Человек любит общество, будь это даже общество одиноко горящей свечки. - Г. Лихтенберг
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 226, Part II, 21 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

RUSSIA CALLS ON BELARUS TO RESOLVE CRISIS . . . The Russian State Duma
on 20 November voted by 349 to nine to call on Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the parliament to resolve the political crisis
within the framework of the current Belarusian constitution, AFP and
Russian agencies reported. Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev then went to
Smolensk to attend a meeting between the Belarusian president and
parliament, which was also attended by Federation Council speaker Yegor
Stroev. Stroev urged the two sides to compromise over amending the
constitution and spoke against dividing parliament into two separate
chambers. Belarusian deputy parliamentary speaker Vasil Novikau said
parliament would drop impeachment procedures against the president if
Lukashenka canceled the referendum, rescinded his unconstitutional
decrees, reinstated Viktar Hanchar as head of the Central Electoral
Commission, and gave parliament air time. -- Ustina Markus

. . . BUT LUKASHENKA THWARTS RUSSIAN MEDIATION EFFORTS. Russian attempts
to mediate in Belarus's political crisis failed when President
Lukashenka declined to attend the Smolensk meeting, international
agencies reported on 20 November. Earlier the same day, Russian
President Boris Yeltsin telephoned Syamyon Sharetsky and Lukashenka to
ask them to reach a compromise and "not allow Belarusian society to be
split." Afterwards, Sharetsky and Belarusian Communist leader Syarhei
Kalyakin went to Smolensk. Lukashenka refused to attend the meeting,
saying he was "very busy." Russian agencies attributed his refusal to
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's absence from the meeting.
-- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER REFUSES TO MEET WITH PRESIDENT. On
arriving at Lukashenka's residence on the morning of 20 November,
Sharetsky ordered some 70 deputies holding consultations with the
presidential administration to leave the building. He professed to be
angry that the deputies were not at the Supreme Soviet while a session
was under way. Explaining his refusal to meet with the president,
Sharetsky said that "there can be no talks whatsoever between the
president and the parliament speaker until all deputies are at their
posts." The President's press office commented that the speaker's
"hysterical scene" showed his unwillingness to resolve the political
crisis. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court announced it will commence
hearings on the president's alleged violations of the constitution on 22
November. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON NATO ENLARGEMENT. Leonid Kuchma, in an interview
with the Czech daily Lidove Noviny, said NATO enlargement to the east
must be accompanied by a moratorium on nuclear arms deployment in
Central Europe, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 November. Kuchma said that
every state has the right to decide for itself which international
structures it wants to join and that only NATO members have the right to
veto new members joining the organization. He also said integration into
European structures is the priority in Ukraine's domestic and foreign
policy. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

SIX ESTONIAN MINISTERS RESIGN. Six ministers from the Reform Party on 20
November sent an open letter to Prime Minister Tiit Vahi announcing they
were resigning because Vahi signed a cooperation agreement with the
Center Party behind their backs, Reuters reported. The Reform Party
council was scheduled to vote the next day on whether to break its
coalition with Vahi's Coalition Party. Reform Party Chairman and Foreign
Minister Siim Kallas said that Vahi was apparently trying to change
foreign policy by bringing Estonia closer to Russia. He noted that the
cooperation agreement's chapter on international relations mentions
Russia but not the EU. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PARTIES SIGN FORMAL COALITION AGREEMENT. The Homeland Union
(Conservatives of Lithuania) and the Christian Democratic Party (LKDP)
have signed a formal coalition agreement, Radio Lithuania reported on 20
November. The two parties, which together have 86 of the 137 seats in
the Seimas, agreed to cooperate fully on all internal and foreign policy
matters and to submit a joint government program. Earlier, it was
announced that three ministers, including foreign affairs and defense,
would be LKDP members. The LKDP would also have the right to propose a
candidate for one of the secretary posts in each ministry. Meanwhile,
the Central Election Commission decided that by-elections would take
place on 23 March in the four districts where no deputies were elected.
Local elections are likely to take place the same day. -- Saulius
Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT SIGNS ABORTION LAW. Aleksander Kwasniewski has signed
an abortion law that permits an abortion in the first 12 weeks of a
pregnancy if the woman is in a difficult social or financial situation,
Polish media reported on 20 November. The law allows private clinics to
perform abortions; under the previous legislation, only state clinics
were authorized to do so. The Sejm passed the law last month, overriding
a previous Senate veto. Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, secretary of the
Episcopate, criticized the new law as "damaging for the Polish nation."
Kwasniewski, for his part, called abortion "evil." He said that "we must
do away with its causes," adding that "cooperation between the state,
the church, and social organizations is needed." -- Jakub Karpinski

POLAND STRENGTHENS CIVILIAN CONTROL OVER ARMY. Polish Defense Minister
Stanislaw Dobrzanski has signed defense ministry bylaws providing for
the direct subordination of commanders of all branches of the armed
forces to the defense minister, Polish media reported on 21 November.
According to Sejm deputies, the General Staff's role will be reduced to
planning and the most important person in the army will be the ground
forces commander, a newly created post to be filled by Gen. Zbigniew
Zalewski. Zalewski is one of the two generals who refused to support the
defense minister's dismissal at the infamous 1994 "Drawsko lunch,"
organized by then President Lech Walesa. Dobrzanski also plans to
introduce limited terms of office for the most important army posts. --
Beata Pasek

NEW MEDIA SCANDAL IN SLOVAKIA. The Slovak Syndicate of Journalists (SSN)
on 20 November protested the barring of four reporters from cabinet
press conferences and called for a boycott of government briefings,
Slovak media reported. The journalists' accreditation was removed after
they refuted Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's accusations that President
Michal Kovac told them at a May meeting that Meciar was dying of a brain
tumor. An SSN statement said "we appeal to all media not to yield to
government pressure." The government press office called the SSN
statement "demagogic," adding that it has offered the journalists'
employers the possibility to accredit other reporters. If the four
journalists "prove their professionalism" by no longer "abusing
information they receive at informal meetings," the cabinet will "gladly
change its decision," the office added. Meciar on 20 November alleged
that several journalists had offered the government information from the
May meeting and that one had done so for money. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRESIDENT RETURNS LAW ON SECURITIES. Michal Kovac on 20 November
vetoed the law on securities passed by the parliament earlier this
month, TASR reported. The bill, which amends the Commercial Code, allows
shareholders to remain anonymous and gives joint-stock companies the
possibility to halt public trading in their shares. Critics have
complained that the law limits transparency on the stock market and
violates the rights of small shareholders who took part in the first
wave of coupon privatization. In a letter to parliamentary chairman Ivan
Gasparovic, Kovac stressed that he received the law just one day before
the 15-day deadline stipulated in the constitution. The president asked
the parliament to amend the law to ensure that securities can be traded
only on the public market and to stop issuers from preventing securities
from being traded on the public market. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT REOPENS DEBATE ON CONCEPT FOR NEW CONSTITUTION. The
parliament has resumed the debate on the new constitution, Hungarian
media reported on 20 November. Its constitutional committee drew up a
new concept after the Socialist Party leadership rejected an earlier one
in June on the grounds it was "too liberal." The Socialists said at the
time that they wanted the new constitution to include references to
social rights, make "interest coordination" compulsory for governing
parties, and stipulate that the president be elected directly. Besides
including these provisions, the new concept puts an additional emphasis
on the interests of Hungarians living abroad and limits the president's
sphere of competence. The parliament is expected to vote on the concept
in December. The country's current constitution dates back to 1949,
although various amendments have been made since 1989. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

HUNGARY'S "OILGATE COMMITTEE" CALLS ON CHAIRMAN TO RESIGN. Members of
the so-called oilgate committee investigating a corruption case linked
to the repayment of Russia's debt to Hungary have called on chairman
Ervin Demeter to resign, Hungarian media reported on 21 November. They
charge Demeter, a member of the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum,
with breaking internal agreements. Those who oppose his chairmanship
come from the ruling coalition and the opposition Smallholders. The
committee will soon make public its final report on the case, which
involves former Industry and Trade Ministers Laszlo Pal and Imre Dunai
as well as a number of Socialist deputies. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MASS PROTEST IN ZAGREB OVER SHUTDOWN OF INDEPENDENT RADIO. The Croatian
authorities announced on 20 November that they will not renew the
license of the popular Radio 101, Novi List reported. Radio 101 is
probably the only independent station there that deals with news and
politics as well as broadcasting rock music. Several thousand people
then staged a protest rally in which opposition politicians,
journalists, and union leaders blasted the government's decision, while
an army captain renounced his rank and medals, Reuters noted. U.S.
Ambassador Peter Galbraith and the State Department also criticized the
move, saying it raises basic questions about freedom of expression. Nino
Pavic, a government loyalist who was awarded the frequency license for
his planned Radio Globus 101, renounced the concession, saying he did
not want to be seen as a threat to media freedom. The city branch of the
governing Croatian Democratic Community also hinted that the
government's decision might not be final. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB POWER STRUGGLE UNRESOLVED? Republika Srpska President
Biljana Plavsic held a four-hour meeting with cashiered army chief Gen.
Ratko Mladic at his headquarters in Han Pijesak, Nasa Borba reported on
21 November. A statement from Mladic's office said there was no
information on the contents of the talks. Plavsic has insisted that the
general and his 80 loyalists must go, but Mladic is believed to be
trying to maintain his influence in the army from behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, the Bosnian Serb army (VRS) began destroying 13 tanks, 30
mortars, and two armored personnel carriers in Banja Luka as part of a
month-long program to meet arms reduction quotas. The deadline for
meeting all the limitations is the end of 1997, AFP reported. The OSCE
criticized the Croats and Muslims for not having started their own
program, the VOA noted. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN, CROATIAN SHORTS. NATO troops confiscated illegal mines,
rockets, and explosives from the Croats at Orasje in northern Bosnia,
news agencies said on 20 November. In Ploce, a $100 million U.S. arms
shipment is being unloaded, Oslobodjenje reported on 21 November. In the
village of Hajvaci near Mahala in northeast Bosnia, 12 houses were
destroyed by anti-tank mines. The formerly Muslim village is on Serb-
held territory in an area where Muslim refugees have been trying to go
home, as they are entitled to do under the Dayton agreement. In Zagreb,
Croatian and Slavonian Serb representatives signed several documents on
the reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia, Vecernje list wrote.
-- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN DEMONSTRATORS DEMAND MILOSEVIC RESPECT ELECTION RESULTS. An
estimated 5,000 people gathered outside the Serbian parliament on 20
November to show solidarity with deputies from the Democratic Movement
of Serbia (DEPOS) and the Democratic Party who are on a hunger strike
inside the building. The strikers allege that the ruling authorities are
guilty of political fraud, as demonstrated most recently by their
refusal to recognize the returns of the 17 November local elections.
DEPOS leader Vuk Draskovic told demonstrators outside the legislature
that defending the 17 November victory was critical and that government
tampering with returns amounted to "a great crime against the democratic
will of the Serbian people." The opposition won the 12 largest
districts, which account for roughly 60% of the republic's population.
Both the strikers and leaders of the opposition Zajedno coalition have
sent letters to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic appealing for him
to stop undermining the election results. -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade

OSCE OPTIMISTIC AFTER MACEDONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. OSCE observers on 20
November said they found few flaws in the first round of the Macedonian
local elections on 17 November, Reuters reported. Most problems involved
mistakes or omissions in electoral lists. Observers said that in some
stations they monitored, 10-20% of the voters were not registered. EU
monitors had previously said around 25% could not vote because their
names were not on the electoral lists. On the other hand, the OSCE
monitors said 89% of voters asked felt the voting process was conducted
properly. "The information gathered and the friendly contacts we had ...
give us an optimistic outlook on the development of the country's
democratic future," the OSCE statement said. -- Stefan Krause

INFLATION IN ROMANIA REACHES 45%. The National Statistics Commission
reports that the annual rate of inflation in Romania has reached 45%,
Radio Bucharest reported on 20 November. Inflation rose 3.4% in October
compared with September and has increased by 35.5% since December 1995.
Outgoing Finance Minister Florin Georgescu said the state's hard-
currency reserves stand at $800 million, while the total amount
deposited in Romanian banks is $2.1 billion. The country's foreign debt
on 30 September reached $7 billion. -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES EXCHANGE SWIPES. President Mircea
Snegur has accused parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi, his rival in
the 1 December presidential run-off, of usurping legislative power,
Infotag reported on 20 November. He pointed to Lucinschi's decision to
cancel a parliament session on 20 November, which was to discuss the
taping of a conversation between Snegur's campaign chief and Moldova's
ambassador to Germany, Alexandru Burian (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12
November 1996). In turn, Lucinschi said a Snegur victory in the second
round would "stir up confrontation in society" because of Snegur's
intention to transform Moldova into a presidential republic. In other
news, Premier Andrei Sangheli made a contradictory statement saying he
was ready to resign after the presidential elections but would give up
his mandate as prime minister only "when the time comes." Sangheli's
mandate expires in 1998. He also accused Snegur of having falsified the
election results. -- Michael Shafir

MAIN BULGARIAN OPPOSITION GROUP DIVIDED OVER PROPOSAL TO BECOME PARTY.
Many organizations belonging to the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS)
have reacted unfavorably to a SDS National Executive Council proposal
the previous day to transform the organization from a coalition of
parties and movements to a single party, Bulgarian media reported.
Leaders of 11 of the 15 SDS member organizations said the move was
untimely, adding that early elections should first be called and won.
Former SDS leader Filip Dimitrov supported that position, while SDS
deputy leader Nadezhda Mihaylova stressed the benefits of transforming
the union into a party. Meanwhile, seven member organizations announced
that they have formed a "Union for National Renaissance" within the SDS
before the presidential elections and that the SDS leadership knew of
the idea well in advance. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN LEV HITS NEW ALL-TIME LOW. The lev was trading at exchange
offices around the country at 331-332 to the dollar, up from 290 leva
the previous day, Pari reported on 21 November. According to Standart,
the dollar was trading for 360-370 leva. In some towns, most goods were
marked in dollars. Pari said there were three reasons for the hike:
rumors about an unnamed company seeking to buy large sums of hard
currency, lack of intervention from the Bulgarian National Bank, and the
withdrawal earlier this week of several billion leva from the State
Savings Bank. Kontinent predicted that by the end of the year, the lev
will be trading at 600 leva to $1. In other news, electricity and coal
prices are to go up by 14% on 1 December, following a 9.7% increase last
week. -- Maria Koinova

CAMPAIGN AGAINST DEMOCRATIC PARTY DEPUTY IN ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT.
Democratic Party deputies have called on the parliament to lift Azem
Hajdari's immunity and to remove him from the chairmanship of the
parliamentary commission on the secret service and police. They also
accused Hajdari, who is also a Democratic legislator, of deliberately
not purging the secret service SHIK of some communist-era secret service
agents in 1992. They called for his removal from the party's caucus,
Rilindja Demokratike reported on 19 November. Hajdari, meanwhile, said
he will organize a congress of his breakaway Independent Trade Unions in
December and organize a strike, Koha Jone reported on 20 November.
Elsewhere, police in Gjirokaster arrested Hajdari's driver without
explanation, according to Dita Informacion on 21 November. -- Fabian
Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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