|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 155, Part I, 12 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 UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONTINUES TO FORM GOVERNMENT. Leonid Kuchma has re- appointed Mykhailo Zhurovsky as education minister and named Oleksander Osaulenko as statistics minister, Ukrainian TV reported on 8 August. Bohdan Babii has been appointed chairman of the State Committee on Oil, Gas and Oil Processing Industry and Stanislav Syvokin head of the State Committee for the Protection of Consumer Rights. Kuchma also appointed five oblast governors. In other news, Leonid Kuchma met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on the day of Yeltsin's inauguration, Ukrainian agencies reported on 9 August. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS APPEAL FOR REGION-WIDE REFERENDUM. Thirty-five lawmakers in the Crimean legislature have requested that parliamentary leaders hold a special session to discuss those provisions on Crimean autonomy in the new Ukrainian constitution of which they disapprove, Radio Ukraine reported on 10 August. The lawmakers, who are members of four pro-Moscow caucuses, said they hoped the session will vote to call a region-wide referendum on those provisions as well as on points within the Crimean constitution they believe insufficiently guarantee the region's autonomy. The Crimean basic law has yet to be approved. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS PRESIDENT PROPOSES DATE FOR REFERENDUM. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 8 August proposed to the parliament that a referendum on increasing his powers be held on 7 November, the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and a public holiday, Reuters reported. Parliamentary Deputy Chairman Henadz Karpenka said the referendum was "an attempt to distract people from growing economic problems." He also asked how Lukashenka would find the $2 million needed to hold the vote. Lukashenka has indicated that the referendum questions will include increasing the president's powers and extending the term of office for the head of state from five to seven years. Voters would also be asked whether they were in favor of changing the date of Belarus' independence day from 27 July, marking the republic's 1990 declaration of independence from the USSR, to 3 July, the day on which Minsk was liberated from Nazi occupation in 1944. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA, RUSSIA SIGN AGREEMENT ON ENERGY EXPORT. The Estonian Economics Ministry, Estonian Energy, the governor of Leningrad Oblast, the president of RAO Rossiya, and the director-general of Slantso mines have signed an agreement on the sale to Russia of 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of Estonian electricity, ETA reported on 9 August. The energy is to be produced using oil shale imported from Russia. The agreement will help retain jobs in Estonian power stations and Russia mines and will also provide income to the Estonian Railway. Meanwhile, Taidus Linikoja, deputy head of the Estonian Department of Fisheries, on 9 August said agreement had been reached on the text of a fishing accord with Latvia, following talks in Tallinn with a Latvian delegation, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius BATTLE FOR CABINET POSTS CONTINUES IN POLAND. Tensions continue within Poland's coalition government between the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) over the division of new cabinet posts, Polish media reported. These posts were created as a result of the reform of the central administration, finally approved last week. PSL leaders have apparently set their sights on the capturing one of the two new economic portfolios: the Economics Ministry or the Treasury. If they succeed, Finance Minister Gregorz Kolodko or Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek, two of the more liberal members of the current cabinet, could be ousted. The reform abolishes seven existing ministries while creating six new ones. It strengthens the prime minister's position vis-a-vis the cabinet. -- Ben Slay NEW CZECH JUSTICE MINISTER DISMISSES TOP ATTORNEYS. Jan Kalvoda on 9 August dismissed High State Attorney Libor Grygarek and Prague State Attorney Josef Kredba, Czech media reported. Their dismissal goes into effect at the end of the month. Kalvoda said the move is part of an attempt to approve the efficiency and prestige of the state attorney service. He added that the decision was based on "poor mutual communication between Kredba and Grygarek" and the "unpleasant situation" in the Prague city office. Kredba has failed to find a sufficient number of capable and qualified employees for his staff, thereby weakening the Prague office, Kalvoda said. Meanwhile, Grygarek "tolerated" the situation in Kredba's office rather than improving it, despite having the power to do so. Kalvoda is expected to name replacements this week. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PROSECUTOR-GENERAL DEFENDS DECISION TO NULLIFY PRESIDENT'S PARDON. Michal Valo told Radio Twist on 9 August that he was correct in declaring President Michal Kovac's pardon of two men charged in the Technopol fraud case (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1996) null and void. "In democracies and legal states, decisions on granting pardons cannot be understood as an absolutely arbitrary move of a monarch who grants a pardon whenever it occurs to him...to murderers or some criminals," Valo said. He admitted the constitution does not lay down conditions for granting pardons, noting that he is not asking the Constitutional Court to override Kovac's ruling. He said that, instead, the court should explain whether the head of state can grant pardons "arbitrarily." Valo's move has been criticized as unconstitutional. If the prosecutor-general does not act according to the law, "Slovakia is headed toward not a legal but rather a police state," Sme commented on 12 August. -- Sharon Fisher HORN SAYS HUNGARY ALMOST READY TO SIGN BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn told Hungarian TV on 11 August that the signing of the basic treaty with Romania is just around the corner, Hungarian dailies reported. Although discord over the Hungarian minority in Romania has stalled negotiations on the treaty since mid-1995, Horn said Hungary now accepts the Romanian interpretation of the Council of Europe recommendation on ethnic minority rights. He also announced that Foreign Ministry State Secretary Ferenc Somogyi will go to Bucharest next week to resolve any remaining issues. Meanwhile, a Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman told Romanian TV that his country welcomes the Hungarian announcement. -- Ben Slay WILL HUNGARY LEGALIZE PROSTITUTION? The Interior Ministry has drawn up two proposals on legalizing prostitution in Hungary, Magyar Hirlap reported on 10 August. According to the first proposal, prostitutes would be limited to working in special "tolerance zones" to which the authorities would "turn a blind eye." The second states a prostitute would be required to be registered as an "individual entrepreneur" and would be subject to taxation. -- Ben Slay NATO MILITARY EXERCISE. More than 1,000 troops from 22 countries--most of which belonged to the former East bloc--begin a week-long military exercise in the U.S. on 12 August, RFE/RL reported. Participants include the three Baltic states, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Albania, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. The Czech Republic and Azerbaijan are sending observers. "Cooperative Osprey 96" is the largest exercise NATO has held in the U.S and is designed to integrate regular NATO forces with the eastern forces in combined peace- keeping on land and sea. Russia said it will not participate or send observers because of the high costs of transport, food, and equipment storage. -- Michael Shafir SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO TO GET TOUGH WITH SERBS? IFOR began a pre-announced inspection tour of arms depots at the Bosnian Serb military headquarters of Han Pijesak on 10 August, Reuters reported. They visited one site at the mountainside stronghold built as part of Josip Broz Tito's defense system but were denied access to a second area. NATO the next day opened talks with the Serbs on the issue but also pulled its liaison officers out of Bosnian Serb civilian headquarters at Pale, the BBC added. The Serbs charged that IFOR was manufacturing an incident to distract attention from problems between the Croats and Muslims. However, a series of incidents has taken place at Han Pijesak and elsewhere in recent weeks, with the Serbs' testing the limits of NATO's patience by apparently violating the military provisions of the Dayton treaty. Under that agreement, all weapons sites were to have been registered with NATO by 18 April. -- Patrick Moore TENSIONS BETWEEN CROATS, MUSLIMS CONTINUE IN BOSNIA. Bosnian Muslims and Croats 10 August fought with sticks and stones in and around the town of Novi Seher, central Bosnia, Reuters reported. According to the Bosnian Radio, Croats prevented a group of Muslims from attending a planned Muslim religious festival and Muslims retaliated by blocking the main highway between the Muslim-dominated town of Zenica and Croat-held Zepce. Meanwhile, Croats from central Bosnia have sent a letter to Bosnian Federation President Kresimir Zubak complaining of being harassed by their Muslim neighbors, Oslobodjenje reported on 10 August. In other news, the same daily reported on 11 August that Muslims are repeatedly being expelled from the Croat-held part of Mostar, while shooting and attacks on cars frequently take place in both halves of the town. -- Daria Sito Sucic KORNBLUM PUTS PRESSURE ON CROATIAN PRESIDENT OVER BOSNIAN FEDERATION. U.S. envoy to Bosnia John Kornblum visited Croatia on 10 August to press Franjo Tudjman to ensure that the Bosnian Croats will abide by the Dayton peace accords, Reuters reported. The EU on 9 August announced that the city council, which until recently had been boycotted by the Croats, will meet on 14 August to elect a mayor and deputy. But chief Bosnian Croat negotiator Mile Puljic complained to the head of the EU mission, Martin Garrod, that the council's Muslim president has not consulted his side. Meanwhile, Bozo Raic, head of the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), lashed out at Garrod for saying that local elections will not be repeated in Mostar in September although they will take place in all other towns and cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Oslobodjenje reported on 12 August. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOMBS IN NORTHERN BOSNIA, ZAGREB. Two explosions hit a Bosnian Croat (HVO) military base at Rosulje in the Usora valley southwest of Doboj on 11 August, Reuters and Nasa Borba reported. Some vehicles were damaged, but there were no injuries in the unexplained incident. Tensions between Croats and Muslims have been high in the area in recent days. In an apparently unrelated development, a bomb went off in central Zagreb, causing neither damage nor injuries. Police said the device was the work of amateurs and unlikely to have been planted by Serbian terrorists, Western news agencies noted. -- Patrick Moore MONTENEGRIN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS SAY MILOSEVIC-TUDJMAN SUMMIT WAS "HUMILIATION" FOR THEIR REPUBLIC. In an official response to the summit meeting between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman near Athens on 8 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1996), the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro (SDPCG) said the meeting served only to underscore Montenegro's "humiliation" and second-class status within the federation. The SDPCG added that it highlighted where power lies in Serbia-Montenegro and that the Montenegrin authorities have sovereignty only "in the decision-making of where to organize festivals and beach-football contests," Beta reported. Meanwhile, Jovan Glamocanin, chair of the Radical Party Nikola Pasic, claimed that the presidents' summit was "a highly significant step forward for the implementation of the Dayton peace." -- Stan Markotich KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR BOMB ATTACKS. The Liberation Army of Kosovo has claimed responsibility for bomb attacks on police stations in Podujevo and Pristina on 2 August, Beta reported on 10 August. In a letter to the Swiss Albanian-language weekly Bota Sot, the group warns that "the Albanian people of Kosovo will not be cheated by defeatists.... Nor will they lay down their arms until the occupied territories have been liberated." It added that in the future, "attacks to liberate the country will be fierce and merciless." Meanwhile, Milivoje Djurkovic, chairman of the Decani municipal council, said that unknown individuals threw or planted explosive devices at a housing complex for Serbian and Montenegrin refugees from Albania in Babaloc on 8 August, ATSH reported. Three unfinished houses were damaged by the explosion, but nobody was injured. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN RESHUFFLE RIDDLE. Government spokesman Ion Mihai Rosca has denied a report by the independent news agency Mediafax about an imminent reshuffle of the cabinet (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1996), Romanian media reported. He accused the agency of breaking the rules of professional journalism and "misinforming" the public. Rosca added that at a meeting last week between President Ion Iliescu and Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, there was no discussion of a "massive reshuffle of the government." Vacaroiu, in an interview with Romanian TV on 10 August, also denied that a reshuffle was imminent. But an editorial in Adevarul on the same day said the report was accurate and based on sources from the major coalition partner, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania. Meanwhile, Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) Senator Valer Suian gave partial credibility to the report by commenting that the government's reorganization would not affect ministers who are PUNR members. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN ELECTION UPDATE. Nicolae Manolescu, chairman of the Party of Civic Alliance (PAC) and a literary critic, will run as the National Liberal Alliance (ANL) candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for early November, The Liberal Party '93 is the other member of the ANL. In other news, the Ecological Movement of Romania (MER) has elected Antonie Iorgovan as chairman and as the party's candidate in the presidential elections. The MER belongs to the Democratic Centrist Union (UDC), whose other members are the Agrarian Democratic Party (PDAR) and the Romanian Humanist Party. Iorgovan, who is considered the "father of Romania's constitution," will run against PDAR presidential candidate Ion Coja (a sympathizer of the interwar fascist movement in Romania), in a three-party ballot designed to determine who will be the UDC joint candidate. -- Michael Shafir ANOTHER WOMAN RUNS FOR PRESIDENT IN MOLDOVA. Veronica Abramciuc, head of the Moldovan Socialist Party's (PSM) National Relations Department, will run for president as an independent, BASA-Press reported on 10 August. Moldovan pundits believe that her decision to run as an independent can be attributed to both the split within the PSM and the Central Electoral Commission's refusal to register the Patriotic Popular Forces Bloc, to which the PSM belongs. Meanwhile, Pamant si oameni, the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) paper, stated that deputy Maricica Levitchi, who is also running as an independent, is not a member of the PDAM. Levitchi had left the PDAM to join President Mircea Snegur's Party of Revival and Reconciliation but later returned to the PDAM. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. President Zhelyu Zhelev on 10 August said that he believes the parliament should make a last effort to reach a compromise on the country's coat of arms, Reuters reported. He added that if the attempt fails, either the next parliament or a referendum should decide on the issue. Government and opposition are divided over whether the lion on the emblem should be crowned. Zhelev on 6 August vetoed the latest Socialist-sponsored coat of arms (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 August 1996). In other news, the 18-floor Interpred building in central Sofia has been sold to the local Maxcom Holding and 12 unnamed individuals for $34 million, government officials said on 9 August. Maxcom committed itself to invest $5 million in the building over the next five years. The buyers will pay 30% of the price in cash and the rest in Bulgarian foreign and domestic debt bonds. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIA'S "LIVING SAINT" DIES. Bulgaria's best-known clairvoyant has died of cancer in the Sofia government hospital at the age of 84, Bulgarian and Western media reported on 11 August. "Aunt Vanga," a blind peasant woman from Rupite in Pirin Macedonia, was revered for her clairvoyant and healing powers by Bulgarians, of whom more than 1 million are said to have consulted her, including intellectuals and politicians. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and former communist dictator Todor Zhivkov are both reported to have sought her counsel. Opposition presidential candidate Petar Stoyanov also went to see her at the start of his campaign. In a condolence telegram, Videnov said "she lived not for herself but for the people.... That made her a living saint for us." Other top politicians also sent condolences to Vanga's relatives. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS TALKS WITH PRESIDENT. The Socialists, the Social Democrats, the Party of National Unity, and the Agrarian Party on 9 August boycotted a meeting with President Sali Berisha to discuss preparations for the 20 October local elections, international agencies reported. The Socialists criticized Berisha's decree on setting up a permanent election commission, saying that while they welcomed such a commission, it should be based on a proper legal framework. Berisha has offered half of the commission's seats to the opposition but said that only parties currently participating in local government should be included. This means that the Democratic Alliance and the Democratic Party of the Right would have no representatives. It seems likely that if the opposition boycotts the electoral commission, it will also boycott the elections. The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting on 13 August. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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