Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 207, Part II, 24 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

CORRECTION: In issue 206 of the OMRI Daily Digest, Vytautas Landsbergis
and Gediminas Vagnorius were incorrectly identified as president and
chairman of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania),
respectively. Their correct titles are chairman and board chairman of
that party.

UKRAINIAN NAVAL COMMANDERS RESIGN OVER BLACK SEA FLEET. On the eve of
President Leonid Kuchma's visit to Moscow, the Black Sea Fleet issue is
provoking strong reactions in Ukraine, international agencies reported
on 23 October. Ukrainian naval commander Volodymyr Bezkorovainy, his
first deputy, Mykola Kostrov, and deputy naval commander Oleksandr
Ryzhenko have all tendered their resignations, which have been accepted
by Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk. Russian Public TV speculated that
they resigned because of concessions Kyiv has made over the fleet. --
Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN REACTIONS TO RUSSIAN DUMA VOTE ON FLEET. Parliamentary speaker
Oleksander Moroz has said the Russian Duma vote to halt the division of
the fleet has no legal force in Ukraine, Ukrainian and international
agencies reported on 23 October. He said he agreed with the parliament's
statement that if the Duma tried to enforce that vote, Ukraine should
insist on the immediate withdrawal of the fleet from Ukraine, At the
same time, National Security Advisor Volodymyr Horbulin said Russia and
Ukraine have never been so close to resolving the fleet dispute.
President Kuchma said the vote could have a negative effect on Russian-
Ukrainian relations, but his spokesman Dmytro Markov said it would not
influence his meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on
24 October. -- Ustina Markus

CRIMEANS PROTEST UKRAINIAN BAN ON RUSSIAN TV. Some 200 people picketed
the Crimean parliament to protest the recent ban on Russian Public TV
broadcasts in Ukraine, Ukrainian media reported on 23 October. Crimean
deputies warned the move could lead to a significant deterioration in
the situation on the peninsula. The Crimean government has requested
that Kyiv maintain Russian broadcasting in Crimea, while the Ukrainian
government alleges that Russian Public TV has run up a large debt for
broadcasting in Ukraine. Russian radio programs were squeezed out of
Ukraine in 1993. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

LUKASHENKA SAYS HE HAS SUPPORT OF BELARUSIAN PEOPLE. Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Luakshenka told Russian Public TV on 22 October
that he has the support of the Belarusian people and that the communists
will not be able to take over the presidency because of divisions among
themselves. He claimed that 120 out of a total of 199 deputies attended
the recent All Belarusian Congress and that all but two supported his
position. Lukashenka also denied having praised Hitler, claiming his
comments had been twisted by journalists. -- Ustina Markus

CONSTRUCTION OF YAMAL GAS PIPELINE STARTED IN BELARUS. Work has begun in
Belarus on part of a 4,000 km pipeline connecting the Yamal peninsula
with Hamburg, Germany, Vremya reported on 23 October. Estimated to cost
$40 billion, the pipeline will transport natural gas from Russia to
Western Europe. Two 575 km pipelines are to be built in Belarus.
President Lukashenka has expressed the hope that the project will
strengthen economic cooperation between Russia and Belarus and help
improve relations between his country and Gazprom. Belarus currently
owes the Russian gas company some $300 million. Meanwhile, the
Parliamentary Assembly of Russia and Belarus convened in Moscow on 24
October. Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev emphasized that development of
relations between the two parliaments is essential for the integration
of the two nations. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

LATVIAN, ESTONIAN PRESIDENTS ISSUE JOINT DECLARATION. Guntis Ulmanis and
Lennart Meri, meeting in Riga on 23 October, signed a joint declaration
stressing the need to deepen cooperation to achieve their common
strategic goals of membership in NATO and the EU, BNS reported. The
declaration called for setting up a Baltic customs union, forming joint
border-crossing points, and coordinating activities in fighting
organized crime, illegal migration, weapons and drugs smuggling, and
money laundering. This was the first official state visit by an Estonian
president to Latvia since the re-establishment of the countries'
independence. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS STATEMENT ON LATVIAN OIL LICENSING
CONTRACT. The Seimas on 23 October unanimously adopted a statement
declaring as illegal the licensing contract between Latvia and the AMOCO
and OPAB oil companies for exploring off-shore oil deposits, BNS
reported. It stated that Latvia would violate Lithuania's rights to its
continental shelf, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the
Final Act of the 1975 Helsinki Conference if it ratified the contract.
Until an agreement with Latvia is reached on delimiting the sea border,
Lithuania will insist that it has sovereign rights to the sea territory
south of a straight line extending west from the point where the two
countries' borders converge on the Baltic Sea coast. The Latvian
parliament, however, ratified the contract on 24 October. -- Saulius
Girnius

ABORTION LAW LIBERALIZED IN POLAND. The Sejm on 24 October voted by 228
to 195 with 16 abstentions in favor of a bill allowing an abortion
before the 12th week if the woman has financial or personal problems,
Polish media reported. Fifty percent plus one of the votes were needed
to reject the Senate veto of the draft law earlier this month. Under a
1993 law, abortions were allowed only if a pregnancy threatened a
woman's life or health or resulted from incest or rape. They could also
be performed if a fetus was irreparably damaged. President Aleksander
Kwasniewski has promised to sign the liberalized bill into law. More
than 30,000 people marched in Warsaw on 23 October to protest the
liberalization of the law. Opinion polls show that Polish society is
almost equally divided over the legalization of abortion. -- Jakub
Karpinski

POLISH PARLIAMENT ON RESPONSIBILITY FOR MARTIAL LAW. The Sejm has
rejected a motion to have officials responsible for the introduction in
1981 of martial law appear before the State Tribunal, Polish dailies
reported on 24 October. The former communist Democratic Left Alliance
deputies' supported the proposal to halt the proceedings. The majority
of deputies belonging to the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party abstained,
while the remainder voted against the motion. Solidarity Electoral
Action, which is not represented in the Sejm, criticized the Sejm's
decision. It announced that it would seek to resume the proceedings
following the fall 1997 parliamentary elections. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH POLICE CHARGE 25 PEOPLE WITH BANK FRAUD. A spokesman for the Czech
Internal Affairs Ministry on 24 October told journalists that 25 people
have been charged with defrauding 10 Czech banks of millions of crowns
in unsecured loans from 1992-1994. The spokesman refused to name the
banks but said the credits ranged from 5 million crowns to 450 million
crowns ($16.5 million). He put total losses at "hundreds of millions of
crowns" but declined to offer further details on how the frauds were
carried out. Among those charged are businessmen, former professional
soldiers, former policemen, and former prison officers. The ministry's
Division for Investigation of Organized Crime had been investigating the
bank frauds for more than a year. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT RE-APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL LAWS. Ignoring vetoes by
President Michal Kovac, the parliament on 23 October re-approved
legislation on universities and prosecution, Slovak media and Reuters
reported. The first of those two laws was criticized for increasing the
Education Ministry's control over academic affairs, while the second
leaves the prosecutor's office unsupervised, allowing for political
abuse of power. Kovac is now obliged to sign the laws, but they can be
taken to the Constitutional Court. -- Sharon Fisher

DANUBE RIVER ACCIDENT HALTS TRAFFIC. Austrian officials on 23 October
announced that the Danube will be closed between Vienna and Bratislava
for several days following a barge accident the previous evening,
international media reported. Eight Slovaks are believed dead after
their tug boat pulling a barge collided with a dam and sank. One person
survived and was taken to the hospital. The accident occurred during
strong winds and currents on the river, which was swollen by heavy rain
in Germany and Austria. The exact cause of the accident is unclear, but
police have ruled out engine failure. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIANS COMMEMORATE 1956 UPRISING. Low-key celebrations were held
throughout Hungary on 23 October to commemorate the 40th anniversary of
the anti-Soviet uprising, Hungarian and international media reported.
Some 1,000 people stood outside the parliament as President Arpad Goncz
lit a flame that will burn until 4 November, the day the rebellion was
crushed. The mood of the crowds was far from festive, with veterans of
the uprising complaining about the difficult economic situation. Many
Hungarians have grown apathetic about the 1956 events, and young people
in particular stayed away. Meanwhile, several hundred neo-Nazis gathered
in Budapest on 23 October, calling for Hungarian Jews to be resettled in
Israel. The skinheads also demanded the re-nationalization of banks and
firms "privatized by foreigners" and the ousting of "anti-Hungarian
politicians," AFP reported. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SUSPENDED. Arpad Kovacs, the nominee for
chairman of the board of the state privatization company APV, announced
on 22 October that privatization is to be suspended following a recent
scandal involving controversial payments to consultant Marta Tocsik,
Hungarian media reported two days later. Addressing the parliament's
Economic Committee, Kovacs promised radical changes in the work of the
board--including more openness --and noted that privatization should be
completed by 1998. The committee unanimously supported Kovacs's
nomination. Also on 22 October, Prime Minister Gyula Horn told Hungarian
TV that he is willing to give up his post if an appropriate replacement
is found. Stating his commitment to completing the transformation
process, Horn emphasized the benefits of privatization. He also stressed
that the Tocsik case is not a privatization scandal and denied the
Socialist Party's involvement. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERBS WILL NOT EXTEND OSCE MANDATE. Republika Srpska President
Biljana Plavsic told U.S. envoy John Kornblum that Pale will not agree
that the OSCE's mission for organizing elections be extended into next
year for the local vote, Nasa Borba reported on 24 October. Kornblum
said he will nonetheless try to persuade the Serbs to change their mind,
adding that he is also concerned "about a continuing record of less than
full implementation of the [peace] process" by the Republika Srpska,
Reuters noted on 23 October. Plavsic also met with Russian Deputy
Foreign Minister Nikolai Afansievskii and the head of the Russian
mission to Bosnia, Yakov Gerasimov. Afansievskii said that "Russia has a
positive stance toward the Republika Srpska's efforts to settle
relations with the Bosnian Federation peacefully," while Plavsic praised
"our traditional friends, the Russians," Onasa stated. Finally, Nasa
Borba discusses widespread but unconfirmed reports that Plavsic has
sacked Gens. Ratko Mladic, Milan Gvero, and Momir Talic, together with
some 80 other top officers, in the latest chapter of the long-standing
dispute between the Bosnian Serb civilian and military leaderships. --
Patrick Moore

BILDT REASSURES NATO AFTER POSTPONEMENT OF BOSNIA VOTE. High
Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt told NATO on 23 October that the
postponement of the Bosnian municipal elections does not mean that IFOR
needs to remain at full strength beyond the end of its mandate on 20
December, AFP reported. Bildt mentioned the possibility of bringing in
some troops for a limited period. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said on 22
October that the U.S. forces plan to pull out of Bosnia by mid March,
despite the vote postponement. A Pentagon spokesman said that since the
elections will not be held in November, as previously scheduled, it is
possible that the withdrawal of U.S. forces will be accelerated. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana said NATO will stay at full strength in
Bosnia until the end of the year. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST "FIVE TERRORISTS." Five members of the
ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) have been arrested on
charges of arms and munitions possession, Tanjug reported on 22 October.
They are also suspected of carrying out terrorist acts, including the
November 1994 bombing of a bridge on the Sombor-Bezdan road. Four of the
five are from Sombor, in Vojvodina, and were apprehended in possession
of a large number of weapons, including a hand-held rocket launcher and
55 land mines. Until mid-1993, the SRS and the ruling Socialists were
political allies. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had called SRS
leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj "my favorite opposition
leader." -- Stan Markotich

SERBIA, MONTENEGRO ELECTION UPDATE. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's
electoral commission says a total of 7,597,504 voters have registered to
take part in the 3 November elections, Nasa Borba reported on 23
October. Of those, 448,325 are registered in Montenegro. A total of 812
candidates are vying for 138 seats in the federal legislature.
Meanwhile, Beta on 22 October reported that Foreign Minister Milan
Milutinovic has requested that OSCE election observers register with
Yugoslav embassies by 30 October. -- Stan Markotich

W.H.O. FINDS NO EXPLANATION FOR MYSTERIOUS
DISEASE AMONG ALBANIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN IN MACEDONIA. A group of WHO
experts has issued a report on its investigation into a mysterious
illness contracted by 1,000 ethnic Albanian school children in Tetovo.
Some 600 had to be hospitalized for up to three days. The team conducted
various tests but found no evidence of infection or poisoning to explain
the illness, which causes headaches, stomach and muscle pains, breathing
difficulties, and dizziness, AFP reported. Albanian political parties
have alleged that Macedonians tried to poison the children. -- Fabian
Schmidt

POLLS ON ROMANIAN ELECTIONS. An opinion poll conducted by the Center for
Urban and Regional Sociology (CURS) on 22 October shows incumbent
President Ion Iliescu in the lead before the 3 November presidential
elections. Iliescu has 33.5% of popular support, the Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR) candidate Emil Constantinescu 27%, and the
Social Democratic Union (USD) candidate Petre Roman 22.5%. The CURS poll
shows the opposition CDR leading in the parliamentary contest, with
31.%. The ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) follows
with 27.2%, and the USD with 18.1%. But a poll conducted by the rival
IRSOP institute suggests the PDSR is ahead in the parliamentary race
(31%), followed by the CDR (21%) and by the USD (13%). It also says
Iliescu has 36% of popular support, Constantinescu 21%, and Roman 19%.
Cronica romana explains the divergence by noting that the CURS poll was
financed by the Soros Foundation and the IRSOP poll secretly
commissioned by the PDSR. -- Michael Shafir

OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE ON ANTI-FRAUD PACT. Several opposition parties
are to sign a pact aimed at preventing electoral fraud by the ruling
Party of Social Democracy in Romania, Romanian TV reported on 23
October. The signatories will be the Democratic Convention of Romania,
the Social Democratic Union, the National Liberal Alliance, the Liberal-
Ecologist Alliance, the National Centrist Union and the National Party
of Car Drivers. Other formations are welcome to join, according to a
statement by the pact's initiators. -- Michael Shafir

RUSSIAN TROOP COMMANDER OPPOSES DNIESTER AMMUNITION RECYCLING. Lt. Gen.
Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian troops deployed in the
breakaway Dniester region, has said the building of an ammunition
recycling plant is not economically expedient, Infotag reported on 23
October. Yevnevich proposed instead that the ammunition stock be
transferred to Russia and sold to "interested countries." The earnings,
he added, should be shared between Moldova, the "Dniester Republic,"
Russia, and, as a transit country, Ukraine. Meanwhile, Moldovan Premier
Andrei Sangheli on 23 October met Dniester leader Igor Smirnov in
Tiraspol, BASA-Press reported. The two discussed the possible
participation of Dniester residents in the 17 November Moldovan
presidential elections, which Tiraspol has so far opposed. -- Zsolt Mato

BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UPDATE. Novinar, citing three opinion
polls, has predicted that the united opposition candidate, Petar
Stoyanov, will be Bulgaria's next president. The daily said on 23
October that Stoyanov will win if he runs against the Bulgarian
Socialist Party's presidential candidate, Cultural Minister Ivan
Marazov, in a second round. The polls predict a turnout of more than 50%
in the first round on 27 October. Meanwhile, Trud commented on the
performance of the major candidates in the last three debates broadcast
on state TV. It argued that the BSP's vice presidential candidate,
Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, was "most adequate" in terms of
professionalism, polemics, and politics, while Stoyanov behaved like a
"typical lawyer" and Marazov failed to rid himself of his "professorial
attitude." Meanwhile, Kontinent reported that former Tsar Simeon II told
the Spanish newspaper ABC that if a socialist wins the presidential
elections, there could be "negative consequences" for Bulgaria. -- Maria
Koinova

ALBANIAN APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCES FOR COMMUNIST PARTY FOUNDERS.
An appeals court on 23 October upheld jail sentences of between one and
two-and-a-half years for four Albanians who formed a communist party,
Reuters reported. The men, aged between 45 and 73, pleaded guilty but
appealed the length of the sentences on grounds of old age and alleged
irregularities during the investigation that led to their trial. The
parliament outlawed all communist organizations in July 1992 as anti-
constitutional. -- 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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