The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 16, Part II, 23 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
DID SERBS USE POISON GAS AT SREBRENICA?
There have been occasional charges in the Wars of the Yugoslav
Succession that the Serbs used poison gas, but the BBC reported on 23
January that only now has one such claim apparently been verified. A
British expert said that he had seen evidence of empty BZ gas canisters
and shells at Srebrenica, which fell to the Serbs after a tough fight in
July. The expert also spoke to survivors, and their descriptions of the
events and the exposed Bosnian soldiers' reactions afterwards strongly
indicated that they had been shelled with BZ. The gas is a hallucinogen
that apparently caused the previously stout defenders of Srebrenica to
become disoriented and hence easy pickings for Serb gunners. The Serbs
seem to have used the gas only at one point on the Bosnians' defensive
line and did not use it indiscriminately against civilians. The
investigator said he would pass his findings on to the war crimes
tribunal in The Hague. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

EU TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN AID TO EASTERN EUROPE. The European
Commission on 22 January announced it will provide $3.75 million in
humanitarian aid to Eastern Europe, Reuters reported. Some $2.5 million
will go to aid victims of the 1985 Chornobyl nuclear disaster in
Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian federation. Orphans, the sick, the
disabled, and the elderly in Romania will receive $625,000 in food and
medical supplies. Another $187,500 will go toward vaccinating children
in Albania against polio. -- Michael Mihalka

UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN OIL TALKS. Discussions between Russia's Mintopenergo
and Ukraine's Ukrneftehazprom began on 22 January over the increase in
the tariff for transporting oil through Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported.
Russia has opposed the increase, introduced on 1 January, claiming price
changes have to be agreed at government level. ITAR-TASS reports that
Ukraine has no intention of backing down over the increase and began the
session suggesting that the price could be raised further to $6.20 per
ton of oil pumped through 100 km of Ukrainian territory. The price
currently stands at $5.23. After oil exporters had their supplies to
Central Europe suspended for ten days earlier this month, many signed
short-term agreements with Ukraine allowing their oil to be pumped
through the Druzhba pipeline across Ukraine to Central Europe. -- Ustina
Markus

CRIMEAN DEPUTY CALLS ON KIEV TO SUBSIDIZE MILITARY INSTALLATIONS. Vasyl
Shpilkin, who heads the Crimean parliamentary Commission for Economy,
Budget, and Financing, has called on Kiev to allocate 27 trillion
karbovantsy ($150 million) for the social protection of military
personnel on the peninsula, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 January. Shpilkin
warned that military personnel and their dependents are in danger of
becoming unemployed as Black Sea Fleet bases are handed over to Ukraine.
So far, 61 of the 130 military facilities in Crimea have been
transferred to Ukraine. Another 25 are awaiting signature of the
appropriate documents. No decision has been made about the fate of the
remaining 44 facilities. -- Ustina Markus

OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER IN LATVIA. OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Max van der Stoel arrived in Latvia on 21 January for a
three-day visit, BNS reported the following day. Acting director of the
Latvian Human Rights Bureau Kaija Gertnere said that the purpose of the
visit was not connected with violations of human rights or rights of
ethnic minorities but was to get acquainted with the new government and
parliament. Meetings are scheduled with Prime Minister Andris Skele,
Interior Minister Dainis Turlais, parliamentary speaker Ilsa Kreiture,
and parliamentary deputies. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES DISMISSAL OF CENTRAL BANK HEAD. Algirdas
Brazauskas signed a decree on 22 January proposing that the Seimas
relieve Kazys Ratkevicius of his duties as chairman of the Bank of
Lithuania, Radio Lithuania reported. Ratkevicius offered his resignation
on 8 January after the ruling Democratic Labor Party expressed
dissatisfaction with his work. Brazauskas, however, delayed proposing
his removal to the Seimas because he thought Ratkevicius could help IMF
and World Bank experts prepare a program to restructure four Lithuanian
banks with serious problems. The proposal simplifies Ratkevicius's
removal by requiring a simple majority vote in the Seimas; previously,
71 deputies would have had to vote against him. Brazauskas has suggested
the bank's deputy chairman, Jonas Niaura, replace Ratkevicius. --
Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRIME MINISTER ON SPY ALLEGATIONS. Jozef Oleksy, in a recent
interview with Polityka, has stressed that he never worked for the KGB,
Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 23 January. Asked about his contacts with
Vladimir Alganov, Oleksy said that with the benefit of hindsight, he
could see that it had been wrong to meet with the KGB officer. Former
Interior Minister Andrzej Milczanowski maintains that the Office for
State Protection warned Oleksy that Alganov was a KGB agent but Oleksy
did not break off his contacts with him. Meanwhile, the Public Opinion
Research Center reported that public confidence in Oleksy has dropped
from 61% in December to 46% this month. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH ARMY OFFICERS CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION. Two senior army officers on
22 January were charged with corruption in awarding defense contracts,
Czech media reported. A lieutenant-colonel who chaired a Defense
Ministry tendering committee and a colonel who also sat on the
committee, are accused of misusing their positions to influence how a
major contract for heating equipment was decided. Neither soldier was
named. Czech Television reported that the two allegedly demanded a
bribe, a share of the contract's profits, and shares in the company
awarded the contract, which could have totaled 30 million koruny ($1.12
million). The two were suspended and the order was canceled in December-
-the third lucrative defense contract in recent months to be annulled
amid suspicions of bribery. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAKIA, UKRAINE TO IMPROVE COOPERATION. Slovak and Ukrainian
government officials are meeting from 22-23 January in Slovakia's High
Tatra mountains in an effort to develop a long-term program of bilateral
cooperation. Stressing that trade turnover with Ukraine could be 10
times higher, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar called for the
creation of a free trade zone. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk
said Slovakia could help Ukraine in its efforts to join the Central
European Free Trade Agreement and the Central European Initiative.
Marchuk also noted that there is opportunity for Slovak firms to take
part in Ukraine's privatization program, RFE/RL's Slovak Service
reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PROSECUTOR-GENERAL ON INVESTIGATION INTO SECRET SERVICE AGENTS.
Michal Valo told CTK on 22 January that his office is continuing an
investigation into former top agents of the Slovak Information Service
who are accused of abuse of power, endangering state secrets, and other
crimes. The accusations were made in a May 1995 report by the
parliamentary Separate Control Organ (OKO), which oversees the SIS and
consists only of coalition deputies. The OKO accused the previous SIS
leadership of cooperating with President Michal Kovac and the
transitional government ijn power until the fall 1994 elections. Valo
noted that he cannot question OKO members or former SIS agents until
they are freed from their secrecy oath. According to Valo, the
accusations could be used against a number of Slovak editors and
journalists who were mentioned in the OKO report. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PREMIER TO BOOST COUNTRY'S IMAGE ABROAD. Gyula Horn has
invited 60 prominent Hungarians living abroad to take part in a
conference on promoting Hungary's interests abroad, Hungarian media
reported on 22 January. Among the most prominent invited guests are U.S.
philanthropist and financier George Soros, Canadian real estate investor
Andrew Sarlos, and U.S. congressman Tom Lantos. The conference will take
place on 9-10 February. Horn, Finance Minister Lajos Bokros, Foreign
Minister Laszlo Kovacs, and other government officials will address the
delegates. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

RUSSIAN TROOPS TRANSIT HUNGARY. Trains carrying Russian units expected
to serve with IFOR forces in Bosnia passed through Hungary from Ukraine
on 22 January, Hungarian dailies reported. This was the first time
Russian troops had entered Hungarian territory since leaving the country
in 1991. Polish and Czech troops transited Hungary last week. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

JUSTICE GOLDSTONE IN SARAJEVO. The head of the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Richard Goldstone, visited Sarajevo
on 22 January. He told international media that his team might begin
work in the field in as soon as two weeks. The investigators are
concerned that the Serbs might try to destroy evidence of atrocities in
the meantime, and Reuters said that the Serbs are keeping foreigners out
of the Srebrenica area. Elsewhere, the International Herald Tribune
reported on 23 January that the U.S. intelligence community has been
told to help the tribunal, even if it means investigating charges that
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is responsible for war crimes.
Goldstone had earlier criticized the Americans for being slow to provide
evidence, but Washington now seems willing to help. This apparently also
means tracing atrocities to the doorstep of the man who was so central
to Richard Holbrooke's diplomatic efforts last year. -- Patrick Moore

NATO TO AID WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION. IFOR commander U.S. Admiral
Leighton Smith and Richard Goldstone, meeting on 22 January in Sarajevo,
reached an agreement whereby NATO will help investigations into war
crimes in the former Yugoslavia, international agencies reported. NATO
has so far refused to guard suspected mass grave sites in the fear that
it will be taking on missions other than those assigned to it in the
Dayton peace accords. The Washington Post on 23 January reported Smith
as telling Goldstone that "If you don't push me and make me say what I'm
going to do, I'll do a lot." -- Michael Mihalka

MURATOVIC RELUCTANTLY ACCEPTS NOMINATION FOR BOSNIAN PREMIERSHIP.
Bosnian Minister for Relations with IFOR Hasan Muratovic has said he is
accepting the post of Bosnian prime minister, albeit reluctantly. "Mr.
Silajdzic is the man we need, but unfortunately he has refused to be
prime minister," AFP quoted him as saying. Muratovic was nominated for
the premiership at an emergency session of the executive board of the
ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) on 21 January. The next
day, the Bosnian collective Presidency proposed him as new premier.
Muratovic, who is not a member of the SDA , was considered a close
Silajdzic ally. AFP quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as
telling state television on 21 January that Silajdzic's resignation from
the post of prime minister was based on "caprice." -- Daria Sito Sucic

CHRISTOPHER ISSUES WARNING ABOUT PRISONER EXCHANGE. U.S. Secretary of
State Warren Christopher on 22 January warned that if the Bosnian
government did not comply with the requirement to release remaining
prisoners of war, it would risk losing training, equipment and
reconstruction aid, international agencies reported. He stressed that
the prisoner release was an "unconditional obligation" for all parties
to the Dayton peace accord and noted that the Bosnian government's
request for further information on other prisoners was "not a legitimate
demand" entitling them "to keep back their prisoners." -- Michael
Mihalka

SERBIA TO CRACK DOWN ON ECONOMIC CRIME? Serbian Prosecutor-General
Dragan Petkovic told TV Serbia on 21 January that the "fight against
criminality"--announced by President Milosevic in his 1996 New Year's
address--will focus on economic crimes. Petkovic said that while
international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia were in force,
economic crimes were not only tolerated but also promoted by the regime.
He added that if there had been no sanctions violators or smugglers,
Serbia's banking and commercial infrastructure would have found it
difficult, if not impossible, to survive. Meanwhile, Politika on 23
January reported Ivica Dacic, spokesman for the ruling Socialist Party
of Serbia, as saying federal and municipal elections will be held in
1996, while elections to the Serbian legislature will not take place
before the end of 1997, when the legislators' current mandates expire.
-- Stan Markotich

NEW ZAGREB MAJOR TO BE ELECTED. Since Croatian President Franjo Tudjman
rejected to approve election of opposition candidate Goran Granic for a
post of Zagreb major and a head of Zagreb county, nomination of a new
candidate is expected at a session of the City Assembly scheduled for 24
January, Vecernji list reported a day before. President of Social-
Democratic Party (SDP) Ivica Racan announced that united opposition
parties will nominate a new candidate for a post of Zagreb major,
because "it would make no sense to insist on Granic as the only
candidate, and let the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) to
continue to rule in the Croatian capital under an excuse of existing
anarchy," BETA on 23 January quoted him as saying. If opposition would
not nominate a new candidate, the Croatian President alone would have
right to appoint one. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CHIRAC FAVORS "PRIVILEGED RELATIONS" WITH ROMANIA. France wants to
develop "privileged relations" with Romania, French President Jacques
Chirac was quoted as saying on 22 January by the Bucharest daily
Adevarul. Noting that Romania is the "only Latin country in Eastern
Europe," he pledged to "help it develop along its chosen path." Asked
whether France was "Romania's main advocate" in its bid for EU
membership, Chirac said Romania could rely both on France and on "other
friends who supported it." Chirac's statement came on the eve of a
French-Romanian economic forum in Bucharest. -- Matyas Szabo

ROMANIAN EMBASSY GUARDS ROBBED OF GUNS IN MOLDOVA. Several armed men
robbed guards of their guns at the Romanian Embassy in Chisinau, Infotag
reported on 22 January. Armed with knives and handguns, the assailants
wounded one of the guards in their night raid on the embassy building.
Police mounted a manhunt but could not find the assailants. Such
incidents have occurred repeatedly in Chisinau, including last year at
the Turkish Embassy, international media reported. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVA, RUSSIA, UKRAINE SIGN STATEMENT ON DNIESTER. Presidents Mircea
Snegur, Boris Yeltsin, and Leonid Kuchma on 19 January signed a
statement recognizing the Dniester region as a constituent part of
Moldova, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 22 January. The three
leaders stressed the need for a speedy political settlement to the
Dniester conflict in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter,
the Helsinki Final Act, and OSCE, Council of Europe, and CIS documents.
The three states support the signing of a document that would provide
for a special status for the Dniester region within the Republic of
Moldova, whose territorial integrity would be guaranteed. Snegur,
Yeltsin, and Kuchma were attending a CIS summit conference in Moscow. --
Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADER. In a move generally
regarded as improving relations between the Presidency and the
opposition, Zhelyu Zhelev and Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman
Ivan Kostov met on 22 January, Demokratsiya reported. The two leaders
discussed the political situation after one year of Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) rule; both insisted that they did not talk about the next
presidential elections. After their meeting, Zhelev said that "if the
crisis deepens, the opposition and I will act together." He added that
he and the SDS have the same views on domestic and foreign policy
issues. Kostov told Standart that the government is "harmful and
dangerous for Bulgaria and it must go." The BSP leadership responded by
issuing a statement accusing Zhelev of "destabilizing the country." --
Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW MINISTERS. The National Assembly on 23
January approved Atanas Paparizov of the Bulgarian Socialist Party as
trade minister and Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov of the
Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" as
agriculture minister, Bulgarian media reported. Their candidacies were
approved by 122 votes to two. Most opposition deputies abstained. --
Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRISONERS TO LEAVE GREECE. Some 790 Albanians serving prison
sentences in Greece are to be transferred to Albanian prisons, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 23 January. The prisoners, including 14 women and
140 youths aged 14-20, will serve the remainder of their sentences in
Albania. The transfer of the Albanian prisoners was prompted by recent
violent protests by inmates, including many Albanians, over poor
conditions in Greek prisons. The Greek and Albanian Justice Ministries
signed a prisoner exchange agreement on 16 August 1995. -- Fabian
Schmidt

ALBANIA TO INVEST $200 MILLION IN ROADS THIS YEAR. Albania plans to
invest some $200 million into the reconstruction of roads in 1996,
international agencies reported on 22 January. A large amount of the
money will be used for a highway between Durres and Tirana and an East-
West corridor linking Durres with Macedonia at the border checkpoint
Qafe e Thanes. Albania has 18,000 kilometers of roads, most of which are
in very bad condition. -- Fabian Schmidt

TURKEY TO SEND COMBAT TROOPS TO BOSNIA. The Turkish General Staff has
issued a statement saying Turkey will reinforce its military unit in
Zenica with combat forces this week, AFP reported on 22 January.
Deployment of a mechanized infantry company, a tank company, an
artillery battery, and a team specialized in eliminating mines will
begin on 23-25 January. The 1,500-strong Turkish unit already deployed
with IFOR will be deployed in Zenica and Tuzla in the U.S. area of
responsibility in central Bosnia. A squadron of 18 Turkish F-16 fighters
deployed in Italy and a frigate in the Adriatic Sea are also allocated
for use by IFOR, the statement said. -- Lowell Bezanis

[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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