|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 39, Part II, 23 February 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Yeltsin Sacks Officials over Delayed Wage and Pension Payments", by Penny Morvant - "The IMF: Savior or Sinner?", by Peter Rutland - "Remembering the 1944 Chechen Deportation", by Roger Kangas Available only via the World Wide Web: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN FEDERAL POLICE ENTER VOGOSCA. The first of 85 federal police-- including ethnic Serbs--deployed to the northern suburb of Sarajevo have found a filthy police station and a population shrunk from 17,000 to about 2,500, Reuters reported on 23 February. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said of those who left: "They didn't have to go. They were incited to go by their own authorities. They were incited by a regime previously responsible for expelling tens of thousands of people and killing many others." Onasa on 19 February aid there will eventually be 645 federal police under international supervision in the Serb-held suburbs. The federal officers will carry only short-barrel side arms and be deployed to the remaining four suburbs at six-day intervals. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE KUCHMA ENDS U.S. VISIT. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma wrapped up his three-day visit to the U.S. on 22 February, international agencies reported. He was promised over $1 billion in financial assistance, making Ukraine the third-largest recipient of American aid after Israel and Egypt. Russia had occupied that position since 1991. The IMF said it will offer Ukraine $900 million in credits this year, $200 million more than it previously promised. Following talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton on Russian- Ukrainian relations, Kuchma said he wished Russian President Boris Yeltsin success in this year's presidential elections, noting the result of the ballot will greatly influence bilateral relations, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 February. -- Ustina Markus NEW SOCIALIST PARTY TO BE FORMED IN UKRAINE. Two Ukrainian lawmakers and their supporters have announced they will hold a congress in April to found a new political party, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, UNIAN reported on 21 February. Natalia Vitrenko and Volodymyr Marchenko were recently expelled from the Socialist Party of Ukraine after criticizing the party and its leader, parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz, for deviating from socialist ideas. A number of party members from regional organizations in Sumy, Odessa, and Zaporizhia Oblasts quit in protest and are expected to take part in the founding congress. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS COLLECT SIGNATURES FOR PLEBISCITE. The Communist Party of Ukraine is claiming it has collected 2.5 million signatures in support of holding a non-binding referendum on the main provisions of a new constitution, UNIAN reported on 21 February. Organizers are aiming to get the necessary 3 million signatures by 15 March. The Central Election Commission says the initiative violates a year-long moratorium on referendums imposed by the so-called constitutional agreement between the president and a majority of lawmakers. The Communists, however, did not sign that agreement and argue there are no laws against holding non- binding opinion polls. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS TO IMPOSE NEW TARIFFS ON IMPORTS. The Belarusian Cabinet of Ministers is preparing a new list of tariffs for imports, Belarusian Radio reported on 22 February. Last year, it approved a list of tariffs on various imported goods in line with those imposed by Russia. Now the Russian government has drawn up a new list; and under the Russian- Belarusian customs union, Belarus must comply with that list. Juices, beer, shoes, jewelry, watches, TVs and radio will be exempt from tariffs. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko earlier this week said the customs union between Russian and Belarus is not being implemented. Each side has complained that the other is benefiting at its expense. -- Ustina Markus PRESSURE ON BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT MEDIA. The Belarusian independent news agency Belapan and the independent newspaper Svaboda received letters on 14 February from the president's administration breaking off their lease agreements as of 15 February, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 23 February. Their offices are in buildings belonging to the presidential administration. Although the reason given for breaking the leases was "state needs," no other company occupying the building has had its leased discontinued. This is the latest in a series of moves by the presidential administration impeding the work of independent media. -- Ustina Markus AMNESTY FOR FORMER LATVIAN COMMUNIST LEADER. Nine deputies of the Latvian parliament have sent a letter to President Guntis Ulmanis urging him to amnesty former Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks, BNS reported on 22 February. Rubiks was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for plotting the overthrow of the government in 1991. Of the nine deputies, five belong to the National Harmony Party, three to the Socialist Party, and one to the Unity Party. Fourteen deputies of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly from Ukraine, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Finland, and future member Russia signed a similar appeal to Ulmanis in January. Among them were Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. -- Saulius Girnius FORMER PRESIDENT WALESA TRIES TO UNITE POLISH RIGHT. Former Polish President Lech Walesa is seeking again to unite leaders of right-of- center political groupings. The first planned meeting of 15 right-wing opposition leaders did not take place on 1 February because the invited guests did not show up. On 22 February, former Prime Minister and Freedom Union leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former Sejm speaker and Christian National Alliance leader Wieslaw Chrzanowski and former Senate speaker Andrzej Stelmachowski met with Walesa. Mazowiecki and Chrzanowski stressed that they did not represent their parties. All four declared that they would seek a rapprochement among Polish politicians who were involved in the movement that followed August 1980 political protests, the Polish press reported on 23 February. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER IN IRELAND. Vaclav Klaus on 22 February began a two-day visit to Ireland, CTK reported. He held talks with Irish Prime Minister John Bruton and Foreign Minister Dick Spring. Bruton said Ireland welcomes and supports the Czech Republic's application to join the European Union, Klaus noted that Ireland's chairmanship of the EU in the second half of this year should bring "further signals and steps that will bring us closer to membership of the European Union." Klaus was also due to meet with Irish President Mary Robinson before leaving for a private visit to Britain. -- Steve Kettle VIENNA RESPONDS TO SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTRY'S NOTE OVER KOVAC JR. The Austrian Foreign Ministry on 22 February sharply criticized Slovakia for protesting a Vienna court decision to release Slovak President Michal Kovac's son, Slovak and international media reported. The ministry stressed that Austrian courts are independent and that neither the government nor other organs can interfere in their work. It also expressed disappointment that Slovakia made its note public before giving it to Austria, which, it said, was "not in accordance with good neighborly relations." Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk emphasized that his ministry's note protested not the verdict itself but the court's reasons for handing down such a judgment. He insisted that the exchange of diplomatic notes will not damage bilateral relations. Prosecutor-General Michal Valo said Kovac Jr. will not face arrest upon return to Slovakia. But the Munich prosecutor's office said the international warrant remains valid. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S EU INTEGRATION COMMITTEE HOLDS FIRST MEETING. The committee set up to coordinate preparations for Hungary's admission into the EU met for the first time on 22 February, Hungarian dailies reported. The committee is composed of Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze, Industry and Trade Minister Imre Dunai, Justice Minister Pal Vastagh, head of the cabinet's integration working committee Andras Inotai, and state secretary Elemer Kiss. The committee--the highest-level body coordinating EU integration- -accepted a schedule and a timetable for accession and discussed key tasks to meet that goal. Of the nine countries in the region with associate membership, only Poland has set up a Ministry for EU Affairs. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "PALE SPREADS PANIC." This is the headline in Oslobodjenje on 23 February describing the continuing exodus of Serbs from the Sarajevo suburbs amid brutal winter conditions. The anti-nationalist Serbian Civic Council (SGV) the previous day appealed to the German ambassador to ask the Contact Group countries to send its five ambassadors to the suburbs to try to stop the flight. Onasa also quoted SGV President Mirko Pejanovic as saying that the council has sent representatives to talk to people and dissuade them from leaving. Nasa Borba on 23 February reported a declaration by the Bosnian state presidency urging the Serbs to stay, but Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic told Vecernje novine that the Bosnian government should have passed an amnesty law earlier to reassure the Serbs. Nasa Borba also quoted Pale's Radovan Karadzic as blaming the international community for not giving the Serbs sufficient guarantees, including their own government and police. -- Patrick Moore IZETBEGOVIC'S LIFE NOT IN DANGER. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic continues to be hospitalized for an unspecified heart problem, but a spokesman for his political party said that the 70 year-old leader's life is not threatened, Onasa reported on 22 February. The authorities appealed for calm and urged people not to go to the hospital where the president is staying. There has been speculation about Izetbegovic's health since he disappeared from view for about a week last year at the height of the allied military offensive against the Serbs. AFP added that Izetbegovic will now take a medically supervised rest and not do any hard work. -- Patrick Moore IFOR ASKS DELAY IN LIFTING SANCTIONS. IFOR commander U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith on 22 February asked the UN not to lift sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs until they resume contacts with the international community, international media reported. Under the Dayton peace accord, sanctions should have been lifted one day after the IFOR commander certified that the Bosnian factions have complied with the military aspects of the accord. Smith certified this was the case on 21 February. Meanwhile, the Russians have protested to the UN that sanctions should have been lifted "days ago." -- Michael Mihalka BELGRADE, PARIS RENEW DIPLOMATIC TIES. France has said it will appoint a new ambassador to the rump Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 23 February. The French Foreign Affairs Ministry announced the previous day that Gabriel Keller, currently charge d'affaires in Belgrade, will be upgraded to ambassador. Bogdan Trisunovic has already been approved as Belgrade's ambassador to Paris. France is expected to become the first Western country to appoint an ambassador to the rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN RADICAL DENIED VISA TO VISIT THE HAGUE. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party and accused war criminal, has been denied a visa to visit Holland to testify at The Hague, Nasa Borba reported on 21 February. Seselj has said several times in recent weeks that he wishes to go The Hague to give testimony against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He told the press that he had to be officially invited by The Hague to receive a visitor's visa for Holland. The Hague war crimes tribunal has said that it will listen to anyone who wants to testify but that it does not issue invitations. -- Stan Markotich EASTERN MOSTAR OFFICIALS RESIGN. Two Muslim municipal officials have resigned in protest over the Rome agreement and changes in EU administrator Hans Koschnick's proposal for the administrative reorganization of the city, Tanjug reported on 22 February, citing the eastern Mostar radio station. Their decision follows the recent resignation of the eastern Mostar mayor Safet Orucevic. Koschnick initially proposed that Mostar consist of three Muslim, three Croatian, and one jointly administered central zone. Croats, however, protested this proposal. The new plan foresees a small central zone. Meanwhile, Mostar radio reported that full freedom of movement has not been implemented because the Croats have not removed barricades and check- points from the streets. -- Daria Sito Sucic STRIKES IN CROATIA. Railway workers in Croatia on 22 February went on strike to press for a 100% wage increase, Novi list reported. The government has offered a 7.3% hike. The protest came one day after unsuccessful attempts by the Association of Independent Workers' Union to negotiate a new labor contract with government officials. The head of the union has announced a general strike at the beginning of March, Hina reported. Croatian post and telecommunications workers on 20 February staged a one-day warning strike. -- Daria Sito Sucic MACEDONIAN PREMIER DEFENDS GOVERNMENT'S RECORD. Branko Crvenskovski, addressing the parliament on 22 February, defended the recently formed coalition government, which excludes the Liberal Party, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 February 1996), MILS reported the same day. The Liberals belonged to the government formed after the October 1994 elections He criticized the Liberals for not exhibiting "a spirit of team work and mutual confidence" and responded to President Kiro Gligorov's criticism of the Liberals' absence by saying that Gligorov was entitled to his own views. Crvenskovski also revealed that foreign-currency reserves totaled $274 million at the end of 1995. He praised Macedonia's relations with the IMF and Paris Club, the low inflation rate, and progress on privatization, stressing the need to arrest the decline in production. -- Michael Wyzan EIGHT DEAD IN ROMANIAN PLANE CRASH. A Romanian Antonov-24 aircraft on 22 February crashed near the northwestern town of Baia-Mare, killing all six crew members on board and two workers on the ground, Romanian and international media reported. The aircraft, owned by the Romanian Civil Aviation Authority, was on a test flight. It took off from Bucharest's Baneasa domestic airport and crashed two hours later into a stone quarry 15 km from the Baia-Mare airport control tower. The Romanian Transport Ministry last December ordered checks on the country's aging AN-24s after one crashed in Italy, killing all 49 on board. -- Matyas Szabo RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER LOSES COURT CASE IN TIRASPOL. Pavel Grachev has lost a court case to Col. Mikhail Bergman, former commander of the Tiraspol military garrison, Moldovan and Russian agencies reported on 21 February. The military tribunal of the Russian units stationed in Tiraspol ruled that Grachev's October 1995 order to dismiss Bergman was illegal. It decided that Bergman should be reinstated in his post and that Grachev should pay some 19 million rubles ($4,100) to cover Bergman's expenses and in compensation for "moral prejudice." Grachev's lawyer said he would appeal the decision at the Moscow military tribunal. Bergman, who was one of the closest associates of former 14th Russian Army commander Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, claimed his dismissal was an act of "political revenge." -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY RELEASES LIST OF ALLEGED CRIMINALS. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry on 22 February released a list of 2,797 people against whom legal proceedings are pending, Kontinent reported the following day. Of these, 482 have already been arrested. Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev said the list signals his ministry's will to cooperate with the judiciary in the fight against crime. The ministry was asked for such a list by Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev, the National Investigation Service, and the police. Standart reported that police last week started arresting people whose names appear on the list. Meanwhile, former Tsar Simeon II on 22 February told Deutsche Welle that he intends to visit Bulgaria in spring and that he does not rule out running in the presidential elections later this year. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIA GETS ITS GOLD BACK. French and Albanian officials on 22 February signed an accord allowing the return of gold worth $30 million to Albania, Reuters reported. The gold was first looted by the Nazis and later seized by the allies to stop it falling into communist hands at the end of World War II. It has since been held at the Bank of England in London under the trusteeship of an Anglo-American-French commission. Albanian Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni said he expected the 1.5 tons of gold ingots and coins to be back in Albania in March. Albania had signed accords with Britain and the U.S last year and had needed only Paris's signature. -- Fabian Schmidt FRANCE DONATES WHEAT TO ALBANIA. The French government will donate 3,000 tons of wheat to Albania to prevent a food crisis, Reuters reported on 22 February. Albania's wheat crop in 1995 fell by 35,000 tons to 420,000 tons, half its annual demand. In addition price increases on the world marked have resulted in a shortage of cheap wheat on the Albanian domestic market. The wheat will be shipped to Durres in March. Romania has already donated 10,000 tons of wheat and is expected to send another 24,000 tons by early March. -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE SEEKS TO BLOCK EU AID TO ANKARA. Greece on 22 February effectively stalled a 375 million ECU ($485 million) aid package to Turkey, Western media reported. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said voting on the package has been taken off the agenda of the EU foreign ministers' council meeting scheduled for 26 February. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn on 22 February, sought German support in Greece's dispute with Turkey over an uninhabited islet. Meanwhile, Ankara responded by recalling its ambassador to Greece, Western agencies reported. Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller called on countries friendly with Athens and Ankara to dissuade Greece from pursuing the "dangerous path" it has embarked upon. -- Stefan Krause and Lowell Bezanis [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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For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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