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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 225, 96-11-20

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 225, 20 November 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GAMSAKHURDIA LIEUTENANT SENTENCED TO DEATH.
  • [02] NAGORNO-KARABAKH NEGOTIATION UPDATE.
  • [03] ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HEARINGS INTERRUPTED.
  • [04] PROTESTS OVER BEATING OF AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST.
  • [05] KAZAKSTANI FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS OIC OFFICIAL.
  • [06] KYRGYZSTAN OFFERS TO HOST AFGHAN CONFERENCE.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] U.S. RESUMES ARMS SHIPMENTS TO BOSNIA.
  • [08] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRIME MINISTER SAYS MLADIC TO RESIGN TODAY.
  • [09] UPDATE ON CROATIAN PRESIDENT.
  • [10] RESULTS OF BELGRADE LOCAL ELECTIONS.
  • [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CHARGES LOCAL ELECTION FRAUD.
  • [12] MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS.
  • [13] BUCHAREST MAYOR DESIGNATED NEW ROMANIAN PREMIER.
  • [14] RULING PARTY SUPPORTS LUCINSCHI IN MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF.
  • [15] MAIN BULGARIAN OPPOSITION GROUP TO BECOME PARTY.
  • [16] WERE ARMS SHIPPED FROM ALBANIA TO RWANDA?
  • [17] ALBANIAN JOURNALIST FINED FOR LIBEL.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GAMSAKHURDIA LIEUTENANT SENTENCED TO DEATH.

    The Georgian Supreme Court in Tbilisi on 19 November handed down a death sentence on Vakhtang "Loti" Kobalia, a commander of informal military formations and ally of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Western agencies reported. After a trial lasting one year, Kobalia was found guilty of treason, banditry, and the 1993 murders of five soldiers and a TV journalist. Three other Gamsakhurdia associates, including his former chief bodyguard, Djambul Bokuchava, received prison sentences of between eight and 15 years. Some 1,500 Gamsakhurdia supporters gathered outside the court to protest the sentences. Speaking on Georgian Radio on 18 November, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze hinted that he would decide before the end of this year whether to abolish the death penalty. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] NAGORNO-KARABAKH NEGOTIATION UPDATE.

    Acting Armenian presidential spokesman Levon Zurabyan said that Azerbaijan has refused to participate further in drafting a joint declaration of principles on a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL reported on 19 November. The declaration was due to be presented at the OSCE's December summit in Lisbon. Zurabyan said Armenia will not sign any documents at the summit unless all sides agree on them in advance. Meanwhile, another round of Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks sponsored by the OSCE Minsk group began in Helsinki on 18 November, Noyan Tapan and Turan reported. -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HEARINGS INTERRUPTED.

    The Armenian Constitutional Court on 19 November interrupted its hearings on the opposition's appeal of the recent presidential polls after the proxies of defeated candidate Vazgen Manukyan staged a walk-out, RFE/RL reported. Shavarsh Kocharyan, Manukyan's representative to the court, said the proxies were protesting the court's refusal to demand access to all of the precinct-level voting protocols from the Central Electoral Commission and to listen to complaints of alleged voting irregularities from opposition witnesses. Kocharyan said the opposition will not attend the hearings unless its demands are satisfied. -- Emil Danielyan

    [04] PROTESTS OVER BEATING OF AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST.

    Reporters sans frontieres and the independent Azerbaijani journalists' organization Yeni Nesil have both protested the 17 November beating of journalist Taptig Farkhadoglu by a group of plainclothes police officers, Turan reported on 19 November. The incident took place shortly after Farkhadoglu interviewed Party of National Statehood Chairman Nemat Panahov, who had himself been detained by security officials on 15 November and warned against holding a planned demonstration in Baku on 17 November. -- Liz Fuller

    [05] KAZAKSTANI FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS OIC OFFICIAL.

    Kazakstani Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev discussed the situation in Afghanistan with Ibrahim Saleh Bakr, the deputy secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in Almaty on 17 November, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 18 November. The OIC, which has been trying to arrange peace negotiations involving all opposing forces in Afghanistan, is currently looking for the support from various Asian states. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

    [06] KYRGYZSTAN OFFERS TO HOST AFGHAN CONFERENCE.

    Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev forwarded a letter to the UN on 18 November offering Bishkek as a venue for Afghan peace talks that would involve representatives of the UN Security Council, RFE/RL reported. On the same day, 18 countries, including Russia and the CIS Central Asian states, met at the UN behind closed doors to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Kabul Radio, controlled by the Taliban rebel group, commented that the UN meeting "runs counter to the interests of the Afghan people," ITAR-TASS reported. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] U.S. RESUMES ARMS SHIPMENTS TO BOSNIA.

    James Pardew, the envoy supervising Washington's Train and Equip military aid program to the mainly Croatian and Muslim Federation, said that light and heavy weapons worth $100 million will be unloaded soon in the Croatian port of Ploce. The ship arrived weeks ago but put out to sea again amid a messy public dispute between Sarajevo and Washington. The Americans insisted that the Bosnian government sack a deputy minister of defense with close ties to Iran (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 19 November 1996), the VOA noted on 20 November. A face-saving formula was reached whereby not only the Muslim deputy but also the ethnic Croat defense minister left office. Now the Croats are unable to agree among themselves on the choice of a new minister, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRIME MINISTER SAYS MLADIC TO RESIGN TODAY.

    Gojko Klickovic said on 19 November that cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic has finally agreed to accept his dismissal, the BBC reported. Klickovic added that the indicted war criminal "will benefit from special treatment and will be able to get involved in the defense affairs of the Serb state," AFP noted, quoting SRNA. Mladic's staff has not confirmed the statement, and it is unclear what is meant by any future role for him in defense matters. It nonetheless seems certain that neither Pale nor Belgrade will allow him to be taken to the Hague-based tribunal, since he knows too much and could incriminate many important people if he feels he has nothing to lose. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] UPDATE ON CROATIAN PRESIDENT.

    The state-run media continue to stress that Franjo Tudjman is in fine shape and that his treatment is moving along well at Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital. Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 20 November that the president "is working as though he were in Zagreb," while Vecernji list said that he will visit the Croatian embassy on 21 November and return to Zagreb two days later. That same daily on 19 November hinted that opposition political figures and independent papers have unkind motives in speculating about Tudjman's health and a possible succession crisis. The independent daily Novi List quoted Ambassador Miomir Zuzul as denying media reports that Tudjman has cancer and that he has undergone surgery. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] RESULTS OF BELGRADE LOCAL ELECTIONS.

    The Belgrade Electoral Commission has announced that the opposition Zajedno coalition won 60 of the 110 seats in the municipal assembly, RTS reported on 20 November. The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia and its ally, the United Yugoslav Left, have 23 seats, Vojislav Seselj's ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party 15, and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) two. Ten seats will be contested in a second round, slated for 27 November. Parties may still contest the returns. At a19 November press conference, DSS head Vojislav Kostunica announced that his party will back Democratic Party and Zajedno leader Zoran Djindjic as candidate for Belgrade mayor. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade

    [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CHARGES LOCAL ELECTION FRAUD.

    Vuk Draskovic, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement and a leader of the Zajedno coalition, told some 35,000 demonstrators in Nis on 19 November that the ruling Socialists were responsible for election breaches during the 17 November local election run-offs, Nasa Borba reported. He added that some irregularities are so serious that a third round of balloting will have to take place in some districts. Violations allegedly range from falsification of ballots to the theft of ballot boxes. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba reported that the authorities are mobilizing police and military reserves with the likely intent of at least intimidating those attending opposition rallies. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade

    [12] MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS.

    The nationalist opposition, led by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE), has said it will use its strong showing in the 17 November local elections to try to force early parliamentary elections. The VMRO-DPMNE claimed victory in some of the country's biggest towns and in three of Skopje's four districts. The opposition had boycotted the second round of the 1994 parliamentary elections, charging fraud. Meanwhile, an OSCE observer mission said that reported irregularities did not put the validity of the local ballot into question. Council of Europe observers, however, estimated that as many as 25% of voters may not have appeared on electoral lists, Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [13] BUCHAREST MAYOR DESIGNATED NEW ROMANIAN PREMIER.

    The National Peasant Party Christian Democratic has named Victor Ciorbea as prime minister-designate, Romanian media reported on 19-20 November. Ciorbea's nomination has to be approved by the parliament, which is expected to give its consent. The Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) is now consulting legal experts over the fate of the Bucharest mayoralty. It is most likely that new elections for that post will take place in the next few months, with a CDR deputy mayor temporarily replacing Ciorbea. In other news, Libertatea reports that outgoing President Ion Iliescu will probably be elected chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania. -- Michael Shafir

    [14] RULING PARTY SUPPORTS LUCINSCHI IN MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF.

    The Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) is backing parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi in the run-off against incumbent President Mircea Snegur scheduled for 1 December, Infotag reported on 19 November. Premier Andrei Sangheli, the PDAM candidate, lost in the first round with only 9.5% of the vote. Radio Bucharest reported that Lucinschi will likely also be endorsed by the Communists' party, whose candidate, Vladimir Voronin, also lost in the first round. Meanwhile, Vasile Nedelciuc, deputy chairman of the Party of Democratic Forces, said his formation is still considering whether to back President Mircea Snegur. Snegur told a press conference in Chisinau on 19 November that Moldova was "in danger" and must "unite in the struggle against communist leftism." -- Michael Shafir

    [15] MAIN BULGARIAN OPPOSITION GROUP TO BECOME PARTY.

    The National Executive Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 19 November proposed that the SDS transform itself from a coalition into a party, Bulgarian media reported. The council will present this proposal to the next SDS national conference. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov said talks with leaders of the SDS member organizations started on 18 November. The SDS was formed in December 1989 as an umbrella organization of anti-communist organizations. Fifteen parties and movements ranging from monarchists to Social Democrats currently belong to the coalition, while two more have observer status. The platform of the new SDS still has to be worked out, but Kostov said it will be close to the "principles of [European] people's parties but [will] include social-democratic and liberal elements." According to 24 chasa, seven SDS member parties are opposed to the council's proposal. -- Stefan Krause

    [16] WERE ARMS SHIPPED FROM ALBANIA TO RWANDA?

    According to documents found in a camp abandoned by Hutu militia in eastern Zaire, a British-registered company shipped mortars, rifles, and heavy machine-gun ammunition from several countries, including Albania, to the former Rwandan government during the 1994 genocide. The Albanian Defense Ministry denied the allegations, saying Albania has never violated the UN arms embargo against Rwanda, which took effect in May 1994, Reuters reported on 19 November. The British government has set up a commission to investigate the company, identified as Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd., AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [17] ALBANIAN JOURNALIST FINED FOR LIBEL.

    A Tirana court has ruled that Koha Jone journalist Arban Hasani must pay a fine of $2,160 or face seven months in prison on charges of libel. The SHIK secret service and the patriotic organization Kosova accused Hasani of publishing false information when he was editor in chief of Populli Po, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 19 November. Hasani had alleged that many current SHIK employees had worked for the communist-era secret service. The Association of Professional Journalists has sent an appeal to President Sali Berisha protesting the sentence and calling for an amnesty. -- Fabian Schmidt

    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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