OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
TsIK DENIES REGISTRATION TO MUSLIMS, OUR FUTURE.
The IK) refused to
register the Muslim Union of Russia and Our Future because they do not have the
necessary 200,000 signatures. The Muslim Union attracted a lot of media
attention earlier this year as the first Muslim party to contest the elections.
Our Future is led by the extreme Communist Sazhi Umalatova. A Chechen,
Umalatova resigned from Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party in January in
protest over what she considered his weak attempts to oppose President Boris
Yeltsin's decision to use force in the republic. The TsIK has so far banned
seven parties and registered 41, including the Federal Democratic Movement
which had its registration delayed the day before because one of its candidates
was on two blocs. The process will continue on 10 November. * Robert Orttung
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ASKED TO EXAMINE ELECTORAL LAW.
The Supreme Court
has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of Article 62 of the
law on parliamentary elections, which sets the minimum turnout for valid
elections at 25% and stipulates that parties must gain at least 5% of the vote
nationwide to win any of the 225 Duma seats allocated from party lists, Russian
media reported on 9 November. Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov
said an examination of the case may take time. According to Russian TV, the
court will become involved in a "high stakes political game" if it decides to
hear the case; if the court strikes down the law soon, Duma elections could be
postponed, and if it strikes down the law after 17 December, the election
results could be declared illegitimate. Last-minute amendments to the electoral
law are scheduled to be debated in the Duma on 10 November. * Laura Belin
ORT CHOOSES DEBATES OVER MONOLOGUES.
Sergei Blagovolin, director-general
of Russian Public TV (ORT), announced that the network will devote its campaign
coverage to debates and round tables, rather than candidates' monologues,
Russian media reported on 9 November. Each officially registered party (at last
count, there were 41) will be represented at one morning debate for 30 minutes
and at another for 30 minutes during prime time. Random drawings will determine
which parties will face each other in the debates. Most parties criticized the
decision, arguing that they should be allowed to structure their own television
campaign appearances. But Anatolii Vengerov, the chairman of the President's
Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes, told ORT the network's proposal was
consistent with the rules on campaign coverage and would benefit voters by
allowing them to compare candidates side by side. Parties that can afford it
will be able to buy additional political advertising time on ORT. * Laura
JOURNALIST ATTACKED AND ROBBED IN CHECHNYA.
Aleksandr Yevtushenko, a
correspondent for RFE/RL and Komsomolskaya pravda, was attacked in the
Nadterechnii region of Chechnya (near the border with Ingushetiya) on 8
November, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Yevtushenko said five armed men took
his car and equipment and threatened to shoot him but released him with a
warning to "keep quiet." Upon returning to Grozny, he reported the incident to
the Chechen Interior Ministry, where he was told the Nadterechnii region is not
controlled by the police. * Laura Belin
DUDAEV DELEGATION PROPOSES PRISONER EXCHANGE.
At a 9 November meeting of
the Special Observer Commission in Grozny, Chechen military commander Aslan
Maskhadov proposed the resumption of the long-stalled prisoner exchange called
for in the 30 July Russian-Chechen military accord, Russian agencies reported.
Dudaev negotiator Kazbek Makashev told NTV that the Chechen side proposed
exchanging 14 Russian servicemen for 145 separatist fighters, as had been
agreed by the two sides in September, before the attempted assassination of Lt.
Gen. Anatolii Romanov led to the suspension of negotiations. Russian officials
refused to comment on the offer. Meanwhile, NTV reported that the frequent
protest meetings of pro-independence Chechens in front of the Presidential
Palace in Grozny have been increasing in size in recent days, despite attempts
at security checkpoints around the city to keep the protesters out. * Scott
YELTSIN PROMOTES BARSUKOV AND KULIKOV.
President Boris Yeltsin signed a
decree promoting Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov and
Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov to the rank of army general, ITAR-TASS
reported on 9 November. Both were previously Colonel Generals. Barsukov had
graduated from the Frunze Military Academy, while Kulikov graduated from both
the Frunze Academy and the General Staff Academy. * Constantine Dmitriev
VOLGA COSSACKS AGAINST ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS.
The Volga Cossacks will
desert the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) if it forms an electoral
coalition with the Communists, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 9
November, quoting Boris Gusev, ataman of the Volga Region Cossack units. He
said the Cossacks' ideology is to serve the Russian state and not political
parties. In spring 1995, the Volga Cossacks joined KRO under the assumption
that it was non-partisan. The Cossacks' attitude towards the Communist Party
and its ideology varies in different regions. Don Region Cossacks have backed
the Communists for the upcoming parliamentary elections, while in Voronezh
Oblast, three Cossacks were ostracized from the community for distributing
"Communist Party propaganda." * Anna Paretskaya
GRACHEV OPENS NATO MISSION.
During a visit to NATO headquarters that had
not been included in his original itinerary, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
opened a Russian military mission to NATO under the Partnership for Peace
program, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Grachev expressed confidence that
Russia and NATO will cooperate in the planned Bosnian peace implementation
force. Meanwhile, Federation Council Security and Defense Committee Deputy
Chairman Petr Premyak complained that Grachev had not consulted the Council
prior to agreeing to send Russian troops to Bosnia. Article 102 of the Russian
Constitution specifies that the Council should approve the use of Russian armed
forces outside the country. * Constantine Dmitriev
YELTSIN ENDORSES KOZYREV.
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev met with
President Yeltsin at his hospital in Moscow on 9 November, after which he told
an NTV interviewer that Yeltsin had "expressed his support for the foreign
minister." On the same day, ITAR-TASS reported that Yeltsin signed a decree
appointing Vasilii Sidorov, currently Russia's first deputy UN representative,
as deputy foreign minister. Sidorov will handle administrative and cadre
affairs, which Kozyrev has been criticized for neglecting. Meanwhile, Yeltsin
vetoed a bill calling for Russia to unilaterally exit from UN sanctions against
rump Yugoslavia. He vetoed a similar measure on 14 September. * Scott
RUSSIA PLANS TO BUILD FIVE NEW NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS.
Ministry of Nuclear Energy is planning to construct five new nuclear power
stations in Russia, Vitalii Lebedenko, president of Rosenergoatom, told
Interfax on 9 November. Lebedenko said two would be constructed in the Far
East, one in the Urals, and two in European Russia. The first of the Far East
plants is already under construction. Lebedenko claimed that Russian public
opinion, which turned against nuclear power after the Chornobyl disaster in
1986, has now become more supportive of it. Russia currently has nine nuclear
stations, generating 13% of its electricity needs. In 1992, Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin announced a program for a 60% boost in nuclear power capacity by
2010. * Scott Parrish
CHUBAIS SAYS CENTRAL BANK CHANGE WILL HAVE NO NEGATIVE IMPACT.
Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, responding to concern among pro-reform
observers at Aleksandr Khandruev's appointment to the post of acting Central
Bank head, said the bank-government relations will not be fundamentally
altered, Russian agencies reported on 9 November. Meanwhile, the bank's deputy
chairman, Andrei Kozlov, told an international conference on the Russian stock
market in Moscow that he was upset by the removal of Tatyana Paramonova. He
said that Paramonova's "competence and professional skills could not be
doubted." Paramonova had become a symbol of the government's tough monetary
policy, so her departure is causing some unease among pro-reform observers. *
ICON SMUGGLER FOUND GUILTY.
A former Russian customs officer pleaded
guilty in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina on 8 November to
participating in a Moscow-based smuggling ring that authorities said operated
undercover for almost two years, Western agencies reported the next day.
Vladimir Veshkin was charged on one count of smuggling illegal merchandise in
February 1994. He was caught with 6 religious icons. But federal agents linked
Veshkin to at least 100 illegally imported icons obtained by undercover agents
or found at a shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Authorities said that
Veshkin bought the icons on the Moscow black market for $5 and resold them in
the U.S. for as much as $400. Veshkin, who is not a U.S. citizen, could be
deported for his crime. He also faces five years in federal prison and a
$25,000 fine. * Thomas Sigel
LESPROMBANK PRESIDENT SLAIN.
Lesprombank President Pavel Ratonin was
killed outside his Moscow home on 8 November, ITAR-TASS reported the next day.
Police described the murder of the 63-year-old banker as a gang-style contract
killing. Bankers and businessmen have been the most prominent victims of
ongoing killings in Moscow and other cities. The Association of Russian Banks
said organized crime groups are attacking bankers to seize control of the
profitable banking sector. Meanwhile, on 9 November, ITAR-TASS reported that
police have arrested a suspect in the murder of business leader Ivan Kivelidi,
who was poisoned in his office in August. Kivelidi was chairman of the Round
Table lobby group of business leaders. Nine of the group's 30 leaders have been
killed in the last year and the entrepreneurs have offered a $1 million reward
for information leading to the arrest of Kivelidi's murderers. * Thomas Sigel
DOMESTIC FOOD PRODUCTION IS FALLING, IMPORT IS INCREASING.
In the first
nine months of 1995, the production of some foodstuffs fell by up to 33%
compared to the same period in 1994, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 9
November. The production of bread fell by 12%. A spokesman for the Trade
Committee said that domestic production meets only 74-89% of the demand for
meat and milk products and only 40-50% of demand for oil and sugar. It is
estimated that by the end of this year, Russia will have to import 300,000
metric tons of meat, 700,000-800,000 metric tons of milk products, and 200,000
metric tons of vegetable oil. * Natalia Gurushina
RUSSIA TO GET CREDIT FROM EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF JAPAN.
Bank of Japan agreed to open a credit worth $400 million to Russia for the
technical reconstruction of the KamAZ car plant, Yaroslavl oil processing plant
and St. Petersburg's company "Impuls," Moskovskaya pravda reported on 9
November. Russia and Japan also discussed the possibility of converting a
humanitarian credit of $500 million, which had been agreed upon but not yet
realized, into an additional industrial loan. * Natalia Gurushina
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
TURKISH CONCERNS ABOUT MEDZAMOR.
In light of what it termed "existing
risks," Turkey officially urged Armenia to halt its plans to revive the
Medzamor-2 nuclear reactor on 9 November, Reuters reported the same day. A
Turkish Foreign Ministry statement noted that the reactor, "whose security is
debatable," was built in an area prone to earthquakes and any disaster there
would directly affect Turkey. The day before, Russia's Atomic Energy Minister
Viktor Mikhailov and Armenia's Energy Production Minister Gagik Martirosyan
signed a protocol on reopening the plant, Interfax reported. At a press
conference, Martirosyan said Armenia had been receiving political,
technological, and financial assistance from Russia since March 1993 to bring
the plant on line again. The plant began generating electricity on 6 November.
* Lowell Bezanis
LOCAL ELITES HELP AKAEV.
Regional leaders are actively aiding Kyrgyz
President Askar Akaev by refusing to verify signatures in support of other
presidential candidates in their area, the Russian newspaper
Ekspress-khronika reported on 9 November. The head of the Jumgalskii
region reportedly expelled "a group" for supporting one of the opposition
candidates, saying the region supported only one contender for the
presidency--Askar Akaev. Other reports say even local doctors refuse to treat
patients if they have not signed the petition endorsing Akaev and school
directors have been warned that they may be subject to administrative measures
if they do not hold rallies in support of Akaev. * Bruce Pannier
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR CULTURE.
Kuchma, speaking to the Plenum of Creative Unions in Kiev on 9 November, said
the government will continue to support culture, Ukrainian TV reported the same
day. He said the state will provide immediate assistance to the
cinematographers' and writers' unions. Cultural activists and artists
complained bitterly at the meeting about the decay of culture in the face of
Ukraine's economic crisis and government cuts in subsidies. Kuchma also
announced that he will shortly issue a decree on the reconstruction of the
Mykhailivskyi and Uspenskyi cathedrals in Kiev, destroyed by the Soviet regime
in the 1930s and 1940s, respectively. * Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINE HALTS OIL DELIVERIES AFTER PIPELINE ACCIDENT.
Ukrainian TV on 9
November reported that oil deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline to Europe have
been suspended following an accident the previous night. The Druzhba pipeline
transports oil from Russia to East and Western Europe. The accident occurred in
the Transcarpathian region. Some 150 square meters of ground surface were
contaminated, and some oil spilled into the nearby Latoritsa River. * Ustina
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT RAILS AGAINST CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, following the Constitutional Court's ruling earlier this
week that decrees passed by the president in August contravene the
constitution, has charged that the court itself is unconstitutional, NTV
reported on 9 November. At a closed session with the incomplete new parliament,
Lukashenka said he had information that the Constitutional Court has ties to
opposition politicians. He also stated that the nine members of the
Constitutional Court, which was not elected by the people, should not be
allowed to pass judgment on legislation for the whole population. He added that
he would take decisive action if the court did not change its ruling.
Secretary-General of the Constitutional Court Leanid Litkau defended the
court's decision, saying no member of the court is involved in politics or has
any political ambitions. The court judges decrees only in accordance with the
country's constitution and legislature, he stated. * Ustina Markus
ESTONIAN PREMIER IN ICELAND.
Tiit Vahi on 9 November met with his
Icelandic counterpart, David Oddson, to discuss, among other things, the
introduction of visa-free travel between the two countries, BNS reported.
Oddson said his Foreign Ministry was working on abolishing visas between all
the Baltic states and Nordic countries. Vahi presented a draft investment
protection agreement. Iceland's investments in Estonia have risen this year
from 1.5 million kroons ($131,000) to 5.2 million kroons. Vahi also had talks
with president Vigdis Finnbogadottir, parliamentary speaker Olafur Einarsson,
and Nordic Council President Solrun Gisladottir. * Saulius Girnius
TALKS ON FORMING LATVIAN GOVERNMENT.
Prime minister nominee Maris
Grinblats of the rightist National Bloc and Latvia's Way coalition held
unsuccessful talks with the Unity Party and the leftist Socialist Party on 9
November, BNS reported. Unity Party faction head Edgars Bans said the party
would not leave the rival National Conciliation Bloc. The heads of the two
largest factions in the NCB--Aivars Kreituss of the Democratic Party Saimnieks
and Odisejs Kostanda of the Popular Movement for Latvia--refused even to hold
talks with Grinblats. * Saulius Girnius
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT CLARIFIES POLISH PRESIDENT'S RIGHTS.
on 9 November amended the so-called small constitution to state that the Sejm
has three months in which to pass the budget once it has been submitted and
that if it fails to do so, the president has 21 days to dissolve the
parliament, Polish dailies reported on 10 November. President Lech Walesa
earlier this year delayed promulgating the 1995 budget and threatened the Sejm
with dissolution, arguing that the time he had delayed promulgating the budget
should be subtracted from the three months allocated to the Sejm. * Jakub
POLAND ON BOSNIAN PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS.
US Defense Secretary William
Perry, speaking in Brussels on 9 November, said that countries not belonging to
NATO that take part in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia cannot count on
financial help from the alliance. Polish Ambassador to Belgium and the WEU
Andrzej Krzeczunowicz, however, told reporters that Poland is ready to send a
battalion, a field hospital, or a logistic unit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying
Polish participation under the alliance's supervision is important for Poland's
future NATO membership, Polish dailies reported on 10 November. * Dagmar
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL IN POLAND.
Boutros Boutros Ghali arrived in Poland
on 9 November for a four-day visit. Polish President Lech Walesa declared that
Poland will support all UN actions but said "our further participation in
financing peace operations cannot be expected" due to economic difficulties.
Ghali came to Poland to hold talks with Polish politicians on country's duties
as a non-permanent member of the UN, Rzeczpospolita reported on 10
November. * Dagmar Mroziewicz
CZECH INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS RACIST ATTACKS BECOMING MORE VIOLENT.
Ruml told a parliamentary seminar on extremism on 9 November that racist
attacks in the Czech Republic account for only a insignificant part of all
crimes but that they are becoming increasingly violent, Czech media reported.
He admitted that the public frequently sympathizes with those who attack Roma.
Attorney-General Bohumira Kopecna said the number of people prosecuted for
racist crimes increased from 168 out of a total of almost 86,000 prosecutions
last year to 239 out of 54,000 in the first six months of 1995. Parliamentary
chairman Milan Uhde criticized a draft law due to be submitted by Ruml this
month for its "clumsy" definition of extremism. President Vaclav Havel earlier
this week also criticized the proposed law, as it lists environmental activists
alongside skinheads in a directory of "extremist" groups. * Steve Kettle
SLOVAK PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO ACCUSATIONS.
President Michal Kovac on 9
November responded to accusations made the previous day by Igor Urban, chairman
of the parliamentary agency overseeing the Slovak Information Service. Urban
had said that Kovac may have misused his powers by seeking intelligence reports
from the SIS. Kovac strongly rejected Urban's accusations, saying he was
"deeply troubled" that Urban had suggested that the president had violated the
law. Kovac said all he had done was ask for a report on SIS activities, to
which he is fully entitled by law, Pravda reported. Also on 9 November,
Kovac's son, who was abducted in August and is currently in jail in Austria,
announced that he wants to enter Slovak politics after his case is closed. *
SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES LANGUAGE BILL.
The Hungarian Civic Party on
9 November expressed concern about preparations for a demonstration outside the
Slovak parliament on 15 November, when the controversial language bill is
scheduled for discussion, Pravda reported. The demonstration is
allegedly being organized by the government coalition in order to influence
voting on the bill. Also on 9 November, the Democratic Union stressed its
opposition to the bill. DU Deputy Chairman Ludovit Cernak, who previously
served as chairman of the Slovak National Party, told reporters that DU
deputies are not against a state language law; however, he criticized the
current version, saying that under its provisions, the popular Slovak opera
singer Peter Dvorsky would be prosecuted if he were to sing an aria in Italian.
* Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PREMIER NOMINATES NEW LABOR MINISTER.
Gyula Horn has nominated
Peter Kiss, administrative state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office and a
fellow member of Socialist Party, as labor minister, Hungarian newspapers
reported on 9 November. If his appointment is approved by the parliament, Kiss
will replace Magda Kovacs Kosa, who resigned last month because of differences
of opinion over the government's social welfare policy (see next item). Kiss is
closely linked to the Socialist Party's left wing, which has become
increasingly critical of government economic policy for neglecting leftist
values and the party's election platform. * Zsofia Szilagyi
HUNGARIAN CABINET ACCEPTS FIRST VERSION OF MODERNIZATION PROGRAM.
cabinet on 9 November accepted the first version of a modernization program
that includes preparations for meeting criteria for EU and NATO accession and a
three-year economic plan, Hungarian media reported the next day. The cabinet
also approved a legal harmonization program stipulating regulations for
accounting, insurance, competition, consumer protection, and the banking
system. Further, it decided that employers will have to pay full sick benefit
for the first 15 days of an employee's illness. The original proposal was for
employers to pay full benefits for 25 days. Former Labor Minister Kosa--fearing
that if this proposal were implemented, employers would want to dismiss workers
who were frequently sick--had advocated 15 days only. She resigned over this
issue, and many other ministers threatened to follow suit if the government
were not able to agree on a social welfare policy. * Zsofia Szilagyi
NEW TRADE UNIONS HEAD IN HUNGARY.
Laszlo Sandor on 9 November was
elected president of the National Federation of Trade Unions (MSZOSZ),
Hungarian media reported. Formerly vice president of the union, Sandor said the
MSZOSZ will be somewhat different but noted that since all decisions are made
collectively, there are unlikely to be any radical changes. Sandor replaces
Sandor Nagy, who resigned last month because of differences with the government
over leftist values and internal conflicts within MSZOSZ (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 19 October, 1995). * Zsofia Szilagyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 220, 10 November 1995
TENSIONS MOUNT IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
International media on 10 November
reported that Croatian troops have occupied part of the buffer zone formerly
separating them from rebel Serb forces backed by the rump Yugoslav army in the
Vinkovci-Nustar area behind Vukovar. A UN official told AFP that there was no
fighting and that the Croatian move did not indicate that an offensive was
under way. Reuters added that 350 men of the 3,000-strong elite Croatian Tiger
Brigade were also seen heading toward the area. Other international agencies
said the previous day that both Croatian and Serbian forces were massing and
that, "in a surprise move," Belgian peacekeepers pulled out of their
observation and control posts. Top Croatian officials have repeatedly said they
would retake eastern Slavonia by force if talks fail. Serbian negotiators this
week rejected international mediators' proposals and set conditions that Zagreb
considers unacceptable. * Patrick Moore
KRAJINA REFUGEES SUFFER IN SERBIA.
The UN Security Council on 9 November
unanimously approved a resolution condemning all violence in the former
Yugoslavia. The bulk of the admonitions was directed at the Bosnian Serbs, who
were urged to close detention camps and provide international monitors with
access to suspected mass grave sites. AFP added that Croatia was told to
respect the rights of Serbs in the former Krajina and to let refugees go home.
The warnings to Zagreb reportedly came at the behest of Moscow, Paris, and
London. Mlada Fronta Dnes on 10 November showed a photo of elderly Serbs
near Knin receiving UN relief packages. Meanwhile in Belgrade, the Alternative
Information Network said that Serbian refugees in Krajina who fled to Serbia
live as outsiders and are terrorized by paramilitaries led by internationally
wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan." Many Krajina Serbs said they
would rather go home, even if their houses were in ruins, than stay on in
Serbia under such conditions. * Patrick Moore
MILOSEVIC SHOWS NO DESIRE TO COMPROMISE.
Reuters on 9 November reported
that U.S. negotiators will hand over documents to the Bosnian, Croatian, and
Serbian delegations at the Dayton talks that, it is hoped, may lay the
foundation for a regional peace. But Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has
already said that he will back no plans providing for the ouster of Bosnian
Serb leaders and indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and his military
counterpart, Ratko Mladic before a peace accord is reached. Also, on 9
November, Vecernji list reports that Milosevic will continue to refuse
to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, nor will he discuss the issue of
human rights in Serbia. * Stan Markotich
BOSNIA, SERBIA TO RECEIVE GAS SUPPLIES.
Following a joint request by the
presidents of Bosnia and Serbia for domestic gas supplies to be turned on "as a
humanitarian exception" to the embargo, agreement was reached at the Bosnia
peace talks in Dayton on 9 November to partially lift economic sanctions
against rump Yugoslavia, Reuters reported the same day. A UN committee
overseeing sanctions met later in New York to discuss the issue but postponed
talks for a day after one member said it needed instructions. * Daria Sito
WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INDICTS RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICERS.
Nasa Borba on
10 November reported that the International Crimunal Tribune for the Former
Yugoslavia the previous day indicted three Yugoslav army officers for their
part in crimes against humanity. Colonel Mile Mrksic, Major Veselin
Sljivancanin, and Captain Miroslav Radic have been charged in connection with
the slaying of 260 non-Serbian prisoners of war held in the Croatian town of
Vukovar. On 20 November 1991 the victims were massacred behind a local hospital
and their bodies concealed in a mass grave. The Belgrade daily observed this is
the first instance of the court charging rump Yugoslav nationals with wartime
atrocities. * Stan Markotich
MACEDONIA, UKRAINE BECOME MEMBERS OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
Ukraine on 9 November became the 37th and 38th member states of the Council of
Europe, international agencies reported the same day. They are the 13th and
14th states from CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE to enter the council in the last
five years. To fulfill membership requirements, Macedonian officials made
formal pledges to guarantee human rights, and Ukrainian officials agreed to
suspend and eventually eliminate the death penalty from the country's criminal
code. Ukraine is the first former Soviet republic to abolish capital
punishment. The council's legal and human rights committees are currently
reviewing membership applications from Russia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
* Fabian Schmidt
ROMANIAN SENATE PASSES RESTITUTION LAW.
The Romanian Senate on 9
November passed a version of the restitution law that takes into account the
Constitutional Court's objections to a version passed by the Chamber of
Deputies, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. The Chamber of Deputies
amended its original version to make Romanian citizens eligible for restitution
even if they reside abroad and to allow owners of apartments taken over by the
state without appropriate legislation to reclaim their property. The opposition
considers the law too restrictive. Romanian media on 10 November reported
opposition members as saying the vote in the Senate was a fraud, since among
those who voted "yes" were parliamentarians on a visit to China and other
absentees. The opposition says that without these fraudulent votes, the draft
would have failed to garner the necessary support. * Michael Shafir
ROMANIA DENIES BANNING HUNGARIAN TV CHANNEL.
Audio-Visual Council has denied banning broadcasts of the Hungarian satellite
program Duna TV on cable network (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 November),
Romanian media reported on 9-10 November. The controversial decision aroused
strong criticism among Romania's Hungarian minority. * Matyas Szabo
NATO AIRCRAFT ALLOWED TO FLY OVER ROMANIA.
Romania and NATO have signed
an agreement allowing NATO transport aircraft to fly over Romanian territory,
Reuters reported on 9 November, citing the Foreign Ministry spokesman in
Bucharest. The agreement was signed in Brussels last week. Mircea Geona said
the agreement was "an important step towards Romania's integration into NATO."
* Michael Shafir
WORLD BANK ON MOLDOVAN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE.
James Park, World Bank
permanent representative in Moldova, said the country has made important
progress in macroeconomic tightening, liberalization of trade and prices, and
privatization, BASA-press reported on 9 November. In an interview with the
government daily Moldova suverana, Park said that it was nonetheless
necessary to introduce other reforms as well, especially in agriculture and the
social sector. He said that if the reforms lost momentum, the "achieved results
would be minimized." * Michael Shafir
BULGARIA PROTESTS TO ANKARA.
Bulgaria has protested to Turkey for what
it called that country's diplomatic support for candidates of the ethnic
Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms in the recent local elections. A
spokesman for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said the activities of Turkish
diplomats exceeded normal standards of diplomatic representation and could
strain bilateral relations, noting that their activity can be interpreted as
"an attempt to influence the outcome of elections," Reuters reported on 9
November. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms won about 5% of the vote in the
first round of elections, which took place on 29 October. * Lowell
ANOTHER BOMB ATTACK ON JOURNALIST IN ALBANIA.
Just six days after a bomb
damaged the house of Koha Jone chief editor Nikolle Lesi (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 3 and 8 November), the car of the Albanian Radio and TV
journalist Sami Selishta was destroyed by explosives in northeastern town of
Peshkopi, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 9 November. The daily claimed that an
"anti-media Mafia" was responsible for the attacks, but so far police have no
leads on the assailants. * Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave