|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 97, Part II, 20 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 TWO UKRAINIAN DEPUTIES KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT. Serhii Drahomaretsky and Mykhaylo Myaskovsky, two members of the Ukrainian legislature from the Odessa region, were killed in a car accident outside Kyiv on the night of 16 May, UNIAR and ITAR-TASS reported. Drahomaretsky was the chairman of the Supreme Council Control Commission on Privatization and Myaskovsky, first secretary of the Odessa regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine and a member of the Supreme Council on Foreign Affairs and CIS Relations. The two men were on their way to Odessa to participate in a session of that city's council. -- Roger Kangas CRIMEAN TATARS COMMEMORATE 1944 DEPORTATION. Some 20,000 Tatars demonstrated in the streets of Simferopol on 18 May to mark the 52nd anniversary of Stalin's order to deport them to Central Asia, international media reported. More than 200,000 Tatars have returned to Crimea in recent years, but rally organizers noted that they no longer have a homeland and are a minority in Crimea. Demonstrators called for creating a Crimean Tatar state within an independent Ukraine. Statements were also made in support of Chechen independence, with some demonstrators carrying Chechen flags and portraits of slain Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudaev. Reuters on 18 May reported that the Ukrainian government has approved an additional $20 million aid package for Tatar resettlement. Ukrainian officials have stressed, however, that the issue should be a policy concern for Russia, Uzbekistan, and other states as well. -- Roger Kangas BELARUSIAN HUNGER STRIKER RELEASED. Belarusian Popular Front leader Vyachaslau Siuchyk, who has been hospitalized since 15 May owing to kidney failure caused by a hunger strike, was released from prison on 17 May, Reuters reported. Siuchyk has been charged with organizing a rally last month to protest the pro-Russian policies of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Those charges have not been dropped, and he has been ordered not to leave Minsk. The Belarus Prosecutor's Office said the release of his BPF colleague Yury Khadyka, who is still on a hunger strike, will be discussed today. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, campaigning in the Siberian city of Omsk on 19 May, said he has had to give Lukashenka a lesson in democracy, adding that he asked him to release all those arrested in connection with the April rally. -- Saulius Girnius DISPUTE OVER ESTONIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH SETTLED. The Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople on 16 May agreed to restore relations severed by Moscow after Constantinople announced in February that the Autonomous Estonian Orthodox Church would come under its jurisdiction, Western agencies reported the next day. The Constantinople patriarchate agreed to impose a four-month moratorium on its jurisdiction declaration. During this period, congregations in Estonia will have to decide to which patriarchate they wish to belong. The decisions of those congregations that have already made a decision will remain in effect. Although 54 of the 84 congregations have expressed support for Constantinople, more than two-thirds of believers belong to those favoring Moscow. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA'S UNITY PARTY TO RETURN TO RULING COALITION. Latvia's Unity Party (LVP) on 17 May decided to revoke its earlier decision to quit the ruling coalition, BNS reported. Chairman Alberts Kauls, whose firing as agriculture minister prompted the party's decision to quit, is a member of a commission set up to meet with Prime Minister Andris Skele to discuss the LVP's conditions for remaining in the coalition. Those stipulations include allowing the LVP to retain the Agriculture Ministry, transferring the Hipoteku un Zemes Banka to the Agriculture Ministry's jurisdiction, reorganizing the ministry, and protecting local market from foreign agricultural imports. -- Saulius Girnius CONGRESS OF LITHUANIAN DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY. The first part of the Sixth Congress of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) on 18 May elected Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas as the party's new chairman, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported the next day. Jursenas defeated Seimas Agriculture Committee Chairman Mykolas Pronckus by a vote of 330 to 82. Former chairman Adolfas Slezevicius resigned in February after being dismissed as prime minister. Jursenas said the party faces a serious challenge in the upcoming parliament elections in October Current budgetary problems could force the government to make unpopular decisions, and candidates should be willing to admit the party's mistakes, he noted. The second part of the congress, to be held in September, will decide which members run in the elections. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND TO JOIN OECD LATER THIS YEAR. Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko on 17 May announced Poland will receive an invitation in July to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Formal membership is to be granted in October, Rzeczpospolita reported. At a press conference in Warsaw on 17 May, Kolodko said Poland has met all the conditions for membership, except for passing new legislation on a banking code of secrecy and on allowing financial authorities to have access to companies' book-keeping accounts. A bill on both matters was recently adopted by the lower house of the parliament and is expected to be approved by the Senate soon. Kolodko said OECD membership will be a "giant step toward the European Union." -- Dagmar Mroziewicz POPULARITY OF POLAND'S EX-COMMUNISTS GROWS. According to a recent opinion poll conducted by the Warsaw-based CBOS agency, the popularity of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) is increasing. Of those respondents who said they would vote if elections were held now, 23% opted for the former Communists, who are also a member of the ruling coalition. In March and April, 19% favored the SLD. The CBOS commented that the party appeared to have recovered from the negative impact of the spy allegations against its leader, former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. The poll also revealed that 13% of potential voters would support the right-wing Movement for the Reconstruction of Poland and 12% would cast their ballot in favor of the Polish Peasant Party. The centrist Union for Freedom (UW), now the biggest opposition party in the parliament, received 8% support and the Solidarity Union 10%. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH EDUCATION FOR ROMA CRITICIZED. The Prague-based Citizen's Solidarity and Tolerance Movement (HOST) has issued a report on the state of Romani education in the Czech Republic, CTK reported on 17 May. The report's main criticism is that the government has failed to address inequities in the education system. An earlier press release from HOST revealed that the 80-page report targets seven areas: de facto segregation in special schools, where Roma are labeled retarded; violence against Romani children; teachers' lack of response to racism in class; lack of funding for Romani education; lack of access for Roma to higher education; the absence of Romani teachers; and the lack of state resolve to address the situation. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK POLICEMAN'S FAMILY ACCUSE SECRET SERVICE. The family of Robert Remias, who was killed in a car explosion on 29 April, has accused the Slovak secret service (SIS) of being responsible for his death, Slovak and international media reported. Remias's parents told the media that their son--a friend of a key witness in the case of the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son--had been shadowed by the SIS constantly in the days leading up to his death. They accused SIS Director Ivan Lexa of hiding the truth about Kovac Jr.'s kidnapping and having their son's death on his conscience, adding that Prime Minister Vladmir Meciar also bore responsibility. The Slovak government has brought charges against two priests and a journalist who, at a memorial service for Remias last week, publicly accused the SIS and government circles of murdering him. -- Steve Kettle MOSCOW PATRIARCH IN SLOVAKIA. Aleksii II on 17 May began a four-day visit to Slovakia, Slovak and international media reported. On 19 May, he conducted a service in the east Slovak town of Presov, which was attended by more than 20,000 people, including President Michal Kovac. The Moscow patriarch also dedicated a church in Michalovce and held a memorial service in Svidnik for 4,000 Soviet soldiers who died during the liberation of Slovakia in World War II. -- Steve Kettle CONTINUED CONTROVERSY OVER HUNGARIAN PREMIER'S PROPOSAL FOR INVESTIGATIVE OFFICE. With no compromise reached between the coalition parties over Gyula Horn's plan to set up a central investigative office to curb black economy activity, tension between the Socialist Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) is increasing, Hungarian dailies reported on 18 May. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze (SZDSZ) is considering resigning if he is unable to push through his version of the plan, Magyar Hirlap reported on 20 May. Last week, Kuncze vetoed Horn's proposal, but the premier is insisting on going ahead with the costly plan. The SZDSZ stressed again that it is in favor of improving the efficiency of existing organizations instead of setting up a new office. A similar coalition dispute occurred last fall when the SZDSZ refused to approve Horn's plans to create new positions in the government and to introduce personnel changes. Horn was eventually forced to withdraw those plans. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IS KARADZIC STEPPING DOWN? Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic announced this weekend that he was giving up some of his duties as Bosnian Serb president to concentrate on such domestic issues as refugees and the economy, international and local agencies reported on 19 May. Karadzic delegated some of his powers, including contacts with the international community, to Vice President Biljana Plavsic, a hard-liner known as the "Iron Lady of the Bosnian Serbs." While the rump Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported that Karadzic has stepped down as Bosnian Serb president, the Bosnian Serb agency SRNA reported that he has only delegated some of his functions. Meanwhile, the international community's High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt visited Pale on 19 May to clarify controversial reports on Karadzic's resignation. He noted that Karadzic appeared to be withdrawing from "public life," AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic HARD-LINER ENDORSED AS BOSNIAN SERB PREMIER. The Bosnian Serb parliament on 18 May endorsed Karadzic's dismissal of Rajko Kasagic, the moderate Bosnian Serb prime minister supported by the international community (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 and 17 May 1996). Deputies also approved his replacement by Gojko Klickovic, a hard-liner who oversaw the exodus earlier this year of the Sarajevo Serbs, which was marred by massive looting and arson, AFP reported on 18 May. In his first statement to reporters, Klickovic opposed setting up a single Bosnian state, which is stipulated in the Dayton peace accord. AFP on 19 May quoted him as saying that "integration within Bosnia is out of the question." Klickovic also said that the Bosnian Serb people will "never allow" Karadzic to be sent for trial to The Hague-based war crimes tribunal because "there is no reason for him to go there." -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERBS PLAY FOR TIME. The scenes of the past weekend were familiar to those who have long followed the Bosnian conflict: an international negotiator met in a series of sessions with Bosnian Serb leaders, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and then the Bosnian Serbs again. He never received a direct answer to his main demand--in this case, that Karadzic be dumped as president--but rather a series of promises that seemed to go at least part way to achieving that end. Bildt was told, among other things, that Karadzic would "be neither seen nor heard," that a referendum would be held, and that Plavsic would take over his international obligations. Karadzic, however, has no foreign duties because no representative from abroad is supposed to meet with the indicted war criminal. The Dayton agreement, moreover, says clearly that he has no political future and that Milosevic is obliged to help hunt him down and bring him to justice. Much of Bosnian opinion regards the latest moves from Pale as "cosmetic," Oslobodjenje reported on 20 May. -- Patrick Moore SERBS FACE HURDLES IN GOING HOME TO SARAJEVO. The anti-nationalist Serbian Civic Council (SGV), which remained loyal to the Bosnian government throughout the war, says that several legal difficulties stand in the way of Serbs wanting to live in Sarajevo again. Many of these people were among the 60,000 who were pressured by the Bosnian Serb authorities into abandoning their flats and houses earlier this year but who now want to go back after spending months in makeshift camps. The SGV says that they have difficulty in obtaining Bosnian passports and that their flats have been occupied by Muslim refugees from Srebrenica and Zepa, Onasa noted on 18 May. A group of independent intellectuals charged that all three sides are practicing "silent ethnic cleansing" and point to Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and both parts of Mostar as examples, Oslobodjenje noted on 20 May. Elsewhere, the SGV joined Muslim parties in criticizing the current election rules for Mostar, saying that they make it impossible for 90% of the Serbs from there to vote because refugees are barred from the ballot. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL DIES IN BELGRADE. Bosnian Serb Gen. Djordje Djukic died in Belgrade's military medical academy on 18 May. According to a statement issued by the Bosnian Serb military authorities, Djukic died after "being ill and exhausted by the trial in The Hague," Reuters reported. He was 62 years old and had appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on charges relating to his role in the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. The general, who had pleaded not guilty, was released by The Hague on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to his family in Belgrade. A doctors' report concluded that Djukic's terminal pancreatic cancer had reached an advanced stage. Djukic, a logistics officer, was captured by the Bosnian government on 30 January 1996. -- Stan Markotich POPE'S VISIT TO SLOVENIA. John Paul II concluded his first-ever visit to Slovenia on 19 May by celebrating Mass in Maribor with an estimated 120,000 worshippers. The previous day, he celebrated his 76th birthday in the nation's capital. Slovenian political leaders thanked the pontiff for supporting Slovenia's independence, noting that the Vatican was among the first states to recognize Slovenia as an independent country. Finally, John Paul donated $50,000 to the Roman Catholic Church in Slovenia to enable it to assist refugees from the wars throughout the former Yugoslavia, international media reported on 18 May. -- Stan Markotich BULGARIA'S "BLACK FRIDAY." Bulgaria's ongoing financial and economic crisis peaked yet again on 17 May when two banks were placed under the Bulgarian National Bank's administration, Bulgarian media reported. BNB Governor Lyubomir Filipov announced that the First Private Bank and the state-controlled Mineral Bank were being "placed under special supervision owing to the real possibility of insolvency." Meanwhile, local media reported that consumers triggered a panic on what was dubbed "Black Friday," trying to withdraw all assets from the defunct banks. The following day, Kontinent reported that following the banks' insolvency, a major restructuring of the banking system cannot be avoided. Premier Zhan Videnov, speaking on state TV and radio, pledged financial reforms and asked for "backing from the whole of society." The government has already drawn up a plan for economic reform, including the closure of some 64 unprofitable firms. -- Stan Markotich ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN GREECE. Safet Zhulali arrived in Athens on 19 May for talks with his Greek counterpart, Gerassimos Arsenis, and President Kostis Stephanopoulos, AFP reported. The talks are to focus on military cooperation within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace. Zhulali will also visit Greek military facilities. Meanwhile, hundreds of Albanian immigrants began returning from Greece to vote in the 26 May elections; their number is expected to increase by the thousands. The Greek police have supplied them with special border- crossing permits, and travel agencies have increased the number of buses traveling to Albania and reduced fares. Some 250,000 Albanian immigrants are currently working in Greece. Finally, Albania and Greece on 17 May signed a framework agreement on legalizing the status of the mostly illegal immigrants. It will take effect in September, after four Greek- language schools have opened in southern Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CAMPAIGNS FROM JAIL CELL. Albanian Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano has sent a letter to Albanian dailies urging voters to oust the Democratic Party in the elections, Reuters reported on 19 May. Nano said the Socialists will guarantee "liberty and security." He accused President Sali Berisha of abusing his powers and of running a "banana republic." Nano still has three years to serve for misappropriating funds, but the Socialists say he is a political prisoner. Meanwhile the Democratic Party organized a pop music and fashion show spectacle for 30,000 people at a Tirana stadium on 19 May. The same day, the road to Shkoder was blocked for hours by demonstrators hoping to prevent Socialist leaders from going there, but none of those leaders showed up. -- 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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