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Newsline - October 11, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 198, 11 October 1995
HELICOPTER CRASH IN KAZAKHSTAN.
A helicopter carrying 15 passengers, including seven foreigners, has crashed in the mountains close to Almaty, killing one of the pilots, Interfax reported on 10 October. The helicopter was rented for an excursion by foreign participants attending the international oil and gas exhibition in Almaty. Another Russian-made Mi-8T helicopter crashed on account of bad weather and lightning in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan last week, killing all 15 aboard. -- Bhavna Dave

KAZAKHSTANI-CANADIAN JOINT VENTURE ON GOLD FIELD.
The Princess Resources company of Canada is to sign a contract with two Kazakhstani companies to set up a joint venture for developing Vasilkovskoye, Kazakhstan's largest gold field, located in its northern region, Marat Bitimbaev, the deputy minister of geology of Kazakhstan, told Interfax on 9 October. The venture's charter capital will be equally distributed between Canadian and Kazakhstani companies. Canadian Placer Dome Inc., which was to become the joint venture's main Western partner, refused to participate directly in the project a month ago. Placer Dome sold 27.5% of its shares to Princess Resources and has received a 38% stake in it. Some 382 tons of gold is to be mined in this $275 million project. -- Bhavna Dave

CHEVRON, CASPIAN PIPELINE CONSORTIUM CLASH OVER PIPELINE.
The U.S. company Chevron and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, set up by Kazakhstan, Oman, and Russia in 1992 to implement the project for transporting Kazakhstan's oil to the Russian Black Sea coast, are holding "difficult talks" on the construction of the second phase of the Caspian pipeline, according to a source from Petroleum Information Agency (PIA), Interfax reported on 9 October. Chevron is demanding a proportional share to the size of its investment in the project for building the second phase of the pipeline. The PIA source said that the Russia-Oman dominated Consortium, in which Kazakhstan acts only as observer "under Russia's pressure," had offered Chevron a block of nonvoting shares, and no guarantees of receiving an equivalent profit. The second phase of the $1.2 billion project envisages the construction of a 1,500 km pipeline from the Tenghiz oil field (developed jointly with Chevron) to Tikhoretsk in southern Russia. -- Bhavna Dave

SIX KILLED, THREE TAKEN HOSTAGE IN TAJIKISTAN.
Three Tajik police officers were captured on 9 October by an unidentified armed group, ITAR-TASS and Western sources reported. The officers were abducted in the Garm area, east of Dushanbe, and are believed to be held in an opposition force camp in the mountains. On 10 October, six Russian soldiers were killed and four wounded when a supply convoy was ambushed near Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan region in Tajikistan's southeast. Both Garm and Gorno-Badakhshan have served as bases for guerrillas who continue to fight President Imomali Rakhmonov's government since it took power in late 1992. -- Bruce Pannier



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 198, 11 October 1995
UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL TENDERS RESIGNATION.
Vladyslav Datsiuk, Ukrainian prosecutor-general, has submitted his resignation to President Leonid Kuchma, saying persistent interference by the parliament in his office's activities made it impossible for him to continue, Interfax-Ukraine and Ukrainian TV reported on 10 October. Kuchma must accept his resignation in order for it to take effect. Lawmakers and the president have locked horns over Datsiuk, with the legislature twice voting to fire him. Kuchma supported Datsiuk in his battle with the parliament by issuing a decree confirming him in his post. Datsiuk has led several high profile investigations into alleged criminal activities by top lawmakers who have claimed his actions are politically motivated. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE OPPOSES DEPLOYING NUKES NEAR ITS BORDERS.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko criticized statements by politicians in Eastern Europe welcoming the deployment of NATO nuclear weapons on their territory, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October. Udovenko categorically opposed the deployment of such weapons anywhere close to Ukraine's borders, saying he hoped NATO would not implement the idea since it would complicate the situation in Eastern Europe and threaten improving relations with Russia. Moscow is opposed to any deployment of nuclear weapons close to its borders, while Ukraine worries about becoming a buffer zone between Russia and Europe. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN STUDENTS AGAINST CLOSING SCHOOL MILITARY UNITS.
Reuters on 10 October reported that 1,000 Ukrainian university students demonstrated against closing army sections in their schools. The closure of the school military sections are part of the plan to reduce Ukraine's armed forces from 470,000 to 350,000 by the end of the decade. Students are opposed to the closure because it would mean they could no longer avoid serving an 18-month tour in the army after they finish their studies. Students who were officers at their school's military section do not have to serve in the armed forces after completing their studies. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN PREMIER EXPECTS INTERIOR MINISTER TO RESIGN.
Tiit Vahi, during an official visit to Denmark on 10 October, said he expected Edgar Savisaar to resign because of charges that he was involved in the electronic bugging of top political leaders, Reuters reported. The leaders of the three main opposition parties issued a joint statement calling for the resignations of both Vahi and Savisaar for not fulfilling their duties as leaders of the state after Savisaar failed to attend a cabinet meeting he was supposed to chair. The assertion by Vilja Laanaru, a Savisaar advisor, that she had made the recordings without Savisaar's knowledge is not generally believed. -- Saulius Girnius

UPDATE ON LATVIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS.
The Latvian Central Electoral Commission on 10 October finally released an unofficial list of deputies who were elected to the sixth Saeima, BNS reported. No explanation for the long delay in announcing the results of the voting on 30 September-1 October was given and the results might even change slightly after the inclusion of votes from abroad in the Riga district. Only 40 of the 100 new deputies were members of the fifth Saeima. The number of deputies with dual citizenship has fallen from 18 to three, while the number of women deputies has declined from 14 to eight. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH GOVERNMENT ON CONCORDAT.
The Polish government on 10 October debated the draft of a joint declaration with the Episcopate on the Concordat, which has been awaiting ratification since July 1993 when it was signed by Hanna Suchocka's government. The current government considers that the Concordat was signed too hastily at the time. The main points of contention are the requirement to inform Birth, Marriages, and Death Registration Offices about Church marriages; the burial of non-believers in Church- administered cemeteries, religious instruction in kindergartens, and government financing of the Papal Theological Academy in Krakow, Polish press reported on 11 October. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH INFLATION IN SEPTEMBER.
Following two months of zero inflation, consumer prices in the Czech Republic rose 0.9% in September, the Statistics Office announced on 10 October. Increases in meat prices and heating accounted for much of the rise. Compared with September 1994, inflation is 8.6%. In the first three quarters of 1995, prices have risen 5.9%, but Czech National Bank officials said they expected inflation to increase in the final quarter to give a figure of 9%-10% for the whole of 1995. -- Steve Kettle

ROMANI COUPLE ATTACKED IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
Some 10 skinheads armed with baseball bats and heavy sticks attacked a Romani couple who were waiting for a bus in Breclav on 7 October, Nova TV reported two days later. Both sustained serious head injuries, and the man had an eye removed in a Brno hospital. Nova TV said Breclav Roma were angry that the police were not offering them better protection. Four of the attackers, aged 16-21, have been charged with violence and assault, CTK reported on 10 October. -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK EXTRAORDINARY PARLIAMENT SESSION LASTS SEVEN MINUTES.
An extraordinary parliament session on 10 October was cut short when deputies failed to approve the opposition's proposed agenda, Slovak media reported. The session was called by the opposition to address the conflict between the police and the Slovak Information Service over the abduction of the president's son. Of the 141 deputies present, 62 voted in favor and 69 against, while nine coalition deputies abstained. Following the vote, parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic terminated the session, and opposition parties called a meeting. Three opposition groups--the Democratic Union, Christian Democratic Movement, and Hungarian coalition--issued a joint statement demanding that Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek support the police force, which came under attack from SIS director Ivan Lexa after police investigators connected SIS agents with the case. -- Sharon Fisher

PRESIDENT SUES SLOVENSKA REPUBLIKA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF.
President Michal Kovac's office on 10 October filed a complaint with the prosecutor-general charging Slovenska Republika editor-in-chief Jan Smolec with slander in connection with the paper's publication of two bank statements allegedly for an account held by the president. Gerhard Karasek, spokesman of the Raiffeisen Zentralbank AG, told TASR on 10 October that both bank statements were forged. Smolec responded to Karasek's statement by saying he understands every bank "protects its client," especially one with deposits over 23 million schillings. A Narodna obroda report on 11 October showed that the statements were clearly typed on two different typewriters and that the word "account number" was used in two different forms. -- Sharon Fisher

CABINET RESHUFFLE IMMINENT IN HUNGARY?
Labor Minister Magda Kosa-Kovacs's resignation has triggered widespread speculation that a major reshuffle of Hungary's coalition cabinet is imminent, Reuters reported on 10 October. The Socialist minister resigned over cabinet moves to push through the Socialist-majority parliament a sick leave plan ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1995). She told Hungarian journalists that she does not doubt the professional integrity of any minister but that she believes the Finance Ministry's "excessive powers" are causing severe operational difficulties. Justice Minister Pal Vastagh, who is also a member of the Socialist Party, threatened to quit if the cabinet continued to push through the controversial sick leave plan. Socialist ministers have been increasingly critical of the cabinet since the severe austerity package was launched in March. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 198, 11 October 1995
ALLIES CLOSE IN ON BANJA LUKA.
Reuters on 11 October reported that the allied forces of the Bosnian government, the Bosnian Croats, and Croatia have taken two key western Bosnian towns. With the fall of Mrkonjic Grad and Sanski Most, the way again appears open for a thrust toward the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka. Novi list quoted the chief of the Bosnian general staff, General Ferid Buljubasic, as praising the effectiveness of the cooperation between the three allies. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, water and power have been or are being restored, as demanded by the government. The Bosnian Serbs on 10 October said they were ready to implement the ceasefire at one minute after midnight on that day or the next but had no authorization to accept the government's offer of implementation on 12 October. Clarification is expected soon. -- Patrick Moore

CROATS FIND MASS GRAVE IN KRAJINA.
The BBC on 10 October quoted UN officials as saying they fear that the Serbs in western Bosnia will now panic and flee as they did in Krajina in early August, setting off another mass exodus. Novi list on 11 October cited remarks by UN spokesman Chris Jankowski about his concern that many Muslim and Croatian men in northern Bosnia have been killed by Serbian units under the command of internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan." Reuters the previous day said that Croatian officials have unearthed the mass grave of up to 50 elderly Croats, killed by the Serbs in 1991. Two eye-witnesses of the massacre were present at the exhumation in Petrinja. -- Patrick Moore

YASUSHI AKASHI RESIGNS.
The latest UN special negotiator for the former Yugoslavia has taken his hat, telling the BBC that he and the UN have been made scapegoats for the intractable nature of the conflict. Akashi will be replaced by another prominent UN official who has dealt with the region, Ghana's Kofi Annan. The Bosnian government welcomed Akashi's departure, telling Reuters on 10 October: "Akashi's replacement can only bring a change for the better, and it could be the beginning of a new phase of better relations between the Bosnian government and the UN. Given Akashi's past record, especially his persistence in equating the victim and aggressor, one can understand why the Bosnian government welcomes this decision." -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN OPPOSITION BLASTS GOVERNMENT TV.
The election coalition of five opposition parties held a press conference on 8 October to protest the decision by Croatian Television (HRTV) to treat them as a coalition, rather than five separate parties. They are now entitled to only one bloc of free air-time. Election Commission President Krunislav Olujic said that since they have not been legally registered as a coalition, the opposition parties have the right to present themselves individually in the electronic media, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 11 October. The leading opposition Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) also protested HRTV's ban on its video clips, which TV officials called "meaningless," HINA reported on 11 October. The HSLS's clips have also been banned by the company that owns most movie theaters. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN COMPROMISE.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler said on Slovenian TV that the contents of a Slovenian-Italian compromise proposal could lead to improved bilateral relations, BETA reported on 10 October. For his part, Thaler remarked that Slovenia was prepared to "return to Italy" some 40 housing units that had belonged to ethnic Italians forced to leave Slovenia in the wake of World War II. He added that a full resolution of all outstanding questions was bound to the issue of the status of Italy's ethnic Slovenian minority. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN NATIONALIST GENERAL DISMISSED FROM ARMY.
Paul Cheler, commander of the Fourth Transylvanian Army, has been dismissed and placed on reserve, Romanian media reported on 10-11October. Cheler is well known for his extreme nationalist, particularly anti-Hungarian, views. At a press conference in Cluj on 9 October (which in itself is a breach of the military code), Cheler protested his dismissal and attacked the reforms under way in the Romanian army. His remarks were reminiscent of a letter published last summer by 300 military in the weekly of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party. The letter, which some media speculate was inspired by Cheler, was considered to be an instigation to revolt against President Ion Iliescu, whom the signatories accused of undermining the Romanian army. Cheler threatened to sue those responsible for his dismissal for allegedly failing to observe army regulations that generals placed on reserve must be announced six month ahead of their retirement. -- Michael Shafir

UPDATE ON ILIESCU CONFLICT WITH EXTREME NATIONALISTS.
Evenimentul zilei on 11 October reported that the Prosecutor-General's office has opened an investigation into articles published in Romania mare and Politica by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the Greater Romania Party (PRM). The office is to decide whether to recommend to lift Tudor's parliamentary immunity, making possible his prosecution for having offended President Ion Iliescu. Curierul national reports that Oliviu Gherman, chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and Ion Solcanu, a vice chairman of the party, are in favor of ending the alliance with the PRM. -- Michael Shafir

SZUROS ON HUNGARIAN MINORITY IN ROMANIA.
Matyas Szuros, Hungary's first post-communist president and currently leader of the Hungarian parliamentary delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Bucharest, said the 2 million ethnic Hungarians are fighting for their survival in Romania, Radio Bucharest reported on 10 October. He noted that Romania's new education law discriminated against ethnic Hungarians and was a step backward in comparison with previous laws. He went on to say that the "historic reconciliation" between Hungary and Romania "is inconceivable as long as there is no reconciliation between the Romanian majority and ethnic Hungarians." Interviewed by Reuters, Szuros spoke of ethnic Hungarians' collective rights and recommended the creation of "enclaves" in eastern Transylvania, where Hungarians form a compact majority. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVAN STUDENTS TO RESUME STRIKE.
Moldovan students and teachers are to resume their strike on 18 October to demand the government's dismissal, strike chairman Anatol Petrencu told Infotag on 10 October. The student strike began last spring, with the initial demand to rename the official language from "Moldovan" to Romanian; later, economic and social claims were made. After President Mircea Snegur submitted to the parliament his initiative on renaming the official language, the students suspended their strike. The moratorium on protest actions introduced in the spring cannot continue because the government is ignoring the strikers' economic demands, Petrencu said. -- Matyas Szabo

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA.
Arpad Goncz arrived in Sofia on 9 October for an official three-day visit, Bulgarian and Hungarian media reported the following day. "Both Bulgaria and Hungary wish to participate in the post-war reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia," Goncz and his Bulgarian counterpart, Zhelyu Zhelev, said following the first day of talks aimed at strengthening bilateral ties. During discussions on EU membership, Goncz said Hungary would share with Bulgaria its experience in negotiating with European organizations and could assist in Bulgaria's admission to CEFTA and other European organizations. Zhelev said that, instead of competing, the two countries must help each other to achieve integration into European structures. -- Zsofia Szilagyi and Stefan Krause

EU GIVES ALBANIA $22 MILLION GRANT.
The European Union has approved 17.5 million ecu ($22 million) grant to Albania as part of the PHARE regional development program. It will be used, among other things, to improve economic and social conditions. Meanwhile, President Sali Berisha said his government has to step up the pace of economic reform to ensure success for the Democratic Party in the spring 1996 parliamentary elections. Reuters the previous day quoted him as praising "great economic changes in Albania, especially the resolution of foreign debt, rises in average salaries, privatization and production." -- Fabian Schmidt

GREECE TO LIFT EMBARGO ON MACEDONIA ON WEEKEND.
Greek government spokesman Tylemachos Hytiris has announced that Athens will lift its blockade on Macedonia on 15 October, Reuters reported on 10 October. Talks in Skopje between Greek and Macedonian officials on measures regarding trade and the movement of citizens "are being completed," he said. Greece has sent police officers to Macedonia to help investigate the assassination attempt on Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov. Gligorov's condition, according to Nova Makedonija on 11 October, continues to improve and an operation on his right eye went "according to plan." He remains in intensive care, however. Meanwhile, the country's Security Council issued a statement saying the country is stable and its politics remain on course--under tightened security. -- Stefan Krause

TURKISH PREMIER-DESIGNATE PRESENTS GOVERNMENT PROGRAM.
Tansu Ciller on 10 October presented her minority government's program to the parliament, Turkish and international media reported the same day. The five principle aims are a new election law, democratization, the revision of Article 8 of the constitution (which bans separatist propaganda), privatization, and anti-corruption measures. Ciller also wants to conclude Turkey's customs union deal with the EU. She said her government was committed to a comprehensive dialogue with Greece to resolve outstanding problems. Meanwhile, the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Turk-Is) rejected Ciller's latest pay raise offer and called a rally to coincide with the vote of confidence in the premier-designate on October 15. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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