where he met with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying after the talks that Russia hoped for a constructive dialogue between Kiev and Simferopol and a solution to their problems that fully respected Ukraine's territorial integrity. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT AGREES TO REFERENDUM, RATIFIES RUSSIAN TREATY. The Belarusian parliament has agreed to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's proposal to hold a referendum on pursuing economic integration with Russia, issuing new state symbols resembling those of the Soviet era, giving Russian the status of official language, and granting the president the right to dissolve the parliament, international agencies reported on 13 April. The results of the referendum will be binding, but deputies added the provision that any presidential decision on dissolving the parliament will be of an advisory nature only. The parliament several days previously rejected all referendum questions, except that on economic integration with Russia, prompting nationalist deputies to hold a hunger strike in the parliament. Belarusian Television on 12 April reported that the parliament ratified the Russian-Belarusian treaty on friendship and cooperation by a vote of 197 to one with four abstentions. Nationalist deputies refused to take part in the vote. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA PASSES LAW ON STATUS OF FORMER SOVIET CITIZENS. The Saeima on 12 April passed a law on the status of former Soviet citizens who have neither Latvian citizenship nor that of any other country, BNS reported the next day. The law allows former Soviet citizens who arrived in Latvia before 1 July 1992 and are permanently registered there to receive a non-citizens passport. This document will allow them to go abroad and return to Latvia without any other documentation. The law guarantees them the same rights and freedoms as Latvian citizens. It does not apply to individuals who retired from the Soviet armed forces after 28 January 1992 and did not live in Latvia prior to service. The status of persons who arrived after July 1992 is determined by the law on the arrival and stay in Latvia of foreigners and stateless persons. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA SEEKS TO REDUCE REFUGEE INFLOW. In an attempt to reduce the flow of illegal refugees passing through Latvia to Western Europe, the Saeima on 12 April increased the penalties for illegally crossing the Latvian border or transporting individuals across it, BNS reported the next day. The penalty for illegal crossing was increased from one year to three years in prison or a fine equivalent to 60 monthly minimum salaries as well as vehicle confiscation. The current minimum salary is 28 lati ($55). Officials who are involved in migrant trafficking and migrant traffickers convicted more than once can be imprisoned for up to seven years and have property confiscated. Individuals who bring groups of five or more refugees across the border can be imprisoned from five to 10 years in addition to property confiscation. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN ELECTED EBRD VICE PRESIDENT. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, at its annual meeting in London on 8-12 April, elected the Estonian and Canadian finance ministers as vice presidents of the bank's board of governors, BNS reported on 13 April. Estonia's new finance minister, Mart Opman, will become EBRD vice president when he is sworn in as minister on 17 April. The election is seen by Estonian officials as a sign of international approval of the country's reform policies. It will give Estonia better access to information about EBRD's policy formation and an increased role in that process. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. GROWING TENSIONS BETWEEN POLISH PRESIDENT AND PREMIER OVER MOSCOW V-DAY CELEBRATIONS. Polish President Lech Walesa's spokesman on 13 April said that Poland "will not be officially represented in Moscow" at ceremonies commemorating the end of World War II in Europe, Polish media reported. He noted that Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, who has accepted an invitation to attend the Moscow celebrations, would "oppose the will of the president" if he went there. Moreover, he would attend as a private individual or as a representative of his postcommunist Alliance of the Democratic Left. Walesa's spokesman pointed to the Polish constitution, which states that the president supervises foreign policy and national security. He interpreted this provision to mean that only the president, or someone empowered by him, can represent Poland abroad. Oleksy's spokeswoman, however, said that if the premier attended, he would represent the Polish government. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. WARSAW AND MOSCOW DAILIES ON POLISH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. The Moscow daily Rossiiskie Vesti on 12 April published an article on Russian-Polish relations, from both a historical and contemporary perspective. The daily praised the Polish prewar policy of keeping an equal distance from Germany and Russia. It noted that Poland should be interested in all- European security structures such as the OSCE rather than NATO and suggested that the 1992 Russian-Polish treaty on friendship and cooperation be renegotiated. Polish commentators, responding to the Rossiiskie Vesti article the next day, said that keeping an equal distance from Germany and Russia had resulted in the 1939 Ribbentrop- Molotov pact and the subsequent aggression of both signatory countries against Poland. They commented that it is now reasonable for Poland to aim at membership in the only durable and stable security structure in Europe--NATO. As a counterweight to the Rossiiskie Vesti comments, Gazeta Wyborcza published a translation of an article from the 8 April edition of the Moscow daily Sevodnia saying that NATO had brought stability to the area and that Russian politicians' sensitiveness vis-a- vis NATO is "irrational." -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH REPUBLIC GETS TOUGH WITH SKINHEAD OFFENDERS. A court in Jablonec nad Nisou on 13 April sentenced three skinheads to prison terms ranging from 18 to 22 months, Czech media reported. The three men last June threw a Molotov cocktail into an apartment inhabited by Roma. One month later, they set another apartment on fire, causing serious burns to two Roma women. Meanwhile, the regional court in Ceske Budejovice has responded to an appeal to overturn a ruling made last December by a district court in Pisek. The Pisek court had ruled that it could not be proven that an attack by a group of skinheads on four Roma last September was racially motivated; it sentenced only two of the skinheads to short suspended prison terms. One Roma was killed in the attack. The Ceske Budejovice court ordered a new investigation into the case. In yet another trial, a Prague court sentenced four skinheads to suspended prison terms for shouting Nazi slogans and making Nazi salutes during a gathering of skinheads in a Prague restaurant last year. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAKIA DECLINES THIRD INSTALLMENT OF IMF LOAN. A Finance Ministry official on 13 April said Slovakia will not claim the third installment of its stand-by loan from the IMF, Hospodarske noviny reported. He commented that although the Slovak cabinet approved the ministry's memorandum on economic policy on 11 April, the document will serve only as "confirmation of the credibility and reliability of Slovakia's economic policy." The document was drawn up for the IMF. Slovakia's decision is based on the fact that the country's foreign currency reserves have reached $4.1 billion, while macroeconomic indicators are largely positive. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Television on 11 April, said "Slovakia wants to cooperate with the IMF in order to have its trust, but [the country] no longer needs and no longer intends to accept the offers that it received." Meciar criticized the IMF's recommendations that Slovakia reduce benefits for families, raise the retirement age, and radically increase energy prices for households. The memorandum nonetheless states that gas and electricity prices will go up by at least 10% this year. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK ECONOMIC UPDATE. According to the Slovak Statistical Office, in February the country's monthly inflation rate was 0.5%, and its annual rate 11.5%, TASR reported on 13 April. Prices of consumer goods and services increased on average by 0.5%. Prices of nonfood items and services increased by 0.6% and 1.1%, while food prices fell by 0.3%. Living costs rose by an average of 0.3%. In January and February, industrial production grew by 7.4% over the previous year; construction output fell by 0.6% (although in February it was 11.5% up on the previous month), and the income of agricultural enterprises increased by 2.1%. Despite the passage of a restrictive state budget for the first three months of 1995, Slovakia's budget deficit reached 4.17 billion koruny by the end of February. The country also registered a trade deficit during the same period. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN FIGHTING CONTINUES. International media on 13 and 14 April reported that fighting in several areas around Bosnia-Herzegovina shows little sign of abating. Croatia's Hina, citing Sarajevo Radio, reported that Serbs from Croatia's Krajina area, supported by rebel Bosnian Muslim troops, resumed their assaults on Bosnian government forces near Velika Kladusa, in northwestern Bosnia. Western news agencies described the fighting in that region as fierce. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who has seemingly been feuding with Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic, has publicly praised Milosevic for his recent unwillingness to extend recognition to Bosnia- Herzegovina. Reuters reported that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has advised government forces to brace for war when the cease-fire expires on 30 April. Finally, Nasa Borba also reported that on their recent visit to Belgrade, members of the international Contact Group met not only with government officials but with members of Serbia's opposition parties. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. DUBROVNIK SHELLED. Croatian media reported that on 13 April Croatia's Adriatic city of Dubrovnik and its surrounding area were the target of artillery shelling. One person was killed, and at least three wounded. Croatian authorities have blamed "Bosnian Serb paramilitaries" for the attacks, and Reuters observes that Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic has sent "a protest letter to the UN Security Council saying the Croatian army had not retaliated but would if the Serbs attacked again." Dubrovnik is situated some 10 kilometers from Bosnian Serb-held territory. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. DID THE RUSSIAN GENERAL BACK THE SERBS? Reuters on 13 April quotes Western sources in Zagreb as confirming that Maj. Gen. Alexander Perelyakin was ousted following allegations of corruption and favoring the Serbian side. Perelyakin was fired as commander of Belgian and Russian peacekeepers in Serb-held Croatian territories on 11 April. But Russian Foreign Ministry sources continue to flatly deny that Perel- yakin was biased in favor of the Serbs and insist there is no concrete evidence to substantiate the contrary, Interfax reports. For its part the Russian daily Izvestiya cited Russian Foreign Ministry officials as saying that Perel-yakin's ouster was calculated to drive the Russian peacekeepers from the former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIA, GREECE HALT SERBIA-BOUND CONTRABAND. International media on 13 April reported that Macedonia and Greece, in separate incidents, seized oil drilling equipment that UN sources say was bound for Serbia. AFP reports that Greek officials detained shipments of 1,866 tons of equipment, believed to have been sent by the Canadian group Triton from Iran. Meanwhile, Macedonian authorities seized 13 truck-loads of equipment at Gev-gelija, near Macedonia's border with Greece. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIA, TURKEY SIGN ACCORD. Macedonian Minister of Defense Blagoj Handziski and his Turkish counterpart, Mehmet Gol-han, on 13 April signed a military cooperation accord, international media reported. Under the terms of the agreement, both countries are obliged to exchange military and technological data. An already existing accord between the two nations permits Macedonian officers to train in Turkey. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA'S RULING PARTY SAYS CABINET SOON TO BE RESHUFFLED. Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), told journalists on 13 April that a cabinet reshuffle is "certain" to take place in the near future. He made this statement before a meeting of the PDSR's Standing Delegation, which discussed, among other things, the party's relations with the signatories to the so-called "Four-Party Protocols." Nastase said his party will hold talks with its partners early next week. In a related development, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu and other senior cabinet members on 13 April met with the leadership of the Socialist Labor Party (PSM), Romania's reborn Communists. The PSM, which is a signatory to the four-party political pact, urged the government to offer better protection for national industry as well as low-income social groups. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA. Miguel Angel Martinez, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, arrived in Bucharest on 10 April for an official visit, Radio Bucharest reported. Martinez met the same day with Romanian President Ion Iliescu and on 13 April held talks with Romanian Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, and members of Romania's delegation to the Council of Europe. The talks focused on the country's integration into European structures and its democratic progress. Martinez urged Romania and Hungary to overcome differences and sign a long-delayed basic treaty. -- Dan Ionescu DNIESTER LEADER ON PROTESTS IN CHISINAU. Grigory Marakutsa, parliament chairman of Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, told Infotag on 12 April that the continuing demonstrations in Chisinau proved once more that "the threat of [Moldova's possible] unification with Romania was still present." He added that as long as this threat existed, Tiraspol should "spare no efforts to strengthen its own statehood." Asked whether the leadership in Tiraspol would accept a special status for Transdniester within the Republic of Moldova, Marakutsa said such a status can be easily revoked or altered. By way of example, he pointed to the case of Crimea. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. LEBED SKEPTICAL ABOUT WITHDRAWING 14TH ARMY FROM MOLDOVA. Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, commander of the 14th Russian Army headquartered in Tiraspol, told Interfax on 13 April that he believed his troops could not leave the Dniester region within the next three years. He cited political, economic, and technical reasons. The main political reason, he said, was the outcome of the 26 March referendum in Transdniester: more than 90% of the population there opposed the withdrawal of the 14th Army. Meanwhile, Basapres on 12 April quoted Dumitru Diacov, chairman of the Moldovan parliament's foreign relations commission, as saying that Chisinau intended to send a parliament delegation to the Russian State Duma to explain its stance on the 14th army issue. -- Dan Ionescu, 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. 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