|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 81, Part II, 24 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: No. 76: "A New Opposition Movement is Launched in Kazakhstan," by Bhavna Dave No. 77: "NATO Enlargement and Slovakia," by Sharon Fisher No. 78: "Yeltsin and the Myth of the China Market," by Scott Parrish No. 79: "Former Polish Prime Minister Cleared from Spy Allegations," by Jakub Karpinski No. 80: "The Constitutional Debate in Ukraine," by Ustina Markus Available on 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ MAJOR FIRE NEAR CHORNOBYL. Five deserted villages near Chornobyl caught fire on 23 April, releasing radioactive particles into the air, international agencies reported. The villages are located in some of the most contaminated areas around the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The fire blazed for more than seven hours. Officials at the power plant said the fire had no effect on radiation levels or operations at the plant itself. No casualties were reported, and it is unknown how much radiation was released into the air. The fire, believed to have been caused by an unextinguished cigarette, spread quickly because of winds. Some 150 hectares were engulfed by the flames. The blaze occurred three days before the 10th anniversary of the Chornobyl accident. -- Ustina Markus ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Leonid Kuchma, addressing the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on 23 April, said Ukraine aims to become a full-fledged member of the EU, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. He also reiterated his position that NATO should not be enlarged without taking Russia's interests into account, but he added he was not opposed to the alliance's expansion. Kuchma noted that creating a nuclear-free zone in Eastern Europe would have a stabilizing effect on European developments. He called upon the international community to help finance the resettlement of minority groups who were deported by Stalin and now want to returning to their former homelands in Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus JAPAN PLEDGES $25 MILLION TO UKRAINE. According to Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto has promised President Kuchma $25 million to help ensure safety standards at Ukraine's nuclear reactors, Reuters reported on 23 April. Hashimoto made the pledge at the G-7 summit meeting in Moscow. Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors at five power stations, which provide 40% of the country's electricity. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN GERMANY. Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived in Germany on 24 April for a three-day visit, ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka will visit Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Berlin. He is also scheduled to meet with German President Roman Herzog to sign an agreement on cooperation over liquidating Belarus's nuclear weapons. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA'S RUSSIANS OPPOSE LOCAL ELECTIONS LAW. The Estonian United People's Party on 23 April appealed to President Lennart Meri not to sign the local elections law passed by the parliament last week, BNS reported. A majority of the Narva city councilors made a similar appeal to Meri the previous day. Both the United People's Party and the councilors oppose the provisions requiring candidates to be highly proficient in the Estonian language and stipulating that voters have a permanent residence permit. Chairman of the Narva Russian Citizens' League Yuri Mishin warned that alternative bodies of power would be formed in Narva if non-citizens were not allowed to vote in the municipal elections on 20 October. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA, SLOVENIA SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Latvian and Slovenian Foreign Ministers Valdis Birkavs and Zoran Thaler, meeting in Riga on 22 Monday, signed a free trade agreement and a cooperation protocol between the two countries' Foreign Ministries. Thaler also met with President Guntis Ulmanis, Prime Minister Andris Skele, and parliamentary chairwoman Ilga Kreituse. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS EARLY ELECTIONS. The Seimas on 23 April voted to reject a proposal to bring parliamentary elections forward from 20 October to 30 June or 6 July, Radio Lithuania reported. It also ratified three agreements with Belarus signed by the countries' presidents on 6 February 1995. Meanwhile, President Algirdas Brazauskas signed a decree appointing Albertas Valys, the 43-year old director of the Seimas's Secretariat, as minister of justice. His appointment means that all posts in Mindaugas Stankevicius's cabinet have been filled. -- Saulius Girnius FORMER POLISH PREMIER SAYS "JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE." Jozef Oleksy on 23 April said the spy allegations were brought against him during the final days of Lech Walesa's presidency by people who had wanted to destroy the former communist Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. The party forms the core of the Democratic Left Alliance, which has been a member of the ruling coalition in Poland since 1993. "Justice has been done," Oleksy said in a statement read to journalists after the Military Prosecutor-General's Office closed the case, having found no incriminating evidence. Meanwhile, opposition leaders, including former Internal Affairs Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski, said they were not convinced by the prosecutor-general's arguments, Polish dailies reported on 24 April. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN NEW YORK. Dariusz Rosati on 23 April met with US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, who told him that the U.S.'s position on Poland's admission to NATO has not changed, Rzeczpospolita reported. Rosati had asked her to comment on reports from Moscow saying that U.S. President Bill Clinton promised his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, that the process of NATO enlargement will be temporarily halted. Rosati said Albright reinforced the "hard-line standpoint" on NATO enlargement adopted by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher during his recent visit to Poland. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PARLIAMENT SESSION FINALLY GETS UNDER WAY. Czech deputies on 23 April voted by 94 to 47 with 36 abstentions to approve a truncated agenda and begin a rearranged session, Czech media reported. The last scheduled session before general elections was aborted last week when deputies of the governing coalition failed to agree on the order of business (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 and 18 April 1996). Members of one coalition party, the Civic Democratic Alliance, voted against the revised agenda. The parliament's first act was to approve a treaty amending the Czech-Slovak border. A second vote, needing at least 120 deputies in favor, is required for ratification of the treaty as a constitutional law. In the first round of voting, only 106 deputies were in favor. The opposition objects to the treaty provision transferring a village to Slovakia, making ratification unlikely. Slovakia has already ratified the treaty. -- Steve Kettle CZECH FUNDS EARMARKED FOR ROMANI MUSEUM. The lion's share of the 1.8 million crowns earmarked by the Czech Culture Ministry for Roma will go to the Society of Experts and Friends of the Museum of Romani Culture, CTK reported on 23 April. Other Romani organizations will split the about 300,000 crowns leftover. The society, founded in 1991, has been raising funds to renovate a Brno building for a permanent exhibit of Romani art and cultural artifacts. Some 27 million crowns are required for the renovations. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL BILL ON FOUNDATIONS. The Slovak cabinet on 23 April approved a bill on foundations proposed by Justice Minister Jozef Liscak, Slovak media reported. The bill requires that foundations have a start-up capital of 100,000 crowns ($3,333) and register with the Interior Ministry. They are prohibited from taking part in political activities. The Third Sector Association, which began its campaign against the bill in mid-January, called the new legislation an attempt to liquidate foundations and associations dependent on them. Liscak argued that the foundations bill is similar to those in Germany, the Czech Republic, France, and Denmark. Meanwhile, the cabinet also approved a draft law regulating the operations of lotteries and similar institutions and requiring the state to have a 51% stake in companies owning casinos. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN RADIO PREPARES FOR BELT-TIGHTENING. Hungarian Radio, currently facing severe financial difficulties, has drawn up a plan introducing austerity measures at the station, Hungarian dailies reported on 24 April. Broadcasting is to be reduced on one of the three channels, and several programs will be cut on the other two. Honorariums will also be cut by 55%. Management says Hungarian Radio's financial predicament results from the state budget's failure to guarantee subscription revenues since 1995. It added that advertising has not brought in the expected revenues because of competition from commercial stations. The cabinet is expected later this week to discuss a proposal granting an additional 4.5 billion forints subsidy to Hungarian Radio and TV. -- Zsofia Szilagyi FBI ACADEMY OPENS IN HUNGARY. One year after it began operations, an FBI Academy has officially opened in Budapest, Hungarian media reported on 23 April. The inauguration of the first police academy of its kind outside the U.S. was postponed due to the Oklahoma bombing last April, which prevented FBI Director Louis Freeh and U.S. Attorney-General Janet Reno from attending. The academy's curriculum includes training to combat international terrorism, drug smuggling, counterfeiting, and money laundering. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BELGRADE AUTHORITIES ARREST BOMB SUSPECTS. Belgrade police on 23 April arrested Alexander Gajic and Milan Dobrilovic on charges related to the 1992 bombing of Belgrade's central mosque, Reuters reported. The two are also suspects in the May 1993 bombing of St. Ann's Catholic Church in the capital city. Some media have speculated that they may have also been involved in the 30 March 1996 attack against the Bajrakli Mosque in Belgrade, which caused serious damage to the building but no casualties. The suspects were apprehended carrying 1.9 kilograms of explosives, three hand guns, and three grenades. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON. Premier Milo Djukanovic and Finance Minister Predrag Goranovic have decided to extend their visit to the U.S. "by a few days," Nasa Borba reported on 24 April. The two men left Montenegro on 21 April for a working visit aimed at restoring political relations with Washington as well as with international financial and political institutions. Nasa Borba also reports that the rump Yugoslav embassy in Washington claims to have no knowledge of the Montenegrins' visit. Embassy officials told a VOA correspondent they have nothing to do with the visit and that Djukanovic has not contacted the embassy. -- Stan Markotich VIOLENCE ESCALATES IN KOSOVO. At least five Serbs have been killed and four injured since a Serbian civilian killed an Albanian student on the weekend, AFP reported on 24 April. The Serbs who died are three men who were in a cafe in Decani when a gunman entered and sprayed the bar with automatic gunfire; a policeman who was shot outside a police station in Stimlje, near Urosevac; and a woman who was gunned down while sitting inside a police car in Sipolj. Some 10,000 women on 23 April gathered at the site where the Albanian student was killed, QIK reported the same day. The Democratic League of Kosovo strongly condemned the killings, adding they had added a "dangerous dimension" to the Kosovo conflict. It also stressed its policy of non-violence. -- Fabian Schmidt SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR DIALOGUE WITH KOSOVO ALBANIANS. The spokesman for the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement has said that "if negotiations do not take place soon with representatives of the Kosovar Albanians, there will be no solution for Kosovo," Nasa Borba reported on 24 April. The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, however, accused the "separatist Albanian movement of choosing terrorism as the means for its struggle." It warned that this could "exclude a peaceful settlement" in Kosovo, AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt TUDJMAN CALLS FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION . . . Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, in an important interview with leading pro-government media, said his principal aim is to urge a balanced historical view of all major personalities and movements in modern Croatian history, Vecernji list reported on 23 April. He accordingly condemned the World War II ustasha leader Ante Pavelic but noted that Pavelic did meet a popular demand for an independent Croatia. Tudjman at the same time praised former Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito as the most successful modern Croatian politician and traced the roots of the current Republic of Croatia back to Tito rather than to Pavelic. Tudjman stressed that it is wrong to continue demonizing one or another of the major political movements, saying it is time to bring back to Croatia from abroad the remains of Tito, Pavelic, and Dr. Vladko Macek, who led the powerful Croatian Peasant Party in the 1930s. -- Patrick Moore . . . AND SPARKS CONTROVERSY. The Croatian president went on to deny that he--a former member of the communist party and a general under Tito--was still "an old communist" at heart and that he had made the current state apparatus a safe haven for officials of the old regime. He noted that only 2% of the Foreign Ministry's staff are holdovers from the former Yugoslavia, while some 22% are former emigres. But the most controversy was generated by his attempt to present a balanced view of Croatian history and his call for reconciliation, Croatian dailies and Nasa Borba the next day. As was the case with calls for reconciliation in post-dictatorship Spain and Greece, many people across the political spectrum see his remarks as an attempt to whitewash evil deeds. His earlier call for turning the Jasenovac concentration camp in to a memorial for all war dead has been slammed as a move to equate murderers with victims. -- Patrick Moore ROMANIAN DAILY SUES SWISS FOREIGN MINISTRY OVER SPY CHARGE. Evenimentul zilei, Romania's top-selling tabloid, has said it is suing the Swiss Foreign Ministry for alleging one of its reporters is a spy, Reuters reported on 23 April. The move came after Switzerland recalled its ambassador to Bucharest because of his relationship with a 21-year-old political reporter accused of working for the Romanian Intelligence Service (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 April 1996). Ion Cristoiu, chief editor of the daily, said "the Swiss statement has damaged the newspaper by creating the impression that we have journalists who are undercover agents for various secret services." He has asked for the Swiss Ministry to provide "hard evidence." The newspaper is seeking token damages of 1 leu (less than 1 cent). -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOLDOVA. Teodor Melescanu, at the start of an official visit to the Republic of Moldova, discussed bilateral relations with Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, Parliamentary Chairman Petru Lucinschi, and Foreign Minister Mihai Popov, Radio Bucharest reported on 23 April. Melescanu told Radio Bucharest that the long-delayed bilateral basic treaty was included on their agenda. He is scheduled today to attend a meeting of a Romanian- Moldovan interdepartmental commission that is expected to focus on boosting bilateral economic and cultural cooperation. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BONN. Georgi Pirinski and his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, on 23 April launched a German-Bulgarian Forum aimed at boosting bilateral economic and political ties, international agencies reported. Pirinski noted that Germany is Bulgaria's most important partner in achieving the "national goal" of EU membership. -- Stefan Krause UPDATE ON BULGARIAN-MACEDONIAN "DIPLOMATIC SCANDAL." Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Pirinski's decision to cancel a visit to Skopje has received wide media coverage in both countries. Macedonian Ambassador to Bulgaria Gorgi Spasov said the decision was related to Sofia's ongoing refusal to meet Skopje's condition that bilateral agreements be drawn up in both the Bulgarian and Macedonian languages, Kontinent reported. Macedonian Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski stressed his country's good will to solve "this comical dispute," Nova Makedonija reported. Georgi Parvanov, deputy chairman of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, said his party did not know why the visit has been canceled. He added that the language issue has been raised by people who do not want relations between Sofia and Skopje to improve, according to Demokratsiya. -- Stefan Krause GREENPEACE WANTS BULGARIA TO CLOSE DOWN KOZLODUY. Greenpeace on 23 April called on the Bulgarian government to close down the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, Reuters reported. The spokesman for the organization's Greek branch said Kozloduy is one of the world's three most dangerous nuclear plants and that "the question is not if an accident at Kozloduy will happen; the question is when." He added that a study commissioned by Greenpeace showed Bulgaria could close down the plant if it learned to conserve and economize on energy. The Bulgarian government claims it wants to phase out the reactors but that they are still necessary because they supply 40% of the country's electricity. Greenpeace says 15 accidents at Kozloduy were made public between 1990 and 1993, including three radiation leaks. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT REJECTS APPEAL BY DEPUTIES BANNED FROM ELECTIONS. The Albanian Supreme Court on 23 April rejected an appeal by 13 deputies who have been banned from running in the upcoming general elections, Albanian media reported. A commission screening candidates for the elections ruled that they have a communist past. The Supreme Court rejected the deputies' request that they be given access to the documents on which the commission based its decision. It argued that there was enough evidence against them, since their names were included in a file listing those who collaborated with the Sigurimi, the communist-era secret service. Another 26 deputies have also appealed to the court. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message REPRINT POLICY To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS TRANSITION OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. 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