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
NAZARBAEV COMPLETES PERSONNEL RESHUFFLE AT TOP.
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.
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
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 206, 23 October 1995
DID MILOSEVIC SECRET SERVICE CAPTURE THE FRENCH PILOTS?
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
BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT DEMANDS OPENING OF GORAZDE ROUTE.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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