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Newsline - October 2, 1995


Vol. 1, No.191, 2 October 1995
The Democratic Party of Turkmenistan will debate awarding the republic's president, Saparmurad Niyazov, life-long powers to rule the party and state, the Turkmen Press news agency reported on 27 September. The decision was reached at the eighth plenum of the political council which met the same day in Ashgabat, according to the report monitored by the BBC. The Turkmen Communist Party renamed itself the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan in December 1991 under Niyazov's leadership; there is one other government-sponsored party in the republic, the Peasants' Justice Party. -- Lowell Bezanis

The "victims" of the Uzbek "cotton affair" continue to be rehabilitated in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. According to a 27 September Interfax report, Uzbekistan's Supreme Court dropped all charged against a former party boss, Viktor Yesin. Yesin, who held the post of Navoi Obkom first secretary, had been serving a six-year prison sentence since 1989 for bribery. This is the latest in a series of reversals from the original anti-corruption campaign that dominated the 1980s. Other notables most recently released from prison include the first secretary of the Uzbek Communist Party from 1986 to 1989, Imanjon Usmankhojaev, former Supreme Soviet speaker Akil Salimov, former Ideology Secretary Ideology Rano Abdullayeva, and former Prime Minister Narmonkhonmadi Khudaiberdiyev, all prominent Uzbek officials in the late 1980s. -- Roger Kangas

The decision to hold presidential elections in December has drawn a crowd of more than 200 demonstrators to the parliament building in the capital, Bishkek, according to RFE/RL. Striking miners in southern Kyrgyzstan's Osh region have linked their cause with that of the demonstrators in Bishkek. Their strike, originally against corruption in management, has expanded to include the policies of President Askar Akaev. A state of emergency, implemented after the 1990 riots, is still in effect in the Osh region. According to a 28 September report by Kyrgyz Kabar cited by the BBC, the state of emergency will have to be lifted before elections can take place. -- Bruce Pannier


Vol. 1, No.191, 2 October 1995
Preliminary results of the Latvian parliamentary elections on 30 September-1 October indicate that nine of the 19 slates have broken the 5% barrier to win seats in the parliament, BNS reported the next day. According to those results, the left-of-center Democratic Party Saimnieks will have 18 seats, the radical right Popular Movement for Latvia and the current ruling party Latvia's Way 17 each, the radical nationalist For the Fatherland and Freedom 14, the right of center Latvian National Conservative Party 8, the Farmers' Union and Latvian Unity Party 7 each, and leftist Latvian Socialist Party and National Harmony Party 6 each. The major surprise was the success of the Popular Movement for Latvia, whose leader, the German-Latvian activist Joachim Siegerist, was expelled from the current parliament for non-attendance and did not run again because of insufficient knowledge of Latvian. -- Saulius Girnius

The Estonian capital's two major dailies, Eesti Paevaleht and Eesti Sonumid, on 29 September announced they will unite from the following day under the name of Eesti Paevaleht, BNS reported. The first issue of Eesti Paevaleht appeared on 3 June with the merger of three right-of-center newspapers. The newspaper's chief editor Kalle Muuli said the merger leaves his paper without a serious rival in Tallinn but will still compete with the Tartu-based Postimees. -- Saulius Girnius

The Ukrainian government has set up a body within the Ministry of Environment and Nuclear Safety to monitor safety precautions at nuclear power plants, nuclear waste storage sites, and nuclear fuel production facilities, Radio Ukraine reported on 29 September. The body will be called the Main State Directorate for Control over Nuclear Safety. In other news, President Leonid Kuchma said that although he agreed with a G-7 proposal to restructure Ukraine's energy sector to compensate for the planned shutdown of Chornobyl by 2000, the closure of the facility will nonetheless require $4 billion in foreign aid, Radio Ukraine reported on 30 September. The G-7 last week said its plan would cost $1.44 billion (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 September 1995). -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Following a meeting between Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus in Washington on 29 September, the IMF approved granting Ukraine the third tranche--worth $350 million--of a stand-by loan, UNIAN reported the following day. Camdessus said his meeting with Marchuk convinced him that there were no serious differences of opinion between Ukraine and the IMF. Marchuk also met with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin to discuss setting up a Ukrainian treasury, forming a securities market, establishing mortgage procedures, and drawing up a program to reorganize Ukraine's engineering industry. Marchuk described the talks as "businesslike" and "constructive." -- Ustina Markus

Russian TV on 30 September reported that the parliamentary by-election campaign has begun in Belarus. In the last round of elections, only 45% of seats were filled, leaving 141 vacant. At least two-thirds of the 260 parliamentary seats must be filled before the new parliament can convene. By-elections are scheduled for 29 November. Parties that have so far registered with the Central Electoral Commission include the Social Democratic bloc, four liberal parties, the Union of Democrats, the Peasant's Party, and Citizen's Action, an alliance of the Citizen's Party and Green World Party. -- Ustina Markus

The 103rd airborne division in Vitebsk and the 38th airborne brigade in Brest will form the basis of a new rapid deployment force, high-ranking Ministry of Defense officials told Interfax on 28 September. They said the new units will recruit only volunteers and will deploy in helicopters, armored personnel carriers, or "landing vessels." They added that since Belarus's new defensive military doctrine does not require offensive units that can be deployed at long range, the military's large transport aircraft will be sold. -- Doug Clarke

The Sejm on 29 September overruled President Lech Walesa's veto of the bill on pensions, which foresees only one 2.5% increase in pensions next year. A failure to override the veto could have meant that inflation would rise to some 30% and the budget deficit would double. The president has one week to sign the bill or send it to the Constitutional Tribunal. Observers point out that there are some 9 million pensioners in Poland and that their votes count in the upcoming presidential elections. -- Jakub Karpinski

As of 29 September, sixteen presidential candidates were officially registered with the Central Election Commission: incumbent President Lech Walesa; former prime ministers Jan Olszewski and Waldemar Pawlak (who is also leader of the Polish Peasant Party); party leaders Aleksander Kwasniewski (the Democratic Left Alliance), Leszek Moczulski (the Confederation for an Independent Poland), and Janusz Korwin-Mikke (the Union of Real Politics); Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz; ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski; former National Auditing Commission President Lech Kaczynski; former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron; former National Radio and Television Council Chairman Marek Markiewicz; metal-worker Kazimierz Piotrowicz; cabaret performer Jan Pietrzak; businessman Bogdan Pawlowski; business school rector Tadeusz Kozluk, and Beer Lovers' Party activist Leszek Bubel. The deadline for registering was midnight on 29 September. Two candidates are still waiting for their registrations to be approved: radical peasant activist Andrzej Lepper and radical nationalist Boleslaw Tejkowski. -- Jakub Karpinski

Czech President Vaclav Havel on 1 October said he is against holding elections to the Senate at the same time as next June's parliamentary elections. The long-awaited creation of an 81-member Senate was approved by the parliament on 27 September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 September 1995). In his weekly radio talk, Havel welcomed the passing of the legislation and said the Senate may not have extensive powers but it will be a "significant constitutional safety fuse" as a second parliamentary chamber. He admitted that holding the first Senate elections alongside the regular parliamentary elections would be the cheapest solution but argued that it would better fit the "logic of the constitutional system" to hold them separately. He suggested that the Senate elections take place six months after the parliamentary ballot. -- Steve Kettle

Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, in an interview with Slovak Radio on 29 September, responded to the deepening conflict between the Slovak Information Service and the police, highlighted by SIS director Ivan Lexa's recent complaints to the attorney-general and interior minister about the "criminal activities" of police officers investigating the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son. Meciar noted that "a certain tension" exists between the police and the SIS but claimed he does not have enough information on the matter since the investigators of the Kovac Jr. case "are informing the president but not the interior minister or prime minister." Meciar said there is an effort to find someone from the SIS guilty in order to trigger the removal of his government, which since April has been responsible for appointing and dismissing the SIS director. -- Sharon Fisher

A festival of rock music took place in Slovakia on 29 September in memory of a Romani youth murdered in July in Ziar nad Hronom, TASR reported the same day. Rock bands taking part said the audience was protesting skinhead activities and racial violence. Also on 29 September, Romani political activists in both the Slovak and Czech republics met with government officials to discuss possible legislation against racism. The next day, some 100 people, including Roma, demonstrated against fascism in Ceske Budejovice. Police held back a group of about 60 skinhead observers. -- Alaina Lemon

Gyula Horn said in an interview on 30 September that improving the economy will have to take precedence over many leftist traditional values for some time, Magyar Hirlap and international media reported. But Horn, who is facing criticism from the left-wing of his party for introducing the toughest austerity package of economic reforms in Hungary since 1989, said he was not abandoning those values completely. He stressed that he had not forgotten the concerns of the Left and that present measures were only temporary. Horn, who was recently forced to abandon plans to appoint trade union leader Sandor Nagy to the cabinet to avoid a coalition split, said he was in favor of Nagy playing an important political role in Hungary in the future. -- Zsofia Szilagyi


Vol. 1, No.191, 2 October 1995
Bosnian troops in Kljuc told AFP on 1 October that they are eager for a fight and to take the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka. Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic told the French news agency that Serbs and Muslims might someday be able to live together "like French and Germans" but that for now, he knew of "no Serb man, woman, or child" who would live on "the same street" as Muslims. From Sarajevo, the BBC on 30 September said that the road from there to nearby Croatian-held Kiseljak would take about two weeks to open because the Serbs had mined and booby-trapped it in preparation for blowing it up. AFP on 1 October quoted UN sources as standing by their report that the Bosnian Serbs fired the shell that hit a Sarajevo market on 28 August. The Sunday Times and Voice of Russia had questioned that finding. -- Patrick Moore

U.S. mediator Richard Holbrooke spent the weekend shuttling between Sarajevo, Belgrade, Zagreb, Sofia, and back to Sarajevo. The BBC reported on 30 September that he looked "tired and frustrated." Holbrooke himself said that "all fundamental issues--Sarajevo, Gorazde, constitutional questions--remain unresolved...[and the sides are] very far apart." He noted that the Serbs and the Bosnian government even have very different concepts of a ceasefire. The BBC on 2 October suggested that he encountered differences in Zagreb as well. The VOA added, however, that Holbrooke at least publicly acknowledged one of Croatia's main concerns--that eastern Slavonia is a key issue in a complex peace process. Hina said that Foreign Minister Mate Granic brought this point home to the UN on 30 September. -- Patrick Moore

"Those who did it have offended Croatia and the Croatian army" is how Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, the primate of Croatia, responded to reports of killings, lootings, and torchings by Croatian troops in the former Serbian Krajina. Reuters on 1 October said he addressed an open-air mass for 3,500 soldiers and officers at Marija Bistrica, adding that nothing justifies harming a human being, regardless of his ethnic origin. The cardinal is highly respected and was an outspoken critic of the war with the Muslims in 1992. Vecernji list the same day noted that three-quarters of the Roman Catholic churches in Krajina were destroyed during Serbian rule, while only 2.5% of Orthodox buildings met such a fate. -- Patrick Moore

Mlada fronta dnes on 2 October said that the EU has issued a report condemning "terror against civilians" by Croatian troops in Krajina. Western news agencies reported that the Croatian Helsinki Committee accused Croatian troops of killing 12 elderly Serbs in the village of Varivode. Hina added on 30 September that John Shattuck, U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights issues, called for an end to the "climate of impunity" in Krajina and "major human rights abuses." He warned of "the imperative of ending all forms of ethnic cleansing as part of this peace process." Croatian Interior Minister Ivica Kostovic noted "isolated cases of burning and looting and reports of the killings of civilians," adding that "Croatia will take the most energetic steps without delay." -- Patrick Moore

The Federation of Vojvodina Hungarians and the Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians--following a meeting with Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn, President Arpad Goncz, and State Secretary Csaba Tabajdi on 29 September--have decided to work out a concept for autonomy, Magyar Nemzet reported on 30 September. Horn said his government will raise problems faced by the 300,000 ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina at all possible international forums to make sure their minority rights are not neglected in the upcoming settlement of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. To date, disagreements between the two parties in Vojvodina have blocked progress toward defending Hungarian minority rights in the province. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

The Slovenian parliamentary Committee for International Relations has claimed that owing to the deterioration in Slovenian-Italian relations, Slovenian minority rights are endangered in Italy, Nasa Borba reported last week. Meanwhile, Slovenia still has not resolved the demarcation of Adriatic maritime borders with Croatia. Globus on 28 September reported that Slovenia has proposed that it have complete control of the Gulf of Piran, which would give it access to the sea. In return, Slovenia would be prepared to make concessions in other Slovenian-Croatian disputes. It has set 5 October as a deadline for Croatia to make a decision on the proposal, but Zagreb is unlikely to agree in view of Croatian fishing and shipping interests. -- Daria Sito Sucic

Ion Iliescu on 29 September was received in Washington by U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Radio Bucharest reported. The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, the situation in the Balkans, and ecological issues. At the Romanian ambassador's residence in Washington, Iliescu met with representatives of big commercial and industrial firms. The next day, he visited the Boeing and Microsoft companies in Seattle. Iliescu said he hoped Romania's partner firms in the U.S. would lobby for his country to be granted permanent most-favored-nation status. -- Dan Ionescu

Doru Ioan Taracila and Jan Ruml on 29 September met in Bucharest to discuss police cooperation in combating organized cross-border crime, Romanian Television and CTK reported. Ruml said the number of illegal immigrants in the Czech Republic from Romania has dropped sharply since 1992 and that his ministry gives credit to the Czech-Romanian readmission agreement, which allows for illegal immigrants to be returned to their country of origin. Ruml was received the same day by Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, who noted that good relations between the two countries are reflected in the economic sphere. -- Matyas Szabo

Gen. Vasile Calmoi has said that Moldova is becoming a crossroads for illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, and mercenaries heading to the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported on 28 September. According to Calmoi, about 5,000 people, mainly illegal immigrants from Islamic countries, were arrested this year while trying to cross the Moldovan-Romanian border. He said that a "big criminal syndicate" with connections in Russia, Ukraine, and Romania is helping illegal groups to cross the Moldovan frontiers. Calmoi said his ministry would strengthen ties with other former Soviet republics to fight organized crime more efficiently. -- Matyas Szabo

According to Duma on 2 October, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov rejected opposition accusations that his cabinet had not made enough efforts to prevent Bulgaria from being included on the EU's blacklist of countries posing a security or immigration threat (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 September 1995). According to Videnov, EU diplomats had assured Sofia that Bulgaria's inclusion on the list was "not acute for our country." Spain's ambassador to Bulgaria, Jorge Fuentes, was quoted as saying that Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez has urged that Bulgaria be dropped from the list. Fuentes said "there is no political or practical reason" for Bulgaria to be on the list. -- Stefan Krause

Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias on 29 September accused Turkey of "attempting to intimidate Greece" over the issue of the country's territorial waters, Reuters reported the same day. In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Papoulias said Turkish threats of war if Greece extends its territorial waters from six to 12 miles are a direct violation of the UN charter, which forbids the use of threats or force. He said that the guiding principle of Greek foreign policy is to establish of good-neighborly relations with all countries of the region but that Turkey "is following a different approach in her policies vis-a-vis [Greece]." -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave