No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 4, Part I, 5 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
SARAJEVO ABDUCTIONS IMBROGLIO CONTINUES. International media on 4
January reported that Bosnian Serbs released the 16 Muslims they had
been holding in Ilidza. The first three men freed said they had been
held in a converted toilet and kicked and beaten. The BBC added that
some of the 16 blamed IFOR for leaving them in the lurch. AFP noted that
the Serbs appear to have achieved at least one thing; namely,
intimidating other Muslims into not entering their territory despite the
Dayton agreement's stipulations on freedom of movement. Civilian affairs
coordinator Carl Bildt held talks with the Serbs on the evening of 3
January. The BBC on 5 January quoted a Bosnian official as saying that
three more persons have been captured and held by the Serbs. AFP said
they were a Croat, a Muslim, and a Serb. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

PERRY, GRACHEV IN KIEV. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry and
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev arrived in Ukraine on 3 January
for talks with their Ukrainian counterpart, Valerii Shmarov,
international agencies reported the following day. The three leaders
held bilateral meetings among themselves and later met with President
Leonid Kuchma. Perry and Shmarov signed an agreement on closer military
cooperation with Ukraine. Grachev proposed that Russia and Ukraine
prolong the period of joint control over the Black Sea Fleet, which
expired at the beginning of the year. He said that the removal of
nuclear weapons was proceeding according to plan, with only 26% of
Ukraine's original nuclear warheads still in the country. Speaking to
officers at a Ukrainian military college on 3 January, Grachev warned
that Russians would be "obliged to re-examine our views on the role and
place of tactical nuclear weapons [and] review our treaty obligations in
the military sphere" should NATO expand into Eastern Europe. -- Ustina
Markus and Doug Clarke

MONETARY REFORM IN UKRAINE. Presidential adviser Volodymyr Kuznetsov has
said monetary reform may take place in Ukraine this year, Radio Mayak
reported on 4 January. Kuznetsov went on to say that the new national
currency, the hryvna, will not be introduced until inflation falls
between 40-50% annually. He also said that Ukrainian citizens will
receive one hryvna for 10,000 or 100,000 karbovantsy. The largest
denomination will be a 200 hryvna bill. Due to inflation, Ukraine has
been printing karbovantsy bills as large as 1 million. -- Ustina Markus

PROTEST OVER BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S PRESSURE ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
CHIEF. The newspaper Zvyazda on 4 January published an open letter from
135 of the 198 newly elected deputies protesting Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
pressure on Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Valerii Tikhinya
to resign, Radio Rossii reported. The deputies wrote that the president
did not have the right to dismiss judges. Among those who signed the
letter were deputies from the communist and agrarian parties, the
democratic caucus, and many independents. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Raul Malk
on 4 January said Russia has not yet supplied updated lists of its
retired military in Estonia, as required by the agreements signed in
July 1994, ETA reported. Lists supplied by Russia in 1994 contained the
names of 10,517 retired officers, of whom only 1,600 were under 50. A
Russian embassy official in Tallinn said the updated list will soon be
given to Estonia and will contain the names of about 9,000 officers;
about 1,000 have emigrated since the last list appeared. Malk also noted
that the date for exchanging ratification letters on the July 1994
agreements is unclear since he has not received notification that
President Boris Yeltsin has signed the law on ratification passed by the
Russian parliament. -- Saulius Girnius

NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST BANK OF LITHUANIA CHAIRMAN. Gediminas
Kirkilas, chairman of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP)
caucus, on 4 January said LDDP deputies will support the party's no-
confidence motion against Kazys Ratkevicius, BNS reported. Prime
Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, who had said earlier that he would try to
convince the caucus not to remove Ratkevicius, refused to comment on
Kirkilas's statement. But he added that the Bank of Lithuania "did not
do its job of surveillance [of commercial banks] properly." Opposition
parties have not yet decided how they will vote on the no-confidence
motion. -- Saulius Girnius

PARLIAMENTARY HEARINGS ON OLEKSY AFFAIR. High-ranking Polish
intelligence and counter-intelligence representatives--including Marian
Zacharski, the communist spy who was caught and sentenced in the U.S. in
the 1980s-- on 4 January testified to a special Sejm commission
investigating spy allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy.
Wiktor Fonfara, head of the Internal Affairs Ministry investigation
department, said ministry documents on Oleksy are "fully credible" and
were compiled during an investigation into the "foreign spy network,"
Polish dailies reported on 5 January. Meanwhile, Polish counter-
intelligence chief Col. Konstanty Miodowicz, who also testified before
the Sejm commission, told the press on 4 January that he resigned two
days earlier as "a result of very disadvantageous changes" in the
Internal Affairs Ministry. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH OPPOSITION DEPUTIES REQUEST REMOVAL OF PROSECUTOR-GENERAL.
Deputies from the Freedom Union have appealed to the Sejm's Legal
Commission to have the prime minister remove Prosecutor-General and
Minister of Justice Jerzy Jaskiernia. The deputies cited the dismissals
of two prosecutors who had wanted to launch an inquiry into President
Aleksander Kwasniewski for concealing his wife's shares in the Polisa
insurance company. Deputies from the Democratic Left Alliance and the
Polish Peasant Party say they back Jaskiernia, Polish dailies reported
on 5 January. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECHS, SLOVAKS MAKE BORDER CHANGES. Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml
and his Slovak counterpart, Ludovit Hudek, on 4 January signed a treaty
redefining the border between their countries, Czech media reported. If
ratified by both parliaments, the previous border will be reduced by 33
kilometers to 252 kilometers and 452 hectares of land will be exchanged.
Residents of a community in the Czech Republic that will become part of
Slovakia under the treaty have protested to the Czech Constitutional
Court that the transfer breaches the law on human rights. Ruml said the
residents will be compensated for moving house. The new border will also
run through a popular skiing area. Local police told Czech Television
they will take action against skiers who inadvertently cross the border.
-- Steve Kettle

DEPUTY BLAMES CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER FOR REBUFF. First Deputy Defense
Minister Petr Necas on 3 January said that Defense Minister Vilem Holan
failed to consult with his aides before submitting the text of a new
defense policy to the government, Prague Radio reported the next day.
Holan's plan was rejected as not being analytical enough. Necas, a
member of the ruling Civic Democratic Party, admitted that he had met
with Premier Vaclav Klaus after the cabinet meeting but refused to
present his own alternative. -- Doug Clarke

UPDATE ON CASE OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. Slovak Prosecutor-General
Michal Valo on 4 January confirmed that fraud charges were brought
against Michal Kovac Jr. and two others on 27 December (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 4 January 1996). Those charged are suspected of embezzling $2.3
million paid in advance by the Slovak firm Technopol for goods that were
never delivered. Kovac Jr.'s lawyer noted that his client "definitely
wants to stay in Slovakia while prosecuted." Valo said Kovac Jr. could
face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty. A poll carried out by
FOCUS in December showed that 55.7% of the population believe that Kovac
Jr.'s kidnapping was probably organized to weaken the position of his
father; 25.6% did not believe this was the case and 18.7% were
undecided. Only 10% thought Kovac Jr. organized the abduction himself,
Narodna obroda reported on 5 January. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PREMIER SEES HIMSELF IN GOOD COMPANY. Vladimir Meciar, during a
rally of some 2,500 Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) supporters
on 4 January, discussed the honorary doctorate that he recently received
from Moscow's Lomonosovov University. "In more than 200 years, the
university has awarded honorary degrees to 162 people. The first was
Goethe, the 161st was Clinton, and the 162nd was me," Meciar noted. --
Sharon Fisher

OPPOSITION PARTY ASKS HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT TO VETO MEDIA BILL. Jozsef
Torgyan, president of the Independent Smallholders' Party, told a news
conference on 4 January that President Arpad Goncz should not sign the
media bill, Hungarian newspapers reported. Torgyan said several
provisions are unconstitutional and violate the present multiparty
parliamentary democracy. Following a six-year debate, the bill brings
Hungarian media legislation in line with Western norms. A six-party
consensus on the bill was reached, but the Smallholders opposed it
during the parliamentary debate. The bill was nonetheless passed on 21
December, with the support of a large majority of deputies. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

NEW HIGHWAY OPENED IN HUNGARY. Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 4 January
opened Hungary's first toll highway, which links the Western town of
Gyor with Hegyeshalom on the Austrian border, Hungarian media reported.
The travel time between Budapest and Vienna has effectively been cut by
20 minutes. Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Slovak Transport
Minister Alexander Rezes attended the opening ceremony. The 43-kilometer
highway reportedly cost 37 billion forints ($264 million) to complete
and is the most expensive in Europe to use, with passenger cars paying
900 forints ($6-7) for a one-way fare. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIA, BOSNIA SIGN PACT. Presidents Franjo Tudjman and Alia
Izetbegovic signed a cooperation agreement in Sarajevo on 4 January,
Hina reported. The Bosnian leader said the meeting was at times "loud
and polemical but certainly very useful." Tudjman added that "there is
no more opposition but there are still problems to be solved." A joint
cooperation council was set up and will meet in a month to iron out some
remaining problems. Croatian-Muslim relations remain tense in Mostar,
however. AFP said on 5 January that two Muslim policemen were wounded
when their car was sprayed with machine gun fire from the Croatian
sector of the divided town. -- Patrick Moore

UNHCR RESUMES AID CONVOYS. UN relief officials have returned to their
mission in central Bosnia after Herzegovinian Croat officials agreed not
to try to tax their vehicles, Reuters reported on 5 January.
International media added that both President Bill Clinton and Pope John
Paul II plan to visit Bosnia soon. Nasa Borba on 4 January wondered what
the Americans will do about investigating the reported massacre of 6,000
Muslims by the Serbs in Srebrenica, which is in the U.S. sector. British
media said that the U.S. military have yet to arrive in Srebrenica and
are less than enthusiastic in becoming involved in what they regard as a
political issue. -- Patrick Moore

VOJVODINA HUNGARIANS SUPPORT AMNESTY. Nasa Borba on 5 January reported
that Andras Agoston, leader of the Democratic Community of Hungarians in
Vojvodina, has pledged he and his party will back proposed federal
legislation offering an amnesty to individuals who fled the country
rather than fight in the wars throughout the former Yugoslavia. The
previous day, the daily had reported that Srdjan Darmanovic, vice
president of the Social Democratic party of Montenegro, had endorsed
such legislation, saying conscientious objectors were "not deserters,
but the genuine patriots." -- Stan Markotich

ROCKY START TO OSCE ARMS CONTROL TALKS. Scheduled to begin on 4 January,
the OSCE arms control talks in Vienna did not get under way until 5
January after a disagreement over how the participatants were to be
designated, international media reported. The BBC reported that the
Bosnians objected to the nameplate given to the Bosnian Serbs, which,
they said, implied that the Serbs were a separate polity and not part of
a common Bosnian state. Vigleik Eide, who is chairing the talks, found a
solution acceptable to the five parties (rump Yugoslavia, Croatia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Muslim-Croatian federation, and the Republika
Srpska) by designating each as a representative to the "negotiations
among the parties to the Dayton agreement Annex 1b, Article 4." VOA's
Croatian Service quoted the Croatian ambassador to the OSCE as noting
that the Bosnian Serbs could not be put on the same diplomatic level as
the internationally recognized Bosnian government. -- Michael Mihalka
and Patrick Moore

MACEDONIA, TAJIKISTAN ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. The Macedonian and
Tajik ambassadors to Turkey on 4 January signed a protocol establishing
diplomatic relations between their countries, MIC reported the same day.
Meeting in Ankara, they stressed the need to examine the possibilities
of economic cooperation. -- Stefan Krause

FLOODS IN ROMANIA. Cornel Mitoiu of the State Waters Inspectorate on 4
January told Rompres that the current floods in Romania are worse than
those in 1970. He said 25 counties (out of 40) have been affected, with
thousands of hectares of farmland under water and several thousand homes
destroyed. Mitoiu added that it was too early to evaluate the overall
damage but suggested it may reach tens of billions of lei (tens of
millions of US dollars). Only two persons have so far died as a result
of the floods, which Mitoiu attributed to the precautionary measures and
the population's response. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Mircea Snegur on 3 January started a ten-
day vacation in the Romanian resort of Slanic Moldova, Radio Bucharest
reported. Snegur, who is accompanied by members of his family, is
expected to meet with representatives of the local authorities, the
ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and the Romanian
government. His bodyguards, however, have been instructed to keep
journalists away from his residence. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the
Moldovan Foreign Ministry on 4 January praised Romania's "consistent
stance over the Dniester issue" and support for Moldova's search for a
peaceful solution to the conflict in the Dniester region. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, INTELLECTUALS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Zhelyu Zhelev
is to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on what constitutes
censorship of the media and what the legal consequences are, Pari
reported on 5 January. He will also ask the court to decide what the
lack of a media law means in constitutional terms. Zhelev called on the
journalists from Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) who were dismissed
following their protest against BNR's management (see OMRI Daily Digest,
27 November and 19 December 1995) to appeal to European institutions.
Zhelev on 4 January took part in an round-table discussion among
intellectuals and writers on freedom of speech, 24 chasa reported. The
participants called on citizens to defend freedom of speech. -- Stefan
Krause

WILL BULGARIAN MINISTERS RESIGN? Unnamed leaders of the ruling Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP) are demanding a cabinet reshuffle, 24 chasa
reported on 5 January. According to Standart, Interior Minister Lyubomir
Nachev and Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba are ready to hand in
their resignations, but the BSP daily Duma denied those reports. Nachev
is under fire because of the high crime rate and Chichibaba because of
the ongoing grain shortage. Trud names Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
of Economic Development Rumen Gechev as likely victims of a cabinet
reshuffle. Meanwhile, Chichibaba said in an interview with RFE/RL's
Bulgarian Service on 4 January that there is a grain crisis but rejected
any personal responsibility. -- Stefan Krause

COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEETS ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS. Albanian journalists,
meeting with the heads of the Council of Europe's Legal and Human Rights
Commission and Political Commission, have expressed concern about the
freedom of the media in Albania. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party and
Democratic Alliance have submitted documents to the council that, they
say, prove "Albanians are going to the next general elections this year
with fewer freedoms and guaranties than in 1992 or in the 1994 popular
referendum on the constitution." They argue that two recently approved
laws on opening former communist files and banning high communist
officials from running for public office violate citizens' rights. CE
officials will issue a report to the council after their visit, Albanian
newspapers reported on 5 January. -- Fabian Schmidt

ITALIAN AMBASSADOR TO ALBANIA ANNOUNCES EU ASSOCIATION TALKS. Paolo
Foresti has said that Italy will use its EU Presidency to play a leading
role in helping Albania integrate into the EU, Gazeta Shqiptare reported
on 5 January. Speaking at a conference titled Albania's Atlantic
Association, he noted that a meeting is scheduled on 23-24 January in
Rome to begin the process of negotiating Albania's EU association. The
conference focused on Albania's relations with NATO as well as with
Italy. -- Fabian Schmidt

BOMB ATTACK ON TIRANA JUDGE'S HOUSE. A bomb attack on the house of Qazim
Gjonaj destroyed an armored door and parts of the wall, Albania reported
on 5 January. Nobody was injured in the attack, which was carried out
with industrial dynamite, normally used for mining. Police have launched
an investigation but did not speculate on possible motives for the
bombing. Gjonaj, however, said it might be related either to trials
against former communist officials or to criminal cases, including
disputes over land restitution. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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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