|The discovery of a new dish does more for human happines than the discovery of a new star. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin|
No. 188, Part II, 27 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 UPDATE ON CHORNOBYL NEUTRON LEAKS. A Ukrainian government commission has concluded that the three recorded increases in neutron emissions at Chornobyl's fourth nuclear reactor this month caused no rise in radiation levels, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 September. Committee Chairman Viktor Chebrov said the incidents have posed "neither a nuclear threat nor a threat of sarcophagus destruction," as claimed recently by Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko. Ukrainian and Western agencies reported that President Leonid Kuchma has admonished Kostenko for trying to "intimidate people" with his warnings of a possible steam explosion at the reactor. But he added that the uncertainty over the condition of the concrete-encased reactor will prompt him to press the G-7 powers at a meeting next month in Paris to help construct a new covering. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian press has published numerous articles skeptical of government reassurances that there is no danger at Chornobyl. Russian media have claimed Kyiv wanted to "blackmail" the West into providing more money with unsubstantiated claims of an imminent nuclear threat. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE REASSURES CHINA OVER TAIWAN. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, in New York, has said Ukraine supports the "one China" policy and regards Taiwan as a province of China, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 September. He added that Ukraine attaches great importance to its relations with Beijing and will not be establishing official contacts with Taipei. Qian responded that both China and Ukraine have the same problems in safeguarding their territorial integrity. Ukrainian-Chinese relations suffered a setback last month when Taiwanese Prime Minister Lien Chan paid a private visit to Ukraine, which was depicted as an official visit by the Taiwanese media. Beijing retaliated by canceling an official visit to Kyiv by a high-ranking Chinese delegation. The affair was smoothed over following assurances from Kyiv that it upheld China's position on Taiwan. -- Ustina Markus FINANCING BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL REFERENDUM. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has refused to sign amendments to the law on elections and referendums, Belapan reported on 24 September. He disagreed with the deletion of a provision allowing donations from citizens, enterprises, and organizations to be used for holding a referendum. Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Viktar Hanchar revealed that an account at the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) for holding a referendum had been opened as long ago as 1 January, before there was any mention of a referendum. Hanchar said his information came from NBB chairwoman Tamara Vinnikau. He also said funds from state budget revenues have been transferred to the account. Lukashenka had promised he would not use money from the state budget for the referendum and that it would be funded by voluntary contributions. Hanchar said the account was a disgrace, adding that only the Central Electoral Commission had the right to open accounts to finance referendums. -- Ustina Markus OTHER REFERENDUM NEWS FROM BELARUS. The president's administration has refused the 'zero option" whereby the presidential referendum will be canceled if parliament refrains from holding its proposed ballot. The option was proposed as a compromise to avert conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Deputy head of the administration Alyaksandr Abramovich said it was not a constructive solution. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Belarusian deputy parliamentary speaker Hendz Karpenka said Belarus will not be able to improve its economy without integration with Russia. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he foresaw more interference from the West in Belarus's political affairs. He also said the right road for Belarus was to be a presidential republic like Russia, not a parliamentary one. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN PRESIDENT'S OATH OF CONSCIENCE QUESTIONED. Juri Estam, editor of Kultuur ja Elu, has filed an appeal to the Tallinn Regional Court protesting the Tallinn City Court's 19 September ruling on President Lennart Meri's oath of conscience, BNS reported on 26 September. Estam, together with parliamentary deputies Villu Muuripeal and Eldur Parder, had asked the regional court to rule on whether Meri violated the oath of conscience he took in 1992. Estam alleges that Meri actively cooperated with the Society for Cultural Relations with Estonians Abroad (VEKSA), which was subordinated to the KGB, and thus falsely claimed not to have collaborated with organizations involved in persecuting people. Tallinn City Court judge Tiiu Hiuvain threw out the case, arguing that it did not fall under the city court's jurisdiction. Under the 1992 oath of conscience law, any individual can file a court case alleging the validity of the oath taken. The burden of proof, however, lies with the contestant. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA DISMISSES PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN. The Saeima on 26 September dismissed Ilga Kreituse as its head, BNS reported. The vote had been expected since Kreituse quit the Democratic Party Saimnieks on learning she was about to be expelled (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 September 1996). Saeima Deputy Chairman Alfreds Cepanis of Saimnieks, the only candidate proposed as her replacement, was elected in a secret ballot. Aigars Jirgens, a deputy of For the Fatherland and Freedom, was elected deputy chairman. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH RULING COALITION AGREES ON GOVERNMENT REFORM. Leaders of the co- ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), meeting on 25-26 September after a weeks-long controversy, have settled a dispute over proposed government reform. The PSL wanted the current government to be dismissed and a new one formed, while the SLD wanted ministers to be gradually replaced by the president on the premier's initiative. The PSL argued that such an approach would introduce a presidential system through the back door. Both parties are close to agreement on the division of portfolios in the restructured government. Tensions between the SLD and the PSL have recently been exacerbated over the dismissal of Foreign Trade Minister Jacek Buchacz (PSL) on the initiative of Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz of the SLD (OMRI Daily Digest, 5 September 1996). The Sejm on 26 September approved both Cimoszewicz's explanation on government reform and Buchacz's dismissal. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH PRIVATIZATION MINISTRY ABOUT TO BE CLOSED. Wieslaw Kaczmarek, privatization minister for almost the past three years, has assessed the ministry's work prior to its closure on 1 October and it replacement by the Treasury Ministry. Among the ministry's biggest successes, Kaczmarek said, were launching the restructure of 1,322 companies, an increase in foreign investment, and the introduction of new privatization schemes, such as the National Investment Funds. He criticized the idea of nominating a provisional head for the Treasury instead of a minister, which, he said, may slow down privatization. Kaczmarek is a candidate for the Treasury portfolio, but his candidacy is opposed by the PSL. -- Jakub Karpinski and Beata Pasek CZECH ELECTION COMMITTEE REJECTS CANDIDATES FOR SENATE BALLOT. The Central Election Committee has rejected the applications of more than 80 candidates (out of a total of 574) for the fall elections to the Senate, Czech media reported. The reasons for the rejections are mostly mistakes or omissions in filling out the application forms. Former Czech Prime Minister Petr Pithart, Trade Union Leader Richard Falbr, Czech Ambassador to Germany Jiri Grusa, and former Communist leader Jiri Svoboda are among those whose applications have been turned down by the committee. Unsuccessful applicants can appeal to the Supreme Court. Leading Czech politicians have criticized the committee's decision, arguing that candidates could have been asked to correct the mistakes rather than being disqualified. -- Jiri Pehe CZECH COALITION PARTIES AT ODDS OVER RESTITUTION OF CHURCH PROPERTY. Josef Lux, chairman of the coalition People's Party-Christian and Democratic Union, on 26 September said the government's decision to return some Church property was "insufficient," Czech media reported. Lux criticized the government for not including forests among those assets to be returned. He added that although the government's decision is "a step in the right direction," it fails to observe fully coalition agreements, concluded in June, specifying that forests would be returned. Meanwhile, Jan Kalvoda, chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance, told journalists on 26 September that "it is premature to talk about violating the coalition agreements." -- Jiri Pehe ANOTHER PRIVATE NATIONWIDE TV STATION PLANNED IN SLOVAKIA. The Slovak parliament on 26 September announced that Slovak TV's second channel will begin broadcasting via satellite from 1 January 1997, Slovak media reported. This step will free many terrestrial frequencies currently used by Slovak TV. The Board for Television and Radio Broadcasting is expected soon to grant a license to a new nationwide private TV station, TV Koliba, which will use the frequencies freed by Slovak TV's second channel. TV Koliba is reportedly backed by leaders of Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. Another nationwide private TV station. Markiza, began broadcasting in August. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PARLIAMENT RULES ON UNIVERSITIES. The Slovak parliament has approved an amendment to the law on higher education increasing the Education Ministry's competence in allotting subsidies, Slovak media reported. Almost 100 changes were proposed during the discussion of the bill. The most controversial amendment gives the Education Ministry the right to veto appointments of professors and assistant professors, which are to be left to the university councils. The original version of the law empowered the ministry to make those appointments, causing a stir within the academic community. The Universities Council and Rectors' Conference described the plan as the "liquidation of centuries-old academic rights and freedoms." Education Minister Eva Slavkovska expressed satisfaction with the "compromise" amendment. The opposition, however, reacted by proposing a vote of no-confidence in Slavkovska, which will be taken during the parliament's October session. -- Jiri Pehe EX-JUDGE: TOP HUNGARIAN SOCIALIST LEADERS WERE FORMER "AGENTS." Jozsef Eigner, in a recent interview with the daily Uj Magyarorszag, has accused Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Speaker of Parliament Zoltan Gal, and deputy Matyas Szuros of working as secret service agents under the communist regime. All three rejected his allegations, Hungarian dailies reported on 27 September. Eigner formerly served on a committee established by the previous government to check the backgrounds of key public figures and root out those who had been secret agents. He was eventually removed from the committee after it was alleged that while serving as a judge in the 1950s, he had passed some sentences of a political nature. The committee was subsequently abolished, and its successor set up only recently following amendments to its mandate. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, the allegation is "groundless" and is clearly aimed at trouble-making, slander, and discrediting the prime minister. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY TO MEET? President Alija Izetbegovic has said that the new three-man presidency will meet in Sarajevo on 30 September, AFP reported on 26 September. He noted that failure to hold the session will signal "the division of Bosnia" and that he is sure the Serbian representative, Momcilo Krajisnik, will attend. Krajisnik, who has said he does not feel safe in Sarajevo, argued that the meeting should be held on the border between the Croatian-Muslim Federation and the Republika Srpska. Izetbegovic accused the Serbs of "coming up with reasons" to prevent the meeting taking place, such as insisting that the Muslims release some 30 remaining Serbian prisoners. Meanwhile in Pale, Bosnian Serb Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha slammed Izetbegovic, who had spoken at the UN. Buha said that Izetbegovic's remarks revealed his "Islamic fundamentalism" and that he is consequently incapable of leading a Bosnia that includes Serbs and Croats as well. – Patrick Moore BOSNIAN JAILS "WORSE THAN UGANDA." Federal ombudsmen have accused the police of violating human rights in every canton, Onasa reported on 26 September. The ombudsmen said the police hold prisoners for longer than the legal limit without telling their families. The police also drag out investigations for up to three years, and still make charges against people who served in the Serbian or Croatian armies despite the amnesty, the ombudsmen added. People have been denied passports and have been intimidated from visiting the ombudsmen's office in Mostar. -- Patrick Moore CALL FOR LOYALIST BOSNIAN SERBS TO ORGANIZE. Gen. Jovan Divjak has appealed to Serbs living on federal territory to form their own political party and seek their own voice in Bosnian politics. Divjak is a Bosnian Serb who remained loyal to the Bosnian government and held a command throughout the war. But he was cashiered when the Muslim Party of Democratic Action consolidated its control over the military. He pointed out that the Serbs make up "10% to 15% of the population on the territory controlled by the government but on the list of candidates [there] they were not even 1%." Divjak said that the existing Serbian Civic Council is not enough and that the loyalist Serbs need a real political party, Oslobodjenje reported on 27 September. -- Patrick Moore MAJOR POWERS AGREE TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE. Foreign ministers of the International Contact Group on 26 September said that UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia will shortly be lifted, Reuters reported. A statement on the meeting said the ministers "looked forward to early certification of the [14 September] Bosnian elections and to the lifting of sanctions by the UN Security Council soon thereafter." British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind commented that "it's days we're talking about, not weeks." Robert Frowick, head of the OSCE mission in Bosnia, told the meeting he expected to announce final election results within 48 hours. The ministers were meeting to discuss how to shore up peace following the ballot and get the joint presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina to start working. That body is scheduled to meet next week. -- Fabian Schmidt AVRAMOVIC ADDRESSES MORE THAN 10,000 PROTESTERS IN KRAGUJEVAC. Former Yugoslav Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic on 26 September addressed a demonstration of more than 10,000 in Kragujevac, where workers at the local arms and automobile plants have been on strike for 30 days, Nasa Borba reported. Avramovic--who was sacked on 15 May after publicly falling out of favor with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic over his economic reform program--attacked the Serbian authorities. He is quoted as saying that "one should make those cadres who do not leave the [comfort of] their cars use tram No. 2 so that they see in what miserable conditions [the rest of] the world lives. They have no clue how it is to live with a salary of 300 to 400 dinar. I was thunderstruck when I learned that you are fighting for 230 dinars." He also criticized the "old bureaucratic leadership of the trade unions." -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN SENATE RATIFIES TREATY WITH HUNGARY. The Romanian Senate on 26 September ratified the basic bilateral treaty with Hungary, Radio Bucharest and Western media reported. The treaty was signed 10 days ago in Timisoara by the prime ministers of the two countries. Senators representing the ultra-nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity voted against ratification of the treaty. They were joined by several senators from the Socialist Labor Party, the Greater Romanian Party, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, the main political organization representing Romania's Hungarian minority. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu attended the session. The treaty, which is expected to end the long- standing rivalry over Transylvania and help improve the situation of the 1.5 million-strong Hungarian minority in Romania, is considered vital for the two countries' aspirations to join the EU and NATO. -- Dan Ionescu CEAUSESCU'S YOUNGEST SON DIES IN VIENNA. Nicu Ceausescu, the youngest son of late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, died on 26 September in a Vienna hospital from the effects of cirrhosis of the liver, Western agencies reported. Nicu (45), who had the reputation of a hard-drinking playboy, was generally seen in the 1980s as his father's heir apparent. A communist party boss in Sibiu County, Nicu was sentenced in 1990 to five years in jail for his alleged role in the slaying of 91 persons during the December 1989 revolt, which toppled his father. His parents were executed on Christmas Day 1989. Nicu was freed in November 1992 for medical reasons. Earlier this month, he was flown to Vienna, where he was on the waiting list for a liver transplant. -- Dan Ionescu DNIESTER REGION TO ELECT PRESIDENT IN DECEMBER. The Supreme Soviet (parliament) of the self-declared Dniester Moldovan Republic has scheduled the presidential elections for 22 December, Infotag reported on 26 September. At the same time, it adopted the law on presidential elections following stormy debates in which demands were made to postpone the elections because of the dire economic and social situation in the region. Some deputies said the existing rivalry between the self-styled president of the region, Igor Smirnov, and parliamentary chairman Grigorii Marakutsa may lead to further de-stabilization. With a population of some 720,000, the Dniester region broke away from Moldova in 1990. The Republic of Moldova, which has not recognized Dniester independence, sees elections there as illegal. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIA FACING HYPERINFLATION? Leading Bulgarian economist Georgi Petrov on 26 September said that hyperinflation is inevitable unless money-losing enterprises are rapidly privatized, international media reported. Even though the Central Bank hiked the base interest to 300% this week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1996), people continue to cash their leva for dollars in non-stop exchange offices in Sofia, Reuters reported. In an effort to rescue their money, more than 150 Sofia citizens stood in line on 26 September outside the National bank to obtain treasury bonds, which could yield an annual interest rate of about 450%. -- Maria Koinova [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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