...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John F. Kennedy
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 149, Part II, 2 August 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

BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES SAY ASYLUM CLAIMS UNFOUNDED. The Belarusian
Foreign Ministry has denied claims by opposition leaders Zyanon
Paznyak and Syarhei Naumchyk that they face the threat of political
or physical prosecution in Belarus, Belarusian media reported. The
two applied for political asylum in the U.S. earlier this week on
the grounds that they feared for their safety if they returned to
Belarus. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko said that Belarus
protects civil rights and freedoms and that Paznyak and Naumchyk's
allegations should be treated with caution. He said the two had
applied for political asylum to undermine President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka and create problems between the U.S. and Belarus. --
Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM UPDATE. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
said Belarusian citizens will know the precise wording of his
proposed referendum questions by the fall, ITAR-TASS reported on 1
August. The referendum will deal with several issues, including
delineating the powers of the parliament and president and amending
the constitution so that the president can be removed from his post
only in the event of his changing citizenship. Lukashenka also said
there will probably be a question on changing the public holiday
marking the republic's declaration of independence from 27 July to
the day Belarus was liberated from the Germans during WW II. The
proposed referendum will cost about $2 million. In other news,
Minsk Prosecutor Mikalai Kupryysnau said he has not heard any
official reports on the reported exchange of seven Ukrainians
detained in Belarus for Russians border guards held by Chechens.
Such a swap, he said, would be "legal nonsense." -- Ustina Markus

IMF GRANTS FOURTH STAND-BY TRANCHE TO UKRAINE. The IMF has granted
the fourth tranche of a $867 million stand-by credit to Ukraine,
Reuters and AFP reported on 1 August. The tranche, worth $100
million, was granted after the IMF Board of Directors gave a
positive assessment of Ukraine's adherence to IMF guidelines on
budget deficit and money supply. The decision comes in the wake of
Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko's meetings with IMF officials during
his visit to the U.S. -- Ustina Markus

DEATH PENALTY IN UKRAINE TO BE PHASED OUT? Vitalii Boyko, chief
justice of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, has said his court plans to
propose amendments to Ukraine's Criminal Code to reduce the number
of crimes carrying the death sentence, UNIAR reported on 1 August.
He said this move is a step toward phasing out capital punishment.
Some 22 categories of crime now carry the death penalty, including
treason, premeditated murder, attempted assassination of public and
foreign officials. Seventeen of those categories, however, apply
only to military servicemen under martial law or in combat. The
chief justice emphasized that there was no moratorium on capital
punishment in the country, as has been reported by the media. He
noted that both he and the court favor abolishing the death
penalty, but he added that the public needed convincing, mainly
through combating crime. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINE EXPECTS POOR GRAIN HARVEST. Ukrainian officials have
predicted that owing to lengthy dry spells and the poor financial
state of the agricultural sector, this year's grain harvest will
fall to 27.5 million tons, Kievskie vedomosti reported on 1 August.
This would amount to 2 million tons below last year's harvest and
would be on par with 1958-59 levels. Meat and dairy production so
far this year have fallen by 12% and 5%, respectively. Meanwhile,
the Statistics Ministry reported that the number of private farms
in the country has risen by 488 to 35,300 but that farming in
Ukraine is still mainly owned by the state or heavily-subsidized
collectives. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

RUSSIA TO PROTECT INTERESTS OF ACTIVIST EXPELLED FROM ESTONIA.
Renowned Russian lawyer Boris Kuznetsov will soon travel to Tallinn
to prepare the case of Russian ultranationalist Petr Rozhok who was
expelled from Estonia in the spring of 1995, BNS reported on 1
August, The Citizenship and Migration Department expelled Rozhok,
former representative in Estonia of ultranationalist Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, for anti-constitutional and
subversive activities against the state. A Tallinn administrative
court in February ruled that his expulsion was legal. Kuznetsov
will represent Rozhok in a lawsuit in the Tallinn regional court in
September. Aleksandr Udaltsov, Russian Foreign Ministry official in
charge of relations with Baltic States, said the ministry will
defend the interests of Rozhok as a Russian citizen and that it
helped obtain Kuznetsov's assistance. Kuznetsov noted that Security
Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed has promised his assistance and
has said that defending the interests of Russian citizens abroad
was an important aspect of bolstering the country's security, ITAR-
TASS reported on 31 July. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW HEAD OF LATVIAN BORDER TALKS DELEGATION. Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Maris Riekstins will replace Foreign Ministry State
Minister Juris Sinka as head of the Latvian delegation for sea
border talks with Lithuania, BNS reported on 1 August. Riekstins
recently negotiated the settlement of the sea border between
Estonia and Latvia. Sinka noted that Latvia was more interested
than Lithuania in reaching an agreement because two foreign oil
companies that signed oil exploration contracts with Latvia in 1995
can terminate contracts if no border agreement is reached by 31
October. The next round of border talks is scheduled for 20 August.
-- Saulius Girnius

PROPOSAL TO STRENGTHEN LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTIAL POWERS. The ruling
Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) on 1 August proposed that a
referendum on increasing the powers of the president be held at the
same time as the October parliamentary elections, Radio Lithuania
reported. The proposal would allow the president to call early
parliament elections if the Seimas failed to approve the government
program within 30 days of its submission or rejects the candidates
for prime minister proposed by the president three consecutive
times. The president would also be given the right to appoint and
remove the foreign, interior, and defense ministers and would have
more power over the courts. -- Saulius Girnius

CHECHNYA ROUNDTABLE IN POLISH CAPITAL. The Chechnya Round Table--
organized by the Chechen Information Center in Cracow--convened in
Warsaw on 1 August, Polish and international media reported.
Representatives of the Chechen independence movement as well
politicians and human rights activists from Poland, Russia,
Lithuania, and Great Britain were present. The round table's goal
is to increased international awareness of the conflict, draft
memorandums to the UN, and the Council of Europe, and make
preparations for a conference in London later this year on settling
the conflict. Former Polish President Lech Walesa has sent a letter
to Nobel Prize winners asking them to help end the war in Chechnya.
-- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK COALITION PARTY CONSIDERS WITHDRAWAL FROM TREATY WITH
HUNGARY. Slovak National Party (SNS) spokesman Rafael Rafaj on 1
August told TASR that "a proposal for withdrawing from the basic
Slovak-Hungarian treaty is currently being examined by our
experts." The SNS said Hungary violated the treaty when it called
for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries
at last month's ethnic Hungarian summit in Budapest. Slovakia has
already summoned the Hungarian ambassador to Slovakia and delivered
an "aide-memoire" to foreign diplomats to inform them of Slovakia's
dissatisfaction with the summit's conclusions. "If [the treaty] has
been violated, there is no sense in extending it further," SNS
Deputy Chairman Jozef Sedovic told Nove Slovo. The word "autonomy"
was not defined in the summit's declaration, but the Hungarian
government said later that it was referring neither to territorial
nor ethnic autonomy. -- Sharon Fisher

PRIVATIZATION IN SLOVAKIA. The National Property Fund (FNM) on 1
August privatized 40 firms through direct sales, Narodna obroda
reported. Several key firms were sold, including the construction
company Hydrostav Bratislava and the printing firm Danubiaprint
Bratislava. The FNM approved the sales, despite an agreement
between Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and the opposition Party of
the Democratic Left, guaranteeing that privatization would be
halted until the composition of the FNM boards is changed to
include opposition representatives (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July
1996). FNM Presidium President Stefan Gavornik said several
ministers pressured him to continue privatizing. Meanwhile, a
spokesman for Meciar's party told Reuters on 1 August that talks
will soon begin with the opposition aimed at bringing "more
consensus" in the parliament. -- Sharon Fisher

KEY WITNESS IN SLOVAK KIDNAPPING CASE TO GAIN ASYLUM. A former
Slovak Information Service (SIS) agent who said he participated in
the abduction of the Slovak president's son told the RFE/RL Slovak
Service on 31 July that he will soon gain asylum in an unnamed
foreign country. Oskar Fegyveres, who for months has been in hiding
and fearing for his life, said "in a few days I will be safe." He
noted that he is willing to be questioned further but only after
"democracy wins in Slovakia and people like [Prime Minister]
Vladimir Meciar and [SIS] chief Ivan Lexa are toppled and punished
for their actions." Fegyveres also blamed the SIS for the death in
a car explosion of his friend Robert Remias. Two people who have
taken over Remias's role as Fegyveres's link with Slovakia are
being followed by the same SIS agents who shadowed Remias,
Fegyveres claimed. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN TELEVISION HEAD NOMINATED. The Presidium of the Board of
Trustees of Hungarian Television (MTV) has nominated Istvan Petak,
editor in chief for regional programs, as president of MTV,
Hungarian media reported on 1 August. The vote was the third
attempt in two months to appoint a TV head. Petak's nomination has
still to be approved by the full Board of Trustees. The MTV
corporation is to run Hungary's two state-owned TV channels. Petak
said he is neither an opposition nor a pro-government candidate,
but rather is neutral. Earlier this year, Istvan Hajdu was elected
president of Hungarian Radio. The media law, passed last December,
required the election of media heads by August. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KORNBLUM DECLARES ABOLITION OF HERCEG-BOSNA. U.S. envoy for Bosnia-
Herzegovina John Kornblum on 31 July announced that Bosnian Muslim
and Croat officials have agreed to end the existence of Herceg-
Bosna, Onasa reported on 1 August. Following talks with Croats in
Mostar, Kornblum said the Croatian side expressed willingness to
stop obstructing reunification of the town. Meanwhile, Bozo Raic,
president of the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), on 1
August appealed to Alija Izetbegovic, head of the Muslim ruling
Party of Democratic Action (SDA), to organize a brainstorming
session to discuss ways to improve the running of the Bosnian
Federation. -- Daria Sito Sucic

REBEL CROATIAN SERBS THREATEN TERRORIST CAMPAIGNS. Rebel Croatian
Serbs have pledged to conduct a campaign of terror against Croatia
in response to Croatian authorities' reclaiming the so-called
Krajina region following the August 1995 military campaign. The
self-proclaimed Krajina Liberation Army--in a fax published by the
Belgrade daily Dnevni telegraf on 1 August and also sent to former
Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic and Croatian refugee groups
throughout the former Yugoslavia--says that Croatia's victory will
be celebrated "henceforth in [Croatian] blood wherever [Croats]
gather." It also aims to wage a terror campaign against "Serbian
traitors." The group has taken responsibility for the bombing on 26
July of Croatia's largest agricultural and military equipment
production plant. The explosion caused extensive damage to the
facility. -- Stan Markotich

UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN MANDATE IN CROATIA. The UN Security
Council on 30 July extended the mandate of 100 UN military monitors
(UNTAES) in eastern Slavonia,--the last Serb-held part of Croatia--
for another six months, Hina reported. UN Secretary-General Boutros
Boutros Ghali, in a report to the Security Council on the
implementation of the UNTAES mandate, underscored the necessity for
military monitors to remain in the area in order to strengthen that
mandate following the demilitarization of eastern Slavonia,
Baranja, and Western Srijem. -- Daria Sito Sucic

208 SUICIDES IN SARAJEVO SINCE OUTBREAK OF WAR. The Sarajevo police
force says it registered 208 cases of suicide in Sarajevo between
April 1992 and June 1996, Onasa reported on 1 August. Of those, 86
cases were reported in the Bosnian Federation during the past six
months. Ninety-seven of those who committed suicide were over 50
and nine under 18. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BELGRADE HINDERS REGISTRATION OF REFUGEE VOTERS. The Helsinki
Committee on Human Rights has said that three refugees from
Sarajevo have alleged that Belgrade authorities barred them from
registering for the 14 September Bosnian elections, Onasa reported
on 31 July. Beta says that the three refugees were prevented from
registering to vote in the towns from where they came. There are a
growing number of reports that Belgrade officials are increasingly
reluctant to provide registration forms to refugees whose home in
Bosnia is now under Bosnian government or Federation control.
Instead, those officials are pressuring refugees to accept voter
registration in the Bosnian Serb-controlled Republika Srpska.
Meanwhile, Onasa reported that rump Yugoslav authorities have
officially extended the period in which refugees can register to
vote until 4 August. -- Stan Markotich

MONTENEGRIN ELECTION UPDATE. Following the expiry of the 30 July
deadline, a total of 33 political parties and formations had
registered to run in Montenegro's republican elections, scheduled
for the fall, Montena-fax reported. Voters will elect 71
parliamentary deputies in 14 districts through a proportional
representation system. Before recent controversial changes to the
election law, Montenegro had only a single constituency and a
legislature composed of 85 deputies. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN REFINERY WORKERS STAGE WARNING STRIKE. Some 40,000 workers
from state-run oil refineries on 1 August staged a two-hour warning
strike to demand job security and higher pay, Radio Bucharest
reported. The workers, whose average monthly wage, amounts to
380,000 lei ($120) are pressing for a 25% increase. Many fear they
will lose their jobs, since the refineries are currently operating
at only 30% of their capacity. The oil-processing industry has
registered a deficit of 700 billion lei (some $225 million) so far
this year. The strikers have accused the government of keeping the
prices of oil products low, despite increasing costs of imported
oil. They have also threatened to launch a general strike on 7
August if heir demands are not met. The government has responded to
their protest by announcing that a National Oil Company will be set
up to supervise the sector. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. The National Liberal Party led by Radu
Campeanu and "The Ecologists" party on 1 August signed a protocol
establishing a National Liberal-Ecologist Alliance, Radio Bucharest
reported. The alliance will nominate a candidate for the November
presidential election on 7 August. The recently created National
Liberal Alliance has said it will nominate its presidential
candidate on 11 August. Observers of the Romanian political arena
believe that the alliance's candidate will be Nicolae Manolescu,
chairman of the Civic Alliance Party. In a separate development,
the National Liberal Party led by Mircea Ionescu-Quintus has
announced it will set up a commission to negotiate its merger with
the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VETOES MEDIA LAW. Zhelyu Zhelev on 1 August
returned the recently adopted media law to the parliament for
further debate, 24 chasa reported. Zhelev said he objects to the
Radio and TV Law in general as well as certain provisions. One of
the most disputed provisions is the creation of a National Radio
and TV Council to oversee media operations and elect the director-
generals of state radio and TV. That body will also be empowered to
cancel programs and suspend licenses. Seven members will be
appointed by the parliament and two each by the president and the
government. Zhelev also said the composition of the council
endangers objective coverage of state institutions by both private
and state-run media, noting that under the constitution they should
be free and autonomous institutions. If Zhelev's objections are
overruled, he can ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the law.
-- Stefan Krause

BULGARIA TIGHTENS FOREIGN CURRENCY REGIME. A decree dated 31 July,
published in a special issue of Darzhaven vestnik, tightens the
country's foreign exchange regime, Pari reported on 2 August. The
move contradicts a 16 July Supreme Court ruling liberalizing that
regime by allowing domestic trade in foreign currency. The decree
lists 14 instances in which such currency may be exported via the
banking system, including to import goods and to repay debts.
Exporting foreign currency for investments abroad must be approved
by the national bank and Finance Ministry. Meanwhile, in a poll
published in Pari on 2 August, 76.5% of the respondents said the
situation in Bulgaria will worsen, while only 3.7% said it will
improve. -- Michael Wyzan and Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN INDEPENDENT DAILY GRANTED LOAN. The Media Development Loan
Fund has granted Koha Jone a $135,000 loan to help it avoid
insolvency, international agencies reported on 1 August. The credit
comes with annual interest rate of 2% and is due for repayment in
April 1997. High printing expenses and debts forced Koha Jone to
close down for some days in July. As part of the agreement, the
owners of Koha Jone pledged to restructure the daily to boost its
efficiency. Other Albanian newspapers strongly criticized the loan,
saying it damages free competition. In protest, they printed a
blank page on 26 July. -- Stefan Krause


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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