|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
No. 95, Part II, 16 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 ORDERS AUSTERITY MEASURES. A government cash crunch and piling wage debts have prompted Leonid Kuchma to order tough austerity measures, including a ban on foreign business travel and other benefits for officials, international agencies reported on 15 May. Kuchma issued a decree temporarily banning spending on office renovations, new furniture, and other perks until all wages and pensions owed to workers in state-owned industries, teachers, and physicians are paid. Economics Minister Vasyl Hureyev said the government owes $951 million in up to four months of back wages. He blamed a continuing decline in industrial output, unpaid taxes, and the temporary suspension of IMF credits last month. Meanwhile, up to 1,000 coal miners blocked railroad tracks in western Ukraine calling for an end to coal imports from neighboring Poland and prompt payment of back wages, Western agencies reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL DEFENDS ECONOMIC RECORD. Borys Sobolev, Chairman of the Ukrainian State Credit and Investment Company, defended his country's economic record before a conference on privatization in Prague on 15 May. He argued that the nationalization of Ukraine's property had taken 15 years and many lives (in the 1930s), so one should not expect de-nationalization to be a quick and easy process. He noted that 47% of the Ukrainian GDP is now generated from the private sector, double the share in 1994. Sobolev criticized international financial institutions for "establishing plans like before...on how many enterprises are privatized each quarter." He said that much of the $1.5 billion state credits that Ukraine received from abroad "were used improperly for the support of loss-making industries by the government of the time." Hence, these credits "very often are not playing a positive role and even playing a negative role . . . hampering privatization." -- Peter Rutland SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS ESTONIA. Lena Hjelm-Wallen on a one-day visit to Estonia on 15 May stressed that Sweden fully supports the membership of the Baltic states in the EU and NATO, Reuters reported. She noted that although Sweden cannot be involved in NATO expansion talks since it is not a member of the organization, it was concerned that "NATO expansion should not create any new blocks, dividing lines or gray security zones in Europe." She said that Sweden would give Estonia practical assistance in strengthening security on its borders and also support the Estonian police and other structures contributing to the preservation of Estonian independence. -- Saulius Girnius NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE PROPOSED AGAINST LITHUANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER. Justinas Karosas, the head of the ruling Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) caucus, announced on 15 May that he had handed in a motion signed by 29 deputies asking for a no-confidence vote against National Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius, BNS reported. The primary reason for the motion was Linkevicius's decision in April to leave the LDDP. It is not clear when the no-confidence motion will be moved, but it will have to gain the support of 71 deputies to pass. The LDDP faction now has 68 deputies. -- Saulius Girnius POLES PROTEST AGAINST SOLIDARITY DELEGATION'S EXPULSION FROM BELARUS. Belarus's expulsion of a delegation from the Polish union Solidarity sparked an angry demonstration of some 1,000 people outside the Belarusian consulate in the northeastern town of Bialystok on 15 May, AFP reported. The protesters handed the Belarusian Consul a letter opposing the detention of four Solidarity members who were later escorted to the countries' common border. The delegation had been in Belarus at the invitation of the Belarusian independent association of trade unions, which opposes Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's policies. Belarusian authorities claimed the delegation had organized an illegal demonstration in Minsk. Meanwhile, the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions said it lodged a complaint with the International Labor Organization against Belarus, Rzeczpospolita on 16 May reported. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz MILITARY PROSECUTOR COMES UNDER FIRE IN POLISH SPYING CASE. Slawomir Gorzkiewicz, who dropped the investigation into allegations that Poland's former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy had spied for Moscow, was criticized for revealing the name of the Russian informant in the case, Polish media reported. Gorzkiewicz says he behaved in compliance with the law, disclosing the informant's name only to Oleksy himself when telling him of the decision to close the case, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 16 May. But many politicians claim revealing the informant's name--a state secret--was a crime, if not treason, and that Gorzkiewicz should be punished. The Confederation for Independent Poland, a small right- wing party, called for the Warsaw Prosecutor's office to launch an investigation into Gorzkiewicz's disclosure. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES ON ELECTIONS. The Constitutional Court on 15 May rejected the motion submitted by 41 opposition deputies that claimed the election law is unconstitutional in its demand that each registered party pay a 200,000 crown (about $7,400) ballot-printing fee in each electoral district in which the party competes, Czech media reported. Eight judges ruled in favor of the motion and seven rejected it. Under the Czech Constitution, the motion would have passed with one additional vote in its favor. The decision disqualifies from the upcoming parliamentary elections four minor parties that have failed to pay the fees, bringing the total number of participating parties to 16. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS OUSTING INTERIOR MINISTER. Slovak deputies on 15 May approved an agenda for next week's parliamentary session, which includes proposals to remove Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek and a debate on the country's secret service, Slovak and international media reported. Opposition deputies said Hudek should not remain in office after calling police officers "idiots" in a telephone conversation with Slovak Information Service (SIS) Director Ivan Lexa. A radio station in Bratislava on 13 May broadcast a tape of the conversation, full of vulgarities and concerning the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son. Hudek has not directly denied the authenticity of the tape, but Lexa issued a statement on 15 May saying he did not recall any such conversation with Hudek. The statement also said SIS experts judged the tape to be a compilation of snippets from public speeches and "illegally tapped telephone conversations," put together using impersonators' voices. -- Steve Kettle HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA EXCHANGE TREATY RATIFICATION DOCUMENTS. Hungarian and Slovak Foreign Ministry officials on 15 May exchanged ratification documents of the bilateral treaty that is meant to smooth decades of mistrust and tension, Hungarian and international media reported. The documents did not include the controversial interpretation clauses appended to the treaty by the Slovak parliament in April. Instead of a customary prime ministerial meeting, the exchange of documents took place in the form of a low-key event in Budapest between Gyorgy Szenasi, the head of the Hungarian ministry's international law department, and his Slovak counterpart, Igor Grexa. Hungarian political analysts say the treaty, signed in March 1995 in Paris, should improve bilateral relations but may not do much to help Slovakia's Hungarian minority. -- Zsofia Szilagyi WILL IFOR EXTEND ITS MANDATE IN HUNGARY? A U.S. defense official on 15 May said it was too soon to say if American troops will need to stay in Hungary longer than the agreed one-year term, Reuters reported. However, Franklin Kramer, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, upheld that pulling IFOR peacekeeping forces out of Bosnia to a base nearby is a possibility. There has been rising speculation that the U.S. military is considering asking Hungary to extend the lease of the Taszar and Kaposvar logistic bases that were used to funnel most of the 20,000 U.S. peacekeeping troops into Bosnia. Recently, there have been contradictory reports about whether the IFOR mandate will be extended through December 1996. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC FIRES HIS MODERATE PRIME MINISTER. Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic has dismissed Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic, international and local media reported on 15 May. Kasagic was regarded and promoted by the West as a moderate alternative to Bosnian Serb hard-liners. He recently called on Bosnian Serb leaders to respect all aspects of the Dayton peace agreement, which includes the handover of war criminals. Karadzic said Kasagic was discharged for being "not up to his task," AFP reported. The international community immediately slammed Karadzic for sacking his premier, and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the decision was "null and void," adding that he will nevertheless meet with Kasagic in Banja Luka on 16 May as planned. -- Daria Sito Sucic COAL MINERS STRIKE IN CENTRAL BOSNIA. Thousands of coal miners in the central Bosnian town Kakanj on 14 May went on strike over pay and working conditions, international and local media reported. Management urged them to return to work the next day after their union leaders met with the federal Energy Minister Enver Kreso and agreed to raise salaries. The government promised a 60% salary raise for both April and May, increasing the average salary from 80 German marks ($52) to about 300 marks per month, Oslobodjenje reported on 16 May. The mine is the Kakanj thermal power plant's main coal supplier, but the miners claim the plant has never paid for the coal. Some 6,000 demobilized soldiers are miners in central Bosnia. More problems are expected in this sector. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUMP YUGOSLAV BANK GOVERNOR OUSTED. Rump Yugoslavia's federal legislature on 15 May dismissed Dragoslav Avramovic as National Bank Governor, Nasa Borba reported on 16 May. Avramovic, who had in recent weeks publicly run afoul of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, left the legislature "teary-eyed" following the decision. Avramovic, who in January 1994 was credited with halting the country's hyperinflation by introducing the so-called "super-dinar" valued at an exchange rate of 1:1 with the German mark, came to openly resist Belgrade's calls for a return to polices that likely would have resulted in renewed inflation. Already on 15 May, Nasa Borba's coverage of the rift between Avramovic and the authorities hinted that Avramovic had reconciled himself to the inevitable, quoting him as saying "if the legislature relieves me of my duties, I'll just take my hat and go." -- Stan Markotich WAR CRIMES OFFICE TO OPEN IN BELGRADE. The rump Yugoslav government on 15 May announced officially that an office representing the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia will be opened in Belgrade, AFP reported that same day. While details on the office's opening still must be approved by both Belgrade and the Tribunal, Belgrade is on record as saying the office "will be able to receive anyone who wishes to make a declaration relating to war crimes" and that its chief officer will have diplomatic immunity. Rump Yugoslavia's "slowness" in cooperating with the Tribunal compelled Tribunal President Antonio Cassese as recently as last month to call for the re- implementation of sanctions against the country, AFP added. -- Stan Markotich MAGUREANU WILL QUIT IF ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE INVOLVED IN TELEPHONE BUGGING. Virgil Magureanu, director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), told journalists on 15 May that he will resign if the involvement of the SRI in the telephone-bugging scandal is proved by the investigation now underway, Romanian media reported on 15- 16 May. He said he would be "the one to blame" in this case, since telephone tapping requires his personal approval. One day earlier, however, SRI spokesman Nicolae Ulieru said the tapping had been legal, which seems to contradict Magureanu's assertion. Magureanu also said that the SRI captain who had revealed the existence of the tapes had been dismissed from the service. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVA SETS DATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Moldovan parliament on 15 May decided that the presidential elections will be held on 17 November, Moldovan agencies reported. According to the draft election law, the Constitutional Court will have to confirm the results of the elections on the last Saturday of November, or third Saturday of December if a second round of voting is needed on 1 December. The parliament also decided that presidential candidates must be Moldovan citizens not younger than 35, who speak the "Moldovan language" and have lived in Moldova no less than 10 years. The president will be elected for a four-year term and cannot hold office for more than two terms. President Mircea Snegur's term expires on 15 January 1997. His most likely challengers are Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi and Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli. -- Matyas Szabo ROMANIA-LINKED FASCIST ORGANIZATION IN MOLDOVA. The Moldovan National Security Ministry has taken unspecified measures against "a fascist group which intended to stage extremist actions," BASA-press reported on 15 May. Reference was made to a "nest" of the fascist Legionary movement, better known as the Iron Guard. In interwar Romania, the "nests" were the fascist organization's basic cells and the one active in Chisinau is called "The Captain" after the Legion's leader, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. In his 1995 report to the Romanian parliament, SRI Director Virgil Magureanu mentioned the "nest" in Chisinau and other cells set up in Romania by Serban Suru, a high school teacher involved in attempts to rehabilitate the Legion. The Moldovan report links the "nest" in Chisinau to the Moldovan Student League, which was active in organizing last year's student strike. The league is also known to have ties with the Movement for Romania, another extremist Romanian organization modeled after the Legion. -- Michael Shafir PRIVATIZATION A SUCCESS IN MOLDOVA. Ceslau Ciobanu, the Moldovan Minister of Privatization, said at a conference in Prague that "we lost three years in political debate" over how to implement the privatization law adopted in July 1991. However, a Czech-style scheme was eventually selected, and "national patrimony" bonds issued, which 3.1 million citizens have used to buy shares or their apartments. Beginning in July 1994, 1,200 companies were sold in 15 auctions, with assets worth 10 billion lei ($2.5 billion), about one-third of the state's former property. The private sector now generates some 60% of the GDP, and 14,000 private farms have been established. -- Peter Rutland BULGARIAN PREMIER GAINS SHOW OF SUPPORT . . . Bulgaria's severe financial crisis has forced the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) to show unity and demonstrate support for Zhan Videnov, premier and BSP party leader, Reuters reported on 15 May. Kontinent had published a report saying that factions within the BSP were working to remove Videnov from his party and government posts for his low competence and ineffectiveness as a manager, which Videnov later said was false. Even some of Videnov's open critics are now demonstrating support for him. Independent trade union leader Konstantin Trenchev, for instance, told Trud on 15 May that Videnov is rightly seen as a "guarantee of reform." -- Stan Markotich . . . AS GOVERNMENT SELECTS 64 FIRMS FOR CLOSURE. In a bid to satisfy conditions laid down by the IMF for receiving new credits, the Bulgarian government on 15 May produced a list of 64 enterprises slated for liquidation, Bulgarian and international media reported. The list perplexed trade union officials and enterprise managers, who noted that some of the firms were profitable and that others had already been privatized, leading them to suspect that the closures would enrich businessmen close to the ruling Socialists. Another 70 companies are to be cut off from state-owned bank loans and given one year to devise restructuring plans. An official of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions noted that the list was compiled without consulting the unions, 25,383 jobs would be lost, and no provision was made for settlement of wage arrears going back as far as 1993. -- Michael Wyzan ALBANIAN ELECTION WRAP-UP. A car taking Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka to a public party meeting in Divjake was stopped on 15 May by Democratic Party supporters near Rrogozhine. They forced the car open, searched it while threatening violence, and stole a camera and party posters, Koha Jone reported. Meanwhile, the electoral commission announced that about 400 election observers--including 33 OSCE monitors, 35 EU monitors, and over 100 observers from various European leftist parties--will oversee the ballot on 26 May as requested by the Socialists, Reuters reported on 15 May. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIA, FRANCE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Albanian Defense Minister Safet Zhulali and his French counterpart, Charles Millon, signed a military cooperation agreement on 14 May at the end of Zhulali's three-day visit to Paris. The agreement calls for training Albanian soldiers in France, exchange programs, joint maneuvers, and French equipment supplies to Albania. France is one of the last major European powers to sign military agreements with Albania, but Millon attributed this to internal developments in France, ATSH reported. Millon praised Albania's careful policy towards the Yugoslav war and the Kosovo conflict. He added that France supports autonomy for Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Deborah Michaels ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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