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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 230, 96-11-27

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 230, 27 November 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] UN SECURITY COUNCIL SLAMS ABKHAZ ELECTIONS.
  • [02] MORE REACTIONS TO NAGORNO-KARABAKH ELECTION.
  • [03] RASI-ZADE CONFIRMED AS AZERBAIJAN'S PRIME MINISTER.
  • [04] UNREST IN SOUTHERN KAZAKSTANI CITY.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] SERBIAN COURT UPHOLDS NULLIFICATION OF ELECTION RETURNS.
  • [06] SERBIAN STATE JOURNALISTS PROTEST CENSORSHIP OF MASS DEMONSTRATION COVERAGE.
  • [07] CROATIAN SUPREME COURT CHIEF SACKED, ACCUSED OF PEDOPHILIA.
  • [08] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA CIVILIANS INCREASE PRESSURE ON MLADIC BACKERS.
  • [09] BAN LIFTED ON BOSNIAN REFUGEES GOING HOME.
  • [10] ROMANIA'S OUTGOING PRESIDENT MAKES FAREWELL SPEECH . . .
  • [11] . . . WHILE HIS PARTY CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN PRESENCE IN NEW GOVERNMENT.
  • [12] TIRASPOL-OSCE RELATIONS WORSEN.
  • [13] BULGARIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION.
  • [14] BULGARIAN ECONOMIC UPDATE.
  • [15] HIGH-RANKING KOSOVO OFFICIALS IN TIRANA.
  • [16] ALBANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME HEAD DISAPPEARS WITH $13 MILLION.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] UN SECURITY COUNCIL SLAMS ABKHAZ ELECTIONS.

    The UN Security Council, following a briefing by UN special envoy for Georgia Edouard Brunner and his deputy Liviu Bota, on 26 November issued a statement deploring the holding of "so-called parliamentary elections" in Abkhazia on 23 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement, however, expressed satisfaction at last week's meeting between Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Abkhaz Foreign Minister Konstantin Ozgan. In the polls, 30 deputies were elected, including 19 Abkhaz, four Russians, three Armenians, two Georgians, one Kabardian, and one Greek; runoffs will be held in five constituencies where turnout was below the required 50%. In Abkhazia, celebrations were held on 26 November to mark the first anniversary of the adoption of a new constitution. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] MORE REACTIONS TO NAGORNO-KARABAKH ELECTION.

    The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on 26 November issued a statement reiterating its condemnation of the 24 November presidential election in the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement said the election was an attempt "to annex a part of Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenian troops," and blamed Armenia for initiating the "illegal act." Meanwhile, reelected Nagorno-Karabakh President Robert Kocharyan assessed his landslide victory (more than 85% of the vote) as support for his administration's policies, Noyan Tapan reported on 26 November. -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] RASI-ZADE CONFIRMED AS AZERBAIJAN'S PRIME MINISTER.

    Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev on 26 November issued a decree naming Artur Rasi-Zade as Azerbaijan's new prime minister, ITAR-TASS reported. Rasi-Zade had been acting prime minister since the resignation, ostensibly on health grounds, of Fuad Kuliev on 19 July. Rasi-Zade was born in Gyanje in 1935, trained as an oil engineer, and worked from 1957-1978 in the oil sector. He then worked as deputy chairman of Gosplan and from 1981-86 as head of the Machine-Building Department of the Azerbaijan CP Central Committee. He held the post of first deputy prime minister between 1988 and 1992, prior to the advent to power of the Azerbaijan Popular Front. -- Liz Fuller

    [04] UNREST IN SOUTHERN KAZAKSTANI CITY.

    The Kazakstani city of Shymkent experienced three days of protests against the shortage of electricity, gas and telephones services, RFE/RL reported on 26 November. Despite an agreement signed earlier in November with Uzbekistan to increase power supplies to southern Kazakstan, no visible results were seen by 24 November. RFE/RL reported youths broke car windows, elderly people blocked traffic, and thousands of people took to the streets. Authorities in the region turned on the city's electricity and natural gas supplies and as of 27 November reports indicate order has been restored. -- Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] SERBIAN COURT UPHOLDS NULLIFICATION OF ELECTION RETURNS.

    The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling nullifying the 17 November election results, which showed victories for the opposition Zajedno coalition, Reuters reported on 26 November. Zajedno, which had appealed in the first instance, said it was "not surprised that the Supreme Court is again in the service of the ruling party, but we are surprised that Milosevic's regime is causing new conflicts in this way." In related news, mass demonstrations continue in Belgrade, with opposition leaders vowing to continue the protests. Finally, polls opened in Belgrade on 27 November for the third round of municipal balloting, but voter turnout is reported low so far. Zajedno has called for the election to be boycotted and has demanded that the returns of the 17 November vote be "honored." -- Stan Markotich

    [06] SERBIAN STATE JOURNALISTS PROTEST CENSORSHIP OF MASS DEMONSTRATION COVERAGE.

    A group of 45 reporters working for the pro-regime daily Politika have signed a letter of protest saying their management is deliberately censoring coverage of the mass demonstrations in Belgrade, Beta reported on 26 November. The letter says, "We are very worried about the unprofessional nature of the coverage of ongoing developments on Serbia's political stage. We are in favor of respecting the facts that are unfolding." So far, Politika has either avoided coverage of the ongoing developments or has portrayed the demonstrations as a threat to public safety--a line taken by all the state-controlled media. -- Stan Markotich

    [07] CROATIAN SUPREME COURT CHIEF SACKED, ACCUSED OF PEDOPHILIA.

    Chief Justice Krunoslav Olujic has been fired by disciplinary authorities on the government's recommendation, Vecernji list wrote on 27 November. He is accused of having had sex with minors and of using his position to protect the financial activities of friends, AFP said, quoting Croatian Television. Olujic, however, is an opponent of attempts by the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) to thwart the independence of the judiciary. His successor, Milan Vukovic, is a known HDZ hard-liner. Commenting on the charges, Olujic told the independent weekly Globus: "The police accuse me of having sexual relationships with minors, girls what is more, which is astonishing," alluding to rumors that he is gay. In other news, the opposition agreed to end its boycott of parliament now that the question of the impasse in Zagreb city government will be placed on the legislature's agenda, Novi List noted. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA CIVILIANS INCREASE PRESSURE ON MLADIC BACKERS.

    President Biljana Plavsic and other leaders of the Serbian Democratic Party have asked the Ministries of Justice and Defense to "examine...the grounds for judicial action against the members of the army leadership, [which has been] committing acts against the constitution and the rule of the state in the Republika Srpska," AFP said on 26 November, quoting SRNA. Plavsic fired indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic and 80 of his backers on 9 November, but they refuse to go. She has spoken to Mladic's representatives but is unwilling to let him retain a major role in Bosnian Serb military affairs (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 26 November 1996). -- Patrick Moore

    [09] BAN LIFTED ON BOSNIAN REFUGEES GOING HOME.

    IFOR, the UNHCR, and the UN police announced the lifting of the two-week- old suspension of the right of refugees to go home to a sensitive area in northeast Bosnia, Oslobodjenje reported on 27 November. The international representatives had charged the Muslims with deliberately provoking the Serbs and breaking the rules for returning to homes that lie in territory held by another ethnic group. The Muslims said the Serbs were using Muslims' applications to go home in order to target empty Muslim homes for dynamiting. The international representatives now say that the rules for returning must be scrupulously observed. Also in Sarajevo, a group of mainly women refugees from Srebrenica blocked and jostled the car of the international community's Michael Steiner to protest the failure to carry out key points of the Dayton agreement. Steiner said that he is not to blame for the problems. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] ROMANIA'S OUTGOING PRESIDENT MAKES FAREWELL SPEECH . . .

    Ion Iliescu, in a farewell press conference carried live by Radio Bucharest on 26 November, defended his Presidency's record, emphasizing that democratic institutions had taken root and that Romania made significant progress in foreign relations. He blamed the failures of the outgoing government of Nicolae Vacaroiu on an uncooperative opposition, and he challenged his successor, Emil Constantinescu, to make good on campaign pledges to accelerate reform while increasing living standards, saying the two were contradictory. Iliescu also said he regretted his poor relations with a press that had been in general hostile to him. Asked whether he would run again for president in the year 2000, Iliescu replied it was too early to say. -- Michael Shafir

    [11] . . . WHILE HIS PARTY CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN PRESENCE IN NEW GOVERNMENT.

    Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), said the participation of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) in the new government coalition is likely to mean that government debates will not remain confidential that information will be leaked to the Hungarian government, Radio Bucharest reported on 26 November. Meanwhile, media reports suggest that the UDMR will have two ministers in Victor Ciorbea's government: one without portfolio in charge of the Department for National Minorities, the other head of the Ministry of Tourism. Negotiations on the line-up of the new cabinet are almost over, but an announcement will not be made until after President-elect Emil Constantinescu was been sworn in on 1 December, Premier-designate Victor Ciorbea said. -- Michael Shafir

    [12] TIRASPOL-OSCE RELATIONS WORSEN.

    Authorities in the breakaway Transdniester region have said that since the appointment of Donald Johnson as head of the OSCE mission, developments in the region have been negative and may affect cooperation within the Joint Control Commission, BASA-press reported on 26 November. The statement claims that OSCE members helped citizens in the Vasilievca and Dubasari districts to vote in the first Moldovan presidential run-off on 17 November by carrying ballot boxes to them. (The Tiraspol authorities had prohibited balloting on the region's territory but allowed voting for those willing to cross the Dniester.) The authorities said this was a "political provocation." They also accused members of the OSCE mission of "driving very fast" in the security zone and thus "endangering the safety of people." The OSCE mission said the statement "was not worth an answer." -- Michael Shafir

    [13] BULGARIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION.

    Stamen Stamenov is responsible for causing losses to Bulgaria worth several million dollars, Bulgarian media reported, quoting Edvin Sugarev, deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission against corruption. Sugarev announced the data after briefing Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev and Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev. He said that Stamenov signed "unfavorable" contracts with the Yugoslav Railroad Company between July 1994 and January 1995, when Stamenov was director-general of the Bulgarian State Railroad Company. Stamenov denied the allegations, telling Trud that " one of Bulgaria's tragedies is that we always suspect one other." -- Maria Koinova

    [14] BULGARIAN ECONOMIC UPDATE.

    Prime Minister Zhan Videnov has said the Bulgarian National Bank and the government will assume strict currency control over exchange offices, financial-broker houses, and the banking system, Trud reported on 27 November. There will also be stricter control over the import and export of hard currency as well as over bank transfers to and from abroad. The move is aimed at stopping hard currency smuggling and at strengthening the adherence to laws on buying and selling hard currency. Videnov, however, added that there will be no changes in the currency regime. Meanwhile, some 1.6 million of Bulgaria's population of 8.5 million are currently entangled in debts, according to the National Statistical Institute's latest survey. Some 80% of respondents now admit that their financial situation has deteriorated considerably , compared with 32% in April. -- Maria Koinova

    [15] HIGH-RANKING KOSOVO OFFICIALS IN TIRANA.

    Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi, and several representatives of Kosovo's Albanian political parties arrived in Tirana on 26 November to discuss a joint policy, Deutsche Welle's Albanian- language service reported on 26 November. The meeting coincides with increasing reports of internal shadow-state conflicts over coordinating policy between the president, government, and legislature (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 26 November 1996). Rugova also met with Albanian President Sali Berisha, ATSH reported. Both stressed the importance of Kosovo's democratic institutions, such as the parliament. It remains unclear if the Kosovars' demand for independence from federal Yugoslavia was addressed. Albania's support for that demand has been half-hearted to date. Both called on the EU to open an information office in Pristina. Earlier this week, Berisha had met with the famous dissident and possible Kosovar presidential candidate Adem Demaci. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [16] ALBANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME HEAD DISAPPEARS WITH $13 MILLION.

    Aleksander Grunasi, head of the Grunasi investment company, has disappeared with $13 million, Reuters reported on 26 November. Scores of people from Shkoder have filed legal charges against him, while the authorities have launched a criminal case. Grunasi had offered monthly interest rates of up to 10% a month. Eight suspects have been arrested. Hundreds of thousands of Albanians are estimated to have invested in pyramid schemes in the country, some of which offer monthly interest rates of up to 50%. Head of the local IMF mission Ranjid Teja warned that the growing number of pyramid schemes could endanger Albania's fragile economic recovery. The lek has increased in value against the dollar considerably since the summer, owing to Albanians in exile buying lek and investing. -- 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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