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Newsline - October 20, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 205, 20 October 1995
AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS SENTENCED.
On 19 October, a Baku court sentenced five journalists connected with the samizdat satirical journal Chesme to prison sentences ranging from 25 years for insulting the honor of Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Turan and Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Liz Fuller

NEW CREDITS FOR ARMENIA?
The Armenian government anticipates that International Development Agency mediation will result in the country receiving $150 million worth in new credits from international finance organizations over the next two years, Noyan Tapan reported on 19 October, quoting Finance Minister Levon Barkhudaryan. Of that sum, $60 million will be spent on reforming education and health facilities. Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan on 18 October, U.S. presidential representative Ian Kalitski gave a positive assessment of Armenia's macroeconomic reforms but advocated speeding up privatization, according to Interfax. -- Liz Fuller

AKAEV OPPONENTS TO STAGE PROTEST.
Opponents of Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev are planning to stage a protest on 27 October, the last day of Akaev's term in office, according to a 14 October article in Slovo Kyrgyzstana, cited by Kabar radio. The protest is likely to be led by the former speaker of the old Kyrgyz parliament, Medetkan Sherimkulov, who has accused Akaev of violating the constitution by holding presidential elections in December. The Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan nominated Sherimkulov as its candidate for presidential elections on 10 October. The protesters plan to "surround the government house, block its entrances, and prevent the president from entering his office," according to the radio. -- Bhavna Dave

UNHCR OPENS OFFICES IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is opening two new offices in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek and the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh on the Tajik border, where a large number of refugees from Tajikistan are settling, Kyrgyz radio reported on 17 October. The radio reported that UNHCR plans to open offices in Ashgabat and Almaty in the near future. -- Bhavna Dave



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 205, 20 October 1995
TRADE UNIONISTS PICKET UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 trade unionists picketed the Ukrainian government in Kiev on 19 October, demanding payment of back wages and wage hikes, international and Ukrainian agencies reported. They also demanded increased government support for ailing enterprises and an end to short work weeks without pay. The protesters were joined by teachers, researchers, and physicians as well as members of the Communist Party of Ukraine and the Chornobyl Union. Members of the recently banned radical nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly also took part to demand their official reinstatement. Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Kinakh announced that the government will form a commission to address the trade unionists' demands. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL.
Lawmakers on 19 October voted to replace Prosecutor-General Valdyslav Datsiuk, who resigned last week, with Hryhorii Vorsinov, the 60-year-old chief prosecutor in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukrainian TV reported the same day. The vote reflected deputies' opposition to the Ukrainian government's suspension of the death penalty as a condition for winning Council of Europe membership. Reuters on 18 October reported Vorsinov as saying the move to halt death sentences was premature amid rising crime in the country. Opinion polls have revealed that only 5% of Ukrainians oppose the death penalty. Legislators also voted to reject the former prosecutor-general request to strip former acting Prime Minister Yukhym Zvyahilskyi of his parliamentary immunity. Deputies concluded the charges against Zvyahilskyi, who is in hiding in Israel, were unsubstantiated. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

WORLD BANK TO GRANT CREDITS TO UKRAINE.
The head of the World Bank office in Ukraine said that the World Bank has approved a $700 million credit to Ukraine, Interfax reported on 19 October. He added that the bank plans to extend an additional $2 billion to Ukraine over the next two years. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE DEVELOPS NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE.
Ukrainian Radio and Interfax on 19 October reported Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov as saying Ukraine is developing a new military doctrine. Shmarov was in Crimea for talks with Russian Black Sea Fleet commanders on handing over the bases in Myrno and Novoozer to Ukraine. The defense minister said it was not possible to proceed with Soviet-era assumptions that Ukraine was surrounded by hostile forces. He emphasized that Crimea was overrun with troops and suggested cutting the 500 military units stationed there to 350. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SHAKES UP INTERIOR MINISTRY.
Interfax on 19 October reported that following the dismissal of Yurii Zakharenka as interior minister, 10 or so top Interior Ministry officials have been arrested over the past few days on charges of accepting bribes. ITAR-TASS reported that Zakharenka was fired for "gross violations of financial discipline." In other news, NTV on 19 October reported President Alyaksandr Lukashenka as saying he would assume direct rule if the November by-elections failed to produce a new parliament. He continues to reject the old parliament's authority, despite a ruling by the Constitutional Court saying that it is the legitimate legislature. The president recently stopped paying deputies' salaries, except those of presidium members. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT URGES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH U.S.
Lennart Meri, in separate meetings in Washington on 19 October with Vice President Al Gore and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, proposed a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Estonia, a RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported the next day. In a speech to the U.S.-Baltic Foundation, Meri said that a free trade agreement makes "simple business sense" because it would have "minimal" impact on sensitive market sectors in the U.S. while broadly encouraging American investment in Estonia. Meri travels to New York to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the UN and will visit the West coast and Mexico before returning home on 3 November. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT SUBMITS 1996 BUDGET TO PARLIAMENT.
Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 19 October submitted to the Seimas a draft budget for 1996. The draft will be discussed as of 9 November, BNS reported. It envisions expenditures of 7.54 billion litai ($1.885 billion) and income of 6.95 billion litai, resulting in a budget deficit of about 2% of GNP. The budget, based on an anticipated 15% rate of inflation during the year, provides for 12-15% wage hikes for government workers and larger allocations for education, social needs, and health care. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH BISHOPS ON DIALOGUE.
Three Polish bishops--Jozef Zycinski, Andrzej Suski, and Tadeusz Pieronek--on 19 October published the Episcopate's declaration "On the Need for Dialogue and Tolerance during the Building of Democracy." The bishops defend the right of the nation to know the truth about the past and condemn the practice of destroying archives or making them inaccessible. According to the bishops, the archives are not the "private property of parties, ministries, or institutions." They reminded that a precondition for forgetting is the confession of one's guilt and an attempt to redress wrongdoings, Rzeczpospolita reported on 20 October. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH CABINET DISCUSSES 1996 BUDGET.
The Polish cabinet on 19 October discussed the draft budget, which has been changed several times by the Ministry of Finance. With agriculture and the army accounting for 2.6% and 2.43% of GDP, government expenditures have been increased by 1.2 billion zloty ($0.5 billion). This amount would be balanced by tax revenues. Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko said the budget reflected economic changes. Meanwhile, inflation is reported to be slowing down and the unemployment rate decreasing, Rzeczpospolita reported on 20 October. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH PRESS BILL CAUSES CONTROVERSY.
The Czech government on 18 October approved a draft law on the press that would deprive journalists of the right to protect their sources and no longer require government institutions to provide information to journalists "in an appropriate manner." The original draft law, submitted by Czech Culture Minister Pavel Tigrid, contained both provisions. Supporters of the government version have argued that the Czech Constitution gives all citizens the right to information, making such a provision redundant. A number of Czech journalists and politicians have criticized the draft law. Some suggested that journalists may revert to the practice, common among dissident journalists during the communist era, of claiming they "accidentally" found documents containing important information and giving no source. -- Jiri Pehe

ROMANI PRESS IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
The Citizens' Association for Romani Press in Brno told TASR on 19 October that there is still not enough interest among Roma in Romani journals and papers published in the Czech Republic. Geyza Orlet, deputy chairman of the association and chief editor of the Romani weekly Romano Kurko, said that Romas' low interest in public affairs is partly due to their low social position. Orlet also pointed out that "there is not enough Romani news on the stands" because newsstand owners fear possible reprisal and violence from extremist groups. He added that Roma may not know about all the 15 or so Romani publications that appear regularly. -- Alaina Lemon

INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO SLOVAK POLICE ACTIVITIES.
Jozef Kubin of Bratislava's regional prosecutor's office on 19 October announced that he has started investigating Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa's recent charges against police investigators. Stressing that the matter is secret, he gave no further information. Jan Budaj of the opposition Democratic Union pointed out the same day that Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar had announced the dismissal of Peter Vacok, who was leading the investigation into the abduction of the president's son, before the dismissal actually took place. Budaj argued that Ludovit Hudek's failure to prevent Vacok's dismissal showed he has "ceased to be interior minister" and is now a "pawn in the hands of Meciar." Meanwhile, DU Deputy Chairman Ludovit Cernak criticized Slovak TV for not allowing him to respond to new allegations that his party did not have enough signatures to compete in last fall's elections (10,000 were required). According to Cernak, a police investigation has found that 11,313 signatures were valid. However, police have not released an official statement. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON BOSNIA.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, speaking after the Geneva meeting of the OSCE "troika" (the foreign ministers of Italy, Hungary, and Switzerland, which are the past, present, and future OSCE chairmen-in-office), said the OSCE is expected to play a major role in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, including organizing free elections, Reuters reported on 19 October. Kovacs, who is currently OSCE chairman-in-office, said the OSCE is expected to help promote human rights and the protection of minorities as well as supervise the disarmament of the warring sides. Kovacs, who accompanied Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn on his recent visit to Croatia, added that he expected NATO to be responsible for the military implementation of a peace accord and the EU to be given the leading role in economic reconstruction. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 205, 20 October 1995
TUDJMAN PROMISES NO ATTACK ON EASTERN SLAVONIA.
International media on 19 October reported that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman told U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke that he would seek the return of eastern Slavonia by peaceful means. Slobodna Dalmacija the following day noted, however, that Croatia reserves the right to use whatever means necessary to recover the last Serb-held area on its territory if talks prove useless. Washington, Bonn, and London have repeatedly threatened Zagreb with sanctions and with restrictions on access to Western institutions should force be used. Croatian Television on 17 October ran footage from rebel Serbian TV in Vukovar, which included the message: "Brother Serbs! The moment for the final reckoning with the Ustashe [pejorative for Croats] has come! We will free this Serbian land. We have enough weapons. . . . We will fight to the end . . . and win!" -- Patrick Moore

WAR CRIMES UPDATE.
Hina on 18 October carried a statement from Croatian Interior Minister Ivan Jarnjak, who reported on investigations of murders of Serbian civilians in the former Krajina. Some 25 suspects have been arrested, including persons with police records. The minister said they are "just vultures." Novi list on 20 October reported that the Serbs held 350 Muslims from Bosanski Novi for five days without food or water in a bus depot before expelling them. The Serbs also murdered about 100 local Muslims who had refused to leave their homes. The International Herald Tribune added that Western diplomats report that some 2,000 Muslim men are still unaccounted for in northern Bosnia and that it is feared they have been killed or are about to be. The U.S. State Department has "gathered evidence of widespread killings of civilians by Serbian forces" in the area recently. -- Patrick Moore

FRENCH UNIMPRESSED WITH KARADZIC'S STORY ON PILOTS.
Paris continues to reject Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's claim that the two downed French airmen have been kidnapped by mysterious abductors. French and international media quote officials as saying that they suspect the pilots have been killed. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, French troops detained EU mediator Carl Bildt at the Sarajevo airport. The furious Bildt screamed "this is absolutely intolerable" when he was finally allowed to leave the dugout, the International Herald Tribune said on 20 October. Bildt has been tipped to replace outgoing UN mediator Yasushi Akashi. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE AUTHORITIES BAN SERBIAN RADICAL PARTY RALLY.
The Serbian Interior Ministry has issued a ban on a Serbian Radical Party (SRS) rally scheduled for 20 October, Nasa Borba reported. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Russian Liberal-Democratic Party, was expected to take part in the rally. SRS party leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj on 18 October told BETA that the meeting "would be held at all costs." Nasa Borba reported on 20 October that he announced a "walk down the Belgrade streets" as a demonstration of "national dissatisfaction with the current regime." Seselj and Zhirinovsky also have meetings scheduled for the following day with the Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic, Momcilo Krajisnik, and Milan Martic. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN AUTHORITIES TO RENEW ATTACK ON INDEPENDENT MEDIA?
BETA on 19 October reported that Belgrade's Center for Anti-War Action has warned that a renewed regime attack on independent media in the rump Yugoslavia may be in the offing. According to the report, the likeliest targets of any renewed campaign are small local media voices. BETA reports that the editor of Borskih novina recently received a six-month prison sentence for publishing an unflattering caricature of several political leaders from the former Yugoslavia. It suggests that other editors may be subject to the same treatment. -- Stan Markotich

GLIGOROV LEAVES HOSPITAL.
Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov was released from hospital on 18 October and is now continuing his recuperation at home, the Bulgarian daily 24 chasa reported on 20 October, citing the independent Macedonian TV station A1. Gligorov's doctors said his condition is stable and good and that he has not completely lost vision of his right eye, as stated earlier. It was also reported that Gligorov did not meet with outgoing UN Special Envoy for the former Yugoslavia Yasushi Akashi. Instead, Akashi met with Gligorov's wife, Nada. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN COALITION SPLITS.
The Central Executive Bureau of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 19 October decided to sever ties with its long-time ally, the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM), Radio Bucharest reported. PDSR Executive Chairman Adrian Nastase explained the decision by the PRM's refusal to disavow attacks on President Ion Iliescu in its weekly. Nastase further said that the PRM has failed to respect the protocols of the alliance, which forbid "any manifestation of racism, anti-Semitism, extremism, and totalitarianism." Romanian media noted that the split leaves the coalition with only 45% of the vote in the parliament and may herald the fall of Nicolae Vacaroiu's cabinet. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN STUDENTS TO CONTINUE PROTESTS . . .
Following discussions with government officials, leaders of the Bucharest Students' League have decided to continue their protests, Romanian media reported on 19 October. More than 15,000 students protested in Bucharest the same day, demanding, among other things, the reversal of the government's recent decision to impose university fees. "Our protests will continue until all our demands are met," Cristian Urse, leader of the student league, was quoted as saying. -- Matyas Szabo

. . . WHILE MOLDOVAN STUDENTS ANNOUNCE INDEFINITE STRIKE.
Thousands of students and teaching staff on 19 October participated in a rally in Chisinau for the second consecutive day, Moldovan agencies reported. They demanded the resignation of the government, which they hold responsible for deteriorating living conditions in the country. They also insisted that Romanian be reinstated as the state language instead of "Moldovan," as specified in the 1994 constitution. Protest leaders announced that a general strike will be staged until all demands are met, despite police threats that the strike's organizers will be prosecuted. President Mircea Snegur, in a message addressed to students, tried to convince them to stop their protest. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN AIR CARRIER SUSPENDS INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS.
State-run Balkan Airlines is to suspend a number of international flights, RFE/RL reported on 19 October, citing Transportation Minister Stamen Stamenov. The minister said that Balkan lost more than 800 million leva ($11.8 million) during the first nine months of 1995 "due to unprofitable flights." Some 39 out of Balkan's 59 international routes make losses, but some will be retained due to the "political and economic importance" of the travel links, including the flight to New York. Procedures for privatizing Balkan began in 1992 but were suspended earlier this year, due to a lack of investors. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN GREECE.
Dimitar Pavlov arrived in Athens on 18 October on a three-day visit. Greek and Bulgarian media reported that he held talks with his Greek counterpart, Gerasimos Arsenis, parliamentary speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, and Deputy Foreign Minister Georgios Romaios. Pavlov and Arsenis discussed prospects for further cooperation in foreign and defense policy and possible ways to consolidate peace in the Balkans. With regard to Greek press reports that NATO is developing scenarios to grant Western Thrace autonomy if ethnic tension breaks out there, Arsenis said that they had not talked about "non-existing scenarios" but that he had briefed Pavlov on the repercussions of the reports in Greece. Kaklamanis said Greece will promote tighter relations between Bulgaria and the EU. In other news, Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler was in Sofia on 18 and 19 October to discuss bilateral and regional issues, Bulgarian radio reported. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN GETS UNDER WAY.
Skender Gjinushi, leader of the Albanian Social Democrats, and Arben Imami, head of the Democratic Alliance, kicked off with their joint election campaign in Kukes. Both parties declared they do not intend to form an election coalition but want to cooperate during the election campaign under the name "Pole of the Center." They also announced the creation of an office intended to protect them and their members from political intrigues, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 20 October. The office is also to defend the interests of both parties in legal proceedings against the law on genocide at the European Court in Strasbourg (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1995). -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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