Желания необходимы, чтобы жизнь постоянно находилась в движении. - Самюэл Джонсон
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 186, Part II, 25 September 1996

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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

RADIATION INCREASES AT CHORNOBYL SIGNAL "DANGEROUS CHAIN REACTION."
Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko has said the three recent
increases in radiation levels at Chornobyl reveal that a dangerous
chemical chain reaction is taking place inside the entombed fourth
nuclear reactor, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 24
September. He noted that spent nuclear fuel inside the sarcophagus-
encased reactor is undergoing dangerous chemical reactions that could
cause further radiation increases or an explosion at any time. Kostenko
added that these latest incidents prove that the planned construction of
a new sarcophagus is not enough to contain the radioactivity and that
Ukraine must consider the feasibility of removing the spent fuel. He
once again complained that Kyiv has received none of the funding
promised by the G-7 powers to shut down Chornobyl. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS DISMISS ACTING SPEAKER. Crimean legislators have voted
to dismiss acting speaker Anushevan Danelyan for allegedly abusing his
office, Ukrainian agencies reported on 20 September. In a unusual move,
the Crimean Tatar caucus joined forces with the pro-Russian elements in
the legislature to oust him. Danelyan took over the temporary post when
speaker Yevhen Supruniuk was hospitalized recently after foiling a
kidnapping attempt. After the vote, Supruniuk named Deputy Speaker Refat
Chubarov, a Tatar leader, as new acting speaker, dashing separatists'
hopes of seeing their representative in that post. Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma commented that the move provided evidence that a "clash of
clans" was under way in the troubled region. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR ON RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE. Yurii Dubinin, meeting
with Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz on 24 September,
said the adoption of the new Ukrainian constitution marked a new stage
in Russian-Ukrainian relations, Ukrainian Radio reported. Dubinin, who
had initiated the meeting, also noted that the two countries are each
other's largest trading partners, with a total turnover of more than $13
billion. He noted that 150 bilateral agreements have been signed in
trade, economic cooperation, and other spheres. Asked by Dubinin about
Ukraine's position on NATO expansion. Moroz said he gave greater
priority to cooperation with the OSCE. He added that neutral, non-
aligned European states such as Austria, Switzerland, and Ukraine could
provide the framework for a new European security model on the
principles of neutrality, non-nuclear status, and continued
participation in peacekeeping missions. The issues of the Black Sea
Fleet and Russia's imposition of a 20% tariff on Ukrainian imports were
not raised. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN UPDATE. The political information department of the
president's administration has denied that Alyaksander Lukashenka has
wronged any Western state, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 September. The
statement was in response to a protest by the U.S. embassy in Minsk over
the president's recent allegations that Western diplomats have engaged
in activities to destabilize Belarus. However, department head Mikhail
Podhany said foreign diplomats are meddling too much in Belarus's
internal affairs and that these activities were damaging the country's
independence. In other news, a Minsk court has fined head of state radio
and television Hryhor Kisel, who was appointed by Lukashenka, 30 minimum
wages (the equivalent of $55) for not fulfilling his duties when he
failed to broadcast parliamentary debates on the president's proposed
referendum. Kisel was also fined 20 minimum wages for not airing
regularly the program "Parliament's Diary." Meanwhile, the
Constitutional Court has called upon both the president and parliament
not to proceed with their proposed referendums. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC REGION DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. Defense ministers and other high-
ranking officials from the countries of the Baltic Sea region, Great
Britain, the Netherlands, and the U.S met in Copenhagen on 23-24
September to discuss security issues, Western agencies reported. Russian
Defense Minister Igor Rodinov declined to attend, and his planned
substitute, Baltic Sea Fleet Commander Vladimir Yegorov, also failed to
appear. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe stressed that new NATO
members should have stable relations with Russia. Lithuanian Defense
Minister Linas Linkevicius said the Baltic Action Plan presented by U.S.
Secretary of Defense William Perry was acceptable as long as it did not
amount to an alternative to NATO. He stressed that the alliance was the
only real guarantee of the security of the Baltic states. -- Saulius
Girnius

ESTONIAN PREMIER NAMES NEW HEAD OF FERRY DISASTER COMMITTEE. Tiit Vahi
on 24 September said the government has approved the appointment of Uno
Laur, a 68-year-old former captain of the Estonian Shipping Company, as
head of the international committee investigating the sinking of the
ferry Estonia in September 1994, Reuters reported. The committee's
former head, Andi Meister, resigned in July alleging that Swedish
investigators had concealed some of the video evidence. Laur's
appointment is expected to be ratified on 26 September by the Swedish
and Finnish members of the committee. They have insisted that the
committee be headed by an Estonian. Laur, who already is a member of the
committee, thus appears to be a suitable choice. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER IN U.S. Andris Skele, during his visit to the
U.S. from 21-25 September, held talks in Washington with World Bank Vice
President Johannes Linn, International Finance Corporation Vice
President Wilfried Kaffenberger, and representatives of the
International Business Council. He was forced to cancel a meeting with
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in New York on 23
September due to engine problems with his plane in Washington D. C.
Skele addressed the UN General Assembly on 24 September, stressing the
importance of respecting human rights and Latvia's potential as an
"economic bridge between East and West," RFE/RL reported. He also met
with his Swedish and Japanese counterparts, Goran Persson and Ryutaro
Hashimoto, and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. -- Saulius
Girnius

VATICAN QUESTIONS AUTHENTICITY OF STASI FILES. Vatican spokesman Joaquin
Navarro-Valla has queried the authenticity of former East German secret
service (Stasi) files on Pope Paul VI's meeting with West German
Chancellor Willy Brandt in the 1970s based on a Polish priest's reports
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 September 1996). Navarro-Valla said important
details from the conversation that took place at that meeting are
missing and that the rest is a reconstruction based on known facts or
facts that could be easily deduced. "If the reports are false, one has
to conclude that the priest did not exist," he said. The Polish
episcopate's secretary, Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, said there was no need
for the episcopate to make a statement on the matter. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLAND PROPOSES ANTI-CRIME CONVENTION. President Aleksander Kwasniewski,
speaking at the UN General Assembly session in New York on 24 September,
proposed a convention designed to fight international organized crime
and terrorism. The convention would urge signatories "either to punish
offenders or to extradite them," he said. Kwasniewski also reiterated
that joining NATO and the EU are priorities of Polish foreign policy.
Earlier that day, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said Russia
opposes former Warsaw Pact countries' membership in NATO. -- Jakub
Karpinski

CZECH PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES DISAGREE OVER COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE BANK
COLLAPSE. Czech parliamentary parties are at odds over the composition
and size of a special parliamentary committee that is to investigate the
collapse of the Kreditni banka, Czech media reported on 24 September.
The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD), who proposed the creation of the
committee, wants to chair it and have five of the 13 seats. This would
mean that Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS)
would have only four seats and the four other parliamentary parties one
each. The ODS has announced it will insist on either a 10- or 12-member
committee in which both it and the CSSD would have three or four seats
each and all other parties one each. The coalition parties have also
rejected the nomination of the CSSD's Michael Kraus to head the
committee, pointing to his communist past and recent charges of
involvement in suspicious property deals. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAKIA RESPONDS TO HUNGARIAN CRITICISM OVER FOREIGN ANTHEM BAN. The
Slovak Foreign Ministry on 24 September responded to Hungarian criticism
of the recently passed Law on State Symbols, Slovak media reported.
Among other things, the new legislation allows foreign national anthems
to be played in Slovakia only when a foreign delegation is present.
Slovakia's Hungarians have complained that the law is aimed at
preventing them from singing or playing the Hungarian anthem on
Hungarian national holidays. The Foreign Ministry said it "has taken
notice of the reactions in Hungary" to the law. It added that the law
affects only Slovakia's internal affairs and has "no bearing on Slovak-
Hungarian relations and the implementation of the Slovak-Hungarian
Treaty as well as the position of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia."
-- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARIAN INDUSTRY MINISTRY TO BE RESTRUCTURED. Newly appointed Industry
and Trade Minister Tamas Suchman has announced a plan to reduce the
ministry's staff from 640 to 540 employees, Hungarian dailies reported
on 25 September. Scheduled for implementation before the end of the
year, the plan will also merge some trade representation offices abroad
with embassies. Those offices in Moscow, Brussels, Washington, and Tokyo
are to be granted a special status, and a new office will be set up in
Budapest to coordinate trade relations with CEFTA countries. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES SUBMIT MODIFICATIONS TO DRAFT HUNGARIAN
CONSTITUTION. The six parliamentary parties represented on the committee
responsible for a new constitutional draft have submitted their
recommendations on modifying that document, Magyar Hirlap reported on 25
September. After the parliament failed to agree on a concept for a new
constitution in June, a final vote was postponed until the fall (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 1 July 1996). The two coalition parties--the
Socialists and the Free Democrats--have jointly submitted three
recommendations. Among those proposed by the opposition Christian
Democrats is one requiring a referendum on certain clauses it deems
crucial. The parliament has yet to decide whether to allow the
Democratic People's Party--which was recently formed by the liberal wing
of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, the former governing party--to be
represented on the committee. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN ELECTIONS TO BE VALIDATED . . . OSCE's election coordinator Ed
Van Thijn on 24 September said he will recommend that the 14 September
vote be certified. He admitted that the ballot was not "free or fair"
but denied that there was "fraud or manipulation...of sufficient
magnitude to affect the [results of the] elections." He added, however,
that freedom of movement and association will have to be ensured before
local elections can be held and that the nagging problem of voter
registration lists will have to be solved as well, Onasa reported. This
means that the local elections could be postponed until early 1997, the
BBC noted. -- Patrick Moore

. . . BUT NOT WITHOUT PROTESTS. Parties now have 72 hours to protest the
results, after which the OSCE has another 72 hours to consider those
complaints. Challenges have already come from the Muslim Party of
Democratic Action. AFP quoted Biljana Plavsic, acting president of the
Republika Srpska, as claiming on 24 September that "the figures have
been adjusted in order to answer the political needs of some. This
adjustment has been accomplished with the help of illegal ballots that
the electoral commission of the Republika Srpska was unable to check.
The Republika Srpska cannot accept a revision of the results relying on
these mysterious ballots." -- Patrick Moore

TRIAL OF CROATIAN JOURNALISTS RESUMES. Proceedings begin again on 25
September in Zagreb against Viktor Ivancic, the editor in chief of Feral
Tribune, and Marinko Culic, who writes for the same outspoken satirical
weekly. The trial resumes after a three-month break in what is widely
seen as a test for the new press law, which allows the government to
silence and jail journalists by claiming that they slandered high
officials or revealed "state secrets." The two men are accused of
defaming President Franjo Tudjman, international media noted. Croatia
has been widely criticized for the vague new legislation, and there were
some expectations that the charges would be quietly dropped during the
recess. Opponents of the law charge that by providing special protection
from criticism for the five top government officials, the measure
violates the constitution, which guarantees equality before the law for
all citizens. -- Patrick Moore

WILL FORMER RUMP YUGOSLAV BANK GOVERNOR ENTER POLITICAL RACE? Dragoslav
Avramovic has been asked to head the list of the Zajedno (Together)
coalition, which consists of the Serbian Renewal Movement, the
Democratic Party, and the Serbian Civic League, in the 3 November
federal elections, Nasa Borba reported on 25 September. Avramovic, who
is expected to announce tomorrow whether he will accept, initiated
economic reforms in 1994. He is regarded by opposition politicians as
one of the few public figures who may appeal to enough voters to oust
the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia. -- Stan Markotich

SLOVENIAN JUSTICE SURVIVES BOMBING ATTEMPT. Judge Konrad Rebernik was
unhurt after a bomb exploded near his Maribor home on 24 September,
local media reported. Rebernik's wife, however, was rushed to hospital
for treatment for serious but unspecified injuries resulting from the
incident. This is the first time a senior member of the Slovenian
judiciary has been the target of such action. Rebernik is head of
Maribor's regional criminal court and has been involved in criminal law
for the past seven years. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIA'S RULING PARTY DEFEATED OVER BANK PRIVATIZATION. The Party of
Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 24 September was defeated over a
draft law on the privatization of banks with majority state capital,
local media reported. The democratic opposition was supported by the
ultra-nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), a former PDSR
ally, in rejecting the draft legislation, which it described as de facto
sanctioning the communist "nationalization" of the banking system. The
text, which was previously adopted by the Senate, was sent to a
commission of experts to be amended. Romanian TV commented that the
ruling party is experiencing "the consequences of the lack of
parliamentary support" following its break with the PUNR earlier this
month. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT COMMISSION RULES ON ANTI-GAY LEGISLATION. The
parliamentary Mediation Commission on 24 September overruled a Chamber
of Deputies decision to make homosexuality a crime in Romania, domestic
media reported. The commission opted for the text adopted earlier by the
Senate stating that relations between people of the same sex are
punishable only if they are "performed in public" or "provoke a
scandal." The only opposing vote was cast by deputy Rasvan Dobrescu of
the National Peasant Party--Christian Democratic. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA'S BASE INTEREST NEARLY TRIPLES. The Central Bank on 23
September raised the base interest to 300% from 108% in a bid to restore
depositors' confidence in banking institutions and the lev,
international and national media reported. The move is also aimed at
assuaging public anxieties and thereby preventing a run on deposits,
which could lead to the further collapse of banks. Deposits are to be
guaranteed up to 100%, parliamentary Budget Commission chief Kiril
Zhelev said. But Standart has warned that with much of the public's
money already in the banks, the government could be tempted to raise the
exchange rate for the dollar to 1,000 leva and lower the interest rate
to, for example, 40%. -- Maria Koinova

BULGARIAN TRADE UNIONS DEMAND GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION. The leaders of
the two biggest trade unions have demanded the cabinet's resignation
following its decision to sell 15 large state-owned companies, Reuters
and Trud reported on 24 September. That decision was taken in an effort
to obtain new loans from the IMF. The unions plan to establish a joint
strike committee next week and to press ahead with protests and
nationwide strikes. The same day, Premier Zhan Videnov said that in the
case of the 15 companies, the government expects privatization deals
worth more than $1 billion. In other news, the Bulgarian Foreign
Ministry ordered Slavi Pashovsky, the country's ambassador to the UN, to
resign after he accused his government of seeking to subvert democracy
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 September 1996). -- Maria Koinova

ALBANIANS CLASH WITH POLICE IN LAND DISPUTE. Some 400 Albanians clashed
with police on 24 September over the setting up of barricades on the
main road between Tirana-Durres to protest the police destruction of
three illegally-built houses in the area last week, Republika reported.
Four protesters and five policemen were injured, while 20 people were
arrested. Protests began following the Tirana city hall's decision to
award the disputed land as compensation and to order the three families
living there to leave. Similar clashes occurred in 1995, when police
were forced to beat a retreat. After that incident, authorities formally
approved the construction of new settlements. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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