|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 203, Part II, 18 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 ADOPTS LAW ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The Ukrainian legislature finally approved a law on the Constitutional Court on 16 October, UNIAN and Ukrainian Radio reported. The next day, President Leonid Kuchma signed it. While deputies failed to elect the final two justices to the 18-member panel, they did reach agreement over the disputed Article 13, which states that the court has the exclusive right to officially interpret the new constitution and legislation adopted by parliament, president, government, or Crimean authorities. Meanwhile, thousands gathered in Kyiv and other cities to take part in rallies organized by the Federation of Trade Unions, Ukrainian and international agencies reported. The protesters demanded that the government pay off its huge wage debt by 1 January, They also complained about mass hidden unemployment, which is not reflected in the official 0.9% rate. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE'S RESPONSE TO DUMA'S VOTE ON BLACK SEA FLEET. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has criticized the Russian State Duma's vote to pass a law on halting the division of the Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian Radio reported on 17 October. Deputy Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko said the ministry cannot help but be concerned over the Duma's territorial claims on Ukraine, even if the Russian government distanced itself from the Duma's position. He demanded an official explanation from Russia. AFP reported Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk as saying the Duma law will not improve Russian-Ukrainian relations. He noted that Ukraine and Russia have reached a compromise allowing Russia temporary use of the Sevastopol base because, he said, Ukraine understands that time and money are needed to build a new base in Russia. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM UPDATE. Some 1,000 representatives of opposition parties are meeting in Minsk today at a National Congress intended to compete with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's All Belarusian Congress, Belarusian media reported. The National Congress will set up a tribunal to examine all illegal acts by the president, his administration, and his so-called "vertical structures." The All Belarusian Congress is to convene on 19 October to debate Lukashenka's draft of a new constitution; some 5,000 delegates are expected. Reuters reported U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns as calling on Lukashenka to begin talks with the parliament. Meanwhile, President Boris Yeltsin noted that the exacerbation of the political situation in Belarus does not conform with Russia's long-term strategic interests, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported on 17 October. Lukashenka is currently in Russia for talks with his Russian counterpart. -- Ustina Markus and Sergei Solodovnikov ESTONIAN OPPOSITION SEEKS EARLY ELECTIONS. Leaders of the Pro Patria Union, the Right-Wingers, and the Moderates have called for early elections following the defeat of their motion to reject the draft budget, BNS reported on 17 October. They argued that the ruling coalition was acting as if it were about to collapse. Interior Minister Mart Rask of the Reform Party threatened to resign if more money was not allocated to his ministry, while Foreign Minister Siim Kallas claimed that Prime Minister Tiit Vahi was demonstrating "Soviet-style behavior and nervousness." The ruling coalition rejected holding early elections, saying tension within the government was primarily due to the upcoming local elections. -- Saulius Girnius UPDATE ON LATVIAN-LITHUANIAN BORDER DISPUTE. Lithuanian Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius on 17 October said he was still awaiting a reply from his Latvian counterpart, Andris Skele, on his proposal that the two countries should hold trilateral talks with the AMOCO and OPAB oil companies on possible oil exploration, BNS reported. He also noted that he would support the recent suggestion by G-24 ambassadors that third- party experts help determine the sea border. Latvian border delegation head Maris Riekstins, however, said Latvia would not agree to hold trilateral talks, noting that its earlier discussions with AMOCO had taken four years to complete. Meanwhile, Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas on 17 October told the European Parliament's foreign and security committee that it should consider the cost of not granting EU and NATO membership to Lithuania rather than the cost of doing so, Radio Lithuania reported. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT LANGUAGE LAW. The Polish government's socio-economic committee on 16 October approved a draft language law drawn up by the Culture Ministry, Polish dailies reported. The law stipulates that labels on commodities and shop signs be in Polish. The Culture Ministry, in consultation with the Polish Language Council, will impose penalties for infringements of the law. The government's legislative committee must now approve the draft before the cabinet decides whether to send it to the parliament. The bill is intended to replace a 1945 decree saying that Polish is the state language. Language experts have criticized English and German influences on the Polish language, which, they point out, are most evident on shop signs. -- Jakub Karpinski CONTROVERSY OVER 1949 POLISH-SWISS ACCORD. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to investigate allegations by U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato that Poland made a secret deal with Switzerland in 1949 allowing it to seize bank accounts of Polish citizens, mainly Jews, to compensate Swiss citizens for property confiscated by the Polish communist regime, international media reported on 18 October. A ministry spokesman confirmed the existence of an agreement on Polish citizens' assets deposited in Swiss banks, but he did not reveal its content. The Swiss Foreign Affairs Ministry denied there had been a secret Polish-Swiss deal on Jewish property. PAP reported that the only relevant document, which D'Amato has obtained, is the U.S. government's demarche protesting the Swiss parliament's decision to return to Poland the property of Polish citizens who died without any heirs. -- Beata Pasek WHO WILL COMPETE IN CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS? Czech media on 18 October reported that 569 candidates have made the 16 October deadline for registering to compete in the Senate elections next month. The Central Electoral Commission had disqualified almost 100 candidates for making mistakes in filling out their applications, but the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court both ruled that most of the disqualified candidates can compete. Eight cases still have to be decided. Should those candidates be allowed to run, the ballot in their districts may have to be postponed or the registration deadline moved. The only party that will compete in all 81 districts is Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party. The Communists are fielding 80 candidates and the Social Democrats 79. Only 60 of the 569 candidates are women. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRESIDENT ASKS EU TO OVERLOOK DOMESTIC POLITICAL CONFLICTS. Michal Kovac, during his two-day official visit to Brussels to meet with top EU and NATO representatives, told European Commission President Jacques Santer that internal political disagreements should not be the only factor in evaluating Slovakia's bid for EU membership, Slovak media reported. Kovac pointed to the country's good macroeconomic results, including GDP growth over 7%, inflation under 6%, and a small foreign debt. He also said he thinks the West's view of the situation in Slovakia is broadly correct and objective. Reuters reported him as saying that "the West is criticizing the same things I myself have been criticizing." -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK OPPOSITION ROUNDUP. Representatives of all Slovak opposition parties met on 17 October in an effort to implement democratic changes, Slovak media reported. The parties demanded the dismissal of Agriculture Minister Peter Baco and Culture Minister Ivan Hudec. They also stressed that the no-confidence vote in Education Minister Eva Slavkovska will go ahead as scheduled during the upcoming parliament session and that "democratization" proposals on the secret service, privatization, and the radio and TV boards will be made. The parties said the adjournment of two controversial cases related to the Michal Kovac Jr. kidnapping (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 October 1996) demonstrates that the coalition fears the results of an in-depth investigation. -- Sharon Fisher OFFICIAL SAYS HUNGARIAN POLITICS NEED CLEANSING. Peter Hack, deputy caucus leader of the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), has said that it is necessary to "internally cleanse" the party, just as it is necessary to cleanse Hungarian politics in general, Magyar Hirlap reported on 18 October. "Unless this happens in time, the political elite could sink into a morass of corruption, and a situation could develop similar to that in Italy in 1990," he added. Meanwhile, the opposition Young Democrats have responded to a letter from Prime Minister Gyula Horn in which he said that interference in the privatization process is unconstitutional. They demanded that the privatization process be suspended and said that if any governing party is implicated in the recent privatization scandal, Hungary's democratic foundations would be shaken. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NEW RULES FOR BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The OSCE's Provisional Election Commission (PEC), convening in Sarajevo on 17 October, decided on registration rules for the 23-24 November local vote. Refugees will be allowed to register to vote only where they lived in 1991 or where they have lived since the end of 1995, Reuters and Oslobodjenje reported. They will no longer be permitted to sign up for a place where they simply say they intend to live. The local elections were postponed last month because of massive fraud in registering refugees to vote in strategic towns where they had never resided. All three sides engaged in the practice, but the fraud was particularly blatant among the Serbs. The Bosnian Serb authorities are expected to protest the new OSCE ruling, PEC spokesmen said. Meanwhile, the Muslim Party of Democratic Action wants the fate of the strategic Serb-held northern town of Brcko to be decided before the local vote, AFP noted. The Dayton agreement left the issue open for international arbitration before 14 December. -- Patrick Moore IFOR GETS TOUGH WITH MUSLIM MILITARY. NATO peacekeepers have placed a republic-wide ban on parades by the mainly Muslim Bosnian army following an unauthorized one in east Mostar, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 October. The targeted corps may not train for a week, nor may any other unit train in the area during that time. The parade ban is of indefinite duration. IFOR stumbled upon the display when it unwittingly took two Turkish officers to the site to participate. Elsewhere, IFOR also protested remarks made at another ceremony by Gen. Atif Dudakovic, Onasa noted on 17 October. The politically active general said that "Dayton allowed for a reunited Bosnia, including Banja Luka and Bijeljina, which will be ours in the next war." He also stated that "children should wave toy guns, not flowers." An IFOR spokesman commented that those remarks were "unhelpful to the peace process." -- Patrick Moore SERBS BULLDOZE FORMER MOSQUE SITE IN BANJA LUKA. Bosnian Serbs have begun bulldozing the site of the Ferhadija mosque in Banja Luka, which was blown up three years ago, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 October. A spokesman for the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia said the act was probably aimed at persuading Muslim deputies in the Serbian parliament not to attend its inaugural assembly, scheduled for 19 October in Banja Luka. The spokesman said that Michael Steiner, High Representative Carl Bildt's deputy, has gone to Banja Luka to demand that work on the site stop and to seek a meeting with Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic. -- Daria Sito Sucic FORMER YUGOSLAV BANK GOVERNOR DEFINITELY OUT OF ELECTION RACE. Rajko Nisavic, head of the federal electoral commission, has confirmed that Dragoslav Avramovic, former governor of the National Bank of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, will not take part in the 3 November elections, Nasa Borba reported on 18 October. Avramov wrote to Nisavic informing him of his decision. The former bank governor has also resigned as head of the electoral opposition list "Zajedno [Together]--Dragoslav Avramovic." Nasa Borba had reported last week that Avramovic would resign owing to "aggravated health conditions." The newspaper also speculated that pressure from the authorities may have been the main reason (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 October 1996). -- Stan Markotich AMNESTIED CROATIAN SERBS RE-ARRESTED. According to Croatia's Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, at least two Serbs recently released from prison under an amnesty law have been re-arrested and charged with war crimes, international agencies reported on 18 October. Committee head Ivan Zvonimir Cicak said his organization fears there are more such cases and is trying to confirm three or four others. But, Serbs who returned to Belgrade say the Croats have re-arrested at least 23 amnestied Serbs who were waiting in a camp for Croatian approval to leave for Belgrade. Those who arrived in Belgrade said they feared for the safety of those still imprisoned in Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA RECEIVES LOAN WORTH 200 MILLION DM. A union of 28 foreign banks from 12 countries has granted Croatia a DM 200 million loan, Hina reported on 17 October. Croatian Finance Minister Bozo Prka said the loan will be used for investment projects and capital expenditures. It will not damage the country's economic stability, he added. Interest on the loan is less than 6% and repayment is over two years. The loan has been described as the "cheapest and largest" granted to Croatia so far. -- Daria Sito Sucic MOLDOVAN ELECTION UPDATE. Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli has denied press reports that he is about to withdraw from the upcoming presidential elections in favor of parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi, Infotag reported on 16 October. Sangheli said he is aware that if President Mircea Snegur wins the November elections, the president will dismiss him as premier. Meanwhile, the number of candidates officially registered with the Central Electoral Commission now stands at eight. Infotag on 17 October reported that Anatol Plugaru, a 45-year-old former minister of national security, and 38-year-old Veronica Abramchuk, who heads the Department for National Relations, have registered as candidates. Abramchuk is a member of the Socialist Party, but both she and Plugaru are running as independents. -- Michael Shafir DID DNIESTER-BASED RUSSIAN TROOPS BACK LEBED? Aleksandr Baranov, deputy commander of the Dniester-based Russian garrison, has denied a Radio Moscow report claiming the garrison sent telegrams of support to Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, BASA-press reported on 17 October. Baranov also refuted that the garrison was on alert. The Radio Moscow report was broadcast only several hours before Lebed was dismissed by President Boris Yeltsin. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO SET UP COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE LUKANOV KILLING. The parliament on 17 October postponed voting on the establishment of a commission to investigate the killing of former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov, Pari reported. Parliamentary Deputy President Nora Ananieva's proposal to form the commission was initially supported by deputies from all factions, but legislators were unable to agree on the lineup of that body. The ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), to which Lukanov had belonged, insisted on an 11-member commission reflecting the strength of the various caucuses. Under that proposal, the BSP would have had six seats. The ruling party rejected the proposal that more seats be distributed among the other parliamentary parties, prompting the opposition to withdraw its support for the motion. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PRIME INTEREST RATE CUT. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) on 17 October cut the monthly prime interest rate from 25% to 20%, international media reported. Less than a month ago, the interest rate was hiked considerably (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1996). Standard commented that the new rate is intended to "trick" the electorate before the 27 October presidential elections. Trud noted that only one day earlier, BNB Governor Lyubomir Filipov had said there were no objective reasons to cut the interest rate. No current BNB official commented on the move, but former Deputy Governor Emil Harsev said this decision will barely affect the economy. However, the Bulgarian media believes that the lev will lose strongly against the U.S. dollar now and that the prices of all goods will go up immediately. -- Maria Koinova MORE OBSERVERS WITHDRAW FROM ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly has withdrawn its 19 monitors for the Albanian elections, following the example of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Reuters reported. The OSCE issued a statement saying that the Albanian authorities' decision not to accept the ODIHR's list of 37 observers is "extremely regrettable [and] unacceptable within internationally accepted observation criteria." According to the OSCE's 1990 Copenhagen Human Dimensions Document, participating states are committed to admit observers from "any other participating states and any appropriate private institutions." The Albanian government has accepted only 15 ODIHR accreditations for the 20 October elections. However, the U.S., Italy, and the Council of Europe will send monitors. -- Fabian Schmidt KOSOVO ALBANIAN ARRESTED IN TIRANA FOR SELLING MARXIST LITERATURE. An Albanian court has sentenced 37-year-old Nusret Recica from Kosovo to 10 months in prison for disseminating "anti-constitutional propaganda," AFP reported on 18 October. Recica was arrested for selling works by Marx, Lenin, and former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha on the streets of Tirana. Marxist writings and those of former Albanian communist leaders have been banned since April 1992. -- Dukagjin Gorani [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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