|Eat to live, and not live to eat. - Benjamin Franklin|
No. 145, Part II, 27 July 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 UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BARS PATRIARCH BURIAL IN ST. SOPHIA'S. Leonid Kuchma has said he will not agree to allow Patriarch Volodymyr, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, to be buried in St. Sophia's Cathedral, Reuters and Ukrainian TV reported on 26 July. This was Kuchma's first public statement on the issue since the 18 July clashes between riot police and mourners at the patriarch's funeral. Kuchma explained his decision by saying he wanted to avoid further tensions between the various rival Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. He also noted that his government will strictly adhere to the separation of Church and state and will refuse to favor one Church over another. He said the use of force by riot police against unarmed mourners was "inexcusable" and stressed that top officials who gave orders to attack the crowd will be held responsible. Kuchma also accused leaders and supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate in 1992, of a deliberate effort to destabilize the socio-political situation in Ukraine by provoking violence. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE BANS HARD CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS. The Ukrainian government has banned the use of foreign currency in cash transactions in the retail trade and service sectors beginning 1 August, UNIAR reported on 26 July. Permission to accept hard currency as payment will be limited to duty free shops at border crossings and airports, foreign travel services, and hotels for foreigners. The National Bank of Ukraine announced the move as a first step toward monetary reform. Ukrainian Radio reported the same day that President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine would introduce its new currency, the hryvna, by the end of October. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE'S ENERGY DEBT. Ukraine has paid $606 million since the beginning of the year to meet its debts to Gazprom, Business segodnia (issue no. 27) reported. Besides cash payments, this total includes $10.2 million for the construction of housing for Gazprom workers, $46.7 million worth of goods, and $377.2 million in services. Gazprom is to supply Ukraine with gas worth $1.365 billion for the year. According to Vek (issue no. 27), Kiev has spent more than 60% of the credits it received from the IMF and EBRD to repay its energy debts to Russia and Turkmenistan. The Deutsche Bank, which has been advising Ukraine on economic and financial affairs, has urged Ukraine to change its energy policies and develop gas and oil deposits discovered in Crimea to reduce its dependency on Russian and Turkmenistan. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN-RUSSIAN CUSTOMS UNION ENCOUNTERS DIFFICULTIES. Russian Public Television on 26 July reported that the customs union between Belarus and Russia, set up less than two months ago, is being violated by the Belarusians. The agreement on the customs union stipulated that Belarus levy excise duties on various goods in line with Russian duties. But the Belarusian customs committee has apparently levied fees on only a third of the goods considered by the Russians to be covered by this provision. As a result, cars, gasoline, precious metals, and other products can be imported cheaply from Russia into Belarus. The report gave the example of four Belarusian importers who managed to import some 4,000 BAZov trucks from Russia to Belarus in less than two months without paying $5 million customs duties on them. The customs committee is now trying to collect the duties retroactively. The television report said it hoped Belarus would soon institute proper controls over imports from Russia. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CONGRESS OF ESTONIAN RURAL PARTIES. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told a congress of rural parties in Tallinn on 26 July that the biggest crisis in the country's agricultural sector was over, BNS reported. But despite his optimism, the congress passed a resolution calling on the government and parliament to exempt private farmers from income tax and to halve the sales tax on agricultural products. It also called for stricter food-quality and veterinary checks on the Estonian border. Vahi said it was possible that the country may introduce import duties on some farm goods, adding these would not exceed 10%. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS COMMERCIAL BANK REGULATIONS. The Latvian cabinet on 18 July adopted regulations on commercial banks, bankruptcies, and guarantees for depositors. Because the Saeima was not in session at the time, the rules remain valid unless rejected by that body. Prime Minister Maris Gailis on 26 July met with the leaders of caucuses to discuss the new regulations, BNS reported. With the exception of the For the Homeland and Freedom caucus, the leaders raised no objections and proposed various amendments, which Gailis agreed to. The Saeima is to vote on 27 July on whether to approve the regulations. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH RIGHT IN DISARRAY. Preparations for this year's presidential elections are working to divide rather than unite Poland's right wing, as a growing number of groups claim the right to select a single right- wing candidate for president. The landscape became more confused on 27 July when a number of parties and splinter groups, including the Confederation for an Independent Poland and the Non-Party Reform Bloc, announced the formation of the Patriotic Political Camp, which plans to collect petitions for five different potential candidates. The new group's formation appears as conflict threatens to divide another umbrella organization, the St. Catherine's Convent, which has been unable to agree which candidate won its own straw poll. In other news, the government's Public Administration Office has worried opposition parties by instructing voivodship chiefs to gather information on presidential campaign rallies, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. CZECH TRADE DEFICIT DEEPENS. The Czech Republic's foreign trade deficit for the first half of 1995 totaled 46.9 billion koruny, the Statistics Office reported on 26 July. For the same period last year, the country had a surplus of 4.2 billion koruny. This year, imports have increased by 32.4% to 261.6 billion koruny, while exports have risen only 6.4% to 214.7 billion koruny. However, the June deficit of 9.2 billion koruny was less than in May, when the shortfall was 11.4 billion koruny. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAKIA CABINET WANTS TO REINTRODUCE DEATH PENALTY. The Slovak cabinet on 25 July approved a note to the Council of Europe asking that the council revise its recommendation that the death penalty be abolished, Reuters reported the following day. The cabinet argued that Slovak citizens believe "the current protection against, and effective prevention of, brutal crimes is insufficient." It stressed that between January 1991 and May 1995, Slovak courts found 48 people guilty of unusually heinous murders, adding that Slovaks needed protection from organized crime. The death penalty was abolished in Czechoslovakia in May 1990 and is forbidden by the Slovak Constitution. Opinion polls published by TASR on 26 July showed that 70% of Slovaks support reintroducing capital punishment, while only 20% are against it. The Slovak National Party, a member of the government coalition, has long been in favor of reintroducing the death penalty. Robert Fico, a deputy for the opposition Party of the Democratic Left who represents Slovakia on the European Commission for Human Rights, said he believes the death penalty is important in the fight against crime, Pravda reported on 27 July. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. SENATE VOTES TO LIFT BOSNIAN ARMS EMBARGO. The Senate voted 69-29 on 26 July to end the embargo against the Bosnian government once UNPROFOR withdraws or within 12 weeks of Sarajevo's asking it to do so. Majority Leader Bob Dole said it was a matter of "whether some small country that's been ravaged on all sides, pillaged, women raped, children killed, has any rights in this world." He received strong bi- partisan support and enough votes to override President Bill Clinton's threatened veto. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein warned that the Serbs want to set up "a Fourth Reich dedicated to the genocide of a people just because they are different." Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic had asked the Senate to "untie our hands so that we may protect ourselves," and later welcomed the outcome of the vote. The VOA called the ballot "a stinging rebuke of [Clinton's] Bosnian policy." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MLADIC CALLS ON GORAZDE TO SURRENDER. Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic told the defenders of Gorazde that if they laid down their arms, his forces would not attack them, Bosnian Serb Radio reported on 26 July. Meanwhile, what the VOA called "another example of Serbian ethnic cleansing" continues at Zepa, where the UN said that 8,000 refugees are "on the run . . . [in] another humanitarian disaster in the making," AFP reported. There is still no word on the fate of Zepa's military-aged men, but refugees arriving in Sarajevo and Kladanj called the UN presence "useless," the BBC said on 27 July. The refugees were dumped on the edge of no-man's land, which they had to cross on foot to Bosnian government lines. UN mission chief Yasushi Akashi said, "We are watching the situation most attentively." AFP reported from Geneva that UN special rapporteur for human rights, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, has resigned his post in protest over the international community's inaction in the wake of the disasters at Srebrenica and Zepa. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATS MAKE BREAKTHROUGH SOUTH OF BIHAC. Hina on 27 July reported that Bosnian Croat forces (HVO) have made great advances along the line between Tomislavgrad and Grahovo. The biggest gains are in the Livno region, and the HVO is now 4 km from Serb-held Glamoc and 8 km from the strategic town of Grahovo. Some 250 Serbian refugees fled to Knin, while the total of Muslim refugees from the Serbian advance to the north has reached 8,000, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Fierce fighting continues on all fronts around the Bihac pocket, which has a population of about 180,000. Local Muslim renegade Fikret Abdic on 26 July proclaimed a Republic of West Bosnia, but the BBC called his gesture "meaningless" since Abdic is dependent on the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOUTROS GHALI DELEGATES AUTHORITY FOR AIR STRIKES. International media on 25 July reported that the UN secretary-general has authorized the UNPROFOR commander, General Bernard Janvier, to approve air strikes in conjunction with NATO, effective immediately. The Atlantic alliance was anxious to remove the hesitant Boutros Boutros Ghali and especially Akashi from the chain of command. Turkey, meanwhile, announced a long- term military cooperation agreement with Bosnia but said that it will not unilaterally break the arms embargo, which it nonetheless opposes. The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that "a genocide is going on in Zepa, Srebrenica, and Bihac . . . [and that] no UN official must remain neutral in the face of the aggressor and the victim." Iran declared a week of solidarity with Bosnia, and in Athens a demonstration against war and nationalism took place in front of the rump Yugoslav embassy, BETA reported on 26 July. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WHAT DID MILOSEVIC TELL KOZYREV? BETA on 26 July reported that at his recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Andreii Kozyrev, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic used the occasion to inform Russia that Belgrade is prepared to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina, but only in exchange for a the lifting of all sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Since at least May 1995, Milosevic has insisted that he will barter recognition for a lifting of sanctions, prompting a wave of diplomatic initiatives aimed at securing such an exchange. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER IN ROMANIA. Vladimir Meciar on 26 July began a two-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. In an initial statement to the press, he praised bilateral relations and expressed the hope that economic cooperation could be further expanded. He also said that problems related to ethnic minorities in the two countries will be discussed during his visit. Both Romania and Slovakia have large Hungarian minorities. Meciar the same day met with his Romanian counterpart, Nicolae Vacaroiu, to discuss developing ties in infrastructure, banking, services, and privatization. They also considered prospects for their countries' integration in Euro-Atlantic structures. Finally, Meciar met with Romanian Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman, Chamber of Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase, and representatives of the Slovak minority in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SETTLES ACCOUNTS WITH INDEPENDENT PRESS. The Romanian government, in a communique released on 26 July, sharply attacked the independent daily Romania libera for an article published the same day. Signed by the newspaper's director, Petre Mihai Bacanu, the article alleged that Romanian Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu "endorsed oil contraband" to the former Yugoslavia. The cabinet dismissed the allegations as "gross fabrication ...that seriously damages Romania's [international] credibility." It accused the newspaper of waging a campaign of "forgery, calumny and denigration" aimed at compromising Romania's chances of joining Euro-Atlantic structures. It also stated its intention to take Bacanu to court on charges of calumny against the cabinet and the premier. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. DESTRUCTION OF 14TH ARMY AMMUNITION HALTED. Local authorities in the Transdniester region of Moldova have forced the Russian 14th Army to stop the experimental destruction of old ammunition, Russian agencies reported. ITAR-TASS was told on 26 July that Igor Smirnov, leader of the breakaway region, put a stop to the operation. Interfax the same day said that city officials in Rybnitsa--where the tests were conducted-- had objected. Some 2,000 freight car-loads of ammunition are stockpiled in ammunition dumps near the village of Kolbasna, on the border with Ukraine. Some of the ammunition was produced before World War II. Interfax reported that the Russian military and the local administration were continuing negotiations on a suitable site to continue destroying the obsolete explosives. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS LIKELY IN OCTOBER. Bulgarian Socialist Party caucus leader Krasimir Premyanov on 26 July said local elections will most likely take place on 15 October, Bulgarian media reported the same day. He was speaking after meeting with President Zhelyu Zhelev to discuss the issue. Zhelev on 27 July will meet with leaders of the opposition caucuses to discuss the date of the elections and possible changes in the composition of the Central Electoral Commission. Meanwhile, the opposition parties have again failed to agree on a common candidate for mayoral elections in the capital. At a meeting of the six parties that signed a cooperation agreement in June, the People's Union insisted that the national leaderships of the parties convene to discuss the matter. This was dismissed by the other organizations. The Union of Democratic Forces, nonetheless, invited the group's leaderships to meet on 27 July, saying the nomination of a common candidate is the "duty of all non-communist forces." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN OFFICIAL ACCUSED OF VIOLATING SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Former Director-General of the Bulgarian State Railways Atanas Tonev has been charged in connection with violations of the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia, Standart and Trud reported on 27 July. Tonev has been charged in 10 instances, but prosecutors did not say what evidence they have against him. The press says the charges include the illegal export of fuel, furniture, and cement to the rump Yugoslavia. Standart reports that former deputy prime ministers, ministers, and parliamentary deputies will soon be questioned. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT POSTPONES REVIEW OF NANO'S CASE. At the request of Prosecutor-General Alush Dragoshi, the Supreme Court has postponed reviewing the case of Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano until September, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 27 July. Dragoshi explained that Nano's appeal writ was missing. He also requested the removal of Supreme Court Chief Judge Zef Brozi from the case, but the court rejected that request. Dragoshi argued that Brozi was biased, since he had announced earlier that Nano should be released. Nano is serving a prison term for the misappropriation of some $9 million in Italian aid. He has appealed for his release, saying his term has been reduced by various amnesties and the new penal code. An appeals court ruled earlier that Nano should have received a higher sentence under the new penal code and therefore should stay in jail. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIANS PROTEST DRAFT LAND LAW. Albanian demonstrators had to use a foreign express delivery service to send a petition to the parliament protesting a draft law land after lawmakers told them it had to arrive by post, Reuters reports on 27 July. The protesters had tried in vain for two days to hand over the list of signatures before resorting to use of the delivery service. Opposition parties have criticized the draft law, saying it will undermine the property rights of those who owned property before communism. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK PRIME MINISTER ON DISPUTE WITH MACEDONIA. Andreas Papandreou said Greece and Macedonia do not agree on 10% of the disputed questions, MIC reported on 26 July, citing the Greek daily Elevtherotypia. Papandreou said Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov continues to stress that the Greek embargo against his country must be lifted before he will make any concessions. The Greek premier said Greece cannot lift the embargo unless Gligorov undertakes "specific measures." According to Papandreou, words are not enough. Both the Macedonian flag and constitution must be changed before the embargo is lifted, he said. -- Stefan Krause, 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 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. 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