|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 192, Part II, 3 October 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 COAL MINERS STAGE WARNING STRIKE. Some 2,000 miners from 200 or so coal mines throughout Ukraine staged a warning strike on 2 October demanding payment of wages owed them since May by the government, Reuters and Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Thousands also held a rally in the main square in Donetsk protesting economic hardships in their sector and demanding increased government subsidies. A representative of the Ukrainian Coal Workers' Union said the strikers want the parliament to increase budget spending for their industry and that if it fails to do so, they will hold a strike calling for its dissolution. But leaders of the powerful Independent Miners' Union denounced the strike, claiming it was organized by coal mine managers who oppose economic reforms. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY FORMED IN BELARUS. The United Democratic Party and the Civic Party on 2 October merged to form a new opposition formation--the United Civic Party, Belarusian TV reported on 2 October. Former Chairman of the National Bank of Belarus Stanislau Bahdankevich was elected head of the new party, which he described as liberal-conservative. Bahdankevich said its priorities are to protect the country's sovereignty and proceed with market economic reforms, including land privatization. As regards the immediate future, the party wants to win seats in the new parliament. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS MILITARY NOT GUILTY IN BALLOON SHOOTING. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, in an interview with Belarusian TV on 2 October, said the country's military was not to blame for the 12 September shooting of a balloon, which resulted in the deaths of two Americans. According to Lukashenka, the air defense forces dealt with the balloon as an illegal intruder into Belarusian air space. He said the blame lay to some extent with bureaucrats and the balloon competition organizers, who failed to properly inform Belarusian authorities about the race. After the incident Lukashenka sent a personal letter of regret to U.S. President Bill Clinton but neither apologized nor accepted responsibility for the downing. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN SPECIALISTS REMAIN IN PALDISKI. Parliamentary deputy Toomas Alatalu said that some of the Russian military specialists who worked on the dismantling of two nuclear reactors at the former Soviet submarine base at Paldiski did not leave Estonia by 30 September as required by agreements, BNS reported on 2 October. The government on 28 September approved only 11 of the 30 requests from specialists to allow family members to continue residing in Estonia. Government representative in Paldiski Juri Tiik said that the police and border guards were informed about the situation and would expel any persons remaining illegally. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. DIFFICULTIES IN FORMING COALITION AFTER LATVIAN ELECTIONS. The Popular Movement for Latvia's strong showing in the parliamentary elections (16 seats) has made the formation of a majority coalition in the Latvian parliament difficult. Joachim Siegerist, leader of the movement, was considered a right-wing extremist but is now stressing the need to build good relations with Russia. Neither the left-wing nor the right-wing parties can form a parliamentary majority without Siegerist. If the leading parties--the leftist Democratic Party Saimnieks and the ruling Latvia's Way (18 and 17 seats)--have said they will not cooperate with him but may be forced to form an alliance with some of the other rightist parties. The parliament's first session is scheduled for 7 November. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. WORLD BANK SURVEY ON BRIBERY IN LITHUANIA. A survey conducted by the World Bank in July among 200 foreign investors and 200 Lithuanian businessmen revealed a serious problem with bribes, BNS reported on 29 September. Lithuanian businessmen were estimated to spend an average of 13,000 litai ($3,250) per year on bribes. Fifty-four percent of businessmen in Vilnius and Kaunas admitted they had paid official bribes, ranging from 50 litai to 200,000 litai. While 80% of foreign investors said they had been asked to pay bribes, 90% stated corruption was preventing them from developing business and increasing investments. Foreign investors mentioned tax inspectors and customs officials as the most corrupt groups, although they usually demanded relatively small bribes, ranging from $30 to $100. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. The Central Election Commission on 2 October decided not to register Boleslaw Tejkowski, head of the rightist Polish National Community, as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. The commission suspected that some of the 100,000 signatures supporting Tejkowski were falsified. The same day, the radical peasant activist Andrzej Lepper became the 17th candidate to be registered. Meanwhile, there was a record low turnout in by-elections for two Senate seats. Only 10% and 6.5% of voters turned out in Szczecin and Wroclaw, respectively. -- Jakub Karpinski and Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc. POLAND PAYS BACK ITS DEBTS. Poland on 2 October paid the first $55 million installment this year of its $28 billion debt to the Paris Club of creditors. The Paris and London Clubs have cut Poland's $47 billion debt by half, but the debt to the clubs has increased to $36 million owing to outstanding interest rates, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 3 October. -- Jakub Karpinski and Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc. CZECH INTERIOR MINISTRY INSPECTOR FIRED OVER MAFIA RAID. Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml on 2 October recalled the ministry's chief internal investigator for allegedly leaking secret information, Czech media reported. Vladimir Nechanicky, his deputy, and four other members of the ministry's Inspectorate were suspended on half-pay pending an inquiry. They are accused of revealing data incriminating Ruml's deputy and senior police officials in alleged criminal actions in connection with a raid last May on a Prague restaurant known to be a meeting place for foreign organized criminal gangs. Following a tip-off that a Russian mafia boss was to be murdered there, police raided the restaurant and detained around 200 people. None was charged with a crime, but the restaurant's Ukrainian owner was later expelled from the Czech Republic. Ruml said the information leaks jeopardized the fight against Russian-speaking mafiosi operating in the Czech Republic. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. MORE ROMA MAY BE ADMITTED TO CZECH POLICE FORCE. Romani organizations in the Czech Republic have secured the authorities' promise to help more Roma become policemen by allowing them to enter without a secondary school diploma, although they will have to finish it while on the job, CTK reported on 2 October. The action, intended to balance educational disadvantages, was announced after a meeting between Romani representatives and members of the government Committee for Nationalities, which was also attended by Premier Vaclav Klaus. Igor Nemec, chairman of the committee, noted that Romani police could deal with cases concerning Roma better than "ordinary employees." -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON FREED ON BAIL. Michal Kovac Jr., who was arrested in late August after being abducted from Slovakia and dumped in Austria, was freed from prison on bail totaling 1 million schillings ($108,000), international media reported on 2 October. Austrian police were acting on an international arrest warrant issued by a Munich prosecutor who charged Kovac Jr. with suspected fraud. Kovac Jr. is not permitted to leave Austria until officials decide whether to extradite him to Germany. The case of abduction currently remains unresolved, although Slovak police have found evidence suggesting the Slovak Information Service (SIS) was involved. This find has caused further tension and polarization of Slovakia's political scene. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK OPPOSITION TO CALL EXTRAORDINARY PARLIAMENT SESSION. Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) Deputy Chairman Ivan Simko on 2 October announced that all opposition parties have agreed on the need to call an extraordinary parliament session. Only 30 signatures are required for such a move. The session is expected to address the conflict between the SIS and the police in connection with the Kovac Jr. case. Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek, SIS director Ivan Lexa, and Attorney General Michal Valo will be expected to address the parliament. The opposition will also demand representation on the parliamentary organ overseeing the SIS, Narodna obroda reported. Augustin Marian Huska of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia told Slovak Radio that the KDH is attempting to "show its muscles more than its share in the parliament allows," but he stressed that "the parliamentary majority is unwilling to give any space to KDH representatives." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. GERMANY PLEDGES CREDIT GUARANTEES FOR HUNGARY. Germany on 2 October promised Hungary new loan guarantees worth up to 1 billion German marks ($710 million) to help finance the country's reform process, Hungarian newspapers reported the next day. The agreement was signed by Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn, where Kohl reaffirmed his pledge to help Hungary gain membership in the EU and supported Hungary's restructuring and modernization plans. The credit agreement, granted to Hungary under very favorable conditions, is aimed at financing projects in transportation, environmental protection, and energy distribution and helping the Hungarian economy prepare for European integration. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FAILED ATTEMPT ON MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT'S LIFE. An attempt to kill Kiro Gligorov failed on 3 October, AFP reported, citing Macedonian TV. A car bomb exploded in central Skopje at 9:30 a.m. local time as Gligorov's car drove by. The president's driver was killed and his security officer and several other people injured. Gligorov has been admitted to the hospital, where he is "under medical care." According to Macedonian TV, his life is "not threatened," but there are contradictory reports about the extent of his injuries. Two persons have been arrested in connection with the blast. According to MIC, they were driving a car registered in the Macedonian town of Titov Veles. All frontier checkpoints have been put on alert. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the explosion. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GLIGOROV IN BELGRADE. The previous day, Gligorov had met with his Serbian counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic, in Belgrade on 2 October, Vecher and Nova Makedonija reported. Milosevic said he favored "full normalization" of relations between Macedonia and Greece and between Macedonia and the rump Yugoslavia "as soon as possible," saying it is "crucial for political stability in the Balkans." Gligorov called Belgrade and Skopje's mutual recognition and the establishment of diplomatic relations "essential." He added that an agreement might be reached in November if a peace accord for Bosnia-Herzegovina has been reached by then. It was Gligorov's first visit to Belgrade since Macedonia declared independence in 1991 and the first meeting between the two presidents since 1993. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. EU ENDORSES BOSNIAN RECONSTRUCTION PLAN. The European Union foreign ministers on 2 October backed a French-German initiative for Bosnian post-war reconstruction, international agencies reported. The EU Commission is to finalize the details of a plan to rebuild Bosnia by 30 October. This move reflects growing optimism that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke's peace initiatives will succeed. It also reveals the EU's willingness to take the lead on economic reconstruction once peace is achieved. The EU plan will provide help for refugees, for the reconstruction of towns destroyed by war, and for the building of economic and institutional relations between the countries of the former Yugoslavia and the EU. The EU has said it is willing to foot a third of the bill for post-war reconstruction, which has been estimated at $4 billion. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. FRESH EVIDENCE ON SREBRENICA MASSACRE. The Christian Science Monitor on 2 October said that one of its reporters has completed interviews with witnesses of alleged Serbian massacres in July of Muslim males of military age. He told Monitor Radio that the people agreed on even minor details and provided information that only someone who had actually seen the site of the murders could have known. The reporter said some 2,000 men were machine-gunned and dumped into a mass grave. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERBS ON COUNTEROFFENSIVE. Beta reported on 2 October that Bosnian Serb forces are on the move against Bosanska Krupa and Kljuc. International media said the Bosnian Serbs around Sarajevo released the armored car carrying the Slovenian ambassador, which they had earlier fired on when it strayed into their territory by mistake. U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke broke off his marathon cease-fire talks after a session in Sarajevo ended "inconclusively." The Bosnian government and the Serbs cannot even agree as to what such a truce would entail. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. UN INVESTIGATING APPARENT MASSACRE OF ELDERLY SERBS. UN spokesman Chris Gunness told Reuters on 2 October that the UN is looking into the probable murder of 12 elderly Serbian civilians in Varivode in Krajina on 28 September. He added that the Croatian authorities for the first time have acknowledged that a mass killing took place. Serbian civilians said armed men in military dress had previously looted and torched only abandoned property but that they were now robbing elderly Serbs in their houses and killing livestock if the Serbs had no money. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES SIGN DECLARATION. The opposition Democratic Party and Democratic Party of Serbia, together with the extraparliamentary Serbian Liberal Party and United People's Party, have signed a joint political declaration, Nasa Borba reported on 2 October. To "save the people and the homeland," they propose replacing the "communist regime" with a democratic one and the unification of all "Serbian lands and people." It is unclear if this means the opposition is uniting for the first time since 1990 or if this is just an attempt to show the opposition is still alive. In another development, the Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has asked Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to deliver up indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, Novi list reported on 2 October. -- Daria Sito Sucic, OMRI, Inc. SECOND WAVE OF MASS PRIVATIZATION STARTS IN ROMANIA. The second phase of the Romanian government's mass privatization program officially started on 2 October, Romanian media reported. Romanians are expected to trade nominal coupons, as well as vouchers received in 1991, for shares in a company by 31 December. They can also opt to entrust their coupons by 31 March 1996 to one of the six Private Property Funds, which will act as mutual funds after that deadline. The exchange of coupons and vouchers for shares will be brokered by some 1,000 centers. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA SIGNS INTERIM TRADE DEAL WITH EU. European Union foreign ministers on 2 October signed in Luxembourg an interim trade agreement with the Republic of Moldova, Reuters reported. The deal includes the economic aspects of a broader EU-Moldova agreement signed in November 1994 but not yet ratified. The broader agreement, which paves the way for strengthened diplomatic, political, and economic ties between the EU and the former Soviet republic, is similar to agreements concluded by the EU with Russia and Ukraine. The interim accord focuses on trade and other economic issues. It provides for tariff cuts and extra aid to be put into effect before the broader framework for closer relations is implemented. -- Matyas Szabo, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONCERNED ABOUT DEVELOPMENTS IN MOLDOVA. Vladimir Solonari, chairman of the Moldovan parliamentary Human Rights and Minorities Committee, told Infotag on 2 October that deputies of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly have expressed concern over President Mircea Snegur's plans to turn Moldova into a "presidential republic." Snegur last week accused parliamentary leaders of tarnishing his image in a message addressed to Miguel Angel Martinez, chairman of the CE Parliamentary Assembly, suggesting that Snegur was seeking to establish dictatorship in Moldova. Parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi responded that the letter to Martinez was a brief, purely factual overview of the political situation in Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. HOLBROOKE IN SOFIA. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke visited Sofia on 1-2 October to brief Bulgarian politicians on the peace process in Bosnia and to discuss U.S.-Bulgarian relations, RFE/RL and Bulgarian newspapers reported. He met with President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Holbrooke said Bulgaria has made significant sacrifices in enforcing sanctions against rump Yugoslavia and that the U.S. will bear in mind any sacrifices by so-called front-line states when it comes to post-war reconstruction programs. He added that Bulgaria "will play an important role in reconstructing the Balkan region after [the end of] the Yugoslav conflict." On Bulgaria's possible NATO membership, Holbrooke said the country must "decide what it wishes to do in terms of its future orientation in Europe." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK-TURKISH UPDATE. Vessels from Greece and Turkey took part in a military exercise in the Aegean Sea for the first time since 1974, AFP reported on 2 October. Greek government spokesman Tylemachos Hytiris said a Greek, a Turkish, a Dutch, and a U.S. warship took part in a "technical exercise" organized on the sidelines of NATO's Partnership for Peace maneuvers in the Black Sea. Greece had previously boycotted NATO exercises in the Aegean Sea in protest at the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus in 1974 and because of disputes over the delineation of territorial waters in the Aegean Sea between Athens and Ankara. Hytiris also announced that Greece is sending a relief team to southeastern Turkey, where at least 71 people were killed by an earthquake on 1 October. -- 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. 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