The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 169, Part II, 30 August 1996


        Note to readers: The OMRI Daily Digest will not appear
                 on 2 September 1996, a U.S. holiday

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

UKRAINIANS GO ON TRIAL IN BELARUS. The trial of seven Ukrainians accused
of causing public disorder and insulting police during the 26 April
Chornobyl anniversary demonstrations in Belarus began in Minsk on 29
August, RFE/RL reported. The defendants have been in jail since the
rally. They face prison sentences of up to three years if found guilty.
Six of the defendants have pleaded innocent, while one has admitted to
disturbing the peace and obstructing traffic. ITAR-TASS reported that
the defendants have denied belonging to the ultranationalist Ukrainian
National Assembly-Ukrainian Self-Defense Organization. The trial will be
open to the press, and one Ukrainian deputy will be attending. -- Ustina
Markus

RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN COMMUNITY AGREEMENT GOES INTO FORCE. The Agreement on
the Formation of a Community, signed by Russia and Belarus on 2 April,
officially went into force on 29 August, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV
reported. Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov
exchanged the instruments of ratification with Belarusian Ambassador to
Russia Viktar Danilenka. The agreement was overwhelmingly ratified by
both parliaments but also gave rise to mass protest demonstrations in
Belarus. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS UPDATE. U.S. Senator Richard Lugar arrived in
Ukraine on 28 August to meet with parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz
and head of the National Security Council Volodymyr Horbulin, Ukrainian
Radio reported. Talks focused on economic cooperation and international
security. ITAR-TASS the next day reported that NATO commander of
European Forces Gen. George Joulwan met with President Leonid Kuchma,
Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, and
Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk. Discussion touched on Ukraine's
participation in the Balkan peacekeeping effort. Finally, Georgian
Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharshvili arrived in Ukraine on 30 August
for talks on increasing Ukrainian-Georgian cooperation and expanding
economic ties. -- Ustina Markus

INCONCLUSIVE BORDER TALKS DELAY LATVIAN RATIFICATION OF OIL AGREEMENT.
Following Latvia and Lithuania's failure to reach agreement over their
sea border, Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele has asked the Saeima to
postpone ratifying an oil prospecting agreement with the Amoco and OPAB
oil companies, BNS reported on 29 August. Skele said he was confident
progress would be made over the border issue, while head of the Saeima's
Foreign Affairs Committee Indulis Berzins said the agreement did not
have to be ratified until the end of October. Under the agreement, the
two oil companies would be allowed to conduct oil explorations in the
disputed area of the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Latvia. -- Ustina
Markus

MORE PROBLEMS AT POLISH PUBLIC TV. The Public TV Board on 29 August
failed by one vote to dismiss TVP1 Director Tomasz Siemoniak, Polish
media reported. TVP1 is the most popular TV channel in Poland. Siemoniak
had replaced Maciej Pawlicki in that post earlier this year, prompting
the resignation of TVP Director Wieslaw Walendziak. Siemoniak is
considered to hold centrist views, while both Pawlicki and Walendziak
tend toward right of center. Two members of the five-strong TV board who
have links to the ruling Democratic Left Alliance reproached Siemoniak
for his unwillingness to fire several young journalists who were hired
under the Pawlicki-Walendziak management and are considered to be right
of center. Those journalists have been dubbed "pampers" to stress their
youth. The TVP board has canceled a new program produced by them and
will also take off the air another "pampers" program called "Pulse of
the Day," Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 30 August. -- Jakub Karpinski

FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT ON ELECTORAL UNITY. Lech Walesa, speaking at the
conference on "Solidarity: Sources, the Present, and the Future" in
Szczecin on 29 August, declared his support for Solidarity Electoral
Action, which aims to draw up a joint list of candidates for the 1997
parliamentary elections in order to beat out the post-communist
Democratic Left Alliance and the Polish Peasant Party. Walesa warned
Solidarity not to take over government, saying it should not abandon its
trade union vocation. He praised the leadership of the Freedom Union,
which includes former Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who also spoke at
Szczecin. Walesa rejected any cooperation with the Movement for Poland's
Reconstruction, led by another former prime minister, Jan Olszewski. --
Jakub Karpinski

BODYGUARD ACCUSED OF STEALING FROM CZECH PRESIDENT. Czech police on 29
August arrested one of Vaclav Havel's bodyguards and charged him with
stealing money and "various objects" from the president's house in
Prague, Czech and international media reported. In a press statement,
the president said he was "disappointed." and that he has had "the best
possible experience with the members of his security detail." Police did
not reveal how much money and which objects were stolen. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK NATIONAL UPRISING COMMEMORATED . . . Several hundred citizens
gathered in Bratislava on 29 August to lay wreaths honoring the 52nd
anniversary of the anti-fascist Slovak National Uprising (SNP), Slovak
media reported. President Michal Kovac noted the historical importance
of the event, stressing that "if we do not want to betray the message of
the SNP, we must fulfill it not only verbally but also in every-day
life." He added that "we must purposefully and persistently cultivate in
our lives the political culture of a mature democracy but also the
culture of decent interpersonal relations, true understanding,
tolerance, and moderation." Small ceremonies were also held in Banska
Bystrica, Kosice, and other towns. Kovac was joined in Bratislava by
parliamentary deputy chairman Marian Andel, Deputy Premier Katarina
Tothova, and representatives of the Anti-Fascist Fighters Union,
political parties, and the Israeli and Russian embassies. -- Sharon
Fisher

. . . BUT SOME EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT, ANXIETY. Meanwhile, Slovakia's
leftist opposition expressed disappointment that while lavish
festivities took place to inaugurate the new regions, major SNP
celebrations were not held this year, CTK reported. It also criticized
the fact that official history textbooks containing passages on the SNP
were withdrawn under pressure from the nationalist cultural organization
Matica slovenska. Kovac expressed anxiety that during discussions on
Slovakia's wartime history, "responsibility for acts against humanity,
against civil and human rights [and] for acts motivated by political or
racial intolerance is denied or minimized." He said interpretation of
those events should be left to qualified and objective historians to
avoid their use as instruments for permanently dividing society. The
ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia on 27 August issued a
statement praising the SNP. But its junior coalition partner--the Slovak
National Party--has, together with other nationalist forces in Slovakia,
attempted to glorify the war-time state and its president, Jozef Tiso.
-- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CONTROVERSY MOUNTS OVER BOSNIAN VOTE. The two largest Muslim parties are
still threatening to boycott the 14 September elections, despite the
OSCE's agreeing to their demand that the municipal vote be postponed.
The governing Party of Democratic Action and the Party for Bosnia and
Herzegovina remain concerned about massive voter registration fraud by
the Serbs, AFP reported on 30 August. The anti-nationalist Republican
Party, led by prominent Croatian politician Stjepan Kljuic, called for
the abolition of the practice of allowing people to register in any area
except where they used to live, Oslobodjenje reported. Pale's Serbian
Democratic Party, however, seems to have decided to ignore the OSCE
ruling and will go ahead with its own municipal ballot on schedule,
Tanjug noted on 29 August. The leading party among the Croats, the
Croatian Democratic Community, has also condemned the OSCE's decision,
Onasa reported. -- Patrick Moore.

NATO HOLDS 65 SERBIAN POLICEMEN AFTER SHOOTINGS. IFOR troops on 29
August arrested and disarmed a contingent of Bosnian Serb police in the
village of Mahala, near Zvornik. The Serbs had fired on two dozen
elderly and middle-aged Muslims who had returned to rebuild their homes
after four years in exile, the BBC and AFP reported the next day. Ten
Muslims were injured, and some of their fellows pelted the arrested
Serbs with stones. In Zvornik itself, an angry and increasingly drunken
crowd surrounded a UN police office and trapped six people inside while
attacking and destroying several UN vehicles. NATO ground forces
commander Gen. Sir Michael Walker then released the 65 Serbs and the mob
in Zvornik dispersed. Walker took the weapons to Bosnian Serb acting
President Biljana Plavsic in Banja Luka. -- Patrick Moore

VOTERS IN SERBIA STAY AWAY FROM POLLING STATIONS. Refugees registered to
vote in the 14 September Bosnian elections have stayed away from polling
stations in Serbia for a second consecutive day, AFP reported on 29
August. According to official statistics, approximately 85,000 refugees
have registered to vote in Serbia. But only one of the four polling
stations in Belgrade reported activity by midday--and that was the
arrival of one voter. It seems that voter apathy, however, is not the
reason. Beta reported that voters were encountering a number of
"technical difficulties." In Leskovac, for example, a number of voters
complained they had not received ballot papers. -- Stan Markotich

KORNBLUM MEETS WITH SERBIAN PRESIDENT. U.S. envoy John Kornblum met for
three hours with Slobodan Milosevic on 29 August to discuss the 14
September Bosnian elections. Kornblum said after the meeting that "we
discussed the decision to postpone the municipal elections, and I made
clear it was primarily the manipulation of voter registration by the
Republika Srpska which led to this development," Reuters reported. The
U.S. envoy gave no indication of whether Milosevic would support efforts
to remedy abuses in the electoral process. -- Stan Markotich

SECRET TALKS BETWEEN KOSOVO ALBANIANS, SERBIAN GOVERNMENT. Deputy leader
of the Democratic League of Kosovo Fehmi Agani and head of the Albanian
Education Trade Union Agim Hyseni have held secret talks with the
Serbian government on the readmission of ethnic Albanian students to
secondary school, Nasa Borba reported on 30 August. The dialog, which is
reported to have begun under international mediation, may lead to
resuming Albanian-language education for some 300,000 students who have
been taught at private shadow state schools since the abolition of
autonomy in Kosovo in 1989. It is unclear, however, whether any results
have yet been achieved. -- Fabian Schmidt

LIGHTNING KILLS NINE OUTSIDE MACEDONIAN CHURCH. Nine people were killed
and 41 seriously injured on 29 August when lightning struck outside an
Orthodox church in the east Macedonian town of Berovo, Nova Makedonija
reported. Around 10-15,000 people were celebrating Assumption Day
outside the Church of the Holy Virgin when a thunderstorm struck Berovo.
Witnesses said that first aid units found it difficult to access the
site because panic broke out and people blocked the streets. An
ambulance driver said it took him 35 minutes to drive 3 kilometers from
the hospital to the Church. Eyewitnesses also noted that the police
failed to properly organize the rescue of the injured. -- Stefan Krause

BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER IN MACEDONIA. Hasan Muratovic arrived in Skopje
on 29 August for a two-day visit, Nova Makedonija and AFP reported. He
met with his Macedonian counterpart, Branko Crvenkovski, to discuss
political, economic, and trade relations and regional developments. Both
sides expressed their willingness to upgrade relations to ambassadorial
level. Earlier that day, the 900 Bosnian refugees in Macedonia who are
registered for the upcoming Bosnian elections started casting their
ballots. In other news, the Turkish-Macedonian Joint Commission for
Economic Cooperation held its first session on 28-29 August in the
Turkish city of Izmir. The commission decided to give priority to
setting up a joint Turkish-Macedonian bank. -- Stefan Krause

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH POLITICAL LEADERS TO DISCUSS TREATY WITH
HUNGARY. President Ion Iliescu on 29 August met with leaders of all
parliamentary parties to discuss the Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty,
Romanian and Western media reported. The treaty is due to be signed next
month. Most politicians expressed support for the treaty, but
nationalist and neo-communist leaders reiterated their criticism of the
document, which they perceive as a threat to Romania's territorial
integrity. Gheorghe Funar, leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian
National Unity, repeated his remark that the treaty is "an act of
national treason." Adrian Paunescu, first deputy chairman of the
Socialist Labor Party, described it as a "capitulation" to Hungarian and
Western pressure. Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania, noted that the treaty was offering less than
Romania's ethnic Hungarians had expected. -- Dan Ionescu

MENINGITIS EPIDEMIC IN ROMANIA. Romania is facing the biggest epidemic
of meningitis and meningo-encephalitis since 1986, Romanian and Western
media reported. There are currently 179 registered cases, of which 136
are in Bucharest. Ten people have died since early August. The Health
Ministry advised the population to avoid unfamiliar sources of water and
food. In a separate development, Daniela Bartos, the new health
minister, announced that the budgetary allocation for the health care
system has been increased by 249 billion lei (some $78 million).
According to Bartos, this will allow "moderate investment" in the
country's ailing medical sector. -- Dan Ionescu

GROWING TENSION IN EASTERN MOLDOVA. The Security Ministry of the self-
declared Dniester Moldovan republic has said it is prepared to "oppose
an attack by the enemy," BASA-press reported on 29 August . The
statement comes after weeks of tension over the status of the town of
Bendery (Tighina), located on the Western bank of the Dniester river.
The town has both a Moldovan and a Dniester police force. Tom Zenovich,
head of the town's administration, was quoted as saying he did not
exclude the resumption of the armed conflict in the region. He added
that the deteriorating situation was related to the forthcoming
presidential elections in both the Republic of Moldova and the Dniester
region. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov on 29 August said he
cannot promise that there will be no electricity rationing during the
winter, Demokratsiya reported. He noted that if tests at Reactor No. 1
at the Kozloduy nuclear power facility are not finished soon, the
reactor will be unable to go back on line for the winter season.
Ovcharov said electricity prices will probably not be raised by more
than 5-10% before the end of the year. In Sofia, street-lighting will be
turned off until the city pays its 30 million leva ($149,000) debts to
the state electricity company. In other news, the Supreme Court will
rule on 2 September against the Central Electoral Commission's refusal
to register the Socialist presidential and vice presidential candidates-
-Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and Culture Minister Ivan Marazov,
Duma reported. According to Standart, the Socialists are already looking
for new candidates. -- Stefan Krause

BREAK-THROUGH IN ALBANIAN POLITICAL DEADLOCK? The ruling Democrats and
the opposition on 29 August agreed that the election laws need reviewing
and that dialogue is essential, Reuters reported. The talks, organized
by the U.S. International Republican Institute, focused on 31
recommendations made by the institute following Albania's disputed
parliamentary elections in May. Topics covered included the role of the
media, election administration, and election-day procedures. There was,
however, no compromise in sight on the composition of the election
commissions, a key issue for upcoming local elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALISTS RANSACK ORTHODOX CHURCH. Muslim
fundamentalists are suspected of having destroyed large parts of
Voskopoja's 18th-century Saint Nicholas Church, Zeri i Popullit reported
on 28 August. In what is the first religious-motivated case of vandalism
since the end of communism, the culprits--reportedly Muslim pupils
encouraged by Arab teachers--destroyed 23 frescoes. Police found
inscriptions such as "Allah Is Great" on the walls. The head of
Albania's Muslim community, Hafiz Sabri Koci, denounced the destruction
as an attack against religious tolerance in Albania. Meanwhile, the
Albanian Helsinki Human Rights Committee has sharply criticized the
activities of Arab foundations in Albania, saying they are offering
money to poor families and then manipulating their children in religious
courses, international agencies reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREEK-ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. Theodoros Pangalos arrives in Albania today,
Reuters reported. He is scheduled to attend the inauguration of a Greek
consulate in Gjirokastra and to meet with his Albanian counterpart,
Tritan Shehu, and President Sali Berisha in Vlora. The Albanian
government on 26 August agreed to increase the number of Greek-language
classes in secondary schools. Greek-language elementary schools also
opened for this new school year in three towns. In other news, the
Albanian government on 28 August asked Greece to explain an increasing
number of deportations of Albanian immigrants, Reuters reported. Greece
deported about 5,000 Albanians within five days. Elsewhere, the Albanian
Orthodox church has sent a letter to Constantinople protesting the
appointment of ethnic Greek Bishops to Albania as interference in the
Albanian Church's internal affairs, Albania reported on 28 August. --
Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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