This is the true nature of home-- it is the place of Peace; the shelter, not only from injury, but from all terror, doubt and division. - John Ruskin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 23, Part II, 3 February 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

****NOTE TO READERS: On 2 April, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will
launch a daily news report, RFE/RL Newsline, on the countries of Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union. A successor to the RFE/RL Daily
Report and the OMRI Daily Digest, the new daily will nonetheless
represent a major departure from its predecessors. In addition to
analytic materials, RFE/RL Newsline will carry news gathered by the
correspondents, bureaus, and broadcast services of Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty. RFE/RL will disseminate this new publication both
electronically and via fax to all those now receiving the OMRI Daily
Digest and for the time being under the same terms.****

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY. Justice Minister
Serhii Holovaty said on 31 January that the government has asked the
parliament to abolish the death penalty, Reuters reported. The call for
a moratorium on executions and their replacement by life sentences was
prompted by the resolution adopted several days earlier by the Council
of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly threatening to suspend the
credentials of the Ukrainian and Russian delegations if their countries
continued executions. When it joined the CE in November 1995, Ukraine
had pledged to end the death penalty within three years. Holovaty said
in the first half of 1996, Ukraine, had executed 89 people. -- Saulius
Girnius

EU FACT-FINDING MISSION ENDS VISIT TO BELARUS. Representatives from the
European Union, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE completed a six-day
trip to Belarus on 31 January, Belapan reported. Their mission was to
collect information about the 24 November referendum and constitutional
reform in Belarus for a report on the country's human rights record to
be presented to the EU Council of Ministers on 24 February. Dutch
Council of State member and head of the mission Ari Kosto said that the
delegation had met with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, various
ministers, deputies of both the old and new parliaments, and
representatives of the opposition. The delegation came at the invitation
of Lukashenka, who expressed regret that his country's application for
membership in the Council of Europe had been put on hold. -- Saulius
Girnius

LATVIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER CHANGES PARTIES. Roberts Dilba on 31
January formally ended his affiliation with the Unity Party (LVP) and
was admitted to the Farmers' Union (LZS), BNS reported. As the only
minister from the LVP, Dilba had also served as deputy prime minister.
Dilba's decision was probably prompted by the suggestion by Prime
Minister Andris Skele that his new government would be formed without
the LVP. The LZS coalition with the Christian Democratic Union now has
10 deputies while the LVP was reduced to six. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA-SWEDEN INITIAL VISA FREE AGREEMENT. After three days of
negotiations in Stockholm on 31 January, Lithuanian and Swedish foreign
ministry delegations initialed treaties on the elimination of visa
requirements and the return of illegal migrants, BNS reported. The
agreements are expected to be signed during the visit of Prime Minister
Gediminas Vagnorius to Sweden in February and may go into effect as
early as 1 May. Lithuania has had visa free travel with Denmark and
Norway for several years, but Sweden would be the first Schengen country
to be accessible to Lithuanian citizens without visas. -- Saulius
Girnius

GREAT CORRUPTION AFFAIR IN POLAND. The Warsaw prosecutors office ended a
seven-year investigation of Boguslaw Bagsik, Andrzej Gasiorowski and
others, Polish dailies reported on 1 February. Bagsik, the main
defendant, is the former president of Art "B," a Poland-based holding
company established in 1988. Bagsik was extradited from Switzerland last
year and is in prison in Warsaw. Gasiorowski, his closest collaborator,
was accused in Israel of falsifying credit cards. Art "B" multiplied its
assets by receiving credit guarantees, enabling the company to obtain
other credits and then kiting--rapidly transferring large deposits from
one account to another, earning interest on both accounts. Bagsik and
Gasiorowski withdrew over $100 million from Polish banks and escaped
from Poland in 1991. -- Jakub Karpinski

STRIKES IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC. Trade unions representing Czech railroad
workers announced on 2 February that railroad workers will begin a 48-
hour strike today, Czech media reported. The unions are claiming that
the current management is not doing enough to modernize and restructure
the railroads and they want the government to step in. They also demand
higher wages. Meanwhile, Czech teachers continue holding strikes in
selected schools in an effort to push the government into agreeing to
higher wages for the educational sector. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PREMIER INSISTS ON BANK PRIVATIZATION. Speaking on Slovak Radio,
Vladimir Meciar said on 31 January that bank privatization is a
condition for OECD membership, and if Slovakia does not privatize its
four biggest financial institutions quickly, it will miss its chance to
join. A ban on bank privatization ends on 31 March, and Meciar hopes to
sell them to domestic industrial firms. Peter Weiss, deputy chairman of
the opposition Party of the Democratic Left, told TASR on 1 February his
party opposes hasty bank privatization. The sale of large banks to big
industrial firms would result in an enormous concentration of economic
and political power in the hands of a small group of people, he said.
Weiss pointed out that the World Bank and IMF recommended a delay in
Slovak bank privatization. He added that Poland and the Czech Republic--
both OECD members--are approaching bank privatization "very cautiously."
-- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN DAILY PUBLISHES REPORT ON PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION FINDINGS.
Tamas Deutsch, deputy of the opposition Young Democrats and chairman of
the parliamentary commission investigating the privatization scandal,
was furious when he learned the daily Nepszabadsag published a report on
1 February alleging the findings of the commission. Deutsch said the
daily's article contains a number of inaccuracies, and was probably
culled from several documents. The daily's analysis of an alleged
commission report assigns responsibility to several people at the
privatization agency but reveals little new evidence. Deutsch said the
aim of the leak was to divert attention from recent revelations that the
two coalition parties were implicated in the payments fiasco. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

POLICE VIOLENCE IN BELGRADE. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic
confronted Belgrade demonstrators with a massive show of police violence
beginning 2 February, local independent media reported. The
demonstrators are demanding recognition of the opposition wins from the
17 November municipal runoffs. Heavily armed riot police resorted to
beatings, tear gas, and dowsing protesters with water cannons.
Eyewitness reports, some describing the city as "a battleground," say it
was the most serious display of state aggression since 1991, when
Milosevic deployed tanks to put down anti-government demonstrations.
According to sources in the opposition Democratic Party, hundreds of
people--including foreign and local journalists singled out for attack--
were injured and scores arrested during the evening of 2-3 February.
Throughout the city, protesters hurled concrete slabs and lit fires in
the streets in an effort to halt police charges and water cannons. --
Stan Markotich

SERBIAN AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON OPPOSITION LEADERS. Leaders of the
Zajedno opposition coalition were among those seemingly targeted for an
attack during the continuing demonstrations in the country. Vesna Pesic,
head of Serbian Civic Alliance, was reportedly beaten about the hands,
feet and ribs. Speaking to Radio Index, she commented "I was lucky some
of the protesters tried to protect me. I suffered bruises but they saved
me from worse injuries." Pesic is now in hiding. Meanwhile, Serbian
Renewal Movement head Vuk Draskovic said he was pursued by plainclothes
policemen, and his car was shot at, Radio B92 reported. Draskovic also
went into hiding. He did, however, vow that protests would continue the
afternoon of 3 February, adding the time for "Ghandi-style resistance"
had passed and urged demonstrators to bring with them whatever they
needed to defend themselves, CNN reported. -- Stan Markotich

POLICE ARRESTS AFTER KOSOVO SHOOT-OUT. Serbian police arrested over 100
ethnic Albanians in Kosovo over the past week, according to the
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). The arrests reached a peak after
three ethnic Albanians were killed in a 31 January shoot-out with police
near Vucitrn. Senior LDK officials held an emergency meeting and called
the situation "extremely serious." They charged Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic with stirring tensions in order to divert attention
from the Belgrade opposition protests. Police later claimed those killed
belonged to the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). They also said that one of
them, identified as Zahor Pajaziti, was a top UCK official and added
that during raids, a large number of weapons, explosives, and maps of
public buildings and military facilities were seized. -- Fabian Schmidt

KARADZIC WARNS OF WAR OVER BRCKO . . . Former Bosnian Serb civilian
leader Radovan Karadzic told the Greek daily ElevtherosTypos: "If the
question of Brcko is not resolved, we will go to war again," AFP
reported on 2 February. In a rare interview, he also taunted NATO troops
for failing to arrest him for war crimes, saying he has so far escaped
detention "because I have 2,000 men who follow me everywhere, and if
[NATO tries to make an arrest], there will be at least 500 dead." U.S.
mediator Roberts Owen is slated to rule on the future of the strategic
town of Brcko on 15 February, which was the one territorial question not
settled in the Dayton agreement. Vice president of the mainly Croat and
Muslim federation Ejup Ganic is in Washington to lobby officials
regarding Brcko, and Republika Srpska Vice President Dragoljub Mirjanic
is due to arrive there shortly for the same purpose. -- Patrick Moore

. . . AS DOES BOSNIAN ARMY GENERAL. Gen. Sead Delic, commander of the
Muslim-led Bosnian Army's Second Corps, while visiting the disputed
northern town of Brcko, warned Bosnian Serbs that they faced more
fighting unless they let refugees return home, AFP reported on 1
February. Delic said the war was not finished as long as the people
cannot return home: that was not a threat but the only way to achieve
what they fought for. Meanwhile, a UN-supervised convoy of Muslim
refugees, who were supposed to return to their homes in Croat-held
Stolac, was blocked on 31 January by a group of about 300 to 400 Croat
civilians. A human wall of women and children blocked the way and Muslim
refugees were kept in the coach during a one-hour standoff. It is the
second set-back for UN efforts to help Muslim refugees to return to
their homes. -- Daria Sito Sucic

INCIDENTS CONTINUE IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. An explosive device on 1
February damaged a track near the town of Vukovar on the railroad
recently reopened by the UN to connect Croatia's government-controlled
territory with the Serb-held region of eastern Slavonia, international
and local agencies reported. The same day a hand grenade was thrown in
front of a Croatian pension payment office in village of Jankovci,
injuring none and causing only slight damage, Hina reported. The agency
also reported a hand grenade was thrown at the house of a non-Serb in
the town of Negoslavci, but no one was injured. Explosions took place a
day after a Belgian corporal serving with the UN force in eastern
Slavonia was shot and killed by a young Serb. A Jordanian soldier and a
civilian UN official were also wounded, and a suspect detained. The
incidents began following the UN Security Council endorsement of a
Croatian government letter of intent for reintegration of eastern
Slavonia on 31 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

FRANJO TUDJMAN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT? The Croatian president said on 31
January in an interview with CNN that his health was satisfactory enough
to run for president in elections later this year, and that he would
step down if he lost. "But there is no chance that I and the (ruling)
Croatian Democratic Community could lose. We have the support of the
majority of the people," Tudjman said. He downplayed reports that he was
seriously ill with stomach cancer. Tudjman also dismissed the
possibility that war criminals wanted by the Hague-based tribunal were
hiding in Croatia. Commenting on evictions of Muslims from the Croat-
held part of the divided town of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tudjman
blamed "extremists on both sides," but that Muslims were more to blame.
-- Daria Sito Sucic

DEAN OF TETOVO UNIVERSITY RELEASED FROM PRISON. Fadil Sulejmani, dean of
the illegal Tetovo Albanian-language university, was released on
probation from prison on 1 February. Sulejmani was sentenced last July
to two and a half years in prison for stirring unrest during the
February 1995 riots surrounding the university. In an interview with
Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service, Sulejmani said that Tetovo
university is a reality that the Macedonian authorities can no longer
ignore. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIA LAUNCHES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE. President Emil Constantinescu's
visit to Brussels today is aimed at promoting Romania's membership in
the European Community and NATO. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said
in Davos, Switzerland--where Constantinescu had met with several heads
of state before arriving in Brussels--that Romania should not be allowed
to join NATO before the signing of a basic Ukrainian/Romanian treaty.
Constantinescu confirmed that NATO's position is the same and Romania
was willing to accept that demand. Ending a one-day visit to Romania,
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum told Reuters on 1
February that the elections in Romania demonstrated "political
maturity," which "bodes well for relations with the U.S., and for
Romania's quest to join NATO and other Euro-Atlantic structures." But he
stopped short of backing the Romanian application. -- Zsolt Mato

CIUBUC ON MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES. At a press conference in
Chisinau on 30 January, Premier Ion Ciubuc said he intends to break the
energy sector monopoly in order to overcome the existing crisis, BASA-
press reported on next day. He also said he would reconsider Moldova's
possible participation in the Cernavoda Romanian nuclear power station
project. Asked whether he would adopt a pro-Moscow stance to get energy
deliveries from Russia, Ciubuc replied that he was "a pro-Moldovan
official" who "will do his best to have good relations with Romania,
Ukraine, and Russia." He denied statements by a spokesman for President
Petru Lucinschi that a World Bank loan of $80 million would be used
exclusively to pay off salary and pension arrears and said the
government would first try to mobilize domestic resources and only
afterward to make use of foreign loans in order to lessen that debt. --
Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN MILITARY ASSETS TO BE SOLD. Presidential spokesman Andrei
Turcanu said Moldovan authorities intend to sell off some of the
country's military equipment to partly finance salary and pension
arrears. The Defense Ministry declined from commenting, but BASA-press
reported on 31 January that most likely, MiG-29 planes, which cannot be
used by the Moldovan air force, will be sold. The Moldovan government
already sold off such planes three years ago. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN POLITICAL DEADLOCK CONTINUES . . . The Bulgarian Socialist
Party (BSP) looks set to announce a new Socialist government on 3
February after its offer for talks on a coalition government was
rejected by the opposition the previous day, RFE/RL reported. BSP
Chairman Georgi Parvanov said that if no coalition government is formed,
the Socialists will name a new government on 3 February and present it
to the parliament for a vote of confidence the next day. The Union of
Democratic Forces demanded that the BSP give up the mandate to form a
government before talks begin. President Petar Stoyanov said he can not
broker talks as long as the Socialists hold the mandate. The BSP's
premier-designate, current Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev, on 31
January proposed that Stoyanov name a broad coalition government and
said he was willing to give up his mandate. On 2 February, the BSP
leadership met to discuss the formation of a new government. -- Stefan
Krause

. . . AS DO PROTESTS. As the political deadlock ensued, protests
continued throughout Bulgaria over the weekend, reaching their 28th
consecutive day on 2 February, RFE/RL and Reuters reported. The blockade
of the main road and rail link from Sofia to Greece continued for a
fifth day in Dupnitsa. Police reportedly tried to break the blockade on
1 February. Opposition leaders said people were beaten, while the police
denied the use of violence. Duma on 3 February alleged that "40 Canadian
businessmen" and Bulgarian tennis coach Yuliya Berberyan paid the
protesters a total of $20,000. Students blocked the main roads leading
into Sofia. Protesters also briefly blocked the exit of Bulgaria's
biggest oil refinery, Neftochim in Burgas. Thousands demonstrated in
Sofia and other towns. Public transport workers in Sofia went on strike
on 3 February. Dock workers in Burgas and Varna are expected to go on
strike the same day. -- Stefan Krause

MORE PROTESTS IN ALBANIA. Despite a government ban, anti-government
demonstrations went ahead on 2 February in Tirana near the Dynamo
stadium. The demonstration was organized by the Union of Independent
Trade Unions, headed by well-known gadfly Azem Hajdari. Police
reinforcements were brought in to block off several main roads. Hajdari,
who was recently expelled from the ruling Democratic Party, demanded the
resignation of Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi. He also said his
brother, Hikmete Daje, who is also the secretary general of the union,
were arrested, adding that "they are putting pressure on my family and I
am receiving threats," AFP reported. The opposition organized two other
protest marches in Durres and Lezha. About 300 Albanians demonstrated in
front of the Albanian embassy in Athens, Deutsche Welle's Albanian-
language service reported. Following last week's clashes, police have
arrested about 150 people. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Valentina Huber

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