|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 77, Part II, 19 April 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. 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 LITHUANIA WANTS EXPLANATION OF KOZYREV'S STATEMENT. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on 18 April called in the Russian ambassador in Vilnius, Nikolai Obertyshev, to explain Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's remarks that Russia might use military force to protect Russians living abroad, BNS reported. Kozyrev also said that Estonia and Latvia were the only two former Soviet republics in which there was talk about a deliberate policy of banishing ethnic Russians. Obertyshev promised Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Secretary Albinas Januska that he would offer an official explanation and said he was certain that the statement did not apply to Lithuania. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA, BELARUS AGREE ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. Lithuanian and Belarusian Environment Ministers Bronius Bradauskas and Mikhail Rusy signed in Minsk on 14 April an agreement on cooperation in the field of environmental protection. Gintautas Siulys, first secretary in the Lithuanian embassy in Minsk, told BNS on 18 April that a joint working group has been set up to monitor protection of water resources, vegetation, and animals as well as industrial waste recycling and other environmental projects. Bradauskas also urged Belarus to sign the Vienna convention on third countries' responsibility in dealing with the consequences of nuclear accidents, He said that Belarus's reluctance to join the convention is preventing Lithuania from receiving international assistance to upgrade its nuclear power plant at Ignalina. He was told that the Belarus Environment Ministry has advised the government to join the convention but that the matter is still under consideration. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRODUCTION DOWN. The Ministry of Statistics has announced that in the first quarter of 1995, the country produced goods worth 28.7 trillion Belarusian rubles, Belarusian Television reported on 17 April. If inflation is taken into account, this figure represents an 11% drop from the same period in 1994. Consumer goods registered the biggest fall and were down by some 2 trillion rubles. The shortfall has fueled inflation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SPLIT OVER ITS DISSOLUTION. The pro-Russian Crimean parliament has split over the issue of dissolving itself and founding a new legislature. Reuters reported on 18 April that 42 deputies out of a total of 98 have asked Kiev to dissolve the assembly, while Ukrainian Radio reported that 50 deputies led by Tatar leader Refat Chubarov have requested that a new parliament be formed. Also on 18 April, Ukrainian activists were prevented from hoisting a Ukrainian flag in front of Simferopol's city hall. Within minutes, the flag was torn down by an on- duty policeman. The activists had official permission to raise the flag, but deputies from the "Russia" and "Russia-Unity" factions were opposed to such a move. The militia also prevented the pro-Russian groups from raising a Russian flag. But the flag of the Crimean Republic was hoisted in front of the city hall. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE WANTS TO INCREASE ARMS EXPORTS. The Ukrainian government has ordered the Ministry for Engineering and the military-industrial complex to increase exports, according to a government press release carried by Interfax. Enterprises under the ministry's supervision were reported to have established contacts with partners in 60 countries and to have exported goods worth $1.5 billion in 1994. Some of these exports would not have been military equipment. By comparison, Russia sold arms worth $1.5-1.7 billion last year. The report said that the ministry has been told to raise the export share of its total production to 20-25% in 1995 and to 25-30% next year. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. IS POLISH GOVERNMENT PREPARING CHANGES IN TV MANAGEMENT? The Financial Control Office has issued a report on Polish Television's (TVP) finances, according to Gazeta Wyborcza on 18 April. The report states that TVP is not ensuring that free-lance producers keep to their submitted budgets, that it rented space for its advertising office instead of constructing a new building, and that it has no fewer than 20 people working in its legal department. These policies have been defended by the TVP management, but the Polish daily claims that the report can be used by the finance minister to recall TVP President Wieslaw Walendziak, whose independent actions have not always found favor with the government. The law on radio and TV states that only the TVP Supervisory Board has the power to recall the TVP president. The commercial code, however, states that the owner of a company can dismiss the president and board of directors if blatant mismanagement can be proven. In the case of TVP, which is state-owned, the minister of finance is empowered to act as the sole representative of the owner. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PARTIAL CENSUS TO TAKE PLACE IN MAY. Poland's first official census since 1988 will be held from 18-31 May, the Central Statistical Office announced on 18 April. Some 10,000 polling agents will visit 600,000 households to collect data on incomes, unemployment, migration, housing conditions, and other social issues. About 5% of Poland's population of 38 million will be covered by the census. A full census is not planned until 2000. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PRESIDENT'S POPULARITY AT RECORD HIGH. Vaclav Havel's popularity has risen to its highest level since he became Czech president 28 months ago, according to an opinion poll published by the Czech press on 19 April. Havel won an approval rating of 78%, up three points since the last poll, taken by the Center for Empirical Research in February. The gap between Havel and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus widened to 24 points. Klaus's popularity, which dropped 17 points in the year to February, remained stable at 54%. But Klaus's Civic Democratic Party stayed well ahead of other parties, with 29%. It was followed by the opposition Social Democrats (20.6%) and the Communist Party (9.7%). The Civic Democratic Alliance's rating continued to fall, to 7.9%. But the poll indicated that the four government parties would gain 119 of the 200 parliament seats if a general election were to be held now. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. NEW HEAD OF SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE APPOINTED. Government spokesman Tomas Hasala on 18 April announced that Ivan Lexa, a deputy of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, has been named director of the Slovak Information Service. The move follows the recent passage of a law transferring the power to appoint the SIS director from the president to the government. Praca reports that Meciar, in naming Lexa, referred to him as "the most competent [person] for the post." President Michal Kovac rejected Lexa for the position in 1993. Vladimir Mitro submitted his resignation as SIS director in February after a dispute with the government. Also on 18 April, Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk submitted to the cabinet a proposal on setting up a nongovernment agency aimed at improving information about Slovakia abroad. Several other ministries will participate in the project, and the final version of the law is expected to be ready by the end of May. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FRANCE WANTS UN SECURITY COUNCIL SESSION ON BOSNIA. International media reported on 18 April that Paris has demanded a special meeting of the leading UN body in order to grant peacekeepers permission to use force more easily in response to attacks. France has also threatened to pull out its 4,500-member UNPROFOR contingent unless the cease-fire is extended beyond 1 May and unless peace talks resume. The demands come in the wake of the killing of two French soldiers in Bosnia and of increased Serbian shelling of Sarajevo. But the key factor behind the calls seems to be the hotly contested presidential election on 23 April in a country where the Bosnian war and the safety of peacekeepers attract voters' attention. AFP notes that Prime Minister Edouard Balladur has stressed the possibility of withdrawal, while his rival Jacques Chirac wants ultimatums to be issued and air strikes to follow. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. OTHER BOSNIAN DEVELOPMENTS. The 19 April edition of the Los Angeles Times reported that Bosnian Serb forces the previous day refused to guarantee the safety of an aircraft taking U.S. Ambassador Victor Jackovich from Sarajevo to his new posting in Slovenia. He was forced to use the hazardous land route instead. Secretary of State Warren Christopher noted that Bosnia "is a very dangerous place for Americans to serve" and called the Serbian move "unjustified and outrageous." But a BBC commentary on the latest French demands and on Christopher's remarks suggested that the international community's weakness in the face of aggression to date makes it unlikely that the Serbs will take the latest threats seriously. Meanwhile in Serb-controlled Bosnian territory, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic visited Banja Luka and the front lines in central Bosnia where he promised a shakeup in the civilian and military leaderships. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH MEDIATORS. Nasa Borba on 19 April reported that Slobodan Milosevic met the previous day with UN envoy Thorvald Stoltenberg and EU mediator Lord Owen. According to Reuters, the international mediators expected to discuss Belgrade's alleged violations of the rump Yugoslavia's blockade of the Bosnian Serbs. But Tanjug reported only that the talks centered on "further activities aimed at the intensification of the peace process." Meanwhile, Politika reported that Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle gave an interview to the Slovenian daily Dnevnik in which he said that before the war started, he "knew nothing" about Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, who is the leader of the Serbian paramilitary "Tigers" and currently wanted by Interpol for genocide. Pavle also noted that he first learned from the Swedish embassy in Belgrade that Arkan "listens only to the orders of the Serbian patriarch." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. CROATIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CLAIMS HARASSMENT. Novi list on 14 April quoted the Croatian Independent Democrats as charging that the Interior Ministry has formed a special unit to spy on the party and bug its telephones. Other opposition parties have voiced similar complaints, and some have experienced mysterious bombings of their offices or have found their leaders evicted from their apartments. Nasa Borba on 18 April reported on other evictions, namely of Serbs, and on other violations of human rights encountered by Serbs living in areas under Croatian government control. The article was based on materials compiled by the Croatian Helsinki Committee. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ISTRIANS CALL FOR AUTONOMY. The First World Congress of Istrians, which closed in Pula on 15 April, endorsed a declaration calling for broad autonomy for Istrians in Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy as well as for minority rights, Belgrade and Zagreb dailies reported. The congress said that Istria should become a Euroregion linking the three countries, according to the full text of the meeting published in Slobodna Dalmacija on 19 April. A group loyal to the Croatian government tried to introduce an alternative resolution that did not endorse autonomy, which the Zagreb authorities regard as subversive. Vjesnik charged that autonomy would "open a Pandora's box." Politika, however, ran a headline saying "Istrians want no borders" and called the alternative resolution "an unsuccessful provocation" by Croatia's governing party. Some observers predict that Zagreb still intends to have the last word. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVO UPDATE. Three unidentified ethnic Albanian politicians have been sentenced to two-year prison terms by the Pec local court, international agencies reported on 18 April. The accused have been charged with planning secession from Serbia. A lawyer is quoted as saying that it was "a staged political trial." Meanwhile, the number of ethnic Albanian policemen from Kosovo who have been charged with creating a shadow Kosovar Interior Ministry has risen to 71. The former policemen, who deny the charges, are among the 172 ethnic Albanian police officers who were arrested between November and December 1994. According to official sources, 11 policemen continue to evade the authorities. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN SUPREME COURT OVERRULES MAYOR'S DISMISSAL. Romanian Television on 18 April reported that the Supreme Court of Justice has overruled a government decision to dismiss Nicolae Vrabiescu, mayor of a Bucharest municipal district and a member of the opposition National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic. Vrabiescu was fired in March allegedly for abuse of power, violation of the law, and neglecting the interests of the district's residents. His name was added to the long list of opposition mayors dismissed by the government. Vrabiescu appealed the decision to a Bucharest municipal tribunal, but the hearing was repeatedly postponed. The Supreme Court, ruling that the tribunal should hear the case, reinstated Vrabiescu as mayor until a decision is reached by the lower court. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION LEADER SLAMS PRESIDENTIAL INITIATIVE. In an interview with Interfax on 18 April, Valery Senik, chairman of the opposition Socialist Party of Moldova, criticized President Mircea Snegur's initiative to amend the country's constitution. Snegur, responding to the demands of striking students and teachers, has proposed that Article 13, which stipulates that the state language is "Moldovan," be amended (see ORMI Daily Digest, 18 April 1995). Senik said he doubted that the parliament would approve the change, since neither Snegur's Democratic Agrarian Party nor the opposition left-wing bloc were likely to support it. Together, these factions have a majority of 84 out of 104 deputies. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AND PREMIER CLASH OVER NATO MEMBERSHIP. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 18 April said Bulgaria is in no hurry to apply for NATO membership, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. He said Bulgaria's candidacy for full membership will be appropriate when NATO evolves into a "system of collective and regional security." He also noted that the government is not ready to meet the terms of full membership if these include deployment of nuclear weapons and foreign troops in Bulgaria. President Zhelyu Zhelev, in his annual speech on foreign policy, said on 17 April that his country deserves to become a member of NATO because it is an oasis of calm in the turbulent Balkan region, Reuters reported the same day. He said it is "very important that Bulgaria declares clearly and categorically its urgent request for NATO membership." Zhelev argued that Bulgaria's inclusion in the Western military alliance would create "a NATO triangle on the Balkans pitched between Ankara, Sofia, and Athens," since Bulgaria has good relations with both neighbors. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREECE, ALBANIA NEGOTIATE OVER MINORITIES. Greece and Albania on 18 April resumed talks on the status of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania and of Albanian workers in Greece, AFP reported the same day. The talks, which were broken off 11 months ago, are taking place in Athens at the level of state secretary. Greece is expected to press for further rights of the Greek minority in the education system, while Albania's main concern is the possible legalization of Albanians who work and live illegally in Greece. Negotiations between Athens and Tirana had been suspended after an attack on an Albanian army barrack in April 1994 and the subsequent arrest and trial of five ethnic Greeks in Albania led to serious tensions between the two countries. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. COMMUNIST ALBANIA TRAINED FOREIGN TERRORISTS. Blerim Cela, head of the Albanian anti-corruption agency, has said that Albania trained and financed foreign terrorist groups from 1964 to 1970, international agencies reported on 18 April. He said that an $11.6 million "solidarity fund" was created and that small Marxist-Leninist groups--mainly from Sudan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Ecuador--attended training courses at Albanian military schools and in the Albanian army. About $4 million from the fund were used to support left-wing groups in Italy, Germany, and France and to promote Enver Hoxha's publications in foreign languages. Another $400,000 were reportedly appropriated by deputy party leader Namik Dokle to buy a printing machine for the party newspaper Zeri I Popullit in Denmark or Canada. The machine never materialized. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. HOXHA'S SON UNDER HOUSE ARREST. The son of the late Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha has been placed under house arrest on charges of calling for an uprising in an interview about his father, international agencies reported on 18 April. Hoxha reportedly said that "it was not the people who toppled the monument of my father, but the mob. The people were the ones who went out to protect him." He added that "ordinary people in Albania are afraid. They no longer have an Enver Hoxha to protect them." He is also quoted as threatening that "one day, those people who scoffed at my father and my family will have to pay for it." -- 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. 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