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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 228, 96-11-25

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 228, 25 November 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] KOCHARYAN REELECTED PRESIDENT OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH.
  • [02] HIGH TURNOUT IN ABKHAZ POLL, GEORGIAN REFERENDUM.
  • [03] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS FRESH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
  • [04] KAZAKSTANIS RESIST CHANGE OF CAPITAL.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] SERBIA'S ZAJEDNO TO BOYCOTT NEXT ROUND OF LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BELGRADE.
  • [06] DRASKOVIC'S WIFE FREED FROM POLICE CUSTODY.
  • [07] TUDJMAN SLAMS OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE.
  • [08] PLAVSIC MOVES ARMY COMMAND CENTER.
  • [09] NATO CONFISCATES WEAPONS IN BOSNIA.
  • [10] UN FORCE IN MACEDONIA TO BE EXTENDED AT REDUCED STRENGTH?
  • [11] DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE OVER BULGARIAN CURRENCY BOARD.
  • [12] UPDATE ON BULGARIAN BUGGING SCANDAL.
  • [13] NEGOTIATIONS ON NEW ROMANIAN CABINET.
  • [14] MOLDOVAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN UPDATE.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] KOCHARYAN REELECTED PRESIDENT OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH.

    The presidential election in Nagorno-Karabakh took place on 24 November despite its condemnation by Azerbaijan, Russia, and major Western countries, Western agencies reported. According to the Central Electoral Commission in Stepanakert, 76% of the region's 89,000 voters turned out. Robert Kocharyan, the incumbent president of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, who was opposed by two other candidates, won a decisive victory, Radio France Internationale reported on 25 November. Meanwhile, mass rallies were held in Azerbaijan to protest the election, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 November. Turan quoted Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev as saying that his country will never recognize the vote. Aliev said that besides Armenia some unspecified countries also "support separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh." - - Emil Danielyan

    [02] HIGH TURNOUT IN ABKHAZ POLL, GEORGIAN REFERENDUM.

    Parliamentary elections were held in Abkhazia on 23 November despite an appeal by the EU on 22 November for their cancellation and the resumption of talks on a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict, Russian and Western agencies reported. Eighty-one candidates, including 65 ethnic Abkhaz and three Georgians, contended the 35 seats; 30 deputies were elected in the first round. Voter participation among the 219,000 electorate was estimated at over 80%, according to AFP. Speaking at a press conference on 24 November, a spokesman for the Unrecognized Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) characterized the elections as "the free expression of the people's will," ITAR-TASS reported. Voting was marred by a series of explosions in Gali raion, home to some 40,000 repatriated ethnic Georgians; an Abkhaz Interior Ministry spokesmen blamed the incidents on Georgian saboteurs, ITAR-TASS reported. Between 18 and 23 November some 230,000 ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia during the fighting in 1992-93 voted in a counter-referendum organized by the Georgian authorities and overwhelmingly registered their condemnation of the Abkhaz poll. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS FRESH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

    The leader of the opposition National Democratic Union, defeated presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan, has demanded a fresh election following the decision by the Constitutional Court to reject the opposition's appeal of the results of the 22 September presidential polls (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 November 1996), Noyan Tapan reported on 22 November. Manukyan called on the international community to exert pressure on the Armenian government to make the latter respect democratic principles. -- Emil Danielyan

    [04] KAZAKSTANIS RESIST CHANGE OF CAPITAL.

    With the first transfer of ministries due to take place after the New Year, the Giller Institute conducted a poll which found only 5.6% of respondents would move from Almaty to Akmola, the future capital, according to a 24 November report from ITAR-TASS. Akmola lies on the steppe in the north of the country and has much colder winters and hotter summers than Almaty. The ministries of agriculture, transportation, and communications are the first of 26 ministries scheduled to move in 1997, but presently the Kazakstani government has only about one-tenth of the money it needs to complete the first stage of the transfer. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] SERBIA'S ZAJEDNO TO BOYCOTT NEXT ROUND OF LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BELGRADE.

    Leaders of the opposition Zajedno coalition have asked voters to boycott a third round of municipal balloting in Belgrade, slated for 27 November. Earlier, Belgrade's First District Court had declared void the returns in a number of local constituencies where opposition candidates won majorities following the 17 November run-offs. At mass rallies over the weekend, opposition leaders warned that the ruling Socialists' tactic in the third round of voting would be to overturn opposition wins by nullifying the results of the second round and falsifying those of the third. Early returns in the second round of voting had shown that Zajedno won at least 60 of the 110 seats in the Belgrade council. Meanwhile, the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), led by accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, will take part in the third round, Nasa Borba reported on 25 November. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade

    [06] DRASKOVIC'S WIFE FREED FROM POLICE CUSTODY.

    Danica Draskovic, wife of Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic, was freed from police custody on 22 November. She had disappeared the previous day, prompting her husband to express concern that she had been kidnapped. After her release, she told Nasa Borba that she was shanghaied by police and questioned about a public remark calling on violence to address regime repression. "They put a knife to my throat, pistol in my mouth, and they pulled my hair," she said. She added that the police had wanted to her to call her husband to say "they want to kill me if you don't stop the demonstrations ... and [concede] that the returns in Belgrade are nullified." -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade

    [07] TUDJMAN SLAMS OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE.

    Croatian President Franjo Tudjman returned to Zagreb on 23 November after spending just over a week in Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital, Croatian and international media reported. His office said the stay there was because of an ulcer and swollen lymph nodes, but unnamed U.S. and Croatian told CNN that he has terminal cancer. Television footage showed the president gaunt and weakened. He nonetheless attended a social function in the company of hard-line Minister of Defense Gojko Susak soon after returning home. He also made a tough speech in which he used communist-era language to blast unnamed sinister "European and trans-Atlantic powers" who, he alleged, are meddling in Croatia's affairs even though they "are not able to solve their own minority, racial or social problems." The address came in the wake of the 21 November demonstration in which 100,000 people in Zagreb protested in favor of independent Radio 101. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] PLAVSIC MOVES ARMY COMMAND CENTER.

    Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic announced on 22 November that the army's command center will be moved from ousted Gen. Ratko Mladic's base at Han Pijesak to the northeastern Bosnian town of Bijeljina, Reuters reported. World Bank officials that same day pointed out that the Republika Srpska has received only 2% of the $900 million in reconstruction aid earmarked for all of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bank blamed a number of factors but singled out a lack of cooperation from local officials, the VOA noted. All of Bosnia suffers not only from wartime devastation but also from massive unemployment aggravated by the demobilization of tens of thousands of soldiers. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] NATO CONFISCATES WEAPONS IN BOSNIA.

    IFOR troops and UN police took a number of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and other weapons "one would not ordinarily expect to find in a police station" from Muslim police in Sanski Most, the BBC said on 24 November. The northwest Bosnian town was held by the Serbs for most of the war but captured by the Bosnian and Croatian armies in their fall 1995 offensive. Meanwhile in Mostar, the international community's Michael Steiner took part in the organizational meeting of a refugee group called Road to Return. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] UN FORCE IN MACEDONIA TO BE EXTENDED AT REDUCED STRENGTH?

    UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali on 22 November recommended that the mandate of the UN force stationed in Macedonia be extended by six months at a reduced strength, Reuters reported. Under the proposal , the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) will be gradually reduced from 1,100 to 800 troops by 1 April. Boutros-Ghali, in a report to the UN Security Council, said recent developments in the region and Macedonia's increased international standing have made the possibility of a spread of violence from other parts of the former Yugoslavia less likely. He added that "the primary threat ... may come from internal tensions." -- Stefan Krause

    [11] DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE OVER BULGARIAN CURRENCY BOARD.

    Bulgarian Premier Zhan Videnov on 24 November urged the heads of radio and television stations and news agencies as well as newspaper editors to help in gaining public support for the introduction of a currency board, RFE/RL and Pari reported the next day. The IMF has stipulated that such a board be established as a condition for the release of installments of a loan. Videnov said such a board would enforce "iron financial discipline" by preventing the national bank from lending freely to banks and firms and by putting a stop to large budget deficits. Depositors fearing bank failures, lay-offs, and cuts in social benefits after the board's introduction are withdrawing leva from the banks and converting them into dollars at an accelerating rate. -- Michael Wyzan

    [12] UPDATE ON BULGARIAN BUGGING SCANDAL.

    Interior Ministry Secretary Ivan Boyadzhiev told Bulgarian National Radio on 24 November that there was no motivation for bugging the headquarters of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), the Bulgarian press reported. His statement was in response to SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov's claim that the SDS premises were bugged before the presidential elections (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 November 1996). Boyadzhiev acknowledged that in theory, some ministry employees could have placed the microphones in return for bribes and without authorization. Demokratsiya claimed that Boyadzhiev's wife heads an "informal" eavesdropping group and that materials were directly handed to Boyadzhiev and then passed onto the Bulgarian Socialist Party headquarters. Even if Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev gave no written authorization, it does not mean that he did not know about the "criminal eavesdropping," the daily added. -- Maria Koinova

    [13] NEGOTIATIONS ON NEW ROMANIAN CABINET.

    Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) participated in negotiations over the weekend on the new Romanian cabinet, Romanian media report. It is now considered certain that the UDMR will be included in the new government. According to some reports, the UDMR's Gyorgy Frunda will be minister of tourism and the National Liberal Party will have five ministers in the cabinet. Radio Bucharest reported on 23 November that during the negotiations, it was decided to restore the traditional designation "chairman of the Council of Ministers" to replace "prime minister." The new cabinet will have 27 members, of whom 23 will be in charge of portfolios. In other news, the Constitutional Court on 23 November confirmed Emil Constantinescu's election as the country's new president. -- Michael Shafir

    [14] MOLDOVAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN UPDATE.

    Parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi on 22 November said that if he is elected president on 1 December, he will implement a change of government, Infotag reported the same day. He dismissed "rumors," reportedly spread by incumbent President Mircea Snegur's supporters, that he intended to keep Andrei Sangheli's unpopular cabinet. He also accused Snegur of being responsible for the growing wage and pension arrears, which, he claimed, had grown most rapidly between 1991 and 1994, when Snegur had extraordinary powers. Meanwhile, Snegur appealed to Moldova's national minorities to support him, saying his adversary's allegations that he intended to limit the rights of minorities were "absurd." -- Michael Shafir

    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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