|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 176, Part II, 11 September 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 GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1997 BUDGET. The government has approved a draft budget for 1997, UNIAN reported on 9 September. The draft foresees cuts in expenditures of the central and local governments, higher excise taxes on spirits and tobacco products, and fewer tax loopholes. The annual inflation rate is expected to fall to around 25%. The draft is to be submitted to parliament for final approval. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mate Granic arrived in Kyiv on 9 September for a two- day official visit, Ukrainian reported on 10 September. Granic met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz. The foreign ministers confirmed the text of an agreement on friendship and cooperation, which should be signed next year when Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma visits Croatia. Granic expressed his approval of Ukrainian peacekeepers in Bosnia, and, according to Reuters, said that "for the formation of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state international forces should stay for two more years. Perhaps in a reduced way but they should definitely remain." The ministers also discussed increasing trade and economic cooperation. -- Ustina Markus & Stan Markotich BELARUSIAN POLITICAL CRISIS CONTINUES. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka refused to accept the parliamentary by-election date, 24 November, as the date for his referendum, and continued pressing for the Bolshevik anniversary, 7 November, Russian Public Television reported on 10 September. Parliament demanded that Lukashenka amend by 15 September a series of his decrees which had been found to contravene the constitution, or face impeachment proceedings. The independent paper Svaboda noted on 6 September that although it will be easy to get the necessary 70 deputies to sign an impeachment motion, the anti- presidential bloc cannot be sure that it will have the 134 or two-thirds vote, needed to remove Lukashenka. The president has the firm backing of 60-70 deputies, and many other are still vacillating. Lukashenka addressed the nation on 10 September, saying the failure to pass his referendum would mean loss of statehood for Belarus. He identified the removal of the presidency as a return to the era of former parliamentary speaker Stanislau Shushkevich, when "indifference reigned supreme," and there was no one to lift the country out of the "gutter." -- Ustina Markus PROGRESS MADE IN LATVIA, LITHUANIA BORDER TALKS. Although Latvian and Lithuanian Prime Ministers Andris Skele and Mindaugas Stankevicius did not sign any agreements at their meeting on 9 September, the Lithuanian government information center announced the next day that the positions of both delegations became so much closer that an agreement could be reached in the next few days, Radio Lithuania reported. Stankevicius canceled a planned press conference so as not to reveal the compromises that had been reached. Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, however, noted that Latvia will acknowledge the Curonian Spit as part of Lithuania's seashore. This will extend the territory of Lithuania's economic sea zone not only northward, but also to the West so that it will touch Sweden's economic zone. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN ELECTION PREPARATIONS. Lithuania's main political parties on 7 September held pre-election conferences to make minor changes to their candidate lists for the 20 October parliament elections, Radio Lithuania reported two days later. Supreme Election Commission Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas noted that although 33 political parties and organizations have the right to nominate candidates, none has officially filed its lists and fulfilled other requirements. The deadline is midnight on 15 September. Vaigauskas also noted that about 30 persons are attempting to collect the 1,000 signatures needed to run as independent candidates. Former Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius is the only candidate who has already completed this requirement. The election campaign officially begins on 20 September. -- Saulius Girnius NEW SLOVAK FOREIGN MINIS-TER'S FOREIGN TRIPS. Pavol Hamzik on 10 September held a series of meetings in Brussels to stress the importance of Slovakia's Western integration, Slovak media reported. The new minister began his foreign trips by first visiting Vienna on 4 September. He will travel to Prague on 12 September and to Budapest on 18 September. Meanwhile, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar will hold long-delayed bilateral talks with his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, during the Central European Free Trade Agreement summit on 13-14 September in Jasna, central Slovakia. Representatives of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania will also attend the summit. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAKIA'S LONG-AWAITED PARLIAMENT SESSION TO BEGIN. Parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic did not place on the agenda of the parliament session beginning on 11 September a series of "democratization" proposals demanded by the opposition, Slovak media reported. These include giving opposition representatives partial control over the secret service, the National Property Fund, and Slovak TV and Radio. Gasparovic, who recently returned from a five-day U.S. visit, stated on 10 September that the earliest date for the admission of new NATO members will be 1998 or 1999, giving Slovakia a long time to resolve its problems. He said Slovakia has not been excluded from the first group of NATO candidates. Although admitting that the West has asked Bratislava to strengthen democracy, Gasparovic justified the delay in expanding the control organs by saying that an agreement between the opposition and the coalition was still lacking. -- Sharon Fisher ANOTHER POLISH PEASANT PARTY MINISTER UNDER FIRE. Culture Minister Leslaw Podkanski of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) was censured at the government session on 10 September. Podkanski has repeatedly made blunders showing that he has rather superficial knowledge of Poland's cultural affairs. Noted Polish cultural figures as emigre editor Jerzy Giedroyc and Nobel price laureate Czeslaw Milosz recently demanded his dismissal. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz obligated Podkanski to answer Giedroyc's criticism. Pod-kanski is the third PSL high official under fire recently. Foreign Trade Minister Jacek Buchacz was dismissed on Cimoszewicz's motion on 4 September, and Polish TV President Ryszard Miazek was criticized for his program and personnel policies after the recent TVP reshuffle (See OMRI Daily Digest 4, 5 September). -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH HELSINKI COMMITTEE AGAINST EXTRADITION OF CHINESE COUPLE. The Polish Helsinki Committee said Warsaw should not agree with China's request to extradite the Mandugequi couple who are suspected of embezzling nearly $1 million from Chinese banks, Polish dailies reported on 10 September. They were detained in Poland in August based on an Interpol warrant, and the Polish side received the Chinese extradition request on 5 September. Earlier in August, China's deputy justice minister visited the Warsaw prosecutor's office, explaining that the Mandugequi couple is threatened with life imprisonment at most. The Polish Helsinki Committee argued that even minor offenses are punished by death in China. A Warsaw court extended their detention until 10 November. -- Jakub Karpinski SWIMMING SCANDAL IN HUNGARY. Tamas Gyarfas, Hungary's top swimming official, resigned on 9 September following allegations that 11 of 22 members of the country's swim team went to the Atlanta Olympics based on imaginary times at a qualifying meet that never took place, Hungarian and international media reported. Hungarian Olympic Committee officials said the discovery of fraud will not affect the team's results. Hungary won three gold medals, one silver, and a bronze in the Olympic swimming competition. Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze, who oversees sport, on 10 September called for an investigation. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN REFUGEE CAMP CLOSED. The Nagyatad refugee camp in southern Hungary was closed on 9 September, Reuters reported. Since 1991, the camp has held thousands of Croatians and Bosnians fleeing the Yugoslav wars of succession. According to Hungarian officials, Hungary's refugee efforts no longer need facilities the size of Nagyatad since only 500 mainly Bosnian refugees remained in the camp that a few years earlier held 2,000 refugees. Nagyatad's remaining refugees are being transferred to a smaller refugee camp in Eastern Hungary, a step they oppose since it moves them further from home. -- Ben Slay SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIA'S NEW AMNESTY LAW. Jacques Klein, the head of the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia, has said that a new amnesty bill will be discussed in Croatia's parliament, Croatian Radio reported on 10 September. According to Reuters, Croatia drafted the law on amnesty for Serbs living in eastern Slavonia at least partly in response to mounting international pressure demanding that the rebel minority Serbs fighting against Croatia in 1991 be pardoned. Few details of the legislation have yet been made public. Reuters also observed that "last month" the UN urged Croatia to adopt a "comprehensive amnesty law" covering all Serbs serving under civil or military in rebel-Serb held parts of Croatia, but excluding war criminals. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN ULTRANATIONALIST ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Accused war criminal and paramilitary leader of the Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ), Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, spoke at a 10 September rally for SSJ presidential candidate for the Bosnian Serb entity, Ljilja Peric-Tina, and blatantly revived calls for Serbian state expansion. Despite the fact that calls for secession are in contravention of the Dayton accord, Arkan told his 3,000 followers "Don't forget one thing, your capital and that of all Serbs is Bel-grade...Serbia, Montenegro and Republika Srpska - that is one state." Meanwhile, Serbian President Slobo-dan Milosevic, who has not expressly rejected the idea of a greater Serbia, has kept largely silent in response to the ultranationalist rhetoric, AFP reported. But on 4 September Beta reported that the OSCE provided Arkan's party with 300,000 marks (about $222,000) in campaign funds. -- Stan Markotich SERBIA-MONTENEGRO UPDATE. Job action at the Zastava arms production facility in Kragujevac continues, Nasa Borba reported on 11 September, although the hunger strike was abandoned on 6 September. On that date, the same daily reported the exacting toll the hunger strike was taking on participants under the headline "Hunger Strikers Collapsing of Exhaustion." In other news, Nasa Borba also reported that Montenegrin President Momir Bula-tovic had begun a working visit to the US. The daily said Bulatovic raised the issue of the status and future of the strategic Prevlaka peninsula, saying that it would be resolved "the peaceful way." Prevlaka belongs to Croatia, but controls access to Belgrade's only naval base. -- Stan Markotich OSCE PENALIZES PARTIES VIOLATING ELECTORAL RULES. Bosnian Serb ultra- nationalist Serb Democratic Party (SDS) was fined $50,000 after two of its top leaders called for secession from Bosnia over the weekend (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 September 1996), AFP reported on 11 September. The OSCE had warned that any candidates calling for secession would be barred from the 14 September vote, but the warning came too late. The SDS was also forced to ban displaying posters of its former head, indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. The party controlled television station and paper published on 10 September a statement on the ban for the first time "without any disclaimer or slogan attached to it," AFP quoted OSCE spokeswoman Agota Kuperman as saying. Meanwhile, the OSCE also fined the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) $15,000 for painting its logo on the roads within the country. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROAT AND MUSLIM CAMPAIGNS CONTINUE. Federation president Kresimir Zubak called on Bosnian Croats to express support for the Muslim-Croat federation and to return to formerly multi-ethnic towns where they could continue their life "as equal partners with Muslims," AFP reported on 11 September. Meanwhile, in Mostar, where some 50 Serbs and Muslims have been expelled from the Croat-held part of town since the beginning of the year, five families returned to their homes under Croatian police guard. In the Croat-held town of Stolac, a pilot project, blocked for two months, aimed at returning 100 Muslim families started this week. While Croats became softer in their campaigning, Muslims became tougher. Bosnian President and SDA leader Alija Izetbegovic at a 10 September rally in Tuzla said his party is the only one to protect Muslim interests, and there was a such thing as "enlightened nationalism." -- Daria Sito Sucic EXPERTS FIND BONES AT MASS GRAVE LINKED TO SREBRENICA MASSACRE. International experts on 10 September uncovered bones at a mass grave in Pilica, eastern Bosnia, believed to contain the bodies of hundreds of Muslims allegedly massacred by Serb forces in Srebrenica last summer, AFP reported. The Pilica site was discovered from information given to the UN International Criminal Tribunal by Drazen Erdemovic, a Croat who served in the Bosnian Serb army. Meanwhile, in The Hague, prosecution witnesses have failed to prove case against Dusko Tadic, a Bosnian Serb accused of killing 13 Muslims and torturing 18 others in the camps of Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje, northwest Bosnia. The defense is calling for Tadic's immediate acquittal, and the court is expected to rule on it by 13 September. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIA VOTES TO KEEP HOMOSEXUALITY A CRIME. The Chamber of Deputies on 10 September overwhelmingly voted to keep homosexuality a crime, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported. The controversial Article 200 of the Penal Code, adopted by a vote of 174-39, provides for jail terms of up to three years for homosexual relations, with a five-year penalty if such relations took place in public. Deputies from the opposition National Peasant Party -- Christian Democratic also voted for maintaining the ban, originally imposed by executed Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. The vote toughened draft legislation adopted by the Senate in March, but which was not passed by the Chamber and which made homosexuality a crime only if it "causes public scandal." Romania's new justice minister Ion Predescu authored the version passed by the Chamber of Deputies which the Senate has not yet approved. It goes against the urging of the Council of Europe that Romania should decriminalize homosexuality. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN WONDER-HEALER TO CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENCY. Constantin Mudava on 10 September was the fifth person to formally register as a candidate in the presidential race on 3 November, Radio Bucharest reported. He collected 128,000 signatures in support of his candidacy. In a short statement, Mudava promised "to heal the people and the country from both the medical and the economic point of view." -- Dan Ionescu TIRASPOL GARRISON COMMANDANT ON MOLDOVAN ELECTIONS. Col. Mikhail Bergman, the recently reinstated commandant of the Russian troops garrison in Tiraspol, described the ban on the Dniester inhabitants' participation in the 17 November Moldovan presidential election as a "gross human rights violation," Infotag reported on 10 September. Bergman, a close associate of Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, strongly criticized the "separatist admini-stration's decision not to allow the functioning of polling stations in the region." According to him, the main culprit was Dniester Security Minister Vadim Shevtsov, whom he called "a criminal" who seeks to destabilize the situation in the region for fear that peace would mean his being delivered to justice for "numerous crimes in both the Dniester region and earlier in Riga." -- Dan Ionescu COMPROMISE ON BULGARIAN COAT OF ARMS IMMINENT? The parliamentary faction of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 10 September proposed to the opposition that the constitutional provision on the coat of arms be changed, Duma and Kontinent reported. The recently adopted coat of arms depicting a rampant lion without a crown was vetoed by President Zhelyu Zhelev. The parliament must vote on his veto by 17 September. Opposition demands that the lion be crowned meet are strongly resisted by parts of the BSP. The constitution is unclear on the question. The BSP faction will propose delaying the vote on the veto -- originally scheduled for today -- and start talks about a constitutional amendment, hoping to reach a compromise by the end of the week. BSP presidential candidate, Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, in a state TV address said he favors a crowned lion. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PRESIDENT TO HEAD NEW LIBERAL FORMATION. A "Liberal-Democratic Union" led by Zhelyu Zhelev will be formed by the end of September, 24 chasa reported on 11 September. This was announced after a meeting on 10 September between Zhelev and the leaders of the New Choice party, New Democracy party, and the Radical-Democratic Party Outside the Union of Democratic Forces. The new group will support a presidential republic or at least a strong presidential administration as well as powerful municipal administrations. Zhelev said the new formation will most likely support the united opposition candidates, Petar Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldzhiev, in the upcoming presidential elections. He said that none of the three parties will support the candidacy of former caretaker Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova. -- Maria Koinova and Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR WANTS JAIL TERMS FOR COMMUNISTS. The prosecution on 10 September demanded that four Albanians charged with trying to found a communist party and conspiring to overthrow the government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 July 1996) be sentenced to prison terms between one and three years, Reuters reported. Prosecutor Kadri Skeraj asked for three- year terms for Timoshenko Pekmezi and Sami Meta and for one-year sentences for Tare Isufi and Kristaq Mosko. He said that "they should be sentenced not for their communist convictions and ideas but for propagating them -- something which is anti-constitutional." The defendants previously denied that they supported violence or anti- constitutional methods. The parliament outlawed all communist organizations in July 1992. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Saulius Girnius ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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