|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 197, Part II, 10 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 PHYSICAL ASSUALT ON FORMER CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER. Serhii Tsekov, former speaker of the Crimean legislature, was beaten up on 9 October as he and his wife were leaving their Simferopol apartment building, RFE/RL and Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Tsekov suffered two broken ribs, bruises, and a head injury. Representatives of the Republican Party of Crimea, who favor the region's secession from Ukraine and of which Tsekov is a member, told a news conference they believed the attack on Tsekov was politically motivated. Ukrainian Interior Ministry officials say they have arrested the alleged assailant, although Tsekov's wife claimed there were two attackers. Crimean authorities have launched an investigation into the incident. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN UPDATE. The Central Electoral Commission has announced that 239 candidates have registered so far to compete for the 141 vacant parliamentary seats, Belarusian TV reported on 6 October. By-elections are scheduled for 29 November. According to Belarusian Radio on 9 October, 4.1 million citizens (52.7% of the population) have participated in the check privatization process. The Ministry of Statistics has reported that the lowest-paid group in Belarus are social workers, whose average wage in July totaled 430,000 Belarusian rubles ($37). Agricultural workers earn slightly more ($45), while those employed in the cultural sphere receive $47 and teachers $58. Bank workers earned the most--2.3 times the average wage or $129. -- Ustina Markus UPDATE ON ESTONIAN BUGGING SCANDAL. The Council of the Estonian Center Party (EK) on 9 October decided to reject the Coalition Party's demand that EK leader Edgar Savisaar resign as interior minister because of his alleged involvement in illegal recordings of telephone conversations between Savisaar, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and opposition leader Siim Kallas, Western agencies reported. The police found the recordings during a search in late September of the offices of the private Security Intelligence Agency, one of whose owners was an adviser to Savisaar from April to September. EK council member Andra Veidemann said that "if the Coalition Party keeps insisting on Savissar's resignation without presenting proper grounds for such a demand, it will inevitably lead to the collapse of the coalition." -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES RATIFICATION OF RUSSIAN TREATIES. The parliament on 9 October postponed discussing the ratification of the treaties signed by Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Lennart Meri in July 1994 by removing it from this week's working agenda, BNS reported. While the opposition abstained and the six Russian faction deputies voted against, 40 deputies of the ruling coalition approved postponing the discussion, arguing that it was not yet clear which Estonian laws would have to be changed by the ratification. Noting that the Russian Federation Council ratified the treaty on Russian troop withdrawals in early October and that on social guarantees for military retirees in late July, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said the postponement demonstrated Estonia's "irresponsibile" attitude toward international obligations. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT, PRIMATE MEET IN WARSAW. Lech Walesa on 9 October received Cardinal Jozef Glemp, who celebrated morning mass in the chapel of the Presidential Palace. They discussed the upcoming presidential elections, in which Walesa is one of 17 candidates for the presidency. Polish TV said that the primate, speaking off the record, promised Walesa he would seek to convince Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the right-of- center candidate and Walesa's main rival, to withdraw from the race. But later, both the cardinal's secretary and Polish TV denied that Glemp had made such a statement. Polish dailies on 10 October point out that the Church has not endorsed a presidential candidate, though some clergymen have come out in support of Walesa. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH HEALTH MINISTER FIRED. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 9 October announced he is replacing embattled Health Minister Ludek Rubas, Czech media reported. President Vaclav Havel was due on 10 October to name Transport Minister Jan Strasky to succeed Rubas, who has been under strong criticism from health service workers and politicians for his alleged failure to reform the service. Some doctors planned to strike over Rubas's intransigence, and Klaus told journalists Rubas had failed to communicate well. Rubas, who has been health minister for 27 months, is the fifth minister to lose his post since the four-party government was formed in July 1992. Strasky's job as Transport Minister goes to Vladimir Budinsky, current chairman of the parliament's economics committee. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S AUSTRIAN BANK STATEMENT IS A FAKE. The Vienna-based Raiffeisen Zentralbank AG, in an official announcement on 9 October, said Michal Kovac does not hold an account there and alleged that a bank statement published by Slovenska Republika two days earlier was falsified (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October). The date on the bank statement--25 May--was a public holiday in Austria, and all banks were closed on that day. Narodna obroda reports that the bank plans to take legal action. Jan Smolec, editor-in-chief of Slovenska Republika and a parliamentary deputy for the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), said the bank's denial does not prove the evidence to be false. Kovac told Sme on 10 October that the aim of the whole affair could have been to win over the eight opposition deputies needed to remove him from office. In other news, Vladimir Lamacka has been replaced as director of the police investigation department by Jan Kostov, an investigator from Banska Bystrica, a HZDS stronghold. -- Sharon Fisher RULING SLOVAK PARTY REJECTS PROPOSED PROGRAM FOR PARLIAMENT SESSION. The HZDS, in a statement released on 9 October, described the program proposed by the opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) for the upcoming extraordinary parliament session as "useless" and said it was an attempt "to mislead the public." The session, which begins on 10 October, was called to deal with the conflict between the police and the SIS, but it is unlikely that the program will be approved. All opposition parties have agreed on a common approach to the session. In other news, Democratic Union Chairman and former Prime Minister Jozef Moravcik cut short a U.S. visit because "the future development of Slovakia is currently being decided." Moravcik called for the removal of Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa as well as Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, commenting that Meciar is unable to uphold international agreements. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN LABOR MINISTER REFUSES TO WITHDRAW RESIGNATION. Labor Minister Magda Kosa-Kovacs has refused to withdraw her resignation, despite Premier Horn's attempt to persuade her to do so, Hungarian media reported on 10 October. Horn hoped she would agree to stay in office once differences over the issue of sick leave were resolved. Kosa- Kovacs, who is a member of the Socialist Party, held talks with Horn on 9 October. Nepszabadsag reported that they discussed a wide range of issues and that Kosa-Kovacs resignation seems to be due to differences between the Finance and Labor Ministries. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY SENTENCES SERBIAN GANGSTER. Marinko Magda was sentenced by the Hungarian court to life imprisonment for committing four murders in Hungary, Reuters reported on 6 October. The court said the 32-year-old former French Foreign Legion soldier committed "premeditated murders, some of them with particular cruelty." Magda belonged to a Serbian gang called the "Commando of Death," which committed a series of armed robberies in Hungary and the former Yugoslavia in 1993-1994 in which 17 people were killed. Once he has served 25 years in prison, he will be expelled to rump Yugoslavia. -- Zsofia Szilagyi FIRST ROMANI NEWSWIRE TO BE LAUNCHED IN HUNGARY. A non-profit Romani newswire will begin trial operations in Hungary next month, Nepszabadsag reported on 9 October. One of the organizers said that too many non- credible, non-Romani sources distribute unreliable information on Roma and that Roma thus need their own agency.But the wire agency will initially be staffed mostly by non-Roma. It will use MTI's facilities to transmit news and says it will not be associated with any Romani organization or party. The agency will receive funding from a variety of foundations to help ensure objectivity. Hungary already has a Romani television program and several publications. -- Alaina Lemon SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO PLANES HIT SERBS NEAR TUZLA. Six jets of the Atlantic alliance attacked the Bosnian Serb command-and-control center near Tuzla on 9 October. The Serbs had shelled a refugee camp and later killed a Norwegian peacekeeper. The BBC quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that the shells were fired by "the Muslims" against their own people in the hope of bringing in NATO on their side. This is frequently the Bosnian Serb line following particularly outrageous acts against civilians. Croatian dailies on 10 October reported that Bosnian government forces stand poised to take the strategic town of Mrkonjic Grad, western Bosnia. Finally, the Bosnian government has suspended implementing the latest cease-fire because the preconditions of restoring energy and water supplies to Sarajevo have not been met. -- Patrick Moore SERBS STEP UP "ETHNIC CLEANSING." The International Herald Tribune reported on 10 October that Bosnian Serbs are clearing the last Muslims and Croats out of northern Bosnia, an area where the Serbs were in the minority before the war. An aid official called it a "life-threatening situation," and there are reports that men and boys have been taken away and killed. Meanwhile in The Hague, the war crimes tribunal has heard the first testimony in the trial of Serbian concentration camp guard Dragan "Jenki" Nikolic. Judge Richard Goldstone said it was time to hear "the voice of the victims," the BBC reported on 9 October. A Muslim cleric told of the atrocities committed by Serbian "special forces." Nikolic is believed to be still at large on Serbian-held territory. In another development, Croatian officials announced the discovery of a mass grave of murdered Croatian civilians in an area recently retaken from the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN UPDATE. Following his meeting with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 9 October, EU mediator Carl Bildt told reporters that the main focus of discussion was the upcoming peace talks scheduled to be held in the U.S. on 31 October, BETA reported. Meanwhile, the same agency reports that the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia has observed that campaigns to forcibly mobilize refugee youths in Serbia have intensified recently and that the Ministry of Interior appears to be behind the latest wave of press-ganging. -- Stan Markotich MEETING ON MUSLIM-CROAT FEDERATION. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has met with Kresimir Zubak and Ejup Ganic, president and vice president of the Muslim-Croatian Federation, to discuss the future form of the federation, the BBC reported on 9 October. Izetbegovic said progress on the federation was slow, but he emphasized the goodwill on both sides. Zubak underscored the need for the federation to be up and running as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Bosnian Minister for Refugees Muhamed Cero said the Croatian government's desire for Bosnian refugees to be quickly resettled is interference in Bosnia's internal affairs. He added, however, that the Croatian government's decision to abolish refugee status for Bosnian refugees has been suspended. -- Daria Sito Sucic TUDJMAN ON WAR CRIMES IN CROATIA. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, asked at a 6 October news conference about recent war crimes in Croatia, said some of the 120,000 Croatian refugees who have returned to their homes in Krajina cannot resist the desire for revenge. According to the BBC on 9 October, he condemned all acts of revenge and looting. Tudjman also said that accusations of war crimes were aimed at preventing Croatia from regaining eastern Slavonia. Asked about the possibility that Krajina Serbs will return, Tudjman said they could come back on an individual basis, but it was not possible that all 250,000-300,000 be allowed to return. -- Daria Sito Sucic MACEDONIA RATIFIES ACCORD WITH GREECE. The Macedonian parliament on 9 October ratified the interim accord with Greece, international agencies reported the same day. Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski called the agreement "one piece of a complex mosaic," saying it ended one of the most difficult periods for Macedonia and paved the way to normalizing relations with both Greece and the rump Yugoslavia. "Macedonia is a state with solid foundations, we are clear about where we are going, and we will not change tack," he said. Greece is expected to lift the embargo by 13 October; and a Greek government delegation arrived in Skopje on 9 October for the second round of talks, which will focus on opening liaison offices in Skopje and Athens as well as on visa and transit regulations. Meanwhile, Nova Makedonija on 10 October reported that Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov's condition is stable and that rehabilitation treatment is having a "positive effect." -- Stefan Krause INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION CONFERENCE IN BUCHAREST. The 94th conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union opened in Bucharest on 9 October, international media reported. President Ion Iliescu, Chamber of Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase, and Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman addressed the opening sesssion. Nastase was elected chairman of the week-long conference, which is to discuss the global political and economic situation, the role of parliaments in fighting corruption, and the future role and strategy of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros Ghali, in a message read to the gathering, said if emergency measures are not taken to restore the financial health of the UN, the organization will suffer irreversible damage. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PARTY PROPOSES EARLY PRESIDENTIAL, PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS. The Social Democratic Party of Moldova (PSDM) has issued a statement suggesting that presidential and parliamentary elections be held early and at the same time, Infotag and Radio Bucharest reported on 9 October. The PSDM believes that holding elections early rather than waiting for another 14 or so months would not only reduce the "ruinous consequences" of the tension between the parliament and the government but would also exclude a possible confrontation between the newly elected president and parliament. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON CONFLICT WITH TIRASPOL. Mihai Popov, addressing the UN General Assembly on 9 October, said any proposal for a solution to the conflict with the breakaway republic of Transdniester must provide for Moldovan integrity and sovereignty over all its territory. Citing a Foreign Ministry press release, BASA-press reported that Popov said a political settlement to the conflict would have to be based on the "complete, orderly, and unconditional withdrawal of the Russian troops, in accordance with bilateral agreements and OSCE resolutions." He expressed hope that Russian decision-makers would speed up the enforcement of the 1994 Moldovan-Russian agreement on the withdrawal. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES PRIVATIZATION LIST. The Bulgarian government on 9 October approved a list of enterprises to be included in the first wave of mass privatization. According to Kontinent, the firms have a combined capital of 210 billion leva ($3.09 billion). Some 65% of the assets will be privatized, while 35% will "be controled by the state," the newspaper said. Demokratsiya reported that apart from a few companies such as Neftohim and Plama (Bulgaria's two biggest oil refineries), most enterprises on the list are losing money or are de facto bankrupt. The list was reportedly drawn up by Kalin Mitrev, head of the Center for Mass Privatization, which comes under the direct control of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRAT MEETS WITH EUROPEAN LEGISLATORS. Skender Gjinushi, head of the Social Democratic Party of Albania, has met in Brussels with socialist deputies from the European Parliament, Koha Jone reported on 10 October. The meeting took place three days before Albanian President Sali Berisha's visit to the EU's headquarters in Brussels on 12 October. Gjinushi rallied for support against the law condemning genocide and crimes against humanity committed in communist Albania, which was approved by the parliament last month. The Albanian opposition argues that the law aims to weaken its chances in the upcoming elections. Article 3 of the law states that those who held high government posts before 31 March 1991 cannot run in elections until 2002. Under the law, Gjinushi, who was minister of education before that date, would not be able to run. -- Fabian Schmidt TURKEY, ESTONIA DISCUSS CFE. Estonian Foreign Minister Riivo Sinijarv held talks with his acting Turkish counterpart, Coskun Kirca, in Ankara on 9 October, the Turkish Daily News reported the next day. Their discussions reportedly focused on Russia's efforts to alter the Convential Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. Both countries are seeking a solution that would not change the level of conventional arms near their borders, Sinijarv told a press conference in Ankara. They also signed agreements pledging cooperation on tourism and transport. -- Lowell Bezanis [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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