|As courage endagers life even so fear preserves it. - Leonardo Da Vinci|
No. 55, Part II, 19 March 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 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ In the 21 March issue of OMRI's journal TRANSITION**: THE MIDDLE CLASS - Economic Reform Casts a Long Shadow in Russia - The Making of the Middle Classes - Poland's Perpetually New Middle Class - Some Russians Are Learning to Be Rich PLUS... - RUSSIA: The NATO Distraction (A discussion with Grigorii Yavlinksii) - UKRAINE: Caution is the Key for Ukraine's Prime Minister (a profile of Pavlo Lazarenko) - CENTRAL EUROPE: Security Services Still Distrusted - TAJIKISTAN: Defining the 'Third Force' MEDIA NOTES: Journalists as Physical Pawns; Political Moves at Russian TV For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail message to transition-DD@omri.cz Note: Transition is not available electronically **See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MORE ON BELARUSIAN EXPULSION OF U.S. CITIZEN. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said the expulsion of the director of the Belarusian branch of the Soros Foundation, Peter Byrne, was not done "spontaneously" and was not directed against Washington, NTV reported on 18 March. He said Byrne is not permitted to re-enter the country because his activities in Belarus were incompatible with his status. Soros Foundation spokesman Syarhei Lyaushunou said he disagrees with the Belarusian authorities' belief that the foundation is working to destabilize the republic under the guise of offering humantarian aid, Belarusian television reported on 17 March. Belarusian television cited grants given by the Soros Foundation to members of the opposition as evidence that the foundation was operating against the state's interest. The report said opposition leader Yuryi Khadyka received $19,500 in a grant last year, the wife of an NTV correspondent received $7,105, and the wife of an RFE/RL correspondent got $6,990. (See "RUSSIA CRITICIZES GERMANY ON DESERTERS, U.S. ON BELARUS," in Russian part for more on Belarus.) -- Ustina Markus DEMONSTRATIONS IN UKRAINE. Separate demonstrations by both left-wingers and nationalists were held in Ukraine on 18 March, international agencies reported. Several thousand protesters gathered outside the Crimean government building in Simferopol to protest NATO expansion and urge integration with Russia. At the same time, tens of thousands of left-wingers protested in major cities throughout the country over the country's economic situation and the chronic wage arrears. The leftist protests were matched by protests staged by national democrats, who called for the removal of ex-communists from positions of power and a ban on the Communist Party. Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil said the protests were prompted by economic, not political, motives. Kyiv owes 2.7 billion hryvnyas ($1.5 billion) in back wages and pensions. Leftists criticize the measures taken to reform the economy for causing economic hardship, while nationalists blame government corruption and leftists for blocking economic reform and causing the economic hardships. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE AND IMF, WORLD BANK. An IMF delegation arrived in Ukraine for further talks on a $2.5 billion-3 billion extended fund facility, Reuters reported on 18 March. The disbursal of the credits has been held up because Ukraine's parliament and government have not agreed on a 1997 budget. A few days before the delegation's arrival, a strange manifesto condemning the IMF was distributed in Ukraine's parliament, Den reported on 14 March. It warned that IMF policies could lead to a global financial apocalypse and called on U.S. President Bill Clinton to help. The document was disseminated by the International Schiller Institute, an anti-IMF group set up in 1965 in the U.S. Ukrainian deputy Natalya Vitrenko has been working on the International Schiller Institute's behalf in Ukraine. In other news, the World Bank approved a $120 million credit to Ukraine to support a guaranteed facility to encourage foreign investment, AFP reported on 18 March. -- Ustina Markus LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN DENMARK. Guntis Ulmanis, on an official visit to Denmark, said on 18 March he is concerned that the interests of the Baltic countries be observed during the ongoing NATO enlargement debate between the Western countries and Russia, BNS reported. Speaking at the Danish Foreign Policy Association, Ulmanis said he fears that important decisions on the Baltic states' security could be made behind their backs. He said that Latvia is sure that Denmark will support the proposal to include the Baltic battalion in NATO forces as an integrated part. -- Jiri Pehe COMMON LIST IN POLISH SENATE ELECTIONS. Leaders of Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP) agreed on 18 March to present common candidates to the Senate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Both parties will first elaborate lists of candidates on the local level and if agreement is not reached the lists will be sent to Warsaw where negotiators from both the ROP and AWS will establish a common list. Local agreements with other parties, in particular the Polish Peasant Party and Freedom Union, "are not excluded," according to the ROP vice president, former Internal Affairs Minister Antoni Macierewcz. AWS is recently leading public opinion polls in popularity. -- Jakub Karpinski UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. Pavlo Lazarenko and his Polish counterpart Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz signed on 18 March a package of economic agreements including a medical industry cooperation agreement and an agricultural cooperation program. The two said both governments expect at least a $500 million increase in bilateral trade in 1997. During talks with President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 18 March, Lazarenko spoke of the joint declaration the two presidents plan to sign in May during Kwasniewski's visit to Ukraine. "This document will be of historic importance for both peoples," Kwasniewski said. The document will avoid mentioning concrete events from the often troublesome history of mutual relations, Polish media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER SUMMONS RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR. Josef Zieleniec summoned Nikolai Ryabov on 18 March to tell him that his recent statements had "seriously harmed Czech-Russian relations," Czech media reported. The Russian ambassador to Prague said on Russian television NTV on 16 March that the Czech Republic's entry into NATO would threaten key Russian-Czech bilateral agreements. He warned that Russia might revise economic agreements with the Czech Republic, including those on gas and nuclear energy supplies. Later Ryabov said that his statements were misrepresented and that he did not think they contained any threat to the Czech Republic. -- Jiri Pehe KING OF NORWAY IN PRAGUE, GAS DEAL CONCLUDED. King Harald and Queen Sonja arrived in Prague on 18 March for a three-day state visit, Czech media reported. President Vaclav Havel said after his meeting with the king that the Czech Republic will begin buying natural gas from Norway. Havel said King Harald's visit speeded up negotiations on gas deliveries from Norway. He added that the recent threats by Russia's ambassador to Prague that Czech membership in NATO could have a negative impact on Czech-Russian trade, especially on the supply of Russian natural gas, influenced the decision. The Czech Republic is completely dependent on Russia for natural gas. -- Jiri Pehe MORE PROTESTS IN SLOVAKIA. Some 2,000 students from the Trnava University joined protested on 18 March outside the government's headquarters in Bratislava, Slovak media reported. The students say a government plan to build a new university in Trnava threatens the existence of Trnava University, which is currently short of money. Many lecturers at Trnava University are known to be opposed to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Like their Bratislava colleagues in the last few days, the students in Trnava also voiced support for striking actors in Slovakia. Eight trade unions in the country, representing 250,000 workers, have also threatened to go on strike. The head of Slovakia's Confederation of Trade Unions, Ivan Saktor, said the strike will occur if Meciar's government does not show more willingness to talk with its opponents. -- Jiri Pehe HUNGARIAN FARMERS CONTINUE BLOCKADE THREAT. A Hungarian farmers' union on 18 March maintained its threat to block border crossings if the government does not agree to its demands, despite warnings that such action would be illegal, Reuters and Hungarian media reported. Representatives of the farmers' union METESZ sent an ultimatum to the government the previous day, saying they will block border crossings and roads to the capital unless their demand for unconditional tax relief for farmers earning less than 1.5 million forints ($8,500) a year is met. A February demonstration sparked a series of farmer protests over income and social security tax increases for farmers. The government made concessions to the farmers who have since formed METESZ. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS: SEPARATE PRIME MINISTER AND PARTY PRESIDENT POSITIONS. The so-called social democratic and left-wing leaders within Hungary's senior coalition Socialist Party are scheduled to meet this week to hammer out a joint stance in favor of separating the posts of prime minister and party president, Hungarian media reported on 19 March. Both positions are held by Gyula Horn. The issue has been long debated in the largely heterogeneous Socialist caucus. According to the daily Vilaggazdasag, the group would welcome both Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and former Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth for the post of prime minister. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN REBELS THREATEN TO ELECT OWN PRESIDENT. Gjirokastra rebel leader Agim Ghozita, a former army general, told Reuters on 18 March that if President Sali Berisha does not resign, the southern Albanian insurgents will elect their own presidential council to challenge him directly. Ghozita said the rebels want a political, not a military, solution. He added he is willing to work with the new government only if it stops all cooperation with Berisha. But Prime Minister Bashkim Fino of the Socialist Party rejected that demand. Berisha has pledged to step down if his Democratic Party loses elections scheduled for June. In Gjirokastra, gunmen raided the city's main bank on 18 March and seized all the money. In Tirana, the restoration of normal life continued as the government announced Rinas airport will reopen on 20 March. -- Fabian Schmidt REFUGEE CRISIS WORSENS. More than 2,500 people arrived in Italy on 18 March, bringing the number of refugees there to nearly 10,000, according to the UNHCR. A derelict freighter with some 100 people on board ran aground south of Durres. The exodus is apparently largely organized by the Albanian mafia, which charges between $500 and $1,000 per person for passage to Italy. Italy's chief anti-Mafia prosecutor, Pier Luigi Vigna, said the exodus might include criminals freed during the recent armed anarchy. CNN showed footage of Italian border guards collecting dozens of machine guns from arriving refugees. Marine insurance writers in London effectively declared the area a war zone liable to increased premiums. Italy on Wednesday expelled by helicopter 135 refugees it deemed dangerous. -- Fabian Schmidt INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO SOLVE FINANCIAL CRISIS. New Albanian Finance Minister Arben Malaj told the EU fact-finding mission on 18 March his country needs at least $300 million to prevent economic collapse. He said the country faces a food crisis because looters have stolen government food reserves. In Geneva, the International Red Cross appealed for 15 million Swiss francs ($11 million) to assist Albania with food and medicine. The sum would cover urgent needs for three months. Some Albanian leaders renewed an appeal for Western countries to send troops to help the government restore order, but EU mission head Jan D'Ansembourg ruled that out. Greek Economy Minister Yannos Papandoniou said Greece will guarantee a $75 million loan with favorable conditions to Albania once the situation has normalized. The loan will help provide partial compensation to people who lost savings in failed pyramid schemes and will assist the financial system, Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIA GIVES FINAL AMNESTY LIST TO EASTERN SLAVONIA SERBS. The UN Transitional Administration in eastern Slavonia has handed over to local Serb leaders Zagreb's final list of persons who will not be given amnesty for alleged war crimes, Vecernji list reported. The cases of those not mentioned on the 150-name list will be handled according to the amnesty law passed by the Croatian government last year. Neither party is happy with the list: Croats find it too short and Serbs too long. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN HARDLINER NEW PRESIDENT OF BOSNIAN FEDERATION. Former federation Defense Minister Vladimir Soljic, a Croat, was elected on 18 March by the federation parliament as the new president of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation, local media reported. Soljic replaced Kresimir Zubak, now the Croatian member of Bosnia's collective presidency. Ejup Ganic, a Muslim, was retained as federation vice president. Both men are elected on behalf of their respective national parties, the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) and the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA). Meanwhile, Haris Silajdzic, one of the Bosnian government co- chairmen, criticized the OSCE's work in Bosnia and asked that the organization name those responsible for the third postponement of Bosnia's local elections, Oslobodjenje reported on 19 March. In other news, a Bosnian Serb woman on 18 March testified at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia about atrocities done by Muslim guards to Serbian prisoners of the Celebici prison camp in 1992, international media reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBS IN ZAIRE. The International Herald Tribune reported on 19 March that "brokers with connections to President Slobodan Milosevic's government have made deals to supply the embattled Zairian military with men and equipment." The article added that the authorities in Belgrade and in Pale make big money from equipment sales, while the soldiers are very well paid by Yugoslav standards. The federal Yugoslav Foreign Ministry denies any official link to the deals with Zaire, but the article cites numerous examples of government connections to the African enterprise. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN OFFICIALS UNDER PRESSURE FOR FAIR ELECTIONS. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic that the Serbian authorities must not hinder opposition-controlled local governments or the media if they want to rejoin the OSCE. He added that the authorities must also launch a "constructive dialogue" with the opposition, Nasa Borba reported on 19 March. Meanwhile in Vienna, another opposition leader, Vesna Pesic, threatened a boycott of the presidential and legislative elections slated for later this year if there is no level playing field. She said the opposition wants not only free media but also a special electoral commission to make sure that the vote is free and fair, AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore MONTENEGRIN GOVERNMENT: LETTER WAS FAKED. Montenegrin authorities denied a report in Belgrade and U.S. dailies that Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic had written two members of the U.S. Congress to criticize federal Yugoslav policies in Bosnia and Kosovo. The Montenegrin spokesmen said that the letter was faked, AFP reported. Tensions between Podgorica and Belgrade are nothing new and have become increasingly public in recent weeks, but the alleged Djukanovic letter was particularly sharp in its criticism. -- Patrick Moore PARLIAMENTARY UPHEAVAL IN ROMANIA. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) said in a letter to President Emil Constantinescu that it will boycott parliamentary debates in protest against what it called non-respect of parliamentary procedure and a purge of the state administration, Romanian media reported on 17-18 March. PDSR leader and former President Ion Iliescu asked Constantinescu to mediate. Deputy PDSR leader Adrian Nastase said the way that the parliamentary immunity of Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor was lifted was only one of the reasons for the decision. The PRM is also boycotting the debates, while representatives of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) announced they will be present in the house but will not participate in debates. The PUNR is protesting against the removal from the parliamentary agenda of their proposed amendment to the land- ownership law. Constantinescu said the boycott is irresponsible but that he is willing to mediate if the three parties take "national priorities" into consideration. The ruling majority has the votes to pass legislation in the opposition's absence. -- Michael Shafir FOREIGN INVESTORS CAN OWN LAND IN ROMANIA. The Chamber of Deputies on 18 March passed legislation allowing foreign investors to own land, Radio Bucharest reported. An identical bill was approved last month by the Senate and will become law when President Emil Constantinescu signs it. The bill was approved in the absence of opposition representatives, who are boycotting the debates. In other news, the EU finance ministers on 17 March authorized the second installment of a loan approved back in 1994 as financial assistance. The installment ($80.5 million) had been withheld because of the previous government's evasive reform implementation. The EU said the loan has been authorized in recognition of the new government's "courageous" reform drive. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN-MOLDOVAN INTER-MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE MEETING. The seventh session of the joint Romanian-Moldovan inter-ministerial committee was held in Bucharest on 17 March, Romanian national television reported on the same day. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin and Moldovan Deputy Premier Ion Gutu signed a protocol providing for free-trade zones in border regions, as well as accords on environment protection and education. Radio Bucharest reported that Severin spoke of extending regional border co-operation to include Ukraine as a third party to new Euro-regions. -- Michael Shafir IMF STANDBY FOR BULGARIA BRINGS ADDITIONAL NEW LOANS. EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek said on 18 March in Sofia that additional lending worth $400 million-500 million will likely be forthcoming from the EU and the rest of the G-24, Reuters reported. On 17 March, Bulgaria had reached two agreements providing credits worth about $617 million -- $510 million in a standby credit and $107 million from a special facility for importing grain. The Open Society Foundation has offered $25 million for importing food and medicine, RFE/RL reported on 16 March. Leaders of all main political parties, including the recently ousted socialists, on 18 March pledged to support the tough conditions underlying the standby deal. Those conditions involve enterprise restructuring and privatization and tough budgetary discipline. -- Michael Wyzan [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! What's in Store for the magazine Transition We've learned much in the last two years about what sort of magazine Transition can be and what role it should play in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Of greatest help in this process has been the advice of readers. Among some of the desired changes are for Transition to offer even more articles by writers in the region - lively opinion pieces as well as fact-filled analysis and expanded departments. Accordingly, Transition will be substantially restructured and relaunched as a monthly with the issue dated June 1997. The last biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly frequency, which is priced at $65 for 12 issues. As before, we offer a substantial discount for readers in and of the countries we cover (apply to the contacts listed below for more information). For engaged intellectuals, policymakers, journalists, and scholars from the region, the new Transition will provide a rare forum for the exchange of ideas and criticism on political, economic, and cultural issues and events. For more information, contact the OMRI Marketing Department at tel. (420-2) 6114 2114, fax (420-2) 6114 3181; email: transition-DD@omri.cz *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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