|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
No. 201, Part II, 16 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: firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES SUBSIDY-HEAVY ECONOMIC PROGRAM. The Ukrainian parliament approved a three-year government economic plan that features heavy state supports for key industries, Western agencies reported on 15 October. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko presented the program, which calls for government aid to large producers in aviation, automotives, telecommunications, combine-harvesters and agriculture with the goal of boosting industrial output and GDP by 1.7% next year. Lazarenko said 40 projects and 17 new laws need to be implemented to help reverse the current decline. The plan also provides for some tax reductions, although it retains a 20% VAT on cigarettes, spirits, and luxury goods. However, the program postpones long-awaited land reform, mainly due to pressure from the conservative agrarian lobby. Lazarenko admitted his government could only continue to pay off its $1.7 billion wage debt to public-sector employees in monthly installments. He also admitted that only 13 million of the country's 52 million people are actually working, in contrast to the official 0.9% unemployment rate. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE RECONSIDERS CLOSING CHORNOBYL REACTOR. Yurii Kostenko, environmental protection and nuclear safety minister, said Ukraine may reconsider its pledge to shut down Chornobyl reactor no. 1 by the end of October, Western and Russian media reported on 15 October. According to Kostenko, closing one reactor could make another one prone to an accident due to a lack of heat in the coming winter. Chornobyl's two working reactors produce 5% of Ukraine's electricity. During this month's meeting in Paris between Ukrainian and G-7 experts, Ukraine promised to close one of the two reactors in return for an 118 million ecu ($147 million) grant allotted to starting the process of shutting down the plant. The G-7 pledged a total of $3.1 billion in aid to Ukraine for shutting down Chornobyl by 2000. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev IZVESTIYA WARNS AGAINST BACKING BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT. On the eve of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's 16 October visit to Moscow, Izvestiya ran a lengthy article on the dangers of backing Lukashenka. It admonished Moscow for not paying sufficient attention to its "permanent ally" while its president was creating an explosive situation in Belarusian society. It also noted that Belarus had developed a habit of signing agreements squaring its debts with Russia and then falling into debt again, and that despite Lukashenka's promises of economic improvement, in the two and a half years since his election living standards have steadily declined, often to near subsistence level. The writer also pointed out that the Belarusian president had shown he is an unreliable ally by supporting Gennadii Zyuganov in the Russian presidential race. If Russia supports Lukashenka, the article concluded, it will have to bear responsibility for "the rebirth of a totalitarian state." -- Ustina Markus TENSION IN ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi lashed out the Reform Party's ministers in a 15 October article in Eesti Paevaleht, BNS reported. Vahi wrote that in one year in office Foreign Minister Siim Kallas had not improved relations with Russia and Economics Minister Andres Lipstok was unable to establish order on the country's markets. The Reform Party's board suggested the article had been prompted by the premier's fears that the party would perform very well in the 20 October local elections. Seven of Estonia's 15 ministers and 71 of 101 parliamentary deputies are running in the elections. Vahi claimed later that there was no major discord in the coalition and that he was only trying to help find solutions to the country's problems. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH TV BROADCASTING LICENSES DISTRIBUTED. After more than a year of delays, the Polish Radio and TV Broadcasting Council has allocated two TV broadcasting licenses, Polish media reported on 16 October. The council assigned a network in northern Poland to TVN, a company registered by Mariusz Walter and Jan Wejchert, who also own ITI, a major film distributor and producer of TV programs. One-third of TVN's shares are owned by the Bermuda-based company Central European Media Enterprises Group, a major player in commercial TV broadcasting throughout the region. A network in central Poland was allocated to Nasza Telewizja, organized by Polish businessmen apparently with the support of the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance. Nasza Telewizja said it will create a "family and non-aggressive" TV station. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH STATE SECURITY ARCHIVIST REJECTS TRANSFER. Antoni Zielinski, former director of the State Security Office (UOP) archive, has rejected his transfer to a new post at the UOP and instead resigned, Polish dailies reported on 16 October. Zielinski had been director of the UOP's archive since February 1992 until UOP chief Andrzej Kapkowski dismissed him from that post last week and nominated him as chief of the UOP's team of advisers. A UOP spokesman denied that Zielinski's dismissal had anything to do with his informing of the Sejm's lustration commission that material was missing from communist secret-police files (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 September 1996), and said the new post offered to him was more prestigious. Col. Waldemar Mroziewicz, a functionary of the Interior Ministry's archive since the communist era, was made the UOP archive's new director. -- Beata Pasek CZECH MINISTERS DISCUSS TRADE DEFICIT. The rapidly growing foreign trade deficit is merely "a price we pay for our rapid economic development" and "no reason to panic," Premier Vaclav Klaus said after a 15 October meeting of economic ministers. The deficit stood at 110 billion crowns ($4 billion) at the end of August, already equaling the trade deficit for all of 1995. Estimates put the trade deficit for 1996 at 160 billion crowns. The ministers agreed to start seriously addressing the deficit, but warned that no turnaround is likely before the end of 1997. The chief economic adviser of the opposition Social Democrats, Jan Mladek, was quoted by Lidove noviny on 16 October saying there are only three ways to counter the deficit: a devaluation; import surcharges; or other import barriers. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK AUTHORITIES CLOSE CONTROVERSIAL INVESTIGATIONS. Citing a "lack of evidence," the Bratislava Police on 15 October closed two major investigations related to the August 1995 kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, Slovak and international media reported. The first involved the April 1996 death in a car explosion of Robert Remias, who was acting as a contact for a Slovak Information Service (SIS) officer in hiding since he claimed the SIS had engineered the kidnapping. The second involved a phone conversation between SIS chief Ivan Lexa and then- Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek, broadcast in May, that was full of hints about interference in the police investigation of the kidnapping. Investigators said their analyses "did not prove unambiguously that the voices were those of Hudek and Lexa." Peter Weiss, deputy chairman of the Party of the Democratic Left, said the adjournments "show the insufficient political will and professional commitment to resolve these matters." Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky added that "[Remias's] murderers can be prosecuted up until 29 April 2016." Meanwhile, Sme reported that an SIS agent "Martin K." had shadowed Remias and was near Remias's car at the time of the explosion. -- Sharon Fisher and Anna Siskova HUNGARY'S JUNIOR COALITION PARTY LEADER OFFERS RESIGNATION. After revelations that an official of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) was implicated in the country's recent privatization scandal, party leader Ivan Peto offered his resignation but was asked by the party's main executive body to stay, Hungarian media reported on 16 October. Peto said he assumes political responsibility for the activity of the implicated party member, Barnabas Bernhardt, who was on the party's National Council and the board of directors of a company that benefited financially from the state privatization agency's controversial payments to a consultant at the center of the privatization scandal. Another Free Democrat was among the former members of the agency's board of directors who were all dismissed over the affair. Meanwhile, another SZDSZ member resigned from his parliamentary seat, attributing his move to frustration over the privatization scandal and the delay in passing a law to regulate conflicts of interest for deputies. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIA REPORTEDLY ADMITTED TO THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Reuters on 16 October quoted diplomats at the Council of Europe saying that body's Council of Ministers had voted to admit Croatia. That country is now slated to become the 40th member of the Strasbourg-based organization on 6 November. Croatia's admission has been delayed over concerns about press freedom, minority rights, democracy, and Croatia's role in the Bosnian peace process. The Council now apparently feels that Zagreb has made sufficient progress on most of these fronts to justify approval. Recent weeks have seen a judge throw out a government-backed slander suit against critical journalists (although the state prosecutor has appealed that ruling), and the passing of an amnesty law for Serbs who took up arms against Croatia but did not commit war crimes. The organization's delay in accepting Croatia angered not only the government but also many in the opposition, who charged that Croatia was being forced to meet tougher standards than were some other countries. -- Patrick Moore NEW AGREEMENT ON BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN. A plan put forward by international mediators to enable refugees to go back to their homes in areas now controlled by another ethnic group was accepted by the interior ministers of the Croat-Muslim federation and the Republika Srpska in Sarajevo on 15 October. Prospective returnees will now have to apply to the UNHCR, after which other organizations will determine whether the applicant indeed has property in the area. The returnees must be civilians and will have to accept the authority of the side now in control of the area. There will be financial aid for reconstruction and provisions for UN police to supervise local police when the latter send out patrols of more than three men, Oslobodjenje and news agencies reported. The new measures are aimed at preventing unnecessary tensions from arising when refugees try to go home, while at the same time ensuring their right to do so. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN BUS DELAYED AT SERBIAN BORDER. A regular bus link between Sarajevo and Belgrade began operating on 14 October, with the first Serbian bus safely arriving in Sarajevo. But two Bosnian buses making the first Sarajevo-Belgrade run in four years arrived in Belgrade on 15 October only after being blocked for six hours by Serbian border police, international agencies reported. The buses left Sarajevo for the inaugural trip of the new intercity service, seen as a move toward normalization between the two capitals. Passengers said Serbian police demanded they pay $40 for tourist visas, although visa-free travel between the two countries was agreed on at the recent Paris meeting between Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia- Herzegovina, Reuters reported. They also said that military conscripts could not enter the country, only women and children. The bus was allowed to continue only after telephone calls to various ministries in Sarajevo and Belgrade. -- Daria Sito Sucic NATO WARNS CROATIA OVER BOSNIAN PEACE. During a 15 October meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana warned Croatia to fully back implementation of the Croat-Muslim federation in Bosnia and the normalization of the situation in Mostar, according to a NATO official cited by AFP. Solana also stressed the importance of establishing a common army for the federation and a return of refugees, and complained of Croatia's stiff taxes on military vehicles and material crossing its territory, international and local agencies reported. Matesa said Solana supported Croatia's plan for the peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia, Hina reported. But the NATO official cited by AFP said Solana made a "very firm" warning to the Croatian government not to provoke an exodus of Serbs. -- Daria Sito Sucic LITTLE HEADWAY IN TALKS ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA'S ASSETS. The latest round of talks on the division of the former Yugoslavia's assets and debts began behind closed doors in Brussels on 14 October, but made little or no headway, Nasa Borba reported on 16 October. In a related development, the Bosnian Serb leadership launched a protest on 14 October complaining about being excluded from the discussions, SRNA reported. Momcilo Krajisnik, Serb representative in the Bosnian collective presidency, said "Muslim representatives" were not empowered to speak for all parties in Bosnia, AFP reported. -- Stan Markotich MORE WARRANTS ISSUED FOR SUSPECTED KOSOVAR TERRORISTS. The state prosecutor's office has issued 12 more arrest warrants for suspected members of the mysterious Kosovo Liberation Army, international agencies reported. The ethnic Albanians are suspected of committing a number of bomb attacks earlier this year. Three suspects have been arrested recently. Meanwhile, Kosovar shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi called on Germany to ensure "the rights and dignity of ... Albanians [to be expelled to Kosovo from Germany] be respected," AFP reported. Shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova has called for international supervision of the refugees' return. The Serbian paper Jedinstvo, meanwhile, alleged that Albanian terrorists, trained by separatist organizations abroad, would infiltrate Kosovo during the refugee return. The paper demanded detailed identity checks and selective repatriation "in order to prevent our country admitting ... enemies." -- Fabian Schmidt ANTI-SEMITIC TONES IN THE ROMANIAN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN. Anti-Semitic leaflets targeting Social Democratic Union (USD) presidential candidate Petre Roman were discovered at the USD head office in Timis county, the daily Cronica Romana reported on 16 October. The leaflets call on voters not to allow the country to be led by "a kike." Earlier, graffiti urging voters not to cast their ballot for a "first non-Romanian president" were reported from Brasov. Roman, who is partly of Jewish descent and is the son of a former communist official, was also obliquely attacked by the director of the electoral campaign of the ruling Party of Social Democracy (PDSR) in Romania, Ovidiu Sincai, the daily Adevarul reported. He accused the candidate's father, Valter Roman, of having intended to set up an independent state in Transylvania. This falls in line with allegations that Roman represents "Judeo-Communism," often aired by formations such as the Greater Romania Party. The pro-opposition dailies Ziua and Romania libera recently attacked U.S. Ambassador Alfred Moses, accusing him of supporting the PDSR in exchange for legislation providing for restitution of Jewish property confiscated by Romania's fascist and communist regimes. -- Michael Shafir OSCE REPRESENTATIVES NOT ALLOWED TO CHECK ARMS IN DNIESTER REGION. Dniester and Russian representatives in the Joint Control Commission, the Russian-sponsored peacekeeping body in Moldova, did not allow an OSCE visit to alleged military sites in the Dniester region, BASA-Press reported on 15 October. The OSCE mission wanted to visit the fortress of Tighina and the Pribor factory in the same city. Officials from Moldova claim the fortress is supplied with Grad jet-rocket equipment produced in the factory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 October 1996). -- Zsolt Mato RUMORS ABOUT BULGARIAN COALITION GOVERNMENT INTENSIFY. Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) spokeswoman Klara Marinova and deputy faction leader Stefan Gaytandzhiev said on 15 October that the party wants to form a coalition government after the presidential elections, Standart reported. The daily said that both a party coalition and a government of experts seem possible, but added that participation by the opposition in a government including Prime Minister Zhan Videnov seems out of the question. According to Novinar, the BSP's Nikola Koychev, chairman of parliament's Economics Commission, has already been chosen as future prime minister of a broad coalition government. The daily said the coalition will be formed after the Union of Democratic Forces wins a no- confidence vote in Videnov with the support of several BSP deputies. -- Stefan Krause PROTESTERS DEMAND BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION. Between 5,000 and 20,000 people rallied in Sofia on 15 October and demanded the government's resignation, international and national media reported. The meeting was organized by the two major trade unions in the country, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions and the Confederation of Labor-Podkrepa, and was joined by students. Protesters lit bonfires and burned electricity and telephone bills to protest the government's economic policy. Others shouted "resignation" and "red garbage" in front of the government building. Podkrepa leader Konstantin Trenchev urged opposition deputies to boycott parliament after the 27 October presidential elections and all Bulgarians to depose the government "by force if necessary." -- Maria Koinova ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ACCUSED IN $5 MILLION SCANDAL. About $5 million given by two state-owned banks to the Albanian Defense Ministry trading company MEICO has dissapeared, Koha Jone reported on 15 October. According to the paper, Defense Minister Safet Zhulali agreed to give the former premises of the Military Studies Institute to the banks as compensation. MEICO failed to return one-year credits of $3 million from the Albanian Savings Bank and $2 million from the National Bank it received in 1993. In a meeting with Zhulali, Finance Minister Ridvan Bode, and National Bank Governor Kristaq Luniku, Albanian President Sali Berisha insisted on a quick resolution of the scandal, before local elections on 20 October. -- Dukagjin Gorani [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Tom Warner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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