|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 210, Part II, 30 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: email@example.com *********************************************************************** CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CRIMEA AND THE BLACK SEA FLEET. The Crimean Tatar Majlis (assembly) assessed the Russian State Duma's appeal for Sevastopol of 24 October as a territorial claim on Ukraine, Radio Ukraine reported on 26 October. The Presidium of the Majlis urged President Leonid Kuchma to implement Article 17 of the constitution, which prohibits deployment of foreign military bases on Ukrainian territory. Meanwhile, Crimean communists appealed to preserve a single fleet as a common security guarantor for the CIS and as a counterbalance to Turkey on the Black Sea, Ukrainian television reported on 29 October. The same day ITAR-TASS reported that talks on resolving the details of the Black Sea Fleet division began in Sevastopol. The head of the Russian navy's radiation, chemical and biological defense, Viktor Zakharov, expressed surprise that Ukrainian Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Yurii Kostenko wanted the issue of pollution caused by the fleet included in negotiations. Zakharov said the fleet caused no more environmental damage than regular merchant vessels. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN FOREIGN NEWS. Italian President Luigi Scalfaro ended a two-day official visit to Ukraine on 29 October, international agencies reported. Scalfaro's talks with his Ukrainian counterpart and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz focused on security and Italian- Ukrainian economic relations. Italy is Ukraine's second largest EU trading partner after Germany. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS PARLIAMENT. Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he would dissolve parliament if the Constitutional Court ruled that his proposed referendum was illegal, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. Last week the court announced it would review Lukashenka's and parliament's draft constitutions, and if it found they were actually new constitutions rather than just amendments to the existing basic law, any referendum on them would not be legal. -- Ustina Markus FINAL REPORT ON COLLAPSE OF LATVIA'S BANKA BALTIJA. The Latvian parliament investigation panel's final report, issued on 29 October, concluded that the spring 1995 bankruptcy of the Banka Baltija was caused by the "continuous and systematic violation of the law" by its leadership, BNS reported. It said that former board chairman Aleksandrs Lavent personally decided all key issues in the bank and used its funds for his own transactions while bank President Talis Freimanis was merely his tool. Lavent is currently imprisoned while Freimanis is under house arrest. Their trial is expected to begin in February. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS SAY IN FORMATION OF NEW GOVERNMENT. Algirdas Brazauskas said on 29 October that he did not see any sense in confronting the new right-wing majority in the Seimas about forming a new government, Radio Lithuania reported. The comment is assumed to mean that he will ask Gediminas Vagnorius, the board chairman of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) to be prime minister. Noting that the president has an important role in foreign policy and is the commander of armed forces, Brazauskas asked to be consulted on appointments of foreign, defense, and interior ministers. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY ON 1949 POLISH-SWISS ACCORD. According to a report by Polish Foreign Ministry experts, Polish citizens' assets deposited in Swiss banks might have been used to compensate Swiss citizens whose property was confiscated by the Polish communist government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 October 1996), Polish dailies reported on 26 October. According to the Polish-Swiss accord, revenues from Polish coal exports to Switzerland and Swiss bank deposits of heirless Poles, many whom were Jewish, were transferred to the Polish National Bank's account "N" in the Swiss Central Bank. Swiss citizens were then compensated from that account. Although the Polish-Swiss agreement envisaged compensations be paid from Polish export revenues, private account assets and income from exports might have merged, said a Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman. He added that the 1949 accord was illegal in its stipulations of how the accounts were administered. -- Beata Pasek FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT AND SECRET FILES. The State Security Office in Poland (UOP) charged former Polish President Lech Walesa with illegal possession of secret documents, Polish dailies reported on 30 October. Walesa apparently received those documents when in office and did not return them when leaving the office last December. He denied that he was illegally keeping any secret documents, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. A spokesman for President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Kwasniewski did not receive any confidential papers from Walesa. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK OPPOSITION SIGN AGREEMENT. The chairmen of three parliamentary opposition parties--the Christian Democratic Movement, Democratic Union (DU), and Democratic Party--signed a cooperation agreement on 29 October, Slovak media reported. Sme noted that the "blue coalition" is in fact not a coalition but an agreement; in its text it is explicitly written that the parties have not agreed to a pre-electoral coalition. "The election strategy and possible pre-election coalition have not yet been planned. This depends on whether Slovakia will change from its [current] proportional system to a majority system as heralded by the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)," DU chairman Jozef Moravcik said. -- Anna Siskova SLOVAK TV BOARD CALLS FOR DIRECTOR'S DISMISSAL. The Slovak TV (STV) board on 29 October passed in a secret-ballot vote a proposal for STV Director Jozef Darmo's dismissal, Radio Twist reported. The proposal, which followed a complex evaluation of Darmo's activities since he took the post in December 1994, will be submitted to the parliament for approval. The board's deputy chairman, Jergus Ferko, said the board is "dissatisfied that certain things at STV are not developing in a socially beneficial [way]." Darmo has cut a number of popular programs-- particularly political satires--and turned the station into a government mouthpiece. -- Sharon Fisher NEW GAS PIPELINE LINKS HUNGARY, AUSTRIA. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky on 29 October opened a 117 km natural gas pipeline between Gyor in northwest Hungary and Baumgarten, Austria, Hungarian media reported. Hungarians believe that the new pipeline will decrease Hungary's dependence on Russian energy sources. The investment cost the Hungarian government and the Hungarian Oil and Gas Company 4 billion forints ($69 million). On 20 October, a pipeline was also completed between Slovakia and Baumgarten. -- Zsofia Szilagyi TWO HUNGARIAN NATIONAL BANK VICE PRESIDENTS DISMISSED. Two National Bank (MNB) vice presidents were dismissed over a contractual error that cost the MNB 1.5 billion forints ($9.5 million), Hungarian media reported on 30 October. According to the final report of an investigation into the 1992 agreement, Sandor Czirjak and Frigyes Harshegyi--in a contract on exchange rate guarantees with the Austrian bank Creditanstalt--made erroneous calculations. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WAR CRIMINALS SERVE OPENLY WITH BOSNIAN SERB POLICE. Colum Murphy, a spokesman for the international community's High Representative, Carl Bildt, said on 29 October that his office has known for some time that at least four indicted war criminals work for the Republika Srpska police. The men are Mladen Radic, Miroslav Kvocka, Nedjelko Timarac and Zeljko Mejakic, Reuters said. They are serving in the Prijedor-Omarska area and are wanted for war crimes allegedly committed in the Omarska or Keraterm concentration camps. Murphy said, "We have sent letters. We have spoken to the leadership in Pale on the subject," but added that war criminals should be arrested only "by those who have the ability to do so," Onasa noted. Critics, however, have charged that IFOR is concerned primarily with self-preservation and turns a blind eye to war criminals. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN WRAPUP. Meanwhile in Athens, Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said that her government has no intention of turning over indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic to the Hague-based tribunal, AFP reported on 29 October. In Sarajevo, the Defense Ministry warned the U.S. not to apply pressure on Bosnia to fire Deputy Minister Hasan Cengic, who has close links to Iran, Reuters reported. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN FEDERAL PARTNERS AGREE ON FLAG AND COAT OF ARMS. Muslim and Croat partners in the Bosnian Federation agreed on 25 October on a flag, coat of arms and power-sharing in Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje reported the next day. They also agreed on how to merge their police forces. One of the agreements sets out how Sarajevo will be governed. Organization of the city will be designed in three levels: as a nine-unit canton, as the four-municipality city, and as the state district governed by Bosnia- Herzegovina's government. In addition, the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), which threatened to boycott the newly elected federation parliament unless it got a bigger share of power than the 4.7% of the vote it won in Bosnia's general election, was given 20% of the seats reserved for Bosnian Croats in the regional parliament. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN POLICE "CRUSH" LOCAL TRANSIT STRIKE. Belgrade police officers broke up a strike by municipal transportation workers on 29 October, Nasa Borba reported the following day (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996). According to Beta accounts, police, including special units from the interior ministry and officers in full combat gear became violent, beating up workers and forcibly apprehending and arresting Dragoljub Stosic, an opposition candidate for the 3 November municipal elections in Belgrade and head of the local Belgrade City Transportation Company trade union. Stosic's whereabouts and condition reportedly remain unknown. One trade union official summed up the police action as "most likely crushing the drivers' job action." Trade Union leaders, however, have vowed to stage a major protest at city hall on 30 October if Stosic is not released. -- Stan Markotich KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY THREATENS TO KILL ETHNIC ALBANIAN COLLABORATORS. The mysterious Kosovo Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the killing of a Serb police officer and a civil servant on 25 October near Podujevo, BBC reported on 30 October. The group, reportedly also threatened to attack ethnic Albanian collaborators with the Serb administration of Kosovo. Since January the group has taken responsibility for the killing of nine Serbs. -- Fabian Schmidt THIRD OF CROATIAN SERBS GRANTED AMNESTY REARRESTED. Of the 94 Croatian Serbs recently released from prison under the new amnesty law 27 have been rearrested, international agencies reported on 29 October quoting Hina. Forty-five left for Serbia-Montenegro immediately upon release, while those staying in Croatia were later arrested and charged with arson, rape, or murder. Deputy Justice Minister Tomislav Penic said the amnesty law does not apply to those charged with war crimes or criminal acts committed during the war. But the Croatian Helsinki Committee accused Croatian authorities of manipulating the amnesty law in order to intimidate remaining Serbs and scare others from returning. -- Daria Sito Sucic FEDERAL YUGOSLAV AND CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Mate Granic of Croatia and Milan Milutinovic of Serbia-Montenegro on 29 October met in Zagreb to discuss the further implementation of the agreement on normalizing relations between the two countries, Croatian and Serbian media reported. The two ministers signed an agreement abolishing visa requirements for diplomats and government officials. But federal Yugoslav citizens will still need visas to enter Croatia, and Croatians must pay border-crossing fees and deposit their passports at the border when they cross into Serbia-Montenegro. Granic and Milutinovic announced a number of agreements regulating internal affairs, social, and economic issues will be signed at the end of the year. Commissions for railway and road restoration will start next week. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman discussed with Milutinovic peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia. Tudjman said Croatia could not accept the six or 12 month extension of the UNTAES mandate but only a "three plus three" extension, because of pressure by the general public. -- Daria Sito Sucic SLOVENIAN UPDATE. In the latest survey by the daily Delo, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) of Premier Janez Drnovsek continues to lead in voter popularity ahead of the 10 November election, Reuters reported on 28 October. Delo showed the LDS with 11.6% of respondents' support, while a poll by Dnevnik showed the party's popularity increasing from 12.7% of voter support to 15.7%. Meanwhile, the rightist Social Democrats led by former Defense Minister Janez Jansa continue to hold second place in many polls, hovering around the 7% mark in popular support. Up to about 39% of the electorate remains undecided. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN ELECTORAL ROUND-UP. Several newspapers on 29 October published the results of a poll commissioned by the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), which shows the PDSR and President Ion Iliescu in serious decline over a period of 40 days. The confidential poll was conducted by the IRSOP polling institute, and only partial results were made public. Ziua, however, considers the results just another attempt to influence public opinion and placate the opposition. Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei accused the national TV station of sabotaging the electoral campaign of the opposition Democratic Convention and its presidential candidate, Emil Constantinescu, by airing its electoral spot under poor technical conditions. -- Zsolt Mato MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN MOSCOW. A parliamentary delegation headed by Chairman Petru Lucinschi is in Moscow on an official visit, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Lucinschi, presidential candidate in the 17 November election, is scheduled to meet with Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, the chairmen of the two chambers, and other senior officials. On 28 October, Lucinschi discussed with managers of the Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, Moldova's debts for gas deliveries and the possibility of increasing gas supplies this winter. Political talks focused on the much-delayed ratification of the Moldovan-Russian basic treaty and other bilateral documents, as well as on the situation in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region. Earlier this month, two other main presidential candidates, Premier Andrei Sangheli and incumbent President Mircea Snegur, paid visits to Moscow. -- Dan Ionescu FINAL RESULTS OF BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS . . . The Central Electoral Commission announced on 29 October the final results of the 27 October elections, national media reported. The united opposition candidates Petar Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldzhiev, with 44.07% of the vote and the Bulgarian Socialist's Party's (BSP) candidates Ivan Marazov and Irina Bokova with 27.01%, will compete in 3 November runoffs. Coming in third were the Bulgarian Business Bloc's Georges Ganchev and Arlin Antonov with 21.87%. Independent candidates Alexander Tomov and Gen. Liudmil Marinchevski won 3.16% of the vote while comedians Christo Boichev and Ivan Koulekov garnered 1.34%. The united opposition won almost the share of votes it received in 1995 local elections, while the BSP lost about one million supporters, Pari reported on 30 October. -- Maria Koinova . . . CAUSE SOCIALISTS TO MULL OVER THEIR POOR SHOWING. "The electoral results are retribution for the [politics] of the Bulgarian Socialists Party," announced Alexander Lilov, former chair of the BSP consul during a plenum meeting on 28 October, Demokratsiya reported on 30 October. Several other BSP party members and deputies, meanwhile, alleged that the BSP's constituency boycotted the policies of the government. For his part, Premier Zhan Videnov declared on 29 October that the results are a vote against the "social hardship that people suffer." He went on, denying rumors that BSP's executive bureau demanded his resignation. He said that he will initiate calls for an emergency BSP congress, should an election post mortem suggest the need for such action. -- Maria Koinova BRITAIN RETURNS ALBANIAN GOLD AFTER 50 YEARS. Britain on 29 October agreed to return 1.5 tons of gold worth $19 million, AFP reported. The money was looted from the Albanian central bank by the Nazis in WWII and kept by the Bank of England. Britain had blocked the gold because of a dispute over the sinking of a British warship and the severe damage of another in the Corfu straits in 1946. Britain had charged Albania with laying the mines that sunk the warship and demanded compensation for the death of 44 British sailors. Communist Albania had denied responsibility despite an International Court of Justice ruling in 1949. It agreed in 1992 to pay $2 million in compensation. Approval also had to be obtained from the U.S. and France, which were members of the Tripartite Commission. The U.S. gave its approval in 1995 and France in February 1996. -- Fabian Schmidt FINAL ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS. The Democratic Party won 58 of the 64 town halls, and 268 of the 309 communes, international agencies reported on 29 October. The Socialist opposition won only four town halls and 14 communes. The coalition of the National Front Party and the monarchist League of the Right won the town hall in Shkoder and the National Front won another four communes. The Human Rights Union Party, representing the ethnic Greek minority in southern Albania, won one town hall and nine communes. The Republican Party won in six communes, the Social Democratic Union in two and the Christian Democrats in one. Independent candidates won in five communes. Overall the Democratic Party won 52.5% of the vote for the party lists, followed by the Socialists with 31.3%, the Republicans with 3.5% and the Center Pole with 3.1%. The turnout was about 70%. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Valentina Huber ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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