|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 58, Part II, 24 March 1997
No. 58, Part II, 24 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 BELARUS EXPELS U.S. DIPLOMAT. Serge Aleksandrov, first secretary of the U.S. embassy in Minsk, has been declared persona non grata and asked to leave the country within 24 hours for taking part in an unsanctioned opposition demonstration on 23 March, international agencies report. Aleksandrov was detained for "provocative actions." An embassy spokeswoman said that Western diplomats often watch protests from the sidelines "to observe the political situation but not to participate." Belarusian TV claimed Aleksandrov has been spying for the CIA. Two days earlier, the U.S. cut off its $40 million aid to Belarus because of the country's poor human rights record, Reuters reported on 21 March. U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said that since nuclear warheads have been removed from Belarus, the U.S. can suspend aid without compromising its security interests and at the same time send a "message of opposition" on human rights in that country. -- Sergei Solodovnikov POLICE BREAKS UP OPPOSITION RALLY IN MINSK. The demonstration in which Aleksandrov is reported to have participated took place on 23 March in downtown Minsk. Some 4,000 people headed for Yakub Kolas square, where an authorized rally of some 10,000 people was being held to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Belarusian Popular Republic, international agencies reported. Scuffles with police broke out, and several policemen were reported to have been injured while dispersing the rally with truncheons and tear gas. Some 70 demonstrators who smashed police car windows with chunks of ice were detained. Civic Union leader Genadz Karpenka and former Interior Minister Yuri Zakharenka were also taken into custody. -- Sergei Solodovnikov UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BLASTS GOVERNMENT FOR POOR PERFORMANCE. Leonid Kuchma, in his annual address to the parliament and the nation on 21 March, sharply criticized the performance of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko's cabinet, international agencies reported. Kuchma accused the government of inertia, inconsistency, and incompetence. He also held it responsible for the lack of a 1997 budget and for the wage arrears crisis. He criticized the parliament for failing to pass legislation to overcome the economic crisis, triggering loud protests among deputies present. On a brighter note, he praised monetary reform and noted that speeding up privatization and fighting inflation are the main economic tasks. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev RUSSIAN LANGUAGE GETS EQUAL STATUS IN DONBAS. Legislators in Donetsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine have voted to give the Russian language the same status as Ukrainian, Ukrainian TV reported on 21 March. The motion was passed following a discussion of the results of a 1994 poll showing that Russian is the native language of 67.7% of those living in Donbas. Deputies in Kharkiv Oblast passed a similar motion last year. Local Ukrainian nationalists have sent a formal protest to the Donetsk Oblast procurator-general. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev LATVIA, RUSSIA CONCLUDE TEXT ON JOINT BORDER. Aivars Vovers, head of the Latvian delegation to talks on the border with Russia, said the two countries fully agree on the text delimiting the joint border, BNS reported. He and his Russian counterpart, Lyudvig Chizhov, met in Riga on 20-21 March. Agreement still has to be reached on various technical issues. Vovers said that an Estonian delegation will be invited to the next round of talks, to be held in Moscow on 26-27 April, to confirm the three-country border crossing agreed on last summer. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES CONSTITUTION. The Sejm and Senate, meeting in a joint session on 22 March as the National Assembly, voted in favor of the long-awaited post-communist constitution, Polish media reported. Of the 460 Sejm deputies and 100 senators, 461 voted for the new basic law, 31 against, and five abstained. The previous day, the National Assembly approved several dozen amendments to the text. President Aleksander Kwasniewski said he will need only a few days to submit his amendments to the National Assembly, although he has 60 days in which to do so. Following the National Assembly vote on the presidential amendments, the constitution will be put to a national referendum, which is likely to be held on 25 May. Among other things, the new constitution deprives the president of the right to veto the budget and to have a say in ministerial appointments. -- Jakub Karpinski SEJM ADOPTS NEW PENAL CODE. The Sejm has adopted a new penal code, Polish media reported on 21 March. The new legislation, which replaces the 1969 penal code, abolishes capital punishment and introduces life imprisonment with the possibility of release after 25 years. It states that journalists may be required to reveal their sources if a court of law deems that information as essential. The new penal code also liberalizes regulations on pornography. Until now, the distribution and possession of pornographic material has been prohibited. But under the new legislation, the only punishable offenses are hard pornography and the exposure of children and adults to pornographic material against their wishes. Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki said that unlike its predecessor, the new code is "rational." -- Beata Pasek CZECH GOVERNMENT PARTY ELECTS NEW LEADERSHIP. Michael Zantovsky, a former ambassador to the U.S. and a spokesman for President Vaclav Havel, was elected chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) at the ruling coalition party's congress this weekend, Czech media reported. Ministers Pavel Bratinka, Jiri Skalicky, and Vladimir Dlouhy were elected deputy chairmen. Zantovsky, currently a member of the Senate and the head of its Foreign Committee, said he wants to unite the ODA. Before the congress, two rival factions in the party had engaged in a power struggle. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Interior Minister Gustav Krajci on 21 March easily survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote, Slovak media reported. The opposition holds Krajci responsible for violent police action during the Culture Ministry sit-in earlier this month. Despite the defeat of the vote, the opposition vowed to continue its protest. Also on 21 March, European Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan visited Bratislava, where he warned Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar against signing a free trade agreement with Russia. In other news, a congress of the opposition Democratic Union on 22 March overwhelmingly elected former Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan as chairman. Former Chairman Jozef Moravcik opted not to run. The party aims to strengthen cooperation among Slovakia's pro-democracy parties in order to topple the government in the fall 1998 parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, a weekend congress of the Association of Workers -- a junior coalition partner -- reelected Jan Luptak as chairman. -- Sharon Fisher MECIAR ACKNOWLEDGES SLOVAKIA MAY NOT BE AMONG FIRST NEW NATO MEMBERS. Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar told a 21 March meeting of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) in the western Slovak town of Trnava that Slovakia may not be among the first wave of countries invited to join NATO. He said that "global agreements" between superpowers, not domestic political problems, were the reason for the delay, CTK reported. He also recommended that HZDS supporters vote in favor of the country's entry into NATO in the referendum scheduled for late May. Meciar said his party will not allow the opposition to "incite people to seek conflicts." He added that he considers police intervention against actors, opposition politicians, and journalists at the Culture Ministry earlier this month as "appropriate." The following day, Meciar left for a five-day official visit to Japan. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN FARMERS TO SLOW TRAFFIC. Thousands of farmers protesting tax increases plan to slow traffic throughout the country on 26 March to draw international attention to what they call the "untenable position of farmers," Hungarian media reported on 23 March. The farmers' union, Metesz, has called on the public to wear a ribbon with Hungary's national colors to show support for the farmers. It is also encouraging people to join the protest by driving their cars slowly to the nearest border crossing or to the capital. The union recently attacked the government's agricultural program as "a ruthlessly exploitative economic policy pursued by the anti-national liberal-Bolshevik government." It has also called for the dismissal of the cabinet spokesman, the minister of agriculture, and "half the cabinet staff." For the past month, Hungarian farmers have been protesting income and social security tax increases for private farmers. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBANIAN REFUGEES CONTINUE TO ARRIVE IN ITALY. Three ships carrying more than 600 refugees arrived in Brindisi on 23-24 March, bringing the total number of Albanian refugees in Italy to more than 11,000, international media reported. Five Albanians drowned on 22 March while swimming to an Italian military vessel near the port of Vlora. The same day, Italian air force planes brought nearly two tons of medicine and medical equipment to Vlora for the local hospital, where more than 50 people are suffering from serious gunshot wounds. In Durres, an Albanian cargo vessel delivered 1,200 tons of flour from Italy. It was the first delivery in ten days. Italy is also preparing a limited military operation to escort aid convoys but is waiting for the go-ahead from a EU meeting in Brussels today. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino met with rebel officials from Vlora, who told him that police have established order there. Elsewhere, the border crossing with Greece has been re-opened and bus services resumed, AFP reported. But several people died in shooting incidents over the weekend in the south, bringing the number of people killed since the unrest began to more than 140 and the number of wounded to more than 700. Officials attributed the latest deaths to confrontations between armed gangs. Interior Minister Lush Perpali said "police have decided to crack down on the armed bandits, who are terrorizing the population." He added that "the situation remains chaotic in several towns where there are murders, looting and rapes." President Sali Berisha again rejected calls for his resignation, while in Tirana more than 1,000 people, mostly women and children, demonstrated to press for an end to the violence. -- Fabian Schmidt MORE DISCIPLINE IN BOSNIAN SERB LEADERSHIP? The Supreme Council of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) held a stormy closed-door session in Pale on 22 March to discuss recent public disagreements over ties to Belgrade between Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, Nasa Borba reported on 24 March. Krajisinik has backed the new Pale- Belgrade pact, while Plavsic opposed it on the grounds that it gives to much power to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in the internal affairs of the Bosnian Serbs. SDS chair Aleksa Buha said that Council members agreed that in the future the leadership would decide on thorny issues in private and then be obliged to support those decisions in public. -- Patrick Moore UN, CROATIA TO COOPERATE ON TWO-WAY REFUGEE RETURN. Senior UN and Croatian officials agreed on 21 March to cooperate in returning some 150,000 people displaced by war in Croatia, Reuters reported. They will set up a working group to plan a "two-way" return allowing 80,000 Croats to go back to eastern Slavonia, currently held by Serbs, and some 60,000 Serb refugees to return to their homes in western Croatia. Meanwhile, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has sent Croatia a draft treaty offering eastern Slavonia Serbs dual citizenship once the area reverts to Croatia. Serbs from the region said they would feel safer if they have dual citizenship. In other news, Belgrade has handed over to Zagreb some 500 files on missing people whose remains were found in the town of Vukovar in 1991 after it was taken by rebel Serbs, Reuters reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic TWO CATHOLIC CHURCHES BOMBED IN BOSNIA. Two Roman Catholic churches near the town of Travnik, in central Bosnia, were bombed on 20 and 21 March, AFP reported. The blasts were the latest in a series of attacks on churches following the announcement that Pope John Paul II will visit Sarajevo on 13 April. Meanwhile, High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt has demanded that the three Croatian policemen who were given suspended sentences following a violent incident in western Mostar last month face a retrial, AFP reported. Bildt described the trial as a "complete mockery and a farce." -- Daria Sito Sucic CRACKDOWN ON INDEPENDENT TV IN SERBIA. The Belgrade authorities are taking steps to drive privately-owned BK Television from the air, AFP and VOA reported on 24 March. On 20 March, the broadcasts, which had previously reached 60% of Serbia, were restricted to Belgrade and Novi Sad on the grounds that bills had not been paid. Subsequently, the station's license was called into question, an approach the regime has often used in order to drive independent electronic media from the air waves. BK's management has denied the charges. The real reason for BK's problems is that whereas previously it had offered pro-regime reporting, it was one of the few domestic media to provide extensive coverage of the anti-Milosevic protests in recent months. Another reason may be that wealthy station owner Bogoljub Karic has been mentioned as a possible candidate against Slobodan Milosevic for the Yugoslav presidency later this year. -- Patrick Moore POLICEMAN SHOT IN KOSOVO. An unknown assailant shot at a Serbian policeman in a cafe in Podujevo, AFP reported on 22 March. The attacker fired five bullets at Branislav Milovanovic, who was seriously wounded. Since the beginning of this year, eight people have been killed and seven injured in terrorist attacks for which the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has taken responsibility. Meanwhile, a court has charged 18 ethnic Albanians with terrorism. Police say that, in recent months, they have arrested 66 people who are charged with belonging to the UCK or other alleged terrorist groups. -- Fabian Schmidt MACEDONIAN PREMIER WANTS CONFIDENCE VOTE, EARLY ELECTIONS. Macedonian Premier Branko Crvenkovski told the parliament on 20 March he would request a confidence vote in his government, MIC reported. He added that after dealing with the consequences of the failure of the TAT savings house--in which opposition leaders claim ministers are enmeshed--he would begin dialogue with the opposition on electoral reforms and new elections. Crvenkovski refused to exonerate officials from blame in the scandal and promised to draw up within a week a program to compensate savers. Meanwhile, Greek Premier Kostas Simitis said in Bucharest that he intends to travel to Macedonia at "an appropriate moment," AFP reported on 21 March. Such a visit would mark a significant improvement in the often tense relations between the two neighbors. Greece is worried about an influx of Albanian refugees, while Macedonia is concerned about a possible spread of the anarchy to its own large ethnic Albanian minority. -- Michael Wyzan and Patrick Moore ROMANIAN ROUNDUP. Greek Premier Kostas Simitis on 21 March ended a two- day visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. He and his Romanian counterpart, Victor Ciorbea, discussed bilateral cooperation and security in the Balkans. The two premiers agreed that future talks on Balkan security matters should include Bulgaria. They also called for coordination of efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Albanian crisis. Meanwhile, addressing the third session of the Crans Montana Forum in Bucharest on 21 March, Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea announced new measures to encourage foreign investment in Romania, Radio Bucharest and international agencies reported. Ciorbea said investors will soon be free to withdraw profits and that the necessary legislation will be passed within the next 45 days. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN NATIONALIST LEADER OUSTED. The National Convention of the Party for Romanian National Unity on 22 March confirmed the ouster of Gheorghe Funar as president. The party's Central Bureau had removed Funar from that post on 22 February. The convention also elected interim President Valeriu Tabara as president and removed Funar's main opponent, Ioan Gavra, as secretary-general. -- Zsolt Mato ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN BULGARIA. Tens of thousands of Sofia citizens attended a United Democratic Forces (ODS) rally on 23 March to launch the opposition's campaign for next month's parliamentary elections, RFE/RL reported. This was the first outdoor ODS rally since the January 1997 mass protests that ousted the Socialists from power. The embattled Socialists launched their campaign three days earlier, when several thousand, mostly elderly, people attended a rally in Sofia. According to a poll in Demokratsiya on 24 March, the ODS has 56-60% support and the Socialists 17-19%. The Euro-Left garnered 5-6%, the Bulgarian Business Bloc 5-6%, and the Union for National Salvation, which includes the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, 4-5%. -- Maria Koinova WORLD BANK OFFICIALS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR BULGARIAN REFORMS. The World Bank will lend Bulgaria $40 million in May for grain purchases and $170 million in June for social assistance. It will also provide a $170 million Financial and Enterprise Sector Adjustment Loan in two tranches (June and December), Demokratsiya reported. These figures were revealed when Premier Stefan Sofiyanski met on 21 March--his fourth consecutive day in Washington--with World Bank officials. Meanwhile, Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister Aleksandar Bozhkov told Kapital on 23 March that privatization in Bulgaria will be "radical [and] total." He said no enterprise will be in government hands in two years' time. He said there will be no exceptions, not even for the current rail, telecommunications, electricity, and air transport monopolies. -- Michael Wyzan and Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! 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. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 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