Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 9, Part II, 12 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CALLS FOR ACTION ON BOSNIAN MASS GRAVE SITE. International media on 12
January report strong reactions to an account in The New York Times that
the Serbs have disposed of 8,000 Muslims and Croats in a huge abandoned
mine in Ljubija in northwest Bosnia. The Sarajevo branch of the
International Committee of the Red Cross says the charges are "very
serious" and that it will launch an investigation. A British army
spokesman doubted published reports that British IFOR officers have
refused to deal with the matter. A U.S. NATO spokesman told Reuters
simply that "we are checking [the story] out." The VOA's Croatian
Service stated that the U.S. will demand that war crimes investigators
have access to the site, which is tightly guarded by the Bosnian Serbs.
The BBC quoted Bosnian government officials as saying that some 32,000
people were killed in or expelled from the area by the Serbs. -- Patrick
Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT PLANS RENT, UTILITY HIKES. The Ukrainian government
is planning to cut subsidies for rents and utilities so as to cover only
60% of the costs from 1 January and 80% as of 1 July, Ukrainian agencies
reported on 10 January. Leaders of the Ukrainian Federation of Trade
Unions have harshly criticized the planned hikes. Oleksander Stoyan said
they would further impoverish the population. He said average monthly
utility bills for a two-room flat would amount to 10 million karbovantsi
(around $55); the average monthly wage in Ukraine is only 8 million
karbovantsi. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CHORNOBYL HAS BEST SAFETY RECORD FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR. The
Ukrainian Environment Ministry has said Chornobyl had the best safety
record of Ukraine's five nuclear power plants for the second year in a
row, UNIAN reported on 10 January. Ministry officials said the station,
site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986, had the fewest
malfunctions (four in 1995, down from 15 in 1994). The Zaporizhzhia
atomic energy station had the worst record, with 61 accidents in 1995,
up from 36 the previous year. The total number of incidents was down in
1995, compared with 1994. Two accidents, including one at Chornobyl,
resulted in radiation leaks. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE WANTS COMPENSATION FOR TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Ukrainian
Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov told journalists that his ministry will
ask Russian and Ukrainian leaders to examine the issue of compensation
for tactical weapons removed from Ukraine in 1992, Ukrainian Radio
reported on 10 January. Shmarov said at his 5 January meeting with
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, that agreement had been reached
that the issue would be examined. Ukraine received no compensation for
the warheads, and the parliament has been agitating since for some form
of payment. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN DEPUTY ACCUSES MOSCOW OVER URANIUM. Deputy Piotr Krauchanka
has accused Russia of trying to appropriate uranium extracted from
strategic missiles withdrawn from Belarus, Ekho Moskvy reported on 11
January. According to Krauchanka, Moscow is concealing data on the
unranium in missiles withdrawn from Belarus and is taking the uranium
extracted from them. Krauchanka said Belarus could claim $1.5 billion
for the uranium. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA FERRY TO BE ENCAPSULED IN CEMENT. The Swedish Maritime Authority
on 11 January awarded a 296 million kronor ($45 million) contract to an
international consortium led by the Swedish building firm NCC to cover
the wreck of the ferry Estonia with a cement shell, Western agencies
reported. At least 852 people died when the ferry sank off the coast of
Finland in September 1994. Requests by the relatives of the victims to
recover the bodies have been rejected. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PREMIER ON COMPENSATION PAYMENTS. Adolfas Slezevicius told
Reuters on 11 January that all depositors of the Joint-Stock Innovative
and Litimpeks Banks will be compensated but that those with deposits of
5,000 litai or ($1,250) or less will be the first to get their money
back. About 35 million litai will be needed to satisfy these depositors,
who make up about 75% of the banks' total depositors. The government
plans to draw up regulations on returning the deposits by 1 February.
Meanwhile, four of the 12 World Bank and IMF experts who are to help
prepare a plan for restructuring the banks arrived in Vilnius that day
and will remain until 26 January, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH SEJM PASSES 1996 BUDGET. The Polish Sejm on 11 January passed the
1996 budget, which foresees a 17% increasein expenditures. The
government deficit is expected to reach 2.8% of GDP and the inflation
rate is forecast at 17%. The GDP is to expected to grow by 5.5%
(compared with 6.5% last year). Tax rates of up to 45% are still in
force for those with high incomes. The government in 1995 set the same
inflation target but ended up with 22%, Polish dailies reported on 12
January. -- Jakub Karpinski

ANOTHER CZECH BANK IN DIFFICULTIES. The Banking Council of the Czech
National Bank met in special session on 11 January after news that
Ekoagrobanka (EAGB) was in serious difficulties had caused panic among
its clients. Long lines formed outside EAGB's 79 branches across the
country following media reports that the central bank might put EAGB
into forced administration; but almost all the branches remained closed
on 11 January. EAGB is among the 10 largest banks in the Czech Republic,
with assets of around 19 billion koruny ($700 million) and some 150,000
clients, mainly individuals and small businesses. It has long had
problems with insufficient reserves to cover bad debts and losses from
securities trading. It is the fifth Czech bank to face serious financial
problems, but CNB officials said EAGB is unlikely to follow the example
of banks that have lost their banking licenses. -- Steve Kettle

ROMANI ORGANIZATION SAYS CZECH CITIZENSHIP LAW BLOCKS ROMANI PARTIES.
The Romani Citizens Initiative (ROI) has said it will not run in the
1996 Czech parliamentary elections because there is no chance of passing
the 5% hurdle. ROI representative Desider Balog told CTK on 11 January
that the 1993 citizenship law prevents many Roma from registering to
vote and that rather than wasting state election funds on a losing
candidate, ROI would consider a coalition with one of the mainstream
democratic parties or a party that would put a Romani candidate on their
list. But he noted that no coalition would be formed with the
"communists or Republicans," which, he said, would be "nonsense." --
Alaina Lemon

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES POLICY AIMS. Juraj Schenk, briefing
journalists on Slovak foreign policy on 11 January, stressed that the
"catastrophic scenario of Slovakia's international isolation" has not
materialized. He said that membership in the EU and NATO remains a top
priority, as well as good relations with neighboring countries, and that
"we have no doubt that the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be ratified."
Schenk refuted recent rumors that Slovak firms will assist in the
construction of Russian-made nuclear reactors in Iraq, saying such a
move is not in line with Slovakia's foreign policy goals. -- Sharon
Fisher

SLOVAK SUPPORT FOR NATO, EU MEMBERSHIP GROWS. A FOCUS poll taken in
December shows support for entry into NATO is increasing among Slovaks.
A total of 42.5% of respondents said they favor NATO membership, up from
38.6% in June. At the same, opposition was 21.9%, compared with 19.2% in
June, Sme reported on 12 January. The same FOCUS poll showed that 59.4%
of respondents support Slovakia's entry into the EU, up from 58.8% in
June, while 12.7% are against, up from 8% in June, TASR reported on 10
January. Despite the anti-Western rhetoric of the two junior coalition
partners--the Association of Workers of Slovakia and the Slovak National
Party--support for EU membership among the parties' voters was 47.6% and
48.8%, respectively. -- Sharon Fisher

OSCE OFFICIAL IN BUDAPEST. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
Max van der Stoel arrived in Budapest on 11 January and held brief
meetings with Hungarian Foreign Ministry Commissioner Andras Gyenge. The
two officials discussed the situation of ethnic minorities in Hungary,
Council of Europe measures on minority rights, the Slovak language law,
and the Hungarian-Slovak basic treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ARE SERBS PREPARING SOMETHING IN SARAJEVO? Nasa Borba on 12 January
reported that Radovan Karadzic led a Bosnian Serb delegation to Belgrade
and that parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik warned that the Serbs
might resume fighting. The BBC reported on 12 January that Serbs in the
Sarajevo suburbs slated to return to government control are moving out
valuable property and exhuming coffins of their dead. Some abandoned
military posts and buildings have been torched, but most people are
staying put to see what happens. AFP the previous day said that the
Serbs are still holding five captives, including a Serb serving in the
Bosnian government army. Reuters noted that the first advance parties of
the new UN police force have begun to arrive but that their role would
not involve ensuring freedom of movement. A spokesman said they would
simply "be monitoring, reporting, training and advising." -- Patrick
Moore

CROATIA OFFERS POLICE FOR MOSTAR. Defense Minister Gojko Susak said in
Mostar on 11 January that his country would provide police "if
necessary" to restore calm and order to the tense divided city. Susak is
himself the most prominent Herzegovinian Croat; and he and President
Franjo Tudjman, who offered the deployment, seem sensitive to demands
from Croatia's allies that the federation of the Croats and Muslims
start to function effectively. Susak did not specify how many police
would be sent, but he did note they would be under international
command, Hina reported. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER'S "HISTORIC" VISIT TO BELGRADE. Mate Granic on
10 January visited Belgrade--the first such visit by a Croatian foreign
minister since the outbreak of hostilities in 1991. He met with Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic and Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic to
discuss the normalization of relations. Politika on 11 January quoted
Milutinovic as saying the rump Yugoslavia was committed to honoring the
Dayton accords. Two days earlier, however, AFP reported that Belgrade
has proposed "a three-way land swap" whereby land near the Croatian city
of Dubrovnik would be ceded in return for Croatia's giving up control
over the strategic Prevlaka peninsula. Hina on 11 January reported that
Croatia has asked for the extended presence of UN monitors on the
disputed peninsula while differences with Belgrade are resolved. -- Stan
Markotich

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Javier Solana, speaking in
Zagreb on 11 January, said he had received a pledge from Croatian
President Franco Tudjaman to help calm the situation in Mostar,
international agencies reported. Solana called the Muslim-Croatian
federation the "key element of the peace process." After meeting with UN
special envoy to former Yugoslavia Kofi Annan, he stressed the "good
cooperation" so far between NATO and and that the NATO-led IFOR would
complete its mission "on time." Before his departure from Brussels,
Solana said NATO was prepared to use force to ensure that the mission
succeeded. Meanwhile, General Sir Michael Walker, NATO ground commander
in Bosnia, said after a meeting with Mostar's EU administration that
NATO was not "a force for law and order" and should concentrate on
implementing the military provisions of the Dayton peace accords.--
Michael Mihalka

SERBIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY FALLING APART? Radio Serbia on 9 January
reported that the opposition Democratic Party appears to be coming apart
at the seams. Membership is dwindling, and five members of major party
committees as well as four members of local party organizations have
recently resigned from the party. Some of those who resigned said they
did so to protest the fact that the party has abandoned its democratic
principles and to register disapproval of the top leadership's failure
to support the peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They also wanted to protest
the 2 December expulsion of former party President Dragoljub Micunovic.
-- Stan Markotich

TUDJMAN REFUSES TO CONFIRM ZAGREB MAYOR. The Croatian president on 11
January for a second time formally blocked Goran Granic of the
opposition coalition from taking over as mayor. The opposition-dominated
city council is in turn likely to oppose any appointee of Tudjman's,
thereby forcing new elections. Slobodna Dalmacija on 12 January carried
a joint declaration by Granic and council head Zdravko Tomac condemning
Tudjman's veto. Globus on 5 January ran a poll that suggested an
opposition landslide in any new vote. Tudjman has said he will not let
"enemies of state policy" run the capital, but the opposition feels that
he is concerned not only with power but with revelations that a new
government could make about "financial irregularities" of its
predecessor. -- Patrick Moore

ROMANIAN MOCK COURT CALLS FOR CEAUSESCU RETRIAL. A self-styled court
convened by an independent newspaper has called for a posthumous retrial
of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, saying his 1989 conviction and
execution were illegal, Romanian and international media reported. "The
current regime took its legitimacy from this show trial," a spokesman
told Reuters. Journalist Razvan Saviliuc said the purpose of the court
was to save the honor of the justice system and of Romanians. The
organizers of the mock court have accused President Ion Iliescu of using
the revolt to stage a coup. Iliescu himself admitted that "it would have
been good to have caught Ceausescu and his wife and to have held a trial
under normal conditions, but the tension in Bucharest [at that time]
rose and there was the danger of a general civil war." -- Matyas Szabo

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS HEAD OF SECRET SERVICE. Ion Iliescu on 11
January told journalists that Virgil Magureanu, head of the Romanian
Intelligence Service, had acted "correctly" by publishing his own
Securitate file, Radio Bucharest reported the following day. Iliescu
expressed the hope that the recent press scandal over the publication
would not overshadow the achievement of Magureanu, whom he presented as
a victim of repression under the former regime. Meanwhile, Romanian
media continued to report extensively on the joint parliamentary
commission's hearings devoted to the "Magureanu case." -- Dan Ionescu

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ON DNIESTER ELECTIONS, REFERENDUM. Russian
Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on 11 January that the 24
December elections and referendum in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region
are "a domestic problem" of the Republic of Moldova, BASA-press reported
on 11 January. The statement stressed that the region was "a component
part of Moldova..., a sovereign and independent country." It further
suggested that the Dniester referendum on joining the Commonwealth of
Independent States was superfluous, since the region had "sufficient
possibilities to participate in the CIS activities" as part of Moldova,
which already is a CIS member. Russia's has often been criticized for
applying double standards in its policy toward Moldova, with the
Presidency and the Foreign Ministry issuing statements different from
those of the State Duma. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Trade Kiril Tsochev on 11 January announced his resignation, Reuters
reported the same day. In an interview with state-run TV, Tsochev said
that "there was an atmosphere of constant checks, suspicions,
duplication of actions" throughout the Socialist government. He hinted
that his resignation is linked to the ongoing grain shortage but
stressed he bears no direct responsibility. Duma reported that the
cabinet is likely to discuss the resignation in an extraordinary meeting
on 15 January. Meanwhile, Bulgarian papers speculate that Tsochev is
Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's first scapegoat in attempts to silence
critics within the Socialist party after the recent no confidence
motion. -- Stefan Krause

ATTACK AGAINST OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER IN ALBANIA. Aleanca, reporting on
the attack last weekend on the journalist Gjergj Zefi, said that three
unknown people surrounded Zefi in Shkoder and beat him up. Zefi, who is
also one of the leaders of the Aleanca Demokratike party, is still
receiving hospital treatment for head injuries. Aleanca suspects that
the culprits have close links with smuggling gangs who want to
intimidate the local government opposition. It notes that the attack is
only one in a series of incidents since March 1994, including attempted
murders, aimed at frightening off investigative journalists and the
opposition. Meanwhile, the prosecutor's office in Lezha has wound up
investigations into the bombing of Koha Jone Chief Editor Nikolle Lesi
on 1 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 and 8 November 1995). No
conclusions were reached, Koha Jone reported on 12 January. -- Fabian
Schmidt

GREECE WELCOMES LIFTING ALBANIAN VISA REQUIREMENTS. The Greek Foreign
Ministry on 11 January has welcomed the Albanian decision to lift visa
requirements for Greek citizens (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 January
1995). A Foreign Ministry statement cited by Reuters said this move
"ends discriminatory treatment and [facilitates] contacts and especially
economic cooperation between the two countries." Greeks were the only EU
citizens to require a visa after Tirana imposed the requirement in
September 1994 during a crisis in Greek-Albanian relations. -- Stefan
Krause

[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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