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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 202, 96-10-17

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 202, 17 October 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GAMSAKHURDIA'S SUPPORTERS DEMONSTRATE IN TBILISI.
  • [02] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION NEWS CONFERENCE.
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER.
  • [04] KAZAKSTAN PLANS NEW CAPITAL.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN SARAJEVO.
  • [06] BOSNIAN SERB CHILDREN WOUNDED IN SHOOTING.
  • [07] OSCE DEFENDS POSITION ON ELECTION FOLLOW-UP IN BOSNIA.
  • [08] CROATIAN OPPOSITION WALKS OUT OF PARLIAMENT.
  • [09] YUGOSLAV ARMY CHIEF TRIED IN ABSENTIA IN CROATIA.
  • [10] CROATIA, ITALY AGREE ON MINORITY PROTECTION.
  • [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER FACES NEW CRIMINAL CHARGES.
  • [12] ROMANIA GETS WESTERN LOANS.
  • [13] BULGARIA, RUSSIA, DISCUSS STRENGTHENING MILITARY TIES.
  • [14] ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST SUSPECTED TERRORISTS.
  • [15] ODIHR PULLS OUT OF ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GAMSAKHURDIA'S SUPPORTERS DEMONSTRATE IN TBILISI.

    Georgian police on 16 October dispersed three separate demonstrations in Tbilisi by supporters of deceased President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, AFP and ITAR- TASS reported. Some 30 demonstrators were arrested. One demonstration took place outside the Russian embassy to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya; a second was held outside the Georgian Supreme Court, where the trial of four Gamsakhurdia associates is about to conclude, including the commander of his private army, Loti Kobalia. The prosecutor has demanded the death sentence for Kobalia on charges of high treason, banditry, and murder. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION NEWS CONFERENCE.

    Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan on 16 October, unnamed representatives of the opposition coalition National Accord that backed presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan reiterated that the results of the 22 September elections were rigged and that the country faces a serious political crisis as a result, ITAR- TASS reported. The opposition plans to appeal the election results a second time with the Armenian Constitutional Court; a first appeal by Manukyan was rejected as incorrectly phrased. Manukyan said he anticipated reprisals against his National Democratic Union, according to Noyan Tapan. The last two of the six opposition deputies arrested on 26 September were released on 16 October. Also on that day, an OSCE representative told RFE/RL that the OSCE has asked the Armenian authorities to investigate the disappearance of tens of thousands of ballot papers. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER.

    The Milli Mejlis on 16 October elected the rector of Baku State University, 68- year-old Murtuz Nadjaf ogly Alesqerov, as its new speaker, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. A lawyer by training, Alesqerov taught for decades in Moscow before returning to Baku. He was a leading member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front in the late 1980s, but left that organization in 1991. In 1992, Alesqerov helped organize the campaign for the return to Baku of Heidar Aliev, at that time chairman of the Nakhichevan parliament, who was elected president in1993; he is one of the founders and deputy chairman, of the Yeni Azerbaycan party created by Aliev and which holds the majority of seats in the present Milli Mejlis. Alesqerov replaces Rasul Guliev, who was forced to resign last month (ostensibly for health reasons) after expressing harsh criticism of the Azerbaijani leadership's failure to implement reforms. -- Liz Fuller

    [04] KAZAKSTAN PLANS NEW CAPITAL.

    Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev is looking for foreign investors to help cover the cost of moving the capital from Almaty to Akmola, according to a 17 October article in Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Nazarbayev announced the move two years ago, but according to the deputy director of the state committee for moving the capital, Bair Dosmagmbetov, only $50 million has been raised so far, barely enough to build the presidential residence. Some foreign investors are contributing to the costs of the move in order to win the government's favor. The Japan Chromium Corp., for example, has given $1 million. Total cost of the move is estimated to be $400 million. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN SARAJEVO.

    Theodoros Pangalos announced in Sarajevo on 16 October that Greece will open an embassy in the Bosnian capital this month and pledged $7 million in aid to Bosnian reconstruction programs, international media reported. During the visit, Pangalos met with Bosnian Presidency Chairman Alija Izetbegovic, Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, and Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic. Greece, which has traditionally close ties with the Serbs and during the war in Bosnia had almost no contacts with the Bosnian government, will in the future meet only with representatives of the republican government, Pangalos announced, saying that meetings with Bosnian Serb representatives "will not be necessary in the future." Pangalos will also visit Zagreb and Belgrade for talks with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He will brief Athens' partners in the European Union and the United States about his talks. -- Stefan Krause

    [06] BOSNIAN SERB CHILDREN WOUNDED IN SHOOTING.

    Two Bosnian Serb children were shot while riding on a bus on the road between Ugljevik and Priboj on 15 October, AFP reported. They were sent home after treatment. On the same section of road in northeast Bosnia, a bullet also hit a Republika Srpska police car, but it was not clear if anyone was injured. The area is very near the inter-entity border and in a region where tensions are high as Muslims try to return to their homes now under Serb control. UN police are investigating the incident. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Bosnian officials said the three-man presidency will finally meet next week, Oslobodjenje reported on 17 October. The time and the crucial issue of place have yet to be determined, however. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] OSCE DEFENDS POSITION ON ELECTION FOLLOW-UP IN BOSNIA.

    Franz Egle, a spokesman for OSCE President Flavio Cotti, said the organization was fulfilling its obligations in Bosnia "100%," AFP reported. He was responding to Carl Bildt, the international community's high representative for Bosnia, who disputed a recent OSCE decision that it had neither the mandate nor the structures to install elected officials (see ). According to Egle, the OSCE's mandate is to oversee the preparation and holding of elections, and if the agency is to do anything else, its mandate should be changed. Egle added that Cotti believes local elections should be held in the spring instead of November, as currently scheduled. Robert Frowick, the head of the OSCE's mission in Bosnia, is expected to make a final decision this week. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [08] CROATIAN OPPOSITION WALKS OUT OF PARLIAMENT.

    Some 40 opposition deputies walked out of the Sabor on 16 October to protest the lack of media coverage. They want parliament debates to be broadcast live on television and radio, arguing that the state-run electronic media have cut them off from all direct contact with the public, Vecernji list reported. The opposition particularly want voters to hear current discussions on key financial issues, including one on state reserves of commodities. The press recently uncovered a scandal involving officials from the governing party withholding reserves of wheat from the market. This considerably forced up prices in a country where at least one-fifth of the population lives below the poverty level and most of the rest have difficulty making ends meet. Novi List wrote on 17 October that one Croatian citizen in four goes hungry. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] YUGOSLAV ARMY CHIEF TRIED IN ABSENTIA IN CROATIA.

    A Croatian court was to begin the trial in absentia on 17 October of Momcilo Perisic, the current head of the federal Yugoslav army, for the bombardment of the Adriatic port of Zadar, Novi List reported. The Zadar regional tribunal will try Perisic and 18 other former Yugoslav army officers on war-crimes charges for allegedly ordering artillery attacks on the town in which 30 civilians were killed and dozens injured. Zagreb opposition figures and diplomats speculate that the trial could be the result of a deal between Zagreb and Belgrade, to help distance Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from military officials he was previously close to, AFP reported on 16 October. Stipe Mesic, president of the Croatian Independent Democrats, said the trial could be "a present" from Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to Milosevic ahead of elections in Serbia and Montenegro. In other news, a group of 53 refugees is to return to Croatia from Serbia under the auspices of the UN high commissioner for refugees, Politika and AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] CROATIA, ITALY AGREE ON MINORITY PROTECTION.

    Croatian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic and his Italian counterpart Piero Fassimo agreed on 16 October to sign an agreement on minority rights next month, Croatian media reported. Fassimo said he hopes that after the agreement is signed, the Croatian government will pass a bill on bilingual education, Novi List reported on 17 October. Fassimo also took part in an Italian delegation's talks in Zagreb on the strengthening and promotion of political relations between the two countries and on Italian investments in Croatia. A joint business commission on 17 October is to draw up contracts on avoiding double taxation and on stimulating investments in the fields of tourism, energy supplies, and fishery, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER FACES NEW CRIMINAL CHARGES.

    Belgrade prosecutor Svetozar Vujacic has filed criminal charges against the leader of the Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, Radio B92 reported on 15 November. According to Vujacic, Djindjic had slurred Slobodan Milosevic while addressing a crowd of about 6,000 during a 10 October election campaign rally in Vranje, calling the Serbian President a "sick man." Vujacic charged Djindjic with insulting the president and defaming Serbia's reputation. On 20 September, Djindjic received a four-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of libeling Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic in an advertisement placed in Nedeljni Telegraf (See ). -- Stan Markotich.

    [12] ROMANIA GETS WESTERN LOANS.

    A group of European banks will loan $175 million to Romania, RFE/RL and Romanian television reported on 16 October. The loan agreement, signed in London by Romanian National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, calls for the loans to be repaid over three years. Isarescu said the loan is aimed at helping Romania pay its $7 billion foreign debt while keeping foreign-currency reserves at a high enough level to maintain imports. In 1996, Romania has received over $1.4 billion in foreign aid and loans. In other news, RFE/RL reported that oil giants Shell and Agip are criticizing Romania's privatization policy. In an open letter to the newly founded oil company ROC, which has a legal monopoly on distribution in Romania, the two foreign companies assert discriminatory practices affecting private investors and warn that they could jeopardize future investments. -- Michael Shafir

    [13] BULGARIA, RUSSIA, DISCUSS STRENGTHENING MILITARY TIES.

    In meetings with top Bulgarian officials on 15-16 October, Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov, chief of Russia's General Staff, discussed the possibility of closer ties in the fields of military and technological cooperation, including the possibility of joint manufacture of military hardware, ITAR-TASS and Bulgarian media reported. Kolesnikov met with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, President Zhelyu Zhelev, and Parliament Speaker Blagovest Sendov. Before the talks, Kolesnikov said that "no spectacular results should be expected" from his visit. Kolesnikov said Bulgaria will receive spare parts for its military planes worth $48 million by the end of the year as partial payment of Moscow's $100 million debt to Bulgaria. Russian Duma Deputy Chairman Mikhail Yuryev, heading a separate delegation in Sofia, told Zhelev that Russia will repay the debt by the end of 1996. A Bulgarian official said Zhelev and Kolesnikov had not discussed Bulgaria's potential inclusion in NATO, which Zhelev favors. -- Stefan Krause

    [14] ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST SUSPECTED TERRORISTS.

    Police arrested 14 people on 15-16 October suspected of committing 26 crimes, including the murder of General Prison Director Bujar Kaloshi and a bomb attack on a Tirana supermarket in February, in which four people died and 27 were injured. Interior Minister Halit Shamata also charged them with planing to assassinate President Sali Berisha by blasting a bridge, Dita Informacion reported on 17 October. The group was allegedly led by three sons of communist- era secret police chief Hajredin Shyti -- Orik, Roland, and Leart -- and called itself "Revenge of Justice," AFP reported. Hajredin Shyti was sentenced in December 1992 to 17 years in prison in connection with the killings of pro- democracy protesters in 1991. Police also seized a machine gun, several hand and anti-tank grenades, pistols, and mines. The police action came days before 20 October local elections, and followed pro-government media reports suggesting that the orders for the terrorist acts were given by members of the communist nomenclature currently imprisoned in Tepelena -- where Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano is serving a prison term. Among those arrested was Klement Koloneci, the son-in-law of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [15] ODIHR PULLS OUT OF ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.

    The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced on 16 October that it will not send observers to Albania's local elections, AFP reported. The Foreign Ministry had granted only 15 of the ODIHR's requested 37 accreditations. The ODIHR said the number of observers attending an election "is not a matter for negotiation with the host government," adding that otherwise it "could not mount a viable observation effort." Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu said the lower number of observers approved by the ministry "does not mean we are opposed to ODIHR taking part in the monitoring of the elections," but admitted there was a "crisis of confidence." The ODIHR issued a highly critical report after parliamentary elections on 26 May. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, the U.S., and Italy will be sending observers. -- Fabian Schmidt

    Compiled by Steve Kettle 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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