No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 242, Part II, 17 November 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

RUKH HOLDS FIRST ALL-UKRAINIAN CONFERENCE. The first party conference of
the Narodnii Rukh (People's Movement) of Ukraine met on 14-15 December
in Kyiv and unveiled its pre-election program for 1997, ITAR-TASS
reported the following day. The party also called for the immediate
withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. One part of the program calls
for the integration of Ukraine into the EU, WEU, and NATO, while another
section focuses on fighting poverty. Rukh called on other Ukrainian
democratic and reformist parties to unite against the left. A total of
490 delegates from 26 local party organizations, more than 30 Ukrainian
parliament deputies, and guests from abroad attended the conference. --
Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN SOUTH KOREA. Leonid Kuchma arrived in Seoul to
meet with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Young Sam, and sign an
agreement on civil aviation and a declaration on the principles of
bilateral relations and cooperation, Ukrainian Radio reported on 16
December. The two countries' ministers of external economic relations
signed agreements on investment protection. During the visit, Kuchma
received an honorary degree from Kyunghee University. -- Ustina Markus

FIRST SESSION ON BELARUSIAN LOWER HOUSE BEGINS. The House of
Representatives of the Belarusian Parliament met for its first session
on 17 December, ITAR-TASS reported. The house is made up of 110 deputies
from the old unicameral parliament who acknowledged the legitimacy of
the 24 November constitutional referendum, and expressed their desire to
serve in the new bicameral legislature. The speaker of the new lower
house is Anatol Malafeev. The session will deal primarily with
organizational issues. The house will have to organize standing
committees, elect members to the committees, and change the law on the
budget. It would also have to confirm a new prime minister, but
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said he is content with acting Prime
Minister Syarhei Ling, and will not bother appointing a replacement. --
Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SPEAKS AT WOMEN'S FORUM. Alyaksandr Lukashenka
spoke on 14 December at the first forum of women's organizations,
Belarusian Radio reported. Women are among the most vulnerable social
groups in Belarus, with some 60% of them unemployed. The president
suggested that some 30% of the upper house of parliament should be
composed of women, and that women's organizations should administer the
public humanitarian aid and children's health programs. He said the
status of women is linked to the country's economic performance, noting
that the economic decline has been halted and GDP is expected to
increase by 2%-3% in 1996. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

74 ASIAN REFUGEES LEAVE LATVIA. The Interior Ministry press center
announced on 16 December that 74 Asian refugees from the Olaine
internment camp had left Latvia, BNS reported. They had arrived
illegally in Latvia in 1995 through Russia or Belarus. Their legal
status in Latvia was unclear since the country has not yet complied with
requests of the Nordic countries that it adopt and implement refugee
legislation in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. As
most of the refugees have relatives in nearby countries, 53 of them will
go to Sweden, 19 to Denmark, and two to Australia. Another 47 will leave
for Finland and Norway in the near future. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR WAR AGAINST SMUGGLING. Algirdas
Brazauskas on 16 December called smuggling "more than a terrible thing"
and urged the new government to carry out a revolution in border
protection, BNS reported. He said that Lithuania's budget is losing more
than 1 billion litai ($250 million) a year in revenues because of
smuggling. Since 90% of the contraband goods entering the country pass
through official border posts and replacing border officials has not
improved the situation, he called for modernizing border control to
minimize the human factor of the task. He also pointed out that poor
border controls would hinder the country's efforts to gain membership in
the EU. -- Saulius Girnius

EXPERIMENT IN POLISH ADMINISTRATION REFORM. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz on 16 December met the organizers of the Municipal Area of
Public Services, an experimental alliance of 14 communes in Nowy Sacz
province in southern Poland, Rzeczpospolita reported on 17 December. As
of 1 January, the area administration will manage the region's health
service, education, culture, sport, and foster homes and will serve as a
test for an intermediary level of local administration between the
commune and the province, known in Polish as the powiat. Cimoszewicz
said he advocates establishing powiats and enlarging provinces.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski has suggested that a national
referendum be held on the three-tiered administration scheme. The
Democratic Left Alliance supports the scheme, but the Polish Peasant
Party, the other governing coalition partner, opposes it. -- Jakub
Karpinski

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES PENAL CODE AMENDMENT. The parliament on 17
December passed the controversial penal code amendment on the protection
of the republic that was submitted by a group of Slovak National Party
deputies, TASR reported. Of the 77 deputies who took part in the vote,
66 voted in favor, five against, three deputies abstained, and three did
not vote. The Party of Democratic Left (SDL) was the only opposition
party to participate in debates on the amendment, but because the
governing coalition did not want to delete controversial points from the
proposal, the SDL deputies left the session, joining the other
opposition parties who were already absent. The amendment, first passed
in March, has attracted fierce criticism domestically and
internationally. -- Anna Siskova

SLOVAKIA TO BE WITHOUT PRESIDENT? Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 16
December told Slovak Radio that he does not support recent opposition
calls for constitutional amendments that would provide for the direct
election of the president. The opposition fears that when President
Michal Kovac's term expires in March 1998, the parliament will be unable
to agree on a new candidate since a three-fifths majority is needed--a
scenario that Meciar also believes is likely. The prime minister would
thus take over the presidential duties until a new president could be
elected after the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for fall 1998.
-- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK RULING COALITION DENIES PROBLEMS. Deputy Parliament Chairman
Augustin Marian Huska told RFE/RL's Slovak Service on 16 December that
European authorities should also listen to the government, adding that
there is a tendency in the West to see the situation in Slovakia through
the "eyes of the opposition." Huska, who also serves as a co-chairman of
the EU-Slovak Joint Parliamentary Committee, on 10 December received a
warning letter from his European counterpart, Herbert Bosch. Bosch
expressed concern about the decision to revoke Frantisek Gaulieder's
mandate and said recent events have strengthened EU concern about the
Slovak parliament's supervision of the intelligence service and
opposition participation in all parliamentary committees. Bosch added
that if the trend does not change, it could have "serious consequences"
for Slovakia's for early entry EU. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER APPOINTS VON HABSBURG AS AMBASSADOR OF EUROPEAN
INTEGRATION. Gyula Horn on 16 December appointed the 32-year-old
Archduke Georg von Habsburg, grandson of the last king of Hungary, as
Hungary's ambassador for European integration, Hungarian media reported.
Horn said the appointment would enhance Hungary's international
reputation and also serve as recognition for the work of Otto von
Habsburg, Georg von Habsburg's father, who is a European Parliament
deputy from Austria and has been pushing Hungary's case for European
integration. In other news, Horn on 16 December appealed to the EU not
to open simultaneous talks with all countries applying for membership
but to start with those most ready to join. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN OPPOSITION TAKES A SECOND TOWN . . . A court in the Serbian town
of Smederovska Palanka on 16 December ruled that the local electoral
commission must turn over the municipal council to the opposition
Zajedno coalition, thereby recognizing the opposition's victory in the
17 November municipal elections. It was the second such ruling in two
days (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 December 1996). For his part,
Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said that "recognition of
second round [17 November] elections is the best solution," Nasa Borba
reported on 17 December. Finally, in another sign that Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic may be willing to make concessions and amid growing
trade union support for the daily mass demonstrations across Serbia, the
Serbian government announced it would not debate an unpopular labor bill
that could throw as many as 800,000 people out of work, Reuters reported
on 17 December. -- Stan Markotich

. . . AND VOWS TO CONTINUE WITH MASS DEMONSTRATIONS. Opposition leaders
have pledged to continue with peaceful mass rallies at least until
Milosevic recognizes opposition victories in all 12 of Serbia's largest
municipalities, where the Zajedno coalition scored second-round
victories. On 16 December, the 27th consecutive day of peaceful rallies
in Belgrade, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated, Nasa Borba
reported. Zoran Djindjic, leader of the opposition Democratic Party,
told the crowd that the opposition coalition would continue to back
nationwide protests and encourage groups from all across Serbia to trek
to Belgrade in solidarity with protesters in the capital. Reuters quoted
him saying: "One thousand people from each of 30 towns in Serbia will
walk to join us here in Belgrade in the new year, we will be world
champions in protest marathons." -- Stan Markotich

PLAVSIC WARNS OF WAR OVER BRCKO. Republika Srpska President Biljana
Plavsic said on 16 December that the contested strategic town of Brcko
is and will remain Serb. She warned that there will be war if
international arbitration takes it away from the Serbs, VOA reported.
"Through its force and its good organization, the army must show that
Brcko is a territory which is inviolable and dangerous for all enemies,"
Plavsic told the local military contingent. The formerly mainly Muslim
town controls the key land corridor that links the eastern and western
halves of Republika Srpska. It is the only territorial issue that was
not resolved at Dayton. Mediation was to have settled the matter by 14
December, but the deadline was moved to 15 February after the Serbs
refused to attend meetings. Plavsic may be trying to repair links to the
army, whose leadership she purged in November. -- Patrick Moore

OPPOSITION PARTIES FROM BOTH BOSNIAN ENTITIES TO FORM SHADOW-GOVERNMENT?
The Sarajevo-based Union of Bosnian-Herzegovinian Social-Democrats
(UBSD) and the Banja Luka-based Liberal Socialist Party on 15 December
proposed the formation of an alliance of non-nationalist parties to try
to resolve various disputed issues and prevent the country from falling
apart, Onasa reported. The Democratic Alternative Forum (FDA) alliance
would stand against nationalists who are working for Bosnia's division.
Miodrag Zivanovic, head of the Liberal Socialist Party, said the
opposition in both entities is long overdue in creating a reconstruction
project to improve living conditions in all of Bosnia. He added that the
situation in Republika Srpska is critical because no foreign aid is
coming in. "The isolating policy of the current Bosnian Serb leadership
jeopardizes the population," international agencies quoted him as
saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROAT REFUGEES FROM SERBIA RESETTLE FORMER SERB-HELD AREA IN CROATIA . .
. Croats from Serbia's province of Kosovo, forced to leave Serbia in
1991, are resettling in the small town of Kistanje located in the
Krajina area, which was held by Croatian Serbs for four years, AFP
reported on 16 December. Kistanje is at the heart of a pilot scheme
designed to encourage the repopulation of a region that became a
wasteland after some 180,000 Serbs fled into Serbia or Bosnia during the
Croatian army offensive last year. Croatian authorities hope to move in
more than 1,000 Croats from Kosovo by 1 January. Employment for several
hundred people will be provided by the rehabilitation of a local metal
works, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

. . . WHILE SERBS RETURN TO MUSLIM-CROAT FEDERATION. In a rare
experiment, Serbs from the village of Krtova, located in a demilitarized
zone near Tuzla, have returned to their homes in the Bosnian Federation,
international agencies reported on 16 December. About half of the 1,150
people who fled in September 1995, when the Bosnian army recaptured the
area, have returned. While attempts by Muslims to move back to their
homes in a demilitarized zone of the Bosnian Serb entity have
encountered resistance, these Serbs have had no problems with Muslim-
Croat federation officials. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Federation is
demanding the release of 40 people arrested by Serbs this year while
practicing their right to freedom of movement, which is guaranteed under
the Dayton peace accords, Oslobodjenje reported on 16 December. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

SHALIKASHVILI CALLS FOR NEW FORCE TO ARREST WAR CRIMINALS. The head of
the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, Gen. John Shalikashvili, visited Bosnia
and praised IFOR, international and regional media reported on 16
December. The peacekeepers' mandate ends on 20 December, but the smaller
SFOR will then take over IFOR's duties and facilities. The U.S. general
said that IFOR could be proud of its work but regretted that more was
not done to arrest indicted war criminals, which IFOR and the general
call "police work." NATO claims that responsibility for arresting war
criminals lies with the various former Yugoslav civilian authorities,
but critics charge that IFOR has deliberately turned a blind eye toward
war criminals in order to avoid violence. Shalikashvili said that "a way
must be found for an international police force to be constituted" and
arrest suspects. The UN's International Police Task Force has long been
in place but, like IFOR, it also keeps away from touchy situations
involving war criminals. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN AUTHORITIES DETAIN RETURNING KOSOVO ALBANIANS. Serb police on 7
and 14 December detained 14 Kosovo Albanians, including a mother with
two children, at the Pristina Airport as they returned from Switzerland,
ATSH reported on 16 December. The Pristina based Council for the Defense
of Human Rights and Freedoms said all of the detained Albanians had
valid travel documents. Meanwhile, shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova
left the U.S. for Paris on 14 December, after meeting with U.S. senior
officials, including Secretary of State Warren Christopher. The official
announcements after the meeting gave no indication, however, that any
concrete steps or substantial diplomatic efforts would be undertaken on
the Kosovo issue. -- Fabian Schmidt

CONSTANTINESCU VOWS TO FIND 1989 REVOLT TRUTH. President Emil
Constantinescu has pledged to uncover and reveal the truth about the
events of December 1989, which toppled dictator Nicolae Ceausescu,
RFE/RL and Radio Bucharest reported on 16 December. Speaking in
Timisoara, at ceremonies marking the beginning of the 1989 events,
Constantinescu said it is the duty of the country's new leaders to
investigate allegations that hundreds died as a result of confusion
purposely sowed by those who succeeded Ceausescu and his team to
leadership positions. The crowd, estimated at some 15,000, cheered and
chanted "the truth, the truth," and waved flags with the center torn
out--the symbol of the 1989 revolt. His predecessor, Ion Iliescu, who
had never participated in ceremonies marking the revolt in Timisoara,
sent a message to the gathering. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DISMISSES STATE TELEVISION HEAD. Prime Minister
Victor Ciorbea's government on 16 December announced the dismissal of
Dumitru Popa, widely regarded as a partisan of the previous executive,
as head of Romanian state television. The decision was, however,
explained in legalistic terms. The communique said that since Popa was
not a member of the television administration's board, he was legally
barred from staying in the position. Popa was "temporarily" replaced by
film director Stere Gulea. The head of the Free Trade Unions in Radio
and Television, Dumitru Iuga, protested against the dismissal and said
he is disappointed that the new government behaves just as its
predecessor did, Radio Bucharest reported on 17 December. -- Michael
Shafir

MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES IN SNEGUR'S FAVOR. Moldova's
Constitutional Court on 16 December ruled against an appeal launched by
the country's prosecutor general, who had contested outgoing President
Mircea Snegur's assumption of direct control over the Defense Ministry
last April. Snegur's decision followed fruitless attempts to dismiss
Defense Minister Gen. Pavel Creanga, whom Snegur had accused of
corruption. The parliament and government did not back the attempt to
dismiss Creanga, and the Constitutional Court then ruled that Snegur
could not dismiss him without the legislature's consent. In response,
Snegur assumed direct control over the ministry and the court has now
confirmed that the measure was in line with the constitution, which
defines the president as commander in chief and grants him the right to
directly command the armed forces, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 16
December. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER REJECTS OPPOSITION'S CONSENSUS FORMULA. Zhan
Videnov on 16 December said at a meeting with local Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) leaders in Vratsa that the currency board--proposed by the
IMF as a "key element" in Bulgaria's economic stabilization--should be
introduced by his government and passed by the present parliament, Duma
and Standart reported. Videnov's statement amounts to a rejection of the
United Democratic Forces' (ODS) proposal that the board be created only
if a consensus is reached in parliament on early elections and the
resignation of the Bulgarian National Bank's current executive board.
Videnov said the cabinet will publish a document on the country's
financial stabilization--including stringent financial discipline and a
fixed exchange rate--before the 21-22 December extraordinary BSP
congress. Videnov apparently aims to use the document to shore up his
leadership before the congress, at which many observers believe he will
either lose his position as BSP leader or prime minister. -- Maria
Koinova in Sofia

BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER STARTS ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN. Nikolay
Dobrev on 16 December launched a campaign against corruption in his
ministry, Duma reported, citing an unnamed source. Ministry officials
will have to declare their income, real estate, and cars annually.
Officials leaking confidential information will be fired and taken to
court. On 13 December, Dobrev said corruption within the state
administration and low motivation among ill-paid police officers are the
main obstacles to fighting organized crime, Demokratsiya reported. He
said corruption and the selling of classified information are major
problems and noted that police operations against organized crime are
always plagued by information leaks. He said "criminal groups have more
agents in the [Interior Ministry] than we have among them."  -- Stefan
Krause

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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            Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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