The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 249, Part II, 27 December 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/Index.html

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
BOSNIAN SERBS ASK FOR DELAY OVER SARAJEVO SUBURBS. International media
reported on 26 December that NATO's commander in Bosnia, Admiral
Leighton Smith, met a Bosnian Serb delegation in Pale. In keeping with
IFOR guidelines, he refused to talk to indicted war criminals Radovan
Karadzic or General Ratko Mladic, so the Serbian team was headed by
parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik. The Serbs pledged to continue
to cooperate with NATO, but asked for an extension of the deadline by
which they must hand over some parts of Sarajevo to a transitional
authority and ultimately to the Bosnian government. Smith said that he
"did not say yes or no. I am not in a position to negotiate the details
[of the Dayton peace agreement] but I do have the authority to make
extensions on time lines," adding that he will seek the "wise guidance"
of his senior commanders, AFP added. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

MORE UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS. Parliamentary run-off elections took place on
24 December, Ukrainian radio reported the next day. Five new deputies
were elected, bringing the total number of legislators to 418. Two of
the deputies, Ihor Sharov and Anatolii Drobotov, were from Crimea and
belong to the Communist Party. Yaroslav Fedoryn was elected to a Kiev
district seat and belongs to the Rukh party. The other two deputies,
Anatolii Kovalenko and Serhii Buryak, were also elected to Kiev seats
and are independents. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN APPOINTMENTS. President Leonid Kuchma appointed Deputy Prime
Minister Roman Shpek to head the National Council on Statistical Issues,
Ukrainian radio reported on 25 December. Kuchma also created a
Commission to Reform Professional-Technical Education and named Deputy
Prime Minister Ivan Kyras as its head. The dean of the law school of
Kiev University, Vladlen Honcharenko, was appointed to the commission
working on legal reforms. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING. The Belarusian Constitutional
Court ruled on 26 December that a presidential decree revoking
privileges from some sectors of the population was unconstitutional. The
court found that the president did not have the right to issue, abolish
or suspend laws. This was the right of the legislature and the decree
was an "attempt by the president to assume certain functions of the
legislature." -- Ustina Markus

KWASNIEWSKI SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT; WALESA DOESN'T PARTICIPATE.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, the 41-year-old former leader of the Democratic
Left Alliance, was sworn in on 23 December as President of Poland,
replacing Lech Walesa, whose term expired the day before. Kwasniewski
said he was open to dialogue with his political opponents and the
Catholic Church and that he will continue the work for Poland's entry
into European structures and NATO. Kwasniewski made no mention of the
alleged espionage activities of Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy (See OMRI
Daily Digest, 20 December 1995). Walesa stayed at his home in Gdansk and
did not participate in the inauguration ceremonies, nor did deputies
from the pro-Walesa Confederation of Independent Poland. Only a few
deputies from other opposition parties were present. Outside the
parliament building around 1,500 anti-communist demonstrators protested
against the investiture, Polish dailies reported on 27 December. --
Jakub Karpinski

FOLLOW-UP TO OLEKSY AFFAIR. Polish Chief Military Prosecutor General
Ryszard Michalowski said on 22 December that the materials received from
the Internal Affairs Ministry on 19 December, regarding the alleged
espionage activities of Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, have gaps and
inadequacies. Michalowski demanded additional clarifications from the
ministry, before he decides whether to launch a probe. The Sejm
nominated on the same day a 12-person extraordinary commission to
investigate the Oleksy affair. The commission summoned Michalowski,
former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski, and the chief of
the State Protection Office, General Gromoslaw Czempinski, to testify on
3 and 4 January, Polish dailies reported on 23 and 27 December. -- Jakub
Karpinski

NEW ACTING MINISTERS IN POLAND. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy nominated
three acting ministers on 22 December to replace those who resigned at
the end of President Lech Walesa's term. Foreign Affairs Minister
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski was replaced by undersecretary Eugeniusz Wyzner,
a career diplomat who was a deputy UN Secretary-General from 1982 to
1992. Zbigniew Sobotka, undersecretary in the Internal Affairs Ministry
and a deputy of the Democratic Left Alliance, replaced Internal Affairs
Minister Andrzej Milczanowski. Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski was
replaced by the state secretary in the Defense Ministry, Andrzej
Karkoszka. The nomination of new full-fledged ministers is expected in a
few days. Oleksy also dismissed on 22 December Deputy Minister of
Internal Affairs Henryk Jasik, who was recently promoted to general by
Walesa. Jasik was involved in collecting material evidence against
Oleksy, the Polish press reported on 23 and 27 December. -- Jakub
Karpinski

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN LATVIA'S BANKA BALTIJA. The union of creditors of
the Banka Baltija appealed on 22 December the bankruptcy verdict passed
on 11 December by the Economic Court, BNS reported. The appeal noted
that the court had acted on the request for bankruptcy by the bank's
administrator and not by either the Bank of Latvia or two creditors, as
the law requires. The same day, the General Public Prosecutor's Office
brought additional charges of embezzlement and malicious causing of
bankruptcy against Aleksandrs Lavent, the former chairman of the bank's
supervision council. Lavent, who was arrested in June and charged with
sabotage against the Latvian state, was to have been released on 28
December. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA LAUNCHES FIRST LOCALLY BUILT WARSHIP. In the presence of
President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and Interior Minister
Mart Rask, the first warship built in Estonia after World War II was
launched on 22 December, ETA reported. It is a 30-meter long coast guard
vessel christened Pikker (Thunder) which cost nearly 15 million kroon
($1.3 million). -- Saulius Girnius

DATES FOR CZECH ELECTIONS FORMALLY SET. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on
22 December countersigned a presidential-decree calling parliamentary
elections for 31 May and 1 June 1996, Czech media reported. The first
elections to the upper house of parliament, the Senate, will be held on
15 and 16 November. Klaus wanted the two sets of elections to be held
together but finally agreed to Havel's proposal that they take place
separately (See OMRI Daily Digest, 19 December 1995). The June polls
will be the first parliamentary elections since the Czech Republic
became an independent state on 1 January 1993. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PREMIER AWARDED HONORARY DEGREE IN MOSCOW. Moscow State
University on 22 December awarded Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar
an honorary doctorate for his role in developing Russian-Slovak
relations, Slovak media reported. At the ceremony in Moscow, Meciar
described relations between the Russian Federation and Slovakia as
exemplary and said they would not be jeopardized, even if Slovakia
becomes a member of NATO. -- Steve Kettle

HUNGARY EASES CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS. The Hungarian government has
relaxed the rules restricting the amount of currency that travellers can
take abroad, international media reported on 22 December. The previous
annual limit of $800 was raised to 200,000 forints ($1,430), according
to reports. The decision followed parliamentary approval in November of
a new currency law, the latest step towards making the forint fully
convertible. -- Steve Kettle

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

RUSSIAN GENERAL MEETS INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL. In contrast to Admiral
Smith, Russian Major-General Nikolai Staskov met General Mladic while on
a mission of "national reconnaissance," as explained by a NATO spokesman
in Sarajevo, Reuters and Nasa Borba reported on 24 and 25 December. An
IFOR spokesman said that this meeting happened without the prior
knowledge of or approval by NATO, demonstrating that the Russians are
not willing to coordinate their activities completely with NATO at a
time when the rules for Russian participation are still being clarified.
According to the IFOR spokesman, Staskov's role in the meeting with
Mladic was not clear, although international media suggested that the
Brcko corridor was on the agenda because the Serbs had unsuccessfully
tried to have the Russians stationed there instead of the Americans. --
Daria Sito Sucic

U.S. SETS UP CHECKPOINT IN BRCKO CORRIDOR. CNN reported on 26 December
that heavy rains and floods had slowed U.S. engineers trying to
construct a bridge from Zupanja, Croatia, across the Sava River into
northern Bosnia. The Americans nonetheless opened their first checkpoint
in the Brcko corridor, 7.5 km south of the Sava, on the Tuzla road. AFP
added that U.S. vehicles were "testing their freedom of movement" in the
sensitive corridor and proceded unhindered by government or Serbian
soldiers. In Banja Luka, Reuters said that the region is "one big
refugee camp," as aid workers deal with 280,000 Serbian refugees, over
half of whom arrived this year. Since the summer, the Serbian
authorities accelerated their expulsion of the region's few remaining
Croats and Muslims, but housing for Serb refugees remains a problem. On
27 December, AFP reported that British troops found 12 bodies near
Sanski Most, where fleeing Serbian soldiers killed Muslim and Croat
civilians in October. The bodies have yet to be identified. -- Patrick
Moore

BOSNIAN SERB AND GOVERNMENT FORCES EXCHANGE PRISONERS. Serbian and
government forces on 24 December exchanged 245 prisoners in no man's
land in northeastern Bosnia, Reuters reported. According to local
officials, 114 Serbs and 131 troops of the government forces, most of
whom were captured in Srebrenica earlier this year, were freed in the
"first big exchange of prisoners in the last two years." Swedish
soldiers within IFOR supervised the exchange which, according to the
Dayton agreement, should be completed by 28 February, Nasa Borba
reported on 25 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN CARDINAL SAYS SERBS SHOULD RETURN. The primate of Croatia,
Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, said that Croatian Serbs who fled their homes
should be allowed to come back if they agree to be loyal citizens of
Croatia. Kuharic pointed out that the Roman Catholic Church has
repeatedly called for all victims of "ethnic cleansing" to be allowed to
return to their homes and property, Nasa Borba reported on 25 December.
He added that the Catholic and Orthodox churches should make a serious
inquiry into the origins of the conflict and show that "there is a way
out from the war and the hatred." The cardinal has been a voice for
reconciliation throughout the conflict and played a notable role in
opposing the Croat-Muslim war of 1993. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH SPLIT OVER DAYTON AGREEMENT. A special bishop's
conference of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was called in Belgrade
on 21 December to discuss an internal split among bishops over the
Dayton agreement and loss of territories in Republika Srpska, Beta
reported the same day. Dozens of SPC bishops called on Patriarch Pavle
to resign because he failed to oppose the Dayton peace agreement, while
he himself earlier announced his possible resignation from the post. The
church leadership has long backed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's
"Greater Serbian" policy although they distrust him because of his
communist background. They prefer the non-communist Karadzic, whom they
backed in his feud with Milosevic, and seconded his complaints about the
peace treaty. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN OPPOSITION UNITY DEVELOPMENTS. Delegates from five opposition
parties--the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), the Serbian Radical Party
(SRS), the Democratic Party (DS), the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS),
and the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina -- met on 26
December for the first sitting of what has been dubbed "the parallel
parliament" for Serbia, Nasa Borba reported on 27 December. This appears
to be the latest in a series of moves aimed at opposition cooperation.
On 26 December Nasa Borba reported that on the previous day the
republic's legislature passed its budget for 1996, with only the
governing Socialist Party of Serbia delegates, their opposition New
Democracy allies and several breakaway members of the SRS (now the
Radical Party 'Nikola Pasic') supporting and debating the legislation.
Members of the five aforementioned opposition parties boycotted,
objecting to a government ban on television coverage of the legislature,
and to government business being conducted "on the day of the great
Christian holiday--Catholic Christmas." -- Stan Markotich

A BIG DEAL FOR SERBIAN OPPOSITION? Meanwhile, participants in the
"alternative legislature" say the institution is an important vehicle in
opposing the government's power monopoly, Nasa Borba reports on 27
December. The SRS leader in the institution, Tomislav Nikolic, said, "if
anyone thinks he can defeat the socialists on his own, he's welcome to
try. I don't think that can be done, and I'll try to show that through
this institution." SPO leader Vuk Draskovic added that in the absence of
parliamentary television coverage, the parallel parliament may
communicate directly with citizens, providing information and soliciting
input on legislation. On a separate but related topic, Nasa Borba on 26
December reported that "after over a month of negotiations," the DS, DSS
and two other minor parties finally agreed on forming an electoral bloc,
the Democratic Alliance. Whether these developments are being perceived
as a threat by the SPS is highly debatable, given that all previous
opposition efforts to oust or impede the socialists have floundered over
parties' inability to sustain working relations. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN COMMERCE MINISTER RESIGNS. Domestic and Western media reported
on 22 December that Minister of Commerce Petru Crisan had resigned.
According to a government press release carried by Romanian television,
a successor would be appointed next month. The daily Adevarul has
alleged that in addition to his portfolio, Crisan was at the same time a
manager and shareholder of private and state-owned companies, which was
a conflict of interests. Other media indicated that he may have used his
influence to favor private business interests. Prime Minister Nicolae
Vacaroiu told Radio Bucharest on 23 December that a government inquiry
showed no wrongdoing on Crisan's part, but that the minister chose to
submit his resignation in order to avoid damaging the executive's image.
-- Michael Shafir

ILIE NASTASE TO RUN FOR MAYOR OF BUCHAREST. Former tennis star Ilie
Nastase will run for mayor of Bucharest in the local elections scheduled
for spring 1996, the daily Evenimentul zilei reported on 23 December.
Nastase, who has recently joined the largest coalition party, the Party
of Social Democracy in Romania, said his entrance into politics has been
received well abroad and that he intended to use his influence to help
his native city overcome its rapid deterioration. -- Michael Shafir

TRANSDNIESTRIAN ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM. Moldovan and Western press
agencies reported on 24-25 December that preliminary results of the
voting held in the 24 December elections and referendum in the breakaway
Transdniestrian region indicate that 54 out of the 67 seats in the
parliament were filled as a result of the votes cast. There will be
runoffs in the remaining districts, all affecting the second chamber of
the legislature. It is not clear yet which party emerged as victorious,
but reports indicated that most voters favored the Bloc of Patriotic
Forces, which stands for closer links with Russia and a revival of the
Soviet Union. In the referendum held concomitantly with the elections,
81.8% approved the region's separatist constitution, which proclaims the
Transdniester an independent state, and 90.6% voted in favor of its
joining the CIS and its related structures. Moldovan leaders denounced
the elections and the referendum as illegitimate. Official Russia
distanced itself from the poll. ITAR-TASS quoted a foreign ministry
spokesman as saying that the region was "part of the Republic of
Moldova" and what happened there was "an internal affair of that
independent and sovereign state." -- Michael Shafir

RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES RECEIVE PROPERTY BACK. Albanian President Sali
Berisha decreed the return of all former properties to the religious
communities in speeches at orthodox and catholic churches in Tirana on
25 December. The property affected by the law is estimated to include
about 35,000 hectares of agricultural land, Republika reported on 26
December. All properties of the Muslim community and the orthodox and
catholic churches were nationalized in 1967. -- Fabian Schmidt

PAPANDREOU'S CONDITION IMPROVES. Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou
has left intensive care, AFP reported on 26 December. The move was
earlier delayed when the 76-year-old leader suffered an intestinal
infection, but the infection seems to be "under control." The ailing
premier has been in hospital since 20 November, when he was taken ill
with pneumonia, which was later complicated by breathing and kidney
problems. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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            Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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