|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 82, Part II, 25 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: No. 81: "Chechnya after Dudaev," by Liz Fuller 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CONFLICTING REPORTS ON RADIATION LEVELS AROUND CHORNOBYL AFTER FIRES. Reports vary over whether radiation levels have risen around Chornobyl after fires earlier this week that lifted radioactive particles into the atmosphere, international agencies reported on 24 April. Ukrainian Minister for Chornobyl Affairs Volodymyr Kholosha played down the radiation scare, saying that "increases were noted in the areas immediately around the fires, but only within several hundred meters." Other reports say that higher radiation readings were registered along a 10-20 km stretch of land adjacent to the 30 km Chornobyl exclusion zone. Belarusian Deputy Minister for Emergency Situations Ihar Rolevich said this did not affect inhabited areas. -- Ustina Markus FIRES RAGE IN CHORNOBYL ZONE IN BELARUS, TOO. Forest fires broke out on 23 April in southern Belarus, close to the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported on 25 April. The fires, caused by unseasonably hot and dry weather, spread over 2,000 hectares of forest. Residents in Homel were warned against going into the woods. It is feared that radioactive dust will be distributed across a large area. -- Ustina Markus CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SETS 6 MAY AS CONSTITUTION DAY. The Crimean parliament has passed a resolution stating that 6 May is Constitution Day in the Republic of Crimea, Ukrainian Radio reported on 24 April. On that day in 1992, the peninsula's parliament passed a constitution making relations between the peninsula and the rest of Ukraine contingent on bilateral treaties. That constitution was viewed by Kyiv as a virtual declaration of independence and as violating Ukraine's constitution. It was annulled by the Ukrainian parliament last year. However, a motion to make 6 May a holiday in Crimea failed to collect enough votes. -- Ustina Markus WAGES IN UKRAINE. Ukraine's Ministry of Statistics says the average worker's wage in March was 12.932 million karbovantsy ($68), Ukrainian Radio reported on 24 May. Collective farm workers and employees in small enterprises were excluded from the tally. The highest paid workers were employees at nuclear power stations, who earned more than 36 million karbovantsy ($190). The lowest paid were those in state stores, with less than 6 million karbovantsy ($31). -- Ustina Markus FINNISH RESTRICTIONS ON ALCOHOL IMPORTS TO IMPACT ESTONIA. The Finnish parliament's decision on 23 April to limit private alcohol imports is likely to reduce the number of Finns making day trips to Estonia, Western agencies reported. The law, which goes into effect on 1 May, prohibits private individuals from importing alcohol after trips by ferry, car, bus, or rail lasting less than 20 hours. Non-EU residents will also be prevented from bringing alcoholic beverages into Finland if they are staying less than three days in the country. Some ferry companies are planning to organize trips that would leave Helsinki in the evening, reach Tallinn before midnight, sail back to Helsinki without passengers leaving the ship, and return to Tallinn for a second time in the morning. After spending the day in Tallinn, passengers would return to Helsinki after more than 20 hours. -- Saulius Girnius ANOTHER CANDIDATE PROPOSED FOR LATVIAN PRESIDENT. The Council of the Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS) on 24 April nominated Saeima Chairwoman Ilga Kreituse for president, BNS reported. But three other members of the ruling coalition--Latvia's Way, Latvia's National Independence Party, and the Farmers' Union--have expressed their support for incumbent Guntis Ulmanis, whose term of office expires on 7 July. DPS Chairman Ziedonis Cevers said talks on support for Kreituse's candidacy will begin with the Popular Movement for Latvia, the National Harmony Party, and Socialist Party. The DPS's decision not to support Ulmanis could result in the breakup of the ruling coalition and bring down independent Andris Skele's government. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA, LITHUANIAN SEA BORDER TALKS. Juris Sinka, head of the Latvian delegation negotiating the sea border with Lithuania, said that the recent talks in Vilnius with Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Secretary Rimantas Sidlauskas were "satisfactory," BNS reported. The two sides agreed to recognize a 1927 border agreement providing for each country's territorial waters to extend 3 nautical miles from their respective coasts. They agreed to discuss the more controversial questions of the demarcation of economic zones at the next round of talks, to be held in Riga on 6-7 May, during Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas's visit. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PREMIER IN BONN. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz on 24 April said Russia has no right to veto Poland's possible membership in NATO but must be consulted about European security, international agencies reported. On a one-day visit to Bonn for talks with Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Cimoszewicz said he agreed with the German leader that Russia should have a say--but not a decisive one--in the question of NATO enlargement. He also said Poland hopes negotiations on admission to the EU will start in late 1997. Cimoszewicz said there is little doubt that his country will be able to join the EU. He added that the question is when, which largely depends on Poland's progress in implementing economic reforms. -- Steve Kettle CZECH PARLIAMENT FAILS TO RATIFY BORDER TREATY WITH SLOVAKIA. Czech deputies on 24 April failed to pass a constitutional law making changes to the country's border with Slovakia, Czech media reported. The border treaty, already ratified by Slovakia, had been approved by a simple majority one day earlier. But a second vote, requiring a three-fifths majority of all deputies, was needed to implement it. Members of the three government coalition parties and a handful of opposition and independent deputies mustered a total of 109 votes in favor, 11 short of the target. Twenty-nine deputies voted against and 21 abstained. The issue will now be dropped until after the 31 May-1 June elections. A draft constitutional law on reorganizing local administrative districts, submitted by a junior coalition party, was also voted down, mostly by deputies from the dominant Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY CONTINUE DISPUTE OVER OSCE POST. Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman Juraj Matejovsky on 24 April expressed regret over Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gabor Szentivanyi's statement that Slovakia proposed a candidate for OSCE secretary-general to prevent the Hungarian nominee from being elected, Slovak Radio reported. Matejovsky stressed that Slovakia used its "democratic right" when it came up with its own candidate last October. He emphasized that Slovakia has never questioned the "professional qualities" of Hungary's candidate, Istvan Gyarmati. But he added that Gyarmati had not been approved by all the Central European countries and therefore had failed to fulfill "the basic precondition for his election." Other countries also raised "serious reservations" against Gyarmati, Matejovsky said. Budapest officially withdrew his candidacy on 22 April. -- Sharon Fisher REACTIONS TO SLOVAK CABINET'S APPROVAL OF BILL ON FOUNDATIONS. The Third Sector Association on 24 April vowed to continue its campaign against the government's foundations bill, which was approved the previous day, Slovak media reported. Asked by Pravda what she considered the most dangerous provision of the draft law, association member Helena Wolekova said "the law as a whole.... We do not want to live in hypocrisy, as has happened out of necessity to people in state administration and in the business sector. We want to build an open civil society." Wolekova added that the association will turn directly to parliamentary deputies, non- governmental organizations, and the public for support. -- Sharon Fisher KOSOVO MIGRANTS BELIEVED TO HAVE DROWNED IN DANUBE. Hungarian police on 24 April said eight ethnic Albanians from Serbia's Kosovo province are believed to have drowned while attempting to cross the Danube River from Hungary to Slovakia, domestic and international media reported. The migrants were crossing the river in a motorboat when it capsized. Police said the boat was probably carrying twice as many passengers as it was designed for. They have rounded up 11 of the passengers, but eight men are still missing. The smuggling of migrants through Hungary to the West has increased significantly in recent years. Border guards on the Hungarian-Austrian border say they pick up around a dozen migrants every night. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HAGUE COURT FREES SERBIAN GENERAL. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has released on humanitarian grounds Gen. Djordje Djukic, who is dying of pancreatic cancer. The court rejected demands by his lawyer that the charges against Djukic be dropped, Nasa Borba reported on 25 April. The general must keep the court informed of his address and medical condition and must return to The Hague if necessary. He is expected to undergo treatment at the military hospital in Belgrade. Meanwhile, in Bosnia, the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt announced plans for an independent television channel. The nationalist parties' domination of the media is considered a major obstacle to free and fair elections. In Sarajevo, a UN police spokesman charged that Bosnian Serbs in Pale are denying food and medical care to Muslim and Croatian prisoners, Onasa reported on 24 April. -- Patrick Moore RUMP YUGOSLAV FINANCE MINISTER TO COORDINATE TALKS WITH IMF. Jovan Zebic, rump Yugoslav finance minister and deputy federal premier, has been named coordinator for all future talks between rump Yugoslavia and the IMF. Nasa Borba on 25 April quoted National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic, who until now has coordinated all such talks, as saying, "I really don't know what this means. That's something one has to ask [federal Premier Radoje] Kontic and Zebic." Meanwhile, Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, has said that in practice, it means that Avramovic has been removed from his post "but in a profoundly underhand way." -- Stan Markotich KOSOVARS ACCUSE SERBIAN POLICE OF STEPPING UP REPRESSION. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has accused police of increasing repressive measures in Kosovo. Following recent shoot-outs in which a total of six people were killed, police have arrested at least 80 people. The LDK also charged the police with beating up a large number of Albanian civilians and called on the local population to be as cautious as possible. Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova, during a visit to Belgium, emphasized his support for peaceful resistance to Serbian rule in the region, Reuters reported on 24 April. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIA JOINS COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Croatia has become the 40th member of the Council of Europe, Vecernji list stated on 25 April. It will have five permanent seats in the European parliament. International journalists nonetheless called attention to the government's hounding of the independent media and urged the Council to keep up pressure on Zagreb over this issue, Novi list and news agencies reported. Croatia was long denied council membership because of its treatment of the opposition, the independent media, and the Serbian minority. Critics of the government at home and abroad came to feel, however, that it was unfair discrimination against Croatia to keep it out the council following the admission of Russia. -- Patrick Moore SLOVENIAN UPDATE. After lengthy heated debates, Slovenian legislators voted to reject a bill that would have granted foreigners the right to purchase and own real estate in Slovenia. Radio Slovenia reported on 23 April. Deputies also decided to ask the government to prepare a bill protecting the country's environment. -- Stan Markotich EXPERTS DISCUSS EUROPEAN SECURITY IN ROMANIA. At the fifth annual meeting of the Atlantic Policy Advisory Group with NATO's cooperation partners, which ended in Sinaia on 24 April, experts from 32 countries discussed the new risks and challenges for European security, as well as cooperation within the framework of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and NATO's Partnership for Peace Program, Radio Bucharest reported. NATO Deputy Secretary-General for Political Issues Gebhard von Moltke presided over the meeting. The participants agreed that the Russian Federation cannot be left out of a pan-European security system. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN, DNIESTER PRESIDENTS MEET. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 24 April met in Chisinau with the president of the self-proclaimed "Dniester republic," Igor Smirnov, BASA-press and Infotag reported. The meeting was also attended by Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli, Parliamentary Chairman Petru Lucinschi, Dniester Supreme Soviet Chairman Grigorii Marakutsa, as well as OSCE, Russian, and Ukrainian mediators in the Dniester conflict. The participants discussed the future status of the Dniester region but failed to agree on issues such as closer cooperation in the banking and financial sector. The next round of talks between senior officials from Moldova and the breakaway Dniester region has been scheduled for 11 May in Tiraspol. -- Dan Ionescu TRIAL OF BULGARIAN EX-COMMUNIST LEADERS CANCELED. The Prosecutor- General's Office on 24 April canceled the trial of 19 former communist officials charged with diverting state funds, Reuters reported. The functionaries, who include former dictator Todor Zhivkov, were charged in 1993 with diverting hard currency to Yemen and Nicaragua, leftist parties and groups in Bangladesh, Chile, and Honduras and to the Palestinian Liberation Organization between 1981-1989. They also allegedly provided those countries and groups with arms and technical assistance. The trial was canceled because two of the defendants--former Premier Andrey Lukanov and former party leader Aleksandar Lilov--have parliamentary immunity. Since the remaining were charged as accomplices, their cases cannot be treated separately. Lukanov alone was charged with diverting 120 million leva (at the time $60 million). Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev claims that diversion of funds boosted Bulgaria's foreign debt by $1.2 billion from 1986-1989. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN CURRENCY CONTINUES TO PLUNGE. The lev continues to lose rapidly against the U.S. dollar, Western and Bulgarian media reported on 24 April. The Bulgarian National Bank fixed the exchange rate at 83.807 leva to $1, while some exchange offices in Sofia traded the U.S. currency for as much as 90 leva. BNB Governor Lyubomir Filipov declined to say whether the prime interest rate will be raised to defend the lev. Since the end of 1995, it has been raised from 34% to 49%, while the lev lost around 18 percentage points against the U.S. dollar during the same period. Filipov accused the commercial banks of passiveness, saying they should use their hard currency reserves to intervene. Commercial bankers, for their part, accused the BNB of ineffective monetary measures. Dealers said they fear the U.S. dollar may hit the 100 leva mark in the next few days. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN COMMUNIST OFFICIALS ON TRIAL. Five Albanian communist-era officials are on trial, Reuters reported on 24 April. They are charged with political persecution of dissidents and crimes against humanity. Haxhi Lleshi, who was Albanian president from 1953 to 1982 under late dictator Enver Hoxha, was unable to appear in court because of poor health. Also on trial are former Deputy Premier Manush Myftiu, former Deputy Interior Minister Zylyftar Ramizi, former Supreme Court Chairman Aranit Cela, and former Prosecutor-General Rrapi Mino. Two separate trials against nine other communist officials started last week. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS, CENTER PARTIES TO FORM COALITION? The Albanian Socialist Party has said it will join forces with five other center and leftist parties in the upcoming elections, Reuters reported on 24 April. Secretary-General Gramoz Ruci is quoted as saying "We have agreed to cooperate so that the center-left wins." He said that after the elections, "the possibility is open for further cooperation in setting up a government and other matters." The Socialists' aim is to have joint candidates in electoral districts where neither of the parties has its own candidate. Many Socialist and center coalition candidates have recently been banned from running because of their alleged communist past. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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