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. 216, Part II, 7 November 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

BLACK SEA FLEET TALKS STALL. Ukrainian National Security Adviser
Volodymyr Horbulin said the 6 November talks in Kyiv on the Black Sea
Fleet did not go smoothly, ITAR-TASS reported. Horbulin said neither
side will make concessions that may harm national interests. He added he
was not optimistic about the current round of discussions and did not
see any place for compromise. Both the closing session of the talks and
the joint dinner were canceled. Horbulin said he doubted the Russian
prime minister would visit Kyiv in November. The same day, Reuters
reported that Horbulin said Ukraine did not exclude the possibility that
it could eventually join NATO. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN CURRENCY SLIPS IN OCTOBER. The value of Ukraine's new
currency, the hryvnya, slipped by 3.5% in trading against the dollar in
October, the first such depreciation of a Ukrainian tender in three
months, Ukrainian TV reported on 5 November. Experts attributed the
decrease--from 1.76 to 1.82 hryvnyas for $1--to a printing of unbacked
hryvnyas by the National Bank to pay for energy supplies for the winter
because of a huge shortfall in government revenues. National Bank
Governor Viktor Yushchenko said he expected the hryvnya would remain
within a corridor of 1.82 to 1.87 hryvnyas to $1 by the end of the year.
The government revealed its total debt in public sector wages and
pensions now amounts to 3 billion hryvnyas ($1.7 billion). -- Chrystyna
Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES REFERENDUM DECREE. President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's latest decree was published on 6 November saying, "changes
and amendments may be made through a binding national referendum ...
questions on changes to the constitution approved in a binding
referendum are regarded as legally-binding and do not need to be
confirmed," ITAR-TASS reported. The decree was publicized two days after
the Constitutional Court ruled that the constitutional referendum,
scheduled for 24 November, would not be legally binding. Several leading
Belarusian legal specialists, including Justice Minister Valyantsin
Sukalo, said the court has overstepped its powers by ruling on the
referendum. The same day, parliament decided the only two referendum
questions that are legally-binding are the question on changing the
national holiday, and the question on electing local authorities. --
Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS AMNESTY LAW. An amnesty law adopted on 5
November will allow for the release of some 10,000 people out of 60,000
currently in prison, Belarusian radio reported on 6 November. Deputy
Minister of Interior Uladzislau Kashalenku said that this law, initiated
by the president, would be of extreme importance to the state as it
would save considerable financial resources--about 101 billion rubels
($6.7 million). Kashalenku said in some cases, people sentenced to two-
years for stealing a sack of potatoes worth 250,000 rubels, while some
1,000,000 rubels was spent by the state each year on keeping them in
custody. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

BELARUSIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST CENSORSHIP. Some 50 journalists from
Radio 101.2, which was closed down three months ago, rallied on 5
November in downtown Minsk protesting the government's crackdown on the
independent media, Polish Radio 1 reported the same day. Association
Deputy Chairman Uladzimir Glod compared the present situation in Belarus
to that of the darkest periods of the USSR, when the only source of
information was foreign broadcasts. A new threat hangs over Belarus's
largest independent newspaper Svaboda, which may soon be shut down at
the request of the State Committee on the Press for publishing what in
the committee's opinion were untrue articles. During the rally,
thousands of Minsk residents signed a petition demanding that Radio
101.2 be allowed back on the air. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER ON RUSSIAN BORDER TREATY. Andris Skele said on 6
November that Latvia should follow the recent example of Estonia in
trying to settle its border with Russia, BNS reported. He suggested that
Latvia should also give up its demand that a border agreement with
Russia had to note the continued validity of the 1920 peace treaty. In
his opinion, the border agreement should only precisely and accurately
define the shared border. Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
Indulis Berzins backed Skele's position, saying that Latvia was more
interested than Russia in concluding a border agreement since better
border control could reduce smuggling and illegal refugee migration,
thus help obtain visa-free regimes with West European countries. --
Saulius Girnius

CONTROVERSY OVER TAXES CONTINUE IN POLAND. Tax rates in 1997 remain an
unresolved problem in Poland, while the Senate is expected to vote on
the tax law. The Polish Sejm approved tax rates of 17%, 20%, 33%, and
45% on 24 October, while the government wanted tax rates of 20%, 31%,
and 43%, lowering them from the current 21%, 33%, and 45%. Finance
Minister Grzegorz Kolodko, speaking to the Senate commission dealing
with tax law, said on 6 November that he will support the government
proposal. Kolodko said that if the Sejm proposals are accepted, the
government will resign "because it would not be able to take
responsibility for measures that are wrong from the economic point of
view and irresponsible politically." Kolodko's statement, before the
Senate vote on the tax law, is a threat to the government's junior
partner, the Polish Peasant Party, supporting the Sejm proposal. --
Jakub Karpinski

KLAUS SETS UP COMMISSION TO FIGHT BUREAUCRACY. The Czech Prime Minister
on 6 November named former Transportation Minister Vladimir Budinsky to
head the new Commission for Fighting Bureaucracy, Czech media reported.
The commission will deal with citizens' complaints of state bureaucracy
excesses in various areas. Klaus told journalists that the commission
will not have its own bureaucracy; its only permanent staffer will be a
secretary. None of the commission's 30 members will be paid. Klaus's
initiative has been criticized by the opposition Social Democrats
(CSSD), who described it as a "Potemkin village." The CSSD is convinced
that establishing an ombudsman would be a better solution. Klaus and his
party oppose that idea. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK OPPOSITION DAILY LOSES SLANDER CASE. A Banska Bystrica district
court on 6 November ordered Sme to apologize to all 18 cabinet members
for an article published on 14 May and demanded that its publisher pay
each minister 400,000-500,000 crowns ($13,000-16,000), Slovak media
reported. The article quoted a speech by Sme journalist Peter Toth at
ex-policeman Robert Remias's funeral stating that "these are the first
victims of a political cold war that the government is waging against
Slovak citizens." Remias was the closest friend of a key witness in the
kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, and the secret service was
widely suspected of involvement in Remias's death in a car explosion in
April. Sme's lawyer said the daily will appeal. Also on 6 November, the
parliament refused to allow for the prosecution of Christian Democratic
Movement Deputy Ladislav Pittner, who led a commission investigating the
Kovac Jr. kidnapping and accused police of committing crimes. -- Sharon
Fisher

HUNGARIAN WELFARE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION CONFIRMED. Prime Minister Gyula
Horn on 6 November confirmed that Gyorgy Szabo has offered his
resignation, citing personal reasons, Hungarian media reported. Horn
said he was undecided whether to accept the resignation. Szabo has
recently been under fire for cuts in services and medical supplies at
hospitals and other health care institutions because of austerity
measures. Szabo's resignation would be the 10th departure of a minister
from Horn's government. Szabo's predecessor, Pal Kovacs, quit in March
1995 after former Finance Minister Lajos Bokros introduced austerity
measures. Opposition representatives on 6 November criticized the
government's health and social policies, noting that Szabo's fall should
be a warning signal for Horn. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL UPDATE. Marta Tocsik on 6 November
refused for the fifth time to appear before the special parliamentary
commission investigating the privatization scandal, Hungarian media
reported. The commission is reviewing her 804 million forint ($5
million) "success fee" for negotiations between the state privatization
company (APV) and municipalities. Noting that criminal proceedings have
been launched against her, Tocsik said her answers to the commission
could be used against her. Meanwhile, Tamas Toth, head of the APV
secretariat responsible for submitting reports to the APV board, told
the commission that unusual procedures were used in hiring Tocsik. He
said her hiring report was not processed through regular channels nor
was it filed in APV archives. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MUSLIM POLICE TORCH SERB HOMES? A NATO spokesman said that IFOR
personnel in a helicopter saw Muslim police speed away in a car from
burning Serbian homes near Kljuc in northwestern Bosnia. The Canadian
troops observed that the car returned to a police station in the area,
which a Muslim-Croat offensive captured just over a year ago. NATO is
investigating, Nasa Borba and the BBC reported on 7 November. In a
related incident, the UNHCR said that the Serbs may have mined 96 Muslim
homes near Prijedor on the basis of a UNHCR-supplied list of Muslims
wanting to return to their homes. And in Mostar, Muslim refugees from
Capljina protested the mining of 12 Muslim homes in the Croatian-
controlled region to federal President Kresimir Zubak, Dnevni avaz
noted. The Dayton agreement guarantees the right of all refugees to go
home, but nationalists on all three sides are trying to block them. --
Patrick Moore

MUSLIMS AND CROATS DISCUSS DELEGATION OF FEDERAL POSTS. The two
governing parties in the Bosnian Federation met on 5 November in
Sarajevo to discuss the assignment of leading posts in the federal
government, Onasa reported. The Croat Democratic Community (HDZ) and the
Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) have to decide on candidates for
the post of federal president and vice president, prime minister,
parliament speaker and government ministers. The SDA allegedly wants
Muslims to hold the post of president and prime minister. But Bosnian
Presidency Croat member Kresimir Zubak suggested a principle under which
the federal president and prime minister will not be of the same
nationality. Zubak said that Muslims were federal prime ministers for
two terms, and the post should be now commissioned to a Croat, Onasa
reported. Meanwhile, the federal House of Representatives held its
inaugural session the next day and adopted a binational flag, coat-of-
arms and seal, Oslobodjenje reported on 7 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SOLANA WANTS FULL NATO FORCE IN BOSNIA NEXT YEAR. NATO Secretary General
Javier Solana said on 6 November in Bonn that he hoped all 33 countries
taking part in the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia would
agree to join a follow-on force after the current mandate expires on 20
December, Reuters reported. Solana said that NATO's obligation in Bosnia
is to help cement peace and aid in reconstruction. German Defense
Minister Volker Ruehe said Germany would start to train some 3,000
soldiers for a new Bosnian mission. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel
said he was confident the U.S. force would be part of a new mission,
although Solana did not specifically mention it. NATO is considering
plans for a new 20,000-30,000-man multinational peacekeeping force in
Bosnia once the IFOR mission ends. -- Daria Sito Sucic

FEDERAL YUGOSLAV ELECTION FINALS. The leftist coalition headed by
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his wife Mirjana Markovic, and
its potential supporters, have failed to win a two-thirds majority in
the 138-seat federal parliament. A two-thirds vote there can assure a
potential candidate election to the post of federal president, an office
Milosevic may seek when his mandate as Serbian president expires in late
1997. Nasa Borba on 7 November reported Milosevic's leftist coalition
holds 64 seats, and a likely ally, the Democratic Socialist Party, has
20. It is Montenegro's ruling party. Milosevic's main opposition, the
Zajedno or Together coalition, has 22 seats, the ultranationalist
Serbian Radical Party 16, and the remainder are parceled out among six
minor parties and coalitions. Milosevic may curry favor with the minor
parties as a way of gaining the support of 91 deputies in a bid for the
federal presidency. -- Stan Markotich

HOW MUCH ARE BELGRADE'S ARMS WORTH? Federal Yugoslavia could earn up to
$200 million by selling its surplus arms, Onasa, citing Nedeljni
Telegraf, reported on 6 November. According to the terms of the Dayton
accord, Belgrade must dispose of the weapons before year's end. The
report says federal Yugoslav authorities have gone on record pledging
the weapons will be destroyed and that Belgrade has already allocated
about $10 million "for dismantling and shredding expenses." Onasa also
reported several domestic and international companies, as well as
countries in Africa, are interested in making purchases, and have
floated "tempting offers." -- Stan Markotich

ILIESCU PLEDGES STABILITY IF RE-ELECTED. Romanian President Ion Iliescu
said on 6 November, that, if reelected in the runoff to the presidential
election on 17 November, he would be the "guarantor of [political]
stability" in Romania. Iliescu launched thinly-veiled attacks at the
Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), saying there are "too many
ambiguities" in CDR's policies and that "radical groups" had too much
influence within that alliance. The CDR won the parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, cabinet negotiations between the CDR and the Social
Democratic Union (USD) continued, with the USD reportedly insisting on
portfolios of foreign affairs, defense, labor, tourism, and
telecommunications. Also on 6 November, the Central Electoral Bureau
announced that more than two million ballots were declared invalid,
which amounts to some 5% of the total number of votes cast. -- Dan
Ionescu and Zsolt Mato

BULGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and the
Sofia branch leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Nikola
Koychev, are the frontrunners to succeed Prime Minister Zhan Videnov,
Standart reported on 7 November. Koychev, who is also chairman of the
Parliamentary Economics Commission, said he was ready to take over if
necessary, while Pirinski did not comment. Former BSP leader Aleksandar
Lilov told Duma that the BSP must reform itself and will disintegrate as
a political force if no new government is formed soon. Local party
leaders increasingly call for a national conference of party congress.
Meanwhile, President-elect Petar Stoyanov on 6 November resigned as
deputy chairman of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), as deputy chair
of the SDS parliamentary faction, and as parliamentary deputy. The
Central Electoral Commission confirmed that he won the presidential
elections with 59.73% against 40.27% for Culture Minister Ivan Marazov
of the BSP. -- Stefan Krause

GAZPROM TO AVOID BULGARIA IN ROUTING GAS PIPELINE. Russia's Gazprom
decided on 5 November to route a new pipeline under the Black Sea via
Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and beyond, avoiding Bulgaria, which will now
miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars annually in fees, Standart
reported on 6 November, citing ITAR-TASS. The paper reports that a
former Russian diplomat in Bulgaria said the Bulgarian "government
finally has to understand that it cannot fool around with Russia."
Experts believe Bulgaria's failure to approve by 15 October a proposed
arrangement for a routing through Bulgaria contributed to Gazprom's
decision. Gazprom also views Turkey as a more financially solvent
partner. The news is a blow to Premier Zhan Videnov, whose Bulgarian
Socialist Party rival, Andrey Lukanov--who was assassinated on 2
October--had close connections with Gazprom. -- Michael Wyzan

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CHARGES COMMUNIST-ERA SECRET SERVICE WITH BOMB BLAST.
Albanian President Sali Berisha blamed former Sigurimi agents for the
bomb attack that destroyed appeals court chief judge Prel Martini's
house on 6 November, injuring five people. Berisha said: "I guarantee
the ... determination of the Albanian state to face crime forcefully and
give terrorists what they deserve," reported Reuters. Prime Minister
Alexander Meksi linked the bombing to a trial on 5 November in which
Martini upheld long prison sentences of nine senior communist-era
officials. Police said they did not know what kind of device caused the
explosion. A special group has been set up to investigate. Interior
Minister Halil Shamata said that police evidence pointed to a link
between the attack and an alleged terrorist group called Revenge of
Justice. -- Fabian Schmidt

MYSTERY SURROUNDS INVESTIGATIONS INTO ALBANIAN TERRORIST GROUP. The
Albanian daily Koha Jone on 6 November raised serious doubts about
allegations by Interior Minister Halit Shamata that Klement Kolaneci,
son-in-law of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha, was in possession of
about $1 million that was allegedly stolen by the mysterious Revenge of
Justice group. According to a protocol, signed by Kolaneci and two
policemen, a safe found in Kolaneci's office contained only about 1040
lek ($10), 16,000 Greek drachmas ($67) and several documents. Kolaneci
was only interrogated once, but not about any of the charges against
him. He also has been denied free access to his lawyers and only met
them twice briefly. Meanwhile, Kolaneci should have been released, since
no court hearing concerning the legitimacy of his pre-trial detention
took place within ten days, but he still remains in detention. -- Fabian
Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Valentina Huber

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