|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 86, Part II, 02 May 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 MAY DAY DEMONSTRATIONS IN UKRAINE. Several thousand communists and democrats demonstrated at separate gatherings on May Day in Kyiv, Russian Public TV reported on 1 May. Authorities gave seven political parties permission to rally in Kyiv, designating their rallies to different sections of the city to avoid conflict. Both leftists and democrats criticized the government at their respective demonstrations, but there were no outbreaks of violence. Radio Mayak reported that 8,000 people in Simfereopol also demonstrated. -- Ustina Markus MINSK COURTS TRY OPPOSITIONISTS. Judges sentenced participants in the 26 April demonstrations in Minsk to five to 10-day prison terms, Reuters and Belapan reported on 30 April. In all, 204 people were detained. Some reports stated that authorities mistreated the prisoners by not giving them food or water and by keeping lights on at night so they could not sleep. Seventeen Ukrainians were among those arrested, and Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko sent a memorandum to Ukraine's Foreign Ministry charging the demonstrators with participating in destabilizing actions, ITAR-TASS reported. Opposition parties signed a statement denouncing the dictatorial regime in the country and calling upon all democratic forces to unite against the country's leadership. The Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin to exert his influence to stop "flagrant human rights violations in Belarus." -- Ustina Markus MAYDAY DEMONSTRATIONS IN MINSK. Up to 50,000 people demonstrated in Minsk on 1 May, the majority protesting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's leadership, international agencies reported. Communists and the official Federation of Trade Unions were also present to celebrate Labor Day. Security forces were stationed around Independence Square, and the rally did not turn violent. The demonstration was the fourth mass action since 24 March condemning Lukashenka's policies. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS LAND REFORM LAW. The parliament adopted on 30 April a law aimed at speeding up land reform, BNS and ETA reported. The law, which makes amendments to 15 laws and other acts, was debated for four months with more than a thousand changes proposed. The law grants land users privileged rights of purchase and limits bidding. Permanent residents of Estonia can buy the plots where their houses and summer cottages are located at half the established market price. Buyers can purchase land in installments over a five-year period for purchases exceeding 25,000 kroons ($2,000), up to a 15-year period for purchases exceeding 5 million kroons. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN GOVERNMENT PROLONGS RESIDENCE PERMITS FOR 76 RUSSIAN MILITARY RETIREES. The government on 30 April prolonged the residence permits of 76 Russian military retirees from 1 May until 1 September, BNS reported. In 1994, officers who retired after 28 January 1992 and their families were originally required to depart along with the Russian army, but because no housing was available for the retirees in Russia, the Latvian government allowed them to remain. As many as 22,320 Russian military retirees have the right to stay in Latvia, but 3,200 of them have chosen to leave the country. -- Saulius Girnius OPINION POLL IN LITHUANIA. A poll taken in April by the Lithuanian- British joint venture Baltic Surveys revealed that the share of respondents expressing trust in emigre Valdas Adamkus, a potential presidential candidate, rose to 54%, a 5% increase since March, Radio Lithuania reported on 30 April. Seimas Deputy Chairman Egidijus Bickauskas, who formerly led popularity polls, is trusted by 51% of the respondents. Trust in President Algirdas Brazauskas declined by 4%, to 39%. When asked which party they would vote for if parliament elections were held that day, 19.9% of respondents said they would not vote and 26.6% said that they did not know. The most popular party remained the Christian Democrats with 13.6% of the support, a 2.2% increase since March. The popularity of the Conservatives declined by 1.3%, while the ruling Democratic Labor Party fell to fifth place with 5.3%, falling behind the Center Union (7.5%) and the Women's Party (5.7%). -- Saulius Girnius YOUNG RIGHTISTS DISRUPT MAY DAY EVENTS IN POLAND. Young rightists flung fireworks and eggs during a May Day march in Warsaw sponsored by Poland's leftist parties (the Social Democracy of Poland (SdRP), the All-Poland Trade Union Alliance (OPZZ) and the Polish Socialist Party), international media reported on 1 May. Several thousand people gathered for the march. The demonstrators broke through police ranks, shouting "Poland's shame" and "Commies out." Police detained several of the demonstrators. Similar clashes occurred in Poznan and Krakow. Ex- communist leader Jozef Oleksy, who heads the SdRP, accused rightist politicians of kindling historical animosities and hatred during the celebrations. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz POLAND TO DECIDE ON WEAPONS DEPLOYMENT IN TALKS WITH NATO. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati on 1 May said at a meeting with his Danish counterpart, Niels Helveg Petersen, that Poland will not make any promises on nuclear weapons deployment prior to talks with NATO, international media reported the same day. Rosati said it is now unnecessary for Poland to have nuclear weapons within its borders as he 'sees no threat,' however, he reaffirmed Poland's commitment to joining NATO. The talks were held just before a major forum of the Council of Baltic States scheduled to begin later in the week. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz MAN TIED TO KIDNAPPING CASE OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON KILLED IN EXPLOSION. Interior Ministry spokesman Peter Ondera told TASR on 30 April that Robert Remias died when his BMW exploded the previous night on the outskirts of Bratislava. Ondera said the explosion probably resulted from a breakdown in the car's propane-fueled engine. Jaroslav Simunic, a former police investigator who was fired from the Kovac Jr. case last September after announcing his suspicions of involvement by the Slovak Information Service, claims that Remias was murdered. An editor of the daily Sme, Peter Toth, told the RFE/RL Slovak Service that Remias, a former policeman, was a close friend of Oskar F., a key witness in the Kovac Jr. case who is now in hiding. Remias was Oskar F.'s intermediary with the outside world, Toth said. Toth added that he and Remias were being followed by the same cars. -- Sharon Fisher NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL ON SLOVAKIA'S POTENTIAL MEMBERSHIP. Javier Solana said during his 30 April visit to Slovakia that the country is still a candidate for NATO membership, international media reported. He added that "the alliance consists of countries that share the values of democracy, of respect of human rights, [and] of the protection of minorities," and that Slovakia must uphold these values to become a member. He told President Kovac that it is too early to "classify" countries; however, consideration of individual candidates will be completed at the end of the year. After meeting with Solana, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar emphasized that there are no obstacles to Slovakia's membership. However, visiting Slovakia on 30 April, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke warned Meciar that completing the Slovak-Hungarian treaty's ratification process is an essential condition for further discussions on Slovakia's NATO membership. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER, GOVERNMENT'S POPULARITY RISE IN POLLS. Gyula Horn's popularity rose nine points in April while his government's rating reached its highest point since the introduction of austerity measures more than a year ago, Hungarian media reported on 2 May. In a poll conducted by the Sonda-Ipsos agency, Horn rose to 55% from 46% a month earlier, gaining personal support even from people who said they would not vote for his Socialist Party. The government as a whole received a 53.4% rating, up from 51.1% in March. Officials of the polling organization said the rise in the government's popularity was likely influenced by the recent change of finance ministers and antipathy created when the leader of the opposition Smallholders' Party made a controversial speech in mid-March. -- Steve Kettle SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN REFUGEE INCIDENT TO BE INVESTIGATED. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic and the speaker of the Bosnian Assembly Momcilo Krajisnik agreed to begin a criminal investigation into the killing of two Muslim refugees, who were killed after entering Serbian held territory on 29 April. The meeting was mediated by the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt, Onasa reported on 1 May. Bildt's office and the international police deployed in Bosnia will meet with interior ministers from both sides. Muratovic and Krajisnik also agreed to give the UNHCR full support to organize visits of refugees to their respective hometowns. IFOR, meanwhile, said that freedom of movement is one of the crucial segments in the Dayton peace accord and its obstruction constitutes a violation of human rights. -- Fabian Schmidt ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED FOR MOSTAR. The EU administrator for Mostar Ricardo Perez Casado announced that town elections will be held 31 May, Onasa reported on 1 May. Lists of candidates are to be finalized by 10 May. Elsewhere, the International Federation of Journalists has pledged financial aid to the independent media in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure accurate information during the pre-election period later this year. The federation's General Manger Aidan White said that the elections will be the best test of the quality of Bosnian journalism. Aid will consist of technical equipment and seminars. Meanwhile, the Reporters Without Borders has protested an incident in late April when two journalists from Austria and Novi Sad were restricted in the Republika Srpska. -- Fabian Schmidt BELGRADE RELEASES MUSLIM PRISONERS. Belgrade authorities finally released five Muslim refugees on 1 May, following a series of protests from the international community, Reuters reported the same day. The five were among some 800 refugees who fled to Serbia from Bosnia after Bosnian Serb forces captured the Bosnian Muslim "safe havens" of Srebrenica and Zepa in the summer of 1995. According to rump Yugoslav authorities, the refugees were war crimes suspects, and thus were incarcerated. With the release of the five, rump Yugoslavia reportedly no longer detains any Bosnian Muslims who fled to Serbia following the collapse of Srebrenica and Zepa. Reuters also noted that the UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) chartered the plane that flew the five freed refugees home. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN UN AMBASSADOR SAYS BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL PROVIDES LINK TO BELGRADE. Muhamed Sacirbey said before the International Court of Justice on 1 May that Bosnian Serb logistics General Djorde Djukic is a "smoking gun" between Belgrade and its involvement in Serb genocide campaigns conducted in Bosnia, Reuters reported the same day. According to Sacirbey, Djukic, who was held at The Hague on war crimes charges but released because of ill-health, is "the connection between the Belgrade regime and the so-called Bosnian Serb army." Belgrade continues to assert that it was never involved in the Bosnian conflict, and that the court should drop Bosnia's case against Belgrade. The Bosnian government, however, asserts that Belgrade violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by arming and encouraging Bosnian Serbs' efforts. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN PREMIER ON RELATIONS WITH BELGRADE. After his visit to the U.S., Milo Djukanovic gave an interview to Montenegrin state radio and TV in which he indicated a desire to mend relations between his republic and Belgrade. Montena-fax on 30 April reported that Djukanovic approved of, what he dubbed, a change in Belgrade's position vis-a-vis the IMF. Relations with the IMF has been one issue of public disagreement between Djukanovic and the federal authorities under Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's control. -- Stan Markotich U.S. OFFERS MEDIATION IN KOSOVO ESCALATION. A U.S. State Department delegation visited Kosovo on 1 May offering to mediate in the Kosovo conflict, ATSH reported. The delegation was headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for former Yugoslavia Rudolph Perina and met with Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova. Perina expressed concern about recent shoot-outs in which six people died and five were injured and stressed the need for a non-violent solution. He added that since the Dayton agreement was signed, Kosovo has priority on the U.S. diplomatic agenda in the Balkans. Negotiations between Belgrade and the shadow-state remain in a deadlock due to the Serbs' rejection to negotiate under international mediation. -- Fabian Schmidt MACEDONIA, RUMP-YUGOSLAVIA SIGN AIR TRAFFIC ACCORD. Rump Yugoslav Minister of Transport Zoran Vujovic and his Macedonian counterpart, Dimitar Buzlevski, signed and agreement resuming air traffic between both countries beginning this month. Following both countries' mutual recognition on 8 April, Macedonia will take full control of the air space above its territory from 7 November this year. The agreement will be finalized in Belgrade on 20 May. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIA WARNS AGAINST IMPORTED TERRORISM. A senior security force official warned that Romania is being increasingly used as a channel for "terrorists" from the Middle East and Asia, Reuters reported on 30 April. Gen. Gheorghe Aradavoaice, deputy head of the Protection and Guard Service (SPP), told journalists that "Romania has become a bridge between terrorist organizations in Asia and the Arab world and their branches in some western European countries." The statement, made on SPP's sixth anniversary, echoes warnings from the annual report of the Romanian Intelligence Service that Kurdish and Islamic extremists are based in Romania. However, Reuters quoted Western diplomats as saying that the country has a plethora of security services that suffer from inter-agency competition and are striving to justify their existence. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIANS RALLY FOR, AGAINST GOVERNMENT ON MAY DAY. Around 12,000 supporters of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 1 May rallied in support of the government, Bulgarian and Western media reported. Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov at the rally accused President Zhelyu Zhelev, the opposition, and the trade unions of destabilizing the country and leading it into a new economic crisis. Also in central Sofia, several thousand people attended an anti- government rally organized by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB) and the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa." KNSB Chairman Krastyo Petkov called on the cabinet to "stop the anti- social policy" and resign. Podkrepa leader Konstantin Trenchev at a rally in Kazanlak said Bulgaria "is facing a national catastrophe." -- Stefan Krause PREMIER ADMITS BULGARIA NEEDS IMF CREDITS TO REPAY DEBTS. Zhan Videnov on 30 April said Bulgaria needs a new debt agreement with the IMF in order to meet foreign debt payments due in three months, RFE/RL and AFP reported. Following a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky in Vienna, Videnov said Bulgaria "will be able to meet its repayments this year" but added that it needs an agreement on stand-by credits from the IMF. Bulgaria and the IMF have failed to reach an agreement so far this year, mainly because of Sofia's failure to resolve the problems of unprofitable state enterprises and insolvent state and private banks. Videnov conceded that Bulgaria will have to "drastically reduce the number of unprofitable state enterprises." Bulgaria's external debt totals nearly $11 billion. More than $1 billion is due this year, but Bulgaria's foreign currency reserves only hold $720 million. -- Stefan Krause NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS ALBANIA. Javier Solana called Albania a "very important" part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, after arriving in Tirana for a two-day visit on 1 May, AFP reported. Solana discussed deepening Albanian NATO cooperation with President Sali Berisha, who repeated his country's determination to become a full NATO member. Berisha said Albania was a small but determined and strategically important ally. Both men expressed concern over developments in Kosovo, and Berisha called this "the most serious crisis facing the Balkans." Solana stressed the need for OSCE monitors in the region, who were expelled by Belgrade in summer 1993. Berisha, after the meeting announced that some 40 Albanian soldiers will join German IFOR units in Croatia. Albanians have trained in the U.S. for peacekeeping missions since summer 1995. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN UPDATE. A dispute has developed between the opposition and the ruling Democrats about TV broadcasting time given to the respective parties before the 26 May elections. The electoral commission has allotted the the ruling Democrats with as much broadcasting time as all other opposition parties received together. The opposition complained that state TV covered the Democrats' election rallies in-depth for 30 minutes, while a comparable Socialist rally only received 30 seconds of air-time. Earlier this week, police broke into a Socialist party office in Tepelena removed the party's flag from the balcony and tore down posters. Elsewhere, police detained two people in Cerrik for writing Socialist slogans inside their shop, Koha Jone reported. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS SAY THEY HAD WARNED WESTERN LEADERS. The Socialist Party published a letter its imprisoned leader Fatos Nano wrote to world leaders in October 1995. In the letter, Nano claims that "the government's arbitrary actions against the opposition and the independence of the courts have increased so much that they actually threaten the process of the free, democratic elections." In other news, German former President Richard von Weizsaecker during a visit to Albania praised the country's success in developing democracy and market reforms, Reuters reported on 1 May. -- 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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