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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 204, Part II, 21 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

UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUSTICES SWORN IN. Following their
official swearing in by parliament on 18 October, the newly appointed
Constitutional Court elected 57-year-old Ivan Tymchenko as chief
justice, Ukrainian agencies reported. Tymchenko, who hails from the
Dnipropetrovsk region, served as President Leonid Kuchma's top legal
advisor until his appointment to the court. The court's 16 members also
elected Vasyl Nimchenko and Vitalii Rozenko as deputy chief justices.
Parliament has yet to appoint two justices to the 18-member body. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT COMPROMISES OVER REFERENDUM DATE. President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka made a concession toward the opposition on 19
October when he agreed to hold his constitutional referendum on 24
November, the date set by parliament, international agencies reported.
The opposition welcomed the move, but said it did not alter the
political crisis. The Constitutional Court had ruled that Lukashenka's
referendum would not be legally binding if it were not held on the date
set by parliament. Also on 19 October, the All-Belarusian Congress,
whose members were chosen by Lukashenka, endorsed the president's draft
constitution and called on parliament to withdraw its version, which
abolishes the presidency, from the ballot. Meanwhile, some 30,000 people
demonstrated in an opposition-organized rally in Minsk against
Lukashenka's referendum. Despite the deployment of large numbers of
security forces, the unsanctioned rally ended peacefully. -- Ustina
Markus

CHERNOMYRDIN: BELARUS MUST REFORM TO INTEGRATE. Speaking at the fifth
meeting of the Russo-Belarusian Community's executive committee, Russian
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin urged Belarus to synchronize its
reforms with Russia's, particularly in the economic field, ITAR-TASS
reported on 17 October. Such a synchronization would require that
Belarus adopt a civil code and a unified tax code and speed up
privatization, he said. Chernomyrdin said that six months after Russia
and Belarus formed the community, their intentions "remain ink on
paper." Although more than 150 experts had worked out the main elements
of reforming the community, he said, no positive results had yet been
achieved. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

EARLY RESULTS FROM ESTONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Preliminary results from
the 2O October local elections show the Reform Party most successful in
Tallinn, with 17.8% of votes and 15 of the city council's 64 seats, ETA
reported on 21 October. The Center Party won 18.1% of the votes in
Tallinn but only 12 council seats, while the Tallinn coalition that
includes the ruling Coalition Party won 12 seats, the Russian Party in
Estonia won 11, the Pro Patria Union and Moderates coalition won 9, and
the United Peoples of Estonia won 5. About 52% of the 882,726 eligible
voters nationwide participated in the elections, in which 11,151
candidates were competing for 3,453 seats in 273 districts. Although the
70,970 noncitizens fulfilling the prior registration requirement was
less than in 1993 elections, their participation rate was still higher
than that of citizens. -- Saulius Girnius

CONSERVATIVES WIN LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. The Homeland Union
(Conservatives of Lithuania) soundly defeated the ruling Democratic
Labor Party in the 2O October Seimas elections, according to preliminary
results reported by Radio Lithuania. The conservatives, however, won
only about a quarter of the votes. Of the 22 other parties running,
three -- the Christian Democratic Party, the Center Union, and the
Social Democratic Party -- appear likely to pass the 5% barrier and
share in the 70 seats distributed by party lists. Most of the 71 single-
mandate races will be settled in the second round of voting on 10
November. However, Homeland Union Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis won in
the Kaunas district. New elections will have to be called in five
districts where less than 40% of voters participated. Low turnout --
about 52% of eligible voters -- doomed the four referenda on the ballot,
which required the support of a majority of eligible voters. -- Saulius
Girnius

POLISH-FRENCH MILITARY COOPERATION. Poland will be granted observer
status at the recently created French-German Armament Agency, Polish and
French defense ministers Stanislaw Dobrzanski and Charles Millon agreed
in Warsaw. Poland might cooperate under the agency's aegis in the
construction of the VBCI armored vehicle, Rzeczpospolita reported.
Dobrzanski and Millon also agreed to establish a team of experts to
discuss cooperation in military aviation and anti-aircraft defense,
while Millon reiterated France's support for Poland's membership in
NATO, Polish dailies reported on 19 October. According to
Rzeczpospolita, a French-equipped "Mirage-2000" F-16, F-18, or Grippen
fighter will compete in a soon-to-be-announced Polish tender. -- Beata
Pasek

CZECH PREMIER WELCOMES JAPANESE INTEREST IN BANK. Vaclav Klaus on 19
October welcomed as "incredibly good news" reports that the Japanese
Bank Nomura, the largest investment bank in the world, is interested in
purchasing a 31.5% stake in the fourth-largest Czech bank, Investicni a
Postovni Banka, Czech media reported. The shares are currently owned by
the state; the purchase would make Nomura the bank's largest
shareholder. The next day, Klaus told Czech TV he had changed his
opinion that the largest Czech banks should be privatized with Czech
capital. Nomura's interest shows that foreign investors are confident
that the Czech banking sector is healthy, he added. In the next few
days, the Czech National Bank will present a document to the government
outlining plans for privatizing the country's four largest banks. --
Jiri Pehe

TROUBLED DIALOGUE BETWEEN CHURCH AND SLOVAK GOVERNMENT. In his regular
interview with Slovak Radio on 18 October, Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar defended his government's policy toward the Roman Catholic Church
in Slovakia, accusing it of being politically activist. "The political
attitudes of some bishops ... are not leading toward consensus, but are
more likely actions leading against a political subject, [against]
governmental or parliamentary institutions," Meciar claimed. Meciar
regretted that the church had "rejected" all of his government's
proposals, including its offer to establish a Catholic university.
Meciar has repeatedly requested that the bishops' conference publish a
recent private letter from the pope, but the bishops have refused to do
so. In other church-related news, during a recent ceremonial opening of
a "memorial room" for Jozef Tiso, Banska Bystrica Bishop Rudolf Balaz
referred to the Nazi-allied Slovak president as an "exceptional and
great person," Slovak press reported on 21 October. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN COALITION REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT. Hungary's ruling
Socialist and Free Democratic parties reaffirmed their support for the
government over the weekend, Hungarian media reported on 19-20 October.
The privatization scandal that earlier this month led to the dismissal
of the privatization, trade, and industry minister and the entire board
of the state privatization company had raised tensions within, and
between, the coalition parties. Following a 20 October meeting, Magda
Kovacs Kosa, vice president of the Socialist Party, said the long-term
need for the coalition was not questioned. Likewise, while the Free
Democrats' National Council on 19 October condemned the irresponsible
use of public funds, party President Ivan Peto said the coalition's
existence was not at issue, nor would it be at the party's November
convention. -- Ben Slay

HUNGARIAN POLL SHOWS AMBIGUOUS ATTITUDES TOWARD 1956 UPRISING. The
majority of 1,854 respondents in a recent Teledirect poll on the 1956
uprising expressed no opinion on the events of 40 years ago, Magyar
Hirlap reported on 21 October. Of the 48% who gave an opinion, most had
only a superficial knowledge of the events and figures involved, the
poll found. Only 10% said the anniversary of the uprising should be
Hungary's most important national holiday, while 55% selected 15 March
(the anniversary of the failed 1848 revolution). According to 43% of
respondents, the events of 1956 were a revolution, while 16% described
them as a fight for freedom and 10% each as a popular uprising and as a
counter-revolution. -- Ben Slay

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS IN DANGER. Republika Srpska President Biljana
Plavsic said on 18 October that the organizers of local elections
scheduled for 23-24 November have attached too many conditions to the
ballot and that the Serbs may boycott, BBC reported. The real reason for
the anger in Pale, however, is most likely that the new election rules
curtail opportunities to manipulate voter registration to pack the
election results in strategic towns (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 October
1996). Meanwhile, in tense northeast Bosnia, IFOR troops discovered a
booby-trap planted in a power station in the formerly Muslim village of
Koraj near Sapna, near the Bosnian interentity border. The Serbs are
suspected of trying to discourage further attempts by Muslims to return
to their homes in the region, Reuters reported on 20 October. Plavsic
called the Muslims' actions -- which are fully in keeping with the
Dayton agreement -- "terrorism along our borders," Onasa noted. --
Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT OPENS. The National Assembly of the Republika
Srpska began its inaugural session in Banja Luka on 19 October,
international and regional media reported. The 83-member body includes
17 Muslims and one Croat, as well as some Serbian opposition deputies,
but 45 of the seats and the legislature's key offices are controlled by
the nationalist Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). The non-Serbs stood for
the Bosnian Serb anthem, but then briefly walked out to protest an oath
of allegiance that involved expressions of loyalty to Orthodox
Christianity, including kissing a Bible and a crucifix. One SDS deputy
charged that it was "pure folklore" to have non-Serbs present, but a
Serbian Socialist deputy reminded him that "this is not a one-party
parliament," AFP reported. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic
said "this is the beginning of a new era of Serb statehood, [but] we are
not completely independent. Our sovereignty is limited, and we have to
respect what was signed." -- Patrick Moore

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN ZAGREB, BELGRADE. In Belgrade on 17 October,
Thedoros Pangalos repeated the Greek view that "the discrimination
against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is no longer justified" and
urged that the country be "completely reintegrated into international
life," AFP and Reuters reported. During his visit, the two sides agreed
to liberalize their visa regimes and slash visa fees, and to start
direct talks aimed at promoting Greek investment in federal Yugoslavia.
The Greek foreign minister and his federal Yugoslav counterpart Milan
Milutinovic also signed a cooperation agreement between their ministries
and discussed regional developments and bilateral cooperation. Pangalos
also met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, federal Prime
Minister Radoje Kontic, and Serb Patriarch Pavle. The next day in
Zagreb, Pangalos met with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and signed
agreements on protection and promotion of investments, preventing double
taxation, and road traffic with his Croatian counterpart Mate Granic. --
Stefan Krause

SERBIAN JOURNALIST 'BEATEN BRUTALLY.' The opposition Serbian Renewal
Movement (SPO), led by Vuk Draskovic, alleged on 18 October that Milovan
Brkic, a journalist and SPO candidate in Belgrade's civic elections, had
been "beaten brutally" by police authorities, Beta reported. According
to an SPO statement, Brkic had published reports in Srpska rec that the
governing authorities found objectionable, prompting them "to assault
Brkic." According to the statement, "[they] broke a couple of his ribs,
ruptured his spleen, and inflicted a variety of other injuries to his
person." The SPO claimed that police repression and violence "picks up"
during elections, and that while "this time Milovan Brkic was the
victim, tomorrow it could be any Serbian citizen who disagrees with the
ruling powers." -- Stan Markotich

BULATOVIC INSISTS PREVLAKA BE HANDED TO MONTENEGRO. "Even though Croatia
will still not admit it publicly, a legal, just, and final fixing [of
borders] with Montenegro includes Prevlaka's becoming part of the
natural [Montenegrin] hinterland, a result that is even in Croatia's own
interests," Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic told an election rally
in Herceg Novi for the ruling Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) on 18
October, Nasa Borba reported. The disputed Prevlaka peninsula belongs to
Croatia but is claimed by Belgrade and controls the federal Yugoslav
navy's access to the sea. At the same rally, Montenegrin parliamentary
speaker Svetozar Marovic said a vote for the DPS on 3 November would be
a ballot for a strong Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and "a life
together ... [with] the citizens of Serbia." -- Stan Markotich

INCUMBENT PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION PARTY LEAD IN ROMANIAN OPINION POLL.
Incumbent President Ion Iliescu continues to lead in voter preferences
in the upcoming presidential race while the opposition Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR) is preferred in the parliamentary contest,
according to the second of three public opinion polls planned by the
IMAS polling agency before elections on 3 November. Iliescu was backed
by 31.9%, followed by CDR candidate Emil Constantinescu (27.2%) and
Social Democratic Union (USD) candidate Petre Roman (21.9%), Romanian
media reported on 20-21 October. But the CDR scored 31.2% in voter
preferences for parliament, followed by the ruling Party of Social
Democracy in Romania (28.5%) and the USD (19.7%). More than a quarter of
respondents (26.8%) were either undecided or did not intend to vote. In
other news, Evenimentul zilei asked the prosecutor's office to
investigate a report it had published that three minor presidential
candidates -- former Defense Minister Nicolae Militaru, the wonder-
healer Constantin Mudava, and Pensioners' Party candidate George Muntean
-- submitted partly faked lists of supporting signatures. -- Michael
Shafir

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ENDS NATO-COUNTRIES TOUR. Romanian Defense
Minister Gheorghe Tinca ended a five-day tour of Norway, Germany, and
Denmark on 21 October, the latest stage of Romania's "NATO offensive"
aimed at boosting the country's chances of admission in the "first wave"
of NATO enlargement. Tinca delivered messages from President Ion Iliescu
to the NATO-member countries' chiefs of state and premiers, Romanian
media reported. The official governmental daily Vocea Romaniei cited
presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 18 October saying reactions
received from NATO countries so far are "encouraging." -- Michael Shafir
and Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT HOPES TO DISMISS GOVERNMENT AFTER ELECTIONS.
Incumbent President Mircea Snegur confirmed on 18 October that if re-
elected he will try to dismiss the government headed by rival candidate
Andrei Sangheli, Infotag reported. If parliament refuses to dismiss the
government, Snegur said, he will call a referendum on the question.
According to a poll conducted by Chisinau University's Sociology
Department, Snegur is leading in voter preferences with 41.8% support to
parliament chairman Petru Lucinschi's 33.7% and Sangheli's 10.6%. Also
on 18 October, the Central Electoral Commission finalized the list of
nine candidates for the 17 November presidential elections. Earlier, the
Supreme Court had overruled the commission's refusal to register
Maricica Levitschi as a candidate. -- Michael Shafir

PARTY PRESS AGITATE FOR BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. One week
before the 27 October presidential elections, propaganda is increasingly
substituted for information in the party media. In a 21 October
commentary, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) daily Duma wrote: "What
is good for the [Union of Democratic Forces (SDS)] is bad for Bulgaria."
Zemya, a daily close to the BSP, contended that the BSP candidate,
Culture Minister Ivan Marazov, was supported by Bulgarian intellectuals,
while the SDS daily Demokratsiya claimed that thousands of intellectuals
support the united opposition's candidate, Petar Stoyanov, and accused
Marazov of being unable to find winning moves and of making obvious
blunders. Meanwhile, in a Fact agency survey published in Standart,
every third respondent said Marazov cannot completely substitute for the
BSP's original candidate, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, who was
banned from the race by the Constitutional Court because he was not born
a Bulgarian citizen. -- Maria Koinova

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS CLAIM VICTORY IN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Albanian President
Sali Berisha claimed victory at a rally in front of Tirana's Democratic
Party headquarters after local elections on 20 October, AFP reported.
Early estimates gave the Democrats 55% of the overall vote. According to
the Voice of America the party won about 60% in the cities of Durres and
Tirana. Final results are not expected until 23 October. In the 1992
local elections the Socialist opposition won in the countryside but lost
in the cities. The turnout is estimated at around 70%. Deutsche Welle's
Albanian service reported that by noon only 30%-40% of eligible voters
had voted, which is low compared to previous elections. Council of
Europe (CE) observers said there had been no reports of serious
incidents or "dramatic occurrences," Reuters reported. The CE
coordinated 365 international observers. The OSCE withdrew from
observing the elections after Albanian authorities refused to accredit
all its monitors. -- Fabian Schmidt

BOTH SIDES CLAIM IRREGULARITIES IN ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The ruling
Democratic Party and opposition Socialists waged a war of faxes on 20
October, denouncing each other for alleged irregularities in the local
elections, especially in rural areas and smaller towns, Reuters
reported. According to the Democrats, their leader in one northern
district, Ferik Veliu, was stabbed by a supporter of the Socialists, Pal
Ndreka. Elsewhere, the Socialists claimed police had forced their way
into voting booths and tampered with ballot boxes in two or three
polling stations, while the Democrats accused Socialist supporters of
intimidating voters. According to ATSH the Socialists claimed fraud in
Fier and Lezha, where they said election material was strictly
controlled by the chairmen of the election commission, who were
Democrats. The Democratic Alliance also protested that Democratic Party
election commission members elsewhere refused to cooperate with the
opposition. -- Dukagjin Gorani

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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