|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 60, Part II, 26 March 1997
No. 60, Part II, 26 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 U.S. RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO BELARUS FOR CONSULTATIONS. Kenneth Yalowitz, U.S. ambassador to Belarus, has been recalled to Washington to report to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as relations between the two countries worsen following the expulsion of a U.S. diplomat, international agencies reported. Serge Aleksandrov, first secretary at the U.S. embassy in Minsk, was detained on 23 March when he allegedly took part in an unsanctioned demonstration. The Belarusian authorities accused him of interfering in Belarus's internal affairs and asked to leave the country. The U.S. State Department has protested this decision, saying Aleksandrov was performing routine duties. -- Sergei Solodovnikov OPPOSITION LEADER ARRESTED IN BELARUS. Deputy speaker of the 1996 parliament Henadz Karpenka was arrested last night on leaving the residence of the Czech ambassador to Belarus, ORT reported. Karpenka is to be tried on 1 April for disturbing public order by taking part in recent protest demonstrations. The day before Karpenka's arrest, several parties nominated him as head of a united opposition. RFE/RL on 25 March reported that the government has secretly tried and sentenced scores of protesters. Fines are as high as $600, and jail sentences vary from three to 15 days. Under Belarusian law, 15 days in prison is the maximum sentence for participating in demonstrations and disturbing the peace. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE GETS NUCLEAR FUEL, STOPS OIL TERMINAL CONSTRUCTION. Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry says it has sent fuel to the Chornobyl nuclear plant, despite the $30 million the facility owes for previous shipments, international agencies reported on 25 March. Earlier this month, the plant reduced output to half of the capacity of the only reactor still operating there. Chernobyl has received no fuel since July 1996. Plant director Serhei Parashin said Ukraine has paid about 20% of the debt over the last few days. Meanwhile, the construction of a 40 million ton oil terminal in Odessa has been frozen because of a lack of funds, ITAR- TASS reported. The project was launched in 1993 to ease Ukraine's dependence on oil deliveries from Russia. It has since received $26 million dollars in investment but has been heavily criticized for economic and ecological reasons. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev ESTONIA, SWEDEN SIGN VISA-FREE TRAVEL AGREEMENT. Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Ilves and Swedish Deputy Foreign Minister Pierre Schori, meeting in Stockholm on 25 March, signed an agreement on visa-free travel between the two countries as of 1 May, BNS reported. They also signed a protocol on continued cooperation on migration policy. Finnish Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen and Ilves are scheduled to sign today in Tallinn a similar visa-free travel agreement, also scheduled go into effect on 1 May. Denmark abolished visa requirements for Estonian citizens several years ago, and Norway and Estonia are expected to sign a visa-free travel agreement next month. -- Saulius Girnius U.S. CONSIDERS LATVIAN NON-CITIZEN PASSPORTS VALID. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs on 25 March said the U.S. was the first country to say it considers Latvia's non-citizen passports to be valid, BNS reported. The ministry sent out samples of the passports to nearly 200 countries last month, asking for replies within 45 days. Estonia and Lithuania have also informed Latvia that they will regard the passports as valid travel documents. The non-citizen will begin to be printed next month. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON SCREENING LAW. The parliamentary commission tasked with drafting the lustration law has approved amendments submitted during the legislation's second reading in the Sejm, Polish media reported on 26 March. Rectors, chief editors, managers, and others who were obliged by law to give information to the communist-era secret service will be excluded from the screening procedure, but intelligence and counterintelligence officials will be included. The commission rejected an amendment defining what constituted collaboration with the secret service, leaving the lustration court to make a decision in individual cases. It approved having a so-called "spokesman for public interest" who would have the same rights as the prosecution in lustration cases. -- Beata Pasek CZECH PARLIAMENT FAILS TO APPROVE LAW ON OMBUDSMAN. The lower chamber of the Czech parliament on 25 March rejected a bill on the ombudsman, Czech media reported. The bill was submitted by the opposition Social Democrats but was strongly opposed by Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party and the extreme-right Republicans, both of which claim the Czech Republic does not need an ombudsman. The bill failed to pass largely because the coalition Christian Democratic Union withdrew its support for the bill when one of its amendments was voted down. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK STUDENTS HOLD WARNING STRIKE. Students at Trnava University and several schools in Bratislava held a one-hour warning strike on 25 March, Narodna obroda reported. They were protesting the government's moves to open a new university in Trnava and to "illegally" divide the Safarik University in Kosice. The government's approval last week of the new University of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Trnava is especially controversial since it is seen as an effort to abolish the existing Trnava University, whose faculty generally opposes the current government. The cabinet had tried to win the backing of Catholic bishops to create a Catholic university in Trnava, but the bishops rejected the offer. The cabinet also plans to establish new universities in Banska Bystrica and Trencin, despite severe financial difficulties and the lack of teachers at many existing universities. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Two bombs were found in a Bratislava sports hall following the opposition Christian Democratic Movement's (KDH) rally on 24 March, CTK reported. One bomb was found in the main hall, and the other in a plastic bag in the men's bathroom. An estimated 4,000 people attended the meeting. Interior Ministry spokesman Peter Ondera confirmed there were 4.2 kilograms of explosives, saying the devices were "active" but not "let off." In other news, U.S. ambassador to Slovakia Ralph Johnson on 25 March rejected Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota's claim that the U.S is trying to "destroy" developments in Slovakia. Slota had said the U.S. government report on NATO expansion was "a deliberate attempt by the U.S. to influence or destroy developments in Slovakia." Also on 25 March, the Slovak cabinet approved a sum of 147 million crowns for the referenda on Slovakia's NATO membership and on direct presidential elections. -- Anna Siskova HUNGARIAN SECRET SERVICES MINISTER DENIES RESPONSIBILITY IN LATEST SCANDAL. Istvan Nikolits has denied any responsibility in the scandal over the illegal collection of data, Hungarian media reported on 26 March. He said it was only last November that he received an "anonymous tip" that his office had spied on several deputies from 1994-95. He said he launched an investigation and then fired two staff members who had investigated alleged links between deputies and criminal circles. The two agents are currently working abroad--one as a diplomat in Washington and the other under "deep cover." Nikolitis said he was "astonished" that the two agents had worked in Hungary, since they had been assigned for abroad. Magyar Nemzet reports the Hungarian secret service was working to uncover the Slovak, Ukrainian, and Romanian underworld in Hungary when the names of five Socialist deputies came to light. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CONTINUED VIOLENCE IN ALBANIA. At least 13 people were killed in separate incidents in southern Albania and Tirana on 25 March, international media reported. Four of the victims were policemen. A Dutch journalist was admitted to a Greek hospital after being shot in Saranda. Gunmen in Vlora briefly took four Italian doctors hostage and forced them to arrange for a wounded comrade to be evacuated to Italy. The man was seriously injured in the head the previous day in a shoot- out with police that left three officers dead. The doctors were released once the Italians supplied a helicopter to fly the man to Bari for treatment. Italian Defense Minister Beniamino Andreatta said "this shows how difficult it is to operate when there is no security." EU Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Emma Bonino said that failure to intervene in Albania would drive civil disruption beyond the country's borders. -- Fabian Schmidt EU FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET WITH ALBANIAN PREMIER. The EU foreign ministers and Bashkim Fino, meeting in Rome on 25 March, failed to reach agreement on sending a security force to protect aid convoys. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini told reporters that "for the moment, few [EU] countries have shown willingness" to provide troops for such a force. Only Austria, France, Greece, and Italy are willing to participate. A new EU evaluation mission will visit Albania on 26 March to identify humanitarian, administrative, and security needs. Military experts from six countries have already flown to Albania for talks on the possible deployment of a multinational protection force as part of the EU relief mission. Turkey and Romania have expressed willingness to join such a force. -- Fabian Schmidt TWO ALBANIANS KILLED IN KOSOVO. Two ethnic Albanians close to the Serbian regime were killed and a third man wounded in an attack by unidentified gunmen, AFP reported on 26 March. The victims were identified as Jusuf and Fehmiu Halitaj. The incident took place in Sicevo. Responsibility for similar killings has been claimed by the Kosovo Liberation Army. The number of Albanians shot dead in Kosovo this year now totals 12. Six Serbs, mostly policemen, have been killed in separate shootouts. -- Fabian Schmidt ARE BOSNIAN SERB POLICEMEN FIGHTING IN ZAIRE? Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Dragan Kijac on 25 March denied that his ministry has sent policemen to fight in Zaire, AFP reported. But local and international media claim that the Kinshasa government have hired demobilized soldiers and members of special police forces from the Republika Srpska and Serbia to fight in the civil war. Kijac also denied that his ministry is providing papers for Serbs who want to go to Zaire. He said that if some Serbs have gone to Zaire, "such departures took place through independent agencies" and not through his ministry. In other news, a Pakistani Embassy official in Sarajevo said a 140-strong group of mainly Muslim Bosnian army officers will begin training in Pakistan in April as part of a bilateral cooperation program, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic TUDJMAN SAYS SERBS WHO ACCEPT CROATIAN STATE CAN STAY. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, visiting the former front line in Belisce on 25 March, said the Serb minority in Croatia will be guaranteed their rights and state protection if they accept Croatian citizenship, international media reported. "We have to open our arms to Serbs who have not committed war crimes. ... Serbs who stay here will be protected. The Croatian authorities will protect them," AFP quoted Tudjman as saying. But at a rally in Osijek organized by ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), Tudjman was booed when he repeated those remarks. Osijek is home to some of the tens of thousands of refugees who were expelled from eastern Slavonia in 1991, when rebel Serbs captured it. Tudjman promised that refugees could start returning to their homes this year. -- Daria Sito Sucic ZAJEDNO LEADERSHIP WARNS SERBIA COULD BECOME ANOTHER ALBANIA. The leaders of the opposition coalition said there can be no progress as long as Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power. The country could "face Albania's destiny" unless Milosevic goes, they added. But while criticizing Milosevic is nothing new for Zajedno, the leaders on 25 March also began to outline their own alternative political and economic program, AFP reported. "Our economic program consists of proposals for major economic changes--transition and privatization," the opposition's economic expert Miroljub Labus said. The "two major problems for the Serbian economy are unemployment and lack of investment," he continued. "With a dynamic economic program, and new rules and regulations compatible with European laws, we can prepare our country for joining the European Union around 2005," coalition leader Vesna Pesic added. -- Patrick Moore MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER SACKED FROM PARTY JOB. Milo Djukanovic has been ousted as vice president of the governing Socialist Democratic Party (DPS) of Montenegro, AFP reported on 25 March. The move is the latest development in a prolonged controversy in which Djukanovic called on Serbian President Milosevic to resign. Djukanovic is now expected to lose the premiership in a confidence vote, since the DPS has a majority in parliament. President Momir Bulatovic also seems bent on ousting other members of government who favor more autonomy for Montenegro, Nasa Borba notes today. Ongoing tensions between Belgrade and Podgorica reflect a widely-held perception in Montenegro that Milosevic's policies are preventing the revival of the mountain republic's two main sources of income, namely shipping and tourism. -- Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN PREMIER SURVIVES CONFIDENCE VOTE. Branko Crvenskovski survived a confidence vote in Macedonia's parliament on 25 March, AFP and Nova Makedonija reported. He gained support from all parties except the Liberals--who walked out of the session--and the ethnic Albanian PDPA-NDP coalition. Liberal leader Stojan Andov justified his party's boycott of the vote by saying the government has made no progress toward combating organized crime and that the confidence vote is a diversion from the parliament's real work. But Ljupce Georgijevski, head of the nationalist non-parliamentary opposition party VMRO-DPNME, supported Crvenkovski's recent declaration of war against the mafia. He has canceled a general strike scheduled for 27 March. Meanwhile, the head of the Bitola government financial office is under investigation for allegedly transferring public funds to Bitola's TAT savings house, which absconded with $90 million in deposits from 30,000 savers. -- Michael Wyzan ROMANIAN MINISTERS IN U.S. Ulm Spineanu, minister of state in charge of economic reforms, and Minister of Communications Sorin Pantis are currently in the U.S. in a bid to boost U.S. investment in Romania, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington on 25 March. Spineanu will attend the opening of the conference "Romania--The Number One Emerging Market in Eastern Europe" in the U.S. capital later today. Organizers say they had to stop registration because far more investors wanted to participate than originally envisaged, Adevarul reports on 26 March. Meanwhile, Premier Victor Ciorbea's scheduled meeting with Portuguese Premier Antonio Guterres had to be canceled because of "unforeseeable circumstances," Radio Bucharest reported upon his return to Romania. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PREMIER WARNS AGAINST "BULGARIZATION." If Moldova fails to undertake necessary economic reforms over the next few months, the country may follow Bulgaria's path, Deputy Premier Ion Gutu told a round table on structural reforms organized by the World Bank's Moldova office. Gutu said the government was aware that the current crisis can be overcome only through deepening reforms and cooperation with international organizations, Infotag reported on 25 March. World Bank expert Hafez Ghanem said either the country can allow reforms to slow down and find itself in a situation like that of Bulgaria's or it can pursue the Hungarian and Polish models. He said reforms were urgent in the energy, agriculture, and services sectors. "Today's statistics in Moldova resemble those of Bulgaria one year ago," Ghanem said. -- Michael Shafir FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON FUTURE PLANS. Mircea Snegur, addressing a press conference in Chisinau on 25 March, said he will never run again for presidential office and will concentrate his efforts on ensuring that the Party of Revival and Accord wins the parliamentary elections scheduled for 1998, Infotag reported. He also said negotiations were under way for setting up a Democratic Convention of Moldova with forces on the right of the political spectrum. -- Michael Shafir LEGAL PROCEEDINGS LAUNCHED AGAINST FORMER BULGARIAN MINISTER. Vasil Chichibaba, first agriculture minister in the former Socialist government, and three of his deputies have been charged with economic crime, Trud reported on 26 March. In 1995, there was a severe grain shortage because 827,280 tons of grain were exported for 7.14 billion leva ($196.3 at the 1995 average exchange rate of 67.2 leva to $1); later, 198,933 tons had to be imported for 6.46 billion leva. If Chichibaba and his deputies are found responsible for the losses caused to the state budget, they will face up to 10 years in prison. In other news, Interior Ministry Secretary Atanas Atanasov and National Police Director Slavcho Bosilkov said more than 30 contract killings have taken place since 1991. They said authorities know most of the perpetrators but, under current legislation, can neither arrest nor try them. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIA TO BUY RUSSIAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT? Deputy Defense Minister Simeon Petkovski has said Bulgaria is negotiating with Russia about buying 14 MiG-29SM planes and setting up a joint venture to overhaul MiG planes, Reuters reported. Petkovski said Russia offered Bulgaria a $450 million loan to buy the planes and to set up an international service center in Plovdiv. He said both sides agreed in principle, but the loan will have to be approved by the Bulgarian parliament after the 19 April parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, President Petar Stoyanov has appointed his economic adviser Krasimir Angarski as caretaker economics minister, Demokratsiya reported. -- 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 email@example.com 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. 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