|...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 221, Part II, 14 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 NEW GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY ESTABLISHED IN UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma signed a decree establishing the State Information Agency of Ukraine (DINAU) under the auspices of the country's revamped Ministry of Information, Ukrainian TV reported on 13 November. The new agency will be formed on the basis of the government's information agency, which has officially been disbanded. Earlier this year, Kuchma merged the old state news agency Ukrinform with the former Ministry of Information and the Press to create a new ministry, headed by the conservative Zinovii Kulyk. The president's decree also places the State Committee on TV and Radio under the new ministry's jurisdiction. In other news, the Ukrainian Parliament has ordered the government to stop fining citizens for delinquent rent and utilities payments until it pays off its huge debt for public-sector wages and pensions, Ukrainian TV reported on 13 November. -- Chrystyna Lapychak HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS UKRAINE. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz began a three-day official visit to Ukraine on 14 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Goncz will visit Uzhhorod, a Transcarpathian city with a large Hungarian population. He will also discuss economic relations. The Hungarian-Ukrainian trade turnover grew from $300 million in 1993 to $664 million in 1995. Hungarian companies had invested $23.2 million in the Ukrainian economy by the middle of 1996. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev NEW ECONOMY MINISTER FOR BELARUS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka appointed Uladzimir Shimau as economy minister on 12 November, Reuters reported the next day. Shimau, who has been first deputy economy minister since August 1995, replaced Georgy Badei, who quit in July 1996 after being accused at a Security Council meeting of ruining the economy. Shimau is known as a highly qualified, market- oriented, professional economist who worked closely with the World Bank on an economic program. Lukashenka, however, rejected the program and replaced it with his own version. Shimau was against Lukashenka's proposals to tighten controls on prices and monetary policy and significantly increase monetary emission. (See Russian section for a story on Lukashenka's controversial speech to the Russian State Duma) -- Sergei Solodovnikov NATO GENERAL PRAISES DEVELOPMENT OF ESTONIAN DEFENSE FORCES. NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. James Jamerson on 13 November met with Estonian Defense Minister Andrus Oovel and President Lennart Meri, BNS reported. The talks focused on the development of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion, implementation of a Baltic air space surveillance project, and further U.S. assistance to Estonian defense training. Jamerson told a press conference that the development of Estonian defense forces had been spectacular, as they had to start from scratch only a few years ago. -- Saulius Girnius FORMATION OF NEW LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT. The Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) and the Christian Democratic Party (LKDP) decided on 13 November to support the candidacies of Vytautas Landsbergis as Seimas chairman and Gediminas Vagnorius as prime minister, Radio Lithuania reported. Vagnorius noted that the number of ministers would be decreased from 19 to 16 and that the LKDP would have three ministers, including Algirdas Saudargas as foreign minister and Ceslovas Stankevicius as defense minister. Noting that he had not yet been formally asked by President Algirdas Brazauskas to form a cabinet, Vagnorius did not reveal the names of the other ministers. -- Saulius Girnius COMMISSION FINDS INTERIOR MINISTER GUILTY IN OLEKSY AFFAIR. A Sejm commission on 13 November concluded its 11-month investigation into the role of Polish secret services in gathering materials alleging that former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy spied for the Soviet Union and Russia. The commission said former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski and the State Security Office behaved illegally in gathering materials on Oleksy and in publishing the materials and allegations. Seven members of the commission, representing the ruling coalition, supported the final version of the report; three members were against, one abstained, and one did not vote. The commission initially planned to demand that Milczanowski stand trial before the State Tribunal, which tries cases involving high-ranking officials, but instead it demanded that the minister be held responsible before a common court. In April, a military prosecutor had said he found no proof of the allegations against Oleksy. (See Russian section for the story on Prime Minister Cimoszewicz's visit in Moscow.) -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH TALK SHOW HOST ACCUSED OF LIBEL. The Gdansk prosecutor announced that an investigation will soon begin into allegations that Wojciech Cejrowski, the host of a recently canceled popular television show, WC Kwadrans, publicly defamed President Aleksander Kwasniewski in Gdansk, Polish media reported on 14 November. Gazeta Wyborcza reported that Cejrowski, invited to Gdansk on 5 November by the extra-parliamentary opposition Movement for Poland's Reconstruction, told an audience of several hundred: "Kwasniewski, who can't always stand straight on his legs, is profaning the presidential office with his fat ass." Cejrowski faces a prison sentence of 6 months to 8 years if convicted. -- Beata Pasek NEW HEAD OF CZECH INTELLIGENCE NOT FOUND YET. The Czech government on 13 November accepted the resignation of Czech Intelligence Service (BIS) Director Stanislav Devaty but was unable to appoint a new permanent director, Czech media reported. Devaty resigned on 11 November after Christian Democratic Union Chairman Josef Lux accused the BIS of following him. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus had warned on 12 December that there was not enough consensus among the coalition parties as to who the new head should be. The government asked Defense Minister Miloslav Vyborny, Internal Affairs Minster Jan Ruml, and Minister without Portfolio Pavel Bratinka to come up with a nomination for a new director as soon as possible. A BIS department director, Jaroslav Jira, has been asked to head the agency until a new director is found. -- Jiri Pehe MORE MONEY FOR SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE. The Slovak information service (SIS) will get more than 990 million crowns ($33 million) next year under the budget approved on 12 November by the government, Sme reported on 14 November. If the parliament approves the budget, SIS will be one of the few agencies to receive more money. The SIS received 759 million crowns for 1996 but had already overstepped the limit by 20 million crowns by the end of September. Linked with the kidnapping of the president's son, the SIS plays an uncertain role on the Slovak political scene. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN OIL COMPANY TURNS AGAINST RUSSIAN PARTNER. A senior official at the Hungarian Oil and Gas Company (MOL) on 13 November criticized Panrusgaz for its intention to sell natural gas to large-scale consumers from a new pipeline that is being built through Hungary, Hungarian dailies reported. MOL officials insist that they have been given the exclusive right to sell and distribute gas on the domestic market. Panrusgaz is a joint venture between MOL and the Russian giant Gazprom, with 50% ownership each. Panrusgaz head Mikhail Rahimkhulov was quoted in the daily Nepszabadsag on 13 November as saying the joint venture would sell gas 15-20% cheaper than MOL. In reaction, MOL officials said that Russian and Hungarian interministerial agreements guarantee that the new pipeline will be built, owned, and operated by MOL. They added that Panrusgaz could sell 1 billion cubic meters of gas to Hungarian consumers from the pipeline, but only through MOL. -- Zsofia Szilagyi NO PROGRESS IN HUNGARY'S NEGOTIATIONS WITH WTO. No substantial headway has been made between the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the World Trade Organization (WTO) over a major dispute concerning Hungarian agricultural export subsidies, Hungarian media reported on 13 November. Hungary has been trying to convince Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and the U.S. -- the six WTO member states that filed a complaint against Hungary -- to allow the government to continue subsidizing its deficit-ridden, but large export-revenue- producing sector. During the Uruguay round of the GATT negotiations, Hungary undertook to reduce subsidies on agriculture exports but made its calculations on the basis of erroneous data. The six countries subsequently filed a complaint with the WTO, saying that Hungarian agriculture subsidies were well above the levels set by WTO and agreed upon by Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi CORRECTION: An item in the 4 November 1996 issue of the OMRI Daily Digest titled "Ukraine Tightens Citizenship Requirements" should have said that the Ukrainian Parliament had only preliminarily approved a new bill on citizenship that would bar dual citizenship in the country. The bill must still be approved in a second reading before the changes go into effect. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE RETURN OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES SUSPENDED. IFOR, the UN police, the UNHCR, and the office of High Representative Carl Bildt announced a temporary halt to the return of refugees to their homes in the zone of separation, Oslobodjenje and Nasa Borba reported on 14 November. That effectively means that Muslims who have been trying to go back to villages on Serb- held territory will not be allowed to do so, although that is their right under the Dayton agreement. The suspension is aimed at defusing tensions in the now-quiet area around Celic and Koraj in northeast Bosnia, where the worst fighting since the Dayton was signed took place at the start of the week. IFOR said that both sides are to blame and both sides brought weapons into a demilitarized area, but it added that the Muslims shot first. The Muslims are nonetheless determined to go home, Nasa Borba noted. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told both sides not to resume fighting but added that the refugees do have a right to go home, VOA reported. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB MILITARY "IN A GHETTO." IFOR and the Republika Srpska police have sealed off the Bosnian Serb army's command center in Han Pijesak. An army spokesman told Nasa Borba of 14 November that the troops loyal to cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic felt like they had been "occupied" or put "in a ghetto." The spokesman added that harassment of Mladic loyalists has become "a daily occurrence." He said that people in Han Pijesak suspect that IFOR's goal is to take Mladic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague but insisted: "We will not allow them to take our commander there, not at any price." -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB INDEPENDENT RADIO TAKEN OFF THE AIR. Bosnian Serb police on 13 November shut down the Banja Luka station Radio Krajina, the station close to sacked military leader Ratko Mladic, AFP reported. Police confiscated the station's transmitter. Radio Krajina was run by Lt. Col. Milovan Milutinovic, formerly Mladic's spokesman, who was also among Bosnian Serb army officers dismissed on 9 November by Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic. The radio station began broadcasting in summer 1995, after the Muslim-Croat military allies took back from the Serbs several territories in western Bosnia. Radio Krajina was critical of the Bosnian Serb ruling party and authorities. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS PARLIAMENT OVER ZAGREB COUNCIL ROW. Opposition deputies walked out of the Croatian parliament on 13 November after their proposal on how to solve the crisis over the Zagreb city council was turned down, international and local media reported. Opposition parties decided to start a 30-day boycott of parliament and continue boycotting the Zagreb city council. They also appealed to the city council opposition deputies to resign. If that happens, new elections will be necessary unless President Franjo Tudjman appoints a governor, according to Ivica Racan, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The opposition coalition outpolled the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in municipal elections a year ago, but Tudjman dissolved the Zagreb city council after turning down the opposition candidates for Zagreb mayor four times. Tudjman appointed one of his associates as mayor, but the majority in the city council refused to accept her. Racan said the Zagreb crisis is turning into a parliament crisis, Novi List reported on 14 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic YUGOSLAV SUCCESSION TALKS HIT A SNAG. No breakthroughs took place as the latest round of talks on succession to the former Yugoslavia wound down in Brussels on 13 November, Nasa Borba reported the following day. Already on 12 November it had become clear that the delegation from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not share the other states' definition of what constituted state property of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Tanjug reported. Belgrade continues to maintain that all properties may fall under scrutiny and claim, while Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia feel that only assets once legally owned by the federal socialist authorities may be divided. -- Stan Markotich BELGRADE PROMOTES CITIZENS' RIGHTS. The federal Yugoslav delegation to the Yugoslav succession talks, headed by Kosta Mihajlovic, said "that all citizens of the former federation who are now citizens of newly formed states in the territory of former Yugoslavia ought to be allowed access to archives and personal files, and be issued documents ... necessary for regulating their status and rights in their new states." Mihajlovic added that Belgrade "expects" the other successor states to give citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia "the same treatment." -- Stan Markotich ILIESCU BEHIND IN LATEST ELECTION POLL. President Ion Iliescu is trailing challenger Emil Constantinescu, Romanian media reported on 14 November. A poll conducted between 6-10 November gives Constantinescu 52.8% and Iliescu 47.2%. Almost a quarter of the voters are still undecided. A series of four television debates ends on 14 November, the last day of campaigning; the presidential run-off is on 17 November. After a debate on 12 November, supporters of the two candidates clashed in front of private TV station PRO TV. Dan Iosif, Iliescu's adviser, was seriously injured in the incident and had to undergo surgery. Reuters reported that at the final rally for Constantinescu, on 13 November, Constantinescu called for Iliescu to be ousted and described him as "the sole source of imbalance in [Romania]." -- Zsolt Mato MOLDOVAN PREMIER TO RESIGN IF HE LOSES ELECTION. Andrei Sangheli on 13 November said he will resign if he is defeated in the 17 November presidential election, Infotag reported, quoting CIS's Mir radio station. Yet Sangheli left the door open for a later change of mind. He said that he must make any decision about his future together with his party, the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. When asked about his own post-electoral career, Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi, who is also running for president, gave a diplomatic answer: "This is just a political struggle. It should not become a life-and-death one." An opinion poll conducted three days ahead of the election shows incumbent President Mircea Snegur leading with 34%, followed by Sangheli with 30% and Lucinschi with 18%. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Georgi Pirinski resigned on 13 November, RFE/RL and local media reported. Pirinski said he left the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov because it "no longer enjoys the necessary minimum confidence" of the people. Pirinski blamed the government for failing to carry out a coherent economic reform. He said he will work as a parliamentary deputy and actively help organize the extraordinary Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) congress in late December. Pirinski, a social democratic reformist who was repeatedly mentioned as a possible successor to Videnov as prime minister, is one of Videnov's strongest critics within the BSP. He voted against the premier at the BSP plenary meeting on 11-12 November. Videnov said a new foreign minister will be named by the end of December. Until then, First Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova will be acting foreign minister under Videnov's direct supervision. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PRESSES FOR EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. The National Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) decided on 12 November to press for early parliamentary elections at the earliest possible date, coordinating its moves with other opposition parties and trade unions, SDS Deputy Chairwoman Nadezhda Mihaylova told Darik Radio. Meanwhile, Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" leader Konstantin Trenchev in an open letter asked outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev to resign early and let President-elect Petar Stoyanov take office before 22 January. Trenchev said he is driven by consideration to "speed up the democratic process" in Bulgaria. Zhelev's spokesman said that Trenchev's move only helps the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, as early parliamentary elections need long-term preparation that has probably not been made. -- Maria Koinova GERMAN PREUSSAG TO BUY ALBANIAN CHROME. The Albanian government has decided to sell 80% of the state-owned chrome company Albkromi to the German company Preussag, Koha Jone reported on 14 November. Preussag is expected to invest up to $100 million over five years on the mines and processing plants in Bulqize, Ternova, Batra, Burrel, and Klos. Albkromi suffers from outdated equipment and falling world market prices for chrome ore. In the 1980s Albania was the world's fifth-largest chrome producer, processing 1.1 million tons in 1989. In 1995, production was only 246,000 tons. Preussag will also upgrade infrastructure in the mining districts. -- Fabian Schmidt SUSPECTED BANK ROBBER ARRESTED. Tirana judge Flora Cabej on 10 November ordered the arrest pending trial of Adhurim Beqiraj, a suspected bank robber. Nine people participated in a robbery in Vlora earlier in the year in which $160,000 was stolen from a bank. The 29-year-old Beqiraj is charged in connection with investigations against the Revenge of Justice terrorist group. Beqiraj denies the allegations, but prosecutor Isa Jata said other arrested Revenge of Justice members have fingered him, Albania reported on 12 November. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled that communist dictator Enver Hoxha's son-in-law, Klement Kolaneci, has to stay in prison pending investigations. Kolaneci is also charged with being a Revenge of Justice member, Dita Informacion reported on 12 November. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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