The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 231, Part II, 2 December 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 PRESIDENT SIGNS NEW CONSTITUTION. Alyaksandr Lukashenka
signed a new constitution in a ceremony on 28 November, international
agencies reported. No diplomats from European embassies accepted
Lukashenka's invitation to attend the ceremony. A day earlier, NTV
reported that the text of the constitution appeared in the country's
largest newspapers, Sovetskaya Belorussiya and Narodnaya hazeta.
According to the new basic law, it comes into effect from the day of its
publication. On 28 November, police only allowed "old" parliamentary
deputies into the parliament to pick up their personal belongings. The
rump old legislature said its government phone lines had been cut, and
the official excuse for their barring was that their rooms needed
"redecoration." The same day, the new House of Representatives opened
its first extraordinary session and dissolved the old legislature.
Anatol Malfeyeu was elected speaker of the new lower house of the
legislature, and Uladzimir Konoplyau was elected deputy speaker. On 29
November, Lukashenka signed a bill terminating the authority of the old
parliament. -- Ustina Markus

PORTUGUESE PRESIDENT REFUSES TO MEET WITH BELARUSIAN COUNTERPART.
President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal refused to meet with President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka before the opening of the OSCE summit in Lisbon,
AFP reported on 1 December. The refusal was officially attributed to a
lack of time in the Portuguese president's schedule; however, observers
noted that the position of the president was in line with that of the
European Union and most western countries, which criticized the way in
which the recent referendum in Belarus was held. OSCE Chairman Flavio
Cotti sought to hold a special meeting on the situation in Belarus, but
was blocked by Russia. Russia, meanwhile, recognized the referendum as
constitutional, noting that stability in Belarus is a critical
precondition for further integration of the two countries. -- Sergei
Solodovnikov

UKRAINE CLOSES A REACTOR AT CHORNOBYL. Ukraine shut down reactor No. 1
at the Chornobyl nuclear power station on 30 November, international
agencies reported. Despite earlier pledges to permanently close the 19-
year old reactor, Ukrainian officials say it is being closed temporarily
for maintenance and repair and could be restarted if the winter is
harsh. According to an agreement with the G-7, the whole plant must be
closed by 2000 in return for $3 billion in aid. The closure leaves only
reactor No. 3 operating. Ukraine suffers from severe energy shortages
and has repeatedly threatened to go back on its promise to close
Chornobyl if it does not receive the international aid promised from the
G-7 in October. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON HALTING BLACK SEA FLEET DIVISION. After Ukrainian
Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk failed to reach an agreement in
Moscow with his Russian counterpart Igor Rodionov over the basing of the
Black Sea Fleet, President Leonid Kuchma proposed that the division of
the fleet be halted and a treaty on friendship and cooperation between
Russia and Ukraine be signed, Russian Public Television and AFP reported
on 30 November. Kuchma said the treaty would address a strategic
partnership between Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea zone, and it is
within this framework that the basing issue can be resolved. He said
without the treaty the two sides were operating in an atmosphere of
suspicion in which it was impossible to resolve problems. Other issues
were settled more successfully during the Moscow talks. Ekho Moskvy
reported that Russia agreed to compensate Ukraine for 25 strategic
bombers (ten TU-160s and 15 TU-95MSs) to the tune of $320-350 million.
The sum will be deducted from Ukraine's energy debt to Russia. The
defense ministers also signed an agreement on cooperation between their
ministries. -- Ustina Markus

MINORITY ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT FORMED. President Lennart Meri on 1
December approved the new government formed by Prime Minister Tiit Vahi,
ETA reported. Vahi named replacements for the six ministers who resigned
when the Reform Party left the ruling coalition. He decided not to form
a coalition with the Center Party and the government will be supported
by only 41 members of the 101-member parliament. The Estonian ambassador
to the U.S., Toomas Ilves, was appointed Foreign Minister on 28
November. The other five new appointments are: Interior Minister Riivo
Sinijarv, Social Minister Tiiu Aro, Education Minister Rein Loik,
Economy Minister Jaak Leimann, and Transport and Communications Minister
Raivo Vare. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER APPROVED. The Seimas on 28 November voted
95-5 with 20 abstentions to approve the nomination of Homeland Union
(Conservatives of Lithuania) [TS(LK)] board Chairman Gediminas Vagnorius
as prime minister, Radio Lithuania reported. The next day President
Algirdas Brazauskas charged Vagnorius with forming a new cabinet and to
present his program to the Seimas within 15 days. Vagnorius proposed a
cabinet that would have 11 ministers from the TS(LK), three from its
coalition partner, the Christian Democratic Party, and the vice
president of the Confederation of Industrialists, Vincas Bobilius.
Vagnorius also offered two minister posts to the Center Union, whose
council on 1 December decided not to object the offers. -- Saulius
Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION DECIDES ON DRAFT LUSTRATION LAW. A Sejm
commission has decided that all state officials, from deputy governor to
the president, parliamentary deputies, judges, prosecutors, and
candidates for those posts will be screened to determine if they
cooperated with the communist-era secret service, Polish media reported
on 30 November. The persons under lustration will be asked to declare in
writing whether they were a secret service functionary or collaborated
with one before 1990. The commission members of the opposition parties
outvoted the PSL's coalition partner Democratic Left Alliance's proposal
that lustration be conducted ex officio on the basis of information by
the defense minister or internal affairs minister on whether their
archives contain documents proving someone's collaboration with the
secret service. The declarations will be made public. According to the
opposition draft, the declarations will be verified by a special
commission of judges. -- Beata Pasek

ROW OVER CZECH SENATE CHAIRMAN. Czech coalition parties were unable on
29 November to agree on whom to nominate as chairman of the recently
elected upper chamber of the Czech Parliament, Czech media reported.
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) nominated
Irena Ondrova, who is deputy mayor of the town of Zlin. The Christian
Democratic Union nominated former Czech Prime Minister Petr Pithart. The
ODS, however, said it is opposed to Pithart, arguing he had failed in
his post as prime minister. President Vaclav Havel on 1 December
expressed support for Pithart, describing him as "a thoughtful,
understanding, and educated person." Defending Pithart's credentials,
Havel noted that Pithart was the prime minister in very difficult times.
The opposition Social Democrats and the Communists said they would
support Pithart's candidacy. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR REFERENDUM ON INTEGRATION. Vladimir
Meciar on 28 November said Slovakia's entrance into NATO and the EU
should be decided by a referendum, Slovak media reported. Slovakia does
not want to join European structures as a beggar but as a equal partner,
he stressed. There is a stream of Slovak intellectuals who prefer
Slovakia's neutrality or later integration into NATO, Meciar said,
adding that a referendum on NATO membership would ideally be held in May
1997. In other news, the republican council of the ruling Movement for
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) issued a statement on 30 November warning of
radicalization on the political scene. "The situation was caused by some
opposition parties, who by their unprofessional and unreasonable attacks
raise uncertainty and chaos in society and in the parliament," the party
claimed. HZDS Deputy Chairman Sergej Kozlik stressed his party's will to
cooperate with other political parties but said that the happiness and
prosperity of the Slovak nation must be in the parties' common interest.
-- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 27 November
announced that Agriculture Minister Laszlo Lakos will be replaced on 15
December, Reuters reported. "A leadership change at the ministry has
become necessary in light of the need for a national agricultural
program that would meet European Union requirements," a statement said.
Lakos is the 11th minister to depart from Horn's coalition government
since its formation in May 1994. Horn on 28 November nominated Frigyes
Nagy to succeed Lakos. Nagy, a 57 year-old agriculture engineer, is a
parliamentary deputy representing Horn's Socialist Party and vice
president of the European Integration Committee. In other news, Horn on
29 November fired four top police officials as a result of the gang-
related violence that has swept through Budapest. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN POLICE VOW CRACK DOWN . . . Belgrade police authorities issued a
statement on 1 December promising to "hold responsible" organizers of
ongoing mass public demonstrations, triggered after the regime nullified
victories by the opposition Zajedno movement during 17 November runoff
municipal elections. The police say they have been more than tolerant in
the face of unlawful behavior, and are now prepared to crack down on
what they claim are "serious breaches of the law," Tanjug reported. For
their part, Zajedno leaders have gone on record saying that police have
already harassed and arrested protest organizers. The Serbian regime
continues to manipulate press coverage of the protests, and independent
media are coming under pressure to conform with the government line,
with the most recent target of regime interference being the recently
founded daily Blic. Independent Radio B 92, for its part, has had its
frequencies jammed. -- Stan Markotich

. . . WHILE OPPOSITION VOWS TO FORGE AHEAD WITH PROTESTS. Zajedno
opposition leaders say they will continue with peaceful, Serbia-wide
mass demonstrations against Serbian authorities and have promised to
peacefully take over local institutions on 2 December in the urban areas
where Zajedno originally won elections. The only thing that can prevent
a full-scale boycott of the republican and local legislatures, say
Zajedno leaders, is a ruling by the Serbian parliament nullifying third
round results that overturned the 17 November results. Parliament is
slated to meet 3 December. In related news, the BBC on 30 November
reported that police authorities physically abused two student
protesters during an "interrogation" session. Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic has been roundly criticized by the international community for
his tampering with the results of the local elections. -- Stan Markotich

BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD. The OSCE's chief election monitor
for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ambassador Robert Frowick, announced on 1
December that the Bosnian Serbs have agreed to accept the OSCE's
monitoring of the local elections slated for 1997, VOA reported. This
removes the last major obstacle to the OSCE's organizing of the vote,
which the Muslims and Croats have already accepted. An adviser to
President Alija Izetbegovic said, however, that continued Muslim support
will depend on the exact nature of the new election rules, AFP noted.
The Muslim leaders fear that the Serbs will again try to abuse a
controversial clause in the previous election rules that enables people
to cast their votes for areas in which they claim they will eventually
live. The new regulations contain this option, but will require the
voter to prove a "connection" to the place, such as a home, business, or
blood relative. -- Patrick Moore

FIRST SENTENCE HANDED DOWN BY HAGUE COURT. The International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia announced on 29 November that it has
sentenced Drazen Erdemovic to ten years in prison, the BBC and
Oslobodjenje reported. Erdemovic is an ethnic Croat whose underworld
activities eventually led him to the Bosnian Serb side and participation
in a massacre of 1,200 Muslims after the fall of Srebrenica in 1995. The
court said it was lenient because Erdemovic, who had turned himself in,
showed remorse and had been cooperative. His testimony revealed a
massacre that had not been reported before and that is now under
investigation. It is the first sentence for war crimes since the
Nuremberg and Tokyo trials at the end of World War II. -- Patrick Moore

IS THE BOSNIAN SERB POWER STRUGGLE OVER? The civilian leadership of the
Republika Srpska has achieved two of its main goals in its confrontation
with the military establishment based at Han Pijesak. On 28 November,
the cashiered commander and indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic
agreed to step down. On 1 December, his deputy, Gen. Milan Gvero, did
likewise, AFP reported. Neither man went quietly, however. Mladic warned
the government that it must do something about the poor morale and state
of preparedness in the army, claiming that his intelligence reports show
that "the Muslims" will renew fighting later in 1997. Gvero lambasted
the civilians, arguing that they "believe that the services of the
officers and generals who fought the war are useless and harmful." --
Patrick Moore

PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL BUDGET. The Croatian parliament (Sabor)
on 29 November adopted a controversial 1997 budget, international and
local media reported. The budget, which totals 35.42 billion kunas ($6.4
billion), allots increases of up to 50% to government offices, while
education, science and the judiciary get up to 10% more. The majority of
deputies from the ruling Croatian Democratic Community outvoted the
opposition in passing the budget. Vlado Gotovac of the opposition
Social-liberals criticized the government for spending too much at a
time when a tight budget is needed. In other news, the head of Croatia's
supreme court, Krunoslav Olujic, who was sacked amid allegations of
pedophilia (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1996), said his
dismissal was "purely political" and "a public lynching," Novi List
reported on 30 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic

UNPREDEP MANDATE EXTENDED IN MACEDONIA. The UN Security Council on 27
November approved a six-month extension of the UN Preventive Deployment
Force in Macedonia, Reuters reported. The mandate was extended until 31
May, but UNPREDEP's strength will be reduced from a current 1,100 to 800
troops and monitors by 30 April. Russia abstained from the vote, saying
the current extension should be the last one. In other news, the second
round of local elections took place on 1 December. Macedonian media put
the turnout at around 60%. First official results are not expected until
late on 2 December. -- Stefan Krause

NEW ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TAKES OATH. Emil Constantinescu was sworn in as
Romania's new president on 29 November, Romanian media reported. The
same day he held talks with leaders of all political formations
represented in parliament: the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR),
the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the Social Democratic Union
(USD), the Greater Romania Party, and the Party of Romanian National
Unity. Afterwards, Constantinescu officially designated Victor Ciorbea,
the CDR mayor of Bucharest, to form the new government. Constantinescu
stressed that he wanted a "solid government . . . one for four years and
not just for several months, as some people would like." Two days
earlier, USD leader Petre Roman, who was Romania's premier from 1990 to
1991, and Ion Diaconescu, chairman of the National Peasant Party --
Christian Democratic, were elected chairmen of the Senate and the
Chamber of Deputies, respectively. -- Dan Ionescu

PRO-RUSSIAN ELECTED MOLDOVA'S PRESIDENT. Parliament Speaker Petru
Lucinschi was elected Moldova's president in a runoff on 1 December,
Moldovan and Western agencies reported. According to preliminary data,
Lucinschi's led with 53.14% of the vote, over incumbent President Mircea
Snegur with 46.86%. Lucinschi, 56, who was the highest ranking ethnic
Moldovan in the hierarchy of the defunct Communist Party of the Soviet
Union (he was Central Committee secretary), was backed by leftist
forces, including the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party, the socialists,
the Communists' Party of Moldova and the Edinstvo-Unitate movement. He
is generally seen as pro-Russian; during the electoral campaign, he
repeatedly advocated closer ties with the Commonwealth of Independent
States and Russia. In a first statement, Lucinschi said that his
"victory [was] one for the people ... who want a change for the better."
-- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS CONSENSUS ON CURRENCY BOARD. Zhelyu Zhelev
expressed serious concerns in a 27 November letter to IMF Managing
Director Michael Camdessus about whether a political consensus for the
introduction of a currency board in Bulgaria can be reached,
international and national media reported. He said opposition support
for the board may help the current Socialist government but noted that a
board would be discredited if supported only by the Socialists in
parliament. The cabinet issued a statement labeling Zhelev's letter as
misleading and causing great damage to Bulgaria's relationship with
international institutions. Meanwhile, European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development Regional Director Olivier Descamps said on 29 November
that the bank will no longer participate in state-sponsored projects in
Bulgaria because of questionable support by the IMF and the World Bank
and the slow development of the reform program. However, loans would
still be made to support private-sector projects. -- Maria Koinova

HEAVY PRISON TERMS FOR EIGHT ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS. A Tirana
court headed by Judge Andi Celiku on 27 November sentenced eight
Communist Party officials to long prison terms. They were found guilty
of the "large-scale deportation of people, violations of the Albanian
constitution and of international conventions," AFP reported. Shkoder
party Secretary Enver Halili and former secret police officer Mehdi
Bushati were tried in absentia and were both sentenced to 22 years in
prison. Others sentenced include local party chairmen and secret police
officers Raqi Iftica (17 years), Marash Kola (16 years), and Hysen Shehu
(4 years). Others tried in absentia included Qemal Bregasi (18 years),
Lahedin Bardhi (18 years), and Jorgaq Mihali (16 years). -- Fabian
Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

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