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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 23, 97-02-03

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 23, 3 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] OFFICIALS: PLOT TO ASSASSINATE SHEVARDNADZE FOILED.
  • [02] MOSCOW ON U.S. ROLE IN KARABAKH NEGOTIATIONS.
  • [03] PIPELINE, CASPIAN UPDATE.
  • [04] DRUG PROBLEMS CONTINUE ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER . . .
  • [05] . . . WHILE TASHKENT WARNS DUSHANBE.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] POLICE VIOLENCE IN BELGRADE.
  • [07] SERBIAN AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON OPPOSITION LEADERS.
  • [08] POLICE ARRESTS AFTER KOSOVO SHOOT-OUT.
  • [09] KARADZIC WARNS OF WAR OVER BRCKO . . .
  • [10] . . . AS DOES BOSNIAN ARMY GENERAL.
  • [11] INCIDENTS CONTINUE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
  • [12] FRANJO TUDJMAN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT?
  • [13] DEAN OF TETOVO UNIVERSITY RELEASED FROM PRISON.
  • [14] ROMANIA LAUNCHES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE.
  • [15] CIUBUC ON MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES.
  • [16] MOLDOVAN MILITARY ASSETS TO BE SOLD.
  • [17] BULGARIAN POLITICAL DEADLOCK CONTINUES . . .
  • [18] . . . AS DO PROTESTS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] OFFICIALS: PLOT TO ASSASSINATE SHEVARDNADZE FOILED.

    A conspiracy to kill Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and other top government officials last fall was thwarted, RFE/RL reported on 31 January. According to sources in Georgia's Ministry of Interior, the conspirators planned to assassinate Shevardnadze during the Tbilisi city festival last October and were funded and directed by the country's former top security official, Igor Georgadze. A dozen people have been arrested in connection with the plot. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [02] MOSCOW ON U.S. ROLE IN KARABAKH NEGOTIATIONS.

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov said Moscow is opposed to U.S. efforts to secure the co-chairmanship of the OSCE-sponsored Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL reported on 1 February. Pastukhov said the American proposal is part of a wide-ranging Western campaign to challenge Russian interests in the region and the OSCE has already selected France for the position. Armenia welcomed the OSCE decision, announced in early January, while Azerbaijan prefers the U.S. to take up the post. Pastukhov alleged that Iran, Turkey, the U.S., and other NATO countries were involved in a broader campaign to edge Russia out of the region. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [03] PIPELINE, CASPIAN UPDATE.

    The victory of Aslan Maskhadov in Chechnya's presidential election was widely interpreted as a positive sign Caspian Sea oil will flow uninterrupted through Chechnya en route to Novorissisk and world markets, Reuters reported on 31 January. The next day ITAR-TASS reported Maskhadov has given promises the oil will flow and Chechen officials will begin talks later this month with the Russian Energy Ministry on financing repairs to the pipeline through Chechnya. In other news, Turkmen Deputy Foreign Minister Yulbaz Kepbanov reiterated Ashgabat's view that the Azeri and Chirag Caspian Sea fields were within its territorial waters and it would be "incorrect" for Azerbaijan to forge ahead with drilling plans until the Caspian's status was defined, RFE/RL reported on 1 February. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] DRUG PROBLEMS CONTINUE ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER . . .

    Russian border guards shot and killed one of four men attempting to cross from Afghanistan into Tajikistan on 31 January, ITAR-TASS reported. The other three fled back across the Pyanj River to Afghanistan. The same night Russian border guards apprehended another man carrying 20.6 kilos of narcotics. Radio Rossii reported on 2 February that in January Russian border guards caught 58 people trying to cross into Tajikistan illegally and confiscated more than 35 kilos of narcotics. -- Bruce Pannier

    [05] . . . WHILE TASHKENT WARNS DUSHANBE.

    Tashkent has officially expressed "serious concern" over what it terms the increasing level of drug trafficking into Uzbekistan from Tajikistan, RFE/RL reported on 1 February. According to unnamed sources in the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tashkent fears smugglers are turning Uzbekistan into a transit country for drugs heading to other CIS countries as well as to the West, and in some cases are involved in smuggling weapons into Uzbekistan. Tashkent called on Dushanbe to make every effort to halt these activities and said it would take whatever measures were necessary to prevent future incidents. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] POLICE VIOLENCE IN BELGRADE.

    Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic confronted Belgrade demonstrators with a massive show of police violence beginning 2 February, local independent media reported. The demonstrators are demanding recognition of the opposition wins from the 17 November municipal runoffs. Heavily armed riot police resorted to beatings, tear gas, and dowsing protesters with water cannons. Eyewitness reports, some describing the city as "a battleground," say it was the most serious display of state aggression since 1991, when Milosevic deployed tanks to put down anti-government demonstrations. According to sources in the opposition Democratic Party, hundreds of people- -including foreign and local journalists singled out for attack--were injured and scores arrested during the evening of 2-3 February. Throughout the city, protesters hurled concrete slabs and lit fires in the streets in an effort to halt police charges and water cannons. -- Stan Markotich

    [07] SERBIAN AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON OPPOSITION LEADERS.

    Leaders of the Zajedno opposition coalition were among those seemingly targeted for an attack during the continuing demonstrations in the country. Vesna Pesic, head of Serbian Civic Alliance, was reportedly beaten about the hands, feet and ribs. Speaking to Radio Index, she commented "I was lucky some of the protesters tried to protect me. I suffered bruises but they saved me from worse injuries." Pesic is now in hiding. Meanwhile, Serbian Renewal Movement head Vuk Draskovic said he was pursued by plainclothes policemen, and his car was shot at, Radio B92 reported. Draskovic also went into hiding. He did, however, vow that protests would continue the afternoon of 3 February, adding the time for "Ghandi-style resistance" had passed and urged demonstrators to bring with them whatever they needed to defend themselves, CNN reported. -- Stan Markotich

    [08] POLICE ARRESTS AFTER KOSOVO SHOOT-OUT.

    Serbian police arrested over 100 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo over the past week, according to the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). The arrests reached a peak after three ethnic Albanians were killed in a 31 January shoot-out with police near Vucitrn. Senior LDK officials held an emergency meeting and called the situation "extremely serious." They charged Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic with stirring tensions in order to divert attention from the Belgrade opposition protests. Police later claimed those killed belonged to the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). They also said that one of them, identified as Zahor Pajaziti, was a top UCK official and added that during raids, a large number of weapons, explosives, and maps of public buildings and military facilities were seized. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [09] KARADZIC WARNS OF WAR OVER BRCKO . . .

    Former Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic told the Greek daily ElevtherosTypos: "If the question of Brcko is not resolved, we will go to war again," AFP reported on 2 February. In a rare interview, he also taunted NATO troops for failing to arrest him for war crimes, saying he has so far escaped detention "because I have 2,000 men who follow me everywhere, and if [NATO tries to make an arrest], there will be at least 500 dead." U.S. mediator Roberts Owen is slated to rule on the future of the strategic town of Brcko on 15 February, which was the one territorial question not settled in the Dayton agreement. Vice president of the mainly Croat and Muslim federation Ejup Ganic is in Washington to lobby officials regarding Brcko, and Republika Srpska Vice President Dragoljub Mirjanic is due to arrive there shortly for the same purpose. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] . . . AS DOES BOSNIAN ARMY GENERAL.

    Gen. Sead Delic, commander of the Muslim-led Bosnian Army's Second Corps, while visiting the disputed northern town of Brcko, warned Bosnian Serbs that they faced more fighting unless they let refugees return home, AFP reported on 1 February. Delic said the war was not finished as long as the people cannot return home: that was not a threat but the only way to achieve what they fought for. Meanwhile, a UN-supervised convoy of Muslim refugees, who were supposed to return to their homes in Croat-held Stolac, was blocked on 31 January by a group of about 300 to 400 Croat civilians. A human wall of women and children blocked the way and Muslim refugees were kept in the coach during a one-hour standoff. It is the second set-back for UN efforts to help Muslim refugees to return to their homes. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] INCIDENTS CONTINUE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.

    An explosive device on 1 February damaged a track near the town of Vukovar on the railroad recently reopened by the UN to connect Croatia's government- controlled territory with the Serb-held region of eastern Slavonia, international and local agencies reported. The same day a hand grenade was thrown in front of a Croatian pension payment office in village of Jankovci, injuring none and causing only slight damage, Hina reported. The agency also reported a hand grenade was thrown at the house of a non-Serb in the town of Negoslavci, but no one was injured. Explosions took place a day after a Belgian corporal serving with the UN force in eastern Slavonia was shot and killed by a young Serb. A Jordanian soldier and a civilian UN official were also wounded, and a suspect detained. The incidents began following the UN Security Council endorsement of a Croatian government letter of intent for reintegration of eastern Slavonia on 31 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] FRANJO TUDJMAN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT?

    The Croatian president said on 31 January in an interview with CNN that his health was satisfactory enough to run for president in elections later this year, and that he would step down if he lost. "But there is no chance that I and the (ruling) Croatian Democratic Community could lose. We have the support of the majority of the people," Tudjman said. He downplayed reports that he was seriously ill with stomach cancer. Tudjman also dismissed the possibility that war criminals wanted by the Hague-based tribunal were hiding in Croatia. Commenting on evictions of Muslims from the Croat-held part of the divided town of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tudjman blamed "extremists on both sides," but that Muslims were more to blame. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [13] DEAN OF TETOVO UNIVERSITY RELEASED FROM PRISON.

    Fadil Sulejmani, dean of the illegal Tetovo Albanian-language university, was released on probation from prison on 1 February. Sulejmani was sentenced last July to two and a half years in prison for stirring unrest during the February 1995 riots surrounding the university. In an interview with Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service, Sulejmani said that Tetovo university is a reality that the Macedonian authorities can no longer ignore. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [14] ROMANIA LAUNCHES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE.

    President Emil Constantinescu's visit to Brussels today is aimed at promoting Romania's membership in the European Community and NATO. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in Davos, Switzerland--where Constantinescu had met with several heads of state before arriving in Brussels--that Romania should not be allowed to join NATO before the signing of a basic Ukrainian/Romanian treaty. Constantinescu confirmed that NATO's position is the same and Romania was willing to accept that demand. Ending a one-day visit to Romania, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum told Reuters on 1 February that the elections in Romania demonstrated "political maturity," which "bodes well for relations with the U.S., and for Romania's quest to join NATO and other Euro-Atlantic structures." But he stopped short of backing the Romanian application. -- Zsolt Mato

    [15] CIUBUC ON MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES.

    At a press conference in Chisinau on 30 January, Premier Ion Ciubuc said he intends to break the energy sector monopoly in order to overcome the existing crisis, BASA-press reported on next day. He also said he would reconsider Moldova's possible participation in the Cernavoda Romanian nuclear power station project. Asked whether he would adopt a pro-Moscow stance to get energy deliveries from Russia, Ciubuc replied that he was "a pro-Moldovan official" who "will do his best to have good relations with Romania, Ukraine, and Russia." He denied statements by a spokesman for President Petru Lucinschi that a World Bank loan of $80 million would be used exclusively to pay off salary and pension arrears and said the government would first try to mobilize domestic resources and only afterward to make use of foreign loans in order to lessen that debt. -- Dan Ionescu

    [16] MOLDOVAN MILITARY ASSETS TO BE SOLD.

    Presidential spokesman Andrei Turcanu said Moldovan authorities intend to sell off some of the country's military equipment to partly finance salary and pension arrears. The Defense Ministry declined from commenting, but BASA-press reported on 31 January that most likely, MiG-29 planes, which cannot be used by the Moldovan air force, will be sold. The Moldovan government already sold off such planes three years ago. -- Dan Ionescu

    [17] BULGARIAN POLITICAL DEADLOCK CONTINUES . . .

    The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) looks set to announce a new Socialist government on 3 February after its offer for talks on a coalition government was rejected by the opposition the previous day, RFE/RL reported. BSP Chairman Georgi Parvanov said that if no coalition government is formed, the Socialists will name a new government on 3 February and present it to the parliament for a vote of confidence the next day. The Union of Democratic Forces demanded that the BSP give up the mandate to form a government before talks begin. President Petar Stoyanov said he can not broker talks as long as the Socialists hold the mandate. The BSP's premier-designate, current Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev, on 31 January proposed that Stoyanov name a broad coalition government and said he was willing to give up his mandate. On 2 February, the BSP leadership met to discuss the formation of a new government. -- Stefan Krause

    [18] . . . AS DO PROTESTS.

    As the political deadlock ensued, protests continued throughout Bulgaria over the weekend, reaching their 28th consecutive day on 2 February, RFE/RL and Reuters reported. The blockade of the main road and rail link from Sofia to Greece continued for a fifth day in Dupnitsa. Police reportedly tried to break the blockade on 1 February. Opposition leaders said people were beaten, while the police denied the use of violence. Duma on 3 February alleged that "40 Canadian businessmen" and Bulgarian tennis coach Yuliya Berberyan paid the protesters a total of $20,000. Students blocked the main roads leading into Sofia. Protesters also briefly blocked the exit of Bulgaria's biggest oil refinery, Neftochim in Burgas. Thousands demonstrated in Sofia and other towns. Public transport workers in Sofia went on strike on 3 February. Dock workers in Burgas and Varna are expected to go on strike the same day. -- Stefan Krause

    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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