|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 199, Part II, 12 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 ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. Tiit Vahi on 11 October, after firing Interior Minister Edgar Savisaar because of his alleged involvement in the electronic bugging of leading politicians, submitted his resignation to President Lennart Meri, BNS reported. Estonian law requires the parliament to approve his resignation, which will also result in the dismissal of his cabinet. Leaders of the Coalition Party and Rural Union decided to withdraw from their coalition with the Center Party, and it appears likely that Vahi, if asked by Meri to form a new government, will choose the Reform Party as a new coalition partner. Probably in an effort to preserve the ruling coalition, Savisaar resigned as chairman of the Center Party and pledged to quit politics entirely. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN STATE AIRLINE DECLARED BANKRUPT. The Latvian Commercial Court on 11 October declared Latavio bankrupt, BNS reported. The airline's total value is estimated at 7 million lati ($13.3 million), but it owes 9.266 million lati to Banka Baltija. A state administrator is to be appointed for Latavio within three days. Latavio lost its regular scheduled flights to the newly created Air Baltic in September and had recently been offering only charter flights. The company has 560 employees. -- Saulius Girnius UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC PROGRAM. Ukrainian lawmakers on 11 October approved a government economic program that includes austerity measures to keep down inflation, international agencies reported the same day. The plan is aimed at stimulating investment and boosting production by lowering the corporate tax rate to just under 50% for most industries, with special emphasis on exporters. It foresees cuts in social spending and a monthly inflation rate under 2.4% in 1996, compared with 7.5% this year. Reformers have criticized the program as not radical enough, while leftists in the legislature oppose it as too austere. The government now has a year to implement its plan without interference from the parliament. -- Chrystyna Lapychak DISPUTE OVER FLAG DISRUPTS CRIMEAN LEGISLATIVE SESSION. A dispute between pro-Moscow deputies and Crimean Tatar representatives over which flag or flags should be hoisted in the Crimean legislature's assembly hall disrupted a session of the regional parliament on 11 October, Radio Mayak reported the same day. An attempt by legislators from the Republican Party of Crimea, who advocate the peninsula's secession from Ukraine, to display the Russian flag prompted protests from the Crimean Tatars' Kurultai faction. Kurultai members responded by attempting to hoist the flag of the Crimean Tatars next to the Ukrainian flag. Parliamentary speaker Yevhen Supruniuk adjourned the session in an effort to resolve the quarrel. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT BACKS PARLIAMENT. The Belarusian Constitutional Court has ruled that the 1990-elected parliament has the legal right to continue fulfilling the legislature's functions until a new parliament is elected in the November by-elections, Reuters reported on 11 October. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has denounced the parliament as illegitimate, because elections failed to bring in a new legislature in May. There was no comment from the president's office on the ruling, but the conservative deputy Mykola Skarynin said the ruling shows the president has been "systematically violating the constitution." -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN APPOINTMENTS. Belarusian Radio on 11 October reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed a decree naming Leanid Sinitsyn and Vasil Dauhaleu, who headed the president's administration and president's control service, respectively, as deputy prime ministers. Mikhail Myasnikovich, who was a deputy prime minister, has been made head of the president's administration, while acting Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu has been confirmed in that post. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that four independent papers have been ordered closed by the president's office. The Ministry of Culture and Press denied any knowledge of orders to shut down the papers. RFE/RL reported the same day that two independent newspapers will no longer to be printed by the state publishing house, the largest printing press in the country. -- Ustina Markus POLISH UPDATE. Lech Walesa, speaking at his weekly press conference on 11 October, said he had asked his lawyers whether he could ratify the Concordat, over the head of the parliament. He also praised Chief of General Staff General Tadeusz Wilecki for his recent article in defense of the army. Some politicians have insisted that Wilecki was overstepping his mark as a member of the military by making political statements. Meanwhile, Primate Jozef Glemp said the same day that the Episcopate would not endorse any candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. He added that if some bishops did so, they would not be representing the Episcopate's views, Polish dailies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski YELTSIN ADVISOR: NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE NOT AIMED AT POLAND. Any changes in Russia's military doctrine will not be directed against Poland, Yurii Baturin, national security adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin told Rzeczpospolita on 11 October. Baturin two days previously called for a new doctrine, recalling that the present one, adopted two years ago, was supposed to be temporary only. The article noted that the authors of the present doctrine stressed Russia's "geopolitical situation" was worsening. -- Doug Clarke CZECH GOVERNMENT TACKLES MONEY LAUNDERING. The Czech government on 11 October approved a draft law intended to curb money laundering, Czech media reported. Under the proposed law, banks, share dealers, casinos, and other betting organizations will have to identify and report the names of people involved in any transaction exceeding 500,000 koruny ($20,000). If the parliament passes the law, it is likely to come into effect on 1 April 1996, three months before general elections are held. The amount of "dirty" money in the Czech economy is not known, but there have been frequent allegations that the coupon privatization process provided a perfect screen for widespread money laundering. -- Steve Kettle CZECH FINANCE MINISTRY HALTS RIGGED TV GAME SHOW. The Finance Ministry on 11 October shut down part of a live television bingo show that is the subject of an alleged multi-million koruny fraud, Czech media reported. Ministry spokeswoman Ludmila Nutilova said the order was temporary and how long it lasted would depend on police investigations into the scam. Two people have been arrested so far, accused of manipulating computer data to fix the drawing of winning numbers in one section of the show. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK OPPOSITION SPLIT. A division between the leftist and non-leftist opposition groups deepened after the failed extraordinary parliament session on 10 October, with the Common Choice (SV) coalition announcing it would hold a meeting separate from the other opposition parties. The SV blamed not only the coalition but also the opposition Christian Democratic Movement for increasing political tensions. Of the 13 SV deputies who attended the meeting, seven supported the statement. In a press conference the following day, Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) Chairman Peter Weiss, who had abstained from the vote on the statement, said his party "sits firmly on its own opposition stool" and called the coalition's methods "arrogant, uncultured, incompetent, and disrespectful of democratic principles." -- Sharon Fisher PRIVATE SLOVAK FIRM STOPS PRINTING SME. Concordia Press director Frantisek Mana on 10 October announced to Sme his decision to cease production of the daily and refused to discuss the matter further, citing economic reasons. Sme officials hinted at political motives behind the move, saying the paper's debts to Concordia do not exceed 1 million koruny. Sme's 11 October edition was published by the state- owned firm, Danubiaprint, but the company refused to continue publishing the paper. On 12 October, the daily was printed in the southern Slovak town of Komarno; and according to a statement published that day, Sme officials did not know what would happen in the future. Mana told TASR on 11 October that there are no "dark forces" behind his decision to stop printing the paper. -- Sharon Fisher DUTCH PREMIER BACKS SPEEDY ENTRY TO EU FOR HUNGARY. Wim Kok has expressed strong support for Hungary's speedy integration into the EU and NATO, Reuters and Hungarian newspapers reported. Following talks with visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn in The Hague, Kok told a news conference that while he would prefer Hungary's entry into the EU and NATO in relatively quick succession, he was aware of the potential to upset Russia. "A balance must be maintained that allows trust," he noted. Horn said that Hungary's ties with the Netherlands seemed "the best among all the Western countries," despite the controversial Hungaroton privatization deal, in which the Holland-based Polygram lost the tender to a consortium of Hungarian musicians that had made a significantly lower bid, Magyar Hirlap reported. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN CEASEFIRE BEGINS. International media on 12 October reported that the latest of at least 35 Bosnian truces came into effect at 12:01 a.m. local time. AFP quoted UN officials as saying that "things look generally quiet" and that the next item on their agenda is to get the Serbian and allied sides to agree on the location of the front lines. The International Herald Tribune quoted Bosnian government soldiers of the victorious Fifth Corps as saying "we'll see you for coffee in Banja Luka," which suggests that at least some soldiers may not take the truce very seriously. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali nonetheless expressed "deep satisfaction" that the ceasefire has begun. -- Patrick Moore "WE SEE NO GRAIN OF HUMANITY." This is how an International Red Cross official described the Bosnian Serbs' continued expulsion of Muslim and Croatian civilians from northern Bosnia, the International Herald Tribune reported on 12 October. Slobodna Dalmacija puts the figure at 9,000, with men mostly unaccounted for. The paper also says that internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" arrived in the area on 21 September to launch "the terror campaign." Elsewhere, AFP cited humanitarian organizations as saying that 40,000 panicked Serbian civilians are fleeing before the allied advance. The International Herald Tribune quoted Serbian officials in Prijedor as telling their people not to leave and saying that "these are decisive moments of the struggle for freedom, honor, and existence of the Serbian people." -- Patrick Moore BELGRADE GROUP PROTESTS PRESS-GANGING. BETA on 10 October reported that the Center for Anti-war Action in Belgrade has launched a protest against recently revived campaigns in Serbia to forcibly draft refugees. The center has sent an open letter to Serbian Interior Minister Zoran Sokolovic condemning the revived practice of forcing refugee youths across the Serbian border and into Croatia's eastern Slavonia, where they are reportedly being pressed into service by paramilitary units. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN POLICE ARREST PRO-BULGARIAN POLITICIANS. Krasimir Karakachanov, leader of the Sofia-based Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Union of Macedonian Associations (VMRO-SMD), on 11 October said that the Macedonian police over the weekend arrested a number of politicians known for their pro-Bulgarian position, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The VMRO-SMD has accused the Macedonian government of a "gross violation of human rights" and of taking advantage of the assassination attempt on Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov. According to Demokratsiya, several officials of the pro-Bulgarian Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization- Fatherland Party were arrested, and the party's headquarters and other offices were searched. -- Stefan Krause SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES DRAFT BUDGET. Slovenia's three-party governing coalition on 10 October unanimously approved the 1996 budget proposal, STA reported the following day. Expenditures are expected to total some 570 billion tolars (some $5 billion). A significant proportion of expenditures is earmarked for health, education, and infrastructure. Premier Janez Drnovsek expressed satisfaction that the budget had been unanimously approved, since earlier debates dealing with state spending suggested a consensus would be difficult, if not impossible, to reach. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN VIENNA, FRANKFURT. Ion Iliescu met with Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and President Thomas Klestil in Vienna on 11 October, Romanian TV reported. They discussed bilateral relations, the Hungarian minority in Romania, Bucharest's initiative for a reconciliation with Budapest, and the future of the region in the wake of the ceasefire agreement in Bosnia. Iliescu earlier the same day launched the German version of one of his memoirs at the Frankfurt International Book Fair. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN POLITICAL ALLIANCE ENLARGED. The Bloc of National Unity (BUN), a political alliance set up in December 1993 by the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) and the Democratic Agrarian Party, has been enlarged. Radio Bucharest and Romanian TV reported on 10-11 October that the Ecologist Movement of Romania has joined the BUN. The signatories have agreed to run on separate lists in the local elections due in early 1996 and to support the best-placed candidate among them in the run-offs. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN STUDENTS GO ON STRIKE. Students from Bacau, Ploiesti, and Galati went on strike on 10 October, Romanian media reported on 10-11 October. They are demanding the abolition of a special tax on students who have to repeat a year, reduced fares on public transportation, changes in the scholarship-awarding system, and more dormitories. A large number of professors joined a demonstration in Galati supporting their demands. Radio Bucharest on 11 October reported that Queen Ana, the spouse of Romania's former King Michael, who is currently paying a visit to Romania, stopped by the site where the student demonstration was held. The radio said the students greeted her arrival with shouts of "no politics." -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT VISITS GERMANY... Mircea Snegur met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn on 11 October, Moldovan and international agencies reported. The two leaders signed an agreement on bilateral ties. Kohl said Germany supported Moldovan sovereignty and territorial integrity, and he underscored the importance of reaching a peaceful settlement in the Dniester breakaway region. Snegur replied that Chisinau has made a reasonable compromise by proposing a special status for the region, but Tiraspol is "probably waiting for the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Russia." During his three-day visit, Snegur is also scheduled to meet with President Roman Herzog, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, and Bundestag deputies. -- Michael Shafir ...AND SUPPORTS INITIATIVE FOR ALL-PARTY FORUM. Snegur, speaking before his departure to Germany, said he supports the Social Progress Party's initiative for a forum composed of all political forces in the country, including the Gagauz and Dniester region, to overcome the country's political crisis, Moldovan and international agencies reported on 10-11 October. He proposed the forum be organized under presidential patronage. A memorandum of conciliation signed by such a large-scale gathering would be a "true accord" between all parts of the society, Snegur concluded. -- Matyas Szabo HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT CONCLUDES VISIT TO BULGARIA. Arpad Goncz, on the last day of his visit to Bulgaria, addressed the Bulgarian parliament, international media reported. He was applauded by the opposition when he stated Hungary's wish to join both EU and NATO. During talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Goncz discussed the possibility of future regional cooperation between the two countries within the Central European Initiative and CEFTA. Videnov emphasized that Bulgaria will do everything in order to be eligible for CEFTA membership, including paying back the 86 million transferable ruble debt to Hungary as soon as possible, partly in a barter deal for Bulgarian medicines. Prior to joining CEFTA, however, Bulgaria wants to conclude a bilateral free trade agreement with Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi and Stefan Krause WESTERN ENERGY FOR BULGARIA? Western ambassadors to Bulgaria on 11 October asked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev to examine the possibility of shutting down Reactor No. 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in return for electricity from the West, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. According to Reuters, French Industry Minister Yves Galland told the National Assembly in Paris that France had made such a proposal to Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, the current EU president; President of the European Commission Jacques Santer; and the German government. Galland said that existing connections make such a transfer possible. -- Stefan Krause FIRST ARREST AFTER PASSAGE OF GENOCIDE LAW IN ALBANIA. Shefqet Peci, who was a deputy parliamentary speaker and transport minister under communism, was arrested on 11 October and accused of ordering the murder of 21 villagers from Buzemadhi, near Kukes, in 1944 in his capacity as a partisan army commander. Peci is the first person to be accused under the Law on Genocide, passed on 20 September 1995. Meanwhile, leaders of the Democratic Alliance and the Social Democratic Party agreed to petition the Council of Europe to repeal some articles of the law, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 11 and 12 October. -- Fabian Schmidt [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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