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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 40, 97-02-26

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 40, 26 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GEORGIA CRITICIZED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.
  • [02] UN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REACTION TO ABKHAZ TERRORIST INCIDENT.
  • [03] ISLAMISTS GO ON TRIAL IN BAKU.
  • [04] RUSSIA, CENTRAL ASIA AND AFGHANISTAN.
  • [05] CLASHES IN TAJIKISTAN.
  • [06] KYRGYZ POLITICIAN RELEASED.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] U.S., EU EXPRESS CONCERN OVER DEVELOPMENTS IN ALBANIA.
  • [08] MORE CLASHES IN TIRANA.
  • [09] SERBIAN UPDATE.
  • [10] SERBIAN STATE MEDIA RENEW ATTACK AGAINST MONTENEGRIN PREMIER.
  • [11] HAGUE COURT STEPS UP PRESSURE IN BLASKIC CASE.
  • [12] ZAGREB, BELGRADE TO WORK TOGETHER ON MISSING PERSONS.
  • [13] UN HOLDS CROATIAN POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR MOSTAR VIOLENCE.
  • [14] ZAGREB SUBMITS FINAL LIST OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS.
  • [15] MACEDONIAN PRIVATIZATION DISPUTE RESULTS IN BRAWL.
  • [16] ROMANIAN PREMIER ON IMPACT OF ECONOMIC REFORM.
  • [17] BULGARIAN ROUNDUP.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GEORGIA CRITICIZED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.

    A report compiled by the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation criticizes human rights violations in Georgia in 1995-6, including torture of political prisoners and the imprisonment of 80 supporters of former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, according to AFP of 24 February. Fifty people were sentenced to death, some on charges of treason, before President Eduard Shevardnadze imposed a moratorium on executions and the parliament voted to reduce the number of crimes incurring capital punishment in December 1996. An Amnesty International report released in October 1996 was similarly critical of the use of torture in Georgian prisons and lack of impartiality during court proceedings. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] UN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REACTION TO ABKHAZ TERRORIST INCIDENT.

    The UN Security Council on 25 February condemned a series of recent guerrilla attacks on CIS peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia and called on both parties to the conflict to ensure their future safety, Reuters and ITAR- TASS reported. Also on 25 February, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Andreyev condemned the most recent incident on 22 February in which three peacekeepers were killed. The presidents of Abkhazia and Georgia, Vladislav Ardzinba and Eduard Shevardnadze, have both announced the suspension of bilateral talks on the future status of Abkhazia vis-a- vis the central government in Tbilisi because of the alleged intransigence of the opposing side, according to Georgian media reports monitored by the BBC. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] ISLAMISTS GO ON TRIAL IN BAKU.

    The trial opened belatedly in Baku on 25 February of four of the 10 members of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan arrested in May 1996, ITAR-TASS reported. The four men, including party leader Ali Akram Aliev, are charged with collaborating with the Iranian intelligence service. The Islamic Party was originally founded and registered in 1992 but failed to secure reregistration in August 1995 in the run-up to the Azerbaijani parliamentary elections. It has an estimated 50,000 members, according to ITAR-TASS, and it is reportedly financed by Tehran. -- Liz Fuller

    [04] RUSSIA, CENTRAL ASIA AND AFGHANISTAN.

    Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and his counterparts from Central Asian countries except Turkmenistan held closed-door talks in Tashkent on 25 February to discuss what Russian media termed the "deteriorating" politico-military situation in Afghanistan. The meeting, originally scheduled for March, was brought forward at the request of Uzbek President Aslam Karimov, who held talks with Rodionov the day before the official delegations met. Several plans were reportedly discussed, including the possible creation of two joint motorized divisions to protect the CIS- Afghan border in the event that the Taliban overwhelm Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum's forces. Rodionov said he was "very satisified" with the talks and claimed all sides believe the conflict in Afghanistan is moving "beyond an intra-state struggle." The same day the London Times reported that Moscow is supplying arms to northern Afghanistan to be used against the Taliban. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [05] CLASHES IN TAJIKISTAN.

    An estimated 25 people have been killed in clashes in Kofarnikhon district in the last week, according to 25 February Russian media reports monitored by the BBC. The clashes pit a group loyal to the brothers Rezvon and Bakhrom Sadirov against a group, led by Kasim Ismatov, loyal to the United Tajik Opposition. The latter asked permission from Tajik President Immomali Rakhmonov, opposition leader Sayid Abdullo Nuri, and the UN mission in the country, to annihilate the opposing group. No reaction to this request was reported. Aside from their involvement in two hostage-taking incidents since last December, the pro-opposition turned pro-government turned independent Sadirov brothers and their companions are widely believed to be an anti-opposition strike force given a free rein to operate in Tajikistan as well as Afghanistan by Moscow and Dushanbe. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [06] KYRGYZ POLITICIAN RELEASED.

    The chairman of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan Party, Topchubek Turgunaliev, was released from custody in Bishkek on 25 February, RFE-RL reported. Accused of abuse of power, embezzlement, and forgery, he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment before the republic's Supreme Court overturned the second two charges and reduced the sentence on 18 February. Turgunaliev must reside in Bishkek and report to the authorities on a monthly basis; when two-thirds of his term is completed, it could be suspended. -- Naryn Idinov

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] U.S., EU EXPRESS CONCERN OVER DEVELOPMENTS IN ALBANIA.

    The State Department on 25 February said it is "deeply concerned" about recent developments in Albania, AFP reported. It also urged local leaders to call for an end to the violence and to "respect the right of their citizens to demonstrate peacefully." The U.S. is "deeply troubled by reports of beatings and other acts of intimidation," the statement stressed. In Brussels, the EU foreign ministers backed moves by the European Commission to give money and technical assistance to Albania through its PHARE program, Reuters reported. Aid would be targeted at agriculture, small and medium-sized businesses, and local communities. Technical assistance would also be offered to Albania's banking sector. But the ministers made clear they expected Albania to abide by democratic principles. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [08] MORE CLASHES IN TIRANA.

    Men claiming to be students broke up an anti-government sit-in at Tirana University on 25 February, attacking students and journalists, local media reported. Pro-government student union leader Shkelzer Margjeka was reported to be among the men who broke up the gathering. The head of the Tirana Engineering School said at least 90% of students stayed away from classes that day. Meanwhile, 48 students in Vlora continued the hunger strike they began last week. They have been joined by striking students in Fier, Gjirokastr, and Shkoder. In Berat, President Sali Berisha, addressing some 1,000 invited supporters, dismissed the student's demands as illegal. The Democratic Party has said it will return a $50,000 donation received from the Gjallica pyramid company last year before the election campaign. Meanwhile, Albania's premier soccer team, Flamurtari, has pledged to continue its boycott of matches in support of the protests. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [09] SERBIAN UPDATE.

    Thousands of students continued their protest in Belgrade on 25 February, calling for increased reforms and the dismissal of the pro-regime rector of Belgrade University, local independent media reported. Teachers also kept up their strike action to demand increased pay, while doctors staged a one- hour warning strike in support of their demand for improved wage packages. In other news, Reuters reported that the newly appointed Zajedno members of Belgrade's Municipal Assembly traveled to Spain on 25 February to launch an appeal for funds to rebuild Belgrade's infrastructure, which, they say, is in ruins because of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's policies. -- Stan Markotich

    [10] SERBIAN STATE MEDIA RENEW ATTACK AGAINST MONTENEGRIN PREMIER.

    Serbia state-run television and most state-controlled dailies have made more barbs against Milo Djukanovic, accusing him of "arrogance" and involvement in conspiracies to destabilize the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This is the second verbal attack agains the Montenegrin premier within a week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 February 1997). Djukanovic is among those leaders seeking to undermine Milosevic's authority and break up Montenegro's political union with Serbia. Meanwhile, prominent members of Montenegro's literary circles have signed a letter to Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic appealing to the Montenegrin authorities to put a stop to Milosevic's "dictatorship." The letter--signed by the head of Montenegro's PEN club, Jakov Mrvaljevic--appears in today's issue of Nasa Borba. -- Stan Markotich

    [11] HAGUE COURT STEPS UP PRESSURE IN BLASKIC CASE.

    The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is continuing efforts to obtain information in the case against Gen. Tihomir Blaskic, who has served with the armies of both Croatia and the Bosnian Croats. The court expects current Bosnian Defense Minister Ante Jelavic, a Croat, to appear on 28 February to present documents as promised by the Sarajevo government, AFP wrote on 25 February. The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour, will also meet with Croatian officials in Zagreb to obtain yet more information. Blaskic agreed in a deal to come to The Hague, where he is being tried for a series of war crimes in 1993 and early 1994 against Muslims, primarily in the Lasva valley area. -- Patrick Moore.

    [12] ZAGREB, BELGRADE TO WORK TOGETHER ON MISSING PERSONS.

    The governments of Croatia and federal Yugoslavia agreed in principle on 25 February to speed up work in investigating the fate of some 2,400 Croats and 3,000 Serbs missing since the 1991 war. The Croatian Foreign Ministry released the statement, adding that the head of the Croatian commission for missing persons, Ivan Grujic, and his federal Yugoslav counterpart, Pavle Todorovic, will meet again on 6 March. The fate of the missing remains an emotionally charged issue across the former Yugoslavia. Although it is widely assumed that most of the persons in question are now dead, both sides are demanding the clarification of each case. Meanwhile, the UN has published a report saying that there are 25,000 missing in all across the former Yugoslavia and blaming the Belgrade government and NATO peacekeepers for the lack of progress in clearing up these cases. -- Patrick Moore

    [13] UN HOLDS CROATIAN POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR MOSTAR VIOLENCE.

    The UN police has said that Bosnian Croat policemen were responsible for the shooting of Muslims in the Croat-held part of Mostar during Muslim- Croat clashes there on 10 February, which left one dead and 34 wounded, international media reported on 26 February. The report said at least two West Mostar police officers in plain clothes were photographed firing into the Muslim crowd, including the Croatian police deputy chief. Michael Steiner, deputy High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, called on top Bosnian officials to dismiss, arrest, and put on trial criminals identified by the report. Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian Muslim member of the presidency, has accepted Steiner's request unconditionally. But the Croatian member, Kresimir Zubak, said his acceptance was conditional on the submission of further reports about violence after the 10 February incident. But Steiner said this is unacceptable. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department called on the Bosnian Federation authorities to bring to justice those singled out by the UN report. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [14] ZAGREB SUBMITS FINAL LIST OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS.

    Croatian Deputy Premier Ivica Kostovic on 25 February said Zagreb has submitted to the UN a list of suspected war criminals in the 1991 Serbian- Croatian war, Vjesnik reported the next day. The list was not made public. According to Kostovic, it contains the names of between 140 and 170 people who lived in eastern Slavonia in 1991 and who are currently resident in the area. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [15] MACEDONIAN PRIVATIZATION DISPUTE RESULTS IN BRAWL.

    Four people were injured and 14 arrested in a fistfight in Skopje on 24 February after Ivan Dicev, ousted director of the Pelagonija construction company, and 30 "bodyguards" forced their way into the company's premises, Macedonian media reported. The police restored order and arrested Dicev and his entourage. Workers were on strike from mid-December 1996 until early February to protest massive layoffs, wage and social-benefit arrears, alleged criminal offenses, and the method used to privatize the company. The workers' strike committee decided last month to suspend Dicev and the board of directors and to appoint a new management. During the strike, Dicev claimed he had signed a $400 million deal with Albania's Vefa Holding, a suspected pyramid scheme. -- Michael Wyzan

    [16] ROMANIAN PREMIER ON IMPACT OF ECONOMIC REFORM.

    Victor Ciorbea on 25 February said during a two-hour live broadcast on Radio Bucharest that Romania needed strict economic reform to avoid the kind of economic collapse experienced by neighboring Bulgaria and to make up for the time wasted by the former leftist administration. Ciorbea remained confident that the first positive effects of his cabinet's austerity and reform program would be felt later this year if the program were implemented in full. Meanwhile, former President Ion Iliescu told Cronica romana on 26 February that the current cabinet's package of economic and social reforms was a "big hoax." -- Dan Ionescu

    [17] BULGARIAN ROUNDUP.

    IMF representative to Bulgaria Anne McGuirk, at the start of two-week negotiations with the interim government to conclude a fifth stand-by loan agreement, confirmed that she would like to work with the cabinet but was not certain if the IMF could sign an accord with it, local media reported on 26 February. Nonetheless, at a meeting with President Petar Stoyanov, McGuirk said she is impressed by the willingness of the new cabinet to introduce tough reforms. Meanwhile, Bulgaria's leading trade unions on 25 February signed an agreement with the interim government and the Chamber of Commerce on protecting incomes and imposing a moratorium on strikes, RFE/RL reported. The unions have agreed not to make unrealistic wage demands and to support the government during the transitional period of structural reform. Caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyansky described the agreement as an "extremely important [demonstration of] support." -- Maria Koinova

    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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