The road uphill and the road downhill are one and the same. - Heraclitus
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 3, Part II, 6 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

GAZPROM THREATENS BELARUS WITH GAS CUTS. The Russian gas monopoly
Gazprom has threatened to cut gas supplies to Belarus by 40% because of
outstanding bills, AFP and Russian Public TV reported on 4 January. Last
February, Russia and Belarus signed a "zero option" agreement that wrote
off Belarus's gas debt. But since then, its gas payment arrears have
climbed to $295 million. In December, Gazprom cut supplies by 15% for
three days, prompting Minsk to hand over $10 million. -- Ustina Markus

FORMER BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER STOPPED FROM TRAVELING TO
POLAND. Stanislau Shushkevich has been prevented from traveling to
Poland because his diplomatic passport is invalid, Reuters reported on 5
January. At the end of last year, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
decreed that diplomatic passports held by members of the 1996
legislature were no longer valid. Previously, Syamyon Sharetsky, speaker
of the 1996 parliament, had been prevented from traveling abroad for the
same reason. Shushkevich said he tried to obtain a regular passport, but
the Interior Ministry refused to issue the document without approval
from the presidential Security Council. -- Ustina Markus

POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS IN BELARUS. President Lukashenka has signed a
decree appointing Mikhail Myasnikovich as head of the president's
administration, Reuters reported on 5 January. He appointed Hryhor
Vasilevich as chief justice of the Constitutional Court and also named
Justice Minister Valeryi Sukalo as a member of that body . Under the new
constitution, Lukashenka has the right to appoint the chief justice and
five other judges to the 11-member court. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT COMES INTO BEING. Ukraine's new
Constitutional Court formally came into being on 3 January, Ukrainian
Radio reported. The head of the court, Vitalii Boiko, met with President
Leonid Kuchma to mark the occasion. So far, 16 out of the court's 18
judges have been appointed. The remaining two are be appointed by the
parliament, which has the right to appoint one-third of the court's
justices. The same day, Kuchma submitted his first case to be examined
by the court. The case involves the accounting department of the
parliament. -- Ustina Markus

CRIMEAN DEPUTY RESIGNS OVER KYIV'S POLICIES. Oleksandr Bobrinev, a
deputy from Sevastopol, has resigned, saying Kyiv is pursuing a policy
that is increasing tension over Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet,
ITAR-TASS reported on 4 January. Bobrinev said President Leonid Kuchma
and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz are reorienting the country
toward the West and moving closer to a radical nationalist position. His
resignation is retroactive to the beginning of the year. -- Ustina
Markus

CITIZENSHIP POLL IN ESTONIA. An opinion poll in Estonia shows that two
out of three ethnic Russians aged 18-29 want to apply for Estonian
citizenship, BNS reported on 3 January. Only one-tenth of young Russians
in Estonia have acquired Russian citizenship, even though the procedure
is considered very easy. Some 60% of Russian citizens said they took
Russian citizenship only because they did not want to be without any
citizenship and because the procedure for obtaining Estonian citizenship
is more difficult. Twenty-one percent said they took Russian citizenship
because of their ethnic background. Three-quarters of young Russians
said they regarded Estonia as their country, while only 27% of elderly
Russians said the same. Of the 110,000 Russian citizens in Estonia, 42%
are pensioners over the age of 60. One-tenth of young Russians could not
speak any Estonian, while half of the over-60 group had no knowledge of
that language. Most of those polled said they felt it was right for
Russian children to learn Estonian. -- Ustina Markus

LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON VISIT TO POLAND. Algirdas Saudargas, who
today begins a two-day official visit to Poland, told Rzeczpospolita
that Lithuania should be treated like Poland over the issue of NATO
admission. "We fulfill the same criteria," Saudargas said. "And, like
Poland, our only frontier with Russia is through neighboring Kaliningrad
Oblast." Referring to the controversial statement by Lithuanian
Education Minister Zigmas Zinke-vicius on Polish-Lithuanian relations
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 January 1997), Saudargas said Lithuania will
fulfill bilateral and international agreements on minority rights. He
added that Polish-Lithuanian relations are now better than at any time
in this century. This is the first official visit by a Lithuanian
foreign minister to Poland since World War II. -- Jakub Karpinski

NEW APPOINTMENTS IN POLAND. Internal Affairs Minister Leszek Miller has
named Marek Papala the new chief of police, Polish dailies reported last
week. Papala replaces Jerzy Stanczyk, who had headed the force since
March 1995. Papala was Stanczyk's deputy. Col. Andrzej Anklewicz, an
adviser to former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, was named chief of the
Border Guards. The new heads of the fire brigade and Civil Defense have
also been named. Former ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinki is the new labor
minister, replacing Andrzej Baczkowski, who died in November. -- Jakub
Karpinski

CZECH PRESIDENT TIES THE KNOT. Vaclav Havel on 4 January married actress
Dagmar Veskrnova in a private, previously unpublicized ceremony, Czech
media reported. Veskrnova has been Havel's companion for some time, but
the President's Office did not officially acknowledge their relationship
until recently. Havel's first wife, Olga Havlova, died on 27 January
1996, following a long battle with cancer. Havel is himself recovering
from lung cancer surgery, which he underwent at the beginning of
December. He told journalists after the wedding that he sees the
marriage as the beginning of new period in his life. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Christian Democratic Movement spokeswoman
Lucia Faltinova has announced that, later this week, the opposition will
launch a petition drive for a referendum on direct presidential
elections, TASR reported on 3 January. The party urged all Slovaks to
support the referendum, saying that elections would allow citizens to
directly influence who becomes the head of state and would also increase
their control over that position. A total of 350,000 signatures are
needed for a referendum. An opposition proposal for a constitutional
amendment on the issue was submitted to the parliament in December, but
discussion was postponed until February. The president is currently
elected by the parliament. The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
opposes a constitutional change. Meanwhile, President Michal Kovac,
taking part in a debate on private TV Markiza on 5 January, said he
considers himself neither an enemy of the government coalition nor the
leader of the opposition. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS AMENDMENT TO PRIVATIZATION LAW. Arpad Goncz
has sent back to the parliament an amendment to the privatization law,
Hungarian media reported on 6 January. The legislature passed the
amendment last month following a heated debate over a clause stating
that, under special circumstances, the State Privatization and Holding
Co. can allocate public assets to local governments and co-operatives
free of charge. The Socialists had insisted on including that provision.
The parliamentary Constitutional Committee recommended omitting the
disputed clause, but the Socialist-dominated parliament ignored its
recommendation. Last week, Goncz rejected the law on conflict of
interests, which the parliament also passed last month. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NOISY, CARNIVAL-LIKE WEEKEND IN BELGRADE. Opposition protesters continue
to devise novel ways to circumvent the police ban on marches, which was
imposed following violence between opponents and supporters of President
Slobodan Milosevic on 24 December. On 3-4 January, the protesters once
again made much noise by blowing whistles and beating pots and other
implements during Serbian TV's evening newscast. On 5 January, they
staged a "protest by traffic jam," in which drivers of all sorts of
vehicles blocked Belgrade streets amid a carnival atmosphere,
international media reported. Protesters plan to extend the traffic jam
tactic throughout Serbia should the government fail to recognize the
results of the 17 November local elections within a few days. -- Patrick
Moore

SERBIAN OPPOSITION STICKS TO ITS DEMANDS. The opposition Zajedno
coalition has rejected the authorities' latest offer to accept part but
not all of those election returns, CNN reported on 4 January. This time,
the government proposed to acknowledge opposition victories in Belgrade
and two smaller towns but called for a new vote in Nis. Zajedno says it
will keep up its protests until the government unconditionally respects
the 17 November results. Meanwhile, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle
gave a radio address in which he repeated the Holy Synod's recent
condemnation of the Milosevic regime, the BBC stated on 4 January. The
U.S., for its part, is also keeping up the pressure on Milosevic, who is
increasingly isolated both at home and abroad, Nasa Borba wrote on 6
January. -- Patrick Moore

BELGRADE DEMONSTRATORS APPEAL TO POLICE. The Zajedno leadership has
called on people to stage a protest in the form a large "religious
procession" on 6 January, which is the Orthodox Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, the students have appealed to the police not to block their
marches, AFP reported on 6 January. One of their leaders said: "We
appeal to those installing police cordons to withdraw them before
January 9, so we don't have to do it for them." On a more diplomatic
note, Zajedno issued a proclamation to the police as "dear friends,"
Nasa Borba wrote. The text stated: "Do not let yourselves be abused by
the [Socialist Party of Serbia] thieves and do not allow yourselves to
be pushed into a conflict with the people, whose lives are as difficult
as yours. Think hard before obeying the orders of the thieves." The
police are one of Milosevic's main pillars of support. -- Patrick Moore

FEDERAL YUGOSLAV ARMY WILL NOT OPPOSE STUDENTS. One of the reasons
Milosevic has relied on the police is that his relations with the army
(JNA) have never been particularly good. On 6 January, Chief of Staff
Gen. Momcilo Perisic told a delegation of students that the JNA will not
oppose them, AFP reported. Army support was crucial to Milosevic in
crushing protests in March 1991, which constituted the most direct
challenge from the streets to his rule prior to the current unrest. --
Patrick Moore

NEW BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT CONVENES. Bosnia's new government convened for
the first time on 3 January in Serb-run Lukavica, near Sarajevo,
international media reported. Earlier the same day, deputies in the
lower house of the Bosnian parliament approved the government and the
nomination of the two joint prime ministers--Boro Bosic, a Serb, and
Haris Silajdzic, a Muslim. Silajdzic said the cabinet discussed who
should take part in a delegation to a conference in Brussels on 9-10
January aimed at raising funds for the reconstruction of Bosnia.
Meanwhile, Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of Bosnia's three-man
presidency, has said he wants to see "reconciliation and acceptance of
the characteristics of all the peoples" in Bosnia, AFP reported. --
Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIA'S MUSLIM RULING PARTY CONFIRMS RECEIVING FUNDS FROM IRAN. The
Party of Democratic Action (SDA), headed by President Alija Izetbegovic,
has confirmed that it received $500,000 from Iran in mid-1996,
Oslobodjenje reported on 4 January. But it added that the money was used
for scholarships and not for the party's election campaign. Last week,
the Los Angeles Times reported that Iran gave Izetbegovic that sum for
use in the run-up to the September elections (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2
January 1996). In other news, Drazen Erdemovic, the first war criminal
to be sentenced by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Former
Yugoslavia, has appealed his 10-year prison term, AFP reported on 3
January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA MAKES OFFER TO SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. The Croatian
government has drafted a Memorandum on the Completion of the Peaceful
Reintegration of eastern Slavonia and handed it over to Jacques Klein,
the head of the UN Transitional Administration for eastern Slavonia,
Vecernji List reported on 4 January. The document attempts to resolve
the contentious issue of voting rights for those living in eastern
Slavonia, as well as cultural and educational rights. Ivica Vrkic, the
government official in charge of the region, said Croatian Serbs who
were not living there in 1991 but had lived in another part of Croatia
will be able to vote in eastern Slavonia if they choose. Previously, the
government had insisted that only Croatian Serbs who had lived in
eastern Slavonia before the war would be allowed to vote in local
elections. The memorandum also offers the Serbs several senior posts in
the government and gives Serbian men the option of not performing
compulsory military service in the Croatian Army. -- Daria Sito Sucic

KOSOVO POLITICAL UPDATE. Kosovo human rights activist Adem Demaci has
been elected chairman of the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo, ATA reported
on 5 January. Demaci, who also heads the Kosovo Human Rights Council,
became a party member in fall 1996. Albanian Foreign Minister Tritan
Shehu welcomed Demaci's election and praised the Kosovar shadow-state
party system for its peaceful policies. Demaci is expected to compete
with shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova in upcoming presidential
elections. Elsewhere, Shehu urged Belgrade to fully respect the
opposition victories in Belgrade and to allow an OSCE monitoring mission
to Kosovo, AFP reported. The last monitoring mission left Kosovo in
summer 1993 after Belgrade refused to prolong its members' visas. --
Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIA'S FORMER RULING PARTY LAMBASTS GOVERNMENT OVER ECONOMIC POLICY.
The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 4 January accused
Victor Ciorbea's cabinet of failing to keep its election promises and
not drawing up a government program, Romanian and Western media
reported. The PDSR said recent gasoline price hikes were excessive and
part of a "shock therapy" strategy. The cabinet, dominated by the
Democratic Convention of Romania, responded the next day in a communique
saying the hikes were unavoidable because of the economic "chaos"
created by the previous administration. It also pledged to counter the
effects of the price hikes through social protection programs. The price
of gasoline almost doubled as of 1 January. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NEIGHBORING LEADERS. Moldovan President-
elect Petru Lucinschi and Igor Smirnov, president of the self-declared
Dniester republic, met in Chisinau on 3 January, BASA-press reported.
The leaders discussed resuming bilateral negotiations over a special
status for the breakaway region within the framework of the Moldovan
state. Two days later, Lucinschi had an unofficial meeting with
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Odessa. He appealed to Ukraine to
take a more active part in mediating between Chisinau and Tiraspol. In
1995, Ukraine joined Russian and OSCE efforts to broker a solution to
the Moldovan-Dniester conflict. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN MASS RALLY CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS... More than 40,000 Sofia
citizens on 3 January protested the Bulgarian Socialist Party's policies
and called for early elections. The rally, organized by the United
Democratic Forces (ODS), took place outside the BSP headquarters, where
the Socialists were electing a new Executive Bureau. The protesters
shouted "Mafia" and "Red rubbish" and threw eggs, pieces of bread, and
stones at the building. Three windows were broken, and one policeman
injured. Riot police were deployed after protesters broke down an iron
fence in front of the BSP headquarters. Speakers at the rally stressed
that parliamentary means to resolve the present crisis have been
virtually exhausted. They said the ODS will use all legitimate means--
including street demonstrations and boycotting the parliament --to "turn
the current government crisis into a parliamentary crisis." -- Maria
Koinova in Sofia

...WHILE BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS ELECT NEW LEADERSHIP. The composition of
the new BSP Executive Bureau, the party's highest decision-making body
between party congresses, is seen as a victory for former BSP leader
Zhan Videnov, Duma reported. Videnov's most prominent opponents failed
to get elected, although some were proposed by new BSP chairman Georgi
Parvanov, including former Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, former BSP
Deputy Chairman Yanaki Stoilov, and the head of the parliamentary
Foreign Relations Committee, Nikolay Kamov. Videnov himself refused to
run for the Executive Bureau, saying former party leaders should not be
on it. Originally, the Executive Bureau was to have had 20 members in
order to represent all major tendencies within the party. The BSP
Supreme Council, however, reduced that number to 15. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN DAILY PUBLISHES LIST OF PARDONED PRISONERS. The Daily Albania
on 4 January published the full list of people included in President
Sali Berisha's New Year amnesty. Two founders of a communist party, 54-
year-old Timoshenko Pekmezi and 62-year-old Sami Meta are among those
released. They were sentenced last year to two and three years in jail,
respectively. The 15-year sentence of former Politbureau member Lenka
Cuko was reduced by five years. Cuko was sentenced last year for crimes
against humanity and for deporting dissidents into internal exile.
Socialist leader Fatos Nano's prison term for embezzlement was reduced
by six months. He has another 18 months left to serve, Reuters reported.
Elsewhere, police have arrested 13 Kurds from Iraq in Vlora who were
waiting to cross illegally to Italy, international agencies reported on
3 January. -- Fabian Schmidt


[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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