Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST</head>

No. 238, Part II, 11 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

1997 NATO SUMMIT TO ISSUE MEMBERSHIP INVITATIONS. NATO foreign ministers
agreed on 10 December that an alliance summit meeting on 7-8 July in
Madrid will decide which of the 11 Eastern European applicants will be
invited to accession negotiations, international agencies reported. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana refused to reveal which countries would
be selected, saying only that "one or more" would receive invitations.
Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are still believed to be the
leading candidates, although Slovenia, Romania, and Slovakia are still
under consideration. -- Scott Parrish

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FIRES HIS CHIEF OF STAFF. Leonid Kuchma has
dismissed presidential chief of staff Dmytro Tabachnyk and stripped him
of the military ranks acquired in the last three years as a reserve
officer, Ukrainian and international media reported on 10 December. The
official reason for Tabachnyk's removal is transfer to another job, but
the decree did not specify which. Tabachnyk--one of the country's most
influential politicians, whom the media describe as the president's
shadow--has faced sharp criticism in the parliament, and has been
accused of illegal dealings in real estate and abuse of his position. A
parliamentary anti-corruption commission is conducting an official
investigation into the allegations that Tabachnyk had illegally obtained
a second apartment in Kyiv. Tabachnyk, 33, played a key role in Kuchma's
victory in the 1994 presidential elections. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINIAN INDUSTRY: HIGH DANGER FOR ENVIRONMENT. Ukrainian Emergency
Situations Minister Valerii Kalchenko said up to 42% of Ukrainian
enterprises, employing one-third of the workforce, are ecologically
unsafe, UNIAN reported on 10 December. Minister said Ukrainian railways,
where 16% of crossings need replacing, are especially dangerous. Ukraine
faces problems with destruction of chemical weapons of the former USSR.
Kalchenko said many of 4,000 wagonloads of shells near Kerch in Crimea
had exceeded their shelf life. Meanwhile, officials at Radical chemical
factory in Kyiv warned that chlorine compound stored in an aging storage
tank at the plant could soon be released into atmosphere, exposing
nearby residents and forests, RFE/RL reported on 10 December. The
factory cannot afford new containers to store 20 metric tons of the
highly toxic material. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINE ON NATO, SEVASTOPOL. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii
Udovenko said at a North Atlantic Cooperation Council meeting in
Luxembourg that Ukraine would like to have a separate agreement with
NATO, Ukrainian radio reported on 10 December. He reiterated Ukraine's
opposition to the deployment of nuclear weapons on the territory of new
NATO member states. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said NATO
had no plans for such deployment. The same day, Foreign Ministry
spokesman Yurii Serheyev said Ukraine would not enter into any
negotiations with Russia over the status of Sevastopol, because
Ukraine's territorial integrity was recognized internationally. On 11
December Ukraine's parliament began examining a law on the status of
foreign troops on Ukrainian territory. The previous day ITAR-TASS
reported the Justice Ministry finished drafting the law on the status of
Kyiv and Sevastopol. Under the new constitution, the two cities have a
special status. -- Ustina Markus

ANOTHER ANTI-PRESIDENT DEMONSTRATION IN BELARUSIAN CAPITAL. About 500
students demonstrated in Minsk on 10 December to mark the International
Human Rights Day, international agencies reported. The demonstrators
marched down the central avenue waving UN and EU flags, handing out
leaflets containing the UN Charter and other human rights documents.
They protested the government's numerous human rights violations, and
demanded the release of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's opponents
arrested at recent demonstrations. The rally was peaceful, but police
arrested several students as the demonstrators were dispersing.
Meanwhile, at least 40 Supreme Soviet deputies, who refused to recognize
the new Belarusian parliament, assembled in the Minsk-based House of
Writers, Belapan reported. They also adopted a statement reaffirming
their loyalty to the 1994 Constitution, non-recognition of the results
of the 24 November referendum, and declaring the Supreme Soviet the only
legislature in Belarus. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

MCDONALD'S RIOT IN BELARUS. The opening of the first McDonald's in
Belarus on 10 December led to rioting at the restaurant in Minsk,
Reuters and AFP reported. A 4,000 strong crowd descended at the
McDonald's and tried to push their way in because of rumors that the
first customers would get free food or a prize. Riot police beat people
with truncheons to keep them from forcing their way in. In all,
McDonald's plans to open four restaurants in Minsk.. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA TO ISSUE ALIEN PASSPORTS TO RUSSIAN MILITARY PERSONNEL. The
Estonian government decided on 10 December to change its policy and
issue alien passports to nearly 10,000 retired Red Army officers and
their families, BNS reported. About 20,000 retired officers--of whom
more than 50% acquired a citizenship of a foreign country, in most cases
Russia--have received permission to live in Estonia. Residence permits
are affixed to the new passports. Regional Affairs Minister Tiit Kubri
said the earlier ban on issuing alien passports to retired officers had
been discriminatory, which had precluded them from being readmitted to
Estonia in case they went abroad. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT SWORN IN. The Seimas on 10 December voted 87
to 21 with 13 abstentions to support the 1997-2000 government program of
prime minister designate Gediminas Vagnorius, Radio Lithuania reported.
After the vote, the 17 member Cabinet and Vagnorius were sworn in as the
8th government since the re-establishment of Lithuania's independence.
The program devotes the most attention to economic and law-and-order
issues. It forecasts that inflation will fall to 7% and average monthly
wages will double by 1999. The government is formally a coalition of two
parties--the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) and the
Christian Democratic Party--but two ministries were given to the Center
Union and one to the Confederation of Industrialists. All but four of
the new ministers are members of the Seimas. -- Saulius Girnius

CONTROVERSIES OVER POLISH CONSTITUTION. The co-ruling Polish Peasant
Party (PSL) contested the proposed three-level local administration
scheme included in the constitution draft, Polish dailies reported on 11
December. The PSL demands a statement in the constitution that "the
family farm is the basis of the rural structure of the Polish state."
The PSL and the leftist Labor Union demand also that the constitution
establishes the so-called social rights: for housing, free health care
and education. The chances that Poland will have the new constitution
before the parliamentary election scheduled for 1997 are therefore slim.
-- Jakub Karpinski

DOCTORS STRIKE IN POLAND. About three quarters of Poland's hospitals and
a half of outpatient clinics have joined the first day of strike, and
more are going to join, international media reported on 11 December.
Only emergency cases are treated, and cancer, psychiatric, children's,
and maternity wards are not participating in the strike. The All-Poland
Doctors' Union, representing about a third of 84,000 doctors, began the
protest after the two-month negotiations with the government stalemated.
The doctors demand a collective wage deal that would increase their
salaries up to three times the average wage. They also want budget
spending on the health care to be increased to 6% of the GDP instead of
the planned 4.5%. The government rejects the demands, citing financial
constraints and the prospect that the planned health care reform will
bring a wage increase for doctors in two years' time. -- Beata Pasek

CIS VISITORS IN POLAND. One million people from the CIS countries are in
Poland every day, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 11 December. Poland had
2,313,000 Russian visitors in 1995, 3,275,000 visitors from Belarus, and
4,740,000 from Ukraine. The mass influx of eastern visitors to Poland
means more jobs for Poles and more hard currency in the country, as
Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians import huge amounts of goods from
Poland and leave there from $1 to 2 billion yearly. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PRESIDENT DOING BETTER. Vaclav Havel's physicians told journalists
on 10 December that the president's health is improving. Havel underwent
surgery for lung cancer on 2 December. A twelve-member team is looking
after Havel. Pneumonia that developed in Havel's left lung is, according
to his doctors, currently the most serious problem. Robert Ginsberg of
the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, an external consultant who
has joined the medical team, told journalists that he had expected "a
very sick man" but was pleasantly surprised. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK TV HAS A NEW DIRECTOR. Slovakia's parliament on 10 December
elected a new director of state-run Slovak TV (STV) in a secret ballot
vote, press agencies reported. Jozef Darmo, the former director of the
pro-government station, was dismissed from his post yesterday by the
decision of 106 deputies. Darmo said that parliamentary deputies are
responsible for the fact that STV directors are often replaced, causing
a total collapse of STV in program and organizational structure. Darmo
continued that "the functioning of STV has been influenced by the
country's permanent political struggle." Igor Kubis, the new STV
director, previously worked as a newscast editor and is often said to
have very close contacts with the ruling Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA. The Hungarian
parliament on 10 December ratified the bilateral treaty with Romania,
aimed at normalizing bilateral relations between the two countries,
Hungarian media reported. The treaty was signed in September and
ratified by the Romanian parliament in October, ahead of the
parliamentary elections. The vote in Hungary was 249 for the treaty, 53
against with 12 abstentions. Although opposition parties have criticized
the treaty, saying it does not guarantee sufficient minority rights,
ratification was never in doubt because the ruling coalition has a 72%
majority in the parliament. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

STANDOFF IN BELGRADE. The opposition carried out its threat to boycott
the federal Yugoslav parliament session that took place on 10 December,
international media reported. Protests entered their fourth week and
continued in the streets with the demand that the authorities recognize
the opposition victories in the 17 November runoff local elections.
Meanwhile, the federal supreme court upheld the decisions of its Serbian
counterpart to cancel those poll results. Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic has now repeatedly failed to take advantage of opportunities
to end the confrontation in a peaceful and legal manner by having courts
uphold the opposition victories. Elsewhere. federal Interior Minister
Vukasin Jokanovic said that force will not be used against the
protesters unless they attack public property. Finally, the 400,000-
strong independent metal workers union Nezavisnost announced a strike
starting 11 December in Kragujevac and Nis, AFP reported.-- Patrick
Moore

CLINTON TELLS MILOSEVIC TO ACCEPT VOTE RESULTS . . . U.S. President Bill
Clinton urged Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to respect the
outcome of the 17 November ballot. CNN on 10 December quoted him as
saying: "Elections should be respected and the voice of the people
should be heard... The United States has made its statement and its
position clear. Neither we nor anyone else would seek to interfere in
the internal events of Serbia but our sympathies are always with a free
people who are struggling to express their freedom and want to have the
integrity of their elections respected." The protesters have paid close
attention to reactions to their cause from abroad, and Clinton's
statement is likely to be regarded as the most important message in
their favor to date. -- Patrick Moore

. . . AS DOES NATO . . . The Atlantic alliance, after a meeting of its
foreign ministers, told Milosevic that NATO "strongly deplores" his
decision not to recognize the election results. The ministers urged him
"to respect the democratic will of the people by reversing [his]
decision," AFP reported on 10 December. The NATO statement praised the
opposition for remaining peaceful and warned the authorities against
using violence. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher added: "The
people of Serbia deserve what their neighbors in central Europe have:
clean elections, a free press, a normal market economy. If President
Milosevic respects their will, Serbia can enjoy the legitimacy and
assistance it needs. If he seeks to rule Serbia as an unreformed
dictatorship, it will only increase his isolation and the suffering of
his people." Washington called of a visit to Belgrade by envoy John
Kornblum as a message to Milosevic. -- Patrick Moore

. . . AND THE BOSNIAN SERB LEADERSHIP. Republika Srpska President
Biljana Plavsic told TV Pale that she supports the students, adding that
"the entry of students always means that freedom and democracy are
endangered," Reuters and Deutsche Welle reported on 10 December. Plavsic
stressed that this is the moment for Serbia to finally break with its
communist past, adding that "the Croats [long ago] resolved this problem
very quickly." She also said that Milosevic was not important to ensure
the implementation of the Dayton agreement, arguing that its success
depended on the directly affected people. -- Patrick Moore

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS STILL PERSIST IN KOSOVO. On the occasion of the
International Day of Human Rights, the Kosovo Human Rights Council
issued a statement on 9 December saying that Albanians in federal
Yugoslavia continue to be "subjected to cruel human rights violations."
The statement adds that the situation in the Serbian province has
deteriorated since the abolition of its autonomy in 1989 and that
"violence, terror and other persistent patterns of genocide acts" by the
Serbian authorities continued with the same intensity throughout 1996,
including "arbitrary, inhuman and degrading treatment." The Council
pointed out that ethnic Albanian emigrants with valid Yugoslav passports
have been barred entry, that schools continue to be closed for Albanian
pupils--despite the September agreement with the Serbian government--
and that most Albanians are excluded from the health care and social
insurance system, and remain unemployed. -- Fabian Schmidt

CROATIA, SERB REFUGEE ORGANIZATIONS SIGN AGREEMENT ON RETURN. Adviser to
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman Slobodan Lang and Serb and Croat
refugee associations signed an agreement on the return of Serbian
refugees who fled Croatia in 1995, when Croatian troops ran over the
rebel Republic of Srpska Krajina, AFP reported on 11 December. Some 100
families may return by the end of the year to the towns of Okucani,
Gornji Bogicevci, Stara Gradiska, Lipik, and Pakrac, in western
Slavonia. No such mass authorization has so far been issued by Croatian
authorities. In other news State Department deputy spokesman Glyn Davies
called the decoration of indicted war criminal Tihomir Blaskic [see OMRI
Daily Digest 9 December] "completely inappropriate," adding that "it
does raise questions about [Croatia's] commitment to Dayton," Reuters
reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES APPROVE ROMANIAN CABINET NOMINEES. Joint
committees of the Parliament's two chambers on 10 December approved all
nominees for ministers in Victor Ciorbea's cabinet, Jurnalul National
reported. The longest hearing was held for the foreign minister nominee,
Adrian Severin, who had been contested even from within the governing
coalition long before his official nomination. Severin said Romania's
relations with the West must have priority over those with the East.
According to RFE/RL, Romanian nationalists criticized Severin for being
"too European." One of the two ethnic Hungarian ministers, Gyorgy Tokay
of the Office for National Minorities, received negative votes from the
two extremist parties represented in parliament, the Party of Romanian
National Unity and the Greater Romania Party. Both parties oppose
Hungarian presence in the new government. The parliament is expected to
vote today on the cabinet on the whole. -- Zsolt Mato

OUTGOING MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT TO STAY IN POLITICS. Outgoing President
Mircea Snegur stated on 10 December that he was not going to either quit
politics or accept a post in the new administration, Infotag reported.
Snegur said he felt responsible for the 800,000 people who had voted for
him in the 1 December runoff and promised to continue to combat the
left-wing forces that endanger both the reform process in Moldova and
the country's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
Snegur welcomed as "very timely" an initiative of setting up the
Democratic Convention of Moldova as a political expression of the
unified opposition. The initiative was launched on 7 December by parties
and organizations belonging to the Pro-Snegur Civic Movement, an ad-hoc
political alliance that had backed Snegur during the electoral campaign.
-- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN INFLATION ALMOST 224% FOR FIRST 11 MONTHS OF YEAR. Consumer
price inflation was 9.7% in November, down from 16.7% in October,
bringing the first eleven months cumulative figure to 223.6%, Bulgarian
media reported on 11 December. The National Statistical Institute blames
the continuing high inflation on the collapse of the lev, which was
fixed by the national bank at 504.30 against the dollar on 11 December,
compared to 369.42 a week ago and 70.47 a year earlier. Since the
beginning of the year, electricity prices have risen by 382%, transport
and communications services by 203%, and food prices by 227%. Meanwhile,
a study carried out by a team headed by presidential advisor Yordan
Hristoskov concluded that one third of workers work informally, not
paying taxes or paying only part of them, 24 chasa reported on 11
December. This has cost the budget 31 billion leva ($193 million) this
year. -- Michael Wyzan
[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Sava Tatic

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