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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 187, 96-09-26

Open Media Research Institute: Daily Digest Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Open Media Research Institute <http://www.omri.cz>

Vol. 2, No. 187, 26 September 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS STORM ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT.
  • [02] MANUKYAN ARRESTED.
  • [03] AZERIS DISTURBED BY JOINT RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN EXERCISE.
  • [04] ELECTION OUTCOME IN ADZHARIA, GEORGIA.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] IZETBEGOVIC WARNS OF NEW WAR IN BOSNIA.
  • [06] NATO PLANS FOR NEW ROLE IN BOSNIA.
  • [07] CONTINUING IMBROGLIO OVER MUSLIM REFUGEES.
  • [08] COLD WEATHER FORCES END TO BOSNIAN EXHUMATIONS.
  • [09] UN REFUSES TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA.
  • [10] SERBIAN UPDATE.
  • [11] TWO CROATIAN JOURNALISTS ACQUITTED IN KEY RIGHTS CASE.
  • [12] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS NEW PAY INCREASE.
  • [13] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT, DEFENSE MINISTER RESUME HOSTILITIES.
  • [14] BULGARIA'S MASS PRIVATIZATION TO START.
  • [15] BULGARIAN ROUNDUP.
  • [16] ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION WRAPUP.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS STORM ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT.

    Following a session of the Central Electoral Commission on 25 September, four commission members issued a statement rejecting as inaccurate the preliminary presidential election returns released on 24 September by CEC Chairman Khachatour Bezirjian. The four claimed that opposition candidate and National Democratic Union Chairman Vazgen Manukyan polled 55% of the vote as opposed to 37% for incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Western agencies reported. Some 10,000 Manukyan supporters marched to the building housing the CEC and the Armenian parliament, which was cordoned off by special police. Some 45 minutes after Manukyan entered the building, Paruir Hairikyan, chairman of the radical Union for National Self-Determination and one of three presidential contenders who withdrew to support Manukyan, announced (mistakenly) that the latter had been arrested, whereupon demonstrators broke through the perimeter fence and forced their way into the building. Riot police used water cannon and fired over the heads of the demonstrators; parliament Chairman Babken Ararktsyan and his deputy were hospitalized after being beaten by demonstrators. According to Noyan Tapan, Western agencies, and The New York Times of 26 September, one person was killed in the clashes and up to 50 others, including former presidential candidate Lenser Agahalovyan, were injured -- Liz Fuller

    [02] MANUKYAN ARRESTED.

    Presidential spokesman Shahen Karamanukyan and Interior Minister Vano Siradeghyan denounced the attack on the parliament building as "an attempted fascist coup ordered by one of the leaders of the National Democratic Union," Reuters and AFP reported. ITAR-TASS quoted Siradeghyan as stating that three organizers of the protest had been arrested; Prosecutor General Artavazd Gevorkyan announced that the organizers would be charged with attempting to stage a coup d'etat and the attempted murder of the parliament speaker and his deputy, according to AFP. Speaking on state television on the morning of 26 September, President Ter-Petrossyan imposed a ban on all unsanctioned meetings and demonstrations. Early the same day, riot police surrounded the presidential palace, which is close to the parliament building, and tanks and armored personnel carriers cordoned off Yerevan's main square and the nearby headquarters of the NDU. On the morning of 26 September, the Armenian parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to lift Manukyan's immunity. He and several other opposition leaders were subsequently arrested, Western agencies reported. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] AZERIS DISTURBED BY JOINT RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN EXERCISE.

    The Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry on 25 September expressed concern at the recent joint Russian-Armenian military exercises, ITAR-TASS reported. A ministry statement charged that the maneuvers were aimed at enhancing the combat effectiveness of the "Armenian occupation forces" in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azeris were particularly concerned that officials from Nagorno-Karabakh attended the exercises, as did the Armenian president and Russian Chief of Staff Col.-Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov. -- Doug Clarke

    [04] ELECTION OUTCOME IN ADZHARIA, GEORGIA.

    According to the Central Election Commission in Batumi, 93.8% of the electorate voted in the 22 September parliamentary elections in Adzharia, ITAR- TASS reported on 25 September. As widely predicted, the ruling coalition and election bloc composed of the All-Georgian Revival Union, led by parliamentary chairman Aslan Abashidze, and the ruling party in Georgia led by President Eduard Shevardnadze, the Union of Georgian Citizens, secured 83% of the vote. One seat each is known to have been secured by the Union of Georgian Traditionalists and the Tavisupleba [Freedom] bloc. The number of seats secured by the Adzharian regional branch of the United Communist Party of Georgia, which took over 5% of the vote, is still unclear. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] IZETBEGOVIC WARNS OF NEW WAR IN BOSNIA.

    President Alija Izetbegovic warned the UN General Assembly that the conflict could resume in Bosnia-Herzegovina if the Dayton peace accord is not enforced. He argued that an international military presence will be necessary "for a certain and limited period of time" and criticized the local Croats for maintaining their para-state of Herceg-Bosna, despite numerous promises to dissolve it. Izetbegovic singled out the Bosnian Serbs for criticism because they block Muslim and Croatian refugees from going home and because they refuse to hand over indicted war criminals to the Hague-based tribunal. Oslobodjenje on 26 September quoted him as saying that "if genocide without punishment is possible, then Bosnia and Herzegovina is not possible." With regard to the new government for the entire country, he said that it should include representation from the opposition and seek to enforce the Dayton agreement and promote media freedom. -- Patrick Moore

    [06] NATO PLANS FOR NEW ROLE IN BOSNIA.

    Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic, who is currently in New York, has rejected any extension of the one-year mandate for UN peacekeepers in eastern Slavonia, Vjesnik reported on 25 September. The local Serbs want the foreign troops to stay on for at least another year. In Bergen, Norway, NATO defense ministers announced for the first time that the alliance will start planning a possible role in Bosnia after IFOR's mandate expires at the end of the year. No concrete measures are likely to be announced until after the U.S. elections in November, the BBC reported. British Defense Secretary Michael Portillo said that "we can't abandon the investment we've made there" in promoting peace and stability. In Paris, Foreign Minister Herve de Charette announced that a major international meeting on Bosnia will take place in early November to deal with the future of Bosnian state institutions, AFP reported on 26 September. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] CONTINUING IMBROGLIO OVER MUSLIM REFUGEES.

    Tensions continue to run high over the village of Jusici on Bosnian Serb-held territory, where armed Muslims have returned to rebuild their homes. The UNHCR is expected to clarify the matter soon, Oslobodjenje reported on 25 September. But U.S. General George Casey said later that day that the Muslims must first leave and process the necessary paperwork before they can live there. Nasa Borba stated on 26 September that Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic has agreed to this formula. It appears, however, that the Muslims are determined to force the issue of their right to go home, as specified in the Dayton agreement, and that the original number of returnees has grown from 100 to 300, Reuters said. A UN police spokesman accused the Muslims of taunting the local Serbian police. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] COLD WEATHER FORCES END TO BOSNIAN EXHUMATIONS.

    International experts have suspended their excavation of mass graves in eastern Bosnia until next spring. They have uncovered nearly 500 bodies this year, virtually all of whom are Muslim males from Srebrenica who appear to have been executed, international news agencies noted on 25 September. The experts stressed that it is necessary for Bosnians to know the truth about war crimes if they are to begin looking toward the future. Izetbegovic recently made the same point at the UN. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] UN REFUSES TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA.

    The UN Security Council on 24 September decided not to lift sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, AFP reported. But diplomats said they expected Washington and Moscow to agree on a solution shortly. Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov has drawn up a document that, in accordance with the Dayton agreements, ends sanctions 10 days after the elections take place. He argues that since the ballot took place on 14 September, the sanctions should have been lifted on 24 September. The U.S., however, has rejected his plan, saying the election results have not yet been validated. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [10] SERBIAN UPDATE.

    The strike at the Kragujevac Zastava arms and automobile works has entered its 29th day. Workers demonstrating in front of the local municipal parliament on 25 September demanded back wages and talks with the government and the plant management. Former Central Bank governor Dragoslav Avramovic has announced he will visit the factory on 26 September to talk to the strikers. Meanwhile, Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), has denied earlier reports that Avramovic is planning a political career with the SPO and other opposition parties in the Zajedno (Together) coalition. Draskovic claims the report was "part of a plan to discredit" Avramovic and the leaders of Zajedno, Nasa Borba reported on 26 September. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [11] TWO CROATIAN JOURNALISTS ACQUITTED IN KEY RIGHTS CASE.

    Judge Marin Mrcela on 26 September acquitted editor in chief Viktor Ivancic and journalist Marinko Culic on charges of slandering President Franjo Tudjman (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1996), AFP reported. The two men work for the outspoken Split-based satirical weekly Feral Tribune, which has often been a thorn in the side of the government and the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). The acquittal signals a major victory for freedom of the press because it is the first such case under a new media law aimed at silencing critics of the government and HDZ. Croatia has been warned by the Council of Europe and other international bodies that the new law is unacceptable if that country wants to join European institutions. -- Patrick Moore

    [12] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS NEW PAY INCREASE.

    Romania's cabinet on 25 September announced a 6% increase in state employees' wages as of 1 October, Radio Bucharest reported. The hike in the average wage amounts to 23,600 lei (some $7). Employees will also receive the second tranche, worth 6,000 lei (less than $2), of compensation for energy, fuel, and bread price increases. Finance Minister Florin Georgescu said the move will help compensate for most of this year's inflation, which he estimated at about 30%. But domestic media expressed doubts over the minister's statement, suggesting that the real reason for the increase was to gain electoral support for the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu

    [13] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT, DEFENSE MINISTER RESUME HOSTILITIES.

    Defense Minister Gen. Pavel Creanga has rejected the "serious accusations" brought against him by President Mircea Snegur in late June as "groundless," BASA-press reported on 25 September. Creanga said Snegur had asked the prosecutor-general to investigate his actions under the suspicion that he was trying to split the army and destabilize the political situation in the country. Snegur had also accused him of disseminating confidential information and of conspiring against the president. Creanga demanded that the results of the prosecutor's investigation be made public. A presidential spokesman said that most of the accusations against Creanga have proven valid but that the president does not intend to discuss the matter with Creanga through the media. -- Dan Ionescu

    [14] BULGARIA'S MASS PRIVATIZATION TO START.

    The government has announced<strong> </strong>that the long-delayed mass privatization will begin on 7 October, RFE/RL reported on 25 September. Some 3 million Bulgarians are expected to bid for shares in 968 out of a total of 1, 063 state companies up for sale. Under the mass privatization scheme, the state will continue to exert control over "strategic companies" such as oil refineries and tourist offices; only 25% of their shares will be offered to investors. Banks, arms factories, railroads, power plants, and companies offering services will not be privatized. About 65% of shares in medium-sized companies and 90% in small ones will be privatized. Results of the bids will be announced by the end of November. -- Maria Koinova

    [15] BULGARIAN ROUNDUP.

    Ivan Marazov, the Democratic Left's presidential candidate, said in Bonn on 25 September that Bulgarian institutions are "at war," international agencies reported. He blamed President Zhelyu Zhelev for making too liberal use of his right to veto bills passed by the parliament. During his visit to Bonn, Marazov met with German government officials and deputies. In other news, two tons of hashish have been seized at the Bulgarian-Greek border checkpoint of Kulata, Reuters reported on 24 September. The drugs were hidden in a truck containing marble slabs on its way from Greece to Bulgaria. -- Maria Koinova

    [16] ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION WRAPUP.

    The opposition on 25 September expressed concern for the local elections next month, most of the international monitors will come from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly and not from the OSCE, Koha Jone reported on 26 September. The latter had issued a more critical report on the May parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the Center Pole coalition has sent a protest letter to the Central Election Commission saying that President Sali Berisha and government members have violated the electoral law by participating in the election campaign. It also argued that the municipality of Tirana should not be allowed to organize the ruling Democratic Party's public rallies, as was the case on 22 September, Poli i Qendres reported on 26 September. -- Fabian Schmidt

    Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave
    News and information as of 1200 CET


    This material was reprinted with permission of the Open Media Research Institute, a nonprofit organization with research offices in Prague, Czech Republic.
    For more information on OMRI publications please write to info@omri.cz.


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