|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 204, Part II, 19 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, 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 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ JOURNALISTS: A directory of OMRI analysts covering Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is now available. You can access it from OMRI's World Wide Web page (http://www.omri.cz/SD/SDIntro.html) or request a hard copy by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE JOINS COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Ukraine on 18 October was formally accepted into the Council of Europe, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A ceremony marking its admission will be held in Strasbourg on 9 November. Ukraine announced on 17 October that it will strike the death penalty from its penal code in order to fulfill Council of Europe norms. The suspension of capital punishment has met with opposition from some quarters. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS WANT REFERENDUM ON RUSSIA. The Ukrainian Communist Party has joined initiative groups that want a referendum on Ukraine's relations with Russia, Russian Public TV reported on 18 October. The initiative groups must gather 3 million signatures to hold such a referendum. The communists want the referendum also to address the issue of national symbols, the status of the Russian language, and establishing a union within the framework of the CIS. Meanwhile, a new parliamentary faction called Union has been formed by 34 deputies whose aim is to unite Russia and Ukraine. Nationalist deputies in the parliament have asked the prosecutor-general's office to consider Union in the same light as extremists and other anti-state groups. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FORMS COMMISSION TO MONITOR PAYMENTS CRISIS. Leonid Kuchma has formed a special commission to monitor the country's growing payments crisis, UNIAR reported on 18 October. He appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko as chairman. Lazarenko told reporters that government ministries and agencies have only a vague idea of the real state of inter-enterprise and bank indebtedness. The government has instructed the Statistics Ministry to monitor the debts of 150,000 state organizations and firms. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UPDATE ON ZVYAHILSKYI CASE. A special commission of the Ukrainian parliament has concluded that former Prosecutor-General Vladyslav Datsiuk misled the legislature about the ongoing criminal investigation into former acting Prime Minister Yukhym Zvyahilskyi, UNIAN reported on 17 October. Following a meeting with Zvyahilskyi in Israel last week, commission members concluded that Datsiuk's request that lawmakers strip Zvyahilskyi of his parliamentary immunity was "not sufficiently justified and contained prejudicial information." Zvyahilskyi is accused of selling jet fuel while he was acting premier during the Leonid Kravchuk's presidency. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN DELEGATION IN IRAQ. The Iraqi News Agency on 18 October reported that a Belarusian delegation was in Iraq discussing improving ties between the two countries. The delegation was led by Uladzimir Malteen from the president's office. Malteen reportedly congratulated Saddam Hussein on his recent referendum victory and said it "represented a victory for Iraq and justice." The referendum has been criticized by Western officials as a sham. -- Ustina Markus LITHUANIAN PEACEKEEPING MISSION RETURNS HOME. The Lithuanian platoon Litplat-3, which was serving as part of the Danish UN peacekeeping battalion in Croatia, returned to Lithuania on 17 October, Radio Lithuania reported. The platoon's scheduled six-month tour was terminated by a UN decision to withdraw the Danish forces. Povilas Malakauskas of the Foreign Ministry International Relations Department said he decision to send the platoon to Lithuania rather than Denmark suggested it will not be reassigned to another peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISAGREE OVER FOREIGN MINISTER. Lech Walesa on 18 October threw his support behind Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, who is involved in a dispute with Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy over ambassadorial nominations. According to the foreign minister, recent nominations have been blocked by the premier (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 October 1995). Walesa demanded an end to practices that prevent the foreign minister from performing his legal duties. A government's spokesperson said the prime minister accepted 12 out of Bartoszewski's 16 nominations, Polish dailies reported on 19 October. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH ELECTION UPDATE. Solidarity's National Commission on 18 October voted to support Walesa in the presidential elections, scheduled for 5 November, after delegates to the Solidarity national congress backed the incumbent president. Walesa received 62% of the delegates' votes; former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski 23%; and Central Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz 10%. Meanwhile, the parliament's Constitutional Commission has made provisions in the draft constitution for a three- tier system of territorial administration. Since 1975, Poland has had only a two-tier system, providing for counties and provinces, Polish dailies reported on 19 October. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES HAVEL'S VETO. The Czech parliament on 18 October approved for the second time extending the screening or so- called lustration law, which bans former police agents and high communist officials from public office. Deputies last month voted to extend the screening law to 2000, but President Vaclav Havel vetoed it on 6 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1995), arguing that an extension was premature since the law does not expire until the end of 1996. In his opinion, the lustration law was a protective measure during revolutionary times and extending it could be seen to indicate that the Czech Republic is unable to create a system based on the rule of law. -- Jiri Pehe FORMER CZECH PRIVATIZATION HEAD SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS. Jaroslav Lizner, former head of the Czech Republic's Center for Voucher Privatization, on 18 October was sentenced to seven years in prison by a Prague district court after being found guilty of accepting bribes and abuse of public office. Lizner was arrested in summer 1994 when he accepted an 8 million koruny ($296,000) bribe to pass on important economic information to a Czech company. In addition to the prison sentence, Lizner was fined 1 million koruny ($37,000) and banned from holding public office for 10 years. -- Jiri Pehe ROMA BANNED FROM MORAVIAN SWIMMING BATHS. A worker at the swimming baths in Vsetin, Moravia, told reporters that Roma are not admitted for "hygienic reasons" Zemedelske Noviny reported on 18 October. He cited a town document justifying the prohibition, but the Vestin deputy mayor said no such document existed, while adding he is in favor of a "stronger attitude" toward Roma. The director of the baths denied that bath regulations mentioned Roma, saying only "dirty, ill, or lice- infested people" were barred. He claimed that in the summer, Roma jump the fence surrounding the baths and bathe in their clothes. He did not mention whether other locals do the same. A Vsetin restaurant also recently announced that it will not serve Roma, even though such racial discrimination breaches Czech law on consumer protection. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES REUTERS REPORT. Juraj Schenk, continuing his visit to Britain on 18 October, denied a Reuters report the previous day that Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind had issued a warning to Slovakia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 October 1995). Speaking on Slovak Radio, Schenk said the British side expressed interest in "the completion of the process of democratization in Slovakia. What they said, however, was clear in the sense that they support our efforts toward integration," Pravda reported him as saying. -- Sharon Fisher BLEAK OUTLOOK FOR SLOVAK ENTREPRENEURS. Meeting with President Michal Kovac on 18 October, Union of Businessmen, Entrepreneurs, and Farmers (UZPR) Chairman Pavol Prokopovec expressed fear that small and medium- sized businesses could disappear in Slovakia. He pointed out that some 65,000 small entrepreneurs have already returned their licenses. Prokopovec expressed support for Kovac "as the representative of democracy in Slovakia," TASR reported on 18 October. In a surprising move, the UZPR's rival--the Party of Businessmen and Entrepreneurs (SPZ)--on 11 October signed a cooperation agreement with the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS SERIOUSLY DIVIDED. Hungary's ruling Socialist Party is deeply divided one month before a crucial party congress in late November, Reuters and Hungarian newspapers reported on 18 October. A slump in the party's popularity, divisions over economic policy, and mounting dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Gyula Horn's governing style are expected to make that meeting particularly explosive. Party sources say Horn's position as party chairman is unlikely to come under threat at the congress, but they suggest the controversial government austerity package may have to be softened. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HEAD OF LARGEST HUNGARIAN TRADE UNION FEDERATION QUITS. Sandor Nagy, head of MSZOSZ, the country's largest trade union federation, officially resigned from his post on 18 October, Hungarian newspapers and AFP reported the next day. He told a news conference that MSZOSZ is generally disappointed with the socialist-led government because it does not stand up for leftist values. However, observers say that Nagy's resignation was prompted by growing criticism among union activists that Nagy, who is also an MSZP deputy, does not represent union interests well enough. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC SAYS FRENCH AIRMEN "KIDNAPPED . . ." Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told reporters on 18 October that the two French pilots shot down on 30 August have been kidnapped by unknown men. The pilots were allegedly undergoing medical treatment for injuries sustained in the crash when the mysterious abductors arrived. Karadzic suggested the kidnappers might be Muslims but did not indicate how a Muslim band might have gotten through what was presumably a tight security net. He also promised an investigation. The VOA on 19 October said it was the first admission by the Bosnian Serbs that they held the pilots. -- Patrick Moore . . . BUT FRANCE CALLS HIS STATEMENT "GROTESQUE." Liberation reported on 19 October that the issue of the airmen had been at the top of the agenda of Foreign Minister Herve de Charette when he arrived in Belgrade the previous day. The paper quoted unnamed French officials as saying that they felt that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic "knows nothing about the fate of the pilots and that is rather disturbing." Another called Karadzic's story "grotesque," adding that "either the two pilots are dead and Karadzic does not want to say, or they are mocking us." -- Patrick Moore KARADZIC CALLS TERRITORIAL MAP THE MAIN ISSUE. Nasa Borba on 19 October quoted the Bosnian Serb leader as again stressing that "the map" remains the key question for a future settlement. He added that Pale's ties to Belgrade have been "normalized" and that his own relations with Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic are "good." The Daily Telegraph quoted Karadzic as rejecting any claims that territorial gains by the allied armies in recent months mean that the Serbs will get less than the 49% of the republic's territory specified in the current partition plan. "We won't accept the result of this aggression," he declared in Banja Luka. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung stated that Bosnian Croat forces hold 30.6% of the total land area and government troops 21%. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERBS CONTINUE TO ARREST FOREIGN JOURNALISTS. UNPROFOR officials in Sarajevo have confirmed that in addition to two Turkish journalists captured by Bosnian Serbs on 13 October and kept in a military prison near Sarajevo, Bosnian Serb police have detained one British and two American journalists at Pale, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 19 October. Negotiations on their release have already started through the mediation of UNPROFOR and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Serbs have made the Turkish journalists' release conditional on the freeing of two Serbian journalists held by Bosnian government forces. But according to SRNA, the Serbian journalists have been killed in prison, BETA reported on 19 October. No independent sources have confirmed this story. Meanwhile, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke told Oslobodjenje that Sarajevo should not become a new divided Berlin, while the BBC on 19 October quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying that Sarajevo must remain undivided. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUMP YUGOSLAVIA, BOSNIA TO OPEN LIAISON OFFICES. Nasa Borba on 19 October reported that U.S. envoy Holbrooke announced in Sarajevo that Bosnia and rump Yugoslavia have agreed to open "liaison offices" in each other's capital. The announcement comes in the wake of Holbrooke's talks in Sarajevo with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and in Belgrade with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Holbrooke described this latest move as "a small step" toward improving ties between the two countries, which have had no official relations since war broke out in Bosnia in 1991. Belgrade has a similar "liaison" with Zagreb, but the arrangement has failed to produce any diplomatic breakthroughs. -- Stan Markotich RUMP YUGOSLAV ARMY TESTS COMBAT PREPAREDNESS. Tanjug on 17 October reported that the Yugoslav Army General Staff issued a statement acknowledging that the Novi Sad Corps, based in Serbia's northern Vojvodina province, was holding maneuvers to test combat readiness. Reportedly involved in the exercise were infantry, mechanized, air, and maritime (river) units. Tanjug said troops were "well-trained" and "highly motivated." -- Stan Markotich NATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR THE LIBERATION OF KOSOVO CALLS FOR RESISTANCE. According to Gazeta Shqiptare on 19 October, the National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo in its publication Clirimi has called for an armed uprising to gain independence and to end the current deadlock. The movement, however, is rather isolated within the Kosovar political scene and does not represent the majority of Kosovar Albanians, who support the policy of peaceful resistance pursued by shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova. -- Fabian Schmidt MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT TO LEAVE HOSPITAL "VERY SOON." Medical sources in Skopje were quoted by AFP on 18 October as saying that Kiro Gligorov will be able to leave hospital "very soon." Gligorov, who was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt on 3 October, is still undergoing treatment, but doctors say his "condition has been fine for several days." Gligorov is scheduled to have talks with outgoing UN Special Envoy for the former Yugoslavia Yasushi Akashi on 18 October at the hospital. Meanwhile, delegations from Macedonia and Greece are continuing their talks in Athens on the opening of liaison offices in each other's capitals. -- Stefan Krause HUNGARIAN PREMIER IN CROATIA. Gyula Horn, during an official visit to Zagreb on 18 October, met with President Franjo Tudjman and Prime Minister Nikica Valentic, Croatian and Hungarian newspapers reported the next day. The two premiers said after their meeting that discussion focused on the current situation in the region, with special attention given to bilateral economic relations. Horn said Hungary is willing to participate in the reconstruction of the Croatian and Bosnian economies by offering assistance worth $1 billion. -- Zsofia Szilagyi ROMANIAN STUDENTS CONTINUE TO PROTEST FEES. Students on 18 October continued to stage protests in Bucharest and other cities to oppose official plans to implement university fees, Romanian media reported. Education Minister Liviu Maior defended the new fees, saying they applied only to students who fail to take their exams and have to repeat the year. But student leader Cristian Urse claimed that the authorities were intending to introduce "various" charges. A student delegation was later received by Maior and other ministers, and Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu spoke briefly to student leaders. The two sides signed a protocol aimed at paving the way for a compromise. But Radio Bucharest later quoted Urse as saying that the protests would continue, since the government is trying "to throw dust in the students' eyes." -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN STUDENTS RESUME PROTESTS. More than 8,000 students and teachers on 18 October marched through Chisinau to protest official cultural policies and deteriorating living conditions, BASA-press and Infotag reported. The demonstration marked the resumption of a wave of students protests and strikes in the spring that sparked a political crisis in Moldova. Professor Anatol Petrencu, head of the republican strike committee, stated that the main goal of the protest action was to force the government to resign. He also said the students continued to insist that the official language be renamed Romanian (instead of "Moldovan") and that the "history of the Romanians" be taught in schools and universities. The organizers said the protests would continue. -- Dan Ionescu SUSPECT CHARGED WITH MURDER OF FORMER BULGARIAN DEPUTY MINISTER. Plamen Mironov, director of the insurance company "BG-Plan," was arrested on 17 October and charged with the murder of former Deputy Education Minister Lambo Kyuchukov, Demokratsiya reported on 19 October. Bogdan Karayotov of the National Investigation Agency confirmed that proceedings against Mironov have started but gave no details about the motive or the evidence. Kyuchukov was killed on 7 July near Sofia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 July 1995), two hours after meeting with Mironov. Demokratsiya reports that he had signed a cooperation contract with "BG- Plan" and tried to convince the Education Ministry to become a client of the company. Mironov's lawyer said there is no evidence against his client and demanded that he be released. -- Stefan Krause [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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