There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 65, Part II, 1 April 1996


New OMRI Analytical Briefs:
-  "Belgrade Committed to Sheltering War Criminals," by Stan Markotich
-  "Tajikistan:  The Unseen Cost," by Bruce Pannier
-  "CIS Integration:  A Gradual Approach," by Roger Kangas
-  "The Vagaries of Russia's Abkhaz Policy," by Liz Fuller
-  "Yeltsin's Chechen Peace Plan:  Can it Work?," by Liz Fuller

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
TENS OF THOUSANDS MARCH IN MINSK TO SUPPORT UNION WITH RUSSIA.
Communists and trade unionists organized a march in Minsk on 31 March in
support of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's plans to sign a union
agreement with Russia on 2 April, Western agencies reported. According
to unofficial estimates, the number of people involved in the rally
exceeded those who protested against the agreement one week ago. Several
hundred students, waving flags and singing the national anthem,
demonstrated against the union before the police dispersed them. Two
days earlier the parliament voted by 157 to five to approve the
president's plan to sign the agreement. But it included a point stating
that integration was voluntary "based on the principle of state
sovereignty, maintenance of territorial integrity, equal rights,
and...non-interference in internal affairs." -- Saulius Girnius
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE TO SELL 25 STRATEGIC BOMBERS TO RUSSIA. Russian Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev on 29 March said his government will buy 25 strategic
bombers from Ukraine, Russian agencies reported. Grachev said he
concluded the agreement in talks with Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii
Shmarov on 29 March in Tysovets, Ukraine. Kyiv will provide Moscow with
10 Tu-160 and 15 Tu-95 MS bombers, along with some 300 air-to-ground
guided missiles. In return, Russia will transfer a number of AN-24 and
AN-27 military transport planes, Mi-8 transport helicopters, eight
training MiG-29s, and four Su-27 aircraft. Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia
are continuing talks on basing their parts of the Black Sea Fleet in
Crimea, RFE/RL reported. The countries' deputy prime ministers met in
Moscow on 29 March to discuss financial differences over the fleet's
division. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS ROUNDUP. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen
Marchuk and his Romanian counterpart, Nicolae Vacaroiu, signed several
trade and commercial agreements in Izmail, Ukraine, on 29 March. But
they failed to make progress on resolving their ongoing territorial
disputes, Western and Ukrainian media reported. Romania has insisted
that Ukraine denounce secret protocols in the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop
Pact giving the former Soviet Ukraine some Romanian territory. Kyiv has
refused out of fear that Bucharest will re-claim its borderlands. In
other news, international agencies reported on 29 March that the U.S.
and Ukraine have agreed to create a research center on the site of the
Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii
Kostenko and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Terry Lash signed an
agreement establishing the $3 million International Chornobyl Center on
Nuclear Security. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

POLISH PRESIDENT IN BELARUS. Aleksander Kwasniewski on 30 March met with
his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Polish dailies
reported. Lukashenka assured Kwasniewski that a new treaty between
Belarus and Russia does not mean that Belarus will lose its
independence. Kwasniewski also met with Belarusian opposition leaders,
but Lukashenka reportedly insisted that some of his supporters also be
present at the meeting. -- Jakub Karpinski

FORMER LATVIAN COMMUNIST HEAD DOES NOT WANT AMNESTY. Alfreds Rubiks, in
an open letter to the Russian-language newspaper Panorama Latvii on 29
March, said he would turn down an amnesty, BNS reported. Rubiks, who was
first secretary of the Latvian Communist Party from 1990-1991, was
sentenced in July 1995 to eight years in prison for attempting to
overthrow the government in 1991. Some Saeima and Council of Europe
deputies earlier this year petitioned President Guntis Ulmanis to
amnesty him, and the Russian State Duma recently sent an appeal to the
Saeima asking for his immediate release. Rubiks wrote that he is
convinced that the unlawful character of his conviction will be
recognized. He predicted that the Russian presidential elections will
change the political situation in Latvia, adding that he hoped it would
be for the better. -- Saulius Girnius

RESIGNATION OF POLISH PUBLIC TV PRESIDENT ACCEPTED. The Supervisory
Council of Polish Public TV has accepted the resignation of TVP
President Wieslaw Walendziak. The council also dismissed the four other
members of TVP's board of managers, Polish dailies reported on 30 March.
Walendziak was appointed two years ago and was the first president of
TVP following its transformation into a shareholders' company.
Walendziak largely succeeded in making the TVP immune to political
pressures. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH CENTER-RIGHT PLANS ALLIANCE. Leaders of center-right parties--the
Conservative Party, the Christian Popular Party and the right-wing
faction of the Freedom Union--met in Warsaw on 30 March to discuss
forming an election alliance, Polish dailies reported. Parliamentary
elections are scheduled for next year. More than 500 delegates to the
meeting signed a statement calling for "a broad center-right alliance."
In another development, the Sejm on 29 March elected Adam Zielinski as
civil rights ombudsman. Zielinski is a judge at the Human Rights Chamber
in Bosnia-Herzegovina and former president of the Supreme Administrative
Court. His election must be approved by the Senate. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PREMIER, COALITION PARTNERS IN PRE-ELECTION DISPUTE. Vaclav Klaus
on 31 March rejected criticism from the two junior coalition parties,
the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) and Christian Democratic Union-
Czechoslovak People's Party (KDU-CSL), over those parts of the
government program that will not be implemented before the upcoming
elections, Czech media reported. Klaus told a conference of his Civic
Democratic Party (ODS), which has an outright majority in the cabinet,
that all coalition partners were responsible for the government program.
He also listed a series of alleged shortcomings in policy areas where
ODA politicians are in charge. Rebuffing Klaus's criticism, ODA Deputy
Chairman Libor Kudlacek said all parties should recognize their errors,
while KDU-CSL Chairman Josef Lux said it was legitimate to point out
publicly who was responsible for failures. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC LAW. Vladimir Meciar
told Slovak Radio on 29 March that the law on the protection of the
republic is necessary because of "intensifying attacks aimed at morally
and politically destroying state organs." He also condemned "a certain
group of politicians" calling for a referendum on self-determination for
minorities in southern Slovakia. He criticized the opposition's "high
level of intolerance" demonstrated during the parliamentary discussion
of the new legislation. "What right do they have to call coalition
deputies fascists?" Meciar asked. He went on to stress that the law will
prevent such forces from gaining power. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP. The parliament on 29 March re-approved an income tax law
vetoed by President Michal Kovac the previous month. The law states that
if a firm is bought from the National Property Fund at a reduced price
and under the condition that the money saved is used for investment, the
new owner will not have to pay taxes on such income. Speaking before the
parliament, Kovac criticized the fact that the law applies only to some
investors and stressed the need to preserve equality for all citizens.
In other news, Bela Bugar on 30 March was reelected chairman of the
Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement. At a Slovak National Party
(SNS) congress, the party approved declarations condemning the
opposition and the president. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY JOINS OECD. Hungary on 29 March became the 27th country to join
the OECD, international media reported. Documents were signed by
Hungarian Trade and Industry Minister Imre Dunai and OECD Secretary-
General Jean-Claude Paye during a ceremony at the OECD Paris
headquarters. Hungary will be now be able to attend all OECD meetings--
including those of its council--as an observer. Once the parliament has
ratified the final documents, Hungary will become a full member. The
Czech Republic became the first former communist country to join the
OECD last December. Poland is expected to join later this year, while
OECD officials say Slovakia has no real chance to join before 1997. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS ELECT NEW PRESIDIUM. The ruling Socialist Party, at
a congress over the weekend, elected new leaders and reaffirmed support
for the government's economic stabilization program, Hungarian dailies
reported on 1 April. Standing as the only candidate, Prime Minister
Gyula Horn was re-elected party chairman by an overwhelming majority.
The congress voted to reduce the size of the Presidium and replaced most
of its members. It also defined the Socialists' top priorities as
implementing public finance reform and drafting a new constitution.
Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman said after the congress that he
would quit the Socialist Party because he was not elected to the
Presidium. He added he would remain in the cabinet as an independent. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

YET ANOTHER AGREEMENT ON CROATIAN-MUSLIM FEDERATION. International
mediators met with top Bosnian Croat and Muslim leaders on 30 March to
conclude a 20-point program aimed at strengthening the shaky federation,
Oslobodjenje reported. One mediator said that three things are new about
the text: neither side will be allowed to set conditions; municipalities
and cantons that do not implement the pact will not get international
aid; officials who balk can lose their jobs, Onasa news agency reported
on 31 March. The text sets target dates for establishing a joint bank
and budget. It also includes provisions for other common institutions,
including customs offices. Skeptics charged that it is just one more
attempt at cajoling the two sides into doing what they have already
agreed to do many times before. But U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter
Galbraith told the BBC that the pact is "very significant" and that it
involves "converting a piece of paper into the real thing." -- Patrick
Moore

IFOR TO ACT AGAINST CHECKPOINTS. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry
announced in Bosnia on 29 March that IFOR will take "vigorous action" to
ensure freedom of movement, the Onasa news agency reported. He added
that checkpoints must be eliminated. Meanwhile, indicted war criminal
Radovan Karadzic made his first public appearance in some time,
apparently without any interference from IFOR. He spoke at a factory
near Pale and handed out medals to Bosnian Serb fighters, Reuters said
on 31 March. Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic appealed to IFOR to
arrest Karadzic, saying that the "NATO military is capable of removing
[him and Gen. Ratko Mladic]. We are begging [IFOR] to do it. There will
be no free elections with Karadzic still in power." Meanwhile in Zagreb,
the Croatian Helsinki Committee condemned the "plundering and mining" of
homes belonging to Serbs in the former Krajina region. The report added
that Interior Ministry officials were involved in violations of Serbs'
human rights, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 1 April. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN WAR CRIMES UPDATE. IFOR commander U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith
has said his troops will assist in war crimes investigations for the
first time. They will provide security and other assistance to an
international team in the Srebrenica area, news agencies reported on 31
March. The investigators from The Hague have arrived in Bosnia to
inspect 12 reputed sites of war crimes in what the BBC called the
court's "politically most sensitive mission to date." Meanwhile in
Mrkonjic Grad, Bosnian Serbs have so far exhumed 28 bodies from a mass
grave in the presence of international observers. The investigation is
continuing, and bodies of civilians and soldiers alike appear to be
involved in deaths that date back to the battle for the area last fall,
AFP noted on 1 April. In Banja Luka, a Bosnian Serb military court
sentenced a Croat, Ivan Stjepanovic, to death for war crimes involving
the death of 80 Serbs in the contested Posavina region. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS SENT TO THE HAGUE. Belgrade authorities have
turned over the suspected war criminals Drazen Erdemovic and Radoslav
Kremenovic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia, RFE/RL reported on 30 March. The two men were arrested in
the Vojvodina city of Novi Sad on 2 March. They are believed to have
been key witnesses to the massacre of Muslim civilians last summer, when
the "safe haven" of Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces. A
representative of the tribunal said both were being treated as witnesses
but that they may also be prosecuted. Erdemovic is suspected of having
participated in the mass killings, and his testimony may link Bosnian
Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic to the atrocity. --
Stan Markotich

SERBIAN OPPOSITION ORGANIZES ANOTHER RALLY. Three Serbian opposition
parties--the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, and the
Serbian Civic League--organized a mass meeting in Nis over the weekend,
Nasa Borba reported. The parties called for the opposition to unite, and
party leaders proposed an election coalition under the banner "A Unified
List Against the Communists." Estimates of the number of people who
attended vary from several thousand to tens of thousands. Meanwhile,
members of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia downplayed the event. TV
Serbia on 30 March reported that Mile Ilic, head of the Nis SPS, said
the opposition party leaders were "uninvited guests." He said that their
efforts would only encourage the local population to "support the SPS
and Slobodan Milosevic." -- Stan Markotich

STOCK EXCHANGE OPENS IN SKOPJE. The first Macedonian Stock Exchange
opened in Skopje on 28 March. Dnevnik reported that nine brokerage
companies carried out 25 transactions involving 395 shares worth a total
of $15,000. Some 60 brokers have been trained in Macedonia as part of
the Know-How Funds Project and have received international trading
licenses. Banks, insurance companies, and savings institutions will
trade on the exchange until the government passes a new law on setting
up brokerage companies. -- Branko Geroski in Skopje

U.S. TO HELP MOLDOVA SOLVE DNIESTER CONFLICT. A high-ranking U.S.
diplomat on 31 March said that the U.S. is ready to help Moldova settle
its dispute with Dniester separatists, Reuters reported. Ambassador
Joseph Presel, coordinator for regional affairs in charge of the newly
independent states, was quoted as saying that the Dniester issue could
be raised at the U.S.-Russian summit in Moscow next month. But he added
that it was unlikely that "any serious progress" could take place before
the Russian presidential elections. Presel is currently on a three-day
visit to Moldova, where he met with Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and
other senior officials. He is expected to visit the Dniester region on 1
April. -- Dan Ionescu

YELTSIN REMARK PROVOKES SHARP RESPONSE IN BULGARIA. Bulgarian President
Zhelyu Zhelev and the Bulgarian opposition have responded sharply to a
remark by Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the signing last week of
the regional integration agreement (see Part 1 of today's OMRI Daily
Digest), RFE/RL reported. Yeltsin had commented that "the community is
open to other states...perhaps, for example, Bulgaria." Zhelev on 30
March said it was "scandalous to include Bulgaria in a community we have
never discussed." He demanded that the government announce whether it
has conducted secret talks with Moscow, otherwise he would be forced to
believe that it is "committing treason." Opposition leaders denounced
the government and said they would organize demonstrations against what
they labeled "Soviet Union II." Government spokesman Nikola Baltov the
next day denied that the government has held any talks that could be
interpreted as "backstage dealings." He said Zhelev's remarks were
"perplexing." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION SIGNS AGREEMENT ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The
Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), the People's Union, and the mainly
ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) on 29 March signed
an agreement providing for a joint candidate in the upcoming
presidential elections, Trud reported. Peter Stoyanov of the SDS and
incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev, who is supported by the People's
Union, will take part in primary elections on 1 June. DPS leader Ahmed
Dogan said his party will let its members vote according to their
conscience. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov called on the government to assist
by providing urns and by opening polling stations. Stoyanov kicked off
his election campaign on 31 March by organizing a concert in Sofia. --
Stefan Krause

DEFENSE MINISTERS MEETING IN TIRANA. The defense ministers of Bulgaria,
Macedonia, Turkey, Italy, and the U.S. arrived in the Albanian capital
on 31 March for a two-day conference on Balkan security, Reuters
reported. The "unofficial" meeting was initiated by the Albanian
government and also attended by an OSCE representative. U.S. Secretary
of Defense William Perry praised the conference as a "chance for more
security in the region." Albanian President Sali Berisha said the aim of
the conference was to "boost security cooperation in the region and to
discuss military cooperation." Other issues discussed were humanitarian
aid in disaster situations and civil military relations. Greece declined
to participate in protest at the exclusion of Serbia and Romania. --
Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT DISSOLVES ITSELF. Albania's parliament on 29 March
dissolved itself ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for late
May or early June, Reuters reported. Before doing so, it unanimously
adopted a new civil code, which is the last step in the creation of a
post-communist legal system. A new criminal code was adopted last
summer. President Sali Berisha praised the legislature's contribution to
establishing a state based on the rule of law and market economy. He
noted that it has given "political stability to the country." -- Fabian
Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily
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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                             All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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