|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 164, Part II, 23 August 1995
This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER ON CHORNOBYL CLOSURE. Yevhen Marchuk told the directors of major industrial enterprises in Kharkiv on 22 August that the Chornobyl nuclear power plant will remain in operation until new jobs are secured for its employees and the problem of nuclear waste disposal is resolved, AFP and Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Marchuk said it would cost $4 billion to shut down Chornobyl and replace it with a non-nuclear plant, which could provide new jobs for laid-off workers. Ukraine has insisted that the international community, including the G-7 nations, which have pressured it to close down Chornobyl, provide the necessary funds to do so. Marchuk added that Ukraine now faces a severe energy shortage because industry has failed to pay for past deliveries of coal and fuel. As a result, he said, the government is short of cash to replenish its dwindling fuel reserves. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. POSTAL RATE HIKE THREATENS UKRAINIAN PRESS. The Ministry of Communications is planning to raise postal rates for the delivery of periodicals after the country's postal service lost some 5 trillion karbovantsi (around $30 million) last year, Ukrainian Television reported on 22 August. Mykhailo Onufriichuk, Ukraine's information minister, said the 600% to 800% hikes would bankrupt most of the country's publications. He said his ministry is urgently seeking ways to prevent the rises and find funds to cover the postal losses. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN FINLAND. Hennadii Udovenko ended a two-day visit to Finland on 22 August, Interfax and AFP reported the following day. During the visit, Udovenko met with President Martti Ahtisaari, Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen and his Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonen. The problem of pollution figured prominently in talks. Udovenko stated that Finland's ratification of an agreement on partnership and cooperation with the EU opened new opportunities for increasing trade between Ukraine and Finland. In 1994 Ukraine exported $65 million worth of goods to Finland and imported $19 million. Udovenko noted that Ukraine's total foreign trade grew by 14.9% in 1994 and said Ukraine was interested in cooperating with Finland in banking and finance. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. IMF LARGEST CREDITOR TO LITHUANIA. The Lithuanian government as of 1 July signed foreign loan agreements amounting to $915 million, of which $488 million have been used, BNS reported on 22 August. Loans from the International Monetary Fund comprise 46% of the total, from the European Union 15%, the World Bank 10%, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 7%. The loans have been used for fuel and other energy resources (41%), stabilizing the litas (22%), financing investment projects (19%), agricultural needs (13%), and for small and middle-size businesses (5%). -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ARRESTS FOLLOW BELARUSIAN STRIKE. The Supreme Soviet of Belarus announced on 22 August that the head of the Independent Trade Unions, Syarhei Antonchyk, had been arrested by the police, Ekho Moskvy reported. This is the first time an opposition leader has been arrested under President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime, and it is uncertain whether the detention is legal since Antonchyk enjoys parliamentary immunity as a deputy. Three other union leaders were arrested after police moved to end a metro workers' strike in Minsk on 21 August. Their lawyers have complained that there is no court or prosecution order to hold them and they have said they are being held as "political hostages." Some reports say that dozens of others have been rounded up by the authorities for participating in the strike. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH ADMIRAL RESIGNS OVER CAMPAIGNING IN THE ARMY. Vice Admiral Marek Toczek resigned as commander-in-chief of the Ministry of Internal Affairs military detachments on 22 August after a ministry commission established that signatures supporting current President Lech Walesa's candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections were collected among soldiers under pressure from officers. In some cases, soldiers were threatened that they would not receive their monthly pay if they did not sign. Gazeta Wyborcza on 23 August writes that Mieczyslaw Wachowski, chief of the presidential chancellery, organized the collection of signatures in the army and arms industry enterprises. Polish electoral law forbids campaigning in military detachments. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. FORMER COMMUNIST PARTY LEADERS DISCUSS RESPONSIBILITY FOR MARTIAL LAW. The Sejm's commission on constitutional responsibility, which is conducting hearings among politicians responsible for the introduction of martial law in 1981, summoned on 22 August two former first secretaries of the Polish United Workers Party: General Wojciech Jaruzelski as a defendant and Stanislaw Kania, Jaruzelski's predecessor, as a witness. Kania was answering Jaruzelski's questions and said there had been other possibilities of solving Poland's problems than introducing martial law, Polish media reported on 23 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS CLOSE GAP ON RULING PARTY FURTHER. According to the latest opinion poll published by Czech media on 23 August, 25% of respondents would vote for Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party if parliament elections were held now. The figure represents a drop of 1% since July, and the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) rose by the same amount to 23% in the Institute for Public Opinion Research poll. The gap between the two parties has narrowed from 12% in March to only 2%. Elections are due to be held in June 1996 and, according to the poll, only five parties stand a chance of being represented in the next parliament. The Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party was given 6% and another member of the governing coalition, the Civic Democratic Alliance, 5%; the Communists would gain 7%. Meanwhile, the CSSD leadership on 22 August urged one of its deputies, Jozef Wagner, to resign his parliament seat and party membership after he punched the leader of the CSSD parliament caucus in the face at a party meeting last weekend. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. ROMA SAID TO FORM SELF-DEFENSE UNITS. Ladislav Body, the only Romani deputy in the Czech parliament, told Slovenska Republika on 15 August that Roma in northern Bohemia, frightened after the death of a Romani youth attacked in Slovakia on 21 July, have begun to form their own self-defense units. CTK reported the following day that the north Bohemian chief of police claimed that he has no information about these self-defense groups, and there have been no deaths in the region from racially motivated attacks this year. Meanwhile, on 16 August Mlada fronta dnes reported that because Romani tenants of mostly Romani housing projects in the town of Most in northern Bohemia do not pay their rent regularly, the town council wants to relocate them all to flats with minimal facilities for "rent defaulters and unadaptable people." Romani unemployment in the Czech Republic is calculated to be as high as 60% to 70%, and in eastern Slovakia nearly 100% of all unemployed are thought to be Roma. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. INFLATION IN SLOVAKIA. The Slovak Statistics Office said that consumer prices in Slovakia rose 1% in July and were 10.8% higher than in July 1994, international media reported on 22 August. The inflation rate in June was 10.6% compared with a year earlier. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. ROMANI FESTIVAL FORUM ALSO FOR POLITICS. The Gypsy World Festival opened in Hungary on 16 August, with performances continuing until 3 September. As part of the events, a Romani radio program was broadcast from Sziget on 17 August, and a television program from Budapest the morning of 19 August. On the opening day, Imre Furmann, head of the Otherness Foundation's National and Ethnic Minorities Legal Aid Office, told the press that while there have been no extreme attacks on Roma this year, his office has acted on at least 50 cases of everyday discrimination and abuse so far. Furmann explained that forms of discrimination vary. For instance, some employment agencies place asterisks next to the names of firms on their computer lists who will not accept Romani employees, while real estate contracts are withdrawn when the buyer turns out to be Romani. Furmann urged more explicit anti-discrimination laws, and said that it was promising that recently more and more non-Roma file complaints with his office on behalf of Roma. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC ACCUSES ENEMIES . . . Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic blamed his opponents, including those in Serbia, for trying to destabilize the Bosnian Serb leadership by circulating rumors that General Ratko Mladic had overthrown him in a coup or was chasing him around Bosnia. Reuters said on 22 August that Karadzic announced he had "withdrawn" his legal measures against Mladic because of the current dangers to the Bosnian Serb "state." He added that "everybody is doing their job. . . . We have a very strong and firm structure of power." He accused enemies of wanting "to create fear and uncertainty among the people and possibly force them to flee from certain offensives." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND OFFERS CROATIA A DEAL. The Bosnian Serb leader floated a two- part "peace offer" to Croatia, AFP reported on 22 August. He said that the Croats should evacuate the area around Trebinje in return for a "peace accord." He also suggested that a 1993 text could be implemented, which gave Croatia a tiny bit of the heights overlooking Dubrovnik and from which the Serbs have shelled the medieval town, in exchange for granting the Serbs 30 kilometers of the Prevlaka peninsula down to Popovici. Prevlaka is Croatian territory with a UN presence, but it controls access to the strategic Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has hinted in previous years that he might agree to such a deal, but there was firm domestic opposition to any yielding of Croatian territory. Karadzic has now warned the Croats, however, that "if Croatia does not accept either proposal, fighting will continue until we have liberated all Serb territory," i.e. Croatian territory recently retaken by the Croatian army. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KRAJINA UPDATE. Reuters reported from Lasinja on 23 August that the Croatian inhabitants driven out by the Serbs in 1991 have begun returning. They said that the Serbs burned or dynamited their homes and the Roman Catholic church. Slobodna Dalmacija stated that the UN continues to accuse Croatia of systematically torching Serbian houses and looting. Zagreb has argued that any destruction was the result of military necessity or of isolated incidents. The BBC noted that EU Commissioner for Refugees Emma Bonino claims that some 10,000 Krajina refugees remain unaccounted for and that even the UN has no idea where they are. She also complained that rump Yugoslav authorities refused to see her when she visited Belgrade. Elsewhere, Croatian officials told AFP that some 11,782 victims of Serb "ethnic cleansing" arrived from the Banja Luka region between 14 and 24 August. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. THE RAPID REACTION FORCE STRIKES BACK. International media on 23 August said that the new UN force in Sarajevo fired at a Bosnian Serb gun position the previous day after the Serbs deliberately targeted a UN observation post and wounded six Egyptian soldiers and numerous civilians. It was not clear what effect the Force's shells had. The world body also blamed both the Bosnian government and the Serbs for the latest exchanges of artillery fire in the Bosnian capital. Vjesnik reported that a new Croatian cultural center has opened in Sarajevo at a ceremony attended by political, diplomatic, cultural, and religious officials. Meanwhile in Tuzla, AFP said that the Serbs shelled the airbase, which is currently housing 3,200 refugees from Zepa and Srebrenica. The VOA stated that the U.S. has appealed "to the warring parties [in Bosnia] to give diplomacy a chance," while AFP on 22 August noted that Germany has told Croatia that negotiations are the only path to peace. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVO REFUGEE UPDATE. Yugoslav Refugee Minister Morina Bratislava has rejected fears that Serb refugees would upset the demographic balance in Kosovo, AFP reported on 22 August. She argued that only a "relatively small number" of refugees would be moved to Kosovo. Out of a total of 160,000 refugees some 3,000 have so far been sent to Kosovo, where Belgrade wants to settle about 16,000. Slavica Rakovic, an adviser to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, in an interview with the right- wing Greek daily Adesmevtos Typos proposed changing the demographic balance in favor of the Serbs. Rakovic was visiting Greece on an invitation of the Greco-Serb Association, to coordinate Greek humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, Macedonian government speaker Ismail Gjuner denied that Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi and his Macedonian counterpart Stevo Crvenkovski discussed strategies in case of an outbreak of armed conflict in Kosovo, BETA reported. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER IN GREECE. Yugoslav Foreign Minister and former ambassador to Greece Milan Milutinovic paid a visit to Athens on 21 August, the BBC reported the following day. Milutinovic met the honorary chairman of the Greek New Democracy Party, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, to discuss developments in the former Yugoslavia and the Balkan region. Mitsotakis said that the Yugoslav crisis was at a critical point and added that "there are chances for a political solution but a clear risk is involved as well." He also expressed the hope that a peaceful, political solution would be found. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELGRADE. Tanjug on 22 August reported that on the same day Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic met in Belgrade with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. At the top of the agenda were the Bosnian crisis and bilateral relations between Bucharest and Belgrade. For his part, Melescanu praised the Serbian leadership for what he dubbed its sincere commitment to the regional peace process. In turn, the rump Yugoslav hosts described bilateral relations as sound, and grounded in "good-neighborly relations, mutual understanding and trust." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. VACAROIU ON ROMANIAN ECONOMY. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu told a press conference carried by Radio Bucharest on 22 August that the country was making good economic progress, despite lingering difficulties. Industrial production was up more than 9% and unemployment and inflation were lower than forecast. Unemployment was at about 10% and inflation is likely to be below the 30% previously estimated. Purchasing power was at 66.7% of its 1989 level, compared to 57.8% at the beginning of the year. Economic growth will be above 4% in 1995, compared with the previous forecast of 3%. Vacaroiu defended the country's privatization program as a way to attract badly needed foreign investment. He said only 911 out of the 3,907 companies put up for privatization registered losses in 1994 and only about 2% of them were really in deficit, the rest having faced difficulties of a temporary nature. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN NATIONAL BLOC ENLARGED. The daily Cronica romana reported on 22 August that three more parties have joined the National Bloc, which is centered around the chauvinist Greater Romania Party (PRM). Except for the PRM, all the members of the coalition are non-parliamentary formations and observers consider them to have little following. The three new members are the Democratic Progressive Party, the Anti- Monarchist and Pro-Republican Party and the Party of the Revival of the Romanian Nation. Altogether, the National Bloc is now formed by 10 political parties. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. CHOLERA IN ROMANIA, MOLDOVA. Romanian Ministry of Health officials said in a statement carried by Radio Bucharest on 22 August that the number of cases of cholera in the country is now 12. Those affected live in various localities on the river Danube, near the border with Ukraine. In neighboring Moldova, according to a dispatch carried by Infotag on 22 August, 151 cases of cholera were registered so far, mostly in Tiraspol and in the Slobozia area, both of which are close to Ukrainian territory. Unlike in Romania, where no vibrio has been detected in the water, it has been found in several Moldovan water sources, including the Dniester. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. TRANSDNIESTER RADICALS INTENSIFY ANTI-MARKUTSA DRIVE. The Bloc of Radical Patriotic Forces in Tiraspol, headed by Professor Vasily Yakovlev, has intensified its drive to oust Grigory Markutsa, chairman of the self-proclaimed republic's Supreme Soviet, Infotag reported on 21 August. The agency said Yakovlev's supporters were spreading leaflets in the city, demanding that Markutsa resign and ruling out his nomination for the forthcoming parliament elections. They accuse him of signing an agreement with Chisinau making the circulation of the Moldovan currency legal, which is viewed as "the first step toward the annihilation" of the breakaway region's independence. On 22 August Infotag reported that the forces headed by Yakovlev launched an initiative for holding an extraordinary congress of deputies at local and central government level. The congress, scheduled for 10 September, is to take place in advance of the next Chisinau-Tiraspol summit, which is due on 13 September and, according to the organizers, it should prevent further concessions to Chisinau to prevent "a final loss of Transdniestrian statehood." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. FIRE IN BULGARIAN NUCLEAR PLANT. BTA reports on 23 August that a fire broke out at the Kozlodui nuclear power plant the previous day. According to the facility's deputy chief, the blaze was sparked when a breaker in the control room short circuited. The fire was quickly detected and contained before any major damage or injuries could result. -- Stan Markotich, 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. 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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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