V nekotoryh sluchayah zhenschina namnogo pronitsatel'nee sotni muzhchin. - G. Lessing
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 14, Part II, 21 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

UKRAINE PROTESTS MOSCOW MAYOR'S CLAIM ON SEVASTOPOL. Ukraine's Foreign
Ministry delivered a note to the Russian Embassy on 20 January stressing
that statements by Russian officials of the kind made by Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov in Sevastopol on 17 January could damage Ukrainian-Russian
relations, Ukrainian and international agencies reported. The ministry
also circulated a statement calling Luzhkov's statements "unfriendly"
and his claim that Sevastopol "is and will stay a Russian city" a threat
to Ukraine's territorial integrity. While the Russian government has
refuted any Russian territorial claims on Sevastopol, differences
between Ukraine and Russia over how much of the port city will be leased
to Russia and for how long remain a stumbling block in the negotiations
on the division of the Black Sea Fleet. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

CRIMEAN COMMUNISTS CELEBRATE SIX YEARS OF AUTONOMY. Members of the
Crimean Communist Party honored the anniversary of the 1991 referendum
that restored Crimea's autonomy with a rally in Sevastopol attended by
some 1,000 people, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 January. The communists also
demanded early elections to the Crimean parliament, threatening protests
and strikes if the parliament stays on. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy
Economics Minister Leonid Minin warned that the Crimean economy is in a
catastrophic state, Ukrainian radio reported on 18 January. Minin said
capital investments in the Crimea had halved and hundreds of thousands
of Crimeans are affected by hidden unemployment. Crimean Parliamentary
Speaker Vasyl Kyselyov said the continued decline in production raised
the specter of a collapse of the peninsula's industry and agriculture.
-- Oleg Varfolomeyev

COMPETING CLAIMS ABOUT BELARUSIAN ECONOMY. First Deputy Prime Minister
Piotr Prakapovich announced on 20 January that the Belarusian economy
grew by 2.6% in 1996, the first increase since the USSR collapsed in
1991, Western agencies reported. The opposition Belarusian Popular Front
issued a report the same day claiming the economy actually shrank by 4%-
5% and that about 1.5 million people, around a third of the work force,
are unemployed. Prakapovich acknowledged that the country's foreign
trade deficit in 1996 was $1.4 billion and that industrial goods worth
$633 million are languishing in warehouses. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. Andris Skele sent a letter of
resignation to President Guntis Ulmanis on 20 January because "the
president and the political elite accused me of pressing amoral
decisions upon them," Western agencies reported. That was a clear
reference to the controversial appointment of businessman Vasilijs
Melniks as finance minister (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 January 1997).
Skele expressed regret about leaving a job he had started successfully
in December 1995 but had since found too difficult. The president cannot
reject Skele's resignation, which also means the dissolution of the
government, but he has the right to renominate him. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER IN SINGAPORE. Tiit Vahi, accompanied by Social
Affairs Minister Tiiu Aro and a large delegation of businessmen and
government officials, arrived in Singapore on 18 January for a four-day
working visit. Vahi told a business seminar organized by the Export
Institute of Singapore on 19 January that Estonia could serve as an
ideal gateway to the European Union, ETA reported. Vahi noted with
satisfaction that Singapore was his country's sixth-largest source of
foreign investment and said that cooperation should be expanded. Vahi
met with Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on 20 January, BNS
reported. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SUBMITS RESIGNATION. Vladas Nikitinas
submitted his resignation to President Algirdas Brazauskas on 20
January, Radio Lithuania reported. He said that his resignation was
prompted by the difficult situation with crime in Lithuania and in
particular the events in Panevezys on Christmas Eve, when a businessman
shot four racketeers and wounded four others who were trying to extort
money from him. Nikitinas, however, will remain in office until the
president submits his resignation to parliament's regular spring
session, which begins on 10 March. The ruling coalition has been
advocating that the parliament and not the president should appoint the
prosecutor-general. -- Saulius Girnius

MAIN POLISH RIGHT-WING GROUPS TO COOPERATE IN ELECTIONS. Jan Olszewski,
leader of the Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP), has offered to
put up joint lists of Senate candidates with Solidarity Electoral Action
(AWS) in this fall's parliamentary elections, Polish media reported on
20 January. The ROP had previously refused to cooperate with the AWS.
Solidarity trade union spokesman Piotr Zak said Olszewski's offer would
probably be accepted. According to an anonymous AWS leader cited by
Rzeczpospolita, the ROP wants to cooperate because it does not have
enough well-known politicians to field in both the Sejm and Senate
elections. Olszewski also warned the AWS -- a center-right coalition led
by the Solidarity trade union -- not to admit the recently formed
Conservative-People's Party, whose leaders have close links to former
President Lech Walesa and are critical of the so-called citizens' draft
constitution, supported by the ROP and the AWS. -- Beata Pasek

DOCUMENTS SHOW CZECH SECRET SERVICE TRIED TO DISCREDIT POLITICIANS.
Documents submitted by opposition Social Democratic Party leader Milos
Zeman to the parliamentary committee overseeing the Czech Intelligence
Service (BIS) on 20 January show that the BIS attempted to discredit the
Social Democrats and other political parties, Czech media reported.
Members of the parliamentary committee told journalists that the
documents are serious. "If authentic, the documents prove allegations
made by Civic Democratic Alliance [ODA] leader Jan Kalvoda in 1994," ODA
deputy Ivan Masek told CTK. Kalvoda claimed in 1994 that his party was
shadowed by the BIS. Similar charges by Christian Democratic Union
Chairman Josef Lux in November 1996 led to the resignation of BIS head
Stanislav Devaty. President Vaclav Havel, who has studied the documents,
said the BIS might have committed illegal acts but rejected Zeman's
charges that the country is turning into a police state. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER ADMITS CRISIS IN THE ARMY. Unless immediate steps
are taken, the army will be unable to defend the country within four
years, Miloslav Vyborny said on 20 January. Vyborny said the army does
not get enough money and that the situation is particularly critical in
the air force, where 50% of equipment is not operational. Vyborny also
called for radical reforms, saying the army could be smaller but needs
to be "combat-ready and modern." -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK ROMA FORMING MILITIA. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar, a spokesman for Slovak Roma, Marek Balaz, announced that Roma
are setting up a militia because the state is unable to protect them,
international media reported on 20 January. The decision was prompted by
the murder of a Rom in Prievidza, central Slovakia, before Christmas.
Another Rom was killed earlier in the year, a victim of one of the 19
racial attacks registered in 1996. "Our militia will guard our houses
and our people," Balaz wrote. He argued that the authorities often turn
a blind eye to violence against Roma; for example, in the past five
years in Prievidza, he said, skinheads attacked Roma on 54 occasions but
charges were brought only once. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PETITION DRIVE SUCCEEDING. The opposition has collected almost
one-third of the signatures needed to force a referendum on instituting
direct presidential elections, a Slovak opposition leader told Reuters
on 20 January. The referendum is aimed at preventing Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar from assuming presidential powers before the election of
a new president in March 1998, some six moBhs before the next general
elections are expected. "According to the latest reports, we have
already collected more than 100,000 signatures since we started two
weeks ago," Ivan Simko, vice chairman of the Christian Democratic
Movement, who heads the petition committee, told Reuters. Simko said the
necessary number of signatures (350,000) could be collected within two
months. The government argues that a referendum on changing the
constitution is illegal. -- Jiri Pehe

KWASNIEWSKI PROMOTES REGIONAL COOPERATION IN BUDAPEST. In a two-day
visit to Hungary, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said that
Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic would form a close-knit group as
they approach EU and NATO membership, international and Hungarian media
reported on 20 January. Those three countries "should hold regular
consultations on presidential, prime ministerial, and ministerial levels
in the near future," Kwasniewski said. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz
echoed Kwasniewski's views, saying: "We are not competitors but
strategic partners on the road leading toward NATO and the European
Union." -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY UNDER FIRE FOR EXCESS AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES. The United States,
Australia, Argentina, and New Zealand will file a joint complaint
against Hungary for oversubsidizing its agricultural exports, Reuters
reported on 20 January. The four countries will formally request that
the World Trade Organization establish a panel at the next meeting of
the organization's dispute settlement body. They accuse Hungary of
providing export subsidies in excess of its Uruguay Round commitments
and claim it plans to extend subsidies from six products to more than
300 products, including grain, meat, dairy products, fruit, and
vegetables. Earlier, the Hungarian Ministry of Industry and Trade had
tried t‚econvince the complaining nations that it was using erroneous
data when it agreed to reduce state subsidies. All five nations are
members of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporter nations, formed in
1986. Hungary is the sole European member. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERBS FIRE ON CROATIAN TOWN. Bosnian Serbs in Bosanski Brod
fired automatic weapons across the Sava River into Slavonski Brod,
Croatia, late in the afternoon of 20 January, Hina reported. The bullets
hit the main street and shattered windows but caused no casualties. This
is the first such incident since the Dayton peace treaty was signed in
December 1995, AFP wrote. In Sarajevo, UN spokesman Kris Janowski
criticized the Bosnian Serbs for breaking a "gentleman's agreement" and
using UN funds to repair houses whose owners had been "ethnically
cleansed" from the region, AFP added. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN OFFICIAL WANTS RUSSIAN TROOPS OUT. The new governor of the Tuzla
area, Sead Jamakosmanovic, has called for Russian SFOR troops in the
area to be replaced. He accused them of complicity in a Serb attack on a
bridge on the sensitive Celic-Koraj route, where Muslim refugees are
trying to return to homes just inside Serbian lines (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 20 January 1997). Jamakosmanovic repeated a frequent Muslim and
Croat charge against the Russians, saying "they are not neutral,"
Oslobodjenje reported on 21 January. He asked that U.S. forces replace
the Russians, adding: "We have confidence in the Americans."
Scandinavian and Turkish troops are also stationed in the tense area. --
Patrick Moore

WAR CRIMES UPDATE. The Bosnian state commission dealing with the 200,000
missing persons -- mainly Muslims and Croats -- from the conflict said
that 31 mass graves containing 1,462 bodies and 466 single graves were
found and exhumed last year. Forensic inspectors from abroad and from
the region will resume their work in the spring. In Zagreb, the Hague-
based war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour, said that
Croatia is not cooperating with the court despite its promises to do so.
She noted that mechanisms for the extradition of indicted war criminals
exist, but said that has not led to concrete results, Onasa reported on
18 January. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN POLICE ATTACK DEMONSTRATORS. Police officers armed with clubs
attacked peaceful demonstrators in Belgrade on 20 January, reportedly
injuring at least 12 people. According to Radio B92, one person was
seriously beaten. The incident occurred when the well-armed police
officers moved to disperse the crowd of peaceful protesters from around
the city center. Nasa Borba on 21 January reported that Patriarch Pavle
had blessed the thousands of students in Belgrade waging an "endurance
test" against riot police. The latest student action began on the
evening of 19 January, when a cordon of police officers prevented
students from continuing their march along Belgrade's main streets. The
students, in reply, refused to budge from the police barricades. -- Stan
Markotich

SERBIAN COURTS BACK THE REGIME. Serbia's judicial system dealt two blows
to opposition demands on 20 January. First, a local Belgrade court asked
the Supreme Court to rule on a Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) appeal of
an electoral commission ruling recognizing opposition Zajedno wins in
Belgrade. Since the Supreme Court is under no time restriction to review
the case, the municipal court action may be merely the latest SPS ploy
to stall for time. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court overturned a decision
recognizing opposition victory in the town of Sabac, instead ruling the
SPS had won 35 seats to Zajedno's 29 in that municipal assembly. Nasa
Borba reported on 21 January that the ultranationalist Serbian Radical
Party, led by accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, has filed its own
court challenges to Zajedno election wins. -- Stan Markotich

UN WANTS TO OPEN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE IN KOSOVO. The UN's special
reporter for human rights, Elizabeth Rehn, said she had asked the
Serbian authorities to "think about" her request to open an office in
Kosovo, in which over 90% of the population is ethnic Albanian. She
pointed to recent tensions and assassinations there as a reason for
establishing a UN presence now, AFP reported on 20 January. Currently
her staff based in Belgrade visit Kosovo once per month. Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic had earlier banned other international
monitors from working out of Pristina. Meanwhile, in Munich, the
Bertellsmann foundation opened two days of talks aimed at bringing Serbs
and Kosovar Albanians together to explore solutions to their political
deadlock. A dozen delegates from the region are taking part in drafting
an agenda for possible official talks, and are joined by experts from
Germany and other EU countries, an OMRI correspondent reported. --
Patrick Moore

'SLOVENIAN SPRING' REJECTS PLAN TO FORM GOVERNMENT. Slovenia's three
main conservative parties -- the People's Party, the rightist Social
Democrats, and the Christian Democrats -- have expressly rejected an
offer by Premier-designate Janez Drnovsek to form a working coalition
government, STA reported on 20 January. The three so-called "Slovenian
Spring" conservative parties allege that Drnovsek's proposal gives his
own Liberal Democratic Party too much influence and representation in
government, Reuters added. The "Slovenian Spring" parties hold 44 of 90
parliamentary seats and have demanded that Drnovsek redraft his proposal
for "a government of unity." -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS MINERS' LEADER'S ARREST. In an interview with
Radio Bucharest on 20 January, Emil Constantinescu defended the recent
arrest of Miron Cozma, the controversial leader of the Jiu Valley
miners. Constantinescu said the event was part of a campaign against
corruption and organized crime and was aimed at "restoring state
authority." He described Cozma, who led thousands of miners in violent
marches on Bucharest in 1990 and 1991, as "the most flagrant case of a
person acting in defiance of law and state institutions." Meanwhile, Jiu
Valley union leaders announced they were looking for people to testify
in Cozma's favor and warned against more rallies in the area. They were
joined by leaders of five associations of participants in the December
1989 revolution. According to them, the arrest was "politically
motivated, and an act of revenge" on behalf of Petre Roman, Romania's
prime minister in 1990-1991. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA'S FORMER COMMUNIST LEADER RELEASED. Eighty-five-year-old Todor
Zhivkov was released from house arrest on 21 January, owing to advanced
age, national media and AFP reported. Zhivkov headed the Bulgarian
Communist Party for 35 years until he was dismissed by the party's
reformers on 10 November 1989. Arrested in January 1990, he spent
several months behind bars and has since been under house arrest in his
granddaughter's villa in a wealthy part of Sofia. In 1992, Zhivkov was
sentenced to seven years imprisonment for involvement in
misappropriating public funds for the benefit of relatives and friends.
However, the Supreme Court acquitted him in February 1996 on the grounds
that as head of state he could be held responsible only for high
treason. Despite that, he remained under house arrest and still faces a
possible trial for misappropriating funds earmarked for pro-communist
groups in the Third World. -- Maria Koinova

PROTESTS CONTINUE IN BULGARIA. Opposition demonstrations against the
Bulgarian Socialist Party's intentions to form a new government entered
their third week, national media reported. Stefan Raytchev, chairman of
the Promyana Trade Union's strike committee, told Pari his union would
announce a nationwide general strike on the day President Petar Stoyanov
gives a mandate to the Socialists to form a government. Promyana Co-
Chairman Dimitar Dimanov claimed the two other big trade unions are
expected to join in the call. Meanwhile, the strike committee at
Bulgarian National TV gathered more than 1,000 signatures on 21 January
to a petition demanding improved working conditions, an end to
censorship, and the resignation of acting Director-General Ivan
Tokadzhiev, his deputy, Paun Tsonev, and Chief Secretary Tsveta
Stefanova. -- Maria Koinova

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

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            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
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