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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 106, Part II, 31 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

NEW UKRAINIAN PREMIER OFFERS BAILOUT OF COAL INDUSTRY. Pavlo Lazarenko,
Ukraine's new prime minister, announced that his government will
allocate another 35 trillion karbovantsi ($189 million) to bailout the
country's troubled coal industry, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 May. He
said part of the funds will go toward payment of the government's 38
trillion karbovantsi wage debt to miners, while some 6 trillion
karbovantsi will be used for state coal purchases. Some 40 mines are on
now strike, the largest walkout since employees at 100 mines held
strikes in early February demanding payment of back wages. Coal Industry
Minister Serhii Polyoakov said the government plans to shut down 100
unprofitable mines, mainly in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. He said
there are plans to transfer all social facilities and services in the
country's coal mining towns to the jurisdiction of local councils. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

MORE DEMONSTRATIONS IN BELARUS. Around 3,000 people demonstrated in
front of the presidential palace in Minsk demanding the release of nine
activists arrested during the 26 April Chornobyl demonstrations,
international agencies reported. The crowd chanted slogans against
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, at which point security forces broke up
the demonstration, beating several protesters and arresting 100-200
people. Although no political party has taken responsibility for
organizing the rally, authorities accused the Belarusian Popular Front
(BPF). In the past, the government has blamed solely the BPF for
instigating demonstrations that were in fact organized by a number of
parties and organizations. The consistent allegations that the BPF is
responsible for organizing mass protests is seen as a pretext to justify
banning the organization. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA'S FOREIGN POLICY PRESENTED. Foreign Minister Siim Kallas gave
his regular semi-annual overview of Estonia's foreign policy to the
parliament on 30 May, ETA reported. Its focus was on the normalization
of relations with Russia. Kallas noted that from 1991 to 1996, 24
different agreements came into force between the two countries, four
more were signed, and another 47 agreements were in various stages of
preparation. He considered the agreements on prevention of double
taxation, protection of investments, and cooperation between interior
ministries to be the most important. Kallas also pointed out that "for
the first time in history we have reached equilibrium (with the Nordic
countries)." Countering what he called the "unfortunate impression" that
Estonia wanted to join the EU before Latvia and Lithuania, he said the
three states' policies would be guided by the gentlemanly formula "one
for all, all for one." -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENT SLASHES EX-PRESIDENTS' PENSIONS. The Polish Sejm
decided on 30 May to approve a Senate amendment to a 12 April Sejm bill,
cutting in half pensions awarded to former presidents. The Sejm approved
in April a bill granting former presidents a pension equal to the
current president's salary. Now the former presidents will be entitled
to $800 plus secretarial expenses of $1,500 per month. The average
monthly wage in Poland is around $350. The amendment affects three
former presidents: Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, Lech Walesa, and Ryszard
Kaczorowski who is the only living president of Poland's exile
government that functioned in London until Walesa was elected in 1990.
The bill awaits the current President Aleksander Kwasniewski's
signature. -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT'S CHARGES. Vladimir Meciar
on 30 May said the law suit brought against him the previous day by
Michal Kovac is another effort by the president to discredit the prime
minister and increase social and political tension in Slovakia, Slovak
media reported. The prime minister's spokeswoman Magda Pospisilova
issued a statement saying that if Meciar is acquitted of the charges
brought against him, then Kovac will be "morally and politically obliged
to resign." Laszlo Gyurovszky of the Hungarian Civic Party told CTK that
the president's lawsuit makes a "mockery" of Slovakia. He noted,
however, that Kovac has political justification for making the charges,
adding that "in normal states it is not common for the prime minister to
make groundless accusations against the head of state." -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK INVESTIGATOR CRITICIZES INDEPENDENT COMMISSION. Policeman Jozef
Ciz on 30 May rejected assertions made by opposition Christian
Democratic Movement deputy Ladislav Pittner's commission investigating
the kidnapping of Michal Kovac Jr., Slovak media reported. He called the
commission's attacks on Interior Ministry officials, the prosecutor-
general, and the Slovak Information Service "groundless" and criticized
the commission for publicizing the full names of alleged participants in
the kidnapping without offering proof. Ciz noted that SIS director Ivan
Lexa has yet to say whether the Mercedes van that was parked in front of
Kovac Jr.'s home before the abduction is used by the SIS. Police
Investigation Department Chief Jan Kostov noted that Czech and German
experts will assist in clearing up the case of former policeman Robert
Remias's death in a car explosion last month. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT SACKS PRIVATIZATION AGENCY'S HEAD. The government
on 30 May dismissed Attila Lascsik from his positions as CEO and board
member of the State Privatization and Holding Co. (APV Rt.), Hungarian
dailies reported. The cabinet spokesman said the personnel change will
speed up the privatization of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
However, analysts believe the sacking is connected to a controversial
privatization deal in April, when APV Rt.'s management sold a 51% stake
in a Szolnok-based oil drilling company, Koolajkutato Rt., to the
Russian-owned Arhangelsk Geologia firm (AGH) despite objections from
both Koolajkutato's management and the mayor of Szolnok. Privatization
Minister Tamas Suchman's investigation into the affair found numerous
irregularities during the invitation for tender. Also, the fact that AGH
happened to be set up after APV Rt. extended the deadline for bids
without any substantial reason raised many eyebrows. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY POSTPONES JET FIGHTER TENDER. The Hungarian government has
postponed until mid-1997 one of its most publicized tenders, a $1
billion deal to modernize its air force, international media and
Hungarian dailies reported on 31 May. The government spokesman said
Hungary will wait until NATO membership talks begin. Earlier, Hungary
announced its intention to upgrade its ailing jet fighters with some 30
NATO-compatible jets and tender was to be announced by the end of 1996.
Swedish-made Gripen, U.S.-made Lockheed F-16, McDonnell
Douglas/Northrop's F-18s, and French Mirage 2000-5s are contending. --
Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

OPPOSITION AND POLICE CLASH IN SOUTHERN ALBANIA. Many people were
injured during clashes between supporters of the opposition parties and
special police forces in Permet on 30 May, Gazeta Shqiptare reported.
Children and women are among the injured and four people were
hospitalized in critical condition. Two policemen were also hurt. The
clashes developed after thousands of people from the surrounding
villages came to the city to participate in a protest rally against the
ruling Democratic Party's alleged massive manipulation of the elections.
The Socialist Party, the Democratic Alliance, the Social Democrats, the
Agrarian Party, the Party of National Unity, and the Party of the
Democratic Right had earlier applied for permission to hold the
demonstration, but the Interior Ministry refused the authorization. --
Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST BEATING. After the severe beating of
Bardhok Lala, a Dita Informacion journalist, the Association of
Professional Journalists sent a letter of protest to President Sali
Berisha requesting a meeting. In previous days, dailies published
pictures of Lala, who was beaten all over his body and face on 28 May.
Koha Jone on 31 May published an interview with Lala in which he said
the kidnappers were members of the secret service (SHIK) who wanted him
to become a collaborator. He added that they held a gun to his head five
times threatening to shoot him. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana

RUN-OFF IN ALBANIAN ELECTIONS ON 2 JUNE. Koha Jone on 31 May published
the list of the 10 electoral districts in which a run-off between two
candidates will take place. Election results from the first round
indicate that the Democratic Party is likely to win all districts, which
would give them 104 out of 115 direct seats in the 140-member
parliament. Right-wing Balli Kombetar and the Republican Party members
will most likely vote for the Democrats' candidate. The Socialists
announced they will boycott the elections. None of the Democrats
received less than 41% of the vote in the first round. -- Fabian Schmidt
in Tirana

CROATIAN GOVERNING PARTY TO SUE WEEKLY PAPER. The Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) said it will sue the independent muckraking weekly
Globus over a story the paper ran alleging that the HDZ intends to
launch a smear campaign against 50 opposition politicians. The weekly
recently wrote that the HDZ is anxious over its prospects in upcoming
local elections because polls show it will lose control of some cities
and perhaps take only 20% of the total vote. Voters have grown impatient
with the HDZ over recurrent reports of corruption, authoritarianism, and
strong-arm tactics. There is also a feeling that Croatia has put the war
behind it and must now build a multi-party democracy, Reuters reported
on 28 May. Globus is one of the few independent papers with a nation-
wide circulation and made its name with wartime battlefield coverage,
investigative journalism, and a sensationalist approach aimed primarily
at young male readers. -- Patrick Moore

DUTCH TO QUERY FRENCH, UN OVER SREBRENICA ALLEGATIONS. The Dutch Foreign
Minister Hans van Mierlo said he intends to press Paris on recent
British TV reports that the French allowed Srebrenica to fall as part of
a deal with Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic last summer. "The French have
already denied it... but I will certainly approach the French government
for more information on the matter," Reuters quoted the minister as
saying on 30 May. Until now, blame has chiefly been placed on Dutch
peacekeepers, whose alleged cowardice was believed to have ultimately
led to Europe's worst atrocity since World War II. Mierlo's own D66
party called for an international investigation into the events leading
up to the fall of the "safe area," while the opposition Christian
Democrats said that the Netherlands was bypassed in the decision-making
process. -- Patrick Moore

MAYOR OF BANJA LUKA THWARTS ATTEMPT TO SACK HIM. Predrag Radic, who is
widely regarded as a moderate and a rival to the hard-line Bosnian Serb
leadership in Pale, has dodged an attempt by his own governing Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS) to remove him. Radic successfully argued that the
proposal before the city council was invalid because it was not included
on the legislative agenda, Nasa Borba reported on 31 May. The mayor has
frequently been at odds with the SDS, which took virtually all of the
Bosnian Serb vote in the 1990 elections. Banja Luka was known for some
of the most vicious ethnic cleansing during the war but has increasingly
presented itself as a rival to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and
his colleagues in Pale. Opposition parties are counting on a large share
of the vote in Banja Luka in the elections slated for this fall. --
Patrick Moore

MOSTAR ELECTIONS SCHEDULED FOR 30 JUNE. EU Administrator in Mostar
Ricardo Peres Casado announced that the city municipal elections will be
held on 30 June, Oslobodjenje reported on 31 May. Casado met with
Croatian and Muslim officials on 30 May to discuss the details of the
elections and to agree on a new date, AFP reported. Refugees from Mostar
who left the town involuntarily will be allowed to vote in four European
countries if they are unable to return to Mostar on the day of the vote.
But, on the insistence of the Croatian party, Mostar's Serbian citizens
will be able to vote only in Mostar. Serb representatives in Mostar
protested the decision and asked that Mostar Serbs be allowed also to
vote in the Republika Srpska and rump Yugoslavia. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SERB SOCIALISTS ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. On 31 May the Belgrade
weekly NIN features an extensive interview with Dragutin Ilic, head of
the Socialist Party of the Republika Srpska (SPRS), who appears to have
used the interview as a platform to launch the opening salvo of his
election campaign. Ilic suggested his party is independent, claiming no
direct ties with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party
of Serbia: "The SPS was created out of the former League of
Communists...but the SPRS was formed as a party... which has no
continuity with [any other]." Ilic also stressed his commitment to
Dayton saying, "We uphold the Dayton agreement to the fullest. That
means we will strengthen the statehood of the Serbian entity to its
fullest, and we will work with the other entity insofar as it is in our
interests." Meanwhile, AFP on 30 May quoted Zivko Radisic, SPRS vice-
president, as saying that Karadzic should be allowed to run in the
September elections, so that his defeat may be effected on the political
front. -- Stan Markotich

UN EXTENDS PEACEKEEPERS' MANDATE IN MACEDONIA. The UN Security Council
on 30 May extended UNPREDEP's mandate for six months till the end of
November, Reuters reported. Russia abstained from the vote saying the
mission is too large and expensive and should have been extended only
for four months. Macedonian Ambassador to the UN Denko Maleski said
UNPREDEP should not be restructured or terminated because threats to
Macedonia have not been overcome yet, pointing to Kosovo. UNPREDEP has
1,050 troops, 35 military observers, and 168 civilian police. Some 550
UNPREDEP members come from the U.S., followed by 362 from Finland. --
Stefan Krause

TAIWAN PROTESTS ARRESTS IN ROMANIAN STOWAWAY SCANDAL. Taiwan protested
the arrest in Canada of seven Taiwanese ship officers accused of forcing
three Romanian stowaways overboard on the high seas, Romanian and
Western media reported on 30 May. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
arrested the officers the previous day with warrants issued by Romania's
Prosecutor-General. Canada says the seven could be extradited to
Romania, where they face charges of first degree murder. However, the
Taiwanese government maintains that Canada has no jurisdiction in the
matter. Eight Filipino crew members deserted the ship in Halifax last
week and disclosed the incident that took place in March aboard the
Taiwanese container ship "Maersk Dubai." It has aroused a wave of
indignation in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu

DNIESTER LEFT-WINGERS CALL FOR SUPPORTING ZYUGANOV. The Tiraspol branch
of the radical left-wing Bloc of Patriotic Forces called Dniester
residents with Russian citizenship to vote for Communist leader Gennadii
Zyuganov in the Russian presidential elections, Infotag reported on 30
May. Albina Gogoleva, Chair of the Dniester Russian Community, said
Zyuganov "is the best candidate able to fulfill the aspirations of most
former Soviet Union residents to live together again," local media
reported. There are some 30,000 Russian citizens living in the breakaway
Dniester region. The Russian embassy in Chisinau said that on 16 June
eight polling stations will be opened in Moldova. -- Matyas Szabo

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES NEW PRICE HIKES... The Socialist
government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 30 May announced price
hikes and new tariffs, Bulgarian and Western media reported. The VAT was
raised from 18% to 22%, and gasoline prices rose by 75%. Excise duties
on tobacco and alcohol will also increase sharply, Videnov announced.
The government introduced a 5% tariff on imports in order to head off a
feared trade deficit. The tariff will be effective for one year starting
on 1 July and then be lowered by 1% each successive year. Videnov said
the price of electricity, transport, telecommunications, and
pharmaceutical products will go up soon too. The tax and price hikes
were agreed on with the IMF. The government hopes to raise an additional
140 billion leva ($950 million) this year by implementing a strict
austerity policy. -- Stefan Krause

....WHILE PROTESTS AGAINST AUSTERITY MEASURES START. Meanwhile, people
took to the streets of Sofia to protest the latest government-imposed
price hikes. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the
government building in central Sofia on 30 May, demanding the
government's resignation. The two big trade unions--the Confederation of
Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria and the Confederation of Labor
"Podkrepa"--organized the rally. Union leaders said the meeting is only
the start of nationwide protests. "Podkrepa" Deputy Chairman Dimitar
Manolov said government and trade unions "will meet at the barricades."
Several hundred taxi drivers staged a demonstration outside the
parliament building. Protests were also reported from other towns. The
Union of Democratic Forces announced that it will start proceedings for
a no-confidence vote. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Deborah Michaels

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