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OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 167, Part II, 28 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

***********************************************************************
Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the
Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E.
Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and
comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of
the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available
to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and
handling). To order, please email your request to: annual@omri.cz
***********************************************************************

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ORDERS MONTH-LONG PRICE FREEZE TO ACCOMPANY
INTRODUCTION OF HRYVNA . . . The government has issued a resolution
ordering a nationwide freeze of prices on goods and services for one
month beginning with the 2 September introduction of the hryvna,
Ukrainian agencies reported on 27 August. The move was in response to
the collapse of the street value of the karbovanets, which has been
trading at more than 200,000 to $1 since the announcement of the
hryvna's introduction. National Bank of Ukraine Governor Viktor
Yushchenko said he feared "illegal" currency speculation and that the
374 trillion karbovantsi ($2.1 billion) circulating outside the
country's banking system could fuel prices upward by 200-250%. He said
he expects prices to jump by 8-10% once prices are unfrozen. Yushchenko
said the panic selling of karbovantsi this week was unfounded. He added
that his bank will annul the currency trading licenses of any exchange
points that sell dollars at a rate exceeding 193,600 karbovantsi to $1
and that the government will fine any businesses that refuse to take
karbovantsi up to the last day of the exchange period. Meanwhile, the
karbovanets was trading against the dollar on the Interbank Currency
Exchange at the same level as two weeks ago, at 176,100 to 1. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

. . . WHILE PREMIER OFFERS REASSURANCES ON MONETARY REFORM. In a
national radio address, Pavlo Lazarenko tried to reassure Ukrainians
that there is no reason for panic over the introduction of the new
currency, Radio Ukraine reported on 27 August. Lazarenko reiterated that
the reform will be fully transparent and that there will be neither
restrictions nor confiscation. He blamed commercial banks and businesses
for stirring up panic-buying of dollars in order to make a profit,
warning that people who have bought dollars may find out later that they
were cheated. He said the government's monetary reform commission has
made provisions to extend the period in which karbovantsi can be
exchanged for hryvni for people who are abroad or for other extenuating
circumstances. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

ELECTORAL COLLEGE WILL HAVE TO CHOOSE ESTONIAN PRESIDENT. Estonian
parliamentary deputies on 27 August went twice to the ballot box to
elect a president but, as on previous day, neither candidate received
the necessary two-thirds vote, Western agencies reported. Incumbent
President Lennart Meri and parliamentary deputy chairman Arnold Ruutel
are both running for election. An electoral college, consisting of the
101 parliamentary deputies and 273 representatives of local government,
will be convened in September to elect the president. Ruutel and Meri
will be automatically listed as candidates, but new ones can also be
nominated. In the second ballot, the college will vote on the two top
candidates. The one receiving a majority vote (50% of those present plus
one) will be the winner. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES TIMING OF OCCUPATION DECLARATION.
Valdis Birkavs on 27 August commented that the Saeima chose an
inappropriate time to pass the declaration on the USSR's and Germany's
occupation of Latvia, BNS reported. Although the Russian Foreign
Ministry has condemned the declaration as a provocation, it is not yet
clear whether Prime Minister Andris Skele's planned visit to Moscow on
13 September will be canceled. During that visit, agreements on air
transportation and avoidance of double taxation are scheduled to be
signed. Birkavs noted that the declaration does not reflect the position
of the Latvian government. Saeima Chairwoman Ilga Kreituse told visiting
U.S. Senator Richard Lugar that the declaration was not intended to
worsen relations with Russia. She added that she hoped recognition of
the occupation "will be perceived as a historical matter." -- Saulius
Girnius

LITTLE PROGRESS IN LITHUANIAN, LATVIAN SEA BORDER TALKS. Lithuanian and
Latvian Foreign Ministry Secretaries Rimantas Sidlauskas and Maris
Riekstins made little progress in resolving the sea border issue during
talks in Vilnius on 27 August, Radio Lithuania reported. The talks had
been scheduled for July but had to be postponed when Prime Minister
Andris Skele eliminated the position of foreign ministry state minister,
which Juris Sinka, head of the Latvian delegation, had occupied.
Riekstins successfully completed border talks with Estonia in June.
Tensions between the two countries are now high because the Saeima is
planning to ratify oil exploration agreements, signed in October 1995
with U.S. and Swedish oil firms, in an area that Lithuania also claims.
-- Saulius Girnius

U.S. SPY CAN RETURN TO POLAND. Military prosecutors on 27 August
canceled the arrest warrant for Col. Ryszard Kuklinski, who was smuggled
to the United States in 1981 after spying for U.S. security services
from 1970-81, international agencies reported. The arrest warrant was
issued in 1984 when Kuklinski, a former Polish army officer, was
sentenced to death by a military court for treason and desertion. The
sentence was commuted to a 25-year prison sentence in 1990. Kuklinski
lives now undercover in the United States. The spokesman for the Warsaw
military prosecutor's office said that, in July, a letter was sent to
Kuklinski's U.S. contact address asking if he wanted to testify. No
answer has been received. Kuklinski was smuggled out of Poland, with his
wife and two sons in November 1981, a few weeks before martial law was
imposed. Many Poles regard him as a hero; others, including former
President Lech Walesa, accuse him of disloyalty. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH GOVERNMENT DISCUSSES BUDGET. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told
journalists on 27 August that the government has agreed that the state
budget for 1997 will total 549 billion crowns ($20.3 billion). Klaus
admitted he was surprised how little discussion was necessary to reach
agreement on the issue. He said expenditures to promote exports are
expected to increase by 60%, while those for transportation and housing
will rise by 57% and 42%, respectively. Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik
noted that tax changes may be necessary but gave no further details. The
government is to discuss taxes and other state income next week. -- Jiri
Pehe

CABINET RESHUFFLE IN SLOVAKIA. President Michal Kovac on 27 August swore
in three new ministers, Slovak media reported. Karol Cesnek, director of
the electricity firm Slovenske elektrarne, replaced Economy Minister Jan
Ducky. Slovak ambassador to Germany Pavol Hamzik took over the Foreign
Ministry portfolio from Juraj Schenk. Gustav Krajci, a secretary of the
ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), replaced Interior
Minister Ludovit Hudek. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said Schenk
resigned for health reasons, Ducky left "by mutual agreement," and Hudek
was sacked because of problems in the police force. Krajci noted that
significant reforms will take place in the security and police sector.
He also stressed the need to quickly resolve Michal Kovac Jr.'s
kidnapping case and the Technopol fraud, which are "traumatizing Slovak
society." Although Meciar did not rule out further cabinet changes, he
said that secret service chief Ivan Lexa will not be dismissed. --
Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Ladislav Pittner, a former interior minister currently
serving as a deputy of the opposition Christian Democratic Movement,
told Radio Twist on 27 August that a summons for him to appear before
the parliamentary Mandate and Immunity Committee in September is a
"threat to democracy." At the request of a Bratislava investigator, the
committee is to consider removing Pittner's parliamentary immunity.
Pittner said no reasons were given for the move but added that it is
connected with his activities as chairman of an independent civic
commission established to investigate the Kovac Jr. kidnapping case. In
other news, the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions on 27 August
accepted the resignation of Praca Editor in Chief Eduard Fasung, Narodna
obroda reported. Fasung--who is to be replaced by his deputy, Ivan
Melichercik--is expected to become the new editor in chief of the pro-
government daily Slovenska Republika. -- Sharon Fisher

OSCE INVITES HUNGARY, ROMANIA TO SIGN BASIC TREATY IN VIENNA. According
to an OSCE press release, Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti, who is
currently OSCE chairman-in-office, has invited Budapest and Bucharest to
sign the basic Hungarian-Romanian treaty in Vienna--the seat of the
Permanent Council of the OSCE. Cotti welcomed the completion of the
draft treaty, which, he said, was an essential element of stability in
the region. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION TO COME UNDER INDUSTRY MINISTRY'S JURIS-DICTION.
Prime Minister Gyula Horn's nomination of Tamas Suchman, minister
without portfolio in charge of privatization, as new industry and trade
minister means that administration of the privatization process and
industry will soon merge, Hungarian media reported. Suchman will replace
outgoing minister Imre Dunai, who resigned two weeks ago, citing health
reasons. Suchman's nomination is likely to be approved by other
government members, since the junior coalition party, the Alliance of
Free Democrats, is in favor of cutting the number of government
ministers. The State Privatization and Holding Co. will be subordinated
to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, while the administration
structures for privatization management will be similar to those under
the previous government. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERBS, CROATS SLAM POSTPONEMENT OF ELECTIONS. The OSCE's 27
August decision to put off Bosnian municipal elections until next spring
has been sharply criticized by the Republika Srpska's governing Serbian
Democratic Party and Bosnia-Herzegovina's leading Croatian party, the
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) (see OMRI Special Report, 27 August
1996). The OSCE's Robert Frowick announced that the vote had been
canceled owing to Bosnian Serbian irregularities in voter registration.
The Serbs said that they will hold their municipal elections along with
other voting on 14 September as scheduled, Nasa Borba reported on 28
August. Frowick told CNN in response that "one would have to question
the validity of the Bosnian Serbs holding their own elections." The HDZ
meanwhile charged the OSCE with giving in to demands for postponement by
the Muslim Party for Democratic Action (SDA), Reuters noted on 27
August. The U.S. has endorsed the postponement, calling the move "clear
and decisive," CNN reported. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE'S RESPONSE TO ELECTION POSTPONEMENT. Bratislava Morina, head of
the Serbian Commission for Refugees, told a press conference on 27
August that Belgrade has not manipulated Serbian refugees in order to
influence or coerce them into casting ballots in the Republika Srpska.
Morina, speaking only hours after OSCE Bosnian mission head Frowick's
announcement that the elections had been postponed, remarked that the
OSCE had monitored and supervised voter registration, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, speaking
from Rome, said he could see "no reason" why local elections in Bosnia
should be postponed. -- Stan Markotich

BOSNIANS ABROAD START VOTING. Meanwhile, the 641,010 registered voters
living abroad have begun to cast their ballots, international and
regional media reported. Voting is already under way in Hungary and
Turkey, although the SDA charged that the voting in Turkey began too
early. The 220,640 registered refugee voters in Serbia and Montenegro
begin to cast their ballots today, despite the OSCE's ruling that many
of them were registered under fraudulent circumstances. They constitute
the largest single group of Bosnian voters abroad, after those in
Croatia (136,553) and Germany (132,850). -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN ANTI-NATIONALISTS STAGE BIG RALLY. Between 10,000 and 20,000
people on 27 August attended the largest campaign event staged to date
by the Joint List, which represents five important anti-nationalist
parties, AFP reported. The rally took place in Tuzla, which was the only
city in Bosnia-Herzegovina where anti-nationalists controlled municipal
government throughout the war. Several of the five parties are organized
on the basis of a single nationality, but all are pledged to a
multiethnic country. They face formidable obstacles because of the
nationalists' control over most media and local governments as well as
the polarization that took place during the war. -- Patrick Moore

MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES NEW TERRITORIAL DIVISION. The Macedonian
government on 26 August approved a draft law providing for the division
of the country into 120 municipalities and communities, Nova Makedonija
and Vecer reported on 28 August. Macedonia is currently divided into 34
administrative units. A first draft of the new law provided for 111
communities, but changes were made--particularly in those areas with a
substantial ethnic Albanian population--in order to take into account
criticism by ethnic Albanian parties. The parliament is expected to pass
the territorial law at its first session in September as well as the
recently submitted local election law. This will clear the way for local
elections scheduled to be held later this year. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS CALL FOR PRESIDENT'S OUSTER. Gheorghe Funar,
leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity, on 27
August called for President Ion Iliescu to be "suspended from office"
for supporting the basic treaty with Hungary, Radio Bucharest reported.
Funar appealed to all political forces to band together to oust Iliescu,
who, he said, has violated the constitution by accepting the inclusion
in the treaty of Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201 on ethnic
minorities. He also charged Iliescu with "jeopardizing the future of the
Romanian people, of the national unitary state and of its territorial
integrity." Funar described the treaty as a "secret pact" and an act of
"national betrayal." -- Dan Ionescu

NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED IN ROMANIA. Nicolae Cochinescu has been
appointed prosecutor-general, Radio Bucharest reported on 27 August.
Cochinescu replaces Vasile Manea Dragulin, who resigned the same day
following criticism for failing to take action over a banking scandal.
Bucharest dailies described the change as "a total surprise," and Ziua
speculated that it came "under pressure from the political-financial
mafia." The daily added that his appointment is designed to suggest that
the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) will take a tough
stand on corruption. The PDSR has been keen to polish its image ahead of
general and presidential elections scheduled for 17 November. -- Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS TURNED DOWN. The Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) on 27 August refused to register the presidential and
vice presidential candidates of Bulgaria's two largest political forces,
Pari reported. The ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party and its coalition
partners have chosen Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and Culture
Minister Ivan Marazov as their candidates. But they failed to gain a
two-thirds majority among members of the TsIK because opposition
representatives on the commission said documentation on how Pirinski
acquired Bulgarian citizenship was inadequate. The united opposition's
candidates--Petar Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldzhiev--were also rejected
because documents submitted by parties backing them were found to
contain irregularities. The Socialists and the opposition both said they
will appeal the decisions. They have three days to do so, and the
Supreme Court must then rule within another three days. The court's
decision is final and binding. -- Stefan Krause

UPDATE ON BULGARIAN AGRARIANS' CRISIS. Supporters of Anastasiya
Dimitrova-Mozer, the ousted Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (BZNS)
leader, claim that the union's statutes were violated in at least 10
instances during the meeting at which Dimitrova-Mozer was sacked (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 26 August 1996), Standart reported on 28 August. They
have appealed to the Sofia City Court. Meanwhile, the new party
leadership has handed in registration documents to the court, but it is
doubtful whether the party can be registered as long as the appeal is
pending. The leaders of the Union of Democratic Forces, the People's
Union (of which the BZNS is a member), and the ethnic Turkish Movement
for Rights and Freedom are refusing to meet with the new leadership
before Dimitrova-Mozer returns from the U.S. Meanwhile, Dimitrova-Mozer
again called for an extraordinary party congress. -- Stefan Krause

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SENDS MISSION TO ALBANIA. A fact-finding mission from
the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly arrived in Albania on 27
August, AFP reported. The seven-member delegation, headed by Britain's
Lord Finsberg, is to examine "the progress of the political dialogue
after the violence and irregularities that marked the legislative
elections." The assembly proposed in June that a round table be
organized to foster dialogue between the opposition and the government,
but those talks have so far failed. The opposition charges President
Sali Berisha with failing to ensure the fairness of upcoming local
elections. It is also demanding that the activities of the new permanent
electoral commission be regulated by new legislation rather than a
presidential decree. -- Fabian Schmidt

TWO DIE OF POLIO IN ALBANIA. Two Albanian teenage girls have died of
polio, Reuters reported on 27 August. They were among 23 cases that have
been referred to the capital's specialist hospital since the beginning
of June. A Tirana doctor, however, denied there was an epidemic and
claimed the cases were unrelated. The doctor added that the disease
probably originated from children who had received polio vaccinations
and had then passed on the virus in feces. The virus can enter the water
supply and infect people with weak immune systems who live under poor
sanitary conditions. Some 700,000 Albanian children received polio
vaccinations in April and May. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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