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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 207, 96-10-24

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 207, 24 October 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ABKHAZ ELECTION UPDATE.
  • [02] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SACKED.
  • [03] TURKEY TO OPEN BORDER WITH ARMENIA.
  • [04] UZBEKISTAN TIGHTENS CURRENCY CONTROLS.
  • [05] HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER OPENS IN TURKMENISTAN.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] BOSNIAN SERBS WILL NOT EXTEND OSCE MANDATE.
  • [07] BILDT REASSURES NATO AFTER POSTPONEMENT OF BOSNIA VOTE.
  • [08] SERBIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST "FIVE TERRORISTS."
  • [09] SERBIA, MONTENEGRO ELECTION UPDATE.
  • [10] W.H.O. FINDS NO EXPLANATION FOR MYSTERIOUS DISEASE AMONG ALBANIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN IN MACEDONIA.
  • [11] POLLS ON ROMANIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [12] OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE ON ANTI-FRAUD PACT.
  • [13] RUSSIAN TROOP COMMANDER OPPOSES DNIESTER AMMUNITION RECYCLING.
  • [14] BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.
  • [15] ALBANIAN APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCES FOR COMMUNIST PARTY FOUNDERS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ABKHAZ ELECTION UPDATE.

    Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said on 23 October that the Georgian leadership is appealing to Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba to abide by the 22 October statement of the UN Security Council and cancel the parliamentary elections scheduled for 23 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The chairman of the Abkhaz Central Election Board, Vyacheslav Tsugba, told ITAR- TASS that 90 candidates of various nationalities, including three ethnic Georgians, had registered to contend the 35 seats in the new parliament. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SACKED.

    Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan has sacked three top government officials, including Deputy Minister of Science and Education Ashot Bleyan. Bleyan used to be a leading figure in the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement party. He became notorious for controversial plans to reform Armenia's secondary education system and after a 1992 visit to Azerbaijan, where he called for unilateral concessions by Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] TURKEY TO OPEN BORDER WITH ARMENIA.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller said on 23 October that Turkey will open its border with Armenia "after overcoming a few difficulties," AFP reported. The border has been closed since 1992. Turkey was set to open the border in March, but backed down at Azerbaijan's request. Ciller's statement may sour Turkey's relations with Azerbaijan. -- Emil Danielyan

    [04] UZBEKISTAN TIGHTENS CURRENCY CONTROLS.

    In response to the recent drop in the value of the som, only two banks -- the Bank for Foreign Economic Activities and the Uzbek Industry and Construction Bank -- will be allowed to trade in hard currencies, Savdogar reported on 22 October, as monitored by the BBC. Previously, 12 had been able to do so. In addition, the number of licensed exchange offices has been reduced from 95 to 39, 23 of which are located in Tashkent. ITAR-TASS reported on 22 October that the Uzbek government has also signed a currency and export control agreement with Russia in an effort to prevent the circulation of "dirty" money. -- Roger Kangas

    [05] HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER OPENS IN TURKMENISTAN.

    President Saparmurat Niyazov officially opened the Democracy and Human Rights Institute in Ashgabat on 23 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The institute will handle complaints from citizens about human rights and democratic freedoms and will work closely with the UN. Its opening appears to be a gesture to the international community after Turkmenistan received the lowest rating for political rights from the Freedom House organization last December. Niyazov said the purpose of the institute is to protect the presidency "from the influence of other branches of power," and warned citizens not to take their complaints too far. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] BOSNIAN SERBS WILL NOT EXTEND OSCE MANDATE.

    Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told U.S. envoy John Kornblum that Pale will not agree that the OSCE's mission for organizing elections be extended into next year for the local vote, Nasa Borba reported on 24 October. Kornblum said he will nonetheless try to persuade the Serbs to change their mind, adding that he is also concerned "about a continuing record of less than full implementation of the [peace] process" by the Republika Srpska, Reuters noted on 23 October. Plavsic also met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afansievskii and the head of the Russian mission to Bosnia, Yakov Gerasimov. Afansievskii said that "Russia has a positive stance toward the Republika Srpska's efforts to settle relations with the Bosnian Federation peacefully," while Plavsic praised "our traditional friends, the Russians," Onasa stated. Finally, Nasa Borba discusses widespread but unconfirmed reports that Plavsic has sacked Gens. Ratko Mladic, Milan Gvero, and Momir Talic, together with some 80 other top officers, in the latest chapter of the long-standing dispute between the Bosnian Serb civilian and military leaderships. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] BILDT REASSURES NATO AFTER POSTPONEMENT OF BOSNIA VOTE.

    High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt told NATO on 23 October that the postponement of the Bosnian municipal elections does not mean that IFOR needs to remain at full strength beyond the end of its mandate on 20 December, AFP reported. Bildt mentioned the possibility of bringing in some troops for a limited period. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said on 22 October that the U.S. forces plan to pull out of Bosnia by mid March, despite the vote postponement. A Pentagon spokesman said that since the elections will not be held in November, as previously scheduled, it is possible that the withdrawal of U.S. forces will be accelerated. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said NATO will stay at full strength in Bosnia until the end of the year. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [08] SERBIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST "FIVE TERRORISTS."

    Five members of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) have been arrested on charges of arms and munitions possession, Tanjug reported on 22 October. They are also suspected of carrying out terrorist acts, including the November 1994 bombing of a bridge on the Sombor-Bezdan road. Four of the five are from Sombor, in Vojvodina, and were apprehended in possession of a large number of weapons, including a hand-held rocket launcher and 55 land mines. Until mid-1993, the SRS and the ruling Socialists were political allies. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had called SRS leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj "my favorite opposition leader." -- Stan Markotich

    [09] SERBIA, MONTENEGRO ELECTION UPDATE.

    The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's electoral commission says a total of 7, 597,504 voters have registered to take part in the 3 November elections, Nasa Borba reported on 23 October. Of those, 448,325 are registered in Montenegro. A total of 812 candidates are vying for 138 seats in the federal legislature. Meanwhile, Beta on 22 October reported that Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic has requested that OSCE election observers register with Yugoslav embassies by 30 October. -- Stan Markotich

    [10] W.H.O. FINDS NO EXPLANATION FOR MYSTERIOUS DISEASE AMONG ALBANIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN IN MACEDONIA.

    A group of WHO experts has issued a report on its investigation into a mysterious illness contracted by 1,000 ethnic Albanian school children in Tetovo. Some 600 had to be hospitalized for up to three days. The team conducted various tests but found no evidence of infection or poisoning to explain the illness, which causes headaches, stomach and muscle pains, breathing difficulties, and dizziness, AFP reported. Albanian political parties have alleged that Macedonians tried to poison the children. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [11] POLLS ON ROMANIAN ELECTIONS.

    An opinion poll conducted by the Center for Urban and Regional Sociology (CURS) on 22 October shows incumbent President Ion Iliescu in the lead before the 3 November presidential elections. Iliescu has 33.5% of popular support, the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) candidate Emil Constantinescu 27%, and the Social Democratic Union (USD) candidate Petre Roman 22.5%. The CURS poll shows the opposition CDR leading in the parliamentary contest, with 31.%. The ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) follows with 27.2%, and the USD with 18.1%. But a poll conducted by the rival IRSOP institute suggests the PDSR is ahead in the parliamentary race (31%), followed by the CDR (21%) and by the USD (13%). It also says Iliescu has 36% of popular support, Constantinescu 21%, and Roman 19%. Cronica romana explains the divergence by noting that the CURS poll was financed by the Soros Foundation and the IRSOP poll secretly commissioned by the PDSR. -- Michael Shafir

    [12] OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE ON ANTI-FRAUD PACT.

    Several opposition parties are to sign a pact aimed at preventing electoral fraud by the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, Romanian TV reported on 23 October. The signatories will be the Democratic Convention of Romania, the Social Democratic Union, the National Liberal Alliance, the Liberal- Ecologist Alliance, the National Centrist Union and the National Party of Car Drivers. Other formations are welcome to join, according to a statement by the pact's initiators. -- Michael Shafir

    [13] RUSSIAN TROOP COMMANDER OPPOSES DNIESTER AMMUNITION RECYCLING.

    Lt. Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian troops deployed in the breakaway Dniester region, has said the building of an ammunition recycling plant is not economically expedient, Infotag reported on 23 October. Yevnevich proposed instead that the ammunition stock be transferred to Russia and sold to "interested countries." The earnings, he added, should be shared between Moldova, the "Dniester Republic," Russia, and, as a transit country, Ukraine. Meanwhile, Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli on 23 October met Dniester leader Igor Smirnov in Tiraspol, BASA-Press reported. The two discussed the possible participation of Dniester residents in the 17 November Moldovan presidential elections, which Tiraspol has so far opposed. -- Zsolt Mato

    [14] BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.

    Novinar, citing three opinion polls, has predicted that the united opposition candidate, Petar Stoyanov, will be Bulgaria's next president. The daily said on 23 October that Stoyanov will win if he runs against the Bulgarian Socialist Party's presidential candidate, Cultural Minister Ivan Marazov, in a second round. The polls predict a turnout of more than 50% in the first round on 27 October. Meanwhile, Trud commented on the performance of the major candidates in the last three debates broadcast on state TV. It argued that the BSP's vice presidential candidate, Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, was "most adequate" in terms of professionalism, polemics, and politics, while Stoyanov behaved like a "typical lawyer" and Marazov failed to rid himself of his "professorial attitude." Meanwhile, Kontinent reported that former Tsar Simeon II told the Spanish newspaper ABC that if a socialist wins the presidential elections, there could be "negative consequences" for Bulgaria. -- Maria Koinova

    [15] ALBANIAN APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCES FOR COMMUNIST PARTY FOUNDERS.

    An appeals court on 23 October upheld jail sentences of between one and two-and-a-half years for four Albanians who formed a communist party, Reuters reported. The men, aged between 45 and 73, pleaded guilty but appealed the length of the sentences on grounds of old age and alleged irregularities during the investigation that led to their trial. The parliament outlawed all communist organizations in July 1992 as anti-constitutional. -- Fabian Schmidt

    Compiled by Steve Kettle and Susan Caskie
    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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