|Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne|
No. 144, Part II, 26 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TWO ACCIDENTS AT UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR PLANT KILL WORKER, RELEASE RADIATION. Two accidents at the Khmelnytsky nuclear power plant on 25 July killed an employee and leaked radiation inside the station, Western and Ukrainian agencies reported the same day. The incidents occurred as the station's only working reactor was being tested for a planned restart since it was shut down on 20 April for maintenance. One employee sustained fatal injuries and burns when a steam pipe burst during the testing. Several hours later, radioactive water leaked into a nitrogen storage area after workers failed to make a safety check. Plant managers said radioactive contamination was limited to inside the plant and that the leaks measured level three on the IAEA's seven-level scale for nuclear accidents. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE OPENS INSTALLATION TO DISMANTLE SS-19s. Ukraine will open a facility on 26 July to dismantle and "neutralize" the 130 SS-19 intermediate-range ballistic missiles left on its territory by the collapse of the Soviet Union, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. The facility is located at the Yuzhmash plant in Dnepropetrovsk where the Soviet giant SS-18 missile was built. Sources in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told the agency that the facility would be able to process four missiles per month. The U.S. provided financial support for the project. -- Doug Clarke BELARUSIAN PARTIES UNITE AGAINST PRESIDENT. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has managed to unite seven political parties, ranging from liberals to communists, that issued a joint denunciation of his rule, Reuters reported on 25 July. Lukashenka is accused of violating the country's laws and constitution, mismanaging the economy, and planning to call a referendum on a new constitution and economic program that would turn the country into a "totalitarian regime." The strong language of the statement was unprecedented, as was the alliance of the seven parties, and comes two days before the fifth anniversary of Belarus's declaration of independence. The parties called for a round-table discussion between the president, prime minister, and the parliament as a way of resolving the dispute between legislature and executive. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN APPOINTMENTS. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree appointing Alyaksandr Sazonau as Minister of Business and Investment, Belarusian radio reported on 25 July. Before the appointment, Sazonau had been a presidential aide. Yauhen Valadzko was appointed railroad chief. His previous post had been Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications. Alyaksandr Minin was appointed Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, and chief of road works. Zinovii Pryhodzich was appointed first deputy chief of the State Committees for Publications. -- Ustina Markus CIA PLOT AGAINST BELARUS, UKRAINE DENIED. Russian Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin made a sensational statement charging the CIA with preparing subversive activities against Belarus from Warsaw, NTV, UNIAN, and ITAR- TASS reported on 25 July. He said a team of CIA agents were working in Poland to arrange mass strikes in Belarus in August. During the strikes, a couple of prominent members of the opposition are to be killed, and their deaths blamed on President Lukashenka. Ilyukhin said $254,000 has already been spent on the plot, a large part of which was paid to Ukrainian radicals belonging to the Ukrainian National Assembly- Ukrainian Self-Defense Organization (UNA-UNSO). Ilyukhin also said the IMF was giving money to help repatriate Crimean Tatars to the peninsula. Once a majority of Tatars move there, he said, a referendum on Crimea's secession will be organized and Turkey and the U.S. will immediately recognize the results. Belarusian and Western officials denied the plot existed. (See related story in "Russia" section.) -- Ustina Markus MOSCOW, CONSTANTINOPLE OFFICIALS MET IN ESTONIA. Heike Huttunen, the vicar in charge of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church under Constantinople and Father Superior Yenisei of th e Moscow Patriarchate, headed delegations meeting in Tallinn from 22-24 July, BNS reported the next day. The meeting sought to provide a realistic view of the two Orthodox churches in Estonia, as information previously sent to Moscow had reportedly been distorted. The delegation heads signed a document establishing direct contacts to facilitate communications and laying the foundation for constructive steps to resolve the conflict. In the next round of negotiations, metropolitans of the two churches are scheduled to meet in Tallinn on 20 August. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH FARM PARTIES. The Estonian Association of Industry and Employers on 24 July signed a cooperation agreement with the ruling coalition's farm parties, the Country People's Union, the Rural Union, and the Pensioners' and Families' Union, BNS reported the next day. The parties, together with the Blue Party, recently formed a pre-election alliance called National Cooperation. Association chairman Viljar Veskivali said that since the government had failed to provide equal opportunities to local producers by allowing the import of cheaper farm products, the association was breaking its ties with the Coalition Party. Its chairman, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, criticized the association's decision, asserting that it did not understand the market economy and placed too much trust in direct command. -- Saulius Girnius SOLIDARITY GAINING IN POLISH OPINION POLLS. Opinion poll results released this week indicate that the Solidarity "Electoral Action" coalition of opposition groupings is gaining ground on the post- communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the leading party in Poland's governing coalition, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 25 and 26 July. According to the Warsaw-based CBOS polling agency, Solidarity would win the parliamentary elections slated for fall 1997 if they were held today, garnering 26% of the vote, compared to 22% for the SLD. A poll by the Sopot-based Social Research Workshop placed support for both Solidarity and the SLD at 27%. Both polls measured support for the anti- communist Movement to Reconstruct Poland (ROP) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), the SLD's coalition partner, at 13-14%, while support for the center-left Freedom Union (UW) was measured at 8-11%. These forecasts suggest that a post-election coalition of Solidarity, ROP, and UW--assuming these fractious parties can cooperate--could displace the post-communist SLD-PSL coalition that has ruled since 1993. -- Ben Slay POLISH TV OFFICIALS SUSPENDED FOR ALLEGED MAFIA CONTACTS. A recent meeting in a Warsaw nightclub between Polish TV officials and alleged Mafiosi has resulted in a media scandal and the suspension of several of the officials, Polish media reported on 26 July. Milan Subotic, the director of the popular "Teleexpress" program, and two associates were suspended by PTV because some of Warsaw's leading mafia figures attended a celebration in the Dekadent nightclub earlier this month. The "Teleexpress affair" has set off a heated debate in Poland on the relationship between the press, the government, and the criminal underworld, which is known to frequent the Dekadent. Some observers have argued that party invitations from Polish journalists are a private matter, and charge that the suspensions illustrate PTV's growing subordination to the government. -- Ben Slay CZECHS DESTROY LAST SOVIET MISSILES. The Czech Republic has destroyed the last of its Soviet-supplied SS-23 intermediate-range missiles, CTK reported on 25 July. In the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the Soviet Union pledged to eliminate all its SS-23s. After the treaty had been signed, the U.S. discovered that SS-23s had also been supplied to Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany and an international controversy followed. Czechoslovakia had received 4 launchers and 24 missiles, and, in 1994, pledged to destroy them all. -- Doug Clarke SLOVAKIA'S RULING PARTY CALLS FOR CHANGE. Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy Marta Aibekova on 25 July said certain steps taken after the fall 1994 elections and seen by the West as "undemocratic" will be revised, Narodna obroda reported. Noting that much has changed in the past two years, Aibekova hinted that the ruling coalition's absolute control of certain state institutions will be loosened, giving the opposition a bigger role. HZDS legal expert Jan Cuper stressed that "if the opposition shares in governing, it cannot be a destructive opposition." Meanwhile, parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dusan Slobodnik, also a HZDS member, said the spreading of "untrue information" about Slovakia is the reason for the country's omission from the U.S. Congress's NATO expansion bill. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES BILL ON STATE SYMBOLS. The government on 23 July approved a draft law on the use of state symbols, Slovenska Republika reported the following day. If the bill becomes law, state offices would no longer be required to display portraits of the president. The bill would also prevent the public display of the Hungarian flag in southern Slovakia except during official visits by Hungarian officials. -- Sharon Fisher NATO OFFICIALS IN HUNGARY. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and U.S. General George Joulwan, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Forces in Europe, arrived in Hungary on 25 July for a two-day visit, Reuters and AFP reported. Talks with Prime Minister Gyula Horn focused on Bosnia and NATO expansion, but Solana refused to comment on when enlargement will take place. Solana and Joulwan also visited NATO troops in Hungary participating in the IFOR mission. Regarding NATO's role in apprehending indicted war criminals during the Bosnia peace mission, Joulwan said there will be no change to the policy of apprehending war criminals only if encountered. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN POLICE ENFORCE LAW AGAINST RACIST ASSAULT. Hungarian police enforced for the first time a new law against racist assault, arresting neo-Nazi skinheads accused of attacking a Nigerian man last month in Budapest, AFP reported on 25 July. Police said most of those arrested are members of the extremist Hungarian Welfare Society, which is currently under investigation for neo-Nazi activities. The Nigerian suffered slight injuries in the assault. A new Penal Code amendment passed on 13 March punishes incitement of hatred by up to three years in jail and ethnic violence by up to five years. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES END TO HARASSMENT OF SERBS. Hasan Muratovic told UN special envoy Iqbal Rizah and the head of the UN police force in Bosnia, Peter Fitzgerald, that he will personally attend to the security situation of the 8,000 Serbs still left in the Sarajevo suburbs. UN International Police Task Force (IPTF) spokesman Alexander Ivanko noted that some of the Serbs, who withstood intimidation by their own people last winter, now feel so harassed by Muslim thugs that they want to leave, Nasa Borba and Onasa reported on 26 July. Ivanko added that because of Muratovic's pledge, IPTF, IFOR and federal police have started patrols in the suburbs of Osjek and Ilidza. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, the international ombudsman's office opened its first branch on Serb-held territory to investigate human rights abuses, Onasa reported on 25 July. -- Patrick Moore IRANIAN DELEGATION IN SARAJEVO. Vice President Hasan Habibi arrived in Bosnia with a high-level delegation, Oslobodjenje reported on 26 July. He was met by Muratovic and will also have talks with President Alija Izetbegovic. Cultural and economic issues will top the agenda, especially Iranian assistance for post-war reconstruction. Tehran has already pledged $50 million in aid, and an economic agreement is expected to be signed following the first meeting of the new bilateral commission. Iran provided the mainly Muslim government army with weapons during the war and there is a hard-line faction in the governing Party of Democratic Action that is sympathetic to Tehran. But the vast majority of Bosnian Muslims are a secular, European people who want no part of Islamic fundamentalism. -- Patrick Moore DEADLINE FOR BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTERS EXTENDED. The OSCE's Bosnian office announced on 25 July an extension of the deadline for voter registration of Bosnian refugees abroad from 31 July to 5 August, Reuters reported on 26 July. Bosnian state television said the foreign ministry had asked the OSCE for an extension after finding that only 7% of eligible refugee voters has signed up as of 22 July. Around 1.4 million Bosnian refugees are dispersed in more than 35 countries, making it difficult for them to find out about the procedure for registration. -- Daria Sito Sucic EU DELEGATION IN ZAGREB TO PRESSURE CROATS. An EU delegation left for Zagreb on 25 July to hold talks with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on the Mostar crisis, AFP reported. The EU apparently hopes that Tudjman will pressure the Mostar Croats to participate in the new city council they have boycotted, citing election irregularities. Bosnian Federation Vice President Ejup Ganic, meanwhile, called an EU threat to withdraw its mission by 4 August unless the Croats play by the rules a "bad sign," Onasa reported. The Croatian Democratic Community said it would refuse to prolong the EU mandate unless the dispute over the ballot has been cleared. -- Fabian Schmidt MOSQUE SET ABLAZE IN CROAT-CONTROLLED TOWN. A mosque was set on fire on 25 July in the town of Prozor in central Bosnia, the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje reported the next day. Unidentified assailants broke into the mosque, dumped gasoline and set it ablaze. The mosque's inside was reportedly destroyed. The town had a 37% Muslim population before the war, Oslobodjenje reported. In other news, a Bosnian railroad official announced that the railroad from Sarajevo to Mostar, along with the destroyed Mostar train station, will reopen next week for the first time since the war, international agencies reported on 26 July. -- Daria Sito Sucic BREAKTHROUGH IN RUMP YUGOSLAV-BOSNIAN RELATIONS? Rump Yugoslav media continue coverage of reactions to the two-day visit to Belgrade by a fifteen-member Bosnian delegation, headed by Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic (See OMRI Daily Digest 24 and 25 July). Nasa Borba on 26 June reported remarks by Kasim Trnka, delegate member and Bosnia- Herzegovina's ambassador in Zagreb. According to Trnka, the landmark Belgrade visit failed to generate any substantial political breakthroughs, and any "establishing of bilateral diplomatic relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and [rump] Yugoslavia will have to wait." According to Trnka, Belgrade's insistence that Bosnia drop its "charges of genocide," and rump Yugoslavia's insistence on recognition as the successor state of Tito's Yugoslavia continue to block diplomatic progress. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA UNHAPPY WITH HUNGARIAN RESPONSE. Deputy Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu said on 24 July that Romania was dissatisfied with the Hungarian reply to its demand for clarifications concerning the statement released 5 July in Budapest on the Hungarian government's support for autonomy of ethnic Hungarian abroad, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. Comanescu said the statement created tensions, as did the announcement that Budapest is going to allot a fixed percentage of its budget to assist Hungarians living in neighboring countries. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS U.S. VISIT. Teodor Melescanu returned to Bucharest on 25 July from a 10-day lobbying trip to the United States, Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported. Melescanu, who met with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, U.S. legislators, and other senior officials, said he was confident about Romania's prospect of being among the first former communist countries to be admitted into NATO as a full member. He reaffirmed Romania's opposition to a gradual expansion of the alliance that he said would create a new divide in Europe. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PREMIER MEETS WITH KUCHMA. Andrei Sangheli met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 24 July in Foros, a resort in Crimea, BASA- press reported the following day. The two discussed economic cooperation, including cooperation in the energy sector; the implementation of the bilateral free-trade agreement; the mutual recognition of property rights; and the transit of Moldovan goods through Ukrainian territory. The sides reportedly agreed upon the volume and the conditions of deliveries of Ukrainian coal, but no precise data were released on the amount of coal the Moldova plans to import this fall or next spring. According to official statistics, Moldova imported some 2 million tons of Ukrainian coal in 1995. -- Dan Ionescu PIRINSKI SAYS HE WON'T RESIGN. The Bulgarian Socialist Party's presidential candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, said on 25 July that he will not withdraw his candidacy despite a Constitutional Court ruling that effectively bars him from the presidency (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1996), Duma reported. He accused the court of taking political decisions and of exceeding its mandate. Pirinski said "The situation in the country is complicated and tense enough and the Constitutional Court decision ... adds more tension between state institutions and society." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIA FINALLY ADOPTS COAT OF ARMS. The parliament on 25 July adopted a new coat of arms, 24 chasa and Standart reported. Some 110 deputies voted for the Socialist proposal, 11 voted against, and seven abstained. The total number of deputies is 240. The coat of arms depicts a golden lion rampant in a dark red shield. The opposition walked out before the vote to protest the fact that the lion is not crowned. The opposition had demanded that the pre-1946 coat of arms of the monarchy -- which depicts three crowned lions -- be restored and that a referendum be held if consensus is not reached among the deputies. They argue the crown is a sign of state sovereignty, while most Socialists say it symbolizes the monarchy and is inappropriate for a republic. -- Stefan Krause VAN DEN BROEK IN ALBANIA. EU commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broek arrived in Tirana on 25 July to discuss with President Sali Berisha the current political and economic situation in Albania and its relations with the EU, AFP reported. He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Alexander Meksi and Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu. Van den Broek declined to comment on the content of the talks. He was also scheduled to meet Albania's opposition parties and ambassadors from the EU's 15 member states. Van den Broek will later fly to Macedonia for meetings with President Kiro Gligorov and Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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