Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 99, Part II, 22 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

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH EU OFFICIALS. Hennadii Udovenko met 
with the European Commissioner for External Relations Hans van den Broek 
and the foreign ministers of Italy, Ireland, and Spain on 21 May in Rome, 
AFP reported. The meeting focused on Ukraine's relations with the EU and 
on how the organization can financially assist Ukraine in its economic 
reform program and the eventual shutdown of the Chornobyl nuclear power 
plant by the year 2000. The foreign ministers also released a statement 
noting that the EU considers Ukrainian independence, territorial 
integrity, and sovereignty vital to European security. In an interview 
with ITAR-TASS on 22 May, Udovenko reiterated that Ukraine should not 
become a buffer zone between NATO and Russia and questioned NATO expansion 
unless some agreement can be worked out with Russia. -- Roger Kangas

SECOND BELARUSIAN HUNGER STRIKER RELEASED. The Belarusian authorities on 
21 May released Belarusian Popular Front leader Yuriy Khadyka who had 
staged a hunger strike for the previous 23 days, Reuters reported. Khadyka 
had been protesting his detention on charges of organizing a rally in 
Minsk on 26 April that opposed the pro-Russian policies of President 
Alyaksandr Lukashenka. He went from prison to the Minsk hospital, where 
his co-hunger striker Vyachaslau Siuchyk has been receiving treatment 
since 17 May. The detention of the two BPF leaders prompted numerous 
appeals and a demonstration in Minsk for their release. The charges 
against the two have not been dropped, and they could face up to three 
years' imprisonment if convicted. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA ALLOWS RUSSIA TO OPEN CONSULATE IN TARTU. The Estonian Foreign 
Ministry has agreed to the opening of a Russian consular department in 
Tartu, ETA reported on 21 May. The ministry had rejected previous requests 
by Russia for such an office, arguing that Estonia was so small that the 
embassy in Tallinn and consular office in Narva were sufficient. The 
decision, announced prior to the next round of border talks between the 
two countries in Pskov on 22-23 May, is expected to make it easier for 
some Russian citizens living in Estonia to vote in the June presidential 
elections in Russia. -- Saulius Girnius 

DATE SET FOR LATVIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Saeima Caucas Council has 
announced it will convene a special session of the parliament on 18 June 
to elect a new state president, BNS reported on 21 May. It also proposed 
that the parliament's spring session end on 17 June and the fall session 
begin on 8 August. The term of President Guntis Ulmanis expires on 7 July 
so there will be ample opportunity to hold a second round of voting if 
none of the nominees wins in the first round. The four candidates so far 
are Ulmanis, supported by the Farmers' Union, Christian Democratic Union, 
and Latvia's Way; Ilga Kreituse of the Democratic Party Saimnieks; Imants 
Liepa of the Popular Movement of Latvia; and imprisoned former Communist 
Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks. -- Saulius Girnius

POLES ON RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION . . . A recent public opinion poll 
conducted by the Warsaw-based Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP) shows 
that 42% of Poles over the age of 15 are anxious about the outcome of the 
presidential elections in Russia next month. Only 7% of respondents were 
"hopeful" about the outcome, with 24% saying they were not interested and 
20% declaring indifference. Of the respondents, 59% believed that Russia 
would like to subordinate Poland to Russian rule; only 23% did not believe 
this was the case, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 22 May. -- Jakub Karpinski

. . . AND CZECHS ON CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION. More than 55% of the 
respondents in a recent opinion poll say they would accept a Czech- German 
declaration in which the Czechs admitted the "moral incorrectness" of the 
expulsion of some 3 million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after 
World War II if the Germans gave up property claims and compensated Czech 
victims of the Nazi regime. Conducted by the Factum agency and published 
in Mlada Fronta Dnes on 22 May, the poll revealed that such a declaration 
would be unacceptable to only 30% of the respondents. Previous polls have 
indicated that an overwhelming majority of Czechs are opposed to an 
official apology for the expulsion; the Factum poll used the term 
"admitting moral incorrectness." According to the poll, those who 
experienced World War II and those with leftist views are more likely to 
oppose any settlement of the Sudeten German issue, while young people tend 
to be more pragmatic. -- Jiri Pehe 

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON REACTS TO POLICE DECISION. Michal Kovac Jr. on 21 
May issued a statement to TASR responding to the police's decision the 
previous day to adjourn the investigation into his kidnapping. He wrote 
that, "I do not wish for anyone, even those who would rather believe in 
lies, to experience such an approach of the state to its citizen [as I 
have]." Alluding to his father, he noted that "this state has tried to 
discredit its citizen in every way possible in order to remove from office 
another citizen, coincidentally the first citizen of this state." In an 
attempt to reach its aim, the state "tried to use the police in order to 
discredit [Kovac Jr.] and put him in prison," even utilizing "the services 
of individuals with a criminal past," he argued. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK CABINET SUES SLOVAK JOURNALIST. The government on 21 May announced 
that a law suit has been filed against Sme editor Peter Toth and its 
publisher for "intolerance and gross and ungrounded attacks against the 
cabinet," TASR reported. The government is demanding a public apology and 
compensation "for the damage to civic honor and human dignity." Toth, who 
has closely covered the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, has 
been a frequent victim of criticism from coalition representatives. He was 
physically attacked last October. The current charges stem from Toth's 
statements at former policeman Robert Remias's funeral, when he accused 
the Slovak Information Service and government circles of involvement in 
Remias's death. Sme chief editor Karol Jezik told CTK that the suit is "an 
attempt at intimidation," adding that the cabinet has already filed more 
than ten lawsuits against Sme and its editors. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN FIGHTER PLANES LEAVE FOR POLAND WITHOUT PARLIAMENT'S APPROVAL. 
Hungary's armed forces have sent MiG-29 aircraft to Poland for military 
exercises without the approval of the parliament, Hungarian media reported 
on 22 May. The Hungarian Army's official 1996 schedule provided for the 
deployment of eight MiG fighters to Poland on 16 May, but the parliament 
did not give its approval by that date. The planes were reportedly sent to 
Poland without even the approval of Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti. Magyar 
Hirlap quotes the constitution as stating that the armed forces cannot 
cross the country's borders without the prior consent of parliament, 
except in the case of military exercises within the framework of 
international treaties or peacekeeping activities carried out at the 
request of the United Nations. The five opposition parties on 21 May 
unanimously demanded the dismissal of Keleti. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY TO GRANT COMMON LAW RIGHTS TO HOMOSEXUAL COUPLES. The parliament 
on 21 May amended the Civil Code to grant common law rights to homosexual 
couples, Hungarian media reported. Homosexuals are now entitled to inherit 
property from their partners and receive a deceased partner's pension. But 
they will not be allowed to adopt children. The amendment was required 
after a Constitutional Court ruling in March 1995 extending recognition of 
common-law relationships to homosexual couples. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BILDT FAILED TO OUST KARADZIC? High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt 
and commander of IFOR ground troops Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Walker, meeting 
with the Bosnian Serb leadership at Pale on 21 May, failed to receive a 
commitment that the Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan 
Karadzic would resign, international agencies reported. Bosnian President 
Alija Izetbegovic noted that the effort to unseat Karadzic has failed, AFP 
reported. Meanwhile, in an interview with the B 92 radio station, Bildt 
said he will ask Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to help arrest 
Karadzic and another indicted war criminal, Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko 
Mladic. Nasa Borba on 22 May commented that if Bildt reports to the UN 
Contact Group that Milosevic has failed to help implement the Dayton peace 
agreement, sanctions to the rump Yugoslavia could be resumed. -- Daria 
Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS. Vice President Ejup 
Ganic has said his government will not take part in the vote slated for 
mid-September unless indicted war criminals Karadzic and Mladic are 
removed from power. He also demanded a change in the election rules to 
ensure that people can vote in home areas from which they have been 
expelled. "The danger of these elections, if they are not done correctly, 
is that they will verify ethnic cleansing. They will become a blueprint 
for how to ethnically expel people," the New York Times on 22 May quoted 
him as saying. Ganic's views are in keeping with the Dayton agreement, but 
its key architect, Richard Holbrooke, now seems to have doubts about the 
principles Ganic recalled. Holbrooke told the BBC on 21 May that massive 
and involuntary demographic changes have become "a fact of life" in 
Bosnia. He added, however, that elections must take place this year even 
if they are "flawed" lest they never be held. -- Patrick Moore

NATO NOT TO HUNT DOWN KARADZIC? Atlantic Alliance sources on 21 May said 
that IFOR troops will not go after Karadzic for fear the move could lead 
to casualties among the peacekeepers, Onasa reported. The head of the 
Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Justice Richard Goldstone, said however 
that he cannot "believe that 60,000 [IFOR] troops would have difficulty" 
in arresting the war criminals, The New York Times noted on 22 May. 
Meanwhile in Washington, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said 
the U.S. has spoken to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic about his 
obligation to make sure the Bosnian Serbs observe all aspects of the 
Dayton accord, including bringing war criminals to justice. Milosevic 
reportedly told the Americans that he wants the Bosnian Serbs to comply, 
but he did not say what he will do about it, Onasa added. Burns also 
called Karadzic's plans for a referendum "a lot of hot air," adding that 
"it won't happen because we won't let it happen," Reuters stated. -- 
Patrick Moore

SERBIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NEW ACTING BOSNIAN SERB PRESIDENT. Meanwhile, 
Milosevic met with Biljana Plavsic on 21 May, Nasa Borba reported the 
following day. Recently appointed by Karadzic, she was accompanied by vice 
president Nikola Koljevic. Their meeting focused on major political issues 
in Bosnia, with Milosevic encouraging the Bosnian Serbs to set up and 
respect "democratic institutions" before the elections. Milosevic recently 
has come under pressure from the international community to secure a 
change in the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs, in particular Karadzic's 
removal from power. -- Stan Markotich

SERBS TORTURED SEVEN MUSLIM PRISONERS. Bosnian Serb policemen beat and 
abused seven uniformed Muslims arrested by U.S. IFOR troops in eastern 
Bosnia earlier this month and then handed them over to the local police 
force. A UN spokesman said the torture to obtain confessions took place in 
a prison in Zvornik, Oslobodjenje reported on 22 May. The men, whose 
origin and identity are unknown, are now being held in Bijeljina, where 
they have received some medical attention. The Muslims were armed, and 
explosions were heard before they surrendered to the Americans. Bosnian 
officials maintain they may be refugees from Srebrenica who have been 
hiding out in the woods and mountains, but NATO said they looked too well 
fed and groomed to have been living rough since last summer. -- Patrick 
Moore

SERBS BEGIN DEMILITARIZATION IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. Jacques Klein, UN 
administrator for the Croatian Serb-held eastern Slavonia, has announced 
that Serbian demilitarization in the region began on 21 May following the 
full deployment of the 5,000-strong multinational UN peacekeeping force 
(UNTAES), international and local media reported. Demilitarization is to 
be completed within one month. UN sources said the Serbs have already 
withdrawn most of their heavy weapons to Serbia and Montenegro. Croatian 
Radio on 21 May reported that telephone lines between eastern Slavonia and 
other parts of Croatia have been partly restored as a step toward full 
reintegration with the rest of Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic 

NATO TROOPS TO PARTICIPATE IN JOINT MILITARY MANEUVERS IN ROMANIA. At the 
request of President Ion Iliescu, the Chamber of Deputies on 21 May 
approved the participation of NATO troops in six joint military exercises 
to be held on Romanian territory this year within the framework of the 
Partnership for Peace program, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. 
Socialist Labor Party deputy Silviu Somacu vehemently opposed the 
proposal, raising arguments described by Adevarul as "typical of communist 
propaganda." Some deputies called him a "dirty Communist," and fist-fight 
was narrowly averted, Evenimentul zilei reported. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN CAPITAL WARNS OF SPREAD OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES. The Chisinau 
Mayor's Office has declared a state of emergency "in connection with the 
danger of spread of acute diarrhea, cholera, and other infectious 
diseases," BASA-press reported on 20 May. Deputy Major Dumitru Gatcan said 
the office has banned selling perishable products on the streets. An 
official of the National Hygiene and Epidemology Center told BASA that the 
cholera danger persists this year, especially in the Transdniester region, 
where most cases were reported in 1995. -- Michael Shafir

OSCE MISSION HEAD'S MANDATE ENDS IN MOLDOVA. Michael Wygant, whose mandate 
as head of the OSCE mission in Moldova has ended, on 20 May met with 
President Mircea Snegur, BASA-press reported . Snegur said the mission has 
helped Moldova maintain peace and take steps toward reaching a settlement 
to the Transdniestrian dispute. At the same time, he insisted that such a 
settlement "must proceed from the premise of Moldova's independence, 
sovereignty, and territorial integrity, [which are] recognized by the 
mediators." Wygant said the time when "theoretical discussions will be 
replaced by practical action in a united, integral, and independent 
Moldova" was not far off. -- Michael Shafir

COUNTERFEIT WESTERN BILLS FLOOD BULGARIA. With the lev continuing to fall 
against the U.S. dollar and with many Bulgarians trying to trade their lev 
savings for hard currency, large amounts of counterfeit U.S. and German 
bills are circulating in Bulgaria, Bulgarian National Bank Deputy Governor 
Dimitar Dimitrov told Bulgarian TV on 21 May. A senior police official 
estimated that "dozens of millions" of counterfeit U.S. dollars are on the 
Bulgarian market. According to 24 chasa, the bogus bills come from the 
Middle East via Turkey. In other news, Bulgaria and the EU on 21 May 
agreed to boost nuclear safety at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, RFE/RL 
reported. Kozloduy's Reactor No. 1 was shut down for EU-sponsored safety 
tests last week. Bulgarian and EU experts will jointly decide when it will 
go back on line. -- Stefan Krause 

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BANKING LAWS. The Bulgarian parliament on 21 
May passed on first reading a law on compensating citizens and enterprises 
that have lost their savings in banks facing bankruptcy proceedings, 
Bulgarian media reported The law envisions full compensation for citizens 
and 50% compensation for companies. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov 
estimates these measures will cost 20 billion leva ($159 million). -- 
Michael Wyzan

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN CHINA. Zhan Videnov on 21 May reaffirmed that 
Sofia remains committed to its "one China" policy, Trud reported. Speaking 
in Beijing, he commented that Bulgaria will not establish official 
contacts with Taiwan. Videnov also said that Tibet is an "autonomous 
region" in China and that the Tibetan issue is China's internal affair. 
Videnov told his Chinese counterpart, Li Peng, that his government 
considers good relations and cooperation with Beijing one of its 
foreign-policy priorities. Several bilateral agreements have been signed 
so far, including ones on cooperation in public security, education, 
science, and patents. Videnov is the first Bulgarian prime minister to 
visit China in some 40 years. -- Stefan Krause 

RECORD ECONOMIC GROWTH IN ALBANIA. According to an IMF report, Albania 
continues to be the poorest European country, but its economy is the 
fastest-growing in Europe, AFP reported on 21 May. The report states that 
the economy grew by 11% last year, while the budget deficit was 7% of GDP 
and annual inflation only 6%. Foreign investment amounted to $2.5 billion, 
and remittances from Albanians working abroad reached $400-600 million. 
However, wages remain low--at an average of $70 a month--and unemployment 
is still widespread. The Frankfurter Rundschau on 22 May reported that 
official unemployment is 15% but soars to almost 50% in the former 
industrial regions in the north. -- Stefan Krause 

PROSECUTOR DEMANDS LIFE IMPRISONMENT FOR FORMER ALBANIAN COMMUNISTS. 
Prosecutor Arjan Sulstafa on 21 May demanded that former President Haxhi 
Lleshi, Deputy Prime Minister Manush Myftiu, Supreme Court Chairman Aranit 
Cela, and Deputy Interior Minister and head of the secret police Zylyftar 
Ramizi be sentenced to life imprisonment, Reuters reported. He also urged 
that the fifth defendant, former Prosecutor-General Rrapi Mino, receive a 
25-year sentence. The five former officials are charged with crimes 
against humanity while in power. They are also accused of ordering the 
internal exile of political opponents. -- Stefan Krause 

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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