|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 202, Part II, 17 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 LAWMAKERS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. Two Socialist deputies were on hunger strike for the fourth day, refusing to leave the parliament building in Kyiv until the body's leadership reviews their demands of raising public-sector wages and pensions, Radio Ukraine reported on 16 October. Natalia Vitrenko and Volodymyr Marchenko, the outspoken leaders of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, accused the parliament's leaders of violating their rights as legislators by ignoring their proposals to amend the law on wages and pensions, pay off wage arrears, and amend the tax code. They also claim the economic program approved by the legislature on 15 October is unconstitutional and violates social and labor laws. Meanwhile, the parliament approved a slight increase in the official poverty line to 70.9 hryvnyas ($40) monthly effective 1 January. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk told lawmakers that raising the level any higher could increase inflation. -- Chrystyna Lapychak NEW CRIMEAN SPEAKER PAYS FIRST VISIT TO KYIV. In his first consultations with Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv since his recent appointment as Crimean parliamentary speaker, Vasyl Kyselyov discussed the draft Crimean Constitution, the regional budget, taxes, and the ongoing resettlement of previously deported ethnic groups in the region, Radio Ukraine reported on 16 October. Kyselyov, who met with President Leonid Kuchma, Parliamentary Speaker Oleksander Moroz, and Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, agreed to encourage his assembly to take constructive steps toward a resolution of conflicts over these issues between Kyiv and Simferopol. In other news, the Crimean government switched the region one hour back from Moscow to Kyiv time and ordered all transport and businesses to change their schedules to the new time immediately. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the Barvikha sanatorium outside of Moscow on 16 October, international agencies reported. Lukashenka said the purpose of the visit was to boost the integration process, which had begun to decline. He said he did not come as a president, but as the chairman of the Russian-Belarusian Community. NTV said the real reason behind the visit was Lukashenka's desire to appear to have Moscow's backing in the run-up to the constitutional referendum in Belarus. Lukashenka also met with Patriarch Aleksii II and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. He admonished the Russian press for misreporting on the situation in Belarus, and assured journalists that the remaining nuclear missiles in Belarus would be removed to Russia by the end of the year. He also denied that he was blackmailing the West with the weapons. -- Ustina Markus RALLIES, ARRESTS IN BELARUS. Ten miners' union leaders were arrested in Belarus when they began a protest march from Saliyorsk to Minsk because of poor work conditions and low wages, RFE/RL reported on 16 October. The miners meant to walk more than 100 kilometers to Minsk and participate in a rally against President Lukashenka's proposed constitutional referendum. Parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky said he was concerned about the possibility of violence on 19 October, the day Lukashenka's new constitution is to be debated by a 5,000-member "All Belarusian Congress." The opposition is planning to stage a massive protest demonstration the same day. Deputy parliamentary speaker Yuryi Malumau tendered his resignation on 15 October, Belapan reported, citing fears of unrest because of parliament's failure to compromise with Lukashenka. In other news, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October that the Communist Party -- one of Belarus's largest parties -- had split into factions under Viktar Chikin, who supports the president, and Syarhei Kalyakin, allied to parties that oppose the president. -- Ustina Markus LATVIA PROTESTS RUSSIAN WAR SHIPS OFF ITS SHORE. The Latvian Foreign Ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Rannikh to Riga on 16 October to express concern about the anchoring of three Russian warships in Latvia's exclusive economic zone, BNS reported. Although ships are not banned from entering such territories and informing the country involved is not compulsory, Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins said that doing so would help create greater stability between the two countries. The ships were the recently built nuclear- powered cruiser Peter the Great, an anti-submarine ship, and a tug boat, and were on their way from St. Petersburg to the naval base in Kaliningrad. Later that day, a Swedish Viggen jet crashed into the sea while carrying out radar reconnaissance over the ships. -- Saulius Girnius COMMISSION STRENGTHENS POLISH PRESIDENT'S VETO. The Sejm will in the future need a two-thirds majority to overrule a presidential veto, rather than an absolute majority, the parliament's Constitutional Commission decided on 16 October, Polish media reported. Kazimierz Janik, a deputy from the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance and undersecretary in President Aleksander Kwasniewski's chancellery, moved for the amendment to the commission's draft constitution, arguing it was necessary if the president's veto is to have any practical meaning. The weaker presidential veto was decided when Kwasniewski presided over the commission and Lech Walesa was president. Majorities of both the governing coalition's and opposition's members on the commission voted for the change. -- Jakub Karpinski CIVIL SERVICE COUNCIL CREATED IN POLAND. Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz appointed 24 politicians, civil servants, and academics on 16 October to form a new Civil Service Council, Polish media reported. Opposition politicians complained that the majority of politicians appointed are from the ruling coalition. Government Office Chief Leszek Miller rejected the accusations and said the council will be above politics. The recently adopted law on civil service proclaims the body's apolitical character. The council will pronounce opinions on civil servants' professional ethics and advise on the criteria for their evaluation and promotion. The prime minister will soon appoint the civil service chief who the laws says should be apolitical; however, in the first years after the law's adoption the chief may be appointed from among political party members. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH GOVERNMENT WILL HELP SMALL BANKS. The Czech government agreed on 16 October to set up a state company that will buy bad loans from small banks. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists the creation of the company is not a temporary solution to the problems faced by small banks; the company is to function from five to seven years. Klaus said the banks will not be forced to sell bad debts to the company; the relationship will be voluntary. He said the program is designed to stabilize small banks, which the government hopes will be able to buy back their loans when they recover. Ten small banks have collapsed in the last three years. -- Jiri Pehe HUNGARY'S FREE DEMOCRATS THREATEN TO QUIT COALITION. Ivan Peto, leader of the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) said on 16 October that unless there is a major improvement in the functioning of the coalition, its dissolution should be raised at his party's November convention, Hungarian dailies reported. The coalition crisis stems from the recent privatization scandal; also, the SZDSZ resented Socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn's announcement, without prior consultation, of his candidates for two new ministers to replace the recently sacked privatization minister. Meanwhile, opposition Smallholders chairman Jozsef Torgyan asked Horn to call a vote of confidence on himself and his cabinet. In other news, ongoing investigation of the scandal revealed that the former chief executive officer of the state privatization agency stopped an internal investigation into the affair in May, on orders of Imre Szokai, then chairman of the agency's board. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN SARAJEVO. Theodoros Pangalos announced in Sarajevo on 16 October that Greece will open an embassy in the Bosnian capital this month and pledged $7 million in aid to Bosnian reconstruction programs, international media reported. During the visit, Pangalos met with Bosnian Presidency Chairman Alija Izetbegovic, Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, and Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic. Greece, which has traditionally close ties with the Serbs and during the war in Bosnia had almost no contacts with the Bosnian government, will in the future meet only with representatives of the republican government, Pangalos announced, saying that meetings with Bosnian Serb representatives "will not be necessary in the future." Pangalos will also visit Zagreb and Belgrade for talks with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He will brief Athens' partners in the European Union and the United States about his talks. -- Stefan Krause BOSNIAN SERB CHILDREN WOUNDED IN SHOOTING. Two Bosnian Serb children were shot while riding on a bus on the road between Ugljevik and Priboj on 15 October, AFP reported. They were sent home after treatment. On the same section of road in northeast Bosnia, a bullet also hit a Republika Srpska police car, but it was not clear if anyone was injured. The area is very near the inter-entity border and in a region where tensions are high as Muslims try to return to their homes now under Serb control. UN police are investigating the incident. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Bosnian officials said the three-man presidency will finally meet next week, Oslobodjenje reported on 17 October. The time and the crucial issue of place have yet to be determined, however. -- Patrick Moore OSCE DEFENDS POSITION ON ELECTION FOLLOW-UP IN BOSNIA. Franz Egle, a spokesman for OSCE President Flavio Cotti, said the organization was fulfilling its obligations in Bosnia "100%," AFP reported. He was responding to Carl Bildt, the international community's high representative for Bosnia, who disputed a recent OSCE decision that it had neither the mandate nor the structures to install elected officials (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 October 1996). According to Egle, the OSCE's mandate is to oversee the preparation and holding of elections, and if the agency is to do anything else, its mandate should be changed. Egle added that Cotti believes local elections should be held in the spring instead of November, as currently scheduled. Robert Frowick, the head of the OSCE's mission in Bosnia, is expected to make a final decision this week. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN OPPOSITION WALKS OUT OF PARLIAMENT. Some 40 opposition deputies walked out of the Sabor on 16 October to protest the lack of media coverage. They want parliament debates to be broadcast live on television and radio, arguing that the state-run electronic media have cut them off from all direct contact with the public, Vecernji list reported. The opposition particularly want voters to hear current discussions on key financial issues, including one on state reserves of commodities. The press recently uncovered a scandal involving officials from the governing party withholding reserves of wheat from the market. This considerably forced up prices in a country where at least one-fifth of the population lives below the poverty level and most of the rest have difficulty making ends meet. Novi List wrote on 17 October that one Croatian citizen in four goes hungry. -- Patrick Moore YUGOSLAV ARMY CHIEF TRIED IN ABSENTIA IN CROATIA. A Croatian court was to begin the trial in absentia on 17 October of Momcilo Perisic, the current head of the federal Yugoslav army, for the bombardment of the Adriatic port of Zadar, Novi List reported. The Zadar regional tribunal will try Perisic and 18 other former Yugoslav army officers on war- crimes charges for allegedly ordering artillery attacks on the town in which 30 civilians were killed and dozens injured. Zagreb opposition figures and diplomats speculate that the trial could be the result of a deal between Zagreb and Belgrade, to help distance Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from military officials he was previously close to, AFP reported on 16 October. Stipe Mesic, president of the Croatian Independent Democrats, said the trial could be "a present" from Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to Milosevic ahead of elections in Serbia and Montenegro. In other news, a group of 53 refugees is to return to Croatia from Serbia under the auspices of the UN high commissioner for refugees, Politika and AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA, ITALY AGREE ON MINORITY PROTECTION. Croatian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic and his Italian counterpart Piero Fassimo agreed on 16 October to sign an agreement on minority rights next month, Croatian media reported. Fassimo said he hopes that after the agreement is signed, the Croatian government will pass a bill on bilingual education, Novi List reported on 17 October. Fassimo also took part in an Italian delegation's talks in Zagreb on the strengthening and promotion of political relations between the two countries and on Italian investments in Croatia. A joint business commission on 17 October is to draw up contracts on avoiding double taxation and on stimulating investments in the fields of tourism, energy supplies, and fishery, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER FACES NEW CRIMINAL CHARGES. Belgrade prosecutor Svetozar Vujacic has filed criminal charges against the leader of the Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, Radio B92 reported on 15 November. According to Vujacic, Djindjic had slurred Slobodan Milosevic while addressing a crowd of about 6,000 during a 10 October election campaign rally in Vranje, calling the Serbian President a "sick man." Vujacic charged Djindjic with insulting the president and defaming Serbia's reputation. On 20 September, Djindjic received a four-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of libeling Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic in an advertisement placed in Nedeljni Telegraf (See OMRI Daily Digest, 23 September 1996). -- Stan Markotich. ROMANIA GETS WESTERN LOANS. A group of European banks will loan $175 million to Romania, RFE/RL and Romanian television reported on 16 October. The loan agreement, signed in London by Romanian National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, calls for the loans to be repaid over three years. Isarescu said the loan is aimed at helping Romania pay its $7 billion foreign debt while keeping foreign-currency reserves at a high enough level to maintain imports. In 1996, Romania has received over $1.4 billion in foreign aid and loans. In other news, RFE/RL reported that oil giants Shell and Agip are criticizing Romania's privatization policy. In an open letter to the newly founded oil company ROC, which has a legal monopoly on distribution in Romania, the two foreign companies assert discriminatory practices affecting private investors and warn that they could jeopardize future investments. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIA, RUSSIA, DISCUSS STRENGTHENING MILITARY TIES. In meetings with top Bulgarian officials on 15-16 October, Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov, chief of Russia's General Staff, discussed the possibility of closer ties in the fields of military and technological cooperation, including the possibility of joint manufacture of military hardware, ITAR-TASS and Bulgarian media reported. Kolesnikov met with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, President Zhelyu Zhelev, and Parliament Speaker Blagovest Sendov. Before the talks, Kolesnikov said that "no spectacular results should be expected" from his visit. Kolesnikov said Bulgaria will receive spare parts for its military planes worth $48 million by the end of the year as partial payment of Moscow's $100 million debt to Bulgaria. Russian Duma Deputy Chairman Mikhail Yuryev, heading a separate delegation in Sofia, told Zhelev that Russia will repay the debt by the end of 1996. A Bulgarian official said Zhelev and Kolesnikov had not discussed Bulgaria's potential inclusion in NATO, which Zhelev favors. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST SUSPECTED TERRORISTS. Police arrested 14 people on 15-16 October suspected of committing 26 crimes, including the murder of General Prison Director Bujar Kaloshi and a bomb attack on a Tirana supermarket in February, in which four people died and 27 were injured. Interior Minister Halit Shamata also charged them with planing to assassinate President Sali Berisha by blasting a bridge, Dita Informacion reported on 17 October. The group was allegedly led by three sons of communist-era secret police chief Hajredin Shyti -- Orik, Roland, and Leart -- and called itself "Revenge of Justice," AFP reported. Hajredin Shyti was sentenced in December 1992 to 17 years in prison in connection with the killings of pro-democracy protesters in 1991. Police also seized a machine gun, several hand and anti-tank grenades, pistols, and mines. The police action came days before 20 October local elections, and followed pro-government media reports suggesting that the orders for the terrorist acts were given by members of the communist nomenclature currently imprisoned in Tepelena -- where Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano is serving a prison term. Among those arrested was Klement Koloneci, the son-in-law of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha. -- Fabian Schmidt ODIHR PULLS OUT OF ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced on 16 October that it will not send observers to Albania's local elections, AFP reported. The Foreign Ministry had granted only 15 of the ODIHR's requested 37 accreditations. The ODIHR said the number of observers attending an election "is not a matter for negotiation with the host government," adding that otherwise it "could not mount a viable observation effort." Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu said the lower number of observers approved by the ministry "does not mean we are opposed to ODIHR taking part in the monitoring of the elections," but admitted there was a "crisis of confidence." The ODIHR issued a highly critical report after parliamentary elections on 26 May. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, the U.S., and Italy will be sending observers. -- 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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