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No. 4, Part I, 5 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SARAJEVO ABDUCTIONS IMBROGLIO CONTINUES. International media on 4 January reported that Bosnian Serbs released the 16 Muslims they had been holding in Ilidza. The first three men freed said they had been held in a converted toilet and kicked and beaten. The BBC added that some of the 16 blamed IFOR for leaving them in the lurch. AFP noted that the Serbs appear to have achieved at least one thing; namely, intimidating other Muslims into not entering their territory despite the Dayton agreement's stipulations on freedom of movement. Civilian affairs coordinator Carl Bildt held talks with the Serbs on the evening of 3 January. The BBC on 5 January quoted a Bosnian official as saying that three more persons have been captured and held by the Serbs. AFP said they were a Croat, a Muslim, and a Serb. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PERRY, GRACHEV IN KIEV. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev arrived in Ukraine on 3 January for talks with their Ukrainian counterpart, Valerii Shmarov, international agencies reported the following day. The three leaders held bilateral meetings among themselves and later met with President Leonid Kuchma. Perry and Shmarov signed an agreement on closer military cooperation with Ukraine. Grachev proposed that Russia and Ukraine prolong the period of joint control over the Black Sea Fleet, which expired at the beginning of the year. He said that the removal of nuclear weapons was proceeding according to plan, with only 26% of Ukraine's original nuclear warheads still in the country. Speaking to officers at a Ukrainian military college on 3 January, Grachev warned that Russians would be "obliged to re-examine our views on the role and place of tactical nuclear weapons [and] review our treaty obligations in the military sphere" should NATO expand into Eastern Europe. -- Ustina Markus and Doug Clarke MONETARY REFORM IN UKRAINE. Presidential adviser Volodymyr Kuznetsov has said monetary reform may take place in Ukraine this year, Radio Mayak reported on 4 January. Kuznetsov went on to say that the new national currency, the hryvna, will not be introduced until inflation falls between 40-50% annually. He also said that Ukrainian citizens will receive one hryvna for 10,000 or 100,000 karbovantsy. The largest denomination will be a 200 hryvna bill. Due to inflation, Ukraine has been printing karbovantsy bills as large as 1 million. -- Ustina Markus PROTEST OVER BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S PRESSURE ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CHIEF. The newspaper Zvyazda on 4 January published an open letter from 135 of the 198 newly elected deputies protesting Alyaksandr Lukashenka's pressure on Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Valerii Tikhinya to resign, Radio Rossii reported. The deputies wrote that the president did not have the right to dismiss judges. Among those who signed the letter were deputies from the communist and agrarian parties, the democratic caucus, and many independents. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Raul Malk on 4 January said Russia has not yet supplied updated lists of its retired military in Estonia, as required by the agreements signed in July 1994, ETA reported. Lists supplied by Russia in 1994 contained the names of 10,517 retired officers, of whom only 1,600 were under 50. A Russian embassy official in Tallinn said the updated list will soon be given to Estonia and will contain the names of about 9,000 officers; about 1,000 have emigrated since the last list appeared. Malk also noted that the date for exchanging ratification letters on the July 1994 agreements is unclear since he has not received notification that President Boris Yeltsin has signed the law on ratification passed by the Russian parliament. -- Saulius Girnius NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST BANK OF LITHUANIA CHAIRMAN. Gediminas Kirkilas, chairman of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) caucus, on 4 January said LDDP deputies will support the party's no- confidence motion against Kazys Ratkevicius, BNS reported. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, who had said earlier that he would try to convince the caucus not to remove Ratkevicius, refused to comment on Kirkilas's statement. But he added that the Bank of Lithuania "did not do its job of surveillance [of commercial banks] properly." Opposition parties have not yet decided how they will vote on the no-confidence motion. -- Saulius Girnius PARLIAMENTARY HEARINGS ON OLEKSY AFFAIR. High-ranking Polish intelligence and counter-intelligence representatives--including Marian Zacharski, the communist spy who was caught and sentenced in the U.S. in the 1980s-- on 4 January testified to a special Sejm commission investigating spy allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. Wiktor Fonfara, head of the Internal Affairs Ministry investigation department, said ministry documents on Oleksy are "fully credible" and were compiled during an investigation into the "foreign spy network," Polish dailies reported on 5 January. Meanwhile, Polish counter- intelligence chief Col. Konstanty Miodowicz, who also testified before the Sejm commission, told the press on 4 January that he resigned two days earlier as "a result of very disadvantageous changes" in the Internal Affairs Ministry. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH OPPOSITION DEPUTIES REQUEST REMOVAL OF PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. Deputies from the Freedom Union have appealed to the Sejm's Legal Commission to have the prime minister remove Prosecutor-General and Minister of Justice Jerzy Jaskiernia. The deputies cited the dismissals of two prosecutors who had wanted to launch an inquiry into President Aleksander Kwasniewski for concealing his wife's shares in the Polisa insurance company. Deputies from the Democratic Left Alliance and the Polish Peasant Party say they back Jaskiernia, Polish dailies reported on 5 January. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECHS, SLOVAKS MAKE BORDER CHANGES. Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml and his Slovak counterpart, Ludovit Hudek, on 4 January signed a treaty redefining the border between their countries, Czech media reported. If ratified by both parliaments, the previous border will be reduced by 33 kilometers to 252 kilometers and 452 hectares of land will be exchanged. Residents of a community in the Czech Republic that will become part of Slovakia under the treaty have protested to the Czech Constitutional Court that the transfer breaches the law on human rights. Ruml said the residents will be compensated for moving house. The new border will also run through a popular skiing area. Local police told Czech Television they will take action against skiers who inadvertently cross the border. -- Steve Kettle DEPUTY BLAMES CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER FOR REBUFF. First Deputy Defense Minister Petr Necas on 3 January said that Defense Minister Vilem Holan failed to consult with his aides before submitting the text of a new defense policy to the government, Prague Radio reported the next day. Holan's plan was rejected as not being analytical enough. Necas, a member of the ruling Civic Democratic Party, admitted that he had met with Premier Vaclav Klaus after the cabinet meeting but refused to present his own alternative. -- Doug Clarke UPDATE ON CASE OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. Slovak Prosecutor-General Michal Valo on 4 January confirmed that fraud charges were brought against Michal Kovac Jr. and two others on 27 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 January 1996). Those charged are suspected of embezzling $2.3 million paid in advance by the Slovak firm Technopol for goods that were never delivered. Kovac Jr.'s lawyer noted that his client "definitely wants to stay in Slovakia while prosecuted." Valo said Kovac Jr. could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty. A poll carried out by FOCUS in December showed that 55.7% of the population believe that Kovac Jr.'s kidnapping was probably organized to weaken the position of his father; 25.6% did not believe this was the case and 18.7% were undecided. Only 10% thought Kovac Jr. organized the abduction himself, Narodna obroda reported on 5 January. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PREMIER SEES HIMSELF IN GOOD COMPANY. Vladimir Meciar, during a rally of some 2,500 Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) supporters on 4 January, discussed the honorary doctorate that he recently received from Moscow's Lomonosovov University. "In more than 200 years, the university has awarded honorary degrees to 162 people. The first was Goethe, the 161st was Clinton, and the 162nd was me," Meciar noted. -- Sharon Fisher OPPOSITION PARTY ASKS HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT TO VETO MEDIA BILL. Jozsef Torgyan, president of the Independent Smallholders' Party, told a news conference on 4 January that President Arpad Goncz should not sign the media bill, Hungarian newspapers reported. Torgyan said several provisions are unconstitutional and violate the present multiparty parliamentary democracy. Following a six-year debate, the bill brings Hungarian media legislation in line with Western norms. A six-party consensus on the bill was reached, but the Smallholders opposed it during the parliamentary debate. The bill was nonetheless passed on 21 December, with the support of a large majority of deputies. -- Zsofia Szilagyi NEW HIGHWAY OPENED IN HUNGARY. Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 4 January opened Hungary's first toll highway, which links the Western town of Gyor with Hegyeshalom on the Austrian border, Hungarian media reported. The travel time between Budapest and Vienna has effectively been cut by 20 minutes. Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Slovak Transport Minister Alexander Rezes attended the opening ceremony. The 43-kilometer highway reportedly cost 37 billion forints ($264 million) to complete and is the most expensive in Europe to use, with passenger cars paying 900 forints ($6-7) for a one-way fare. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIA, BOSNIA SIGN PACT. Presidents Franjo Tudjman and Alia Izetbegovic signed a cooperation agreement in Sarajevo on 4 January, Hina reported. The Bosnian leader said the meeting was at times "loud and polemical but certainly very useful." Tudjman added that "there is no more opposition but there are still problems to be solved." A joint cooperation council was set up and will meet in a month to iron out some remaining problems. Croatian-Muslim relations remain tense in Mostar, however. AFP said on 5 January that two Muslim policemen were wounded when their car was sprayed with machine gun fire from the Croatian sector of the divided town. -- Patrick Moore UNHCR RESUMES AID CONVOYS. UN relief officials have returned to their mission in central Bosnia after Herzegovinian Croat officials agreed not to try to tax their vehicles, Reuters reported on 5 January. International media added that both President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II plan to visit Bosnia soon. Nasa Borba on 4 January wondered what the Americans will do about investigating the reported massacre of 6,000 Muslims by the Serbs in Srebrenica, which is in the U.S. sector. British media said that the U.S. military have yet to arrive in Srebrenica and are less than enthusiastic in becoming involved in what they regard as a political issue. -- Patrick Moore VOJVODINA HUNGARIANS SUPPORT AMNESTY. Nasa Borba on 5 January reported that Andras Agoston, leader of the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina, has pledged he and his party will back proposed federal legislation offering an amnesty to individuals who fled the country rather than fight in the wars throughout the former Yugoslavia. The previous day, the daily had reported that Srdjan Darmanovic, vice president of the Social Democratic party of Montenegro, had endorsed such legislation, saying conscientious objectors were "not deserters, but the genuine patriots." -- Stan Markotich ROCKY START TO OSCE ARMS CONTROL TALKS. Scheduled to begin on 4 January, the OSCE arms control talks in Vienna did not get under way until 5 January after a disagreement over how the participatants were to be designated, international media reported. The BBC reported that the Bosnians objected to the nameplate given to the Bosnian Serbs, which, they said, implied that the Serbs were a separate polity and not part of a common Bosnian state. Vigleik Eide, who is chairing the talks, found a solution acceptable to the five parties (rump Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Muslim-Croatian federation, and the Republika Srpska) by designating each as a representative to the "negotiations among the parties to the Dayton agreement Annex 1b, Article 4." VOA's Croatian Service quoted the Croatian ambassador to the OSCE as noting that the Bosnian Serbs could not be put on the same diplomatic level as the internationally recognized Bosnian government. -- Michael Mihalka and Patrick Moore MACEDONIA, TAJIKISTAN ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. The Macedonian and Tajik ambassadors to Turkey on 4 January signed a protocol establishing diplomatic relations between their countries, MIC reported the same day. Meeting in Ankara, they stressed the need to examine the possibilities of economic cooperation. -- Stefan Krause FLOODS IN ROMANIA. Cornel Mitoiu of the State Waters Inspectorate on 4 January told Rompres that the current floods in Romania are worse than those in 1970. He said 25 counties (out of 40) have been affected, with thousands of hectares of farmland under water and several thousand homes destroyed. Mitoiu added that it was too early to evaluate the overall damage but suggested it may reach tens of billions of lei (tens of millions of US dollars). Only two persons have so far died as a result of the floods, which Mitoiu attributed to the precautionary measures and the population's response. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Mircea Snegur on 3 January started a ten- day vacation in the Romanian resort of Slanic Moldova, Radio Bucharest reported. Snegur, who is accompanied by members of his family, is expected to meet with representatives of the local authorities, the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and the Romanian government. His bodyguards, however, have been instructed to keep journalists away from his residence. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Moldovan Foreign Ministry on 4 January praised Romania's "consistent stance over the Dniester issue" and support for Moldova's search for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Dniester region. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, INTELLECTUALS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Zhelyu Zhelev is to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on what constitutes censorship of the media and what the legal consequences are, Pari reported on 5 January. He will also ask the court to decide what the lack of a media law means in constitutional terms. Zhelev called on the journalists from Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) who were dismissed following their protest against BNR's management (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November and 19 December 1995) to appeal to European institutions. Zhelev on 4 January took part in an round-table discussion among intellectuals and writers on freedom of speech, 24 chasa reported. The participants called on citizens to defend freedom of speech. -- Stefan Krause WILL BULGARIAN MINISTERS RESIGN? Unnamed leaders of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) are demanding a cabinet reshuffle, 24 chasa reported on 5 January. According to Standart, Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev and Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba are ready to hand in their resignations, but the BSP daily Duma denied those reports. Nachev is under fire because of the high crime rate and Chichibaba because of the ongoing grain shortage. Trud names Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev as likely victims of a cabinet reshuffle. Meanwhile, Chichibaba said in an interview with RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service on 4 January that there is a grain crisis but rejected any personal responsibility. -- Stefan Krause COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEETS ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS. Albanian journalists, meeting with the heads of the Council of Europe's Legal and Human Rights Commission and Political Commission, have expressed concern about the freedom of the media in Albania. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party and Democratic Alliance have submitted documents to the council that, they say, prove "Albanians are going to the next general elections this year with fewer freedoms and guaranties than in 1992 or in the 1994 popular referendum on the constitution." They argue that two recently approved laws on opening former communist files and banning high communist officials from running for public office violate citizens' rights. CE officials will issue a report to the council after their visit, Albanian newspapers reported on 5 January. -- Fabian Schmidt ITALIAN AMBASSADOR TO ALBANIA ANNOUNCES EU ASSOCIATION TALKS. Paolo Foresti has said that Italy will use its EU Presidency to play a leading role in helping Albania integrate into the EU, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 January. Speaking at a conference titled Albania's Atlantic Association, he noted that a meeting is scheduled on 23-24 January in Rome to begin the process of negotiating Albania's EU association. The conference focused on Albania's relations with NATO as well as with Italy. -- Fabian Schmidt BOMB ATTACK ON TIRANA JUDGE'S HOUSE. A bomb attack on the house of Qazim Gjonaj destroyed an armored door and parts of the wall, Albania reported on 5 January. Nobody was injured in the attack, which was carried out with industrial dynamite, normally used for mining. Police have launched an investigation but did not speculate on possible motives for the bombing. Gjonaj, however, said it might be related either to trials against former communist officials or to criminal cases, including disputes over land restitution. -- 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. 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