Accessibility links

Newsline - December 30, 1996


To: OMRI-L
From: OMRI Publications <omripub@omri.cz> Subject: OMRI DAILY DIGEST I, No. 246, 30 December 1996 Cc:
Bcc:
X-Attachments:

OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 246, Part I, 30 December 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

NOTE: The OMRI Daily Digest was not published from 23 December to 27 December.

RUSSIA

YELTSIN BACK IN THE KREMLIN. President Boris Yeltsin described himself as "ready for battle" as he returned to work in the Kremlin on 23 December, seven weeks after his 5 November bypass operation, Russian and Western media reported. Heart problems had kept him away from the office for nearly six months. However, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov doubted Yeltsin's stamina to withstand a heavy workload, saying Russia's current condition demanded a president who can work "at least 15 hours a day." Speaking to Ekho Moskvy on 22 December, Aleksandr Lebed described Yeltsin as a "sick man" who was incapable of governing and should step down for the good of the country. On 27 December, Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said Yeltsin has been working six to eight hours per day since his return. -- Laura Belin

LAST RUSSIAN TROOPS LEAVE CHECHNYA. The last Russian combat troops from the 205th Motorized Rifle Brigade left Chechnya on 29 December, ahead of the scheduled 27 January departure date set by President Yeltsin earlier this month, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. A small number of logistical personnel remain in the republic, and Russian commander Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Sukhoruchenkov said on 28 December that they will withdraw by 22 January, AFP reported. The departing troops of the 101st brigade are being housed in unheated barracks and tents near Stavropol, according to a 29 December NTV report, and are reduced to begging for food from local residents. On 28 December the Duma passed a resolution condemning the troop withdrawal as "rash and unthoughtful," arguing that some 1,000 Russian servicemen are still missing in the republic, many of them thought to be held captive. -- Peter Rutland

STATE REINTRODUCES MONOPOLY OF ALCOHOL. President Yeltsin attended a meeting of the Temporary Extraordinary Commission for tax collection on 26 December. He castigated ministers for their failure to clear off pension arrears, and promised to reintroduce state control on the production and sale of spirits, ITAR-TASS reported. It was already planned to introduce excise stamps on all spirits and wines (beer is exempt) from 1 January. The new monopoly will probably mean tighter licensing requirements for Russia's 600 plus spirits producers, rather than outright nationalization, and restrictions on retail outlets. The share of federal-budget revenue generated from alcohol sales fell from an estimated one-third during the Soviet period to 3.5% in 1996, ITAR- TASS reported on 23 December. The government hopes to triple that figure to around 24 trillion rubles in 1997. -- Peter Rutland

DUMA APPROVES BUDGET . . . The State Duma on 28 December voted in favor of approving the government's 1997 budget on third reading by 243 votes to 117, AFP reported. Of the organized factions, only the Liberal Democratic Party voted against. Those who voted in favor were less than enthusiastic: Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said "it may be the worst budget ever," ITAR-TASS reported. The budget, which was approved on first reading on 15 December, will face a fourth reading in January to clear up various technical changes. ITAR-TASS reported on 27 December that federal taxation will raise 25 trillion rubles in December, up from 20 trillion in November. Federal tax collection in 1996 will total 198 trillion rubles, which is only 80% of the target level. -- Peter Rutland

. . . INTRODUCES NEW TAXES. The Duma on 27 December approved the introduction of a 0.5% tax on purchases of foreign currency, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian banks sold 195 trillion rubles worth of foreign currency in January-October 1996, and the new tax is expected to raise 2.3 trillion rubles ($400 million) in 1997. Critics suggested that the tax is too low to encourage people to hold their savings in rubles; others suggested it may encourage black-market operations. The Duma also introduced a new 20% tax on the interest on ruble bank deposits (15% on foreign-currency accounts) but only if the interest exceeds the Central Bank's refinancing rate. -- Peter Rutland

FEDERATION COUNCIL ADOPTS LAW ON JUDICIAL SYSTEM . . . Using an unusual voting procedure to allow deputies not present in Moscow to cast ballots, the Federation Council on 26 December approved the constitutional law on the judicial system by 140 votes to 18, Russian media reported. The previous attempt to gain the three-fourths majority needed to adopt the law had failed by two votes. Among other provisions, the law stipulates that judges will be appointed by the Russian president, and all courts must be funded entirely by the federal budget (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 December 1996). The law was passed over vocal opposition from leaders of Russia's republics, especially Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, who complained that it would infringe on their sovereignty and argued that regional courts should be able to carry out proceedings in local languages, according to the 26 December Kommersant- Daily. -- Laura Belin

. . . BUT REJECTS LAW ON GOVERNMENT. The Federation Council on 25 December rejected the draft law on government by a vote of 102 to 19, Nezavisimaya gazeta and Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. Deputies objected to a provision that would have forced the president to get the Duma's consent before dismissing the prime minister, according to ITAR- TASS. Currently the Duma has the power to approve only a prime minister's nomination. The draft law would have made the "power ministers" (defense, interior, and head of the security service) subordinate to the prime minister. Currently the power ministers report directly to the president. -- Laura Belin

LEBED ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NEW PARTY. At a 27 December conference of his Honor and Motherland movement, Aleksandr Lebed announced that he will found a Russian People's Republican Party early next year, Russian media reported. Lebed said his new party would be a "third force" for those dissatisfied with both the current authorities and the Communists; he added that there were plenty of bankers and industrial groups willing to finance his efforts. Party of Workers' Self-Government leader Svyatoslav Fedorov attended the conference and is likely to join Lebed's new party. -- Laura Belin

ANOTHER SEVEN INCUMBENTS RE-ELECTED . . . One republican president and five governors were re-elected on 22 December, the busiest day yet during the last four months of regional elections, Russian media reported the next day. Mikhail Nikolaev held onto the presidency in Yakutiya with about 60% of the vote. Successful incumbent governors were Anatolii Yefremov of Arkhangelsk Oblast (60%), Gennadii Igumnov of Perm Oblast (about 65%), Yurii Goryachev of Ulyanovsk Oblast (42%), Aleksandr Nazarov of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (62%), and Gennadii Nedelin of Taimyr Autonomous Okrug (64%). Anatolii Yakimov of Evenk Autonomous Okrug led by a mere 554 votes: the election was subsequently annulled. The Tyumen Oblast election, also held on 22 December, will be decided by a runoff in early 1997. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

. . . WHILE OPPOSITION CANDIDATES WIN SIX REGIONAL RACES. Also on 22 December, Aleksei Lebed, the younger brother of Aleksandr Lebed, was elected head of the Republic of Khakasiya with 71% of the vote. Communist-backed candidates were elected governor in Krasnodar Krai (Nikolai Kondratenko swept to victory with more than 82% of the vote), Kostroma Oblast (Viktor Shershunov received 64%), Ryazan Oblast (Vyacheslav Lyubimov won 55%) and Chelyabinsk Oblast (Petr Sumin gained 55%). According to preliminary results, the 29 December runoff election in Volgograd Oblast was won by Communist-backed Nikolai Maksyuta, who gained 51% to 44% for incumbent Governor Ivan Shabanov, Radio Rossii reported. Maksyuta had finished second in the first round. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

MARII-EL PRESIDENT LOSES AMID ELECTION SCANDAL. The president of the Marii-El Republic, Vyacheslav Zotin, received less than 10% of the vote in the republic's 22 December election, having tried to cancel the election by decree a few days before the vote, Russian media reported. Zotin did not advance to the second round, to be contested in January between Communist Party nominee Vladislav Kislitsin and Liberal Democratic Party candidate Leonid Markelov. They won 47% and 30% of the vote, respectively. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow

CHINESE PREMIER IN MOSCOW. Li Peng met President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin during his 26-28 December official visit, international agencies reported. Yeltsin said he was "very pleased" with the current state of bilateral ties, and he and Li Peng confirmed that Chinese President Jiang Zemin will visit Moscow in April. The two countries issued a joint communique hailing the "huge potential" of bilateral cooperation and pledging to build an "equal and reliable partnership." Several bilateral agreements were also signed, covering nuclear-power-plant construction, central-bank cooperation, and finalizing the sale of SU-27 fighters and related production technology to China. Segodnya on 28 December noted that warming Russian-Chinese ties were intended as Moscow's "answer to the United States" in response to such Western policies as NATO enlargement. -- Scott Parrish

PRIMAKOV IN TEHRAN. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during his two-day visit to Tehran on 22-23 December, international agencies reported. After signing a memorandum of understanding on nuclear export control with Velayati, Primakov said the two countries adhere to "internationally accepted norms," and that "no one can condemn" their cooperation in this area, which includes plans to finish an incomplete nuclear power station at Bushehr in southern Iran. The U.S., citing proliferation concerns, has vehemently opposed the project. The two foreign ministers condemned the Afghan Taliban movement's "violations of human rights," while Primakov hailed Iran's role in pushing for a negotiated settlement in Tajikistan. Primakov also said that "foreign military" deployments in the Persian Gulf undermine regional stability. -- Scott Parrish

RODIONOV: U.S. DRIVE FOR HEGEMONY THREATENS RUSSIA. Addressing a Moscow conference on CIS military cooperation on 25 December, Russian Defense Minster Igor Rodionov said that Washington's efforts to "make its world leadership complete" by relying on an expanded NATO may become a "military threat" to Russia and other CIS states, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rodionov added that Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Japan, China, and other unnamed Asian countries also pose potential military threats. He urged the formation of joint CIS military forces and the bolstering of Russian strategic nuclear forces in response. The Russian Foreign Ministry quickly moved to downplay Rodionov's remarks, labeling his list of potential adversaries "purely hypothetical." Rodionov's speech contradicts Moscow's ongoing efforts to build close ties with Iran and China. Kommersant-daily on 26 December described it as a crude attempt to frighten other CIS states into closer military cooperation with Moscow. -- Scott Parrish



To: OMRI-L
From: OMRI Publications <omripub@omri.cz> Subject: OMRI DAILY DIGEST I, No. 246, 30 December 1996 Cc:
Bcc:
X-Attachments:

OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 246, Part I, 30 December 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

NOTE: The OMRI Daily Digest was not published from 23 December to 27 December.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

HIGH-RANKING IRANIAN DELEGATION IN ARMENIA. An Iranian delegation headed by First Vice-President Hasan Habibi concluded a four-day visit to Armenia on 28 December, Noyan Tapan reported. The two sides pledged to boost bilateral cooperation in communications, energy and industry. Habibi, the highest-ranking Iranian official to visit Armenia since 1991, said the current state of Armenian-Iranian relationships is "at the desired level," ITAR-TASS reported. Armenian President Levon Ter- Petrossyan described Iran's policy in the Transcaucasus as "balanced" and a "stability factor" in the region. According to Prime-Minister Armen Sarkisyan, the two countries have "great" potential for further cooperation. -- Emil Danielyan

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN UZBEKISTAN. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev met his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, during a 24-25 December visit to Tashkent, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported. The two presidents signed a free trade agreement and discussed the construction of a rail line that would link Uzbekistan to China via Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan agreed to provide Kyrgyzstan with natural gas at a preferred rate and Kyrgyzstan will reciprocate by delivering electricity from the Naryn hydro-electric complex. Presidential spokesman Kanybek Imanaliyev noted that bilateral trade has increased four times to reach $200 million. At Karimov's request, the two leaders signed a treaty that included a reference to the "eternal friendship" between the neighboring states. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

NEW TAJIK AGREEMENT FOR PEACE. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri signed an agreement in Moscow on 23 December, international media reported. The agreement provides for a general amnesty, an exchange of all prisoners, and a promise by both sides to create the necessary conditions for the return of Tajik refugees. Most importantly, the agreement establishes a reconciliation council to be headed by an opposition representative. The council will spend 12-18 months reviewing proposed amendments to the Tajik Constitution. -- Bruce Pannier

UN WORKERS TAKEN HOSTAGE IN TAJIKISTAN. A group led by Rezvon Sadirov freed sixteen hostages within 24 hours of taking them after their demands were met on 21 December, Western and Russian press reported. Sadirov had threatened to kill the hostages, including seven UN observers, unless his brother and others held by the opposition were released. He also claimed his group had planted 30 bombs in Dushanbe, the capital, and would explode them if his demands were not met. Sadirov, a former defense minister for the Tajik opposition, was demoted in 1995 and joined government forces last month. -- Bruce Pannier


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
------------------------------------------------------------------------
SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING
1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write:
SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write:
UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L
3) Send the message

BACK ISSUES
Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail.
WWW
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/DD/Index.html

FTP
ftp://FTP.OMRI.CZ/Pub/DailyDigest/


REPRINT POLICY
To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Reprint.html

OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS

TRANSITION
OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the OMRI Daily Digest. For subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit the Transition Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Transition/Index.html


OMRI ECONOMIC DIGEST
The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription available; for more information, write to ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the OMRI Economic Digest Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/ED/Index.html


RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT
The Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication (published every Wednesday) initially focusing on the local elections taking place throughout Russia during the Fall of 1996. After the election season is over, the Russian Regional Report will continue, turning to broader social, political, and economic issues of Russia's regions. To Novemberveument. Back issues of subscribe, please follow these instructions:
1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE REGIONS Your Name
Fill in your own first and last names where shown 3) Send the message


PURSUING BALKAN PEACE
Pursuing Balkan Peace contains the latest news about developments in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other countries of Southeastern Europe. Published every Tuesday, it contains both brief news summaries and longer essays on specific events or issues facing the people of the region. To subscribe, please follow these instructions: 1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE BALKAN-PEACE Your Name
Fill in your own first and last names where shown 3) Send the message


RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE TRANSLATION OF THE OMRI DAILY DIGEST The full text of the OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and distributed the following day.
1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@ISF.RU
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE OMRI Your Name
Fill in your own name where shown
3) Send the messageTo: OMRI-L
From: OMRI Publications <omripub@omri.cz> Subject: OMRI DAILY DIGEST II, No. 246, 30 December 1996 Cc:
Bcc:
X-Attachments:

OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 246, Part II, 30 December 1996

This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html



To: OMRI-L
From: OMRI Publications <omripub@omri.cz> Subject: OMRI DAILY DIGEST I, No. 246, 30 December 1996 Cc:
Bcc:
X-Attachments:

OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 246, Part I, 30 December 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

NOTE: The OMRI Daily Digest was not published from 23 December to 27 December.

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

NEWS FROM BELARUS. The opposition parliament has set up a shadow cabinet and appointed its deputy speaker, Henadz Karpenka, as prime minister, NTV reported on 28 December. It also appealed to the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe to support democratic forces in Belarus. The same day, Radio Rossii reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has denied planning to hold a referendum on unification with Russia and suggesting that he be appointed leader of a unified state. He said the idea was "absurd, legalistic nonsense." Meanwhile, chief military prosecutor Maj.-Gen. Anatol Hlyukau has resigned from his post. The official reason was that Hlyukau wanted to retire. But according to NTV, the former prosecutor-general Vasil Kapitan had requested that Hlyukau be allowed to continue in his post for another five years, which suggests that Lukashenka declined to prolong Hlyukau's term in office. Finally, Reuters reported that Belarus is seeking a $3.5-4 billion investment to build its first nuclear power plant, which would ease its dependence on energy from Russia. -- Ustina Markus

BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE. The Russian Federation Council called on President Boris Yeltsin on 26 December to impose a moratorium on any agreements over the Black Sea Fleet until a special commission examines the status of the main base, Sevastopol, NTV reported. The following day, Moscow Mayor Yurii Lukhkov informed Ukraine's Foreign Ministry that he intends to visit the city in January, despite the ministry's threats to declare him persona non grata to prevent such a visit, Rossiskaya gazeta reported. Luzhkov has repeatedly made clear that he backs Russian claims to Sevastopol. Meanwhile, Zerkadlo nedeli reported that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said he will never agree to hand Sevastopol over to Russia. He added that if such a step were taken, he would no longer be president and Ukraine would lose its independence. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yas-trzembskii said on 27 December that Yeltsin has not changed his position that "Sevastopol and Crimea are part of Ukraine," RFE/RL reported. -- Ustina Markus

MANY LATVIANS FACE CUTS IN SOCIAL BENEFITS. The director of the Latvian State Social Insurance Fund has said that more than 200,000 Latvian residents whose employers have failed to make social insurance payments will not be eligible for unemployment, sickness, maternity, or funeral benefits as of 1 January, BNS reported on 27 December. A new law due to take effect at the beginning of 1997 states that people will not receive benefits if they do not have proper work contracts or if their employer has not been paying social insurance contributions for them. -- Ustina Markus

IS POLAND'S ECONOMY OVERHEATING? Representatives of the government, the National Bank of Poland (NBP), and the Central Statistical Office (GUS) estimate that the Polish economy grew by at least 6% in 1996, Polish dailies report. Data through the end of November indicate that real GDP likely increased by 5.7%-7.0% this year, largely owing to consumption growth of 9%-10% and investment spending of 18%-19%. Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Kolodko called 1996 "the Polish economy's best year ever," but NBP and GUS officials warned that the economy is overheating. GUS President Leszek Zienkowski and NBP President Hanna Gronkiewicz- Waltz both view Poland's ballooning trade deficit ($6.4 billion in November) as a sign that the consumption boom is unsustainable, not least because household indebtedness has doubled. Meanwhile, Gronkiewicz-Waltz has said that the NBP may raise interest rates in 1997. -- Ben Slay

CZECH PRESIDENT RETURNS HOME. Vaclav Havel was released from the hospital on 27 December, one month after undergoing an operation to remove a malignant tumor from his right lung, Czech media reported. Doctors at the Prague clinic where the operation took place said a team of specialists will continue to watch over the president at his house during the next few days. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said Havel is expected to give a shortened version of his traditional New Year's Day address on 1 January. -- Victor Gomez

SLOVAK SKINHEAD MURDERS ROMANI MAN. An 18-year-old skinhead murdered a Rom in the central Slovak town of Handlova on 22 December, TASR and CTK reported. The youth stabbed the 43-year-old Gustav Balaz and his 21- year-old son at the local bus station. The son had gone to meet his father, who was returning from work in the Czech Republic. Balaz senior died immediately, while his son was hospitalized with serious injuries. The skinhead was arrested within hours. He told the police that he was "proud to be a skinhead" and that he "regretted that one of the gypsies survived," Novy Cas reported. More than 300 Roma gathered in Handlova on 27 December for the elder Balaz's funeral. They then staged a peaceful demonstration against racism. In a letter addressed to the government, they warned that while "violence, fascism, racism, and civic intolerance" are growing, the government remains "indifferent." -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. President Michal Kovac on 20 December received an anonymous letter threatening him with "physical liquidation," CTK reported two days later. The letter, which also mentioned Constitutional Court Chairman Milan Cic and opposition representatives, said that people who are against Slovakia must be executed. Meanwhile, Slovak TV and the private channel VTV renewed their attacks on Kovac. On 20-21 December, they broadcast a "documentary report" discrediting both him and his son and featuring two "secret witnesses" who accused Kovac of paying former secret service agent Oskar Fegyveres 1 million Austrian schillings (some $90,000) for his testimony in the Kovac Jr. kidnapping case. Finally, Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene visited Slovakia on 23 December. He is the first EU premier to visit that country for bilateral talks in more than two years. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar renewed calls for a referendum on NATO membership but told Dehaene he is striving to fulfill conditions for Western integration. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN, ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS AGREE TO RE-OPEN CONSULATES. Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Severin, agreed in Budapest on 27 December to reopen the Hungarian Consulate-General in Cluj and the Romanian Consulate in Debrecen, Hungarian media reported. Honorary consular offices are also to be opened in Gyor and Constanta. The agreement comes in the wake of the signing this fall of the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty. During a visit to the Romanian-language school in the southeastern Hungarian town of Gyula on 28 December, Severin said that it would be preferable for Romania and Hungary to be admitted into NATO simultaneously. But he added that if one joined before the other, this would be reason to promote the other's membership from within the organization. Severin also met with Hungarian President Arpad Goncz, Prime Minister Gyula Horn, and opposition politicians. It was his first visit abroad as foreign minister. -- Ben Slay



To: OMRI-L
From: OMRI Publications <omripub@omri.cz> Subject: OMRI DAILY DIGEST I, No. 246, 30 December 1996 Cc:
Bcc:
X-Attachments:

OMRI DAILY DIGEST
No. 246, Part I, 30 December 1996

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

NOTE: The OMRI Daily Digest was not published from 23 December to 27 December.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN PROTESTS ENTER 43RD DAY. Marches and demonstrations are continuing in up to 47 towns and cities across Serbia, while opposition organizers announced plans for a gala open-air New Year's Eve party in Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported on 30 December. Last week, a team of OSCE representatives headed by former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez backed the opposition's view that the governing Socialists stole the local elections in Belgrade and 13 other places. Federal Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic called the OSCE statement "balanced" but stressed it was not binding on the Serbian government, international media noted. The opposition, however, demanded the authorities recognize the report. On 28 December, thousands attended the funeral of Predrag Starcevic, a teacher who on 24 December became the first fatality in the ongoing confrontation in the Serbian capital. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic blamed the police for his death. And on 29 December, riot police kept protesters inside Belgrade's Knez Mihailova pedestrian mall and prevented them from marching. -- Patrick Moore

ARMY, MONTENEGRO PUT PRESSURE ON MILOSEVIC. Opposition leaders issued a statement on 29 December saying that Milosevic was trying to turn Serbia into a prison and expressing their intention to defy him. They also charged that he plans to declare a state of emergency, AFP reported. But some army representatives and Montenegrin leaders are urging Milosevic to reconsider his position. The Nis-based 63rd Parachute Brigade and officers from other units issued an open letter to the Serbian president and to army commander Gen. Momcilo Perisic expressing their support for the students, Nasa Borba reported on 30 December. It is unclear, however, how deep support for such views runs in the army. Meanwhile, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic called on Milosevic to explain his position in public, Nasa Borba added. Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and Parliament Speaker Svetozar Marovic, for their parts, have expressed sympathy for the protesters, the Czech daily Mlada fronta dnes noted. -- Patrick Moore

SFOR BLOCKS EXHUMATION AT MASS GRAVE SITE. The NATO-led Stabilization Force on 28 December admitted that its staff blocked a Bosnian government forensic team from exhuming bodies in a separation zone between the Republika Srpska and the Bosnian Federation, AFP reported. Some 30 SFOR soldiers barred the forensic team from working on a site in northeastern Bosnia that is believed to contain the bodies of 120 Muslims killed after Serbs took Srebrenica in July 1995. SFOR had previously denied that its troops had taken such action but later said that the troops involved had failed to report what had happened to their superiors "in a timely manner." -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SERBS TO FORM PROFESSIONAL ARMY. The Bosnian Serb parliament on 28 December approved a bill on the creation of a professional army, international agencies reported, citing Bosnian Serb radio. Under the new law, "the professional armed forces are responsible for defending the territorial integrity and constitutional order of the Republika Srpska," AFP reported. There is also a clause--which is aimed at Serbs in Serbia-Montenegro--stipulating that people without Bosnian Serb citizenship can volunteer to join the army in case of conflict. Meanwhile, a Bosnian Serb court on 24 December decided to proceed with the in absentia trial of Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, despite international criticism. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBS BESIEGE CROATS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA ATTENDING CHRISTMAS MASS. Some 50 Orthodox Serbs gathered outside a Roman Catholic church in the town of Ilok, in eastern Slavonia, during a Christmas Eve midnight mass, international agencies reported. The Serbs were protesting the holding of the service. About 200 Roman Catholic Croats who had been displaced from the region during the 1991 Croatian-Serbian war were attending the mass under UN escort. They were trapped inside the church for three hours before the UN brought in military and civilian police reinforcements. After the service the Serbs broke into the church and vandalized the vestry. In neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croats in the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka went without their Christmas midnight mass for the fifth consecutive year amid continuing security fears, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

KOSOVO STUDENTS DEMAND EMERGENCY PARLIAMENTARY MEETING. Some 600 students signed a petition calling for an emergency meeting of the Kosovo shadow-state parliament, AFP reported on 24 December. The students urged that Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci also participate in the meeting, and they called for tougher action against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Albanian President Sali Berisha said that if the Kosovars wanted to gain their rights, they could not stand idly by during the protests in Belgrade. He also called for peaceful protests in Kosovo, noting that "it is very clear that [the Kosovars'] problems will not be solved in Tirana, Belgrade, Washington, London, or Paris [but] in...Kosovo." He repeated the warning that "Albanians on either side of the northern border will act as a unit in the event of war." -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PARDONS ETHNIC HUNGARIAN. Emil Constantinescu on 26 December pardoned Pal Cseresznyes, an ethnic Hungarian who was sentenced to 10 years in prison following inter-ethnic riots in Targu Mures in March 1990, RFE/RL reported. The move was seen as a conciliatory gesture timed to coincide with Foreign Minister Adrian Severin's visit to Hungary, which began on the same day. It was also regarded as a gesture toward the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), a member of the ruling coalition. Gyorgy Frunda, who was the UDMR presidential candidate in the November elections and also Cseresznyes's lawyer, repeatedly noted that only ethnic Hungarians and Roma were sentenced after the riots. Romanians escaped punishment, he stressed. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN ROUNDUP. Foreign Minister Adrian Severin on 24 December announced that his ministry has recalled a number of ambassadors in an attempt to improve Romania's image abroad, international media reported. The recalled ambassadors were serving in Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Israel, Finland, Columbia, and Costa Rica. Romania's permanent representative at foreign organizations in Vienna has also been recalled. In addition, Severin noted that Romania's former monarch, King Michael, will be able to visit the country "without any political difficulty." In other news, the Romanian government has announced it will double fuel prices next year to help cover losses caused by the depreciation of the leu and to meet IMF recommendations, international media reported on 29 December. The price for petrol is to be raised from 990 lei to 1,900 lei per liter and for diesel from 680 lei to 1,300 lei. -- Michael Shafir

SMIRNOV RE-ELECTED IN TRANSDNIESTER. Igor Smirnov has been re-elected president of the Transdniester breakaway region, Infotag reported. He won 71.94% of the vote in elections held on 22 December. Vladimir Malakhov, the only other candidate, polled 19.84%. At 57.1%, turnout was the lowest for either elections or referendums held in the separatist republic since the proclamation of independence in September 1990. Smirnov said he intends to continue working to strengthen Trans- dniestrian statehood and wants to keep Russian troops in the region until Tiraspol receives "firm guarantees" that the Transdniestrian problem will not be solved by force. Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi said the result of the elections should be viewed as a "recommendation" only. But he added that he is ready to continue the dialogue with the Tiraspol authorities on granting the region a special status within Moldova's borders, Infotag reported on 23 December. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVA DECLARES STATE OF ALERT DUE TO BAD WEATHER. The Moldovan government on 29 December declared a state of alert as the country faced freezing weather conditions, AFP reported. Temperatures have dropped to minus 30 degrees Celsius, the lowest since 1946. At the same time, the Russian Gazprom company drastically reduced supplies of gas in order to force Moldova to meet its debts. Moldova owes Gazprom some $401 million. In neighboring Romania, at least 20 people are reported to have died as a result of the freeze. -- Michael Shafir

VIDENOV RESIGNS AS BULGARIAN PREMIER, PARTY LEADER. Zhan Videnov on 21 December tendered his resignation as prime minister and leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, international media reported. Addressing the BSP's extraordinary 42nd congress, Videnov said he did not have the necessary trust within the party or society as a whole. He added that he will not apply again for leading posts with the BSP, the government, or the parliament. Videnov's move surprised both his supporters and opponents, since he had repeatedly said he would not give up power voluntarily. The congress voted to form a new BSP-controlled government. At an extraordinary session on 28 December, the parliament approved the resignation of Videnov's government by a vote of 211 to three with nine abstentions. Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev and former Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski are considered likely candidates for premier. -- Maria Koinova in Sofia and Stefan Krause

NEW BULGARIAN SOCIALIST LEADER ELECTED. Delegates to the BSP congress on 24 December elected Georgi Parvanov as new party chairman. Parvanov was deputy party leader under Videnov. He received 451 votes, while former Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski garnered 77 and former deputy BSP leader Yanaki Stoilov 45. Pirinski and Stoilov both belong to the party's reformist wing. Some observers consider the 39-year-old Parvanov to be a Videnov confidant, while others see him as a possible intermediary between the two rival BSP factions. Parvanov has said he will not seek the premiership. Meanwhile, the delegates also elected a new Supreme Council, which is comprised of both Videnov supporters and opponents. -- Maria Koinova in Sofia and Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT PARDONS 100 PRISONERS. Sali Berisha has declared an amnesty shortly before the New Year's celebrations, ATSH reported on 29 December. Some 100 prisoners have been either freed or granted reduced sentences. However, it is unknown whether Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano is included in the amnesty. Albania's seven prisons currently hold some 1,230 prisoners, including 30 women. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Halit Shamata has announced that the number of registered crimes decreased by 16% this year as compared with 1995. The parliament on 23 December adopted a package of laws providing for sentences of up to 20 years for producing and trafficking in drugs. Sentences for arms trafficking, rape, tax evasion, and corruption have also been increased. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
------------------------------------------------------------------------
SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING
1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write:
SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write:
UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L
3) Send the message

BACK ISSUES
Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail.
WWW
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/DD/Index.html

FTP
ftp://FTP.OMRI.CZ/Pub/DailyDigest/


REPRINT POLICY
To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Reprint.html

OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS

TRANSITION
OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the OMRI Daily Digest. For subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ or visit the Transition Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Transition/Index.html


OMRI ECONOMIC DIGEST
The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription available; for more information, write to ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the OMRI Economic Digest Web page at
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/ED/Index.html


RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT
The Russian Regional Report is a weekly publication (published every Wednesday) initially focusing on the local elections taking place throughout Russia during the Fall of 1996. After the election season is over, the Russian Regional Report will continue, turning to broader social, political, and economic issues of Russia's regions. To subscribe, please follow these instructions: 1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE REGIONS Your Name
Fill in your own first and last names where shown 3) Send the message


PURSUING BALKAN PEACE
Pursuing Balkan Peace contains the latest news about developments in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other countries of Southeastern Europe. Published every Tuesday, it contains both brief news summaries and longer essays on specific events or issues facing the people of the region. To subscribe, please follow these instructions: 1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@OMRI.CZ
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE BALKAN-PEACE Your Name
Fill in your own first and last names where shown 3) Send the message


RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE TRANSLATION OF THE OMRI DAILY DIGEST The full text of the OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and distributed the following day.
1) Compose a message to:
MAJORDOMO@ISF.RU
2) In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE OMRI Your Name
Fill in your own name where shown
3) Send the message

XS
SM
MD
LG