If there is anyone listening to whom I owe money, I'm prepared to forget it if you are. - Errol Flynn
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 18, Part II, 27 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

OPPOSITION RALLIES IN MINSK. Some 5,000 people on 25 January
participated in an opposition rally to demonstrate support for the
popular movements in Serbia and Bulgaria, ITAR-TASS reported. The
Belarusian Popular Front demanded early parliamentary elections and
called on supporters to resist the authorities' attempts to restrict
freedoms. It also accused Russia of trying to "occupy Belarus." Shouting
anti-Russian slogans, demonstrators marched to the Russian Embassy
building, which had been placed under heavy guard. Although the rally
was not officially sanctioned, there were no serious clashes with the
police. Meanwhile, a special mission composed of representatives of the
EU, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE has begun its work in the
Belarusian capital, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 January. The mission is to
study the political situation in Belarus, focusing on the November
referendum that increased President Aleksandr Lukashenka's powers. --
Sergei Solodovnikov

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER URGES CLEAR STANCE ON NATO. Oleksander
Moroz has urged the parliament to take an official position on NATO
expansion and the deployment of nuclear arms on the territory of new
member countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 January. He complained about
the often divergent opinions among politicians over Ukraine's possible
membership in NATO at a time when a "a complicated process of re-
evaluating the idea of NATO expansion is under way worldwide." Moroz's
comments followed Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko's visit last week
to Geneva, where he said non-affiliated Ukraine is not planning to join
NATO. Earlier this month, Security Council Chairman Volodymyr Horbulin
suggested Ukraine might join NATO by 2010. In other news, the parliament
has ratified an international convention on torture and other violations
of human rights, meeting one of the conditions for Council of Europe
membership, Ukrainian Radio reported on 24 January. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER: DISMISSAL OF CRIMEAN GOVERNMENT UNLAWFUL.
Serhii Holovaty has said the Crimean parliament contravened the
Ukrainian constitution by voting to oust the peninsula's government,
Ukrainian media reported on 25 January. He noted that the Ukrainian
constitution contains no provision allowing the Crimean parliament to
suspend the powers of the Crimean government. The Crimean parliament on
23 January voted to dismiss the government and ordered the formation of
a new Council of Ministers. Crimean Prime Minister Arkadii Demidenko has
said the move was aimed at redistributing power and property and paving
the way for new elections. He has appealed to Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma to overrule the Crimean parliament's decision. -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

FURTHER DISCUSSIONS ON NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. President Guntis Ulmanis
on 25 January discussed the formation of a new government with the five
smallest caucuses in the Saeima, BNS reported. Parliamentary
representatives of the Latvia's National Independence Party, For People
and Justice, and the coalition of the Farmers Union and Christian
Democrats expressed support for Andris Skele's re-nomination as prime
minister, but For Latvia representatives said they would vote against a
Skele government. The largest caucuses--Latvia's Way, For the Fatherland
and Freedom, and Democratic Party Saimnieks--met the same day but
declined to make a public statement about their talks. -- Saulius
Girnius

POLISH LEGISLATURE ADOPTS 1997 BUDGET. The Sejm on 25 January approved
the 1997 budget by a vote of 287 to 123 with 14 abstentions, Polish
media reported. The budget foresees a 5.7% growth in GDP, compared with
6% in 1996, and a 13% inflation rate (18.5% last year). It also provides
for a 2.8% budget deficit and a 5.5% increase in real terms in public
sector wages. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said that with this
budget, Poland will remain one of the fastest developing countries in
the world. The opposition, meanwhile, accused the government of
deliberately giving low figures for budget revenues so that it can use
additional funds to "buy" votes for the fall parliamentary elections. --
Beata Pasek

CZECH POLITICAL UPDATE. Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) Chairman Jan
Kalvoda on 25 January announced he will not seek re-election at the
party congress in March, Czech media reported. Kalvoda recently resigned
from his government posts following reports that he had falsely claimed
to have a doctorate. Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy, one of
the most popular politicians in the country, has also said he will not
run for the ODA chairmanship. Meanwhile, the Central Committee of the
Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) has rejected a proposal by a group
of party members to recall CSSD Deputy Chairman Milan Machovec, who is
considered a political opponent of party chairman Milos Zeman. However,
the committee has expelled Jozef Wagner, another opponent of Zeman, for
a second time. Wagner was recently stripped of his party membership but
was subsequently re-admitted by a local party organization. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK RULING PARTY ON TIMING OF NEXT ELECTIONS. The Republican Council
of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 25 January proposed
that the next parliamentary elections be held in early July 1998,
instead of the fall, TASR reported. HZDS Deputy Chairwoman Olga
Keltosova said this would give the party more time to prepare for the
local elections, which are scheduled for fall 1998. She added that talks
on the timing of the elections should be held within the ruling
coalition and also with opposition parties. Meanwhile, the HZDS is
waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on the opposition's
proposal for a referendum on direct presidential elections. Keltosova
said that if such a referendum takes place, the HZDS will consider
giving further powers to the next president and possibly changing the
length of his term in office. She added that the HZDS will seek to hold
a referendum on joining NATO in May since "more than 70% of voters" are
in favor of such a vote. -- Anna Siskova

STRONG CRITICISM OF HUNGARIAN SOCIALIST PLAN FOR QUICK SETTLEMENT TO
GABCIKOVO DISPUTE. Representatives of opposition parties and civil
organizations, meeting in Budapest this weekend, rejected the ruling
Socialists' bid to secure an out-of-court settlement of the Gabcikovo
dispute, Hungarian dailies reported on 27 January. The government, which
is holding secret negotiations with Slovakia, is divided over the issue,
since the junior coalition Free Democrats argue that the dispute should
be settled at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Meanwhile, Hungarian environmental organizations have submitted a
compromise plan to The Hague. They have also sent a letter urging the
court to rule that nations do not have the right to destroy eco-systems,
since rivers and forests are not their sole property. They warn that the
Slovaks' unilateral re-routing of the Danube has caused a significant
deterioration of the Szigetkoz region's eco-system, pointing out that
two-thirds of the neighboring population have had to flee. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

RIOTS THROUGHOUT ALBANIA . . . Demonstrators clashed with police in
towns throughout the country over the weekend as they protested the
recent collapse of pyramid schemes, international media reported.
Hundreds of thousands of Albanians have reportedly lost their life
savings because of the collapse. Around 30,000 people rallied in Tirana
on 26 January. Police fired pistol shots into the air when some 3,000
protesters tried to advance toward the parliament. Eighty-four policemen
were reported injured, some seriously. About 30 people were arrested.
The Democratic Party headquarters and government buildings were torched
in Korca, Fier, and Vlora, while protesters set fire to the building of
the oil company Albpetrol in Patos. On 25 January, demonstrators blocked
the main north-south highway. Meanwhile, 230 rioting inmates at the
Barwhor prison near Kavaja tried to burn down the prison; two prisoners
died in clashes with the police in the night from 26-27 January. Justice
Minister Kristofer Peci claimed the situation had returned to normal by
early this morning. -- Fabian Schmidt

. . . WHILE PARLIAMENT CALLS IN MILITARY. The parliament on 26 January
gave President Sali Berisha special powers to deploy military units to
restore law and order, international media reported. "A limited number
of army units will be temporarily engaged alongside police forces to
protect state and public institutions and to ensure the free flow of
traffic on national roads," a parliamentary statement said. But Foreign
Minister and Democratic Party Chairman Tritan Shehu, who was attacked at
a demonstration in Tirana the previous day, said the parliament's
decision has "nothing to do with a state of emergency." The army has
been put on alert in Tirana to guard ministries, the central bank, and
other strategic buildings. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi
has told the demonstrators that they will get their money back beginning
in early February. Authorities have seized around $300 million from two
pyramid scheme accounts, but that sum is unlikely to cover all losses.
Another mass demonstration is scheduled to take place in Shkoder today.
-- Fabian Schmidt

POLITICAL DEADLOCK IN BULGARIA CONTINUES. President Petar Stoyanov on 24
January held talks with leaders of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party
(BSP) and the opposition in an attempt to resolve the country's
political crisis, RFE/RL reported. Stoyanov said no agreement is
possible unless both sides become far more flexible, and he called the
BSP's demands "very difficult" for the opposition to accept. BSP leader
Georgi Parvanov said his party will agree to a "non-Socialist, broad-
based" government that can take over until December 1997--provided that
government is headed by BSP premier-designate Nikolay Dobrev, who is
currently interior minister. On 26 January, Stoyanov had separate
meeting with BSP and opposition leaders. Meanwhile, thousands of people
took part in anti-BSP rallies over the weekend to demand new
parliamentary elections. The Confederation of Labor Podkrepa has
announced it will stage strikes in 14 cities, including Sofia. -- Stefan
Krause

BELGRADE DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE. By about 7:30 a.m. local time on 27
January, an estimated 300,000 demonstrators had taken to Belgrade
streets in response to a call by Orthodox Church leaders, Reuters
reported. The elderly Patriarch Pavle headed the demonstration, along
with some two dozen priests, to mark Saint Sava's day. Earlier, police
withdrew the cordon around downtown Belgrade, allowing some 50,000
students and others to march along the city's main streets. These latest
developments follow a weekend of low-level violence in the capital and
other Serbian cities. Meanwhile, Vojislav Seselj, ultranationalist
leader of the Serbian Radical Party, has met in Belgrade with members of
the Russian State Duma. Commenting on the mass demonstrations, Seselj
told the government-controlled Vecernje novosti that "the leaders of
[the opposition coalition Zajedno] are serving the West, contrary to the
interests of their own people..., while the demonstrators march under
foreign flags." -- Stan Markotich

MORE VIOLENCE AGAINST MUSLIMS TRYING TO GO HOME. Bosnian Serb crowds on
25 January attacked Muslims who were attempting to deliver construction
materials and otherwise help families seeking to return to the village
of Gajevi just inside Serb-held territory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24
January 1997). Some 100 men armed with crowbars attacked and injured
Semsudin Mujic, who was driving a tractor hauling prefabricated building
materials, AFP wrote. The attackers stole some of those materials. A
Muslim witness said that SFOR soldiers stood by and watched the beatings
but did nothing. U.S. spokesperson Sgt. Marianne Mirabella said,
however, that "security in the Republika Srpska is surely not the
responsibility of SFOR. That's the responsibility of Republika Srpska
police. They ought to be ashamed." The Muslim families are seeking to
exercise their right under the Dayton agreement to go home. They have
been vetted under a system supervised by the UN and agreed to by all
sides. -- Patrick Moore

MUSLIM-CROAT TENSIONS CONTINUE. The Croatian member of the Bosnian
presidency, Kresimir Zubak, accused the Muslims of still harboring
foreign Islamic fighters, AFP reported on 25 January. In further
evidence of friction between the nominal allies, Federal Deputy Minister
Drago Bilandzija, a Croat, told Oslobodjenje that the State Directorate-
-a major public-sector company--is laundering money and evading taxes on
a grand scale. He himself has been accused of corruption by Muslim Prime
Minister Edhem Bicakcic. Increasingly, public tensions threaten to split
the shaky coalition between the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA)
and the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). Leaders of the two parties,
meeting over the weekend, issued an 11-point program aimed at
harmonizing their relationship, Oslobodjenje wrote on 27 January.
According to that text, the presidency and vice presidency of the
federation will rotate annually between Croats and Muslims. The
president for 1997 will be a Croat. -- Patrick Moore

FORMER BOSNIAN SERB LEADER DIES. Nikola Koljevic (60) died on 25 January
in the Belgrade military hospital as a result of a suicide attempt in
Pale on 16 January, AFP said, quoting Tanjug. As a vice president of the
Republika Srpska, he had helped negotiate the Dayton agreement. But he
had been pushed to the political sidelines by the Bosnian Serb
leadership after the 14 September elections. He became depressed as a
result of this treatment, as he himself made clear in a suicide note
left for his family (see Pursuing Balkan Peace, 21 January 1997). --
Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON MUSLIM-CROAT RELATIONS. Jadranko Prlic on 24
January met with his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, to discuss
worsened relations between Muslims and Croats in the Bosnian Federation,
international media reported. Prlic attributed that development to the
increasing harassment of Muslims in Mostar and differences over issues
such as defense, AFP reported. But he added "there is no problem that
cannot be resolved with dialogue." Both officials agreed that the
Federation Forum--over which U.S. envoy to Bosnia-Herzegovina John
Cornblum is to preside--should convene "as soon as possible." Prlic also
met Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak to discuss Croatia's
assistance in training the Bosnian federal army, Dnevni Avaz reported on
27 January. The ministers discussed bilateral cooperation in preventing
border incidents and implementing an agreement on sub-regional weapons
control. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION PAYS TAXES FOLLOWING EVASION CHARGES.
The Croatian office of the international humanitarian organization
sponsored by George Soros has paid $500,000 in taxes one month after
Croatian financial police charged the office with tax evasion, Reuters
reported on 25 January. Office executive director Srdjan Dvornik said
the taxes had been paid in order to prevent further problems in Croatia.
He added that the foundation will appeal to get the money back once the
police has sent the conclusions of its investigation. State-run
television commented that by paying the taxes, the foundation has
admitted it violated the law. Croatian financial police stormed the
Zagreb premises of the organization in December and claimed to have
found evidence of " financial malpractice." -- Daria Sito Sucic

NEW GOVERNMENT IN SLOVENIA. Janez Drnovsek, prime minister-designate and
leader of the Liberal Democrats (LDS), on 24 January announced he has
formed a new government, Radio Slovenija reported. Talks between the LDS
and the three conservative Slovenian Spring parties--which have 44 of
the 90 parliamentary seats--broke down earlier this month. Drnovsek said
he has forged a coalition with the former communist United List of
Social Democrats and several minor parties, resulting in a one-seat
majority. He said the LDS will have nine portfolios, the former
Communists five, and two minor parties one seat each. The agriculture
and justice portfolios still have to be filled. Drnovsek may attempt to
extend an olive branch to the Slovenian Spring parties with offers of
those two posts. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN ROUNDUP. The Executive Bureau of the Party of Social Democracy
in Romania on 25 January said it will propose a "political and social
pact" at a meeting later this week with President Emil Constantinescu,
Radio Bucharest reported. The bureau said it was "concerned" about what
it called the new government's "political purges." It asked the
president to use his influence over the governing coalition to put an
end to the firings and hirings among the heads of state institutions.
Meanwhile, a Bucharest appeals court on 24 January rejected Miron
Cozma's request for bail, Radio Bucharest reported. Cozma is being
detained on charges of "undermining state authority" by helping organize
the miners' rampages in the Romanian capital in 1990 and 1991. Cozma's
lawyer said after the ruling that he was dropping the case because of a
"work overload." Miners held protest rallies earlier this month to
demand Cozma's release on bail. -- Zsolt Mato

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. The legislature on 24
January approved Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc's government and its program,
international agencies reported. Valeriu Pasat, former ambassador to
Moscow, has been appointed defense minister. He is the first-ever
civilian to be appointed to that post. Communist Mihai Plamadeala is the
new interior minister, while Tudor Botnaru, former ambassador to
Belgium, takes over the national security portfolio. Ciubuc said the
government will restructure the economy, reduce budget expenditures, and
launch privatization in energy and agriculture sectors. Meanwhile,
following a meeting of work teams in Chisinau on 23 January, Moldova and
the Dniester republic agreed to step up negotiations to find a
settlement to the ongoing conflict, Infotag reported. -- Dan Ionescu

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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