A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 2, Part II, 3 January 1997

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 POLITICAL UPDATE. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
appointed Piotr Prakapovich first deputy prime minister, Belarusian
radio reported. Prakapovich, an economist, is considered a moderate. He
will be responsible for implementing the government's socio-economic
development program until the year 2000. In other news, several regions-
including Minsk, Mahileu, and Hrodna-have nominated candidates to the
Council of the Republic, the new upper chamber of the legislature,
Belapan reported on 31 December. The lists of candidates are to be
submitted to the Central Electoral Commission on 4 January. Lukashenka
has the final say over the candidates. * Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT INCREASES CONTROL OVER ARMS EXPORTS. President
Leonid Kuchma has issued a decree aimed at increasing control over
defense-related exports, Ukrainian Radio reported on 28 December. The
decree transforms the State Export Commission into the State Commission
for Export Control Policy. The Export Technical Committee will be
renamed the State Export Control Service under the cabinet of ministers.
The reorganization is meant to establish strict control over
international transfers of arms and military technology as well as raw
materials and skills that may be used for the production of weapons and
other military technology. * Ustina Markus

UKRAINIANS SAY THEIR LIVING STANDARDS CONTINUE TO DECLINE. An opinion
poll asking 1,200 Ukrainians about their living standards in 1996 showed
the majority still feel their standards are declining, Den reported on
31 December. Of the respondents, 37% said their living standards
declined significantly in 1996, 33% said they declined somewhat; and 23%
said their standards did not change. Only 6% said their standards
improved somewhat; and 1% said they improved significantly. The average
wage in the first 11 months of 1996 was 144.76 hryvnyas ($77), but real
wages fell by 23% over the same period owing to inflation. Official
unemployment levels remained at a low 1.1%, but real unemployment is
believed to be at least nine time higher. Prices rose by 38.5% over the
first eleven months of the year. * Ustina Markus

FREE AGRICULTURAL TRADE ZONE GOES INTO EFFECT IN BALTICS. The agreement
on a free agricultural trade zone in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia went
into effect on 1 January, ETA reported. The pact, signed in Vilnius last
June, abolishes customs duties, tariffs, and import-export quotas in
agricultural trade. At the same time, it allows a member country to
implement some protective measures if its economic situation takes a
turn for the worse. In April 1994, an agreement on the free trade of
industrial goods in the Baltics went into effect. * Ustina Markus

LATVIA CONCERNED ABOUT EU REPORT ON CORRUPTION. Interior Minister Dainis
Turlais has criticized an EU report alleging corruption at all levels in
Latvia, BNS reported on 2 January. In particular, the police, which are
subordinated to the Interior Ministry, were singled out for criticism
for accepting bribes and other irregularities. Turlais said citing
corruption without mentioning specific names or instances makes no
sense, adding that Latvia is not the only country suffering from
corruption. The minister admonished the country for presenting itself in
a bad light. * Ustina Markus

YOUNG POLISH OFFICERS COMPLAIN ABOUT ARMY CONDITIONS. Ensigns from the
17th Mechanized Brigade have sent a letter to President Aleksander
Kwasniewski complaining about the lack of funds and out-dated equipment,
Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 3 January. They commented that today, the
basic training for soldiers is not shooting but reading instructions
about shooting. Under such conditions, it would be impossible to train
soldiers in 12 months, as the Defense Ministry is currently planning to
do. The young officers also complained about high expenditures on
ceremonies involving the participation of high-ranking officers, noting
that, meanwhile, the basic needs of the army are not being satisfied.
Defense Minister Stanislaw Dobrzanski, who is currently on vacation, was
unavailable for comment. * Jakub Karpinski

CZECH SECRET SERVICE DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN KOVAC JR. KIDNAPPING. The
Czech intelligence service (BIS) has categorically rejected allegations
by the Slovak pro-government newspaper Slovenska Republika that the BIS
was involved in the kidnapping of the Slovak president's son in 1995,
Czech media reported on 3 January. Slovenska Republika based its
accusation on a Czech TV interview with Oskar Fegyveres, a key witness
to the kidnapping of Michal Kovac Jr. Fegyveres has been in hiding for
more than a year. The paper alleged that the interview took place in a
building in southern Moravia that the BIS uses as a base for its
activities. The BIS has also denied that is the case. In addition to the
BIS, the paper accused the Hungarian and Swiss intelligence services as
well as U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ralph Johnson of cooperation with
Fegyveres. * Victor Gomez

SLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN SAYS PARLIAMENT ACTED UNCONSTITUTIONALLY.
Vladimir Stefko told Reuters on 2 January that the parliament violated
the constitution last month when it approved a new version of the penal
code amendment on the protection of the republic. President Michal Kovac
had vetoed an earlier version of the law approved in March; and
according to the constitution, the parliament was required to discuss
the legislation again before passing a new version. "The president has
deemed it unconstitutional that the deputies approved a new, almost
identical version, without rejecting the old one," Stefko said. Sme on 3
January wrote that if the parliament passes the later version of the
amendment for a second time, Kovac will be unable to sign it until the
first version is rejected. * Sharon Fisher

SLOVAKIA'S "LUSTRATION" LAW NO LONGER IN EFFECT. Jan Langos, Democratic
Party chairman and former Czechoslovak interior minister, told TASR that
as of 31 December 1996, the 1991 Czechoslovak lustration law is no
longer in effect in Slovakia. The law, designed to cleanse state bodies
of communist-era secret service (StB) agents and top communist
officials, has not been enforced in Slovakia since the 1992
parliamentary elections. Langos and several other opposition deputies
submitted a bill in February 1996 on regulations for opening StB files,
but the parliament has yet to decide on the issue. The law would prevent
the current secret service from illegally using the files and would give
each citizen the right to see his file, if one exists. It would also
require that the Interior Ministry publish the real names of StB agents
and informers. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT REFUSES TO SIGN "CONFLICT OF INTERESTS" BILL. Arpad
Goncz on 2 January rejected the parliament's draft law on conflict of
interests, saying several of its provisions are inappropriate, Hungarian
dailies reported. The parliament passed the much-debated legislation
last month. Goncz was particularly critical of a provision permitting
deputies to retain private-sector posts secured before the 1994 general
elections. Opposition parties said they were pleased that the president
has rejected the bill, since they share his concerns. The governing
parties, however, claimed to be surprised by his decision. The
parliament now has 60 days within which to amend the contested
provisions. * Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH BLASTS MILOSEVIC. Thousands of Belgrade
protesters on 2 January continued their latest tactic of making noise
with pots, whistles, and other implements during Serbian TV's 7:30 p.m.
newscast, CNN reported. Also in the capital, the bishops of the Serbian
Orthodox Church issued a declaration blasting President Slobodan
Milosevic for "pitting Serb against Serb." They noted that, "Force has
been used by the regime with the intention of stifling the freely
expressed will of the people. The blood of the innocent [had flowed
because the regime was] trying to sow discord and provoke bloodshed just
so it can hang on to power. The Holy Synod condemns the authorities who
have not only ignored the wishes of the electorate, but...have crushed
underfoot our glorious and painful history...[and] national and moral
values. Only the respect of democratic principles and human rights, the
recognition of the November 17 elections, can bring hope of a better
future" to Serbia, AFP and Nasa Borba reported. The bishops also accused
him of betraying the cause of the Krajina Serbs. * Patrick Moore

SERBIAN WRITERS SAY MILOSEVIC USES "STATE TERRORISM." Yet another
prestigious Serbian body, the writers' association, has slammed the
president. Reflecting the same themes as the Synod, the writers told
Milosevic in an open letter that: "By senseless vote stealing, your
party has hit a blow against the state, the constitution and the law,
and by your incomprehensible decisions you have led Serbia to the verge
of civil war. You have deliberately provoked battles in the streets of
Belgrade between peaceful demonstrators and people, led astray, whom you
brought here [on 24 December]," AFP reported on 3 January. Meanwhile,
the U.S. has urged the OSCE to condemn the Serbian authorities if they
continue to drag their feet on accepting an OSCE report upholding the 17
November local elections results, Nasa Borba wrote. * Patrick Moore

NATO TO SEIZE UNREGISTERED BOSNIAN ARMY MUNITIONS. The NATO-led
Stabilization Force (SFOR) said on 2 January it will confiscate tank
ammunition donated to the Bosnian army through a U.S.-sponsored "Train
and Equip" program because the munitions were not properly registered,
Reuters reported. NATO spokesman Maj. Tony White said the force in
Bosnia strictly insists on peace-time rules requiring armies to fully
document all weapons or ammunition stored at designated depots. SFOR
troops have confiscated 474 unregistered tank rounds out of a total of
11,000 shipped to the Bosnian federation under the U.S.-sponsored aid
program. In other news, NATO announced the same day that at least a
dozen houses formerly inhabited by Bosnian Muslims and Serbs were
destroyed over the past week in a Croat-held area near Mostar. The
attacks are aimed at discouraging non-Croatian refugees from returning
to their homes south of Mostar, Reuters reported. * Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA INDICTS SOROS FOUNDATION FOR TAX EVASION. Zagreb's public
prosecutor is pressing charges against three senior officials at the
local branch of the Open Society Institute for alleged financial
malpractice and tax evasion, international agencies reported on 2
January. After storming the foundation's premises in Zagreb, Croatian
police said they had found evidence of "illegal financial transactions."
The prosecutor charged that since December 1995, employees at the OSI's
Zagreb office have been receiving two salaries: one in Croatian kuna and
another in U.S. dollars. The latter, he said, was not reported to the
Croatian tax authorities. Unpaid taxes are said to total 2.7 million
kuna ($490,000). But the Soros Foundation in New York implicitly denies
the charges, saying there was every reason to believe that its Croatian
affiliate complied with local laws. The foundation has spent some $15
million in Croatia since 1992 on humanitarian and cultural projects.
* Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN RAIL WORKERS END STRIKE. The Croatian State Railroads (HZ) and
the rail workers' union have reached a deal on wages, ending an almost
month-long strike, international media reported on 2 January. The HZ
management agreed to sign the first part of a collective agreement to
guarantee higher wages. In return, the union agreed to halt the protest
action. The government has said it wants to lower subsidies to the
railway company, which totaled 1 billion kuna ($200 million) in 1996.
Croatian TV said parliament will soon discuss a long-term solution for
the company. Meanwhile, the HZ has increased rail fares by up to 52% as
of 1 January, the Croatian press reported. * Daria Sito Sucic

MACEDONIAN INFLATION REMAINS LOW. According to year-end figures
published by the Macedonian Statistical Institute, inflation reached
3.0% in 1996, Nova Makedonija reported on 3 January. Consumer prices
were up 2.3% compared with 1995. Services increased by 6.8%, industrial
foodstuff 2.4%, other industrial products 1.8%, and beverages by 1.1%.
The price of agricultural products, however, fell by 8.2%. Vecer
reported that the Macedonian telecommunications company has halved the
price of a new phone line from the equivalent of $650 to $325. * Stefan
Krause

ROMANIA IS MOST OPTIMISTIC FORMER COMMUNIST COUNTRY. According to a
recent Gallup poll, 61% of Romanians believe that 1997 will be better
than 1996, Radio Bucharest reported on 2 January. Romania took first
place in the poll, which was conducted in several former communist
countries. Georgians are the second most optimistic nation, while
Hungarians are the most pessimistic. A majority of Bulgarians and
Slovaks also expect 1997 to be worse than last year. * Michael Shafir

ROMANIA, MOLDOVA GRAPPLE WITH BIG FREEZE. Forty-three people, most of
them homeless, have so far frozen to death in Romania, as temperatures
plunged to around minus 25 degrees Celsius, Reuters reported on 2
January. Citing Rompres, the agency said that traffic has nonetheless
returned to normal in the eastern and southern parts of the country,
which were the most affected by last week's blizzards. Thick ice is
still preventing traffic on parts of the Danube, and flights between
Bucharest and six provincial towns have been halted due to fog or icy
runways. Otopeni, Bucharest's international airport, is operating,
however. In neighboring Moldova, 29 people have died as a result of
fires caused by the faulty use of electrical devices in attempts to
alleviate freezing conditions, BASA-press reported on 2 January.
* Michael Shafir

MOLDOVA SUES KAZAKSTAN OVER NON-PAYMENT FOR SERVICES RENDERED. Moldova
has begun legal proceedings against Kazakstan for the non-payment of
cereal transportation costs in 1993, Moldpres reported on 2 January. The
agency said Kazakstan owes Moldova 17 million tons of cereals or their
equivalent in cash. The case is to be heard by the Minsk-based Economic
Court of the CIS on 6 February. * Michael Shafir

IS BULGARIAN INDEPENDENT TRADE UNION BACKING SOCIALISTS? Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP) Chairman Georgi Parvanov has met with Krastyo
Petkov, leader of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in
Bulgaria (KNSB), to discuss the formation of a new BSP-led government,
the Bulgarian press reported on 3 January. Petkov noted that the next
prime minister and cabinet must enjoy the confidence of international
financial institutions. He proposed that a coalition government be
formed, saying that four ministers in the last cabinet-Interior Minister
Nikolay Dobrev, Defense Minister Dimitar Pavlov, Agriculture Minister
Krastyo Trendafilov, and Trade Minister Atanas Paparizov-were "worthy to
stay on." Parvanov said the meeting reflected the BSP's new, "more open"
policy. According to Duma, both leaders agreed that over the next few
months, the KNSB would ensure that civil peace is maintained in order to
allow the cabinet to carry out its duties. * Maria Koinova in Sofia

WHO WILL BE BULGARIA'S NEXT PREMIER? With consultations on the formation
of a new government under way, Bulgarian media are speculating who will
head the new cabinet. According to Standart on 3 January, KNSB leader
Petkov favors parliamentary speaker Blagovest Sendov or First Deputy
Foreign Minister Irina Bokova. Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev and
former Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski have also been frequently named
as possible successors to Zhan Videnov, who resigned last week. Trud
reports that Sofia-based foreign diplomats have made it clear that
Dobrev would enjoy little, if any, support abroad. 24 chasa says that
Dobrev is disinclined to become prime minister and would prefer to keep
his present post and become deputy premier. Meanwhile, the newly elected
BSP Supreme Council convenes today to elect a new Executive Bureau, the
party's highest decision-making body. * Stefan Krause

GREECE PLEDGES TO LEGALIZE ALBANIAN IMMIGRANTS. The Greek government has
said it will issue work permits to illegal Albanian immigrants this
month, Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service reported on 2 January.
Immigrants will be given a time-frame in which to register. Those who
fail to report to the authorities will risk expulsion. * 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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