|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
No. 197, Part II, 10 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 *********************************************************************** 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 *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS CONSIDER BURYING CHORNOBYL REACTOR. Members of the Ukrainian Parliament's Commission on Nuclear Policy and Safety are considering a proposal by a Ukrainian company to bury the ruined fourth reactor at Chornobyl, Ukrainian TV and AFP reported on 9 October. The legislators are reviewing an offer by the Kryvy Rih-based firm Kolo to bury the reactor some 450-500 meters underground for $600 million. The offer would be some 30% cheaper than the only other proposal made thus far for a more permanent disposal of the highly contaminated reactor. An international consortium called Alliance has proposed constructing a new "sarcophagus" over the original, crumbling tomb now covering the reactor for between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER OUSTED. Crimean legislators voted 74-2 to dismiss their speaker, Yevhen Supruniuk, claiming he had submitted his resignation, Ukrainian TV reported on 9 October. Supruniuk, who remains hospitalized after escaping a recent kidnapping attempt, denied submitting a resignation and called the vote unethical because he was not given the opportunity to defend himself in the chamber. Earlier in the day, a group of deputies visited him to ask him to resign, but he refused, he said. The lawmakers blamed Supruniuk for a weakening of Crimean autonomy. In other news, a Crimean justice ministry official announced he had annulled the registrations of 17 regional parties, Radio Ukraine reported on 9 October. He said the parties had failed to re-register with the Ukrainian Justice Ministry as either national parties or regional branches of national parties. The new Ukrainian constitution does not recognize regional parties. -- Chrystyna Lapychak POLISH WAR VETERANS DENIED ENTRY TO UKRAINE. Some 650 Polish World War II veterans were denied entry visas to Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported. The veterans wanted to build a monument to Polish war victims in Volyn Oblast, which was a part of Poland before the war. Recently, the veterans erected 31 crosses in the oblast with names of former Polish towns that are now a part of Ukraine. Local officials had them taken down. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry justified denying the visas on the grounds of defending Ukraine's national territorial interests. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION URGES BALLOTS BE POSTPONED. Viktar Hanchar, head of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), said planned referendum and parliamentary by-elections should be postponed because democratic conditions for the ballots cannot be guaranteed, Reuters and NTV reported on 9 October. Belarusian radio reported the CEC found numerous violations of the electoral law during a check of all districts in Minsk. In addition, the Finance Ministry has refused to release funds for holding the ballots on 24 November unless the president decrees their release. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who wants a referendum on his version of the constitution to be held on 7 November instead, has so far refused to sign a decree releasing funds for the parliament's referendum and by-elections. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is expected to try and convince the Belarusian parliament and president to compromise during a planned visit to discuss Belarus's energy debt. -- Ustina Markus PERRY REASSURES BALTIC DEFENSE MINISTERS. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry assured his Baltic counterparts in a letter dated 3 October that they are "fully eligible" for NATO membership, Reuters reported on 9 October. Perry claimed that remarks he made in Norway in late September that the Baltic states would not be among the first new NATO members because their armed forces did not have sufficient military capability (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 September 1996) had been misinterpreted. He expressed regret that the media focused on the negative aspects of his comments and not the U.S. pledge to help get the Baltic states' defense capabilities up to alliance standards. Countering charges of possible Russian interference in the issue, Perry wrote: "In particular I reject- -and the U.S. rejects--any idea that the Baltic countries are excluded a priori or that any non-NATO country has a veto over their aspirations-- whether de jure or de facto." -- Saulius Girnius POLISH GOVERNMENT APPROVES AUSCHWITZ TOURIST CENTER. The Polish government approved a 245 million zloty ($88 million) "strategic development" program for the town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and the nearby former concentration camp on 8 October, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The program will create an international conference, educational, and seminary center, to be completed by 2007. Questions about buildings located within a 500-meter radius of the camp, as well as the modernization of the camp's transportation system, are to be resolved by 2001. The program's second phase will focus on restoring Oswiecim's old town and constructing the conference center. The program does not resolve a controversy over the proposed construction of a supermarket within 500 meters of the camp. -- Ben Slay CZECH STATE BUDGET PASSES FIRST HURDLE. Four Social Democrats, including Parliament Budget Committee Chairman Josef Wagner, voted with the governing coalition on 10 October to approve the government's proposed state budget on first reading, Czech media reported. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus thanked Wagner for showing "political responsibility." The coalition Civic Democratic Alliance described the budget as "anti- liberal" and "social-democratic," but in the end voted with the rest of the coalition to support the budget. The budget still has to pass two more readings. -- Jiri Pehe NEW COMMERCIAL TV IN SLOVAKIA ON TOP. TV Markiza topped Slovakia's visual media rankings with 34.1% viewership during the last week of September, TASR reported on 9 October. A Visio Association survey showed that Markiza's viewership roughly equaled the combined viewership of the pro-government state channels STV 1 and STV 2, which had 24.8% and 9.8% viewership, respectively. TV Markiza started broadcasting on 31 August and is partly owned by Central European Media Enterprises. The station reaches 60% of Slovak territory and plans to reach 80% in the future. Sylvia Volzova, who is responsible for the station's informational programs, told the French daily Liberation on 9 October: "We are absolutely independent, and our news will be independent as well." -- Anna Siskova TWO NEW HUNGARIAN MINISTERS NOMINATED AFTER SCANDAL. Prime Minister Gyula Horn nominated Judit Csiha as privatization minister and Szabolcs Fazekas as minister of industry, trade, and tourism on 9 October, to replace the recently sacked Industry and Trade Minister Tamas Suchman, Hungarian dailies reported. Csiha is a political state secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Fazekas, now the country's ambassador to Germany, had been state secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Horn's nomination follows the parliament's approval on 8 October of a bill changing the categorization of ministries. -- Zsofia Szilagyi JEWISH COMPENSATION APPROVED IN HUNGARY. The Hungarian parliament voted on 8 October to create a public foundation to administer property confiscated from Hungarian Jews during World War II and to oversee payments to elderly survivors of the Holocaust, Reuters reported. Jewish leaders said the way was now cleared for the Jewish community to negotiate with the government on how much financial support, property, and other valuables will be given to the Jewish community. The Hungarian government agreed to establish the public foundation in July after talks with the World Jewish Congress and other groups, but the act needed parliamentary approval. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. TROOPS START WITHDRAWING FROM BOSNIA. Some 240 American troops started the official U.S. withdrawal from Bosnia-Herzegovina on 9 October, the first concrete move to ending the one-year mission of the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR), AFP reported. IFOR spokesman Major Simon Haselock said the withdrawal was "technical" in nature, and that there would not be a significant withdrawal until after the municipal elections scheduled for 22-24 November. As these forces withdraw, additional troops will arrive to oversee the complete pullout of the American troops. Some 5,000 soldiers are due to arrive in Bosnia over the next six weeks to join 2,500 soldiers already in place to make up the new cover forces. -- Daria Sito Sucic MUSLIM REFUGEES CONTINUE CAMPAIGN TO RETURN HOME. The interior minister of the Republika Srpska, Dragan Kijac, told 100 Muslims who have returned to their homes in Jusici, near Zvornik in the "zone of separation" between the two Bosnian entities, that they now live in the Republika Srpska and must obey its laws. The reaction of the Muslims was mixed, AFP reported on 9 October. The Muslims are conducting a slow but deliberate campaign to go home--as they are entitled to do under the Dayton agreement--despite the objections of the Serbs and IFOR (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 8 October 1996). Bosnian Radio claims that Bosnian Serb police led by Kijac have staged incidents in the nearby village of Dugi Do against other Muslim returnees, Oslobodjenje reported on 10 October. The paper added that over 3,000 refugees have gone back to their homes in the border region near Doboj and seek the support of the international community. -- Patrick Moore BOMBINGS IN MOSTAR. Two explosions occurred in Mostar on 8-9 October, news agencies reported. The first was at a Franciscan monastery that offered aid to all three ethnic communities in the city; the second was at a disused elementary school. Both buildings are just inside the Croatian side of the Croat-Muslim border. The incidents come shortly before the EU's police force is due to leave the town in the hands of local police. -- Patrick Moore EXHUMATIONS OF WAR VICTIMS IN BOSNIA, CROATIA. International experts were due to give more than 150 bodies exhumed from a mass grave at Cerska, eastern Bosnia, to Bosnian authorities on 8 October, AFP reported. The grave is one of those linked to the massacre of thousands of Muslims from Srebrenica last year. Meanwhile, 200 bodies have been unearthed from a mass grave in Ovcara, Croatia, Vecernji List reported on 8 October. Evidence suggests most of the victims were patients from the Vukovar hospital, executed in 1991 by rebel Croatian Serbs. Croatian authorities suspect there could be more graves in the area because 261 hospital patients went missing. In other news, a Bosnian Serb arrested in Germany in December last year has been charged with genocide for allegedly killing 25 Muslims in Bosnia in summer 1992, international agencies reported. According to the UNHCR, some 14,000 persons from Bosnia-Herzegovina--the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims--are still classified as missing, news agencies reported on 9 October. -- Daria Sito Sucic NO ADDITIONAL PARTIES IN BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The OSCE announced that only those parties registered for the 14 September general elections may take part in the local ballot slated for 22-24 November, Oslobodjenje reported on 10 October. It is still not clear how the OSCE will deal with the crucial issue of voter registration. The OSCE is under pressure from the Clinton administration to declare the electoral process a success, but political manipulation in voter registration-- especially by the Serbs--was so blatant as to force the OSCE to postpone the local vote. -- Patrick Moore FORMER BANK GOVERNOR RESIGNS FROM SERBIAN OPPOSITION COALITION. Dragoslav Avramovic resigned as leader of the Zajedno opposition coalition due to "aggravated health conditions," Nasa Borba reported on 10 October. The 76-year-old former National Bank governor and World Bank economist was considered the glue that joined the four parties comprising Zajedno after seven months of quarreling. His resignation could be a serious blow to the coalition, which according to a recent opinion poll by Vreme had overtaken the ruling coalition of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in popularity, Reuters reported on 9 November. Nasa Borba speculated that the real reasons for Avramovic's resignation are threats to obstruct his daily dialysis treatment, and pressure by Milosevic during a closed-door meeting on 9 October. -- Dukagjin Gorani BELGRADE TAXI DRIVERS GO ON STRIKE. Taxi drivers went on strike on 9 October demanding tax cuts and cheaper imports of second-hand cars to help them renew their fleet. Police prevented protesters from entering the city center. Serbia has an estimated 20,000 registered taxi drivers, of whom 10,000 work in Belgrade, Reuters reported. Serbian Minister for Private Enterprise Radoje Djukic called the strikers' demands justified. The taxi drivers canceled a general strike last month, but the finance ministry did not deliver on promised tax cuts. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS SPLIT. Stipe Mesic, president of the Croatian Independent Democrats, suspended his deputy Josip Manolic from his post on 9 October for proposing to solve the dispute over Zagreb's city government by giving the mayorship to the ruling Croatian Democratic Community in return for 80% of city government posts going to the opposition, Slobodna Dalmacija reported. Mesic said such statements were threats to the opposition parties' unity. Manolic had also supported the normalization of relations between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which Mesic opposed. -- Daria Sito Sucic MYSTERIOUS POISONINGS IN MACEDONIA'S ALBANIAN SCHOOLS. Hundreds of pupils have been hospitalized in the Tetovo area in recent days with symptoms of poisoning, MILS reported on 9 October. Most of the pupils were quickly released since examinations did not indicate serious illness, but some returned still complaining of pains. Classes were canceled in some schools. Medical teams began examining the water and other possible sources of poisoning. The ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity claimed the poisonings were deliberate and that the Interior Ministry had suspects in other similar cases. Nova Makedonija, meanwhile, put the blame on people who wanted to create political chaos, noting a similarity to poisonings in Kosovo in March 1990. -- Fabian Schmidt GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS ENTER 'KEY PHASE' The latest meeting between the Greek and Macedonian UN ambassadors, Christos Zacharakis and Ivan Tosevski, on 7 October in New York prompted Nova Makedonija and the Greek Kathimerini to write on 9 October that talks on Macedonia's name had entered a "key phase." The news agency MILS reported that Zacharakis proposed several composite names including the word Macedonia, such as New Macedonia and Republic of Macedonia--Skopje. Tosevski did not comment on the report. The daily commented that the most Greece could get is that Macedonia would be referred to as New Macedonia in the UN, a second name would be established for internal use, and Greece would chose a third name for bilateral communication. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIA REJECTS VOTERS' CARDS. Voters in the 3 November elections will use existing IDs rather than new voters' cards, following an 8 October vote of the Chamber of Deputies, Romanian media reported. The Senate had already approved the government proposal. The opposition and foreign experts had long pressed for the use of voters' cards to diminish the possibility of fraud. Earlier, the government had approved use of the cards, but it now claims they cannot be manufactured in time. Meanwhile, the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania criticized a statement by Wim van Velzen, the Dutch president of the European Union of Christian Democrats, who said after a visit that President Ion Iliescu was trying to rig the ballot and that his "manipulations" are "quite brazen," Reuters reported. The statement accused van Velzen of blatantly interfering in the elections and defying "the norms of good manners, politics, and his own country." -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN POLICE SAY WITNESS SAW LUKANOV'S MURDERER. National Investigation Service Director Boyko Rashkov announced on 9 October that police interviewed a witness who clearly saw the face of the man who killed former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov, RFE/RL reported. Rashkov said a computer-assisted portrait of the suspect has been completed and will be published soon. Rashkov said investigators think the man was alone when he killed Lukanov on 2 October, but did not comment on whether others are involved directly. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN ETHNIC-TURKISH PARTY SUPPORTS PROTESTS. Ahmed Dogan, chairman of the Movement for Rights and Freedom, said after a 9 October meeting with Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB) leader Krastyo Petkov that he supports civic protests against the government, Bulgarian media reported. Petkov said protests will continue during most of the campaign period for the 27 October presidential elections, including a national protest meeting in Sofia on 15 October organized by the KNSB and Bulgaria's other main trade union, Podkrepa. On 8 October, the KNSB called a nationwide one-day strike for 20 November. Plants, offices, schools, and the state administration will strike for 24 hours, while medical doctors, pilots and employees of institutions who by law may not strike will join in "symbolic actions." -- Stefan Krause KOHL RECEIVES BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The united opposition's presidential candidate, Petar Stoyanov, met on 8 October with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and other officials in Bonn. Kohl was reportedly concerned about Bulgaria's mounting crisis and the slowing of economic reforms. Stoyanov appealed for Germany's support for Bulgaria's speedy admission into the EU. It was the first time Kohl had received a Bulgarian politician since his visit to Bulgaria in 1993. -- Maria Koinova [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Tom Warner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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