Standing, as I do, in the view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone. - Edith Cavell 1865-1915 (Spoken to the chaplain who attended her before her execution by firing squad, 12 Oct. 1915.)
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 17, Part II, 24 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

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA, U.S. Armen Sarkisyan
on 23 January refuted Armenian media reports that the country plans to
sign a confederative agreement with Russia similar to the April 1996
Russian-Belarusian community treaty, Armenian and Russian media
reported. Sarkisyan said Armenia will continue to cooperate with Russia
on an "equal and mutually beneficial" basis. He described the agreement
with Gazprom on setting up a joint Russian-Armenian venture (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 23 January 1997) as "extremely important," saying it is a
"first step to end Armenia's economic blockade." Sarkisyan said he is
satisfied with his recent visit to the U.S., adding that 1997 will see
"a new page" in relations between the two countries. He also said U.S.
politicians and entrepreneurs are expressing a growing interest in
Armenia. Sarkisyan denied that the U.S. put pressure on Armenia to hold
early parliamentary elections. -- Emil Danielyan

RUSSIAN GENERAL: RUSSIAN TROOPS ARE LIKELY TO REMAIN IN ARMENIA. Maj.-
Gen. Aleksei Tretyakov, commander of Russian troops stationed in
Armenia, said the March 1995 agreement between the Russian and Armenian
presidents on the Russian military base is unlikely to be revised, Snark
reported on 21 January. Recent reports in the Russian media have
suggested that the Russian General Staff is questioning the strategic
value of maintaining Russian troops in Armenia and Georgia. Tretyakov
said the troops are "protecting the interests of Russia and Armenia"
along the external border of the CIS, adding that they will not
intervene in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. -- Emil Danielyan

AZERBAIJANI AMBASSADOR SUES PAPER. Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia
Ramiz Rezaev has sued the Russian newspaper Pravda-5 for defamation of
character after the paper published an article alleging he was a heavy
drinker and unwelcome in various diplomatic settings, Radio Rossii
reported on 23 January. Rezaev is reportedly seeking 15 billion rubles
(about $2.5 million) in damages. Pravda-5 has apologized to Rezaev for
the publication. -- Lowell Bezanis and Emil Danielyan

NEW REGULATIONS FOR FOREIGNERS STAYING IN ASHGABAT. Ashgabat's mayor has
issued an order requiring all visitors to the Turkmen capital to stay in
officially approved hotels, RFE/RL reported on 23 January. Foreigners
arriving in Ashgabat with their families will be exempted from the new
rule if they sign leases with the city authorities. The order also
obliges all government offices and businesses inviting foreigners to
Turkmenistan to register their presence with the local authorities. --
Lowell Bezanis

THREE KILLED IN TAJIK CAPITAL. Three Russians, two of them women, were
killed in Dushanbe on 23 January, AFP reported. Oleg Motus, described as
a "Cossack military commander," was shot at close range along with his
mother and his fiancee. Motus, born in Tajikistan, had returned to work
on a humanitarian aid project. While open warfare in Tajikistan has been
brought to a halt since the 23 December signing of a ceasefire agreement
between the government and the United Tajik Opposition, Russian soldiers
serving in Tajikistan have recently become targets of a terror campaign.
Civilians have not been exempt from random acts of violence but have not
usually been singled out as targets. -- Bruce Pannier

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CRIMEAN GOVERNMENT REJECTS PARLIAMENT'S VOTE TO OUST IT. The Crimean
parliament voted to oust Arkadii Demidenko's government by 52 votes to
19, Ukrainian and international agencies reported on 23 January. The
official reason for the motion was a new law that modifies the name of
the Crimean government to that of "council of ministers." Demidenko, who
is backed by the Ukrainian leadership, said the vote was illegal and
that only the Ukrainian president can dismiss the Crimean government. He
said he would protest to President Leonid Kuchma and the Constitutional
Court. Kuchma's press service said on 22 January that he would oppose
Demidenko's dismissal. It was the fifth time in three years that the
autonomous parliament voted to oust the peninsula's government. -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DEMOTES CLOSE AIDE. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
on 23 January demoted Uladzimir Zamyatalin, his close aide and a
supporter of his pro-Russian policy, Reuters reported. Zamyatalin was
dismissed as deputy head of the president's administration and put in
charge of the state press committee. Zamyatalin was known for advocating
pan-Slavism and integration with Russia, and helped Lukashenka win the
presidential elections in 1994 and various referenda in the following
years. But Lukashenka has recently complained of slow progress in
integration. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

ESTONIA'S COALITION PARTY ACCUSED IN APARTMENT SCANDAL. Pro Patria Union
Chairman Toivo Jurgenson demanded that the ruling Coalition Party quit
both the government and the Tallinn City Council because of suspicious
apartment privatization deals in central Tallinn, ETA reported. City
officials are alleged to have inappropriately allowed the privatization
of at least 181 apartments for privatization vouchers at a cost several
times less than their real market value. Vacant apartments were declared
to be the "residence areas" of enterprises and occupied by persons
affiliated with those enterprises, who were then allowed to purchase the
apartments with vouchers. The vouchers were intended to allow citizens
to buy the flats they live in from the state at a nominal price. Prime
Minister and Coalition Party Chairman Tiit Vahi, whose daughter
purchased one of the apartments, said there was nothing illegal about
the deal. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIA SIGNS BORDER AID DEAL WITH EU. Prime Minister Andris Skele and EU
Commissioner for Immigration, Justice, and Internal Affairs Anita Gradin
signed three agreements on 23 January providing Latvia with some 7
million ecu ($8 million) plus a share of a 14 million ecu grant for the
three Baltic states and Poland, Reuters reported. The money is for
projects that will improve communications and efficiency among Latvia's
border guards to help stop illegal migration and smuggling. Funds will
also be used for developing cooperation among the states and for
cleaning the badly polluted Baltic Sea. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN FINANCE MINISTER OFFERS TO RESIGN. Rolandas Matiliauskas
submitted a letter of resignation to Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius
on 23 January, explaining he wanted to "end political speculation" and
avoid damage to the Lithuanian state, Reuters reported. In 1993 while
employed at the Kreditas Bank, Matiliauskas received an $18,000 low-
interest loan, which he then passed on to one of the bank's owners. The
bank later went bankrupt and the loan has not yet been fully repaid. It
was not clear whether Vagnorius would accept the resignation of the 29-
year-old minister. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND, UKRAINE TO SIGN RECONCILIATION AGREEMENT IN MAY. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma and his Polish counterpart Aleksander
Kwasniewski announced at a press conference in Warsaw that a declaration
on reconciliation would be signed when Kuchma returns to Poland in May,
Polish media reported on 24 January. Kwasniewski reiterated Poland's
support for Ukraine's efforts to integrate into European structures and
the Central European Free Trade Agreement, and said NATO should conclude
a partnership treaty with Ukraine similar to the one the alliance
intends to sign with Russia. The two presidents agreed that isolating
Belarus would only worsen the situation there and endanger stability in
Europe. The two countries' industry ministers signed a memorandum on
trade liberalization similar to the one Poland signed with Russia last
November, and Kuchma received an award from the Polish Business Club for
boosting bilateral trade. Polish-Ukrainian trade was estimated at $1.4
billion in 1996. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH POLICE RAID REPUBLICANS' OFFICE IN PARLIAMENT. Police raided the
parliamentary offices of the right-wing Republican Party on 22 January,
Czech media reported. Fifteen uniformed policemen and plainclothes
officers stormed the group's premises in search of Lubomir Votava, an
assistant to Republican Chairman Miroslav Sladek. Votava is wanted in
connection with his failure to appear in court for charges of assaulting
a TV reporter in 1994. Republican Deputy Petr Zajic was allegedly
injured in the storming, and Interior Minister Jan Ruml charged that
Republican Deputy Milan Loukota threatened to draw a firearm against the
police. The raid failed to apprehend Votava, and resulted instead in a
parliamentary resolution condemning the police's behavior. Relations
between parliamentarians and Ruml's ministry were already strained by
allegations that the Counterintelligence Service has been shadowing
opposition and coalition politicians. -- Ben Slay

CZECH COURT REFUSES TO REHABILITATE ALLEGED SPY. The Czech Supreme Court
has ruled that a former Czech diplomat sentenced in 1978 for spying for
France is not eligible for rehabilitation, CTK reported on 23 January.
Frantisek Vojtasek had claimed that his decision to cooperate with the
French intelligence service was a form of protest against the Soviet
occupation. Vojtasek served 12 years in a Czechoslovak prison before
being amnestied by President Vaclav Havel in 1990. Former Justice
Minister Jan Kalvoda lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court in May
1996 after Vojtasek's petition for rehabilitation was rejected. However,
the court ruled that Vojtasek's actions bore no direct relation to anti-
communist resistance or protest against Czechoslovakia's occupation. --
Ben Slay

SLOVAK PROSECUTOR SAYS WESTERN COUNTRIES DELAYING KOVAC JR.
INVESTIGATION. Slovak Prosecutor General Michal Valo said in Brno on 23
January that third countries are delaying the criminal investigation
into the financial activities of the son of Slovak President Michal
Kovac, CTK reported. In response to press claims that the Slovak
government is dragging out the investigation in order to embarrass
Kovac, who is locked in a power struggle with Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar, Valo hinted that the Dutch, German, and Swiss authorities'
unwillingness to promptly assist the investigation is to blame for the
delay. Only the Czech Republic had responded to the Slovak government's
requests for assistance in a timely manner, Valo said. -- Ben Slay

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

POLICE CRACK-DOWN MOUNTS IN SERBIA. Tensions between protesters and
police escalated to violence in several parts of Serbia on 23 January,
Nasa Borba reported. The worst example was in the city of Kragujevac,
where protesting motorists blocking access roads were clubbed by baton-
wielding riot police. Radio B92 reported that at least several people
were seriously wounded, including an opposition member of parliament.
Opposition leaders were seemingly singled out for physical abuse and
detention. The developments were triggered by an order from the ruling
Socialists to Kragujevac police to occupy a local TV and radio facility.
While several hundred police officers barricaded themselves inside the
building, several thousand demonstrators encircled the facility and
threatened to enter. In protest, local TV and radio journalists stopped
working, Beta reported. In Smederevska Palanka, five leading members of
the Zajedno opposition coalition were arrested for taking part in an
auto blockade. Police also arrested an opposition leader in Kraljevo.
Belgrade, relatively calm by comparison, saw continuing mass
demonstrations, with at least 10,000 people gathering in the capital on
23 January. Students also continued their around-the-clock protest of
the police cordon in central Belgrade. Zajedno leader Vuk Draskovic told
Belgrade protesters: "Our demonstrations will only stop after our
electoral victory is acknowledged." -- Stan Markotich

MUSLIM REFUGEES BEGIN TRIP HOME BEHIND SERB LINES. Some 11 Muslims
returned to the village of Gajevi just inside Serb lines in northeastern
Bosnia on 23 January. They began removing mines and preparing for 36
families to arrive on 24 January, international and regional media
reported. Muslims started last August to try to exercise their right
under the Dayton agreement to go home, but the Serbs charged that the
move was a military provocation. The current group has completed a
formal procedure sponsored by the UN and agreed to by all sides to
ensure that those taking part are only bona fide refugees from the
village in question. Several incidents involving explosions or protests
by angry Serb crowds have delayed the return to Gajevi, which was to
have started on 20 January. U.S. and Russian SFOR troops surprised ten
Bosnian Serb police on 23 January in the act of setting an anti-
personnel mine in the area. SFOR has now restricted the movements of the
police. The 36 families will be housed in prefabricated buildings
because the old village was destroyed. -- Patrick Moore

OSCE LAUNCHES BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTION SEASON. The OSCE-sponsored all-
Bosnian-party Political Party Consultation Council announced on 23
January that registration for parties and candidates for July local
elections will run from 9 February to 8 March, AFP reported. The lists
of those certified will be published on 7 May. However, the thorniest
question, voter registration, remains open. The local elections were
postponed from 14 September last year because the Serbs in particular
had systematically abused a loophole in the Dayton agreement and
registered thousands of Serb refugees to vote in formerly mainly Muslim
or Croat areas where the refugees had never lived. The Muslims and
Croats have demanded that the loophole be closed, while the Serbs insist
that it remain. The issue must be clarified by the end of January. --
Patrick Moore

LE PEN PRAISES BOSNIAN SERBS. Jean-Marie Le Pen of France's far-right
National Front continued his Balkan tour on 23 January by meeting with
the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale, AFP reported. He told Momcilo
Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian collective presidency: "I
have come to express to you the greetings of French patriots. All the
patriots of the world have in common a set of identical values which
makes us all a community of civilized men and women. People today no
longer know what attachment to the land and the country is. We
understand this very well." Krajisnik replied: "We very rarely hear such
words. Usually what we hear are criticisms." Le Pen was slated to return
to Belgrade on 24 January to sign a "political alliance" with the
Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj, who has been his host. --
Patrick Moore

CROATIAN INDEPENDENT RADIO KEEPS ITS LICENSE. Zagreb's Radio 101 won a
round in a prolonged legal battle with Croatian authorities on 24
January, Reuters reported. The station announced in a live broadcast:
"We got it! Radio 101 got its concession." The National
Telecommunications Council had informed Radio 101 that morning that its
license had been renewed. The authorities tried to take the station's
license away last November but backtracked when the largest crowds in
years turned out in central Zagreb in support of the station. Radio
101's fight is far from over, however: it must settle an alleged
"ownership dispute" by 31 October. The ruling Croatian Democratic
Community's government is generally intolerant of independent media, and
has hounded the few independent dailies and weeklies with lawsuits and
take-overs or driven them out of business. The government is
particularly tough with electronic media and allows no independent
television. Most independent radio stations besides Radio 101 broadcast
music and entertainment. -- Patrick Moore

ROMANIAN MILITARY CHIEFS REPLACED. Gen. Dumitru Cioflina, chief of the
General Staff, and Gen. Florentin Popa, chief of logistics, have been
replaced by Gen. Constantin Degeratu and Gen. Dan Zaharia, respectively,
Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea announced on 23 January. A government
press release said the replacements were in line with standing procedure
and reflected Romania's adherence to "democratic principles," while at
the same time praising the two dismissed officers, Romanian media
reported. Adrian Nastase, vice chairman of the previously ruling Party
of Social Democracy in Romania said the replacements were unexpected and
unjustified and had a "serious political motivation." In an interview
with Jurnalul National, Deputy Defense Minister Dudu Ionescu hinted that
Cioflina might be appointed Romania's representative to either NATO or
the UN. Meanwhile, Ion Diaconescu, leader of the main party in the
governing coalition, told Romanian television that the controversial
director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, Virgil Magureanu, will
not be replaced. -- Zsolt Mato

ROMANIAN STATE PROPERTY FUND RESHUFFLED. The Standing Bureau of the
Chamber of Deputies decided on 23 January to dismiss three members of
parliament appointed by the previous legislature from the State Property
Fund and to replace them with members representing the new governing
coalition. The fund has been accused of slowing down privatization,
mismanaging its assets, and selling undervalued state property to
cronies, proteges, and supporters of the former government. Adrian
Nastase, vice chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania,
protested against the decision, saying it was prompted by political
motives. Nastase's party colleagues and members of the Party of Romanian
National Unity walked out of the bureau meeting in protest, Romanian
television reported. -- Dan Ionescu

DNIESTER LEADER WANTS AGREEMENT WITH MOLDOVA UNCHANGED. Igor Smirnov,
leader of the breakaway Dniester Republic, insists that the memorandum
negotiated with Moldova be signed without any amendments, Infotag
reported on 23 January. In a message addressed to Moldovan President
Petru Lucinschi, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma, as well as to the head of the OSCE permanent mission in
Moldova, Smirnov said the memorandum should be signed in Moscow with
Russia and Ukraine acting as guarantors. He criticized the Moldovan
leadership for calling for revisions immediately after the document was
initialed by both parties on 17 June 1996. Smirnov accused Lucinschi of
reneging on his election campaign pledges to quickly sign the
memorandum, despite the fact that he had signed it in his former
position of chairman of the Moldovan parliament. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA'S PRESIDENT TO GIVE THE SOCIALISTS A MANDATE? In his first full
day in office, President Petar Stoyanov held separate meetings with
leaders of the opposition and the Bulgarian Socialist Party aimed at
finding a solution to the current political crisis, national and
international media reported. Both sides were reportedly entrenched in
their positions, with the Socialists demanding a mandate for a new
government and early elections at the end of 1997 and the opposition
pressing for immediate elections and a caretaker cabinet chosen by the
president. However, the opposition announced that Stoyanov would ask the
Socialists to form a cabinet before he leaves for Brussels on 28
January. Opposition groups and trade unions promised to call a general
strike on the day that happens. Meanwhile, a few Socialist deputies
proposed as a new variant: that Stoyanov give a mandate to a different
political group within the current parliament. BSP leader Georgy
Parvanov described that idea as an "improvisation" and promised to
solicit the opinion of the best constitutional experts in the country.
In other news, Bulgarian economic experts cited by Pari said obvious
signs of hyperinflation had emerged over the past two days. "Stores are
closing and people are not buying," Kontinent wrote on 24 January,
adding that thousands of vendors were on unpaid vacations and
distributors were not supplying stores with goods. -- Maria Koinova

ALBANIA BANS PYRAMID SCHEMES. The parliament voted unanimously on 23
January to ban pyramid investment schemes and announced that a draft law
concerning compensation for cheated investors will be discussed on 27
January. Police announced the arrest of 188 people including the leaders
of the collapsed companies Populli and Xhaferi, Bashkim Driza, and
Rapush Xhaferi, Albania reported. The new law went into force
immediately and calls for minimum 20 years imprisonment and the
confiscation of all property of people running such schemes. People
convicted of abetting them may receive 10-year sentences. Meanwhile, in
Shkoder, about 1,500 people gathered outside the town hall accusing the
government of failing to warn them about the risks of pyramid schemes,
while about 2,500 people turned out in Durres and several hundred in
Elbasan. Five leftist and rightist opposition parties in Durres have
jointly pledged to keep up protests, and the Socialist Party in Tirana
called for another demonstration there on 26 January. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION FIGURES ARRESTED. Police arrested several Socialist
and Social Democratic leaders on 23 January, charged them with
organizing a 19 January demonstration that the government branded
illegal, AFP reported. Those charged include Socialist Secretary-General
Rexhep Meidani, Social Democratic Chairman Skender Gjinushi, two other
Socialists, and seven other Social Democratic leaders. Human Rights
Watch/Helsinki said on 24 January it "condemns in the strongest terms
the use of violence by President Sali Berisha to silence anti-government
protest." The group reported that a man died in Fier on 19 January at a
demonstration violently broken up by police. Police claim he had a heart
attack. On 22 January, well-known dissident Edi Rama and two friends
were ambushed and severely beaten by two unidentified men, believed to
be secret police, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 24 January. -- Fabian
Schmidt
[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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