|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 160, Part II, 17 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 UKRAINE PAYS FOR REPATRIATION OF CRIMEAN TATARS. During a visit to the Black Sea peninsula, Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets told Crimean officials that Ukraine will allocate 2 trillion karbovantsi (over $10 million) toward the repatriation of Crimean Tatars, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 15 August. Over 250,000 Tatars have returned to the region from other parts of the former Soviet Union 50 years after they were deported by Stalin for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. Durdynets said Kiev would also help local authorities combat growing crime, especially organized crime, which has been a central complaint of the returning Tatars. Recent violent clashes between Crimean Tatar merchants and alleged Russian-speaking criminal gangs, which caused the deaths of two Tatars, apparently prompted Kiev's decision. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CHURCH LEADERS IN UKRAINE CALL FOR TALKS ON ORTHODOX UNIFICATION. The hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate has appealed to Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev not to submit his candidacy for the vacant Patriarch's see "for the sake of harmony and unification of Orthodoxy in Ukraine", Interfax Ukraine and Ukrainian TV reported on 16 August. A sobor (assembly of senior clergy), held in Rohatyn in western Ukraine, proposed continuing talks with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which broke away in 1992 over Filaret's leading position in the church. Widely viewed as the likely successor to the recently deceased Patriarch Volodymyr, Filaret has attracted opposition for alleged collaboration with the KGB during the Soviet era. The sobor also offered to begin a dialogue with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which has the largest number of followers in the country, as a step toward unification of the three orthodox churches. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CANDIDATES TO LATVIAN PARLIAMENT. By crossing out Igor Satikov for having presented an invalid language test certificate, the Latvian Central Electoral Committee raised to 10 the number of persons it removed from the list of candidates to the fall Saeima elections, BNS reported on 16 August. The same day, the committee's decision to remove Larisa Lavina from the candidates' list was upheld by the Riga District Court. The Latvian Center for the Consequences of Totalitarianism informed the committee that it had found the names of 12 candidates from eight parties in lists of KGB informers. The election law allows KGB collaborators to be candidates, but not if they were staff members. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LUKASHENKA WANTS SOVIET TEXT BOOKS BACK. Belarusian Television reported on 15 August that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has ordered the Education Ministry to stop using text books printed between 1992-95 in the coming school year, and begin using Soviet-era text books instead. Lukashenka made the decision based on the findings of a special commission which spent two months studying text books published from 1992. The commission declared that the books tended to be written with political overtones which were inappropriate to educating youth. The ministry has one year to write new text books which would be considered acceptable. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN TRANSIT TAX FAILS. Moskovsky Komsomolets reported on 16 August that the transit tax introduced in Belarus a few months ago has failed to raise any revenues and will probably be repealed. The tax was imposed on foreign vehicles passing through Belarus and was expected to bring in revenues of $500 million. Instead, drivers changed their routes to bypass the republic; the number of drivers crossing Belarus this summer was two times less than last summer. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH NATIONAL BANK PRESIDENT AHEAD IN PRESIDENTIAL RANKING. Although Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) leader Aleksander Kwasniewski consistently heads opinion polls for the first round of this fall's Polish presidential elections, the second round will be decisive if no candidate gets a majority in the first round. According to a Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) poll conducted 3-8 August and published by Gazeta Wyborcza on 17 August, Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz would win in the second round, irrespective of who would be her opponent. She would win 38% to 36% over Kwasniewski and 37% to 34% over former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron. Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Kwasniewski and Kuron would each defeat Ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski by 5-7%, and all four would win over the current president, Lech Walesa. In other developments, Kwasniewski's campaign chief Danuta Waniek said on 16 August that 200,000 signatures supporting Kwasniewski's candidacy-- twice the necessary number--have been collected, Polish media reported on 17 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. WALESA VETOES DEFENSE BILL. Polish President Lech Walesa on 16 August vetoed the defense bill of 12 July, which was adopted initially by the Sejm on 29 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 June 1995). The bill makes the chief of staff responsible to the civilian defense minister and not to the president. Walesa wrote that the bill limits the president's constitutional prerogatives in defense matters, Polish media reported on 17 August. A two-thirds Sejm majority is needed to overrule the president's veto. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH GOVERNMENT RAISES WAGES IN FACE OF STRIKE THREATS. The Czech government on 17 August allocated more than one 900 million koruny from the state budget to increase wages for school, rail and health workers, Czech media report. All three categories of workers had threatened to strike or take other industrial action if their demands for higher wages were not met. The government originally awarded public sector employees a 10% rise but in June averted a rail strike at the last minute by agreeing to raise railworkers' pay further. They will receive 108 million koruny, while teachers and other schoolworkers were awarded 735 million koruny and health workers 50 million koruny. A spokesman for the schoolworkers' union said it would recommend calling off a one-day strike planned for the first day of the coming school year. The extra wages will be financed from the state budget surplus, which stood at 10.1 billion koruny at the end of July, Hospodarske noviny reports. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER WALKS OUT OF MEETING WITH PRESIDENT . . . Vladimir Meciar on 16 August walked out of a meeting called by Michal Kovac to brief the premier on a recent trip to the U.S., Reuters and TASR reported. Kovac returned from his 12-day visit on 14 August and canceled a press conference initially scheduled for the next day, saying he first wanted to consult with Meciar and parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic. Kovac caused a commotion while he was away by telling Slovak Radio that U.S. officials believe Slovakia is falling behind its neighbors in reforms and the development of democracy. After reading a seven-page written report on Kovac's trip, Meciar and Gasparovic left the meeting without comment. According to presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko, the meeting lasted only 14 minutes. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE U.S. RESPONDS TO SLOVAK NOTE. The U.S. has replied to a note sent by the Slovak Foreign Ministry asking whether the U.S. has changed its attitude towards the Slovak government, Sme reported on 17 August. The ministry sent the note on 9 August, following Kovac's statements on Slovak Radio (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 August 1995). The content of the U.S. response, which was delivered by the U.S. embassy in Bratislava on 15 August, is unknown. Details of "a friendly working meeting" between U.S. Ambassador Theodore Russell and Gasparovic on 16 August were also concealed. According to Stefko, even Kovac has not been informed about the U.S. response to the note. In an interview published in Pravda on 17 August, the president called the Foreign Ministry's note a "faux pas." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY REINFORCES ITS BORDER WITH EAST SLAVONIA. A border guard spokesman told journalists on 16 August that Hungary has reinforced its frontier with East Slavonia, the region of Croatia still held by rebel Serbs, Reuters reports. The spokesman revealed that two companies of border guards, equipped with some 30 armed personnel carriers, have been moved to a 66-km border section between the Danube and Drava rivers. The government stressed that the move was of technical character and that the Hungarian armed forces were not being mobilized. Also on the 16th, a Hungarian foreign ministry official expressed concern that Serb refugees from Croatia are being settled in Serbia's largely Hungarian Vojvodina province. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATS PRESS TOWARD DRVAR. Bosnian Croat forces (HVO) "stand before Drvar," Vecernji list wrote on 17 August. The apparent aim of the drive is to link up with the Bosnian government's Fifth Corps in Bihac and join up with HVO and government pincer movements from the north and south, all of which are moving in the general direction of Banja Luka. The International Herald Tribune said that military-aged men in Banja Luka are wearing uniforms in hopes of not being pressganged into the army, and that "fear and mistrust grip every quarter of the city." As to Dvar, some Croatian reports that the town has fallen have not been confirmed. AFP quoted Bosnian Serb sources to the effect that "the Serb defense lines are holding," but also that the 4,000 civilians there are being evacuated. News agencies cited Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that "the town must be defended at any cost." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ARE THE CROATS ABOUT TO END THE THREAT TO DUBROVNIK? Regular Croatian troops (HV) are massing around Dubrovnik for what appears to be a thrust into eastern Herzegovina and the Serb stronghold of Trebinje. The immediate purpose is to remove the threat to the medieval city and its environs posed by Serbian artillery in the surrounding heights. Over the weekend the Serbs gave the area its worst bombardment since 1991, although Dubrovnik itself apparently was not hit, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote on 17 August. Forest and brush fires are burning as a result of the shelling. UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi said that "there seem to be movements of Croatian troops in that direction so we may expect some intensification of fighting in the Dubrovnik area." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS TREAT CROAT AND MUSLIM EXPELEES "WORSE THAN CATTLE." Jacques Milano, the head of the Dutch branch of Medecins sans Frontieres, blasted the Serb treatment of Croats and Muslims being deported from Banja Luka to Croatia. "The transport of cattle is done better than this," Reuters quoted him as saying on 16 August. "We urgently appeal to the local authorities that if they are to indulge in 'ethnic cleansing', which we strongly disagree with, at least they do it with a little dignity." Elsewhere, the International Herald Tribune said on 17 August that the UN is concerned about the fate of around 20,000 Muslim refugees loyal to Bihac-area kingpin Fikret Abdic. They have been trapped in Croatia for about a week and the UN does not have access to them. The UN fears that they will be sent back to Bihac, which is under Bosnian government control, against their will. Nasa Borba wrote that similar concern surrounds the fate of a column of 10,000 Krajina Serb refugees whose situation remains unknown. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media on 17 August reported much confusion over the secret peace plan being promoted by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke in the former Yugoslavia. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey denied earlier accounts that the Muslims would have to give up Gorazde under the plan, but Bosnia's ambassador to Britain nonetheless called the project "legalizing Serbian crimes." The VOA said that President Bill Clinton wants a major diplomatic breakthrough lest the conflict spread elsewhere in the Balkans, although it is not clear just where he thinks that would be and how such a conflict would arise. Many remain suspicious of the diplomatic initiatives, and Vecernji list ran the headline: "the spirit of Yalta [hangs] over Bosnia." Meanwhile on the ground, the Rapid Reaction Force on Mt. Igman does not inspire much confidence in the UN's own Belgian and Dutch military drivers, who refuse to use the road under the present circumstances, AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MAYOR OF SUBOTICA PROTESTS ETHNIC CLEANSING. Nasa Borba on 16 August reported on an open letter by Mayor Jozsef Kassa to Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic to protest forced changes in the local demographic structure since 1990. He noted that 2,000 new settlers had arrived before 1995 and a further 10,000 have come this year. Some 10,000 Hungarians and Croats have left in the meantime and the entire ethnic map of northern Backa is being changed. Another article in the same paper said that the new refugees are "occupying the empty homes of Hungarians." Meanwhile in Montenegro, the head of the People's Party, Novak Kilibarda, said that the Krajina refugees should be sent to Kosovo or to Vojvodina. The latter area has a Serbian majority but before the Serbian authorities launched ethnic cleansing it had strong minorities of Hungarians, Croats, Slovaks, and other Central Europeans as a result of Habsburg colonizing policies when the area was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WHY THE CHANGE IN THE RUMP YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTRY? BETA reported on 16 August on Belgrade-watchers' interpretations of Vladislav Jovanovic's sudden removal as foreign minister the previous day. According to one line of thought, Jovanovic had to be removed because of his "hardline" position on Krajina. While Jovanovic is a staunch ally of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the argument goes, his political leanings may entice other malcontents within Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia to manipulate Jovanovic into becoming the foil for their opposition to Milosevic's handling of developments in Krajina. According to another interpretation, Jovanovic's removal is mere coincidence, and facilitated by circumstances. Jovanovic's replacement, Milan Milutinovic, was allegedly considered for the job at least two years ago, but could not be moved into the post, largely because of opposition by then federal President Dobrica Cosic. BETA also comments that Milosevic and Milutinovic are long-time friends. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MONTENEGRIN UPDATE. Montena-fax reported on 16 August that the number of Krajina refugees in the republic has climbed to at least 700. The agency also reports that ultranationalist, pro-Serbia politicians and groups in the republic continue their public condemnations of rump Yugoslavia's federal and republican governments for their refusal to defend alleged Serbian national interests in Krajina. On 16 August the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) in Montenegro reiterated its now familiar charge that Krajina would still be under Serbian control were it not for "the cowardly behavior of the regimes in Belgrade and Podgorica." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. REFUGEES CONTINUE TO ARRIVE IN KOSOVO. About 2,000 refugees from Krajina have so far arrived in Kosovo and another 1,300 are expected on 17 August, including the majority of the 800 who refused for two days to go to the region (see OMRI Daily Digest 16 August 1995). Serbian officials estimate that about 5,000 hectares are needed to accommodate altogether 10,000 refugees in Kosovo. In one case, a Serbian refugee family reportedly occupied an Albanian house, but no other incidents have been reported. Meanwhile, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova repeated charges that Serbia plans to colonize Kosovo with refugees against their will. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA CURBS YUGOSLAV FLIGHTS. Romania has limited Yugoslav state airlines (JAT) flights following accusations Belgrade was using the trips to break UN sanctions against it, Reuters reported on 16 August. According to a Timisoara airport official, Romania's Transport Ministry has decided that JAT will operate only one flight a day from Belgrade to Bucharest, instead of two. The move followed an official inquiry into media reports that Romania was allowing Yugoslav passenger jets to overtank copiously during stopovers at Timisoara airport. The rump Yugoslav federation is under a fuel embargo as part of a UN economic sanctions package. Also on 16 August, a spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry said that his country would "actively support any realistic proposal or action aimed at reactivating the peace process" in the region. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. UNEMPLOYMENT RISES IN BULGARIA. Ilcho Dimitrov, director of the National Employment Service and deputy social minister, on 16 August said that unemployment increased in July for the first time in 1995, Bulgarian media reported the same day. Some 415,438 people were registered with the service, markedly less than the 499,176 registered at the beginning of the year. The reports do not give figures for June. Dimitrov attributed the rise to the fact that many young people finished their education recently, and have not yet found a job. The number of people under 30 who are entitled to social benefits was given as 22,112. In other news, the National Statistical Institute announced that industrial production in July was 9% higher than the same month last year. For the first seven months of 1995, the growth rate was 2% compared to 1994. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. NEW ALBANIAN INDUSTRY MINISTER APPOINTED. President Sali Berisha has appointed Suzana Panariti as the new minister for industry, transport and trade. Panariti replaces Albert Brojka, who was elected as the head of the Tirana branch of the Democratic Party on 9 August. Panariti previously worked as Brojka's deputy and is not a member of any political party. -- Fabian Schmidt, 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 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write email@example.com for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html 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. ISSN 1211-1570
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