|No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. - Edmund Burke|
No. 148, Part II, 1 August 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 FOUL PLAY IN UKRAINIAN PATRIARCH'S DEATH? Taras Romaniuk, son of the recently deceased patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, and leaders of the All-Ukrainian Orthodox Brotherhood have suggested there may have been foul play in the religious leader's death on 14 July, Nezavisimost reported on 28 July. They have accused the regional coroners' office of covering up details of Volodymyr's death, the official cause of which was a heart attack. But Kiev police officials told Nezavisimost that one month before his death, Volodymyr asked for protection after receiving threats from radical Orthodox activists and supporters of Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev. The patriarch told the police that he had been threatened following his decision to investigate suspected money laundering by Filaret's supporters. -- Chrystyna Lapychak EBRD CREDIT TO UKRAINE. Ukrainian Television on 31 July reported that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has approved a 12.5 million ECU credit to Ukraine. The loan is to be granted to the joint- stock company Ukrinflot to build five ships. The vessels will be used to carry cargo from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. -- Ustina Markus CRIMEAN UPDATE. Ukrainian Radio reported on 31 July that the Crimean legislature has appealed to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to rescind his 31 March decree putting the Crimean government directly under Kiev's control. The parliament leaders, who are mainly loyal to Kiev, have promised not to break any Ukrainian laws in their legislative work. Ukrainian authorities accused the previous legislature of doing so and cracked down on Crimean separatists in March. Kuchma is reportedly considering the appeal but has said the Crimean lawmakers must retain Anatolii Franchuk, the current Kiev-backed prime minister, in his post. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. According to official statistics, unemployment in Belarus at the beginning of July was only 1.9%. But if those employees working short time or without wages were to be included, that figure would be 20%, Belarusian Television reported on 30 July. Statistics from the National Bank of Belarus show that inflation fell from 38% in December 1994 to 2.5% in June. Since last December, the monthly growth of the dollar against the Belarusian ruble fell from 21% to 2%, while the exchange rate for the ruble has remained at 11,500 to $1 since February. Meanwhile, Belarusian Radio on 31 July reported that industrial production in Belarus fell by 8.2% in the first half of the year. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC STATES DIVIDE UP ANTI-CRIME ACTIVITIES. Interior Ministers Edgar Savisaar (Estonia), Janis Adamsons (Latvia), and Romasis Vaitekunas (Lithuania) met on the Estonian island of Saaremaa on 29-30 July to discuss combating crime, BNS reported the next day. They signed a document giving each country specific areas on which to concentrate. Illegal weapons, ammunition, counterfeit money and securities, and illegal immigration are to be priority areas for Estonia. Latvia will focus on illegal drugs, traffic police activities, fire and rescue operations, and prosecution. Lithuania is to deal with money laundering, stolen vehicles, and developing information and visa systems. The ministers also signed a joint statement on measures against organized crime. -- Saulius Girnius SIGNATURES FOR ALTERNATIVE LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. Representatives of the For Latvia and the Homeland Union submitted 12,000 signatures to the Central Election Committee on 31 July in support of holding a popular vote on the union's draft of an alternative citizenship law, BNS reported. The draft severely restricts the naturalization of non- citizens by establishing an annual quota of 0.1% of the ethnic Latvian population. Although the union began gathering signatures nearly a year ago, the Saeima only passed the necessary legislation on the popular vote on 26 July. The law requires the CEC to set a 30-day period during which petitioners have to gather the signatures of one-tenth of the voters (some 100,000 people). If the union succeeds in collecting these signatures, the CEC will submit the alternative citizenship law to the president and Saeima. If the Saeima rejects the law, a popular vote will take place. -- Saulius Girnius WALESA SENDS PRIVATIZATION BILL TO CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL. Polish President Lech Walesa on 31 July sent the privatization and commercialization bill to the Constitutional Tribunal, Polish and international media reported. The Sejm overrode the president's veto of the draft law on 21 July. Walesa argued that allowing the Sejm to have a say in privatization "violates the government's exclusive authority and the constitutional principle of the division of power." Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy said the president's veto was a political decision dictated by Solidarity's opposition to the bill. Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko commented that Walesa arguments were "unconvincing." The Sejm can overrule the Constitutional Tribunal's decision by a two-thirds majority. * Jakub Karpinski UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. Twelve organizations supporting former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski's presidential candidacy formed the Alliance of Pro-Independence Organizations on 31 July. Olszewski said he no longer believed that the St. Catherine's Convent could select a right-wing presidential candidate. In another development, 44 politicians, mostly from the Christian-National Alliance (ZChN, a right- wing party not represented in the Sejm), have been listed as supporting President Walesa. The list was handed over to journalists on 31 July by ZChN leader Jan Lopuszanski. Other ZChN leaders support Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz candidacy, although she has not yet declared she will run for the post, Polish media reported on 1 August. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH COMMUNIST LEADERS CHARGED WITH TREASON OVER 1968 INVASION. Five former leaders of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSC) were charged on 31 July with treason over the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion, Czech media reported. The charges were brought by the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Crimes of Communism, which did not publish the names of the five. However, former KSC Secretary-General Milos Jakes, a central figure in the "normalization" program after the invasion, and KSC Central Committee member Karel Hoffmann both confirmed receiving notification of the charges, which they called absurd and fabricated. The pursuit of KSC officials who allegedly wrote to Soviet leaders "inviting" them to intervene to end the Prague Spring has been continuing for years. The main figure implicated, Vasil Bilak, is beyond the reach of Czech investigators as he is a Slovak citizen. -- Steve Kettle ROMANI YOUTH DIES FOLLOWING ATTACK BY SLOVAK SKINHEADS. The 17-year-old Romani youth who was set alight and beaten by skinheads on 21 July in Central Slovakia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1995) died in the hospital on 31 July, TASR reported. The Slovak government the same day officially condemned the attack--10 days after it took place. But Jan Slota, leader of the Slovak National Party, said he believed that high "Gypsy" crime rates were the cause of such "truly unacceptable" incidents. Human rights organizations in Slovakia and abroad had expressed outrage over the event and criticized the state's inaction. Romani representatives on 30 July sent an open letter to Slovak citizens saying that by not officially condemning the attack, the state was silently condoning it, TASR reported the same day. The Romani representatives warned that if the government does not negotiate with them, they will stage demonstrations within a month. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S VETO CAUSES CONTROVERSY. In response to Michal Kovac's veto of economic legislation passed by the parliament in mid- July, the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has once again called for his resignation, Narodna obroda reported. The HZDS, in a statement released on 31 July, said the return of laws on privatization and on investment firms and funds shows his "close political connections to the opposition, without regard for the real needs of citizens." In the interest of "maintaining social stability," the HZDS demanded that Kovac "finally resign." There is speculation that the coalition deputies will call an extraordinary parliament session in August in order to pass the laws again. But according to Slovak press reports on 1 August, it is unlikely that the coalition would get the 76 votes needed to override the veto. Many deputies are currently on vacation or out of the country. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY TO GET MORE RUSSIAN ARMS IN DEBT REPAYMENT. A Hungarian Defense Ministry spokesman on 31 July announced that Hungary will receive some $132 million worth of military equipment from Russia this year in lieu of cash debt repayments, MTI reported. Peter Haber said the Hungarians will be given 97 armored personnel carriers, 20 rocket launchers, an unspecified number of rockets, and MiG-29 jet engines. Earlier in July, the Russians agreed to supply $58 million worth of military equipment to the Hungarian Border Guards. -- Doug Clarke SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATS SHELL KRAJINA. International media on 1 August reported that Croatian and Bosnian Croat forces are shelling Serb-held Strmica near the border between Croatia and Bosnia. Serbs continue to flee toward Knin or toward Drvar in Bosnia. Press reports from Knin say that the situation is bleak and the population demoralized. Croatian troops are also closing in on Donji Vakuf on the road to Jajce. The International Herald Tribune reported that the supposed Serbian withdrawal from Bihac was just a ruse to re-position personnel and that armor and artillery are still in place. UN spokesmen said that Bosnian Serb forces fired on the helicopter of UN commander General Ruppert Smith on 31 July as he was flying to a meeting with indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic. Novi list reported that President Franjo Tudjman has promoted General Ante Gotovina, commander of the Croatian forces that took Grahovo and Glamoc on 28 July, to colonel-general. -- Patrick Moore MORILLON CALLS FOR "DESERT STORM" AGAINST SERBS. Officials in Washington and some other Western capitals are privately hoping that the Croatian offensive will succeed and rid the international community of a conflict it has been unable to handle, the International Herald Tribune said on 1 August. AFP quoted former UN special rapporteur for human rights, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, as saying that the situation in Bosnia will worsen unless the West takes action against the Serbs. The head of UNPROFOR in 1992-1993 and now the commander of the Rapid Reaction Force, General Philippe Morillon, told the German weekly Stern that armed intervention on the model of the Gulf War may be necessary if there is no improvement on the ground soon. He said that one would have to deal with the Serbs the way Operation Desert Storm dealt with Saddam Hussein. -- Patrick Moore AKASHI, PORTILLO ARE "PESSIMISTIC." UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi told reporters on 1 August that he fears "a lot of bloodshed" if the Croats launch an offensive against Knin. "They seem very prepared to attack, the danger of a military offensive is still there, we are watching the situation with great concern," AFP quoted him as saying. Nasa Borba reported him as saying that the Krajina Serbs have never been more willing to negotiate. British Defense Secretary Michael Portillo shared Akashi's fears: "I don't want to be melodramatic, but the intervention of the Croats does now raise the prospect of an all-out war, at least between the Croats and the Bosnian Serbs, And that is of course of great concern to us," he told the BBC. -- Patrick Moore IRAN PROMISES AID FOR CROATIA, BOSNIA. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati met with his Bosnian and Croatian counterparts in Split on 31 July. The three leaders called for NATO intervention to protect internationally recognized borders, Vecernji list reported on 1 August. Velayati went on to Mostar to discuss military aid with President Alija Izetbegovic. Bosnia and Croatia both enjoy good relations with the Muslim world as a whole, ranging from secular Turkey to fundamentalist Iran. (See related item in the Russian section) -- Patrick Moore CHANGING IDENTITIES IN MONTENEGRO? Montenafax on 28 July reported the results of a poll recently taken in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica in which respondents were asked to name their identity. Only 44.7% identified themselves as Montenegrin, down from the official 1991 census figure of 72.3%. The percentage who recognized themselves as Serbian also fell to 5.3%, from 7.7% in 1991. The number of Albanians remained constant, at 8.4%, while 4.8% identified themselves as Muslims, a decrease of 0.2%. Those calling themselves Yugoslavs increased from 3.3% in 1991 to 5.3%. Most of the remaining respondents described themselves in terms of hybrid categories blurring the Montenegrin and Serbian identities. -- Stan Markotich SPLIT IN SANDZAK PARTY? The leadership of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) of the Sandzak has distanced itself from the party's coordinating body, BETA reported on 31 July. The SDA leaders questioned the legality of an extraordinary meeting of the coordinating body on 29 July, arguing that it was organized without their knowledge and that only two of nine regional committees were represented at the meeting. They also alleged that the only purpose of the meeting was to "prolong the political survival of [SDA leader] Sulejman Ugljanin." Ugljanin, who has lived in Turkey for the last two years, has been criticized by party members for a lack of credibility. -- Fabian Schmidt MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN GANGSTER HANDED OVER TO BELGIUM. Macedonia has handed over the ethnic Albanian Basri Bajrami to Belgium, BETA reported on 31 July. BETA describes Bajrami as "one of the best-known criminals in Belgium" and the "brain" behind the kidnapping of former Belgian Prime Minister Paul Boeyenants in February 1989. Boeyenants was freed one month later after a ransom of $1.8 million was paid. Bajrami was also one of the leaders of the "Patrick Haemers Gang," which specialized in robbing armored trucks. He was arrested in early 1993 but escaped shortly after from the prison of St. Jules in Brussels, taking a guard as hostage. Bajrami then fled to Macedonia, where he opened a disco and various luxurious boutiques. His extradition was requested by Interpol. -- Fabian Schmidt U.S. AIR FORCE SECRETARY ENDS VISIT TO ROMANIA. A U.S. military delegation headed by Sheila Widnall, secretary of the Air Force at the Defense Department, ended a two-day official visit to Romania on 31 July, Radio Bucharest reported. Widnall stressed the "constructive character" of her talks with Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, Secretary of State for Defense Ioan Mircea Pascu, and Air Force Chief- of-Staff Maj. Gen. Ion Sandulescu. She also said that the U.S. is interested in expanding cooperation with Romania within the framework of the Partnership For Peace program. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN NATIONALIST LEADERS MEET. The National Board of Directors of the nationalist organization Vatra Romaneasca (Romanian Hearth) met in Targu Mures on 29 and 30 July. Adevarul on 1 August reported that the gathering was in response to the meeting organized by the World Association of Hungarians in Debrecen on 27 July. Vatra Romaneasca leaders called on the Romanian government to suspend negotiations with Hungary over a new bilateral treaty until Budapest distances itself from what was described as "irredentist provocations." They also insisted that Romania not accept the inclusion of the Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201 either in the treaty itself or as an annex. -- Dan Ionescu U.S. ASKS ROMANIA, BULGARIA, OTHERS TO TIGHTEN EMBARGO AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. The Sofia daily Pari on 1 August reported that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke said the previous day the U.S. has asked Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Greece to tighten the embargo against rump Yugoslavia. The request comes at a time when Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece are considering a joint initiative to further ease the embargo. Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaykov told RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service that so far, the U.S. has not submitted an official request to Bulgaria. Standart cited an unnamed senior diplomat as saying that "calls to tighten the sanctions actually mean that we are not enforcing them as we should." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN OPPOSITION STILL WITHOUT COMMON MAYORAL CANDIDATE. Representatives of 15 opposition parties and alliances on 31 July met to find a common mayoral candidate for Sofia, Bulgarian papers reported the following day. Stefan Sofiyanski of the Union of Democratic Forces was supported by 12 groups, and former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova by three. Indzhova stressed the independent nature of her candidacy but refused to present her program before the Socialist candidate has been nominated. Sofiyanski, on the other hand, gave a detailed account of his plans if elected as mayor, Demokratsiya reported. Observers expect Sofiyanski to be officially nominated at a meeting scheduled for 1 August. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN ETHNIC TURKS DEMAND NEW VISA STATUTE FROM ANKARA. The ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) has asked Turkish authorities to allow ethnic Turks from Bulgaria to enter Turkey for up to three months without a visa, Duma reported on 1 August. They demanded equal treatment with ethnic Turks living in Greece, who under a Greek- Turkish agreement do not need a visa. The DPS leadership also requested that Bulgarian ethnic Turks be allowed to visit Turkey for urgent family business without a visa and that Turkey drops a regulation stating that tourist groups traveling there must not include more than 10 people with Turkish names. DPS officials on 31 July said that these questions are raised at every meeting with Turkish officials but that Turkey has not responded to the party's latest request. -- Stefan Krause [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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