Increase The Peace. - John Singleton
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 10, Part II, 15 January 1997


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

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

UKRAINIAN NEWSPAPER PUBLISHES CONTROVERSIAL LETTER FROM RUSSIAN
OFFICIAL. Vseukrainskiye vedomosti on 14 January published an allegedly
top-secret letter from Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergii Krylov to
Russian presidential foreign-policy advisor Dmitrii Ryurikov calling for
measures to be taken against Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in
retaliation for his anti-Russian policies, international agencies
reported. The letter, dated 30 October 1996, condemned Kuchma for his
rejection of CIS integration and his unwillingness to discuss preserving
a single Black Sea Fleet and the status of Sevastopol. It called for
neutralizing Kuchma by discrediting him so that he would be impeached.
Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Volodymyr Khandohy announced that if
the letter is genuine, it does not correspond to civilized norms "even
in such a peculiar field as diplomacy." He added that Ukraine will seek
an official explanation from Russia over the letter. Meanwhile, Russia
has said the letter is a hoax and has called on Ukraine to launch an
investigation. (See related item in Russia section) -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VETOES DRAFT LAW ON COVERAGE OF PARLIAMENTARY
DEBATES. Leonid Kuchma has vetoed the draft law regulating media
coverage of the parliament's activities, Infobank reported on 13
January. He said the law contravenes the constitution and gives an
unfair advantage to the legislative branch vis--vis the executive and
the judiciary. He also pointed to the high costs of live TV and radio
coverage at the parliament. Kuchma proposed that a law be drafted on
mass media coverage of all branches of power. In other news, the Crimean
parliament has convened for its first session since the Christmas
holidays, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 January. Top on its agenda is
adopting a new constitution. The constitutional commission says that the
controversial articles that prompted the Ukrainian parliament to reject
the constitution last year have been brought into line with Ukraine's
basic law. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN BANK CHIEF DISMISSED, ARRESTED. President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka has issued a decree dismissing National Bank of Belarus Chair
Tamara Vinnikau, international agencies reported on 14 January.
Immediately after her dismissal, she was arrested for causing "damage to
the state of major proportions." Lukashenka appointed Vinnikau to that
post last February, ignoring objections raised by the then parliament.
At that time, she was considered an unwavering supporter of the
president's economic policies. Later, she was critical of several of his
initiatives. Presidential opponents charged that she had poor
administrative skills. The same day, Paval Dik resigned as finance
minister. He was replaced by Mykola Rumas. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN REACTIONS TO YELTSIN'S REFERENDUM PROPOSAL. Belarusian
Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich played down Russian President Boris
Yeltsin's proposal to hold a referendum on uniting Russia and Belarus,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 14 January. Antonovich said the
proposal was "merely a working document." He also dismissed speculation
that it was put forward to counter future NATO expansion. The same day,
several dozen protesters took to Minsk's streets to protest Yeltsin's
initiative. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA, NORWAY SIGN READMISSION AGREEMENT. Norwegian and Estonian
Foreign Minister Bjorn Tore Godal and Toomas Hendrik Ilves, meeting in
Tallinn on 14 January, signed an agreement providing for the return of
illegal immigrants, BNS reported. Godel said both that measure and
Estonia's ratification of the Geneva convention on refugees were needed
to establishing visa-free travel between the two countries. During his
one-day visit Godal also met with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister
Tiit Vahi, and parliamentary chairman Toomas Savi. -- Saulius Girnius

CONTROVERSY OVER DEATH PENALTY IN LITHUANIA. Interior Minister Vidmantas
Ziemelis on 14 January commented that the reintroduction of the death
penalty was necessary to stem the growth of crime in Lithuania, Radio
Lithuania reported. The previous day, he had urged President Algirdas
Brazauskas to lift the moratorium on death sentences. Brazauskas,
however, noted that capital punishment has not been legally suspended.
He explained that in July, he submitted to the parliament a draft law
imposing a moratorium on the death penalty but legislators have not
discussed it. He stressed that it is the parliament--not the president--
that has the power to suspend the death penalty. Since July, there has
been an "informal suspension" because the presidential amnesty
commission has not received the appeals for clemency from convicts
condemned to death, he explained. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRIME MINISTER IN ISRAEL. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, at the start
of his three-day visit to Israel from 14-16 January, met with his
Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, international agencies
reported. Cimoszewicz said later that the two countries are working on
several agreements that might lead to a free-trade accord. But he
reported that there were still differences over Poland's demand that
Israel lift the current visa requirement for Poles, noting that his
country had last week nullified the "unfair and immoral agreements"
reached by Poland and Switzerland after World War II. He added that he
and Netanyahu had agreed on an exchange program involving 500 Polish and
500 Israeli schoolchildren. Cimoszewicz is accompanied by Polish Defense
Minister Stanislaw Dobrzanski and a large delegation of government
officials and businessmen. -- Jakub Karpinski

UZBEK PRESIDENT IN PRAGUE. Islam Karimov, in Prague on a three-day
official visit, met with Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, Czech
media reported. Karimov is to hold talks today with Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus, President Vaclav Havel, and Senate Chairman Petr Pithart.
Among the issues to be discussed are several bilateral agreements,
including on double taxation and combating organized crime. Karimov is
also scheduled to meet with Czech entrepreneurs. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. The Slovak government has approved a proposal
that a public debate take place over Slovakia's possible membership in
NATO, Slovak news agencies reported on 14 January. An information
campaign is to be run on nationwide TV and radio as well as in the
press. While the official goverment position is to support joining the
alliance, the Slovak National Party--the junior coalition partner--has
come out in favor of neutrality. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has said
a referendum on the issue will probably be held in May. Meanwhile, it is
reported that, in the petition drive organized by the opposition, some
35,000 signatures have been collected so far in support of holding a
referendum on direct presidential elections. A total of 350,000
signatures are needed for such a plebiscite. Deputy Premier Katarina
Tothova said the petition drive was a "desperate attempt" to ensure that
President Michal Kovac retains his post. -- Anna Siskova

REPORTS CONFIRM HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS' INVOLVEMENT IN OILGATE. Recent
reports on the 1996 Oilgate and privatization scandals have confirmed
that several Socialist party members and Socialist-run government
offices were involved in corruption, Hungarian dailies reported on 15
January. A parliamentary investigative committee's report on the Oilgate
affair says that 80% of the contracts related to Russia's repayment of
its $900 million state debt to Hungary were signed by Socialist-
affiliated individuals, Magyar Nemzet reported on 15 January. The report
blames the Finance Ministry for leaking sensitive information and not
calling an open tender. Meanwhile, in its final report on last year's
privatization scandal, the supervisory committee of the State
Privatization and Holding Company (APV) says that among those
responsible are former Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman, APV's top
management, and APV's senior legal counsel--most of whom were appointees
of the Socialist-dominated government. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY URGES NO OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT IN GABCIKOVO
DAM DISPUTE. The opposition Young Democrats have called on the cabinet
not to seek an out-of-court settlement with Slovakia over the Gabcikovo
hydropower plant, Hungarian media reported on 15 January. They urged
instead that the government wait for the Hague-based International Court
of Justice to rule on the dispute. Their appeal follows Prime Minister
Gyula Horn's recent remark in support of an out-of-court settlement. The
Young Democrats said that the two countries have already resolved some
of their differences in behind-closed-doors negotiations. The hearings
in The Hague are scheduled to begin in March. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN ELECTION COMMISSIONS RECOGNIZE OPPOSITION VICTORIES. Local
election commissions on 14 January recognized the opposition coalition
Zajedno's wins in second round of the 17 November local elections, Nasa
Borba reported. The commission authorities concluded that the coalition
won in Belgrade, Nis, and 12 other municipalities. But opposition leader
Vuk Draskovic said the implications of the commissions' ruling was
unclear, stressing there were no guarantees that the ruling Socialists
and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic would honor it. The Socialists
have 48 hours in which to challenge to the ruling. They have already
hinted that they may not do so. Meanwhile, Milosevic seems to have
responded to the ruling by purging high-ranking party members who held
unequivocal points of view on the municipal returns. Belgrade Mayor
Nebojsa Covic, who had maintained from early on that the opposition wins
should be recognized, was sacked. But so were Belgrade party boss
Branislav Ivkovic and his Nis counterpart, Mile Ilic, both hard-liners
who had argued that under no circumstances should concessions be made to
the opposition. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIAN CHIEF JUSTICE FIRED. The state judicial committee on 14 January
announced it has sacked Supreme Court head Krunoslav Olujic, AFP
reported. Olujic was suspended in November on charges of discrediting
the court by allegedly associating with criminals and having sex with
minors. Olujic claims a politically motivated smear campaign is being
waged to get rid of him because he defends the independence of the
judiciary. The authorities earlier tried to coax him out of office by
offering him an ambassadorial post. Critics of the governing Croatian
Democratic Community charge that the moves against Olujic are part of a
broader effort by that party to take control of all aspects of public
life. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN-UN UPDATE. The UN Security Council has extended the mandate for
UN monitors on Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula until 15 July, news agencies
reported on 14 January. Belgrade has laid claim to that territory
because it offers direct access to the Bay of Kotor, where federal
Yugoslavia's chief naval base is located. Meanwhile, details are
emerging of Croatia's recommendations to the UN on reintegrating eastern
Slavonia. Zagreb will exempt ethnic Serbs from military duty for two
years, during which a long-term policy will be hammered out, Vjesnik
wrote on 15 January. The government also plans to reserve two seats for
Serbs in the upper house of the legislature, as well as advisory
positions for Serbs in the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Justice,
Education, and Culture. Voting rights will be extended to all Serbs who
have obtained Croatian papers. Jacques Klein, UN administrator in
Slavonia, has praised the Croatian proposals. -- Patrick Moore

ANOTHER ETHNIC ALBANIAN KILLED IN KOSOVO. Another ethnic Albanian has
been shot dead in northern Kosovo--the second such incident within four
days, international agencies reported on 14 January. A spokesman for the
Democratic League of Kosovo claimed that the 47-year-old Fazil Hasani,
who was killed near Srbica, had cooperated with the Serbian police. The
Kosovo Liberation Army is believed to be behind the murder. That group
took responsibility for the killings of policeman Faik Bellopoja last
month and Socialist Party of Serbia member Maliq Sheholli on 9 January.
It also issued a statement on 14 January saying that Sheholli's murder
was a "warning to all other collaborators and national traitors."
Meanwhile, Adem Demaci has resigned as head of the Kosovo Human Rights
Council following his elections as leader of the Parliamentary Party,
Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

DEMONSTRATIONS AT SKOPJE UNIVERSITY. Ethnic Albanian students at Skopje
University staged a demonstration on 14 January calling for instruction
in the Albanian-language at the pedagogic faculty, Flaka and Nova
Makedonija reported. At the same time, ethnic Macedonian students
demonstrated against Albanian-language instruction. A draft law
providing for classes in the Albanian language was drawn up last year
and is supported by University Dean Radmila Kiprijanova. Education
Minister Sofija Todorova, meeting with Macedonian students on 14
January, asked them to present their concerns to the parliamentary
education commission. The parliament will discuss the draft law next
week. Meanwhile, special UN envoy Elisabeth Rehn, in Skopje for a two-
day visit from 13-15 January, expressed concern about the "intolerance
of Macedonian students" who were protesting against Albanian-language
instruction at the university. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN NEGOTIATIONS ON BASIC TREATY. Another round of talks
on the Romanian-Ukrainian basic treaty ended in Bucharest on 14 January,
Romanian media reported. The negotiators agreed to resume talks in Kyiv
after examining proposals submitted by each side. Before the meeting,
Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin said that Bucharest would
propose a "compromise package" to settle unresolved issues. Romania
wants the treaty to include a condemnation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-
Molotov pact, which ceded Romanian territories to the then Soviet
republic of Ukraine. It also wants guarantees for the 400,000-strong
ethnic Romanian minority living in Ukraine. Romania appears to be under
pressure to finalize the treaty before the July NATO summit, at which
the first countries to join the alliance are expected to be named.
Settling disputes with all neighbors is a condition for NATO
integration. -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT FAILS ONCE AGAIN TO ELECT SPEAKER. For the third
time in less than a week, the parliament has failed to elect a new
speaker, Infotag reported on 14 January. The main contenders to replace
Petru Lucinschi in that post are Dumitru Motpan, chairman of the ruling
Agrarian Democratic Party, and Deputy Speaker Dumitru Diacov, a close
associate of Lucinschi. However, the parliament has allowed Diacov to
open and preside over the presidential inauguration ceremony, scheduled
for today. Some deputies have warned of a parliamentary crisis if the
issue is not resolved soon. Motpan, who chaired the 14 January session,
said that later this week, the parliament will launch procedures to
designate a new premier. He singled out Ion Cebuc, head of the State
Accounting Office, as a possible candidate for that post. -- Dan Ionescu

EARLY ELECTIONS IN BULGARIA, BUT WHEN? The ruling Bulgarian Socialist
Party on 14 January agreed to hold early parliamentary elections, RFE/RL
reported. But it committed itself only to holding the vote by the end of
this year. Following a meeting the same day, leaders of the BSP and its
coalition partners--the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar
Stamboliyski" and the Political Club Ekoglasnost--said the parliament
should vote in a "government of professionals of international
reputation." They also said they will prepare a 500-day government
program. The opposition, for its part, has decided to open talks with
the BSP on early elections. It demands that the parliament be dissolved
by March and early elections held by May. Meanwhile, Pari cited
legislators from the New Democracy party as saying that outgoing
President Zhelyu Zhelev will not give the BSP a mandate to form a new
government until tensions subside. -- Stefan Krause

PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SOFIA. Some 20,000-30,000 people continued to
protest in Sofia on 14 January, RFE/RL and AFP reported. Students from
several Sofia universities joined the demonstrations. Meanwhile, the
parliament reconvened today for its first session since the violent
clashes several days earlier between protesters and police (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 13 January 1997). The building was heavily guarded by riot
police, and only BSP deputies and some Bulgarian Business Bloc
legislators attended. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov
said the protests will continue until a date for early elections is set.
The major trade unions have staged nationwide one-hour warning strikes
today to back the opposition's demands. Meanwhile, the BBB has announced
it will not support a new BSP government. BBB Chairman Georges Ganchev
said his party will not seek a coalition with any party represented in
the current parliament. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME INVESTORS CLASH WITH POLICE. Some 5,000 angry
Albanians gathered in Tirana on 15 January to protest a recent National
Bank directive limiting daily withdrawals by a single client to
$300,000, Reuters reported. The ruling followed the collapse of a number
of high-interest investment companies. Another 10 pyramid schemes have
since been forced to shut down their offices. Most of the protesters had
invested in a company run by a Roma woman, known only by the name of
Sudja, who is accusing the government of trying to discredit her by
blocking payments. The protesters apparently believe their money is
being kept by the government. Hundreds of police used rubber batons
against the protesters, who tried to force their way past a cordon to
central Skanderbeg Square. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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