|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 24, Part II, 02 February 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ UKRAINIAN MINERS BEGIN WALKOUT OVER UNPAID WAGES. Hundreds of thousands of miners at the country's state-owned coal pits walked off the job 1 February to protest their employers' failure to pay up to a half year in back wages, Ukrainian and international agencies reported the same day. Union leaders said employees at 106 of Ukraine's 254 coal mines participated in the indefinite walkout, while miners at another 107 pits suspended deliveries to customers, including the steel industry. State metallurgy officials complained the strike could paralyze the industry, which they claim is the country's top exporter and major source of hard currency revenue. The government has blamed metallurgy enterprises for the strike, claiming their failure to pay for coal supplies has caused the financial crunch in the coal sector. Ukrainian TV reported that the Ukrainian government had allocated another nine trillion karbovantsi (around $5 million) to settle the wage arrears in addition to the two trillion karbovantsi it has already allotted. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLISH SEJM ACCEPTS INITIAL CONCLUSIONS ON OLEKSY AFFAIR. On 1 February the Sejm accepted the conclusions of its special commission evaluating the role of the secret services in the spy allegations against the former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. The commission did not pass judgment on Oleksy's guilt or innocence, but concluded that the secret services did not transgress the law in collecting information on Oleksy, or in transmitting it to former President Lech Walesa. The commission also concluded that former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski did not transgress the law in passing documents on the affair to the military prosecutor's office, Polish dailies reported on 2 February. -- Jakub Karpinski SCREENING LAW IN POLAND. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski sent the Sejm the draft screening law which allows citizens to know if they are listed as secret police collaborators, and requires the screening of candidates for high office. Kwasniewski wants to create a Commission of Public Confidence that would have access to files the secret police gathered until 1990. The bill does not provide for any sanctions for collaborators, Polish dailies reported on 2 February. An attempt to expose high officials who had collaborated with the secret police was made in June 1992, but when the internal affairs minister Antoni Macierewicz delivered a list of some 60 officials, the Sejm recalled Jan Olszewski's government responsible for those attempts. -- Jakub Karpinski GREENPEACE PROTESTS NUCLEAR SHIPMENTS TO HUNGARY. Following protests in Germany over the shipment of 235 used nuclear fuel elements to Hungary's Paks nuclear plant, Greenpeace activists are now voicing concerns in Hungary, international and Hungarian media reported on 1 February. The nuclear elements are being shipped from the Greifswald/Lubmin power station in former East Germany, which was shut down after reunification as it did not meet West German safety standards. Greenpeace and Hungarian environmentalists condemn the shipping of "nuclear trash" to Eastern Europe and warn that Hungary's Paks station does not meet Western safety standards either. The management of Paks , however, rejected the protest saying it does not regard Greenpeace as qualified to make a judgment in this matter and that "all four Paks reactors rank among the best 25 of the more than 400 nuclear units in the world". -- Zsofia Szilagy ROMA ALLEGE POLICE RACISM IN CZECH REPUBLIC. On 1 February the South Bohemia Police police inspectorate declared that a formal complaint made on 5 January by Romani organizations to them and Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml accusing South Bohemian police chief Zdenek Pfleger of racism was groundless, CTK reported. Romani representatives accused Pfleger of racism because he sent the only Romani officer on the force to patrol a Romani boxing match saying, "If the blacks are organizing it, let the blacks police it." The complaint demanded Pfleger's removal, stating he had been a hard-line communist and continued to enforce communist practices. The director of the inspectorate told CTK that the decision could be appealed to the head inspectorate of Czech police in Prague. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPOINTS NEW SUPREME COURT CHAIRMAN. The parliament on 1 February approved the appointment of Milan Karabin to replace Karol Plank, whose resignation was accepted by the government on 24 January (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 January). Laws on wages and on relations between trade union organizations and employers were approved, 33 new regional and district court judges were appointed, and the government's industrial policy and goals for transforming the social sphere was discussed. The previous day, parliament passed a banking law introducing mortgage banking and defining the National Bank of Slovakia's powers in relation to commercial banks. * Sharon Fisher CONTINUED CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW. Slovakia's Hungarian coalition on 1 February criticized statements made the previous day by Milan Ferko, who heads the Culture Ministry's language department, Narodna obroda reported. Ferko had claimed the mayors of certain southern Slovak communities acted illegally by passing directives allowing for the use of both Slovak and Hungarian in official contacts. The Hungarian coalition pointed out that although the new language law cancels the previous one, it fails to regulate the use of minority languages. Because the use of one's mother tongue is a constitutional right, the Hungarian coalition believes the directives are legal. Meanwhile, although fines cannot be issued until 1997, four "language consultants" began work on 1 February in three Slovak districts and in Bratislava to supervise the observance of the language law. -- Sharon Fisher IMF DOUBTS LATVIA'S 1996 BUDGET PLANS. Jukka Paljarvi, the International Monetary Fund representative in Latvia, said the republic would probably be unable to limit its planned budget deficit to 59 million lati ($107 million), BNS reported on 1 February. The assumption that the GDP would grow 2.5-3% in 1996 while inflation would be reduced to below 20% is not likely to be fulfilled. A recent IMF mission recommended that the budget deficit be reduced by increasing the excise tax of motor fuel, keeping pensions and government employee salaries at present level, and improving tax collection. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA-RUSSIA BORDER NEGOTIATIONS. Lithuanian deputy foreign minister Rimantas Sidlauskas and Russian ambassador Yurii Sholmov said that enough progress was made during three days of negotiations in Vilnius on 29-31 January to probably allow for the text of a draft agreement on land borders to be initialled at the next round of talks in March or April in Kaliningrad, Radio Lithuania reported on 1 February. Little progress, however, was made in delimiting the sea border and determining economic zones in the Baltic Sea. The latter will be particularly difficult due to possible oil deposits in the D-6 Baltic shelf which Russian companies have plans to exploit, although it is closer to Lithuania. -- Saulius Girnius SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR KILLS SERBIAN SNIPER. French peacekeepers on 1 February killed one Serbian gunman and arrested another in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza. The sniping had been going on for about a week, international media reported. It was the first time since deployment began that IFOR admitted to killing someone for shooting at its men. In another development, Onasa news agency reported that IFOR agreed to help refugees from Srebrenica return there because the Dayton agreement provides for freedom of movement. But IFOR also exhibited some of its now familiar waffling, with a spokesman claiming that "we can't compel the Serbs to let these people in." IFOR's mandate was designed by experts to prevent the hamstringing that plagued UNPROFOR, but IFOR's command often appears timid in interpreting that mandate. -- Patrick Moore SHOW OF FORCE AGAINST BOSNIAN TROOPS. NATO used military aircraft in a show of force against Bosnian government troops violating the zones of separation on 30 January, international media reported the next day. This was the first time that the IFOR ground commander had requested air support since the Dayton peace accords came into effect on 20 December. Some 30 Bosnian troops entered a zone controlled by Spanish soldiers 10 kilometers south of the city of Mostar and refused to leave. After an hour, two US A-10 close support aircraft were called in. The Bosnian troops then surrendered their arms, including 300 rifles, six mortars, eight anti-tank rocket launcher and a large number of grenades. No explanation was given as to why the Bosnian forces were in possession of such a large number of weapons. -- Michael Mihalka ROW OVER POLITICIZATION OF BOSNIAN ARMY. Sarajevo dailies over the past week have reported on a polemic between the governing Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the opposition. The issue is the alleged politicization of the military and militarization of the SDA because of the membership of three top generals on the party's steering committee. SDA Vice President Ejup Ganic defended the political role of Generals Atif Dudakovic, Mehmed Alagic, and Sakib Mahmuljin, Onasa reported on 1 February. He said that "generals should participate in [the] further development of the country. They are not here only to fight and get killed." The International Herald Tribune on 2 February, however, notes that the generals' activities is only one issue that has Bosnia's Western allies angry with the Sarajevo government. Other sore points include the government's failure to grant a license to the first independent television station; to approve an amnesty for ordinary Bosnian Serb soldiers; and to send foreign muhajidin home. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN BRIEFS. The war may be over, but Onasa reported on 1 February that at least two problems will continue to plague Sarajevo for some time to come: water shortages and land mines. There have been reports that Serbs are installing new mines or other booby-traps in flats owned and reclaimed by Muslims in Serb-held territories. The water problems are so serious that Sarajevans may face the next two years with water only every other day and only for a few hours. Meanwhile in Zagreb, Croatia appears to be moving to change its laws to permit speedy extradition of suspected war criminals. Croatia's allies have repeatedly warned it that it must be seen as cooperating fully with the war crimes tribunal as specified in the Dayton agreement. At issue primarily are some Herzegovinian Croats wanted for atrocities against the Muslims in 1993. -- Patrick Moore NEW DIRECTOR FOR CROATIAN RADIO AND TELEVISION. Amid reports of corruption by past directors, an acrimonious debate in parliament, and an opposition walkout, Ivan Mudranic of the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) became the new director of HRTV. He replaces Ivan Parac, who had charged his predecessor Antun Vrdoljak with corruption. Vrdloljak headed HRTV until about a year ago and was best known for saying that television "must become a cathedral of the Croatian spirit." To the opposition, Vrdoljak had been the embodiment of HDZ domination of the electronic media, from which most of the population gets its news. The opposition walked out of the Sabor when the HDZ deputies blocked a discussion of Parac's revelations and charged Parac himself with corruption, news agencies reported on 1 February. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN POLICE BLOCK "ALTERNATIVE ASSEMBLY." Nasa Borba on 2 February reported that some 114 legislators from five leading opposition parties- -the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Serbian Radical Party, the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Serbia, and the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina-- were prevented from meeting as a "shadow" government the day before because police would not allow them to gather in the parliament building. The opposition parties met for the first time as a "parallel legislature" on 26 December, following a boycott protest of the governing Socialist Party of Serbia's heavy-handed control tactics. Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic said the latest police action demonstrated Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's intolerance. "Milosevic thinks he can do whatever he wants after Dayton, including halting democratization and privatization...violating human rights...and tossing the opposition out of parliament," he said. * Stan Markotich JUSTICE SAYS SERBIA IS UNCOOPERATIVE. Onasa on 1 February reported that Chief Prosecutor of the UN War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Richard Goldstone said that Belgrade is failing to cooperate with The Hague tribunal. Belgrade's "attitude has always been to refuse to recognize the existence and legality of the court," he said. Goldstone added that while Serbia has agreed to permit an investigator to work in Belgrade, that person was not allowed to refer to themselves officially as a representative of the tribunal, and had to seek and obtain permission from the government to interview witnesses. Goldstone acknowledged that he had accepted such conditions, but stressed that the stonewalling from rump Yugoslav authorities shows no signs of abating: "the person I appointed has waited for months for a visa that has never been granted," he added. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY ATTACKS GOVERNMENT DECISION. Gheorghe Funar, the leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), rejected the grounds on which Telecommunications Minister Adrian Turicu of PUNR was dismissed by Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, Romanian media reported on 1February . Funar said Turicu had been appointed director of the Romtelecom company in accordance with current legislation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 January), and accused the ruling party of fostering nepotism and corruption in the issue. Following negotiations with President Ion Iliescu and Vacaroiu, the PUNR was asked to present its proposals for a new minister. -- Matyas Szabo CONTRADICTORY REPORTS ON DNIESTER STATE OF EMERGENCY. Contrary to Radio Moldova and BASA-press reports of 31 January (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 February), Infotag on 1 February wrote that the Dniester Supreme Soviet approved by a majority of votes a presidential decree on imposing a state of economic emergency in the region. Votes against were cast by the deputies of the radical left-wing Bloc of Patriotic Forces, and by delegates of the town of Rybnitsa. The state of emergency is mainly administrative, and includes severe restrictions on civic freedoms and political activities. Igor Smirnov, the president of the self-proclaimed Dniester Republic, told parliament that the steps were designed "to withstand a growing [hostile] propaganda campaign," including attempts to upset the region's relations with the Russian Federation. Restrictions on press reporting appear to be the root of the confusion surrounding the Supreme Soviet's debates. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN INTEREST RATE GOES UP. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) on 1 February raised the prime interest rate from 34% to 42%, Pari reported the following day. BNB Governor Lyubomir Filipov said the decision was taken "because of pressure on the currency market and in order to maintain our foreign currency reserves." A commentary in Trud points to the fact that the move came just a week after the Socialist government "gave itself A marks" in all fields of economy, revealing that the government's evaluation are "lies." Over the past months, the lev has steadily declined against the U.S. dollar. The exchange rate for 2 February was a record low of 74.079 leva/$. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN TOP POLICE OFFICIAL FIRED. The government on 1 February dismissed Gen. Milcho Bengarski as secretary of the interior ministry in charge of monitoring police operations, Reuters reported. Bengarski was officially sacked for failing to help curb the high crime rate, but it seems that the government needed a scapegoat for its failure to deal with the problem of organized crime. Bengarski's dismissal came only days after Doni, one of Bulgaria's most popular pop stars, launched a campaign against crime. His campaign is supported by President Zhelyu Zhelev and many opposition deputies and has so far received much public support and media coverage. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES NEW ELECTORAL LAW. The Democratic Party parliamentary majority adopted a new election law on 2 January, AFP reported the same day. The law was criticized by the opposition, which argued that it deprived smaller parties of any chance of winning in the upcoming elections. The legislation increased the number of directly elected legislators from 100 to 115, and decreased the number of those to be chosen by proportional representation from 40 to 25. Thus, the formal four percent barrier will de facto be increased to an estimated seven to eight percent barrier. Socialist Party deputy leader Namik Dokle also criticized the ballot counting procedures and the share of air-time allocated to the various parties in the election campaign. According to Aleanca Demokratike Deputy Perikli Teta, "The passing of this law shows the Democrats are not prepared to give up power peacefully." -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS MALTA. Albanian President Sali Berisha arrived in Malta for a two-day visit on 1 February, Reuters reported. Berisha met with Maltese President Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami, as well as opposition leader Alfred Sant. Both sides agreed to speed up cooperation in economics, tourism, education, agriculture, and other sectors. Berisha concluded, "I am very pleased with the talks. We have agreed to intensify our relations in specialized fields like tourism, fish farming and the concept of the freeport." Adami said the Maltese government would encourage Maltese investors to take up opportunities in Albania especially in construction projects, tourism and oil drilling. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Ustina Markus 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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ISSN 1211-1570 Greg Cole, Director Center for International Networking Initiatives The University of Tennessee System Phone: (423) 974-7277 2000 Lake Avenue FAX: (423) 974-8022 Knoxville, TN 37996 Email: email@example.com
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