Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 2, Part II, 3 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
ROW OVER MISSING MUSLIMS IN SARAJEVO. Controversy continues over the 16
Muslims the Bosnian government says were kidnapped by Bosnian Serbs in
the Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 January
1996). Serbian officials said they included several military men who had
been sent into the area to frighten Serbian civilians into fleeing and
leaving their property behind. They charged the government with "Muslim
terrorism" and trying to destabilize the Serbian communities. The
Bosnian government, for its part, asked IFOR to intervene and restore
freedom of movement. In a rare positive reference to UNPROFOR, the
government minister for relations with NATO, Hasan Muratovic, told the
BBC on 3 January that UNPROFOR at least managed to keep roads open with
its convoys. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE TO PRIVATIZE AUTO PLANT. Interfax reported on 2 January that
Ukraine will privatize its only automobile plant. The Avtozaz plant in
Zaporizhzhya produces 60,000 cars annually, most of which are exported
to Russia. Under the privatization plan, a quarter of the company will
remain in state hands; 41% of the shares will be offered to Ukrainian
investment companies and joint ventures; 12% will be offered to foreign
buyers; and Ukrainian citizens will be able to purchase five percent of
the plant with privatization vouchers. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. Belarusian trade unions and the government
agreed that as of 1 January the minimum weekly wage will be raised from
60,000 Belarusian rubles to 100,000, Radio Rossii reported the following
day. At the current exchange rate, which President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
promised to maintain, this raises the minimum wage from $5 to $8.70.
Lukashenka also spoke with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the
telephone and suggested the two countries start the new year with a
"zero option," under which all debts between Russia and Belarus would be
canceled. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF CULTURE REESTABLISHED. As part of the new law on
government passed on 14 December, the Ministry of Culture and Education
began working as two separate ministries from the beginning of the year,
ETA reported on 2 January. New Minister of Culture Jaak Allik noted that
the ministry has about 50 employees. It will receive 543 million kroons
($47 million) from the state budget in 1996. Most of these funds will
finance Estonian Television, Estonian Radio, the National Library, and
theaters. -- Saulius Girnius

MORE ON LITHUANIAN BANKING CRISIS. President Algirdas Brazauskas met on
2 January with Premier Adolfas Slezevicius, Bank of Lithuania President
Kazys Ratkevicius, and various law officials to discuss the
implementation of the Seimas law of 29 December on solving banking
problems, BNS reported. One step in complying with its directive to
report by 20 January on the progress in recovering the "bad loans" of
the Litimpeks Bank and Joint-Stock Innovative Bank (LAIB) was made by
issuing a subpoena for Jonas Urka, who had received loans worth $25
million from the LAIB. News that Slezevicius withdrew his deposits from
the LAIB two days before its activities were frozen have prompted calls
for his resignation. -- Saulius Girnius

MORE ON THE OLEKSY AFFAIR. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, in a
radio interview on 2 January, rejected pressures to step down while
allegations concerning his contacts with the Soviet and Russian secret
services are clarified. He said that he was unable to interfere with the
work of the secret services that "concocted this type of aggression"
against him, so there would not be any interference now when
supplementary documents are provided. New Internal Affairs Minister
Jerzy Konieczny said in a radio interview on the same day that he has
reviewed "in an introductory reading" the documents referring to Oleksy
and "with necessary precautions" he would consider reacting differently
than former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski, who on 19
December deposited the documents in the military prosecutor's office and
initiated the proceedings that may lead to a formal accusation. -- Jakub
Karpinski

PROSECUTORS TO INVESTIGATE POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES' EDUCATION.
The Warsaw Prosecutor's Office on 2 January instituted an investigation
relating to information on the education of current President Aleksander
Kwasniewski and former President Lech Walesa, and also of a candidate in
the 1990 presidential elections, former Prime Minister Tadeusz
Mazowiecki. Kwasniewski and Mazowiecki were described on presidential
ballot lists as having a university degree, Walesa was described as
having finished a primary trade school. All three claims are questioned.
Mazowiecki says he never said he had a university degree. In the wake of
the 1995 presidential elections, almost 600,000 protests against
Kwasniewski's election referred to misinformation concerning his
university degree. -- Jakub Karpinski

CENTER TO OPEN FOR STUDY OF ROMA KILLED IN WWII. Brzezinka, a section of
the Auschwitz prison camp, will house a center for the study and
documentation of Romani extermination during World War II, international
media reported on 2 January. The center will contain a library and
archives of war documents. There are estimated to be between 20,000 and
70,000 Roma in Poland, fewer than in other countries in the region. The
center will make international contacts with other Holocaust centers and
museums, and will be funded by U.S. and German sources as well as by the
Polish Ministry of Culture and private donations. Up to 80% of Roma
living in the occupied territories (a similar proportion as of Jews) may
have been killed during the war, and it has been more difficult for Roma
than for others to obtain reparations, partly because Germany claimed
until the 1960s that they were interned as "asocials" and not according
to racial criteria. -- Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
(HZDS) on 2 January issued a statement criticizing President Michal
Kovac's speech delivered the previous day. Denouncing Kovac's evaluation
of 1995 as "a year of political retaliation," the HZDS alleged that
since its establishment, the party has been acting in accordance with
"Christian moral principles and patriotism," Slovenska Republika
reported. According to a poll carried out by the FOCUS agency in
December, 65% of Slovaks have confidence in the Constitutional Court,
making it the most trustworthy institution in Slovakia. The presidency
is next with 59%, followed by the parliament with 53%, and the
government with 42%. Support for the Constitutional Court rose 4% over
the previous year, but trust in the other three institutions fell,
Narodna obroda reported on 3 January. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK MEDIA DEVELOPMENTS. The first edition of the daily Nova Smena
mladych appeared on newsstands on 2 January. The editor-in-chief is
Maros Puchovsky, who previously held that same position at the weekly
Zmena, which was found by a Slovak court to be anti-Semitic. The current
government gave a 15 million koruny grant to Nova Smena mladych in
November, and the paper gained another 35 million koruny from the 1996
state budget, making it the only Slovak daily which receives budget
subsidies, Narodna obroda reported on 3 January. In other news, a FOCUS
poll taken in December showed that 44.1% of Slovaks read the tabloid-
style daily Novy cas, 27.9% read the left-wing Pravda, and 18.1% read
the liberal opposition daily Sme/Smena. Readership of the HZDS-owned
Slovenska Republika was down to 11.8%, Sme reported on 27 December. --
Sharon Fisher

UPDATE ON KIDNAPPING OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. According to a Sme
report on 3 January, a former agent of the Slovak Information Service
has filed charges against Major Jozef Ciz, who is currently in charge of
the investigation into the abduction of Michal Kovac Jr. in August.
Oskar F., who was pardoned by the president in November after confessing
that he and other SIS agents were involved in the kidnapping, filed the
charges based on an interview Ciz gave to Slovak Radio on 11 December.
By using Oskar F.'s full name in the interview, Ciz informed the public
of private information and thereby "endangered my security and the
security of my family," Oskar F. said. This is the most recent of
numerous law suits relating to the Kovac Jr. case. -- Sharon Fisher

PERRY AND SHALIKASHVILI VISIT HUNGARY'S TASZAR AIRBASE. U.S. Defense
Secretary William Perry and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.
John Shalikashvili visited the U.S. IFOR forces headquarters in southern
Hungary's Taszar logistics base on 2 January, Hungarian and
international media reported. Perry expressed optimism about the Bosnian
peace effort and Shalikashvili noted that Hungarians had thus far shown
efficiency in the Partnership for Peace project and their current
cooperation shows that they can rise to a challenge quickly. Perry's
visit is part of a seven-day tour of Europe and the Middle East to size
up the U.S. contribution towards the peace process in Bosnia and between
Israelis and Palestinians. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ADMIRAL SMITH SAYS "BANDITRY" IS NOT IFOR'S BUSINESS. AFP quoted a U.S.
State Department spokesman as calling the reports of the abductions of
16 Muslims (see Top Story) "troubling." But IFOR's commander, Admiral
Leighton Smith, told Bosnian Serb television on 2 January that dealing
with missing persons and freedom of movement are the functions of the
yet-to-be-established police force, not of his troops. Some observers
suggested, however, that IFOR's mandate is so tough that Smith could
make the abductions his business if he so chose. The BBC said that the
Serbs are testing the will of the international community, and that if
they can get away with a little bit in Sarajevo now, they will get away
with much more in the towns and valleys later. Reuters reported the next
day that NATO and Bosnian Serb representatives will meet to discuss the
abductions. -- Patrick Moore

IFOR DEPLOYMENT GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN. Hina noted on 3 January that
the arrival of U.S. forces is moving along on or ahead of schedule. Some
3,500 American troops have arrived in Bosnia to date as the countdown
proceeds to the 19 January deadline for the separation of hostile
forces. Reuters noted that the various armies are busy removing up to
seven million land mines in keeping with the Dayton agreement. In his
confidence-building press conference on Bosnian Serb television, Admiral
Smith said that the foreign Islamic fighters backing the Bosnian
government were leaving in large numbers. Reuters also discussed the
problems of post-traumatic stress disorder among Sarajevans. -- Patrick
Moore

IZETBEGOVIC ANGRY OVER NEW YEAR'S FESTIVITIES. Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic said he felt "uncomfortable" watching pictures of revelry in
restaurants and cafes on state-run television. These included behavior
and symbols "strange to our people," such as Christmas trees, Santa
Claus figures, and ornaments on tables sinking with food and drink. AFP
on 3 January quoted him as saying that the hard partying was limited to
a tiny minority: "only a few impudent and callous ones dared to get
plastered and to grimace in front of the cameras as if nothing has
happened while the graves and wounds are still fresh." He also attacked
broadcasters for allegedly approving of "European vices such as alcohol,
drugs and pornography." Religious conservatives around Izetbegovic may
find it difficult to convince the Bosnian Muslims -- a secular European
people -- to continue the habits of wartime austerity now that peace has
returned. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN OPPOSITION TRIUMPHS IN ZAGREB LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Opposition
parties on 2 January succeeded in electing Goran Granic of the Croatian
Social Liberal Party (HSLS) mayor of the capital and Zdravko Tomac of
the Social Democratic Party (the reformed communists) as speaker of the
county assembly. This followed over a month of obstruction by President
Franjo Tudjman and deputies from his Croatian Democratic Community
(HDZ). Nasa Borba wrote on 3 January that it was unexpected that the HDZ
legislators ended their boycott and let the government get on with its
work. The HDZ is a minority in both bodies but has enough votes to block
a quorum. Its leaders apparently realized they had no hope of persuading
the HSLS to join them in a coalition or in improving their standing by
forcing new elections. Tomac told the Feral Tribune that the future of
Croatian democracy would be made or broken in Zagreb. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN OPPOSITION AHEAD . . .  A survey conducted in November and
reported in Nasa Borba on 3 January showed that opposition leaders and
their parties are most popular with rump Yugoslav youth who plan to vote
in upcoming elections. In the poll of some 1,200 college and university
students, 26.8% of respondents chose Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic
Party of Serbia (DSS). Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party (DS) gained
22.8%, Vojislav Seselj's ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS)
17.5%, and Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement 11.5%. Only 6.6%
said they would vote for Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's
Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), while a mere 2.8% intended to back
Mirjana Markovic, Milosevic's wife and head of a small leftist party. --
Stan Markotich

. . . OR IS IT? Serbia's youth, however, appear to be out of step with
broader public opinion. Also conducted in November, and reported in Nasa
Borba on 19 December under the banner "There's Nothing New in Serbia," a
survey of some 2,000 people revealed that most of the public favored the
status quo. Milosevic remained among the most popular political figures
for 50.9% of respondents. Also topping the list were accused war
criminals, with Bosnian Serb military leader General Ratko Mladic
receiving approval from 50% of respondents, and his civilian
counterpart, Radovan Karadzic, 36%. The most unpopular figures were
opposition leaders Seselj (65.9%), Draskovic (60.7%) and Djindjic
(57.3%). The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia remained the party of
choice for most voters. -- Stan Markotich

FLOODS CONTINUE IN ROMANIA. Heavy rains have continued to provoke floods
in various Romanian provinces, Radio Bucharest reported on 2 and 3
January. The rivers Mures, Crisul Alb and Crisul Negru have flooded
hundreds of hectares of agricultural land, dwellings, and local roads in
southern Transylvania and the Banat. Floods were also registered in
southern Romania, especially in the Dambovita, Prahova, and Olt
counties. Hundreds of families had to be evacuated, while an eight-year-
old boy reportedly drowned. Meanwhile, the Danube is expected to reach
critical levels on 3 and 4 January. -- Dan Ionescu

SIX BULGARIAN POLICEMEN CHARGED WITH MURDER. Bulgarian newspapers on 3
January reported that six policemen from Sofia were charged with the
murder of 22-year old Hristo Hristov. Hristov was arrested for theft on
5 April 1995 and died a few hours later in police custody. The autopsy
then showed that he died of a massive hemorrhage; he had a torn aorta
and several broken ribs as a result of severe beating. The six policemen
were arrested the following day and later placed under house arrest; if
convicted, they face up to 30 years in prison or the death penalty.
According to Duma, the indictment was issued on 27 December. -- Stefan
Krause

FORMER BULGARIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES VIDENOV. Andrey Lukanov of the
ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), in an interview with RFE's
Bulgarian Service on 2 January, accused "a group of people" within the
BSP and the government of waging a campaign against him for "clearly
materialistic reasons." Lukanov said they unjustly accuse him of being
hungry for power and of wanting to become prime minister again. He named
people in the government's press center and the financial group Orion,
which is said to be close to the government, as being behind this
campaign. Lukanov said that "the government has to put its house in
order" and said he expects Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to take a clear
position. Orion Chairman Nikola Krivoshiev, in an interview published by
24 chasa on 3 January, said Lukanov and others in the BSP have failed to
help Videnov ever since the BSP returned to power. He accused Lukanov of
wanting to use economic power to achieve political power. Until
September 1995, Krivoshiev held a 49% stake in the BSP daily Duma. --
Stefan Krause

GREEK SOCIALISTS CALL FOR PAPANDREOU'S REPLACEMENT. Senior members of
the governing Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on 2 January called
for the immediate replacement of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou,
Reuters reported the same day. They said a new premier has to be elected
in order to avoid a power vacuum both in the government and in PASOK.
Papandreou has been in hospital since 20 November 1995, and his lung and
kidney functions are supported by machines. Government spokesman
Tilemachos Hytiris said any move to elect a new prime minister is
unacceptable and unconstitutional; the premier can be replaced only if
he dies or resigns. Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis and former
Industry and Trade Minister Kostas Simitis are seen as the strongest
contenders to succeed Papandreou. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST PARTY TAKES NANO OFF ITS CANDIDATES LIST. The
Socialist Party scheduled its pre-election party congress for 23 March
1996 and decided to take imprisoned party leader Fatos Nano off the
candidates list for June's parliamentary elections, ATSH reported on 27
December. At a previous meeting, the party leadership reportedly decided
that a number of other legislators, who held office before 1991 and are
banned from running for parliament by the "genocide law" adopted in
September, will not attempt to stand again. They include Party General
Secretary and former Interior Minister Gramoz Ruci, transition
government Prime Minister Ylli Bufi, former Parliamentary Speaker
Kastriot Islami, former Finance Minister Leontiev Cuci, former Health
Minister Sabit Brokaj, former member of the Albanian Workers' Party's
Central Committee Dritero Agolli and former Culture Minister Moikom
Zeqo. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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            Copyright (C) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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