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Newsline - October 17, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 202, 17 October 1995
OPPOSITION TO BOYCOTT KAZAKHSTANI ELECTIONS?
At an 11 October meeting in Almaty chaired by Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the former speaker of the previous Kazakhstani legislature, several opposition groups expressed concerns about participating in what many called the "illegitimate" December parliamentary elections, according to a 12 October Kazakhstani TV report cited by Interfax. The leaders of Azat, the Workers' Movement, and the Social Democratic Party stated that "the complete dependence of the future parliament on the executive structures" will thwart its functioning as a "full-fledged legislative body." Communist Party members who were also present at the meeting said they will contest the elections. -- Bhavna Dave

NEARLY 55% OF GEORGIANS SUPPORT SHEVARDNADZE.
Recent opinion polls show that nearly 55% of Georgians support the candidacy of Eduard Shevardnadze in the 5 November presidential elections, according to a Kontakt news agency 17 October report cited by the BBC. Former Communist Party leader Dzhumber Patiashvili is running at 17% in the polls and the other four candidates have no more than 3-4% each. As for the parliamentary elections, the Georgian National Democratic Party is in first, followed by Shevardnadze's Union of Citizens of Georgia. -- Irakli Tsereteli

AKAEV PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON STATUS OF RUSSIAN.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has proposed holding a referendum on 24 December over whether to grant state language status to Russian placing it on an equal footing with Kyrgyz, Kabar reported on 12 October. The referendum would coincide with the presidential elections. At his news conference, Akaev said one of his main tasks upon re-election is "to come closer to Russia and to reduce the emigration of the Russian-speaking population." -- Bhavna Dave

UZBEKISTAN TO JOIN CIS CUSTOMS UNION.
Uzbekistan will join the CIS Customs Union founded by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in January 1995, Radio Mayak reported on 15 October. The move followed Kyrgyzstan's entry into the union last month. Although the details are still to be worked out, the union will ostensibly allow for free trade among the states. Kazakhstan, for example, agreed to lift customs control along the Russian border in September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 September 1995). -- Roger Kangas

NEW DEFENSE MINISTER APPOINTED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev has appointed General Alibek Kasymov to the post of defense minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October. The 41-year-old former first deputy minister and chief of the main headquarters has been in the Kazakhstani army since 1992 and earlier served in the Baltic and Transcaucasian military districts. He is a graduate of M.V. Frunze Military Academy. The previous defense minister, General Sagadat Nurmagametov, has become an adviser to the president. The new appointment is the latest development in Nazarbaev's ongoing cabinet reshuffle (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 October 1995). -- Vyacheslav Kozlov

HOUSE RULES IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Another complication has arisen for Kyrgyz presidential candidates: they must gather 50,000 signatures that must be collected from each of Kyrgyzstan's seven regions in proportion to that region's share of the total number of voters in the country. The requirement places some candidates at a disadvantage, as they may be well known in their own regions but little known in other areas. The rule was adopted for use in referenda and when it was voted on in the Legislative Assembly it caused "a storm of indignation," according to a Kabar report cited by the BBC. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service reported that several deputies walked out in protest saying the Central Electoral Commission had exceeded its authority. -- Bruce Pannier



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 202, 17 October 1995
UKRAINE'S SOCIAL WELFARE SYSTEM IN NEED OF REFORM.
Participants of a World Bank roundtable in Kiev in which Ukrainian government officials also took part concluded that the parliament's recent decision to raise the country's poverty threshold underscores the need to overhaul the social welfare system and accelerate the pace of privatization, Radio Ukraine reported on 16 October. Officials pointed to recent government statistics indicating that some 90% of the population require social protection, chiefly because of low and unpaid wages in the still huge state sector, and that the country lacks a stable middle class. Deputy Finance Minister Volodymyr Matviichuk said the government needed to limit direct welfare payments to the poorest segments and reinvest the savings into industry to raise production and earnings. Interfax-Ukraine quoted Matviichuk as warning this year's budget deficit could reach 8.1% of GDP because of the large amount of uncollected revenues and the slow pace of privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN UKRAINE.
Ukrainian Radio on 16 October reported on Ministry of Statistics data showing that foreign investment in the first half of 1995 totaled $566 million, of which 62% went to Kiev, Donetsk, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, and Lviv Oblasts. The bulk of foreign investment was used to buy enterprises undergoing privatization. Despite fears in some quarters that the country is about to be bought up and exploited by foreigners, the ministry was positive about the effects of foreign participation in privatization. Most of the privatized enterprises are reportedly functioning more effectively, employing additional workers, and paying higher wages. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER DISMISSED.
Belarusian Interior Minister Yurii Zakharenko was dismissed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 16 October, Reuters reported. Recently, there had been rumors of his imminent dismissal. While no official reason was given for his removal, it is believed to be connected with the disclosure that 3,000 policemen quit after Lukashenka passed a decree depriving them of various privileges, including free public transport, rent subsidies, and tax breaks. Security Council head Viktar Sheiman has been appointed to replace Zakharenka. This latest dismissal leaves KGB Chairman Uladzimir Yahorau as the only head of a power ministry to have remained in office since July 1994, when Lukashenka made the appointments. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER CHALLENGES PRESIDENTIAL DECREES.
Interfax on 15 October reported that Belarusian parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb has said he plans to ask the Constitutional Court to consider the legality of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's recent government appointments. Lukashenka last week named Leanid Sinitsyn and Vasil Dauleheu as deputy prime ministers and made Mikhail Myasnikovich head of the president's administration. He also appointed Leanid Maltseu as defense minister. Hryb claims that deputy prime ministers and power ministers can be appointed only with the consent of the parliament, which has not approved the appointments. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUS RESUMES ARMS REDUCTIONS, BUT MONEY SHORT.
Belarus on 16 October resumed destroying conventional weapons under the CFE treaty. Arms reductions should have been completed by November but were suspended in February because Minsk did not have the funds to continue. Reuters reported that the head of the Belarusian Defense Ministry's arms control agency, Mikhail Volachkau, said Minsk would not be able to meet the deadline since there is enough money to cover only a third of the last stage of arms reductions. -- Ustina Markus

GERMAN ARMED FORCES COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF VISITS ESTONIA.
General Klaus Naumann in Tallinn on 16 October promised President Lennart Meri that Germany would continue to assist in training Estonian military officers, BNS reported. Defense Minister Andrus Oovel presented Naumann with an Estonian defense concept that will be presented to the parliament. He also asked for aid for developing Estonia's air control and monitoring system. Naumann had meetings with his Estonian counterpart, Lt. Gen. Aleksander Einseln, and parliament deputy chairman Arnold Ruutel. He left for Latvia on 17 October. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW POLISH ORGANIZATION FORMED IN LITHUANIA.
A new public organization, the Congress of Lithuanian Poles, was founded on 14 October in Vilnius, RFE/RL reported on 16 October. One of its founders, former Supreme Council deputy Czeslaw Okinczyc, said the organization will not be involved in political protests but will seek more constructive ties and close cooperation with the country's authorities. It will thus play a sharply different role from that of the Union of Lithuanian Poles. Okinczyc and Seimas deputy Artur Plokszto became members of the organization's program council, which will be headed by a Vilnius high school director. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PREMIER, FOREIGN MINISTER IN DISCORD.
Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski told reporters on 15 October that Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy has obstructed the nomination of several ambassadors and undersecretaries of state at the Foreign Ministry. Bartoszewski added that such nominations are the prerogative of the foreign minister. Gazeta Wyborcza on 17 October suggested that the conflict might have been stoked by former employees of the ministry who now work for the premier. The prime minister's spokesperson said Bartoszewski's statement came as a surprise to the prime minister's office and can be seen within the context of the forthcoming presidential elections. Gazeta Wyborcza commented that Bartoszewski does not want to resign but wants to regain control over diplomatic affairs. -- Jakub Karpinski and Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS LOSE SUPPORT.
Opinion polls published in Czech dailies on 17 October show the ruling Civic Democratic Party (ODS) increasing its lead over the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD). According to the Institute for Public Opinion Research (IVVM), the ODS has a steady 27% support, while the CSSD dropped to 18% this month. The gap was narrowest in August (25% to 23%), prompting discussion that the CSSD will mount a serious challenge in next June's elections. The Center for Empirical Research put the ODS on 28% and CSSD on 20% (27% and 23%, respectively, in August). According to IVVM, the present coalition would win, with a majority sufficient to make constitutional changes, if elections were held now. IVVM put the Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party, expected to be the powerbroker after the elections, in third place with 8%, ahead of the Communists (7%) and Civic Democratic Alliance (6%). -- Steve Kettle

MORE PERSONNEL PURGES IN SLOVAKIA.
Maria Klimova, director of the Foreign Ministry personnel department, said in Bratislava on 12 October that preparations have been made for the dismissal of "the first batch of ambassadors," Pravda reported two days later. According to Klimova, this step is the result of "unfinished work" assigned to the ambassadors at an April meeting in Bratislava. Klimova complained that although the ambassadors were asked to help improve Slovakia's image, particularly in the media, some have not reacted to "shocking" articles aimed against Slovakia. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jozef Sestak, in an interview with Slovak Radio on 16 October, said that in his ministry, "it is an absolutely common matter that people come and go." Defending "the good name" of Slovakia is not only the basic responsibility of diplomats but also of every citizen, Sestak stressed. Sme on 14 October reported that another wave of dismissals of hospital directors has begun and that Slovak TV is preparing to dismiss some 120 employees. Meanwhile, Tomas Hasala, the government's 23-year-old spokesman, has quit, Pravda reported on 17 October. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY BEGINS PRIVATIZING ELECTRIC ENERGY SECTOR.
The Hungarian State Privatization and Holding Company (APV Rt.) on 16 October launched the privatization of Hungary's $4.5 billion electric energy sector, AFP reported the same day. Executive director of APV Rt. Bela Kunszler said Hungary wants to sell 24% of the Hungarian Electricity Works (MVM Rt.), as well as stakes of between 46.15% and 49.23% in six regional electricity supply companies and holdings of between 34% and 49.7% in seven power stations. Hungary's sole nuclear power station and the National Electricity Distribution Company will continue to be 100% owned by MVM Rt. Bids are to be submitted by the end of November, and APV Rt. hopes that sale contracts can be signed within 20 days. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN PREMIER MEETS WITH AMERICAN INVESTORS.
Gyula Horn on 16 October met with representatives of Emerging Markets Managements, a group of American investors, who acknowledged Hungary's current reforms and ensured Horn of their readiness to make further investments in the country, Magyar Hirlap reported the next day. Horn told the group of investors, whose total investments in Hungary to date total some $70 million, that economic indicators were improving and that the leadership is determined to continue with its economic stabilization plan. Meanwhile, Horn told the parliament on 16 October that he will visit Croatia and Serbia in the near future to help start economic reconstruction efforts there. He noted that the former Yugoslavia's economic reconstruction is of great importance for Hungary, whose economy has suffered large losses since the outbreak of war in the region. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 202, 17 October 1995
KARADZIC BAGS FOUR GENERALS.
Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic succeeded at the recent session of the Bosnian Serb parliament in removing four of the top military leaders: the second in command, General Milan Gvero; intelligence chief General Zdravko Tolimir; and local commanders Generals Djordje Djukic and Grujo Boric. The official reason given for the shakeup was the need to rejuvenate the top command, but the International Herald Tribune on 17 October called it a snub to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who is regarded by many Bosnian Serbs as having betrayed them. The BBC said the purge showed that Karadzic "is back on top" at the expense of military leader General Ratko Mladic. -- Patrick Moore

DESPONDENCY IN BANJA LUKA.
Allied and Serbian forces continued to exchange salvoes between Sanski Most and Prijedor on 16 October. The total number of Serbian refugees fleeing the allied advance now appears to be some 100,000. Nasa Borba on 16-17 October reported on the situation in Banja Luka, where most of these people have gathered, and noted that the "humanitarian situation is catastrophic." The paper said that Serbs there have lost faith in Belgrade and their own politicians and that the old rift between Banja Luka and Pale is growing. There is talk of an eventual evacuation of the Bosnian Serb "stronghold." -- Patrick Moore

MORE REPORTS OF WAR CRIMES.
The Independent on 16 October noted that fighting is now concentrated along the Banja Luka defense line running from Prijedor south to Sanski Most and southeast to Mrkonjic Grad. This area saw some of the worst Serbian atrocities against Muslims and Croats in 1992, and the allied forces are interested in looking at reported mass graves. Reuters quoted UNHCR officials as saying that the Serbs appear to be getting ready to resume "ethnic cleansing" following a few days' break. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 17 October cited UNHCR personnel as adding that the current peace talks have given the war criminals more time to do their dirty work. Reuters said that up to 4,000 Muslim and Croat males are unaccounted for. Of these, according to the International Herald Tribune, 500 alone come from Sanski Most. The Times and Daily Telegraph on 16 October presented accounts of revenge killings of Muslim civilians by Serbs fleeing Sanski Most. -- Patrick Moore

TENSIONS MOUNT OVER EASTERN SLAVONIA.
A standoff continues between the Croatian authorities and rebel Serbs as to the time and venue for a new round of talks on the peaceful return of eastern Slavonia to Croatian sovereignty. President Franjo Tudjman and other top Croatian officials have continued to state that Zagreb will reintegrate the area by military means if talks fail. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 17 October said that 22 Croatian army tanks have left northern Bosnia for Nasice near eastern Slavonia, and the Financial Times the previous day reported that at least 2,500 troops did not return from Bosnia to their Adriatic garrisons. -- Patrick Moore

STRIKES IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Some 5,000 workers from the Rakovica metal works, after striking for two weeks, on 16 October protested in front of Serbian government offices in Belgrade. They demanded a "systematic solution for their company's further survival," payment of back pay, and the dismissal of the ministers for industry, trade, and finance, Nasa Borba reported. Strikes have spread to Montenegro, including the Bjelasica Holding Company, which was hit on 16 October. The Teachers' Union also announced a strike unless back pay is delivered, Montena-fax reported on 17 October. The same source added that Croatian Serb refugees are moving from Serbia to Montenegro, thus creating a humanitarian problem. Meanwhile, double-digit monthly inflation was recorded there in September, the first time this year that inflation has exceeded 10%. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIAN-EU PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE MEETS.
The Romanian-European Union Parliamentary Committee began a two-day meeting in Brussels on 16 October, Radio Bucharest reported. The committee, set up in April in accordance with Romania's association agreement with the EU, monitors the agreement's implementation and seeks to promote a political dialogue between the two sides. The current meeting focuses on Romania's prospects for joining European structures. European Parliament President Klaus Haensch and EU foreign affairs head Hans van den Broek, addressing the inaugural session, praised Romania's efforts to adapt to EU standards in various spheres. They were quoted by Radio Bucharest as promising that the EU would re-examine a decision to include Romania on the so-called EU "black list" of countries whose citizens are required to have visas for travel in EU member states. Meanwhile, President Ion Iliescu ended his two-day visit to Tunisia on 16 October. Four bilateral accords (on investments protection, economic and technical cooperation, tourism, and health) were signed, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Dan Ionescu

SZUROS DENIES STATEMENT QUOTED BY REUTERS.
Matyas Szuros, leader of the Hungarian delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Bucharest last week, denied that he had referred to "Szekler enclaves" in eastern Transylvania in an interview with Reuters (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 October 1995), Romanian dailies reported on 16-17 October. Szuros said the mistake was the result of a translation error, explaining that "territorial autonomy" was translated as "enclave". In a separate development, officials from the Romanian and Hungarian defense ministries met in Romania to discuss NATO expansion in Eastern Europe and bilateral relations, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION ORGANIZATION BECOMES PARTY.
A leading Moldovan opposition organization, the United Democratic Congress (CDU), has renamed itself the Moldovan Party of Democratic Forces at its fifth congress in Chisinau, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 16 October. The party has branches in more than 30 districts and representatives in the parliament and local government. Valeriu Matei, who was elected leader of the new party, said the current government is unable to stop the economic decline. The meeting called for the government's removal and accused it of pushing the country into the CIS sphere of interests. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF TV CHIEF.
Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) caucus leader Yordan Sokolov on 16 October asked the office of the prosecutor-general to suspend Director of National TV Ivan Granitski and start legal proceedings against him, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Granitski has twice refused to broadcast a declaration by SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov and an SDS statement protesting the "violation of the provisional statute" of the state-run media. According to that document, national media are obliged to reflect the diversity of political views, and political parties have the right to present their views on TV and radio. Sokolov argued that Granitski exceeded his authority and demanded that he be suspended until the case is brought to court. * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WASHINGTON.
Safet Zhulali and U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry signed a military agreement in Washington on 16 October, Lajmi i Dites reported the next day. Perry said that the agreement is an important step for bilateral military relations and a basis for better military cooperation. Albania and the U.S. signed a memorandum in October 1993 to develop military cooperation and have held nine joint military exercises in Albania this year. Five U.S. experts are attached to the Albanian Defense Ministry. Zhulali praised the "extraordinary role" that the cooperation with the U.S. has played in the reform of the Albanian military and in ensuring security in the region. Albania provides facilities for the U.S. Navy and air-bases for American spy-planes that gather information over Bosnia. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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