I dream my painting, and then I paint my dreams. - Vincent van Gogh
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 49, Part II, 08 March 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "On the U.S. State Department's Annual Report on Human Rights",
   by Alaina Lemon

Available only via the World Wide Web:
http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
LABOR UNREST IN ROMANIA. Bucharest metro workers on 7 March remained on
strike for the fourth consecutive day, in defiance of a Supreme Court
order to return to work, Romanian and Western media reported. A union
leader told journalists that the workers were determined to go on with
protests until their demands for a 28% pay rise were met. The strikers
also demand better working conditions and the same benefits as railway
workers. President Ion Iliescu described the wildcat strike as "illegal
and cynical," saying it would only create chaos and tension. Meanwhile,
some 5,000 metallurgy workers from various cities marched in downtown
Bucharest demanding protection for jobs in heavy industry. The Alfa
Trade Union Cartel, which staged the protest, is asking the government
to pay compensation for a period this winter when workers were sent home
after power cuts stopped work. -- Dan Ionescu
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS ACCUSE UKRAINE OF SMOTHERING AUTONOMY. Separatist
members of the Crimean legislature have charged the Ukrainian government
with attempting to strip the region of its autonomy in the new draft
Ukrainian constitution, international agencies reported on 7 March. The
latest draft of the country's new post-Soviet constitution was published
in national newspapers on 7 March, which prompted the response from
Crimean deputies. They complained that the document removes all
references to Crimea as a republic and replaces the regional
constitution with a charter. Legislators have called an emergency
session of the Crimean assembly on 10 March and threatened to consider
holding a region-wide referendum on Crimea's status. -- Chrystyna
Lapychak

NO PROGRESS IN RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN OIL TALKS. Russian deputy Fuel and
Energy Minister Piotr Nidzelsky has called for continued talks with
Ukraine's State Oil and Gas Committee over Kiev's tariff hike for
exporting oil through its Druzhba pipeline, Segodnya reported on 6
March. Russia claims the tariff increase from $4.60 to $5.20 was a
unilateral move on Kiev's part and refuses to pay more than $5 for every
ton of oil piped through 100 kilometers of Ukraine. Kiev insists that
Moscow was given fair notice of the increase, and says the new rate is
still well below the world price of $8. Nidzelsky said if Ukraine
refused to yield, Russia would be forced to look into alternative means
of transporting its oil to the West, including building a new pipeline
bypassing Ukraine. Such a pipeline would reportedly cost $100 million,
making it a conceivable option. -- Ustina Markus

OFFICIALS ON RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN "ZERO OPTION." First deputy chairman of
Russia's Central Bank, Sergei Aleksashenko, criticized last month's
"zero option" agreement between Russia and Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported
on 7 March. Under the agreement, Russia canceled Belarus's energy debt
and other credits owed to Moscow, while Belarus canceled its demands for
compensation for nuclear materials in the nuclear weapons removed from
its soil. According to Aleksashenko, the agreement deprives Gazprom of
revenues which would have been taxed and contributed to the country's
budget. Belarusian deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovych defended the
"zero option" as an investment by Russia into Belarus's economy. --
Ustina Markus

POLISH PRESIDENT AMENDED THE LAW ON PARTY PROPERTY. Aleksander
Kwasniewski overrode Lech Walesa's July 1994 veto and signed amendments
to the law on the confiscation of property belonging to the former
Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) by the Social Democracy of Poland
(SdRP), Polish dailies reported on 8 March. Although the Constitutional
Tribunal in 1992 stated that there was no succession between the
parties, the amendments make the SdRP the formal heir to the PZPR. The
law requires former PZPR property to be taken stock of so it can be
decided how to divide it between the Treasury and the SdRP. -- Dagmar
Mroziewicz

DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS POLAND. Danish Foreign Minister Niels
Helveg Petersen on 7 March assured Poland of Denmark's backing for its
integration in the EU and NATO, Polish and international media reported
the next day. According to Petersen, negotiations on the admission of
new members to NATO should begin as scheduled in 1997. Petersen also
spoke with his Polish counterpart Dariusz Rosati about developing
economic ties between both countries. The bilateral trade volume in 1995
exceeded $1.3 billion, and Danish investment in Poland has reached $150
million. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH ROUNDUP. A STEM/MARK poll showed Czech National Bank Governor
Josef Tosovsky as the country's most popular personality, pushing Trade
and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy into second place, Czech media
reported on 8 March. Also in the top 15 were former Foreign Minister
Jiri Dienstbier, Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus, Nova TV director Vladimir Zelezny, and former Czechoslovak Prime
Minister, Marian Calfa, an ethnic Slovak now living in Prague. A January
opinion poll, showed that the most popular Czech daily is Mlada fronta
Dnes, with 20.8% of respondents saying it is their favorite. Second is
Pravo with 15%, followed by Blesk with 7.4%. In other news, according to
a report by the Czech Statistical Office released on 7 March, the number
of children born in 1995 in the Czech lands was fewer than 100,000 for
the first time in 200 years, contributing to a drop of nearly 12,000 in
the country's population. -- Sharon Fisher

NURSES TO JOIN CZECH HEALTH CARE WORKERS' STRIKE. The nurses' trade
union on 7 March announced that it will join doctors in a strike
scheduled for 25-26 March, meaning that all health sector trade union
organizations have joined the strike, Pravo reported. The nurses union
is demanding that nurses' pay reaches 120% of the average salary, which
would mean a 40% increase over the current level. Private ambulance
operators, who are demanding higher rates per kilometer, have also
decided to strike. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRESIDENT REJECTS NOMINEE FOR U.N. AMBASSADOR. Michael Kovac on 7
March refused to appoint Labor and Social Affairs Minister Olga
Keltosova as Ambassador to the U.N., a post which has been empty for two
years, Slovak media reported. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar nominated
her, emphasizing that a strong candidate is needed because Slovakia
could chair the organization in 1997. Meeting with Keltosova, Kovac said
he was prepared to appoint her on the condition that she publicly
distance herself from the government's call last September for his
resignation. As ambassador, Keltosova would represent not only the
state, but also the president, Kovac stressed. Keltosova "categorically
rejected" Kovac's demand, leading the president to reject her
appointment. Meciar called Kovac's refusal "regrettable" and promised to
react. Keltosova was the first to call for Kovac's dismissal after his
March 1994 speech which led to a no-confidence vote in Meciar's previous
cabinet. -- Sharon Fisher

ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT IN HUNGARY. Peter Medgyessy, Hungary's new finance
minister, on 7 March expressed satisfaction with budgetary developments
this year, Hungarian and international media reported. Hungary ended the
first two months of 1996 with a budget surplus of 23 billion forints
($157.5 million). The country's monthly inflation rate dropped from 4.4%
in January to 2-2.2% in February, and the cabinet aims to limit annual
inflation to 20% in 1996, down from 22.5% last year. Although GDP growth
dropped slightly in February, dynamic export growth and satisfactory
imports create a good basis for the 2% GDP growth projected for this
year, Medgyessy said. He warned that overspending by local authorities
could generate inflation, and he instructed the cabinet to work out
anti-inflation measures. -- Sharon Fisher

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT SENDS CONDOLENCES ON CHECHEN DEATH. The Chechnya
Support Group on 7 March sent a letter of condolences, signed by 64 of
the 101 deputies, to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev on the death of
his son-in-law Salman Raduev, ETA and BNS reported The letter called
Raduev, who headed the hostage taking operation at the Kizlyar hospital
in January, "an outstanding freedom fighter." The Russian foreign and
interior ministries reacted angrily calling the letter "blasphemy"
because Raduev was a terrorist. The Estonian Foreign Ministry noted that
the letter was not an official statement by the parliament since it was
not adopted following the necessary procedures. The ministry also
stressed that it "continues to condemn strongly terrorism anywhere in
any form and for whatever purpose." -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA'S ENERGY PROBLEMS. Energy Minister Saulius Kutas on 7 March
said that the Ignalina atomic power plant reduced its daily output from
2,400 megawatts to 1,700 megawatts due to a shortage of fuel, Radio
Lithuania reported. The fuel cassettes are paid by exporting electricity
to Kaliningrad. Gazprom, to which Lithuania owes $36 million for natural
gas, threatened to reduce daily shipments from 11 March to 2.8 million
cubic meters if it was not paid at least $16 million. Daily gas
shipments were reduced from 12 million cubic meters in January to the
current 5.5 million cubic meters. Kutas doubted that Lithuania would be
able to find the money in time and gas supplies would be limited to home
consumers. -- Saulius Girnius

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

US WANTS SERBIA TO TURN WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS OVER TO THE HAGUE.
International news agencies reported on 7 March that US State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns asked Belgrade to turn accused Bosnian Serb war
criminals Drazen Erdemovic and Radoslav Kremenovic over to the
International War Crimes Tribunal. According to Burns, the U.S. "urges
[Serbian] President Slobodan Milosevic to transfer the men as requested
and to cooperate fully with the tribunal." Meanwhile, Tanjug reported
that Erdemovic had been arrested on 2 March by Serbian police for
participation in "mass killings" of civilians following the fall of the
Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. The Serbian prosecutor's office
said Kremenovic is in custody in rump Yugoslavia for sheltering
Erdemovic. It is believed that Erdemovic's testimony may be key in
linking Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic to
atrocities. On 8 March AFP reported that the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia issued an arrest warrant for Milan
Martic for ordering the bombing of Zagreb in 1995, in which civilians
were reportedly targeted. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN OPPOSITION PREPARES FOR DEMONSTRATIONS. Nasa Borba on 8 March
reported that several opposition parties are urging public
demonstrations on 9 March to protest the government of Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic. The Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party,
and the Civic Alliance have organized the rally largely to commemorate
the 9 March 1991 Belgrade rally, during which some 100,000 people
protested Milosevic's authoritarian rule. At that time, Milosevic
responded to the protestors by summoning police, and at least two people
were killed. Opposition party leaders are urging supporters to not be
intimidated by the authorities. Some opposition party leaders, notably
Democratic Party of Serbia head Vojislav Kostunica, have said they will
not participate in organized events. -- Stan Markotich

SLOVENIA PREPARED TO APPLY FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. Reuters on 7 March
reported that the Slovenian government has now gone on record as saying
that it will apply directly for membership in the European Union if it
does not succeed in signing an agreement on associate membership.
Differences with Italy over the status and rights of ethnic Italians who
left Slovenia after the Second World War have caused delays in
Slovenia's gaining associate member status. -- Stan Markotich

FOURTH ZAGREB MAYOR ELECTED. At a 7 March session of the Zagreb City
Assembly, its members voted no confidence in Marina Matulovic-Dropulic,
Zagreb Mayor and Zagreb County Prefect appointed by President Franjo
Tudjman on 2 March (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 March 1996), Croatian media
reported. Twenty-eight councilors voted against the motion, while the
ruling party of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) councilors did not
vote. The same day, the alliance of seven opposition parties elected Ivo
Skrabalo, a vice president of the Croatian Social-Liberal party (HSLS),
as the new Zagreb Mayor and Zagreb County Prefect with 27 votes for and
13 votes against. The Zagreb City Assembly also elected two mayor's
deputies from opposition parties, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 8
March. Tudjman is unlikely to confirm Skrabalo as a mayor, but will
appoint a commissioner for Zagreb, thus enforcing new city elections. --
Daria Sito Sucic

TENSION MOUNTS IN SARAJEVO SUBURBS. UN officials reported a rise in
tensions in Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs ahead of their transfer to
government control, with gangs setting fire to homes and threatening
those who want to stay, Nasa Borba reported on 8 March. Damage made in
looting and dismantling industrial plants in Hadzici is estimated near
DM 270 million, and the fate of 186 Bosnian Muslims and Croats detained
there at the beginning of the war is still uncertain. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MACEDONIA. Teodor Melescanu on 7 March
arrived on a two-day official visit to Macedonia, Romanian, Macedonian
and international media reported. He met with President Kiro Gligorov,
Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, and Foreign Minister Ljubomir
Frckovski. Melescanu and Frckovski discussed ways to boost bilateral
relations and intensify political and economic cooperation. The two
sides are expected to discuss the peace process in former Yugoslavia, as
well as the situation of a Romanian-speaking minority in Macedonia.
Melescanu and Frckovski will sign a cooperation protocol between the two
foreign ministries. Melescanu said that his Macedonian visit rounds out
the process of "settlement" of new relations between Bucharest and the
former Yugoslav republics. Before the suspension of the UN embargo
against the rump Yugoslav Federation, Macedonia ranked first in
Romania's trade ties with the former Yugoslav republics. -- Matyas Szabo
and Stefan Krause

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES STATE RADIO AND TV COMPANY. Mircea
Snegur's spokesman on 6 March accused the Teleradio-Moldova state
company leadership of violating the audiovisual law that stipulates
priority broadcasting for incoming information from the presidency,
parliament and government, Moldovan agencies reported. Referring to the
frequent electric power cuts in villages, and the 10-fold reduction in
the number of wired-radio outlets during the past five years, the
spokesman said "some people are interested in hiding information from
the public at large." He added that a governmental decree on the
replacement of the outlets with wireless receivers is being implemented
"with tremendous pain and surprisingly slowly." -- Matyas Szabo

HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT CRITICAL OF BULGARIA. U.S. State Department human
rights report on Bulgaria says that human rights are generally
respected, but it also points to a number of problems, Demokratsiya
reported on 8 March. Most notably, the report mentions the
constitutional provision that political parties may not be formed on an
ethnic, racial, or religious basis, lack of parliamentary control of the
security services, human rights violations by police, especially against
Roma, and the conditions in Bulgarian prisons. The report states that
many old cadres returned to high positions in the security services in
1995. It also mentions attempts of political domination of and a "lack
of balance in the state media." In other news, Duma reported that 520
persons from a list of alleged criminals published by the Interior
Ministry on 22 February have been arrested as of 7 March. -- Stefan
Krause

BULGARIA, UKRAINE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. The defense
ministers of Bulgaria and Ukraine, Dimitar Pavlov and Valerii Shmarov,
on 7 March signed a bilateral military cooperation agreement,
international media reported. The agreement provides for cooperation in
security measures, military engineering, and personnel training. Shmarov
stressed Ukraine's willingness to boost cooperation in areas of common
interest. During his two-day visit, Shmarov met with President Zhelyu
Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and Parliamentary President
Blagovest Sendov. -- Stefan Krause

FORMER ALBANIAN COMMUNIST OFFICIALS ARRESTED. Communist-era Intelligence
chief Irakli Kocollari and Interior Minister Vladimir Hysi were arrested
on 5 March, international agencies reported. In 1991, under the last
Socialist President Ramiz Alia, they ordered the destruction of some
30,000 to 60,000 Interior Ministry documents in order to remove evidence
of human rights violations. If convicted, they face up to seven years in
prison. Kocollari was appointed to head the new intelligence service
SHIK after the first multiparty elections in March 1991 when parliament
decided to disband the communist-era Sigurimi. Unlike Sigurimi, SHIK is
not subordinated to the Interior Ministry. Hysi served as Interior
Minister in the government of experts between December 1991 and April
1992. Another 35 communist officials, including Alia, are currently in
prison under charges of human rights abuses. Meanwhile, present SHIK
head Bashkim Gazidede on 7 March told the parliament that his
organization has been fully placed under civilian control. -- Fabian
Schmidt and Stefan Krause

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Ustina Markus

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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