OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 202, 17 October 1995
OPPOSITION TO BOYCOTT KAZAKHSTANI ELECTIONS?
At an 11 October meeting in
Almaty chaired by Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the former speaker of the previous
Kazakhstani legislature, several opposition groups expressed concerns about
participating in what many called the "illegitimate" December parliamentary
elections, according to a 12 October Kazakhstani TV report cited by Interfax.
The leaders of Azat, the Workers' Movement, and the Social Democratic Party
stated that "the complete dependence of the future parliament on the executive
structures" will thwart its functioning as a "full-fledged legislative body."
Communist Party members who were also present at the meeting said they will
contest the elections. -- Bhavna Dave
NEARLY 55% OF GEORGIANS SUPPORT SHEVARDNADZE.
Recent opinion polls show
that nearly 55% of Georgians support the candidacy of Eduard Shevardnadze in
the 5 November presidential elections, according to a Kontakt news agency 17
October report cited by the BBC. Former Communist Party leader Dzhumber
Patiashvili is running at 17% in the polls and the other four candidates have
no more than 3-4% each. As for the parliamentary elections, the Georgian
National Democratic Party is in first, followed by Shevardnadze's Union of
Citizens of Georgia. -- Irakli Tsereteli
AKAEV PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON STATUS OF RUSSIAN.
Kyrgyz President Askar
Akaev has proposed holding a referendum on 24 December over whether to grant
state language status to Russian placing it on an equal footing with Kyrgyz,
Kabar reported on 12 October. The referendum would coincide with the
presidential elections. At his news conference, Akaev said one of his main
tasks upon re-election is "to come closer to Russia and to reduce the
emigration of the Russian-speaking population." -- Bhavna Dave
UZBEKISTAN TO JOIN CIS CUSTOMS UNION.
Uzbekistan will join the CIS
Customs Union founded by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in January 1995, Radio
Mayak reported on 15 October. The move followed Kyrgyzstan's entry into the
union last month. Although the details are still to be worked out, the union
will ostensibly allow for free trade among the states. Kazakhstan, for example,
agreed to lift customs control along the Russian border in September (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 21 September 1995). -- Roger Kangas
NEW DEFENSE MINISTER APPOINTED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Nursultan Nazarbaev has appointed General Alibek Kasymov to the post of defense
minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October. The 41-year-old former first deputy
minister and chief of the main headquarters has been in the Kazakhstani army
since 1992 and earlier served in the Baltic and Transcaucasian military
districts. He is a graduate of M.V. Frunze Military Academy. The previous
defense minister, General Sagadat Nurmagametov, has become an adviser to the
president. The new appointment is the latest development in Nazarbaev's ongoing
cabinet reshuffle (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 October 1995). -- Vyacheslav
HOUSE RULES IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Another complication has arisen for Kyrgyz
presidential candidates: they must gather 50,000 signatures that must be
collected from each of Kyrgyzstan's seven regions in proportion to that
region's share of the total number of voters in the country. The requirement
places some candidates at a disadvantage, as they may be well known in their
own regions but little known in other areas. The rule was adopted for use in
referenda and when it was voted on in the Legislative Assembly it caused "a
storm of indignation," according to a Kabar report cited by the BBC. RFE/RL's
Kyrgyz service reported that several deputies walked out in protest saying the
Central Electoral Commission had exceeded its authority. -- Bruce Pannier
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 202, 17 October 1995
UKRAINE'S SOCIAL WELFARE SYSTEM IN NEED OF REFORM.
Participants of a
World Bank roundtable in Kiev in which Ukrainian government officials also took
part concluded that the parliament's recent decision to raise the country's
poverty threshold underscores the need to overhaul the social welfare system
and accelerate the pace of privatization, Radio Ukraine reported on 16 October.
Officials pointed to recent government statistics indicating that some 90% of
the population require social protection, chiefly because of low and unpaid
wages in the still huge state sector, and that the country lacks a stable
middle class. Deputy Finance Minister Volodymyr Matviichuk said the government
needed to limit direct welfare payments to the poorest segments and reinvest
the savings into industry to raise production and earnings. Interfax-Ukraine
quoted Matviichuk as warning this year's budget deficit could reach 8.1% of GDP
because of the large amount of uncollected revenues and the slow pace of
privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN UKRAINE.
Ukrainian Radio on 16 October reported on
Ministry of Statistics data showing that foreign investment in the first half
of 1995 totaled $566 million, of which 62% went to Kiev, Donetsk, Odessa,
Dnipropetrovsk, and Lviv Oblasts. The bulk of foreign investment was used to
buy enterprises undergoing privatization. Despite fears in some quarters that
the country is about to be bought up and exploited by foreigners, the ministry
was positive about the effects of foreign participation in privatization. Most
of the privatized enterprises are reportedly functioning more effectively,
employing additional workers, and paying higher wages. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER DISMISSED.
Belarusian Interior Minister
Yurii Zakharenko was dismissed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 16
October, Reuters reported. Recently, there had been rumors of his imminent
dismissal. While no official reason was given for his removal, it is believed
to be connected with the disclosure that 3,000 policemen quit after Lukashenka
passed a decree depriving them of various privileges, including free public
transport, rent subsidies, and tax breaks. Security Council head Viktar Sheiman
has been appointed to replace Zakharenka. This latest dismissal leaves KGB
Chairman Uladzimir Yahorau as the only head of a power ministry to have
remained in office since July 1994, when Lukashenka made the appointments. --
BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER CHALLENGES PRESIDENTIAL DECREES.
Interfax on 15 October reported that Belarusian parliamentary speaker Mechyslau
Hryb has said he plans to ask the Constitutional Court to consider the legality
of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's recent government appointments. Lukashenka
last week named Leanid Sinitsyn and Vasil Dauleheu as deputy prime ministers
and made Mikhail Myasnikovich head of the president's administration. He also
appointed Leanid Maltseu as defense minister. Hryb claims that deputy prime
ministers and power ministers can be appointed only with the consent of the
parliament, which has not approved the appointments. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUS RESUMES ARMS REDUCTIONS, BUT MONEY SHORT.
Belarus on 16 October
resumed destroying conventional weapons under the CFE treaty. Arms reductions
should have been completed by November but were suspended in February because
Minsk did not have the funds to continue. Reuters reported that the head of the
Belarusian Defense Ministry's arms control agency, Mikhail Volachkau, said
Minsk would not be able to meet the deadline since there is enough money to
cover only a third of the last stage of arms reductions. -- Ustina Markus
GERMAN ARMED FORCES COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF VISITS ESTONIA.
Naumann in Tallinn on 16 October promised President Lennart Meri that Germany
would continue to assist in training Estonian military officers, BNS reported.
Defense Minister Andrus Oovel presented Naumann with an Estonian defense
concept that will be presented to the parliament. He also asked for aid for
developing Estonia's air control and monitoring system. Naumann had meetings
with his Estonian counterpart, Lt. Gen. Aleksander Einseln, and parliament
deputy chairman Arnold Ruutel. He left for Latvia on 17 October. -- Saulius
NEW POLISH ORGANIZATION FORMED IN LITHUANIA.
A new public organization,
the Congress of Lithuanian Poles, was founded on 14 October in Vilnius, RFE/RL
reported on 16 October. One of its founders, former Supreme Council deputy
Czeslaw Okinczyc, said the organization will not be involved in political
protests but will seek more constructive ties and close cooperation with the
country's authorities. It will thus play a sharply different role from that of
the Union of Lithuanian Poles. Okinczyc and Seimas deputy Artur Plokszto became
members of the organization's program council, which will be headed by a
Vilnius high school director. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH PREMIER, FOREIGN MINISTER IN DISCORD.
Polish Foreign Minister
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski told reporters on 15 October that Prime Minister Jozef
Oleksy has obstructed the nomination of several ambassadors and
undersecretaries of state at the Foreign Ministry. Bartoszewski added that such
nominations are the prerogative of the foreign minister. Gazeta Wyborcza
on 17 October suggested that the conflict might have been stoked by former
employees of the ministry who now work for the premier. The prime minister's
spokesperson said Bartoszewski's statement came as a surprise to the prime
minister's office and can be seen within the context of the forthcoming
presidential elections. Gazeta Wyborcza commented that Bartoszewski does
not want to resign but wants to regain control over diplomatic affairs. --
Jakub Karpinski and Dagmar Mroziewicz
CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS LOSE SUPPORT.
Opinion polls published in Czech
dailies on 17 October show the ruling Civic Democratic Party (ODS) increasing
its lead over the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD). According to the
Institute for Public Opinion Research (IVVM), the ODS has a steady 27% support,
while the CSSD dropped to 18% this month. The gap was narrowest in August (25%
to 23%), prompting discussion that the CSSD will mount a serious challenge in
next June's elections. The Center for Empirical Research put the ODS on 28% and
CSSD on 20% (27% and 23%, respectively, in August). According to IVVM, the
present coalition would win, with a majority sufficient to make constitutional
changes, if elections were held now. IVVM put the Christian Democratic
Union-Czech People's Party, expected to be the powerbroker after the elections,
in third place with 8%, ahead of the Communists (7%) and Civic Democratic
Alliance (6%). -- Steve Kettle
MORE PERSONNEL PURGES IN SLOVAKIA.
Maria Klimova, director of the
Foreign Ministry personnel department, said in Bratislava on 12 October that
preparations have been made for the dismissal of "the first batch of
ambassadors," Pravda reported two days later. According to Klimova, this
step is the result of "unfinished work" assigned to the ambassadors at an April
meeting in Bratislava. Klimova complained that although the ambassadors were
asked to help improve Slovakia's image, particularly in the media, some have
not reacted to "shocking" articles aimed against Slovakia. Foreign Ministry
State Secretary Jozef Sestak, in an interview with Slovak Radio on 16 October,
said that in his ministry, "it is an absolutely common matter that people come
and go." Defending "the good name" of Slovakia is not only the basic
responsibility of diplomats but also of every citizen, Sestak stressed.
Sme on 14 October reported that another wave of dismissals of hospital
directors has begun and that Slovak TV is preparing to dismiss some 120
employees. Meanwhile, Tomas Hasala, the government's 23-year-old spokesman, has
quit, Pravda reported on 17 October. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY BEGINS PRIVATIZING ELECTRIC ENERGY SECTOR.
The Hungarian State
Privatization and Holding Company (APV Rt.) on 16 October launched the
privatization of Hungary's $4.5 billion electric energy sector, AFP reported
the same day. Executive director of APV Rt. Bela Kunszler said Hungary wants to
sell 24% of the Hungarian Electricity Works (MVM Rt.), as well as stakes of
between 46.15% and 49.23% in six regional electricity supply companies and
holdings of between 34% and 49.7% in seven power stations. Hungary's sole
nuclear power station and the National Electricity Distribution Company will
continue to be 100% owned by MVM Rt. Bids are to be submitted by the end of
November, and APV Rt. hopes that sale contracts can be signed within 20 days.
-- Zsofia Szilagyi
HUNGARIAN PREMIER MEETS WITH AMERICAN INVESTORS.
Gyula Horn on 16
October met with representatives of Emerging Markets Managements, a group of
American investors, who acknowledged Hungary's current reforms and ensured Horn
of their readiness to make further investments in the country, Magyar
Hirlap reported the next day. Horn told the group of investors, whose total
investments in Hungary to date total some $70 million, that economic indicators
were improving and that the leadership is determined to continue with its
economic stabilization plan. Meanwhile, Horn told the parliament on 16 October
that he will visit Croatia and Serbia in the near future to help start economic
reconstruction efforts there. He noted that the former Yugoslavia's economic
reconstruction is of great importance for Hungary, whose economy has suffered
large losses since the outbreak of war in the region. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 202, 17 October 1995
KARADZIC BAGS FOUR GENERALS.
Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan
Karadzic succeeded at the recent session of the Bosnian Serb parliament in
removing four of the top military leaders: the second in command, General Milan
Gvero; intelligence chief General Zdravko Tolimir; and local commanders
Generals Djordje Djukic and Grujo Boric. The official reason given for the
shakeup was the need to rejuvenate the top command, but the International
Herald Tribune on 17 October called it a snub to Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic, who is regarded by many Bosnian Serbs as having betrayed them. The
BBC said the purge showed that Karadzic "is back on top" at the expense of
military leader General Ratko Mladic. -- Patrick Moore
DESPONDENCY IN BANJA LUKA.
Allied and Serbian forces continued to
exchange salvoes between Sanski Most and Prijedor on 16 October. The total
number of Serbian refugees fleeing the allied advance now appears to be some
100,000. Nasa Borba on 16-17 October reported on the situation in Banja
Luka, where most of these people have gathered, and noted that the
"humanitarian situation is catastrophic." The paper said that Serbs there have
lost faith in Belgrade and their own politicians and that the old rift between
Banja Luka and Pale is growing. There is talk of an eventual evacuation of the
Bosnian Serb "stronghold." -- Patrick Moore
MORE REPORTS OF WAR CRIMES.
The Independent on 16 October noted
that fighting is now concentrated along the Banja Luka defense line running
from Prijedor south to Sanski Most and southeast to Mrkonjic Grad. This area
saw some of the worst Serbian atrocities against Muslims and Croats in 1992,
and the allied forces are interested in looking at reported mass graves.
Reuters quoted UNHCR officials as saying that the Serbs appear to be getting
ready to resume "ethnic cleansing" following a few days' break. The
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 17 October cited UNHCR personnel as
adding that the current peace talks have given the war criminals more time to
do their dirty work. Reuters said that up to 4,000 Muslim and Croat males are
unaccounted for. Of these, according to the International Herald
Tribune, 500 alone come from Sanski Most. The Times and Daily
Telegraph on 16 October presented accounts of revenge killings of Muslim
civilians by Serbs fleeing Sanski Most. -- Patrick Moore
TENSIONS MOUNT OVER EASTERN SLAVONIA.
A standoff continues between the
Croatian authorities and rebel Serbs as to the time and venue for a new round
of talks on the peaceful return of eastern Slavonia to Croatian sovereignty.
President Franjo Tudjman and other top Croatian officials have continued to
state that Zagreb will reintegrate the area by military means if talks fail.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 17 October said that 22 Croatian
army tanks have left northern Bosnia for Nasice near eastern Slavonia, and the
Financial Times the previous day reported that at least 2,500 troops did
not return from Bosnia to their Adriatic garrisons. -- Patrick Moore
STRIKES IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Some 5,000 workers from the Rakovica metal
works, after striking for two weeks, on 16 October protested in front of
Serbian government offices in Belgrade. They demanded a "systematic solution
for their company's further survival," payment of back pay, and the dismissal
of the ministers for industry, trade, and finance, Nasa Borba reported.
Strikes have spread to Montenegro, including the Bjelasica Holding Company,
which was hit on 16 October. The Teachers' Union also announced a strike unless
back pay is delivered, Montena-fax reported on 17 October. The same source
added that Croatian Serb refugees are moving from Serbia to Montenegro, thus
creating a humanitarian problem. Meanwhile, double-digit monthly inflation was
recorded there in September, the first time this year that inflation has
exceeded 10%. -- Daria Sito Sucic
ROMANIAN-EU PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE MEETS.
The Romanian-European Union
Parliamentary Committee began a two-day meeting in Brussels on 16 October,
Radio Bucharest reported. The committee, set up in April in accordance with
Romania's association agreement with the EU, monitors the agreement's
implementation and seeks to promote a political dialogue between the two sides.
The current meeting focuses on Romania's prospects for joining European
structures. European Parliament President Klaus Haensch and EU foreign affairs
head Hans van den Broek, addressing the inaugural session, praised Romania's
efforts to adapt to EU standards in various spheres. They were quoted by Radio
Bucharest as promising that the EU would re-examine a decision to include
Romania on the so-called EU "black list" of countries whose citizens are
required to have visas for travel in EU member states. Meanwhile, President Ion
Iliescu ended his two-day visit to Tunisia on 16 October. Four bilateral
accords (on investments protection, economic and technical cooperation,
tourism, and health) were signed, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Dan
SZUROS DENIES STATEMENT QUOTED BY REUTERS.
Matyas Szuros, leader of the
Hungarian delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Bucharest
last week, denied that he had referred to "Szekler enclaves" in eastern
Transylvania in an interview with Reuters (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11
October 1995), Romanian dailies reported on 16-17 October. Szuros said the
mistake was the result of a translation error, explaining that "territorial
autonomy" was translated as "enclave". In a separate development, officials
from the Romanian and Hungarian defense ministries met in Romania to discuss
NATO expansion in Eastern Europe and bilateral relations, Radio Bucharest
reported. -- Matyas Szabo
MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION ORGANIZATION BECOMES PARTY.
A leading Moldovan
opposition organization, the United Democratic Congress (CDU), has renamed
itself the Moldovan Party of Democratic Forces at its fifth congress in
Chisinau, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 16 October. The party has branches
in more than 30 districts and representatives in the parliament and local
government. Valeriu Matei, who was elected leader of the new party, said the
current government is unable to stop the economic decline. The meeting called
for the government's removal and accused it of pushing the country into the CIS
sphere of interests. -- Matyas Szabo
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF TV CHIEF.
Democratic Forces (SDS) caucus leader Yordan Sokolov on 16 October asked the
office of the prosecutor-general to suspend Director of National TV Ivan
Granitski and start legal proceedings against him, Demokratsiya reported
the following day. Granitski has twice refused to broadcast a declaration by
SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov and an SDS statement protesting the "violation of the
provisional statute" of the state-run media. According to that document,
national media are obliged to reflect the diversity of political views, and
political parties have the right to present their views on TV and radio.
Sokolov argued that Granitski exceeded his authority and demanded that he be
suspended until the case is brought to court. * Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WASHINGTON.
Safet Zhulali and U.S.
Secretary of Defense William Perry signed a military agreement in Washington on
16 October, Lajmi i Dites reported the next day. Perry said that the
agreement is an important step for bilateral military relations and a basis for
better military cooperation. Albania and the U.S. signed a memorandum in
October 1993 to develop military cooperation and have held nine joint military
exercises in Albania this year. Five U.S. experts are attached to the Albanian
Defense Ministry. Zhulali praised the "extraordinary role" that the cooperation
with the U.S. has played in the reform of the Albanian military and in ensuring
security in the region. Albania provides facilities for the U.S. Navy and
air-bases for American spy-planes that gather information over Bosnia. --
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave