A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 168, Part II, 29 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

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION WANTS "ILLEGAL" DECREES ABOLISHED. Representatives
of a large cross-section of parties opposed to President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's regime met for a second round table on 28 August, Russian
Public TV and AFP reported. They asked the president to abolish 16
decrees found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. They added
that if he did not do so by 15 September, he would face possible
impeachment. Among the parties represented at the round table were the
Agrarians, Communists, Social Democrats, and United Civic Party.
Together, the four have more than 70% of parliamentary seats. Parliament
can impeach the president by a two-thirds majority vote. The parties
also said that they were ready to hold an alternative referendum to
Lukashenka's 7 November ballot and that they favored creating a
commission to look into the financial activities of the president's
administration. -- Ustina Markus

OPPOSITION TO LATEST BELARUSIAN ECONOMIC DECREES. Shopkeepers and
traders in Minsk stopped doing business on 27 August in reaction to
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's latest decrees on trade, Russian and
Western agencies reported the following day. In order to protect
Belarusian goods from cheaper imports, Lukashenka decreed that shops
must stock at least 75% of locally manufactured goods. He also raised
the price of imported goods by 50%. Reuters reported that some 11
trillion Belarusian rubles ($848 million) worth of local goods are
stockpiled. According to ITAR-TASS, around 5,000 market traders gathered
in the city's Dynamo stadium to protest a new trading tax that will
require them to pay 1.3-1.5 million Belarusian rubles ($110-120)
annually. Previously, traders had to pay only a 12% income tax. Many
said the new levy will force them out of business. -- Ustina Markus

LEAK SHUTS DOWN LITHUANIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. A reactor at Lithuania's
Ignalina nuclear power station was shut down on 27 August after a leak
was discovered, Reuters reported. Because its other reactor was recently
shut down for routine maintenance, the plant has been temporarily
closed. It provides 85% of the country's electricity. The Elektrenai
plant, which burns heavy fuel oil, is currently making up for the
shortfall. The leak is considered minor, and the reactor is to restart
on 3 September. Ignalina has raised safety concerns because its Soviet-
era RBMK reactors are the same model as those of Ukraine's Chornobyl. --
Ustina Markus

DATE SET FOR NEXT ESTONIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Following the
parliament's failure to elect a new president in three rounds of voting
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 August 1996), parliamentary speaker Toomas
Savi has announced that an electoral college will convene on 20
September, Reuters reported. The college will be composed of the 101
parliamentary deputies and 273 representatives of local government. --
Ustina Markus

HEATED DEBATE ON ABORTION IN POLISH SEJM. A proposed amendment to the
abortion law provoked a heated debate in the Sejm on 28 August. The
amendment allows abortion in cases where women are in financial straits
or other disadvantageous circumstances. Supreme Court President and
former presidential candidate Adam Strzembosz expressed his opposition,
saying that hardships should not be sufficient cause for an abortion.
Izabela Sierakowska from the Democratic Left Alliance defended women's
right to choose. Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka from the Labor Union also
supported the amendment, saying that the current regulation is
"hypocritical." A vote on the amendment is expected on 31 August. --
Jakub Karpinski

WALESA'S WAX EFFIGY HALTED AT AIRPORT. A wax figure of former Polish
President Lech Walesa was halted at Warsaw airport on 28 August by
customs because of a "lack of requisite documents," international
agencies reported. Jerzy Urban, former spokesman for communist leader
Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, who introduced martial law in 1981, bought the
figure for $1,000. It had been exhibited in Copenhagen's Louis Tussaud's
wax museum before being replaced by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Urban, who is now the editor in chief and owner of the satirical
magazine Nie, intended to parade Walesa's figure through Warsaw in an
open car before putting it on display at the Nie offices. Walesa was a
frequent target of Urban's publication. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH GOVERNMENT REJECTS BILL ON OMBUDSMAN. The Czech government on 28
August rejected a draft law on ombudsman submitted by a group of
deputies, Czech media report. But the bill is likely to be approved by
the parliament because it has the support of the coalition Civic
Democratic Alliance, two of the three opposition parties, and some
deputies from the Christian Democratic Union. The government was not
unanimous in its rejection of the bill. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's
Civic Democratic Party (ODS), which is strongly opposed to introducing
an ombudsman into the Czech constitutional system, had prevented the
legislature from voting on a similar bill before the June parliamentary
elections. ODS officials argued that such an institution was redundant
and that opposition parties wanted to use it to undermine the ODS's
political authority. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH PRESIDENT SUPPORTS CRITICISM OF SLOVAKIA. Vaclav Havel, speaking
on 28 August during his trip to eastern Bohemia, stressed his support
for the leader of the Czech Social Democrats, Milos Zeman, who during
his recent visit to Slovakia criticized what he saw as the Slovak
government's poor policy toward minorities, abuse of secret services,
and restrictions on freedom of speech. Havel argued that if the Czech
Republic wants to have good relations with Slovakia, Czech politicians
"must be able to reproach their Slovak colleagues for their mistakes."
Some Slovak politicians recently criticized Havel for meddling in Slovak
domestic affairs and adopting a paternalistic attitude toward Slovakia.
-- Jiri Pehe

REACTIONS TO SLOVAK CABINET CHANGES. Lubomir Fogas of the opposition
Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) told Slovak Radio on 28 August said
he does not expect the previous day's cabinet reshuffle to have a
"fundamental" effect on government policy. SDL deputy Brigita
Schmoegnerova noted that although the move gives hope for improvement,
the extent of change will remain unclear until the parliament convenes
in September. She attached particular importance to the departure of
Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek but expressed concern about the lack of
experience of his replacement, Gustav Krajci, a former physical
education teacher. Speaking on Slovak TV, Krajci dismissed questions
about his professional qualifications, stressing that he had gained
experience in the state administration while serving as head of a
district office. He said he plans to appoint an experienced specialist
in police affairs as his state secretary. Most commentators expect more
changes in the future. -- Sharon Fisher

FUNERAL HELD IN SLOVAKIA FOR SLAIN SKINHEAD. A funeral was held in the
central Slovak town of Prievidza on 28 August for Jaroslav Bahn, a 19-
year-old skinhead, TASR reported. Bahn was reportedly stabbed to death
with a kitchen knife while getting off a bus in Prievidza four days
earlier by a 26-year-old Roma. Bahn, who had been doing compulsory
military service, was buried with military honors. More than 2,000
people, including 300 skinheads from around Slovakia, attended the
ceremonies. Also present were Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota,
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia deputy Arpad Tarnoczy, and Prievidza
district council head Miroslav Milos. The funeral ceremony proceeded
calmly. Following the funeral, Slota expressed "deep indignation" at
Bahn's "brutal murder" and called for a referendum on the death penalty.
-- Sharon Fisher

U.S. ARMY TO SELL OFF NON-MILITARY PROPERTY IN HUNGARY. Private
individuals and enterprises will have the opportunity to purchase
recyclable equipment and other materials used by IFOR troops in Hungary
and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungarian media reported on 29 August. The goods
for sale include telecommunications and office equipment, construction
materials, general mechanical equipment and recyclable waste. No
military hardware will be offered. Revenues from the sales will be used
to support the IFOR mission. The Logistics Directorate of the Hungarian
Army will be in charge of the sales. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS APPEAR TO ACCEPT POSTPONEMENT OF BOSNIAN VOTE. The acting leader
of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) of the Republika Srpska,
Aleksa Buha, said in Doboj on 28 August that it is "very probable" that
his party will accept the OSCE's postponement of the municipal elections
until next spring, Nasa Borba reported. Parliamentary Speaker Momcilo
Krajisnik went on, however, to accuse the OSCE of siding with the Muslim
Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in making the decision, AFP noted,
quoting SRNA. "The postponement of local elections . . . is a desperate
attempt to postpone the final defeat of the Muslims. . . . But whether
[the elections are held] in September 1996 or in April 1997, the . . .
SDS will repeat the results of all the Serb plebiscites and win the
support of 90% of the electorate," he said. -- Patrick Moore

CONFUSION REIGNS OVER BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTING. The two leading Muslim
parties have called for a suspension of voting by Bosnian refugees
abroad until the issue of widespread fraud in voter registration is
clarified, the BBC reported on 28 August. The SDA and former Prime
Minister Haris Silajdzic's Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina were
seconded by the small Bosnian Patriotic Party, led by Muslim wartime
Gen. Sefer Halilovic. Onasa reported from a refugee camp in Hungary that
voting is, in any event, confused. Hungarian camp director Lajos Horvath
said of the balloting to date: "For the most part, [the refugees] really
didn't understand what was going on. It was confusing, they had no
experience of voting, many...are only semi-literate, and none of them
knew anything about the candidates. They just voted along ethnic lines
where they could." Meanwhile in Serbia, refugee voter turnout is low,
Reuters noted. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SHORTS. Some 5,000 U.S. troops have begun training in Germany to
assist in the eventual withdraw of IFOR from Bosnia, news agencies
reported on 28 August. In Washington, the State Department supported
complaints by senior international officials in Bosnia-Herzegovina that
the government there is obstructing the launching of independent
television, despite promises by President Alija Izetbegovic to get it
started, Reuters and Oslobodjenje said. The wife of indicted war
criminal Radovan Karadzic told a Serbian weekly that the Americans also
asked her husband to leave Pale for Montenegro but that he refused, the
BBC noted on 29 August. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN UPDATE. Nasa Borba on 29 August ran the headline "An eighth day
of protest, a first day of hunger strike" in reference to the growing
labor action at the Zastava arms plant, the linchpin facility of
Serbia's arms production and output. The plant's workers are striking
over unpaid wages and are demanding the sacking of the general manager,
who on 27 August had told some 3,500 workers to take forced leave until
2 September, when the plant's problems are to be discussed with
officials in Belgrade. In other news, Slavko Milosavlevski arrived in
Belgrade on 28 August to become Macedonia's first ambassador to the
former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich

RUMP YUGOSLAV ARMY OFFICERS INSPECT CROATIAN ARMS. A team of five army
officers from the SRJ arrived in Croatia to inspect that country's
artillery stocks, Reuters reported on 27 August, citing local Croatian
media, The officers' visit was in accordance with a clause on
"subregional arms control" in the Dayton accord, Croatian TV reported.
The Serbian officers' inspection tour began at a barracks in the town of
Varazdin. A team of Croatian officers is slated to arrive in the SRJ for
a similar inspection tour in mid-September. -- Stan Markotich

WERE POWS, REFUGEES FROM SREBRENICA FORCED TO WORK IN KOSOVO MINES?
Kosova Communication on 28 August reported that more than 350 Bosnian
POWs and refugees from Srebrenica were forced to work in the Trepca
mines. It also quoted Deutsche Welle's Serbian department as saying that
an additional 1,500 POWs and refugees from other regions worked there.
The report has allegedly been confirmed by the Bosnian government's
Commissioner for Refugees and the Serbian Helsinki Committee. First
reports suggesting forced labor in Trepca date back to 25 January, when
AIM noted that work had resumed at Trepca and that the Serbian
government had claimed 280 "ethnic Albanians" were employed there. AIM,
however, suggested that the workers were prisoners from Srebrenica. The
mines stopped working in February 1989 when Albanian employees staged a
strike to protest the abolition of the province's autonomy. The
International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia has set up a
commission to investigate the case. -- Fabian Schmidt

POLICEMAN SHOT DEAD IN KOSOVO. Two gunmen on 28 August killed an ethnic
Turkish police officer in Donje Lupce, 30 km north of Pristina, AFP
reported. The previous night three hand grenades were thrown at a police
station in Celopek, near Pec. Nobody was injured in the explosion, which
caused damage to the building. The Liberation Army of Kosovo has claimed
responsibility for earlier similar attacks. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT FORMALLY ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY. Ion Iliescu on 28
August announced he will be seeking a third term in office, Romanian and
Western media reported. The 66-year-old incumbent president is running
in the November elections as a candidate for the ruling Party of Social
Democracy in Romania. Addressing a gathering of several thousand
politicians, government officials, and supporters, he vowed to continue
reforms, encourage economic recovery, and fight both corruption and the
country's "unscrupulous" economic mafia. Iliescu also pledged to improve
social protection for workers, pensioners, and other disadvantaged
groups. The opposition has argued that the constitution bars a person
from seeking more than two terms in office as president. But supporters
contend that Iliescu's first term (1990-1992) should not be taken into
consideration since the new constitution was not adopted until 1991. --
Dan Ionescu

SENIOR NATO OFFICIALS PRAISE ROMANIA. General Klaus Naumann, head of
NATO's Military Committee, on 28 August ended an official visit to
Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Naumann, who met with President Ion
Iliescu, Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, Foreign Minister Teodor
Melescanu, and other high-ranking Romanian officials, praised Romania
for its active participation in the alliance's Partnership for Peace
(PfP) program. On the same day, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert Hunter,
currently in Bucharest, described Romania's PfP record as "superb." He
further hailed the recent agreement between the Romanian and Hungarian
governments over the text of a bilateral basic treaty. -- Dan Ionescu

NEW-OLD BANKNOTES TO CIRCULATE IN THE DNIESTER REGION. Tiraspol has
announced that "new" bank notes will go into circulation on 29 August,
BASA-press and Reuters reported. The new banknotes are, in fact, the old
1, 50, and 100 Dniester ruble notes on which extra zeros have been
stamped to make them worth 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 Dniester rubles,
respectively. The local currency traded at 257 to $1 when it was
introduced in January 1994; today, the exchange rate is 520,000 to $1.
Experts believe that the exchange rate will now soar to between 600,000
and 1 million rubles to $1. -- Dan Ionescu

FORMER BULGARIAN DICTATOR CLEARED OF ABUSE OF OFFICE. Todor Zhivkov on
28 August was acquitted of charges of abuse of office, Pari reported.
The Supreme Court ruled that under the present constitution, Zhivkov
cannot be held accountable because as head of state he enjoyed immunity.
It argued that while communist Bulgaria formally had no head of state,
Zhivkov was the unchallenged state leader in his capacity as chairman of
the State Council from 1971-1989. Charges relating to his term as prime
minister in 1962-1971 are barred by the statute of limitations, the
court ruled. Zhivkov was sentenced in 1992 to seven years in prison on
those charges. He was acquitted earlier this year pending a special
judicial review. Zhelev remains under house arrest because three cases
against him are still pending, including the forceful Bulgarization of
the country's ethnic Turks in the 1980s. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UPDATE. The presidential and vice
presidential candidates of both the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party and
the united opposition have appealed the Central Electoral Commission's
refusal to register them for the upcoming elections (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 28 August 1996). The Supreme Court has three working days to
issue binding decisions on the rulings. -- Stefan Krause

COUNCIL OF EUROPE DISCUSSES ALBANIAN DEADLOCK WITH POLITICAL PARTIES. A
delegation of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly on 28
August held round-table talks with the ruling Democrats and the
opposition to discuss the current political deadlock. The council had
suggested that the parties hold a dialogue, but they have so far failed
to do so. Domenic Columberg from the council's Legal Affairs and Human
Rights Committee said the aim of the visit was to prepare the ground for
20 October's local elections, international agencies reported. The
council pledged to send monitors to the ballot. According to ATSH, the
Socialists disputed a call by the delegation to take up its seats in
parliament. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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