|Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead|
No. 124, Part II, 27 June 1995
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ + Dear Daily Digest Reader: + + If you are not already acquainted with OMRI's analytical journal, + + Transition, we would be happy to send you a sample copy. Transition + + is a biweekly print publication that covers the same topics as the + + Daily Digest, but in greater depth. To receive your copy, send an + + e-mail message to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ with your postal address and + + mention that you are a Daily Digest subscriber. + ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 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 NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC GROUPS PICKET UKRAINIAN TV AND RADIO. Members of a new media monitoring group and national democratic forces picketed the offices of Ukrainian TV and Radio in Kiev on 26 June to protest what they called its anti-Ukrainian programming, UNIAR and Radio Ukraine reported the same day. Speakers at the rally complained about a lack of quality Ukrainian-language programming and a proliferation of broadcasts from neighboring Russia. They said the Ukrainian press is dying out, while cheaper newspapers from Russia are dominating the Ukrainian market. Information Minister Mykhailo Onufriichuk said recently that 25% of the country's national publications are published in the Ukrainian language. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CULT FOLLOWERS CLAIM DISCRIMINATION. More than 50 followers of the so- called White Brotherhood doomsday cult complained to the general prosecutor's office alleging unfair treatment by judges and the media of three cult leaders currently on trial in Kiev after clashing with militia in November 1993, Radio Ukraine and UNIAR reported on 26 June. They complained that judges and the media have treated the cult leaders as guilty before the charges have been proven and said they have been barred from the courtroom even though the trial is open to the public. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN TATARS CLASH WITH CRIMINAL GANGS. Crimean Tatar merchants on 24 June clashed in a village near the town of Feodosia with alleged members of a criminal gang who demanded protection money, UNIAR and Radio Ukraine reported on 26 June. Two Tatars died in the scuffle. When the local militia arrived, members of the gang disappeared. Later that day, the angered Tatars stormed and destroyed several shops run by the alleged criminal group, set fire to automobiles and kidnapped the head of the Feodosia militia. Outside the town of Sudak, assailants dressed in camouflage uniforms, as described by UNIAR, fired shots at Tatars, killing two and wounding seven. Ukrainian radio reported the shots were fired by local militia. Tatar leaders, who for months have been demanding protection from growing crime in the region and accused local law enforcement of ties with organized crime, met with Crimean Prime Minister Anatolii Franchuk on 25 June. The Crimean government and parliamentary presidium met in emergency sessions on 25 and 26 June and formed a special commission to deal with the crisis. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. RATIFICATION OF ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi in an article in Postimees of 26 June suggested that Russia should ratify the free trade agreement it signed with Estonia nearly three years ago along with the agreements on Russian troop withdrawal and social guarantees for military retirees that were signed by Presidents Lennart Meri and Boris Yeltsin in July 1994, BNS reported. Vahi noted that even though Estonia had also not ratified the free trade agreement, it was acting as if it were in force with no trade barriers while Russia had imposed high custom duties on Estonian exports. Vahi added that he expected to discuss these issues as well as that of the Treaty of Tartu and the border demarcation with senior Russian officials. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. AMENDMENTS TO LATVIAN CONSTITUTION. Latvia's Farmers' Union has decided to submit to the Central Election Committee (CEC) in July draft amendments to the constitution for which it has been gathering signatures since 11 April, BNS reported on 26 June. The amendments provide for the direct election of the president rather than by the Saeima and an increase in his political responsibility. The terms of office for the president and Saeima would also be increased from three to four years. After more than 10,000 signatures are verified, the CEC submits the amendments to the president who will pass them on to the Saeima for consideration. If the Saeima rejects the amendments or approves them with "considerable corrections," a national referendum can be held. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA, RUSSIA PARTLY CHANGE VISA RULES. A provisional Lithuanian- Russian agreement partially changing the rules for citizens crossing the border went into force on 26 June, BNS reported. The requirement of having an invitation to apply for a visa was temporarily abolished for people travelling on trips certified by Russian or Lithuanian tourist agencies or having an accommodation voucher for a holiday home, sanatorium, or other recreational institution in either country. Lithuanian and Russian citizens who are permanent residents of the other country will also be able to travel in both countries without visas. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL ON APRIL HUNGER STRIKE. Belarusian television reported on 23 June that Prosecutor General Vasil Kapitan has received a film of the events from the night of 11-12 April when 19 deputies were removed from the parliament by force while they staged a hunger strike. The opposition charged that the deputies were manhandled during their removal, which was ordered by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Kapitan received the film in May, but the evacuation of the deputies was not on the reel even though two cameras had been filming the event. An assistant of Lukashenka had promised to deliver the entire film on 22 June. Lukashenka himself said that if the matter had been left to rest it would have been forgotten by now. The film will now be classified as material evidence. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH-GERMAN TENSIONS. Poland's Foreign Ministry summoned German ambassador Johannes Bauch on 26 June to protest the expulsion of 300 job-seeking Poles on 24 June. The Poles, from the border town of Slubice, responded to a notice offering 100 marks a day for distributing newspapers and handbills in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder on the German side of the frontier. The Polish press said that the Poles were accused of seeking work without permits and were expelled by police carrying batons and accompanied by unmuzzled dogs. Ambassador Bauch said that the incident was serious and should not have happened. The incident threatens to cast a shadow over Chancellor Helmut Kohl's 6-8 July visit to Poland, Polish and international agencies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH, AMERICAN PRESIDENTS MEET. Polish President Lech Walesa, who took part in ceremonies in San Francisco marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter, on 26 June met US President Bill Clinton. Walesa said they discussed Poland's admission to NATO and the European Union and Polish-Jewish relations, Polish and international media reported on 27 June. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH TRADE DEFICIT CONTINUES TO GROW. The Czech Republic's foreign trade deficit grew in May to reach 38.8 billion koruny for the first five months of 1995, according to figures published by the Statistics Office on 26 June. Compared with the same period last year, when a surplus of 13 billion koruny was recorded, imports grew by 36.4% and exports by only 3.1%. Government ministers have said they are not worried by the rising deficit but the Trade and Industry Ministry spokesman said the situation will be reviewed when figures for the first half of the year are available, Mlada fronta dnes reported. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus has denied the need for a policy to encourage exporters but the spokesmen said the topic needs to be discussed further. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. EXPLOSION IN SEMTEX MAKERS' FACTORY KILLS WORKER. One man died in a gunpowder explosion at the Explozia factory in East Bohemia on 26 June, Czech media report. A resulting fire was quickly extinguished. The factory is part of the complex of the Synthesia company, makers of Semtex. It was the second fatal accident at the plant in the last two years. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT ON SECRET SERVICE. During its session on 26 June, the parliament made changes to the Separate Control Organ (OKO) which oversees the activities of the Slovak Information Service (SIS). Igor Urban of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia was appointed OKO chairman, replacing Ivan Lexa, who in April was named SIS director. Proposals to widen the membership of the OKO and include representatives of the opposition were rejected, and the organ continues to have four members and a chairman, all of whom represent the coalition parties. Urban told Narodna obroda that he was against opposition proposals to give each parliamentary caucus representation because he has "reservations" about having representatives of the Hungarian coalition serve on the OKO. In May the presentation of a report by OKO, accusing the president and opposition of using the SIS for their own benefit, led to a non-binding vote of no-confidence in President Michal Kovac. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE EUROPEAN UNION LEADERS ON BOSNIA. The BBC on 27 June reported that European Union leaders meeting in the French resort city of Cannes have reached consensus on a new five-point "action plan" for Bosnia which recognizes an ostensibly beefed-up role for the rapid reaction force that consists largely of French and British peacekeepers. According to Reuters, the European leaders have, among other things, called for the immediate lifting of the siege of Sarajevo and the opening of a land corridor to the Adriatic. French President Jacques Chirac maintained that the peacekeepers will have greater leeway in confronting force, the BBC reported. Nevertheless, newly appointed EU mediator Carl Bildt has been mandated to press ahead with diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflicts in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina. When queried as to how the latest plan, with its emphasis on diplomatic solutions, differs from previous efforts, Chirac, harkening back to the UN peacekeepers taken hostage by Bosnian Serb forces in the wake of the 25-26 May NATO airstrikes on Bosnian Serb targets, stressed that the new initiative is buttressed by a new European resolve to avoid being compromised and humiliated. "Military firmness must be accompanied by firmness on the diplomatic level," he was quoted by Reuters as saying. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERBS STEP UP VIOLENCE. Reuters on 27 June also reported that Bosnian Serb forces launched several mortar attacks in and around Sarajevo the previous day, resulting in at least one death and eight people wounded. Two French peacekeepers were among the casualties. On 26 June, AFP reported that Bosnian Serb troops had fired rounds at a UN convoy using the Mount Igman route into Sarajevo. French peacekeepers reportedly fired warning shots in response to continuing Serb attacks. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. GERMANY POISED TO SEND TROOPS TO BOSNIA. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other leading German dailies report on 27 June on the cabinet decision to send some 1, 500 German troops and fighter planes as support for the international peacekeeping effort in Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to the accounts, the parliament is slated to vote on the cabinet's resolution on 30 June, and despite anticipated opposition from left-wing members, the plan is expected to pass. On 26 June the rump Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported that news of Germany's expected contribution to peacekeeping is being greeted negatively in Belgrade, which has condemned the German initiative. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA ACCUSES HUNGARY OF RESURRECTING "HISTORICAL DISPUTE." The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a declaration issued on 26 June and carried by Radio Bucharest, accused the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of sponsoring and circulating translations of a tract that resurrects the "historical dispute" over which nation first settled in Transylvania. The declaration says the tract revives the claim that Romanians settled in the region only in the 16th century and adds that the sponsorship "complicates even more the process of negotiating a bilateral treaty." The Romanian side has demanded that the Hungarians withdraw the tract from circulation and places the "whole responsibility" for "tainting the political climate" between the two countries on the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hungary rejected the accusation as "exaggerated, groundless and senseless," pointing out that the four-page tract is used by Romania as an excuse to attack Budapest. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. RIS SUSPENDS AGENTS INVOLVED IN ILIESCU KGB SCANDAL. The Romanian Intelligence Service on 26 June announced that it had suspended the two agents involved in trailing the journalist who first alleged President Ion Iliescu's past links with the KGB (See OMRI Daily Digest, 26 June), Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. The two were said to have "gravely infringed professional rules." The opposition Liberal Party '93 demanded the dismissal of the RIS chief, Virgil Magureanu, and added that the "guilt of the former [communist party] secretary Ion Iliescu in the affair was more than evident." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA SETS VALUE OF PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS. Minister of State in Charge of Economic Reform Mircea Cosea told Radio Bucharest on 26 June that the value of the privatization vouchers which each citizen aged 18 and over will receive has been set at about one million lei (about $485). The vouchers cannot be sold but can be traded for stocks. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SNEGUR LEAVES RULING PARTY. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 26 June announced he was leaving the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM). In a press release carried by Infotag, Snegur said that, "under the influence of extremist forces," the PDAM leadership has recently been displaying "a radical anti-presidential and anti-national policy" which amounted to an attempt to "establish a one-party dictatorship." He said the hostile attitude towards himself had intensified after he proposed to the parliament on 27 April to change the name of the official language back to "Romanian," and added that the intention of some PDAM leaders to organize a referendum on this question was an aberration. Snegur attacked attempts to reduce presidential powers by the majority faction and said some members of the PDAM leadership were voicing doubts about economic reform policies and the intention to integrate Moldova into Western economies, hinting that the country cannot exist and develop outside the CIS framework. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. GRACHEV AND SNEGUR REACH AGREEMENT. Citing Interfax, Radio Bucharest reported on 26 June that Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has reached an agreement with Moldovan President Mircea Snegur concerning the withdrawal of the 14th Army. The radio also cited AFP, according to which Grachev proposed a pullback of the army in three stages: the first two will involve the withdrawal of equipment and munitions and in the last stage the 10,000 Russian soldiers stationed in the Transdniester region will pull out. The withdrawal will take place within the framework of the agreement reached by Russia and Moldova last October, which the Duma has still to ratify. Grachev also said his visit to Moldova prepared Snegur's meeting with president Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on 28 June. Snegur said the talks with Grachev were "constructive and positive." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. OPPOSITION SAYS BULGARIA TURNS INTO POLICE STATE. Vasil Gotsev, deputy chairman of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), on 26 June distributed a memorandum accusing the government of turning Bulgaria into a police state, Demokratsiya reported the following day. The memorandum was handed to deputies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and was signed by SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov and caucus leader Yordan Sokolov. The document focuses on recent amendments to the criminal law and the Code of Criminal Procedures, which allow wiretapping and "other forms of secret control of the citizens' private life." According to Duma, the memorandum also accuses the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) of stopping the transition to democracy and of subjugating the country's economy to economic groups close to the BSP. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN SKINHEAD FINED FOR DESECRATING SOVIET GRAVES. A court in Ruse on 23 June found Anton Rachev, a local skinhead leader, guilty of disseminating fascist propaganda by inciting teenage followers to paint swastikas and Nazi slogans on Soviet military graves in the local cemetery in April, international agencies reported on the same day. Rachev was fined 25,000 leva ($380), while the teenagers were not tried because they are minors. On 10 June, a dormitory for ethnic Turkish students in Ruse was attacked, apparently in an attempt to stop the trial of Rachev. Rachev's prosecutor and local media had received letters threatening new attacks if he was convicted. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. DID THE ALBANIAN COMMUNISTS DRAW UP "DEATH LISTS" IN 1990? Rilindja Demokratike on 23 June carried a story that the ruling Communists drew up death lists of political opponents as late as 1990, a few months before the collapse of the old system. According to the report, up to 80,000 people rated as "dangerous elements" were to be executed without trial. The newspaper accused Secretary General of the Socialist Party Gramoz Ruci of having approved the plans. Ruci, who at that time was interior minister, did not comment on the accusations. Meanwhile, Albanian television reported that only a small portion of the files still exists, and that Ruci had ordered their destruction in early 1991. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle 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 OMRI 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. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.