|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
No. 7, Part II, 7 January 1997
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 BABY-THEFT SCANDAL IN UKRAINE. The trial over the illegal adoption of babies in Ivano-Frankivsk has had political reverberations, NTV and Intelnews reported on 6 January. The deputy head of the Lviv regional administration, Yurii Zyma, was dismissed from his post by President Leonid Kuchma. Zyma was charged with complicity in the illegal adoptions, along with the chief doctor of the Lviv Oblast state hospital Bohdan Fedak; another doctor, Volodymyr Droshenko; and the former head of the oblast administration, Zinovii Ursul. Between 1992 and 1994, over 130 newborns from the west Ukrainian hospital were sold to Westerners for $6,000-13,000 each, while the mothers were told their babies had been stillborn. In all of Ukraine, 802 babies were sold without their parents' consent. The fate of 630 is still unknown, and Interpol has been looking into the cases. -- Ustina Markus OUTPUT OF UKRAINE'S ZAPORIZHZHYA STATION. Last year, the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station produced the most electricity in its 12-year history, Ukrainian radio reported on 6 January. The station is the largest in Europe. In December, it generated 3.6 billion kilowatts of electricity. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES FOOD OFFICIALS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka dismissed several officials over the disruptions in the supply of food to the population this winter, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 January. The officials included the first deputy trade minister, the first deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Belarusian Cooperative Union, the president of the Belarusian Food Industry, a deputy chairman of the Brest regional executive committee, and a deputy chairman of the Minsk city executive committee. Over the winter months, there has been a shortage of butter, sour cream, sugar, and meat. An investigation concluded there should have been an ample supply, but commercial structures had bought up the products and then exported them for profit. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN UPPER HOUSE NEARLY COMPLETE. The new upper chamber of parliament is almost complete, with 53 deputies having been elected from regions and from Minsk city, Belarusian television reported on 6 January. Under the new constitution, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is to appoint additional deputies. He had to confirm the candidates nominated in the regions before they could be elected. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN POLICE LACKING CITIZENSHIP MAY BE FIRED. A third of the police force in Estonia's northeastern Ida-Virumaa region, 114 officers, may lose their jobs as of 1 February because they have not obtained Estonian citizenship, BNS reported on 6 January. Ida-Virumaa police chief Helmut Paabo said the officers could have passed the citizenship exam if they had really wanted to. The dismissals would leave some towns in the northeast with an understaffed police force. In Sillamae, out of the 60- member police force, only 15 have Estonian citizenship. Paabo said authorities hope to resolve the crisis by restructuring payroll and duties. -- Ustina Markus UPDATE ON COMMUNIST TRIAL IN LITHUANIA. Former Yedinstvo activist Valerii Ivanov was expelled from the courtroom on 6 January where Lithuania's former communist leaders are on trial for their role in the 13 January 1991 Soviet crackdown in Vilnius, BNS reported. Ivanov was asked to leave the courtroom because he was subpoenaed as a witness in the case, and can therefore only be present when he gives testimony. Ivanov had to be asked to leave four times before he complied, arguing the expulsion was a violation of his rights. After a month and a half recess, the trial resumed on 6 January. -- Ustina Markus LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS POLAND. Algirdas Saudergas on 6 January began a visit to Poland, his first abroad since Lithuania's new government was appointed in December last year. Saudergas said Poland is Lithuania's most important geo-strategic partner. "Lithuania wants to be a Central European country, not a Baltic republic," Gazeta Wyborcza reported him as saying. His Polish counterpart Dariusz Rosati said Poland and Lithuania have similar aims, among others regarding NATO membership. Both countries intend to conclude new treaties on cultural exchanges and on joint military action, including setting up a battalion for peace missions by next year. The two ministers said they were watching developments in Belarus and would consider joint initiatives. Saudergas, who speaks fluent Polish, had come to Poland in 1991, when the Soviets were cracking down on Lithuanian demonstrations, to prepare for the establishment of an emigre government in Warsaw if necessary. -- Jakub Karpinski NEW CZECH JUSTICE MINISTER APPROVED. Vlasta Parkanova, currently a department head at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and formerly a deputy in the Czechoslovak federal parliament, on 6 January was approved by the three government coalition parties as the next minister of justice, Czech media reported. Parkanova had been officially nominated by the coalition Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) on 3 January. President Vaclav Havel is expected to appoint her on 7 January. The post became vacant after Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Jan Kalvoda resigned from his government posts in response to the fact he had falsely claimed to possess a Doctor of Law degree. The decision on who will fill the post of deputy prime minister will not be made until the ODA's congress in March. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK OPPOSITION RESPONDS TO PRIME MINISTER'S OFFER. Democratic Union Chairman Jozef Moravcik on 6 January responded to Vladimir Meciar's recent calls for a meeting of party representatives "to agree on the rules of political competition," TASR reported. "[Meciar's] initiative could be useful if this meeting were not just a cover-up maneuver with which the ruling coalition wants to stop the decline of its influence on public opinion," Moravcik said. After the last multi-party talks -- held during the June 1996 coalition crisis -- Meciar failed to keep his promises to the opposition Party of the Democratic Left regarding privatization. Moravcik called for direct presidential elections as well as changes in Slovak TV, which has been used as a tool by the ruling coalition. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZIS COMMEMORATE FASCIST LEADER'S BIRTHDAY. About 100 neo-Nazis gathered at the grave of Ferenc Szalasi on 6 January to mark the 100th birthday of the Hitler ally, Hungarian and international media reported. With Nazi assistance, Szalasi became Hungary's fascist leader in October 1944. During his short leadership, he ordered thousands of Jews, left-wingers, and deserters killed. Szalasi was executed as a war criminal in 1946. The Federation of Hungarian Resistance Fighters and Anti-Fascists protested the neo-Nazis' move in a statement released through the state news agency MTI. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY, ISRAEL SIGN TECHNICAL COOPERATION PACT. Visiting Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and his Israeli counterpart David Levy on 6 January signed a technical cooperation agreement involving agricultural and other joint projects, Hungarian dailies reported. Israel has offered $160,000 over three years to establish in Hungary a pilot farm equipped with high-tech agricultural technology. During the first day of his three-day official visit to Israel, Kovacs also met with a group of Israeli bankers and with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Kovacs is still scheduled to hold talks with President Ezer Weizman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Dan Meridor. According to Israeli government figures, some 100 Israeli businesses have invested around $750 million in Hungary, most notably in the areas of telecommunications, computer software, and pharmaceutical products. Trade between the two countries totaled about $100 million in 1996. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA NEEDS $1.4 BILLION FOR RECONSTRUCTION IN 1997. The World Bank said on 3 January that foreign donors will need to provide $1.4 billion this year to sustain reconstruction and the return of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina, international agencies reported. A donor conference in Brussels on 9-10 January will assess progress and set priorities for 1997. According to the World Bank's director for Bosnia, Christine Wallich, priorities will shift from emergency intervention to sustainable reconstruction, targeting infrastructure, refugee resettlement, job creation, and financial institutions, AFP reported. The World Bank alone plans to approve some $160 million in low-cost loans. Out of $5.1 billion pledged in aid to Bosnia by foreign donors in four years, $1.2 billion was spent in 1996. But Wallich warned that is only a fraction of what is needed in Bosnia, where war damage is estimated at $20 billion. -- Daria Sito Sucic CONTROVERSY OVER INDEPENDENT TV STATION IN BOSNIA. Kosta Jovanovic, news director of TVIN, Bosnia's internationally funded independent television network, said on 7 January that TVIN was resuming broadcasting after having stopped on 1 January due to satellite problems, Oslobodjenje reported. But when the station went silent, the Bosnian Federation's state-run media launched a campaign saying that the station had stopped broadcasting because of a financial scandal in which local stations contributing to TVIN's broadcast were cheated, AFP reported on 5 January. Jovanovic said the accusations were a deliberate attempt to discredit the network before the Brussels fund-raising conference. In other news, Bosnia-Herzegovina is supposed to take up the presidency of the Central European Initiative (CEI) in 1997, AFP reported on 4 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS OPENED. President of the Croatian Constitutional Court Jadranko Crnic on 6 January opened the new Croatian Institute for Human Rights in Novi Vinodolski, Novi List reported the next day. Crnic came on behalf of President Franjo Tudjman and said that respect for human rights is the greatest legacy of Croatian history. The institute is a non-governmental organization founded by the law schools from major Croatian cities and Croat-held Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as the Police Academy, the Croatian Bar, and others. Meanwhile, State Attorney Anto Klaric, on his return from Strasbourg where he reported to the Council of Europe on human rights in Croatia, said that Croatia has been watched through a magnifying glass, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 7 January. Klaric said the international community deputies have lost sight of who is an aggressor and who is a victim. -- Daria Sito Sucic HUGE ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS EVE MARCH IN BELGRADE. A crowd of at least 200,000 people walked through the Serbian capital to St. Sava's cathedral to mark Orthodox Christmas Eve in yet another day of protests against the cancellation of the 17 November local election results. The protest was typically good-natured and peaceful, except for a reported small explosion at the headquarters of JUL, the small left-wing party led by Mirjana Markovic, the wife of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, AFP noted on 7 January. After Patriarch Pavle said mass at the cathedral, opposition leaders made speeches outside and presented 5,000 gift boxes for the children of their supporters. The usually uncommunicative police had earlier assured the demonstrators that they would not interfere with Christmas processions. -- Patrick Moore WILL FEDERAL YUGOSLAV ARMY UNITS MOVE AGAINST MILOSEVIC? Following discussions between army Chief of Staff Gen. Momcilo Perisic and student leaders on 6 January, the army issued a letter saying the military will not allow itself to be used against peaceful protesters (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 January 1996). The text stated that problems must be solved by peaceful and constitutional means, Nasa Borba wrote on 7 January, thereby ruling out the possibility that Milosevic could rely on the army to crush dissent as he did in March 1991. The London daily The Independent, moreover, reported on 7 January that at least some units may be ready to turn on Milosevic if he tries to declare a state of emergency, AFP wrote. The Serbian leader has never gotten on well with the military, which resents his building up a powerful police force as his own Praetorian Guard. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS OPPOSE MILOSEVIC. Aleksa Buha, who succeeded Radovan Karadzic as head of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), in his Christmas message on 6 January called on Milosevic to avoid bloodshed and respect the election results. Buha said: "It is stupid to stubbornly refuse to recognize what the laws of civilization dictate," AFP and Nasa Borba reported. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic repeated her earlier declaration of support for the students. There has long been little love lost between Milosevic and the Pale leadership, which feels that the Serbian president has repeatedly betrayed vital Bosnian Serb interests for his own political purposes. Milosevic backed opponents of the SDS in last September's Bosnian elections. -- Patrick Moore OLD GUARD OUSTED AT ROMANIAN NATIONAL TV. Stere Gulea, the director- general of Romania's national television (TVR), on 6 January announced sweeping top-level personnel changes, Romanian and Western media reported. Eight senior news executives were replaced in the biggest shake-up at TVR since the fall of the communist regime. The new head of the Information Department is Alina Mungiu, a respected journalist and political analyst. TVR is the only Romanian station with nationwide coverage and the main source of information for isolated rural areas. Under former leftist President Ion Iliescu, TVR was often accused of blatant pro-government bias. The former ruling party, the Party for Social Democracy in Romania, described the changes as "political purge." -- Dan Ionescu UKRAINE TO SUPPORT MOLDOVA'S TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko on 6 January said that Ukraine "takes the Moldovan side" on the issue of settling the conflict between Moldova and its breakaway Dniester region, Western agencies reported. The comment was made one day after Moldovan President-elect Petru Lucinschi met Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Odessa. During the Sunday unofficial talks, Lucinschi called on Kuchma to mediate more actively in the peaceful settlement of the dispute. On his part, Kuchma reportedly expressed Ukraine's support for Moldova's territorial integrity. -- Zsolt Mato DOBREV NOMINATED AS BULGARIAN PREMIER. The Executive Bureau of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 7 January nominated Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev for the post of prime minister, Reuters reported. On 6 January, Dobrev had agreed to be the BSP nominee for that post, although he had previously said that he wanted to stay on as interior minister, RFE/RL and Pari reported. Dobrev now has to be approved by the BSP's parliamentary allies -- the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" and the Political Club Ekoglasnost -- and by the parliament. Dobrev will succeed Zhan Videnov, who resigned as premier in December. Dobrev, who emerged as an outspoken Videnov critic at the recent BSP congress, has support within the party but also within the population for his fight against corruption and organized crime, but critics of his nomination pointed out that he lacks experience in economics or finances . -- Stefan Krause WILL A WAVE OF PROTESTS IN SOFIA OVERFLOW BULGARIA? More than 30,000 people demonstrated on 6 January in front of the local BSP headquarters in Plovdiv, Bulgarian media reported. "If we have to die, we'll die out on the squares," Plovdiv Mayor Spas Garnevski of the Union of Democratic Forces said. The rally follows a mass rally of 40,000 of the "new majority of the hungry" organized by the opposition in Sofia on 3 January. Further rallies are planned for the next few days in Sofia, Varna, Burgas, Lovech, and Montana. Krastyo Petkov, chairman of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, said his group will support the civil protests, Trud reported on 7 January. His statement contradicts an earlier Duma report that Petkov would guarantee the civil peace needed for the functioning of a new BSP government. -- Maria Koinova in Sofia ALBANIAN STUDENTS STRIKE. Up to 25,000 students in Tirana and Gjirokastra staged a strike on 6 January, Zeri i Popullit reported. The protest was organized by the students' union and supported by former student leader, Democratic Party legislator and notorious dissident Azem Hajdari. The students demanded better working and living conditions in the university and dormitories, a doubling of their stipends, the legalization of a student radio and newspaper, the construction of a freedom monument in Tirana's Student City, and freedom from military service for those who attended military high schools. Rilindja Demokratike on 7 January called the protesters "Hajdari's Falange," implying they were a minority and charged Hajdari with running amok. Hajdari originally had planned to hold a general strike but apparently realized that he had insufficient workers' support, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 January. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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