|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 214, Part II, 5 November 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 SLAPS HEAVY DUTIES ON FOOD IMPORTS. Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko announced that his government will raise duties on food imports by as much as 50% over the next few months, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 2 November. The move is aimed at protecting domestic food producers. Kyiv has already upped duties on potato imports and will soon do likewise on meat and dairy products. Overall, duties should go up on more than 600 goods. The government also revealed that monthly inflation in October was 1.5%. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN COURT RULES ON REFERENDUM. The Constitutional Court ruled that the president's and parliament's draft constitutions may be put to a popular referendum, but the results would not be legally binding, international agencies reported on 4 November. Constitutional amendments put to a referendum are legally binding, but the court ruled the two competing drafts were effectively new constitutions. Chief Justice Valeryi Tsikhinya said the referendum results would have only an "advisory character," and could not be used as a basis for changing the constitution. The court ruled eight to three that parliament would decide what actions to take after the referendum. Parliament was also instructed to either rework the questions or pass a new referendum resolution. -- Ustina Markus PRESIDENT, SUPPORTERS BLAST BELARUSIAN COURT RULING. Head of the judicial department, Alyaksandr Plaskovitski, said that the Constitutional Court "had no right to decide on the issue," Reuters & ORT reported on 5 November. The ruling "does not correspond to the current constitution," he said, warning that if the president decides the verdict contradicts the constitution, he might ignore it. The president's press-service has accused the court of "crudely violating the referendum law," adding, "the Constitutional Court has denied the people their right to make a decision." Justice Minister Valentin Tsukalo said that the court has disrupted the referendum, and that the country's situation from a legal point of view is becoming uncontrollable. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that the court has been used while a terrifying struggle in going on in the country. He also said he will ignore the ruling. -- Sergei Solodovnikov THREE LATVIAN STATE MINISTERS TO RESIGN. Ziedonis Cevers, chairman of the Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS), announced on 4 November that the party's three state ministers: Ernests Jurkans, Juris Dzenis, and Sarmite Jegere would resign the next day, BNS reported. On October 31, Prime Minister Andris Skele presented a government optimization plan calling for the elimination of all but two of the 11 state minister posts by the beginning of 1998. The DPS board, however, called that incomplete and will propose cutting all state ministers and creating a work group to reduce the number of state officials by 10-30%. Cevers said the savings generated from that move should be redirected to educational and social institutions and local governments. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT TO DECIDE ON SEA BORDER WITH LATVIA. Conservatives leader Gediminas Vagnorius announced on 4 November that his party will not support the law proposed by President Algirdas Brazauskas on 25 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996) unilaterally establishing Lithuania's northern sea border since it does not conform to international norms, BNS reported. The Conservatives want parliament to adopt a decision on further negotiations with Latvia that would explicitly state Lithuania's position on the border question. The Seimas will approve one of the two alternatives today. -- Saulius Girnius PORNOGRAPHY BOYCOTT IN POLAND. A group of citizens who in July began a boycott of vendors distributing pornography in Bialystok announced it would expand its actions, Polish dailies reported on 5 November. The move is in response to the prosecutor's decision not to investigate a distribution of allegedly pornographic magazines by the state-owned company Ruch and by newspaper stands. The prosecutor said none of the seven alleged pornography magazines "includes so-called hard pornography," and that pornography is showing sexual acts "contradictory with commonly-accepted sexual behavior," listing homosexuality, sodomy, pedophilia, and necrophilia. Volunteers in other Polish cities are boycotting newspaper vendors, passing out leaflets, and suing pornography salesmen and publishers. -- Beata Pasek PUBLIC APPROVAL HIGH FOR POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER. Half of the population approves of the way President Aleksander Kwasniewski is fulfilling his duties and 42% approve of Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz as prime minister, Rzeczpospolita reported on 5 November. The poll, conducted in October by the Social Research Bureau listed a 31% disapproval rating for Kwasniewski and 33% for Cimoszewicz. Both politicians are particularly popular among supporters of the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance: 91% for Kwasniewski and 80% for Cimoszewicz. Among the supporters of the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party, 66% approves of Kwasniewski and 59% approves of Cimoszewicz. -- Jakub Karpinski OPINIONS ON CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS. According to a poll published 5 November in the Czech Media, candidates of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the opposition Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) will face each other in most of the 81 electoral districts in the second round of the elections. The first round will take place on 15 and 16 November, the second one week later. The poll, conducted by the Factum agency, indicates no candidate is likely to win over 50% of the vote in the first round and thus gain a seat in the senate without having to face a run-off. Out of some 580 candidates who compete in the Senate elections, 79 candidates from the ODS, 73 from CSSD, 19 from Christian Democratic Union, 16 from Civic Democratic Alliance, 10 from the Communist Party, 1 from the Moravian-Silesian Coalition, and seven independent candidates appear to have reasonable chances of making it into the second round. It is almost certain that ODS and CSSD candidates will face each other in the second round in 35 districts and are likely to do so in another 37 districts. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY, AUSTRIA DEEPEN TIES. Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Slovak and Hungarian Prime Ministers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn met on 4 November in the Slovak spa town of Piestany to discuss regional cooperation, and foreign and security policies, Slovak and international media reported. Meciar and Horn met separately to discuss bilateral treaty implementation and the Gabcikovo dam controversy, agreeing on the possibility of an out-of-court settlement. The case is scheduled for review next year by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Meanwhile, Meciar promised Vranitzky that reactors at the aging Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant will be decommissioned one year after the first two reactors at Mochovce are completed. He said a decision has yet to be made on whether to complete Mochovce's third and fourth reactors. -- Sharon Fisher MINISTRY REPROVES SLOVAK AMBASSADOR'S PRIVATE VATICAN TRIP. The Slovak Foreign Ministry "did not recommend" that Ambassador to the Vatican Anton Neuwirth take part in a private pilgrimage to Rome, Radio Twist reported on 4 November. Neuwirth was recalled from his post on 19 April by former Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk for consultations concerning an internal affair of the ministry. He has since remained in Slovakia, despite the Vatican's importance to the mostly Catholic Slovakia. Both former and current foreign ministers failed to react to interpolations by parliamentary deputies on the matter. -- Anna Siskova NEW POTENTIAL PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL IN HUNGARY. Mihaly Varga of the opposition Young Democrats on 4 November presented to the parliament details of newly discovered political links to privatization, Hungarian media reported. Varga asked why a consortium--with connections to the ruling Socialist Party--was allowed to purchase the Diosgyori Gepgyar machine factory in February for only one-sixth of the 600 million forint ($3.7 million) price. Finance Ministry State Secretary Laszlo Akar said the ministry will examine the transaction. The Socialists' parliamentary caucus chairman Imre Szekeres proposed that a committee be established to oversee privatization. Zsolt Harsanyi, head of the Digep Holding consortium that purchased Diosgyori Gepgyar, said the 100 million forints was just the first installment, adding that Digep has five years to pay the remainder. Meanwhile, the executive presidential board of the Socialists' parliamentary caucus announced that it will make its assets public on 30 November and urged party deputies to follow. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN POLICE PROTEST FALSE BOSNIAN CROAT REPORT. The Bosnian Croat Habena news agency reported on 2 November that five Croat returnees were killed and seven injured as the result of an incident taking place a day earlier in a part of Serb-controlled northwestern Bosnia. According to Habena--which reported that its information came from the International Police Task Force's (IPTF) local information office--Bosnian Serbs opened fire on 47 displaced Croats returning to their former villages in an attempt to visit the graves of their relatives, while the IPTF fired back at Bosnian Serbs. After checking local UN office reports, IPTF spokesman Patrick Svensson said on 4 November that the story was totally invented by Habena, AFP and Oslobodjenje reported. IPTF has protested the report, raising tensions, and asked Habena to make a public apology. Svensson said that Habena sent a letter of apology to the command of the IFOR division North, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERBS TO FIRE ACCUSED WAR CRIMINALS FROM POLICE FORCE. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told U.S. human rights envoy John Shattuck that the four indicted war criminals recently identified as serving with the Bosnian Serb police will be dismissed (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 5 November 1996). She refused, however, to turn the men over to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. In response, Shattuck threatened "negative political and economic consequences," Oslobodjenje reported on 5 November. A major scandal emerged when the accused war criminals were discovered on the police force, because it appears that UN police, Carl Bildt's office, and IFOR knew they were there but did and said nothing until The Boston Globe broke the story last week. -- Patrick Moore FEDERAL YUGOSLAVIA ELECTIONS UPDATE. With over half the votes counted in federal Yugoslav elections, parties loyal to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic hold a convincing lead. Beta reported that 48.15% of votes tallied went to Milosevic's coalition, 23.94% to the opposition Zajedno or Together coalition, and 18.47% to the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party. In terms of representational breakdown for the 138-member legislature, Reuters reported that Milosevic's coalition so far is guaranteed 50 seats, while Zajedno has 21 and the SRS 13. Meanwhile, Montena-fax reported that in Montenegrin republican elections, the ruling Democratic Socialist Party has, with nearly all ballots counted, an absolute majority of 45 of 71 seats. Only in local voting did the opposition manage inroads, and in Belgrade the Democratic Party leader, and mayoral candidate Zoran Djindjic nearly won a majority, but will compete in the 17 November run-off. -- Stan Markotich WIESENTHAL PROTESTS PUBLICATION OF ANTI-SEMITIC BOOK IN CROATIA. Nazi- hunter Simon Wiesenthal has protested publication in Croatia of the "Protocol of the Elders of Zion," first published by anti-Semites in 1903 purporting to prove that Jews want to dominate the world, AFP reported on 4 November. Wiesenthal sent a letter to the Croatian embassy in Vienna protesting that the Croatian government had agreed to the publishing and sale of an "extremely anti-Semitic" book in a country where some 20,000 Jews were killed during World War II, and some 1,000 of those who remained in Croatia were "defenseless" before it. In other news, thirteen veteran officers who served with Croatian forces allied with Nazi Germany during World War II were awarded equivalent ranks in the country's present-day army, Reuters reported that same day. The move was intended to rehabilitate the men, but it is unknown whether they were members of the Domobrani, the then-regular Croatian conscript army, or the Ustasha militia, responsible for war-time atrocities against Jews and Serbs. -- Daria Sito Sucic SLOVENIA'S LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PULL AHEAD OF THE PACK. The latest public opinion polling in advance of Slovenia's 10 November general elections has the largest parliamentary party, Premier Janez Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), gaining in public support, Reuters reported on 4 November. According to a Delo poll, backing for the LDS has risen to 15.3% of decided voters, up from 11.6% recorded about a week ago. But according to the daily Dnevnik, decided voters' support for the LDS has jumped from 15.3% to 21.8%. Trailing in second place is the rightist Slovenian People's Party, which according to several polls, is hovering around the 9% mark of decided voters' support. In 1992 general elections, the LDS took about a third of the votes, and won 30 of 90 legislative seats. -- Stan Markotich PRELIMINARY RESULTS IN ROMANIAN ELECTIONS. Data released on 5 November confirm the opposition's victory in the 3 November parliamentary elections, Romanian media reported. They also show incumbent President Ion Iliescu slightly ahead of his main rival, Emil Constantinescu from the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). With 95% of the votes counted, the CDR leads by 30.19% for the Senate and 29.61% for the Chamber of Deputies. Trailing the CDR are the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania with 23.26% and 21.73%; the Social Democratic Union with 13.17% and 12.97%; and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, with 7.01% and 6.84%, respectively. The extremist Greater Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity also passed the 3% electoral hurdle. In the presidential race, Iliescu leads by 32.45%, followed by Constantinescu with 27.70% and Petre Roman with 20.61%. -- Dan Ionescu and Zsolt Mato POST-ELECTORAL BARGAINING BEGINS IN ROMANIA. With final results in the 3 November general and presidential elections still pending, post- electoral bargaining has already begun in Romania, Reuters reported. Although the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) appears to rank first in parliament's two chambers, it has clearly failed to gain a majority. This makes future coalitions and alliances unavoidable. Petre Roman and his Social Democratic Union (USD) are generally seen as the key factor in any attempt to form a viable government. The CDR, however, expects Roman to back Emil Constantinescu in the run-off for presidency as the price for allowing the USD into government. CDR's options are limited as it has rejected any cooperation with Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy in Romania. The CDR might also rely on the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, which already showed its interest in participating in a future government. -- Zsolt Mato MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ATTACKS RIVALS BEFORE ELECTIONS. Mircea Snegur on 4 November launched a sharp verbal attack against Premier Andrei Sangheli and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi, his two main rivals in the 17 November presidential election, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Snegur was quoted as saying that, if he was re-elected president, he would dismiss the current government and dissolve the parliament. He further threatened to ask for a referendum to be conducted in case the parliament opposed his decision to change the government, dominated by the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. Snegur ruled out any reconciliation with either Sangheli or Lucinschi. -- Dan Ionescu LEADING BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS DEMAND PREMIER'S RESIGNATION. Nineteen leading socialists on 4 November demanded Premier Zhan Videnov's resignation. The 19 have criticized the government for the past six months, primarily over the catastrophic state of the economy, and made their resignation call in an official letter to the High Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). Duma, citing the letter, remarked the BSP now has one last chance to initiate changes which could enable it to hold onto its parliamentary mandate until 1998. But the Socialists demanding Videnov's resignation failed to offer an alternative to Videnov's leadership, and this could lead to a further "cementing" of his behavior, Trud commented. Videnov has already decided to call an extraordinary party congress in January 1997, banking that the interval will not allow any challengers enough time to engineer his ouster. -- Maria Koinova WILD SPECULATIONS SURROUND IMF MISSION TO BULGARIA. The IMF is apparently encouraging Bulgaria to consider adopting a currency board (as employed in Estonia and Lithuania), which would fix the exchange rate and only allow changes in the money supply in response to flows of foreign currency. Trud reported that the fund insists on tough anti- corruption measures and that the government is preparing to arrest the bosses of a number of business groupings and the heads of six or seven large banks. Standard reported that the IMF wants to appoint Bulgaria's "chief accountant" and the head of the national bank's bank supervision department. It asserts that the standby agreement approved in July had fallen apart by August and that the country can now count only on short- term financing for emergencies. No matter which government rules the country, wrote Kontinent, the IMF will determine not just policy directions but the details as well. -- Michael Wyzan ALBANIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS DEMAND NEW ELECTIONS. Social Democratic Party leader Skender Gjinushi said that 20 October's local elections were not fair, because the ruling Democratic Party could spend much more on the electoral campaign than the opposition, Koha Jone reported on 5 November. He also said that most foreign observers did not participate in the vote-counting process, and claimed that major irregularities occurred. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rejected a suit by the Socialist Party, which claimed the elections were fraudulent. -- 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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