OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 199, 12 October 1995
EXXON TO START ITS FIRST PROJECT IN KAZAKHSTAN.
The U.S. oil company
Exxon will launch its first project in Kazakhstan next year with an exploration
on the Myortvy Kultuk block south of the Tengiz oil and gas field on the
northeastern coast of the Caspian Sea, according to Interfax on 11 October.
Exxon founded a joint venture with the Oryx Kazakhstan Energy Company and plans
to invest about $10 million in the first phase of the project. -- Bhavna Dave
OSCE OFFICE OPENS IN TASHKENT.
The OSCE formally opened its Uzbekistan
regional office in Tashkent this week, reported ITAR-TASS on 11 October.
Ambassador Alios Resnik, who has been working as head of the office since
August, stressed the need to focus attention on issues of regional stability
and greater cooperation, themes which dominated an OSCE-sponsored conference in
Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan this past June. The Tashkent office's first task is
already underway, as a conference on environmental protection began this week.
-- Roger Kangas
CANDIDATES ANNOUNCED IN KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
The former speaker
of the parliament, Medetken Sherimkulov, has been forwarded as a candidate for
the presidency by the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan, according to a
Kyrgyz Radio broadcast monitored by the BBC. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev was
nominated by representatives of public movements, creative unions and the
clergy. Other candidates expected to announce are Omurbek Tekebaev from the
nationalist Ata Meken Party, Yuruslan Toychubekov, head of the Adilet (Justice)
Civic Movement, Absamat Masaliev, head of the Communist Party and former First
Secretary of Kirghiziya (1985-90). The elections are scheduled for 24 December.
-- Bruce Pannier
WORRIES OVER TAJIK BORDER.
Since the postponement of the fifth round of
inter-Tajik talks in mid-September the Afghan-Tajik has grown increasingly
tense. On 11 October, Pavel Tarasenko, the commander of the Border Guards in
Tajikistan, said in the last few days the situation on the border has
deteriorated, ITAR-TASS reported. He warned that an estimated that 1,500
opposition militants have massed the border. The Tajik government revised
casualty figures from an attack on Russian troops near Khorog, saying that
seven people are dead and five wounded, which represents the greatest losses
reported by the border guards in a single attack since the fighting earlier
this year in April. The Tajik government has protested to the Afghan government
over events. -- Bruce Pannier
TAJIK AGRICULTURAL REFORMS NOT YIELDING RESULTS.
Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov expressed his dissatisfaction with agricultural reforms at a
government meeting on 7 October, according to a Khovar news agency report cited
by the BBC. The Tajik government has abolished export licenses, freed prices
for agricultural products, and now allows farmers to sell 30% of their cotton
crop themselves. The Khovar report said none of those measures are helping.
Rakhmonov promised to sign a decree to grant 50,000 hectares of land to farmers
for individual use. -- Bruce Pannier
CHESME TRIAL IN AZERBAIJAN.
Western diplomats and the Paris-based
Reporters Without Frontiers have expressed their concern over a trial of four
journalists connected to the satirical publication Chesme (Spring) in
Azerbaijan, AFP reported on 12 October. The defendants, all of which have
connections to the two main opposition parties in Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani
Popular Front and Musavat), are accused of "insulting the honor and dignity" of
the president, a violation of Azerbaijan's criminal code, and have been
awaiting trial since their arrest last March. The trial is similar to others
carried out in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Although the defendants may be
pardoned in the end, the trial serves to intimidate both journalists and
opposition. -- Lowell Bezanis
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 199, 12 October 1995
ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS.
Tiit Vahi on 11 October, after firing
Interior Minister Edgar Savisaar because of his alleged involvement in the
electronic bugging of leading politicians, submitted his resignation to
President Lennart Meri, BNS reported. Estonian law requires the parliament to
approve his resignation, which will also result in the dismissal of his
cabinet. Leaders of the Coalition Party and Rural Union decided to withdraw
from their coalition with the Center Party, and it appears likely that Vahi, if
asked by Meri to form a new government, will choose the Reform Party as a new
coalition partner. Probably in an effort to preserve the ruling coalition,
Savisaar resigned as chairman of the Center Party and pledged to quit politics
entirely. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN STATE AIRLINE DECLARED BANKRUPT.
The Latvian Commercial Court on
11 October declared Latavio bankrupt, BNS reported. The airline's total value
is estimated at 7 million lati ($13.3 million), but it owes 9.266 million lati
to Banka Baltija. A state administrator is to be appointed for Latavio within
three days. Latavio lost its regular scheduled flights to the newly created Air
Baltic in September and had recently been offering only charter flights. The
company has 560 employees. -- Saulius Girnius
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC PROGRAM.
lawmakers on 11 October approved a government economic program that includes
austerity measures to keep down inflation, international agencies reported the
same day. The plan is aimed at stimulating investment and boosting production
by lowering the corporate tax rate to just under 50% for most industries, with
special emphasis on exporters. It foresees cuts in social spending and a
monthly inflation rate under 2.4% in 1996, compared with 7.5% this year.
Reformers have criticized the program as not radical enough, while leftists in
the legislature oppose it as too austere. The government now has a year to
implement its plan without interference from the parliament. -- Chrystyna
DISPUTE OVER FLAG DISRUPTS CRIMEAN LEGISLATIVE SESSION.
between pro-Moscow deputies and Crimean Tatar representatives over which flag
or flags should be hoisted in the Crimean legislature's assembly hall disrupted
a session of the regional parliament on 11 October, Radio Mayak reported the
same day. An attempt by legislators from the Republican Party of Crimea, who
advocate the peninsula's secession from Ukraine, to display the Russian flag
prompted protests from the Crimean Tatars' Kurultai faction. Kurultai members
responded by attempting to hoist the flag of the Crimean Tatars next to the
Ukrainian flag. Parliamentary speaker Yevhen Supruniuk adjourned the session in
an effort to resolve the quarrel. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT BACKS PARLIAMENT.
Constitutional Court has ruled that the 1990-elected parliament has the legal
right to continue fulfilling the legislature's functions until a new parliament
is elected in the November by-elections, Reuters reported on 11 October.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has denounced the parliament as illegitimate,
because elections failed to bring in a new legislature in May. There was no
comment from the president's office on the ruling, but the conservative deputy
Mykola Skarynin said the ruling shows the president has been "systematically
violating the constitution." -- Ustina Markus
Belarusian Radio on 11 October reported that
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed a decree naming Leanid Sinitsyn and
Vasil Dauhaleu, who headed the president's administration and president's
control service, respectively, as deputy prime ministers. Mikhail Myasnikovich,
who was a deputy prime minister, has been made head of the president's
administration, while acting Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu has been confirmed
in that post. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that four independent papers have
been ordered closed by the president's office. The Ministry of Culture and
Press denied any knowledge of orders to shut down the papers. RFE/RL reported
the same day that two independent newspapers will no longer to be printed by
the state publishing house, the largest printing press in the country. --
Lech Walesa, speaking at his weekly press conference on
11 October, said he had asked his lawyers whether he could ratify the
Concordat, over the head of the parliament. He also praised Chief of General
Staff General Tadeusz Wilecki for his recent article in defense of the army.
Some politicians have insisted that Wilecki was overstepping his mark as a
member of the military by making political statements. Meanwhile, Primate Jozef
Glemp said the same day that the Episcopate would not endorse any candidate in
the upcoming presidential elections. He added that if some bishops did so, they
would not be representing the Episcopate's views, Polish dailies reported. --
YELTSIN ADVISOR: NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE NOT AIMED AT POLAND.
in Russia's military doctrine will not be directed against Poland, Yurii
Baturin, national security adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin told
Rzeczpospolita on 11 October. Baturin two days previously called for a
new doctrine, recalling that the present one, adopted two years ago, was
supposed to be temporary only. The article noted that the authors of the
present doctrine stressed Russia's "geopolitical situation" was worsening. --
CZECH GOVERNMENT TACKLES MONEY LAUNDERING.
The Czech government on 11
October approved a draft law intended to curb money laundering, Czech media
reported. Under the proposed law, banks, share dealers, casinos, and other
betting organizations will have to identify and report the names of people
involved in any transaction exceeding 500,000 koruny ($20,000). If the
parliament passes the law, it is likely to come into effect on 1 April 1996,
three months before general elections are held. The amount of "dirty" money in
the Czech economy is not known, but there have been frequent allegations that
the coupon privatization process provided a perfect screen for widespread money
laundering. -- Steve Kettle
CZECH FINANCE MINISTRY HALTS RIGGED TV GAME SHOW.
The Finance Ministry
on 11 October shut down part of a live television bingo show that is the
subject of an alleged multi-million koruny fraud, Czech media reported.
Ministry spokeswoman Ludmila Nutilova said the order was temporary and how long
it lasted would depend on police investigations into the scam. Two people have
been arrested so far, accused of manipulating computer data to fix the drawing
of winning numbers in one section of the show. -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAK OPPOSITION SPLIT.
A division between the leftist and non-leftist
opposition groups deepened after the failed extraordinary parliament session on
10 October, with the Common Choice (SV) coalition announcing it would hold a
meeting separate from the other opposition parties. The SV blamed not only the
coalition but also the opposition Christian Democratic Movement for increasing
political tensions. Of the 13 SV deputies who attended the meeting, seven
supported the statement. In a press conference the following day, Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL) Chairman Peter Weiss, who had abstained from the vote on
the statement, said his party "sits firmly on its own opposition stool" and
called the coalition's methods "arrogant, uncultured, incompetent, and
disrespectful of democratic principles." -- Sharon Fisher
PRIVATE SLOVAK FIRM STOPS PRINTING SME.
Concordia Press director
Frantisek Mana on 10 October announced to Sme his decision to cease
production of the daily and refused to discuss the matter further, citing
economic reasons. Sme officials hinted at political motives behind the
move, saying the paper's debts to Concordia do not exceed 1 million koruny.
Sme's 11 October edition was published by the state-owned firm,
Danubiaprint, but the company refused to continue publishing the paper. On 12
October, the daily was printed in the southern Slovak town of Komarno; and
according to a statement published that day, Sme officials did not know
what would happen in the future. Mana told TASR on 11 October that there are no
"dark forces" behind his decision to stop printing the paper. -- Sharon
DUTCH PREMIER BACKS SPEEDY ENTRY TO EU FOR HUNGARY.
Wim Kok has
expressed strong support for Hungary's speedy integration into the EU and NATO,
Reuters and Hungarian newspapers reported. Following talks with visiting
Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn in The Hague, Kok told a news conference
that while he would prefer Hungary's entry into the EU and NATO in relatively
quick succession, he was aware of the potential to upset Russia. "A balance
must be maintained that allows trust," he noted. Horn said that Hungary's ties
with the Netherlands seemed "the best among all the Western countries," despite
the controversial Hungaroton privatization deal, in which the Holland-based
Polygram lost the tender to a consortium of Hungarian musicians that had made a
significantly lower bid, Magyar Hirlap reported. -- Zsofia
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 199, 12 October 1995
BOSNIAN CEASEFIRE BEGINS.
International media on 12 October reported
that the latest of at least 35 Bosnian truces came into effect at 12:01 a.m.
local time. AFP quoted UN officials as saying that "things look generally
quiet" and that the next item on their agenda is to get the Serbian and allied
sides to agree on the location of the front lines. The International Herald
Tribune quoted Bosnian government soldiers of the victorious Fifth Corps as
saying "we'll see you for coffee in Banja Luka," which suggests that at least
some soldiers may not take the truce very seriously. UN Secretary-General
Boutros Boutros Ghali nonetheless expressed "deep satisfaction" that the
ceasefire has begun. -- Patrick Moore
"WE SEE NO GRAIN OF HUMANITY."
This is how an International Red Cross
official described the Bosnian Serbs' continued expulsion of Muslim and
Croatian civilians from northern Bosnia, the International Herald
Tribune reported on 12 October. Slobodna Dalmacija puts the figure
at 9,000, with men mostly unaccounted for. The paper also says that
internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" arrived in the
area on 21 September to launch "the terror campaign." Elsewhere, AFP cited
humanitarian organizations as saying that 40,000 panicked Serbian civilians are
fleeing before the allied advance. The International Herald Tribune
quoted Serbian officials in Prijedor as telling their people not to leave and
saying that "these are decisive moments of the struggle for freedom, honor, and
existence of the Serbian people." -- Patrick Moore
BELGRADE GROUP PROTESTS PRESS-GANGING.
BETA on 10 October reported that
the Center for Anti-war Action in Belgrade has launched a protest against
recently revived campaigns in Serbia to forcibly draft refugees. The center has
sent an open letter to Serbian Interior Minister Zoran Sokolovic condemning the
revived practice of forcing refugee youths across the Serbian border and into
Croatia's eastern Slavonia, where they are reportedly being pressed into
service by paramilitary units. -- Stan Markotich
MACEDONIAN POLICE ARREST PRO-BULGARIAN POLITICIANS.
Karakachanov, leader of the Sofia-based Internal Macedonian Revolutionary
Organization-Union of Macedonian Associations (VMRO-SMD), on 11 October said
that the Macedonian police over the weekend arrested a number of politicians
known for their pro-Bulgarian position, Bulgarian newspapers reported the
following day. The VMRO-SMD has accused the Macedonian government of a "gross
violation of human rights" and of taking advantage of the assassination attempt
on Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov. According to Demokratsiya,
several officials of the pro-Bulgarian Internal Macedonian Revolutionary
Organization-Fatherland Party were arrested, and the party's headquarters and
other offices were searched. -- Stefan Krause
SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES DRAFT BUDGET.
governing coalition on 10 October unanimously approved the 1996 budget
proposal, STA reported the following day. Expenditures are expected to total
some 570 billion tolars (some $5 billion). A significant proportion of
expenditures is earmarked for health, education, and infrastructure. Premier
Janez Drnovsek expressed satisfaction that the budget had been unanimously
approved, since earlier debates dealing with state spending suggested a
consensus would be difficult, if not impossible, to reach. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN VIENNA, FRANKFURT.
Ion Iliescu met with Austrian
Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and President Thomas Klestil in Vienna on 11
October, Romanian TV reported. They discussed bilateral relations, the
Hungarian minority in Romania, Bucharest's initiative for a reconciliation with
Budapest, and the future of the region in the wake of the ceasefire agreement
in Bosnia. Iliescu earlier the same day launched the German version of one of
his memoirs at the Frankfurt International Book Fair. -- Michael Shafir
ROMANIAN POLITICAL ALLIANCE ENLARGED.
The Bloc of National Unity (BUN),
a political alliance set up in December 1993 by the extreme nationalist Party
of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) and the Democratic Agrarian Party, has been
enlarged. Radio Bucharest and Romanian TV reported on 10-11 October that the
Ecologist Movement of Romania has joined the BUN. The signatories have agreed
to run on separate lists in the local elections due in early 1996 and to
support the best-placed candidate among them in the run-offs. -- Michael
ROMANIAN STUDENTS GO ON STRIKE.
Students from Bacau, Ploiesti, and
Galati went on strike on 10 October, Romanian media reported on 10-11 October.
They are demanding the abolition of a special tax on students who have to
repeat a year, reduced fares on public transportation, changes in the
scholarship-awarding system, and more dormitories. A large number of professors
joined a demonstration in Galati supporting their demands. Radio Bucharest on
11 October reported that Queen Ana, the spouse of Romania's former King
Michael, who is currently paying a visit to Romania, stopped by the site where
the student demonstration was held. The radio said the students greeted her
arrival with shouts of "no politics." -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT VISITS GERMANY...
Mircea Snegur met with German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn on 11 October, Moldovan and international
agencies reported. The two leaders signed an agreement on bilateral ties. Kohl
said Germany supported Moldovan sovereignty and territorial integrity, and he
underscored the importance of reaching a peaceful settlement in the Dniester
breakaway region. Snegur replied that Chisinau has made a reasonable compromise
by proposing a special status for the region, but Tiraspol is "probably waiting
for the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Russia." During
his three-day visit, Snegur is also scheduled to meet with President Roman
Herzog, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, and Bundestag deputies. -- Michael
...AND SUPPORTS INITIATIVE FOR ALL-PARTY FORUM.
Snegur, speaking before
his departure to Germany, said he supports the Social Progress Party's
initiative for a forum composed of all political forces in the country,
including the Gagauz and Dniester region, to overcome the country's political
crisis, Moldovan and international agencies reported on 10-11 October. He
proposed the forum be organized under presidential patronage. A memorandum of
conciliation signed by such a large-scale gathering would be a "true accord"
between all parts of the society, Snegur concluded. -- Matyas Szabo
HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT CONCLUDES VISIT TO BULGARIA.
Arpad Goncz, on the
last day of his visit to Bulgaria, addressed the Bulgarian parliament,
international media reported. He was applauded by the opposition when he stated
Hungary's wish to join both EU and NATO. During talks with Bulgarian Prime
Minister Zhan Videnov, Goncz discussed the possibility of future regional
cooperation between the two countries within the Central European Initiative
and CEFTA. Videnov emphasized that Bulgaria will do everything in order to be
eligible for CEFTA membership, including paying back the 86 million
transferable ruble debt to Hungary as soon as possible, partly in a barter deal
for Bulgarian medicines. Prior to joining CEFTA, however, Bulgaria wants to
conclude a bilateral free trade agreement with Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi and
WESTERN ENERGY FOR BULGARIA?
Western ambassadors to Bulgaria on 11
October asked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev to
examine the possibility of shutting down Reactor No. 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear
power plant in return for electricity from the West, Bulgarian newspapers
reported the following day. According to Reuters, French Industry Minister Yves
Galland told the National Assembly in Paris that France had made such a
proposal to Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, the current EU president;
President of the European Commission Jacques Santer; and the German government.
Galland said that existing connections make such a transfer possible. -- Stefan
FIRST ARREST AFTER PASSAGE OF GENOCIDE LAW IN ALBANIA.
Shefqet Peci, who
was a deputy parliamentary speaker and transport minister under the Communist
government, was arrested on 11 October and accused of ordering the murder of 21
villagers from Buzemadhi, near Kukes, in 1944 in his capacity as a partisan
army commander. Peci is the first person to be accused under the Law on
Genocide, passed on 20 September 1995. Meanwhile, leaders of the Democratic
Alliance and the Social Democratic Party agreed to petition the Council of
Europe to repeal some articles of the law, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on
11 and 12 October. -- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave