You always pass failure on the way to success. - Mickey Rooney
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 241, Part II, 16 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

RUSSIA RELEASES UKRAINIAN CREW. The Ukrainian ship "Almaz," which was
detained by Russian border guards in Georgia on 4 December, was released
along with its crew on 13 December, Ukrainian radio and international
agencies reported on 16 December. The captain of the vessel remains in
custody under suspicion of smuggling. The Russian Security Service said
the captain had been accused of smuggling foodstuffs and drinks in
August and is expected to be charged with similar activities in the next
few days. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov admitted that
Russian border guards had violated certain rules by not informing the
Georgian authorities of the detention, adding that he wants the case to
be closed. In a briefing, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko
said the case is closed but that talks would continue over the captain's
detention. Statements by both Russian and Ukrainian officials indicate
that they do not want the incident to lead to a deterioration in
Russian-Ukrainian relations. -- Ustina Markus

DEBATES ON DEFINING MINIMUM WAGE CONTINUE IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian
Parliament on 13 November voted on a resolution that would set the
minimum wage and the minimum pension at 70.9 hryvnyas ($37.70), but
there was confusion over whether or not the resolution was passed. UNIAN
reported that it was not passed, while ITAR-TASS reported that it was.
The parliamentary Commission for Social Policy and Labor had proposed
the low-income threshold, but Labor Minister Mykola Biloblotsky said the
proposed level would throw 4.9 million people out of work. -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN CRACKDOWN. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 12 December
instructed all border crossing points in the country not to allow
deputies from the old parliament who have not joined the new one to
cross the border on diplomatic passports, Belapan reported. Two days
later, border guards refused to allow the speaker of the old parliament,
Syamyon Sharetsky, to cross the border into Poland at Hrodna and
confiscated his passport, saying that it is no longer valid,
international agencies reported. The same day, Reuters reported that the
leader of the Social Democratic Hramada, Mykola Statkevich, has been
sentenced to 15 days in prison for his part in organizing an
unauthorized rally in Minsk on 8 December. A dozen other rally
participants also received fines or sentences. Statkevich announced that
he will stage a hunger strike in protest. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RUSSIANS; EU ISSUES WARNING. Alyaksandr
Lukashenka on 13 December held a closed-door meeting with
representatives of Russian political and business circles, including
hard-liners Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Mikhail Monastyrskii, to discuss
Russian-Belarusian economic integration, ITAR-TASS reported. The meeting
was reportedly held in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Meanwhile, the EU
on 14 December adopted a statement expressing serious concerns over
developments in Belarus, Reuters reported. The EU urged Lukashenka to
restore respect for democratic and constitutional principles in his
country and accept the EU's proposal to send a fact-finding mission to
Belarus. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS. President Algirdas
Brazauskas on 13 December signed the mass media law amendments that
change the composition of the National Radio and TV Board, Radio
Lithuania reported. The Seimas passed the amendments on 5 December (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 6 December 1996). Brazauskas, who initially opposed
the changes, had to comply when the Seimas confirmed the amendments a
second time. The old board met on 13 December as scheduled, even though
it was to be dissolved the next day, and elected a new director general
in a sign of protest. -- Saulius Girnius

MARTIAL LAW ANNIVERSARY IN POLAND. Solidarity trade union and rightist
opposition parties staged rallies across the country on 13 December to
commemorate the 15th anniversary of the imposition of martial law,
Polish media reported on 14 December. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz said in a speech broadcast on public TV that he "bows his
head before the martial law victims." Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the
Communist Party's first secretary at that time, declared again that he
"is ready to stand before any court or tribunal" to assess his decision
to impose martial law. Meanwhile, according to a Public Opinion Research
Center poll, 54% of Poles say the decision to impose martial law was
justifiable, compared with 30% who say it was not. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH BUDGET APPROVED, SOCIAL DEMOCRATS EXPEL REBELS. The Czech
Parliament on 13 December approved the country's budget for 1997, Czech
media reported. The passage of the balanced budget, proposed by the
minority government but opposed by the opposition parties, was made
possible because two deputies from the Social Democratic Party (CSSD),
Jozef Wagner and Tomas Teplik, decided to vote in favor of the budget.
The CSSD leadership voted on 14 December to expel the two deputies. CSSD
Deputy Chairman Karel Machovec, who himself voted in favor of the budget
in the first reading but supported the party line in the final vote,
said that "expulsions are bad, inadmissible." -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES PENAL CODE AMENDMENT. The parliament on 13
December opened debate on "the protection of the republic" penal code
amendment, Sme reported. Opposition deputies boycotted the session and
some ruling coalition representatives were also absent. Since only 68
deputies remained in the 150-member parliament, voting was delayed until
17 December. Although the Slovak National Party (SNS) continues to
support the legislation, some representatives of its coalition partners-
-the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the Association of
Workers (ZRS)--are reportedly opposed. Opposition deputies issued a
statement calling the amendment a "gross attack on basic human rights
and freedoms guaranteed by the Slovak constitution." In other news, a
November opinion poll by the Focus agency showed the HZDS's support
falling to 24.4%, followed by four opposition parties with a combined
total of 40.9% and the SNS with 7.1%, TASR reported on 15 December. The
ZRS polled only 3.7%. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON EU INTEGRATION. Speaking after the EU summit in
Dublin, Vladimir Meciar on 14 December said Slovakia is a democratic
country that fulfills the conditions for EU membership, CTK reported.
Slovakia has achieved better economic results than any other EU-
associated country, he stressed, adding that it faces no social problems
and its legal system is in harmony with the EU's. The only remaining
step is "to improve trust in our democratic system," Meciar emphasized.
He said he is not aware of any EU reservations about Slovakia. In
reaction to the European Parliament's recent resolution criticizing the
Slovak parliament's decision to strip dissident Deputy Frantisek
Gaulieder of his mandate, ruling coalition representatives said the
affair is "an internal matter," Sme reported on 14 December. Meanwhile,
in a letter dated 10 December, EU-Slovak joint parliamentary committee
co-chairman Herbert Boesch issued yet another warning to Slovakia
regarding the Gaulieder affair, Praca reported six days later. -- Sharon
Fisher

CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS HUNGARIAN EDITION OF MEIN KAMPF. The publisher of
a new translation of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf has decided to appeal the
Budapest prosecutor general's 22 November suspension of retail sales of
the book, Nepszabadsag reported. The publisher says that Mein Kampf,
which was not legally available to anyone but researchers during the
communist era, has historical value and should be available to readers.
The new Hungarian translation is by Aron Monus, a Hungarian emigre who
returned from France after 1989. Monus's own anti-Semitic books were
banned in 1991, but he later won an appeal against the ban on freedom of
speech grounds. After Monus sold 2,000 copies of the new Hungarian
translation of Mein Kampf in October and November, the head of Hungary's
Jewish Community, Peter Feldmayer, appealed to the district attorney to
have the book banned. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BIGGEST BELGRADE PROTEST YET. An estimated 250,000 people participated
in a demonstration in Belgrade on 15 December in the largest gathering
of the ongoing peaceful protest to date, Radio B92 reported. On the same
day, a court in Nis ruled that the opposition coalition Zajedno had won
the 17 November runoff municipal elections, and urged the local
electoral commission to recognize those returns. Serbia-wide mass
demonstrations, now backed by students and trade unionists, developed
first as a call for the regime to recognize opposition wins at the
municipal level but have evolved into calls for the resignation of
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Finally, on 15 December, U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum met with Serbian opposition
leader Vuk Draskovic for more than two hours in Geneva. Kornblum emerged
from the meeting expressing his support for the "democratic process" in
Serbia, Reuters reported. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN PRESIDENT REACTS TO ZAJEDNO. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of
State Warren Christopher released on 13 December, Slobodan Milosevic
finally broke his silence on the issue of the opposition Zajedno
coalition and the ongoing mass public demonstrations. Milosevic denied
all allegations that he had engaged in or engineered electoral fraud to
undermine the 17 November opposition victories, international media
reported. He also stressed that he would not use force against
"peaceful" demonstrators but described the protesters as "vandals" and
"political terrorists." Meanwhile, the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia
condemned Zajedno, dubbing it a force bent on "destabilizing" Serbia. --
Stan Markotich

BOSNIAN ELECTIONS ON HOLD? The Croatian member of the three-man
presidency, Kresimir Zubak, said that the postponed local vote will not
be held in the spring as many had suggested. Zubak stated that the
ballot will take place instead in the summer or even later, AFP reported
on 14 December. The local elections were postponed from 14 September
into the new year following a dispute over what was called the P-2
option. That provision allowed persons to register in any locality where
they say they will eventually live. P-2 led to massive fraud, especially
by the Bosnian Serb authorities, who forced voters into registering in
strategic towns. The Muslims then complained and forced the OSCE to
postpone the vote. The Serbs, for their part, refuse to honor any new
ballot without the P-2 option. The deadlock continues despite some hopes
expressed over the weekend that it might soon be broken. -- Patrick
Moore

CROATS, MUSLIMS AGREE ON NEW GOVERNMENT. . . Officials of the mainly
Croatian and Muslim Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed on 14
December that the legislature will elect a new government on 18
December. At a subsequent session, the legislature will select a
president and vice president, international and local media reported.
Kresimir Zubak is the current federal president but must step down
because he holds a post on the joint presidency that includes a Muslim
and a Serb as well. The two sides agreed on setting up joint police
forces for Sarajevo, Mostar, and central Bosnia, as well as on setting
up the ministries of commerce, transport, energy, and industry in
Mostar. -- Patrick Moore

. . . BUT NOT ON EVICTION ISSUE. Kresimir Zubak on 13 December blocked a
session of the Muslim-Croat Federation planning to discuss the evictions
of Muslims from the Croat-held part of Mostar, Oslobodjenje reported the
next day. Zubak claimed the agenda had been set without prior
consultation with Croat members. The federation's vice president, Ejup
Ganic, said after the meeting that the future of the Dayton peace
accords is at stake in Mostar. But Zubak tried to play down the
evictions, saying that events in Mostar "have been purposely exaggerated
... to cover up other problems in the rest of the federation and what is
happening to Croats," AFP reported. Meanwhile, U.S. diplomat Robert
Beecroft said the U.S. is prepared to apply the heaviest of pressure to
make the federation work. NATO also warned Bosnian Croat forces, who
allegedly participated in the evictions of Muslims, that "swift military
action" would be taken against them if their involvement was confirmed.
-- Daria Sito Sucic

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT URGES CROATIA TO RESPECT PRESS FREEDOM. The European
Parliament on 12 December passed a resolution expressing deep concern at
the government's treatment of the independent Zagreb radio station Radio
101, Hina reported the next day. The resolution called on Croatia to
"renew Radio 101's permit to broadcast before it runs out on 15 January
1997." Last month, the government gave Radio 101's broadcasting
concession to the rival station but later backtracked on the move after
100,000 people demonstrated against it in Zagreb. Meanwhile, Croatian
police on 13 December detained a senior official of the Croatian Open
Society foundation, and released her two hours later, Reuters reported.
Police also released two of her colleagues who were detained for not
reporting how much money they had when entering the country (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 13 December 1996). According to the law, travelers
entering Croatia are not required to report foreign currency in their
possession. -- Daria Sito Sucic

DEMACI JOINS KOSOVO'S PARLIAMENTARY PARTY. The head of the Kosovo Human
Rights Council, Adem Demaci, has joined the Parliamentary Party of
Kosovo, Deutsche Welle's Albanian language service told OMRI on 16
December. Observers see the move as a challenge to shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova, who is pursuing a passive policy aimed at
securing the region's independence from Serbia. Demaci has criticized
Rugova's policy as ineffective and has called for open protests and
demonstrations against the Serbian regime. However, Demaci has also
advocated talks with Belgrade, implying that a solution may be found
through a new federal Yugoslav constitution that would separate Kosovo
from Serbia. Rugova, who met with Secretary of State Warren Christopher
in the U.S. on 13 December, has failed to use the mass protests in
Belgrade to give momentum to Kosovo's struggle against the Serbian
government. -- Fabian Schmidt

HUNGARIAN PREFECTS IN ROMANIA. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR) will have three prefects, according to an agreement
reached by the political parties making up the new governmental
coalition. The daily Jurnalul national reported on 16 December that the
UDMR will have prefects in the counties of Harghita, Salaj, and Satu
Mare, and deputy prefects in Covasna, Hunedoara, Mures, and Bucharest.
Harghita and Covasna are inhabited by strong ethnic Hungarian majorities
and, with the exception of Bucharest, the other four counties have
relatively large ethnic Hungarian populations. According to the
agreement, the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic will have 19
prefects, the Social Democratic Union 12, the National Liberal Party
seven, and the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention one prefect.
-- Michael Shafir

CIORBEA VISITS SITE OF NATURAL CALAMITY. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea
on 15 December visited the village of Parcovaci near Harlau, Iasi
county, which was hit by a landslide. The slide has affected about 250
acres of land and has caused the river bed to raise about 30 cm,
threatening to flood large areas of land. About 100 homes are affected,
but there are no reports on loss of life. Ciorbea, who was accompanied
by several other members of the government, promised emergency aid,
Radio Bucharest reported on 16 December. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN LEADER ON PROSPECTS OF SETTLING TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT.
Vladimir Solonari, the leader of the Moldovan Civic Unity Movement, said
the victory of Petru Lucinschi in the presidential run-off on 1 December
opens the way for a settlement of the conflict with the breakaway
Transdniester region, Infotag reported on 13 December. Solonari, who was
one of Lucinschi's most ardent supporters, added that any settlement
must respect Moldova's borders. He said the inhabitants of the breakaway
region were "tired of uncertainty" and "longing to live in a unified
country." According to Solonari, Russia can play a positive role in
finding a solution to the conflict and Lucinschi can utilize his "good
connections in Moscow" to influence the Tiraspol authorities to agree to
"a reasonable compromise." -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS PREPARE FOR PARTY CONGRESS. Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) members attended some 80 local conferences on 14-15 December
to elect their delegates to the extraordinary BSP congress scheduled for
21-22 December, the BSP daily Duma reported on 16 December. Many of the
local conferences called for a new government. BSP parliamentary faction
leader Krasimir Premyanov said that strong criticism and a possible
government reshuffle as a result of the congress are legitimate, but
that the party's unity must be preserved. Former BSP Deputy Chairman
Yanaki Stoilov accused Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov's
government of incompetence and of lying to the people about the future.
Most ministers and prominent BSP leaders were elected as delegates, but
several prominent reformist BSP members--including Andrey Raychev,
Velislava Dareva, and Dimitar Yonchev of the Alliance for Social
Democracy--failed to get elected. Local conferences will also be held
this week. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN STUDENTS HOLD STREET PROTESTS. About 1,000 students, led by
dissident Azem Hajdari, demonstrated against Albanian TV chief Qemal
Sakajeva in Tirana on 13 December, Deutsche Welle's Albanian service
reported. Hajdari accused Sakajeva of biased reporting and criticized
the government as corrupt and authoritarian. The demonstrators were also
protesting low wages, pensions, and stipends. Hajdari called on the
trade unions and students to unite in a fight for better living
conditions. Since November, Hajdari has also been heading a breakaway
faction of the Union of Independent Trade Unions. Hajdari did not attend
the recent official celebrations of the sixth anniversary of the
students' movement and the founding of Albania's Democratic Party. --
Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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