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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 39, 97-02-25

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 39, 25 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY ADMITS NUKES WERE DEPLOYED IN GEORGIA.
  • [02] RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN ABKHAZIA.
  • [03] GEORGIAN CONDUIT TO TURKEY.
  • [04] MOUSIN TO BE EXTRADITED, ROTAR DENIED ACCREDITATION.
  • [05] TYPHOID EPIDEMIC UPDATE.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] ALBANIAN RULING PARTY ADMITS LINK TO PYRAMIDS.
  • [07] ALBANIAN STUDENT PROTESTS TO EXPAND?
  • [08] NEW BELGRADE CITY COUNCIL MAKES MEDIA APPOINTMENTS.
  • [09] EUROPEAN LEGISLATOR BLASTS "MEDIEVAL TORTURE" IN KOSOVO.
  • [10] IS MILOSEVIC LOOKING TO BOSNIA?
  • [11] NATO REMOVES ROADBLOCKS, CONFISCATES WEAPONS FROM CROATS IN MOSTAR.
  • [12] BOSNIAN SERB GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA TO BE PAID FROM INTERNATIONAL DONATIONS?
  • [13] MACEDONIAN STUDENTS KEEP UP PROTEST AGAINST ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION.
  • [14] PRISONERS' HUNGER STRIKE ENDS IN ROMANIA.
  • [15] ROMANIA'S EXILED KING PLEDGES TO RESPECT CONSTITUTION.
  • [16] NEW COMMUNIST PARTY IN MOLDOVA.
  • [17] DISUNITY AMONG BULGARIA'S UNITED DEMOCRATIC FORCES?
  • [18] IMF MISSION ARRIVES IN SOFIA.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY ADMITS NUKES WERE DEPLOYED IN GEORGIA.

    The deputy chief of staff of the Georgian armed forces, Tengiz Razmadze, has admitted that "tactical, medium-range" rockets with nuclear warheads were stored at the Soviet military base at Vaziani, near Tbilisi, NTV reported on 24 February. The warheads were reportedly removed in 1989, after the political disturbances in April of that year. Formerly, Russian and Georgian officials had claimed there had never been nuclear weapons stationed in Georgia. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN ABKHAZIA.

    A Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman on 24 February condemned the deaths on 22 February of three Russian peacekeeping soldiers in Abkhazia, who were killed when their vehicle hit a mine, Reuters reported. The commander of the Russian force, Maj.-Gen. Dorii Babenkov, and an Abkhaz Defense Ministry spokesman blamed the incident on the Georgian "White Legion," which they claim is subordinate to the Georgian security service. The legion is a Georgian guerrilla formation seeking to restore Georgian hegemony over Abkhazia. Meeting on 24 February with the deputy head of the UN military mission in Georgia, Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Burduli reaffirmed his government's commitment to seeking a peaceful solution to the standoff between Tbilisi and the separatist regime in Sukhumi, according to ITAR- TASS. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] GEORGIAN CONDUIT TO TURKEY.

    During a recent joint economic session held in Tbilisi, Georgia and Turkey reached a pipeline and power deal according to a 23 February Interfax report monitored by the BBC. Under the deal, Turkey will receive Russian gas via Georgia once an existing pipeline is refurbished and extended 30 km to the Turkish border. The pipeline is to initially carry 3 billion cubic meters annually, subsequently rising to 9 billion cubic meters. Georgia is planning to generate electricity from Turkmen gas for subsequent transmission to Turkey. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] MOUSIN TO BE EXTRADITED, ROTAR DENIED ACCREDITATION.

    Recently detained in Moscow by Russian law enforcement officials, Albert Mousin, a freelance reporter working for RFE/RL, Komsomolskaya pravda, and Ekho Moskvy, is to be extradited to Uzbekistan, Radio Rossii reported on 24 February. The same day, RFE/RL reported that Russia's branch of the PEN club has called for the 44-year-old human rights advocate and reporter to be released. They claim that Mousin is a citizen of Kazakstan, not Uzbekistan, and that it is "not the first time" Russian law enforcement agencies are helping Central Asian and Transcaucasian governments "settle scores" with their political opponents. Meanwhile, the Tajik authorities have denied accreditation to Nezavisimaya gazeta reporter Igor Rotar on the grounds he has been "unscrupulous and biased" in his reporting on certain events that took place in Tajikistan, according to a 21 February Nezavisimaya gazeta monitored by the BBC. Nezavisimaya gazeta has expressed bewilderment at the decision. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [05] TYPHOID EPIDEMIC UPDATE.

    The typhoid fever epidemic in Tajikistan has spread beyond Dushanbe to Kulyab and Tursun Zade, Reuters reported on 21 February. The Tajik authorities have closed down schools in Dushanbe in an effort to stem the epidemic which is believed to be infecting between 150-200 people every day. An estimated 4,000 people have fallen ill to date. Aid workers say the city's water supply, which has not been chlorinated in three months, is "a million times worse" than World Health Organization standards and citizens cannot afford fuel to boil their water. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] ALBANIAN RULING PARTY ADMITS LINK TO PYRAMIDS.

    Blerim Celia, who heads an interministerial committee, said on 24 February that the governing Democratic Party (PD) received $50,000 from the now collapsed Gjallica investment scheme. He did not say when the contribution was made, but he added that Gjallica also spent $867,000 on last October's Miss World pageant, AFP reported. The opposition and the British daily The Independent have charged that there is a cozy relationship between the PD, the pyramid schemes, and organized crime. The PD and the government have denied the accusations. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry on 24 February repudiated charges that losses to citizens from collapsed pyramids total $2 billion. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] ALBANIAN STUDENT PROTESTS TO EXPAND?

    Some 5,000 students rallied again in Vlora on 24 February to demand the resignation of the government. A group of 55 students are continuing their hunger strike, but doctors have urged them to call it off because of their worsening health condition. A female student was taken unconscious to a local hospital the previous evening. Meanwhile, other citizens on 24 February joined in the street demonstrations, which have been taking place regularly for some three weeks. The police and the central authorities appear to have given the town over to the protesters. And in Tirana and Gjirokaster, students called for a boycott of classes, saying they might launch hunger strikes of their own, international news agencies wrote. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] NEW BELGRADE CITY COUNCIL MAKES MEDIA APPOINTMENTS.

    The opposition Zajedno city council in Belgrade has moved to put its own stamp on the local broadcasting media, international media reported on 25 February. A new director and a new editor-in-chief have been appointed to head the influential Studio B. Both new appointees--Zoran Ostojic and Lila Radonjic--are independent journalists who worked at the station before Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic came to power. Studio B was the city's only independent television station until the authorities took it over in February 1995. Meanwhile, new Serbian Information Minister Radmila Milentijevic told a Washington press conference on 24 February that Milosevic's regime is intent on making democratic reforms in the broadcasting media, Reuters and Nasa Borba reported. -- Stan Markotich

    [09] EUROPEAN LEGISLATOR BLASTS "MEDIEVAL TORTURE" IN KOSOVO.

    Doris Pack, a German member of the European Parliament, has seen the body of an ethnic Albanian who died on 22 February in police custody, AFP reported on 25 February. She said: "It's unbelievable that at the end of this century in Europe, we have medieval-style torture in Kosovo." The Serbian police claimed Besnik Restelica committed suicide after confessing to terrorist activities, Onasa reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 February 1997). But the leading Kosovar Albanian political party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, charged that he "died a violent death, arguably of torture at the hands of Serb security." The statement added that he is the sixth Albanian to die because of the police this year. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] IS MILOSEVIC LOOKING TO BOSNIA?

    The Serbian president met with Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the three-man Bosnian joint presidency, Oslobodjenje reported on 25 February. It was Krajisnik's first trip to Belgrade in five months. "Strengthening ties" between Serbia and the Republika Srpska topped the agenda. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the founding meeting took place of the Council for Strategic Activities of the Serbian Civic Council (SGV). The SGV represents anti- nationalist Serbs who remained loyal to the government of Bosnia- Herzegovina throughout the war and who are often called "the forgotten Serbs." The new body's first task is to draft an amendment to the constitution of the otherwise Croat-Muslim Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina giving the Serbs equal legal status as a people. -- Patrick Moore

    [11] NATO REMOVES ROADBLOCKS, CONFISCATES WEAPONS FROM CROATS IN MOSTAR.

    NATO troops have removed illegal roadblocks set up by local Croats in the Herzegovinian city and have also confiscated some weapons, AFP reported on 24 February. The operation followed two recent attacks against SFOR troops (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 and 24 February 1997). Also on 24 February, NATO issued a warning that its units in Mostar will not hesitate to use weapons against those trying to attack the SFOR contingent. Meanwhile, UN police have handed over a report on the violent clashes that took place in Mostar earlier this month to the five major international organizations supervising the implementation of the Dayton peace accords. They did not, however, submit a copy to the Bosnian authorities. The report is believed to recommend the prosecution of those responsible for the violence, which left one dead and more than 30 wounded. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] BOSNIAN SERB GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA TO BE PAID FROM INTERNATIONAL DONATIONS?

    Top Bosnian Federation officials on 24 February agreed to propose to the Council of Ministers that Bosnia's $12.3 million gas debt to Russia be paid from international donations to the Bosnian Serb entity, the Republika Srpska, which has accrued that debt, Onasa reported. They stressed that the Sarajevo canton has paid its gas debt to Russia but that the Serbs have not attended any meeting over the issue because they want to negotiate with the Russians on their own. Russia, for its part, cut gas supplies to Bosnia by 25 percent the same day, local and international media reported. Meanwhile, Haris Silajdzic, Bosnia's Muslim co-prime minister, complained that separate privatization laws in the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska may finally divide the country, Reuters reported. Silajdzic said the Bosnian-Herzegovinian state--not its two entities--should inherit the assets of Yugoslavia's former republic and regulate privatization. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [13] MACEDONIAN STUDENTS KEEP UP PROTEST AGAINST ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION.

    Students in Skopje again took to the streets in a series of protests that began last week. Students in Bitola and Tetovo, which has a large ethnic Albanian population, joined in solidarity protests, AFP wrote. Their goal is the abolition of a new law permitting Albanian-language instruction at Skopje University's teachers' college and the resignation of Minister of Education Sofija Todorova. The new law was considered a compromise between the demands of the Albanians for university-level instruction in their mother tongue, and the constitutional provision that guarantees minority- language teaching only in elementary and secondary schools. Ethnic Albanians make up at least 20% of the republic's population. -- Patrick Moore

    [14] PRISONERS' HUNGER STRIKE ENDS IN ROMANIA.

    Thousands of Romanian prisoners have ended a six-day hunger strike, international media reported on 24 February. The strike began last week in Bucharest in protest at poor living conditions and harsh penal laws. It quickly spread to almost half of the country's prisons. Judicial authorities found most of the prisoners' demands justified and have promised to take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. -- Zsolt Mato

    [15] ROMANIA'S EXILED KING PLEDGES TO RESPECT CONSTITUTION.

    King Mihai told Romanians in a live Radio Bucharest broadcast on 24 February that he will not raise at present "any constitutional or property issues." The exiled monarch is due to start a six-day visit to Romania at the end of this week. Mihai thanked President Emil Constantinescu, the government, the parliament, and intellectuals for their help in recently restoring his Romanian citizenship. His statements put an end to speculation by former President Ion Iliescu and his leftist Party of Social Democracy in Romania that Mihai wants back both his throne and his property in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu

    [16] NEW COMMUNIST PARTY IN MOLDOVA.

    Hard-liners within the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (CPRM) have decided to set up a new party called the Communist Party of Moldova, Infotag reported on 24 February. The split, which took place two days earlier, was described by CPRM leader Vladimir Voronin as "natural." Voronin added that his party would become stronger following the defection of "chameleons and renegades." The CPRM's presidential candidate won some 10% of the vote in the November 1996 elections. Some 60 delegates attended the constituent conference of the new communist party. -- Dan Ionescu

    [17] DISUNITY AMONG BULGARIA'S UNITED DEMOCRATIC FORCES?

    The United Democratic Forces (ODS), which forced the Socialists to give up power following the recent street demonstrations, is now experiencing internal tensions in the run-up to the 19 April parliamentary elections, the Bulgarian press reported on 22 and 25 February. Discord has resulted over how to draw up deputies' lists. The ODS's largest member, the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), insists on primary elections so that the best candidates can be selected at the local level. But the People's Union rejects this proposal, fearing that the SDS's candidates would win against its own. By itself, the union currently has only a small chance of crossing the 4% voter threshold for parliamentary representation. The ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom--the third member of the ODS--has so far not taken a stance over the issue. Its candidates are almost certain to win in regions with a mixed population. -- Maria Koinova

    [18] IMF MISSION ARRIVES IN SOFIA.

    An IMF mission arrived in Sofia on 24 January to discuss measures to halt Bulgaria's economic collapse, Bulgarian media reported. Mission leader Anne McGuirk came from Brussels, where a meeting of representatives of the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, and the EBRD agreed to set up a consultative group to coordinate international donor efforts but to disburse aid only after Bulgaria reaches an agreement with the IMF. Greece appealed to EU foreign ministers to assist Bulgaria, Albania, and Serbia by immediately providing grain, food, and medicine. McGuirk expressed support for measures taken to date by the interim government. She also noted the IMF's willingness to negotiate with the cabinet but did not say whether the IMF would sign an agreement with it. Meanwhile, the government has raised the minimum wage to 17,600 leva ($8), raised pensions by 10,000 leva, and increased most social payments by 60%. -- Michael Wyzan

    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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