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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 103, Part II, 28 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 PRESIDENT SACKS PREMIER. Leonid Kuchma signed a decree on 27
May ousting Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and replacing him
with First Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, Ukrainian and Western
media reported. Kuchma said at a government meeting that Marchuk failed
to resolve Kyiv's wage debt crisis and pursue economic reforms because
he was more concerned with his political image and popularity. Since his
appointment as premier in July 1995, Marchuk had complained that he
lacked sufficient powers to govern. Lazarenko is a former governor of
Kuchma's native Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and although he is not seen as a
radical reformer, he is considered a loyal political ally of the
presidential administration. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN POLITICIANS REACT TO DISMISSAL OF PREMIER. The abrupt
dismissal of Yevhen Marchuk prompted varied reaction from across
Ukraine's political spectrum, Ukrainian agencies reported. Regional
governors, many centrists, and right-wing forces supported the move as
necessary because Marchuk had strayed too far from the president's
policies. Leftists said President Kuchma is more concerned with clan
interests than with the good of the country. Observers speculated that
Marchuk's growing opposition to a national referendum on the new draft
Ukrainian constitution, which Kuchma promotes, prompted the measure.
Many believe Marchuk may replace Oleksander Moroz as speaker of the
Ukrainian Parliament and lead a full-fledged opposition against the
president. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

INTERVIEW WITH BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS. Leading members of the
Belarusian Popular Front, Yuriy Khadyka and Vyacheslau Siuchyk, were
interviewed on Belarusian TV on 26 May. Both had gone on a hunger strike
after being arrested for organizing the 26 April demonstrations in
Minsk. They were released from jail but had to be hospitalized after
refusing to eat for a number of days. Forbidden to travel before their
pending trial, Siuchyk and Khadyka said they regarded themselves as
political prisoners. S. Novikau, head of the investigative group looking
into the charges against the two men, said the charges include
organizing group activities, disrupting public order, and impeding
public transport during the demonstrations. Khadyka and Siuchyk's
lawyer, N. Dudarava, defended the men saying they did not organize those
activities and were denied the right to see an attorney from the moment
of their arrest. The interviewer compared the 26 April demonstration to
the Russian White House siege in 1993 and noted that no one interfered
with the judicial process after that event. -- Ustina Markus

RUSSIA MAY REDUCE TARIFFS ON ESTONIAN GOODS. Former Estonian Prime
Minister Mart Laar said Russian Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin told
him in a private conversation in Moscow that Russia will cease imposing
double import tariffs on Estonian goods, BNS reported on 27 May. Laar
noted that at a meeting that the Council of Europe sponsored on East
European economic reforms the previous week in Poland, the Estonian
delegation refuted Yasin's statement that Russia imposed duties on
different kinds of goods and not on different nations. Laar pointed out
that the probable change in Russian tariff policy could be due to its
desire to join the World Trade Organization whose principles forbid the
implementation of tariffs for political reasons. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA REPORTS FURTHER CRIME GROWTH. The Statistics Department
announced that the number of crimes in Lithuania in the first four
months of 1996 was 20,700 or 1.6% more than in same period in 1995,
Radio Lithuania reported on 27 May. The number of violent crimes grew by
118% and of drug-related crimes by 54%. There were 1,190 robberies, a
41% increase, and 2,585 burglaries, a 29% rise. Car thefts, however,
declined by 23% and other thefts by 9%. The number of crimes solved by
police increased from 38% in the first two months of 1996 to 42% in the
first third of this year. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRIMATE, PRESIDENT ON CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS. Polish President
Aleksander Kwasniewski met on 27 May for an hour-long conversation with
the Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Polish dailies reported the
next day. Kwasniewski said the state and the church should seek a
compromise concerning the constitution, which is still being drafted by
the Sejm. He also expects parliament to make a decision soon on the
concordat that has awaited ratification since July 1993. The public
disclosure of a confidential letter on ratification of the concordat
sent by the Vatican to the Polish government had aggravated church-state
relations (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 May 1996). -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH SECURITY OFFICERS FIRED. Col. Andrzej Kapkowski, the new chief of
the State Protection Office (UOP), fired on 27 May four high ranking UOP
officers: Gen. Marian Zacharski, adviser to the UOP chief, the chief of
the Intelligence Directorate Gen. Bogdan Libera, the chief of the
Investigation Directorate Gen. Wiktor Fonfara, and his deputy Col.
Wojciech Dylewski. All four were involved in the activities leading to
spying allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. The
internal UOP commission investigating UOP activities related to the
Oleksy case found many infringements, Polish dailies reported on 28 May.
Former President Lech Walesa promoted Zacharski, Libera, and Fonfara to
the rank of general in December of last year. Zacharski was an active
spy in the 70s in the U.S. where he was sentenced to life imprisonment
and later released in an East-West spy swap. -- Jakub Karpinski

ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADER CRITICIZES SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER. Hungarian
Civic Party chairman Laszlo Nagy said Vladimir Meciar's call for
creating "clean Hungarian constituencies" was a "propagandistic move,"
Narodna obroda reported on 28 May. Meciar made the statement during the
recent visit of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van
der Stoel. However, critics have argued that "ethnically clean"
territory does not exist in Slovakia. Nagy said ethnic Hungarian
Coexistence chairman Miklos Duray did not consult his coalition partners
before declaring on 25 May that cooperation between opposition and
Hungarian coalition parties should be strengthened to form a union. Nagy
added that discussion of the matter should be delayed until the new
electoral law is approved. Meanwhile, Coexistence deputy chairman Arpad
Duka-Zolyomi told Sme on 28 May that his party is proposing a union of
Hungarian parties, not of the opposition as a whole. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY'S MINORITY COUNCILS COMPLAIN OF GOVERNMENT WIRETAPPING. Minority
ombudsman Jeno Kaltenbach last week ordered an investigation into
government wiretapping following complaints from minority councils in
southern Hungary, Hungarian media reported. Kaltenbach said a nationwide
investigation was necessary as Greek, Serbian, and German national
minority organizations had voiced concern about the secret service's
surveillance of their activities. Secret Service Minister Istvan
Nikolits first denied any unlawful wiretapping but later admitted that
surveillance may have been conducted in an aim to protect the minority
organizations from the impact of the Yugoslav crisis near the southern
borders. Nikolits is currently preparing a report to present to the
parliament. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DID THE ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS WIN OVER 95% OF THE SEATS? The Democratic
Party (PD), in a mixed system ballot, won the majority in all 115
election districts, and its candidates took 101 of the single-member
constituencies. The PD is likely to take the remaining 14 seats during
the second round of voting on 2 June, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 28
May. The remaining 25 seats will be divided by proportional
representation. Meanwhile, the Democrats held a victory rally in Tirana
on 27 May attended by some 10,000 supporters. The opposition Socialists,
Social Democrats, and Democratic Alliance, who demand new elections,
have called for a rally on 28 May and said they will not participate in
a future parliament. Should the parliament meet despite an opposition
boycott, the PD would have the power to change the constitution with its
two-thirds majority. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CONFIRM IRREGULARITIES IN ALBANIAN ELECTIONS . .
. International monitors told OMRI that they observed many
irregularities in the elections. The monitors, who asked not to be
named, said that in only three voting districts out of at least 15 that
they observed were irregularities not decisive in the ballot's outcome.
In Kukes, for example, the only polling station there to gain an
opposition majority was the one which was internationally monitored.
Similar observations were made elsewhere. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

. . . BUT ISSUE NO OFFICIAL STATEMENT YET. The EU and OSCE monitoring
mission, which went all over Albania, has been told to end its work. The
monitors postponed a declaration about the outcome and correctness of
the elections until 28 May. They met with Socialist Party leader Namik
Dokle and Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka, who charged the
government with massively manipulating the ballot. The OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly, however, held a press conference on 27 May in
which it indicated that the elections were free and fair, citing that it
monitored "several polling stations in Tirana." -- Fabian Schmidt in
Tirana

BOSNIAN TERROR TRIAL OPENS IN CROATIA. The trial began in Rijeka on 27
May of five Muslims arrested in April on charges of "international
terrorism." A Croat is also in the dock for complicity. The six are
accused of plotting to assassinate former Bihac pocket kingpin Fikret
Abdic who has been living quietly in Croatia since his empire crumbled
following an offensive by Croatian and Bosnian government troops late
last summer. The Bosnian authorities allegedly promised the six
individuals $66,000 to eliminate the maverick leader. The Sarajevo
government denies any knowledge of the five men and one woman and claims
that Abdic and the Croats staged the whole affair as a publicity stunt
for his planned comeback. The Croatian police claim to have found
evidence, however, clearly linking the Muslims to Bosnian intelligence
officials in Bihac. Abdic has charged that Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic is afraid of him as a proven vote-getter, Croatian media
reported. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN ASSEMBLY MEETS. The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina Assembly on
27 May accepted a report on the Dayton peace accords implementation by
Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, Oslobodjenje reported next day. The
government concluded that establishing freedom of movement and the
return of refugees are its current priorities. When deputies asked
whether a law on customs relief for refugees returning from abroad is
still in effect, Muratovic replied it is but the law is not applied
consistently because the Bosnian side has no border control, Onasa
reported. He said there are problems on all federation borders, but the
southern border, where the majority of goods entering the federation
cross, poses the most difficulties. -- Daria Sito Sucic

UPCOMING CHANGES WITHIN SERBIAN GOVERNMENT RANKS. Several ministers in
the Serbian government are expected to be shuffled out of their cabinet
positions, Nasa Borba reported on 28 May, crediting "circles close to
the government" for leaking the story. Ratomir Vico, Minister of
Information, is one of the ministers expected to leave his post but is
slated to remain in the government without a portfolio. His touted
successor is Aleksandar Tijanic, director of BK Telekom and confidante
of Mirjana Markovic, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's wife and
head of her own United Yugoslav Left (JUL) party. It is speculated that
Tijanic's likely promotion into cabinet ranks is a de facto means of
advancing the political profile and role of Markovic and her party. --
Stan Markotich

INDEPENDENT SERBIAN NEWS AGENCY BARRED FROM PRESS CONFERENCE. Serbian
Premier Mirko Marjanovic held a press conference on 27 May, to which the
independent news agency Beta was not invited. A Beta journalist
attempting to attend the meeting was reportedly barred and told that the
press conference was organized for the foreign press corps only. Beta,
however, has reported that this official explanation was a ruse and yet
another stark demonstration of the regime's animosity toward the
independent media. A number of government and pro-government media
outlets, including the daily Politika, were on the "guest list." -- Stan
Markotich

ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Traian Chebeleu
on 27 May said extremists in Hungary, the Hungarian diaspora, and the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania put pressure on Budapest to
include the controversial Council of Europe Recommendation 1201 in the
Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty, Romanian media reported. He rejected
the claim that Romania had accepted the recommendation providing for
collective rights for ethnic minorities at the time of its admission
into the council. Chebeleu claims Bucharest only committed itself to
take into consideration that document's stipulations while drafting the
recently passed education law. The recommendation's inclusion in the
Hungarian-Slovak treaty does not solve existing problems but rather
creates new tensions in bilateral relations, Chebeleu added. He further
proposed the recently signed Romanian-Yugoslav treaty as a model for
Bucharest and Budapest. -- Matyas Szabo

PARENTS ACCUSE DNIESTER AUTHORITIES OF "CULTURAL GENOCIDE." Parents of
pupils attending a Romanian-language school in Slobozia, a town in
Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, accused the authorities of
practicing "cultural genocide" on their children, Moldpres reported on
27 May. In an open letter addressed to Moldovan President Mircea Snegur,
the head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, and the ambassadors of the
U.S., Ukraine, and the Russian Federation in Chisinau, more than 500
parents protested the compulsory use of the Russian--rather than the
Latin--alphabet in the region's Romanian-language schools. The letter
also complained that textbooks are decades old, written in the spirit of
the bygone Soviet era, and each book is shared by five to 10 pupils.
According to the appeal, some 35,000 pupils throughout the region are
thus condemned to receive a poor, outmoded education. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA, IMF REACH AGREEMENT. The Bulgarian government and an IMF
mission on 27 May "in principle" agreed on a new standby loan, Reuters
reported. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov said Bulgaria should gain
around $400 million over the next 20 months from the agreement. IMF
mission head Anne McGuirk said under the agreement a "tough reform
program" lies ahead of Bulgaria. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said he
will present his IMF-backed reform package to the parliament and the
trade unions on 28 May and appealed to them to back it and not delay its
implementation. The agreement has to be approved by the IMF board.
Meanwhile, Bulgarian citizens will have a last chance to buy
privatization vouchers between 1 and 9 June. Sales initially were closed
on 8 May with just 40% of those eligible participating. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR STRONGER PRESIDENCY. Zhelyu Zhelev on 27
May called for an overhaul of the current parliamentary system, saying
only a stronger presidency can get the country out of its present
crisis, Reuters reported. Zhelev said Bulgaria "needs a stronger
presidential republic" in this transitional stage and that he will push
for changes "within the existing constitution." On state radio, Zhelev
said the Socialists' fall from power is inevitable because they "proved
unable to lead the country out of the crisis." Meanwhile, former Tsar
Simeon said his present visit to Bulgaria will help him assess how he
can contribute to the country's transition to democracy but pointed to
the "limitations of what anybody can achieve with just...goodwill." He
stressed that he is still king and repeated that he does not recognize
the 1946 referendum abolishing the monarchy. -- Stefan Krause

TURKISH, BOSNIAN, CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. The foreign ministers
of Turkey, Bosnia, and Croatia held talks in Ankara, Western and Turkish
media reported on 27 May. The meeting was part of Turkish efforts to
shore up the Muslim-Croat federation, which is one of the cornerstones
of the Dayton system. The talks aimed to demonstrate the commitment of
all sides to the federation, Bosnia's post-war reconstruction, and the
holding of general elections there in mid-September. Discussion also
focused on the training of both Bosnian and Croatian soldiers in Turkey.
An agreement for a ferry service between the Turkish port Mersin and the
Croatian port Ploce was reached. It was announced that the Turkish
Cooperation and Development Agency will open an office in Zagreb after
doing so in Sarajevo, Yeni Yuzyil reported on 28 May. Such tripartite
consultations have become regular affairs. -- Lowell Bezanis

[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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