The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 202, Part II, 17 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

LAWMAKERS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. Two Socialist
deputies were on hunger strike for the fourth day, refusing to leave the
parliament building in Kyiv until the body's leadership reviews their
demands of raising public-sector wages and pensions, Radio Ukraine
reported on 16 October. Natalia Vitrenko and Volodymyr Marchenko, the
outspoken leaders of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, accused
the parliament's leaders of violating their rights as legislators by
ignoring their proposals to amend the law on wages and pensions, pay off
wage arrears, and amend the tax code. They also claim the economic
program approved by the legislature on 15 October is unconstitutional
and violates social and labor laws. Meanwhile, the parliament approved a
slight increase in the official poverty line to 70.9 hryvnyas ($40)
monthly effective 1 January. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk told
lawmakers that raising the level any higher could increase inflation. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

NEW CRIMEAN SPEAKER PAYS FIRST VISIT TO KYIV. In his first consultations
with Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv since his recent appointment as Crimean
parliamentary speaker, Vasyl Kyselyov discussed the draft Crimean
Constitution, the regional budget, taxes, and the ongoing resettlement
of previously deported ethnic groups in the region, Radio Ukraine
reported on 16 October. Kyselyov, who met with President Leonid Kuchma,
Parliamentary Speaker Oleksander Moroz, and Prime Minister Pavlo
Lazarenko, agreed to encourage his assembly to take constructive steps
toward a resolution of conflicts over these issues between Kyiv and
Simferopol. In other news, the Crimean government switched the region
one hour back from Moscow to Kyiv time and ordered all transport and
businesses to change their schedules to the new time immediately. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with Russian
President Boris Yeltsin in the Barvikha sanatorium outside of Moscow on
16 October, international agencies reported. Lukashenka said the purpose
of the visit was to boost the integration process, which had begun to
decline. He said he did not come as a president, but as the chairman of
the Russian-Belarusian Community. NTV said the real reason behind the
visit was Lukashenka's desire to appear to have Moscow's backing in the
run-up to the constitutional referendum in Belarus. Lukashenka also met
with Patriarch Aleksii II and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. He
admonished the Russian press for misreporting on the situation in
Belarus, and assured journalists that the remaining nuclear missiles in
Belarus would be removed to Russia by the end of the year. He also
denied that he was blackmailing the West with the weapons. -- Ustina
Markus

RALLIES, ARRESTS IN BELARUS. Ten miners' union leaders were arrested in
Belarus when they began a protest march from Saliyorsk to Minsk because
of poor work conditions and low wages, RFE/RL reported on 16 October.
The miners meant to walk more than 100 kilometers to Minsk and
participate in a rally against President Lukashenka's proposed
constitutional referendum. Parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky said
he was concerned about the possibility of violence on 19 October, the
day Lukashenka's new constitution is to be debated by a 5,000-member
"All Belarusian Congress." The opposition is planning to stage a massive
protest demonstration the same day. Deputy parliamentary speaker Yuryi
Malumau tendered his resignation on 15 October, Belapan reported, citing
fears of unrest because of parliament's failure to compromise with
Lukashenka. In other news, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October that the
Communist Party -- one of Belarus's largest parties -- had split into
factions under Viktar Chikin, who supports the president, and Syarhei
Kalyakin, allied to parties that oppose the president. -- Ustina Markus

LATVIA PROTESTS RUSSIAN WAR SHIPS OFF ITS SHORE. The Latvian Foreign
Ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Rannikh to Riga on 16
October to express concern about the anchoring of three Russian warships
in Latvia's exclusive economic zone, BNS reported. Although ships are
not banned from entering such territories and informing the country
involved is not compulsory, Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary
Maris Riekstins said that doing so would help create greater stability
between the two countries. The ships were the recently built nuclear-
powered cruiser Peter the Great, an anti-submarine ship, and a tug boat,
and were on their way from St. Petersburg to the naval base in
Kaliningrad. Later that day, a Swedish Viggen jet crashed into the sea
while carrying out radar reconnaissance over the ships. -- Saulius
Girnius

COMMISSION STRENGTHENS POLISH PRESIDENT'S VETO. The Sejm will in the
future need a two-thirds majority to overrule a presidential veto,
rather than an absolute majority, the parliament's Constitutional
Commission decided on 16 October, Polish media reported. Kazimierz
Janik, a deputy from the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance and
undersecretary in President Aleksander Kwasniewski's chancellery, moved
for the amendment to the commission's draft constitution, arguing it was
necessary if the president's veto is to have any practical meaning. The
weaker presidential veto was decided when Kwasniewski presided over the
commission and Lech Walesa was president. Majorities of both the
governing coalition's and opposition's members on the commission voted
for the change. -- Jakub Karpinski

CIVIL SERVICE COUNCIL CREATED IN POLAND. Polish Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz appointed 24 politicians, civil servants, and
academics on 16 October to form a new Civil Service Council, Polish
media reported. Opposition politicians complained that the majority of
politicians appointed are from the ruling coalition. Government Office
Chief Leszek Miller rejected the accusations and said the council will
be above politics. The recently adopted law on civil service proclaims
the body's apolitical character. The council will pronounce opinions on
civil servants' professional ethics and advise on the criteria for their
evaluation and promotion. The prime minister will soon appoint the civil
service chief who the laws says should be apolitical; however, in the
first years after the law's adoption the chief may be appointed from
among political party members. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH GOVERNMENT WILL HELP SMALL BANKS. The Czech government agreed on
16 October to set up a state company that will buy bad loans from small
banks. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists the creation of the
company is not a temporary solution to the problems faced by small
banks; the company is to function from five to seven years. Klaus said
the banks will not be forced to sell bad debts to the company; the
relationship will be voluntary. He said the program is designed to
stabilize small banks, which the government hopes will be able to buy
back their loans when they recover. Ten small banks have collapsed in
the last three years. -- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARY'S FREE DEMOCRATS THREATEN TO QUIT COALITION. Ivan Peto, leader
of the junior coalition party Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) said on
16 October that unless there is a major improvement in the functioning
of the coalition, its dissolution should be raised at his party's
November convention, Hungarian dailies reported. The coalition crisis
stems from the recent privatization scandal; also, the SZDSZ resented
Socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn's announcement, without prior
consultation, of his candidates for two new ministers to replace the
recently sacked privatization minister. Meanwhile, opposition
Smallholders chairman Jozsef Torgyan asked Horn to call a vote of
confidence on himself and his cabinet. In other news, ongoing
investigation of the scandal revealed that the former chief executive
officer of the state privatization agency stopped an internal
investigation into the affair in May, on orders of Imre Szokai, then
chairman of the agency's board. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN SARAJEVO. Theodoros Pangalos announced in
Sarajevo on 16 October that Greece will open an embassy in the Bosnian
capital this month and pledged $7 million in aid to Bosnian
reconstruction programs, international media reported. During the visit,
Pangalos met with Bosnian Presidency Chairman Alija Izetbegovic, Prime
Minister Hasan Muratovic, and Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic. Greece,
which has traditionally close ties with the Serbs and during the war in
Bosnia had almost no contacts with the Bosnian government, will in the
future meet only with representatives of the republican government,
Pangalos announced, saying that meetings with Bosnian Serb
representatives "will not be necessary in the future." Pangalos will
also visit Zagreb and Belgrade for talks with Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He will brief Athens'
partners in the European Union and the United States about his talks. --
Stefan Krause

BOSNIAN SERB CHILDREN WOUNDED IN SHOOTING. Two Bosnian Serb children
were shot while riding on a bus on the road between Ugljevik and Priboj
on 15 October, AFP reported. They were sent home after treatment. On the
same section of road in northeast Bosnia, a bullet also hit a Republika
Srpska police car, but it was not clear if anyone was injured. The area
is very near the inter-entity border and in a region where tensions are
high as Muslims try to return to their homes now under Serb control. UN
police are investigating the incident. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Bosnian
officials said the three-man presidency will finally meet next week,
Oslobodjenje reported on 17 October. The time and the crucial issue of
place have yet to be determined, however. -- Patrick Moore

OSCE DEFENDS POSITION ON ELECTION FOLLOW-UP IN BOSNIA. Franz Egle, a
spokesman for OSCE President Flavio Cotti, said the organization was
fulfilling its obligations in Bosnia "100%," AFP reported. He was
responding to Carl Bildt, the international community's high
representative for Bosnia, who disputed a recent OSCE decision that it
had neither the mandate nor the structures to install elected officials
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 October 1996). According to Egle, the OSCE's
mandate is to oversee the preparation and holding of elections, and if
the agency is to do anything else, its mandate should be changed. Egle
added that Cotti believes local elections should be held in the spring
instead of November, as currently scheduled. Robert Frowick, the head of
the OSCE's mission in Bosnia, is expected to make a final decision this
week. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN OPPOSITION WALKS OUT OF PARLIAMENT. Some 40 opposition deputies
walked out of the Sabor on 16 October to protest the lack of media
coverage. They want parliament debates to be broadcast live on
television and radio, arguing that the state-run electronic media have
cut them off from all direct contact with the public, Vecernji list
reported. The opposition particularly want voters to hear current
discussions on key financial issues, including one on state reserves of
commodities. The press recently uncovered a scandal involving officials
from the governing party withholding reserves of wheat from the market.
This considerably forced up prices in a country where at least one-fifth
of the population lives below the poverty level and most of the rest
have difficulty making ends meet. Novi List wrote on 17 October that one
Croatian citizen in four goes hungry. -- Patrick Moore

YUGOSLAV ARMY CHIEF TRIED IN ABSENTIA IN CROATIA. A Croatian court was
to begin the trial in absentia on 17 October of Momcilo Perisic, the
current head of the federal Yugoslav army, for the bombardment of the
Adriatic port of Zadar, Novi List reported. The Zadar regional tribunal
will try Perisic and 18 other former Yugoslav army officers on war-
crimes charges for allegedly ordering artillery attacks on the town in
which 30 civilians were killed and dozens injured. Zagreb opposition
figures and diplomats speculate that the trial could be the result of a
deal between Zagreb and Belgrade, to help distance Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic from military officials he was previously close to,
AFP reported on 16 October. Stipe Mesic, president of the Croatian
Independent Democrats, said the trial could be "a present" from Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman to Milosevic ahead of elections in Serbia and
Montenegro. In other news, a group of 53 refugees is to return to
Croatia from Serbia under the auspices of the UN high commissioner for
refugees, Politika and AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA, ITALY AGREE ON MINORITY PROTECTION. Croatian Deputy Foreign
Minister Ivan Simonovic and his Italian counterpart Piero Fassimo agreed
on 16 October to sign an agreement on minority rights next month,
Croatian media reported. Fassimo said he hopes that after the agreement
is signed, the Croatian government will pass a bill on bilingual
education, Novi List reported on 17 October. Fassimo also took part in
an Italian delegation's talks in Zagreb on the strengthening and
promotion of political relations between the two countries and on
Italian investments in Croatia. A joint business commission on 17
October is to draw up contracts on avoiding double taxation and on
stimulating investments in the fields of tourism, energy supplies, and
fishery, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER FACES NEW CRIMINAL CHARGES. Belgrade
prosecutor Svetozar Vujacic has filed criminal charges against the
leader of the Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, Radio B92 reported on 15
November. According to Vujacic, Djindjic had slurred Slobodan Milosevic
while addressing a crowd of about 6,000 during a 10 October election
campaign rally in Vranje, calling the Serbian President a "sick man."
Vujacic charged Djindjic with insulting the president and defaming
Serbia's reputation. On 20 September, Djindjic received a four-month
suspended sentence after being found guilty of libeling Serbian Premier
Mirko Marjanovic in an advertisement placed in Nedeljni Telegraf (See
OMRI Daily Digest, 23 September 1996). -- Stan Markotich.

ROMANIA GETS WESTERN LOANS. A group of European banks will loan $175
million to Romania, RFE/RL and Romanian television reported on 16
October. The loan agreement, signed in London by Romanian National Bank
Governor Mugur Isarescu, calls for the loans to be repaid over three
years. Isarescu said the loan is aimed at helping Romania pay its $7
billion foreign debt while keeping foreign-currency reserves at a high
enough level to maintain imports. In 1996, Romania has received over
$1.4 billion in foreign aid and loans. In other news, RFE/RL reported
that oil giants Shell and Agip are criticizing Romania's privatization
policy. In an open letter to the newly founded oil company ROC, which
has a legal monopoly on distribution in Romania, the two foreign
companies assert discriminatory practices affecting private investors
and warn that they could jeopardize future investments. -- Michael
Shafir

BULGARIA, RUSSIA, DISCUSS STRENGTHENING MILITARY TIES. In meetings with
top Bulgarian officials on 15-16 October, Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov, chief
of Russia's General Staff, discussed the possibility of closer ties in
the fields of military and technological cooperation, including the
possibility of joint manufacture of military hardware, ITAR-TASS and
Bulgarian media reported. Kolesnikov met with Prime Minister Zhan
Videnov, President Zhelyu Zhelev, and Parliament Speaker Blagovest
Sendov. Before the talks, Kolesnikov said that "no spectacular results
should be expected" from his visit. Kolesnikov said Bulgaria will
receive spare parts for its military planes worth $48 million by the end
of the year as partial payment of Moscow's $100 million debt to
Bulgaria. Russian Duma Deputy Chairman Mikhail Yuryev, heading a
separate delegation in Sofia, told Zhelev that Russia will repay the
debt by the end of 1996. A Bulgarian official said Zhelev and Kolesnikov
had not discussed Bulgaria's potential inclusion in NATO, which Zhelev
favors. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST SUSPECTED TERRORISTS. Police arrested 14 people
on 15-16 October suspected of committing 26 crimes, including the murder
of General Prison Director Bujar Kaloshi and a bomb attack on a Tirana
supermarket in February, in which four people died and 27 were injured.
Interior Minister Halit Shamata also charged them with planing to
assassinate President Sali Berisha by blasting a bridge, Dita
Informacion reported on 17 October. The group was allegedly led by three
sons of communist-era secret police chief Hajredin Shyti -- Orik,
Roland, and Leart -- and called itself "Revenge of Justice," AFP
reported. Hajredin Shyti was sentenced in December 1992 to 17 years in
prison in connection with the killings of pro-democracy protesters in
1991. Police also seized a machine gun, several hand and anti-tank
grenades, pistols, and mines. The police action came days before 20
October local elections, and followed pro-government media reports
suggesting that the orders for the terrorist acts were given by members
of the communist nomenclature currently imprisoned in Tepelena -- where
Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano is serving a prison term. Among those
arrested was Klement Koloneci, the son-in-law of late communist dictator
Enver Hoxha. -- Fabian Schmidt

ODIHR PULLS OUT OF ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The OSCE's Office for
Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced on 16 October
that it will not send observers to Albania's local elections, AFP
reported. The Foreign Ministry had granted only 15 of the ODIHR's
requested 37 accreditations. The ODIHR said the number of observers
attending an election "is not a matter for negotiation with the host
government," adding that otherwise it "could not mount a viable
observation effort." Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu said the lower number
of observers approved by the ministry "does not mean we are opposed to
ODIHR taking part in the monitoring of the elections," but admitted
there was a "crisis of confidence." The ODIHR issued a highly critical
report after parliamentary elections on 26 May. The Council of Europe
Parliamentary Assembly, the U.S., and Italy will be sending observers.
-- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

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