|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 85, Part II, 30 April 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UPDATE ON UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz said a national referendum was unnecessary to adopt the constitution and it would cost 10 trillion karbovantsy ($52 million), Ukrainian radio reported on 29 April. Meanwhile, Halyna Freeland, the director of a Ukrainian legal foundation, dismissed criticism that the draft constitution was solely the president's creation, pointing out that a constitutional commission made up of 10 people--four appointed by the president, four by parliament, and two by the judiciary--were responsible for the draft. She added that the draft guarantees both legal and political rights, such as the right to vote and freedom of speech. -- Ustina Markus DEMONSTRATORS' TRIALS BEGIN IN BELARUS. Two leaders of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), Yuriy Khodyka and Vintsuk Vyechorka, were charged on 29 April with "instigating mass disorder" by starting a hunger strike to protest their arrest, RFE/RL reported. BPF spokesman Anatoliy Shahun said the arrests were the beginning of a crackdown against the party, which authorities have blamed for organizing the mass march on the 10th anniversary of Chornobyl. The march was also a protest against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. A number of other democratic parties and organizations were, in fact, also active in organizing the demonstration. -- Ustina Markus BELARUS MISSES SECOND CFE DEADLINE. Belarus failed to destroy all its excess conventional weapons by the extended deadline of 26 April, Belapan reported the same day. The original deadline to meet the requirements of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty had been 16 November 1995. Belarus was granted an extension, but when this second deadline passed, Belarus still had 104 armored combat vehicles to destroy. An official of the Defense Ministry, Maj.-Gen. Yuryy Partnow, said that Belarus will be in full compliance with the treaty by the mid- May review conference in Vienna. He also said that Belarus was considering transferring this excess equipment to other countries, as it had done when it supplied 100 T-72 tanks to Hungary. -- Doug Clarke DIPHTHERIA CASES ON THE RISE IN BELARUS. Over the past five years, the number of diphtheria cases in Belarus has risen twelve fold, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. In 1994, 230 diphtheria cases were reported. This jumped to 322 cases in 1995. A mass vaccination campaign is scheduled from 13-23 May. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT STRIPS MEMBER OF IMMUNITY. The parliament on 29 April voted unanimously to strip deputy Heiki Kranich of his parliamentary immunity, ETA reported, He is accused of misuse of power in 1992 when, as head of the now defunct West Estonian Bank's Haapsalu branch, he allegedly interfered in several bank customers' financial deals. Kranich, the deputy chairman of the Reform Party caucus, called the charges "groundless," however he said the loss of immunity was necessary so that the case can be taken to court. -- Saulius Girnius RUSSIAN DUMA DEPUTIES VISIT LATVIA. Vladimir Lukin, the Chairman of the Russian Duma's International Affairs Committee, headed the first official Duma delegation to Latvia since Latvian independence. During the two-day visit that ended on 29 April, the delegation met with representatives of the Saeima, as well as Foreign Affairs and Environmental Protection Ministers Valdis Birkavs and Maris Gailis. Lukin charged that the human rights of Russian-speaking residents in Latvia were not properly observed and criticized the imprisonment of Alfred Rubiks, the Latvian Communist Party's former First Secretary. Lukin said it was clear that Latvia would not become a NATO member soon and its efforts to join the organization only deteriorate relations with Russia. He added that the Russian presidential elections would not seriously influence relations between the two countries. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN PRAISES VISIT TO BELARUS. Ceslovas Jursenas said on 29 April that he hoped his visit to Belarus on 26-27 April will serve to expand the countries' bilateral relations, BNS reported. He exchanged copies of the ratified border agreements with his Belarusian counterpart, Syamyon Sharetsky, which should spur the signing of an agreement on the return of illegal immigrants. He assured Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko that Lithuania would support Belarus's efforts to join the Council of Europe. Jursenas said that the police violence against demonstrators and the arrests of opposition leaders in Minsk that occurred after their meeting will not change his pledge. -- Saulius Girnius JOURNALISTS LEAVE WARSAW PAPER. The Warsaw daily Zycie Warszawy that has been in opposition to the post-communist coalition in power in Poland since 1993 was sold to a businessman, Zbigniew Jakubas. Jakubas declared that the political line of the paper needs to be changed. On 29 April, 29 journalists left the paper claiming that changes in Zycie Warszawy are part of the ruling coalition's offensive against the independence of the Polish media. All the members of the paper's editorial board and all journalists from the domestic political department quit. In other media news, Rzeczpospolita on 30 April announced that Polish TV's new board intends to change directors in the TV Information Agency. -- Jakub Karpinski EX-COMMUNIST SPY ON EX-PREMIER OLEKSY . . . Gen. Marian Zacharski, who accused former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy of espionage, said on 29 April that he stood by his accusation even though military prosecutors decided to drop the case. Himself a communist-era super-spy, Zacharski was sentenced in the U.S. to life imprisonment and then released in 1985. He said in a TV interview that he was "hurt" by the prosecutor's allegations that he had been guided by personal animosity because Oleksy had refused him a government post. He added that the State Protection Office (UOP) had carefully scrutinized and had not questioned the evidence that he and his fellow officers gathered. -- Jakub Karpinski . . . AND OTHER COMMENTS ON THE CASE. Gen. Gromoslaw Czempinski, former UOP chief, said that the decision to turn Oleksy's case over to the Prosecutor's Office was premature. The chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Danuta Waniek, said she found the document in which former President Lech Walesa ordered former Minister of Internal Affairs Andrzej Milczanowski to turn the case over to the Prosecutor's Office, Rzeczpospolita reported on 30 April. -- Jakub Karpinski NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN PRAGUE SAYS NO NEW MEMBERS THIS YEAR. Javier Solana arrived in Prague on 29 April and told Czech leaders that NATO will not admit new members at its December 1996 Council of Ministers meeting, Mlada Fronta Dnes reported. He said, however that NATO will devote 1996 to "individualized dialogues with potential members" and these dialogues will lead to a decision in December on whom to later admit. The Czech Republic is to start such "an individualized dialogue" with NATO in May. -- Jiri Pehe NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL BEGINS VISIT TO SLOVAKIA. Javier Solana on 29 April arrived in Bratislava for a 24-hour visit to discuss NATO expansion, Slovak media reported. A bill on NATO enlargement drafted by the U.S. Congress mentions only the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary as member candidates, however, Solana told Slovak TV that "a consensus of all 16 members" will ultimately determine new NATO membership. He stressed that no country has been deleted from the list of candidates, but he called on Slovakia to prove that it is "a democratic country" that respects the same values as NATO member states. -- Sharon Fisher FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE IN HUNGARY. Richard Holbrooke, during a private visit to Hungary, met on 29 April with Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn, international media reported. Discussions focused on regional security issues and Hungary's role in Bosnian peace efforts. Holbrooke, who continues to serve as an advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton, gave Horn a report on discussions between the U.S. and Russia on NATO expansion in Central and Eastern Europe, RFE/RL reported. They discussed the option to restrict new NATO members to an undefined "political" wing of the organization with no military connections. The talks were part of on-going consultations with all countries that have applied for membership. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN NATIONAL BANK TO CUT PRIME RATE. The Hungarian National Bank on 29 April announced a 1% cut in the prime interest rate effective on 1 May, Hungarian media reported. The bank said economic and financial developments have allowed the reduction, from 27% to 26%. In other news, a Central Statistical Office report showed that consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 27.6% in the first quarter of this year. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE TWO DEAD AND FIVE WOUNDED AS SERBS AMBUSH MUSLIMS. At Lukavica near Doboj, a group of mainly young Muslim adults on 29 April sought to avoid an IFOR roadblock designed to keep the Serbs and Muslims apart and ran through a mine field. Serbs ambushed the Muslims at the other end, and the combination of weapons and mines left two Muslims dead and five wounded, CNN and the International Herald Tribune reported on 30 April. Elsewhere, angry elderly Serbs smashed the windows on buses taking Muslims to visit graves near their former homes in Trnovo, south of Sarajevo in Bosnian Serb territory, the BBC reported on 29 April. Similar incidents took place the previous day when Muslims tried to travel to gravesites around Bosnia for the Bairam holiday. In these cases, the Serbs successfully blocked the Muslims' entry while IFOR troops looked on. The Dayton agreement specifies that there is to be freedom of movement and that refugees have the right to go home. -- Patrick Moore IFOR TOLD NOT TO ARREST WAR CRIMINALS. Dutch IFOR troops have been specifically ordered by their British commanders not to arrest war criminals, the Rotterdam paper NRC Handelsblad stated on 29 April. The story emerged during a visit to Bosnia by Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo, who reportedly said that justice will never be done in Bosnia and that he agreed with the order. A debate has been going on since last summer in the Netherlands over the allegedly cowardly behavior of Dutch UNPROFOR troops at Srebrenica. Last August, the largest single atrocity in Europe since World War II took place there when Serbs massacred at least 5,000 Muslims. IFOR commander, U.S. Adm. Leighton Smith, said that it is not his men's business to catch war criminals: "Hold those who signed [the] Dayton [agreement] responsible [for arresting Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic, Gen. Ratko Mladic and others] and get off IFOR's back," the International Herald Tribune reported on 30 April. The peacekeepers' mandate is not to hunt down war criminals but to detain them if they come into contact with them. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS SOME IFOR MUST GO AFTER DUMPING WASTES. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic visited an IFOR waste dump near Olovo in the U.S. zone in central Bosnia and said that the commanders of the unit responsible must leave the country at once. He charged the units with vandalism by contaminating two hectares of fertile soil and polluting the Stupcanica river, Onasa reported on 29 April. Muratovic added that the damage must be corrected and implied that the U.S. firm involved in waste control in the area was dumping dangerous wastes brought in from elsewhere. There have been periodic reports in the local media suggesting that the peacekeepers have seriously damaged the environment. -- Patrick Moore RUMP YUGOSLAVIA URGES THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE TO DROP SUIT. At the latest round of hearings against rump Yugoslavia for its alleged involvement in genocide, Belgrade's representative, Rodoljub Etinski, urged the International Court of Justice to drop the case, saying his country had nothing to do with the war in neighboring Bosnia. He described the conflict as a civil war fought between rival Muslim, Croat, and Serbian factions. He also said Bosnia seceded illegally from the Yugoslav federation, violating the rights of ethnic Serbs there, which should disqualify the case from the Court's hearings. Bosnian Ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey countered Etinski, saying that Belgrade played a significant role in the war and violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by arming and supporting rebel Serbs, Reuters reported. He added that Belgrade's support for the Dayton peace accord does not exempt rump Yugoslav officials from justice. -- Stan Markotich RUMP YUGOSLAVIA CANCELS DEBT TALKS. Rump Yugoslavia's debt negotiating team, led by federal Finance Minister Jovan Zebic, abruptly canceled a 29 April New York meeting with representatives of the London Club of Bankers, Nasa Borba reported the following day. The meeting was to have focused on the distribution of assets among the successor states of socialist Yugoslavia. Representatives of international banks were reportedly stunned by Belgrade's cancellation. Zebic forwarded a letter to his team stating that "conditions are not yet opportune [for talks]." -- Stan Markotich SERBIA REFUSES ALBANIAN CITIZENS RIGHT TO RETURN. The Serbian Helsinki Committee accused Serbian authorities of refusing rump-Yugoslav citizens of Albanian origin entry into the country, Reuters reported on 29 April. The committee pointed out that the Albanians had valid passports. The protest was issued after a group of 11 Kosovar Albanians were refused entry at the Pristina airport. They were re-directed to Belgrade's airport and also refused entry there. Similar cases have been reported since December 1995. In other news, Kosovar Shadow State Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi sent a letter to EU President Susanna Agnelli warning that the increasing violence in the region may force ethnic Albanians to "take additional measures" to defend themselves. He urged the EU to apply pressure on Belgrade to "stop its provocations." -- Fabian Schmidt BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER RULES OUT RUSSIAN VETO ON NATO EXPANSION. Zhan Videnov on 29 April said Russia cannot be allowed to veto former Socialist countries' aspirations to join NATO, AFP reported. On the first day of a two-day visit to Vienna, Videnov said that Bulgaria does not see Russia as a potential threat to its national security, but that NATO enlargement and the building of a new European security system are "processes in which no country should veto anything." Videnov warned that NATO enlargement should be "very well thought-out beforehand" so as not to create a "deficit in security or new tensions." Videnov added that there is no prospect of Bulgaria joining Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan in a process of closer association with Russia. -- Stefan Krause MEDIA LICENSES TO BE REVIEWED IN BULGARIA. The Committee for Posts and Telecommunications (KPD) on 29 April announced that all private and foreign TV and radio stations, cable networks, and providers of other related services will have to apply for new licenses by 5 July, Demokratsiya reported. The KPD will reconfirm or revoke existing licenses within six months after the deadline. A government decree empowers KPD to restrict licenses "for reasons connected to public interest" and revoke them "in the case of actions violating public interest." The decree also lets KPD Chairman Lyubomir Kolarov personally decide which licenses are renewed. Informed sources say that some cable TV network operators will lose their licenses. RFE/RL and Darik Radio may also not receive renewals because of the stations' critical positions on the Socialist government. -- Stefan Krause NEW PRICE HIKES IMMINENT IN BULGARIA. The government on 29 April decided to raise the prices of petroleum, oil, and natural gas by 1-13%, Demokratsiya and Pari reported. The new prices become effective on 1 May. The same day, electricity prices will go up by 41%. Standart reported that a 15-20% price increase for drinking water is also expected to be announced this week. Chairman of the National Commission for Prices Dimitar Grivekov told 24 chasa that the new fuel prices are due to high crude oil prices on the international market and the strong U.S. dollar. Meanwhile, Krastyo Petkov, chairman of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, in a letter to Prime Minister Videnov published in Trud, blamed the cabinet, writing it has "led Bulgaria into new financial bankruptcy." -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN FLEET ON STRIKE IN DURRES. Albanian trade fleet workers in Durres have gone on strike, demanding 20% of the profit from a recent sale of 25 ships. The sale was a step toward privatizing the fleet, but the workers are claiming profit-sharing rights as shareholders in the fleet. Head of the government privatization agency, Niko Glozheni said the law is unclear on the workers' share-holding rights. The workers are now demanding that the State Control Commission investigate the case, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 30 April. -- 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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