Science and art have that in common that everyday things seem to them new and attractive. - Friedrich Nietzsche
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 9, 12 January 1995

We welcome you to the Open Media Research
Institute's Daily Digest--a compilation of news
concerning the former Soviet Union and East-
Central and Southeastern Europe. The Daily Digest
picks up where the RFE/RL Daily Report, which
recently ceased publication, left off.
Contributors include OMRI's 30-member staff of
analysts, plus selected freelance specialists.
OMRI is a unique public-private venture between
the Open Society Institute and the U.S. Board for
International Broadcasting.

RUSSIA

KOVALEV SAYS "CHECHNYA TRUCE FAILED." Interfax on 11
January quoted the Russian government's press service as
reporting that the situation in Grozny remained tense, with
fighting for control of the presidential palace continuing
and small groups of pro-Dudaev forces still subjecting
Russian troops to sniper fire. AFP reported on 12 January
that Russian artillery bombardment of central Grozny
resumed at 8 a.m. local time on expiry of the 48-hour
cease-fire. Russian Human Rights Commissioner Sergei
Kovalev expressed regret to Interfax that the truce had
failed and laid the blame on leading generals, who, he
claimed, were opposed to talks "because they do not want
anyone to count the number of dead bodies." At a press
conference in Moscow on 11 January, State Duma deputy
Aivars Lezdynsh, who returned from Grozny the previous day,
similarly told Interfax that the number of Russian
servicemen killed had been considerably understated and
that "the generals continue the bloodshed for the sole
reason that they have to cover up the traces of their
crimes." Also on 11 January, Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev surfaced to hold a press conference in Grozny and
affirmed that the ongoing conflict could be resolved "in
one day, in one hour" by means of government-level
negotiations, Reuters and Knight-Ridder Newspapers report
on 12 January.  A close associate of Dudaev told Reuters in
The Hague on 11 January that Chechnya would consider
retracting its demand for full independence and agree to
"an economic, monetary and security confederation" with
Russia. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

INTERNATIONAL REACTION. Austrian Foreign Minister Alois
Mock said on 11 January that although Austria recognized
that Chechnya was an integral part of Russia, it is ready
to support economic sanctions against Moscow in retaliation
for human rights violations in Chechnya, AFP reported. In
Paris, the president of Socialist International, former
French Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, condemned Russia's use
of force in Chechnya and affirmed support for the Hungarian
proposal to send an OSCE delegation to assess the human
rights situation there. The Turkish parliament issued a
statement on 11 January condemning "atrocities" in Chechnya
and calling on other parliaments to "contribute to a just,
durable, and honorable solution based on respect for human
rights." It also requested that the OSCE and the UN
expedite a cease-fire. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN TAKES CONTROL OF MILITARY? Russian President
Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
Federation Council chairman Vladimir Shumeiko, and State
Duma chairman Ivan Rybkin, meeting in Moscow on 11 January,
discussed the possibility of detaching the Russian Army
General Staff from the Defense Ministry, subordinating it
directly to Yeltsin, and limiting the role of the Defense
Ministry to improving the combat readiness of the armed
forces, AFP reported on 12 January. Chief of General Staff
General Mikhail Kolesnikov said he was totally surprised by
the idea. He did feel, however, that the General Staff
needed to play a larger role in essential security
decisions and thought its chief should be a member of the
National Security Council. -- Liz Fuller and Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN LEADERS DISCUSS CHECHNYA. At the same
meeting, Chernomyrdin briefed the group on steps taken
during the lull in the fighting and on initial contacts
with Chechen elders and clan representatives taking part in
negotiations. Earlier, in a meeting with leaders of the
North Caucasian republics and territories surrounding
Chechnya, Chernomyrdin reported that the Security Council
had adopted a resolution directing the federal authorities
and the regions surrounding Chechnya to take steps to
restore the Chechen economy. He asked each region to
designate a leader to coordinate those activities, with
First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets supervising from
Moscow. Chernomyrdin stressed that "there should be no
delays in this process" and that it was necessary to set up
an administration in Chechnya "with which it was possible
to work." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA FAILS TO ADOPT RESOLUTION ON CHECHEN CRISIS.
At its extraordinary session on 11 January, the State Duma
postponed adopting a resolution on the Chechen crisis until
its next session. The liberal faction Russia's Choice, led
by former acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, had called the
session in order to submit a bill banning the use of the
military inside Russia, which failed to gain the necessary
majority vote. Three democratic factions--Russia's Choice,
Grigorii Yavlinsky's Yabloko, and the Democratic Party of
Russia, currently chaired by Sergei Glazev, the opposition
spokesman on economic affairs--opposed the war, along with
the Communists. The Agrarian Party, the former ally of the
Communists, joined the ultranationalist factions--Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party and Sergei Baburin's
Russian Path--in supporting the use of force against
Chechnya, as did two progovernment factions, Sergei
Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord and Vladimir
Medvedev's New National Policy group. Former Finance
Minister Boris Fedorov, who has supported in principle the
use of force against Chechnya, said he was disappointed by
the way it had been implemented. He demanded a vote of no
confidence in the government. Among Yeltsin's new allies
was Aleksandr Nevzorov, the hard-line TV director, whose
show "600 Seconds" was banned by a Yeltsin decree in
October 1993 for its ultranationalist content and
incitement to violence. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

EGOROV ON CHECHEN CRISIS. In an interview with "Vremya"
on 10 January, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Egorov
said opponents of the Russian army's actions in Chechnya--
namely, former acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar; his
minister for social issues, Ella Panfilova; and Human
Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev, who has spent three
weeks in the beseiged Chechen capital--all have vested
interests in siding with the Chechens because of the
republic's oil industry. Egorov, Russian President Boris
Yeltsin's representative in the North Caucasus, added that
those people "risk nothing" while the Chechen "gangsters"
might avenge themselves on the families of Russian
officials. Egorov dismissed as insignificant the Russian
bombing of a Grozny orphanage, saying the Chechens had
raped children and their teacher at a local kindergarten.
He added that the teacher had been too frightened to appear
on television to confirm her ordeal. -- Julia Wishnevsky,
OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA MAY JOIN COUNCIL OF EUROPE ON SCHEDULE.
Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasevsky said Russia may
still be accepted into the Council of Europe in May, as
scheduled, "if light appears at the end of the Chechen
tunnel," Interfax reported. The 33-member council froze
Russia's application for membership on 10 January to
protest its indiscriminate use of force against civilians
in Chechnya. Afansevsky welcomed the less hard-line
reaction of the OSCE, which has stressed it wants to
cooperate with Moscow. In an interview with Interfax on 11
January, Afanasevsky termed the CE decision
counterproductive, given that "the very purpose our
membership is to use the potential of the organization to
strengthen a law-governed state in Russia and respect human
rights." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

AGRARIAN PARTY ANGERED AT DRAFT BUDGET,
AGRICULTURE ALLOCATIONS. Agrarian Party leader Mikhail
Lapshin, at a news conference on 10 January, called on
President Boris Yeltsin and the government to take
emergency steps to support farmers. Lapshin warned that
spring sowing allocations might be reduced unless farmers
were given more funds, according to Russian and Western
agency reports. Lapshin also said food supplies are
threatened due to a sharp drop in cattle and poultry
numbers during the winter. The Agrarian Party, the fourth-
largest parliamentary faction and an ally of the
Communists, reported startling statistics: since 1990,
annual agricultural output has fallen by 45-50%, compared
with the 1986-90 average, and the number of cattle has
declined by 20 million (24%), pigs by 11 million (36%), and
sheep and goats by 17 million (40%). Lapshin also reported
that farmers are short of fuel and equipment; fertilizer
usage is 8.5 times less than in 1990 and 20 times less than
in EU countries. Lapshin proposed adopting a draft
resolution that would ensure sufficient supplies for spring
sowing by providing for credits to farmers at interest
rates of no more than 10%, as opposed to 200% last year.
Lapshin also suggested a special fuel reserve and
subsidized fertilizers. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

COLD WAR MENTALITY SURVIVES IN THE WEST? An anchor
for Ostankino TV's "Vremya" on 10 January said Britain's
recent expulsion for security reasons of Ostankino's
correspondent in London, Aleksei Malikov, was "a tragic
mistake." Citing a statement by Russian Foreign
Intelligence spokeswoman Tatyana Samolis and the opinions
of Malikov's colleagues, the Ostankino anchor maintained
that Malikov had never been a spy and that the British move
was simply a revival of the Cold War mentality. The same
day, Nezavisimaya gazeta published long excerpts from a
study by the Federal Counterintelligence Service (the
former KGB) accusing some 500 Western research institutes
of subversive activities in Russia. Among those centers
named were the RAND corporation, the George Soros
Foundation, the Society for the Defense of Human Rights,
the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic
Studies, and particularly the Hoover, Harvard, and Yale
centers for East European and international studies.
According to FSK experts, "the real purpose of [the
centers'] activities is to help realize US foreign policy,
aimed at keeping Russia in check as the state potentially
capable of competing with the only superpower [the US]."
The report accused the Western research and philanthropic
centers of collecting information for investigative
services, setting up centers of foreign influence in
Russia, and orchestrating the "brain drain" from Russia. To
quell such subversive activities, the FSK suggests making
it difficult for Russian scholars going abroad. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

WOMEN AND YOUTH DOMINATE JOBLESS. Women and young
people accounted for two-thirds of Russia's unemployed in
1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 January. Of the jobless
registered with the unemployment services, 60% were
classified as workers and 23% as office personnel. There
are currently 4.6 million unemployed in Russia, or 6% of
the working population. According to Economics Ministry
data cited by Radio Rossii on 10 January, at the beginning
of December 1994, the number of unemployed and partly
unemployed totaled 10 million, or more than 13% of the
working population. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KYRGYZSTAN HOPES TO INCREASE GOLD PRODUCTION.
Kyrgyzstan hopes to increase gold production from more than
2 tons in 1994 to more than 20 tons by 1998, Interfax
reports on 11 January, citing Prime Minister Apas
Dzhumagulov. Dzhumagulov estimated that the joint
development of the Kumtor deposit with the Canadian Cameco
Corporation would yield 16 tons annually, while the Dzherui
deposit would produce 3 tons and the Taldy-Bulak and other
mines a total of 5.5 tons. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

TRADE CONFERENCE IN CHISINAU. A four-day conference on
promoting trade and economic cooperation between the CIS
and the Baltic States began on 9 January in the Moldovan
capital of Chisinau. Radio Moldova and Western news
agencies report. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, in his
address to the opening session, described the setting up of
a common economic space within the CIS as "vital" but added
that the creation of adequate cooperation mechanisms has
proved difficult. Snegur said he hoped the economic
integration of both the CIS and the Baltic States into the
European and world economy will continue. -- Dan Ionescu,
OMRI, Inc.

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY DENIES BACKING DUDAEV.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 11
January denying reports by Radio Mayak that it had
confirmed that some 50 Ukrainian ultranationalists were
participating in the fighting in Chechnya on the side of
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Ukrainian Radio
reported. The ministry charged the Russian media with
provocative reporting and asked that Radio Mayak broadcast
a correction. It said it has no official information
regarding the participation of Ukrainians in the fighting
in Chechnya. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

VALUE OF UKRAINIAN KARBOVANETS REMAINS STABLE
SINCE 1 DECEMBER. The official exchange rate of
Ukraine's beleaguered temporary currency, the karbovanets,
against the US dollar has remained stable at 104,000
karbovantsi to $1 since 1 December, "UNIAR News" reported
on 11 January. But there is still a marked difference
between the official and the black market rate, where the
dollar buys between 150,000 and 152,000 karbovantsi. The
karbovanets has been devalued by some 50% since the summer
when the parliament ordered the National Bank of Ukraine to
print some 70 trillion unbacked karbovantsi for cheap
credits to farmers. Viktor Pynzenyk, deputy premier in
charge of economic reform, told Ukrainian Radio on 10
January that the National Bank has issued no new credits
since November, in line with the government's efforts to
tighten fiscal policy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON PRESIDENCY.
Belarusian Radio on 11 January reported that the Belarusian
parliament has passed a law on the Presidency. Interfax
reported the same day that the new law will allow the
parliament to vote the president out of office by a two-
thirds majority vote. According to Interfax, the president
could lose his post if 70 deputies backed a motion to
impeach him, if he violated the constitution, or if he were
unable to carry out his duties because of illness. It also
reaffirmed that the president did not have the right to
disband the parliament. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

NEW ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TREATY? At a meeting with
Prime Minister Andres Tarand on 11 January, members of the
parliament Foreign Affairs Commission supported the idea of
Estonia signing a new border treaty with Russia, BNS
reports. Tonu Randlu, an adviser to the commission, said
there were no political reasons why the current unclear
situation on the border should continue. Estonia holds that
the border was set by the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920, while
Russia says the borders of the former Estonian SSR with the
Russian Federation should be used. Tarand stated on 16
December in Helsinki that Estonia wanted Russia's formal
recognition of the Tartu Treaty as its sole condition for
beginning talks on a new border treaty. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

CRIME IN LITHUANIA. Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas
told a press conference in Vilnius on 10 January that the
number of crimes in 1994 exceeded 58,500, down 2.9% on the
60,371 registered the previous year, BNS reports. The
number of crimes per year has increased sharply since 1988,
when 21,337 crimes were registered. The incidence of
serious crimes increased by 13.9%. The authorities success
rate in solving crimes was 40.8%, though this figure varied
significantly from category to category: 88% for murders
and 18% for auto thefts, whose number almost doubled in
1994. Vaitekunas also noted that his ministry has approved
only 265 of the more than 2,000 applications to purchase
firearms for personal protection. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
Inc.

NEW TWIST IN POLISH TAX CONFLICT. On the eve of a
ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal on 12 January,
President Lech Walesa submitted a new, more sweeping
objection to the government's tax bill, Rzeczpospolita
reports. The government wants to retain the higher tax
rates (21%, 33%, and 45%) adopted as a temporary measure
for 1994. The Sejm overrode Walesa's veto in December and
the president then sent the bill to the tribunal for
review. But he failed to send a representative to the
hearing on 29 December, effectively blocking any decision
before the start of the New Year (and thus laying a trap
for the government, as the tribunal has always ruled that
tax rates imposed retroactively are unlawful). The
government proclaimed the tax rates on the basis of the
provisional 1995 budget. Walesa's initial objection was
based on a single point in the tax law, which the
government remedied by decree in December. His new
objection is based on the broader "retroactive" argument,
but the tribunal may first have to rule whether the new
submission itself is permissible, as the constitution gives
the president only seven days (long expired) to file
objections. Additional delay is virtually inevitable. The
Sejm can override tribunal verdicts with a two-thirds
majority. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

ANOTHER POLISH REFORMER RESIGNS. Antimonopoly Office
chief Anna Fornalczyk has resigned, Gazeta Wyborcza
reported on 11 January. At a press conference the previous
day, she cited long-standing policy differences with the
ruling coalition and revealed she had submitted her
resignation once before, in October 1994. Formalczyk had
headed the office since it was founded in April 1990. She
attributed her resignation partly to the government's
refusal to reduce tariffs on small car imports as a way of
counterbalancing price hikes by Fiat Auto Poland, which
controls over 80% of Poland's compact market. The choice of
a successor is up to the prime minister. -- Louisa Vinton,
OMRI, Inc.

CZECH REPUBLIC STILL WITHOUT RUSSIAN OIL SUPPLIES.
Crude oil deliveries from Russia to the Czech Republic were
interrupted for the third consecutive day on 12 January,
Czech media report. The petrochemical company Chemopetrol
has had to start using state oil reserves, while another
large petrochemical company, Kaucuk Kralupy, has enough oil
for several more days. Russian oil exporters maintain that
they have renewed oil deliveries via the pipeline
originating in Russia but that Ukraine is blocking those
deliveries. Czech officials said there are large supplies
of processed oil products and that car owners should not
anticipate an increase in gasoline prices. The Adria
pipeline--which the Czech Republic relied on for oil
deliveries (along with the pipeline originating in Russia)
until it was incapacitated by the war in former Yugoslavia-
-is to be reopened on 23 January. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT'S
PROGRAM. Social Democratic Party Chairman Jaroslav Volf,
at a press conference on 11 January, criticized parliament
chairman Ivan Gasparovic, saying it is up to him to respect
the constitution's requirement that the government's
program be presented to the parliament within 30 days of
the government's installation (which took place on 13
December). Although Gasparovic made the cabinet manifesto
available to parliament deputies on 11 January, parliament
committees will not meet until 16 January. Moreover, the
parliament will not discuss the program until 19 January.
Volf also complained that the program is not concrete
enough, noting, for example, that the cabinet does not
specify how it plans to bring unemployment below 10%.
National Democratic Party Chairman Ludovit Cernak also
criticized the manifesto as too general, Narodna obroda
reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

PRIVATE SLOVAK CABLE TV TO BEGIN BROADCASTING. On
16 January, a new private Slovak television station,
Danubius Cable TV (DCTV), will begin broadcasts on cable
and satellite TV. Regular programming is expected to start
on 14 February. The station will broadcast to Slovakia and
the Czech Republic through cable and a total of 60
countries through satellite, TASR reported on 10 January.
DCTV will be the first private Slovak station with the
ability to reach a wide audience. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
Inc.

US COMPANY CANCELS HUNGARIAN HOTEL PURCHASE. A
multimillion dollar deal fell through on 11 January when
the Dallas-based American General Hospitality withdrew a
bid to buy 51% of the shares in 14 Hungarian hotels, MTI
reports. The State Property Agency accepted the AGH's bid
last month to buy the chain for $57.5 million, but it
raised the price to $67 million shortly thereafter, under
the orders of Prime Minister Gyula Horn. The premier
intervened because he deemed the price too low. AGH
representatives said the company's offer was "favorable and
fair" and would not be modified. The hotel deal was widely
seen by economists as a litmus test of the Horn
government's intentions on privatization. It is likely to
send negative signals to foreign investors at a time when
Hungary badly needs foreign capital. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI,
Inc.

HUNGARY SEIZES SMUGGLED URANIUM. Hungarian border
guards have seized 1.7 kg of uranium, most likely
originating in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and
arrested four Slovak citizens, MTI and Western news
agencies report. The seizure was made on the Hungarian-
Austrian border on 10 December but had been kept secret to
facilitate investigations. In separate news, the Hungary's
Paks nuclear power plant is soon to send to Russia by train
via Ukraine about 55 tons of used fuel from the plant,
Western news agencies report. A spokesman for the plant
said on 11 January that this will be the first transport
since Russia stopped such shipments nearly three years ago
because of environmental concerns. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI,
Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

GENERAL ROSE HAMMERS OUT NEW BOSNIAN AGREEMENT.
International media report on 12 January that UN Commander
in Bosnia and Herzegovina General Sir Michael Rose
persuaded the government and Serbian and Croatian
commanders to sign a new pact following ten hours of talks
at Sarajevo airport the previous day. The Los Angeles Times
says Rose's most significant accomplishment may well be to
have brought Generals Resim Delic, Ratko Mladic, and
Tihomir Blasic together in one room for the negotiations.
The new document aims at consolidating the four-month
cease-fire that took effect on 1 January. One key provision
is joint inspection of the demilitarized zone around
Sarajevo by 14 January to confirm that government troops
have indeed left the DMZ. The BBC on 12 January said this
reflects Rose's hands-on approach to directly involve the
various officers in monitoring the truce. It is not known
what became of earlier Serbian demands that the Muslims
leave some surrounding areas as well. A second central
aspect of the pact is that the Serbs agreed again to reopen
the "blue routes" leading into Sarajevo for civilian and
humanitarian traffic. They closed those roads in July. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

UN OFFICIAL SAYS BELGRADE UNITS FIGHTING IN BIHAC.
AFP on 12 January quotes an unnamed UN official in Zagreb
as saying the elite rump-Yugoslav Red Berets are commanding
Krajina Serb forces fighting in Bihac. Combat in that area
seems to have died down, but the UN is trying to get the
Krajina Serbs to sign the existing four-month cease-fire,
which calls for all foreign troops to leave Bosnia. Reuters
on 11 January notes that the Red Cross succeeded in getting
its first aid convoy since October into Bihac. UN officials
said they have gotten only four food convoys through since
early December. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

DIPLOMATS CONTINUE SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY OVER BOSNIAN
CRISIS. Contact Group representatives on 11 January met
with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who called the
diplomats' latest efforts "a perspective for successful
peace negotiations," according to Reuters. The Contact
Group has gone back on its earlier stance that the July
proposal is essentially a final offer and instead has taken
the Serbian view that it should be only a starting point
for further talks. But Borba reported on 10-11 January that
the Contact Group may alter boundaries to give the Serbs
more urban and industrial areas but that it will not change
the basic ratio of assigning 51% of the land to the Croat-
Muslim federation and 49% to the Serbs. The diplomats are
nonetheless expected to receive a cool reception from the
Bosnian government on 12 January. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
Inc.

CROATIA PRAISES PROGRESS IN KRAJINA ECONOMIC
TALKS. Chief Croatian negotiator Hrvoje Sarinic told
Reuters on 11 January that his meeting that day with
Krajina economic negotiators was "very positive" and "the
first time in these talks I can say we did a good job."
Their December agreement led to the reopening of the
Zagreb-Slavonia highway. The latest talks appear to have
led to a breakthrough on reopening the Adria oil pipeline,
which connects the Croatian coast with Hungary and beyond.
Sarinic said the Adria will come into operation again by 23
January, although Croats and Serbs still dispute points of
ownership. They have also agreed that the Serbs will remove
their national emblems from the east-west highway by 17
January, in return for which the Croats will deliver the
generators they agreed to give the Serbs. The next round of
talks, scheduled for next week, is expected to center on
restoring rail links between Zagreb and Split and between
Slavonia and Zagreb. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SEVEN LEADERS QUIT ROMANIAN SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY.
Seven prominent leaders of the Romanian Socialist Labor
Party resigned on 11 January, Radio Bucharest announced the
same day. Deputy chairmen Tudor Mohora, Traian Dudas, and
Marian Lazar, as well as four SLP secretaries, told a press
conference they could not "passively watch the confiscation
and burial of socialist ideas." They called on those who
wish to give socialism a chance in Romania to join them in
setting up a new political party of a "modern, European,
and democratic" orientation. The leaders, who in the past
have criticized Chairman Ilie Verdet and Deputy Chairman
Adrian Paunescu for their leadership style, are known to
oppose the intention to formalize the alliance with the
Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the Party of Romanian
National Unity, and the Greater Romania Party. This
agreement paves the way for the SLP and the GRP to join the
formal PSDR-PRNU government coalition. The split in the SLP
has postponed for one week the signing of the recent
agreement between the four parties. -- Michael Shafir,
OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TRIES TO PUSH PRIVATIZATION.
The government and representatives of the Private Ownership
Funds agreed on 11 January to change the value of ownership
certificates distributed among Romania's adult population,
in accordance with Law 58 of 1991. The value of a five-
certificate booklet was raised to 875,000 lei, Radio
Bucharest reported. The measure has been taken in
preparation for the next phase of the executive's
privatization program. The Chamber of Deputies is currently
debating a new legal framework for mass privatization,
which has already been approved by the Senate. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PREMIER URGES PROTESTERS TO STOP
BLOCKING WATER WORKS. Interim Prime Minister Reneta
Indzhova urged protesters to cease blocking a water works
construction site in the Rila Mountains, Reuters reported
on 11 January. At a rally in Sapareva Banya the same day,
Indzhova said work on the new pipeline linking two rivers
to the Iskar dam will continue. The dam provides Sofia's
main water supplies. But the demonstrators greeted the
premier with jeers and said they would continue to form
human chains and stop machines from working. The
construction, which began last month, is part of the
extraordinary measures to end Sofia's water crisis. Those
measures are being opposed by the residents of the Sapareva
Banya region and by ecologists. Sofia has been subjected to
strict water rationing for the last two months, and most of
its residents have been without water since the beginning
of January. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT WILL BE PARTLY SHUT
DOWN FOR INSPECTION. Block One of the Kozloduy nuclear
power plant in northern Bulgaria will be shut down this
month to allow for an inspection of the metal casing,
General Director of the National Electricity Company Dyanko
Dobrev told Duma in an interview on 9 January. Dobrev said
that the casing will probably be in good condition and that
the block "will certainly continue" to be used. The
inspection will be carried out by two independent crews,
one Russian and the other from the West. -- Stefan Krause,
OMRI, Inc.

ALBANIAN TRIAL UPDATE. The trial of legislator Arben
Lika will be presided over by Chief Supreme Court Judge Zef
Brozi, Populli PO reported on 12 January. Lika, the first
legislator from the Democratic Party to be put on trial, is
charged with cigarette smuggling. According to Populli PO,
"the trial may be problematic for many of Lika's former
colleagues," meaning that they may have been involved in
shady dealings of their own. Brozi will also preside over
the continuation on 8 February of the trial of five ethnic
Greeks sentenced to between six and eight years for
espionage. The Greeks' sentences have been reduced, and one
was released in an amnesty in November and December.
Populli PO said that freeing the Greeks might be welcomed
by President Sali Berisha, who is under pressure from
Greece to release the prisoners. Berisha nonetheless said
he does not challenge the court's decisions. Whether Brozi
presides over the trials depends on a parliament session on
16 January, when the legislators have to decide again on
lifting his immunity. Earlier in January, they refused to
do so at the request of Chief Prosecutor Alush Dragoshi,
who charged Brozi with wrongdoing in another trial. The
trial of interim Prime Minister Vilson Ahmeti and four
former high-ranking bank officials will resume on 13
January. They are charged with misappropriating about $1.2
million. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former
Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is
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1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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Updated: 1998-11-

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Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole