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Newsline - October 23, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 206, 23 October 1995
AZERBAIJANI PRESS MINISTER RESIGNS TO PROTEST CHESME VERDICT.
Azerbaijani Information and Press Minister Sabir Rustamkhanli announced his resignation at a Baku press conference on 20 October, Turan reported. Rustamkhanli's said he resigned in order to run in next month's parliamentary elections, but he also sharply criticized as "undemocratic" and "a violation of the law" the 19 October sentencing of five journalists connected with the satirical samizdat journal Chesme to two to five years' imprisonment (NOT 25 years as erroneously stated in the OMRI Daily Digest, 20 October 1995) for insulting President Heidar Aliev. -- Liz Fuller

SHEVARDNADZE WILL NOT TRAVEL TO NEW YORK.
Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze will not travel to New York to attend the 50th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly, Russian media reported on 21 October. Shevardnadze said that since Russia has refused to extradite former Georgian Security Service head Igor Giorgadze, who is wanted in connection with the 29 August bomb attack on Shevardnadze, Giorgadze and his supporters could take advantage of his absence from the country to perpetrate new terrorist acts in the run-up to the 5 November elections. Also on 21 October, the Stalinist Communist Party announced that it would support Shevardnadze's candidacy for Georgian president, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Liz Fuller and Irakli Tsereteli

NAZARBAEV COMPLETES PERSONNEL RESHUFFLE AT TOP.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev announced that all personnel changes at the top echelons of power are now complete, according to a 20 October Kazakhstani TV report cited by the BBC. Nazarbaev said that about a third of the country's regional administration heads (hakims) have been replaced. Nazarbaev has also dismissed the members of the Constitutional Court and suspended its operations. In his own office, he has appointed Sagynbek Tusunov to replace Nurtai Abykaev as head of the presidential administration. Abykaev has been named ambassador to Britain. Last week, Nazarbaev appointed Kairbek Suleimenov to the post of interior minister. -- Bhavna Dave

RUMORS OF COUP IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The leader of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan, Medetkan Sherimkulov, has denied allegations published in Slovo Kyrgyzstana that he is organizing a plot to overthrow President Askar Akaev. According to the article, Sherimkulov and other opponents of Akaev plan to picket the government building on 27 October, the fifth anniversary of the president's election to office. Sherimkulov, the former parliamentary speaker, is the leading presidential candidate, according to a 3 October poll of the country's political experts by Res Publica. -- Bruce Pannier



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 206, 23 October 1995
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX HIERARCHY ELECTS CONTROVERSIAL PATRIARCH.
The hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate elected Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev as its new patriarch at a 20 October sobor, Western and Ukrainian agencies reported the same day. His election causes further rifts within the church and threatens to widen the gap between the three rival Orthodox churches in the country. Four candidates dropped out of the race for the position at the last moment, leaving the controversial Filaret -- accused by many of complicity with the KGB as a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in Soviet Ukraine -- as the sole candidate to replace the recently deceased Patriarch Volodymyr. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

RUSSIA RATIFIES CUSTOMS UNION WITH BELARUS.
The Russian State Duma ratified a customs union and free trade zone agreement with Belarus on 20 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement specifies that on 1 January 1996 tariffs and quotas on trade between the two countries will be abolished; common tariff and trade policies will be devised in relation to other countries; and tax legislation in Russia and Belarus will be aligned. In the second stage of the customs union, Russia and Belarus will join into a single customs territory. The Duma also adopted a resolution on integrating the Russian Federation and Belarus. The resolution demands that Russian President Boris Yeltsin present a plan for the integration of the two countries to the Federation Council. The Belarusian parliament has still not ratified the customs agreement. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT COALITION AGREEMENT SIGNED.
The Coalition Party and Rural Union (KMU) coalition and the Reform Party signed an agreement forming a coalition government on 22 October, BNS reported the next day. The Reform Party succeeded in obtaining the exclusion of protective import tariffs and farm subsidies, but agreed not to seek major changes in the proposed 1996 budget. Reform Party Chairman Siim Kallas said that the agreement only defined the policy principles of the new government and did not say anything about the distribution of minister portfolios. KMU faction chairman Mart Siimann said the portfolios would be divided under an appendix to the coalition agreement and if all other matters were settled prime minister designate Tiit Vahi would address the parliament on 26 October. -- Saulius Girnius

CANDIDATES FOR LATVIAN GOVERNMENT PROPOSED.
The National Conciliation Bloc (NCB) announced its projected cabinet list on 20 October, BNS reported. The leaders of the four parties forming the bloc will have important posts: Ziedonis Cevers of the Democratic Party Saimnieks -- prime minister, Alberts Kauls of the Unity Party -- deputy prime minister; Joachim Siegerist of the Popular Movement for Latvia -- economics minister; and Janis Jurkans of the National Harmony Party -- foreign minister. President Guntis Ulmanis said that he considered the NCB to be more constructive and energetic than its competitor, the rightist National Bloc, but repeated his pledge not to name a nominee for prime minister before 7 November. -- Saulius Girnius

WALESA LEADS IN ELECTORAL SIMULATION.
According to the 13-17 October CBOS opinion poll, the Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski would win the first round of the presidential elections, scheduled for 5 November, with 27% of votes; current president Lech Walesa would be second with 22%. Both would, therefore, qualify to the second round. Central Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz got 8% in the survey. Any two of the five leading candidates would be very close in the second round, but Walesa would narrowly win against Kwasniewski as well as Gronkiewicz-Waltz, while Kwasniewski would win with Gronkiewicz-Waltz and with former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron (6%), who is fourth in the voting intentions ranking, Polish dailies reported on 21 and 23 October. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH REPORT ON NATO.
A report called "Poland-NATO," signed, among others, by two of Poland's former foreign affairs ministers and one former defense minister, was presented on 20 October by one of its signatories, former Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Polish media reported the next day. The authors say that Poland's independence can be safeguarded only in an alliance with other countries. "Poland wants and may talk with any Russian political team respecting international law and sovereignty of our country," stress the authors, but Russia, according to them, "aspires to preserve the belt of militarily, politically, and economically weak countries in Central Europe and to strengthen Russia's presence there until its might lets it construct new spheres of influence." -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK, CZECH PRESIDENTS MEET CLINTON.
Slovak and Czech Presidents Michal Kovac and Vaclav Havel, respectively, met with U.S. President Bill Clinton on 21 October for the opening of a Czech and Slovak museum and library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Clinton said the U.S. should stand by the Czech and Slovak republics by expanding NATO, by supporting their integration into other European institutions, and by improving access to U.S. markets, international media reported. -- Sharon Fisher and Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS.
Slovak Information Service Director Ivan Lexa on 20 October issued an open letter to President Michal Kovac, protesting efforts by the president and others "to criminalize the SIS and its representatives." Lexa told Kovac that "neither the SIS as a state organ of the Slovak Republic, nor I myself personally, had anything to do with the alleged kidnapping of your son." Lexa was responding to Kovac's statements in the Czech daily Pravo on 19 October. When asked if he thought the abduction of his son was directed by Lexa, Kovac said "From what I know from various sources, there is no need to doubt it." Meanwhile, Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota on 20 October accused Kovac of treason and announced that his party is considering initiating a parliamentary discussion of Kovac's activities during a recent visit to Germany. Slota gave as an example Kovac's alleged statement that the SNS is a "chauvinist and nationalistic party," Narodna obroda reported. -- Sharon Fisher

`56 MEMORIALS IN HUNGARY.
While Hungary is holding a series of commemorations of the 1956 Hungarian revolution on 23 October, a day earlier some 7,000 supporters of a Hungarian right-wing political group demonstrated in Budapest, threatening a general strike if the government continued its austerity policy, Hungarian and Western media reported. The extreme right-wing Hungarian Justice and Life Party, lead by Istvan Csurka, used extremist slogans in calling for the demonstration and expected 300,000 people to attend. Protesters called for the resignation of Prime Minister Gyula Horn's socialist-led government, for early elections, and spoke against the selling of state property to foreigners. While all parliamentary parties had distanced themselves from the demonstration, many are also trying to use the anniversary -- which is seen as one of Hungary's greatest symbols of national unity -- to win popular support for their political programs. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

AGREEMENT ON DRAFT MEDIA LAW IN HUNGARY.
Following four weeks of negotiations, the six parliamentary parties reached agreement over the draft media law, Hungarian newspapers reported on 21 October. The draft suggests that Hungarian Television and Radio goes from state-owned to public-fund owned and provides for foreign and private investment in television and radio stations. It also envisages the placing of TV2 under concession for ten years and the providing of another satellite channel for Hungarian Television. It is hoped that the accord, which follows five years of heavy-handed government control over the media, will be passed by the Parliament this year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 206, 23 October 1995
DID MILOSEVIC SECRET SERVICE CAPTURE THE FRENCH PILOTS?
French Defense Minister Charles Millon on 22 October said that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had given Paris "a certain number of assurances," that the two French Pilots, shot down over Bosnia on 30 August, are alive, AFP reported on 21 an 22 October. Millon, however, did not confirm or deny a report in the London Sunday Times that the pilots were in the hands of Milosevic's secret police. Millon said: "we don't know who is holding them," but pointed out that no negotiations were taking place with Milosevic. The Sunday Times on 22 October had cited security service staff in Belgrade, the paper reported the two pilots were in or somewhere near Belgrade. -- Fabian Schmidt

NORTHWESTERN BOSNIAN DEVELOPMENTS.
The UN said fighting in northwest Bosnia has died to "negligible" levels and that UN staff have been given freedom of movement through all areas except Bosanska Otoka, AFP reported on 21 and 22 October. Commanders of the government army and the Bosnian Serbs had met on the front-line near Sanski Most on 20 October and agreed to make their nominal truce real. On 22 October, however, a Serb military communique claimed that the Bosnian army fired on Serb positions in Doboj and the Mount Ozren region the same day. UN military observers reported hearing just one detonation near the town of Sanski Most on 21 October and some gunfire. -- Fabian Schmidt

BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT DEMANDS OPENING OF GORAZDE ROUTE.
The Bosnian government is considering delaying peace talks, scheduled for the U.S. on 31 October, because Bosnian Serbs continue to block traffic on the road to the eastern enclave Gorazde, AFP reported on 22 October. The road so far is only open to UN convoys, but even those are reported to have been stopped at four checkpoints. The Bosnian government demands the opening of the route for civil traffic as a precondition for peace talks. Elsewhere, the ultra-nationalist leader of the "Tigers," and accused war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan," said on 21 October that he planned to leave northwestern Bosnia and re-deploy his men in eastern Slavonia. The withdrawal of the "Tigers" was demanded by the U.S. State Department. -- Fabian Schmidt

IZETBEGOVIC DEMANDS WITHDRAWAL OF CROATIAN TROOPS.
AFP reported on 21 October that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has said that Croatian forces fighting Serbs in Western Bosnia shall have to withdraw thirty days following the signing of a peace treaty. "Serbia and Croatia must be asked to formally state that they have no territorial aspirations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and that they will not stimulate separatist aims," Izetbegovic added. -- Stan Markotich

BOSNIAN SERBS THREATEN, TORTURE PRISONERS.
On 21 October Bosnian Serb forces and the Bosnian government exchanged about 20 prisoners, the first such exchange since the 12 October ceasefire went into effect. Among those released by the Serb side were two Turkish journalists, taken prisoner about two weeks ago. Commenting on conditions of incarceration, one of the freed observed "They told me I would be hanged with a silk rope," Reuters reported on 22 October. Sarajevo Serb poet and novelist Vladimir Srebrov, who spent three years in detention, was also among the released. An advocate of peace and a multicultural Bosnia, Srebrov reported on being tortured during his incarceration, and having suffered three broken ribs and a broken jaw. -- Stan Markotich

BOSNIAN SERBS DISCUSS PEACEKEEPING.
SRNA reported on 22 October that on that same day Bosnian Serb deputies met in Bijeljina, where the main topic of discussion seemed to be ironing out a common position on upcoming peace talks, slated to start in the U.S. on 31 October. According to the Bosnian Serb agency, delegates agreed that a multinational peace force would be acceptable, provided only that it came from "friendly" countries, which includes Ukraine and Russia. -- Stan Markotich

PROTEST AGAINST BOSNIAN CROATS' VOTING IN CROATIAN ELECTIONS.
International agencies reported on 23 October that the Bosnian government protests Bosnian Croats participation in the upcoming Croatian elections, with the exception of Croatian nationals living or working in Bosnia. Since 12 of 127 seats in the Croatian parliament will be reserved for members of the Croatian diaspora, and five Bosnian Croats are running as candidates of the leading Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), there is a possibility that Bosnian Croats will be elected to the parliament in Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ISLAMIC GROUP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RIJEKA BOMB ATTACK.
The car bomb explosion in front of the county police station in Rijeka on 20 October, resulting in one dead, two seriously wounded and 27 slightly injured, was set by Al-Jama' ah al-Islamiyah (The Islamic Group), Egypt's largest militant Muslim group, RAI Television reported on 21 October. The Islamic Group released a statement saying that this terrorist act was intended to force the Croatian authorities to release the group's spokesman, who was detained by Croatian police in September. -- Daria Sito Sucic

POLICE ATTACK STUDENTS IN BUCHAREST.
Special riot police units used batons and tear gas on 20 October to disperse a crowd of several thousand students marching towards President Ion Iliescu's residence, Western agencies reported. One student was wounded in the action. Several political formations, including the opposition Party of Civic Alliance, condemned the show of force against peaceful demonstrators. After a meeting on 21 October, student leaders and representatives of seven parliamentary parties issued a joint statement supporting the students' demands. Cristian Urse, chairman of the Bucharest University Students' League, summed up those demands with the words "decent living conditions for students." Radio Bucharest quoted him as requesting that the head of the Bucharest Police Inspectorate be dismissed because of the police action. -- Dan Ionescu

GREATER ROMANIA PARTY RENOUNCES OFFICIAL POSITIONS.
The chairman of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), Corneliu Vadim Tudor, resigned from the Senate's defense commission on 20 October, Romanian media reported. His decision came one day after the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) severed all political ties with the PRM. Three PRM state secretaries and one prefect also resigned. Tudor said the main reasons for the parties' disagreement was the PRM demand to outlaw the Hungarian Democratic Alliance of Romania, and his party's dissatisfaction with certain provisions of the future basic treaties with Hungary and Ukraine. Tudor added that his resignation was also meant as a protest against alleged attempts by the authorities "to bury Dumitru Iliescu's case." Iliescu, who heads the Protection and Guard Service, had been accused by Tudor of corruption and nepotism. -- Matyas Szabo

RUSSIAN ARMY IN MOLDOVA FIRES CONTROVERSIAL COLONEL.
Col. Mikhail Bergman, commander of the Tiraspol garrison of the Operational Group of Russian Forces in Moldova's Dniester region (former 14th Russian Army), was dismissed on short notice on 20 October, the agency BASA-press and radio station Ekho Moskvy reported. Bergman received a verbal order to leave his post within three days. He was later told that the order had been issued by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. According to Bergman, the way his dismissal was conducted showed that "we live in a lawless society." Colonel Bergman was a close associate of Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, the former commander of the 14th Army. Both used to be very critical of the leadership of the self-styled Dniester republic. -- Dan Ionescu

PRESIDENTS OF FOUR BALKAN COUNTRIES PLEDGE COOPERATION.
The presidents of Albania, Bulgaria and Turkey, Sali Berisha, Zhelyu Zhelev, and Suleyman Demirel, respectively, and the acting Macedonian President and Speaker of the Macedonian parliament, Stojan Andov, met on 22 October in New York on the sidelines of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the UN, international agencies reported the following day. They pledged to work for peace in the Balkans and press ahead with new infrastructure programs, including roads, power and telecommunication links. A document they signed stresses the importance of such projects linking the Balkans and Western Europe. -- Stefan Krause

GREECE, MACEDONIA TO SET UP LIAISON OFFICES.
Greece and Macedonia on 20 October signed an agreement opening liaison offices in each other's capitals, Reuters reported the same day. The opening of such offices is one of the provisions of the interim accord signed in New York on 13 September. Athens and Skopje have yet to resolve their conflict over Macedonia's name, which will be the subject of talks scheduled to start in New York at the end of October. Until an agreement is reached, the Macedonian liaison office in Athens will have a sign outside giving the republic's name as "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," and as "Macedonia" on the sign inside the door. -- Stefan Krause

MUSLIM CLERGYMEN CONFER IN ANKARA.
A three-day gathering of official Muslim clergymen from Central Asia, the Transcaucasus, the Russian Federation, and the Balkans opened in Ankara on 23 October, the Turkish Daily News reported the same day. The meeting was organized by Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate and was opened by its chairman, Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz. Yilmaz noted at a press conference that 1,443 foreign students received religious training in Turkey from 1991 to 1995. It is expected that numerous Turkish aid and construction projects from the Balkans to Central Asia will be evaluated during the conference. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Pete Baumgartner




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