Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 187, Part II, 26 September 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

REACTION TO WARNING OF POSSIBLE EXPLOSION AT CHORNOBYL. Ukrainian experts 
and officials have tried to minimize or have openly contradicted 
Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko's warning that another explosion is 
possible at Chornobyl, RFE/RL and Ukrainian agencies reported on 25 
September. National Security Council Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin said 
Kostenko is mistaken in concluding that three recent increases in neutron 
emissions signaled a chemical reaction that could lead to a thermal 
explosion in the fourth reactor. Chornobyl plant director Serhii Parashyn 
denied there had been any rise in radiation at the plant. He said 
torrential rains had seeped under the encased reactor, causing the 
measuring equipment to malfunction and register a change in the density of 
neutron flux. A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency 
agreed with that assessment, although he said a full explanation for the 
recorded rises in radiation may never be found. He stressed that no 
Western experts believe another explosion is likely. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN NEWS. Delegates have been elected to the All-Belarusian 
People's Congress, which is to debate President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's 
proposed constitution, Belarusian radio reported on 25 September. 
Lukashenka had originally planned that 6,000 delegates attend the 
congress. The report did not specify how many were ultimately elected but 
noted that between six and 18 delegates were elected in rural raions, and 
166 in oblasts. Some 40% of the elected delegates are directors of 
enterprises or representatives of the president's so-called "vertical" 
structures. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Following Lukashenka's recent announcement 
that Russia is to help finance Belarus's air defense forces (see OMRI 
Daily Digest, 23 September 1996) Izvestiya quoted on 24 September a 
Russian air defense official as saying Russia is prepared to pay for its 
own anti-aircraft defense but not for Belarus's. He added that Russian- 
Belarusian military cooperation is such that neither is in fact paying the 
other, only mutually waiving costs. The following day, Trud wrote that 
Lukashenka has suggested that certain Russian circles are opposed to him. 
Those "circles" were taken to mean Security Council chief Aleksandr Lebed 
and Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Both have recently visited Belarus 
but refrained from offering Lukashenka their support. -- Ustina Markus

FORMER ESTONIAN DISSIDENT SENTENCED FOR TREASON. A Tallinn city court on 
25 September sentenced former dissident Tiit Madisson to two-and-a-half 
years in prison for treason, ETA reported. Madisson was arrested on 31 May 
for circulating a document on behalf of the Liberation Army in Estonia, 
whose declared aim is to overthrow the post-communist regime and impose a 
military dictatorship. Madisson denied all charges, saying the document 
was intended only to collect funds toward the founding of a voluntary 
military organization called the Defense League. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM. Guntis Ulmanis, 
addressing the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on 
24 September, announced a moratorium on the death penalty pending a formal 
parliamentary vote to abolish it altogether, Reuters reported. The council 
had stipulated its abolition as one of the conditions Latvia has to 
fulfill to gain membership. Earlier this year, it urged Latvia, along with 
Russia and Ukraine, to end the death penalty. An Amnesty International 
Report released at that time noted that Latvia executed two people by 
firing squad in January 1996 and two others were on death row. Lithuanian 
President Algirdas Brazauskas on 25 September granted pardons to 38 
convicts. The amnesty commission, however, did not discuss four appeals to 
commute the death sentence because it is waiting for parliament action, 
BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius 

POLISH-RUSSIAN GAS CONTRACT SIGNED. The Polish state-run gas company on 25 
September signed a major contract with Gazprom, international media 
reported. Three billion cubic meters are to be supplied in 1997. 
Thereafter, supplies will be increased gradually; and after 2010, Poland 
will be supplied 12 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually by the 
Yamal-Western Europe pipeline, which transits Poland. President Aleksander 
Kwasniewski and the government dismissed fears that the contract would 
endanger Polish sovereignty by making the country dependent on Russian 
energy supplies. Polish Industry Minister Klemens Scierski stressed that 
Poland will continue to utilize its own gas sources. He added that the 
contract is advantageous because of the low cost of Russian gas and the 
potential it offers for the creation of new jobs. Currently, 60% of 
Poland's gas supplies come from Russia. -- Jakub Karpinski and Beata Pasek

SEJM LUSTRATION COMMISSION ORDERS MINISTRIES NOT TO DESTROY SECRET POLICE 
FILES. The Sejm lustration commission has ordered the Ministries of 
Defense and Internal Affairs not to destroy files created before 1 August 
1990, Polish media reported. Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy 
Zimowski responded that the order is superfluous because destroying files 
is a crime that the ministry is not about to commit. He added that before 
February 1990, secret police files were systematically destroyed; as a 
result, 40-50% of materials are missing. Antoni Zielinski, director of the 
State Security Office archives, noted that the amount of files destroyed 
differs from province to province and that in Gdansk only 5% were disposed 
of. Former Internal Affairs Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski commented that 
the most important agents did not sign anything and that members of the 
political, cultural, and church elites were too reluctant to do so. -- 
Jakub Karpinski 

CZECH GOVERNMENT ON RESTITUTION OF CHURCH PROPERTY. The government has 
decided to return some church property confiscated by the communist 
regime, Czech media reported on 25 September. Only those buildings (and 
the land on which they were built) that are currently in the possession of 
the state will be restituted. The churches have until 30 November to 
reclaim their property. The Catholic church has demanded the return of all 
its former forests, but the government's decision omitted any such 
reference. Both the opposition Social Democrats and Communists have 
threatened to block a large-scale restitution of church property that 
included forests. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH TRADE DEFICIT REMAINS STEADY. Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus told 
journalists on 25 September that the country's foreign trade deficit 
reached 100 billion crowns ($3.7 billion) at the end of August, Czech 
media reported. This figure is equal to the trade deficit for 1995. Klaus 
has asked five of his ministers to prepare analyses of the situation and 
suggest solutions within two weeks. Some economists and exporters have 
urged the government to devalue the crown, but the government has so far 
refused such pressure. -- Jiri Pehe 

SLOVAK PREMIER IN GERMANY. Vladimir Meciar on 25 September began a two- 
day unofficial visit to the German states of Hessen and Baden- 
Wuerttemberg, Slovak media reported. He met in Frankfurt-am-Main with the 
head of Germany's largest private bank, Deutsche Bank, to discuss foreign 
investment in Slovakia. Meciar also met with Hessen Prime Minister Hans 
Eichel. He is due to arrive in Stuttgart today to meet with 
Baden-Wuerttemberg Premier Erwin Teufel. -- Jiri Pehe 

HUNGARIAN NAMED BEST REGIONAL BANKER. The British financial monthly 
Euromoney has named Hungarian Central Bank Governor Gyorgy Suranyi as the 
top banker in Central and Eastern Europe in 1996, Hungarian dailies 
reported on 26 September. Euromoney wrote that the stabilization policy 
conceived by Suranyi and former Finance Minister Lajos Bokros has 
reinstated Hungary's financial equilibrium. Readers of the latest edition 
of the U.S. financial magazine Global Finance also gave Suranyi an 
excellent rating. The magazine notes that during Suranyi's 18-month term 
in office, the independence of the central bank has been reinforced, 
inflation has shrunk, and the introduction of "crawling peg" devaluation 
has stabilized the national currency. -- Zsofia Szilagyi 

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

IZETBEGOVIC WARNS OF NEW WAR IN BOSNIA. President Alija Izetbegovic warned 
the UN General Assembly that the conflict could resume in Bosnia- 
Herzegovina if the Dayton peace accord is not enforced. He argued that an 
international military presence will be necessary "for a certain and 
limited period of time" and criticized the local Croats for maintaining 
their para-state of Herceg-Bosna, despite numerous promises to dissolve 
it. Izetbegovic singled out the Bosnian Serbs for criticism because they 
block Muslim and Croatian refugees from going home and because they refuse 
to hand over indicted war criminals to the Hague-based tribunal. 
Oslobodjenje on 26 September quoted him as saying that "if genocide 
without punishment is possible, then Bosnia and Herzegovina is not 
possible." With regard to the new government for the entire country, he 
said that it should include representation from the opposition and seek to 
enforce the Dayton agreement and promote media freedom. -- Patrick Moore

NATO PLANS FOR NEW ROLE IN BOSNIA. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic, 
who is currently in New York, has rejected any extension of the one-year 
mandate for UN peacekeepers in eastern Slavonia, Vjesnik reported on 25 
September. The local Serbs want the foreign troops to stay on for at least 
another year. In Bergen, Norway, NATO defense ministers announced for the 
first time that the alliance will start planning a possible role in Bosnia 
after IFOR's mandate expires at the end of the year. No concrete measures 
are likely to be announced until after the U.S. elections in November, the 
BBC reported. British Defense Secretary Michael Portillo said that "we 
can't abandon the investment we've made there" in promoting peace and 
stability. In Paris, Foreign Minister Herve de Charette announced that a 
major international meeting on Bosnia will take place in early November to 
deal with the future of Bosnian state institutions, AFP reported on 26 
September. -- Patrick Moore

CONTINUING IMBROGLIO OVER MUSLIM REFUGEES. Tensions continue to run high 
over the village of Jusici on Bosnian Serb-held territory, where armed 
Muslims have returned to rebuild their homes. The UNHCR is expected to 
clarify the matter soon, Oslobodjenje reported on 25 September. But U.S. 
General George Casey said later that day that the Muslims must first leave 
and process the necessary paperwork before they can live there. Nasa Borba 
stated on 26 September that Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic has 
agreed to this formula. It appears, however, that the Muslims are 
determined to force the issue of their right to go home, as specified in 
the Dayton agreement, and that the original number of returnees has grown 
from 100 to 300, Reuters said. A UN police spokesman accused the Muslims 
of taunting the local Serbian police. -- Patrick Moore

COLD WEATHER FORCES END TO BOSNIAN EXHUMATIONS. International experts have 
suspended their excavation of mass graves in eastern Bosnia until next 
spring. They have uncovered nearly 500 bodies this year, virtually all of 
whom are Muslim males from Srebrenica who appear to have been executed, 
international news agencies noted on 25 September. The experts stressed 
that it is necessary for Bosnians to know the truth about war crimes if 
they are to begin looking toward the future. Izetbegovic recently made the 
same point at the UN. -- Patrick Moore 

UN REFUSES TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA. The UN Security Council on 24 
September decided not to lift sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, AFP 
reported. But diplomats said they expected Washington and Moscow to agree 
on a solution shortly. Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov has drawn up a 
document that, in accordance with the Dayton agreements, ends sanctions 10 
days after the elections take place. He argues that since the ballot took 
place on 14 September, the sanctions should have been lifted on 24 
September. The U.S., however, has rejected his plan, saying the election 
results have not yet been validated. -- Fabian Schmidt 

SERBIAN UPDATE. The strike at the Kragujevac Zastava arms and automobile 
works has entered its 29th day. Workers demonstrating in front of the 
local municipal parliament on 25 September demanded back wages and talks 
with the government and the plant management. Former Central Bank governor 
Dragoslav Avramovic has announced he will visit the factory on 26 
September to talk to the strikers. Meanwhile, Vuk Draskovic, leader of the 
Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), has denied earlier reports that Avramovic 
is planning a political career with the SPO and other opposition parties 
in the Zajedno (Together) coalition. Draskovic claims the report was "part 
of a plan to discredit" Avramovic and the leaders of Zajedno, Nasa Borba 
reported on 26 September. -- Fabian Schmidt 

TWO CROATIAN JOURNALISTS ACQUITTED IN KEY RIGHTS CASE. Judge Marin Mrcela 
on 26 September acquitted editor in chief Viktor Ivancic and journalist 
Marinko Culic on charges of slandering President Franjo Tudjman (see OMRI 
Daily Digest, 25 September 1996), AFP reported. The two men work for the 
outspoken Split-based satirical weekly Feral Tribune, which has often been 
a thorn in the side of the government and the governing Croatian 
Democratic Community (HDZ). The acquittal signals a major victory for 
freedom of the press because it is the first such case under a new media 
law aimed at silencing critics of the government and HDZ. Croatia has been 
warned by the Council of Europe and other international bodies that the 
new law is unacceptable if that country wants to join European 
institutions. -- Patrick Moore 

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS NEW PAY INCREASE. Romania's cabinet on 25 
September announced a 6% increase in state employees' wages as of 1 
October, Radio Bucharest reported. The hike in the average wage amounts to 
23,600 lei (some $7). Employees will also receive the second tranche, 
worth 6,000 lei (less than $2), of compensation for energy, fuel, and 
bread price increases. Finance Minister Florin Georgescu said the move 
will help compensate for most of this year's inflation, which he estimated 
at about 30%. But domestic media expressed doubts over the minister's 
statement, suggesting that the real reason for the increase was to gain 
electoral support for the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. -- 
Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT, DEFENSE MINISTER RESUME HOSTILITIES. Defense Minister 
Gen. Pavel Creanga has rejected the "serious accusations" brought against 
him by President Mircea Snegur in late June as "groundless," BASA-press 
reported on 25 September. Creanga said Snegur had asked the 
prosecutor-general to investigate his actions under the suspicion that he 
was trying to split the army and destabilize the political situation in 
the country. Snegur had also accused him of disseminating confidential 
information and of conspiring against the president. Creanga demanded that 
the results of the prosecutor's investigation be made public. A 
presidential spokesman said that most of the accusations against Creanga 
have proven valid but that the president does not intend to discuss the 
matter with Creanga through the media. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA'S MASS PRIVATIZATION TO START. The government has announced that 
the long-delayed mass privatization will begin on 7 October, RFE/RL 
reported on 25 September. Some 3 million Bulgarians are expected to bid 
for shares in 968 out of a total of 1,063 state companies up for sale. 
Under the mass privatization scheme, the state will continue to exert 
control over "strategic companies" such as oil refineries and tourist 
offices; only 25% of their shares will be offered to investors. Banks, 
arms factories, railroads, power plants, and companies offering services 
will not be privatized. About 65% of shares in medium-sized companies and 
90% in small ones will be privatized. Results of the bids will be 
announced by the end of November. -- Maria Koinova 

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. Ivan Marazov, the Democratic Left's presidential 
candidate, said in Bonn on 25 September that Bulgarian institutions are 
"at war," international agencies reported. He blamed President Zhelyu 
Zhelev for making too liberal use of his right to veto bills passed by the 
parliament. During his visit to Bonn, Marazov met with German government 
officials and deputies. In other news, two tons of hashish have been 
seized at the Bulgarian-Greek border checkpoint of Kulata, Reuters 
reported on 24 September. The drugs were hidden in a truck containing 
marble slabs on its way from Greece to Bulgaria. -- Maria Koinova

ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION WRAPUP. The opposition on 25 September expressed 
concern for the local elections next month, most of the international 
monitors will come from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly and 
not from the OSCE, Koha Jone reported on 26 September. The latter had 
issued a more critical report on the May parliamentary elections. 
Meanwhile, the Center Pole coalition has sent a protest letter to the 
Central Election Commission saying that President Sali Berisha and 
government members have violated the electoral law by participating in the 
election campaign. It also argued that the municipality of Tirana should 
not be allowed to organize the ruling Democratic Party's public rallies, 
as was the case on 22 September, Poli i Qendres reported on 26 September. 
-- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. 
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