|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 166, Part II, 27 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE FURTHER PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS IN UKRAINE. Leonid Kuchma has re- appointed Serhii Osyka as minister for foreign economic relations, Ukrainian agencies reported. Valerii Borzov has been named chairman of the new State Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports, while Volodymyr Kuznetsov has been relieved from his duties as a presidential adviser and appointed chairman of the State Credit and Investment Company. Kuznetsov replaces Borys Sobolev, who was fired from that post several months ago. Kuchma also dismissed Oleksander Savenko as president of Ukrainian State TV and Radio, naming Zinovii Kulyk as acting president. Meanwhile, Radio Ukraine reported on 26 August that Kuchma has liquidated the State Tax Inspection Agency and formed a new, more powerful Institute of State Tax Administration. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIANS BUY DOLLARS AS PANIC BREAKS OUT OVER NEW CURRENCY. The government's announcement that it will introduce a new currency on 2 September has triggered massive panic-selling of karbovantsi by Ukrainians, Western agencies reported on 26 August. The karbovanets, the country's transitional tender, was trading at between 220,000 and 300,000 to $1 at various exchange points throughout the country, significantly higher than the official bank rate on 16 August of 176,100 karbovantsi/$. Meanwhile, the Socialist caucus has complained that the planned exchange rate of 100,000 karbovantsi to 1 hryvna will undervalue the new currency and cheat the Ukrainian people. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ESCAPES KIDNAPPERS. Yevhen Supruniuk has revealed that he was abducted upon returning home from work on 24 August, Ukrainian agencies reported. He said he was threatened at gunpoint by unidentified assailants, shoved into a car, and driven from Simferopol to Krasnoperkopsk, where he was held for one day. He noted that on 25 August he managed to overpower a guard and escape into the town, where he was picked up and taken to a Simferopol hospital. Supruniuk spoke of his ordeal when he returned to work the next day, noting that he had no clue why he had been abducted. Both the assembly and local law enforcement forces have launched inquiries into the incident. -- Chrystyna Lapychak LUKASHENKA TO SUMMON "CONGRESS OF BELARUSIAN PEOPLE." Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 26 August announced that he will summon by decree a "Congress of the Belarusian People" to discuss current political issues, RFE/RL reported. He said the decree will define the objectives and date of the gathering, which, he added, will be attended by some 6,000 people. The "congress" will clearly not be an institutional body and may prove to be an ad hoc meeting of Lukashenka's supporters and other "ordinary citizens." Observers comment that the move is a direct response to the recent decision by political parties, labor unions, and public organizations to oppose Lukashenka's increasingly authoritarian policies. -- Saulius Girnius NORDIC COUNTRIES NOT TO GIVE BALTS SECURITY GUARANTEES. The prime ministers of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, meeting in Helsinki on 26 August, decided that their countries cannot give the Baltic States any guarantees for their security, BNS reported. The premiers however, expressed the hope that the situation in the Baltics becomes stable and that the three states will be granted EU membership. Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Liopponen said his country will continue defense cooperation with Estonia, but he noted that this did not qualify as "far-reaching military cooperation." The premiers will invite their Baltic counterparts to the next Nordic Council of Ministers' meeting in Copenhagen in November. They also decided to allocate 100 million ECUs ($128 million) for environmental projects due to be launched in the Baltic region next year. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE INCONCLUSIVE. In a secret ballot on 26 August among Estonian parliamentary deputies, incumbent President Lennart Meri received 45 votes and parliamentary Deputy Chairman Arnold Ruutel 34, Reuters reported. Sixteen deputies turned in spoiled or blank ballots. To win, a candidate needed to receive the support of at least two-thirds of the 101 deputies. The result came as a surprise, since recent polls indicate that Meri has much greater popular support. Moreover, his candidacy is backed by four parties that, together, have 60 votes. If no candidate receives the necessary votes following two further rounds of voting today, an electoral college composed of the 101 deputies and 273 representatives of local governments will be convened within the next four weeks or so to elect the president. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT SIGNS BILLS ON GOVERNMENT REFORM. Aleksander Kwasniewski on 26 August signed the remaining seven bills aimed at improving the way the government works, Polish media reported. Four other bills included in the package were signed last week. Under the new legislation, several ministries are to be scrapped, new ones created, and others merged. The ruling coalition--composed of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL)--has been divided over the reforms. The PSL argues that their implementation should involve the dismissal of the entire government and the appointment of a new one. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (SLD) aims to replace ministers gradually. The two parties plan to resume negotiations on the issue later this week. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH OFFICIALS ILLEGALLY CROSS POLISH-RUSSIAN FRONTIER. Tadeusz Szozda, Poland's deputy transport minister, was suspended from duty on 26 August after he and six other top ministry officials failed to stop at a border crossing when re-entering Poland from Russia, Polish dailies reported. The delegation, traveling in two cars, failed to stop for a red light at the Gronowo checkpoint on 24 August. Police stopped and detained the seven officials and their two drivers four hours later. One of the officials said they had not noticed the checkpoint, while a frontier guards spokesman noted that the meaning of the red light should be "obvious to every driver." -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH TRADE DEFICIT KEEPS GROWING. The Czech Statistical Office has announced that, between January and the end of July 1996, the country's foreign trade deficit reached 85.3 billion crowns ($3.1 billion). During the same period, exports totaled 429.9 billion crowns and imports 344.6 billion crowns. The Statistical Office pointed out that, on a positive note, the majority of imports were capital goods. Czech media quote economic experts as estimating that the annual trade deficit for 1996 will be some 140 billion crowns. Some economists have urged for the crown to be devalued, but the government has so far rejected such a step. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PREMIER DISCUSSES PROPOSED CABINET CHANGES WITH PRESIDENT. Vladimir Meciar on 26 August met with Michal Kovac to discuss the proposed cabinet reshuffle, Slovak media reported. Kovac, who has the constitutional right to appoint and dismiss cabinet members, is reported to have responded positively to the personnel changes. The meeting between Meciar and Kovac, who have been feuding for three years, was the first since the visit of Pope John Paul II to Slovakia in June-July last year. Following their talks, the political council of Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia met to discuss the cabinet changes. TASR reported on 27 August that the three ministers to be dismissed are Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, Economy Minister Jan Ducky, and Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek. -- Sharon Fisher ANOTHER BOMB IN BRATISLAVA KILLS POLICEMAN. An off-duty policeman died early on 26 August of injuries sustained in a bomb explosion at a money exchange booth outside the Kmart department store in central Bratislava, Slovak and international media reported. The 26 year-old policeman died in the hospital. Police said the explosion was not related to the bomb attack of the previous day (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996). The owner of the exchange booth said that his office had been set on fire earlier this summer. -- Sharon Fisher ROMANIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADERS MEET WITH HUNGARIAN PREMIER. Representatives of ethnic Hungarians from Romania, meeting with Gyula Horn in Budapest on 26 August, urged that negotiations on the Hungarian- Romanian draft basic treaty be reopened, Hungarian media reported. They argued that Budapest had acted under considerable international pressure and had neglected the interests of Romania's 1.6 million ethnic Hungarians. But Ferenc Somogyi, state secretary at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, insisted that the expectations of the international community "coincided with our own interests." The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania claimed that the draft treaty fails to regulate the restitution of confiscated Church assets and that it is unclear on the minorities' right to education in Hungarian. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY'S BOSNIAN REFUGEES CAST THEIR BALLOTS. Some 2,000 Bosnian refugees in Hungary have voted in the Bosnian national elections, ahead of hundreds of thousands of others still living in exile, Reuters reported on 26 August. According to an OSCE official the voting was completed without any irregularities among Hungary's Muslim-dominated Bosnian community. Under the Dayton agreement, Bosnian citizens living abroad are entitled to vote for parliamentary and local council candidates prior to the Bosnian elections, which are set for 14 September. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN VOTE POSTPONED. The OSCE commission charged with monitoring the 14 September elections in Bosnia has announced today that the municipal part of the ballot will be postponed, international and local media reported. This move comes in response to evidence that pressure and coercion have been used against Bosnian Serbs in the Republika Srpska and especially in Serbia to register to vote in key towns that had large Muslim populations before the war but are now mainly Serb. The UNHCR pointed out that the Serbs are using registration to consolidate the ethnic partition of the country, Oslobodjenje reported. The Muslim Party of Democratic Action had threatened to boycott the ballot if the municipal elections are not delayed. Top Bosnian Serb officials argue, however, that the vote must go ahead on schedule, Nasa Borba added. It is unclear who will supervise or provide security for a postponed ballot, which is not envisaged in the Dayton agreement. -- Patrick Moore BILDT DENIES ELECTION DAY DEAL WITH BOSNIAN SERBS. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt has written the acting president of the Republika Srpska, Biljana Plavsic, denying reports from Pale about an alleged agreement between his office and the Serbs, Nasa Borba reported on 27 August. According to the reports, Bildt had agreed to Serb demands that would limit cross-border freedom of movement on election day in violation of the Dayton agreement. Meanwhile, the OSCE has ruled that 1,470 out of 5,010 of the SDA's candidates are ineligible because their names do not appear on the 1991 census rolls, Onasa noted on 26 August. Some 100 candidates of the opposition's Joint List are also out of the running, including two of its leaders, Zlatko Lagumdzija and Bogic Bogicevic. Finally, former Premier and Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina leader Haris Silajdzic told the BBC that the confusion surrounding the vote is a legacy of the communist past, which will go away only with time. -- Patrick Moore RUMP YUGOSLAV TRADE DELEGATION IN SARAJEVO. Federal Deputy Premier Nikola Sainovic headed a trade delegation that met with Bosnian government officials on 26 August, Oslobodjenje reported. The mission was the first of its kind since the Bosnian war broke out in 1992. Returning a visit by a Bosnian trade group to the rump Yugoslavia (SRJ) on 23 July, the delegates met with Bosnian Premier Hasan Muratovic and President Alija Izetbegovic, among others. Tanjug quoted Sainovic as saying that a consensus on several economic issues had been reached and that the Yugoslav national airline, JAT, may begin services to Sarajevo by next week. Muratovic commented that it had been agreed that experts would meet "to define a [joint] payments system and to define border crossings and procedures," Reuters reported. AFP observed that no progress was made toward reaching an agreement on establishing diplomatic relations. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT ON ZAGREB-BELGRADE ACCORD. Momir Bulatovic, in a 25 August interview with TV Montenegro, hailed the signing of the accord normalizing relations between Zagreb and Belgrade (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996). But he stressed the agreement was a breakthrough because Croatia had agreed for the first time to define the strategic Prevlaka peninsula as "a disputed issue." He went on to note that "we are reaching the stage where we can argue, using historical and other factors, that Prevlaka belongs to its hinterland." He added that for now Prevlaka belongs "to neither Montenegro nor Croatia, as it continues to be monitored by UN observers." Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 27 August suggested that TV Montenegro news reports have "falsified" accounts of the agreement by claiming it paved the way for territorial claims against Prevlaka. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN CABINET GIVES DETAILS OF POPULIST MEASURES. A senior Romanian official on 27 August elaborated on the government's plans to freeze prices for basic consumer goods until 1 January 1997. Gheorghe Oana, secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, told Jurnalul national that the government is trying to keep down prices on various goods and services, including energy, fuel, food products, public transportation, and rents. A government decree issued on 23 August also guarantees savings of up to 10 million lei ($3,166) in the event of a bank's collapse. The package is clearly designed to polish the image of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania ahead of the November parliamentary and presidential elections. The party fared poorly in local elections in June and saw its popularity sink further following massive price hikes for energy, fuel, and bread in July. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVA MARKS FIVE YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Republic of Moldova's declaration of independence, President Mircea Snegur told a gathering on 26 August that the country has won broad international recognition, local media reported. But he criticized the slow pace of economic reform, which, he said, has led to "an abrupt fall in living standards and an increase in unemployment." Also on 26 August, Snegur replied to a group of deputies from the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party who had attacked him for having decorated signatories to the 1991 independence declaration. Among those who had signed were members of the Popular Front, an organization that later opted for an overt pro-Romanian policy. Snegur described the attacks as "a gross political provocation" and "an irresponsible appeal for a further split in society." -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN SUPREME COURT REHABILITATES WAR-TIME POLITICIANS. The Supreme Court on 26 August lifted sentences that the so-called People's Court had handed down against leading politicians in war-time Bulgaria, Standart reported. It rehabilitated the three regents for the infant Tsar Simeon, three prime ministers, 10 advisers to Tsar Boris III, and 35 ministers. They were the most prominent of the more than 100 defendants in the first and biggest communist show trial to take place in Bulgaria in 1944-1945 for bringing about Bulgaria's involvement in World War II on the side of Germany. Of the 51 rehabilitated, 33 were sentenced to death, while the remainder received prison terms. From 1946 to 1948, the People's Court carried out 135 trials against 11,122 defendants, of whom 2,730 received death sentences and in addition an unknown number perished without trial. Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev asked for the sentences to be declared null and void. The Socialist daily Duma ran a front-page headline claiming that "The Supreme Court Rehabilitates Fascism." -- Stefan Krause NEW LIBERAL FORMATION TO EMERGE IN BULGARIA? Chief Mufti Nedim Gendzhev has said incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev and former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova will register as presidential and vice presidential candidates in September, Duma reported on 27 August. Trud, however, noted that Zhelev will abide by an opposition agreement whereby he will not run following his defeat in the primaries to Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS). The same newspaper noted that Indzhova will be the presidential candidate of a Liberal Bloc that will soon be founded and in which Zhelev will play a prominent role. Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer, who was recently sacked as leader of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996), is also expected to participate in that new group. According to Kontinent, New Choice, the Radical-Democratic Party extraneous to the SDS, and New Democracy will be the main parties constituting the Liberal Bloc. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS WRAP UP CONGRESS. The Albanian Socialist Party's annual congress ended on 26 August in Tirana, international agencies reported. No successor was named for deputy leader Servet Pellumbi, who resigned the previous day in protest at party leader Fatos Nano's reform proposals (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996). It is unclear who will be elected to succeed Pellumbi, although Luan Hajdaraga, Namik Dokle, and Ilir Meta -- former party deputies -- are the most likely candidates. All three were among those elected to a 101-member steering council, which, in turn, will elect a secretary-general and two secretaries in the next few days. Several former ministers who served in the Nano government formed in May 1991 are also on the council. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIA PRAYS FOR MOTHER TERESA. Albanian President Sali Berisha has said his country is praying for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa, Reuters reported on 26 August. The world famous missionary, who was born Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in Skopje, marks her 86th birthday on 27 August. Berisha said in a telegram that Albanians "unite in prayer and hope for your quick recovery and full health so you may continue your humane and divine mission." Mother Teresa was hospitalized on 20 August and diagnosed with malaria, a chest infection, and an irregular heart beat. Her Missionaries of Charity opened a branch in Tirana following the end of communism. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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