|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 47, Part II, 06 March 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN FEDERAL POLICE ENTER HADZICI. A 90-man contingent of government police took up duty on 6 March in the third formerly Serb-held Sarajevo suburb to pass to federal control under the Dayton agreement. The force consisted of 70 Muslims, 15 Serbs, and 5 Croats, which reflects the prewar ethnic composition of the area, AFP reported. CNN said that a group of Croat police had entered the area the previous night and occupied a building, but left peacefully after IFOR threatened to use force to oust them. The Croats felt that they were underrepresented in the federal contingent. The Serbian population had largely fled on Pale's orders, and torched and looted buildings in the process. The UNHCR will launch a $2.5 million project to repair the damage to homes the Serbs gutted, Onasa reported on 5 March. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE PROHIBITS ALCOHOL, TOBACCO ADVERTISING. Ukrainian lawmakers voted on 5 March to ban alcohol and tobacco advertising in an effort to head off growing substance abuse in the country, Reuters reported. The ban was included in a bill regulating advertising, a budding $900 million a year industry. Deputies claimed that cigarette and liquor ads comprise 40% of all advertising revenues. They also said alcohol production was the only industry in Ukraine that had not experienced a decline, though at the expense of the nation's health. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ESTONIAN PREMIER ON ORTHODOX CHURCH DISPUTE. Tiit Vahi said on 5 March that the Estonian government has tried not to get involved in religious problems and thus only dealt with the secular side of the dispute within the Orthodox Church, ETA reported. The state was obliged to return to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church the property it had prior to World War II. He said he was glad that the EAOC had agreed to allow Moscow-led congregations to use their church buildings. Interior Minister Mart Rask called recent Russian charges that his ministry was creating a schism in the Orthodox Church unfounded. He could not comply with the demands to abolish the registration of the EAOC since courts had ruled that its registration was in accordance with Estonian laws. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT VISITS LITHUANIA. Aleksander Kwasniewski began a two- day visit to Vilnius on 5 March by signing a declaration on strengthening cooperation with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, Radio Lithuania reported. Foreign ministers Dariusz Rosati and Povilas Gylys signed a border treaty, and defense ministers Stanislaw Dobrzanski and Linas Linkevicius an agreement on the joint use of airspace for military aircraft. The presidents discussed trade issues and the prospects for their countries' integration into the European Union and NATO. Kwasniewski also met with leaders of the Polish community and was scheduled to address the Seimas the next day. -- Saulius Girnius TRUCKERS BLOCKADE POLISH-BELARUSIAN BORDER. Truckers have blockaded a border crossing point between Poland and Belarus by Terespol, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. The crossing point is one of the busiest between Eastern Europe and the CIS and the line of cars and trucks waiting to enter Belarus stretches tens of kilometers into Poland, forcing drivers to wait an average of 55 hours to get into Belarus. The blockade is meant to draw attention to the problem. There is no shortage of border crossing points and they are working to capacity. Since the beginning of the year the Terespol crossing point has cleared 53,000 trucks. -- Ustina Markus IMBROGLIO IN POLISH NEWSPAPER. Shareholders in Zycie Warszawy on 5 March authorized the board of directors to sell at least part of the Italian- owned daily, despite opposition from Polish shareholders who hold around 2% of the paper. Journalists claim that no-one has informed them to whom and on what conditions the newspaper will be sold. According to Gazeta Wyborcza on 6 March, the final transaction has not been completed. Italian owner Nicola Grauso is holding talks with Zbigniew Jakubas, who has promised to retain the newspaper's staff and not worsen working conditions. In an interview with Rzeczpospolita, Jakubas said he would like Zycie Warszawy no longer to be one-sided and become the newspaper of the political center, directed by a council of individuals from various political groupings. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz POLISH COMMISSION VISITS POST-SOVIET MILITARY BASES. A government commission dealing with restoring villages and buildings abandoned by the Soviet Army visited the Koszalin province in northwestern Poland on 5 March. The commission should visit eight Polish provinces where the Soviet forces were based and is to help draft a project allocating 30 million zlotys ($11.67 million) for putting in working order the post- Soviet structures. In Bagicz, which hosted a former Soviet military airport, the main threat is liquid fuels which have penetrated the soil. The delegation also visited Klomin and Bialogard, where houses and a hospital need attention, Rzeczpospolita reported on 6 March. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH IFOR SOLDIERS ACCUSED OF RAPE. Czech media reported on 5 and 6 March that two members of the Czech battalion serving in Bosnia have been cleared of accusations that they raped a U.S. servicewoman last weekend. A Czech police investigator who traveled to Bosnia to examine the case was quoted as saying that no rape - as defined by Czech law - occurred. "The result of the investigation is that she agreed with their proposal," the spokesman of the Czech contingent said, and a Czech doctor who examined the woman involved agreed with this conclusion. Mlada fronta Dnes, however, reported that American military authorities disagreed, insisting that rape did take place. The daily quoted a U.S. military spokeswoman as saying that such incidents will be thoroughly investigated. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES TERRITORIAL ADMINISTRATION PLAN. Interior Ministry State Secretary Pavol Kacic on 5 March announced the government's approval of Slovakia's new territorial division, Slovak media reported. The draft, which awaits parliamentary approval, divides Slovakia into eight regions (Bratislava, Trnava, Nitra, Trencin, Zilina, Banska Bystrica, Presov, and Kosice) and 74 districts. The cabinet's bill cancels the independent statute of Bratislava as Slovakia's capital, which Coexistence chairman Miklos Duray called "political revenge" for the results of the last elections. Kacic said the election law, which is currently based on four electoral regions, will have to be amended, a move which ethnic Hungarian leaders fear could lead to a decline in their parliamentary representation. The cabinet did not discuss a territorial administration proposal put forward by the Hungarian coalition. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK AUTHORITIES QUESTION PRESIDENT'S SON. Police investigator Jozef Ciz on 5 March questioned Michal Kovac Jr. for eight hours in connection with his abduction to Austria last August, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported. Kovac said the questioning included looking at photographs of possible suspects; however, he declined to say whether he had identified his kidnappers, noting his agreement not to grant information which could "frustrate" the investigation. "Everything took place in a correct working atmosphere," Kovac said, stressing that the "self-abduction" variant put forward by certain coalition representatives was not discussed. On 6 March, Kovac will undergo interrogation concerning his alleged involvement in the Technopol fraud. Ciz told Slovak Radio that the abduction case should be completed within one to two months, but he emphasized the need to question former Slovak Information Service agent Oskar F., who accused the SIS of involvement. -- Sharon Fisher GERMANS GIVE FUNDS FOR ROMANI CHURCH IN SLOVAKIA. The German religious organization "Kirche in Not" [Church in Need] on 5 March issued DM 9,000 to the Roman Catholic Church in Pecovska Nova Ves in the Presov district, TASR reported. Local Roma will use the funds for the construction of a chapel dedicated to Zeferyn Jimenez Mall, a Spanish Rom shot in 1936 during the Civil War and the first Rom in history to be beatified by the Church. Of the village's 2,100 inhabitants, 360 are Roma. The cornerstone was laid last September, and the chapel is expected to be open for its first service this summer. -- Alaina Lemon HUNGARIAN JEWS PROTEST AGAINST NEO-NAZIS' ACQUITTAL. The Federation of the Jewish Communities in Hungary continued to protest the acquittal of two neo-Nazi leaders charged with using fascist symbols and inciting hatred, Hungarian media reported on 6 March. The protest came in the wake of a Budapest municipal court ruling, which said the submitted evidence was insufficient to support the charges filed by the prosecution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 March 1996). The president of the federation, Peter Feldmajer, said that "in the 1947 Paris Treaty, the Hungarian government undertook the obligation to prosecute any anti- Semitic propaganda," and that "the acquittal of those who regard themselves as followers of (Hungarian fascist leader) Ferenc Szalasi allows the propagation of fascist ideology to continue." The Jewish Communities expressed the hope that the Supreme Court will decide on appeal in line with the European legal system and will prevent the propaganda of racist, fascist ideology. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR TO REDEFINE MANDATE? The NATO peacekeepers were ready to to take stiff measures against a group of Croatian policemen (see Top Story), and many think they should show the same resolution toward indicted war criminals and persons tampering with evidence of war crimes. To date, however, IFOR's commanders say that such activities are not in their mandate. Discussions are nonetheless underway in Brussels to broaden the interpretation of IFOR's mission to include dealing with war criminals and protecting evidence, as well as possibly helping with some civilian reconstruction projects. AFP reported on 6 March that moves in this direction are in progress and that diplomatic sources are confident of Washington's approval. U.S. Secretary of the Army Togo West said in Tuzla, however, that this is not the case and "we have a well-defined mission and we are sticking to it." -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN FEDERAL PRESIDENT WARNS OF NEW CROAT-MUSLIM WAR. Kresimir Zubak said that the federation could break down and a new conflict emerge if current differences are not resolved. Elsewhere, Onasa also reported on 5 March that the UNHCR has retracted a report that Serbs have launched a new wave of ethnic cleansing in the Banja Luka area, saying now that the evictions took place some time ago. Meanwhile in Tuzla, the Red Cross announced it is setting up a group to look into the fate of missing persons in Bosnia. And in Sarajevo, the Academy of Sciences expelled the prominent Bosnian Serb historian and professor Milorad Ekmecic for his role in developing Pale's nationalist ideology, "which has caused an unseen plight of even the Serbian people in Bosnia." Ekmecic's theories include the historically dubious idea that the area is "historic Serbian space," which provided the ideological underpinnings for the wholesale destruction of mosques and Ottoman-era buildings. The Bosnian government has said it wants Ekmecic indicted for war crimes for his role in promoting ethnic hatred. -- Patrick Moore LEADER OF SERBIA'S NEW DEMOCRACY INTERVIEWED. Nasa Borbaon 6 March features an interview with Dusan Mihajlovic, leader of the small but important New Democracy (ND) party, which functions as a coalition partner and de facto member of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia in Serbia's legislature. Mihajlovic, signaling that relations between ND and the SPS are likely to remain good, said "we are not going to engage in putsches or conspiracies." He added, "I see no crisis in relations." He touched on the sensitive question of the status of Serbia's Kosovar Albanians, suggesting that he, and presumably his patron, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, continue to rule out genuine autonomy for Kosovo and international mediation on the status of the once-autonomous province. "The [Kosovo] question must be solved by Serbs and Albanians. That's much better than someone else solving it," he observed. -- Stan Markotich UPDATE ON SERBIA'S STUDIO B. Nasa Borba on 4 March ran a piece, "A Fake Studio B," describing what has happened to the once-independent Studio B TV following the recent government take-over. During the past few weeks, the report suggests, the station has seemingly fallen completely into the regime's hands, and now practices distorting and misrepresenting opposition party platforms and public statements. Not surprisingly, the station also now endorses uncritically the policies of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his Socialist Party of Serbia. "Studio B is now tripping over itself, fawning about its new masters...giving over some 50 minutes of coverage to the [SPS 2 March] party congress during yesterday's programming. This was more coverage than any other television station, except for [the state-run] Radio and Television Serbia," the report observed. -- Stan Markotich YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN ROMANIA. A parliamentary delegation of the rump Yugoslav Federation on 5 March ended an official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. The delegation, headed by National Assembly Speaker Radovan Bozovic, met with the chairman of Romania's Chamber of Deputies Adrian Nastase and the Senate's Deputy Chairman Ion Solcanu. Bozovic was also received by Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. The two sides discussed ways to boost bilateral relations under the new conditions created by the Dayton agreement. They described the signing in the near future of a basic treaty between the two countries as a top diplomatic priority for both Bucharest and Belgrade. The drafting of the document by teams of experts was completed last week in Belgrade. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR COMBATING CORRUPTION. As a result of parliamentary debates on anti-corruption legislation, several top officials should have already resigned, Infotag quoted Mircea Snegur as saying on 5 March in the Moldovan parliament. According to Snegur, corruption is related primarily to the state apparatus. He accused the Foreign Economic Commission for violating its own ban on exports, as well as Defense Minister Pavel Creanga for "dubious transactions" in his ministry. Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi said one of the reasons for corruption in Moldova was the fact that criminal groups are better equipped and trained than law-enforcement bodies. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN CABINET RESHUFFLE AHEAD? Before a plenary meeting of the Supreme Council of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), representatives of its coalition partners, and the joint parliamentary faction scheduled for 10 March, Bulgarian newspapers on 6 March speculate about a likely government reshuffle. Kontinent reported that Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev, Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov (both also Deputy Prime Ministers), Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev, and Industry Minister Kliment Vuchev will be replaced for failing to cope with the problems in their respective fields of responsibility. Other papers also name Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov as likely to lose his post. Health Minister Mimi Vitkova has prepared her resignation but the BSP has decided that she will resign only if the recent AIDS scandal is brought up during the plenum. 24 chasa reported that the cabinet reshuffle will be completed by the end of May. -- Stefan Krause U.S. HOUSE GRANTS BULGARIA MFN STATUS. The U.S. House of Representatives on 5 March granted Bulgaria permanent most-favored- nation status, Reuters reported. The U.S. had granted Bulgaria the status, which gives it the lowest U.S. tariffs on its export goods, on an annual basis since 1993. Supporters of the bill said Bulgaria has made good progress toward democracy and a free market economy since the fall of communism. The bill has to be approved by the U.S. Senate. -- Stefan Krause KOSOVAR LEADER MEETS MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT. Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov met Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova on 5 March in Skopje, Reuters reported. They reviewed the situation in Macedonia, Kosovo and the Balkan region and apparently discussed the new conditions set by the international community for the full diplomatic recognition of rump Yugoslavia. The European Parliament on 1 March had asked the EU Council of Ministers to grant full recognition only if Belgrade reaches a "total and satisfactory settlement" with the Kosovar leadership, Beta reported. The parliament further demanded negotiations without preconditions by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic "with [Kosovar shadow state leader Ibrahim] Rugova and other elected representatives of the people of Kosovo." The parliament also expressed willingness to open a Commission office in Kosovo, noting that the U.S. had similar plans. Rugova had earlier visited Tirana where he met Albanian President Sali Berisha. -- Fabian Schmidt ITALIAN JOURNALIST CLAIMS HE GOT INFORMATION ON TIRANA BOMBING. An Italian journalist, Pietro Zannoni, said he had received information on the origin of the bomb that exploded in central Tirana on 26 February. Zannoni claims he talked to a former communist secret service [Sigurimi] agent who told him that the bomb was given by Serbian secret agents to former Sigurimi agents, who later prepared it in Fier. Zannoni also included internationally wanted Serbian war criminal Zeljko Raznjatovic "Arkan" in his theory. The Interior Ministry could not confirm the allegations, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 March. Zannoni had earlier claimed that he had received information proving that the dailies Koha Jone and Zeri I Popullit were being financed by the Serbian secret service. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle 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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