If there is technological advance without social advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in human misery. - Michael Harrington
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 211, Part II, 30 October 1995

This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest.
Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and
Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central
Asia, 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

***********************************************************************
TODAY'S HEADLINES
-- TOXIC CLOUD KILLS 11 IN EASTERN SLOVAKIA.
-- CROATIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION POISED FOR ELECTION VICTORY.

***********************************************************************

TOP STORY
TOXIC CLOUD KILLS 11 IN EASTERN SLOVAKIA. Eleven people were killed when
a pipe burst at the VSZ steelworks near Kosice on 27 October, releasing
a cloud of carbon monoxide, Sme and AFP reported. Nine of those killed
were VSZ employees, while the remaining two were unemployed Roma from
the near-by village of Velka Ida who happened to be inside the plant. Of
the 244 people injured, 109 were hospitalized. VSZ Kosice President Jan
Smerak said "routine maintenance" caused the initial leak on the morning
of 27 October, but the disaster occurred later that day when weather
conditions prevented dispersion of the gas. Local residents and
environmentalists complained that authorities reacted too slowly: the
2,500 residents of Velka Ida were evacuated long after the disaster
occurred and a public announcement was delayed until 24 hours later.
According to TASR, VSZ officials initially underestimated the situation.
Authorities lifted the state of emergency on 29 October and production
was allowed to resume. -- Sharon Fisher

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PREMIER TO RUN IN DECEMBER PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Yevhen
Marchuk told Interfax-Ukraine on 28 October that he will run in the by-
election in Myrhorod on 10 December. Marchuk said he has accepted the
nomination of a local worker's collective to run as their candidate to
the national legislature. He noted that his election as a deputy would
help push through important legislation needed to implement his
government's economic program, approved by the legislature on 11
October. The December by-elections are intended to fill 45 vacant seats
in the 450-member parliament. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ROUND-TABLE STRESSES NEED FOR TAX REFORM IN UKRAINE. Government
officials at a round-table on Ukraine's troubled tax system revealed
that only 30-40% of all enterprises in the country were paying taxes,
the Eastern Economist Daily reported 26 October. Officials from the
State Tax Inspection Agency said Ukraine's complicated tax system was to
blame for the poor collection of taxes. Of the 36 taxes, imposed on
enterprises and consumers, the four that bring the most revenue are the
value-added, excise, enterprise revenue, and personal income taxes. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S LATIN AMERICAN TOUR. Leonid Kuchma became the
first leader of a former Soviet republic to visit Latin America when he
toured Brazil, Argentina, and Chile from 25-30 October, international
agencies reported. The purpose of his visit was to expand trade and
economic cooperation. An aerospace cooperation agreement signed with
Brazil foresees Ukraine supplying space technology and Brazil a launch
site. An accord with Argentina calls for an agreement to be drawn up on
cooperation in space projects. Kuchma also held talks with the Chilean
Space Affairs Committee. Last month, a Ukrainian-Chilean space mission
failed when a Chilean satellite did not separate from the Ukrainian
spacecraft to which it was attached. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT CHARGED WITH LIBEL. Former Interior Minister Yurii
Zakharenka has said he wants the country's prosecutor-general to examine
a libel suit against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who recently
dismissed Zakharenka and his deputy and then arrested over 10 Interior
Ministry officials on charges of corruption. Zakharenka complained that
he was not allowed into his office because Lukashenka ordered armed
guards to prevent him from entering and collecting his personal
belongings. In the meantime, his successor, Viktar Sheiman, has been
putting together a case against Zakharenka. -- Ustina Markus

LATVIA HANDS IN APPLICATION TO JOIN EU. Latvian Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Maris Riekstins on 27 October handed over to his Spanish
counterpart, Carlos Westendorf, Latvia's formal application to join the
European Union, BNS reported. Spain is currently hold the EU Presidency.
President Guntis Ulmanis and Prime Minister Maris Gailis signed the
application on 13 October. Latvia is the first Baltic State and the
fourth East European country (after Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia) to
submit applications to join the EU. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS FROM RACE. Marek Markiewicz,
former president of the National Radio and TV Council, has withdrawn his
candidacy for the 5 November presidential elections. Markiewicz, whose
ratings in recent opinion polls has been low, said he hoped his
supporters would vote for the strongest right-wing candidate. The
Christian National Alliance (ZChN) the same day announced that it was
switching its support from Central Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-
Waltz, whose popularity has been dwindling recently, to incumbent
President Lech Walesa. Gronkiewicz-Waltz said in an interview with
Polish TV that she supports German-style Christian democracy but, unlike
Walesa, does not intend to have an official chaplain or confessor if
elected. -- Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw.

POLISH GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1996 BUDGET DRAFT. The Polish government on
27 October approved the 1996 budget draft, which foresees an annual
inflation rate of 17% (the Polish National Bank estimates inflation next
year at 19-21%). It puts the GDP growth rate at 5.5-6%, compared with an
estimated 6.5-7% for this year, and average wages at 840 zloty ($200).
According to the draft, the price of medication increase will 23%,
alcohol 20%, gas 14%, electricity 12%, and heating and hot water 22%,
Polish dailies reported on 28 October. -- Jakub Karpinski

HAVEL UNDER FIRE AGAIN OVER CZECH FOREIGN POLICY. Czech President Vaclav
Havel on 29 October defended himself against widespread criticism for
inviting Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat to
visit the Czech Republic. "I believe that Czech policy is based on
support for all peace processes in the world. And as long as I am
president, this policy will apply," Havel said in his weekly radio
address. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus earlier said Havel's invitation to
Arafat--made during the UN's 50th anniversary celebrations in New York--
could cause heated arguments and conflicts on the Czech political scene.
Interior Minister Jan Ruml said during a television debate on 29 October
that Arafat symbolized violent political struggle and that he would not
have invited the PLO leader.  -- Steve Kettle

U.S. CALLS FOR GREATER DEMOCRACY IN SLOVAKIA. U.S. Ambassador to
Slovakia Theodore Russell followed the EU's lead on 27 October by
sending a diplomatic note to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar expressing
concern about the coalition's attacks on President Michal Kovac. He also
called for "the toleration of diverse opinions...and the operation of
government in a transparent manner," international media reported. State
Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, at a White House press conference
the same day, stressed that efforts should be made "to reestablish
cooperation among the constitutionally established institutions of the
state of Slovakia." The Slovak National Party reacted by blaming Kovac
and the opposition for damaging Slovakia's image abroad. -- Sharon
Fisher

WORLD BANK PRESIDENT IN HUNGARY. James Wolfelsohn, during a visit to
Hungary on the weekend, praised Hungary's efforts to establish a market
economy, saying the World Bank was anxious to help the country
reestablish its economic balance, international and Hungarian media
reported on 30 October. Wolfelsohn, following meetings with top
government and central bank officials, said there is "a high measure of
agreement between [the World Bank] and the Hungarian government."
Hungary and the World Bank are currently negotiating a water quality
project for Lake Balaton, investment in the government's state treasury
system, and strengthening supervision of the country's banks. Two $400-
500 million credits are also under discussion to support entrepreneurial
and financial restructuring as well as other state budget reforms. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

MAJOR GOLD SEAM DISCOVERED IN HUNGARY. A seam believed to contain
several tons of gold has been discovered in northeastern Hungary, Magyar
Hirlap and international media reported on 28 October. The seam was
found in the Nagyborzsony region by Lone Star, an Austro-Hungarian joint
venture. Experts said it could be the most productive mine in Hungary,
where gold mines yielded around 80 kilograms a year before they were
closed in the 1970s. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION POISED FOR ELECTION VICTORY. Croatian media on
30 October report that the governing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ),
led by President Franjo Tudjman, is poised to win the parliamentary
elections held the previous day. With nearly 43% of the ballots counted,
the HDZ is in the lead with 43.61%, followed by the opposition five-
party coalition, United List, with 19.37%. Nearly 70% of the country's
1.4 million eligible voters turned out. As yet, it is unclear whether
the HDZ will gain a two-thirds majority in the 128-seat Sabor, which
will be needed to introduce constitutional changes granting the
President wider powers and revoking autonomy in the regions of the
country where ethnic Serbs are in a majority. -- Stan Markotich

CONTROVERSY OVER VOTING RIGHTS IN CROATIAN ELECTIONS. The New York Times
on 30 October reported that Croats living abroad were entitled to cast a
ballot in the 29 October elections, thanks to a recently passed
electoral law introducing the provision. This constituency will have 12
seats. The 312,000 or so ethnic Croats in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina
allowed to vote are regarded as strongly pro-HDZ. The U.S. daily
reported that Western observers have commented that enfranchising this
group may place a strain on the Bosnian-Croatian federation. Zarko
Puhovski, political philosophy professor at the University of Zagreb, is
quoted as saying that the move is arguably tied to Croatian
expansionism. "It is the first step toward a Greater Croatia," he
commented. -- Stan Markotich

TALKS WITH REBEL SERBS BREAK DOWN. U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter
Galbraith and UN envoy Thorvald Stoltenberg on 28 October presented
rebel Serb leaders in Serb-controlled eastern Slavonia with a set of
proposals for reintegrating the territory into Croatia. Serbian leader
Milan Milanovic, however, rejected the proposals, saying the time frame
was unrealistic, Tanjug reported the same day. Meanwhile, the rump
Yugoslav news agency also quoted Serbian negotiator Slavko Dokmanovic as
saying he rejected the proposals on the grounds that they provided for
Croatian police to be stationed along the border with Serbia as soon as
an agreement was concluded. Zagreb has repeatedly hinted that it may
employ force to reclaim eastern Slavonia if an acceptable peaceful
resolution is not found. -- Stan Marktoich

CAUTION OVER BALKAN PEACE TALKS. Assistant Secretary of State and chief
negotiator Richard Holbrooke, in a 28 October interview with Reuters,
expressed reservations about the likelihood of a breakthrough at
upcoming peace talks in Ohio, to be attended by Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, and Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic. "My greatest fear is that bringing [the presidents]
together will prove to have been a mistake. This was a gamble,"
Holbrooke said. He added that regional peace could not be achieved if
the Bosnian Serbs pressed ahead with their demands for secession from
Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Stan Markotich

MORE EVIDENCE OF BOSNIAN SERB ATROCITIES. The New York Times on 30
October, citing intelligence reports and U.S. government sources,
reports that as many as 6,000 Moslems may have been massacred by Serbian
forces after the Serbian capture of the Srebrenica enclave on 11 July.
The report also says that the Serbs attempted to cover up their crimes
by pouring corrosive chemicals on the victims' bodies and moving corpses
that had initially been dumped into a mass grave. Initial reports of the
Serbian atrocities came to light in early August, but recent studies
suggest that more mass burials than originally suspected took place. --
Stan Markotich

FIRST BUSES LEAVE SARAJEVO ON WESTERN ROUTES. The first passenger bus to
leave Sarajevo since April 1992 had a UN escort to Kiseljak on 29
October on a road to the west of the town, Reuters reported. It was
followed by a bus to Zagreb. According to UN officials, the opening of
the road will create a good atmosphere for the peace talks beginning in
Ohio on 1 November. The Bosnian government, however, argues that in
reality, the city remains under blockade, since most civilians are
afraid to travel via Serb-held territory. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Serb
army and the Bosnian government exchanged 19 prisoners and five corpses
in Sarajevo. Elsewhere, international agencies reported that about 1,000
Muslim refugees returned to their homes in Sanski Most, Kljuc, and
Mrkonjic Grad. A UN spokeswoman described the situation in northwestern
Bosnia as "quiet." -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN U.S. Ion Iliescu on 28 October returned to Romania
following an unofficial visit to the U.S., Radio Bucharest reported the
same day. The visit came after Iliescu's address the UN General Assembly
on the occasion of the organization's 50th anniversary. Iliescus met
with U.S. businessmen in New York, Houston, and Boston. In a related
development, RFE/RL's correspondent in Washington reported on 27 October
that the U.S. Eximbank has approved a $79.5 million guarantee to
underwrite the sale of five radar systems and related equipment to
upgrade Romania's air traffic control system. The Romanian air traffic
control agency is purchasing equipment worth $82 million from a branch
of the Lockheed Martin company in New York. The Eximbank guarantee will
support a loan from a syndicate of commercial banks that is to finance
the deal. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN EXTREMISTS DEMAND BAN ON ETHNIC PARTIES. Anghel Stanciu, a
deputy from the extremist Greater Romania Party, demanded on 27 October
that ethnic parties be outlawed in Romania. The proposal came in the
form of an amendment to the law on political parties, which the Chamber
of Deputies is currently debating. But only one other deputy, Petre
Turlea, who defected from the Party of Social Democracy in Romania,
supported the amendment. Other deputies rejected the proposal as
contravening both the constitution and the international treaties to
which Romania is a signatory. Emil Roman, a representative of the Party
of Romanian National Unity, demanded that political formations based on
religious affiliation be outlawed. Both amendments will be examined by a
special parliamentary commission, Radio Bucharest reported the same day.
-- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVA SEPARATISTS ADOPT BASIC LAW. Radio Bucharest and AFP, citing
Interfax, reported on 29 October that the parliament of the breakaway
Transdiestrian region adopted a draft constitution the previous day
proclaiming the region a separate state. The draft is to be submitted to
a referendum. The president of the breakaway region, Igor Smirnov,
rejected a proposal by the Moldovan government to grant territorial
autonomy to the Transdniester. He told the parliament that the proposal
did not take into account developments in the region over the past five
years. -- Michael Shafir

SOCIALISTS LEAD AFTER FIRST ROUND OF BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS . . .
Preliminary results of the first round of the Bulgarian local elections
on 29 October show that the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) won 42% of
the vote, the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) 24%, the People's Union
(NS) 13%, the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) 9%,
and the Bulgarian Business Bloc 6%, according to RFE/RL. Bulgarian TV
reported that turnout was 55-60%. A second round of elections will be
held wherever no mayoral candidate won an outright majority. In most
cases, the runoff is expected to take place on 12 November. -- Stefan
Krause in Sofia.

. . . BUT OPPOSITION WINS IN SOFIA. According to the preliminary
results, Stefan Sofiyanski (SDS) is leading after the first round with
some 44% of the vote. Ventsislav Yosifov, who is supported by the BSP,
received 33%, and former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova,
nominated by the NS, came third with 17%. The SDS won about 46% of the
vote for the Sofia City Council, with the BSP gaining 33% and the NS 7%.
Indzhova announced she will withdraw from the race in Sofiyanski's
favor. The second round of elections for Sofia mayor will take place on
11 November. In Plovdiv, Spas Garnevski of the SDS was elected mayor
with 50.9%; the SDS also seems to have won an outright majority for the
city council. In Varna, the SDS candidate garnered 43% of the vote,
compared with 21% for the BSP-supported candidate. -- Stefan Krause in
Sofia

U.S. HALTS SPY PLANE MISSION OVER BOSNIA. The U.S. will halt unmanned
reconnaissance flights over Bosnia-Herzegovina as of 5 November, Reuters
reported on 28 October. Reuters, citing Koha Jone, says that the three
"Predator" planes that have been stationed at the Gjader air base in
Albania since July, have recently reduced their number of flights. U.S.
diplomats in Albania, however, declined to comment on the report. --
Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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


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