The essence of our effort to see that every child has a chance must be to assure each an equal opportunity, not to become equal, but to become, different- to realize whatever unique potential of body, mind and spirit he or she possesses. - John Fischer
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 53, Part II, 14 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
TENSIONS BETWEEN CROATIAN, MUSLIM POLICE IN ILIDZA. The mainly Muslim
federal police on 12 and 13 March turned back from Ilidza detachments of
Croatian police from Kiseljak, AFP reported. The ostensible reason was
that the Croats were wearing their own blue uniforms instead of the
federal green, Oslobodjenje pointed out on 14 March. The real problem,
however, is underlying mistrust or even bad faith. Mladen Tolo, the
Croatian commander of Kiseljak's police and one of those turned away,
said: "This means there is no federation. The [Muslims are] not
accepting us as partners and allies." This is the second transfer of a
Sarajevo suburb from Serbian to federal control that has been marked by
tensions between the Croatian and federal police. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

NEW UKRAINIAN CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF APPOINTED. President Leonid Kuchma
has issued a decree appointing Lt.-Gen. Oleksandr Zatynaiko as chief of
the general staff of Ukraine's armed forces, Ukrainian Radio reported on
12 March. The position also carries the rank of first deputy defense
minister. Zatynaiko has been acting chief of staff since Kuchma
dismissed Anatolii Lopata from the post last month. Defense Ministry
spokesman Valerii Korol on 13 March said the army would be trimmed down
from its current size of 420,000 to 350,000 by the end of the year,
Reuters reported. This means Ukraine's army will no longer be Europe's
second largest; rather, it will occupy fourth place after Russia,
Germany, and France. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE CUTS SUBSIDIES FOR RENTS, UTILITIES. Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Pynzenyk said Ukraine this year will cut subsidies for consumer
rents and utilities by 20%, Ukrainian agencies reported 12 March. He
added that the government is planning to eliminate these subsidies
altogether in 1997. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

TV DEBATE OVER RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN ACCORDS. Syarhei Kalyakin, head of the
Party of Communists of Belarus, and Mykola Statkevich, head of the
Social Democratic Hramada, took part in a Belarusian TV debate on 12
March over President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's recent visit to Russia.
Kalyakin said he did not feel agreements reached during the visit
infringed on Belarusian sovereignty, since they were not of a political
nature. Statkevich responded that this argument, which has also been
made by the Belarusian press, appears logical. But he stressed that the
creation of supranational structures and the presence of foreign troops
on Belarusian territory--which are ignored by the press--do present a
threat to the country's sovereignty. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT'S CENTER CAUCUS SPLITS. Seven of the 16 members of
the Center Party on 13 March decided to form a new liberal-centrist
caucus, ETA reported. They back current party head Andra Veidemann, who
is opposed by supporters of former party chairman Edgar Savisaar.
Savisaar resigned as interior minister and chairman in the fall over his
alleged involvement in the secret taping of conversations with other
Estonian officials. Veidemann said that all the caucus members will
remain in the party until it holds its congress on 30 March. -- Saulius
Girnius

FORMER LATVIAN NKVD HEAD DIES IN PRISON. Alfons Noviks, head of the NKVD
Soviet security police in Latvia from 1940 to 1953, died in prison of 12
March, Western agencies reported the next day. A Riga court sentenced
the 88-year-old Noviks to life imprisonment on 13 December 1995 for
crimes against humanity. He was convicted of being one of the chief
organizers of mass deportations, persecutions, and murders of thousands
of Latvians. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES TO CONSIDER LIBERALIZING ABORTION LAW.
The parliament on 13 March sent a bill liberalizing the anti-abortion
law to legislative committees for further discussion, Polish media
reported. Parliamentary committees for social policy, justice, and human
rights will examine the draft law, which would allow women to terminate
a pregnancy up to the 12th week if they are in a difficult social
situation or have financial problems. Gazeta Wyborcza on 14 March
reported that a group of some 150 pro-life activists staged a
demonstration outside the parliament. The current law, which has the
support of the Roman Catholic Church, provides for two-year prison
sentences for doctors who perform abortions. Polish women have had to
seek terminations either abroad or illegally in Poland. -- Dagmar
Mroziewicz

POLISH FILM DIRECTOR DIES. Krzysztof Kieslowski on 13 March died of a
heart attack following by-pass surgery, Polish and international media
reported. Born in 1941, Kieslowski attended Poland's Lodz Film School
and was a student of renowned Polish director Andrzej Wajda. He was best
known for his trilogy Three Colors--Blue, White, Red, which explored
contemporary moral dilemmas. In 1994, Kieslowski announced he was giving
up filmmaking, but he was later reported to have envisaged a return to
directing. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

SLOVAK OPPOSITION TO COOPERATE. Slovak opposition parties on 13 March
announced they will not call the extraordinary parliamentary session on
which they had agreed two days earlier. Instead, they will try to expand
the session beginning on 20 March by seven points, Slovak media
reported. Those points will deal mainly with the kidnapping of President
Michal Kovac's son, the role of the Slovak Information Service, and
privatization. Democratic Party chairman Jan Langos noted it is the
"first time ever" that opposition parties have agreed on a joint
strategy. The session promises to be a stormy one, since topics of
discussion proposed by the coalition include the territorial
administration bill, the law on the protection of the republic, and the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAKS SUPPORT RATIFICATION OF TREATY WITH HUNGARY. A FOCUS poll
carried out in mid-February showed that 50.8% of Slovaks favor the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty, while 15.5% are opposed and 33.7% are uncertain
or uninterested, Narodna obroda reported on 14 March. Ethnic Hungarians
were most likely to favor the treaty, while supporters of the
Association of Workers of Slovakia and the Slovak National Party were
most likely to reject it. In other news, Hungarian Foreign Ministry
State Secretary Istvan Szent-Ivanyi has said the draft law on Slovakia's
new territorial arrangement conflicts with the treaty. Szent-Ivanyi's
Slovak counterpart, Jozef Sestak, denied those claims in an interview
with Pravda on 14 March. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY APPROVES SOCIAL SECURITY BUDGET. The Hungarian parliament on 12
March approved Hungary's 1996 social security budget, Reuters and AFP
reported on 13 March. The budget aims to cut the social security deficit
for 1996 to 17.8 billion forints ($122 million) from 47.2 billion last
year. Officials said the budget complies fully with IMF conditions and
that the country's overall budget deficit should fall to below 4% of
GDP. The government plans to reduce the shortfall in the social security
budget by collecting unpaid contributions; but this could increase the
budget deficit, since state-owned firms reportedly owe most of the
arrears. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW AGAINST RACIAL INCITEMENT. The
parliament on 13 March approved an amendment to the Penal Code allowing
courts to take more powerful action against extremists, AFP reported.
Under the new law, anyone who incites hatred against any national,
ethnic, racial, religious, or social group is subject to imprisonment of
up to three years. Ethnic violence is punishable by up to five years in
jail. The bill, which was approved by a margin of 212 to eight with 44
abstentions, follows the recent acquittal of two Hungarian neo-Nazi
leaders. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

VIOLENCE AGAINST SERBS IN ILIDZA. Muslim gangs from Sarajevo continue to
terrorize the Serbs who resisted arson and intimidation from their own
side to stay in their homes in Ilidza, the BBC reported on 13 March.
There has been some increase in police protection, but over 100 cases of
actions against Serbs have been reported. Muslims have been telling
Serbs they intend to move into their homes, and many Serbs have fled or
are wondering what to do next, Reuters noted. The key issue for IFOR is
to prevent a repeat in Grbavica of the events of recent days in Ilidza.
Crack French and Italian patrols have accordingly been stepped up in
Grbavica, the next suburb slated to pass to federal control. Reports are
nonetheless already coming in of Serbian "intimidation squads" on the
move, AFP stated. -- Patrick Moore

FRANCE, SERBIA OPPOSED TO LIFTING ARMS EMBARGO. The ban on light arms
sales to the former Yugoslav republics was lifted on 14 March in keeping
with the Dayton agreement. The aim of the American architects of the
treaty was to allow the Muslims and Croats to achieve some kind of
parity with the heavily armed Serbs and thereby deter the latter from
new aggression. U.S. officials said they plan to go ahead with a
military assistance plan costing some $700-800 million, AFP reported.
Rump Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic said, however, that "it would be
unreasonable while the peace process is in progress to undertake to arm
any party." Serbia's traditional ally, France, has taken a similar view;
and Foreign Ministry spokesman Yves Dutriaux told reporters that "France
has two priorities in the region, stability and reconstruction.
Rearmament is not a priority." This view will be represented by the EU
at the 15 March conference in Ankara on arming the federation. --
Patrick Moore

SARAJEVO MAYOR RESIGNS OVER CANTON ISSUE. Tarik Kupusovic has resigned
over the Sarajevo authorities' decision to make the city a canton,
Oslobodjenje and Onasa reported. The Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ)
says it considers Sarajevo's cantonal arrangement unconstitutional, but
Omer Ibrahimagic, president of the city commission in charge of
transforming Sarajevo into a canton, has said it is in accordance with
the federal constitution. Ibrahimagic noted that under the new
arrangement, the mandates of the old city assembly deputies and
officials, including that of the mayor, cease to exist. Meanwhile, the
HDZ has appealed to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman for support in
protecting Bosnian Croat political and national interests. It has also
urged Croatian officials in the Bosnian Federation to halt their
involvement in implementing the civilian part of the Dayton peace
accord. -- Daria Sito Sucic

OIC PLEDGES TO HELP BOSNIA. An Islamic aid mobilization group on 12
March pledged to help Bosnia in its reconstruction and in pursuing
trials of war criminals, Onasa reported, citing Reuters. The pledge came
after a two-day meeting of the 51-nation Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC). The OIC said the Islamic contribution would be within
the framework of the Dayton peace accord, and it asked OIC member states
to actively contribute to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of
Bosnia. In another development, Russia has said it disapproves of the
U.S. decision to grant military aid to the Bosnian Federation. It noted
that it will not take part in the 15 March Ankara Conference on military
aid for the Bosnian Federation, which is sponsored by the U.S. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ON CROATIAN, RUMP YUGOSLAV RELATIONS. Leader
of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Vojislav Kostunica on 13 March
said that relations between Croatia and rump Yugoslavia "certainly must
be normalized." He stressed, however, that any improvement in bilateral
relations would entail addressing "the question of the remaining Serbs
in Croatia as well as those Serbs who left Croatia," Beta reported.
Kostunica also commented that Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic had no
intention to discuss the topic with Croatian officials. Kostunica
alleged that the interests of the Serbs outside the rump Yugoslavia were
being harmed by Western powers, notably the U.S. -- Stan Markotich

MONTENEGRINS WARY OF SERBIAN "LINGUISTIC OCCUPATION." The Montenegrin
PEN club's committee for the use of language and history of literature
on 11 March protested what it dubbed the "Serbianization" of the
Montenegrin language. According to the Club, the preference given to the
Ekavian variant of the language--which is spoken in Serbia--over the
local Montenegrin Ijekavian is clear evidence of creeping
"Serbianization." Montena-fax quoted club members as saying that since
"1989, there has been a grave process of linguistic Serbianization in
Montenegro--clearly under way in [many walks of] life, in the military,
police, political, cultural, and economic occupation of Montenegro." --
Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN BANKING SCANDAL. The Romanian National Bank has dismissed 10
executives from a leading commercial bank, the Cluj-based Dacia-Felix,
and assumed direct supervision over it. Romanian TV on 13 March said
bank president Ioan Sima, its vice presidents, and the entire
administrative council were dismissed and banned from holding leading
positions in the banking system for the next five years. Dacia-Felix was
accused of "grave" irregularities, especially in credit operations and
hard-currency transactions. National Bank Governor,Mugur Isarescu told
Adevarul on 14 March that the losses of the bank currently amount to 800
billion lei ($300 million). -- Michael Shafir

HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY IN ROMANIA TO APPEAL TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
Iuliu Vida, leader of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
(UDMR) caucus in the Chamber of Deputies, said the draft law on local
administration adopted by the chamber on 12 March will have a negative
impact on the right of minorities to safeguard their national identity.
Vida told a press conference that the UDMR will appeal the bill before
the Council of Europe. The legislation stipulates that the Romanian
language must be used at local council meetings even in regions where
the majority is not Romanian. He said there were no other legal venues
to appeal the bill, since it cannot be taken to the Constitutional
Court, Radio Bucharest reported on 13 March. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT, OFFICIALS DISCUSS CORRUPTION. Mircea Snegur on 13
March discussed with senior Interior Ministry officials ways to combat
corruption, BASA-press and Moldpres reported. Snegur said that
corruption had spread to most branches of the administration. He added
that his "declaration of war" on corruption has resulted in a "political
offensive" against him. Meanwhile, the government's Commission for
Foreign Trade Regulation rejected accusations made by Snegur during a
recent parliamentary debate on corruption. The president had claimed
that the commission authorized the export of "huge quantities" of sun-
flower seeds and non-ferrous metals under dubious circumstances. --
Steliana Hanganu

BULGARIA, SLOVENIA AGREE TO BOOST COOPERATION. Slovenian President Milan
Kucan and his Bulgarian counterpart, Zhelyu Zhelev, meeting in Sofia on
13 March, agreed to improve cooperation between their countries,
Bulgarian and Western media reported. They also agreed to sign accords
on protection of investments and on avoiding double taxation. Kucan said
that while Slovenia supports Bulgaria's initiative for a meeting of
Balkan foreign ministers, it will attend only as an observer because
"Slovenia looks at the Balkans through the eyes of a Central European
country." Kucan also met with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and
Parliamentary President Blagovest Sendov. In other news, Videnov on 14
March began a two-day official visit to Russia, Duma reported. -- Stefan
Krause

GREECE, BULGARIA DISAGREE OVER OIL PIPELINE PROJECT. Greece and Bulgaria
disagree over which companies should take part in a $700 million oil
pipeline project, Reuters reported on 13 March. The pipeline will have a
capacity of 600,000 barrels a day and will transport Russian crude oil
from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to the Greek harbor town of
Alexandroupolis. It will be built and operated by a Russian-Bulgarian-
Greek company. Sofia wants fewer Greek construction firms involved,
while Athens reportedly has promised a big share of the spoils to
private Greek firms. Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Construction
Minister Doncho Konakchiev said feasibility studies and economic reports
must be completed before deciding which companies take part. -- Stefan
Krause

ONE ALBANIAN DROWNS, 30 MISSING AFTER BOAT CAPSIZES. One Albanian
drowned and another 30 are missing after a boat capsized near Otranto,
Zeri i Popullit reported on 14 March. The group came from Maqella in the
Dibra region and wanted to illegally immigrate to Italy. The accident is
the latest in a series of maritime accidents. Small motor boats crossing
the Adriatic are mostly overfilled, and fires often occur, since the
boats carry additional fuel in canisters. -- Fabian Schmidt

UPDATE ON ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS' TRIALS. Populli Po chief editor Arben
Hasani was fined $1,000 on 12 March for publishing an article saying
that the Kosovars brought drugs and prostitution to Albania, Koha Jone
reported. The cultural organization Kosova brought the charges against
Hasani. On 18 March, he is to stand trial again--this time on charges of
reporting incorrect information. The Albanian secret service SHIK claims
that Hasani wrongly reported that a policeman in Shkoder had accused
SHIK of involvement in the killing of a local opposition politician.
Meanwhile, Koha Jone chief editor Aleksander Frangaj went on trial on 13
March for publishing an article about alleged corruption among police
officers in Gjirokastra. -- Fabian Schmidt

[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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