Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light. - Jennie Jerome Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 78, Part II, 19 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CROATIAN HELSINKI GROUP SAYS GOVERNMENT EASY ON WAR CRIMINALS. The
Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights on 18 April issued a public
statement saying the government has failed to take a tough line against
suspected war criminals. It notes that Ivica Rajic, who is wanted by the
tribunal in The Hague, is staying with his family in a motel room in
Split owned by the Defense Ministry. Dario Kordic, who has also been
indicted by the court, is moving about the country unrestricted.
Karlovac county gave an Honorary Citizen's Award to Mihajlo Hrastov, a
high police official regarded as responsible for several atrocities
against Serbs. Under pressure from Croatian allies and from within the
governing party itself, the parliament has been considering a law to
permit the extradition of war criminals to The Hague. -- Patrick Moore
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER IN UKRAINE. John Major arrived in Ukraine on 18
April for a one-day official visit, Ukrainian and international agencies
reported. Major met President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhen
Marchuk, Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, and the Head of the
President's Administration Dmytro Tabachnyk. Major said that Britain
supported Ukraine's integration into the EC. Both countries signed
agreements on cooperation in crime-fighting. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT CREATES CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka signed a decree on 12 April creating a Legal Constitutional
Council attached to the presidency, Belarusian TV reported on 17 April.
The council will consist of 19 legal experts and headed by Alyaksandr
Abramovich. It has the broad mandate to examine the legality of
legislature and treaties. One of its first tasks will be examining the 2
April agreement with Russia on integration. Its relation to the
Constitutional Court is still unclear. Lukashenka has been urging that
the court be disbanded and its chief justice removed after it ruled that
a number of his decrees contravened the constitution. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUS SNUBBED FROM NUCLEAR ENERGY SUMMIT. Deputy Foreign Minister
Andrei Sannikau claimed in an interview with the independent weekly,
Belaruska hazeta, that Belarus's exclusion from the upcoming G-7 summit
in Moscow was "a demonstration of the West's contempt for Belarus,"
RFE/RL reported on 18 April. Democratic opposition deputy Pyotr
Krauchanka blamed the country's own politicians for the exclusion,
saying the Foreign Ministry should have seen to it that Belarus received
an invitation. An unnamed U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Belarus
did not receive an invitation because the summit will discuss the safety
of nuclear reactors and nuclear smuggling, not the Chornobyl accident.
Belarus has no nuclear reactors. Krauchanka speculated that Belarus's
absence will mean less financial assistance for its Chornobyl cleanup.
-- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN OFFICIALS DENY SEEKING OPPOSITION LEADER. Deputy Head of the
Presidential Administration Uladzimir Zamyatalin denied that Belarusian
police were seeking opposition leader Zyanon Paznyak, Belarusian TV
reported on 17 April. Paznyak had been forced to flee the country after
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a warrant for his arrest. Earlier
in the week, Paznyak said he is in Poland and would fear for his
personal safety if he returned to Belarus under Lukashenka's dictatorial
regime. Zamyatalin dismissed the claim saying that Paznyak was only
looking for support outside of Belarus's borders since his party, the
Belarusian Popular Front, did not win a single seat in the parliamentary
elections. -- Ustina Markus

ONLY CITIZENS TO VOTE IN LATVIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Saeima on 18 April
rejected a proposal by the National Harmony Party to grant non-citizens
the right to vote in local elections, BNS reported. The proposal also
foresaw extending the term of office for local governments from three to
four years, lifting a residency requirement for local deputies, and
removing restrictions that kept former Soviet security officials from
running for local offices. A total of only 25 members from the National
Harmony Party, Socialist Party, Unity Party, Democratic Party Saimnieks,
Latvia's Way, and For Latvia Movement voted for the proposal. The next
local elections are scheduled for March 1997. -- Saulius Girnius

NO PROGRESS IN RUSSIAN, LITHUANIAN SEA-BORDER TALKS. Talks in
Kaliningrad on 17-18 April on the demarcation of the sea-border between
Russia and Lithuania had few results, Radio Lithuania reported. Valerii
Popov, a former Russian ambassador to Vienna, replaced Yuri Sholmov as
the Head of the Russian Delegation. Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister
Rimantas Sidlauskas continued to head the Lithuanian delegation. The oil
field No. D-6 on the Baltic Sea shelf remains the main obstacle to the
border agreement. Lithuania protested a 1995 agreement between Russian
and German oil companies to exploit the oil field, arguing that the
border should have first been settled. -- Saulius Girnius

ADMINISTRATION REFORM IN POLAND. Chief of the Government Office Leszek
Miller presented to a Sejm Commission on 18 April an amendment to the
government's draft law on central administration reform. The amendment
establishes a Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration to replace
the existing Ministry of Internal Affairs. The State Protection Office
(UOP), previously under the ministry's jurisdiction, will be
subordinated to the prime minister. The chief of the UOP would be
obliged to inform the president and the prime minister about any matter
that "has crucial importance for state security," Polish dailies
reported on 19 April. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PARLIAMENT TO MEET BEFORE THE ELECTIONS. Parliament Chairman Milan
Uhde announced on 18 April that he has accepted a proposal by the ruling
coalition's Civic Democratic Party and Christian Democratic Union to
call a parliament session on 23 April, Czech media reported. The Civic
Democratic Alliance did not join its two coalition partners--a move
revealing deepening fissures within the coalition. Uhde said he has also
received a proposal from the opposition Social Democrats and Left Bloc.
The chances of the divided parliament approving either proposal--both of
which significantly limit the agenda originally proposed for the last
session--are slim. On 16 April, the parliament failed to approve an
agenda for its last session before the parliamentary election and on 17
April, the leaders of parliamentary caucuses failed to break the
deadlock. In a separate development, Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on 19
April that the three coalition parties have reached a gentleman's
agreement not to slander one other during the election campaign. -- Jiri
Pehe

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER HOPES CZECHS WILL RATIFY BORDER TREATY SOON.
Juraj Schenk on 18 April said he hopes the Czech Republic will ratify
"as soon as possible" the treaty amending its borders with Slovakia, CTK
reported the same day. The treaty was signed at government level in
January and has already been ratified by the Slovak parliament. The
Czech parliament was due to discuss it this week at its final scheduled
session before general elections are held, but the session was aborted.
Even if a rescheduled session takes place, strong opposition to the
transfer of the Czech village U Sabotu to Slovakia would likely prevent
the treaty being ratified. A commentary in Slovenska republika on 19
April said Czech deputies' attitudes towards the treaty showed their
"conceit and haughtiness." -- Steve Kettle

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SLAMS HUNGARY'S NATO PLANS. Russia's Ambassador to
Budapest Ivan Aboimov said if Hungary joined NATO, Russia could be
forced to take military measures, Hungarian dailies reported on 18
April. Aboimov added that NATO enlargement would weaken European
security and redivide Europe. He said this would, therefore, necessitate
Russian countermeasures. Aboimov's statement came on the eve of NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana's two-day visit to Hungary. Meanwhile,
in an interview with Magyar Hirlap on 17 April, Solana said Hungary must
strive for full NATO membership for the sake of its own security. Solana
said NATO will begin intensive dialogues with the candidate countries
this month. Solana arrived in Budapest yesterday for talks with top
officials. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN CABINET TO READJUST STABILIZATION MEASURES. The cabinet has
decided to reduce customs surcharges by 2% this year and by an
additional 2% every three months in 1997, in an effort to meet
international commitments, Hungarian media reported on 19 April. Finance
Minister Peter Medgyessy wants to eliminate the current 8% customs
surcharge by 1 July, 1997. The move is part of a series of inflation-
management measures that include reductions in state expenditures, in
personal income tax rates and in social insurance payments. Medgyessy
hopes to reduce annual inflation from 29% in 1995 to 20% this year,
while analysts predict a 22-24% average monthly inflation rate for 1996.
The cabinet also envisions a reduction in the current monthly
devaluation rate of the Hungarian forint. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN MILITARY DISENGAGEMENT COMING ALONG WELL. NATO spokesmen said on
19 April that all three sides in Bosnia are continuing to demobilize
some 150,000 troops and return the rest to peacetime barracks, despite
expiration of the 18 April midnight deadline, international media
reported. The officials added that any shortcomings were due to the
magnitude of the task rather than to bad faith. The deadline is known as
D-120 because it marks 120 days following the Dayton peace accords.
Heavy weapons as well as soldiers are to be withdrawn to some 600 IFOR-
approved sites. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SHORT TAKES. The Hague tribunal lawyer for Bosnian Serb Gen.
Djordje Djukic said that war-crime charges against his client will be
dropped on 22 April because of Djukic's advanced pancreatic cancer. The
attorney added, however, that he felt the court was really freeing the
general because it knew it had no sound evidence against him, Reuters
noted on 18 April. Also at The Hague, Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic, who
is being kept under some kind of house arrest, will be allowed better
housing and more freedom of movement, Vjesnik reported on 19 April. In
Sarajevo, the office of the international community's High
Representative Carl Bildt told some hard-line officials in Croatian-held
Stolac and Capljina and Muslim-controlled Vares and Bugojno that they
will get no reconstruction aid. The four towns failed to set up the
executive and legislative structures required under the Dayton
agreement, Reuters said. -- Patrick Moore

VOLKSWAGEN SUSPECTED OF RUMP YUGOSLAV EMBARGO BUSTING. Police raided the
headquarters of Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany on 18 April, AFP
reported the next day. The Braunschweig Prosecutor-General's Office had
ordered the raid to investigate allegations that Volkswagen violated the
UN embargo by illegally delivering vehicles to rump Yugoslavia. A
Volkswagen spokesman denied the allegations adding that since the
embargo went into effect in 1992, "clear instructions" had gone out to
all Volkswagen managers and commercial partners not to violate the ban.
Volkswagen representatives said the suspected embargo violations may
have resulted from the theft of vehicles and parts from a Volkswagen
plant in a suburb of Sarajevo. The plant ceased operations in April 1992
and was later destroyed. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIA CHARGES SERBS WITH TAKING SLAVONIAN OIL. Croatian authorities
sent a letter to the UN administrator for eastern Slavonia, Jacques
Klein, charging that rebel Serbs are stealing equipment and preparing to
wreck the Djeletovci oil pumping station, Vjesnik reported on 19 April.
Ivica Vrkic, the Croatian official in charge of reintegrating the last
Serb-held part of Croatia, said that destroying the facility could cause
major ecological damage. Croatia has frequently accused the Serbs of
stealing oil from the Slavonian fields that Serbia seized in 1991.
Croatia has shut down the Adriatic oil pipeline in protest of the Serbs'
taking oil from Djeletovci and other sites, Nasa Borba added. -- Patrick
Moore

CROATIAN HITMAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF EX-MINISTER. Police in Istria
arrested 33-year-old Sinisa Stracabosko for the recent murder of Marcelo
Popovic, former Minister of Tourism in Croatia's first non-communist
government, Novi list reported on 18 April. Stracabosko was known as
"Rambo" when he fought in the Croatian military's Zebra unit in the 1991
war with Serbia. He was dishonorably discharged in 1995 after developing
a criminal record. Police said that a local businessman and leader of
the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), Sime Medanic, had
promised the gunman up to $10,000 for the murder. Popovic had also been
a member of the HDZ, but business debts, not politics, appear to be the
motive for the killing. -- Patrick Moore

GREEK MACEDONIAN UPDATE. Greece and Macedonia made a fresh effort to
reach a compromise on the name of the former Yugoslav Republic in UN-
sponsored talks, AFP reported on 17 April. Ambassadors from both
countries met at the New York office of former U.S. Secretary of State
Cyrus Vance. They agreed to meet again in June, but no other results
were reported. Vance is mediating the talks which resulted from a
preliminary agreement made last September in which Greece recognized its
neighbor as the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and dropped its
trade embargo against the country. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis
also discussed the dispute with UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-
Ghali in New York last week. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIA, HUNGARY NEGOTIATING MILITARY COOPERATION TREATY. The Romanian
and the Hungarian Defense Ministries are negotiating a military
cooperation treaty which Romanian Chief of Staff General Dumitru
Cioflina said may be signed before the conclusion of the bilateral
treaty currently under negotiation between the two countries. RFE/RL's
Romanian service interviewed Cioflina during his visit to Prague on 16-
18 April. Radio Bucharest reported on 18 April that Hungarian Deputy
Defense Minister Tibor Toth will visit Romania between 19-21 April to
prepare Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti's visit to Bucharest. In a
related matter, Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca and his Ukrainian
counterpart, Valerii Shmarov conducted talks in Suceava focusing on NATO
enlargement and possible Romanian-Ukrainian cooperation under NATO's
Partnership for Peace Program. They also discussed regional and security
issues, as well as "possible aspects of future bilateral military
cooperation," Radio Bucharest reported. -- Michael Shafir

TURKISH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. On a one-day visit to Romania, Suleyman
Demirel discussed with Romanian President Ion Iliescu international
problems and regional cooperation, particularly in the Balkans, Romanian
and international agencies reported on 18 April. They also discussed
ways of making the Samsun-Constanta ferry more profitable and the
feasibility of extending it to the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti. They
met in the Black Sea coast town of Neptun. Demirel later inaugurated a
Turkish-language school for the Turkish ethnic minority. Reuters cited
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu as saying Romania hoped Turkey will
back its bid to join NATO. -- Michael Shafir

TIRASPOL BLOCKS RUSSIAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT TRANSFER TO CHISINAU. The
Tiraspol authorities have blocked the transfer of Russian military
equipment to Chisinau. An agreement on the evacuation of equipment
belonging to Russian troops stationed in the Transdniester signed last
year between Moscow and Chisinau provided for the transfer. Lt. General
Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian troops, said the
Transdniester authorities' attitude was "uncivilized." He said Russia
wants to fulfill its obligations under the agreement but cannot, due to
the breakaway republic's opposition. -- Michael Shafir

RUSSIAN MILITARY EXERCISES IN TRANSDNIESTER? BASA-press reported on 18
April that it has learned from "inside sources" from the Russian troop
command in the Transdniester that military exercises for a training
program for "peacekeeping forces" have been started. The sources
provided the information "on condition of anonymity." In an interview
with the agency, the Russian troops commander, Lt. Gen.Valerii
Yevnevich, denied the information. Chisinau is opposed to the Russian
proposal to transform the troops stationed in the breakaway republic
into "peacekeeping forces." -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ACCUSES GOVERNMENT OF UNCLEAR SECURITY POLICY.
Zhelyu Zhelev accused the socialist government of endangering the
country's security by failing to adopt a clear policy on NATO
membership, Reuters reported on 18 April. He called the hesitancy "very
dangerous for Bulgaria" and pointed out that "all other former socialist
countries have declared their readiness to join NATO." Zhelev stressed
that "only NATO can provide guarantees for national security." The
socialist government is keen to avoid upsetting Moscow, but has joined
the Partnership for Peace Program. -- Fabian Schmidt

MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS BULGARIA. Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei
Sangheli arrived in Sofia on 17 April, international agencies reported.
He met with his Bulgarian counterpart Zhan Videnov to discuss bilateral
relations and economic cooperation. Later Sangheli met with Bulgarian
President Zhelyu Zhelev and Parliament Speaker Blagovest Sendov. Both
sides signed agreements on bilateral investment protection, civil
aviation, and cooperation in tourism. -- Fabian Schmidt

RUSSIA CALLS ON BULGARIA NOT TO RAZE RED ARMY MONUMENT. Russia has
protested against the planned demolition of the huge Alyosha monument
dedicated to the Red Army in Plovdiv, Reuters reported on 17 April. The
Russian Foreign Ministry said the decision of the Plovdiv City Council
to raze the statue contravenes a 1992 cooperation accord between the
countries. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry supported Russia's opposition
to the city's decision, saying the demolition would "cast doubt on the
role of the former Soviet Union in the victory over fascism and insult
the memory of those who died in the war". In 1993, the Bulgarian
government halted demolition work on another Red Army monument in
central Sofia following a similar Russian protest. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Deborah Michaels

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