|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
No. 153, Part II, 8 August 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 *********************************************************************** Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: email@example.com *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE COAL MINING UNION LEADERS IN UKRAINE PROTEST GOVERNMENT "CRACKDOWN." Leaders of the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine protested what they are calling a government campaign to discredit and disband their organization, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 6-7 August. Union activists said the 1 August arrest of a prominent strike leader, Mykhailo Krylov, the earlier arrests of two strike organizers in Luhansk and a police search on 6 August of a union office in Krasnoarmeysk revealed a crackdown by Kyiv. They said that the police ransacked the union's offices and confiscated documents related to the July coal miners' strikes in an attempt to intimidate them and collect evidence against the union's leadership. UNIAN reported on 6 August that leaders of the Social Democratic Party issued a statement in Kyiv demanding the immediate release of strike organizers, calling it a violation of human rights. -- Chrystyna Lapychak MORE PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS IN UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma has re-appointed the chairmen of two government commissions and set up a new body aimed at coordinating measures to implement the new Ukrainian Constitution, Ukrainian TV and radio reported on 7 August. Kuchma appointed Volodymyr Yevtukh as chairman of the new State Commission on Nationalities and Migration, formed on the basis of the former Ministry of Nationalities and Migration, headed by Yevtukh. He also reappointed Pavlo Mysnyk to head the State Committee on State Secrets and the Technical Protection of Information. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON ROUND-TABLE, REFERENDUM. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka rejected the proposal to hold a round-table discussion to resolve differences between him and the parliament, Belarusian radio reported on 7 August. He said he was ready to discuss his proposed referendum and economic program with experts, but not with political parties. Lukashenka added that he was pleased that the nationalist Belarusian Popular Front and the communists have finally found common cause and united, but said there was no need for him to sit at a round- table with them. He also set 7 November as the referendum date, and said there would be three to five questions on changing the constitution. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ON PRESIDENT. Syamyon Sharetsky said he was outraged by the situation in Belarus, Belapan reported on 6 August. He said that television spent entire evenings broadcasting struggles against "imaginary, non-existent enemies." These included certain deputies, the Constitutional Court, parliament, and "now all of Belarus is supposedly surrounded by CIA agents." (A reference to Russian deputy Viktor Ilyukhin's allegations that the CIA was plotting to destabilize Belarus.) Sharetsky said this was creating an abnormal situation in the republic, and urged President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to participate in the round-table along with the prime minister, head of the Constitutional Court, and other leading politicians. -- Ustina Markus SIGNATURES GATHERED FOR MERI'S RE-ELECTION. Reform Party Chairwoman Valve Kirsipuu announced on 6 August that the required 21 parliament deputies' signatures supporting Lennart Meri's candidacy as president had been collected, BNS reported. The deputies were from the Reform Party, Coalition Party, and Moderates Party. Pro Patria faction deputies that had also been expected to sign said that they would do so only after Meri formally agreed to be a candidate. The elections will be held on 26 and 27 August with a candidate needing to get a two-thirds majority of votes (67) in the parliament to win. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA NOT TOLD ABOUT RUSSIAN NAVAL EXERCISES. The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on 7 August that it had not received any information from Russia concerning the ongoing exercises of Russia's Baltic Fleet. The fleet's press center in Kaliningrad told BNS that they were not military exercises, but a "cruise by a group of ships." The "cruise" will last for about 20 days and includes a submarine, 14 auxiliary ships, and the fleet's aircraft. It will also have artillery and rocket-firing practices, anti-submarine search-and- destroy exercises, and other war games. Paratrooper exercises were carried out that day by 11th army guard units, stationed in the Kaliningrad Oblast. -- Saulius Girnius CONTROVERSIES WITHIN THE POLISH RULING COALITION. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), dominant party in the ruling coalition, rejected on 7 August calls from their Polish Peasant Party (PSL) partners for a total cabinet reshuffle during the upcoming restructuring of major ministries. The chief of the government's office, the SLD's Leszek Miller, said there are no reasons for Prime Minister Wlodziemierz Cimoszewicz to resign. The PSL fears the reorganization of some ministries could leave more authority with the SLD prime minister and erode the PSL's cabinet influence. Sejm Speaker Jozef Zych (PSL) said on 6 August that the coalition could fall apart due to tension over sharing cabinet jobs as a result of the reform. Zych said that this would force parliamentary elections before their scheduled date in fall 1997. -- Jakub Karpinski NEW POVERTY ESTIMATES IN POLAND. Household survey data recently released by Poland's Central Planning Office indicate that 13% of Polish society lives in poverty, Zycie Warszawy reported on 7 August. This figure is relatively low compared to other post-communist countries. These data also indicate that Poland's income distribution is becoming less equal. Most of the indicators cited in the study showed declining poverty rates and rising real incomes during 1994-1995. But the share of workers earning below-average wages increased from 60% to 65% during 1990-1995, and the share of workers making only half of the average wage increased from 3.8% to 11% during this time. The relative living standard of pensioners improved during this time, however: the average pension rose from 48% of the average wage in 1989 to 63-65% in 1995. -- Ben Slay SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S CASE AGAINST PRIME MINISTER DROPPED. A Bratislava prosecutor on 5 August suspended Michal Kovac's complaint against Vladimir Meciar, stating that there was no suspicion of criminal activity, Pravda reported three days later. Kovac had filed charges against Meciar on 28 May for misuse of power, slander and defamation of the head of state for comments he made during a radio interview on 24 May, when Meciar accused the president of involvement in the $2.3 million fraud surrounding the Slovak firm Technopol, of knowing about preparations for his son's kidnapping but failing to intervene, and of influencing the investigation of the Technopol case. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK BREWERY OWNER ENDS MINERS' STRIKE. The 55 miners at the east Slovak Bankov mine on 7 August ended their sit-in strike after staying 300 meters underground for three days, Narodna obroda reported. Upon resurfacing, they were treated to a beer party sponsored by Gemer brewery owner Vladimir Poliak, who is interested in buying their firm. The beer contains the vitamins that the miners had lost during the strike, Poliak claimed. The strike was ended following discussions at the Vseobecna uverova banka (VUB)--the mining company's biggest creditor--on the firm's sale, which is expected to be determined soon. -- Sharon Fisher STATE MEDIA PROTEST AGAINST HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT RESOLUTION. Hungarian Radio, Hungarian Television and Hungaria Television public foundations have protested against a recent government resolution to supervise the financial management of state media institutions, Hungarian media reported on 7 August. Opposition parties and the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats joined the protest. Opponents of the plan warn that by amending the budget law, the government will violate the media law passed in December. The newly appointed chairman of Hungarian Television, Istvan Petak, said it would be a "tragedy" if it was approved by parliament. The Prime Minister's Office commented that the cabinet had no intention of drawing public service radio and television under its authority. However, its spokesman added that the respective media institutions have accumulated a sizable debt, and their long-term financing needs to be definitively solved. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN, CROATIAN PRESIDENTS AGREE ON RECOGNITION . . . Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman met near Athens on 7 August and agreed that bilateral relations would be established. Nasa Borba on 8 August reported that they will open relations "after just one more round of talks between foreign ministers Milan Milutinovic [of rump Yugoslavia] and Mate Granic [of Croatia] in Belgrade at the end of the month." Reuters reported that a joint statement outlining territorial disputes, humanitarian issues, and possible economic cooperation was released after the meeting. According to Tudjman, the statement means "we agreed on the normalization of relations in all fields, such as restoring (sic) diplomatic relations. Foreign ministers will meet on 23 August and sign final agreements." Meanwhile, Milosevic called the meeting " a huge step for the interests of [rump] Yugoslavia and Croatia...[and] also for the entire region," Tanjug reported. -- Stefan Krause and Stan Markotich . . . BUT QUESTIONS REMAIN. While both presidents hailed the talks and the landmark agreement as breakthroughs, outstanding questions may put a brake on the normalization of relations. Reuters reported an unnamed Croatian official said Zagreb would insist that Belgrade recognize Croatia in its internationally-accepted borders prior to normalization. Belgrade, however, has not renounced claims to the strategic and Croatian-held Prevlaka peninsula, but both sides "reaffirmed their readiness to resolve [the issue] through negotiations." Another possible friction point is eastern Slavonia, which remains in Croatian Serb hands. Belgrade's recognition of it under Zagreb's jurisdiction would send a signal to local Serbs they are part of Croatia. Furthermore, questions relating to the division of former Yugoslavia's assets and to rump Yugoslavia's demand to be recognized as the sole successor will likely have to involve the other former Yugoslav republics -- Stefan Krause and Stan Markotich GHALI PROPOSES THAT TROOPS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA STAY ON. UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has suggested that the UN Security Council consider a one-year extension of the mandate for the UN Transitional Administration in eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), Hina reported on 7 August. UNTAES' mandate expires on 15 January 1997. Ghali said it was unrealistic to expect that UNTAES' duties will be completed by then. He said the earliest possible date for elections in eastern Slavonia was late February or March, while the Croatian government wants elections to take place in December. Ghali also underscored the importance of the financing of local administrations, where monthly costs total more than $2 million. The Security Council has asked Croatia to fulfill its obligations regarding the financing of local administrations. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERBS ORDER HALT TO EXHUMATIONS. The Pale authorities have issued a statement banning further uncovering of mass graves on their territory, AFP reported on 7 August, quoting SRNA. They charge that the Croat-Muslim side has not allowed the exhumation of what the Serbs say are mass graves of Serbs at Glamoc and Ozren on federal territory, and that Pale demands reciprocity. The Serbs also want a meeting with the Croats, Muslims, the international community's Carl Bildt, and the Red Cross to discuss a host of issues, including missing persons and prisoners of war as well as mass graves. The Serbs are apparently embarrassed by evidence found in previous exhumations on their territory indicating that thousands of Muslim males were massacred after the fall of Srebrenica just over a year ago. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN ELECTION UPDATE. IFOR commander Gen. Michael Walker warned the Bosnian Serbs to "take the [14 September] elections seriously" and prevent any "angry, unruly crowd trying to stop people from voting." He was apparently referring to the possibility of actions against Muslims and Croats coming home to vote on what is now Serb-held territory. Gen. Walker also noted that local Serb authorities are interested in seeing "the voting go smoothly, [but] I am worried that this attitude isn't shared at the top," Onasa reported on 7 August. The commander added that IFOR is present to stop the war from being resumed but will not police the elections. -- Patrick Moore WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL REJECTS BOSNIAN SERB DEFENDANT'S REQUESTS. The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 7 August rejected two motions made by the attorneys defending indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Karadzic's American lawyers asked to submit objections that would contest the validity of the court's statute and the Rules of Procedure. The court ruled that the issue could be discussed, but only when Karadzic comes to trial. The tribunal also rejected a motion by a lawyer for Dusko Tadic, the Bosnian Serb charged with killing 13 Muslims at prison camps and 18 additional ones during ethnic-cleansing campaigns. The motion was for hearsay testimony to be disallowed during Tadic's trial. The court ruled it was up to the judges to decide the admissibility of the testimony. -- Daria Sito Sucic REHN CONCERNED ABOUT CROATIAN SERBS. UN special human rights envoy Elisabeth Rehn, speaking in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica on 7 August, remarked that she was especially concerned with "what's happening in Krajina," Nasa Borba reported on 8 August. The envoy reportedly expressed dismay over the treatment of the 7,000 ethnic Serbs living in the Krajina region of Croatia, saying "I have not been very happy with what has been happening to those Serbs who were left behind, old people, paralyzed people in very bad conditions." She said she was concerned that "a new method [of violence against the Croatian Serbs] has started again with explosives," AFP reported. She also expressed concern over the status of Montenegro's Muslims and Albanians, the BBC said. -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON ELECTION REFORM. The Slovenian government resolved on 7 August that preparations would be made to hold a referendum on electoral reform 90 days following the convening of the next parliament, with a vote taking place 30 days later, Reuters reported the same day. Slovenia is currently divided into eight electoral districts, and referendum voters will be able to choose from four different reform models. Elections to determine the composition of the next parliament are slated for December 1996. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA, HUNGARY AND THE U.S. A spokesman for the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told a press conference on 7 August that his country took note "with interest" of the U.S. State Department position on Hungarian minorities abroad, Radio Bucharest reported. Reacting to the 29 July American statement that the U.S. supports the rights of national minorities to the preservation of their own cultural and spiritual identity but rejects any drive to territorial autonomy based on ethnic criteria, Sorin Ducaru said this position was fully in line with Bucharest's own views on national minority rights. -- Michael Shafir ANOTHER ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Radu Campeanu, the leader of the minuscule extraparliamentary National Liberal Party-Campeanu wing was named on 7 August as a candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for early November, Radio Bucharest reported. Campeanu will run as the candidate of the National Liberal Ecological Alliance, which, apart from his own formation, includes a splinter group from the Ecologist Movement, headed by Eduard Victor Gugui. -- Michael Shafir PRO-SNEGUR MOVEMENT SET UP IN MOLDOVA. BASA-Press reported on 7 August that a "civic movement" supporting incumbent president Mircea Snegur's candidacy in the November elections had been set up on the same day. The movement includes 17 parties, organizations and associations, among which are Snegur's own Party of Revival and Conciliation, the Alliance of Democratic Forces, the Popular Front Christian Democratic, the Gagauz People's Party and the Peasant Christian Democratic Party. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PREMIER'S PRESS CONFERENCE. Andrei Sangheli told a press conference on 7 August that a "constructive dialogue" with the leadership of the breakaway region of Dniestr would not resume until Moldovan elections are over, BASA-Press reported the same day. He said no summits conducted until then will bring results and added that the longer it takes to solve the conflict, the higher the price paid for it. This was an obvious allusion to his rival in the presidential elections, President Mircea Snegur, who has practically frozen discussions on signing a memorandum with the Tiraspol leadership. Sangheli said that if he wins the elections, he would not favor Moldova's integration into CIS political structures, since this contradicted the country's constitution. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VETOES LAND LAW AMENDMENT, COAT OF ARMS. Zhelyu Zhelev on 7 August vetoed a recent amendment to the land law, saying it favors collective farms at the expense of private owners and poses obstacles to land restitution, Western and Bulgarian media reported. Under the amendment, owners have no guarantee that they will regain their original piece of land. Zhelev particularly objected to the phrase "activities prohibiting the restoration of ownership," saying it paves the way for arbitrary decisions. The previous day, Zhelev rejected Bulgaria's new coat of arms saying it divides society. The ruling Socialists and the opposition are divided as to whether the lion on the coat of arms should be crowned or not (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 July 1996). Zhelev said that "the coat of arms is not a party badge and should unite society" and called on the deputies to find a compromise. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN RELATIONS WORSEN OVER TETOVO UNIVERSITY. Following a resolution last week by the Albanian parliament denouncing the imprisonment of five activists of the underground Albanian-language university in the Macedonian town of Tetovo, the two countries have been exchanging accusations. On 6 August the Macedonian Ambassador to Tirana handed a protest note to the Albanian government calling the resolution an "interference in [Macedonia's] internal affairs." The Albanian foreign ministry reacted to the charges by claiming that its policy was characterized by good will but pointed out that "it is our inevitable obligation to be concerned about the rights of the Albanians wherever they live." It also called on the Macedonian government to offer ethnic Albanians in Macedonia active participation in all fields of public life, adding that the level of rights of ethnic Albanians directly determines the relations between both countries, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 8 August. -- 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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