|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 228, Part II, 25 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 OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE COMPROMISE OVER BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM COLLAPSES. The Moscow-brokered compromise between the Belarusian president and parliament collapsed one day after it was signed, international agencies reported on 23 November. Each side blamed the other for the failure. Under the compromise, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka would have repealed his decrees making the constitutional referendum binding, while the parliament would have withdrawn its request to the Constitutional Court to start impeachment proceedings against the president. Deputies voiced skepticism over the agreement, and a two-thirds majority vote could not be mustered for its ratification. In response, Lukashenka announced the results of the referendum would be legally binding. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court failed to reach a final decision on the launching of impeachment proceedings. It is not scheduled to reconvene until 26 November. -- Ustina Markus PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM. Preliminary results show that 70.5% voted in favor of Lukashenka's draft constitution, international agencies reported on 25 November. Voter turnout was estimated at 84.05%. The lowest turnout was in Minsk, where only 68.84% voted, and the highest in Homel Oblast (89.41%). The night before the referendum, Lukashenka broadcast a lengthy appeal to voters urging them to support him in the referendum, saying the choice was between stability and chaos. After casting his vote, Lukashenka said he would not declare a state of emergency, and did not believe it would be necessary to dissolve parliament because he was confident agreement could be reached with the legislature. The OSCE refused to send observers to the poll, and the Council of Europe said the presidential draft of the constitution does not comply with European standards. A small delegation from the European Parliament arrived to monitor the overnight counting of the vote, but Reuters reported they were unlikely to receive accreditation. -- Ustina Markus NUCLEAR MISSILES TO BE REMOVED FROM BELARUS. The remaining 14 of a total of 18 SS 25 missiles deployed on Belarusian territory will be repatriated to Russia by 26 November, Reuters reported on 24 November. Under a Belarusian-Russian bilateral treaty, the withdrawal of the missiles was scheduled to be completed by 31 December 1996. President Lukashenka said there will be a ceremony marking the transfer of the last missile and that timing depends entirely on the Russian military, which will remove the weapons. Earlier, Lukashenka threatened to keep the remaining missiles as a bargaining chip against NATO's eastward expansion. -- Sergei Solodovnikov RESULTS OF CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has won the first-ever elections to the upper chamber of the Czech parliament but did not do as well as expected, Czech media reported. After the second round of elections on 22-23 November, the ODS had won 32 of the 81 Senate seats. The Social Democrats (CSSD) gained 25 seats, the Christian Democrats 13, the Civic Democratic Alliance seven, the Communists two, and the Democratic Union one. Trade union leader Richard Falbr, running as an independent but supported by the CSSD, was also elected. The ODS qualified for 76 run- offs but was successful in less than 40%. Supporters of all other parties banded together in a broad anti-ODS coalition to prevent Klaus's party from having a majority in the Senate. -- Jiri Pehe UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SUSPENDS PRIVATIZATION OF 'STRATEGIC' ENTERPRISES. Lawmakers on 22 November voted to suspend the privatization of 208 state-owned enterprises deemed "strategically important" until laws governing investments in such businesses are adopted, UNIAN reported on 22 November. They also decided to investigate how the State Property Fund has so far conducted the privatization of such companies and to increase the number of state-owned enterprises barred from privatization from 1,475 to 7,111. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN PREMIER PRESENTS 1997 DRAFT BUDGET TO PARLIAMENT. Pavlo Lazarenko submitted the 1997 draft budget to lawmakers on 22 November, Ukrainian agencies reported. The draft calls for a budget deficit of 5.8%. It also foresees payment in full of the government's debt for public sector wages and pensions by the end of the first quarter as well as increased credits to the agricultural sector. The draft incorporates deep cuts in spending on government and social benefits, including the elimination of all subsidies to residents for rents and utilities. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk said the plan cuts the total tax burden on enterprises by 7.3% and simplifies the tax system, although more tax reforms are still needed. Legislators are scheduled to debate the draft in committees this week. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE PROTESTS CRIMEAN GOVERMENT INTENTION TO OPEN TRADE MISSION IN TURKEY. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko has criticized the Crimean government's intention to open a trade and economic mission in Istanbul, UNIAN reported on 20 November. Udovenko called the proposal "illegal and politically unjustified," while President Leonid Kuchma said the authority to open trade missions lies only with the central ministries in Kyiv. In other news, Kuchma called on law enforcement agencies not to ignore the fact that information space in Crimea "had been farmed out to Russia." He added that Ukraine's constitution should be defended on the peninsula, and he instructed the Crimean parliament to speed up bringing the Crimean constitution into line with the Ukrainian one. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev EAST EUROPEAN STATES TO INCREASE COOPERATION IN FIGHTING CROSS-BORDER CRIME. The interior ministers of Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, met near Warsaw over the weekend and agreed to draw up a timetable for stepping up police cooperation in fighting cross-border crime, Polish and international media reported on November 23. An agreement is expected to be signed on 1 March. The participating countries will allow foreign undercover agents to function on their territories. They will also exchange intelligence on criminals and tighten border control. -- Beata Pasek ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER REPLACED. Although all six ministers of the Reform Party submitted letters of resignation on 22 November, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi has passed onto President Lennart Meri only the resignation of Siim Kallas as foreign minister, BNS reported. Vahi said that it was impossible to have a foreign minister who at the same time was leader of the opposition. After Meri formally accepted Kallas's resignation, Vahi named European Affairs Minister Riivo Sinijarv as acting foreign minister. Vahi has 30 days to act on the other resignations. He will probably forward them only after he has formed a new coalition and found suitable replacements. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PEASANT PARTY RE-ELECTS LEADER. The Polish Peasant Party (PSL), junior partner in the governing left-wing coalition, has re-elected Waldemar Pawlak as party leader, Polish media reported on 25 November. Pawlak received 695 votes, Agriculture Minister Roman Jagielinski 402, and PSL Warsaw branch chief Janusz Piechocinski 120. Pawlak, backed mainly by the Smallholders, has been accused both by coalition and opposition members of protectionism and slowing down market reforms. Analysts predict that opposition within PSL ranks will force Pawlak to loosen his control over the party. The congress also overwhelmingly re- elected Sejm speaker Jozef Zych as chairman of the party's council. -- Beata Pasek SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER RE-ELECTED. The opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), convening for its ninth congress at the central Slovakian town of Banska Bystrica on 23 November, re-elected Jan Carnogursky as party leader, Slovak media reported. Carnogursky received 214 votes, while his challenger, Mikulas Dzurinda, who is considered to belong to the party's liberal wing, won 130 votes. According to Carnogursky, the KDH must consider forming a coalition with the Democratic Union and the Democratic Party for the 1998 parliamentary elections. The party's deputy chairmen are Ivan Simko, Vladimir Palko, Jan Figel, and Dzurinda. Founded in March 1990, the KDH is the most stable opposition party in Slovakia. Carnogursky has led it for the past six-and-a-half years. -- Anna Siskova SLOVAK CABINET RESTORES ACCREDITATION TO JOURNALISTS. The government press office on 22 November rescinded its decision three days earlier to suspend the accreditation of four journalists (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20-21 November), Slovak media reported. Under pressure from foreign and domestic critics, government spokeswoman Magda Pospisilova said the decision was made to "calm the situation." It followed a meeting between representatives of the press office, the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists (SSN), and leading Slovak dailies. The journalists lost their accreditation after they denied that President Michal Kovac had told them in May that Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar was suffering from a brain tumor. The SSN reacted to the press office's decision by removing its ban on government briefings. -- Sharon Fisher LEADER OF HUNGARIAN FREE DEMOCRATS RE-ELECTED. Ivan Peto on 22 November was re-elected for another two-year term as party president of the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), Hungarian dailies reported. Peto, who was the only candidate to run, said in a keynote speech that quitting is not the ultimate answer to the problems the SZDSZ faces within the ruling coalition. The party did not vote on whether it should remain in or leave the coalition, although the issue has been strongly dividing party members since the privatization scandal emerged in October. But delegates did draw up draft resolutions setting key legislative tasks for the government and calling on the cabinet to make suggestions on how to make further progress. Among the tasks it set for the government were the speedy introduction of tax reductions, the implementation of a transparent privatization process, the passage of a new constitution, and the reform of funding for the judiciary and local government. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIA'S ZAJEDNO TO BOYCOTT NEXT ROUND OF LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BELGRADE. Leaders of the opposition Zajedno coalition have asked voters to boycott a third round of municipal balloting in Belgrade, slated for 27 November. Earlier, Belgrade's First District Court had declared void the returns in a number of local constituencies where opposition candidates won majorities following the 17 November run-offs. At mass rallies over the weekend, opposition leaders warned that the ruling Socialists' tactic in the third round of voting would be to overturn opposition wins by nullifying the results of the second round and falsifying those of the third. Early returns in the second round of voting had shown that Zajedno won at least 60 of the 110 seats in the Belgrade council. Meanwhile, the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), led by accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, will take part in the third round, Nasa Borba reported on 25 November. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade DRASKOVIC'S WIFE FREED FROM POLICE CUSTODY. Danica Draskovic, wife of Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic, was freed from police custody on 22 November. She had disappeared the previous day, prompting her husband to express concern that she had been kidnapped. After her release, she told Nasa Borba that she was shanghaied by police and questioned about a public remark calling on violence to address regime repression. "They put a knife to my throat, pistol in my mouth, and they pulled my hair," she said. She added that the police had wanted to her to call her husband to say "they want to kill me if you don't stop the demonstrations ... and [concede] that the returns in Belgrade are nullified." -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade TUDJMAN SLAMS OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman returned to Zagreb on 23 November after spending just over a week in Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital, Croatian and international media reported. His office said the stay there was because of an ulcer and swollen lymph nodes, but unnamed U.S. and Croatian told CNN that he has terminal cancer. Television footage showed the president gaunt and weakened. He nonetheless attended a social function in the company of hard-line Minister of Defense Gojko Susak soon after returning home. He also made a tough speech in which he used communist-era language to blast unnamed sinister "European and trans-Atlantic powers" who, he alleged, are meddling in Croatia's affairs even though they "are not able to solve their own minority, racial or social problems." The address came in the wake of the 21 November demonstration in which 100,000 people in Zagreb protested in favor of independent Radio 101. -- Patrick Moore PLAVSIC MOVES ARMY COMMAND CENTER. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic announced on 22 November that the army's command center will be moved from ousted Gen. Ratko Mladic's base at Han Pijesak to the northeastern Bosnian town of Bijeljina, Reuters reported. World Bank officials that same day pointed out that the Republika Srpska has received only 2% of the $900 million in reconstruction aid earmarked for all of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bank blamed a number of factors but singled out a lack of cooperation from local officials, the VOA noted. All of Bosnia suffers not only from wartime devastation but also from massive unemployment aggravated by the demobilization of tens of thousands of soldiers. -- Patrick Moore NATO CONFISCATES WEAPONS IN BOSNIA. IFOR troops and UN police took a number of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and other weapons "one would not ordinarily expect to find in a police station" from Muslim police in Sanski Most, the BBC said on 24 November. The northwest Bosnian town was held by the Serbs for most of the war but captured by the Bosnian and Croatian armies in their fall 1995 offensive. Meanwhile in Mostar, the international community's Michael Steiner took part in the organizational meeting of a refugee group called Road to Return. -- Patrick Moore UN FORCE IN MACEDONIA TO BE EXTENDED AT REDUCED STRENGTH? UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros Ghali on 22 November recommended that the mandate of the UN force stationed in Macedonia be extended by six months at a reduced strength, Reuters reported. Under the proposal , the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) will be gradually reduced from 1,100 to 800 troops by 1 April. Boutros-Ghali, in a report to the UN Security Council, said recent developments in the region and Macedonia's increased international standing have made the possibility of a spread of violence from other parts of the former Yugoslavia less likely. He added that "the primary threat ... may come from internal tensions." -- Stefan Krause DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE OVER BULGARIAN CURRENCY BOARD. Bulgarian Premier Zhan Videnov on 24 November urged the heads of radio and television stations and news agencies as well as newspaper editors to help in gaining public support for the introduction of a currency board, RFE/RL and Pari reported the next day. The IMF has stipulated that such a board be established as a condition for the release of installments of a loan. Videnov said such a board would enforce "iron financial discipline" by preventing the national bank from lending freely to banks and firms and by putting a stop to large budget deficits. Depositors fearing bank failures, lay-offs, and cuts in social benefits after the board's introduction are withdrawing leva from the banks and converting them into dollars at an accelerating rate. -- Michael Wyzan UPDATE ON BULGARIAN BUGGING SCANDAL. Interior Ministry Secretary Ivan Boyadzhiev told Bulgarian National Radio on 24 November that there was no motivation for bugging the headquarters of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), the Bulgarian press reported. His statement was in response to SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov's claim that the SDS premises were bugged before the presidential elections (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 November 1996). Boyadzhiev acknowledged that in theory, some ministry employees could have placed the microphones in return for bribes and without authorization. Demokratsiya claimed that Boyadzhiev's wife heads an "informal" eavesdropping group and that materials were directly handed to Boyadzhiev and then passed onto the Bulgarian Socialist Party headquarters. Even if Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev gave no written authorization, it does not mean that he did not know about the "criminal eavesdropping," the daily added. -- Maria Koinova NEGOTIATIONS ON NEW ROMANIAN CABINET. Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) participated in negotiations over the weekend on the new Romanian cabinet, Romanian media report. It is now considered certain that the UDMR will be included in the new government. According to some reports, the UDMR's Gyorgy Frunda will be minister of tourism and the National Liberal Party will have five ministers in the cabinet. Radio Bucharest reported on 23 November that during the negotiations, it was decided to restore the traditional designation "chairman of the Council of Ministers" to replace "prime minister." The new cabinet will have 27 members, of whom 23 will be in charge of portfolios. In other news, the Constitutional Court on 23 November confirmed Emil Constantinescu's election as the country's new president. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN UPDATE. Parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi on 22 November said that if he is elected president on 1 December, he will implement a change of government, Infotag reported the same day. He dismissed "rumors," reportedly spread by incumbent President Mircea Snegur's supporters, that he intended to keep Andrei Sangheli's unpopular cabinet. He also accused Snegur of being responsible for the growing wage and pension arrears, which, he claimed, had grown most rapidly between 1991 and 1994, when Snegur had extraordinary powers. Meanwhile, Snegur appealed to Moldova's national minorities to support him, saying his adversary's allegations that he intended to limit the rights of minorities were "absurd." -- Michael Shafir [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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