|Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced. - Henry David Thoreau|
No. 218, Part II, 8 November 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 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SERBIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS KARADZIC, MLADIC. While rump Yugoslav leaders have sounded a note of optimism about the possible outcome of the Dayton peace talks, they have refused to take steps to oust indicted war criminals and Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, Ratko Mladic. Reuters on 7 November quoted Montenegrin Premier Milo Djukanovic, on a visit to Washington, as saying that Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic "told me the negotiations are being done in a constructive manner and...they should be ended by the end of this week." Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic told reporters "It's goes well." But Nasa Borba on 8 November stresses that Milosevic remains firm in his conviction that fate of the Bosnian Serb leaders be decided only after a regional peace agreement is reached. U.S. State Department officials have said that Milosevic's position has come close to "endangering" the peace talks but that progress was being made. -- Stan Markotich ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS, NATIONAL DEMOCRATS HOLD RALLIES. Thousands of Ukrainian communists held rallies in several cities on 7 November--the 78th anniversary of the October 1917 revolution--to blame the government's economic reforms for drastically declining living standards, international and Ukrainian media reported. "We will not allow foreign capital to destroy our people," Petro Symonenko, leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine, told a crowd of mainly elderly people in Kiev. Communists in Crimea held a march calling for the restoration of the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, several thousand national democrats gathered in Kiev to remember the victims of communist rule. Les Taniuk, head of the Ukrainian Memorial Society, called 7 November "a black day in our history." He said it was on that day in 1938 that the Soviets executed 300 Ukrainian intellectuals in labor camps on the Solovetsky islands. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS CELEBRATES OCTOBER REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY. Some 9,000 people gathered in Minsk's Independence Square on 7 November to celebrate the 78th anniversary of the October revolution, Belarusian TV reported. The demonstrations were led by the Belarusian Communist Party, the Officer's Union of Minsk, and the neo-Stalinist Movement for Democracy, Social Progress, and Justice. Speakers called for uniting the peoples of the former Soviet republics and urged people to vote for communists and left-wing candidates in the 29 November by-elections. Meanwhile, Russian NTV on 7 November reported that the only military parade in the former Soviet Union took place in the Belarusian town Bobruisk. The local garrison commander, Lt.Gen Kuskovchik, arranged for a march-past by 600 troops. Kuskovchik was in charge of the Soviet forces that launched the crackdown in Vilnius in January 1991. -- Ustina Markus REPATRIATION OF RUSSIANS FROM ESTONIA. Finnish ambassador to Estonia Jaakko Kaurinkoski and Estonian Migration Fund director Andres Kollist signed an agreement in Tallinn on 7 November allocating 10 million Finnish markkas ($2.36 million) to support the voluntary repatriation of Russian military pensioners and their families from Estonia to Russia, ETA reported. Kaurinkoski said that a fifth of the sum would be allocated immediately, with the remainder available later. He noted that almost 3,000 Russian officers have expressed their wish to leave. -- Saulius Girnius FIRST SESSION OF NEW LATVIAN PARLIAMENT. At the opening of the Saeima's fall session on 7 November, President Guntis Ulmanis asked Maris Grinblats, the prime minister candidate of the right of center National Bloc and Latvia's Way coalition, to form the government, BNS reported. Grinblats is facing a difficult task since his coalition and its rival, the National Conciliation Bloc, both have 47 deputies; and NCB candidates won all but one post in the Saeima Presidium. Anatolijs Gorbunovs of Latvia's Way lost the chairmanship of the Saeima to Ilga Kreituse of the Democratic Party Saimnieks by 51 to 49 votes . Alfreds Cepanis of the DPS and Andris Ameriks of the National Harmony Party were elected deputy chairmen. Imants Daudiss of Latvia's Way was reelected secretary by a vote of 51 to 48. Ulmanis probably did not ask the NCB to form the government because he considers its probable candidate for economics minister, Joachim Siegerist, an extremist. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. Solidarity President Marian Krzaklewski on 7 November said he will actively campaign for incumbent President Lech Walesa's re-election on 19 November. The Polish Peasant Party (PSL) has not yet decided whether to support Walesa or his rival, Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) leader Aleksander Kwasniewski. The PSL and SLD are ruling in coalition under SLD's Jozef Oleksy, who has suggested that PSL support for Walesa could endanger the coalition. Kwasniewski, asked by the press to reveal his financial assets, said he would do so if Walesa reveals his income and tax declarations, Polish and international media reported on 8 November. -- Jakub Karpinski WARSAW POLICE CHIEF RESIGNS OVER CAMPAIGN SCANDAL. Warsaw police chief Aleksander Superczynski on 7 November resigned after the weekly Nie revealed he had lent police radio and alarm equipment to Andrzej Pastwa, who was claiming to be "president of the All-Polish Public Committee for Lech Walesa's Presidency." Pastwa, who has twice been sentenced for fraud and recently served a 10-year prison sentence, used the borrowed equipment for private use in his car. Jerzy Gwizdz, the chief of Walesa's electoral staff, denied that such a committee existed, Polish media reported on 8 November. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER WANTS TO SCRAP SOME ECONOMIC MINISTRIES. Vaclav Klaus on 7 November said he would like to get rid of some economic ministries next year. "Privatization is coming to an end," he told Czech Radio, noting that the Czech Republic has a Privatization Ministry, Economics Ministry, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Ministry for Economic Competition (anti-monopoly office). He said that only two or three of these ministries should remain. It is widely expected that the Privatization Ministry will be abolished after next June's elections. Klaus on the weekend also proposed scrapping the Culture Ministry immediately after the elections, but other cabinet members and President Vaclav Havel have expressed reservations about such a move. -- Steve Kettle 'EMINENCE GRISE' BEHIND CZECH RAIDING BANK OWNS UP. The deputy chairman of Agrobanka, the Czech Republic's largest private bank, admitted on 7 November that the bank helped finance a campaign in which the small Plzenska banka spent more than 1 billion koruny ($38.4 million) gaining large stakes in important investment funds (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November 1995). Pavel Janda told reporters that Agrobanka reached an agreement with Plzenska banka after becoming aware that it had bought a significant amount of shares in Agrobanka's own fund. He said Agrobanka will continue to support Plzenska banka's attempts to buy small shareholders' stakes in selected funds, including putting its 350 branch offices at the campaign's disposal. A group of young bankers called Motoinvest, the leading figures in the campaign, said they have reached an agreement to buy out their main rival for control of Plzenska banka, the state insurance firm Ceska Pojistovna. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK GOVERNMENT TO FINANCE NEW DAILY. The cabinet on 7 November approved 15 million koruny in financial support for the creation of an "old-new" daily, Nova Smena mladych, whose goals are promoting national ideals and strengthening Slovak sovereignty, Sme reported. The previous Smena merged with Sme in July. Prime Minister Valdimir Meciar's allies have often complained that only one daily--Slovenska Republika--is loyal to the coalition. The cabinet also approved a bill on the protection of personal information in information systems. In other news, three deputies from the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), including Slovak Information Service (SIS) director Ivan Lexa, are being replaced during the current session because their dual positions contradict the conflict of interests law, which went into effect on 1 November. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BILL ON FOREIGN CURRENCY. The parliament on 7 November passed a bill on foreign currency legislation making the Hungarian forint convertible in all current account transactions beginning 1 January, Hungarian newspapers reported the next day. The new legislation liberalizes foreign currency transactions primarily for individuals rather than entrepreneurs. Although an annual foreign- currency allowance of $800 remains in force, individuals will be able to transfer foreign currency abroad and use their forint-based banking cards around the world--irrespective of their allowance limit. After Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, Hungary is the last of the Visegrad countries to introduce current account convertibility of its currency. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HEAD OF HUNGARIAN PREMIER'S PRESS OFFICE RESIGNS. After six days in office, Henrik Havas has resigned from his post as head of the new Communications and Press Office at the Prime Minister's Office, Hungarian media reported. Havas accused the press of "unobjective" and "overcritical" reporting of the case of Endre Mihalyi, one of his appointees in the office (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 November). He denied responsibility, saying he could not have known that a police investigation against Mihalyi was under way. Prime Minister Gyula Horn said he considers Havas innocent and counts on his future cooperation. All of Havas's staff members have also resigned except for office manager Peter Szegvari, who has been asked to set up a new team by the end of November. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA READY TO FIGHT. Serb-held eastern Slavonia returns to the agenda at the Dayton peace conference following the local Serbs' rejection of the latest proposal by international mediators. AFP on 7 November said that the issue "could become the linchpin of an overall solution to the Balkan crisis." The Serbs wrote UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros Ghali that the proposed plan offered them only the choice of "losing their identity or leaving the region." Reuters reported that the Serbs are still willing to talk, but their demand for a referendum is unacceptable to Zagreb. "The morale of our soldiers is high," Major-General Dusan Loncar, commander of Serbian forces in eastern Slavonia, told a news conference in Vukovar. He added that "no one should be in any doubt about their willingness to fight." Earlier this year, Serbian forces in western Slavonia and in Krajina melted away before advancing Croatian troops. -- Patrick Moore KARADZIC'S "CONTRIBUTION" TO PEACE TALKS? SRNA reported on 7 November that Bosnian Serbs are continuing to hold David Rhode, a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, who investigated the Serbian massacres of Muslim male civilians at Srebrenica. He was charged with illegal entry into Serbian territory and with falsifying documents, but now he is also accused of "the most serious form of espionage," which carries a jail sentence of between three to 15 years. SRNA added, however, that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has received an appeal from Rhode's father and "is considering the possibility of pardoning [the journalist] as a sign of good will and as a contribution to the peace talks in Dayton." Meanwhile, the rift between Karadzic and his military continues. Politika on 8 November reported that a top Bosnian Serb commander, General Manojlo Milovanovic, has publicly called Pale "the only government in history that attacks its own army." -- Patrick Moore UNHCR WORRIES ABOUT PLIGHT OF REFUGEES. A UNHCR spokesman in Sarajevo called the Croatian authorities' "voluntary" return of 11,000 refugees to western and northwestern parts of Bosnia a forcible relocation motivated by political and military reasons, AFP reported on 7 November. Mainly Croats evicted from Serb-held northern Bosnia were resettled to territories recaptured by allied forces in September and October, thus creating "ethnically pure ghettos, which is a total mockery of the commitments to multiethnicity." Accusing the Croatian government of ignoring international criticism about human rights abuses, a draft UN resolution has been amended to warn the Croats, AFP reported the next day. The UNHCR also says that Muslims and Croats recently evicted from their homes around Banja Luka by the Serbs are forced to sleep in the open, despite heavy snow, Reuters reported on 7 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA GETS NEW GOVERNMENT. Croatian and international media on 7 November reported that Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa has announced his new cabinet, which he called "a government of continuity." Foreign Minister Mate Granic and Defense Minister Gojko Susak both keep their jobs. The only changes are at the ministries of the economy, culture, agriculture, and justice, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted the following day. Matesa's predecessor, Nikica Valentic, reportedly resigned mainly for personal reasons. He is credited with bringing down the annual inflation rate from 2,000% to 2%, as well as with doubling the average monthly wage from about DM 250 to DM 500. Croatia has a presidential system of government, and prime ministers have changed fairly frequently under President Franjo Tudjman. -- Patrick Moore ROMANIAN CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES AMENDS EDUCATION LAW. The Chamber of Deputies on 7 November approved several amendments to the education law. Cristian Urse, leader of the Students' League at Bucharest University, told Romanian TV that the amendments do not meet all the students' demands. He said some taxes to which the students object have been retained, campus premises have not been declared out of bounds for police authorities, and their demand for representation on the universities' councils and senates has been rejected. The students, Urse said, are now waiting for the Senate to pass its own version of the amended law. If their demands are not met in that version either, they will resume protest actions, he warned. -- Michael Shafir HUNGARIAN TV BROADCASTS BANNED IN ROMANIA. Hungarian media on 8 November reported that Romania's National Media Council has decided to ban broadcasts by Duna TV, a Hungarian satellite program on cable network. The head of the council told ethnic Hungarian deputy Ferenc Baranyi that no license will be issued to cable television companies "for a certain period of time." He said that according to information received by the council, Duna TV broadcasts create suspicion between ethnic minorities and the majority and are capable of "whipping up artificial tension." -- Zsofia Szilagyi CHINA TO OPEN MARKET TO ROMANIAN PRODUCTS. Hu Jintao, a member of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, has said in Bucharest that China will give priority to the import of Romanian products, Romanian media reported on 7 November. The Chinese delegation was received by Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and President Ion Iliescu. Iliescu said economic ties between the two countries could be further expanded and that bilateral trade could reach some $1 billion per year. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT REPORT. The Moldovan parliament on 7 November approved the government's report on its activities between April 1994 and September 1995, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli said the executive was successful in ensuring macroeconomic stability, improving the tax system, and expanding foreign trade. Over 1,200 enterprises were privatized, together with 70% of state-owned housing, Sangheli said. -- Michael Shafir ETHNIC TURKISH PARTY IN BULGARIA CLAIMS POLICE THREATENED ITS VOTERS. The ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) on 6 November accused the police of threatening its voters in the town of Kardzhali, Standart reported the following day. DPS deputy Remzi Osman said police threatened party members and told them not to be "too active" in the local elections run-off. The DPS candidate in Kardzhali is leading the field after the first round. Police said the accusations are unfounded and that they were only making "routine controls." Meanwhile, five people admitted that they have received money from DPS activists. A DPS spokesman said that the party distributed money to "socially weak families." -- Stefan Krause in Sofia BULGARIAN PRESIDENT COMPLAINS HE WAS CENSORED ON TV. Zhelyu Zhelev said his statement expressing his outrage over the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was censored by state-run TV, 24 chasa reported on 7 November. Zhelev said he made the statement in his capacity as head of state and thus no editor or media chief has the right to cut his statements. The president called the incident "a scandal" and said it was a sign that there is censorship on Bulgarian TV. One minute was cut from Zhelev's three-minute statement. The president has not yet decided whether he will appeal to the Constitutional Court about the matter. -- Stefan Krause in Sofia UPDATE ON ALBANIAN BOMB ATTACK. Nikolle Lesi, chief editor of Koha Jone, who survived a bomb attack on his house in Lezha on 1 November, has met with Attorney-General Alush Dragoshi and Deputy Interior Minister Agim Shehu, Koha Jone reported on 8 November. Dragoshi and Shehu assured Lesi of their determination to speed up the investigation into the attack. Meanwhile, Neritan Ceka, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, discussed with Dragoshi the role of the Prosecutor-General's Office, the secret service, and other state bodies in the upcoming elections. According to Ceka, the discussion focused on the relationship between the state and opposition journalists. -- 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. 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