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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 192, 96-10-03

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 192, 3 October 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] OSCE CASTS DOUBTS ON ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL.
  • [02] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAY REASSESS POLICY TOWARDS RUSSIA.
  • [03] TRADE GROWTH REGISTERED BETWEEN KAZAKSTAN, RUSSIA.
  • [04] UZBEKISTAN BREAKS SILENCE ON AFGHANISTAN.
  • [05] KYRGYZ JUDGES SACKED.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] IZETBEGOVIC AND MILOSEVIC MEET IN PARIS.
  • [07] BOSNIAN MUSLIMS AND CROATS AGREE ON ARMY JOINT COMMAND.
  • [08] MORE MUJAHEDIN FOR BOSNIA?
  • [09] DRUG ARRESTS IN WESTERN HERZEGOVINA.
  • [10] OPPOSITION LEADS IN SERBIAN OPINION POLL.
  • [11] CROATIA ADOPTS NEW MEDIA LAW.
  • [12] UN OFFERS TO BUY WEAPONS FROM CROATIAN SERBS.
  • [13] MASS GRAVE IN EASTERN CROATIA HOLDS VUKOVAR HOSPITAL PATIENTS.
  • [14] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY DISCUSS NATO EXPANSION.
  • [15] SNEGUR DENOUNCES HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE DNIESTER REGION.
  • [16] BULGARIAN POLITICIANS CONDEMN LUKANOV MURDER.
  • [17] MOTIVES FOR LUKANOV MURDER REMAIN IN THE DARK.
  • [18] ALBANIA RATIFIES EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS CONVENTIONS.
  • [19] ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] OSCE CASTS DOUBTS ON ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL.

    The OSCE/ODIHR mission issued a statement in Warsaw on 2 October noting "very serious breaches of the election law" during last month's Armenian presidential election, AFP and RFE/RL reported. The mission noted a discrepancy of 21,000 between the number of ballots counted and the number of votes cast; President Levon Ter-Petrossyan has claimed victory by a margin of less than 22,000 votes. Central Electoral Commission Chairman Khachatour Bezirjian rejected the OSCE claims on the grounds that the organization's tallies of irregularities are "not mathematically correct," according to AFP. Opposition presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan on 2 October called for a second round of voting or a new election. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAY REASSESS POLICY TOWARDS RUSSIA.

    Meeting in emergency session on 2 October, the Georgian parliament adopted a resolution condemning as illegal the Abkhaz parliamentary election scheduled for 23 November, NTV reported. The resolution further described Russia's mediation role as "unsatisfactory" and advocated the creation of a state commission to reassess Georgia's entire policy toward Russia, including the issue of Russian military bases, according to ITAR-TASS. Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov, who has been involved in mediating between Georgia and Abkhazia since 1993, on 2 October said the Abkhaz decision to hold a new parliamentary election was "not constructive" and added that it would disrupt the ongoing search for a political settlement of the conflict, ITAR- TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] TRADE GROWTH REGISTERED BETWEEN KAZAKSTAN, RUSSIA.

    Trade between Kazakstan and Russia grew by 80% in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, RFE/RL and Nezavisimaya gazeta reported. Credit for the increase was given to the customs union, of which Kyrgyzstan and Belarus are also members, by Kazakstani Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin, who is the head of the customs union integration committee. However, Russia is criticizing Kazakstan for permitting travelers to take as much as $10,000 with them when they go abroad. Russian travelers are limited to $500 cash per person. -- Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

    [04] UZBEKISTAN BREAKS SILENCE ON AFGHANISTAN.

    Uzbekistan's Security Council held an extraordinary session on 1 October to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Russian media reported the next day. Tashkent officially declared its "serious concern" over events in that country and pledged itself to pursuing a "peaceful foreign policy aimed at non- interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries" and a "peace settlement" in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. These remarks, virtually identical to those expressed earlier by other Central Asian states and Russia, are the first to emerge from Tashkent since the 26 September seizure of Kabul by Taliban fighters. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [05] KYRGYZ JUDGES SACKED.

    The Kyrgyz government dismissed 39 judges and an additional 11 resigned after they failed to pass a test on legal knowledge, RFE/RL and Kyrgyz Radio reported on 30 September. Kyrgyzstan has only 237 official judges and 14 acting judges so the outgoing judges represent 20% of the magistrates in the country. So far, 150 people have applied for the positions, but only seven of the 30 who have taken the test actually passed it. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] IZETBEGOVIC AND MILOSEVIC MEET IN PARIS.

    Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Alija Izetbegovic, Muslim member of the Bosnian presidency, began talks in Paris on 3 October, Reuters reported. Milosevic said the purpose of the meeting was "strengthening stability in the region." French officials said the talks would focus on building peace in Bosnia and normalizing mutual relations. The private talks will be followed by separate meetings with French President Jacques Chirac and the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [07] BOSNIAN MUSLIMS AND CROATS AGREE ON ARMY JOINT COMMAND.

    Muslim presidency member Alija Izetbegovic and his Croatian counterpart Kresimir Zubak signed a document on 2 October establishing a joint command for the federal army. That new body will consist of the former mainly Muslim government army and the former Croatian Defense Council (HVO). Its commander will be the government army's chief, Gen. Rasim Delic, and his deputy will be the HVO's Gen. Zivko Budimir, Oslobodjenje reported. Making the Croat-Muslim federation work has been difficult on all levels, however, and no aspect has been as problematic as integrating the two armies. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] MORE MUJAHEDIN FOR BOSNIA?

    The Bosnian federal police arrested 24 Iraqis and four Jordanians on 1 October, two days after they arrived illegally on a Jordanian peacekeepers' plane. An IFOR spokesman said that IFOR's intelligence experts are looking into the Bosnian Interior Ministry report on the arrests, Reuters reported on 2 October. NATO previously said it is satisfied that Bosnia has ended its military relationship with Iran and dissolved training camps for Islamic fighters. Reports nonetheless periodically emerge of small-scale training facilities (including those for terrorists) or of small groups of mujahedin operating on Muslim-controlled territory. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] DRUG ARRESTS IN WESTERN HERZEGOVINA.

    In Mostar, police announced that they recently found and destroyed a 200-stalk field of opium poppies near Ljubuski and have charged two men in the case, Onasa reported on 2 October. The police also indicted several other people in conjunction with five hemp plantations in the Mostar area. Western Herzegovina was long known as one of the former Yugoslavia's centers for cannabis and hemp growing, and more recently it has become linked to organized crime. Elsewhere in Bosnia, police arrested a man in conjunction with the recent murder of the Roman Catholic nun Sister Danka on Muslim-held territory (see ). The man, Josip Cokara, has a history of drug and alcohol problems, Oslobodjenje noted on 3 October. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] OPPOSITION LEADS IN SERBIAN OPINION POLL.

    Former Central Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic's opposition coalition is supported by 28.5% of Serbs, while the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's coalition has only 24.2% support, according to a poll conducted for Vreme by an independent agency. The poll, conducted between 26 and 30 September, asked 1,000 people in 26 communities throughout Serbia, but excluding Kosovo, whom they plan to vote for in the 3 November Serbo-Montenegrin elections. Meanwhile, the Reform Democratic Party of Vojvodina and the Democratic Center party have joined Avramovic's coalition, which includes the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Serbia, the Citizens' Union and the independent trade unions. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [11] CROATIA ADOPTS NEW MEDIA LAW.

    Croatian parliament passed a new media law on 2 October protecting journalists from demands that they reveal their sources and from charges in cases where they publish false information unintentionally, Vjesnik reported. However, provisions prescribing fines and imprisonment for reporters who insult top state officials were retained. The ruling Croatian Democratic Community said the new law was as "liberal as any European law," and fulfilled 90 percent of the Council of Europe's requirements, international agencies reported. Opposition deputies convinced the governing party to drop an amendment requiring newspapers to pay for mandatory insurance to fund any possible trials against them. Recently, more than 15 reporters were fired from the pro- government daily Vjesnik; independent daily Novi List was fined a large amount for alleged customs violations; and applications for broadcast frequencies by many independent TV and radio stations were rejected. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] UN OFFERS TO BUY WEAPONS FROM CROATIAN SERBS.

    The UN and the Croatian government began a project of buying up the weapons stored in Croatian Serbs' private stocks in eastern Slavonia, international agencies reported on 2 October. This last Serb-held area slated to revert to Croatian control was officially demilitarized in August, but the demilitarization did not include privately owned weapons kept in cellars and other secret storage places. UN authorities offered to pay $120 per working automatic rifle, $150 per machine gun, and $20 per hand grenade. The prices of other items are negotiable and faulty weapons are bought for half-price. But Serbs say the deal will not work because they do not trust the Croats and the offers are too low. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [13] MASS GRAVE IN EASTERN CROATIA HOLDS VUKOVAR HOSPITAL PATIENTS.

    Evidence suggests that the more than 80 bodies unearthed from the Ovcara grave site in eastern Croatia are the Vukovar hospital patients killed by Serbs in 1991, according to William Haglund, an expert working for the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. The grave is widely believed to contain some 260 bodies of Vukovar hospital patients killed when the town fell to Serbs in 1991 after a three-month siege. Haglund said on 2 October that the bodies are all male and items found with them show they were patients, international agencies reported. He said at least 40 more bodies are in the grave's first layer, and that the grave has proved to be deeper than expected. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [14] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY DISCUSS NATO EXPANSION.

    Teodor Melescanu and William Perry met at the Pentagon on 2 October to discuss U.S.-Romanian relations and Romania's prospects for joining NATO, Romanian media reported. Melescanu said Perry appreciated Romania's efforts to meet the criteria for NATO admittance, and that Perry said the signing of the Romanian- Hungarian basic treaty and the very active U.S.-Romanian military cooperation were serious arguments in favor of admitting Romania. Perry further praised Romania's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and in the IFOR mission in Bosnia, Melescanu said. The Romanian minister is on a visit to the United States and Canada primarily aimed at boosting Romania's chances of being included among the first group of countries to join NATO. -- Zsolt Mato

    [15] SNEGUR DENOUNCES HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE DNIESTER REGION.

    Moldovan President Mircea Snegur appealed to international human rights organizations, the OSCE, and Russian and Ukrainian leaders on 2 October to use their influence to prevent further violations of human rights against ethnic Moldovans in the breakaway Dniester region, Infotag reported. The message focused on the "school war" waged by Dniester separatists against Romanian- language schools in the region that opted for Latin letters. Local authorities recently closed down two schools in the towns of Grigoriopol and Slobozia for having replaced the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin one. Pupils, teachers, and parents have been protesting the move. -- Dan Ionescu

    [16] BULGARIAN POLITICIANS CONDEMN LUKANOV MURDER.

    Political forces and institutions on 2 October condemned the murder of former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov as an attack on democracy, Bulgarian and Western media reported. The parliament unanimously declared that it will not allow a "terrorist act" to lead to a state of emergency and that the presidential elections will go ahead as planned. It said the murder "will not deflect Bulgaria from the path of social and economic reform." President Zhelyu Zhelev, after meeting with the Consultative Council for National Security, said the murder must not be allowed to fuel tension in the presidential election campaign. He said the fight against terrorism and organized crime "requires the united efforts of all institutions and cooperation with all countries." Prime Minister Zhan Videnov called the murder an attempt at destabilization and said the government will do everything possible to apprehend and punish the murderers. -- Stefan Krause

    [17] MOTIVES FOR LUKANOV MURDER REMAIN IN THE DARK.

    Police have so far not indicated whether they have a firm lead in former Bulgarian Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov's murder, and it remains unclear whether the motives for the killing are political, economic, or both. While many observers seek the motives for the murder in the realm of politics, Lukanov's role as a successful businessman with ties to influential -- and sometimes controversial -- business groups has fueled speculation that the murder might have an economic rather than political background. One theory links the killing with Lukanov's former post as head of the Russian-Bulgarian Topenergy company. Meanwhile, police reportedly arrested an elderly man looking like a tramp near Lukanov's home. An eyewitness had said she saw a tall man dressed like a tramp in the days before the murder and also shortly before the shooting in the immediate vicinity of Lukanov's house. -- Stefan Krause

    [18] ALBANIA RATIFIES EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS CONVENTIONS.

    The Albanian parliament ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Liberties on 2 October, and another prohibiting torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, AFP reported. Albania also recognized the right of appeal for individuals to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The ratification requires "immediate" compliance with the human rights convention, but the anti-torture convention will only become Albanian law on 1 March 1997. It will then allow Council of Europe experts free access to prisons and other detention centers. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [19] ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE.

    The Center Pole coalition issued a protest to the Central Electoral Commission against a ruling banning people under the age of 28 from participating in the vote count as observers, Poli i Qendres reported on 3 October. The Center Pole called the age limit absurd and charged the commission with overstepping its competence and preparing election manipulations. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party held a rally in Tirana's Congress Palace to introduce its Tirana mayoral candidate Agim Fagu. Elsewhere the same day, a Council of Europe delegation met with President Sali Berisha to discuss the upcoming ballot. -- Fabian Schmidt

    Compiled by Victor Gomez and Tom Warner
    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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