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

No. 250, Part II, 28 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
IZETBEGOVIC PROTESTS SMITH'S MESSAGE TO SERBS. Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic formally objected to statements by NATO commander Admiral
Leighton Smith that he would consider a Serb request to delay the
transfer of authoriity in Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs (See OMRI Daily
Digest, 27 December 1995). The VOA's Croatian Service and the BBC said
that the president was disappointed that Smith would have even
considered such a move. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey set
down his government's objections in talks with U.S. officials, saying
that the Serbs were trying "to break the back" of the accord, the
International Herald Tribune reported on 28 December. Minister for
relations with NATO Hasan Muratovic told news agencies that "this is not
the job of IFOR." The Bosnian authorities fear that the Serbs will use
such moves to delay implementing the peace plan. Muratovic added that if
Smith's forces would not carry out the transfer on time, his government
would demand they be replaced with those who could, AFP reported. --
Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

NUKE WITHDRAWAL FROM UKRAINE ON SCHEDULE. Russian television and
Interfax reported on 26 and 27 December that the removal of nuclear
weapons from Ukraine is proceeding on schedule for this year. By the end
of October all 46 SS-24 and 80 out of 130 SS-19 missiles in Ukraine had
been scrapped. 32 of Ukraine's SS-19 missiles are being redeployed in
Russia. The U.S. has been monitoring the weapons removal and has
promised Ukraine $350 million towards the effort. -- Ustina Markus

GROMOV ON BLACK SEA FLEET. The Commander of the Russian navy, Admiral
Feliks Gromov, sent a message to the Black Sea Fleet command outlining
Russia's position on the fleet after the transitional joint-control
period between Russia and Ukraine expires on 1 January 1996,
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 22 December. The message stated that no
agreements on the status of Russian naval forces in Ukraine has been
signed and the fleet's division has not been clearly defined. Thus,
Russia will maintain its position that all facilities in Sevastopol and
some infrastructure in other parts of Crimea will be used by the Russian
Black Sea Fleet. Gromov also said a draft agreement on the status of the
fleet had basically been agreed on which assumes that Russian fleet
personnel serving on Ukrainian territory will be subject to Russian law.
-- Ustina Markus

UNIONS THREATEN STRIKES IN BELARUS. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
assured workers and trade unions that there was no reason to strike and
that striking would only "speed up the fall into the economic abyss,"
Belapan reported on 26 December. The statement came in response to a
declaration by the head of the Federation of Trade Unions, Uladzimir
Hancharyk, that trade unions were preparing to organize protest actions
in January. Workers in a number of enterprises throughout the country
have been holding meetings demanding the immediate payment of back
wages. In August, transport workers went on strike over the same issue.
Lukashenka broke the strike by bringing in temporary workers and paying
them several times as much as transport workers earn. The president said
any new strikes would be met with "appropriate action," but did not
specify what that would be. -- Ustina Markus

OLEKSY RESPONDS TO CALLS FOR HIS RESIGNATION. Polish Prime Minister
Jozef Oleksy, accused by outgoing Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej
Milczanowski of spying for Moscow, rejected calls for his resignation or
of taking a temporary leave, saying in a 27 December radio interview
that he would keep on working. He said he will demand an explanation as
to how top secret materials, unknown to him, found their way from the
Internal Affairs Ministry to the media. Opposition deputies have
demanded Oleksy's resignation or at least a temporary absence from
office until military prosecutors and a special parliamentary committee
investigate the case. New president Aleksander Kwasniewski said he was
waiting for the charges against Oleksy to be dealt with by military
prosecutors and courts because he did not want to influence proceedings,
Polish and Western media reported on 28 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

LITHUANIAN BANKING CRISIS. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius said on 27
December that the government would present the next day to the Seimas a
resolution on emergency measures for solving banking problems, ELTA
reported. The measures call for an audit of the Litimpeks and Akcinis
Inovacinis Banks (LAIB) by the international audit company Ernst and
Young and the creation of a plan by 20 January for returning the
deposits to these banks. Christian Democratic Party faction leader
Ignacas Uzdavinys said that the government and the Bank of Lithuania
were responsible for the banking crisis since they had had information
about questionable loans for a long time, but did nothing. -- Saulius
Girnius

HAVEL PARDONS CZECH UNPROFOR SOLDIER. President Vaclav Havel has
pardoned a Czech soldier who was accused of cowardice while serving with
UNPROFOR in Croatia, Pravo reported on 27 December. The soldier,
identified only as Marek F., allegedly handed over his weapons and
pleaded with Serbian troops who surrounded his unit last March not to
shoot him and his colleagues. He was charged with endangering the moral
state of his unit and could have faced life imprisonment under military
law. -- Steve Kettle

SETTING PRECEDENTS: ROMA IN CZECH AND INTERNATIONAL LEGAL DEBATES. The
Brno district attorney's office has appealed the district court's
sentence of a 21-year-old Czech for the murder of a Romani man, the
state attorney told CTK on 27 December. The district attorney disputes
the Brno court's decision that the attack was not racially motivated,
which would have carried a higher sentence, according to laws on
racially motivated crimes adopted earlier this year, just after the Brno
murder. The Czech man received a 12-year sentence, but could have
received 15 if convicted of a racially motivated murder. Meanwhile, a 26
December feature in The New York Times on the Czech citizenship law and
discriminatory practices towards Roma challenged the common view of the
Czech Republic as a "bastion of tolerance." It said that UN officials
are concerned about the precedents such policies could set for other
countries preparing new citizenship laws, such as Croatia and Macedonia,
although it did not mention similar discriminatory policies and
practices that exist in some Western countries. -- Alaina Lemon

CZECH TRADE AND CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICITS AGAIN RISE SHARPLY . . . The
Czech Republic in November recorded its third highest monthly current
account deficit of the year, according to figures released by the
Statistics Office on 27 December. The shortfall in November was 10.6
billion koruny ($398 million), compared with 12 billion koruny ($451
million) in October, the worst result so far this year. For the first 11
months of 1995, the cumulative trade deficit was 86.7 billion koruny
($3.26 billion), more than seven times higher than for the same period
last year. In November, imports were 29.6% higher than in November 1994,
while exports were only 10.7% higher. -- Steve Kettle

. . . WHILE SLOVAKIA RECORDS TRADE DEFICIT, CURRENT ACCOUNT SURPLUS.
Slovakia recorded a foreign trade deficit of 542 million koruny ($18.31
million) in November, but its current account for the first 11 months of
1995 remained in surplus, at 3.3 billion koruny ($111.5 million), Sme
reported on 28 December. Imports in November were 22.8 billion koruny
while exports were 22.3 billion koruny. -- Steve Kettle

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SARAJEVO DISENGAGEMENT COMPLETED. IFOR authorities on 27 December said
that Bosnian Serb and government forces ended their withdrawal from 40
key frontline positions, two hours ahead of schedule. The VOA's Serbian
Service called it "the first big test" for NATO in its efforts to
supervise the disengagement of forces in line with the Dayton agreement.
The BBC noted that both sides cooperated in the first stage of setting
up a "zone of separation" despite the difficulties in executing such a
pullback in a city. The next deadline is 19 January, when a two-
kilometer zone is to be set up and demined. -- Patrick Moore

MLADIC ABUSED FRENCH PILOTS. The French Defense Ministry on 27 December
admitted that Bosnian Serb forces had mistreated the two French airmen
captured at the end of August and released on 12 December, news agencies
reported. The ministry thus went back on previous official statements
that the men had been well treated, but it denied charges in Le Canard
Enchaine that the authorities had forced the pilots to lie about what
had happened. They were kicked, beaten, isolated in ice-cold bunkers,
and put through mock executions. Indicted war criminal General Ratko
Mladic, the pilots said, "was the boss from beginning to end. He decided
what our fate would be," threatening to torture and kill them. The Serbs
kicked the men's injured legs and threw them only occasional food. The
revelations again fueled speculation that the French made a deal to free
them, involving plea-bargaining for Mladic at the Hague war crimes
tribunal or better terms for the Sarajevo Serbian suburbs. -- Patrick
Moore

INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS PROTESTS LACK OF ACCESS TO PRISONERS.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officials warned on 27
December that all sides were violating provisions of the peace accord
related to the exchange of prisoners of war, Hina reported the same day.
During the recent release of 245 prisoners (See OMRI Daily Digest, 27
December 1995), both the Bosnian Serb and government forces denied the
ICRC access to prisoners as set down in the Dayton agreement. The VOA's
Serbian Service reported that the ICRC stated that prisoners have been
released without a prior interview with Red Cross officials and that
such releases amount to an expulsion. The ICRC lists 700 to 800
prisoners, but this number is not final because its officials have not
had unimpeded access to all prisons and detention camps. -- Patrick
Moore and Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN HIGH COURT RULES FOR GOVERNMENT, AGAINST COUNCILMEN. The
Constitutional Court on 27 December rejected the appeal by 45 newly-
elected councilmen from opposition parties against the government's
decision to annul their work in the Zagreb City and County Councils (See
OMRI Daily Digest, 18 December 1995), Hina reported the same day. The
Court upheld the government's case and ruled that a new constituent
session should be held on 2 January. Should that fail, the government
will appoint its own administrator for Zagreb and new elections will be
called. Meanwhile, negotiations between the government and opposition
are underway about a compromise solution, but the opposition has made
clear that it will insist on holding the mayor's job, Novi list wrote on
28 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic

UPDATE ON IFOR ARRIVAL IN BOSNIA. AFP reported on 28 December that
35,000 IFOR soldiers were deployed on the territory of former
Yugoslavia, with 28,000 in Bosnia and the rest in Croatia. In spite of
bad weather and the difficulties inherent in coordinating 60,000
soldiers from 32 countries, more than 50% of IFOR's scheduled personnel
are in the area only a week after NATO started its biggest military
operation, a NATO spokesman said on 27 December. Most of the soldiers
there are British and French who had already served with UNPROFOR. Out
of 20,000 Americans, only 1,400 have arrived, Nasa Borba reported on 28
December. -- Daria Sito Sucic

NASTY WEATHER HITS WESTERN BALKANS . . . Heavy rains held up U.S. troops
in building two pontoon bridges over the Sava River, while floods
following a dam burst wiped out a French Foreign Legion base near
Mostar. The men were evacuated by helicopter, news agencies reported.
But an Italian policeman was killed in a road accident and military
vehicles were washed away. The French have evacuated 600 Muslims from
Mostar amid fears that another dam may burst. The Muslim authorities
wanted to burst the dam as a preventive measure but local Croat
officials refused. Meanwhile, widespread flooding cut off villages and
forced about 2,000 people to evacuate their homes in northern Albania,
Reuters reported on 27 December. At least 5,000 hectares of land were
submerged and hundreds of houses have been destroyed. High water is also
threatening two hydropower stations on the Drin River. -- Patrick Moore
and Fabian Schmidt

. . . AND ROMANIA. Several people were killed and hundreds of people
were forced to leave their homes by heavy floods that hit Romania this
week, Radio Bucharest reported on 26-27 December. Particularly affected
are the eastern, the northern, and northwestern parts of the country.
Rompres reported that the floods cut off telephone lines, water and
power supplies, and disrupted traffic in several counties. A government
press release said 1,369 dwellings had been flooded, six bridges were
destroyed, and numerous roads closed. -- Michael Shafir

POLL SHOWS ILIESCU WINNING IN 1996. A poll conducted by the Romanian
Institute for Public Opinion Surveying shows 67% of Romanians are of the
opinion that incumbent President Ion Iliescu will win the presidential
election scheduled for autumn 1996. Romanian television reported on 26
December that 57% believe Iliescu's party, the Party of Social Democracy
in Romania, will win the parliamentary elections to be held at the same
time. The report did not specify what proportion of respondents
mentioned the Democratic Convention of Romania or its candidate, Emil
Constantinescu, as likely to win the parliamentary and the presidential
elections, respectively. -- Michael Shafir

TRANSDNIESTRIAN ELECTIONS AND REACTIONS. According to data from Infotag
on 27 December, the results of the referendum that was held
concomitantly with parliamentary elections in the breakaway region of
Transdniester are slightly different from those reported the previous
day. The constitution was approved by 82.7% of the voters and 89.7% were
in favor of joining the CIS. Voter participation was 62.4%. Moldovan
President Mircea Snegur said the sole objectives of the vote were to
strengthen Tiraspol's position concerning independence and undermine
negotiations with Chisinau. He also attacked parliament chairman Petru
Lucinschi for publicly backing forces in the Transdniester that favor
the region's re-integration with Moldova instead of denouncing the
unconstitutionality of the exercise. Presidential adviser Victor Josu
told journalists in Chisinau that the presence, allegedly as observers,
of Russian Duma deputies in the Transdniester had been a "gross
violation of international law" and an "interference in the internal
affairs of the Republic of Moldova." On the other hand, Oleg Mirnov, who
headed the Duma delegation, spoke in the Tiraspol parliament, praising
the elections and stating that the referendum has shown the population's
"enthusiasm and wish for integration, first and foremost with Russia."
-- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVA, UKRAINE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Visiting
Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov and his Moldovan counterpart
Pavel Creanga signed in Chisinau on 27 December a number of agreements
on cooperation between their ministries. The first such agreements had
been signed in 1993 and since then ties had been successfully
developing. Shmarov said the proximity of the Transdniester region to
his country's borders makes Ukraine particularly interested in a
peaceful settlement of the conflict. Though Ukraine could
"theoretically" deploy peacekeeping units, it would prefer the conflict
to be settled by "political means, without military interference."
Smarov said that considering "the recent history of the former Russian
14th Army," the "current Russian contingent in Transdniester cannot
receive the status of a peacekeeping force." Such a force could be
provided by "other military units, maybe even an international force
that included CIS participation." Creanga said granting peacekeeping
status to the Russian contingent would lead to a violation of the 1992
agreement between Moscow and Chisinau. -- Michael Shafir

UDF BOYCOTTS BULGARIAN ASSEMBLY AS BNB SUCCESSION DISCUSSED. Trud on 27
December reported that the Governor of the Bulgarian National Bank,
Todor Valchev, has submitted his resignation for the third time.
Deputies from the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) on 22
December boycotted an extraordinary parliamentary session at which the
ruling socialists intended to approve his successor, Demokratsiya
reported on 23 December. The UDF motivated its action, which deprived
the parliament of a quorum, by noting that before voting on a successor,
parliament must pass amendments to the law on the BNB and ratify
Valchev's resignation. The BSP proposes replacing Valchev, whose term is
up in January, with Atanas Paparizov, a deputy minister in the last
communist regime, party member, and internationally respected economist
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 December 1995). In other news, Bulgarian
media on 22 December reported that Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski and his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias signed agreements
opening three new border checkpoints between the two countries and on
mutual rights over the Mesta river. -- Michael Wyzan and Stan Markotich

PROSECUTOR DEMANDS TWO YEARS PRISON IN ALBANIAN PRINTING MACHINE
SCANDAL. Tirana prosecutor Shkelqin Danaj demanded a two-year prison
sentence for former Zeri I Popullit editor in chief Perparim Xhixha,
Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 27 December. Xhixha is accused of
misappropriating $400,000 that were given to the daily in 1991 to buy a
printing machine in Canada, which never materialized. Xhixha's lawyers
argued that there is not enough evidence against him. -- Fabian Schmidt

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

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