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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 147, Part II, 31 July 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

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

TOP BELARUSIAN OFFICIALS RESIGN... Deputy Prime Ministers Leanid
Sinitsyn, Vasil Dolhalyau, and Syarhei Ling as well as Economics
Minister Hryhorii Badzei have handed in their resignations,
international agencies reported on 30 July. The move came after
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, speaking at National Security
Council meeting, blamed them for the state of the country's
economy. Lukashenka accepted the resignations of Sinitsyn and
Badzei, but it is unclear whether the others were also accepted.
Sinitsyn, who led the president's election campaign, had been a
member of Lukashenka's team from the outset. He was appointed head
of the president's administration after Lukashenka's election but
was demoted to deputy prime minister last year, indicating that he
was falling out of the president's favor. Parliamentary deputy
speaker Henadz Karpenka said the resignations had nothing to do
with the parliament. He added that the economic crisis was reaching
chronic proportions and that the ministers wanted to distance
themselves from the regime's policies. -- Ustina Markus

...WHILE BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS APPLY FOR ASYLUM IN U.S.
Leader of the Belarusian Popular Front Zyanon Paznyak and BPF
spokesman Syarhei Naumchyk have applied for asylum in the U.S.,
international agencies reported on 30 July. Paznyak and Naumchyk
left Belarus in March after President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued
a warrant for their arrest on charges of organizing demonstrations
against both his regime and integration with Russia. The two men
said they fear for their lives if they have to return to Belarus
because Lukashenka has ordered their "neutralization." They also
asked the U.S. not to grant Belarus the $13 million economic aid
package for 1997. -- Ustina Markus


RENTS, UTILITIES GO UP IN UKRAINE, BUT SO DO WAGES, PENSIONS. The
Ukrainian government has increased rents and utilities and consumer
energy prices but at the same time raised public sector wages and
pensions, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported. The increases go
into effect on 1 August and are part of the government's effort to
reduce subsidies and force consumers to pay 80% of the real costs
of services. Rents are to be raised by 20-80%, depending on the
size of the flat, while water and heating will go up by some 140-
150%. Energy prices will jump by 130%. At the same time, public
sector wages will increase by nearly 11% and pensions by 10%. Alex
Sundakov, the IMF's Kyiv-based representative, said the planned
increases will allow Ukraine to meet its budget deficit target this
year. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Statistics Ministry reported that
GDP fell by 8.7% during the first half of the year, compared with a
3.1% decrease over the same period last year. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS CRITICIZE NEW CONSTITUTION. The Union of
Communists of Ukraine has issued a statement condemning the
country's new constitution, UNIAN reported on 29 July. The union
noted that the new basic law "legalizes social injustice and the
robbery of the working people" by bourgeois mafiosi. It also
claimed that the Socialist Party and Communist Party deputies who
voted in favor of the constitution's adoption betrayed the working
people's interests. Meanwhile, Volodymyr Stretovych, chairman of
the parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy and Judicial Reform,
said that more than 90 lawmakers refused to swear an oath of
allegiance to the new constitution during a ceremony on 12 July.
However, he said the names of the legislators would remain secret,
adding that their refusal to take the oath carried no penalty
because they had been elected before the basic law was adopted.
Under the new constitution, newly elected deputies are required to
take the oath; if they refuse do so, they can lose their seats. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE SAYS ITS POSITION ON BLACK SEA FLEET TO BE BASED ON
CONSTITUTION. Head of Ukraine's Foreign Ministry information
department Yurii Serheyev said Ukraine's position during
negotiations over the Black Sea Fleet will be based on the
country's new constitution, Ukrainian radio reported on 30 July. He
emphasized that Sevastopol cannot be the base of the Russian part
of the Black Sea Fleet, adding that only some bays can be allocated
for the use of the Russian part of the fleet. -- Ustina Markus

LITHUANIA, RUSSIA CONTINUE BORDER TALKS. Russian-Lithuanian border
talks resumed in Vilnius on 30 July following a three-month pause
due to the Russian presidential elections, BNS reported. Lithuanian
Foreign Ministry Secretary Rimantas Sidlauskas said he would like
the border to be settled before the end of the year. He added that
he hoped the Russian delegation head, former ambassador to Vienna
Valerii Popov, would make new proposals to eliminate "the hitches"
in determining about a tenth of the Lithuanian border. Outstanding
issues include Lithuania's proposal to share fishing rights in Lake
Vistytis and the exact border along the Nemunas River. Determining
the Lithuanian-Russian sea border is likely to prove a more
complicated task. -- Saulius Girnius

POLES APPEAL FOR PEACE IN CHECHNYA. Prominent public figures in
Poland have signed an appeal addressed to the Council of Europe and
world public opinion for the Chechen people to have the right to
self-determination, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 31 July. Among the
signatories are former foreign affairs ministers Wladyslaw
Bartoszewski and Andrzej Olechowski, former Prime Minister Hanna
Suchocka, Mayor of Warsaw Marcin Swiecicki, and Mayor of Cracow
Jozef Lassota. The appeal holds the Russian government responsible
for brutal assaults on civilians and for the escalation of the war
in Chechnya. -- Jakub Karpinski

BALTIC CABLE TO LINK POLAND, SWEDEN? Construction of an underwater
cable linking the Polish and Swedish electricity systems is to
begin in the spring, Zycie Warszawy reported on 31 July. The cable,
which is to stretch 200 kilometers along the Baltic sea bed to link
the Swedish town Karlsham with Koszalin in Poland, is due to become
operational in 1997. The cable's owners--Poland's PSE electricity
distribution company and two Swedish utilities--will be able to
send 600-800 megawatts of electricity in either direction. Polish
officials say this arrangement will reduce electricity prices in
the energy-poor northwestern regions of Poland, while
simultaneously helping to reduce the acid rain linked to emissions
from Poland's coal-fired power plants. But Swedish environmental
groups are opposed to the cable, which, they say, will increase
pollution and electromagnetic disturbances in the Baltic Sea. --
Ben Slay

CONTINUED CULTURAL CONTROVERSY IN SLOVAKIA. Culture Ministry
official Marian Kovacik announced on 30 July that two theaters in
Banska Bystrica and one in neighboring Zvolen will be merged to
form a single Central Slovak Theater, which will open on 1
September, Slovenska Republika reported. This follows a similar
move in eastern Slovakia and recent personnel changes at the Slovak
National Theater, which are rumored to be connected with aims to
merge it with Bratislava's Nova scena theater. Culture Minister
Ivan Hudec told TASR on 30 July that the current situation of
theaters in Slovakia, where almost 25 are financed from the state
budget, is unparalleled in developed democracies. Christian
Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky told Sme that Hudec
"had not forgotten anything from the 'normalization' policies of
the 1970s and had not learned anything about tolerance." -- Sharon
Fisher

SLOVAK CITIZEN KIDNAPPED IN CHECHNYA. Stefan Hajdin, a construction
site manager, was abducted in Grozny on 29 July by a group of
unidentified people dressed in police uniforms, international media
reported. An employee of the Czech firm Stavoinform, Hajdin was
working on the reconstruction of damaged buildings. Thus far, no
one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but the Slovak
and Czech embassies in Moscow are working on the case. A number of
specialists on reconstruction projects in Grozny have been
kidnapped by Chechen separatists, but Hajdin is the first non-
Russian victim. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN ECONOMY STAGNATES IN FIRST HALF OF 1996. Preliminary
figures released by the Central Statistics Office (KSH) show that
zero -- or even negative --GDP growth was attained in the first
half of 1996, Hungarian dailies reported on 31 July. This follows a
1% year-on-year decline in GDP in the first quarter. Commenting on
this year's trends, economist Laszlo Csaba told Vilaggazdasag that
"the moment of truth has arrived: the government has been unable to
realize its hopes of attaining an improvement in the current
account deficit and a GDP growth at the same time." The KSH's
January-May report also shows a continued fall in domestic demand
owing to the austerity measures introduced in May 1995. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

NEW MEDIA COUNCIL SET UP IN HUNGARY. The eight-member National
Communications and Information Council (NHIT) has begun operating,
Hungarian media reported on 31 July. The NHIT replaces the National
Frequency Council and is the last of the new organizations set up
in accordance with the media law, passed last December. The body is
charged with advising the government on a wide range of mass media
issues, including preparations for bringing the country's mass
media in line with EU norms. It will also help organize
international tenders and liberalize media regulations. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

REFUGEE CAMP FOR BOSNIAN MUSLIMS TO BE CLOSED IN CROATIA. The
Croatian government has set 31 July as the deadline for 2,000
Bosnian Muslim refugees to leave the Kuplensko camp, Onasa
reported. They have been given the choice to move to other refugee
camps in Croatia, to go to a third country, or to return to Bosnia.
The refugees are the last of the 20,000 followers of the Muslim
kingpin Fikret Abdic who fled to Croatia last year when Bosnian
army forces pushed them out of Velika Kladusa, their stronghold in
northwestern Bosnia. Most of the refugees have already returned to
their homes in Bosnia, but those who remain in Croatia fear
political persecution if they return. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko
supported this fear, saying that the bridge blast on 29 July near
Velika Kladusa may have been "an attempt to prevent refugees from
the camp returning [to Bosnia]," AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN OPPOSITION ACCUSES RULING PARTY OF UNFAIR PLAY. Bosnian
opposition parties have accused the ruling Muslim Party of
Democratic Action (SDA) of replacing the managers of state-run
companies in Tuzla with party candidates, AFP reported on 29 July.
In the first prewar elections, Tuzla was the only town in Bosnia-
Herzegovina where national parties did not win a mandate. It
remains the only town where the SDA is not the dominant party.
Opposition spokesman Jasmin Imamovic said the state has the right
to administer the companies but only in accordance with federal
law. -- Daria Sito Sucic
UPDATE ON FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT IN BOSNIA. A Serbian mob armed with
iron bars, sticks, and stones have attacked a UN bus carrying
passengers from the Bosnian Federation, AFP reported on 30 July.
UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said the attack, which took place in
the Serbian stronghold of Banja Luka, was "clearly orchestrated" by
the Bosnian Serb authorities. He added that the UN was holding
Serbian Premier Gojko Klickovic "personally responsible" for the
safety of passengers and drivers in the Republika Srpska. In other
news, the first train since the beginning of war in April 1992 set
out on 30 July from Sarajevo via Mostar to the port of Ploce, on
the Adriatic coast, Oslobodjenje reported. Bosnian President Alija
Izetbegovic said the renewed rail link to the sea marked "the
second lifting of the Sarajevo siege," identifying a tunnel dug
three years ago under the city's airport as the first one. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

CROATIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR ELECTIONS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. Zlatko
Matesa on 30 July said he will send a letter to Jacques Klein, head
of the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES),
demanding that local elections be held in the last Serb-held
enclave of eastern Slavonia, Croatian radio reported on 30 July.
The elections are the last condition to be met before Zagreb can
take over jurisdiction and the UN depart from the enclave. Reuters
quoted Matesa as saying there is "not a single important reason not
to hold the elections in December." Meanwhile, Foreign Minister
Mate Granic, during his visit to Rome on 29-30 July, met with his
Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini to discuss taxation policies,
tourism, and minority rights. Dini said the meeting was
constructive and that Italy will support Croatian efforts to become
a member of the Council of Europe. -- Stan Markotich

CENTRIST UNION FOUNDED IN ROMANIA. The Democratic Agrarian Party,
the Ecological Movement, and the Humanist Party on 30 July signed a
protocol founding a National Centrist Union (UNC), Radio Bucharest
reported. The document stresses that the parties' complementary
platforms facilitate the setting up of the new alliance, whose
goals and structure will be determined following further
negotiations. The union plans to nominate a joint candidate for
this autumn's presidential elections and will welcome the
membership of groups with similar political leanings. -- Dan
Ionescu

TOP ROMANIAN DIPLOMATS SUMMONED TO BUCHAREST. Heads of Romania's
diplomatic missions, consular offices, and cultural centers
attended a conference in Bucharest on 29-30 July to discuss the
country's policy for joining European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
Radio Bucharest reported. Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, who
presided over the meeting, described integration with the West as
Romania's "strategic" foreign policy goal, noting that the present
period was "crucial" for achieving that goal. President Ion Iliescu
also addressed the participants, saying that Romania's image abroad
has improved over the last year but should be further
"consolidated" by stressing both the country's internal stability
and its contribution to regional stability. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA ANNOUNCES ANTI-CRIME MEASURES. The Interior Ministry on 30
July announced a package of measures to fight crime and terrorism,
Reuters and Bulgarian newspapers reported. Security is to be
stepped up at airports, ports, railroad and bus stations, border
crossings, important public buildings, and key strategic
installations. The ministry will also tighten control over the
production, transport, storage, and sales of arms, ammunition,
explosives, and poisonous substances. It noted that there were 173
bombings in Bulgaria last year and 92 in the first half of 1996,
adding that foreign criminal organizations might use Bulgaria as a
transit route for illegal arms trade. Opposition deputies said they
support the package, adding that they conform with existing
legislation. -- Stefan Krause

BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY IN BULGARIA. Michael Portillo, arriving
in Sofia on 30 July for a two-day visit, met with his Bulgarian
counterpart, Dimitar Pavlov, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and
Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, Bulgarian and Western media
reported. After those talks, Portillo commented that Bulgaria's
"special relationship" with Russia could contribute to European
security and build a bridge between the West and Moscow. He told
Trud that it is entirely in Bulgaria's hands whether it wants to
join NATO. Bulgarian politicians are divided over this issue. --
Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR PARTICIPATING IN LOCAL
ELECTIONS. Nine opposition parties on 30 July said they will
participate in the October local elections only if the ballot is
free and fair, international media reported. In a joint statement,
the groups called for an improved local election law, international
monitoring, equal TV air time, and a review of the genocide law,
which bans many opposition from political office until 2002. The
groups also demanded that the ruling Democratic Party immediately
start a dialogue with the opposition to discuss early parliamentary
elections. Other demands included an independent judiciary, free
electronic media, civilian control over the police and secret
service, a neutral presidency, and independent local government.
Finally, the opposition groups proposed that a constituent assembly
be elected to draft a new constitution. A basic law drafted by the
Democrats was rejected in a 1994 referendum. -- Stefan Krause

FOUR ALBANIANS ON TRIAL FOR REVIVING COMMUNIST PARTY. Four
Albanians have gone on trial on charges of founding a communist
party and conspiring to overthrow the government, Reuters reported
on 30 July. Three of the accused said they had attempted to create
a communist party but denied they had supported violence or anti-
constitutional measures. The fourth refused to comment. All four
face up to five years in prison if convicted. The prosecution
claims that they tried to establish contact with communist parties
and associations abroad, including the Cuban government, while the
secret police says it possesses incriminating faxes sent by the
four to the Cuban embassy in Rome. The Albanian parliament declared
all communist organizations illegal in July 1992. -- Stefan Krause


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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