|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 61, Part II, 27 March 1997
No. 61, Part II, 27 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 CABINET RESHUFFLE TO RESUME IN UKRAINE? Security Council Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin said President Leonid Kuchma will fire Viktor Chebrov and Bohdan Babii, the heads of the top nuclear and energy bodies, because of electricity supply non-payments, shortage of nuclear fuel, and monopolization of the energy sector, Reuters reported on 26 March. The Ukrainian Trade Union Federation has appealed to Kuchma to dismiss Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, ITAR-TASS reported. In his 21 March address to the nation, Kuchma accused Lazarenko and his cabinet of incompetence. Last month, Kuchma fired several ministers responsible for the economy. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev CONFLICTING UKRAINIAN VIEWS ON NATO. Ukrainian parliament speaker Oleksander Moroz said in Budapest that the countries that plan to join NATO soon will not play key roles in the organization, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 March. The possibility of Ukraine joining NATO or having a special partnership "is not a problem of practical politics now," he said. Meanwhile, leader of the conservative Rukh (People's Movement) Vyacheslav Chornovil called on the government to apply for NATO membership immediately, Ukrainian television reported. Chornovil said NATO membership would solve the problems of Crimea and Sevastopol and other territorial claims to Ukraine. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev U.S. EXPELS BELARUSIAN DIPLOMAT IN RETALIATION. Vladimir Gramyka, first secretary and consul of the Belarusian diplomatic mission to Washington, was expelled from the U.S. on 26 March, international agencies reported. The measure was a response to the recent expulsion of a U.S. diplomat, Serge Aleksandrov, from Belarus after he was detained at an anti- president demonstration in Minsk. State Department spokesman John Dinger expressed concerns about the deterioration in U.S.-Belarusian relations but did not rule out further action by the U.S. Meanwhile, the newly appointed Belarusian ambassador to the U.S., Valery Tsepkalo, who was on his way to Washington, was recalled for consultation during a stop-over in Frankfurt. That move followed a similar recall of the U.S. ambassador to Belarus, Kenneth Yalowitz. -- Sergei Solodovnikov BELARUS CLAMPS DOWN ON FOREIGN MEDIA. The Belarusian government announced on 26 March it would issue stricter regulations for foreign media, AFP reported. The decision came as the diplomatic row with the U.S. intensified. Government spokesman Ivan Pashkevich said the new rules would apply to all current accreditations and renewals would not be forthcoming. The move will primarily affect Russian journalists; all three Russian television networks have been banned from transmitting footage from Minsk. -- Sergei Solodovnikov FIVE U.S. CONGRESSMEN VISIT ESTONIA. A delegation of three Republicans and two Democrats, headed by Gerald Solomon, began a three-day visit to Estonia on 26 March, BNS reported. Solomon, one of the most ardent supporters of the Baltic states in the House of Representatives, in January submitted a bill to the Foreign Affairs Committee recommending Baltic integration into NATO as soon as they meet alliance standards. The delegation has scheduled meetings with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Mart Siimann, Foreign Ministry and parliament officials to discuss NATO expansion, regional security, and bilateral relations. The representatives will travel to Latvia on 28 March. -- Saulius Girnius PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE APPROVES CANDIDATE FOR LITHUANIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL. The Seimas Law and Order Committee on 26 March decided to nominate Kazys Pednycia as prosecutor general, Radio Lithuania reported. The 46-year-old lawyer, who has served as a deputy municipal prosecutor, head of customs, and deputy director of state security, had been proposed by Justice Minister Vytautas Pakalniskis. The Seimas is expected to confirm the nomination. President Algirdas Brazauskas, from whom the Seimas took away the right to nominate the prosecutor general earlier in the month, said he will approve Pednycia's candidacy. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH CONSTITUTION CLOSE TO FINAL STAGE. The Constitutional Commission of the Polish parliament accepted on 26 March most of President Aleksander Kwasniewski's 41 amendments to the constitution that was adopted by the National Assembly on 22 March. The National Assembly will vote on the amendments on 2 April. The commission accepted limitations of parliamentarians' immunity, as well as the president's prerogative to nominate the chief of the General Staff and the commanders in chief of the army, air force, and navy. In a public opinion poll conducted 8-11 March, 72% of respondents said they will vote in the referendum on the constitution tentatively scheduled for 25 May. Some 34% supported the draft prepared by the National Assembly, while 28% supported that prepared by Solidarity Electoral Action (although only the National Assembly's draft will be put on referendum). -- Jakub Karpinski SOLIDARITY ELECTORAL ACTION ELECTS LEADERSHIP. Solidarity Electoral Action (SAW), uniting some two dozen right-of-center parties, elected on 26 March as its vice presidents Solidarity deputy chairman Janusz Tomaszewski, Christian-National Union president Marian Pilka, Confederation for Independent Poland president Adam Slomka, and president of the Federation of Catholic Families' Associations Kazimierz Kapera. Solidarity chairman Marian Krzaklewski is SAW president. The Center Alliance (PC) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski withdrew his candidacy for the SAW vice presidency although the PC is one of the strongest parties in the SAW. In a 22-23 March poll, 29% of respondents supported the SAW, 25% the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance, 12% the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party, 12% the opposition Freedom Union, and 10% the opposition Movement for Poland's Reconstruction. -- Jakub Karpinski U.S. SENATOR ON NATO EXPANSION. Joseph Biden, a ranking Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, said in Prague that any decision to expand NATO eastward will face a tough test in the U.S. Congress, RFE/RL reported on 26 March. Biden said he assumes the NATO summit in July will invite the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia to start entry negotiations. But he warned that senators will want assurances that prospective members maintain democratic institutions, respect civil and minority rights, and keep their military forces under civilian control. Candidates will have to show ability to absorb the costs of joining the alliance and operate on equal terms with the current members. Biden said some senators and representatives are hesitant to support expansion. But he noted that the alliance has already made the decision to do so. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Culture Minister Ivan Hudec on 26 March pledged to renew talks with cultural trade unions by mid-April, CTK reported. The announcement followed talks between representatives of the government, unions, and employers--the first tripartite talks held in more than a month. Also on 26 March, Jozef Migas denied allegations that his campaign for the chairmanship of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) was financed by his friend, Lubomir Kanis, a member of the Russian-Slovak Devin banka's board of directors. The allegations, published by Sme on 26 March, came from a source within the SDL. Migas was a virtually unknown figure when he was elected SDL chairman in April 1996. Finally, Prosecutor General Michal Valo on 26 March sent a letter to opposition Democratic Union deputy Viliam Vaskovic saying that the National Property Fund (FNM) "is not required to act in the public interest." He also said his office cannot monitor or control the FNM. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN FARMER PROTEST LACKS SUPPORT. A protest by Hungarian farmers who had planned to block road traffic at border crossings failed when only a few hundred farmers showed up, Hungarian media reported on 27 March. Although rallies were held in the southern and southeastern regions, most farmers ignored the call by the farmers union Metesz to block nationwide border routes with tractors and agricultural implements. Following loud protests earlier this month, the Hungarian parliament on 25 March adopted a law designed to lower income taxes and farmers' social security contributions. Since then, Metesz has presented the government with a new series of demands, including advantageous bank loans for farmers and measures to protect Hungarian agriculture from European competition. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DEATH TOLL RISES IN ALBANIA. A 35-year-old man was killed on the spot and a six-year-old child died later in hospital when a gunman opened fire on a public bus on 26 March near the village of Sauk, just south of Tirana, AFP reported. Six others were wounded. The motive for the attack was unknown. The Interior Ministry said violence throughout the country that day left 11 people dead, most killed by stray bullets or in vendetta attacks; a five-year-old child was killed while playing with a grenade that exploded. The death toll for the unrest has now reached over 160. In Vlora, the national bank was ransacked and blown up; the building was empty after the bank was closed down last month. Meanwhile, Italy deported around 200 Albanian "undesirables," bringing the total number of deported suspected criminals to 900. -- Fabian Schmidt OSCE FAILS TO ISSUE MANDATE FOR MILITARY ACTION. Six EU nations, who have sent military experts to Albania to spearhead work for a possible security force to protect aid, suffered a setback after they failed to secure an international green light for their plan. The OSCE failed to approve a mandate for a military mission at talks in Vienna on 26 March. Reuters quoted one diplomat as saying "the meeting ended in disarray." France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, and Greece may now get bogged down in seeking authority from the UN or take the riskier step of going in alone. Turkey and Romania have also expressed willingness to take part. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino insisted that any foreign forces would be "very small" and would help keep open the ports of Vlora and Durres and protect Rinas airport. -- Fabian Schmidt 'SPECIAL FORCES' TO HUNT WAR CRIMINALS IN BOSNIA? The current chair of Bosnia's joint presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, said after meeting in Washington with U.S. President Bill Clinton: "We received clear assurances that the war criminals will be brought to justice." He said his impression is that "special forces" will be used, international media reported on 26 March. Izetbegovic once again raised his concerns about poor implementation of the Dayton agreement, including the failure to arrest war criminals. SFOR and the international police have avoided arresting war criminals lest the NATO forces suffer casualties. -- Patrick Moore UN OFFICIAL IN CHARGE OF FINDING MISSING YUGOSLAV WAR VICTIMS QUITS. Austria's Manfred Nowak, the head of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, resigned on 26 March to protest a lack of cooperation with his office, international media reported. He said that, while most of the missing in Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina are presumed dead, it is necessary to clarify their fates for the sake of their families and of long-term peace. Nowak found, however, that the international community has failed to come up with sufficient money for his group to continue its work, and that Belgrade, Pale, and SFOR are less than cooperative. The Austrian jurist added that there are still 20,000 missing in Bosnia, most of whom are Muslim men and boys. In Croatia, 5,000 persons are unaccounted for from the 1991 war, plus 1,000 federal Yugoslav soldiers from that same time as well as 2,000 Serbs from the time of the 1995 Croatian offensives. -- Patrick Moore UNHCR BLASTS GERMAN DEPORTATION OF BOSNIANS. The UN's main refugee agency criticized Bavaria for sending 44 people back to Bosnia with little or no concern for their well-being, Reuters reported on 26 March. A UNHCR statement said that "some of these people were woken up in the middle of the night and forced onto the flight back to Sarajevo," where nine of them had to sleep at a transit center since they have no relatives there. Bosnian officials said that Germany was treating refugees like criminals and showing no concern for what awaited them back in Bosnia. The Bavarian government and the Berlin authorities have been particularly zealous in seeking to deport the refugees because of domestic political considerations. During the war, Germany took in more refugees from the former Yugoslavia than did any other EU country. -- Patrick Moore ROUNDUP FROM THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. An ethnic Serbian family was expelled over the weekend from their home in Croatia's Knin area. VOA reported on 26 March that an angry crowd and a local official forced the recently returned refugees out despite pledges by President Franjo Tudjman to protect Serbs. Elsewhere in Croatia, the exhumation of mass graves has begun again with the return of spring weather. In Belgrade, taxi drivers and truckers blocked roads for seven hours to protest high income taxes and vehicle import duties, Nasa Borba wrote. -- Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN LONDON CLUB DEAL SIGNED. The debt-reduction and -rescheduling agreement between Macedonia and the London Club of commercial creditors- -reached on 24 October 1996--was signed in London on 26 March, Nova Makedonija reported. According to Finance Minister Taki Fiti, the deal reduces Macedonia's obligations from $644 million to $228.7 million. The reduction is larger than the $364 million envisioned in October because of the strengthening of the dollar since then and because some of the debt has been repurchased by federal Yugoslavia's national bank. Macedonia accepted 5.4% of the principal on former Yugoslavia's debt to the club (3.7% of the interest); in earlier agreements, Slovenia had accepted 18% and Croatia 29.5%. The agreement reschedules the debt over 15 years with a four-year grace period. -- Michael Wyzan KING MIHAI PLEADS FOR ROMANIAN NATO MEMBERSHIP. In London on 25 March, former King Mihai said Romania meets all NATO membership criteria and warned that excluding it from the alliance's first expansion could provoke problems throughout Eastern Europe, Reuters reported. The former monarch said that admitting Hungary while leaving out Romania could lead to the deterioration of ties between the two countries and jeopardize Bucharest's efforts to conclude with Ukraine a similar treaty as that concluded with Budapest. On a related matter, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin, paying a two-day visit to Portugal, discussed Romania's quest for admission to NATO in the first wave with his Portuguese counterpart, Jaime Gama. Portugal is the seventh NATO country to express support for Romania's admission, Romanian television reported. -- Michael Shafir NEW DEMAND FOR ANTONESCU'S REHABILITATION. Justin Tambozie, a senator representing the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), asked Prosecutor General Nicolae Cochinescu to begin procedures for the rehabilitation of Romanian wartime fascist leader Marshal Ion Antonescu, who was executed in 1946, Romania libera reported on 26 March. A similar demand was repeatedly made by PUNR deputy Petre Turlea. Tambozie also demanded that the government erect a commemorative statue of Antonescu. Three such statutes have already been erected by private sponsors. -- Michael Shafir OSCE MOLDOVAN REPRESENTATIVES NOT ADMITTED TO COMMISSION. Police in the Transdniester breakaway region banned representatives of the OSCE mission from entering the town of Tighina-Bendery to attend the sitting of the Joint Control Commission (JCC), which includes Moldovan, Transdniester, Russian, and OSCE representatives. The Transdniestrian representatives said the OSCE representatives do not have a mandate, as the agreement on cooperation between the JCC and the OSCE expired on 7 February, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 25 March. However, the agreement provides for automatic extension if the sides do not suggest modifications or completion. The meeting was canceled. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PARTY MOVES INTO 'CONSTRUCTIVE OPPOSITION.' The Socialist Unity-Edinstvo faction in the Moldovan parliament announced on 26 March that it was moving into "constructive opposition," Infotag reported. The faction was the second largest represented in parliament after the 1994 elections but it shrank after several deputies joined other parties. The announcement did not specify what will happen with the Socialist Unity- Edinstvo representatives in the executive. Reflecting the discontent of the party's many ethnic Russians, it said that the government's "once- promised principle of professionalism has been replaced by an ethnocratic approach." It also criticized President Petru Lucinschi for refusing to sign the memorandum for the settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict. -- Michael Shafir HEAD OF BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION AGENCY SACKED. The board of the Privatization Agency on 26 March dismissed the agency's executive director, Veselin Blagoev, Kontinent reported. Chairman of the board Yosif Iliev said Blagoev, who was appointed by the previous Socialist government, "lacked sufficient initiative and flexibility." Blagoev's deputy, Iliya Dimov, will fill in until a successor is named next week, Iliev said. In other news, Demokratsiya reported that President Petar Stoyanov said the interim government has "not yet fulfilled its task of purging corrupt officials." He said he will bring up the matter at his next meeting with Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski. Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov had complained to Stoyanov about "illegal dismissals" of officials in the state administration and the state-owned industry. -- Stefan Krause INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO SUBSIDIZE BULGARIAN WAGES, PENSIONS. Bulgaria's interim government has agreed to create by the end of June a system for social protection with expenditures subsidized by the budget, IMF, World Bank, and EU, Demokratsiya reported. A donors conference in Brussels on 8-9 April will come up with a figure for such assistance. Bulgaria has agreed that all subsidies will go to households, not enterprises or budgetary organizations, and it has agreed to ensure sufficient budget revenue to increase wages, pensions, and social payments. The average monthly wage is to reach $72 in April and $112 in December, the average pension $22.5 in April and $34 in December. The only international assistance provided so far for Bulgaria's social- protection system as its government introduces radical reforms has been ECU 22 million ($25.5 million) from the EU. -- 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. 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. 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