If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 1, Part II, 2 January 1996


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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
U.S. BRIDGES SAVA RIVER. Engineers on 30 December finished installing a
pontoon bridge over the raging river that forms a border between Croatia
and Bosnia. The BBC said the bridge is 500 meters long and the largest
one to be built by the U.S. army since World War II. AFP on 2 January
reported that some 200 vehicles had crossed into Bosnia already and that
the flow was deliberately slowed in order not to overtax the roads on
the Bosnian side. As this new route into Bosnia was opened, another
began closing: four years and thousands of tons of food after it was
first launched, the Sarajevo airlift is about to come to an end.
Finally, news agencies on 31 December reported that one U.S. soldier was
wounded by a land mine, making him the first American casualty in the
peace mission. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE TO PARTICIPATE IN BOSNIA OPERATIONS. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry
has announced that a Ukrainian contingent will participate in
peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovnia, Ukrainian TV reported on
30 December. Since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it was unclear
whether the unit would be subordinated to NATO commanders or would have
its own command. Ukraine will also offer use of military transport
aircraft to countries participating in the operation. Kiev took part in
UN peacekeeping missions in Bosnia over the past three-and-a-half years,
but when NATO announced that operations would have to be funded by each
participant, Ukraine considered pulling its troops out. The Foreign
Ministry acknowledged that it will have to provide funding for the
Ukrainian contingent and said it is seeking financial aid from other
participants. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT REMAINS MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN IN BELARUS.
According to an opinion poll conducted by the Minsk-based sociological
research service Novak, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
remains the most popular politician in the country, NTV reported on 29
December. The poll indicated that 38% of the electorate would vote for
Lukashenka if he were to run for president today. Former Prime Minister
Vyacheslau Kebich gained only 3% support; former parliamentary speaker
Stanislau Shushkevich 7%, and leader of the nationalist opposition
Zyanon Paznyak 6.8%. All three had competed with Lukashenka for the
Presidency in 1994. In other news, Belarusian TV on 28 December quoted
leader of the Civic Party caucus Stanislau Bahdankevich as saying the
caucus is ready to support the president and government if they draw up
and implement a reform program. -- Ustina Markus

LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS. The Central Electoral Commission has
published the official results of local by-elections held on 29 November
and 10 December. A total of 913 local deputies were elected, fulfilling
the two-thirds quorum for local sessions to be able to convene,
Belarusian Radio reported on 28 December. -- Ustina Markus

16,674 PEOPLE RECEIVE ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP IN 1995. The Citizenship and
Migration Department announced that Estonian citizenship was given to
16,674 people in 1995, BNS reported on 29 December. Two of them became
citizens under the new citizenship law that went into effect on 1 April
and the remainder under the 1938 law that it replaced. The number of
people given citizenship on the grounds of a language test was greater
than in 1994 indicating increased acceptance by aliens of the need to
learn Estonian. Some non-citizens who had voted in the 1990 elections to
the Congress of Estonia were also granted citizenship. -- Saulius
Girnius

LATVIA OPENS INTERNMENT CAMP FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Interior Minister
Dainis Turlais and Swedish Ambassador Andreas Adahl on 28 December
opened an internment camp for illegal immigrants, LETA reported the next
day. The new facilities in the town of Olaine, 30 kilometers from Riga,
are meant for 70 to 80 people but could house up to 200 people in an
emergency. Some 132 Asian migrants were moved to the camp from a former
prison in Olaine. The Latvian government has spent some 360,000 lati
($670,000) on construction costs while Sweden has supplied bedding and
other needed furniture. Latvia has been unable to find any country
willing to accept illegal immigrants on its territory. -- Saulius
Girnius

LITHUANIAN PROGRAMS TO NORTH AMERICA TO BE TRANSMITTED FROM GERMANY.
Lithuanian Radio and TV officials have signed a two-year contract with
Deutsche Welle for the use of transmitters located near Frankfurt to
broadcast its shortwave programs to North America from 1 January 1996,
Radio Lithuania reported on 29 December. The previous transmission of
the daily 30-minute programs by Russian transmitters near Krasnodar cost
300,000 litai ($75,000) a year. The new contract provides for the
transmission of a 60-minute daily program for some 296,000 litai. --
Saulius Girnius

NEW MINISTERS IN POLAND. Professor of law Jerzy Konieczny, who headed
the State Protection Office in 1992-1993, replaced Andrzej Milczanowski
as internal affairs minister on 29 December. The same day, Dariusz
Rosati, a professor of law and communist party member from 1966-1990 who
since 1991 worked in the analysis department of the UN's economic
commission in Geneva, replaced Wladyslaw Bartoszewski as foreign affairs
minister. Stanislaw Dobrzanski's appointment as defense minister to
replace Zbigniew Okonski is still pending, Polish and international
media reported on 2 January. Milczanowski, Bartoszewski, and Okonski
were former President Lech Walesa's supporters who stepped down with him
on 22 December. -- Jakub Karpinski

RUSSIAN TV ON OLEKSY AFFAIR. Gazeta Wyborcza on 2 January reported that
the Russian TV program "De facto" the previous day was devoted to the
spy accusations against Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy. General Vitalii
Pavlov, a KGB representative in Poland from 1973-1984, said his
instructions from Yurii Andropov, at the time head of the KGB, were not
to recruit informers among Poles. But Leonid Lusin, who made the
program, commented that in the socialist era, high-ranking communist
party officials--including Oleksy--aspired to have the best possible
contacts with local KGB representatives. There is thus nothing strange
in the fact that Oleksy was meeting Soviet, and later perhaps even
Russian, intelligence representatives," Lusin said. -- Jakub Karpinski

HAVEL SAYS CZECH "MORAL CLIMATE" MUST CHANGE. President Vaclav Havel, in
his televised New Year's Day address, bemoaned property and financial
speculation, the growth in crime and racism, and "many other matters
that force us to consider whether our society is healthy." He said the
"moral climate" in the country must change, adding that the Czech
Republic's successful political economic changes in the past years "will
not be worth much if a moral jungle predominates among people." He said
the state should take better care of "socially sensitive" questions such
as housing and the environment. However, Havel added that he hoped
Czechs would vote in this year's parliamentary and Senate elections for
candidates and parties that will continue the reforms of the past years
and not for those who "parrot the ideas of others and long for the
benefits of power." -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS. Michal Kovac, speaking on Slovak
Television on 1 January, called on the coalition to be tolerant of its
critics. "Suppressing critics, calling them traitors or enemies, is
considered the first step toward a totalitarian regime," Kovac warned.
Kovac called 1995 a "year of political retaliation." He said "the
existence of fear is the most convincing argument that politics has
overstepped the limits defined by democratic practice and no longer
serves citizens." Kovac rejected attempts by "some political circles" to
equate national interests with one political party. "Our real national
interest is to integrate into the uniting Europe . . . together with our
neighbors, in the first stage," he stressed. Kovac expressed optimism at
continuing economic growth but noted that it should not be
overestimated. "Until the economic results are reflected in the
population's living standards, it is only a potential victory," he said.
-- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN TROOPS PREPARE FOR MISSION TO BOSNIA, CROATIA. Hungary's 400-
member peacekeeping contingent of army engineers is preparing to join
NATO forces in mid-January, Reuters reported on 29 December. According
to unit spokesman Major Emil Varadi, the Hungarian contingent will build
bridges over the Sava River and roads in northern Bosnia. The Hungarian
unit, which will be equipped with light weapons, will work with British
troops and help defend them if they come under attack. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NO DELAY IN HANDOVER OF SERBIAN SUBURBS. IFOR commander Admiral Leighton
Smith said on 30 December that he has no authority to grant the 80-day
extension to the deadline for the transfer of the Serb-held Sarajevo
suburbs as requested by the Bosnian Serb leadership. The BBC said he
wrote parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik that IFOR would nonetheless
provide security for the Serbs. The broadcast called Smith's decision "a
major setback for the Bosnian Serb leadership." -- Patrick Moore

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER LINKS AID TO COOPERATION WITH TRIBUNAL. Klaus
Kinkel issued a statement on New Year's Day saying that reconstruction
aid to the various sides in the Bosnian conflict should be tied to their
willingness to assist the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia based in the Hague, international media reported. To date,
seven Croats and 45 Serbs have been indicted, the most important of whom
are Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his military
counterpart, General Ratko Mladic. Kinkel added that "reconstruction aid
must if necessary be linked to legal action taken against war criminals
who, if they fall into the hands of the troops of the NATO peace
Implementation Force, must be arrested and handed over to the relevant
authorities. For the establishment of a stable and lasting peace it is
important that justice be done [on behalf of] the victims of war crimes
and that the latter appear before a tribunal as defendants. Maintaining
the accused in their present jobs would jeopardize the peace process."
-- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERBS RESCUE U.S. HELICOPTER CREW. IFOR has not written off a
possible threat from foreign Islamic fighters still in Bosnia, but the
Serbs, Croats, and Muslims have been going out of their way to be
helpful. Reuters reported on 28 December that Bosnian Serb villagers
from Sibovska in northern Bosnia provided a U.S. helicopter crew and
guards with heat and shelter that saved them from a brutal blizzard
after the helicopter landed because of transmission problems. The
Americans declined offers of local plum brandy but praised the Serbs as
"heroes." One Serb said he hoped the encounter on Christmas Day would
show foreigners that the Serbs are not "the barbarians we are made out
to be," while another added that "we are civilized people and we act
like normal people." -- Patrick Moore

DID SARAJEVO SERBS SEIZE 11 CIVILIANS? Bosnian government minister Hasan
Muratovic on 1 January said that Serbs from Ilidza, a Serb-held Sarajevo
suburb, have in the past week seized 11 civilians who were traveling on
roads around Sarajevo opened recently by NATO, Reuters reported. Their
fate is not known. NATO said it knew nothing about the incidents and
noted that civilian police authorities were responsible for launching
investigations. Muratovic called for a change in the IFOR mandate that
would allow the force to deal with terrorism. He added that the Bosnian
government may ban its citizens from passing through Ilidza until those
captured are released and IFOR gives guarantees of safety, the BH news
agency reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES RECONSTRUCTION IN 1996... Slobodan Milosevic,
in his New Year's address, has promised the public that 1996 will usher
in a period of economic stability and renewal, AFP reported on 30
December, citing official Tanjug reports. "Peace has been achieved. . .
. I expect the next year to be a year of economic revival, increased
employment, and an increase in the standard of living," he said.
Milosevic added that 1996 will witness a crusade against "criminality"
and a crackdown on those elements that have profited from violating
sanctions. Hinting at how Belgrade will deal with the question of
refugees who flooded into the rump Yugoslavia, he said "I expect . . .
[the refugees'] return will become especially intense following the
first free and democratic elections in the Serbian Republic and the
Muslim-Croat federation." -- Stan Markotich

. . . WHILE MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT PLEDGES UNITY. Meanwhile, Momir
Bulatovic has stressed that relations between Montenegro and Serbia were
sound at the close of 1995, Montena-fax reported on 31 December. Serbia
and Montenegro "have to build on their unity . . . ; some 90% of our
citizens want Montenegro to be in the [rump] Yugoslavia," he said.
Bulatovic, who previously outlined the benefits of autonomy for
Montenegro, seems intent on further backtracking from policies that
might lead to conflicts between Podgorica and Belgrade. -- Stan
Markotich

RUGOVA AIMS FOR DIALOGUE. Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova
said he is working intensively on establishing a dialogue with Belgrade,
BETA reported on 29 December. He commented that the U.S. will have to
play a key role in solving the Kosovo conflict and that Tirana also
supports negotiations taking place under an independent mediator. At the
same time, he admitted that there are differences between the Albanian
government and the Kosovar shadow-state but added that these are
"insignificant." Albanian President Sali Berisha has called for a
solution that recognizes international borders, while the Kosovars have
unilaterally declared independence from Belgrade. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIAN PRESIDENT GRANTS AMNESTY TO 455 PEOPLE. Franjo Tudjman marked
the holidays by granting an amnesty to 455 persons who were arrested
during and after Operation Storm in Krajina, Novi list reported on 2
January. They were released from prisons on 31 December. Those amnestied
had not been charged with war crimes, while another 244 arrested at the
same time were not included in the amnesty. The same day, 88 Croatian
citizens were released from a prison under a separate amnesty. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

MELESCANU ON ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN PARLEYS . . . Romanian Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu, speaking at a press conference in Bucharest on 29
December, said Hungary's response to President Ion Iliescu's proposals
for a "historic reconciliation" includes some aspects that were not part
of Bucharest's original proposal. He added that as a result,
implementation may be delayed. With regard to the Hungarian-Romanian
basic treaty, Hungary insists on including Recommendation 1201 and a
more detailed definition of autonomy based on ethnic criteria and
collective rights, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. -- Michael
Shafir

. . . AND ON FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVES FOR 1996. Melescanu also said
that Romania's main foreign-policy objectives for this year are the
country's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, consolidating
relations with the EU and neighboring countries, and concluding basic
treaties with Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav
republics. He noted that parleys with Russia will not be influenced by
that country's December elections, adding that Romania continues to
insist that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact be condemned in the treaty with
Russia. With regard to Ukraine, he said the dispute over Serpent Island
was about the delimitation of territorial waters and should not be seen
as constituting a territorial claim on Ukraine. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION TO START NEXT WEEK. Bulgarian newspapers on 29
December reported that the mass voucher privatization program is
scheduled to start on 9 January. One million vouchers have already been
printed and will be sold in post offices throughout the country. For a
registration fee of 500 leva ($7), adults can obtain vouchers with a
nominal value of up to 25,000 leva ($354) that can then be exchanged for
shares in 1,300 state enterprises totaling about 200 billion leva ($2.8
billion). About half the enterprises are in industry, while most of the
remainder are in tourism, agriculture, and construction. -- Stefan
Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT'S NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS. Zhelyu Zhelev, speaking to
Bulgarian citizens on 31 December, called for, among other things, a
crackdown on crime and a program of land restitution whereby farmers
would become "truly free and economically independent." Zhelev called on
the parliament to pass legislation on health insurance and the state-run
media. He also told the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party "to stop
being afraid of and threatening others with the word NATO; after all, we
are going into 1996 and not 1956." Trud published the address on 2
January. -- Stefan Krause

AMNESTY IN ALBANIA. Albanian President Sali Berisha has decreed a New
Year amnesty for 90 prisoners, including Socialist Party leader Fatos
Nano and the widow of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha, international
agencies reported on 30 December. Nano's sentence was reduced by eight
months, which leaves him with more than two years to serve. His 12-year
sentence for the misappropriation of Italian aid funds has been
repeatedly reduced in amnesties and appeals. Nexhmije Hoxha's nine-year
prison term has been shortened by six months. She was convicted in
January 1993 for misappropriating state funds and for abuse of power. As
a result of previous amnesties, she now has only two years left to
serve. Former Politburo member Lenka Cuko, sentenced for abuse of power,
was freed. The remaining 87 prisoners had committed crimes such as
robbery and theft. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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            Copyright (C) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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