|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 103, Part II, 28 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 SACKS PREMIER. Leonid Kuchma signed a decree on 27 May ousting Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and replacing him with First Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, Ukrainian and Western media reported. Kuchma said at a government meeting that Marchuk failed to resolve Kyiv's wage debt crisis and pursue economic reforms because he was more concerned with his political image and popularity. Since his appointment as premier in July 1995, Marchuk had complained that he lacked sufficient powers to govern. Lazarenko is a former governor of Kuchma's native Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and although he is not seen as a radical reformer, he is considered a loyal political ally of the presidential administration. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN POLITICIANS REACT TO DISMISSAL OF PREMIER. The abrupt dismissal of Yevhen Marchuk prompted varied reaction from across Ukraine's political spectrum, Ukrainian agencies reported. Regional governors, many centrists, and right-wing forces supported the move as necessary because Marchuk had strayed too far from the president's policies. Leftists said President Kuchma is more concerned with clan interests than with the good of the country. Observers speculated that Marchuk's growing opposition to a national referendum on the new draft Ukrainian constitution, which Kuchma promotes, prompted the measure. Many believe Marchuk may replace Oleksander Moroz as speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament and lead a full-fledged opposition against the president. -- Chrystyna Lapychak INTERVIEW WITH BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS. Leading members of the Belarusian Popular Front, Yuriy Khadyka and Vyacheslau Siuchyk, were interviewed on Belarusian TV on 26 May. Both had gone on a hunger strike after being arrested for organizing the 26 April demonstrations in Minsk. They were released from jail but had to be hospitalized after refusing to eat for a number of days. Forbidden to travel before their pending trial, Siuchyk and Khadyka said they regarded themselves as political prisoners. S. Novikau, head of the investigative group looking into the charges against the two men, said the charges include organizing group activities, disrupting public order, and impeding public transport during the demonstrations. Khadyka and Siuchyk's lawyer, N. Dudarava, defended the men saying they did not organize those activities and were denied the right to see an attorney from the moment of their arrest. The interviewer compared the 26 April demonstration to the Russian White House siege in 1993 and noted that no one interfered with the judicial process after that event. -- Ustina Markus RUSSIA MAY REDUCE TARIFFS ON ESTONIAN GOODS. Former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar said Russian Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin told him in a private conversation in Moscow that Russia will cease imposing double import tariffs on Estonian goods, BNS reported on 27 May. Laar noted that at a meeting that the Council of Europe sponsored on East European economic reforms the previous week in Poland, the Estonian delegation refuted Yasin's statement that Russia imposed duties on different kinds of goods and not on different nations. Laar pointed out that the probable change in Russian tariff policy could be due to its desire to join the World Trade Organization whose principles forbid the implementation of tariffs for political reasons. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA REPORTS FURTHER CRIME GROWTH. The Statistics Department announced that the number of crimes in Lithuania in the first four months of 1996 was 20,700 or 1.6% more than in same period in 1995, Radio Lithuania reported on 27 May. The number of violent crimes grew by 118% and of drug-related crimes by 54%. There were 1,190 robberies, a 41% increase, and 2,585 burglaries, a 29% rise. Car thefts, however, declined by 23% and other thefts by 9%. The number of crimes solved by police increased from 38% in the first two months of 1996 to 42% in the first third of this year. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRIMATE, PRESIDENT ON CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski met on 27 May for an hour-long conversation with the Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Polish dailies reported the next day. Kwasniewski said the state and the church should seek a compromise concerning the constitution, which is still being drafted by the Sejm. He also expects parliament to make a decision soon on the concordat that has awaited ratification since July 1993. The public disclosure of a confidential letter on ratification of the concordat sent by the Vatican to the Polish government had aggravated church-state relations (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 May 1996). -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH SECURITY OFFICERS FIRED. Col. Andrzej Kapkowski, the new chief of the State Protection Office (UOP), fired on 27 May four high ranking UOP officers: Gen. Marian Zacharski, adviser to the UOP chief, the chief of the Intelligence Directorate Gen. Bogdan Libera, the chief of the Investigation Directorate Gen. Wiktor Fonfara, and his deputy Col. Wojciech Dylewski. All four were involved in the activities leading to spying allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. The internal UOP commission investigating UOP activities related to the Oleksy case found many infringements, Polish dailies reported on 28 May. Former President Lech Walesa promoted Zacharski, Libera, and Fonfara to the rank of general in December of last year. Zacharski was an active spy in the 70s in the U.S. where he was sentenced to life imprisonment and later released in an East-West spy swap. -- Jakub Karpinski ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADER CRITICIZES SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER. Hungarian Civic Party chairman Laszlo Nagy said Vladimir Meciar's call for creating "clean Hungarian constituencies" was a "propagandistic move," Narodna obroda reported on 28 May. Meciar made the statement during the recent visit of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel. However, critics have argued that "ethnically clean" territory does not exist in Slovakia. Nagy said ethnic Hungarian Coexistence chairman Miklos Duray did not consult his coalition partners before declaring on 25 May that cooperation between opposition and Hungarian coalition parties should be strengthened to form a union. Nagy added that discussion of the matter should be delayed until the new electoral law is approved. Meanwhile, Coexistence deputy chairman Arpad Duka-Zolyomi told Sme on 28 May that his party is proposing a union of Hungarian parties, not of the opposition as a whole. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S MINORITY COUNCILS COMPLAIN OF GOVERNMENT WIRETAPPING. Minority ombudsman Jeno Kaltenbach last week ordered an investigation into government wiretapping following complaints from minority councils in southern Hungary, Hungarian media reported. Kaltenbach said a nationwide investigation was necessary as Greek, Serbian, and German national minority organizations had voiced concern about the secret service's surveillance of their activities. Secret Service Minister Istvan Nikolits first denied any unlawful wiretapping but later admitted that surveillance may have been conducted in an aim to protect the minority organizations from the impact of the Yugoslav crisis near the southern borders. Nikolits is currently preparing a report to present to the parliament. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DID THE ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS WIN OVER 95% OF THE SEATS? The Democratic Party (PD), in a mixed system ballot, won the majority in all 115 election districts, and its candidates took 101 of the single-member constituencies. The PD is likely to take the remaining 14 seats during the second round of voting on 2 June, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 28 May. The remaining 25 seats will be divided by proportional representation. Meanwhile, the Democrats held a victory rally in Tirana on 27 May attended by some 10,000 supporters. The opposition Socialists, Social Democrats, and Democratic Alliance, who demand new elections, have called for a rally on 28 May and said they will not participate in a future parliament. Should the parliament meet despite an opposition boycott, the PD would have the power to change the constitution with its two-thirds majority. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CONFIRM IRREGULARITIES IN ALBANIAN ELECTIONS . . . International monitors told OMRI that they observed many irregularities in the elections. The monitors, who asked not to be named, said that in only three voting districts out of at least 15 that they observed were irregularities not decisive in the ballot's outcome. In Kukes, for example, the only polling station there to gain an opposition majority was the one which was internationally monitored. Similar observations were made elsewhere. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana . . . BUT ISSUE NO OFFICIAL STATEMENT YET. The EU and OSCE monitoring mission, which went all over Albania, has been told to end its work. The monitors postponed a declaration about the outcome and correctness of the elections until 28 May. They met with Socialist Party leader Namik Dokle and Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka, who charged the government with massively manipulating the ballot. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, however, held a press conference on 27 May in which it indicated that the elections were free and fair, citing that it monitored "several polling stations in Tirana." -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana BOSNIAN TERROR TRIAL OPENS IN CROATIA. The trial began in Rijeka on 27 May of five Muslims arrested in April on charges of "international terrorism." A Croat is also in the dock for complicity. The six are accused of plotting to assassinate former Bihac pocket kingpin Fikret Abdic who has been living quietly in Croatia since his empire crumbled following an offensive by Croatian and Bosnian government troops late last summer. The Bosnian authorities allegedly promised the six individuals $66,000 to eliminate the maverick leader. The Sarajevo government denies any knowledge of the five men and one woman and claims that Abdic and the Croats staged the whole affair as a publicity stunt for his planned comeback. The Croatian police claim to have found evidence, however, clearly linking the Muslims to Bosnian intelligence officials in Bihac. Abdic has charged that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic is afraid of him as a proven vote-getter, Croatian media reported. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN ASSEMBLY MEETS. The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina Assembly on 27 May accepted a report on the Dayton peace accords implementation by Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, Oslobodjenje reported next day. The government concluded that establishing freedom of movement and the return of refugees are its current priorities. When deputies asked whether a law on customs relief for refugees returning from abroad is still in effect, Muratovic replied it is but the law is not applied consistently because the Bosnian side has no border control, Onasa reported. He said there are problems on all federation borders, but the southern border, where the majority of goods entering the federation cross, poses the most difficulties. -- Daria Sito Sucic UPCOMING CHANGES WITHIN SERBIAN GOVERNMENT RANKS. Several ministers in the Serbian government are expected to be shuffled out of their cabinet positions, Nasa Borba reported on 28 May, crediting "circles close to the government" for leaking the story. Ratomir Vico, Minister of Information, is one of the ministers expected to leave his post but is slated to remain in the government without a portfolio. His touted successor is Aleksandar Tijanic, director of BK Telekom and confidante of Mirjana Markovic, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's wife and head of her own United Yugoslav Left (JUL) party. It is speculated that Tijanic's likely promotion into cabinet ranks is a de facto means of advancing the political profile and role of Markovic and her party. -- Stan Markotich INDEPENDENT SERBIAN NEWS AGENCY BARRED FROM PRESS CONFERENCE. Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic held a press conference on 27 May, to which the independent news agency Beta was not invited. A Beta journalist attempting to attend the meeting was reportedly barred and told that the press conference was organized for the foreign press corps only. Beta, however, has reported that this official explanation was a ruse and yet another stark demonstration of the regime's animosity toward the independent media. A number of government and pro-government media outlets, including the daily Politika, were on the "guest list." -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Traian Chebeleu on 27 May said extremists in Hungary, the Hungarian diaspora, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania put pressure on Budapest to include the controversial Council of Europe Recommendation 1201 in the Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty, Romanian media reported. He rejected the claim that Romania had accepted the recommendation providing for collective rights for ethnic minorities at the time of its admission into the council. Chebeleu claims Bucharest only committed itself to take into consideration that document's stipulations while drafting the recently passed education law. The recommendation's inclusion in the Hungarian-Slovak treaty does not solve existing problems but rather creates new tensions in bilateral relations, Chebeleu added. He further proposed the recently signed Romanian-Yugoslav treaty as a model for Bucharest and Budapest. -- Matyas Szabo PARENTS ACCUSE DNIESTER AUTHORITIES OF "CULTURAL GENOCIDE." Parents of pupils attending a Romanian-language school in Slobozia, a town in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, accused the authorities of practicing "cultural genocide" on their children, Moldpres reported on 27 May. In an open letter addressed to Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, the head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, and the ambassadors of the U.S., Ukraine, and the Russian Federation in Chisinau, more than 500 parents protested the compulsory use of the Russian--rather than the Latin--alphabet in the region's Romanian-language schools. The letter also complained that textbooks are decades old, written in the spirit of the bygone Soviet era, and each book is shared by five to 10 pupils. According to the appeal, some 35,000 pupils throughout the region are thus condemned to receive a poor, outmoded education. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIA, IMF REACH AGREEMENT. The Bulgarian government and an IMF mission on 27 May "in principle" agreed on a new standby loan, Reuters reported. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov said Bulgaria should gain around $400 million over the next 20 months from the agreement. IMF mission head Anne McGuirk said under the agreement a "tough reform program" lies ahead of Bulgaria. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said he will present his IMF-backed reform package to the parliament and the trade unions on 28 May and appealed to them to back it and not delay its implementation. The agreement has to be approved by the IMF board. Meanwhile, Bulgarian citizens will have a last chance to buy privatization vouchers between 1 and 9 June. Sales initially were closed on 8 May with just 40% of those eligible participating. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR STRONGER PRESIDENCY. Zhelyu Zhelev on 27 May called for an overhaul of the current parliamentary system, saying only a stronger presidency can get the country out of its present crisis, Reuters reported. Zhelev said Bulgaria "needs a stronger presidential republic" in this transitional stage and that he will push for changes "within the existing constitution." On state radio, Zhelev said the Socialists' fall from power is inevitable because they "proved unable to lead the country out of the crisis." Meanwhile, former Tsar Simeon said his present visit to Bulgaria will help him assess how he can contribute to the country's transition to democracy but pointed to the "limitations of what anybody can achieve with just...goodwill." He stressed that he is still king and repeated that he does not recognize the 1946 referendum abolishing the monarchy. -- Stefan Krause TURKISH, BOSNIAN, CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. The foreign ministers of Turkey, Bosnia, and Croatia held talks in Ankara, Western and Turkish media reported on 27 May. The meeting was part of Turkish efforts to shore up the Muslim-Croat federation, which is one of the cornerstones of the Dayton system. The talks aimed to demonstrate the commitment of all sides to the federation, Bosnia's post-war reconstruction, and the holding of general elections there in mid-September. Discussion also focused on the training of both Bosnian and Croatian soldiers in Turkey. An agreement for a ferry service between the Turkish port Mersin and the Croatian port Ploce was reached. It was announced that the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency will open an office in Zagreb after doing so in Sarajevo, Yeni Yuzyil reported on 28 May. Such tripartite consultations have become regular affairs. -- Lowell Bezanis [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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