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. 62, Part II, 27 March 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Slovak Parliament Approves Law on the Protection of the Republic and
   Ratifies Treaty with Hungary," by Sharon Fisher
-  "Serbian Opposition Leader Attacked by State Media," by Stan Markotich

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. The Slovak
parliament on 27 March approved the controversial law on the protection
of the republic by a vote of 77 to 57, Slovak and international media
reported. The new law allows the prosecution of individuals who "spread
false information" that could damage Slovakia's interests or who
organize public rallies "with the intention of subverting the country's
constitutional system, territorial integrity, or defense capability."
Critics claim the vaguely worded legislation allows for arbitrary
interpretation and endangers freedom of expression and assembly. They
also fear it will remove Slovakia from the list of front-runners for EU
membership. By approving the law, the parliament ignored protests from
the Catholic Church, trade unions, judges, and civic organizations. The
opposition plans to appeal the law at the Constitutional Court. --
Sharon Fisher
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

SLOVAKIA RATIFIES TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Just hours after approving the
law on the protection of the republic, the parliament ratified the
Slovak-Hungarian treaty by a vote of 119 to 1 with 19 abstentions,
Slovak media reported. It also adopted two accompanying clauses
specifying that the treaty cannot be interpreted as granting minorities
collective rights or the right to autonomy. The "interpretation" clauses
are not binding on Hungary. Ratification, which was delayed many times
because of opposition from the Slovak National Party (SNS), came more
than one year after the treaty was signed by Slovak and Hungarian Prime
Ministers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn. The SNS in January finally
agreed to support the treaty on condition that several laws were
approved, including the one on protection of the republic. Ethnic
Hungarian deputies abstained from the vote, complaining that since the
treaty was signed, the parliament has taken several steps to restrict
minority rights. -- Sharon Fisher

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS RAISE POVERTY THRESHOLD. The Ukrainian parliament on
25 March voted to raise the poverty threshold from below 5 million
karbovantsi to 6.8 million karbovantsi ($36) a month, Ukrainian Radio
reported. Legislators ordered the government to find funds to raise
pensions and social benefits to reflect the increase. In other news,
President Leonid Kuchma issued a decree creating a presidential Council
on Science and Scientific-Technical Policy to oversee reforms in science
and scientific research. He appointed Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of
his Security Council, as the new council's chairman. -- Chrystyna
Lapychak

UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE MARKS FOURTH ANNIVERSARY. Top officials at
the Ukrainian Security Service (SSU) marked the service's fourth
anniversary by summing up its achievements in combating organized crime
and corruption in the country, Ukrainian TV reported on 25 March. SSU
chief Volodymyr Radchenko said despite financial constraints, the
service last year recovered 23 trillion karbovantsi ($122 million) in
stolen or illicit funds. He also said it disbanded 450 criminal gangs,
uncovered 436 cases of official corruption, and averted 70 terrorist
acts. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BUDGET. The Belarusian parliament on 26
March approved the 1996 budget, which foresees $3.4 billion in revenues
and $3.9 billion in expenditures, Reuters reported. The $500 million
deficit is equivalent to 3.1% of GDP and exceeds the IMF's
recommendation that the deficit total 2.7% of GDP. The IMF stopped
granting credits to Belarus last September. The finance minister noted
that the budget did not include last-minute additions totaling $480
million in subsidies to the agricultural sector, which, he said, would
raise the deficit to more than 6% of GDP. He said that the budget was
unrealistic and that large-scale printing of new money was likely,
despite the inevitable increase in inflation. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RECEIVES U.S. ASSURANCES. Siim Kallas told AFP
on 26 March that he has received strong assurances from top officials in
Washington that Estonia can rely on the U.S. to help protect its
sovereignty. Kallas had complained to Secretary of State Warren
Christopher and his deputy Strobe Talbott on 25 March that Russia has
recently become more hostile toward Estonia. He received a pledge that
the U.S. will not recognize a union of former Soviet republics that was
not forged voluntarily. Kallas agreed with the U.S. view that Estonia
will have security guarantees by building closer ties with NATO and the
EU. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS. Guntis Ulmanis--accompanied by Foreign
Minister Valdis Birkavs, Defense Minister Andrejs Krastins, and other
ministers--began a four-day visit to Belgium on 25 March. The main
purpose of the visit is to draw attention to Latvia's desire to become a
member of NATO and the EU and to try to speed up the accession talks.
Ulmanis stressed this desire at meetings with NATO Secretary General
Javier Solana, European Commission president Jacques Santer, Western
European Union Secretary General Jose Cutileiro, and other officials,
Western agencies reported. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW CHIEF OF POLISH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE APPOINTED. Polish Defense
Minister Stanislaw Dobrzanski on 26 March dismissed Gen. Konstanty
Malejczyk, head of the Military Intelligence Service (WSI), and
appointed Navy Commander Kazimierz Glowacki to replace him. Glowacki has
worked for the WSI since 1991 and was head of the counter-intelligence
department until 1994. Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Eugeniusz
Mleczak said Glowacki also has had diplomatic experience in the West and
would therefore be a better head of the intelligence services during
integration with European security structures and NATO. -- Jakub
Karpinski

CZECH TRADE DEFICIT CONTINUES TO GROW. The Czech Republic recorded a
trade deficit of 8.7 billion crowns ($322 million) in February, bringing
the total for the year so far to 15.3 billion crowns ($562 million),
Czech media reported on 27 March. Compared with the first two months of
1995, imports rose 23.5% to 112.2 billion crowns ($4.15 billion), while
exports increased by 19.2% to 96.9 billion crowns ($3.588 billion).
Officials said February's figures were positive, pointing to a
significant rise in exports of machinery and motor vehicles and
increased exports to developing countries. Last year's trade deficit
totaled a record 96.7 billion crowns ($3.58 billion). -- Steve Kettle

CONFLICT OF INTERESTS BILL DIVIDES HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT. All seven
Hungarian parliamentary parties seem to disagree over the conflict of
interests bill, currently being discussed in parliament. Hungarian
dailies on 27 March reported that the most contentious issues are when
the law should take effect and whether deputies should be permitted to
hold other positions or participate in business activities. The bill was
proposed by five parliamentary parties after six years of political
wrangling, while the Young Democrats were opposed to it. Most deputies
agree that the issue should have been long settled, since the
parliament's reputation has suffered over cases such as "Oilgate," in
which deputies and ministers were accused of involvement in suspicious
deals related to Russian oil shipments to Hungary (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 8 December 1995). -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NATO WANTS MUJAHEDEEN OUT OF BOSNIA. President Alija Izetbegovic has
said in an interview with Focus and in a letter to U.S. senators that
only about 50-60 Iranian and other foreign Islamic fighters remain in
Bosnia. He added that they have taken Bosnian citizenship and become
civilians. IFOR disagrees, however, and says that "small groups" of
mujahedeen are still in place and are mainly involved in training, the
International Herald Tribune reported on 27 March. NATO and the U.S.
State Department called on the Bosnian government to send all foreign
forces home "immediately." According to the Dayton agreement, they were
supposed to have gone nearly two months ago. -- Patrick Moore

ARE RUMP YUGOSLAV TROOPS STILL IN BOSNIA? Dayton's ban on foreign troops
includes those from neighboring republics of the former Yugoslavia as
well. But OMRI's special correspondent in Sarajevo reported on 26 March
that journalists claim that rump Yugoslav troops are controlling sites
of alleged mass graves in eastern Bosnia. IFOR spokesman Simon Haselock
was asked by the journalists to comment, but he would neither deny their
story nor say whether the presence of Serbian troops represented a
violation of Dayton. OMRI's correspondent added that Russian IFOR
soldiers have been intimidating some 4,000 Muslims near Zvornik in
disputed territory and telling them to leave. The Russians also
allegedly told the residents to take down the Bosnian flag, which they
called "Muslim." -- Patrick Moore

SERBS, CROATS REACH AGREEMENT ON PRISONER EXCHANGE. Bosnian Serb
parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir
Zubak have agreed to free all of each other's prisoners. Zubak said in
Pale that the deal involves the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, the
Republika Srpska, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and will be
carried out in two days, Nasa Borba reported on 27 March. Also in Pale,
Bosnian Serb spokesmen told UN human rights envoy Elisabeth Rehn that
the fate of 2,000 Bosnian Serbs remains unclear in the wake of last
fall's allied offensive in western Bosnia. In Dobrinja, three young
Muslim males were arrested on 19 March by Serbs, Dnevni avaz said on 27
March. And in Grbavica, federal police arrested a Bosnian Serb
interpreter working for the UN police about ten days ago, AFP reported
on 27 March. They did not give any reason for holding the interpreter.
-- Patrick Moore

KARADZIC TO RUN IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA ELECTIONS? Republika Srpska Vice
President Nikola Koljevic on 26 March said Bosnian Serb civilian leader
Radovan Karadzic may run in the upcoming elections in the Republika
Srpska, Greek and Western media reported. During a visit to the Greek
city of Thessaloniki, Koljevic said the Dayton accords bar Karadzic from
holding office but do not rule out his candidacy. He added that the
Bosnian Serb civilian leadership is focusing its efforts on Karadzic's
candidacy, despite the fact that he has been indicted as a war criminal
by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
"External pressures" will not result in division among the Bosnian Serb
leadership, Koljevic added. He said he will consider running for the
Republika Srpska presidency if asked to do so, but he "will not even
think about it if I am to be Mr. Karadzic's opponent." -- Stefan Krause

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CRITICIZED BY STATE-RUN MEDIA. Vuk Draskovic,
leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), has become the latest
target of a state-run media campaign. Draskovic recently sent a letter
to the Foreign Ministries of the U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France,
Germany, and Italy alleging that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is
consolidating "a one-party dictatorship" and is waging a campaign of
repression (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 March 1995). Vecernji novosti on
26 March dubbed Draskovic a common criminal and called on prosecutors to
file charges "to protect the country from attacks by foreign powers
called for [by Draskovic]." State-run Borba said the letter was "a nail
in the coffin of Draskovic's political ambitions." Nasa Borba on 27
March quotes Draskovic saying the media campaign was not unexpected. --
Stan Markotich

NEW RADICALS IN MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATURE. Eight members of the Serbian
Radical Party of Montenegro (SRSCG) took their places in the Montenegrin
legislature for the first time on 25 March. Last spring, members of the
Belgrade-based Serbian Radical Party (SRS) who were loyal to Vojislav
Seselj, flamboyant leader of the SRS and an accused war criminal, had
their mandates revoked. Seselj continues to advocate establishing a
centralized Serbian state and removing any traces of autonomy for
Montenegro. The new crop of Radicals are entering the legislature on the
understanding that "there will be no return to 'Seseljism,'" Montena-fax
reported on 25 March. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST DRAFT PRESS LAW. The Croatian Journalists
Society has called the press law submitted to the parliament a threat to
free speech and democracy, Novi list reported on 27 March. The measure,
which was introduced by the governing Croatian Democratic Community
(HDZ), would allow government officials to sue journalists who offend
them for libel. It also includes a vague provision allowing journalists
to be punished for reporting "state secrets." The HDZ has near total
control of the electronic media, and the independent mass-circulation
press is limited to one daily and two weeklies. -- Patrick Moore

U.S. REASSURES ROMANIA ABOUT NATO MEMBERSHIP. U.S. Ambassador in
Bucharest Alfred Moses on 26 March told journalists that there will be
"no ranking, no handicapping" for East European countries applying for
NATO membership, Radio Bucharest reported. Moses was seeking to clarify
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher's speech in Prague last week,
which was widely interpreted in Bucharest as suggesting that Romania may
be relegated to a second tier for NATO membership. Meanwhile, Adrian
Nastase, executive chairman of the ruling Party for Social Democracy in
Romania, said that Romanians should continue to "act as if there were no
differences between us and the others." -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT WARNS OF MASSIVE SOCIAL UNREST. Mircea Snegur,
meeting with leaders of the Moldovan National Trade Union Federation on
26 March, said that if the government fails to undertake urgent measures
to resolve outstanding social problems, Moldova will likely suffer
massive social unrest, Moldovan agencies reported. Snegur said that only
31% of the 26,400 registered unemployed receive unemployment benefits.
Real wages are decreasing, and wage arrears now total 2.6 billion lei
($572 million). Snegur had issued a decree in early February urging the
government to pay pension, wage, and other arrears by 31 March.
Meanwhile, trade union leader Ion Godonoga said the government has
failed to honor its agreements with the trade unions. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN CHURCH ABOUT TO SPLIT? The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is about
to officially split, Bulgarian dailies reported on 27 March. The church
split unofficially in 1992 when the government's Department for
Ecclesiastical Issues declared Patriarch Maksim's election in 1971
invalid and appointed a new synod under Metropolit Pimen. Maksim and the
old synod never recognized this decision, and the Ecumenical
Patriarchate backed them. Pimen's associates on 26 March said they will
call a national council in June and form a second Orthodox church. They
also decided to break off talks with Maksim and his supporters and to
ask for registration as a separate church. They expect to be recognized
by other Orthodox churches. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Deputy Prime Minister
and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov on 26 March said there is no
grain shortage and that mills and silos are filled with flour and grain,
24 chasa reported. But millers claim that there is grain for one week
only. Videnov accused private bakeries in Sofia of trying to find
excuses for raising bread prices. In other news, Petyo Blaskov--co-owner
of the 168 Hours Press Group, which publishes Bulgaria's biggest daily,
24 chasa--will run for president in the upcoming elections, LEFF
reported on 26 March. He has the support of the New Bulgaria party. --
Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER FACES ARREST. Secretary-General of the
Albanian Socialist Party Gramoz Ruci has been charged with ordering the
killing of Albanians fleeing the country in the first half of 1991 and
four supporters of democratic reform in April 1991, Albanian media
reported. Ruci was interior minister from February to June 1991. He is
also charged with the destruction of secret police files. The
Prosecutor's Office has asked the parliament to lift his immunity before
it dissolves itself on 3 April, international agencies reported on 26
March. The charges are made under the so-called "Genocide Law" passed in
September 1995. -- 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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