|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 167, Part II, 28 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 UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ORDERS MONTH-LONG PRICE FREEZE TO ACCOMPANY INTRODUCTION OF HRYVNA . . . The government has issued a resolution ordering a nationwide freeze of prices on goods and services for one month beginning with the 2 September introduction of the hryvna, Ukrainian agencies reported on 27 August. The move was in response to the collapse of the street value of the karbovanets, which has been trading at more than 200,000 to $1 since the announcement of the hryvna's introduction. National Bank of Ukraine Governor Viktor Yushchenko said he feared "illegal" currency speculation and that the 374 trillion karbovantsi ($2.1 billion) circulating outside the country's banking system could fuel prices upward by 200-250%. He said he expects prices to jump by 8-10% once prices are unfrozen. Yushchenko said the panic selling of karbovantsi this week was unfounded. He added that his bank will annul the currency trading licenses of any exchange points that sell dollars at a rate exceeding 193,600 karbovantsi to $1 and that the government will fine any businesses that refuse to take karbovantsi up to the last day of the exchange period. Meanwhile, the karbovanets was trading against the dollar on the Interbank Currency Exchange at the same level as two weeks ago, at 176,100 to 1. -- Chrystyna Lapychak . . . WHILE PREMIER OFFERS REASSURANCES ON MONETARY REFORM. In a national radio address, Pavlo Lazarenko tried to reassure Ukrainians that there is no reason for panic over the introduction of the new currency, Radio Ukraine reported on 27 August. Lazarenko reiterated that the reform will be fully transparent and that there will be neither restrictions nor confiscation. He blamed commercial banks and businesses for stirring up panic-buying of dollars in order to make a profit, warning that people who have bought dollars may find out later that they were cheated. He said the government's monetary reform commission has made provisions to extend the period in which karbovantsi can be exchanged for hryvni for people who are abroad or for other extenuating circumstances. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ELECTORAL COLLEGE WILL HAVE TO CHOOSE ESTONIAN PRESIDENT. Estonian parliamentary deputies on 27 August went twice to the ballot box to elect a president but, as on previous day, neither candidate received the necessary two-thirds vote, Western agencies reported. Incumbent President Lennart Meri and parliamentary deputy chairman Arnold Ruutel are both running for election. An electoral college, consisting of the 101 parliamentary deputies and 273 representatives of local government, will be convened in September to elect the president. Ruutel and Meri will be automatically listed as candidates, but new ones can also be nominated. In the second ballot, the college will vote on the two top candidates. The one receiving a majority vote (50% of those present plus one) will be the winner. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES TIMING OF OCCUPATION DECLARATION. Valdis Birkavs on 27 August commented that the Saeima chose an inappropriate time to pass the declaration on the USSR's and Germany's occupation of Latvia, BNS reported. Although the Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned the declaration as a provocation, it is not yet clear whether Prime Minister Andris Skele's planned visit to Moscow on 13 September will be canceled. During that visit, agreements on air transportation and avoidance of double taxation are scheduled to be signed. Birkavs noted that the declaration does not reflect the position of the Latvian government. Saeima Chairwoman Ilga Kreituse told visiting U.S. Senator Richard Lugar that the declaration was not intended to worsen relations with Russia. She added that she hoped recognition of the occupation "will be perceived as a historical matter." -- Saulius Girnius LITTLE PROGRESS IN LITHUANIAN, LATVIAN SEA BORDER TALKS. Lithuanian and Latvian Foreign Ministry Secretaries Rimantas Sidlauskas and Maris Riekstins made little progress in resolving the sea border issue during talks in Vilnius on 27 August, Radio Lithuania reported. The talks had been scheduled for July but had to be postponed when Prime Minister Andris Skele eliminated the position of foreign ministry state minister, which Juris Sinka, head of the Latvian delegation, had occupied. Riekstins successfully completed border talks with Estonia in June. Tensions between the two countries are now high because the Saeima is planning to ratify oil exploration agreements, signed in October 1995 with U.S. and Swedish oil firms, in an area that Lithuania also claims. -- Saulius Girnius U.S. SPY CAN RETURN TO POLAND. Military prosecutors on 27 August canceled the arrest warrant for Col. Ryszard Kuklinski, who was smuggled to the United States in 1981 after spying for U.S. security services from 1970-81, international agencies reported. The arrest warrant was issued in 1984 when Kuklinski, a former Polish army officer, was sentenced to death by a military court for treason and desertion. The sentence was commuted to a 25-year prison sentence in 1990. Kuklinski lives now undercover in the United States. The spokesman for the Warsaw military prosecutor's office said that, in July, a letter was sent to Kuklinski's U.S. contact address asking if he wanted to testify. No answer has been received. Kuklinski was smuggled out of Poland, with his wife and two sons in November 1981, a few weeks before martial law was imposed. Many Poles regard him as a hero; others, including former President Lech Walesa, accuse him of disloyalty. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH GOVERNMENT DISCUSSES BUDGET. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists on 27 August that the government has agreed that the state budget for 1997 will total 549 billion crowns ($20.3 billion). Klaus admitted he was surprised how little discussion was necessary to reach agreement on the issue. He said expenditures to promote exports are expected to increase by 60%, while those for transportation and housing will rise by 57% and 42%, respectively. Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik noted that tax changes may be necessary but gave no further details. The government is to discuss taxes and other state income next week. -- Jiri Pehe CABINET RESHUFFLE IN SLOVAKIA. President Michal Kovac on 27 August swore in three new ministers, Slovak media reported. Karol Cesnek, director of the electricity firm Slovenske elektrarne, replaced Economy Minister Jan Ducky. Slovak ambassador to Germany Pavol Hamzik took over the Foreign Ministry portfolio from Juraj Schenk. Gustav Krajci, a secretary of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), replaced Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said Schenk resigned for health reasons, Ducky left "by mutual agreement," and Hudek was sacked because of problems in the police force. Krajci noted that significant reforms will take place in the security and police sector. He also stressed the need to quickly resolve Michal Kovac Jr.'s kidnapping case and the Technopol fraud, which are "traumatizing Slovak society." Although Meciar did not rule out further cabinet changes, he said that secret service chief Ivan Lexa will not be dismissed. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Ladislav Pittner, a former interior minister currently serving as a deputy of the opposition Christian Democratic Movement, told Radio Twist on 27 August that a summons for him to appear before the parliamentary Mandate and Immunity Committee in September is a "threat to democracy." At the request of a Bratislava investigator, the committee is to consider removing Pittner's parliamentary immunity. Pittner said no reasons were given for the move but added that it is connected with his activities as chairman of an independent civic commission established to investigate the Kovac Jr. kidnapping case. In other news, the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions on 27 August accepted the resignation of Praca Editor in Chief Eduard Fasung, Narodna obroda reported. Fasung--who is to be replaced by his deputy, Ivan Melichercik--is expected to become the new editor in chief of the pro- government daily Slovenska Republika. -- Sharon Fisher OSCE INVITES HUNGARY, ROMANIA TO SIGN BASIC TREATY IN VIENNA. According to an OSCE press release, Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti, who is currently OSCE chairman-in-office, has invited Budapest and Bucharest to sign the basic Hungarian-Romanian treaty in Vienna--the seat of the Permanent Council of the OSCE. Cotti welcomed the completion of the draft treaty, which, he said, was an essential element of stability in the region. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION TO COME UNDER INDUSTRY MINISTRY'S JURIS-DICTION. Prime Minister Gyula Horn's nomination of Tamas Suchman, minister without portfolio in charge of privatization, as new industry and trade minister means that administration of the privatization process and industry will soon merge, Hungarian media reported. Suchman will replace outgoing minister Imre Dunai, who resigned two weeks ago, citing health reasons. Suchman's nomination is likely to be approved by other government members, since the junior coalition party, the Alliance of Free Democrats, is in favor of cutting the number of government ministers. The State Privatization and Holding Co. will be subordinated to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, while the administration structures for privatization management will be similar to those under the previous government. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS, CROATS SLAM POSTPONEMENT OF ELECTIONS. The OSCE's 27 August decision to put off Bosnian municipal elections until next spring has been sharply criticized by the Republika Srpska's governing Serbian Democratic Party and Bosnia-Herzegovina's leading Croatian party, the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) (see OMRI Special Report, 27 August 1996). The OSCE's Robert Frowick announced that the vote had been canceled owing to Bosnian Serbian irregularities in voter registration. The Serbs said that they will hold their municipal elections along with other voting on 14 September as scheduled, Nasa Borba reported on 28 August. Frowick told CNN in response that "one would have to question the validity of the Bosnian Serbs holding their own elections." The HDZ meanwhile charged the OSCE with giving in to demands for postponement by the Muslim Party for Democratic Action (SDA), Reuters noted on 27 August. The U.S. has endorsed the postponement, calling the move "clear and decisive," CNN reported. -- Patrick Moore BELGRADE'S RESPONSE TO ELECTION POSTPONEMENT. Bratislava Morina, head of the Serbian Commission for Refugees, told a press conference on 27 August that Belgrade has not manipulated Serbian refugees in order to influence or coerce them into casting ballots in the Republika Srpska. Morina, speaking only hours after OSCE Bosnian mission head Frowick's announcement that the elections had been postponed, remarked that the OSCE had monitored and supervised voter registration, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, speaking from Rome, said he could see "no reason" why local elections in Bosnia should be postponed. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIANS ABROAD START VOTING. Meanwhile, the 641,010 registered voters living abroad have begun to cast their ballots, international and regional media reported. Voting is already under way in Hungary and Turkey, although the SDA charged that the voting in Turkey began too early. The 220,640 registered refugee voters in Serbia and Montenegro begin to cast their ballots today, despite the OSCE's ruling that many of them were registered under fraudulent circumstances. They constitute the largest single group of Bosnian voters abroad, after those in Croatia (136,553) and Germany (132,850). -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN ANTI-NATIONALISTS STAGE BIG RALLY. Between 10,000 and 20,000 people on 27 August attended the largest campaign event staged to date by the Joint List, which represents five important anti-nationalist parties, AFP reported. The rally took place in Tuzla, which was the only city in Bosnia-Herzegovina where anti-nationalists controlled municipal government throughout the war. Several of the five parties are organized on the basis of a single nationality, but all are pledged to a multiethnic country. They face formidable obstacles because of the nationalists' control over most media and local governments as well as the polarization that took place during the war. -- Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES NEW TERRITORIAL DIVISION. The Macedonian government on 26 August approved a draft law providing for the division of the country into 120 municipalities and communities, Nova Makedonija and Vecer reported on 28 August. Macedonia is currently divided into 34 administrative units. A first draft of the new law provided for 111 communities, but changes were made--particularly in those areas with a substantial ethnic Albanian population--in order to take into account criticism by ethnic Albanian parties. The parliament is expected to pass the territorial law at its first session in September as well as the recently submitted local election law. This will clear the way for local elections scheduled to be held later this year. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS CALL FOR PRESIDENT'S OUSTER. Gheorghe Funar, leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity, on 27 August called for President Ion Iliescu to be "suspended from office" for supporting the basic treaty with Hungary, Radio Bucharest reported. Funar appealed to all political forces to band together to oust Iliescu, who, he said, has violated the constitution by accepting the inclusion in the treaty of Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201 on ethnic minorities. He also charged Iliescu with "jeopardizing the future of the Romanian people, of the national unitary state and of its territorial integrity." Funar described the treaty as a "secret pact" and an act of "national betrayal." -- Dan Ionescu NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED IN ROMANIA. Nicolae Cochinescu has been appointed prosecutor-general, Radio Bucharest reported on 27 August. Cochinescu replaces Vasile Manea Dragulin, who resigned the same day following criticism for failing to take action over a banking scandal. Bucharest dailies described the change as "a total surprise," and Ziua speculated that it came "under pressure from the political-financial mafia." The daily added that his appointment is designed to suggest that the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) will take a tough stand on corruption. The PDSR has been keen to polish its image ahead of general and presidential elections scheduled for 17 November. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS TURNED DOWN. The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) on 27 August refused to register the presidential and vice presidential candidates of Bulgaria's two largest political forces, Pari reported. The ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party and its coalition partners have chosen Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and Culture Minister Ivan Marazov as their candidates. But they failed to gain a two-thirds majority among members of the TsIK because opposition representatives on the commission said documentation on how Pirinski acquired Bulgarian citizenship was inadequate. The united opposition's candidates--Petar Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldzhiev--were also rejected because documents submitted by parties backing them were found to contain irregularities. The Socialists and the opposition both said they will appeal the decisions. They have three days to do so, and the Supreme Court must then rule within another three days. The court's decision is final and binding. -- Stefan Krause UPDATE ON BULGARIAN AGRARIANS' CRISIS. Supporters of Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer, the ousted Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (BZNS) leader, claim that the union's statutes were violated in at least 10 instances during the meeting at which Dimitrova-Mozer was sacked (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996), Standart reported on 28 August. They have appealed to the Sofia City Court. Meanwhile, the new party leadership has handed in registration documents to the court, but it is doubtful whether the party can be registered as long as the appeal is pending. The leaders of the Union of Democratic Forces, the People's Union (of which the BZNS is a member), and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom are refusing to meet with the new leadership before Dimitrova-Mozer returns from the U.S. Meanwhile, Dimitrova-Mozer again called for an extraordinary party congress. -- Stefan Krause COUNCIL OF EUROPE SENDS MISSION TO ALBANIA. A fact-finding mission from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly arrived in Albania on 27 August, AFP reported. The seven-member delegation, headed by Britain's Lord Finsberg, is to examine "the progress of the political dialogue after the violence and irregularities that marked the legislative elections." The assembly proposed in June that a round table be organized to foster dialogue between the opposition and the government, but those talks have so far failed. The opposition charges President Sali Berisha with failing to ensure the fairness of upcoming local elections. It is also demanding that the activities of the new permanent electoral commission be regulated by new legislation rather than a presidential decree. -- Fabian Schmidt TWO DIE OF POLIO IN ALBANIA. Two Albanian teenage girls have died of polio, Reuters reported on 27 August. They were among 23 cases that have been referred to the capital's specialist hospital since the beginning of June. A Tirana doctor, however, denied there was an epidemic and claimed the cases were unrelated. The doctor added that the disease probably originated from children who had received polio vaccinations and had then passed on the virus in feces. The virus can enter the water supply and infect people with weak immune systems who live under poor sanitary conditions. Some 700,000 Albanian children received polio vaccinations in April and May. -- 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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