|The business of art lies just in this--to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible. - Leo Tolstoy|
No. 219, Part II, 12 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 ON BLACK SEA FLEET. First Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Bizhan said that Sevastopol cannot be an exclusive military base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian radio reported on 11 November. He said Russian ground forces should be removed from Ukraine's territory and Russia should give an exact count of the ships and troops it wants to keep based temporarily in Ukraine. He added that the location of Ukraine's navy command is not a subject for discussion, as that is an internal Ukrainian matter. Bizhan said the stumbling block in the last round of talks was the Sevastopol issue as Russia is "categorically opposed" to having Ukraine's navy command based there. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST EXTREMIST NATIONALISM. In his weekly nationwide radio address, Leonid Kuchma warned that his administration would use "every available legal means" against any group found guilty of stirring up ethnic hatred and discord in the country, Radio Ukraine reported on 10 November. Kuchma said he wasn't referring to any specific incident but that "national chauvinism, Ukrainophobia, anti-Semitism, and Russophobia are great dangers." Kuchma said the country's new constitution guarantees equal rights for all of Ukraine's 100 national minorities and added that he regularly holds meetings with representatives of minority groups. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION SAYS REFERENDUM NOT VALID. Head of the Central Electoral Commission Viktar Hanchar said he will not validate the results of the referendum on a new constitution and other issues because of the way it is being conducted, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. Early voting in the referendum by those who won't be able to vote on 24 November began on 9 November. Hanchar called the referendum a "national disgrace" and said he would not allow a referendum to be carried out according to an individual's "own rules and by decrees that contradict Constitutional Court rulings." Under the law, Hanchar has to approve the referendum results before they can be implemented. Hanchar said voting is taking place even though copies of the draft constitutions at issue have not yet been delivered to polling stations, and people do not know what they are voting for. In addition, although the early voting is meant only for those who cannot make the official referendum date, state television has been exhorting people to vote early. -- Ustina Markus LATVIAN PRESIDENT ASKS SAEIMA TO REVISE MILITARY SERVICE LAW. Before leaving on a five-day trip to Great Britain on 11 November, Guntis Ulmanis sent back to the parliament the law on obligatory military service that was passed on 7 November by a vote of 66 to 11 with 8 abstentions, BNS reported. He asked that parliament reconsider the articles that allow students to go into the reserves directly if they have undergone military training during their studies and that reduce the term of service for conscripts from 18 to 12 months. Saeima Defense and Interior Affairs Committee Chairman Julijs Druva approved the president's measure but noted that the parliament would probably only discuss the law in January as it had the state budget and many other important bills to consider. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN TRADE UNIONS PROTEST MINIMUM WAGE FREEZE. Leaders of the Estonian Trade Unions Central Union and the Association of Estonian Trade Unions protested the statement by Social Affairs Minister Toomas Vilosius that no money could be found in the 1997 state budget to increase minimum wages, BNS reported on 11 November. They said that the current minimum wage of 680 kroons ($57) per month should be increased to calm social tensions. While European standards recommend that the minimum wage be 40% of the average wage, in Estonia it is less than 21%. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY. Poles on 11 November celebrated the 78th anniversary of Poland's rebirth after more than a century of Russian, Prussian, and Austrian domination, Polish media reported on 12 November. At the official celebrations, President Aleksander Kwasniewski said the biggest danger Poland faces today is "imposition of the opinion that achievement of national goals--security and welfare--does not require continuing reforms but some unspecified 'turning' or 'awakening' of Poland." Kwasniewski was referring to the slogan of the extra- parliamentary Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP): "Poland, wake up." The opposition Solidarity Electoral Action, ROP, and Freedom Union commemorated Independence Day separately from the government. -- Beata Pasek WOULD-BE NATO MEMBERS WANT SAY IN NEGOTIATIONS ON NATO-RUSSIA CHARTER. Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec on 11 November said NATO applicants should be invited to take part in talks on a strategic partnership between the military alliance and Russia, Reuters reported. "For us NATO allies, it is very important that the debate with Russia not take place over our heads," Zieleniec said after talks with his visiting Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Kovacs. Both countries along with Poland are expected to become members in the first round of NATO's enlargement. Kovacs backed Slovakia's membership in the alliance, saying it is in line with the interests of the Czech Republic and Hungary to have Slovakia become part of Euro-Atlantic structures. Slovakia has been repeatedly warned by the United States and the European Union that its potential membership in NATO and the EU is in jeopardy unless it makes more progress on democratic reforms and improves treatment of its large Hungarian minority. -- Zsofia Szilagyi CZECH SECRET SERVICE CHIEF QUITS. Security Information Service (BIS) head Stanislav Devaty resigned on 11 November amid accusations that his service spied on Deputy Premier Josef Lux and subsequently tried to cover it up, Czech media reported. Devaty, who has been interim BIS chief since December 1992, denied the charges but said he was resigning under political pressure just days before the Senate elections. He told CTK that he is continuing to serve as director until a new chief is appointed. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus accepted his political ally's resignation but accused his coalition partners of taking unfair steps against his party. Interior Minister Jan Ruml expressed continued support for Devaty, while President Vaclav Havel called Devaty's departure "a reasonable step." Also on 11 November, the opposition Social Democrats' leader, Milos Zeman, asserted that BIS agents recently visited his mother to gain compromising information on him, an allegation that Klaus denied. -- Sharon Fisher CZECH RESTAURANT WON'T SERVE ROMA. Restaurateur Frantisek Korab of the northern Bohemian town of Litomerice recently put up a sign banning Roma from his restaurant, CTK reported on 11 November. Noting that some Romani customers have incurred debts reaching a combined total of 10,000 crowns ($370), Korab said Roma could begin coming again after they repay him. Korab told CTK that his ban has nothing to do with racism. The incident follows a case in March in the southern Moravian town of Breclav, where a hotel owner who was running for a parliamentary seat representing the liberal Free Democrats put up a similar sign. The district attorney said then that the action was "unsuitable and discriminatory but not criminal." The party failed to pass the 5% barrier required for parliamentary representation. -- Sharon Fisher OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR MINORITIES IN SLOVAKIA. Max van der Stoel arrived in Slovakia on 11 November for a two-day visit following his trip to Hungary last week, Slovak dailies reported. His recommendations concerning the Hungarian minority issue in Slovakia were submitted to the Slovak government last August, and the government's answer--which was received in October--is now publicly available. According to van der Stoel, Slovakia should pass a law enabling the use of minority languages for official contexts. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's spokesman said van der Stoel believes "more loyalty from the Hungarian minority toward the Slovak state is needed." -- Anna Siskova ACCUSATIONS AGAINST SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE CONTINUE. Parliamentary deputy Frantisek Gaulieder, who last week left the parliamentary caucus of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), on 11 November accused the secret service of spying on him. In an interview with Austrian TV, Gaulieder--one of the HZDS's founding members--said Meciar's cabinet "has been striving for the full seizure of power and the full execution of power in order to dominate society at Meciar's discretion, but this puts an end to democracy." Before he left the HZDS parliamentary caucus, Gaulieder reportedly received threats that his children would be kidnapped. -- Anna Siskova SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MUSLIM REFUGEES BATTLE WITH SERBS. A Dutch UN police monitor and a man said to be a Bosnian Serb were wounded in an exchange of gunfire between Muslim returnees and Serbs in the town of Koraj in northeastern Bosnia on 11 November, international and local agencies reported. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said the shooting broke out when some 500 Muslims attempted to return to their homes across the inter-entity boundary line. Muslim refugees who tried to return to their village, Gajevi, said the Serbs shot at them with pistols, rifles, and grenades. The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA, for its part, said the Muslims attacked the village with grenades and light infantry fire. According to a Muslim refugee, Bosnian Serbs early on 12 November shelled the village of Gajevi, injuring two people, AFP reported. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski blamed Bosnian Serbs and Croats for blocking refugee returns across Bosnia, but he also said spontaneous returns were not welcome. -- Daria Sito Sucic MASS GRAVE YIELDS 244 BODIES; MORE EXPECTED. Bosnian government experts have unearthed 244 corpses of mostly Muslim civilians from one of Bosnia's biggest known mass graves near the town of Kljuc in northwestern Bosnia and expect to find about 50 more, international agencies reported. The Lanste cave was in Bosnian-Serb territory until late last year, when it was recaptured by the Bosnian Army. Some 700 people remain unaccounted for in the area of Kljuc. -- Daria Sito Sucic SACKED BOSNIAN SERB COMMANDERS REFUSE TO GO. The top Republika Srpska military leaders--including indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic-- have rejected the civilian leadership's attempt to fire them, CNN reported on 12 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 November 1996). Ousted Gen. Zdravko Tolimir told NATO representatives that they must continue to go through him rather than through the new appointees when IFOR deals with the Bosnian Serb military, news agencies reported. The cashiered leaders enjoy solid backing within the ranks, Nasa Borba wrote. The civilian authorities nonetheless claimed that the officer corps had accepted the sackings, AFP reported. The rivalry between the established military brass--with their strong ties to Belgrade--and the civilians based in Pale is of long standing. -- Patrick Moore VOTERS TO GO BACK TO THE POLLS IN FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA. Returns from municipal elections in Serbia show that of the 7,670 seats available republic-wide (excluding Belgrade), only 2,067 were filled after first-round balloting on 3 November. Thus far, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) has taken 59% of the total seats decided. Runoffs are slated for 17 November, and independent media reports, such as Nasa Borba's 12 November article "The SPS Is Frightening Voters With Lies," continue highlighting opposition concerns that the upcoming balloting will be marred by irregularities. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN UPDATE. Dragoljub Stosic, head of the Belgrade municipal transit union, has been released from prison, Beta reported on 8 November. Stosic was arrested on the night of 28-29 October when Belgrade police, including paramilitaries in combat gear, broke up a transit strike. Stosic had been arrested on charges of inciting strike violence, and his attorneys had twice appealed unsuccessfully for his release. In other news, Nasa Borba on 12 November reported Yugoslav succession talks will resume in Brussels on 12-13 November. -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN ELECTION FINAL. Premier Janez Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) won the most votes and seats in Slovenia's 10 November general elections, claiming 27.05% of the popular vote and 25 seats. His former coalition partners, the Christian Democratic Party (SKD) and the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), did relatively poorly; both have lost popular support and parliamentary seats. Meanwhile, Marjan Podobnik's rightist Slovenian People's Party (SLS) won the second- largest amount of seats with 19, and Janez Jansa's ultraconservative Social Democrats (SDSS) took 16 seats. On 11 November, Podobnik, whose objectives include slowing down Slovenia's integration into the EU and NATO, said that a coalition of rightist parties could control 46 of the 90 legislative seats, effectively keeping the LDS out of power, Reuters reported. "I expect to become the next prime minister," he said. Delo, however, hinted Drnovsek may be angling for a coalition of the LDS, SLS, and SKD, which would control 53 seats. -- Stan Markotich VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN MACEDONIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN. Supporters of the nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (IMRO-DPNME) on 9 November clashed with supporters of an independent candidate for mayor of Skopje, the Roma politician Amdi Bajrami, in the Skopje neighborhood of Cair, which is mainly inhabited by ethnic Turks, Albanians, and Roma, Nova Makedonija reported on 12 November. Two IMRO--DPNME candidates for the Cair municipal council were seriously injured in the fight. Supporters of both sides attacked each other, some of them using baseball bats, when both sides tried to put up campaign posters for the 17 November local elections. Each sides blamed the incident on the other. Police did not report the fight until 11 November in an attempt to prevent an escalation. -- Stefan Krause RIVALS IN ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE DUEL ON TV. Incumbent President Ion Iliescu and his countercandidate in the presidential run-off, Emil Constantinescu, held a debate on 11 November on the private TV station Antena 1, Reuters reported. Iliescu repeated his accusations against the newly formed center-right governmental alliance, claiming that a program proposed by Constantinescu's Democratic Convention of Romania to cut taxes and improve social benefits is unworkable. Constantinescu held Iliescu responsible for the corruption present at all levels of the administration. According to some observers, Iliescu is desperate to retain power after seven years as president, while most of his former allies are turning their backs on him. Left-winger Tudor Mohora and ultra-nationalist Gheorghe Funar both support Constantinescu as the "least bad" of the two. -- Zsolt Mato ROMANIAN LIBERALS PREPARE FOR UNIFICATION. Leaders of five liberal formations on 11 November signed a protocol on the need for unity in Romania's liberal movement, Radio Bucharest reported. The five parties are the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention, the National Liberal Party, the National Liberal Party-Campeanu (named after its leader, Radu Campeanu), the Liberal Party '93, and the Civic Alliance Party. A commission will be set up to prepare the unification, which is expected to take place in the first half of 1997. Representatives of the Party of Romanian National Unity and the Green Alternative Party- Ecologists also expressed interest in joining a future liberal bloc. -- Dan Ionescu PHONE-TAPPING SCANDAL MARS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Moldova's incumbent President Mircea Snegur called for an investigation into the tapping of a telephone conversation involving his election campaign chief, Infotag reported on 11 November. In a strongly worded statement, Snegur described the incident as a gross violation of the constitution and asked the General Prosecutor's Office to take action against those guilty of broadcasting as well as of taping the illegal recording. On 8 November, national TV aired a conversation between Nicolae Andronic, Snegur's campaign chief, and Alexandru Burian, Moldova's ambassador to Germany. The two were discussing how to ensure a maximum of publicity for Burian's recent revelations of alleged financial irregularities at the Foreign Ministry. The tape was reportedly sent to the Teleradio company by two members of Snegur's security service. Observers believe that the action was aimed at damaging Snegur's re-election chances. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS MEET TO DECIDE FATE OF PREMIER. A plenary meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Supreme Council and the BSP parliamentary deputies began on the afternoon of 11 November, RFE/RL and local media reported. Initially called to discuss the presidential election loss, the meeting will probably decide the political future of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, who asked the party for a confidence vote as premier. Discussions went on for almost 20 hours and showed a deep split between those supporting Videnov and those asking for a new government. Participants said they do not expect big changes before a party congress in December or January. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski announced that he will vote against Videnov, while Nikolay Kamov, chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Politics Committee, resigned from the BSP Executive Bureau to protest a likely vote for Videnov. -- Stefan Krause UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN GREECE. Leonid Kuchma on 11 November arrived in Athens for a two-day official visit, ITAR-TASS and Western media reported. Kuchma met with his Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos, and with Prime Minister Kostas Simitis. Simitis and Kuchma initialed a Ukrainian-Greek friendship treaty. Kuchma stressed the need for economic and security cooperation and said NATO should sign agreements both with countries willing to join the alliance and with those who do not want to "in order to avoid a new division of Europe." Simitis said Greece backs Ukraine's efforts to find "its own place in the new world order." -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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