Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
From omripub@omri.czMon Dec 2 11:50:25 1996 Date: Wed, 27 Nov 1996 15:20:48 +0100 From: OMRI Publications Reply to: Open Media Research Institute Daily Digest To: OMRI-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU Subject: OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 230, 27 November 1996 OMRI DAILY DIGEST No. 230, Part II, 27 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 BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SETS UP NEW PARLIAMENT . . . Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 26 November set up a new parliament, international agencies reported. Between 102 and 112 deputies met with Lukashenka and declared themselves the new lower house of the legislature. Under the new constitution, the lower house must have 110 members from the current 199-strong parliament. There will also be an upper house made up partly of the president's appointees. Meanwhile, Constitutional Court spokesman Oleh Maskalyou said that the court has ruled against the impeachment procedures started against Lukashenka. Its reason was that 12 of the 73 deputies who initiated the procedure have since withdrawn their support. Seventy signatures were required to launch the procedures. -- Ustina Markus and Sergei Solodovnikov . . . WHILE CURRENT PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS REFERENDUM RESULTS. Meanwhile, parliamentary Speaker Syamyon Sharetsky met with 55 deputies in the current parliament, who accused Lukashenka of hand-picking members for the new legislature to replace the democratically elected ones. They also strongly condemned the referendum results, which, they stressed, are not due to come into force for 10 days. In a statement claiming the results are invalid, they pointed out four procedural violations: the inability to establish how many ballot papers were issued, because the president's administration had printed them; early voting, which began before the publication of the final drafts of the constitution; funding for the referendum from unknown sources rather than the Central Electoral Commission; and state control over the media, allowing a propaganda campaign in favor of Lukashenka's referendum to begin several months earlier. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS ARAFAT. Leonid Kuchma met with Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat in Bethlehem on 26 November, international agencies reported. The two discussed the situation in the Palestinian territories and Ukrainian-Palestinian cooperation. Kuchma said Ukraine supported self-determination for the Palestinian people in their negotiations with Israel. Arafat announced that agreement had been reached on opening a Palestinian embassy in Kyiv. It was the first time Arafat has received a foreign head of state in Bethlehem, which was transferred to Palestinian rule as part of the Israeli-Palestinian autonomy agreements. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN MINERS UNION REQUESTS VENUE CHANGE IN STRIKE TRIAL. Members of the Donetsk Workers Committee have appealed to a judge in Zaporizhzhia to change the venue of the trial of committee head Mykhaylo Krylov, Ukrainian TV reported on 25 November. The trial began in Zaporizhzhia earlier this week. But coal miners want it to take place in Donetsk, where Krylov was charged with organizing illegal strikes in July protesting government wage arrears, because they do not believe he will get a fair trial in Zaporizhzhia. Krylov's public defenders from Donetsk have refused to continue to represent him because of the costs involved in traveling and staying in Zaporizhzhia. The miners told Judge Yurii Svitlychny that many defense witnesses cannot afford to participate in the trial because they have not been paid in months. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BALTIC PRESIDENTS MEET IN RIGA. Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) signed a joint declaration at their traditional biannual meeting in Riga on 26 November, BNS reported. The three leaders call for Baltic cooperation to be intensified and called on the EU to begin accession negotiations with the Baltic states not later than six months after its intergovernment conference. The presidents also reaffirmed their countries' wishes to join NATO as soon as possible, noting that the alliance's expansion would increase rather than decrease security in Europe. -- Saulius Girnius PROGRESS PARTY REJECTS OFFER TO JOIN ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT. The Progress Party on 26 November rejected Prime Minister Tiit Vahi's offer to join the government, BNS reported. Deputy Chairman Arvo Junti said that the party stood by its refusal to work in the same government as the Center Party, which its members had earlier left. Junti also added it was unfair that his party (with seven deputies) was offered only one minister's post, while the Center Party (with nine) was offered three. Even if the Center Party agrees to join the ruling coalition, Vahi will not have a majority in the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS DEPUTY CHAIRMEN, CHANCELLOR. The Seimas on 26 November elected Andrius Kubilius and Arvydas Vidziunas of the Homeland Union, Feliksas Palubinskas of the Christian Democratic Party, and Romualdas Ozolas of the Center Union as deputy chairmen, Radio Lithuania reported. Jurgis Razma of the Homeland Union was elected as chancellor. The Seimas also decided to increase the number of permanent committees from 11 to 12 by creating a separate health affairs committee. A fourth three-member caucus was created, raising the total number of caucuses to nine. The Seimas will hold a special session today at which President Algirdas Brazauskas is expected to nominate Gediminas Vagnorius as prime minister. -- Saulius Girnius REACTIONS TO ABORTION LIBERALIZATION IN POLAND. According to information received by the Polish Health Ministry, some state clinics will refuse to perform abortions when a woman is in a difficult social or financial situation, Polish media reported on 27 November. Under a recently amended law due to go into force next month, abortion is allowed in such cases (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 November 1996). Heads of gynaecological-obstretics units at two public hospitals in Tarnow, southeastern Poland, have already publicly declared their refusal to perform abortions. Kazimierz Kapera, head of the Krakow province Health Department, has resigned from his post, saying the new law contravenes the doctors' code of ethics. Meanwhile, the Solidarity trade union has announced it will appeal the legislation to the Constitutional Tribunal. A recent poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center shows that 56% of respondents support the amendments to the abortion law while 33% are against. -- Beata Pasek CZECH PRESIDENT TO UNDERGO SURGERY. Vaclav Havel will undergo lung surgery next week, Czech media reported on 26 November. Ten days ago, he was diagnosed as having pneumonia but was allowed to stay at home. He was hospitalized yesterday because, according to a presidential spokesman, his condition was not improving. Havel's physician at Prague's Third Surgical Clinic told reporters on 26 November that it is necessary to operate on Havel in order to find out exactly what illness the president is suffering from. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Slovak National Theater (SND) Director-General Miroslav Fischer has fired the theater's ballet director, Emil Bartko, CTK reported on 27 November. Fischer accused Bartko of lowering the ballet company's professional standards, but observers believe Bartko's dismissal is another step in the ruling coalition's efforts to control the SND. Also on 26 November, opposition Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky won a case against SALUS, the publisher of the pro-government daily Slovenska Republika, TASR reported. The court has ordered SALUS to publish an apology in Slovenska Republika, pay 100,000 crowns ($3,226) in damages, and to cover all legal costs. Carnogursky filed the lawsuit after Slovenska Republika wrote in May that Carnogursky had taken his children to an international seminar in Slovakia and had not wanted to pay for their meals. Carnogursky won another case against the daily on 18 November. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN COURT UPHOLDS NULLIFICATION OF ELECTION RETURNS. The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling nullifying the 17 November election results, which showed victories for the opposition Zajedno coalition, Reuters reported on 26 November. Zajedno, which had appealed in the first instance, said it was "not surprised that the Supreme Court is again in the service of the ruling party, but we are surprised that Milosevic's regime is causing new conflicts in this way." In related news, mass demonstrations continue in Belgrade, with opposition leaders vowing to continue the protests. Finally, polls opened in Belgrade on 27 November for the third round of municipal balloting, but voter turnout is reported low so far. Zajedno has called for the election to be boycotted and has demanded that the returns of the 17 November vote be "honored." -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN STATE JOURNALISTS PROTEST CENSORSHIP OF MASS DEMONSTRATION COVERAGE. A group of 45 reporters working for the pro-regime daily Politika have signed a letter of protest saying their management is deliberately censoring coverage of the mass demonstrations in Belgrade, Beta reported on 26 November. The letter says, "We are very worried about the unprofessional nature of the coverage of ongoing developments on Serbia's political stage. We are in favor of respecting the facts that are unfolding." So far, Politika has either avoided coverage of the ongoing developments or has portrayed the demonstrations as a threat to public safety--a line taken by all the state-controlled media. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN SUPREME COURT CHIEF SACKED, ACCUSED OF PEDOPHILIA. Chief Justice Krunoslav Olujic has been fired by disciplinary authorities on the government's recommendation, Vecernji list wrote on 27 November. He is accused of having had sex with minors and of using his position to protect the financial activities of friends, AFP said, quoting Croatian Television. Olujic, however, is an opponent of attempts by the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) to thwart the independence of the judiciary. His successor, Milan Vukovic, is a known HDZ hard-liner. Commenting on the charges, Olujic told the independent weekly Globus: "The police accuse me of having sexual relationships with minors, girls what is more, which is astonishing," alluding to rumors that he is gay. In other news, the opposition agreed to end its boycott of parliament now that the question of the impasse in Zagreb city government will be placed on the legislature's agenda, Novi List noted. -- Patrick Moore REPUBLIKA SRPSKA CIVILIANS INCREASE PRESSURE ON MLADIC BACKERS. President Biljana Plavsic and other leaders of the Serbian Democratic Party have asked the Ministries of Justice and Defense to "examine...the grounds for judicial action against the members of the army leadership, [which has been] committing acts against the constitution and the rule of the state in the Republika Srpska," AFP said on 26 November, quoting SRNA. Plavsic fired indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic and 80 of his backers on 9 November, but they refuse to go. She has spoken to Mladic's representatives but is unwilling to let him retain a major role in Bosnian Serb military affairs (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 26 November 1996). -- Patrick Moore BAN LIFTED ON BOSNIAN REFUGEES GOING HOME. IFOR, the UNHCR, and the UN police announced the lifting of the two-week-old suspension of the right of refugees to go home to a sensitive area in northeast Bosnia, Oslobodjenje reported on 27 November. The international representatives had charged the Muslims with deliberately provoking the Serbs and breaking the rules for returning to homes that lie in territory held by another ethnic group. The Muslims said the Serbs were using Muslims' applications to go home in order to target empty Muslim homes for dynamiting. The international representatives now say that the rules for returning must be scrupulously observed. Also in Sarajevo, a group of mainly women refugees from Srebrenica blocked and jostled the car of the international community's Michael Steiner to protest the failure to carry out key points of the Dayton agreement. Steiner said that he is not to blame for the problems. -- Patrick Moore ROMANIA'S OUTGOING PRESIDENT MAKES FAREWELL SPEECH . . . Ion Iliescu, in a farewell press conference carried live by Radio Bucharest on 26 November, defended his Presidency's record, emphasizing that democratic institutions had taken root and that Romania made significant progress in foreign relations. He blamed the failures of the outgoing government of Nicolae Vacaroiu on an uncooperative opposition, and he challenged his successor, Emil Constantinescu, to make good on campaign pledges to accelerate reform while increasing living standards, saying the two were contradictory. Iliescu also said he regretted his poor relations with a press that had been in general hostile to him. Asked whether he would run again for president in the year 2000, Iliescu replied it was too early to say. -- Michael Shafir . . . WHILE HIS PARTY CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN PRESENCE IN NEW GOVERNMENT. Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), said the participation of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) in the new government coalition is likely to mean that government debates will not remain confidential that information will be leaked to the Hungarian government, Radio Bucharest reported on 26 November. Meanwhile, media reports suggest that the UDMR will have two ministers in Victor Ciorbea's government: one without portfolio in charge of the Department for National Minorities, the other head of the Ministry of Tourism. Negotiations on the line-up of the new cabinet are almost over, but an announcement will not be made until after President-elect Emil Constantinescu was been sworn in on 1 December, Premier-designate Victor Ciorbea said. -- Michael Shafir TIRASPOL-OSCE RELATIONS WORSEN. Authorities in the breakaway Transdniester region have said that since the appointment of Donald Johnson as head of the OSCE mission, developments in the region have been negative and may affect cooperation within the Joint Control Commission, BASA-press reported on 26 November. The statement claims that OSCE members helped citizens in the Vasilievca and Dubasari districts to vote in the first Moldovan presidential run-off on 17 November by carrying ballot boxes to them. (The Tiraspol authorities had prohibited balloting on the region's territory but allowed voting for those willing to cross the Dniester.) The authorities said this was a "political provocation." They also accused members of the OSCE mission of "driving very fast" in the security zone and thus "endangering the safety of people." The OSCE mission said the statement "was not worth an answer." -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION. Stamen Stamenov is responsible for causing losses to Bulgaria worth several million dollars, Bulgarian media reported, quoting Edvin Sugarev, deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission against corruption. Sugarev announced the data after briefing Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev and Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev. He said that Stamenov signed "unfavorable" contracts with the Yugoslav Railroad Company between July 1994 and January 1995, when Stamenov was director-general of the Bulgarian State Railroad Company. Stamenov denied the allegations, telling Trud that " one of Bulgaria's tragedies is that we always suspect one other." -- Maria Koinova BULGARIAN ECONOMIC UPDATE. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov has said the Bulgarian National Bank and the government will assume strict currency control over exchange offices, financial-broker houses, and the banking system, Trud reported on 27 November. There will also be stricter control over the import and export of hard currency as well as over bank transfers to and from abroad. The move is aimed at stopping hard currency smuggling and at strengthening the adherence to laws on buying and selling hard currency. Videnov, however, added that there will be no changes in the currency regime. Meanwhile, some 1.6 million of Bulgaria's population of 8.5 million are currently entangled in debts, according to the National Statistical Institute's latest survey. Some 80% of respondents now admit that their financial situation has deteriorated considerably , compared with 32% in April. -- Maria Koinova HIGH-RANKING KOSOVO OFFICIALS IN TIRANA. Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi, and several representatives of Kosovo's Albanian political parties arrived in Tirana on 26 November to discuss a joint policy, Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service reported on 26 November. The meeting coincides with increasing reports of internal shadow-state conflicts over coordinating policy between the president, government, and legislature (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 26 November 1996). Rugova also met with Albanian President Sali Berisha, ATSH reported. Both stressed the importance of Kosovo's democratic institutions, such as the parliament. It remains unclear if the Kosovars' demand for independence from federal Yugoslavia was addressed. Albania's support for that demand has been half-hearted to date. Both called on the EU to open an information office in Pristina. Earlier this week, Berisha had met with the famous dissident and possible Kosovar presidential candidate Adem Demaci. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME HEAD DISAPPEARS WITH $13 MILLION. Aleksander Grunasi, head of the Grunasi investment company, has disappeared with $13 million, Reuters reported on 26 November. Scores of people from Shkoder have filed legal charges against him, while the authorities have launched a criminal case. Grunasi had offered monthly interest rates of up to 10% a month. Eight suspects have been arrested. Hundreds of thousands of Albanians are estimated to have invested in pyramid schemes in the country, some of which offer monthly interest rates of up to 50%. Head of the local IMF mission Ranjid Teja warned that the growing number of pyramid schemes could endanger Albania's fragile economic recovery. The lek has increased in value against the dollar considerably since the summer, owing to Albanians in exile buying lek and investing. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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. WWW http://www.omri.cz/Publications/DD/Index.html FTP ftp://FTP.OMRI.CZ/Pub/DailyDigest/ REPRINT POLICY To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Reprint.html OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS TRANSITION OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the OMRI Daily Digest. For subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit the Transition Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Transition/Index.html OMRI ECONOMIC DIGEST The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription available; for more information, write to ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the OMRI Economic Digest Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/ED/Index.html RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT The Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication (published every Wednesday) initially focusing on the local elections taking place throughout Russia during the Fall of 1996. After the election season is over, the Russian Regional Report will continue, turning to broader social, political, and economic issues of Russia's regions. To subscribe, please follow these instructions: 1) Compose a message to: MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ 2) In the body of the message, write: SUBSCRIBE REGIONS Your Name Fill in your own first and last names where shown 3) Send the message PURSUING BALKAN PEACE Pursuing Balkan Peace contains the latest news about developments in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other countries of Southeastern Europe. Published every Tuesday, it contains both brief news summaries and longer essays on specific events or issues facing the people of the region. 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