Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 154, Part II, 9 August 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

LACK OF AID MAY KEEP CHORNOBYL OPEN. Ukraine may reconsider its promise
to shut down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant if the West fails to help
raise the $4 billion the government says it needs to replace it, Reuters
and ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii
Kostenko and officials from the State Committee on Nuclear Power said
the government may be forced to upgrade the station if financial
assistance isn't forthcoming. Kostenko told Reuters that President
Leonid Kuchma sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien,
the current G-7 chairman, requesting a meeting next month on plans to
close Chornobyl. Kuchma reportedly told Chretien that Ukraine would have
"the legal and moral right to alter its decision." Meanwhile, Kiev has
begun a scheduled overhaul of the station's no. 1 reactor. The plant's
chief engineer told ITAR-TASS that 13 technological circuits would be
replaced. The president's State Committee for Nuclear Policy and
Environmental Safety has recommended the government work out a plan for
a major reconstruction of Chornobyl to keep it operating for ten years.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

BELARUSIAN INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT FALLS. On 8 August Belarusian radio
reported that industrial production in the first half of 1995 fell by
8.2% compared to the same period last year. This was more than the 3%
foreseen under the plans to pull Belarus out of its economic crisis. The
main reason for the drop was the lower output of machine-manufacturing
industries. Light industry fared slightly better, but the output of the
food industry fell 82.8 percent. The drop in agricultural output is
attributed to equipment, fertilizers and other supplies not reaching the
agricultural sector. Sectors of the economy that increased production
included oil refinement and chemical industries. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
Inc.

DISARMAMENT SPECIALISTS IN BELARUS. A group of U.S. disarmament
specialists arrived in Minsk to discuss agreements on the liquidation of
nuclear arms in Belarus, Belarusian television reported on 7 August.
Talks will focus on the technical problems related to the dismantlement
of the Krone missiles' launch pads on which Belarus's SS-25 Topol
missiles were based. The republic initially planned to blow up the
launch pads, but after two were destroyed it was decided the method
caused too much environmental damage and the plan was halted. Minsk's
recent decision to slow down the transfer of nuclear weapons from
Belarus to Russia was also prompted by the environmental damage left
behind by Russian strategic-rocket forces. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH GOVERNMENT ON THE MILITARY IN CROATIA. Polish Defense Minister
Zbigniew Okonski said on 8 August that "Polish soldiers in Croatia are
quite safe, considering the conditions there," Polish media reported the
next day. He added that Poland will not unilaterally withdraw its
soldiers without first consulting with the UN. The Polish government
also appealed to both sides of the conflict in Krajina to observe the
ceasefire agreement, Polish media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI,
Inc.

POSTPONING POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS DEBATED. The idea of extending
President Lech Walesa's term in office by two years, which was revealed
and criticized by, among others, Deputy Sejm Speaker Wlodzimerz
Cimoszewicz (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 August 1995) evoked strong
reactions from many politicians. Center Alliance leader Jaroslaw
Kaczynski compared the idea to a proclamation that Poland has become an
empire ruled by Walesa and that a discussion on the rules of succession
to throne should follow, Rzeczpospolita reported on 9 August. It was
revealed the same day that signatures in support of Walesa's candidacy
for president were collected among soldiers under pressure from
commanding officers. Labor Union Sejm deputies discussed the matter with
the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Henryk Jasik, Gazeta Wyborcza
reported on 9 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

BALTS PROTEST HIGHWAY ROBBERIES IN POLAND. Estonian and Latvian
officials asked Poland to take measures to prevent the increasingly
frequent robberies of Baltic busses passing through Poland, Reuters
reported on 8 August. The action was prompted by the robbery of a
regularly scheduled bus travelling from Tallinn to Munich on the highway
near Warsaw on 6 April by thieves disguised as Polish policemen. The
German embassy in Warsaw may also submit a protest to the Polish
authorities since nine of the passengers on the bus were German citizens
and the bus tickets are sold by a German company. -- Saulius Girnius,
OMRI, Inc.

PRIVATIZATION OF LATVIAN GAS COMPANY. President of Latvian Gas Adrians
Davis said the privatization of his company was unlikely to increase
prices for individual users, BNS reported on 8 August. The government is
planning to sell 24% of the company to foreign investors and 1% to
Latvian residents. Companies that have expressed an interest in bidding
include German Ruhrgas, French Gas de France, and Norwegian Norsk Hydro,
although Russia's Gazprom, because it is the company's main gas
supplier, is in the best position. Terms of the privatization process
will be settled only after the company's assets are audited. It appears
likely that the company will be privatized in 10 to 12 stages after
which the government will own about 30% of the company. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH GORE. Continuing his visit to the U.S., on 8
August Michal Kovac met with U.S. Vice President Al Gore as well as
representatives of the White House, State Department and Pentagon. Kovac
told Slovak Radio on 8 August that U.S. representatives were most
interested in the progress of democracy and reforms in Slovakia, and
they stressed that Slovakia is not maintaining the same pace in these
areas as are Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In particular, the
U.S. expressed anxiety about the situation in the media, privatization,
relations between the government and the opposition, the increasing
influence of the state in private life, and certain manifestations of
nationalism in Slovakia. The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
reacted angrily to Kovac's statements, stressing that if Kovac really
voiced such an opinion, it is "proof" that he should have resigned
following the no-confidence vote passed by the parliament in May. The
Slovak National Party said Kovac "did not come out in defense of his
country decisively and forcefully" as the head of state should have. The
party also said Kovac again confirmed that he "does not respect the
results of democratic elections," Narodna obroda reports. -- Sharon
Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH REPUBLIC TO PRIVATIZE FURTHER. Following a meeting of Czech
economic ministers on 8 August, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus announced
that the state will sell its shares in many key industries, Czech media
reported on 9 August. Although a majority of Czech companies are in
private hands following two waves of voucher privatization, the state is
still a major shareholder in some banks and other key firms. Klaus told
journalists the government wants to "radically" reduce state ownership
in such firms. Moreover, the Czech Republic's top privatization agency--
the National Property Fund--still holds between 5% and 10% of shares in
some 1,400 privatized companies. The ministers agreed that the sale of
these shares must be accelerated, and the process should be finished by
1997. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UNCERTAINTY CONTINUES IN KRAJINA. The BBC reported on 9 August that
another agreement between the Croatian authorities and rebel Serbs may
be in the offing. The basic principle would be that the Serbs give up
their heavy weapons in return for safe passage. The Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that the situation has become more complicated
because 14,000 soldiers with light and heavy weapons have mixed in with
a column of 40,000 civilians between Glina and Dvor. Croatian, Serbian,
and UN officials continue to disagree as to the total number of Krajina
refugees on the move, international media reported. The Ljubljana daily
Delo wrote on 8 August that air attacks on columns of Serbian refugees
on Bosnian Serb territory were carried out by Bosnian Serb aircraft. The
article, which is summarized in Vecerni list on 9 August, claimed that
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his air force commander Zivomir
Ninkovic want the refugees to go home to maintain a Serbian presence in
Krajina. The Bosnian Serbs also reportedly set up a court martial in
Banja Luka to try Krajina Serbs for leaving the Knin and Benkovac
battlefields. According to the article, some 20 men have already been
sentenced. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

MARTIC WANTS SERBS TO RETAKE KRAJINA. Bosnian Serb television on 8
August broadcast an appeal by Krajina Serb "President" Milan Martic, his
first public appearance in some time. AFP said he was in the Krajina
town of Srb, wearing military fatigues and looking exhausted. Martic
called on "all the patriots from all Serb states and from abroad to come
back for the defense of their fatherland. I do not recognize nor will I
ever recognize the occupation [of Krajina]. We must do everything in
order to return to our homes. I am convinced we can do it. I remain
here, I am somewhat surrounded but I am not afraid." The BBC on 9 August
said that any attempt to retake Krajina without the active help of the
rump Yugoslav army was utter nonsense. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

KARADZIC CALLS MILOSEVIC A TRAITOR. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
has given up some of his political duties to parliament speaker Momcilo
Krajisnik in order to devote full time to the reconquest of Krajina, the
VOA said on 9 August. The BBC added that Karadzic wrote a letter to
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, accusing him of having turned his
back on Krajina and thereby becoming a traitor to all Serbs. Karadzic
nonetheless left the door open for Milosevic to redeem himself by
immediately coming to the military aid of the Krajina and Bosnian Serbs.
Karadzic has other problems closer to home, however. Reuters said on 8
August that General Dragomir Milosevic has joined 18 other Bosnian Serb
generals in backing commander Ratko Mladic "in absolute unity" against
Karadzic. The feud between the two internationally wanted war criminals
has become increasingly public in recent days. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
Inc.

MLADIC DOES NOT RECOGNIZE AUTHORITY OF INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL.
Alexandros Lykourezos, lawyer of Ratko Mladic, said on 8 August that his
client does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that has charged him with war crimes,
AFP reported the following day. Lykourezos said he met Mladic on 6
August near Belgrade to discuss his defense before all international
bodies, including the Hague tribunal. He added that the other 23
indicted Bosnian Serbs, including Radovan Karadzic, also reject the
court's authority. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA ANNOUNCE JOINT COMMAND WITH BELGRADE. AFP
reported on 9 August that Serb leaders in eastern Slavonia declared they
had formed a joint command with the rump Yugoslav army. There has been
no confirmation or denial from Belgrade. The Serbian mayor of Vukovar
said that the Serbs there have been "until now... divided and separated
from Serbia, our mother country, [but now] are finally reunited. We are
12 million [Serbs in the former Yugoslavia] and we will become 312
million if necessary," a reference to Russia, to which many Serbs
traditionally feel great devotion. Wealthy eastern Slavonia has
reportedly been highly integrated into Serbia. Meanwhile in New York,
the Croatian ambassador to the UN, Mario Nobilo, said "we have no
immediate intention to establish military control over our remaining
occupied territory of Croatia." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

FIRST RELIEF CONVOY REACHES BIHAC. International media report on 9
August that the first shipment of supplies since May has reached Bihac.
The Serbian and renegade Muslim siege of the town lasted for three years
until the mainly Muslim Bosnian army Fifth Corps broke through to join
up with advancing Croat forces in Krajina on 5-6 August. The Muslims
have reportedly torched at least six Serbian villages, apparently in
reprisal, and have been seen looting as well. A BBC reporter in Bihac
said that the town's residents are happy and relieved but also worn out.
Danish peacekeepers reported that some Muslim soldiers had executed five
elderly Serbs, but UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi said there was no
confirmation of the report. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

CROATIA REJECTS BOSNIAN CARVE-UP CHARGE. Croatia's ambassador to Britain
wrote the Times on 8 August to protest British press reports that
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman had made a deal with Milosevic to
partition Bosnia. The ambassador said that "any plans to 'carve up'
Bosnia originate not from President Tudjman, or from any supposed secret
deals between Croatia and Serbia, but from the international community
and the successive peace mediators." The Times had earlier run an
article in which politician Paddy Ashdown claimed that Tudjman had drawn
him a map at a festive dinner showing how Bosnia's borders might look in
the future. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Politika on 9 August published two
articles on British and French opposition to Croatia: "One more black
day in the history of Europe" and "Paris fears a 'greater Croatia.'" Le
Figaro called for an end to viewing the Serbs as aggressors and the
Muslims and Croats as victims. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

OPINION POLL ON BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. According to an opinion poll
published in 24 chasa on 8 August, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)
would get 34.3% of the vote if local elections were held now. The Union
of Democratic Forces (SDS) would receive 16.7%, and the remaining
parties less than 10% each. However, 24.7% answered that they do not
know who they would vote for. If the major opposition parties nominate
common candidates, they would receive 24.6%, and the BSP 33.6%. In
Sofia, former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova leads the poll with
22.9%, followed by the yet unnamed BSP candidate (13.6%), and SDS
candidate Stefan Sofiyanski (12.6%). In Sofia, "undecided" is the
largest group with 42.1%. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

NIMITZ ON GREEK-MACEDONIAN DISPUTE. The U.S. special envoy mediating in
the Greek-Macedonian dispute, Matthew Nimitz, said efforts to resolve
the dispute have recently "intensified." In an interview with the Greek
daily Ethnos on 7 August, Nimitz called his recent talks with Macedonian
President Kiro Gligorov encouraging and said that "in Skopje there is
understanding for the Greek government's stance, but, of course, there
are differences." According to Nimitz, both sides want to solve the
dispute; Macedonia because it "wishes for progress in the flag issue,
and wants to reopen trade and have good relations with Greece," and
Greece "because [the dispute] has a negative influence on [Greece] in
the European arena, as well as on Greek trade." Nimitz added that
despite the problems, the prevailing view in both countries is
resolution of the issue. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIALS IN BUCHAREST. NATO's Deputy Secretary for
Defense Assistance, Robin Beard, started a one-week visit to Romania on
8 August, Western and Romanian media reported. Speaking to journalists
at Bucharest's international airport, Beard deplored the latest fighting
in the former Yugoslavia, and said that "NATO's hands are pretty well
tied." On the same day, Beard met with Romanian Defense Minister
Gheorghe Tinca. According to Radio Bucharest, the talks focused on
cooperation between NATO and Romania, including Romania's participation
in the Partnership For Peace program. The two sides stressed the need
for increased cooperation in the management of defense resources and
military equipment. Also on 8 August, Dutch Defense Minister Joris
Voorhoeve began a four-day visit to Romania. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

CHOLERA SPREADING IN MOLDOVA. The number of people infected with cholera
in Moldova is on the rise, Western agencies and Infotag reported on 7
and 8 August. The disease, which broke out in that country in July, has
already killed two people and infected at least 63. New cases were
reported in the town of Stefan-Voda, some 80 kms southeast of Chisinau.
Moldovan officials say that the disease came from neighboring Ukraine.
Moldova has imposed travel bans in areas most affected by the epidemic
and has banned the import of fish from Ukraine. It also announced its
intention to import Romanian chemicals worth over $100,000 to begin
disinfecting work. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

DID AFGHAN GOVERNMENT BUY AMMUNITION IN ALBANIA? A spokesman of
Afghanistan's Burhanuddin Rabbani-led government said it had bought
ammunition in Albania "because it was cheap there," Reuters reported on
8 August. The ammunition was discovered when a MiG-19 jet fighter of the
Taleban student militia forced a Russian Ilyushin 76 to land at Taleban
military headquarters in Kandahar. Taleban said it found 3,400,000
rounds of Kalashnikov assault rifle ammunition and two boxes of shells
for Z-U anti-aircraft guns. A Russian negotiator accused Taleban of
committing "international terrorism" and added: "We are holding Taleban
responsible for the safety of the crew who are hostages in Kandahar." A
Rabbani government spokesman claimed that "the consignment has all the
proper documents and we have done nothing wrong." -- Fabian Schmidt,
OMRI, Inc.

SEASIDE PROPERTIES FOR FORMER ALBANIAN LANDOWNERS? Following parliament
passage of the disputed land law, which allows the buying and selling of
real estate, (see OMRI Daily Digest 27 July 1995) the Albanian
government has proposed to compensate former landowners with properties
well-suited for tourism, such as sites on the southern Albanian coast,
Koha Jone and Republika reported on 5 and 6 August. The plans are
disputed, however, and the leader of the Democratic Alliance, Neritan
Ceka, stressed that the infrastructure necessary for people to settle on
the coast, such as apartments, streets, and water pipelines would cost
"billions of dollars." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

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 OMRI Daily
Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe,
send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the
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No subject line or other text should be included.
To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries
to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or
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Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396

OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains
expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For
Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ

            Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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