The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. - Charles Darwin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 68, Part II, 4 April 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
EU, U.S. CRITICIZE SLOVAK LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. The EU and the
U.S. State Department on 3 April expressed concern that Slovakia's law
on the protection of the republic could restrict freedom of speech,
assembly, and expression, Reuters and RFE/RL reported. The new
legislation was passed by the parliament on 26 March. Meanwhile, a State
Department official said the law "contradicts the democratic values
shared among NATO countries." Also on 3 April, Slovak opposition
representatives agreed to adopt a common strategy on the new
legislation. They further decided to form expert groups to coordinate
policy in economy, media, privatization, and ethnic problems, Pravda
reported. -- Sharon Fisher
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

REFERENDUM PROPOSED IN CRIMEA. The Crimean parliament included on its 3
April agenda the possibility of staging a regional referendum to
determine Crimea's future, international media reported. The move came
in response to Kyiv's repeated delays in approving the peninsula's new
constitution, which it has been debating since November. The Ukrainian
parliament failed to vote on the constitution on 3 April but is likely
to approve it today, when the debate is scheduled to resume. However,
deputies are unlikely to approve a long list of clauses they consider to
be "separatist," including provisions for Crimean citizenship,
recognition of the Crimean "people," and the establishment of Russian as
the sole official language. Ethnic Russians make up about two-thirds of
the peninsula's population. -- Jiri Pehe

HUNT UNDER WAY IN UKRAINE FOR SERIAL KILLER. Ukraine's national guard
and police units are patrolling villages in the Zhitomir region, 100 km
west of Kyiv, where the most recent of some 40 murders attributed to a
serial killer have been committed, international media report. The
killer is believed to be the most murderous in Ukraine's history, the
Ministry of Internal Affairs said on 3 April. The man generally
ingratiates himself with a family before killing all its members with a
hunting rifle. A total of nine families have been killed in Lviv,
Zaporozhye, and Kyiv. A suspect was arrested on 30 March, but police
remain unsure whether he was involved in the crimes. -- Jiri Pehe

RUSSIA, UKRAINE REACH AGREEMENT ON OIL TRANSIT FEE. According to the
Ukrainian State Oil and Gas Industry Committee, the Russian Fuel and
Energy Ministry has finally accepted the new terms for shipping oil
through the Druzhba pipeline, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported on 3 April.
Ukraine on 1 January unilaterally increased the fee by 60 cents to $5.2
for each metric ton of oil transiting Ukraine en route to Central
Europe. The Russian government is now willing to pay the new tariff,
which is subject to change if the volume falls below or rises above 16-
19 million tons this year. Only last week it was reported that supplies
of oil to Slovakia and Hungary had been interrupted because of the fee
dispute. -- Peter Rutland

ESTONIA SEEKS SECURITY GUARANTEES. Estonian Premier Tiit Vahi has urged
the West to provide security guarantees to states left out of NATO
expansion, Reuters reported on 3 April. The agency quoted Vahi as saying
in an interview that the best guarantee for his country is full NATO
membership. But he added that if some states are accepted in a first
wave of NATO expansion, it is important to know what security guarantees
the others will receive. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are
participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, which offers
increased military cooperation but no security guarantees. Meanwhile,
the presidents of Estonia and Moldova, Lennart Meri and Mircea Snegur,
have expressed concern about recent moves aimed at forging closer ties
between Russia and Belarus. Snegur is currently on an official visit to
Estonia. -- Dan Ionescu

THIRD WORLD MIGRANTS ON HUNGER STRIKE IN LITHUANIA. A group of 44 people
from China, Iraq, and Afghanistan are on a hunger strike in the
northeastern town of Visaginas to press claims for refugee status in
Lithuania, Reuters reported on 2 April. The asylum-seekers, who have
been detained for three months at a makeshift camp, threatened suicide
if their situation is not resolved. All of them reportedly came from
neighboring Belarus. At least 500 refugees are currently being detained
in Lithuania, which has become a transit route for migrants trying to
reach the affluent Scandinavian states. -- Dan Ionescu

POLISH-RUSSIAN MILITARY EXERCISES PROPOSED. Polish Defense Minister
Stanislaw Dobrzanski, meeting in Moscow with his Russian counterpart,
Pavel Grachev, has proposed holding Polish-Russian military exercises
later this year in Poland. He also suggested that a Polish-Russian
peacekeeping battalion be formed and that military-technical cooperation
be expanded. Poland is to set up peacekeeping battalions with Lithuania
and Ukraine. Dobrzanski said his Moscow visit is intended to improve
Polish-Russian relations, ahead of President Aleksander Kwasniewski's
scheduled visit to Moscow next week. He said an improvement is expected
by Poland's future NATO partners, who have approved his proposals,
Polish dailies reported on 4 April. -- Jakub Karpinski

PERSONNEL CHANGES IN POLISH TV. Following the recent dismissal of TVP1
head Maciej Pawlicki and the resignation of TVP director Wieslaw
Walendziak, two of Pawlicki's deputies and two chief editors have been
fired. The director of cultural and entertainment programs, Waldemar
Gasper, has been "suspended." Christian-National Alliance leader Marian
Pilka said that during Walendziak's term, the TVP was pluralist and that
it will be now be predominantly leftist, Polish dailies reported on 4
April. -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS TWO LAWS. The Slovak Constitutional
Court on 3 April ruled against two 1995 laws-- one giving the state a
"golden share" in the privatization of certain "strategic" companies and
the other allowing it to take possession of land if ownership cannot be
determined within three months, Slovak media reported. The court ruled
that the former violates ownership rights guaranteed to all citizens by
the constitution and that the latter is also unconstitutional. Both laws
were appealed by opposition deputies. The opposition on 3 April decided
to also appeal the income tax law, which was vetoed by the president and
recently re-approved by the parliament. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY TO SELL FURTHER STAKE IN FOREIGN TRADE BANK. The Hungarian State
Privatization and Holding Co. (APV Rt.) on 3 April announced it is ready
to sell its 26.8% share in the Hungarian Foreign Trade Bank (MKB) to the
Bayerische Landesbank, Magyar Hirlap reported. If the deal goes ahead,
the German bank will own 51% of MKB. The APV Rt. invited the German
Investment and Development Co., the EBRD, and the Bayerische Landesbank-
-the three foreign joint owners of MKB--to make an offer, but only the
last-named expressed interest. In 1994, the MKB was the first Hungarian
commercial bank to be privatized. The bank's after-tax profits soared
from 487 million forints in 1994 to 2.6 billion forints in the first six
months of the following year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HAGUE TRIBUNAL TO REPORT RUMP YUGOSLAVIA TO SECURITY COUNCIL. The
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has reaffirmed
that it regards rump Yugoslavia as "criminal" and will formally ask the
highest UN body to take action against it. The issue is that Belgrade
continues to harbor three Serbian army officers against whom the court
has issued arrest warrants. The three are wanted in connection with the
murder of 261 non-Serbs in the Croatian town of Vukovar after it fell in
November 1991, Nasa Borba and the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported
on 4 April. Also in The Hague, Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic pleaded
"not guilty" in connection with the massacre of Muslim civilians in the
Lasva valley in 1993. The court, meanwhile, returned Bosnian Serb Col.
Aleksa Krsmanovic to Sarajevo, where he faces a possible trial for
crimes against humanity. The Hague tribunal had concluded it did not
have enough evidence to charge him. -- Patrick Moore

ROW OVER DECLARATION ON BOSNIAN UNITY. Some 21 political parties and
organizations have signed a statement backing the indivisibility of the
republic, Oslobodjenje wrote on 4 April. Most of the groups are Muslim--
including President Alija Izetbegovic's Party of Democratic Action--but
the Serbian Civic Council and representatives of the Jewish community
have also signed. The five main opposition parties in parliament
nonetheless balked, charging that they were not consulted by Izetbegovic
and former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic. The largest Bosnian Croat
party also did not sign the resolution sponsored by the two men. The
apparent rapprochement between the president and his estranged former
prime minister is the subject of much speculation in Bosnia, Vjesnik
reported on 3 April. -- Patrick Moore

ANTI-NATIONALIST SERBS SAY SARAJEVO CAN STILL BE MULTIETHNIC. Bosnian
Presidency member Mirko Pejanovic has said that the capital can still be
multiethnic because many Serbs are interested in coming back. He argued
that the main obstacles are the Serbian nationalist "war criminals" in
Pale and "the state apparatus of local authorities" in Sarajevo, Onasa
reported on 2 April. Pejanovic heads the Serbian Civic Council (SGV),
which remained loyal to the Bosnian government throughout the war. The
SGV has been active in persuading Serbs to stay in Sarajevo or to return
there. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN PARLIAMENT CURBING FREEDOM OF SPEECH? The Sabor on 29 March
passed two controversial laws, which critics say are directed against
the country's few independent media. Under the first measure, the public
prosecutor must start legal proceedings against anyone offending or
slandering the president, parliamentary speaker, prime minister, or and
presidents of the supreme and constitutional courts, Reuters reported.
The second is aimed at persons "revealing state secrets." Investigative
journalism in Croatia is largely limited to one daily and two weeklies,
and the latter especially are active in exposing corruption and abuse of
office by some members of the governing party and their families.
Government officials stated that the laws are in keeping with "European
norms" and were passed to protect institutions, not personalities.
Independent analyst Slaven Letica said that the law will be challenged
in the courts because it violates the principle of equality of all
citizens by singling out five top officials for special treatment. --
Patrick Moore

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS CALL FOR DISSOLUTION. The Macedonian
parliament on 3 April rejected a motion by the Liberal Party demanding
that the parliament be dissolved and early elections held, Nova
Makedonija reported. The Liberals' claim that the parliament is no
longer representative (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 April 1996) was
dismissed by the Social Democrats and Socialists. Ethnic Albanian
parties and independent legislators were split over the issue. The
Social Democrats called the Liberals' proposal a "political bluff,"
saying the initiators of the motion should resign their seats in the
parliament if they doubt its legitimacy. -- Stefan Krause

SERBIAN POLICEMAN CONVICTED IN CONNECTION WITH KILLING OF ETHNIC
ALBANIAN CHILD. Boban Krstic, deputy police chief in the Kosovar town of
Kacanik, has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in
connection with the 1994 killing of a six-year-old ethnic Albanian boy,
Bota Sot reported on 4 April. Krstic was convicted for "endangering
public order" rather than for manslaughter. He had fired 30 bullets into
a car in July 1994, killing the boy and seriously injuring his parents.
He later claimed that he believed that a criminal suspect was in the
car. Bota Sot said that Krstic was also involved in the death of an
Albanian in the Kacanik jail in 1994. It added that he fought in Bosnia
on the side of the Bosnian Serbs and was highly decorated there. --
Stefan Krause

EXIT VISAS FOR KOSOVAR ALBANIANS ABOLISHED. The abolition of exit visas
for ethnic Albanians in Kosovo took effect on 1 April, international
agencies reported. Until now, Kosovars traveling to Albania via
Macedonia without an exit visa risked imprisonment by the Serbian
authorities if they had Albanian stamps in their passport. Albania
praised the move as a step toward normalizing relations. -- Fabian
Schmidt

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON BASIC TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Ion Iliescu on 3 April
accused Hungary of delaying the signing of a bilateral basic treaty,
Romanian and Hungarian media reported. He stressed that Romania was not
prepared to make any concessions on including in the treaty Council of
Europe Recommendation 1201, which is on ethnic minorities. Hungary is
demanding that the recommendation be included. Iliescu said that if
Hungary drops that demand, "we will immediately sign the basic treaty."
He said ethnic groups that once formed a majority but are now a minority
find it hard to give up their former privileges. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIA COMPLAINS ABOUT NOT BEING INVITED TO ARMS CONTROL TALKS. The
Bulgarian government on 3 April complained that it has not been invited
to talks in Vienna on arms control in the post-cold war era, Reuters and
Demokratsiya reported. Delegates are to discuss the so-called Wassenaar
Agreement, which is intended to succeed COCOM. A Foreign Ministry
spokesman spoke of "the apparent injustice" of leaving Bulgaria out of
the meeting, which is to be attended by representatives of 31 states. He
added that Bulgaria fulfilled all preconditions and that he hoped an
invitation would be forthcoming. Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Foreign
Ministry's International Organizations Department, said that of the 28
initial signatories to the Wassenaar Agreement, only the U.S. opposed
Bulgaria's participation. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT SUBMITS MEMORANDUM ON NATO. The socialist
government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 3 April submitted a
memorandum outlining its position on NATO to the parliament's foreign
policy and national security commissions, Standart reported. The
memorandum was in response to a request from NATO Assistant Secretary-
General for Political Affairs Gebhardt von Moltke that the Bulgarian
cabinet clarify its position on participation in NATO enlargement talks.
Vasil Mihaylov of the Union of Democratic Forces said the document says
nothing about whether Bulgaria wants to join NATO. Stoyan Denchev,
deputy chairman of the foreign policy commission, said it is not the
parliament's job to deal with such documents and that the memorandum
should have been sent straight to NATO. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR SAYS HE MAY ARREST PATRIARCH. Prosecutor-General
Ivan Tatarchev on 3 April said he will start legal proceedings against
Patriarch Maksim and will arrest him "if necessary," Standart reported.
Maksim is accused of involvement in the occupation of a candle-making
factory that is run by the "alternative" Synod of Metropolit Pimen. In
the latest of a series of incidents involving Maksim's and Pimen's
supporters, the factory was occupied by priests loyal to the Patriarch
on 18 March and was cleared by the police on 1 April. Maksim's
followers, however, occupied the building again on 2 April. Maksim's and
Pimen's supporters parted ways after the government invalidated Maksim's
election in 1971 and appointed a new synod under Pimen. Pimen's
followers have announced they may soon form a second Orthodox Church in
Bulgaria. -- 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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