V naimen'shej stepeni sleduet izmenyat' to, chto postoyanno tolkovalos' v opredelennom smysle. - YUstinian
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 233, Part II, 4 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 CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUSTICES RESIGN. Three justices from the
Constitutional Court have resigned to protest President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's new constitution, international agencies reported on 3
December. One of the justices, Mikhail Pastukhau, said the existence of
a Constitutional Court was meaningless under the new basic law, which
allows the president to appoint the majority of the court's members,
including the chief justice. Under the old constitution, Lukashenka
repeatedly ignored the court's rulings, including its decision that the
24 November referendum be non-binding. AFP reported there may be some
complications with the resignations since they must be approved by the
parliament. The three justices, however, sent them to Syamyon Sharetsky,
speaker of the old parliament, which no longer exists. Pastukhau said a
two-thirds majority (133 votes) was needed to dissolve the old
legislature. He added that since the new lower house passed the law with
a simple majority of 103 votes, the legislation has no legal force. --
Ustina Markus

UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT AT OSCE SUMMIT. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
had to withstand further criticism from member countries attending the
OSCE summit in Lisbon, AFP reported on 3 December. OSCE Chairman Flavio
Cotti told Lukashenka that the 24 November referendum was illegal and
should be declared null and void. The OSCE leadership urged the
Belarusian government to show restraint toward and start up a dialogue
with the opposition. It also pressed for freedom of the media in Belarus
as well as full respect for internationally accepted democratic and
constitutional principles and practices. Meanwhile, RFE/RL reported on 3
December that the constitutional crisis in Belarus is not mentioned in
the summit's final declaration, since Belarus, Russia, and some other
countries imposed a veto. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

CHORNOBYL VICTIMS, AFGHAN VETERANS PICKET UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. Several
dozen Chornobyl victims, Afghan war veterans, and Ukrainian pensioners
picketed the parliament to protest proposed cuts in benefits next year,
Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 3 December. The Chornobyl
Union and the Veterans of Afghanistan organization have appealed to
President Leonid Kuchma and Speaker Oleksander Moroz to prevent
lawmakers from approving large social spending cuts in the draft 1997
budget. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko insisted the cuts were
necessary because they would provide the government with 2.9 billion
hryvnyas ($1.5 billion) to pay off all wage and pension arrears early
next year. The planned cuts would eliminate subsidies on public
transport for working people and benefits for several categories of
Chornobyl victims. The draft budget would also raise the retirement age
in Ukraine and place limits on pensions for working retirees. --
Chrystyna Lapychak

LATVIA SEEKS SOLUTION TO SEA BORDER DISPUTE WITH LITHUANIA. Foreign
Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins, head of the Latvian delegation
on border talks with Lithuania, held informal talks in Vilnius on 3
December with Seimas Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and future Foreign
Minister Algirdas Saudargas, BNS reported. It is unclear why Riekstins
made the trip since his Lithuanian counterpart, Rimantas Sidlauskas, was
busy hosting a Russian border talk delegation. Latvian Prime Minister
Andris Skele has said Latvia should have control over possible oil
deposits in a disputed area since foreign companies would not begin
exploration work until the Lithuanian-Russian sea border had been
determined. Previously, he offered to share oil revenues evenly if
Lithuania gave up its claim to the area. Lithuania maintains that the
border must be determined before dividing revenues can be discussed. --
Saulius Girnius

CZECH, GERMAN LEADERS DISCUSS JOINT DECLARATION. Czech Premier Vaclav
Klaus and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, meeting during the OSCE summit
in Lisbon on 3 December, discussed the bilateral declaration soon to be
adopted by their two countries, Czech media reported. The document is to
address past mutual grievances, such as the expulsion of some 3 million
Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Negotiations
have been continuing for the past two years. "We are both convinced that
the negotiations can be completed by the end of the year," Kohl told a
news conference. Klaus noted that "talks are practically finished,"
adding that the declaration is to be initialed by the countries' foreign
ministers before being ratified by the parliaments and then signed by
himself and Kohl. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES MODIFIED PENAL CODE AMENDMENT. The government on
3 December approved a modified version of the amendment on the
protection of the republic, TASR reported. Previous versions of the
legislation, which is aimed at preventing economic crime and protecting
Slovakia's territorial integrity, have attracted strong criticism from
domestic and international observers. The parliament plans to discuss
the legislation at its session beginning today. The cabinet also
approved a controversial bill on the nationalist cultural organization
Matica slovenska. Meanwhile, representatives of all opposition parties--
excluding the Party of the Democratic Left--met on 3 December to discuss
a common strategy for the parliament session. -- Sharon Fisher

STATE SECRETARY OF SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTRY REJECTS ATTEMPTS TO
"DISCREDIT" HIM. Jozef Sestak on 3 December denied the validity of a
letter broadcast the previous day by RFE/RL's Slovak Service and
expressed his full support for Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and the
government, CTK reported. The "strictly confidential" letter was
addressed to opposition representatives in February 1994, shortly before
the fall of Meciar's government at the time. "It is clear to all of you
that it is impossible to cooperate with a government headed by Meciar,"
Sestak had written in the letter. He added that each day Meciar remains
in office means that "not only the internal political, economic, social,
and moral situation of the country gets worse but also the position of
our young republic internationally." Sestak also proposed that
opposition leaders establish "a coalition of democratic forces."
Democratic Union deputy Milan Knazko told CTK that the letter is
authentic. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER ON POLICE DISMISSALS. Gabor Kuncze,
commenting on his decision last week to dismiss the four top police
officials for their failure to halt gang-land bombings and shootings in
the capital, said he has tried many times to restructure the police
force in order to break the National Police Headquarters' centralization
of power, Hungarian dailies reported on 3 December. He also commented
that the firings were necessary because inefficient management practices
and differences among top police officials have undermined the authority
of law-enforcement executives. Some opposition figures have demanded
Kuncze's dismissal as well, pointing to the spread of corruption in the
police force, the failure to tackle organized crime, and the increase in
crime in general. Several ministers have recently been replaced for
failing to resolve the crises in their sectors. Premier Gyula Horn's
camouflaged cabinet reshuffle is believed to be aimed at improving the
chances of the government parties in the 1998 elections. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BELGRADE CLAMPS DOWN ON INDEPENDENT RADIO STATION. In another effort to
muzzle the independent media and thwart the ongoing peaceful protests in
Serbia, the Belgrade authorities have taken Radio B 92 off the air. The
radio station has been giving extensive coverage to the protests. B 92
Editor Veran Matic told reporters that the station received a letter
from the federal Ministry of Transport and Communications saying that B-
92 does not have the necessary authorization to broadcast. The student-
run Radio Index has also been taken off the air. VOA reported today that
B 92 is continuing to broadcast on VOA's Serbian-language frequencies.
-- Stan Markotich

MASS PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SERBIA. For the 15th consecutive day, mass
demonstrations took place throughout Serbia to protest the authorities'
decision to nullify the results of last month's run-off municipal
elections, Nasa Borba reported on 4 December. An estimated 100,000
people again gathered in Belgrade. Demonstration organizers have vowed
to continue with the protest action until all second-round municipal
election returns are "honored." Meanwhile, Belgrade's electoral
commission has questioned the legality of the nullification of the
election results, which showed the opposition Zajedno coalition winning
in the 12 largest municipalities. AFP on 3 December reported that the
commission has sent a letter to authorities outlining its position. CNN
on 4 December reported that the regime is stepping up the police
presence at demonstrations. -- Stan Markotich

WASHINGTON WARNS SERBIA. U.S. press spokesman Michael McCurry said on 3
December that Washington could retaliate against Belgrade in the wake of
the clampdown on two independent radio stations. He noted that the U.S.
still maintains its own "outer wall" of sanctions against federal
Yugoslavia and could block that country's return to international
organizations, AFP reported. Washington is also working to prevent EU
countries from extending trade benefits to Belgrade at a meeting slated
for 6 December, the BBC reported on 4 December. State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns said that "the Serbian government has painted
itself into a corner," the VOA noted. Numerous international
journalists' organizations and other NGOs have joined in the protest.
Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia rejected the complaints, arguing
that "elections in a country are above all a domestic matter," AFP
reported. -- Patrick Moore

CALL FOR JUSTICE ON BOSNIAN WAR CRIMES. The International Crisis Group--
an NGO consisting of prominent people and headed by former U.S. Senator
George Mitchell--has called for tough measures against war criminals.
Noting that the big fish are still on the loose, it wants IFOR to
receive a mandate to arrest indicted individuals, the VOA reported on 3
December. The ICG urges donors to withhold aid from any country or
locality that harbors war criminals and to give the money instead to the
underfunded Hague-based war crimes tribunal instead. -- Patrick Moore

EXPULSIONS CONTINUE IN BOSNIA. The UN reported that over 30 Muslims have
been driven from their homes in the Bosanska Gradiska area of northern
Bosnia over the past ten weeks, Oslobodjenje noted on 4 December. Their
property is being taken by Serbs whose former homes in Donji Vakuf are
now under federal control. A report by Human Rights Watch says that
Serbian paramilitaries were involved in the expulsions and that the
local authorities did nothing to stop them. Meanwhile, the Helsinki
Committee for Human Rights noted in its latest newsletter that the
campaign to force Serbs to leave Ilidza is continuing. One man noted
that "after every quarrel or beating, four or five Serb houses are sold
cheap." -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN PRESIDENT IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. For the first time since 1991,
Franjo Tudjman has visited the last Serb-held territory in Croatia,
international and local media reported on 3 December. Speaking in the
region's main town of Vukovar, the Croatian symbol of war-time
suffering, Tudjman said his visit as president of Croatia is a sign that
peaceful reintegration is on the right track, Vecernji List reported. He
added that his visit is a signal for Croatian refugees that they should
return to their homes and for local Serbs that they should opt for the
Croatian state. Tudjman met with UN administrator for eastern Slavonia
Jacques Klein and with a group of local Serbian officials. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

CROATIAN RAIL WORKERS HALT ALL TRAINS. The railroad union has shut down
the country's railroad network, accusing the state railroads management
of blacklisting and firing workers who took part in a general strike six
days ago (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 December 1996), Novi List reported on
4 December. Union President Zlatko Pavletic said only army trains will
continue to run if needed. He added that all other traffic will be
suspended until the rail worker who was sacked on 2 December for
continuing to strike is reinstated. The railroads management has denied
threatening or sacking workers who refused to sign written statements
criticizing the strike. Meanwhile, Hungarian Television (MTV) said some
600 freight cars have been held up on the Croatian-Hungarian border
owing to the strike, Reuters reported on 3 December. MTV added that rail
traffic between the two countries has virtually ground to a halt. --
Daria Sito Sucic

LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS IN MACEDONIA. Preliminary results show that 114
of the country's 123 mayors have so far been elected following last
week's local ballot, MILS reported on 3 December. The governing Social
Democratic Alliance won 52 mayoralties, the right-wing opposition
coalition 28, and the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity 12,
plus one in coalition with the Democratic People's Party (PDP). The
Party of Democratic Prosperity of the Albanians won only four mayoral
mandates plus three in coalition with the PDP. The Socialists won three,
the Turkish Democratic Party two, and the Serbian Democratic Party and
the Party for Full Emancipation of the Roma one each. Returns have still
to come in from Valandovo, Ohrid, Prilep, and Probishtip. -- Fabian
Schmidt

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, HUNGARIAN PREMIER DISCUSS BILATERAL RELATIONS. Emil
Constantinescu and Gyula Horn, meeting in Lisbon on 3 December during
the OSCE summit, agreed that Romania's new foreign minister will visit
Hungary soon, Romanian media reported the same day. Horn said that the
Hungarian parliament will ratify the friendship treaty next week. That
document was signed in September and ratified by Romania in October. The
previous day, Horn had noted that Hungary backs Romania's efforts to
achieve EU and NATO integration, and he had offered to "do [his] utmost
to fulfill [that] goal." Constantinescu said Romania has the "historic
chance" to become a stabilizing factor in the region. He added that all
neighbors are "viewed as partners and not competitors" on the road
toward integration. -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ACCEPTS CABINET RESIGNATION. The parliament on 3
December unanimously accepted the resignation of Andrei Sangheli's
government, BASA-press and Infotag reported the same day. It also asked
the government to continue carrying out its duties until a new cabinet
has been formed. Before the 1 December presidential run-off, Sangheli
had said his government would resign immediately after the run-off
results had been released in order "to allow the new president to form a
cabinet with which he can cooperate in a more efficient way." Meanwhile,
President-elect Petru Lucinschi described the cabinet's decision to step
back as "just," arguing that Sangheli had not been "frank" about his
ministers' mistakes. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVA'S OUTGOING PRESIDENT URGES RUSSIAN TROOPS WITHDRAWAL. Mircea
Snegur, addressing the OSCE summit in Lisbon on 3 December, urged Russia
to withdraw its troops from eastern Moldova, BASA-press reported. He
complained that Moscow has not "honored the commitments" laid down in an
October 1994 bilateral agreement. The troops withdrawal was a key factor
to finding a peaceful settlement to the Dniester conflict, he added.
Snegur also appealed to the summit to issue a "political declaration" on
"the current state of affairs" in Moldova. The 1994 Russian-Moldovan
accord has not yet been ratified by the Russian State Duma. -- Dan
Ionescu

NATIONAL STRIKE IN BULGARIA. The Confederation of the Independent Trade
Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB) has called a 24-hour national strike for 4
December, Reuters and local media reported. Some 1 million people--
mostly miners, teachers, and light industry workers--are expected to
support the strike. KNSB spokesman Snezhana Lyubenova said the action is
to protest "incompetence and corruption within [Premier] Zhan Videnov's
Socialist cabinet." The KNSB believes that the strike will help force
early parliamentary elections. Another large trade union confederation,
Podkrepa, has urged its members to join the strike if they wish, but it
has not given its official backing. Some opposition parties have also
expressed their "moral support," Kontinent noted. -- Maria Koinova

ALBANIAN COURT SENTENCES COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS. A Tirana court has
sentenced communist-era Interior Minister Vladimir Hysi to 18 months in
prison, Zeri i Popullit reported on 4 December. Irakli Kocollari, former
chief of the communist secret service, was given a six-year sentence.
The two men were charged with abuse of office for ordering the
destruction of secret service files. They argued that the files had been
put away for a limited period only and that the deadline for keeping
them in storage had expired. Kocollari is still facing charges for human
rights abuses committed when he was working for the secret services in
Korca. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIA CHARGES MONTENEGRO WITH BLOCKING RAILROAD LINE. Albanian
authorities have criticized Montenegro for refusing to unblock the
Shkoder-Podgorica railroad line, international agencies reported on 3
December. The link has been closed for more than three years owing to
international sanctions imposed against the federal Yugoslavia. The
Albanian railroads have repaired their part of the line and are ready to
reopen it. The line was scheduled to have opened at the beginning of
this year. Local traders and the Albanian economy have suffered
considerable losses as a result of the closure. Completed in August
1986, the Shkoder-Podgorica line is Albania's only connection with the
international railroad system. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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