|Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson|
No. 185, Part II, 22 September 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 INTRODUCTION OF NEW UKRAINIAN CURRENCY DELAYED UNTIL 1996. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, speaking at a news conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, announced that the new permanent currency, the hryvna, will not be introduced until next year, instead of in October as planned, Interfax-Ukraine and Reuters reported 21 September. Kuchma said Ukraine had all the necessary economic conditions this summer but had waited too long. He added that Ukraine has not yet reached an agreement with the IMF on creating a currency stabilization fund. Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk told Ukrainian TV on 21 September that the introduction of the hryvna was delayed because Ukraine has not yet approved a 1996 state budget, whose current draft has been calculated in karbovantsi, the provisional currency. In other news, the parliament adopted a law on investment trust companies stipulating that the firms making investments use privatization vouchers and not cash or hard currency, Ukrainian TV reported on 21 September. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS APPROVE NEW REGIONAL CONSTITUTION. The Crimean parliament gave its preliminary approval to the draft of a new regional constitution, Ukrainian TV reported on 21 September. The draft states that Crimea is an autonomous republic within Ukraine and governs itself within the framework defined by the Ukrainian Constitution. It also says Crimean Tatar, Russian, and Ukrainian are state languages but that Russian will serve as the official language of the government. The document does not provide for the post of president. A constitutional commission is expected to finalize the draft and submit it to the Ukrainian parliament for approval. However, Crimean legislators are authorized to adopt the new constitution on its final reading. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS, UKRAINE TO JOIN UN DISARMAMENT BODY. Belarus and Ukraine are among the 23 countries approved for membership in the UN's Conference on Disarmament, ITAR- TASS reported on 21 September. The two were among 50 nations invited earlier this year to participate in the conference as non-members. The conference is currently working on a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty, which could be ready for signing by the end of next year. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS, SLOVAKIA SIGN VISA FREE AGREEMENT. Belarusian and Slovak Foreign Ministers Uladzimir Syanko and Juraj Schenk, meeting on 20 September in Minsk, signed an agreement on visa-free travel, ITAR-TASS reported. The ministers also discussed the preparation of agreements on the protection of investments and avoidance of double taxation. Schenk expressed an interest in obtaining from Belarus chemical products as well as tractors and lorries, while Belarus suggested selling Slovakia military equipment that has become surplus under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT TO BE CLOSED IN 10 YEARS. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 21 September announced that the first reactor at the Ignalina power plant would be shut down in 2005 and the second five years later, BNS reported. Because the closure and dismantling of the reactors will cost at least $600 million, the government is planning to create a special fund into which part of the income earned from the sale of electricity will be paid. The Ignalina plant now produces about 80% of Lithuania's electricity and exports surplus energy to Belarus and Kaliningrad. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH POLITICIANS COMPLAIN ABOUT TV'S ELECTION COVERAGE. The Center Alliance, which supports former Supreme Audit Commission head Lech Kaczynski's presidential candidacy, has complained that Polish TV is backing the Christian-National Alliance (ZChN), Rzeczpospolita reported on 22 September. ZChN President Ryszard Czarnecki, for his part, has said that the ZChN has been practically boycotted by Polish TV. Meanwhile, President Lech Walesa's election committee has protested the broadcasting of information on the president's candidacy after a news item on another candidate, ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski. And finally, Kaczynski's supporters have complained about footage showing head of the Union of Real Politics election committee Janusz Korwin-Mikke riding an elephant when Kaczynski's press conference was not covered at all. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH DOCTORS THREATEN TO STRIKE. Members of the Medical Trade Union Club (LOK) on 21 September decided to go on strike as of 1 November to pursue demands for higher pay, Czech media reported. LOK is supported by around 6,000 of the Czech Republic's 20,000 hospital doctors. LOK Chairman David Rath said a strike was necessary after the failure of talks with Health Minister Ludek Rubas. The doctors are demanding pay raises of more than 20%. The head of the main doctors' organization, who has also called for Rubas to resign for his alleged incompetence in reforming the health system, condemned the proposed strike. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. On behalf of the entire opposition, Ludovit Cernak of the Democratic Union read out in the parliament on 21 September an announcement to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar informing him that the Constitutional Court will be asked to review the recently reapproved law on large-scale privatization, which cancels the second wave of coupon privatization and introduces a highly controversial program based on bonds. The education and cultural ministries were sharply criticized by ethnic Hungarian deputies, and Party of the Democratic Left Deputy Chairman Milan Ftacnik asked for the resignation of Education Minister Eva Slavkovska. In other news, the Slovak Helsinki Committee on 21 September criticized the government's demand that President Michal Kovac resign. The opposition Christian Democratic Movement said "the biggest offender of Slovakia is the Meciar government," Sme reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO. Juraj Schenk told reporters on 21 September that "the process of expanding NATO cannot happen without Slovakia" since this would create "a certain geopolitical gap." When asked if the recent criticism of Slovakia by U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 September 1995) might lead to a change of opinion toward Slovakia's membership in the alliance, Schenk said Perry's statements should not be "dramatized" because big differences do not exist among Central European countries, Pravda reported on 22 September. But speaking in Budapest on 21 September, Perry noted that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were among the top candidates for NATO membership but he did not mention Slovakia, Reuters reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. PERRY IN HUNGARY. The U.S. defense secretary also said in Budapest on 21 September that he was impressed by Hungary's progress in the five criteria for admission to NATO: commitment to protecting democracy and ensuring the rights of minorities, creating a market economy, establishing a civilian control over the army, maintaining good relations with neighboring states, and bringing the military up to NATO standards. He supported Hungary's current stabilization program. During his two-day visit, Perry met with President Arpad Goncz, Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti, and Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY EXTRADITES FORMER UKRAINIAN SECURITY CHIEF. Hungary has extradited Victor Palivoda, a former Ukrainian security chief, to Ukraine where he is wanted by Kiev for embezzling state funds, Hungarian Radio said on 21 September. Palivoda, who was chief of personal security for former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk from 1992-1994, has been charged with abuse of power, misuse of state funds, and involvement in dubious arms deals. He was arrested in Budapest in July after Ukraine appealed to Interpol. According to MTI, Palivoda continues to deny he is guilty, arguing that his arrest was aimed at discrediting his former boss. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CILLER ASKED TO FORM NEW TURKISH GOVERNMENT. President Suleyman Demirel on 21 September asked Tansu Ciller to form a new government, Reuters reported. Ciller resigned the previous day after her coalition broke up but was asked by Demirel to act as caretaker premier until a new government is in place (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 September 1995). Ciller's office announced she will hold talks with other party leaders "to focus on forming a government." Meanwhile, Mesut Yilmaz of the opposition Motherland Party virtually ruled out the possibility of forming a lasting coalition with Ciller. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. IZETBEGOVIC WANTS DEMILITARIZATION OF BANJA LUKA. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has demanded that the Bosnian Serbs demilitarize their embattled northwest Bosnian stronghold and set up a civilian authority. He said that the refugees could then stay on in the town and that the Bosnian army would not enter it. He called for the full lifting of the siege of Sarajevo and the restoration of utilities. The president also wants free access to Gorazde among his conditions for approving a 60-day ceasefire, the BBC said on 22 September. The VOA reported, however, that the Serbs have already rejected a truce. The Croatian and Bosnian offensive appears to have stopped, and Croatian troops have begun to pull back. Clashes have nonetheless been reported in central and southern parts of the republic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERB LEADER CALLS FOR REJECTION OF PALE REGIME. Nasa Borba on 22 September interviewed Mirko Pejanovic, a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the president of the Serbian Citizens' Council. Pejanovic is a leading spokesman of the more than 100,000 "forgotten Serbs" who support a multi-ethnic state, live under Bosnian government control, and reject the nationalist leadership of Radovan Karadzic. Pejanovic urged Serbs in areas run by Pale to set up local self-government bodies and to contact UNPROFOR and the Bosnian authorities. He said the Serbs have an inalienable right to equality and autonomy and that the council will raise these issues in upcoming talks in Washington. Pejanovic also argued that there can be "no just solution" without the return of refugees to their homes. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BATTLEFIELD UPDATE. There are conflicting reports on the actual state of affairs on the front lines, but Nasa Borba said on 22 September that Prijedor, Mrkonjic Grad, and Sanski Most remain under Bosnian Serb control. Reuters stated that disappointed Croatian troops were ordered to pull back as they were about to enter the empty town of Bosanski Novi. Vjesnik noted that the allied forces are only 25 km from Banja Luka, while Slobodna Dalmicija added that the Bosnian army is approaching Doboj. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted the UNHCR as saying that 432 mainly Muslim civilians were rounded up in a stadium in Doboj, robbed, put on buses, and dumped at the front. Reuters Television said it had proof of the murder of some Serbian civilians by Croatian troops, while AFP stated that Serbian planes from Banja Luka dropped cluster bombs on Croatian positions. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WHERE IS GENERAL MLADIC? Novi list reported that the Croats and government forces now appear to control about 50% of the republic's territory, a gain of about 4,000 sq km since the offensive began. Slobodna Dalmacija on 21 September concluded that the current partition plan has been overtaken by events and that the Serbs will have to be content with 25% of the total territory. The Independent and the International Herald Tribune discussed one of the great mysteries surrounding the dramatic recent developments, namely the disappearance of General Ratko Mladic at a time when his troops were on the run. It appears that he was hospitalized in Belgrade, but that he is now elsewhere. Speculation centers on theories that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has punished him for his hard-line stand on keeping guns around Sarajevo or that he has voluntarily taken himself out of a no-win situation. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN RADICALS HOLD MASS RALLY. A rally organized by the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) outside the federal rump Yugoslav parliament on 21 September attracted some 20,000 people, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Keynote speaker Vojislav Seselj, an accused war criminal and SRS leader, vowed that his opposition to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic would continue unabated. The SRS has accused the president of betraying Serbian nationalists. Seselj noted that "for us Radicals, the only place is either in prison or in power." How much support Seselj has managed to draw from refugees who have entered Serbia since Croatia reclaimed Krajina is unknown. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ETHNIC ALBANIANS SENTENCED IN KOSOVO. Thirty-eight former ethnic Albanian police officers in Kosovo were sentenced on 21 September to prison terms of between one and six-and-a-half years on charges of conspiring to form a breakaway state of Kosovo, AFP reported. The former police officers were found guilty of "'hostile association' in militias threatening the 'territorial integrity of Serbia' by seeking to create an independent state of Kosovo." They were reportedly beaten and tortured in prison while awaiting trial in attempts to extract confessions from them. In a separate development, after Serbian media reported that ethnic Serbs being resettled in Kosovo are experiencing food and clothing shortages, Serbian police officials throughout the province reportedly began looting marketplaces. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN HUMANITARIAN AID FOR RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. The National Red Cross Council on 21 September announced that Romania will grant humanitarian aid to refugees on the territory of the rump Yugoslavia, Radio Bucharest reported. The aid, consisting mainly of staples and clothing worth 800 million lei (some $400,000), was approved by Romania's government. The same source said the move has been given the green light from the Security Council committee in charge of supervising the implementation of the UN embargo against Serbia and Montenegro. A first transport is scheduled to take place next week. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PREMIER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. A vote of no confidence in Zhan Videnov on 22 September failed to muster the required majority, Reuters reported. Of the 232 legislators present, only 102 supported the vote, initiated by the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), while 130 voted against. The Bulgarian Socialist Party, which holds 125 seats in the 240-member parliament, was supported by the Bulgarian Business Bloc, which has 12. The People's Union and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom had announced they would vote against Videnov. The SDS initiated the vote because it holds Videnov responsible for the killing of 14 soldiers in a road crash (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 and 21 September 1995). It was the first no-confidence vote in Videnov since he was elected prime minister in January 1995. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA URGED TO SHUT DOWN NUCLEAR REACTOR. The G-7 ambassadors to Bulgaria on 21 September handed a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev demanding that Unit 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear plant be shut down permanently because it poses a security threat to the region, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Tsochev said the memorandum is based on outdated analyses and does not take recent improvements to the reactor into account. Yanko Yanev, head of Bulgaria's Nuclear Safety Agency, said the reactor can be operated safely. Unit 1 was shut down in February for refueling, repairs, and inspections and is scheduled to be brought back on line in the next weeks. Bulgaria is reluctant to close down any of the four units at Kozloduy because the reactor provides around 40% of Bulgaria's electricity. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA REPLACES AMBASSADORS. The Bulgarian government on 21 September asked President Zhelyu Zhelev to issue decrees on replacing a number of ambassadors, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The ambassadors to the UN, the Council of Europe, the Vatican, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Poland, Albania, and Hungary will be replaced. In the case of UN ambassador Slavi Pashovski (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 September 1995), Zhelev blamed the government for excluding the diplomat from the Bulgarian delegation. 24 chasa cited Zhelev as saying that he is the lawful ambassador and thus cannot be excluded from the delegation. Pashovski said in an interview with Trud that his exclusion changes the constitutional balance and deprives the president of his right to represent Bulgaria through ambassadors selected by him. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES OUT SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. The Albanian parliament has voted to remove Supreme Court head Zef Brozi and to name Avni Shehu, Brozi's deputy, as his replacement, international media reported on 21 September. This move comes in the wake of a long-standing feud between Brozi and the government. Brozi has argued that a Supreme Court justice can be removed only if he commits a serious crime or is proven to be incompetent. He was not available for comment on the parliamentary vote. The opposition Socialist Party boycotted the ballot. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCE ON HOXHA. The Supreme Court on 21 February upheld a one-year prison sentence on Ilir Hoxha, eldest son of the late communist dictator Enver Hoxha, Reuters reported the same day. In June, Hoxha was found guilty of "inciting national hatred by endangering the public peace, calling for hatred against parts of the population,...[and] calling for vengeance" in an interview with Modeste in April. In other news, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 20 September reported that the Albanian Helsinki Committee called the conditions in the remand prison of Peshkopi "disgraceful." Prisoners are held in "dank, subterranean cells with low ceilings" for up to one year, the report says. -- 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. 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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