The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 95, Part II, 17 May 1995

This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest.
Part II is a compilation of news concerning East-Central and
Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central
Asia, and the CIS, is distributed simultaneously as a second document.
Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are
available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS PREMIER FEARS DELAY IN NEXT ROUND OF PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS.
Mikhail Chihir said he fears the next round of elections to the
country's first post-Soviet parliament may be delayed for an indefinite
period, Interfax reported on 16 May. Only 20 out of 260 seats were
filled in the 14 May ballot. Chihir, stressing that his government will
provide only minimal financing for future votes, suggested that money
could be saved by scrapping the requirement that a candidate win 50%
plus one vote in his electoral district to gain parliament
representation. He also said his government was in no rush to begin
printing coins and bank notes with the Soviet-era emblem and flag, which
the population voted to bring back in the 14 May referendum. The project
would cost $7 million, he said. On the overwhelming popular support for
economic integration with Russia expressed in the same referendum,
Chihir said the first important steps were taken when Belarus and Russia
signed a protocol last week on a customs union agreement. He said the
process had entered a second stage in which the two countries would
formulate a "single-price policy" and sign an agreement on a "payments
union." -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN-UKRAINIAN RELATIONS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Henadii
Udovenko ended a two-day visit to Minsk on 16 May, Interfax and Radio
Ukraine reported the same day. He and his Belarussian counterpart,
Uladzimir Senko, told a press conference that 40 bilateral agreements
had already been signed and an additional 14 were being prepared in
anticipation of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's state visit to
Belarus. The date of the Belarus-Ukraine summit will be fixed during the
26 May CIS summit in Minsk. Udovenko said the Belarusian defense
minister had been invited to observe Ukrainian-American military
exercises in western Ukraine scheduled for late May. -- Chrystyna
Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE HOLDS TALKS WITH G-7 ON CHORNOBYL SHUTDOWN. A G-7 delegation and
representatives of the World Bank and EBRD are meeting with Ukrainian
officials in Kiev to discuss the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power
plant, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAR TV News reported on 16 May. Ukraine
has pledged to close the plant by the year 2,000. Ukrainian officials
presented the delegation with a list of expenses and a timetable for
decommissioning the two still-functioning reactors at Chornobyl. The
Ukrainians emphasized that the final costs of the shutdown would
approach $4 billion. The G-7 delegation offered Ukraine $400-500 million
in grants and $1.5 billion in loans for the project. The timetable calls
for Unit No. 1 to be shutdown in 1997 and Unit No. 3 by the end of 1999.
But Ukrainian officials say this deadline can be met only with
substantial Western assistance. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

CRIME IN BALTIC STATES. The Latvian Interior Ministry has announced that
the number of crimes registered in Latvia during the first four months
of 1995 was down 6.8% on the same period in 1994, BNS reported on 12
May. Registered crimes in Estonia and Lithuania for the same period,
however, increased by 6.4% and 18%, respectively. The crime rate per
10,000 inhabitants was 78.9 in Estonia, 54.8 in Lithuania, and 48 in
Latvia. In the first quarter of 1995, crimes involving the use of
weapons decreased by 18% in Latvia and 27% in Lithuania but increased by
almost 50% in Estonia. The number of smuggling cases more than doubled
in Latvia and Lithuania but increased by only 28.6% in Estonia. --
Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN FINLAND. Lennart Meri, accompanied by Foreign
Affairs Minister Riivo Sinijarv and State Chancellor Uno Veering,
arrived in Helsinki on 16 May for an official three-day visit, BNS
reported. Talks with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari focused on
security questions, energy cooperation, and trade issues. Estonia agreed
to Finland's conditions for establishing visa-free travel between the
two countries, and accords on jointly fighting crime and returning
illegal immigrants were signed. Meri is scheduled to give a lecture at
Turku University and visit a mobile telephone factory in Salo and the
Arctic Center at Rovaniemi, the capital of Laplania. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

NEW LITHUANIAN ENERGY MINISTER SWORN IN. Arvydas Kostas Lescinskas was
sworn in as energy minister on 16 May, Interfax reported. Lescinskas, a
48-year-old mechanical engineer, was a member of the Lithuanian
parliament from 1990-1992 and deputy transportation minister from 1993-
1995. He replaced Algimantas Stasiukynas, who resigned after raising
electricity prices from 1 May from 0.16 litas ($0.04) to 0.2 litas per
kilowatt-hour. Hot water prices are expected to be increased
significantly in June. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

STATE'S ROLE IN POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN QUESTIONED. Members of the
Political Advisory Committee at the Internal Affairs Ministry have asked
the minister to convene a committee meeting to discuss the role of the
State Protection Office (UOP) in the upcoming presidential elections,
Polish media reported on 17 May. The committee members expressed concern
about the UOP's "interest in public figures, including members of the
ruling coalition." Aleksander Kwasniewski, chairman of the parliamentary
Constitutional Commission, said on 16 May that he does not regard his
current duties and presidential candidacy as incompatible. Polish law is
unclear on whether officials holding high office may run for the
Presidency. But some commentators have debated whether Supreme Court
President Adam Strzembosz, and Ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski should give
up their posts while taking part in the presidential race. -- Jakub
Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

POLAND INTRODUCES SEMI-FLOATING CURRENCY RATES. Partly floating exchange
rates for convertible currencies were introduced in Poland on 16 May,
Polish media reported. The rates of exchange will be allowed to deviate
by up to 7% from the rate established by the Central Bank, which is
based on a 1.2% monthly devaluation. The zloty gained 1.5% on the U.S,
dollar and 2.2% on the convertible-currencies basket on 16 May. -- Jakub
Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

CZECHS TO CRACK DOWN ON RACISM AFTER MURDER OF ROMA. Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus on 16 May called a special meeting of ministers, police,
and the chief state attorney to prepare tougher action against racist
speeches and attacks, Czech media reported. The meeting was held in
response to the murder four days earlier of a 42-year-old Roma in the
town of Zdar nad Sazavou. A group of young skinheads broke into the
Roma's home and, in front of his five children, beat him around the head
with a baseball bat. "It's not a run-of-the-mill case," Klaus said,
adding that the attack was completely unprovoked. Justice Minister Jiri
Novak was instructed to prepare proposals that racist attacks be subject
to greater punishment than at present. State attorneys will be urged to
push for the highest possible penalties. Last year, 160 racist clashes--
mainly between skinheads and Roma--were registered in the Czech
Republic, Rude pravo reported. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

DEMONSTRATION IN SUPPORT OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT. Two Slovak opposition
parties, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Democratic
Union, organized a demonstration in Bratislava on 16 May to express
support for President Michal Kovac, Slovak media reported. The rally
came in the wake of the parliament's recent no-confidence vote and the
coalition parties' subsequent calls for his resignation. Bratislava
Mayor Peter Kresanek as well as representatives of the Hungarian
Christian Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party joined the
demonstrators, estimated to have numbered between 20,000 and 40,000.
Meanwhile, following the lead of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia,
the Ecumenical Council of Churches issued a statement expressing concern
about the tensions between the parliamentary majority and the president,
Narodna obroda reported on 16 May. The council said it valued the
efforts of the president to build broad cooperation, regardless of
political or religious orientation. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS TO BEGIN AGAINST FORMER SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE
OFFICIALS? Ivan Lexa, director of the Slovak Information Service, has
asked the Slovak attorney-general to begin criminal proceedings against
his predecessor, Vladimir Mitro, as well as former SIS intelligence
chief Igor Cibula. Lexa is accusing Mitro of acting against the security
of the republic and of breaking his legal obligation to remain silent,
Sme reported. Both Mitro and Cibula, who resigned from their posts in
February claiming they did not enjoy the confidence of the government,
have discussed their situation with representatives of the press. Lexa
is a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. -- Sharon Fisher,
OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SARAJEVO UNDER SIEGE. Sarajevo and its surrounding areas came under
heavy attack on 16 May, international media reported the following day.
According to Vecernji list, it was one of the fiercest days of fighting
between Serbian and Bosnian Muslim forces in the Bosnian capital. The
same newspaper also reported that at present, there is no reliable
information on casualties. Nasa Borba stressed that serious artillery
duels have been taking place and that heavy weapons--banned within
Sarajevo's exclusion zone limits--have been used by both sides.
According to some agency accounts, Serbian forces just outside Sarajevo
have also seized a UN weapons cache. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

BOUTROS GHALI ON BOSNIAN PEACEKEEPING. The BBC on 17 May reported that
UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali has outlined four options for
the future of UN peacekeeping operations in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina.
He noted that the recent intensification of fighting in the country may
result in maintaining operations at their present level, using air
strikes, pulling out, or scaling down. Boutros-Ghali, said he preferred
scaling down. Bosnian UN ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey responded that any
such move would amount to serious losses for the Bosnian government and
people. NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes, for his part, rejected any
ideas of scaling down or withdrawal, the BBC reported on 17 May. He
argued that the UN has to get tougher to regain credibility. -- Stan
Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

"SEX, DRUGS, AND HEINEKEN." This is one of the favorite mottos of Dutch
peacekeepers in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Die Presse reported on 12 May. The
men there have established a reputation for alcohol and drug abuse, as
well as for violence against local prostitutes. But now Dutch opinion is
scandalized by fresh reports that the force has used children lured with
candy as guinea pigs to test for mine fields. Military and civilian
authorities are investigating. Meanwhile, AFP on 16 May reported on the
general malaise and feeling of uselessness among the UN peacekeepers in
Croatia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

CROATIAN PRESIDENT IN GERMANY. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman met
with ranking German officials, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl and
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, in Bonn on 16 May, Vjesnik reported.
Tudjman reiterated his promise that the Croatian army would withdraw
from a UN buffer zone separating Croatian forces and rebel Krajina Serbs
on 16 May. But the BBC reported the next day that it is unclear whether
Croatian forces are pulling back in accordance with deadlines. In other
news, Nasa Borba reported that Vuk Draskovic, leader of the opposition
Serbian Renewal Movement, is to arrive in Germany on 17 May at the
invitation of Foreign Minister Kinkel. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

TRIALS IN MACEDONIA. Defense lawyers of the director of the self-
proclaimed Albanian-language university in Tetovo Fadil Sulejmani have
offered DM 50,000 for his release on bail, Flaka reported on 16 May.
Sulejmani was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for "inciting
resistance." His case is to reviewed by a court of appeal. Meanwhile,
the trial of Nevzat Halili, leader of the ethnic Albanian Party for
Democratic Prosperity-Party for the Peoples' Unity (PPD-PUPM) began in
Tetovo the same day. Halili is charged with "participating in a rally
interfering with public authorities, executing their duties" and with
"organizing that rally." Like Sulejmani, he was arrested in connection
with a riot that broke out after the police crackdown on the Albanian-
language university on 17 February. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

MACEDONIAN-GREEK UPDATE. In an effort to settle the diplomatic dispute
between Macedonia and Greece, UN mediator Cyrus Vance and U.S. President
Bill Clinton's special envoy Matthew Nimetz on 13 May met with Greek
opposition leader Miltiadis Evert in New York, Greek newspapers reported
the following day. Vance said he expected progress in settling the
Greek-Macedonian dispute, while Evert assessed the meeting as useful and
said that his party, New Democracy, always believed in the need to
settle the questions between Greece and Macedonia by dialogue.
Meanwhile, the Athens daily Elevtherotypia on 12 May cited diplomatic
sources in Athens as saying the Macedonian-Greek talks will be completed
by the end of the summer. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

GERMAN PRESIDENT ENDS VISIT TO ROMANIA. Roman Herzog, at the end of his
official visit to Romania, told a joint session of the bicameral
parliament on 16 May that ethnic minorities must be included in the
reform process. Radio Bucharest carried the speech live. Herzog noted
that if reforms do not foresee adequate protection for employees, social
tension may endanger the reform process. He pledged to assist Romanian
efforts to become part of European and NATO structures. At a joint press
conference with President Ion Iliescu, Herzog said that attracting more
foreign investment depended not only on legislation but on how the law
is implemented. Also on 16 May, representatives of the Romanian and
German Foreign Ministries signed a bilateral cultural agreement. At the
start of his private visit to Romania, Herzog traveled the same day to
the Transylvanian town of Sibiu, where he met with representatives of
the German minority. The German president is scheduled to visit three
more settlements linked to the historical presence of Germans in
Romania. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN UNION DEMANDS GOVERNMENT'S DISMISSAL. The leader of Alfa, a
major trade union confederation in Romania, told a press conference in
Bucharest that the union's leadership is demanding that the parliament
dismiss Nicolae Vacaroiu's government. Radio Bucharest and Romanian
Television on 16 May quoted Bogdan Hossu as saying the decision was
adopted by a meeting of the confederation's Coordinating Council, also
attended by leaders of other large trade union confederations. Hossu
noted that the decision was in response to a referendum conducted among
union members. He added that the parliament and the president should
appoint "a new government team" that is credible in the eyes of the
trade unions and capable of concluding a "social pact" with them. The
union said it would start countrywide labor protests if its demand is
not met by 26 May. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

MOLDOVAN OFFICIAL CHALLENGES LEBED STATEMENT. Dumitru Diacov, chairman
of the Moldovan parliament's Commission for Foreign Relations, told
BASA-press on 13 May that Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed's statement the
previous day advising against the withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army was
unjustified. He said Lebed's expressed fears that the withdrawal might
provoke a new outbreak of conflict can be explained only by the fact
that there are forces in the breakaway region interested in prolonging
the Chisinau-Tiraspol dispute. Diacov stressed that Moldova will not
resort to force and that Lebed is aware of that. But Stanislav Khadzhev,
defense minister of the self-styled republic, told BASA-press that
Tiraspol's position on the withdrawal was identical to Lebed's. If the
14th Army is withdrawn before the resolution of the Transdniestrian
dispute, a new armed conflict will be inevitable, he said. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

HELSINKI COMMITTEE, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CRITICIZE TIRASPOL. Stefan
Uratu, chairman of the Moldovan Helsinki Committee for Human Rights,
said on 15 May that the situation of Ilie Ilascu has worsened recently,
BASA-press reported. Ilascu, who has been condemned to death by the
Tiraspol authorities for alleged terrorist activities, is suffering from
severe dropsy. The Helsinki Committee has been negotiating with Tiraspol
since late February to have independent doctors provide medical
attendance to Ilascu and other detainees. Radio Bucharest on 13 May
reported that Amnesty International has published a report on violations
of human rights in the Transdniester breakaway region. The report also
deals with the case of the "Ilascu group." BASA-press said the report
claims the worsening of Ilascu's condition is also due to the economic
crisis in Tiraspol, which has resulted in inadequate food supplies to
prisons. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER HOLD TALKS. Zhelyu Zhelev and Zhan Videnov
on 16 May met to discuss the political situation in Bulgaria and their
differing political views, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following
day. The two leaders agreed that cooperation between state institutions
must improve, regardless of ideological and political differences. But
they avoided discussing Bulgaria's possible membership in NATO.
Kontinent wrote that many questions "remained unanswered" after the
meeting. The press centers of the president and the prime minister
announced that meetings between the two leaders will take place on a
regular basis. But 24 chasa suggests that "the cold war [between the two
men] will continue," as it is "rooted in the constitution" and there is
no qualified parliamentary majority to change it. -- Stefan Krause,
OMRI, Inc.

[As of 12:00 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 published Monday
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is
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