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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 214, 96-11-05

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 214, 5 November 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS.
  • [02] GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ ELECTION ROW CONTINUES.
  • [03] TWO STRATEGIC TAJIK VILLAGES FALL TO OPPOSITION.
  • [04] FRENCH COMPANY TO BUILD TURKMEN CONVENTION CENTER.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] UN POLICE PROTEST FALSE BOSNIAN CROAT REPORT.
  • [06] BOSNIAN SERBS TO FIRE ACCUSED WAR CRIMINALS FROM POLICE FORCE.
  • [07] FEDERAL YUGOSLAVIA ELECTIONS UPDATE.
  • [08] WIESENTHAL PROTESTS PUBLICATION OF ANTI-SEMITIC BOOK IN CROATIA.
  • [09] SLOVENIA'S LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PULL AHEAD OF THE PACK.
  • [10] PRELIMINARY RESULTS IN ROMANIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [11] POST-ELECTORAL BARGAINING BEGINS IN ROMANIA.
  • [12] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ATTACKS RIVALS BEFORE ELECTIONS.
  • [13] LEADING BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS DEMAND PREMIER'S RESIGNATION.
  • [14] WILD SPECULATIONS SURROUND IMF MISSION TO BULGARIA.
  • [15] ALBANIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS DEMAND NEW ELECTIONS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS.

    Hrant Bagratyan announced his resignation on 4 November, Western media reported the same day. He was replaced by Armen Sarkisyan, Armenia's Ambassador to Britain. Bagratyan declined to give any reason for his decision. The move follows recent statements by several leaders of the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement blaming Bagratyan for the poorer than expected showing of President Levon Ter-Petrossyan in the controversial 22 September elections. During his first post-election speech, Ter-Petrossyan promised a "serious reshuffle" in the government. A staunch supporter of market reforms and tough monetary policy, 38-year old Bagratyan headed the government since February 1993 and is credited by the West for Armenia's good macroeconomic indicators. Speaking at his last news conference, he called for a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition. -- Emil Danielyan

    [02] GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ ELECTION ROW CONTINUES.

    In his regular Monday radio address, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze called on Russia's leaders to state more clearly their country's official position towards the parliamentary elections scheduled for 23 November in Georgia's breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS and Radio Mayak reported. Shevardnadze argued that this would dispel suspicions in Georgia that certain unnamed forces in Russia support the separatist regime in Sukhumi. The Georgian parliament has denounced the planned elections as illegal; the UN has called for their postponement pending the repatriation to Abkhazia of some 200,000 ethnic Georgian refugees who fled the fighting in 1992-3. On 2-3 November, Georgian terrorist groups attacked Russian peacekeeping forces on the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia and launched an artillery attack on the town of Gali, Ekho Moskvy reported, citing Abkhaz government statements. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] TWO STRATEGIC TAJIK VILLAGES FALL TO OPPOSITION.

    Fighters of the Tajik opposition have seized two more villages along the road to Khorog, Russian and Western sources reported. They attacked Sagirdasht and Kalai-Hussein on 1 November, capturing both by 3 November. The villages lie along the only highway leading to the Eastern city of Khorog. More importantly, these are the last two villages of any size on the way south to Afghanistan. Russian and Kazakstani border guards at the Kalai-Khumb posts are now sandwiched between Tajik opposition forces based opposite their positions in Afghanistan and behind them in the Tavil-Dara region. The Tajik Ministry of Defense is moving about 3,000 soldiers into position to launch a counter- offensive. -- Bruce Pannier

    [04] FRENCH COMPANY TO BUILD TURKMEN CONVENTION CENTER.

    The French construction company Bouygues has been awarded the contract to build a convention center in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, according to a 4 November AFP report. This latest contract is worth about $98 million but Bouygues is already building the presidential palace at a cost of about $80 million and a national park complex for an undisclosed figure. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] UN POLICE PROTEST FALSE BOSNIAN CROAT REPORT.

    The Bosnian Croat Habena news agency reported on 2 November that five Croat returnees were killed and seven injured as the result of an incident taking place a day earlier in a part of Serb-controlled northwestern Bosnia. According to Habena--which reported that its information came from the International Police Task Force's (IPTF) local information office--Bosnian Serbs opened fire on 47 displaced Croats returning to their former villages in an attempt to visit the graves of their relatives, while the IPTF fired back at Bosnian Serbs. After checking local UN office reports, IPTF spokesman Patrick Svensson said on 4 November that the story was totally invented by Habena, AFP and Oslobodjenje reported. IPTF has protested the report, raising tensions, and asked Habena to make a public apology. Svensson said that Habena sent a letter of apology to the command of the IFOR division North, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [06] BOSNIAN SERBS TO FIRE ACCUSED WAR CRIMINALS FROM POLICE FORCE.

    Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told U.S. human rights envoy John Shattuck that the four indicted war criminals recently identified as serving with the Bosnian Serb police will be dismissed (see ). She refused, however, to turn the men over to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. In response, Shattuck threatened "negative political and economic consequences," Oslobodjenje reported on 5 November. A major scandal emerged when the accused war criminals were discovered on the police force, because it appears that UN police, Carl Bildt's office, and IFOR knew they were there but did and said nothing until The Boston Globe broke the story last week. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] FEDERAL YUGOSLAVIA ELECTIONS UPDATE.

    With over half the votes counted in federal Yugoslav elections, parties loyal to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic hold a convincing lead. Beta reported that 48.15% of votes tallied went to Milosevic's coalition, 23.94% to the opposition Zajedno or Together coalition, and 18.47% to the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party. In terms of representational breakdown for the 138- member legislature, Reuters reported that Milosevic's coalition so far is guaranteed 50 seats, while Zajedno has 21 and the SRS 13. Meanwhile, Montena- fax reported that in Montenegrin republican elections, the ruling Democratic Socialist Party has, with nearly all ballots counted, an absolute majority of 45 of 71 seats. Only in local voting did the opposition manage inroads, and in Belgrade the Democratic Party leader, and mayoral candidate Zoran Djindjic nearly won a majority, but will compete in the 17 November run-off. -- Stan Markotich

    [08] WIESENTHAL PROTESTS PUBLICATION OF ANTI-SEMITIC BOOK IN CROATIA.

    Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal has protested publication in Croatia of the "Protocol of the Elders of Zion," first published by anti-Semites in 1903 purporting to prove that Jews want to dominate the world, AFP reported on 4 November. Wiesenthal sent a letter to the Croatian embassy in Vienna protesting that the Croatian government had agreed to the publishing and sale of an "extremely anti-Semitic" book in a country where some 20,000 Jews were killed during World War II, and some 1,000 of those who remained in Croatia were "defenseless" before it. In other news, thirteen veteran officers who served with Croatian forces allied with Nazi Germany during World War II were awarded equivalent ranks in the country's present-day army, Reuters reported that same day. The move was intended to rehabilitate the men, but it is unknown whether they were members of the Domobrani, the then-regular Croatian conscript army, or the Ustasha militia, responsible for war-time atrocities against Jews and Serbs. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [09] SLOVENIA'S LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PULL AHEAD OF THE PACK.

    The latest public opinion polling in advance of Slovenia's 10 November general elections has the largest parliamentary party, Premier Janez Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), gaining in public support, Reuters reported on 4 November. According to a Delo poll, backing for the LDS has risen to 15.3% of decided voters, up from 11.6% recorded about a week ago. But according to the daily Dnevnik, decided voters' support for the LDS has jumped from 15.3% to 21.8%. Trailing in second place is the rightist Slovenian People's Party, which according to several polls, is hovering around the 9% mark of decided voters' support. In 1992 general elections, the LDS took about a third of the votes, and won 30 of 90 legislative seats. -- Stan Markotich

    [10] PRELIMINARY RESULTS IN ROMANIAN ELECTIONS.

    Data released on 5 November confirm the opposition's victory in the 3 November parliamentary elections, Romanian media reported. They also show incumbent President Ion Iliescu slightly ahead of his main rival, Emil Constantinescu from the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). With 95% of the votes counted, the CDR leads by 30.19% for the Senate and 29.61% for the Chamber of Deputies. Trailing the CDR are the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania with 23.26% and 21.73%; the Social Democratic Union with 13.17% and 12.97%; and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, with 7.01% and 6.84%, respectively. The extremist Greater Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity also passed the 3% electoral hurdle. In the presidential race, Iliescu leads by 32.45%, followed by Constantinescu with 27.70% and Petre Roman with 20.61%. -- Dan Ionescu and Zsolt Mato

    [11] POST-ELECTORAL BARGAINING BEGINS IN ROMANIA.

    With final results in the 3 November general and presidential elections still pending, post-electoral bargaining has already begun in Romania, Reuters reported. Although the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) appears to rank first in parliament's two chambers, it has clearly failed to gain a majority. This makes future coalitions and alliances unavoidable. Petre Roman and his Social Democratic Union (USD) are generally seen as the key factor in any attempt to form a viable government. The CDR, however, expects Roman to back Emil Constantinescu in the run-off for presidency as the price for allowing the USD into government. CDR's options are limited as it has rejected any cooperation with Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy in Romania. The CDR might also rely on the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, which already showed its interest in participating in a future government. -- Zsolt Mato

    [12] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ATTACKS RIVALS BEFORE ELECTIONS.

    Mircea Snegur on 4 November launched a sharp verbal attack against Premier Andrei Sangheli and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi, his two main rivals in the 17 November presidential election, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Snegur was quoted as saying that, if he was re-elected president, he would dismiss the current government and dissolve the parliament. He further threatened to ask for a referendum to be conducted in case the parliament opposed his decision to change the government, dominated by the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. Snegur ruled out any reconciliation with either Sangheli or Lucinschi. -- Dan Ionescu

    [13] LEADING BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS DEMAND PREMIER'S RESIGNATION.

    Nineteen leading socialists on 4 November demanded Premier Zhan Videnov's resignation. The 19 have criticized the government for the past six months, primarily over the catastrophic state of the economy, and made their resignation call in an official letter to the High Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). Duma, citing the letter, remarked the BSP now has one last chance to initiate changes which could enable it to hold onto its parliamentary mandate until 1998. But the Socialists demanding Videnov's resignation failed to offer an alternative to Videnov's leadership, and this could lead to a further "cementing" of his behavior, Trud commented. Videnov has already decided to call an extraordinary party congress in January 1997, banking that the interval will not allow any challengers enough time to engineer his ouster. -- Maria Koinova

    [14] WILD SPECULATIONS SURROUND IMF MISSION TO BULGARIA.

    The IMF is apparently encouraging Bulgaria to consider adopting a currency board (as employed in Estonia and Lithuania), which would fix the exchange rate and only allow changes in the money supply in response to flows of foreign currency. Trud reported that the fund insists on tough anti- corruption measures and that the government is preparing to arrest the bosses of a number of business groupings and the heads of six or seven large banks. Standard reported that the IMF wants to appoint Bulgaria's "chief accountant" and the head of the national bank's bank supervision department. It asserts that the standby agreement approved in July had fallen apart by August and that the country can now count only on short-term financing for emergencies. No matter which government rules the country, wrote Kontinent, the IMF will determine not just policy directions but the details as well. -- Michael Wyzan

    [15] ALBANIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS DEMAND NEW ELECTIONS.

    Social Democratic Party leader Skender Gjinushi said that 20 October's local elections were not fair, because the ruling Democratic Party could spend much more on the electoral campaign than the opposition, Koha Jone reported on 5 November. He also said that most foreign observers did not participate in the vote-counting process, and claimed that major irregularities occurred. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rejected a suit by the Socialist Party, which claimed the elections were fraudulent. -- 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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