|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
No. 141, Part I, 23 July 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 ************************************************************************ Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments throughout the region. The latest edition includes these stories: Ukraine deals Russian banks another blow; Czech social democrats call for changes in economic policy; and Moldova faces an energy crisis. For subscription and rate information, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** CENTRAL EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION PARTY WILL COOPERATE WITH GOVERNMENT. The nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) announced that it was no longer satisfied with its role as an opposition party, and will observe the Ukrainian constitution and cooperate with the government, UNIAN reported on 20 July. The same day, deputy Oleh Vitovych was elected chairman of UNA. He said the party was no longer thinking of its own survival, but of "victory in the political struggle." The national democratic Rukh has reached final stage in its collection of signatures to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine, according to NTV. Some 3 million people have reportedly signed the petition. Under the new constitution, only the Constitutional Court (which has not yet been formed) can decide to dissolve the Communist Party. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES NEW CONSTITUTION. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he would present a new economic program and a new constitution to parliament in September, Reuters reported on 22 July. Lukashenka said he did not expect parliament to accept the documents, in which case he would call a referendum. His version of a new constitution envisages a bi-cameral parliament and "real separation of powers." Deputy speaker Henadz Karpenka called the move an "anti-constitutional coup," and urged a five-year moratorium on constitutional changes. Lukashenka also criticized Russia for its unwillingness to write off Belarus's $600 million gas debt. He said Russia has "behaved indecently" since signing the customs union with Belarus. -- Ustina Markus DECREES AND SENTENCING IN BELARUS. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a decree on supporting small businesses, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. The support would be offered primarily to manufacturers, but also to businesses working as intermediaries in services and trade. Businesses eligible for the support would have to have paid their taxes in full. In other news, the leader of the Belarusian Beer-Lovers' Party, Andrei Ramasheusky was sentenced to two year's imprisonment for burning a new Belarusian Soviet-style flag, Belapan reported on 19 July. The sentence was suspended, but Ramasheusky will remain on probation for one year. He had been in custody since 29 April. -- Ustina Markus CHAIRMAN OF ESTONIA FERRY INQUIRY COMMISSION RESIGNS. Former Estonian Transportation and Communications Minister Andi Meister said on 22 July that he was resigning for health reasons as the chairman of the three- nation commission investigating the disaster involving the ferry Estonia, Western and Baltic agencies reported. The ferry, which was traveling from Tallinn to Stockholm, sank off the Finnish coast in September 1994 with the loss of 852 lives. Meister charges that the Swedish Maritime Authority did not hand over underwater videotapes of the sunken ferry that might reveal whether the Estonian captain was on the ship's bridge when it sank. Swede Olof Forssberg, however, denied the accusations, saying that such tapes did not exist. The commission is expected to meet twice more before presenting its final report in December. -- Saulius Girnius GDANSK GOVERNOR REPLACED BY POLISH RULING PARTY. Maciej Plazynski, chief administrative officer of the Gdansk region, is to be replaced by a member of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the senior party in Poland's governing coalition, Rzeczpospolita reported on 23 July. Plazynski's replacement by SLD official Henryk Wojciechowski comes in the aftermath of the central government's June decision to close the bankrupt Gdansk Shipyard, a historical symbol of Poland's opposition to communism. Council of Ministers Secretary Leszek Miller of the SLD--a descendant of Poland's Communist Party--recommended the change. Plazynski had proposed an alternative plan in June to rescue the Shipyards, but the Privatization Ministry in Warsaw rejected it. Plazynski's removal is viewed by the political opposition as the most recent in a series of steps by the SLD to "clean house" in the Gdansk region. -- Ben Slay CZECH GOVERNMENT'S FATE UNCERTAIN BEFORE CONFIDENCE VOTE. Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the strongest group in the minority coalition government, declared on 22 July that it will decline an offer to form another government if the parliament does not approve the government at the session starting today. Czech media reported that the opposition Social Democrats have not decided whether they will support the government. ODS Deputy Chairman Ivan Pilip said on 20 July that his party may attempt to recall CSSD Chairman Milos Zeman from the post of parliament chairman if the CSSD votes against the government. He said Zeman was elected to the post with ODS support in exchange for his promise to support the minority government led by Klaus. Another ODS Deputy Chairman, Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, told journalists on 22 July that he would not accept an offer to form a new government because such a step is designed to split the ODS. Some CSSD leaders indicated that Zieleniec would be more acceptable as prime minister than Klaus. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK COALITION PARTY TO INITIATE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. Slovak National Party (SNS) deputy chairwoman Anna Malikova on 22 July announced that her party will initiate several measures dealing with the Hungarian minority, Slovak media reported. Domestic measures include speeding up the passage of the Penal Code amendment on the protection of the republic, the submission and passage of a local election law "based on the proportional principal according to nationality," and the reevaluation of constitutional articles 15 and 34. Article 15 prohibits the death penalty, while Article 34 deals with ethnic minority rights. Malikova said the latter should be changed to ensure that minorities have not only "the right" but also the "obligation" to master the state language. The SNS also wants to pass a law setting conditions for erecting monuments in Slovakia. Concerning foreign policy, the SNS will soon inform the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly about the "problematic position of Slovakia's Hungarian minority." -- Sharon Fisher CASE AGAINST TOP SLOVAK OFFICIALS DROPPED. Police have dropped a case against Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek and Slovak Information Service chief Ivan Lexa, Slovak media reported on 22-23 July. Charges were filed against them in May by Ivan Duris, chairman of the extraparliamentary Republican Party, after a taped conversation demonstrated their interference in the police investigation into last August's kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son. The case against Hudek and Lexa was dropped since there was "no suspicion of criminal activity." -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Opposition Christian Democratic parliamentary caucus leader Tamas Isepy and Zoltan Trombitas of the Young Democrats on 22 July rejected the possibility of forming a coalition with the ruling Socialist Party, Hungarian media reported. Both leaders said cooperation with the Socialist Party is currently inconceivable since it is a communist successor party. However, if the Socialists transform into a genuine social democratic party, such a coalition could be possible, they said. They were reacting to an interview with Socialist vice president Gyorgy Janosi the previous day, when he said his party would welcome a coalition with the two opposition parties after the 1998 parliamentary elections. Janosi criticized the Socialists' current junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats, and stressed that the two opposition parties' programs are closest to that of the Socialists. The current government's austerity measures have hurt the ruling parties' popularity as Hungary's short-term economic prospects remain unfavorable. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. TO KEEP UP PRESSURE ON KARADZIC. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum will return to Belgrade this weekend, he told the BBC on 22 July. Kornblum's aim will be to convince Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that Bosnian Serb civilian leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic must be clearly "out of power, out of influence." The diplomat added that Karadzic will have to leave Bosnia and eventually wind up in The Hague, and that the new nominal Bosnian Serb leaders must be more cooperative with the international community than Karadzic was. While in keeping with the Dayton agreement, this goes well beyond the deal U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke clinched the previous week. Washington may well be lucky to get Serbian cooperation in carrying out Holbrooke's package, let alone getting Karadzic to The Hague. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB ARMY WOULD NOT REACT TO KARADZIC'S ARREST? Gen. Zdravko Tolimir, deputy to Serb army chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, told NATO Commander Michael Walker that the army has been indifferent to Radovan Karadzic's replacement as the Republika Srpska (RS) president, and it would not react by force if NATO attempts to arrest Karadzic, Nasa Borba reported on 23 July citing the London-based Times. The RS army delegation underscored the fear that the Serb military would seek revenge for its former president's capture has not been justified. -- Daria Sito Sucic INVESTIGATION BEGINS AT LARGEST MASS GRAVE. UN forensics and archeological experts began exhuming a huge burial site at the Nova Kasaba soccer field near Srebrenica on 22 July, Onasa stated. U.S. spy satellite photos had shown large amounts of disturbed earth in the area where survivors had reported mass executions a year ago. American diplomats said that as many as 2,500 Muslim males might be buried there, Nasa Borba noted, but the UN was reluctant to discuss figures at such an early stage. The experts nonetheless discovered bodies at the site almost immediately, the BBC reported. The soccer field could prove to be the largest mass grave in eastern Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERBS USE AID TO BLACKMAIL VOTERS. UNHCR spokesman in Republika Srpska (RS) reported the Serb authorities are using humanitarian aid to blackmail voters to register in certain areas, Onasa reported on 22 July. Mans Nyberg warned that refugees from the Bosnian federation in the RS will be deprived of their right to relief aid if they register to vote as residents of their former towns. An unnamed UN official said documents seen by UN workers indicated instructions for the policy had come from the ruling Serb nationalist Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). The SDS policy is to create RS as a Serb-only state, and votes cast in the places of refugees' former residency would be wasted votes for the party. Nyberg said this abuse of aid for political reasons was "scandalous and unacceptable," and if the practice was not halted, "alternative means of distributing humanitarian assistance would be adopted." -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN CROATS BOYCOTT FIRST SESSION OF MOSTAR CITY COUNCIL. Deputies from the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) did not participate in the constituent session of the Mostar city council on 23 July, Reuters reported. West Mostar Mayor Mile Puljic earlier warned that the Croats would "not accept the final election results because they were not published by the local electoral commission." The EU declared the elections valid after a continuing Croat blockade in the electoral commission following minor voting irregularities. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic criticized the HDZ's boycott and appealed to Dick Spring, the chairman of the EU Council of Ministers, to intervene, saying that it "blocks the entire process of the democratic settlement of the crisis in Mostar." -- Fabian Schmidt RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICER SENTENCED FOR SPYING. Lt. Col. Nedeljko Varicak has been sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment for allegedly spying for an unspecified but "newly-formed neighboring state," Politika Ekspres reported on 22 July. The daily described Varicek as a high- ranking security officer operating near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the town of Uzice. AFP reported, however, that officials in Belgrade have yet to confirm the story. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN ELECTORAL UPDATE. The Socialist Labor Party (PSM) on 22 July announced that it has gathered the 100,000 signatures in support of Senator Adrian Paunescu, its candidate in the November presidential elections, Radio Bucharest announced on the same day. Paunescu, a former Ceausescu "court-poet," is the first candidate to have fulfilled this legal requirement. In other developments, on 19 July the chairman of the Agrarian Democratic Party (PDAR), Victor Surdu, told a press conference that his party's alliance with the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) has "practically ceased to exist" because the PUNR has decided to run alone in the parliamentary elections, also scheduled for November. In turn, PUNR chairman Gheorghe Funar said in an interview published in the daily Cronica romana on 23 July that the alliance known as the National Unity Bloc ended because the PUNR had proposed the merging of its members (PUNR, PDAR and the Ecological Movement), but the PDAR "prefers a perpetual affiance to a marriage." -- Michael Shafir ROMANIA SEEKS TO MODERNIZE ITS ARMY. Romania is seeking up to $ 400 million in loans to buy military technology needed to boost its NATO admission chances, Reuters reported on 22 July, quoting a Defense Ministry press release. The government has allowed the ministry to "prospect international markets" for credits in order to finance projects ranging from weapon acquisition to restructuring of its own arms industry. The statement said the loans would be guaranteed by the Romanian government. -- Michael Shafir CHISINAU-TIRASPOL TALKS POSTPONED. The new round of talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol, scheduled to take place on 23 July, has been indefinitely postponed, according to a press release of the Moldovan presidency cited by BASA-Press on 22 July. The statement said the postponement was due to the vacation of "certain Moldovan and Transdniestrian officials" and to the need to address unresolved social and economic problems. The postponement, however, appears to fall in line with President Mircea Snegur's new tactics of delaying the signing of the memorandum between the two conflicting sides. Presidential advisor Victor Josu was quoted by Infotag on the same day as saying that the idea of signing the memorandum on normalizing relations "has lost its immediacy." Josu said the memorandum, as drafted, has many faults, among them failure to mention the preservation of Moldovan territorial integrity and was of "too general a character." -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION FORMATIONS CONCLUDE ALLIANCE. The opposition Christian Democratic Popular Front, the main pro-Romanian political formation, and the Alliance of Democratic Forces, an umbrella organization uniting six political organizations, on 22 July signed an agreement on a political alliance, Moldovan press agencies reported on the same day. The signatories said the alliance reflected the groups' similar political platforms and their rejection of the "anti-national, anti-social and anti-democratic policy" of the Agrarian-Democratic Party of Moldova and its allies. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIA GETS ARMS FROM RUSSIA. The first shipment of a total of 100 tanks and 100 armored vehicles that Russia agreed to give to Bulgaria in June 1995 arrived on 22 July, Reuters reported. Some 25 T-72 battle tanks and 50 BMP-1 combat vehicles were delivered to Varna, and Bulgaria in turn will decommission an equal amount of older hardware. Under the CFE treaty, Russia must either destroy the arms or give them away. Observers say the hardware is a reward for the Bulgarian government's reluctance to apply for full NATO membership. Under another agreement, Russia will also provide spare military parts to repay part of its $100 million debt to Bulgaria. In other news, two Interior Ministry officials and two policemen were arrested for illegal arms trade. It is the first case in which Interior Ministry officials have been charged with illegal trade of machine guns. -- Stefan Krause PIRINSKI OUT OF BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE? The Constitutional Court on 23 July will decide whether the presidential candidate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, fulfills the constitutional requirement that the president must be Bulgarian by birth, Bulgarian newspapers reported. Many dailies reported that the court will prevent Pirinski from running. According to Kontinent, nine of the 12 judges maintain that Pirinski does not fulfill the requirement because he was not a Bulgarian citizen when he was born in New York in 1948 to a Bulgarian emigre. Some 54 opposition deputies had asked the court to clarify what the term "Bulgarian by birth" means. A simple majority of the Constitutional Court judges in need to rule on the case. -- Stefan Krause MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS PROTEST AGAINST ARREST OF UNIVERSITY LEADERS. Macedonian police on 22 July broke up a demonstration of some 2,000 ethnic Albanians protesting against the jailing of Tetovo University Dean Fadil Sulejmani and four other university activists, Reuters reported. According to local radio, one police car was wrecked during clashes that broke out near Tetovo prison but no injuries were reported. Sulejmani began serving his 18-month jail sentence the same day. Other, unconfirmed reports, suggest the clashes erupted while police arrested Sulejmani, however. AFP reports that the demonstrators dispersed after an appeal by Sulejmani, but vowed to take their protest further to the U.S. embassy in Skopje, the OSCE and the UN. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN COMMUNIST ERA OFFICIALS SENTENCED FOR 1991 SHOOTING. Communist- era Defense Minister Kico Mustaqi was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of inciting cadets at the military academy to open fire on demonstrators in 1991. Five people were killed and 37 wounded. The Tirana court, led by Shyqyri Dylgjeri, also sentenced Ksenofon Ceni and Arseni Stroka, two directors of the academy, to three and four years, respectively, on 19 July. All three fled Albania five years ago and were sentenced in absence, Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Carla Atkinson ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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