|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 199, Part II, 14 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 UKRAINE REACTS TO LEBED'S CLAIMS ON SEVASTOPOL. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry criticized a recent open letter from Aleksandr Lebed published by the Black Sea Fleet's Flag rodiny in which the Russian Security Council secretary claimed Sevastopol had never been officially handed over to Ukraine and never legally lost its Russian status, Western and Ukrainian media reported. Lebed said Russia should take a stronger position on the Black Sea Fleet and over Sevastopol as its base. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko said Kyiv will be guided by a statement by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergii Krylov, who refuted Lebed, reassuring Kyiv that Sevastopol is legally a Ukrainian city and that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had not raised any territorial claims. Udovenko warned that Lebed's letter could have a negative effect on negotiations over the division of the Black Sea Fleet. -- Ustina Markus CHIEF OF UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S STAFF ACCUSED OF ABUSING AUTHORITY. The Ukrainian parliament's Commission against Corruption and Organized Crime called on President Leonid Kuchma to fire his chief of staff, claiming they had found evidence that Dmytro Tabachnyk used his position to illegally obtain an apartment in central Kyiv, UNIAN reported on 9 October. The commission said Tabachnyk should be prosecuted, evicted, and barred from holding public office. Commission members admonished law-enforcement authorities for their poor record in prosecuting corrupt officials. They said that according to Justice Ministry statistics, only 560 out of 2,650 officials found guilty of abusing power in 1991-1995 were sent to prison and only 12% were barred from holding public office. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEA CHALLENGES DISBANDING OF REGIONAL PARTIES. The Crimean parliament rejected a recent order by the Ukrainian Justice Ministry canceling the registration of Crimean regional parties, Ukrainian media reported on 10 October. The parliament adopted a resolution saying the order does not comply with Ukrainian legislation and expressing a lack of confidence in the head of the ministry's main directorate in Crimea. Meanwhile, a group calling itself the Popular Opposition Union of Crimea was set up on 11 October, UNIAN reported. Its leader, Crimean Communist Party leader Leonid Hrach, called for early elections in Crimea, claiming tension there is so great it could lead to "another Chechnya." -- Oleg Varfolomeyev BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT RESCINDS COMPROMISE OFFER. Following the Belarusian parliament's rejection of his favored date for a referendum on a new constitution, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka withdrew his proposed compromises to his draft constitution, saying it was no longer possible to compromise with the legislature, Russian and Belarusian agencies reported on 11 November. In a secret ballot, a slim majority of 88 deputies opposed changing the date of the referendum to 7 November from 24 November, the date previously set by parliament, while 84 voted in favor of the change. In a bid for support, Lukashenka claimed Russian President Boris Yeltsin supported his plans to hold a constitutional referendum and planned to meet with him on 16 October. Constitutional Court Chief Justice Valeryi Tsikhinya said Lukashenka's constitution would "castrate parliament and make the Constitutional Court a puppet." -- Ustina Markus BALTIC DEFENSE MINISTERS SIGN AGREEMENTS ON JOINT DEFENSE. Joint declarations on the development of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion after 1 October 1997, setting up a joint naval unit, and creating a unified system of control over their air space were signed by the three Baltic defense ministers in Riga on 12 October, BNS reported. Andrus Oovel (Estonia), Andrejs Krastins (Latvia), and Linas Linkevicius (Lithuania) also agreed to form a joint task force to bring military equipment in line with NATO standards. -- Saulius Girnius FORMER LITHUANIAN PREMIER ARRAIGNED FOR ABUSE OF POWER. Former prime minister Adolfas Slezevicius has been arraigned on criminal charges of abuse of power, Senior Prosecutor Algimantas Kliunka said on 10 October. Slezevicius was charged in connection with receiving almost double the normal interest for his deposits in the Joint-Stock Innovation Bank, which he withdrew in December 1995, days before the government suspended the bank's activities. Kliunka said Slezevicius would not be arrested since there are no grounds to believe he would hide, evade investigations, or impede the progress of the trial, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH UNION OF LABOR PARTY REJECTS EX-COMMUNISTS. The Union of Labor party (UP) rejected an electoral alliance with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) at its congress outside of Warsaw on 12 October, Rzeczpospolita reported on 14 October. The SLD, a coalition led by the descendent of the communist party, has been seeking an agreement with the UP before the 1997 parliamentary elections. In an appeal to the UP congress, SLD leaders emphasized the two parties' social-democratic orientation and argued that Poland is threatened by "populist economic nationalism, fed by rightist rhetoric." The SLD is also seeking to counter an accord with right-of-center groups apparently being sought by its junior partner in the governing coalition, the Polish Peasants Party. -- Ben Slay CZECH PARLIAMENT BLOCKS CHURCH PROPERTY RESTITUTION. Following two unsuccessful attempts in the summer, opposition parties in parliament managed to pass a resolution on 11 October directing the government to stop returning property to churches until the parliament passes an appropriate law, Czech media reported. The government had planned to bypass parliament in returning property nationalized by the communists. At the end of September, the government decided to return a number of buildings to churches but left out forests, fearing a clash with the parliament. After the vote, government officials indicated the government will not respect the resolution and will go ahead with returning the buildings. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PREMIER: CZECH-SLOVAK DEBTS SHOULD BE FORGOTTEN. Reacting to reports that Slovakia has failed to make payments on an 11 billion crown debt to the Czech Republic, Vladimir Meciar told Slovak radio on 12 October that his government and the Slovak National Bank are not "in a state of war with anyone." The Slovak prime minister said the reopening of the debt issue by Czechs is "an effort to make Slovakia responsible for the Czech Republic's serious economic problems." Meciar said mutual Czech-Slovak debts originating in the times of the Czechoslovak federation should be forgotten. "Let's agree that we do not owe each other anything and let's start with a clean slate," he said. -- Jiri Pehe ACCUSATIONS EXCHANGED OVER TRADE-UNION CONFEDERATION. Following the annual congress of the Confederation of Trade Unions in Slovakia on 12- 13 October, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar accused the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) of politicizing the confederation and pursuing its political aims through the confederation, Slovak press reported on 14 October. Narodna obroda quoted SDL Deputy Chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova responding: "We have not forgotten the documents of [Meciar's] Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), which state that the HZDS will create its own unions if it cannot gain power in the confederation." The congress elected Ivan Saktor, described by Narodna obroda as "a pragmatic technocrat," as the confederation's new leader. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL UPDATE. Recently dismissed Industry and Trade Minister Tamas Suchman, speaking publicly on the subject for the first time, accepted political responsibility for the privatization scandal that led to his sacking but denied involvement in the affair, Hungarian media reported on 11 October. Marta Tocsik, the consultant at the center of the scandal, failed to attend the hearings for the second day in a row, pleading illness. On 12 October, press reports revealed that five other parties -- including a department head at a major Hungarian bank -- received part of the 804 million forint ($5.2 million) commission paid to Tocsik by the state privatization agency. -- Zsofia Szilagyi Southeastern Europe SERBS CONTINUE BOYCOTT OF JOINT BOSNIAN INSTITUTIONS. The Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, has again refused to sign a loyalty oath to Bosnia-Herzegovina, AFP reported on 12 October. Krajisnik said he objected to any ceremonies taking place in a Sarajevo building associated with the Croat-Muslim federation and that he would only sign on Bosnian Serb territory. He also refused to meet German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel together with the Croatian and Muslim members of the presidency and met the German guest separately instead. Krajisnik, who had earlier declined to come to Sarajevo out of alleged fears for his safety, arrived there on 12 October to talk with Kinkel and U.S. special envoy John Kornblum. The Serbs have engaged in a post- election war of nerves since the first and only meeting of the presidency on 30 September. Krajisnik says he is defending Serbian interests, Nasa Borba reported on 14 October. -- Patrick Moore STANDOFF BETWEEN MUSLIMS, BOSNIAN SERB POLICE. Another war of nerves is continuing, namely that between the Republika Srpska police and the Muslim refugees who have returned to their homes on Bosnian Serb territory. The RS authorities released three Muslims who had been jailed in Zvornik, Dnevni avaz wrote on 14 October. The police in Jusici over the weekend maintained a tense standoff with Russian IFOR troops -- whom they had threatened on 11 October -- as well as the villagers. Early in the morning of 12 October, an explosion destroyed a Muslim home on the outskirts of the nearby village of Mahala, in an area known as Hajvazi. The Muslims are asserting their right to go back to their homes in keeping with the Dayton agreement, much to the consternation of IFOR and the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore OSCE MONITOR SAYS BOSNIA NOT READY FOR LOCAL ELECTIONS. Ed van Thijn, the chief OSCE monitor during Bosnia's September general elections, said he will not accept the same job in November municipal elections because Bosnia is not ready for them, AFP reported on 13 October. Van Thijn said municipal voting should be postponed until spring because voter lists are not reliable and refugees still would not be able to vote where they wish to in November. Municipal elections were postponed from September to November after it was found that Bosnian Serbs were tampering with voter registration. On 12 October, OSCE spokesman David Foley said delaying Bosnia's municipal elections would undermine the peace process. AFP on 11 October quoted Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic threatening: "If the process of forced and illegal repopulation of the Republika Srpska continues, conditions for [holding] local elections will not be reached." -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN NATIONALIST ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and an accused war criminal, has emerged the strongest advocate of Serbian state expansion ahead of the 3 November federal Yugoslav and Montenegrin republican elections. On the campaign trail in Montenegro on 13 October, Seselj called for "the creation of a unified Serb state [and] the liberation of Serb Krajina, Serb Dubrovnik, Serb Bosnia, and Serb Macedonia," AFP, citing local press, reported. At a rally in Niksic, Seselj said the eventual creation of a greater Serbia would depend heavily on Russia's support, predicting that "Great Russia will lift herself up, she will thunder across Europe and the world, she will return to the Balkans, and when she does, day will dawn for the Serbs." Meanwhile, the independent daily Nasa Borba carried poll results showing the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, along with its potential coalition partners the United Yugoslav Left and New Democracy, with a 23.7% share of voter support to the Zajedno opposition coalition's 23.9%. According to the 20-26 September poll, 29.7% of voters remain undecided and 14% do not expect to vote. -- Stan Markotich ALBANIAN GRAVES DESECRATED IN KOSOVO. About 62 Kosovar Albanian graves were desecrated on 11-12 October in five mosques in Pec, AFP reported. Unidentified vandals also reportedly set a fire that destroyed parts of the Hamam Mosque's interior. In other news, Lenny Fischer, chairman of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, said respect for human rights and a political solution for Kosovo are preconditions for economic and political cooperation between Belgrade and the EU, BETA reported on 13 October. -- Dukagjin Gorani CROATIAN AUTHORITIES CLOSE EAST SLAVONIAN MARKET. Local authorities in the Osijek-Baranja district ruled on 10 October to close down the market on the border between Serb-held eastern Slavonia and Croatian-controlled territory, Vecernji List reported. On 12 October, Croatian authorities began turning back Croats on their way to the market, claiming it was for health and hygiene reasons, AFP reported. Jacques Klein, head of the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), supported the market as a place where confidence between Serbs and Croats was being rebuilt. UNTAES spokesman Douglas Coffman said the market helped over 45,000 people from both sides to reestablish contacts broken by the war, and that the UN "deeply deplored" the decision to close it down. Meanwhile, UN special human-rights reporter Elisabeth Rehn had talks with Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic on the human-rights situation in the country, AFP reported. Rehn said Croatia had made "positive steps." -- Daria Sito Sucic DIVERGING POLLS ON ROMANIAN ELECTIONS. Emil Constantinescu, candidate of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), for the first time placed first in a poll measuring support for presidential candidates, Romanian media reported on 12 October. The poll, conducted by the Department of Statistics of the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies on behalf of the private Antena 1 TV station, puts Constantinescu ahead with 31.6% of the electorate's backing to Social Democratic Union (USD) candidate Petre Roman's 28.2% and incumbent President Ion Iliescu's 24.2%. The poll shows the CDR favored by 39.9% in parliamentary elections, the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) by 20.5%, and the USD by 19.6%. However, another poll conducted by IMAS shows Iliescu ahead in the presidential race with 33%, followed by Constantinescu (27%) and Roman (24%), and gives the CDR only a narrow lead in parliamentary voting (30% to the PDSR's 29%, and the USD with 21%). Media reports suggested the former poll's sampling techniques were questionable. Both elections are scheduled for 3 November. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIA AND NATO. Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on 14 October continued the Romanian campaign to convince NATO states that his country should be among the first admitted to NATO. Melescanu is traveling for this purpose to London and Paris, meeting British Foreign Minister Malkom Rifkind and the French Minister for European Affairs, Michel Barnier. On 11 October in Brussels, he met NATO General Secretary Javier Solana, to whom he conveyed a message from President Ion Iliescu, and also conducted talks with his Belgian counterpart, Erik Derycke. Also on 14 October, a new NATO exercise within the Partnership for Peace Program is starting at Bucharest's Otopeni airport. Four NATO countries (the United States, Turkey, Greece, and Italy) as well as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Moldova are participating in the exercise. Hungary, Slovenia, and Macedonia are sending observers, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Michael Shafir SNEGUR ON RELATIONS WITH DNIESTER SEPARATISTS. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur told the Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta that separatist leaders in Tiraspol believe they are backed by Russia as well as by "some Moldovan leaders," Radio Bucharest reported on 13 October. Snegur said no compromise can be reached on the breakaway region's status because the separatists constantly raise new demands and Chisinau would never recognize the region as enjoying an independent international status. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS DEBATE NATIONAL SECURITY. The major candidates for the 27 October presidential elections held their first debate on state TV and radio on 10 October. Petar Stoyanov of the united opposition and the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Culture Minister Ivan Marazov and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, discussed national security issues. Stoyanov said Bulgaria should join NATO to secure its security interests. Marazov and Bokova said the parliament or the people should decide on that question. Standart reported on 12 October that Stoyanov's appearance met with 28% approval, against 14% for Marazov, while the BSP's Duma claimed in a headline that "Ivan and Irina razed their opponent to the ground." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN TOP OFFICIALS' SALARIES FROZEN. Retroactively from 1 October, salaries of parliamentary deputies, ministers, National Bank directors, and other high officials in the budgetary sphere will no longer be adjusted to compensate for inflation, parliament decided on 11 October. Bulgarian Socialist Party faction leader Krasimir Premyanov said it is intolerable that politicians' salaries grow in times of crisis. The opposition dismissed his proposal as a "cheap populist move" ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. Freezing deputies' stipends had been debated since May. The basic deputy stipend is three times the average salary, or 32,184 leva ($150) at present. -- Maria Koinova ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE. A Tirana court rejected an appeal by the Center Pole coalition to reduce the minimum age for election monitors to 18, Albania reported on 12 October. The Center Pole had criticized a ruling that Albanian monitors had to be at least 25 years old, while for foreign monitors the minimum age is 22. Meanwhile, an official of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said that he expects a green light for an ODIHR monitoring mission in few days, Dita Informacion reported on 13 October. The Albanian opposition had demanded the participation of the ODIHR, arguing that it had more expertise than the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Originally only the assembly was scheduled to send a delegation. -- 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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