|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 209, Part II, 29 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 APPOINTS NEW NAVAL COMMANDER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 28 October appointed Rear Admiral Mykhailo Yezhel as commander of Ukraine's navy and deputy Defense Minister, and Rear Admiral Viktor Fomin as first deputy navy commander, UNIAN reported. Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk denied that former navy commander Volodymyr Bezkorovainy was being cast off politically. He said Bezkorovainy was offered the job of defense minister's aide in charge of Black Sea Fleet talks. Russian Public Television reported Kuchma denied the command changes were a concession to Russia. He also confirmed that the lease offered to the Russian Black Sea Fleet for Sevastopol would be long enough to enable Moscow to build a new base over that period. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the term of the lease would be 20 years. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE VOWS TO SHUT DOWN ONE OF THE CHORNOBYL REACTORS. Reactor No. 1 will be stopped completely on 30 November, international news agencies reported on 28 October. Ukraine had promised to close the reactor in November, but Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Yurii Kostenko said two weeks ago that stopping it as planned could generate problems. The decision is in line with the schedule, according to which Kyiv has agreed to shut down Chornobyl by 2000 in return for $3 billion in grants and funding from the Group of Seven. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is expected to grant money to build two reactors in western Ukraine to replace electricity lost by Chornobyl's closure. The United States would give $27 million to strengthen the concrete sarcophagus over Reactor No. 4, that was destroyed in 1986, Kostenko said. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev BELARUSIAN NEWS. In a published appeal to the people, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka insisted he would hold his constitutional referendum, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. The same day, he signed a decree on preparations for the referendum. The previous day, the Foreign Ministry announced it was unhappy with the European Parliament's resolution on the situation in Belarus. The European Parliament found the country's regime to be authoritarian. Belarus's Foreign Ministry responded that the country had been a "pioneer" in nuclear disarmament, and the European parliament's resolution was "incorrect, out of place, and regrettable." The resolution will hinder ratification of an agreement on partnership and cooperation between Belarus and the Council of Europe and also implementation of a trade accord. -- Ustina Markus RUSSIAN STRATEGIC TROOPS ARE TO LEAVE BELARUS BY 1997. Belarusian Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu denied any breach of accord on withdrawal of remaining Russian strategic troops, Belapan reported on 29 October. There are currently 18 ICBM Topol (SS-25) mobile systems with 18 warheads left on Belarusian territory. He said that under the agreement the troops were to leave by 31 December 1996, although several issues remain before the troops can leave. Meanwhile, an army truck crashed into a ditch 80 km east from Minsk on 28 October. Seven conscripts were killed and two were injured by the scattered timber, which the truck was transporting. -- Sergei Solodovnikov ESTONIAN RULING COALITION NOT TO SPLIT. After more than three and half hours of talks on 25 October, leaders of the Coalition Party and the Reform Party decided to continue the government coalition. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi said that the rift had been emotional, and that the decision to keep the coalition was made at the beginning of the meeting; the remaining time was spent on finding a compromise, BNS reported. Reform Party Chairman Siim Kallas said that the coalition's break up would have made it more difficult to reach an agreement with Russia. The two parties, however, have been unable to agree on cooperation in the recently elected Tallinn and Tartu city councils. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES SEIMAS SET NORTHERN SEA BORDER. Algirdas Brazauskas on 25 October submitted to the parliament for "immediate discussion" a draft law unilaterally setting the sea border with Latvia, Radio Lithuania reported. His action was prompted by the Latvian parliament's ratification the previous day of an oil exploration license with two oil companies in sea territory claimed by both countries. The Seimas is expected to adopt the law at its next session on 5 November. The law will be in effect until a bilateral treaty on sea borders with Latvia is signed. -- Saulius Girnius CZECH PREMIER'S HOLIDAY SPEECH PROMPTS CRITICISM. Vaclav Klaus's speech made on October 28--commemorating the 78th anniversary of the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia--was criticized by Social Democratic party leader Milos Zeman as "preelection propaganda," Czech media reported. Klaus said mistakes were made during the reform process, but that there is no reason for the country to be swept by "a wave of negativism." Klaus warned against populist promises that, in his opinion, are being made by the opposition. Zeman said Klaus had "abused his post" to make a preelection speech. He said it is "disgusting" that Klaus used for his speech the holiday of the founding of the very same state "he helped to destroy." -- Jiri Pehe CONGRESS OF HUNGARIAN CIVIC PARTY IN SLOVAKIA. Laszlo Nagy was reelected chairman of the Hungarian Civic Party (MOS) at its congress, held on 27 October, Slovak press reported. The MOS is a member of the coalition of ethnic Hungarian parties in the Slovak parliament. Nagy told the congress that the government of Vladimir Meciar has introduced a parliamentary dictatorship in Slovakia, the daily SME reported. Nagy said that the southern part of Slovakia, where most Hungarians live, is a disaster compared to the other parts of the country. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARY'S RADICAL RIGHT-WING HOLDS DEMONSTRATION IN BUDAPEST. Tens of thousands of demonstrators called for radical moves and unity among "national" forces at an anti-government rally outside parliament on 27 October, Hungarian media reported. The rally was organized by the far- right extra-parliamentary Hungarian Justice and Life Party. The crowd called for the resignation of top government politicians. Several foreigners were invited as guest speakers, among them Jean-Marie Le Pen, president of France's far-right National Front. Le Pen firmly rejected the idea of European unity. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO TO TRY TO COUNTER BOSNIAN BOMBINGS, ARSON. IFOR commander Adm. Joseph Lopez met on 26 October with the Bosnian Serb member of the collective presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik. On 28 October, Lopez also spoke to the Croatian representative Kresimir Zubak and with the Muslim Alija Izetbegovic, news agencies reported. The purpose of the discussions was to end a recent spate of attacks on buildings, which are apparently aimed at intimidating refugees from returning to areas from which they have been "ethnically cleansed." At issue especially were the systematic blasting of more than 90 Muslim homes and two mosques near Serb-held Prijedor, as well as the torching of 65 Serbian houses in Croat-held Drvar. The Dayton agreement guarantees refugees the right to go home, and since August, groups of Muslims have been trying to return to their villages just inside the Serbian side of the inter-entity frontier in northeast Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore HAGUE BOSNIAN TRIBUNAL UNDER A CLOUD? Dusan Tadic, a Bosnian Serb on trial in The Hague for war crimes, denied that he was ever in two of the three concentration camps where he is accused of abusing and murdering Muslim or Croatian prisoners, the VOA reported on 28 October. The case of Tadic was weakened considerably on 25 October when the judge told the tribunal to disregard testimony from the Serb who had been the main witness against the indicted man. Dragan Opacic admitted that he had been forced into taking the stand against Tadic by the Bosnian authorities, who coached him daily on how to testify. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN UPDATE. IFOR opened a rebuilt railway bridge at Bosansko Petrovo Selo near Doboj on 28 October to reconnect Bosnian lines with Western Europe, the VOA reported. It is now possible to travel by train from Zagreb to Belgrade, too, Onasa added. Meanwhile at Ploce on the Adriatic, the U.S. ship bringing arms for the Bosnian army has left its moorings and headed out to sea to await further instructions from Washington, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje wrote on 28 October. The Americans are making delivery contingent on the sacking of a top Bosnian Muslim commander, whom Washington feels is the main obstacle to integrating the Muslim and Croat armies (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 October 1996). -- Patrick Moore SERBS THREATEN TO BAN FEDERATION PARTIES FROM MUNICIPAL POLLS. Dragan Kalinic, head of the Bosnian Serb parliament, threatened on 26 October to ban parties from the Muslim-Croat Federation from taking part in municipal elections in the Republika Srpska (RS), AFP quoted BETA reports. Kalinic said the Federation parties must be registered according to the RS laws defining the rights of national minorities, which include Muslims and Croats. Kalinic criticized the new electoral registration rules for the municipal elections, saying they disqualify over 300,000 Serbs living abroad or in Serbia-Montenegro as refugees. The OSCE recently announced that refugees could no longer register to vote in places they "intended" to live, owing mainly to the Bosnian Serb registration manipulations during Bosnia's general elections. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERBS ACCUSED OF INTIMIDATING INDEPENDENT MEDIA. The OSCE has started an investigation into Bosnian Serb authorities' intimidating the independent media in the Republika Srpska, AFP reported on 28 October. Several independent papers have stopped publishing after being denied access to the Glas Srpski printing house controlled by the ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). Two reporters of the weekly Alternativa are being sued by senior SDS journalists over an article that linked the two men to attempts during recent elections to prevent meeting of opposition parties. OMRI reported Alternativa's editor was told that the Glas Srpski's printing ban was for publishing a protest to a similar ban imposed on the only independent daily, Nezavisne Novine. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN OPPOSITION OFFICIALS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE. Three members of the Zajedno or Together coalition (consisting of the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, the Democratic party of Serbia, and the Serbian Civic League) competing in the upcoming 3 November elections staged a hunger strike and demanded that they be permitted to monitor election returns, Belgrade's Radio B 92 reported on 28 October. One of the protesters vowed that "we will stay until our demands are met, or until the police [forcibly] evict us." The three reportedly locked themselves in at election headquarters in Nis in order to protest a decision by the ruling authorities barring them from monitoring returns. Earlier, on 25 October, the coalition said it might boycott the elections if independent monitors were not allowed to observe on polling day. -- Stan Markotich BELGRADE TRANSIT WORKERS STRIKE. Bus and tram drivers in Belgrade nearly halted commuter traffic in that city on the morning of 28 October before the transit authorities could muster more vehicles, local and international media reported. Slobodan Vucenovic, a local dispatcher told Reuters "there [were] only 483 vehicles on the street...out of 1,009 scheduled." Two of six transport unions staged the strike, demanding unpaid back wages. -- Stan Markotich POLICE ARRESTS 30 KOSOVO ALBANIANS AFTER KILLING OF TWO SERBS. Serbian police arrested 30 ethnic Albanians in Surkis near Podujevo after a police officer and a civil servant were killed there in an ambush with automatic weapons on 25 October, Reuters reported. Funerals for the victims were held on 27 October in Surkis and Velika Reka with a heavy Serbian police presence, AFP reported. Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Nikola Sainovic and Serbian Interior Minister Zoran Sokolovic visited representatives of the Serb community in Podujevo the previous evening. Sokolovic promised that a police intervention unit be stationed in the town, and said he would ask the federal government to set up a Yugoslav army garrison in Podujevo. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIA BURIES WW2 FASCISTS AND COMMUNISTS TOGETHER. Croatian authorities on 27 October in the Adriatic town of Omis reburied together the bodies of World War II fascist soldiers and the remains of communist partisans they had fought, AFP reported. Of 112 bodies, 104 were remains of soldiers from marionette fascist Independent State of Croatia, six were former Ustashi troops--equivalent of the Nazi SS--and two were the bodies of partisans. Vice Vukojevic of the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) said the ceremony was "a symbol of the reconciliation of the Croat people," AFP quoted him as saying. Jewish communities in Croatia and abroad and former partisans protested the ceremony. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUSSIA WANTS LARGE CUT IN MACEDONIAN PEACE KEEPING. Russia's UN representative Sergei Lavrov on 28 October stated in Skopje that "Russia believes the [UNPREDEP] mandate should stay the same but with a major reduction in troops," AFP reported. Lavrov met with President Kiro Gligorov and Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski. The mandate of the 1,100 troops runs out on 30 November, but Skopje has asked for an extension because of the weakness of its own army. Meanwhile, the defense ministry said it will buy arms for $200 million over the next five years. NATO had asked that the weapons comply with Western standards but Skopje made it clear that Macedonia was under no obligation to buy Western-made weapons. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS SENTENCED FOR LIBEL. A Bucharest court sentenced two journalists on 25 October for "offending the authorities," Romanian media reported. Sorin Rosca Stanescu, editor of the daily Ziua and Tana Ardeleanu, a Ziua reporter, were handed down prison sentences of one year and 14 months respectively for a series of articles suggesting that President Ion Iliescu had been recruited by the KGB in his youth. The prosecution requested a minimum 6-month suspended sentence, but the court ignored the request and also banned the two to work as journalists in the future. The journalists will appeal the decision. The timing of the verdict--just one week before general and presidential elections-- has been interpreted by the independent media as a warning addressed to journalists criticizing Iliescu. -- Zsolt Mato SNEGUR URGES RUSSIA TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM MOLDOVA. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 25 October told journalists in Moscow that, if he is reelected, he would insist that Russian troops be withdrawn from eastern Moldova by late 1997, Infotag reported on 28 October. Snegur made the statement after meeting Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin during a Black Sea Economic Cooperation summit. He further reiterated earlier statements that Moldova, whose constitution provides for neutrality, does not plan to join any military alliance, including NATO. -- Dan Ionescu UNITED OPPOSITION CANDIDATES WIN FIRST ROUND OF BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ... Petar Stoyanov and his running mate, Todor Kavaldzhiev received 44.09% of the vote in the first round of the Bulgarian presidential elections on 27 October, 24 chasa reported, based on preliminary figures released by the Central Electoral Commission. The candidates of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Culture Minister Ivan Marazov and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, trailed with 26.98%, followed by Bulgarian Business Bloc leader Georges Ganchev and Arlin Antonov with 21.86%. Aleksandar Tomov and Gen. Lyudmil Marinchevski received 3.18%, and the comedians Hristo Boychev and Ivan Kulekov, 1.34%. Other candidates received less than 1 percentage point. Voter turnout was 62.7%, or 12-15 points less than at the previous presidential and parliamentary elections. A runoff between the top two will take place on 3 November. -- Stefan Krause in Sofia ...CASTING DOUBTS ON PRIME MINISTER'S FUTURE. Meanwhile, Marazov's and Bokova's poor showing prompted speculation about the future of Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov. During a BSP plenary meeting on 28 October, leading BSP members demanded Videnov resign as premier and party leader, Kontinent and Standart reported. Sociologist Andrey Raychev, a leading member of the Alliance for a Social Democracy, the most important reformist faction within the BSP, did not rule out a party split. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov, Ganchev, and the leader of the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, Ahmed Dogan, ruled out a coalition with the BSP in the present parliament, in which the BSP holds an outright majority. Meanwhile, Ganchev's driver was killed and his bodyguard seriously injured in a road accident on 28 October. Ganchev, who was not in the car, said the crash "was not an accident." -- Stefan Krause in Sofia ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS CLAIM VICTORY IN LOCAL ELECTION SECOND ROUND. Foreign Minister and party leader Tritan Shehu said the Democrats won 21 out of 22 town halls and 73 out of 96 communes in the second round of local elections on 27 October. That would give the Democrats 90.6% of town halls and 86.7% of communes all over the country. The opposition Socialists reportedly gained only 6.25% of the city halls and 4.5% of the communes, down from 51% and 59.8% respectively in 1992, Reuters reported. Official results are expected later. Council of Europe observers said they noted "serious deficiencies" in the second round "caused by individual errors and ... the consequence of certain traditions," AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Valentina Huber ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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