Miracles are natural. When they do not occur, something has gone wrong. - A Course in Miracles
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 236, Part II, 9 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

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DENIES CONFLICT WITH PREMIER; WANTS NEW LANGUAGE
LAW. Leonid Kuchma said he doesn't disagree with Premier Pavlo Lazarenko
on major issues but only on tactical matters, UNIAN reported on 5
December. The night before, Kuchma had accused the government of
inefficiency and lack of responsibility (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5
December 1996). The differences concerned governmental proposals to ease
tax pressure on producers and to cut social benefits to war veterans and
the disabled. Kuchma said such measures would only aggravate the
situation and cannot lead to increased budget revenue. In other news,
Kuchma instructed his government to draw up a new version of the
language law to increase the use of Ukrainian, Ukrainian radio reported
on 6 December. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

NEW PARTY ESTABLISHED IN UKRAINE. The Agrarian Party of Ukraine held its
founding congress in Kyiv on 5 December, Ukrainian radio reported. The
congress approved the party program and elected Deputy Prime Minister
Mykhailo Zubets as chairman. A co-founder, the deputy head of the
Ukrainian Collective State Farms Council, Ivan Yemets, said the party
will defend the interests of the entire agrarian sector. -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

MORE QUARRELS OVER THE BLACK SEA FLEET. As a result of the Russian
Federation Council's resolution saying Kyiv had no right to govern
Sevastopol, Ukraine's parliament decided to consider adopting a law on
the withdrawal of foreign troops from Ukraine's territory, Russian
Public Television and UNIAN reported on 6 and 7 December. Ukrainian
Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk said joint command of the fleet was
impossible, and the Ukrainian navy was capable of functioning without
help from Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Radio Rossii reported. Ukrainian
parliamentary Speaker Oleksandr Moroz warned that the adoption of a law
forcing foreign troops to withdraw from Ukraine could have serious
consequences, and he doubted it could be implemented. Ukrainian National
Security Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin was highly critical of the Russian
Federation Council's resolution, and denied that Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma had agreed to set up a joint command of the fleet. --
Ustina Markus

LUKASHENKA'S NEW BATCH OF DECREES. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
signed five decrees on the Constitutional Court, including one
appointing Ryhor Vasilevich acting chief justice, Belapan reported on 7
December. Vasilevich had been noted for being more partial to Lukashenka
than other court judges. Another decree accepted the resignations of
four Constitutional Court justices, not counting the former chief
justice. Only six of eleven justices from the pre-referendum
Constitutional Court remain. Lukashenka also signed a decree moving
Mikalai Damashkevich from the post of head of the Presidential Control
Service to head the Committee of State Control of Belarus (successor to
the Presidential Control service). On 5 December, Belarusian radio
reported Lukashenka signed a decree ruling out further by-elections to
parliament and a decree on elections to the new upper house of
parliament, Belapan reported on 8 December. Regional and Minsk city
deputies are to be elected by 26 December. -- Ustina Markus

OPPOSITION PROTESTS IN MINSK. The Belarusian opposition held its first
protest rally in the capital since the 24 November referendum on 8
December, ITAR-TASS reported. Some 3,000 protesters marched downtown
carrying Belarus's traditional flags and banners "Shame on Russia" and
"Hands Off Belarus." They proceeded to the Russian Embassy to express
their discontent with Russia's position of passive observer of President
Lukashenka's quest for unlimited power. The demonstrators' main demand
was Lukashenka's immediate resignation. Speaking at the rally together
with other former parliament deputies, former Chairman Syamyon Sharetsky
called the recent plebiscite "an act of violence against people." The
protesters called on the democratic forces to unite in their opposition
to Lukashenka. Between 10 and 20 protesters were reportedly detained for
disturbing public order. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

VAHI REELECTED CHAIRMAN OF ESTONIA'S COALITION PARTY. The Congress of
the Coalition Party on 7 December in Tallinn re-elected Prime Minister
Tiit Vahi, giving him 219 votes to 35 for challenger Ulo Nugis, ETA
reported. Vahi said that the major policy goals of his government will
be to introduce a "socially-oriented market economy" and improve
relations with Russia. He explained that the fall in the party's
popularity had been due to its need to maintain a balance in the ruling
coalition between the liberal Reform Party and the rural parties. He
noted that Estonia's GDP was expected to grow 3-3.5% this year and that,
with the annual inflation rate falling to less than 15%, interest rates
would also decrease. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND'S SOLIDARITY CONSIDERS TAX BOYCOTT TO PROTEST ABORTIONS.
Solidarity is considering asking its supporters to withhold taxes and
insurance payments to prevent the money of pro-life supporters being
used to finance abortions, Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski said at
the congress of the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements in Warsaw on
8 December. The question will be considered at the next meeting of the
Solidarity leadership, Krzaklewski said. Legislation signed by President
Aleksander Kwasniewski last month allows abortions virtually on demand.
Krzaklewski said the Solidarity Senate caucus plans to appeal the newly-
liberalized abortion law to the Constitutional Tribunal. He added that
all Solidarity candidates in next year's general elections will have to
undergo an "internal lustration," sign an "ethics charter" and perhaps
even a notarized pledge to support pro-life initiatives. -- Jakub
Karpinski

CZECH PREMIER REELECTED CHAIRMAN OF HIS PARTY. Vaclav Klaus was
reelected chairman of his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) at a party
congress held on 7-8 December, Czech media reported. Following the
unimpressive showing of the ODS in the June general elections and in the
recent Senate elections, analysts had speculated that Klaus's position
may be in danger. He was, however, the only candidate for the post. The
congress also elected four vice chairmen: Ivan Pilip, Jan Strasky, Josef
Zieleniec, and Miroslav Macek. Delegates agreed that the ODS should find
a new style and become more open, but did not agree on any radical
changes in the program or the structure of the party. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES 1997 STATE BUDGET. The parliament approved
the cabinet's budget bill by a 80-15 margin on 7 December, Slovak media
reported. Most of the opposition deputies left the 150-member
parliament. Controversy centered on increased funding for the secret
service and allocations of 70 million crowns for road construction to
reach a recreational center owned by ruling Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia Deputy Jana Gantnerova. The budget -- based on 6% GDP growth,
6% inflation, and 11-12% unemployment -- foresees expenditures of 208
billion crowns ($6.7 billion) and a deficit of 36.9 billion crowns. --
Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK SKINHEADS ATTACK BRATISLAVA'S CHIEF RABBI. Rabbi Baruch Meyers
was attacked by a group of skinheads on 6 December, press agencies
reported. The skinheads first insulted Meyers verbally and then started
to kick him. The attack took place in Bratislava's center, at a site
where a synagogue previously stood and where Hanukkah was celebrated on
7 December. This was the second skinhead attack on Meyers, an American
citizen who has held his post in Bratislava since 1993. -- Anna Siskova

NO NATO CONSPIRACY AGAINST SLOVAKIA. Former North Atlantic Assembly
Chairman Karsten Voigt said on 7 December that NATO's reservations
toward Slovak membership are not part of a conspiracy against the
country, CTK reported. Addressing a conference on NATO and European
security in Prague, Voigt added that many Slovaks precisely believe the
contrary. "It is not a conspiracy against Slovakia, it is the way in
which we perceive democratic realities in the country," he stressed.  --
Anna Siskova

DOCUMENTS ON HUNGARY'S "OILGATE" SCANDAL GET 80-YEAR SECRECY STAMP.
Istvan Nikolits, minister responsible for secret services, has placed an
80-year stamp of secrecy on data related to the so-called oilgate
affair, Hungarian media reported on 9 December. The opposition
Democratic Forum fiercely protested the move. Silence has surrounded the
affair ever since a parliamentary commission was formed to investigate
the charges brought by opposition deputies and the press that several
Socialist party members had been involved in business deals related to
Russia's repayment of its debt to Hungary. Among others, former Trade
and Industry Ministers Imre Dunai and Laszlo Pal were accused of using
their influence to secure contracts for certain Socialist-leaning
business firms. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN COURT BACKS MILOSEVIC. Amid continuing daily mass protests
across Serbia, the Serbian Supreme Court rejected an appeal by
Belgrade's electoral commission to have the 17 November local election
results -- in which the Zajedno opposition coalition won a majority --
recognized, Beta reported on 8 December. The court ruling has
effectively upheld a third round of balloting that awarded the ruling
Socialists 66 of 110 seats in the Belgrade municipal assembly. Electoral
commission head Radovan Lazarevic has taken up a further appeal with the
federal supreme court, the federal public prosecutor and the republic's
public prosecutor. -- Stan Markotich

PROTESTS CONTINUE THROUGHOUT SERBIA. On 8 December the demonstration in
Nis attracted some 50,000 participants, many of whom smashed television
sets in protest of the regime's biased media coverage, Reuters reported.
Opposition leaders have also told the international press that police
harassment and arrest of peaceful demonstrators continues, with at least
40 persons having been apprehended so far. For his part, Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic, in the face of growing demands for both a
recognition of opposition victories in local polling and calls for his
own resignation, tore up a draft memorandum on press freedom presented
by a member of the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Finally,
Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Tijanic formally tendered his
resignation on 6 December, Tanjug reported. -- Stan Markotich

KRAJISNIK SAYS BOSNIAN SERBS CANNOT ACCEPT LOSS OF BRCKO. The Serb
representative of Bosnia's three-member presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik,
said the key Bosnian town of Brcko must be made an integral part of the
Bosnian-Serb entity, AFP reported on 7 December. Krajisnik said he is
opposed to any move that would put the town under international
administration. Brcko is claimed by both Muslims and Serbs. The town had
a Muslim majority before the war. Today, Brcko is the only link between
the eastern an western parts of Serb-held territory in northern Bosnia.
Under the Dayton peace accord, control of Brcko should be decided by an
arbitration commission by 14 December, but Serb Prime Minister Gojko
Klickovic said the Serbs would pull out and ignore the ruling of the
commission because they distrust its chairman, Roberts Owen. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

CROATIA'S TUDJMAN BLASTS ENEMIES . . . President Franjo Tudjman again
warned that those who complain about human rights and media freedom in
Croatia are really seeking to subvert the Croatian state, Slobodna
Dalmacija reported on 8 December. He said these critics are enemies of
Croatian independence or "communist remnants." In a tirade to the
governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), he especially blasted the
Open Society Institute, which supports independent media like the Feral
Tribune and some NGOs; prominent critics like Ivo Banac, Chris Cviic,
Slavko Goldstein, and Vlado Gotovac; and the BBC, VOA, and Radio 101, as
well as the only independent daily, Novi List. Tudjman warned that these
enemies "have spread their tentacles throughout our society." -- Patrick
Moore

. . . AND DECORATES INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL. The next day, Tudjman
presented a number of military medals, including one to Gen. Tihomir
Blaskic for his role in retaking the Knin region in 1995, Reuters said.
Blaskic's wife accepted the award, since he is voluntarily appearing
before the Hague-based war crimes tribunal on charges of having
committed atrocities against Muslims. Tudjman's statement and
presentation of the medal are classic examples of his insensitivity to
foreign and domestic public opinion, which has long earned him the
nickname "Mr. Own-goal." They also reflect his understanding of
democracy and the uneasiness of the regime amid recent unrest and
reports that Tudjman has cancer. -- Patrick Moore

DONORS PLEDGE OVER $30 MILLION FOR EASTERN SLAVONIA. The UN said on 6
December that international donors have pledged over $30 million to help
rebuild the last Serb-held part of Croatia, Eastern Slavonia,
international and local media reported. Organizers of the donors'
conference in Zagreb originally hoped to raise $1.2 billion. But Derek
Boothby, deputy to Jacques Klein, head of the UN Transitional
Administration for Eastern Slavonia, said the money promised was a "very
good start," according to AFP. Boothby said that foreign money would
encourage the Serbs to stay and the Croats to return. Meanwhile, top
local Serb representative Vojislav Stanimirovic said the Serbs want to
have their own county in Croatia, where they would be a majority, Novi
List reported on 7 December. Under Croatian law, the region would be
split into two counties. Stanimirovic called for a referendum on the
region's administrative status, AFP reported on 6 December. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

SLOVENES REJECT ELECTORAL REFORM. Preliminary returns from a nationwide
ballot held in Slovenia on 8 December show the vote was met with apathy
and tacit support for the status quo, STA reported. According to
returns, only an estimated 35% of the electorate voted and none of the
three proposed packages for fundamental changes in the national voting
system received the requisite minimum 50% to become binding. Final
results are expected on 12 December. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN PARTIES SIGN RULING COALITION ACCORD. On 6 December, the
victorious parties in the November general elections signed a coalition
accord aimed at giving parliamentary support to the new government,
Romanian media reported. Leaders of the Democratic Convention of
Romania, the Social Democratic Union, and the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania (UDMR) signed the document in President Emil
Constantinescu's presence. The coalition thus holds a majority 287 of
the parliament's 486 seats. According to Constantinescu, the "solid
parliamentary majority" resulting from the accord will back "a strong
government set up to solve Romania's big problems." UDMR Chairman Bela
Marko described his party's participation in the government as "natural"
in view of the support it gave to democratic forces. Designated Prime
Minister Victor Ciorbea will seek parliamentary approval for his cabinet
on 10 December. -- Zsolt Mato

DNIESTER MEDIATORS WELCOME LISBON DOCUMENT. The mediators brokering a
settlement in the Dniester conflict welcomed on 6 December the stance of
the OSCE Lisbon Summit on the issue, Infotag reported. At a briefing in
Chisinau, the three mediators -- Donald Johnson, head of the OSCE
Mission to Moldova, and special presidential envoys Yurii Karlov of
Russia and Evgenii Levitsky of Ukraine -- praised the section devoted to
Moldova in the Lisbon document. The document expressed concern over the
lack of progress in implementing the October 1994 Moldovan-Russian
agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Moldova. It
also reiterated OSCE's commitment to assist in achieving a final
solution to the dispute. The mediators stressed that the key to
settlement lies in granting a special status to the Dniester region
within a sovereign and independent Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR NATIONAL CONSENSUS. Union of
Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov said on 8 December that the
opposition will support the establishment of a currency board if an
agreement with the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party for calling early
elections and changing the Bulgarian National Bank's Executive Board can
be reached, Pari and Duma reported. However, Kostov's proposal must
first receive the backing of the extraordinary SDS National Coordinating
Council meeting on 9 December. The council must also decide on Kostov's
other idea -- to turn the SDS into a single party before early
elections. Over the weekend, 3 parties already backed him, while 6
others rejected the idea, albeit "ambiguously." -- Maria Koinova

MOSQUE IN BULGARIA DAMAGED IN EXPLOSION. An explosive device went off in
the Great Mosque in Kazanlak on 6 December, causing damage but no
injuries, Duma and Novinar reported. Motives and perpetrators remain
unknown. A bomb had been discovered and defused in the same mosque
earlier this year, while mosques in Varna and Shumen were targets of
arsonists in 1996. In other news, the EU said Bulgaria can restart the
controversial reactor No. 1 at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant but
should close the whole plant down as soon as it finds alternative forms
of energy, Reuters reported. EU and Bulgarian experts said tests showed
that "the material of the pressure vessel  allows the [reactor's] safe
operation." -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIA BACKS SERBIAN OPPOSITION. The daily Rilindja Demokratike, a
mouthpiece for the governing Democratic Party, praised the opposition
protests in Belgrade, news agencies noted on 8 December. The editorial
said it is to be hoped that the demonstrations bring down what it called
the hated Milosevic dictatorship, which has opressed the Kosovo
Albanians. Meanwhile, President Sali Berisha urged Kosovars to support
the Serbian opposition, Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service reported. The
Kosovars have taken the attitude that they want no part of Serbia and
that Serbian politics hence do not concern them. Berisha's words may be
seen as a clear, if gentle message to them that their future indeed lies
with Serbia, and that they must help the opposition if they want to help
themselves. -- Patrick Moore

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Sava Tatic

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