A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 94, Part II, 15 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

UKRAINE SHORTENS TERM OF MILITARY SERVICE. Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma issued a decree on 12 May shortening the length of mandatory
military service for conscripts from 24 to 18 months, UNIAR reported on
13 May. The decree also cuts the length of service for draftees with
higher education degrees from 18 to 12 months. The terms of service in
the Ukrainian navy remain unchanged. The measure is part of a planned
reduction in the Ukrainian armed forces. Some 80,000 conscripts signed
up for military duty this spring. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

LEFTIST DEPUTIES WITHDRAW FROM COMMISSION REVIEWING DRAFT UKRAINIAN
CONSTITUTION. Representatives of the Communist caucus and Peasant Party
of Ukraine have withdrawn from a special parliamentary commission
reviewing the draft Ukrainian constitution, Ukrainian TV reported on 15
May. Ivan Popescu, a commission member, said the lawmakers left when the
body rejected their demands for a change in voting procedures. The
deputies insisted voting rights within the 28-member commission, made up
of representatives of parliamentary caucuses, be proportional to the
size of each caucus. Currently each member has one vote. The commission
has completed work on 26 articles but reached consensus on only one
article. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ANTI-PRESIDENT RALLY IN MINSK. About 5,000 demonstrators marched through
the streets of Minsk on 14 May demanding the release of two activists
facing charges over the 26 April protest against the pro-Russian
policies of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Reuters reported.
Belarusian Popular Front leaders Yury Khadyka and Vyachaslau Siuchyk
have been on a hunger strike since their arrest 17 days ago. The
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights also issued a
statement asking for their release. It noted that they could be jailed
for up to three years and that the legal process so far "gives little
hope that the trial will be fair and open." The demonstrators shouted in
front of Lukashenka's residence until he departed by car. They then
moved toward the parliament building but dispersed quietly after being
stopped by a police cordon. --  Saulius Girnius

POLISH UNION LEADER DEPORTED FROM BELARUS. Solidarity trade union
President Marian Krzaklewski was detained in Belarus for several hours
on 14 May and deported later in the evening. Krzaklewski, two other
Solidarity activists, and a driver were in Minsk on the invitation of
the Belarusian independent trade unions. Krzaklewski and his colleagues
were detained for five hours by security forces after a meeting with
employees of a Minsk factory. Krzaklewski said he was "brutally forced
into a car" by police in plain clothes. The Polish trade unionists were
brought under military guard to the Poland-Belarus border. A duty
officer with the Belarusian Committee for State Security said, "our
organization didn't detain a single person today." A spokesman at the
Belarusian Interior Ministry said he had no information about any such
case. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka publicly accused
Solidarity of inciting an "anti-governmental atmosphere" in Belarus,
Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT AGREES TO AMEND LOCAL ELECTIONS LAW. The parliament
agreed on 14 May to amend the local elections law it had passed on 17
April, ETA reported. President Lennart Meri rejected the law on 7 May
saying it contradicted the Estonian Constitution and the UN convention
on civil rights because it required candidates who did not graduate from
Estonian language high schools to pass written and oral Estonian
language examinations. Even those who rejected the validity of Meri's
arguments voted for making amendments, realizing that opponents of the
law would otherwise ask for a Supreme Court ruling on its
constitutionality, and such a delay would probably mean that the
elections in October would be carried out under the old and not the new
law. -- Saulius Girnius

IMPRISONED FORMER COMMUNIST NOMINATED FOR LATVIA'S PRESIDENT. The left-
wing Equality of Rights caucus in the Saeima has nominated Alfreds
Rubiks, former Latvian Communist Party First Secretary, for president
even though he is currently imprisoned for plotting an overthrow of the
Latvian government in 1991, BNS reported on 14 May. Two other parties
have nominated their presidential candidates: parliamentary chairwoman
Ilga Kreituse will represent the Democratic Party Saimnieks and Imants
Liepa is the Popular Movement for Latvia's candidate. Incumbent
president Guntis Ulmanis was nominated by the Farmers' Union, but his
formal application has not yet been presented. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA'S PARLIAMENT RATIFIES NATO SOFA AGREEMENT. The Seimas on 14
May ratified the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, BNS reported. Defense
Minister Linas Linkevicius called the ratification vital since more
Lithuanian soldiers are being sent to exercises in NATO countries as the
republic's involvement in the Partnership for Peace program increases.
President Algirdas Brazauskas also sent the association agreement with
the European Union to the Seimas for approval. This document was signed
on 12 June 1995 and already ratified by the parliaments of several EU
countries. The Seimas will rule on the agreement only after it approves
for the second time (on 20 June or later) an amendment to Article 47 of
the Constitution that now bans foreigners from owning land in Lithuania.
-- Saulius Girnius

POLISH GOVERNMENT ON GDANSK SHIPYARD. The Polish government said on 14
May that bankruptcy would be the only way to save the Gdansk shipyard
where Solidarity trade union was born in 1980. Some 4,000 of the
shipyard's 7,000 workers demonstrated on 10 May in protest against the
authorities' refusal to pay their April salaries. An official
declaration of bankruptcy for the shipyard, in which the government
holds a 61% stake, would be made in early June at the annual meeting of
its shareholders. The Korean LG Group declared its interest in the
Polish shipyard industry, but Polish Privatization Minister Wieslaw
Kaczmarek expressed doubts in the Koreans' willingness to invest in the
debt-ridden firm, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub
Karpinski

CZECH ELECTION CAMPAIGN BEGINS. A 14-day parliamentary election campaign
officially started on 15 May in the Czech Republic. The 20 political
parties and coalitions that have registered for the elections to the
parliament's lower chamber will share equally 14 hours of broadcasting
time on public radio and TV. The Constitutional Court is to rule later
today on the opposition's complaint that the election law is
unconstitutional in demanding that each of the registered parties pay a
ballot-printing fee of 200,000 crowns (about $7,400) to each election
district in which it competes. Some smaller parties have refused to pay
the fee. President Vaclav Havel said on 12 May that parties that are
unable to pay this amount are not viable and should not compete in the
elections. The elections will be held on 31 May and 1 June. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAKS RALLY TO DEMAND INTERIOR MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. Up to 8,000
people gathered in Bratislava's main square on 14 May and demanded that
Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek resign over security officials'
involvement in the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, Slovak
and international media reported. The rally, organized by the opposition
Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Democratic Union, was a reaction
to the broadcast tape recording of a conversation in which Hudek and
Slovak Information Service Director Ivan Lexa discussed aspects of the
case (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 May 1996). Hudek said that broadcasting
the tape infringed on his privacy but did not deny its content. Earlier,
KDH deputy and former Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner presented the
report of an independent commission he chaired, which investigated the
abduction of Michal Kovac Jr. The report said the kidnapping was part of
political attacks on the president since 1993, and Pittner called on
Hudek, Lexa, and Prosecutor-General Michal Valo to resign. -- Steve
Kettle

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAKES UNPRECEDENTED MOVE AGAINST CROATIA . . . Foreign
ministers of the 39-member Council of Europe voted on 14 May to delay
action until the end this month on Croatia's application for membership.
They cited Zagreb's failure to act on a 21-point program on democracy
and human rights that it had agreed on with the council in April.
Spokesmen added that specific issues included press freedom, the status
of the Zagreb city council, cooperation with the war crimes tribunal in
The Hague, and the reunification of Mostar. Croatia's application had
already been approved, first by a committee and then on 24 April by the
parliamentary assembly. The action of the ministers at the third, and
hitherto purely formal stage of the admission process, is unprecedented,
Reuters and the BBC noted. Many in Strasbourg were angry with the
Croatian government's moves since 24 April against the independent media
and the opposition-dominated Zagreb council. -- Patrick Moore

. . . WHILE ZAGREB MULLS OVER ITS RESPONSE. There was no immediate
official comment in Croatia, but Vjesnik, a daily closely associated
with the government, suggested on 15 May that democracy was not the real
issue and that Croatia had been singled out for "special treatment"
because of national interests among the European Council's members. The
paper added that Croatia must now either comply if it wants to join the
council or reconsider the importance of membership in European
institutions. Slobodna Dalmacija added that London was the main culprit
in blocking Croatia during the meeting, which generally demonstrated
little consensus on the Croatian question. Many Croats regard Britain
and France as hostile to their country's independence and believe the
two countries are bent on restoring a Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. The
council's move may backfire by strengthening a small but growing and
influential number of people wary of European integration, who support
instead strong bilateral ties with individual Central European states
and above all with the U.S. -- Patrick Moore

U.S. OFFICIAL RESIGNS OVER SCHEDULING OF BOSNIAN ELECTIONS . . . William
Steubner, chief of staff of the OSCE mission, has resigned in protest
against a decision to hold Bosnian elections in the fall, AFP reported
on 15 May. Steubner believes Bosnia will not meet by that time OSCE
conditions for the elections, such as a free media, the right of
refugees and displaced people to return to their pre-war homes to vote,
and the exclusion of indicted war criminals from the electoral process.
Robert Frowick, the head of the OSCE mission in Bosnia, told The
Washington Post he was greatly pressured to guarantee that the Bosnian
elections would be held in September, as scheduled in the Dayton peace
accord. Frowick stressed that the dangers of postponing the vote were
greater than those of holding it on time. -- Daria Sito Sucic

. . . WHILE KARADZIC ANNOUNCES HIS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY. Radovan
Karadzic, an indicted war criminal and president of the Republika
Srpska, said he will run in the forthcoming Bosnian elections, Nasa
Borba reported on 15 May. Karadzic noted his popularity among Bosnian
Serbs and the support of the parliament as justification for his
candidacy. He said he is in favor of early elections in Bosnia. "My
leaving the post in this moment would only cause confusion," Karadzic
said. He added that the international community is just wasting its time
trying to find moderate Bosnian Serbs. He denied charges that he is a
war criminal and said The Hague-based international tribunal for war
crimes has no evidence against him. -- Daria Sito Sucic

JUDGE INDICTS SERB AFTER KOSOVO KILLING. A Pristina judge has indicted
Serb citizen Zlatibor Jovanovic for killing on 21 April Armend Daci, an
Albanian student. A wave of violence in Kosovo resulted from the
killing, leaving five Serbs and one Albanian child dead. Jovanovic
claims he killed Daci accidentally and said earlier he thought the
student was attempting to steal his car. Meanwhile, Democratic League of
Kosovo leaders Fehmi Agani and Hydajet Hyseni met with German diplomats,
including the German Ambassador to Belgrade. They discussed prospects
for negotiations on the Kosovo conflict. The Kosovo leaders stressed
that the independence of Kosovo is the only just and viable solution,
KIC reported. Meanwhile, the Democratic Union of Albanians in Germany
announced a hunger strike in Bonn, demanding EU recognition of Kosovo's
independence, ATSH reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

YET ANOTHER CROAT-MUSLIM MILITARY AGREEMENT. Croatian Foreign Minister
Mate Granic, Bosnian Croat leader and federal President Kresimir Zubak,
federal Vice President Ejup Ganic, and Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan
Muratovic are among the dozen or so participants attending a "forum" in
Washington D.C. to shore up the shaky Croat-Muslim federation. U.S.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher said it is important to strengthen
the federation as a cornerstone of the Dayton peace agreement. He and
Zubak made optimistic statements, but Ganic slammed international
peacekeepers not only for failing to arrest indicted war criminals
Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, but for also sharing "the same
roof" with them, AFP reported on 14 May. The Croats and Muslims signed
an agreement that same day to unite their armed forces under a common
defense ministry within three years. They have made and reneged on
several such promises before, but the rather long, and hence possibly
realistic, three-year timetable is new. -- Patrick Moore

POLISH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Aleksander Kwasniewski on 14 May began a
two-day visit to Romania. He met with his Romanian counterpart, Ion
Iliescu, premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, the chairmen of the bi-cameral
parliament, and opposition leaders. Kwasniewski also addressed a joint
session of the legislature's houses. Three economic and cultural
cooperation agreements were signed. The visit ends on 15 May after the
Polish president travels to the northern town of Suceava, where he will
meet with members of Romania's small Polish minority. -- Michael Shafir

UPDATE ON ROMANIAN TELEPHONE BUGGING SCANDAL. Nicolae Ulieru, spokesman
for the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), admitted on 14 May that SRI
recorded the private telephone conversations that were played at a
conference of the Greater Romania Party one day earlier but said the
surveillance had been legal. Ulieru added that Constantin Bucur, the SRI
captain who divulged the tape, will be prosecuted for revealing SRI
secrets. Meanwhile, also on 14 May, the Chamber of Deputies approved a
new law on communication, which had been debated in the house for some
time before the scandal produced by Bucur's disclosures broke out. The
legislation allows eavesdropping on telephone calls under warrant from
the Prosecutor-General's Office. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN, DNIESTER SUMMIT FAILS AGAIN. Moldovan officials and leaders of
the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, meeting in Tiraspol on 14 May,
failed to achieve a consensus on the Interim Memorandum on Dniester
conflict settlement principles, Moldovan agencies reported. The Dniester
leadership has reverted to last year's stance, insisting on a full
division of powers between Chisinau and Tiraspol, which practically is a
call for independence. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, Parliament
Speaker Petru Lucinschi, and Premier Andrei Sangheli attended the
meeting, while Igor Smirnov, leader of the self-proclaimed republic, and
Grigori Marakutsa, chairman of the Tiraspol Supreme Soviet, headed the
Dniester delegation. The head of the OSCE mission in Moldova and the
Ukrainian and Russian presidential envoys also participated. The next
summit is scheduled for 17 June. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN LABOR LEADER OPPOSES GOVERNMENT PLAN. Krastyu Petkov, head of
the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, on 14 May announced his
opposition to government plans to revive the country's ailing economy,
local media reported. Petrov disapproved of restructuring plans that
call for the shutdown of redundant state-run enterprises. This move
would put an estimated 29,000 employees out work, which Petrov said is
an unacceptable outcome. So far, he is the only major labor leader to
voice his opposition to the government's economic renewal proposals. The
targeted firms, which Reuters reports represent some 29% of the
economy's losses, have not yet been named publicly. -- Stan Markotich

BULGARIA'S BREAD CRISIS. Falling bread supplies and grain shortages
triggered "panic" in several Bulgarian cities, Reuters reported on 14
May. Bakeries throughout the country were forced to close or limit their
sales. The Bulgarian government has attempted to allay public fears by
issuing a statement reassuring consumers that there "will be enough
bread for everyone." However, the local media are warning that the bread
shortage may soon hit Sofia. Reuters quotes Millers' Union Secretary
Hristo Nikolov as saying, "Bulgaria has only a very limited amount of
wheat, which will last not even a month." -- Stan Markotich

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS CHARGE DEMOCRATS WITH FURTHER INTIMIDATION BEFORE
ELECTIONS. Local Socialist candidate Alfred Paloka issued a statement in
Zeri i Popullit on 15 May saying that "known activists of the Democratic
Party" intruded on a Socialist public meeting in Shengjin and shot into
the air and the ground with machine guns. Paloka claims that four
policemen present during the incident did not interfere. Elsewhere, the
Social Democrats (PSD) charged authorities with attempting to disrupt
its election campaign. The PSD leader Skender Gjinushi said plain-
clothes police had blocked streets, preventing him from meeting his
party's supporters in the north. Meanwhile, Socialist Secretary-General
Gramoz Ruci accused the election committees of failing to post on time
in all districts the voters' lists and of registering some voters more
than once. He also said police detained and beat Socialist supporters.
-- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Deborah Michaels

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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