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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 37, 97-02-21

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 37, 21 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGED ILLEGAL ARMS SUPPLIES TO ARMENIA . . .
  • [02] . . . AMID AZERBAIJAN'S ACCUSATIONS OF CEASEFIRE VIOLATION.
  • [03] LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN UZBEKISTAN.
  • [04] COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS CRITICIZES KYRGYZ PRESIDENT.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] SFOR ATTACKED IN MOSTAR, BOSNIA.
  • [06] BOSNIA FAILS TO AGREE ON COMMON ECONOMIC RULES.
  • [07] SERBIAN UPDATE.
  • [08] MACEDONIAN STUDENTS CONTINUE PROTESTS AGAINST ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE TUITION.
  • [09] INFLATION REACHES NEW RECORD IN ROMANIA.
  • [10] FRENCH PRESIDENT ON ROMANIA AND NATO.
  • [11] ROMANIAN PRISONERS' PROTEST SPREADS TO NINE CITIES.
  • [12] ROMANIA'S CURRENT, FORMER PRESIDENTS DUEL OVER PRIVILEGES.
  • [13] NEW PARTY SET UP IN MOLDOVA.
  • [14] BULGARIA'S EMPLOYMENT, FOOD, ENERGY WOES DEEPEN.
  • [15] BULGARIAN INTERIM PREMIER ON NUCLEAR PLANT.
  • [16] MORE VIOLENCE IN ALBANIA.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGED ILLEGAL ARMS SUPPLIES TO ARMENIA . . .

    The Russian State Duma on 19 February assigned three of its standing committees to investigate Minister for Relations with the CIS Aman Tuleev's allegations that Russia has illegally supplied $50 million worth of arms to Armenia over the past year (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 February 1997), RFE/RL and Noyan Tapan reported. The motion was submitted by Communist deputy Nikolai Bindyukov. Several deputies, including deputies from the liberal Yabloko faction and the leftist Narodovlastie group, argued that an open discussion of the issue could harm Russian-Armenian relations. Russian ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that it is in Russia's interests to offer military aid to its "strategic ally Armenia...even for free, if necessary." -- Emil Danielyan

    [02] . . . AMID AZERBAIJAN'S ACCUSATIONS OF CEASEFIRE VIOLATION.

    Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has charged that by "illegally" receiving military equipment, Armenia has violated the May 1994 Nagorno- Karabakh ceasefire agreement, RFE/RL reported. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said in Baku that he does not exclude the possibility that the alleged arms supplies were delivered to Armenia from Russian military bases stationed in Georgia, Turan reported on 20 February. Shevardnadze claimed that a "group of servicemen" has been arrested in Georgia on suspicion of illegal weapons sales to Armenia. -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN UZBEKISTAN.

    Algirdas Brazauskas and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, signed several agreements on legal aid and transportation in Tashkent on 20 February, ELTA and BNS reported. Karimov praised Lithuania as an "extremely reliable partner," adding that he supports Lithuania's bid to join NATO. He also said the two countries see eye to eye on "virtually everything." Lithuania and Uzbekistan aim to increase trade cooperation. Bilateral trade turnover doubled last year to $66 million; Uzbek firms currently owe their Lithuanian counterparts $6 million. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS CRITICIZES KYRGYZ PRESIDENT.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed "grave concern about reports of increasing harassment of the independent press in Kyrgyzstan" in a letter sent to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, RFE/RL reported on 20 February. The letter criticized the Justice Ministry's decision to shut down the newspaper Kriminal and the legal action threatened against Ryspek Omurzakov -- a reporter who was earlier given a suspended sentence for insulting the president -- for his coverage of opposition figure Topchubek Turgunaliev's trial. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] SFOR ATTACKED IN MOSTAR, BOSNIA.

    An armored vehicle of the NATO-led Stabilization Force was hit by a tank rocket on 21 February on the former front line in the divided southern city of Mostar, AFP reported. No one was injured. According to a spokesman, the rocket came "from the western [Croat-held] side of the river." Meanwhile, SFOR has withdrawn the accreditation of a UNHCR official in Mostar, Jacques Franquin, who had said that SFOR troops were "useless" during the Muslim- Croat clash in Mostar on 10 February that resulted in one dead and over 30 wounded. Franquin was declared persona non grata for his comments, described as a "personal and individual assessment," AFP reported on 19 February. In other news, UN human rights envoy Elisabeth Rehn visited Mostar on 20 February and called for the resignation of those responsible for the recent violent incident. Rehn called on the Croatian government to exert pressure on Bosnian Croats to respect human rights in Herzegovina. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [06] BOSNIA FAILS TO AGREE ON COMMON ECONOMIC RULES.

    The Bosnian Council of Ministers on 20 February failed to adopt a quick- start package of draft laws because of differing opinions of the two Bosnian entities composing the council, Onasa reported. One of the council's two co-chairmen, Haris Silajdzic, a Muslim, said the officials discussed draft laws on privatization, property restitution, and ownership relations and agreed on rules of procedure. While Silajdzic says that such laws are the responsibility of Bosnia and the Council of Ministers, the Serbian co-chairman, Boro Bosic, says they are the responsibility of the respective entities. The council also discussed an unpaid gas bill of the Republika Srpska, for which the Russian gas supplier GazExport threatens to cut off gas supplies to Bosnia. Bosic said the Republika Srpska will pay its part of the debt. GazExport will significantly reduce gas deliveries to Bosnia starting 24 February, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [07] SERBIAN UPDATE.

    Zoran Djindjic, head of the Democratic Party and a leader of the opposition Zajedno coalition, is to become Belgrade's first non-communist mayor in 52 years on 21 February, local independent media reported. Djindjic said reform of the state-run electronic media, controlled by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, is his priority. "Starting March 9, we will demonstrate daily in front of the [state-run] television," he said. In unrelated news, Vladan Kovacevic (also known as Vlada Tref), a 39-year-old business partner of Milosevic's son Marko, was gunned down in a hotel parking lot on 20 February. -- Stan Markotich

    [08] MACEDONIAN STUDENTS CONTINUE PROTESTS AGAINST ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE TUITION.

    Several thousand ethnic Macedonian students on 20 February continued their protest against a new law introducing lessons in Albanian at the teacher- training faculty (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 February 1997), AFP reported. It was the fourth consecutive day of protest against the law. The protesters called for the resignation of Education Minister Sofija Todorova. Despite the protests, the teacher-training faculty at Skopje university went ahead with lessons in Albanian and said it was recruiting teachers. -- Stefan Krause

    [09] INFLATION REACHES NEW RECORD IN ROMANIA.

    The monthly inflation rate rose to a record 13.7% in January, Romanian and Western media reported. The surge follows recent steps taken by the government to deregulate currency rates and prices and eliminate subsidies for energy and staples. The measures are part of a shock therapy program aimed at healing the ailing Romanian economy. Radio Bucharest quoted Romanian National Bank Director Mugur Isarescu as saying that the annual inflation rate for 1997 would be 90%, less than a 97% forecast made by Premier Victor Ciorbea. -- Dan Ionescu

    [10] FRENCH PRESIDENT ON ROMANIA AND NATO.

    In an interview with the Bucharest daily Adevarul published on 20 February, Jacques Chirac said he tried to gather support for Romania's application to join NATO during recent talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He praised Romania's democratic change of power of last November and the "historic accord" with Hungary signed last September. Chirac said that Romania is "very important [for NATO], especially for the southern flank" and that France will spare no efforts to convince its NATO allies that Romania must be part of the first wave of enlargement. The French president is expected today in Bucharest for a two-day visit. -- Zsolt Mato

    [11] ROMANIAN PRISONERS' PROTEST SPREADS TO NINE CITIES.

    The protest of Romanian inmates against poor living conditions, started on 17 February in Bucharest, has spread to nine cities across the country, Libertatea reported on 21 February. While most of the protesters are peacefully hunger striking, in some prisons the inmates have become violent, setting fire to their prisons. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 20 February) -- Zsolt Mato

    [12] ROMANIA'S CURRENT, FORMER PRESIDENTS DUEL OVER PRIVILEGES.

    Former President Ion Iliescu rejected a proposal by current President Emil Constantinescu that the parliament passes a law granting Iliescu a flat, a car, and a team of bodyguards. He described the offer as "hypocritical" since, he said, it came after a series of political attacks on him. Iliescu added that he wanted a "public apology" instead of "acts of reparation" and stressed that he already owns a flat, which he bought while still president. The prime minister's control office, however, recently denounced as "illegal" Iliescu's purchase of an apartment that had been nationalized by the Communists in the 1950s. -- Dan Ionescu

    [13] NEW PARTY SET UP IN MOLDOVA.

    Some 400 delegates in Chisinau on 19 February set up a new party, BASA- press reported. The new formation, the United Labor Party of Moldova (PUMM), defines itself as a centrist party in quest of a "third way," distinct from capitalism and socialism. PUMM leader Andrei Safonov, a leading political scientist in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, said his organization will favor market economy reforms while promoting a high level of social protection. -- Dan Ionescu

    [14] BULGARIA'S EMPLOYMENT, FOOD, ENERGY WOES DEEPEN.

    Unemployment in Bulgaria reached 13.4% in January, the highest level since July 1994, Pari reported on 21 February. Observers fear that unemployment may double this year after a currency board is introduced. Meanwhile, the country's bread shortage has worsened, with Sofia having only enough flour for 5-6 days; caretaker Premier Stefan Sofiyanski said wheat will be taken from the state's reserves to fill the gap. Bulgargas has stopped supplying Russian gas to 63 industrial plants that did not pay their bills for January and February. The current price covers only one-third of the cost of the gas, for which the Russians now demand full advance payment in hard currency. Finally, the interim cabinet on 20 February set up a Structural Reform Council to negotiate with the IMF and World Bank on industrial reforms. -- Michael Wyzan

    [15] BULGARIAN INTERIM PREMIER ON NUCLEAR PLANT.

    Stefan Sofiyanski on 20 February said the controversial Kozloduy nuclear power plant should not be shut down, RFE/RL reported. Sofiyanski reacted to a statement by Energy Minister Georgi Stoilov the previous day that Kozloduy is highly dangerous and the risk from it is "above the socially acceptable limits." Sofiyanski refused to comment on the reactor's security and said he has not discussed the issue with Stoilov. Kozloduy's director, Kiril Nikolov, called the plant "absolutely safe." In other news, former Tsar Simeon II sent a letter to royalist organizations saying he will publicly distance himself from them if they fail to unite before the April elections, 24 chasa reported. Various monarchist organizations will meet in Varna on 22 February to decide on a joint electoral list, separate from the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces. -- Stefan Krause

    [16] MORE VIOLENCE IN ALBANIA.

    As protests against the government of President Sali Berisha, triggered by the collapse of a series of pyramid schemes, continued into a sixth week in Tirana, violence once again surfaced. Riot forces prevented some 1,000 supporters of the opposition from marching to the central part of the capital, Reuters reported. Marchers hurled stones at the police, who retaliated with shots into the air. Meanwhile, some senior members of the Democratic Party on 20 February urged the government to resign, AFP reported. -- Stan Markotich

    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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