|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. 222, Part II, 15 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 MAY RESTART A CHORNOBYL REACTOR. Ukrainian nuclear authorities prepared plans to restart Chornobyl reactor No. 2, which was shut down in 1991 after a fire incident, international media reported on 14 November. Valerii Idelson, spokesman for Chornobyl, told Reuters that technical documents have been sent for approval to the Ukrainian government. Chornobyl reactors 1 and 3 still function and contribute 5% of Ukraine's electricity. Ukraine promised to close reactor No. 1 on 30 November and to close the entire plant by 2000 in return for $3.1 billion in grants and credits from G-7 countries. Ukrainian officials say the country faces severe energy shortages and complain Western help is coming too slow. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev PRESIDENT APPOINTS REFORMER TO HEAD STATE TV. Kuchma has appointed Viktor Leshyk as president of the Ukrainian State TV Company, Ukrainian TV reported on 14 November. Considered a progressive, Leshyk has headed the private Gravis-TV company since he was removed nearly two years ago as program director of Ukrainian State TV in favor of more conservative management. Kuchma also appointed Valerii Mezhynsky as acting head of the State TV and Radio Committee. Both posts were held by Zinovii Kulyk, a conservative, who was recently named the country's minister of information. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES ELECTORAL COMMISSION CHAIRMAN. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 14 November signed a decree firing the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, Viktar Ganchar, and replacing him with Lidiya Yermoshina, Reuters reported. Ganchar had infuriated Lukashenka by describing the president's 24 November referendum as "a piece of legal idiocy" and threatening not to validate the results. The parliament, the Constitutional Court, and Ganchar's commission have all said the vote should be advisory and have no legal force. But Lukashenka has decreed that it will have legal force. The last straw in the conflict between the president and Ganchar was the latter's unsuccessful attempt to speak before the Russian Duma the same day as Lukashenka. Ganchar said that he will ignore the decree and continue carrying out his duties. -- Sergei Solodovnikov BELARUSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Andrei Sannikau tendered his resignation on 14 November, Reuters reported. Sannikau said he disagrees with the president's policies. This is the first sign of open resistance to Lukashenka in the government since Viktar Ganchar quit as deputy prime minister last December. -- Sergei Solodovnikov BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS SIGN DECLARATION ON MONEY LAUNDERING. Prime Ministers Siim Kallas (Estonia), Andris Skele (Latvia), and Mindaugas Stankevicius (Lithuania) together with representatives of the European Commission, the U.N. Drug Control Program, and the Financial Action Task Force signed in Riga on 14 November a joint declaration pledging to combat money laundering in their countries, Reuters reported. The prime ministers promised to pass laws in the financial and criminal sphere that will comply with EU and international directives on money laundering. Much of the money laundering is believed to be done by criminal groups operating mainly in Russia who use the Baltic countries as offshore money centers. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ON BORDER TALKS WITH LATVIA. Algirdas Brazauskas on 14 November announced that negotiations with Latvia on their common sea border will practically have to begin all over again, Radio Lithuania reported. In a decree, the president on 13 November formally renounced all previous recommendations made by Lithuania dealing with the sea border question, especially the memorandum Brazauskas and Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius had signed last year with their Latvian counterparts in Maisiagala. He also set guidelines for negotiation, specifying that the sea border should go directly west from the northernmost point of the border on the seashore. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH, EAST GERMAN POLICE COLLABORATED. The Warsaw prosecutor's office has established that the Internal Affairs Ministry concluded agreements in 1974 and 1982 with its East German counterpart that allowed each side to recruit agents in the other country, Rzeczpospolita reported on 15 November. Former Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak approved the 1982 accord. The prosecutors were investigating former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski's allegations that the Stasi, the East German secret police, had acted freely in communist Poland. But the prosecutors said Kiszczak did not violate then-existing laws by allowing the Stasi to act in Poland. The prosecutors also concluded that Kiszczak acted legally when he decided in 1989 to keep the opposition under surveillance, to create fake opposition organizations, and to infiltrate the existing ones. -- Jakub Karpinski WHITE BOOK ON MOSCOW MONEY FOR FORMER COMMUNISTS IN POLAND. Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki ordered the publication of a "White Book" about financial links between the Soviet authorities on the one side and the Polish Communist Party (PZPR) and its successor Social Democracy of Poland (SdRP) on the other, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 15 November. The last PZPR first secretary, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, negotiated a loan of more than $1 million with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1989; the money came to Poland in January 1990, but two weeks later the PZPR dissolved and was replaced by the SdRP. According to Wprost, former PZPR political bureau member Leszek Miller and Rakowski partially repaid the debt in the apartment of Vladimir Alganov, a KGB officer who had contacts with former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. Copies of the "White Book" will be distributed to the media. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH SENATE ON 1997 TAX RATES. The Senate has approved the governing Democratic Left Alliance (SLD)'s version of the 1997 income tax rates, set at 20%, 32%, and 44%, Polish media reported on 15 November. The move is expected to end the three-week controversy over taxes. The opposition Freedom Union backed the SLD against the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), junior coalition partner of the SLD, which supported four rates ranging from 18% to 44%. The Sejm on 24 October approved the opposition Labor Union's proposal of four rates ranging from 17% to 45%. After the Sejm vote, President Aleksander Kwasniewski had agreed with the government that introducing the four rates would be economically irresponsible and said that he would veto the Sejm version. The government welcomed the Senate decision. -- Beata Pasek CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS BEGIN. The first-ever elections to the upper chamber of the Czech parliament take place on 15 and 16 November. A total of 569 candidates will compete in 81 single-mandate districts for the 81 Senate seats, Czech media reported. Candidates who win over 50% of the vote in the first round will gain seats without having to face a run-off; a second round, in which the two most successful candidates from the first round will face each other, will take place in one week. Candidates must be older than 40; the average age is 54. Only 59 candidates are women. The importance of the Senate elections increased dramatically after the June elections to the lower chamber resulted in a stalemate. A resounding victory for either Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party or the opposition Social Democrats is seen as a way of breaking the deadlock. -- Jiri Pehe ANTI-GOVERNMENT RALLY IN BRATISLAVA. All opposition parties except the Party of the Democratic Left joined with the forum Save Culture in a rally to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the "velvet revolution," international media reported on 15 November. About 20,000 Slovaks, with their jangling keys reminiscent of November 1989, chanted "Down with Meciar" and "Resign," TASR reported. Slovak President Michal Kovac sent a supportive letter to the rally, saying, "It is sad that after seven years, the citizens of this country again have to raise their voices to call for justice and human rights." -- Anna Siskova FORMER SOVIET AGENT ALLEGES WEST TRAINED HUNGARY'S 1956 INSURGENTS. Vladislav Voronov, a veteran of the Russian state security authorities, says Western secret services played a major role in preparing and igniting the 1956 Hungarian uprising, Magyar Hirlap reported on 15 November, quoting an article in the Moscow daily Nezavisimaya gazeta. Voronov says that British intelligence trained fighters in the British occupation zone in Austria from 1954 onward. He estimates that nearly 10,000 people were trained to use guns and engage in street fighting. He says that U.S. intelligence was also involved in the project and that weapons were transported to Hungary before October 1956 from British and American arsenals in Austria. Finally, Voronov claims that several Western organizations applied similar methods in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ANOTHER HIGH-PROFILE MEETING ABOUT BOSNIA. Representatives of the five- member international Contact Group met in Paris on 14 November with the Bosnian presidency members, the BBC and Reuters reported. The three presidency members agreed on a 13-point, two-year stabilization program that stresses the right of refugees to go home, the need for democratization, the central role of joint institutions, and the importance of cooperating with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher threatened sanctions against those who do not comply. The Paris meeting is but the latest in a series of gatherings since early in the wars of the Yugoslav succession in which international diplomats meet with regional politicians in a West European venue. The former Yugoslavs reaffirm promises they have made and broken before, and then they go home and do as they please. -- Patrick Moore IFOR ROUNDS UP WEAPONS IN NORTHEAST BOSNIA. U.S. IFOR troops on 14 November confiscated six truckloads of arms from the Bosnian army's 254th Brigade in the Celic-Koraj area. Russian IFOR troops took a smaller quantity of weapons from the nearby Serbian police. The worst fighting in Bosnia since the Dayton agreement was signed took place there earlier in the week when Muslim refugees tried to go back to their homes on Serb-held territory in keeping with the peace treaty. NATO blamed both sides but charged that the Muslims staged a deliberate provocation with the help of the Sarajevo authorities and the local military. The weapons seizure is aimed at preventing the refugees from rearming and at discouraging the army from organizing similar ventures with other refugees, VOA noted. Muslims tried to block the trucks and, as in previous days, subjected the U.S. personnel to "considerable abuse." The Bosnian army then charged IFOR with staging provocations against it and against its commander, Gen. Rasim Delic, Oslobodjenje reported on 15 November. -- Patrick Moore U.S. TO COMMIT TROOPS TO BOSNIA FORCE? NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said on 14 November that the U.S. has signaled it will commit troops to a follow-on force in Bosnia, AFP reported. Solana, who met a day earlier with U.S. Vice President Al Gore, said he expected President Bill Clinton to make a decision very soon. The total force is envisaged as 20,000-30,000 and will replace the existing force when its mandate ends in December. Solana said the U.S. contingent would number about 7,500, while the proportions of troops of other countries would remain almost the same. At least 12 of NATO's 16 members support such a decision, according to Solana, who said he wants to convene a meeting of the NATO council on 18 November to make a formal decision. -- Daria Sito Sucic STANDOFF CONTINUES OVER SACKING OF GEN. MLADIC. Bosnian Serb television ran a commentary on 14 November indirectly attacking cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic and his loyalists for the first time, AFP reported. The broadcast stressed the importance of civilian control over the military and noted that Mladic had resisted the civilian authorities since 1993 and often communicated with them only through statements and the media. Mladic's backers, for their part, told the Belgrade daily Blic that their dismissals had been purely political. Gen. Manojlo Milovanovic urged the civilian authorities "to agree to a solution with us and avoid the spilling of Serbian blood." -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN PARLIAMENT MEETS WITHOUT OPPOSITION. The Croatian parliament met on 14 November in the absence of opposition deputies, who a day earlier had announced a 30-day boycott over the parliament's vote to reject discussion on their proposal for solving the crisis of the Zagreb city council (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1996), Novi List reported the next day. Meanwhile, as a result of several weeks' negotiations, the government on 14 November signed an agreement with the Croatian Association of Unions, Vecernji List reported. The government promised no more interference in the wage policy. Salaries are set to increase from January 1997 with no restrictions from the government's side. The unions had threatened many strikes unless the government met their demands. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES, LOCAL ELECTIONS, AND THE MEDIA. Members of Serbia's opposition parties said they are having a nearly impossible time communicating their messages to voters ahead of the 17 November run-off municipal elections. Members of the Zajedno coalition said that state-run television flatly refuses to broadcast their political ads. Also, on 12 November the Democratic Party (DS) alleged that Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Tijanic personally intervened and placed a ban on BK Telecom television's airing of a Zajedno ad, Beta reported. "This is another severe violation of the law and is evidence of the ... media darkness that is in force in Serbia," the DS statement charged. -- Stan Markotich CHALLENGER LEADING IN CAMPAIGN FOR ROMANIAN PRESIDENT. Campaigning for the second round of the presidential election due on 17 November officially ended on 14 November. The last opinion poll allowed to be published confirms challenger Emil Constantinescu's lead over incumbent President Ion Iliescu. While Constantinescu received 49% and Iliescu 34%, 17% of the voters are still undecided. The poll also showed that 65% of the population view with confidence the change in government. Meanwhile, international media noted that former tennis star Ilie Nastase, who lost two bids for public office on behalf of Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), said on 13 November he is quitting the PDSR and politics in general. In an open letter published in Romanian newspapers, he claimed he had been "dragged into a political quagmire." -- Zsolt Mato REACTIONS TO THE RUSSIAN RESOLUTION ON THE DNIESTER REGION. A Russian State Duma resolution proposing that the government declare the Dniester region a zone of special strategic interests for Russia has provoked a sharp reaction in Chisinau, Moldovan media reported on 14 November. The resolution, adopted a day earlier (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November), was dismissed by Moldova's Deputy Foreign Minister Vasile Sova as interference in his country's internal affairs. Parliament Deputy Chairman Dumitru Diacov said the motion may complicate relations between Chisinau and Moscow. But the Russian ambassador in Moldova, Aleksandr Papkin, expressed hopes that the document will not damage bilateral relations. For his part, Grigorii Marakutsa, chairman of the Dniester Supreme Soviet, welcomed the resolution. -- Dan Ionescu REFORMERS THREATEN TO LEAVE BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY. Andrey Raychev, a leading member of the Alliance for a Social Democracy (OSD) within the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), on 14 November said the reformist wing may split from the BSP if no "decisive steps toward social-democratization" are taken at the upcoming BSP congress on 21-22 December, Bulgarian media reported. "We may look for ways to structure the Left outside the BSP," he said. He said that OSD representatives and the leaders of the Alternative Socialist Alliance-Independents decided to establish contacts between different groups of social-democratic orientation. Meanwhile, BSP Deputy Boyan Kirov announced the formation of a "new leftist current" in the BSP as a reaction to the government's "extreme rightist politics." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT INVALIDATES MEDIA LAW. The Constitutional Court on 14 November invalidated 15 provisions of the electronic media law, RFE/RL and Demokratsiya reported. The judges declared unconstitutional the formation of an 11-seat National Radio and TV Council based on political criteria and on parliamentary representation. The provisions that the council, a state organ, approve program schemes and program content and have the right to cancel programs were also declared unconstitutional. "As I was reading that provision, I thought it was written not in 1996, but in 1956," said Judge Todor Todorov. Articles depriving the judiciary of free airtime and banning journalists from giving "subjective" commentaries were also invalidated. The law had been vetoed by President Zhelyu Zhelev in August. After the Socialist majority overruled the veto, 74 opposition deputies asked the court to invalidate 22 provisions of the law. -- Maria Koinova ALBANIAN OPPOSITION WANTS REFERENDUM TO ELECT CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY. The Center Pole opposition coalition and the Democratic Party of the Right proposed that a new constitution be developed by a constitutional assembly, Koha Jone reported on 15 November. When it votes for the assembly, the electorate should also decide about the form of the future state--monarchy or presidential or parliamentary republic. The Socialists supported the initiative, but it is unlikely that the governing Democrats will agree. They hold the two-thirds majority necessary to pass a constitution. In other news, the leader of the National Unity Party, Idajet Beqiri, has sent a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton, asking Clinton to support his release from prison. Beqiri was sentenced to 15 years for crimes against humanity committed during the communist era, but he says he is a political prisoner, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 15 November. -- Fabian Schmidt [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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