Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table. - Nathaniel Hawthorne
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 225, Part II, 20 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 OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are
available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BELARUSIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky
called on deputies not to leave the parliamentary building on the night
of 18 November because he feared the president would try to disband
parliament, Russian agencies and Belapan reported. An unspecified number
of deputies spent the night in the parliamentary building patrolling the
corridors, but no attempt was made to storm the building. On 19
November, between 70 and 80 deputies met with President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka at his invitation. Lukashenka also met with Constitutional
Court Chief Justice Valeyi Tsikhinya to discuss possible solutions to
the political crisis, but the president has said he will not back down.
The court has begun reviewing parliament's motion to start impeachment
proceedings against the president. It must approve the motion before
those proceedings can begin. -- Ustina Markus

CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO BELARUSIAN CRISIS. The French,
German, Italian, and British ambassadors in Minsk have protested what
they call "the illegal nature" of Lukashenka's proposed referendum,
RFE/RL reported on 19 November. The Council of Europe also issued a
statement saying that the president's efforts to boost his powers in a
way that contradicts democratic norms is jeopardizing the country's bid
to join the council. Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski said he and
his Lithuanian and Ukranian counterparts intend to make a joint appeal
expressing their growing concern about the situation in neighboring
Belarus. Ukraine, for its part, has rejected Lukashenka's request to
visit the Chornobyl nuclear power station. Russian President Boris
Yeltsin called for compromise and common sense in Belarus. -- Sergei
Solodovnikov

MEDIA RESTRICTIONS IN BELARUS. President Lukashenka on 19 November
issued a decree cutting off Russian Public TV and NTV's communication
lines to Belarus, Russian media reported on 19 November. The
restrictions, however, were lifted later that day. Lukashenka had
claimed the move was justified because the Russian channels were
unobjective and provocative in their reporting on Belarus. Under the
decree, Russian reports on Belarus could be sent to Russia only after
Belarusian media authorities had checked and approved them. Electronic
mail links with Russia were also to have been cut. The Russian Foreign
Ministry warned that it would react accordingly if Russian journalists
were stripped of their accreditation in Belarus. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK TO PREVENT HRYVNYA FROM FALLING FURTHER.
Ukrainian National Bank Director Viktor Yushchenko has said the
devaluation of the national currency has ended, Ukrainian TV reported on
19 November. He noted that the bank will intervene to support the
exchange rate against the dollar because if the hryvnya falls below 1.9
to $1, inflation will soar. The new currency was introduced in early
September. It had devalued by 7 percentage points at the end of October,
following nearly two months of stability. Meanwhile, IMF officials
declined to comment on Yushchenko's remarks that the fund will accept a
larger budget deficit if the government pushes a deregulation and tax
reduction package through the parliament, RFE/RL reported on 19
November. A one-year IMF standby loan program that helped stabilize the
hryvnya is about to conclude. Ukraine is currently negotiating an
extended IMF credit worth some $2.5 billion. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

NORWAY'S PRIME MINISTER IN ESTONIA. Thorbjorn Jagland, on his first
foreign visit as prime minister, met with Estonian Prime Minister Tiit
Vahi in Tallinn on 19 November to discuss bilateral relations, European
security, and relations with Russia, BNS reported. Jagland said that a
visa free regime between the two countries could be established under
conditions similar to the ones Finland had set with Estonia. Vahi noted
that his country was ready to conclude a border agreement with Russia
this year, but it would be postponed until next year at Russia's
request. President Lennart Meri, who has just returned from a visit to
Germany, will meet with Jagland today. -- Saulius Girnius

GAZPROM THREATENS LITHUANIA WITH SANCTIONS FOR GAS DEBTS. Kestutis
Sumacheris, director-general of the national gas company Lietuvos Dujos,
told BNS on 18 November that Gazprom is threatening to reduce supplies
of natural gas if old debts and penalties are not paid. Lietuvos Dujos,
which owes 97.9 million litai ($24.5 million) for current gas supplies,
is unable to pay its debts because customers, especially the state
electrical and thermal energy company Lietuvos Energija, owe it a total
of 158.2 million litai as of 1 December. -- Saulius Girnius

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. Gyula Horn, during his two-day visit
to Poland from 19-20 November, told Polish President Aleksander
Kwasniewski that the two countries are "strategic partners,"
international agencies reported on 19 November. Horn also met with his
Polish counterpart Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. The two leaders called for
closer bilateral economic ties. Poland and Hungary plan to coordinate
their efforts at integration with the EU and NATO. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH COALITION LEADERS CLASH BEFORE SECOND ROUND OF SENATE ELECTIONS.
Christian Democratic Union Chairman Josef Lux and Civic Democratic
Alliance Chairman Jan Kalvoda have criticized Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus for phoning several members of their parties who failed in the
first round of last week's Senate elections, Czech media reported. Klaus
had asked them to endorse candidates of his Civic Democratic Party (ODS)
before the second round. Lux and Kalvoda charged that Klaus had violated
agreements among coalition parties and abused his post as premier, since
some approached candidates are state employees. Klaus argued that state
employees who run should be treated as politicians and not as his
subordinates. He also said "it is scandalous" that the three coalition
parties were unable to agree on a common strategy ahead of the second
round. Lux retorted that it was the ODS who had refused to nominate
candidates jointly with the two junior parties. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAKIA PUSHES FOR FIRST-ROUND INTEGRATION INTO NATO. At a meeting of
the North Atlantic Assembly in Paris on 19 November, Slovak
representatives argued for inclusion in the first round of NATO
expansion, Praca reported. NAA Chairman Karsten Voigt said "the door to
entry in the first wave is not yet shut for Slovakia," but he added that
"I would not go so far as to say that everyone in Slovakia should be too
optimistic." Most important are neither geopolitical considerations nor
any kind of agreement between Russia and NATO but rather "how the West
perceives the state of democracy in Slovakia," Voigt noted. Slovak
Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik addressed the same subject on 19 November
at a West European Union meeting in Ostende, Belgium, Slovenska
Republika reported. He stressed that Slovakia has no enemies but that
"developments in our region cannot be foreseen to such an extent that we
can afford to leave our security question open." -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAKIA EXTENDS RFE/RL LICENSE. The Slovak Board for Radio and TV
Broadcasting on 19 November extended RFE/RL's license for 18 months, Sme
reported. The decision was made just six weeks before the U.S.-funded
station's current license was to expire. Last year, the board extended
RFE/RL's license for only one year. Ruling coalition representatives
have repeatedly accused RFE/RL of being "biased" and "anti-Slovak," but
Slovak Service Director Miroslav Neovesky argued that the station
strives to provide listeners with the "broadest, most balanced, and
objective information." Also on 19 November, the government barred four
journalists from attending a regular press conference after the weekly
cabinet meeting. Government spokeswoman Ludmila Bulakova said access was
denied because "we have not had good experiences [with them]." CTK
reported that the four journalists come from TV Markiza, Radio Twist,
and the dailies Novy Cas and Pravda. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY'S YOUNG DEMOCRATS WOULD HAVE WAITED TO SIGN BASIC TREATY WITH
ROMANIA. The opposition Young Democrats have said the signing of the
Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty in September was premature, Nepszava
reported on 20 November. They claim that the Hungarian leadership could
have concluded a treaty that guarantees more rights for ethnic
Hungarians if they had waited for Romania's new government to take
office. Meanwhile, Adrian Severin, who is expected to become Romania's
new foreign minister, said the Hungarian community in Romania should
play a bridge-building role in relations between the two countries,
Nepszabadsag reported. He claimed he would prefer to see the two
countries admitted to NATO simultaneously, but if Hungary precedes
Romania, he hopes that Budapest will support Romania's integration
efforts. Romania needs good neighborly relations with Hungary rather
than reconciliation, he added. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY TO PARTICIPATE IN DEVELOPMENT OF EASTERN SLAVONIA. Jacques
Klein, head of the UN transitional administration in Eastern Slavonia,
met in Budapest on 19 November with Hungarian Foreign Ministry State
Secretary Istvan Szent-Ivanyi in Budapest to discuss how Hungary can
participate in developing Eastern Slavonia, the former Yugoslav region
under Serbian control that is soon to return to Croatian administration,
Hungarian dailies reported. In other news, the Hungarian Foreign
Ministry said Hungary has not yet received an official request to
participate in operations of SFOR, the new international peacekeeping
force. But it noted that Hungary is prepared to keep its technical unit
in Bosnia and to allow SFOR to continue using the Taszar air and
logistics base. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S. RESUMES ARMS SHIPMENTS TO BOSNIA. James Pardew, the envoy
supervising Washington's Train and Equip military aid program to the
mainly Croatian and Muslim Federation, said that light and heavy weapons
worth $100 million will be unloaded soon in the Croatian port of Ploce.
The ship arrived weeks ago but put out to sea again amid a messy public
dispute between Sarajevo and Washington. The Americans insisted that the
Bosnian government sack a deputy minister of defense with close ties to
Iran (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 19 November 1996), the VOA noted on 20
November. A face-saving formula was reached whereby not only the Muslim
deputy but also the ethnic Croat defense minister left office. Now the
Croats are unable to agree among themselves on the choice of a new
minister, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Patrick Moore

REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRIME MINISTER SAYS MLADIC TO RESIGN TODAY. Gojko
Klickovic said on 19 November that cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic has
finally agreed to accept his dismissal, the BBC reported. Klickovic
added that the indicted war criminal "will benefit from special
treatment and will be able to get involved in the defense affairs of the
Serb state," AFP noted, quoting SRNA. Mladic's staff has not confirmed
the statement, and it is unclear what is meant by any future role for
him in defense matters. It nonetheless seems certain that neither Pale
nor Belgrade will allow him to be taken to the Hague-based tribunal,
since he knows too much and could incriminate many important people if
he feels he has nothing to lose. -- Patrick Moore

UPDATE ON CROATIAN PRESIDENT. The state-run media continue to stress
that Franjo Tudjman is in fine shape and that his treatment is moving
along well at Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital. Slobodna Dalmacija
wrote on 20 November that the president "is working as though he were in
Zagreb," while Vecernji list said that he will visit the Croatian
embassy on 21 November and return to Zagreb two days later. That same
daily on 19 November hinted that opposition political figures and
independent papers have unkind motives in speculating about Tudjman's
health and a possible succession crisis. The independent daily Novi List
quoted Ambassador Miomir Zuzul as denying media reports that Tudjman has
cancer and that he has undergone surgery. -- Patrick Moore

RESULTS OF BELGRADE LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Belgrade Electoral Commission
has announced that the opposition Zajedno coalition won 60 of the 110
seats in the municipal assembly, RTS reported on 20 November. The ruling
Socialist Party of Serbia and its ally, the United Yugoslav Left, have
23 seats, Vojislav Seselj's ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party 15,
and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) two. Ten seats will be
contested in a second round, slated for 27 November. Parties may still
contest the returns. At a19 November press conference, DSS head Vojislav
Kostunica announced that his party will back Democratic Party and
Zajedno leader Zoran Djindjic as candidate for Belgrade mayor. -- Stan
Markotich in Belgrade

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CHARGES LOCAL ELECTION FRAUD. Vuk Draskovic,
head of the Serbian Renewal Movement and a leader of the Zajedno
coalition, told some 35,000 demonstrators in Nis on 19 November that the
ruling Socialists were responsible for election breaches during the 17
November local election run-offs, Nasa Borba reported. He added that
some irregularities are so serious that a third round of balloting will
have to take place in some districts. Violations allegedly range from
falsification of ballots to the theft of ballot boxes. Meanwhile, Nasa
Borba reported that the authorities are mobilizing police and military
reserves with the likely intent of at least intimidating those attending
opposition rallies. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade

MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS. The nationalist
opposition, led by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization
(VMRO-DPMNE), has said it will use its strong showing in the 17 November
local elections to try to force early parliamentary elections. The VMRO-
DPMNE claimed victory in some of the country's biggest towns and in
three of Skopje's four districts. The opposition had boycotted the
second round of the 1994 parliamentary elections, charging fraud.
Meanwhile, an OSCE observer mission said that reported irregularities
did not put the validity of the local ballot into question. Council of
Europe observers, however, estimated that as many as 25% of voters may
not have appeared on electoral lists, Reuters reported. -- Fabian
Schmidt

BUCHAREST MAYOR DESIGNATED NEW ROMANIAN PREMIER. The National Peasant
Party Christian Democratic has named Victor Ciorbea as prime minister-
designate, Romanian media reported on 19-20 November. Ciorbea's
nomination has to be approved by the parliament, which is expected to
give its consent. The Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) is now
consulting legal experts over the fate of the Bucharest mayoralty. It is
most likely that new elections for that post will take place in the next
few months, with a CDR deputy mayor temporarily replacing Ciorbea. In
other news, Libertatea reports that outgoing President Ion Iliescu will
probably be elected chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in
Romania. -- Michael Shafir

RULING PARTY SUPPORTS LUCINSCHI IN MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF. The
Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) is backing parliamentary
chairman Petru Lucinschi in the run-off against incumbent President
Mircea Snegur scheduled for 1 December, Infotag reported on 19 November.
Premier Andrei Sangheli, the PDAM candidate, lost in the first round
with only 9.5% of the vote. Radio Bucharest reported that Lucinschi will
likely also be endorsed by the Communists' party, whose candidate,
Vladimir Voronin, also lost in the first round. Meanwhile, Vasile
Nedelciuc, deputy chairman of the Party of Democratic Forces, said his
formation is still considering whether to back President Mircea Snegur.
Snegur told a press conference in Chisinau on 19 November that Moldova
was "in danger" and must "unite in the struggle against communist
leftism." -- Michael Shafir

MAIN BULGARIAN OPPOSITION GROUP TO BECOME PARTY. The National Executive
Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 19 November proposed
that the SDS transform itself from a coalition into a party, Bulgarian
media reported. The council will present this proposal to the next SDS
national conference. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov said talks with leaders of
the SDS member organizations started on 18 November. The SDS was formed
in December 1989 as an umbrella organization of anti-communist
organizations. Fifteen parties and movements ranging from monarchists to
Social Democrats currently belong to the coalition, while two more have
observer status. The platform of the new SDS still has to be worked out,
but Kostov said it will be close to the "principles of [European]
people's parties but [will] include social-democratic and liberal
elements." According to 24 chasa, seven SDS member parties are opposed
to the council's proposal. -- Stefan Krause

WERE ARMS SHIPPED FROM ALBANIA TO RWANDA? According to documents found
in a camp abandoned by Hutu militia in eastern Zaire, a British-
registered company shipped mortars, rifles, and heavy machine-gun
ammunition from several countries, including Albania, to the former
Rwandan government during the 1994 genocide. The Albanian Defense
Ministry denied the allegations, saying Albania has never violated the
UN arms embargo against Rwanda, which took effect in May 1994, Reuters
reported on 19 November. The British government has set up a commission
to investigate the company, identified as Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd., AFP
reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN JOURNALIST FINED FOR LIBEL. A Tirana court has ruled that Koha
Jone journalist Arban Hasani must pay a fine of $2,160 or face seven
months in prison on charges of libel. The SHIK secret service and the
patriotic organization Kosova accused Hasani of publishing false
information when he was editor in chief of Populli Po, Gazeta Shqiptare
reported on 19 November. Hasani had alleged that many current SHIK
employees had worked for the communist-era secret service. The
Association of Professional Journalists has sent an appeal to President
Sali Berisha protesting the sentence and calling for an amnesty. --
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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