Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. - Sigmund Freud
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 50, Part II, 11 March 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
BOSNIAN SERBS SET FIRE TO SARAJEVO SUBURB. A BBC reporter has said that
Ilidza--the Sarajevo suburb slated to revert to government control on 12
March--is "burning." The Bosnian Serbs have instituted a "scorched earth
policy" after cutting off essential services, including fire-fighting.
Intimidation to force people to leave is widespread, although some
mainly elderly people have barricaded themselves in their flats in the
hope of staying. The arsonists have torched not only schools and public
buildings but also apartment blocks, including those with people still
in them. IFOR on the weekend finally stepped up patrols and rescued some
people trapped in burning flats, but the peacekeepers said it is not
their job to fight fires. They reported to have stood back while
buildings burned down. The international police force said it has no
power to arrest the arsonists, and the Serbian police said they are "too
scared" to go out onto the streets amid scenes of violence and chaos. --
Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CRIMEA GIVES UKRAINE ULTIMATUM ON CONSTITUTION. Crimea has given the
Ukrainian parliament a 31 March deadline to ratify its constitution,
international agencies reported on 11 March. The new Crimean basic law
preserves Crimean autonomy. During an emergency session, Crimean
deputies threatened to call a region-wide referendum on Crimea's status
or bring back the separatist 1992 constitution, banned by Ukraine in
March 1995, if Ukrainian lawmakers fail to approve the new constitution.
The draft was approved by the Crimean assembly in November, but Ukraine
has postponed a vote on the document. Meanwhile, it has completed a
draft of a new Ukrainian constitution further limiting the region's
autonomy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE REVEALS DETAILS OF SERIOUS RADIATION LEAK AT CHORNOBYL. The
Ukrainian Environment Ministry has revealed details of a serious
radiation leak that occurred on 17 November 1995 inside the Chornobyl
nuclear power plant, international and Ukrainian agencies reported. The
incident, which registered three on the international scale of one to
six, took place when a nuclear fuel rod split open while Reactor No. 1
was being refueled. The reactor hall was reportedly contaminated.
Details of just how serious the incident was emerged only last week
after the ministry received a new report from nuclear specialists,
Ukrainian officials said. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

WORLD BANK OFFERS ASSISTANCE FOR LATVIAN EDUCATION REFORM. Lars Jerling,
World Bank Baltic regional mission head, has offered Latvia assistance
from the bank's experts in preparing educational reforms, BNS reported
on 9 March. The bank will also help attract foreign investors after the
government approves an education reform program. The program is to
include setting up professional education establishments meeting the
requirements of the labor market, raising the qualifications of
teachers, and improving the network of educational establishments. --
Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN CONSERVATIVES CONVENE IN VILNIUS. The 2nd Congress of the
Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) took place on the weekend,
Radio Lithuania reported. The 600 delegates approved a campaign program
for the fall parliament elections. Speakers predicted that the ruling
Democratic Labor Party will be defeated and that the Conservatives will
form a new government, probably together with the Christian Democrats.
The congress reelected Vytautas Landbergis as chairman and Gediminas
Vagnorius as board chairman. -- Saulius Girnius

WARSAW COURT SENTENCES STALIN-ERA TORTURERS. The Warsaw Municipal Court
on 8 March sentenced former secret security officers to prison sentences
for mistreating members of the political opposition from 1944-1953,
Polish media reported. The trial began more than two years ago. Col.
Adam Humer, aged 79, was found guilty of torturing prisoners and was
sentenced to nine years in prison. Eleven other officers received prison
sentences of between two to eight years. The verdict is subject to
appeal. Prosecutor Robert Szustakiewicz said that, despite the time lag,
punishment must not be lenient because the accused had been sending
people to their death on a daily basis. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

POLAND TO HAVE A GERMAN CEMETERY. Poland is to build a cemetery for
30,000 German soldiers who died during World War II, Polish and
international media reported on 9 March. The cemetery is to be built by
the German-Polish foundation Reconciliation and a German association
dedicated to burying war dead, Meanwhile, Auschwitz survivors and Jewish
leaders are angry about plans to build a supermarket and restaurant
opposite the Nazi death camp, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 11 March. --
Dagmar Mroziewicz

POLES UNEASY ABOUT PROPOSED RUSSIAN CORRIDOR LINK WITH BELARUS. Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's plan to build a highway and railroad linking
the enclave of Kaliningrad with Belarus via Poland (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 28 February 1996) is causing considerable unease among Poles.
The Polish government says neither Moscow nor Minsk has so far consulted
Warsaw about the project. Gazeta Wyborcza on 11 March quotes the
Kaliningrad mayor as denying that no one from the oblast has held talks
with the Polish authorities. He said that the Kaliningrad population is
against such "extra-territorial" transport links. After Lithuania
drastically raised its transit charges last year, Russia has been
seeking alternative routes for trains and goods vehicles bound for
Belarus. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

RUSSIAN INVESTMENT FUND CRASHES IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Alim Karmov, owner of
the Russian investment fund Futurum, which operates in the Czech
Republic, has announced that the company cannot make payments to its
2,000 clients, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 March. The fund, set up in 1993,
has attracted more than 200 million crowns ($7.4 million) in deposits.
Futurum, claiming its activities were backed by one of Russia's largest
financial groups, promised its clients a 25% annual return on their
investment. In an interview with Lidove noviny on 11 March, Karmov said
the investors' money will be returned in six months. -- Natalia
Gurushina

CZECH, SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Josef Zieleniec and Juraj Schenk,
meeting in Bratislava on 8 March, said that ties remain strong between
the former Czechoslovak federation partners, Slovak and international
media reported. Discussions focused on bilateral relations and
integration into Western organizations, including objections voiced by
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov during his recent visit to
Slovakia and Zieleniec's visit to Moscow last week. "Both countries have
similar, if not identical, priorities in their foreign policy, mainly
when it comes to EU and NATO membership," Schenk stressed. Zieleniec
noted that since 1993, the two countries have signed 60 intergovernment
treaties and 70 other accords at various levels, adding that bilateral
relations could still be further intensified. This was Zieleniec's first
official visit to Bratislava. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP. The Slovak cabinet on 7 March approved a draft law on
the protection of the republic, Sme reported two days later. Organizers
of public rallies "aimed at subverting the constitutional system,
territorial integrity, or defense capability of the republic or [at]
destroying its independence" can be sentenced to between six months and
three years in prison. Those who "damage the interests of the republic"
by spreading "false" information can be jailed for up to two years.
Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement deputy Gyula Bardos told Reuters
that the bill's approval is evidence that "the radicals are holding the
upper hand in the government." In other news, former Prime Minister
Jozef Moravcik on 9 March was re-elected chairman of the opposition
Democratic Union. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN JEWS PROTEST ACQUITTAL OF NEO-NAZIS. Almost 2,000 Jews on 10
March protested a municipal court's acquittal of two Hungarian neo-Nazi
leaders six days earlier, AFP reported. Albert Szabo and Istvan Gyorkos
admitted to organizing lectures for skinheads in which they denied that
6 million Jews were killed during World War II. They also praised
Hungarian pro-Nazi leaders and anti-Semitic figures. The judge ruled
that "such views can be expressed as part of the freedom of speech."
Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 6 March said he was shocked by their
acquittal but added that the court ruling must be respected. He also
said that he hoped the parliament will soon pass legislation to allow
courts to take more powerful action against extremists. Some 600,000
Hungarian Jews were killed in or on the way to Nazi concentration camps
during World War II. Only 80,000 live in Hungary today. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN SOLDIERS CONFIRM MASSACRE, THEN DISAPPEAR. An ethnic Croat
serving with Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica last summer has said he
witnessed the murder of at least 1,200 Muslim prisoners after the town
fell. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 9 March quoted Drazen
Erdemovic as telling Le Figaro that he took part in the killings, as did
a friend of his who confirmed that the massacres had taken place. Both
men were then arrested by the Serbian police in Vojvodina on 3 March,
and nothing has been heard of them since. The U.S. has demanded that
Serbia free them so that they can testify before the war crimes tribunal
in The Hague. Meanwhile, that court on 8 March issued an international
arrest warrant for Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic for ordering a
deadly rocket attack on Zagreb last year. Martic is living in Banja Luka
on Bosnian Serb territory. -- Patrick Moore

BRITISH DAILY IDENTIFIES MAN BEHIND VISEGRAD KILLINGS. A Bosnian Serb
named Milan Lukic was responsible for the murders of hundreds of Muslims
from Visegrad after the historical town on the Drina fell to the Serbs
in 1992, The Guardian reported on 11 March. Victims were killed,
mutilated, and thrown off the Ottoman bridge, which was the centerpiece
of Ivo Andric's Nobel Prize-winning novel Bridge on the Drina. Lukic is
not wanted by The Hague and is reportedly working in a cafe in
Obrenovac, Serbia. AFP said that the article also revealed that a
concentration camp existed at nearby Uzamnica and that torture was
frequent there. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SHORTS. Some 7,000 Muslim civilians in the Bosnian federation
have still not been allowed to return to their homes in Croat-held Kulen
Vakuf. AFP on 11 March quoted Bosnian radio as saying that the deadline
agreed to in Rome passed the previous night. The same news agency
reported on 10 March that Bosnian TV has shown the first footage in
weeks of President Alija Izetbegovic, who is in the hospital with heart
problems. He has written to the international community's High
Representative Carl Bildt and IFOR commander Admiral Leighton Smith to
protest attempts at settling Sarajevo Serbs in the strategic Brcko area,
the fate of which will be determined later by international arbitration,
Nasa Borba noted. -- Patrick Moore

RALLIES IN BELGRADE . . . Some 50,000 people took part in rally in
Belgrade on 9 March to commemorate the fifth anniversary of
demonstrations in which some 100,000 had demanded the resignation of
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Nasa Borba reported on 10 and 11
March. Vuk Draskovic, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Zoran
Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party', and Vesna Pesic of the
Serbian Civic League were the key organizers of the event. They called
for an end to Milosevic's rule and pledged to cooperate in upcoming
elections. Scuffles with some demonstrators were reported, but police
kept a lower profile than in 1991, when at least two persons died. --
Stan Markotich

. . . WHILE STATE-RUN MEDIA TURN DEAF EAR. Most state-run media either
played down or ignored the 9 March demonstration, BETA reported. Radio
and Television Serbia reported only that the noon rally was delayed by
half an hour because the organizers were "waiting for more people to
show up." BETA also reported that the most comprehensive coverage was
provided by the independent Radio B92, which ran a special program on
the background to the rally and reported the full texts of the
opposition leaders' speeches. -- Stan Markotich

BUCHAREST SUBWAY STRIKE ESCALATES. Striking subway workers in Bucharest
on 9 March threatened to resign en masse and file requests for
emigration with Western embassies, Romanian and Western media reported.
The threat came after management of the state-run railroad company
released a communique saying employees refusing to go back to work or
obstructing the subway's day-to-day running would be fired. Premier
Nicolae Vacaroiu the previous day had made a similar statement. The
subway workers have been striking since 4 March for more pay and better
working conditions. -- Dan Ionescu

TWO DETAINED FOR NUCLEAR SMUGGLING IN ROMANIA. Romanian police on 8
March said they were holding two people on suspicion of smuggling
radioactive material, including uranium, Reuters reported. A spokesman
said police had arrested two men who were in possession of 82 kg of
unspecified radioactive material, including low-grade uranium. It was
alleged that they also had secret documents from the Oravita mine, where
they work. The spokesman added that, according to preliminary
investigations, the two planned to sell the radioactive material and
copies of important documents to an unidentified foreigner for some 10
million lei ($3,450). Since 1989, Romania has witnessed a surge in
uranium trafficking, mostly from Ukraine. In most cases amounts have
been small and materials have not been of bomb-making grade. -- Dan
Ionescu

ROMANIA SENDS MILITARY ENGINEERS TO BOSNIA. Romania on 8 March
dispatched a sapper battalion to Bosnia, Reuters and Radio Bucharest
reported. The 200-strong unit joined the NATO-led multi-national
peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca
said the unit will take part in road building and disarming mines. In
1994, Romania became the first East European country to sign up for
NATO's Partnership for Peace program. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS MEET IN SOFIA. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)
and its coalition partners--the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union
"Aleksandar Stamboliyski" and the Political Club "Ekoglasnost"--held a
plenary meeting on 10 March to assess the first year of BSP Chairman
Zhan Videnov's government, Standart reported. The Socialists gave a
positive overall rating but asked the government to take measures
against crime, examine its privatization policy, and complete land
reform. Speakers criticized several ministers, but the party leaders
refused to discuss personnel questions. Former Prime Minister Andrey
Lukanov said he has proof that the party--and hence the state--has
merged with the structures of the Interior Ministry. He added that this
signals the "return of Stalinism" in Bulgaria. -- Stefan Krause

TRIAL OPENS AGAINST FORMER BULGARIAN DICTATOR'S SON-IN-LAW. The trial
against Ivan Slavkov, chairman of both the Bulgarian Olympic Committee
and Soccer Association and son-in-law of former communist dictator Todor
Zhivkov, opened on 11 March. Slavkov is accused of misappropriating
state funds and of illegal possession of firearms. The investigation
against Slavkov began in 1990, but Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev
launched court proceeding against him after he was elected head of the
Soccer Association. According to 24 chasa, Slavkov repaid the sum of
14,410 leva (then around $14,000) before he was charged with
misappropriation. The daily also maintained that the illegal firearms
are a collection of sports guns. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN NATIONAL BANK CLOSES TWO PRIVATE BANKS. The Bulgarian National
Bank on 8 March closed two private banks, Pari reported. As of 31
January, the Private Agricultural and Investment Bank had amassed losses
of 795 million leva ($10.3 million). It had not submitted its accounts
for 1993 or 1994, nor had it made the required provisions against bad
loans. Kristalbank, which registered losses of 437 million leva, had
also been unable to make adequate provisions against debtors. Depositors
in the two banks will benefit from the BNB's decision earlier this month
to raise the maximum individual saving deposit that is 100% guaranteed
from 50,000 leva to 250,000, 24 chasa reported. Deposits of more than
250,000 leva will be compensated after all other creditors are paid off.
-- Michael Wyzan

TWO NEW POLITICAL PARTIES IN ALBANIA. The Albanian Ministry of Justice
on 9 March registered two new parties--the pro-monarchist Triumph of
Legality and Ideals of December, international agencies reported. This
brings the number of parties founded since 1990 to 38. The ministry had
earlier refused to register the Islamic Democratic Union and the right-
wing Party of National Restoration. The Supreme Court, however,
overruled the ban on the Nationalists but concluded that Albanian law
"forbids the creation of political parties on the basis of religion."
The creation of a communist party has been banned since 1992 as anti-
constitutional. -- Fabian Schmidt

EU GRANTS WHEAT AID TO ALBANIA. The EU is to send wheat worth 1.2
million ECU ($1.5 million) to Albania, international agencies reported.
Since January, there has been a shortage of cheap wheat in Albania,
which has been relying on foreign aid to subsidize bread prices. The
country has signed contracts with Romania, the U.S. and France for wheat
imports, most of which will be sold on the general market. The EU wheat
aid, however, is to go to orphanages, hospitals, schools, and needy
individuals. -- Fabian Schmidt

U.S. CRITICIZES ALBANIA'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. The annual State
Department human rights report on Albania said there was evidence of
police beatings, pressure on the judiciary, and press restrictions,
Reuters reported on 8 March. The report acknowledged that the government
of President Sali Berisha generally respected human rights but concluded
that serious problems remained, such as prolonged pre-trial detention,
poor prison conditions, and occasional restrictions on press and speech
freedom. It added that the judiciary is subject to political pressure.
The report also criticized the imprisonment of Socialist Party leader
Fatos Nano, saying his case was "handled by inexperienced, poorly
trained and underfunded investigators, prosecutors and judges in a
highly charged political atmosphere." "Many observers believe that Nano
was incarcerated because he was President Berisha's principal political
opponent," the report noted. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREEK POLITICIANS DISCUSS MACEDONIA. Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos
on 8 March said Greece is close to reaching a decision on its position
over the name of Macedonia and that "decisions have to be taken in
Skopje and Athens," Western agencies reported. He said relations with
Macedonia "are going from good to excellent," adding that the Greek
government will take a decision after talks with all political parties.
Prime Minister Kostas Simitis reportedly has asked to meet with
Miltiadis Evert, leader of the main opposition party New Democracy, and
with Antonis Samaras, chairman of the nationalistic Political Spring
party. Evert has not clarified his party's position, while Samaras is
opposed to any compromise on the name issue. Meanwhile, informed Greek
sources say Athens might accept New Macedonia as a compromise name. --
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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