|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
No. 91, Part II, 10 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 MORE CLASHES IN BELARUS . . . OMON forces clashed with veterans in Minsk when the latter displayed the red-and-white Belarusian flag instead of the Soviet-style flag that replaced it following last year's referendum, Ekho Moskvy and Russian TV reported on 9 May. The veterans were laying flowers at the city's war memorial. The OMON command justified the action by saying that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree allowing only the Soviet-type flag to be used in Victory Day celebrations. -- Ustina Markus . . . WHILE U.S. CRITICIZES MINSK. U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said that Washington has repeatedly raised the issue of human rights violations in Belarus with the Belarusian government and its embassy in Washington, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 10 May. He said the case of opposition leader Yuriy Khadyka, who was arrested during the 26 April demonstrations and has been on a hunger strike since 28 April, has been raised several times. Belarus was criticized for human rights violations in almost every category included in the latest annual global human rights report compiled by the U.S. The report pointed, among other things, to the accumulation of power in the president's hands, his refusal to work with the parliament, and his use of KGB and Interior Ministry troops against the opposition. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT PROMISES TO SETTLE WAGE DEBT. Ukrainian Finance Minister Petro Hermanchuk announced earlier this week that the government will settle its wage debt by the end of May, UNIAN reported. The official said the National Bank of Ukraine will be forced to print unbacked currency to cover some of the wage arrears, which stood at 42 trillion karbovantsi ($227 million) as of 28 April. He said the government would issue securities and use some foreign aid to cover the rest. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament voted to form an ad hoc commission to examine the government debt for back wages, pensions, and stipends, which now totals 124 trillion karbovantsi, Holos Ukrainy reported on 8 May. The regions where the debt crisis is most severe are Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, and Rivne. -- Chrystyna Lapychak NEW PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS IN UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Vice Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy as commander of the Ukrainian navy and deputy defense minister, Ukrainian TV reported on 8 May. He named Gen. Volodymyr Mykhtiuk deputy defense minister and appointed a well-known reformer, Volodymyr Lanovy, as his adviser on economic policy. The president also selected Oleh Dyomin, deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, to head the Kharkiv region administration. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN DEMOCRATS SET UP INFORMAL CAUCUS. Sixty-eight lawmakers, primarily national democrats, have formed a new informal caucus called Nuremberg-2, UNIAR reported on 6 May. Their aim is to organize a symbolic international trial on crimes committed by the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Communist Party of Ukraine. The legislators plan to use the caucus to collect evidence, hold public hearings and conferences, and maintain links with parliaments of other former Soviet republics. The group is headed by former political prisoners Lev Lukianenko and Yevhen Proniuk as well as the well-known cultural activist Les Taniuk. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE, RUSSIA APPROVE DRAFT ON MISSILE HAND-OVER. Ukraine and Russia have approved a draft agreement on the hand-over to Russia of strategic missiles and launchers stored in Ukraine's arsenals, Rossiiskiye vesti reported on 7 May. Under the agreement, Ukraine will transfer to Russia by the end of June ten SS-19 missiles as well as all the equipment required to launch them. For its part, Russia will finance warranty inspections and pay for servicing at strategic missile facilities in Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus MORE INFORMATION RELEASED ON RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT EXPELLED FROM ESTONIA. Estonian officials on 9 May revealed that the police had gathered evidence that Sergei Andreev, economic adviser to the Russian embassy in Tallinn, was involved in spy activities, BNS reported. They filmed him paying Tonu Randla, former adviser to the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, $1,000 for documents. Randla had informed the Defense Police about Andreev's requests for the documents, which did not contain anything classified. It was also revealed that Andreev had been expelled from Finland in 1990 for similar spy activities. Meanwhile, the Estonian Foreign Ministry has protested continued claims by the Russia's Federal Security Service that Estonia's volunteer defense force, Kaitseliit, sold weapons to the Irish Republican Army and Russian criminals. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES NOT TO SEND CONDOLENCES FOR DUDAEV . . . The Saeima on 9 May decided not to consider the draft resolution on sending condolences to the Chechen people on the death of their president Dzhokhar Dudaev, BNS reported. National Harmony Party Chairman Janis Jurkans said although he was "emotionally indignant" about the death, sending condolences would hinder Latvia's relations with Russia. A total of 33 deputies, nevertheless, signed a document addressed to the Chechen people expressing their sadness at his death and expressing their readiness to aid "those who fight for the freedom and independence of their motherland." Deputies who voted against the resolution were not asked to sign this document. -- Saulius Girnius . . . WHILE POLISH SEJM PAYS TRIBUTE TO HIM. Polish deputies paid tribute to Dzhokhar Dudaev on 8 May as Speaker Jozef Zych was reading out a motion from the opposition Confederation for an Independent Poland to hold a minute of silence to honor "the heroic death of the president of the Chechen Republic." Rather than wait for Zych to finish reading out the justification for the motion and call a vote, some deputies rose to their feet and most others followed suit, including the speaker. Zych commented that "further justification is pointless" and moved on to the next point. Some members of the coalition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) remained seated, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER ON EU. Vaclav Klaus, speaking at an election rally in Neratovice on 9 May, said he wanted the Czech Republic to enter the EU but "not like a sugar cube thrown into coffee, where it dissolves," Rude pravo reported. Klaus noted he did not wish to be a citizen of Europe 10 or 20 years from now. "I want to remain a Czech citizen and pay Czech taxes," said Klaus. He added that he is opposed to a common European currency because "Czech citizens would wind up paying common taxes not in Prague, but in Brussels." -- Jiri Pehe CZECH PRESIDENT THREATENED WITH ASSASSINATION LAST YEAR. Vaclav Havel's office received a letter in 1995 threatening an assassination attempt on the president in revenge for his stance on the Bosnian conflict, Czech TV reported on 9 May. The authors of the letter claimed to belong to the fundamentalist Islamic Jihaad. A spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs told Czech TV that the police regularly gather information on "people of Arab origin and firms with Arab participation" based in the Czech Republic. According to the spokesman, some of these firms are helping people from Algeria to settle in the Czech Republic, "many of whom could be members of fundamentalist organizations." -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAKS DROP DISPUTED ADDITIONS TO HUNGARIAN TREATY. The Slovak Foreign Ministry on 9 May said the Slovak-Hungarian friendship treaty will be ratified without an appendix added by Slovak nationalists, Reuters reported the same day. The Slovak parliament approved the treaty in March, one year after Prime Ministers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn had signed it. But it also added a statement that it did not recognize collective rights for Slovakia's Hungarian minority. President Michal Kovac signed the treaty on 6 May following further diplomatic consultations between the two countries. Foreign Ministry spokesman Juraj Matejovsky said the final exchange of documents will consist only of the original treaty and Kovac's approval of it. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK OFFICIAL ACCUSES BUDAPEST OF "SMEAR CAMPAIGN." Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman Juraj Matejovsky on 9 May claimed that Hungary is conducting a "smear campaign" against Slovakia over the nomination of the OSCE secretary-general, Hungarian dailies reported. Matejovsky was responding to Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs's statement that the Slovak candidate for the post was named after the official deadline for nominations expired. Matejovsky commented that neither an official nor unofficial deadline existed. He also noted that Hungarian politicians are deliberately remaining silent about the fact that Istvan Gyarmati, who was named for the post, had a Polish rival in addition to the Slovak one. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry last month withdrew Gyarmati's nomination following Slovak protests. Most other OSCE countries supported his nomination. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY'S COALITION PARTNERS STILL AT ODDS OVER INVESTIGATIVE OFFICE. The Hungarian cabinet on 9 May put off a decision on establishing a central investigative office, Hungarian dailies reported. Prime Minister Gyula Horn has proposed such an office, which is expected to cost up to 800 million forints ($5.3 million). Junior coalition partner Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) ministers continued to express opposition, while Socialist ministers voted in favor of the project. Following the vote, the cabinet instructed Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze (SZDSZ) to come up with a new proposal. The SZDSZ is against further enlarging the state apparatus and says the office--which would come under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister's Office--would resemble the former state security service. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UNHCR REJECTS DEADLINE FOR RETURN OF REFUGEES. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, at the end of her visit to Bosnia on 9 May, said that it is unrealistic to set dates for the return of refugees. At best, she expects that about 500,000 people can go home this year, most of whom are currently in the region. The UNHCR earlier wanted to resettle in 1996 about 900,000 of the 2.4 million refugees and displaced persons. Germany, Slovenia, and some other countries have set down timetables for the refugees' return based on the schedules envisioned in the Dayton agreement. The civilian portions of that treaty have been so unevenly implemented, however, that resettlement plans based on it are less than realistic. Austria has extended the deadline for refugees to leave there from June 1996 to August 1997, Reuters noted. -- Patrick Moore WAR CRIMES UPDATE. The OSCE has said that the continued presence of indicted war criminals on Bosnian territory is a great potential danger to the elections, which the Dayton treaty says must be held by mid- September. The OSCE's current chairman, Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti, argued that "the fact that [indicted war criminals] remain complicates the process of creating a climate without violence and intimidation, which is a pre-requisite for the holding of elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina," Reuters reported on 9 May. In The Hague, some charges have been dropped against Dusan Tadic, the Bosnian Serb who is the first indicted war criminal to stand trial. Potential witnesses have been intimidated into not testifying, international media noted. Tadic will soon have company in his prison, however, because Zejnil Delalic was handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 8 May, Onasa reported the next day. He was arrested in Munich in March and is the first Muslim to be sent to The Hague. His lawyer is Edina Residovic, who was the public attorney at the 1983 Bosnian trial of "Islamic fundamentalists." -- Patrick Moore U.S. WARNS SERBIA OVER KOSOVO. Secretary of State Warren Christopher warned Serbia on 9 May that the U.S. will maintain an "outer wall" of sanctions until the situation in Kosovo markedly improved. This could mean blocking Belgrade's membership in the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, and the OSCE. At a meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi in Washington, Christopher expressed concern over the rising violence in the region. He also noted that the U.S. wants to proceed rapidly with the opening of a U.S. Information Agency office in Pristina. -- Fabian Schmidt MAJOR STRIKES IN SERBIAN INDUSTRIAL CENTER. Up to 15, 000 workers took to the streets in Nis on 9 May for the second consecutive day in what is the most serious workers' protest in Serbia for at least three years, Nasa Borba reported. Employees from the electronics group El-Nis (consisting of 42 companies) have said they will continue to strike until their demands for wage payments and a share in the companies are met. According to Reuters, some workers have received no pay since December 1995. National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic has said he supports the workers' protest, adding that the government likely faces prolonged labor unrest if the demands are not met. * Stan Markotich CROATIAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS SUES VJESNIK FOR LIBEL. Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, head of the Croatian branch of the Helsinki Committee human rights group, on 9 May filed a libel suit against the country's main state-run paper over accusations that he worked for the former Yugoslav secret police (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 May 1996), Reuters reported. Cicak also met with visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jose Ayala-Lasso to report on alleged abuses in Croatia, which is expected to gain membership in the Council of Europe at its ministerial meeting on 15 May, Novi list reported. One condition for its acceptance into that body is freedom of the media. Reporters Without Borders noted in a recent letter to the Council of Europe "a toughening of pressure against independent media since Croatia's admission into the Council of Europe," Reuters reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT IN FRANCE. Kiro Gligorov and Macedonian Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski have met with their French counterparts, Jacques Chirac and Herve de Charette, in Paris, Reuters reported on 9 May. Chirac said he supported both a rapprochement between the EU and Skopje and an EU association agreement with Macedonia. He also supported NATO membership of Macedonia Talks focused on a cooperation and trade agreement. Gligorov signed the Paris Charter for a new Europe, which includes a commitment by signatory states that they will not use force to change their international borders. The charter was adopted in 1989 by 34 member countries of the CSCE. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN PREMIER'S DUTCH VISIT. Nicolae Vacaroiu, during a two-day official visit to Holland earlier this week, met with his Dutch counterpart, Wim Kok, and the chairmen of the two chambers of parliament. He was also received by Queen Beatrix. Vacaroiu discussed improving bilateral economic relations, including boosting Dutch investments in Romania, and opened a Romanian information office in Amsterdam. He told Radio Bucharest that Dutch investments are the fifth largest in Romania and that trade between the two countries grew by 60% last year, reaching about $500 million. He added that he hoped overall trade will reach $1 billion by the end of 1996. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVA RECEIVES WORLD BANK LOAN FOR AGRICULTURE. The World Bank on 8 May announced it has approved a $10 million loan to support Moldova's efforts to boost agricultural exports and increase farmer's incomes, RFE/RL reported. The funds will be used mainly to help develop higher- quality grape varieties, improve wine-making procedures, and create more efficient management structures for future projects. An estimated total of $18.5 million is required for this first project, with additional funding coming from the Moldovan government. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN NATIONAL BANK RAISES INTEREST RATE AMID DEEPENING FINANCIAL CRISIS. The Bulgarian National Bank on 9 May raised its basic lending rate from 67% to 108%, Bulgarian and international media reported. At the same time, it increased its fixing of the lev from 112.84 to 122.56 to $1, while foreign exchange bureaus quoted the lev at 150-160. Savers responded by withdrawing their deposits from banks, and shops stated prices in dollars. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov noted that the government would soon announce the liquidation of firms whose combined losses account for 25% of total enterprise losses. Bulgaria also wants to sell 25% of the national telecommunications company. An IMF mission is currently in Sofia to determine whether progress on structural reform merits awarding a standby credit to support the lev. IMF Bulgaria mission chief Ann McGirk noted that progress was being made at the negotiations, but local observers fear that the government's indecisiveness will cause hyperinflation. -- Michael Wyzan MONARCH TO BE ALLOWED TO RETURN TO BULGARIA. Bulgaria's former King Simeon II will be allowed to return to Bulgaria some 50 years after leaving the country, Bulgarian media reported on 9 May. The 58-year-old Simeon abdicated in 1946 and now lives in Spain. Authorities have renewed the ex-monarch's passport, and he plans to return to his native Bulgaria for "a private visit." A spokesperson for Simeon said recent reports in Bulgarian papers alleging that the king wants to return to power are false. -- Stan Markotich [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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