|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 192, Part II, 3 October 1996
*********************************************************************** Available now -- 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 *********************************************************************** 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 FORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER PLANS PRESIDENTIAL BID. Yevhen Marchuk, dismissed as prime minister in May, announced he will run against President Leonid Kuchma in the 1999 presidential election, Ukrainian TV reported on 2 October, citing an interview in Kievskie vedomosti. Kuchma recently announced he will seek re-election for a second five-year term. Marchuk made his announcement after being elected head of the Social- Market Choice caucus in the Ukrainian legislature. The 24-member group has attracted a number of the country's ex-leaders, including former Prime Minister Vitalii Masol. Its previous leader, Volodymyr Shcherban, recently fired as governor of Donetsk Oblast, chose not to run for re- election. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN DEPUTIES LEAVE PRO-PRESIDENTIAL FACTION. A group of deputies split off from the pro-presidential Sohlasiye faction in parliament and joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Belarusian television reported on 1 October. Their leader, Aleh Harbunou, said Sohlasiye has not represented the views of all deputies who have not joined the anti- presidential opposition. He said the Belarusian LDP, which has existed since 1994, has 15,000 members. In other news, Belapan reported that 14 opposition parties had met at their regular "round-table" session and agreed to put forward joint candidates in the 24 November parliamentary by-elections. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPER REMAINS UNDER PRESIDENTIAL CONTROL. Deputy Leanid Yunchyk, the parliament's appointee for editor-in-chief of the parliamentary newspaper Narodnaya hazeta, has not been able to take over those duties from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's appointee to the post, Mikhail Shymanski, Belapan reported on 1 October. Shymanski said he would not obey any of the legislature's resolutions, only the president's. In other news, Reuters reported that Lukashenka's deputy chief of staff, Uladzimir Zamyatalin, had again accused the Russian media of bias in their reporting on Belarus. Zamyatalin's latest attack against the Russian press was triggered by their reporting on Russian President Boris Yeltsin's appeal to the Belarusian parliament and president to compromise over their planned referendums. The Russian media depicted it as a call on Lukashenka to back down. -- Ustina Markus LATVIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS REMAIN JAMMED OVER 1920 TREATY. At the second round of Latvian-Russian border talks in Moscow on 1-2 October, Latvia and Russia made no progress on the key issue of whether the 1920 peace treaty signed by Latvia and Soviet Russia remains valid, Latvian delegation head Aivars Vovers told BNS. According to the treaty, the Abrene district that was incorporated into Russia in 1944 belongs to Latvia. The next round of talks is scheduled for early November in Latvia. Meanwhile, Lithuanian Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius telephoned his Latvian counterpart Andris Skele on 2 October and presented new proposals on how to resolve the Lithuanian-Latvian sea border dispute. Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins said Latvia would think over these proposals, but was not optimistic about swift results due to the ongoing election campaign in Lithuania. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH LIFE EXPECTANCY INCREASING. According to Poland's Central Statistical Office, life expectancy for Poles increased during 1991- 1995, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 3 October. On average, life expectancy for women increased from 75.3 to 76.4 years, while that of men increased from 66.1 to 67.6 years. Demographers cautioned that these statistics do not mean that Poles are living longer. Instead, a significant (30%) decline in infant mortality, which on average increases age at the time of death, may be the most important reason for the growing life expectancy. Men residing in cities tend to out-live men in rural areas, presumably because of better access to health care in urban areas and the burden of heavy physical labor in the countryside. However, the study also found that rural women tended to outlive urban women. -- Ben Slay CZECH PARLIAMENT SETS UP ANOTHER INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE. The parliament voted on 2 October to create a special 12-member committee to investigate the privatization and functioning of Poldi Kladno, one of the largest steel-producing companies in the Czech Republic, Czech media reported. Poldi and its principal owner, Vladimir Stehlik, have been heavily indebted; production at the company stopped several months ago, and the fate of some 5,000 employees remains uncertain. The government has been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to force Stehlik out, accusing him of mismanagement. Stehlik has accused the government's National Property Fund of blocking his efforts to restart the company. The Social Democrats and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party will be represented by four deputies each on the committee, while the other four parliamentary parties will be represented by one deputy each. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK ACTORS CALL STRIKE. During a rally in Bratislava on 2 October, members of the Slovak National Theater announced an indefinite strike to begin the following day, Slovak media and Reuters reported. Some 10,000 people attended the rally, protesting government cultural policies and demanding the dismissal of Culture Minister Ivan Hudec. Controversial policies include Hudec's replacement on 1 October of National Theater director Dusan Jamrich with a government ally, his dismissal of stage director Peter Mikulik in July, and his plans to merge two Bratislava theaters. Popular actor Ladislav Chudik said there will be no public performances until Mikulik is reinstated and a proper competition is held for the post of director. National Theater employees have not gone on strike since November 1989, when actors helped spark the revolution that brought down the communist government. Also on 2 October, Hudec fired Slovak Philharmonic chief Karol Faith. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK IRONWORKS' BID FOR LARGER STAKE IN BANK REJECTED. The Slovak National Bank (NBS) rejected a request from the Kosice-based ironworks VSZ to increase its stake in the Investicna a rozvojova banka (IRB) on 2 October, Narodna obroda reported. When the request was made in June, VSZ held a stake of 14.63%; another increase could give the firm control over one of Slovakia's four most important financial institutions. VSZ President Jan Smerek said his firm hopes to obtain a 40% stake. However, any purchase of 15% or more of a bank's shares must gain the National Bank's approval. The NBS board explained that IRB is to undergo restructuring of its loan portfolio with state participation. VSZ has close ties to the government through Transport and Communications Minister Alexander Rezes. "Even without the NBS's blessing, VSZ has other possibilities to attain its goal," Smerek said. -- Sharon Fisher GERMANY GRANTS MORE LOANS TO HUNGARY. During a two-day visit to Germany by Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn, German federal and state governments granted DM 1 billion ($650 million) in loans to Hungary, Hungarian dailies reported on 3 October. The Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavarian governments granted DM 250 million each, while Germany's federal government approved DM 500 million to support small and medium- size companies and German-Hungarian joint ventures. The loan agreement follows a similar deal signed in October 1995. Horn later flew to Munich to deliver a speech at today's ceremony marking the anniversary of German reunification. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IZETBEGOVIC AND MILOSEVIC MEET IN PARIS. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Alija Izetbegovic, Muslim member of the Bosnian presidency, began talks in Paris on 3 October, Reuters reported. Milosevic said the purpose of the meeting was "strengthening stability in the region." French officials said the talks would focus on building peace in Bosnia and normalizing mutual relations. The private talks will be followed by separate meetings with French President Jacques Chirac and the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt. -- Fabian Schmidt BOSNIAN MUSLIMS AND CROATS AGREE ON ARMY JOINT COMMAND. Muslim presidency member Alija Izetbegovic and his Croatian counterpart Kresimir Zubak signed a document on 2 October establishing a joint command for the federal army. That new body will consist of the former mainly Muslim government army and the former Croatian Defense Council (HVO). Its commander will be the government army's chief, Gen. Rasim Delic, and his deputy will be the HVO's Gen. Zivko Budimir, Oslobodjenje reported. Making the Croat-Muslim federation work has been difficult on all levels, however, and no aspect has been as problematic as integrating the two armies. -- Patrick Moore MORE MUJAHEDIN FOR BOSNIA? The Bosnian federal police arrested 24 Iraqis and four Jordanians on 1 October, two days after they arrived illegally on a Jordanian peacekeepers' plane. An IFOR spokesman said that IFOR's intelligence experts are looking into the Bosnian Interior Ministry report on the arrests, Reuters reported on 2 October. NATO previously said it is satisfied that Bosnia has ended its military relationship with Iran and dissolved training camps for Islamic fighters. Reports nonetheless periodically emerge of small-scale training facilities (including those for terrorists) or of small groups of mujahedin operating on Muslim-controlled territory. -- Patrick Moore DRUG ARRESTS IN WESTERN HERZEGOVINA. In Mostar, police announced that they recently found and destroyed a 200-stalk field of opium poppies near Ljubuski and have charged two men in the case, Onasa reported on 2 October. The police also indicted several other people in conjunction with five hemp plantations in the Mostar area. Western Herzegovina was long known as one of the former Yugoslavia's centers for cannabis and hemp growing, and more recently it has become linked to organized crime. Elsewhere in Bosnia, police arrested a man in conjunction with the recent murder of the Roman Catholic nun Sister Danka on Muslim-held territory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 October 1996). The man, Josip Cokara, has a history of drug and alcohol problems, Oslobodjenje noted on 3 October. -- Patrick Moore OPPOSITION LEADS IN SERBIAN OPINION POLL. Former Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic's opposition coalition is supported by 28.5% of Serbs, while the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's coalition has only 24.2% support, according to a poll conducted for Vreme by an independent agency. The poll, conducted between 26 and 30 September, asked 1,000 people in 26 communities throughout Serbia, but excluding Kosovo, whom they plan to vote for in the 3 November Serbo-Montenegrin elections. Meanwhile, the Reform Democratic Party of Vojvodina and the Democratic Center party have joined Avramovic's coalition, which includes the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Serbia, the Citizens' Union and the independent trade unions. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIA ADOPTS NEW MEDIA LAW. Croatian parliament passed a new media law on 2 October protecting journalists from demands that they reveal their sources and from charges in cases where they publish false information unintentionally, Vjesnik reported. However, provisions prescribing fines and imprisonment for reporters who insult top state officials were retained. The ruling Croatian Democratic Community said the new law was as "liberal as any European law," and fulfilled 90 percent of the Council of Europe's requirements, international agencies reported. Opposition deputies convinced the governing party to drop an amendment requiring newspapers to pay for mandatory insurance to fund any possible trials against them. Recently, more than 15 reporters were fired from the pro-government daily Vjesnik; independent daily Novi List was fined a large amount for alleged customs violations; and applications for broadcast frequencies by many independent TV and radio stations were rejected. -- Daria Sito Sucic UN OFFERS TO BUY WEAPONS FROM CROATIAN SERBS. The UN and the Croatian government began a project of buying up the weapons stored in Croatian Serbs' private stocks in eastern Slavonia, international agencies reported on 2 October. This last Serb-held area slated to revert to Croatian control was officially demilitarized in August, but the demilitarization did not include privately owned weapons kept in cellars and other secret storage places. UN authorities offered to pay $120 per working automatic rifle, $150 per machine gun, and $20 per hand grenade. The prices of other items are negotiable and faulty weapons are bought for half-price. But Serbs say the deal will not work because they do not trust the Croats and the offers are too low. -- Daria Sito Sucic MASS GRAVE IN EASTERN CROATIA HOLDS VUKOVAR HOSPITAL PATIENTS. Evidence suggests that the more than 80 bodies unearthed from the Ovcara grave site in eastern Croatia are the Vukovar hospital patients killed by Serbs in 1991, according to William Haglund, an expert working for the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. The grave is widely believed to contain some 260 bodies of Vukovar hospital patients killed when the town fell to Serbs in 1991 after a three-month siege. Haglund said on 2 October that the bodies are all male and items found with them show they were patients, international agencies reported. He said at least 40 more bodies are in the grave's first layer, and that the grave has proved to be deeper than expected. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY DISCUSS NATO EXPANSION. Teodor Melescanu and William Perry met at the Pentagon on 2 October to discuss U.S.-Romanian relations and Romania's prospects for joining NATO, Romanian media reported. Melescanu said Perry appreciated Romania's efforts to meet the criteria for NATO admittance, and that Perry said the signing of the Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty and the very active U.S.-Romanian military cooperation were serious arguments in favor of admitting Romania. Perry further praised Romania's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and in the IFOR mission in Bosnia, Melescanu said. The Romanian minister is on a visit to the United States and Canada primarily aimed at boosting Romania's chances of being included among the first group of countries to join NATO. -- Zsolt Mato SNEGUR DENOUNCES HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE DNIESTER REGION. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur appealed to international human rights organizations, the OSCE, and Russian and Ukrainian leaders on 2 October to use their influence to prevent further violations of human rights against ethnic Moldovans in the breakaway Dniester region, Infotag reported. The message focused on the "school war" waged by Dniester separatists against Romanian-language schools in the region that opted for Latin letters. Local authorities recently closed down two schools in the towns of Grigoriopol and Slobozia for having replaced the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin one. Pupils, teachers, and parents have been protesting the move. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN POLITICIANS CONDEMN LUKANOV MURDER. Political forces and institutions on 2 October condemned the murder of former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov as an attack on democracy, Bulgarian and Western media reported. The parliament unanimously declared that it will not allow a "terrorist act" to lead to a state of emergency and that the presidential elections will go ahead as planned. It said the murder "will not deflect Bulgaria from the path of social and economic reform." President Zhelyu Zhelev, after meeting with the Consultative Council for National Security, said the murder must not be allowed to fuel tension in the presidential election campaign. He said the fight against terrorism and organized crime "requires the united efforts of all institutions and cooperation with all countries." Prime Minister Zhan Videnov called the murder an attempt at destabilization and said the government will do everything possible to apprehend and punish the murderers. -- Stefan Krause MOTIVES FOR LUKANOV MURDER REMAIN IN THE DARK. Police have so far not indicated whether they have a firm lead in former Bulgarian Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov's murder, and it remains unclear whether the motives for the killing are political, economic, or both. While many observers seek the motives for the murder in the realm of politics, Lukanov's role as a successful businessman with ties to influential -- and sometimes controversial -- business groups has fueled speculation that the murder might have an economic rather than political background. One theory links the killing with Lukanov's former post as head of the Russian-Bulgarian Topenergy company. Meanwhile, police reportedly arrested an elderly man looking like a tramp near Lukanov's home. An eyewitness had said she saw a tall man dressed like a tramp in the days before the murder and also shortly before the shooting in the immediate vicinity of Lukanov's house. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIA RATIFIES EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS CONVENTIONS. The Albanian parliament ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Liberties on 2 October, and another prohibiting torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, AFP reported. Albania also recognized the right of appeal for individuals to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The ratification requires "immediate" compliance with the human rights convention, but the anti-torture convention will only become Albanian law on 1 March 1997. It will then allow Council of Europe experts free access to prisons and other detention centers. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE. The Center Pole coalition issued a protest to the Central Electoral Commission against a ruling banning people under the age of 28 from participating in the vote count as observers, Poli i Qendres reported on 3 October. The Center Pole called the age limit absurd and charged the commission with overstepping its competence and preparing election manipulations. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party held a rally in Tirana's Congress Palace to introduce its Tirana mayoral candidate Agim Fagu. Elsewhere the same day, a Council of Europe delegation met with President Sali Berisha to discuss the upcoming ballot. -- 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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