|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 92, Part II, 13 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 UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES DECREE ON TIMELY WAGE PAYMENT. Leonid Kuchma issued a decree on 12 May aimed at ensuring timely payment of wages, pensions, and stipends by the government and state-owned enterprises, Ukrainian TV reported. The decree stipulates that ministers as well as enterprise managers will be fired if they fail to pay salaries on time. In another decree, Kuchma ordered the State Committee on TV and Radio to launch within 10 days regular broadcasts featuring discussion on the draft basic law by Constitutional Committee members, national and local lawmakers, government officials, legal experts and representatives of civic organizations, Ukrainian radio reported. Kuchma also issued a decree establishing a national athletic training institution to support athletes training for the Olympics and other international sports competitions. Financial support will come from the Kyiv-based "Republican Stadium" company. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST MURDERED. Police in Cherkasy, in central Ukraine, found the body of a well-known Ukrainian journalist, Ihor Hrushetsky, lying in the street near his home, Ukrainian TV reported on 10 May. Police said Hrushetsky died from a blow to the head and have launched an investigation. Colleagues believe Hrushetsky may have been murdered for his articles on political corruption published in such newspapers as Nezavisimost and the now-defunct Respublika. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY WANTS BLACK SEA BORDER FINALIZED. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has asked Russia to speed up the clarification of the Black Sea border between Russia and Ukraine, NTV reported on 10 May. The request was spurred by the discovery of new gas and oil reserves in the Black Sea shelf. Ukraine wants the border delineated to legalize the ownership of planned drilling sites. Foreign companies have already expressed interest in the reserves. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION APPOINTS NEW ACTING LEADER . . . The Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) appointed Yuriy Belenky acting Chairman during the absence of its leader Zyanon Paznyak, Belapan reported on 10 May. Belenky was a former parliamentary deputy and a BPF deputy leader. Paznyak fled the country in March after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He returned to Minsk for the 26 April demonstrations but then went into hiding. -- Ustina Markus . . . AND CALLS ON POLICE TO DISOBEY ILLEGAL ORDERS. The BPF issued an appeal to the police, courts, and Prosecutor's Office not to obey any illegal orders from Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belapan reported on 9 May. The appeal accused those who carried out such orders of "currying favor with Lukashenka," and states that Lukashenka is not governing the country democratically. It alleges that the courts are passing illegal sentences, police are provoking peaceful demonstrators, and false grounds are being concocted to ban opposition parties. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE, ESTONIA SIGN TAX AGREEMENTS. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and his Estonian counterpart, Tiit Vahi, in Tallinn on 10 May signed agreements on avoiding double taxation and tax evasion, BNS reported. Both countries' justice and communication ministers also signed cooperation agreements. Vahi said he regretted that the free- trade agreement between Estonia and Ukraine, which has been in effect since 14 March, has not been implemented since many Ukrainian border officers are allegedly unaware of the document. Marchuk told Estonian President Lennart Meri that he was impressed with Estonia's economic reforms and might use them as a model in Ukraine. He also thanked Estonia for supporting Ukraine's entry into the Council of Europe and confirmed mutual interests in joining other European organizations. -- Saulius Girnius HEAD OF ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN CITIZENS' UNION CHARGED WITH TREASON. Estonian Security Police (ESP) on 10 May started criminal proceedings for treason against Yuri Mishin, the head of Narva's Union of Russian Citizens, ETA and BNS reported. The charge is liable to a penalty of 10 years imprisonment, but Mishin, who is a Russian citizen, is more likely to be expelled as was Petr Rozhok, the head of the Estonian chapter of Russian Liberal Democratic Party, for similar charges. The Estonian press reported that Mishin is accused of urging people at an anti-Estonia rally on 1 May to attack the Narva border check-point. However, Mishin claims he only wanted to draw attention to the difficulties that Russian citizens will encounter after 12 July when their former Soviet passports will no longer be recognized in Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA, ESTONIA REACH COMPROMISE ON SEA BORDER. Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele and his Estonian counterpart, Tiit Vahi, on 12 May in the Latvian town of Rujiena reached a compromise on the maritime border in the Gulf of Rigaduring, Western agencies reported. Vahi said in an Estonian Radio interview: "The agreement is that everything above the border is Estonian territory where Estonian fishing rules apply. Everything which is below the line is Latvian territory and Latvian fishing rules apply there." The respective parliaments still have to approve the agreement. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN THE SEJM. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati spoke in the Sejm on 9 May and stressed Poland's determination to join NATO and the EU, Polish media reported the next day. Rosati said Poland would not ask for Russian permission to join NATO but would keep Moscow informed. He commented that the OSCE should be strengthened, but "the idea of building on the basis of the OSCE a new crowning institution of European security is neither fortunate nor realistic." He said, "Today we can note with satisfaction a pro-European direction in the policy of Ukraine." He added that Poland is interested in political cooperation with Belarus to strengthen an "independent and sovereign existence for this country." Polish dailies commented that both the Polish government and the opposition agree on foreign policy. -- Jakub Karpinski SHIPYARD WORKERS DEMONSTRATE IN GDANSK. Some 4,000 Gdansk shipyard workers demonstrated on 10 May to protest non-payment of their April salaries. The workers sent a written complaint to the Gdansk chief prosecutor who has 30 days to respond to it, Rzeczpospolita reported on 11 May. The shipyard is on the verge of bankruptcy, but Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek said the government does not intend to earmark any money to save it. The shipyard is the site where the Solidarity Union was born in August 1980. -- Jakub Karpinski NEW ATLANTIC INITIATIVE CONGRESS IN PRAGUE. Some 300 politicians and other officials from Eastern Europe and the West gathered in Prague on 10 May for a three-day congress of the New Atlantic Initiative, Czech media reported. A declaration adopted at the congress calls for strengthening ties between North America and Europe through democracy, liberalism, and market economy. It further proposes the creation of a Transatlantic free-trade zone. Czech President Vaclav Havel advocated NATO enlargement and warned against isolationism. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also urged for a speedy NATO enlargement and cautioned against military and political separation between Europe and the U.S. -- Jiri Pehe CZECH SKINHEADS ATTACK ROMA. About 30 skinheads in Brno on 10 May attacked Roma standing near a tram station in a neighborhood called "The Bronx," TV Premiera reported the same day. Other Roma living in nearby buildings came to the victims' defense. Police broke up the ensuing fight and arrested several Romani youths but none of the skinheads. The police actions evoked sharp protest from local Roma, CTK reported on 11 May. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK POLITICIAN ALLEGES POLITICAL MURDER. Christian Democratic Movement leader Jan Carnogursky on 10 May claimed that a bullet was found in Robert Remias's belly, Slovak media reported. Reimas was found dead after his car exploded on 29 April. Carnogursky said that a piece of Remias's car found at the scene of the explosion and handed over to Carnogursky's party had in it several holes. Remias was a , former policeman and friend of Oscar F.--a key witness in the kidnapping case of Slovak President Michal Kovac's son. The president and the opposition claim that Kovac Jr. was kidnapped by the Slovak Intelligence Service. A Slovak police spokesman on 10 May said there was no evidence that Remias was murdered and no bullet was found in Remias's stomach. He suggested, however, that six bullets in the gun owned by Remias probably exploded in the extreme heat of the explosion. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES TV. Michal Kovac on 12 May sent an open letter to the Slovak TV (STV) Board, in which he questioned STV's role as a public institution, TASR reported. "STV is an institution which is not supposed to serve only a selected group of political entities and irresponsibly manipulate citizens' views," Kovac wrote. He warned that under Slovak law, STV is a public institution "not the coalition parties' or the cabinet's institution." Kovac met with the STV's board chairman on 6 May to request more objectivity in STV programming. However, Kovac said that "STV management's stance has not changed" since the meeting. Kovac wrote that STV's efforts "to censure the president or place some conditions on him [before he appears on TV] are regrettable." On 8 May, STV refused to broadcast the president's address marking the 51st anniversary of the end of World War II. -- Jiri Pehe HUNGARY TO POSTPONE PURCHASE OF FIGHTER JETS? The Hungarian government is about to launch an international tender with a $1 billion order for 30 NATO-compatible fighter planes for the Hungarian Armed Forces to replace its aging MiG-21s, international and domestic media reported. The companies Saab, Dassault Aviation, and Lockheed, which respectively produce JAS-39 Gripen, Mirage 2000-5, and F-16 and F-18 fighter jets, have already shown interest in the tender. The Finance and Defense Ministries, however, seem to be at odds over the issue. Finance Ministry officials on 10 May called for shelving the international tender due to financial difficulties. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry is pushing for the deal to go through and expects to reach a purchase agreement by the end of this year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVERRULES TUDJMAN. The highest Croatian judicial body on 10 May ruled six-to-four in favor of an opposition suit against President Franjo Tudjman's recent dissolution of the Zagreb city council, international and Croatian media reported. The opposition coalition won a majority on the council last October, but Tudjman has since vetoed all four of its proposed candidates for mayor and otherwise tried to hamstring the council's work. He charged that he would not allow the capital to be run by "enemies of state policy." After formally dissolving the city council on 30 April, Tudjman called for a referendum in what was widely seen as an attempt to postpone new council elections that his Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) seemed likely to lose. The latest court decision appears to be a milestone display of independence by the judiciary, which has generally been regarded as an instrument of the HDZ. That party may now find itself forced to take up the opposition's previous offer of power-sharing in return for the HDZ's recognition of an opposition candidate for mayor. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN, BOSNIAN LEADERS MEET. President Franjo Tudjman on 11 May hosted a meeting in Zagreb with his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic, Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, Bosnian Federation President Kresimir Zubak, and federal Vice President Ejup Ganic. They reached an agreement on a pilot program for the return of refugees to four central Bosnian towns: Muslim-held Bugojno and Travnik, and Croat- held Stolac and Jajce. Another measure called for Bosnia to have a temporary duty-free outlet to the sea through Ploce in Croatia and for Croatian vehicles to be able to transit Bosnia's coastal strip at Neum, which cuts Croatia into two. Izetbegovic told Onasa, moreover, that Bosnians do not need visas for Croatia. All sides sounded optimistic after the meeting, international and regional media reported. But these latest accords sound very similar to previous measures that were agreed upon but remained dead letters due to mistrust and the opposition of local warlords. -- Patrick Moore HOLBROOKE WARNS ABOUT PARTITION OF BOSNIA. The man most responsible for the Dayton accords, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, said that the Dayton structure could collapse resulting in the partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He blamed the Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian sides, but singled out the Serbs for not removing from power indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. He doubts that fighting will resume but feels that "the Europeans" have incapacitated the civilian side of Dayton by insisting on multiple chains of command, AFP reported on 12 May. -- Patrick Moore BELGRADE CALLS FOR IMF, WORLD BANK TALKS . . . Rump Yugoslav authorities have requested the "urgent resumption" of talks with the IMF and World Bank, Reuters reported on 12 May. At a meeting of federal authorities the previous day, federal Premier Radoje Kontic asked that IMF and World Bank officials be invited to Belgrade as soon as possible to reopen lines of communication. Dialogue with international financial institutions collapsed in April 1996 when Belgrade demanded that rump Yugoslavia be recognized as the sole successor state of Tito's Yugoslavia as a precondition for continued dialogue. -- Stan Markotich . . . WHILE BANK GOVERNOR CALLS FOR PREMIER'S RESIGNATION. Meanwhile, National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic has called for Kontic's resignation, Nasa Borba reported on 11 May. Avramovic has since early April been in open conflict with members of the government over rump Yugoslav relations with international financial institutions. Avramovic alleges in a letter that Kontic flagrantly lied when he remarked that Avramovic had abandoned government policy in talks with IMF officials at the beginning of April. Avramovic advocates obtaining international loans as soon as possible to keep the rump Yugoslav economy from ruin, while federal authorities contend that international financial institutions must first recognize rump Yugoslavia as the successor to Tito's Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY TO LAUNCH OWN RADIO, TV. The leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor, in Bucharest on 10 May said his party will launch its own radio and TV station "at whatever cost," claiming that the state-run media do not properly reflect the PRM's activities, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. In a related matter, President Ion Iliescu commented on accusations that the BBC's Romanian-language program is broadcasting propaganda for the opposition in the forthcoming elections (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 7 May). He said the BBC was the only foreign station with numerous programs broadcast locally and therefore it should attach "more importance to objectivity." He added that Romania should possibly use the BBC's stations to make Romanian positions known, saying that the matter was one of "reciprocity." -- Michael Shafir TIRASPOL HAMPERS IMPLEMENTATION OF RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN AGREEMENT. The Transdniestrian authorities have insisted on talks with Russia to discuss the transfer of Russian military equipment stationed in the breakaway region, and they have refused to recognize the Moldovan- Russian accord on the issue, BASSA-Press reported on 9 May. The Tiraspol leader, Igor Smirnov, on 8 May demanded the talks at a meeting with Vladimir Kitayev, the Russian special ambassador and head of the Russian delegation for talks with Moldova. Stefan Chitac, a military advisor to Smirnov, said none of the Moldovan-Russian military accords on the transfer of the Russian equipment will be carried out. -- Michael Shafir NEW BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER APPOINTED. Bulgaria's parliament on 10 May voted to replace Lyubomir Nachev with Nikolai Dobrev, Bulgarian state radio reported the same day. Opposition deputies abstained from the proceedings, saying the government had acted with impropriety by holding the vote without prior debate. Opposition members, some of whom also called for Premier Videnov's resignation, alleged that Dobrev, a high-ranking member of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, was predisposed to working toward a "totalitarian unification of party and state." Nachev resigned following the 3 May slaying of three police officers in Sofia (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 6 May 1996). -- Stan Markotich ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS COMPLAIN ABOUT "CLIMATE OF TERROR." The Socialists accused the ruling Democratic Party of political manipulation prior to the 26 May elections, Reuters reported on 10 May. They said police illegally detained more than 30 Socialist supporters and destroyed their banners and flags. The Socialists' General Secretary Gramoz Ruci claimed that his party's candidates have been obstructed from meeting with voters. Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi reacted to the charges by saying that "those who complain create the incidents themselves," Albania reported on 12 May. Meanwhile, an unknown culprit smashed the windows of the office of the Socialists' Vice President Luan Hajdaraga, Koha Jone reported the same day. The Socialists claimed that police cars and Democratic Party supporters on 11 May blocked a road, preventing Tirana Socialist leaders from attending an election campaign rally in Durres. -- 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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