The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 88, Part II, 06 May 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

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES INTEGRATION ACCORDS. The Belarusian
parliament on 4 May voted by 166 to three with one abstention to ratify
the treaty on forming a union with Russia, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The agreement, which was signed on 2 April in Moscow, prompted
a mass protest demonstration in Minsk by nationalist organizations. In
mid-April, the Russian State Duma unanimously ratified the union accords
as well as the 29 March integration agreement between Russia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. -- Ustina Markus

HUNGER STRIKE CONTINUES IN BELARUS. A hunger strike by 15 people
detained following demonstrations in Minsk on 26 April entered its
seventh day on 4 May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. One of the
hunger strikers is Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front Yuriy
Khadyka, who is scheduled to go on trial today. Khadyka's attorneys and
relatives as well as medical personnel have not been allowed to see him.
Meanwhile, the journalist Uladzimir Dziuba has been sentenced to 15 days
detention for resisting arrest. Dziuba denies having had any part in the
26 April demonstrations or clashes, saying he was detained after police
tried to prevent him from getting on the metro. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN KGB DENIES BEATING RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS. The Belarusian KGB
has denied any role in the beating of Russian NTV journalists during the
May Day demonstrations, NTV reported on 2 May. NTV correspondents
charged that security officials attempted to drag the journalists out of
their car and confiscate their video cameras. Belarusian TV described
the incident as a "provocation by unknown criminals." ITAR-TASS the next
day reported parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky as blaming the
nationalist Belarusian Popular Front for the "escalation of the
confrontation" in Belarus. Sharetsky said the BPF is using "flawed
methods to implement its ideas" after losing all its seats in the
parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the parliament adopted a statement
condemning the 26 April clashes. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. The Belarusian parliament on 4 May approved
a series of appointments recently made by President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka, ITAR-TASS reported. Leanid Maltseu was confirmed as defense
minister, Uladzimir Matskevich as head of the KGB, and Tamara Vinnikau
as head of the National Bank of Belarus. The parliament also approved
Lukashenka's decree dismissing Yuriy Zakharenka from the post of
interior minister and confirmed Maj.-Gen. Valyantsin Holtsa in that
position. -- Ustina Markus

OIL SPILL IN UKRAINE. An accident along the Luhansk-Tykhoretsk oil
pipeline has resulted in an oil spill of almost 500 tons of oil,
Ukrainian Radio reported on 5 May. The fuel spilled into the River
Bilenka and caused a fire in the village of Nyzhnye, which destroyed a
number of homes and crops. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE SHORTENS MILITARY SERVICE. A decree passed by the parliament and
signed by President Leonid Kuchma shortens military service for officers
and troops in Ukraine's armed forces, the national guard, the border
guard, and Interior Ministry and other security units, ITAR-TASS
reported on 5 May. They will now serve 18 months instead of 24 months.
Those with higher education will serve only 12 months. Officers and
sailors in the navy and marine units will serve 24 months, and those
with higher education 18 months. Soldiers, sailors, and officers under
contract service will serve for three years. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC PREMIERS ATTEND BALTIC SEA SUMMIT. Prime Ministers Tiit Vahi
(Estonia), Andris Skele (Latvia), and Mindaugas Stankevicius (Lithuania)
attended the summit meeting of the Council of Baltic Sea States in
Visby, Sweden, on 3-4 May, BNS reported. The meeting issued a joint
statement supporting the entry of the Baltic states and Poland into the
European Union. It also called for increased regional cooperation to
stimulate their economies and to combat crime and pollution. The Baltic
leaders also had separate meetings with their Russian counterpart,
Viktor Chernomyrdin, who reiterated his opposition to any NATO expansion
eastward. Skele called his meeting "extremely fruitful," since it was
agreed that an accord on the readmission of refugees would be signed
before 1 June. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA HEADS COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS. Estonian
Foreign Minister Siim Kallas on 3 May took over the rotating six-month
chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, ETA
reported. Kallas thanked the council for helping Estonia find an
acceptable solution to the question of citizenship, reorganize its
judicial system, and contribute to effective confidence-building
measures, especially in the field of human rights. He said Estonia was
working on the ratification of the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities and the European Convention for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
He stressed again that his government welcomed Russia as a new council
member. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN, LATVIAN FISHING DISPUTE CONTINUES. Estonian border guard
vessels on 2 May forced five Latvian trawlers to leave the Estonian-
Latvian fishing area in the Gulf of Riga, BNS reported the next day.
Estonia on 28 April handed over to Latvia the text of a provisional
fishing agreement whereby Estonian regulations would apply in the joint
area around Ruhnu Island. Latvian Fisheries Department Director Normunds
Riekstins said the Estonian regulations were "totally unacceptable," and
he called for further talks to be held. Estonia has not yet responded.
Estonian regulations ban trawling fishing from 1 May; Latvia's from 15
May. An Estonian border guard official said that the names of Latvian
fishing boats violating the regulations will be noted and that those
vessels will later be denied fishing licenses. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH XENOPHOBES THREATEN MORE ATTACKS ON SHELL GAS STATIONS. A
xenophobic group has claimed responsibility for last month's bomb attack
on a Shell gas station in Warsaw, Polish media disclosed on 4 May. Two
letters sent before the attack were signed "GN-95," a group formerly
unknown in Poland. Members of the group had demanded $1 million in
extortion money from the Shell company. A third letter--sent after the
24 April explosion, which killed a police bomb disposal expert--
threatened further attacks on Shell stations unless the company handed
over $2 million. The group vowed to continue its fight against "Western
companies that are taking over our markets and turning us into slaves of
capitalism." At the same time, it stressed it will not target Polish
companies. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH RULING PARTY'S POPULARITY INCREASES. In an opinion poll conducted
by the Prague-based Center for Empirical Studies, 29.1% of respondents
said they would vote for Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic
Party, Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on 6 May. This is an increase of 2.4%
over last month. The Social Democrats placed second, with 20.4%. They
were followed by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (10.6%), the
Christian Democratic Union (9.7%), the extreme-right Republican Party
(8.8%), and the Civic Democratic Alliance (7%). Parliamentary elections
are to be held on 31 May and 1 June. -- Jiri Pehe

EXPLOSION OUTSIDE SLOVAK ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADER'S HOUSE. A hand grenade
exploded early on 5 May outside the house of Bela Bugar, chairman of the
Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement and a leading opponent of the
Slovak government, Slovak and international media reported. No one was
injured in the blast, which occurred in the town of Samorin, near
Bratislava, and damage was minimal. Bugar told Narodna obroda that the
explosion may have been a warning for him, adding that he has received
telephone and mail threats connected with his investigations into
organized crime. Bugar accused the government of remaining silent
despite a recent increase in such attacks. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PREMIER BLAMES HUNGARY FOR TREATY DELAY. Vladimir Meciar on 3 May
blamed Hungary for the delay in the exchange of the ratification
documents of the Hungarian-Slovak basic treaty, the Hungarian news
agency MTI reported. In his regular Friday evening radio interview,
Meciar said Hungary wants to "extend a protective arm toward the
citizens of another sovereign country." He stressed that the Slovak
parliament will submit the Slovak version of the treaty in its current
form to the president for signing. A spokesman for the Hungarian Foreign
Affairs Ministry told Magyar Hirlap on 3 May that the international
community would like to see an exchange of ratification documents as
early as possible, adding that "those organizations are aware that it is
not Hungary that is delaying this process." -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BILDT SAYS PARTITION OF BOSNIA MUST BE PREVENTED. The international
community's high representative to Bosnia has said the ethnic partition
of Bosnia must be prevented if "an endless succession of Balkan wars" is
to be avoided, Reuters reported on 5 May. Carl Bildt said partition may
achieve short-term stability in Bosnia but is "a recipe for long-term
turmoil in an important part of Europe." He added that Radovan Karadzic,
president of Republika Srpska and an indicted war criminal, is the
single greatest obstacle to reintegration. Meanwhile, George Mitchell, a
member of the International Crisis Group charged with monitoring the
implementation of Dayton peace accord, said the presence in Bosnia of
war criminals is the biggest obstacle to peace, Reuters reported on 4
May. In an unrelated development, Republika Srpska Premier Rajko Kasagic
said Bosnian Serb authorities will allow an investigation into war
crimes in the Bijeljina area, Nasa Borba reported on 6 May. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

MUSLIMS DENIED FREE MOVEMENT IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA. NGOs in rump
Yugoslavia have protested discriminatory actions by the Republika Srpska
and rump Yugoslavia authorities against Muslims who want to travel in
the Bosnian Federation, Nasa Borba reported on 6 May. Muslims from rump
Yugoslavia transiting the Republika Srpska have either been sent back to
Serbia or taken away for interrogation. Serbs need only identification
cards to travel to the Bosnian Federation, where they enjoy free
movement. Meanwhile, rump Yugoslavia has introduced visas for Bosnian
citizens at a fee of DM 50, Dnevni Avaz reported on 3 May. * Daria Sito
Sucic

BOSNIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES ALL BOSNIA WILL "BE LIBERATED." Alija
Izetbegovic, speaking in Gorazde on 4 May for the first time since the
beginning of the war, said that "history has taught us that not a single
honest man of ours can be unarmed; every single one will have a rifle to
defend himself," the BBC reported the next day. The president also
pledged to retake lands lost to the Serbs: "They have not and they will
not expel us; we will return to all the places they have expelled us
from and our struggle will not be over until the whole of Bosnia is
free. Our children will liberate the whole of Bosnia." The speech took
place against the background of the ongoing election campaign and
growing anger and frustration among Muslims over IFOR's reluctance to
make the Serbs implement key parts of the Dayton agreement, such as
freedom of movement and the right of refugees to return home. -- Patrick
Moore

ATTACKS ON CROATIAN OPPOSITION INTENSIFY. Croatian police on 3 May
interrogated Viktor Ivancic--editor of the satirical weekly Feral
Tribune, one of the few independent mass circulation periodicals in
Croatia, Novi list and Nasa Borba. The move appears to be yet another
effort by President Franjo Tudjman and his governing Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) to silence criticism. The authorities earlier tried to
shut down Feral Tribune by imposing a "pornography tax," which they were
later forced to drop under international pressure. Officials have
recently levied punitive tax payments against the country's sole
independent daily, Novi list. A new press law passed in March threatens
punitive action against journalists inclined to criticize top officials
or investigate abuse of power and corruption. The offices of the
independent weekly Panorama were sealed on 30 April, and two days later,
Tudjman gave a speech lambasting the opposition as a "threat from
within." The president on 30 April dissolved the opposition-dominated
Zagreb City Council but is delaying calling new elections. The HDZ would
likely lose the ballot, the International Herald Tribune wrote on 2 May.
-- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE TO DELAY REPAYING INTERNATIONAL LOANS. The federal rump
Yugoslav authorities on 4 May resolved not to pay some $20 million in
financial obligations to the IMF and the World Bank, Nasa Borba reported
on 6 May. This decision is regarded as another challenge to National
Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic, who has advocated meeting obligations
to international financial institutions. -- Stan Markotich

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN BUCHAREST. Javier Solana on 3 May paid a brief
visit to Romania on the last leg of his East European tour, Romanian and
Western media reported. Solana met with Romanian President Ion Iliescu,
Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Defense
Minister Gheorghe Tinca, and the chairmen of the parliament's two
chambers, Oliviu Gherman and Adrian Nastase. The two sides discussed
cooperation and Romania's prospects for full membership in the alliance.
Western agencies noticed that Solana tried to reassure Bucharest that it
has not been forgotten in the alliance's eastward expansion plans. He
thanked Romania for its participation in the international peacekeeping
force in Bosnia, recalling that it was the first country to sign up for
NATO's Partnership for Peace program. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY ADOPTS "BLITZ STRATEGY." The chauvinistic
Greater Romania Party (PRM), at its third national convention in
Bucharest on the weekend, unanimously adopted a "blitz strategy" in the
event that it comes to power after the fall general elections, Romanian
media reported. The party's top priority would be to change the
country's constitution to allow for "the confiscation of property
improperly acquired." It would also seek to exert strict control over
foreign investors and to outlaw the "anti-Romanian" Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania. The PRM protested alleged pressures on party
chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor to withdraw his candidacy for the Romanian
Presidency. Tudor's parliamentary immunity was recently lifted by the
Senate for offending the authorities (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 April
1996). -- Matyas Szabo

THREE BULGARIAN POLICE OFFICERS KILLED, INTERIOR MINISTER OFFERS
RESIGNATION. Two armed men gunned down three police officers in the
Bulgarian capital on 3 May, Bulgarian Radio reported the same day. Eye
witnesses said the men were dressed in dark suits and wore black masks.
They brandished Kalashnikov automatics and made their escape by car.
Reuters reported that the two gunmen may have been resisting arrest just
before the shooting. Meanwhile, Premier Zhan Videnov on 4 May announced
that Lyubomir Nachev has tendered his resignation as interior minister
in the wake of the killings. He added that he plans to ask the
parliament to replace Nachev with Nikolai Dobrev, chairman of the
parliamentary National Security Commission, AFP reported on 4 May. Since
January 1995, 15 Bulgarian police officers have been killed. -- Stan
Markotich

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS STONED ON WAY TO RALLY . . . Unknown culprits
attacked a car convoy carrying Albanian Socialist Party leaders to a
rally in Burrel, Reuters reported on 4 May. The Socialists accused
plain-clothes policemen of carrying out the attack, saying the local
police chief had headed it. Police "grabbed the camera with which the
rally was going to be filmed and attempted to hit the party leaders,"
the Socialists claimed. The government has denied the charges, saying
the police intervened to calm down an escalating situation after the
Socialists "behaved arrogantly," broke traffic rules, and insulted
passers-by, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 5 May. Windows of cars in
the convoy were smashed and several people injured. One driver's
condition remains serious. -- Fabian Schmidt

. . . WHILE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS' MEETING BANNED. Local police outlawed a
meeting by the Social Democrats in Kavaja on the weekend, saying it had
been announced too late, Poli i Qendres reported. Party leader Skender
Gjinushi had planned to address local citizens. Meanwhile, the Albanian
Helsinki Committee has protested a speech by French Gaullist politician
Michel Pericard at a Democratic Party rally in Tirana, also attended by
President Sali Berisah. The committee argued that the election law
prohibits non-Albanian citizens from participating in an election
campaign, Koha Jone reported on 5 April. Pericard responded by saying
that "democracy means respect and tolerance and this means that no one
can be banned from speaking," Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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