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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 190, Part II, 1 October 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

LIFE EXPECTANCY DECREASING, INFANT MORTALITY INCREASING IN UKRAINE.
Declining life expectancy, growing infant mortality, and a high number
of abortions all contributed to a negative population growth of -5.8%
last year, down from -4.7% in 1994, Ukrainska hazeta reported on 26
September. Citing various sources, the newspaper said the average life
expectancy dropped from 69.4 years in 1992 to 68 in 1994. Life
expectancy fell dramatically among men, to 62.8 years, largely because
the death rate of working-age men was four to five times that of women.
Of every 1,000 infants, 14.5 were reported dead by age one, but the
paper added that many hospitals continue the Soviet-era practice of
registering infant deaths as stillborns. The number of abortions
declined slightly from 1994 to 1995, from 154.3 to 153.1 abortions for
every 100 deliveries. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

RUSSIAN OIL FIRMS IN BELARUS. As of next year, Russia and Belarus will
operate within the framework of a single energy system as envisioned in
the April Treaty on the Formation of a Community, Russian Deputy Prime
Minister Valerii Serov was quoted saying by Segodnya and ITAR-TASS on 28
September. Serov was in Minsk with Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov for
a meeting with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. In line with
an agreement signed at the end of last year, Lukashenka said he would
sign a decree making the largest refinery in Belarus, Naftan, a closed
joint-stock company and allowing the Russian oil firms Lukoil and Yukos
to own 51% of the shares. The shares would be divided equally between
the two firms. That would open the way for investment by the Russian
firms in Belarusian oil facilities. For their part, the Russian firms
will contribute 74% of the capital needed to reconstruct the refinery.
-- Ustina Markus

LATVIA TO END SUMMER TIME EARLIER THAN NEIGHBORS. The government press
department announced that Latvia would end summer time on 28 September,
Western agencies reported. This is likely to cause confusion since its
neighbors Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia will follow the European Union
example and end summer time on 27 October. While Lithuania and Poland
have been following the EU example for several years, Estonia declared
that it would only on 24 September. International airlines are now
printing tickets with the correct local times for October, but people
holding tickets printed earlier risk missing their flights if they
adhere to the printed departure times. -- Saulius Girnius

FIVE PARTIES EXPECTED TO SUCCEED IN LITHUANIAN ELECTIONS. Only five of
the 24 parties campaigning for Lithuania's 20 October parliamentary
elections will receive the necessary 5% of votes to share in the
distribution of 70 seats determined by party-list voting, according to a
mid-September Baltic Surveys poll published by BNS on 30 September. The
five are: the Conservatives (14.7%), Democratic Labor Party (12.0%),
Christian Democratic Party (10.5%), Center Union (9.3%), and Women's
Party (5.9%). Some 21% said they were still undecided and 14% said they
would not vote. Other parties, such as the Social Democratic Party and
the Lithuanian Polish Electoral Action, are expected to win some of the
71 seats determined in single-mandate elections. -- Saulius Girnius

REFORM OF POLISH CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION BEGINS. Key elements of the
long-awaited reform of Poland's central administration began today,
Polish dailies reported. With the formal abolition of the Privatization
Ministry, the Treasury Ministry began to take control of 204 of the
largest "strategic" state enterprises (power plants, coal mines, and
vodka distilleries), while ownership of 1,168 firms is being transferred
to local governments. The Treasury Ministry will also own all state
equity still held in partly privatized firms, including banks, insurance
companies, and Lot Polish Airways. The Committee on European Integration
will replace the Ministry of Foreign Economic Affairs, which along with
the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Antimonopoly Office was
abolished today. Their functions are being assumed by the Economics
Ministry and the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. The
prime minister, rather than the Interior Ministry, is now formally
responsible for supervising the State Security Office. -- Ben Slay

SLOVAK AGRICULTURE MINISTER FACES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The parliament was
to discuss an opposition proposal to call a vote of no-confidence in
Agriculture Minister Peter Baco on 1 October, Slovak media reported. The
move follows a report by the Supreme Supervisory Office concerning
illegal grain exports. Baco denied responsibility, and the Republican
Council of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)
expressed full support for him at a weekend meeting. Former Economy
Minister Jan Ducky -- who was also thought to hold responsibility for
the exports -- was dismissed in late August, but he is now serving as an
adviser to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Former Interior Minister
Ludovit Hudek, who was dismissed along with Ducky following several
scandals, has retained a paid position at the Interior Ministry, Pravda
reported. -- Sharon Fisher

CZECH PREMIER REFUTES 'LOOSE TONGUES.' On his return from a visit to the
U.S., Vaclav Klaus denied a recent report that his position within the
government and his own party had been significantly weakened by the
results of the June elections, Czech media reported on 1 October. "When
I am away, people's tongues loosen up," Klaus said. Klaus said the World
Bank was not alarmed by the Czech trade deficit, which reached 100
billion crowns ($3.7 billion) in August, claiming the trade deficit and
problems in the country's banking sector "are evaluated far more soberly
[in America] than at home." However, World Bank President James
Wolfensohn told CTK that he knew nothing about recent problems in the
Czech banking sector, indicating his meeting with Klaus was of a purely
formal character. Today, the Czech parliament is to discuss setting up a
special committee to investigate the recent collapse of Kreditni banka.
-- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS, INVESTORS DISCUSS ENERGY PRICES. Following a
consultative meeting between top government officials and
representatives of foreign investors in Hungarian electricity and gas-
supply concerns, the government plans to announce an energy-price
increase in late October, Hungarian dailies reported on 1 October.
Foreign investors were outraged on hearing the government's decision
last month to postpone an energy-price hike planned for October until
January 1997. The investors bought into Hungary's energy sector last
year on the strength of a government promise that energy prices would
reflect expenses and ensure an 8% profit by January 1997. In other news,
the government decided to postpone the sale of a further stake of the
national oil and gas company MOL and the privatization of the national
electricity grid until next year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY MEETS. The three members of Bosnia's newly elected
chief executive body met on 30 September at the Hotel Saraj on the road
between Sarajevo and Pale. The international community's High
Representative Carl Bildt and his deputy Michael Steiner welcomed Alija
Izetbegovic, Momcilo Krajisnik, and Kresimir Zubak, but then left the
three to talk alone. Onasa quoted a spokesman as calling the talks
"business-like," but Oslobodjenje referred to a "very good atmosphere"
and Nasa Borba even reported a "friendly atmosphere." The three agreed
that the parliament and presidency would both meet on 5 October, and
that the government would be formed and convened by 30 October,
according to Oslobodjenje. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB RULING PARTY LOSES TWO-THIRDS PARLIAMENT MAJORITY. The
Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) won parliamentary polls in the Republika
Srpska, but with a sharply reduced majority that will not enable it to
overturn decisions of the Bosnian presidency, AFP reported on 30
September. According to results certified by the OSCE, the SDS won 45
seats out of 83 in the Bosnian Serb parliament, down from the 76 seats
it held previously. Either Bosnian entity's parliament can veto the
presidency's decisions, but only with a two-thirds majority. The
parliament is also no longer purely Serb, with 17 Muslim deputies and
one Croat. The Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the leading Muslim
party, is the second largest party in the Bosnian Serb parliament with
14 seats. The Serb opposition Alliance for Peace and Progress is third
with 10 seats. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER URGES DONORS TO KEEP PROMISES. Bosnian Prime
Minister Hasan Muratovic said on 30 September that many international
donors have failed to honor financial pledges to Bosnia-Herzegovina,
warning that there would be no stable peace without financial support,
AFP reported. Muratovic said only 40% of the pledges made at conferences
in December 1995 and April 1996 have been committed to concrete
projects. A World Bank study released the same day showed that nearly
all the $330 million it pledged to make available by 31 December 1996
had been committed. Thirteen World Bank projects are operational in
Bosnia, and 629 contracts with a value of $140 million have been signed
with the bank's financing. Muratovic also appealed for greater support
from the IMF and urged it to appoint a governor for the Bosnian central
bank. -- Daria Sito Sucic

UN TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE WHILE KEEPING ASSETS FROZEN. The
International Contact Group on 30 September issued a draft resolution
calling for the lifting of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, which the
Security Council is expected to approve within days, Reuters reported.
The resolution said the council would consider reimposing sanctions
should the Dayton agreement be broken. Russia would, however, probably
veto such a move. The document will not release Yugoslavia's frozen
assets because of disputes and claims from other Yugoslav successor
states. Also held in abeyance will be Yugoslavia's admittance to the UN
General Assembly and other UN bodies from which it was suspended because
of its disputed legal status. Following a U.S. initiative, British
Foreign Minister Malcolm Rifkind said last week that Western European
states have linked Belgrade's re-entry to financial institutions to
progress on human rights in Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt

MILOSEVIC FAMILY TO FORM COALITION IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS. Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and his
wife Mirjana Markovic's United Yugoslav Left have formed a coalition for
the upcoming 3 November federal parliamentary elections in Serbia and
Montenegro, AFP reported on 1 October. The New Democracy party also
agreed to take part in it. The SPS has a majority in the Serbian
parliament but not in the federal one. -- Fabian Schmidt

MUSLIM LEADER RETURNS TO SANDZAK. Sulejman Ugljanin, president of the
Muslim National Council of Sandzak and leader of the Sandzak SDA arrived
in Belgrade from Zurich on 30 September, AFP reported. In 1993, Ugljanin
left Sandzak--a region divided between Montenegro and Serbia with a
large-ethnic Muslim population--in 1993, after authorities arrested a
large number of SDA activists and issued a warrant for his arrest. Those
arrested were released earlier this year and police gave Ugljanin no
problems on his arrival. Ugljanin said he wants "to help the
democratization of the country" and would lead a coalition of Muslim
parties in the Yugoslav elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

ATTEMPT TO BLOCK ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN TREATY FAILS. A last-ditch attempt
by Romanian nationalists to delay ratification of a basic treaty with
Hungary failed on 30 September, Radio Bucharest reported. The Chamber of
Deputies adopted by a 187 to 19 vote its standing bureau's proposal that
the treaty be debated this week in emergency procedures. Deputies from
the ultra-nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) attacked
the initiative for procedural reasons, saying it had not been previously
approved by the chamber's Legislative Council and Foreign Policy
Commission. They threatened to take the case to the Constitutional
Court. PUNR Deputy Chairman Ioan Gavra accused the chamber's chairman,
Adrian Nastase of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, of
forcing the ratification of a "document that has no applicability
whatsoever, either now or in the future." -- Dan Ionescu

U.S. URGES WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM MOLDOVA. The U.S. Senate is
expected to vote this week on a special resolution demanding that Russia
begin withdrawing its troops from Moldova, BASA-Press and Infotag
reported on 30 September, quoting a press release from the Moldovan
Foreign Ministry. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the
House of Representatives on 26 September, calls for the fulfillment of a
21 October 1994 Moldovan-Russian agreement that provided for the troops'
withdrawal over a three-year period -- an agreement that has never been
ratified by the Russian State Duma. -- Zsolt Mato

BULGARIAN SEEKS EU HELP WITH GRAIN CRISIS. The Bulgarian government is
seeking EU help to deal with the ongoing grain crisis, international
agencies reported. Trade Minister Atanas Paparizov and Agriculture
Minister Krastyo Trendafilov told EU ambassadors on 30 September that
the country needs 450,000 metric tons of grain and 700,000 tons of
fodder, asking for grain shipments and commodity credits under
preferential terms to be repaid in three years. Bulgaria is also
negotiating with Ukraine and Kazakstan. This year's harvest -- about 1.9
million tons -- is the lowest in 10 years. Bread prices have increased
fivefold since the beginning of 1996. Meanwhile, a poll published by
Pari and Reuters showed that only 16% of respondents still trust Prime
Minister Zhan Videnov's government while 67% consider him incompetent.
Some 80% believe the situation will deteriorate in the winter. -- Stefan
Krause

OPPOSITION CANDIDATE FAVORED TO WIN BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. An
opinion poll conducted by BBSS Gallup and published in Pari on 1 October
showed the presidential candidate of the united opposition, Petar
Stoyanov, leading over the candidate of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist
Party, Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, with 29% to 18.6% of decided
voters. Some 12.4% said they will vote for Georges Ganchev of the
Bulgarian Business Bloc, 5.2% named Aleksandar Tomov of the Civic
Alliance for the Republic, and 18.2% were undecided. Should a run-off be
held, 42.8% were decided to vote for Stoyanov over 27.6% for Marazov.
Meanwhile the Supreme Court on 30 September rejected an appeal by former
interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova against the Central Electoral
Commission's decision not to register her for the presidential elections
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 September 1996). Indzhova implied the
decision was politically motivated. -- Stefan Krause

POLIO CLAIMS ELEVENTH VICTIM IN ALBANIA. Over 80 people have been
infected with polio in Albania since April, ten of them within the past
four days, Republika reported on 1 October. Eleven have died. A massive
vaccination campaign of all people up to 50 years old is expected to
start this week. UNICEF officials, however, warned that preparations
were far from complete and that Albania's medical system and staff could
not handle the task, international agencies reported. Polio cases were
also reported in neighboring Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

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