|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 3, Part II, 4 January 1996
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/Index.html ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ U.S. CALLS ON MILOSEVIC TO RELEASE MUSLIMS. "We're calling for the release of the 16 people who are now being held by the Bosnian Serbs. We're making this known privately to the Bosnian Serb military commanders and we're now making it known privately to [Serbian] President [Slobodan] Milosevic in Belgrade," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Burns said on 3 January. News agencies added that the U.S. embassy in Belgrade would deliver the message to the Serbian leader. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns noted that freedom of movement is crucial to the civilian population and that Washington is "calling upon the Serb leadership in Pale to release these people [and] conform to the Dayton accords." -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF CENSORSHIP. Ukrainian journalists have accused the government of censorship following its decision to take the current affairs program "Pislyamova" off the air on 31 January, Reuters reported on 3 January. "Pislyamova" last week ran a feature on dissension among the president's advisers. Oleksandr Tkachenko, president of the company that produces the program, said an hour before the New Year's Eve broadcast was to be shown, he was "advised" not to run the program in accordance with "orders from above." The Ukrainian Media Club has demanded an investigation into the alleged censorship. Spokesmen for the president and prime minister denied that they had anything to do with taking the program off the air. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH TRADE UNIONS. Belarusian Radio on 3 January reported that the Cabinet of Ministers and the Federation of Trade Unions have reached an agreement on social protection in 1996. The document was signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, head of the Scientific-Industrial Association Mikhail Laurynovich, head of the Union of Employers Uladzimir Karahin, leader of the Union of Employers and Landlords Maks Kunyausky, and head of the Federation of Trade Unions Uladzimir Hancharyk. The agreement raises the minimum wage and also the lowest tax bracket. At the end of 1995, unions were threatening mass protest actions over unpaid wages and delays in pay hikes. However, the agreement was not signed by the Independent Trade Unions of Belarus, which organized transport workers strikes last August, bringing traffic in Minsk to a halt. -- Ustina Markus NEW ESTONIAN COMMANDER OF DEFENSE FORCES. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told a news conference on 2 January that the cabinet unanimously supports President Lennart Meri's choice of Lt. Col. Johannes Kert, commander of the Defense League, as commander-in-chief of the defense forces, ETA reported. The candidacy of acting commander Col. Vello Loemaa was not discussed. The parliament still has to approve his nomination. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA'S BUDGET FOR 1996. Finance Minister Aivars Kreituss said that the 1996 draft budget will be presented to the Saeima in early February, BNS reported on 3 January. The minister predicted that the budget will probably total some 975 million lati ($1.8 billion), an increase of some 200 million lati over the 1994 budget. He said there are no provisions in the budget to compensate depositors in bankrupt banks, noting that a suggested payment of 200 lati to each depositor would cost 26 million lati. The budget cannot be balanced, and the deficit is likely to be 61- 87 million lati. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PREMIER SAYS HE HAS NOT RESIGNED. Contrary to reports by both Lithuanian TV and Diena, Adolfas Slezevicius has not announced his resignation as premier and chairman of the Democratic Labor Party (LDDP), Radio Lithuania reported on 3 January. The reports came in the wake of Slezevicius's withdrawal of personal deposits from the Joint- Stock Innovative Bank two days before the government halted the bank's activities. He said rumors that the litas would be devalued due to the banking crisis are unfounded, since the republic's hard-currency reserves exceed currency in circulation. The LDDP Presidium has issued a statement calling the withdrawal a "moral and political mistake" and supporting Slezevicius's decision to redeposit his money in the bank as soon as possible. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PREMIER ADMITS RUSSIAN CONTACTS BUT CONTINUES TO REJECT SPY ALLEGATIONS. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy has confirmed that Vladimir Alganov, a former KGB representative in Poland, was his neighbor and "good acquaintance." But Oleksy denied once again that he had been a spy, Polish dailies reported on 4 January. The previous day, Polish Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Konieczny and his predecessor, Andrzej Milczanowski, admitted that documents sent by Milczanowski to the Prosecutor's Office to offer evidence against Oleksy were incomplete. Konieczny added that it had been premature to send the documents to the prosecutor. Oleksy and Milczanowski testified on 3 January before a special Sejm commission investigating the case. -- Jakub Karpinski APPOINTMENTS TO POLISH PRESIDENT'S OFFICE. Gazeta Wyborcza on 4 January reported that President Aleksander Kwasniewski has appointed Marek Siwiec and Jerzy Milewski as state secretaries. The former will be a political adviser to the president, while the latter will also head the National Security Office. He also appointed seven undersecretaries of state, including Zbigniew Siemiatkowski (internal affairs) and Krzysztof Janik (local government affairs). Two officials who worked for former President Lech Walesa's office--Szymon Kociszewski (administration) and Andrzej Gliniecki (legal affairs)--will be retained by Kwasniewski. Barbara Labuda, former Freedom Union deputy, will be responsible for social issues. Andrzej Majkowski has been chosen to head the Foreign Affairs Office, and Wojciech Lamentowicz (formerly of the Labor Union) will be Kwasniewski's adviser on foreign affairs. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER'S PLAN REJECTED AGAIN. Czech economic ministers on 2 January rejected a new concept for the Czech military presented by Defense Minister Vilem Holan, Radio Prague reported the following day. It was the second concept the minister has proposed. His previous plan was turned down last November because Holan did not provide cost figures. He wants to cut 15,000 men, leaving 50,000 in the armed forces. The report said that Holan this time had said how much the plan would cost, but it was apparently rejected because "some parts of the new document were descriptive rather than analytical." -- Doug Clarke OPINION POLL INDICATES REFERENDUM TO DISMISS SLOVAK PRESIDENT WOULD FAIL. An opinion poll conducted by the FOCUS agency in December showed that President Michal Kovac would survive a referendum to remove him from office, Narodna obroda reported on 4 January. A total of 26.1% of respondents said they would vote for Kovac's dismissal, while 46.3% said they would oppose it; 21.8% said they would not participate and 5.8% were undecided. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has several times called for a referendum to dismiss the president. Kovac's dismissal was supported mostly by followers of Meciar's party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia; 71% of that party's supporters said they would be in favor of dismissing him. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON ASKS CABINET TO HAVE HIM EXTRADITED. Michal Kovac Jr. on 3 January appealed to the Slovak government to have him returned to Slovakia, Praca reported. Kovac Jr. has been in Austria since August, when he was abducted and subsequently arrested on fraud charges involving the Slovak firm Technopol. Austrian authorities are still deciding whether to return him to Slovakia or to turn him over to Germany, where an international warrant for his arrest was issued in November 1994. Shortly after his son's abduction, President Michal Kovac asked the government to have Kovac Jr. returned to Slovakia, but the cabinet refused, saying it could do so only if charges were brought against him in Slovakia. Kovac Jr. argued that because such charges were filed on 27 December, there is no longer any reason to keep him in Austria. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S IMMIGRATION OFFICE OPPOSES ASYLUM FOR MORE REFUGEES. The Office of Refugees and Migration Affairs on 3 January advised the government not to accept any more asylum seekers from the Balkans, Hungarian media reported. Bela Jungbert, head of the office, said that "since there is no war, the status does not make sense any longer." But he added that those seeking political refugee status would not be affected. Jungbert noted that as of 1 January 1996, Austria and Germany stopped accepting asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia. Between 1991 and 1995, some 75,000 refugees sought temporary asylum in Hungary; 8,500 are currently still in Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE END TO MUSLIM CRISIS IN SIGHT? The crisis over the Muslims held by Bosnian Serbs has developed into a Serbian test of NATO's will. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the matter was "a harsh blow . . . [but] we are prepared to tackle highs and lows." Bosnian government minister Hasan Muratovic told Reuters on 4 January that he is satisfied that NATO is taking things seriously after he received a letter from IFOR's commander, Admiral Leighton Smith. Nasa Borba noted that Bosnian officials were using terms like "pure terrorism" to refer to the incident. On 4 January, three of the detainees were released and Belgrade's Radio Politika reported from Pale that all 16 would be freed. The BBC said, however, that the Bosnian Serbs wanted to treat the Muslims as prisoners of war and exchange them for Serbs later. -- Patrick Moore PERRY ON NATO IN BOSNIA. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, speaking in Sarajevo on 4 January, said the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia will not act as a "police force." He was responding to Bosnian government complaints that NATO is not doing enough to protect Muslim civilians. Perry said that while NATO has the responsibility to ensure freedom of movement, he felt that the issue of the Muslims held by Bosnian Serbs would be better handled by the international UN civilian police force, which is expected to arrive in Bosnia later this month. He added that in the meantime, NATO "will do what it can to assist." -- Michael Mihalka ITALIAN SOLDIER WOUNDED IN SERBIAN SUBURB. News agencies reported on 4 January that an Italian man was involved in what might be the first deliberate attack on NATO troops. The incident took place before 5:00 a.m. in Vogosca. Meanwhile in Mostar, the UNHCR suspended its convoys after local Croatian officials tried to impose a tax of 50 kuna ($10) per truck. The Herzegovinian Croats have been notorious for such activities in the past, and the incident serves to recall that de facto check-points continue to exist, including in Sarajevo. During the night of 3-4 January, Muslims in Mostar attacked Croatian vehicles, but Hina said nobody was injured. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman arrived in Sarajevo on 4 January for brief talks with Bosnian leaders. Finally, Nasa Borba reported that telephone links have been restored between Sarajevo and Belgrade after a break of over three years. -- Patrick Moore MONTENEGRIN POLITICIAN ON "REAL WAR HEROES." Nasa Borba on 4 January reported that Srdjan Darmanovic, vice president of the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, has come out strongly in favor of legislation granting an amnesty to all those who fled the former Yugoslavia to avoid serving in the Balkan conflicts. "We believe that the youth who fled in the wake of mobilization [campaigns] are the real war heroes . . . and not those who actually participated in this filthy war. . . . These were the people who were right not to want to fight in a senseless conflict," Darmanovic said. He added that any objectors wishing to return should be encouraged to do so. -- Stan Markotich OSCE TALKS ON ARMS CONTROL BEGIN. OSCE talks on arms control and confidence-building measures got under way in Vienna on 4 January, international agencies reported. The negotiations fulfill requirements laid down in the Dayton peace accords. Hungary's Istvan Gyarmati is chairing the talks on confidence-building measures, which are scheduled to finish on 26 January. Vigleik Eide from Norway is presiding over the talks on arms control, to be completed no later than 6 June. At a news conference in Vienna on 3 January, Gyarmati said the first aim of the confidence-building talks is to exchange military data and set up military liaisons between the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-Croatian federation. He added that this task would prove "politically and psychologically difficult." -- Michael Mihalka ROMANIA REJECTS DNIESTER REFERENDUM. Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sorin Ducaru on 3 January rejected a referendum supporting the creation of an independent state in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported. According to Ducaru, the "pseudo- elections" and the 24 December referendum were staged by "illegitimate authorities" and contravened the Moldovan constitution. The spokesman added that Romania backed Moldova's territorial integrity and would continue to participate in the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu SECURITATE FILE ON ROMANIAN SECRET SERVICE HEAD PUBLISHED IN NEWSPAPER. Evenimentul zilei on 4 January continued to publish excerpts from the Securitate file on Virgil Magureanu, head of the Romanian Intelligence Service. The file, which was put at the daily's disposal by Magureanu, shows that he was recruited as a Securitate "resident" in the Banat region in 1963 and put in charge of supervising local informers. One year later, he was dismissed for "inefficient work." Adevarul warned that Magureanu was about to "open a Pandora's box" in a country where ordinary citizens are still denied access to their Securitate files. Meanwhile, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party, announced he would publish Magureanu's complete file, which, he said, showed that Magureanu continued to work for the Securitate after 1964. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PRESIDENTIAL ACCUSATIONS. The Moldovan parliament has rejected recent accusations by President Mircea Snegur that the parliament and its chairman, Petru Lucinschi, have attempted to block talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol aimed at restoring Moldova's territorial integrity, BASA-press reported on 2 January. The parliament noted in a statement that it is not true that Lucinschi failed "to react adequately to the unconstitutional [24 December] elections in Transdniestria." In late December, Snegur described as "irresponsible" Lucinschi's appeal to the Dniester population to support "conciliatory forces" in the region. Local media argue that both Snegur and Lucinschi are trying to make political capital out of the Dniester crisis in anticipation of the December 1996 presidential elections. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN SOCIALIST QUARRELS CONTINUE . . . Political differences within the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) have become increasingly apparent, with Bulgarian newspapers on 4 January publishing statements by BSP leaders criticizing Zhan Videnov's government. BSP Deputy Chairman Georgi Parvanov, in an interview with 24 chasa, called on Videnov to reshuffle his cabinet and replace some of his advisers, but he declined to name anyone. Standart reported that the reformist Alliance for Social Democracy (OSD) within the BSP has demanded the resignation of Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba because of the ongoing grain shortage. The daily quotes OSD member Chavdar Kyuranov as saying "there are objective preconditions for corruption because of the concentration of economic power around the prime minister." -- Stefan Krause . . . WHILE OPPOSITION WANTS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE. Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) caucus leader Yordan Sokolov has said his faction will introduce a no confidence motion on 5 January because of the government's failure to deal with the grain crisis. Demokratsiya quoted Sokolov as saying the SDS motion will ask for a no confidence vote in the cabinet as a whole, not just in Prime Minister Zhan Videnov or in individual ministers. The motion will be discussed in the parliament on 12 January, and the vote will most likely take place on 17 January, 24 chasa reported. The daily also said that the no confidence vote will be supported by all opposition parties. Meanwhile, Zemya, citing unnamed sources, reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Kiril Tsochev will hand in his resignation on 17 January. Tsochev opposes the government's decision to extend the export ban for grain until the end of 1996. -- Stefan Krause COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION IN ALBANIA. A delegation of members of the Council of Europe's Legal Affairs and Human Rights Commission and Political Commission arrived in Albania on 3 January. Gazeta Shqiptare reported. They met with representatives of political parties and the speaker of the parliament. They are expected to hold talks with the mass media, the prosecutor-general, and members of the Lawyers' Association. A meeting with President Sali Berisha is also scheduled. Meanwhile, Reuters reported on 4 January that Berisha will visit China from 16-19 January following an invitation by Chinese President Jiang Zemin. -- Fabian Schmidt REPLACEMENT OF GREEK PREMIER IMMINENT. Leaders of the governing Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) have publicly called for Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's replacement, Reuters and AFP reported. PASOK Secretary-General Kostas Skandalidis on 3 January said the party will start the procedure to replace Papandreou, who has been in hospital for seven weeks. Skandalidis said a PASOK Central Committee meeting scheduled for 20 January will find a solution to the "political problem caused by [Papandreou's] illness." The decision was taken at an eight- hour meeting of PASOK's Executive Bureau, the party's highest political body. Following the meeting, leading PASOK members declared an "acute political crisis." Meanwhile, the latest medical bulletin on 3 January said a "kidney biopsy showed extensive damage." -- 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. 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