Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 36, Part II, 20 February 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
SERBIAN EXODUS FROM SARAJEVO UNDER WAY. Serbs living in the five
Sarajevo districts slated to pass to government control have begun a
migration from their homes that is to be completed before government
police arrive in those suburbs on 23 February. A special committee has
been set up to oversee the exodus, which may be less than voluntary. The
BBC added on 20 February that the Serbs are taking the exhumed coffins
of their dead along in what many had predicted would be a media event
staged by the Pale leadership under Radovan Karadzic. Committee chairman
Gojko Klickovic said that the people would be settled in Bratunac,
Srebrenica, Zvornik, Milici, Brcko, Pale, Sokolac, Visegrad and
Rogatica, news agencies reported. These are mainly either "ethnically
cleansed" regions of eastern Bosnia or places astride the strategic
northern supply corridor. If completed, the exodus would mark a victory
for the nationalists who have gained much wealth and power in the war by
enforcing their doctrine that people of different origins cannot live
together. It is not clear who will pay for the enterprise. -- Patrick
Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

EASTERN EUROPE

BELARUSIAN SPEAKER AGAINST DISSOLUTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Belarusian parliamentary speaker Syamuon Sharetsky on 19 February said
he opposed the idea of dissolving the Constitutional Court, ITAR-TASS
reported. Sharetsky has asked the court not to examine several cases
brought to it by his predecessor, Mechyslau Hryb. Sharetsky said the
reason for the move was that he did not view using an intermediary as
the best way to build relations between the branches of power. As for
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's idea of holding a referendum over
amending the constitution, Sharetsky said it was the parliament that
decides whether plebiscites are held. In other news, Belarusian TV on 17
February reported the first interview with newly appointed head of the
National Bank of Belarus Tamara Vinnikau. Lukashenka named Vinnikau to
the post two days earlier. -- Ustina Markus

CONGRESS OF LATVIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY, SAIMNIEKS. The merger of the
Latvian Democratic Party and the party Saimnieks was formally completed
at a congress in Riga on 17 February. The congress was attended by 534
delegates representing the party's 1,045 members, BNS reported two days
later. Ziedonis Cevers was elected as the sole chairman with former co-
chairman Juris Celmins and board member Ivars Redisons as deputy
chairmen. President Guntis Ulmanis and premier Andris Skele addressed
the congress that also approved several amendments to the party's
program and statutes, including the introduction of honorary members and
tightening rules for admitting new members. * Saulius Girnius

FORMATION OF LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT. After consultations with President
Algirdas Brazauskas and leaders of the Democratic Labor Party faction on
19 February, prime minister Mindaugas Stankevicius said that he would
probably retain "about twelve" of the nineteen ministers in the former
government, Radio Lithuania reported. The new cabinet will likely be
announced in a few days. He said the post of interior minister would be
offered to Seimas deputy Virgilijus Bulovas, while communications and
finance deputy ministers Vaidotas Abraitis and Algimantas Krizinauskas
would advance. He hoped to have two women ministers, mentioning Free
Market Institute president Elena Leontjeva as a suitable economics
minister. * Saulius Girnius

PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF POLISH REFERENDUM ON PROPERTY OWNERSHIP. Poles on
16 February voted in two referendums on ownership. According to
preliminary results of those votes, more than 90% answered "yes" to
former President Lech Walesa question "Are you in favor of a general
transfer of state property to citizens?" Four detailed questions were
posed by the Sejm on using privatization funds to pay sums owed to
pensioners and civil servants and to finance a new pension fund. Again,
more than 90% gave their backing to these suggestions. These preliminary
results show that voters followed the advice of Solidarity and right-of-
center parties. Turnout, however, was less than 50%, which means the
referendum will be non-binding. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH, POLISH PRESIDENTS' MEETING POSTPONED. A meeting scheduled for 22
February between Vaclav Havel and Aleksander Kwasniewski has been
postponed to an unspecified date in March, Czech media reported on 20
February. The two presidents were to have met in the Czech town of
Nachod, near the Polish border, but Havel is recovering from a mouth
operation and has canceled official engagements until next week. --
Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION. Michal Kovac on 19 February met
with opposition leaders to discuss the amendment to the income tax law
approved earlier this month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 February 1996).
The opposition said the law "violates the principle of equality of
economic competition and is unfair toward businessmen." They also claim
it was approved in an "irregular way." Kovac stressed that he uses two
criteria to assess laws: whether they comply with the constitution and
whether they narrow or widen the scope for implementing democratic
principles, TASR reported. According to a Slovak Radio poll released on
20 February, parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic is the most popular
politician in Slovakia, with 61.3% of respondents expressing trust in
him. Kovac came next with 50.3%, followed by Peter Weiss of the
opposition Party of the Democratic Left with 49.6%. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK INVESTIGATORS BRING CHARGES IN MURDER OF ROMA. The investigation
of the brutal murder of Mario Goral last July in Ziar nad Hronom ended
with a proposal to bring charges against 16 skinheads, according to
Marian Ponc, chief of the Regional Office of Investigation in Banska
Bystrica. Of the 16 accused (nine of whom are under the age of 18), four
have been taken into custody, TASR reported on 19 February. -- Sharon
Fisher

HUNGARIAN ECONOMISTS FEAR THE SLOWDOWN OF REFORMS. Hungarian economists
say they fear that Finance Minister Lajos Bokros's sudden resignation on
18 February means economic reforms will slow down and a less radical
alternative economic policy will be pursued. Coalition politicians said
the move was unjustified, as the country is about to sign vital
agreements on an IMF loan and on membership in the OECD. Prime Minister
Gyula Horn said he accepted the resignation in order to "end
uncertainty" in the cabinet, which, he added, was caused by Bokros's
repeated threats to step down during his one year in office. Horn also
said he would confirm in a letter to both the IMF and OECD that the
cabinet will continue with stabilization, Nepszabadsag reported. Opinion
polls conducted following Bokros's resignation show that most people are
relieved that the radical austerity program will be eased somewhat. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN PUBLIC FOUNDATION TO HANDLE RETURNED JEWISH PROPERTY.
Representatives of the Hungarian Jewish community met with Secretary-
General of the World Jewish Congress Israel Singer on 18 February to
resolve differences over the restitution of Jewish community property,
international and Hungarian media reported. Return of the property is
currently being negotiated by Hungary's Jewish communities and the
government, but a dispute emerged over which property would be overseen
by a foundation set up for that purpose and who would control that
foundation. The meeting voted overwhelmingly to set a public foundation
to handle returned assets that cannot be used by Jewish communities that
no longer exist. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MILOSEVIC SAYS THAT SERBS HAVE NO REASON TO LEAVE SARAJEVO. Tanjug on 18
February ran a detailed interview with Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic. He said that he spoke in Rome with Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic and the international community's Carl Bildt at length about
explicit measures to guarantee the future and safety of Serbs living
under Bosnian government rule. Milosevic noted there will be no more
arbitrary arrests and that an amnesty has been passed to cover everyone
except indicted war criminals. The Serbs, he stressed, have a "very firm
guarantee" and no reason to leave Sarajevo, where they will enjoy a wide
degree of cultural and social self-government and participate in
political life. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL IGNORES DAYTON, ROME ACCORDS. A Bosnian Serb
general failed to show up for a meeting with IFOR and his Croatian and
Muslim counterparts that took place on 19 February aboard the U.S.
aircraft carrier USS George Washington, international media reported.
Lt.-Gen. Sir Michael Walker, commander of NATO ground forces in Bosnia,
has agreed to meet with Maj.-Gen. Zdravko Tolimir, deputy Bosnian Serb
army commander, in Pale on 20 February to discuss his boycott. IFOR
condemned his failure to appear as a "contradiction of the Dayton Peace
Accord and the agreement at the Rome summit on the weekend." Momcilo
Krajisnik, president of the self-styled Bosnian Serb parliament, said
"the Serbs will make the release of General Djukic and Colonel
Krsmanovic a condition for any future cooperation with the international
community," a reference to the Bosnian Serb officers currently being
held on suspicion of war crimes at The Hague. -- Michael Mihalka

FRENCH TROOPS SEIZE ARMS CACHE. French IFOR troops seized a Bosnian Serb
arms cache in a former weapons depot near Sarajevo on 19 February,
international media reported. IFOR is empowered to ensure that no
weapons or soldiers are left behind in areas to be transferred under the
Dayton peace accords. The Bosnian Serbs at the site said the depot has
been declared a humanitarian center. The arms included mortars, rocket
launchers, machine guns and assorted munitions and were found hidden
among sacks of onions and potatoes. Meanwhile, NATO issued a "wanted
poster" of suspected war criminals to its troops. The poster contains 17
poor quality photographs and cursory descriptions of 35 others. A
journalist at an IFOR press briefing on 17 February said he had found no
IFOR troops at checkpoints in Bosnia who could identify a small glossy
photograph of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb political leader. --
Michael Mihalka

MOSTAR SETTLEMENT COMES INTO EFFECT. A Croatian-Muslim agreement reached
on 18 February in Rome to reunite the Herzegovinian city of Mostar will
take effect over the next few days, the BBC reported on 20 February. The
Muslim mayor of the eastern half of the town has resigned in protest
over the plan, which creates a smaller central district than that
recently proposed by EU administrator Hans Koschnick. The new
administrative divisions were a concession to the Croats, while the
Muslims got their key demand for immediate free movement for all people,
including military-aged males. A joint police force will also be set up.
Slobodna Dalmacija carried a conciliatory message to the Muslims from
the Croatian mayor of the western half. AFP said that the atmosphere in
the city is festive as Muslims mark the end of Ramadan and Croats
celebrate carnival. -- Patrick Moore

CALLS FOR OPPOSITION TO CONTINUE PROTESTING SERBIAN GOVERNMENT'S MOVE
OVER STUDIO B. Mirjana Stojanovic, head of the broadcaster's independent
trade union, has called on opposition parties to continue protesting new
management policies at the independent TV station Studio B in the wake
of the government's bid to take control, BETA reported on 19 February.
She urged those journalists who still work on the station's now-censored
news programs "to join with the independent union and thereby
demonstrate real professionalism and journalistic ethics." Dragan
Kojadinovic, one of the founders and former principal managers of Studio
B, on 16 February sent a letter to the Belgrade municipal authorities
announcing that since the station's independence "today no longer
exists, I must resign from Studio B." The Belgrade local branch of the
ruling Socialist Party of Serbia has backed the take-over bid, while
claiming to support press freedom. -- Stan Markotich

TUDJMAN AGAIN BLOCKS ZAGREB OPPOSITION MAYOR. Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman has rejected the opposition-dominated Zagreb city council's
mayoral candidate, Jozo Rados, Novi list reported on 20 February. This
is the second time that he has blocked the council's nominee to head the
city, which has been without a chief executive since 29 October. Hina on
19 February quoted Tudjman's office as saying he is acting within the
law in blocking the appointment without giving a reason. The opposition
will challenge his decision in parliament. Tudjman's own party may be
the big losers, however, if his move forces new elections, since polls
show broad popular backing for the opposition's stand (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 19 February 1996). AFP quoted him as saying that it is
"unthinkable" that Zagreb, "the heart of the nation," could be governed
by the opposition. Some also suspect that Tudjman does not want the
opposition to get its hands on the city administration's financial
records. -- Patrick Moore

MACEDONIA GAINS ADMISSION INTO PHARE. The European Parliament on 16
February accepted Macedonia as a member of the PHARE development
program, MIC reported on 19 February. As a first measure, the country
will receive 25 million ECU. Future funding will include projects in
economy, culture, health, education, and infrastructure. -- Fabian
Schmidt

ROMANIAN FORMER BANK CHIEF FACING FRAUD PROBE. Romanian police on 19
February announced prosecutors are questioning Marcel Ivan, former head
of the Credit Bank, over suspicions of fraud and incitement to forgery.
Reuters cited a spokesman for the general police inspectorate as saying
that Ivan has been detained for questioning since 25 January. A court
sentenced him last year to one year in jail for acquiring "unearned
gains," and police re-arrested him as he was about to leave jail after
having served his sentence. His lawyer told Reuters that the charges on
which Ivan is investigated could bring a jail sentence of up to five
years. Credit Bank, one of the largest retail banks in Romania, was set
up in 1991 and was placed under central bank supervision shortly before
Ivan's arrest last year. -- Michael Shafir

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA. Alexandros Filon, director-
general at the Greek Foreign Ministry, on 19 February met with Romanian
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu in Bucharest to discuss bilateral
relations and how to boost economic and cultural cooperation between the
two countries, Romanian media reported. The region's stability and the
role Greece plays in supporting Romania's integration into European
structures were also on the agenda. The two sides agreed that Melescanu
will visit Athens on 12-13 March. They also discussed Filon's suggestion
that a Romania-Greece-Bulgaria meeting be held over the next few months.
-- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN MASS PRIVATIZATION UPDATE. The Center of Mass Privatization on
19 February announced that by the end of last week, 356,285 people, or
5.5% of those entitled to, had taken part in the mass privatization
program, Bulgarian media reported. The highest participation (7.5%) was
reported in Sofia. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov at a press conference the
same day said that initially 2,000-3,000 firms were to be privatized
through the voucher program but that their number was limited to 1,063
in order to include only the best enterprises. Kontinent cited Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev as
saying that the fewer people who participate, the more each of them will
get. According to Director of the Center for Mass Privatization Kalin
Mitrev, the number of those willing to participate increases by 12% per
month, while the number of those strictly opposed declines at the same
rate. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN "HORNETGATE" UPDATE. Four officers at a Defense Ministry
research institute who on 6 February were arrested on charges of
illegally transferring or selling military technology to private firms
are reported to have been developing the Starshel (Hornet) system
designed to disrupt the enemy's communications and radar interception
systems. Duma on 20 February called the whole story a "consecutive blow
against Bulgaria and her defense industry." Acting Armed Forces
Prosecutor-General Colonel Nikolay Kolev said the officers will face
only charges of malfeasance in office. Trud quoted former Deputy Defense
Minister Iliya Marinov as saying it was absurd that three firms divide
trade with Bulgarian special military technology among themselves, while
the ministry was deprived of its license. Marinov said the military-
industrial complex must be subordinated to a committee with the rank of
a ministry rather than to the Industry Ministry. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN MEDIA UPDATE. The Albanian government has denied Koha Jone's
charges that Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni ordered the publishing house
Demokracia to stop printing 14 dailies (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14
February 1996), Albanian media reported. Vrioni had argued that the
dailies had not been properly registered to avoid paying taxes.
Meanwhile, Dita reported that police on 16 February detained and beat up
Koha Jone journalist Fatos Veliu in Saranda. Veliu earlier had alleged
police corruption in one of his articles. International agencies the
same day reported that the local police chief complained that "the
article had denigrated the good work of the police." Koha Jone protested
the incident, and directors Nikolla Lesi and Alexander Frangaj stressed
that no policeman has been punished for similar acts of violence against
journalists in the past. -- Fabian Schmidt

OFFICIAL AT ITALIAN EMBASSY IN ALBANIA SUSPENDED FOR CORRUPTION. An
official at the Italian Embassy in Tirana has been charged with selling
visas to Albanian citizens for up to $1,000, international agencies
reported on 16 February. Other countries' foreign diplomats are also
suspected of selling visas. Greeks visa are estimated to be available
for between $400-500. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 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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