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No. 190, Part II, 1 October 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 LIFE EXPECTANCY DECREASING, INFANT MORTALITY INCREASING IN UKRAINE. Declining life expectancy, growing infant mortality, and a high number of abortions all contributed to a negative population growth of -5.8% last year, down from -4.7% in 1994, Ukrainska hazeta reported on 26 September. Citing various sources, the newspaper said the average life expectancy dropped from 69.4 years in 1992 to 68 in 1994. Life expectancy fell dramatically among men, to 62.8 years, largely because the death rate of working-age men was four to five times that of women. Of every 1,000 infants, 14.5 were reported dead by age one, but the paper added that many hospitals continue the Soviet-era practice of registering infant deaths as stillborns. The number of abortions declined slightly from 1994 to 1995, from 154.3 to 153.1 abortions for every 100 deliveries. -- Chrystyna Lapychak RUSSIAN OIL FIRMS IN BELARUS. As of next year, Russia and Belarus will operate within the framework of a single energy system as envisioned in the April Treaty on the Formation of a Community, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov was quoted saying by Segodnya and ITAR-TASS on 28 September. Serov was in Minsk with Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov for a meeting with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. In line with an agreement signed at the end of last year, Lukashenka said he would sign a decree making the largest refinery in Belarus, Naftan, a closed joint-stock company and allowing the Russian oil firms Lukoil and Yukos to own 51% of the shares. The shares would be divided equally between the two firms. That would open the way for investment by the Russian firms in Belarusian oil facilities. For their part, the Russian firms will contribute 74% of the capital needed to reconstruct the refinery. -- Ustina Markus LATVIA TO END SUMMER TIME EARLIER THAN NEIGHBORS. The government press department announced that Latvia would end summer time on 28 September, Western agencies reported. This is likely to cause confusion since its neighbors Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia will follow the European Union example and end summer time on 27 October. While Lithuania and Poland have been following the EU example for several years, Estonia declared that it would only on 24 September. International airlines are now printing tickets with the correct local times for October, but people holding tickets printed earlier risk missing their flights if they adhere to the printed departure times. -- Saulius Girnius FIVE PARTIES EXPECTED TO SUCCEED IN LITHUANIAN ELECTIONS. Only five of the 24 parties campaigning for Lithuania's 20 October parliamentary elections will receive the necessary 5% of votes to share in the distribution of 70 seats determined by party-list voting, according to a mid-September Baltic Surveys poll published by BNS on 30 September. The five are: the Conservatives (14.7%), Democratic Labor Party (12.0%), Christian Democratic Party (10.5%), Center Union (9.3%), and Women's Party (5.9%). Some 21% said they were still undecided and 14% said they would not vote. Other parties, such as the Social Democratic Party and the Lithuanian Polish Electoral Action, are expected to win some of the 71 seats determined in single-mandate elections. -- Saulius Girnius REFORM OF POLISH CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION BEGINS. Key elements of the long-awaited reform of Poland's central administration began today, Polish dailies reported. With the formal abolition of the Privatization Ministry, the Treasury Ministry began to take control of 204 of the largest "strategic" state enterprises (power plants, coal mines, and vodka distilleries), while ownership of 1,168 firms is being transferred to local governments. The Treasury Ministry will also own all state equity still held in partly privatized firms, including banks, insurance companies, and Lot Polish Airways. The Committee on European Integration will replace the Ministry of Foreign Economic Affairs, which along with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Antimonopoly Office was abolished today. Their functions are being assumed by the Economics Ministry and the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. The prime minister, rather than the Interior Ministry, is now formally responsible for supervising the State Security Office. -- Ben Slay SLOVAK AGRICULTURE MINISTER FACES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The parliament was to discuss an opposition proposal to call a vote of no-confidence in Agriculture Minister Peter Baco on 1 October, Slovak media reported. The move follows a report by the Supreme Supervisory Office concerning illegal grain exports. Baco denied responsibility, and the Republican Council of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) expressed full support for him at a weekend meeting. Former Economy Minister Jan Ducky -- who was also thought to hold responsibility for the exports -- was dismissed in late August, but he is now serving as an adviser to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Former Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek, who was dismissed along with Ducky following several scandals, has retained a paid position at the Interior Ministry, Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher CZECH PREMIER REFUTES 'LOOSE TONGUES.' On his return from a visit to the U.S., Vaclav Klaus denied a recent report that his position within the government and his own party had been significantly weakened by the results of the June elections, Czech media reported on 1 October. "When I am away, people's tongues loosen up," Klaus said. Klaus said the World Bank was not alarmed by the Czech trade deficit, which reached 100 billion crowns ($3.7 billion) in August, claiming the trade deficit and problems in the country's banking sector "are evaluated far more soberly [in America] than at home." However, World Bank President James Wolfensohn told CTK that he knew nothing about recent problems in the Czech banking sector, indicating his meeting with Klaus was of a purely formal character. Today, the Czech parliament is to discuss setting up a special committee to investigate the recent collapse of Kreditni banka. -- Jiri Pehe HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS, INVESTORS DISCUSS ENERGY PRICES. Following a consultative meeting between top government officials and representatives of foreign investors in Hungarian electricity and gas- supply concerns, the government plans to announce an energy-price increase in late October, Hungarian dailies reported on 1 October. Foreign investors were outraged on hearing the government's decision last month to postpone an energy-price hike planned for October until January 1997. The investors bought into Hungary's energy sector last year on the strength of a government promise that energy prices would reflect expenses and ensure an 8% profit by January 1997. In other news, the government decided to postpone the sale of a further stake of the national oil and gas company MOL and the privatization of the national electricity grid until next year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY MEETS. The three members of Bosnia's newly elected chief executive body met on 30 September at the Hotel Saraj on the road between Sarajevo and Pale. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt and his deputy Michael Steiner welcomed Alija Izetbegovic, Momcilo Krajisnik, and Kresimir Zubak, but then left the three to talk alone. Onasa quoted a spokesman as calling the talks "business-like," but Oslobodjenje referred to a "very good atmosphere" and Nasa Borba even reported a "friendly atmosphere." The three agreed that the parliament and presidency would both meet on 5 October, and that the government would be formed and convened by 30 October, according to Oslobodjenje. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB RULING PARTY LOSES TWO-THIRDS PARLIAMENT MAJORITY. The Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) won parliamentary polls in the Republika Srpska, but with a sharply reduced majority that will not enable it to overturn decisions of the Bosnian presidency, AFP reported on 30 September. According to results certified by the OSCE, the SDS won 45 seats out of 83 in the Bosnian Serb parliament, down from the 76 seats it held previously. Either Bosnian entity's parliament can veto the presidency's decisions, but only with a two-thirds majority. The parliament is also no longer purely Serb, with 17 Muslim deputies and one Croat. The Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the leading Muslim party, is the second largest party in the Bosnian Serb parliament with 14 seats. The Serb opposition Alliance for Peace and Progress is third with 10 seats. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER URGES DONORS TO KEEP PROMISES. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic said on 30 September that many international donors have failed to honor financial pledges to Bosnia-Herzegovina, warning that there would be no stable peace without financial support, AFP reported. Muratovic said only 40% of the pledges made at conferences in December 1995 and April 1996 have been committed to concrete projects. A World Bank study released the same day showed that nearly all the $330 million it pledged to make available by 31 December 1996 had been committed. Thirteen World Bank projects are operational in Bosnia, and 629 contracts with a value of $140 million have been signed with the bank's financing. Muratovic also appealed for greater support from the IMF and urged it to appoint a governor for the Bosnian central bank. -- Daria Sito Sucic UN TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE WHILE KEEPING ASSETS FROZEN. The International Contact Group on 30 September issued a draft resolution calling for the lifting of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, which the Security Council is expected to approve within days, Reuters reported. The resolution said the council would consider reimposing sanctions should the Dayton agreement be broken. Russia would, however, probably veto such a move. The document will not release Yugoslavia's frozen assets because of disputes and claims from other Yugoslav successor states. Also held in abeyance will be Yugoslavia's admittance to the UN General Assembly and other UN bodies from which it was suspended because of its disputed legal status. Following a U.S. initiative, British Foreign Minister Malcolm Rifkind said last week that Western European states have linked Belgrade's re-entry to financial institutions to progress on human rights in Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt MILOSEVIC FAMILY TO FORM COALITION IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and his wife Mirjana Markovic's United Yugoslav Left have formed a coalition for the upcoming 3 November federal parliamentary elections in Serbia and Montenegro, AFP reported on 1 October. The New Democracy party also agreed to take part in it. The SPS has a majority in the Serbian parliament but not in the federal one. -- Fabian Schmidt MUSLIM LEADER RETURNS TO SANDZAK. Sulejman Ugljanin, president of the Muslim National Council of Sandzak and leader of the Sandzak SDA arrived in Belgrade from Zurich on 30 September, AFP reported. In 1993, Ugljanin left Sandzak--a region divided between Montenegro and Serbia with a large-ethnic Muslim population--in 1993, after authorities arrested a large number of SDA activists and issued a warrant for his arrest. Those arrested were released earlier this year and police gave Ugljanin no problems on his arrival. Ugljanin said he wants "to help the democratization of the country" and would lead a coalition of Muslim parties in the Yugoslav elections. -- Fabian Schmidt ATTEMPT TO BLOCK ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN TREATY FAILS. A last-ditch attempt by Romanian nationalists to delay ratification of a basic treaty with Hungary failed on 30 September, Radio Bucharest reported. The Chamber of Deputies adopted by a 187 to 19 vote its standing bureau's proposal that the treaty be debated this week in emergency procedures. Deputies from the ultra-nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) attacked the initiative for procedural reasons, saying it had not been previously approved by the chamber's Legislative Council and Foreign Policy Commission. They threatened to take the case to the Constitutional Court. PUNR Deputy Chairman Ioan Gavra accused the chamber's chairman, Adrian Nastase of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, of forcing the ratification of a "document that has no applicability whatsoever, either now or in the future." -- Dan Ionescu U.S. URGES WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM MOLDOVA. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week on a special resolution demanding that Russia begin withdrawing its troops from Moldova, BASA-Press and Infotag reported on 30 September, quoting a press release from the Moldovan Foreign Ministry. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives on 26 September, calls for the fulfillment of a 21 October 1994 Moldovan-Russian agreement that provided for the troops' withdrawal over a three-year period -- an agreement that has never been ratified by the Russian State Duma. -- Zsolt Mato BULGARIAN SEEKS EU HELP WITH GRAIN CRISIS. The Bulgarian government is seeking EU help to deal with the ongoing grain crisis, international agencies reported. Trade Minister Atanas Paparizov and Agriculture Minister Krastyo Trendafilov told EU ambassadors on 30 September that the country needs 450,000 metric tons of grain and 700,000 tons of fodder, asking for grain shipments and commodity credits under preferential terms to be repaid in three years. Bulgaria is also negotiating with Ukraine and Kazakstan. This year's harvest -- about 1.9 million tons -- is the lowest in 10 years. Bread prices have increased fivefold since the beginning of 1996. Meanwhile, a poll published by Pari and Reuters showed that only 16% of respondents still trust Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government while 67% consider him incompetent. Some 80% believe the situation will deteriorate in the winter. -- Stefan Krause OPPOSITION CANDIDATE FAVORED TO WIN BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. An opinion poll conducted by BBSS Gallup and published in Pari on 1 October showed the presidential candidate of the united opposition, Petar Stoyanov, leading over the candidate of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, with 29% to 18.6% of decided voters. Some 12.4% said they will vote for Georges Ganchev of the Bulgarian Business Bloc, 5.2% named Aleksandar Tomov of the Civic Alliance for the Republic, and 18.2% were undecided. Should a run-off be held, 42.8% were decided to vote for Stoyanov over 27.6% for Marazov. Meanwhile the Supreme Court on 30 September rejected an appeal by former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova against the Central Electoral Commission's decision not to register her for the presidential elections (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 September 1996). Indzhova implied the decision was politically motivated. -- Stefan Krause POLIO CLAIMS ELEVENTH VICTIM IN ALBANIA. Over 80 people have been infected with polio in Albania since April, ten of them within the past four days, Republika reported on 1 October. Eleven have died. A massive vaccination campaign of all people up to 50 years old is expected to start this week. UNICEF officials, however, warned that preparations were far from complete and that Albania's medical system and staff could not handle the task, international agencies reported. Polio cases were also reported in neighboring Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Tom Warner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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 BACK ISSUES Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail. 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