|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 107, Part II, 3 June 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 LAST NUCLEAR WARHEADS REMOVED FROM UKRAINE. Ukraine became a nuclear- free state on 1 June, when the last of some 1,600 strategic warheads located on its territory were removed to Russia, international agencies reported. When the Soviet Union broke apart, Ukraine inherited 130 SS-19 missiles and 46 SS-24 missiles, as well as 2,500 tactical nuclear weapons. The tactical weapons were all removed in 1992. After prolonged negotiations over disarmament aid and security guarantees, Ukraine signed a trilateral agreement with Russia and the U.S. in January 1994, which promised $1 billion in compensation to Ukraine, mostly in the form of fuel rods for Ukraine's five nuclear power stations. U.S. President Bill Clinton praised Ukraine for its "remarkable achievement," and Russian President Boris Yeltsin said he welcomed Ukraine's nuclear-free status. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma stressed Ukraine's commitment not to deploy, produce or receive nuclear weapons, and said he hoped aid to Ukraine would continue after all the provisions of the trilateral agreement were fulfilled. -- Ustina Markus CFE FLANK-ZONE CHANGES BENEFIT UKRAINE. The Vienna review conference for the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which ended on 1 June, agreed to shift Ukraine's Odesa oblast out of the treaty's "flanks" zone, Western media reported. Like Russia, Ukraine had complained that the limits placed on arms that could be stationed in this zone were unreasonable. Under the original treaty terms Ukraine could have no more than 10% of its arms in an area making up 23% of its territory. This restricted area is now appreciably smaller, consisting of 4 oblasts rather than 5. -- Doug Clarke MORE ON 30 MAY DEMONSTRATION IN MINSK. The Belarusian Ministry of Interior announced that 84 people were arrested during the 30 May demonstrations, international agencies reported the following day. Trials began on 31 May with judges going from one prison cell to the next and issuing sentences up to 15 days. Eight people including two policemen were wounded when security forces broke up the demonstration. NTV reported that the parliament set up a special commission to look into the methods of the security forces in breaking up the demonstration. The special forces reportedly used gas and truncheons to break up the rally. Reuters reported former speaker Mechyslau Hryb warning that such arrests and police beatings were setting a dangerous precedent, while presidential official Yuryi Kulakausky blamed demonstrators for "running amok." -- Ustina Markus LATVIA'S WAY SUPPORTS ULMANIS FOR PRESIDENT. Latvia's Way (LC) Chairman Valdis Birkavs announced on 31 May that his party would vote for incumbent President Guntis Ulmanis in the Saeima on 18 June, BNS reported. Prime Minister Andris Skele also came out in support of Ulmanis noting that he was able to act "constructively and determinately in the complicated political situation. " LC deputy Janis Adamsons, however, said that he would vote for the Democratic Party Saimnieks candidate, Ilga Kreituse. LC leaders said that Adamsons would have to leave the party if he did not vote for Ulmanis, but since the voting will be secret they will not be able to check how Adamsons voted. Latvia's Farmers' Union, Latvia's Christian Democratic Union, and Latvia's National Independence Party have announced their support for Ulmanis, as have several deputies from the Popular Concord Party and two independent deputies. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT, PARTIES MEET OVER PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS. Algirdas Brazauskas held talks on 31 May with leaders of the parties represented in the parliament, BNS reported. The president rejected the proposal by opposition parties to hold parliamentary elections three weeks earlier than the announced date of 20 October. However, Brazauskas agreed that the second Sunday of March would be a better date for future elections, and said the Constitution would have to be amended to make this change. This would result in the next parliament serving six months longer, or until March 2001. The meeting also concurred that voters be asked to choose concrete names on party lists, which would help determine which candidates would be elected. It was agreed that the necessary barrier for all parties to gain parliament seats would be 4%, abolishing the previous exception that set a lower barrier of only 2% for parties representing national minorities. -- Saulius Girnius PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE APPROVES DECISION TO DROP OLEKSY CASE. Colonel Wlodzimierz Pospiech, spokesman for the Supreme Military Prosecutor's Office, said on 31 May that the decision to drop the investigation into spying allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy and definitively close the case was justified, Polish and international media reported on 1 June. The office had reviewed the 22 April decision to discontinue the investigation into allegations that the former prime minister had spied for Moscow, and concluded that an analysis of the evidence justified the decision to discontinue the investigation. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH ELECTIONS END IN STALEMATE. Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) won the Czech parliamentary elections held on 31 May-1 June, with 29.6% of the popular vote, followed by the Social Democrats (CSSD) with 26.4%, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) with 10.3%, the Christian Democratic Union (KDU) with 8%, the Republican Party (SRP) with 8%, and the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) with 6.3%. Although the Central Electoral Commission will announce the final seat allocation on 3 June, projections show that the right-of-center coalition of the ODS, the ODA, and the KDU, that has ruled in the past four years has gained only 99 seats, 2 less than a simple majority in the 200-seat parliament. President Vaclav Havel will meet with the leaders of the three coalition parties and the CSSD on 23 June to discuss possible ways of forming a government, Czech media report. The real winner of the elections is the CSSD, as it will determine the fate of any minority government that the three right-of-center parties could form. A CSSD leader has been quoted by CTK as saying his party may support a minority government but not with Vaclav Klaus as prime minister. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS PROTEST AT STATE TV BUILDING. A group of human rights activists, representing the newly formed Action Initiative to Preserve Freedom, on 31 May attempted to enter the Slovak Television (STV) building in Bratislava to demand more objective news coverage, international press reported. The activists tried to deliver a critical memorandum to STV director Jozef Darmo, but STV guards prevented them from entering the building. STV spokesman Eduard Ivancik called the protesters' choice of action "extremist". The undelivered memorandum urges STV's leadership to serve not just the ruling party, but all citizens, whose funds help keep the station afloat. The initiative, comprised of some 20 non-governmental organizations, was formed earlier this year to fight proposed amendments to the penal code that would curb such democratic rights as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HIGH LEVEL MEETING ON BOSNIA OPENS IN GENEVA. The presidents of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina began meetings on 2 June with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt, and top officials of the Contact Group countries. This is the latest in a series of summits designed to prop up the Dayton agreement, but which to date have largely led only to a repetition of unkept promises. High on the Americans' agenda is the political future of Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. The BBC suggested that the U.S. delegation nonetheless accepted the view of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that Belgrade is unable to force Karadzic to resign -- let alone deliver him to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague -- and that the best one could hope for would be to "neutralize" him politically, Nasa Borba added on 3 June. -- Patrick Moore HOW CERTAIN ARE THE BOSNIAN ELECTIONS? Christopher seems anxious to secure Milosevic's cooperation in meeting a key U.S. objective, namely the holding of elections by mid-September as specified in the Dayton agreement, the BBC noted on 3 June. To that end Washington is apparently willing to believe that the Serbian leader is unable to control the Bosnian Serbs, on whose behalf he signed the treaty. That document also specifies that indicted war criminals have no political future in Bosnia and must be sent to The Hague. A European diplomat noted that the Bosnian elections will go ahead nonetheless because the Clinton administration is determined to have them over before Americans vote in November. Nasa Borba, however, quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying that there cannot be fair elections unless Karadzic is in The Hague. Bosnia's UN ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey said that the international community and the U.S. in particular are pressuring his government to hold elections "at any price." -- Patrick Moore TOPIC SAYS MOSTAR WILL REMAIN DIVIDED CITY. Jadranko Topic, the president of Mostar branch of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), the strongest Croat party both in Croatia and Bosnia, said the elections will firmly demonstrate the existence of the three Croat and three Muslim municipalities in Mostar, Oslobodjenje reported on 3 June. According to Topic, a forthcoming elections are just an opportunity for people to have fun, while verifying "the struggle of the Croat people in these areas...Eventually, the Bosnian Federation will have to be organized like Mostar, ...it will have to comprise Croat and Muslim municipalities, cantons and regions," Onasa on 31 May quoted him as saying. Meanwhile, EU administrator for Mostar Ricardo Peres Casado announced an election amendment establishing voting polls in a number of European countries, pending their approval. -- Daria Sito Sucic CHANGES CERTAIN IN RUMP YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT. The federal rump Yugoslav government, headed by Premier Radoje Kontic, is slated to undergo "a reconstruction", Nasa Borba reported on 31 May. According to the daily, one new ministry is likely to be created, and up to four new ministers will be named. The only news that was certain is that Minister without Portfolio Vuk Ognjanovic is leaving the cabinet. The news of this latest restructuring came only two days after the Serbian government announced its own restructuring, which saw adherents and sympathizers of Serbian President Milosevic's wife's party, the United Yugoslav Left, promoted into that republic's cabinet -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER AND THE ITALIAN QUESTION. Zoran Thaler, Slovenia's foreign minister, announced on 1 June that Slovenia is likely to sign an association agreement with the EU in Luxembourg on 10 or 11 June, international media reported that same day. Thaler hinted that Italy's objections, centering around disputes over ethnic Italians who fled what is now Slovenia after the Second World War and their property rights, had been overcome, paving the way for the signing. Thaler's high-profile announcement has also renewed speculation that he may attempt to hold on to the foreign ministry post at least until new elections are held. Thaler lost a no confidence vote on 16 May, which prompted the announcement of his resignation. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIA NAMES AMBASSADOR TO BELGRADE. Macedonia appointed its ambassador to rump Yugoslavia, international media reported on 2 June. Slavko Milosavlevski is the first ambassador of a former Yugoslav republic to Belgrade. His appointment follows the mutual recognition of Belgrade and Skopje on 8 April. In other news, Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 31 May accused Macedonia of not being "flexible enough" to solve the language dispute between the two countries, Reuters reported. Videnov said Sofia had suggested many compromises but Skopje did not accept them. Bulgaria was the first country to recognize independent Macedonia, but has so far not recognized the existence of a separate Macedonian nation or language. The issue has delayed the signing of intergovernmental agreements in recent years. It is also believed to have been the reason for Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski last-minute cancellation on 22 April of a visit to Macedonia. -- Stefan Krause LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ROMANIA. Romania held local elections on 2 June, Radio Bucharest reported. Some 16 million were eligible to vote in nearly 3,000 constituencies to elect mayors, as well as members of local and county councils. Most of the attention was focused on the race for mayor in Bucharest, with former tennis star Ilie Nastase running for the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. According to preliminary reports, the turnout appears to have been extremely low nationwide. Radio Bucharest quoted Emil Constantinescu, the leader of the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania, as speaking of a "record of absenteeism" that would force a repeat of the polls in many places. The law provides for a new round of voting within two weeks in constituencies where the turnout was under 50%. Final returns are not expected before 5 June. -- Dan Ionescu FORMER MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST LEADER IN TIRASPOL. Ivan Bodiul, former first secretary of the Communist Party of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic, met in Tiraspol with Igor Smirnov, the president of the self- proclaimed "Dniester republic," BASA-press reported on 31 May. The two exchanged views about the Dniester conflict and its possible settlement. Observers of the local scene believe that Bodiul might be asked by some political circles to broker the ongoing negotiations between Chisinau and Tiraspol. The 78-year-old Bodiul, who was Moldova's party boss in the 1960s, currently lives in Moscow. He is reportedly on a private, fact-finding visit in the Republic of Moldova and its breakaway Dniester region. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PRESIDENT DEFEATED IN PRIMARIES. Zhelyu Zhelev on 1 June was clearly defeated by Union of Democratic Forces Deputy Chairman Petar Stoyanov in primaries aimed at determining a joint presidential candidate of the anti-Socialist opposition, Bulgarian media reported. According to preliminary results, Zhelev received around 35% against Stoyanov's 65%. The turnout was around 12%; all Bulgarians over 18 years were eligible to vote. According to unofficial results from regional electoral commissions, Stoyanov won in most regions, with the notable exception of those with an ethnic Turkish majority, where Zhelev got 74- 84% of the vote. The final results are expected to be announced on 3 June. -- Stefan Krause PROTESTS AGAINST BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUE. Protests against the latest government-imposed price hikes and austerity measures continued on 31 May, when some 20,000 people demonstrated in Sofia under the motto "Let's Save Bulgaria," Reuters reported. At the meeting, Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski called for early parliamentary elections. Sofia taxi drivers and public transport workers announced that they will strike on 3 June. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 1 June told state TV that there will be changes in the government, but not under the pressure of an ultimatum. Socialist legislators have repeatedly demanded the replacement of several key ministers they accuse of incompetence. Videnov said those matters will be discussed at the next meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) Executive Bureau on 8 June. The BSP candidates for president and vice president will be picked at the same meeting, Videnov said. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES DECLARE HUNGER STRIKE. Members of the Socialist Party, the Social Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance began a hunger strike on 31 May to protest alleged manipulations and irregularities during the parliamentary elections on 26 May. Parliamentary candidates from all over Albania participate in the protest which the parties are holding in their respective headquarters in Tirana. The Socialists declared an indefinite hunger strike, demanding new elections, while the other two parties told OMRI they would do it for three days. The three opposition parties together with the Agrarian Party, the Party of the Democratic Right, and the Party for National Unity, meanwhile, have called for a protest rally in Tirana on 4 June. The demonstration will be held in the Ali Demi stadium outside the city center, since another demonstration on central Skanderbeg square was violently broken up by police the previous week. -- Fabian Schmidt LOW VOTER TURNOUT IN ALBANIAN RUN-OFF ELECTIONS. Following the withdrawal of opposition parties from the electoral commission and a call to boycott the second round of the poll, the voter turnout on 2 June was very low. No official results have yet been published, but international agency reports suggest that far less than 50% of the voters may have participated in the ballot. Run off elections took place in ten electoral districts and no irregularities were reported. Candidates from the ruling Democratic Party are likely to win in all districts due to the opposition boycott. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department on 1 June urged Albania to repeat the elections in some areas. It is unclear if the opposition would participate in such a partial rerun, but Gazeta Shqiptare speculated that they might agree to a repeat of the ballot in some 40 out of 150 districts. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Ustina Markus ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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